Chapel Service

Iowa Speedway

July 26, 2019

Pastors Don Rivers & Bob Butcher

I am known for reminding drivers, team members and people in general to honor God in the way we respond to the situations and consequences we are presented with. Maybe I say it too much and people tune me out. I say it because we all need reminding that when we respond in a way that is self-serving we dishonor God and those around us. I am left shaking my head. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The checkered flag dropped, the smoke cleared and a winner was determined but something was missing. You guessed it, the celebration was dampened because of the means used to gain victory. Don’t take my word for it. I didn’t come to that conclusion, the driver who won the race did. 

Quoting from his statement to, “It’s hard to celebrate when you have to win it like that.” 

I didn’t have the opportunity to talk with this driver so I am just going to leave the comment alone. It does however, raise a bigger point. Is there a way we can win and not have to apologize for the way we did it? When we honor God in the way we handle ourselves. 

I watched the laps unfold and listened to the comments at the conclusion. One stuck in my mind; “That’s one way to win a race.” The person who made the comment was absolutely right, that’s one way. There are many other ways to win also. The fact is when we take the high road it leaves a better taste in our mouths.

This is not a commentary on how the race was won but more a lesson about the ends don’t justify the means. Winning is good, done in a way that respects the other competitors it is worth celebrating. We talk about it so much it is in our tagline;

“Run the race in such a way as to win, through off everything that hinders and focus on Jesus.”

I know the reason we run the race is to win. I also know that it is difficult when victory is within reach to dial it back, you can reach out and taste it. We get blinders on and do whatever we think we need to do to secure victory. We all get caught up in the moment, do things that, when given time to reflect on, we may have chosen to do differently. 

One of the observations that came to mind as I drove home from Riverhead was the idea of forgiveness vs permission. As I changed lanes to move around drivers I wondered out loud if they were even aware of their actions knowing full well they couldn’t hear me. They seemed to be driving on their own road with no one else in mind. They are just driving wherever they want, however they want and the world will just have to find a way around them. I am concerned that we are developing into a society of narcissists. 

We have misconstrued what forgiveness is about. We have decided that we can pursue our own wants and desires without worry because when we are held accountable we can just ask for forgiveness. You know the saying, it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. That is not the point, the consequences from our actions do not go away. We may be forgiven but we will still be in jail for life if we murder someone. We get shortsighted and don’t realize the burden selfish behavior comes with.

A couple passages come to mind;

Matthew 16:26; And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

1Corinthians 10:23; You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.

We can rationalize anything but in the end we have to come to grips with the fact that the consequences of our choices are burdensome. God has a way for us to live that frees us from the burdens created by selfish decisions. He invites us to come to Him his burden is light. 

John 10:10; “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

I have seen the burden created by selfish choices become overwhelming. I have seen that weight crush people and lives. I remind so many about the opportunity we have to respond differently. Release that burden, seek out God and His restoration. He can and will come to each one who seeks Him out.

The road we are going down will rob us from the joy and celebration of our victories. We won’t realize it until it is over. Then it will be too late. We must seek Jesus while he can be found. 

Isaiah 55:6-7; Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. 

Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. 

Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.

Don Rivers

Now, Part two of this is my own message following after Don’s on the same subject but with a different take on it.  Here it is:

I cannot help but follow after Don’s Chapel message along the same lines of thought.  I have personally been there and have the very same thoughts on the subject, but maybe coming from a different point of view; … especially as it happened to me!

 Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty—He is the King of glory.  Psalm 24:10

On my way home following this “racing incident” as someone commented, I had time to reflect for hundreds of miles.  Now, more than thirty years later it still burns me, but at the same time I now recognize today that my Car Owner was completely right in his decision as he scribbled upon my pit board “NO!!!” in the thick, chalk lengthwise.  Yep, I had got turned around and set sail after him when I read that pit board flying by. He was mine when I got to him, but reading that pit board I knew my car owner would park me if I did it.  Later, he took care of it, himself, the right way, with the NASCAR Officials.

 Who was he?  Well, he was famous then and morel-less a legend still today.  Yes, I knew him, but as a filthy driver and still think so.

I could excitedly rattle off the famous racers I knew and hung around with growing up along with the ones I got to race with.   All these years later, I still enjoy sharing the stories with my grandkids of the days I raced with and hung with these superstar of those days.

But, …today I now understand why my Car Owner would not let me retaliate.  He was a strong, principled, Christian and I would learn much from him.  It was all about Integrity, Respect, Honor, and doing things the right way in God’s eyes.  Back then it was a hard, annoying lesson but today it’s become who I am also.

So, recognizing famous racers and hanging out with them is one thing, but there’s Someone more important I’m thankful to know personally today.

“Who is this King of glory?…”  Psalms 24:8

The psalmist and future King David answers that question as he points to the Lord Almighty as Creator, Sustainer and Ruler of all. He sings, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it on the seas and established it on the waters” Psalms 24: 1-2).  

In awestruck wonder, David proclaims in Psalms 24: 3-4) that God is above all, yet intimately approachable . Who is allowed to ascend the mountain of the Lord?  Who may go up to His holy dwelling place?  Only the one whose deeds are blameless and whose motives are pure, who does not lie, or make promises with no intention of keeping them.”

David then proclaims in Psalms 24: 8 that we can know Him, be empowered by Him, and trust Him to fight on our behalf, as we live for Him.  Such godly people receive blessings and are rewarded by the Lord, and also vindicated by the God who delivers them.”

God provides opportunities for us to declare Him as the only Famous One truly worth sharing with others. As we reflect His character, those who don’t recognize Him can have more reasons to ask, “Who is He?”  Then, like David, we can point to the Lord with awestruck wonder and tell His story!

Reflect & Pray

  • What has the Lord shown you about Himself?
  • How might you share that with someone?

Lord, thanks for blessing us with the pleasure and privilege of seeking You and giving us opportunities to share You with others every day.

Please take a few minutes and refer back to Pastor Don’s verses he pointed out I have typed in red:

Matthew 16:26

1 Corinthians 10:23

Isaiah 55:6-7

And, lastly, John 10:10

In closing I know Pastors Dan and Don as well as my wife Kathy  wish you the best today and will be praying for you as well as I am.