Where You Start, Where You Finish, or What You Do Between – Which is Best?

What is more important? How we start? How we finish? How we are in the middle? Which one is most important in a race? I would say finish but how we start and what is done in the middle of a race can be just as important and leads to where the finish is. Starting on the pole and wrecking is not good. Starting on the pole and having a bad set up and drifting to the back of the pack is not good. Starting in the back and working your way through the field for a win or top 3, 5, or 10 finish is good. Starting on the pole and running a smooth, good race for the win, now that is fun!
The same can be said in life. The finish is critical but that does not excuse us from obeying and following the LORD God in the middle and start. It is best to have continual surrender, humility, servant hood.

Proverbs 15:17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.
We finish with a “better” verse and we start with one this study. This verse can tie to the ones we will see on marriage and family. How is it around your dinner table? Do you take time to gather as a family often? One of the things I like about racing is the family aspect. I often see families gathered at the car/hauler. It is so good to bring the family together and often. I know for many that cannot happen every dinner but at the least 2 or 3 times a week. Make those times meaningful and memorable in a good way.

Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
Nine times “slow to anger” is said in the Old Testament. They are all interesting verses to look at as they are tied to what God wants to see in us. Are you calming or stirring? There is a place for both but I hope I lean more to the calming side and especially in the home.

Proverbs 15:19 The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.
Thirteen times “sluggard” is used in the Bible, all in Proverbs and we are on number 5 of 13. Might be a good idea to look at all 13 together and see what we can learn but I will continue to look at them as they come up.
Having a thorn is not comfortable. Getting scraped by a throne is even more painful. Get the picture? Be the upright person not the sluggard.

Proverbs 15:20 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.
What does the picture of your family look like? The first or the second statement? It does not matter if you are young or older. God wants us to be the wise son or daughter.

Proverbs 15:21 Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.
Twenty-two times ‘folly’ is used in Proverbs. All are used in things the Christian should not be. How is your walk?

Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.
Here is a verse deserving of emphasis. Too many of us try to go alone in life. Our pride, our fear, our lack of love all play a part of keeping us separate. They are all tools the evil one uses to keep us apart instead of together. It is so important to have a mentor and be a mentor and have accountability partners and those guys you just hang out together with. We need to have the guy in our life that will both encourage us and challenge us. I have heard dozens of messages lately reminding me of the importance of this. Do you have those relationships?

Proverbs 15:23 To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!
Here is some good encouragement. It is good to lift others up. It is good to have a real joy and peace. We do that with our words and actions. Timing is important. We can say the same words with the same stress in voice at different times and they can be received completely differently. Please, speaking to myself, think before you speak.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Todd

Air Pressure

Do you find it interesting how much time is spent on checking the air pressure in the tires? That guy or gal seems to have the gauge in every time I turn around. There are small adjustments made throughout the day or night trying to get the exact right air pressure for the car to perform at it’s best level.
Well, in our Christian walk and life we too should be checking the gauges and especially our mouth, heart and fear of the LORD. Let’s study on…

Proverbs 15:12 A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.
This is a great teaching to instill in our young ones. Going to Facebook is not the place for answers. Nova and TV are not going to give you truth on creation or history. How do our kiddos react to being taught and/or being disciplined? We get the word reproved from ‘yakach’ which carries the meaning convict or correct.

Proverbs 15:13 A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
Don’t those people that are always smiling bug you? How can they be that happy? They can’t be? They are hiding something. I hear that as I smile a lot. There are times I am just trying to make an impact by smiling. Often I am just thinking of the things to come – Heaven! Or the blessings of the family. Or the wonders of God. Look at the other side of the person that has always got the frown on their face. I often walk by and have two thoughts, a) sad that life is so bad and hard on this person but b) I pray that the person will see the hope and truth there is in Jesus. The saying “smile Jesus loves you” really is a great one.

Proverbs 15:14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
Hey, listen up, [with the snap of fingers loudly in the mic]. That is what one of my instructors did when he wanted us to really get something. Oh, and he had a booming voice too so all sleepers were abruptly awakenedJ.
As I read this verse I think of God saying, “I know I am repeating this teaching, but I want to get your attention, your full attention and more than your attention, I want you to obey and live this. If we look at what you and I seek what would we conclude? Are you really, intentional, obediently seeking God and His knowledge or more so folly? We know how we want to be seen but what is really there when God searches our heart? What does He find? What does He uncover? Stop and really think about that and if you are led to confess and repent that is a good thing not a bad thing.

Proverbs 15:15 All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.
As I sit here and think and pray through what to say here I think how we can look at the rich and see they are not all that godly and in some cases violate all of God’s law. So they are rich, they eat great feasts, they have the “big” things but if you dig past that, what is found? Most of the time there is crisis, there is empty life, there is a need that will come out. Often as they are being sent to court, jail or the hospital. Do you think God would say this and not mean it? NOT A CHANCE! What God says He means. Look at the last part of this verse. It really is a distinguishing mark of the Christian, the smile and cheerful heart.

