Tag Archives: Racing with Jesus Ministries

Order

By Rev Don Rivers

The world around us is out of order, to say the least. There was a brief moment in the middle of all this that we developed a kinder, gentler attitude. That seems to have evaporated just as quick as the supply chain dried up. How do we maintain some kind of order in the chaos? Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I don’t think it is a new phenomenon, but looking for an advantage seems to be magnified in the void of shortages. We see a world who is focused on being first, getting mine first, to the point of rudeness. Why is it that we think we deserve to be first, or in some way treated differently than others? Our passage today reminds us that the rules written long ago still apply.

At the track every team is looking for the things that will make their car go the fastest. They are searching for that one thing that gives them an advantage over the rest. That in itself isn’t wrong, it is when that desire leads us across the line into the questionable area, the gray area of the rules. Some have even been known to actually break the rules to gain an advantage.

Maybe you saw the video clip from Daytona. One of the reasons the Next Gen car was introduced was to eliminate “crabbing”. That is when the body and the chassis are not mounted square to each other. First test for the first race and there it is, a car with the nose pointed one way and the wheels tracking in another direction. Now I’m sure they’re in the letter of the law, but not the spirit. That may be the reason the rulebook gets thicker.

We have heard the saying; “we get paid to cheat and they get paid to catch us.” We rationalize our creative interpretation of the rules as something necessary to get that competitive advantage that allows us to win. What is a win really worth if it is won by cheating?

Some think winning at all cost is the right motto to live by. Somehow we think integrity is for losers. Why is it that we think we don’t have to answer to anyone? Jesus introduced his discussion on the Ten Commandments with this passage. As we continue our Winter Bible Study we will take a look at how this short passage has a big impact.

Matthew 5:17-20; “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Those commandments were written so long ago that we think they surely are outdated. Jesus makes it pretty clear that the law still applies. We tend to think that the rules and the law are for someone else. We are not that bad and surely God will understand. We look for a way to do what we want to do without the consequences.

Jesus used this passage as an introduction to his discussion about how the Ten Commandments should be interpreted. Jesus took the time to let us know how we were in error in our interpretation. Have you ever thought you had the right interpretation of the rules only to have the correct interpretation pointed out to you?

Rules govern the way we live. They give order in our lives. They provide a framework for us to live a rich and satisfying life. We, however, think they can be bent or broken if by doing so we gain something. It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, right? Take a look at this passage and see if that is the case.

Jesus didn’t come to remove our responsibility to follow God’s law. He came to complete the law, to show us how to live according to the law. He came to help us understand what the law means and how to apply it to our lives. Now we need to be careful here. Jesus isn’t talking about Jewish law. The laws the Jews derived from the Ten Commandments. He also isn’t talking about the laws created by other governments. He is specifically talking about the law that God gave to Moses.

Also, this doesn’t mean to say we can ignore or break the laws in place in society under the government. They tried to trap Jesus on this point.

Mark 12:13-17; NLT; Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?”

Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.” When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

“Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

His reply completely amazed them.

You see much like today man twists and turns the law, makes laws, trying to gain advantage and control. Their desire is only for power over others. They were leading the people in the wrong direction. Jesus makes reference to this when he says we need to live better lives, than those leaders do, if we want to enter the kingdom of God. You see they only pretended to follow God’s law. They had an interpretation that benefited their needs. Their interpretation was not correct. Jesus set the record straight.

We need to understand what the law says and what it means. Jesus took the time to explain it and in the next few weeks we will explore how we need to live and conduct our lives. I encourage you to join us and learn what it means to order our lives according to God’s Law.

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.

SALT

By Rev Don Rivers

This time of year gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past, rest in the present and look forward to the future. As we dwell in this place it is customary to look a little closer at a passage of Scripture and spend some time getting closer to God. This year I thought we might take a look at Jesus’ first public preaching, The Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew’s Gospel chapters 5-7. Join with me over the next few weeks as we look at some excerpts from this passage. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

When we begin any relationship there is that period of getting to know each other. Last week I encouraged us to start 2022 with a renewed commitment to follow Christ. This may be the first time you made this effort or the hundredth time, no matter, Jesus is in the forgiving and restoration business and he wipes the slate clean. The Sermon on the Mount is the first time Jesus taught in His public ministry. It contains some of the most significant lessons we can learn as Christians.

It seems the world we live in has cranked up the pressure. No matter what we are involved in we seem to be under more pressure to have all the answers, move at warp speed and be perfect. Racing is no different. We are all trying to get the right setup, go faster and run the perfect lap. I don’t think being on the wheel 24/7 is what God had planned for us. When we get so focused on what we are doing we forget what is going on around us. When we are under the pressure of performance some things rise to the surface that don’t reflect well on us.

How do we perform under the microscope? Will people see our true character? When they do, will they see the love of Jesus? All good questions that many times we don’t find the answer to until the pressure is increased.

In racing we find ourselves in pressure packed situations. We need to perform better to retain a sponsor or ride. We need a good finish to secure our point standings. We forget about everything and focus on our racing and performance. Crunch Time!

When we put that pressure on ourselves, we sometimes do not represent God well. We lose sight of what we have been called to become in Christ and we revert back to being self-focused and self-serving. We forget to look around and see what others are going through. That is not a good way to live. Sure, we all know the type, out for number one, but is that the person you reach out to when you need some encouragement or support?

Being aware of our environment and surroundings would serve us better. We should be observant, looking around for the opportunities that God has for us. When we turn our focus internally, we do not see or hear the voice of God very well.

Let’s dig into the passage; Jesus encourages us to remember who we are called to be.

Matthew 5:13-16;NLT; “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Jesus uses two analogies, salt and light. Let’s take a look at salt first.

We all use salt.  We use it for different things such as to season food, preserve food or melting ice. When we use it as a seasoning, we do so to enhance the flavor. Take a look around and see if we are enhancing those around us. Are we making things worse or better?

We use it to preserve things, make them last longer. Are we in the preserving business or the tearing down business? Sometimes we don’t realize how destructive our expectations of others can be. We need to take a step back and see how we can build up, not tear down.

We also use salt to change things. When we put salt on ice it melts and makes it easier to get around. Used in this way salt helps us overcome some of the obstacles we face. Are we helping others overcome obstacles?

Salt, much like us, also can be used in a negative way. Salt is corrosive, when used in the wrong way we can tear things apart. Too much salt in our diet leads to medical conditions that shorten our lives. What we have to be aware of is balance, just enough but not too much.

We are encouraged by Jesus to use the love of Christ that is in our hearts to improve the situation. We are encouraged not to lose our effectiveness. Jesus cautions that if we lose our focus then our “salt” is no longer effective we become useless.

Let me stop here and explain. We have the opportunity each moment we live to affect those around us, either for good or bad. We need to be aware of that and decide how we will use our influence. When we choose to be destructive our ability to claim the love of Christ and help others is gone. Our witness is no longer respected.

There is also a condition that we need to watch for. When we find ourselves under pressure, we need to be aware of how we are demonstrating our faith. We need to remember who is in control. We need to avoid losing our saltiness, our credibility, our witness.

Think of it this way. We can be an egg, a carrot or coffee beans. Let me explain, when we place each one of these in the heat of the moment, boiling water, they react differently. An egg becomes hard-boiled. Its insides change from liquid to solid. Our heart gets hard. Carrots on the other hand get soft and mushy. They start off rigid and strong but end up all mushy, no backbone, no firm foundation to stand on. Now coffee beans on the other hand do not change, they remain the same. They do however change the water. The water becomes aromatic and tasty. The water becomes desirable. The coffee beans do not change but they change the water. Which one are we? When the situation around us gets heated, do we harden our heart, lose our firmness and foundation or do we change and improve the environment around us? Don’t lose your saltiness.

Jesus then goes on to describe us as “the light of the world”. Have you ever thought of yourself as a light that shines for all to see? Jesus put in each one of us a light that will dispel the darkness. Don’t hide your light, let it shine.

Think about when the electricity goes out and there are no lights. Immediately our attitude changes. For a moment we experience a wide range of emotions, none of them good. Our mind is flooded with thoughts, mostly negative. Then we remember the candles. We light a candle; a little flame and we are amazed at how much light it provides. Hope returns with light.

We are the same kind of light. We, as Christians, have the same opportunity to light the darkness others are experiencing. When all hope is gone the light of one who knows Jesus can bring hope to the world.

Have we ever stumbled around in the dark? Even in our own home, we think we know where things are, but we still stub our toe and stumble. When we hide our light, we cause others to stumble around in the darkness. When we keep the love of God to ourselves and do not share it, we leave others to find their own way in the darkness. Let your light shine! Put it on a lampstand and help others find their way.

The first two illustrations that Jesus taught, salt and light, encourage us to influence the environment around us by giving hope. We all bring hope to a situation, some by coming and others by leaving. Christ encourages us to be the hope for those around us, enhance the flavor of life, light the way in the darkness.

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.

Happy New Year!

A familiar refrain we hear this time of the year, but can we assure the year to come will be happy? Happiness has been elusive throughout the last few years.  How can we assure that no matter what the circumstances the New Year brings we will be happy? Maybe happiness isn’t what we are searching for. Maybe the answer is more than a result of the events that happen around us. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Our perception of a situation is different from someone else’s. Most times we don’t see or don’t understand all the effects of our actions. We can look at the events we are currently dealing with and see that every day something unforeseen happens and the direction forward takes on new twists and turns. My hope is that in 2022 we would finally get a handle on this and have a good plan to move forward with.

It is like an on-track incident. When we listen to the interviews, we hear the different views of what took place. Each driver has their take on what took place. Each one saw things from a different perspective. If we follow along, we sometimes can determine the one event that triggered the incident. It starts something like this; “I thought I could” or “I had the position but”. We think we can predict the results of our choices but many times the results are not what we would expect.

Did you ever wonder why we need officials at races? They are the ones whose perception counts. They are the ones who decide what really happened. They are responsible to make an accurate and just decision. I wonder though, who has the final say in decisions we make in our life? Whose opinion do we listen to?

What does this have to do with being happy? Not much really, because happiness is conditional, what we should desire is contentment regardless of circumstances. Then we will have the peace and joy that comes from God. When we chase happiness we are chasing after the wind.

Think of it this way, when we understand that the results of our decisions affect more than just us our perspective changes. When we realize that things don’t revolve around us, we begin to understand that the decisions we make should take others into consideration. When we consider the condition of others we start to see things through God’s eyes. Lasting satisfaction and fulfillment are a direct result of how we affect the lives of others.

We think however that our happiness is a direct result of the things we do and have. We live much of our lives focused on what affects us. That doesn’t lead to happiness, it leads to frustration, envy, jealousy and discontent. You see the minute we attain something there is always something more to get. We never get there.

Philippians 2:1-5: If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Paul reminds us that our attitude should be the same as Christ’s. Think of Jesus, He came and sacrificed His life, not for what He received, but for what we received. I believe it pleased Him to give His life up for anyone who would believe in Him. His heart was at peace and He was filled with joy. Paul outlines it for us;

Philippians 2:6-8: (Jesus), being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

This seems contrary to our definition of happiness. How can you be suffering so and yet be “happy”?

Happiness for a Christian is defined differently than it is for others. Happiness is less a state of circumstances and more a condition of the heart. When our heart is in tune with God’s will we are filled with a peace that passes understanding and a joy that isn’t easily understood. The love of God in our lives demonstrated to others in the choices we make produces true satisfaction and fulfillment in our lives, it is said we are happy.

Paul helps us redefine our focus in life. We find the peace of God when we concentrate on the things that please God. Paul explained that being in God’s will was more important than having all the trappings the world has to offer.

Philippians 4:8-13: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

We are programmed in life to think happiness comes from what we have. That is not true. Did you ever know someone who had everything they ever wanted? That is not possible because there is always something else we want. It seems we are never satisfied. We never have everything we want.

We think that we can satisfy ourselves by attaining things. We think happiness comes from having those things. The fact is that no matter what we have there is always something missing. Something only God can provide. No matter what we attain in life we are not satisfied until we ask Jesus into our heart. He is the only one who can fill the void that we try to fill with everything else. We can only receive that peace that passes understanding from God through Jesus.

So, when I say Happy New Year I mean, I hope you find the true meaning of life. I hope you realize where true satisfaction and fulfillment come from. I hope you find the saving grace of Jesus. God promises peace to those who trust in Him. Are we at peace? God fills our hearts with joy when we pursue His will. Happiness is a result of living the life that God has planned for us.

Make a New Year’s resolution that will change your life, resolve this year to submit to God’s will for your life. Let God have control and make every effort to let Him guide your thoughts and actions. 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.