I pray that you are all doing well and that you had a blessed Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends! We truly have so much to be thankful for, and I hope you spent some time thanking the giver of all good and perfect gifts (James 1:17). My Thanksgiving was fantastic. Among my list of praises is the FCA Endurance ministry team. I'm so grateful for the men and women who have been called to boldly make disciples through endurance sports. I'm blessed by your commitment and sacrifices to accomplish our mission! Thank you for your partnership and your fellowship.
As we move through Thanksgiving, we also enter the Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and the general Christmas shopping barrage. This excitement and all of the "money-saving opportunities" can easily combine with our 2014 endurance-related goals to produce an all-consuming desire to quickly acquire more stuff. Some is strategically selected to shave seconds off our next triathlon, while others will at least make us look cooler as we finish where we may. Some is seemingly inexpensive, and some requires saving (or financing) for months or years. From shoes and bikes, to Garmins and carbon (fill in the blank), to race fees and travel; we get excited thinking about, researching, and buying our next race-related item. All of it somehow seems to make sense, and we can easily justify it as an investment in ourselves and our dreams.
As I write this, I'm certainly not trying to dissuade any of the above purchases, but it did get me thinking about some honest questions we should all reflect on.
- Are you as excited about investing in the Lord's work as you are about your next pair of shoes or upgrading your bike frame or wheel set?
- Do you long for the opportunity to feed the poor as much as you anticipate registering for or racing your next "A" race?
- Do you make the same sacrifices to support your church that you do to buy a new power meter or travel to a race destination?
- What consumes your mind, inspires and breaks your heart, and takes the primary chunk of your financial resources?
If you've never spent significant time thinking about questions similar to these, I strongly encourage you to do so, and quickly. While participation in endurance sports can be a wonderful thing and a great blessing on so many levels, it can also subtly (or not) start to consume your mind, heart, and resource supply. Because of that, it is crucial that we continue to guard our hearts, renew our minds, and commit to that which is most important... to God! We must remain attached to the vine of Christ though our intentional pursuit of Him so that we can bear eternal fruit (Jn. 15:5).
This is one more reason why it's so important to remain faithful in the spiritual disciplines that have been given to us by God through His Word, His Son, and His people. In recent months I've written about spending intentional time in regular communion with God through reading His Word and prayer. More is certainly coming on that. However, this month, I also wanted to mention the discipline and blessing of giving!
You see, God knows the trap that money and stuff can be in our lives. That's one of the reasons why He is so intentional about addressing such issues through His Word. Jesus warns of the snare of riches and wealth (Mk. 10:23, Luke 12:15-21, 16:19-31), and God's Word is clear about wise stewardship of the resources He puts in our hands, including generous, sacrificial giving to our Lord and His people (2 Cor. 9:6-7, Mk. 12:41-44). May we all, like the church in Macedonia, give joyfully and sacrificially, first of ourselves and then of the resources God has placed in our hands (2 Cor. 8:1-15).
As you prayerfully, joyfully, and obediently give God your first and best time, talent, and treasure, I wanted to invite each of you to support not only your local church but also FCA Endurance. As a faith-funded partner of the Church, we are 100% dependent on the Lord for our provision. This usually comes in the form of gifts from His people who are called to invest in our mission. Typically, approximately 25% of our yearly budget has been given in November and December, and this year is budgeted to be about same. We are praying for $32,000 in the month of December, and gifts that are given this month will allow us to meet our yearly ministry goals and strategies. Will you be a part of the Lord's funding plan for FCA Endurance? Billy Graham once said, "Give me five minutes with a person's checkbook, and I will tell you where their heart is." May our heart be right, and may our treasures be in heaven! God bless you as you fight the world's marketing campaigns and our culture's consumer mentality, giving joyfully and sacrificially.
As we get ready to finish the year well, I also wanted to celebrate a few ministry blessings. The Phoenix Huddle is developing a great tradition of ministry around Ironman Arizona, and this year was blessed indeed! We were present at the event expo and hosted an Iron Prayer on the expo grounds. Around 75 people gathered to worship through song and prayer. A wonderful message was given by Ben Greenfield regarding finding your identity in Jesus versus as a triathlete. Huddle members were also able to pray for many athletes who submitted requests through the booth and at the Iron Prayer. Huddle members served through the race, and we were able to include fliers in the athletes' race packets thanks to our service and the partnership of Don Campbell. Lastly, we also had at least thirty athletes competing in the race. What a great opportunity! Thanks to John and Debbie Foster, as well as all of our Teammates at this event, for their great faithfulness in service!
We also wanted to celebrate the
San Antonio and New Braunfels, TX Huddles. The San Antonio Huddle held a Multiply Gathering in early November, which turned into a wonderful dinner and time of fellowship. They also set-up their ministry tent along the Rock 'n Roll Marathon course and were able to pray for many who either stopped or shared requests as they passed by. Lastly, thanks to New Braunfels Huddle Leader Rebecca Marrou serving as a packet stuffer, we were able to include around 2,000 FCA Endurance postcards in a local half marathon's race bags! This was followed up by manning an aid station out on the course. They persevered through freezing rain and 40 mph wind gusts to serve racers... now that is commitment! Thanks to John, Claudia, Blake, Rebecca, and all of the other Huddle members for their faithfulness!
We also wanted to celebrate a few new Huddle Leaders:
Kate Freiheit - Kate is a FCA Staff candidate up in the Portland, OR area. She has a heart for endurance ministry and will be working with Mary Jane, Art, and others in that area to increase our impact for Christ through running!
J.C. Walker - J.C. is from the DC area, and we're excited about him stepping into a servant leadership role up around our nation's capital! God bless your ministry J.C.
- Brandon Roush - Brandon has quickly connected with our Orlando staff and key volunteers, and we're excited about getting that Huddle back up and rolling! Please join us in prayer for the fruitfulness of our ministry in Orlando.
As we close this newsletter, I wanted to pass on a few quick ministry updates:
- For those who missed the Multiply Gathering live webcast on November 8, we strongly encourage you to set aside some time and watch the replay. As expected, it was powerful! It is available as a free download, and we recommend watching it as a small group, with the individual(s) you are discipling, or by yourself. If you watch it, we would love to hear your response via our Facebook Page or on The Body.
- We are now one month closer to our 2nd FCA Endurance Triathlon Camp, held February 21-23 at the Ramada Hotel Foothills in Tucson. We're still confirming our camp staff and schedule, but you can count on this being a wonderful time of fellowship, coaching, and training. Registration is now open, and we'll keep updating the details as they become available via the Pulse and our camp page. If you have any questions, you can also contact our Camp Director, Barry Edwards
We're still exploring what our 2014 options will look like for this race, but we hope to have a HUGE ministry presence and impact here. That said, before you sign-up, please contact Sierra Snyder.
She'll help coordinate any special opportunities that we have and keep you in the loop.
- NEW! I can't believe it's not yellow! It looks great though and just might make a wonderful Christmas gift!
Thank you again for your partnership in making disciples! I continue to be grateful for you!