Devotion in Motion: The practice of good home training

9 “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.” ~ Deuteronomy 4:9 NKJV

By Bro. John L. Cash

When I was 3 years old (growing up in Stuttgart, Arkansas) our preacher’s wife was my babysitter. I can remember staying there with the preacher, and his wife, and his children (who were nearly grown.) I liked being there very much, in that spacious old house in a neighborhood that was full of oak trees and falling autumn leaves.

blocksIt was a peaceful and quiet place, and I spent my days happily playing with my building blocks on the polished hardwood floors.

Once, at the end of the day,  the preacher’s wife called my mother into the dining room to talk privately. She said, “Elizabeth, I need to tell you something. Today when John was playing, his building-blocks fell over. And then he said a cuss word. And I feel so bad. I’m afraid that he picked the word up from me. I said the same thing the other day in the kitchen when I broke a plate. Elizabeth, I’m so sorry.”

My mother, ever the plain-spoken, straight shooter, looked her friend in the eye and said, “You can stop worrying right now. You are not the one John heard that bad word from. I can tell you for certain, he learned it at home.”

That’s a story that my mom like to tell when our family gets together. It always makes us laugh. But there’s an important lesson there, too. It’s a lesson that people need to take note of.

Bad behavior seems to be the fashion of the day. Crude language, rude manners, and general coarseness are the daily habit of so many people in our world.  It’s probably safe to say, “They learned it at home.” Or, at very least, they didn’t pick up on (or retain) the positive lessons that the people who loved them tried to teach them. Things need to change!

A nation will never be better than its people. And good people come from the nurture of Christian parents. Take time to give your children some “home training” this week. In the course of childhood, they may pick up a word or two that they shouldn’t. But they can learn righteousness and goodness at home, too.

rp_john-l-cash-212x3001.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 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 carpenter finished remodeling Miss Susan’s bathroom this week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

Devotion in Motion: When we are weak

3 A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.   ~  Isaiah 42:3

By Bro. John L. Cash

The Scripture teaches us that we all need to deal gently with other people. Human beings are breakable; the faith we all possess is fragile, too. Human hearts and human spirits are easily broken. Childlike faith is easily damaged.

In the 42nd chapter of the Book of Isaiah, God foretells what the Messiah will be like when He comes to earth. The gospel writer quotes Isaiah’s prophecy and ties it to the life of Jesus Christ: “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoking flax He will not quench.”bruised reed

That verse tells us that humans are like flower stems. They are sturdy under ordinary conditions. But once something happens to bend a kink in the stem, it doesn’t take much to break the stem off. We have to deal carefully with those who are injured, to ensure they do not become irrevocably broken.

The verse also says humans are like candle flames. A candle shines brightly under normal circumstances. But if a drop of water (or something else) causes the candle to sputter, the flame can be easily extinguished by simply licking your fingers and pinching the wick. We have to deal gently with those whose faith is faltering, to ensure they do not become unbelievers.

Most wonderfully, Isaiah’s prophecy shows us so much about the loving nature of God. If you’re injured and limping, God never does anything to “finish you off.”  “A bruised reed He will not break.” Instead, He binds us up and helps us to be strong again.

Likewise, when the wick of our faith is smoldering, He never does anything to extinguish us. “A smoking flax He will not quench.” Instead, He shelters our candle from the drafts that would blow it out, until our light shines clear, bright, and warm again.

This is how Jesus deals with us when we are weak. And He has given us this as the pattern of how we should treat others — especially the little ones.

rp_john-l-cash-212x3001.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 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 carpenter finished remodeling Miss Susan’s bathroom this week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

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Devotion in Motion: Works of God

4 “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.   John 9:4  (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

I’ve filled out paperwork with the Teachers’ Retirement System, and people have been asking me if I’m looking forward to retirement. I tell them I don’t think of it as “retiring”; I’m merely going to “draw my pension.”

First of all, it’s clear I don’t have enough money to retire to the beaches of Aruba for the rest of my life. I have a feeling I (like most people nowadays) will be employed at something or another to make a little money from here on out.

But in addition to that, I don’t think I’ll be retiring because I hardly ever see a Christian person who actually retires. Some people continue to work as they get older, and in the midst of it the Lord takes them home to be with Him. Others leave their jobs and then find themselves in various states of sickness and disability as they live out their senior years. And, something I’ve seen over and over is that people who are fortunate enough to retire in good health spend their days driving those who are less fortunate to doctors’ appointments! In real life, most retired couples don’t look like the ones starring in vitamin commercials.retirement

I hope to rest and relax a little more in the next few months. But I don’t think I’ll ever really retire — because I’m not sure if Christians are supposed to retire. St. Paul said “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) That means all human beings (including us) are a work of God. And the purpose for which God made us was to do work for Him.

My grandmother was a wonderful example of this — a pattern of life devoted to works of Christian service. She spent her days and years serving her Saviour and His followers by the daily humble labor of kitchen and home. When she was 93 years old, she called me and said, “John, if you’ll come home and see me, I’ll make you some chicken and dressing.” (Her recipe and skill were world-famous.) At Thanksgiving that year, my mother told me my grandmother had indeed made the chicken and dressing herself. In spite of suffering from compression fractures in her spine, my grandmother had done all of the planning and measuring and combining. My mom just had to help with some of the stirring and lifting.

I watched my grandmother work steadily, as much as she was able, until she finally passed away 3 days before her 95th birthday. She always told me, “John, it’s just like the old song says. ‘We’ll work ‘til Jesus comes and then be gathered home.”

So, that’s what we all need to plan to do — to work until Jesus comes. The more I think about it, I’m not sure we’ll even get to “retire” in Heaven because we’ll be happy to serve our God forever. Still, it’s good to know that at least we’ll be able to get a little rest when we get there.

rp_john-l-cash-212x300.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 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 can’t decide if it is Summer or Winter.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

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Devotion in Motion: Enjoy this time

12 ¶ So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.  Psalm 90:12 (KJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Twenty-eight years ago I became a public school teacher. I distinctly remember a conversation I had with my father at that time, as I was extolling the benefits of working in the field of education. “It really has a lot of benefits, Dad. I can retire after only 25 years.”

My father was a man of few words. If he said anything at all, his words would invariably be important, true, or humorous (or some combination of the three.) I’ve always remembered his reply to me: “Boy, you’re going to be amazed. Those years are going to go by quickly.”

clockAs I look back on the past decades, I can tell you with certainty that never have truer words been spoken. The years have passed by in a blur. Over the past 28 years, I’ve gone from being a father with tiny babies to man who is awaiting the birth of his first grand-baby in nine short weeks. And, yes, this week I filled out my retirement papers with the Mississippi Public Educators Retirement System. Where does the time go?

So, this morning, I just want to give a little advice and encouragement to all of you who are still in the process of raising babies, toddlers, school kids, or teenagers. First of all, realize that they are going to grow up fast. You can’t stop time, but you can slow yourself down long enough to be thankful for the blessings of each day as you are raising your family.

As I look back, I don’t have a lot of regrets about this; I believe that (for the most part) I’ve consciously had fun with the blessings I’ve been given as Susan and I have raised our sons together. And I want to encourage you with something I’ve witnessed throughout my lifetime. God is present and faithful every step of the way. There is happiness and blessing available at every stage in our lives—from childhood to old age. You just have to down enough to look for the Lord’s presence and His gifts.

So, take a little more time this week to truly see what God has done for you, and do your best to “live in the moment.” Take time to enjoy your babies and the blessings of these good years—whatever stage of life you’re in.  After all, they’re going to go by quickly.

rp_john-l-cash-212x300.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 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 rain this week is catching us up from the drought.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

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Devotion in Motion: The remedy for a bad mood

6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. (KJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Scientist differ on the exact number, but all agree that a great percentage of your body heat is lost out of the top of your head. (This is particularly true if you happen to be bald. Trust me on this one.) Something I’ve discovered is that if you’re in the house at wintertime and you feel a little chilly, you don’t necessarily have to turn up the furnace; probably all you need to do is to put on a cap.

We keep the parsonage heating system on about 68 degrees. When Seth was in middle school, he complained of being cold one evening. (I must point out that Seth has always had a  great deal less natural “insulation” than I have. Presently he is six feet tall and weighs about 125 pounds.) Just as he was reaching to turn up the thermostat, I made a deal with him. I said, “Seth, put on this Carhartt work cap. It’s the warmest cap I own. I can’t even wear it that often because it’s usually TOO warm. After you put on the cap, we’ll set the timer for 15 minutes. When the bell rings, if you’re still cold, I’ll be happy to turn up the thermostat.”carhartt toboggan hat

He agreed to the deal. He pulled the toboggan over his hair and went back to whatever he’d been doing.

After a little more than 12 minutes, Seth came in the room and handed me the hat. He said, “Dad, here—you can have this. I don’t need this hat anymore. I’m warm — too warm, really.”

Well, we didn’t have to turn up the heat that evening. It’s a good principle to know. Whenever you’re cold, you have a couple of choices. You can turn up the heating system and burn fossil fuel to heat up thousands of square feet of living space. Or you can just put on a cap and heat up yourself.

This principal works in daily life, too. You have two choices if you’re in a cold, dark, mood. You can wait until all the other people in the world are in a good mood, and if and when that happens, they can cheer you up. (I don’t foresee this ever happening, but there are people who spend their whole lives waiting for it.) Or you can put on a “spiritual cap” (by thinking the right kind of thoughts) and this will warm the coldness out of your heart.

The Bible says King David “encouraged himself in the LORD.” I think that means he knew how to put on a “spiritual cap.” David was a warrior; he was always surrounded by enemies and difficulties. But he realized that even when he was surrounded by trouble, he could encourage himself by thinking about the goodness of God.

If winter is making you feel cold, bleak, and blue, put on your own spiritual cap this week. Be like King David, and encourage yourself in the Lord.

rp_john-l-cash-212x300.jpgDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 31 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 was 21 degrees last Sunday and 72 degress this Sunday.) Their kids include Spencer (age 25), his wife Madeline (age 25), and Seth (age 22), and his wife Leanne (age 21). You can send him a note at brotherjohn@ilovechurchcamp.com.

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