Meditations by John Dean

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kindness and Truth

(Proverbs 3:3 ASV)  Let not kindness and truth forsake thee: Bind them about thy neck; Write them upon the tablet of thy heart.

Kindness is one of those things that is wonderful to experience, but hard to explain. The reason it is so hard to explain is because it seems to be contrary to human nature. Human nature is usually more interested in pleasing one’s self than in showing kindness to others.

Because of such selfishness, people find it easy to divide over many issues. However, when it comes to acts of kindness those same unpredictable people seem to change…at least for the moment. Is it possible that there is something inherently good in man in spite of the fact that he is lost and needs a redeemer? Apparently so, because our text says, “Let not kindness and truth forsake thee… Write them upon the tablet of thy heart .”

I do not think the Lord would have told us this if the potential for kindness was not there in the first place. This is significant because even though man needs a redeemer (Jesus), nothing is implied that there is not a measure of kindness and even decency in the lost.

Perhaps this is another one of those mysteries that only God knows the answer. The fact is, just because one is born again does not necessarily mean that they are always kind. But on the other hand neither does it mean that just because a person is not born again that they are always unkind.

The purpose of my writing about kindness was provoked by an experience I was a part of the other day.

My niece is an adaptive P.E. teacher and one of her jobs is working with severely handicapped children. She has assistants working with her in teaching and caring for these children.

Last week my niece was talking to one of her assistants and she asked him about his family and where he lived. During their conversation she found out that he was a homeless Vet living in a shelter with his daughter. This man had a college education but wanted to become a school teacher and therefore had to take more college courses in order to qualify for his teaching certification.

As my niece and this man talked, he was so excited to inform her that he had been on a waiting list with the VA to get his own apartment and had just been approved.  He would be moving into his new apartment in a couple of days.

My niece was so moved with compassion that she asked him if he minded if she helped him furnish the new apartment for he and his daughter. He excitedly said yes…because they had absolutely nothing.

We have a trading website in our area, so my niece immediately posted his story and his need. Within two hours his entire apartment was furnished beautifully, including pictures. The pantry was full of food, the linen closet was filled with new sheets and towels and loads of toiletries. Several women bought all the personal items that this man’s daughter would need. Not only that, but my wife and I drove around picking up gift cards for anything else they might need.

The life of this man and his daughter changed completely overnight from living in a shelter with nothing, to having this new beautiful apartment filled with items of love from our community.

I have never seen so many acts of kindness at one time in my life from so many people.

No one focused on the things that would usually separate us, but on the greater need instead. I wonder if that is the part of mankind that I questioned as being inherently good? Is this what our text was talking about when it said, “Let not kindness and truth forsake thee”…I just wonder…I just wonder? Otherwise, why would so many people rally around a stranger they have never met and will probably never meet?

I think I have discovered that I know less about mankind that I first thought. I think I am beginning to understand when You told us “Do not judge lest you be judged”…it was because You and You alone know the heart of man. Since You created man perhaps it was even You that caused this wonderful act of kindness in all of the people toward this homeless Vet. Help me to understand more.


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Monday, January 18, 2016

The Mystery of Death

(Hebrews 9:27)  And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;

Even though I have used this scripture many times over the years at funerals and in other messages, I still find the subject of death to be a mystery. One starts off in the eternal past as a spirit and ends up in the eternal future as a spirit. The short time in-between God gives man a physical body to live in and be responsible for. Because that body has no eternal value it is appointed to eventually die, but no one knows exactly when except the Father.

When God formed Adam out of the earth he remained only a pile of dirt until God breathed life into his nostrils. At that time, the formed dirt became a living being.

Doctors and nurses often say that when a patient dies they take a deep breath and then exhale…and that is death or the reversal of life. In other words that is when the eternal spirit is released from the temporal body.

All of this makes sense and seems simple enough to understand up to a point. Where it begins to fall apart is when it becomes personal and one’s heart and emotions are ripped apart by the loss of a child, a parent, a husband or a wife. This is often when the question why sets in and yet all explanations are rejected.

The only reason I am even writing about the issue of death is because of an experience I had the other day. By sharing my experience I do not mean to imply that it compares in any way to the loss of a loved one. It is only meant to show how real one’s emotions are.

Karen and I have a little dog named Baxter who is getting old and has a hard time getting around. We took Baxter to the vet the other day to have him examined and logically talk about his future as a healthy dog. None of us (including the vet), wants to do any heroics just to keep Baxter alive for our sakes…particularly when he is living in pain. Our conversation with the vet was very logical and made sense, but when I realized that Baxter’s life or death was based on my decision…things began to change.

It was then that I began to understand that the question why that often comes when a person loses a loved one is not a question at all…it is a statement because no answers are wanted or accepted.

The point is…it is easier to reason logically with the mind because it can be controlled, whereas one’s emotions often cannot be controlled.

Help me to grow in understanding the whole person more deeply, including the complicated emotions that often surface as a result of death. Thank You Lord for giving us emotions because without them we would be incapable of showing love to one another and especially to You.

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