We Owe a Big Price

Here it is almost February nine months from the election and I am already weary of the process. I am also embarrassed at the amount of money that is spent in America to choose a nominee and then to elect them. My choice would be to have each person wishing to be chosen by their party to have 30 minutes of TV and Radio air time, then have all of the primaries on the same day, then let the parties fight it out in their conventions then on to the national election. But I am sure that is not a perfect system, maybe there is no perfect system but it would sure save a lot of ear time and money. I am old enough to remember when we would gather around the radio about dinner time and hear all the news of the war. Gabriel Heatter, Walter Winchell, Edward R. Murrow, and Drew Person would bring us all to our knees praying for our troops, leaders, and country. I can still remember Walter Winchell saying over the background of the ticking telegraph key, ‘Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America from shore to shore and border to border and all the ships at sea.’ Since this and the daily newspaper were our only source of news we listen quietly and intently to the broadcast. We did not have 24/7 news to repeat the same thing thousands of times. Wake up at 3 am and you can have your choice of a number of news channels, you will hear the same thing told in a number of ways but maybe it will put you to sleep and you can get on with your needed rest. We may have been uninformed by today’s standards but I rather liked it. I worried enough with what we had; today I would be even more of a nut case of worry. We also had to use our imagination, no picture to construct our thoughts we made them up in our minds from the words. Now it is true that our pictures were sometimes wrong; I thought that Germans were green, don’t ask me why I don’t know but I was broken hearted when I had the German measles and they were just red spots. Well I never did say I was smart, just remember a lot. I also remember that more than four hundred thousand of our young men and women did not come home. It cost others a lot for me to type this today and for you and anyone else to read or not read. We owe a Big Price.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on January 31, 2012 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Angel for An Angel

Judy finished her shift, changed clothes and walked out of the hospital through the emergency room exit, she said good night to all who were on duty and got in her car. As she put the car in gear she heard the ‘low fuel’ sound and looked to see that she had about 30 miles left before empty. Even though it was past eleven she decided to not wait until morning but to fill up at the convince store and truck stop she passed on her way home. As she filled her tank she notice the man and woman sitting huddled up next to the building with a child about six snuggled in between them and wonder why a family would be out in the cold this late at night. She decided to speak to them but assured herself that she would not offer them a ride even if she were going the direction they wish to travel. As she approached and asked them if they would like something to eat the father said that would be nice but they really needed someone to look at their daughter, her nose had been bleeding for a couple of hours. Judy stooped down, looked at the child and decided by the amount of blood it had been more than a couple of hours. She went back to her car got her first aid kit and asked the mother to come with her to the restroom. The mother was not sure they would let them in the store but Judy assured her that she did enough business with them and knew them well enough that there would be no problem. She took the child back to the restroom, washed her face and took the light she had and examined the nose, it was not good, it was not just a drip it was a real bleeder. She tried not to alarm the parents but told them that the child needed to see a doctor at once. They explained that they didn’t have any money, were not from here, and did not know of a doctor. Judy told them to get in her car and called the emergency room she had just left and told them she was returning and why. The next three hours were critical as the doctor discover a ruptured vessel and a real need to do some immediate treatment in order to stabilize the child and stop the bleeding. Late night turned to early morning and Judy found herself assisting the doctor, filling out paper work and checking the bus schedule for the early morning hours through their town. She found a change of clothing for the child, got the family fed at the hospital and purchased three tickets on the early morning bus to Memphis . She drug herself home, wondered where the money she had spent was going to come from, but decided she would make it one way or the other, she slept a few hours and returned to her job at the hospital wondering if her family of three made it home.Four weeks later the secretary at the hospital handed her a letter postmarked from Memphis . The letter contained a note thanking her for saving her daughters life and for being an angel sent from God to get them over this very tragic night. The note closed by saying I know that you spent 163.45 for the tickets to Memphis, please accept this check in payment, my husband got a bit of money from a settlement we had been hoping for and we wanted to pay you first. Then she looked at the blank, but signed check for $16,345.00. Now and then God sends and angel to minister to an angel.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Second Mile Club

Now and then as we journey through life we come across one of those incredible moment or events. They defy logic, remove the quest for profit, shovel away the protective wall that we surround ourselves with and give us a beautiful view of the God nature in mankind. I have had two of those in recent years. The first came in the illness and death of our son-in-law, Jim Osborn. Jim had spent his working life with Southwestern Publishers but had become disappointed with his contribution and thus had resigned from the company of his work life. Just as everything, salary, insurance and all the other benefits ran out he faced the challenge that would take his life. First came the surgery and the realization that this was the starting line for the close of life. On the day of that surgery, the president of the company called, informed his wife Jennifer that he had not resigned, his insurance was still in place and a courier would bring last months check and insurance papers to the hospital. For the next three years Southwestern took care of Jim and our daughter. Instead of saying we dodged a bullet at the event of huge medical cost; they stood with them until this life closed for Jim. They rose to the Second Mile Club and beyond, God was honored and Jim and his family were forever blessed. The second moment came this Tuesday as I watched Marathon Petroleum honor an employee of more than 20 years who had died after seven months of a struggle with cancer. There they stood, the men he worked with dressed in their work shirts with the company logo, carrying his body to the soil of burial. Over these last months they had taken care of David. One of the ladies in the office escorted him to the doctor, shared with him all the medical language and stood beside him each step of his journey. The company prepared a place that was safe and convent for him to continue to come to work, for his greatest love was the company and his contribution to its well being. David loved his work and often left treatment at the hospital to return to work the very same day. These fellow employees gathered around his bed a few days before his call home, shared with him, prayed with him and made certain all was well. Marathon also rose to the Second Mile Club and I was honored to stand in the funeral home and see so many with whom he had spent the last twenty years honor his home going and then bear his coffin to the final resting place. With all that is wrong in this world how glorious it is to see people open the door of responsibility, throw back the curtain of profit, and reach out to embrace someone over and above all that is required. Jesus really meant it when He said, go the second mile, and these two companies made that journey and that teaching real.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on January 27, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Choosing the Hard Way

If given the choice most people choose the easiest and simplest way to accomplish a task. It certainly makes sense, saves time, and gets you on to the enjoyment of the day. Yet now and then a challenge needs to be faced, a task needs to be done in the best way and an example set for others. Jesus and His disciples were making the journey to Jerusalem and most people would have chosen to go up the Jericho river valley. It was safer, easier, and provided more availability of food and water. But Jesus said to His disciples that He needed to go through Samaria . Now you could just imagine their anxiety when He made this announcement. ‘Lord just look out at that wilderness, that’s not a good choice. Robbers are there, the road is terrible, there is no water and it is just plain old hard. When I visited Israel I sat on the hillside looking out across the great wilderness of Jericho . Unlike our wilderness; it was barren, filled with great stones, deep sand, hard winds, and heat, unbearable heat. But Jesus knew that at the ancient well of Jacob outside the small village of Sychar a woman would be there in the heat of the day drawing water for her family. This woman needed to meet Jesus. Her future in this world and her eternal future depended on that meeting. So Jesus choose the hard way, endured the heat, stumbled over the stones and grew weary of the journey because He knew this worthless woman needed to see her value and discover her potential future. That meeting with Jesus changed her life and in fact changed the future of an entire city. The next time you are tempted to cut church, not read your bible, skip your prayer time or let the TV entertain your children. Remember this wilderness that Jesus faced for the value of a worthless person. Choose your path carefully, spend your time wisely, and allow your family to enjoy you even if it seems like a wilderness. Who knows it could change a lifetime.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on January 26, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Before the Water Boils

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

As a boy when I would watch the kettle heating on the stove to boil water so that I could have some hot chocolate mother would always say, ‘A watched pot does not boil.’ In time I discovered the joy of waiting for the whistle on the kettle to sound and not waste so much time just watching. I could get the sugar out along with the marshmallows and maybe a couple of cookies. There was a lot that I could do without just staring at the kettle. Sometimes I think that Christians are a lot like I was as a boy; they are just waiting for the judgment of God to take care of the wicked and not spending any of the waiting time trying to prevent people from facing a judgment which they have escaped. I am not sure this is good theology. If you and I are saved, protected, covered, if we know the joy of forgiveness don’t you think we would want others to know it as well? Before you can boil water, God will remove the wicked. At first glance we find relief that our enemies will be destroyed. Maybe in our time we need to weep and seek to make the wicked understand, so that they too can be saved. 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.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on January 24, 2012 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Well Done

James was different, he was several years older than I was but he always enjoyed playing with me and in many ways he acted much younger. Today we would have put James in a special class and they would have called him ‘challenged’ in those days they just sent him home sometime in the third grade and told him to not bother to come back to school. His older brother was smart, did well in school but James lived in a world of cowboys and Indians, movies on Saturday, and playing with me anytime that his father came out to help my dad with things around the house. I liked him and somewhere about the age of twelve realized that even though he was older, he was still stuck in a world of childhood and all that goes with it. When his father died my dad took James under his wings, gave him a job, and taught him how to take care of himself and his small salary. Dad would answer the very simple question put forth by James and with great patience went over the same instructions time after time. As the years passed James told my father that he had met a girl and wondered if he could get married, dad told him to bring her by so that he could meet her and talk to them both. A few days later James showed up with his girlfriend in a wheelchair. After months of guidance and counseling James and his sweetheart married. Dad helped him buy a small house, got him a job with the city and for years watched over his needs. His brother who had all the great possibilities died in prison, James and his wife, in a wheelchair, grew old together and while living a simple life, were happy, healthy, and giving member of the community. You could see this now old man pushing his wife down the street both of them laughing and rejoicing as they journeyed to their small little white home where the love of God flowed out of the front door, down the street and into all who knew them.
I could hear God saying, “James, Well done!”

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The 300th Post

Today is my 300th post since beginning this journey with word press, I am sure that most would consider this a small thing but for me it has been at times a difficult journey. From stories of my boyhood to days of my ministry I have shared with you these moments out of my heart and life. I sometimes wonder if anyone reads them, but now and then someone will send an email and the energy will return to do one more. At times they come with great pain and struggle at other times they flow with little effort. But what to do today on this 300th publishing; let us see what the keyboard brings. When you reach my age you realize that good days are a premium, like precious jewels they are to be enjoyed, and as they tick away you look at the eternal truth that every book has a last chapter and the words, the end. So I check my bucket list, let me see, I know it is too long but still I check it and waste moments pondering and dreaming. There are trips I would like to take, I would like to fish in the surf at Pensacola one more time, publish another book, in fact I have two, but then there is no one to take the risk so best to mark those off the list. I published 77 of my stories in 2011 and still have more than 400 and then there is the thriller, New York Times worthy “Last Thanksgiving Shopper” but we dream, we must move on to other items on the list. I would like to visit the mission field again, just for a brief moment, there are messages I wish to preach and First Baptist gives me opportunity to do that, I would love to see my country fall in love with one another again and someone be able to say to those who lead, ‘This is another ‘greatest generation’, gifts I would like to make, they will be made but so much smaller than I had hoped, visit to an old friend, a return to San Diego just to see how much it has changed since I was a young sailor. I would love to teach a group of preacher boys, “Preaching 101” as I understand it, it would not be worthy of credit, but it might prevent a lot of dead ends, and tears. Another trip to Israel would be nice, but then I have reservations to The Holy City, if all goes well I will see Normandy this spring as we visit Jim and his family in Germany, so that will be scratched off the list. See how quickly and pointless 500 words can be typed, Most of all to be loved and to love, that is the one I am grateful for daily, I have known this and sought to share this with all whom I have brushed by in this journey.  Thank you for the privilege. So much for 300; until 301, have a nice time.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on January 20, 2012 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

