Category Archives: News

New Car Smell
02 Feb

New Car Smell

The cultural phenomenon of “New Car Smell”, with my father working for Buick Motor Division of General Motors when I was born to another 40 years in the New Car Business, that New Car smell has a keen place in my sensual understanding of the inside of not just a car but my life to some extent. When I sit in any car I immediately have a sense of how that car has been cared for, loved really. Having sat in thousands and thousands of new cars and used cars I believe there is an olfactory give away to years of care or years of abuse or neglect.

Just go to a rent-a-car place like Hertz or Avis and sit in a few cars with varied mileages and take a big whiff, often they smell like wet socks, or stale smoke, then go back and sit in one that just came in and you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Like so many things in life there is no magic formula to new car smell, though I do get a kick out of the “Little Tree” car deodorizers that are labeled, “New Car Smell” sorry guys, it can’t be hung from the rear view mirror. The smell comes from love and will continue with love. You see Henry Ford, David Buick, Walter Chrysler and all there descendant designers, engineers and suppliers, loved their stuff, unfortunately they may even idolize it. With that comes a smell. The Bible is all too clear on this one.

Song of Songs 1:13
“My lover is my pouch of myrrh,
passing the night between my breasts. “

Now that I have your full attention I’m sure, you gotta admit, that one beats new car smell. Ask any lover who ever received a perfumed letter. Yes love is accompanied sensually through an olfactory experience, no doubt. Did you ever get a perfumed letter, did you ever send one; perfumed letters..WOW!!!

The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson said it this way…

“I-I love the colorful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air “

This week I really wanted to go deeper into the Song of Solomon verse above, and in prayer as I asked for insight: the Holy Spirit said to me, “DRINK”. At first that totally confused me, then I went with it looking up the first place you find drink in the Bible, it is in Genesis 19 where Lot’s daughters seduce him by having him “DRINK”, wine. Yep, I immediately thought about

Song of Songs 5:1
“I have come into my garden,
my sister, my bride.
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey.
I have drunk my wine with my milk. “

There it is again, both the myrrh, the smell and yes drink is involved. I then though about the Beatitude: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” and the question I landed on was: “What are the specific ways we hunger versus the ways we thirst spiritually?” After some study I came away with these thoughts I believe you will find useful both with your new car smell but even more in your life with God and His children.

According to, Spurgeon, and I agree with him, when we eat something it becomes totally ours, once you have it going down your esophagus it’s totally yours, but then in the case of eating; for your body to get the nutrients you have to digest it. That is my experience with Bible Study and often deep conversations with my wife or children I have to digest a bit before I receive the benefit.

Drinking is different although drink does become yours as it goes down your esophagus as well, drink especially alcohol almost immediately passes through your stomach lining and goes directly into you blood stream, drink may make it to the beginnings of your small intestines but for the most part they provide an instant benefit. Such is intimacy and affection, I don’t have to digest a hug or a kiss, from my kids and Tammy, (my wife) can hold my hand and I get a WOWZERS.

So this led me to some real repenting needed on my part; I am not near affectionate enough around those I love causing them to require that their thirst be quenched elsewhere, and even there, do I point them to living water? Yes, that passage in the Song of Songs has everything thing to do with drink, affection and intimacy. The first drink each of us ever took was designed to come from a breast in phenomenal affection and intimacy, even if it cam from a bottle, it comes with affection and intimacy.

Think about the many, many pages about thirst, even Jesus first miracle and his 5th word from the cross, He too was thirsty for the Father’s affection there on the cross.

Father help us to get this, to be thirsty for the right affection and love and provide affection and love to quench our loved ones needs and point them to the source of it all… And yes TLC and your car will forever have that New Car Smell.

Magical Mystery Tour
26 Jan

Magical Mystery Tour

Don’t you love a good mystery, the Bible is one after another after another, that’s what makes it so fun to dig for treasure. One I came across this week is loaded with mystery and treasure. “The Anointing of Jesus with Nard”.

How many times did it happen? It’s in all four gospels but its more than remarkable the similarities and the differences. Those are the kind of things that make you start digging, where is the treasure and what is it? In Matthew 26 it is 2 days before Passover she anoints His head and is at Bethany right before Judas betrayed Him, Mark 14 seems very similar, but there she breaks the alabaster jar, again anointing His head. , in Luke 7 it happens at a Pharisee’s house and she anoints his feet. Lastly in John it’s 6 days before Passover it’s with Mary and Lazarus and again it’s his feet that are anointed.

Here is a great article on why all that perhaps, at Inspired 2 think.

What I want to dig into here is why an alabaster jar and why did she break it? Like Paul’s jars of clay, in 2 Corintians 4: 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay,[c] so that the surpassing greatness of the power may be from God and not from ourselves. We are hard pressed in every way, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not in despair; persecuted, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Yeshua, so that the life of Yeshua may also be revealed in our mortal body.

The Jar of alabaster was precious no doubt, but to get to the inside and at that which was more precious she had to break it. That Nard inside was pure love for Jesus, the aroma of it lasts to this very day as it will for eternity. That was the Nard’s purpose, to anoint Jesus head and feet.

SO ARE ALL OUR TREASURES. The head so we know where we are going for Him and the feet to take us there. One of those treasures is your car… How can you anoint Jesus Christ (The Anointed One) with your car, really that is my question today.

A mystery only you get to or can unravel, you are uniquely designed to anoint Jesus with your treasure and yes you will have to break it it get to the good stuff, just sayin… Enjoy!!!

What This World Needs Is A Little Wonder
19 Jan

What This World Needs Is A Little Wonder

Did you ever wonder, really did you ever really really wonder; of course you did, especially when you were a child, the child like heart loves to wonder. Come wonder with me then about all God was picturing for us as He rescued the Israelites from slavery. The pillar of cloud, the Cherubim above the arc there is much to wonder about as you dig into these mysteries.

Let’s start with “The Clouds of Glory” as the Jews call them, every Jewish child is meant to enjoy a Passover Seder where they get to ask the four questions. The reason a child does this is that they can WONDER. The last question in English reads this way: “On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining, and on this night we only recline.”

Yes, there is the wonder of being free from slavery and being able to recline but I really, really wonder about the connection to “The Clouds of Gory”. Ancient Hebrew Rabbi’s taught that the pillar of cloud in Exodus 13 were actually seven different clouds, one for each of the four directions, north, south, east, west and then one above to protect them from the sun in the desert. The one that blows my mind is the one below them, in other words they were walking on clouds. The ancients taught that this was why their shoes didn’t wear out this cloud literally took the rough terrain and made it literally a breeze to navigate, (How cool is that). Then the seventh cloud, (which by the way is pictured on three of the tribal standards including the tribe of Judah’s) is out leading them where to go.

This whole picture they teach is the Tabernacle or (sukkot) yes related to the feast of booths or Tabernacles, it’s clouds and you can make a Biblical case for that. Look at 2 Samuel 22 or Psalms 18

11 He rode upon a cheruv and flew.
He soared on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness His cover,
His sukkah all around Him—
dark waters, thick clouds.

The same in Job 36:29, when God is tabernacling with me he is surrounding me in His protective cloud, it is a God Hug…

Note how many times God shows up and leaves in a cloud, Sinai, The Tabernacle dedication, Solomon’s Temple, at the mount of Olives Jesus leaves and is said to come back that way. This is how this connects to the question asked at the Seder, “why recline”. The Hebrew word there has a lot to do with surrounding more than just laying down. Look in Song of Songs 1:12 Once again we have the King as Jesus did in the last supper reclining that word ” mecab ” means round about. We are surrounded by loved ones at our thanksgiving our feast of ingathering the feast of tabernacles. God’s cloud hug is surrounding you I promise.

