The Man Called Cash

Johnny Cash
1932-2003

My favorite musical artist of all time is Johnny Cash. You will find frequent mention of him on my blog, Linda Kruschke’s Blog.

There are only a handful of his songs that I don’t like. Of course, I love all the gospel music he recorded. But I also love everything from Cry, Cry, Cry to Cocaine to T for Texas to Hung My Head to his rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt and Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus. His music covers the whole spectrum of real human existence. Many of his songs bring tears to my eyes every time I hear them.

But as great as his music is, the reason I love Johnny Cash has just as much to do with his life and his witness to the grace and redemptive power of Christ. I have read two of his biographies and several essays about him in a book of collected essays. I also have a graphic novel about his life that I recently purchased (though I haven’t read it yet), and have read the introduction to his novel The Man in White. He lived a fascinating and tumultuous life.

For anyone interested in the life of a legend who is nonetheless an incredibly “real” person with struggles and trials just like the rest of us, I recommend The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love, and Faith of an American Legend by Steve Turner. This book is a meticulously researched and well-written account from which even those who knew Johnny well would likely learn something about him that they didn’t know before. Starting almost at the end, with the death of June Carter, and then winding his way through the early years, the middle years, and everything in between, Turner reveals a man who knew God as only a sinner can.

This book includes two awesome sections of black and white photos from Johnny’s life, as well as the unedited text of an interview Turner conducted with Johnny in 1988, a chronology of June and Johnny’s lives, a complete discography, and an index. But these are all just icing on the cake of a story that will bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your heart.

One of my favorite stories of redemption is about the time Johnny crawled into Nickajack Cave, thirty miles from Chattanooga, with the plan to never come out.

He believed that if he crawled in far enough, he’d be unable to find his way out. When he starved to death it would look like a tragic accident.”

In 1995 he [Johnny] told the writer Nick Tosches:

“It just felt like I was at the end of the line. I was down there by myself and I got to feelin’ that I’d taken so many pills that I’d done it, that I was gonna blow up or something. I hadn’t eaten in days, I hadn’t slept in days, and my mind wasn’t workin’ too good anyway. I couldn’t stand myself anymore. I wanted to get away from me. And if that meant dyin’, then okay, I’m ready. I just had to get away from myself. I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I didn’t think there was any other way. I took a flashlight with me, and I said, I’m goin’ to walk and crawl and climb into this cave until the light goes out, and then I’m gonna lie down. So I crawled in there with that flashlight until it burned out and I lay down to die. I was a mile in that cave. At least a mile. But I felt this great comfortin’ presence sayin’, “No, you’re not dyin’.” I got things for you to do. So I got up, found my way out. Cliffs, ledges, drop-offs. I don’t know how I got out, ‘cept God got me out.

Turner, pg. 119.

And God did have things for Johnny to do. He had to show the world how even someone as strung out on drugs as he was could be redeemed by the grace of God. He had to show that despite our faults and weaknesses – or maybe because of them – God loves each and every one of us. He may have been a music legend, but he was never afraid to use his talent to glorify God and to share the gospel. His was a life of redemption and grace well worth reading about. If you think your life isn’t worth living or that God can’t possibly love you or redeem you, read about the life of one who was chief among sinners but who was saved by grace.

As a bonus to go along with this book review of his biography I want to share this video of the song “Singer of Songs” by Johnny Cash. It is a great synopsis of the purpose God had for his life and how he fulfilled it. He truly was a singer of songs about life, love, death, birth, God, and more. I suspect he’s still singing today at the throne of the King.

Love you, Linda K.

Perception: Do We Truly Want Truth?

Colorful-Eye

“They tell the seers, “Stop seeing visions!” They tell the prophets, “Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies.”

Isaiah 30:10, NLT

“Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

Matthew 16:23

I’m blending two verses together. (And that’s dangerous in itself.) But either one is worthy of a commentary (or even two.) But nevertheless, “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Sometimes we venture into danger, and even our guardian angels are reluctant to follow us.

Both of these verses deal with “seeing.” In Isaiah’s day, the people deliberately asked the prophets to “dial it back a notch.” They attempted to influence them to be more “politically correct,” and come up with a more improved message– one that made them feel good and complete in themselves.

“Speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions,” (ESV)  It’s rather odd to me, that they esteemed the prophets in a strange way, yet desperately wanted them to “sanitize” their message. They wanted reassurance, but not repentance. They wanted to shape the message, without infringing on the office.

flourish2

In the Gospels, we read of Peter’s effort to “guide” Jesus along His way. Peter truly believes that he must pilot the Lord through some weird ideas– like suffering, for one. In verse 22 we see that Peter had the sudden and incredible boldness to “rebuke” Jesus. Peter’s agenda made absolutely no room for the cross of Jesus Christ.

How funny. In verses 16-17 of this very same chapter, Peter is truly a substantial rock in a rising surf. Peter aligns himself with God’s will and purpose. Peter declares the true identity of Jesus for all to hear. But, just give him just five verses– he will change, and it will be embarrassingly obvious.

Today we realize that the passion of Jesus is our true and only focal point. The death of Jesus on the cross is our singular hope. And I’m so glad Mr. Peter, the great Apostle blew this one. (When in heaven, when I do meet him– I intend to give him a massive hug.)

flourish2

Both verses seem to have a common denominator. I suppose that its the idea is of “perception.” How do we understand Him? How do we perceive the Presence of God, in our hearts? Without a willingness to reach Him. we will be lost.

We may advance through this, but we take on along many confusions. Darkness in itself is disturbing. There are far too many issues, and we absorb far too many concerns. All we can really do, is to rest in all that is goodness, we turn to him and settle into his dear graciousness.

If we can’t perceive truth and reality, we can become very much lost.

Hell and Hope

inferno

Sometimes, I feel like a tour guide for believers that are walking through hell. I point out the different strugglers, and urge each one not to linger too long but to keep moving. We look on those trapped (they have no hope within them) but we hope that they are yet to reach out for the Savior. It is distressing, and yet somehow we understand them just a little bit.

Our journey out and down each sad corridor can be painfully disturbing for us. There are so many different types of prisons and chains used to confine and control. Dante wrote his “Inferno” (Italian, for hell), and somehow he in some curious way walks through the different levels (varieties) of hell with us. Virgil (Dante’s own tour guide) takes Dante through some pretty hairy stuff, and they pass through the very gate, which bears an inscription, of the infamous phrase “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate“, or “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Our own rescue from this dreadful place is based on that singular word, “hope”. Somehow, hope has distilled inside us, and that alone can enable us to walk out as the freed. We have chosen not to abandon hope, but to use it as our passport out of the bottom of hell itself. We show it to each guardian, and then pass through without any hinderance.

  • And so at last the poor have hope. (Job 5:16)
  • Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. (Job 11:18)
  • Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. (Ps. 10:17)
  • All day long I put my hope in you. (Ps. 25:5)
  • Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone. (Ps. 33:22)
  • O Lord, you alone are my hope. (Ps. 71:5)
  • Your word is my source of hope. (Ps. 119:114)
  • “Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance— all who seek the Lord!” (Isa. 51:1)
  • And his name will be the hope of all the world.” (Matt. 12:21)
  • Even when there was no reason for hope, “Abraham kept hoping.” (Rom. 4:18)
  • We, too, wait with eager hope. (Rom. 8:23)
  • Rejoice in our confident hope. (Rom. 12:12)
  • The Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait. (Rom. 15:4)
  • Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love. (1 Cor. 13:13)
  • That you can understand the confident hope he has given us. (Eph. 1:18)
  • Our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all. (1 Tim. 4:10)
  • In order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. (Heb. 6:11)
  • This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. (Heb. 6:19)
  • Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm. (Heb. 10:23)
  • They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. (Heb. 11:35)
  • You have placed your faith and hope in God. (1 Pet. 1:21)
  • If someone asks about your Christian hope. (1 Pet. 3:15)

I suppose we must say (it’s clear) that hope is what sets us free from the difficulty that rests in our minds. Whatever DSM-IV has branded us, whatever a psychiatrist has declared us to be, and whatever our therapist has told us– our hope, that’s in Christ, will open all doors that are closed and locked.

Hope really is the Christian’s freedom from hell. Those of us who have been freed from our incarceration from our mental illness are amazingly liberated. I know the lostness of being very much lost. But hope is everything. When our hope somehow connects with Jesus, our souls are set free. We walk out of hell, with our souls soaring clean.

kyrie elesion, Bryan

*

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

ice-cream3

Sometimes, God’s Word is like an ice cream parlor. It has 66 flavors (books) and selecting a scoop is really hard. Should I have Psalms, or Matthew? What about special toppings? Of course, Revelation can be an acquired taste– but a scoop is truly heavenly.

Maybe I’ll get crazy, and have a double scoop; possibly Ecclesiastes and James, with sprinkles– but on a waffle cone? I don’t think so.  Ah decisions, decisions– what’s a guy to do? Sometimes the person behind the counter will cheerfully give you a taste test. (But after giving you several samples, they seem to catch on.) :-)

Now I know the Bible is really far more than an ice cream shop. Jesus once said, “My words are Spirit and Life.” What more can you say to that?

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17, NLT

I suppose this a serious matter. I will not trivialize it. The inspired scripture corrects us, and teaches us. It connects with us on so many levels, doing a comprehensive “all-points inspection.” It should be our first action, and our last stop. The Christian must make it his prime concern, or deal with the consequences of a barren life.

The essential idea I suppose, is connecting with a scripture portion that has been saturated with the Holy Spirit’s presence, just for me. But, if I don’t read it, I’m putting myself outside God’s primary way to change me. And that is sad. He gives me so much, and ignore it.

But I can’t lament how terrible my life is, if I cut myself off from all that can save me. If a physician writes out a prescription for my pneumonia, I must take my medicine if I’m going to heal. I shouldn’t expect to get well if I don’t take my meds.

flourish-65

Some Quotes:

“The Word of God is creative. It is a hammer that crushes the hardness of our insubordination. It is medicine that heals the brokenhearted. And it is light that gives us guidance and hope on our way.” — John Piper

“This Book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s character. Here paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object; our good is its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully.” —Anonymous

&

kyrie elesion, Bryan

(Lord, have mercy on me)
 
 
A fun menu to drool over– http://www.themoosecafe.com/menus/
%d bloggers like this: