(this message preached at PBOC Winterfest, Sebring, Jan 2009)
Who am I?
Opening day, opening weekend, opening event for PBOC. Sebring Raceway January 2009
As I embark on my 5th year with ZMM and 3rd year as a Chaplain with PBOC, I want to tell you about a comment that caught me off guard at HSR event up in Daytona. The comment made was, “I thought you guys in the ministry just grew up with it, went to seminary, and that was pretty much all you did. I thought the ministry was your only job”.
That comment started me thinking. You know, I used to think the exact same thing. As I become more and more involved with ministry, I have come to realize that God calls people from all walks of life, all stages of life, and uses them to build His Kingdom and to do His work while we are here on this earth. There are still the “traditional” ministers of the Word, but more and more often, there are people called to the pulpit from non-traditional methods. Evangelists are being placed in all sorts of arenas.
The primary responsibility of this ministry is to be available for the racing community. To be available to you. We must be prepared to do whatever God wants us to do. We need to be available to talk to, to provide encouragement, guidance, advice, all based on biblical principles. How can I be effective, if you don’t know anything about me?
Many of you know Stephen Zoeller. He has been around racing for 27+ years, he has worked for the past 10 or 12 years as a Chaplain……at least 5 years with PBOC. It occurred to me, that most of you don’t really know me….. and since my primary responsibility is to be available for you, how could I expect you feel comfortable coming to someone you don’t really know.
God constantly reminds me that my role here is not just to provide church services for 45 minutes, but to be available throughout the weekend and be God’s servant to the racing community throughout the weekend, and in between races.
Being that I only see you 6 times a year, it’s hard to develop that pastor/friend/confidant relationship….to build the trust that’s required, so God really put it on my heart to take the opportunity of this opening weekend and tell you a little bit about me, my wife, and this ministry…not to help me, but to better serve you.
One of the hardest things for me to do is to talk about me…..I much prefer hearing about other people, so if you have any questions or want to know more, please see me after the service this morning and I will be glad to answer any questions.
Before I get started talking about my testimony, I want you to know that to God be the glory…..I say the following things, not to make me look good, not to preach about me, or even to sound prideful……but to preach about what God has done for me…to tell you a little more about me and my family in hopes that I can better serve my PBOC racing family by you knowing a little more about me.
It is with the intent of my testimony to let you look back at your lives and see what God has not only done for me, just an “average” guy…but to see what He has done for you…and what HE wants to do with your life as we begin move forward in 2009.
The Bible tells us in the book of Matthew :
“Let you light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is heaven.” So it’s now time to shine some light and talk about me:
Born and raised in Virginia….spent most of my life in Richmond. My parents are conservative, still married and lived just a solid middle class family life. We went on vacation once a year, my dad worked for Virginia Power for 30+ years as an electrical engineer. My mom worked as operations manager for a furniture company before getting away from the retail environment and becoming a legal secretary which she is still doing today. They really set a great example for my sister and I. They had great morals, a good work ethic, and as I said, just really set a good example by how they lived their life. Their stability allowed me to take a few chances throughout my life as I’ll share with you in a few minutes. They were actually turned off by “church” at a young age and therefore we never really went to church growing up. My exposure to “religion” was through the media and one or two girlfriends I dated in high school. Needless to say, my initial views of “religion” were not that great.
I was married once before. I am now very happily married to Amanda for the past 12 years, and we have 3 kids of whom you see with me at most events. They love being here almost as much as I do. My wife and I have been foster parents for the past 6 years, so in addition to our kids, we have had over 30 children of all races, ages, and problems. We have experienced all kinds of behaviors and probably the best way to put it, the last time we were in court for a hearing, my wife’s authority was being challenged by an attorney while on the stand, the judge overruled the objection and called her a “professional mom” (or something to that affect). We definitely have some experience relating to family issues.
I went to school at Virginia Tech and have my BS degree in Mechanical Engineering. Right after graduating I moved to Charleston SC and went to work for the Charleston Naval Shipyard working on submarines. It was a “government” job so I left after a year and went to work for General Dynamics there in Charleston as a manufacturing engineer. They manufactured large heavy steel submarine sections for the Trident, 688, and later Seawolf submarines. I moved more into project management, proposals, estimating, and contracts. That facility closed, all work moved up to Groton CT and Quonset Point RI so I left there and moved to Brunswick, GA as a Proposal Manager for a company that manufactured equipment for aircraft carriers. I later took on the role of the sole project manager for rubber tired gantry cranes (RTG’s). It looked as if that company was going to close, so with my first child being just born, I quit and moved to Myrtle Beach, SC where I ran the mfg engineering department for a mobile crane manufacturer (PPM / P&H). That facility was purchased by Terex and all operations were moved back to the Midwest, so I quit and went to Mexico and worked for 20th Century Fox making the movie the “Titanic”. Amanda and I lived in Rosarita, Mexico for about 8 months. Incredible job, lots of hours, but obviously one of my most memorable job assignments.
That job taught me some important values…money isn’t everything, family, friends, and recreation…living life – sharing life is more important. And that was the start of a major turning point in my career.
Amanda is quite a talented cosmetologist. She went with me to Mexico and she did the hair and make-up for many of the stars in the movie. I ran the crane crews and supervised a team building the back half of the Titanic and the tilting stern section seen in the movie.
After Mexico I essentially moved to Florida managing the technical services department for a material handling company…field installations, technical support, spare parts, etc… Once again, the owners moved it to PA so I went to work for Piper Aircraft Company down in Vero Beach. I quickly moved up and ended up managing the Fabrication Division – 400+ employees, 22 departments. That position was a highlight of my career because that was essentially my career goal – to run all operations aspects of a large company. While there the company grew from 700 employees to 1600, then back down to 600 all in a period of 4 years. It was quite the roller coaster and a tremendous learning experience.
I then moved to Liberty Aerospace because they needed someone to set up and manage their entire manufacturing operation. The company they contracted to build them went bankrupt so they decided to try it themselves. It was an awesome opportunity for me to take everything I had learned from the other companies and do everything “my way”. It grew from 10 employees and 10,000 SF to 160 employees and 100,000SF. We increased production to 2 1/2 aircraft a week (~120 per year) where it then became a sustaining position. Sustaining work is not my favorite, so I accepted a position to return back to Piper as program manager for the PiperJet.
After a year and half back at Piper, Liberty offered me a deal that was too good to pass up to come back as Vice President and allowed me all the time I need to continue my ministry efforts and that is what I am doing today. Thankfully the position pays OK because this ministry is totally self funded. For the past 5 years, my wife and I have funded 100% of the costs to be here and support 5 other racing series out of our own pockets.
I spent a lot of time telling you those things, because many of you have full time jobs, have worked a variety of positions, and I wanted you to know that I can relate to many of the struggles, issues, facing you today.
I worked10 years in Program and Project Management and another 12 years or so in Operations Management. On that fateful September 11th day, I layed off 200 people while the towers were falling. This past Christmas Eve I had to prepare the list of names of 40 people that were to be laid off at Liberty. I have been there, had to make the tough decisions, and I can relate. I have also been there in the good times, when growth was at an exponential rate.
I have been a welder, a crane operator, an assembler, a supervisor…..I have been in executive management positions, and everything in between. God has blessed me with a very successful career, a variety of positions, and was preparing me …and still is preparing me for things to come. I enjoy talking about work and work related issues, so if there is anything I can do, let me know.
Moving on to my racing experience, as I mentioned my parents were very conservative. I never had a dirtbike or a go cart growing up. My parents don’t even like racing, so I’m not even sure where my passion for it came from…..actually I do know where it came from, God put that into me when HE created me, so that I could be up here before you today. The same way He put passions into each of you.
I bought and rode my first motorcycle in 1986 and 1 year later I started road racing motorcycles. I raced at tracks such as Summit Point, Rockingham NC, Road Atlanta, and Roebling Road. I raced with guys like Jamie James and Scott Russell. I remember screaming down the back straight at Road Atlanta on my Suzuki GSXr750 thinking I was really going fast when all of a sudden Scott Russell passed me like I was standing still…..those factory guys sure were fast. My first wife really didn’t like racing or camping so I ended up leaving that passion behind.
2 years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the Skip Barber 3 day racing school in Daytona. The first turn on the first day, I put the car into a non recoverable spin, wiped out a bunch of cones, and was immediately hooked. By race time at the end of the third day, I lapped the entire field in my group and was the fastest guy in the class. The only competition I had was Larry McReynolds son, (commentator and ex-crew chief from Nascar) Brandon McReynolds who had been racing for years and years and had a couple championships under his belt. I was ½ second a lap faster. I know they don’t time you, but the instructor I had pulled me off the side and showed me the numbers.
As money became available, my good friend Larry Jordano rented me his car for a couple of races and needless to say, I really enjoyed it. I was hooked. Going back to my motorcycle roots, I was blessed with the opportunity to buy a Formula Continental last Christmas and raced it all of the 2008 season. I won 6 of the first 8 races, finished first in Florida region and second in SARRC championship and was awarded Rookie of the Year honors by the Florida region SCCA. Again, to God be the glory. Again, I tell you this not to let you know about my driving ability or inability, but to let you know that for you drivers out there, I have some experience, some qualifications behind the wheel, and love to talk racing.
