GoodFriday and Happy Easter, Resurrection Day 2014

If we just jump in a car not knowing much about racing and try to turn laps we are not going to get far. Pretty soon the wall is going to get up close and personal with you. You can be a long time fan and attend hundreds of races. Maybe you have even been in the pits and sat in a car but it is a huge difference to drive one. Even one of the guys I talked to this week at Rockford said it was not bad out on the track alone but knew it was going to be much more challenging once they were side by side racing. I have heard plenty of fans talk about how the driver could have or they could have but that is funny when you get them behind the wheel then things are not quite the same.

I say all this because I was thinking this week about this. A fan can be blind to a lot of things in a race car and/ or a race.

The other thing I was thinking about was that a driver can lose the passion for racing. They can just be going through the motions. Most of the time when that happens there is not much success, matter a fact, it can lead to really bad things, wrecks and mistakes.

As I thought about that I thought this could happen to us even this week. It is one of the important weeks in the church, the week we think about Jesus dying and rising from the dead. So here is the warning and the challenge.

Warning: We can have all kind of “church” or “Christian” things around us in this country. We can talk the talk and sit in the church week after week and not be in the Church. I am talking about being in Christ, saved, a believer. We can know so much that we are blind to our need of salvation and to be broken before the LORD. I would ask that you take time right now and ask God to examine your heart and see what is there. Ask God to show you, if you were to die today would you be present with Him (Heaven) or isolated away from Him (Hell). Even if you sat in a church every Sunday since you were a child, please ask Him. Don’t go into this weekend not knowing Him on a personal level, not saved.

Challenge: Maybe this is your 20th Good Friday and Easter since you came to know Jesus as your LORD and it has become just another Passion Week. Stop right now and ask God to break your hardened, maybe blind, heart. Ask Him to place on you a fresh love for Him right now.

I get excited talking about this. First that someone might get saved and have their very first real Passion Week. I remember how exciting it was for me! Second that someone would be revived, refreshed in Christ and that passion for the Christ would come back alive in their life and words.

Maybe you read this and it really does not make any sense whatsoever but you have a small prompting to find out what it all means. Please do contact me. I would love to explain to you and help you understand about the Passion Week and salvation

2 Corinthians 4:4-6 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants[c] for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. ESV

Have a great weekend and a great day racin’ in the SONshine,

Pastor Todd

Rockford Spring Opener 2014 - Proverbs 1

This year and for the next couple of seasons we are going to go through Proverbs for chapel. I am excited to study together and excited to get the season started. I always look forward to getting the green flag dropped on a new season at Rockford’s Spring Opener. There is no difference this year so let’s get started.
What makes the beginning of the season so exciting? 1) We get back to one of our loves; 2) We get to spend time around friends, race family and those we care about; 3) Being adrenaline junkies, we get our fixJ 4) The sound of a roaring engine and squealing tires and the smell of oil, brakes, etc…; 5) Everyone has hope and new goals for a new, fresh start of a new season. We don’t know where it is going to lead but we set the goal for each race and the season; 6) and for me, to be able to minister to the race community and the many needs that people have. There is more but that is enough for now.
When we look into God’s Word and the book of Proverbs we see where God would have us begin. Let’s think and look at how God starts Proverbs. We will study out of the English Standard Version this season.
The Beginning of Knowledge
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Five times the word “to” is used. It is a function word that points to something. As we start the season are you pointing towards something, a goal for the season or are you just going to go out there a turn laps and hope for the best? No! You bring out notes from previous years, talk to others, and get a game plan together. You look through the rule book and comply. You work diligently on the car night after night, day after day, to get ready. In this passage the “to” points to a) to hear; b) to increase in learning; c) and first, to the fear of the LORD.
So do you want to know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight? Do you want to receive instruction in wise dealing in righteousness, justice and equality? Do you want the simple and the young to have knowledge and discretion?
Those questions lead us to another question – where does that answer lie? Is it in a class room? Is it from another person? Is it in a book? Where are you, we, going to look for those answers? I advocate that the answers are ONLYfound in the LORD Jesus Christ and in His Word, the Bible. That is where we can find truth. We can only have that insight if we start, if we begin with the fear of the LORD. In today’s world there are a lot of competing voices for our attention and we want to go to the one that is filled with truth and can be counted on each and every time. That is God and His Word.
As you think of the LORD what do you think? I immensely enjoy studying God’s attributes, character and personality. Searching the Bible to find them and pausing to mediate and pray through them is great. DO you do that? I hope so.
Verse 7 tells us that all this (to, knowledge, wisdom, tec.) starts with a fear of the LORD. That is where salvation begins too. When we realize that we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, 6:23) and that the only way to the Father and eternal life is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6) we have started the journey. We need to fear that God, Who,  could sentence us to what we deserve: to be thrown into hell (Matthew 10:28) and separated from God for eternity (Isaiah 59:2), That is when we come broken before God and call out on to Him to save us from our sin (Romans 10:9,10,13).
So start the season right, start your life in Christ right! Thanks to the LORD for bringing us to a new season — Protect us and guide us and draw us closer to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine. I look forward to seeing you soon at a local race track.
Pastor Todd

At a Distance

It is great to be the guy or gal who crosses the finish line and rolls into victory lane. But one thing that is not so much fun for a racer is to watch it from a distance. No matter if it was second or tenth or thirtieth, you are in the race to compete and most are not satisfied unless they win and raise a trophy. Now there are some looking for a top 10 or 5 or 3 but most are there to be the champion of the night. Worse yet is if you know you could win and you mess up — whether that is a missed set up or you charged too hard into a corner and bounce off the wall or chose the wrong line on a restart or missed a shift. There can be a bunch of excuses for looking at victory lane from a distance and none of them are fun.
The Bible speak of this too. In Deuteronomy 32:52 Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.” NIV This is a word picture that shows us two things. 1) If we sin we can miss out on blessings and 2) we can be only spectators.  We don’t want either one of those.
The Israelites are called by God as His own yet they struggled to obey and it cost them many times. God was so patient sending prophet after prophet to warn them of their sin. There were points where God said that is enough and here is your punishment. One of the punishments was this: knowing the promise and God’s faithfulness yet not being able to walk into the Promised Land. There can be times we know there is a blessing form the Lord but our sin keeps us from obtaining it. God desires to bless us but cannot just look the other way on sin. That is why it is so important for us to follow the Lord and obey Him. We need to get rid of sin that hinders and entangles us. We need to help each other in this area by encouraging each other to turn from sin and by challenging each other. Iron does sharpen iron. We need to be known as Repenters!
Also in the group were those that we not Israelites. I think this picture includes an illustration of those saved and those not saved. This group would be the ones on the outside. They see how close they are and yet cannot go in to the Promised Land. This is another reason we should turn from sin. It shows others God’s love, His mercy, His grace, etc… and how it can extend to them. You do not want to be a spectator when you can be in the race. So if you are just watching and not a Christian would you consider it right now? I know I still fall short and sin. God will forgive when we turn to Him.
Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,
Pastor Todd

Debate

Generally I stick with racing themes but a couple of nights ago I watched a great debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on creation vs. evolution. I had three thoughts walking away. There were three opportunities that I think Mr. Ham missed that I would like to address. I am not a scientist and would leave that in his capable hands. There was much he did not talk about that he could have and that is addressed on the Answers in Genesis web site.

Mr. Nye repeatedly said something like, “Ken Ham and his followers”. Just to be clear I am don’t and I would guess that most are mot “followers” of Mr. Ham. I am a follower of Jesus. Jesus alone is worthy to be followed. Jesus is LORD, Master, Ruler. Let’s be very clear on that.

Another repetitive statement was on the Bible being translated into English and Mr. Nye was trying to infer error in it writings. This is an interesting statement for one that has not studied the development of the canon of Scripture nor its transition into English. Mr. Nye has not studied the Bible enough to know if there are errors and he is not a Greek or Hebrew scholar from what I know of him. That aside, let’s answer the question he is really asking. There are several very reliable versions of the Bible in English. We have more reliable manuscripts then any ancient writing. We have sources that quote Scripture and validate it. We have manuscripts dated closer to the originals than any other ancient writings. More people have looked over and studied the Bible for accuracy than any other book. We also see in the Dead Seas Scroll the validation of the Scriptures. There is much more, even books written on THE BOOK!

Finally there was an open door with one of Mr. Nye’s questions that I was surprised Mr. Ham did not address. Mr. Nye said something to the effect, “what about the ones that don’t ever have Mr. Ham or his Bible…” This is a question I used as defending my anti god position for some years. My guess is that others use this defense often today. God addresses this clearly in Romans 1:20. Romans 1:19-20 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. And in Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. And again in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. See we have no excuse because God has made it clear in His Word and in creation that He is. We see clearly there is and must be a creator. When we look at a baby we have the wonder of new life that points us to God. When we look at an eye and know that that cannot go through evolutionary stages, we know there is a LORD Almighty, the Creator. When we look at DNA and see the detail, know there is a Creator. When we look around and there are NO examples of part man, part ape or any of the other crossovers of evolution we know it cannot be taught as fact.

Mr. Nye made a big push for science and the study of it. I agree. Science has its place but it has to be taught under the Bible. Science should be studied and discoveries made but not to try to disprove there is a God but to prove creation is the truth.

Mr Ham did a great job presenting the Gospel that We have sinned, Jesus Died for our sin and that He raised from the dead and we can have salvation if we will call out on His name and in Him alone.

If you want to see the debate there are several ways to find it. Just Goggle Nye Ham Debate and it comes up.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,

Pastor Todd

Tragedy Too Close

This week there were a couple of tragedies in Madison, a little too close. First there was a worker that fell and was killed at a construction site and then Thursday a lady was killed as a catering truck on campus backed up. It really gets our attention when things like this happen.

In both cases I am sure the person did not get up in the morning knowing they were going to step into eternity. It made me pause and think how important is it to be ready for eternity. We will all live after death of the body in Heaven or in Hell and depending on what we have concluded about Jesus and what action we took will determine our future in eternity. Our place in eternity is set upon death of our body.

Listen to James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (NIV)

Our lives are short to begin with and to have them “cut short” (God knows every second we are given on this earth) is difficult for us to think of. We want to say that we have plenty of time or that we will deal with the LORD later but that may not be the case.

I want you to really stop and consider that. PLEASE! It is vitally important whether we think so or not. Consider this: we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; only Jesus can save because He is the only one to be a perfect sacrifice for our sin; we must call out to Jesus and take Him as LORD of our life; we should want to obey Him and have our lives changed (some slowly, some dramatic in the change(s)). Again let me remind you that those two people last week did not wake up in the morning thinking it would be their last day on earth.

Finally, we should be praying for the families and friends that lost loved ones in these two events. Pray also for the person driving the truck on campus and others who feel responsible for the tragedy. Pray that somehow and someway God can comfort and strengthen those in the friend and close circle. Pray that God can magnify Himself even in this dark time. Most of all pray that God opens hearts up to salvation.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,

Pastor Todd

Goodbye, Hello

It is the time of the year that we say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. I always find this time of year interesting. We just came off of a great time of the year with Thanksgiving and followed closely by Christmas. Those holidays help us focus on two important things – being thankful and even more important the LORD Jesus Christ.

Now, to me there is a switch of gears from Christmas to the end of the year and beginning of a new one. Let’s think about this some starting with the end of a year – 2013.

I see three things we can end the year with, ok four 1) we can just ignore it. I think few do that but we could. We could just watch it pass by without much thought at all. Let’s come back to that thought. 2) We can be glad that it is over. It seemed too challenging and not much hope for the future. We could have had broken relationships that seem to be impossible to rebuild. We could have lost loved ones that we think we can never recover from. We could have lost a job or house or race car, etc… and think they are gone forever. 3) We could have had a good year that we wish would just keep going and that there were more days. Or maybe we wish there were more days because we were so busy, want more time, more money, or better relationships.  4) We could pause right now and look back and go – WOW what a great year the LORD has given to us. He has done so much and blessed us so greatly. He has taught a simple, sinner like me. He has allowed me to draw near to Him. God has shown glimpses of His glory to me. His Word has been alive and active in my life. Even and bigger and better praise would be if salvation has happened this year for you! I hope that is how you are looking at 2013 and the end of the year.

Now we move to 2014. We can look at the coming of the New Year in four ways also. 1) We can try to ignore it but that is hard because we do have to write “2014” now J. 2) We can be nervous or worried that last year’s troubles will continue and the struggles might even get worse. Maybe we have tough decisions to make. I would hope that you are turning to God for wisdom and direction. Those decisions made on our own can often turn out poorly.  3) We can anticipate this or that to happen. There are going to be moments or points in 2014 that will have powerful effects on our life and those around us. We can get weighted down or even destroyed by that weight or we can look at it as the challenge God places before us to see which choice we will make – either against God and His will or for Him and His will. We can also anticipate in a good way that God will teach us new things (new to us, He is unchanging) and give us opportunity to grow. We can make “that” commitment. I know that I want to grow in prayer and in knowledge of the LORD Jesus. I want to grow in faith and trust and in loving my family and those around me. 4) We can be consumed with Christ and filled with the hope that there is in Jesus. Each of us should have that hope. That hope should not be that our surroundings or circumstances improve but that we have trust in the LORD and what He is going to do. He is going to protect us and teach us. We have a hope in what is to come after life here on earth. We have the hope of salvation.

Remember at the beginning I said that we can ignore the end and beginning of the year. We can ignore it but it is still going to happen. The year will end on December 31st and is going to begin again on January 1st. Just like we can try to ignore the end and beginning of years, we can try to ignore the LORD and eternity, but God is real and true, and so is eternity. We will face it one day, ready or not. I hope you are ready. I hope you have placed your trust and faith in Jesus. I hope you have agreed with His Word that Jesus is LORD.

Now let’s consider a few verses on this subject:

John 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus finished well. We should finish the year well.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Jesus begins a work in us and will complete it. We need to be in step with Him and His will by being in His Word and prayer continually.

Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Revelation 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Jesus is the beginning and the end and is complete in every way. We should completely lean on Him and His Word and fellowship with other believers.

I hope you have had a good 2013 and that 2014 is even better. I hope you grow in your relationships and especially in your relationship with God.

Have a great day racin’ in the SONshine,

Pastor Todd