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).

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

Susan was invited to a special program at one of our local elementary schools this week. 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).

Devotion in Motion: Our first blessing

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

  2Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I think that November is my favorite month of the year.  After all, in November, we can think about all the fun things we did for Halloween and look forward to all the good things we will do at Christmas.

But besides that, just on its own, November is wonderful. God decorates the world with the autumn leaves, and we decorate our homes with pilgrims and acorns and pumpkins and apples and turkeys and cornucopias. November is the time to celebrate Thanksgiving—but that’s easy because the beauty of November just makes me feel thankful.

veterans_day2014This week it dawned on me that Veteran’s Day is always in November, right before Thanksgiving. That is so fitting. Freedom is the first blessing for which to give thanks. Freedom is what makes the enjoyment of all of our other blessings possible. And, as they say, “freedom is never free.” It exists only because our veterans have fought and sacrificed to purchase our liberty.

Maybe that sounds hackneyed and trite. But preachers really believe it. They’re the ones who do the funerals for soldiers killed in the line of duty.

So, on this November morning, look up and see the blessings our Heavenly Father has poured out all around us, and give thanks. And don’t forget that on the calendar—and in our everyday lives—Thanksgiving always follows Veterans’ Day. We just have to be wise enough to realize the connection.

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 November is very beautiful this year.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: Sufferings of this present time

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Susan and I got flu shots this week, as we usually do in October. Most years, afterwards we don’t even remember we took them. But this year has been a bit different. Both of us were a little puny for a couple of days after our injections. Actually, we were both quite puny.

shotThe paper that came with my shot said that it’s impossible to catch influenza from the flu vaccine because the virus in the injection has been killed. Also, the school nurse told me that what happened to Susan and me was not a “reaction.” (I think they reserve that word for allergic reactions, where the patient has to have emergency treatment.)

Instead, Susan and I had a “response” to the vaccine. Our immune systems thought the weakened flu bug was a threat to our health so it generated an immune response by churning out a bunch of antibodies. And in the process of making this army of defenders, we both had sore arms, scratchy throats, chilliness, headaches, and general malaise.

In spite of all this, we’re both planning on taking flu shots again next year. From experience, we know that the response one gets from an inoculation is really nothing at all when you compare it with having the full-blown flu. Two days of mild discomfort is nothing at all to pay for the chance of avoiding seven to ten days of high fever and body aches.

In today’s Scripture lesson at the top, St. Paul expresses a similar sentiment in the Epistle to the Romans about the purpose and scope of our sufferings in this life:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:18 

And here’s one more verse just like it:

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  2 Corinthians 4:17

So, heed these words of encouragement this week. Although our afflictions do not feel “light” or only “for a moment” sometimes, they are making us turn out as we ought. And when we see the Lord face-to-face, the trials that prepared us and perfected us will be forgotten as they pale by comparison to that moment of joy.

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 Mrs. are very much improved.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

Devotion in Motion: Restore my soul

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. ~ Psalm 23:6   (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I’m having a hard time writing a devotion this week because I feel pretty bummed out. This week started off with a hard funeral at our church, and Susan and I haven’t slowed down after that. I’ll probably tell you about it later because we’ve witnessed a lot of blessings lately. But it will have to wait because I just don’t stale donuthave enough umption in my gumption to write it down right now. It’s always my custom to get wound up super tight before a funeral and then to be worn out for days afterward. If the universe were a giant bakery, I would be the last doughnut in the box, four days old.

And I always hesitate to write when I’m having a bad day like this because it feels like I’m complaining. Besides, my readers always get concerned and worried and everything and send emails that say, “Are you OK??”

So, please don’t worry. I’m perfectly OK. I don’t need electroshock therapy. Maybe just a trip to Hot Springs for mineral baths. Or some sunshine. And a nap.

When I was growing up in the 1960’s, I always loved anything to do with NASA. I especially liked reading about the astronauts who flew in those early space apollocapsules, like the Apollo ones that went to the moon. Something that impressed me was that those astronauts endured all sorts of jarring sounds, jolts and vibrations that would terrify the average person. But the astronauts experienced all those things without any change in breathing rate or increase in heartbeat—because they had been trained to know that these bumps and crashes were normal. Now that, my friends, is a valuable lesson for all of us to learn.

So, whenever you’re having a bad day, it’s good to take the Scriptures and work backwards. As children, we all memorized the 23rd Psalm. And in that chapter, King David makes a declaration about our Lord: “He restoreth my soul.” That verse tells us something about the kind of God we serve. He is a God who is able to fix our inmost beings.

And by working backwards we learn something about the nature of ourselves: not all days are equally good. Sometimes our souls are in need of a restoration.

So, I guess the message for today is, “If you’ve got the ‘blahs’ today, don’t sweat it.” Everybody has a bad day sometimes. That just comes with the territory. But it is a great comfort to know our God is the Great Soul-Mender.

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 already feeling better.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).

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