Takes a licking…..keeps on ticking!

Years ago, Timex had a slogan about their watches:  “Timex…takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”  The idea was simply that no matter what you did to a Timex watch, it would keep working.  If I remember correctly, they even had a commercial that showed a barren wasteland after a nuclear explosion.    Lying on the ground was a Timex watch…ticking away!

Faith is a lot like that…it takes a licking and keeps on ticking!  So many things try to disrupt our faith.  But it seems that we as the church just keep ticking away.

Satan hates our faith.  Why?  Because the root cause of his fall from heaven is the idea that he lost faith in his creator. Illustration:  What amazes me is this: He pushes us…and often tries our faith…and most often pushes us right into the arms of God.  He can’t seem to be able to control himself…and the result is that we grow in faith.

But here’s the deal: Even though our faith is shaken up at times, even though our faith is challenged and disrupted…we have to continue to lean on the understanding that behind it all…God is at work.

Whatever….

whatever

I don’t know if any of you get as irked at hearing a teenager utter the word ‘whatever’ as much as I do, but I have noticed something about my amazing bride.  Now if you know her, don’t readily assume, that her response to you is the same as to me, but after 29 years with her, I have learned the real meaning behind her ‘Whatever’!  and that in a nutshell is this!  It means, ‘I’m right, your wrong, and you just need to shut up!”

This morning we were talking about getting results from prayer and how God answers those prayer.  I have often used the idea, that God answers all prayers.  Sometimes yes, sometimes no, and sometimes not yet!  Maybe God’s answers are closer to Rachelle’s!  Since He always knows what is best for us, and delivers based on that, then maybe when we pray our answer is a ‘Whatever’!  Really?  You just prayed for that?  I’m right, your wrong, and you just need to shut up!

Grace and Forgiveness part 2…

forgiveness

We’ve all asked this question at one time or another. “How many times do I have to forgive this guy? I’m getting tired of it. Why does he keep hurting me like he does?” Peter may have been thinking of a time when somebody wronged him and he had extended forgiveness. But, this same person did something to hurt him the next day. Again, Peter forgave him. A couple days later, his friend lied to him. This time, Peter reluctantly forgave him but now he’s ticked off. Peter wanted Jesus to help him set some forgiveness limits. Peter wanted to know when it’s OK to say, “That’s it. You’ve messed up one too many times!”

I wonder if Peter here is thinking of something his literal brother Andrew did. Maybe Andy didn’t put the fishing nets away, or maybe he was always borrowing Peter’s Old Navy jacket, or maybe he borrowed some shekels for some Chalupa’s at Taco Bell and never paid Peter back.

Whatever the case, before Jesus could answer, Peter responded to his own question by suggesting that seven times would be a good limit. That’s not a bad answer. The rabbis back then taught that you had to forgive someone three times and then you could retaliate. The fourth time you could do whatever you liked. In fact, they mistakenly taught that God only forgives three times. Peter doubled that and added one for good measure. I think he thought his answer would impress Jesus.

To be honest, forgiving someone seven times is commendable. Most of us get frustrated if we have to forgive someone twice. By human standards, what Peter said was admirable and perhaps even extravagant. But Peter wanted a number, a limit, a place where he could finally say, “That’s it — you’re not getting away with this any longer. Our friendship is now over.” As Jesus often does, his answer to Peter was unexpected and disarming. Take a look at verse 22: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times.”

The crash you hear is Peter hitting the ground in a dead faint. He couldn’t believe his ears! Seventy times seven? He got out his pocket calculator [BRING CALCULATOR] and punched in the numbers. That’s 490 times!

Grace and Forgiveness go together…

Forgiveness_wordle

Relational viruses attack every friendship.  Tensions arise. Wrongs are done.  Lies are told.  Trust is broken.  Since we’re imperfect people, we’re bound to have trouble with forgiveness.  I’m convinced that relationships are built not on a standard of perfection, but on our ability to ask for forgiveness, and upon our willingness to extend forgiveness.  In other words, grace must impact both our friendships and our forgiveness. If you and I want to have relationships that last for the long haul, then we must be willing to extend forgiveness to others.  Here’s another way to say it: In every relationship you have, you will constantly be called on to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.  Forgiveness is costly — it’s not easy to ask for forgiveness and it’s certainly not easy to extend forgiveness to those who’ve wronged us.

 “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.”  Proverbs 18:19

Here are two problems as to why we struggle with forgiveness: Forgiveness is not natural.  That’s why it’s so hard to do.  Forgiveness is not fair.  Our sense of justice wants to be vindicated.

Of all the people in the Bible, Peter stands out as the most mathematical of the disciples.  He was a stickler for detail, always trying to pin down the precise meaning of everything Jesus said.  Do you remember when Jesus engineered a miraculous catch of fish?  It was Peter who sat down and counted each squirming one to find out that they caught 153.  If you were to take your Bible and count the number of times that Peter messed up, you’d discover that he needed forgiveness on at least 7 different occasions.  Being a numbers-guy, one day Peter came up to Jesus and asked him a question:

 “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?Matthew 18:21

I find his question a bit amusing.  Here’s Peter, the one who needed personal forgiveness on at least 7 different occasions himself, being concerned with how many times he had to forgive someone else.  He was trying to discover a mathematical formula for grace. When you think about it, we all have some barriers that keep us from giving the gift of forgiveness to others. We have a threshold that we don’t want to cross, a limit we won’t go beyond.

When to Lead and When to Follow….

There are times, that Rachelle and I have found ourselves in some tough spots.  Sometimes being in ministry places us in situations, that while we are capable of leading, we would prefer to follow.  Over the last 13 years in full-time ministry, we have seen and experienced some of the happiest times of our lives together, sitting at the helm of leadership.  We have experienced joy unspeakable, watching our children grow up, with parents actively involved in the church, and we have had to make some tough choices in child rearing, as to our children’s involvement in the things in our church when all their friends attend elsewhere.

While there has been joy, there has also been pain.  Sometimes unimaginable pain.  While we have laughed some, we have also cried some too!  We have mourned with friends and strangers, stood beside countless hospital beds and caskets, been with some when life comes into the world, and been with others as they leave it.   It doesn’t seem to get any easier either!  It is often times, the hardest to help others see the bigger picture, when you find yourselves stuck, between doing the right thing, and doing the easy thing!

Being a ministry family, is often very lonely.  Most people don’t realize, the hours spent away from family, the endless weekends that keep us at home, unable to do the simple things such as taking the kids camping or to a zoo.  Even worse for those of us, blessed to be serving in a small church, where another full-time job is required just to make ends meet.  By the time, I get past the work week, with Sunday, Tuesday, Thursdays already gone, and work nights again on Friday nights, we only have Saturday to attempt anything remotely resembling family time!  And that is almost always, prearranged because of all the work here on the farm that went undone during the week.

I Know!  I am having a bit of a pity party, and I have to remind myself of Philippians 4:13,

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”!

But we are tired!  We are burned out!  We are disappointed!  We spent the better part of the evening in tears, with what should have been a great new beginning, but as it seems, may be an ending instead, and because this new circumstance involves those closest to us, we feel our only recourse is to let God do what He wants to do with it, after all He is in control!

 

 

The second best gift God gave you is choice….

The greatest gift that God has given you is salvation by Jesus Christ.  He came and died on the cross so your sins could be forgiven.  You need to accept that gift.  The second greatest gift you were given in life is the freedom to choose.  That’s why keeps you separate from an animal.  You’re not an animal.  Animals do not have the freedom to make moral choices.  They don’t.  Why?  Because they’re not made in God’s image.  Animals live by instincts.  Instincts are things you have to do because it’s your instinct to do it whether you choose to do it or not.  Human beings are made in God’s image so we have the ability to make choices, moral choices and value choices and time choices in all these things.

That’s an incredible gift.

Job 34 says“We can choose the sounds we want to listen to [on our Ipods] and we can choose the taste we want in food [thank God for that one!]  and we should choose to follow what is right.  But first of all we must define what is good.”

I can do all things….

Philippians 4:13 says this “There is nothing I cannot master with the help of Christ who gives me strength.”

 That’s a pretty amazing statement in the Bible.  There is nothing I cannot master.  You’re either going to be mastered by the clock or you’re going to master it.  There’s nothing I cannot master with the help of Christ who gives me strength.

Do you really believe that?  We’re not talking here, folks, about positive thinking.  We’re not talking about buck it up and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and self-help psychology – I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!  No, that’s not it.  You need more than positive thinking.  You need supernatural help to manage your schedule, to manage your clock, to manage your calendar.  God says I can do it.  I can master it.  I can manage it with the help of Christ who gives me strength.

What’s He talking about here?  He’s saying I have to believe that God will help me.  Faith is a factor in how you manage your life.  It’s a matter of faith.  Jesus said, “According to your faith [that means how much you believe] it will be done unto you.” 

Happy 29th Anniversary To My Bride!

Familiy Pics 2-2008 (35)

I have been blessed beyond belief to have had beside me and amazingly beautiful woman of God, whom I adore.  To my wife, I say thank you, for the five children we have been blessed with, and for the 29 years you have raised me!  You are smart, funny, driven, focused and beautiful!  Your world has stood by and watched as you marched your way through this Bachelor’s degree program in five years, all the while maintain your 4.0 GPA!  All of your family and friends could not be more proud of you!  Happy Anniversary Rachelle!  I Love You!

Grandpa Ashley Lawnmower closer

This is my Dad!  Billy McChesney, born in 1942 in Prescott Arkansas.  Got married in 1960 and saw me for the first time in 1962.  To everyone he knows, he is “Billy Wayne”  and has met very few people he didn’t like, and those he didn’t, deserved it.  Growing up, I watched him smoke cigarettes till his heart doctor, said no more, by then I was also following in his footsteps.  Seeing his strokes and subsequent pacemaker installation, I followed again in his footsteps in 2004 and quit smoking myself.

I never saw him drink, outside of the occasional eggnog at the holidays, and only then, because my Uncle Carl brought it and the leftovers would sit in the cabinet until the next time they would get together.

I never heard him cuss, well not really; his cuss word was ‘crap’.  Depending on how he used it!  If he was talking about the ‘crap’ on the news or the ‘crap’ on TV, I didn’t flinch, but if was helping him with the car, and I heard ‘CRAP’ while he was under it, I knew to pick up my feet, cause a wrench was probably coming out from under it!

He was a perfect example of how and man should treat his wife, and although we never had much money, we still had everything we needed, even if he had to take a couple of side jobs to do it!  I don’t think I ever saw him sitting around, always working on something or remodeling the house or fixing something, even after working 12 hours or more.

This is my dad, and while I will never measure up the standard he set for himself, I did know right from wrong, and learned how to treat all people with dignity and respect, and watched him lead by example into my own adulthood.  And never a week goes by, that I don’t make that phone call, to ask how I can solve whatever is the problem of the day.

This is my Dad, and I love him!  Happy Father’s Day Dad!

Train up a child….. each one differently….

It’s normal for all of us as parents to want to train all of our kids in the same way.  We think that’s being fair.  Treat them all in the same way.  There’s only one problem with that – it doesn’t work.  Anytime I hear somebody say, “I just treat all my kids the exact same way,” you’re not a very good parent then.  Because your kids are not the exact same so they need to be treated in different ways.  Not unfairly but in different ways.

Let me take a little survey here.  How many of you grew up with either a brother or a sister?  How many of you would say that in style, I am extremely different from my brother or sister.  I rest my case!

Just because you’re raised in the same family doesn’t mean you’re all the same.  You are not.  You’re very, very different.  It’s really funny.  The most self-righteous people are people who only have one child and they get lucky and that first one is compliant.  They think it’s a result of their parenting.  They just got lucky on the draw.  They should have number two!  Then they’re going to be a lot less haughty about their parenting skills.  They think that little junior is great because they’ve done something.  No you just got lucky and had a compliant child.

Some kids come out of the womb saying, “Mama!”  And other kids come out chewing on a cigar saying, “I dare you to make me laugh!”  They’ve got their dukes up ready to fight coming out of the womb.  It had nothing to do with your parenting skills.  It’s just a matter of genetics.  If you try to treat those two the same way as a parent, you’re a fool.  It doesn’t work.  Anybody knows that you can discipline two kids the same way and one of them it crushes them and the other one laughing to the bank!  We’re just different in style.

“Train up a child in the way he should go,” means you understand his stage of life, you understand his strengths, and it means you understand his/her style and you adapt accordingly as a parent.  You never try to turn an extrovert into an introvert.

1 Corinthians 12:6 says “God works through different people in different ways.”