Run Your Race With… part 3

#3  Run With Purpose

We must run with purpose.  We must run toward something, have a goal, something we are striving to reach, to obtain.  In real life, in running, we may strive to run for 5 more minutes, to reach that next mailbox, to be 1 minute faster than before, to finish.
“You may have heard the story of John Stephen Akhwari, the marathon runner from Tanzania who finished last at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. No last-place finisher in a marathon ever finished quite so last. Injured along the way, he hobbled into the stadium with his leg bloodied and bandaged. It was more than an hour after the rest of the runners had completed the race. Only a few spectators were left in the stands when Akhwari finally crossed the finish line.  When asked why he continued to run despite the pain, Akhwari replied, “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me here to finish.”
http://odb.org/2003/04/29/keep-running/

That is how we grow, how we get stronger, we have a purpose and we try our hardest to reach it, to run toward it, we strive to finish no matter what!   Spiritually we have a purpose too!

Romans 8:28-30 Our purpose is His purpose, it is to be conformed into the image of the Son of God.

We must run with that purpose, to spend each day trying to be even closer to that image.

The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him.”   (Joseph Stowell,Fan The Flame, Moody, 1986, p. 32.   http://www.thegracetabernacle.org/quotes/Perseverance-Exemplified.htm)


We want to run in such a way our light never goes out.  That we keep His light shining our whole lives and we keep l
iving each day reaching for the ultimate goal of spending eternity with Him. We must run to win.  We can’t run half way, we can’t be lukewarm.  We can’t live the way we want, life for self and try to have a little church on the side, but fully!

1 Cor. 9:24 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. “

In running or any sport, do you go out expecting to lose? Do you go out knowing you are not going to give your all?  No we always go out to win!

We must run with purpose, not with uncertainty, but with discipline and in subjection to Christ.  1 Cor. 9:26-27 “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

One key to running is realizing that it is a process.  We run with a purpose, with a goal we want to obtain in our sights, but we must realize who we are, in that we are not perfect and we can’t expect to be overnight!

Phil. 3:12-14Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul wrote that he had not already obtained, that he wasn’t perfected.  Paul!!  This man who has seen so much, who has lived such a life as he did, knew he wasn’t there yet!  We need that attitude. Knowing we are going to press on, keep going, keep trying to reach for it, letting go of the weights, letting go of the past, not letting it keep us down.

I want to share another story with you of someone who ran with purpose!  A purpose of proving that even when everyone said he couldn’t, He knew he could!

The Legend of Cliff Young: The 61 Year Old Farmer Who
Won the World’s Toughest Race

Every year, Australia hosts 543.7-mile endurance racing from Sydney to Melbourne. It is considered among the world’s most grueling ultra-marathons. The race takes five days to complete and is normally only attempted by world-class athletes who train specially for the event. These athletes are typically less than 30 years old and backed by large companies such as Nike.

In 1983, a man named Cliff Young showed up at the start of this race. Cliff was 61 years old and wore overalls and work boots. To everyone’s shock, Cliff wasn’t a spectator. He picked up his race number and joined the other runners.

The press and other athletes became curious and questioned Cliff. They told him, “You’re crazy, there’s no way you can finish this race.” To which he replied, “Yes I can. See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or tractors, and the whole time I was growing up, whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep on 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d always catch them. I believe I can run this race.”

When the race started, the pros quickly left Cliff behind. The crowds and television audience were entertained because Cliff didn’t even run properly; he appeared to shuffle. Many even feared for the old farmer’s safety.

All of the professional athletes knew that it took about 5 days to finish the race. In order to compete, one had to run about 18 hours a day and sleep the remaining 6 hours. The thing is, Cliff Young didn’t know that!

When the morning of the second day came, everyone was in for another surprise. Not only was Cliff still in the race, he had continued jogging all night.

Eventually Cliff was asked about his tactics for the rest of the race. To everyone’s disbelief, he claimed he would run straight through to the finish without sleeping.

Cliff kept running. Each night he came a little closer to the leading pack. By the final night, he had surpassed all of the young, world-class athletes. He was the first competitor to cross the finish line and he set a new course record.

When Cliff was awarded the winning prize of $10,000, he said he didn’t know there was a prize and insisted that he did not enter for the money. He ended up giving all of his winnings to several other runners, an act that endeared him to all of Australia.

