Beautiful Feet

(Written in June of 2010 from McAllen, TX for my friend Jim Allen who went home to get some new feet in February 2011)

How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace. Romans 10:15

They are about as ugly as any I have seen. Black, broken, twisted with 80 years of walking through the jungles of Central American and the stone paths of Mexico.

I have seen him witness in the jungle, on the beach, in slums, and beside the road. My friend Jim has spent his lifetime in the service of the King and now I watch as his confused mind worries about not having enough clothes on to go out, he is perfectly dressed, but the shadows of his mind refuses to let him leave the nursing home and sinks him deep in tears because life at the moment is too confused for him to handle.

It fills my own eyes with tears and shreds my own heart. Carole and I came to assist him yet all of her tender care and my encouraging words seem to fall into some great void through which nothing can pass.

But his feet are sure beautiful in the sight of the Lord. Broken and bruised, scared and worn out, but done so for the Heart of God.

I thank God for those in McAllen who take such loving care of my friend Jim, and I add to their names all of those in my part of the world who do the same; may you know that what you do you do it as unto the Lord.

Ivan

Published in: on August 31, 2015 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Struggle

Cindy

Cindy stood in my office door tears rushing down her face, hands shaking, and voice so low that I had to go to her in order to know what she was saying. The story was not new to me but it was to Cindy, cancer.

After a struggle to discover what was wrong the worst possible news dropped on her like a great unmovable stone. Her only child was in college, her husband had left years before, her parents were deceased, and she felt abandon by all that made life dear.

So began our journey as friends for the next three years. Surgery, wills, bills, tears, fear, and all the elements of a Hollywood drama. But this was not a film, and the ending would not be enchanting.

There were times when life seemed like a burden too heavy to bear. The chemo was destructive; its cost was almost as terrible as the cancer. There were days when life was not worth getting out of bed and days when I was sure she would never walk again. Her will was not to live forever in the torn and broken body but to live until that final moment when He would call her name.

She wanted to see her daughter through school and she wanted to have enough of herself left at the end of the battle to say goodbye to those whom she loved.   Cindy saw her daughter graduate from college and attended her wedding to a great guy.

She dug her faith deeper in the Word and became a great witness of the joy of living. When people visited they left more blessed than when they arrived. I am sure some would say she lost the battle. But I knew that Cindy had won more than a victory, she had won the war. Her last words were, ‘He is still here.’ He was.

Published in: on August 30, 2015 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Calling

It was a Friday Morning in August 1953 when I knelt at the front on the sawdust floor at the open chapel at Camp Linden and said to God in front of my friend and mentor Jim Allen, I will do whatever you want me to do, go through any door, and be whatever you want me to be. I never dreamed in all of my wildest moments that I would spend my life in His service. That I would pastor for 48 years, serve as Vice President of the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home for 12 years and as an old man pastor a church and love each moment of it.

I never dreamed that I would someday be a guest of the congressman who was to be a featured speaker at the National Day of Prayer in the Cannon office building in our Nation’s Capital. To be honored twice to be a guest chaplain at the United States House of Representatives and be asked to open the session with prayer and spend time with two different Speakers of The House.

That I would travel to five continents to share the good news. To see the war in Rwanda first hand in 1994, and to help build a home for children in Zaire who had been displaced by that carnage.

To talk with firefighters and police officer busy at ground zero in New York shortly after Nine Eleven as their hearts were breaking and visit with the families of those who were missing from that terrible Tuesday morning.

My friend Jim Allen has made his journey to Jesus. I know of only one person still living who has known me all of my life.

My “Just a Moment” have now totaled in sum to an old life and yet God still blesses and cares for me. My wife and our blended family have added joy and length to my years. Maybe this is enough but I shall hope for another “Just a Moment” to say more. Thank you Lord for placing a calling upon my life.

Ivan

Published in: on August 27, 2015 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Friend from the Past

A Moment from the Past

Today is my friend Dr. John R. Barber’s birthday; we go back almost our full life time having met when we were about four. We walked to school together for our twelve years of public school, worked at the same popcorn stand, went to the same church, attended the same university, and shared Lindsey Street with one another.

I would say it has been a life time. From swimming in Jones Creek, building go carts, flirting with Betty Upton and walking to down town Jackson to watch movies on Saturday, our lives were intermingled not so much like neighbors but very much like brothers.

I believe it has been more than forty years since we have seen one another, but seldom does much time go by that I do not think of him, his family and the warm place that I have him hidden in my heart.

His family was very much like mine, our homes were next door and we even shared a common driveway. We hid under my house when we had air drills, road our bikes all over East Jackson, and talked about the dreams that are now part of the bricks which have become our lives.

Have a great day Johnny; I thank my Lord that we met in that driveway in December so many years ago. God bless you, always.

Ivan

Published in: on August 26, 2015 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Two Old Travelers

A Night on Interstate 40

Ben had walked about as long as his seventy year old legs would take him, the rain was beginning to pick up and the traffic along interstate 40 still going the usual 80 was farther and farther apart, not much of a chance for anyone stopping in the rain and at two O’clock in the morning.

He saw a road crossing just ahead and decided to try and find a dry spot under the bridge to keep him for the night. Near the top, where the crossover road met the dirt was a nice level place out of the wind and rain so Ben bundled down for the night covering himself with the garbage bag he had taken at the rest stop a few miles back.

Old Josh, as everyone called him, was barely moving down the side of the interstate, rain falling, paws hurt, heart feeling lost as it had for the past month since he had been separated from his master. His stomach was empty; they had run him away from his only source of food at the rest stop so now it was road kill, throw outs, and nothing as he tried his best to follow his desire to get home, back to where it was warm, dry, and never hungry.

He stopped under the bridge, here at least the rain was not falling and he could just stretch out off of the road in the grass and rest his paws and legs. In a moment he heard a voice, it wasn’t his master’s voice but it was warm, friendly and welcoming.

“Hey boy, looking for a place to sleep? Come on up here it is flat and warmer up here and maybe you would like this old Big Mac I found back at the rest stop?” Old Josh almost crawled up the embankment, slowing as he reached the man but driven by hungry and the need to just hear a friendly voice, he had to make it to the top, he had to. Ben reached out and gave him the burger, Josh ate it like it was his last meal, then Ben pulled him under the make shift blanket and they drew closer to one another and soon the rain was gone, the cold had left and sleep was wonderful.

Just two old travelers moving along interstate 40 in Arizona now enjoying the comfort of one another and the harmony of their snoring.

Thursday – Arizona Daily Sun – Wander and his dog companion found dead under an overpass near the Flagstaff exit, death for both seemed to be of a natural cause. No additional information on either available.

Author’s note: nice to have someone to cross over with.

Published in: on August 25, 2015 at 11:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thanks Larry

Thank You Larry

Mornings in Byrdstown start for a number of people at the local Shell station, they have breakfast items, snacks, coffee, cokes and yes even gas.  I call it our local country club because that is where so many of the men go to catch up on their excise and get the day started.  In fact some of them are known to spend most of the day there.

I join the group on many mornings and enjoy the catching up that we do with solving all of the world’s problems. Too bad no one in the group is running for the seat in Washington that most of the rest of Americans seem to be running for in 2016, they just might have the ground work to make things better. Also they might see that no one person has that ability, but this is not about politics this is about our small town.

As I was leaving the other morning a very nice lady in a car with tags from Ohio asked me if I lived here, I told her that I did and she went on the say that her family had been coming down for years to enjoy our lake and that they had never seen the intersection of Hwy. 111 and West Main Street look so nice.

She wanted to know if the city paid for this or the county, I told her neither. She then asked about the state, nope I said; “Well who does?” she asked.

No one I said pays for it to be done the guy who lives on the corner, a ship in, does it for nothing; he just loves our town and wants it to look its best. That’s right folks, Larry Delahoyssaye, is the man who makes the West entrance to our city look so great, hats off to Larry and a prayer that his tribe will increase and others will follow his leadership. Nice to live in a city where someone does something great and none of us can even pronounce his name.

Thanks Larry.

Ivan

Published in: on August 24, 2015 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Just Love

They looked cute together the old couple sitting in the restaurant holding hands across the table, talking quietly, looking like they had just met.

The server noticed their warm spirit and deciding to join in asked them how long they had been married. He smiled and said, almost 60 years, will be this May. “Well you certainly look like it has agreed with you.” The server responded and they both smiling said almost in unison, it has been a wonderful journey.

Over hearing the exchange the other guest in the restaurant begin to clap and the whole of the room was filled with a resounding ‘Happy Anniversary.’ To a person those celebrating this almost sixty year old marriage felt sure that it had truly been one of a kind and a journey without mountains and valleys.

No one would have guessed that they had buried two of their children after a tragic accident. That she had waited for him almost three years while he made the landings in the Pacific during the ‘Big War’. He had returned without a job and they had lived on a small farm just making it year by year for most of those first thirty years.

He had waited on her as she overcame the darkness of losing her two children and she had watched him as his first business failed and success seemed to always evade his adventures.

The years had not been without their gullies, but the marriage and love had not been built on the success of daily earnings but rather on the faith they shared in each other and God’s eternal plan for them to be a couple.

For He had said, ‘thus a man takes a woman and the two become one.’ Love can be real.

Published in: on August 23, 2015 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Home

My friend Mack stepped from his home in Atlanta to the home prepared for him in glory late yesterday afternoon. Now healed, well, and strong he stands before all the glory that His Lord has prepared for him.

What is going home? There is much more to the story and I will share that with our family on Sunday morning.

Mack was a loving husband and father, a faithful servant to his Lord, now he sees as he is seen and knows all the mysteries of the Word. I do not know all of this; I have not made the journey, pray for his family, and lift those who loved him before our Lord, more later.

Ivan

Published in: on August 21, 2015 at 10:05 am  Comments (1)  

Need Any Help

When a man turns away, does he not return? Jeremiah 8:4

We turn away but we do not want to return, why? It might be that we don’t want to admit that we have turned away. As soon as you stop and ask for directions you are admitting that you are lost, confused, not sure. We don’t like to admit to any of those things. After all we are the smartest generation, the best educated generation, and the wealthiest. How could we need help?

Could we use some help with our economy, maybe medical plans, how about help with getting along with others. We might need some help for the future, the long, long future of forever. But still we are either ignorant of that need are we just keep putting it off until there is nowhere else to put it; time is up. Business owners need help government officials need help just getting along. I sometimes wonder if we are waiting for another 9/11 or December 7, 1941 to cause us to put aside our petty difference, get our heads together and receive the help we need.

A man never turns until he is willing to admit that the direction he is headed is wrong. In our government, in our business world, no one wants’ to admit that they are wrong. They cling to deceit; they refuse to return.

Stubborn all the way to defeat and even into eternity.

Ivan

Published in: on August 19, 2015 at 11:30 pm  Comments (1)  

Not a Good Day

It is late on Tuesday night as I write this blog, looking back over the day I feel empty, lonely, just not good; it has not been a good day.

Carole has a nephew in California who had a swimming accident Sunday and is unable to move, he is in his early thirties. Too far for her to go yet I wish I had the funds to just give her a ticket and say go.

Her sister in Memphis has a number of issues and as much as we wish we could solve them they are just beyond our power and ability. But it still hurts.

I heard this afternoon that a friend of mine is on his last few days, he is there in Atlanta with his family around him and I know they bring him such great joy.  Mack has fought a good fight, he has always kept the faith, and he has honored our Lord as he has served some really great churches.

Mack would have no reason to remember me but I remember how many times he asked me to preach in his pulpit in Nashville and what a joy it was to share that sacred desk. His mom and dad served the children’s home for many years and were pillows of its ministry. Mack is too young to leave this world, I do not understand those moments, but I place them in the hand of our Maker and Lord.

I have a couple of young men here in our church who are having some special test this week, just too young both of them to be sick. God will give the doctors full knowledge and they will be well.

I spoke with a young man who has a younger brother with a really deadly case of cancer, he and his wife are hurting for his brother; Tuesday has not been a good day.

I talked to a wife who buried her husband a few weeks ago, it has not been a good time for her, it has been dark and it has brought with it many doubts and fears, but God will see her through.

I cannot answer why, it does not reach my heart, but it hurts so I slip my heart into the heart of God and ask Him to give peace and comfort to Mack’s wife, children, and mother, healing to the others and most of all His peace.

So Tuesday has not been a good day. The house seems empty tonight, most of the time I do rather well by myself, but sometimes it is not good. Sometimes it is big and empty and dark.

Ivan

Published in: on August 18, 2015 at 11:40 pm  Comments (2)  
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