The Delayed Answer

I had visited in their home weekly for the last several months and watched as her husband had become weaker, and sicker, and then slipped away one night as she and I held his hand and prayed for him. The funeral was sad as it always is when the deceased is so very young, less than 25. Their marriage of four years had been good and she had taking such loving care of him as life slipped away but now as she walked away from the grave her heart became bitter and her voice sharp. As I stood and held the door open to the family car she looked at me with nothing but anger; “you don’t need to hold a door for me I am nothing, God does not hear my prayers and he doesn’t hear your prayer. Look at that grave he was only 24, we only had four years, no children and now nothing, don’t stand there holding that door for me, just leave me alone.” I though it was a moment of grief and she would be working through it in the next few weeks, but after she refused to come to the door when I visited, would not answer the phone and did the same to all the members of the church I realized it was the poison of Satan as he fed her the lies of God not caring. It was almost a year later when my secretary knocked on the door of my office and said the young lady was in the outer office wanting to see me. I didn’t know what to say, I was happy, yet in some ways I was afraid, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I went to the office and invited her back into my office. She just sat there for a long time, it felt like the weight of heaven was on the place, her head was bowed, she did not respond to my greeting then after what seemed like hours she looked up and said, “Pastor I am so sorry, so sorry.” Then she unraveled the story of the last year and how she became bitter, withdrawn, and as she said, “mean”. Then she weaved a story of how her deceased husband had visited her last night as she slept, how he held her, and then explained to her that she had been so wrong. He told her as much as he wanted to live and as much as he missed her, he would not wish to return. He explained that he did not yet understand all that God had planned for her but that she had to stop being the person she had become for God could not answer all of her prayers until she returned to him. She talked for more than two hours about his view of heaven and the beauty and peace that he had and the certainty in his heart that God had wonderful days for her. We prayed, wept, and her journey into the plan of God began. Four years after I had left the church she invited me to her wedding, twenty-five years later she and her husband are still serving God as a pastor and wife. The answer was not what she prayed for, it did not come when she asked, but it came, God did answer her prayer.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on January 19, 2012 at 12:05 am  Comments (2)  

My America

For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. Job 19:25

In his darkest hour Job knew that God was still on His throne and still in control. The despair of loss, the darkness of sickness, and the dispute of his friends could not waver his faith. Warrant Officer Whit Lawson spent five years in the cages of North Vietnam. On display, abused, starved, and driven to the cliff of madness his one hope, his only light, was that he believed that God was still on His throne and he was a member of God’s kingdom. In our worst nightmare we must always remember we belong to God and God is going to be victorious. Most of us have not paid such a great price for our freedom and the freedom of those we love. I served in the United States Navy, but my time spent was much more like a job in civilian life than so many others who landed on the beaches, dug through the jungle, flew among the flack of guns, and sailed the dangerous and deadly waters of this world for my freedom. I am grateful for them and stand any time I have the opportunity to honor them and pay them the full respect of a grateful nation. I went to the airport to meet the returning body of my nephew who had been killed in Vietnam . I remember that day like yesterday; the young man who escorted his body road the trailer with the coffin as they moved it from the plane to the waiting hearse. He stood at attention and paid honor to my nephew as they loaded the coffin then road with the body to the funeral home. The honor guard and others at the cemetery did an outstanding job and we left that green field with tears, but with certainty that someone cared. He like so many others had paid all he had to keep me free. I wish that our country could find the deep place in their hearts to remember the cost and not major on the divisions and dislikes. There must still be enough greatness in our land that we can rise to the surface, discover our common ground, and move forward to be the Land that God has in His Plan.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Time to Kneel

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed, before the God of heaven. Nehemiah 1:4

When Nehemiah hears the troubling words of his homeland, how it had been destroyed and was as a waste land his first thought, first action was to turn toward God. We don’t see Nehemiah trying to place the blame, to curse the King who had enslaved him, to rant and rave at all the wrong things which had happened to his people as well as his homeland. Nehemiah who had the opportunity is not plotting the death of the king. Instead we see him on his knees confessing his sin and the sins of his people. We see him weeping great tears of sorrow, not sending out shouts of foul play. We see him seeking an answer from God even when the answer includes the assistance of those who had enslaved him and destroyed his homeland. He was willing to take his sorrow to God, confess his wrong and ask the Father for a way to victory. But look at us, we see the difficulties of our nation and we begin to assets the blame, to accuse our leadership, and cry foul to everyone involved. We blame ever group of people we can and we never once take any personal responsibility. I wonder what would happen if the Christian people of this land would do as Nehemiah and weep, mourn, fast and pray to God. I am sometimes shocked at how judgmental we are and how we are so sure about one side or the other without even a moment of thought and concern of how thin our innocence is and how our greatest woe is that we will not get our fair share of the blessings of this great nation. May I call upon you to realize this is not so much the moment of judgment and blame but rather it is a time of personal sorrow, powerful prayer, private confession, and a public call to kneel at the Cross and seek the face, forgiveness, and will of God? You know it’s not too late for our country; God has blessed us from the snow cover ground of Washington ’s frozen army at Valley Forge, to the shores of Normandy , through the islands of the South Pacific, and He will bless us now as we call upon Him.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on January 17, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment