I will Learn

You Help Me and I Will Learn

I met the boys one afternoon as they were playing basketball on a goal in my back yard. We talked a bit and I told them if they would come to church on Sunday Morning we would have a team and play on Monday night.

They wanted to know if they could get uniforms so I went to the store purchased shorts for all of them and then got some matching shirts and ironed number on the front and back. I let them choose their numbers, to them it was like getting a new car, man they were happy and I was in heaven.

They really took to coming to church, they even came on Wednesday night and there they would be on the front row looking at me like here we are tell us something. The first time they attended on Prayer Meeting night I was asking for prayer request and then I called on one of my men to lead in prayer. His name was Jack.

Well before he could start praying a boy on the front row named Jack looked up at me with fear but also determination in his eyes and said, ‘I don’t know how to do that but if you will help me then I will learn.’

That was one of those heavens on earth moments. I smiled and explained to Jack that there was someone else in the room with his name and it was that man that I was asking to pray but I told him how proud I was of his willingness and told him to listen as the ‘other’ Jack pray and he would begin to learn.

After our older Mr. Jack got through with his prayer and we got through wading in the water provided by all of our tears because of the bravery, innocence, and desire of our ‘new’ Jack I explained to him how great a kid he was and how I knew that God had sent him into that room to teach all of us how to pray.

That was a moment you let God write in your heart and when you are old it pops to the top and becomes a joy of life that makes a dull day sweeter.

Ivan

Published in: on July 31, 2016 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Am Getting Old

I Am Getting Old

I am certainly getting old, I know that but sometimes it hits me like a bolt of lighting. I know my age; I know that I can remember some events from the Second World War. Like the soldiers running down our street going to their training at the Cotton Grove Road airport, the flag which hung in our church with the pictures and names of all the young men serving in the war pinned to the stars.

I remember when my cousins, brother in law and future brother in law all went off ‘to war’; I remember when they came to tell us that Maury Evans would not be coming home and so many other moments.

I remember when cokes were a nickel and it cost a dime to go to the ‘movies’, popcorn was a nickel and we always saw two movies, shorts, cartoons, and news reels. Of course I remember the Korean War,Vietnam, and all the other conflicts.

I remember that we took typing in high school on manual typewriters, only beer came in cans, gas was less than a quarter and I played outside all day.  I remember when Johnnie Barber and Betty Upton were children because I too was a child, when Lindsey Street was unpaved, and our house had neither air conditioning nor a television.

But old, surely it cannot happen to me, my grandfather and grandmother were old, Mr. and Mrs. Evans were old, but me, no way. How could that have happened, it just cannot be so. But Sunday I saw a picture that Carole took of me from the back walking through the Native American Museum Washington, wow that is an old man.

I don’t have to see his face; I don’t need to be up close I can see from here, he is old.  I can also see that it is me, at first I wanted to believe it was my dad, but it is not it is really me. There I am in the form that life has now taken me.

No wonder young people look at me with suspicion when I get out of the car and the car hop at Sonic looks twice when she comes to my window. They must all wonder ‘Who let him out?’

I think I will stop now, maybe take a nap, maybe have another glass of tea, for sure the mirrors in my house must come down and all with cameras are forbidden in my presence. I am old and sometimes it really hurts to know it.

Ivan

Published in: on July 27, 2016 at 10:44 pm  Comments (2)  

I Am Getting Old

Published in: on July 27, 2016 at 10:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rachel

I really didn’t know Rachel, well I did know who she was and we had talked a few times after church but it was very surface. I did remember how she had told me of her love for Jesus and how wonderful it was when she was saved.

It is always such a joy to share that moment of awakening that takes place when a person meets Jesus as their savior. She and her husband attended the church like most member, Sunday mornings, missing about half the time and making it about half the time.

He was a very driven man, saw everything from his point of view and was so strong in his opinions that most people just avoided talking with him. She just stood in the shadow, smiled or bowed her head and silently moved out of the area. You have met a thousand people like him; the conversation is always in one direction, his or it is so challenged that no one wishes to continue.

At some point they drifted out of the church, I left and years went by without my hearing anything from them or about them. Then early one morning I received a phone call and Rachel’s husband was in great distress and tears.

He told me that she had killed herself and left him with the task of taking care of all the duties of death. The tone and direction of the conversation did not surprise me, it sounded so like him. The tears were not for Rachel and her broken heart and torn mind that had led to this tragic event they were all about him, his duties, the cost and all the trouble she had left him with. The bottom line of the call was, “Knowing she killed herself and is now in hell I wondered if you would come and say a prayer at the grave one day next week when I can have the time to bury her?” I started to challenge his word but decided I would have a better chance at the grave but assured him that I would come to their city and have the grave side service for Rachel.

I have never been good at funerals and always wondered just what to say and of course this service was going to be difficult, but with God’s help I would get through and this too would pass. Time came and I joined the dozen or so people who came to the cemetery and stood with me at the grave. Her husband was strong in his opinion of her current residence and let everyone in hearing range know his strong feelings.

I read some scripture of the assurance of God’s grace, prayed, said a few words as I understood them about Rachel and then zeroed in on this thought, ‘Would you like to be remember and judged by your worst moment?’ I paused a long time then told about Rachel sharing with me her moment of salvation. Assured those who would listen of the forgiveness and grace of God and then I closed with a prayer thanking God that His children, even when they were wrong were still His children.

The husband left the grave without speaking, I still have never heard from him. Maybe, someday he will understand the love and salvation of God.

If you are reading this outside the USA please let me hear from you  inraley@yahoo.com

Published in: on July 26, 2016 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wake Up America

A Spiritual Awakening in America

No matter who leads the nation if God is not in control there is no future. One thing about our system of government we are able to take change in leadership without falling apart. Our system allows us to get mad, to change parties, and to make great pronouncement. However rarely does any real change take place.

I join you and others across our country and pledge my prayers to all of those who will be elected to serve in positions of leadership. I pray not for a political change but a spiritual awakening in America.

We are too divided, too polarized, and too angry to become the Nation we should be in this world of the final time and coming kingdom. We need God.  We see through the elements that God is still in control, that He is not only the designer of this world He is also the judge of this world.

Let us as individuals bring back the America that put ‘In God We Trust” on our money, that proclaim for all to hear when we give our pledge of allegiance, ‘One Nation under God.

Our greatest hope and our greatest weapon in doing this is the life that each of us live as Christians, as men and women of real character. Let us not be angry with one another, let us instead bring others to Jesus not by what we say and preach but by what we do and how we live. Let us be salt to our nation and light to our world and let the us in that be ourselves.

Ivan

Published in: on July 25, 2016 at 10:22 pm  Comments (1)  

No One Cared

No One Cared

He wondered how it would feel to walk, to stand up, have your head so far off the ground. The few times someone had held him up it was very frightening. He preferred his mat on the ground and his head close to the ground as well.

He had never walked, not in all of his thirty-eight years. He remembered his father yelling at him to walk when he was very small, holding him up and demanding that he walk, then letting him go and his lifeless legs crumbling beneath him.

That was a long time ago. His father and an older brother had brought him to the pool and just left him when he was very young. He was younger than most of the children now playing around the pool. Those years were dim, almost unreal.

The kind lady who had taken him home on the third day she found him still by the pool, begging for something to eat and crying with tears greater than the pool, had died a couple of years later, but those had been good years. She kept him clean, fed him enough to grow on and brought him often to the pool hoping that he might be healed.

He had not been healed and she had died. He crawled now more than half a mile to get to the pool; his legs were covered with scars and now calloused with the years of moving across the stone street. No one notice him now, he was a fixture like the stone pillars around the pool. The children played around him, the people moved him away from the edge so that they could get in first, but no one really noticed him.

He understood the rules but wonder why the rules? Why the first one in and why only when the water was stirred. They said it was the touch of an angel but in all of his years he had never seen an angel. But he still came, what else was there to do? Not coming meant no hope and without hope there is no life.

He had never seen this man before, he came with directness toward him and many others followed after him, who was he, and what could he want with him a lame beggar? He said the strangest thing, “Sir, would thou be made whole?” No one had ever called him sir; no one had ever asked him what he wished for, who was this man?

Such a strange question, why else would he be here if he did not want to be made whole, what was this; was he and his friends going to make fun of him? ‘I have no one!” he said, “no one to put me in the water when it stirs.”   The man looked through his soul and said, “Pick up your mat and walk.” What was he to do? What? Walk of course.

(Of course you know the story from John 5:1-9) If you are reading this outside the USA, please email me and let me know how you found us. inraley@yahoo.com

Published in: on July 24, 2016 at 9:05 pm  Comments (2)  

I Know

I Know

O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me. Psalm 71:17

I know what it is like to be young, excited, a daydreamer of days to come and events to unfold, to march with other young men, to wear the uniform of my country. I know what it like to stand before others, hold Your book in one hand and use the other to point to Your glory.

I know what it like to grow older, to see what part of my hair that did not turn loose, turn gray. To have my body say no when my heart so wanted to say yes. I understand what it is like to see your days numbered and to know that nothing can stop the clock from ticking forward.

I know that You have me in Your sight and I will never be moved from Your presence, thank You Lord for loving me and allowing me to know just a tassel on Your garment.

Ivan

 

Published in: on July 21, 2016 at 10:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

He Will Prevail

He Will Prevail

As I drove back from Nashville Saturday I was in a rush to get home to attend the funeral of a relative of one of my church family members. My thoughts were driven by the fact that I had not known about the death and had made no response.

There is no good way to express that regret, just get there when you can and share your concern by your presence. I have learned a long time ago that it is not so much what we say as it is that we are there. Having stood many times on both sides of that line I understand it from the friends who wish to express their care and the family who receives it.

I have buried both of my parents, all three of my sisters and many others, the touch of a hand of care, the gentle hug, the eyes, those are the actions that make the moment a bit better.

As we began our services on Sunday we heard of the deaths of the three officers in Baton Rouge, so each word that I spoke, each point that I made was wrapped with the sorrow for the families, the hurt and hate in our nation and the common belief shared by so many that there is no healing for our sick country.

As a Christian and a minister I know better, none of this is a surprise to God. He will not vanish in despair and He will not pass away. He will prevail.

If you are reading this from outside the USA, please send an email and let us know how you found us. inraley@yahoo.com

Published in: on July 19, 2016 at 12:22 am  Leave a Comment  

There was Once

There was Once

There once was a civilized world, sure we had problems, wars, and hard times but most of us felt safe, our homes were safe, we traveled with safety, our children dreamed of wonderful day ahead. Then came 9/11 and for the last 15 years I have watched my old age spent in fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and trouble.

I was in New York the week after 9/11 and even with the sorrow I still saw hope and a future in the hearts of people, but like the Mother Goose rhyme Humpty Dumpty, sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall and no one, not all the king’s horses and all the king’s men have been able to put ole Humpty together again.

The men in blue are being shot like disgraced citizens and I am not sure that the king’s men even care.

I remember the wrong years when I was a boy, but I really thought those feelings and fears were gone. My family was not a part of that, my parents taught us to care and respect all people, but now no one respects anyone, not even themselves.

When I left for the Navy my mother stood on a stool and looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t forget who you are.”

I think God would like to bend down to our size and say, you have forgotten who you are and to whom you belong.

Humpty is sure broken and none of the king’s men will be able to put him together again, only God can save us now.

Ivan

If you are reading this in another country. let me hear from you and how you found us. inraley@yahoo.com

Published in: on July 17, 2016 at 9:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

When Life Was Simple

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

If you are reading this outside the United States email me and let me know how you found us. inraley@yahoo.com

Published in: on July 14, 2016 at 12:02 am  Leave a Comment