Now some more WONDER, inside that cloud is the ARK itself and atop of that are the two Cherubim; who are these guys and what’s with the wings overlapping? The Jews make a big deal that a Sukkah has to be higher than 10 “Tefachim” about 32 inches, why? Because the length of the Cherubim wings on the Ark according to Solomon’s Temple was 10 “Tefachim” . The Chrubim’s wings need the clearance in order to fly over you Sukkah for real. Amazingly beautiful is that when they spread their winds as described in Exodus 37:9 it is the exact terminology of Boaz spreading his garment over Ruth in Ruth 2:12 and in Ezekiel 16:8 God is spreading his garment over Israel in the time of love.

So as I have taught before that if our body is the temple, where is the Holy of Hollies, it’s our heart. These Cherubim have your heart covered like a hen covers her chicks like Jesus told us. So we know their size they have a wing span of 32 inches, what about their face. Well in Ezekiel 10:14 we are told

And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. . “

If one of their faces is a cherub, what is that according to the ancient Rabbi’s it was a child . So there is the connection to your child like heart and your innocence. Remember when Jesus told us in Matthew 18: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. “

Clouds, faces of Angels and children, wings that have you covered, yes to Tabernacle with God there above the Mercy seat in your very heart… Its much to wonder about…

One more wonder, when you see your neighbor, think that God wants him surrounded walking on clouds, covered by Cheribium wings, yes that neighbor has a whole in his heart that only God can fill, and as John Eldredge observed that God has a whole in His heart that only your neighbor can fill, as C.S. Lewis pointed out “you never met a mere mortal” . As we pray and witness we are increasing the circle the cloud and the more love we feel, like the ultimate thanksgiving with all the saints around the table, heads in the clouds we will all feel heaven. I wonder…..

Saturday Jan 19th Kernersville
16 Jan

Saturday Jan 19th Kernersville

Talking and Walking Christian Men’s Ministry will host the 5th Annual Men’s Summit on January 19, 2019. The event will take place at First Christian Church in Kernersville, NC from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

You will hear from world renowned speakers Dr. Benji Kelley, Pastor Michael Thomas, Tim Worley (former NFL player) and Dave Roever (Purple Heart recipient). The event will be hosted by retired professional wrestler, Nikita Koloff!

The purpose of The Men’s Summit is to create an atmosphere where men of all denominations can come together to build their faith and worship as one body. Our goal is that all men in attendance leave inspired, encouraged and with a deeper connection with our Heavenly Father.

Advanced tickets are only $20 and include lunch! Group discounts are available.

Purchase your tickets now to reserve your spot for this monumental event at


Dr. Benji Kelley
Senior Pastor, newhope church

Benji Kelley is the founding pastor of newhope church Central Campus in Durham, NC and multi-site campuses throughout the Carolina’s, and Kenya. read more

Tim Worley
Former NFL Player, Leadership Educator

Tim Worley is a former University of Georgia All-American and NFL running back who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago Bears. Today, Tim is a John C. Maxwell-certified leadership educator, life skills consultant and motivational speaker at Worley Global Enterprises. read more

Dave Roever
Military Hero, Purple Heart Recipient

Dave Roever is enthusiastically received both nationally and internationally as a public speaker. He is a gifted communicator and speaks in a variety of settings including public schools, military installations, business, men’ s and youth conventions, etc. read more

Michael Thomas
Lead Pastor, Love and Faith Christian Fellowship

Pastor Thomas started Love and Faith Christian Fellowship in 1991 with only 3 members and under his spiritual leadership, the church has grown to over 3,000 members. As a mentoring Pastor, Pastor Thomas travels around the world to visit with Pastors that are under his leadership. read more


23rd Psalm = Love
22 Dec

23rd Psalm = Love

For me the hint came when I read in the “Song of Songs” that the lover/Solomon/Jesus, in the first of his nine impassioned proclamations of  love in verse nine, referred to his amazingly beautiful bride as his  “ra`yah” –Darling-beloved.

The big question that hit me was; why did Solomon use that word? You will only find it there in the Song of Songs except one time in the difficult passage where Jephthah’s daughter in Judges 11:37 is going to bewail her virginity with her “Ra’yah” companions in the mountains.

Answer:  the root of the word is “ra`ah” to shepherd. No doubt Solomon being David’s son understood the connection to love and shepherding and his experience with the Good Shepherd would have know immediately why Jesus ask Peter three times to feed and shepherd His sheep, as this was the commandment that Jesus emphasized, LOVE.

So my mind went back to the practical aspects of the 23rd Psalm when it comes to love. What do I want for those I Love? 

Psalms 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall Not Want”

Number one is that they have Jesus as their Shepherd, that way I know they shall not want, period. Actually this sets up the rest of the Loving as how could you love or be loved with a dark hardened heart?

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

Number two, they eat and rest. What mother doesn’t love to feed they’re baby and put them down for a nap. What loving father wouldn’t want his children to feast on God’s word, then rest and ruminate, (chew the cud) to receive the full nourishment and health as a result. Oh, if I only knew the importance of grazing on God’s word and resting, slowing down to wait on the Lord as I “qava” to eventually rise up on wings like eagles. The mistakes I have made because I was tired and hungry were almost countless and so senseless yet, have brought phenomenal pain and heart ache to those I love the most. Interesting isn’t it, that if we don’t put the oxygen mask on ourselves first we are in no position to love others.

He Leads me beside still waters.

Hunger then thirst, both immensely critical to physical, spiritual and emotional health. When we hear those still waters we get thirsty and gain the abundant life by drinking deeply from the Spring that wells up to everlasting life. Once again still waters aren’t rushing waters, sheep are terrified of rushing water and will die of thirst rather than drink from them. Just try, truly drinking from God’s word while rushing, you will die of thirst.

He restores my soul.

Yes, eating, resting and drinking lead us there, yet I need Jesus to put me up on His shoulders, without Him there is no restoration. By that I mean I have to reach out in prayer while I am doing all these to get my soul restored, Jesus’ is willing to restore it but I have to be with Him to have it happen. The mother or father that lays food and drink at their children’s door are abusing their children by neglecting a bigger need, affection. How do I get a Jesus hug without prayer? Without holding my arms out and looking into His eyes. How can I restore my wife’s soul if I never touch her, believe me the Good Shepherd knows your need for affection.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for His names sake.

Once again, would a father who loves his child allow them to run into the street, or take them to hold up a bank? No, the Good Shepherd helps me with my homework, takes me to His place of prayer, teaches me the Word of God, shows me the light for the path. Love tells someone when they are headed for trouble points them to God and a better path.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me, thy rod and staff they comfort me.

My mom/dad/spouse have the biggest God and a faith so big that they can move mountains, they have the strength to hold onto God like Jacob and the courage of Daniel, nothing can hurt me when I am with them. They trust God enough to risk disciplining me, choosing God and  what’s right over my acceptance and as a result I feel safe knowing they love me too much to have my way if it’s harmful to me or the Kingdom.

He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies.

Love never fails, so lets eat. Remember in Acts 27, when Paul was on the boat headed for Rome and the storm a northeaster raged so severely that the men would not eat. Paul’s faith was such that he prepared a table for them in the presence of their enemies, as did Christ in the storm. We are all still eating that bread. When we panic those who are under our care, panic, you have dropped your shield of faith as a Spartan mother would tell you, either come home with your shield or on it.

He anoints my head with oil.

To be touched on the head is an extremely intimate gesture, don’t try touching someones head you aren’t close to, just sayin.  What dog or cat dosen’t seem to crave being petted, watch a lover stroke their beloved head or hair. Yes inside that word is this idea of petting but even cooler in my view is the idea that oil spreads so the petting and stroking goes every where even inside the pours. Yes, King David, said God you are my favorite, my anointed. How cool is this that Jesus anoints us, how can we anoint those we love?

My cup runneth over.

In the middle east a sign that you are welcome to stay as long as you want and you will continued to be served. Drink to your delight with delight being something that we want our beloveds to feel when we are with them.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

This is my favorite part of the 23rd Psalm, according to  A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. The book explained that when sheep have a good shepherd that If they were led beside still waters and laid down in green pastures and if he anointed them with oil to keep the bugs off. When he set a table for them in front of the bear or the wolf then the sheep will take a completely barren piece of ground and turn it green and lush, based on the way they graze and their manure. In fact in the middle east sheep are called the animals with the golden hooves.

The result of The Good Shepherd leading us was that we would leave a fertile pasture that was able to feed the world for centuries, and so it has for me and you to this day in the Psalms…

King David’s son Solomon understood this when in The Book of Song of Songs in the first chapter the Shulamite girl asked, Where to find the one she loved?   The answer “ Song of Songs 1:8  “If you do not know, most beautiful of women,  follow the tracks of the sheep

To be shepherded by Jesus is to leave these tracks to follow, our love should do the same. What a promise!

Clefted Tires Required
24 Nov

Clefted Tires Required

Off Road Vehicles, Off Road Tires Scream, “adventure” our hearts long for High Mountain adventure we were made for it. A vehicle can get you there in the physical, but it needs traction and ground clearance, Four Wheel Drive a narrow short wheel base to navigate narrow roads and switch back turns, yet balance is critical too, not too top heavy. ALL that is surely needed both in the physical and the spiritual, but staying with the physical for a minute tires need a cleft.

Hydroplaning is a scary thing my son in his first rain storm experienced how quick you can lose traction and slide off the road, I’ll never forget that call. He was OK, but his Jeep was in the ditch. For tires that cleft channels out water.

Knobby is an attempt to get some tire surface on that gravel or rock, mud or snow. so their all kinds of tires for all kinds of adventure and the amazing thing is they are also a report card on your vehicle as I wrote a few years ago and How amazing is it that God’s way of seeing our alignment, balance, our steering, our control arms is in our tires/our feet and how cool us is it God Shares how to get your feet fitted not only with the gospel of peace but for that higher ground, that secret place on the steep path it is going to be exciting and dangerous I assure you.

Traction wasn’t exactly Firestone’s idea nor Michelin, God designed the type of traction surface necessary for all sorts of High Mountain adventures beyond any capabilities of a vehicle tire. I wish wish my tires could apply pressure right to let or front to back even dig in by pointing forward. I would note that King David being the Shepherd that he was observed something about hooves when he said in

Psalm 18:33

He makes my feet like those of deer
and makes me stand on my heights.

His son Solomon knew why as we read in

Song of Songs 2:14 

My dove, in the clefts of the rock,
    in a secret place along the steep path,
    let me see your form,
    let me hear your voice.
For your voice is sweet
    and your form is lovely.”

SO.. how do we get those feet David described or cleft hooves? Those cleft hooves indicated that they were clean animals Leviticus 11, and two things made an animal clean 1. Chew the cud 2. Cleft Hoof? Why what was God telling us what made a clean animal, why was David asking for those feet.

As the 23 Psalm says “He Makes us lie down in green pastures”

Later his son Solomon in Song of Songs Chapter 1 verse 7 takes it a bit further

“Where do you graze your flock and make them lay down at noon.” The Good Shepherd feeds us in the morning then makes us lay down so we will chew our cud. His word takes long to digest. Sheep not only have 4 stomachs they have 82 feet, yes I said feet of intestines in order to suck all the nutrients out of their food which takes 3-5 days. Every week God feeds me and for days I’ll ruminate, that concept or precept for hours, their is so much that my soul just chews and chews. Like the sheep it makes me clean.

The sheep’s hooves cloven for the balance needed to climb and scale the mountain top adventures with God not fully engaged with the ground or the worlds golden calf down below. Leviticus 11. The beloved will need these as in chapter 2

A well fed beautiful sheep, that can climb the steep path navigate the cleft in the rock with its hooves… Well fed, its form is beautiful its soul restored it voice is sweet.


“Why should I be as a veiled woman”. Veiled women were prostitues wanderers lost and ashamed.. As Tamar disguised herself to trick Judah into fathering Perez.


We all have a veil a mask we use to cover our shame. Face to face is intimacy and quite dangerous in a world where others are trying to compare themselves and judge in order to feed their pride and their justification for sin.


The original reason for the mask or fig leaf is we feel naked and exposed as Adam did with his sin. My brilliant disguise is my personality I have designed a way to get you to like me without exposing my real feeling, as John Eldridge


I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid. – Genesis 3:10

You don’t need a course in psychology to understand men. Understand that verse, let its implications sink in, and the men around you will suddenly come into focus. We are hiding, every last one of us. Well aware that we, too, are not what we were meant to be, desperately afraid of exposure, terrified of being seen for what we are and are not, we have run off into the bushes. We hide in our office, at the gym, behind the newspaper and mostly behind our personality.


“By the flocks of your companions”


Who are the companions??? Some say Moses Aaron and Miriam, Some day Idols false Gods… All I know for sure is; one- they are shepherds and two -they are not the good shepherd.


Hirelings- John 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

The Good Shepherd is all about taking care of your feet as he modeled at the last supper. He cares for you deeply, Jesus longs to meet with you in that cleft in the rock, but the balance, traction and alignment necessary will be in you feeding well and following Him to lay down at noon and chew your food daily, then when Jesus knows you can handle the steeper path he will lead you to the cleft, I promise.


Giving Thanks For The Thorn in The Paint
17 Nov

Giving Thanks For The Thorn in The Paint

Does Your Car have a thorn in the paint? Old Red Sure does, the longer you own a car the more familiar you become with it’s thorn. In Old Red my 1985 Dakota for years I have struggled with it overheating and blowing head gaskets. Have I ever thanked God for that? This week I recycled this story at devotions at Somerset Assisted Living in Mocksville, NC, and no doubt it hit me where it hurts, like a thorn.

The Blessing of Thorns

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.

During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose annual holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come.

What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. “She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra with a shudder.

“Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?” she wondered aloud. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, can I help you?”

The shop clerk’s approach startled her.

“I….I need an arrangement, “stammered Sandra. “For Thanksgiving?

Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving Special?” asked the shop clerk.

“I’m convinced that flowers tell stories,” she continued

“Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this Thanksgiving?

“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out.  “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. ” Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.”

Then the door’s small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, “Hi Barbara…let me get your order.”  She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses.

Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped…there were no flowers.

“Want this in a box?” asked the clerk.

Sandra watched for the customer’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers!?!  She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed. “Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile.

“You’d think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again,” she said as she gently tapped her chest.

“Uhh,” stammered Sandra, “that lady just left with, uhh… she just left with no flowers!”

“Right…I cut off the flowers. That’s the Special… I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.

“Oh, come on, you can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that?” exclaimed Sandra.

“Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today,” explained the clerk. “She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery.”

“That same year I had lost my husband, “continued the clerk,” and for the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.

“So what did you do?” asked Sandra. “I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly.

“I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and never thought to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask!; It took time for me to learn that dark times are important.

I always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.

“Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her.”
I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort.

I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”

Just then someone else walked in the shop.

“Hey, Phil!” shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man.

“My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement … twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!” laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

“Those are for your wife?” asked Sandra doubtingly. “Do you mind me asking why she wants something that looks like that?

“No…I’m glad you asked,” Phil replied. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem.

He rescued our marriage.  Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from “thorny” times, and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific “problem” and give thanks to Him for what that problem taught us.”

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special!”

“I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life.” Sandra said to the clerk. “It’s all too… fresh.”

“Well,” the clerk replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time.

Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don’t resent the thorns.”

Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. “I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out.

“I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a minute.”

“Thank you. What do I owe you?” asked Sandra.

“Nothing.” said the clerk.

“Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me. “The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra.

“I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you’d like to read it first.”

It read: “Dear God, I have never thanked you for my thorns. I have thanked you a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to you along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of your rainbow look much more brilliant.”

Getting back to my cars thorns, they do put me right where God wants me, on my knees asking for help. This Thanksgiving maybe you have an uncle who is a thorn, or even a child or parent, they just put you on your knees. I’ve heard it said, “God rigged the world so we couldn’t do it without him, here is one of my favorite Thorn in my flesh stories.. I lived it.

