Category Archives: Racing With Jesus Ministries

Hotter then …

By Rev Don Rivers

Man has it been hot! Some might even think that Hell would be cooler. Let me assure you it won’t be. No matter what we endure here there is a place, a real place, worse than the hottest day on Earth. We must caution ourselves when we think we can withstand the torment and suffering of Hell, it isn’t a place to desire to be. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

How many times do we weigh the consequences of our decisions against what we think we can handle before we decide to do it anyway? We think we can handle it when, in fact, we shouldn’t even try. It happens more than you think. At a recent race I attended two incidents stood out in direct contrast to each other.

In one incident coming to the Checkered Flag a driver made a late move for the lead. The leader had a decision to make, block and possibly put us both in the fence or dig as hard as I can and hope to out run him to the line. The driver chose the latter, held his lane and did his best to beat him. In the end he lost the race but lived to race another day, the next day in fact. I spoke with the driver at the conclusion of the race and we discussed his thought process. He understood the consequences either way, made a decision and came home second.

On the next day in another race a driver made a decision that cost not only him but several others. He made a move for a pass hoping to intimidate the driver in front to lift and he would gain a spot. The driver that had the position held his ground and a spin resulted. The consequences however affected more than these two drivers. Because of the spin and the speed at which the cars are moving a chain reaction happened and cars further back in the field were collected up and their race was over. For one that I talked with their season might be over, the damage to their car was significant.

Two racing scenarios, two decisions, two sets of consequences. I am sure both drivers can rationalize why they chose to do what they did. Depending on your loyalties and your preferences you may have your own rationalizations. I can share with you living to race another day over winning at all cost is mine. It would seem that my preference isn’t in vogue currently. I can tell you this, the racing I was raised on and grew to love was different than most of what we see in stock car racing today.

So where am I going with this; we all have choices to make, each with their own set of consequences. Sometimes other people’s choices have consequences that affect us. We can be the victim of circumstances beyond our control. The golden rule used to be “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” but to watch some people’s behavior it may be more accurate to say “do unto others before they do unto you”.

We need to get back to a place where we consider others and how our decisions affect other people. That is how we will find a rich and satisfying life. Yes, we won’t get everything we want but I can tell you it is more satisfying to sacrifice our wants for the benefit of others. We were created in such a way as to be more fulfilled by serving than being served. That isn’t something that is easy to get our hands around until we actually do it.

This past Sunday morning I tuned into my friend Chris Fleming’s Facebook live broadcast “Live at 8:55”. Yes that Chris Fleming, Frank’s brother. Chris is an encouragement to me and many others. He read the account Christ gave in His word, Luke 16:19-31, about the rich man and Lazarus. I encourage you to read it and use it to help us understand the challenge we face from wanting our own way while discarding the consequences our choices have on others.

Let me summarize; There was a man who enjoyed life here on Earth and didn’t want for anything contrasted by a man that was afflicted with suffering. The rich man was aware of the suffering man because the Word tells us the suffering man was at the rich man’s gate. The rich man knew he was there but did nothing. When they died one went to heaven the other to hell. The rich man cried out from his torment in hell for help.

Luke 16:24, NLT; “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

Funny how even in hell the rich man wanted to be served. The rich man had many opportunities to serve or help Lazarus but was so focused on what he wanted he didn’t. When we live our lives so focused on what we want versus considering the needs of others we are in danger of judgement and the fires of Hell. Oh, and pleading with God after the fact won’t change things. We need to do what is right and honor God rather than do what we want and ask God to fix the consequences.

Luke 16:25-31, NLT; “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’

“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

“But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

“The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

We all have opportunities to make the right choice. Sometimes we are guilty of listening to the noise of the world as to what we should do, how we should live and think. The right way, the way that honors God will always result in satisfaction, fulfillment, and goodness. Choosing the popular, worldly choices leaves us hollow and empty, looking for something else to satisfy us. The rich man longed for a drop of water and there was none. How much more could he have had if he only considered the needs of someone else?

Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.

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MAINTENANCE

By Rev Don Rivers

We came back from vacation and our tomato plants have grown at least another foot. Unfortunately those pesky weeds grew also. The weeds needed to be removed so that the tomatoes could grow even larger and the plants would bear more fruit. We face the same thing in our lives, as we grow in Christ there are some things we need to remove before we can grow even closer to him and bear more fruit. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

One day I was talking to Billy the Kid about engine building, not because I wanted to build one, but I wanted some understanding about the process. Before I came to RWJM I worked in manufacturing, I made things work, so I have always been intrigued about engine building. Billy and I talked about a spec engine or “recipe” engine. If I understand it correctly there is a list of parts you can use and from those parts you build an engine.

To some it sounds easy but Billy explained that picking the right size parts to go together can make all the difference in the world. Some of the parts, although the same, don’t match up right and wouldn’t work well together. You have to keep the right ones and discard the ones that don’t. When you put the right ones together you produce more horsepower and isn’t that what it is all about.

Now that I think about it, the same process must be why some chocolate chip cookies taste better than others. The ingredients are pretty basic, but some cooks just know how to put the ingredients together in such a way as to make them irresistible. I must confess though, there aren’t too many chocolate chip cookies I don’t like, but I digress.

Our lives are a lot like tending a garden, building a motor or even making chocolate chip cookies, some things are desirable and some things don’t belong. Only the right combination of things produces the desired effect. We can only live a life that honors God when we remove the things that drain our resources and fertilize the things that grow us into the people we need to be. Jesus talked about it in John’s Gospel.

John 15:1-8; “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Gardening is a constant process of pruning, cutting out things that are not useful, so that the things that are useful can grow and flourish. It seems counterproductive but if you let something grow without some pruning it gets unruly and out of control. It really parallels our lives, if we live without someone pruning us and shaping the decisions we make, our lives would become chaotic and unproductive. We would destroy ourselves. No one can live a long and productive life without some pruning.

Keep in mind though, we cannot cut ourselves off from Christ, once something is cut from the main plant it loses its source of living power, withers and dies. We need to stay connected to the source of life, true life, Jesus Christ. He provides the life we need and apart from Him we can do nothing, nothing worth doing that is. All we become if we are not connected to God through Jesus is deadwood.

To lead productive lives that honor God a few things have to take place; first we need to be connected to the Father through Jesus. Jesus is the vine that brings to us the essential elements for life. We need to accept Christ and allow him to provide for us the very source of life. He will lead us to the Father.

Second, we must allow God to prune, mold and shape us into the person He created us to be. Let’s face it that is not a comfortable process, cutting things off, changing things, thinking differently, but it is a process that is necessary if we are going to live an abundant life. Some of the things we think and do are not beneficial to us, they just don’t belong. God will remove those and help us to grow in the right direction.

“A lady studied the art of bonkei: she learned how to place curiously shaped rocks and bonsai plants on a tray spread with sand to create a miniature landscape. But … the final secret eluded her: no matter what she did, her sand never held together in the perfect waves and ripples of the master’s precisely arranged grains. Finally, after many years …she was told the answer. She bowed at the feet of the master, and he spoke. ‘Use glue,’ he said”

Jesus is the glue that holds our life together, he keeps us connected to God. Without that connection we will wither and die. God is the master gardener that shapes our lives into the life He created us to live. God uses the Holy Spirit to communicate to us the things that have to removed, adjusted and encouraged for our lives to honor Him. Remember that passage from last week?

1Corinthians 10:23 “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.

We sometimes think we can handle it when, in fact, we shouldn’t even try. We need to turn our life over to God and let him prune and shape us into what He created us to be. We need to stay connected to Jesus, without that connection we will wither and die. We need to call on the name of Jesus and seek God while He can still be found.

Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.

SMH

By Rev. Don Rivers

I am known for reminding drivers, team members and people in general to honor God in the way we respond to the situations and consequences we are presented with. Maybe I say it too much and people tune me out. I say it because we all need reminding that when we respond in a way that is self-serving we dishonor God and those around us. I am left shaking my head. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The checkered flag dropped, the smoke cleared and a winner was determined but something was missing. You guessed it, the celebration was dampened because of the means used to gain victory. Don’t take my word for it. I didn’t come to that conclusion, the driver who won the race did.

Quoting from his statement to RacedayCT.com, “It’s hard to celebrate when you have to win it like that.”

I didn’t have the opportunity to talk with driver how so I am just going to leave the comment alone. It does however raise a bigger point. Is there a way we can win and not have to apologize for the way we did it? When we honor God in the way we handle ourselves.

I watched to laps unfold and listened to the comments at the conclusion. One stuck in my mind; “That’s one way to win a race.” The person who made the comment was absolutely right, that’s one way. There are many other ways to win also. The fact is when we take the high road it leaves a better taste in our mouths.

This is not a commentary on how the race was won but more a lesson about the ends don’t justify the means. Winning is good, done in a way that respects the other competitors it is worth celebrating. We talk about it so much it is in our tagline;

“Run the race in such a way as to win, through off everything that hinders and focus on Jesus.”

I know the reason we run the race is to win. I also know that it is difficult when victory is within reach to dial it back, you can reach out and taste it. We get blinders on and do whatever we think we need to do to secure victory. We all get caught up in the moment, do things that, when given time to reflect on, we may have chosen to do differently.

One of the observations that came to mind as I drove home from Riverhead was the idea of forgiveness vs permission. As I changed lanes to move around drivers I wondered out loud if they were even aware of their actions knowing full well they couldn’t hear me. They seemed to be driving on their own road with no one else in mind. They are just driving wherever they want, however they want and the world will just have to find a way around them. I am concerned that we are developing into a society of narcissists.

We have misconstrued what forgiveness is about. We have decided that we can pursue our own wants and desires without worry because when we are held accountable we can just ask for forgiveness. You know the saying, it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. That is not the point, the consequences from our actions do not go away. We may be forgiven but we will still be in jail for life if we murder someone. We get shortsighted and don’t realize the burden selfish behavior comes with.

A couple passages come to mind;

Matthew 16:26; And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

1Corinthians 10:23; You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

We can rationalize anything but in the end we have to come to grips with the fact that the consequences of our choices are burdensome. God has a way for us to live that frees us from the burdens created by selfish decisions. He invites us to come to Him his burden is light.

John 10:10; The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

I have seen the burden created by selfish choices become overwhelming. I have seen that weight crush people and lives. I remind so many about the opportunity we have to respond differently. Release that burden, seek out God and His restoration. He can and will come to each one who seeks Him out.

The road we are going down will rob us from the joy and celebration of our victories. We won’t realize it until it is over. Then it will be too late. We must seek Jesus while he can be found.

Isaiah 55:6-7; Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.

Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.

Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.