In the following year, Cliff entered the same race and took 7th place. Not even a displaced hip during the race stopped him.

Cliff came to prominence again in 1997, aged 76, when he attempted to raise money for homeless children by running around Australia’s border. He completed 6,520 kilometers of the 16,000-kilometer run before he had to pull out because his only crew member became ill. Cliff Young passed away in 2003 at age 81.

Today, the “Young-shuffle” has been adopted by ultra-marathon runners because it is considered more energy-efficient. At least three champions of the Sydney to Melbourne race have used the shuffle to win the race. Furthermore, during the Sydney to Melbourne race, modern competitors do not sleep. Winning the race requires runners to go all night as well as all day, just like Cliff Young.

http://www.elitefeet.com/the-legend-of-cliff-young
He had a goal and knew what he wanted to do! He wanted to prove he could finish.  He didn’t let distractions stop him.  He didn’t let other people saying he couldn’t do it stop him.  He didn’t let “you’re doing it different from everyone else” or “you will never make it if you run that way” stop him from doing what he knew would get him to his goal!  He ran a purpose and was surprised a the end to discover there was a big prize!  We know there’s a prize and must fun to obtain it!

I really enjoyed this topic and I hope you have been enjoying my notes.

Tiffany

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Run Your Race With… part 2

#2  Run With Direction! 

Proverbs 3:5-6  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

Direction is something we all want.  The unknown is scary, but God is already there and with Him directing our paths, we can rest assured we are in good hands!

He isn’t going to give us a road map that says turn left, go past the big red barn, but He does give us directions in His word for how to live. If we are living our lives according to those directions it will help us in making the right decisions for the choices in our lives that will send us down the right paths.

He has written it in such a way as to make it understandable. Hab. 2:2 “Then the Lord answered me and said:  “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.” 

God’s word and what He asks of us is not meant to hinder us and slow us down, but give us a boost!  He wants us to run our race without any weight burdening us and slowing us down.

In our key verse today Heb. 12:1  we can follow the paths of that “great cloud of witnesses”  all those in His word that have gone on before us, that have already traveled the path we are trying to follow.  We can learn from them!  Those who were mentioned in Heb 11.

The path we are taking is the narrow way,Matt. 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

This verse teaches us a very important lesson!  We have to look for the narrow path in order to find it! We need those directions from God, we can’t just hope to get there.  We must be ready to find it!

God our Father wants us to find it! Prov. 4:11-15 “I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. 12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, And when you run, you will not stumble. 13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life. 14 Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil. 15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on.

Prov. 4:18  “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.”

The way of God will not lead us into darkness, only into light!  Does that mean bad things will not happen to us, unfortunately no, we live in a cursed world.  It does mean however that if we are walking in the light we know there is a better and brighter end awaiting!

Run Your Race With…

I hope you enjoyed the notes from my first session of the youth day.  I am posting the second session notes starting today. Same idea, the lesson was focused on Hebrews 12:1-2 “run with endurance.” I looked what it takes to run successfully and the first part of the lesson was to run your race with…

#1 Endurance!

This is a hard one!  Literally! To keep going when everything seems to be too hard, when it is crashing in around you. When you are so tired and hurt that all you want to do is stop, it takes so much to keep going, to push forward!  Your body reaches a point where you wonder if you can make that next step.  Our race is a marathon, not a sprint!  And sometimes it can feel more like an obstacle course! It is the same way spiritually.  We reach points in our lives when we wonder if we can go on.  When we question whether our sins are too bad to be forgiven?  Something bad is happening in our lives and we wonder why God doesn’t take it away.  We feel defeated.

We have an ultimate example of what it means to endure, what it means to give everything you have and never stop.  Heb. 12: 1-3  “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of ourfaith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
We are to consider Him and all He endured for us when we want to give up.  To remember His sacrifice and all it cost Him when we are struggling to move forward, to understand.

Christ is our example!  But it is impossible to endure if we are weighted down with sin, doubt, distractions.  Things that will only hold us down and make us slow and unsteady on our feet.

