Yesterday, on the Marathon Maniacs Facebook page, there was a thread that turned pretty heated discussing "banditting" a race. That's the practice of running a race without being entered. People do it for a variety of reasons -- the registration cap for a race was reached and they couldn't get in, they can't afford the registration fee, sometimes they have no plans to run but get caught up in the race euphoria and jump in on the spur of the moment. I'm sure some do it for other reasons too, but it doesn't matter what the excuse, it's considered bad running etiquette.
Most serious runners frown on the practice. It's specifically addressed in the rules of the Marathon Maniac club that running a race as a bandit will not count for your stats toward your star level. Most race directors promise to ban from future races they put on anyone caught running without being registered. Though some view it as harmless, there are legitimate reasons it's against the rules in most races. I won't go into them here, but will be happy to answer anyone's questions about the reasons in the comments or via email.
The thread yesterday ended up an argument between those who respect the sport enough to follow its rules, and those who believe the rules shouldn't matter if they don't feel like following them. And that's where today's message fits, even in a selective community of dedicated runners, we get a few who refuse to play by the rules.
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." ~ 1 Timothy 4:1
Paul warned Timothy that such times would come, even in the church, a time when people would stray from the faith, refusing to do what's right, led astray by those who make up their own rules. We see it in some of today's "churches" that are abandoning Biblical principles in an effort to "change with the times." Some of these churches have decided the Bible doesn't really mean what it says, or that it isn't really the Word of God. This is how they justify decisions to abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits. Even worse, is they are leading others away.
I won't name specific churches here, but encourage all to read the Bible for themselves and decide whether or not the church you attend follows the Bible, the teachings of Christ. Paul warned of false teachers, deceiving spirits, and believers being led away.
Be watchful. Be wary. And don't be deceived.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.