Following is a Sermon with Greg Amundson from the Faith Works Ministry event at CrossFit Amundson on February 4, 2018. The audio is available on Greg’s Podcast “The Greg Amundson Show” available on iTunes.
Episode_24 “The Greg Amundson Show” The Cause of Effects
So, my friends, without further ado, come with me. We are en route to Santa Cruz, California for a live recording of Faith Works Ministry at CrossFit Amundson in Santa Cruz, California. As we say in CrossFit, three…two…one…go!
I remember in 2001, the very early days the inception of CrossFit, I would come into the gym and I had a grand plan for what my workout was going to be. I was going to go into that gym and tell Coach Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, what I wanted to do in the workout. That never worked out very well. He always had another plan for me and it turns out his plan was always better than my plan.
The reason I mentioned that is last evening, about 9 p.m., I was right here Facebook Live announcing what the plan was for today’s ministry. That was my plan. I woke up this morning God had a whole new direction, an entirely new message in store for you today. God’s plan, I assure you, is much, much better than my plan. Ready?
All right, let’s begin with a word of prayer. Just close your eyes, take a deep breath. During our ministry today, every time you become aware of the breath, breathe through the nostrils. Every time you become aware of the fact that you are breathing, which is a miracle unto itself, in that moment breathe deeply through your nose.
God, thank you for this opportunity you’ve given us today. Thank you for watching over and keeping safe those of us that participated in the workout. Now, God, we’re on to the most important time of the totality of our time together: time in your Word, God.
God, the apostle Paul, his prayer for all those who would follow Jesus Christ would be that we would increase in wisdom, in revelation and in knowledge of you, God. Therefore, God, as we begin today, that is the prayer of our collective heart that we would increase in wisdom, in knowledge, in revelation of you. Bless this time that we have together, God. Amen.
I want to begin right in the Word of God in the Bible. We’re going to go way back in time to the Old Testament. Then we’re going to accelerate through the Bible to the New Testament, to the fulfillment of the Old Testament scripture. Then we’re going to do a little bit of what we call in seminary school Biblical investigation. Those of you in law enforcement will appreciate the quest that we will be on because we are going to find out firsthand in the next 20 to 30 minutes the manner in which everything that was instructed to us through the Old Testament was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and more importantly, how we can now follow Christ in everything that we do.
With that, let’s go to the Old Testament, Psalm 20:7. This was written by one of my Bible heroes. This psalm was written by David, as in David and Goliath. Those of you that were here at our first ministry — Cory, you were here, Brandon you were here, Joshua you were here, Kiera you were here — you recall we investigated the life of David, the manner in which we can embrace the warrior archetype in our life. Well, let’s go way back in time to a verse written by David.
David said, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses; but we trust in the name of the Lord, our God.” Now this Bible verse is going to prove to be immensely important as we accelerate through the Bible today. The reason is that the tendency of most people, including ourselves, unless we’re vigilant, is to put our trust in chariots, in horses. That’s a metaphor for putting our trust in anything other than God.
Now, if you recall in the story of David and Goliath, when David faced off against Goliath, seemingly the odds were severely stacked against him. He had on no armor; he had as a weapon a shepherd’s tool; he was facing a giant who head-to-toe was covered with armor. In addition to the armor that Goliath was wearing, Goliath had a shield bearer, another soldier standing in front of Goliath also wearing armor carrying a shield.
Here comes David. As David not walks, as David ran, as he accelerated towards that danger, towards that obstacle, towards that threat, he announced the faith that he had not in his sling, certainly not in his training which was severely lacking, not in the other thousands of troops assembled behind him. As he accelerated towards Goliath and started to sling and lose the rock, he said “I come to you, Goliath, in the name of the Lord.” And with that he lose the rock, it struck Goliath right between the eyes and boom, down he fell.
And now after that incident took place, several years later as David recounts his life, he thought that incident was important enough to succinctly articulate for you and I right here in this Psalm and so that we would not be confused. Because wouldn’t it be easy to look at the life of David and think what a warrior, what remarkable training he had, how proficient he was in the use of his sling. No. What David wanted us to know is that he had faith in God. That alone was his victory.