Jesus warned against the dangers of distractions, of being deeply rooted so we would be able to endure the tribulation and persecutions in this world in His parable of the sower/soil.  Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23  If we aren’t rooted in God and have the purpose that we are going to live for Him it will be so hard to endure!  We must be like Daniel who purposed in his heart that he was going to live for God no matter what came his way.  (Daniel 1:8)

We must be careful not to let things of this world distract us and get us off course.  We must remember though we are in this world it is temporary, with all its problems and distractions and we must try not to get tangled up in them.
2 Timothy 2:3-4  “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” 

David tells us to keep going til the end!  He wasn’t going to give up because life wasn’t going his way, wasn’t easy, there were giants in his way!
Psalm 119:32-33  “I will run the course of Your commandments,For You shall enlarge my heart. Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.”

We must remember we are not perfect.  We are not going to run perfectly. We are going to stumble and fall at times, but we must get up.  We must keep going for Him!  We must press on!
Phil. 3:12 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

The key to enduring what ever this life throws at us and keep living for Christ… Love!

1 Cor. 13:4-7 “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

We can endure all thinks with Love for God and knowing His great love for us!

Hope you enjoyed the first part of this lesson! Watch out the next few days for the remainder of it!

In Him,
Tiffany

Deflated Balloon

Have you ever had one of those days?  You know, where things start out great, good, regular, normal… but then events begin that slowly let out your air.  That has been my day.  It started out normal, with hopes for it to be a good day, but one phone call, one text after the next slowly began to wear me down until I was in tears, feeling so defeated, so deflated.

My balloon was full this morning.  I had plans, goals set, things I expected to accomplish.  Then there was this little snag, not enough to pop it completely, but just to create this tiny leak.  A small tear that made me feel inadequate,  a blunder I made that was brought to my attention,  that made me feel bad for my mistake.  An error that I had to take time and try to repair.

Then next thing I know, the balloon is snagged again.  Something else happened and air began leaking out more quickly until there was no air left. News we had been waiting to hear not only didn’t come, but what did come in its place was not good news and bad news, but bad news and worse news!  It is days like this that I am so glad I have my faith.  Knowing I have a loving Savior who cares for me, who is holding me up and knows and cares when I hurt, when I cry, helps me get through.

Days like today remind me to lean on Him, look to Him, depend on Him.  When I am deflated I can only be lifted by Him. No eartlhy bandaid can lift my spirits the way He can!  God knows what I need.  In His caring for me we had some unexpected guests show up.  A couple from church, a wonderful part of our Christian family, showed up out of the blue bearing a gift of vegetable soup and hugs!  They didn’t know about my deflated balloon. They didn’t know about our bad day.  It just so happened that their day, their plans changed and they stopped by for just a few minutes! They stopped by enough to lift our spirits and give us hope and help us get through a rough day!  I thank God for His Son who blesses us continually and I thank Him for the wonderful family He has blessed us with here at Three Forks!!

I know things will get better.  I know our days will look up and He will care for us. I know we have family surrounding us who cares for us.  So even when the world tries to take the air out of our balloon, I know God will always be there to pick us up and set us flying again!!

Whew I Made It!

Wow!  What a great day!!  It finally came and I am so happy.  Today was the youth day at Center church of Christ and that means today was the day I spoke for the first time for a youth day!  I loved it, but I was so incredibly nervous.

The first session I felt so bad, so nervous, so sick to my stomach. I tried to calm myself. I knew so many of the faces before me, I knew we were all there because of our love for God and that meant I had nothing to fear standing there. But I was still nervous.  Getting past the first session though was a big relief.  The rest of the day seemed to go by so much smoother. I relaxed and really started to enjoy myself.  I hope everyone else did as well.

I really want to thank all those at Center for inviting Nick and myself to be a part of this event and for all their effort in preparing for this day.  Thank you for the great food and the cool t-shirts!  I want to thank my class for being so attentive and helping me more than they will ever know in getting through this event! Thank you to the members of our Three Forks family who came out to support us and Center!!  I want to send a big thank you to my dad and step mom for getting up super early to make the hour plus drive up here today to watch our kiddos so we could go have this experience!   I want to most of all thank my Lord for helping me through the day! It is by Him that I had this opportunity and through Him that I made it and I hope I taught His word in such a way that uplifted those in class and maybe offered someone something that they could use in their life.

The theme today was “Run With Endurance” based off of the key verses Hebrews 12:1-2.  I enjoyed the theme and hope God blesses all who were there! I will be posting my notes over the past few days if anyone is interested!

Nerves

A few months back (on my original blog) I had a post about new chances.  My husband had received and email asking him to speak at a youth day.  This was nothing new, my husband is a preacher and is often getting invitations to guest speak for other congregations.  This email asked something different as well.  It asked if I would be willing to give the lessons for the teen girls at this youth day!!

Oh my!!  I was so excited about the offer and so nervous at the same time.  I teach our ladies class here at Three Forks on a monthly basis.  I teach Sunday School classes regularly.  But I have only taught teenagers once!! It was for one quarter, on a Wednesday night, and there were only a handful of students in class.  This is for 2 lessons in one day to a roomful of teens and its finally here, it is this Saturday!  My nerves are really starting to kick in!

I have worked and worked on my lesson.  The theme for the day is “Run With Endurance”  based around Hebrews 12:1-2,  “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  This makes it a little easier for me.  I used to run, a lot, this verse has always been special to me.

I will be sure to post next week about how the day went, and may even post up a version of my lessons.  Pray for the day.  Pray for everyone in attendance to have open hearts and a great day! Pray for my husband and I to give lessons that are uplifting and that the teens can take something away from for the day. Pray for us to teach God’s word in His truth and Spirit.  (And please say a prayer for my nerves and that I can relax enough not to speak so fast I run through my hour-long lesson in 10 minutes!!)

Women of Worth

(Reposting from my orginal blog that was lost – original post date Oct. 11, 2011)

A woman is an interesting character. She can appear strong while crumbling on the inside. She can do ten things at once and still remember to call you and wish you a happy birthday (even though she may not be able to remember when she last ate.) It seems a woman can do just about anything she puts her mind to, almost. It seems the one thing almost every woman struggles to do, is realize her own worth.

God made each of us in His own image, a precious image. He created us as His special jewel and finds us of such value He sent His Son to Earth to prove it. Why then do we find it so hard to believe? Why are we so willing to lift others up for their talents, abilities or qualities, but keep ourselves down in the dirt? I dealt with those feelings myself, and honestly sometimes they try to come back. Feelings that I am not good enough. But That Is A Lie! Am I perfect, no, not by any means. But am I worthy of love, yes. Am I of worth, am I valuable, yes! Because God doesn’t make junk!

All through the Bible there are examples of how women are special to God. How He has taken special care in regard to them through history. Yet we struggle. We doubt ourselves, we treat ourselves all too often as less than worthy. This was the idea behind the Women of Worth, WOW, name given to our ladies bible study group here at Three Forks. To make sure all women know just how special they are! To encourage each other, to study His word and see what He has to say about us and to us.

In our first lesson together back in 2008 we began to look at our examples of women in scripture and we started “in the beginning” with Eve. Starting at the very creation of the world God wanted Adam to realize that he was not yet complete. God charged Adam with naming all the animals, and Adam discovered “there was not found a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:20) God could just as easily created Eve at the same moment He made Adam and allowed them to be together from the beginning, but he chose a different path. He waited for Adam to realize he was special, he was different, and he came to realize Eve’s worth too. His helper, his wife, was special and made just for him by God to be his perfect match. “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” (Prov. 31:10)

We are each special, we are each loved. We may not realize it at times, but God does. His love is never ending for us. And we have a responsibility to Him to return that love. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-39) “As Yourself.” God wants us to love Him, and He wants us to love ourselves. We are not going to be able to truly love ourselves or others until we realize how much He already loves us! Once we realize how strong His love is for us, it will seep through all other parts of our lives. Until, slowly but surely, we will be able to look in the mirror and see what God sees! His precious child!

Last month, as we worshipped God together as Women of Worth at our 2nd ladies day, we celebrated 3 years of our bible studies together. (Although we were so busy I don’t think we realized it had been that long.) We enjoyed being together with Christian sisters from so many congregations around us. It was absolutely amazing! This Friday I am so blessed to once again be with some of these amazing women. Our ladies bible study group will meet for class and I hope if you are able that you will join us. We are blessed to be able to come together to learn of Him and celebrate together His love for us!