Asking

Asking

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Jesus 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. Naaman was a great general and a very important man. In his country people moved out of his way when he walked by, the people honored him and gave privilege to him. I am sure that he fully expected the man of God to greet him with the custom of his rank. But

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. He was not use to such common treatment and he had his rank overlooked and his feelings hurt by Elisha. In fact he just got mad and started home.  He did not like the answer.  But God had sent a servant along with him to 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.

Ivan

Published in: on August 20, 2017 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Doer

A Doer

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

All of us know that what we do speak is louder than what we say. James is very strong in his belief that people see much more than they hear. He makes it very clear that while we are saved by the grace of God through Faith in His Son that it is very hard for people to see grace and faith in others without it having some physical manifestation.

I think James also has a very strong feeling that having received the Grace of God it should change our lives. We should be different enough that others could see that difference.

He points out, through the leadership of the Holy Spirit that it is difficult for people to be moved by our faith when that faith has not changed us from the world.

One of the great sins of the church in today’s world is that we have not challenged our people to be different, not strange different, but good, kind, and loving different. Too often the church in its difference is just mean and judgmental or desiring to blend into the world that nothing of spiritual value and commitment shows.

Let’s put our faith to work allowing others through our actions to see that we are not a hopeless people but rather a people of assurance and hope.

Not a people who hate but a people who love and cherish others, not their actions or their sins but them.

Ivan

Published in: on August 14, 2017 at 3:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Where Are the Stones

Where Are the Stones

She had hated her life, she could not remember the last time she had a positive thought about herself, it had been a long, long time ago, if ever. But this moment, this event was the worst. Being dragged through the street like some kind of animal by this group of men was more than she could take; it was the very bottom of her life. She knew a number of them and she knew that they had been as guilty as she had but here they were making sure that everyone knew of her sin, and everyone would watch as she was punished. She had been set up, of that she was sure, the men came in just as she and her ‘companion’ were in the middle of their fleshly lust. But it would mean nothing to these men nor those standing watching her being shouted at, spit upon, and cursed to try and make her case, after all she was guilty, not the first time but many times.

They threw her bruised and naked body in front of a man, a man whom she had never seen and asked him to be her judge.

She could see him looking at her then searching with his eyes each of the men screaming for her punishment, her stoning. He stooped and wrote something in the dusty ground, they continued to shout at him to have her stoned, he looked up and said, “Here is a plan, Let the one without sin cast the first stone at her.” The he continued to write in the dust. She could see the men one by one slipping away, she felt no thrown stone. The stranger covered her with his robe, asked where those who had accused her were and then told her to go a stop her sinning. In all of her sin, in all of her shame, she had met the Master and He had forgiven her. Life for her started over, brand new, no stain, no sin, she had met the Master.

Ivan (Story from John chapter 8)

Published in: on August 6, 2017 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dusty

Thanks for the Dust

I had just spoken to a group of churches in the upper part of East Tennessee and told them what a great job we were doing taking care of children and helping with their families when suddenly the dust from the old road that my car had stirred up swept over the four people walking along the side of the road.

Remembering all the good things I had said about our ministry the guilt of covering these four forced me to stop.

I told them I was sorry and asked if they were in need of a ride. The father explained that they were on their way to Knoxville to get a new start at life.

I explained that walking to Knoxville was going to take them a couple of days but he said they could no longer pay the rent and he could not find work but had been promised by a friend both a job and place to live if he could get to Knoxville.

We loaded the car with all that they were carrying got them all a place to sit and took off for the next place to stop, Knoxville.

The children were excited at my car, thrilled by the air condition and happy not to be walking with their heavy loads.

The kids went crazy when I suggested we stop and eat. They had never been in a restaurant. The father explained that he didn’t have much money, I told him it would be on me and we could use the time to call his friend and see where to meet him.

By God’s grace his friend was there to meet him and happy that he had made it to Knoxville. Turned out that the friend’s pastor was a friend of mine and with a quick call the ladies of the church were coming over to help fix up the living area. God is so good, the kids all hugged me and my eyes were full of tears as I drove away.

My prayer was simple, thanks God for the dust.

 

Published in: on June 26, 2017 at 10:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Honoring The Fallen

Honoring the Fallen

Carole and I stood along with many others outside the Old Post Chapel on Fort Myer Army Base next to Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia and watched as the band of the U.S. Army Old Guard, 3rd Infantry Division played softly and eight of the Old Guard, honor guard moved with reverence to the Cason which would carry the body of Lt. Colonel Rex Smith to his resting place in Arlington National Cemetery. The six great black horses pulled the Cason followed by the band and the company of men of the 3rd infantry Division the two miles to the eternal resting place of his remains. This journey started on October 8, 1936 when Rex Smith, age 14, talked his sister into posing as his mother and signing the papers stating that he was 18 so that he could enter the United States Army. In his first years as an enlisted man his Commanding officer tried to get Rex to attend Officers Candidate School believing that he would make a good Army Officer.  Rex knew if he did this his real age would be discovered and he would be sent home. He was at Wheeler Field in Schofield Barracks on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. He received the Soldiers Medal during that battle for retrieving the fallen bodies of two citizens by going down a 600 foot rope and bringing them back one at a time. By 1943 his age was no longer an issue so he attended Officers Candidate School and was commissioned a Second Lineament. On June 6, 1944 he was with the First Engineer Amphibious Special Brigade as they made the 7:00 A.M., first wave, landing at Utah Beach, Normandy France.  He retired as a Lt. Colonel in July of 1962 at the age of 40 after having served 26 years in the army. He had a second career as an Inspector in the District Attorney’s Office, San Mateo   County, California and retired again in 1978, At his grave we listed as the Chaplain read the word of God and prayed, then the thundering sound of the 21 guns and the somber playing of ‘The Last Call” taps and watched as the flag he served for 26 years was folded and given to his son. Later at the Officer’s Club at Fort Myer we looked at pictures, shared moments with friends from his years in the army and in retirement. In the week in which our Nation celebrates its birth we watched with reverence as honor was paid to one of its soldiers and his remains were placed with the more than 300.000 others who are so honored at Arlington.  God Bless America and God bless the Men and Women who have paid the geatest price for our freedom.

Ivan (Note the Army states that he was the youngest man to enter and remain in the Army for more than twenty years.) He really wanted to serve his country.

Published in: on June 26, 2017 at 4:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Father’s Day

Father’s Day

As we celebrated and honor our fathers Sunday in church I am reminded of the times when I had such wonderful moments with my own dad. The days he would take me to work with him to check on the night watchman and look around the warehouse to make sure that all was well, a couple of fishing trips, some overnight; the times we went to church together, how much I loved church and I really believe now looking back that much of that love came from watching him.

Dad treated all the men who worked for him with great respect and honor, he made all of them feel very special and I believe I learned from him how important other people were and how they all, no matter their rank in life, deserved credit and praise.

I remember his growing old and how much the rolls changed as I became more of the father and he the son. The little things which once went unnoticed now became moments of memory and joy. A cone of ice cream, which he loved, a ride in the car, with my pushing him back to his side of the seat as his body kept slipping toward mine, the fears, tears, and joys of those days.

Remembering my dad I to remind our men to become watchmen, men who will stand their watch, knowing the dangers that the outside can bring to their homes and families, realizing how God has given them the responsibility to protect their family in the love for God. I challenge them to not only know the dangers, but to see the great value of those whom they influenced and those for whom they were the watchmen. I call upon them not only to look out at the dangers, inside to those depending on them but also to look up and know that all of those who know them will also want to know their coming Lord, Judge, Forgiver, and Father.

Thanks Dad,

Ivan

Published in: on June 15, 2017 at 9:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Growing Old In Love

Growing Old in Love

I had watched them grow old together over the ten years that I had been their pastor and it was a beautiful and warming sight. When you would visit in their home, the very house they had come to the night they were married sixty years before, you would see a picture of them on their wedding day, then pictures of their five children, 12 grand children, and more than 20 great grandchildren.

The fire of love still burned warmly in the old house and the spark of the years of being together still kept life meaningful and beautiful. I watched them over the years come out to the cemetery and visit the graves of two of their children, and then I stood with them on a cold February afternoon and watched as the tears froze on their faces as they placed the first born daughter into her final earthly resting place.

They walked from the grave his holding her hand, slowly, waving a bit, but together to the car waiting for them. When I went by to see them the tears still came even though in their hearts they knew that their daughter was in a far better place. The mother said to me pastor, “Just another ‘sweet’ to make heaven more delicious.” We talked about the years that had gone and they remembered events that marked their marriage, his time in Europe during the war, their son going to Vietnam, the hard times when money was short and the good times when their memories could pick out places they had visited, and dreams that had come true over the years.  They told me of God’s care, His wonderful blessings, and His abiding presence in their marriage. She leaned on her husband and I knew it was time to go, with sleep written on both of them I left, praying that God would grant them peace for the days ahead.

My phone rang the next morning at six with his telling me that his wife had died in her sleep just a few minutes before. Once more we walked to that cold cemetery, this time his two children, grandchildren and greats held him as he place a rose on her coffin and walked back to the familiar family waiting car.

I remember that the bible said, ‘Love never fails’, and it did not. Less than sixty days later all of us returned to the now turning green grass of that lonely hill side and said our good byes to this wonderful man and his mark of faithfulness and love, scored a new ridge in our memory and a joyful thought spread through my soul as I watched him enter that new kingdom of ‘Love that never fails’ seeing the greeting arms of his wife and three children standing there in the gate.

 Growing old in Love, had made going home in love, just a bit sweeter and even more delicious.

Ivan

 

Published in: on June 13, 2017 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Loser

Loser

Everyone who knew him was certain that he was a looser. 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 looser. 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 bodies 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 looser, 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 June 12, 2017 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Old Age and Sickness

Old Age and Sickness

Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis may have noticed that in the past month I have posted very few blogs. The reason:

About a month ago I had my gallbladder removed, while it was a problem removal the doctor did a great job and it was a complete success.

However they found a very serious problem with my liver so I have been back and forth to three doctors and they are looking for the best way to solve this problem.

Thank you for your inquires and prayers. I hope to be able to feel well enough to do some writing these next couple of weeks. It is so kind of you to be concerned.

Ivan

 

Published in: on June 11, 2017 at 9:24 pm  Comments (3)  

Water

Water

I remember the lines of children who stood outside the camp in Zaire, Africa waiting not for food but for a drink of clean water. About a thousand people a day would die because they were drinking bad water and getting choler which with their starving bodied would kill them within a day or two.

The local government had not cleared us to let the children into the new compound we had built for them; even in a war torn country there are people who rule and must have their way so each morning a number of volunteers would travel the streets of Goma to pick up the bodies of those who had died during the night.

We had finished the camp for 500 children, hired the workers and were ready to receive the children but some bureaucrat had to come and give us permission to save their lives.

Still they would sleep along the fence, stand in the sun, and look desperate throughout the day waiting for water.

Three of us decided we could wait no longer so we ran pipes through the fence and let them run freely so that all who wished could get lifesaving water.

More than three thousand people came with pans, buckets, anything which would hold water over the two days we allowed it to run.

At last the powers to be came and allowed us to open the camp and even to leave the water running through the fence.

Thirst was finished and defeated.

It is this kind of thirst for that right relationship with Christ that will bring to us the full knowledge of kinship to Jesus.

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 9:06 pm  Leave a Comment