Devotion in Motion: The end of the story

7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you..

remix (4)1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I have so many happy memories of “the Good Old Days” of my younger years. The passing of time paints the past in rosy tones of simplicity and perfection. But the older I get, the more I see that all the same problems existed back then (in some form or fashion) as the problems people have now.

Recently I’ve had a realization. Part of the reason that the events of the past seem so pleasant is because we can see the end of the story. Sure, we can still see the endthe problems we had all those years ago. But we can also see that so many of our problems “worked out.” And the solutions to our difficulties very often came in ways we never could have predicted—or even imagined.

I’m in a different stage of life now because my children are pretty much grown. But I always notice young couples who are “in the thick” of raising their kids, and my heart goes out to them. Seeing their stresses and struggles brings back waves of emotion as I’m reminded of what it was like to be going through that time in life.

These young parents are dealing with overwork, financial worries, health problems, and assorted overwhelming griefs and stressors. Maybe that’s what you’re going through, too.

Well, I want to tell you what I always tell them. Put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. And try not to worry, because your story is going to have a happy ending.

Things are going to work out, because the Lord never fails.

The portion of your life that you’re going through now will later be part of your “Good Old Days.” God is going to see you through.

Trust me on this one.

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 weather joyfully had the first hint of Autumn this week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: “Lord, let me see.”

Today’s Scripture Verses:

22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.

23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! “”

Matthew 6:22-23 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

remix (4)I read somewhere that the late Fred Rogers (the children’s saint from “Mister Rogers Neighborhood”) often prayed for others. He said he always prayed the same prayer: “God, encircle this person with Your love.” That’s pretty much a perfect prayer, don’t you think? The abiding love and presence of God is what we all need in every situation we could ever face. Since reading of this, I’ve borrowed Mr. Rogers’ prayer on many occasions.

As I’m getting older as a country preacher, I’m often asked to pray for the concerns of others. And as I pour out my heart before God, more and more I find I’m pleading for them with “all purpose prayers.” I have several such prayers, but today I want to share with you only one. Here it is: “Lord, please let them see.”

I’ve never really understood today’s Scripture lesson (at the top). Perhaps I still don’t understand it fully, but clearly it’s about “spiritual eyesight.” Jesus was always restoring the sight to those who were physically blind. And the Scriptures promise that He loves to bring sight to those who are unable to see spiritually.

So that’s I why I offer up so many prayers that the Lord will grant spiritual sight.

glasses-415256_1280 (2)For those who are downcast, may the Lord heal their blindness that they may see all the blessings that are theirs.

For the rebellious teen, may the Lord heal his blindness that he may see his parents’ love.

For the doubting Christian, may the Lord heal her blindness and let her see the reality of His care.

And so on and so on it goes….

I’m going to talk “out of school” right now. Not very long ago, Susan went through a time of discouragement. (Please know that discouragement is not too uncommon in the work of the ministry. Usually it’s me who is down in the dumps, but Susan and I take turns. Don’t worry, it’s very commonplace. You don’t need to call her or anything.)

But when I noticed she was feeling low, I began to pray every morning, “Lord, please let Susan truly see.” I didn’t tell the Lord what Susan needed to be able to see because I’m not smart enough to know that. God knows what we need to see. And whenever we are truly able to see, the answer to our situation becomes crystal clear.

iphone-410311_1280 (2)Well, a few days later Susan sent me this text:

“I’m so thankful for our boys and how God is helping them to succeed in their lives. I’m very grateful for His blessings. I’m so glad to be on this journey with me and you, us two.”

Well, I am in full agreement with her sentiments. And, I think the Lord answered my prayer.

You need to know that I have a rule about praying for my wife and kids, though. I don’t pray anything for them if I am not first willing to pray it for myself.

So, that’s why I’m praying this morning that the Lord will enable me to see.

Because without Him, I am the blindest one of all.

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 tired tonight because he did a funeral today.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: Are you listening?

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.

remix (4)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).

Devotion in Motion: A perspective on time

13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

remix (4)When I was in kindergarten, my Uncle Howard gave me one of his old Timex wristwatches. Watches were not so plentiful (or common) in those days, and most children didn’t have one. I was so very proud of it. I loved to look at it, wind it, and listen to it tick. I couldn’t wait to wear it to school—even though I had no earthly idea how to tell time on it.

You see, my wristwatch was a clock that had hands on it. I was born into a world in which all clocks were analog clocks—the kind that have hands. I can remember my parents trying to teach me to tell time, and my elementary school teachers gave me worksheets with tiny clock-faces on them. It seemed very timex watchdifficult to me, and it took me some time to master the skill.

I’m not sure if today’s schools teach children how to tell time. After all, if a child is reading a digital clock, the only thing he has to be able to do is to recognize numbers. It sure makes things easier for everyone involved.

But I hate to see the analog clocks go. I’m afraid that changing the devices we use to tell time will change the ways we think about time.

Let me illustrate. If you ask a man with a digital clock what time it is, he’ll say something like “2:14” or “10:41.” He is measuring time with reference to now. To him, time is a single point in history, with nothing before it or after it. It’s the epitome of “living for this moment.”

But if the same man has an analog clock, he’s likely to say “about a quarter after three” or “twenty minutes until two.” His analog clock measures time with reference to something that has already happened (the past) or something that’s going to happen (the future). It may seem picky, but it can make a real difference in the way a person lives. People who only live in the moment and never think about the past or the future often get in trouble. There is more to life than now.

So many important things in our lives happened in the past. The Bible says that Jesus is the Lamb who was slain (for our sins) from before the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8). Our parents raised us as children to believe the Gospel, and the trials we went through in the past made us what we are.

Your past is your history. And, likewise, so many important things in your life will happen in the future. We all must finish the work that God has left us to do, and we all will spend eternity somewhere. Your future is your destiny.

Today, this present moment, is the only place where your history touches your destiny. So live today for Jesus, with eternity’s values in view. This is your holy responsibility.

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 30 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 (whose preacher tried to teach Gwen Rockwood how to read an analog clock when she was a little girl, with absolutely no success.) Their kids include Spencer (age 24), his wife Madeline (age 24), and Seth (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

Devotion in Motion: There’s just no room

31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Ephesians 4:31 ~ (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

As you might imagine, I’ve heard a lot of sermons and taken a lot of Bible classes in my life. Pastors are taught the Scriptures when they’re preparing to enter the ministry, and they continue to learn as a part of their daily remix (4)lives. But something I’ve noticed is that some of my most enduring lessons weren’t taught to me in a church service or a seminary class. Instead, somebody told me something profound while we were going about our ordinary lives.

Let me tell you a story. When I was 18 years old, I was a Bible college student at a very small Christian college. All of my professors preached revivals in addition to their teaching duties. Because every traveling preacher needs a song leader, I sometimes accompanied various professors to lead singing at their meetings. Often when I rode with these men of God, I learned as much during the car ride as I did from the sermon.

At the beginning of one such trip, the evangelist I was traveling with read his mail before we set out on our journey. Reading a letter from a businessman in our brotherhood, he turned his head and shut his eyes with a pained look on his face. He looked as if something had pierced his heart.

no room for meannessHe read aloud part of the letter, revealing the writer’s threatening words of anger and hate. He then said, “I wish I had not read this letter before we left for the meeting. John, never forget: ‘There is no room for meanness in the Christian life.’”

I’ve never forgotten those words: “There is no room for meanness in the Christian life.” Even though I don’t always succeed, I try to live by them because they are the truth. I think we’re all tempted to do things that are petty and to repay insult with insult when we’re angry. It’s then that we have to remember that, as Christians, we are called by our Saviour to live lives of love. For anything else, there just isn’t room.

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 30 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 outdoor-cats are growing their winter coats for cooler weather.) Their kids include Spencer (age 24), his wife Madeline (age 24), and Seth (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.