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Episode 18 – “Encouragement On The Warriors Path” | Gregory Amundson

Show Notes – Episode 18 “Encouragement On The Warriors Path” 

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Hello, friends, and welcome to Episode 18 of The Greg Amundson Show. Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m really excited about sharing with you today’s message because I want to talk to you today about being a source of encouragement both for yourself, for complete strangers, and for the loved ones that you hold close in your life.

In 2010, I got a wild idea: to run 100 miles in 24 hours. My dear friend Brian MacKenzie, the founder of the CrossFit Endurance course, at that time was a huge inspiration to me. His ability to run long distances on only CrossFit methodology and training was simply mind-boggling. He was doing things that defied logic, an absolute inspiration, a huge source of encouragement. I decided I would challenge myself to run 100 miles in 24 hours. I gave myself one month preparation and I also decided that during the 24-hour run I would fuel myself only with zone-proportionate food. That meant no gels, no supplements. I was going to do this with only whole food in zone proportion, essentially maintaining my normal nutrition plan.

Furthermore, working with my dear friend Dave Castro, now director of the CrossFit Games, and Steve Serrano, at that time the affiliate owner of CrossFit Marina, a dear friend of mine and a combat medic, we devised a plan where I would leave from the CrossFit gym at Camp Pendleton, run 50 miles north along Highway 1, then turn around and retrace my steps, running 50 miles back along the same route, returning 24 hours later home to the CrossFit gym on Camp Pendleton. In retrospect, I did not think through this plan very well, yet nevertheless the plan was in motion, the goal was set, and on the appointed time and place, at “Three, two, one, go!” I took off at a very slow pace. I trudged along 50 miles north along Highway 1.

This run took place in the winter of 2010. During the night, it started to rain. Needless to say, the enthusiasm of the run very quickly wore off when I realized the totality of what I had set myself up for, undoubtedly one of the most challenging feats of my life. At the 50-mile mark, I was “running” — granted, I use that term very loosely, it looked more like a crawl — I was running up a hill, a never-ending hill. This was one of the final peaks before I would turn around and begin the journey back to Camp Pendleton. That meant that at the top of this hill, I would take a break then turn around and go downhill.

So things were looking up as soon as I got to the top of the hill. As I approached the top of the hill, a friend of mine who had traveled a very, very long way to meet me at that place and time, the agreement that he was going to run the next 50 miles with me as a pace runner, that’s an amazing friend. As soon as he fell in step next to me, he looked over and with a great deal of enthusiasm, doing his best to encourage me, he said, “Greg, don’t think about it but the next 50 miles are going to be the hardest yet.” Ouch! That hurt because in my mind, all I heard was, “Fifty miles, hardest yet.”

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My internal dialogue started to question his encouragement because I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. The last 50 miles I went were pretty hard. In fact, I remember those 50 miles vividly well, and now you’re telling me that those 50 miles were nothing compared to the next 50 miles, which will be the hardest yet.” Although he had the best intentions with what he said, his words in fact cut me down significantly. I was really now at a point of extreme self-doubt, suffering and pity.

Well, thankfully another friend of mine happened to overhear that exchange. She overheard what my friend had said. She knew me very, very well and she knew exactly the right word of encouragement that in that moment I really needed to hear. She ran up to me. She said, “Greg, snap out of it! You’re going to fly through these next 50 miles.” Now that is a word of encouragement because in that moment, what did my subconscious mind hear? I’ll tell you. Like a beautiful record, I heard the words, “Fifty miles, going to fly.” That is the correct use of word. When word matches intention, that force collectively can change the world.

What I learned when I reflect on that moment in time is that my friend who was going to run as a pace runner with me for 50 miles, he sincerely had the very best intentions. However, his words were not in alignment with his hope and expectation, desire and goal for what we both wanted me to achieve, yet nevertheless despite how good his intention was, the word of encouragement that was transferred to me had an adverse effect. That’s a key learning lesson. As all of us step onto the path of the modern-day warrior, as we step onto the path of spiritual devotion, as we step onto the path, as we set our intention for encouragement in the lives of other people, we have to ensure that the words we use are precise. The words we use have immense power. We need to therefore learn to use our words in the most fulfilling way possible, a word of encouragement.

Something else really special about that run, such a powerful life experience to me, so many learning lessons and amazing memories took place during those 24 hours. One that I want to share with you has a really near and dear place in my heart. I had approximately three or four hours to go on the run. It was clear to everyone, including me, that even if I had an amazing second win and started to throw down seven, eight-minute miles, there was no way I was going to be able to cover the full 100 miles in the remaining three or four hours. I was simply out of time yet I was committed to, at the very least I was going to crawl until the time stopped.

Well, out of nowhere on Highway 1, out of nowhere my mom shows up and what a beautiful sight it was. She shows up in a rented white Honda Accord. She’s in the driver’s seat. One of her other dear friends, a woman named Dianne, is in the passenger seat. She shows up and it just so happens as she arrives on scene there is a police motorcade behind me. I have two CHP officers on motorcycles behind me helping to direct traffic as I’m running through a busy part of Southern California.

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Well, my mom pulls up behind these two CHP officers, then despite the fact they have their lights on, my mom passes around these two then it gets worse. She stops adjacent to me in the middle of traffic, gets out of her car, it gets worse, leaves the car door open, it gets worse, she runs in front of these two motorcycle officers, falls in step next to me and says, “Honey, you’re amazing! Your dad would be so proud of you. Just keep moving. Whatever you do, keep moving.” I had to yell to the CHP officers, who had a great look of concern on their face, “It’s okay! This is my mom.” I was running — or rather, walking — at that time so slowly that she walked with me for nearly three miles. Dianne, who was in the passenger seat of the car, had to scramble around to the driver’s seat then drive the car out of traffic. She met my mom and I approximately three or four miles further south along Highway 1.

Isn’t that beautiful? My mom had heard from my brother, Mark, who was following the exploit on social media, mainly Facebook, that I was running. My mom really had no clear understanding of what I had gotten myself into or of where I was along Highway 1. She simply knew that based on the fact I left Camp Pendleton and had gone 50 miles and was now on the turnaround, I was somewhere along Highway 1 between the turnaround and Camp Pendleton. She was driving along Highway 1 that morning until she found me. Oh, my mom, what an amazing woman. What’s so key is her word of encouragement. “Whatever you do, keep moving. Your dad would be so proud of you. Keep moving!” That is a word of encouragement.

You see, my friends, when we look to the Bible, the direction we receive from Scripture is so clear to us. In Thessalonians, Scripture says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” That’s one of my favorite Bible verses because the direction is so clear. We are essentially commanded from Scripture to be a source of encouragement to one another, to use our words in an affirming, loving, uplifting, encouraging way.

The root of the word “encourage” is courage. Now, courage, the root of which is the Latin word for heart, and in one of the earliest forms of the word, “courage” meant to speak through the heart to another person, to share what’s on our mind by sharing what’s in our heart. In the modern sense of the word, when we “encourage” someone, we provide that person with courage. We are speaking from our heart to their heart, heart-to-heart communication. Isn’t that beautiful? To encourage someone means to give someone courage, to build up their heart, to prophesize into their life, into their heart, to motivate, to inspire, to lift up, to hold high. That is the meaning of “encourage.” So to encourage someone, whether it be a loved one or a complete stranger, really is in alignment with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. That is exactly what Jesus Christ did in every encounter he had with another person. He was a source and a word and an act of encouragement.

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One of the most profound stories in the Bible I think is from Ezekiel. When Ezekiel commanded, he prophesized life into dry bones. Now, what’s so amazing about the manner in which he prophesized and the manner in which dry bones came to life is that even after the bones had connected, even after flesh appeared on the bones, even after skin covered the bones, essentially even after there was a human form that had been created through the prophecy of Ezekiel, there was no life in the body. And then the Lord said to Ezekiel, “Prophesize to the breath. Say to the bones, ‘Breathe life,’ ” and in that moment of prophecy, when Ezekiel commanded breath or spirit into the bones, the bones came to life. They stood up onto their feet and they became a vast army. In other words, there was a body yet no life, and so often that is the experience we have as we go through the course of our day. We go through the course of our day a body. We experience life as a body. We may encounter other people who are trudging through life, they are barely existing, they’re dry bones, yet there’s no spirit within them. How do we prophesize, how can we bring the spirit into our life and into the life of another person? Through the word, through a word of encouragement. Every opportunity that we have, we need to be building each other up.

Now, here’s the key. Every opportunity we have, we need to build ourselves up as well. In other words, the Bible verse, “Therefore encourage one another. Build one another up,” is also directed at ourselves. Therefore encourage yourself, build yourself up, for only from our sense of self-worth, which is based on the worth of God in us, can we effectively and authentically be a word of encouragement in another person’s life.

Speaking of courage, courage, my friends, is such an important value to embrace. Imagine you have a compass at your disposal. Most people have a compass yet their compass in the context of the tool of a modern-day warrior is broken, meaning that their compass is navigating and directing them towards the path of least resistance, towards the path of ease, away from challenge, away from opposition, away from the forging that we are all in need of in order to be tempered by God into the beautiful vessel he is intending for us to be.

