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Fresh Start to 2016

What really excites me about the beginning of a new season is the freshness. Taking what was worn or damaged and bringing it back to life is satisfying.

Removing what was old brings anticipation to try what is new. All of the “let’s give it shot” talk in the shop finally has an outlet to test the different setup theories.  It’s a culmination of countless hours of strategy and hard work to get the most out of each race weekend.

As the new season begins and we kick off our series of chapel services and devotionals, I would like for us to apply those same attributes to our spiritual lives. It is an opportunity to clear the slate of past mistakes with forgiveness and start fresh.  Our time together provides us the opportunity to get rid of old thinking that left us with misconceptions about who we are, compared to who God says we are. Most importantly, let's take advantage His promises to rebuild and restore what has been torn down, neglected or lost.

Let’s start the journey first by simply agreeing that we will allow God to move in our hearts. Not that God needs to ask for our permission, but let’s position ourselves to receive from Him. We do this by being willing, expectant and believing. Hearing from God and encountering Him has everything to do with the attitude of our heart and willingness to receive.

God wants to move in our lives and reveal His love for us each day. We can’t always wait for church to come on Sunday, or our favorite worship song to play, or when we take our next missions trip to tune our hearts to His. In Acts 2:25, Peter refers to King David’s statement: “I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.” The original psalm makes it clear that this was a decision of David’s to keep his focus on the Lord constantly. I am sure David had opportunities to look elsewhere, but with the Lord “at my right hand” David was so close to Him that he was always in a position to be strengthened and affirmed.

As we look ahead to a new season of racing and a season of growing in our faith together let’s begin with making a commitment to maintain our hearts in a position to hear from Him. We have a great year ahead of us – let’s start the adventure!

Endless Supply of Brake Cleaner

I have a real soft spot for brake cleaner. I use it for just about everything not listed on the can.  However, when I look over to the storage shelf and notice I’m on the last can it causes me to go into conservation mode.  I don’t spray anything unnecessary like wasps, or weeds in the cracks of my sidewalk.

We naturally conserve what we believe is in limited supply and we use extravagantly what seems to be an endless supply, such as water or Thanksgiving turkey.  So much of what we do is dependent on the supply that is available to accomplish our goal.  The real challenge is knowing how much is available to us.  

There is a story in the Bible of a guy, Bartimaeus, who had a great understanding of making sure you use everything available to you.  Bartimaeus was blind and basically would hang out on the side of a busy road begging for money.  Whatever he got, he used.  One day Jesus was walking on the same road Bartimaeus was on and he decided to cry out for Jesus.  Despite others trying to hush him, he got louder and louder.  Jesus called Bartimaeus out and asked him what he wanted.  Bartimaeus told him he wanted his sight, and on the spot Jesus healed his eyes.

What’s so amazing to me is that Bartimaeus knew Jesus had the ability to heal him and he adamantly pursued his healing.  He could have talked himself out of it with negative self-talk, saying he wasn’t worthy of Jesus’ time.  He could have easily disqualified himself based on past sin and imperfections.  When the crowd tried to quiet him he could have folded to peer pressure.  Instead, Bartimaeus went for it.  He knew what was available to him and didn’t waver in his confidence before Jesus.

This is the way we should live our lives with the Lord.  We can’t look at His provision for us like it’s the last can of brake cleaner that must be conserved.   God is overflowing with love, forgiveness, mercy, encouragement and strength for us.  Here’s an example of His extravagant capacity for us:

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Ephesians 3:20: Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.

If we approach Him with conservative expectations we may miss the opportunity to receive all He has for us and limit what He’s able to accomplish in our lives.   So, this week let’s begin to stretch our capacity to receive from the Father.  Let’s go after God and seek the endless supply He has for us!

Thankful Lifestyle

When I was 10 years old I was riding my bike with a rake across my handlebars.  Correction, when I was 10 years old I crashed my bike with a rake across my handlebars.   I was warned it wouldn’t end well and sure enough they were right when the first mailbox came by.

I got away from the wreck pretty clean but every time I see a racecar come into the pits all wadded up I just cringe at the time and cost it will take to rebuild.  There isn’t one racer who fields a car at the start of the day hoping to be involved in an accident. Despite all the precautions a person can take sometimes they still end up rebuilding.

Life is that way.  We can do everything we can to provide ourselves security and protection from the challenges we face but in the end we can’t avoid them all.  Sooner or later we are back to rebuilding and overcoming issues with our health, relationships and finances.  It is in those moments when we are truly tested where we must make a decision on how we posture our perspective on life and in our attitude with the Lord.

Regardless of the experiences we find ourselves in we are called to maintain a thankful heart (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Being able to reflect on the goodness and grace we receive from the Lord in any circumstance may not be the easiest reaction.  However, it’s a provision He always extends to us and it assures that we keep from living a life of complaining and negativity.

About 5 years ago a man totaled my SUV while it was parked in front of my house.  I was in Texas at the time so I never met him.  It wasn’t a great thing to have happen, but I wasn’t overly stressed about it since I had insurance to cover everything.  The driver of the other car was broke and uninsured with an obvious need to rebuild his life. Knowing he was worse off than I was and just picked up a DUI, Brooke and I decided to mail the guy a check the same week it happened.  

We could have easily, almost justifiably, taken offense with the man and made his situation worse but all it would have done is robbed us of enjoying the million other great things happening in our lives.   When facing situations in life where we feel that things are unjust against us we can’t give in to the temptation of being ungrateful or worse, placing blame on God or others around us. 

These are the exact moments in time where God shines through and gets us what we need.  He’s
the solution to, not the cause of, the hardships we face.  When we maintain our focus on Him, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29)

This week let’s take some honest self-reflection time and analyze the different aspects of our lives where we need to let go of complaining or a negative mindset.  Let’s strive for a lifestyle of gratitude and thanks to the Lord for His incredible goodness and grace even when faced with the hardest of difficulties in life. 

Relationship is Everything

Don't let the mint taste fool you - a Tums tablet is not candy.  

However, my grandfather didn't see it that way.  On the rare trip to visit him I quickly learned to decline the offer for some "candy".

My grandpa, Eugene, was a Russian immigrant living in California.  He had a thick accent and we had a lot of miles between us.   As a result, our relationship was rather thin.  It did not mean we didn't have a love for one another, but it hampered our ability for genuine connection to happen.   When we did get a chance to be in the same place at the same time it was a bit awkward.  You're with someone you care about but don't have the history to respond to or even express appropriately your personality much less your love for one another.  

Unfortunately, this is also a great picture of what our relationship with the Lord can be like if we don't spend time with Him.   The Lord loves us and we love the Lord, but that doesn't mean we are fostering relationship with Him only by confessing our love for Him.  We're still His sons and daughters, just like I was still the grandson of Eugene, but are we becoming more like Him?  Are we close enough to Him to understand the way He speaks to us and cares for us? 

Simply put - we have to spend time with Lord if we are to understand who He is, who we are, and to make sense of the plan and purposes He has for us.  When we find moments in our day to pause, reflect, and have a conversation with God He'll unfold the truths about who He is and what resources He has for us to live out our lives fully.  

Matthew 7:7 presents a promise to us saying "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  Personally, I've had to become intentional about seeking these moments to "seek" out of my day.  I seek God while I do my morning run, mowing the yard, listening to music - really, it's any time I can process without interruption.  It's just a time to posture our hearts to have a conversation with God and listen to His leading. 

Every time I open myself up to a God encounter moment like that I come away encouraged, refreshed and with a better perspective.  It compliments and clarifies what I am reading in the Bible or a sermon I recently heard.   There are times though when I feel more distant and disconnected with spiritual things.  We all get there.  Just the pace of life and sometimes my own poor decisions allow me to lose focus.  However, James 4:8 tells us that we if we "Come near to God and he will come near to you."  Even when we feel like we are in a far away place He is faithful to pick up the conversation. 

Here's the challenge:

Let's intentionally focus on increasing our time with the Lord.  However much you feel like you do let's get into a season of doing more!  A great instruction to start the conversation comes from Psalms 62:8 where we are told to just "pour our hearts out to Him".   I cover everything from thanking the Lord to venting my frustrations with health there is a lot of room in there.  Let's position our hearts to receive what He has for us and strengthen our relationship with Him. 

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