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2017 Anticipation

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Over the last two months I’ve visited a lot of race shops and sat down with many in the racing community.  There was a common theme, anticipation.  Everyone was busy making improvements to their programs and itching to get back to the track.  It didn’t matter how the 2016 season went – that’s the past and 2017 is a fresh start. 

With all that excitement I started to question if my relationship with the Lord is currently filled with the same level of anticipation.  I think it’s pretty easy to get caught up in defeat and disappointment  - we’re not perfect so it’s bound to happen.  However, what if I viewed each day like we view a new race season?   What if we could let the past go and intentionally focus on what God is doing in our lives now?

There’s a great word for us in Isaiah 43:18-19:
“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!”

It’s not the easiest to see what God is doing in our lives when it is clouded by defeat or in the pride of our success.   When we get off track we must not be fooled into thinking it’s not worth the fight.  God is at work.   We must live with the anticipation that He is doing something new, fresh and significant in our lives. 

A few weeks ago I was visiting a team building an incredible race car and they embodied what our walk with the Lord should be like.  If it wasn’t the best of the best, it didn’t go on this car. If a part could be better but wasn’t available – they made it. They were working in an atmosphere of confidence.   When we are able to live in the anticipation that God is active in our lives it changes our perspective.  Our atmosphere in relationship with the Lord gives us access to the creator of the best.  How can we dwell on failures and shortcoming when He is ready to start fresh and invest the very best in us? 

Just as we kick of the racing season this week with such great anticipation, let’s build our anticipation for what the Lord is doing.   Focus this year on where you want to see God do a new thing.  Maybe it’s in a relationship with your spouse or family member.  Maybe it’s a personal issue that needs to be worked on to better our character and relationship with the Lord. Whatever you think of that needs God to move in – pray to the Lord for Him to start something new.  Let’s ask God to move in our situations, show us answers (as hard as that may be), and bring restoration to what was lost while our vision was clouded.  With each new day may we have such great anticipation and confidence knowing God is at work.  

Giving Love Away

I recently took an empty propane tank out to be refilled.  While waiting by the giant supply tank for service an employee said, “I hate filling tanks and don’t want to help you – but I will.”  I was pretty shocked at how blunt he was, but hey – he filled my tank so I was still accomplishing my goals.   My son, Jay, was with me and said, “Dad, he doesn’t like his job.”  

How many times do we act like this employee in our Christian walk? Is the love and compassion we are commanded to share something that flows out of us as an expression of our faith?  Do we even act like we enjoy being Christians?

Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Expressing our love for the Lord and love for our neighbor shouldn’t be an inconvenience out of our day.  Loving the Lord, and loving those around us should be the natural expression of our faith.  We are not employees of the Kingdom of God with tasks and duties to check off in order to maintain favor.  We are sons and daughters who are loved without contingencies.  We have good days and bad days where we may make good choices or bad choices but His love for us is the same. 

As a response to this incredible love we really have just one commandment – to love Him in return and those we come in contact with.  It can be easy to get distracted from this primary objective.  In order to remain in a place of love here are 2 ideas to keep the love on:

1.  Worship – taking time out of our day to worship the Lord takes the focus off us and on to Him.   Taking a moment to listen to a worship song in the car before walking in the door at the shop or office could be all we need to get us expressing love. 

2.  Give – anytime we give of our time, finances, or attention we are giving an expression of love.   Big or small, when we invest into relationships it releases love.  It may be as simple as picking up the phone to call a friend and tell them how much you appreciate them, or buying the next person in lines soda at the gas station. 

The man who filled my propane tank didn’t really put any desire in me to have his job or perspective on life.  Our love should be building a love bridge from those around us back to the Lord.  The purpose of loving the Lord and loving those around us is to grow in love and in our capacity to receive and give love away.   We should be expressing a contagious faith drawing others to the source of love. 

As the racing season begins to close out for the year lets focus on growing in our love for the Lord and one another.  People surround us in our lives that need to encounter the love of the Lord in their lives.  Let’s be the answer with intentional and contagious expressions of His love in our lives and in His love for them.

Living with Intention

All my children have birthdays around the same time. Each year we reflect on how much the kids have grown and how old that makes Brooke and I feel. Well, it’s not that we are closing in on retirement, but it definitely sparks an awareness about the frailty of life and fleeting nature of time. As the kids grow and mature, we are realizing we need to be more intentional about giving them the experiences, memories and tools for success. Time is essentially forcing us to be intentional and not procrastinate what’s on our hearts to do.

Valuing time is the foundation of wisdom. There is simply no way to have wisdom if we don’t understand that time is a precious gift. Time cannot be reproduced and it operates without restraint. If we operate without an understanding of using our time wisely and procrastinate, then we miss out on what God wants to do in us now. Procrastination assumes there is always tomorrow. However, that may not be the case and time will make your decisions for you.

It’s important to be intentional with our time so we receive from Him what is timely for us, which in turn is a blessing to others. Time is the enforcer of faith. Continually pursuing a life of intentional living defines our purpose and cultivates faith. It requires us to activate ourselves and resist complacency. Each passing moment time is encouraging us to press on and explore what is possible in faith. As we respond in immediate obedience, we tune our ears to His voice and nature. This builds confidence in us as He stirs up our hearts, bringing life to our passions, and to those around us.

Psalm 90:12 is a prayer embracing the value and treasure of time, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The privilege of time is extraordinary and powerful. We are simply stewards of this treasure that has a definitive beginning and end in which we must discover, pursue, and flow in our God given purpose.

Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Let’s live with intention, putting aside procrastination, and gain a heart of wisdom for Him. Out of our hearts passion we'll give of our time treasure to invest into our families, the gifts and talents we posses and in our relationship with the Lord.

Additional Reading:

John 10:10 - "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." 
Don't allow time to be taken from you! There is no time to be bitter, self-reliant, ungrateful and self-serving when He is giving us life to the full. Let's live with intention and purpose!

Hiding in the 23rd Psalm

I drove my truck for two years before discovering that I could roll down the windows with the keyfob. Now when walking up to the truck I roll the windows down even when I don't want them down. It is a great little feature that has always been there, I just didn’t realize it. This week I would like to look at one of the most familiar chapters in the Bible, the 23rd Psalm. Let's focus on one portion of it for some insight that is often overlooked.

The 23rd Psalm starts out with, “The Lord is my shepherd…”. It’s a staple of Christian education and worth some solid prize weight in Sunday School once you memorize it. The prayer is so popular because it contains many promises worded in a concise way. Let's focus on the closing lines: “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life” Psalm 23:6 What does it mean that goodness and lovingkindness will follow us?

Goodness is simply interpreted as that, “good things” and “to our benefit”. Lovingkindness is defined as, “faithful goodness”. Lovingkindness is like the enforcer of goodness. Now when we look at the word “follow”, things get interesting.

The original text and usage of the word “follow” here is not like randomly looking at a social social media feed. The meaning of “follow” in this text is more than just my wife and I taking two cars and arriving at the same place. The word “follow” in this sense is more like using the “chrome horn” all the way around the race track. It’s pursing with such intensity that in Hebrew they can use the same word to describe harassment.

If we put it all together the passage is declaring that good things and situations to our benefit are continually upon us. Goodness and lovingkindness is eagerly trying to secure a hold of us. It doesn’t matter if I turn left or right, or speed up or slow down - it is right there. What this means is that even if I make a poor choice or simply mess things up, that God is still pursuing me. Of course He has a plan and a purpose for us and we face consequences for our actions but redemption, restoration, and forgiveness are faithfully extended to us.

This is an incredible promise to grab hold of. If we really grasp this then we’ll realize that we always have a 2nd chance to course correct. We never have to feel shame or disappointment that we “missed God” in our lives. Let’s shake off negativity and embrace His goodness and lovingkindness that is so persistent and near!

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