Franklin Square

Franklin Square

14th. at K Street, Washington, DC

The rain from the 3:00 AM storm had washed most of the smaller stuff from the benches and sidewalks of the square. The odor from the night before had changed; the smell was fresher, not so filled with urine and human body odor.

About half of the benches had already been claimed by the sometime and maybe most of the time homeless who in all probability considered this small park their home. The shopping buggies of other years have for the most part given way to backpacks, and wheeled luggage carries. They put these items on the benches and leave them as they make their rounds to the dumpsters in the area checking to see what the restaurants and residents have thrown away during the night.

Most of the residents of this square are black, maybe three whites out of a total count of some 25 about seven or eight women, the rest males. As I sit and read my bible waiting for Carole to get ready for church they leave me alone. They watch me, I think they are not sure just why I picked this place to sit and read.

The hotel doorman said some might ask for money even though they knew it was against the law, but he felt that for the most part they were safe.  One had two back packs and two wheeled luggage carries; he also had a large piece of plastic that looked as if he might use it for protection from the rain. Even the homeless have the different levels of life. A couple looked like they might be veterans, the rest you really couldn’t tell, nothing of the past that had once been strength remained.

I had to wonder as I watched them what turn of time put them in Franklin Square. You would not think that anyone would choose to live there, to make that home, but there they were two dozen souls scattered by the early morning storm and now back to claim their ‘section’ for a new day.

I wonder if they dreamed of better days, better places, better protection from the breaking heat of the day and the unexpected storms of the night. Here we are living in the greatest land in the entire world and on a square in our Nations City; souls claim park benches as their section of life.

I thanked God that time had not turned for me as it had turn for them, and then I asked God to burden the heart of someone to discover an answer and solve the problem.

Ivan

Published in: on April 22, 2015 at 11:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Request

A Request

Next week our Supreme Court will hear the oral arguments in the case for same sex marriages. Almost everything you read says that most Americans do not care one way or the other.

With all my heart I believe this is very much against the teaching of God’s Word. I realize how sensitive this is and how divided our people are when it comes to the subject of same sex love and marriage. I am certainly not an authority on this subject and have never been inclined to be part of such an emotional life, thus it is not my intent to hurt anyone, to demand from anyone, to be outraged; however how can I live by my choice to believe the Word of God and not speak against such a way of life.

I think of how this must slap God in the face for us to be making a serious consideration of putting the stamp of approval of our nation on this practice.

I don’t hate anyone, I don’t look down on others and I ask that you join me in this same declaration; however I am praying that our nation’s highest court will see how destructive this can be to our nation, our homes and our loyalty to the Word of God.

I think of the small business man who will be caught in a legal battle just to maintain his own beliefs and faith and still keep his business. Is there no fairness for him and his sincere beliefs, can his faith not be a part of the practice of his business?

My only request to you is that you join with me and others as we ask our Lord to give His divine intervention to this matter. Let us not turn from all of our faith, let us not by popular demand become a people without faith and belief.

Hate no one, despise no one, but share your sincere belief in the eternal Word of God. May God give His wisdom to our court and more than the court, to our people?

Ivan    inraley@yahoo.com

Published in: on April 21, 2015 at 11:37 pm  Comments (2)  

The Birds Have Their Trees

David sat on the park bench in Franklin Square and watched as the young mother talked with her daughter. The mother looked to be about 50 but he was sure she was still in her 20s’, dressed in several sweaters all worn but clean, at least three pair of pants held onto her body by a rope, head covered, eyes swollen, voice tearful as she spoke to her four year old child. He could hear her explaining that they would not have a tree this Christmas, living in the back of the broken panel truck parked in an abandoned lot near a once but now closed warehouse, there would be no room.

David wondered what turn of events had rocketed this pair of lost souls into such despair and sorrow. What could have happen, who was at fault; but then did it really matter, Here she was and so it was. He saw the Salvation Army officer stop and speak to them. He could tell that he knew her and felt for her circumstance.

He heard them talk about choices and understood as the mother pled for some real plan to give her and her daughter a chance at life. The officer, shook his head, said he would try, prayed and walked away.

David caught up with the officer, asked him a lot of questions, they spent a long time at the Star Bucks across the street then again with the Salvation Officer.

He left the officer shaking his head in unbelief as he handed him the envelope shook his hand and went back to the bench in the square.

He listened as the officer returned in a few hours to talk to the mother and child still on their bench at the park. He heard him explain that he had a job for her at the Star Bucks across the street; she raised the question about child care, clothes, and a place to live. He explained that there was a new program and she could be the pilot mother for its launch. There was an efficient apartment about eight blocks away that she could live in for the next six months, also money for clothes for both of them and child care at the National Christian Church just down the street.

With the starting salary she could not afford the apartment but within six months there would be either more salary or another place to live. She looked startled, began to weep and wrapped her arms around the Salvation Army Officer and let the flood of joy wash the sidewalk beneath her feet.

David wiped his eyes, looked at the large tree in the square and said, My Father’s birds have their trees this child and mother needs theirs, he spoke to the weeping mother, excited child, and smiling Salvation Army workers as he left Franklin Square.

Published in: on April 20, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Family Traditions

Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him.  Second Corinthians 5:9

There were some questions that mother would always ask us no matter where we were going.  Such as; who is going to be there? What time will you be home? Who are the adults that will be in charge? Then last but not least, “Do you have on clean underwear?”

It always seemed to me that if I had been in a wreck no matter how bad I had been hurt are what kind of condition I was in mother wanted to make sure that I had on clean underwear.  It was as though she would have been heartbroken had the undertaker seen me in dirty underwear.

Another thing she always did was to tell me never to forget who I was and what my name was and to behave like I knew it was very important to uphold the family traditions.  Before I left for the Navy she stood in front of me and gave me that often spoken challenge, “Don’t forget who you are and how you are supposed to act and behave.

I took mother at her word and believed she was life and death serious about her admonishment to her only son.  Come to think of it; I believe God wants us to remember who we are and to uphold His family traditions.

Published in: on April 19, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Will You Join Us

He was born in this far off country but it would never be his home. He had done well, received a good education, found a job and risen to a place of importance as part of the country’s leadership.

Well he was near power but had no power; but he moved among the powerful and in fact he was a personal servant to the King and met most of the important people who visited and hear the ‘power talk’ that came from all levels of leadership.

But it was still not his home; this was neither his land nor the land of his fathers for that land he longed. He met some people from his homeland and asked them to tell him about his country and the people that were still there. What they told him broke his heart and brought him to tears and inward and outward sorrow.

For months he sought direction, he wept, he suffered, he went without food, he aged in his broken heart until one day the King noticed and he asked him what was wrong.

Even though others would count him a slave, he saw himself as a servant of God, currently serving on the servant staff of an ungodly King. But in spite of that fact he knew that he was to do his best, to be his best and to serve this earthly King as if he were serving God. So he had done his best and the King came to understand him, to know him and to see the destruction that the bad news had done to his body and to his heart.

The King asked him what was wrong and Nehemiah told him that the walls of the hometown of his family were torn down, the gates were burned and his people were in great distress. He wanted to go home. He wanted to rebuild the wall. He wanted to change the broken country of his people.

Look around, the moral walls of our nation have been torn down the gates to our way of life have been burned and the future of our children will be that of distress if we do not become a Nehemiah.

I am preaching from Nehemiah Sunday and would love to have you join us. I asked my people at First Baptist to pray deeply for our nation and our leadership. I asked them to repent of our own sins and then to lay the distress of our nation at the feet of Jesus. Will you join us?

Published in: on April 16, 2015 at 11:33 pm  Comments (1)  

I Don’t Mind Sharing

(A repeat that I like)

Robert and his family of five had been living with us for about a week as they waited on a place to come open for their family to live on our campus.  Robert, a four year old, was stretched out on the floor in our family room with a bowl of cheerios and milk in front of him eating his breakfast and watching TV.

Our cocker spaniel was stretched out beside Robert and as Robert would take a bite then Louie would lick himself a nice bite.

I came in the room and said something like, ‘Son Louie is eating out of your bowl.’ He looked up at me and with those big eyes beaming and said, “That’s OK sir, I got plenty and I don’t mind sharing.”

I’m sure I should have told him all the reason this wasn’t good but Louie looked up and seeing me walked to the door so I let him out.

“Mister,” Robert said as he looked and pointed to the door of our pantry, “There is a lot of food in there; we are never going to be hungry.” Then with those big eyes of a four year old he looked at me and asked, “Sir, are you Jesus?” I smiled, knelt down by him and said “No I’m not Jesus but He is the reason you came to live with us. He loves you and wanted you to have a great home.”

Robert just smiled real big and headed upstairs to his room. I walked to the back door and saw Louie stretched out on the porch enjoying the morning sun as his cheerios and milk digested. I bowed my head and just wept before my God who has given me so much that I can never be thankful enough and express it enough. I love you Lord.  Ivan

Published in: on April 15, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Loser

Everyone who knew him was certain that he was a loser.  Couldn’t keep a job, begged for a living, and smelled badly, yes he was a loser.

Even his body was terrible, covered with boils, nasty; you would not have invited him home for Sunday lunch. In our world of judging people by their looks, money and status, in our culture he was a real loser.

He would have never made the team, never been included in the ‘group’ no one would like him, he was a looser. Maybe it was the malformed and misshaped body that kept him from working and made him eat under the table with the dogs.

From what we know of him there is really nothing that we can say that would be a compliment. He ate the scraps from the rich man’s table and was pleased to receive them. The dogs would lick his sores and he considered it a blessing. He was one big loser.

But when it was all over and done; when all had been said; when the final accounting was taken we find him in the company of God.  Of course you know I am talking about Lazarus in Luke chapter 16. Somewhere in that life of a loser, he met Jesus.  We are not told when or how just that he did for in the end his worthless life was paid for by Jesus and there he is in His presence.

Maybe part of the story is to teach us that God never sees us as others see us, He sees us as we can be. Maybe it is to remind us that God has never met a loser. Ivan

Published in: on April 14, 2015 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

From a Swinging Bridge

The Director of our Baptist Missionaries in Belize dropped me off near the Belmopan River crossing a little after ten at night.  We had enjoyed a nice dinner and good memories as he explained what my duties would be when I returned in January to relieve him while he and his wife were on medical leave in the United States. I was excited about the opportunity to work for our International Mission Board in Belize and be able to meet the more than 200 people who would be coming for weekly mission trips during my stay as well as teaching the local pastors and helping to fill the pulpits in the local national churches.

I was currently teaching and staying at the Belmopan Boys School across the river from the capitol city on the edge of the rain forest so I had about two miles to walk in order to get to my room. Now I know that it gets dark in America, but in Belize it gets Dark, Dark. There are no lights to invade the blanket that God spreads over the sky at night so the brilliance of His sky comes alive and you see stars that you have never seen in all your life.

I started across the swinging bridge that crossed the Belmopan River and when I got to the middle I just stopped and gazed at God’s sky. I was going back to resign from my church in Franklin, make plans for my marriage to Carole, and pack for the journey back to Belize and a world that would be new to me in so many ways. I knelt there in the darkness of that night with only the light of God’s nighttime shinning on me and asked Him to direct my steps, to affirm the direction I believed He was leading and to bless the new day that was before me. I finished my prayer, looked into the sky dotted with the stars placed there by the hand of God and felt the assurance that from the middle of that swinging bridge across the Belmopan River I was in the center of His will just as were the stars which lit the sky, and had been placed there by His hand.

That has been more than twenty years ago and it is glorious how God has directed those years. Most of the plans that I had, such as spending the rest of my life in Belize were changed, but always God placed me in yet another place where I could see His hand and know that I was following His plan.

There was no way for me to know on that December night that I would close my life not in Belize but in a town called Byrdstown, that I would spend twelve years with the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home and now 14 years as the pastor our First Baptist Church.

Thank you Lord for a dark night and the middle of a swinging bridge, and I praise you Lord for your great care and loving guidance.

Ivan

Published in: on April 13, 2015 at 10:09 pm  Comments (1)  

Lost Mother

I came out of the office door at K Mart and saw the five year old boy standing near the men’s shoe department with big tears rolling down his cheeks; I stooped down and asked him if he was lost. Between sobs he said yes, and then let out more tears. I told him to come with me and I was sure we could find his lost mother in our store.  There was a female clerk standing near us and I asked her to join me in going to the service desk.  She got a box of Kleenex and wiped away his tears and the three of us went to the service desk.

In those days K Mart had blue light specials and the lady shoppers were always hoping for one while they were in the store. So I took the cart with the long pole with the blue light on top, turned on the flashing light and said over the loud speaker; “Ladies get ready we are going to have a very unusual blue light special. This is so special that it will be stationed at the service desk and only one that is right only one lady in the store will be able to take advantage of this special.” Then I said, “Somewhere in this store is a lost mother and if she will come quickly to the blue light special station she will discover that she had been found.”

Suddenly I heard this lady crying and running up the center aisle of the store and as soon as she saw her son standing by the young clerk and the blue light special table she could not run fast enough to grab him, kiss him, and thank the young female clerk and myself.

Nice day’s work I though as I walked from the store out to my car, best blue light special we have ever had.

When you think about it; that it the purpose of all of us, getting people together, helping those who are crying to dry their tears and brining those who are fearful to security and joy. I even gave myself a pat on the back and decided that I would come to work the next day and see how many people I could put together.

Ivan

Published in: on April 12, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

How Do I Judge?

And He told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because one’s life is not the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15

A wonderful verse for all of us who seek to discover our value in the things and positions we hold.

Looking back to my boyhood days I do not remember this being a problem.  I never remember making a judgment about a person based on their job or where they lived. But of course most of the people I knew lived around me and they all had about the same in possessions and our homes and income was very much alike.

After I entered the Navy I became aware of this judgment and it has been difficult at times to not judge my success on the size of the church, salary, and so many unimportant things. For many years I always considered myself a failure because I had so little compared with others.

 By the way women, be reminded that many men judge themselves by their salary and success.  How large the home is they provide for you, the ‘things’ they are able to purchase and all the other things that in time will not matter and in fact will be left behind. Help them overcome this, and to understand that your love for them is not in things, power, and positions but in whom they are and how they love you. No one on this earth can do this so well for a man as his wife; you are his dream for living and you hold such great power in this journey of his life.

It has taken me almost a life time to learn this truth, to be able to accept myself for who I am and to whom I belong and not by the ‘toys’ I have gathered in my journey.

Now a note from a child I taught, a person I pastored, a friend I have walked with is worth more than all the bank accounts and all the ‘things’ life has gathered around me. I am a blessed man to have met and been a part of so many people and their lives both in joy and sorrow. Thank you Lord.

Published in: on April 9, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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