Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes when she pulled open the florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a “minor” automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son.. She grieved over their loss.

Troubles had multiplied.

Her husband’s company “threatened” to transfer his job to a new location. Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her long awaited holiday visit. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend suggested that Sandra’s 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.. “For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended me? For an airbag that saved my life, but took my child’s?”

“Good afternoon, can I help you?”

Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk. “I . . . I need an arrangement,” stammered Sandra.

“For Thanksgiving? 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 clerk said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you..”

Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer….

“Hi, Barbara, let me get your order.” She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped; there were no flowers.

“Do you want these in a box?” asked the clerk. Sandra watched 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.

Sandra stammered, “Ah, that lady just left with . . . uh . . ..

she left with no flowers!”

“That’s right,” said the clerk. “I cut off the flowers. That’s the ‘Special’. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet. Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do today,” explained the clerk.. ” She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her father; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery. That same year I had lost my husband,” continued the clerk. “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 much 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 the good things in my life and I never questioned Him why those good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, ‘Why? Why me?!’

It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of my life, but it took the 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 what 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!” the clerk greeted 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 incredulously.

“Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?”

“Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced,” Phil replied. “After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem, the Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from “thorny” times. 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 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 the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time.. Remember that 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 her 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?”

“Nothing. 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 would like to read it first.”

It read:
“My 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.”

Praise Him for the roses;

thank Him for the thorns.

God Bless all of you.

Be thankful for all that the Lord does for you.
“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly,
and leave the rest to God..”

New  Pledge of Allegiance

Now  I sit me down in school
Where praying is against  the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd.

If  Scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now.

Our  hair can be purple, orange or green,
That’s no offense; it’s a freedom thing..
The law is specific, the law is precise..
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.

For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all.
In silence alone we must meditate,
God’s name is prohibited by the state.

We’re allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks..
We can carry smut, but not the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes me  liable.

We  can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the ‘unwed  daddy,’ our Senior King.
It’s ‘inappropriate’ to teach right from wrong,
We’re taught that such ‘judgments’ do not belong..

We can get our condoms and birth controls,
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
No word of God must reach this crowd.

It’s scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school’s a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot; My soul please take!
Amen

Bret Lane is the brother in law of a very close friend.  He has Cron’s Disease and is now in ICU with a stomach full of infection.  The doctor’s feel he may not make it, but he can make it with the help of God.  Let us pray for him and ask God that if it is in His will, that he will survive, so that if he is in need of salvation, that his family may bring it to him.

Thank you very much.

NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
“He will defy the Most High God, and try to change all laws, morals, and customs. God’s people will be helpless in his hands for three and a half years.” (Daniel 7:25, TLB)

For several weeks, months actually, we have been studying the Book of Daniel in Sunday School. I have to admit that prophesy has never held a really strong interest to me. My mind is far more mechanical than philosophical, given to math and engineering more than philosophy or dreaming.. But this verse literally jumped out at both Gail (my wife) and me. Immediately we both saw this as VERY current. It is now July, 2009… the current presidential term and some senate terms, and all house terms will end in 3 1/2 years!

Virtually all Bible experts date this as having been written around 535 B.C. The experts also say this was a prophesy of the Roman Empire to come about 400 years in the future of this prophesy (around 146 B.C). Why then, does this seem so current and real for today? Perhaps the Bible explains it best in its own words. Hebrews 4:12 states that the Word of God is “quick and powerful” meaning alive and active. Jesus Himself told Satan that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that “proceedeth” (meaning currently being spoken) out of the mouth of God. Now we believe that the Bible is complete and is not subject to new words being added. However, it is alive and active. Therefore, I believe strongly that the precepts and principles written for specific times and events are applicable to ALL times and events.

From those who don’t believe in the infallibility of the Bible, the argument comes that cultures, times, morals, etc. were different then and that today’s truths are different. I do not agree. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:8-11 (TLB) that ” …History merely repeats itself. Nothing is truly new; it has all been done or said before”… “How do you know it didn’t exist long ages ago? We don’t remember what happened in those former times, and in the future generations no one will remember what we have done back here.” Thank God, we have God’s Word, the Bible, where these things have been written down so we do know what was said and done back there.

Right is right and wrong is wrong. God is good and sin is evil. These absolutes are not relevant to time and circumstance. Do God’s people always do right and not sin? Unfortunately, no they don’t. We try, but we are sinners by nature and often do not succeed. Thank God who sent Jesus, who, through the shedding of his own blood, we who accept it are redeemed from sin. That forgiveness is once and for all, but is also renewable every day, every minute until that day when we are with Him and no longer have the influence of sin on us.

So then, is Daniel 7:25 a prophesy relating to today’s American political administration? I don’t know. I do know that Acts 17:24-28 the apostle Paul stated that God is not subject to man’s changes and that God Himself set the exact time and place for nations and each individual to be. I have no problem believing that God spoke from His “living and active” word to Gail and me at the exact same time in that exact place. What if nothing new comes from this prophesy in 3 ½ years? Still no problem, and that makes it no less real for us. After all, as Solomon said, “Nothing is truly new, it has all been done or said before”
As Steve Brown,  a mentor of mine, would say “Now you think about that”!