North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose by Matt Dobson

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first man in history to run a mile in less than four minutes. Within two months, John Landy eclipsed the record by 1.4 seconds. On August 7, 1954, the two met together for a historic race. As they moved into the last lap, Landy held the lead. It looked as if he would win, but as he neared the finish line he wondered, “Where is Bannister?” As he turned to look, Bannister took the lead. Landy later told a reporter, “If I hadn’t looked back, I would have won!” This is a classic example of staying focused and looking ahead. When you look back, opportunities in the present are often missed.
The Lord doesn’t want us to wallow in our past failures, but to remain disciplined and turn our backs on sinful and defeated ways. One of the most descriptive pictures of the Christian life in the Bible is of an athlete competing in a race: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who runs in a race does many things so his body will be strong. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Cor. 9:24-25).
Discipline is the key to winning. And positive thinking is the tool that makes dreams come true. In Hebrews 12, we are encouraged to lay aside everything that might hinder our spiritual maturity and advancement and to remain focused on Christ. Philippians 3:12-13 helps you put past mistakes in perspective when it says: “I press on…forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Understand for every mistake you make in life there is a lesson to be learned. Find the good in your mistake and all will not be lost. But you have to put the lesson into action. Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2) helps you to move on and not be bogged down in your past. Three things: trust, faith, and prayer. These are the three windows through which your seeking eye should look. What a lesson we can learn from this. The minute we turn our eyes toward our fellow-man and take them off Jesus, our pace is slackened. Pride, discouragement, unforgiveness, resentment, envy, the desire for praise, these and other negatives incapacitate the Christian runner as he or she looks at men and women instead of keeping their eyes fixed upon Jesus. Man cannot live as life was intended to be lived, unless he sees God. And no one can make spiritual progress by looking back and dwelling on past failures.
Our eyes often fix on the things that engross our hearts. If the worldly things are desired and harbored in our hearts, they will muddle our moral vision and our ability to see Christ as we should. There’s no question about this. Keeping our eyes fixed on Christ is the only safe way to live in a corrupt and immoral world. This means looking “away from all else” that would turn us toward worldly thinking.
A friend of mine spoke to me about his young sons. He made it a policy to have them look away from anything that promoted lust or sensuality on T.V. One time while visiting in their home, a commercial with scantily dressed women came on the screen. I noticed both boys, almost in perfect unison turned their heads to the right and didn’t watch it. I admired my friend for teaching them and I appreciated the discipline of these two young lads. This is a rare thing. I later commented on this to my friend and he said, “It’s a matter of discipling the mind to think higher thoughts.” How right he is. A majority of our spiritual decay arises from allowing worldly passions to fill our minds and weaken our conscious and even the sub-conscious. But if the mind is filled with thoughts of Christ and his glory, the soul cleaves to him with a more intense affection. This makes is easier for the mind to cast out the causes of spiritual weakness (Col. 3:1-5), “Set your affections on the things above, not the things here on the earth…your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Running the race of life is difficult. Yet, no matter how difficult it gets, no runners in the race ever had such a sufferable experience as Jesus. Jesus endured death on the cross for you and me. He suffered pain, shame, and humiliation for our sin. Yet, he did it for the joy to come. Jesus kept looking ahead and pressing on with his heart fixed on the coming joy (Heb. 12:2). Victory is ours because Christ rose from the dead and is alive today!
Looking to Jesus imprints his love on our hearts. And with this, our lives become a mirror of the gospel. This is the secret to winning in life. This is the encouragement we need for our faith: To place our eyes not on the world with its enticements and threats, not even on ourselves with our little successes and many failures, but on Jesus who is the source of all our spiritual energy. Ask yourself: Am I fixing my eyes on Jesus? Am I looking away from the distractions and concentrating on him? Keep your eyes on the prize and recall the words of Helen Lemmel: O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free! Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace. Find a church where you can experience Jesus with other loving people and follow God in all your ways.
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Mar 17 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *