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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, September 26, 2011

Circus Monkey Holiness


(1 Peter 1:16 KJV) Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

As far back as I can remember, the subject of holiness has always caused a debate. The interpretation of holiness varies greatly and in most cases never actually produces holiness.

For example, one group says that holiness was achieved at the cross because all of our sins were nailed to the cross with Jesus...so therefore we are already holy.

Another group believes that the evidence of holiness is the result of a series of stops. In other words, stop watching television, stop going to movies, stop drinking, and stop smoking and stop hanging around with folks that this group considers to be of the world. If one does these things then they believe that this is the evidence of their holiness.

The evidence of holiness to another group has to do with how they dress (particularly how the women dress). The women wear long sleeve dresses with high necks and their hem lines near their ankles. Wearing makeup is an absolute “no, no,” and short hair is totally forbidden. In other words they grow long hair and pile it high on top of their heads. Somehow they believe that these things are the evidence of their holiness.

Over the years I have had good friends in each of these groups. I think I can honestly say that all of their intentions were pure. I commend them for their outward efforts...but true holiness is a much deeper issue.

I do believe that one should have filters on their life—such as dressing modestly—in order to help them walk pure before the Lord. However, none of the above are actual filters for a life of holiness, but only disciplines for an unscriptural religious belief.

While growing up in a small town in East Texas, I had a friend whose mother was one of the most dedicated women to her church that I ever knew. Her sleeves and hem were the longest, her neck line and hair-bun were the highest, but when riled she was more that capable of ‘whooping you like a circus monkey’. This dear saint had no intention of putting up with anyone’s nonsense and everybody knew it.  As a matter of fact when she got through with you, you felt as if you had been beaten with a log chain.

When she was finished teaching you your lesson she was more than willing to pray for you to get the Holy Ghost so you could be holy like her. Of course at this point you were more than willing to agree to anything she asked. Now that was what I call ‘forced holiness’ or ‘circus monkey holiness’. I always made it a point to smile a lot when I was around this dear soul and above all I would never disagree with her.

A couple of years ago I drove through that little East Texas town and noticed that this lady’s little white framed church was now in ruins and lay helplessly on the ground.

I suppose the question still remains…is holiness an action, a look, a free gift from God or a belief? The fact is, the evidence of holiness can be a little of all the above or none of the above. I believe that true holiness is a heart issue and is capped off with a double dose of kindness and love. There is one thing that holiness is not and that is ‘circus monkey religion’ where one is forced to look or act the part, but their heart is not in it.

 Father,
Forgive us for our feeble attempt to walk in true holiness when so many times we fail. Help us Lord to mature in our thinking when trying to renew our minds in order to be more and more like You. Forgive us Lord when we fail in our attempt to be a good testimony for You.
Amen

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Monday, September 19, 2011

How Will We Be Judged


(1Co 11:32) When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

The way one is judged in life by others will probably be a long unresolvable issue. I suppose it depends on the one doing the judging as to the outcome. I am not sure how we will be judged in life by others, but I am sure that when God judges us it is by His mercy. He judges how many times we get up and not how many times we fall.
Many times we are judged by man for our eloquence in presenting God’s Word.  However, eloquence of speech and passion of heart is not necessarily the same thing. The idea of ministry in the first place is that of restoring mankind back to God regardless of one’s eloquence.

When we present the Word of God from our comfortable air conditioned sanctuaries behind a pulpit, that is wonderful…but it costs us little or nothing. On the other hand when we fulfill the great commission with signs and wonders following there is some cost.

There is nothing quite like the first sounds of a new born baby. They are pure and innocent and untainted by a flawed world. The same thing is true when one gives birth to answering a call to the mission field. While in God’s birthing room (the altar) giving birth to a “mission field call” to a foreign land...perhaps the following is what that call sounds like. Particularly if it is shrouded by humility and tears as it comes forth out of the birthing canal and its first sound is…“Yes Lord!” This was the case with Jackie as she penned the words of this poem to the Lord on May 15, 1995. Since that time Jackie has made her home in Arad, Romania.

YES LORD
I heard the call so softly enter first into my heart,
The words bore urgency, but I knew not where to start.
I hid this thing away, keeping it deeply within my soul,
Studying on it when alone, never daring to share.
It grew and grew, then it began to take a shape,
It burned within me, not yet ready for escape.
I planned, I cried, I prayed for this thing only to start!
Lord, please use me I asked of God from deep within my heart!
In reply He spoke “Lonely is the road on which you must travel,
Payment of the price is high, friends will say you’ve lost your way.
To follow this path from this point you may not return,
Many things will I teach you if you really want to learn.”
“Will you pay this price?  Search your heart before you agree!
What answer do you give He asked?”  I said – yes Lord – use me.

The world in general may never know Jackie, but the Lord and the heavenly host know who this wonderful grandmother is because they walk together daily. For one to receive a smile from the Lord concerning their service to Him is worth more than earthly fame.

The question of “How Will We Be Judged?” is a question that will no doubt be answered differently by God than by man. God always judges by purpose and heart, whereas man tends to judge by human reasoning.
  
Father,
Help us to not judge others by how well they may or may not do things. On the other hand, help us to recognize and be quick to compliment others by the purity of their motives and the selflessness of their deeds. Thank you, Lord for the ‘Jackies’ of this world that are living examples for the rest of us.
Amen

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Laughter



(Psalm 126:2 KJV) Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue
with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great
things for them.

Many folks today believe that once they become a Christian the fun things of life are over for them. They somehow associate laughing and enjoying themselves with the flesh and that they are only unholy expressions of an unredeemed world. There is no doubt that in some cases the motivation for this type of thinking is based on a desire to live a holy life. However, solemnness has never produced holiness.

The fact is, the Lord desires for His children to enjoy themselves the same way that a parent wants their children to enjoy themselves. As a matter of fact, laughing is not only good for one’s health, but laughter is a gift from God.

The interesting thing is that many people today do not even know how to laugh. I remember that I was almost grown before I laughed for the first time. I would smile and sometimes even giggle a little, but I had to learn how to laugh. When I began learning how to laugh I felt awkward.

I soon learned that there was an association between laughing and living a healthier life. I not only began enjoying life a lot more, but I starting seeing a change in my confidence as well. Wow! That is good stuff.

I also began noticing how people would do all sorts of things to entertain themselves. I must admit that I probably judged most of those things as being completely ridiculous and certainly childlike to say the least. However, over the years I have learned that even though some of those things may have appeared a little childlike, it was certainly a lot better than being a cheerless young man as I was at the time.

Speaking of fun, while recently in Guffey, Colorado, one of the first questions I was asked when arriving there was had I ever seen a “chicken-fly” contest? I responded by asking, “What in the world is a ‘chicken-fly’ contest?” With that response, all of the locals turned and looked at me as if I had just arrived from Mars. With stunned faces someone responded to me by saying, “You are kidding, the whole world knows about Guffey’s ‘chicken-fly’ contest.”

At that point I felt as if I had not only been living a sheltered life, but that I had apparently missed all the good things that life had to offer. After everyone got over the shock of my ignorance of not knowing what a “chicken-fly” contest was, they  explained it in great detail.

The idea was that once a year folks would come from miles around bringing their favorite chicken with them. They would then take their chicken and climb up a ladder—that looked to be about seven or eight feet high—to a small platform that looked to be about four feet square. The platform had a railing around it for safety and it also had a post in front of the platform with a mail box attached to it that was facing out. The back end of the mail box had been taken off but the lid on the front had been left on.

The idea was that the contestant would put their chicken in the open end of the mail box and a man running this whole show would open the lid on the other end of the mail box at the right time. A kid with a plunger would then start poking the chicken out the other end of the box. The chicken that flew the longest distance before it hit the ground would win the contest. The coveted prize for winning the contest was a trophy with a chicken on top.

The first thing I thought of was that the person who thought up this “chicken-fly” contest thing apparently had way to much free time on their hands.

The point of the “chicken-fly” contest story is that it brings people together for fun and fellowship...people that may never have gotten together otherwise.

Father,

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Will Heaven be Boring

(John 14:1-4 KJV) “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

Over the years I have actually heard a couple of well-meaning preachers say, “I cannot think of anything more boring than to be in heaven if there is nothing to do. If that is the way heaven is then I am not sure that I even want to go there.” When I got over the shock of hearing such a statement I thought…you apparently have no understanding of your other choice.

I am not sure of what we will all be doing in heaven, but I am sure of one thing and that is we will not be bored. The word bored and the word heaven should never be mentioned in the same breath. I cannot imagine being bored while spending eternity with the One who gave His life to make heaven a reality for us in the first place. As a matter of fact I am not sure how the thought of being bored in heaven could ever enter the mind of any born again believer, much less a minister of the gospel.

Our text says that heaven will be ready. There will be no loitering outside the gates waiting to gain entrance. Everything there will be ready. There will be no lack, no longing and no leaving. Once inside those gates of pearl every longing and void in one’s heart will be fulfilled.

There will be no lack of fruit on the tree of life. There will be plenty of leaves shed from it branches for the healing of the nations. There will be no lack of water as it cascades from beneath the white throne of Almighty God. There will be no lack of room along the glassy sea co-mingled with fire.

We will also join in with that angelic choir singing an anthem to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Lamb that takes away the sin from the hearts of wicked men.

There will be nothing wanting in that beautiful land that we call heaven. In other words heaven will be ready.

Heaven will also be resplendent. I have traveled all over the world and have had the privilege of seeing the beauty of nature in many parts of the world.

I have seen the snowcapped mountains of Switzerland and the mighty Niagara Falls of New York. I have seen flowers in the spring in England and I have heard the rustle of thousands of Aspen trees in the mountains of Colorado. I have seen the breathtaking sunsets over the bay in the Philippines and seen a forest totally white as a result of the beautiful dogwood blooms in deep East Texas. I have seen the beauty of wild flowers that blanket the Texas highways in June and I have seen the amazing wildlife on the plains of Africa.

But the greatest beauty of all will be inside that city that is not made with hands.

Heaven will be resplendent and beyond anything that anyone has ever known.

I have watched many a blushing bride come down the aisle in all of her beauty and glory with a blush on her cheeks as she meets the man of her choice at a marriage alter. I have pronounced them man and wife and then watched her walk away ready to build a new home with the young man that wooed and won her heart.

Just wait until the trumpet sounds reveille and the bivouac of the dead and the redeemed saints of all ages stream to meet the Lord in the sky. The Marriage supper will be spread out and the Lord Jesus Christ will be our everlasting Bridegroom. Is heaven going to be boring?…I do not think so!

The point of this Meditation is to encourage everyone that earthly type thinking (such as being bored) is not the same type of thinking one will have in eternity. In eternity one will fully have the mind of Christ. They will not be thinking selfishly of themselves, which is what the thought of being bored is. They will be thinking ‘God thoughts’.

Father,

Thank you for giving us glimpses of heaven and an idea of what spending eternity with You will be like. Lord, I may not understand all of the controversy of the end times, but one thing I do know is that You have prepared a place for us and it is beautiful and exciting.

Amen

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