Now, we accelerate several hundred years later into the New Testament. We’re moving forward to the words of Jesus Christ, the perfect fulfillment of the life and line of David. This is a phenomenal Bible verse. Get ready.
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. A good man brings good out of the good stored up in his heart and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.” Listen carefully, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Just breathe that in to every cell of your body for a moment. Isn’t that amazing?
What we’re up to today is assessing the Word of God, understanding how we can utilize God’s word in our life. I want to take you back in time and share with you a story about my dad. The majority of stories I share about my father are very, very serious in nature. Today I have a rather humorous one for you to help put this in perspective.
I grew up on a levee in Stockton, California. Leaves in the winter were a major problem in my life because I had to rake them. We had a lot of trees. I would rake and rake and rake a massive pile of leaves then my dad would burn the leaves. This was a customary practice among the levees in Stockton. Now, Jim, you’re a firefighter. I’m not sure if you would agree that’s safe, yet that was deemed safe because of the close proximity of water.
Well, one particular day after a massive rainstorm I was out raking leaves. Now these leaves were soaking wet. So once they were assembled in a massive pile, it wasn’t realistic to just light the leaves. My dad thought he needed some accelerant. My dad, he was a pastor, body builder, champion swimmer, chiropractor, an amazing man, yet aware of fire hazard he was not. My dad used gasoline as an accelerant on these leaves. I was a young man, yet something told me that was a way to go to heaven really quickly. No sooner had my dad lit the match and touched it, the match was still in the air and those leaves caught fire and they burned quickly.
That, I find, is a really good metaphor, a really good example for the power of our spoken word because our words are like that match; they’re an accelerant for everything that is taking place within the temple of our mind. Every time we speak our spoken word is a little sneak preview of what has been taking place within our mind. If you want to know what is in someone’s heart, listen to the way they speak. This was essentially what Jesus was teaching us. Listen, he said “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Here’s what’s key. Throughout the entire Bible, the Biblical authors, which were inspired by God, use the word heart in a very unique way. Heart and mind were two different things. The heart was significantly more important because think about the quality of our heart for athletes, of which we all are. The heart is responsible for circulating life force through our body. Therefore, it’s one thing to think a particular way; it’s an entirely another thing to have your heart transformed because the heart is responsible for circulating character. The heart is responsible for circulating your essence through you. That is why to have a change of heart is much more important than simply a change of mind. Our thinking is constantly changing to and fro as it says in the Bible. Yet, when there’s a change of heart, when God can affect our heart, our life will never be the same.
As many of you know, I was very, very involved with the inception of CrossFit. In 2004, there was a life-changing moment for me and I feel very certain this was also a life-changing moment, if I can speak on behalf of my dear friend, Coach Glassman, a life-changing moment for Coach Glassman as well.
It was 2004; Coach and I were in Seattle. We were teaching one of the very first CrossFit certification that was outside of the Research Park headquarters for CrossFit this was a big deal. CrossFit was starting to grow; Coach Glassman was in high demand. This was a three-day certification. Three-day certification, to put that in perspective from a view, means that every single day, the athletes that were participating were being challenged, if not required, to throw down in three workouts a day. That’s extremely challenging and these were not average workouts. We just had an amazing training session. That pales in comparison to the workouts that were taking place in the early days of the CrossFit certification. These workouts were like Fight Gone Bad, Fran and Helen within a few hours of each other. This was an incredible extraordinary time with the birth of CrossFit.
This particular weekend was remarkable because there were two gentlemen who had been going head-to-head in all of the workouts throughout this weekend. These two guys had never seen each other before, yet they had nearly the same command of the physical movements within the workouts. They look the same, they talk the same, when their shirts came off they had the same build. They could’ve been twins, yet something ultimately separated these two athletes.
The final workout was upon these two athletes. Sunday evening, the certification is drawing to a close. The final workout consisted of ground to overhead 30 repetitions with a barbell, sprint across the gym floor to the rings, 10 muscle-ups to finish the workout. Extraordinarily challenging to combine those two skills together. These two guys finished the clean-and-jerk repetition 30 at the exact same time. The bar gets overhead; it drops to the ground at the same time. They start to sprint across the gym en route to the muscle-up station at the same time. They pass by Coach Glassman and I who are observing this at the same time. And as they ran by us Coach gives me the elbow and says, “Kid, this might be a tie.” They were that close.
Then something remarkable happened. One athlete, as he ran by Coach and I, said with a great deal of enthusiasm, a great deal of personal belief, a great deal of conviction, in his words he said, “I’ve never done a muscle-up before; today I’m going to get my first one.” Whoosh! Off he goes to the rings. Meanwhile, the other athlete right next to him also uses his words in a self-affirming way, yet what he is affirming in his life is entirely different; What he says is “I’ve never done a muscle-up before; there’s no way I can finish this final workout.” Off he goes to the rings.
These athletes arrived at the ring station at the same time. They stand under the rings, they reached up their arms, they secure a false grip. That’s critical to where we’re going in today’s ministry. They knew what to do. They were focused on the physical aspect of the skill. In other words they were putting their trust in chariots and horses. In the physical quality of the skill they secured false grip, key to understanding where we’re going.
They both took a deep breath then they started to pull themselves off the ground onto the rings. The athlete that just moments earlier had said, “Today I’m going to get my first one,” he started to pull and pull and pull and pull, the rings get chin level, which you know is a critical moment in the muscle-up, then all of a sudden his head comes over the rings. He’s now what we call on top of the rings, a look of not surprise but certainty on his face. He knew he would be there. Smile, presses out, he achieves his first muscle up.
Now, meanwhile the other athlete, he gets to that same critical point on the rings. He’s at the transition from pull to push, yet he never comes close to making that centimeter of a difference of change of angle to finish the technique. Meanwhile, as he’s struggling, flailing about on the rings, the other athlete that had used his words in a self-affirming way, he goes on to perform nine more muscle-ups. He only stops to briefly reset his grip on the rings. Wow!
Take a look at the whiteboard. Cause-effect, sow-reap, good tree-good fruit. We’re using the whiteboard to pull out of the Bible a visual representation of what Jesus had said in regards to “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Jesus used the example of a tree because we can all understand the nature of a tree. A tree produces after its own kind. What kind of fruit does an apple tree produce? An apple. It’s no great surprise to the farmer. The farmer isn’t shocked. “Whoa! Look, my apple tree produced an apple.” Of course it did. It’s an apple tree. It produces after its own kind.
Here’s what we have to understand. In between cause and effect, there is always a season of time. That time I can be a tremendous blessing in our life because God is graciously giving us an opportunity to change, to influence, to redirect the cause of every subsequent effect of our life. What is the cause of every affect? Well, Jesus tells us it’s ultimately our out of the abundance of our heart.
We now understand the heart in the Bible means our very character, the character of our life. Not just our surface level thinking, those habitual thoughts that we may no longer even be aware of. In modern application, the heart is the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is running your life and my life. Every affect in our life was ultimately caused right here, within the temple of our mind.
Now, I mentioned that time can be a great blessing because we have an opportunity to assess the totality of the affects in our life. In other words we can be that farmer that goes out into our field and assesses the quality of our fruit. What type of fruit is our harvest bearing? Is it good fruit or bad fruit? Jesus makes it fairly simple. If Mark Divine was here, a dear mentor of mine and Josh and Aaron, Mark Divine would say, “We assess the quality of our thinking in regards to are we feeding the dog of courage or the dog of fear.” That is Biblically sound because Jesus taught us the same principle, is your tree producing good fruit or bad fruit.
Now, imagine this. Imagine if God had accelerated time in our life and so that if everything that we thought immediately produced in our life. Whoa! That’d be an entirely another story. That can be a major problem if everything we thought just immediately produced in our life. Now I assure you if that were the case, we would have much more respect for our thinking.
Those of you who walk the path of a warrior, one of the fundamental principles of firearms is that every firearm is always loaded all the time. That’s the power of our mind. Our mind is always loaded all the time. There is always a thought entertained in our mind. Thank God that thought is not immediately producing because that could be a problem. Yet, if it were to immediately produce, that would certainly entice us to be more aware of our thinking.
Well, my friends, in many respects just because there is time between cause and effect means that that time is unknown and unknowable. Those of you participating in CrossFit, you recognize that terminology. CrossFit is unknown and unknowable. When we walk into the gym, the workout is unknown and unknowable. That’s the nature of what is known as the law of gender or the law of time. We do not know the time that a thought needs to produce. All we know is that in time every thought will produce. How will it produce? Well, after its own kind. Isn’t that remarkable? That is reason enough to become much more aware of the quality of every thought in our mind.
Many of you are involved in law enforcement. I’ve been involved in law enforcement since 1999. I love law. Law fascinates me. Law in our culture takes on many unique perspectives. There’s penal code law, there’s vehicle code law, there’s real estate law, even CrossFit abides by contract law. Law is everywhere. Law is governing our life. We’re called to abide by law. We certainly understand the implications of breaking the law, yet consider this: how many of you have rolled through a stop sign? What? So have I. We call that a California stop. We roll through stop signs. How many of you have committed a more grievous violation of the law? Grand felony type violation of the law? Likely not.
Now, what’s interesting is that in our society, because there’s a hierarchy of law, we judge law based on the severity of the punishment. If you roll through a stop sign and if you’re stopped and given a ticket, in many respects that’s an infraction. Another example is how many of you have ever driven your motor vehicle with a cracked windshield? If you were pulled over for a cracked windshield, that’s a violation of the vehicle code, yet that’s what’s called a correctable violation. You can get your windshield replaced within 30 days, take your ticket to court and it’s as if the violation never happened.
The other interesting quality of the law that we abide by is that whether or not you were aware of the law, you’re accountable to the law. For example, you may be driving your motor vehicle unaware that the cracked windshield is in fact a violation of the vehicle code. Yet if a law enforcement officer pulls you over, you’re subject to a violation. You can be criminally cited for having a cracked windshield. And if you tell the officer I didn’t know that was a violation of the law, in the vehicle code, the officer is not able to look to the code and find oh, you were unaware; therefore that’s a subsection to the law. You can go free. Have a good day. That’s not in the vehicle code, neither is that in the penal code. No law has a subset of law that forgives you for ignorance to the law. You’re accountable, and we all do our best to abide the law of man or woman, the law of society, human law. We do our best. Well guess what. There’s a much greater law that we have to abide by.
Now consider this. We’re in agreement that there’s a difference. We’ve all rolled through a stop sign, yet we are not the type of person to commit murder. And if we’re assessing two people, one that’s committed violation of vehicle code, one that’s committed a heinous act — rape, murder, a serious injury to another person — we judge those two people entirely differently, do we not?
Well, that was certainly on the mind and heart of the apostles because the law in the Old Testament was very, very important. Moses gave the people of God law they had to abide by. In other words he gave them a penal code. He said abide by this law. This is the law of God. Now that law through the Old Testament was much like our law of penal code. It dealt with things that you did. It dealt, in other words, with not the cause but the effect.
Now this is really, really important. Old Testament law was dealing primarily with this: the effect of what you did, not the cause of the effect. Then comes Jesus Christ who taught us that focusing on just the effect will never result in canceling or having any influence on the effect. You have to focus on the cause. What is the cause of every effect? Your thinking. Because when asked about the severity of the law what Jesus said was remarkable. He said it’s one thing not to commit adultery, the physical act of committing adultery. That’s one thing. If you restrain yourself from committing adultery, good on you. However, if you commit adultery in your mind, if in your thinking you lust for your neighbor’s wife, guess what? You’ve committed adultery.
