A Word on Second Chances from Fox Creek Christian Church

Mark Wells, lead minister from Fox Creek Christian Church, sent in this very moving article on second chances:

The past couple of weeks I’ve seen some great pictures of some of our young citizens at the Anderson County and American Legion baseball and softball fields. I’m so thankful for the men and women in our community that have dedicated themselves to working on our parks to provide great places for our kids to play. I’m grateful for all those who have volunteered to coach and train the kids on our youth baseball and softball teams. And I’m so appreciative of our community for supporting these kids in their love for the game.

In my younger days, I played Anderson County Little League and Anderson County High School Baseball. As one of the baseball coaches at the Christian Academy of Lawrenceburg for the past four years, I’ve regained my love and passion for the game. Now while I’m not a big fan of Sunday or Wednesday games and practices, because they are pulling so many families away from worship time, I do love to see kids outside playing and participating in America’s favorite pastime, instead of just sitting in a dark living room or bedroom with their faces staring at a computer or their eyes glued to a TV.

Back several years ago, Kenny Rogers released a song written by Don Schlitz titled, “The Greatest.” It’s one of those songs that immediately bring up memories of your childhood experiences or maybe your own children’s or grandchildren’s life events. For me this song and video always causes a little lump to form in my throat.

The song tells a story about a little boy that goes out to the ball field all by himself, wearing his baseball cap and carrying a bat and ball. As he stands at home plate, the kid puts his bat on his shoulder, tosses the ball into the air, and says, “I am the greatest player of them all!”

But as the ball comes down he swings and misses for strike one. The kid is undeterred as he picks up the ball, looks at it, and says, “I am the greatest there has ever been!” then he pitches it in the air. And as he watches the ball come down, he swings and once more he misses. “Strike two.”

The little boy adjusts his cap, looks at his bat as if to make sure there wasn’t a hole in it and a third time he pitches the ball up in the air and the song goes, “I am the greatest, the game is on the line!” and he gives his all one last time. And the ball goes up with the moon so bright, swings his bat with all his might. The world’s as still, as still can be, the baseball falls and that’s strike three.

Now it’s suppertime and his momma calls, and the little boy starts home with his bat and ball. He says, “I am the greatest, that is a fact, but even I didn’t know I could pitch like that!” He says, “I am the greatest, that is understood, but even I didn’t know I could pitch that good!”

I’m not sure how your year has gone so far. The first four months of this year may have gone very well for you. I also know that our small community has been hit by several tragedies over the last few months. It seems like this sleepy little town has been struck with problems more familiar to many of the bigger cities.

We’ve seen more drug related deaths, drug related arrests, fatal car accidents, abuse cases and controversial issues than we would care to see. A lot of people may be feeling like they’ve struck out in life. Well, the truth is, we’ve all struck out in some areas. We’ve all messed up and we’ve all failed.

But here’s the good news, you don’t have to justify your mistakes somehow; you don’t have to call failure by another name. Because, even though you may have messed up, as long as you have breath in your lungs, there is always another chance to begin brand new, especially with God. I love the way He can turn our strike outs into wonderful pitching exhibitions. Maybe you just need another chance, a new beginning, and a clean slate.

Great news! God is a God of second chances, and I, for one, am enormously grateful for that. I relish in the thought that our failures and sins are never greater than the grace of God. What we must remember is, our failures are in the past, and even though there may still be consequences for those failures, they do not determine what we will become in the future.

Now many of us have to learn some things about failure and one of those things is that failure is not final. If failure was final, none of us would make it. Just think about it, if failure was final, none of the people of the Bible would have made it. In fact, the Bible is one story after another of people who messed up repeatedly, and how they were coached along by God until they got it right.

Just a few names come to mind like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jonah, David, Paul and Peter. The Bible shows us that failure isn’t final. Listen to what God says to Isaiah in, Isaiah 43:25 “But I wipe away your sins because of who I am. And so, I will forget the wrongs you have done.” How amazing is it that? God gives us a chance for a do over! He says there in Isaiah, “Yeah, you’ve messed up, but I can forgive and forget. Go ahead you’ve got a do over.”

Again in the New Testament the Apostle Paul instructs the church at Corinth about how God forgives and forgets. It says in, 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Did you get that? Now I’m going to get a little preachy on you. None of us can fix our problems on our own, but when we turn all of the old things, like all of our mistakes, mess ups and failures over to Jesus, those things are gone, and we can look forward to new stuff, better stuff, and good stuff.

