Pleased or Displeased

Pleased or Displeased

When I was a boy we played a game called ‘Pleased or Displeased’ it was a fun little game in which each person would say if they were happy or not and then the person would ask what it would take for them to be happy and they would always say something silly like ‘I would be pleased if Ivan would walk with Betty around the outside of the house.’ So Betty and I would walk around the house, big deal, but it was fun and we all had a chance to make someone do something special.

But life is really not that simple today and I see so many people who are not pleased. You can tell by the way they drive, they are unhappy; their voice can be a giveaway, even the way they walk.  If you know a person well you can tell by their eyes, ‘they are not happy.’

We live in such a wonderful world and such a great country. My house is heated and cooled; in fact I have used both on the same day. My bed is soft, the TV gets so many stations that by the time I flip through it is time to get up. The doctor is down the street, I even have a membership in a Chopper service and they will take me to the hospital in Nashville if it is needed. Not bad. My bathroom is inside, I have too many clothes, and my health for my age is just about right. Is everything as I would like for it to be, of course not, but when I stand and gaze into the ‘Far off country’ I see so many people who have nothing of the things I count as common. In Africa, no floors in the house, water five miles away, and doctors, who knew. The same was true in Central and South America by their standards I am a rich man.

Now in truth this is not what brings me real pleasure, yes these things all contribute, but what gives me real pleasure and real peace is that I know God loves me and that His Son gave Himself for me. Now that is worth an eternity.



Published in: on September 29, 2016 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Couple of Things

A Couple of Things

I received a note from a lady yesterday thanking me for what she say ‘was a beautiful and meaningful wedding’ for her daughter and son in law some 24 years ago, 1992. She also went on to thank me for the funeral service I had for her mother 18 years ago, even quoting some of the things which I had said that gave her comfort and helped with the tough time that we all have when we must say goodbye to our loved ones.

I read the note several times and could not help but wonder what event had occurred that would cause her to search for my address and send me the note after so many years. I do not know what it did for her but it sure did make my day, thanks it was a lovely thing for you to do.

Another thing of importance is that today Wednesday, September 28 is my daughter Sandra’s birthday. She is one of those daughters that everyone would love to have. She is smart, well spoken, knows her own heart and loves her Lord and family. I remember the first day she went to school; she came home and said that she was glad that, that was over. I told her that she would have to go back the next day. She looked at me with great heartache and said that I had told her only that she had to go the one day; she didn’t know anything about having to go on and on, and on.

Needleless to say she not only went on to the first grade but went all the way through until she received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree. She, her husband Bill, and son Isaac are like all of my children a real joy and enough of a reason to feel that I have done something right in this life.

Happy Birthday Sandra and stop spoiling Isaac, after all he is in college.

Love and all,


Published in: on September 27, 2016 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

How Do I Judge

How Do I Judge?

And He told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because one’s life is not the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15

Looking back to my boyhood days I do not remember this being a problem.  I never remember making a judgment about a person based on their job or where they lived. But of course most of the people I knew lived around me, attended the same church and they all had about the same in possessions and our homes and income was very much alike.

After I entered the Navy I became aware of this judgment and it has been difficult at times to not judge my success on the size of the church, salary, and so many unimportant things.

For many years I always considered myself a failure because I had so little compared with others.  By the way ladies, be reminded that many men judge themselves by their salary and success.  How large the home is they provide for you, the ‘things’ they are able to purchase and all the other things that in time will not matter and in fact will be left behind. Help them overcome this, and to understand that your love for them is not in things, power, and positions but in whom they are and how they love you. No one on this earth can do this so well for a man as his wife; you are his dream for living and you hold such great power in this journey of his life.

It has taken me almost a life time to learn this truth, to be able to accept myself for who I am and to whom I belong and not by the ‘toys’ I have gathered in my journey.

Now a note from a child I taught, a person I pastored, a friend I have walked with is worth more than all the bank accounts and all the ‘things’ life has gathered around me. I am a blessed man to have met and been a part of so many people and their lives both in joy and sorrow. After all I live and serve in Byrdstown that makes life beautiful. Thank you Lord.


Published in: on September 26, 2016 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

He Noticed

He Noticed

She had lived alone for a very long time. Her last relative had died more than 20 years earlier and few if any people even knew that she was alive. No one came to visit, the phone seldom rung, and her sofa had not been used for a number of years.

Now she was sick and life was fleeing but there was no one who knew and no one who cared. Brittany a twelve year old girl scout knocked on her door and hearing a faint ‘come in’ she opened the door and step into a dark stale entrance. She saw the small, frail woman sitting alone by the window in the living room.

She spoke softly and said, “Come in child, what I can do for you?” Brittany moved cautiously into the room and told her that she was selling Girl Scout Cookies. The lady nodded and asked her the price of a box, Brittany answered and watched as she opened the bag on the table beside her and took out the money.

It seemed to take her a very long time. They talked a minute and Brittany left. The next day she remember to old lady and went back to visit, this happened on a regular basis for the next several months and Ms Morton discovered a wonderful friend in the young girl.

Brittany would sometimes bring her flowers and always asked if she needed for her to do some chore before she left. MS Morton would always hug her and say that the nurse who came three times a week would bring her everything she needed.

Sometime Brittany would cry all the way back to her house thinking about how sad it must be to live all alone. In time Brittany visited to discover the door ajar and MS Morton on the floor deceased.

When the state packed up her belongings they found a note where she had said that her greatest moments in life had been those spent with a twelve year old girl name Brittany. The world never noticed the loving spirit of Brittany, but MS Morton noticed and so did God.



Published in: on September 25, 2016 at 9:54 pm  Comments (2)  

Thank You

Did You Say ‘Thank You’?

Do you have an Attitude of Gratitude? When I was a small boy I was taught to always express my gratitude. To say Thank You!

Mother would always ask me when someone had done something for me, ‘Did you say thank you?’ I believe it was a measure of goodness to my mother.

When you begin to measure what you like about people an attitude of gratitude will be on your list. I have worked with people who did not know the word, ‘thank you’ and some of them have had a lot of lovely qualities but without gratitude they always came across stiff, selfish, and unreasonable. Gratitude like love can cover a multitude of wrongs. When what you do is appreciated and people say so it really makes a difference. Your heart is warmer, your feelings glow, and your gratitude begins to show. Remember that gratitude without expression is not gratitude at all.

Work to see how many people you can say ‘thank you’ to today. It just might make others smile and you nicer.


Published in: on September 22, 2016 at 10:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hurt is Real

Hurt Is Real

This was a new world for Richard, as new as if he were in some foreign land. He got out of his car, noticed that on the outside it looked better than any on the lot, but he knew that under the steel and fiberglass it was being held together more by prayer and will than anything.

He use to get it serviced as soon as he expected a problem, now it was when it would not go any further and he scraped the money together. It had been a really upscale car, but then he did spend most of his time in it running from appointment to appointment but the appointments had ended almost two years ago and now he just cleaned and washed his car himself each week. What else did he have to do?

Inside the state employment office he took a number and waited. The company he had invested twenty years of his life had made a mistake which cost them all of their assets and him and another thousand people their jobs. Sure they had managed to give him a reasonable severance package, name of other companies in his business, the car and his 401, at least the part that was left after the market fell.

The package was spent; insurance on the family gone, car dying, and he believe he was next on the list. He had tried all the places he knew to try, but the kids who had interview him just looked at him like he was some kind of left over relic from the past. Not even sixty yet and already old, that’s what he thought.

The lady at the state office who interviewed him said that she understood that as a medical salesman his chances of finding any kind of job just almost didn’t exist. There were far too many others like him, walking the street, looking for a job.

He considered going back to school and getting his teachers certificate but the local principal had warned him that there were three people in line for every job. He checked out the medical training schools, they just knew he would be great and after investing twenty thousand dollars with them he would be into the market big time. But his friends in the field told him that only about half of the graduates got a job in their trained field and that the pay was nothing close to what the school had said. He left the office wondering where to go next, maybe home; at least there he was still wanted and needed.

He drove by their church as he came into their neighborhood and once again felt the greatest pain of all.

After twenty years of being a part of that family no one had ever mentioned his hurt and lost ness. He talked to the pastor, he said he would pray for him, and Richard knew that God did answer prayers, but there, in his home of worship, no warmth, no assurance, not even an invitation to dinner for him and his wife.

He wasn’t sure what he would do next, they could reverse mortgage their home, and maybe it would be enough to get him to the end. Everyone said things were getting better but at 710 Cole Street this was not even close to being true, not even close. Hurt is real, so real and sometimes it seems to never end. Ivan

(In honor of a hurting nation and all the real people who know that Hurt is Real.)

Published in: on September 21, 2016 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who Are You Voting For

Who Are You Voting For

I think I get this question about ten times each day; I will give you my standard answer, guess and you will be half right for sure.

But I will tell you what I am doing, I am praying, several times each day and always one of those times is at 8:00 P.M. Central for one minute. I understand there are thousands of people praying all across the country at that same time, why don’t you join us?

Our nation is broken, our system is blocked, and our middle class of people are hurting. For example I have two grandchildren who finished college and still are looking for ‘real work’. It is not that what they are doing is unimportant, it is, but the jobs are like those we could get out of high school.

