Clippin’ Grace Coupons

The complete life of a believer in Christ is all about grace.  We deserve an eternity in hell because we are sinners under the wrath of God (Romans 3:9-30; Ephesians 2:1-3).  We are totally unrighteous (Romans 3:10).  But when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:9-13), God accepts us in Christ by His grace (Ephesians 1:6; 2:8-9).  From that point on, we live by God’s grace, we are sustained by God’s grace, and we are empowered to live for Him by grace as His disciple (Matthew 4:19; Luke 14:26-27, 33).

So, whenever I write this post about clippin’ grace coupons, it is my way of recognizing the truth of Ephesians 2:7, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  God is so very good to us, and sometimes like Andy Griffith would say, “Extreee good!”

Here’s a few grace  coupons God has allowed me to clip in the past two weeks.

Grace Coupon #1:  Running toward the sunrise at the beach

Denise and I love to get up early on vacation and watch the awesome display of God’s handiwork!  She walks, and I run.  What a time we have together!

Grace Coupon #2:  Seeing the elk at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountain Park

What a special treat to hike this area as well as Big Creek with a dear friend and fellow hiker, Rick Stoner!

Grace Coupon #3:  The Beauty of Cataloochee

Grace Coupon #4:  Singing in the Sun 2017

What a special treat to attend two nights and hear such groups as Mark Trammell Quartet, Brian Free & Assurance, The Talleys, Gold City, and Triumphant Quartet.  Better than the singing was the preaching of Evangelist C.T. Townsend and Dr. Herb Reavis and seeing many souls come to Christ!!  A special thank you to the Life FM for the great seats.

An unexpected blessing on the second night was to sit right behind a young girl from back home, her husband and their daughter.  Then, to find out that a dear friend of mine and his wife were a section over from us!  He and I have shouted, praised the Lord, wept, and rejoiced at many Southern Gospel concerts.

 

Grace Coupon #5:  Worshiping With Our Daughter & Son-in-Law, Whitney & Paul

Running Uphill . . . to the Finish Line

My son-in-law and I have basically owned the Tweetsie Trail this summer for our morning run.  The beautiful scenery, friendly bikers, walkers and runners, beautiful wildlife, the nostalgia, pristine quiet, and the desire to stay healthy and prepare for periodic races calls us out three to four times a week.  Our routine is to run from Johnson City to Elizabethton at different distances as my training is currently maxed out for 10Ks while Andrew is preparing for a half-marathon.  Recently, I said, “Let’s change our routine and run from Elizabethton to Johnson City.  Well, I was greeted with a startling fact . . . the trail is predominately an uphill grade.

Our last run really took it out of me, and I was a bit defeated because running is such a challenge to me.  Upon sharing my thoughts via texting with Andrew, he said, “The second you feel defeated, you fail.  Sounds like the Christian life.”  He is right.

Running is such a mind game.  Correct thinking is so crucial.  In most instances, you can run farther than your mind tells you.  There you are, your legs are burning a bit, your lungs grasping for air, and your mind saying, “Just go ahead and quit.  You know it’s too hard to finish. You just don’t have it.”  That’s when you have to think the truth, remind yourself about things you have learned from running, and take another drink as well as another step.  You really don’t want to listen to yourself.

The Christian life is often uphill as well.  Every day presents you with battles that begin with putting your feet on the floor first thing in the morning.   Once that happens, you are “off to the races.”  How needful it is to think biblically from the first thought of the morning.  So often when we start the Tweetsie Trail, one of us will say, “What a beautiful day to run.  Praise the Lord!”  Starting your day thinking the Word and then throughout the day reminding yourself of the Word will help you climb the next hill.  It is so important that we do not listen to ourselves but rather preach the Word to ourselves.

I for one will tell you that one of the best parts of running is the finish.  There is such an exhilarated rush when you are done.  So here’s some truths to begin your day that will get you to the finish line… even if its uphill.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.  (Lamentations 3:21-26)

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).

