Where Are The Fish

Don’t you just love the guy standing on the dock when you are returning from an all day fishing trip without any fish, who holds us a stringer of fish so heavy he has to get a friend to help him display it to all of those who have come to admire the days catch by the fishermen?

That is the way it seems to always happen to me.  I come back with only one fish on the stringer and that one is smaller than some folks bait.  I would not have kept it except my dad always said it was bad luck not to keep the first fish you caught if it was legal.

There I am with my minnow and the dock is full of people taking pictures of the arriving super fisherman with his two man stringer filled to capacity. I really want to just pull away and come back another day but time will not permit so I make a hundred excuses for my baby catch and then listen as all the people ask the successful fisher where he caught them all.  I hear him say out on the lake near where that guy was fishing, pointing to me to be sure that everyone knew I could not fish, all in the same spot.  Of course he is not giving longitude or latitude, that is a secret he will keep for his next trip but he is certain he could hear my radio from where he was fishing and just knew that I too was catching the mother load.

Yep you just want to sit down and have a great meal with that fellow, maybe spill your spaghetti all over him as you get up from the table to use the facility to hurdle all that you can take of the bragging.

The disciples were having one of those nights.  They, professional fisherman, had fished all night, the nets were empty, their bodies were tired, and they were ready to slip into port hopefully unnoticed. Then this guy who never fishes, called to them from the shore and said, “Try the other side”.  Some nerve he had, telling  professionals how and where to fish.  ‘Tried that’ they shouted back, no need trying to keep their empty boat a secret any longer since he had pointed out to all on the lake that they had caught nothing.

But he was a friend, they liked him, wouldn’t hurt his fillings for anything, so why not, one more cast wouldn’t kill them though it would be a close call, so they obeyed and out goes the net one more time.

WOW! Were they surprised?  Their net was so full that they thought it would break.  They called to all the other fishermen in the area to come and help them and they all filled their boats.  What a fishing trip, greatest catch of their careers and all because of a friend who had never fished. Why people would be talking about that catch for weeks, in fact, two thousand years later people are still talking about it.

What’s the lesson? When you go fishing ask Jesus where to fish? I don’t think that is the central point although I have asked Him to let me catch a fish.  Not sure that’s the central prayer of His daily devotion, not really sure how much weight that one carries.

Maybe the point is to do what the disciples did, Obey Him.  Now that’s the catcher, discovering what Jesus is doing and how He wants you to be involved in His work.

Why not try what the disciple did?  Listen to Jesus, discover His will, and do it.

Maybe you don’t know where to start; you don’t even know where the boat is let alone the fish. I promise you there is someone in your area who has met problems just like yours and discovered the location of the answer. You will have a better chance of finding that person in a local church where people just like you gather weekly to seek God’s direction for their lives.  If you have trouble finding a place like that email me at inraley@yahoo.com , I am sure I can help you catch far more than fish.



Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Super Summer

Summer 2012 has been great, I got to mark off of my bucket list one of the things I wanted to do; fish in the surf in the gulf.  Bill and Sandra allowed me to share a few days with them and son Isaac in Florida and each was just Super.

We fished in the surf each day, killed a lot of shrimp, caught a few fish but fulfilled some wonderful dreams. I had a great time, they gave me my own room and allowed me the freedom to get up and go to bed at my choosing and it was a real joy. They are a great family and make it so easy to be with them and such a joy.  The drive down and back was long, got lost coming back, made a wrong turn, only cost about 75 miles but saw some additional country so it was ok. Isaac is a joy to be around and I really got a kick out of he and his dad and then he and his mother going out in a kayak, it was great to see them enjoying each other so much.  Sandra would go further out and faster than Bill, but then I taught her to be really brave. Yes it has been a Super Summer, got to sit on the beach in my chair and just listen to the magic of the creation of God and the weather He gave us was perfect.  Good we are not there this week, it is the exact place where the storm came ashore, wow, we would have had to swim from room to room.

Then I went to New Orleans and attended the Pastor’s Conference and the Southern Baptist Convention, heard a lot of great preaching, saw several old friends and realized that now I am among the oldest people at the convention. Ate some good food and walked until my legs felt like spaghetti.

Got to watch John graduate from his course in Bible Training and heard all the great things the people at the school had to say about him, it was a good two nights. John will do alright for his heart belongs to God. A proud moment for Ms Carole and myself.

June is not even over and already it has been a Super Summer. Got a few more items on my Bucket List, I would like to do the ship to Alaska, go back to San Diego, and see a bit more of Europe. Now I don’t think I will get to do all of those but I will keep them on the list for a bit longer, not enough money and not enough time but I will keep the list. Of course there are still other items on the list, some I will do and some my children will have to do instead. God is surely good, always, always, He is Good.


Published in: on June 27, 2012 at 11:50 pm  Leave a Comment  


Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!  Philippians 4:4

Being beaten, dumped in the sea, bound in prison, and charged for doing the right thing Paul certainly knows someone whom most people do not know in order to say for us to always rejoice. Of course Paul knew Jesus!

Even with that said I must confess that this is not an easy task. Don’t beat yourself up if you discover conditions and circumstances that you do not like and which leave you drained emotionally as well as physically. Be reasonable; Paul is not talking about things; he is talking about being so involved with Christ that in the worst of times he still knew he had someone with whom he could share his distress. Paul wasn’t any happier about being beating that we would be, but he knew that in this tragic moment he was not alone and in that he could and did rejoice.

I remember a close friend who knew that he was going to die very soon.  He was not happy about this premature death; he would miss his family and seeing his dreams come true. I said to him more than once, all of this makes me mad, I don’t understand how you do so well. He would always say, I am the one dying, I have dying grace, not you. However he also knew that he was not going to walk through death alone and in that he found joy for each day. In your darkest hour look for Jesus.


Published in: on June 27, 2012 at 1:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Bed Bugs

I had forgotten all about bed bugs until all the news recently, now I search my motel room, my room, everyplace. I remember them from years ago.  Dr. Wright at Union University use to send me on preaching trip to small churches around Jackson and sometimes this would require me to go on Saturday and spend the night. I would always stay in a church member house. One Saturday night about midnight they made their attack. My back, feet, legs, and arms begin to feel the poison. Not know what I was dealing with I got up turned on the light and managed to discover a few of these monsters. Not know what to do but in an attempt to get a bit of sleep I quietly went into the kitchen and got the jar of syrup from the cupboard.  Back in my room I poured a large circle on the floor, got my pillow, after checking it, and slept in the middle of that circle.  Those bugs were so large that I could hear them jumping off of the bed, hitting the floor and then crawling toward my already bloody body.  But I was right; they couldn’t get past the syrup. I awoke the next morning with a circle of dead bed bugs and a healing body.  Funny, no one ever asked about the missing syrup or the ring on the floor. Also no one ever invited me back to that church.


Published in: on June 26, 2012 at 10:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Goodbye Old Friend – Jerry Waters

I say goodbye to Jerry Waters today and lift his family before our Lord. Jerry stepped out of the ICU inGainesville,FloridaVA Center yesterday morning about 9:30 that he might step into the arms of Jesus. For more than a month now he had struggled for each breath and grown weaker with each passing day. I first met Jerry when he came to work with us at The Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home as a housefather. Jerry loved children, loved Christmas lights, and loved the Lord. He was daring with computers and because of that for the past year he has held my web page together. His help has enabled me to post more than 400 stories, receive visits from 33 nations and have more than 28,000 visitors since last July.

Jerry was a good houseparent, loving father and husband and willing to tackle almost any job. Like many people he had a bit of the ‘greener grass in the other field vision’ and by following that vision worked for a number of homes for children in Tennessee, Florida, New Mexico, and I am sure in some others places.

I thank him for his friendship, for his fellowship in the Lord and his desire to be of help in my life and in the lives of others. I lift his family before our Lord and seek from God His sweet, sweet care of each of them as they walk through these next several days.

I thank him for his love of children, his faithfulness in serving, and his desire to help me in so many ways.

Jerry you will be missed. See you my brother. -30-

Published in: on June 25, 2012 at 12:47 am  Comments (3)  

People I Have Known – Chief –

People I Have Known – Chief –

I met him when I reported for duty at San Diego while in the Navy.  We all called him chief and he was in charge of our company while we waited for school. It only took me a few moments after meeting him to know that there was something different about him, his language, the way he carried himself, and how he handled us said to me this man is not like most of the career men I had met in the navy, he is different. In defense of those whom I had met they were in the boot camp training program and most of them had been taught to be rough, unyielding, loud, and to display an air of arrogance, they did this very well.

Over the next year we became close friends, I watched as he labored in the church and in many ways held it together. He was a great role model for the young men who reported to him for duty as they enter their training phase in the Navy. He held a weekly bible study in his room took the new men to church and made sure that a family in the church got attached to them and provided a home like environment for them while they were in San Diego.   I saw him minister with love and devotion to a young seaman and his wife who   had a child to get killed. He walked with them through those difficult days, raised money so that her mother could fly out from New Jersey to attend the funeral and assisted the chaplain with all of his duties and the burial of the young child. The Chief went the second mile in everything he did for the men under his command, he was God sent to those 18 and 19 year old boys who were far away from home for the first time in their lives. I often wonder how many of those families knew about the chief and the investment he was making in the lives of their sons. About the time I left the command the chief had been assigned to officer’s candidate school and was on his way to becoming officer in the Navy and be in a position, given by God, to touch many other young men. I always remember The Chief when I think of the faithful men and women who serve in so many ways in the service of the King. It never fails to remind me that God uses people who want to be used, who are willing to serve, and open to His will.


Published in: on June 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

People I Have Known – Frank –

I liked him the moment I met him, it didn’t take time, it didn’t take getting use to him, I just liked him from day one. While he was younger than me I still looked up to him and admired him like a little brother would his older brother. He could build anything from tall buildings, shopping centers, schools, and our church. He was gifted. People loved him, children adored him, and he had to be a great father because I saw the way his children looked at him. His house was always filled with other kids who needed a bit of his care and love. He made guns that would shoot potatoes, thrill guys and scared moms to death. He was adored by my two boys and they loved him like a father and super hero. He came all the way toBelizeto visit me for a weekend, fell in love with the people and left money to encourage children to attend school.

I went on a mission trip and watched him do small task with all of his skill, while he was use to being in charge, he listened to others, bragged on them and left his tools with the local men so that they could make a living for their families.

His wife adored him and it was mutual, he loved her with all his heart. He could fly a plane, sail a boat, and thrill a small kid because his heart was as big as his talents.

He set aside making a living in order to help us build a church, he invested not only his time and talent, he invested his living in the church building as well as all of the people who made it their place of worship. Frank was a man that could stand with me in the poorest home inBelizeand ask God to heal the father of that home believing that God would and knowing later that He did.

Frank did only one thing wrong; he left too soon, I wept like a small child the night he died, I grieved in my heart for weeks, not because I was worried about his family or his soul, but because I would and still do miss him. Coming down fromKentuckyhe walked into our lives and my heart and now someday I will walk back into his life and see all that he has been doing since last I visited him in the hospital. I miss you Frank, I sure do.


Published in: on June 21, 2012 at 1:37 am  Comments (2)  

More People I Do Not Know

Still in New Orleans and still doing a lot of people watching. Saw one guy today who said to everyone who passed, “I am Zoloft” not sure who that it suppose to be but he said he was it so I didn’t arguer. Saw a family of five having a great time eating the French Doughnuts, the white power they were cover with was flying everywhere and they were enjoying each moment. Saw a couple older than I am, she was in a wheel chair and he was taking great care of her; love is great even when it is old. Because of the hat I wear, Greek Fisherman’s Cap, a young boy ran over to me and wanted to know if I was a boat Captain and if I knew his dad who works on boats on the Mississippi.

I noticed today that I am not only among the 25 oldest people here but I am also on of only about 100 who is by himself. Everyone either has his family with him or he is with another pastor or two. Do you know how hard it is to get a table when you are by yourself in a nice restaurant. I had one tonight to tell me that the wait for a table for one would be about an hour, in other words, why should we waste a table on you when we can put up to four people at that same table. If I ever come to a meeting like this by myself again I am going to pass out cards to all the single folks I see and invite them to meet at a great restaurant so we can get lots of tables for four.

Southern Baptist made a historical move today as they elected the first African American as their president. Fred Luter, Jr, is the pastor of the Franklin Ave. Baptist Church and has led it from a congregation of 64 to become the largest church in Louisiana. Even after his church building was destroyed in the hurricane and his people scattered to other parts of the country he saw them prevail. They met for two years at the First Baptist facility while they were rebuilding. In addition when he saw that many of his people were not going to return to New Orleans he started a new church in Houston and Baton Rouge with the member from his church who had moved to those areas and still Franklin Ave. has grown and returned to the position of largest Baptist church in the state. He is an in creditable preacher and I am sure will have the great hand of God upon him as he serves as our president. I do not know him but did get to shake his hand this morning. There was no one else even nominated and the almost 8,000 people in attendance stood as a sign of their full support.

I am out of here on Wednesday morning and returning to my church in Byrdstown Tennessee which I miss more than anyone could understand. It will be great to have people wave at me and even speak to me when I enter a store. Something wonderful about home. Right.


Published in: on June 20, 2012 at 12:21 am  Leave a Comment  

People I Don’t Know

Since I am in New Orleans for the Southern Baptist Convention I decided to change the theme just a bit.  I love to people watch and I think I do it rather well. Of course I did see a few people that I knew and it was nice to renew the time and memories, but most I did not know.  I was amazed at how young all the people who attend the convention are; I am sure if I am not the oldest person here I am in the top 25 out of the more than 6,000 currently in attendance. So many of them had very small children with them and others were well on the way to starting their families.

Between the afternoon and evening session I walked down to Jackson Square and there the scene changed; tourist, homeless, drunks, and many families wanting me to take a picture of all of them. Since I am not skilled in that area the instant picture certainly helps to correct mistakes and give it another try.

While on that end of town I decided to walk through the French Quarters. Now I have heard a number of people say, read articles where preaches noted; that the reason God had Katrina  to hit New Orleans was because of the wickedness of this city. Now I will have to hand it to them this is a wicked city; but it does cause me concern when you start deciding why something happened that you blame God; now consider this[ the people hurt the most were the working poor, the grandparents raising their grandchildren, the old and sick. Those were the ones who returned to find only the foundations of their homes standing, the French Quarters, center of sin if you like, was basically untouched. Now make a sermon that makes sense out of that; maybe we need to leave the question of ‘why’ to another time and another day.

I didn’t see, smell or hear a thing on Bourbon street that made me want to return. I did see two places that had ‘girls’ standing out front appearing to be on display. However, if they were meant to be an advertisement for the place then they need a new director of advertisement. This was not a good place to watch people for here I saw mostly the hopeless, the worn from hard living and harder drinking, the young and old alike moving as if blinded by the darkness of this area.

But after the evening session at about ten o’clock I met Randal Isaac, or maybe he met me. He asked if he could sit down next to me and I said sure, I was on a bench outside of my hotel again just watching the people. Randal told me, when he learned that I was from Tennessee that he had been in prison here for a couple of years and even showed me a GED completion card he had signed by our former governor. He asked what I did and I told him and he said that he knew that one day after he had died that he would meet God and that he was ok with leaving his future with Him. I smiled and told him that he was falling for one of Satan’s great tricks, “Just live your life” and let God make His decision about your future. He listened as I told him about trusting Christ, but the bottle had filled him too full for him to understand fully. He said he enjoyed meeting me and would like to sell me his watch for five dollars, I told him that I wasn’t interested in buying his watch but that in spite of my better judgment I would give him five dollars.  I know, I am a sucker, but I did tell him now that I knew his name I was going to call it before God until God got his attention. Such a shame to see a young 32 year old man wasting his life being satisfied with a few dollars each day to get the whiskey that he trusted, sleeping under the Market Street bridge and spending his days in a fog of darkness. So sad Randal, I pray that God trouble your heart and in a clear moment of thought you meet Him with His wonderful outstretched arms.


Published in: on June 19, 2012 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  

People I Have Known – My Dad –

Dad was a gentle and quiet man; he always spoke softly and really not very often. He was not a man with a great education, High School, was it, but he read so much, understood what he read that I am sure that he had much more knowledge than many college graduates.

He taught me some very important things over the years of his life; He made sure that I knew to treat all people with respect, including my family and people from any race. That might not seem important in today’s world but in his day few people gave any respect to people of color. While dad worked mostly black men he respected them and the respect was returned. At his funeral several of the men came to visit the morning of the service even though he had been retired more than 20 years. He taught me the importance of work; for more than forty years dad went to work each day, even when it was not required and the compress was closed he would always go by and check to see that everything was in good order. I never heard him complain about the company, never fuss about his salary and never give any reason not to believe it was the greatest place in the world to work. In looking back I don’t think that my dad loved his type of work, but it was the job he had and it provided for his family and that was the number one importance to him. He taught me that a man loved his wife, put her high on a pedestal and put her interest before his own.

Dad taught me to go to church, he never sent me, he always took me, and it was what we did on Sunday and for all the special meetings. He set an example for me to be generous with my giving. Each month he would receive two check, he always handed them to mother and said, be sure to write the check for the church first. There was never any hesitation, never any discussion; it was just what they did.

He taught me to leave alcohol alone, never saw it lead to any good he would say and if you don’t take the first drink you will never have to take the last.

In addition to being a good manager and leader of men he was also a skilled craftsman and took great pride in all of his work; never got in a hurry, never rushed the completion, just did it right and did it well.

He took up for the underdog and made sure that everyone he knew and had anything to do with was given an extra chance. I remembering him once catching an employee cheating the company; he set him down asked him if he would like his pay cut in half, the man of course said no, then dad said you are only do half of your job, let’s give it two weeks and see if you are worth a full check.  That was it; of course the man changed, he liked and needed his job.

Dad not only taught me how to live he also taught me how to die. I visited him the night before he left this world and he told me how ready he was and even asked if I had seen Jesus for he was sure that He was coming to get him.  It was not with fear and regret that he faced in death, it was assurance for dad had taught me to love God, receive His Son and follow in his ways, just as he had done.

When he died he left $935.00 and a few things that I put in the trunk of my car, that was all that a lifetime of 83 years had left him, but He, he left so much more for he left a pathway that if I had followed it as I should I would be a much better man.  Thank you dad for loving the Lord so much that it overflowed on your loving mom and all of us your family of four children.  Thanks Dad!


Published in: on June 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm  Leave a Comment