NASCAR: Pit Stop Essentials

NASCAR-at-DaytonaA word that elicits a wide range of emotions is NASCAR . Some people shake their head in bewilderment thinking it is a waste of time to watch grown men drive a car in circles.  Then, there are those who froth at the mouth when they hear the rumble of a finely tuned engine that propels a driver down the straightaways in excess of 200 MPH.

Every second the driver spends on pit road is a second that will determine how he finishes the race. In a matter of about 12 seconds, a good pit crew can change tires, top off the fuel tank, and necessary adjustments to race car.

Pit stops are a vital component of every race—even the race of life.  Paul said, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 1:7).  To finish the race, it helps to keep a few principles in mind:

  • Realize your skill-set is limited and you will always need God:
    • I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God with me. ~I Corinthians 15:10
    • Serve with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ. ~I Peter 4:11
  • Remember those who have helped you and show your appreciation: I thank God for you Christians at Philippi whenever I think of you. My constant prayers for you are a real joy, for they bring back to my mind how we have worked together for the Gospel from the earliest days until now. ~Philippians 1:3
  • Plan for the bumps in the road: Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. ~Hebrews 11:25
  • Set a steady pace, so you can win the race: Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air.  Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified. ~I Corinthians 9:24-27

I’ll close with this thought: To run fast, you need to know when its time to slow down.

BiTTER or BeTTER:  A Titanic Difference

elite-daily-titanicEven though it sank on April 15, 1912, the Titanic is one of the most famous ships that ever sailed the sea, and of her 711 survivors, the unsinkable Molly Brown may be the most famous.

The difference between Molly and the other survivors is that she never embraced a “victim” mindset.  She refused to yield to the emotional negatives of what she had been dealt; instead, she focused on how she could deal; and, she transformed the negative into a positive.

Molly stepped-up at a critical moment and took charge of her lifeboat.  After being rescued, she refused to be defined by her personal loss and her near death experience. She chose, instead, to lead volunteer efforts on behalf of her fellow survivors.

Molly Brown never played Wheel of Fortune, but she knew the importance of letter placement and the power of vowels.  Molly chose an E instead of an I and became  BeTTER instead of BiTTER. This is the difference between a rose and a thorn.  Some people complain that the rose bush is full of thorns, while others are happy that the thorn bush has roses.

Molly could have wasted the rest of her life bitterly trash-talking the crew of the Titanic, and she could have denigrated the engineers who designed the ship, but she chose the better path in life.

I’ll close with this BeTTER or BiTTER instruction from the Apostle Paul: Put away all bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and slanderous talk—indeed all malice.  Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:31-32

*You might enjoy this brief “Molly Brown” clip.

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

imageWhen you were a kid your integrity may have been assaulted with a blazing childhood rant: Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

Lying, however, isn’t in the repertoire of God—He’s the epitome of truthfulness and faithfulness:  God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent (Numbers 23:19).

The Psalms are replete with verses that testify of the faithfulness of God:

  • 15:4: He makes firm commitments and does not renege on his promise.
  • 18:30: The Lord’s promise is reliable; he is a shield to all who take shelter in him.
  • 25:30: The Lord always proves faithful and reliable to those who follow the demands of his covenant.
  • 100:5: For the Lord is good. His loyal love endures, and he is faithful through all generations.

God’s faithfulness is more than just the subject of polite conversation, it’s a concept that sustains us in those where-the-rubber-meets-the-road moments of life:

  • The grief-stricken need to know they can trust God when he says: “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5).”
  • To the lonely and downcast, God promises that “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you (Isaiah 43:2).”
  • The weak are energized by the potential of Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
  • The overwhelmed often find comfort in the opening words of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd . . .”

God is not wishy-washy, He’s reliable and His, “word is firmly fixed in the heavens, and His faithfulness endures to all generations (Psalm 119:89-90).”

Regardless of your circumstances in life, remember this: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).”

Fillings or Feelings

Dental_Cleaning_325wGenerally speaking, people have very little trouble distinguishing between fillings and feelings.  I know of one particular incident, however, when the two were confused.  My youngest brother was listening to a discussion on how a person’s feelings had been hurt.  Eager to participate, he gave a big smile and said:  “I have feelings too, see,” and then he pointed to the fillings in his mouth.

The gnawing truth is that both fillings and feelings are directly connected to something that is missing.  In the case of fillings, part of a tooth is missing, so a dentist fills the tooth.  Feelings, on the other hand, can be more of a challenge.  The emptiness related to them are emotional in nature.

A person may feel empty because of grief, a self-esteem issue, or disappointment. The solution involves more than just an injection and the mixing of a composite resin to fill a tooth.  The need is a relationship and not more resin:

  • If your feelings have drained you and you’re running on fumes, it might give you some consolation to think of God as “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).”
  • If you’re struggling with a major decision, James 1:5 can be reassuring: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, . . . and it will be given to him.”
  • If you’re worn out, you can find the strength you need because “the Lord will give strength to His people (Ps. 29:11).”
  • If your life seems dry and barren, a relationship with Jesus may be what you need: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
  • If you have a gnawing hunger that you can’t seem to satisfy, you may be eating the wrong bread. Jesus said:  “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more (John 6).”

You may have gone through life as the kid nobody wanted on their team; as the person who could never make it to the first chair in the school band; the singer who was always off key; or, the wilted flower on a piece of outdated wallpaper.  If so, I’ve have some good news for you.  Jesus said: “The Father gives me the people who are mine. Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them (John 6:37).”  There are no exceptions: Jesus loves you, accepts you, and He always will.