Devotion in Motion: How to have a laid-back school year

43 Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.  ~  Nehemiah 12:43 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

As your babies begin another grade in school, I want to tell you a story for the beginning of the academic year. I started the 1st grade in August of 1967. My sister Cathie was in the 6th grade that year, and we both went to Buerkle Elementary School. (I think that was the only time we ever went to school on the same campus at the same time.) I was brand new at handling the paperwork for a new school year, but I wasn’t worried about that.  I was sure my big sister was a pro at it. After all, she had already done it five times before.

On the first day of school, my teacher Mrs. Thompson gave me a “Textbook Record Card” on which she had neatly printed my name, my book numbers, and the condition each textbook was in. That night, I asked Cathie what I was supposed to do with that card. She said, “Get Mama to sign it, and then take it back to school.”report card

So (not being an idiot) I got Mama to sign it, and I took it back to school the next day. Then I put it in my desk for the rest of the year. On the last day of school, I put it in my book satchel and brought it home.

Now, let’s flash forward a dozen years. I am 17 years old, and I am cleaning out my book-bag on the last day of my senior year. One of the things I’m throwing away is the “Textbook Record Card” for my 12th grade year. One of my friends notices this and says, “Hey, John. Why do you still have your textbook card? Didn’t you turn it in to the teacher at the beginning of the year?”

I told her I didn’t know we were supposed to turn them in. (Cathie didn’t mention that part.) I always just got my mother to sign the card and then brought it back to school. I kept it with my stuff, and then at the end of the year, I threw it away. Twelve years in a row.

Are you catching how amazing this story really is? What I mean is that in 12 years of public education, I never turned in a book card. Not even once. I was a good student, and I always returned all my books in good condition at the end of the year. My teachers never had any reason to look for my book card. So, for my entire school career, I had not been doing what I was supposed to be doing. But nobody had ever noticed, and nobody even cared.

So, to all of you who have kids in school this year, here’s the lesson to learn. A lot of things that are hyped up to be really important actually don’t matter much at all. The thing I remember most about our sons being in elementary school and middle school is it seems that Susan and I were perpetually aggravated about one thing or another. Spencer had left a book at school, or Seth had lost a signed a paper he was supposed to get signed. It always seemed like there was some impending classroom crisis that was going to bring about the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it.

But, in hindsight, none of it ever amounted to a hill of beans. I couldn’t tell you the details of any of the situations now because, in the long run, they didn’t matter. Both our sons finished their educations and are gainfully-employed, productive citizens. I just wish we could go back to those years when the boys were in school and be more laid-back and joyful. The end result would have been the same.

So, relax a little and have a great year. School is fun. And kids are, 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 Sheba the barn cat was missing for a couple of days but turned up for supper on Tuesday.) 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.coim.

Devotion in Motion: The requirements for peace

18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.  ~  James 3:18  (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I spent a few days this summer in the company of some college-aged students who are devoting their lives to striving to bring about world peace. Their zeal is sincere, and their goal is lofty and admirable. After all, there is a terrible shortage of peace in today’s world. When we strive to bring about peace, we’re following the exhortations of our Saviour, Jesus Christ: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.”

Not to be critical (but to make a point) I want to tell you something I noticed that made an impression on me. The young people were committed to bringing about peace and justic — but they never refilled the ice trays. If you happened to be the last person to want a glass of iced tea, you’d find the trays empty. You’d have to drink it warm. To top it off, not only would you not have any ice in your drink, it would be up to you to fill the trays if there was any hope of having ice tomorrow.

I tell you this, not to be critical, but to make a point. We’re all guilty of not refilling the ice trays and a million things which are the moral equivalent. It’s the fruit of our sinful nature to look out for ourselves and to leave the next guy to fend for himself. But deep in our hearts we all want to live in a peaceful world. I’ve reached a conclusion. We’ll never have world peace until we start to refill the ice trays for the next guy.music notes peace sign

I’m a pretty big fan of The Beatles and the music of the late John Lennon. They helped provide the soundtrack of my early childhood. Many of Lennon’s songs are devoted to the subject of bringing about world peace. I’m sure you’ve heard “All You Need is Love” and “Give Peace a Chance.” He really did want to help bring about world peace.

I don’t know if you know it, but John Lennon was twice-married and had a son with each of his wives. His son by his first wife, Cynthia, is named Julian. John Lennon deserted Julian at an early age and was not in contact with him until Julian was nearly grown.

This is what Julian had to say about his father: “I have to say that, from my point of view, I felt he was a hypocrite. Dad could talk about peace and love out loud to the world but he could never show it to the people who supposedly meant the most to him: his wife and son. How can you talk about peace and love and have a family in bits and pieces — no communication, adultery, divorce? You can’t do it, not if you’re being true and honest with yourself.”

It all comes down to this: There won’t be any world peace until we are at peace with our families. We won’t have world peace until we can get along with our coworkers, our neighbors, and the people we meet on the street. There won’t be world peace until we have peace in our homes. And there will be no peace at all until you as an individual are at peace with God.

So ask the Lord Jesus to fill your heart and to live His life through you. And then refill the ice trays for the next guy. That’s the way to  give peace a chance.

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 all the country kids are back in school.) 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: Delay of plans

24 This is the day the Lord has made;
      We will rejoice and be glad in it.      Psalm 118:24  (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Well, it’s good to be back writing my weekly column again after being on break for the summer. I’ve had a good vacation, and I’ve also done a lot of things that needed doing. I’ve been busy preaching, working at Bible Camp, helping at VBS, and visiting some relatives. Recently I spent several days in Memphis to visit my mother who lives in assisted living there.

Due to a mixture of spinal and orthopedic problems (and a bad case of “nerves”), I’ve officially stopped driving in the city. Some people think that’s very odd. But whenever I’m traveling in mass transit, I always see people in the city who have been involved in fender-benders and crashes. I always think to myself, “Yes, John, there’s another person who doesn’t need to be driving in the city, but he’s just too proud to admit it!”

Because of the change in my driving status, I’ve become an expert in getting around by Greyhound, Amtrak, Uber, and Lyft. Traveling by train is my favorite, by far. You have more legroom than on a jet, and you can get up to walk around; a lot of times you can even sit in the “sun room car” that has a beautiful view because of all the windows. (Here’s a train station selfie I shot during my trip.)train crop 2

It’s cheap, too. If you book a seat in advance, you can travel from Jackson, MS to Memphis, TN for only $38. I’m not sure one person could drive it for that!

We had a bit of excitement on the return trip from Memphis. Near the small town of Tutwiler, Mississippi, the train made a little bump. I didn’t think too much of it because you can’t ride on a train without a few lurches and fast-stops. My seat-mate, however, recognized the seriousness of the situation immediately. “I’ve been through this before, John.  Look at all the dust. I’m certain the train has struck a vehicle!”

In a few seconds, we were told that the train had indeed hit an 18-wheeler. The train engine had dragged the truck for nearly half a mile. Passengers gasped aloud and offered up prayers when we heard the awful news.

But after a few minutes, our shock turned to joy and amazement. No passengers had been hurt in the accident. More amazingly, the driver of the 18-wheeler was fine. Indeed, he was walking by the side of the railroad tracks, examining the wreckage of his truck. Surely the Lord had spared the life of this fortunate man. (Here’s a picture of what was left of the 18-wheeler after it was loaded onto a wrecker’s flatbed truck to be hauled away.)train crop 1Well, my seat-mate told me that whenever there’s a train accident, travel is going to be delayed. She was correct. We finally reached our destination six-and-a-half hours later than scheduled. That didn’t surprise me.

What did surprise me was this. All of the passengers decided to take things in stride and to make the rest of the trip into the best possible sort of day. People shared the bottled water and the snacks they had packed. (One lady ventured on foot to a nearby restaurant her uncle owned and brought back barbecued ribs that she freely shared.) There were stories and songs and jokes and card games. At one point we all took naps.

I’ve suffered through a lot of travel delays in my lifetime. And most of the time, people are angry. They complain and act out. But this day will go down as one of the best train trips I’ve ever been on. Everything could have ended so differently for the passengers and the truck driver. But when you realize how truly wonderful life is, you celebrate every moment.

That’s probably a lesson for regular days, 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 temperature hit 101 degrees this week) 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: Too busy for God

11 Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

2 Corinthians 2:11 (NKJV)

remix (4)By Bro. John L. Cash

A dear friend of mine spent part of his life as a missionary in a very primitive country. The village that he lived in abounded with witch doctors and demon-possessions, curses and pagan ceremonies. In that foreign land, he often saw open manifestations of the power of Satan—things like a person would see in the movie “The Exorcist.”

evil plans bookHere at home, we don’t commonly see many dramatic outbursts from the occult. When I asked my friend why that is, he gave a very interesting answer. “The devil doesn’t have to work openly and to try to terrify people in the United States. He has so many OTHER weapons he can use.”

I firmly believe that fact. For almost 30 years I’ve been telling everyone, “In America, the devil doesn’t have to try to scare folks. He doesn’t even have to make people bad—the devil just finds ways to make people busy.” You see, whenever people become busy (even if they’re busy doing good things) they are apt to become too busy to remember God.

And in the past 5 years, I’ve seen a change take place in Satan’s tactics. Now the Evil One doesn’t even have to trip people up by making them busy. He only needs to make sure that folks are always distracted by a multitude of petty details and meaningless tasks.

There’s a lot of talk lately about how much more we get done by “multi-tasking.” But I’m not sure that multi-tasking is something the Bible teaches us to strive for. Jesus always had time for people, and He always gave them His undivided attention. So if you find that your whole life consists of always doing several things at once, you’re probably trying to do more things than the Lord ever intended for you to do.

O Lord, help us to do good with all our might.

Help us never to be too busy to think of You.

Help us to keep our minds on Your business–

That we can always do Your work in this world

By always keeping “first things first.”

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 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 folks are hoping that Tropical Storm Karen isn’t anything like her cousin Hurricane Katrina.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

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).