Devotion in Motion: The virtues of preparation

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I carry a very large lunchbox to school. Sometimes people poke fun at me, saying things like, “Hey John, is that thing from ‘The Napoleon Dynamite Collection’?” But I don’t mind that at all. People laughed at Edison and Einstein, too. And besides, my industrial- sized lunchbox is one of the tools that helps keep my life on track.

Not too long ago the doctor told me that I am pre-diabetic. (Historically, this is something that has happened to all the men in the Cash family when they turn lunchbox50.) So I’ve really tried to straighten up my act about what I eat on a daily basis.

I’ve discovered that I can keep my blood glucose at perfect levels if I’m careful to eat the right things. And I’ve found out that if I carry a lunchbox, I eat things like lean meat, non-carby-vegetables, salads, homemade soy yogurt, and fresh fruit. However, when I don’t have my lunchbox, I eat fast-food burgers, cookies, and things out of the snack machine. It’s really just that simple. For me, failing to plan to eat good food is the same as planning to eat bad food.

I heard a good sermon on the radio the other day. The preacher was talking about Mary and Martha and about how Mary sat at the feet of Jesus while Martha was scrambling around with the duties of the house. Usually, preachers blast Martha and tell her that she needs to be more like Mary.

But this speaker said something that has a lot of wisdom. It’s a statement that has stuck with me ever since: “If you want to be Mary on Sunday, you’ve got to be Martha on Saturday.” Clearly, failure to prepare is the same as planning to be absent. The “Lunchbox Principle” prevails again.

This week, let’s do our best to make advance preparations to do the things that are right. It’s never a mistake to make it easy to do what is good.

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the lunchbox-carrying-Preacher has had perfect blood sugar levels all week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

Devotion in Motion: Spiritual encouragement for only 34 cents

31 When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.       

Acts 15:31   (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

If you’re looking for a way to encourage somebody in the Lord this week, why not send them a postcard? The lowly picture-postcard is the unsung hero of the postage world; you can mail one for only 34 cents. Also, it’s easy to procure a never-ending supply of them. In the past, a lot of people collected postcards, and now those collections are being sold on Ebay and in thrift stores. They often sell for a few pennies apiece.

What could be more day-brightening than opening nebraska postcardyour mailbox and finding a photo of a giant jackrabbit from Nebraska?

If you can’t find a pre-made postcard, make one of your own. Recycle a greeting card by cutting it to 4 x 6 inches, or use part of a cereal box.

I use a paper-slicer for fast and perfect work and always get comments on my professional results. A friend of mine once called to say, “Where in the world did you buy a postcard with a picture of a ‘Hostess Twinkie’ on it?” :-)

I’ve come to believe that postcards don’t just SEND sunshine — they SPREAD it. After all, your message of hope isn’t sealed up in an envelope. You have to believe that dozens of people are influenced by the good news you’re sending. Surely the mailman reads it and also anybody who finds the postcard on a kitchen table. (It’s human nature to want to be nosy and read other people’s mail. :-))

If you’ve watched the news lately, you know everybody is in need of the Good News and some Christian encouragement. Who are you going to send a postcard to this week?

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 29 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.)  He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next doojonny catr to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher once made a postcard for his friend Jonny from a cat-litter-liner package.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: On giving your full attention

1 ¶ Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. ~ Ephesians 5:1   (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash, minister, blogger and father of 2

Well, it’s time to resume my weekly devotional columns because summer break is over and school has started again. The summer went by quickly, but the Cash family had its fair share of fun and adventures.

Spencer and I took a road trip to Tennessee to visit my mom, who is in assisted living there. While in Memphis, he and I spent a day touring the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. This museum is exceptionally well-done. You would do well to make a special trip to take your family to see it.

As you would imagine, many of the exhibits there were devoted to the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I was reminded of an anecdote about martin luther king jrhim  that I had read sometime. A reporter who had met Dr. King in the heyday of the civil rights movement recounted that the clergyman kept a hectic schedule filled with constant interruptions and people clamoring for his attention.

But the surprising thing to the interviewer was this: No matter how crowded the situation, no matter how hectic the scene, whenever Dr. King was talking to someone he always gave that person his undivided attention.

In this age of electronic devices and multitasking, the full-attention of another human being has become a rare commodity, indeed. But, upon thinking about this, I’ve come to the conclusion that attentiveness to the words and needs of others is one of primary components of the virtue of Christian love.

Did you ever stop to think that our Heavenly Father gives us His full attention whenever we speak to Him? Let’s strive to do this, too. It’s one of the ways that we can be more like our Heavenly Father.

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 29 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.)  He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher is trying to learn to be “more present in the moment”.)  Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

 

Devotion in Motion: Prayer versus sadness

29 He calms the storm, So that its waves are still.

30 Then they are glad because they are quiet;

So He guides them to their desired haven. Psalm 107:29,30 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

This post is Part 5 of a series of posts which discuss the meaning of a poem called the Desiderata. The following two lines are taken from that poem. Click here to see the original post that kicked off this series.

“Avoid loud and aggressive persons;

they are vexatious to the spirit.”

In everyday life, there are things that I believe are the truth, even though the “experts” think differently. I’ve always believed that when babies are cutting teeth (especially jaw teethingteeth) they are apt to be afflicted with runny noses, low-grade fever, and lots of dirty diapers. But every pediatrician I’ve ever talked to assures me I am most certainly wrong. I still remain strong in my belief because it’s based on what I’ve seen and experienced.

Likewise, there are things I’ve never been taught at church that have been proved true to me in daily practice. For instance, I believe the prayers offered up by quiet people who are brokenhearted or suffering are extremely powerful. There have been times in my ministry when I have been beset with a deep and palpable discouragement and sadness. It wasn’t due to my life circumstances, so there was no situation I could change. It wasn’t due to a negative attitude, so there was no self-help book I could read. It wasn’t due to a sickness or a chemical imbalance, so there was no capsule I could swallow. The sadness I felt was spiritual—and I really believe that Satan and the powers of darkness were personally working against me to discourage me.

It’s been my experience that prayer is the only remedy that works when I am faced with bleakness like this. Very often, I can whisper one quick prayer and the sadness I’m feeling immediately flees. But sometimes it seems I’m facing a power that’s much stronger and more difficult—and my prayers avail very little. In cases like that, I ask for the prayers of others. What I’ve learned is that the prayers of quiet people work the most for me. And the prayers of the broken-hearted are the most powerful of all.

intercessionNot too long ago, I had a day when my heart was so heavy I couldn’t pick it up off the floor. When my prayers didn’t seem to be making any progress, I sent emails to two of my friends whose petitions to God have proved effectual for me in the past. Both of these people are quiet folk who have faced unbearable heartbreak—but have devoted their lives to seeking (and sharing) the solace that only God can give. Within minutes, as their prayers were offered up, the spiritual darkness was completely lifted from me, and my soul was filled with peace and joy.

To what can we credit the great power of their prayers? I think it may lie in the unique position these intercessors have with our God. The Psalmist has said “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NKJV) I believe the brokenhearted are especially heard by God — because He is so very close to them.

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where lots of mamas believe that babies have diarrhea when they’re cutting teeth.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

Devotion in Motion: Listen to the young

43 Why do you not understand My speech?

Because you are not able to listen to My word. John 8:43 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

“Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.”

As a school teacher, I’ve learned more from listening to my students than from listening to the network news. And I guess the main thing I’ve learned is that things are never as cut-and-dried as the newscasters say. Important issues are seldom ever simply solved; there are always exceptions and complications and nuances of meaning.

Isn’t it always the consensus that poor people are living in poverty because they are lazy? But more than once I’ve taught students who were still in high school but were already working to support their extended families. They attended school and studied from seventy-thirty until three and then rode home on the school bus. Arriving at the house, they slept for a (very) few hours before starting a 10-hour shift at a chicken-processing plant. Arriving back home at 6 AM, they quickly showered before starting a new morning at school. That’s a little different from the conventional wisdom that the media portrays, don’t you think?

And listening to young people tell their stories has made me realize that the newscasters are wrong when they portray all teenagers as undeserving, brazen, and arrogant. Some time ago I had a student who periodically did not eat school lunch when we went to the cafeteria. He often made the excuse that he “wasn’t hungry” or that he “had a stomach ache.” Later on I figured out that sometimes his parents (who both had jobs) had a hard time scraping up the forty-cents the ypennies_handsoung man needed to pay for his part of the reduced-rate government-subsidized school lunch.

Slipping to the back of the lunch line one day, he tried to pay for his food without anyone noticing him. He confided in me that he was appalled that the other students might see that his mother had sent him to school with 40 pennies instead of a dollar bill. He was aghast that others might learn of his poverty–and when you are 14 years old, “small” things like that can seem to be a very big deal. He told me that he is trying to study hard so he can graduate high school and make a better life for himself.

I’ve noticed that if you listen to a young person today, there’s a good chance that they will come and talk to you again some other day. I don’t think there’s a lot of listening going on in this day and time. By listening, you’ve got an opportunity to do something that not a lot of people are taking time to do. And in my book, you’ve got an opportunity to do an awful lot of good.

So listen to a young person this week. Without a doubt, you’ll learn a lot. And you’ll probably be surprised by the stories you’ll hear and the things you will learn.

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where in the evenings you can listen to the frogs and the crickets.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

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