Watching Bottles

They lived down by the railroad tracks, you might even say they lived on the wrong side of the tracks, but they kept a neat little house and in the summer you always found them on the front porch waving at all who went by their home.

I think a lot of people pitied them, they seemed so poor and so unprepared for this fast pace world that had started at the end of the Second World War. He had worked for the local Coke bottler, watching the bottles as they came out of the washer, pulling those that were not clean from off the line, thus his job seemed to many to be so boring and unimportant.

I used to stop by and spend some time on their front porch on my way home from the popcorn stand where I worked, they were great listeners and I was always filled with questions and loved to hear him talk about his days in Europe as a member of the army from 1942 to 1945.

He never talked about himself; it was about the men with whom he had served. He spent most of his time driving a truck, and after D Day had driven all the way to Germany with the supplies and materials the men needed who were on the front line.

I went to his grave side funeral when he died, I watched them fold the flag, fire the guns, and then an officer presented the flag to his wife and opened a small box and said with great honor to his wife here is the Silver Star which he earned one day in battle in 1944, it was never presented to him but upon the authority of the President of the United States I have been sent to give this medal to you on behalf of a grateful nation.

I listen as he read the citation which told how he had stopped his truck manned a machine gun and held off the enemy while some thirty men loaded in his truck and he took them to safety

He had never mention that moment, he had talked about others who were brave but he had never told of the thirty men who had a chance to come home because he did more than was required.

Everyone thought he just looked at empty bottles but I just imagine that in glory he met a lot of grateful and successful men because he did his best.

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Published in: on January 31, 2016 at 11:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

To Dr. Stow

For Dr. Stow

After a long and hard fought battle Dr. Stow heard the still small voice of His Lord, ‘Your home is ready, come and enjoy the beauty of a new day.’

I really loved him, I owed a great debt to him and the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes also owes him a great debt.

He was by far one of the best preachers in our Tennessee family of preachers, each time I preached in a church where he had pastored they would talk of him with such love and affection. He had that pastor’s heart, he believed in second chances, and he lived what he preached.

For a man my age it just makes heaven sweeter. I pray for his family, I lift them into the loving arms of our Lord and know that they will be protected and cared for by their loving Father.

It is impossible for me to say all that I would like to say and to express all that I feel but I shall take my comfort in the: Love we shared, Life he lived, Legacy he left, and the Lord he Loved.

Beneath his bed his shoes shall remain, no one can fill them, for God makes no two of us alike, we each like Dr. Stow, have our own journey and thus we have been fashioned to finish our own course. Well done thy good and faithful servant.

We shall miss you dear friend, we can all say ‘That it was good that you lived.’ We shall see you dear friend, we shall see you and until, we think of you and miss you, so dear one until. . . 30

Ivan 01/29/2016

Published in: on January 30, 2016 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Mr. Carson

Mr. Carson was a cranky, sometimes mean old man. No one in the community liked him and I really think the feeling was mutual. He would come by the community store in the morning, enter a conversation and have everyone mad at him within ten minutes.

If the weather was beautiful, he hated it, if it was terrible, he hated it, he just disliked everything and everyone. I visited him now and then but he would always see me coming and have both cannons ready to fire at me when I got out of the car.

Never was much of a happy visit and never any show of interest on his part in either my coming to see him or the invitation I would give him to church. He had never been married, lived alone and only now and then spoke of a brother who lived up north. He went to see his brother for a couple of weeks one summer and I got a call a few days later that he had died and would not be back.

I was asked to check on his house and do what I could to keep it safe until the brother could get down to take care of things. I don’t think anyone missed him and when his brother came to town he seemed to be cut from the same fabric.

He had sold the house, disposed of the contents, and was leaving before any of us even knew he was in town. He came by the church, left me a note and small package and thus Mr. Carson and his memory was gone.

The note told me what he had done with the property and said that Mr. Carson had kept a log, they had both been in the Navy, thus the log term and he had left me a few pages he thought might be of interest to me.

A couple of the pages told of my visits and on one he had said that he thought that I believe what I talked about. The one that interested me the most was the day he had visited our church sit in his truck and listened to the service on the radio.

 He ended his entry with, “Not too bad for a kid, I might just go in next time.” I wonder now looking back all those years how many ‘Mr. Carson’ there are in the world?

Published in: on January 28, 2016 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Have Been Thinking

I have been thinking, thinking a lot; it is hard but Dr. Mason did say that I should get more exercise and I know that thinking has to be good exercise. All that straining that goes on in your head; all those millions of little men running around trying to keep everything in place, just look at them some have hammers, others – saws –pliers – rakes, got to put stuff back – looking glasses, some of the thoughts are very small – dictionaries, after all you have to look up all those words you are thinking, so you can bet I have been getting a lot of exercise.

I know why God fixed us so that at my age we forget a lot, just think – we get to a room and we can’t remember why we came to the room, so back we go to the starting point and then, yep, we remember so it is back to the room. See how simple that is and just think (good exercise) how many steps we take each day just trying to remember. Get to the car, where are the keys, got to look, get to the room, can’t remember why we are there so back to the car and yep, we remember so it is back to the room for our keys. That is really great, Thanks God.

I also know why it is so hard for us to get up from the floor – it goes like this, we have to crawl and exercise to get to something that we can pull up against – be careful with this, don’t use a rocker, it will just bang you in the head, try something stronger, but be careful don’t pull the lamp off of the table or tip over the glass of coke, but you can do it and as you do you get a lot of exercise. See how nice God is?

Just think, he made us so our feet don’t like for us to stand up a long time – reason – blood would flow to them, they would become large and swollen and then they would really hurt, so don’t stand long, stretch out on the couch, put your feet up on the other end and man they are above your heart and there you go getting well again. I told you He was good.

Doctor said that since most of my work was done at a desk and inside that I should make an effort to get out in the fresh air and get those lungs working. Man I am on to that one, I got in my car rolled the windows down, opened the sun room, and took off to the state park, wow it was chilly, but fresh air was coming through me, big time. An hour later I got to the park, nose was running, good exercise, fingers blue, nice change in color, so back I come to home. Two hours of outdoor life, exercise, and lots of fresh, cold air. I may just go back and do my medical test again, I am already better, my nose is running, my gas tank is empty and I am ready for the feet treatment on the couch. It has been a wonderful day, God is so Good.

Ivan

Published in: on January 28, 2016 at 9:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Sharpener of Lives

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

I have met some wonderful people who have sharpened my life. I will be forever grateful to each of them and pray that somehow I might sharpen the life of another.

It is not always the great and the powerful that help to shape the life of another. Sometimes it is janitors at a church who has a great spirit of Jesus and shared that spirit with a young boy who would drop by and just spend time asking questions. A pretty girl who lived across the street who was nice and kind to a guy who was not the best choice nor best looking.

It might be a little ‘old’ couple who lived across the street and spent countless hours answering the unimportant questions of child.

It was a deacon and his wife at Calvary who impressed him with their lives and ‘Sonny’ came to love the friends of his parents; Mrs. Simmons and Cletus. There are giants along the way, men like Dr. Stow whom it was a joy to ride down the interstate and listen to his voice and his heart as he poured out truths about life and Jesus. A houseparent who dedicated his life to give those much of the world think of as throw away another chance, a real chance. Then there was a social worker, program director, and far too many to name who gave me insight into life and the other side of the story.

How about a deacon in the church who protected me from someone concerned that the kids and I were going to wear out the grass in the church yard playing football; his response to the upset member was, “If I have to choose between grass and kids, I think I will come down on the side of kids.” The nice twist to that story was that the man who had such concerns for the grass made it possible for us to purchase eight acres in the back that made a perfect place for kids. I could spend week’s just calling names, seeing faces, and remembering moments where others have touch and sharpened my life.

Don’t worry about your position in the world, just make sure your position with Jesus is secured and you too will be a sharpener of lives for Him.

Published in: on January 27, 2016 at 12:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Real Neighbors

They saw her walking on the side of the road, it was cold, rainy and just a          miserable day; John looked at his wife and she nodded yes so he pulled over and his wife asked the young lady if she would like a ride, she hesitated but the weather was terrible and she was so cold, so she ran, opened the back door and got into the car.

John introduced himself to her, telling her he was the pastor of a small church just out of the city, his wife told her that she was Carla and asked where she was headed. The girl said that her name was Nancy and she was on her way to work at the I Hop about a mile down the road.

It didn’t take them long to discover that Nancy was a single girl from out of town, trying to make a living and start a life. She lived about three miles from the restaurant and walked to work six days each week, she had left home when her mother died and was trying to begin a new life, new friends, new world, and new direction. The direction was new but nothing else had worked, but she was still determined.

They let her out at the restaurant, talked between them about her, then his wife prayed for Nancy and they were home.

That night about eleven Carla asked John if they should not go to the restaurant and give Nancy a ride home, he agreed and thus began a journey of six years which saw a young lady mature, get an education, fall in love with a great guy, marry and start her own career and family.

Sure there were set backs and difficulties to overcome, sure there were even times of almost giving up, disappointments, failure, frustration, but then there is: Nothing like having Real Neighbors.

Published in: on January 25, 2016 at 10:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Didn’t it Snow

They said it would and it did, wow, it was beautiful. Then I got out of my house and almost didn’t get home and this was on Friday, so I was stuck for the rest of the time.

Now those who know me, know that I don’t keep food in my house, but I had stopped at B and K’s and got a loft of bread, some butter spread, pack of cheese, lunch meat, bacon that you cook in the microwave and a couple of cans of soup. I was ready.

As I prepared my first meal, I toasted a couple of pieces of bread, put some butter on them, and put on a slice of cheese and the lunch meat. I looked at the ketchup I had and it had expired in February of 2015, not good, jelly expired in 2014, sandwich spread expired in July 2015.

