Transcription details: Audio 06 10 2018.mp3
Input sound file: Audio 06 10 2018.mp3
you’ve all heard this. Growing older, let’s put it that way, growing older is not optional. Every day the sun comes up. [inaudible] gets a tiny little bit stiffer than when you were nine-years-old. Growing older is not optional but some people would tell you growing up is optional, you know why? We see all kinds of people around us who’ve never grown up. Now, if you have a brand new red convertible, I don’t mean to make fun of that because there isn’t a little child inside of all of us who needs to play but we will admit, there are a lot of people around us who still seem very childish and immature. Many people do not grow up. So if you look at the way the world is, you could say, “Well, I guess growing up is optional.” But I want you to know, John Wesley would not agree with you because John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement would say, “We are all supposed to grow up. We are all supposed to go on to perfection. We all should be a better person today than we were a year ago.” That’s what it means to grow up.” John Wesley called this sanctifying grace. God is reaching out into our lives to help us to grow up, to help lives to be better, not magically or by accident, but they help life to be better because we are better people and that takes time because growing up takes time. Growing up, John Wesley would say it’s not optional. And I like to also suggest that God the father would say that growing up is not optional. If you look at Matthew 28:20, the last verse of the great commission, or last verse in the book of Matthew, it says, “Now that we’re disciples, now that we’re Christians, now that we’re saint, whatever you want to say, it’s not that we sent back and do nothing and wait to go to heaven, we’re supposed to grow up. And what does it mean to grow up spiritually? We grow up spiritually as we learn to observe to live everything that Jesus command. And because we’re not perfect yet, we’re just going on toward perfection. This sort of growing takes time. It takes time to grow, and it also takes love. On Mother’s Day, we talk about mother love, we talk about mother’s love to each children unconditionally, we talk about mothers saying things like, “I love you so much. You’re perfect just as you are.” And you know something? That’s true of fathers too. Part of loving as a parent is to love and nurture unconditionally, and we need that. But [inaudible] around Mother’s Day, this is what we say about mothers. And as we get closer to Father’s Day, quite often, we talk about a different kind of love a father kind of love which may be a little hard to describe, but kind of love that encourages us, a kind of love that challenges us, the kind of love that causes a father to stand over [inaudible] and look down at a baby and say, “I can’t wait until you and I can play catch.” I can’t wait until you grow up because then we can go fishing, or hunting, or to a Cardinals game or to a Cubs game. I’m trying to be fair there. But fathers love little babies but they love what little babies become. It’s so wonderful to hold the little baby. But if that baby never grew up, wouldn’t that be attractive? What’s wonderful to me, particularly, is I see my son raise his granddaughters. I love the person he’s become. I am so proud of him. But you see, that’s a father kind of love. It’s not satisfied with how things are because of how wonderful things can be. A father love looks down on a child and says, “I love you just as you are, but I can’t wait until you grow up. I want to encourage you to grow up.” That was one verse of the bible I go to all the time about this. There’s hundreds that I would love to talk about we don’t have that time. Aren’t you happy? Here’s the one I know [inaudible] all the time– not quite yet. Here’s another reason just to remind you, all parents want babies to grow up, but here’s the question, how does God felt the children of God grow up. Here’s my favorite verse. From Hebrews, chapter 12 starting with the 10th verse, “And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons,” and this is a quote from the old testament. “My son, do not regard likely the discipline of the lord. Your [inaudible] courage when you are punished by him for the Lord disciplines him and her who he loves and chastises every son or daughter who he receives.” The heavenly father looks down and says, “You know, can we agree that that was a mistake?” “I want you to know,” our heavenly father says, “I believe you can do that.” People who are never asked [inaudible] you know what quite often happens? They get stuck in those immature stages of life and they hurt you because they never learn from any of their mistakes. Saddest thing you will ever see in the world is someone who doesn’t learn from their mistakes, you know why? The wheel just goes around and around and everything that hurts them and hurts people happens again and again and again until they learn their lesson. God the Father wants us to learn our lesson when we make a mistake. We’re [inaudible]. It is for discipline. It is for this learning that you have to ignore God is treating you as sons and daughters. For what son or daughter is there who his father does not discipline? Some of you are smiling because the discipline in your house was your mom. Your mom was the one you didn’t dare cross. But with God the Father we’re disciplined so that we can become better people.
What child is there who a parent does not discipline? If you are left without discipline in which all have participated, then you are not really a part of a family. Because what is family really does is encourage everyone to be better, and if people make mistakes, they encourage them to learn through their mistakes, and sometimes that encouragement gets louder and louder if the lesson hasn’t been learned. If you’re without that kind of discipline in which all have participated, then you’re not really part of a family. You’re illegitimate children and not [sons?]. Besides this, now the [Altar?] Hebrew’s connected the way he’s talking about God with human parents. Beside this, we’ve had earthly fathers that discipline us, and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to learn how to obey and what to obey? Shall we not much more be subject to the Father’s spirits and live [for sin?]? For our earthly parents, our mothers and fathers disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but our Heavenly Father disciplines us for our good so that we may share His holiness. If we go, then going on to perfection.
Let me tell you a story about my father. My father loved police auction bicycles. My mom was a stay at home mom in Belleville, Illinois. I was born in 1955, and somewhere around when I was five years old or so, my dad decided that I was ready to learn how to ride a bicycle. Now, I was not your typical five-year-old. When I was in sixth grade, I was 6′ tall. And I was pretty tall as a five-year-old, but that’s important in just a minute. My dad loved police auction bicycles because they were cheap. But to be honest with you, they were a little bit like Frankenstein bikes because the police in Belleville, Illinois all year long, when a bicycle was found abandoned, when a bicycle was involved in an accident, the police would gather it up and take it down to their impound block, and all year long this pile of broken bicycles would get higher and higher. So one, the [officers carrying the fronts?] all messed up. Not a thing wrong with the back. And they went out on auction once a year to raise money for charity, and you can buy a whole bike for five bucks. My dad loved that. He’s German. So here’s what you need to understand, I learned to ride a bicycle as a five-year-old on an adult-sized bicycle. The back of it was like the one you see there. It had little, skinny tires. The front of it had handlebars that went like this, and a huge, giant, fat balloon tire. Every part on it was a different color because every part came from a different body. It was literally a Frankenstein bike, but it was cheap. I can tell you that when my dad put me on, my feet could reach the pedals but my feet could not reach the ground. And I said to my dad, “Dad, I’m scared. This is going to hurt.” My dad said something to me like, “Yeah. It will hurt but you’ll be okay. You’ll be okay.” Now I can wish that I’d learned to ride a bike like this. Look at that brand new, beautiful, little red, white and blue bicycle. Isn’t it gorgeous?
Back in 1961, 1960, they did not wear helmets. To be honest, I needed helmets and knee pads and body armor and all kinds of stuff, because it wasn’t kind of a gentle, little push. My dad took us out into the road in front of the house; oil road, oil, and gravel. Stood in the middle of the road and ran as hard as he could with one hand on the handlebars, one hand on my back, as hard as he could and then he let go. It was not like this. I don’t really remember the first time, but I think I might have gone six feet before I keeled over and slid through the pea-sized gravel on the little road. My mom would not let me wear jeans because this would put holes in your jeans. So I was wearing shorts. And I said, “Dad, it hurt.” He said, “I know, it hurts, but you’ll be fine. Let’s do it again. I said, “I don’t want to.” He said, “Get back in the bike.”
So I’m back on the bike again and he’s got to hold me up because my feet literally won’t reach to the ground. So off we go running down the road again, about 10 to 20 feet, long enough to go a lot faster than I wanted. This time I might have made it 15 feet before I fell down and slid through the gravel, and it still hurt. And then there was a third time and a fourth time, but the weirdest thing, at some point in time that day, I learned how to do it. But when I look back on it, it still feels something like this, although it wasn’t that bad. My dad kept reminding me, “You know, this is going to hurt a little bit but you’re going to love it when you can ride your bike.” And he was right. See, sometimes when something happens
you have to hang on and keep learning and go through the hurt, because of what is on the other side that will make it okay. Here’s the very next verse and this is a verse for all of us when we’re going through difficult times. You’re going through a difficult time, I think it’s helpful for you to imagine perhaps God is trying to show me something. Perhaps what I should do is ask what am I supposed to learn because as soon as I have learned to stay on the bike it will stop hurting. Here’s the 11th verse. One of the most beautiful verses in the Bible to me. For the moment all discipline, all lessons, all challenges, for the moment, for the moment, in the present moment, they seem painful rather than pleasant. But later, see that word, that’s a very important word. Later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been, and here’s the word I love the most, trained by it. When I’m having a bad day, I say to myself, “What if this is training?” If I am involved in an argument with someone who should know better because they’re wrong and I’m right, but they’re just too stubborn to admit it– it does happen occasionally, maybe more often than that. I can say to myself, “What if I’m being trained by this?” The minute I learn how to keep my balance and keep moving forward it will stop hurting. Because if I keep my balance and keep moving forward, I won’t be crashing. And later I’ll look back on it, later I’ll look back on it, and think to myself, that was worthwhile.
Here’s another example of that that I think we should all keep in mind. When they nailed Jesus to the cross, in that moment, it was painful. But later, later it yielded something very beautiful and healing that blessed every person who has ever lived and ever will live. But if you think you’re having a bad day, I’d like to invite you to remember the day that Jesus had on the cross. And that because he yielded himself to go through it, not get stuck in, but to go through it, his willingness to endure yielded the peaceful fruit of righteousness, not just to him but to all of us. Friends, if it’s not a good day you need to hang on until you get to the later part. Hang on and keep learning and you’ll move from a time that may be like a cross to a time that may be like peace [inaudible].
Please pray with me. Lord, sometimes life comes with hard lessons and in the middle of those lessons, it is painful rather than pleasant. But help us, Lord, help us to hang on so that we can get to the later. Help us to learn Lord so that we can get to the later. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
When life causes you to need to say ouch, you have a friend in Jesus. Let’s stand and sing. [music]