What to Do

The year is closing and nothing we can do will stop it. The New Year is approaching and likewise, we are helpless to hold it off. So what shall we do?

For 2016 we can only ask our heavenly Father to forgive all of the things we should have done but left undone. Not enough time, got started too late, didn’t plan well, spent more on ourselves that we had planned so we had to cut back in the gifts we would have liked to make, and the list goes on as long as you can stay on your knees.

For 2017 begin right now by giving it to Lord, take out a calendar of the year and right now write across each month I give this month to Jesus.

Put a mark on the Sundays in January and give each of them to Christ, see a birthday, a special event, pledge to write a card expressing your love and appreciation for the couple or individual.

Plan some family time, some vacation, something fun, and each time ask the Lord to direct the project and to prepare you to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Look at your budget and ask the Lord what you should do about your giving in 2017.

You know I think we are off to a good start, now make it real, make it happen as you follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, not just on Sunday but on all the days of 2017.

See you in church Sunday.

Ivan

 

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

Worship Christmas Day

Christmas Day Service

I am so pleased that we had our worship service on Christmas Day. I cannot tell you how blessed I was, Shirley Scott and Judy Sterns open our service with a powerful song, then we enjoyed our people singing followed by Breanna and Bailey Amonett in a beautiful time of three great songs, wow we were ready, we shared the message, then as we observed the Lord’s Supper Cathy Mullins did three songs to fit that beautiful service, I was so blessed.

Last night I received a number of emails telling me how they were blessed and how God had really spoken to them in the service.  Some shed tears, some smiles of joy, others reminders of other days and loved ones gone on before them.

Thank you First Baptist Family for supporting the service and providing our church with the joy of Christmas Day.

I am sure that across our area so many churches had the same blessed event as we did, God seemed so real, the troubles of this life so covered by His blood and the joy of His promise of life forever.

We close 2016 on a grand note; we open 2017 on a grand hope.

Ivan

Published in: on December 26, 2016 at 10:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas Eve

Well it is here, that last day before Christmas, the malls are open, and the stores are hoping for a great day in retail, the children are delighted that Santa will be here as the night falls on this day before Christmas.

I have always like to purchase at least one gift on this day, it just seems the right thing to do; I know many of you are ready for it to all be over but I say enjoy the day, eat an apple, watch a ball game, take a nap, tell the children a great story, it is the only day we have just before Christmas and it too will soon be but a shadow.

Carole and I are going out to dinner with some friends tonight and then to bed waking tomorrow to attend our worship service with our friends and family at First Baptist.

It will be a beautiful service for it is the birthday of The King.

Be sure to make room for the worship hour on Christmas, it will provide a good break and Jesus will be blessed that you would celebrate His Birthday in an hour on His birthday.

Tuck the children in, maybe read the story of the King first, then let them wake you before the sun in order to give the shouts of excitement that Christmas is here and Santa has paid them a visit.

Have a blessed day and we will see you at church at 11 AM.  If you can’t attend then tune in on one of the five FM stations or hook up your computer by going to www.kingofkingsradio.com

Published in: on December 23, 2016 at 10:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

His Christmas of 1954

His Christmas 1954

From a friends heart, his warm memories of Christmas 1954. He wrote this a couple of years ago after he had read my Christmas of 1954 – Well Done

I remember 1954.  There were many needs. We were one of those many.  But I remember the love we shared at Christmastime.  Gifts were almost non-existent.  But we had food from the cellar, put up from the large garden Mom and the boys worked.  Bad times. But good times too. Know what I remember most?  Being thankful for the warm wood stove in the living room. That bedroom with the snow blowing through the cracks was mighty cold.  A body appreciates the blessings of today  a bit more when, In 1954,  from the light of the moon shining through the bedroom window, he saw (and felt) the snow blowing from just below the window sill.   But even then, we were blessed and I knew it. Know what I miss most?  Mom.  And on the really difficult days, and there are still a few, I long to be held by her and squeezed as she often did, yes, as late as 1954.

 

Published in: on December 23, 2016 at 1:50 am  Leave a Comment  

It Feels Good Tonight

David loved Christmas! Even though this was his first Christmas he had fallen in love with it at first sight.  The light, everywhere there were lights, the music, the food, what was not to like, even the shoppers, it was a wonderful time and he enjoyed each moment.

He stood to the side inside the store watching the children lined up to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas, they were excited, some bashful, some cried and many of them hugged the white bearded man and ran quickly back to their parents.

He could see Bobby asking Santa for a remote controlled fire truck with a long ladder on the back. He saw to the side in a crowd of parents Bobby’s mother trying to get Santa’s attention and shaking her head no. But no matter what Santa suggested Bobby came back to the fire truck.

David watched her count out the money for the picture the girl handed her of Bobby and Santa; it seemed to David that it had taken most of her money. She clutched the picture, placed it in her bag and followed as Bobby drug her to the stack of Remote Controlled Fire Trucks in the center aisle.

He saw her looking with almost tearful eyes at the $69.95 price on the sign and then gently direct Bobby to another part of the store.  David, got the attention of a clerk, gave her a box with the fire truck in it and handed her a large box of Logos; He asked if she could get it wrapped in a hurry and she assured him it would be done in a flash.

With the package in hand he went out to the front of the store and asked the Santa there who was collecting funds for something, to give the box to the lady coming out with the small boy in tow, with that he placed a $10.00 bill in the pot and stood against the wall of the building.  Santa handed the box to the lady and she jumped as though she was afraid, “Not to worry Miss this is a gift from Santa, please take it but you can’t open it until Christmas morning.” She started to talk, but Santa said, “On your way now Miss, Santa is very busy, Merry Christmas and Ho, Ho, Ho”

David smiled as he watched the mother and son looking at the wrapped gift as they walked toward the car. Not a big thing he thought, it won’t change the world, and no one will know a year from now, but it sure does feel good tonight.

 

Ivan

Published in: on December 21, 2016 at 9:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas 1954

I was a high school student selling Christmas items door to door that senior year.  I was unprepared for what I saw when the door was opened. A one room house, filled with the smell of smoke from the open bucket of burning coals. Around the wall were six small children, dirty, poorly dressed and fed, eating bread dipped in syrup, using the tops of the syrup cans for plates?

I spoke to the lady, started to mention what I was selling, but paused long enough to catch a glimpse of the despair, poverty, and hopelessness of the moment.  I told her I was with Santa and wished to know what she needed for Christmas. She looked at my young white face in a tone of shock and uncertainty.  I said, “I really am, I would really like to know what you need for Christmas.” That was the start of one of the best Christ Seasons I shall ever know.

I entered the house with caution and some reservation. The children looked at me with wide eyes of wonder.  A small one came and hugged my leg.  I was surprised and a bit shaken. Remember this was West Tennessee in the fifties.  It was a different world, (wrong), but different. I am sometimes surprised that God did not remove all of us for our actions and attitudes. That is a message for another day. God is merciful even when we are not.

The mother said they did not have anything in the house to eat and very little coal left. Since I was 16, I was more interested in why there was no tree and no Christmas decorations. Time would answer that question. I said I knew where to get food and I thought I could get some coal.

I raided our home at 246 South Lindsey Street for food, got coal from the place where my father worked and headed back to the, smoke and children filled one room of a house. This was going to be a different Christmas!

I had worked hard that Christmas planning to make enough money to purchase a sport coat that I had seen Rock Hudson wear in a movie. It had leather patches on the elbows and I liked that coat.

I got a small tree from back of my house, some lights from my brother in law, purchased some other items for the tree and made my way to the New York store where I knew I could get some great toys. My father’s 48 dodge was filled to overflow as I parked in front of my now familiar new friend’s home.

They popped through the door like a coke being shaken when they heard me close the car door. Never had so many hands clutched so many packaged. The mother stood and smiled in a wondering way at the then slim, tall, very white boy. Her name was Marilee. I asked what she wanted for Christmas and she said quietly, “I’ve got it.”

It was cold that December day in 1954, cloudy, dark, everywhere except over that small house with smoke coming out of the open top of a window and six bright, beautiful children all speaking at once in wonder at what was in the packages. There might even have been a small heavenly light over its roof.

Herman Lindsey, owner of the New York store had told me to come back if I needed anything else. I noticed that the total he charged for the toys was a lot less than I expected. I went back in the store and asked him if he had some things to cook in and also a stove that would stick out the window so the house would not be so full of smoke.  He said for me to come back the next day and he would see what he could gather.  That next day we loaded his truck with a bed, several mattresses, cooking items, and a brand new stove with a chimney for the window.  This time the entire street turned out to help us unload the truck. Mr. Lindsey and I walked from the house with a bit of spunk in our step. It had been a great Christmas and it was only December 23rd.

I thanked Mr. Lindsey, gave him what money was left then turned and hugged him around his neck. I learned later that Mr. Lindsey returned with his truck loaded with toys and gave them to children up and down the street on Christmas Eve. I also realized later that Herman Lindsey was Jewish. But Mr. Lindsey knew who his neighbor was.

I never did get that patched coat, and I never missed it. I never talked with Mr. Lindsey again. The store closed some years later and I lost contact with the family.  But that Christmas of ’54 was wonderful.

Published in: on December 20, 2016 at 11:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mary Pondered

Mary Pondered

When the shepherds left the manger scene the bible says that Mary pondered all of these things in her heart.

I think we can be sure that she had many such moments before the birth of Christ. We celebrate for her, the honor given to her to bring the flesh born body of Jesus into the world.

She had no way to understand all that was taking place in her life, she visited Elizabeth and the moment she walked into the house Elizabeth knew and she knew that the baby within Mary was her Lord.

No one can know all that Mary went through in those months. She and Joseph could not celebrate as our couples do today waiting for their child to be born.  The neighbors did not make over her; in fact I am sure that most felt that she and Joseph had broken their vows. They were sinners. The months were not spent in joy but in confusion, they knew the truth but no one else would believe the truth.

It would not be until the empty tomb that people would know, believe, and even then many still would not accept this wonder of wonders, this gift to each of us, One who owed no debt paid the debt which we all owe and no one but Christ could pay.

Mary pondered, yes, many times and in many ways, her son, God’s gift to each of us, brought many tears and countless rumors to His parents.

Salvation is not free, God gave His Son but the joys which we have over our children Joseph and Mary would not be able to share with their friends and neighbors. Salvation cost this family many tearful nights and it cost Christ His glory while He walked among men.

Maybe we should each say thank you God for your gift, thank you Joseph and Mary for obeying God.

Ivan

Published in: on December 20, 2016 at 12:46 am  Leave a Comment  

The Way We Are

As I sit in the back of our auditorium and enjoyed the Christmas Play presented by our children I could not help but to be very impressed.

I was impressed with the stage, the boys and girls, and Shawna Rich who had put it all together. The weather was terrible, cold dark and just bad, but the auditorium was filled with moms and dads and the entire different members of the families of our cast.

The children took their parts very seriously and even when the lead character got sick and had to be replaced at the last moment the child who stepped forward for the task did an incredible job.

Starting on Friday everyone had called and told me how no one would come and how it would be a real wash out for the children. I listened and prayed and decided that the best move was no move at all but to go with play, “The True Meaning of Christmas.”

As I enjoyed the production I realized that we were expressing the title of the play as the full house of guest were saying, these are our kids, and we love our kids, so weather bad  the show must go on and we will support even our smallest child.

That is the way we are in Byrdstown, we love our families, and we love our extended families for that is what Christmas is all about, God desiring us to be a part of His family, God calling each one of us to love one another because He loves all of us so very much…

Published in: on December 18, 2016 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

God Does Not Have an Eraser

God Does Not Have an Eraser

David walked down Bourbon Street and turned right onto St. Peter’s ‘Street, the air was pungent with the odors of the night before and the fog that had moved in from the Mississippi Riser kept it close to the ground.

David had never smelt such an odor, he watched as the street crew washed off the spilled beer from the night before and others gather large bags of trash to throw into the truck that stood double parked on St. Peter’s almost at the Jackson Square.

Not many people were about and the whole area appeared to be suffering from the hangover of a night of riotous living. David felt a bit of breeze as he reached the Square, at least here the air was breathable he thought. He saw her leaning against the front of St. Louis Cathedral her back against the building her head hanging over almost in her lap, she was pitiful, covered in layers of clothing, and no doubt she was wearing her wardrobe, skin the color of death, hair matted with the smells of the streets of the French Quarters.

He walked across Jackson Square to Café du Monda, got two beignets and a large cup of coffee, picked up a couple of cups of creamer, some sugar packs and a stirring stick and walked back to the figure of a woman. “Marie would you like a cup of coffee and a beignet?” he asked. She stirred, pulled her head back against the wall of the cathedral and said, “How do you know me? I ant’s never seen you before and I am closed, no business today, no business, go away.” “Here take the coffee,” he said, holding it so that the aroma would fill the pungent air, “I am not here for business, just some time, how about this?” Then he place a hundred dollar bill in her hand and watched as she waded it and placed it inside her blouse. “You crazy man, nothing I know is worth that much bread.”

She took the coffee and beignet and taking a sip and bite she looked with her unclear eyes into his face. “I just came to share a minute,” he said, “I know about what happened when you were fifteen, I know about your dad the preacher, the boyfriend, your dad taking you to the Clinic in New York, the abortion, I know all of that Marie, I just wanted to know if you remember the Sunday in July when you were nine and were saved and then baptized? I was just wondering?” “So long ago she said, so long. I know that by now God has wiped my name from His book; I didn’t mean to do that, we just got crazy one night and then my world fell apart, Daddy went crazy, we killed that baby and as soon as I turn eighteen I left and have never looked back.

Who are you, how do you know all of that? I must be crazy; well I know I am after all of the years living in this hole.” “You are not crazy mother,” David said, “Just frightened, confused, and I have come to take you out of this hole. Drink your coffee, God does not erase what He writes in His Son’s blood; you ready, Marie?” He held out his hand and she looked into his eyes and said, “What did you call me?” “Marie” he answered. “No before that, you said, mother; mother, I can’t be a mother, I can’t I am not fit.”

Time to go Mom, time to go, he took her hand and they walked toward the Andrew Jackson monument, he looked back and saw her worn out form leading now on the sidewalk of the Cathedral, “Let’s go home, mom, let’s go home.”

Published in: on December 16, 2016 at 10:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christmas at Point loma

Christmas at Point Loma

I had arrived in San Diego on Friday December 12, 1958. It was my first Christmas away from family and Jackson, Tennessee.  The palm trees made into Christmas Trees did not impress this West Tennessee boy with his memories of cedar trees; they left something missing from Christmas.

Since I was the new man on the duty roster I pulled Christmas duty on that Thursday of 1958 and sometime that weekend looking for something to do I made my way to The Point Loma National Cemetery. Standing there looking across that beautiful green bed with its white markers pointing to the sky I felt a sense of home.

Looking back I am sure it was because of my love for those who had served our country. At Point Loma you look across the green grass of the hillside dotted with the white markers into the great blue of the Pacific Ocean. It is a beautiful sight and a great reminder of the price that so many have paid for our freedom.

I had seen the lady and her young son of about seven but caught up in my own thoughts I did not notice them until the boy seeing me in my  dress blues came running over to me and asked with great seriousness, Did you know my dad?

 Standing, not sure what to say his mother answered for me as she told the boy not to bother me and that I would not have known his father. I stooped down asked the child to show me his father’s grave and read with pride, Chief Petty Officer Dan Raymond Sharp, 1919  1952.

I saluted his grave and putting my hat on his son saluted him as well. I left that beautiful and holy ground with tears that day but my heart was very proud and thankful for all those who made the day possible for me.

It was a very good Christmas.

Published in: on December 13, 2016 at 10:47 pm  Leave a Comment