My Cup Runs Over

My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. Psalm 23:5-6

Don’t you love this writer?  Sun or rain, good or bad, he is going to be alright because of God’s goodness and mercy. David, our author, certainly tested the Lord a number of times in his life. God always filled David’s cup with more goodness and mercy than most ten men would need in a lifetime.

David looked to life with assurance, with love and certainty that it was God who charted his path. It was not his enemies, not circumstance, and not accidental; his life was formed before the eyes of God and his days were all counted and known by his Lord.

Even when David was living in sin, lying to himself, God, and anyone else who questioned his actions, he produces about himself and aroma of guilt, he knew that he was guilty and he knew that God knew every moment of his life. He must have also known that even when He was bad, God was still good and in spite of all his failures God still loved him. Sin extracted a great payment from his life but he was never forgotten by God.

How determined and sure are you that God has His hand on you? That God has a plan for your life. That God was there when you were formed and He will be there when the last enemy, death, will visit you. That belief will guide your life.

Ivan

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Published in: on September 30, 2013 at 11:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Do Over – Bucket List

Let’s see, I receive the news, you get a do over. What would I do? I should really think about that for a long time because one of my many faults is being too spontaneous.  Not thinking through and not taking time to make sure that the decision is the best one.  But here goes just off the top of my head.

One thing I would like to do is to start a church from scratch in a large city.  Maybe rent a movie theater, seldom use on Sunday morning, and just start a church. That has always been a dream but I never did one thing to go toward that dream.

I would also love to travel more, see more of the world, meet more people and try to make a difference in more lives.

With a do over I might stay in the Navy for twenty years, live on the top floor of a hotel, and take more trips to Israel.

I would be a better father, spent more time with my family and taken more family vacations. I would make sure that we shared meals together a lot around the table as a family.

I would be a better husband, heaven knows, there is a lot of room for improvement there. I would be a better pastor, preach better, serve better; just do it better the second time around.

I would go fishing more, now that would not change anything but I wish I had done more fishing, walked in the surf and cast out into the moving tide. I enjoyed that and wish I had done it more published my devotions and of course the list goes on. Now that I am growing old it is not so much a do over as it is a ‘bucket list’. Before I cannot, what do I want to do for certain? But at last I wake up, the dream is over and morning has come. There will never be a do over so I must do my very best now. Do it your very best the first time for there is no second. I promise you the first time goes really fast.

Ivan

 

Published in: on September 30, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

This and That September 2013

Just a few notes on a number of issues; My Health, better… thanks for your prayers, BP is staying within a good range, my 2005 Explorer now has a new home and I am driving a Rogue, can’t work all the buttons yet, but I will get my five year old grandson to show me how the first time I see him, daughter Sandra has a birthday today, Saturday 28th., she will be, yep, that is right, Grandson JR got to play in Vanderbilt Stadium on Thursday, their team, CPA played there No 1 Nimes, Milam the team which had beaten them the last two years in the Semi-finals of the State. CPA won Thursday 27 to 7, JR made a field goal at Vanderbilt… he should remember that, three extra points, not bad, he loves the game; Carole had an outdoor party for a number of the folks she works for at our home in Nashville Thursday night, she did it right, it was a delight and went really well except I talked too much.  I really do that, even when I try it just pops out, but that is on my bucket list, I am going to slow down in my talking, maybe counting to 100  between each time that I speak might work, but then I would be so busy counting I would not know what was being said, the scripture says; “So then my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;” James 1:19 So you should Tune in, Tone Down, and Sweeten Up, I am going to do that.

I start a revival this Sunday at the Indian Creek Baptist Church in Smithville, 967 Hurricane Ridge Rd, I was told to turn North by the Shell station and it would be about a mile from there. You are very welcomed to attend if you are in the area, Sunday I believe the service is at 10:30 am and 6:00 pm, Monday – Wednesday I think but I am not certain that they begin at 7:00.

Thanks for reading the post and sharing them with others, you are wonderful. Folks in 71 countries have read them, now that is hard to believe, but they tell me it is true…. Have a great one, go to church Sunday, you are needed, and you need them.

Ivan

Published in: on September 27, 2013 at 9:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Breakfast Long Ago

The morning light was beginning to break through the sides of the truck partly covered with canvas. It had been our cabin for the night of camping on the Tennessee River. I looked out of the rear flap that had been folded back to let in the morning sun and smelled the aroma  of bacon being cooked, coffee perking, and smoke from the fires of each moving across our campground. I saw my dad bending over the fire tending to the bacon and looking now and then across the still fog covered river. I was about nine when this warm and wonderful memory was carved into my soul. It had been a wonderful weekend with dad and some of his friends and their sons and now we would share a campfire breakfast together.  I could see some of the fish caught the night before prepared for the fire and a couple of the other fathers gathering to stretch, get a cup of coffee, and maybe cast a line for an early morning bite by the fish of their dreams. My father was cooking, I was delighted. It would become one of my best mornings.

So it must have been on the sea when the fishermen heard the call of Christ to cast on the other side and then to bring some of their catch and have breakfast with Him. Those had been difficult days, Jesus had died on a cross like some kind of criminal, people had mocked Him, guards had beaten Him, all of the men in the boat had deserted Him, with the exception of one, and Peter, the leader, the great mountain of a man, had cursed and denied Him. Bad days, really bad days but now they heard the voice of the risen Christ who had arrived early, prepared breakfast for his friends and now waited for them to join Him. What a moment! What a morning!  Try breakfast with Jesus and do it soon.

Ivan

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

I Am Confused

A visit to the doctor:

As most of you know I have been a bit under the weather health wise the last several weeks. It started with my blood pressure being near the 200 mark and sometimes even over that with the bottom being over 100. So it was off to the doctor, now what I need and what I hate the most always clash when I go to the doctor with some kind of problem. Within minutes of my arrival I find myself on the examining table, oxygen being pumped in, hooked up to a blood pressure machine, blood being taking out in small test tubes, pills to bring my pressure down being placed under my tongue and me, well I am allowed to make no decision, just stretch out, listen to the machine, and the voices of the doctor and nurses. They talk in number, doses, and bring in a lie detector, I think it is called something else but they put these little wires all over me and this machine records on a very small piece of paper all of these lines; when I ask how it looks the answer is always the same, like a bunch of lines on a piece of paper.

The doctor comes in, takes my blood pressure, checks everything one more time and asks me what I am worried about, upset about or troubled over. I can’t think of anything except the last hour of all of the treatment. He decides to let me go home, try a different medicine for a few days and come back each morning for the nurse to check my pressure. Also he told me to stop taking my own blood pressure for a couple of days, he is really smart he knows if I check it and it is high, I decide that taking more medicine and taking my pressure ever fifteen minutes will improve the reading. It never has and it never will it always increases when I check it more often. Part of my brain problem.

So last week they decided to take an MRI of my head, the headaches had been really bad so they were seeing if there was a problem up there.

Now the MRI is a real trip, get rid of all medal on your body, put stoppers in your ears, get locked in so that your head cannot move and then with the blast of air hammers they put you through a tunnel; it takes that table 22 minutes to travel two feet, even I can walk faster than that. I tried to think of something not so noisy, didn’t work, so I decided the noise was my church cheering for me while I was preaching, dumb, just dumb.

A couple of days later when I went to see the doctor he said that the MRI of my brain was negative; does that mean I don’t have a brain, no it means that the test was negative, that is good; so it is good not to have a brain, no it is good to have a test when the score comes out negative, so I guess Tennessee should feel good about their negative scores these last two Saturdays. I don’t think that works, not in football, but wow, I am negative.

Praise God my blood pressure in not negative but neither is it high, so somewhere in the middle and I am good for another 3000 miles, thank God for my medical team who know about such things when I know nothing, but then I would not be expected to know, I have a negative brain scan.

Ivan

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

Only Believe

Be not afraid; only believe.  Mark 5:36

I don’t think I have ever seen our nation is such a spirit of fear as they are today. Even when I was a child listing to the news of ‘the war’ I cannot remember us being this afraid.

Jairus, the synagogue ruler, came to Jesus to seek healing for his daughter. You can imagine the fear of a father as he sought help for his sick daughter. Before Jesus could get to her they came and told the father that his daughter was dead and there was no need to bother Jesus.  Jesus turned to him and said, “Be not afraid; only believe.”

They laughed at Jesus as he enter her house but He went to her bed took her hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you, get up.” She did! Someday when time is old and tomorrow is not to be I will leave this body and those who love me will say their words and bury my frame.  Then at the appointed time Jesus will call my name and tell me to get up and I will. Sure I am afraid. I have never gone there before, but I will go and I will go with my belief in Jesus.

Ivan

 

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

Faithful To The End

Everyone in our small town knew her. She was an icon of hard work and deep involvement in all that was good in our community. She labored endless hours in our church. She was always teaching, cooking, visiting, singing, and involving herself and her talents in all that we did. Her hard work and leadership had marked our community. Our Senior Citizens Center owed its existence to her hard work and tireless effort. She made it happen. When others believed it impossible, too hard, too difficult, she made it happen. We all knew her, admired her, and wished that we had more like her in our town.

We all watched with terror and tears as ALS, (Lou Gehrig disease) stole her mobility and involvement from us. We stood on the side of that hard wind and watched as it blew her proud walk and fast gate to a slow stumbling movement. Then the stumble required a cane and soon a walker, and in time a wheel chair. We stood in that cold wind of ALS and watched as the wheel chair gave way to the bed and she was no longer seen in the life of our town.

Somewhere in that time she wrote me a letter, it went something like this. “What I hate most about this ALS is that it has stopped my service to the Lord. Everything I did, I sought to do as “Unto, Him”. Now I am locked in this frame that will not work and cannot even attend the worship service. I hate this disease for it has robbed me of my service to the King.”

I went to see her the day after I read that letter. We talked of so many things. We spoke of budget battles with our Senior Citizens Center, and how difficult it was to get the ‘Meals on Wheels’ working. We talked of church and sermons; of Sunday school lessons and VBS sessions she had taught. Then I explained that I had come to remind her that she was still a great servant of the Lord. I told her that while she was locked in that body which would not work; her mind was still good and I needed her prayers and it would be a joy for me to know that each time I stood before our people that she would be at home lifting me in prayer before our Heavenly Father.

I saw a new joy come over her as the sparkle of her eyes rediscovered how valuable her time that was left would be to me. She held my hand and promised that I would never get in the pulpit that she would not be praying for the congregation and me.

On one of my twice-weekly visits she told me in a broken voice that before long she would be unable to talk. The doctor had told her to expect it at most any moment but that her mind would not stop working and she would understand what was going on around her and would be aware in her heart of those who were helping her and caring for her needs. She looked me firmly in the eye and said, “Pastor, when this voice will not speak I want you to look deeply into my eyes and know that I am praying for you. As long as I have a thought I want you to know that your name will be lifted before our Lord. Look in my eyes pastor. You will be able to see that I know you are here and that I am keeping my promise.”

That dark destroying wind took her voice but as I stood over her bed I could see in her eyes that she knew I was there and that she was praying for me. As I would stand after kneeling beside her bed and praying for her I would look into her eyes and there in that bound body she was thanking me for coming by and she was praying for me.

The final storm surge came and she left that rigid body of no movement to a glorious body of eternal life. As I stood before our town and we shared in her life, most of them felt that she had stopped being, long before that day. When she was no longer seen and then when she could not even speak with those who dropped by, most felt that she had stopped. But I knew I knew that Mary Lou was faithful to the end. I had looked into her eyes and I knew; I truly knew that she had been faithful to the end.

Published in: on September 20, 2013 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Moments Count

I recently received an email from a young man reminding me of a moment in both of our lives. His story:

Bill and a friend had left the home they were assigned to on the campus of our children’s home just after midnight.  They got into our office through a door they had ‘fixed’ so it could not be locked, found the keys to a car parked on the campus and took off south on interstate 65. When they got to exit 32 they got off at an all night service station to take a break and get something to drink. Not being experienced drivers as they were leaving they miss-turned the car and ran into the station’s tall sign post, causing no damage to the post but releasing the air bags in the car and thus making it un-drivable to them. Now, frightened they took off by foot toward Bill’s grandmother’s house.  They saw two bikes in a yard decided to steal the bikes and then made their way about five miles to Bill’s grandmothers home. There they made up some story about a game they were playing, ate breakfast about 4 in the morning and talked his grandmother into returning them to the campus.  They arrived in time to get back into the house and were there for breakfast call as if they had never left.

Later I was called and asked if we were the owner of a certain car that had been wrecked and left at exit 32 on interstate 65.  I assured them that we had such a car but I did not know it was missing. After some checking, going down to see the car, knowing it was ours and realizing that I was near Bill’s grandmother’s home I begin to put thing together and returned to the campus to talk with Bill. He was asleep on the floor of the family room when I got to his assigned home. The house parents had not noticed anything different except that Bill seemed very sleepily.

I woke Bill and took him outside to get the story.  After several attempts at explaining with one story after another, I checked his closet and found that most of his clothing was in a black trash bag. It was then that the truth started to come to the top. He told me who had been with him and I explained what was going to happen next I called the police but went with them to the juvenile court and asked that I be made their guardian for this matter and assured the judge that they would make all things right. I was granted the authority and over the next year those two boys and I became close friends. I watched them learn to work, to tell the truth even when it hurt and to take responsibility for their mistakes. It was a very good year and both boys went on to complete high school and are now doing well in jobs growing out of those first ‘required’ jobs that I found for them.

Bill’s email reminded me that it was the moment when I told him that I would go with him to see the judge, to visit and tell his grandmother, and to return and ask forgiveness for the stolen bikes, that his life begin to change. He said ‘Even when you knew the truth you were willing to stand by me.’   Without that moment he said he would no doubt now either be in jail or on the wanted list instead of building a life.

I remind all of us as parents, grandparents, and adults that we need to capture those moments.  We must not allow our temper, our feelings, or our emotions to destroy that moment that might forever make a difference. Ask God to allow the moment to be seized by us and used for the good of all involved. After all –  Moments Count.

Ivan N. Raley If you are reading this outside of America I would love to know that just email me as below.

inraley@yahoo.com

Published in: on September 19, 2013 at 12:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

 Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

 All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

 Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Do you sometimes feel that we are like this, somewhere at the bottom of a great wall, scattered in a million pieces and nothing and no one can put us together again. I think the poet was correct, no House, no Senate, no Supreme Court, no President can put America together again. No amount of money, no great recovery, nothing is ever going to make us whole again. But I know someone who desires to sweep up all of our pieces, breath forgiveness into them and make us, strong, correct, and His once again. The King’s men and the King’s horses can’t do it but I know someone who can: His Name is Jesus.  All we have to do is ask Him and follow Him.

Ivan

Published in: on September 18, 2013 at 12:10 am  Comments (1)  

Where Did America Go?

What happened to America? Our home, land of the free, home of the brave, the greatest generation, the working people, the happy people, glad to live here people, the people of dreams and a real belief that those dreams could come true.  Sure it would take hard work, long hours, dedication, commitment, but they could and often did come true. I remember standing on my front lawn at the age of four, it was a cold November day in 1941 looking at the first home my parents had purchased, and in fact it would be the only home they ever bought. You could see all the way under the house, it didn’t look like much but in time and the hard work of my father and family it became a lovely home, bricked, expanded, air-conditioned and we even dug a basement, large basement. That was a cold day of November but it became a warm place I called home, 246 South Lindsey Street, Jackson, TN.

We played in the street, moving over when the cars came by, we roamed the area on our feet and bikes, we walked to town, went to the ball games, no one worried about us and no one harmed us, it was wonderful. We order most of our groceries over the phone and my future brother-in-law brought them to us on his bike, I walked to the store on Lexington Street, sometime twice a day, I started when I was six or seven, no one gave it a second thought. We played out all day in the summer, took a bath, for fun in a large steel tub out back and slept the peace of those covered by the very hand of God.  Where did it go?

All of us listened and watched on Monday as the story of 13 people killed on a Navy base in our nation’s capital unfolded itself, one mad man, mad at what, no one knows, but he and twelve others are now dead. Each time I changed stations I hear a different reason, all just guessed, but everyone had one and no one, not one person mentioned the real reason. Look under the rocks, the empty shells, see it, look in the empty eyes, see it, if you do you will say what caused it all; Sin. That is where America went, we forgot the giver of our gifts and choose in the name of freedom; Sin. It will not leave us, it will not free us, it will not turn us loose, sin only destroys, it always destroys. Where did America go, you spell the answer – S I N.

Ivan

Published in: on September 17, 2013 at 12:32 am  Comments (1)