It’s true that bad choices lead to bad consequences. Many of us are living with the results of a wrong decision. It’s also true that God forgives our past sins, and that he heals the wounds sin leaves behind. BUT, that’s not to say there aren’t scars that remain even after the wound has healed.

But even scars can serve a purpose. They remind us of what happens when we rebel and try to do things the wrong way. They can also help us relate to other people who have wounds. We can help others know that wounds can heal and that the consequences of our actions can be redeemed.

Check out this wonderful news and it would probably serve us all well to learn the lesson: God uses everything in our lives — even our failures. If there is one way that humans consistently underestimate God’s love, it’s most likely in His deep desire to forgive us when we mess up.

Now I’m not saying that God is like some celestial “Grandfather” that turns his head when we misbehave and pretends like it never happened. No, God is very much aware of our sins and failures, and He will dish out our punishment. But more importantly, He longs for us to come to Him, leave those bad decisions and the attitude behind, and ask for His forgiveness which He is more than eager to give us.

And here’s the point that too many of us never get. Failure doesn’t mean that you’re finished. There are so many examples of successes that came out of total and complete failure.

Look at Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison was both hearing impaired and probably what we would diagnose today as having ADHD. He only lasted three months in school where his teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” His mother then chose to teach him herself, at home. In talking about his failed work on the invention of the light bulb, Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that do not work.”

Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he finally succeeded in mass producing the Model T automobile and changed modern travel. It’s said that Ludwig Von Beethoven’s music teacher said he handled the violin very awkwardly and was hopeless as a composer. Colonel Harlan Sanders went to over 1,000 places trying to sell his 11 herbs and spices chicken recipe before he found a buyer interested. Seven years later, at the age of 75, Colonel Sanders sold his Kentucky Fried Chicken company for $15 million!

And early in his career, Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas. Disney also went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. From the beginning of time God has taken man’s failures and turned them into something astonishing.

In Revelation 21:5 Jesus said, “I am making everything new.” The fact that Jesus says, “I am making everything new.” gives us hope. It gives us hope that even though I’ve messed up, even though I’ve made some horrible choices, even though I know I have the consequences to pay, EVERYTHING CAN BE MADE NEW; I have a second chance.

The most destructive thing you can do is to say: “This is just who I am. I can’t change at this point in my life. People are just going to have to accept me this way.” That may be true when we are talking about who you are, your basic personality, your traits, but it’s definitely not true when it comes to your hurtful and destructive and harmful actions and choices and decisions you make. When it comes down to your failures, your mistakes, your bad choices, you have to be humble enough to be willing to change. A second chance doesn’t mean much if you are going to continue to make the same bad choices, follow the same wrong roads, and do the same wrong things.

I know its tough being from a small town sometimes. It’s hard living in a place where everyone knows everyone else’s business. It’s difficult to put mistakes behind you when your next door neighbor and your pharmacist and your banker and the lady at the grocery and everyone else know about those mistakes.

But there’s a good thing about living in a small town too. When you own up to your failures, when you acknowledge your own mistakes and when you concede your weakness, there are usually people that care enough about you to help you out. In that small community like Lawrenceburg and Anderson County, there are usually people that when they see you on the street will stop and genuinely ask and say, “How are you doing? How can I help you? I’m praying for you.”

In these small communities people often recognize your struggle, either because they’ve been there or someone very close to them has and those wonderful people are usually there to help you out when you need it. If you’ve never experienced that kind of genuine concern and caring, maybe you need to try to be that person to others, because we know we’ve all made mistakes and messed up before.

You’ll find that when you become Christ like and you stop and pick up that one that has stumbled and fallen, you’ll help their faith grow just a little bit. You’ll find that when you demonstrate the same Godly qualities that helped you, for that person that seemed to have no hope, they may find a glimpse of hope in their second chance. And you’ll find that when you show genuine Christian care for someone that has really messed up in life, that person will begin to understand what real love can do for them.

You never know, when you take the time to show the love and forgiveness of Jesus to someone else, it could turn their strike three into one of the greatest displays of pitching prowess ever seen. And what could be better for this quiet, little community that many of us like to call home.

 

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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