Tag Archives: Racing with Jesus Ministries

In the fire

By Chaplin Todd Heft

To say the last 18 months were difficult for some people would be an understatement. Many of us faced trials we haven’t had to deal with before. Isolation was a hardship in and of itself, but it also made some difficult times even more trying. Where is God in this? Where is He when we face the unimaginable? Where is He when our world is seemingly burning down around us? Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Understanding what God does and doesn’t do is something that is beyond our comprehension. We are not all-knowing. What we can do, though, is search His Word and trust that what he says is true. God doesn’t promise us that we won’t have hard times. He does tell us what we can do during those times. Look carefully at the words in Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:2 ESV

 The Word doesn’t say when you walk on water. Likewise, the Word doesn’t say when you walk around the water. The Word says, “when you pass through the waters.” The Word says, “when you walk through the fire.” We are going to face difficult times in our lives. I’ve heard it put this way: you’re in one of three places: coming out of a tough time, in a tough time, you’re about to go through a tough time.  

 When a driver straps in a race car, there has been much preparation ahead of time. The car was set up, practice laps were run, and countless hours were spent in the shop. But, unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go right. Were the proper safety devices put in the car and put in correctly? Does your fire suit fit properly? These things can make the difference between a tragic outcome and a seemingly miraculous one.    

 What about our trials in life? What do we lean on? Let’s look back at Isaiah 43:2. The word says, “I will be with you” and “you will not be burned.” God promises that as believers when we face trials, He will be right there with us.  

The prophet Daniel wrote about three servants that faced a trial with a life and death consequence. Obey God or obey man. They chose God and faced certain death.   

“Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.”

Daniel 3:19-28 ESV

God was with them in the fire. When they were in the fire, they were not consumed. The crucial part of what happened here was trust. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego put their complete trust in God. It was then that God delivered them. But they trusted that even if he didn’t, their outcome with God was better than one without Him.  

How deeply do we trust God? Do we trust that he is all good? Trusting God doesn’t happen in the middle of a bad situation. It happens when we grow deeper with Him and build a relationship with him. We start that by acknowledging Him and reading his Word. Just like the driver and crew that put effort into safety before they even left for the track, we need to spend time with God, building our relationship with Him, before the hard times come, so that we will trust Him. 

Value

By Rev Don Rivers

Each of us is valuable in God’s eyes. We all have the same value. Now we don’t all have the same usefulness to God but that is a subject for another day. Do we know our value to God? Racing with Jesus Ministries mission is to help those in the racing community know the value they have before God. We are here for the purpose of helping everyone know they are valuable to God. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

A few weeks back we said goodbye to Zach at New York International Raceway Park. A nine-year-old that had a love for racing. He had a challenging life, one filled with medical issues, but he loved being at the track. You could see the excitement and joy in his eyes. Today Zach is home in heaven with His Heavenly Father, fully healed and hurting no more. God reveals in His word the special place children hold in His heart.

Mark 11:13-16; NLT; One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

This same encounter is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. God indicates to us that even children have value in His eyes. So much so he says unless you receive the Kingdom of God like a child you will never enter it. Through the eyes of a child. Think of the excitement, the joy, the wonder and amazement we get when we see things through the eyes of a child. Think of the cynicism and negativity that children do not possess. Yes, there is always hope and wonder in the eyes of a child.

We are all children of God. We head out to the racetracks to try and help people find that wonder and amazement that God offers them. The intrinsic value he placed in each of us. We seek to walk alongside and guide the discovery of what our Father in Heaven has for each of us. Let’s take a little journey with some of our chaplains.

Todd Heft shares; “Often we, our family, plan camping around Racing with Jesus Ministries races.  It usually means a shorter drive to and from the track and less time away from the family.  Win-win!

When the schedule for 2021 was first forming in February and March I saw there was two events in Maine this past weekend. There was no question in my mind we should go up there.  After talking with Don Rivers, we made a plan on camping together. Even up until a week or two ago we both were planning on attending the Whelen Modified Tour event. Well, there was a pair of NEMA races without a chaplain so we decided to divide and conquer; Instead of being at one track I’d head up to Wiscasset and bring my oldest son with me. 

There was a slight detour.  On the horizon loomed a hurricane.  So instead of a few extra days away we rolled back home after the race arriving at 2am this morning.  It gave me a rare chance to attend church and truly worship and not serve as a techy.

None of it sounds especially remarkable until you see the details behind what God is doing.  Don was exactly where he needed to be last night at the track and I was exactly where I needed to be both yesterday and today. 

Detours aren’t fun, they’re many times the long way around.  They’re not convenient.  God doesn’t ask us to lead a life of convenience, he asks us to live a life of obedience.  When we do we see the amazing things He does and we see lives touched and transformed.  Our own lives begin to greater reflect Christ to the others around us. 

Back in the time when Jesus lived, Jews used to take the road around Samaria because they despised the Samaritans so much.  Jesus didn’t and when he met the women at the well, He transformed her life. Not only that but he transformed the entire town into believers.  He knew the detour was the right way for that time.

If God is calling you to do something, if you’re feeling a nudge, it’s probably the Holy Spirit prompting you to take action.  Take the detour from what you planned and follow God’s route.  It’s significantly more rewarding than the road you would have chosen.”

Our Chaplain at Stafford Motor Speedway Tim Garrison shares how he sees God’s presence at Stafford. “I am seeing God moving and working at Stafford in a couple of different ways. I am seeing people that previously would not spend much time talking with me, initiate conversations and ask for prayer before the race. I am seeing relationships build and develop with drivers and crew members where they share their prayer requests with me and engage in deeper and more meaningful life conversations.

Another exciting way that I am seeing God working is in the logistics of how I serve at the track. There seems to be more of an openness to what I do and a growing appreciation and acceptance to the message of what “the chaplain” is there to do.”

Scott Frazier, our Northern Chaplain, visits many different places throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Scotty shared this about his journey. This year has been an important year to get back to normal after a trying 2020.

“With my travels to many different tracks, I have made a lot of friends over the years. I have found a special connection with the Storace family at Star Speedway. Kelly and Jim are a very special couple that are very dedicated to racing for many years. 

I first met them years ago, as I became a Chaplain, they wanted to have me stop and pray with them at their trailer on race day. I always make sure I stop and catch up and chat with them.

 Within the past 2 years Kelly has been fighting brain cancer. We pray together during her fight over the racing season. Keeping God in their life to guide them.

I am happy to say she is now in remission. God has given her life back. I can see how much they love each other and knowing that we have that connection with them on a personal level with God has made our presence well worth it. Serving him well one team at a time.”

Todd Heft adds; “God is working in the NEMA series in a way I have not seen with any other division in my short time as a chaplain.  The officials, the drivers and the families are specifically seeking out our presence at the track.  God has put together connections and those connections are allowing the Gospel to be shared and heard by people who would otherwise not have heard. It has not only touched lives in the series but given me a tremendous amount of encouragement.”

God wants to be with His people, He wants them to know the value they have in His eyes. We go to deliver the message, to walk alongside, lifting each of you up. We are blessed to be a partner with God in ministering to 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.

Decisions

Growing pains is another word for conflict resolution. Conflict is a strong word but there are degrees of conflict. The reality is we live in an environment that cultivates conflict. When we have two people with differing opinions, we have conflict. Not all conflict should be avoided. How do we manage the decisions in our lives in the midst of conflict? Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Have you ever thought about who has the last say in the discussion about what a race team should do on the next pit stop? Who really decides what happens? The driver has input and tries to communicate the changes he would make. The crew chief has information and input to choose from. Sometimes those opinions are different. There is conflicting information. Someone has to make a choice that is different from what someone asked for.

Most times the crew chief makes the call; 4 tires, one round of wedge, 2 tires, air pressure adjustment. But it is really the over-the-wall crew that makes the final call. They do the physical adjustments to the racecar.

Think about it in the heat of the moment. Everyone is listening to the same information, who wants what. At some point the car pits and a decision is made, whether you like it or not. The adjustments are communicated and the work carried out. Now let’s throw a monkey wrench in there, confusion.

In all the radio chatter is there a clear voice of decision? Sometimes the answer is no. The over-the-wall gang isn’t sure what they are doing. They make every effort to carry out their job but a wrench gets left in, lug nuts don’t get tightened, equipment get dragged out of the pit stall; it happens.

On a more humorous note, the greatest pit call of all time is etched in our memories; “you can’t pit now, we’re eating ice cream.”

This is just a snap shot of life. Super compressed into a 15 second window. The crews that get it right do well. The crews that don’t, struggle. How does this transfer into our lives?

We all need to make decisions each day to live. Some decisions are critical, life and death. Some decisions are less critical. Decisions need to be made, life needs to be lived and conflict is an ever-present condition we have to deal with.

Let’s unpack that a little, have you ever heard two, or more, people decide where to go for dinner? Conflict. The first way to overcome this and end the discussion is to agree to pay. Most of us are willing to go along if someone else is paying, no matter how much we like the place chosen. The next best way is to allow the pickiest person to choose, the more flexible folks will go along. Then there is the grandaddy of all that trumps everyone, let mom choose. If momma is happy, everyone is happy.

To live we must decide, to decide we must determine the right direction, to determine the right direction we must listen to opposing viewpoints, to listen we must possess a spirit that is not quick to anger. Having the Holy Spirit alongside helps us achieve this.

James 1:19-20; NLT; Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

Human anger does not reflect the character of God or produce what is right in God’s eyes.

That there is the first step in Biblical conflict resolution. Not an easy accomplishment, but a necessary lesson to be learned and practiced. We all want our opinion heard and acknowledged, we find value in that. But that is not where our value should come from. Our value will increase in the eyes of others when we follow this guidance from Scripture.

As we move along take a look at this passage form Acts, the church was growing and we all know that causes growing pains. Everyone has an opinion of what is important, we all have things that are important to us. So how do we move forward?

Acts 6:1; NLT; But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.

“Rumblings of discontent”; why can’t we all just get along? That takes work and practice. Let’s take a look at how the Apostles handled this. First, they determined their priorities. As leaders they were responsible for leading everyone and allowing their focus to be shifted from that would irresponsible. They also knew it was important that everyone received food.

Acts 6:2-3; NLT; So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. 3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility.

They gave the responsibility to the people to select men to oversee the distribution of food with three criteria; Well-respected, Full of the Spirit, and Wise. The key to the process is that in order to identify these men they needed to ask God. God would reveal who He called for the task. We know this because when the names were selected everyone was in agreement and received the solution. That only happens when we follow the direction of God through the Holy Spirit. Notice the criteria of those making the selection; “All Believers”. That means those who have received the Holy Spirit.

There are differences of opinions. We see things differently. We disagree. Good people can disagree without dividing. The apostles’ response in this matter was to call the Christians together and suggest a solution.

It is significant that the apostles were not prepared simply to ignore the problem; they understood that spiritual and material concerns are so intimately related in Christian experience, one always affects the other for better or worse.

They didn’t ignore the problem, they also didn’t try to assign blame or act in any paternalistic fashion, a parent telling children what to do. Rather, their suggestion was that seven men “full of the Spirit and wisdom” be chosen from among the congregation who could take responsibility in the affair. When we come together in the Spirit of God to resolve something God moves through His people and provides a resolution.

Acts 6:7a: NLT; So God’s message continued to spread.

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.