Swing and a Miss

You have heard the guy say they took a big swing at things and made some big changes to get the car fast. You have also heard the guy say that they have been chasing the problems all season only to get to the “off season” and tear the car down to find the root problem.
What a great lesson for each one of us on both fronts: 1) we want to have God change us and we need to be willing to change and to accept the change and 2) we don’t want to just deal with the surface sin, we want to dig deep to the stuff underneath and find the root sin that needs to be dealt with. Are you being intentional at digging out sin?

Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Echo, echo, echo. We have seen this before. We don’t want to follow man’s way we want to follow the LORD. Look at where man’s way leads to. God is serious about this

Proverbs 16:26 A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.
At first I thought about this verse and said God I don’t understand what You are trying to say. Then I thought about a couple of things. It is good to be hungry. One, to be hungry for the LORD and for the Word of God and two, to be physically hungry so that we work hard and for the right reasons.

Proverbs 17:27 A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire.
What are your plans? Short term? Long term? Do you have an intentional plan to pour God’s Word into peoples lives around you?
Second, did your words lift someone up this week or tear them down?

Proverbs 16:28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
What are you spreading? This week, what did you spread? Lies or truth? Again, uplifting or breaking someone down? We are also reminded here that our words can harm friendship. Not that every word is going to be right and there must be a place for forgiveness but we do want to think much before we speak. I know that is an ongoing challenge for me.

Proverbs 16:29-30 A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good. Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things; he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
We can see a theme today. God is really challenging us in the area of what we say, how we say it and what our actions are. Where are we leading those around us? Hopefully we are leading in righteousness and not worthlessness. Good not evil. Think about that. Second, we again think about our plans. Stop and really think about them. What do you want to get done next week? Is one of your goals to know God, to know Jesus more on Saturday than on Monday? What are you going to intentionally do to accomplish that goal?

We are going to stop here and next week come back and finish this section

Have great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Todd

A Direct Hit

This may be a little strange to talk about in chapel or on a chaplain’s blog but have you been punched? How about right in the nose? You know my past and yes there were times. I remember one in particular that I got a direct hit and the guy was not very strong but very fast. I was not able to slide to the side at all and just took it. It got my attention quickly and it was a question of grabbing him and tearing him apart before he got away or walking away. I chose to walk away. Every day we face decisions of what to do in situations. Those choices will effect what happens going forward. As we study through Proverbs every verse, even down to the part of a verse can challenge us. What will we do with this one? Are we going to just skim over it? Are we going to read it? Are we going to stop and really think about it? Are we going to embrace it and try to learn it and obey it? How open are we to the Holy Spirit doing a work in us? The verses today of course are going to be echoes of things we have covered but don’t just skip over them. Slow down.

Proverbs 16:17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life.
This is another echo of other verses in Proverbs but one I need to hear often. If you and I are saved we should be turning from sin, from evil. Others should see what is changing in our lives. What is the last sin you have intentionally dealt with? What sin would you like to deal with? What is your plan? What changes do you need to make? How sincerely has your prayer reflected this?

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Bam! There is the one that connects square on the chin or nose. God does not pull any punches here. There are times the LORD is gentle and times He is direct. Here He is very direct. His thoughts on pride are clear and concise. Pride will destroy. It is dangerous. There is harm to all that are filled with pride. It may not show up right away. It can be hidden for some time but at some point there will be judgment and direct judgment. The words used here denote broken bones, dismantling of the body. That does not sound pleasant. Do you ask the LORD to search you for pride often? It would be a good practice to get into.

Proverbs 16:19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.
God tells us what we are to be. We are to be lowly in spirit. Humble!

Proverbs 16:20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
Amen!
Sit back and read that again, and again and again. Let it sink in deep.

Proverbs 16:21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
Here are things that please the LORD: wise (wisdom); discernment; words that lift up, that teach. The last word would be better translated “doctrine” or “learning” God is concerned with our words and He wants us to share His Word with others around us. He has put each one of us in a mission field. It may be our home, our neighborhood, our school, our team, our work place, etc… Don’t miss sharing today.

Proverbs 16:22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly. The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
There really is good thinking and bad thinking. I know we don’t want to be in the second camp. We want to think well. We want to think truth but we can easily get off base, off truth. That is why it is important to be open to the Holy Spirit and to be open to what other strong believers say to us. Did you catch the tie with the heart and the mouth? How about our words and health? Stop and think about that some more.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Todd

Gold or Silver?

Do you want to be the winner of tonight’s race? Why? Why do we want to win so badly? What is it that would drive a person to focus so much of our life on getting to the finish line first? Why would someone spend hours in a shop working on a car? Because of the golden trophy? Because it is fun. Because it gets us excited. It is the thrill of victory. It is the thrill of competing, being on the edge. It is the sound and smells of racing. There is much to this sport to enjoy both for the young and the older ones. But our focus on racing can over shadow the LORD too easily and we have to have a correct balance in life. Proverbs helps us with that balance as it challenges us with statements that lead to accountability. Let’s continue.

Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
How intentional are you in pleasing the LORD? I know the questions I ask are not easy ones, at least they are not easy for me, but they are important to ask and answer. Do you purpose to please, to obey God?

Proverbs 16:8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.
What is more important to you? Your money or your morality? Your riches or your righteousness? What does your credit card statement say? What does you bank statement say?

Proverbs 16:9, 10 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. An oracle is on the lips of a king; his mouth does not sin in judgment.
Here we are again, the heart vs. what the LORD has. Can you see the clear picture, the case, God is building that we need to watch our heart closely and instead focus on the LORD so we are guided by the Spirit of God.

Proverbs 16:11 A just balance and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work.
We are back to honesty. Are you honest in what you say and what you do? Are you honest in your home, at work, in school, in church, in play, on the track, in the tech shed, in your deals?

Proverbs 16:12-15 It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness. Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right. A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it. In the light of a king’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
How many world and national leaders, even state and local leaders could you give this verse to and them not really see them care or react? Going back to the passion week, think about the leaders’ reaction there. Anger, spite, revenge with a few having a hint of fear. But you are a leader too, in your marriage, in your family. Are you leading well?

Proverbs 16:16 How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
When I think gold and silver I may think something different than you do. I think Olympics and in specific I think wrestling. I have the pleasure of knowing several men that have gone to the Olympics and won medals. I have seen the medals. Ben Peterson passes them around at the youth camps saying that they are the USA wins. His stories are great. But he will point to Jesus as much more valuable than the medals. As we have often spoken of in Proverbs only the LORD gives us wisdom and understanding. What would you rather have, the gold and silver or the wisdom and understanding? Be honest as you answer.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Todd

Memorial Day 2016

First off we have to extend our condolences to the DiMaggio family and friends and to the other families involved. Our hearts are heavy.

Saying Happy Memorial Day is like saying Happy Easter, it really does not make much sense. Not too much to be happy about on Memorial Day. There are too many who paid a high price and too many families and friends that lost loved ones. The cost was so high for them and so great for them and we, I, get the benefit from their payment – freedom. So as we celebrate please stop and think. Like with many holidays we miss the true meaning. For this holiday let’s stop to remember the fallen. Remember the families. Remember the freedom did not come cheap.

Also let’s remember and think upon Jesus. He too paid a price and suffered. Unlike soldiers, He was perfect and sinless. He was selfless. He fought a war and an enemy for our sin and freedom. This battle would have eternal value not just national and comfort value. This war opened the way for salvation for every one that will bow and surrender to Jesus Christ as LORD.

Do you want to be bound up in suffering and pain? We are not talking about minutes, hours, days, months, years. We are talking about eternity of pain and agony. Stop and think about that. Our sin buys us eternity in hell. Hell is real, as real as air, as real as life. Don’t be blinded by the enemy. Think about warfare. The enemy is attacking and trying to destroy. That is what the devil is doing. He is trying to blind us, lie to us, and fool us.

On the other hand, God, the Father; God the Son, Jesus; God the Holy Spirit is offering us and presenting eternal life in Heaven. On His terms we have to follow. We need to admit we have sinned (Rom 3:23; 6:23) and can’t save our self. We have to agree that Jesus is the only one and the only way to eternal life (John14:6; Acts 4:12). We have to agree that Jesus is LORD (Rom 10:9,10). We have to repent and turn from our way to God’s way (Acts 3:19, Luke 13:3). He took our penalty when He suffered and died on the cross for our sin (Phil 2:8; Col 2:14,15). He rose from the dead and defeated death 1 Cor 15:12-23; 15: 50-57).

Think about that as you enjoy the freedoms we have on this weekend.

Todd

And thank you to each person who is serving and has served!

Instructions to Follow

A close knit team is one of the keys to success on the track. If a team is fractured and going in different directions is it very unlikely that you will get wins or high finishes. It is the same with work and important as a family. Here are some instructions to follow.

Proverbs 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
Clear and simple! That is what this verse is. Yet this verse is packed with jewels of extraordinary value. Stop and think about that. Echo, how much, how high of value do you place on God’s Word? I know we have been challenged in Proverbs often on that. Are you living it out? Has there been a change in how you read? How you study? How you memorize?
Back to the verse at hand. Loneliness is not fun. The enemy tries to divide and conquer. He wants to ground in our heart and in our obedience and our love for the LORD. God wants to be near. Yet, we too often want our selfish ways. Do you see the pattern? Do you see the problem? In the first part of the verse we see the LORD will not accept the wicked in His presence. He only allows the contrite in heart near Him. Than we see He hears the prayer of the righteous. Now the catch to this is a) we all sin and God draws those humble in and b) none are righteous but are made so by God. I hope that is not too complex, I know it is complex to me but just another reason we have to look at all of Scripture not just pick out a verse or part of a verse and make conclusions or Theology upon fractions of Scripture. We need to look at the whole of Scripture in a totality way.
I have much I could write on prayer but I hope you live a life of prayer. It is one of the greatest “habits”, “disciplines” we can have in the Christian walk and life.

Proverbs 15:30 The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.
Light and good news! Do you bring light and good news to those around you? God talks in His Word often about light and how Jesus is light and likewise His Word. Shine it brightly! Share it. Don’t hide it under a basket. Don’t falsify or confuse light, true light an untruth or error.
Good news – remember the old tract? The good news is that yes we have sinned but Jesus died to pay for our sin; we can be saved by repenting, placing our faith, and calling out on Jesus as LORD knowing that He was raised from the dead and appeared to His disciples and others.

Proverbs 15:31 The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.
Echo! Reproof, discipline, is a good thing if we want to be found wise. Do you really want to be found wise? What are you doing to get there? Stop and really think about that. What intentional, practical steps are you taking?

Proverbs 15:32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
Here again we are in an echo teaching. God is teaching us again that we are to listen, not ignore. What does it mean to actively listen? If you have ever gone to a marriage or parenting training or conference you have heard the answer. The agenda we have in listening or ignoring is very telling. We are to hear the words and try to understand what is really being spoken, not what we want to hear but what is said. We often get in trouble listening by not hearing what is really said. We are told in this verse we can “gain” by listening to reproof. This listening to reproof has within its meaning, to learn, to obey.

Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.
This is occurrence number 7 of 11 where we get reminded, fear of the LORD. Like we said last time, each one is tied to something. This one is tied to humility. We all like some attention and honor. Here is how we get it from the LORD, not that we earn that, but that we come low before Him. Are you able to do that? It is almost never heard of, at least in my family. We talk a lot about it, but it is hard to live. This could be a powerful game changer if we can live it out.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Todd

If or When

There is always much to pray about. No difference today as we think of several people and families.

The kids and I were going up to home school group and talking about sports. We were talking about the mindset that it takes to be a champion. We all agreed that if you go into a game, match, race, thinking you are going to lose most likely you are going to lose. If you go into those events saying, “I am the winner” you are prideful and it is crushing to lose. We agreed that there is a balance and that you need to put in the hard work, be consistent in your practice, play hard, be physically and mentally ready, eat and sleep right and balanced and then leave it in God’s hands. So do you say, “if” or “when”?

Back to our study.

Proverbs 15:24 The path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.
Great verse as are most that we see and study and live in Proverbs. The ‘path of life’ that is spoken of is a trial, a road that has high volume of traffic. It is well trodden. It is like the perfect groove on the race track. What did Trickle say about The Mile? You either hit the 8” groove or you are going to have a bad, slow corner. The word ‘above’ is not just a little above but exceedingly high. It is right and good to fight for following God and His Word. It is prudent. Just to drive the point home, the word ‘Sheol’ is hell. We have to intentionally turn away from sin, from hell, from our selfish desires. This is a battle and it is ongoing. And we need to fight together not as lone soldiers.

Proverbs 15:25 The Lord tears down the house of the proud but maintains the widow’s boundaries.
God makes it very clear what He thinks of the proud. He does not like it, pride. Again, He does not like pride. Does He still love the sinner? Yes. But the sin – not at all. Pride is one of the most difficult sins to flush out. It can hide in so many places in our heart and life. It often takes others around us to show us pride. I know this is a battle because I see it in people close to me, ok, really close, ok, I see it in my life. It is driven by self, by comfort, by want, by power… It is good to have a set of accountability questions and go through them often. It is good to examine our actions and words. Like any sin we can have victory but it will only come if we are broken and the Holy Spirit does the work in us.

Proverbs 15:26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure.
Here we are again with the strong word, ‘abomination’. God detests sin. God hates sin. It is not the joking matter that we too often make it. Can you, can we, get it? Is there a clear picture? I often remind myself and my kiddos that sin is like vomit. We would never stand or sit in vomit. The stench is awful. On the other side of that are pure words. They are pleasing to the LORD. They are fresh and bring life and I know in my family they are not frequent enough. Can you be, can I be, more intentional at using gracious words? Let’s work on it. Let’s hope so.

Proverbs 15:27 Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live.
I hear it often that we need to be able to separate our work week from Sunday. THAT IS NOT TRUE! I think it is a huge reason we are where we are as a nation. I think it is a huge reason why we are where we are as a church both as individual churches and as The Church (I realize this term can be confusing and maybe I need to write some clarification but not here).
This verse addresses greed and gain. We are to be honest in our business dealings but on a personal level and on a work level. How do you handle that? Are you honest in dealing with transactions of money and things?

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
WOW, do I need to hear this and be challenged often here. I need to stop and think before I react and speak. I can too easily react and speak emotionally rather than stopping and clearing the thoughts and finding truth. When we respond quickly we, or at least I, often respond without love or kindness and lack compassion, grace and mercy. Maybe you struggle with this. Let’s slow down before we speak. It is ok.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Todd