Proverbs 15:16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.
Do you remember the verse on the fear of the LORD? How often do you think about the fear of the LORD? How often do you deliberately look at this truth? I do find the word “little” interesting. Why would God accept a “little” fear of the LORD? As to not get confused I dug and the root word (ma at) is most often figuratively used to compare (see Psalm 37:16 Proverbs 16:8). God is still saying “love the LORD your God with ALL of your heart, soul, strength, mind (Dt 6:5; Mark 12:30)”.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Todd

What to Do?

What would you do if you won the lottery? I mean the mega bucks one. For me it would be quite the deal as I don’t play the lottery so that would be the first shock to get over. We can see where our heart and thinking is if we build a list of ‘what we would do”. We will come back to this at the end.

Proverbs 15:6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.
What a clear picture of what God wants to see in our money. He wants us to be faithful and He wants us to be good stewards remembering that we our His and we have a responsibility.

Proverbs 15:7 The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools.
We see the connection between the heart and the mouth again. We also see God reminding us again that we are to spread knowledge, spread the Word of God. We have a privilege and honor. Don’t neglect the gift you are given.

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.
We can sacrifice in a holy way or a wicked way (selfish way). It is a great thing to be living prayer. Do you? How serious are you about prayer? This too is a great privilege. I hope you are intentional in your prayer life. Remember much of our prayer needs to be listening to the LORD and praising Him

Proverbs 15:9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but he loves him who pursues righteousness.
What are you pursuing? I know we have touched on this several times throughout the study of Proverbs. Are you running with all your might towards the LORD and righteousness? We should be. Lets remind ourselves what the word ‘abomination’ is. Websters says, “something that causes disgust or hatred”. That is pretty strong language. God is serious about how we act and think and speak.

Proverbs 15:10 There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.
This is how serious God is. He declares there WILL be discipline and not just discipline. It will be severe. And think about that, God’s type severe discipline cannot be pleasant. Do you try to find when God is disciplining or do you just blow it off?

Proverbs 15:11 Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!
I know I keep saying this but here is a key verse. It is good for us to remember that God see us for who we really are. He sees our motive and true thoughts. He sees the good and the bad. We cannot escape from Him in a good way or bad way. That should help us in our thinking and decision process.

Back to first paragraph. So what would you do? Where did you find your heart was? Most of us would build a list and life that is comfortable and for self but we all know most of those winners a) get ripped off by “friends” and family and b) end up broke and in debt. That is crazy. It would be much better to put your time and effort into the LORD and His work. There are true riches found in a life and heart that follows the LORD and His ways. Take a look at Psalm 119 and combine it with Proverbs teaching. How about it?

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Todd

Here’s March, The Lion and the Lamb

They say if March comes in like a lion it will go out like a lamb. Looks like we are going to get that this year as the snow is supposed to fly tonight and tomorrow and some more to come. What makes it even more interesting is to think about the Bible and how it talks about the lamb that has to be sacrificed for the forgiveness of sin, that blood has to be shed and to think we remember that at the end of this month. Hopefully you think about that a lot more than just once a year. Hopefully you think about it often. So to help you think about it I wrote about the “Come Back Kid” and now let’s think about the Lion and the Lamb.

Let’s start with the Lion. What do you think of when you think of a Lion? I know my kids think of Narnia and Aslan. For me, I think of powerful and strong. I think of the zoo and the large mane slow walking back and forth thinking, “lunch time”. The Bible calls Jesus a Lion in the following verse:
Revelation 5:5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Psalm 28:6,7 Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
Psalm 59:9,10 O my Strength, I will watch for you, for you, O God, are my fortress. My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.
Can you picture the might that there is in the LORD?

When we get to the end of the month of March this year we reflect and celebrate Good Friday and Easter, Resurrection Sunday. Here is the other side of the month, the Lamb. Listen to what Scripture says:

John 1:29
1 Corinthians 5:7b For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
Leviticus 17:11 .
Hebrews 9:22 .

How can you read those verses and not be moved. I mean moved with a deep sense of awe and WOW. I would ask that you read those verses a few time and really let God sink them into your heart.

Because Jesus is the Lamb of God, He alone paid the price of our sin. Have you turned to Him for salvation? Have you recognized your sin and repented? Have you called out to Jesus as LORD? Have you turned your life over to Him? If you want to really celebrate and understand Friday and Sunday you need to do those things. Please take time to consider what God has to say in His Word. He wants you to join Him not to be separated from Him.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Todd

Come Back Kid

We have seen a bunch of cool come-from-behind wins. Guys a lap plus down, a guy that went in to the pits and comes back through the field, a driver that comes through the field after bad qualifying or mechanical issues in practice. A few years ago Sports Illustrated did a story on great come backs. It was a cool list. They would obviously add Kyle Busch to it after being down and out with the leg injury and coming back and to win the championship. To be continued later in the message.

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
I know we have talked about this before but here again is a clear picture and teaching and it is important for us to catch and live out. We are to be calm and gentle. Our answers should be soft and kind. Being short, being harsh, being angry is not Christ like.

Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
Echo! It is clear that God wants to get our attention in this area. It is clear what He thinks and wants from us and for us to do. The LORD is telling us that we can be measured by our tongue. So, how are you doing, today, this week? Were your words filled with knowledge, wisdom or were they filled with self and folly and the world?

Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
We don’t get a lot of glimpses into who God is in Proverbs. There are plenty of other places to find the over one thousand things we can know about God through the study of the Bible but we get one here. God sees everything. We cannot get away with anything. He never turns His back and misses our actions or thoughts. Think about that.

Proverbs 15:4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Back to the tongue and our words. We should be gentle in our words. What does that look like? What should that look like? Then we switch to the other side. Do we want a broken spirit? I hope not. We need to check our words. We need to not use foul, perverse language. Take a stand in your mind against such things.

Proverbs 15:5 A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.
Here is a big deal in our house right now. We could do a full message series on it but I will try to be brief. We have touched on it many times in the study of Proverbs. God wants us to listen and obey our father. It helps us establish obedience with our earthly Dad and then turn that towards our Heavenly Father. That is what this is all about. What an example we can be if we will obey both.

As we get about a month away from Easter give some thought to this:
Back to our account on Come Back Kid. In the story in SI they noted that the great come back was Jesus Christ and His come back from the dead. Even they know the truth of Jesus and His greatness and greatest act of love. Think about it, He was crucified and died and rose from the dead to pay for my sin and our sin. He demands that we repent. Interestingly He says we can come in any condition and sin but He does not allow us to stay in our sin. He wants us to sell out to Him. To just say a prayer or repeat someone else and never desire to change is not faith, it is not trust, it is not salvation. IF we never intend to change to be more like the new and put away the old we have played a game with our self and God is not fooled. He knows our heart and our intent. So do you want to live out the greatest comeback ever? If you do, look in the mirror and see your sin and call it out and then call out on Jesus to save you. Change directions and be saved. I would love to hear from you.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Todd

Preparation

One of the most important moments in a race happens prior to the race. It is in that time before you go out on the track or before the “Gentlemen, start your engines” command. No matter what the sport there is “that moment” or time before when nerves ramp up. My son Manny wrestles and we have had a lot of talk about how to prepare. He can just stand and watch what is going on around him. It seems to work for him often but it is interesting to watch the different pre-match preparation. Some run, bike, or go through some moves such as single or double leg, slide by’s etc… Some listen to music others don’t. Some have their hoodies on and up. Some slap themselves in the head. Some jump around and a few kneel and pray. In each case they are trying to block out distractions and focus. We need to do the same in our focus on the LORD daily. Hopefully this study is helping in focusing us on the LORD and His ways.

Proverbs 14:28-29 In a multitude of people is the glory of a king, but without people a prince is ruined. Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. What a powerful reminder to be slow in our anger. We are reminded quite often that we are to not get angry. Anger is just wanting our own way over others. We are told temper exalts folly. Don’t give in to this.

Proverbs 14:30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. See the two sides of this? What does the word tranquil bring to your mind? I think calm, peaceful, restful, relaxed. We are to have that kind of heart instead of one of anger or envy.

Proverbs Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.This one is serious. God says we insult Him when we don’t help the poor. When is the last time you were intentional in helping the poor? This is an easy time of the year to help the poor. We just talked about this. We honor the LORD when we give correctly.

Proverbs 14:32 The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing, but the righteous finds refuge in his death. Again a clear contrast is given. The wicked is crushed by the weight of evil. It is not a joking matter. We should be searching to see our sin in the mirror to confess it and repent. We should be seeking revival. The righteous knows what is ahead and although none of us look forward to death we can have a hope that makes it so we don’t fear death.

Proverbs 14:33 Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding, but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools. Listen to the echo! There is rest in wisdom. That peace that comes from knowing you are following the LORD. That joy that He alone can bring. Here is an interesting, almost side note type ending of the verse but a grand point – but it (wisdom) makes itself known even in the midst of fools. Think about that. The wicked know when they are sinning and they know wisdom and right. The question becomes will they acknowledge this or not. Stop and really think about that.

Proverbs Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. This is a puzzling verse to me as I don’t know if we as a nation really can distinguish right from wrong. Let me draw some lines but before I do let me remind you that I don’t vote for either of the big two parties because they are so corrupt. Are we thinking correctly on abortion? I think God is clear that He does not approve of abortion. Are we thinking rightly on creation vs. evolution? God makes it very clear that it is creation and in 6 days. Gun control? Do we really need guns that shoot multiple quick rounds? I don’t know anyone that shoots more than a bullet or two to get a deer. We could cover a good number of other issues that I just don’t think we are thinking truthfully about, but you get the picture. Look at the end of the verse. Do you think America is bothered by sin, its sin? I don’t think so.

Proverbs 14:35 A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor, but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully. Again an echo of not getting away with sin and wrath will fall on the sinner. So are you being purposeful in pursuing the LORD and following His ways? Not just talking about it but really doing it. Set your heart, mind and soul on the LORD and with all your effort and vigor do what is right in His sight.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Todd