Following Map Quest

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6

I was to speak at a church outside of Halls Crossroads which is North East of Knoxville. I got the address of the church goggled it on Map Quest and followed the printed instructions to the letter. I ended my journey on a very narrow country road in front of a beautiful private home.  Not knowing what else to do I knocked on the door and soon learned that this was the home of the deacon who received the churche’s mail.  The church was seven miles away in another direction.

I think a lot of people are like that.  They have an address, they follow the directions people, pastors and even churches give them only to learn at the end of their journey that they had never had the ‘correct’ address. There was really nothing wrong with where they were going they simple were not going in the direction that God had designed for them.

Remember it takes more than an address, it takes His address for your life in order to get to the correct destination He has for your life.

Ivan

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Published in: on May 30, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

It Can Happen

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. First Corinthians 13:13

Sure would be wonderful to see all three of these pour over the walls of heaven into our lives today.

I listened one night in our Men’s meeting as one of the men led us in devotion from this passage. He was not a pastor, not a minister, not one of our teachers. He was an ordinary man with an extraordinary love for God and faith in His Word.

Like most of you he goes about life each day, earning a living, seeking to make ends meet, and doing his best with work and family.  His children are grown. Now it is only he and his wife at home. But like all of us he is concerned about our nation, our future, and his extended family.

As he shared these words I thought to myself; this is what we need, men just like this that believe God, love His Word, and want to have that word come into their lives and make a difference each day.

We can have an outpouring of Faith, Hope, and Love but it will not come out of the sky; it will come from each of us being so filled by this Hope, so certain in our Faith, and so in Love with God and others that it pours out of our lives into the lives of those around us.

God wants us to change our world not by a miracle from heaven but by a miracle from our lives touching others.

Ivan

Published in: on May 28, 2014 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Humble

Humble

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, because He cares about you. First Peter 5:6-7

In those early years our young nation had no other choice than to cast all our cares on God, but now; now there is our great power, wealth, and uh were did those things go?

If the last few years have taught us anything I hope they have taught us that we should never depend upon our strength, get so important that we loose our humility, and forget where we are from and what our debt to God is all about. Just remember we are not too large to fail. We are not so powerful that an idiot with explosions tied to him going off in a mall could keep us all home for months. When our nation was young we longed for the careful eye and presence of God. Remember when Gen. Washington had little to feed his army, nothing with which to pay them, no clothes to keep them warm in the cold of the winter and little hope of giving to them the joy of victory? He spent the night in prayer, could it be that we need to return to the God of our founding fathers to the God of our childhood, to once again give Him glory, and to humble ourselves before Him.

I love America, we are the greatest nation the world has ever known, but we are not so great that we have outgrown our need of God.

Ivan

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

Where To Now?

Where To Now

We had a wonderful service Sunday, we honored our military present and pass, and we presented the Colors of our Nation and paid our allegiance to our flag. I shared the story of Joshua out of his book in chapter four and we discovered the purpose and origin of memorials.   We talked about the great price our freedom has cost so very many, how our nation stood in such unity during World War Two, and how all of us who lived in those days, even the children, were touched and became part of the hurt and hope of America.

Families enjoyed the day, our Nation celebrated on Monday, and thousands of people traveled, visited, and remembered. But Monday has gone, where to now? All of us know that there is something wrong with America, the values we once lived by, the ability to share in burdens, come to agreements, and find success, have left us, they are missing and we know it. We want to be fair, we want others to have a right to their beliefs and ways, but there is something so very wrong now, for it seems that any view that questions or is even different from the radical is considered to be terrible, people say all they want is the right to be themselves but we do not know how to share that right with others. A Christian ballplayer shares his faith and the world tells him to be silent, another ball player who has chosen a different life style announces it and the media applauded, for one self determination is good, for the other it is not. Why are the values that once held us together so wrong in the sight of those who do not share them, why is it right for them and not right for us. I guess Jesus was right all along, He said, when we chose Him we would become the outcast.

Where to now; I will continue to love my country, served it in any way that a citizen my age can; yet while loving America I will still seek to be true to my Lord and the values He has put in my heart. I will not hate, I will not be mean, I will just be the best Ivan that I can be.   Ivan

Published in: on May 26, 2014 at 8:54 pm  Comments (1)  

America; My Home

What is it that makes America great? I am sure that you could get a lot of answers by asking a lot of different people.  We all have our niche, that special portion of this wonderful country that makes it great in our hearts.

We certainly had a great beginning. Our founding fathers took huge risk and many of them paid with all of their wealth as well as their lives. They found themselves out numbered and out gunned, yet they won. They put their faces in the dirt and prayed that God would give His shinning approval to their work and their dreams.

We certainly had great test along the way. No one had tried a democracy like ours and those early years found us struggling but through it all and in spite of our enemies we prevailed. We fought within ourselves and watched more than a half of a million of our men die. We struggled to overcome the disaster and somehow with both sides lifting their hearts in prayer for their cause, God allowed His just cause to be victorious.

We defended our friends in great wars, watched our young men die, and put every American to work winning the battle against evil.

We walked on the moon, went to the bottom of the sea and climbed our economy until it was the great oak tree standing in the middle of the forest of nations showing others what it was like to be built on free enterprise.

We have before us our greatest challenge. Can we recover our character, remember our foundation, return to our values and realize the blessing of our Heavenly Father, founder and creator of, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Tomorrow will be greater than today, the past will form our future, and it will be greater than our hearts dreams if we will but put our faces in the dust and call upon our founder to return us to our beginning and bless us once again.

The greatest task will be to begin on our knees and to humbly seek His face. America, my home sweet home.

Ivan

Published in: on May 23, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

American Cemetery at Normandy

There are moments that hang like great drops of time in our memory. Such a moment was Thursday when I stood and looked across the American Cemetery and the beach of Normandy . There was Lt. Murray Evans a young man from Lindsey Street who lived across the street from my family, charging up the beach in that first wave on June 6, 1944 , leading a group of young American teens into the land of France and for most of them the Land of Eternity . His parents were wonderful friends of my family and I spent many hours on their front porch listing to Mr. Evans tell about his ‘boy’ Murray who is still on that beach in Normandy along with more than 10,000 other young Americans. Lt. Murray Evans was killed on the third day of that great battle and his family chooses to allow his body to rest on that green grass of American soil. I stood before eight graves each marked with the name unknown, I wept at those graves, saluted as an old man does and then knelt in the dew covered grass and thanked God for this ‘unknown’ who paid with all he had that some 68 years later I could stand before his marker and thank him for those moments of charging that beach and winning for the world another moment of freedom. Murray ’s parents were good, honest people, who deserved to have their son watch them grow old but as the parents of more than four hundred thousand other young men were charged for our freedom the price of their son’s life. As I looked across that beach I could see Mary Lou Graft wading ashore on the third day as a nurse with the first hospital division to establish a hope for those who would be wounded. Mary Lou walked from the beach of Normandy to the capitol of the Nazi Empire in Berlin providing care for our American troops. She often spoke to me of those days and those memories as she saw an enslaved world become free because so many were willing to give their all. That bubble of time held me captured as I shed my tears for all the fallen, broken, and hopeful of those days. Thank you to all who crawled up that sandy rock covered beach to unlock for me and others the door of liberty.

Ivan Today’s Daily Devotion

Published in: on May 22, 2014 at 12:05 am  Comments (2)  

It All Counts

John lived by himself the last five years of his life. After his wife died and their marriage of 57 years had closed the few friend that remained in any kind of health moved closer to their kids and out to the new part of town. John lived in the same small home in the changing community and watched as his world vanished and a world of new ways and new people begin to flood his neighborhood. He didn’t dislike the people he just didn’t know them and never seemed to connect. Many if not most of them spoke a language he didn’t understand and even his church which had served as the center point of he and his wife’s life had sold the building and moved too far away for him to attend. With no children and no living relatives he just walked the streets of his community each morning sit on a park bench in the afternoon and fed the pigeons. People came by but most didn’t notice him and those who did seemed to wonder what world he came from. He attended the church that had purchased the building of his old home church, but they stood forever, sung the same song twenty times, and he never really understood much that the preacher said, and never understood why he preached in jeans and sandals.

John knew that he had lived too long but that was not his call so he just spent each day as best as he could. He hated being alone, not counting and knowing no one. One afternoon as he sat on the park bench and young about ten or eleven year old boy came over and joined him. He asked a thousand question and John enjoyed answering each one of them. The boy seemed hungry to hear about his stories of the big war, the old times, his wife, and his life as a school teacher. The boy began to bring his homework and asked him for help, and then another joined them on the park bench school desk. It wasn’t long until ten or twelve boys and girls came each day with their math and other homework and John helped them make sense out of all the problems and questions.

One day as he walked toward his home he thought about the last several months and all the joy he had received from the kids who came by with their question and papers. As he turned to walk up his drive he saw his wife standing on the porch, he was certain it was her and knew so when she said, “John it is so good to have you home but before you come in the house come and walk with me down the street just a short distance.” John took her hand and she led him to the small funeral home on the corner, there stood a number of children crying and looking into a coffin; “Who is it”, he asked and she said, “Go ahead and look John.” The tears the children were shedding were falling on his form, all decked out in his suit and each child was saying, “Mr. John we are sure going to miss you.” His wife smiled and squeezed his hand as she said, “See John, you really did make a difference, come now and let’s go home; many others are waiting for you.”

Ivan

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

She Didn’t Come Home

The house mom said that he had been crying for a long time and she just did not know what to do. I went by the house and asked Wayne if he would go sit in the swing with me out in the front yard.  He did not want to but he did. I could see that he had been crying so I said, “Tell me Wayne, what has got you upset?” He said, “She didn’t come home”. “Who didn’t come home Wayne?” I asked “Mother,” he answered, “Daddy said she would come home but she didn’t and now it has been a long time and she still has not come home.” I was there now, I knew the problem. I talked to him about the bad dream he had and how he probably had it often. Always around his mother not coming home. He nodded, and I hugged him and we talked about a few good memories he had when his mother was at home and life was nice. I talked about how much his house parents loved him and how very sad we were that mother had not come home and dad had to bring him and his sisters to live with us. It wasn’t an answer, I understood that, but it helped him get it out and talk about all that was burning inside of him.  It is hard at eight to have a hurt so big inside that never goes away. You blame yourself, your dad, your brothers and sisters and even those of us at the children’s home. See when the hurt is so large sometime it just comes out even when we don’t want it to. Wayne was a good kid, he was very little trouble, but the dreams and hurts sometimes just overflowed out of him.  Maybe it would be anger, maybe fear, maybe like this morning tears.  Be careful when you judge other people, remember you can never know the giant that lives within, the hole that forms in their heart and the hurt that will not go away.  Wayne got better that day, but I knew there would be other days and other tall mountains and sharp curves.  All we could do was to hold him and assure him that we were going to be there, we would come back, because we would never leave.  Pray for the people who spend their lives holding the Wayne’s of this world, they are giant people and need our prayers.

Ivan

Published in: on May 19, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

A Fold For His Sheep

I give my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28

The home for the unaccompanied children, orphans, we built in Goma was really a tent city on this large area of volcanic ash that the French Foreign Legion had leveled for us. Built in the shadow of the Nyiragongo Volcano and near Lake Kivu we tried to make it the best place possible for the children to live.  We had 50 tents each large enough for ten children and a mother, two latrines and area for showers, a medical tent as well as a large cooking tent, and a common dining area.  We hired mothers and helpers for each of the resident’s tents, cooks, fire wood gathers, yard keepers, nurses, and around the clock guards to walk the wall of canvas we built around the entire area.  We added a playground with swings, slides, and a ‘see saw’ something they had never seen.  Before we could open the home we had to be inspected by the government of Zaire as well as the United Nations. When the officials finished their inspection they told me it was the nicest place in Zaire and wondered why we had gone to so much trouble.  I explained that we had built it for Christ, that it might be a fold for His sheep.  I am sure that the eruption of Nyiragongo in 2002 as well as the two wars since destroyed the home, but for a time those children lived in the arms of our Lord. And many of them came to know those arms for eternity.

Published in: on May 16, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment  

He Left A Pathway

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.  Psalm 37:23

Columbus held out to the very end that it was God who had directed him to the ‘New World’. His was a life that found directions and followed them.

In his diaries and other writings Columbus told of dreams and visions that directed him to sail west. He certainly did not know he was going to a new land but he knew that it was west that he needed to sail.

Many people today tell of others who came to America long before Columbus. Maybe they did but the difference in those who came before is that they did not return and bring others. Think of this, he may not have been the first but he was the one that encouraged others to follow, who told of his journey, and who made a number of other trips and left a pathway that others could follow. It was Columbus who held high the banner of a better world, a new land, and a hope with which to fill the dreams of others. Thus they came and this ‘new land’ became the hope and dream of Europe.

I for one am glad that he went back and encouraged my family to come to the new word. I am grateful that in the providence of God I was born in America. I have been on four other continents and in a number of other countries but I have never found any place that I would rather live than in America.

I am not an explorer, I do not carve pathways across mountains and chart journeys through the ocean but I hope that my life has left a pathway that other may follow and in following find a better way to live. By some word or deed a sign post pointing to ‘this way’ has been set in the hearts of people.

Ivan

Published in: on May 15, 2014 at 12:05 am  Leave a Comment