Just a Boy Again

I was standing in the checkout line hoping that the lady with one hundred and more items would soon be through; it looked to me like she was trying to purchase something from ever department in the store.

Of course she had coupons, gift certificates, and a due bill and then made a ten minute search for the money she needed to complete her purchase. It was a real experience to watch someone purchase three buggies of items, the clerk wished her a nice weekend and then looked at my three items and smiled, nothing like getting behind Mrs. Russell, and she does that ever week.

I smiled and said she much have a large family plus a lot of money, the clerk laughed and said; she would bring half of it back the next day or so she just liked to shop. We both laughed and the young man behind me said, “Don’t I know you?” I turned and looked at him and had no memory of his face. “Not sure” I said, “I am a Baptist preacher and have preached at a lot of places maybe you saw me somewhere like that.”

He paid for his purchased and followed me to the door, and then he said, “You were Christmas when I was nine.” I looked confused and he went on; my dad died when I was nine and my sister and I had no Christmas that year, you were the pastor at the church down the street and on the day before Christmas you brought gifts and food to our house from your church.

I asked him where this was and when, he told me then the past returned, I remembered, even though it had been more than thirty years a small glimpse of that year returned.

He told me how much it had meant to his family, how his mother had remarried, they had moved and he now had a family of his own; then he reached out and hugged me and said, “I don’t remember your name but I will never forget your voice and that best of all the days of Christmas long, long ago.”

 My age didn’t show as I walked to my car, God had just given me a wonderful gift and I was a boy again just for a moment.  Ivan

Published in: on February 29, 2016 at 11:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Someone to Care

As I visited in the hospital one day I stopped and spoke to the ‘Pink Lady’ who has often helped me when I was trying to locate a patient.

She mentioned that they had a new magazine in the lobby that had a story about my dad which I had written. She got the magazine and turned to the story and said, wait here just a minute; then she walked over to an older lady sitting with what looked like a young adult grandchild.

She pointed to the story, then to me and in a few minutes the lady asked if I would join them. I walked over and introduced myself and sit in the chair across from her and her granddaughter. She pointed to the story and told me that she guessed she would be doing a lot of that in the next several days; it was a story about a man coming to pay his respects to my dad in the funeral home at Jackson.

I asked what had happened and she said that her husband had just died and they were waiting for their pastor and some family members. They had been in the chapel but she was afraid that it would be hard for them to be found so she and her granddaughter had come out to the main lobby where they could be seen.

I expressed my regrets, offered to pray with her, which she seemed pleased that I would then waited until the family began to gather. I returned to the volunteer and expressed my appreciation for her care and gentile behavior way out of the line of duty and she smiled and said, “It is always good to be someone who cares.”

I thought about that as I drove home and wondered how many people she had touched and blessed with her gentle spirit of Christ. Everyone needs someone who cares.  Ivan

Published in: on February 28, 2016 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dad

Dad

Not the traveling to class but the turning of pages left him wise.

The quiet words of the wise are more to be headed than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Ecclesiastes 9:17

Sometimes I think you could put all the words that my father spoke in a gallon jug. He was quiet yet when you reached into him you realized that the silence was not the absence of knowledge but in fact the presence of wisdom.

My father did not have a lot of the formal education that most of us enjoy today. His stopped with the twelfth grade which for his generation was considered very adequate. But the absents of education had nothing to do with the volume of wisdom that he possessed.

His was a cup that overflowed. Some of my best memories are etched in my seeing him reading. It seemed to me that he read everything that had writing on it. What he did not receive in the halls of education he more than made up for it in the pages of the volumes which he read.

Slow to speak, but filled with the wisdom that made each day rich. If I could change a quality of my life it would be that I was quieter, less quick to speak, and more like my dad.

Published in: on February 25, 2016 at 10:22 pm  Comments (2)  

Ice in Germany

I Found Ice In Germany

I have never consider myself a hard person to please, I think most people feel this way about themselves, but I really do have very few things that I really want or need. One of those is ice, yes just plain ole ice like you put in tea or cokes, I really like ice.

When I check in a hotel room the first thing I do is fill up the bucket with ice, that’s it, I am then a happy man. But ice in Germany is very difficult to find. They just don’t have ice in most places.

For the first week I was there I asked at every place we ate for ice, none, nope we have ice cream but not ice water. The refrigerator in most homes do not have freezers, so no ice to be made, no ice for sale in stores, non to be had in a restaurant.

On our last day in Germany Carole and I were in the central part of the city and went for lunch in a nice looking restaurant on the plaza and of course I asked one more time, “Do you have Ice?” “Certainly” he replied and returned with a full glass of ice; wow was I a happy man. I poured my light coke, cost $6, over it and just grinned like the silly old man that I am, happy at last, ice all I wanted, ice. It was wonderful!

Before our lunch arrived I excused myself and went to the restroom, big mistake, big…. When I entered the room all of the men’s facilities were filled to the brim with ice, yes I said ice, all of them. I returned to my table and left all that was left of my six dollar coke and full glass of ice, just wasn’t sure where it came from, just had a whisper of fear, for now I know what they do with ice in Germany and it is not to pour coke over….

Published in: on February 23, 2016 at 11:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

From the Bottom of the Pile

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned to Him and cried out, “Teacher” John 20:16

When I was a boy we played a lot of sandlot ball and no matter what the sport we always started the same way; we let two guys choose sides.

Once we had decided who had first choice the rest was always the same, the best players were picked first and then when we were down to the last two or three someone would say, “You over there and you over there.”

They had to know that no one expected anything from them, in fact it didn’t really matter if they played or not. I suppose you would call it being bottom of the pile, last choice, and really not wanted.

I think Mary must have been a nobody, at least until she met Jesus. When she first met Him and worshiped him the others wanted her out of the room, run off, she was nobody. True she probably had a bad reputation, maybe she was everything people have said she was, and she was at the bottom of the pile. But that first Easter at the tomb of Jesus He called her name. He knew her, she was important to Him.

Maybe you have never been at the bottom of the pile, I have and I know what it is like to have Him call my name. Just think when Jesus spoke to her, when Jesus called her name it was like darkness had turned to light, the sand became water, and despair became hope. Listen He is calling your name.

Published in: on February 22, 2016 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Big Chocolate Cake

A Big Chocolate Cake

Judy was one of those ladies that was always involved but never noticed. If there was work to be done at church she was involved in doing it. Prayers to be prayed, visits to be made, and cakes to cook; Judy was your lady.

Only a few times did anyone ever say anything about her work. Most of the time it went unannounced and for the most part it seemed to be unnoticed.

In time Judy went to be with the Lord and she was not in her regular place, not doing all of the work, and not baking the cakes.

At the very first social a young nine year old child came running to his mother from the food line and asked her “Where is the big beautiful chocolate cake?” It was then that everyone remembered; it was Judy who had made those wonderful cakes and now Judy was gone and so were her cakes.  Maybe the preacher did not notice, maybe even some of the ladies, but a teary eyed nine year old boy sure did notice that her work was not there.

Most good people never receive the good things that should be theirs in this world. But be sure God noticed. He likes Big Chocolate Cakes.

Published in: on February 21, 2016 at 8:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who Failed Leadership 101?

Do you sometimes wonder what happened to leadership? Where did the men and women who understood the importance of moving in the right direction go? What happened to the person who could take a stand that we did not agree with and still at the end of the conversation we would remain friends. When did leadership demand dictatorship?

I remember when I was young and we would go out to the sandlot and get up a ball game that even when we disagreed with something the other person proposed we reached a compromise and we played the game. Today’s leadership has stopped building friends on all sides of the choices, we have determined to be right even if it means leaving the sandlot silent with no shouts of young voices having a great time. I believe it is time to listen, hear the hearts of others, share out own concerns with love, conviction, and reason.

I understand that there are times when we draw a line in the sand, but not over ever issue, not every wish has to be filled and not all the wants have to be put in my bag.

Maybe it is time for our leaders to go to a ball game together, eat a ‘Big Mac’, take their families to Washington and let the wives help build a family of Americans. Maybe a few afternoon of sandlot ball with equal parts of both parties being on the teams would help us realize that we are still one Nation, one People, with the greatest ability in the entire world and we are just about ready to throw it all away because of our selfish attitudes.

I know that there is a group of men in both houses of both parties that meet each week for prayer, let it be our prayer that their numbers will grow and their tribe increase. Turn off the 24 Seven news and spend some time praying for our leaders to pass Leadership 101.

Ivan

Published in: on February 17, 2016 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Will We Say

I had been kneeling at one of the more than 100 crosses, out of the more than 10,000 crosses, bearing the name, Unknown, in the American Cemetery at Normandy and as I rose I saw him in the distance kneeling at the cross of a fallen solider. I did not know him, I could not really see him well, I did not hear the words he spoke, and I did not see the tears that I am sure flowed across his face. I could tell that he was wearing the uniform of the United States Air Force, maybe stationed in Europe I thought, was this his father’s cross, maybe it was a brother, maybe like myself he simply stopped to pray at a grave of his choice. I will never know but that is holy ground and one is apt to simply fall on your knees and weep for those 10,000 plus who never came home.

I was reminded of Private Ryan, from the movie, Saving Private Ryan, as an old man he knelt at the cross of Captain Miller, the CO who led the men ordered by General Marshall himself to find and return Private Ryan to safety for his three brother had been killed in the two days before and Ryan must not be the fourth. Captain Miller had said to Ryan in his final breath of life, “James, Earn This, Earn it.”

Now as an old man he weeps before the grave of the man who saved him and told him how each day he had done his best, been his best. Then with tears flowing he stood and looked at his wife with the simple question, “Have I been a good man? Am I a good man?”

Someday we each will kneel, not before the cross of Calvary, but before the feet of our maker. What shall we say?

(Side Bar) Robert Rodat who wrote and Spielberg who direct Private Ryan did an outstanding job of bringing all of us to our knees and all of us to flowing tears. While this story is fiction, the Borgstrom family of Utah gave four sons in the Second World War, and the Sullivan family of Iowa spent the lives of five sons in keeping our dream of Freedom.

Published in: on February 16, 2016 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Black Monday

All day Monday, the face book page was filled with hurting Americans, news media the same, talk shows like wise, if you were a drop in from some other place you would think this is the unhappiest and worst country in the world to live in, Monday was painted very bleak.

I understand many of the fears and the concerns but as a Christian living in a Christian country I do not understand this kind of view and I do not find any comfort in the way we seek to find and answer and a solution.

Remember we are Christians, God gave us the answer, If my People…. Look it up . . . . .  . . . . . . 2 Chronicles 7:14 after all we do call ourselves by His Name, if not maybe you need to read; Deuteronomy 28:25 – cause you to be defeated.

We could be receiving what we have asked for by our life style and morals. Think about that.

Let us get off of our soap boxes and get on our knees…

Ivan

Published in: on February 16, 2016 at 1:03 am  Comments (2)  

A Valentine Letter

As I closed my front door to make the short walk over to my church office I noticed an out of state car parked in our cemetery parking area. Having some extra time I decided to meet the people in the car. As I rounded the church where the cemetery was in clear view I notice only one person standing by a grave about half way down the cemetery.

He noticed me as I approached and turned and introduced himself to me. He looked to me to be about my age, at that time in my late thirties; I spoke my name and told him that I was the pastor of the church.

Noticing the grave where he stood I asked if it was a relative, “No he said, just an old friend.” Seeing the age on the marker I said, at 23 not very old, “No”, he said. “Just from a long time ago.”

With this tears welled up in his eyes and I asked if he wanted to talk about it; now the tears began to wash down his face, he told me of their having dated in college and how when he had left for Nam she promised to wait for him. After a long pause he said I got the letter that she had been killed in a car wreck on Valentine’s Day. He said he was deep in the jungle when the letter from her parents reached him; he couldn’t come home and by the time he left Nam her family had moved back to Florida and this was his first visit to the grave.

I discovered that he had never married, remained in the army and was planning on retiring in a few year and just wanted to see her grave before he returned to Texas where he was stationed. I told him to take all the time he needed, put my hand on his shoulder and thanked him for serving our country and left for my office.

He called me and said, “Preacher does the hurt ever go away?” I stopped, shook my head no then responded, “It gets better and this visit will help, but true love in never forgotten, never.”

Ivan

 

Published in: on February 14, 2016 at 10:22 pm  Leave a Comment