Another grandson finished college and because of ROTC he has a job and his salary is like a college graduate would expect. But if we carry out the plans of downsizing our military in a couple of years he will be looking for the service jobs which our nation has starting calling career opportunities. It has been my experience that those jobs unless they are in management, are really intended for part-time and students who wish to work.

Friends no matter who you plan to vote for you had better spend a lot of time in prayer for our nation; otherwise the America you and I grew up in will not exist.

Get on your knees and put your heart in God’s hand and pray for a REVIVAL.



Published in: on September 20, 2016 at 11:35 pm  Comments (1)  

Let the War End

Let Him Make it to the End

He looked at all the food on the table and the tears would not leave. He listened as his nephew said the prayer and the tears still came.

He excused himself walked out of the kitchen door into the back yard pulled his pipe out of his pocket, stopped a moment and lit it then walked to the edge of the yard and sit down on the bench he had put there when he had been a young man and tears never came.

He looked back toward the house; he had lived there for a long time, in fact, a life time. It was from that house that he had left for the Navy, flight school, and Vietnam. It was in that house that both of his parents had died while he was gone.

They never knew that he was a ‘guest’ of the North Vietnam army. Those years had aged them, crushed them, and before the terror ended they were taken in a twist of events called an accident.

He remember those five years of his own personal terror, the lost of faith, the regaining of faith and the desire to make it to the end, no matter how long that would take, he would make it to the end.

His sister had learned three weeks after their parent’s death that he was somewhere in a place called Hanoi, alive, and hopefully if all the diplomatic chess games worked with America and the enemy he would come home.

That had been forty years and more ago yet that first day seemed to him like only this morning. The house was empty then; his sister and her husband had kept it, repaired it, but left it vacant for the day he would return.

He tried marriage but was terrible at it; He loved but never accepted the love of his wife. No children, no success he had just lived in the house worked at the simplest of jobs he could live with and made it one day to the next.

For the rest of the world that war was long forgotten, the enemy now friends, and the pains of those five years not believed by most and considered deserved by some, but for him in the deep of his night he heard the silent sounds of that cell, smelled the filth of the place, and saw the hate of those who held him.

He still felt the pain of bones unset and deep cuts untreated, to him the night never really ended, the prison was never left and he had yet to make it to the end. All that food on the table that his sister, her children and grandchildren had cooked was wonderful but for a moment he remembered the empty bowls that were shoved under his door and the hard dark bread placed in them that was to serve as the meal of the day.

Lt. Searcy Belton, USN, never left his prison, never made it to the end. The price he paid was not in years but in a lifetime. Unlike the story book tales that always end with ‘they lived happy ever after’ his book never ended.

Somehow in some way we ask our Heavenly Father to heal his wounds when he greets him in glory. Ivan


Published in: on September 19, 2016 at 10:52 pm  Comments (2)  

What God Wants

Of all the families in our small rural church they were by no stretch of the imagination the wealthiest. The father worked on a farm for a large land owner, his home provided with the job was small, maybe 1200 sq. feet. The family of five lived in every inch of the house, no space was wasted and most of it was used for a number of purposes.

For example the family room as we would call it was also the living room, the dining room, and when company came it served as the guest bedroom. Small but filled with people and no space wasted.

The family car was a pickup truck, boys in the back, Dad, mom, and daughter in the front seat. It ran most of the time but sometimes we had to help them jump or push it off. It never seemed to be a bother to them; they just moved on along and never missed a service at church or event at school. When one came, they all came.

One day as I was walking through his fields with him I asked him how he managed to always keep such a positive outlook and how did he keep the children so contented when they attended school with other who seemed to have so much?

He laughed and said you know pastor what God ask of us is not complicated, in fact it is rather simple. God wants for us the very best and that is not what most people are seeking for; God wants us to be happy, stay in touch, and say thank you. We do that and the joy overshadows all that some might say we do not have, we are happy because we wish to be, we keep in touch with God because we enjoy the friendship, and we are always thankful.



Published in: on September 18, 2016 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  



I recently had a dream of my mother standing on our back porch at 246 South Lindsey Street calling me home for supper. Her voice was like I Last heard it on May 5, 1977. I woke half way believing that I would see her standing in my room. I will always know that voice. Jesus said that His voice is like that to each of us who know Him. We hear it, follow Him, and will forever belong to Him. No power can change that. You don’t have to worry about His not calling you for like my mother I never missed a meal; she always remembered her son and Jesus will always remember you.



Published in: on September 15, 2016 at 10:29 pm  Comments (1)