As August begins, we are at full capacity, with much to share, celebrate, and invite you to engage in! We've got athletes training, racing, and serving together all over the country each day. Iron Prayers and pre-race prayers are taking place each weekend. We've got an EMI Retreat in less than 3 weeks and another coming together in October. Huddles are engaged and growing, and new ones are forming! Our Board and staff are prayerfully working on our 2014 Strategic Plan and budget. We are uniting and equipping endurance athletes to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ and share Him with others in so many ways! Whew! With all of that going on, we'll try to keep our newsletter brief.
The first thing I would like to share is that we are launching our 2013 AMP Drive, which takes place now through the end of August. We've done this event for the past four years as a fun way to close our fiscal year "in the black," while building a stronger financial base as we head into our coming year. Our fiscal year ends August 31, and we are projecting a possible $8,600 deficit. However, we believe that God will provide what is needed and beyond through your financial partnership. Our prayer is that through this drive, the Lord will provide $9,000 in single gifts and $1,820/month in AMP support as we enter our 2014 fiscal year on Sept. 1. We invite you to review our AMP Drive site, prayerfully consider how you may financially support our ministry, and who knows... maybe even win a prize J.
Secondly, I would like to reflect back on last month's Aid Station, specifically regarding the question, "Are you disciplined where it really matters?" I hope this question has challenged and encouraged you over the past month as you have considered your personal pursuit of godliness (1 Tim 4:7-8). Where are you more disciplined... in your pursuit of a triathlon finish or PR, or your pursuit of God? What gets you up early, keeps you up late, consumes your mind, and creates financial sacrifice? These are good questions to honestly answer, and as necessary, use to readjust your focus, priorities, and behavior. As we reflect on this topic, I wanted to pass along one other encouragement and a resource to help you. I have found that as I walk with the Lord and consider spiritual disciplines, I need to constantly remind myself that the goal is NOT simply exercising a discipline, as if it were a homework assignment for a class I was trying to get an "A" in. Nor is it a task on my daily list of things to accomplish which will hopefully make me more successful, or in racing terms, faster. Rather, exercising spiritual discipline is a means to something so much greater, knowing and experiencing God! We have an opportunity and invitation to walk with the Spirit of God each moment; to commune with God, the Creator of the universe as His loved children. As we seek God, He reveals Himself, His beauty and His power. He works in and through us, conforming us to be more like Jesus. What is our response to this? Worship, praise, and glory to our God! This is the point. We get to experience God through intimate times of glorifying Him.
As we consider the various spiritual disciplines, I also wanted to pass along a resource. One key way to experience God and grow in godliness is to spend time with Him daily in His Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 states, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness..." Spending daily time in the Scriptures is a critical piece to training for righteousness, but I realize that some of you have never received any training on how to study God's Word. As such, I wanted to pass along a simple tool that may help you do this. As I do, I preface this by saying that there are many very good plans, systems, etc. out there, and this is just one tool to consider.
This tool is referred to as the "Four R's" of Bible reading, and I most recently heard about it through Dave Kraft's book, Leaders Who Last. I've slightly modified his descriptions, but these R's include:
- Read: After asking the Lord to guide your time, read the text slowly, noting any words , sentences or passages that impact you. Feel free to mark these words or passages and/or take notes regarding them.
- Reflect: Spend some time thinking about what you've read, especially the parts that drew your attention while reading. It may help to re-read all or part of the passage a second or third time. As you reflect, you can also explore the text in greater depth through Bible footnotes, commentaries, and other translations. Think about what the text says and what it means for you today.
- Respond: Ask what this text means for you? Remember the goal isn't to read as though it's a homework assignment. The goal is to experience God and be more like Jesus through the encounter. While the knowledge gained through reading and reflecting is valuable, your response may be the most important part of this experience. Your response demonstrates your faith and love of God, inviting you to move beyond scholarship. "Jesus answered, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him" (John 14:23).
- Record: Write down what the Lord revealed to you during this encounter. Record how it impacted you and what your response was and will be. Writing as either a prayer or as journal notes will help you better understand and remember this encounter, inviting a greater level of spiritual growth.
There you go. As you can see, reading is good, but it's only the beginning in terms of maximizing your training. Through our EMI Retreats, Pr. Paul vonWerder recommends that if you've got 15 minutes to read God's Word, then only spend 5 of it actually reading. Spend the other 10 minutes reflecting and responding to what God is teaching you. This will result in a greater understanding and more significant growth as a disciple. I've been challenged by this and can affirm that there is some wisdom in his recommendation. So, give the four R's a try and let me know how your training goes in the coming month.
As mentioned above our team is engaged in ministry all around the country. This coming weekend (Aug 10), under the leadership of Mark and Holly Anderson, the Peachtree City Huddle is hosting the 3rd annual Tour of Faith. This is a great event that offers athletes a choice of a 5K or 10K run, or a 10, 30, 40, 65 or 100 mile bike ride. Last year we had Teammates from four Huddles attend the event, and this year we hope to have even more! The event offers some great fellowship and outreach within this endurance community. Click here for more information.
I also love to share stories like this! Our New York City Huddle Leader Gerrit Kamp reported this in one of their weekly Huddle Updates, "... Good runs both last Saturday (6.2 miles/10k) and last Monday (3.5 miles). Nice little surprise on Monday at the end of our run. As we were stretching out, two people walked up to us: they were Robbie and Darcy Trent, from the FCA in Nebraska. They ran their first half marathon earlier this year and were excited to see fellow FCA Endurance members run in NYC in the yellow jerseys." I pray that you are all encouraged as you consider the team of faithful brothers and sisters you are a part of as Teammates of FCA Endurance and the larger FCA family!
It's also not uncommon to have something fun to report coming out of Savannah. A couple weeks ago, the Savannah Huddle came together to host a free 5K for their community. The purpose for hosting the race was simply to give back and bless their endurance community. However, this was not a normal 5K! The Summer Soaker 5k involved water guns, over 10 sprinklers systems, a pink fire truck spraying folks, and many other crazy soaker zones including a water slide finish line! The best part was seeing all the smiles and joy coming from the families! Love it!
I also wanted to give a few shouts out to the Hagerstown Maryland Huddle, "Rocking the yellow" at the Hagerstown Sprint Tri. Not only did they bring home some nice hardware, but they also had a chance to volunteer and help at the race. Go Maryland!
Our last Huddle update is simply to celebrate our NEW HUDDLES:
- Jacksonville, FL - led by Rhonda Lovett
- Dublin, GA - led by Wade Kendrick
- Chattanooga, TN - led by Chris Netherland
As we close this newsletter, I wanted to pass on a few quick ministry updates:
- EMI Savannah in less than 3 weeks!
August 23-25 - Registration is OPEN
. There's still time to register! The time to get equipped and make disciples is NOW! EMI Retreats are the most powerful thing we do as a ministry, and we want you to join us. You will not regret this investment! Get registered today.
- Save the Date: EMI Central Illinois - October 25-27. Planning continues for this retreat, and it is going to be great! Details are still coming together, but registration is now open.
- Highlighted Event Opportunities:
- Hy-Vee Triathlon/5150 US Championships: We invite everyone to join us for a ministry weekend, Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 in Des Moines, IA. We'll have a booth at the expo and a number of athletes racing. We'll also be making a special ministry announcement at this race! Registration is open, and we would love to see you there! If you'll be joining us, RSVP here so we can keep you in the loop.
- Chicago Marathon: Thanks to the faithful diligence of Chicago Huddle Leader Carissa Dahik, as well as a number of Huddle members, we will have a significant presence at this year's event, October 11-13. We'll be present at the expo, we're hosting a runner's chapel service, and of course we'll have athletes racing. This will be our largest venue yet (at least in an official capacity), and we're excited about it! If you'll be attending, or would like to partner in this ministry with us, please contact Carissa
- Replace Your Bible Program: We request your help in sharing God's Word with those who don't have a Bible of their own. In addition to our Bible Distribution Program (where you can request Bibles to give away), we urge you to give away your own copy if the Lord provides an opportunity. If you do, we'll replace it with a copy of God's Game Plan (FCA's Bible). Please visit The Body for details.
Select FCA Endurance Gear on Summer Sale: There's still time to get geared-up for summer, and Valley Bike and Ski is here to help! Check it out