Honor The Brave

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 AmericanCemetery 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 69 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 five 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

Published in: on June 30, 2015 at 10:05 pm  Comments (1)  

God Is Still God

Time is in God’s Hands

As I walked out of the Dixie and got in my car last Friday I heard the announcement that the Supreme Court had ruled that all states must provide for same sex marriage. I was not surprised by I was hurt, the very core of my heart felt like the nation I love so very much had looked the Word on God in the face and said, ‘We don’t care, this is now the law of the land.’

The rest of the day my heart was troubled, the evening news said that already since noon some 21 same sex couples had applied for a marriage license. They even announced that they would have a special room set up for Monday to handle the expected rush, with more computers and workers to help those who would be making applications. This was a surprise, but somehow God let my heart not rage but weep instead.

Saturday the sun came up, Sunday we had a great worship service at Byrdstown First Baptist and today God is still on His throne.

I remember Judge Kennedy in an interview I listed to about a year ago say, ‘Remember the Supreme Court does not write moral law; we simply give our opinion of the constitution. This is not moral law this is legal law, you must find your moral law someplace else.’ He wrote the majority opinion, and don’t forget it was only a majority of one.

My request of those who agree with the ruling, just give me the right to my beliefs, don’t try to put me in a corner and require something of me which I feel would cause me to break the moral law of God. That should be simple enough, and by the way I do not hate those or even dislike those who have and live by a different opinion, I just wish to remain true to mine.

I think Dr. Billy Graham said it best, “The Holy Spirits job is to convict, The Father’s job is to judge, My job is to love.”

The Holy Spirit and God will take care of their jobs; I must be busy with mine.

Ivan

Published in: on June 29, 2015 at 11:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Let Freedom Ring

Joshua Rowley’s wife had asked him not to go to the meeting at the small church near the town limits of Charleston, SC.  She knew that it was about independence, taking a stand for or against the founding of a new nation and she was afraid.  But Joshua had to go, the men of the area were expected to attend and besides he wanted to know what was going on and what his decision should be.

He learned quickly that not everyone was for independence, some didn’t care one way or the other, and still some did not want to risk what they had on a dream of a nation that might be and might not be.  Finally those who wished to be part of the move for independence were asked to sign the petition and to meet again in a few days.

Joshua looked at all the names, he had listened to all the appeals, and decision time was here. He was not a brave man but he wanted to always be a free man and he wanted his children to inherit a land that was all that you could dream it to be.  Joshua signed, looked back over his shoulder and decided that he had made the right decision.

Two days later before the second meeting could take place his home was burned, his cattle killed, and his life threatened.  He did not stop; he joined the rag tail army of the new nation and served until freedom rang.  One hundred and sixty-five years later his four time removed grandson died on Wake Island for the same nation and same great cause.

Our birthday comes to us with a great price. This week all over our nation flags will wave, songs will be sung, fireworks will light the sky and we will celebrate all of the Joshua’s’ of long ago and the millions since then who have paid to Let Freedom ring.

May it be proclaimed by each of us at this time of our Nations birth, Let Freedom ring even when I have to pay for the bell?

Published in: on June 28, 2015 at 11:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

On His Way

John looked around and saw that the place was filled with people, maybe sixty or seventy thousand people all of them listened to the man at the end of the field who was ‘preaching’ he believed that was what it was called. He wasn’t really all that sure how he had gotten there, but here he was one of the spell bound crowd of thousands.

The man said something about family and John remembered his family. He was the last child of a family of three children. The man sounded like family was a warm and fuzzy word, he should know about his family he thought.

His older brother, the ‘first born’ had always made fun of him, teased him and blamed him for anything that happened that upset his parents. He was good at everything, the star ball player, great with grades, and all the girls ran after him. But warm and fuzzy he wasn’t, he was selfish and mean.

His sister was a tramp and no one knew it; she was little Miss Perfect and everything else at school but he knew and because he knew she treated him like dirt.

If his parents loved each other he had never heard them say so, with words, with jesters, in any way. They just screamed and yelled and he just hid.

Why would this preacher call God father? If he was anything like his father he didn’t want to know him and didn’t need that a second time around. He shook his head, which entrance had he used, what made him come to this place: he thought he would just leave, but the preacher said for everyone to be still and not to disturb others.

He was talking about giving your life to Christ, being forgiven, loved and cared about. He asked if they would like to start over, visit the land of beginning again. ‘If there were such a place he would sure like to go there’. John thought to himself, he really did need to start over.

The people behind the preacher were standing and singing and all over the field he saw people moving down the steps, onto the field and going toward the front. Suddenly he saw Billy Graham turn and he was sure he was looking straight at him, and say, “Why don’t you come, let us tell you about the land of beginning again, come to Jesus, come to Jesus, Just as you are, come, do it now.”

John looked back, his seat was empty and he was half way down the field, just as He was, He was going to meet this man Jesus, he was going to find this Land of Beginning Again.

Ivan

Published in: on June 25, 2015 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

He Is Coming

Bright eyes cheer the heart; good news strengthens the bones.  Proverbs 15:30

I watched as they waited for the plane to arrive and the passengers deplane and come through the gate. The small girl with her mother looked to be about six and seemed so very excited. She kept asking her mother, “Is he coming, is he coming now?”

Her mother with love and patience responded each time with “Not yet, it will be a few minutes more”. Now we all know that to a child a few minutes cannot be explained or understood so on the questions came until all of a sudden you could see her eyes light up as large as moon beams and the smile crossed her face filling the entire area with joy, she had seen her father, he was coming home.

The room was dark and the small frail body of the terminally ill lady was swallowed by the hospital bed. I held her hand and knelt beside her bed as her daughter patted her head and assured her that she was there.

From those lips almost closed forever came the small broken question. “Is He here, is He coming.” “Yes”, both her daughter and I said, He is coming, not just yet, but he is coming.” The night grew later and the question repeated itself several times then as if the room was aglow she begin to give out a small smile and her eyes began to glow and the frail voice said, “He is here, I see Him, He is here.”

With those final words the frail body grew limp and the tears of the daughter joined mine as we realized that He had come and she was now at peace.

All of us have rejoiced when we saw our child or another looking at us with those big bright eyes. There is just something about that which reaches out and grabs our hearts.

Have you considered that God would like to see that in our eyes as we kneel before Him in prayer? Eyes bright with joy, heart filled with excitement all because we were coming to see our master in prayer.

Maybe we never experience that because we never seek Him with such a heart and wonder.

One of the things I miss about my dog Louie is the way he would jump and barks and get so excited when my car pulled in the drive. Now we really should be smarter than dogs and we certainly should be more excited than they to meet our Master.

Ivan

Published in: on June 24, 2015 at 11:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

He Wins

He has sent me – to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:3

Like you I become weary of all the bad news, the fighting of our leaders, and the sad deaths of those who stand between us and the enemy. I want to weep; I want to shout at the TV and say, ‘Stop this insane inside fighting and turn and face the real enemy.’

My heart and head are filled with despair, but despair is a victory for Satan. Our economy seems to be made of eggs, fragile and easily broken. One day a fix is on the way and another the market is like a broken egg unable to be put together again.

I know that Satan will not win in this war of life but I must not allow him to have victory in my heart. I have read the final chapter, seen in my prayers the final victory, and thus I know that Jesus wins.

My failure is that I am looking for the wrong victory. I am looking for a victory of ‘things’ and Jesus promises us a battle with this world, ‘things’ but a victory in His world. I want to win in the ways of man but Jesus does battle not with man but with Satan and the powers of evil we cannot fully understand. We can proclaim victory, the crown of beauty and the oil of gladness and wear the garment of praise. We do this as we give our heart and soul to Jesus and each moment of our life live that gift in actions for Jesus. The End will not change for; Jesus is both the Author and Finisher of our faith. Thank you Lord.

Ivan

Published in: on June 23, 2015 at 11:31 pm  Comments (2)  

My First Kiss

Boys and Girls

Boys and girls are different and I for one am very glad that they are different. However I can remember when I was not sure how I felt about girls because they always wanted to pretend and we guys didn’t know what that meant because we wanted to play like.

You know like cowboys and Indians, and soldiers and cops and robbers. There were other things I wasn’t sure about for example mother said that I must never hit a girl and for all these years I have not, but I remember one girl in our group of kids on Lindsey Street that hit all of the guys and even put a hot marshmallow on my arm; if I searched really close I think I could find the scar, she just liked to beat up people.

But then there was this other girl; she told everyone that she ‘liked’ me and boy did that made me mad, not sure why but it did, of course that was then not now. I remember one day when we were all playing in the empty lot on Lindsey Street that she chased me down and flat kissed me. You read it right; she flat touched her lips to mine. We would call it a smooth mouth today but then to a ten year old it was bad, really bad. I spit, and spit and spit trying to get rid of that kiss.

Well time went on and I grew and she grew. Somewhere about our junior year in high school she turned into a ten and I, well I was still a four, nothing has really changed in all those years, I got a lot taller, but baldness came early and I have always been a pretty good four.

Well I remembered that day on Lindsey Street and that brief moment when she kissed me. I decided to prod her memory and so I stood beside her in the lunch line and said, “You remember that day on Lindsey Street a long time ago?” She turned and looked at me and said, “What are you talking about and who are you; go away you tall drink of water.”

Well I guess she didn’t remember. So it is that life moves on, hurt feelings and all; but I still remember. I am still glad that boys and girls are different.

Ivan

Published in: on June 22, 2015 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

We Stopped Watching

But you be watchful in all things. Second Timothy 4:5

We stopped watching and our values fell, we stopped watching and our language became careless, we stopped watching and our prayer life took a dive, we stopped watching and our gifts dwindled, we stopped watching and Satan became larger and our faith became smaller.

Take your eye off the road for just a moment and you are courting with danger. Some years ago our nation begin to stop being watchful of our faith.  We hedged a little here, moved over a bit there, and now we discover that so many things we once felt strongly about are no longer important.

Men marry men and women marry women and the media applause. Thousands of babies die before they breathe and no one places a marker in their memory. We stopped watching and our hearts became harder, our attitudes became cynical, and our hope is in despair because we built it on that which perishes.

We stopped watching and while we live longer we live less. We live better but without peace and joy. We have so much more than any generation before us but it brings us no pleasure, no contentment, and no security.

 Maybe God knew what He was talking about when He said be Watchful in All things.

Published in: on June 21, 2015 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

For Dad

Have You Met?

Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 10:32

I would go with my father to his office when I was a boy and it always thrilled me when he would say to all those in the office, “Have you met my son?” I felt a real sense of pride that dad wanted all of the people who worked with him to know his son.

This jester never ended even after I became a man, it was always the same, “Have you met my son?” Later it was my joy to say to people, “Have you met my dad?” He visited me at all but two of the churches I pastored and in fact built furniture for most of those.

I would take him with me to meetings and on visits to meet with members and I would always say, “Have you met my dad?” It was a wonderful feeling.  Someday in the glory of eternity Jesus will say to His Father, “Father, here is my friend, Ivan.”  WOW!

I am not sure that is the exact way it will happen, for I realize that I am not worthy of that much of His time, but He did say His eyes were on the sparrows, for certain I know that I will be in Heaven because the Father knows me through His Son, Jesus.

Maybe he will allow my dad to take me around heaven and say, “Have you met my son?” What a joy that would be.

I just hope that I have spent my life saying to others, both in words and in deeds, “Have you met my friend, Jesus?”  Would it not be wonderful to have someone meet you in glory and say, “Thank you for introducing me to Jesus.”?

Published in: on June 18, 2015 at 11:06 pm  Comments (2)  

When Life Was Simple

Life was simple at 246 South Lindsey Street, when I was a boy. In the winter we went to school, ‘played out’ as we called it in the yard, if it was not too cold, till dark, then had supper, listened to the radio and went to bed. In the summer we just spent the day outside.

Sure we had chores, going to the grocery store, about three blocks away, cutting the yard, feeding the pets and a few other things as mother remembered to ask me to do, but for the most part we played out.

Johnnie Barber and I were next door neighbors and most of the time we formed the group of boys and girls involved in cowboy and Indians, baseball, building a fort out of sticks and old lumber on the vacant lot and just hanging around.  We road sticks for horses and held other sticks for guns and in general ‘pretended’ that so many things were real.

I collected leaves from trees, put them in a bag and called it money. We chipped the concrete off of bricks, we had a great pile of them which later my father would brick out house with; and called it gold. In later years we road our bikes, cut yards for other people for about 25 cents, went to the store for anyone who would let us, most often they gave us a nickel, and wondered what girls were all about.

It was simple, fun, safe, and we looked forward to each new day.  I remember Betty Upton teasing me because I had only a plain stick for my horse, so she assured me that I did not know which way I was going, front or back.  I fixed her; I stuck one end of my stick horse in a can of white paint and called it the head that way I always knew which way I was going.

Betty was the one thing or person that Johnnie and I disagreed on, we both ‘claimed’ her, strange language but that is what we called it in those days. This sometime caused a falling out in our friendship but never more than a few hours. After all a girl couldn’t come between us guys.

We listened to the Lone Ranger, Sky King, and Gang Busters on the radio and replayed them in the yards and fields of Lindsey Street. Life was simple, innocent and good; in my old age I sometimes dream at night of that street and those kids and the joys of having very little but feeling very fortunate. Life is not simple now, it is not innocent, and the dreams of a boy are now brief, fuzzy, and not so many as long ago.

Ivan

Published in: on June 17, 2015 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment