Homecoming

Carole and I spent the weekend at First Baptist Church in Lobeville, Tennessee celebrating their homecoming; what a joy to see old friends after some 17 years, and to meet many new friends, it was a delight and joy in Christ.

You know that all of us are headed for a homecoming; not just some but all. A recent survey of adults over the age of 60 who were terminally ill asked one simple question of each person; “If you could do anything you wanted to do, what would it be?” I was surprised to see that instead of getting well, beating this old cancer, living just a bit longer, the most popular answer was “I would like to go home for just one more visit.” For some that was the home at 246 South Lindsey Street, like I grew up in, others it was grandmother’s house, for there they were safe, loved and hugged, others their first home, apartment even a college room, but for all it was to go home.

Remember the two men that Jesus told about in Luke 16, they were both going to a homecoming, maybe they did not know it but they were. The word of God says that one went to Heaven, in the very presence of Abraham and the other to Hell, and it also said that neither of them could come to the other, they would never change places, they would never change their homecoming.

All of us are on a journey to a homecoming, dressed in the robe of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins we are going to the homecoming in Heaven, without that faith in Jesus the only other choice is Hell, don’t believe that, what if the bible is right, do you really want to run the risk, if you purchase a lottery ticket and lose, no big deal, but this ticket, is for all of eternity, make sure you have the correct ticket.

Ivan

Advertisements
Published in: on March 31, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Seeing Love on College Street

My brother-in-law Ralph and I stood at the kitchen sink in their home on College Street, I still remember that the weather was very warm and Ralph had been out in the back yard working as I watched, called myself helping by getting in the way and asking a thousand questions: if you said anything about Ralph you would have to say that he was a hard worker. Even when he was not busy with his hands he was busy planning, making plans, and later in life calling people. He was always busy. It had fallen upon his shoulders to take care of his mother after the death of his father, even though he was far too young to be burden with that task, he accepted it and did an outstanding job. On this day that I remember he had been doing a lot of ‘chores’ for her as well as caring for the yard. He was hot and sweaty in the summer heat and as we entered the house he took his shirt off and walked to the sink to wash his hands and get us both a glass of water. As he stood with his back toward me I noticed several scars on his back. As boys do I asked him what they were and he said, “Scars.” I asked him how he got them and his simple reply was, “In the war.” Then I asked him why, thinking that maybe he would tell me the story about them but instead his answer was, “For her”, pointing in the room where my sister, his wife Peggy, was ironing. I still remember him turning around and putting his hand on my head as he said “And for you.” Ralph told a number of great stories about those days in Europe but this is the statement that made the total sum of his feelings and the thousands of other young men who went to war for their families and returned to be called the ‘greatest generation.” Thanks Ralph, and thanks to all the others and to those who today serve around our world, for wives, inquiring boys, families, and the others to whom they give liberty and freedom. We call it freedom, but it is not free. Those men and others paid a great price for the America we should be. Ivan

Published in: on March 28, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Shot Not Heard

One night while their parents were out my next door neighbors, two boys, one a few years older and the other my age were playing with their father’s shot gun. They got it loaded and cocked but deciding that they should not be playing with a loaded gun so they decided to unload it and in doing so it went off. The shot was heard all over Lindsey Street but no one made and inquired into what had happened. Scared half out of their minds the boys looked down at the floor and there to their horror was a nice size hold in the rug and the floor.

Now panic set in, first what might have happened if they had been pointing the gun at themselves or another person and then what to do about the hole in the floor; the parents would be coming home soon and there would be sure fire trouble if they saw the hole in both the rug and floor of their bedroom.

Then one of them came up with the brilliant idea to simple turning the rug until the hole in the rug was under the bed and not visible. With some hard work and a good amount of luck they managed to move the rug around until the hole in it could not be seen and neither could the hole in the floor. Relief filled them both as they heard their parents pulling into the drive way, they were safe, all was well.

Thus the night went well as did the next several weeks until their mother decided to move the bed just a bit and as she did so unknown to her was the fact that she had placed one of the legs of the bed over the hole in the floor. Of course the rug held the bed for the moment and no secret was revealed. Then night came and with night bed time and just as the two of them climbed into bed the world fell apart, down went the leg of the bed spilling both of them onto the floor. Well you can probably guess the rest of the story and the long night that all in the family had that evening. While no one could remember the night of the shot, everyone remember the night of the bed post in the floor on Lindsey Street.

Ivan

Published in: on March 27, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

What My Mother Told Me

If mom told me once she told me a dozen time about a night when she was in high school; Mom lived with her grandparents in Curve, Tennessee, her parents had both died before she was three, therefore the need to live with the Clays, her grandparents. Since there was no high school in Curve they rented a room for her in Halls in the home of some friends so that she would be able to attend high school. That night she said that her grandmother came into her room and sitting on the edge of her bed woke her up, hugged her and told her that she had to leave but that she, my mother, would be ok. She said her grandmother kissed her, hugged her and then left. The next thing she knew she heard someone knocking on the door to the house and asking the family if my mother was there, they called for her to come into the room and then told her that her grandmother had died and they had come to take her home.

Skip forward to June 1987 when Dad told me late one night that mother had come to see him and that she had told him that Jesus was coming for him; Mom had been dead ten years and five weeks. The next morning my sister Alice called and told me that dad had gone to glory. We do have a wonderful God. Now I understand that most of you will say that both of these were dreams, who cares, they did what God wanted them to do, the brought comfort of my mom the night her grandmother died and to my Dad the day before he left for his wonderful homecoming. As for me I believe they both saw what they saw. Ivan

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

Living for the Moment

He had always lived for the moment; it was that way when he was in school all of his work was done on the day it was required, never his best but he had the rare ability to understand and to hurry through so the morning something was due he would finish it, ready or not he turned it in and most of the time landed just below the top flight of his class, not bad, no work, no sweat but always a decent grade. As an adult he had chosen a career which paid him by the task so most of the time he had made all the money he wanted by Wednesday and was ready to ‘play’ the rest of the week.

He had a lot of tag along friends but no real relationships, most of them were busy with a family, job, and plans for the future, not Warren, he made it today, gather enough to buy the toys he wanted and then spent his time being the center of attraction with the ‘girls’ and all of his other toys.

Now in his late fifties nothing much had changed, the friends his age for the most part had long gone with their families and jobs, his fans had changed to young ‘friends’ who changed from man with the money to man with the money, no one stayed long, he told himself that he didn’t care, he liked it this way, no connections, no problems, just enjoy, each day each flyaway trip, and each new ‘friend’.

He guessed he had passed a million church signs in his life time but he had never paid them any attention, seldom even noticed them but today he saw the words, “Visitors Always Welcomed” he pulled his red topless sports car into the parking lot near the sign which read, office and opened the door to church for the first time he could ever remember.

The lovely young secretary met him in the hallway and invited him back to the office, he asked her if the sign was true, the part about visitors welcomed, she assured him it was so offered him a seat and took her own place behind her desk, he flirted a bit, but it didn’t seem to take, he asked if there was anyone he could talk with, she explained that the pastor was at the hospital with a member not expected to live through the day, but she knew he would be in the next day and would make time to see him. He never answered but said that he was coming from the doctor where he had been told he had only a few weeks to live, the secretary’s eyes filled with tears, she opened the bible on her desk and read him some passage he felt he had heard somewhere in his past, she told him that she hoped he was at peace with God and asked for his name and number so that the pastor could give him a call as soon as he got back. He declined, said he might give it a try another day and left; with her following him out and asking for a number where he could be reached; he declined, pointed to his car and asked if she would like a ride, she declined and he pulled out of the church yard as she wrote down his tag number –‘Join Me’.

No one ever knew if Warren’s car blew a tire and caused him to crash through the bridge to the water thirty feet below or if he turned his car into the railing, but it didn’t matter, after all he ‘lived for the day’.

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

The Plan

Blog for Monday March 24, 2014

Thanks to all who noticed that I had not posted a story or devotion in a number of days. My wife broke her foot and I have been under the weather so I just took a few days to step back and take a look at this part of my ministry.

I believe the Lord wants me to publish the devotions daily and will give me stories as He desires; therefore I may not post a new story each day, but there are some 800 stories and all you have to do is scroll down or use the dates and months, who knows you might hit one you have not read or maybe one that is special to you.

Today I want to invite you to join with me in asking our Heavenly Father to reveal the missing plane to our worlds, the hurting people of the missing 239 need an answer and I am asking you to join with me in seeking the help of our Lord as the search continues. He knows each person on the flight and He is aware of where they are, Lord give to those in the search the answer, make it so real that they will understand that it comes from you.

Ivan

Published in: on March 23, 2014 at 9:34 pm  Comments (2)  

Eight Hundred Stories

 

Today Marks my 800th post on this system. The stories come out of my life, my journeys, and my memory. I have a number of military stories that come from me and others, a few fictions, and a couple of just funny stories. Since 2012 they have been opened 65,233 times by people in 72 countries. I have been sending devotions for almost 18 years so that is more than 44,000 devotions. Thank you for taking the time to read some of them. The story today is a true story about my father and a boy named James. I love this story; I hope it will bless you again.

 Thank You

 Dad was lying on his side facing toward the window of the hospital room away from the door when James entered the room. My father had not seen James in several years yet when James said, “Mr. Ivan how are you doing?”  Without turning to look toward him dad said, “James what are you doing here, shouldn’t you be at work?  James said, “Now Mr. Raley you know I work for the city now.  Why you got me this job down there taking care of that big old cemetery, besides that, it’s Saturday and we city boys don’t work on no Saturday.”

Dad laughed in his own almost silent way, more to be heard by looking at his eyes than listing to his voice. “That’s right”. He said, “You got one of those easy city jobs.” “Now Mr. Ivan ant nothing easy bout keeping all those graves clean and all those flowers picked up and put away.  Naw, nothing easy like when you use to let me come to work and then when I gots caught up you would let me catch some of those big blue gills out of the creek down there back of the compress.” James was quick to respond.

He continued, “They told me you done about to die Mr. Ivan and I had to come up here and tell you something before it gets too late.” “Why James,” Dad said, “You don’t need to tell me anything.  You were always a good friend and a hard worker and we are all caught up on our talking. But I will say it is good of you to come and tell me bye.”

“No sir Mr. Raley, it ant just to tell you good bye but I be needing to thank you for all you done for me. Now don’t you say nothing until I get finished cause I just might forget and cry? Mr. Ivan if it hadn’t been for you I would never had known how to work, why I wouldn’t even have a job.  Nobody going to hire a dumb boy like me. But you did, yes sir you did, and you tell me what to do and showed me how to do it a bunch of times until I get to know just how it be done.  Mr. Ivan I wouldn’t have that little old white house me and my wife lives in if you ant gone down there and told that banking man that I be good to pay for it. And my job at the cemetery, them city people ant going to hire me to take care of all them graves if you didn’t say I do it good.  Yes sir Mr. Ivan I has lots to say, but it mostly be just two words, Thank You.”

Dad turned over on his back, put his frail hand up and James reached over and grabbed it and then wrapped himself over my dad bed and all.

“I sure sorry you going to die Mr. Raley, but I sure glad the good Lord going to take you to a better place and maybe you can tell my daddy hello for me cause he done been gone for a long time and mommy too.  You was good to them Mr. Ivan and they be glad to see you and hug you good.”

My father’s eyes sparkled as they did when his soul was merry and he spoke softly, “James, thank you for coming by and you be sure and tell your wife hello for me and James, always do your best because I will be watching you.”

“Yes sir, Mr. Ivan, I be doing my best now for both of us.”

With that James turned and left the room.  I am not sure he ever noticed that I was in the chair in the corner of the room. Dad closed his eyes and a few tears ran slowly down his face. He smiled again with his eyes, looked at me and grinned, and then he turned back to the window.

Dad left that room the next Tuesday and took his place in a new world. Lots of people came to see him in those last days but I think James might have upped them all.

Ivan

Published in: on March 12, 2014 at 12:05 am  Comments (5)  

Can We Trust God?

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.  John 14:1

In a world filled with so many fears and so many questions we really need only one answer. Trust in God.

With all that is facing our country, our future, and yes even the future of the world we find ourselves choosing sides, breaking up into camps, and making sure that we listen to only that which we feel so strongly about.

I can imagine how God must feel when He has assured us that He is in control and that He will see us through. But He discovers us so covered in fear that it makes us unkind, hateful, and so unattractive to the lost world. Stand still for a moment and consider; is God in control?  If so, can we trust Him?  If the answer to these questions is yes then we must put our faith to work and trust Him. Now this is not easy, I watched the market take so much of my retirement fund that I found myself worried about my financial future. Now I believe that we need to show concern and make good and wise decisions but those are not made in fear and worry. I must display my hope in Him. We have watched our leadership struggle these past years to find a solution to our national debt. That discussion was not cloaked in mutual concern and friendship but in blame and division. No one was willing to say that the hole we have dug for ourselves is not of any one party and not of just recent events, we have all been digging that hole for a long time. I see this division even in our fellowship as Christians. How can this be? You don’t see our Lord demanding His way and casting fears into the lives of others. You see Him loving everyone, sure He has a plan of forgiveness that we must choose if we are to follow Him and spend eternity with Him, but He allows us to make that a free will choice. I understand that when we refuse Him and His will and His salvation that we face the judgment of those actions but it does not come to us with a demand, but rather a choice. We are not behaving like we have faith in God and know for certain that He is in charge and He is going to win. We must! If there is any hope for our world to be saved it must see the Hope in our lives, love in our lives, and assurance that He is in Charge. I am not surprise that the world does not like Christians, in truth it is going to get worst; but their dislike must be in them and not because of our actions. We live His truth, do His will and like Daniel we just might face the lions, but we will still win.

Ivan

Published in: on March 11, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Some Lessons I Have Learned

 

 

Look Up and Live John 3:14

14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but[ have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 Wake up and Repent:  Romans 13 -14

11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh

 Grow Up and Serve:  Hebrews 5:12

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

 Stand Up and Be Counted: Eph: 6:13

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

Published in: on March 10, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Joys of a Long Day

                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Friday was really a long day; driving more than 500 miles, is enough to make me feel like I am pass my going but in the long-ness of the day and the weary way in which it left my body, I am still refreshed and renewed for the trip took me more than miles it took me back home and back to other days and other times. Not only is the scenery of the area of Wayne county and those that join it beautiful but to be able to see so much that I have not seen in more than ten years was wonderful. The town now has a McDonalds and like the burger palace of the world the one in Waynesboro was filled both that morning when I stopped and again in the afternoon. The little town has grown; some empty building mark the town square but others are new, remolded, and seemed to be busy.

But it was not the scenes of the trees and town that filled my heart,  it was the people; I went to visit with Lawrence and his family, to share with them some of the sweet moments of time gone, how lovely it was to hug each of them again and to see and hear how beautiful the home going of Imogene had been was more than enough to make the long day one that counts; but then there were so many others, some I am sure it has been thirty years since I have seen, wow, how wonderful. No one had aged as much as I have but each was encircled by all of the beautiful years of serving our Lord, living in a small town, and caring for one another. It felt good to see some wonderful people of the past, I owe them so very much, and I shall die in debt, for God has given me far more than I have given to Him. Would I go again, sure, even tomorrow? God has been so wonderful to me, the joys of years now gone, the beauty of those now lived, God has been so very good to me; I am a blessed man.

Ivan

Published in: on March 7, 2014 at 9:24 pm  Leave a Comment