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Life in the Fast Lane

The day started out like most.  Out of bed.  Shower.  Eat breakfast.  It started like most days, but this day would be unlike any other day…

After maneuvering through the race day traffic, we (my dad and I) finally found our way to the NASCAR credentials trailer.  Once we had verified who we were and that we were Chet McDoniel on the track at Texas Motor Speedwayin the right place, our passes were bestowed upon us, and we were led into the infield parking area of Texas Motor Speedway.  Our credentials worn on our shirts said “HOT” in large, red letters.  Although I had wanted it to be a commentary on our looks, the word HOT meant that we had access to wherever we wanted to go…the garage, pit row, the track itself…all access. We aren’t huge NASCAR fans (in fact this was our first race), but being men, we had a blast looking at these cars and watching the frantic pace at which the crews were driving themselves to get their team ready for the race.

Following a tour of the garage area, it was time to go to the tent where the Driver’s Meeting was to be held.  After working out some details for the chapel service that was to immediately follow the Driver’s Meeting, we relocated to a corner of the tent behind the stage in order to be out of the way.  I had pulled over even further out of the way to attempt to update my Facebook status when a man approached me, knelt down beside me, and said, “Hi, I’m Rick Perry!” Rick Perry is the governor of Texas, and I am definitely a fan of his work.  I was amazed that he would kneel down beside me to speak to me as I have often spoken about this kind gesture when I am doing a disability awareness presentation.

We made a few connections, and then he began to tell me about his anti-bullying video/campaign that he is gearing up for…and then he invited me to be a part of it!  I don’t know many details Chet McDoniel with Gov. Rick Perry, Glenn Beck and Marcus Luttrellyet, but it will be going to schools all over the state, and he asked me to play a role in the video and in getting the message out to schools.  Then, he said, “Hey, have you met Glenn Beck (former host of the Glenn Beck Show on Fox News)?”  I looked up, and Glenn Beck (who recently moved to Texas) was standing there with a big smile on his face.  The governor proceeded to tell Mr. Beck about this new project and my involvement.  After Gov. Perry stepped away, Mr. Beck and I began to talk about my speaking and my work with the pro-life movement.  We had a great conversation, and I hope to get to be with him more in the future.  Gov. Perry also introduced me to Marcus Lutrell, who is a former Navy SEAL.

Soon, the Driver’s Meeting began and was soon concluded.  After a few minutes of folks exiting and entering, the chapel service began.  We were led in worship by Richard Andrew, and then I was up.  The temptation to water down or soften your message is strong when you are speaking to celebrities.  Many NASCAR drivers and their teams stayed for chapel.  However, I had been encouraged that the people to whom I was speaking used this weekly chapel time as their “Sunday morning worship” as their schedules often preclude them from attending a church during race season.  I prayed for God to use me boldly, and I delivered a message to that race day crowd to challenge them to use their gifts for God.

You can be the best racer today, next week, and for the whole season, but unless you are Chet McDoniel speaking at NASCAR Driver's Chapel Serviceserving God and praising his name in your every day life, winning means nothing.  Perfection in your witnessing and service isn’t what God demands.  He does, however, demand that you try to serve in every way possible.  Many times, we cower away from witnessing because we are afraid we might screw up and fall flat on our face.  So, in order to avoid failing God, we don’t even make an attempt.  After all, wouldn’t making a blunder be worse than not trying?

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable of a man who goes away on a long trip.  Before departing, he leaves his servants some money and he expects them to do something with it.  He expects good stewardship of the funds.  One of the servants decides to “play-it-safe” and dig a hole to bury his master’s money.  Upon the master’s return, he becomes irate with the lazy servant.  His anger burns not because the servant failed to make money with the investment he had been given, but rather because the servant didn’t even try.  Serving God isn’t always easy…nor will you always be good at it.  But, you will bring a smile to your Heavenly Father’s face when you live your life for Him and you make an attempt at glorifying His name.  While the NASCAR drivers and crew members can easily get focused on their sport, my challenge to them was to focus on God and make their lives about Him.

