HOW JOHNNY CASH GOT “THAT CHRISTMASY FEELING”

December 22, 2016

 

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared here and is used by permission of the author.“That Christmasy Feeling” was one of the songs on Johnny’s 1972 album entitled The Johnny Cash Family Christmas produced by Columbia Records.  Johnny and June Cash loved singing about Christmas and produced many television specials and albums in the 1970s, and into the 80s. A miracle in a dark Tennessee cave made these songs and shows possible.

It was a hopeless day in 1967 that Johnny literally crawled into a deep dark cave to die.  The accumulated pain and shame of a decade of doing drugs, popping pills, ruined relationships, while always riding the rapids of whiskey river brought him to the mouth of Nickajack Cave on the Tennessee River north of Chattanooga.All his “uppers” had turned to “downers,” but Johnny wasn’t blaming anyone but himself. He knew that he had been his own worst enemy. The “Man in Black” would die in total darkness that day!

Parking his Jeep, Cash walked into this underworld that he had explored years earlier during happier times. He knew that many had gotten lost in this large labyrinth of connecting tunnels and chambers stretching all the way into Alabama and were never seen again.Dave Urbanski writes about this day in The Man Comes Around: The Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash, “I never wanted to see another dawn. I had wasted my life. I had drifted so far away from God and every stabilizing force in my life that I felt there was no hope for me.”Cash walked into the cave, then crawled for three hours until his flashlight died before he could. Engulfed in pitch darkness Cash remembered, “The absolute lack of light was appropriate, for at that moment I was as far from God as I had ever been.”Waiting on death, Johnny realized that he could not crawl into a hole deep or dark enough to escape God’s grace. “I thought I’d left Him, but He hadn’t left me.”

Cash testified to a sudden awareness of utter peace, clarity and sobriety overwhelming his mind and body.  He says, “There in Nickajack Cave I became conscious of a very clear, simple idea: I was not in charge of my destiny. I was not in charge of my own death. I was going to die at God’s time, not mine.”

This spiritual revival presented a new dilemma. Johnny had crawled in to die and no exit strategy existed. He had no earthly idea of which direction to crawl and utter darkness only intensified his confusion.

Driven by a simple urge to begin moving, Cash painstakingly crawled like a blind crab until he felt a faint breeze. Honing in on its direction, he crawled toward the breeze until it felt stronger. He crawled until a faint shade of light was sensed. Pulled toward the light like a dying man crossing over into eternity, Johnny finally surfaces.

Overjoyed with a second chance, Johnny finds his mother and June Carter parked by his Jeep with water and a basket of food. God had been leading them too!

On the long road back to Nashville, Johnny confessed, “God saved me from killing myself.” Johnny spoke sincerely of committing himself to God and doing whatever it would take to kick his drug habit. His promise turned to reality as he gradually regained his physical health and emotional well-being.

After destroying his first marriage, now a new man, Johnny married June Carter and little John Carter Cash was born on March 3, 1970. Life was getting much better!

Recording his Live at Folsom Prison album was a turning point for Cash’s career. The song had been a huge hit. Soon ABC television offered him The Johnny Cash Show. For two years, Johnny and June entertained as the show was taped at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Johnny invited guest singers from every genre of music – from Bob Dylan to Louis Armstrong and a lot of country in between.

The dark cave that Johnny crawled into represents a scary place – for most of us are just one step from stupid even on our best days. Over 40,000 people kill themselves in America each year. Many more are slowly crawling with feelings of hopelessness.

If Johnny could find a new reason for living, so can you! Job once said,

He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light (Job 33:28, ESV).

Johnny discovered “the light of world” and realized that he didn’t have to walk in darkness anymore! Life is better “saved, sober, and sane.”[i]

Only by the grace of God could Johnny Cash sing about Christmas!

 

Tis the Season to be Holy

December 21, 2016


By: Franklin Kirksey

Hebrews 12:1-29

Introduction

Tis the season to be holy.  During the Christmas season, we need to give serious thought to the question, “What good is it to be jolly if you are not holy?”

Actually, it is always the season to be holy.  Holiness never goes out of season!  Some like to observe a church calendar that focuses on holiness only at certain times of the year.  Others like to follow an austere pattern of life beyond what God commands in an attempt to be holy.  Still others like to compartmentalize their life into two categories—the secular and the sacred.  There is a major push to create a secular society in America.  Dr. Herbert Lockyer, Sr. (1886-1984) writes, “Well over one hundred years ago William Blake [1757-1827] urged his readers to ‘put off holiness, and put on intellect.’ But divorced from divine holiness, intellect is like a ship without a captain, and doomed to disaster.  In our quest for holiness the prayer must ever rise from our heart,

‘Take my intellect and use every power as Thou shalt choose.’”

Interestingly, a pastor inquired early this morning, “How can I pray for you?”

I asked him to pray for health, help, and holiness.  Holiness is not just a trivial pursuit.  Hebrews 12:14 reads, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the
Lord. . . .”  Holiness is essential!  In the Throne Room of Heaven you will hear four living creatures saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8). Revelation 21:22-27 reads, “But I saw no temple in it [the New Jerusalem], for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

Recently, I read about a television show currently in development using the term “Holy” in the title followed by an expletive.  Diana Chandler explains, “The Parents Television Council is urging ABC to drop plans to use profanity in the title of a television comedy series featuring a struggling church and its new pastor.”  John 15:18-25 reads, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’”  Hebrews 12:1-2 reads, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Notice three ways to relate to holiness in Hebrews 12.

Are you a partaker of holiness? Hebrews 12:3-13 reads, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” (Emphasis mine)

Are you a pursuer of holiness? Hebrews 12:14 reads, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” (Emphasis mine)  All believers should be in hot pursuit of holiness!  All believers have positional sanctification according to Romans 8:9b, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Therefore, when one believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he receives the Holy Spirit.  Writing to believers in Ephesians 4:30, Paul exhorts, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  We cannot be holy without the Holy Spirit!  Just as we read in Hebrews 11:6 related to faith, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Romans 10:17 reads, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Are you a profaner of holiness? A “profaner” is one who is “characterized by irreverence or contempt for God or sacred principles or things; irreligious” or “not devoted to holy or religious purposes; unconsecrated; secular.”  Hebrews 12:15-17 reads, “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.  For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” (Emphasis mine)  Esau decided that a bowl of beans was worth more than his spiritual birthright.  A poor bargain indeed!

Conclusion

Hebrews 12:18-29 reads, “For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: ‘And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.’ And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.’) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’ Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”  This reveals how seriously God takes holiness!  The evaluation of our worship, our work, and our worth will be based on God’s holiness. Therefore, we must ask the following questions:

Are you a partaker of holiness?

Are you a pursuer of holiness?

Are you a profaner of holiness?

Tis the season to be holy!

 

Clean Drinking Water and Wine in Bible Times

December 19, 2016

 

By David Brumbelow, Pastor
Author of “Ancient Wine and The Bible” and The Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow.”  He writes at gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com

 

This article originally appeared at the Gulf Coast Pastor blog and is used with permission.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills.  Deuteronomy 8:7 Continue reading

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