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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, November 28, 2011

Remembering The Past


(Exodus 13:3 ASV) And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand Jehovah brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.

Remembering the past seems to fall into one of three categories. The first category has to do with those whose present is an extension of their past and they enjoy both. These folks are probably the happiest of all the categories because they realize their past (as difficult as some of their pasts may have been), was a character builder for the person they are today.

The second category has to do with those who do not want to remember their past at all (good or bad), but want to move on into what they believe to be a new season. However, when one wants to forget their entire past they are also prone to forget how God delivered them. Therefore they tend not to fully enjoy their present blessings because they always want to move on.

The third category is those who are stuck in the past and they can be easily identified by their hair style or the way they dress. This is particularly true with women who have the same hair style they did when they were young or at their most popular age. Without realizing it, they are trying to recapture their glory days even though they have become much older. There is nothing more distasteful than an old woman trying to look like a young girl, or an old man trying to look like a teenage boy. What may have been joy and freedom at that time in their life has now become bondage. It is fine for one to look back and enjoy their past experiences as long as they are moving forward into their future.

There are many experiences in my own memory bank that I cherish, but I would never want to go back and repeat any of them. Such was the case in the following story which could have been a modern day version of what Moses was talking about. 

And Moses said unto the people, “Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage...” (Exodus 13:3 ASV).
In the late 1930s and early 1940s many farm families still did some things much like the pioneers had done 50 or 60 years earlier when they were moving westward in wagon trains. One of those things—many of the women in the country still washed their clothes in a big iron wash pot over an open fire. My mother was one of those women.

My job on wash day was to pump water out of the well and fill the wash pot. I would then gather wood and build a fire under the pot in order to make the water boil. When the water was boiling, my mother would put our clothes in the pot with lye soap and stir them with a long stick until she felt they were clean. She would then put the clothes in pans of cold water and we would rinse the lye soap out and hang them on the clothes line to dry in the sun.

To some folks, the thought of washing one’s clothes in a wash pot or reading by an oil lamp or growing one’s own food may seem exciting and adventurous. However, that was not the case at all, because the moment we learned there was a better way the “glamor” of the past quickly vanished. There is nothing quite as sweet as the taste of a better way.

To get the full meaning of what Moses was trying to say, one has to highlight these three important words of our text…remember, bondage and deliverance.

“And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand Jehovah brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten” (Exodus 13:3 ASV).

It is very important to remember where you came from as long as you do not try to relive it. If one is not careful, yesterday’s life could be today’s bondage. The idea is to remember, rejoice and then move on. 

Father,
I thank You for using our past experiences as building blocks for our character. I also thank You Lord for showing us that there is a better way.
Amen

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Dreamers


(Genesis 37:19, 20 KJV) And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

Dreamers are usually inspiring because they have the ability to open one’s mind into the realm of what appears to be the impossible. However, the purpose of such ability should be that of moving one from the dreaming realm into the realm of reality. As a matter of fact most worthwhile realities were actually incubated in someone’s dreaming realm.

For some reason the dreamer not only has the ability to inspire, but he also has the ability to antagonize the non-dreamer, as was the case in our text.

All of Joseph’s brothers were hard working men, but none were dreamers. Joseph on the other hand did not seem to like to work hard, but he was a dreamer. Joseph’s dream was antagonizing enough to his brothers, but when he flaunted what he thought the interpretation was, that was the last straw. Joseph’s attitude is what led to the comments in our text. The brothers had had it with Joseph and figured enough is enough.

One either appreciates dreamers are they do not.

Dreamers seem to fall into three different categories. The first category is the prophetic dreamer...which is what Joseph was. His dreams spoke of the future of Israel. Joseph’s brothers on the other hand were incapable of dreaming of the future because they were more interested in the here and now. In other words, where could they find enough grass for their sheep?

The second type of dreamer is an inventor type of dreamer. Inventor type dreamers usually fall into two categories. The first category is the one who is not only capable of dreaming great ideas, but is also capable of bringing them to conclusion. This is what I call a productive dreamer. I believe we need more of them.

The second category of inventors is only capable of dreaming dreams, but is not capable of bringing them to a completion. They are great at starting things, but soon they are distracted by something different or better so they never finish anything. This dreamer lives in a world of their own creation. They have conversations that never happened, and they have victories that never happened...therefore much of their world is an imaginary world and in most cases they are not even aware of it.

The third type of dreamer is the businessman type of dreamer. His dreams have to do with strategies and tactical moves to combat the obstacles that would hinder him from fulfilling his vision in the time allotted. The fact is, all serious dreamers should have a timeline of bringing their dream into a reality.

My brother-in-law, Bob Jenkins, and I were  dreamers. Our dreams may have gone in two different directions, but we always got around to doing a little dreaming every time we got together.

One of the most memorable places for our dreaming was on the back side of his ranch by a secluded pond. We would drive there to check out the water level in the pond for the animals, and usually stayed longer than anticipated. We would always lose ourselves in the deep conversation of dreaming while standing and looking at the pond. It was not long before we would be sitting on the ground and talking and looking at the pond. Without realizing it, we always seemed to end up lying back in the tall grass with our hands behind our heads and our legs crossed, looking at the sky dreaming our big dreams.

Some of those dreams actually became a reality whereas others were dreams of the goodness of the Lord. After a while we would get up and dust ourselves off and head back to his big ranch house. We would be filled with hope and a direction for making our dreams a reality.

Bob and I could communicate because we were both dreamers whereas Joseph and his brothers were not. It is very difficult for dreamers and non-dreamers to connect on ideas. In Joseph’s case the only way his brothers (the non-dreamers) could handle him was to kill him or get rid of him. Many follow this same pattern today.

Father,
I thank You for the ability to dream. I pray that You will not only help us dream, but also help us to bring our dreams into reality through Your directions. Father I also ask You to open the mind of the non-dreamer to the wonderful realm of the impossible.
Amen

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Broken Promises


(Luke 24:49 KJV) And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. 

From the beginning of time Satan has attempted to manipulate the minds of men by getting them to question God. He started by planting the seed of doubt and unbelief in Adam and Eve concerning their rights in the Garden of Eden. Satan’s plan worked so well that he is now using mankind in general as his mouthpiece for doubt, fear and unbelief.

Because of Satan’s success in the Garden of Eden, he is now using unsuspecting parents to do his dirty work by making and breaking promises to their children. As innocent as that may seem, it is probably one of the single greatest tools that Satan has for training many children to doubt God when they grow up. As a result of the “broken promise” issue they have a hard time fully trusting God because they could not fully trust their parents.

There is no doubt that at some time or another most parents have made promises to their children that they did not or could not fulfill. The fact is, children are incapable of reasoning why promises are not kept. They only know they were not.

I suppose most adults can easily remember a promise that was broken when they were children...even though they may laugh and make light of it today. The fact that they remember them at all could mean that they are still having an effect on them.

The problem is that innocent unsuspecting parents never realized that they were actually training their children to question God later on as adults. The more promises the parents broke, the deeper the mistrust the child could have in believing in God’s promises.

I know a man who is a decent, loyal man in the natural, but for some reason has lost his way spiritually. In his younger years he was faithful to the Lord and even taught Sunday school, but now he does not trust God at all. His argument...if God really loves, then why would He allow children to suffer. That kind of reasoning does not come from the mind of an adult, but from the wounded heart of a child.

Strangely enough, his problem has nothing to do with whether he loved his parents or whether they loved him. It had to do with broken promises that eventually caused him to question and mistrust God, because he could not bear to place any blame on loving parents.

Can a problem like this be healed? Yes, one can be healed of such a problem without the sacrifice of either his parents or God. This healing can be accomplished with a good Christian counselor.

In our text Jesus set a three step procedure for receiving the promise of the power. Even though I have read this scripture many times over the years, I am not sure I really focused on the procedure part. When we do not follow the steps of this procedure, then frustration and doubt could set in.

The first step in our text is the promise, which builds one’s faith. The second step is waiting. which develops one’s patience. The third step is the fulfillment, which helps teach one responsibility.

A child develops much of its security from being taught the three steps in our text. However, if for some reason there is a break down in this three step procedure and the child learns that the promise does not produce the reward, then it could have an effect on that child for the rest of their life.

This was the case with the man I used in my example. Neither his parents, nor any other loving parent would ever purposely do or say anything that would cause any kind of ill effects on their child. My point is this…as parents, we should use God as our example for fulfilling promises and not be caught off guard and fall into Satan’s trap.

Father,
Help us all to be men and women of truth. Help us to do what we say and not be caught unaware and give any room to Satan. Our desire is to be good parents and good examples for our children so they can see a clearer picture of You and trust You.
Amen

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Party Line


(Nehemiah 2:20 Message Bible) I shot back, "The God-of-Heaven will make sure we succeed. We're his servants and we're going to work, rebuilding. You can keep your nose out of it. You get no say in this, Jerusalem is none of your business.

I am not sure why folks find prying into other folks affairs so interesting, but they do.

Perhaps the main purpose could be like those in our text who were trying to find reasons to scoff and threaten. Nehemiah was bold and spoke candidly to those who were sticking their noses into his business...by telling them to keep their noses out of his business.

In the late 1940s the telephone became very popular and convenient for those who lived in rural areas or on farms. At that time there were many small independent telephone companies who were owned by individuals. These small companies began running phone lines into the farming areas in order to meet the needs of the farmers, while building their customer base.

We were privileged to have enough folks living on our dirt road to warrant the telephone company’s investment in a phone line for our community. Our excitement grew to an all-time high just thinking about being able to actually talk to our neighbors without having to leave the house. Wow! What will they think of next?

Our community was on a party-line, which meant that everyone knew when the other person got a phone call. When the phone rang everyone on the party-line heard it at the same time. The thing that distinguished whose call it was depended on the length of the rings.

All of our phones were big wooden wall mounted phones with a handle on the right side for turning. If someone wanted to call our number they would have to turn the handle two shorts turns and one long turn. Instead of knowing each other’s phone number as we do today, we knew how many long and short rings for each of our neighbor’s phones.

The party line seemed to be the soap opera of the late 1940s and early 1950s. When someone got a call, every busybody on the party line would pick up the phone to listen. As a matter of fact, after a while we learned how to identify the nosey intruder by the sound of their receiver when they picked up the phone.

The family that I was living with at the time was always getting business calls. The man of the house was commonly known by everyone as Uncle Leon. When Uncle Leon got a business call it wasn’t long before I could hear him shout, “Get off the line Gladys.”

Gladys had to be the most resilient person that I know, because she continued trying to find ways to listen in on the party line without being caught. Gladys was never successful with Uncle Leon, but she was with me. I loved to let her listen in on my conversations just to give her something to do. That may have been a little mischievous on my part, but after all, I was only a teenager who happened to love little old women and was always willing to give them all the grace and space they needed.

Perhaps the real question we have to answer is this. Was there a difference in what the men were trying to do to Nehemiah and what Gladys was doing on the party line? If it was the same, then should the judgment be the same? If it was not the same then what was the difference? Should there be a different penalty for the men because of their attitude toward the things of God, or should Gladys receive the same penalty for just being a little old woman who was nosey?
Is it right for one to put their nose in another person’s business? No, it is not right under any circumstance, but should motive be a consideration in the penalty? You decide.

Father,
Help us to know how to judge between good and evil and particularly those who we are to give mercy to. We want to learn how to respond to these types of situations in the right way. We understand that there are those who intend to do us harm by sticking their nose into our business whereas others do not intend to do us harm. Help us to know the difference and respond accordingly.
Amen


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