Tag Archives: Racing with Jesus Ministries

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.

Together

By Rev Don Rivers

Freedom is a funny thing, each one of us wants it but we are not sure what it is. We want to be able to do anything we want whenever we want, but we still need something to hold our lives together. What is holding your life together? We need to be together in this? Greetings in the name of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

Having the freedom to race wherever and whenever we want is the great ideal. The fact of the matter is we need a little help. If we run down the list it starts with a car, we first have to have a car to race and unless you have your own machine and body shop, someone has to make the parts and someone has to build the car.

Many times the driver gets the credit for winning when in fact it probably has a lot to do with the equipment he has to drive. A friend that worked at DEI made an observation after Jr. moved to Hendrick Motorsports, “At least at DEI we could build a car Jr. could win with.” That thought stuck in my head and this past week I was reminded of it.

Ronnie Williams had a career week this past week in an Asphalt Modified, he won $20,000.00 of prize money by winning three races over six days. Three different tracks, two different cars and three different sanctioning bodies. He did it for two different car owners; Gary Cassella and Adam Skowyra & Family. Many times all you read about is the driver and what they accomplished. As Gary reminded me at Seekonk, the driver needs a good car, I guess I build a pretty good car.

I thought about that as I ran through my memory banks. Ryan Preece came to mind. His decision to step out of Mid-pack Xfinity equipment and focus his resources on a five race deal with equipment that had the potential to win made a difference in his career. Some questioned the move but when he posted wins and top five finishes people took notice and doors opened.

If we are looking to be successful in this racing endeavor we need a car capable of running the race and winning. I am sure there are many talented drivers who for one reason or another just haven’t had the right equipment to show what they are capable of. The conclusion is we are in this together. Yes, talent and ability matter in a driver but without a car that is capable of winning the opportunity to visit Victory Lane may never come.

Another component of this togetherness is we need a place to race. We know they won’t let us do it on the street. I know some of us have tried along with everyone else who built a racecar, but the fact is they are not going to let thirty or forty of us go out and race around the block for 100 laps on Saturday night. What does it take for someone to provide a place for us to race? It takes more than we consider sometimes; facility, personnel, insurance, permits, and trained safety workers among so many other intangibles. Providing a venue for a race is no easy task. Sometimes we take it for granted and don’t realize the efforts that nobody sees. This past weekend I helped on the changeover crew at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. So much goes into converting the road course into an oval configuration. It is hard enough to provide one type of racing circuit, but Thompson provides two and switches them back and forth. Many facilities are multi-functional to provide different options for us to race at. We should appreciate a place for racers to race!

We also need rules, who is going to decide what is good and what it bad. In comes the Sanctioning body, someone who assumes responsibility for making the rules, making sure the cars conform and are safe, enforcing the rules, and that the race is run fairly. They are not necessarily appreciated but without them organized racing couldn’t exist.

One case and point happened at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at The Short Track Showdown recently run there. During the Modified Racing Series Feature a driver was in a serious accident. Thankfully his car was safety inspected, his driving equipment was safety inspected confirming that the car and driver were safe to race. I believe his injuries would have been much more serious if his equipment was not up to par.

I am sure I overlooked some things, but as you can see none of us are truly free to race where and when we want. Our ability to race is dependent on someone else providing the opportunity. There needs to be some give and take to continue to make the opportunity to race available for the future. Sometimes we lose sight of what it takes to be able to race. We need to see the big picture and learn how to make it all work. Everything depends on all things being in place. We are in this together.

This also has something to do with life, we are not independent; we are interdependent. Just like we need all the necessary elements to come together to race we need the same things to come together for us to truly live. Christ is like a sanctioning body and covered the risk of living for us. He provided the way for us to have a relationship with God. Listen to what he says in John 14:1-6;

John 14:1-6, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

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.

Jesus is the way we get to God. He provides that for us. Without His provision we would not have any hope. We have the freedom to choose His provision. When we do, we receive a special gift, the forgiveness of our sins. He erases the penalty for us making the wrong choice. He covers it.

Jesus said in John 10:10 that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come so that you might have life and have it abundantly.

What that tells us is that if we choose to live our own way and not accept the provision that Christ made for us then we are bound by the one who steals, kills and destroys. The choice is ours.

The forgiveness that Christ offers comes without a performance requirement, it is available to anyone, no matter what they have done. We soon learn though that when we accept Christ’s offer our perspective changes. We find ourselves seeking out different things. We start to see the true meaning of life and how to live it. That is because Christ provides us with additional help in learning to live, The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us to see things correctly. Listen to what Paul said about this Freedom;

1Corinthians 10:23-24, 31-33, “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God– even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Paul helps us to understand that we are free to do anything, but not everything is beneficial to our lives. We need to be motivated to help others before we help ourselves. Basically we are free to do for others and God will take care of us. Our lives are full when we serve others without regard for what is in it for us.

That concept is strange to us, most times we spend our life trying to look out for number one, but we are in this together. We will not be truly free until we change that perspective. We will not experience the freedom that Christ offers until we trust in Him and let the Holy Spirit guide our actions. When that happens we are free, free from paying the price for our mistakes. As Jesus said in John’s Gospel, trust in God, trust also in me.

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.