Devotion in Motion: Be a peacemaker

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Editor’s note: The following is part of a series of posts on the “Desiderata,” (which is Latin for “the things to be desired,”) The following two lines are taken from the poem.

Editor’s note: This column follows last week’s post about the Desiderata (Latin for “the things to be desired.”) The following two lines are taken from this beautiful poem. – See more at: http://nwamotherlode.com/nwacontent/devotion-in-motion#sthash.3ep8F6p9.dpuf

“As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.”

If you’ve got a household repair you need to do quickly, it’s awfully nice to have one of those cheap screwdriver sets. You know the set I’m talking about — it comes in a plastic box and has a handle with a bunch of interchangeable fittings. I wouldn’t want to put together a jungle gym with one, but for little jobs it can’t be beat. It’s nice to have one screwdriverhandle that works in so many situations.

My teachers have given me words of advice that are just like that screwdriver handle. A high school English teacher told me something I’ve found to be fascinating because it’s almost always true: “If you look, you can always find one more of anything.” Try this one out the next time you need one more hanger, one more Band-aid, or one more dime. You can’t always find two, but you can almost always find one more of anything.

My New Testament Theology professor, Bro. Robert H. Smith, gave me a word of advice that has guided my life ever since I heard it. He said, “John, don’t ever ‘burn a bridge behind you’ on purpose. You’ll do enough of that already on accident.” Whenever I’ve left a job or a situation, I’ve tried to remember what he told me. And as a result, I’ve been able to return again to previous employers, duties, and settings. It’s wonderful to cross back over a bridge you had the foresight not to burn.

In every circumstance in life, there are bound to be misunderstandings, friction, and aggravations. On “your way out,” it’s tempting to comment on injustices, explain the moral correctness of your actions, or take a parting shot at settling the score. But when you do that you always wind up looking like a small, petty person.

When my boys were tiny, Spencer was pestering Seth at the supper table. I told him, “Stop it, Mr. Troublemaker.” Spencer’s reply to me was both humorous and illuminating: “Okay, Mr. Peacemaker.”

I know my son was just making a joke, but I hope I can always find real ways to be a peacemaker in this broken world. The Bible tell us that “peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:18) That’s the reward for building bridges — instead of burning them behind you.

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 Autumn is in the air.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

remix (4)Note from the mamas: The Summer Remix symbol appears on posts previously published on nwaMotherlode that were noted as a “reader favorite”. If you missed the original publication date, we hope you’ll enjoy this encore performance. Happy summer!

Devotion in Motion: Never-ending information

10 Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Editor’s note: This column follows last week’s post about the Desiderata (Latin for “the things to be desired.”) The following two lines are taken from this beautiful poem.

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.”

When the last hurrah of Hurricane Katrina hit our house back in 2005, we were left without electricity for 3 weeks and without running water for 2 weeks. We ate a lot of picnic food, took sponge-baths with pans of water, and for entertainment played Scrabble by lamplight. I remember those 21 days as being very peaceful — and very quiet.

Reading a bit of history, I had a realization. For Abraham Lincoln (and all those other folks in the history books), each and every day had no electric lights and running water. And it made me realize that “Honest Abe’s” brain was surely a lot quieter than my brain. He had no television, radio, iPod, iPad, laptop, CD player, or cell phone to disrupt his thoughts. He was an avid reader, but books were scarce back then. Have you ever noticed how quiet everything is when the power goes out? For President Lincoln, that kind of silence was “standard operating procedure.”

peace & quiet exitThe truth is, we are probably hit with more media in a week than President Lincoln experienced in his entire lifetime. We’re bombarded with nonstop sound and fury every day. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Never-ending information is a new development in the history of mankind. And I’m not sure we were designed to handle this overload of constant mental stimulation.

Something I’ve discovered is that too much “talk”— be it from television, radio, or the Internet — absolutely wears me out. I’m a person who doesn’t like conflict or confrontation. Have you noticed how many programs consist of people discussing problems or arguing with one another?

I’ve found that I feel a lot better if sometimes I take a break from the media. God has promised to give me enough strength to deal with my problems. But there’s no profit in wearing myself down by listening to disagreements that really aren’t my business.

Something else I’ve found is that when I’m really stressed, I can help myself by listening to music — specifically music without words. (I learned the power of wordless music from a friend who has now gone to be with the Lord.) Instrumentals provide better stress relief than vocals probably because they free up the part of the brain involved in verbal reasoning and problem solving.

When I’m having a rough day, I listen to instrumentals. I’m not just talking about “elevator music.” Depending on your mood, you could listen to hymns, show tunes, symphonies, easy listening, the Pops, real jazz, or a dozen other options. Try it out and see how it works for you.

Better yet, when things are hectic, try to find a few minutes of silence. As today’s Scripture lesson (at the top) teaches us, “Be still and know that He is God.” Unplug or power down all the electronics. Spend time with the Lord. And then listen to the peace and quiet.

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 Southern Pine Electric used to go off every time it thundered.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

remix (4)Note from the mamas: The Summer Remix symbol appears on posts previously published on nwaMotherlode that were noted as a “reader favorite”. If you missed the original publication date, we hope you’ll enjoy this encore performance. Happy summer!

Devotion in Motion: Things to be desired

apples of gold1 ¶ A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold

In settings of silver.

Proverbs 25:1 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Lately, everywhere I look I see evidences of my childhood. Spencer and Seth rescued a number of treasures from the house I grew up in, and are using them to decorate the places of their abode. I am surrounded by happy memories.

One of my favorite things is the framed picture of the “Desiderata” that used to hang in my grandmother’s bedroom. “Desiderata” is a Latin word that means “The things to be desired.” It’s a beautiful piece of poetry, and it’s my desire that you become acquainted with it (if you’re not already.) It would be a shame to go through life without ever reading it.

Maybe in the next few weeks I’ll comment on how the content of this poem find their fulfillment in daily life. But today I just want to share it in its entirety. Think about it this week. And strive to be happy.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.

desiderata plaqueSpeak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious
to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter, for always
there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment;
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

©1927 Max Ehrmann (renewed) Bell & Son publishing, LLC

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 tropical storm Karen turned out to be a dud.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

remix (4)Note from the mamas: The Summer Remix symbol appears on posts previously published on nwaMotherlode that were noted as a “reader favorite”. If you missed the original publication date, we hope you’ll enjoy this encore performance. Happy summer!

Devotion in Motion: Are you 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)

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.”

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 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).

remix (4)Note from the mamas: The Summer Remix symbol appears on posts previously published on nwaMotherlode that were noted as a “reader favorite”. If you missed the original publication date, we hope you’ll enjoy this encore performance. Happy summer!

Devotion in Motion: What makes a preacher want to lie

2 I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. Psalm 138:2 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I try to be a person who tells the truth. But this past week something happened that made me wish I could tell a lie. Here’s the story.

On Saturday I was in the process of checking out a big pile of books at the Meridian Public Library. Most of them were Bible commentaries and there were also some historical books about the King James Version. Making small talk, the librarian asked “Are you a preacher?”

Of course, I said “yes.” But for a moment I wished I could lie. In my mind, it would have been a lot better if I could have said “no.” People naturally expect preachers to study the Bible. Wouldn’t it have been great if I could have said, “No, I’m not a preacher. But I dearly love the Bible and everything about it because it is God’s holy and inerrant Word.” Or words to that effect.

bibleI’ve got to admit something here. Sometimes I have studied the Bible because I’m a preacher. Ready or not, Sunday is coming and all the preachers are going to need something to say. But it is my sincere hope that most of the time I love and study the Bible because I’m a child of God and because that’s the thing that God’s children do.

Today’s Scripture verse (at the top) contains a truth that is amazing to me. It says that God has honored His Word above His Name. That means that God’s Word is vastly important. I am not sure that I can even fathom that. That’s something to think about next Sunday when we dig our Bibles out of the floorboard of the car where they’ve been for seven days.

So, if you’re not a preacher, help me out this week. Become a student of God’s holy Word. Make it such a part of your life that people can’t help but notice. Sooner or later, somebody will ask you if you are a preacher.

Then you can take it from there.

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 the preacher mailed the photographs yesterday.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).

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