Edited to add note from Gwen: Mamas, we need your help. The day after we received the blog you see below from Brother John, he was admitted to a hospital where he was found to have 100 percent blockage in the “widowmaker” artery of his heart. (This is the same type of blockage that killed TV journalist Tim Russert last year.) Thankfully, his doctor was able to open the blockage with a stint before it caused a major heart attack. But this was a close call, and we’re so thankful it was caught in time. Please offer a prayer of thanksgiving that Brother John is now home and recovering. He will likely be back at the computer in a few weeks, writing the devotions that mean so much to us. And please pray that he will heal quickly and completely. Having known John my entire life, I can tell you that he, like the man he discusses below, is truly “the real deal.” And we need him in the world. God is good. You can send him your “get well” wishes by clicking here: firstname.lastname@example.org. I know that hearing from his readers will be “good for his heart.”
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
If your house caught on fire, what would you grab? (We’re assuming that the rest of the family and the baby pictures are safe.) Susan says that she would grab my anti-snore sleep apnea machine, because she can’t get any sleep when I don’t have it. I would grab the letter I got from Fred Rogers. You know, Mr. Rogers, of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.”
When I was in Bible college, back in the early 1980’s, I once found myself in charge of “Spiritual Emphasis Week”. It was my job to plan activities to revive our spirits and to schedule a special guest speaker. For this task I had a budget of $50. So, here was my thinking: “Let’s see, I need a preacher to come and speak. He needs to be somebody really impressive. I don’t have any money to pay him, so he’ll have to be somebody really nice. Hmm. Mr. Rogers is a Presbyterian minister, and he is famous. And he’s really nice. I think I’ll write him a letter.” So, I did.
Imagine my surprise, when less than a week later, I received two envelopes in the mail. One contained two autographed photographs of Fred Rogers—signed personally to me! The other contained a letter from the man himself—handwritten in his distinctive left-handed slanting script.
What Mr. Rogers wrote in that letter warmed my heart. He regretted that he couldn’t come to Spiritual Emphasis Week, but that if he was ever in the area he would drop by for a visit. (I believe he would have.) He wished me grace and peace in my life—and pointed out that the letter was written on a greeting card with the trolley and all the puppets from the Land of Make Believe. He wrote that he had chosen this card because the cards were new and the office had just gotten them in; he thought I might like one. I did.
The famous people that I have admired have often disappointed me upon closer examination. When you check the facts closely, celebrities are often the complete opposite of the good roles they play on screen. But I have not found that to be so with Mr. Rogers. I’ve read everything I can find about this man as well as everything I’ve found that he has written. My conclusion is that he was the real deal. One interviewer said, “In real life, he’s more Mr. Rogers than ‘Mr. Rogers.’” How surprising in this age in which we live! A man who has the reputation of being kind who actually IS kind!
I have more to say about the importance of the ideas of Fred Rogers, but that will have to keep until another time. Today I just want to point out the power (and great scarcity) of sincerity. As parents, our children sometimes doubt what we say, but they are never mistaken about who we are. So, let us strive to be genuine. That’s not the same as being perfect, because sometimes being genuine means we tell our kids, “Hey, I messed up.” Our job as parents is to try to be “the real deal” and to strive to make sure our “real deal” is something good.
In today’s lesson text (at the top) Jesus said we should let our lights shine so that people will glorify God. Dear Mamas, let’s pray this week that the Lord will fill our hearts with His Light and that the sincerity of our lives will brighten the lives of our babies and all the world around us.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” *Sing that title 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 we try to make every day “A Snappy New Day”—even when it’s hard sometimes). You should write him at email@example.com.