Confession: I don’t read all of the books that I review.
Oftentimes, I’ll get a book, read it enough to get the gist, then move on.
But I’m passionate about Crossfit. And anytime CrossFit and faith collide, I’m in.
So when I got a copy of Rich Froning’s (on Twitter HERE) book*, I read it cover-to-cover. If you have any inclination towards CrossFit, you’ll enjoy this book. Rich chronicles his rapid rise to success in the CrossFit world, sharing his story from life on the farm to back-to-back “World’s Fittest Man” titles. Reading this book is like sitting down with Rich over a cup of coffee. Or, more likely, over a protein shake after a WOD. (workout-of-the-day)
Every time I read a portion of the book, I wanted to throw it down and start working harder. Rich’s work ethic and passion are infectious.
Equally infectious is Rich’s faith.** It’s genuine, and you see it laid bare in this book as he does battle against his own pride. I found his faith refreshing, bold, and courageous.
The big question Rich wrestles with throughout the book is, “What legacy am I going to leave when I die?”
Hopefully you’re asking something similar.
For Rich, faith and fitness go hand-in-hand. I’ve found the same to be true, which is why the book resonated so well with me. When I’m disciplined with my body, I find myself more disciplined spiritually.
This is a great summer read. And a great read just in time for this year’s CrossFit Games, as Rich looks to become the three-time champion for this sport.
Pick it up right HERE.
Are you a CrossFitter?
* all amazon links are affiliate links
**If you read the book, you’ll notice that a key player in Rich’s wrestling through faith issues is a guy named Donavan Degrie. Donavan’s my coach at the box where I work out, and I can see why he played such a key role in Donavan’s faith journey.
How do I stop growing in my faith?
You’ve asked this question time and time again. In varying seasons of life. Maybe you’re asking it right now.
You’re tired of growing your faith.
- Tired of getting closer to God.
- Tired of God calling you to do big things.
- Tired of feeling like your gifts are being well-spent.
- Tired of pouring yourself out.
- Tired of feeling like you don’t know exactly what God’s going to ask you to do.
- Tired of God using you to minister hope and grace and truth.
Play it safe.
- Don’t be generous with your resources. That’s risky, and takes faith.
- Don’t be generous with the grace you give others. You will probably get burned.
- Don’t join a small group. You could be asked to be vulnerable. And you could be stretched. That’s no way to live.
- Don’t read your Bible and act on it. Just stick to reading it. Much safer.
- Don’t invite your neighbors to church with you. Stay in your comfort zone.
- Don’t go on a mission trip. That’s crazy talk.
- Don’t go serve the homeless in your city. You might get dirty.
- Don’t tithe. Planned giving? We’re going for minimal risk here. Come on.
- Don’t maintain close relationships with people. People are too messy and difficult.
- Don’t build relationships with people outside of the faith. If someone doesn’t trust Jesus, give ’em a tract and move on. If you try to stick around and love them, you’re being dangerous.
- Don’t worship with other believers. Just quit going to church. They ask you to do things like ‘participate in worship.’ Not safe at all.
- Don’t do anything difficult. When things get tough, run the other way. That’ll *stick it* to your faith.
Me: How many days did it take God to create everything?
Rex (my 4 year old son): 3?
Me: No, 6.
Rex: Oh. That’s a lot of days.
See, my son fully believed that the God he’s been learning about could’ve made everything in 3 days. That God was big enough and powerful enough and quick enough to make everything his eyes have ever come in contact with…in just 3 days. Why would He need 6? Why would it take Him a whole 6 days to make the earth, the animals, the trees, and the water?
He’s so awesome, He could do it in 3 if He wanted.
I’m so encouraged by Rex’s faith. He believes that God is bigger than even I say He is.
About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”
Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. – Matthew 18:1-4
The faith of an adult
Our faith, the faith of a rational, college-educated, enlightened adult is much less, isn’t it? It’s not quite as quick to believe. Not quite as quick to take that step of faith. A little more sluggish to accept the unacceptable, and grasp the miracles.
We’re a little slower than our kids are.
We struggle to believe
- God can save our marriage
- God can really change our dad’s heart
- We will ever have a good relationship with our kids
- We will ever be where we need to be spiritually
- We can ever beat this addiction
- She could ever forgive me
- Our daughter could ever love me
- Our life could ever count for something
- God could actually be in control of our crazy lives
- God could ever use him to minister Truth and Grace.
- God could ever use me.
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. – Ephesians 3:19-20
Faith is believing in what we can’t see. It’s trusting God for what He’s promised rather than what we’ve seen come true.
God can change your marriage. God can use you. God can use her. He can forgive you. He can use your addiction, and the victory you’re going to enjoy, to serve others.
It’s time you stopped believing lies. Stop believing the haters in your life. Stop listening to the voices that beat you up.
Start trusting in the promises given to you in the Bible. Start trusting in the One who loves you on your worst days. (Romans 5:6) Start believing the One who wants to give you life. (John 10:10) Star believing the One who loved you first. (1 John 4:19)
“This is your house. You’ve got the floor to pray if you want.” I whispered to my friend as we gathered together in his kitchen, people spilling into the dining room, stirring prior to small group. Lots of people showed up that night, eager to engage in each others’ lives, catch up on the week, and dig into the homemade meatball subs simmering on the stove top.
Facial expressions speak much louder than words. Unless, of course, you are screaming into a megaphone, in which case those words speak louder than your facial expressions. But in most instances in life, knee-jerk facial expressions speak what’s on your heart loudly. In this moment, I knew I’d inadvertently put my friend in an awkward spot.
“Umm…ok. Let’s do this” he whispered back, shrugging his shoulders to shake off that nervous feeling of inadequacy and I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing.
He positioned himself so that the full group could see and hear him, and began to tie the laces of the new “spiritual leader” shoes he was taking for a spin around the block. “Well, guys, welcome to our home,” he squeezed through a forced smile. “We’re glad you’re here” he said as he communicated genuineness, making eye contact with everyone looking up. “I’ve never done this before…well, out loud, anyway…but let’s pray.”
He prayed the most simple, God-honoring, easy-going, authentic prayer I may have ever heard.
There was nothing profound about his prayer. Nothing particularly to note from an outsider’s perspective.
But knowing the internal battle of his heart, combined with the fact that he’d never taken the spiritual lead publicly like this before, it was beautiful. I believe this step of faith he took into unknown (for him) territory has set his family on a pathway to spiritual growth like he’s never known. Though the prayer may not have sounded radical to you, it was a risky, wall-shattering step towards Jesus.
It was our small group that got him ready for this. And I know how we did it.
There’s a way to structure prayer time that encourages prayer. And there’s a way to structure prayer time that encourages people to think you’re amazing and eloquent. One way honors God. One way honors you and your flowery vocabulary.
The more you use theologically technical, complicated words when you pray out loud, the more you’ll encourage people to shut down during prayer time. Why?
Because they don’t have that vocabulary.
At some level, praying out loud is like public speaking. Glossophobia (fear of public speaking) strikes 3/4 people, and we as a culture are deathly afraid of speaking in public. Maybe it’s a twisted form of pride that we need to work through, but the truth remains: speaking publicly strikes a fear into most people’s heart. Combine that with the fact that people don’t know the words you’re using, they’re afraid to appear “immature” spiritually in front of other people. They don’t know what to say, and it’s easy to shut people down during group prayer time through the words you use.
The leader sets the tone
You, the leader, can lead group members to take radical steps of faith by the way you pray out loud. Pray simply. Pray as if you’re talking to a friend…because you are, right? God’s not impressed by your theologically charged language. He wants your heart, not your words that seek to impress hearers. In fact, when you use words that don’t encourage others to unite with you in prayer, you sound a lot like the hypocrite from Matthew 6. You’ve gotten your reward already, and the reward isn’t that God heard you.
Want to encourage others to begin praying?
Pray simply. Use normal language. And keep your prayers short. Pray for a specific request, thank God that He showed up, and move on.
It’s in that process of simplicity that group members begin to think, “This prayer thing…it’s not so hard. Maybe I can try talking to God, too.”
Last time I checked, talking to God for the first time is a radical, beautiful step of faith.
