Devotion in Motion: An important truth for all couples

9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.  ~ Mark 10:9  (KJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I think the State of Tennessee is onto something good. If you’ll participate in 4 hours of pastoral counseling before your wedding, they’ll give you a big discount on the cost of your marriage license. I don’t know if it will help cut down on the divorce rate there, but it surely couldn’t hurt anything.

wedding-rings2Last year a young man from my congregation was marrying a lovely young woman from Tennessee. They came to my house for the prerequisite pre-marital counseling. He asked me how many years Susan and I had been married, and I told him that we had been married for 30 years. “Thirty happy years, right Brother John?” he replied.

I think they were shocked by my answer. “No, we haven’t had thirty happy years,” I said. “Maybe 27 happy years. Or maybe only 25. It depends if you count pieces of years. And how you define ‘happy’.”

The young man went to his mother’s home and asked her if she thought I was kidding him. She told him,“If Brother John told you that, he probably wasn’t teasing. Marriage isn’t easy. And true love doesn’t always run smooth.”

Susan and I have had more good days (and years) than bad ones. We’ve had much more joy than sadness. But there’ve been some rough patches, too. Serious problems. Maybe we even (briefly) thought about getting divorced. It’s been especially hard because we’ve always had to work out problems on our own. When you’re the preacher and his wife, you don’t really advertise that you’re not getting along.

So I think one of the best things we can do is to be honest with young married couples. True love doesn’t always run smoothly. But with some work (and the grace of God) most things can be worked out.

Well, Susan and I went to that young couple’s wedding in Tennessee. At the reception, the DJ said that all the married couples had to get up and dance, so Susan and I did. After that, he started thinning out the crowd; everybody married for less than 5 years had to sit down, and then everybody who had been married less than 10 years had to sit down.

Finally, he had all the couples who had been married less than 30 years sit down. Susan and I looked around, and we were left with about five other couples.

It was a really cool feeling to be numbered among the couples who had beaten the odds, weathered the storms, and stayed together. I told Susan, “I sure am glad we didn’t bust up.”

Then Susan started crying. I hope that was because she was happy, too.

rp_john-l-cash-212x300.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 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 calendar says “Autumn” but the thermometer says “92 Degrees”.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

Devotion in Motion: Wear your faith well

1 ¶ Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;  ~  Psalm 1:1  (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Last week I wrote about the principle that people don’t always look the way they want because we aren’t always allowed to choose how we look. This week’s story continues in the same vein. I’ll add a corollary to the previous rule: “Just because someone is wearing an article of clothing, it doesn’t mean it’s something they like.”

A friend of mine told me that whenever you see something out of the ordinary, there’s usually a story involved. And if you asked the person (in private) to tell you the story, there’s a good chance they’d tell it.

I’ll give you a little background into my story here. I was born missing over half my right foot. My right leg is withered, and it’s an inch-and-a-half shorter than my left.herman-munster Until I was a young adult, I wore one “big” shoe and one “little” shoe. The “little” shoe was built up on the bottom with an immensely thick black sole — sort of like Herman Munster.

When I became a young adult, my physician ordered me a prosthetic build-up that fits INSIDE my shoe. The new prosthetic allows me to now wear regular shoes that are the same size, and there is no visible thick sole on the outside of the shoe.

Having received this great improvement, you’d think I’d be completely happy with my situation. But, alas, not so. Even though I can now wear normal shoes, I can’t wear every KIND of shoes. I’d love to wear a pair of flip-flops or those light little loafers that men slip on to wear with their khakis. Instead, everything I wear has to come up at least over the top of my ankle and preferably over my calf.

(I know preachers are not supposed to complain, but I’m going to rant a little here. When I had the built-up shoe, people said, “Look at that poor boy, he’s crippled.” But now people say, “Look at the poor man. He has no taste in shoes! :-) )

When I wear a suit, I always wear a pair of 12-inch-tall paratrooper boots. (Covered up by a pants leg, they look like dress shoes, I hope.) The rest of the time I wear mid-ankle athletic shoes with a lace guard because they stay on better.shoes

Last year I discovered a style of shoe that works wonderfully for my situation. They are Larry Johnson “Grandmama” mid-tops, made by Converse. They are so comfortable, and they stay on better than any other shoe I’ve ever worn. I’ve bought a pair in almost every color they make.

Now here’s the hilarious thing. Teenagers always make a huge fuss about my sneakers because the shoes I’m wearing are really in style right now. They don’t realize the main reason I wear them is because I’m able to keep them on. It proves my point. Just because somebody is wearing something doesn’t mean it’s a fashion statement. They might have a story to tell you.

My clothing story has a happy ending. But when you’re a kid or a teenager, not every fashion story is so pleasant. Most people who are being teased about what they’re wearing don’t want to be wearing it. And if they dared to tell you their story, it would probably be a story involving poverty, alcoholism, neglect, or abuse. The last thing such a person needs is for someone to add insult to injury.

Please teach your children that the first rule for Christians is to never make fun of another person’s clothing. Jesus never did it, and we shouldn’t either.

rp_john-l-cash-212x300.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 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 folks are ready for Autumn and cooler weather to get here.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

Devotion in Motion: Who do you think you are?

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

One of the most important lessons we can teach our kids is that people don’t always look the way they want to look. To most adults, that seems obvious.

But I’ve been working with young people a long time, and what I’ve discovered is that this is a principle that has to be taught to them. They ridicule others without ever realizing that appearance is not usually a choice.

I had a situation that made me realize this in my own family when my sons were little. When my son Spencer was in grade school, he looked at the stray hairs growing on the third knuckle of my ring finger. “Why do you do that?” he asked. “It looks dumb.”

I told Spencer that hair patterns are not chosen by us in any way, shape, or form. They are determined by our genetics. I told him that, if I had a choice, I’d grow hair on top of my head instead of all the places I don’t want it. Unfortunately, the angels never granted me that option. I’ve been relegated to a lifetime of baldness and relentless use of an electric-grooming-trimmer.

My son considered what I’d said. The notion of it had never entered his mind before that moment.

About 25 years ago, I overheard a classroom teacher driving this lesson home. She had pulled two misbehaving students out into the hall to give them a stern rebuke. The 5th grade boys had been teasing a middle school girl about her appearance. (She had been taking a round of Prednisone for an illness and had the characteristic “moon-shaped” face caused by fluid retention.) The teacher’s monologue went something like this:

lando“Why in the WORLD are you making fun of Belinda!? Don’t you know people can’t always help the way they look? And by the way, who do you think YOU are? Billy Dee Williams?”

(In case it’s before your time, Billy Dee Williams played “Lando Calrissian” in the original Star Wars movies and was a matinee heartthrob. Needless to say, the little boys did not reach the Billy Dee Williams standard of masculine handsomeness. Neither did I. :-) )

In today’s world, kids desperately need to learn this lesson. Because all celebrity photos are airbrushed, young people no longer have an understanding of the variety of ways that “regular” people can look. And consider the television programs that consist of a group of “experts” ridiculing the bodies and fashion choices of other celebrities. It isn’t right, it isn’t Christian, and we must teach our children to think differently.

It sounds so hackneyed and trite, but it really is the time to teach our children to look at people’s hearts instead of making fun of their outward appearance. After all, that’s the way the Lord Jesus looks at us every day.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 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’s gallbladder incisions are starting to itch—which is a good sign.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

Devotion in Motion: On creation and house cats

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  ~   John 1:3 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Last week I wrote about how to teach young people about our Creator by pointing out examples from His creation. With that in mind, I have another story to tell you. The brother-and-sister pair of Siamese kittens that Susan got me for my birthday have just had their first birthday.eleanor and mac (Click here to see the post I wrote about “MacArthur McBeath” and “Eleanor.”)

The kittens had almost identical markings when they were born, and even though MacArthur is a good bit bigger than Eleanor now, you still have to look twice to tell them apart from a distance.

The other morning as I was drinking my first cup of coffee, one of the kittens sauntered into the living room to say hello. I said, “Good morning, MacArthur! How is your morning starting?” that look

What I didn’t realize was that I was talking to Eleanor, not MacArthur. The tiny feline stopped in her tracks, tilted her head to one side, and shot me a look that said, “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say.  You KNOW that YOUR mind is bad!”

Stories like this one bear witness to God’s hand in all that has been made because house cats are another example of something God has created in His wisdom. They have intelligence. They understand languages. They can also be “offended.” Clearly, kittens and cats bear witness of having been created by a wise Creator. (Tell this story and all the ones like it to kids everywhere as often as possible.)

But today I also want to give you a warning. We live in the age of “The Young Agnostic.” When told the stories about the creative power of God, kids often raise objections. They wonder if all things might have come about as the result of evolutionary chance. They say, “Brother John, how can you believe that there’s a Creator when you see so much evil in the world?”

I tell them that there are two possibilities for the origin of things. Some say that all life evolved upward from a puddle of slime. But the Scriptures say the world was created in beautiful, sinless, pristine perfection. Later the Creation became fallen when it was marred because of sin.

The second proposition seems more probable to me. When I look at a baby, or a kitten, or the glory of a sunrise on a country morning, it’s clear evidence to me of a Creation made in perfection.

When I watch the evening news, I see marks of God’s perfect world, now fallen because of the taint of sin and sinful people. That’s the story that seems most reasonable to me.

The message of the Bible is that Jesus Christ came into the world to make the fallen world into the perfect world again. “Behold,  I am making all things new!” (Revelation 21:5) That’s the best story of all — so tell it every chance you get.rp_john-l-cash-212x300.jpg

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 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 Eleanor is for some reason carrying around a sock today.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

Devotion in Motion: By His Wisdom

12 He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, And has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.  ~  Jeremiah 10:12 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I’ve noticed some big changes in the world since I first became a country preacher over 30 years ago. Something sad that I’ve noted is how many young adults today are forsaking the Faith and becoming unbelievers.  I think that the internet has had a lot to do with this change in thinking. When I started out, people mainly dealt with people who lived in the same area—real neighbors who lived in the physical vicinity. But now with the advent of online communication, young people “rub shoulders” with people from all over the world. Sadly, many of their new friends do not believe in the Scriptures or the in living God.

Young people quite often ask me, “Brother John, how can I be sure that there really is a God?’ In seminary I was trained to give the “big” answers, and the theological arguments. But, over time, I’ve come to believe that the most convincing arguments for the existence of God are the little things that we see every day.kitten-1517535_640 (2)

The prophet Jeremiah wrote that God established the world by His wisdom. That is a sermon that I preach a hundred times a week, as I go about my daily life, to whomever will listen. For instance, I might tell a visiting child: “Do you hear that thunder and see that kitten ‘digging a hole’ beside the couch? Now, the kitten can’t really dig a hole on carpet. But God made cats with a wisdom that makes them think that, when it rains, they need to make a nest so they can stay dry. You see, the Bible says God created the world in His wisdom.”

Last Friday I had my gallbladder removed. I’ve made a good recovery, but I’ve been sleeping a lot. The doctor said that for the first couple of days I would feel pain underneath my shoulder blades. This is caused by the carbon dioxide bubbles from the laparoscopic surgery that get trapped in the body. But, he said that after a few days these pains would go away, because the body knows how to locate the carbon dioxide bubbles and eliminate them.

Now, I ask you, how does my body know how to do that? The only way to explain it is that my body is intelligent. It is even more intelligent than me (because I could never tell it how to track down the errant bubbles.) And the reason that the body is intelligent is because it was created by Someone with infinite intelligence. You see, God has created the world in His wisdom.

Do you see how my system works? That’s my short sermon for today. The unbelievers are preaching their sermons every day of the week. What sermons about Wisdom will you preach this week to the young ones around you?

rp_john-l-cash-212x300.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 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 feeling a little better each day.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.