Following Brian surgery I developed a staff infection under a plate they had placed in my scull..
A brain abbess had formed and I was fading fast in pain.. a thorn for sure.

The waves of pain were far worse than anything I have experienced before or since as my brain swelled under my scull about to explode my only hope was emergency brain surgery … they were rushing me in… then something happened in the Operating Room I’ll never know what but it delayed them..
They pushed me over into a waiting room.. for what seemed like an eternity..

That’s when he sent her… Romona Seacrest, She was a nurse in the Nero-surgery area who just happened to be in my Sunday School Class…She came in gently took my hand …she said nothing but I knew God had sent a comforting Angel with the thorn to get me through it. I thank God for that thorn now as the pain was for a moment, the grace of the messenger God sent has over-abounded in my life since. That’s the thing, Jesus knew on the cross, the pain He endured for those moments He felt was worth it to spend eternity with YOU!!!

I Thank God for the Thorns.

Making It Work : The Last Shall Be First
12 Nov

Making It Work : The Last Shall Be First

What does that really mean, “The Last Shall Be First”? All Week God has had me on the lesson plan of “Work” with Jesus Parable of the Day Laborers or as some say The Workers in the Vineyard. It’s just not fair is it? Here is the Parable Matthew 20:1-16

“For the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household, who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.  Now when he had agreed with the workers for a denarius per day, he sent them into his vineyard.  And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing in the marketplace, idle. And to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and I’ll give you whatever is right.’ So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour and did the same. And about the eleventh hour, he went out and found others standing around. And he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle the whole day?’

“‘Because no one hired us,’ they said to him.

“He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard, too.’

 “Now when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning from the last to the first.’ And those who had come about the eleventh hour each received a denarius. And when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; yet they too received a denarius.

“But when they received it, they began to grumble against the master of the house, saying, ‘These last guys did one hour, and you’ve made them equal to us, who bore the burden and scorching heat of the day!’

“But answering, he said to one of them, ‘Friend, I’m doing you no wrong. Didn’t you agree with me on a denarius? Take what is yours and go. But I want to give this last guy the same as you. Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’

“So the last will be first, and the first last.”

Provoking isn’t it. Worth meditation, by all means, as so much of our lives are devoted to our work. Here is the way many look at work in our culture listen to this work montage.

With that point of view, essentially, “I’m taken what they’re given cause I’m workin for a livin”. That parable brings anger and disbelief, that, Jesus, God, would say such a thing, and then to finish with “the first will be last and the last will be first”! What the heck?

Then I started thinking how bad it feels to be unemployed verses how good it feels to do a job well and find myself achieving or doing more than I thought I could. Finding out that I really can do things, I am not lazy or ineffective, especially work with my own hands. It actually answers a core question for men according to John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, the question: “Do I Have What It Takes”?

I would also ad that the workers who came early in the morning had the joy of working with a good boss and other diligent workers rather than sitting wondering if they would get work that day. Those who came later and later had worse days in my view with the worst being those who didn’t find work until the last hour. Those who go to work with this adventure and battle point of view, listen to this montage.

Forgetting pay for just a minute, this being the Thanksgiving season think about how much work goes into a Turkey Thanksgiving dinner. Is not a big part of the Joy of the season in the cleaning, and chopping, boiling and peeling and roasting with dear ones; some times sons and daughters or mothers and fathers. I know it is for me and the legendary time I forgot to put the sugar in the pumpkin pie is a point of fellowship and hilarity in my family to this day.

Working has its rewards, many, many in my view and those guys who came first may have gotten paid last but there is so much more to life and life abundantly than the monetary compensation.

Before I move on to a further explanation of the last will be first, think about the great bosses God has placed in your life. My guess is you felt appreciated, favored, (That’s Grace, Jesus is full of that). They told you the truth, (that’s the other thing Jesus is full of). Those bosses would also be generous (Ephesians 4:8, Jesus gave gifts to men). Gift means you don’t earn it. PAY IS NOT BASED ON WHAT YOU DO with a generous boss. You can’t earn a gift. So I often feel God telling me, “STOP STRIVING!!!” Come close let’s do this together, I’ll take you the fun way, the way of adventure and beauty and battle, but with Me you can’t lose.”

