Today

Today marks the 21st anniversary of the marriage between Carole and I. Really does not seems that long, it has been good, quick, too quick, but good.

We had planned to spend our lives together in Belize, however the International Mission Board has a rule that you have to be married a year in order to serve, so it was home from Belize for me, then off to Zaire for the relief effort of the war in Rwanda and back home to twelve years with the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home.

Those were great years, my heart was thrilled with each day and the joy to be a part of the lives of broken families helping them to find a new start and new homes was wonderful. My staff was the very best and they all knew so much more than I did about helping children that I got to spend my years being their cheerleader.

Since I retired in 2006 I have served as pastor at First Baptist in Byrdstown and Carole is in an important career with Marathon Petroleum.

She has adjusted to the years that separate us in age and together we have watched our blended family mature and reaching for their own dreams.

I owe her more than I can ever pay; she has been a great blessing to me and my life. I have had the joy of seeing life from two generations and have grown as a result of the blessing.

It is impossible for a man to express his gratitude and love as he should; my best effort is to thank God for these years and her for allowing me to share them in love with her.

Happy Anniversary Carole, thank you.

Ivan

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Published in: on April 29, 2015 at 11:35 pm  Comments (2)  

Take Your Pick

I stayed up until 2:00 AM Monday night watching Baltimore burn; I almost cried as I watched the destruction, the lack of respect for law officers, the absence of concern for the property of others, the almost celebration of the people running through the streets, throwing whatever they could find and the cheers as the homes, cars, and business places of others went up in smoke.

I wondered where our moral fabric has gone what happened to America. Then yesterday I saw a film of one mother who found her son taking part in the carnage and saw her as she made him leave and go home. I wondered what would have been different if a thousand mothers had been on the streets taking their children home. Do you see an important key, a mother and a home, we need to add a father and then multiply it by thousands.

Tuesday I read of the more than 4,000 dead in Nepal, lives forever changed, there is war in Syria, Isis is a terroir that none of us know what to do about. People drowning trying to leave Libya; Iran attacking a ship in the Strait of Hormuz, War in Yemen, and war in so many places that you would be hard pressed to put your finger on a world map and not hit a spot.

The Supreme Court considers the case for same sex marriage; I have lived too long, IMF is messing with the American dollar, our debt is too large.

A dry lake in the west; soon no crops, starving cattle and maybe the black horse of Revelation is on his way.

I have a friend, David, he needs your prayers, Joe is having surgery today, Wednesday, and his brother, Gene will have almost the same surgery on Thursday.

Need something to pray about, take your pick.

Ivan

Published in: on April 28, 2015 at 11:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

It Died

I am not sure when the call came, not even sure who was the first person to let me know, but it died. No one knew for sure just why, many had opinions but there was so much confusion that no one could say for sure when it died or what caused the death.

Everyone had an opinion, and no one agreed, they just all knew that it had died, some wanted to charge this cause, some another, but as has been the case for so long they were too divided to agree.

The Nation of dreams, courage, assistance, hope, joy, better tomorrows, and the example that all other nations wanted to be like, Died. Now we were a long way from being a perfect nation and our leaders were never perfect, but in spite of their flaws and our flaws we were the greatest Nation on the face of the earth.

Sixteen million of our men and women put on a uniform and defended the rights of freedom for a people that most of those young men and women did not know and could not speak their language. More than five hundred thousand of those young people did not come home from that gift of freedom which they purchased for others.

I stood at 10,000 of those graves on the hill at Normandy, I prayed over many, wept at a couple, and watered the green grass of that honored place with my tears as I walked out of the gates of the American Cemetery at Normandy. My neighbor from across the street on Lindsey, Lt. Murray Evans could not leave; he will rest there until heaven calls.

I hope that the story I have just suggested is never true, I hope that this terrible dream from which I awoke remains only a nightmare, but in spite of all of my hope, I know sick when I see it and I know that our land is sick.

Ivan

Published in: on April 27, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Comments (5)  

Life Moves

Have you ever just watched life? Like sitting in a restaurant observing the other people, watching their actions and reactions; maybe sitting on a park bench just wondering what is going through the minds of those walking by and those sitting on other benches.

There is the lady seated by herself in the restaurant, she takes a long time to decide what she wants to order and then sends a couple of items back, she raises her voice, proclaims to others as she leaves the incompetence of the staff and walks rudely by all who seek to speak to her as she leaves. Maybe she is mad that whoever was to meet her didn’t show up, maybe she just got word from the doctor that something is wrong, maybe she lost her job; such knowledge cannot be received by a glance across the room but a summation can be made, life for her is not good.

There is the guy, older, too old for his behavior, hitting on the young girl taking his order. She is very smart for she must have given her table to an older more experienced lady who had no trouble just being the server. How sad it is that the guy lives in some kind of hyper link world where his time travels backward, a world absent of mirrors.

She is in the park with her son watching him play on the swings and talking with the other kids. She keeps her eye on him with an almost fearful trap; she has read and heard of so much evil in the world that it is difficult for her to enjoy a brief moment in a public park with her son.

He sits by himself, head bent, eyes almost fluid with sadness focus on the ground around him. He has not notices the others coming through the park, he is not aware of anyone and anything just the ground, the dying grass, nothing else.

There is the suited business man who walks through like a bullet on its way to some target that must not be missed. The lady overdressed tip toeing through the park as if she is afraid that she will step on something unworthy of her very expensive shoes. The young couples blinded by their involvement with one another who cannot see anyone except the other.

So life moves, it always moves, it is never still and try and we may our keenness of sight cannot know what courses through the brain, troubles the soul, thrills the heart and commands first place in the lives of those who move with us through it.

 One truth, a truth for each of them; God knows them, loves them, and longs to be their friend. That truth you can hang your eternity on.

Published in: on April 26, 2015 at 11:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Franklin Square

Franklin Square

14th. at K Street, Washington, DC

The rain from the 3:00 AM storm had washed most of the smaller stuff from the benches and sidewalks of the square. The odor from the night before had changed; the smell was fresher, not so filled with urine and human body odor.

About half of the benches had already been claimed by the sometime and maybe most of the time homeless who in all probability considered this small park their home. The shopping buggies of other years have for the most part given way to backpacks, and wheeled luggage carries. They put these items on the benches and leave them as they make their rounds to the dumpsters in the area checking to see what the restaurants and residents have thrown away during the night.

Most of the residents of this square are black, maybe three whites out of a total count of some 25 about seven or eight women, the rest males. As I sit and read my bible waiting for Carole to get ready for church they leave me alone. They watch me, I think they are not sure just why I picked this place to sit and read.

The hotel doorman said some might ask for money even though they knew it was against the law, but he felt that for the most part they were safe.  One had two back packs and two wheeled luggage carries; he also had a large piece of plastic that looked as if he might use it for protection from the rain. Even the homeless have the different levels of life. A couple looked like they might be veterans, the rest you really couldn’t tell, nothing of the past that had once been strength remained.

I had to wonder as I watched them what turn of time put them in Franklin Square. You would not think that anyone would choose to live there, to make that home, but there they were two dozen souls scattered by the early morning storm and now back to claim their ‘section’ for a new day.

I wonder if they dreamed of better days, better places, better protection from the breaking heat of the day and the unexpected storms of the night. Here we are living in the greatest land in the entire world and on a square in our Nations City; souls claim park benches as their section of life.

I thanked God that time had not turned for me as it had turn for them, and then I asked God to burden the heart of someone to discover an answer and solve the problem.

Ivan

Published in: on April 22, 2015 at 11:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Request

A Request

Next week our Supreme Court will hear the oral arguments in the case for same sex marriages. Almost everything you read says that most Americans do not care one way or the other.

With all my heart I believe this is very much against the teaching of God’s Word. I realize how sensitive this is and how divided our people are when it comes to the subject of same sex love and marriage. I am certainly not an authority on this subject and have never been inclined to be part of such an emotional life, thus it is not my intent to hurt anyone, to demand from anyone, to be outraged; however how can I live by my choice to believe the Word of God and not speak against such a way of life.

I think of how this must slap God in the face for us to be making a serious consideration of putting the stamp of approval of our nation on this practice.

I don’t hate anyone, I don’t look down on others and I ask that you join me in this same declaration; however I am praying that our nation’s highest court will see how destructive this can be to our nation, our homes and our loyalty to the Word of God.

I think of the small business man who will be caught in a legal battle just to maintain his own beliefs and faith and still keep his business. Is there no fairness for him and his sincere beliefs, can his faith not be a part of the practice of his business?

My only request to you is that you join with me and others as we ask our Lord to give His divine intervention to this matter. Let us not turn from all of our faith, let us not by popular demand become a people without faith and belief.

Hate no one, despise no one, but share your sincere belief in the eternal Word of God. May God give His wisdom to our court and more than the court, to our people?

Ivan    inraley@yahoo.com

Published in: on April 21, 2015 at 11:37 pm  Comments (2)  

The Birds Have Their Trees

David sat on the park bench in Franklin Square and watched as the young mother talked with her daughter. The mother looked to be about 50 but he was sure she was still in her 20s’, dressed in several sweaters all worn but clean, at least three pair of pants held onto her body by a rope, head covered, eyes swollen, voice tearful as she spoke to her four year old child. He could hear her explaining that they would not have a tree this Christmas, living in the back of the broken panel truck parked in an abandoned lot near a once but now closed warehouse, there would be no room.

David wondered what turn of events had rocketed this pair of lost souls into such despair and sorrow. What could have happen, who was at fault; but then did it really matter, Here she was and so it was. He saw the Salvation Army officer stop and speak to them. He could tell that he knew her and felt for her circumstance.

He heard them talk about choices and understood as the mother pled for some real plan to give her and her daughter a chance at life. The officer, shook his head, said he would try, prayed and walked away.

David caught up with the officer, asked him a lot of questions, they spent a long time at the Star Bucks across the street then again with the Salvation Officer.

He left the officer shaking his head in unbelief as he handed him the envelope shook his hand and went back to the bench in the square.

He listened as the officer returned in a few hours to talk to the mother and child still on their bench at the park. He heard him explain that he had a job for her at the Star Bucks across the street; she raised the question about child care, clothes, and a place to live. He explained that there was a new program and she could be the pilot mother for its launch. There was an efficient apartment about eight blocks away that she could live in for the next six months, also money for clothes for both of them and child care at the National Christian Church just down the street.

With the starting salary she could not afford the apartment but within six months there would be either more salary or another place to live. She looked startled, began to weep and wrapped her arms around the Salvation Army Officer and let the flood of joy wash the sidewalk beneath her feet.

David wiped his eyes, looked at the large tree in the square and said, My Father’s birds have their trees this child and mother needs theirs, he spoke to the weeping mother, excited child, and smiling Salvation Army workers as he left Franklin Square.

Published in: on April 20, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Family Traditions

Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him.  Second Corinthians 5:9

There were some questions that mother would always ask us no matter where we were going.  Such as; who is going to be there? What time will you be home? Who are the adults that will be in charge? Then last but not least, “Do you have on clean underwear?”

It always seemed to me that if I had been in a wreck no matter how bad I had been hurt are what kind of condition I was in mother wanted to make sure that I had on clean underwear.  It was as though she would have been heartbroken had the undertaker seen me in dirty underwear.

Another thing she always did was to tell me never to forget who I was and what my name was and to behave like I knew it was very important to uphold the family traditions.  Before I left for the Navy she stood in front of me and gave me that often spoken challenge, “Don’t forget who you are and how you are supposed to act and behave.

I took mother at her word and believed she was life and death serious about her admonishment to her only son.  Come to think of it; I believe God wants us to remember who we are and to uphold His family traditions.

Published in: on April 19, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Will You Join Us

He was born in this far off country but it would never be his home. He had done well, received a good education, found a job and risen to a place of importance as part of the country’s leadership.

Well he was near power but had no power; but he moved among the powerful and in fact he was a personal servant to the King and met most of the important people who visited and hear the ‘power talk’ that came from all levels of leadership.

But it was still not his home; this was neither his land nor the land of his fathers for that land he longed. He met some people from his homeland and asked them to tell him about his country and the people that were still there. What they told him broke his heart and brought him to tears and inward and outward sorrow.

For months he sought direction, he wept, he suffered, he went without food, he aged in his broken heart until one day the King noticed and he asked him what was wrong.

Even though others would count him a slave, he saw himself as a servant of God, currently serving on the servant staff of an ungodly King. But in spite of that fact he knew that he was to do his best, to be his best and to serve this earthly King as if he were serving God. So he had done his best and the King came to understand him, to know him and to see the destruction that the bad news had done to his body and to his heart.

The King asked him what was wrong and Nehemiah told him that the walls of the hometown of his family were torn down, the gates were burned and his people were in great distress. He wanted to go home. He wanted to rebuild the wall. He wanted to change the broken country of his people.

Look around, the moral walls of our nation have been torn down the gates to our way of life have been burned and the future of our children will be that of distress if we do not become a Nehemiah.

I am preaching from Nehemiah Sunday and would love to have you join us. I asked my people at First Baptist to pray deeply for our nation and our leadership. I asked them to repent of our own sins and then to lay the distress of our nation at the feet of Jesus. Will you join us?

Published in: on April 16, 2015 at 11:33 pm  Comments (1)  

I Don’t Mind Sharing

(A repeat that I like)

Robert and his family of five had been living with us for about a week as they waited on a place to come open for their family to live on our campus.  Robert, a four year old, was stretched out on the floor in our family room with a bowl of cheerios and milk in front of him eating his breakfast and watching TV.

Our cocker spaniel was stretched out beside Robert and as Robert would take a bite then Louie would lick himself a nice bite.

I came in the room and said something like, ‘Son Louie is eating out of your bowl.’ He looked up at me and with those big eyes beaming and said, “That’s OK sir, I got plenty and I don’t mind sharing.”

I’m sure I should have told him all the reason this wasn’t good but Louie looked up and seeing me walked to the door so I let him out.

“Mister,” Robert said as he looked and pointed to the door of our pantry, “There is a lot of food in there; we are never going to be hungry.” Then with those big eyes of a four year old he looked at me and asked, “Sir, are you Jesus?” I smiled, knelt down by him and said “No I’m not Jesus but He is the reason you came to live with us. He loves you and wanted you to have a great home.”

Robert just smiled real big and headed upstairs to his room. I walked to the back door and saw Louie stretched out on the porch enjoying the morning sun as his cheerios and milk digested. I bowed my head and just wept before my God who has given me so much that I can never be thankful enough and express it enough. I love you Lord.  Ivan

Published in: on April 15, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment