We Need

In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility.  Titus 2:7

Boy we need a lot of this today.   Now I can’t do anything about another person but I sure can do something about me.

Carl and Jennie was a really neat couple. They had very little of this worlds goods but they had a lot of God in them.

I remember when they went without Christmas one year because Carl had promised the doctor that had cared for their second child that he would have him paid before the New Year. It required a sacrifice but they kept their word.

Now Carl never ran for office, was never an important leader of any organization and his OB in the newspaper was about five lines. But Carl and Jennie left three children who have made a wonderful mark on the lives of others.

One son is a minister, not of a great and large church, but of a church where God called him and where he serves faithfully. Their youngest son runs an auto repair shop and everyone knows that he does great and honest work and he charges a reasonable price. The daughter is married to a local doctor and makes certain that even the elderly feel welcomed and important in their clinic.

I guess you would say that Carl and Jennie were great ‘showers’ of the Work of God.

Ivan

Published in: on August 21, 2016 at 8:48 pm  Comments (2)  

What Others See

But be doers of the word and not hearers only.  James 1:22

All of us know that what we do speaks louder than what we say.

James as he writes this wonderful letter reminds his readers that while he knows we are saved by grace he also knows that it is very difficult for those outside of the faith to understand. He then tells us that our faith and the grace we have should be visible through our actions.

You don’t have to wonder which team a cheerleader is for, all you have to do is watch them, listen to them, and see very clearly which team they are rooting for. Why is it not that way with our Christian faith?

Our words, our activities, our desires, and all that we do that is seen by others should become a wonderful book that others can read of our love and faith in God. It is very hard for people to see our hearts except through our actions. So let it be our desire to be a glowing witness unto others of the ‘grace’ we have received and the ‘faith’ we have in and from Jesus.

Ivan

Published in: on August 18, 2016 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

He Left a Pathway

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Psalm 37:23

Columbus held out to the very end that it was God who had directed him to the ‘New World ‘. His was a life that found directions and followed them.

In his diaries and other writings Columbus told of dreams and visions that directed him to sail west. He certainly did not know he was going to a new land but he knew that it was west that he needed to sail.

Many people today tell of others who came to America long before Columbus. Maybe they did but the difference in those who came before is that they did not return and bring others. Think of this, he may not have been the first but he was the one that encouraged others to follow, who told of his journey, and who made a number of other trips and left a pathway that others could follow. It was Columbus who held high the banner of a better world, a new land, and a hope with which to fill the dreams of others. Thus they came and this ‘new land’ became the hope and dream of Europe.

I for one am glad that he went back and encouraged my family to come to the new world. I am grateful that in the providence of God I was born in America. I have been on four other continents and in a number of other countries but I have never found any place that I would rather live than in America.

I am not an explorer, I do not carve pathways across mountains and chart journeys through the ocean but I hope that my life has left a pathway that others may follow and in following find a better way to live. By some word or deed a sign post pointing to ‘His way’ has been set in the hearts of people.

Ivan

 

Published in: on August 17, 2016 at 9:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Choosing the Hard Way

If given the choice most people choose the easiest and simplest way to accomplish a task. It certainly makes sense, saves time, and gets you on to the enjoyment of the day. Yet now and then a challenge needs to be faced, a task needs to be done in the best way and an example set for others.

Jesus and His disciples were making the journey to Jerusalem and most people would have chosen to go up the Jericho river valley. It was safer, easier, and provided more availability of food and water.  But Jesus said to His disciples that He needed to go through Samaria.

Now you could just imagine their anxiety when He made this announcement. ‘Lord just look out at that wilderness, that’s not a good choice. Robbers are there, the road is terrible, there is no water and it is just plain old hard.

When I visited Israel I sat on the hillside looking out across the great wilderness of Jericho. Unlike our wilderness; it was barren, filled with great stones, deep sand, hard winds, and heat, unbearable heat. But Jesus knew that at the ancient well of Jacob outside the small village of Sychar a woman would be there in the heat of the day drawing water for her family. This woman needed to meet Jesus.  Her future in this world and her eternal future depended on that meeting.

So Jesus choose the hard way, endured the heat, stumbled over the stones and grew weary of the journey because He knew this worthless woman needed to see her value and discover her potential future. That meeting with Jesus changed her life and in fact changed the future of an entire city.

The next time you are tempted to cut church, not read your bible, skip your prayer time or let the TV entertain your children. Remember this wilderness that Jesus faced for the value of a worthless person. Choose your path carefully, spend your time wisely, and allow your family to enjoy you even if it seems like a wilderness. Who knows it could change a lifetime.

Published in: on August 15, 2016 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mom Had a Good Nose

When I was about 10 Johnnie Barber and I decided that we would smoke a cigar. We each purchased a large Tampa Nugget and went way down in the back of my house behind my dad’s work shop and smoked those cigars as fast as we could.

I mean we did not waste a moment, we puffed, we pulled, we tried to blow smoke out of our noses and to blow smoke rings but most of what we did was coughed and coughed and puffed and puffed. Long before the cigars were gone we were gone.

Johnnie went to his house and me to my house. I was green, sick, dizzy, and in a state of death for sure. The moment I ran in the house my mother said, “Sonny you have been smoking.”  I didn’t bother to answer I just headed to the bathroom and then to my room, I was nearing the pearly gates and they didn’t look too pearly, only looked smoky.

When the sickness finally left I tried my best to figure out how mother knew. I was not smart enough to know that since no one in our family smoked that she could smell me coming up the back walk. But I always waked a bit cautious about my mother for I just knew she had x-ray vision and mind reading skills. Johnnie survived the test of manhood as well and life on Lindsey Street moved forward. By the way God does have x-ray vision and mind reading comes natural to Him.

Published in: on August 14, 2016 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

For Jim Allen

Sixty-three years ago in August, I promised God that I would serve Him through any door which He would open. I did that in front of my friend, Jim Allen, on the sawdust floor of the old chapel at Camp Linden when I was 15 years of age. I wrote this before Jim died in 2011; I share it now in his memory.

They take good care of him. They keep him clean, make sure that he receives his medication, and eats as much of his meals as he can. He sleeps a lot, sits in a wheel chair, head bowed, eyes sometimes opened, sometimes closed.

No one is sure what travels through his mind, how much he knows and how much he understands of what he hears. Sometimes he smiles and his eyes almost reach out and touch you but most of the time they just focus on something far away.

It could be that they focus on what no one in the care center knows about. Life in Brazil, touching others for Christ, telling the old, old story of the love and care of Jesus to those who would have never known.

Maybe they focus on the ‘Rain Forest’ of Belize, the Mayan Indians, or those in refugee camps who once heard his voice, responded to his Father’s Message and saw in Christ their hope of eternity? Maybe it was some of the boys from the school where he taught beside the Belmopan River.

They learned to read, add and subtract a bit, know about their countries history, and the love which the Heavenly Father has for them. Are could it be the dirty villages of Mexico, the tent meetings, showings of the Jesus Film, and the bright eyes of the teens coming to know the Lord?

His thoughts might even be of someone like you who sent him a letter, said a prayer, gave a gift, and now like so many others have vanished somewhere into the far away memory.

Thanks Jim for your life.

Published in: on August 11, 2016 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Am Afraid

I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

Sometimes I am so afraid; help me God to stay focused on you. I have spent many Sunday nights wondering if I said the right thing, forgot something that was important, didn’t make myself clear and too many others fears for the space.

To most these would not seem important but to a minister these are like giant arrows of flames. Then there are the others, will there be enough money to pay all the bills, enough time to finish, enough knowledge to teach once more and more.

I am sure these are not your fears but all of our fears are cooked in the same pot over the same flaming fire of the enemy. While the fears we each face are different the result of those fears can be the same.

Blessing that we could share with other withheld and blessing to our own lives unknown because we never moved forward. We can be paralyzed by our fears, held back from success, and left in broken relationships. Not only are our lives affected the lives of countless others will also be harmed.

Fears keep us from trying, from reaching out, and from touching lives that need to be touched. The fear of rejection and failure can cause us not to try, to hold back and to remain unused in His service. I wish I had a simple answer to remove the flames from this pot or somehow rid my head and heart of these fears. After all of these years I must confess that I sometimes still suffer from these paralyzing fears.

Sometimes sleep will not come and rest cannot be found and joy sails always like a small boat in a swift wind. I still have not learned and mastered the solution. I have only one answer, “God you know me, you know my heart and my dreams, help me to know that in you I find my peace. That in you I can do the job you call me to do. Show me that job and give my heart the courage to follow through. Forgive my failures and somehow remind me of the success that comes in you.”

Ivan

Published in: on August 10, 2016 at 11:49 pm  Comments (2)  

The Journey was Over

The Journey Was Over

They left the visitors center his holding the piece of paper with the information he had asked for tightly in his hand. His son helped him down the two steps and the two wives and two men walked toward the entrance to the American Cemetery at Normandy.

When they arrived at the entrance his wife put her hand on his shoulder and asked softly, ‘Do you want to go alone?’ His reply had been yes so she and their daughter in law stayed at the entrance while his son helped him as he walked down the side walk that separated the great areas of green grass cover with white crosses.

He looked at the directions on the piece of paper and asked his son to point the correct way, he did and the old Colonel walked slowly toward the grave as his son stood back and watched. There he was in his full dress uniform standing as tall and strong as the years would allow him. Even though he had remained in the army for almost thirty years after the battle fought on this site, he had never returned to stand with the more than 10,000 crosses of this sacred place.

He removed his hat and said softly, Sarge, it’s me, Lt. Charlie that 90 days wonder that you led up this beach on that Tuesday morning in 1944. Been a long time my old friend Roger, but never a day has gone by that I did not think of you and that June morning.

Sorry it has taken me so long to get here, been more than 50 years now as you helped me make it from that ‘Higgins Boat’ up that cliff and across this green grass to our first hedge row. I never did forgive you for getting killed on me at that impossible row of hedges, but I always loved you Sarge and I always knew that you made me into the man that I became on that Tuesday of June 1944.

As you can see I stayed in the Army for almost thirty years, retired in 1973, and here we are together again at this place we called victory and now it is 2004. I made Colonel before I retired, took one in the butt at the battle of the Bulge, another in the shoulder in Korea, but they missed me in Vietnam. That was a bad one Sarge, spent almost 60,000 men and never made a beach head. I Got out after that battle of blood, worked a bit for the Army as a consultant, did some teaching at our local college and by the way raised me one great son, that’s him standing over there, just like a good orderly.

Guess I better go now Sergeant Roger but I just had to come and thank you for those months of training and that Tuesday of June 1944. Thank you old friend, thank you. He put his hat on, saluted the white cross and with tears flowing like rain took his son’s arm, the journey was over.

 

Published in: on August 9, 2016 at 10:23 pm  Comments (2)  

Friends

Friends

Amazing how friends are, I had not seen Bill Rowell for ten years plus but as I turned into the gate at the cemetery in Jackson, Tennessee, there he was standing near where my parents are buried and where my sister was going to be buried that day.

Bill had read in the paper that our family was gathering for my sister’s grave side service and he was the very first one there.

He is a couple of years younger than I am but we played together a lot on Lindsey Street and were great friends in that East Jackson community. His father was younger than the rest of our dads so he was still playing ball and active in sports and Bill became a really good ball player.

Bill has remained in Jackson and retired a few years ago and has certainly kept up with all the guys and girls of Lindsey. We spent all the time we could we me asking him about all the old gang, what a joy and how very wonderful it was that he knew so much about each of us.

No one can understand how great it made me feel to see Bill standing there like a long lost friend, all the flowers and all the notes could never have blessed me like his smile and the hug we shared.

Don’t you just love friends?

Ivan

Published in: on August 8, 2016 at 10:34 pm  Comments (1)  

Morning Would Not Come

In The Morning

He had spent so much of his life taking care of her that now that she was gone he did not know what to do.

He had put all other relations on hold and held on to his mother and driven by her need his life had moved forward leaving all of those who once knew him in another world.

No courting for him, no relations, not even casual, his mother was so jealous that his life was never normal, never his, always driven by her needs and desires.

,He walked away from the cemetery and it was so different than he had believed it would be, he was sure he would feel a freedom, a release, a weight removed, but it was not so, he wasn’t even sure which way to turn from the entrance of her resting place.

There was nothing to do now, no one to tell him all of their ills and all of their fears, it wasn’t freedom it was just a different room in a different jail.

He sit on the bed and pulled off his shoes and decided that tonight he would really sleep. None of her fearful screams to wake him, none of her demands for water, food, nothing; but sleep would not come the house was too empty, the lack of noise left it feeling dreadfully cold and empty.

Maybe in the morning, the new day would bring direction, hope, plans and life; but in his heart he knew it would not for his world had been wrapped around her and she took the key to life when she left. Morning would not come.

Ivan

Published in: on August 7, 2016 at 9:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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