Wisely Used

Backward turn backward O time in your flight make me a boy again if just for tonight. I remember this song because it was the first record I ever purchased. I ‘kinda’ like a girl in high school and heard her tell a friend that the song, “Backward Turn Backward” was one of her favorites. So the next day I went by Jacob’s Music in Jackson and purchased the record by Redd Steward. That was my first time to buy a record so I was a bit up tight and when the man asked me if I wanted to go into the booth and listen to the record, I said yes even though I didn’t know what he was talking about. But I chase rabbits, she liked the record, (by the way the words to the original song were a love Ballard) seemed to be impressed that I had given it to her and for a moment life seemed very nice.
But in truth no matter how many of those records I purchase time is not going to turn backward for me; in fact it will not even slow down, but it does appear that I am going to make it into 2012, not bad, not bad at all. But the real question is not my making it but what am I going to do with it? I sometimes feel that I am keeping a younger man from being the pastor here by staying on at this age. I think about all the young guys coming out of school and wonder how many of them look at guys like me and ask themselves when are we going to realize how old we are and that it is time to put it to bed. I would like to leave when I am ahead rather than wait for people to say, when in the world, but on I go with no plans to step down, fall down maybe, but not step. So I ask for the prayers of those who read this that the Lord would have my full attention to His plans and that as I enter 2012 I might be a faithful and useful servant. I wish for you and those whom you love a wonderful Christ directed New Year. While time will not turn backward ask God that it will turn wisely used. – See you next year –

Ivan

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Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

On His Way

John looked around and saw that the place was filled with people, maybe sixty or seventy thousand people all of them listened to the man at the end of the field who was ‘preaching’ he believed that was what it was called. He wasn’t really all that sure how he had gotten there, but here he was one of the spell bound crowd of thousands. The man said something about family and John remembered his family. He was the last child of a family of three children. The man sounded like family was a warm and fuzzy word, he should know about his family he thought. His older brother, the ‘first born’ had always made fun of him, teased him and blamed him for anything that happened that upset his parents. He was good at everything, the star ball player, great with grades, and all the girls ran after him. But warm and fuzzy he wasn’t, he was selfish and mean. His sister was a tramp and no one knew it; she was little Miss Perfect and everything else at school but he knew and because he knew she treated him like dirt. If his parents loved each other he had never heard them say so, with words, with jesters, in any way. They just screamed and yelled and he just hid. Why would this preacher call God father? If he was anything like his father he didn’t want to know him and didn’t need that a second time around. He shook his head, which entrance had he used, what made him come to this place, he thought he would just leave, but the preacher said for everyone to be still and not to disturb others. He was talking about giving your life to Christ, being forgiven, loved and cared about. He asked if they would like to start over, visit the land of beginning again. ‘If there were such a place he would sure like to go there’. John thought to himself, he really did need to start over. The people behind the preacher were standing and singing and all over the field he saw people moving down the steps, onto the field and going toward the front. Suddenly he saw Billy Graham turn and he was sure he was looking straight at him, and say, “Why don’t you come, let us tell you about the land of beginning again, come to Jesus, come to Jesus, Just as you are, come, do it now.” John looked back, his seat was empty and he was half way down the field, just as He was, He was going to meet this man Jesus, he was going to find this Land of Beginning Again.

Ivan

Published in: on December 29, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Just Looking Around

After reading the book “Heaven is Real”, I decided to visit the cemetery. Not sure why, don’t know what I expected to see that I have not seen on other visits, just decided to go. My parents are buried next to one another; mother was the first, then dad. It has been 34 years for mom and 24 for dad. The marker has changed color, darker, duller, but it is just a marker. My brother-in-law was the next to be buried there, then my sister Alice. When we buried mother a robin had made her nest in the then small tree near the grave, now, winter has come, the robin is gone, and the tree has become a great tree. A lot of empty places around for family members, most of us are old enough to be there but the ground still waits, and it will. Peggy is in the hospital in Memphis today, her health is not good, Ed my sister’s husband is in poor health, I am here, and of course Carole is still the kid among us, her ground will be very old before she needs it. Got in the car, looked out the window, wept a moment, then left. Someday this body will not be able to drive away. Visited my Son-In-Law’s grave, he died too young, missed his beautiful wife and their son who now plays football like a champ, I wish he had not missed it, I love her husband, but I do miss for Jim those moments of cheering his son. I left, it was cold and gray, and almost dark, and maybe I will go back some day, maybe not. Just thinking out loud today, just remembering the brown grass, the flat markers and knowing in my heart that none of these whom I love are in those places. Sure bodies are there, but they, they are with Jesus and in that knowledge the gray sky becomes a brilliant color, and the gloom of remembering becomes joy and assurance. See you guys.

Ivan

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

God Does Not Have an Eraser

David walked down Bourbon Street and turned right onto St. Peter Street , the air was pungent with the odors of the night before and the fog that had moved in from the Mississippi River kept it close to the ground. David had never smelt such an odor, he watched as the street crew washed off the spilled beer from the night before and others gather large bags of trash to throw into the truck that stood double parked on St. Peter’s almost at the Jackson Square . Not many people were about and the whole area appeared to be suffering from the hangover of a night of riotous living. David felt a bit of breeze as he reached the Square, at least here the air was breathable he thought. He saw her leaning against the front of St. Louis Cathedral her back against the building her head hanging over almost in her lap, she was pitiful, covered in layers of clothing, and no doubt she was wearing her wardrobe, skin the color of death, hair matted with the smells of the streets of the French Quarters. He walked across Jackson Square to Café du Monda, got two beignets and a large cup of coffee, picked up a couple of cups of creamer, some sugar packs and a stirring stick and walked back to the figure of a woman. “Marie would you like a cup of coffee and a beignet?” he asked. She stirred, pulled her head back against the wall of the cathedral and said, “How do you know me? I ant’s never seen you before and I am closed, no business today, no business, go away.” “Here take the coffee,” he said, holding it so that the aroma would fill the pungent air, “I am not here for business, just some time, how about this?” Then he place a hundred dollar bill in her hand and watched as she waded it and placed it inside her blouse. “You crazy man, nothing I know is worth that much bread.” She took the coffee and beignet and taking a sip and bite she looked with her unclear eyes into his face. “I just came to share a minute,” he said, “I know about what happened when you were fifteen, I know about your dad the preacher, the boy friend, your dad taking you to the Clinic in New York, the abortion, I know all of that Marie, I just wanted to know if you remember the Sunday in July when you were nine and were saved and then baptized? I was just wondering?” “So long ago she said, so long. I know that by now God has wiped my name from His book; I didn’t mean to do that, we just got crazy one night and then my world fell apart, Daddy went crazy, we killed that baby and as soon as I turn eighteen I left and have never looked back. Who are you, how do you know all of that? I must be crazy; well I know I am after all of the years living in this hole.” “You are not crazy mother,” David said, “Just frightened, confused, and I have come to take you out of this hole. Drink your coffee, God does not erase what He writes in His Son’s blood; you ready, Marie?” He held out his hand and she looked into his eyes and said, “What did you call me?” “Marie” he answered. “No before that, you said, mother; mother, I can’t be a mother, I can’t I am not fit.” Time to go Mom, time to go, he took her hand and they walked toward the Andrew Jackson monument, he looked back and saw her worn out form leading now on the sidewalk of the Cathedral, “Let’s go home, mom, lets go home.”

Published in: on December 27, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Journey

Joseph wrapped Mary in the blanket and placed the Child Jesus next to her. It was not cold, but it was too cool for the newborn and he would need his mothers warmth. Then Joseph stretched out on the mat bed beside her and tried to find sleep after all the events of the recent hours. Kings had been in this humble place, prayers had been lifted and the room had been filled with the Glory of the Lord. Now he needed sleep, he must keep his strength and be awake and strong for his new family when the light of morning broke. Suddenly he saw him; the Angel of months ago had returned, he was telling Joseph that he must take his wife and the young child and flee to Egypt. It was necessary for the safety of the child and his family. But how, Joseph wrestled in his mind, how can I go, what will I do and how will I live. The Angel spoke softly; you came from Nazareth with most of your possessions, you have the donkey and with the funds that King Balthasar and his friends gave to the child there will be plenty. Use the gold first and wait until you arrive in Egypt to sell the other gifts, with your skills as a carpenter and these funds you will have all the Child needs to remain safe until I come to get you. Now go Joseph, go before the dawn. Joseph prepared the donkey and got all the items together waiting until the last moment to wake Mary and tell her of their trip. Then he stood at the door of the small house and looked at the bundle tied to the donkey which contained the gifts of the kings and fell on his knees to praise God for always proving a way.

Ivan

Published in: on December 26, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Star (Epilogue)

Story of the Wise Men in the view of Ivan

It had been over thirty years since Tolui had been in this land of the Hebrews. Then he had been a young boy with his father King Balthasar and they had visited this very Jesus that the multitudes were hurrying about to see, some shouting insults and others shouting faith. His father was now dead and Tolui should have been king but his eyes had gone blind and his younger brother had stolen the throne from him. Now here he was once more in this foreign land, but this time not being led by a star but being led by a faithful servant and dressed in the clothes of a beggar. He could hear the people shouting to be made whole, others were whispering that Jesus was soon to be arrested and killed. Tolui did not know what to believe he simply held on to his servant and listened to the mixture of the crowd. Then he felt a touch, it was the touch he had felt years ago in that one room mud house. The touch of that baby, the baby his father had said was the Son of God. “See my friend, see again, and this time believe”, said the man who touched his face. Tolui felt the warmth of the touch, heard the soft words of the voice and suddenly his eyes saw the robe of Jesus moving before him. He wanted to rush and fall before Him to worship Him, but the multitude was too great and Jesus moved on. “I believe”, Tolui shouted, “I believe.”

Ivan

Published in: on December 23, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Star (Chapter Two)

Journey of The Wise Men as seen by Ivan

Tolui shook as he held the baby, this small child this room filled with a light from outside; all of it made him feel so strange, not bad, but unworthy to even be here and that he could not understand. His personal bedroom was larger than this whole house, his clothes were by far superior to anything they were wearing, yet somehow he knew that he was the unworthy one in this humble place. His father, King Balthasar, motioned with his eyes for him to return the child to the mother and as he did so his father reached and touched the child more tenderly than Tolui had ever seen him do with anyone. Then he knelt and nodded for Tolui to kneel as well as the other two kings. The room was filled with the silence of heaven as his father bowed before the child and then he heard the words coming from his father’s lips. “Almighty creator, Yahweh, giver of life and Father of this child forgive our presence in this house and let the glory of this moment change each of us forever and forever. May our camels never walk the same, may our minds never seek the same, and may our hearts never belong to anyone except the Father of this Child before whom we bow and pray.” I was sure he heard the sounds of wings in the room, the groans of the mud from which the house was built and felt the warmth of the Star shinning outside in the darken sky. His father, King Balthasar, was bowing before a child and praying to a God whose name he did not know. Here in a house of one room made from mud, here before these humble people of this foreign land his father a King was bowing. Tolui followed his father, King Balthasar as he rose from the floor and backed slowly out of the small one room house. They turned and walked toward the camels and Tolui asked, “Father what happened in there? Who are those people and why did you pray to that man, the one you called Yahweh?” “No son”, Balthasar said, “I did not pray to the man in the room.” “But father you said father of this child. There was no other man in the room and he was not as great as you, he was not.” ” I understand why you are confused my son, but the man standing there is an ordinary man with and extraordinary job to do. He is not the father, but only appointed by Yahweh to serve as the father of the child in the place of God. God is the Father.” “I do not understand. I know about these things but this I do not understand.” Tolui said, “And who is this Yahweh?” “Child, Child”, King Balthasar said, “Yahweh is the God of the Hebrews who once lived in our country as slaves and served our families. They told us of their God, Yahweh, and now I know that not only is He the God of the Hebrews but He is also the Creator and God of all peoples.” “But father”, Tolui spoke and the King interrupted him, “Son the prophet of the Hebrews, Isaiah, told them that a Virgin would have a child and that the child would be the Son of God, even God Himself with us. Tonight my son you held God in your arms.”

Ivan

Published in: on December 22, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Star (Chapter 1)

Journey of the Wise Men as seen by Ivan

Tolui stretched his body on the dusty ground with his head and shoulders resting against his father’s camel. He could see the star almost directly above his head; his heart beat fast as he dreamed of all the possibilities of this night. His father, King Balthasar had instructed him to stay with the camel. He knew that it was not necessary, the desert beast would not move without his father’s command, but stand watch he did. There were at least fifty soldiers and servants also resting on the ground in the area and another four hundred or so camped outside the small village making ready their journey back to the homeland almost two years away. Tolui wonder what or who lived in this small house. It was certainly not the home of a king, not even a minor ruler; in fact it looked like it had only one room. Who could be so important that his father would spend almost two years to find this place and he and his two fellow rulers would go unprotected into this peasant’s house. He had just turned twelve when they left his country and he would be sixteen by the time they returned. What is in that house that makes it so very important? Why would his father travel so far, spend four years of his life to make the round trip journey, what or who could it possible be. Then there was the star, that star that had started this journey. His father was a priest of astrology but to come this far, to end the journey in this nothing house in this unknown village what is in that house? I felt the camel raise its head and saw the nostrils open and close, and then it turned toward the small house and seemed to recognize something. It was his father, King Balthasar standing in the doorway of the house. “Tolui”, he called, “Come son and visit with me.” The boy arose and walked swiftly to the door and his father. Tolui was amazed at what he saw; the floor was dirt and true to his thinking there was only one room. A mat that looked something like a bed was in one corner and a young girl just a few years older than he was sitting on a stool holding a baby. A tall older man stood next to her and looked with wonder at both the mother and child. His father said, “Come son and touch the child, do it softly boy, do it with care.” Tolui reached out his hand and felt the warmth of the young child as his flesh touched him. It was almost as if this baby knew that he was here and that he had come from some far off place to stand in this little room and behold his face. The mother lifted the baby and nudged the boy to hold him in his arms for just a moment. Tolui had never felt such joy, such completeness, such love. The great star from overhead of the house seemed somehow to bring a heavenly glow to the humble room. Gifts lay on the floor before the mother, gifts his father and the others had brought. Who is this I am holding he thought; who is this child that we have traveled two years to see and hold?

Ivan (Comments Welcomed; Chapter 2 tomorrow)

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

The Christmas Play

After watching our Children’s Christmas program last night I realized once again how much God loves families. I think we can say without error that the ‘Christ Who Came’, Came to bless the family. God choose for His son to come into the world through a family, Jesus, even though He was the Son of God, lived in a family, Shepard’s came to visit His birth, Angels came to sing, and Wise me traveled almost two years to bow before his crib. Because of all of that just look at the side bar, this month in thousands of churches across the world families will gather to see their little ones as angels, Shepard’s, wise men, and Joseph and Mary. See how much He loves families and why I say He came to bless the family. Our church was filled with parents, grandparents, and an un-namable number of other relatives just to watch as their little ones, played sheep, others the various characters of the scene from Bethlehem . It was glorious, everyone straining to see their small one, each one beaming as they listened to the songs heard the instruments being played and watched with proud looks as the story told by the children blessed our hearts with the glorious story told for more than 2000 years and yet not old, still moving, and still relevant to our lives. Think about it; it is not the profound things which causes our hearts to leap with joy and our imaginations wonder over the long ago, it is the simple and true story of our Lord coming to live in a home with a family that gathers thousands of families around the manger at Christmas. The Christ Who Came, Came to bless our homes and families.

Ivan

Merry Christmas to all:  Click Address >   http://www.wix.com/missionman/ivanand-carole

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

My Old Coat

I wish there were some wonderful place called the Land of Beginning Again where all my mistakes and all my heartacks like a dirty old coat could be left at the gate and never put on again. If I have said that once I have said it a thousand times it is a corruption of a poem written by E. Lutzer, his is much better, but my altered version says what my heart says. I know that there is such a place, for some it will be the manger at Bethlehem, others will see it in the gentle words of Jesus, many at the foot of the cross, and still others at that moment when they turned loose of their life and allowed Christ to mark their journey by His map. For me it was a Thursday night in February of 1947 when from the third row from the front on the left side at Calvary Baptist Church, corner of Lexington and Tomlin, in Jackson, Tennessee, that I stepped down the isle of our church gave my hand to Dr. Walter Warmouth and my heart to Jesus. So life does begin at Calvary , and that started from the heart of God by way of the stable of Bethlehem . I have made a lot of mistakes since that Thursday in 1947, failed, and dropped the ball, use what pleases you to make a negative, but that night God took the heart of a nine year old boy from 246 South Lindsey Street , opened its door and stepped inside. I am sure He wanted to leave a thousand times and more but He did not and He will not for from the cross He had told me to bring all my mistakes and all my heartacks to Him and I could leave them there and like a worn out coat, dirty and ragged never put it on again. Christmas is a wonderful time for me to say one more time, Thank you Lord for the Land of Beginning Again , thank you for taking my old coat and placing around my unworthy body the Glorious coat of your Son, Jesus.

Ivan

Published in: on December 16, 2011 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)