I threw them away and decided I liked just meat and cheese on my bread, not bad, but not good. Also there was no one to talk to and no bill to pay and no tip to leave, it just did not seem like much of a meal. I did notice that the packs of lunch meat I had chosen were just one sandwich. Well so much for cooking. The soup wasn’t bad, but still a lot was missing. Where was Russell and Johnnie and all the others, not good, it was Saturday and I could not get out of my garage.

But then came Sunday, I got the bacon and it wasn’t bad, but with Max looking on like he was starving it didn’t last long. Sunday I am supposed to preach but with a foot of snow on the parking and most people like me stuck in their drives, I was lost. I even felt guilty for not being in church, but then my friend David Rich called, wanted to know if I needed anything, well I first said no but then I realized he was sincere so Yes I said, so he came in his four wheel drive and we were off to the Shell, the morning biscuit with, egg, cheese and bacon was wonderful, we stopped at the grocery store and I got Max some treats and myself some jelly, wow, I am going to make it.

On the way back to my house we passed a large field covered in the wonderful white snow, it was just perfect, no mark, no footprint, just beautiful and David said to me, “Pastor isn’t that beautiful? That is just the way our sins will look when we get to heaven, as white as snow, new fallen snow.”

That made my day and all has been well since that nice jester on his part, to take me to the store, and see the wonder of God, thanks, David.

Published in: on January 24, 2016 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Snow is Coming

If you live in the south you are never surprised by the snow. You never have the chance to wake up, look out the window and say wow, it snowed last night.

You are much more likely to wake up and say, they were wrong, no snow, now I have to go to work and the material I was supposed to prepare for today I don’t have, why did I believe them, it didn’t  snow and I am dead.

That’s it, I will call in dead this morning, I have used up all of my grandparents, parents, children and near kin, it is me this time, I am dead.

Not only does the media keep us looking for the snow, they start about a week in advance and by the night before we are in a panic and we live in the midst of a panic. Traffic is terrible, there is no place to park at the grocery story, and not even a shopping cart is available.

All the television station have specials on how to drive, how to stay home, how to get ready, get you children in, get your dog in, my dog has his own door, but unless I make him come in he just eats the snow as it falls and I guess in time he would freeze, but I get him in because if I am cold my 100 pound German Shepard is cold, he does not know it, he dose not even care but Max has to come in because:

We know, we have been fully warned, no excuse, get ready Snow is Coming.

Published in: on January 21, 2016 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

What is Wrong

What is Wrong

The ten mile drive from my office to Steve’s house would take almost thirty minutes because of the condition of the unkempt road and all the turns and twist that were required so I had plenty of time to worry.

That is who I was then and to a large degree still am, in spite of my knowledg3e of the Lord and my faith in Him I still worry. I kept trying to think why he would have called and ask me to come out to his home, most of the time they did not want visitors. I think they were self-conscious of the way the house looked.

Not having even a hint of what it could be I traveled down the road to the house as well as down the road to any concern and problem I could imagine Somewhere on that road I left ten years of my life, you cannot believe how old I really am.

I saw the house and Steve standing on the porch, I always believed the vines that grew up the sides and around the walls kept the house together more than the nails in the wood.

He walked out to my car and thus began the long story of a visit to the doctor by his wife and the news that she had cancer and the journey to recover was doubtful, Long, and expensive.

There was no money for treatment, no insurance, and no certain cure even if the funds were available. We prayed, we cried and we prayed all the more, their lives were shattered and my heart was broken.

To shorten the story after a lot of prayer of our church I called a doctor I had known in the Navy, he called someone else, they another and soon a free plan was laid out that just might bring recovery.

When I left the community she had been cancer free for several months, later I received and old fashion letter that said it had been more than six years and all was well.

I ran into Steve at a truck stop on interstate 40 back when I was with the Children’s Homes it was a joyful and happy unexpected reunion. His wife was gloriously well and life was a joy, he wanted to thank me but we both remember that it was from the Lord, not from us.

I left the truck stop wondering why I had to suffer through my weakness, why I just could not put it in the hands that would bring the answer. I am still seeking that, I am find about my eternity but I do still worry about today. Man I need to work on that.

Ivan

Published in: on January 18, 2016 at 10:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

By the Side of the Water

By the Side of the Water

The last night I spent by the Sea of Galilee in Israel I sat in a lawn chair facing out toward the open water.  In the distance you could see the lights of the Nation of Jordan, not very friendly toward Israel, closer in scattered across the dark sea you could see the lights of the fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee.

As I let my mind wonder across that darken water I thought of the time long ago when Jesus stood on that shore. It was on that shore that he called some of his disciple.  From that shore he walked across the sea and calmed the storm for his friends. It was by that shore that he cooked breakfast for his disciples before he left for glory and it was from that shore that he told them where to cast so that they might catch a lot of fish. I think Jesus loved the water.

 On this Monday stand in your heart by the side of the water and cast all your fears into the water. In the time of crisis in our land, when all seem to be so fearful, Let Christ take those fears and cast them to the bottom and leave them there.

Ivan

Published in: on January 17, 2016 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment