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Call me a loser, but I didn’t catch much of the “most viewed Olympics ever”, this summer.  Partly because I’m jealous of the fact that I can’t do a cartwheel and my only effective swim-style is the doggy-paddle. Mostly because I was seriously struggling with whether or not Christians should even be supporting people striving for “fool’s gold”.  I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s been great to hear Olympians give God the glory for their “medaled” accomplishments.  But there’s got to be a side of Christians that are dying to see athletes like Gabby Douglas quote, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord will be with you wherever you go!” as she marches into her school with the mission of saving souls, rather than before doing some flips across a springy floor.  Maybe I’m being overly critical, or maybe I want to see her succeed for the Lord’s glory in areas where I failed at her age.

None-the-less, the Olympics are captivating to all audiences.  Which makes me marvel at God’s scriptural technique through Paul & the additional writers of the new testament; specifically the athletic imagery used. Comparing the known and familiar terms of the competing games to the spiritual truths of God’s words… genius.  One passage in particular that was brought to mind to me after catching a brief part of the Olympics in the 4×100 race was,

        “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives              the prize? So run that you may obtain it. (1 Cor. 9:24)

The imagery of an Olympic race, where these athletes push all of their training and athletic make-up to exhaustion, brings verses like these alive for my spiritual life.  We’re encouraged to submit ourselves “all in”, with tunnel vision, leaving it all on the track to “receive the prize”.

I recently was reading through 1 Kings 18, where Elijah was calling out the people of Israel saying…

         “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If                              the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”

I was thinking, “man, this is me…this can be many of us Christians, limping between living fully for the Lord and living fully for ourselves (or insert other false god).”  I want to have tunnel vision on my God… tunnel vision on the prize.  A runner who goes back & forth with training & partying isn’t going to run a successful race come game-time.  Better yet, a runner involved in the race, isn’t going to run hard for the prize, then stop & sit down on the track in a quest for comfort when they get fatigued, & expect to receive the prize.  And there’s going to be fatigue in this race for the Kingdom.  There’s going to be obstacles… are we going to fall away, give up, seek a more comfortable way or are we going to seek God for strength & persevere hard toward the prize?  We need to have a Manteo Mitchell approach to gaining that prize … no matter the obstacle, I’m pushing hard for the prize by any means necessary.

So although I’m not sure if I’ll ever be a passionate viewer of “the games” again, it was great to see God turn the small glimpse of what I did catch this year and cause it to question my walk.  I’m praying my answer to the question of “how are you going to run this race.?.”, is…

            “Strength like a lion burns, got fire in my veins
             Cause I will run and I will not grow weary until I’m face to face
             I feel the pleasure of my Lord when I’m in stride
            For the glory of the Lord is a man who is completely alive”  –                                   (c) Josh Garrels “Run”

13 Responses to “Run that you may obtain the prize…”

  1. on 15 Aug 2012 at 3:08 pmSean

    Russell,

    Great post and thanks for coming on board as a writer. As for the athletic metaphors in Scripture, Paul was writing to Corinth, a town that had supervision of the Isthmian games–second only to those held at Mt. Olympus. The Corinthians were into sports and the big games when they happened. What’s interesting is how Paul co-opts the sports lingo and appropriates it to our spiritual struggle. Personally, I don’t think there is anything sinful about watching the Olympics, but I wonder about the athletes who train day and night. At what point do we say someone is just plain obsessed with something? If all I did day and night was work and try to make money, wouldn’t you call me a workaholic? Anyhow, I suppose that’s another issue. Your point stands. We need to kindle our fires and have an intensity for God and his things so that we may carry the torch without giving up.

  2. on 16 Aug 2012 at 6:21 amRussell

    I was driving around yesterday thinking about how the pursuit of this post’s theme can be made practical. One practical way came up during a fellowship conversation we had last night on 2 Peter 1. In 2 Peter 1, a list of qualities is given that Peter urges Christians to “increase in” so that we can both prove effective & fruitful in our walk.

    If I were to keep going with this “runner’s” comparison, I would say that if a runner is abundant in qualities such as: stamina, perseverance, timing, determination, athleticism, endurance, coordination, agility all rooted in an unwavering mental focus on the finish line, then that runner has a great chance of being an effective runner and a great chance of winning the prize.

    In the same way, if we as Christians “increase in”: faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, Godliness, brotherly kindness & love, then “richly provided for us (our ultimate prize), is an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.”

    I know our entrance into the Kingdom primarily rests on God’s incredible grace & the redeeming work He accomplished through His Son, & not through any work of our own. However, to know that a faith that exhibits these qualities leads us to receive that prize, steers me in a direction to pray for God to implant & increase these qualities in me, so that I can be effective & fruitful for His glory.

  3. on 16 Aug 2012 at 9:53 amtimothy

    Sean and Russel,

    Thanks for your inspiration to share.

    My nostalgia takes me back thirty some years ago when the great grandfather of our current LHIM teachings was my first exposure. to being turned on with GOD, his word and seeing/hearing that Jesus Christ was also a human being and that I could change to be like him.

    There was always much teaching about languages. I remember especially that the Hebrew was not as colorful and did not allow as much description as the Greek. The Hebrew had vocabulary for military expression, but Greek has also the athletic vocabulary for a broader nuance of expression.

    Some Olympic words/phrases:

    “pukteuo”=fights, boxing, “fight not as one beating the air”, Olympic training phrase

    “stadia”=stadium=race=furlong(220 yards)

    “pale”=wrestle, struggle

    “agonizomos”=training for the Olympic games

    “egkrateia”=temperate, temperance, self control

    “stephanos”=crown, athletic award for Olympic games

    “pukteuo”=fights, boxing

    “adokimos”=castaway, disqualified from receiving award

    “bema”=judgement seat, awards

    “apothemenoi”=striping down to competion weight

    “athleo”=striving for the mastery

    “gumnasia”=strenuous exercise, gymnasium

    “nike”=conqueror, winner

    You write:
    “Better yet, a runner involved in the race, isn’t going to run hard for the prize, then stop & sit down on the track in a quest for comfort when they get fatigued, & expect to receive the prize.”

    I say, the old nursery rhyme, about the Tortoise and the Hare race sounds just like your quote. We should have the same perseverance, as the tortoise, to keep on running/crawling to the bema.

    **Remember, that these Olympic terms in the New Testament, urge us to use the same diligence as an Olympic athlete to be what God would have us to be, as we run our “Christian race”.

    Timothy 🙂

  4. on 16 Aug 2012 at 10:04 amtimothy

    Russel,

    Thank you.

    Your post #2 is the practical application.

    I have been a racer most of my life. Racing as crew member on large off shore sailing yachts. This racing is more like being a member in particular of the body of Christ. Races are won when everyone works together and obeys the Captain.

    Timothy 🙂

  5. on 17 Aug 2012 at 5:18 amRussell

    Good stuff, Timothy.

    I want that diligence to be what God desires for me to be.

    That “crew member” analogy seems even more relevant to our Christian “culture” too; how much more glory we can bring to God if we’re working together with one purpose, in obedience to our Lord.

  6. on 17 Aug 2012 at 7:49 amtimothy

    Hello Russel,

    Happy you HUAHB(Seans salted acronym) my off shore sailing analogy for carrying out our ministry of reconciliation.

    Recently the Road Island waters hosted the new style America Cup sailing regatta. America first won the silver trophy with the schooner Yacht Americas superior hull design and our using colonial cotton sails. The British sails were made from flax which would not hold the correct shape with weather.

    We always won for decades, until our technology was shared with the Australians….then we lost to them and won the trophy back. Today sails are made of the GOD designed (clone from spiderweb) Kevlar fiber cloth.

    The thing we are missing with our Christian purpose is
    “the meat and potatoes” our first century brethren were manifesting.
    There are fewer(or hardly any) Christians using the *dunamis/power gift from GOD, the nine manifestations of holy spirit.

    The thief sure has stolen the word of GOD, which lays the whole deck of cards on the table. All the information about what Jesus Christ promised is there to HUAHB. Doubt and fear dominate and too many that do hear are still sitting on the fence.

    Ignorance and wrong teaching can be corrected by right teaching. Why are so many acting like the ostrich and hiding their head in the sand.
    I am a senor citizen and struggle with a computer. However the internet allows me to access lhim teachings/fellowships.

    At least this KR blog has helped many to learn more of GODs word *rightly divided*.

    Timothy 🙂

  7. on 17 Aug 2012 at 1:38 pmVictor

    GREAT points Russ, thanks for sharing. Our pursuit of God and obedience to Christ should be an aggressive one – not passive. Their love for us was shown through Jesus’ on the cross – not passive! Can not our love for them be shown by the way we live our lives!?

