Devotion in Motion: “Rotten to the Core”

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”

Before I started school, my favorite television program was Captain Kangaroo. One of the reasons Captain Kangaroo was my favorite was because he showed my favorite cartoon: TOM TERRIFIC. Each day my hero started his daily quest with the following words: “Terrytoons presents: The real great adventures of ME! Tom Terrific! And Mighty Manfred, The Wonder Dog!”

The cartoons in the early 1960’s were so different than the Pixar computer-generated animated epics of today. Tom Terrific was in black-and-white, and he was kind of clumsily drawn. Envision a cartoon drawn with a black Crayola on a piece of newsprint, and you wouldn’t be far off. Tom lived in a tree-house, and his side-kick was a dog named Manfred, who was not excessively smart or ambitious. Tom Terrific had a funnel on his head that he wore as a hat, and it enabled him to change himself into anything he needed to be at the moment.

Tom Terrific had an arch-enemy by the name of “Crabby Appleton.” Crabby Appleton hated fun, and he was happiest when everyone else was unhappy. His motto was, “Rotten to the core.”

My mom was always busy in the kitchen and didn’t spend much time watching Captain Kangaroo. But I suppose she kept one ear tuned to the set because sometimes she would make reference to Tom Terrific in our daily conversations. More accurately, she made reference to Tom’s arch enemy. As in, “John, don’t be a Crabby Appleton.”

Looking back on my early childhood, I was a Crabby Appleton a pretty good percentage of the time. I’m trying to do better, but sometimes I’m still a Crabby Appleton. I suspect you have been one sometimes, too.

Being a Crabby Appleton is an external sign of the inward condition of a person’s heart. In my case, being a Crabby Appleton starts with being crossed-up with one of the people I love the most. Then, because I won’t confess my fault to God, I get crossed-up with the Lord. Soon, I’m crossed-up with everyone I come in contact with. Then, when I retreat to my cave, I’m crossed-up with myself. Others can’t stand to be around me, and I can’t stand to be around myself.

Crabby words (and actions) come out of a crabby heart. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. It’s a heart problem. Not being “rotten TO the core” but feeling “rotten AT the core.” A country preacher friend of mind said that people are just like buckets. It’s easy to see what both are full of – just jostle them and see what comes out.

The key is not to change your outward actions, but to change what’s inside and the rest will follow. So repent of your sins, ask the Lord for forgiveness, and gain a new heart. Then you’ll be able to set things right with others and make some sweetness in this world. For goodness sake, don’t be a Crabby Appleton. Make this week “Tom Terrific!”

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” * Sing that to the tune of “Secret Agent Man.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where he often watches vintage TV programs in black-and-white, much to the dismay of his sons who try to take the remote control). You should drop him a line at