Love Never Fails

Walter Montgomery and his wife of 71 years sat across the table from one another and enjoyed their breakfast. Walter was 93, Lillian, his wife was 89. Sara their 65 year old daughter poked her head in the kitchen through the door leading to the garage and asked if her mom was ready to go to the bible study at church.

Lillian responded with an assurance that it would be just a moment for she needed to brush her teeth and make sure her hair was presentable. Sara hugged her dad, asked him how he had slept and what his plans were for the morning. He told her that it had been a great night and he was going to clean up the dishes and listen to David Jeremiah on the radio and then he said he might take a short walk out to the Koi pond in the back yard and feed his pet fish.

Sara laughed and said that he was going to spoil those fish and get them too large for the pond with his daily trips to see that they were fed. They both laughed as Lillian walked in the room and said she was ready; she got her bible from the counter walked over to Walter and kissed him as she had done almost every morning for seventy one years.

She instructed him to just leave the dishes and to be careful and take his cane if he went out to feed the fish. He laughed and said, “You still enjoy telling me what to do, don’t you? I hope you know how much I love you and how wonderful these years have been. I will behave.”

She kissed him again and she and Sara left for bible study. Theirs had been a good life, like most other people it had its deep rivers and tall mountains. He had pastored churches for some fifty years and these last few years he had enjoy listing to others and wishing he had said that.

They enjoyed the small home that provided them with some assisted living needs as well as the privacy they both needed. Now and then he would hear from a former church member, but like most of his friends he had outlived so many of them that there were not many left who remembered him.

Walter adjusted the radio, got his bible and decided to let the dishes go until after Dr. David Jeremiah. The moment he felt it he knew what it was, it didn’t scare him like he had expected it to do. He pushed his chair back and placed his bible on his chest. Dr. Jeremiah was his usual ‘great’ but Walter never heard him finish, he heard another voice, a sweet, loving voice that said in the softest tone, “Time Walter, its time.”

Ivan

Published in: on February 11, 2016 at 10:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Wrong Room

I realized I was in the wrong room as soon as I saw the patient. He was much older than the man I was looking for and he was, by his appearance much sicker. I apologize for coming into the wrong room but the man said, “No sir, you are in the right room. I have been waiting for you, this is the right room. Will you hear my confession?” Now I was really confused but I took his hand and said, “Certainly, but I really think you want God to hear your confession.” I know”, he responded, “but I have been waiting all day for someone to pray with me. I want to know that I am saved.” I took the open bible from his bed, turned to Romans and we walked through the wonderful road to the cross. Then I turned to First John 5:13 and putting it into my own words said, ‘this was written so that you can know that you are saved and have eternal life.’

I was on my knees having prayed with him and now listing to him pray when I sense someone enter the room. When he finished I turned and the nurse said, “Thank God you came, he has been asking for you all day, thank you, thank you.”   I spoke with her a moment, tried to explain that I was in the wrong room but through his shouts of joy and her excitement she never understood. Then I kissed him on his forehead, and prayed again. Tears flowed down his face and onto the pillow. He shouted again, the nurse wept, and I slipped out of the room with her saying, “You didn’t come to the wrong room, you are here because God sent you.” St. Thomas Hospital November 11, 2009

Published in: on February 10, 2016 at 10:36 pm  Comments (1)  

Say Thank You

Do you have an Attitude of Gratitude?

Mother would always ask me when someone had done something for me, ‘Did you say thank you?’ I believe it was a measure of goodness to my mother.

When you begin to list what you like about people an attitude of gratitude will be on that list. I have worked with people who did not know the word, ‘thank you’ and some of them have had a lot of lovely qualities but without gratitude they always came across stiff, selfish, and unreasonable.

I noticed this past weekend how many people expressed their gratitude; often it was for a simple act of kindness; mother would have called it good manners. As most of you know I wear a hat most of the time, it looks like a Greek fisherman’s cap, so when I would enter the elevator and a lady was present, I would always remove my hat, a couple of them smiled and as they got off of the elevator said, ‘Thank You,’ I had done nothing special, just practiced what my parents and teachers had taught me more than sixty years ago. But you know something, I like the way they said it and also the very fact that they would have noticed. Gratitude like love can cover a multitude of wrongs. When what you do is appreciated and people say so it really makes a difference. Your heart is warmer, your feelings glow, and your gratitude begins to show. So gratitude goes both ways and touches both parties and maybe even others who just overhear the expression.

Work to see how many people you can say ‘thank you’ to today. It just might make others smile and you nicer.

Ivan

 

Published in: on February 10, 2016 at 7:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Memories

Thanks for the Memories

Sunday, February 7th I started my 15th year with the Family at Byrdstown First Baptist. Those who have been here from the start have heard me preach more than 1,700 times, some should be very weary, but for me it has been a wonderful time and I shall forever be indebted to them.

As one of our children played the prelude Sunday and another one sung the solo I realized that they have never known another pastor. I am not sure that has been good for them but it has been wonderful for me.

Of course those first several years I was the interim and commuted back and forth to the Children’s Home in Nashville, then in 2006 it became full time. In so many ways it seems like yesterday, but when I look in the mirror I see that the years have passed, and time has taken its toll.

I use to never miss a ballgame, but it is harder now, and I miss the wonderful youth of our community running the field and court. Because of a funeral last week I missed Bryant Gibson making that great dunk, but I can say I knew him when. . . I also missed Noah’s $500 shot, wow I wonder if he will buy me a Sunday, Ice cream that is.

Someone asked me Monday when I was going to retire, a good question, ‘Not today’, I said but really I do not know the answer.

I love our First Baptist Family, and I love our Upper Cumberland community; both have been very good to me. Our church is generous to me and also shares close to 40% of its income with people here and around the world, they are a special people.

I use to talk to a lot of strangers but the stranger have all become friends, so now I talk with friends.

Keep doing what you are doing, keep being who you are, and thank you and remember that you are loved by the flat lander from West Tennessee.

Ivan

Published in: on February 8, 2016 at 11:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

My Cup Runs Over

My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. Psalm 23:5-6

Don’t you love this writer? Sun or rain, good or bad, he is going to be alright because of God’s goodness and mercy. David, our author, certainly tested the Lord a number of times in his life. God always filled David’s cup with more goodness and mercy than most ten men would need in a lifetime.

David looked to life with assurance, with love and certainty that it was God who charted his path. It was not his enemies, not circumstance, and not accidental; his life was formed before the eyes of God and his days were all counted and known by his Lord.

Even when David was living in sin, lying to himself, God, and anyone else who questioned his actions, he produces about himself and aroma of guilt, he knew that he was guilty and he knew that God knew every moment of his life. He must have also known that even when He was bad, God was still good and in spite of all his failures God still loved him. Sin extracted a great payment from his life but he was never forgotten by God.

How determined and sure are you that God has His hand on you? That God has a plan for your life. That God was there when you were formed and He will be there when the last enemy, death, will visit you. That belief will guide your life.

Published in: on February 7, 2016 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Prayer Not Prayed

A Prayer Not Prayed

Then Jesus said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch and pray with me.” Matthew 26:38

Have you ever forgotten to Pray? She met me as I was coming out of the drug store and with wonderful excitement said, “Pastor thank you so much for praying for mom.  She is doing great, the surgery went perfect and she will be home in a few days.  Thanks pastor for praying for mother.”

I am not sure of my response but it had to be quiet of this I am very sure for the last time I had prayed for her mother was when she had approached me in the hallway at church and asked me to remember her and the surgery in my prayers.

I had walked away praying for her mother but in fifteen minutes I was in the pulpit and to my knowledge that was the last I remember of the request until she caught me coming out of the drug store. I was so ashamed, I had forgotten to pray.

I wonder how many prayers have been left un-prayed. Jesus wanted the disciples to pray, so it had to matter. God does hear and answer our prayer; otherwise Jesus would not have asked them to pray. Maybe Peter would not have denied Christ, maybe there would have been more disciples at the cross, maybe, maybe – but they did not pray. I wonder how many sermons are a flop, because someone forgot to pray, people are sick today because someone forgot to pray, how many still lost, how many in the cemetery? How many homes broken, how many families shattered, and how many lives never serving in His Kingdom because of a prayer not prayed?

Pray always!

Published in: on February 5, 2016 at 12:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Asking

Ask, and God will give to you. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will open for you Matthew 7: 7-8

Ask Search and Knock; God never turns away a sincere seeker. In Second Kings the fifth chapter we have the wonderful story of Naaman being healed.

I ask my church family one Sunday, “What do you do when you don’t like the answer you receive from God?” Look at Naaman, Elisha did not even come to the door to greet him. He sent a servant to open the door and to tell Naaman what to do.

Now you can tell that the great General was not pleased at his greeting by Elisha or the instructions he was given. In fact he just got mad and started home. He did not like the answer. A servant convinced him, since he had come this far and since he had received an answer, why not give it a try? You know of course that he did so and received complete healing. I believe if Naaman had returned home without obeying he would have died of leprosy. Maybe we die to our prayers because we don’t like the answers.

Published in: on February 3, 2016 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pity Pot

What do you do when your ‘Pity Pot’ is larger than your faith? For example you know that God will take care of you, but the bills still come and the income gap still grows wider.

You believe you have worked hard, done the right thing, but there is no evidence of that at the end of the month. Seldom does anyone call just to talk, just to remind you that there were some good days.

You visit the doctor and the news is always gray and now not just gray but bleak. You tell yourself it is not the dying that bothers you as much as it is the journey of getting there.

Then you take your seat on your ‘Pity Pot’ and look at those of your generation that seem to have it made, no worry, no fears, just fun and trips and problem free. Of course you know that is not so, but it certainly seems like it as you sit there on your throne of the ‘Pity Pot’.

You hate the Pot and yourself for sitting there but there you are. I believe a lot of elderly people can relate to this room of woes and fears and tears. Bravely they meet the new sunrise each day and bravely they take their place, do what is expected, and say what everyone wants to hear. But when the night is dark and long and sleep will not come the questions of what did I do wrong, what should I have done different and what to do now; moves through the darkness and illuminate that troubling ‘Pity Pot’.

Ivan

Published in: on February 1, 2016 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Watching Bottles

They lived down by the railroad tracks, you might even say they lived on the wrong side of the tracks, but they kept a neat little house and in the summer you always found them on the front porch waving at all who went by their home.

I think a lot of people pitied them, they seemed so poor and so unprepared for this fast pace world that had started at the end of the Second World War. He had worked for the local Coke bottler, watching the bottles as they came out of the washer, pulling those that were not clean from off the line, thus his job seemed to many to be so boring and unimportant.

I used to stop by and spend some time on their front porch on my way home from the popcorn stand where I worked, they were great listeners and I was always filled with questions and loved to hear him talk about his days in Europe as a member of the army from 1942 to 1945.

He never talked about himself; it was about the men with whom he had served. He spent most of his time driving a truck, and after D Day had driven all the way to Germany with the supplies and materials the men needed who were on the front line.

I went to his grave side funeral when he died, I watched them fold the flag, fire the guns, and then an officer presented the flag to his wife and opened a small box and said with great honor to his wife here is the Silver Star which he earned one day in battle in 1944, it was never presented to him but upon the authority of the President of the United States I have been sent to give this medal to you on behalf of a grateful nation.

I listen as he read the citation which told how he had stopped his truck manned a machine gun and held off the enemy while some thirty men loaded in his truck and he took them to safety

He had never mention that moment, he had talked about others who were brave but he had never told of the thirty men who had a chance to come home because he did more than was required.

Everyone thought he just looked at empty bottles but I just imagine that in glory he met a lot of grateful and successful men because he did his best.

Published in: on January 31, 2016 at 11:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

To Dr. Stow

For Dr. Stow

After a long and hard fought battle Dr. Stow heard the still small voice of His Lord, ‘Your home is ready, come and enjoy the beauty of a new day.’

I really loved him, I owed a great debt to him and the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes also owes him a great debt.

He was by far one of the best preachers in our Tennessee family of preachers, each time I preached in a church where he had pastored they would talk of him with such love and affection. He had that pastor’s heart, he believed in second chances, and he lived what he preached.

For a man my age it just makes heaven sweeter. I pray for his family, I lift them into the loving arms of our Lord and know that they will be protected and cared for by their loving Father.

It is impossible for me to say all that I would like to say and to express all that I feel but I shall take my comfort in the: Love we shared, Life he lived, Legacy he left, and the Lord he Loved.

Beneath his bed his shoes shall remain, no one can fill them, for God makes no two of us alike, we each like Dr. Stow, have our own journey and thus we have been fashioned to finish our own course. Well done thy good and faithful servant.

We shall miss you dear friend, we can all say ‘That it was good that you lived.’ We shall see you dear friend, we shall see you and until, we think of you and miss you, so dear one until. . . 30

Ivan 01/29/2016

Published in: on January 30, 2016 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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