A Week With Robert

I had gone to the area north of St. Charles to help with the flood area in Missouri in 1993. When I arrived at the area where I was to work the first people I met was the family of Robert, a young man of about 20. I noticed when I greeted them that Robert was just a little different and his parents seemed so very protective of him.  In fact his first words after meeting me were, “They have a nudist park just across the mountain.” With that a great grin came across his face, his parents looked very embarrassed and the rest of the team members just looked the other way. Well you know me I said, “Hey let’s go over and see if it is real.” With that his parents looked more frightful at me than they had at their son when he had told me about the park. Of course I was kidding but did not realize how very literal they were and so our start was not the best.  I spent the rest of the day working on the house we were stripping of all the interior walls getting it ready for new sheetrock and treatment for mole. Robert’s family was staying in their camper parked in the lot at the church and I was staying in a hotel in St. Charles. I had invited the pastor and his wife to dinner so I was off to meet them and spend the night preparing for the next day. The pastor told me at dinner that he understood that Robert was challenged and that they had a miserable time with him for the past couple of days since they had been in the area.

The next morning I arrived before anyone on the flood scene and learned from the authorities that because there was so much trash from the tear out that we were being allowed to burn it in the area between the homes we were working on. God used that to give me a great thought.  When Robert and his family arrived I asked him if he would like for us to work together; I told him that I was not any good at putting up sheetrock but that I knew how to take out the trash and we could pile it up and later in the day burn it. He seemed thrilled as I told him I would be his helper and he could be in charge of trash removal, there was plenty of it, his family gave their approval and for the next several days Robert and I spent our time cleaning out the houses, piling up the rubble and then to his delight burning it late in the day until after dark.  I returned each night exhausted to my room and he with his family to their camper.

A couple of weeks after I returned to Franklin I receive a lovely letter from Robert’s family thanking me for the best week they had ever had while on a trip with their son. They said that he talked about ‘his helper’ each night until he fell asleep and all the way back to their home in Atlanta.  They said how grateful they were and how they praise the Lord that the ‘Let’s go to the Nudist Park guy’ came along.

I wish I still had that letter, it was more than enough payment for the week of flood relief; for what a joy it had been to spend a week with Robert as his assistant.

Ivan

Published in: on July 31, 2012 at 11:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Prayers Answered in A Stange Way

Prayers Answered in Strange Way

Yesterday I sent a request for you to pray for me as I was having surgery this morning. Last night after nine the surgeon called and said that he had found two issues in my test that led him to believe that surgery was not safe for today. I told him that I had a lot of people lined up to pray for me today and he said “they must have started early for God just answered their prayer for without this information surgery could have been a disaster for you and for me.” I have a serious liver problem as well as a problem with my heart that is bringing concern to him. We will begin the search for these answers today and I will let you know when things even out. Thank you for your prayers and remember God answers prayers in more than one way.

More later,

Ivan

Published in: on July 30, 2012 at 9:04 am  Comments (2)  

Facing Surgery

Facing Surgery

I want to take a moment of personal privilege to share with those of you who read the blog; I am having surgery tomorrow, Monday the 30th. I have fought a bout with a kidney and bladder problems for a number of years and it was decided Thursday that the best and only good course of action was for me to have this surgery. I will be in the hospital one night and possible two depending on the outcome and a hundred other things. As you would expect since I am old fashion in my life, age, and looks, I will have to have the old fashion plumbers helper type of surgery, could not make the cut for the new lazier surgery.

It has been a real embarrassing experience, if you understand what I mean, for me to go through all of this these past couple of weeks, but I have been humbled, red faced, and now I will pray for a successful outcome.

I would appreciate your prayers, remember there can be no visitors, flowers, fruit, and other such, just pray for me,  if you like send and email, but most of all since I am a real chicken I would be grateful for your prayers.

Surgery is planned for about noon, give or take a couple of hours. I will be off line for my blog and daily devotions for a bit but hope to be back soon.  You are one of more than 30,245 hits that I have received since last August 4, 2011. We have also been opened in 32 nations which just blows my mind away.

Until next time, thanks for reading and thanks for praying,

Ivan

inraley@yahoo.com

Published in: on July 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm  Comments (5)  

Looking For The Peg

Are You a Peg Watcher?

