Devotion in Motion: Befriending the unfriendly

22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart. 

1 Peter 1:22   (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

“Well, the Bible says I have to LOVE him, but it doesn’t say I have to LIKE him!” You’ve heard someone say that before, haven’t you? (I’ll bet it was one of your aunts.) The opening quote is a common (Southern) utterance expressing exasperation at having to deal with an irritating person.

Those who say it indicate that they’re willing to extend the bare-bones-goodwill of Christian tolerance to people who bother them — but absolutely nothing more than that. They base this upon their understanding of the Scriptures. And although it is a statement that is often spoken, my study of the Scriptures has led me to believe that it’s not entirely true.

Look at today’s Bible verse (at the top), and think about it carefully. Did you notice that St. Peter uses the word “love” two times? He is twice giving us an cat friends2exhortation to love other people — using a different Greek word (with different shades of meaning) for “love” each time.

If I were making a translation of the verse, I would say something like this: “You already have Christian love for others. Now, go past that. Love them some more. And then be friends with them.”

So, the next time you hear it, (gently) tell your aunt or friend or neighbor that she is mistaken. And charge right ahead and love that person who is so difficult to love. And then ask the Lord to fill your heart with love and touch your heart with grace so that you can begin to “like” that difficult person.

After all, isn’t that just the sort of thing that Jesus would do?

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 gorgeous the past few days.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: The Monkey’s Disgrace

17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.  Galatians 5:17   (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Not too long ago I bought a big box of hardcover devotional books at a thrift store for a few dollars. I couldn’t wait to get home to fully explore my treasure.  Upon opening the book at the top of the stack, a folded piece of newsprint fluttered to the floor. It was a yellowed newspaper clipping from the 1940’s, bearing the words of a poem. I thought it was too good not to share with you.

 The Monkeys’ Disgrace

Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree
Discussing things as they’re said to be.
Said one to another, “Now listen, you two,
There’s a certain rumor that cannot be true,
That man descends from our noble race -
The very idea is a disgrace.
No monkey ever deserted his wife,
Starved her babies and ruined her life;
And you’ve never known a mother monk
To leave her babies with others to bunk,
Or pass them on from one to another
Til they scarcely know who is their mother.
And another thing you’ll never see -
A monk build a fence around a coconut tree
And let the coconuts go to waste,
Forbidding all other monks to taste.
Why, if I put a fence around this tree,
Starvation would force you to steal from me.
Here’s another thing a monk won’t do -
Go out at night and get on a stew,
Or use a gun or club or knife
To take some other monkey’s life;
Yes, Man Descended – That ornery cuss -
But, brother, he didn’t descend from us!”
- anonymous

monkey readingI think there are a couple of  lessons to learn here. First of all, the little old lady who clipped this verse and saved it as bookmark (and probably read it to the “Ladies’ Group” at church) is still touching lives, even though she has long been with the Lord.

We all need to live well every day so that we leave a trail of kind memories and tender tokens of love everywhere we pass. Then our legacy will be making this world a better place even after we leave it.

And secondly, the poem itself teaches a valid lesson. As followers of Christ, we need to live better than the wicked of this world who behave worse than some animals do. Let’s follow the admonition of St. Paul as we live out this coming week: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

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’s Siamese cat “Kissie” works daily to keep the Cash family on schedule.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: A little word that makes a big difference

7 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”  Luke 12:7   (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

The Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) all tell the story of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. The four authors write about the same Person, but (as you might expect) they tell their stories from different viewpoints and include different narratives and details.

Something we see from their various accounts is that Jesus often repeated a sermon when He had a new crowd that hadn’t heard it the first time He preached it. However, like all preachers, He often changed His delivery a bit the second time around.

bonusFor instance, Matthew and Luke both tell us that Jesus said that human beings are “worth more than many sparrows.” Jesus told Matthew that “two sparrows are sold for a copper coin.” But when Luke heard Jesus preach that sermon He said “five sparrows are sold for two copper coins.” That’s fascinating to me—if only because it shows that in that day-and-time, if you spent the extra penny, they threw in one “bonus sparrow” for free! :-)

Here’s another example that’s probably more significant and important than that one: Matthew, Mark, and Luke all heard Jesus say that if any person wants to be a disciple of the Lord he must:

1. Deny himself.

2. Take up his cross.

3. Follow Him.

But when St. Luke heard Jesus preach this sermon, the Saviour added a single word. It is the word “DAILY”.

24  7“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’” Luke 9:23 (NKJV)

When we accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we told Him we would follow Him. But are you taking up your cross daily? It’s a five-letter-word that makes a world of difference.

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 it’s been a very busy week.)  Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: Seeing the end of the story

7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you..              

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).

Devotion in Motion: Dysfunctional families in the Bible

¶ Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. ~ 1 John 3:1 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I overheard a television program the other day on which they were discussing “dysfunctional families.” That got me to thinking. I’ve been working around people a long, long time. In my whole lifetime, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a perfectly “functional” family. Have you?

dysfunctional familyDid you ever stop to consider that the families we read about in the Bible would fall into the “dysfunctional” category? Adam and Eve had two sons, and one was good and the other was wicked. Noah had a drinking problem. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all showed favoritism in the raising of their children. St. Peter had a sick mother-in-law. St Paul and his sidekick Barnabas had a parting-of-ways over their dealings with Barnabas’ nephew John Mark. King David’s children didn’t get along with him—or each other—at all. And these examples just scratch the surface. I’m sure you can think of other examples from Scripture.

So, try not to feel too bad about your drunk uncle, your aunt who’s been married 6 times, or the first-cousin that you’d never let into your house except for the fact that you share the same set of grandparents. The Biblical record shows you that you’re not alone in having a few offbeat family members. :-)

Have you noticed that we have a lot more tolerance with the quirky behavior of our relatives than we would have with the idiosyncrasies of random people off the street? That’s because we’re related by blood to our kinfolk; somewhere back in the family tree we share a common father with them. And since this is true with our earthly families, I believe we certainly should have a lot of patience with the people in our “church families.” After all, we’re related by the blood of our Saviour to all Christians — and we all share the same Heavenly Father.

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 hopes his kinfolks don’t count him as one of their crazy relatives.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

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