Once again, we have arrived at the happiest time of the year for NASCAR fans—Speedweeks at Daytona. Last weekend, the engines began to roar and the Shootout was thrilling. Sunday was qualifying for the Daytona 500, and tomorrow the Gatorade Duels will set the starting grid. It has been a great start to the season, but one that has started under a cloud. NASCAR’s most successful champion, Jimmie Johnson, saw his 500 car disallowed because of what NASCAR determined to be rules violations in the construction of the C-post (between the window and the rear windshield), and parts were confiscated. NASCAR also hinted that there will be fines and perhaps suspensions for the alleged violation of rules. Rules are a necessary part of sports. They govern the action and keep the play fair for everyone involved. Paul even spoke of it in his second letter to Timothy, saying: "If anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules" (2 Tim. 2:5). In this context, he was giving his young protégé a series of lessons on faithful living—the soldier who is single-minded, the athlete who plays by the rules, and the farmer who works hard. In each case, we too can find lessons for how we approach living for Christ. But here is the key. Paul began this text by saying:

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:1-2).

Our response to these challenges will impact our ability to communicate the love and grace of Christ to others. And how does that response come about? By the strength of the grace of Christ! None of us can be the men and women of faith that our Savior deserves, or the example of faith that our brothers and sisters in Christ need, without His grace. Rules, focus, and hard work are not enough. We must rely upon the strength of His grace.   Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain