RACE DAY!!

Posted: May 25, 2015 in fizzy faith
Tags: , , ,

As I write this, race week in Charlotte has ended.
My amazing bride and I spent many hours at the race track.
It was a special kind of high octane awesome!
There really isn’t anything like a NASCAR race.
It is sport and spectacle.
It is a multi sensory experience.
It is people watching at it’s grandest scale.

I’m a huge NASCAR fan!

I haven’t always been, I used to think it was just some dude driving around in circles…ANOTHER left turn!

but then we moved to Charlotte and something happened.

I drove by the speedway.
I went to some race shops.
I talked to some really cool people who are in NASCAR.

I started to realize what a great big, really fun deal that it really is.

Then in a moment of oil stained destiny, I went to my first race.
It changed my life! Suddenly I was a believer!
the engines roared to life and they made my soul tickle.
There is nothing like it.
It isn’t just what is happening on the track.
It’s the smell of the car fumes, coors and corn dogs.
It’s the mullets and the muscle shirts.
It’s cheering on the drivers that you love and booing the drivers that You hate. (You GOT to have a favorite driver or things aren’t nearly as interesting!)
It’s the overpriced funnel cakes and watered down lemonade.
It’s the American flag reimagined as every POSSIBLE item of clothing.
It’s super short jean shorts on women AND men.
It’s fat sweaty guys who suddenly feel the need to go shirtless.
it all combines to become a beautiful big slice of MURICA!
It’s a big ole redneck wonderland and I love it!!

With all of the redneck trappings, you could easily lose sight of something…

NASCAR is as much science as sport.

NASCAR is not hardly as simple as it might seem.

I’ve got some really cool friends who work in every aspect of NASCAR, as they have shared their stories I’ve listened.

As I’ve learned about the science of stock car, I realized that faith is a lot like a race.

There was a guy in the Bible who wrote a big chunk of the New Testament who thought the same thing!

His name was Paul.
I’m pretty sure, if he were running around today, he would be a serious race fan.
He wrote a lot about racing.
I think Paul was a redneck.
He might have even owned a muscle shirt.
He probably had some jean shorts and a truckers cap.
He talked a lot about races and he compared them to the life of faith.

At the end of his life, our redneck buddy, Paul wrote:
2 Timothy 4:7: “I have stayed on course and finished the race, and through it all, I have kept believing.”

Paul is gonna be our spiritual crew chief the next few minutes.
We are going to look at some stuff that he wrote, and let him give us a little pep talk about how to run our race.

First, get in the race.
You have to run your own race. You can’t depend on a parent, grandparent or spiritual adviser to run for you.
Our redneck buddy Paul: “We all know that when there’s a race, all the runners bolt for the finish line, but only one will take the prize. When you run, run for the prize!” (1 Cor. 9:24)
Get behind the wheel, don’t be a spectator, that’s boring!
You are meant to run your own race!
I’ve stolen a glance into a lot of race cars, none of them had kid car seats in the back.
There are no ride alongs in the race of faith.
You run your own race or you don’t run at all.
You start the engine by simply choosing to follow Jesus.
Then hit the gas and chase him!
A pace car sets the speed and direction.
Jesus is our pace car.
Keep your eyes on where He is going and follow him.

Next NASCAR lesson: It takes a team to run for an owner.
During the race, one person usually gets all the attention, the driver.
But, racing is not about one driver. There is a huge team, most of whom are never seen.
Some are at the track, some at the garage. They all contribute.
There is a team owner, who has paid the price and made arrangements so the team can run.
Then, there are crew chiefs and car chiefs, gas men and tire changers.
(I’ve always been a bit of a gas man.)
I have a friend who builds brakes, you probably won’t see him on TV, but the cars aren’t going anywhere without his brakes. His job is as important as the drivers.
It’s a TRUE team sport.
Everyone has a role to play.
God is our team owner. He made it possible for us to get in the car. He paid the price.
We are part of a team, the church. It’s not a perfect team, but it is God’s perfect plan.
There are no lone wolves.
Everyone has a role to play.
Discover your role.

During the race, there is a real important guy who usually sits on top of the grandstands so he can see the entire speedway.
He is the spotter.
He can see things that the driver can’t.
He sees what is around turn four.
He is in constant communication with the driver. He tells him what is going on, what to expect, and how to handle situations.
The driver has to choose to listen and do what the spotter is telling him.
Sometimes, it’s something that he has to instantly respond to, like a wreck.
It requires the ability to listen, trust and respond.
In the race of faith, we have a spotter…the Holy Spirit.
He knows what is around the bend, He sees things we don’t.
He is in constant communication with us…it’s usually a still small voice.
Listen to your spotter, Trust, respond.
He knows what is going on around you, what is around the next turn.
Stay in constant communication!

Don’t break the rules.
Our redneck buddy Paul: “if someone competes as an athlete, he won’t win the race if he breaks the rules.” (2 Tim. 2:5)
NASCAR has rules about everything from the size of engine parts to the height of bumpers to when the crew members can jump over the wall. If you break the rules, you can get penalized or forfeit, If you break the rules you will get disqualified!
The good thing is that Jesus makes HIS rules pretty clear and simple: love God, love your neighbor as yourself.
Don’t forfeit!!

The driver wears a super colorful fire suit.
This gives them a chance for some serious product placement.
It also can save their life…that’s a big deal.
It protects them from fire.
It probably isn’t always comfortable. But it can save their life.
What they clothe themselves with makes all the difference.
I’ve never seen a driver choose to wear pajamas instead of a fire suit.
Well, guess what? Jesus is your fire suit.
Our redneck buddy Paul: “clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” (Romans 13:14)
If you put on the righteousness of Christ, He protects you from getting burned…that’s a big deal.
It’s not about your ability to get it right that keeps you safe. It’s not about how good YOU are. It’s about putting on the RIGHTness of Jesus. THAT is what protects You!

Drivers have to pay attention to the instruments on their dashboard.
They tell them when things are getting overheated or about to blowup.
Life can get overheated sometimes.
We can blow up.
It helps if we are paying attention to our spiritual dashboard.
The fruit of the Spirit is our instrument panel.
The fruit needs to be our Filter.
Our redneck buddy Paul: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23)
There is no law against these things, there is no penalty when you check yourself with the fruit of the spirit.
When you use them as a dashboard for how you act, speak, treat others.
Ask yourself, “Am I operating out of love, joy and peace? Am I patient and kind? Am I good, faithful and gentle? Am I practicing self control?”
You can’t overheat if you are living the fruit of the spirit.

Don’t get wrecked.
Your opponent is a cheater.
He is trying to take you down.
He races dirty.
He hates the owner and he knows he can hurt the owner by taking out drivers.
Don’t let him wreck you!
Our redneck buddy Paul: “you were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place.”
The best racers turn opposition into fuel. They don’t let the haters get into their head.
Don’t get wrecked. Don’t listen to the lies. Don’t fall for the tricks.

Don’t quit. There are drivers who have made a career out of being “start and park” drivers.
they start with no intention to finish and no desire to win.
They just show up. They do the bare minimum to get paid, but they don’t want to take any risks.
Don’t be that guy!
Sometimes, it would be tempting to pull over and park. Don’t do it. Run like your life depends on it, because it does!
Our redneck buddy Paul: “May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist.” (Galatians 6:9)

One last lap…
One of the coolest things to get when you go to a race is a hot pass.
It gives you access to the pits and the garage and everything.
You get up close to the crew and drivers, it’s pretty cool.
We had one this week and it was like a golden ticket. We would walk up to place where others couldn’t go and we got instant access.
We only got a hot pass because of who we knew.
We have an awesome friend who hooked us up.
Otherwise, we would have been standing outside of the gate, unable to get in.
Here’s one really cool thing about getting up close and personal with God. Jesus is our hot pass!
Our redneck buddy Paul: Eph. 2:18: “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”
Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have instant access to the owner.

WOW! Days of thunder become days of wonder.

If our redneck buddy Paul were here, I think he would straighten his #18 trucker cap, look you in the eye, grin and say “STEP ON IT SON…or…um…DAUGHTER!!”

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