Meditations by John Dean

Monday, May 28, 2012

Yes Sir

(Job 36:11-12 KJV) If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.

Over the years, the subject of “obeying” has fallen significantly in the ranking of important lessons to teach our children. We have also been told that there are no “absolutes” in life...which would imply that there are no guidelines for our children to follow either.

As a result of not having boundaries (or banks to their river), children soon learn to debate their parents on every direction given to them. Eventually that child learns to question all authority.

While sitting in an airport today I noticed a child fighting their parent regarding everything the parent told the child to do. I watched the parent surrender to the child every time after the child threw a “fit.”

For all practical purposes that child had an absentee parent, even though they were there together. The results of such parenting (or lack thereof), will ultimately cause anger, fear and insecurity to take control of that child.

This may sound a little old fashioned, but I believe the term “Yes sir” is as relevant today to teach a child as it was when I was growing up. If one cannot learn to say “Yes sir” or “Yes ma’am” to a parent, they will never learn to say it to God either.

A few days ago, my wife was going to drive an hour away from our home to see our six year old great-niece in her dance recital. My plan was to stay home and rest, because I had just gotten home from Hungary and the Ukraine where I had been ministering for a week...and I was very tired.
As I was leaning back in my chair looking forward to a time of rest I heard the Lord clearly speak to me, “Go to the dance recital.” Because I always try to make a habit of saying “Yes sir” to everything I think I hear God say, I told my wife that I would go with her.

I could not even imagine how uncomfortable I was going to be sitting in a tight-seated school auditorium for an hour and a half surrounded by hundreds of gloating parents and grandparents.

The kids in this dance recital ranged from age three to age twelve. As soon as the curtain was raised I knew immediately why the Lord wanted me to come. Standing there in the middle of this very large stage stood a few tiny little “three year old angels” in their colorful little dance dresses. No longer was my mind thinking about my tired body. It was focused on the special “gift of joy” the Lord had given me that could only be found standing in the middle of the stage.

I was even more overjoyed when my little six year old great-niece came out with her group. I could not take my eyes off her. She was absolutely beautiful and I am quite sure that all of the other hundreds of parents and grandparents could not take their eyes off her either. Her moves were as soft and delicate as that of a butterfly.

While driving back home that day I realized the Lord had just given me a gift to rest my spirit while teaching me that perhaps we take ourselves far too serious. He took the delicate things of life (these sweet little girls) to bring a perspective to the strong things in life.

The question is, “Could I have learned this lesson if I had not first been taught to say ‘Yes sir’ while I was growing up?” I also wonder how many opportunities and blessings I may have missed by not saying “Yes sir” at other times. Perhaps the only real faith is blind obedience. Think about it.

We DO desire to be obedient to You by saying “Yes sir” and not debate with You or question Your perfect wisdom.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Classes of People

(Psalms 119:78 KJV) Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts. 

False pride produces a look of personal ‘god-ship’ which is extremely distasteful. I believe it was the same look that was on Satan’s face when he attempted to promote himself to be equal with God. One would be naïve to believe that somehow Satan’s look of pride vanished somewhere along the way when mankind seems to have inherited every other personality trait of his.

Satan’s ‘proud look’ is easily identified on the faces of the powerful who look down on those they consider to be inferior to themselves. What is even more appalling is when those who were once looked down on now turn and look down on others with the same ‘proud look’.

For some reason the spirit of pride seems to be the nastiest of all of Satan’s personality traits. The result of the ‘proud look’ actually demoralizes others while establishing a class difference at the same time.

This was certainly the case according to what I learned while visiting one of the large beautiful estates in England a few days ago. This large breathtaking home that was built in 1704 once employed twenty-six maids plus numerous gardeners, grounds keepers, stable boys and horse trainers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

This particular home had a tunnel running from the house to the garden area behind a fence so the maids would not be seen going to the garden to get fresh vegetables for the family. As a matter of fact, if a maid was seen on the grounds by a family member or guest she would be immediately dismissed.

Another rule was if a member of the family or a guest came into a room where a maid was cleaning, the maid was to immediately turn and face the wall and stand still until the family member or guest left the room.

The upper class was expected to have a ‘proud look’ and apparently they were more than willing to carry out this assignment. Since there was no middle class in those days—but only the upper and lower classes—the difference between the two was huge.

It has been a long time since the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and even though a middle class of people has been added…the ‘proud look’ still remains.  It is not difficult to see a class difference even among those who are supposed to be of the same class. Having more money, power or education does not necessarily mean a class promotion. I think it is interesting that to further separate ourselves from one another we have even divided the middle class into two groups. We now have the upper middle class and the lower middle class. Wow, what will pride think of next?

I have spent a lifetime studying people and I have come to the conclusion that pride will probably be the last enemy to be defeated. My point in saying this is that all of us should make a practice of taking the lower road, even though the higher road may seem like a more desirable path.

It was You who made man in Your own image. Lord help us to understand that by judging Your image (our fellowman), we are in fact judging You. Help us to see that our brothers and sisters are fearfully and wonderfully made in Your precious image regardless of what they may or may not have.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Biscuits,Gravy & Deer Sausage

(1 Corinthians 13:3 KJV) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Some things seem to be more difficult to explain than other things. This scripture happens to be one of those things that takes some doing to explain. For example, what would motivate one to give all they had to feed the poor, and then offer their body to be burned―if love was not the motivating force?

I can understand why one would give out of their abundance if they were going to receive personal glory for it like the Pharisees did. However, it is difficult for me to understand why a person would give all they had to the poor and become poor themselves without a God-kind of love. Since mankind is basically selfish and self-centered, then how can one actually do what this scripture suggests without love?

Perhaps Paul’s extreme example had nothing to do with what we give, but with who we are. Love is a heart issue and giving is the outworking of that love. This scripture indicates that when one gives out of love they will profit from their benevolence. However, when one is truly giving out of love, they do not think about what they will receive in return, even though the law of God says that they will receive a benefit.

Several years ago my wife and I owned a ranch in South Texas. We would usually go to the ranch and spend a day or so two or three times a month and check on the cattle. Our ranch house was back off the road and set behind a little hill which we loved because it made it very private.

Whenever we were at the ranch on Saturday mornings our tradition was to have biscuits, gravy and deer sausage for breakfast. I realize that for all the dieters and weight watchers that would not have been considered a healthy breakfast, but for the rest of us it was a grand slam.

We had a friend who owned a ranch a couple of miles away. Every time we were at our ranch on a Saturday morning he would always show up for breakfast. He would walk in our front door and say the same thing every time. He would say “Oh, I did not know you were having breakfast.” I would always respond, “Come on in and have breakfast with us.” His response was always, “You should not be eating that kind of food because it is not healthy for you.”

As we were going through our little routine he would be pulling out the chair and setting down at the breakfast table. Without any further ado he would start grabbing the biscuits, gravy and deer sausage and filling his plate.

After breakfast as we were getting up from the table he would always grab the last biscuit and start sopping the remaining gravy out of the bowl before leaving and going back home

As I look back I think I learned something from my friend while he was scarfing down my biscuits, gravy and deer sausage. I learned that giving him my breakfast “profiteth me nothing” because it was not done out of love...he just showed up.

Perhaps this scripture is not as hard to explain as I first thought.

Help us not to be bound by trivial things that can only feed our bodies when a deeper opportunity is at hand to satisfy our spirit. Thank you for these little reminders of our value system. Help us Lord!

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Fetching Cat

(Proverbs 22:6 KJV) Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

This scripture does not suggest that we train our children up in the way they should go…it instructs us to train them up in the way they should go. It also does not suggest that our children may not depart from their training when they are emphatically says they would not depart from their training when they are old.

Over the years I have watched many things vanish that my generation thought were of great value. Among those things were “respect” and “honor.” For all practical purposes it appears that “respect” and “honor” has gone the way of the dinosaur, or at least it is at an all-time low.

There was a time when parents not only believed every word of our text, but they followed it to the letter of the law because they knew what the outcome would be. That being the case, one would have to conclude that the problem with the lack of “honor” and “respect” today is not the result of wayward children, it is the result of wayward parents.

The question is, “When did this begin?” I think I know when this problem surfaced, but I am not sure when this problem actually began. The independent, rebellious, no respect plague that surfaced back in the 60s apparently was the result of the previous generation. This plague was then spread by the lawless, drug infested, free sex, flower child generation of the 60s that was up for the job. This generation has also been accused of starting this spiraling decline of morals and disrespect, but I am not sure they did…they just spread it. However, in spite of what we may think of the 60s generation, it seems that many of them actually turned out fine and are wonderful citizens today.

The problem is not what the 60s crowd actually did at the time. It is more about what they have produced. The generation they produced seems to be hopelessly dishonoring and disrespectful to everyone and everything. The reason for that…the 60s crowd was so free spirited themselves that they failed to teach the principle found in our text to their own children. No child is born with the wisdom of how to do things right…they have to be taught.

Recently, while I was in England I stayed with a couple that had a gray Burmese cat. The cat’s name was Solomon and the owners trained this cat to play fetch like a dog! They would wad a piece of paper into a ball and throw it, and the cat would run, fetch it, and bring it back and drop it at their feet so they could throw it again. They even taught this cat to run up the stairs and get the ball of paper and bring it to the edge of the stairs and drop it on the floor, then push it down the stairs with its foot.

My intention is not to minimize the seriousness of the first part of this Meditation by telling a cat story. Nor am I trying to compare cats to children, I am simply wanting to compare training to no training. The point I am trying to make is this; if one can train a cat to fetch a paper ball then surely we do not actually believe that our children can learn without some measure of training. We may not train them to fetch a paper ball, but we must train them to honor and respect others…by doing so we can be assured of the results.

Help us to “train up our children in the way they should go: so when they are old, they will not depart from it.”

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