Friday, March 19, 2021

Now That's a Bad Idea!

Several years ago, my friend, Mike, and I were discussing our mutual weight loss goals. I was easily 50 pounds overweight and struggling with high everything: blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, sugar.  You name it – if I had it, it was high.  He encouraged me to try a spin class at our company gym. As an avid weightlifter and powerlifter, the word cardio had always been a four-letter word to me.  I was big and strong, but unfortunately, I was also obese.  My concept of fitness was focused solely on the musculoskeletal system, and it completely ignored the cardiorespiratory aspects.  The idea of a spin class terrified me.

I was afraid to step out of my comfort zone, but Mike convinced me to try it and I found I actually liked it.  The power I had acquired from years of squats and deadlifts translated nicely into power on the bike.  

After class, the instructor stopped me to chat for a bit.  He said I had great power, which could make me an excellent cyclist.  I was skeptical but agreed to come back.  After the second class, the instructor again told me he would like to work with me, and he asked me to join his team of Ironman trainees.  Whoa, time out!  This was a bad idea.


Are You Kidding?

I had never heard of an Ironman, and I certainly didn’t realize I’d just walked into a cardio nightmare.  The instructor explained to me that the spin class was designed for Ironman trainees, and that most of the class consisted of seasoned triathletes in pursuit of an Ironman triathlon. An Ironman triathlon is a 140.6-mile race that entails a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike segment, and a 26.2-mile run.  Yikes.

He asked me to join.

Not Happening

The answer to my spin instructor about joining his team was easy.  No.  The word triathlete is broken into two words, “tri” meaning three and “athlete” meaning a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.  In this case, the word “tri” also implies three sports: swimming, cycling, and running.  I had no experience as a cyclist, I didn’t know how to swim, and the last time I had tried running, I tore my calf so severely that the health care professionals all agreed I would never run again.

This wasn’t going to happen.

God Called

I went home feeling good about the fact that the instructor seemed to think I had potential as an athlete. But I felt better about the fact that I emphatically said no and didn’t commit myself to something for which I neither had the aptitude nor the desire.

Until…I got restless. That evening, I became very restless.  I was new to my faith and didn’t fully know the voice of God, but it was Him. This restlessness turned into a nudge, and I felt like I should be considering the sport of triathlon.  I just couldn’t figure out why God would nudge me to do something like this.

Suddenly, the words “Hope Water Project” began racing through my mind.  Hope Water Project (HWP) is a non-profit, started by Kensington Church, that aims to share the love of Jesus by drilling wells in communities that lack access to clean water.  Athletes sign up for endurance events and solicit donations for their participation.  That whole night, I hardly slept as my mind wrestled with the idea of triathlon and HWP. 

I Ran from God

My saving grace was that at the time, HWP was an organization of runners and walkers, not triathletes.  Thankfully, they didn’t participate in any non-running events, so I thought I was off the hook. I kept praying to God that if it was His voice asking me to act on this triathlon madness, that He would stop.  I did NOT want to do this.

Every argument I came up with was met with some type of counterargument.  The more I resisted, the more I felt like I was being nudged to do it. I spent the day dreaming up excuses and running from God, but the more I went in the opposite direction, the more I felt the nudge.  After thinking about it and praying on it all day, I finally concluded that I had no more good excuses and that maybe I needed to listen. I broke down and somewhat reluctantly joined the team.

A Great Idea?

In hindsight, this turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. I learned a new sport (technically, three).  I was pushed outside of my comfort zone.  I lost weight and became much healthier.  I met some new, lifelong friends. I raised money for a great cause ( Everything about this sport has changed my life for the better.  Most importantly, endurance sports have become a platform for me to share the love of God with those who are lost and broken.

In the process, I also learned a few key lessons in life:

  • Life is lived outside your comfort zone. I was afraid to step out, but once I did, everything changed.
  • When you hear God’s voice, act on it.  I never heard an audible, booming voice like we all imagine. But I did feel those nudges from inside and knowing that Hope Water Project is a faith-based ministry, I’m sure those nudges were the voice of God.  I didn’t know what I was doing; He did.
  • Life a life of impact.  Becoming an endurance athlete has provide me a platform for sharing the love of God.  It’s introduced me to people whom I’ve been able to positively influence both spiritually and personally.  It’s enabled me to make a difference and to have an impact on those around me.

Sometimes the best ideas in life start out seeming like bad ideas.  When something seems outside your comfort zone, rather than respond with a knee-jerk reaction, take your time and think about it.  Maybe it’s outside your comfort zone for a reason.  Maybe God’s asking you to do something.  Or maybe, just maybe, there’s an opportunity to make an impact far greater than you ever imagined.

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 
Check out In Our Weakness We Are Strong on Amazon at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at

Monday, March 1, 2021

Embrace Your Impossible

For hundreds of years before 1954, running a mile in under four minutes was deemed physically impossible.  It didn’t just seem impossible; it was scientifically determined that humans were incapable of doing so.  Then Roger Bannister did this on May 6, 1954 with a time of 3:59.  Within a year, someone else ran a four-minute mile.  Now, it’s almost routine.  

No words in history have imposed more false limitations than the words "I can’t” and "impossible."  The brain always moves in the direction of one’s dominant thoughts.  Yet our lives are filled with those words.  Trust me, I know.  I can’t control my diet.  I can’t lose weight.  I can’t reduce my blood pressure.  The words “I can’t” aren’t just words - they’re a crystal-clear set of instructions for your brain.  They tell you that something is impossible, and your subconscious goes into autopilot.    



In the Bible, Matthew Chapter 19 (NIV) talks about the impossible.  The story in Matthew 19:16-28 talks about a wealthy, young man who was asking Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. After Jesus shares a few commandments, the man answers, in a way that suggests a bit of arrogance, that he’s met all of those conditions.  Then Jesus replies in verse 21, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  Jesus isn’t saying that selling all your possessions is a prerequisite for eternal life; He is simply making a point that we can never do enough to earn eternal life.  His disciples then ask Jesus the obvious question, “Who then can be saved?”  (Matthew 19:25).  He replies in verse 26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.  Jesus is reiterating the point that man cannot earn eternal life on His own.  He needs God.  He needs a Savior.  That Savior is Jesus Christ.  

When grounded in faith and connected to the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the power of God within us, and nothing is impossible.


Running a sub-4 mile was impossible, but Roger Bannister didn’t get that memo.  In Matthew 19, we’re led down a path that suggests that earning or doing our way into Heaven is impossible, but with God anything is possible.  I’ve had a few impossibles in my life.  

  • When I was over 250 pounds with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high sugar, and a high risk for cardiovascular disease, people told me getting healthy was impossible.  
  • When I severely tore my calf in 2010, I was told that it would be impossible to ever run again.
  • When I joined a triathlon team in 2014, just four years after being told I’d never run again, not knowing how to swim, and not having ridden a bike since I was a kid, everyone told me a triathlon would be impossible.
  • When I approached race day of my first Ironman triathlon, I was injured and was told by many people that it would be impossible to finish the race with my injury.

Being told it was impossible was all the motivation I needed. I leaned on experts to create action plans, and I relied on God as my source of inner strength.  By the grace of God, each of these impossibles became possible.  Next time someone says you can’t do something, take it as a challenge. 

Winning Mindset

Impossible is usually just a self-imposed limitation. If babies behaved like adults, every single one of us would have stopped trying to stand and walk after our first several failed attempts.  We would have failed a few times and said, "This is impossible."  Fortunately, babies don’t know the word “impossible.”  

Matthew 17:20 (NIV) says, “…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed ... nothing will be impossible for you.” Each and every day, miracles happen, and the impossible becomes possible.


What’s your impossible?  Maybe it’s overcoming an obstacle at work or in your family. Maybe it’s dealing with an addiction or illness.  Maybe it’s a far-reaching goal.  Whatever it is, start by putting your finger on it and understanding why you believe it’s impossible.

Once you’ve identified your impossible, think about your approach.  Do you have a plan?  Are there experts you can lean on for help?  Are there others who’ve done this before and can advise or coach you?  

Lastly, think about your inner source of strength.  Are you trying to do this alone, or are you putting your faith, optimism, and positive thinking to work?  

Ephesians 1:19-20 (NIV) says, “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”

If you believe, you already have the power in you. Make today your day.  Make your impossible, possible.

Welcome to the new you.  Enjoy the journey... 
Check out In Our Weakness We Are Strong on Amazon at
Learn more about Dave VanEpps or request a speaking engagement at

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