Bad Day

I had a bad day yesterday, no, bad is not the word, more like terrible, I should have died kind of day, that is close, but even that does not get it, but we will leave it there, Terrible.

In fact it was so bad that it started the day before, remember the night of all the storms and rain, well guess who left his sun roof partly opened, you win the prize, I did. To help it along I also left my phone in the cup holder of the car, nice safe place until it rained, you are getting ahead of me, right, and the phone was dead, swimming. My wife wanted to know how I could have left my roof open, silly question, right? Just don’t close it, which is the way I leave mine open, not sure about you but it works for me.  So I spent the early hours of the morning waiting for the store to open, after all this is the only phone I have.  Insurance, I have insurance, send the phone back to the company they said, along with $75.00 and they would send me a phone sometime, maybe a week, maybe two. But for $89.00 I could get a new phone, makes sense to me so new phone I have, no phone numbers in it, don’t understand how to use it, but I can hear it ring. When the clerk asked me if I wanted insurance I just stared at him until he said, ‘guess not’. Then yesterday I got up, bad move, should have stood in bed, I was tired, no weary, but up I came. I had brought home a bed and some other items so I unloaded those and put the bed together; has one of those middle legs under the box springs to help support it, got that in place, even put it on a board, I was moving on, then it came time to get up off of the floor and put the mattress set on. Do you know how hard it can be to get up out of the floor, very hard, even my dog Max got concerned, he kept licking me; his way of giving me courage or just checking to see if I would taste good if I didn’t get up? I got the cover on the bed and it looked great but it was just a bit too close to the door, so I did the obvious, I push it toward the wall, I heard a little noise, looked under the bed and sure enough the little middle leg had fallen over.  Too bad, if you come to my house to sleep in the guest room, be careful.

It was then that I realized I could not find the keys to my car, I went into panic gear and looked everywhere I had been all day since I came back from breakfast in the car. No keys, called a couple of friends, they tried to help but bottom line you have to tow the car to the dealership, bring proof of ownership and pay $150.00 plus the tow. Now bad becomes terrible, I searched more, burned up so much sugar that I began to shake, I mean really shake, looked for food, found a pack of crackers ate them in one bite and waited. Then I said, “Lord I have got to find that key,’ so I went back to the car, retraced my steps and ran my foot through the monkey grass, you are ahead of me, there they were, the terrible day immediately got better, much better.

Of course I left out the part where the doctor called and said some of my test were not good, at my age, can’t make a lot of difference, also left out that my sugar tester stopped working, couldn’t remember my new zip when I went to charge gas, and the breakfast I ate just added to my bad test, Oh well I think I will go to bed and maybe, maybe I will get up.

Ivan

Published in: on January 31, 2013 at 11:36 pm  Comments (2)  

No Turning Back

He awakens ‘me’ each morning; He awakens my ear to listen like those being instructed. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I did not turn back. Isaiah 50:4, 5

What if Moses had turned back? What if Dr. Salk had turned back? What if Jesus had turned back?

Everyone knows who Moses was as well as Jesus and I am sure we realize how tragic and final life would be if they had turned back. In Moses the Nation of Israel was to discover its home land. Through him we hear the thundering roar of the Ten Commandments as they come from the hand of God. What if he had said, “I give up on these stubborn people?” Look how the world would be changed. Certainly in Christ our eternal life depends on His listing to His Father and then following through. What if on the road to Calvary He had just stopped and said, ‘No further Father, I have done enough for these sinful people, I will not go to that cross.” How lost we would all be today.

Some might not know Dr. Salk, Jonas Salk was the honor student in his medical class but rather than go the route of a physician he gave his life to research. Thousands of times his research failed but then in 1955 it worked and Polio has almost vanished from our world because of his research.  When he was asked who owned the patent for the vaccine he simply said, “There is no patent, how can you patent the sun.”

Often the road is long, difficult, and even dangerous but God says; ‘Don’t stop here, keep on and by the way you can be sure that I will never leave you. ‘

Ivan

Published in: on January 30, 2013 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

We Honor Our ‘Greatest Generation’

We Honor Our ‘Greatest Generation’

Now and then you do something without any plans or forethought that turns out just right. On Sunday November 11, 2012 as I was honoring the veterans in our church family I left the pulpit and walked back to where James Cope and his wife were seated and told our fellowship that we had two very special men in our service, one James Cope by whose side I stood and the other Frank Stephenson who was in his full Marine Uniform near the front, both men having served in the second world war. As our fellowship began to clap my son Vann stood and then seeing this all of our fellowship stood to honor these two men.

How very thankful I am that the Lord gave me such a clear direction to honor in this special way these two men for today our church family and community pay our final respects to James D. Cope. James served in the United States Army from May 13, 1943 until January 6, 1946. His departure leaves the ranks of our Second World War soldiers’ slimmer. James landed in Normandy, France in August of 1944 and drove through France, Belgium, Holland, and to within 38 miles of Berlin when the war ended.

When I would ask him about the war he always gave much of the credit of our victory to the men and women who went to work in America and provided those in harms way with all the supplies they needed. James was truly one of the ‘Greatest Generation’; when he was interview in 2005 he said that it was by the grace of God that he came home. Then he said that if it came to giving in to others to rule our nation he would gladly go back and serve again. Thanks James for your service, example, and faith.

Ivan

Published in: on January 28, 2013 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

More of His Tribe

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. First Thessalonians 5:11

Born with a sight problem that little was known about in his generation the educational system had just overlooked him and left him to forever be behind.

When I met him he had already achieved a degree of success and was serving our children’s home as a house father. By today’s standards he would never have been given the opportunity to serve, but because of different requirements in those days he was chosen.

I knew very few men in my service with the home that could calm a child down, get his attention, and over the long run build a self value in the child like he could. Take the boy that most of the world would throw away place him in this man’s home and in time you would harvest a man of character. His secret? I think he knew what it is like to be thrown away and he was determined that he would discover the ‘gift’ that each person has and help that person discover it for themselves. He knew how wonderful it felt to have someone believe in you and he passed it on to others.

He had the ability that most of us have but fail to see and use. Instead of seeing failure, he saw success, hope, direction, and the great hand of God as it wrote all over the boy; important, made in My image and loved by Me. We need more of his tribe.

Ivan

Published in: on January 27, 2013 at 11:21 pm  Comments (1)  

New Neighbor At I 65 and Wedgewood

As I left the interstate on my way to Vanderbilt yesterday I noticed a man standing beside the road that looked a lot like me. If he had not been black we might have passed for one another, he held a McDonalds cup in his hand as if asking someone to fill it us so pulling into the left turn lane off of the interstate I asked him if he wanted breakfast, he said he sure did and then with some effort, if you have seen my front seat you would understand, CD,s hat, empty sack, newspaper, just to name a few of the items he had to move in order to get in the car. We drove up to the McDonalds and as we entered I realized it was not breakfast time but lunch. He ordered two big Mack’s, fries, and two large cokes. I had told him to choose his own poison, I got a coke and we sit down to share a few minutes. From what I could understand he had been on the street for a number of years, his fault he said, just let the bottle as he called it get to him and now trying to get free of the ghost he was left stranded without family or friends. He said he had used them up. I share that I was on the way to the hospital to visit a friend for what I expected to be the last time. I told him about my friend, his family, his service to his country, and the peace I was sure he had as he made his journey to ‘home.’ Tears came into his eyes and he told me of better days, family, job, even service in the army but now he said all of those memories had drown in his desire for the bottle. I asked him if it would be ok if we prayed, he said yes, and there the two of us in front of a restaurant full of witnesses I felt the witness of God. I offer to take him back to the intersection, he said he believe it was time to walk; so my new neighbor and I parted ways and I watched him just sit down on a bus bench with refills in both his cups, as I drove on to the visit with my friend. Strange the turns that life takes, it could be me on the bench but instead it was Will, I prayed for him, wept a bit and found my way to my destination, I shall always wonder were Will went.  Ivan

Published in: on January 24, 2013 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Memories

I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you.  Philippians 1:3

Paul had some wonderful memories of those with whom he had ministered over the years. Like Paul I have so many great memories. The Evans family who lived across the street from me when I was a boy and answered a thousand questioned asked of them by me. My friend Jim Allen whom I had the honor and duty to go two years ago and pay my final respects and say my last goodbye. Every time I see a Pepsi Cola I think of some wonderful moment I shared with him, he loved Pepsi. The other day while going through a box of papers I found the poem my sister Alice wrote the night she went to be with Jesus, what a wonderful moment and remembrance. I looked today at a picture taken of my sister and I the last time we were together, how priceless. Bill Rowell who lived across the street from me when I was a boy, what joyful memories he and John Barber and I have shared as we explored the joys of childhood as found on Lindsey Street. . When I drove into the cemetery for my sister funeral Bill was the first person I saw. Memories of people at churches where I have pastored and supplied, each one made a special mark on my life; marks that have lasted a life time.

Last night at church I saw something that reminded me of my days as a boy preacher and gave thanks to the Lord for the person who produced that memory and the one who made it so long ago.

But no memories are better than that Thursday night in February when I took Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.  It is my prayer that as your have read this you have recalled, names, places, and events that have marked your life. Thank you Lord for the good memories.

Ivan

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Making Life Brighter

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25

As a Christian, yes even as a minister I have suffered from anxiety. It can be life destroying. It takes away your joy, hopes, and even your desires. Anxiety never brought joy to God’s heart and I can assure you He never created it in my life.  I always produced it by my own fears, questions, frustrations, and insecurities.

But a good word can be like a mountain top experience.  It is difficult to explain but sometimes the simplest phrase like, ‘I enjoyed that.’ ‘That meant something to me.” “You touched a spot in my heart with that.” and a thousand other statements have served as a cleansing fluid for my soul. When life looks it’s worst and someone without even knowing says a nice word, shows a bit of interest, or expresses appreciation it can light a fire that burns away the anxiety and creates a new and glorious day.

I know that as Christians we sometimes get so busy with our lives that we forget those who walk through this world with us. Why not choose today to be a fountain flowing with the joy of Jesus as we deal with people. Make sure you are sincere, be certain that your heart is clear and that it is your desire to be a blessing. No false statements, but real from the heart caring.  Being your best to the person who serves you at lunch, speaking with joy to those who share your work place, not responding as they responding but giving yourself as a fountain of joy that others might see Jesus in you. Holding a door, saying thank you, and the normal acts of courtesy can make and will make a real difference.

Be a cheerleader today, you know how, so do it and the world will be sweeter because of you.  Ivan

Published in: on January 22, 2013 at 8:46 pm  Comments (6)  

Of Value

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31

I watched this morning as about a dozen birds raided my feeder; they were excited, eating, flying away, and returning to hustle a place for themselves on the feeder. What a wonderful sight as I read my bible and remembered once again that God knows even the birds that enjoy my feeder. I can’t tell one from the other, but He can and He does.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a man’s true value could be known by those who know him at the time of his living? How nice it would also be if he were aware of their feelings. But then that is not always the way with life but it is the way with Christ.

Jesus shared with His followers that while sparrows were very cheap to purchase they were still so important that God always knew when they perished. Then he reminded them that they were much more important than many sparrows.

A man lives his life, does his best, follows the calling of God and in the best way he knows how he finishes the course, completes his task, and then grows old. No one ever notices the task, the finished path, and the worth of the old man.

I saw a man like that today as I drove down the road. I couldn’t help but wonder who he was, what he had done over the past years and even where he was headed today. I was moved for the old man, touched by how each step seemed to be intentional, chosen, and with great care taken. I hoped he has many friends and I hope he is special and dear to them. I prayed that somewhere someone would speak softly to him today, smile, and wish him well. I pulled into the service station down the road, held the door for and older man getting out of his truck and asked the clerk if he knew the man walking by his station on the other side of the road. He smiled and said, “Sure all of us around here know Mr. Carl, he is a fixture in these parts. Every morning about this time he will pass here first going one way then in a few minutes back the other directions. In fact if he doesn’t come by before ten one of us will run up to his house to see if he is alright. Yes everyone knows and loves Mr. Carl.” I paid for my coke, thanked him for the information and smiled as I got back in my car and watched Mr. Carl walk across his lawn and up his steps with the help of a rail someone had built for him. I pulled away with joy knowing that there is still a part of the world where not only sparrows are special but that even old men are important and loved.

Ivan

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 11:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Are You Listening

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel! Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” First Samuel 3:10

Are you listing? I know He is speaking, that is not the question. The question is; are you listing?

We get caught up in the flames of information from our 24/7 news and forget that Jesus is not asking us to fight about our faith and His truths; He simply wants us to allow His Spirit to direct our paths. If we love Him he says that we will follow and obey Him. You live by His Word, be real, not phony, and just be the very best you that you can be by His power and through His truth. We will not win the battle for this world by our words and arguments; we will win this battle by belonging to Jesus and following His Word. The more you fuss the further down the list of leadership and servant you will become. You don’t have to compromise, but you also don’t have to brag on how right you are. Let God do the bragging when He says, ‘Well done.” Live His truth, serve Him, and leave the victory to His power and will. Remember it is through His light shining through you that others will see Him. Not your light, but His.

Ivan

Published in: on January 20, 2013 at 9:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Old Grouch

Old Grouch

A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with a song. Proverbs 15:15

I had a friend whom I use to call an old grouch, that what he was, he just complained about everything and everybody.

I would take about twelve kids to the ball game every Friday night and we would always stop at his service station to fill up with gas. Of course all the kids wanted change and few of them made any purchases.  He didn’t want to give them change and just fussed every time we stopped.  I got him over to the side one night and said, “Grouchy you see all those kids on that van?  Every one of them will be driving in three years and they will have their dad’s credit cards and will buy more gas than their parents.  I also know one place that they will never stop; right here.”

The next Friday night he came out to the van with a bag of changed and asked them if he could make change for anyone.  By the end of the season he said, “Preacher I started giving out change because I wanted their business  but you know they are so happy about it that it brings joy to my heart to be able to give them change, purchase or not.”

Ivan

Published in: on January 18, 2013 at 1:22 am  Comments (1)