Don’t Stop Running!

Neal Pollard

Did you hear what happened over the weekend at a college invitational race in the northwest? Oregon runner Tanguy Pepiot had a commanding lead down the final stretch of the 3,000 meter steeplechase.  Obviously, he felt it was insurmountable so he began to wave in appreciative response to what he thought were the cheers of the home crowd.  Instead, they were screaming out warnings to him.  Then second place runner, Washington’s Meron Simon, figured out Pepiot did not know he was surging.  Consequently, Simon overtook Pepiot in the last step of the race to win by a tenth of a second! There are so many life’s lessons to learn from this.  It’s never over until it’s over.  Don’t celebrate too early.  Pride goes before a fall.  To me, nothing is more significant than the importance of never quitting.  Simon was counted out, at least by Pepiot, but he simply would not quit.  As a result, he won the race!

The apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win” (1 Cor. 9:24).  Similarly, the writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).  Paul exemplifies the principle, telling Timothy he finished the course (2 Tim. 4:7).  This repeated imagery of Christian living as a race holds within it the same dramatic idea as that illustrated by the Washington runner.  He ran to win while his opponent lost because he prematurely celebrated.  The ultimate winner ran with endurance and he finished the course.

It is wonderful and helpful to get a strong start in the Christian race.  Pushing hard and accomplishing good for Jesus helps the “runner” and those who may “watch” him run. But, among the saddest experiences of my life has been witnessing many who quit too soon.  They were overtaken by improper relationships, discouragement, stumbling blocks, distractions, doubt, or any number of other factors.  Overshadowing the cause is the tragedy of the result.  Those who fail to finish the race suffer far worse than humiliation and an earthly prize.  These sacrifice eternal life and a heavenly home.

Today, you may be wrestling with whether or not to stay in the race for whatever reason.  May I plead with you to let the cheer of the “witnesses” (cf. Heb. 11) give you second wind.  But, please don’t stop running!

Pretty Items by Christian Women

preacherpollard:

Hey, ladies. You’ll like this from my favorite writer…

Originally posted on Life and Favor (Job 10:12):

We have some really talented women in the sisterhood.  Just for fun today, here are a few of my favorite (affordable) handmade goodies:

WREATHS by Kristy Woodall (Albuquerque, NM)

They’re not just for the front door.  Kristy’s wreaths are pretty and stylish.  I have a springtime one hanging in my dining room now.  The lavender, jade, and cream colors add new life to our home.  Check out her beautiful creations for yourself (or someone else):

Sophistacreations

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CARDS by Joyce Gillaspie (Albuquerque, NM)

A handwritten note beats a text or email any day.  These cards can only be described as gorgeous.  Each one has unique details, harmonious colors, and a thoughtful message.  I personally love her lighthouse series.  Whether you want to thank a friend or let someone know you’re thinking of them, these pretty cards are the way to go.  They will give you as much pleasure as the one…

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How to Read Your Compass

preacherpollard:

Excellent ideas for compasses and Bibles, too!

Originally posted on Life and Favor (Job 10:12):

A compass is an instrument used for direction.  It helps determine where you are and how to get where you want to go.  Hopefully the Bible is your compass.

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

In an article entitled, “How to Read a Compass,” the Compass Dude shares the benefits of owning one, “from telling which way is North to finding hidden treasure or following an unmarked path over wilderness terrain”  (http://www.compassdude.com/compass-reading.shtml). But to reap those benefits, you have to know how to accurately read a compass.

1.  Know Your Basic Compass Reading

The Compass Dude explains the essential basics of how to read a compass:

  • “Hold the compass steadily in your hand…”  The compass will be no use at all if we don’t pull it out and use it.  If it stays in our pocket or…

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THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE

Neal Pollard

The immigration issue I want to bring to your attention is not one you’ll read about in the news.  I doubt they’d have any interest in covering it.  It has been articulated in this way: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11).  He also speaks of this as “the time of your stay on earth” (1 Pet. 1:17).  But the dilemma existed before the first century church was established.  Old Testament heroes of faith “confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).

One of the hardest things for us to do is to live with conviction the idea that “this world is not our home, we’re just passing through.”  As Jesus prayed for us and all His followers, He even touches on the inevitability that we must be here on this earth (John 17:15), but it is so easy for us to forget our status.  Too often, we become naturalized citizens of this world by virtue of our conforming to its values, worldview, philosophy, and goals.  When that happens, we may gain its wholehearted acceptance but we renounce our heavenly citizenship in the process.

The issue for us is how to be in the world but not of it.  Paul familiarized himself with the culture, icons, and activities of his time, and he used that information to reach people in that culture with the saving message of Christ.  It was a means to an end, not the end itself.  For us, achieving that balance can be difficult.  As we become informed and interested in sports, politics, entertainment, and various media, does it become so much a part of us that it distracts us and replaces our longing for the Father’s will (Luke 22:42) and the Father’s house (John 14:1-4)?  In a materialistic culture like ours, we can become so enamored with earthly treasure that we fail or cease laying up treasure where we should be (Mat. 6:19-21).

Let’s encourage each other as fellow aliens and exiles to understand what Paul said, that “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).  We must set our mind on things above, not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:2).  That is the issue for us.

It’s the Thought That Doesn’t Count

preacherpollard:

Great stuff…

Originally posted on Let No One Look Down 1Tim. 4:12:

Gold-deer-gift-wrapping

Imagine with me that you just gave your mom a present. You’re really excited, and you can’t wait for her to open it. As your mom is taking off the obnoxious wrapping paper that you picked out, you look over on the counter and see the exact same salt and pepper shaker that you just got her. A feeling of dread washes over you, and you look at your mom. She smiles and says “Don’t worry, it’s the thought that counts.”

This phrase is often used when you give someone a gift that either they already have, or they just think is horrible. I would like to suggest that when it comes to a relationship with God, the thought alone doesn’t count.

A couple of months ago, I met a man who said “I haven’t been to church in a while, but I still consider myself close to God.” Some people base…

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BE GRATEFUL

Neal Pollard
Frank Crowninshield related a time when Clarence Darrow spoke to a woman’s club on the civilization of ancient Phoenicians. He finished his lecture, and the chairlady said, “Oh, how can we thank Mr. Darrow for the fascinating lecture he has given us tonight?” Darrow returned to the podium and made one final observation: “I entirely forgot to tell you that it was the Phoenicians who first invented money.”
Darrow wanted to be properly “appreciated.” To him, that meant money. Today, in a world where the thank you note is getting to be like an ancient manuscript, where “common courtesy” is scarce, and “manners” are to too many a mystery, there is a great opportunity for a revolution and a revival. Our society is primed for thorough thankfulness. It is due employers, teachers, law enforcement, neighbors, friends, family (both physical and spiritual), waitresses, cashiers, and even strangers. But, most of all, it is due Almighty God!
It should be so natural to join in with David and ask, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” (Ps. 116:12). He answers both in this Psalm (“I will call upon Him and pay my vows to Him”-13-14) and in Psalm 103:2 (“Bless the Lord” and “forget not”). This gratitude will show itself in our giving, but it will also show itself in our living. By developing a spirit inclined to find blessings and express gratitude, we will draw people to the Lord. We will also improve every conversation, activity, and relationship in which we find ourselves.
New Testament writers repeatedly urge thankfulness and show it themselves (cf. Rom. 7:25; 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 9:15; Eph. 5:4; Col. 3:15; etc.). New Testament Christians ought to be characterized by it, too. Sure, there will always be plenty about which to be depressed and discouraged-taxes, health, betrayal, disappointments, sorrows and losses. But, even in these things blessings and benefit can be found. The old adage, “Have an attitude of gratitude,” is the need of the hour. If you are wanting to shine like a light in a world of darkness (cf. Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:9), a grateful spirit will do the trick.