I remember the lines of children who stood outside the camp in Zaire, Africa waiting not for food but for a drink of clean water. About a thousand people a day would die because they were drinking bad water and getting choler which with their starving bodied would kill them within a day or two.

The local government had not cleared us to let the children into the new compound we had built for them; even in a war torn country there are people who rule and must have their way so each morning a number of volunteers would travel the streets of Goma to pick up the bodies of those who had died during the night.

We had finished the camp for 500 children, hired the workers and were ready to receive the children but some bureaucrat had to come and give us permission to save their lives.

Still they would sleep along the fence, stand in the sun, and look desperate throughout the day waiting for water.

Three of us decided we could wait no longer so we ran pipes through the fence and let them run freely so that all who wished could get lifesaving water.

More than three thousand people came with pans, buckets, anything which would hold water over the two days we allowed it to run.

At last the powers to be came and allowed us to open the camp and even to leave the water running through the fence.

Thirst was finished and defeated.

It is this kind of thirst for that right relationship with Christ that will bring to us the full knowledge of kinship to Jesus.

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 9:06 pm  Leave a Comment  



Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. This was my last memory of him.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21: 1-2

My dad told me the night before he died that he had seen mother, who had been dead ten years, that day and that she had told him that Jesus was coming for him. I asked him how he felt about that and he said he was glad. I visited with him for about two hours, slept with him, held him, and listened to him breath. As I slipped from the room at about 2:00 AM he awoke and asked if I was going, I said I was, told him bye, kissed him on his head and turned to leave the room. Without turning around I asked him, “What did she look like?” Without asking who are pausing he said, “Like the day I married her.” God wants us to be prepared as a bride would be for her wedding day. Faithful, busy, confident, and living with a longing for Him.

Published in: on May 21, 2017 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  



I always enjoyed visiting in their home for it was always a new experience. You would turn off of the main highway down a sand road and there at the end was this small white house. No landscaping, not much grass, just sand and more sand. Over in the distance you could see a couple of metal barns for the farming that Dean did to make a living for his family of five.

Inside the house was as simple as the yard, three small bedrooms; small eat in kitchen and small living room with one bath for the family of five. The windows were open and flies filled the house so much so that you could not touch a place on the ceiling without touching a fly. The kitchen stove was so out of balance that when his wife would break an egg in the skillet it would slide to one side, thus they loved scrambled eggs. They were plain folks, not much furniture, clothes and other items that you see in so many homes. A paper from school with the names of the children on them, drawings, and a few pictures that someone had made that was it. But what the house liked in furniture and things it made up for in the shared love and joy of the family.

I told them that I could get rid of the flies and they said, go to it, so I bought them a window air condition and they closed all the other windows and the flies left, but it did not make them any happier, their faces were still filled with the simple joy because they had each other, the Lord and that was plenty.

They always seemed so happy to see me and I never left without them thanking me for coming and walking with me to my car as if they wished I would not leave.

I have met, in my fifty plus years of ministry, very few, if any, families that were as happy, content, and filled with true joy as Dean and his family.

It has been more than fifty years since I have seen them but when I pass the great homes in my community of Franklin, Brentwood, and on the Lake at Byrdstown, I think of them and how happy they were without all the things. I wonder about the families in those great houses and wonder if they have what Dean’s family had. Now there is nothing wrong with things, nice things and wonderful homes, but it is not those ‘things’ that bring real joy, peace, and true ‘family happiness’ to these great houses. It is knowing that your family is part of His family and that all is well. Don’t spend so much time on the things that you have none left for the real things—each other.


Published in: on May 18, 2017 at 9:23 pm  Comments (1)  

One Moment

One Moment

The nineteen stories Baptist Hospital was the hall mark of hospitals in the Mid-South in its day; it was something of a dream for a small town preacher to visit. On this day I had been to see my sister, Alice, who had just come out of intensive care into a private room after heart surgery. My eyes were still filled with tears as I stepped out of the elevator into the lobby hoping to make it to my car and back to Jackson before sundown. As I walked out of the entrance onto the sidewalk a couple standing next to the building looking lost asked me if I were a preacher. In those days I never went out of the house without a suit and tie on so I stood out in the crowd of visitors leaving the hospital. I stopped and told them that I was and asked how I could help. They told me of an accident their son had been in and that the doctors were not sure he would make it through the night. They lived in Tupelo Mississippi and had no one in the area to share in their grief. I invited them back into the hospital and the three of us went to the chapel, we talked and they poured out their hearts about their son, their church, home, his days in school and all the memories that they were relieving on that late afternoon. We prayed and I took all of their information and told them that I would have my church join me in praying for them. They left to get something to eat and I looked up the chaplain at the hospital, we found the pastor in Tupelo and he was on his way to Memphis within minutes of the call.

Some two years later I received a note from them telling me that their son had died but not before the pastor and a number of church members were there to share in that sad moment with them, they thanked me for calling him and explained that it had just occurred to them how the pastor and church knew about the accident. On discovering my address they said they had to let me know how God had walked with them through that moment of contact that we had shared. You never know do you, what a moment can do. God is so good.



Published in: on May 15, 2017 at 9:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Golden Years

Golden Years

I think I understand what Billy Graham meant when he said in his book. Nearing Home that whoever called these years Golden simply did not know how gpell.olden.

For certain there are many great things about getting old, our schedule gets lighter, and we have more time to share with the kids and grandchildren. We get to tell great stories and people believe them, we understand the need for prayer more, we warm up toward others and we are not always doing what we must but now and then we get to something from our wish list.

How about a new schedule: maybe do something for a stranger Mon, Wed, and Fri. Then something on Tuesday and Saturday just for ourselves and the kids. Read something that will help you develop on Thursday, and close it out on Sunday sharing our faith with others in worship.

Now don’t get hung up on a schedule, for the great thing about these Golden Years is that they belong to us.

Use them for your stored up wealth, after all we don’t know how many we have.


Published in: on May 14, 2017 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

40 Years Ago

40 Years Ago Today

It was Thursday afternoon on May 5th 1977 that my mother left my arms in our home at 246 South Lindsey Street in Jackson, Tennessee to enter her new home in glory.

Just that afternoon while waiting for a light to change at College and South Royal streets she had asked me if we had to stay in the grave when we died or did we get to go to Jesus the moment we left this life.

I explained to her that she would get about as many different answers as the number of people she might ask. I went on to say that I believed our soul went to be with the Lord and at His return He would give us a brand new body. I also said it did not matter for it was like going to sleep, after we fall asleep the next thing we know it is morning, it doesn’t matter how long we slept when we awake it is a new day.

About six O’clock that night she shook, put her hand in mine and began her journey with her Lord.

It has now been 40 years and life has never been the same. Dad lived another ten years but they were not the same, he had  to learn to write checks, do his laundry, shopping call us on the phone and even how to let us know what he wanted and needed. He had always told mom what he wanted from us and she would call and tell us, he really did not know how to let us know his real needs and thoughts.,

The house never smelled the same, Lindsey Street lost so much of its draw, they were nice years for dad in many ways and it was good for us to have him, but the toll of time sounded with a new tone and life had forever changed.

You know ladies you are like that, life is always altered by you and it is never the same without you. Praise God for making you.

Published in: on May 4, 2017 at 10:04 pm  Comments (1)  

The Fish That Went Preaching

The Fish That Went Preaching

Most of us have heard some great fishing stories told by preachers and other fishermen. In fact the stories that fishermen tell about their glorious fishing ventures are for the most part taken with a ‘grain of salt’, maybe the guy used a metric ruler and thought it was in inches?  I suppose we could give him the benefit of the doubt? Even when the preacher tells a fish story we don’t go out and order it up for dinner in fear that we just might not have enough to make a good meal.

But the bible tells us a great story of a fish that went preaching.  That’s right, not a miss print but the story of a fish that preached a great sermon.

I am sure that you have already guessed where I am coming from; sure the book of Jonah.

It seems that God had asked Jonah to do something for him and Jonah just really did not want to obey.  Now we could take up a lot of time and space giving his side of the story and for sure those folks down in Nineveh were down right mean.  Why it was said that they could remove a man’s skin and he wouldn’t die for a day or so.  Wow!  Jonah must have been scared out of his skin.  Nope, no way, he said, “I’m not going down to that city and get my hide removed by those fellows, nope, I going to buy myself a ticket and get out of here.”

Like many of us who have been asked by God to do something Jonah ran, well maybe not ran, he sailed out of the presence of the Lord.

Well to his surprise that was harder to do than he thought.  He soon learned that God is everywhere, not easy to get away from everywhere.

A storm came up and it almost cost the whole crew their lives.  To Jonah’s credit he realized that they were in trouble because of him, so he took his licks.  In this case the licks were ‘walking the plank’ into the sea. Many of us would have given a thousand excuses and drug as many people as possible into the sea with us, but not Jonah.  He took the plunge.

Now God had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah and the fish did just that; he liked obeying his Maker. Now that fish preached Jonah a great sermon.  He took him down to the bottom of the seas with the sea weeds wrapped around his head and let Jonah know that there was no place he could go to hide from God.

I am certain that you know there is a lot more that could be said but you have read about all you are going to read so here goes the finish of this fish gone a preaching story.

Jonah repented, God had the fish throw him up, preachers make for poor digestion, and Jonah went to Nineveh and the entire city was saved.  See what happens when we obey God?

Here is the lesson of the fish, one that all of us should learn, If you are going to run from God, ‘Where are you going?’

If you are going to do something you don’t want God to see you do, ‘Where are you going?’ In fact if you are going to say something you don’t want God to hear, ‘Where are you going to say it?’ if you are going to think something you don’t want God to know about, ‘Where will you go to think it?’

Pretty good preacher from that big ole fish, in fact his story is better than most preachers tell about fishing.

Ivan N. Raley

Published in: on May 2, 2017 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment