Meditations by John Dean

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A City to Grow Old In

Zechariah 8:4-5 (Message)  A Message from GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies: "Old men and old women will come back to Jerusalem, sit on benches on the streets and spin tales, move around safely with their canes—a good city to grow old in. And boys and girls will fill the public parks, laughing and playing—a good city to grow up in."
While reading Zechariah 8:4-5 today under the heading of,The Coming Peace and Prosperity of Zion,” I was so blessed by this wonderful promise of God. I rarely quote from the Message, but it painted such a beautiful picture of our text that I decided to use it.
The two phrases that stuck out to me the most are, “grow old” and “grow up” perhaps because it reminds me of the little town that I grew up in. Even though I left my little town at a young age it was still a great place to grow up and grow old in.
My life has changed a lot since those carefree days out on the farm but my love for it has not changed. Like most young men after leaving the farm, I spent many years trying to climb the mountain of success and making my place in the world. As a result, I had little time to actually think about a great place to grow old in.
As I look back over the years I suppose I did climb my mountain, and I did make my place in the world, and I did reach my goals … but for some reason I don’t seem to be any further ahead than anyone else. I may or may not have accumulated a few more possessions, but possessions are not what this whole thing is about … is it? I guess it depends on one’s perspective. I won’t deny the fact that things look different when one is looking up at them, than they do when one is looking down at them.  
As a carefree country boy my pleasures were simple. They ranged from rabbit hunting, to eating the heart out of a fresh watermelon under a shade tree, to riding my horse on Sunday afternoon with my friends, to laying in the hayloft pretending to be rich, to even becoming a western movie star. My imagination knew no bounds.
As I sit here today meditating on our text, I seem to see a side of God that seems to be different than any other side, and that difference is overwhelming. I have always known that God had a place prepared for us when we die, and even a place in Him that we can abide in now … but our text is talking about a place that is prepared for us when we get old. I am not sure I ever though about that.
That seems to indicate that our text is much more than just a beautiful picture of peace … it truly is a call for meditation and purpose and rest.
As I look back at my own carefree days as a farm boy, maybe there were some valuable lessons that the Lord was trying to show all of us future hill-takers, that we either did not learn or we forgot. Going up and taking the mountain … is not necessarily growing up … and it is certainly not the same thing as establishing a place to grow old in.
Thank You for showing us this picture in the scripture. It gives us such a deep since of satisfaction and fulfillment to know how You feel about the elderly. We too want to provide a place of peace for the hill-takers of the past.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Throwaway Babies

Exodus 2:7-9  Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 
When one thinks of Moses, they usually think of a big strong man who spends most of his time on the mountain with God. However, it wasn’t always that way. His story began when His family were slaves in Egypt. The Pharaoh at that time became fearful of what could happen to Egypt if the children of Israel continued to multiply in number.

His solution was to kill all the baby boys who were born to Hebrew women by throwing them into the Nile River. The thought of innocent babies being nothing more than waste to be discarded is not only heart-breaking but unnatural.

The scene then changes from something that is heart-breaking to something that is tender and touching. Touching because the responsibility of looking out for her baby brother, (who was marked for death), was given to a little five-year-old girl. The little girl’s name was Miriam and her little brother’s name was Moses. Her job of babysitting did not take place in her room with Moses in his bassinet. No, she was to keep an eye on Moses who was in a basket floating in the Nile River. Imagine the weight of such responsibility on the shoulders of that little girl.  Children are born natural protectors of their siblings.

Because Moses’ mother could not bare the thought of throwing her baby in the Nile, she put him in a basket and laid him in the river … apparently hoping someone would find him and save his life. Miriam’s job was to carefully keep an eye on the basket.

When Pharaoh’s daughter came to the river to bathe, (as was her custom), she heard the baby crying and saw him … the inherent protective power of motherhood immediately went into action. As a result, she not only saved the baby’s life, but she wanted to keep the baby as her own.

Even though this story continues … I want to break away from it now because it is leading to anther story with the same kind of tenderness.

There was an eighteen-year-old student nurse who disobeyed her superior to save another throw-away baby like Moses. The eighteen-year-old girl was the mother of William Paul Young, the author of the books, “Lies We Believe About God” and the “Shack”.

According to Young, in 1946 his mother who had only been in nurse’s training for about three months was asked to assist a Doctor and a nurse in doing an emergency C-section.  This woman was an Anglican pastor’s wife who had already miscarried five babies while in her second and third trimesters. Now, it looked hopeless for this pregnancy as well.

In doing the C-section the doctor removed the tiny one-pound newborn and placed it in a kidney tray and handed it to the eighteen-year-old student nurse and said, “It’s not viable, dispose of it”.

As the eighteen-year-old was leaving the room she noticed the baby was still breathing so she was caught in a dilemma as to what to do. The doctor said to “dispose of it”, but the same inherent protective power of motherhood immediately took over her life as it did Pharaoh’s daughter.

Instead of disposing of the baby the eighteen-year-old student nurse found a washcloth, wrapped the baby in it and put the tray on top of a sterilization unit, the only warm place in the room. She began feeding it with an eye dropper and the other nurses joined her in caring for and holding this baby.

The end of this tender story is … the baby boy began to gain weight and lived, grew up and became an Anglican priest … his name is Harold Munn. Harold, like Moses, was marked for death, but God had other plans.

Thank you, William Paul Young, for telling us your mother’s story of how as an eighteen-year-old girl she allowed the inherent protective power of motherhood to save a future man of God.

Give us that same protective heart as you did Miriam, Pharaoh’s daughter and the little eighteen-year-old student nurse whose disobedience worked within Your plan.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A Cup of Brown Sug

(Psalm 37:11)  But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

I love the word abundance because it speaks of having more than enough. As a matter of fact, God is a God of abundance and when we are in Him and He is in us then that means that we should be a people of abundance. That does not mean that everyone should be driving big cars and living in multi-million dollar homes. Abundance simply means having more than enough.

I went to an ladies meeting with my wife one time and the speaker was a young housewife who had several kids. It was obvious that she did not have a deep theological understanding of the scriptures, but it was also obvious that she was very confident in what the scripture meant to her. Her props were, a package of brown sugar, a cup, and her apron. Her subject was “abundance” and she used as her text. Luke 6:38. Give, and it shall be given to you, good measure pressed down and shaken together and running over, they shall give into your bosom” …
She took her cup and filled it with brown sugar and said … “this is not what that scripture is saying”. With her fist she began pressing the brown sugar down in the cup and filled it up again and said, “this is still not what that scripture is saying”. She pressed the brown sugar down in the cup the third time and filled it until it was running over and said, “Now, this is what the scripture means to be “pressed down and shaken together and running over.”

With that she stepped back, picked up the corner of her apron and wiped her hands.

As I watched and listened to this young mother, I thought to myself, there are those who have spent years in seminary who cannot explain this scripture more thoroughly than she has. Could it be that all the great scholars in the world are no match for a little housewife with, a package of brown sugar, a cup, and an apron?

It seems possible that the abundance of peace in our text is actually the result of the test and trails in our life. If that is the case, then it gives a whole new meaning to being “pressed down and shaken together and running over”. But wait a minute … we don’t’ like the pressing down and shaking part … we only like the running over part. The fact is, if there is no pressing and shaking, then there is no running over.
In regard to the word abundance, Jack Hayford said one time that abundance is measured in what I have given away and not what I have. If we make that same application to our text, its becomes easier for us to understand how to live life in the abundance of peace.
I want to be wealthy in peace. I want to live in the abundance of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. I also want to remember that simple lesson taught by the little young mother with only a cup, some brown sugar and an apron.

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Still, Small Voice

(1Kings 19:12-13 and after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave….

All through the Old Testament God gives us prophetic clues as to what the next season will be. The church has just come through what I call, the wind, earthquake and fire season … or should I say, the (signs, wonders and great church growth season), and now it’s entering the “still small voice” season.
We can see the progression to this present season when God spoke to Elijah from the entrance of his cave and basically told him their method of communication had changed. It had changed to the degree that it was the “still small voice”, that got Elijah out of the back of the cave and into a position of hearing God for his next assignment. One of the changes that needed to take place in Elijah’s life was heightened hearing. The reason that Elijah needed a tune up on his hearing is because there is a big difference between the sound of wind, earthquake and fire and the sound of the still small voice.
The same principle is true with the Elijah Church. God is calling us to come out of our cave, (that place of safety), so we can hear our new assignment as well. Because the new assignment can only come by way of the “still small voice”, it means that the wind, earthquake and fire days are over as we know them.
I absolutely loved those days and I feel so honored to have been a full participant in them.  However, I do believe the coming days are going to be even greater and more powerful than anything in the past.
Like Elijah, we too are going to have to develop our own heightened hearing. As we do, I think we will discover that the still small voice is louder and more impactful than that of the wind, earthquake and fire.
While sitting on a rock by the San Saba river as a twelve-year-old boy … that still small voice came to me. Even though I had never met the Lord, I knew Him. I remember feeling totally encapsulated by the cloud of His presence and yet I was not afraid. He called me and gave me my assignment much like He did Elijah. That is certainly not to imply that Elijah and I are the same, only the still small voice was the same.
Even though it was years later before I came to know the Lord, this twelve-year-old, bashful, insecure boy, never forgot that day sitting on the rock. I could barely hear the sound of His voice… but that sound had the impact of a mighty thunder bolt in my heart. Like Elijah, the still small voice changed my life forever.
The Elijah church is going to be one of raising up mighty double portion men just like Elisha. Praise God!!!
Thank You for this new season of the still small voice. Help us to have heightened hearing in order to be good stewards of this wonderful call that You have entrusted to us. It is our desire to raise up Elisha’s for the kingdom of God.

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