The Door

The last six years had been lonely, just what you would expect after being married over fifty years and having your wife die. But even in that he could not complain, his children had been faithful to visit and his neighbors stopped in on him every day. While he didn’t get out much and he didn’t see all the people he and his wife had visited they came around now and then and some would call just to make sure all was well. Life had, he though, been good to him, his church had been important in their lives and they had the joy to be among the founding members of what once had been a small community church and had now grown into a large grand congregation. But even in its largeness they had stayed in touch with him, visited each month and called every week so he knew they still remembered him even now that he could no longer attend. Until the last few months his health had been good, he and his dog walked each day and he enjoy watching the birds feed in his back yard and struggle with the squirrels for the food in their feeders. But now he wasn’t sure where he was, there was a lot of noise, people were always looking at him and sometimes he could feel that they were rushing to do this and do that but he wasn’t sure what it was that they were so busy about. He saw his children but wasn’t sure what they were saying he knew that they were talking to him but something was wrong with his hearing, his ability to speak, he wasn’t sure, he didn’t understand but he knew something was wrong. Sleep seemed to help and with that came some soft moments of rest and dreams. There he was in a desert, strange place to be he thought, sun bright but not hurting, but nothing there just empty miles of sand. Then he saw it, a door, and an old country looking door from a long ago house. He felt he had seen it when he was a boy, but where, what was that door to and where did it fit into now. Then he knew it was the door to the old church where he had attended as a boy, he was sure that it had been torn down many years ago but there it was, just the door, no building, just the open door. He could walk, that was good, he went close to the door, paused and just looked through, but there was nothing to see, just for fun he stepped through the door just like he had when he was a boy and then he saw her, his beautiful wife as lovely as the day he had married her she ran toward him and threw her arms around him and said, “Welcome Home, Darling, Welcome Home.” Then the scene became wonderful and the despair of the desert vanished, he was home, in that wonderful place prepared for him.

Ivan Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on April 30, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Explanation

Story from Wednesday “Throwing a Child’s Life Away”

Since I had so many emails about the story for Wednesday I wanted to give more of you a chance to check it out and understand the motive behind. If you have not read the story go to April 25 and it will pop up when you have read it you can come back to today’s story. The most asked question was, ‘Is it True?” Look at it real close, yes the part about the girl, her parent’s reaction, the birth and death of her son are true. The part about her living on the edge of poverty and in deep depression for so many years is true. Now the ending, I will leave that up to you. I wrote it from my heart, but you can choose any ending you like. Others wanted to know ‘What Was the Point?” I was trying to get us to see how our judgment and reaction to others can affect not only them but many others. I also wanted you to see that the father was not really concerned about his daughter, but his own reputation and standing in the community. I think a lot of people react with that same motive to many different kinds of problems. I suppose you could call it self protection, but maybe you could call it selfishness. Now I know that bad decisions and sin do have consequences, we do have to face up to our failures and learn from them and seek forgiveness for them. Most of the times we need help in climbing those mountains and rejection and judgment do not add a lot of climbing ability. For myself I know that my guilt over any wrong, large or small is a great judgment to me without others putting salt into the wounds. I am open to your comments on this story and any others. It is always great to know that they are being read.

Ivan Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on April 27, 2012 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

A Fold for His Sheep

I give my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28

The home for the unaccompanied children, orphans, we built in Goma was really a tent city on this large area of volcanic ash that the French Foreign Legion had leveled for us. Built in the shadow of the Nyiragongo Volcano and near Lake Kivu we tried to make it the best place possible for the children to live. We had 50 tents each large enough for ten children and a mother, two latrines and area for showers, a medical tent as well as a large cooking tent, and a common dinning area. We hired mothers and helpers for each of the resident’s tents, cooks, fire wood gathers, yard keepers, nurses, and around the clock guards to walk the wall of canvas we built around the entire area. I used the knowledge I had gather as a Trustee for the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home to assist with the design and plan and with modifications it worked rather well in the war torn third world. We added a play ground with swings, slides, and a ‘see saw’ something they had never seen. Before we could open the home we had to be inspected by the government of Zaire as well as the United Nations. When the officials finished their inspection they told me it was the nicest place in Zaire and wondered why we had gone to so much trouble. I explained that we had built it for Christ, that it might be a fold for His sheep. I am sure that the eruption of Nyiragongo in 2002 as well as the two wars since destroyed the home, but for a time those children lived in the arms of our Lord.

Ivan Today’s Daily Devotion

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

Throwing a Child’s Life Away

This had been the worst day of her sixteen years of life and she knew it was about to get worst. Her brother and sister left the dinner table, her mother fixed a piece of pie and place it on a plate in front of her as her father filled his plate with the second load of spaghetti. Then she dropped it, the bomb, she was going to have a baby. The reaction was much worst than she could have believed. Her dad threw his plate, spaghetti and all into the sink and began to shout as if he was in his Sunday pulpit; her mother simply ploughed her head into her hands and began to weep. Her father told her all the wrong she had brought to her family, the disgrace, how he had always known that she was a miserable sinning slut and that now she had brought run to him and all the family. He screamed as to how he was in line to be the president of their state religious convention, that was ruined he screamed, he would even likely loose his church because of her and the wicket choices she had made. Nothing was ever mention as to when, who or anything concerning her and the future. She knew more than he did how she had failed, she had broken not only God’s plans but hers as well. It was a moment in her life when she just got everything mixed and all of her emotions drove her and now, this. For two days she was not allowed to attend school, her father had said she would probably brag to all of her friends about ‘having a baby’ so no school and no contact. Silence filled the house except when her father would rant and rage at her calling her names and accusing her of the total break down of the family. On the third day he told her that in spite of his best judgment, which would be to get rid of it, he was sending her to live with his older sister who lived across the country in California, she would have the baby and then give it away; maybe he would allow her to return home and finish school, but he didn’t think so. Her aunt had been kind, her own children were grown and out of the house so she took care of her and saw that the baby would have a good chance to be born healthy. Her father flew out the day after she gave birth, brought a lawyer by with papers for her to sign, but she refused, she would not give him away, she would keep her son. The father left in a rage and that was the last time she would see him. Her aunt allowed her to stay and helped with her son; she finished school and her boy blossomed. After graduation she went to work full time and when her aunt died and her children asked her to leave she had moved into a housing project. Her life was miserable, hard work and little reward, but her son was wonderful. From one housing project to another they had moved until at the age of seventeen he had been killed in a drive by shooting. The community helped her bury him and she found herself in the bottom of a great well from which she never recovered. Now twenty years later she was dying of cancer, in a hospital ward with three other women, and only the pleasant memory of her boy that moved across her mind brought any joy or peace to her. Her father had gotten his wish, he had been the state president, and her mother had written her once but said she would not do so again. Joyce felt the darkness of the room overtake her, she knew that she had made a mistake long ago, but she also knew that she loved and trusted God and she would see both God and her son soon. He walked down the hall of the hospital and the further he went the more he knew that she would be in the worst part of the facility. The nurses all looked at the tall handsome man about to approach his forties and wondered who he could be; they had never seen him before. He walked into the room sat down in the chair beside Joyce’s bed and took her hand in his. He touch her brow, pressed his finger to her lips then leaning over said, “Mom, it’s me, Robert, I have come to take you home. Come on mom it is time we both got out of this place.” They walked hand in hand out of the building unnoticed by anyone.
They were going home.

Ivan Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on April 25, 2012 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Call Home

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

I wonder: Is it time to call home.

Ivan N. Raley Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on April 24, 2012 at 12:05 am  Comments (2)  

Join Me

I watched the young mother taking care of her three year old at the park in Frankfort, they both seem to have a really great time, and swings, twirls, and other things to play on had made the event a real joy for the little girl as well as her mother. They had played with several other families before it was time to leave and everyone seem to hate to see them go, but the mother explained, in a language I do not speak, that it was time and they must. I watched as they walked away from the park back toward the business district of the city and wondered what their home was like, their dreams, and their hopes. I believe they would be like most of us wanting peace from financial worries, good schools for the children, good health, and a long and pleasant life for all of the family. Certainly nothing wrong with those dreams, I have shared them and so have you; my heartache is not with the dreams but with the climate of anger, distrust, and frustration that we live in today. I hear so many speaking of fears of the future, frustration with the present, and hopelessness in the greater distance. I hear them speak of distrust of the government, disgust with the leadership on all sides of the political arena, and a feeling that nothing can or will be done about any of the wrongs that so many people see. Where has our hope gone? Where has our pride in our nation and that for which it stands gone? If our nation came under the stress of 1941 could we raise an army of 16,000,000, fill our factories with workers who would give a full day every day, and could we stand on the corner of our streets and cheer our young men and women to victory? I will not try to answer this question but I ask that you join me in lifting our nation and all of our people before the Lord for His direction, comfort, and victory. The only hope I see is in Him.

Ivan Today’s Daily Devotion

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

Asking

Ask, and God will give to you. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will open for you. Yes, everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And everyone who knocks will have the door opened. Matthew 7: 7-8

Ask Search and Knock; God never turns away a sincere seeker. In Second Kings the fifth chapter we have the wonderful story of Naaman being healed. I ask my church family one Sunday, “What do you do when you don’t like the answer you receive from God?” Look at Naaman, Elisha did not even come to the door to greet him. He sent a servant to open the door and to tell Naaman what to do. Now you can tell that the great General was not pleased at his greeting by Elisha or the instructions he was given. In fact he just got mad and started home. He did not like the answer. A servant convinced him, since he had come this far and since he had received an answer, why not give it a try? You know of course that he did so and received complete healing. I believe if Naaman had returned home without obeying he would have died of leprosy. Maybe we die to our prayers because we don’t like the answers.

Ivan Today’s Daily Devotion

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

He Had It First

As he left the doctor’s office and reached to punch the button for the elevator he wondered whom he would tell first. He had never been good at showing his true feelings and this was going to be difficult to share. He had no close family, not even what most people would call close friends and he wasn’t sure any of them listen and how could he burden these friends with his own hurt, he had never been burden with theirs. The older man who stood in the elevator as its door opened nodded and said, “Bad news?” In shock he looked at this total stranger and wondered how he could know such and thing and why it would matter. Unlike his normal behavior he begin to tell his story to this total stranger, they got out of the elevator and stood in the lobby as he poured out his heart to this never before seen man. It was like there was a motor running and he could not turn it off, he just poured out all that the doctor had said and how in shock he was at the news. Yet the stranger, listened as though his was the only story in the world to be told. On and on he went even telling the man that he did not know what to do next, who to tell and how to react. Exhausted he stopped and started to apologize to this man whom he had captured in his sorrow. The stranger touched him on the shoulder, and with the concern of a life long friend said, “Just remember son, Jesus had it first and He will walk with you through this journey because He has already been there.”

And He has.

Ivan Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on April 19, 2012 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Did I Do Good Enough

I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world. John 16:33

Message
What a promise. What assurance. You can build a life on this because you know the one who made it. The small white church was filled with farmers, merchants, and others as they listened to Carol give his promise of love to Wanda on that beautiful June afternoon. It was by all of our standards a very small and humble wedding but for Carol and Wanda it was promises made and promises that would be kept. For more than fifty years Carol worked hard provided his best for Wanda and the three children that they were blessed to have. Some of the days were hard, difficult and bleak. But when it was all said and done it had been done, the promises made were the promises kept. They did not have a lot of this world’s goods but that had a lot of the world to come character. The night Carol died Wanda held his hand and thanked him for the years, the love, and the promises kept. He softly asked her if he had done good enough by her, ‘Had he kept his promises?’ “O, yes Carol you kept them all and you did really, really good.” Was her soft reply. The tears flowed and heaven shouted, ‘Well Done!’ Carol did a good job, just think what a wonderful job Jesus will do.

Ivan Today’s Daily Devotion

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

When Loving Is Hard

They had not been in our community but a couple of months when I met them. They had purchased an old restored home on the river in the low country that came with more than a thousand acres of land. He had hired a local farmer to come over and run his place along with his own farm which joined near the road frontage. According to Ted, the local farmer, it was a sweet deal for both of them but he found the man very reserved and difficult to get to know and had not in fact ever seen his wife in all of their dealings. Ted’s wife had gone with him on one of the meetings hoping to welcome both his wife and him to the community but had simply been told that his wife was asleep in the bedroom, he thanked them for their visit and the food which she had brought to give them and nothing more. So as I drove up the drive I did not know what to expect. I had seen him in town near the doctor’s office once but only had an opportunity for a passing hello. As I walked up the steps he came through the front door and greeted me with a handshake an invitation to sit on the large porch with its beautiful view of the rolling green yard down to the river. He offered very little information, answered a few questions and side stepped others. I invited them to church and left. Ted told me a couple of weeks later that he though maybe his wife was sick for he had seen the doctors car at the house twice in the last week. Since the doctor and I were friends I asked him what he could tell me that would not break his relationship, his reply was, go see him, he needs a friend. So back to the country I went and this time he invited me into the house, we had a coke, shared some small talk and I asked if his wife was ill. He said yes and then almost as an after thought took me back to the bedroom to visit with her. A nurse, whom he later explained the doctor had arranged, was in the room, he introduced us and told her to take a few minutes and she left the room. He introduced me to his wife and, told her I was the local pastor, and she blinked her eyes, smiled just a bit and I could see the tears forming in them. We talked a minute as we stood by her bed I asked if I might pray and when I was finished I could see the tears flowing down her face. He walked me back to my car, thanked me for coming and said he would be happy for me to come back anytime but not to bring visitors, he did not think that would be good for her. So began a journey of two years: to make the story fit your time his wife had ALS, she had left him for a younger man and about four years later when she learned she was sick she returned to their home. He had welcomed her but his friends though him such a fool and his family so dislike his taking her back that he had purchased the house and moved so that they might spend their final days in peace. I watched him care for her like you would care for a child and what he could not do he had nurses come in to do for him. He never wavered, never tired, never complained, and spent those two years caring for the person who had broken his heart. I left the low country and heard from friends that after her death he had left as quietly as he had arrived. He never told me he was a Christian, never attended church, but he displayed the forgiving, forgetting love of God each day that I knew him. I hope that somewhere in those later years he found someone who loved him like he had loved Helen.

Ivan Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on April 17, 2012 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)