Devotion in Motion: When the week flies by

11 ¶ And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  ~  Romans 13:11  (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Well, loyal readers, I hate to tell you this: I don’t have a column today. I apologize, but I just have not had time to write anything. And besides that, it’s been so crazy and “random” here, I just can’t think of anything to write.

Since I’m not writing a devotion this week, I thought I’d just give a day-by-day (and blow-by-blow) account of what’s been going on.

hourglassOn Sunday, I worked really hard, like all preachers do every Sunday. I didn’t have time to write anything.

On Monday, I went back to work at my day-job as a schoolteacher. I was really tired, like all preachers are on Mondays. My mental state was such that I didn’t feel like writing anything. So I didn’t.

On Tuesday, I really had intentions of writing something when I got home from work. We even got out of school early, because bad weather was on its way. However, when I got home, there was a storm, and the electricity went off.  I couldn’t write anything, because my laptop would work. After a couple of hours, the lights came on again. I don’t remember why I didn’t write something Tuesday night, but I must have gotten sidetracked.  Probably a bunch of other stuff happened. At any rate, I didn’t write anything.

On Wednesday, I was really, really tired again. That because I only got about 3 hours of sleep the night before, because the electricity went off in the middle of the night. Without power, my sleep apnea machine doesn’t work. Susan suggested that I go sleep in the guest bedroom. I kept waking myself up because I couldn’t breathe very well. I guess that’s why the doctor gave me a CPAP machine.

Anyway,  I got up at 4:30 on Wednesday morning. I took Mr. Dub, the-yellow-outdoor-cat to the vet on Wednesday morning to have him neutered. Then I went to school and worked all day. After school, I picked up Dub at the vet.  (He was in a very bad mood.) Then I got the church building ready for prayer meeting. I ate a snack, took a shower, and then went to the church to preach. After that, we had choir practice. When I got home it was late. So I didn’t write anything.

On Thursday morning, Susan and I went to St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Meridian, MS for Pastor Appreciation Day with a little girl from our congregation. It was a very nice morning. Then we drove 50 miles to our school jobs. At lunch, the Forest United Methodist Church brought me a sack lunch with a big cup of chili. (This is my first time to eat a Catholic doughnut and Methodist chili on the same day. I had hopes that some Presbyterians or Lutherans would bring me something for supper, but it didn’t happen.) At 3:15, my school day was over.

That afternoon, I ran some errands. Then I went home. (Mr. Dub was still in a bad mood.) That evening, I sat down to write my devotion, but then my mother called me from her assisted living apartment. She told me that she got the package of Ricola cough drops that I sent her from Amazon. We talked for about an hour. After that I sat down to write again. Then Seth, his fiancée Leanne, and Stephen Brown started playing Monopoly at the kitchen table. They were making a lot of noise. I was glad that my children were at home playing board games instead of in a dark alley stealing hubcaps or running an illegal methamphetamine lab. But I still couldn’t hear myself think. So, on Thursday, I still didn’t write anything.

Well, now it’s Friday morning, and my deadline is 2 PM. Again, I’m sorry I don’t have a column, but you see what kind of week I’ve had.  Somehow, I think you’ll understand; I’ll bet many (if not all) of your weeks are as interesting, varied, and as hectic as mine.

But it’s really OK with me when I look back on a good week that’s flown by so quickly.

When time goes slowly, I cherish the hours and savor my blessings. But when time goes by quickly, I can be happy for that, too. I rejoice that I’m another week closer to the time when we’ll dwell in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Time won’t be a problem then.

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 Mr. Dub is walking like John Wayne, and is still in a bad mood.)  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: Falling into a trap

11 Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. ~ 2 Corinthians 2:11   (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

When I was a very young preacher, a very old preacher came to preach a revival, and he stayed overnight in our house. He gave me a lot of good advice based on years of experience. One thing he said was, “John, in the Christian life, be very careful. We have an enemy who wants to destroy us and everything we have done for God. And Satan is very patient. We have an enemy who will set a trap for a person and then wait 40 years for the trap-33819_640person to step into it.”

I’ve quoted those words from that wise pastor many times in my preaching over the past 30 years. And something I’ve noticed is that it always “strikes a chord” with my audience—or maybe it’s more like “hitting a nerve.”

People are always coming to me to tell them how the Devil set a trap for them years and years ago and then waited for them to step into it. Sometimes they tell me how they almost became entangled. More often, I’m sad to say, they tell me how they were deceived by the enemy and ensnared. Always, they tell me that what the elderly preacher said is the absolute truth.

Since we know (from the Scriptures and personal experience) that this is true, how can we keep ourselves from being entangled and enslaved?

Well, the best defense against any sort of trap is just knowing that the trap is there. Since we know a trap has been set for each of us, we are wise if we are always on the lookout for it.

Let’s remember the words of the Lord Jesus:

“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.

 The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  (Mark 14:38)

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 Stephen Brown found our missing cat “Dub” four miles from the house this week and brought him home where he ate a very large bowl of cat chow.) 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: Children of the light

5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.

6 ¶ Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.

7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.

8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.  ~  1 Thessalonians 5:5-8   (NKJV)

morning-795377_640By Bro. John L. Cash

When you live out in the country like we do, you have to get up early in the morning. My day starts at 4:30 AM. I get up and put on a pot of coffee and then take a shower. Seth gets up at 5 AM and takes his shower because he has to be at work at 6 AM. Susan gets up and 5:15, and she and I drink coffee together and watch the news and try to get awake to start the day. We both drive to work 32 miles away, and we get there before 7:30.

Out in the country, even little children have to get up early in the morning. When my boys were in grade school, they got up at 6 AM so they could make it to school. A lot of country kids get on the school bus before 7 in the morning. It’s amazing they’re awake enough to learn their lessons.

alarm-clock-147779_640This morning as the sun was coming up, I went into an old-timey grocery store to buy my breakfast. It made me happy to see all the good people there. There were teachers, nurses, truck drivers, factory workers, people who work construction, and every other sort of job. They were getting take-out plates of grits and eggs, crisp bacon, sausage biscuits and drinking big cups of black coffee. It makes perfect sense. You’ve got to be alert and well-nourished to do all the good (hard) work that has to be done in this world.

When my sons were teenagers, they both had jobs where they worked early in the morning. Seth got up at 3:30 AM and made biscuits at Hardee’s. (I think he made 650 homemade biscuits every day.) Spencer worked at a grocery store and left for work at the crack of dawn. Back then, Spencer said something that has always stuck with me. He said, “Dad, when you go out early in the morning, everybody is doing something good. You don’t see crackheads, murderers, and bad guys. All those people are at home in bed. At 6 A.M, nobody is up to any violence or crime or mischief. Everybody who gets up early wants to do some kind of productive work in the world. You’re surrounded by a good class of people.”

I told this to a friend in my congregation who works in law enforcement. He said, “Spencer’s right, Brother John. Good people come out in the morning light. But it’s entirely the opposite at night. People do all sorts of evil things in the darkness. And you would be surprised at the kind of people who are doing it.”

Today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) has a lot to say about this very subject. St. Paul says there’s a big difference between the “people of the day” and the “people of the night.” We’re called by God to be the former. So live for Jesus this week, and let His light shine through you. We can all live as “children of the light”—even if we like to sleep late sometimes. :-)

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 Bo Clark cooked 300 slider-hamburgers when our missionaries, the Tranthams, came for a visit this week.) 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: Does God see a reprobate?

25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.  Hebrews 7:25 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

In my life, I’ve read a lot of theology books. They aren’t Scripture, by any means;  the Bible is our only absolute guide in matters of faith and doctrine. But I’ve found that an understanding of theology comes in handy for a preacher.

In the course of a week I rub shoulders with Christian people from all different sorts of denominations. Theology helps me to understand WHY people hold certain beliefs, even if I don’t agree with them. It also allows me to have fellowship with them, based on the Christian fundamentals on which we are in agreement.

It’s pretty well known in my congregation that I read theology. One time somebody in the church asked Susan if she read theology, too. She told them that she didn’t. “One theologian in the family is enough,” she explained.

That’s probably right.

However, my non-theology-reading wife surprised me the other day. I realized my ongoing exploration of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin must be rubbing off on her. You see, our two Siamese kittens (Eleanor and Mac) were being naughty while she was trying to get dressed for work. (I think they jumped up on the middle of her vanity and into the middle of her make-up while she was trying to apply mascara.) I listened as Susan reached far back into the subconscious recesses of her brain to pull out a piece of impressive theological vocabulary. Pointing her finger at the cats, she shouted, “Get down! You…..you….bad…little…. REPROBATES!”

Well, let me tell you, that made me laugh out loud. Let’s go to the dictionary and you’ll see why:

“reprobate”

 protecting the Holy Child from King Herod  noun

1. a depraved, unprincipled, or wicked person:

a drunken reprobate.

2.  in theology, particularly Calvinism,

     a person beyond hope of salvation.

So now you see why I laughed. Susan didn’t just say the cats are so bad that they AREN’T saved. She actually told them that they’re so bad that they CAN’T BE saved!

(Did you laugh? Well, it’s funny to me, at least. It might just be a preacher thing. I hope there isn’t just the sound of crickets chirping out in Motherlode Land. But I digress….)

Since we’ve defined the theological word “reprobate,” that certainly leads to a question. Is there really such thing as a reprobate? Are there really people who are so far gone that they are beyond the grace of God?

I’ll go to the Holy Scriptures to answer this one. “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance… and a knowledge of the truth.” The Bible clearly teaches that there’s no person so bad that the love of Christ can’t reach them. There are no sins so awful that the blood of Christ can’t cleanse them. After all, isn’t that what John 3:16 is all about?

Oh, there are so many things I’m glad about this morning!

I’m thankful for my clever wife and the joyful life we have together.

I’m thankful for mischievous kittens and the new shenanigans they think up each day.

I’m thankful for the forgiveness of sins, freely given by the Saviour, our Lord Jesus.

And I’m thankful that, in the eyes of God, there’s no such thing as a reprobate.

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 kittens have to sleep in “jail” because they keep pouncing on people’s heads in the middle of the night.) 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: The Plague of Grapes

 Ps 50:10 For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills.  Psalm 50:10 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Something I’ve noticed is that most children like to eat grapes — especially the seedless ones. Something else I’ve noticed is that most children realize grapes are kind of a special treat. As a kid you could probably get away with raiding the pantry for a pound green and red grapesof saltine crackers or a bag of vanilla wafers. But grapes are another matter entirely. Grapes aren’t supposed to be hogged, hoarded, or wasted. Grapes are expensive.

Well, a couple of months ago I had something happen that has never happened to me before. Our household had all the grapes we wanted. In fact, we had MORE grapes than we wanted or could possibly use. I like to refer to it as “The Plague of Grapes.”

Ever so often, our local mega-store receives a shipment of produce that they’re not allowed to sell. Now, mind you, there’s not a thing in the world wrong with these fresh fruits and vegetables. They probably just failed some technicality like sitting in the truck for five minutes too long. Nevertheless, the mega-store can’t sell the produce, so they donate it to charity. Our congregation often gets asked to help distribute the abundance of food.

Well, the last produce our congregation was asked to help distribute was grapes. My goodness, I’ve never seen so many grapes in my life. After giving away flats and cases and bunches to everyone we could think of, we were still overrun with grapes. So, I took several cases to school with me to give to my co-workers, and they all ate grapes and took them home. After three days, the school refrigerator was still full of grapes, and they pretty much just sat there. The unthinkable thing had happened. The teachers were full of grapes, and nobody wanted any more.

joshua and calebSo, one day after lunch, two high school students stuck their head in my office, and they noticed a bunch of grapes that would have made Joshua and Caleb envious. Half-jokingly, they said, “Hey, Dr. Cash! Can we have some grapes?”

(Of course, you do realize they were really just kidding. Because if there’s one thing that every kid knows, it’s that no adult ever gives away grapes just-like-that. That’s because they never imagined there could be a plague of grapes.)

Imagine their amazement when I said, “Sure! Come in! Take all the grapes you want! You can have this 10-pound box!”

Well, there was feasting and rejoicing in their sixth period class that afternoon, as the teenagers “shared the wealth.” And that afternoon, I realized a profound spiritual truth. “Big things” can become “small things” in a situation where there’s an abundance.

Many times I need “something big” from God. But very often I hesitate to ask God for “big things.” I guess I’m thinking that if something is hard for me to get, it must be hard for God to get, too. But that idea is completely wrong. God has an abundance of everything, so we must never hesitate to ask our loving Father for the things we need.

The Psalmist said that the LORD owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.” I’m glad He has plenty of grapes, 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 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 kittens are sniffing the tree, but not attacking it.) 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.