Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:32
I would go with my father to his office when I was a boy and it always thrilled me when he would say to all those in the office, “Have you met my son?” I felt a real sense of pride that dad wanted all of the people who worked with him to know his son. This jester never ended even after I became a man, it was always the same, “Have you met my son?” Later it was my joy to say to people, “Have you met my dad?” He visited me at all but two of the churches I pastored and in fact built furniture for most of them; he loved the churches and he loved knowing that his son was involved with their mission. I would take him with me to meetings and on visits to meet with members and I would always say, “Have you met my dad?” It was a wonderful feeling. I remember the day of his funeral a man who had worked with dad coming to pay his respects and when I introduced myself to him he said, ‘Why Mr. Ivan I be knowing you since you were a little boy and Mr. Raley would bring you down to the compress to meet all of us.’ That was one of the best visits I received that sad day in June of 1987. Just think someday in the glory of eternity Jesus will say to His Father, “Father, here is my friend, Ivan.” WOW! I am not sure that is the exact way it will happen, for I realize that I am not worthy of that much of His time, but Jesus did say His eyes were on the sparrows, Therefore I am certain that I will be in Heaven because the Father knows me through His Son, Jesus. I just hope that I have spent my life saying to others, both in words and in deeds, “Have you met my friend, Jesus?” Would it not be wonderful to have someone meet you in glory and say, “Thank you for introducing me to Jesus.”?
Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:32
He threw back the covers and put his feet on the floor, morning had come and it was time for him to start the day. He looked at the picture on the table beside his bed and remembered how young he was so long ago when it had been taken. He had just graduated from Annapolis and received his commission as an Ensign in the Navy. Like a number in his class they had been married the first week after graduation. Now more than sixty years later he remembered that day like yesterday. He touched the side of the bed where she had spent more than fifty years as his wife. She was gone, two years now and life seemed so lonely. He struggled to the bathroom, saw himself in the mirror and wondered who that old man could be. It took him more than an hour to get ready, when he was the Captain of his sub he could do it in two minutes but the years had taken their toll and now it was a real effort. He looked in the closet and noticed the uniform that he had not worn in twenty years. He put it on, it was too large, but the four gold stripes still glowed as bright as they had when he first became a four striper, Captain in the Navy. He walked to the small park near his high-rise, purchased a pack of peanuts, found a seat on a bench and started feeding the squirrels. The young boy broke from his mother and ran over to the bench and jumped up beside him. The mother started to call her son away, but he said it was ok. The boy asked him if he was a solider, he smiled, and said that he was like a solider but he was in the Navy. The boy asked if he had been on the great big boats and how it was. He told him that he had been on large boats but most of the time he was on a sub, a boat that went under the water. “Wow!” the boy said, “That had to be great down under the ocean. How did all the fish look when you were down so deep?” he asked. He laughed and said “Well we couldn’t see the fish because we didn’t have any windows in our subs.” “No window the boy said, “How did you get home it you couldn’t see out?” The old man smiled and explained to the boy that they had an instrument that they would tell that they wanted to go home and it would set the course for them and following it would get them home. The boy listed carefully and said, “You had God on your boat cause mommy told me that even if I couldn’t see God if I would follow Him he would always lead me just right.” The Captain said, “I think your mother is right son, yes we had God, and when you follow Him He will always lead you home.” The small boy jumped down and ran to tell his mother about the solider that had God on his boat. On his way home the Captain smiled as he remember the time with the boy and how right he was that God, even when you couldn’t see Him would always lead you home. That night the old Captain received new orders, ‘Time to go home.’ And true to His word God led him to his new home port even the one he could not see.
Yesterday, September 28, 2014 was my daughter Sandra’s birthday so I decided to use her as the subject of my blog for today. Sandra is a chosen child, I chose her when she was about four, beautiful, smart, and very shy, none of that has changed. The years have added to her maturity, she holds the degree of Doctor of Pharmacy from Sanford University in Birmingham, AL but more importantly she is a Christian wife and mother. I still remember those young days, like her first day at school, as soon as she came home she said that she was not going back to school, I asked why and she said you said I had to go, but you did not say that I had to keep on going, she was right I had forgotten that part but somehow made it through those early days and as you can tell she did continue. My first time to really remember her is when I took her to see Ridgeland Brothers Circus, she seemed to really enjoy the show but most of all she was thrilled with the animals. She seemed to always have some sort of pet as she was growing up and you never had to worry for she always did take wonderful care of them. I also remember that she came in the house one day saying that the cat was exploding, turned out that it was mommy cat and she was having her first litter of kittens. I also learned at the circus that she liked what she liked, for example if she wanted pink cotton candy, then blue did not work, made no difference if they tasted the same, it was pink or nothing. I think she is still much that way, not bad, just who she is. Sandra loves with all her heart her husband, Bill and son Isaac, you would never want to get between them and her, you would lose. I will always remember the wonderful ways she has expressed her love for me, if you were me you could see it from a mile away. I was saying something one day about getting old and how I would get along and she said in the lovely way that only a daughter could say, dad don’t worry about that I will take care of you, you will never have to worry.
Thanks Sandra for all of these years and thank you for sharing your love with me, I love you and hope you had a wonderful Birthday, Love, Dad.
And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:2
How do you smell to God? Strange question yet appropriate. When a father hugs his son after a hard fought football game, he does not smell the locker room odor, but rather the aroma of a well-played game, a battle on the field in which his son did his best. God says walk in my love and I will be pleased with the aroma. The first thing that hit me when I walked from the airplane into the terminal was a thousand unsold, unused deodorant bottles. It did not get better when I hugged my friend Jim Allen as he waited for me after going through customs. It stayed with me the hour ride to the school but as the week progressed; homes were visited, classes taught, games played, sermons preached and heads buried in my chest as people poured out their hearts as they gave their lives to Christ; I forgot all about the unsold, unused, packages of deodorant. Three weeks later as I walked into the terminal for my flight home the strong pungent odor of my first entrance was gone; now it was the hearts of those who came to see me leave, the tears shared, the hugs of brothers in Christ. There was Jim with a lifetime of service to our Lord, Marko, the nine year old who had adopted me as his American father, and Big Foots ball the leader of the soccer team. Not only could God smell the aroma of changed lives but my large nose picked up each of the drops of the long days, hot nights, and lives beginning again. Thanks Lord for the new nose.
Booker T. Washington told the story of his early life as a slave on a plantation in Virginia and how each morning long before day light an old rooster would wake him and all the other slaves by its crowing. It was an eternal reminder to all of them that they were slaves. The morning after word of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation reach them Washington said the rooster woke him but this time it was from his mother chasing the rooster around the barnyard with an ax. She caught that noisy fellow and fried him for lunch. As tough as he was the meal was still delicious for it celebrated their freedom and the reminder that they were slaves was gone forever. They were now a free people.
I can imagine that Peter each time he told the story of his denying the Lord would have liked to have caught that crowing rooster and put him to silence.
Maybe it is time for you to silence that ‘rooster’ in your life that reminds you of the sin that was once yours and the failures that have plague your life. Satan loves the roosters of this world which say to us; we are not worthy, we do not deserve to be forgiven, and that we are still guilty sinners. Satan delights in the smallest reminder that troubles our souls and worries our lives. He loves for us to feel guilty. Nothing breaks our joy and fellowship like the crowing rooster of a past failure. You destroy that rooster at the cross of Calvary where Christ paid for all of your sin and set you free for all of eternity. Don’t live in the hollow sounding cry of the rooster, receive the forgiveness of Jesus.
A Father, a Daughter and a Dog- A true story by Catherine Moore
“Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!” My father yelled at me. “Can’t you do anything right?”
Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn’t prepared for another battle. I saw the car, Dad. Please don’t yell at me when I’m driving.” My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt. Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts….. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What could I do about him? Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon. He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess. The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn’t lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn’t do something he had done as a younger man. Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived. But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor’s orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone. My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and the rustic atmosphere would help him adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counselling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad’s troubled mind. But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it. The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, “I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article.” I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had proved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog. I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels the odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world’s aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed. Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hip bones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly. I pointed to the dog. “Can you tell me about him?” The officer looked, and then shook his head in puzzlement. “He’s a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we’ve heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow.” He gestured helplessly. As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. “You mean you’re going to kill him?” “Ma’am,” he said gently, “that’s our policy. We don’t have room for every unclaimed dog.” I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. “I’ll take him,” I said. I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch… “Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!” I said excitedly. Dad looked, and then wrinkled his face in disgust. “If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don’t want it” Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house. Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. “You’d better get used to him, Dad. He’s staying!” Dad ignored me. “Did you hear me, Dad?” I screamed. At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw. Dad’s lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal. It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet. Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad’s bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne’s cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father’s room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night. Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad’s bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad’s peace of mind. The morning of Dad’s funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog that had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” “I’ve often thanked God for sending that angel,” he said. For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article… Cheyenne’s unexpected appearance at the animal shelter ….his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father. And the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.
Life is too short for drama or petty things, so laugh hard, love truly and forgive quickly. Live While You Are Alive. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second time.
Moments in the Master’s Land
At the Sea of Galilee
Now and then life gives to us one of those moments for which we have longed. As a boy it was a simple fishing trip with my dad, fishing from a boat near Pickwick dam, spending the night at my grandparent’s house in Dyersburg. Later it was standing dressed in United States Navy blues and receiving the honors as our colors were marched on the parade field before us. Too many others to count but in recent days it was standing in the land of my Master, realizing that Jesus had walked these roads, climbed these hills, and road in a boat across this great lake. Our trip to Israel was a dream from my early childhood that waited until my closing years to come to reality. As a boy I looked at the pictures in the bible and wondered what the land really looked like, very little resembled the pictures of my childhood bible. Now I have been there and I share these Moments in the Master’s Land with you.
Moments by the Sea:
For our first six days we stayed in Tiberius on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. While the city is only mentioned once in the bible the sea served as a central part of much of Jesus’ ministry.
I sat in the dark one night and listened as the waters of the sea lapped against the wall which protected our hotel from erosion. Far across to its eastern shore you could see the lights of Jordan, on the sea itself were fishing boats searching for their catch in the light of the full moon. I wondered if it were somewhere near here that Jesus took a boat across to the other side to teach the people. Maybe it was close by that He walked to his disciples as they trembled in their boat during a storm. Somewhere on that sea Jesus had slept in a boat while his disciples feared for their lives because of the storm. It was here that he told them where to cast their nets so that they would have fish aplenty. From this sea he called a fish to bring him a coin so that he might pay his taxes. By this sea in his resurrected body he prepared breakfast for his disciples and told them in the early morning hours to cast over there for a great school of fish and then to drag them to shore and join him in a seaman’s breakfast.
Looking across that great sea I could almost hear the Master saying, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
I took a couple of days off last week and drove down to Mississippi to visit with daughter Mary and her family then up to Memphis to visit with son Vann and family. I had a wonderful time but by the time I left O Charlie’s I was worn out, the more than 400 miles had taken their toll and my missed nap had capped the day off with a great need for sleep. I decided that instead of driving 400 more miles I would find me a bargain hotel and get a fresh start the next morning. About 11 I found the deal of the night a room at a national chain motel for $39.95, I had it made. I checked in got my key and went to the room as I opened the door I realized that someone had used the room and left it in a real mess, so back to the office and sharing with the night clerk, he apologized and gave me a key to another room, opened it up and yep, all had been made up, so I got my overnight bag and started to settled in; the air condition was not on but that is not so unusual, I checked the unit, front was missing no button to push but I was not to be beaten, searching to make sure it was plugged in I noticed an overload button by the outlet, bingo, it started, the temp was set at 60 and since there were no buttons, what the heck, better to be too cool than too hot, so now for the television, puncher would not turn it on but I am a master at this, I found a red button on the back and yep, you are right, it came on, now the puncher worked and it was full of channels, some were pale but plenty worked and I only need one to put me to sleep so ok, I have it made, air and TV, then I checked the bed, looked clean, turned down the cover all looked ok, but the floor, the floor was something else so I am back at the office, asked for a number of towels, got them, back to the room I now have a new floor, I am on the go. Got the Ice Bucket, the Ice machine worked, I am in business, coke vendor, not working, but I am not to be beaten there is a service station next door, cokes, candy bar, pack of chips and I am ready for the night. The door seemed a bit unsteady so I put both chairs in front of it made sure if anyone tried to open it they would get jammed against the wall and would not open, odor was a bit strange in the room, maybe it was the new Colorado smell, you know what they call grass, but not sure, never tried it, but was told once that it was what I was smelling so think it might have been the grass of Colorado. Hit the bed found something boring on TV, drink coke, ate chips and candy fell asleep an other than a banging on the door at about two, I said, ‘wrong room go away’, they did, morning came, no hot water, free breakfast, not sure what you would have called it but I had enjoyed all of the $39.95 Bargain I could stand, so off to home with a pledge that I would miss the next $39.95 Bargain. My wife had no sympathy with my night, said that is what I get for being cheap. My advice to you, if you are driving down interstate 40 and you see a sign that says rooms $39.95, just keep on going. Ivan
Like most kids I started a lot of projects when I was young. I raised rabbits, man I had a lot of rabbits in a very short time but got too attached to them and didn’t want to kill them to sell to the market that said they would buy them, dead and cleaned. So I just ended up with a lot of rabbits and a large feed bill. I once raised pigeons for the New Southern Hotel, of course dad had to do the dressing of those and they are not really nice birds in their bathroom habits, A lot of upkeep and very little money in pigeon farming. I raised butter beans one year and had a fight with a mother hen who encouraged her chicks to dig in my beans. She won the battle by flogging me. Butter beans are not worth a flogging to an eight year old boy. Then I decided to raise radishes one year and planted them in a very nice place in my back yard. Being about ten at the time I was very anxious for them to grow so I kept pulling them up to check on them and make sure their progress was good. By the time harvest came I had only a few that had not been ‘killed’ by my effort to encourage them to grow. I am certainly please that God does not do us that way. I am sure there are times when He wishes to snatch us up by the hair, but thankfully, He gives us another day and another opportunity. In a world that is unfair and where we see people who are doing wrong come out like they are the ‘good guys’ it is very easy to become discouraged and give up, just stop. Join the crowd and let our stand for right either change or be hidden. However His word says don’t stop: keep on and in time the harvest will come. God gives us opportunity after opportunity, His love and His kindness is wrapped in His forgiveness and time after time He allows us to start over. ‘I want to thank you Lord for having loving patience with me and not giving up on me when I am difficult and unprofitable and not worth the effort, because if you did I would not have a chance at being your child.’
Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a man’s true value could be known by those who know him at the time of his living? How nice it would also be if he were aware of their feelings. But then that is not the way with life but it is the way with Christ. Jesus shared with His followers that while sparrows were very cheap to purchase they were still so important that God always knew when they perished. Then he reminded them that they were much more important than many sparrows. A man lives his life, does his best, follows the calling of God and in the best way he knows how he finishes the course, completes his task and then grows old. No one ever notices the task, the finished path, and the worth of the old man. Somewhere people care for his body as his mind covers its self with fog and fades into the shadow as just another of the very old who must be cared for until death claims them. Really does seem a bit of a shame that no one ever says, “You really did well.” Maybe as Christians one of our callings would be to honor the value of other, to learn the attitude of gratitude and express it to those whom we meet. It may seem like a small thing but what about the young man who carries out your groceries, the nurse who attends to you while you wait for the doctor, the child who looks up with those beautiful innocent eyes, just a hello, thank you, what’s your name. Who knows it could really make someone’s day. I still have a letter that a man, complete stranger, sent me when my picture was in the newspaper for an award I received in school. Maybe his secretary sent the letter, I don’t know and it does not matter for when it came along with the article out of the paper and his words of friendship and congratulations it made my day and now all these years later I still remember that moment. We think little of sparrows but Jesus is touched by the death of each. Let us learn to be thankful and grateful to the point that it shows in our lives.