A Word on Faithfulness from Fox Creek Christian Church

Photo by Greg Walters

Photo by Greg Walters

Mark Wells, lead minister from Fox Creek Christian Church, sent in an amazingly moving article on faithfulness. Drawing from personal experience, he paints a wonderful story on what a world and community would be like if everyone was more faithful:

I can remember many times sitting around listening to my grandparents talking to their friends or to each other about various subjects and hearing them use a word or phrase that made no sense to me whatsoever.  I remember once telling my grandfather about wanting to spend my birthday money on some sea monkeys that were advertised in a comic book that I had. My Granddaddy looked at me and said, “Now don’t go wastin’ your money buyin’ no pig in a poke ya hear.”  I remember being thoroughly confused or thinking that he must have been thoroughly confused because I wasn’t even planning on buying a pig; I wanted sea monkeys.  Then he explained to me that he meant I should get all the details on what I was buying before spending my birthday money on something that probably wasn’t what it was made out to be and that I would be disappointed in.  I thought the phrase was funny because I’d never heard it before, and I remember going around for the next several days calling my little brother a pig in a poke, because he wasn’t everything my parents had promised a little brother would be.

On another occasion, I remember sitting around the dinner table with my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins talking about all kinds of things, when the subject changed to some of the distant family.  I remember my Granny saying, “Well I don’t doubt it, you know she’s just a bit addle-minded.”  And again I was confused.  What kind of language was this?  I had no idea what addle-minded meant, but by the way my Granny said it, I figured that addle-minded wasn’t a good thing to be.  My inquiry didn’t render much help either; my Granddaddy just answered and said “You know tetched, tetched in the head.”  I wasn’t sure what “tetched” meant either so I asked someone else.  Then someone explained, “It means she’s crazy. But don’t go saying that to anybody.”  Ahh, I was starting to catch on, my grandparents had a whole different language than I did, but as time went on I started to understand more and I even find myself today using some of the antiquated words and phrases that they used.  And it’s funny to see the looks on people’s face when I say things like, “addle-minded” and “tetched”.

Every generation has words and phrases that come in and go out of style.  Some come back like the 70’s catch word “Groovy” and then others just don’t quite make it except in TVLand re-runs.  For those of us in our 40’s the word “Radical” makes us think of parachute pants, sweaters tied around your neck, Jordache jeans and big teased hair.  For those older than that, it conjures up memories of extremist 60’s war protesters and liberal college professors.  Words and phrases constantly go out of use or change their meanings.  Even words and phrases found in some of the older translations of the Bible have changed meanings or disappeared from common use altogether.  Take these passages from the King James Version of the Bible for example.

“And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will ADVERTISE thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days.”  Numbers 24:14, KJV

Advertise in this text doesn’t mean to broadcast something on radio, television or newspaper.  Instead the antiquated word “advertise” as it’s used here means to inform or counsel.

Then there’s this verse found in I Corinthians.

“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be ANATHEMA Maranatha.” I Corinthians 16:22, KJV

Now I consider myself a fairly well educated person, but this word anathema is a word that I had to look up for its 17th century meaning.  I found that anathema means a cursed thing.  How many of you knew that?

What about this one from Psalm 31:23?

“Love the Lord, all his FAITHFUL people!  The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full.”  Psalms 31:23, NIV

Now I’m sure you are saying to yourself, “Hey I know that one!”  But do you?  Do we really know what it means to be faithful these days?  I wonder sometimes if our society and even our church knows what faithful means.  Everywhere you turn, there seems to be a contagious case of infidelity floating around.  Husbands who are unfaithful to their wives and wives who are unfaithful to their husbands.  Employees who are unfaithful to their employer and employers who are unfaithful to their employees.  Friends who are unfaithful to each other and even Christians who are unfaithful to their church and their GOD.  The lack of attendance, involvement, tithing, working, studying, praying and praising is all unfaithfulness.  I know it sounds kind of harsh, but the truth is, we are an adulterous generation, found unfaithful to each other, to the Church and to God.

We allow all kinds of other things dictate how faithful we really are.  It’s as if we weigh our options each day to determine how faithful we are going to be.  If we find a more appealing job then we say, “I don’t owe my employer anything.  He’s got his I’m going to get mine.”  If we see a more appealing person than what we have already committed ourselves to, then we say, “Life’s too short to be tied down to someone I don’t like, after all I deserve to be happy.” If we find something more appealing than attending worship on Sunday we say, “God will understand, I’ll go to church next week, I’ll give a little extra money when I get it, I’ll teach a class or lead a small group next time, I’ll catch up on my Bible study later, I’ll pray tomorrow, I’ll praise Him more next week.”  Is that what our lives have become, one unfaithful move after another?  Is that what our Christianity has become, a “religion” of convenience?  Remember what Psalms 31:23 said about faithful people?  Look at this, “…The Lord preserves those who are true to him…”

I don’t remember reading the Dr. Seuss’ book Horton Hatches The Egg when I was a kid, but when my daughter was small, we joined a Dr. Seuss book club that would send us a new Dr. Seuss book every month.  And I do remember reading, Horton Hatches The Egg to her because there’s this one catch line from Horton that stuck with me.  During the story Horton continued to repeat the phrase, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful one hundred percent.”  For those of you that don’t know, the book is about Horton (an elephant) convinced by an irresponsible bird named Mayzie to sit on her egg and keep it warm while she takes a break.  However, Mayzie’s break turns out to last for several months.

While Horton sits in a tree on Mayzie’s nest, he is laughed at by all of his jungle friends.  He is exposed to rain, sleet, and snow.  Horton is then captured by hunters who are amazed at this elephant sitting in a tree on a nest.  Horton is then removed from his jungle home, forced to endure a terrible sea voyage, and finally placed in a traveling circus as a sideshow to be gawked at, poked at and made fun of.  Through all of his trials and tribulations each time Horton is asked why he is doing it, he simply repeats his mantra, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful one hundred percent.”

As the story comes to an end, Mayzie the bird, who just happens to be enjoying her time at the circus, finds Horton just in time to see her egg begin to hatch.  Immediately, Mayzie wants to resume her responsibilities and demands the egg back, but Horton refuses to relinquish his charge.  And lo and behold, when the egg completely hatches, out comes this tiny winged elephant that recognizes and loves Horton for his undying faithfulness.  Perhaps this story resonates so loudly with me because I’ve seen undying faithfulness firsthand.

That same Granny that taught me what addle-minded meant, suffered a stroke about 10 years before she passed away.  The stroke left her paralyzed on one side, unable to speak clearly and unable to care for herself.  My Granddaddy became her caregiver.  He cooked for her, he cleaned for her, he feed her, he dressed her, he bathed her, he fixed her hair, and he faithfully loved her.  When my Granddaddy contracted cancer, his body deteriorated very quickly. He became so weak he could barely walk, he couldn’t eat, and he couldn’t care for himself.  But, up until the day he took his last breath, every time he heard my Granny call out, he would try to climb out of the bed and go take care of her.  My Granddaddy truly understood what faithfulness meant.

The moral of the story is simply this, be faithful, even when it’s difficult.  Be faithful, even when we think there’s something better out there.  Be faithful, even when we don’t feel like it or it hurts or it feels like no one cares.  Be faithful.  In Dr. Seuss’ story, Horton’s ability and determination to stay true and steadfast despite all manner of disasters carries a traditional spiritual message: Horton is faithful, not only to his external obligations, but to his moral convictions as well.  Again, the writer said it this way in Psalms 31:23, “Love the Lord, all his faithful people!  The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full.”

We live in a wonderful community, a community filled with lots of honest people.  We shop in local stores where we turn over our hard earned money to buy things our families need, and we trust those stores to provide us with good products.  We take our cars to local mechanics who we trust to fix the problems and not take advantage of us  We put our money in local banks where we know it will be there when we need it, and we trust our neighbors to watch out for us as we watch out for them.  Fortunately, in a great community like Lawrenceburg, our trust is usually rewarded.  But just imagine how much better this community and this world would be if everyone was as faithful as an elephant.  Be faithful and share hope with someone that needs hope, share love with someone that needs to feel loved, and share your faith with someone that needs someone to be faithful.

 

Written by Mark Wells, Lead Minister at Fox Creek Christian Church.mark

Mark grew up at Fox Creek and has served on staff at Fox Creek Christian Church since January of 2010. Mark graduated from Kentucky State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and is working on his Masters Degree in Theology. Mark is married to his wife, Shanda and together they have 2 children Mickenzie and Hunter. You can email Mark at Mark@foxcreekchristian.com.

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