Martin The Centurion



William Barclay in his “Daily Study Bible”     mentions a Roman solider – Here is my version of the story.


The Centurion Martin a solider of rank in     the Roman Army and a Christian in his heart and actions was marching his     troops toward a town one cold winter day when he was met by a beggar asking     for a coin. Martin told him that he had no coin, but looking at his almost     frozen and starved body he pulled him under his coat and then with the     mercy seldom shown a beggar took out his knife and cut his coat in half. He     place the old worn and dirty coat around the beggar and pulled it tight so     that he might stay warm in the cold of the winter night that was coming.     Then Martin took a small loaf of hard bread from his pouch and gave it to     the beggar saying please eat, I will find more for myself in the morning.


That night as his men made camp the     Centurion covered himself with the other half of his dirty, worn, and now     torn coat and fell into the sleep of the righteous.


Martin saw Jesus in glory wearing his old,     dirty, worn, and ripped coat, while clutching in his hand a piece of hard     brown bread. One of the angels seeing his Master dressed so asked, “Master     why are you wearing that old ragged cloak, and why are you eating that hard     piece of brown bread?” Jesus answered the angel saying, “My friend Martin     gave me this coat and this piece of bread so I wanted to wear his coat and     eat his food, for he shared it with me.”


Jesus said in Matthew chapter 25 vs. 40     ‘Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did     it to Me.’


Maybe the story will help us see how     precious the moments are when we give of ourselves to others.






Published in: on June 28, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Broken Hearts

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3

Like a mother making over her child as she takes care of the ‘hurt’ on his finger; God takes care of our broken hearts and heals them with His love.

There is nothing like a mother’s kiss to seal a hurt and make it all better. Mothers are good at that and they love doing just that.

I wonder why we do not understand how much God wants us to call on Him when our lives are hurting. He is so often the last one we call on for help.  It is as if we feel like we don’t want Him to know our hurts. We want to keep secret that which has caused us to feel broken.  I wonder where we think He was when the ‘secret’ was committed. Where are you going to hide from God, how are you going to hide, and why would you want to hide from the one who loves you the most and longs the most to be your help. We sure do make life difficult, when we could just come with pouring tears to Jesus and He will receive us with open arms. Like a mother’s kiss He will bind up our wounds and heal our broken heart. God so wants to be in our lives but He does not break down our door and He will not enter without an invitation.  Invite Him, you do need Him.


Published in: on June 27, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

The Power of Touch

I sat in the room with my dad as the two doctors in charge of his care made their early morning visits. The first doctor entered the room, glanced at me and standing at the end of the bed told dad that his test were looking better and that he was going to order more. He looked at the record in his hand, told him to have a nice day and left; Time of visit; six minutes.

About thirty minutes later Dr. Ballard came in, he shook my hand, said he was glad to see me and turning to dad said, “That bald headed boy is beginning to look a lot like his father. Then he sat on the bed, held dad’s hand, touched his brow and looking into his eyes told him that he was certainly improving. He assured him that they were going to do everything they could to get him home just as soon as possible. He said they would do a couple of more test just to keep him, the doctor, on his toes and holding his hands said, Mr. Ivan, you are going to beat this, now is not your time, I will see you and that bald headed son soon, take care and let me know if you need anything. With that he left; time of visit, six minutes.

I asked dad what he thought. “Well that first fellow didn’t have much time did he? Guess he has a lot of sick people to attend to. But you know Dr. Ballard is really smart, he just believes that I am going to be ok, and you know son; so do I. But I sure don’t know how he spends so much time with me when I know he has a lot of others who need him more.”

Both doctors were well trained, both knew what they were doing, both said about the same thing, but Dr. Ballard; well he had the touch, the healing touch.


Published in: on June 26, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Fears That Require Faith

All of us have some fears but as we grow older those fears seem to fall into a smaller funnel. For those of my generation, over sixty-five, two fears stand out like great dark mountains.

One is the fear of living longer than your money. In this time of longer life span this is a very real and reasonable fear. What if my money runs out before I do? No one wants to be a burden to their children. No one wants to come to the end of life and have to depend on others for help to survive. While social security is wonderful, most of us know that it will not sustain the life style we have enjoyed. Recently our savings have either vanished in that pit of ‘where did it go’ or they have dropped in earning power until even a good sum like $200,000 or so does not add much to our income for living unless we begin to draw down the principle and then we are back to that first fear, what if we live too long. A good manager of money might be able to help but even the smartest of advisors cannot do what cannot be done.  Thus the fear, “Living Longer than My Money.”

The second fear is somewhat the same. “Living Longer than My Health.” By that I mean our health plays out but our body continues to live.  All of us have visited the “Senior Adult Centers” and seen people who long ago ran out of health but not of life.  Thus they continue with 24/7 care for all of the issues of life. Again what is the answer?

I wish I knew the answer to these two pressing questions. I did everything I was told to do about investing my money, setting aside savings for my ‘Old Age” and then watched it vanish a few years ago as if it was never there.  With health, even the scriptures say what can I do to add an inch, a year, even a day.

Maybe it all goes back to the faith that as God provides for the birds of the air He will also provide for me. Perhaps my children will step up to the plate and hit the home run that I will need to see me to eternity’s gate. Maybe God’s grace will work it all out as he did for my dad who died when he had $931.00 left in the bank.

One thing for certain all the worry in the world will not alter the course and payment of time; so I like the birds of the air must do all that God has given me the ability to do and then believe that God will provide for the final flight.

With faith in Him I take each step, each fear, and each day knowing and believing that He really meant it when He said, “I will go with you to the end of the world.”


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

Something Funny

Something Funny Happened to Me on the Way to Church

I was on my way to a church in the rural area north West of Knoxville following the directions the pastor had given me as well as the GPS on my phone. It was a narrow curvy road with almost no shoulders and a speed limit of 35. Not being familiar with the area and trying to locate the side road that I had been instructed to take. I was driving the speed limit and being very careful and watchful. I heard a horn blowing at me and notice a man in a car behind be motioning for me to get out of the way.  I could almost hear him talking to me as my wife sometimes does to drivers who are blocking her way. “If you are going to park get off the road.” There was really no where for me to go but my follower was still most unhappy.  He got so close that I could read his lips, “Why don’t you get out and walk?” I could also see his front bumper sticker, “America Land of the Free” Maybe free to run over me, to get me off the road, free to let me know that I was a real problem to him.  I saw a chance by a small church to pull to the side and let him pass which he did blowing his horn and hitting the gas.

About ten minutes later I pulled into the church parking lot where I was to speak and notice my anxious friend getting out of his car.  He had saved at least three minutes, wow, that must have made his day.  I pulled in a couple of spaces down so as not to fret  him more than was necessary, got out and entered the church only to learn that my new found, ‘I want to get there first.’ Friend was also one of the speakers.

I noticed he did not look my way while he spoke.  I started to open my message with “Something Funny Happened to Me on the way to Church.” But decided that there was no need to put salt in the wounds for I could tell by his message that he was really hurting. In fact he left just as I finished my message; maybe he wanted to be sure that he was in front of me on the way back. In fact he was; he was parked by the side of the road talking to a trooper as I passed.


Published in: on June 21, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Fish That Went Preaching

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 June 20, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Vacation Bible School 2013

Vacation Bible School 2013

I stood and watched as 95 children and about 30 adults pledged allegiance to the American flag, the Christian flag, and the Bible tonight in the opening of our second night of Vacation Bible School. It seemed like the Lord opened the roof of our building and filled heaven with the voices of our school. They sung each song with excitement, watched with anticipation to the video about living without fear by following the Word of God. It brought back those years of long ago when as a boy at Calvary Baptist in Jackson, Tennessee; I took part in a very similar program. I still remember some of those songs, the stories of great characters, and the truths of God’s Word. I saw in their faces the joy of being in a room filled with their friends, listing, singing, learning, and hearing a young teenage boy lead in prayer. Our adults have spent a lot of hours preparing for these five nights, others have baptized them in prayer, and still others have made sure their children, friends, and grandchildren have a part in the wonderful experience of getting close to God. This is the very material that will make our nation strong, our future glorious, and Heaven sweeter. We must never forget that the dividends of each second invested in the lives of children will return to them and others a thousand fold. My heart is made joyful for the gift our adults give to our children, gifts purchased with time, not money, gifts that will never return void.  Thank you each one who has invested in the lives of our children. Ivan

Published in: on June 19, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Dearest Mary

(A letter from the Civil War – sometimes it helps to see the broken hearts of others and realize that compared to them our times are good times.)


