Meditations by John Dean

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Favorite Child

(Geneses 37:3 KJV) Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. 

When one knows they are a favorite child it seems to give them an unusual amount of self-confidence. This was certainly true with Joseph because he not only knew he was his father’s favorite child, but so did the rest of the family.

Joseph’s brothers found such favoritism hard enough to tolerate, but when his arrogant spirit was thrown into the mix…it was almost unbearable. While his brothers were off working hard and caring for the family business, Joseph was at home wearing his coat of many colors and dreaming of his brothers bowing down to him.

I am not suggesting that every favorite child is arrogant or spoiled, but I am suggesting that every favorite child does seem to have an unusual amount of self-confidence. If this is true, then it would behoove every parent to make sure that each of their children feels they are the favorite child. Without such assurance a child could very easily go through life lacking in self-confidence...which is the basis for failure.

I have personally gone from one extreme to the other on the “security and self-confidence” issue. I was very insecure as a child and did not feel there was any reason for others to like me because I did not like myself. From the time I was very little I was repeatedly told by my drunken step-father that I was no good and would never amount to anything…and I believed it.

However, in spite of my insurmountable insecurity I would always risk doing things that I was totally unqualified to do. As a matter of fact I even went out on my own as a bashful twelve year old kid...and I never returned home.

As I look back on those days I have no idea how a kid as insecure and rejected as I was would have the gumption to risk everything…every time...on what he believes to be right. Perhaps those experiences were a setup for my future just as Joseph’s experiences in the well and the jail were also a set up for his future.

The thought of being a favorite child was not on my radar screen at all until a few years ago when it just happened. I am not exactly sure what happened, but one day I suddenly realized that I was my heavenly Father’s favorite child. This experience was not a figment of my imagination any more than Joseph’s experience of becoming “prime minister” was a figment of his imagination. This experience was real and it was supernatural and I still cannot explain it.

It was not until years later when many people were looking to me as their spiritual father that I began to realize that my life had been transformed by God. I had become what I had never seen or experienced...a favorite child…and so can each one of you through Jesus Christ. When we accept Jesus as Savior we are no longer bound by the words and actions of others, but we are taken into heavenly places with Him.

I thank You for taking us past the natural into the supernatural. I also thank You that through Jesus all of us are your favorite children, regardless of our natural environment.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Weaker Vessel

(1 Peter 3:7 KJV) Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. 

I realize in writing this Meditation that some women may only read the “weaker vessel” part of this scripture and be offended by it. I also realize that some men may only ready the “weaker vessel” part of this scripture and feel it gives them license to control or abuse their wife. Both of these are extreme thinking and have absolutely nothing at all to do with the beautiful truth of this scripture. As a matter of fact both extremes are usually the results of previous wounds.

One of the main points of this scripture is to show that unhindered prayers are the result of honoring one’s wife. That being the case, then it would behoove us to first determine what real honoring looks like and is it the same for every couple.

Even though there are similarities in showing honor…my wife may consider being honored different than what another man’s wife would consider being honored. I have come to the conclusion that only the woman herself really knows when she feels honored. The fact is what may be considered showing honor and love to a fragile woman would stir up wrath in a strong secure woman because she feels she is being patronized.

One woman may feel honored when her husband does things around the house such as washing the dishes, cleaning the house and doing the laundry. These are certainly admirable things to do and I would not discourage doing any of them, but I think Peter had something much deeper in mind when he wrote our text.

After many years of working with people I have come to the conclusion that there is no set law as to how to show honor.
I have also come to the conclusion that the average woman carries a bigger load in life than the average man. This could be because of personal gifting, or because they are married to weak “leaderless type husbands.”

Being a husband and a father of three daughters makes me a natural protector. This is one of the ways (certainly not the only way) that I show honor. There are certain things that a protector sees in others that make him want to react, even when it is not his right to react.

I was sitting in an airport the other day and I saw something that made the father part of me want to respond. I saw a young mother coming down the corridor with a baby in one arm and a large bag on the other arm, pushing a baby buggy filled with other bags, as well as having another little child walking by her side. She looked like a pack mule following her husband who was only carrying the tickets.

My mind immediately went back to a few years earlier when they stood at a marriage altar together repeating their wedding vows to each other. As a blushing bride, she would never look more radiant than at that very moment on her wedding day. There is nothing more precious for a bride than to hear the man of her choice show his love to her by making his wedding vows to her.

Now, a few years later the same man who made those “forever” vows to his bride is dishonoring her by making her a pack mule in front of the whole world. What happened?

Apparently Peter was aware of this problem in the family even in his day, and thought it necessary to show the relationship between showing honor and getting ones prayers answered.

Help us to look for ways to show love and honor to our mates and not to take each other for granted. I realize that love gives us liberty to relax around each other, but help us not to take that liberty and show dishonor.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

The Obituary

(Proverbs 16:8 Message) Far better to be right and poor than to be wrong and rich

This scripture is not saying that there is something wrong with being rich or something right with being poor. This scripture is talking about one’s righteousness and not about their possessions. The fact is possessions have nothing to do with one’s righteousness. It is sin, not possessions that allure one off course.

I have spent a lifetime studying the moves, moods, and habits of others trying to discover their core differences. I have come to the conclusion that the only differences in people are their created differences which are pride, education, persuasiveness, or money.

It appears that from the time man is born he tries to be higher and better than everyone else. To strengthen his grasp for power and stardom he joins others who think and act just like him. Sectarianism is the bread that feeds this ideology as he attempts to establish the fact that he really is different and better than others.

While reading the obituaries in the newspaper the other day, I noticed that there was no distinction between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” They were all mixed together on the same page. The powerful were next to the weak. The rich were next to the poor. The doctor was next to the carpenter. The truck driver was next to the little girl. A politician was next to a grandmother.

After reading this obituary I leaned back in my chair and pondered this whole matter for a while. I thought about all the funerals that I had either officiated or attended over the years. It seemed that the attendance at the funerals of the powerful or popular were huge whereas the attendance of the poor or lowly were sparse.

The fact is the attendance at one’s funeral does not determine one’s righteousness any more than being rich or poor determines one’s righteousness.

Even though there may not be any core difference in people…God has created each one to be uniquely different. Whereas one person may use his uniqueness for his own selfish purposes in life, another person may use his uniqueness for the Lord.

One person desires to be higher, better and seen in life…another person desires to be a servant to others and to be unseen. The only difference between the two people is the one they serve. The first one jealously serves himself whereas the second one joyously serves the Lord.

I thank You for creating each one of us uniquely different and for giving us a free will to use our uniqueness. Help us Lord to always choose to serve You and the purposes of life for which we were created, regardless of our education or wealth…or the lack thereof.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

The Value of Remembering

(Deuteronomy 32:7 KJV) Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations: Ask thy father, and he will show thee; Thine elders, and they will tell thee.

The older I get the more I realize the value of remembering. As a young man, I could sit for hours listening to the older folks tell stories about their successes and failures in life. They may have embellished them a bit over time, but I always found their stories to be great learning tools for my own life. Perhaps their good experiences were not quite as good and their bad experiences were not quite as bad as they remembered, but that did not matter to me. I discovered a treasure in each one of their stories that proved helpful in my own life.

Some believe that listening to such stories is not only a waste of time, but boring and “old order”. Those who feel that way have obviously missed the valuable concepts that caused these stories to become a reality to begin with.

One’s concepts, victories, and losses in life are the foundation for which one’s life-story is built. Generations may come and go, but how one handles the challenges of life in their particular generation is something to be treasured.

Recently, as I traveled through the mountains from Manchester to Sheffield, England, I saw something that had a profound impact on me. The scenic route that I was traveling took me over a large reservoir of water. It was absolutely beautiful, nestled between two mountains ranges. However, something caught my attention that immediately dampened the joy and tranquility I was experiencing.

In the process of establishing this reservoir, there was a small village that lay in the valley between the two mountain ranges where the reservoir was to be. Due to the construction of this reservoir, the residents of this village were forced to abandon their village after occupying it for generations.
Hundreds of years earlier, their ancestors built their homes, barns and the church with stone so they would never decay, and so they could pass them down from one generation to the next as an inheritance.

Eventually the water in the lake rose and the roofs of the houses and the steeple on the church finally disappeared as if they had never existed.

However, I was told that there are times when the waters of the lake would get so low that the houses, barns, church and even the streets would begin to quietly appear...completely intact.

I must admit that I got a little sad thinking about this village sitting all alone in the middle of the lake. For the first time in hundreds of years its homes were void of the smells of food cooking in the kitchen or the private conversations between a man and his wife. It would never again hear the sounds of a newborn baby cry or children laughing and playing as they ran up and down the streets of this village. The church bell would never again be heard on Sunday morning or the singing of hymns or the morning message.  I wonder about the topic of the last message and the title of the last hymn.

Nevertheless, our text does not imply that one should live in the past, but that one should learn from the past and then build on it. One’s physical generational past may appear to fade away, but their core values never do. There may even be times when one feels as consumed by their problems as this village did when it slowly slipped into its own watery grave. However, just as surely as this English village begins to appear when the reservoir waters get low, so do our core values appear when our personal reservoir gets dangerously low as well. It may even appear through a story of the past.

Help us to take this text seriously as we discover the treasures in our past. We too desire to leave a historical legacy for those who follow us. Father, I pray the personal legacy that I leave will not only be a good natural legacy, but more importantly a better spiritual legacy.

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