Goodbye to Louie

A revised goodbye, I am on the road tonight to see my only living sister and with my heart on her this is all I could write. Friday I said goodbye to an old friend, it was painful and difficult. My long time friend, Louie left this world at 9:30 Friday morning. Louie, as many already know was my 14 year old to be on Christmas day cocker spaniel. He was fat, spoiled, and for the past several weeks has struggled to make the burdens of each day come through. Down in his back legs, unable to hear, almost blind, and then captured with a battle to survive that destroyed his appetite and made it impossible for him to eat and thus continue his journey. I will miss Louie, he was always waiting for me to arrive when I was away from home, happy to see me and anxious for me to get out of the car and pat his head and give him a treat. But for two weeks the treats have been uneaten, the eyes lost there brightness and the excitement to see me vanished. On Thursday night I carried him in my arms from under a bush in the back yard, got him to drink a bit of water, and then put him in his bed. He somehow struggled to move to the floor beside my bed in the night and with morning I could tell that my old friend was almost gone. I told him what a good dog he had been and held him as the doctor provided relief for his pain and freedom from his suffering. Louie liked to sit on the side of the hill and look out to the East; he would just stare for long periods of time at the Easter view, so I buried him on that hill and let his body rest where he often spent his time just looking into the distance. Now he is part of that distance and I will not discover him at the door waiting for me when I get home. I planted flowers all over his grave and the warm weather of February has made them a great pad of yellow. I still miss Louie standing at the door saying with all of his body language, I have been waiting for you, where have you been? Welcome Home.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Last Part of the Last Leg

He was sitting in an old rocker smoking his pipe and look across the room at all of his tools and the work in progress. I asked how he was doing and what was moving and he smiled and he had almost finished the bed. I could see the head board, foot board, and several legs; the beautiful walnut wood was gleaming. I told him it looked pretty complete to me and he said, needs another post, got three but need four. I told him how beautiful it looked and stood one of the legs up beside me, it was six feet talk, spooled, and polished with the touch of an artist. “Better get that last one done” I said, “you might need a place to sleep when you wife finds you out here rocking.” He smiled, pulled on his pipe and said, “Been working on that thing for maybe five years, forgot to count, got two of the three section of that last leg done, but not sure about the last one. What am I going to do when I finish it?” There seemed to be a serious concern in his voice and in the question. “Sleep in it,” I said, put it up in the house and make it a gift to that beautiful wife of yours.” “Been sleeping in the same bed with her for more than fifty years”, he said, “might not like a new one.” “I know she will love it.” I responded, “It will be a great gift to her and each part of it reflects your good work.” “Always though I would die if I ever finished it.” He answered, “Not sure why, just believed it was my last work so I have been putting off that last part of that last leg.” I smiled, he smoked the pipe and I started to leave. He said, “Boy do you want it?” I turned and said, “No sir Mr. John, no sir, I had rather have you around rocking in that chair and dreaming of that finished bed, no sir, just keep on polishing on that last part of that last leg and someday you will know when to put it together.” His wife and I put it together a couple of weeks after she buried him, I think she still sleeps in the old bed and just shows the new one off.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on February 28, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Where is the Hope?

I had stopped for a minute to visit my parents and family members graves in Jackson when I noticed a young lady coming toward me walking from down below where my family graves were, as I turned she spoke to me and asked if I was visiting a loved one and then went on to ask if you ever got over their deaths. I could tell by her eyes that she had been weeping and it had been a very difficult time for her. Her hands were shaking; her voice thin and her eyes wanted to weep. I thought for a moment and told her that I was not sure that you ever got over it but that you could get beyond the deep sorrow and suffering. She explained that her child had lived only two days and died while still in the hospital. She said that her husband would not come to the grave and that their marriage had become a wreck. I suggested we walk back to the grave of her son and when we arrived I notice that the child had been dead for a bit more than a year. We talked about nothing and then I explained that my advantage was both my age and my Christian faith. She looked strange at the Christian faith statement and I explained that I believe that my loved ones were now with the Lord, their suffering over and their joy complete. She had no understanding of this so I came back to my car, got a copy of the book, “Heaven is For Real” and gave it to her, and then I asked about the burial service they had observed for her son. She said that the funeral director had suggested that he do the burial and her husband did not want to come to the cemetery and they had not had a service. I opened my bible and asked if she would like for me to read some of God’s word and maybe pray. She began to sob and asked if I would, so just the two of us had a small burial service for her son. I prayed, hugged her and left watching as she walked back to her car. I hope she found some peace, and I hope she found peace with Jesus so that she could someday see her son. I had explained that to her but her young broken heart did not show much except sorrow. I pray for this unknown child and ask God to give her His heart as she seeks to survive her son’s death.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

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

What’s In a Boy?

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 when 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. I was with my father the day they came to our house looking for his parents 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 didn’t 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.

Ivan N. Raley Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on February 24, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Waiting

I watched a movie recently starring Richard Gere and Joan Allen, I think it was called, “Hachi, the story of a Dog”, never released in the United States , but a real hit in Japan and England . It is placed in Bristol , Rhode Island but the true story took place in the thirties in Japan . Hatchi was a puppy when a professor at the University rescued him from the streets of the small town in which he live. He was an Akita , very rare breed of dog in Japan . It is a great love story of this dog and his master falling in love with one another and the great loyalty displayed by the dog. Every afternoon Hachi would meet the train his master road as he returned from his work, they would enjoy the walk home and the next day repeat the same event. One day his owner did not get off the train but Hachi waited, the family knowing that the owner had died at work that day came down and got Hachi and forced him to go home with them. After the funeral the professor’s daughter and her husband took Hachi to live with them, but he would always return to the small town and wait each night for his master. The family gave up and allowed him to stay in the city where each day he would wait on the train. People read of the story and those in the town fed Hachi and took care of him and each afternoon he would be at the station waiting for the return of his master. He did this each day for nine years, (true story) always there, rain or shine, winter or summer, always there. When he died the town buried him and put up a bronze statue of his waiting at the station. It is still one of the most visited places in Japan . In the movie I saw, one night as he waited all the people left the station and he just stayed, closed his eyes and fell asleep. He awoke as his master said, Hatchi, time to go, he awoke and they took their walk to the land of tomorrow together. I want to do that, wait at the station for my Master and hear Him say, “Ivan, wake up, time to go.”

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

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

A Discovery

Jim was locked in a wheel chair, he could take care of none of his needs and life seemed so depressing to this once large and vibrant man. I would visit with him first at his daughter’s home and then in a nursing home and he would always seem so depressed, even angry and sometimes demanding and one might even say mean. I tried to talk with him but it made no progress and ended with my feeling depressed that I had even made the visit. I really searched my heart and tried to discover some way to get through Jim’s darkness and despair. Putting myself in his circumstance made me realize that I might react in much the same way. Just two years before a company of several hundred people depended on his leadership, talents, and hard work. Now not even his body could respond to any wish. I remember it was on a Thursday that I went by with my first wish; “Jim”, I said, “I need your help, I have the names of five people, one on each of these five peaces of paper, they are very sick and as far as I know unsaved. Now I realize that you cannot speak or visit with them, but Jim I need someone to spend some real time praying for them by name and I was wondering if you would take these five pieces of paper and pray each day for one of them. Maybe you could assign each to their own day and pray each Monday for one and then do the same each of four other days.” I could see in his eyes that he understood me, he looked at the names as I placed them on the table beside him, then pointed to a couple and looked at me saying in his rough way, “I know these, bet they need a lot of praying. Don’t know the others but if I find the time I might pray for them.” I left and returned to visit with Jim two weeks later. The nurse met me at the door and said, “What did you do to Jim? After you left last week he wanted to take a bath and insisted that I push him down to the chapel. Each day he has done the same thing and he stays in there several hours. He has not had one complaint and even hugged his daughter when she visited on Sunday.” To cut to the chase Jim had discovered a new mission and new meaning in life. Locked in that chair and body he still had a purpose, a reason for each new day and a desire to complete his task. Jim lived long enough to pray for about 30 people and to know that six of them had been saved. He lived long enough to see his daughter in a new light and put himself into a new picture; when he died more than a dozen people told his daughter and me that they would miss him, his smile, his joy, his dedication to the task. Jim discovered what all of us need to know; that we have a purpose and make a difference.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on February 22, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Strike it off the Bucket List

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.”

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on February 21, 2012 at 12:05 am  Comments (2)  

Giving Their Best

First Class Petty Officer Jim Watson, a Navy corpsman attached to the Marines in Iraq, returned home after his second deployment of service with the memories of two of his men dying in his arms both of them asking him to save them, to take them home. Also in his memory were the three small children and their mother killed when a mortar tied to a suicide bomber exploded near them. These memories seemed to fade as he left the war zone and returned to his home town. The people welcomed him home as a hero and helped him surprise his wife and even took up money so that they could go to the beach for a few days before he had to return to duty. Those first few weeks filled with the joys of being home, safe, loved, and being held in high esteem were great and wonderful. Then the dreams came, the night sweets, the screams to watch out, the tears as he held those men begging him to take them home, all begin to fill his nights, run over into his life and scatter the comfort of home in the sands of those memories. Watson sought help and those who aided did their best but the darkness still filled his soul and nothing would give him freedom. He left the navy and his nine years of service, his wife almost left him but held on to the memories before this journey began, and they have something that sometimes resembles a marriage. Jim, while not free of his darkness, has returned to school and hopes to turn his medical training into a medical career. Today as we remember and pray for our president and those who serve with him let us also remember the thousands of Jims who still live somewhere on the edge of a nightmare in the shadow of darkness we do not understand, because they did their best to give us the very best nation in all the world.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on February 20, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Love on the Obey

Sara walked out to the end of the small jetty that allowed her to see both the Sunset Marina and the large open space of the Lake as the sun found its way toward the water to dip itself into darkness for the summer night. She had been coming here since she was ten. Her family loved the lake, the camp ground, and all the friends who returned each summer, most of them at about the same time each year. She wondered if he would be here again this year. Their annual two weeks of seeing one another had been going on for the last eight years. She had met him when he was almost 14 and she ten going on 20. It had been a strange relationship. They played in the water; he had taught her to ski, to jump from the high rock cliff on the eastern end of the lake and in general had made the trip from Indiana to Byrdstown something she looked forward to each summer. They were strange friends in that only Dale Hollow Lake and the summer trips connected them. Since he was older for several years he had treated her like a little sister never showing any romantic interest just a great friend, someone to go to the Dairy Queen with, play a round of putt putt, get a pizza at the Shell, and do what whey liked best just ‘hang out’. She had always liked him a bit more than just an older brother and two years ago she had done everything but kiss him herself to get some response. But they had just held hands, enjoyed the warm nights, and felt good together. He had graduated college last year and had to cut the normal two weeks to only ten days because he was off to the army reserve for training. She wondered if he would come now that he was all grown, she hoped he would but only time would tell the full story. She had graduated from high school a few weeks ago and would be going to Ball State in the fall. This might be her last summer at Dale Hollow. Last year as he got ready to leave he had met her on this very spot, for the first time they embraced as more than friends and he had gently kissed her and said until next year. Then he walked to his car and like the sun was gone. He just had to return, this was the important year, this would be the deciding year, he must, he must come she thought to herself as she enjoyed the summer breeze and soon coming night. She knew the man who approached her, he was his father. He said, “Are you Sara?” “Yes” she responded. “My son Zack gave me a letter to give to you.” he said, “He wanted you to have it in case he couldn’t come this summer.” She thanked him and took the letter tore it open as quickly as possible then her eyes fixed on the hand written note as she read; Dearest Sara I asked my dad to give you this letter if I could not make our annual trip to Byrdstown. Well if you are reading it then I couldn’t come. After I finished my reserve training last summer they called me into active service and I am now on my way to Vietnam . Sara, you have made these last eight years wonderful. First as a little sister, sometimes in the way, like sisters can be, but always a joy under all of the trouble, and then slowly as a young lady. You must have known this past couple of years it was only the difference in our age that prevented me from taking you in my arms and saying that I loved you. I felt honored bound by your young age not to put you in a position you were not ready for but now I want you to know that I do love you and have for several years. Last year when I kissed you goodbye it was the nicest moment of my life. Don’t worry if you do not fill the same, I just wanted you to know how I felt. I shall dream of you in Nam and hope that next summer I will be back in time for our annual visit. Don’t let all the boys on Dale Hollow erase your memory of me. Have a wonderful time and enjoy Ball State. With love, Zach She looked with tears falling from her eyes out toward the lake as she read the letter again and again. How wonderful, how truly wonderful. She heard Zach father approach her again and turned as he said, “Sara, Zach’s mother and I want you to have this, we knew that it would please Zach.” Then he handed her the folded American flag and said, “This was on his coffin last month when they sent him home from Vietnam ” She grabbed the flag held it to her breast and turned with tears flooding her body as she watched the sun slip itself into the lake and the darkest night of her eighteen years became a reality.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

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

Be a Private Gilbert

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. Psalm 56:3

Pvt. Barry Gilbert said as he hid under the brush in the jungle of the south pacific that he was so afraid that he was sure that his heart stopped beating as the seven Japanese solders walked over his body. He remembered this verse learned in Sunday school at South Royal Baptist Church , and poured it over his heart again and again. When I was a boy preacher South Royal Baptist was one of the first churches to invite me to preach. What a joy and honor as an 18 year old to stand in the pulpit of that church and share the great Word of God. I still remember those several Sundays when I was their guest. It was there that I met Barry Gilbert and there that he told me this wonderful story out of his life in the Pacific during the Second World War. With great tears he told me of six of his friends who were captured that very night and how at the end of the war all of them were declared dead. He gave praise to God for delivering him and for giving him the strength to be silent and unmoving while the Japanese soldiers searched the jungle for other American soldiers. For several days he stayed hidden waiting for the rest of his unit to catch up with him and give him medical care for two wounds and food for his starving body. You could see the joy and wonder in his eyes as he spoke of those days and that time of such great fear. Our nation seems to be in fear today, all around we hear the sound of trouble and fear runs through our homes and hearts. I believe it is time for our Nation to discover the secret of Pvt. Gilbert. Trust in God.

Ivan. Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on February 16, 2012 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)