Category Archives: Racing With Jesus Ministries

Journey of Faith

By Rev Don Rivers

We took a little break from our journey of faith and I wanted to review where we’ve been. What gets us moving down the road? What is it that prompts us to start the journey? What do we need to encourage us to follow? Let’s take a look at our journey. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I have often thought about the effort it takes to get from the garage to the track. Where does the motivation come from to embark on a racing adventure? Some can see the potential in a pile of metal tubing. Others can see an old car and imagine the future racecar hidden inside. Do you remember the junkyard days? The journey began with a trip out to the yard. Let’s see what we can find and make into a racecar. Today the journey may begin searching the internet to see what’s available. No matter, the journey begins with a spark, a thought, a desire to see what you can do.

Hebrews 12 :1, NLT; Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

We begin the journey to join those who have already gone before us. Maybe to match their efforts or exceed what they were able to accomplish. Very few times do we start a journey on a road no one has traveled. We follow in the footsteps of those who have come before. It is important to acknowledge, remember where we come from and those who came before us.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one. Sometimes the greatest thing we can do is honor the journey of someone who came before us. As we are inspired by their journey we might ask; what has God placed me here for? Whose lives have we been placed here to touch? And so, our journey begins.

Our goal in life as a Christian is to be a follower of Jesus Christ. To do that requires faith. Not in our abilities or understanding, but in God’s sovereignty. Sometimes we question if God is still in control. Sometimes we wonder if He has things figured out. Will God do it or does he need my help? We even have the thought that we need to lead God. We need to show Him where we think He should be working.

There are some things God tolerates that we do. There are some things God allows us to do. But there are things that only God makes happen. God’s Sovereign Will, will be done. As followers we need to remember that, we need to understand two important things about God;

God is Sovereign, God has absolute control over His creation and determines the outcome of all things according to His wise, just and righteous purposes.

God is Good, God not only controls everything but he reveals his character in the outcome of His plan, it accomplishes good and is beneficial for us.

Whether we believe it or not! When we fail to acknowledge God’s sovereignty we become, as James described, tossed about.

James 1:5-8; NLT: 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

When it does not seem likely. When it does not seem possible. When it does not make sense to us. Then it has to be God! Remember our goal in life is to be a follower of Jesus Christ. To do that requires faith, not in our abilities or understanding, but in God’s Sovereignty.

What enables us to persevere? What is it that gives us hope? What is it that gives us peace?

Faith; We receive them as we walk by faith.

… let us strip off every weight that slows us down …

We need to take a look at our lives and ask; What keeps us from serving God; Job, Home, Racing, Family or maybe Debt, Pride, Fear or Greed?

… the sin that so easily trips us up…

Most of us think we are good people. We try to do what’s right in God’s eyes. We try to treat others as God would but this is where we get tripped up. Have we ever been unkind, unloving, lacked faith, abrasive, out of control, impatient, anxious or worried, prideful or arrogant? There it is, the sin that so easily trips us up. The things that keep us from experiencing the full blessing of God.

When we place our faith in God through Jesus, he enables us to walk in faith. When we walk in faith, we persevere through all the hindrances and entanglements with our focus on Jesus.

How can we maintain our faith in God when things are not going the way we think they should?

Isaiah 43 1b-3b; “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

  2 When you pass through the waters,

    I will be with you;

  and when you pass through the rivers,

    they will not sweep over you.

  When you walk through the fire,

    you will not be burned;

    the flames will not set you ablaze.

  3 For I am the LORD, your God,

    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

God is with us! Facing hardship, persecution and difficulties is part of the journey, but we should never forget that we cannot be separated from the love of God through Jesus Christ! The source of the fire may be cruel or malicious intentions on the part of others, but ultimately God is the one who is controlling the temperature and allowing us to pass through it. First, remember God knows the way that we take. God is not unaware of our difficulty; God is not insensitive to the pain we are feeling. He knows. He is intimately acquainted with our situation and our condition.

And if the all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God is allowing one of his children to pass through affliction, we can rest assured that there is a purpose behind it. We may not see it yet. We may not even agree with it. But rest assured that when God has tried us, we will come out as refined, purified gold, reflecting His image.

We can rest in the wonderful assurance that God is next to us on our journey and on his throne in heaven. He knows the way we are taking, and is in control over every detail of our journey until it is complete and we join Him in glory. Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support and donations helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.

THE ROAD

As you may know the first part of the racing season starts in the South. In February, Daytona comes to life and lives up to its billing as the World Center of Speed. All around the central Florida area racetracks come to life with drivers, teams, and fans from across the country. That requires a little roadwork, time to hit the road. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The last of the nomads make their way around the country pursuing their need for speed. Their pursuits require a bit of roadwork, life on the road. The road begins in late January for some but the traditional start of the racing season is Speedweeks. Sometimes it is not difficult to leave the frozen Northeast and travel south for some warmth and racing. Sometimes the road is a lonely one. No matter, we serve the racing community and where they gather is where we need to be.

Road trips come in all shapes and sizes, they can be adventures, exploring new horizons. They can be familiar roads that have been traveled many times. They can be constantly changing, moving us to find new ways to get to the destination. Sometimes they contain detours and roadblocks. The truth is there are no shortcuts, you have to log the miles no matter which way you go. It’s like a race, you need to run all the laps to cross the finish line. Life is similar in that you must run the race in a way as to win. No shortcuts, no bypasses, no detours.

Paul tells us how he ran his race;

Acts 20:24; However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

1 Corinthians 9:24-26; Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.

2 Timothy 4:7-8; I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Paul also knows what it means to stray off course;

Galatians 5:7; You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?

Have you ever been cutoff?  Tried to follow the right way but ended up in a place that you shouldn’t be? We follow the crowd. I hear the excuse, everyone’s doing it. Do you remember your mom saying, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge would you follow them?” Yeah, probably. We tend to follow the crowd. We justify everything by what others do. We don’t want to stand out from the crowd. If we blend in and follow along, we will be alright. No, you must run in such a way as to win, not just get by. Following the crowd does not lead us to life.

Sometimes we think if we just stay where we are, we will be alright. Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right road you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Life is a road race, left turns, right turns and balance is important. We can’t just sit there; we’ll get run over. And don’t follow the crowd, they may be just as lost as you. So, how do we find the right direction?

John 14:5-6; Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Follow Jesus and he will lead you to life. He will lead you to the truth. He will guide us along the right path. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives us a way to identify those who are on the right road. It’s not the crowd. It is only those who follow Him.

Matthew 7:13-20; “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

Wide is the road and many are the people on it. We all know that it is a difficult choice to stand out from the crowd. Jesus lets us know that when we choose to stand out for the right reasons, we will produce a good byproduct. Jesus tells us to look at the results of a person’s life.

When we travel the road of life what do we leave behind? Do we produce good things? Are people better off for knowing us? We need to realize that the roadwork isn’t just for us, but it should also benefit those whose paths we cross. Our presence should make a difference, no matter if it is a passing touch or someone whose life we are a part of.

Are we called to make the journey for someone else’s benefit? When people’s lives are in turmoil do they search us out for guidance, direction, healing, grace and mercy? Look at how people responded to Jesus. People flocked to Him. They sought Him out because they knew that Jesus cared for them. They knew that through Jesus they could find the things that were missing in their lives.

When we are on the right road people will seek us out. They will come to us for guidance direction, grace and mercy. How good are we at giving directions? Turn around and look, is anyone following us? I would encourage us to look at the road we are on. Are we running a race that will win the prize? If we turn to Jesus, He will guide us to the right road.

Our trip south involved many encounters, some were hurting at the loss of a loved one, friend, coworker. Some were celebrating a victory. Some were caught up in disagreements over things that from the outside seem insignificant. Some were just happy to be there. Some indicated that there is an exciting future ahead, God has more journeys for us to take! We are happy to be there and put in the effort to meet you where you are and help you along the road.

Where will our next road take us, only God knows and I’m okay with that. We will continue to seek Him with all our heart, soul and strength. He will guide us along the right path for His glory. I encourage you to join Him and see what roadwork He has for you. Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support and donations helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.

TETHERED

By Rev Don Rivers and Rev Todd Heft

Last week as I was away in not so sunny Florida for Speedweeks, I took the opportunity to share with you a column that one of our Chaplains, Todd Heft, wrote. I hope you enjoy his thoughts, Thank you Todd for your words. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

During some downtime at a recent race, I noticed the wheel tethers on an asphalt modified. Now wheel tethers aren’t new in racing. Over the last twenty years, they’ve probably done a lot more than we will ever realize. They came to be a big part of American racing in the late 1990s and early 2000s after being adapted from Formula 1 following the death of Ayrton Senna. The design is relatively simple but crucial in making the tire and wheel remain part of the race car rather than a 200lb, 130mph projectile. If a tether breaks, the wheel becomes dangerous. Our own lives are similar in our connection with God. In His word, God has painted many similar pictures using a vine. The theme of a vine and being part of the vine runs throughout the Bible.

Jesus spoke to his disciples regarding the vine in John 15:1-8; ESV;

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

Looking at the context of this passage is important. The Gospel of John was first written in Greek, and the Greek word for prunes also means “cleans.” God cleanses us through the blood of Jesus and shapes us through Him to bring Him glory through our works. When Jesus was talking about the vine, the audience knew that in the spring, the caretaker would prune the vine. In the fall, he cut the branches that didn’t produce fruit. Pruning helps things grow, and growing produces fruit.

What happens to branches that get broken or cut off from the main vine? They die. They stop producing fruit and become useless. Much like when we disconnect from God, our lives don’t have the fulfillment that they should. There will be an emptiness inside us regardless of how much worldly “success” we may accomplish.

John 15 isn’t the only vine reference in the Bible. Psalm 80 has one, and it’s the psalmist pleading with God to restore the vine (that is Israel) to the splendor of its past.

Psalm 80:14 ESV; “Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine,”

A few verses later, there is a reference to the coming Christ.

Psalm 80:17-18 ESV; “But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name!”

Looking back at John 15:1, we see Jesus had referred to himself as the “true vine.” Both of these passages recognize that Christ is our connection, and the only way to God.

The Old Testament gives us some examples of what happens when we are disconnected. The prophet Isaiah gives a warning to Israel and its leaders that they are disconnected from God.

Isaiah 5:1-7 ESV; “Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!”

Later in chapter 27, Isaiah writes that God will leave a remnant of the vine a shoot that will produce good fruit, which will be “the full fruit of the removal of his sin” in verse 9. This fruit is the true vine: Jesus.

Other Old Testament prophets also used the vine as a symbol. When we look at the continuous repetition of this (or of any repeating theme in the Bible), we need to pay attention. The vine is mentioned in Jeremiah in both chapters 2 and 12. In Micah, in chapter 7. Ezekiel 17 and 19 show first the fruit when connected and then the fire when we are not. Even back in Genesis, Joseph is referred to as a fruitful vine.

Just a few weeks after first noticing tethers, I was at a race when a car impacted the wall, which broke the tethers, and separated the wheel from the car. Fortunately, the wheel coming off didn’t injure anyone, but the officials took a hard look at what caused it to fail. This information will be used to make things better.

We need to look at and examine the fruit we produce in our lives. Is it good? Are we doing things that bring honor to God? If not, we need to look back and see if we are still connected to the true vine. Like the officials, we have to see what went wrong and go back and fix the problem. The wonderful thing is we have a God full of mercy and wants us to return to Him. He wants to prune us and shape us into something that bears good fruit.

Thank you, Todd, for your inspiring words. What are we connected to? That will go a long way at indicating the fruit we bear. Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support and donations helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.