The Most Important Word in Running

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That was the title to an article found within the pages of Runner’s World written by Mark Remy.  The subtitle was, “Here’s a hint: It has nothing to do with nutrition, form, or VO2 max.”

So now, you are asking, what did the article say was the most important word in running?  Are you ready?—-“Thank you.”

Often my wife, who power walks, and I remark about how grateful we are to be out exercising.  We both realize that all we are enjoying comes from the good hand of our God.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us, In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

So what are we grateful for?

  • The beauty of running in the country!
  • Ol’ Bossie watching us from the cow pasture.
  • Seeing a newborn calf.
  • Quiet.
  • Time to pray, memorize Scripture, and/or listen to sermon podcasts.
  • Fellowship with other runners and the encouragement they bring to keep going.
  • The ability to exercise. I promise you this is not taken for granted!
  • Meeting some our neighbors who are out as well.
  • The benefits of exercise.
  • Safety.  (This can be a challenge when faced with a driver who does not want to lose five seconds of his drive-time.)
  • Goal setting.
  • Being with my wife.
  • Camaraderie with other runners through the MapMyRun app.
  • Finishing the race.
  • Good shoes.
  • Water & Gatorade!
  • Strength & endurance
  • Memories of good and bad races.
  • The opportunity to run again in races that were special.
  • The fall colors.
  • Our Enduracool towels.
  • The Tweetsie Trail.
  • Eyes to see, ears to hears, and lips to rejoice in all that God has created around us.
  • Life in Christ that makes this life worth living.

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

Gratitude-poster
quotesgram.com

Running to Heaven

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I love to run!  There is something special about being outdoors, the scenery of the mountains or farm lands, pushing your body beyond what you think it can do, running alone or with others or a crowd, and then the exhilarating rush of accomplishment!

Kingsport, TN, hosts an annual race that has intimidated me due to its Saturday, 9:58 p.m. start time. I have never run in a race beyond 7:00 p.m. and the thought of its effect upon my “Sunday life” left me a bit concerned. I missed it last year, but had set my sights on conquering this Crazy 8s 8K this time around!  Wow!  What a race!   2,287 participants lined up on Ft. Henry Drive for the start.  After prayer that included the gospel and ended with a note of thanks for Christ’s death on the cross as well as a stirring rendition of the National Anthem, it was time for the start!  Obviously, it is a bit slow for the wave of runners to get up to speed, but as we turned the corner onto Eastman Road, we were well up to our pace.  All the way, folks were gathered on the sidewalks to watch, cheer, hold up signs, spray us with water, and give us a boosts of mental energy.  The highlight was finishing the race by entering J. Fred Johnson Stadium with the festive fanfare of multiplied cheers of encouragement.  What a run!

Crazy 8 8K

Scripture reminds us that the Christian life is like running a race:

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. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians  9:24-27).

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

May I encourage all believers today in the Christian race to:

  • “Stay the course” – Be faithful in your daily spiritual preparation of the Word, prayer, memorization, memorization, and the use of 1 John 1:9.
  • Don’t run aimlessly – Just as you choose the races to run, have a plan and set goals for your spiritual growth. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
  • Exercise self-control – Begin your day in surrender to Christ. Don’t listen to yourself . . . preach the Truth to yourself . . . and do it all day! (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
  • Be encouraged by all who have finished – Just when you think you will not make it through another day, look to the Captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10), our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) as well as all who have finished well. (Hebrews 12:1; Isaiah 40:31)
  • Edify and encourage other runners — This race is an eternal one with an eternal reward. We are running the best race.  Let’s help the fallen, encourage the weak, hand them a cup of water, and run alongside at times.
  • Keep pressing on toward the goal – We are to be forward-looking believers. In a race, I may look back to see who’s behind me for safety sake as I move right or left in the road, but my mind is not on the start line but the finish line.
  • Finish well – As I turned right onto Indian Drive and up the hill for the stadium, I could hear the crowd cheering, the music playing, Tom Taylor making comments over the PA system, and it gave me a boost of energy to quicken my pace. For a runner, coming into that stadium and running to the 50 yard line with folks on both sides cheering; that was one awesome entrance!!  I’ve got tears in my eyes right now thinking about it.  I can only imagine what Heaven will be like with the saints of God praising, singing, worshipping, enthralled in the presence of Christ, and knowing . . . we are finally Home!

As I said earlier, we are running the best race now with the Bema as the finish line and Christ the Perfect Judge to hand out the rewards.  In the meantime, let’s run spiritually and physically well for God’s glory.  By the way, “When’s the next race?  I’m ready!”

Give a listen:  Finish Well

Map My Run

 

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Tweetsie Trail (Great place to run)

Map My Run is a handy app on my phone that logs all my workouts.  It records my distance, duration time, average pace, split-pace times, calories burned and elevation gain.  These details are very important as I reach out for my goals in preparation for the next race or just to keep in shape.

Map My Run reminds me of a very functional tool for your daily spiritual growth—a journal.  Just as the Map My Run app helps me track my physical fitness, I believe a hand written journal or one online is a good means to help you in your daily relationship with Christ; to run the race of the Christian life as we set our affection on things above and not on things of the earth (Colossians 3:2) to stay spiritually fit.  So consider the following questions:

  • How do you track your growth in Christ?
  • As you read the Word each day, where do you record what God said to you?
  • When you attend church, how do you document what God is up to in your life during the service whether in singing, prayer, small group Sunday School or the preaching?
  • What has the Lord been teaching you in the school of trials and temptation?
  • How have you seen God answer prayer today?
  • What spiritual goals have you attained by the grace of God?
  • What sins have your overcome?
  • What victories have been won by faith and God’s grace?

We are prone to soon forget the blessings of God, the impact of His Word, and the lessons He brings, but not so if we record them in a journal and then scan over them each week.  Our Shepherd is leading us today (Psalm 23).  Let’s track His steps and His lessons in our lives.  The Christian life is not a sprint but a marathon.  Let’s run well in His Word, burning off the calories of sin, the flesh and the world, and keep a good pace through all the elevations of life as we run for the prize.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

I’m Still Learning

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Well, the School of Running continues to be a good teacher.  Check out the June 2nd post, In the School of Running

Lesson:  You are greatly influenced by the people you run with.

Monday morning, I passed a guy running in the opposite direction that is new to our “neck of the woods.”  We have spoken to each other before, but that all changed.  As we passed, I asked him how many miles he ran each day.  With that, he turned and started running beside me.  As we ran and chatted, I found out he has run eight minute miles and even faster. I also found out real quick that his pace and mind don’t match.  After all, he is approximately 25 years my junior. But I was determined to keep up with him, and I did for a mile or more before he went his own way.  (Boy, was I glad!)

As he headed on his way home, and I continued my solo jaunt to the house in the opposite direction, I was struck by how a better runner had so quickly influenced me.  That leads me to ask, what kind of people do you “run” with?  Who has the greatest influence on your life?  Do you like to be with folks that challenge you, ask you the hard questions, hold you accountable, help you grow in the faith, lead you to raise the bar in your relationship with Christ, and enjoy life in Christ?  Or, do you gravitate toward people who are lazy, critical, selfish, backslidden, complaining, downcast, minimal in their walk with Christ, and/or make you feel comfortable in your current state?

Here’s a good verse that speaks to this lesson: Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your word (Psalm 119:74).  Are people glad to see you coming because they know you are a person who loves, learns, and lives the Word of God?  They know you will biblically love them, be an encouraging exhorter to press on for Christ, and be willing to give you godly counsel? Proverbs 27:17 reminds us, As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Consider who you “run” with.  What kind of influence do they have on you?  Are you all running toward Christ or away from Him?