Before Congress July 31, 2009

I have had the privilege to open the session of congress with prayer twice in my ministry. I owe this honor to Congressman Lincoln Davis who is a member of the First Baptist Church of Byrdstown, Tn. This is the prayer I prayed in 2009, I believe you could join me in praying it today for our congress.

Opening Prayer Given by the Guest Chaplain:

Almighty and eternal Father, we humbly come before you in this hallowed place that we might seek your wisdom for the work that you have set before this chosen group of leaders.  Father, many in our country are hurting this morning, many others are confused and fearful of what the future holds; they need the help of this congress.  God, accept this prayer as our confession of total dependence on you. Forgive us where we have fallen short of your best. You know the solution this body of men and women seeks; now may they receive your wisdom, your knowledge and your solution.  May future generations call these now assembled, “The greatest Generation” for like those of the past who rose to the cause of their country, may these also rise to the greatness which you have given to them.

God Bless America. We pray in our savior’s name. Amen.

Published in: on July 29, 2011 at 12:06 am  Leave a Comment  

She Didn’t Come Home

 

The house mom said that he had been crying for a long time and she just did not know what to do. I went by the house and asked Wayne if he would go sit in the swing with me out in the front yard.  He did not want to but he did. I could see that he had been crying so I said, “Tell me Wayne, what has got you upset?” He said, “She didn’t come home”. “Who didn’t come home Wayne?” I asked “Mother,” he answered, “Daddy said she would come home but she didn’t and now it has been a long time and she still has not come home.” I was there now, I knew the problem. I talked to him about the bad dream he had and how he probably had it often. Always around his mother not coming home. He nodded, and I hugged him and we talked about a few good memories he had when his mother was at home and life was nice. I talked about how much his house parents loved him and how very sad we were that mother had not come home and dad had to bring him and his sisters to live with us. It wasn’t an answer, I understood that, but it helped him get it out and talk about all that was burning inside of him.  It is hard at eight to have a hurt so big inside that never goes away. You blame yourself, your dad, your brothers and sisters and even those of us at the children’s home. See when the hurt is so large sometime it just comes out even when we don’t want it to. Wayne was a good kid, he was very little trouble, but the dreams and hurts sometimes just overflowed out of him.  Maybe it would be anger, maybe fear, maybe like this morning tears.  Be careful when you judge other people, remember you can never know the giant that lives within, the hole that forms in their heart and the hurt that will not go away.  Wayne got better that day, but I knew there would be other days and other tall mountains and sharp curves.  All we could do was to hold him and assure him that we were going to be there, we would come back, because we would never leave.  Pray for the people who spend their lives holding the Wayne’s of this world, they are giant people and need our prayers.

 

Ivan

Published in: on July 28, 2011 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Moments Count

I recently received an email from a young man reminding me of a moment in both of our lives.

 His story:

Bill and a friend had left the home they were assigned to on the campus of our children’s home just after midnight.  They got into our office through a door they had ‘fixed’ so it could not be locked, found the keys to a car parked on the campus and took off south on interstate 65. When they got to exit 32 they got off at an all night service station to take a break and get something to drink. Not being experienced drivers as they were leaving they miss-turned the car and ran into the station’s tall sign post, causing no damage to the post but releasing the air bags in the car and thus making it un-drivable to them. Now, frightened they took off by foot toward Bill’s grandmother’s house.  They saw two bikes in a yard decided to steal the bikes and then made their way about five miles to Bill’s grandmother’s home. There they made up some story about a game they were playing, ate breakfast about 4 in the morning and talked his grandmother into returning them to the campus.  They arrived in time to get back into the house and were there for breakfast call as if they had never left.  Later I was called and asked if we were the owner of a certain car that had been wrecked and left at exit 32 on interstate 65.  I assured them that we had such a car but I did not know it was missing. After some checking, going down to see the car, knowing it was ours and realizing that I was near Bill’s grandmother’s home I begin to put thing together and returned to the campus to talk with Bill. He was asleep on the floor of the family room when I got to his assigned home. The house parents had not noticed anything different except that Bill seemed very sleepily.  I woke Bill and took him outside to get the story.  After several attempts at explaining with one story after another, I checked his closet and found that most of his clothing was in a black trash bag. It was then that the truth started to come to the top. He told me who had been with him and I explained what was going to happen next. I called the police but went with them to the juvenile court and asked that I be made their guardian for this matter and assured the judge that they would make all things right. I was granted the authority and over the next year those two boys and I became close friends. I watched them learn to work, to tell the truth even when it hurt and to take responsibility for their mistakes. It was a very good year and both boys went on to complete high school and are now doing well in jobs growing out of those first ‘required’ jobs that I found for them. Bill’s email reminded me that it was the moment when I told him that I would go with him to see the judge, to visit and tell his grandmother, and to return and ask forgiveness for the stolen bikes, that his life begin to change. He said ‘Even when you knew the truth you were willing to stand by me.’   Without that moment he said he would no doubt now either be in jail or on the wanted list instead of building a life.  I remind all of us as parents, grandparents, and adults that we need to capture those moments.  We must not allow our temper, our feelings, or our emotions to destroy that moment that might forever make a difference. Ask God to allow the moment to be seized by us and used for the good of all involved.

 After all –  Moments Count.

Published in: on July 27, 2011 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

A Dusty Morning is Coming

The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.  Genesis 2:7

I visited my parents’ graves recently when I was in Jackson. It occurred to me that one of these getting up mornings there is going to be a great dust storm in that place and God is going to call out of the dust my wonderful parents. Mom and dad were not perfect people but they knew, worshiped, and trusted in a perfect savior. Mother had asked me just a few hours before she died, not even knowing that she was sick, if when we died we had to stay in the grave until Jesus came for us or if we went on to be with him in the moment of death. I remember that I was driving the car and she was in the front seat next to me, we were at the corner of College and South Royal Streets, when she asked me that question some 34 years ago. I told her that it was my belief, because of what Jesus had said to the believing thief who was dying with him on the cross, that our spirit would go immediately to be with the Lord and then someday He would come to receive our bodies. Mom discovered the truth for herself that very day in less than four hours.  In the same area where my parents are buried, my sister Alice is buried a space for husband Ed is also there, my brother-in-law Ralph is there with a space for my sister Peggy. Now that is going to be some dusty ground when the trump of God sounds and Jesus breaks the Eastern Sky. But not to worry just as their spirits are now with Him, He will return for their new resurrected bodied. Out of that dust He will call them and they will go to be with their Spirits to live in His glory forever.  Just wait for the dust.

Ivan

Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 12:03 am  Comments (2)  

Rachel

 

I really didn’t know Rachel, well I did know who she was and we had talked a few times after church but it was very surface. I did remember how she had told me of her love for Jesus and how wonderful it was when she was saved. It is always such a joy to share that moment of awakening that takes place when a person meets Jesus as their savior. She and her husband attended the church like most member, Sunday mornings, missing about half the time and making it about half the time. He was a very driven man, saw everything from his point of view and was so strong in his opinions that most people just avoided talking with him.  She just stood in the shadow, smiled or bowed her head and silently moved out of the area. You have met a thousand people like him; the conversation is always in one direction, his or it is so challenged that no one wishes to continue. At some point they drifted out of the church, I left and years went by without my hearing anything from them or about them. Then early one morning I received a phone call and Rachel’s husband was in great distress and tears. He told me that she had killed herself and left him with the task of taking care of all the duties of death. The tone and direction of the conversation did not surprise me, it sounded so like him. The tears were not for Rachel and her broken heart and torn mind that had led to this tragic event they were all about him, his duties, the cost and all the trouble she had left him with. The bottom line of the call was, “Knowing she killed herself and is now in hell I wondered if you would come and say a prayer at the grave one day next week when I can have the time to bury her?” I started to challenge his word but decided I would have a better chance at the grave but assured him that I would come to their city and have the grave side service for Rachel.  I have never been good at funerals and always wondered just what to say and of course this service was going to be difficult, but with God’s help I would get through and this too would pass. Time came and I joined the dozen or so people who came to the cemetery and stood with me at the grave. He was strong in his opinion of her current residence and let everyone in hearing range know his strong feelings.  I read some scripture of the assurance of God’s grace, prayed, said a few words as I understood them about Rachel and then zeroed in on this thought, ‘Would you like to be remember and judged by your worst moment?’ I paused a long time then told about Rachel sharing with me her moment of salvation. Assured those who would listen of the forgiveness and grace of God and then I closed with a prayer thanking God that His children, even when they were wrong were still His children. He left the grave sight without speaking, I still have never heard from him. Maybe, someday he will understand the love and salvation of God.

Ivan

Published in: on July 25, 2011 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Be Careful

Behold, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  First John 4:11

 How can we see how much He loves us and accept that love, and then not love one another? I sometimes believe that our greatest fear should be the way we feel about others. I am sure and I believe the scripture proves this that a heart that hates others has a very difficult time in finding room and emotions to love God. His word speaks about being careful of our feeling for others and realizing that if we are so bitter about those we know how can we express our love for Jesus? With that start I am not sure how to continue. I am almost certain that no one will really understand my thinking and that many might just get mad. I see this instruction from our Lord being broken every day. I get mail where even Christians express their hate for other people.  Now I understand fear, and I fear for a lot of things for my country, however in all of my fears I must not hate people.  I see us saying one thing and doing another. For example God loves all people and desires for them to be saved. Somewhere in that concept is the central theme that our hearts, while standing against Actions that are proof in themselves that we do have enemies, we must dip ourselves so deep into His love that we can see the soul of a man as being worthy of salvation and seek his salvation. But we must not hate people. I sometime feel that we have gathered ourselves into such camps of dislike and distrust that we are very likely to come away with great walls of hate being built even among friends. How can we ever overcome some of the things we say about each other? Don’t allow your fear to be so great that it over rides your need to see others as loved by God and even desired by Him.

Ivan

Published in: on July 22, 2011 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Honoring Those Who Serve

 

He sees the broken bodies lying around him.  

Like you I seek to daily pray for those who serve us in far away places and always in harms way. In the war of this time the lines are not so clearly drawn and it is not always easy to know the enemy. We did not arrive in these countries with cheering crowds lining the street to welcome us for our liberation. In World War Two our men and women marched into broken countries and were welcomed with open arms by those who were being set free, but today, today the enemy dresses like the liberated and with one hand we may be embraced while with the other plans to kill us are taking place.  But here we see two victims of our new way of war; the first, a small child being held in the arms of one of our brave. This innocent child never had a chance, no one love him enough to cover him with their protection so our second victim, the solider, now comforts this fallen child with his love and body. This is the war no one can understand and this is the war that our young men and women are called upon to live through.  Pray for them, lift them as this solider does this child, into the arms of God.  Thank you, all of you for serving and may your memory someday be clear to see that what you did and how you touched did make a difference.

Ivan

Published in: on July 21, 2011 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

When Life Was Simple

 
Life was simple at 246 South Lindsey Street, when I was a boy. In the winter we went to school, ‘played out’ as we called it in the yard, if it was not too cold, till dark, then had supper, listened to the radio and went to bed. In the summer we just spent the day outside.  Sure we had chores, going to the grocery store, about three blocks away, cutting the yard, feeding the pets and a few other things as mother remembered to ask me to do, but for the most part we played out.  Johnnie Barber and I were next door neighbors and most of the time we formed the group of boys and girls involved in cowboy and Indians, baseball, building a fort out of sticks and old lumber on the vacant lot and just hanging around.  We road sticks for horses and held other sticks for guns and in general ‘pretended’ that so many things were real. I collected leaves from trees, put them in a bag and called it money. We chipped the concrete off of bricks, we had a great pile of them which later my father would brick out house with; and called it gold. In later years we road our bikes, cut yards for other people for about 25 cents, went to the store for anyone who would let us, most often they gave us a nickel, and wondered what girls were all about. It was simple, fun, safe, and we looked forward to each new day.  I remember Betty Upton teasing me because I had only a plain stick for my horse, so she assured me that I did not know which way I was going, front or back.  I fixed her; I stuck one end of my stick horse in a can of white paint and called it the head that way I always knew which way I was going. Betty was the one thing or person that Johnnie and I disagreed on, we both ‘claimed’ her, strange language but that is what we called it in those days. This sometime caused a falling out in our friendship but never more than a few hours. After all a girl couldn’t come between us guys.  We listened to the Lone Ranger, Sky King, and Gang Busters on the radio and replayed them in the yards and fields of Lindsey Street. Life was simple, innocent and good; in my old age I sometimes dream at night of that street and those kids and the joys of having very little but feeling very fortunate. Life is not simple now, it is not innocent, and the dreams of a boy are now brief, fuzzy, and not so many as long ago.
 

Ivan

Published in: on July 20, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Moments in the Master’s Land

 

At the Sea of Galilee

Now and then life gives to us one of those moments for which we have longed. As a boy it was a simple fishing trip with my dad, fishing from a boat near Pickwick dam, spending the night at my grandparent’s house in Dyersburg. Later it was standing dressed in United States Navy blues and receiving the honors as our colors were marched on the parade field before us.  Too many others to count but in recent days it was standing in the land of my Master, realizing that Jesus had walked these roads, climbed these hills, and road in a boat across this great lake. Our trip to Israel was a dream from my early childhood that waited until my closing years to come to reality. As a boy I looked at the pictures in the bible and wondered what the land really looked like, very little resembled the pictures of my childhood bible. Now I have been there and I share these Moments in the Master’s Land with you.

Moments by the Sea:

For our first six days we stayed in Tiberius on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. While the city is only mentioned once in the bible the sea served as a central part of much of Jesus’ ministry.  I sat in the dark one night and listened as the waters of the sea lapped against the wall which protected our hotel from erosion. Far across to its eastern shore you could see the lights of Jordan, on the sea itself were fishing boats searching for their catch in the light of the full moon. I wondered if it were somewhere near here that Jesus took a boat across to the other side to teach the people.  Maybe it was close by that He walked to his disciples as they trembled in their boat during a storm.  Somewhere on that sea Jesus had slept in a boat while his disciples feared for their lives because of the storm. It was here that he told them where to cast their nets so that they would have fish aplenty.  From this sea he called a fish to bring him a coin so that he might pay his taxes. By this sea in his resurrected body he prepared breakfast for his disciples and told them in the early morning hours to cast over there for a great school of fish and then to drag them to shore and join him in a seaman’s breakfast. Looking across that great sea I could almost hear the Master saying, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

Published in: on July 19, 2011 at 12:04 am  Leave a Comment  

The Way it is with Friends

 

John got to his doctor’s appointment a few minutes early, this was not his first time here, and in fact this had come to seem like a regular stop on his journey of life these past four weeks. He had seen several medical specialists, other doctors, had uncountable test run and now he was going to sit and listen to his long time physician and friend wrap it all up for him… The staff treated John like one of the family; they kidded and teased him about coming so much they were going to name a chair after him. Shirley the doctor’s nurse called his name and led him back to the doctor’s office, not an examining room, but the office. He had been Dr. Welch’s patient for twenty years and they had long before now become good friends. After the greeting John said, “Well what’s the verdict doc, give me the news.” The doctor put his hand on his friends shoulder and said, “How much do you want to know John?”  “Everything doc, give me all of it.” Then the darkness came and time seemed to stand at attention, not moving, just silence in the ticking of the clock. The doctor explained that it was indeed cancer and in fact it was by all of his experience and that of all the specialists he had seen, that there was little more than making him comfortable for them to do. With their knowledge and past cases of this cancer it was only a matter of time and not very much of that, maybe six months, maybe another month or two either way at the most. “I am sorry my friend,” Dr Welch said, “I sure have dreaded today and this conversation, but we are too close for me to do other wise than to tell you the entire story John.” John thanked him they hugged, and then talked of what he might expect and what they could do about his pain. Since he lived alone what plans he needed to make and what choices the doctor could help him with.  The doctor let him out of the door that led directly into the hall across from the elevators. John spoke to himself inside his own soul as he road down the six stories and walked to his car. As he drove away he said, “Well Lord you heard all of that, and I am sure you already knew, I sure am glad that we are friends and that you are going to be here to walk with me these next several months. Help me Lord to know that you are here, not to try to assign blame, to be bitter, and to leave with the same great friendship we have had over these last forty years. Going to need to be a bit closer Lord, but I know you won’t mind and when it is time Lord just touch my hand so that I will know to follow you.” Four months and six days later as John turned to find a sleeping spot in his bed he felt ‘His Hand’ and when the nurse came the next morning to check on him there he was in his sleeping spot. 

 

Ivan

Published in: on July 18, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment