Who Is In Charge

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning people from the snares of death.  Proverbs 14:27

It never fails when I am driving down the highway and see a Law Officers car that I don’t take my foot off of the gas and check my speed. Now I am never going over the limit yet the symbol of his power causes me to check my speed.

Our world today needs a good healthy dose of awe for God. God is doing so much to get our attention and still we never check our speed or even take our foot off of the gas.

I believe so much that we see happening today is God’s way of seeking to get our attention. We are paying attention; to everything and everyone except God. I still remember when I entered the Navy how my mother warned me not to forget who I was and to whom I answered. Now and then a, ‘good dose of pay attention and a reminder of who is in charge’ just might keep us out of real trouble.

Ivan

Published in: on August 31, 2016 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who Is In The Boat

There is a story told in the bible when the followers of Jesus, having obeyed him to cross over to the other side of the lake in a boat, fell victims to bad weather and dangerous waters.

In Mark the sixth chapter we find them in the middle of the night straining at the oars in fear of losing both their boat and lives. They cried out to Him and he went to them walking on the lake.

I think I would have jumped out of the boat and thus drowned from shear fear of what I was seeing. Not so for those followers. He told them in verse fifty to, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” With that he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down and all was well.

We could learn a lot of lessons from this story but perhaps one of the best is that when we allow Christ to be in our mist even the worst of storms can be handled.

I really don’t think the greatest miracle here is His walking on the water but rather His bringing peace in the mist of life’s storms. Maybe you are seeking to escape some of the storms of life that you are facing back in the ‘real’ world.  Storms in business, family, finances, and a hundred other ways, your best plan for facing and defeating those storms is knowing that Jesus is with you in your journey.

Learn the lesson of the boat, it’s not the weather outside, it’s the person inside who defeats the storm.

Ivan

 

335 words

Published in: on August 30, 2016 at 11:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Making Life Brighter

 

 

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25

As a Christian, yes even as a minister I have suffered from anxiety. It can be life destroying. It takes away your joy, hopes, and even your desires. Anxiety never brought joy to God’s heart and I can assure you He never created it in my life. I always produced it by my own fears, questions, frustrations, and insecurities.

But a good word can be like a mountain top experience. It is difficult to explain but sometimes the simplest phrase like, ‘I enjoyed that.’ ‘That meant something to me.” “You touched a spot in my heart with that.” and a thousand other statements have served as a cleansing fluid for my soul. When life looks its worst and someone without even knowing says a nice word, shows a bit of interest, or expresses appreciation it can light a fire that burns away the anxiety and creates a new and glorious day.

Be a cheerleader today, you know how, so do it and the world will be sweeter because of you.

Ivan

 

Published in: on August 29, 2016 at 9:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Looser

Looser

 

Everyone who knew him was certain that he was a looser. Couldn’t keep a job, begged for a living, and smelled badly, yes he was a looser.

Even his body was terrible, covered with boils, nasty; you would not have invited him home for Sunday lunch. From what we know of him there is really not much that we can say that would be a compliment.

But when it was all over and done; when all had been said; when the final accounting was taken we find him in the company of God.

Of course you know I am talking about Lazarus in Luke chapter 16. Somewhere in that life of a looser, he met Jesus. We are not told when or how just that he did for in the end his worthless life was paid for by Jesus and there he is in His presence. Maybe part of the story is to teach us that God never sees us as others, He sees us as we can be. Ivan

Published in: on August 28, 2016 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Your Investment

He left his townhouse and decided to walk the blocks around his new ‘billet’. He had spent 36 years in the Navy and now at the age of 55 was on his on and without a job for the first time since he was 19.

Kyle had never married, lived most of his life in the quarters provided by the navy and as a mustang Commander he had lived in the Bachelor Officers Quarters. The years at sea and on navy bases both at home and around the world had given him an opportunity to meet a lot of people but he had only made surface friends.

His only family, a brother, lived more than two thousand miles away and he had not seen him in ten years or more so all of this ‘liberty’ was new to him. He had chosen Buford, SC as his retirement home because of the navy bases and hospital so even this area was a stranger to him.

His retirement was great, money was of no concern, but time; time was a problem.  No morning muster to check, no routine to follow, any daily drills, and schedules left his life an empty vessel.

As he circled the neighborhood he discovered several open lots, almost like parks, but there was nothing there just empty vacant space. The children he saw played in their yards, and they certainly seemed far too small, to do any real playing in.

There was a school in the area, it seemed to be for the younger grades, so he knew that a number of children lived in the area, but where were they when school was out and the school was closed.

After reading about the area and checking with the local parks department he learned that the lots had been left by the developers of the subdivision to be used as public property, parks of some sort but there had never been any money to do anything more than keep them clean and mowed.

Long story made short Kyle reached out to the families in the community and after a number of meetings and a lot of discussion he begin to develop one of the areas as a small softball field along with playground equipment for younger children.

He discovered a couple of guys he had served with living in the area and with their help the project was completed and money was raised for a summer team of college students to oversee the park and keep it open for children all summer long.

Kyle would sit for hours on a bench and watch the children and their families play; he marveled at the joy they shared and found his heart filled with his on quiet joy for having found a project and bringing it to completion.

Is it not amazing how just regular people can make such a difference in the lives of others when they decide to invest them in the needs of someone beside themselves? You don’t have to build a park; you might just visit a lonely person or write a note to a hurting heart. Try it.

Ivan

Published in: on August 25, 2016 at 9:24 pm  Comments (1)  

We Need

In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility.  Titus 2:7

Boy we need a lot of this today.   Now I can’t do anything about another person but I sure can do something about me.

Carl and Jennie was a really neat couple. They had very little of this worlds goods but they had a lot of God in them.

I remember when they went without Christmas one year because Carl had promised the doctor that had cared for their second child that he would have him paid before the New Year. It required a sacrifice but they kept their word.

Now Carl never ran for office, was never an important leader of any organization and his OB in the newspaper was about five lines. But Carl and Jennie left three children who have made a wonderful mark on the lives of others.

One son is a minister, not of a great and large church, but of a church where God called him and where he serves faithfully. Their youngest son runs an auto repair shop and everyone knows that he does great and honest work and he charges a reasonable price. The daughter is married to a local doctor and makes certain that even the elderly feel welcomed and important in their clinic.

I guess you would say that Carl and Jennie were great ‘showers’ of the Work of God.

Ivan

Published in: on August 21, 2016 at 8:48 pm  Comments (3)  

What Others See

But be doers of the word and not hearers only.  James 1:22

All of us know that what we do speaks louder than what we say.

James as he writes this wonderful letter reminds his readers that while he knows we are saved by grace he also knows that it is very difficult for those outside of the faith to understand. He then tells us that our faith and the grace we have should be visible through our actions.

You don’t have to wonder which team a cheerleader is for, all you have to do is watch them, listen to them, and see very clearly which team they are rooting for. Why is it not that way with our Christian faith?

Our words, our activities, our desires, and all that we do that is seen by others should become a wonderful book that others can read of our love and faith in God. It is very hard for people to see our hearts except through our actions. So let it be our desire to be a glowing witness unto others of the ‘grace’ we have received and the ‘faith’ we have in and from Jesus.

Ivan

Published in: on August 18, 2016 at 11:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

He Left a Pathway

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Psalm 37:23

Columbus held out to the very end that it was God who had directed him to the ‘New World ‘. His was a life that found directions and followed them.

In his diaries and other writings Columbus told of dreams and visions that directed him to sail west. He certainly did not know he was going to a new land but he knew that it was west that he needed to sail.

Many people today tell of others who came to America long before Columbus. Maybe they did but the difference in those who came before is that they did not return and bring others. Think of this, he may not have been the first but he was the one that encouraged others to follow, who told of his journey, and who made a number of other trips and left a pathway that others could follow. It was Columbus who held high the banner of a better world, a new land, and a hope with which to fill the dreams of others. Thus they came and this ‘new land’ became the hope and dream of Europe.

I for one am glad that he went back and encouraged my family to come to the new world. I am grateful that in the providence of God I was born in America. I have been on four other continents and in a number of other countries but I have never found any place that I would rather live than in America.

I am not an explorer, I do not carve pathways across mountains and chart journeys through the ocean but I hope that my life has left a pathway that others may follow and in following find a better way to live. By some word or deed a sign post pointing to ‘His way’ has been set in the hearts of people.

Ivan

 

Published in: on August 17, 2016 at 9:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Choosing the Hard Way

If given the choice most people choose the easiest and simplest way to accomplish a task. It certainly makes sense, saves time, and gets you on to the enjoyment of the day. Yet now and then a challenge needs to be faced, a task needs to be done in the best way and an example set for others.

Jesus and His disciples were making the journey to Jerusalem and most people would have chosen to go up the Jericho river valley. It was safer, easier, and provided more availability of food and water.  But Jesus said to His disciples that He needed to go through Samaria.

Now you could just imagine their anxiety when He made this announcement. ‘Lord just look out at that wilderness, that’s not a good choice. Robbers are there, the road is terrible, there is no water and it is just plain old hard.

When I visited Israel I sat on the hillside looking out across the great wilderness of Jericho. Unlike our wilderness; it was barren, filled with great stones, deep sand, hard winds, and heat, unbearable heat. But Jesus knew that at the ancient well of Jacob outside the small village of Sychar a woman would be there in the heat of the day drawing water for her family. This woman needed to meet Jesus.  Her future in this world and her eternal future depended on that meeting.

So Jesus choose the hard way, endured the heat, stumbled over the stones and grew weary of the journey because He knew this worthless woman needed to see her value and discover her potential future. That meeting with Jesus changed her life and in fact changed the future of an entire city.

The next time you are tempted to cut church, not read your bible, skip your prayer time or let the TV entertain your children. Remember this wilderness that Jesus faced for the value of a worthless person. Choose your path carefully, spend your time wisely, and allow your family to enjoy you even if it seems like a wilderness. Who knows it could change a lifetime.

Published in: on August 15, 2016 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mom Had a Good Nose

When I was about 10 Johnnie Barber and I decided that we would smoke a cigar. We each purchased a large Tampa Nugget and went way down in the back of my house behind my dad’s work shop and smoked those cigars as fast as we could.

I mean we did not waste a moment, we puffed, we pulled, we tried to blow smoke out of our noses and to blow smoke rings but most of what we did was coughed and coughed and puffed and puffed. Long before the cigars were gone we were gone.

Johnnie went to his house and me to my house. I was green, sick, dizzy, and in a state of death for sure. The moment I ran in the house my mother said, “Sonny you have been smoking.”  I didn’t bother to answer I just headed to the bathroom and then to my room, I was nearing the pearly gates and they didn’t look too pearly, only looked smoky.

When the sickness finally left I tried my best to figure out how mother knew. I was not smart enough to know that since no one in our family smoked that she could smell me coming up the back walk. But I always waked a bit cautious about my mother for I just knew she had x-ray vision and mind reading skills. Johnnie survived the test of manhood as well and life on Lindsey Street moved forward. By the way God does have x-ray vision and mind reading comes natural to Him.

Published in: on August 14, 2016 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment