Devotion in Motion: Everything God has for you belongs to you

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

~ Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

 By Bro. John L. Cash

One of the things that I hate worst in life is waiting.

crosswordI’m not talking about the kind of waiting that you do in a doctor’s office. That’s not quite as bad, because you can always work a crossword puzzle or read a book in the meantime. The kind of waiting I hate is when you’re in a situation where you don’t how it’s going to end up.

You’re either going to wind up with everything or nothing, and you don’t know which. And you won’t know until you find out. Until then you just have to wait.

Not too long ago, I had a friend who was in a “waiting” situation like that. It was a high-stakes situation—the kind that would have given me a stomach ulcer. But my friend (who is a devout and consecrated Christian) was remarkably calm and unruffled.

I asked him how he could be so very calm in the midst of such a fierce and fiery trial, and was encouraged by his reply. He said:

“Brother John, I learned a secret a long time ago. Everything that God has for me belongs to me. If God has something for me, there is no person and no thing that keep me from receiving it. If God has something for me, it won’t be given to anybody else, and nobody else can take it. So, if He doesn’t give it to me, than it wasn’t for me. But, this one thing I am sure of; Everything that God has for me belongs to me.”

Since I heard it, that statement has burned like a flame in my heart and mind. Some things can’t be improved upon.  There’s nothing I can add to those words. We just need to remember them, and think about them, and believe.

Lift up your heart and be glad. And stop worrying about the future.

Everything God has for you belongs to you.

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 there were 173 people at church on Easter Sunday, which is not too shabby.)  Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: Rejoice on Easter Sunday

Easter 20159 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.  ~ Matthew 28:9  (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

When Jesus Christ rose from the dead on that first Easter Sunday, the first word He uttered (to the first people He met) was the word “Rejoice!” And that word is the one word that makes all the difference for us.

sad broken heartAs humans we all have something in common. At some point, for all of us, something happens that makes “our whole world” fall apart. Sometimes, especially when we’re children, our “tragedies” are small (like not getting the red crayon), but they seem big to us at the time.

Later on, we experience tragedies that are real and devastating. Our despair is indescribable and overwhelming. But, if we’re lucky, at those times somebody takes us in their arms and says to us, “Everything is going to be all right. Things are going to be all right again.”

Now here’s the amazing thing. Even in the midst of the greatest tragedy, we know in our heart-of-hearts that those words are true. We’re not being patronized. We’re not being lied to. We’re being told the truth. “Everything is going to be all right. Things are going to get all right again.”

We believe it and we know it because that’s the truth of Easter. Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, everything (and I do mean everything) is going to be all right. This is most certainly true.

It’s no wonder that the first word on Easter was “Rejoice!”

From our house to your house, have a wonderful Easter Sunday.

And, rejoice…Jesus Christ is risen, indeed!

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 people are surely rejoicing today.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: Overheard at a coffee shop

7 Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.  ~ Hebrews 13:7  (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

When you’re sitting in the coffee shop, folks at other tables often carry on conversations loud enough for everyone to hear. No doubt you’ve heard folks discussing “the things that are wrong with our church.” Or maybe they were discussing another topic closely related to that one, namely “the things that are OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwrong with our preacher.”

We’re probably all a little guilty of expressing our opinions on those subjects. But we need to be careful. Negative talk is not good advertising for your church.  When hearing these kinds of criticisms, the thing I most often think is, “I’m glad I’m not a part of THAT congregation.”

Just for fun, let’s put the shoe on the other foot. What if all the preachers met at the coffee shop and had a discussion about their church members? What would your pastor say about you? The Scriptures teach that not all church members are created equally when it comes to how they treat their pastors. Some bring their preachers great happiness and comfort; others are a constant source of discouragement and pain.

The Apostle Paul says it this way in his letter to the Hebrews:

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.  Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV)

From personal experience, words cannot convey how wonderful it is when church members strive to be a blessing to their pastor. It makes the work of the ministry a work of joy, quite a lot like Heaven on Earth.  So strive this week to do your best never to be “a pain.” Instead, live in such a way that it brings your pastor great joy.

And while you’re at it, why not invite him to the coffee shop?

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 all the cars are “yellow with pollen” this week.)  Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: What to do about the haters

17 ¶ “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” ~  John 17:17 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

As the great modern philosopher Taylor Swift once said, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” And as the great Protestant reformer Martin Luther of haters-gonna-hate-catGermany once said, “This is most certainly true.”

So, parents, get ready. “The haters” are going to “hate” on your children. If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s going to. Be prepared.

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. When Seth was in middle school, he became a cigarette smoker. Now I’ve never been a smoker. I tried it once when I was a kid. I took a long drag off of a “Lucky Strike” (filtered), and instantly the interior of my respiratory system broke out in spots. I’ve never smoked another one. That first cigarette was plenty.

The same thing happened to his mother. Susan tried one cigarette, and that was enough to last her for the rest of her life.

But when Seth was in 5th grade, some big boys offered him a cigarette. He lit it up, smoked it, and enjoyed it very much. He told me that after that first time, he smoked whenever a cigarette was offered or was available. I guess smoking just agrees with some people more than others.

a very sweet boy

Seth, a very good young man :-)

Now, as you might imagine, this wasn’t something his mom and I had planned for our youngest child. We always talked to our boys about the danger of lung cancer. And we tried to set a positive example for our children. We never had a conversation in which we said, “Seth, you’re going to be turning 10 years old soon. Your mom and I have been talking, and we think it’s about time we bought you a Bic lighter.” (Just sayin’.)

That’s the “smoking” part of the story. Now we get into the “hater” part of the story.

One day a man, who also had a teenage son, walked up and said this to me: “I saw Seth walk behind the gymnasium with one of Spencer’s friends. I’m glad the older boys take up time with him.” That’s what he SAID. But from his tone of voice, I knew the meaning of what he was trying to convey. What he MEANT was, “Seth is a hoodlum. I saw him smoking behind the gym.”

Well, this is where the “be prepared” part kicks in. I answered with the first thing that came into my head: “I would imagine that Seth went behind the gym to smoke a cigarette. I think Seth smokes Camels-without-filters-in-a-crushpack. He’s a very tough little kid. We wish he didn’t smoke, but he does it anyway. You know how it is. Your son is a smoker.”

(Note to the reader: Everyone in a 100-mile-radius had seen this man’s son light up. Honestly, the kid used a 3-pound-coffee can in his car for an ashtray.)

To which the man answered, “Oh, no, Mr. Cash. My son doesn’t smoke.”

Later on, as I was recounting this story to my older son, I said, “Spencer, it’s the oddest thing. After the man said what he did, I heard a roaring sound in my ears. It was such a thunderous thing that I was afraid everyone in the room could heard it.” Spencer (who was wise beyond his years and also knew the young smoker) said, “Dad, I know what it was. It was the sound of all the truth being sucked out of the room.”

yosemite samThis story still makes me mad when I think about it. (Susan just proofread this story. She said she would not have been so pastoral in her reply. If the man had said it to her, she would have turned into Yosemite Sam and started shooting the place up. But I digress.)

People who think your kids are always bad and that their kids are always good are the worst — because those parents are stupid, and it’s always a lie. But I tell it to you because you’re going to go through a similar situation some day. There are people in this world who insist on pointing out the unpleasant realities in your life. The best thing you can do (in my opinion) is to tell them the truth. Beat them to the punch line. It ruins all the fun for the haters in this world.

There’s one more thing to realize. The haters who insist on pointing out the unpleasant realities in your life often refuse to tell the truth about their own situations. In that case, your strategy is different. Don’t point out to them that they’re lying. It’s quite enough just to know the truth in your own heart.

There’s an ancient Jewish story about a king who had a contest to figure out the “strongest thing in the world.” And at the end of the story, the winner is truth. The older I get, the more I believe that. Most of all, I remember that Jesus said that God’s Word is Truth.

So, parents everywhere, get ready for the haters. There are just three things to remember:

1. Tell the truth.

2. Know the truth.

3. And most of all, believe the truth.

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’s son, Seth, is no longer a smoker because it gives him a migraine.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: It Came to Pass

Note from the mamas: Brother John is on Spring Break vacation this week, so we’re publishing an “encore performance” of his very first Sunday devotion ever published here on nwaMotherlode. (His kids were teenagers at the time.) Nearly seven years later, we think his first column still inspires weary, overwhelmed parents everywhere to hang in there and keep the faith. It really does get better.

¶ And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.Luke 8:40

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”

clock2.gifIf you turned your back for an instant, my son Spencer ate the coffee grounds – sixteen years ago, I mean, when he was a year old. I remember one morning when I was drinking my first cup of coffee, watching the “Today” show, trying to recover from a long night tending to a teething baby, when I heard the distinct splat of a used coffee filter slapping the floor.I rounded the corner to find my little son using both hands to smear a work of art on the linoleum with both of his tiny hands. Seeing me, he crawled through the soggy Maxwell House to attempt to escape and began to hide the evidence by shoveling the coffee grounds into his mouth. After that, he smiled at me because he was so delighted with his efforts. I hoped he wouldn’t black out from caffeine poisoning.

I told this story to some of my parishioners at church who had older children, and they said, “It doesn’t get any better.”I remember thinking, “I don’t know if I want to go on living.” I mean, if children never sleep all night, and if you always have to be on alert like a human home-surveillance system to keep them from snacking from the trash can…well, it just seems like too much!

But then, my piano player offered me a glimmer of hope. She said, “Brother John, it DOES get better. I mean, kids don’t always swipe the coffee filter out of the trash can.They get older, and they can dress themselves, and run their own bathwater, and they get to where they can fix themselves a bowl of Cheerios in the morning.But as they get older, you have a DIFFERENT set of problems. But the present set of problems does go away.”

Time has passed, and the piano player was right. I no longer think about the waste bin, but I am always thinking about a new set of problems…things like learner’s permits, and cell phones, and curfews, and MySpace.I love the phrase in the King James Bible, “It came to pass.”I know that’s only an old way of saying that “It happened”, but I love the sound of it. “It came to pass.”All those bad situations in the Bible didn’t “COME to STAY”, they “CAME to PASS!”

So enjoy your children, whatever age they are. And treasure the period of life where they are now because they grow up too fast.I have found that God is always with us, if we look for Him. And He sees to it that the troubles didn’t come to stay, they came to pass.

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 temperature dropped from 72 degrees to 28 degrees within a few hours this week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).