Carry each other’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Remember what Jesus said about burdens? Don’t just go the one mile which is required, go a second mile.

Under Roman law a Jewish male was required to carry a Roman soldier’s burden for one mile.  The young boys would count off a mile from their home and drive a peg in the ground.  That way if a soldier came by and required them to take his burden they would do so and all the time they would be looking for the peg so that they could throw down the burden and run back home. They did not intend to go one foot more.

Jesus said for them to forget the pegs, stop walking around with their heads down looking for how little they could do and go even a second mile.  Can you imagine the surprise to the soldier when a young boy would just keep on walking along, not stopping at the peg? We spend a lot of time peg watchers; doing only what is required and nothing more.

Could it be that we have missed the full will of God for our lives because we are so bent over looking down making sure that we did not do one thing extra. I know a lot of people who are always complaining that someone else is not doing their part who themselves have eyes only for the peg.

I watched congress in debate and you know there were good points on both sides of the house but would anyone see them, no way, just keep looking for the peg, my way or no way.

I believe God can and wants to heal our Nation, but even the good guys are too busy protecting their turf and looking for the peg. This had to be a very unpopular request from Jesus that they stop moving with heads down and start living with victory in their step. Put your heads back America, see the wonderful solutions that our Lord has provided and cross the road without looking down.

Ivan

 

Published in: on July 26, 2012 at 10:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Let Your Joy Show

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  First Thessalonians 5:16-18

See how much our joy and happiness means to God? God is so much like a parent, He loves it when His children are happy. You can just see Him with a great smile on His face as He hears our giving thanks and rejoicing. Yet to hear so many Christians speak you would think that somehow God gets His kicks out of making life miserable for us.  How ungrateful and unscriptural such thoughts are, nothing could be further from the truth.

God desires that our lives be so filled with joy that we can rejoice always. Stop being so miserable about all that is going on, stop seeking your joy from a political party, election, and the economy and discover it in the treasure of God’s Son.

All that is of this world will in time fade to nothing, we will not take it with us, we will not send it on before us; stop measuring your life by what you have and who you are and remember to allow yourself to know to Whom you belong and that He holds the future.

Nothing except what you have done to honor Christ will make one bit of difference when you get to glory. I hate to say this but I find a lot of people unhappy with life because they have forgotten who is in control and who is going to win.  Read the bible, God wins.

You are on the winning team, live like it. Rejoice; let others see Jesus in your life.  Stop the bitter strife and the ugly comments and get about the Master’s business.

Ivan

Published in: on July 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

What To Say

 

I stood watching the line move slowly by each person there to greet those who mourned and each one wondering in their own way just what to say. I have been on both sides of that line: I have spoken my words hoping that they would bring some comfort to those who were hurting and provide them with the knowledge that you were seeking to honor their loved one. On the other side I have received those words of comfort and honor from those who had stood in line for just that brief moment of contact. I remember a few of the words spoken, some of the faces but more than anything I remember the gentle hand shake, the soft hug, the moment of a shared tear and a quiet spirit of oneness. Don’t worry so much about what you say. You do not need great words and beautiful phrases, just your being there, your eyes, your gentle hug and that still brief moment of showing by your presence that you have joined their sorrow, felt their lost, and embraced this time with them is what will leave the lasting peace and comfort. Not advice from a man of wisdom but advice from one who has stood on both sides of the sorrow.

Ivan

Let me thank all who have prayed for me. I have been to the doctor each day since the 18 and still have two scheduled visits. Prayer request from me is that my bladder will work. I have problems with bladder, kidney, and liver.

Published in: on July 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Fish That Went Preaching

 

Most of us have heard some great fishing stories told by preachers and other fishermen. In fact the stories that fishermen tell about their glorious fishing ventures are for the most part taken with a ‘grain of salt’, maybe the guy used a metric ruler and thought it was in inches?  I suppose we could give him the benefit of the doubt? Even when the preacher tells a fish story we don’t go out and order it up for dinner in fear that we just might not have enough to make a good meal.

But the bible tells us a great story of a fish that went preaching.  That’s right, not a miss print but the story of a fish that preached a great sermon.

I am sure that you have already guessed where I am coming from; sure the book of Jonah.

It seems that God had asked Jonah to do something for him and Jonah just really did not want to obey.  Now we could take up a lot of time and space giving his side of the story and for sure those folks down in Nineveh were down right mean.  Why it was said that they could remove a man’s skin and he wouldn’t die for a day or so.  Wow!  Jonah must have been scared out of his skin.  Nope, no way, he said, “I’m not going down to that city and get my hide removed by those fellows, nope, I going to buy myself a ticket and get out of here.”

Like many of us who have been asked by God to do something Jonah ran, well maybe not ran, he sailed out of the presence of the Lord.

Well to his surprise that was harder to do than he thought.  He soon learned that God is everywhere, not easy to get away from everywhere.

A storm came up and it almost cost the whole crew their lives.  To Jonah’s credit he realized that they were in trouble because of him, so he took his licks.  In this case the licks were ‘walking the plank’ into the sea. Many of us would have given a thousand excuses and drug as many people as possible into the sea with us, but not Jonah.  He took the plunge.

Now God had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah and the fish did just that; he liked obeying his Maker. Now that fish preached Jonah a great sermon.  He took him down to the bottom of the seas with the sea weeds wrapped around his head and let Jonah know that there was no place he could go to hide from God.

I am certain that you know there is a lot more that could be said but you have read about all you are going to read so here goes the finish of this fish gone a preaching story.

Jonah repented, God had the fish throw him up, preachers make for poor digestion, and Jonah went to Nineveh and the entire city was saved.  See what happens when we obey God?

Here is the lesson of the fish, one that all of us should learn, If you are going to run from God, ‘Where are you going?’

If you are going to do something you don’t want God to see you do, ‘Where are you going?’ In fact if you are going to say something you don’t want God the hear, ‘Where are you going to say it?’ if you are going to think something you don’t want God to know about, ‘Where will you go to think it?’

Pretty good preacher from that big ole fish, in fact his story is better than most preachers tell about fishing.

Ivan N. Raley

Published in: on July 23, 2012 at 10:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Last Memory

Wayne could still remember the exact moment that he heard his father tell him, ‘that he was good for nothing and never had been and never would be’ it was at his birthday party when he turned seventeen. His father had always been difficult, drunk, and too loud, in all his years of school he only had two friends who ever came to his house and they only once or twice. His mother had insisted on giving him a birthday party and while they had invited about ten people only six showed up, he was surprised for that was four more friends than he had. She had grilled hamburger in the backyard, made homemade ice cream and put up a boom box so they could play music. About the time they had finished their meal, eaten the cake covered in ice cream his dad had come through the door shouting “What is going on around here, who do those cars out front belong to and who is playing that loud music?” His mother had tried to run interference but his father had shoved her aside and walking up into his faced began to shout the words of no good, and who did he thing he was and who were these freaky kids. The friends began to move away when they saw his father slap him, and each of them managed to leave before the full storm raged. He had never felt so bad, so discouraged, so humiliated, and so ashamed of his father and sorry for his mother. After the storm raged, his mother was hit and the grill turned over in the yard his father went to his room in his drunken state telling  him to clean up the mess and calling for his mother to come upstairs. He had cleaned up the mess, packed a few things he needed and wanted, took the $300 dollars that he had saved and left.

After a lot of nights on the road, under bridges, in camps of the homeless, he had made it to a distant uncle’s house and they allowed him to stay with them until he enlisted in the Army. After six years of hard work in the army, doing his job taking classes and saving all the money he could he got out of the army and in two years had completed college.  The next ten years found him hard at work in a small upcoming company in New Orleans. They supplied packages of items that were needed by the workers on the oil rigs in the gulf and soon found a very profitable business. Over the sixteen years he had called his mother, hung up when his father answered and talked briefly when he could with his mother. Life at home was the same she said, his father had never mentioned his name and had never changed his ways.

He received a call from his mother telling him that his father was in the hospital dying, so without telling her he flew back to Memphis hoping that a final moment might bring some peace. It didn’t, his father had died soon after his mother had called and the storm of Wentworth Circle was over.

