The Years Passed

It was time and he knew it, past time in fact, his wife had been dead for three years now and the house was more than he could take care of, beside since she left it had never felt or smelled the same. His daughters, all three of them, had worked at keeping the house, they had even hired a lady to come weekly and give it that real going over, but it was not the same now that Sara was gone no one could make it what it once had been. He looked at her picture, class of 1942, time had passed, everything, almost everything had changed. They married the Summer of 42, he went off to the Army and now some sixty three years later he was leaving again, but this time he would not come back, he was certain of that but it would all be ok. His daughters had rented him an apartment in one of those assisted living high rises and he would move he really did need to move. He put the picture on the bed, looked at the one of the two of them that day when they married, just children he thought, but the war and their on children had made them grow quickly into adults. He pulled his bible off of the table by the bed and placed it beside the two pictures; he just stared, felt the tears and then heard his daughter voice as she asked him what he wanted to take beside the few clothes they had already picked out. “How about my taking those two pictures, the bed, the chest that matches it and my bible”, he answered. “Sure dad”, she said, “we could get you a new bed if you like but we can move that one.”  “Took us two years to save the money for that bed and chest, Patton’s delivered it and we slept on it for more than 40 years, I have always been able to depend on it, not only would it hold your mom and I but it bound us to a faithfulness to one another. I never worried about her and she never had to worry about me, that was our bed, only ours. Of course the pictures keep my heart, and that book, that bible led both of us to Jesus and will take me someday to join her in glory, those will be enough to bring from the past for they will take me well into all the future.”

The years passed and he was right.

Ivan

Published in: on February 28, 2014 at 1:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lunch With Mark Lowery

Some time ago I had lunch with Mark Lowery, who is best know as a Christian comic and singer with Bill Gaither, but who is the author of the great Christian song, “Mary Did You Know?”

We had met for lunch about a number of things but since he had given me an autographed copy of both the words and CD of the song it opened the door for me to talk with him about that wonderful song.

I asked him to tell me the story of its creation. He said that he had listened to a Christmas message by his pastor and then read the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus. After that he said it was like angel voices just rushing the words to his heart and pen.

Just think this young unmarried girl was told by an angel that God had chosen her to be the earthly vessel to give His son human form.

Can you understand even in the smallest amount the trouble this must have caused her heart? What would the man she was pledged to marry say? Think about the gossip that would fill the marked place when she started to show that she was expecting a baby. Even in our modern world of anything goes most of us still believe that children should be born to a married couple. Yes the heart of Mary must have been filled with both the emotions of glory and the doubts of everyday life.

Mark and Buddy Greene, who co-authored the song, hit it right in the words to the song. I wonder how much she did understand. Jesus, her son, was God, wow, try sleeping with that thought.  This baby was to work wonders, perform miracles, cause a dead man to come out of the grave, blind men to see, crippled men to walk, and enemies to become friends.

Men would laugh at Him, scorn Him, and fall down and worship Him.  Not only would she hold him as a baby, bathe him as a child, feed him from her breast but she would also hold his still lifeless body as she watched him die for her sins.

It was hard to contain myself as I listened to Mark and saw his face glow as he shared his story of the song.  I never see him now on television without remembering that this man who can be so funny also penned the words to, “Mary Did You Know?”

Ivan

Published in: on February 27, 2014 at 12:05 am  Comments (2)  

Make It Tasty

Have you ever wondered what our world would be like if the whole of the Christian community took the command of Christ to be Salt and Light? Maybe it really wasn’t a command rather it was a description, it was what He said our picture would look like when we became His. Not a command but an expectation, this is what you are like when you know Me.  You give taste and flavor to the world, you help to heal the world and you bring great value to the world. Salt was very special to the people of the early church, it was valuable and necessary for they used it not only to give flavor but to preserve and heal. Have you ever wondered how it lost its flavor; when it became so mixed up with other things, like sand, dirt and est? It became worthless.  Remember that!

Of course light dispels darkness gives direction and guidance to a world that lives in darkness. I wonder what kind of world this would be if all of us who know Him as Lord showed Him to the world through our being salt and light.

Ivan

Published in: on February 26, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

He Noticed

Whatever you did for one the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me. Matthew 25:40

She had lived alone for a very long time. Her last relative had died more than 20 years earlier and few if any people even knew that she was alive. No one came to visit, the phone seldom rung, and her sofa had not been used for a number of years. Now she was sick and life was fleeing but there was no one who knew and no one who cared. Brittany, a twelve year old girl scout, knocked on her door and hearing a faint ‘come in’ opened the door and step into a dark stale entrance. She saw the small, frail woman sitting alone by the window of the living room.  She spoke softly and said, “Come in child, what can I do for you?” Brittany moved cautiously into the room and told her that she was selling Girl Scout Cookies. The lady nodded and asked her the price of a box, Brittany answered and watched as she opened the bag on the table beside her and took out the money. It seemed to take her a very long time.  They talked a minute and Brittany left. The next day she remember to old lady and went back to visit, this happened on a regular basis for the next several months and Ms Morton discovered a wonderful friend in the young girl. In time Brittany visited to discover the door ajar and Ms Morton on the floor deceased. When the state packed up her belongings they found a note where she had said that her greatest moments in life had been those spent with a twelve year old. The world never noticed the loving spirit of Brittany, but Ms Morton noticed and so did God.

Ivan

Published in: on February 25, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Today is Monday

Today is Monday

Yes today is Monday, I am glad, I like Mondays, and they say it will be Monday all day, man that is great, cause like I said I like Mondays. I use to not like Mondays, they were not good days I would rather just jump to Tuesday, but there is no path that gets you to Tuesday without going through Monday so ever Monday I would just have to endure. You see the reason I didn’t like Mondays is that I am a preacher and Sunday is a very special day, most of my life I have preached no less than twice on Sunday and for many years I preached three times on Sunday and taught Sunday School, great days those Sundays, I wish we had two morning services now, we don’t; really can’t fill one as we should but that is another subject.  Why did I not like Mondays? Well I never got any sleep on Sunday night, I would be awake all night worried about what I had said on Sunday, I would go over each word, I could even remember where I was standing and who I was looking at when I said most things. All night I would worry; now don’t preach to me I know that the bible says to ‘worry about no thing’, and I believe that, I just didn’t practice it on Sunday night. I would get up Monday get the morning newspaper and look for a job, really every Monday it was job searching, I even found a couple but when it came time to take the job and leave the church I would say, no, I will give it a couple of more Sundays. Maybe I would improve, maybe I would feel different but then it was back to the sleepless Sunday nights and hating Monday.  Well what happened, I now love Monday so what changed I am still doing the same thing; I got older.  Yep I did, really older and you no how long it has been since I have seen a job for a man my age, wow, years, so I just don’t look anymore. You never see and add that says, ‘Must be over seventy to apply’, never, why not even a church would want a man my age so the hunt is over and now I love Mondays. I love my church, love the people, love the town and we don’t have a Monday morning paper in Byrdstown, so no where to hunt, no reason to hunt cause I love Mondays.  Ivan

Published in: on February 24, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Do It Now

In Memory of Jim Allen, a friend from another time.

They take good care of him. They keep him clean, make sure that he receives his medication, and eats as much of his meals as he can. He sleeps a lot, sits in a wheel chair, head bowed, eyes sometimes opened, sometimes closed.

No one is sure what travels through his mind, how much he knows and how much he understands of what he hears. Sometimes he smiles and his eyes almost reach out and touch you but most of the time they just focus on something far away.

It could be that they focus on what no one in the care center knows about. Life in Brazil, touching others for Christ, telling the old, old story of the love and care of Jesus to those who would have never known.  Maybe they focus on the ‘Rain Forest’ of Belize, the Mayan Indians, or those in refuge camps who once heard his voice, responded to his Father’s Message and saw in Christ their hope of eternity? Maybe it was some of the boys from the school where he taught beside the BelmopanRiver. They learned to read, add and subtract a bit, know about their history, and the love which the Heavenly Father has for them.

Are could it be the dirty villages of Mexico, the tent meetings, showings of the Jesus Film, and the bright eyes of the teens coming to know the Lord?

His thoughts might even be of someone like you who sent him a letter, said a prayer, gave a gift, and now like so many others have vanished somewhere into the far away memory.

Here is a servant of the Lord, one of God’s children, with a life time of service and those who see him do not know.  They cannot say thank you for the full life, thank you for the voice that once shared the good news; for they do not know. Daily they make their rounds and daily they provide the care, fulfill their responsibility but like men and women drawn as stick figures they just move in front of his eyes and pass before the chair to which he is tied.  You can’t blame them; they have no way of knowing the journey that brought him to this place of wheel chairs, moaning voices, and faces unmarked by emotion.

His feet blackened with poor blood flow that walked hundreds of miles to touch the lives of others tell nothing of those ventures.  They just require constant care and bring about sleepless nights where rest never really comes even though the eyes are closed and all would say he is sleeping, it is not sleep, not real sleep, just moments of darkness waiting for the hope that is to come.

He is not alone for many others like him have outlived their health. In the modern world of medicine their bodies continue with the required beats but they no longer make them respond to commands, no longer force them to stand, and no longer are moved by them to places and moments of joy.

All of us weep when we see him. Our hearts are touched and our desire is to run, to run as fast as we can back to the world that moves, feels, responds, and brings us too many thoughts to be moved any more by this sadness. If it were not possible for us to remove these thoughts even for brief moments we would be consumed in the tears and torn by the sadness.  We must run, our well being demands it of us.

Maybe the lesson for us is to send the note while eyes can read and ears can hear? We must give the flowers while noses can smell and beauty can be beheld.  Our hugs, our tears, our thank you and our voice of well done must not be withheld, must not wait for the proper moment, we must give it now, now before the world of stick figured people begin to proved the care and the unmeaning noises fill their ears.

Moments are too precious, opportunities too fleeting, and time to unreliable for us to wait another day. Do it now! Let the air be filled with the sounds of your gratitude, let the world of sight be full of your smiles and thank you and let those whom you love feel and see and know of your deep appreciation and high esteem. Do it now!

Ivan

 

Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Don’t Steal The Wind

With The Wind in The Sail

A number of years ago I use to do some sailing, it was an activity which while I was not good at it I still enjoyed. When the wind was right and I was doing what I should as the skipper it was a beautiful, relaxing, quiet experience. But sometime, maybe because of the change of the wind but most often because of my skill I would loose the wind, suddenly the sail would collapse and the boat would seem to stall, it would always take me a few minutes to recover, to find the wind and fill the sails and feel the forward motion of the boat, again it would be beautiful and relaxing. But loosing the wind was never fun; I know some people, maybe you have met someone like them, who can remove the wind from anything, just take all the beauty, all the joy, all the excitement out of a moment. It was not always what they said; sometimes it was the way, the tone, just something that flowed out of them that stole the wind, caused the sails to flap and the forward direction to stop. In time you come to just not share the joy of your ‘sailing’ with them for the flapping sails are never a joy.

What kind of person are you, one who turns the rudder just right and keeps the sail filled with the wind or one who steals the wind?

Ivan

Published in: on February 20, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Coat Hanger

The judge called and asked if there was any way that the children’s home could find room that day for a family of three girls and two boys.  He explained that the father had been killed a couple of years earlier and the mother was on trial that day for her third DUI and she was going to have to go to jail.  If he placed them in state custody they could not assure him that the family could be kept together and he strongly believed that in this case it was important to all of them to remain in contact. I assured him that we would make it happen and went with one of our social workers to the office of a pastor where he had arranged for the children to be kept on a temporary basis.

As the social worker interview each child I tried to keep the others entertained and to assure them as terrible as all of this seemed I believe that they would discover that it was not going to be as bad as their fears. I asked if they had any question they wanted to ask me and the smallest boy wanted to know if we had any coat hangers. Now I expected to be asked about TV’s, computers, ball equipment and a hundred other things but never a coat hanger. So I said, “I am not sure I understood you, can you ask that again?” Once again he asked if we had any coat hangers. I asked him why a coat hanger was important and he said, “I have always wanted a coat hanger. When I go to my friend’s house his mother takes my coat and puts it on a coat hanger and then hangs it in a special place.  At my house we just throw our coats in the floor and sometimes I use mine for cover, so I would like my own coat hanger.  I smiled, hugged him and said, “Son you have died and gone to coat hanger heaven for we have hundreds of coat hanger and I will be sure that you have several of your own as well as a closet to hang them in.” He smiled, rubbed back the tears and hugged my neck. Most of us have such long list of our wants and here was a small boy being taken from his home and all he asked for was a coat hanger.

Published in: on February 19, 2014 at 12:05 am  Comments (3)  

Are You God’s Wife?

(This is a story I have told for a long time and have no knowledge where it came from.  Maybe mother told it to me,)

It was a very cold day in New York City and the little boy stood without shoes on the grate in the side walk that released the steam from the building. The nice lady who came by stopped and asked him where his shoes were and he told her his daddy had been sick and unable to work but as soon as he got well he was going to get him a pair. She took him by the arm and led him to the shoe department in the large department store by which they stood. She told the clerk to get him a couple of pair of warm socks, and a nice pair of shoes with some growing room.  The clerk fixed him up and he jumped up and down, and then went running out the door of the store. She smiled and thought to herself that maybe a thank you was too much for a small boy. But before she had paid for the shoes he came charging back into the store and said, “They run really good, thank you, thank you.” Then looking into her eyes he said, “Are you God’s wife?” She turned to the clerk to get her receipt so that the boy would not see her tears and said, “No son, I am just one of His children.” He hugged her leg and said, “I knew that you were kin to Him.”

Our world really needs a lot more of God’s children to behave like kin.

Ivan

Published in: on February 18, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Going Home

He threw back the covers and put his feet on the floor, morning had come and it was time for him to start the day. He looked at the picture on the table beside his bed and remembered how young he was so long ago when it had been taken. He had just graduated from Annapolis and received his commission as an Ensign in the Navy.  Like a number in his class they had been married the first week after graduation. Now more than sixty years later he remembered that day like yesterday.  He touched the side of the bed where she had spent more than fifty years as his wife. She was gone, two years now and life seemed so lonely. He struggled to the +bathroom, saw himself in the mirror and wondered who that old man could be. It took him more than an hour to get ready, when he was the Captain of his sub he could do it in five minutes but the years had taken their toll and now it was a real effort. He looked in the closet and noticed the uniform that he had not worn in twenty years. He put it on, it was too large, but the four gold stripes still glowed as bright as they had when he first became a four striper, Captain in the Navy.

He walked to the small park near his high-rise, purchased a pack of peanuts, found a seat on a bench and started feeding the squirrels.

The young boy broke from his mother and ran over to the bench and jumped up beside him. The mother started to call her son away, but he said it was ok.  The boy asked him if he was a solider, he smiled, and said that he was like a solider but he was in the Navy. The boy asked if he had been on the great big boats and how it was. He told him that he had been on large boats but most of the time he was on a sub, a boat that went under the water.  “Wow!” the boy said, “That had to be great down under the ocean. How did all the fish look when you were down so deep?” he asked.  He laughed and said “Well we couldn’t see the fish because we didn’t have any windows in our subs.” “No window the boy said, “How did you get home it you couldn’t see out?” The old man smiled and explained to the boy that they had an instrument that they would tell that they wanted to go home and it would set the course for them and following it would get them home. The boy listed carefully and said, “You had God on your boat cause mommy told me that even if I couldn’t see God if I would follow Him he would always lead me just right.” The Captain said, “I think your mother is right son, yes we had God, and when you follow Him He will always lead you home.” The small boy jumped down and ran to tell his mother about the solider that had God on his boat. On his way home the Captain smiled as he remember the time with the boy and how right he was that God, even when you couldn’t see Him would always lead you home. That night the old Captain received new orders, ‘Time to go home.’ And true to His word God led him to his new home port even the one he could not see.

Ivan

Published in: on February 17, 2014 at 12:05 am  Comments (1)