Montana Raceway Park
August 13, 2011
“What About Bob”
In Colorado we talked about the surprising and often amazing influence we can have upon someone’s life without even realizing it. It only takes a simple comment or encouragement sometimes.
The keys are the respect we carry with that person. Our trustworthiness, integrity, and wisdom bring this to pass.
Let me turn our focus just a bit on another way we can impact a life.
I have been asked many times how to reach someone when we desire to share about God. The common term for this is “witnessing” and that word seems to freak people out quicker than the Montana Raceway Park track qualifying record!
Immediately, people start getting nervous and fear comes out in beads of sweat. Loss of words or stumbling over themselves follows and what was just in your Biblical knowledge has drifted to something akin to a wreck coming to the flag out of turn four.
What are we suppose to tell them about God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit? How do we explain something that we ourselves do not understand? And how foolish am I going to look? Omigosh!
Let me let you in on a simple secret that eliminates lots of this.
We need to change our concept of what we think we need to say!
The truth is that instead of telling them about God…
Or what God can do for them…
We need to tell them honestly what God did for us personally!
THAT is the best thing we could ever say, PERIOD!
Truth, Honesty, Humility about the actual facts in your personal experience throws far more reality and impact into the conversation than anything else you could ever speak face to face.
Now THAT is better than some “TV reality show” any time!
Here is an example from my own life:
So, What about Bob, you say? Well let me tell you a small part of what God has done for me:
However, to get a real picture I need to tell you just a small bit of where I came from. Otherwise, it seems everyone thinks that I came from some perfect or special lifestyle and have always been perfect.
Yeah, right! If you think that, then you are really deceived.
But, … you are a Pastor! Uhh …huh, you are correct …BUT…
Just like Moses, Abraham, King David, Solomon, Elijah, all the Disciples, and the Apostle Paul …I am flawed BIGTIME and have a story unpleasing to God in my past.
I was born to Christian parents and lived and was brought up in a wonderful home.
I didn’t like going to church or Sunday school. Please just let me go hunting, fishing, to a race, or listen to the radio.
In my teens it became far worse.
By the time my twenties rolled around I was in the Air Force and really out on my own and doing all the wrong things.
After all, I never expected to live beyond 30 years old. I figured if the racing didn’t kill me like so many stars of the day in F-1, Indy Cars, Sprint Cars, and NASCAR then my job in the Air Force would in Viet Nam.
I drank like a fish and partied like there was no tomorrow. ***See Footnote
My language would melt the body wrap off any car today!
Sometimes I still snicker to myself when someone out here at the track says …”oops, Pastor, I‘m sorry I didn’t see you there” or “I can’t say what I think “because Bob’s here.”
Often I would like to say “if you think you are offending me, and then you don’t know that I am probably the one who coined that combination of swear words before you were born!”
After the Air Force nothing changed. It just got worse. My life was in the gutter with bad relationships and perspectives on life that were unhealthy to say the least.
Things finally got to the point that you might as well say I ran away to Oregon to get a fresh start, but it was not any better out here.
My life stayed like this until Sunday morning October 22, 1978.
That’s when God supernaturally called me a halt in a shocking way!
That day God turned my life upside down …but in reality right side up!
On Saturday, the 21st, I had been woke up with a call from my employer calling me to work and get what was left of my truck that had gone over a cliff up in Battleground, Washington. I had opted out of driving because I had been drunk and not fit to drive so they replaced me with another driver. I spent the day hauling out the wreck which made the third time in two weeks that I had refused a trip and my replacement driver ended up in a wreck, two that cost lives in the accident.
Sunday morning I was woke up wondering what was going on in my life. I called my Dad and upon hearing my story he said; “Bob, it sounds like you need to talk with God because He is trying to get your attention.”
In those days my roommate Paul and I always started Sunday by driving across to the other side of Portland to what was called “My First tavern” and drink our way home. However, on this day I told Paul that I needed to go find out what was going on and would meet him at the tavern in Aloha where we lived later.
I drove up on Skyline Drive that spectacularly overlooked Portland, Beaverton, and Aloha and parked at an overlook. I wanted to ask God if He was real and what was happening in my life.
As I sat there, I said out loud: “If You are real; God, …then show me.” Wow, did He!
God answered my demand with: “You have gone far enough you way, …now I want you to serve Me My way. I have many things for you to do for Me.” All that came in such a loud, audible voice that I actually got out of my car and went looking around to find who said that to me and figured my roommate was spoofing me for sure!
After looking everywhere and then sitting there stunned awhile I drove toward home until I reached the entrance to Aloha Community Church when once again God spoke to me saying: “I want you to go in here.” I drove past to the corner when He said: “I told you I wanted you to go in there!” Believe me, when you have an experience like this you turn around and go back and I went in.
I met a number of kind, friendly people, a really pretty girl and her family sitting behind me, and some of the leaders when I felt like I was suppose to go forward at an alter call at the end and ask God to be Lord of my life.
I already had done that up at that overlook, and here heard Romans 10: 9-10:
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Of course I really did not have understanding yet and when I left church afterward I went straight to meet Paul at the Aloha tavern. I had to tell him about my morning! As I got into the bar, I poured a glass of beer form Paul’s pitcher and went to take a drink when both loudly and awesome I heard: “What are you doing here? I told you that you’ve gone far enough your way.”
I immediately set that beer down, told Paul that I would see him at home and left for home. When I got home I took a shower and honestly, I felt like I washed off 50 pounds of dirt! My foul mouth was gone and any desire to drink and party inappropriately.
I went back to that church that night and have served Him ever since, completely changing my lifestyle. I was invited to return for what was called a College and Career group the next Friday and did. There I was invited to use my driving skills for God and drive the bus to a Retreat the next week and was thrilled to do so, especially when a very pretty girl sitting directly behind me on the bus kept condensation off my windows with a squeegee.
The Retreat was a joy and I made some great friends there and the education began like a green flag falling on a field of cars and I raced toward my new life and career.
So what has God done for me?
- There was a peace in my life for the very first time. I was relaxed.
- It seemed and felt like my entire life was new and every problem gone.
- I had hope where I have had none in years that anything would change.
- There was a new joy, feeling of freedom,
- I have never had a desire to touch a drop of alcohol since. ***See Footnote
- Most amazingly, my extremely foul language was gone …flat GONE!
- I met Kathy and her family that very day as she sat behind me.
- I had a whole new bunch of committed, real friends that immediately felt closer than family and treated me like it.
- Immediately, I had a close confident to hang out and talk out anything.
- Through the years there have always been one or two close confidents everywhere I have moved.
- So many dreams have come true in new ways …like serving racing through MRO & giving back to the sport I love so much all my life.
I know some of you say: “But you’re Pastor Bob, that’s different.” But please remember that God shows no partiality to persons. This is clearly shown all through scriptures like: Deuteronomy 10:17, 2 Chronicles 19:7, Job 31:13-15, Job 34:19, Acts 10:34
Besides, let me remind you that God says “If you confess your sin, I am righteous and just to forgive you & cleanse you from all sin.” John 1:9
The results of this promise reminds me of the Chris Tomlin song “Light of the World” lyrics:
“Light of the world
You stepped down into darkness.
Opened my eyes, let me see. …”
“I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross…”
God steps down from heaven opens our eyes and leaves it to our choice to choose to follow Him or not. He endured the cross and all the suffering and the Father turning His back on Him for our sake, …our salvation!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) When you were born again you became a new creation …and you have a story to tell for sure!
In closing I have to ask you after hearing about just a small part of my life and what the Lord has done for me:
Isn’t that much better than me just telling you who God is?
I Know there is so much more than what I shared about my life for this, however the point was not about my whole life and certainly also cannot tell all that the Lord has done for me within a short session like this. I would need a pretty thick book in order to tell it all. That reminds me of what the Apostle John wrote in John 21:25 and plays out within my life alone.
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”
*** On Alcohol: Am I saying that it is a sin to drink? No, unless it rules your life and you allow yourself to be out of control, over indulge, and lose your normal wisdom because of it.
The simple issue with me is a covenant with the Lord to personally not drink so that some new and inexperienced Christian that sees me thinks “Oh, it’s okay because Bob drinks” and becomes drunk and unable to control themselves. This falls into the category of what I call “Causing a brother or sister to stumble” – referring to Romans 14:13 when the Apostle Paul says:
“So then, let us stop judging one another. Instead, you should decide never to do anything that would make others stumble or fall into sin.”
There are a number of lifestyle issues that fall into this category and I stress to be wise regarding them.