Now you know a little about my family life, my career experience, and my racing experience….all of which hopefully helps you to understand a little more about me andhelp us to better our relationship…however the most important part of my function as you Chaplain is my relationship with God. Without Him, none of this would be possible.
As I stated earlier, I did not grow up in a household that went to church. They were loving parents, moral, great people….and still are today…..but religion was not a part of our life. To be honest, I had a great childhood growing up. I had very little bad happen to me or anyone close to me, and to be truthful, I didn’t think much about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I didn’t need to….life was good.
I kept setting goals, achieving them, then moving on to the next goal. When I landed that Business Unit Manager job at Piper running an entire Division, that was my career goal….I did that at 33 years old. I had married Amanda, had a great job, great wife, great family, good money, life was great…I was at the top of my game…at the top of where I had set my sights….but there just had to be something else. Something more to life…I was just chasing one goal after another, not even taking time to celebrate the victory any longer….I read the book Racing to Win by Joe Gibbs hoping to find out how to be a better leader and that coupled with influence from my wife and some close friends, I sat down and decided I wanted to learn more about Jesus Christ.
I read the Bible cover to cover, I studied, read books, watched TV, went to church a couple of times and then turned my heart and my life over to God. For some it is a giant leap of faith…I studied and read and learned…..at the end, it still requires a leap of faith, but for me it was a small step instead of a huge jump. I became very active in the church and was rewarded with the “sign” at the Rolex 24 hours race in Daytona 5 or 6 years ago. I call it the “sign from God”. It was actually the sign posted above the urinal….Steve Zoellers church service. My wife and I attended church that Sunday morning, starting a long relationship with Stephen and Stephanie Zoeller. We worked as volunteers for 2 years, mentored for a year, and I later became an ordained minister, a certified Chaplain with NFRM, and now a Chaplain here working with you guys. It wasn’t the traditional path as you may think most ministers take, but it was a path full of real world, real life experiences, giving me the passion for working with children, working with the racing community, and being able to do God’s work all at the same time.
So Who am I? I am an average guy who was raised in the world and to be perfectly honest I was “of the world”. I experienced most of what life has to offer before my relationship with God and have experienced even deeper joy since the start of my endurance race with God. Some things I am proud of and some I am not proud of. The bottom line is that I can understand and relate to many of the problems facing you today as I have faced many of them myself…both before my relationship with Christ, and now even after my relationship with Him.
If He can and will do those types of works with me, just think about what He can do for you.
So I told you about me being a father, husband, manager, worker, race car driver, and a Chaplain……so what else am I?
I am the same as the rest of you out here today…..I am a child of the most high God.
I would say that the biggest thing that I am thankful for is that I am a child of God. As we enter into 2009, a year that could prove to be quite difficult for many of us, our friends, and our families……do NOT forget who you are …you are a child of God.
We have a new President, a tough economy, world strife and instability, but God is in control. God lets us know who we are.
Bible tells us in Genesis 1:26 that we are created in His image….created after His likeness.
The Bible also tells us that we all can be a child of God…..and to take it one further…. Joint heirs with Christ….
Ephesians 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospel
When I get down and out, things aren’t going my way, the devil is shouting in my ear saying I’m not worthy of God’s love, etc…..when my confidence is lacking, when I am scared, when I’m just not comfortable or happy…..I always come back to one simple thought…..I am a child of God…..I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phillipians 4:13).
Look at the front of your bulletin.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (KJV)
Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. (NIV)
This verse tells us pretty clearly that in order to become a son of God, we must take 2 actions. First we must believe in Him, then we must receive Him.
One other thing that jumped out on me is EVEN to them that believe on His name. That doesn’t mean, I distributed my power and even gave some to you. EVEN in this instance means that God gives us all, an even amount, an equal amount of power to become a child of God.
Romans 8:15-17 (paraphrased) We have received the “Spirit of Adoption”…
we are the “children of God”…….
and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, joint
heirs with Christ.
By believing in Christ, and receiving Him into our hearts, we receive the Spirit of Adoption and become adopted into God’s family, we become a child of God.
For anyone who knows about adoption…..when you adopt a child, that child becomes your responsibility for the rest of your life…..just as if the child was born from your womb. When we get adopted into God’s family…..he signs on to be our parents for eternity…..and one thing is certain about God…he doesn’t lie, He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. When he takes us in, it is for life…this life and eternal life.
Once you are in the family, you become an heir to the throne.
I think this next verse really wraps it up nicely…..
Galatians 3:26-29 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ, And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye…..heirs according to the promise.
What does it say?
Have faith in Jesus…. BELIEVE
Be baptized into Christ, put on Christ……RECEIVE
You then become a child of God, an heir according to the promise…Promise of What ?
I’ll quickly give you 5 promises discussed in the Bible……
Eternal life. (1 John 5:11-12) God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son
Victory (1 John 5:4-5) For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory and the ones who win this battle against the world are the ones who believe Jesus is God (New Living Translation NLT)
Abundant life (John 10:10) I come that they might have life, that they might have it more abundantly. (KJV) My purpose is to give life in all it’s fullness (NLT)
Divine Health (1 Peter 2:24) …….by whose stripes ye were healed. (KJV)
Divine provision (Phillipians 4:19)…But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Do you want to be a child of God, a joint heir to throne?
It’s a simple journey, so simple that man often has to complicate it…..thus the term “religion” but that’s another sermon for another day.
It’s spelled out clearly in Acts 2:38 and in Matthew 28:19
- Be baptized for the remission of your sins in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost..which is what? ……Jesus
- Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit….the spirit of adoption….become a child of God.
If you haven’t committed your life to Jesus Christ, if you haven’t yet become a Child of God, I encourage you to stick around after the service, speak with myself or my wife. We’ll be happy to answer any questions, provide words of encouragement, and are here for you.
When you become a child of God, it is imperative that God be placed first in your life. Many of you that are here today have done just that. You have sacrificed time with your racing buddies, sacrificed time when you could be working on your race car, so that you can put God first….come here, offer some praise and worship, and glorify our heavenly Father.
With the priveledge to be a child of God, comes responsibility: We must put Him first.
Unfortunately our country has lost it’s way. When I grew up, I clearly remember the priorities of our great nation being: God, Country, Family, Self.
In the last 40 years we have done a complete reversal. It is now self, then family, then country, and God is out there somewhere…..it is no wonder how we got to where we are today. We need to remember that this country was founded by Christians and Christians today are still the majority. We have the power to return this nation to its proper priorities.
Don’t believe the switch in priorities…..just look at:
God first? Taking “under God” out of the pledge of allegiance, removing 10 commandments from public areas, removing prayer in schools, again…all in the name of political correctness. God is not a priority.
Country? Look at how many people no longer remove their hats and hold their hand over their chest during the Star Spangled banner. A good percentage of the people don’t even stand or stop talking. Look at our open borders and how we cater to special interest groups in the name of “political correctness” Look at how we have outsourced all of our manufacturing capabilities in the name of greed. The sovereignty of our nation has been compromised in the interest of the almighty dollar and political correctness. Our country is definitely not a priority.
If you look back at history and look at all of the great civilizations and powerful countries, they were all destined for the same fate. They grew so great and powerful that they no longer believed they needed God’s help…and as a result they all collapsed. Many of our fellow citizens today believe the country owes them something, yet they owe the country nothing.
I have spent some time overseas on assignments, and in Mexico. It doesn’t take very long, living outside of this country to realize just how great we really have it here. It’s a shame others can’t see it and value their citizenship.
Family above Self? Look at the number of divorces…look at the number of kids being raised by the internet, video games, and television. Look at crime rates, teenage pregnancy, drug use, lower test scores, etc….that proves that people are putting their own needs above those of their family.
For many Americans, they put themselves first. We need to return to our founding fathers priorities of God, Country, Family, Self.
Is it too late to do anything about it? I don’t think so. Not even Jesus himself knows when the second coming will take place. My next service with PBOC will be more about the return of the Lord, the Last days, and the tribulation period…..but for now, please remember that….
The Bible tells us that “If my people, who are called by my name shall humble themselves, I will hear their words and heal their lands”.
God tells us what to do….put Him first in our lives and He will take care of the rest.
No matter what the media tells you, no matter what the enemy tells you, Do not lose the faith, do not give up the fight…..remember who you are. You are a child of God.
If you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, if you receive Him into your heart, you have the power to become a child of God. As a child of God you become an heir to the throne.
Regardless of what happens on this earth, whatever happens in 2009 and beyond, you have a place waiting for you up in heaven….and from the description in the Bible…it is going to be an awesome place.
Don’t forget who you are.
Don’t let the devil steal your joy
Don’t let the worries of the world overwhelm you with fear
God is in control….your Heavenly Father….your creator is in control and He will supply all of our needs.
Keep your priorities in check…..God first, country second, family third, and self last.
As we prepare to leave here today I would ask you to do 3 things:
1) Pray for our country and it’s leaders
2) Pray for this ministry
3) Thank the racetrack officials and sanctioning body for allowing us to meet here. Send them a letter, and e-mail or whatever. Don’t take this opportunity to put God first for granted as it could easily be lost.
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