Say Thank You

Do you have an Attitude of Gratitude?

Mother would always ask me when someone had done something for me, ‘Did you say thank you?’ I believe it was a measure of goodness to my mother.

When you begin to list what you like about people an attitude of gratitude will be on that list. I have worked with people who did not know the word, ‘thank you’ and some of them have had a lot of lovely qualities but without gratitude they always came across stiff, selfish, and unreasonable.

I noticed this past weekend how many people expressed their gratitude; often it was for a simple act of kindness; mother would have called it good manners. As most of you know I wear a hat most of the time, it looks like a Greek fisherman’s cap, so when I would enter the elevator and a lady was present, I would always remove my hat, a couple of them smiled and as they got off of the elevator said, ‘Thank You,’ I had done nothing special, just practiced what my parents and teachers had taught me more than sixty years ago. But you know something, I like the way they said it and also the very fact that they would have noticed. Gratitude like love can cover a multitude of wrongs. When what you do is appreciated and people say so it really makes a difference. Your heart is warmer, your feelings glow, and your gratitude begins to show. So gratitude goes both ways and touches both parties and maybe even others who just overhear the expression.

Work to see how many people you can say ‘thank you’ to today. It just might make others smile and you nicer.

Ivan

Published in: on July 31, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Winner Is

 The Winner Is. . . .

I grew us in the movies when I was a kid, it was the Saturday afternoon event of the guys of Lindsey Street and East Jackson; we saw all the westerns of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Lash Laure, and science fiction thrillers, like Frankenstein. So I love good movies; but on my best list are two movies that most of you have not seen; “Hachi, the story of a dog” and The Natural.

In Hachi we see a true story unfold of an “Akita” puppy rescued by a professor, and their growing relationship which displayed unusual loyalty. The real story took place in Japan in the 30’s; the movie in Bristol, RI, modern time. Hachi was driven to walk with his master Richard Gera to the train station as he headed to the university each morning and to return each night to wait for his master and walk home with him. The professor died while at work one day and thus never arrived at the station. Try as they did the family could never break Hachi from returning each afternoon to wait for his master to exit the train station. For nine years Hachi returned to wait until the last train of the day to meet his master; the family moved away but the shopkeepers took care of Hachi and there in the snow, rain, cold, and heat Hachi would wait, almost ten years was spent by that faithful dog waiting for the person he loved the most to return; in true life the city buried Hachi in front of the station and today there stands a bronze statue of him waiting for his master. In the movie Hatch’s eyes began to close for their final time as the snow covers his body, then he hears his master’s voice; ‘Hachi it is time to go home’, his eyes open, he sees his master and they walk together to the land of tomorrow. How wonderful it would be to wait at the station for my Master and to hear Him say, “Ivan, wake up, time to go home.”

The other movie on my list is one some of you have seen; a baseball movie, “The Natural” with Robert Redford as the 35 year old “Rookie” to Major League Baseball, Roy Hobbs. It is a good story of a want to be ‘greatest player’ denied his dream by a gunshot wound who comes to the majors at the age of 35 with only his hand made bat, “Wonder boy” to lead his failing team to the pennant’s final game. I love the two final scenes in the movie; Roy comes to bat with men on base and a chance to take the pennant. With all of his strikes used up, his great bat broken, his side bleeding, he ask his bat boy to pick him out a new bat and to make it a winner. The boy handed him a bat they had made and with the hope of victory falling he hits the final pitch into the light bank on the outside of the center field wall and the fireworks show of baseball begins. I love that scene. In the final scene he is back at his farm with his wife pitching ball with his son, nicely done folks.

Oh I almost forgot, and the Winner Is – “And behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me; I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Jesus, Revelation 22:12, 13

 

 

Published in: on July 30, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

Simple Times; Forever Memories

Simple Times; Forever Memories

The simple joys of age broke like new sunlight into my soul this weekend as I traveled with Carole and son Jim to Memphis.

We had a lovely visit with Aunt Mildred who will be 94 this week. The sparkle is not as bright in her eyes as it was a few years ago, but when she saw Carole a whole new brightness crossed her face and hung there as the two of them hugged and continued with brightness as she saw Jim for the first time in many years, how lovely to stand by and see sunshine come into the eyes of someone who has walked through so many years.  We got to see Carole’s brother and his wife, a dear friend from high school who recently had a heart value repaired. A breakfast with Ann and her daughter was a joy as was the light in Jim’s eyes as he saw places of his past that marked for him part of his roots.

I got to attend church, twice, with my son Vann, his daughter Brittany, son Brett and then all eight of us had a wonderful Sunday afternoon dinner together as Carole’s sister, Brenda joined us. To see my son so involved in the kingdom of our Lord and the life of his family just made the trip worth all the miles. He is a son you would pay a lifetime of earnings to have.

We closed Sunday night back in Nashville with Jenifer and her family; she lives with three boys, husband Justin, sons J.R and Jack, along with both John and Jim and more food than one should eat. Some times just mark your life so much, stamp it so deeply that you know that they will be forever etched in your heart.

I am indebted to my church family for allowing me the Sunday away, and for the way they prepare my heart each day to do His Work and follow His Will.

Ivan

Published in: on July 29, 2013 at 12:53 am  Comments (2)  

Weekend

She was helping her husband pack for his weekend trip with the guys.  This was an annual event that was now into its eighth year. They would choose a place of interest to each of them and would spend a couple of nights and three days together. In the past it had been a little routed at times but now that Jim had been saved since their last trip she was sure this would be a better year. As he finished up with his pack she grabbed his bible and said, Hon, don’t forget this, holding it up, You have read it every day for more than six months now. He looked a little confused then asked, Think the guys will make fun of me when they discover I am a Christian? She hugged him and said, You just put them straight, it will be alright.  On Sunday night as he was unpacking from the trip he pulled the bible from his pack and she asked, What did the guys say when they found out you were a Christian? He looked a bit startled and said, They didnt find out.  I wonder what happened to his light.  Bad connection maybe.

Published in: on July 26, 2013 at 9:56 am  Leave a Comment  

She Took Her Life

She Took Her Life – Rachel

I really didn’t know Rachel, well I did know who she was and we had talked a few times after church but it was very surface. I did remember how she had told me of her love for Jesus and how wonderful it was when she was saved. It is always such a joy to share that moment of awakening that takes place when a person meets Jesus as their savior. She and her husband attended the church like most member, Sunday mornings, missing about half the time and making it about half the time. He was a very driven man, saw everything from his point of view and was so strong in his opinions that most people just avoided talking with him.  She just stood in the shadow, smiled or bowed her head and silently moved out of the area. You have met a thousand people like him; the conversation is always in one direction, his or it is so challenged that no one wishes to continue. At some point they drifted out of the church, I left and years went by without my hearing anything from them or about them. Then early one morning I received a phone call and Rachel’s husband was in great distress and tears. He told me that she had killed herself and left him with the task of taking care of all the duties of death. The tone and direction of the conversation did not surprise me, it sounded so like him. The tears were not for Rachel and her broken heart and torn mind that had led to this tragic event they were all about him, his duties, the cost and all the trouble she had left him with. The bottom line of the call was, “Knowing she killed herself and is now in hell I wondered if you would come and say a prayer at the grave one day next week when I can have the time to bury her?” I started to challenge his word but decided I would have a better chance at the grave but assured him that I would come to their city and have the grave side service for Rachel.  I have never been good at funerals and always wondered just what to say and of course this service was going to be difficult, but with God’s help I would get through and this too would pass.

Time came and I joined the dozen or so people who came to the cemetery and stood with me at the grave. He was strong in his opinion of her current residence and let everyone in hearing range know his strong feelings.

I read some scripture of the assurance of God’s grace, prayed, said a few words as I understood them about Rachel and then zeroed in on this thought, ‘Would you like to be remember and judged by your worst moment?’ I paused a long time then told about Rachel sharing with me her moment of salvation. Assured those who would listen of the forgiveness and grace of God and then I closed with a prayer thanking God that His children, even when they were wrong were still His children. He left the grave sight without speaking, I still have never heard from him. Maybe, someday he will understand the love and salvation of God.

Ivan

 

 

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

Looking Back

He knew that it had been a real mistake, now that he was looking back, but isn’t that always how it is with looking back? Things are so clear, even magnified when you are looking back. For sure there was no way to overcome it or to even survive.  Sure it had been fun at first, the freedom from his father’s house and business, had provided him with so many new adventures that at moments he was not sure he would live long enough to enjoy them all. His father had been generous with the settlement, giving him more cash for his part of the business than he had expected or asked for, but then that was so much like his father, as he was generous with everyone. The money and independence had been great for a time and anyone who said money could not buy happiness just didn’t have enough money. But in truth it wasn’t happiness that troubled him now, it was survival.  The economy had dropped, the job market had collapsed and his plans to go to work and restore his funds before they all ran out had failed. It was gone, all of it as well as all that it had bought, friends, car, big apartment, popularity, all of it was gone.

He thought about William his father’s driver and errand runner. He lived in a nice, small, but nice house. His children all went to college and he had always seemed at peace with himself and his life. He wondered how much his father paid William and how William had become content and at peace with his life. His shift as a burger flipper was almost over but looking forward to another night in the ‘Union Mission” did not bring him any peace. He would smell those burgers and all the wine and vomit of the men with whom he had to share the small room crowded with cots and the left behind of society. There would be no peace for him, not this night.

Sure enough, sleep would not come, but he remembered his father praying so he did. He didn’t know how to pray but he remembered his father praying and so he just talked to God. Maybe he could go home and ask his father to forgive him and to give him a job, just any job at his father’s house would be better than this. Maybe, just maybe his father could teach him about peace, he was weary of happiness; he just wanted peace, just peace.  What could he loose? His father might say no but he would be no worst off. He needed his father and he was not going to wait until morning, he was going home now. He needed to go home. Looking back he remembered how exciting it had been to leave home but now as he made his journey home it wasn’t excitement that moved through his heart, what was it, was it the beginning of peace?

When he turned into the drive he saw his father sitting on the porch looking out toward the street. Suddenly the old man jumped up, called to his wife in the house and came running to meet him. As he felt his dad hug him and felt the tears from him falling on his shoulders he was sure that peace was coming, peace was coming. Is it time for you to go home?

Ivan      From the story in Luke 15.

Published in: on July 24, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Tie Your Shoes

They certainly did not intend for this prisoner to escape, he was kept in a secured cell made more secure by additional guards at each of the prison doors and chained between two guards, even as he slept; he was secure. Suddenly he was struck on his side and lifted up; he was told by the angel to arise quickly, to gird himself and tie on his sandals, put on his coat, and follow him; he did as requested and it was not until he was inside the city and safe that he realize this was not a dream it was real.

Notice, the angel did all the thinks Peter could not do; kept the guards asleep, opened the gates, removed the chains but he did not do what Peter could do for himself. Peter had to put on his on clothes, tie his own sandals, grab his coat and follow. The angel never offered to do any of these tasks.

Maybe the reason our prayers are not answered is that we are waiting for God to do what He knows, and we know that we can do for ourselves.  Need a job; waiting for God to call, what is wrong with your finger? Sick; waiting for a healing, maybe a visit to the doctor is in order? Short on income, and long on expenses; maybe a second job, striking out some of the wants and getting by on the needs is in order? Check out your prayer list, check on your to do list, then fall before our maker in complete surrender.

Remember God in His word has called upon us to do our best, give our all and He will give more than the rest. (Acts 12:5)

Published in: on July 23, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

A Pillow For Jesus

Come and lay your head in my lap, come and rest awhile with me. I will be so much the stronger to know that you found me worthy of just holding your head for even a moment.

I visited in their home when I was stationed in San Diego. They were one of the few older couples in our church at BalboaPark and always invited the sailors to go home with them for lunch on Sunday.

The house was small and humble but neat and well appointed a welcomed break from the sterile environment of the Navy quarters. I noticed this beautiful, but well worn pillow on a table in the hall and asked the lady what was the special meaning that had to be attached to a pillow in such a place of honor. She explained that the first time she hear the scripture that Jesus had no place to lay his head that she went home and cried all night.  Her mother being full of wisdom got her this pillow and told her to put it in the bed and each night as she prayed for her to close her prayer by inviting Jesus to lay his head on the beautiful pillow. She said she knew as she grew older that it was a bit crazy but I always wanted Him to know He had a place in my heart.

WOW, what a heart.

Ivan

 

Published in: on July 22, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)  

America – You Have Me Worried

I Worry – A Lot

Now I know what you are thinking; I thought you were a minister, preacher, and pastor of a church, how can you worry? Well let me tell you how; just wake-up, that is all it will take, maybe turn on the news just to get the weather and hear all that is taking place around you; worried yet? Hey I went to the doctor on Wednesday, he was busy so I had some time to kill; he has these great medical books, wow, I found four new diseases that I have that I did not even know about, cures, medicine, all sorts of things in that office; you are going to worry.

I start worrying on Sunday night about what I am going to preach on Wednesday night and the next Sunday; I love to get ahead. I know I hear you; as a preacher how can you worry about your sermons? Easy, just think I am going to say here is what God wants me to share with you; is that not a proper subject to worry about? I really have to listen close, pray, study, think and yes worry a bit, I really do need to get that one right. Then there is my age; just think I am going to die sooner than most of you, what if no one comes to the funeral, what if people say; glad that is over?  Don’t get ahead of me, I do not worry about where I am going, that is not the problem; it is the getting there, now don’t you worry just a bit? Of course this could go on for a long time; was I a good person, good husband, father, friend, pastor, yep we could be here for a long time. Just think about the people who have no hope for the future, the list is for all eternity.

But that which troubles me the most, grinds at my heart, places shadows over the future is my concern for my nation. I love America but it breaks my heart and brings worry to my soul what we are doing to the greatest nation in all of history.  God has placed us in this wonderful land and we have so misused it, abused it, and allowed freedom to mean anything to all that is wrong and nothing to all that God holds dear. We act like we hate anyone and everyone who dares to hold a different view; we know better, views we can oppose, dislike but people; people should be treasured, loved, and given the hope in God that we have found.

Ivan

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

The Preferred Car Wash

While waiting to pick up my daughter several years ago in Jackson, I decided to get my car washed.  I knew that the Amoco station down the street had a car wash and so I pulled in, filled up with gas and went in to get a token for the car wash. The clerk told me that they no longer used tokens but gave me a code, so I wrote it in the palm of my hand pulled around to the wash to discover that a large gold Lincoln town car was in the wash. By the large cross on his back bumper I knew he had to be a preacher; I even thought he must be rather good at it to drive the town car compared to my GrandAm. I also realized that the washer was not working; He opened the door and hollowed something back at me which I took to mean for me to hit the start button. Maybe he had put the code in but forgot to hit start and just pulled into the wash. I lowered my window and just as I reached for the start button I saw him standing beside his car and his eyes got real big, I had hit the button, water came on from everywhere the arm that controlled the roller brush caught his car door and opened it all the way as he and his thousand dollar suit jumped to get back in the car; then came the soap, more water, his arm reaching for the door, window still down; the had to be famous preacher, now soaked both with water and soap, I am slipping down in my car so that I did not have to watch, and then the moment turned too funny for me to remain as I thought of what he would tell the congregation when he got up to preach in his great suit, wet and shrinking, himself more polished than ever before due to the efficient roller and preferred car wash. I wanted to back out but he left in such a hurry, not sure the red light had gone off, that I decided the safest place for me was in the car wash. Be careful, those car washers can take all of your dignity.

Ivan

Published in: on July 18, 2013 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)