Father’s Day

Father’s Day

As we celebrated and honor our fathers Sunday in church I am reminded of the times when I had such wonderful moments with my own dad. The days he would take me to work with him to check on the night watchman and look around the warehouse to make sure that all was well, a couple of fishing trips, some overnight; the times we went to church together, how much I loved church and I really believe now looking back that much of that love came from watching him.

Dad treated all the men who worked for him with great respect and honor, he made all of them feel very special and I believe I learned from him how important other people were and how they all, no matter their rank in life, deserved credit and praise.

I remember his growing old and how much the rolls changed as I became more of the father and he the son. The little things which once went unnoticed now became moments of memory and joy. A cone of ice cream, which he loved, a ride in the car, with my pushing him back to his side of the seat as his body kept slipping toward mine, the fears, tears, and joys of those days.

Remembering my dad I to remind our men to become watchmen, men who will stand their watch, knowing the dangers that the outside can bring to their homes and families, realizing how God has given them the responsibility to protect their family in the love for God. I challenge them to not only know the dangers, but to see the great value of those whom they influenced and those for whom they were the watchmen. I call upon them not only to look out at the dangers, inside to those depending on them but also to look up and know that all of those who know them will also want to know their coming Lord, Judge, Forgiver, and Father.

Thanks Dad,

Ivan

Published in: on June 15, 2017 at 9:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Growing Old In Love

Growing Old in Love

I had watched them grow old together over the ten years that I had been their pastor and it was a beautiful and warming sight. When you would visit in their home, the very house they had come to the night they were married sixty years before, you would see a picture of them on their wedding day, then pictures of their five children, 12 grand children, and more than 20 great grandchildren.

The fire of love still burned warmly in the old house and the spark of the years of being together still kept life meaningful and beautiful. I watched them over the years come out to the cemetery and visit the graves of two of their children, and then I stood with them on a cold February afternoon and watched as the tears froze on their faces as they placed the first born daughter into her final earthly resting place.

They walked from the grave his holding her hand, slowly, waving a bit, but together to the car waiting for them. When I went by to see them the tears still came even though in their hearts they knew that their daughter was in a far better place. The mother said to me pastor, “Just another ‘sweet’ to make heaven more delicious.” We talked about the years that had gone and they remembered events that marked their marriage, his time in Europe during the war, their son going to Vietnam, the hard times when money was short and the good times when their memories could pick out places they had visited, and dreams that had come true over the years.  They told me of God’s care, His wonderful blessings, and His abiding presence in their marriage. She leaned on her husband and I knew it was time to go, with sleep written on both of them I left, praying that God would grant them peace for the days ahead.

My phone rang the next morning at six with his telling me that his wife had died in her sleep just a few minutes before. Once more we walked to that cold cemetery, this time his two children, grandchildren and greats held him as he place a rose on her coffin and walked back to the familiar family waiting car.

I remember that the bible said, ‘Love never fails’, and it did not. Less than sixty days later all of us returned to the now turning green grass of that lonely hill side and said our good byes to this wonderful man and his mark of faithfulness and love, scored a new ridge in our memory and a joyful thought spread through my soul as I watched him enter that new kingdom of ‘Love that never fails’ seeing the greeting arms of his wife and three children standing there in the gate.

 Growing old in Love, had made going home in love, just a bit sweeter and even more delicious.

Ivan

 

Published in: on June 13, 2017 at 10:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

Loser

Loser

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 loser. Even his body was terrible, covered with boils, nasty; you would not have invited him home for Sunday lunch. In our world of judging people by their looks, money and status in our culture he was a real looser. He would have never made the team, never been included in the ‘group’ no one would like him, he was a looser.

Maybe it was the malformed and misshaped bodies that kept him from working and made him eat under the table with the dogs. From what we know of him there is really nothing that we can say that would be a compliment. He ate the scraps from the rich man’s table and was pleased to receive them.

The dogs would lick his sores and he considered it a blessing. He was one big loser. 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 see us, He sees us as we can be. Maybe it is to remind us that God has never met a loser. Ivan

Published in: on June 12, 2017 at 10:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Old Age and Sickness

Old Age and Sickness

Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis may have noticed that in the past month I have posted very few blogs. The reason:

About a month ago I had my gallbladder removed, while it was a problem removal the doctor did a great job and it was a complete success.

However they found a very serious problem with my liver so I have been back and forth to three doctors and they are looking for the best way to solve this problem.

Thank you for your inquires and prayers. I hope to be able to feel well enough to do some writing these next couple of weeks. It is so kind of you to be concerned.

Ivan

 

Published in: on June 11, 2017 at 9:24 pm  Comments (3)  

Water

Water

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  

Dad

Dad

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  

Things

Things

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.

Ivan

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)