Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. (1 Corinthians 9:24 NRSV)

I heard about a young man who loved to run. In fact he was a member of his high school team. He wasn't a champion runner, though. He usually finished third or fourth in big races. Until one day just before a very big race he received a note from a very pretty girl that he had been trying to impress. The note said, "I'm cheering for you." And it was signed "XXX, Lisa." We all know that XXX means "love and kisses." That note fired up this young man, and he won his first big race.

By the way, do you know how XXX came to mean love and kisses? Back when most people could not read or write, they signed most official documents with an "X." The X stood for the cross of Jesus and that made whatever they signed a solemn document. Sometimes, in order to show their utter sincerity, after they would sign their X, they would kiss it. After most people started to read and write, they still kept the X around, except now it was XXX and it stood for love and kisses.

The cross still means love to us today, doesn't it? Just as a pretty girl's love made that young man run faster on the track, so God's love makes champions out of us. Because we know God loves us, we work harder to be the kind of people God created us to be. So, XXX from God. What does that mean? You are loved. Go out and be champions.

Dear Jesus, thank you for making me a champion. Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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