Dearest Mary

It has been so long since I have been able to write and tell you of my hearts desire that will only be complete when I am once again in your arms. It has been more than a year since I have seen you but your face is still etched in my heart and not even the horrors of this war can erase it. Mary I am so glad that you live outside the boundaries of these battles and are spared a little of the darkness of the hour.

We have been so long in battle that it is hard from me to remember why we are here and why every where I look there is another dead man. I crawled over the body of a boy from near our home yesterday, his uniform was blue and I remembered that the last time I talked with in 1859 he was on his way to West Point, the union military school for officers. I almost cried when I saw who it was as I made my way across his body, strange that I would cry for a Yankee, but he was from our home and by now the bodies both grey and blue all look alike, just dead, forever dead. I thought of his family, I did weep Mary there was no way to hold back the flow of tears for he was about my age and his family must be so broken because he will never come home.

I pray Mary that I will be home with you before some boy crawls over my body. Remember me and never forget for a moment that I think of you.



Published in: on June 18, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

A Shepherd

A Shepherd

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. John 10:14

In the summer of 1994 we made our base camp in Goma, Zaire, within walking distance to the border of Rwanda. Because of the civil war in Rwanda there were about 800,000 people who had crossed the border in the area around Goma. Our original mission had been to provide safe water and medical care to those refugees. However when we arrived we learned that the water issue had been cared for by a group from Germany and we were to do general work in the area and to build a facility for 500 children.  Our first weekend in Zaire we saw about 15,000 bodies removed from Lake Kivu just two blocks from our facility. The streets were so packed with people that it was almost impossible to drive without just pushing the people out of the way and unaccompanied children were running everywhere. They were hungry, frightened, and sick. As we completed the camp sight for them to live on in safety, with medical care, and people to provide for them you could see an almost immediate change in them.  Life returned, hope came alive, and health began to return. They had been like sheep without a Shepherd and now they had found the Shepherd and he had called them home.

Everywhere I have been it is always the same; people long for someone to care for them, to love them, know them, and for someone to be their Shepherd. That longing will never be filled until they meet The Shepherd; Jesus, maybe one of the tasks you have in life is to bring them to meet Him.


Published in: on June 17, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Home With A View

I turned down the dirt road that I had been told would lead me to the family I was looking for, it was narrow, seldom traveled, and seemed almost like the road I have sometimes dreamed of that goes no where. Then I went over a little rise and there was the house just off of the road, yard mowed, house painted, flowers in beds along the front and side of the house and an elderly couple sitting in a swing on the porch. They greeted me like old friends even though we had never met, welcomed me into the house, almost too neat to sit in, offered me some wonderful ice tea, and suggested we sit on the back porch. It too was neat, a small table with four chairs and a view to take your breath away of the trees and hills painted on the eastern sky line. I introduced myself as the local pastor and asked about their relationship with the Lord. They share a beautiful experience of coming to know Jesus as a young couple and growing in Him as the years had added age to their bodies and roughness to their hands. I asked about their current church and they told me of one several miles away, one I was not even aware of, still active but with less than 20 people on its membership. We talked of many things and I asked if I might pray before I left, they said they would be honored, then holding each other in loves embrace they bowed as I voiced our prayer. They thanked me for coming by, told me I would be welcomed anytime and I started down that dusty road looking at that house so filled with love and asked God to give that joy to all who were part of my church family. They had so little in things compared to those who attended my church, their home would have been a family room in most of the houses in the city, but the happiness that filled that house made it a mansion. I wonder when we think of God preparing a place for us, is it really going to be so large and so splendid; maybe it is going to be filled with love like the home with the eastern view painted by the hand of God.


Published in: on June 14, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment