Bill’s youthful interest and experience in exercise and nutrition resulted in over 50 years of instruction in health and fitness. As well as training many individuals, he taught exercise classes at a Bible college, YMCA, churches, camps, Jesus ‘84, National Senior Health & Fitness Day, and other venues in the U.S. and overseas. He also continues giving lectures and writing on biblical principles of health and fitness.
Often alongside Bill’s total fitness and self-defense classes, Karen led aerobics for women and teen girls in another section of the ministry center. Through the witness in these classes, many came to know the ultimate answer for total health and fitness.
Bill has devised a variety of workout routines, developed a unique style of self-defense training, initiated a specialized form of trampoline basketball, designed innovative obstacle courses, invented recreational games (published in youth magazines), created fasting regimens, and authored several articles and books on these topics.
Venice Beach in Southern California was known as Muscle Beach in the 1960s. It was the place Bill and all his weight lifting buddies dreamed of going when they were teens. While ministering in California, Bill has had the opportunity to visit Venice Beach several times.
Lined along the beach is a seemingly endless array of booths displaying every imaginable philosophy. One area of the beach had fitness equipment and gymnastic apparatuses so Bill began there. In an attempt to get himself acclimated before interacting with the people—and maybe to fulfill a teenage dream—he climbed to the top of a high rope, did a few feats on the gymnastic rings and parallel bars, and punched the speed bag.
As the Apostle Paul did in Athens before reasoning in the marketplace and speaking to the philosophers in the Areopagus, Bill evaluated the environment and mindset at Venice Beach. Now he was ready to interact with the people. Because he set the tone with his physical prowess and took time to listen to those around him, he gained their respect and was able to share his testimony and the gospel with many people.
Senior Health and Fitness Day
During one of Bill’s many ministry trips to California, he spoke to seniors on health and fitness and received the following note:
I wanted to thank you for being part of our National Senior Health and Fitness Day. Your presentation was very well received and I have had numerous comments and compliments about it. I really appreciate your agreeing to speak for us as it connected so perfectly with the theme of the day. D. H., California
The Snow Run
Keira, a college roommate of Bill’s daughter with a heart for missions, went on the snow run with Bill. Keira’s father is an amazing scientist who persevered through great challenges and obstacles to invent the MRI.
The infamous Snow Run began one cold and snowy evening many years ago. I was at home, working on a message, late at night, and needed something at the ministry center – a distance of about 100 yards (the length of a football field). Instead of taking the time to put on socks and shoes, I ran barefoot over to the center. It was a challenge, an adventure and a time-saver, so I continued this practice through snow and ice many times. Even now, when guests visit us during the winter, I will ask if they want to do the Snow Run, and a few (especially my grandchildren) have run it with me, but most – though curious – decline.
I love doing things like the Snow Run because the Lord usually gives me spiritual applications to share. For instance, a believer’s daily walk with Him is like the Snow Run in many ways.
First, you “count the cost” and mentally prepare yourself for the ordeal that lies ahead. You consider the temperature, terrain and time of day or night to determine the level of difficulty. (Be sure to have the ministry door key ready or are able to make it to the obstacle course and then back to the house!) By way of parallel, Jesus said to count the cost before becoming His disciple. Before embarking on any endeavor in His name, you must be certain of being led by His Spirit and His Word, and that your heart is prepared for whatever might lie ahead.
Second, as a barefoot runner in shorts and T-shirt, you must run swiftly and make each step count; you cannot look back lest you slip and fall. So too, believers must throw off every sin that so easily entangles and swiftly run the race of faith, making each day count for the Lord. We must forget what lies behind and press on with faith and determination.
As a Snow Runner, you must not divert to the right or to the left because after a few steps, your feet start burning. In like manner, the believer in Jesus Christ must be focused on Him, not turning to the right or to the left lest the enemy divert, defeat and devour you.
By the time you are halfway across the snow-covered field, your feet feel like cement blocks, then quickly go numb; you cannot stop or you may have to crawl back. Likewise, for a true believer in Christ, stopping or giving up is not an option – you must stay faithful until the very end.
Running with little or no snow is even more difficult because the ground is covered with hard, uneven clumps of ice and dirt that hurt the bottoms of your feet. In the same way, living for Jesus without the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of God’s Word will hurt and hinder your witness and effectiveness.
Although watchers may not realize the true challenge and difficulty of the Snow Run, participants in bare feet, wearing only shorts and a T-shirt, quickly understand the fortitude required to accomplish this feat. (At night, when it is below zero, with a foot of snow on the ground and the wind is blowing hard, this is especially true!) Similarly, those who do not know the Lord cannot comprehend the commitment and sacrifice of the true Christian who must often show tremendous courage to face the onslaught of the enemy and stand – sometimes alone – in the midst of opposition.
Approaching the ministry center parking lot, a burst of energy is needed to leap or climb over a snow bank several feet high left by the snow plow. Likewise, the believer will face many barriers and obstacles left to impede progress, but can be overcome through the energizing power of Christ.
Jumping over the snow mound, you will slide across an icy parking lot. If you keep your balance, you won’t fall on the blacktop or crash into the steps or front door of the ministry center and injure yourself! As believers, we maintain a biblical balance by avoiding the extremes of legalism on the one hand, and liberalism on the other. We must not slip or fall by compromising our commitment to Christ, nor injure young Christians because of our complacency.
Upon reaching the front door, your freezing hands will fumble with the key, sometimes dropping it, in an attempt to quickly unlock the door. So too, if as believers, we fumble when facing temptations and tribulations, we speedily ask His forgiveness, get up and press on to maintain our testimony.
The burning sensation returns as you walk around inside the ministry center, trying to warm your feet on the carpet. You may not want to make the return Snow Run, but you have to. In the same way, once you give your life to Christ and your heart is warmed by His love, you must go out into an oftentimes cold world and share His love and truth with those who may not always want to hear.
Finally, each step of the Snow Run takes you closer to your destination and the reward of warmth and comfort. Likewise, each day brings us as believers, closer to our eternal destiny and an everlasting reward.
Since selling the former ministry center, I have modified the Snow Run – making it a little longer and more challenging. Now the goal is to run all the way to the monkey bars in the obstacle course, do a few pull-ups (if possible) then run back to the house with no halfway point to warm our feet! You sprint back to the house as fast as you can to alleviate the intense burning sensation and numbness of your feet; your lungs, straining for every breath, are also burning! At times, spiritual warfare in a believer’s life is so intense that we can feel the fiery darts of the enemy; only the shield of faith will protect us and the Word of God is our source of victory.
Perhaps you will remember this story of the Snow Run as you see the Day of the Lord approaching or your time draws nearer to go to Him. May you be a conqueror who runs your race for the Lord with perseverance, leaping over every obstacle that hinders, remaining faithful to the very end and joyfully entering His eternal kingdom.
Postscript: My summer challenge is to run to the obstacle course in bare feet through the hundreds of clover flowers populating our lawn – carefully avoiding bees collecting their nectar – and dodging “land mines” (animal poop). This puts me in mind of the challenge and adventure of living for Jesus Christ every day of my life! There may be unpleasant times, but in the end, we win – which makes all we go through for our Lord Jesus Christ well worth it!