They Never End

They Never End

Johnnie and I were playing on the back porch, towels around our necks like capes, jumping off of the porch making believe that we were superman. It was the bottom of the last inning and our team was losing by one point. Carl, the first batter up, hit a hard bouncing drive pass the first baseman into right field, making it an easy double. But with Carl on second and seven pitches later our next two batters had struck out, it was my time to be the goat, the game was a goner. I remember thinking if I can get it short into right Carl can make it to third, maybe even home and we have a new ball game. Then came the first pitch, It was that dreamed for low just above the knees and I swung with all of my strength as I reached first I hear someone yelling it is out of here; They still say they never found the ball, maybe it was in Jones’ creek or stuck in one of the long away trees, we never knew but victory was sweet. I was at the New Southern Hotel, attending my first Rotary meeting as a junior member while a senior in high school, I still remember the speaker, Kirby Jones, and the opening joke he told. Then I was on the stage at Calvary, it was December 31, and I was waiting to deliver the message for our watch night service, I was seventeen and frightened. There I stood in front of the Admiral as he pinned the medal on me for being the honor man of our recruit class; it was the 1964 World’s Fair and I stood shaking hands with Dr. Billy Graham; it was May 5th, 1977 and as I looked at her body I knew that mother was gone even as I listened to the sounds of the approaching ambulance. Suddenly I awoke, it was Sunday morning, I had a shirt to press, shoes to shine, church to attend and a message to deliver.  From where do the dreams come and to where do they go? Like time they pass, but they do not end.

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Published in: on April 30, 2013 at 7:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Worry

I am a first class worrier; if they gave awards for being great at worry then I would have shelves of trophies. I tell myself that I get it from my mother for she did worry a lot but here I am old enough to know better and I still worry.  I know the verse, I understand how foolish it is but somehow try as I may it will not go away. Even in my old age I worry about each message I preach much as I did when I was just starting to preach. I go back over it, analyze what I said and how I said it trusting that it made sense.

I remember pasturing a church where I had a man who was very sensitive. He wore his feelings on his shirt sleeve and always seemed to have a bug somewhere. I was preaching one day and this fellow left and did not return during the service.  I spent the rest of the sermon, yes, while I was preaching, trying to think of what I could have said that would have caused him to leave. I didn’t enjoy my lunch for worrying about what had happened and what I had said.  I went over each word and just could not land on anything that would have upset him.  I did not sleep that night and still the next day was in distress over the instant. Coming out of a restraint at lunch I ran into him and said to myself, here it comes. Instead he said, “Pastor I am so sorry that I had to leave yesterday during your message, but I was in real distress with a stomach virus. I listened to the message on the radio and you did a great job. Sorry about leaving.”

I had wasted a lot of worry.

Ivan

Published in: on April 26, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Moments In The Master’s Land

 

Now and then life gives to us one of those moments for which we have longed. As a boy it was a simple fishing trip with my dad, fishing from a boat near Pickwick dam, spending the night at my grandparent’s house in Dyersburg. Later it was standing dressed in United States Navy blues and receiving the honors as our colors were marched on the parade field before us.  Too many others to count but in recent days it was standing in the land of my Master, realizing that Jesus had walked these roads, climbed these hills, and road in a boat across this great lake. Our trip to Israel was a dream from my early childhood that waited until my closing years to come to reality. As a boy I looked at the pictures in the bible and wondered what the land really looked like, very little resembled the pictures of my childhood bible. Now I have been there and I share these Moments in the Master’s Land with you.

 

Moments by the Sea:

For our first six days we stayed in Tiberius on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. While the city is only mentioned once in the bible the sea served as a central part of much of Jesus’ ministry.

I sat in the dark one night and listened as the waters of the sea lapped against the wall which protected our hotel from erosion. Far across to its eastern shore you could see the lights of Jordan, on the sea itself were fishing boats searching for their catch in the light of the full moon. I wondered if it were somewhere near here that Jesus took a boat across to the other side to teach the people.  Maybe it was close by that He walked to his disciples as they trembled in their boat during a storm.  Somewhere on that sea Jesus had slept in a boat while his disciples feared for their lives because of the storm. It was here that he told them where to cast their nets so that they would have fish aplenty.  From this sea he called a fish to bring him a coin so that he might pay his taxes. By this sea in his resurrected body he prepared breakfast for his disciples and told them in the early morning hours to cast over there for a great school of fish and then to drag them to shore and join him in a seaman’s breakfast.

Looking across that great sea I could almost hear the Master saying, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

 

Published in: on April 25, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Getting Through The Airport

Modern Travel Adventures

Travel is really a bit of an adventure today, maybe not to the extend it was to those first ‘Volunteers’ from Tennessee who came to Texas to Liberate the ‘one star’ state, but it does have its moments of challenge. I believe that I must carry the gene of adventure in my physical features for the airport has remained for me an adventure, unlike my ‘volunteer’ friends, yet with moments of both fear and laughter. I arrived in plenty of time to make my trip one without challenge and frustration. But there it was from the on set. As I parked in the extended parking, somewhere near Lebanon if not further, the bus which was to carry me to the airport stopped behind my car and with the courtesy of a typical southern gentleman the driver opened the door and held everyone up so that I could board his bus.  I wasn’t ready, but the hum of his engine and the call of the passengers made it imperative that I move quickly.  I did so, forgetting only one small item, the charger for my phone, but why worry, who needs to call. So I got off to a quick start, bags flowing in the wind from my arms, looking a bit like I had too much of something I have never had but I did get through the door to the laughter of the passengers and their unison sign of relief that they too could now go on with their trip to the terminal.

With my one bag checked and the other ready for me to make it through the forest of guards and machines which would determine if I was travel worthy. I approached the area in a very serious manner, removed my computer from the case and placed it in a container, then my coat, all items in my pockets in another, my watch, hat and shoes in yet a fourth. Thereupon I was instructed to place my feet in these painted prints of feet put my hands over my head and stand very still. Suddenly he stopped the process and asked me to remove my belt; I did, handing it to a female guard who placed it in my fifth gray container.  With that done and back to my position I realized that without my belt it was going to be difficult to put my hands over my head without my pants falling to the floor but then I am a ‘Volunteer’ headed to Texas, I can do this, so I pouched out everything I could control and made it through the whirl of the machine; somewhere, inside the equipment, where the lady  who looks at the scans hides, I hear a small laughter, maybe a bit of a snicker, could have been and awe, not sure, but now I thought, I am through. But then the nice guard asked me to stand aside so the now booing line of would be passengers could again regroup and continue their journeys on to places around the world. The guard then informed me that he would have to pat me down, again he told me how to stand and struggling not to loose my still falling pants I managed to meet this requirement. Then he took me to a strange looking machine when he coated my hands with a liquid, not sure what it was but he wore gloves and avoided it like it might cause parts to fall off if they did not meet its approval. With that he took the gauze with which he wiped my hands and placed it under a special light, imported from outer space or Oak Ridge, not sure which, and with a great smile of relief he said, ‘good you can go.’ Holding my pants with one hand looking for my five containers of clothing, shoes, belt and other valuables I located them in another area of the airport and begin the chore of ‘regrouping my aged body for my journey to the gate. One side bar of a positive note I now had no time to wait at the gate and the world of onlookers sighed with joy that we are now safe to travel.

Knowing that God takes care of his servants I told my story to the lady in the seat next to me and after an invitation to buy me a drink and a long laughter when I told her ‘never had, never would’ she asked what type of phone I had, I told her and she opened her computer case and removed four or five chargers and said, “Find the one that fits.” I located the correct charger and offered to purchase it from her but was stalled when she declined and said, “Not to worry, I travel every week and each time I check into a hotel I ask if they have a phone charger that I might use, thus I now have several just in case I might need one and today I do.” “Beside”, she said, “The story was worth the charger.”

Outside of spilling my peanuts and tripping over something hanging loose from a very large lady in an aisle seat on my way to the restroom the trip went rather well.

Note- While I laugh at the inspection adventure as it happened to me I am glad that we have all the procedures we need to keep everyone safe.

Ivan

Published in: on April 24, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

No Win

By the time I received the call from the houseparents the Sunday afternoon scene had become a three ring circus. The houseparent’s in one ring, the mother of the child in another ring, and the ten year old boy in the third ring, all sure that they were right and I had to make the ten year old boy obey. The facts were basis, the mother had promised the boy that she would pick him up at 1 pm, take him to lunch and the park and they would stay off campus until 5.  A typical Sunday afternoon visit with parents. The houseparent’s were caught in the middle, the mother was back, it was 4:30 and she was insisting that her son be made to get out of the car so that she could leave, they were to be the enforcers. The boy was mad because she had not shown up until 4, had taken him to the Sonic for a coke and now wanted to leave. He had thirty more minutes and he was going to wait them out in the car. I was on the boy’s side, but knew that it was not going to be that simple so a solution had to be proposed. I took the mother aside, got her story and told her how wrong I felt she had been and how hurt her son was. His display was anger, but it was really hurt. The houseparent’s were with me but were limited in how much they could disclose of their feeling because the child was going to come into the house in a rage any way that it worked out. I got the boy to unlock the car and got in and talked with him for a few minutes, explained that I understood how he felt but that we were going to have to work on a better way to display his feelings. I told him if he would tell his mother goodbye and let her know that he was hurt because of the short visit, but do it as nicely as possible that he could go with me to church that night and we would do dinner and it would be nine or so before we got back also that he could choose two friends to go with us. We never went anywhere alone with kids, not wise in today’s world. I remember that story because it reminds me of the wonderful people who serve as houseparent’s and who struggle so hard with a life that is at best difficult, all because they love children. Also I am reminded of the hurt so many children live with each day. I never knew that hurt but I am so pleased that God allowed me a few years of my life working with children who without the godly workers of the Children’s Home would never have had an inch of a chance.

Published in: on April 23, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

My Encourager

I was a small shy boy of nine when I met Mrs. Wilson my fourth grade teacher. I thought she was the prettiest teacher I had ever seen but I was far too bashful to even be noticed in her class. In fact I was the smallest person in the class.  I never answered a question, never offered a remark, and stayed very out of the way and near the back of the room. I felt safe in not being noticed so I made sure that I did not bring attention to myself.

I didn’t respond well to other children and seldom took part in any recess activity. For some reason, that is not part of that memory, I felt very inferior and just wanted to be alone.

Mrs. Wilson must have notice these traits in me and decided to invest more than teaching in my life. Before class one day she asked if I could do her a favor.  I wasn’t sure how to respond but nodded that I would.  She told me that she had been collecting ‘Blue Horse’ note book covers and when she got a certain number and sent them in she would receive a nice gift for our class. She said that she needed me to count all of the covers, put them in stacks of 100, and give her a total count. I am not sure why but this thrilled me and I gladly completed the task.  She told the class what a good job I had done and how proud all of us should be since our class would be receiving a new world globe because of my hard work and their gifts of note book covers. All of this was far outside her duties as a teacher, but somehow she knew that they were duties of her life and calling.

Without knowing it Mrs. Wilson became my first encourager. I have never forgotten her and will always be indebted to her.

Published in: on April 22, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

I Was A Surprise

I was born on Thursday November 11, 1937 in the second house from the corner of Camden and Lexington in Jackson, TN.

To show you how different the world was in those days my ten year old sister, not even knowing that mother was expecting a baby, came home from school, took one look at me and said to mother, “What’s that?”   Mom said that I was her baby brother; with that my sister asked where I had come from and mother responded that Dr. Brown had brought me. She then told mother to call Dr. Brown and tell him to come and get me that we didn’t need a baby.

So much for a great welcome. They didn’t send me back and I had the joy of growing up in a wonderful Christian home with three older sisters and two great parents.  God has sure been good to a family surprise. I was not only loved but I was introduced to the Lord of Lords, His love. and the love of a family that belonged to Him. 

Published in: on April 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

My Old Coat

I wish there were some wonderful place called the Land of Beginning Again where all my mistakes and all my heartacks like a dirty old coat could be left at the gate and never put on again. If I have said that once I have said it a thousand times it is a corruption of a poem written by E. Lutzer, his is much better, but my altered version says what my heart says. I know that there is such a place, for some it will be the manger at Bethlehem, others will see it in the gentle words of Jesus, many at the foot of the cross, and still others at that moment when they turned loose of their life and allowed Christ to mark their journey by His map.

For me it was a Thursday night in February of 1947 when from the third row from the front on the left side at Calvary Baptist Church, corner of Lexington and Tomlin, in Jackson, Tennessee, that I steeped down the isle of our church gave my hand to Dr. Walter Warmouth and my heart to Jesus. So life does begin at Calvary, and that started from the heart of God by way of the stable of Bethlehem. I have made a lot of mistakes since that Thursday in 1947, failed, and dropped the ball, use what pleases you to make a negative, but that night God took the heart of a nine year old boy from 246 South Lindsey Street, opened its door and stepped inside. I am sure He wanted to leave a thousand times and more but He did not and He will not for from the cross He had told me to bring all my mistakes and all my heartacks to Him and I could leave them there and like a worn out coat, dirty and ragged never put it on again.

Thank you Lord for the Land of Beginning Again, thank you for taking my old coat and placing around my unworthy body the Glorious coat of your Son, Jesus.

Ivan

Published in: on April 17, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

When Will It End?

Where does it end? I am sure that many people are asking that question tonight as we put ourselves to bed trying to close out this day of tragedy and terror. From a philosophical point of view we must be smart enough to understand that it is not going to stop. There is no law, short of making our nation a police state that will stop evil people from performing evil deeds in an open and free society. I wonder how long it is going to take us to be brave enough to identify the real enemy; Satan is our enemy, he hates America and God fearing people of every nation. Look in the nations where he is in control there is no freedom and there is no room for the foundation upon which our nation was built; ‘Believing that freedom is a gift from God.’ When we fall upon our faces before the Living God and ask Him to forgive our sin, cleanse our hearts and bring our ways back into the fold of His ways? We must all take responsibility for our personal behavior, our sin of neglect and blindness to wrong. Too long we have turned our eyes from Him, we have sought our own path, now the time has come for us to open our eyes, see our personal failures and responsibility, repent and seek the face of God. Then we must ask our Father and Lord to bring revival to this land, return truth to our voices, God likeness to our daily lives, and worship of Him by all who will follow and believe. Our pulpits must be filled with His Word, His forgiveness, and His expiation’s of those who call Him Lord.

Published in: on April 16, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Backward Turn Backward

And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love Him . . .  Deuteronomy 10:12

Backward turn backward O time in your flight make be a boy again if just for tonight.

Let me ride my bike on Lindsey street, jump from the bank into Jones’ creek, feel funny when I see Betty Upton, make a four wheeler with and old lawnmower engine and feel so very young. Chew ‘Double Bubble’ gum and blow the largest bubble anyone on Lindsey Street has ever seen. Throw rocks at tin cans and try to catch a bird under a box with a stick and string. Walk to the movies in downtown Jackson, and dream of one day being in the Navy like my uncle Shelby. Let me lie in the grass and pet my dog Popeye, walk to school with the crowd from East Jackson and dream that which only a boy in America could ever hope to dream. Let me play ball in the street, stand and watch the ‘Service Men’ run down the street to their training station, and fill protected by my mother and father.

But time turns not backward, and I will never be a boy again, even for one night. But I can be what God wants me to be and I can do what God desires for me to do. I can have faith in Him, walk in His ways, and love Him with all my heart and I can know that He will always know my name and love me as His child.

Ivan

Published in: on April 15, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)