Following the message, I was privileged to lead a song right along with Richard Andrew, and then we got a chance to talk to many of those who attended.  Hearing how dedicated they were to spreading the word of God encouraged me.  Now, though, it was time to get Chet McDoniel in Pit Row at Texas Motor Speedwaydown to business.  We were given a tour of pit row, and invited by some drivers to check out their cars and talk with them before the race.  I even got to take my wheelchair full speed along a flat section of the track.  Following the driver introductions (by Miss Kay and Godwin from the TV show Duck Dynasty), we left the track and watched as final preparations were made for the race.  While it was very hard to see the race from down in the pit, it was not hard to hear it.  I think my ears are still ringing two days later!  Once the green flag was waved, I got to see what speed is all about.  Wow is all I can say.  From our vantage point, my eyes barely had to time to focus on an individual car before it was long gone.  We didn’t stay for very long, but the little amount that we saw was thrilling.

So, how are you using your life for God?  I never thought that God could use a man with no arms to speak in so many places and in so many ways.  The world looks at my body and says it’s broken.  God looks at my body and says, “I can use that…if you’ll let me.”

Are you letting God use you?

(Special thanks to Motor Racing Outreach for having me speak at the NRA 500.)

Thank You God For God

Pro Life Speaker Chet McDoniel and daughter, HannahMost every night, I get the opportunity to read a Bible story to my (almost) four year old daughter, Hannah.  She and I treasure the time together, and I love watching her learn about God’s love.

After the Bible story, we talk about what we want to tell God that night, and Hannah always picks a few things from the day to give thanks for.  Most of the time, she gives thanks for her family and friends.  Sometimes it’s for a toy…you get the picture.  A couple of nights ago, she said this prayer:

Dear God,
Thank you for God.
In Jesus name,

At first, I thought that she doesn’t understand what she’s saying.  She doesn’t realize that we give thanks for God’s gifts or His wonderful creation.  But, that prayer has rattled around in my brain until I finally came to a much better conclusion.

Hannah prayed a prayer that I’ve never prayed.

I have never once thought to thank God for being God.   Thank Him for being who He is.  God does not have to be a merciful god.  There is no requirement on Him to be a god of love, grace, and mercy.  He could have easily chosen a different way to exist.  We exist because he is a god of love.  He could zap us out of existence with a blink of an eye.  But, he doesn’t.

So often, I get tied up in the culture we live in, and I begin to focus my thankfulness on the things I have.  Not necessarily material things, although I am grateful for what He has provided.  Even focusing solely on the wonderful family and life He has given me is potentially dangerous as my focus is on me…not Him.  Maybe I’ve forgotten that my things and my life that I am so thankful for are not for me…they are for Him.

My prayers are going to sound different.  I want to remember that God is love not because he has to be…but because He chose to be love.  He chose to be merciful.  He chose to send Jesus.  I am thankful to God for who and what He chose to be.

Thank you, God…for God.

How I Feel About God the Creator and His Creation

I am reading through the book Sex God by Rob Bell.  The book explores the connection between God and sexuality, and in one chapter, he deals with the way our thoughts, speech, and actions can hurt those around us.  He envisions a school hall setting in which some middle school boys are “rating” the body parts of some of their female co-eds.  Then, the line that really hit me…(and I am paraphrasing here)…how you treat God’s creation reveals what you feel about the Creator.

You see, in Genesis 1:27 (NIV), we read that the Creator and His Creation are intentionally similar:

So God created man in his own image,  in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

What does it mean to be created in the image of God?  Well, think about something you’ve created in the past.  Maybe you’ve painted something, written a poem, or you’ve given a great dramatic or vocal performance.  Everything you create has an element of “you” in it.  Your creation, whether big or small, reflects who you are.

God created male and female in His own image.  We reflect who God is.  Now, there’s a scary statement.  That means what I say, what I do, how I dress, what I think…etc…it all shows the world who God is.  So, when I start objectifying women or looking down my nose at others less well-dressed than me or maybe I gossip behind someone’s back about something they did, I am showing everyone around me that I think very little of God’s creation…and, that I think little of God, for He created everything.  I wouldn’t dare say, think, do these things directly towards God, so why would I do them towards what He created. 

Artists take their work seriously, and when you say or do something that negatively impacts an artist’s work, you hurt the artist.  God is the most creative and majestic artist in the entire universe…who am I to criticize His work?

So, the next time we feel the desire to lust or gossip or be prideful, we need to remember that the most incredible artist the world has ever seen, and will ever see, created the thing we’re being critical of…and…quite frankly, He does not care for our selfish critism.  

Praise be to God that He is not as critical of us as we are with His creation!

A Lesson in Self-Worth from the Top of Mt. Ginches

Our 6 month old has become enthralled with Bob and Larry from VeggieTales.  Joni and I think VeggieTales is much better than a good deal of the kids programming currently running on television, so we are glad she is so taken by the tomato and cucumber.  One episode that was recorded on our DVR has been playing over and over again in our living room over the past several weeks.  I love the message in the story, and wanted to relay it to you because of how profound the lesson is.

In the episode, “A Snoodle’s Tale,” Bob the Tomato tells a Dr. Seuss-like story of a little creature known as a Snoodle.  Now, most Snoodles are of average size, however, the young Snoodle playing the main role in the story (pictured right) is smaller than the others.  He tries his hand at art, music and even flying, but his talents are not as developed as the other Snoodles in town.  The Snoodles around him ridicule his efforts and make him feel terrible for even trying.  Every time the young Snoodle fails at something, the other Snoodles paint him a picture to commemorate the failure, and they place each painting in his backpack.  He eventually decides to leave town and head toward Mt. Ginches where he has seen the local “finches” flying and soaring through the sky. 

Once he reaches the top of Mt. Ginches, he finds a cave which is located “high above the clouds.”  Inside the cave, we meet a Stranger, the Creator of the Snoodles (which is a representation of God himself).  The Stranger sees the young Snoodle is very depressed, and he asks to see the paintings in his backpack.  The young Snoodle reluctantly complies, and is surprised when the Stranger announces that these paintings look nothing like the young Snoodle.  The Stranger tosses the terrible memories of the failures into the fire, and tells the Snoodle that He will paint a true image for him to carry in his pack.  Here are the words from the poem as it is told just as the Stranger has revealed His painting of the young Snoodle:

The boy in the portrait looked older and strong,
With wings on his back that were sturdy and long,
And a look in his eye, both courageous and free.
“Sir,” asked the boy, “Are you saying that’s–me?
‘d like to believe it, but, sir, I’m afraid to.” 

“I know who you are,” the man said, “for I made you.
I built the tower and set it in motion.
I planted the meadow–put fish in the ocean.
And I feed the finches, though most Snoodles doubt it,
Not one of them falls that I don’t know about it.”


I’ve seen you fall down in the mud and the goo.
I’ve seen all you’ve done and all you will do.
I gave you your pack and your paints and your wings.
I chose them for you. They’re your special things.”


“The Snoodle-kazoo is so you can sing
About colors in autumn or flowers in spring.
I gave you your brushes in hopes that you’d see
How using them, you can make pictures for me.”

“Most of the Snoodles,” the old one said sadly,
“Just use their paints to make others feel badly.”
The young Snoodle pondered the things he’d been told.
Then wondering something, grew suddenly bold.

But sir, if you made this incredible land,
Can’t you make Snoodles obey your command?”
The big one smiled warmly, then said to the small,
“A that’s demanded is no gift at all.” 

So often, I have tried to use my God-given talents much like the Snoodle did in the beginning.  He was all about impressing the other Snoodles.  At the first sign of ridicule, he decided it was not worth it, and he ran away.  He seemed to bury his talents since no one showed appreciation.  I LOVE the VeggieTale portrayal of God in this story.  We need to be reminded constantly that our talents and abilities were given to us to please God.  So, if you can paint, paint for God.  If you can sing or play an instrument, make music for God.  It is best put as a command in Colossians 3:17 (MSG):

Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

The Stranger finishes:

“Here’s what you look like; Here’s how I see you.
Keep this in your pack, and you’ll find it will free you
From all of the pictures and all of the lies
That others make up just to cut down your size.”

“And lastly, your wings. You know what they’re for!
But not just to fly, son, I want you to soar!


Praise be to God for the talents he has given all of us.  Are you using your talents to “soar?”