Now, imagine that I give you a compass that is correctly calibrated. Your compass, now that it is calibrated correctly, is directing you right into the lion’s mouth of challenge. I am setting you up for opportunities that by design are going to test you. However, the Lord promises you and I, my friends, that he will never bring a challenge into our life that we are not set to overcome through the power he has instilled within us. You see, every challenge we face is an opportunity to overcome, is an opportunity to test our heart, to build our faith in God in profound, new ways. If you’re experiencing a challenge right now, let me encourage you. You can do it. You can overcome every challenge that you’re facing. Regardless of how overwhelming it may appear, it would not be in your life if you were not born to accomplish and overcome whatever challenge that may be.

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The key to overcoming these challenges we face in our life is to encourage ourselves through every step of that battle, to be a continual word of affirming encouragement in our life. One of the best ways to really focus our mind is the repetition of Bible verse, to testify for ourselves the Word of God. Peter tells us the best source of armor to wear as we march into this challenge is the Word of God. The Word of God, my friends, can be such an amazing power, such an amazing force for good in our life when we use it. In order to use it, we have to repeat it. We have to commit to memory those Bible verses that resonate most with our heart, with our soul.

For example, “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. For greater is my God who is within me than he that is in the world. No weapon formed against me will prosper but,” here’s the key, “whatever I do and whatever I say will prosper.” For a modern-day warrior, that Bible verse is absolutely profound because it brings us into alignment with a hierarchy, with a chain of events that take place during these battles that we are ultimately all desirous of conquering in our life. You see, what the Bible says is, “For greater is my God who is within me than he that is in the world,” meaning greater is the source of strength with you and I than any challenge we will face. Wow, that is good news! Then Scripture goes on to say, “I can do all things through Christ who is in me, strengthening me,” again reaffirming the fact that regardless of what you face in your life, your source of strength based on God, based on the presence of Jesus Christ in you is enough to overcome any obstacle, any challenge, any form of opposition.

Now, one of my favorite parts of Scripture is when God is commanding us to realize that whatever you, my friend, say and whatever you do will prosper, for greater is your source of strength in you. No challenge, no opposition, nothing formed against you will prosper over you. It doesn’t mean that you will never face challenge. In fact, it means, it almost guarantees you will face challenge, yet it also guarantees that the challenges you face are nothing compared to the amazing man or woman you are, and when you speak with the authority of God in you, then everything you say and everything you do will prosper, and it has to be in that order, my friends. Your thoughts form your words, your words form your actions. So by thinking the Word of God, you speak the Word of God. You speak with the authority of God in you. When you say, “I can do it,” when you say, “I believe in myself,” when you say, “I’ve got what it takes,” when you say, “I know I can do it,” you’re making those confessions based on the Word of God, therefore you are speaking in alignment with the Word of God, and when you speak that way, you will prosper. You will overcome any challenge you face in your life.

Well, my friends, thank you so much for joining me today, and, my friends, in closing I want to pray with you. If it’s appropriate, close your eyes for a moment and just join me in taking a deep breath. Just take a deep breath in and breathe in through your nose. Deep nostril breath in, hold the breath for a moment, and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Just breathe in.

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Notice as you breathe in, you are breathing in the power of God. Have you considered that today, my friends, that you are brought to life by the breath of God? Just like the prophecy of Ezekiel, you are dry bones. God breathed life into you. If you’re feeling like dry bones right now, take another deep breath in. Allow the presence of God to fill every cell of your body. Allow the breath of God to breathe life into you. Let the breath of God be a source of encouragement. Let the breath of God inspire you, bring you to life, and then through the breath of God in your body, in your mind, in your soul, in your spirit, in the temple of your mind, say these words to yourself. Repeat after me in the temple of your mind. Let this be our prayer.

“I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me. For greater is my God who is in me than he that is in the world. No weapon, no opposition, no challenge, nothing set against me will prosper because everything I say and everything I do will prosper, and therefore with the authority of God in me, I declare I was born to accomplish great things. I was born to achieve my dreams and goals. I was born to be a source of encouragement in the lives of other people. I was born to be a warrior.”

My friends, I believe in you. I believe that you have what it takes in this moment to be a source of encouragement in your life and in the lives of other people.

Friends, thank you so much for joining me today. I pray that God would bless you, watch over you, keep you safe, and that God will be a source of encouragement in your life. My friends, until we meet again. Take care and God bless you.

Thank you for listening to the show. Please subscribe, rate and share this podcast. You can find more info at gregoryamundson.com. Take care and God bless.

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