  8. on 18 Aug 2012 at 11:39 pmtimothy

    RUN:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9sf5845Gus&feature=player_embedded#!

    Timothy 8)

  9. on 23 Nov 2012 at 12:26 amtimothy

    Are we, Once Saved, Always Saved, or Not?

    Romans 1: (KJV)
    7 To all that be *on KR Blog*, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Philippians 3: (NASB)
    12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

    13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,

    14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;

    16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

    1 Corinthians 9: (NASB)
    24 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.

    Philippians 3: (NASB)
    14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    either/or

    Philippians 3: (KJV)
    14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

    2 Timothy 2: (NASB)
    5 Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.

    1 Corinthians 13: (NASB)
    8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

    9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part;

    10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

    11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

    12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

    13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

    1 Corinthians 15: (KJV)
    49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

    50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

    51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

    52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

    53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

    54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

    The race is to *persevere* in the race until the return of Jesus Christ and our prize *the resurrection and new spiritual body*.

    57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

    It is required to have *perseverance* and stay in the race. To be obedient to our High Priest, King and Prophet, after the order of Melchizedek, the Lord Jesus Christ and his commandments. It is required to know what his commandments are by reading the words he spoke while he was here on Earth, as written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and the words he has given by revelations to Peter, James, Jude, John and Paul as recorded in the church Epistles.

    Here is an example of how **NOT TO RUN THE RACE**;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeZe2qPLPh0&feature=related

    agapao se’

    Timothy 8)

  10. on 23 Nov 2012 at 11:35 amJas

    Timothy
    In one of Brian’s articles he identified 3 meanings of salvation.
    1.eternal live
    2.prolong life in the land promised to Abraham
    3.from our enemies
    In your last post you claim salvation comes from running a race and you equate the prize with eternal life.Well if you are correct than salvation is by running a race to obtain a prize not by Grace.
    I really wish people could see that all 3 meanings of salvation are mentioned in the NT.
    1. eternal life by being able to be judged righteous at final judgement after 2nd resurrection in which 1 man ran that race to obtain this prize for All mankind that have ever existed or will exist .
    2. a prolonged life by the 1st resurrection of those of the old and renewed covenant
    3. warning by Jesus to flee the city during the judgement of those who controlled Judea.
    The reason so many are conflicted as to what is required for salvation is because no one can properly separate atleast 2 of the 3 meanings of salvation

  11. on 23 Nov 2012 at 3:57 pmtimothy

    Jas,

    I understand what you mean, however, yes Christians are saved by grace at:

    Romans 10: (NASB)
    9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

    10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    Once one has been saved, then:

    Philippians 3: (NASB)
    16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

    Romans 13: (NASB)
    11 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.

    1 Timothy 4: (NASB)
    Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

    One needs to continue in obedience to our High Priest, King and prophet, after the order of Melchizedek, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    1 John 2: (NASB)
    3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.

    4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;

    5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:

    6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

    28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

    29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

    1 John 3: (NASB)
    7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;

    (being obedient is to practice righteousness)

    8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

    (being disobedient is to practice un-righteousness)

    Colossians !: (NASB)
    22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—

    23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

    To run in the race is to continue in Faith. To hear, understand, accept, hold fast and bear fruit.

    Listen to this interview of Reverend v. Finnegan:

    http://truthmattersradio.wordpress.com/2009/03/22/the-grace-trap-
    with-vince-finnegan/

    🙂

  12. on 23 Nov 2012 at 10:58 pmJas

    Timothy
    Actually you are just attempting to harmonize .Grace is Grace and is given freely to all mankind. It can not be earned,it can not be taken away unless you can nullify the sacrifice that it came by.The only way to lose it is to deny it at judgment
    why do you wish that all mankind has to earn it for themselves when it was earned through obedience by Jesus.

  13. on 25 Nov 2012 at 2:01 pmJas

    Are we, Once Saved, Always Saved, or Not?

    To answer this question you must first ask from What.
    Was Able in need of salvation ?
    Was Jesus in need of salvation ?
    Yes! but the difference is one needed a mediator at judgement and the other became that mediator because of Grace.So by Grace to one man Grace was given to all mankind.
    So does Able need to run any race to be saved or does he need to do anything Timothy says is needed to receive it or keep it.
    Absolutely Not! He just cant rightly divide the meanings of salvation therefore locking out those not privileged to hear the Gospel of Grace.
    Abraham understood Grace and the promises given to bring about Grace were two different salvations.

  

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