Devotion in Motion: What joy can do

joy to the world10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”  Luke 2:10 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Every once in a while, in the life of every human being, our Creator pulls back the curtains of Heaven and in our lives allows us to see a glimpse of His glory.  And in those moments we feel joy. I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill daily happiness,  and I’m not referring to everyday fun or common amusement. I’m talking about pure, unadulterated joy—those moments when our hearts can scarcely contain the light God has placed within them: JOY.

Now, you don’t need me to draw you a chart because I’m sure you’ve experienced this. I have no idea when you experienced this or what circumstances brought it about. The Bible teaches that each heart has its own sorrows and joys that nobody else can understand. But at some point, God has allowed you to have joy in some moment of your life. I’d love to sit down with you so you could tell me about that time….

Something I’ve come to realize is that so many of my truly joyful memories are connected with Christmases that I’ve celebrated throughout my life. Maybe Heaven is closer to Earth at Christmastime; it kind of seems that way sometimes.

Sometimes when I see a Kodak picture it makes my heart yearn and ache. I was with my loved ones and it was purest joy. I want to climb inside the photograph. I want to live inside the memory. Surely the kingdom of Heaven is like that.

The Christian writer, C. S. Lewis, wrote that the life that we are living now is the “veil of tears.” We only experience joy from time to time and at odd moments that can’t be replicated. But Heaven will be different. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” That is amazing.

I believe joy is a very important thing. It is through joy that we lead our children to Heaven. When we touch their lives with caring and love and attention, at some point the children are bound to feel joy. And this feeling of joy will make them long for Heaven. And because of this longing and yearning, they will believe on the Saviour, Jesus.

We’ve got serious work to do this Christmas, don’t we?

So spread His love. And share His joy.

And have a very Merry Christmas.

Dr. 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 joyful Christmas plans are in the works.)  Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: Why Christmas programs matter so much

15 “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Mark 10:15 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I have wonderful memories of the congregation I grew up in. It was large in love, although not large in number. One thing’s for certain, though. If you’re growing up in a church with only a handful of kids, you’re guaranteed to land a part in the annual Christmas program. Such was my fate.

The Christmas I turned fourteen (and Gwen Rule Rockwood was two-and-a-half) I was again cast in a supporting role in the Yuletime pageant. And I made up my mind that my life was about to change. I decided I had completed my fair share of Christmas programs and that they would have to find someone else to help reenact that year’s rendition of the Holy Nativity. I was too old for such childishness. My Christmas program days were over. I would never be in a Christmas program again. Period.

When I informed my father I was no longer a little kid and therefore exempt from my annual chore, I was amazed when he agreed with me. He said it was clear I was no longer a child. I was becoming “a young man” and, as a result, I had a responsibility to serve the Lord in His Church. I knew he was scamming me a little bit, but there was a bit of truth in his argument. So I decided I would wait until the next year to end my Christmas program career.

Well, it didn’t work out that way at all. The longer I serve the Lord, the more I’m convinced that He has a rich sense of humor. Wouldn’t you know that I have been in at least one Christmas program every year without fail since then?

Last Sunday night, the Cash family helped the good Christian folks at First United Methodist in Newton with their annual “Drive-thru Living Nativity Scene.”  This is a big, well-done production (with live donkey, sheep, and even a llama) and people come to see it from miles around.

Susan was the angel-on-the-roof, and I was one of the three wise men. Spencer was a Roman soldier, and Madeline was the Virgin Mary. Seth was Joseph, and his girlfriend, Leann, was in the angelic choir. The photo below shows us all dressed up and ready to play our parts.

NUMC 2014 Nativity (3)During the event, there was vegetable soup, hot chocolate, at least seven kinds of cake, and lots of good fellowship. As the church newsletters always say, “A good time was had by all.”

And when I was standing-as-motionless-as-possible for my three half-hour shifts, it was a great reminder of why we have Christmas programs every year.  From the open windows of the cars passing the scenes, over and over I heard moms and dads telling the story: “Now see that, those are the three wise men, and they followed the star so they could fall down and worship Baby Jesus….”

It made me remember that anything that makes people tell others the Story of Jesus is a good thing. That’s why you never get too old to be in a Christmas program.

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 had a somewhat hard time getting the wise-man-beard-glue to come off his face.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: I’m Still Standing

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness. ~ Ephesians 6:17 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Several years ago, a friend of mine went through several serious reversals, both in his business and in his personal life. For a while he stayed at home by himself and then frowned and moped around every time he went out in public. But not long after that, it seemed like every time I looked up, my friend was busy working full speed ahead on different projects. He volunteered to do all types of construction and landscaping work for various ministries. His countenance reflected a deep contentment and a renewed joy. When I asked him about this, he told me that something he’d heard me say in a sermon had spurred him to action:

“This life is a constant battle with discouragement. But I’ve noticed that I’m never depressed when I’m standing up.”

Well, looking back on what I said, I was probably a little hasty. “Never” really does cover a lot of ground. But, in essence, I wholeheartedly believe in what I arrows pointing upsaid. If discouragement comes my way, it only gets worse if I stay in bed or spend the day sitting on my rear thinking about how awful my situation is. But standing up and taking the smallest steps always leads me in the direction of encouragement and peace.

So, if Old Man Winter is giving you the blues today, it’s the right time to “look up” to God and “stand up” on your feet. Because it’s difficult to be depressed when you’re standing up. And it’s hard to be discouraged when you’re walking forward with your Saviour.

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 and his family are planning to help the Methodists with the living Nativity tonight.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: It’s what you know, not what you feel

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“For we walk by faith, not by sight.2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)

I’m writing this devotion on Tuesday, and I feel one thousand times better than I did yesterday. That’s because most preachers feel terrible on Monday. On Mondays I typically find myself fighting fatigue and a dark mood. Yesterday I told people the same thing that I always say on Monday: “I’ll feel better monday-and-coffee1tomorrow, when Tuesday gets here, just by virtue of the fact that it won’t be Monday.”

I’ve asked a lot of pastors for their opinions, and the consensus is pretty much unanimous. Monday is a hard day for preachers. My brother-in-law, Dr. Ron M. Buck, told me when I entered the ministry that he thought a minister should take a different day besides Monday for his day off, because Monday is pretty much shot anyway.

I asked Bro. C. E. Wall, one of my mentors who’s nearing the age of 80, what he thought of the situation. He told me that for many years he preached twice each Sunday and then went to work at the Highway Department bright and early Monday morning. He summed it up simply: “Oh, John, Mondays were rough. Tuesdays were always better, but Mondays were rough.”

I’m not sure why Mondays are so hard for preachers, but I have some theories. Most preachers work really hard on Sundays and are really happy on the Lord’s Day. As so often is the case, an emotional high is followed by an emotional low. Sometimes we get so wound up that it’s hard to get to sleep Sunday night.

I like my friend Bro. Archie Taflinger’s idea the best. He believes that sometimes we probably don’t take care of ourselves the way we should on the other six days of the week. He says that when we preach on Sundays, the Holy Spirit works in us and through us. God is so much stronger than we are that our frail bodies are overworked by His presence. I think there’s more than a grain of truth in his explanation.

Everybody has a hard day now and again, and I think that’s especially true for mothers. God has placed mothers in a ministry that never ends and that never has a day off. Yet, one thing I have learned is absolutely true. When you’re tired and blue, it’s important not to focus on the way that you FEEL but on what you KNOW to be true.

We walk by faith and not by sight. We are saved by our faith, not by our feelings. The promises that God told us in the light are still true in our darkness. And Jesus’ last promise to His children before He ascended into Heaven is this:“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

So, dear mother, take heart. The light of Jesus is always with you, even on the cloudiest Monday. And Tuesday always comes again, right in God’s perfect timing.

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 and his wife are on their way to visit kinfolks.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: When words aren’t enough

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Colossians 3:15 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash 

I have a first cousin who I dearly love. I think he’s getting close to 80 years old now. I guess you’re not supposed to have favorites among your cousins, but I’m pretty sure that he’s mine. I think my other cousins would be good with that—because I’m pretty certain he is their favorite cousin, too. He’s just a very special person. And he reminds me a lot of my Dad, who I miss very much.

My cousin is not a preacher, but he gets up at 4:30 every morning to study the Bible. One day he got out his Bible and dictionaries and concordances and sat bibledown to learn from God’s Holy Word. It was only then that he realized things weren’t making sense. He no longer knew how to read. He got his wife to drive him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke.

Since then, he’s made a remarkable recovery and is back to the normal activities of life. But shortly after his stroke, he suffered from a condition known as aphasia. He knew exactly what he wanted to say, but he couldn’t pick the right words to express himself. Sometimes when I visited him, I would give him a package or a present. And when I left to go home, he always had the same reply. Being unable to say the name of the thing I had brought him, he would always say, “John, thank you. Thank you for this.” And then he would hold up his present, to indicate what the “this” referred to.

Well, in my book, that is one of the sweetest things on Earth. And it made me think: I’m pretty sure I have some sort of “spiritual aphasia.” Very often I find myself with blessings, and they are blessings that are so wonderful I can’t find words.

A true confession here: Whenever a baby is born to our country church, we ask the Lord’s blessing on the child before the congregation. And, historically, I http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-fall-thanksgiving-baby-cornucopia-image27771952have always dreaded that. Not because I don’t love babies, but quite the opposite. You see, God’s gift of a child is just so great. I just can’t find words to express what my heart feels as I try to verbally give thanks to God.

But, I don’t feel that way now. Because one time, just before I laid hands on the child I told the congregation what I just told you. “I’m sorry. My words won’t be enough. Because it’s just too great. I can’t find words.” Then the baby’s father looked me straight in the eye, and he nodded his head. He fully understood.

Well, that’s where I am this Thanksgiving. The Lord has given me so many things, and I am so grateful that I can’t find words to express what I feel. Sometimes the whole scene just sweeps over me.

So, for the people I love, for all the gifts and the bounty I have received, for all the beauty I see around, and for the joy I feel in my heart I can only say, “Thank you, God. Thank you God, for this.”

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 and his wife are on their way to visit kinfolks.)  Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

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