Tag Archives: sports

A Lesson from Mark West and the Indy 500

Mark West is not someone that I would call a “close” friend, but he is a brother in Christ and we have the same political persuasion. He is also a friend on Facebook, someone I have met in person, and he has a ranch and a cool race car.

Mark ahead of a couple of Vettes.

Did I say race car?

Maybe I ought to get to know him better…you think? I mean, a race car?

Anyway, if you were watching the last Indy 500 on television, you witnessed a horrific crash. But if you had been my friend Mark West, you would have witnessed it in person. And had you witnessed that crash in person, my hope is that you would have come away with the same insight that Mark did.

But since we are not Mark West, and most of us were probably not at the last running of the Indy 500, let’s read what Mark wrote on his own blog, Awake to Freedom. (Reprinted by permission)


Guest post by: Mark West

Click on the picture to visit original post on Awake to Freedom.

The Indy 500. Daytona 500. Monaco Grand Prix. 24 Hours of Le Mans. These are just a view of the world’s iconic motorsport races. 

For me there’s not much more thrilling in sporting events than the combination of horsepower, speed, technology, competition, and fans.  And for fans, there’s not much they enjoy more than a good crash.  Although a good crash, like beauty, is a matter of perspective.  

Strap yourself into a car with the engine revving, tires screeching, and the speedometer in the three digit zone, and there’s no such thing as a GOOD crash.  The fact is, if you’re inside the race car, any crash is a bad crash.  (I know, I’ve been in a couple of my own three digit racing crashes which you can view here and here.)  But sit back in your favorite La-Z-Boy recliner, or better yet, at the Indy 500 between Turns 1 and 2, as I was this week, at the 101st running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and a crash is an added “bonus” to the fans.  

Sitting in the stands on Sunday at the Indy 500, I could not have anticipated viewing one of the most jaw-dropping crashes I’ve ever witnessed.  It was lap 53 of 200 laps.  The race had been perfect so far.  There had been no yellow, or caution flags.  The drivers were at their best.  The cars were nearly a blur as they flew around the track, 40 seconds per lap, at an average speed of 220 miles per hour.  My favorite driver in the race, Fernando Alonso from Spain, a two time world champion in Formula 1, but a rookie to the Indy 500, had worked himself into the lead.  

A pack of cars came down the front stretch and slowed just slightly as they maneuvered through turn 1.  As I sat there, the “bonus” happened, directly in front of me. Jay Howard lost control and hit the outside wall.  As he slid back across the track, Scott Dixon, the pole winner, had no place to go and rammed into the back of Jay’s car.  The thud we heard was unmistakable, and we watched in disbelief as the next several seconds unfolded. Immediately Dixon’s car was catapulted high into the air and the four time IndyCar champion was simply along for the ride. His years of experience and success provided no advantage. 

As Scott’s car careened through the air, his life literally hung in the balance. How would his car land as he flipped towards the wall and catch fence?  Would he survive such a horrific crash?  Could he, like many of his fellow racers in the past, skirt death?  

As the crash video reveals, Dixon’s aerial flight came to an abrupt and violent impact with the inside wall on the right side of his car.  The impact caused massive damage with the #9 car disintegrating into a thousands pieces.  As the car continued to twist and turn, it flipped upside down and then back over, sliding to a stop with only one of the four wheels left intact, and half the car missing.  Miraculously, Scott climbed out of the car, unhurt and waving to the crowd.  

But… what if?   

What if Dixon’s car had rotated just a quarter turn more and instead of landing on its side, it had landed driver first, into the wall?  I shudder to think what the outcome would have been.  But it’s not too far fetched to consider.  The fact is, something very similar happened six years earlier at another IndyCar race in Las Vegas when a massive crash launched former champion and Indy 500 race winner, Dan Wheldon, into the air.  As I watched the race live, the driver would suffer blunt force trauma to his head.  And Wheldon, whose career would likely have seen many more wins and successes, breathed his last that day, at age 33.  He left behind a beautiful wife and two young boys. 

Following the race at Indy last Sunday, the thought occurred to me just how fragile life is. One driver dies. The other lives. Some might suggest luck plays a part in the outcome, as if it’s merely a flip of a coin to determine whether it’s heads you live, or tails you die.  

But ultimately no amount of skill, preparation, goodwill or luck will prevent our taking our final breath.  Rather, death is something that will come to us all, sooner or later, as the Bible affirms:  

“Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment.”

Death. It’s a sobering thought that most of us avoid and refuse to consider.  Yet it will happen to all of us, without a doubt.  

So, the real question is how will we live our lives until the figurative coin lands on tails?  But even more importantly, will we be prepared for that moment when the inevitable occurs? For as we just read, we will all be judged, not only for how we have lived our lives, but more importantly in whom and what we trusted for our eternal future.  

I don’t know what your personal standing is with God but here’s is the truth of God’s Word – the Bible.  In Romans 3:23 we are told “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  In other words we have all fallen short of God’s standard of perfection.  Because of this fact, we learn in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  God is clear that without His Son we can expect death eternally. 

The eternal life offered by God is as a result of His Son’s death and resurrection as we see in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Finally, while God did this for us, we must accept His gift of salvation.  Romans 10:9 tells us “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  This is the road to true peace and freedom… and assurance of your eternal future, once that final moment comes for you and me.  

If you want to pursue this matter further, here is a relevant website that deals further with life, death, and eternity:  http://www.areyouagoodperson.org/  Or send me an email and let’s grab coffee and talk.

Whether you are a motorsports fan or not, we all share the common need to prepare for what lies ahead.  I hope and pray you have done so, or if not, you will do so today. 

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Filed under Guest Posts, Life Lessons, Life/Death

You Can Do What Through Christ?

Warming Up & Weather

It is a wonderfully blustery Wednesday afternoon as I write this on my own computer. However, because I do not have Wi-Fi or a wireless card on this computer, and the nearest place to plug in is too far away for the Ethernet cable to reach, I’m sitting here enjoying my own keyboard and creating a Word document to save on a flash drive, and then take to my wife’s computer which is connected to the world.

I know you didn’t need to know all of that, but I needed to warm up my fingers – I’ve been too long at the iPhone and iPad.

Storms are about to sweep through our area again, much worse than the lightening that came through yesterday. As of the moment of this writing, we are under a tornado watch and expecting straight-line winds of up to 60 mph, along with hail. That’s not good, but I guess it could be worse – Hillary Clinton could be coming to dinner.

So, before the power ends up going out, or at least before I end up having to shut everything down again, I am now going to share with you some thoughts I had yesterday, before my flash of brilliance (that’s call humor)was interrupted by a flash of lightening.

“I can do it!”

tim-tebow-si-coverHow often have you heard it proclaimed, especially by athletes and motivational speakers, “I can do all things through Christ”?  I’m sure you’ve probably seen Philippians 4:13 written on the sleeves and foreheads of runners; tacked on the end of messages to struggling college students; or heard from friends before you accepted that challenging new position.  For the most part, Philippians 4:13 has been used as a tool to soothe our fears of failure and encourage us to greatness, because, after all, “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”

The only problem with using Philippians 4:13 is that the context has nothing to do with what most people want to accomplish. It has nothing to do with running races, lifting weights, saving relationships, getting promotions, or making money; it does, however, have everything to do with enduring hardship, pain, and unfair loss with growing faith.

In verses 11 and 12 the Apostle Paul stated that he had learned how to be content in all circumstances, whether poor or rich, hungry or well-fed, comfortable or uncomfortable. The “things” to which he was referring in verse 13 are anything but contests, races, jobs, relationships, etc.

So often we forget the struggles and trials our forefathers in the faith have endured. In chapter 4 in his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul was attempting to encourage a poor congregation, not a rich one. He was thanking God for their renewed financial support (v.10), while at the same time encouraging them not to feel guilty for their previous lack of support, because they had “lacked opportunity.” He was saying to them, “Hey, it’s OK! Really! God has taken care of me and met my needs. And even when I was in need, or pain, or suffering, the miraculous power of Jesus Christ has proved real in giving me the ability to be content, whatever the situation.”

But I need Jesus

I don’t know where you are in life, but I am trying to learn, as Paul did (v.11), how to be content, even when I don’t know where I’m going to be living in a month, how I’m going to see the little church I now pastor survive and grow, or whether or not we will be able to pay our basic bills, much less keep the cell phones going. The temptation is to fall prey to fear and doubt, to envy and lust, and to struggle against the current of His will, like a butterfly against a hurricane.

However, if I could just rest in Jesus, admit my frailties, and lean on Him, His grace is sufficient for me, and His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). It shouldn’t matter to my faith if the money isn’t there like it used to be, for “according to His riches” (Eph. 3:16) I will be “strengthened…unto all patience and longsuffering” (Col. 1:11).

Just remember, context…context…context!! Don’t use Scripture where it was never meant to apply. However, no matter what you do, remember the words of Jesus in John 15:5: “…for without me you can do nothing.”

Christ will strengthen the believer that puts his/her trust in Him, but only for the things He has called you to accomplish for His glory. If winning a gold medal, making your first million, or getting that promotion is part of the plan, then so be it; but don’t count on it.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, Struggles and Trials, Theology