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Meditations by John Dean

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Memories

(Psalm 63:6 KJV) I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches…

The ability to remember is one of the greatest blessings in life. However, memory is like the tongue…it can be used in a positive way or it can be used in a negative way.

If one only remembers their bad experiences then they often live a weak and unfulfilled life. If one only remembers their good experiences then they are living in self-denial. However, when one remembers both their good and bad experiences then that allows those experiences to act as building blocks in their life for strength, confidence and a greater ability to overcome.

I am sure there is a scientific study of my theory concerning the effect of experiencing difficulties early in one’s life. It seems to me that those who face difficulties early in life stand a better chance of adjusting to them and succeeding later on in life. I have also noticed that the percentage of folks who are not challenged early in life find it more difficult to adjust to challenges later on in life. Perhaps the reason is because their resistance was either never developed or it was slow in developing.

I am not suggesting that a child go through hard painful times in order to succeed in life…I am only pointing out what I have observed. Because I am a very protective father, my desire is for all children to have only good memories even though I realize that is not likely to happen.

My nature has always been to study people. I study their moods, their looks, their eyes, their laughs, and the tone of their conversation for the purpose of understanding who they are within. By understanding the person better, it is easier for me to understand what memories could be the driving force behind their actions.

I believe each person faces life differently because of their memories. Some memories tend to make one feel strong and confident, others tend to make one feel peaceful, while others tend to make one sad or insecure. Regardless of how our memories work it is important that we do not become pity seekers as a result of bad memories.

Someone said, “Memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.” Obviously these are sad memories.

To be absolutely fair…because I have spent a lifetime analyzing others and why they do what they do I think it is only fitting to give a report on myself. After all what is good for one is good for the other.

I am embarrassed to say that in my later teens I probably looked at my bad memories more than I should have and therefore sought a little sympathy now and then. However, as I came to know the Lord He filled all of my sympathy needs and I never looked on the lower side of life again.

When I do look back on my eighty plus years of life I can see how the Lord was with me even before I knew Him. He was protecting me even in my difficult times and using those experiences to make me into a man with compassion. Thank you Lord.

Father,
Help us to use all of our memories in a positive way knowing that You can take even our broken and difficult one’s and make them into something special. Thank You Father for trusting us with such tests and help us to be good examples to those who are struggling with their bad memories.
Amen

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Sarcasm

(James 3:6 KJV)  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

Even though this is not the most uplifting scripture in the Bible it is certainly one of the most important ones. The thought of one little member of the body (the tongue) being able to defile the entire body is astonishing. That means that at the drop of a hat one’s tongue can nullify an entire day of good works and may even bring suspicion on all of one’s works.

One of the most demeaning of all defiling tongue activities is sarcasm. Growing up in the 40s and 50s I do not remember hearing as much sarcasm as I do today. That is not saying that there were not sarcastic people, but certainly not to the same degree as we have today.

Studies show that a large percent of our population uses sarcasm as a way of communicating. However, in the process many people are slandered daily by sarcastic answers. In other words one may ask a question or make a comment and another comes out with a sarcastic demeaning remark.

Webster’s Student Dictionary tells us that sarcasm comes from the Greek verb sarkazein, which literally means to tear flesh like a dog. The French, the Greek and the Latin are all in agreement with this definition of sarcasm meaning to tear flesh like a dog.

According to the “Psychology of Sarcasm,”[WDH1]  they say it is the “lowest form of wit and often relies on putting another person down in order to make them[WDH2]  feel bigger, smarter and more powerful”.

The root of sarcasm is insecurity. This is why many comics use sarcasm in putting others down because they are usually insecure or have a dark side or a lack of confidence in themselves.

Even though sarcasm is usually done by using the tongue there are other demeaning ways that are just as sarcastic without saying a word. One has the ability to tear flesh like a dog with a smirk, a look, a laugh or even a roll of the eyes. There are many ways of destroying another, but the tongue is the one that can defile one’s own body.

The problem is that the innocent person (like a child) may have lifelong scars as a result of someone else’s low form of flesh tearing wit.

When I was in the second grade my teacher used to belittle me in a sarcastic way all the time. By the time I was out of the second grade I had no confidence at all and I believed every word she said. It took me years to get over that. I know personally how damaging sarcastic remarks can be.

According to my wife (who is a retired school teacher) one of her great concerns in the classroom today is the number of extremely sarcastic teachers. Since she taught in the elementary grades she understood that the kid’s minds were still tender and still being developed and most take things at face value…even sarcastic demeaning remarks. School is never a place where sarcasm should be used.

One can change their tearing of the flesh like a dog ways by first recognizing it as being wrong and then repenting and asking the Lord to help them. The second thing is thinking before you speak.

Father,
Help us all to guard our words and especially those of us who are spiritual leaders and teachers. Lord we want to be secure enough not to have to put others down in order to exalt ourselves. We want our conversations and comments to be righteous and uplifting.
Amen



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Monday, April 13, 2015

Why?

(John 11:25-26 KJV)  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever lives and believeth in me shall never die. Believe thou this?
 
Of all of the emotions that one may experience in life, death seems to arouse a wider range of emotions than any other. The emotions regarding death may range from anger to questioning why.

When Lazarus died, the emotions of Martha and Mary were like a roller coaster. Even though both girls had a measure of faith, we still hear the question why in each of their conversations with Jesus. However, one of those whys seems to be accusatory and the other why seems to be of faith.

Jesus tried to explain to Martha and Mary that death is not always death, but they did not seemed to get it. He then had a show and tell demonstration to prove His point by raising Lazarus from the dead.

My intention in writing this Meditation is certainly not to minimize the miracle of raising the dead. My intention is to merely point out that there are other important lessons in that story that need to be learned.

One of those lessons is how Lazarus’ death seem to uncover who Martha and Mary really were on the inside. As sad as it may seem, pressure is the only way to truly uncover one’s true self.

A couple of days ago I was upstairs in my office working when I heard my wife calling … “John, come down. Dick and Suzanne are here.” Dick is my brother-in-law. The right hand man in his business had just died and he was stopping by after the funeral.

This man’s name was Paul and he was only fifty-three years old when he suddenly dropped dead. Because of his sudden death everyone seemed to be left numb. My brother-in-law had been grooming Paul to eventually take over his business.
The question that seems to always be accompanying this type of death is why?

The next morning after Paul’s funeral, I read in our Express News that Gertrude Weaver (the world’s oldest person) had just died in Arkansas. She was 116 years old and they said she enjoyed being read the news articles about being the oldest person on the planet. I am quite sure that no one asked the question why when Mrs. Weaver died.

I have come to the conclusion that death is a mystery that everybody thinks they can explain but nobody can truly understand. As far as one’s emotions go…who really knows how we will react under certain circumstances. Losing a baby draws on one set of emotions whereas losing a 116 year old mother draws on another set of emotions. I think the point is that we need to give grace to everyone under the emotional stress of the loss of a loved one. Perhaps the death of a loved one really does not uncover our true self after all.

Father,
Give us more understanding and grace on the issue of death and the roller coaster emotions that often accompany it. Help us Lord not to judge or take to heart any words that come from those who are in a state of shock because of the loss of a loved one. Help our whys to only be faith whys and not accusatory whys.

Amen

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Training a Child

(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.

After teaching on this scripture for so many years I have come to the conclusion that there is not a specific formula for training children because each child is different. For example, some parents have well behaved obedient children even though they themselves are not the best examples. Other parents are like saints but their children are rebellious and disobedient.

It would be unfair in either case for the parents to actually take credit or blame for how their children turned out. One cannot say, “My child turned out well because I loved them and gave them attention,” any more than another parent can say “My child is rebellious because I did not show enough love and attention.”

Does that in any way negate the truth of our text? No!

Or text says the responsibility of the parents is to “Train up a child in the way they should go,” it did not say that they are then responsible for how they turn out. The blessing and hope for the parent is where it says, “When they are old they will not depart from it.” The question then becomes…how much time is there between training and old?

I had an experience the other day that caused me to rethink my whole predetermined opinions on child rearing. I suppose without thinking about it I thought because our text was in the Bible that it was only instructions for the Christian. It never occurred to me that our text was more than just instructions…it is a principle that will work for anyone.

As I was flying home the other day from a speaking engagement I sat across the aisle from an elderly couple and their son. The elderly couple looked to be of Iranian decent and well into their eighties. Their son looked to be in his late forties or early fifties and seemed to have the look and mannerisms of a doctor.

I was so intrigued by this family because of the way the son served and cared for his parents. I watched every move the son made for the next three and a half hours as he tirelessly served his parents. He took each of them to the bathroom several times during the trip. He was continually getting things down from the overhead luggage compartment for them and making sure their every need was met. I not only watched how he served his parents, but also his expressions.

He never gave the impression that he was only serving them out of duty. He gave the impression that he was serving them out of a deep natural love. I also watched his parent’s expressions as they were being served and there was no indication of them feeling they were a burden to their son. They seemed too sat there in peace and expectancy knowing that their son’s service to them was right.

I came to the conclusion at the end of the three and a half hour flight home that one cannot train a child to serve this way. There is something much deeper going on in that child than just reacting out of good training.

I also decided that each parent probably gives the very best they can considering their age and maturity level. The fact is, God is the only one who can make up for any parent shortfalls and inabilities in training children.

Father,
Help all parents to train up their children in the way they should go, but especially the single parents. Those who work tirelessly to provide food, clothing and shelter and are only able to spend very little quality time at home. Father make up for the shortfalls.
Amen





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