He begged his mother to come and live with him but she had a few friends in the community and the old house was paid for and all the investment she had.  Wayne walked into the backyard, remembered that night eighteen years ago and wept. Before he left he arranged for all the repairs to be made to the house, got his mother a new car and promised to stay in touch. For the next thirty years she received three calls a week, a visit each month and a nice check from her ‘no good son’, and even flew in a plane to New Orleans a few times to visit. After her funeral he placed a marker that covered both her grave and his dad’s for no one had bother to do so in all of those years. He wept as he stood and looked at those two marker and realized that while they looked so much alike, they stood for so much that was different in his heart. In love he wept for his mother, in heartache he wept for his father.

Published in: on July 22, 2012 at 7:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Where Is Jasmine

Where is Jasmine

Sir Lawrence of Arabia and his band of raiders were returning from days of battle crossing the hot blazing desert with their water almost gone. Someone in the group said, “Where is Jasmine?” Another replied, “Who is Jasmine?” Still others reminded them that he was an Arab who had joined them a few days back. “Maybe he is lost in the sand storm.” Cried one. “No, another replied, there is his camel and there is his rifle.” The group chatted and another said, “Maybe a sniper got him.” Still another, “Expect he went to sleep and fell off his camel.” “What does it matter” one called, “Jasmine was weak of body and mind, so let it be.” It was then that Sir Lawrence turned, instructed his men to continue toward the camp and he went back, tracing the path from which they had come. There almost dead in the blowing sand he saw Jasmine. Sir Lawrence gave him what remained of his water, placed him on the camel and made his journey back to the men.

Someone called, “There is Lawrence and he has that fellow Jasmine.” It is said that Sir Lawrence had many faults and failures, but the welfare of his men was not numbered among them. Even a Jasmine, weak of body and of mind, was worth the long journey to rescue.

So it is that Jesus made that long journey from Glory to Calvary because Ivan was weak of mind and body, lost in the blazing sand storm of life, and even Ivan, not worth the journey, was come for by the Master with His love and life giving water He placed me on his shoulders and brought me home.

(From a story heard long ago when studying about Sir Lawrence and told now in my own words.)

Ivan

Published in: on July 20, 2012 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Got A Coat Hanger

(I am under the doctors care for a bit and unable to do any new blogs so I will us so others adjust a bit and hope they will bless.  Not sure how long this journey will be, time only will tell.)

 Do You Have A Coat Hanger?

The judge called and asked if there was any way that the children’s home could find room that day for a family of three girls and two boys.  He explained that the father had been killed a couple of years earlier and the mother was on trial that day for her third DUI and she was going to have to go to jail.  If he placed them in state custody they could not assure him that the family could be kept together and he strongly believed that in this case it was important to all of them to remain in contact. I assured him that we would make it happen and went with one of our social workers to the office of a pastor where he had arranged for the children to be kept on a temporary basis.

As the social worker interview each child I tried to keep the others entertained and to assure them as terrible as all of this seemed I believe that they would discover that it was not going to be as bad as their fears. I asked if they had any question they wanted to ask me and the smallest boy wanted to know if we had any coat hangers. Now I expected to be asked about TV’s, computers, ball equipment and a hundred other things but never a coat hanger. So I said, “I am not sure I understood you, can you ask that again?” Once again he asked if we had any coat hangers. I asked him why a coat hanger was important and he said, “I have always wanted a coat hanger. When I go to my friend’s house his mother takes my coat and puts it on a coat hanger and then hangs it in a special place.  At my house we just throw our coats in the floor and sometimes I use mine for cover, so I would like my own coat hanger.  I smiled, hugged him and said, “Son you have died and gone to coat hanger heaven for we have hundreds of coat hanger and I will be sure that you have several of your own as well as a closet to hang them in.” He smiled, rubbed back the tears and hugged my neck. Most of us have such long list of our wants and here was a small boy being taken from his home and all he asked for was a coat hanger. Little children shall lead them and this boy did exactly that, God has been so faithful to provide a ministry like The Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes for families who reach that moment when the uphill climb is too great even for the little engine who says ‘I think I can.’ Without any tax payer money they reach out and embrace these hurting families with their loving arms and God’s great grace.

Ivan

Published in: on July 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm  Comments (2)