Bring the Cloak

While winter in Troas is usually brief it can from time to time become very cold and this was the winter of the North wind and it sweep across the sea and into the homes not prepared for its long stay and bitterness. Carpus had been very ill. The chill of the winter wind and his ageing health had gotten him down and the fever had invaded his body until his life seemed to be slipping away. The tent maker offered his cloak, it was all wool, twice woven, by the hands of Lydia and colored with her beautiful dyes. It was by far his nicest garment but Carpus needed its warmth and the tent maker had to leave. So the cloak remained.

The tent maker had received a letter many month later from Carpus thanking him for his sacrifice, telling of his own healing under its warmth and that of his mother and two of his children in that same fierce winter.

Time had now passed and the long nights in the damp and cold dungeon of Rome chilled every bone in his body. His hands crippled with arthritis and now chilled by the dampness and cold added to his misery. This would be his last letter; time was slipping away so the old tent maker asked his young friend Timothy to be sure and come to see him and to come before winter. Then he asked the faithful Timothy to bring him the cloak, the one he had left with Carpus, the cloak made by the hands of the believer Lydia, colored with her dye and stained with her tears and his blood. ‘Do your best’, he said ‘to get here before winter, bring the scriptures, the parchments and my cloak.’

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Published in: on September 30, 2012 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Subway Friend

Daniel got on the subway and knew the moment he saw her who she was; since there was an empty seat next to her he asked if it would be alright for him to sit there. She looked up, surprised that in New York anyone would ask and said, “sure”. After a couple of stops and several minutes he said, “My name is Daniel and even though I don’t know your name but I can see that this is a very troubling time for you.” She looked over and said, “You have no idea how troubling, by the way my name is Wanda, I have a daughter at Presbyterian Hospital and yes these are very troubling times.”  They talked on and she explained that last night was the first time she had left the hospital in more than two weeks but that as bad as things were she had to check on so much this morning that she just had to get home, get the papers, and see for herself that the issues of money were real and her insurance was almost gone. She got up to get off at the next stop and Daniel said, “Time to give it to God, I will be praying for your daughter and for you Wanda.” She looked at him and with flowing tears said, “I have poured out my heart; and I will continue to do so and thank you so much for praying and these few minutes on the subway.”

Daniel talked with the doctor that afternoon after catching Wanda out of the room and going in to meet her daughter and praying for her as he placed his hand on her head and asked his Father to heal her. He told the doctor that he represented an independent foundation and that he could assure him and the hospital that all of the bills would be paid, he left a cashier check for $10,000 and said if more was needed to simply call the number on the check. As he approached the elevator he told the doctor that it might be good to repeat the check and test he had made four days ago, with that he entered the elevator and left.

Six days later while waiting across the street from the main entrance of the hospital he saw Wanda and her daughter coming out of the hospital waiting for the next taxi to pull up. He walked across the street and said, “Wanda, I see that things are getting better, and you were right when you said your daughter was beautiful.” Wanda responded with, “You are the man from the subway, I remember you and you cannot believe all that has happened in the last few days.” “Better take this cab.” Daniel said, “It is waiting for you.” He heard the daughter say to her mother as they got in the cab, “Mother, that is the angel I told you about, the one who came to my room and touched me and prayed for me.” Wanda asked the driver to stop but when she got out of the cab and looked, Daniel was gone. “But he road a subway”, she said to her daughter, “he can’t be and angel.” Her daughter replied, “but mother he is, he is.”

Ivan

Published in: on September 27, 2012 at 10:23 pm  Comments (1)  

Lost Mother

I came out of the office door at K Mart and saw the five year old boy standing near the men’s shoe department with big tears rolling down his cheeks, I stooped down and asked him if he was lost. Between sobs he said yes, then let out more tears. I told him to come with me and I was sure we could find his lost mother in our store.  There was a female clerk standing near us and I asked her to join me in going to the service desk.  She got a box of Kleenex and wiped away his tears and the three of us went to the service desk.

In those days K Mart had blue light specials and the lady shoppers were always hoping for one while they were in the store. So I took the cart with the long pole with the blue light on top, turned on the flashing light and said over the loud speaker; “Ladies get ready we are going to have a very unusual blue light special. This is so special that it will be stationed at the service desk and only one, that is right only one lady in the store will be able to take advantage of this special.” Then I said, “Somewhere in this store is a lost mother and if she will come quickly to the blue light special station she will discover that she had been found.”

Suddenly I heard this lady crying and running up the central aisle of the store and as soon as she saw her son standing by the young clerk and the blue light special table she could not run fast enough to grab him, kiss him, and thank the young female clerk and myself.

Nice day’s work I though as I walked from the store out to my car, best blue light special we have ever had.

When you think about it; that it the purpose of all of us, getting people together, helping those who are crying to dry their tears and brining those who are fearful to security and joy. I even gave myself a pat on the back and decided that I would come to work the next day and see how many people I could put together.

Ivan

Published in: on September 25, 2012 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

From New York – September 2001

 

The five of us sat at a table in Neno’s Bar and Grill on Canal Street just a few blocks from ground Zero. Three of them were from Irish Catholic families the forth was a large black man, all were members of the Fire Department of New York City. All were covered with the gray sand like dust still covering much of that end of the city.  They were tired, eyes were deeply set and faces carried a look of hardness, dread, and disappointment.

They had returned to working their regular shifts, then spent their free hours going through the eleven story pile of debris looking for the remains of their fallen comrades. The once Bar and Grill had been turned into a 24 hour buffet food and rest stop, no charge, everything made available by a couple of national food chains.  Bar closed, now instead of spilled beer the floor was covered with sweat and tears falling from the bodies of these dedicated men.

One of them looked and me and said, “Chaplain somewhere in that book, pointing to my bible, it says something about God making things right.”  I turned to Romans 8:28 and read the verse and said, “I work in a home for children who for many different reasons can’t live in their own homes.  I don’t think what happened to them in their homes was right, but God turned that bad moment into a new moment that was good for them when he sent them to live with us.” Then one of the largest firefighters stood up and said, ‘This is what the chaplain means.”  With that he hugged the large black firefighter and said, before Tuesday I would not have done that but you see this terrible event has truly made us brother.” I smiled and realized how much smarter they were than I am.

Published in: on September 24, 2012 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Word From Ben

To our founding fathers in the dawn of the birth of our nation: A statement that we as all Americans need to hear once more. From Ben Franklin.

“In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. – Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?

To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: “-

From me –

Let each of us on our knees before God thank Him for the answer He gave to our founding fathers and humbly ask Him to hear our prayer of confession and our desire for forgiveness and our call for His help in our moving forward as a great nation. Not for our greatness but that in our strength others might be strengthened, and through our power others might enjoy the fruit of freedom and faith in God. This is a year of decision, let us from our knees seek His will and follow His way.

Ivan

Published in: on September 23, 2012 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

From A Swinging Bridge

The Director of our Baptist Missionaries in Belize dropped me off near the Belmopan River crossing a little after ten at night.  We had enjoyed a nice dinner and good memories as he explained what my duties would be when I returned in January to relieve him while he and his wife were on medical leave in the United States. I was excited about the opportunity to work for our International Mission Board in Belize and be able to meet the more than 200 people who would be coming for weekly mission trips during my stay as well as teaching the local pastors and helping to fill the pulpits in the local national churches.

I was currently staying at the Belmopan Boys School across the river from the capitol city on the edge of the rain forest so I had about two miles to walk in order to get to my room. Now I know that it gets dark in America, but in Belize it gets Dark, Dark. There are no lights to invade the blanket that God spreads over the sky at night so the brilliance of His sky comes alive and you see stars that you have never seen in all your life.

I started across the swinging bridge that crossed the Belmopan River and when I got to the middle I just stopped and gazed at God’s sky. I was going back to resign from my church in Franklin, make plans for my marriage to Carole, and pack for the journey back to Belize and a world that would be new to me in so many ways. I knelt there in the darkness of that night with only the light of God’s nighttime shinning on me and asked Him to direct my steps, to affirm the direction I believed He was leading and to bless the new day that was before me. I finished my prayer, looked into the sky dotted with the stars placed there by the hand of God and felt the assurance that from the middle of that swinging bridge across the Belmopan River I was in the center of His will just as the stars which lit the sky, and had been placed there by His hand were.

That has been more than twenty years ago and it is glorious how God has directed those years. Most of the plans that I had such as spending the rest of my life in Belize were changed, but always God place me in yet another place where I could see His hand and know that I was following His plan. Thank you Lord for a dark night and the middle of a swinging bridge, and praise you Lord for your great care and loving guidance.

Ivan

Published in: on September 20, 2012 at 11:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Morning With Jesus

Jesus was an early riser.  Time and again the scripture speaks of His, ’rising before dawn and spending some time with His Heavenly Father.

While we were staying at the Sea of Galilee where Jesus spent a lot of His time and ministry Carole would get up early so that she could get a shot of the sunrise over the sea.  It was beautiful.  It was also a wonderful time to just sit on the beach and spend moments thinking about how wonderful it must have been to be out doing your early morning chores of getting the nets and boats ready for a day of fishing and have Jesus walk by, speak, and give a nod that today was going to be a great day.

He did a lot at the sea, close by in the Jordan He was baptized, and a couple of times He helped his disciples discover where the fish they needed to catch were located.  He paid His taxes with a fish from the sea, walked on it to get to His disciples, and calmed the great storm on the sea and in their lives.

I have always believed we should give God the first moment of each day; spend a few moments before the rush of the day just observing its wonders and seeing His glory as the new day begins its journey. I enjoy the early moment on my sun porch where I watch the beautiful birds that make my back yard their home and feeding ground. It is joyful to get up before you have to and just listen to the morning and ask God to take the day and make it His.

We live in a time when our hearts are made to fear for the future and when so much of what we see on the news causes us frustration and confusing. We need these moments of silence before our Lord so that the new day can truly be His and bless us as He has planned for it to.

I realize how difficult it is to give yourself this extra time; you didn’t rest well, sleep long enough, and your dreams were without meaning, but I really believe that an early morning just listing to God will repair the night and bring joy to the day.  Give it a try.

Ivan

 

 

 

 

Published in: on September 19, 2012 at 10:48 pm  Comments (1)  

Jesus Wept

Jesus Wept John 11:35

William shook hands with the cemetery director, they had finished their business, he had purchased a plot for his use, picked out a marker for the grave, paid the funeral home and closed his business. He still had some time, two months, maybe more, maybe not. The strange thing was that other than being weak he felt good, nothing hurt, no great pain, just the weakness. Still he knew that the course had been set and the clock was on its final drive toward stopping. His daughter and son would be grateful that he had made these arrangements, they would not have to go shopping on that sad day when goodbye would be necessary. He walked around the grounds; they were well kept, the area he had chosen was all flat markers, difficult to tell one grave from the other unless you got close enough to look down at the marker. His wife had died while he was in the service as a young man, they had buried her with her parents in another city, another state, another place very far away. He had visited her grave shortly after the doctor had given him the news of his own walk, but it was far from the children, far from what he called home so this would be the place. Unknowing to the children he had purchased enough area for all of their families to use it they wished, he would leave that to their decision. He read the markers of old men living long into their nineties, and young children who never understood life but lived only briefly some just hours. He wondered about death, leaving, closing this life and walking into a new world unknown and unseen by him but made certain in his heart because of his love and commitment to Christ. He wiped the tears from his eyes and remember when Jesus had wept, he was afraid, but yet he was settled, it would be alright for in his heart he knew that Jesus was there, that He had walked this way, wept tears for others and defeated the grave and opened its darkness to the light. William walked back to his car, he would not return here until others carried him, it was a good decision he had made this morning, it would all be alright. The tears flowed again, he paused, wiped them and said to Jesus, “I think I understand your weeping.”

 

I believe most of us think of these tears of our Lord as tears of compassion. His friends were weeping and He was moved by their sorrow. Certainly such is very likely; however, I believe there were some tears of sorrow on His part as He realized that it was not the Father’s plan for man to have to die.  All of these tears and all of this sorrow came because of sin. Jesus Wept, certainly for the joint sorrow of His friends but also for His sorrow for man and the choice that we have all made that cause us to have to know the darkness of the grave and the sting of death. Not God’s plan, but the price for sin as we face the grave and its darkness.  Our only hope is in Jesus and the sting of death that He removes and the darkness of the grave that He dispels as He opens the tomb and comes out into the sunlight.

Ivan

 

Published in: on September 18, 2012 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

He Carries Me

I am He who will carry you even to your old age and gray hairs I am He. Isaiah 46:4

Well I know a lot about old age but with a bald head like mine I don’t know much about gray hairs, just that I wish I had more of them. But I am sure glad I have Him. Growing old has its problems, many of them I do not like. The health issues, the worry over finance, and just facing the end, all of this troubles my heart at times. Then I read a wonderful verse like this and realize that the God of this universe is carrying me.  WOW, He who made the stars has time for my heart and time for my concerns.  He, who called the world into being, knows my name, my fears, and my needs. In the book of John Jesus said that he was my Shepherd and that a good Shepherd knows His sheep and they, know, hear, and follow His voice. Like most sheep, and those who know the animal say they are a bit dumb, I have done my share of straying and belting out pleas for help when I got myself in trouble. Always He was there. He would take out His staff and put it around my neck and pull me back into my place. Of course like David said He also had a rod, we don’t want to talk about the rod; certainly used to defend us but sometime used to put us on the ground so that we can get our head back on in the correct position, and sometime used to hold us close to the ground while He check us out and whispers in our ears the instructions we need.

Thank you Lord for carrying me even into my old age, the baldness of my head and the thinness of my hair, thank you for being to me the strength of life, the healing of life’s hurts, and the hope of life everlasting.

Ivan

 

Published in: on September 17, 2012 at 11:17 pm  Comments (1)  

The Panda Bear

I always wanted a panda bear; you know one of those black and white stuffed ones. Not much of a gift for a guy, but I still liked it but never did get one.  Tried at the fair a couple of times but the best I could do was a broken china doll. Somewhere about the ninth or tenth grade I bought a panda bear and gave it to the girl I was ‘dating’ not sure what else to call it, we saw each other at school and church, about the total sum but I got her a panda bear for Christmas.  Not much of a gift, but give me credit, it was something I wanted so it was a nice gift in my way of thinking.

Years later, about 15 or so I met the girls mother in downtown Jackson, we talked a minute, caught up with the last several years, telling things that both families had been doing; in the course of the conversation she told me that ‘Shirley’ (Not the real name- to protect the innocent) was shopping in a store down the street and would be out in a minute and I could see her and meet her four year old daughter. Boy it had been a long time. Sure enough in just a few minutes she came walking out of the store, holding the hand of her daughter who was dragging a panda bear in her other hand as they walked toward me. We greeted each other, talked a minute about old times and she said, ‘Remember this?’ and held up the panda bear, now with a pink tummy. She explained that her daughter just loved the bear and had worn his tummy out dragging it everywhere she went so she had patched it with a piece of pink cloth.

We hugged, I stooped down and told the young girl to take good care of the bear and was off to my own world as they headed to there’s. Not bad I thought, not bad, the old bear turned out to be a real plus for someone. I wish half of my Christmas gifts could have been loved as much.

Ivan ( A rerun from another day.)

Published in: on September 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment