Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

RACE DAY!!

Posted: May 25, 2015 in fizzy faith
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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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God knows my curves…

Embarrassing confession: a while back, in an effort to look a bit more buff, I tried on a man spanx shirt.
Yup, It’s like a guy girdle…and I wore one for at least 27 minutes.
It took me almost half that time to put in on.
I was trying to force myself into something that wasn’t made for me.
My wife, Diana, had to help.
We had to use some W-D 40.
When finally put in on, I looked in the mirror, expecting to see my new svelte self…
It didn’t make me look like a stud, instead I looked like a sausage.
I was trying to tame my curves and fight the flab. It didn’t take away my curves it just kind of restructured them, moved them around a little.
It was all about conformity and it hurt.
It was like some weird fabric torture device. It make it hard to move and I really didn’t have room to breath. It was constricting. I couldn’t lower my arms.
I thought I was going to need the jaws of life to get it off, but I finally wrestled myself free.
It was like opening the flood gates (or flab gates).
WHEW!! I could breathe, I could move!
I felt lighter and free from my fabric yoke.

Sometimes we think if we really follow God it will be like spiritual spanx.
Tight…constricting…conforming.
But, I just stumbled across this breath giving promise from Jesus…

“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus makes a crazy invitation to the burnt and bruised.
Tired?
Feeling over-burdened?
Come here and Take my burden.
Take my yoke…then…the YOKES ON YOU!! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist)
Come…it’s not about conformity or chore, it’s about communion.
When Jesus painted this picture, Yokes were used to attach oxen together.
Jesus lovingly invites us to get attached to him.
Let’s do life, let’s walk together…
He knows our curves, the sudden twists and turns that life throws at us
and He has perfectly fitted us with what we need.
When we are attached to Him, finally our weary souls find rest as He carries us down the curvy road together.
His yoke is the only thing that really gives us room to breath.
God knows my curves and I’m glad.

We all have that crazy claim to fame. Our brush with semi-greatness that we like to bring up in conversation. You know what I’m talking about…”I was in an elevator with William Shatner” or “My kid plays soccer with Dale Earnhardt’s grandson” or “I know a guy who knows a guy who once detailed Kelly Clarkson’s car.” We like to name drop! It lets people know that we must be a big deal because we have brushed shoulders with the sometimes rich and marginally infamous.

I must confess, I’ve been guilty of this . I have a few fairly strange brushes with big that i wear like feathers on my hat. Stand back while I drop a few names…
It all goes back to that one time when my grandpa introduced me to Johnny Lee Wills at his rodeo ( he was the kid brother of Bob Wills and a big deal in Tulsa in the seventies) I was smitten with the claim to fame game.
Since then…
I’ve met Chuck Norris (he called my daughter sweetheart, which gave her eternal street cred).
I talked on the phone with Don Henley while he was at a wiggles concert.
I ran a go cart ride for Clay Aiken.
My wife and I babysat for Lisa Whelchel’s kids once.
I stood on a miniature golf course with a 6 ft. 9 in. tall Basketball player, Tyler Hansbrough. I’m 5 ft. 1 in tall, so it was already a strange sight, but, together, we watched a snake eat a frog…seriously, it was magical.
And, in a photo op gone horribly awkward with another very tall man, I once touched Mitch Kupchak’s butt.
And those are only a few.
These are fun to talk about.
When someone mentions their celebrity brush we usually ask them the same question: “were they a GOOD person?” Like, somehow our seven second encounter qualifies us to judge their character.
We like our encounters with greatness.
We get nervous, we get butterflies about the possibility of watching Beyoncé walk by on a red carpet.
But what if we got a brush with TRUE greatness? I’m not talking about Kanye.
I was thinking about this and it dawned on me that every second of every day I have a chance to, not only encounter greatness, but live there!
I have access to the Maker and Maintainer of all things.
I get to live in relationship with God!
He is the biggest deal of all and I have His attention.
I get the constant opportunity to have a brush with His greatness AND glory.
A daily dose of divinity.
I’m pretty sure I could never get a meeting with the president. The governor won’t take my calls. Even the mayor is too busy to hang out. BUT, the King of the Universe is constantly and completely available to me.
The Creator is both infinite and intimate!
It’s not a one time random encounter either.
I don’t just rub shoulders with God, He promises to take up residence with me and in me!
The Holy Spirit lives in me.
That is a very big deal.
I get to share space with the Creator of space!
And yes, I’ve met him and found Him to be very GOOD.
AND, when it comes to name dropping the only name that has any eternal muscle is Jesus.

BIG buts

There are a lot of BUTs in the bible.

It seems that God likes BIG BUTs and He cannot lie.

BUT is a word that changes everything.

Some words are wimpy…words like blah or lame.

Some words just sound gross…words like moist or mucus.

But, BUT (see what I did there?) is a strong word.

It changes everything.

We were going one direction BUT we turned around.

Jesus said the word BUT a lot.

He used it to change things.

Over and over He used the word to change the rules…

“You have heard it said…WAAAH…WAAAH…WAAAH.

BUT, I tell you…BOOM!”

Jesus lowered the BOOM with the BUT!

You will find a lot of His BUTs in one place, the book of Matthew in the New Testament of the Bible.

I can picture the Disciples listening to Jesus talk.

Suddenly they would start to snicker and snort like a group of dudes can sometimes do…

“He said BUT!!”

Matthew wrote it down.

Here are some BIG BUTs…

Matthew 5:43-44:  “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. BUT I say, love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!”

BOOM! There goes the BUT! Love your enemies! Pray for the bullies. That is a serious game (and heart) changer. It’s so much easier to love the people that you like, BUT we are told to sing love songs for our enemies.

Matthew 6:31-33: “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, BUT your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

BOOM! There goes the BUT! It’s so easy to get caught up in worry about stuff. BUT, because we are His kids, God has promised to take care of us. We might not always understand how He is taking care of us, BUT we can always trust that He will. He is our sustainer and the scripter of our seasons.

Matthew 10:32-33: “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. BUT everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”

BOOM! There goes the BUT! Make noise about who Jesus is on earth and He will make noise about who you are in Heaven…pretty simple.

Matthew 16:25: “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. BUT if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”

BOOM! There goes the BUT! The Kingdom is all upside down, actually its right-side up, and everything else is upside down. The way to find is to lose!

Matthew 20:25-26: “BUT Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. BUT among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.”

BOOM! There goes the BUT! Crazy leadership advice!! Totally contrary to what most leadership books say. You want to be great, lose yourself. Serve. Life is like a limbo game. How low can you go?

How about this one…

You have heard this isn’t good…

BUT, GOD says I AM GOOD…SO VERY GOOD.

People say one thing, BUT God gets the final word.

You are __________. Fill in the blank…poor, sick, lost, broken, ugly, fat, skinny, stupid, unskilled, not enough, etc.

BUT, God says you are MINE…that makes you enough.

The BUTs fill in the blanks in our lives!

BUTs change everything!

When you are at the bottom of your life…run to the BUT.

Whatever you are going through, please realize that one carefully placed BUT from God can change your situation.

You thought you were unloved, BUT…

You thought you were alone, BUT…

You thought you were hopeless, BUT…

You thought you were damaged beyond repair, BUT…

You thought you were done, BUT…

A big BUT changes everything.

Don’t give up, God is covering your but.

Get a but load of God.

 Here’s a bonus BUT from the Old Testament, that will never be put on an inspirational coffee cup:

Psalm 103:14 says “we are BUT dust”.

Think about that.

There is a not so subtle difference between ninjas and newscasters.

Ninjas are all about doing their job in secret.

Newscasters broadcast everything.

Ninjas are all about the mission.

They don’t care who gets the credit.

Newscasters are all about the byline.

We have a mission. it’s a simple mission.

be loved and love.

know and make known.

do good. be kind. serve. leave a mark.

along with the mission we have a choice.

ninja or newscaster…who will you be?

newscaster…

When you announce to every one what YOU are doing, you are choosing to receive your reward in the here and now.

“I gave…I served…I blessed…I helped”

kudos to you. you are a wonderful person. we recognize your service.

BUT, God tells us when you do something for me…make it about me…nobody has to know….because I know and that is what matters.

the Bible even says don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.

that is pretty ninja!

Don’t turn your acts of serve into a checklist or a pat on the back.

When you announce what you have done it ceases to be serve and becomes self.

Be ninja!

there is something cool and mysterious about ninja love.

it is all about making other people famous.

be ninja!