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Monday, May 6, 2019

Bill Preston's track and field figures (Click to enlarge)
Coach Bill's metal track and field figures

"Lessons From Coach"
"Running The Race Set Before Us"

Message summary: The Christian race begins when we accept Christ and continues until we finish the race at either the time of our death or when He returns for His church. So let us bravely run the race till we see Christ! 

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"I run in the path of Your commands" (Psalm 119:32). "They shall run and not be weary" (Isaiah 40:31). "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).

Coach Bill Preston 4/29/19
Last week we visited our friends, Bill and Patty Preston, whom we first met ten years ago when they lived in New Jersey. Several years ago they moved to rural Pennsylvania near Chambersburg. For over 50 years Bill served as a track and field coach in high school and college.

I recall the esteem I had for coaches in my various athletic endeavors of youth who often went by the one word moniker "Coach" and that's what I prefer to call Bill.

Coach is now 81 but remains very athletic. In his home he showed me a collection of metal stick figures representing various track and field positions (see photo above). As we looked them over I picked them up, and recalling my high school track and field participation, identified each one. Then an idea for a Daily Encouragement series came to mind.

In several places the Bible describes the Christian life as running a race. The race most analogous to the Christian life is the marathon which is run over a very specific course, usually on a road, comprising 26 miles and 385 yards. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon (the namesake of the race), to Athens.

The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. More than 500 marathons are held throughout the world each year, with the vast majority of competitors being recreational athletes. The Boston Marathon has some 30,000 participants and some 1,000,000 people will line the course cheering on the runners, according to the Boston Athletic Association. We've been there twice, once at the finish line and once at Heartbreak Hill.

This week we want to draw some spiritual lessons from the race. Most of our references will be from the New Testament but today's first reference is a gem found in the longest chapter in the entire Bible, Psalm 119!

I am blessed by the phrase "I run in the path of Your commands". God, through His Word, has provided the life time course for us. His commands are markers along the way keeping us on track. Failure to keep His commands will most certainly get us off course.

A current example of one who ran in the path of God's commands from the time of his youth until the day God called him home last Thursday, May 2, is 89 year old Bible Teacher, Commentator, and Author of 150 books, Warren W. Wiersbe. His example, his wisdom and his teaching left an indelible mark on countless pastors, Christian leaders and laypersons alike.
Since archiving the messages online in 2005 we have referred to Warren Wiersbe 115 times. He was not just a student and teacher of God's Word, he lived according to God's commands. He didn't try to explain them in a way that sought to please itchy ears nor did he seek to align them with current philosophies of our day that contradict Scripture. Instead he ran in the path of God's commands to his final breath.

In Hebrews we read that we are to "run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1). For every believer, the Christian race begins when we accept Christ and continues till we finish the race at either the time of our death, such as Wiersbe, or when Jesus returns for His church. So let us bravely run the race till we see Christ!

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!
Lifeís trials will seem so small when we see Christ.
One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase.
So, bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we look to You for strength and guidance on our life's race. Your commands teach us the way we are to walk and the way we are to respond to the bumps and potholes we encounter on the journey. We want to run in the path of Your commands, because that is where You teach us how to follow Your decrees. You cheer us on by Christ's example and by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit that sustains us in our struggle against sin. Keep us faithful to the end, for the end is only the beginning. We seek to run the race before us, strong and brave to face the foe, looking only unto Jesus as we onward go. Amen.

This week our series will be on lessons from life's race:
Monday: "Running The Race Set Before Us"
Tuesday: "The Start"
Wednesday: "The Hurdles"
Thursday: "The Relay"
Friday: "The Finish"

Today we will share a few more photos from our visit to Franklin County last week.

John Deere mailbox Adams County, PA 4/28/19
Hitting this mailbox post will do some serious damage to you vehicle!

Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum, Rt 30 Adams County, PA 04/29/19
Along Rt 30 near Fayetteville we passed Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium!

Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum, Rt 30 Adams County, PA 04/29/19

Thaddeus Stevens Blacksmith Shop, Franklin County, PA 04/29/19
Thaddeus Stevens Blacksmith Shop, Franklin County, PA. The Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology here in Lancaster is named for him.

Mont Alto Chapel Franklin County, PA 04/29/19
The former Mont Alto Episcopal Chapel is now part of the Penn State Mont Alto campus. John Brown was said to have preached here in the weeks before his raid at Harper's Ferry.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"It Will Be Worth It All"  Video  Local congregation sung the way we would have some 40 years ago and some still do. This song has the line, "so bravely run the race".

"Grace on Top of Grace"  Video   Fellowship Creative

"Worth It All"  Video  The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Warren WiersbeHonoring a Bible study mentor:

Wiersbe has long been a favorite author of Stephen's and mine. Many times we've quoted him on these posts and the "Be" series really got us hooked on his style of writing along with the biblical depth of his words. A simple quote that I read many years ago I have often repeated either in our writings or to one undergoing trial is, "Faith that cannot be tested is faith that cannot be trusted" attempting to assure the individual that "testing" is not a sign of one's weakness or wrongdoing, it's a measurable marker of one's faith and helps to uphold and strengthen it. We saw the Wiersbes a couple of times and found them to be very approachable.

Stephen and I once taught a Bible Study "Being a Child of God" which did not include a study guide so I write a study guide for each lesson. I sent him a completed copy of all the lessons, hoping for his blessings that I had presented his materials and asked questions properly aligned with his teachings. I was so pleased to receive a very nice handwritten note from him, approving and affirming my efforts. He indicated that he probably should have written a study guide and even expressed appreciation that I had done so. He also indicated that the editor would be changing the name of the book on a future revision though I found this one on Amazon. Once again, I was blessed by this remarkable teacher and his kind words to a much less learned and skilled Bible teacher.

Wiersbe's thoughts regarding his skill as a Theologian/Bible teacher/Author: "Writing to me is a ministry. Iím not an athlete, Iím not a mechanic. I canít do so many of the things that successful men can do. But I can read and study and think and teach. This is a beautiful, wonderful gift from God. All Iím doing is using what Heís given to me to teach people, and to give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ."

Finally today: Following a meal together at the Crackerbarrel in Chambersburg Bill had a doctor's appointment and Patty went with him. Here's a note we received from her:

Coach Bill Preston 4/29/19Something funny happened and I just have to share it with you. I had never been to this doctor with him but because we were so close I went with him and took along a book to read. I was sitting in the waiting room, reading my book, and the doctor opened the door from the treatment area and stood there looking at me. He was holding up the sweater that Bill had been wearing, but Bill was not in it. He asked me if I recognized it. I said that it was the sweater that Bill had been wearing when he came in. What had happened to Bill? I asked why he was holding it. My first thought was that Bill had died and the doctor was returning his sweater to me and I said that to the doctor. Or, had he gotten sick and removed the sweater so I could wash it? I had no idea why the doctor was holding his sweater. If you recall, it was a crew neck sweater with rather bold red and tan stripes. The doctor said that he told Bill several times how how much he liked the sweater. It reminded him of his college days. Bill removed the sweater and handed it to the doctor. Bill insisted that he take it since he liked it so much. So, Bill hadn't given him the "shirt off his back" but he had given him his sweater. I told Bill later that I wondered if the Rapture had occurred and I had been left behind!

Bill's sweater on doctor 4/29/19
The doctor sent Patty a photo of him wearing the sweater and informed her it made him feel young again!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLEģ, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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