As Far as the East is from the West

Recently while sitting on my deck early one morning, I was blessed to look up and see a full rainbow. After spending time thanking God for His promises and His faithfulness, I moved to my front porch because it started to rain. (The porch is covered; the deck is not.)

The view from my front porch was the sun rising over the clouds on the horizon. God’s magnificence shone brightly, and I was in awe of His majestic glory.

Within 30 minutes time, God took me from thankfulness of His promises and faithfulness to awe over his glory and majesty. God reminded me once again of His goodness and mercy in my life, and I found myself in a place of wonder all over again at His sacrifice of Jesus for me.

As His presence that morning moved from looking to a rainbow in the western sky to the sunrise in the eastern sky, I was reminded of Psalm 103:12 where it says God has removed my sins from me as far as the east is from the west.

Wow! That means, once we’re forgiven, we can’t reach our sins. We may still live in their consequences or allow our guilt to fog our vision, but that’s us remembering them. God chooses to forget!

Can’t quite grasp that concept? Me either. That’s why we need faith. He’s God. We’re not. His ways are not our ways. We remember our sins and the sins of others even after they’re forgiven. He doesn’t.

Take a minute to read Psalm 103 in its entirety. Like David, we can live in deliberate thankfulness for the ways of God, knowing that He is compassionate, loving, kind, righteous and strong. We can be thankful that He rules over all even if we don’t even come close to understanding Him.

DISCUSSION: How does nature remind you of the presence and goodness of God?

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How to… Be Persistent

So many times I have said, “I give up.” Yet, I never could quite follow through. Something inside of me always refused to ultimately quit. Emotions led me to a place of despair, but I would always start up again when my feelings subsided.

Persistence is just one of the essential elements that allow us to Be Victorious. Persistence is, simply, the refusal to give up, and sometimes that’s all I had.

In my health journey, which really began in early childhood, many unknowns led to constant frustration. Chronic depression plagued me and gradually worsened with age. When I became a parent, persistence finally awoke in me as I realized that depression was not a legacy I wanted to leave my children.

So I began researching, seeing different doctors and exercising more. I played around with different eating plans and different medications and vitamins. Very gradually, answers came.

The way to a victorious life over depression and general ill health came largely through the role persistence played, lessons that anyone can learn to apply to any situation.

  1. Root out the root cause. Our culture likes to treat symptoms, and true wellness continues to evade us because we fail to dig out the root cause. Through a lot of research and digging, I finally discovered that the root cause of most of my health problems – including depression – was an undiagnosed food allergy and several intolerances. Once I started addressing this root cause, health like never before became the norm for my life.
  2. Realize that no one can be persistent for you. Not my husband. Not my pastor. Not any doctor. Only I could push through in my life to discover what I needed to in order to be healthy. Once I quit relying on others to find answers for me, the answers began to come. This does not mean others don’t help, but the persistence must be your own.
  3. Review your motivation regularly. For the first twenty years, I was just miserably depressed half the time. Eventually, I wanted health because of what it would do for me and the happiness it would bring. God changed my motivation to wanting to be healthy in order to be a good wife and mother and even more so to glorify Him. Motivation provided fuel for my persistence.
  4. Remain in Christ. For as long as I can remember, I have felt a pull toward studying the Word of God. And gradually, I learned to not just read the Bible but to apply it to my life. I learned that my physical and mental health was intimately intertwined with my spiritual health. True health and wellness comes through Christ and relying on Him. As I learned to focus on His will for my life, I discovered that a healthier life existed within the path He directed me down. In other words, my focus determined my reality.
  5. Remove emotions from decisions. For over 20 years, depression ran my life. How I felt mentally determined my every action. In other words, I was miserable most of the time. Gradually, I learned that even when I was tired and weary, I could put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. When I learned to make plans and then let the Lord direct my steps, I learned that I could make right choices outside of my emotions.

Throughout this journey, I remained driven to discovering the root cause for my ill health. Turns out that the concept of a root cause exists for most areas of life in which we struggle, and my struggle to victory in the area of physical health really created a template for discovering victory in other areas as well.

While so many people supported my journey, no one could be persistent for me. Persistence led me not only to victory with my physical and mental health but also with my spiritual health too because I learned to rely more and more on Him – the True Vine – to bring my health and wellness.

DISCUSSION: What role has persistence played in your life?

Related Post: What Does the Bible Say About Persistence?

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Summer Reflections

Seems like my boys got out of school just yesterday. While it went so very fast, we had a great summer!

When asked recently if they were bored and ready to go back to school, both my boys quickly said, “No!” When I asked them why, they began talking about their memories from this summer.

They remembered Bible camp, art classes and road trips. They remembered making extra money working for others and hanging out with friends. They talked about exercising together, swimming, camping, our family reunion, our garden, and going to the library and garage sales. They loved PF Chang’s (see picture), hot dog Mondays (you’d be amazed at what tastes good on a hot dog) and eating at Weenie King.

I’m glad they have those memories. But what’s even more important is that someday they understand that through them while these memories were being created, I learned several significant lessons.

What did my boys teach me this summer?

  1. Just enough sometimes is okay. At the beginning of summer, I decided to do just the bare minimum with blogging and other projects. This approach allowed for more time with my boys. Doing just enough in one area allowed me to do more than enough in another.
  2. Responsibility sometimes means losing control. With my youngest entering middle school this year, we focused more on teaching responsibility. Through some tough days, I learned that I needed to give up controlling them in order for them to truly learn responsibility.
  3. Interaction forces application. During the school year, most of my days are spent alone. Summertime means being with my boys most of the time. All that I read, study and learn during my alone times are forced into application. Patience. Flexibility. Compromise. Preferring. Time to apply and prove my own learning completed during the school year.
  4. The best memories exist in ordinary moments. Sure, we had out-of-the-ordinary moments this summer, but the moments that resonate the most are ones made during ordinary living. Grocery shopping. Cooking. Exercising. Practicing sports. Reading. Gardening. Yard work. When my boys were learning to be men, these are the memories that I treasure most in my heart.

Is all of this part of “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6)? Before now, this scripture meant teaching scripture and the importance of spending time with God and His Word. It also meant teaching the value of prayer and fellowship. And while all of these are true, I realize now that my view of this scripture has been limited.

Now I see that training a child “in the way that he should go” also means showing how Jesus impacts my life. It means making sure they know He truly directs my steps. It means that though my imperfections often shine all too clearly, His forgiveness and grace constantly shine in my weaknesses.

Someday, when my boys remember our summers together, I want them to know that in their summer memories, live lessons God taught me through them. I want them to understand the Holy Spirit’s working in my life, so they can know how He wants to work in their lives too.

A New Vision for My Life

Well, today’s the day. TODAY is the 11th Anniversary of My 29th Birthday. I’ve finally reached an age that no longer sounds young to me. I have reached “middle age.” (Is that anything like Middle Earth?)

I have been attempting to come to terms with my aging for a while now, and I think I am starting to believe that there is a new vision for my life. This point did not come in the form of an epiphany by any means; instead, it came gradually and through unexpected paths.

About two years ago, I began to feel that God was leading me on a quest (hey, this is getting to be more and more like Middle Earth) to discover His vision for my life beyond 40. That realization began as I was reading the book of Isaiah.

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the dessert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Part of that quest involves my health journey, which I talk about in How to… Be Victorious. About a week ago, through comments in the post Approaching Halftime, several of my online friends encouraged me in another aspect of my quest with the following pieces of advice.

“The best is yet to come.”

When I look back over the past 40 years, that statement has held true for sure, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t continue to do so. So even though a part of me wishes this life involved immortality (if I could be any mythical creature, it would be an elf), knowing that “the best is yet to come” adds an excitement to life.

“We are not guaranteed tomorrow.”

Because any of our lives could end in a blink of the eye (just watch the news if that fact isn’t clear), enjoying the gift of today provides tremendous motivation for discovering and living out the vision God has created for my life. Thinking on this statement encourages me to truly “make the most of every opportunity” that God gives me within each and every day (Ephesians 5:15-16).

“Celebrate the gift of life.”

The gift of life includes the joy of family. It’s thankfulness for successes achieved. Knowing that life is a gift means realizing that God allows dreams and goals to unfold when we don’t even realize it and in doing so creates something to celebrate that is bigger than our greatest imaginations. Celebrating this gift of life has to involve not letting birthdays burden you. And certainly it also means sharing that gift, and more importantly the Giver, with others.

A New Vision for My Life

I do not know specifically what God’s “new vision” looks like for my life, but I do know that it involves better than I can imagine, more joy in my life and celebrating His goodness and mercy. Even though my thoughts sometimes dwell too much on the past or too often on “what ifs,” I know that He is creating a roadway for me to follow and rivers that will bring refreshment along that journey.

Sometimes we will wish parts of our lives did not happen and that we could erase them. And too often, perhaps, we pretend they really didn’t happen and fail to ever really deal with them.

Frodo: “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”

Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

(Fellowship of the Ring)

But instead of living in regret, the birthday present I am giving myself, is to now decide how to live out the time that has been given me and to age gracefully. And even though I may not know the specific details of that living, I do know that it involves a tremendously hopeful future (Jeremiah 29:11).

DISCUSSION: If this post reads like I struggled through writing it, that’s because I did. Do you have any recent struggles that you have made public to allow others to come along side you in your journey?

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How to… Age Gracefully

The word graceful, when sticking purely to the dictionary definition of the word, characterizes a beauty of movement, style, form and execution. Being graceful holds the tendency to be elegant and smooth. Graceful also seems to suggest ease and wealth to some extent. Being graceful also carries with it charm, good taste, kindness and generosity of spirit. To me, the world’s view of being graceful gets at a sort of charisma someone either has or doesn’t have.

While there certainly are many characteristics of being graceful that appeal to me, especially kindness and generosity of spirit, the idea of being what the world considers graceful remains elusive. Honestly, graceful has never been a word used to describe me.

But that doesn’t mean that living gracefully isn’t a huge part of who I am. In fact, the presence of grace in my life determines everything about me. Without grace, my life would be absent of hope.

In Approaching Halftime, I listed four life lessons that are helping me to live in God’s grace. His grace drives my life in a way that allows me to truly age gracefully. Because of His gift of grace, my life can be one of impact and meaning that would otherwise not exist or at least be only temporal.

Knowing the impact of the grace of God in my life, I can dive into life with the freedom that only His grace can bring. To me, that is the essence of living gracefully.

God’s grace in my life equates to his favor (Genesis 6:8) and His forgiving mercy (Romans 11:6). His grace is the source of my salvation (Acts 15:11). His all-abundant (Romans 5:15-20) and all-sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) grace is something I can abound in (Romans 5:2), be strong in (2 Timothy 2:1) and grow in (2 Peter 3:18).

So how does all of this translate into aging gracefully? For me, aging gracefully, as in living my life in a way that truly shows the presence of God grace, means deliberately planning my way knowing that His constant guidance directs my every step (Proverbs 16:9). With that, I offer the following “plans” for aging gracefully in the second half of my life.

  1. Embrace aging and use it to inspire & instruct others. (Titus 2)
  2. Get to know God better than ever before. (2 Peter 3:18)
  3. Step outside my comfort zone regularly. (2 Kings 5:1-16 & Matthew 14:22-33)
  4. Share how God’s favor has worked and continues to work in my life. (Genesis 6:8)
  5. Seek to show His power through my weaknesses. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I considered setting SMART goals for these “plans,” but that approach didn’t seem quite right. At that point, God used a comment by @tnealtarver from A Curious Band of Others on my post Approaching Halftime to redirect how I approach accomplishing them. In his comment, Tom said, “I just read the opening chapter of Deb MacComber’s “God’s Guest List“yesterday. She said she wrote out a list of 30 people she wanted to meet and she did meet them. Many were major disappointments. Then she felt God prompt her to create another “30 People to Meet” list. This time she would leave the lines blank and allow God to fill them in. I think that might be good advice for goals as well.”

Because God’s grace abounds in my life, it turns out that grace really is a word that can be used to describe me. In fact, when it’s His grace that gets the glory, embracing the idea of aging gracefully becomes not only a way to help me come to terms with inevitable aging, but it also helps keep Him as the focus of all that I am and do.

And as the “how to” accomplish the plans listed above are left blank, a new excitement is brewing in my spirit. Could it be that I’m finally looking forward to the 40s? No, I’m sure it’s not that!

DISCUSSION: Are you aging gracefully? How has God’s grace worked in your life?

Weekend Reflections – Making Memories

Up until this past weekend, my family and I have gone camping with other families when we go. This time, though, it was just the four of us. My boys were forced to redefine what camping meant to them. Before, camping meant spending time with friends generally their age. It meant more than being just with the people with whom they live and spend their daily lives.

When they found out this trip would be “just the four of us,” both boys seemed at a loss of what we would do to fill the time. In other words, they were certain it would be boring. When I saw their disappointment and the anticipation and excitement drain from their eyes, a determination rose up in me to show them how to choose to make a disappointing situation become a memorable experience.

Sugar

I don’t like it. I don’t eat much of it usually. Yet, so many of life’s pleasures have it. At some point, I simply came to terms with the idea that letting my kids have s’mores with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and chewy chocolate chip cookies wasn’t being a bad mom. It’s creating a memory that will span generations. Besides, it’s not like we have them for breakfast. (Okay, maybe cookies once, but that’s it.) The point is that having treats like this goes a long way in making the trip memorable for my family simply because it was special and not something they normally get.

Fire

Making popcorn over a campfire in a coffee can. Cooking almost all our meals over the fire. Watching things melt. Yes, we probably sometimes broke the rule to not play with fire, but at least it was contained. All campers are captivated by this element around which all campsites center. As we sat there at various times during the day and every evening, we constantly ended up“fanning the flames” of connection in our family in some way. (Check out 1 Timothy 1:3-7 for added emphasis on the importance of family connection.)We remembered a lot of fun times, we joked, we talked about when my husband and I were kids, and we even talked about books and movies. And at some point we got to words that might not have ever been said in the company of others or even at the dinner table at home. Family words spoken in the dark as we watched the fire.

Movement

We spent a lot of time just sitting and relaxing or reading, but a large part of this trip was about activity. Most of this activity necessitated family interaction. Corn hole. Bike rides. Walks. Swimming. We competed with each other, and we even trash talked some. Movement together as a family leads to compromise, conflict resolution, preferring and encouraging. At home, we can find separate corners of the house when irritations arise. While camping, there’s no real getting away from one another. Camping can promote much-needed interaction as a family, especially in the absence of electronics (which I highly recommend, by the way).

Disappointing to Memorable

Seems silly to bring sugar, fire and movement together in a post reflecting on my weekend, but as I think about this past weekend and what we did to create memories, I realize that these three elements really came together to allow us to be fully present as individuals in a family unit. They helped create an atmosphere that allowed each one of us to enjoy every moment together.

Which brings me full circle to turning disappointing into memorable. The elements that seem essential for that recipe include being fully present, doing something special, creating the right atmosphere, moving together and preferring one another. Sure, there are tons of ways to create memories as a family, but don’t they all really contain the same ingredients? What ingredients am I missing?

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Approaching Halftime

Sorry to be selfish today, but I need to write this post for me. Why? Because this post is all about preparing me for an event I have dreaded for the last 10 years. It’s about assessing where I am and where I want to be. This post involves me documenting the process by which I have come to realize that I am aging and can’t do a thing about it.

As The 11th Anniversary of my 29th Birthday now lies just a week away (no, I still can’t say that number), taking a post to publicly assess some aspects of my life seems not only appropriate but necessary in my preparation for halftime (meaning, the mid-point of my life on earth).

Setting Goals

Just under a year ago, I decided to set some goals to reach by my, um, next birthday. My 40 by 40 Bucket List resulted from this decision. Actually, setting these goals (or at least publicly declaring them) got me started blogging, but my main reason was to find a way to come to terms with my inevitable aging.

Some goals were reached fully and some partially. Injury prevented others from being completed. Others, I lost interest in very quickly, which tells me I probably set some wrong goals. In some ways, my motives were wrong for some of my goals.

In considering why I reached some goals and why others were missed, several life lessons have surfaced for me. Lessons I believe that are helping me to age gracefully.

  1. We don’t always have control over whether or not we reach a goal.
  2. Some goals are just not right for us right now.
  3. Goals are tools for character development even if they aren’t reached.
  4. Motives play a big role in motivation for reaching goals.
  5. You’re not a failure if you don’t reach a goal.

Making Adjustments

With these lessons learned, I have one major adjustment in my goal setting.  Instead of setting another round of goals for the next monumental birthday (don’t even try to get me to say that number), I instead simply put all my goals into one Lifetime Bucket List. I think part of my mistake before was forcing myself to set a certain number of goals instead of setting the goals that were right for me regardless of how many there were.

There is a lot of advice available on goal setting. Honestly, it all overwhelms me. So, I focus on the bare minimum, what some call the SMART way to set goals. Even with this guideline, I realize that I would not get great marks from a goal-setting guru. But, I am learning what works for me and moving forward in that.

Honestly, I hate the idea of being too structured with my goal setting. I feel too confined and fear limiting the Holy Spirit’s directing in my life. But I am also aware of God’s indicating a need for balance in this area.

Proverbs 6:6-11 clearly indicates that we need to work and not be lazy with our lives and that we must make certain plans for this to happen. On the other hand, James 4:13-14 clearly shows that our lives can change from day to day and so too must our plans.

In making adjustments with my personal goals, my intent lies with creating a balance between making motivational plans and allowing for inevitable change.

Final Thoughts

As I enter my last week with an age I think still sounds young, I feel good to at least have some goals established even if I know many will change and some not come to fruition at all. Goal setting has provided, for me, a way to assess what I’ve done and map out what I want to do. It has helped me write the story of my life.

Shopenhoaur said best the sentiment I am trying to portray here:

“The first forty years of life give us the text; the next forty supply the commentary.”

I am ready to start writing the commentary on the text of my life.

DISCUSSION: Any advice for someone entering a new stage of life? (PLEASE don’t say, “Age is just a number.” I hate that.) Does my experience and struggle with goal setting resonate with anyone?

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How to… Be Victorious

Let’s first be clear that victory ultimately belongs to the Lord. Throughout the Old Testament, we see numerous examples of victories brought by God to those who honor Him. And for every Christian, ultimate victory – the victory over sin, death and the devil – came through Christ alone. We already have that victory.

Victory within our individual lives comes from inside and shows outwardly in how we live our lives. Once we have ultimate victory through Christ and the freedom that comes with it, how do we then live victorious lives? How can we live lives that make being a Christian attractive? (Titus 2:10)

Victory isn’t necessarily about winning the race or game, but it does involve running “in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24). In other words, it involves running your best race. (See the story of Oscar Pistorius for a wonderful modern-day example of this.)

Victory is actually defined as winning the mastery in battle over odds or difficulties. With this perspective, let’s look at some of the elements that better enable us to be victorious from the inside in

a way that is lived on the outside.

Persistence: Simply refuse to give up. (Romans 2:7)

Knowledge: Don’t be handicapped by ignorance when you can help it. (Proverbs 2:10-11)

Wisdom: There’s a big difference between knowledge alone and knowledge with understanding.  (Proverbs 4:7)

Growth: Never underestimate the power of incremental growth over time. (2 Peter 3:18)

Action: Pray, make a decision, and move forward. (Proverbs 16:9)

In the coming weeks, we will look at each of these elements using the context of a health journey I took over the past 2 ½ years. My hope is that the elements involved in my journey to victory in this area will become tools others use to find their own path to victory.

One caveat. Please know that I fully believe that real, lasting victory in any area is only possible through God’s Holy Spirit working in and through an individual. True victory cannot be obtained by human power alone. Yet, God does ask us to step out in faith and follow the path to victory.

DISCUSSION: What are your thoughts on the elements listed above? What other elements do you feel are essential to victory? 

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Sunday Reflections – Live Dead

When missionary Curt Wolfe talks about his call to plant churches in unreached areas around the world, he begins by talking about removing distractions and purging them from his life. For Wolfe, this means selling most of his material possessions and moving his family halfway around the globe to minister to the Arab world.

Wolfe challenges the rest of us, both by his words and actions, to “live dead” in order to present the gospel to the 2.8 billion people worldwide who have not yet heard it. These people are following the only path they know. They don’t know there’s another choice.

So what does the phrase “live dead” mean?

Conditional Obedience

Genesis 12 tells about Abram leaving his home without knowing where he was going. He was “obedient by faith” (Hebrews 11:8). All Abram knew was the next step. He also had the promise of God’s blessings (Genesis 12:2-3).

As we think about life in America today, so often we live in obedience only when the conditions are right. If we have time, if there’s enough money, if it upgrades our lives… If just the right conditions exist, we will walk in obedience.

Do you need to have the conditions perfect before moving out of your comfort zone? Does a change have to be an improvement or upgrade before you’ll make it? Do you need to understand everything perfectly and know every step to take before moving forward?

Two Types of Christians

Genesis 13 tells of Abram reaching a point where the land simply could not support all the people and livestock. So, Abram told his nephew Lot to choose where he wanted to live, and Abram would live in what was left. Lot chose the best land.

Following the story of Lot through, we find devastation and corruption, while Abram’s story is one of the fulfillment of God’s blessing. How is this possible?

There exist two types of Christians, and the lives of Lot and Abram poignantly reflect these. Lot Christians go looking for their blessings. And many times, as with Lot, they never find them and end up being corrupted by the surrounding culture. Abram Christians know they are already blessed, and they allow God’s blessing to fully come to fruition in their lives through walking in obedience.

Are you a Lot Christian or an Abram Christian?

Catch & Release Christianity

A catch & release Christian is one who realizes that blessings come in order to allow others to be blessed. Blessed to be a blessing.

Consider a body of water with no outlet. The water and surrounding area become murky and stinky and avoided. In order to be vibrant and fresh and living water, there needs to be an outlet. The water must flow in and then back out again.

Why are you blessed? Do your blessings sit in your house or garage waiting for you to have time for them? Or do your blessings flow into the lives of others as you reach out into a hurting world?

So back to the original question. What does the phrase “live dead” mean?

To “live dead” means to let go of excuses that keep us from obedience. It means realizing that while conditions may not appear to be right for us to move, they are right for God to move.

Dying to self means giving God everything and letting Him give back to you what you need to do His will. It means holding nothing back from God, regardless of the conditions surrounding you.

Living in the blessings that God has promised and choosing to be a blessing to others are also a part of choosing to “live dead.”

God may not call you to become a missionary and movie to Egypt, but he does call you to move. Allowing His call to become alive and active in your life, to let the condition of your heart be one that is obedient by faith, is what it means to “live dead.” What must you do in your life to “live dead”?

Want to know more about Missionary Curt Wolfe & his family? Check out their personal blog as well as their plan for developing church planting teams in 33 gateway cities in the Middle East.

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Olympic Christians

It’s at the end of many victories in the Olympics. The hand point to Heaven. The upward glance. Athletes giving credit to God for their victory. Many even verbally acknowledge Him in television interviews. These outward expressions appear legitimate.

Whether it’s the person behind you in the pew or even in your same house, only God knows the legitimacy of their faith in Him. We can’t really know for sure.

Yet, the Bible does give instructions for giving evidence of the reality of the faith. John 13:35 says, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Since I’m a curious person, I wanted to know more about Olympians who are also Christians. More than seeing them finger point and look up, I wanted to know about their lives outside of them being Olympians and if there was evidence of the love Jesus talked about.

In Christian Olympians Give God the Praise at London Summer Games , an article feature tweats where athletes acknowledge God, Lolo Jones said, “Thank You Lord for another opportunity.” Tamika Catchings sent the tweet, “Random praise B4 bed… Where would I be without His grace? So thankful for all the blessings tht continually shower down on me #Godisgood.”

Great examples of expressing one’s faith publicly. But what about showing love? Jones’ life story certainly is inspiring in a Tim Tebow sort of way. Even Time Magazine acknowledges her faith in an article focusing on redemption after her fall in the Beijing Olympics.

Catchings, WNBA MVP and member of the 2012 Women’s Olympic Basketball team, definitely provides inspiration simply by overcoming hearing deficiencies. In addition to her outstanding basketball skills, Catchings is known for being actively involved in (and founder of) Catch the Stars, a foundation that provides an opportunity for inner city kids to be positively reinforced through sports and education.”

In an interview with CBN, Catching says of her faith, ““It is hard to be a Christian in the WNBA… Just trying to walk with Him and not be pulled by all the negative forces from the outside. I think that what I do with my platform is that I live my life as Christ-like as I can.”

Two other athletes, Bryan Clay and Debbie Flood, also provide terrific examples of Olympians living for Jesus.

Bryan Clay, Olympic gold and silver medalist in the decathlon, failed to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, yet he’s going anyway. Why? To receive the 2012 Eric Liddell Award.

Debbie Flood, a two-time British Olympic silver medalist and three-time world champion in rowing, also received the award. (Flood did participate in this year’s Olympic games, but her rowing team was unable to secure a medal in their race.)

The 2012 Eric Liddell Award is awarded to one male and one female Olympian for outstanding “character at home, in the community and on and off the field of competition.”

Liddell was a committed Christian who won gold in the 400m at the 1924 Paris Olympics. You might have heard about him from the inspirational film Chariots of Fire. The award bearing his name honors one male and female athlete for outstanding character at home, in the community, and on and off the field of competition.

More important than their Olympic career is how they live out their faith. Clay founded the Bryan Clay Foundation in 2005 to help children discover their gifts and develop their character. Flood co-founded Creativity in Sport, a community interest organization giving at-risk youth opportunities to study positive life skills curriculum and work toward fitness teaching qualification.

Doesn’t knowing that an athlete lives for Christ make you want to cheer for them even more? While I enjoy watching the Olympics because of the athleticism and the excitement of the competition, I find joy in discovering athletes who achieve victory outside of their sport in ways that make an eternal difference.

DISCUSSION: What additional examples of Olympian Christians can you give? Does an Olympian being a Christian inspire you more than other Olympians?

Related “Olympic” Posts: