The Only Losers are the Quitters
While in High School I did not have time to be a part of any athletic team. This was due to the fact that I had a full academic load all four years and two part time jobs during the school year while a junior and senior. I really wanted to play football and one of the coaches really encouraged me to join the team. However, my parents were against the idea of their son playing football.
So, when I arrived on the campus of Florida College I learned there were positions open on the cross country team. In Phys. Ed. I enjoyed running and in my sophomore year only one classmate was able to outrun me. Fortunately, I made the college team even with the limited experience. Unfortunately, I was only the sixth and seventh place runner on the team. This meant that I could be challenged by another student for the position on the cross country team.
During one particular meet at Florida Southern College one of the regular runners was unable to join the team. A substitute was brought in to replace him. One of my teammates, Jorge, reminded me that if the substitute runner cross the finish line before I did, I would not be joining the team. So, my goal was to beat my new teammate.
The running course was charted out around Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland, Florida. As soon as the race began I got out in front and set my pace with some of the other runners on my team. After a mile I could no longer keep up. My legs were aching and my lungs hurt. All I wanted to do is give up. Realizing I had three miles left to go I pressed on by trying to focus on the lake and the other runners. Soon my teammate passed me and so I passed him. He stayed behind me for the rest of the race I did not have to look back. His foot steps were audible and recognizable. When we were only about a quarter of a mile from the finish line, he made his move to pass me. Summing up strength from somewhere I was able to match his pace. Every time he started to run a little faster, I increased my speed. We never looked at each other, though we were running side by side. With only a hundred yards to go we both broke out into a sprint for the finish line. Before this race I thought I knew agony and pain. My legs felt like they weighed four times their normal weight. My heart was beating in my throat. My lungs were screaming for me to just stop. With only twenty-five yards to go I began to pull ahead. With only ten yards to go I heard my teammate hit the sidewalk. Only after a burst across the finish line did I look back and see him stretched out on the sidewalk and being checked out by the coaches. He was just fine. Although he never would run with us again. My satisfaction was knowing that my place on the time was secure until the next race.
According Paul the Christian life is much like running a race. The saints need to run this race as if they are the only one’s who will receive a reward. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Cor. 9:24). There is no comparison in the Christian race to one winner in a race to how many can share in the crown of life. Others will win of course, but the point is to run as if only one will receive a crown. Most people these days go about their religion as though everyone was some how guaranteed a win. This is not to say the spiritual race is making a competition out of Christianity between Christians. We are to have “team spirit”. Paul said we are “striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). This means saints are “acting as athletes in concert.” Paul is trying to motivate those how run to do so with a earnest attitude. Many begin the race of the Christian life in earnest only to become apathetic when the running gets tough and painful.
While the Christian runs the race he must strive for the prize. “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Cor. 9:25). The term “competes” comes from the Greek term agonizomai. From which we derive the English terms “agony” and “agonize.” It means “to contend, to strive, to labor fervently.” The Williams Translation renders it “practices rigid self-control in training.” And Beck translates this phrase as “anyone who enters a contest goes into strict training” (Beck). The Christian race is not merely a race, but a conflict; and a conflict, not only with others, but with one’s self.
Christianity is not just a good, clean way to pass the time on earth. It is a life and death struggle for the eternal soul. Paul wrote, “therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air” (1 Cor. 9:26). He did not focus on the pain but on what he had to gain. Why does an athlete endure, so much pain? It is because an eternal crown of glory awaits him.
Paul said he ran this spiritual race while “holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain” (Phil. 2:16). No matter how painful or difficult, he could say at the end of his life: “…I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7,8).
Unlike my race years ago in Lakeland there is a spot for everyone in Heaven who endures to the end and finishes the race. Do not stop running toward the goal till you cross the finish line in death. See you on the other side.
– Daniel R. Vess
Mormon Religion Not Just Christian Belief
by Leonard Bruce
I am writing to answer the article about the Mormon church written by Tonya Smith. I disagree with the article and the missionaries who gave the information for the article. My information comes from the church itself and from my own time in the church as an elder and my research. Here are the facts:
- They believe Jesus and Satan were brothers in heaven.
- They believe Christ was conceived, not by a miracle, but that God came down in human form and went to Mary.
- They believe Jesus was married and fathered children while on the Earth.
- They believe in communication with spirits and baptism for dead spirits who are not of their faith.
- They believe their president in Utah is a god like Joseph Smith, equal or better than Jesus.
- They believe one has to go through Joseph Smith before going to Jesus and into heaven.
- They believe the book of Mormon is above the Bible.
- They believe in secret signs, names and handshakes one learns and has to do to gain entrance to the kingdom of heaven.
- They believe that all other religions are from Satan and that theirs is the only true church.
- They believe in multiple marriages in heaven with many wives for each male.
- They believe their male members will become gods and have their own planets.
- They believe female members cannot get to heaven without being married, having kids and an OK from their husbands.
I could go on and on about this. These are some of their beliefs and facts they will not tell non-members. I believe in the truth, the one true God and Jesus Christ and not the one in the Mormon church. (This was in the Letter to the Editor section of the Jackson Sun)