Archive for August, 2010

COMMANDO JOHN

Posted: August 28, 2010 in Roots by the River

Life at the Cason home has been filled with many strange and funny moments.  I tell Jim on many occasions, “one thing for sure, our marriage has not been dull.”  He just laughs and shakes his head like what will be next.

It was a regular evening in our home on a Tuesday night.  Jim traveled with his job and would leave on Tuesday and return on Friday, which left me and the kids there alone.  Well not quite alone, we had Gwinnie, our cat, and Grandma, who lived around the corner.  We were safe, we thought.

John was about 14 at the time, and into this commando stuff.  His room was filled with items of war and pictures of Marine Corps heroes.  His best friend Bo and other friends would play all night war games in our back yard, and I would awake in the middle of the night to find camouflage faces in my flowerbed planning their strategy to take over the enemy in the other flowerbed.  It was a fun time to be a young man.  John’s games were about to turn into reality.

We had our dinner, John was doing homework and Ashley was fast asleep.  It was about 9:00 p.m. and I had prepared lunches for the next day, and after cleaning up the kitchen from dinner, and folding a load of clothes, I decided to go to bed. Jim had made his evening call to see if we were okay and all was fine, I thought.

As I began the ritual of securing the house for the evening, I opened the door from the kitchen to the laundry room to check the outside door, and the door would not open.  It was not locked, and when I pushed  to open it, the bottom of the door would not move, but the top of the door tried to open.  It was like someone on the other side was holding it closed with their leg.  I tried several times to open the door, and it just would not open.  My heart began to pound rapidly as I closed the door and grabbed the phone to call 9-1-1.  I was convinced some uninvited person was in our laundry room.

I headed down the hall to get John and Ashley out of the house.  The officer on the phone began giving me instructions to get both children in one room for our protection until the police arrived. I told John what was happening and asked him to get ready.  I ran into Ashley’s room, which was right next to John’s, and woke her up.  By the time I got her awake I decided it would be better for us to be outside rather than trapped in a house with a stranger.  I called for John to meet us in the hallway, and when he arrived I was shocked.  He was in full combat gear! Including the face paint and everything.  I was stunned!!!  He began giving ME instructions on how to protect Ashley by putting her between us as we went out the front door.  He led us to a place in the yard he used during his war games as a safe place.  From there we could see the house completely, but no one could see us. 

It took, about 7 minutes for the police to arrive and  we emerged from our hiding place.  As we moved into the reflection of the street light, the officer looked rather startled.  We must have been a sight, a near 40 year-old  woman in her pajamas, a 12-year old little girl barefoot and scared half to death, and John, in complete control looking like General Patton, ready to protect his family.

The officers searched the house and found nothing, no footprints outside, and no damage to the outside laundry room door where we thought the intruder may have entered.  To this day, we have not solved the mystery of the door that would not open.  The officers stayed a while to calm us down and give us some pointers on home safety.  We thanked them and sent them on their way.

 As was common in our home, when we had a crisis, we usually gathered around the kitchen table for a snack to discuss the issue.  This was no different.  We grabbed the ice-cream and  cookies and began to review our episode.  I told John, “I don’t know when I had been so proud of him.  He took control of the situation as a grown man, and I knew when he finally did become a grown man, the world would be a safer place with him around.”  He smiled so big and kinda sat up in the chair a little taller and said, “I don’t know about y’all, but I’m going to spend the night at Grandma’s.”  Ash and I said, not without us, so we grabbed our stuff and  headed for the safety of Grandma’s house. 

John served four years as a Marine and was discharged with honors.  He is a grown man now, and the world is truly a safer place.

John was in control that night because he was prepared for the impending battle.  He did not know when or where it would happen, but when it did, in an instant,  he was prepared for the fight.

As God’s children in a fallen world, we too, must be prepared for battle.  Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12-13, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Dear Father, let me put on the whole armor of God each day to keep me ready, to keep me strong, to keep me fearless, in the face of danger in whatever form it may come.

 Ann Cason

2/14/05 

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The Clock

Posted: August 21, 2010 in Candle Lights

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For years it has been silent.  It stopped ticking when Sorrow entered its home.  The owner of the clock thought that it was broken but it held a special place in her heart so she put it on a cabinet shelf.

Since the day that time stood still, the clock has been moved to a new town and into a new home, but it has maintained its silence.  The other clocks in the home, for there are many, have continued to mark off time, but for three years this clock has not made a sound.

Recently the owner of the clock heard a soft clicking sound in her home that was different from the usual sounds.  In her search to find the source of the sound, she opened the cabinet door and discovered that her clock was no longer silent.  Time was once again moving forward for her clock.

It is interesting to me that Solomon did not assign a certain number of minutes, hours, or days to the “time to every purpose under the heaven;” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  Time is in God’s hands, and for His child, He will mark the time.  Our Father knows when we need the sun and moon to stand still (Joshua 10:12-14), and when it is time for us to move on.

When Sorrow comes, we need a time to mourn and a time to heal, and only our Father knows how much time we need.  He will tell us just as He did Samuel that it is time to move on (I Samuel 16:1)  He will tell us when it is time to laugh and dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4).  And, just as the clock, when it is time, our hearts will start beating again.

Diane Padgett

6/17/2010

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It All Adds Up, is a in-depth look at the Bible and the significance of numbers in both the Old and New Testaments.  Here is the first installment entitled,

Five Smooth Stones

  I remember hearing the story of David and Goliath when I was very young. There was even a song that we learned in Vacation Bible School that went something like this: “Only a boy named David, only a little sling, only a boy named David but he could pray and sing..only a boy named David, only a rippling brook, only a boy named David, but five little stones he took”. I believed that with the help of God, I could conquer giants too! What an innocent, sweet faith that I had then. As time went by, I began to wonder how many Goliaths I would have to face in my life. Just as one went down another would rise up and I eventually became discouraged and battle weary. I chose to take off the armor and hide for awhile. Had I known the truth of the five stones sooner, I may have become weary but I would not have lost heart and stopped fighting.

David was just a teenager when He faced Goliath. He was a shepherd in his father’s pastures and from a shepherds heart and point of view he wrote a beautiful song, Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd”. Not all shepherds were as diligent, kind and watchful as David was. He singlehandedly killed both a lion and a bear that were threatening the sheep in his care. He was bold and fearless and knew that “the Lord, HE, is my shepherd”!

1 Samuel chapter 17 tells the memorable story of David’s first battle. The Philistines had gathered their army for battle and the Israelites came out to fight them. Then, out came Goliath! He was a huge man, intimidating and mocking, and challenged the Israelites to a fight. “I defy the ranks of Israel this day; give me a man that we may fight together” (1 Samuel 17:10). Not one of the Israelites would accept his challenge and he continued “mouthing off” for forty days. David was too young to be in the Israeli army and was left to tend the sheep. His father sent him to bring supplies to his brothers and it was then that he saw the giant. David was enraged! He boldly accepted Goliath’s challenge and proclaimed “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine!” (1 Samuel 17:37). He was too small for armor so he went to face Goliath with only a sling. Verse 40 tells us “And he took his stick in his hand and chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his pouch, and his sling was in his hand; and he approached the Philistine”. Five stones?? Why did the Lord impress on him to choose five stones from the brook? It is quite obvious that had he missed with the first stone, he would be hanging from the end of Goliath’s javelin! Interesting thought isn’t it? David shouted out to the great crowd “..and all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands!” (1 Samuel 17:47). David then ran to Goliath, took out a stone and hit Goliath right in the forehead with it and….”the giant came tumbling down”!

David continued to battle Israel’s enemies, and a fallen king, all through his life as recorded in the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel. At the end of his life, David was still at war with the Philistines. I found 2nd Samuel 21:22-2nd Samuel 22:1 to be an incredible revelation: “…These four were born to the giant in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants. And David spoke the words of this song to the Lord in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of ALL his enemies and from the hand of Saul..” Wait, what was that?? Goliath had four sons? FIVE STONES! From the very first battle that David fought, God was promising him the victory over ALL of his enemies for the rest of his life! How amazing is that? My brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in the battle, the victory is yours! Reach into your shepherds pouch and feel the four smooth stones that are still there. Romans 8:35&37 tells us “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Rest when you need to rest, but never, never give up the fight. The Lord, HE is your shepherd!

Karen Dunn

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Believe BIG!

Posted: August 7, 2010 in Get Close to God

Twenty-ninth in the series Get close to God

“It shall be done to you according to your faith.”  Matthew 9:29 

As Sharon and I were flying home recently from our vacation, she pointed out to me a hole in the dark clouds through which we could see the blue sky.  We were in the midst of the clouds and caught a perspective that the people on the ground being rained on couldn’t see.  As we descended, the hills and rivers of Middle Tennessee gradually came into view.  Finally, homes, tiny cars, and miniature people appeared.

The Lord gave us a snapshot of the big picture.  We humans can get so caught up in our own little everyday world that we forget that there is something and someone so much bigger out there.  Sometimes all we see is the rain around us and we can’t see above the clouds where the sun rules.  

So many Christians have settled for a little Christianity.  We only want enough to get by.  We go to church occasionally and pray when we need God to come through for us, but don’t expect him to do much about it.  We don’t really want to hear from him.  He may ask us to do something that we don’t want to do or that’s out of our comfort zone.  We like our casual, comfortable Christianity.  All we need to do is just survive and hang in there until we get to our sweet home by and by.

Do you want more than that?  I do.  I think God wants to do more for us, too.  But he restrains himself when faith is in short supply:

“He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.”  Matthew 13:58

I want to see God work every day, going before me to soften and prepare the hearts of those friends, relatives, and co-workers who don’t know him.  I want to see hope restored, relationships reconciled, addictions conquered, families strengthened, jobs found, lives changed, and people healed physically and emotionally.  I want to see God speak through me and love through me, because I can’t do it.  It’s not in me, I’ve tried.  Apart from Christ, I truly can do absolutely nothing of lasting spiritual value.  I may be able to get someone to consider spiritual matters, but the Holy Spirit is the one who draws that person to himself.  I want to see God do “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”  (Ephesians 3:20.)  I want to see God not only work miracles in my life, but I want to see him do it in the ones I pray for, as well.  I want to see American churches thrive again, and make a difference in their communities.  Is this asking too much?  I don’t think so:

“Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours…All things are possible to him who believes.”  (Matthew 21:22, Mark 9:23)

These are not carte blanche, name it-claim it statements that apply to everything we want.  James warns against that: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”  But I think everything in my wish list in the above paragraph can be prayed for with confidence.

What’s holding us back?  One of two things-we don’t think God can or we don’t think he will.  We may believe that miracles happened in Bible times but don’t think that God intervenes in miraculous ways today.  I have news for you: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8.)  If Jesus says, “he who believes in Me will do greater works than these,” than I should expect things to happen as he says.  Otherwise, he will be amazed at my lack of faith,  like he was with the people in his home town (Mark 6.)  God is not some grumpy old guy who may or may not answer your prayers according to his mood or time schedule.  He already knows what you need and has a solution in place. 

God may not answer my prayer the way I ask him to, but until I know otherwise, I am to believe that he will.  If he has another solution or wants me to wait, then I know it’s for the best, so that’s even better.  God is not just a life raft to save us from our problems.  He gives us the peace and power to thrive in the midst of them.  Sometimes our development is his purpose, not our deliverance.

I know that’s easier said than done, especially if you’re going through an economic or emotional depression, but I hope you’ll read something in this post to help you find a way to strengthen yourself in the Lord as David did when he was stressing because he was about to be stoned (1 Samuel 30.)

 Our ability to believe determines our level of faith which is directly proportional to the level of success we can experience in our Christian walk.

So, how can we believe BIG?

First, we have to decide who and what to believe.   We have good reasons to believe in God, the complexity of nature being one of them.  We use our intellect to choose which religion will bring us to God.  That’s why missionaries are so vital to spread the word that there’s a better way to attain God’s favor than human sacrifices or “holy” wars.  Why is Christianity the true religion?  Check out a previous post: Are religions preferences of choice on a buffet line?  Believing in God is an intentional choice, not just a state of mind reflecting circumstances and experiences.  It requires us to go beyond the conventional knowledge of proven facts. 

Secondly, we need to let go of our doubts, “for the one doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord.”  (James 1:6,7)  We should eagerly anticipate God to do wonderful things, not just hope that he will.  What do you need the most right now?  Don’t give up hope, no matter how long it takes.  “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears…The Lord will accomplish what concerns me.”  (Psalm 34:1, 138:8.)  We need to recognize that God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could come to a point where we just know he will, as certain as we are that the sun will rise and set everyday? 

“I do believe.  Help my unbelief.”  (Mark 9:24)

Thirdly, we need to surround our senses with as much Godly influence as possible: worship services, Bible studies, Christian music, Christian friends, wholesome entertainment, and a steady diet of reading and memorizing scripture to recite throughout the day.  “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ.”  (Romans 10:17)  Singing hymns and choruses also helps.  Some say we are just being brainwashed, but my brain could use a little cleaning now and then!

Fourthly, start trusting God by obeying him.  When the Israelites were told to cross the Jordan when it was overflowing its banks, God didn’t hold back the water until the priests stepped in and got their feet wet.  Have you ever attempted something so big that you couldn’t have accomplished it unless God showed up?  If not, then maybe you need to believe bigger.  Don’t let your inadequacies stop you from letting Christ use you.  “When I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Corinthians 12:10.)  I’ve heard it said, God isn’t interested in your ability, he’s interested in your availability.  Perhaps the Lord is nudging you to start a new career or ministry.  Don’t dismiss the idea simply because you don’t feel qualified or don’t think you would like doing it.  You don’t want to end up like the slave who hid his talent instead of investing it (Matthew 25.)  I’d rather hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  Believing big doesn’t always result in accomplishing big, important things that people will notice.  He may want you to simply smile at someone, lend an ear or a helping hand. 

Finally, get close to God, which is what this blog is all about.  It’s hard to do, especially when he seems distant and silent.  We need to believe that he is there even when we can’t see, hear, or feel his presence.  Seeing is not believing.  Where’s the faith in that?  “We look at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:18)  Be persistent and relentless with your pursuit of God.  “Seek the Lord your God, and you will find him if you search with all your heart and all your soul.”  (Deuteronomy 4:29)  The more you commune with him, the better you will know him, and the more you will see him working in your life, which makes it easier to “bear all things, believe all things, and endure all things.”  (1 Corinthians 13:7.)  You will also be able to better discern his will in the things you pray for.

I know this all appears to be methodical, maybe even like a formula.  I realize I can’t fully explain the mystery of faith, I just wanted to take a stab at it, because I think we are just scratching the surface of what God wants us to see and experience if we will only believe, and believe BIG! 

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  (John 20:29) 

It’s time to trade in our cold feet for wet feet!

 

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