There was no difference to Jesus between the cause and the effect. Why would that be? Why would Jesus see no difference between the cause and the effect? I believe it was because Jesus knew that cause would lead to the effect. In other words, if you spend time entertaining in your mind, in the temple of your mind, which is a private place, yet nevertheless, if within that private place you spend time thinking adulterous thoughts, thinking violent thoughts, thinking thoughts of theft, thinking any criminal thought or thought that violates the law, in time or in a season you would produce after that kind of thought you were entertaining. Wow! When you have that proposed, doesn’t that make you just come alive?
What’s so important is that all of us we do a remarkable job abiding by law. Even today during the workout, we were in agreement. In many respects, we set a law — we had a time duration, we had a repetition duration, we were in agreement on the order of events, we knew the range of motion, we were in agreement and aware of the points of performance. Everything that we do in many respects is focusing on the effect.
Ultimately, however, my friends, to really walk the path of a modern-day warrior, it necessitates more than simply focusing on the effects of life. Ultimately, we have to move. We even have to, if I could be so bold as to say, we have to assault the ultimate battleground. The ultimate battleground for the modern-day warrior is the mind, our thinking, because through repetition of thought, we influence our heart. Out of the heart the mouth speaks.
Consider this. Some of you, for example, Nathan Mendelsohn you are a master in jujitsu. Dr. Van Brunt, you’ve mastered the human body; you’re a doctor of chiropractor. We’re amongst masters. They’re all around us. What does it take to achieve mastery? Repetition. Repetition is the first law of learning. Everything that you have learned to do to this day was achieved by repetition.
We can use that principle to our advantage. We can discipline our self to take time every single day to repeat the Word of God. By repeating the Word of God, we can influence the quality of our thinking. More importantly, we can ultimately influence our heart. It simply takes time. It simply takes repetition and it takes memorization. Yet, we’re all capable of that. Every single one of us has the ability to memorize the word of God. We all have adequate time during the day to repeat the Word of God. And the Word of God is telling you and it’s promising us that when we embrace the Word of God, when the Word of God sinks into our heart, when it ultimately changes us, then and only then do we have the promise that the future effects of our life will be agreeable to what we really desire.
Therefore, I propose to you a Bible verse that is worthy of your memorization. You’ve got some notes with you. There’s a few on your notes that I think are really powerful. One in particular I want to help shed some light on. And for this we’re going back into the Old Testament.
If you recall, those of you that participated in the workout, what pose did we go into concluding the workout? What is that pose referred to in yoga? Child’s pose. Listen to this. Elijah, the prophet, climbed to the top of Mount Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. That sound familiar? Child’s pose.
“Go and look toward the sea,” Elijah told his servant and he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” his servant said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back and look again.” The seventh time the servant reported, a cloud, as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” So Elijah said, Go and tell Ahab hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. Listen carefully, this is phenomenal. The power of the Lord came upon Elijah and tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
Anything about that Bible verse strike you as being odd as an athlete? To translate or in layman term articulate what you just heard, the Word of God, Elijah outran a chariot. Now in CrossFit we get pretty excited when over the course of one minute e an athlete produces three-fourths of a horse power. If anyone has ever done Fran, the workout Fran, 21-15-9 thruster pull-up in approximately three minutes, that athlete had an average power output of three-fourths of a horse power. Yet, when God, when the spirit of the Lord comes upon us we can outran a horse and chariot. Everything is starting to come together now. The king had his trust, his faith in his chariot. He tried to ride ahead of the storm; Elijah outran the chariot.
The reason I turned to this particular Bible verse is that Elijah shows us the power of repetition. He continued to pray. He was praying for rain. There’d been a severe drought. He was on top of Mount Carmel. As he was praying, his servant went and looked seven times for proof of the result. In other words, the servant went out and looked for this, the effect of what? This. Elijah was focusing on the supernatural realm. He was focusing on the power of his prayer. He knew that in time, in a season his prayer would come to fruition. He knew it. It was only a matter of time.
And that’s what’s so powerful about this particular Bible verse is that imagine a time in your life your life when you were trying to learn a physical skill. Every single one of you walks pretty well. A matter of fact, you all run really well. I’ve seen the great majority of you run very, very well, very fast. How did you learn to walk? How did you learn to run? You fell down. Then what happened? You got back up. And that’s what Elijah did. He prayed. He sent out his servant, his servant came back and said there’s no rain. He said go back. Servant said okay, walked out, looked, not a cloud in the sky, came back, Elijah there’s no cloud out there; the sky is blue. Go back; look again seven times. That’s the certainty that Elijah had in his prayer.
The other reason I think this is so clearly articulated in the Bible is that wouldn’t it have been easy for Elijah to come into agreement with his servant? The servant comes back, Elijah, your cause meaning your prayer, is having no effect. There’s no cloud. The sky is blue. Elijah says oh, you’re right. Let’s forget this ever took place. Have you had people in your life that if confronted you despite your prayer, despite the desire of your heart, despite your intention to think positively have been a stronghold against you? Well, it’s in the Bible, so we can assure ourselves that at some point in our life, despite our prayer someone is going to tell you there’s no cloud in the sky. And that’s when you have to have faith not in chariots or the effects of the world; you have to maintain faith in God. You have to say to that person, and maybe even to yourself, “Go back! Look again.” I love the Word of God. It can change our life.
Let’s end with a moment of prayer and then we have a special treat. We have a guest to pray over our meal today. Thank you. So let’s take a moment to just bow our head, and in the same way that we began our message today, we began if you recall with just a moment of silence and a moment of breath awareness. In the Bible, it essentially says that the breath is like an anchor for our soul. The breath helps us stay in the present moment. The Bible it says that God formed us out of dust then breathed the breath of life into our nostrils. Every time we take that breath in through our nose we’re participating in that very verse. We’re inviting the awareness of God into our life, into our awareness right here, right now.
God, thank you for your Word. God, your Word is a lamp unto our feet. God, thank you for giving us the discipline to be aware of the quality of our thinking. God, thank you providing for us Scripture that we can memorize that can influence the quality of not just our thinking but of our heart. God, our prayer today is a prayer for a renewed mind, God, that you would create in us a clean heart. Elevate the quality of every thought in our mind. Create in us, God a new and right spirit.
Thank you for this time that you’ve given us, God. God, we pray that you would continue to give each and every one of us a spirit of wisdom and revelation and the knowledge of you. In your son’s name, Jesus Christ, we bring every petition of our heart before you. Amen.
Well, my friends, I sincerely hope that you enjoyed that live recording from Faith Works Ministry in Santa Cruz, California. If you’re interested in church planting a Faith Works Ministry at your CrossFit gym or a physical fitness gym that you participate in or really, if you want to bring a chapter of Faith Works Ministry into any endeavor that you feel God is leading you, my encouragement to you is go for it. In the same manner that Coach Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, a dear friend of mine, used to tell me as early as December 2001 when I first started CrossFit, he would say as I was preparing to leave the gym, “Hey, kid! When you get home, knock on your neighbor’s door and teach them how to squat or deadlift or press or any other skill I had learned that day during the workout.” Well, my encouragement to you, my friend, is that if you feel God is leading you to develop a Faith Works Ministry, then you know what? Knock on your neighbor’s door and teach them about God.
That’s clearly a part of the totality of the mission, the purpose that God has in store for you and I am here to support, encourage and give you anything that you need to further your life purpose and bring people the peace, the presence, the strength of God.
Well, with that, my friends, let’s take a moment and close together in prayer.
God, thank you for this sacred time that we have had together. God, I ask a blessing upon the listener today that the listener of today’s show, this person, God, who has spent time investing in your Word, God, I ask a blessing upon them. God, I turn to the words of the apostle Paul, such a powerful, beautiful prayer, God. And I pray, Father, those words over the listener today, God, that you would bless this listener with an increase of knowledge, an increase of revelation, an increase of wisdom of you, God. Ultimately, God, I know, according to your Word, that as we seek you first, everything else will be added to us. And therefore, God, I want to acknowledge this listener, Father, for seeking you first. And as he or she seeks you, God, I pray that you would bless every department of their life.
All right, my friends, thank you for joining me today on the show and until next time. May God bless you and keep you safe. And I will talk to you soon right back here on The Greg Amundson Show. Take care.
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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