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Meditations by John Dean

Monday, May 26, 2014

Humming With the Angels

(Romans 15:6 Message) Then we'll be a choir--not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!

There is a lot more to being in harmony with one another than just the absence of conflict. Even when nothing is being said, that does not necessarily mean that one’s heart is in agreement. As a matter of fact the heart could feel quite the opposite even while portraying a pleasant smile.

Conflict is usually the result of one’s selfishness insisting on having its own way regardless of who gets hurt in the process.

Harmony on the other hand is the result of walking in the will of God, which has a direct effect on how one walks with his fellowman. Harmony is actually the ointment that releases joy, which is not only capable of healing one from the inside out, but also renewing one’s troubled mind.

According to our text, harmony is the pathway by which one joins others whose “lives form a choir that sings an anthem to the God and Father of Jesus.”

Perhaps what Jesus was saying to us in Matthew 18:19 was that it is difficult for one natural thinking mind to come into harmony with other natural thinking minds. Harmony can only be accomplished by Spirit lead minds.

 “Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”

Because harmony is so difficult for the natural minded man to accomplish, perhaps that is why Paul gave instructions for the renewing of one’s mind in Romans 12:2.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Over the years I have learned much by watching the different reactions of people when they are going through difficult situations. One usually knows how to respond when things are going well, but the test is learning how to respond when things are not going well.

Can one hold together when going through a test or will they react in a fragile way that discourages those watching them? The answer to that question will probably not be fully known until one’s life is over.

I have a friend who went to be with the Lord a few days ago. She had suffered from cancer for the past four years. Even though the prayer of faith for Carolyn went up from our home every single day of those four years, she was not healed.

Even though I was not able to see Carolyn often, each time I did there was something about her that intrigued me. She appeared to be walking more and more in a realm not of this world. As I watched her little frail body move around the room, I could imagine her looking more like Moses (who looked more like God), after he spent time with God on the mountain.

A few days ago the evidence of that was confirmed. When one of her family members went into her room to check on her, they found her humming a beautiful song they had never heard before. Even though Carolyn was still lying in the bed breathing…her spirit had already come into “harmony with heavens choir singing a stunning anthem to her Lord.” Fifteen minutes later Carolyn Sprague breathed her last breath as she hummed her way into the arms of her Lord.

Father,
I have learned much by watching how my little friend Carolyn handled her difficult situation. Such grace, peace and faith can only come from You. Lord, as Carolyn was a teacher and inspiration to me without even knowing it…my desire is to be a teacher and inspiration to others.

Amen

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Monday, May 19, 2014

An Artificial Reef

(Psalm 31:12 Message) They want to blot me from memory, forget me like a corpse in a grave, discard me like a broken dish in the trash.

Because many older folks are not able to contribute as much to life as they once did, this text could very well describe how some feel. It is a terrible thing when one feels ignored or talked down to as if they are children. Perhaps this is the reason one could, “feel like a living corpse, or a broken dish or even worse…blotted out of the memory of others altogether.”

It is also a terrible thing for a ‘pioneer of the past’ to end their life feeling like a burden to the very ones they sacrificed their life to raise. What an unpleasant thought.

However, as unpleasant as that thought may be, one must realize that everything in life is temporary and must come to an end…including life itself. It is wonderful to remember one’s glory days, but they too only last for a season. Believing there is an exception to that rule will invariably end up in the unfulfilled dream department.

A couple of days ago I began thinking about the ship (USS General Harry Taylor) that I had sailed to Germany on back in 1954. I actually had not thought much about that grand old ship in the last sixty years. I suppose I assumed it would always be there because it was so big and powerful…so why worry about it?

However, the more I thought about the General Harry Taylor the more I wanted to find out exactly what happened to it. To my surprise I discovered that the General was lying on the bottom of the ocean floor off the coast of Florida.

After spending several years in cold storage it had become a rust bucket.
Therefore the powers that be decided the glory days of the ship had passed and therefore it was no longer useful to the military. It had long been replaced by bigger and better equipped ships.

Even though I had not been on that ship for more than sixty years, I felt heart sick when I learned what had happened to it. I thought to myself, have I actually lived long enough for such an important part of my history to become an artificial reef?

There are probably times when many older folks also feel like an artificial reef.Just because they are no longer as productive as they once were many feel they have lost their value.

However, that is not true for either the General Harry Taylor or for older folks. The General is not sailing the seas transporting military personnel (like myself) as it once did, however it has become useful in another way. It has become a quiet sanctuary on the bottom of the sea for sea life as well as providing a challenge for inquisitive deep sea divers.

The same is true with older folks…they may not be facing the challenges of life in the same way they once did, however, they too have become useful in another way. Passing the baton of their wisdom and experiences in life are priceless.

Even though some may feel that our text fits their particular situation they should be encouraged that it is only talking about a minority of people and not about the majority.

The fact is, God has not forsaken the hurting or the rejected. He is simply challenging the rest of us (through this scripture) to be His ‘hands extended’ as a comforter and healer.

The point of this Meditation is to help open our eyes to a ministry of encouragement to those who feel like an ‘Artificial Reef’.

Father,
Thank You for the wonderful opportunity to be an encourager. Our
desire is to help those who have lost their hope to regain it. Thank You Lord for encouraging us that if we are faithful to You the effect of our lives should live on through others.
Amen

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Big Duck/Little Pond



(Ecclesiastes 9:14-16 Message) There was a small town with only a few
 people in it. A strong king came and mounted an attack, building  
 trenches and attack posts around it. There was a poor but wise man 
 in that town whose wisdom saved the town, but he was promptly
 forgotten. (He was only a poor man, after all.) All the same, I still say
 that wisdom is better than muscle, even though the wise poor man was
 treated with contempt and soon forgotten.

For some reason it seems natural for one to associate words like strength, power or wisdom with size or riches. The fact is…one has nothing to do with the other.

In the case of our text it not only tells us about a small town that is hardly worth mentioning to a poor man with wisdom. However, this poor man was not just any poor man…the wisdom of this poor man actually “saved the town.”

It also seems as though when two or more people get together a natural pecking order develops. We certainly find this to be the case with the small town and the poor wise man. In other words, the poor wise man ended up at the bottom of the food chain and was soon forgotten.

The town did not forget him because of his wisdom…they forgot him because of his poverty. There seems to be something about poverty that repels even those who are less poor.

The pride of this town was enormous, but their ability to actually save themselves was minute. Because of their enormous pride they distanced themselves from the poor man even though his wisdom is what saved them.

One day while my wife and I were driving from Austria to Switzerland on our vacation, we drove through the little country of Lichtenstein. The land mass of the entire country is just under 1/7th the size of my home town of San Antonio, Texas. The country also has a constitutional monarchy and is headed by a prince.

Is it my imagination or do most of us want to be bigger and more important than we actually are? Our way of accomplishing that is by ignoring the facts and pretending they are true.

As we drove across the border into Lichtenstein I could physically feel the enormous pressure of selfish pride. I have never felt anything like that before and it did not feel good.

I have also noticed this same spirit of pride in some small churches as well. Like Lichtenstein, their government seemed to be a constitutional monarchy ruled by a prince type of pastor who never understood the need of others. In other words, they are like a big duck in a little pond.

There is nothing wrong with being a big duck and there is nothing wrong with being in a small pond. However, when one thinks they are something when they are not, then selfish pride is sure to prevail.

Perhaps this is what Paul meant in Romans 12:3, when he said, “not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think.”

Father,
Help us to become more aware of how You sometimes meet our needs through another brother or sister. Forgive us for the times we have displayed selfish pride through our independence. Help us not to “think more highly of ourselves than we ought.”
Amen

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Monday, May 5, 2014

There is a Time to Weep

(Romans 12:15 KJV) Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

The Bible truly is an amazing book because it even instructs one as to how to respond to another person’s emotions. For example: It says that if a person rejoices, then we should rejoice with them and if they weep, then we should weep with them.

Jesus was a good example of this as He attended the wedding in Cana. Attending the wedding was reason enough for Him to rejoice, but perhaps it also reminded Him of the wedding that will soon take place in heaven between the “Lamb of God” and “His bride.”

There are many things in life that could cause one to celebrate with another, but I think two of the main reasons for celebrating are probably weddings and the birth of a child. These two events seem to draw smiles and laughter when nothing else can.

However, I have also noticed an equal emotional response when it comes to the “b” part of this verse…where it says that one should “weep with those who weep.”

Weeping and rejoicing are certainly two different emotional extremes, but apparently very important because otherwise one would not be given instruction on how to respond to them.

I have also learned over the years that sadness rarely stands alone. We see this demonstrated by Jesus when He wept with Mary at the grave of Lazarus. Jesus’ response at first may seem a little confusing because He was the Son of God and had power to raise Lazarus from the dead. Perhaps His weeping had less to do with His power and more to do with His humanity side.

In the last few days I found myself thinking more about this scripture than I had in times past. I suddenly realized that even though I thought I understood its meaning, (particularly the “b” part)…I came up short. As a matter of fact I came to the conclusion that the only way one can really understand the ‘b’ part of this scripture is by experiencing it.

A few days ago our family met at my sister-in-law’s beautiful ranch in Marble Falls, Texas for our annual Easter egg hunt. The place was filled with four generations of people ranging in age from just shy of eighty to those who were only a few months old.

After enjoying a big Texas bar-b-que (which was our tradition), we all met on the ranch playground for the big Easter egg hunt. Because I represented the older generation I sat in one of the swings on the porch and enjoyed the whole egg hunting experience. I watched mommies and daddies and grandparents as they took their little ones by the hand and filled their baskets with obviously placed eggs next to the swings, slide and sand box.

I enjoyed watching all of our little ones that day, but my attention was particularly drawn to my little great-great nephew who was just a little more than a year old. I never saw a little boy who loved life and his new found experience of walking more than our little blond curly headed “Moss.” He was fearlessly taking his part of life right out of the middle, and I proudly sat there thinking…that’s my boy!

I drove back home from the ranch that Saturday replaying every wonderful moment of the day and particularly those with little “Moss.” However, I had no idea when I left the ranch that it would be the last time I would see little “Moss.”

Only a few days later our energetic little baby went home to be with the Lord. Shock waves went through our very close-knit family as we were trying to understand it all.

I think I am now beginning to understand what our text meant when it says, “And weep with them that weep.”

I have also come to realize that life is not counted in years, but in minutes. Perhaps life is more about the quality than it is about length. Little “Moss” did not have much length to his little life, but boy did he have the quality. Perhaps that is why he fearlessly challenged every single moment of it.

Father,
I am also learning that sometimes our silent weeping speaks as much comfort to the broken hearts of others as our many words. I know you have received our little “Moss” with open arms.

Amen

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