Beliefnet
Activist Faith

Image result for injured runner

I still remember the moment. I had invested six months, hundreds of dollars, and countless training hours leading up to my attempt to run across Tennessee in a 314-run (500K) called Vol State in the heat of July 2016. The first day had been difficult, yet I had managed fourth place and 98 miles by the end of the first 24 hours.

After a short break, I began again, mostly walking at this point. My blistered feet had remained wet so long that the skin began coming off. I had experienced this in a previous race, but only toward the end when I was almost finished. In this event, I still had 200 miles to complete.

By midday, the top layer of skin on my left foot had already come off, reducing me to a limp. Determined to press on, I continued, only to soon have the “meat” of my foot split open and bleed across the middle of a Tennessee highway.

Still refusing to quit, my crew taped me up and sent me back out. But by this time I was only dragging my left foot. If there had been only a few miles left, I would have stuck it out. But 200 miles of limping? I did the math and decided the time it would take was more than I had to spare.

I made the call and pulled out of the race.

It was the first time I had ever failed at a race. For three days I could not walk.

Yet the end was not the end.

When all hope seemed lost, a new plan began to form. What would it take to make a comeback?

I began walking, then running a week later. I experimented with different shoes, sandals, and even began running barefoot. By September I attempted my first barefoot ultrarun, completing 50 miles without shoes.

Unfortunately, this attempt left me with a stress fracture that required not running for about 12 weeks. By January I was running again–first only two miles, then five, then 12. On April 1, 2017, April Fool’s Day, I ran a 24-hour race again, completing 100 miles in 22 hours and 33 minutes.

In August, I took one more shot at the 24-hour format, reaching 100 miles in 22 hours and 23 minutes, taking second place in a much smaller race in Kentucky.

After this race, I felt I had nothing left to prove. I had overcome my past failure, now having completed 250 miles of racing miles and even placing in an ultra race.

Fast forward to now and I’ve recently returned from a long break from running. I’m not sure where it will end, but know that my failure was not final. I am enjoying the miles and the moments of experiencing God along the running journey.

Had I given up after my failed run, I would have missed out on so much. The same is true in other areas of life.

When everything seems to fall apart, it’s tough to try again. As a Haitian proverb says, “Behind the mountains are more mountains.” Struggle can cause us to give up rather than to keep going.

On my desk are a few quotes God has used in my life during this time of learning endurance. One of them is this:

“Your purpose is greater than your pain.”

If you know what you are doing is of greater value than your current pain, keep going. Jesus endured the pain of the cross, knowing there would be a resurrection. Don’t let today’s pain keep you from tomorrow’s joys. Keep moving forward, one step at a time.

+++

Dr. Dillon Burroughs is one of America’s top communicators on today’s Christian issues. He serves as senior writer of The John Ankerberg Show and is author or coauthor of nearly 40 books. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He lives with his wife and three children in Tennessee.

Image result for helping neighbor

Have you grown tired of the media headlines telling you what this or that person “should do” about the latest controversy? He should arrest that person. She should sue that guy. This company should be avoided. That location should be applauded.

In a world of should and shouldn’t, the Bible offers a refreshing word of encouragement:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. -James 1:27

While some accuse Christianity of being the source of society’s woes, a direct reading of Scripture often offers hope found nowhere else. James was a brother of Jesus and a leader of the earliest church in Jerusalem. He experienced both the joys of faith expressed in action and the frustrations of when this did not occur.

His response? God’s words are important. So is its application.

Gandhi was known for saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Yet James wrote the same basic concept 1,900 years earlier.

Instead of complain and lament, he calls us to act and serve.

How does this look? Here are a few examples, some seemingly mundane and others more controversial:

  • Do yard work for an elderly neighbor.
  • Watch your sister’s kids for free while she gets some rest or time away.
  • Let a car merge in front of you for someone in who is stuck in traffic.
  • Treat an angry customer with dignity and respect.
  • Offer encouraging words to your child.
  • Donate to a cause that is doing great things in our world.
  • Offer food or drink to a panhandler on the street corner.
  • Share hospitality to an international student or immigrant in need of practical assistance.

Why do these seemingly everyday tasks matter? Two reasons–the impact of one and the impact of many.

The Impact of One

You’ve probably heard the story of the child and the starfish. A parent and child are walking along the beach when the child sees a starfish on the beach. He picks it up and throws it back into the ocean, hoping to save its life. The parent asks, “Why even bother? There are countless starfish. You can’t save them all.”

The child replied, “It mattered to that starfish.”

The same is true with people. You may not feel like you can change the world, but you can change the world for one person.

The Impact of Many

If the impact of one is true, then many people practicing this concept can change the world. Sometimes when I speak to a church audience or group of students, I’ll make the impact of the application greater by stating, “And if you will love your neighbor as yourself and you will and you will and you in the back row will, this community will be different next week.”

So here’s the challenge: What is your “impact of one” today? Second, how many of you reading these words will impact one other person? If five people do, that’s great. If 5,000 people do, we’ll change nations. You can’t choose who else will be the change today, but you can choose to change you and change the life of someone near you.

Go for it. More walk, less talk.

+++

Dr. Dillon Burroughs is one of America’s top communicators on today’s Christian issues. He serves as senior writer of The John Ankerberg Show and is author or coauthor of nearly 40 books. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He lives with his wife and three children in Tennessee.

Image result for empty tomb

While many Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus last weekend, Monday quickly shifts priorities. Instead of the joy of the risen Christ, there is the daily commute, packing lunches for kids headed to school, or other daily tasks that can quickly erase the excitement of the previous day.

Easter is the high point for those who follow Christ. But how can we continue to build on this momentum today and in the days to follow? There may be no “one” thing, but these five insights have been helpful in my life and lives of other believers over the year.

Pray Daily

Prayer is for the soul what oxygen is for the lungs. We cannot successfully live without prayer, nor should we try.

When we pray, we seek God’s best for each moment of our day. It’s not always talking, but rather an  ongoing conversation with our Creator. Just as Adam and Eve experienced a close daily relationship with God in the Garden of Eden, we are to seek his presence daily rather than one day per week.

Read Regularly

Psalm 1 says the person who is blessed and prosper meditates on God’s words day and night. These lyrics were penned in a time before widespread literacy and availability to the Bible. Instead of regular reading, most people had to settle for hearing God’s Word and meditating or thinking about the words each day.

We are blessed to live in a time when most of us can read and have access to the Bible. Yet many of us take these blessings for granted. Instead of winding down the day with television or catching up on social media, take a few moments to read from the Psalms, the Gospels, or another part of Scripture that helps you remain focused on what matters most.

Rest Weekly

The Jewish people were given the law of the Sabbath. Every Friday sunset until Saturday sunset, no regular work was to be done. Instead of living in constant slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt, the Jews were commanded and blessed with one day each week to refrain from work.

While Christians are not commanded to follow the Sabbath law today, the principle of weekly rest endures as wise advice. When we make time to rest for a full day each week, we live a less rushed existence that allows us to better fix our eyes on God, enjoy his creation, and better care for the people around us.

Fast Occasionally

Fasting (refraining from eating to focus on God) is not commanded in the New Testament, but it was expected. Jesus said, “When you fast…” assuming his followers would at least occasionally do so. When Paul and Barnabas were sent on their first missionary trip, it also came after a time of prayer and fasting. Fasting also occurred before choosing church leaders, revealing its importance in focusing on hearing God’s voice.

If you haven’t taken time to fast before to pray and focus on God, you may want to give it a try. You should check with your doctor first (Remember, this is not medical advice!), but most people can endure a 24-hour period without food and remain healthy (Just drink a lot of water or juice instead.).

Reflect Constantly

We live in a rushed culture. We rush to work or school, rush to finish our work, rush home, rush to activities, rush to eat, and statistically sleep less now than in past generations. This pattern causes us to reflect less, missing out on the many powerful ways God is at work around us.

When we think about his Spirit and its works in our lives, we instead give up our control to emphasize his control of our lives. Though we tend to think about what we “do” and how we “decide,” God is the one who created us, sustains us, and gives us the strength to accomplish all we do.

The resurrection offers a powerful reminder of the hope we have in Christ. But Easter is not the end; it is a new beginning. Start your week with new patterns that reflect the new life you have in him.

+++

Dr. Dillon Burroughs is one of America’s top communicators on today’s Christian issues. He serves as senior writer of The John Ankerberg Show and is author or coauthor of nearly 40 books. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He lives with his wife and three children in Tennessee.

Image result for feeding the poor

I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee, America’s “most Bible-minded city” as well as the city with the nation’s highest percentage of church attendance. Yet these accolades offered little help to many of those struggling in the city’s urban center.

For example, during the same year the city was named “most Bible-minded,” public education struggled, gang violence grew and for cities of its size ranked tenth in criminal violence. Clearly, being “Bible-minded” does not quite solve social problems.

If Bible engagement isn’t the answer, what is? From Scripture, the goal is faith in action. Here are five ways our faith can be expressed in practical actions.

1. Be the Answer to Your Own Prayers

We often pray about the problems around us. What would happen if we asked God to help us be the answer to our own prayers?

If we wait for somebody to do something someday, it’s not likely to happen. I must realize I am somebody and I can do something to make a difference.

2. Just Do Something

Too much time is spent deciding how to help or in what area to serve. Instead, just do something. You might totally fail, but at least you are trying.

When the 2010 earthquake destroyed much of Haiti, I felt compelled to go and help. Why? I had just been there a few months earlier. These were people I had met.

I arrived, but really didn’t have any medical expertise. I didn’t have a pile of money to solve major problems. But I was there and I did whatever I could to help.

I ended up doing a variety of work, ranging from carrying the stretchers of amputee victims to sorting medical supplies to distributing aid. It wasn’t pretty, but it helped.

3. Don’t Wait for Permission

Many of our churches and other organizations are set up with far too many ways to tell you no. Instead, find something that does not require permission and start. You may not be able to preach the sermon on Sunday or turn your sanctuary into a homeless shelter, but you can feed one person in need or help a child after school with her homework.

4. Expect Trouble

If you dive in and do something and don’t wait for permission, expect trouble. Someone will tell you, “You can’t do that.” Others will complain about how you help others.

You can tell them, “I can and I will.” To those who complain about how you help, you can tell them, “When you help in this area, you can do it the way you want.”

It’s easy to get discouraged when the people you expect to help or at least support your efforts complain instead. The sooner you realize it’s going to happen no matter what you do and still make a difference anyway, the better off you will be.

5. Treat Everyone Like a Brother or Sister and Act Accordingly

This is my life goal: to view every person I meet as a brother or sister and act accordingly. If I saw my sister on the side of the road begging, I would stop to help. If my brother lost his job or home, I would do whatever I could to pitch in a do something.

People in need around us are exactly that–people. Too often, those in need are treated like projects or pets. Yet the love of Jesus compels us to stop and show compassion.

I love the story of the woman who poured perfume on the head of Jesus. Those around them complained that the woman had been wasteful with her resources. The money for the perfume could have been used to help others in need.

Jesus answered, “She did what she could.” He did not discourage her act of service, even if it looked odd to others. Instead, he encouraged her. The woman’s story is still told today.

May your service to others likewise lead to stories that impact lives today and for generations to come.

+++

your Profile Photo, Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

Dr. Dillon Burroughs is one of America’s top communicators on today’s Christian issues. He serves as senior writer of The John Ankerberg Show and is author or coauthor of nearly 40 books. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He lives with his wife and three children in Tennessee.