Moses is one of my favorite heroes in the Bible. Partly because of the danger surrounding the time of his birth. Partly because he was an amazing leader. Partly because he got to part an entire sea.
But mainly because I love how real Moses appears. You get to see Moses’ humanity throughout his story. The fact that he’s weak, doubts his call, and still messes up gives me loads of hope that God could use me despite my weaknesses, doubts, and failures.
God called Moses to lead the oppressed Israelites to freedom from their bondage to Egypt, and Moses doubted whether this would work. After all, he was just Moses. And Pharaoh was the most powerful man in the world.
In Exodus 4, so God could prove to Moses that He is who He says He is, God asks Moses to throw his shepherd’s staff on the ground. When he does, it turns into a snake. He then asks Moses to pick it up by the tail. Not the head. The tail. (For the record, I have some level of faith…but if you ask me to pick up a snake by the tail, I’m out. Call someone else.)
Moses picks it up, then God tells him to put his hand into his cloak. When Moses pulls his hand out, it’s leprous. God instructs Moses to put his hand back in his cloak, and when Moses pulls it out, his hand has returned to normal.
Cool story, no? Crazy miracles, no? Moses had seen two miracles, right before his eyes, but still responded with this:
“O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” – Exodus 4:10
Sticks turning to snakes. Hands being turned all crazy. And Moses still doubted? Doubted that God could use his bumbling mouth to lead a people to freedom? Doubted that God could do what He said He’d do? Doubted God would come through for him?
Yep. Moses listened to the voice of insecurity.
Because Moses thought he was still operating in his own power.
Insecurity does a great job highlighting weaknesses and isolating you from Truth. Moses was weak, and on his own, he would surely fail. Before the most powerful man in the world, Moses would just curl up into the corner and cry, being constantly reminded of how weak and “unusable” he was.
Good thing for Moses, though, he wasn’t going alone. He was simply a mouthpiece for the living God.
We are Moses
We’re no different than Moses.
We see miracles all around us. We see God healing people (often through medicine). We see God reconciling marriages. We see addictions broken. Hearts far from God turning back to Him. Sons returning home. Fathers owning their responsibilities. Mothers selflessly giving of themselves. Walls coming down.
We even see God using us to bring about change in others. We see God working miracles in our own lives.
But we doubt. We wonder how God could ever use us. Just like Moses did. We feed our insecurities and doubts, relying on our own strengths. We remind ourselves that we’re
- funny looking
- worn out
- too messy
- still in process
So how could God ever use us?
Because God says to you:
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
It’s not about your strength and your gifts and your ability to lead. It’s about you trusting God to do what only He can do.
Your insecurities are a chance for God to show off through you. To remind you that it’s not about you.
Ready to fight doubt? Ready to defeat insecurity?
Take a step of risky faith.
And listen to the voice of God, not men.
Carrying around a megaphone doesn’t legitimize your message.
It just makes your message louder.
Just like talking about your dreams doesn’t mean you’ve taken any real action to accomplishing them.
It just makes your dreams more widely distributed.
We love to talk about our plans and goals and dreams. Sharing your dreams is a great way to keep a conversation going, and make us seem like we’re the forward-thinking, out-of-the-box type.
But just like the guy who writes a blog about how to write a blog about blogging is great at spinning his wheels but creating no real movement, so too are our wheels spinning.
We go in circles trying to justify our inaction.
9 times out of 10, our inaction is driven by our fear.
Faith takes risks, trusting God to truly be a God who loves to do the impossible. You’ll never fully understand God’s power until you have the faith to believe, pray, and act on the fact that our God is a God who loves to do the impossible. (Re: Ephesians 3:20-21)
You can’t experience God’s power if you trust Him with what you, in your power alone, can do. Faith requires risk. Risk to trust God. Risk to fight your fear. Risk to believe and act in confidence that God is who He says He is and does what He says he’ll do.
Instead of writing about marriage, take your wife on a date.
Instead of taking about reaching out to your neighbor, do it.
Instead of leading others to be generous, do it yourself.
Instead of telling others about your dream, start living it.
Don’t write. Do.
Don’t speak. Be.
Don’t dream. Act.