Meditations by John Dean

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Progression of Art

(Psalms 19:1) The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.

I am always amazed when I think of the Glory of God and what the scripture calls His handiwork. The expanse of God’s handiwork and especially all that He has prepared for those who love Him is incomprehensible. Even though my imagination knows no bounds, I must say that I am not even close to imagining God’s creativity. Perhaps that is why the Bible says that we only “know in part.”

Even when I read Revelation and see how the New Jerusalem is described as it comes down with all its beauty and glory I can only sit in silence. Revelation describes in detail the gates of the city and its foundations, along with the water cascading down from beneath the throne room of the Lamb. It even talks about the tree of life on either side of the river that bears twelve manner of fruit each month and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

When I read these scriptures my mind cannot grasp all the beauty and shapes and colors that originated in the heart of God. I am even more amazed when I think that all this handiwork was created for His crowning creation (man) to enjoy.

Even when the tabernacle of Moses was built in the Old Testament, heaven was used as a blueprint. All of the hooks, length and width have enumerable meanings and were only types of a greater glory.

Since man was created in the image of God he too became a creator of many beautiful things such as sculpture and art. He seemed to have started his creative journey painting the history of his time on rocks and caves that future generations enjoy seeing even to this day.

Man then moved from painting on rocks and caves to painting on canvas or on the ceilings and walls of grand homes and even the ceiling of the Sistine chapel in the Vatican. Man’s purpose for such creativity and painting was the same as God’s purpose…so generations could enjoy the beauty of it.

However, all of that reasoning changed when man progressed from painting on caves, canvas, walls and ceilings to painting on himself (tattooing). No longer is his painting and creativity for future generations to enjoy but rather for his own personal pleasure.

Over the years I have seen some of the great masterpieces of art in Paris, Rome, Saltsburg and other parts of the world. As a result, I have enjoyed (in my amateurish way) attempting to study the minds and thinking behind such masterpieces. In each case I seem to see the unselfish quality of sharing one’s creative beauty of the mind with the whole world.

That does not seem to be the case with body painting (tattooing). Body painting seems to only be for the personal pleasure of the individual because in most cases it is covered up with clothes. Unlike other types of painting…when those who paint their bodies die—their work is buried with them.

I remember when I visited a great art museum in Paris, how people silently looked at the great masterpieces and quietly moved on. That is how I feel when I see some of God’s handiwork.

However, that is not the way it is with body painting (tattooing) where everyone seems to have a strong opinion. These opinions range from an absolute love of body painting and the justification for it…to questioning the whole morality of it. Some see it as their personal expression while others see is as defiling the “temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 6:19 A). “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you…?”

Some even say their body is their own and they can do with it whatever they want while others see it as idolatry because it is "body modification" (1Corithians 6:19 B) … “and ye are not your own.”

I remember when I was a very young teenage boy sitting in the school auditorium with a few other boys who were bored with the program. Someone came up with the idea that we should all tattoo ourselves. The boy making the suggestion just happened to have all the necessary things to get this tattooing job done. He had a bottle of ink, a match stick and two pins tied together with a piece of thread. The idea was to get the end of the match wet with ink and then draw the desired tattoo on our arm. We would then take the two pins that were tied together and poke them through the skin where the wet ink was and presto…we had a tattoo.

I have done a lot of dumb things in my life however the moment I got saved I realized that “my body was no longer mine but it had been bought with a price,” Even today I would love the opportunity of going back to that auditorium and making a better choice. I have been embarrassed about my tattoo decision for the last sixty-five years.

Does the painting history on cave walls or painting on canvas and body painting have a relationship to God’s intent regarding His handiwork as stated in our text?   What is your opinion?

I think You that when You made man in Your image that You also gave him that wonderful creative ability to express himself. I never cease to be amazed at all the beauty and colors that You have surrounded me with. Help me to express myself in a way that will inspire others and bring glory to You.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Opportunities and Blessings

(1Corinthians 16:9 Message)  A huge door of opportunity for good work has opened up here.

Over the years I have noticed that when opportunities and blessings come they seem to come in bunches. But on the other hand when one really needs an opportunity or blessing they appear to be in short supply. It reminds me of the old saying, “It’s chicken one day and feathers the next.”

As a matter of fact I thought a lot about this chicken and feather business over the years to see if there really was some sort of a rhythm to receiving opportunities and blessing…but with no success. I suppose my reason for searching for a rhythm was so I could be as wise as Joseph in the Bible who balanced out his lean years with his blessed years.

What I discovered was our New Testament covenant provided us the benefit of being filled with the Spirit of Wisdom which is the greatest opportunity and treasure of all. I have always had the desire to be wise more than I have had the desire to be smart.

Perhaps searching for rhythms or methods in the Scripture is not God’s will for us in the first place because otherwise we would not be living by faith. We would be operating in man’s reasoning and not God’s wisdom. This of course would impair our spiritual growth and cause us to think there is something mystical about our blessings and opportunities when there is not.

The fact is…there is nothing at all mystical about the blessings of God because He said, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” (3John 1:2). 

I also realize that it is every father’s desire to fulfill Proverbs 13:22 where it says, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.”

Inheriting a financial blessing is wonderful, but I would much rather have the spiritual blessing of wisdom so I could recognize the opportunities and blessings that surround me. Elisha said when his servant was afraid of the army that was surrounding them, “Fear not for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2Kings 6:16).

My wife, Karen, was reading the newspaper the other morning and stopped and looked at me over the top of the paper and said, “Why do they always put the jobs next to the obituaries?”

In other words, the obituary seemed to imply that because of this death there is now a job opportunity. Such an idea is ridiculous and it was certainly not the intent of the newspaper to even imply such a thing…and I agree.

However, the opportunities and blessings of God (for those who love Him), are not governed by one’s death, but by the abundance of His grace and mercy. In other words as our text said “A huge door of opportunity for good work has opened up here.”

Thank You for allowing us to experience the blessings of heaven right where we stand. Teach us Lord how to reach out and receive what has already been given to us without searching for a rhythm and a method that would satisfy our natural mind.


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Monday, October 13, 2014

The Deceit of the Glory Days

(Job 17:11 KJV)  My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.

Negative confession is like a spiritual disease of the heart which is capable of destroying one from the inside out. When one yields to such temptation it can take them farther than they want to go, keep them longer than they want to stay, and cost them more than they want to pay. Of all of Satan’s traps, negativity has to rank at the top of the list because it is so easy to fall into.

Listening to Job talk is depressing because he does not sound like a man of faith or one who is considered to be a “perfect and an upright man who fears God and hates evil?” (Job 1:8) He is talking like a man who has never walked with God.

Even though Job’s testing only lasted between six and nine months, he made it sound like years because he thought he was going to die. When Job said, “My days are past” it was because he really believed he had no future.

The problem with one feeling that their best days are behind them, is that they automatically start looking back to their glory days and spend less time establishing new ones. The reason for this is usually self-preservation. Looking back has a twofold purpose. It helps one establish a stronger present day identity as well as providing a good excuse for present day failures.

This was certainly the case with Job and that is the reason he said “My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.”

I know a man who is probably one of the smartest men I have ever known in his field and yet he sounds exactly like Job. He was a brilliant student in college and everyone’s fair-haired boy because he succeeded in everything he put his hand to. He seemed to have all the breaks in life because he was not only good at everything he did, but he was also tall, very handsome and had a personality that would melt butter.

He was a tremendous mathematician and could do more with figures than anyone I have ever known. As a result of his ability and college training he was a perfect match in the oil and gas industry. He went up the ladder extremely fast and ended up owning his own company with all the glitz and glamour that went with it… such as a private airplane, a big house, expensive suits and cowboy boots.

Things went well for him until the oil and gas business hit bottom in the 1970s and his business went into bankruptcy. As a result, he had to face his first real test in his storybook life…one that would test the mettle of his character to see if he was really a survivor.

The fair-haired good looking boy failed the test and turned out to be nothing more than a mirage. In spite of that, he still had the ability to melt butter with his personality and tell great stories of his glory days. However, his pride has kept him from ever getting a normal job to support his family. This genius became a house husband for almost forty years being supported by his wife on her little salary.

Job may have talked negatively for a while as he looked back and hung on to his glory days, however, he soon stopped this nonsense and started looking forward and became a “double portion” man.

My friend may have never talked negatively, but he also never got over living in the glory days of his past. Job succeeded…my friend failed.

I suppose the thought behind this Meditation is that our young glory days of the past are not meant to be the real us, but only a faith builder for our future. Our present days may not have the same appeal as our glory days, but they should be deeper and richer as a result of those past experiences.

Help us to see the value in our past and to enjoy those great memories. Also help us not to be like the Job in our text who only looked at his past, but help us to be like the Job that started looking at his future. We do not want to end our life in the glory of the past, we want to begin our future in the glory of the present.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

How Powerful is Your Voice

(Job 22:28 KJV)  Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.

This is one of the most encouraging scriptures in the Bible. It could even be a follow up to Genesis 1:26 where God said, “Let us make man in our image.”

Perhaps the thought behind our text is that man’s words carries the same creative power as Gods words. That means that we are responsible for each of our words because they have the ability to produce both life and death.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21) 

The way we carelessly use our words, I sometimes wonder if we realize just how powerful they really are.

I recently read a story of the famed author and poet, Maya Angelou, who said that she was raped as a young girl. Maya told her uncles about it and they found the man who had raped her and killed him. She was so devastated by the man’s murder that she did not speak a word for the next five years. She said she immediately discovered just how powerful her words were because it cost a man his life.

The lesson young Maya Angelou learned probably helped make her one of the most powerful sculptor of words there ever was. She became a poet who had the ability to bend words into pictures of beauty that will continue to bless people for generations.

The Bible tells us things like, “Speak to the mountain and it will be removed,” or “Decree a thing and it will be established.” These are powerful statements which confirm that we are really made in the “image of God.”

I met a preacher a few years ago who invited me to come and speak in his church. He had a nice family and a growing church. When I agreed to come he said, “You don’t remember me do you?” He then proceeded to tell me that when he was a little boy I came and spoke in his church. He said he came every night to the meetings and one night I preached on “Seven Baptisms.” That message had such a profound effect on his life…he then preached the message back to me after all of those years making every point. He said that those words continued to resonate in his mind to the point that he finally surrendered to becoming a preacher.

Just how profound are our words? It is not uncommon for people to come up to me and remind of things I said twenty, thirty, and forty or fifty years ago that was a blessing to them.

Perhaps I was a little proud that people actually remembered something I had said in the past that blessed them. However, that pride soon vanished when the Lord reminded me that there were probably more people who could remember the unkind words I had said. The thought of that was terribly embarrassing and made me want to go and bury my head in the sand.

The face is, our words are powerful even when we think no one is listing. As a matter of fact there was a time in my own life that I was not sure that anyone heard a word I said. However, because of a special experience I had with the Holy Spirit I sudden noticed that people began to listen to me in a new way.

Hopefully each of us can spiritually mature as we realize the creative power we possess in our words. The power of words in the mouth of the immature is like a loaded gun in the hands of a child. The up side for the believer is that we actually can do as our text said and, “…decree a thing, and it shall be established…”

Thank You for creating us in Your image and giving us this wonderful creative power in our words. Help us to use our word power responsibly and for Your glory.

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