Of Value

 
Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31
 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a man’s true value could be known by those who know him at the time of his living? How nice it would also be if he were aware of their feelings. But then that is not the way with life but it is the way with Christ.  Jesus shared with His followers that while sparrows were very cheap to purchase they were still so important that God always knew when they perished. Then he reminded them that they were much more important than many sparrows.  A man lives his life, does his best, follows the calling of God and in the best way he knows how he finishes the course, completes his task and then grows old. No one ever notices the task, the finished path, and the worth of the old man. Somewhere people care for his body as his mind covers its self with fog and fades into the shadow as just another of the very old who must be cared for until death claims them. Really does seem a bit of a shame that no one ever says, “You really did well.”  Maybe as Christians one of our callings would be to honor the value of other, to learn the attitude of gratitude and express it to those whom we meet.  It may seem like a small thing but what about the young man who carries out your groceries, the nurse who attends to you while you wait for the doctor, the child who looks up with those beautiful innocent eyes, just a hello, thank you, what’s your name.  Who knows it could really make someone’s day. I still have a letter that a man, complete stranger, sent me when my picture was in the newspaper for an award I received in school.  Maybe his secretary sent the letter, I don’t know and it does not matter for when it came along with the article out of the paper and his words of friendship and congratulations it made my day and now all these years later I still remember that moment. We think little of sparrows but Jesus is touched by the death of each. Let us learn to be thankful and grateful to the point that it shows in our lives.

Ivan

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Published in: on June 30, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  

Call Home

Walter Carman had done well. While he had been unable to attend college because of his need to work and keep his family afloat he had worked hard, invested well, and achieved far more success than most of those in his generation.  Walter married his child hood sweetheart though not until they were both in their thirties. His parents had needed his help and he not only provided that help but achieved an enviable level of wealth and success. His wife had presented him with a son and name sake in the third year of their marriage; Walter Carman, Jr.  By the time their son was ready for college they had the means to provide him with a good education as well as a prominent place in the family business.  When the son wanted to get married they purchased him a nice home, provided a trust fund which would give him a standard of living better than most of those in the community as well as making provisions to provide for any children the marriage might produce.  Walter Jr. had it made. Home paid for, money in the bank, good job with a great salary, as well as a nice trust income to put icing on the cake of life. He moved to the larger more affluent nearby city and placed himself and family in the middle of the best of the best.  The family grew to four and at first they visited the grandparents in the small town of his birth, called almost daily, and kept in reasonable touch.  But then life began to fly. His investments flourished, his prominence in the community moved toward the top of the social ladder and fears and worries moved out of his life as did his desire to drive back to the small town of his parents and even to make a call on a regular basis.  Once when his son was sick they asked his mom to visit them so that she could care for the sick boy while they made their necessary contacts and kept their busy schedule. But outside of that special time of need their contacts became less and less and seldom were the parents mentioned, called or even thought about.  Then his banker called and told him that his trust fund check had stopped.  He had checked with the trust company but all they could say was they had been instructed to stop the trust payments. That afternoon in a fiery board meeting of the company his father had spent a long time building and he had been place in charge of met. They instructed him that he would have to step down, offered him a modest service package and basically said goodbye.  He rushed home to discover his wife in tears.  She had been humiliated when her credit card had been turned down at a local restaurant in front of all of her friends.  He immediately got on the phone to his father and begin to demand to know what was going on.  The father said, “Great to hear from you son, mom and I just wanted to get in touch with you and since you never seemed to have time to return our calls or to come for a visit we decided to see if we could get your attention.”  The buildings fell, the market collapsed, great companies filed for bankruptcy, our once fat security plans have grown skinny. It seemed that our democratic, free enterprise way of life is being slowly slipped from us and the daily news is filled with crime, family failures, drug addiction, embarrassing conduct, and a demand for ‘rights’ that never were right.

I wonder is it time to call home.

 

 

Published in: on June 29, 2011 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

We Stopped Watching

 
But you be watchful in all things. Second Timothy 4:5
 

We stopped watching and our values fell, we stopped watching and our language became careless, we stopped watching and our prayer life took a dive, we stopped watching and our gifts dwindled, we stopped watching and Satan became larger and our faith became smaller.  Take your eye off the road for just a moment and you are courting with danger. Some years ago our nation begin to stop being watchful of our faith.  We hedge a little here, moved over a bit there, and now we discover that so many things we once felt strongly about are no longer important. Men marry men and women marry women and the media applause. Thousands of babies die before they breathe and no one places a marker in their memory. We stopped watching and our hearts became harder, our attitudes became cynical, and our hope is in despair because we built it on that which perishes. We stopped watching and while we live longer we live less. We live better but without peace and joy. We have so much more than any generation before us but it brings us no pleasure, no contentment, and no security.

 Maybe God knew what He was talking about when He said be Watchful in All things.
 

Ivan

 
Published in: on June 28, 2011 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

It is a Bright Day

(The first part of this was written in July of 2010)

The weather in McAllen, Texas is beautiful, hot but clear and filled with sunlight. Inside the Medical Center where Jim lives it is also beautiful and here too the Son shines. I have been able to do so many of the things I came here to do and that adds to the wonderful day.  This has been a good day for Jim. We have spent a lot of time talking about the days now gone. We laughed about his having dated my first cousin and how we use to get in his 1952 Plymouth, put it in neutral and coast the four miles down hill from Camp Carson all the way to Newport, all to save a few cents, for gas was only 26 cents in those days. We talked of those days when he directed the work of the Tennessee Baptist Royal Ambassador’s program. How he had taken a bus load of 14 to 16 year old boys across the country to New Mexico, visiting mission churches and work along the way. Those were wonderful days when he was a young man and I but a teenage boy. We went to Atlanta that same summer to attend the first Nation Wide Royal Ambassador Congress. We had all of those memories and dreamed once more of being young, healthy and strong.  I reminded him of the lady he led to the Lord as we were visiting on an island off of Belize in Central America.  I was asleep in the hammock and he was reading her the story of Jesus. I remember her tears as she prayed for salvation and then lifted up her own sons to the Lord. We enjoyed the pictures Carole had made of us when we were here in June how much she enjoyed seeing his long beard get cut to a ‘normal’ length. We talked about life, future, graves, funerals, and then we cried as we prayed and asked the Lord to give us His guidance and His presence and then in fountains of tears I asked God for more days for my friend Jim with the Son shinning so bright. Jim left in January of 2011 for the Land that is Greater than ALL, where the Son always shines, and you never grow old, and the tears are gone, and the body is strong and healthy once more. I miss you Jim.
 

Ivan

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Five First for a Fabulous Future

In 1958 I discovered these five “First” for my life and I have discovered for these fifty years that they work no matter what your age. They are not profound, just simple ‘First’ to place in your life.

  1. Give God the first moment of each day.

Nothing takes the place of getting started right and nothing can assist this head start like just taking a moment each day, read God’s Word and share moments in talking with Him.

  1. Give God the first day of each week.

Gathering in public worship each week with people who share your faith is a wonderful way to give strength to each week.

  1. Give God the first portion of your income.

An attitude of gratitude builds a healthy life and nothing develops your gratitude like sharing what you have with others and sharing it off the top.

  1. Give God first consideration in every decision of your life.

All of us need a guide and there is no greater guide than our creator.

  1. Give God’s Son first place in your heart.

All of us need a healthy heart, someone on which to center our lives and no one brings a healthier heart to us than Jesus. He gives us a new heart, a clean heart, and a directed heart.

When we study the life of Christ we discover that the scripture often tells us that Jesus rose before others and was in a time of worship. Now if God’s Son needed such a start can you see how much more each of us needs this beginning. While these are not in any order except to help remember them, number five has to be first in order for the rest to play their roll. When Jesus becomes your Lord and Savior then life begins new and each of these steps directs us closer to our goal of being like Him.

Published in: on June 24, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  

A Do Over

Let’s see, I receive the news, you get a do over. What would I do? I should really think about that for a long time because one of my many faults is being too spontaneous. Not thinking through and not taking time to make sure that the decision is the best one. But here goes just off the top of my head.

One thing I would like to do is to start a church from scratch in a large city. Maybe rent a movie theater, seldom use on Sunday morning, and just start a church. That has always been a dream but I never did one thing to go toward that dream. I would also love to travel more, see more of the world, meet more people and try to make a difference in more lives. With a do over I might stay in the Navy for twenty years, live on the top floor of a hotel, and take more trips to Israel . I would be a better father, spent more time with my family and taken more family vacations. I would make sure that we shared meals together a lot around the table as a family. I would be a better husband, heaven knows, there is a lot of room for improvement there. I would be a better pastor, preach better, serve better; just do it better the second time around. I would go fishing more, now that would not change anything but I wish I had done more fishing, walked in the surf and cast out into the moving tide. I enjoyed that and wish I had done it more. Written a book, published my devotions and of course the list goes on. Now that I am growing old it is not so much a do over as it is a ‘bucket list’. Before I cannot, what do I want to do for certain? But at last I wake up, the dream is over and morning has come. There will never be a do over so I must do my very best now. Do it your very best the first time for there is no second.

Ivan

Published in: on June 23, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  

He Left a Pathway

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Psalm 37:23

Columbus held out to the very end that it was God who had directed him to the ‘ New World ‘. His was a life that found directions and followed them.

In his diaries and other writings Columbus told of dreams and visions that directed him to sail west. He certainly did not know he was going to a new land but he knew that it was west that he needed to sail.

Many people today tell of others who came to America long before Columbus . Maybe they did but the difference in those who came before is that they did not return and bring others. Think of this, he may not have been the first but he was the one that encouraged others to follow, who told of his journey, and who made a number of other trips and left a pathway that others could follow. It was Columbus who held high the banner of a better world, a new land, and a hope with which to fill the dreams of others. Thus they came and this ‘new land’ became the hope and dream of Europe .

I for one am glad that he went back and encouraged my family to come to the new world. I am grateful that in the providence of God I was born in America . I have been on four other continents and in a number of other countries but I have never found any place that I would rather live than in America .

I am not an explorer, I do not carve pathways across mountains and chart journeys through the ocean but I hope that my life has left a pathway that others may follow and in following find a better way to live. By some word or deed a sign post pointing to ‘this way’ has been set in the hearts of people.

Ivan

Published in: on June 22, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (5)  

When Weddings Have Goofs

I though it might be fun to share with our readers some weddings that as a pastor I have both been a part of and learned about from other pastors. The first of these happen to me many years ago and in such a place that none of you would be able to put it together. I was going through the vows with the bride and groom when she mouthed to me that she had forgotten the grooms ring. I pointed to my ring finger and began to remove it so that I could slip it to her and no one would be the wiser. About that same time it occurred to the brides mother that she did not have the ring so she slipped out of her front row seat went into the brides dressing room retrieved the ring and then in order to get it to me she duck walked behind the choir rail with the missing ring in hand and suddenly I felt this tapping on my bottom. I reached behind me and she place the ring firmly into my hand. Then she slowly duck walked back to the choir door, returned to the service and felt secure in believing that no one was the wiser. Unfortunately she did not realize that our TV camera located high in the back ceiling had recorder for the world to forever see her famous duck walk. At the reception we showed the tape over and over and all had a great laugh.

I followed at one church a pastor who thought it would be fun to really perform the ceremony on the night of the rehearsal. He did so, signed the license gave them to the couple and told them that now they could relax for the next day the ‘real’ wedding would just be a walk through and there would be no need to be nervous. Now that seemed innocent enough on the surface but unknowing to him the bride and groom took off that night for their honeymoon. The next day when the guest arrived for the wedding all was well except no bride and groom, they were a ‘no show.’ Since the bride’s parents had spent several thousands of dollars on the wedding and since they were both leading member of the congregation you can understand why I followed that minister. Yep, he got the ax that night. For sure I never made that mistake. A couple of other ‘wedding disasters’ and then I close.

I had a groom who became so nervous that when I said, “Tom repeat after me”, he said, “Tom repeat after me.” I was so surprised that I lost it and just said, “Tom do you want to marry her?” He smiled really big and said, “I sure do and thanks for not having all that repeating.”

Yes I had one wedding where the groom did not show. It was a tragic day but in time it proved to be a wonderful gift that he had given to the rejected bride for she would have spent a life of regret had he shown.

Once the groom dropped the ring and it rolled across the floor and through the air condition vent. We waited until later to retrieve the ring and many of the people attending the wedding never knew of the journey of that dropped ring. The best man pretended to pick it up and we went on as if nothing had happened.

There have been candles that set the decorations on fire, bride’s maids who have fainted and soloist who forgot and did not show. License not purchased tuxedo that did not fit and many, many small children that had a circus.

But on June 20, 2009 we were all blessed and impressed as our friends, Ian Gilliam and Heather Capps took their covenant vows. All went well and it would have been perfect except that when the pastor, who happened to be me, went to introduce the newly married couple he said, ‘I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Ian Gibson.’ Wrong last name. Maybe I was thinking that Ian looked like Eddie, I’m sure it wasn’t Sam. I made the correction to Mr. and Mrs. Ian Gilliam and as if he wanted to save me from total embarrassment one of the groomsmen, we want name him; just call him, TC, as the wedding party was leaving the alter area, picked up one of the bridesmaids and carried her out of the church. The congregation loved it and all applauded. The last I heard I still have a job, but if you wish to hear me preach I suggest you attend very soon.

Published in: on June 21, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Are You A Vessel

Do you realize that you are a chosen vessel, chosen by God?   You can understand how cautious Ananias had to be when he received instructions to befriend Saul, later to be Paul.  Saul’s reputation had come before him and all who knew of him must have feared for their lives so it is a wonderful thing that Ananias did in being faithful to the call of God.  I believe that our Lord wants each of us to be His vessel. For Ananias being a vessel required him to believe and trust in the call of God. It might seem to us to have been a very small vessel but not to God.  Ananias did what God called him to do that is the entire requirement for us to be a vessel for Him. As we believe in Jesus and receive the salvation he gives then we become the vessel by being obedient to His will. I may pastor what the world calls a small church, but it is God’s church and thus I am successful not because of the size of the church I pastor but because of the trust I display in doing what God wants me to do. God know where you are, He is aware of your skills and abilities. He understands your personality, your short comings and your very positive abilities. There is a child waiting for you to give them approval, an aged person in need of a word of comfort and understanding, and any number of others just waiting for your touch and your smile today.  From the cashier at the place you do business to the person who waits on your table they are vessels needing to be filled and God has given to you the volume of just the right ingredient to fill that vessel. Do it today.

 Ivan
Published in: on June 20, 2011 at 1:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Goodbye

The sun was just beginning to break through the clouds of the eastern sky as he walked toward the grave of his son. It had been less than a week since they place his body in that grave and already he could not remember what the fight had been about. Something to do with his son wanting to go somewhere and his saying no until they got into one of those familiar fights that so often drove deep wedges between them. He did not remember why he had not wanted him to go, just that he had said so and that should be enough. But now he would never say yes and never say no again. The tears blocked his vision of the still fresh dirt that covered the grave, his body wanted to shake, his head wanted to explode, and his voice wanted to shout, “I am sorry son!” but there was no one to hear and no way for the words to reach through that awful dirt. Sixteen years that was all he had to touch, speak, and hold his son; too little time, not a lifetime, it should have been a lifetime and his son should be standing here and the grave should be his, but it was not so and not all the time and tears and screams would change that certain fact. He said in a low tear filled voice, “Son I wish I had know about today, about the wreck last week, about the shortness of our time. Son, O my son how I wish I had been a better father.” He turned to walk toward the car and in his heart he saw the visions of thousands of fathers coming to say the same to their sons. On Sunday with tears streaming down his face he would say, “Live now, love now, use now, for it can be so very short and then it can never be again.” Ivan
Published in: on June 17, 2011 at 12:12 am  Comments (1)