Expectations can get us all in trouble. I know for myself there have often been times where I have been hurt or disappointed or angry because I had a certain expectation that was not met. Most of the time it is people that fall short of my expectations and cause these things, but I know for some people, even God Himself cannot seem to meet them. Let’s examine why this might be.
The first reason is because often we have UNSPOKEN expectations. Even though we know that others cannot read our minds, for some reason we often expect them to be able to do so. We EXPECT that they will know what it is we think and desire, and therefore we get upset when they don’t do it. This is actually quite ridiculous. It is also easily resolved. All we have to do is learn to communicate with others and we don’t ever have to be bothered by this again. The key to this is to do it AHEAD of time, and not after the expectation has been broken; and to speak our expectation with care toward another, this will make them more likely to put the effort forth to work with us at resolving or preventing the problem from occurring.
The second reason is that we often have UNREALISTIC expectations. We put such a burden on others that there is no way they could possibly meet it. This often happens with couples who feel their every need should be met by their mate. Your mate wasn’t designed to meet your every need, the Lord was; so asking your significant other to do so is beyond their capacity. A good place to start when trying to eliminate this problem is not to ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself. And if you think you would do it, try doing it all first before you expect it of others.
The third reason is that we have UNTRUE expectations. We group people, things and ideas in categories and brand them based on the experiences of others (stereotype). We never bother to take the time to find out for ourselves if those stereotypes are true. Take our sport for example. How many people do you know that brand us as redneck hicks that drive around in circles? They never bother to come to the track and spend the time to find out why we enjoy this so much. Often times we can eliminate untrue expectations by simply taking the time to do something or meet someone ourselves instead of taking someone else’s word for it.
Can I ask you a question? Do you do this to the Lord? Do you place Him and the idea of ‘church’ in a category based on what you hear about Him? Do you have unspoken expectations of Him? Or do you have unrealistic expectations of how the people who claim to follow Him should act? At one point or another I have said yes to all of these questions. It wasn’t until I spent time some time finding out about Him for myself that I was able to come to the conclusion that none of those expectations were right.
I can tell you of some great experiences that the Lord has brought me through. I can tell you of some tough ones as well. But it isn’t until you base your decision on the truth of searching Him out yourself that you will truly know who He is and how He works. Often you will find that the expectations you have are wrongly based for Him, his people and for life in general.
Try eliminating these expectations from your life and you will find that your relationships will run much more smoothly: personal, professional, and yes even spiritual.
With the election season upon us I’d like to take a moment to encourage you to vote this year. Many have died for the right to vote in our country and it is a fitting way to honor their memory by taking the simple time to go to the polls and do what they felt worthy to lose their life over.
Not only would I encourage you to vote, but when going to the polls I ask you to consider voting not what seems best in the eyes of the economy, or what is the popular societal choice or what’s best for your pocket, but rather consider what the issues are the Lord would be interested in. I submit to you that if you trust in God to provide for you, you need not worry about your finances, He will take care of that. But if we as a country ignore His desires for our direction, no elected official will be able to save us from the justice that must take place from the throne of the Lord. God loves us all dearly, but just as any good parent would discipline their child if they spit in their face, so must we be disciplined if we do it to God. Don’t put your faith in the promises of Washington to make you wealthy or meet your needs in this temporary existence; put your faith in the One True God who can really make it happen for eternity, and then vote accordingly. We all will be much better off in the end.
Matthew 18:7 “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!”
Have you ever heard the word ‘Gospel’ when someone talks about the Bible and wonder what it meant? Gospel is actually a Greek word which simply means Good News.
So what is the good news? Well, you have to read the Bible to actually get the whole story but I can sum it up for you. The one and only Holy Lord created everything that is, everything that we see, and everything that we don’t see. He also created Adam and Eve. He gave Adam and Eve one single rule. Adam and Eve were approached by Satan and given a choice, obey God’s rule or disobey God’s rule and choose to follow Satan. They chose to disobey. Because God is Holy he must punish disobedience (or sin), so death was introduced as the punishment. Death led to Hell with Satan whom Adam and Eve chose to follow. The Lord loved us however and didn’t want us to go to Hell so He came to earth in the form of Jesus to die for us so that our punishment was served out.
What’s ironic about the Gospel is it all comes back to the beginning. Just like Adam and Eve were given a choice by Satan (leading to hell with him), now the Lord has given everyone of us a choice (that leads to heaven with Him). Believe in Christ and the Bible, or don’t believe. Adam and Eve made their choice, but you get to choose for yourself. You see, we all are going to live forever, that isn’t the real question. The only real question is WHERE will you be spending forever.
Believe, or don’t believe; it really is that simple.
Thought for the Month - August 2008
One of the ways Satan tries to get us off of God’s purpose for our lives is to get us to do things we were not designed for. If he can get us to waste our time doing ‘good things’ but things we weren’t designed to do, then he can render us less effective than what we could be if we remain in Christ’s purpose. It may sound silly, but in the process of growing a flower, there are many parts: seed, water, fertilizer, sun, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc. If the water spends all of it’s time trying to be sunshine, the whole process would be out of balance and the flower wouldn’t be able to grow.
Likewise, sometimes when we are actually following the Lord’s purpose we come across tough times or situations that challenge our ability to be what we are supposed to be. These times can be from God and used to make us better at what we were designed for, or they could be Satan trying to get in the way of our purpose to make us ineffective. Take a racing shock for example. We put specific shocks on specific points on the car to achieve a certain result. When working properly with all of the other components on the car, the car as a whole runs smoothly and effectively. However, that shock could go bad internally, or it could get bent or damaged in an accident. (Two different causes, yet the same result – its purpose is challenged.) At this point it needs to have people come together to take it apart, fix, check, and put it back in working order to help the shock fulfill its purpose once again.
Our lives are not so different from that shock. Whether the Lord gives us internal struggles to let us know our lives need work, or Satan tries to derail us, there often comes times in our lives when we need others to help keep us working properly. That is why the Lord gave us the church. It is a body of supporters around us designed to carry each other to victory. Think of each of the members of the church as a part on the car and the church as whole is the car. When we allow ourselves to be used for our designed purpose, the car as a whole succeeds. However, if we spend our time trying to be something we weren’t designed for, the whole car suffers.
Too many times today people fear becoming a Christian because they think they will be asked to do things they don’t like to do or not allowed to do things they enjoy. While it is true that life as a Christian will change you, one must also realize that the Lord is the one who designed and created each one of us. He knows what areas He made you strong in and for what reason. He isn’t out to get you to change who you are, just to understand that He made you who you are so you could fulfill HIS purposes; and when you understand that you can truly enjoy all that He has created you to be, and you can help others do the same.
Thought for the Month -- July 2008
Last month we looked at why there is a place called Hell and why people go there even though God loves us. (See ‘thought for the month’ page for reference). While that explained how people end up in Hell, there is another danger to the thought process of
“If God loves me then why (insert negative item here)”
The problem is that while scripture tells us that God is love (1John 4:16), the Lord is so much more than that and we rarely hear about His other attributes. In my own scripture reading I have come across 26 other attributes that describe who the Lord is, and those are only the ones I’ve come across so far. That doesn’t count what I may have missed or haven’t gotten to yet. Here is a sampling of other words the Bible uses to tell us who the Lord is:
Creator, Consuming Fire, Shrewd, Salvation, Judge, Generous, Wise, Jealous, Eternal, Strong, Gentle, Righteous, Light, Glorious, Unchanging, Merciful, Vengeance
Further these are feelings the Lord has had in the Bible:
Anger, Distress, Frustration, Pain, Pity, Indignation, Love
Again this isn’t even a complete list but just a sampling of how the Lord is so much more than just love. It is worth noting these other parts of the Lord’s character when we ask questions of Him. Perhaps the more we get to know who He TRULY is, instead of just picking out one of His attributes, will give us a greater capacity to answer some of the questions that plague our everyday lives. And the Lord tells us that if we look for Him WITH ALL OUR HEART, He will hear us and we will find Him. He is waiting to reveal himself to you and give you insight into who He truly is…will you let Him show you?
Deuteronomy 4:29-31: …you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice 31 (for the LORD your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.
When I was growing up and had no knowledge of the Lord or who God was there was one question that people would ask that always made me take pause and consider it myself. “If God loves us, why would He send us to hell?” While it is an intriguing question and one that makes us wonder, it is answerable once you understand it. Like many of the lies Satan feeds to us to get us to question God, it has just enough truth in it to seem plausible, but in reality he is just twisting the Lord’s words. As Satan did with Eve in the Garden of Eden, he wants us to distrust the Lord and follow his own rebellion against God; and ironically that is how we end up in hell.
In Matthew 25 (read below) Jesus talks about the end of time when all mankind will come before Him for judgment. (We tend not to like the word judgment because it evokes many different feelings inside of us that we don’t care for. However, once we learn of Christ’s payment for our sins, judgment no longer evokes those feelings). If you take notice of verse 41 in particular, we can see that when Jesus dismisses people into hell, He states that hell is “an everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” People who go to hell were not created for hell, nor was hell created for people; but rather hell was created for Satan and his demons. The ONLY reason people go to hell is that they choose to follow Satan rather than following the Lord. So in reality, God sends NO ONE to hell, rather people CHOOSE hell when by their heart and their actions they deny Jesus and follow Satan and his lies.
The simple fact is that God did not create us as robots, and aren’t you GLAD He didn’t. He gave us the freedom to make our own choices. Then He gave us Jesus Christ as an option to be freed from the consequence of hell that was created for Satan and his followers. The choice is up to you where you spend eternity, God has given you options. The only question is, who are you going to follow? Remember it isn’t enough just to say you aren’t going to follow Satan’s ways; it takes a heartfelt decision to follow Jesus that will bring you a new joy and the peace of knowing that your eternity is secure in heaven with Him!
Jesus says in John 14:1-4: 1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going."
31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[c] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him,[d] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Have you ever thought that your lack of money could actually be a blessing by the Lord? It’s tough to think of it that way, especially in racing because we all know that money can buy a lot of things to help make you a successful racer: stronger engine, lightweight parts, newest technology, dyno time, track rental time and much more. There are many things however that money cannot buy you that are just as valuable such as experience, seat time, knowledge, luck, and of course wins.
Conversely have you ever thought that having the ability to get whatever you want whenever you want might be a curse? It sounds ridiculous, but if you examine it in spiritual terms it will make more sense.
The problem with money is that when we have money as humans, we tend to rely on it. We expect it to always be there, to keep us happy, and to get us what we want. Sometimes we even use it to try to buy things that cannot be purchased, like the affection of our children, or the love of our spouse. We base our marriages on it and when it goes away they fall apart. We base our feelings of security upon it and when it goes away we get scared or angry. People who don’t have it sometimes do stupid things to get it like rob banks or commit fraud.
Take a look at what Jesus warns us about in Matthew 19:23-26:
“23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
We should never allow money to be what determines our happiness, what we base our life or relationships upon, or what we put our hope in. When we do that we put money in the place in our lives that God ALONE should hold, and we put ourselves on very dangerous ground. Money cannot save our souls, it cannot provide us life after death, it cannot keep our marriages together and it cannot provide us any security or hope. But all of these things the Lord CAN do and is WILLING to do if only you will put your faith in His son Jesus Christ.
So as you can see, not having money can be a blessing in disguise. It is hard to rely on something that you don’t have to begin with, which makes it easier to look to Christ for your blessing. And if you do have money, be careful not to make it your source of comfort. For it lasts only as long as you live, and you can’t take it with you when you die.
9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
Pursue Christ and you will gain TRUE riches that last far beyond this lifetime.
In memory of Greg Schoonover and Sara Yorty
This past month, two local families had to experience the toughest situation in all of life, the death of a loved one. Many of you know the racing community lost a family member when 11 year old Greg Schoonover died in an accident in his back yard as he prepared for the racing season. While I never had the privilege of meeting this young man, just knowing he was a racer makes him a member of the family, as it is with the entire racing community. It seems there are never words to say that provide enough comfort, or actions to take that provide enough support to others to erase the hole that is left when someone close to them is gone forever. Rather what needs to be said always seems to have been left unsaid, without the chance to ever communicate it again.
That is why we need to take the initiative to say things while we are alive. It is why we at Jesus Race Team do what we do and say what we say here each and every month. We care about our fellow racers…our extended family, and we want you all to know the comfort of the truth of Jesus’ power over death that is waiting for you if only you reach out and meet Him.
I lost a close friend of mine two weeks ago as well when the second local family I referred to lost a loved one. Miss Sara Yorty was the first person to introduce me to the Lord Jesus Christ. Sara went out for an afternoon hike and slipped down a hill breaking a hip and an ankle. She attempted to crawl to safety but died as a result of hypothermia before she got there. Sara was 31 years young. There is a measure of sadness in her passing; because there were things I left unsaid, not expecting that she would be gone so soon. Yet because of the things she taught me about Jesus, I can also be joyful for her passing, and unmistakably certain that she is with Him. I also have a peace inside me that goes beyond words in knowing that when I die, I will be in heaven with both of them. Thanks to Sara, and many other people the Lord placed in my life, I get to go out on the track each and every week with the confidence knowing that even if anything should happen to me in the car, I am safe in the knowledge that heaven is my final destination. My family and friends can rejoice even in the sadness of my absence by knowing that I will be better off when I am dead than I ever was here on earth. Does that mean I have a death wish? Absolutely not! I like roll cages, five point harnesses, fire suits and keeping my car on it’s wheels. But I also know that no fuel bladder or HANS device or containment seat can keep me from the eventual conclusion to life that we all face. Like Greg and Sara, I’m only a backyard accident, or a slip of the foot away from the inevitable.
We all could very well be just a moment away from our last breath, racer or not, and that is why I think more than worrying about having the safest car on the track, we first need to make sure we have prepared our souls for what inevitably lies ahead of us. Then we can race and do what we enjoy with the comfort and security that no piece of safety equipment can ever offer!
Hebrews 2:14-15 “Since the children have flesh and blood, Jesus too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Romans 10:9-10, 13 “That if you confess 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 confess and are saved. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The excitement of new beginnings is upon us as another racing season prepares to get underway. Perhaps you have purchased a new car or changed classes and the anticipation is high as the season approaches. Looking forward, many of you anticipate opportunities for your first win or maybe a big race payoff or maybe a championship.
But what about the letdown?
We all have felt what I’m talking about. The night you go out and flip your brand new car, or destroy the 600 you just bought. The night you watch your win slip away because of a flat tire or the championship gets out of reach because of too many bad finishes. Even if we are successful in reaching whatever goal we have set for ourselves, at some point in the future our dissatisfaction will return. The wins give way to more races, the big money earnings gets spent, and the championships fade until no one remembers you anymore. Even the best of the best, at some point in the future, people will hear their name and have no idea who they were.
So how do we avoid “the letdown”?
The key is not putting all of our hope and joy into anything here on earth, and that includes racing. Does that mean we shouldn’t enjoy racing? Absolutely not! We should enjoy the blessings the Lord provides to us, but they shouldn’t become of greater importance to us than the Lord Himself.
I was the perfect example of this imbalance. For the longest time I lived for the weekends. It’s what got me through the weekdays, just knowing that come Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, I’d be at the track. It made the week bearable. Come Monday though, I always had that empty feeling, like Friday was too far away and I didn’t know if I could make it. Racing was like a parachute, it saved me from the freefall of everyday life. Only one problem, my parachute had a hole, and after a while it didn’t save me from my everyday life anymore. What I had used to create some semblance of joy and hope in my life was no longer joyful to me but just another aspect of everyday life that was just a pain to deal with.
What I discovered later in learning about Jesus Christ is that nothing on this earth could have pacified the emptiness I felt inside: not racing, not marriage or relationships, not success, not money. While the Lord blesses us all with different things here on earth, none of those things bring EVERLASTING joy. That shouldn’t be a surprise because nothing on this earth is everlasting. Everyone dies. Everything will change. Nothing is forever. So it would seem in order to avoid the letdown, one would need to find something to put their hope in that never changes.
Enter the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.”
It’s amazing how your perspective can change once your hope lies in something eternal and everlasting like the Lord as opposed to trying to find it in something that is temporal like, well, everything else in this life. While cares and concerns in this life are still important, they aren’t AS important as they once were. Your bad job doesn’t seem so bad because it isn’t what you’ll be doing forever. Your lack of money isn’t that important because money won’t help you in the next life anyway. Your hope is no longer in things of this world anymore but rather it lies in Christ and in the next life, the one that lasts forever. If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him alone, scripture tells us that you can be certain that your eternal resting place will be with Him in Heaven.
That’s a parachute that will never fail.
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by Himself, saying, "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants." And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.