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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rodeo Clown


(1John 3:16 KJV) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down
his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Every time I read this scripture something happens on the inside of me that I cannot explain. Perhaps it is because it is impossible for the natural mind to understand this kind of love. For example, we may know that the Lord loves us but we do not understand why.

It is more natural for us to associate being loved as a response to something good we did, rather than getting it for free. Our conscience is appeased when we feel that we earned it and therefore we have a right to it. We simply do not know how to act concerning the love in our text.

I have come to the conclusion that there are different levels of love and there may be little or no association between each of them. There is a neighborly kind of love, but you may not want your neighbor to borrow your car. There is a sibling kind of love, but there could be a little jealously or competitiveness between you that could alter things. Then there is the instinctive protective kind of love that is in our text.

This kind of love is impossible to explain because it is instinctive. However, not everything that is instinctive is love, but that which is, is a mystery.

I got up yesterday morning and put on my hat, boots and jeans and headed out to our annual livestock and rodeo show. This show was billed as the biggest bull riding contest ever, with a purse of $100,000 for the winner. As a matter of fact it was billed as “Extreme Bull Riding.”

Bull riders are usually young men of smaller stature, but with more courage per square inch than those in most any other sport. I sat there all afternoon and watched these young men being thrown all over the place like rag dolls as they tried to stay on their bull for eight l-o-n-g seconds.

After a while I began noticing one particular clown that was incredible. An angry bull had just thrown its rider off and it wheeled around to charge the rider on the ground...who was only about three feet away. This one particular clown instinctively dove on top of the fallen bull rider in order to protect him from this angry sixteen hundred pound charging bull. At the same time another clown was in the face of the bull—which distracted the bull to focus on him. All of this took place in less than a second because it was all instinctive.

I sat there the rest of the afternoon and watched this particular clown repeat this same act of bravery on multiple occasions. I came to the conclusion that it takes a lot more courage to be this kind of a clown than it does to be the bull rider. It would be impossible for this clown to do what he did if it were not for his instinctiveness.

While watching the clown I began to understand our text a little deeper and the God level of love that is instinctive as communicated to us in our text.

Father,
Increase our God instincts and make us more like You in word, thought and deed. Help up not to yield to our natural instincts of selfishness and self-preservation, but to yield only to the deeper instincts of Your character.
Amen

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Dump People


(James 2:1-4 ASV)  My brethren, hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus
Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come into
your synagogue a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, and there
come in also a poor man in vile clothing; and ye have regard to him that
weareth the fine clothing, and say, Sit thou here in a good place; and ye
say to the poor man, Stand thou there, or sit under my footstool; Do
ye not make distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil
thoughts?

I have noticed over the years that mankind seems to have a natural inclination
to categorize people and treat each group differently. If one appears to be
less educated, have less money or have less influence or even dresses poorly
they are somehow considered to be less of a person.

By stretching my imagination I suppose I can understand how a worldly
minded thinker can rationalize such a judgmental appraisal of others. After all,
the basis for such thinking is selfishness, which always causes one to look
for an opportunity to climb the ladder higher than the other person—in order
to appear to be more important. We see the pattern for such behavior in the
Bible when Lucifer as an archangel wanted to exalt himself to be equal
with God.

Even though mankind has been practicing this sin from the beginning of time,
I am appalled that it has infiltrated the church in the depth that it has. There
are thousands of people who feel ostracized by the church because they are
poor or do not measure up in a way that they feel comfortable in attending
church.

Most church leaders and parishioners have an idea as to how one should
look and act if they are to attend their services. If an attendee falls short
of those principles, they could be asked to leave the church or they could
even be shunned to the point of embarrassment...which would result in
them leaving the church.

I was in Romania last week meeting with some other pastors when one
of them told me her story. Fifteen years ago the Holy Spirit moved on this
little grandmother and told her to leave her home in California, her
friends, her family and all security and go to the mission field of Romania
and live by faith. After much weeping and waiting before the Lord, she
did as Abraham and left all to follow the calling of the Lord.

Upon arriving she did as all faithful people do…she started attending a
progressive church while seeking God as to why He brought her there.
While driving back and forth to church she noticed a large dump sight
where families lived, and how much of their provision came from other
people’s trash. Her heart was moved with compassion, so she tried to
go in, but was forbidden because she would be putting herself in danger.

She convinced those forbidding her to go in, that all she wanted to do was
to bring in food for the families. She was finally allowed to enter the dump
area in the daylight, but was forbidden to go in after dark.

She would buy food and take it in to the “dump people” while telling
them about Jesus. As they came to accept Christ as their Savior, she
would take them to her progressive church so they could sit under the
Word of God. However, it was not long before she was told not to bring
those people back to their church any more, and if she was going to work
with this type of people, then she needed to start her own church. As a result
of that rejection, she now understood why the Lord had sent her to Romania.

She was faithful in her new ministry of feeding the people and meeting
all the other needs she could. One day she bought a box of new Bibles
and handed them out, but they gave them back to her because no one
could read. As a result of that she started a school to teach the people how
to read.

For the last fifteen years this grandmother has successfully raised up from
man’s dump many sons and daughters and placed them into the spiritual
riches of the kingdom of heaven.
As Joseph was rejected and sold into slavery by his brothers, each uncomfortable experience for him proved to take him a step closer to his destiny. Even though this grandmother experienced the injustice that was shown in our text, it propelled her into her ministry.


Father,
Lord help us to see your plan and purpose in what appears to be the unjust treatment of others. You knew the beginning from the end when you called my little grandmother friend to leave her friends, her family, and all the comforts of life to go and minister to the “dump people” in Romania. Help us Lord.
Amen

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fleas in the Barn


(Luke 10:19 KJV) Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

This scripture has been so encouraging to me over the years because it
reminds me that I have the power to face any difficult situation. Jesus made this promise a reality for us when He was resurrected from the dead. The thought of having such power and authority also reminds me that we are no longer natural beings with a spiritual body. When we accepted Christ as Savior we become a spiritual being with a natural body. That means we can operate in the same power and authority that Jesus operated in.

The principle in our text is that our natural enemies are nothing more
than something under our feet...when we walk in the anointing as Jesus did.
As one can see in the following story it is easy to identify those who
are standing on this promise of God—according to our text—and those who
are not.

Many years ago it was a common practice for men who lived in rural areas (particularly in southern states) to go out into the woods and pray on special occasions, such as when their church was holding a revival. Sometimes the woods were full of men walking around, praying for God to send the fire of revival and save the souls of their loved ones.

It has been many years since this particular experience and I do not remember the specifics of the occasion, but I got together to pray with two of my neighbors from adjacent farms. Their names were T.A and Harold. T.A lived between Harold and I, so we decided to go to his house and pray in his barn, rather than going out in the woods, which was customary for us.

T.A and I were apparently standing on the promise of our text where it said,
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

Harold on the other hand was apparently not standing on the promise of our text and therefore the fleas in T.A’s barn were eating him alive. The fleas never bothered T.A and me.

I guess the point of this story is to never pray in another man’s barn unless you have the power to tread on his fleas.

The fact is, life is full of “fleas” (things that will attack our flesh, mind, will and emotions), and that is why the Lord has given us the power and authority over such things. In my seventy seven years of life I have never seen a time when more people were being attacked by the fleas of life (sickness and disease) than they are right now. The purpose of our text is to encourage us that God has already made a way for us through these attacks.

Father,
Thank You for making a way for us to get through life before we even knew we needed a way. As the disciples said, “...we believe but help our unbelief...” as we learn to fully walk in Your power Lord.
Amen

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Monday, February 6, 2012

The Enemy Lying in Wait



(Acts 23:16 KJV) And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. 

While looking back over the years, I have come to the conclusion that life is a series of snares that have been set to entrap believers. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, Satan has been setting traps to capture the mind, will and emotions of mankind. One of the ways that Satan effectively does this is by invading one’s emotions and killing one’s dreams. Killing one’s dreams is even more effective than killing their body.

Regardless of Satan’s tactics he is always lying in wait to strike and kill us…or at least something about us to render us helpless.

I am reminded about the time my wife and I were riding down a dirt road on our ranch, and I noticed something large lying across the road ahead of us. At first I thought it was a post, but when I drove closer we saw that it was a very large rattlesnake.

As we drove closer it crawled across the road, under a fence, and into an armadillo hole. This turned out to be the largest rattlesnake I had ever seen. I jumped out of the truck and grabbed an ax to kill it. The snake was so big that when it coiled up in the armadillo hole it completely filled it.

I took my ax and moved over to one side of the hole so I could chop down on the snake without having it strike at me. However, when I would chop down from the side, the snake seemed to understand the difference between the ax that would eventually kill it and my hand on the ax. Therefore it would try to run up the handle of the ax to get to my hand. I finally killed the snake...which happened to be  five and a half feet long.

I am aware that snakes have instinct and not intelligence, but as I looked into the eyes of this particular snake it seemed to have a lot more than instinct.

That day I became even more aware that the snake in the Garden of Eden (Satan) is still lying in wait to strike at each of us. His intention is to steal, kill and destroy us, which is what we must do to him and his works. Even though Jesus defeated Satan (the snake) at the cross, in order for us to walk in that victory we still must defeat him daily regardless of what hole he may crawl into.

The second lesson I learned was that the snake’s eyes were not fixed on the ax that would destroy it, but on my hand that was holding the ax. It would wait until my hand was extended the closest to him with the ax, and then he would try to run up the ax handle to bite me. In other words he knew he was defeated (like Satan knows), but he wanted to bite and poison me in the process.

As Paul’s nephew was alert in our text to the dangers that awaited Paul, we too must be alert to the dangers that await us and our loved ones. This is one reason why we preach the Word of God to warn folks of the wrath to come.

Father,
Help us to be as aware of the enemy (the snakes) that lays in wait to destroy us as Paul’s nephew was aware of his enemy. Thank You Lord for giving us life and that more abundantly, as we choose to walk in that abundant life by being alert to the traps that Satan has set to destroy us.
Amen

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