I Didn’t Believe My Eyes

From my seat near the podium in the small ‘Low Country’ church of South Carolina I watched as she came up the steps, hesitated and then came into the worship center. To say she was a surprise would be an understatement.  Her skirt was little more than a wide belt and the top she was wearing was several sizes too small. She had on heels at least four inches high and with fish net hose she was something our little church had never seen.  As I extended the invitation I was in shock to see her step out and down the aisle of our church.  She hugged my neck and said, “Until today I did not know what was missing in my life, until today I did not know that I was lost and that Jesus loved me and died for me.  I introduced her to our church family and watched as the wives stayed very close to their husbands as they each came to greet her.  I was certain in my heart that most of our people left that day saying something like, ‘We will never see her again, this will not work, and she is just emotional for a moment.’ Realizing that without help she didn’t have a chance I called one of our deacon’s wives and asked her to get some of the ladies in our church to befriend her and help her through what was going to be a really rough ride. They did so starting with a new wardrobe, warm hugs, and real acceptance. With the forgiveness of God, the help of our ladies, and a church that became her rock she changed. Two years after I had left the ‘Low Country’ I received a call from her asking if I could return to South Carolina to perform the wedding of she and a young preacher boy who were going to be married.  I did and the last I heard they were pastoring a church in Georgia, and had been blessed with two daughters. How wonder, how marvelous is the grace of our Lord

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Published in: on May 31, 2011 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Behold the Stars

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord show you His kindness and have mercy on you.  Numbers 6:24-25

I woke up this morning and realized that it has been a long time since I have counted my blessings. I will be unable to count them all but I will say thank you to God for all of them.
One night in January 1994 I was crossing the Belmopan River in Belize Central America on a narrow swinging walkover bridge.  I turned off the flashlight I was using to guide me over the mile long path that would take me to where I was staying and stood there in total darkness and the silence of only the sounds of the jungle looking as deeply into the sky as I could. Because of the total darkness and the clear January sky I could see millions and millions of stars. Only fear of falling kept me from kneeling on that narrow bridge to give my praise to God for His glorious creation. Standing there with my eyes filled with tears, staring into the sky I realized that the God who made all of them, hung them in place, and gave them each a fixed position that would never be altered, had made me.  Just as He had given them an orbit He has also ordered my life, blessed me, and someday will come for me. My blessings are greater than the number of stars on that January night and I shout before my creator Thank You.

Published in: on May 30, 2011 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Don’t Like It Here

I don’t like it here! If I heard that statement once I heard it a thousand times in my years with the Children’s Homes. At first it hurt my feelings and it didn’t make any sense. Here was a child who had never been sure where they were going to sleep at night, if they would eat tomorrow, or if anyone would be home when they got there after school. Many had lived in what you and I would have considered substandard conditions, some in abuse, misuse, and any of the other words you would use to describe a child in need. Yet they were saying, “I don’t like it here!” It took me only a short time to realize what they were really saying; I don’t like the rules, the chores, the standards expected of me, and all the other character building traits we as parents try to instill in our children. In fact if I had known the truth I am sure that even my children had said that at some moment of parent inflicted frustration. In fact I think I heard that sound being made by me from my home at 246 South Lindsey Street.  God must hear it a lot; He created this wonderful world, made us in His image, and breathed into us the breath of life, but here come the sounds from below. Life is not fair, I don’t have what others have, my mate doesn’t understand me, my body is shot, I am not handsome, smart, successful, not when compared to others, I don’t like my job, car, house… on and on. Can you believe the noise that must go through the atmosphere toward glory all the time?  Then we look toward heaven and there is Jesus with His arms outstretched, His hands pierced and life leaving His body. I guess we don’t like that either.

Published in: on May 27, 2011 at 7:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Going to the Doctor

I visited the doctor the other day for one of my two or three trips a year.  Sometimes I like going to the doctor, at my age you can always find someone in the waiting room that you can talk to and when you look around the room you see a lot of people your age and for me that is a real plus. Now of course as soon as you go in the back you discover that the place is filled with kids. My car is older than most of them, but I will have to be truthful and say that they know what they are doing and treat me like I am very important. Could be that they want to make this trip a good one since by my looks they think it just might be my last, not sure, but they are very nice to me.  They weigh me, measure how tall I am, check my heart, blood pressure and almost always keep a lot of my blood.  That could be a side business, selling blood, but I think they might need it for the great ‘discovery’. You may have to answer a lot of questions, but then I sometimes go all day without hearing another voice, so it is kind of nice to be the focus of attention. That day they plugged me into a machine that told them all of this stuff about my heart, took ten minutes and a lot of oil to hook me up, took two minutes to run the test. Just about the same as they do for my car when I take it to Pat’s.  I needed an additional test which required me to go to a special room; the young lady, about 20, maybe, came to take me back.  She was wearing a shirt that said, “Save the Ta Tas” sounded interested to me so just to be friendly and wanted to be sure that I was in support of the newest in medical research, believing for sure that it was some new disease or plague that is endangering the earth I asked; “What is the Ta Tas?” Suddenly my young friend turned very pink, then red like a beautiful rose and without speaking put her hands out in front of her body and kind of moved them. I am old but I got it; and I too turned pink, red, and wished I had become invisible.  To be sure saving the Ta Tas is a very worthy cause, for it saves lives, but it sure is embarrassing to be so old that you fall into a pit on your way to being made healthy.  Not sure if I passed the test or not, not sure I will even ask.

Published in: on May 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Got A Coat Hanger?

The judge called and asked if there was any way that the children’s home could find room that day for a family of three girls and two boys.  He explained that the father had been killed a couple of years earlier and he was had to place the mother in jail. He wanted the children to stay together and no one could assure him of that. I assured him that we would make it happen. As the social worker interview each child I tried to keep the others entertained and to assure them as bad as this seemed that they would be ok. I asked if they had any question they wanted to ask me and the smallest boy wanted to know if we had any coat hangers. Now I expected to be asked about TV’s, computers, ball equipment and a hundred other things but never a coat hanger. So I said, “I am not sure I understood you, can you ask that again?” Once again he asked if we had any coat hangers. I asked him why a coat hanger was important and he said, “I have always wanted a coat hanger. When I go to my friend’s house his mother takes my coat and puts it on a coat hanger and then hangs it in a special place.  At my house we just throw our coats in the floor and sometimes I use mine for cover, so I would like my own coat hanger.  I smiled, hugged him and said, “Son you have died and gone to coat hanger heaven for we have hundreds of coat hanger and I will be sure that you have several of your own as well as a closet to hang them in.” He smiled, rubbed back the tears and hugged my neck. Most of us have such long list of our wants and here was a small boy being taken from his home and all he asked for was a coat hanger.

Published in: on May 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Shepherd

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. John 10:14

In the summer of 1994 we made our base camp in Goma, Zaire, within walking distance to the border of Rwanda. Because of the civil war in Rwanda there were about 800,000 people who had crossed the border in the area around Goma. Our original mission had been to provide safe water and medical care to those refugees. However when we arrived we learned that the water issue had been cared for by a group from Germany and we were to do general work in the area and to build a facility for 500 children.  Our first weekend in Zaire we saw about 15,000 bodies removed from Lake Kivu just two blocks from our facility. The streets were so packed with people that it was almost impossible to drive without just pushing the people out of the way and unaccompanied children were running everywhere. They were hungry, frightened, and sick. As we completed the camp sight for them to live on in safety, with medical care, and people to provide for them you could see an almost immediate change in them.  Life returned, hope came alive, and health began to return. They had been like sheep without a Shepherd and now they had found the Shepherd and he had called them home.  Everywhere I have been it is always the same; people long for someone to care for them, to love them, know them, and for someone to be their Shepherd.

Published in: on May 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bring the Cloak

While winter in Troas is usually brief it can from time to time become very cold and this was the winter of the North wind and it sweep across the sea and into the homes not prepared for its long stay and bitterness. Carpus had been very ill. The chill of the winter wind and his ageing health had gotten him down and the fever had invaded his body until his life seemed to be slipping away. The tent maker offered his cloak, it was all wool, twice woven, by the hands of Lydia and colored with her beautiful dyes. It was by far his nicest garment but Carpus needed its warmth and the tent maker had to leave. So the cloak remained.  The tent maker had received a letter many month later from Carpus thanking him for his sacrifice, telling of his own healing under its warmth and that of his mother and two of his children in that same fierce winter.  Time had now passed and the long nights in the damp and cold dungeon of Rome chilled every bone in his body. His hands crippled with arthritis and now chilled by the dampness and cold added to his misery. This would be his last letter; time was slipping away so the old tent maker asked his young friend Timothy to be sure and come to see him and to come before winter. Then he asked the faithful Timothy to bring him the cloak, the one he had left with Carpus, the cloak made by the hands of the believer Lydia, colored with her dye and stained with her tears and his blood. ‘Do your best’, he said ‘to get here before winter, bring the scriptures, the parchments and my cloak.

Published in: on May 23, 2011 at 6:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Before The Water Boils

Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns – whether they are green or dry – the wicked will be swept away. Psalms 49:9

Before you can boil water, God will remove the wicked. At first glance we find relief that our enemies will be destroyed. We sometimes get our emotions before our spiritual values and feel a bit good about getting even with those non believers. People do make fun of us and have a lot of laughs at our expense. But in the final moments we realize how very final the judgment of God really is and we pray and hope for all to be saved. We know that it is His desire that all should be saved but we also know that He made each of us with a right to choose. He will not knock down the door to our heart and He will not force His forgiveness on us. When we realize how serious God is about judgment. How long eternity is and how terrible it will be to live without the presence of God, we cannot hope that anyone would perish but that all would be saved.  Let us so live, so love, so pray, and so witness that others will come to know Jesus. How eternally tragic it would be for us to discover that our behavior had stood in the way of another coming to trust in God. The world may laugh at us and wish us harm, but in the deep of our hearts we lift them before our Lord and pray that they will be saved.

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 6:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Boy From Lindsey Street

 

I was with my father the day they came to our house looking for the parents of Bill Murray to bring them the official news that their oldest son would never come home. I remember the blue star in their window changing to gold and the deep silence that fell on that little home on South Lindsey Street.  For the next several years I would visit with the family, sit on their porch and listen to Mr. John as he spoke of his oldest and read some of the letters he had sent from all the places where he had served to keep me free.  I didnt know Lieutenant Murray well, I was too young to be in his circle but I saw first hand the pride he brought to his family and the certainty in their hearts that while he had paid the greatest price, it was a price he would gladly pay to know that his family was safe. The bible says to train up a child in the ways that he should go and he will not depart from those ways when he is old.  Murray was never old, his time stopped at age twenty two but his training as a boy paid great dividends to his family and our freedom.
The sacrifice for freedom has never stopped and the more than 400,000 who paid it in the Second World War has continued to be added to by the young men and women of today who fall in a foreign land that their land might be free. Lets us not forget, for their price is too great for us to waste. Let Freedom Ring and may all of us be willing to pay our price.

Published in: on May 19, 2011 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

For the Memory of a Boy of Lindsey Street

 

Bill Murray was the oldest of the three boys in his west Tennessee farm family. It fell on him to be in charge of the animals, preparing the land, and in general do all the things that his father’s frail health would not allow him to do.  Having been born in July of 1922 he was 19 when the Sunday of December 7, 1941 plunged us into war. By September of 1942 he like many of the boys of East Jackson found himself in training to become a member of the infantry of the United States Army.  The discipline and hard work of his years as a farmer’s son made the discipline and training of the army a natural for him and he quickly rose to the attention of the army leadership.  Bill was chosen to attend officer’s candidate school and received his commission as a lieutenant in the army in time to make the invasion of North Africa. From North Africa Lieutenant Murray went to Sicily for the tragic fighting for that Island where he was wounded and returned to England for hospitalization.  He was returned to duty in time to make the invasion of Normandy as part of the second wave on June 6, 1944. Lt. Murray led his men to safety and was in the first group to move inland in France.  Six weeks later on July 25, 1944 he was critically wounded and became part of the more than 10,000 Americans whose bodies remain buried in France.

Published in: on May 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment