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Meditations by John Dean

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How Ugly is Ugly

Meditations By John Dean

(1 Samuel 18:10 Message Bible) The next day an ugly mood was sent by God to afflict Saul, who became quite beside himself, raving. David played his harp, as he usually did at such times. Saul had a spear in his hand. Suddenly Saul threw the spear, thinking, "I'll nail David to the wall." David ducked, and the spear missed. This happened twice.

I am not sure that any of us realize how we appear to others or what they really think of us. I am not even sure that we really want to know what others think of us because we may not be able to handle it. However, there is one thing that I am sure of and that is that we usually justify our actions.

We can usually get a glimpse of the ugliness of our own attitude by looking at the ugliness of someone else’s attitude. We may not think that our attitude is very bad, but in the eyes of others…ugly is ugly.

After going through the security line at the Washington Dulles Airport a few days ago I saw ‘ugly’ at its worst. As soon as a man, his wife and his daughter came through the security line, the man began hollering and screaming at his wife and daughter in front of everyone. I was surprised that the security people did not say something to him…but they did not.

I gathered up my belongings and left as soon as I could because I could not stand being around this man any longer. I went down the escalator and walked a ways to catch the train that would take me to another terminal. While I was standing there, all of a sudden I heard this man coming down the escalator running after his wife and daughter, still screaming at them. He seemed to be oblivious to everyone else. His daughter was so embarrassed that she went and hid behind a column. Everyone in the train tunnel was staring at him and making all kinds of remarks. The man’s wife finally calmed him down enough to get him on the train and they left.

I have seen angry people over the years, but I have never seen anyone quite like this man. After watching him for a while I began to see what an ugly attitude really looks like to others.

There are times when everyone gets a little irritated and shows off their ugly side, but there is a big difference between being irritated and having a ‘spirit of anger’. However, there does seem to be certain boundaries for the one who typically gets irritated. Those boundaries could to be a dirty look or a quiet jab in the side of the one who caused the irritation.

The man at the airport was more than irritated. He had a ‘spirit of anger’ which knows no boundaries. When a ‘spirit of anger’ is on someone they respond almost like a wild animal whose eyes are fixed on a prey…they see nothing else.

I have always tried to learn from experiences such as with the man in the airport. His attitude was so ugly that I began wondering what others think while looking at my reactions to things that irritate me. It is not a matter of us being irritated at times; it is a matter of how we respond to those irritations.

In our text Saul is a classic example of one who has a ‘spirit of anger’ (or maybe even murder) which manifested by trying to kill David. This kind of anger usually tries to cause some level of death in another. That level may not always be taking their life, but it could be attempting to kill their spirit. The apostle Paul says in Ephesians 4:26 “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”

Perhaps all of us should check our ‘ugly attitude barometer’ on a regular basis and seek healing accordingly.

Father,
We desire to be Christ-like even though at times we are not. Lord, help us to deal with things that may be an irritation to us in a Godly way and not with a spirit of anger. Lord, help us to mature and be more sensitive to others while being a better witness for You.
Amen


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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sons of Oil



(Zechariah 4:14 Amplified Bible) Then said he, These are the two sons of oil [Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the prince of Judah, the two anointed ones] who stand before the Lord of the whole earth [as His anointed instruments].

Theologians may differ somewhat on their interpretation of this scripture, but all of them seem to agree that it has to do with the anointing of the Lord. I personally believe that all born again believers are “sons of oil” possessing the anointing and gifting of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in Mathew 5:14 in the Message Bible that “You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.”

Jesus also said in John 8:12 in the Message Bible, “I am the world's Light. No one who follows Me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”

I am not sure that there is a teaching or a theology for ‘generational anointing’, but I do believe there is something to it. There seems to be a spiritual depth in ministers of the third and fourth generation. By saying that, I do not mean to imply that a minister (first generation or fourth generation), is immune to the trials and testings’ of life. What I am saying is that I believe I recognize a spiritual depth when I am around a third or fourth generation minister.

I first began to notice this a few years ago when I was invited to speak in a church in Minnesota. I had never spoken in this church before so I was not familiar with its history. However, as soon as I walked into the front doors of the church I felt a spiritual depth that was overwhelming to me. I immediately began to inquire as to the history of the church and discovered that the pastor was a third generation pastor. Neither the pastor nor any of his people did anything unusual, but it was still ‘different’.

It has been several years since I was in that church…but I still feel the impact of it to this very day.

Over the years I have spoken in many great churches and have also been associated with many powerful men of God, but none had the ‘generational depth’ as this Minnesota church.

Because of my experience in Minnesota I began to pay closer attention to the ‘generational family anointing’. As a result, the Lord has used that to draw my attention to the whole “sons of oil” subject…for which I am eternally grateful.

It appears that most ministers today are first generation ministers. Therefore I am personally committed to working with them and raising up as many spiritual sons and daughters for the Lord as is possible. My motive of course is to hopefully pass on to them (who are the “sons of oil”), some ‘generational anointing’.

Father,
Thank You for calling all of those who are born again through Jesus Christ, “sons of oil”. Help each of us to be carriers of Your precious anointing oil to a needy dying world.
Amen


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Monday, August 15, 2011

Support Your Mayor


(2Kings 10:5 KJV) And he that was over the house, and he that was over the city, the elders also, and the bringers up of the children, sent to Jehu, saying, We are thy servants, and will do all that thou shalt bid us;

It has always been the will of God that we honor those who have authority over us. His will not only speaks of those who have spiritual authority over us, but also those who have civil authority over us. Civil authority means those who hold political positions as a result of a free election where the majority wins.

I do not believe the Lord is suggesting that one has to agree with every detail of every point of every decision that is made by those who have authority over us. I do believe that we are to honor and respect their position as unto the Lord regardless of our disagreement.

For example, supporting one’s city mayor is an honorable thing to do, regardless if you agree with all of their decisions or not. The fact is the responsibility of the mayor of the city can be a weighty job because it entails looking out for the best interest of its citizens. This of course would include the responsibility of seeing that the city has a good fire department and a good police department. The mayor must also see that there is enough money coming in to maintain good streets, and hopefully be able to even attract the arts and other types of entertainment for the benefit of the city.

Attracting new businesses is a must for a mayor if the city is going to provide new jobs for its people and for generating more revenue for running the needs of the city. This means that being a mayor is not for the faint of heart, but for one who is a visionary with a great imagination—as well as having the ability to run big business.

All of the above sounds great, but then I suppose there might be an exception to the rule of honoring those who have authority over you…you decide after reading the following story.

I was just in a little town in Colorado called Guffey. Guffey has a population of less than 100 and like most towns has its own elected official…a mayor. The difference is that Guffey’s mayoral term is only a one year term. The citizens of Guffey believe they should share the responsibility as well as the honor of this high ranking possession with all of its population.

The difference between Guffey’s elected official and most other city’s elected officials is that Guffey does not elect a human being as mayor, but instead elects a cat or a dog. I was told that this has been going on for the past twenty years.

In other words, depending on the outcome of each year’s elections it would not be unusual to see Guffey’s mayor with a rat in its mouth, or chasing and barking at a passing car. As a matter of fact if one looks at Guffey one could quickly see the result of electing such an official.

I realize what was intended to be a joke in the small town of Guffey, Colorado was in no way meant to lessen the truth and the responsibility of honoring those who have authority over us. As a matter of fact my short time in Guffey was a delight, and my experience there will not be soon forgotten.

Father,
Help us to not confuse the fun intended in Guffey with the truth of Your word for our ultimate benefit. Help us to live a lifestyle of honoring Your word so we will honor those in authority over us as well as our fellowman.
Amen

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Monday, August 8, 2011

The Old Train

(Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 KJV) I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

This scripture is very comforting, particularly in light of the fact that so many believe that the Christian life is a boring cheerless life. The fact is...the Christian life is the most joyous life one can possibly have. God wants us to enjoy ourselves in spite of our difficulties, because when we do, we are practicing what we will spend eternity doing.

It is so important to see the roses in life and not just the thorns. I am not suggesting that life does not have an ample supply of ups and downs, but I am suggesting that it is up to us to decide how we are going to view them. If we only focus on the thorns of life then our experiences will reflect that. However, if our focus is on the roses of life then our experiences will reflect that as well.

To change our focus from the thorns of life to the roses of life we could begin by focusing on the simple pleasures of life. We can start by enjoying a beautiful sunset, the innocence of a baby, and a good laugh with a friend or going to bed with a full stomach. These are only a few of the simple pleasures of life that will help redirect our focus.

Growing up as a country boy in East Texas in the 40s and 50s and working hard on the farm taught all of us how to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

As for me...I enjoyed swimming in the creek, eating a fresh watermelon in the patch, riding my horse on a lazy Sunday afternoon or getting together with the families on the adjacent farms and making homemade ice cream.

Before I had a car I particularly enjoyed catching a small passenger train that stopped in our little town. I would ride it twelve miles to another small town that had a movie theater. Seeing a good western movie on a Saturday night was all I needed to spark my very vivid imagination. As I rode home on that little train, lazily bumping its way down the tracks, I would stare out the window into the dark and relive every scene of the movie. The only difference was I imagined myself as the "good guy" in the white hat. I imagined riding my horse better and shooting my gun faster and winning the heart of the girl in the movie quicker.

I realize that these particular things are no longer done, but there are other simple things in life that are just as fulfilling.

I suppose the point I am trying to make is that the circumstances in life should not rob us of our joy, unless we allow it. God wants us to enjoy the fruit of our labor regardless of the difficulties of life.

Father,

Thank you for giving us the mind of Christ which gives us the ability to renew our mind, helps us to choose life rather than death, and joy rather than sorrow. I particularly thank You Lord for teaching me to enjoy many of the simple things of life while riding our little slow moving passenger train that bumped its way down the tracks taking ordinary folks like me home.

Amen

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Remembering Lee Garner

(Ecclesiastes 9:5 KJV) For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

The thought of dying certainly causes one to take another look at living. For one to make a contribution to life while still living is a big enough challenge. For one to think about making a contribution that will continue on after they die is another matter. The majority of people probably do not think about this subject one way or the other. The persons whose contributions live on after they die seem to be the only ones who are remembered.

The thought of living life and not being remembered is a sobering thought. Regardless of how sobering the thought of living, dying and at some point being forgotten by upcoming generations is part of our way of life. There are a few folks who are never forgotten because of their contribution to life; such as an author, composer, inventor, and so on.

Even though many folks are remembered for their contributions in life, there are others who have also made contributions but are not remembered. Such was the case with the young man in the following story.

Last year my son-in-law invited me to go deer hunting with him on his East Texas hunting lease. When I arrived in camp he told me a story of an old abandoned graveyard he had discovered while out hunting. I was so intrigued by his story. The next day he took me to see this old abandoned graveyard.

Over the years trees had taken over this old graveyard so that it did not look any different than the rest of the forest. The graves were covered with dead trees, limbs, leaves, brush and debris.

I was strangely drawn to one particular grave. As I knelt down and began raking the leaves, limbs and debris away from the face of the headstone, I discovered it bore the name of Lee Garner. Lee was born in 1893 and served in World War I as a private.

I followed up with some research, and visited the old graveyard a couple of times after that. I found out that after the Civil War in the eighteen hundreds the entire community had been settled by a group of black pioneers. These black pioneers built their own community, started Mount Reah Baptist Church in 1877, and farmed the land. Apparently they had dedicated this small plot of land for a graveyard.

Lee Garner was born and raised in this community and probably, like everyone else, plowed the fields of the family farm with mules. His father John Garner was one of eight deacons of the Mount Reah Baptist Church and Lee was probably baptized in the local creek.

When Lee was old enough he served in WW I as a private. Lee probably never did anything heroic or invented anything special or even composed a piece of music that would cause people to remember his name. However, for some reason that day while raking leaves and limbs away from his gravestone I decided to write about Lee. I decided to let my readers know that almost a century ago, Lee Garner's life counted (at least for a short time).

For the majority of folks to live, die and after a while be forgotten, is a natural part of life. If others are remembered for their special contributions to life, then Lee Garner can be remembered for his contribution of serving in the military.

I suppose the point of this writing is that all of God's children count and contribute something to life. Some may be praised for their contribution while others are not. Some may be respected and seen as irreplaceable when they die, while others are soon forgotten. The contribution to life from ordinary hardworking folks like Lee is probably better pictured through acts of kindness to his fellowman. This of course is the result of being raised in the good Christian home of his father Deacon John Garner, as well as learning the Golden Rule early on in Sunday School at the Mount Reah Baptist Church.

Father,

Help us to be thankful for the Lee Garners of the world who contribute to life even though they are seldom remembered. Lord, being a sacrificial giver to life was Your idea and You set the pattern for the rest of us to follow. Lord, I choose to follow your lead.

Amen

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