Theologically I believe “the last will be first and the first will be last” was originally meant for the disciples to understand that though the Jews got there first they would as a group be the last to come into the Kingdom, mostly because they felt they earned it.

At another level yes many can accept Jesus as their savoir on their death bed and they will get to heaven even though they were last to accept Christ. The sad aspect of that or even in my own story I didn’t receive Christ until I was 36 years old and so I missed the joy of working for the ultimate boss in the ultimate vineyard with other brothers and sisters for 36 YEARS.

The other cool thing about all this is the envy and jealousy aspect. Jesus is digging into my eye, how I see things, through the self filter or the God filter or the Good Filter. Jesus has giving phenomenal gifts to people who hardly seem worthy through my self filter. Yet through the God filter I can see the good boss leading a worker to a higher work ethic by paying him at the level he knows he can work at, God has done that in my life, He has given me gifts way beyond anything I could possibly have earned knowing that He made me in His image and I do have what it takes.

With all that I am so glad that the last will be first as I don’t want anyone to miss out. Accept the Good Boss TODAY!!

The First Rock And Roll Singer
20 Oct

The First Rock And Roll Singer

If you want living water to come out of The Rock like a geyser try singing. This would be what, Miriam, the first Mary in the Bible would tell you. Her name meant “bitter” as she was born at the height of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt. She was no doubt a for runner, a shadow of many, many Marys to come. The most common name for any daughter to this very day. I wish I had the time to share all the dots in the Bible she connects, but I can share a few of the treasures of this saint.

The Jewish people hold her in an extremely high place along with her two younger brothers Aaron and Moses, the Bible tells of her help in getting Moses to Pharaoh’s daughter in the Nile, and her song when the red sea saved them from their enemies, both significant water miracles. The Midrash teaches so much more, these stories maybe legend but sure explains why the Elders sang to the well in Numbers 21:16-18

 From there they continued to Beer, that is the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Assemble the people, that I may give them water.” Then Israel sang this song:“Spring up, O well! Sing to it!
“The well, which the leaders sank, Which the nobles of the people dug, With the scepter and with their staffs.”

Much has been written on Miriam’s well, a stone that was shaped like a sieve or a bee hive that rolled following the Jews through the desert after Moses struck it at Horeb the first time. Take a close look at 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;  and all ate the same spiritual food; 4and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.

Did you see that, yes, the stone that followed them, we are talking rock and roll here for sure. Miriam died at Kadesh in Numbers 20: 1 and immediately, the Jews were out of water, the Midrash and Talmud teach that  Miriam was the singer to the stone and now she was gone.

Again, you may say that’s legend and you may be right, but the thing that jumped out at me was that this stone didn’t just pour out water, it shot out like a geyser or a fountain, now the Jews don’t teach what Jesus said to the women at the well. John 4: 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

Mary, a rolling stone, water like baptism and water springing up, just a coincidence?

Here is the sweetest part of the whole story to me though at first look it seems harsh. Numbers 12:1 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married”

Then in 9-15

So the anger of the Lord burned against them and He departed.  But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother’s womb!” Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “O God, heal her, I pray!” But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.” So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.

Miriam was clearly a prophetess and clearly walked with and loved Jesus, yet like me she got all judgmental, God did inflict her but she was sent out alone into the wilderness, intimacy, fellowship, restoration, time with her Savior, to me to whom much is given much is required and this was her chance to get back in union with God. Was their singing while she was banished, I’ll bet you there was and there was water gushing, living water… Look at the end of her life and how God has continued to honor her name, Miriam/Mary

Miram, had a little rock, whose shape was like a hive, and every where that Miriam went that Rock would soon arrive… Just sayin.. 🙂

Another cool article about Miriam:

Miriam’s Legacy of Leadership