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Does It Help Me Run?

Last night, thanks to Steve McCoy's recommendation, I listened to John Piper's sermon Running with the Witnesses on Hebrews 11:39-12:2. It's one of the best sermons I've heard in a long time. Piper, following Hebrews 12:1, encourages us to examine the activities of our lives not by asking "what's wrong with it?" but "does it help me run?" Good exhortation and passionately delivered.

Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

Between now and Labor Day, pick a day or a half day and get away by yourself - away from the house, the phone, the beeper, the TV, the radio and all other people. Take a Bible and a pad of paper and plan your fall run with Jesus.

On that pad of paper note the entangling sins. Note the seemingly innocent weights and encumbrances that are not condemned explicitly in the Bible, but which you know are holding you back in the race for faith and love and strength and holiness and courage and freedom. Note the ways you subtly make provision for these hindrances (Romans 13:14): the computer games, the hidden alcohol or candy, the television, the videos, the pull-tab stop on the way home, the magazines, the novels. In addition, note the people that weaken you. Note the times that are wasted, thrown away.

When you have made all these notations, pray your way through to a resolve and a pattern of dismantling these encumbrances, and resisting these sins, and breaking old, old habits. And don't rise up against the Bible at this point and say, "I can't change." It is an assault on God if you read Hebrews 12:1 and go away saying: "It can't happen. Hindrances can't be removed. Sins can't be laid aside." God has not spoken this command for nothing. And this entire book is written to undergird these practical commands. So go back and read the book and ask God to take all the glorious truth that is here (about the superiority of Christ, and the power of his death and resurrection, and the effectiveness of his intercession for you) and make this truth explosive with life-changing power. Carry some of the story to your small group and get them to pray for you. Find someone you trust and ask them to check in with you and support you. That is what Hebrews 3:12-13 says we should do. Don't drift from this moment into this Sunday afternoon. Before this day is over choose a day or a half-day and get away to plan your fall run with Jesus.

But you should really listen to the whole message.

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