God’s Not Impressed By Your “Do”

Have you ever been driven by results? As a man, I have to admit that I hate to fail.  In creating this blog, I feared that it would never take off….and it still may not take off.  What I can tell you is that I am driven.  I want to see my Google Analytic results going sky or the sales on our site increase.  Nothing could set me up for what God had in store for me next.

One thing that I have never been able to shake up until recently is work.  I have always been driven by works.  I was always worried that someone was upset because I didn’t do good enough.  If someone was upset, I would take on the responsibility for their unhappiness not realizing that I was trying to play the part of God.  Let me explain.

Growing up  I would say to God “If you will…I will…” “If you do…I do…” thinking that I could manipulate God into doing what I wanted to do. The only problem was, God doesn’t go by what we do but what He has already done. We often, as Christians, have a works oriented mindset. We find ourselves walking down the road negating what happened at the cross. We decided our eternal destiny by standing on what we can do when Christ already conquered in turn trying to take the place of God.

God has not given us the authority to work our way into grace.  He already conquered it on the cross long before we even decided to sin or fail.  Before you and I were even knit our mother’s womb, God decided to send His Son to die for the sins that you would commit long after you were placed on this earth.  The authority of grace lies in the cross and in the cross alone. Without grace, we would find ourselves lost and deserted. Instead, because of the cross, we can now find ourselves free.

Grace does not give you a get out of hell free ticket or a free ticket to sin. No, grace causes you to not want to sin.  Grace causes you to want to show love to the Father. Grace causes you to come to Him instead of shying away from Him. Beyond Grace? Now you can see Him in a new light.

The Wisdom of Children

When I was but a wee lad lacking basic common sense, I once stuck my finger in one of those old ice crushers. I was fine. Just a little bleeding, no harm.

What was my excuse? Nothing. I was a boy. Boys do things that seem interesting, which are not always the smartest things.

So why do I have the same tone of voice when I see our mini Cooper getting ready to do something potentially dangerous and say “Be careful,” no matter if he’s just splashing sticky Sprite out of a big glass over his baby sister Penny’s head, or standing on top of a 20-foot ladder wearing a cape and yelling “Geronimo!?”

My guess is that it is the same emotions that parents have given in to through the years: exhaustion, frustration and the desire to keep everyone happy or stop whining.

That’s why when I have both my kids in my lap and trying to keep Penny from crying or pulling Cooper’s hair out, I’m far more prone to give in to her desire to play with anything she wants, including the Baby Einstein My First Sharp Object.

Yes, sometimes kids say something that yanks at the heartstrings. But they will also eat dirt and laugh at the smell of their own burps.

So why do we give kids credit for more wisdom than they deserve? Is it our desire to be child-like?

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul writes that “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

It’s not just the youngest kids, either. I can only roll my eyes when politicians trot out teens and college kids for votes. When it comes to listening to the young’uns to set public policy, Jonah Goldbergof National Review Online puts it this way:

“Youth politics are the cheapest form of identity politics. … Moreover, we treat them as if they’re geniuses precisely because they don’t know much and have little life experience. Of course there are incredibly bright and knowledgeable young people. But as a rule we’re all born stupid and ignorant, and that condition improves only as we become less young.”

Darling Valerie and I are not happy when shows like “America’s Got Talent” let through the young singers. Little kids are adorable when they sing, but they sound like little kids, and half their votes are because the judges are too nice and the audience wants to “ooh” and “awwww.”

(Man, do I sound like a fuddy-duddy right now or what?)

It’s the same reason you never want to be in the top three of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” with videos featuring babies or puppies. Cuteness always wins out, including with parenting.

So yes, when our Super Cooper smiles at me with that look that says, “Dada, you’re the coolest,” I will melt and give in to buy him at Christmas his very own Hasbro Bag O’ Glass. But be careful. You could put a rip in the couch with that.

– Jeff Rushing

Where Does Your Help Come From?

Many times, we fathers fail to rely on our Heavenly Father for our needs. We will work hours and hours of overtime, we will sell everything we have, and we will even go so far as to sell our time with God for our needs to be met. At times, we will rely more on the government more than we will rely on God because the government is more tangible. However, we have seen the failure and lack of integrity of the government in meeting the needs of the people. God is the one who provides for each and every one of His children.

I am a prosperity teacher. There. It’s out in the open and you can now put the stones away. I am not a name it and claim it follower. I don’t believe that you can speak that Rolls Royce into existence. I don’t see that point in screaming at the devil. I don’t see the point of yelling out that you are blessed since you and I both already know you are blessed (see Deuteronomy 28 if you are in doubt…) I have to admit this though; you will never see me teach or talk about being poverty minded or thinking that being in poverty is of God. Let me explain.

I struggled for years with this thought that God blesses His people. I would see “those preachers” on television that would talk about being blessed and talk about being prosperous and I would laugh. I had a great sense of skepticism towards those types of people. Many of them would shout and scream out how blessed they were so I guess I could say that it was a turn off. However, as I moved to St. Louis, I had a great longing for the things of God. I had always grown up in church but church wasn’t working for me. I had been burned with the people of God. But, I decided to give it another try. So, I started attending a church with my then girlfriend (now awesome wife) and I was appalled.

Our preacher taught time and time again that we are blessed. He would say “I call you blessed” at the end of each message. “How could you say that I am blessed yet I have great lack?” It was a challenge to even want to tithe knowing that I was struggling.

Now, as a father, I couldn’t fathom my children going without. We don’t spoil them but we do make sure that their needs are met. If they need food, we feed them. If they need a doctor, we take them. Before I became a father, I didn’t really realize this fact. Men, God is wild about you. And here is the wild thing about our Father in Heaven; He wants to meet your needs and go far beyond what you could ever imagine.

I got this revelation one day while reading in Matthew 6. “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?” The birds of the air are taken care of by our Father…wouldn’t He do more than what He would do for a bird? Just in the next chapter, Jesus was speaking “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” If your child asked for a piece of bread, would you instead give him a piece of rock? No. Absolutely not! Why then would your Father in Heaven do that to you or I?

Right now, as I write this, Sara and I are in a dry spell in our finances. I should say that we have been for the last 6 years. We certainly can’t complain since there’s food on our table. However, we continue to have things come up time after time that rob our finances of any prosperity. Does this negate the Word of God? It does not. It only proves that God is going to come through because He cannot lie. At the end of the day, I have to go back to Psalms 121:1-2, “I look up to the mountains-does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made the heavens and earth!” Our help comes from the Lord who made the earth. He owns a thousand cattle on a hill. And as Dave Ramsay would say “and He owns the hills too.”


Time To Go Potty!

I always compare a trip through Texas to driving on a treadmill: The view never changes and it feels like you haven’t gotten anywhere.

Have I mentioned that my boy Cooper has started potty training? Like, six months ago? And it’s still a work in progress?

Approximately 33.4 percent of all conversations in Rushing Estate are related to what is either going or coming out of our children’s bodies.

I have said the word “poop” more in the last three years than I’ve ever even heard used in all of my lifetime. Words like “toot” and “pee pee” are a natural part of our dialogue.

We can’t be alone, am I right?

I’m guessing there were drawings discovered when Pompei was dug up that show exasperated parents slumped on the floor while a dancing toddler runs around naked with a puddle next to the hole in the ground where they are supposed to “go potty,” or as they say in Latin, “deus poopoo un peepee miss un est toiletis ad nauseam.”

This is Reason No. 456 why Darling Valerie rocks: She voluntarily changes dirty diapers when I just don’t want my gag reflex to kick in.

I will kill bugs. I will kill snakes. I will harness the powers of the universe for time-travel, lift a car off a group of nuns and watch the same episode of “Thomas and Friends” ten times in a row, singing the theme song at full volume every time.

But when I get a whiff of a dirty diaper I hold my breath and – in that time-honored tradition – grab my child, pick him up, open the back of his pants and turn my head in amazement at the sights and smells within.

If there’s brown stuff, I roll over like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark when he sees all the asps underground and say, “Poop, why did it have to be poop?”

Now, you’re probably wondering, “What Does the Bible Say About Potty Training?”

Nothing specifically, even though you’d think that in Leviticus among the six million laws there’d be something.

Not even Focus on the Family’s article on potty training pulled out a verse to help, and they can find a verse about anything.

Taken completely out of context, my favorite verse about poops is 1 Corinthians 15:51: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed”

Besides, it’s not really about the kids, because it’s our job to train them up. Getting mad at a two-year-old for being hesitant to go No. 2 on a little potty shaped like a frog would be as frivolous as getting annoyed that your puppy keeps eating your slippers when you’ve never gotten around to training them otherwise.

The verses we need to focus on include patience and wisdom, following God’s lead, such as Psalm 86:15: “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”

Unless you really want to scar your children for life, then you could use Matthew 25:41: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…”

But then you’ll end up with either an explosion or constipation, and you’ll never hear the end of it from the Godly Mommy.

For the Grace of God

Recently, I have been reading on the grace of God in a book entitled “Destined to Reign” by Joseph Prince. So often, our thoughts and our hearts revolve around our sin and what we have done wrong. Sin means to “miss the mark” which is what we do on a daily basis. If not for the grace of God, we would all be condemned to hell. Now, hang with me because there is a point for us fathers to get on this. I am a pretty straightforward guy. The sky is blue, the grass (when watered) is green, God is love, and etc. My children are learning that pretty quickly as they are getting older and as they see it, what Dad says Dad means. That’s good, I guess, until they see that there is no leverage.

In Jonah, God had already prepared to wipe out the whole city and he had just the right man to go tell them. Jonah wanted no part in it. So far, he had heard that these people were the upmost heathens and they could all rot for all he cared. Therefore, Jonah would embark on a journey of running from God. While on this journey, God sent a fierce storm to get Jonah’s attention and attention is what God received. Jonah told the fishermen to cast him overboard and all would be well. Jonah would then be swallowed up by the big fish and then be puked up on the coast leading to the land locked city of Nineveh.

Soon, Jonah would arrive to the city and proclaim that God would wipe out the entire city if they did not repent. Unbeknownst to Jonah, the city did repent. Jonah went far from the city and sat to watch its impending doom. Something strange had happened… the city of Nineveh did not get flattened. God would spare the people and give them yet another chance. What happened to the God who wanted to squash this great city? The heart of God was compelled to show grace to His children, even though they did not deserve it.

Fathers, I am guilty. I have to admit that I am pretty graceless when it comes to our children. I have to daily remind myself of God’s grace when it comes to teaching our children. How much more does our Father in heaven extend grace and forgiveness to us as His children? In Matthew 18:21, we see a candid reminder of how much of Father extends His grace. Peter had had enough of being stabbed in the back thus he asked “how many times must I forgive my brother?” Giving a number of 70 times, he lays the ball in Jesus’ court. What is Jesus’ response? “Seventy time seven.” How does this correlate with God’s grace? If God is calling us to forgive others over and over again, would He not then follow His own instructions?

Here is the rest of the story: “Therefore, the kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king to decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors who was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold-along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned-to pay the debt. But the man fell before his master and begged him, ‘please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.” Take a moment and let that sink in men of God. The king heard the cry of mercy and grace from his servant and forgave the debt. God knew that you and I could not repay the debt that we owed and gave us grace towards the debt.

As we read on, we see that this servant did not appreciate the grace. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘ Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.” The servant of the king did not extend the same grace that the king had given to him. Here’s the irony; we are the same way. How often do you and I get cut off in traffic or have someone being promoted before us or have someone mistakenly bill us for something that we didn’t do yet we have a “how dare you” attitude? Ouch. This was the revelation that I received when reading this book. The revelation was that not only had God given me grace but that He expects me to extend grace. You know the rest of the story of the servant. Someone witnessed it and the king found out bringing him to the ultimate decision to throw him into the prison to be tortured. There’s a sermon in itself but I won’t go there.

If God turned His back on you and I every time we sinned, we would have no relationship because you and I sin on a daily basis. We miss the mark so often that Jesus had to die so that our sins would be cleansed. The ultimate act of grace was that instead of you and I getting the beating, Jesus received it. In order for our children to give grace to those around them, they must first see grace given to them.

Men, I challenge you in this area as God has challenged me. “If Jesus must forgive his ‘brother’ seventy times seventy times, why would our Heavenly Father not do the same for us? Why would He not follow His own example? We as His representatives must do the same for our wives, our children, our families, and the world around us.”

Into the Blender We Go

As God would have it, Josh would be a young married man who would find himself at the end of the relationship with his wife. The marriage wasn’t meant to be, didn’t work out or they came to the end of their ropes, whatever the case may be, they were no longer married.  Shortly after, Josh met his new bride and along with this beautiful woman was another beautiful woman.  Her four year old daughter was brought into the picture and now the two became three. As Josh would say, he had an instant family.  Not long after their marriage began, they were blessed with a little boy.  Being married now 2 years, Josh and his bride have blended their families.
“Something I had to realize when I married my wife is that when I married her, I married my daughter.  These two lives were now combined into one and she was a major part of it.” Josh became candid, as he always is when he is passionate, during our talk about blended families.  “I became very resentful of Katie. For some reason, it rose up in me.  Perhaps it was a selfish nature. She wasn’t ‘my daughter’. Then I came to the realization that she didn’t ask for me to marry her.  She didn’t ask me to marry mom.  She didn’t have a say in it. Now, I have realized that I am married to my daughter.” Josh has come a long way from being resentful to loving his new daughter. It didn’t come without a price.
Josh had to learn that he was first a husband to his wife then the father to the daughter that wasn’t really his.  I listen to Josh and how he fervently cares for both his children. One thing that he learned is “anyone can be a dad but it take a real man to be a father.”
Along with the resentment towards his daughter, he found that she had a hard time adjusting that he was the disciplinarian.  Many times in blended families, the children become hostile and resentful because now they have multiple adults attempting to act as the parent and this causes much confusion.  Josh had to work with his wife and her daughter to find a healthy balance to the discipline. In the end, though Katie prefers her biological father’s relaxed parenting style, it is Josh who gets hugs at night and the privilege of praying for boo boos.
 I believe that when we find ourselves in this situation, we can truly relate to the Father.  He has adopted each one of us as His own.  Recently, I grasped a revelation that was shared by a pastor friend of mine.  When John was writing the book of John, he referred to himself as “the disciple that Jesus loved.” The word love is often mistaken as the Greek PHILEO love which means to simply approve of  but instead, this word for Love was AGAPE meaning “to be fond of.” John grasped the theory that Jesus didn’t just like him but Jesus truly was fond of John.
How often do we miss the opportunity to relate to our children through AGAPE love instead of PHILEO love our children? Josh and his beautiful bride will have the opportunity to love their children with the love of a parent. But now Josh will have another great opportunity, to show his daughter that she is special to him because he chose her.

I would probably add a disclaimer like “This article is not intended on taking the place of marriage counseling or any other professional advice. Please seek the advice of a competent professional.

The Gateway to a Great Family Vacation…. St. Louis!

So far this week we’ve hit on Chickasaw National Park, & Kansas City for some great family vacations. Well I would like to tell you about one of my favorite places to vacation that has been a Childress favorite going on 33 years now, St. Louis. There was so much to do there that was family friendly and so many memories that came out of these trips. From the moment we left our house, riding in the back of the station wagon (yes the back), stopping in Sikeston MO. for lunch at Lamberts Café, staying in the Sheraton on Lindbergh Ave. with the indoor swimming pool, going to all the FREE venues St. Louis had to offer, hitting a Cardinal game or two, it was always a packed full vacation. I couldn’t think of a better place that was budget friendly, and close by to take my small family. Last summer we did just that.

Last summer we set out on our St Louis vacation by stopping at Lamberts Café in Sikeston MO. Now if you  like traditional country fried food, okra brought to your table still in the pot, thermos size cokes, and the likely chance of getting hit by flying steaming hot rolls then this is your place.

Our first stop entering into St. Louis was the famous Magic House. I remember going to the Magic House as a kid. It is the ideal exploration place for kids. It is very similar to Memphis’ Children’s Museum but WAY better. Did I mention that is was FREE? Last year families of four could get in free on Wednesdays!

To save on $$$ our biggest expense was of course hotel cost. To save on money we stayed in a Hampton Inn & Suites outside of the main city. Note: It’s always cheaper to stay outside of any big city as long as you don’t mind adding on a few extra miles to your commute. This particular hotel was great due to its complimentary breakfast and suite style bedrooms (one for the kids & one for mommy & daddy).

Day 2 we ventured to downtown St Louis to one of the strangest yet most interesting buildings I’ve ever been in, the City Museum. This 600,000 sq ft abandoned shoe company was transformed into a multi level building of chaos. There was so much to do, see, and explore that it’ll be impossible to squeeze it all in one day. There was something for everyone including my then 10-mont- old, 4 year old, and the adults. It’s also incredibly hard to explain what all this place is, so I suggest you visit the site and be amazed for awhile.

We spent our entire day at the City Museum before retiring back to the hotel for naps. After naps we ventured back into downtown St Louis to take in some of the night life “Family Style”. One of the “must sees” of St Louis is the famous Gateway to the West, the St. Louis Arch. This stunning structure is immaculate to see during the day glimmering in the sun but it is breathtaking in its nighttime setting. We had a chance to tour the underground museum as I had done many times before as a child, but nothing compares to loading up in the pod style elevator and taking it to the top of the arch. From there you can view the entire skyline of St. Louis and like us catch the National Champion St. Louis Cardinals play a little baseball.

Day 3 found us exploring yet another FREE adventure in St. Louis, the St. Louis Zoo.  We spent the entire day at the zoo and still didn’t get to see it all. We saw all of the animals we could see, caught some shows, rode the train around the venue, and stopped for the occasional ice cream. There was even a concert on the grounds towards closing where families can bring their blankets and picnic baskets for a little music on the green. I’m still partial to our Memphis Zoo, but the St Louis zoo holds a very close 2nd.

With one day left on our vacation we still had so much to see but not enough time to see it all. Shannon and I stumbled across an exhibit that we knew our oldest Emmerson would absolutely go crazy over. Outside of the city there is the Missouri Botanical Gardens area that was hosting an exhibit called the Butterfly House. Our daughter loves butterflies, so what a better way to end our trip than walking into a conservatory filled with over 2000 butterflies of various species. This was an amazing site to see I must say and I have not seen anything else like it. One even landed on Cole’s knee, but flew away before he could eat it (and he would’ve).

Like I said there is so much more to see in St. Louis than what we saw but we only had so much time to squeeze in what we could. A few other St. Louis places to visit are Six Flags, Grant’s Farm, St. Louis Cardinals, Union Station, Transportation Museum, LacLede’s Landing, and so much more. I would recommend you visit www.explorestlouis.com to get a full scope of family activities. Our vacation kept us very busy and was packed with fun for the whole family. It is definitely one that we will always remember.


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