Devotion in Motion: Her kid sometimes “hates” church

33 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Luke 21:33 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Dear Anne,

Thanks so much for bringing your middle school age son, Atticus, by to visit with me today. He is a joy, and I love him in the Lord so very much. He reminds square peg round holeme a lot of myself when I was his age; like me, he’s the “square peg” that’s never going to fit into the “round hole” of what passes for normal in junior high school. But that’s OK. He has a very good heart, he feels things very deeply, and he wants to do good things in this world. When you scrape it all off, you can’t ask for much more than that.

You seemed upset when Atticus told me that sometimes he “hates the Church.” Seriously, Anne, I’m not worried about him at all, but I’m quite worried about you. You flushed bright red, and you got that blotchy stuff on your neck that angry moms get. I think you misunderstood what Atticus was trying to tell me.

When he said, “Sometimes I hate the Church” he wasn’t talking about the holy-called-out-assembly for which Christ Jesus shed His blood. What he was talking about was his dislike for the over-kill and “bloat” that passes for Christianity, and which is inseparably connected with it in this present day. Atticus has no problem accepting Jesus and His gospel. People have just added too many (in the words of Bugs Bunny) “accoutrements.”

Anne, I understand what Atticus said. And, I must confess, I agree with him.

After all, we understand that kids are under a tremendous amount of peer pressure to fit in. In American teenage culture, you’re expected to be physically attractive, athletic, and to wear the right clothes and the right shoes. What parents are failing to realize is that there’s also a “peer pressure” in the Evangelical church movement.

Think about it: If a young person in youth group said he didn’t like monastic Gregorian chants or bluegrass gospel music, nobody would say he wasn’t a Christian (even though these are both prominent types of Christian music.) However, if the same young person said he didn’t like the church praise-and-worship band, he’d probably be labeled as some kind of freak. Worse than that, I’ve known youth groups that have said that such a teen “isn’t right with God.”

So, you should be proud of Atticus, not upset with him. He’s smarter than most kids and is more perceptive than many adults. He’s not going to have non-essentials forced upon him. And, face it. A lot of things that Christian kids have forced upon them are fads. They were created by corporations to make money. And like all fads and fashions, they soon go out of style.

Nobody is wearing a “WWJD” bracelet any more. No church group is watching “The Passion of the Christ.” No church is leading a study on “The Purpose Driven Life” or “The Prayer of Jabez.” These things were very good and popular in their heyday. But now these fads have run their course and can be purchased from a bin at the ninety-nine-cents store.

stain glass windowSo if Atticus isn’t bowled over by all these “temporary” things, don’t get bent out of shape. You see, Anne, the only thing that matters in life is what we do with Jesus Christ. Most of what gets tacked on to Him is popular for only a short time.

In my way of thinking, if your kids believe all the things listed in The Apostles’ Creed, they’re off to a smashing start. Atticus believes those things. He’s made a decision on his own to be baptized into Jesus Christ. Just start there, and build on.

So rejoice and be glad. Always encourage your son in his most holy faith. Pray and relax. As my theology professor used to tell me, “God doesn’t lose too many of His own.”

I have more to write to you, but it’ll have to wait until next week. Have a great one.

Blessings,

Brother John

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 has been sunny and beautiful this week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

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: “Lord, let them 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

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 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.)

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).

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: A mother’s ministry

3 The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things– 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. ~ Titus 2:3-5 (NKJV) By Bro. John L. Cash A couple of Sundays ago, I was watching my wife while I was busy preaching in the pulpit. Susan was doing something she often does during a worship service now that our sons are young men in their twenties. She was (silently) entertaining two little girls so their young mother could listen to the sermon. Watching her do that brought back memories of my own dear mother who used to do the same thing during worship. It made me think. These ladies should have a business card. It would say something like: cash women biz cardAll silliness aside, do you realize what a wonderful ministry it is to care for a child during a worship service? (Many churches need extra help from volunteers during the summer months to keep the children’s programs going.)

Whenever the Bible is preached, the Holy Spirit takes the written Word of God and changes it into the Living Word of God. Whenever God’s Word is preached, the Holy Spirit is teaching us and changing us into more of what we should be. But the preaching must first be heard—and it’s the people like “The Cash Women” who make this possible. Ed Emberley book

Give this some serious thought during the remainder of this year. All of you fall into one of two categories; either you are in need of this service, or you can render it.

(The Lord uses men to sometimes do this, too. My dad was the original “Baby Whisperer.”) It will help if you always arrive at church with a “bag of tricks” that holds your arsenal of (silent) activities. My mother always had a hand-mirror, comb, and white gloves for little girls, and children’s workbooks about baptism and communion for older children. Susan often has Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book: Make a World and colored pencils in her purse.

In today’s Scripture text, St. Paul exhorts that the older women who are believers should help the younger women of the congregation. What better help could you give in 2015 than making it possible for God’s Word to do His work? john l cash

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 the preacher is back on his pre-diabetes diet after eating too many carbs recently.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: For your hard days

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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: Kindness 101

5 ¶ But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge. 2nd Peter 1:5 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

My wife Susan was once invited to a special program at one of our local elementary schools. The children were observing and celebrating “Kindness Day.”

In every subject the students are taught, the teachers had incorporated the study of the virtue of kindness—aligning their lesson plans to the Common Core be kindobjectives. They read the biographies of kindly people, recounted kind deeds in American history, and wrote essays about ways they could show kindness. Each classroom worked for weeks on a project in which they could demonstrate their kindness to others on the appointed day.

Upon visiting the campus, Susan was so very impressed with the children’s accomplishments. She said the entire school was imbued with a “distinct vibe”—an ambiance and spirit of kindness.

I think this is the best sort of thing that can happen in the world in which we live. Something I’ve noticed is that we have lots of great sports teams, wonderful marching bands, and students who have high scores on the SATs. All of these things are admirable and worthy. And the reason that students excel in the endeavors is because they study these things and they practice them.

Could it be that kindness and goodness are disappearing from our society because we do not consciously teach them and overtly practice them? Children become what they learn. And the world becomes what the children practice.

With the help of the Lord, and for His sake, let’s strive to always make virtue a required subject.

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 have had a very good–and very busy–week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

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!