Tied To A Tree

Job 19:10-14

10 He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath He removed like a tree.

11He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and He counteth me unto him as [one of] his enemies.

12 His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle.

13 He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.

14 My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.

Job 19:22-27

22 Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?

23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!

24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!

25 For I know [that] my redeemer liveth, and [that] he shall stand at the latter [day] upon the earth:

26 And [though] after my skin [worms] destroy this [body,] yet in my flesh shall I see God:

27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; [though] my reins be consumed within me.

Job was in the midst of one of the most painful situations anyone has, or ever would face.  He lost his children, his wife would no longer even hold his hand.  His fortune was gone, his health was broken, and his friends attached him.  He was truly the dictionary definition of miserable.

In the midst of his desperation, he says some crazy stuff.  When you’re in the pit of sorrow, you can’t trust yourself.  That’s why Pastor Livingston preached to us that you don’t make decisions in the midst of an emotional valley.  Something happens though in this chapter. We all know verses 22 through 27, but I never remember reading this verse before.

We come to verse 10 and Job says, “mine hope hath He removed like a tree.”  God turned on a light, and my mind went back to the Tree Of Life.  Then it came to me, “wonder what tree in Hebrew here means?”  That had to be God, because if you had ask me that, I would have said, it means tree.  After all, it’s not rocket science, whether it’s planted in Jerusalem or Paris, I thought a tree was a tree, was a tree.  I was wrong.

Where a tree is planted makes all the difference in the world.  That is why God said in Psalms 1:3, “they were planted by the rivers of water…”  Psalms 92:13 says, “Those that be planted in the house of The Lord shall flourish in the courts of my God.”  The location, and the soil transforms so much, but so does the tree.

All trees can’t grow everywhere. Certain trees will flourish in some places more than others.  So the place is important. The soil is important. According to Psalms, The Planter is important. Finally the type of Tree is important.

You’re asking yourself, has he forgotten about the meaning of tree?  No, I’m here to tell you today. Neither myself nor God ever forgot about the Tree.  I don’t know if Job knew it at verse 10 or not.  In the background, God’s mighty voice, as the rush of many waters, was saying, I didn’t forget about the Tree!

God remembered the Tree Of Life in the Garden Of Eden.  He remembered how man cost themselves the hope of that tree.  He remembered the tears that fell in His Spirit.  Man’s tears ran down his face, at that time, God didn’t have a body, so there was no escape valve for His sorrow.  Our tears ran down our face, they were responsible for a river in His Spirit, without any outlet.  God carried the sorrow over thousands of years.  It was a Father mourning with the sorrow of a separated family.

After  Job uttered verse 10, something happened in that chapter.  I want you to look at it, I want you to read it.  I always thought that everything changed in verse 23.  I get so excited about verse 23, and everything does change there.  However, something started the change before we ever saw it.

Calvary was planned before Isaac took his first breath.  Abraham wasn’t an accident. All of this was God working towards restoring hope.  Hope has always been tied to a tree.  In the garden, it was tied to the tree of life, but the enemy pulled a bait and switch.

Eve focused on the wrong tree. Adam ate the fruit from the wrong vine. They went from sons of God to the fallen man.  One act took us from children of Heaven to dogs, and quite literally we barked up the wrong tree.

What had to happen?  God had to bring hope back, so we come back to Job.  The word tree there, number 6086 in the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, is the word Ês.  It means a tree, but more than a tree.  It means a tree (from its firmness); hence, wood: + carpenter, gallows, staff, timber.  It means some more things, but that’s just some of the words that are listed.  I left out a few, but I promise you, I did not mess with the order.

Job I didn’t take away your hope, Adam did that.  God didn’t take your tree away, Eve caused that to happen.  I’m paraphrasing obviously, but God was saying.  “Job, I didn’t take your children, your home, or your health, the enemy did that.”   Job I allowed it to happen, but I didn’t allow it to punish you.  I allowed it to show countless billions of souls what I can bring back.  Justin Timberlake, you bring back what you want to, I’ll bring back hope.”

You can listen to some of that stuff that Timberlake sings, and it will make you blush, but “hope maketh not ashamed.”  First, Job, God wrote your words in a book, and one day you will see Him.  Prior to that, there was some more work to do, some planting needed to happen. A baby was born in Bethlehem, a tree may have grown in Brooklyn, but a Tree Of Life was birthed in Israel.

God wrapped Himself in flesh. Flesh was always represented in Scripture with the planks of a tree.  The carpenter, now with flesh like us, walked to the gallows.  His back was gushing, not dripping with blood.  We have such an artistic, sanitized view of Calvary.  I promise you that there was nothing civilized about Golgotha.  The Lord Jesus turned that instrument of death into a staff to walk us out of sin.  Finally, He recreated us.  We went from rotting pieces of drift wood bound for hell, into branches of Tree.  He ssaid, “Iam the vine, and ye are the branches.” You were right over one thing Job, hope was always tied to a Tree.

As you read this, I don’t know where you’ve placed your hope, but I would like to encourage you.  If you know Him, and you’re going through a trial, hang on, He is working it out. We have been promised victory from someone who spanned time and Eternity to rescue us from sin.

If you haven’t placed your trust in The Lord Jesus today, I promise you this.  Your life with Him will uproot all your fears.  Every attack, for we all are attacked by something, will end in victory.  It may not always look the way we first expect, but it will always end the way it should.

You say, how can you promise that?  I can, because I know The Carpenter.  I trust in a Tree that wept in Gethsemane’s garden, but taunted death from outside an empty tomb.  You see, I’ve tied my hopes to a tree that doesn’t bend, bow, or break.  This Tree will remain standing when the world around it crumbles into dust.

Hebrews 1:11-12

11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;

12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

Four Hours From Montrose

“Coach Johnson, when will you be leaving?” He stopped and looked at the reporter. He wanted to frown and say “No comment.” Instead he smiled, “Haven’t made any travel plans yet Ron.” Then he waived to the reporters and headed for his office.

 Jason “Jace” Johnson had been a high school star, SEC, and National champ. He was awarded the Heisman trophy.  He had three Super Bowl rings, two as quarterback,  and one as Head Coach.  That was three years ago. 

 For the last three seasons nothing had went right professionally.  He had lost his star quarterback to a richer team, more players followed the next year. Today he had rookies that at times showed great promise. Then there was the majority of the games in the season. For months the rumors were flying farther than the passes.

 It wasn’t “If he was leaving”, it was “When!?”

 He had a grand baby on the way, with two sons in college, and a son in law starting as Offensive Coordinator in Tennessee. His daughter was going to name their son Jace William Wilkes after the Grandpas.  Money and pride weren’t the issue, he just felt like this team and his staff had one more in them.

 The owner, Hunter Carlisle had been out of the country when the rumors began. They were friends, but this was business. He decided that he had to make a choice. He felt he had two obligations to Hunter, and the team.

 One was to lead them to the Super Bowl. The other was not to let himself stand in the way of a chance to get there. Jace believed in his team. He also believed that he could lead them to victory. One obstacle was the questions hanging over the team.

 Whether it meant a new coach, or reassuring the team that they had at least another year, was up to him.  He had to make sure that the question of next year was answered, even if he wasn’t a part of that answer.  He was at Hunter’s office the next morning.

 Hunter was a tall man, with blue eyes.  He now had, as he put it, snow for hair, and kept it in the same buzz cut he had in the Army.  They were both getting older, Jace’s green eagle eyes now needed glasses.  They both moved a lot stiffer than they had playing against each other in college. 

 “Jace, how is my favorite Tennesseean?” Jace smiled, that was always how Hunter referred to his friend. Hunter was from Alabama, and a die hard Crimson Tide fan. Some of his relatives were still upset that he had hired a former Volunteer. “Still wearing orange on my day off, and rooting for them on Saturdays.”

 They made small talk for a little while, each knowing why he was there. “So Hunter, I could sit here all day and pitch next year to you. Or I could spend a few hours telling you why you need someone else.  Either one would put you into a tough position.”

 “If you keep me, they’ll say it’s sentiment, or laziness on your part. If you fire me, you’ll be an owner with over the top expectations. Either way, the team loses. If I resign, they’ll say I was pushed out. If they don’t say that, they’ll say I’m running, or leaving for a better job.”

 “The only real answer is for us to make an announcement together. If you think I’m finished here, I’ll retire, hang up my hat, and route from the sidelines. If you still have confidence in me, we’ll keep going until next season.”

 “I feel like that I have one good year left. I think this group of players can be great, under the right circumstances. As long as we end the question, not in the press, but in their minds. What play are we going to make?”

 “Do you remember the year we won the Super Bowl? That night, about midnight, I was rushed to the emergency room, open heart surgery. The next morning, you walked in the room. “I remember, I wanted to see my friend, not my boss.”  Hunter nodded, “I know, but I found out later how you got there.

 “The Denver airport was snowed in, you heard of the smaller airport in Montrose.  You rented a car, and four hours later you boarded a small plane that took you to Chicago.  From there, you came here, paying for the whole thing out of your pocket.”

 Jace took off his hat, exposing his salt graying hair.  “While I appreciate it, I don’t want personal feelings to factor in.  If you fired me today and were sick tomorrow, Brittany and I would be there.”  “I know, but I’m not viewing it just from a friendship point of view.”

 “I saw a man who was committed to a task.  One that he had every excuse, every reason, to give up, and didn’t.  Jace, if you think you have even one more game, much less one more year in you, our team needs you.  I sincerely think you’ll lead us to another Super Bowl.  You’ve had to rebuild the team after Malcolm left us.”

 “I want you here for the long haul.  If you give up the whistle next year, if you’ll agree to it, I’ll hand you a coat and the title President. Compared to dealing with the media, the players, and the other teams, running the head office would be retirement for you.  You’re not the only one who has a grandchild on the way.”

 So, with that question answered, they held a press conference.  Hunter spoke before the reporters had a chance to start.  “Listen guys, thanks for coming.  I’ll keep it short.  Next year, Jace will coach our team to the Super Bowl.  After that, unless he wants to go another year, he’ll take over my job.  I’ve got grand babies, and a Governorship to prepare for.  That’s right, I’m running for my home state of Alabama’s head job, so I’ll need him here.  Let’s see who has the best score at the end of the day.”

 With that, Hunter gave them a new story, and lifted the pressure off of his Coach, and his team.  Everyone left there asking if Carlisle could win, not if Johnson would leave.  It was exactly what the team needed.  They didn’t win every game, but they won enough to find themselves trying to win some rings and a silver trophy one more time.

 Jace was true to his word as always.  That night he slipped a ring on his finger, and laid down his cap.  The next day his only complaint was how tight this new tie was around his neck.  Hunter would go on to win not only the Governor’s job twice, but a Senate seat as well.

 Jace’s mind went back to that small airport, and a four hour car ride through the snow and ice. When he checked the rental car in, the man said, “You must have somewhere important to go to have traveled through this.”  “Yes, I’ve got a sick friend in the hospital.”  The man looked at him again.  “You’re Coach Johnson! You just won the Super Bowl.  You just finished that, and you’re concerned about a sick friend.  He must be a good one.”

 Jace smiled, “Yes, it’s more than that though.  You see, if I were in that hospital, hurting, scared, and alone.  It would give me the will to win to see my best friend walk through the door.  That’s why I’m going, right now, he needs the will to win this battle.”

 In the end, he gave not only Hunter, but his team, and himself the will to win.  The team didn’t just win another Super Bowl, and Hunter didn’t just win a few elections.  Jace had four coaches who went on to win Super Bowls for other franchises.  Two quarterbacks and four more players ended up in the Hall Of Fame.  One of Hunter’s protégé’s would go on to win the White House, all because of a commitment and a four hour drive to Montrose.

 

Cambridge’s: An Emporium?

“Imagine it, an emporium? With all kinds of items as far as the eye can see. Cambridge’s will be the most important store in all of England.” Winston Jr. was absolutely beaming with excitement. His Father smiled at him. He let his son enjoy the adventure of his imagination for a few minutes, then sat him down.

“Son, you have a bright and an exciting future ahead. I don’t doubt that you could make this the single most vital merchant location in all of Europe. If you choose to do that, I’ll back you one hundred and twenty percent. Before you do though, I’d like you to look around.”

Winston Jr. did so with an open heart. He knew his Father had something to teach him, and even if it wasn’t what he wanted to learn, he trusted him. “Son, do you see all of the things that we carry here? Is there another store in our community?

How many years have we been in business? I submit that, on a much smaller scale than you imagined, we are an emporium. We have everything from Mr. Clark’s foot pillows to Mrs. Carol’s pinching shears.” His son nodded his head, but still had a look of uncertainty on his face.

“When I opened this store, it was to woo your Mother, not to make money. At this cash register, the Doctor delivered you because we were snowed in, and you got in a hurry.” He didn’t say it but Winston Jr. was always in a hurry, it came with the eagerness of youth.

“That happened on a Tuesday at 12:05. I opened this store on a Monday at 11:30. Your sister Sophia, was born on a Wednesday at 7:00. I could also give you the times of Nicholas, Katrina, and Miles.

This store is not only filled with every item this town could need. It’s filled with memories, with laughter, with life. It has in it’s fibers a love for the past, an excitement for the present, and a hope for the
future.”
Winston was on his feet, the excitement of wisdom was pumping through his older joints. “It’s not only our family that has invested here. Your girl’s parents met in the gardening section. The Mayor of our little hamlet was convinced to run in the produce section. This place is gleaming with the history of living, breathing people.

None of them have made us millionaires, but they have made a difference in our lives, and they’ve blessed us to make a difference in others.” “As I say, you could very well make this bigger than Harrods, but before you do, think of this. I always say, ‘Nothing ever happens at 4:00.’ Why do you think I do that?”

With that, Winston left his son standing and headed for the car. They sat silently as they began the short journey from town to home. The younger Winston was struggling with this information. He still didn’t completely understand. “Why could you do one and not do the other?”

“Oh you could, without question, I chose not to for one reason. All of that time, all of that energy to build an empire. I had to make the choice too, that’s where I got the phrase ‘Nothing ever happens at 4:00.’ I looked ahead in time, and saw my face fifty years in the future. I saw two versions of it.”

“What were they?” Winston smiled, he had his attention. “One was wearing a thousand dollar suit. I was so important that the most powerful business men were at my elbows. Everything sparkled, including my complexion. I was happy, I was rich, I even had halfway decent relationships with my family.”

“I almost chose that path, until I looked at the empire I had built. It was a galleria of merchandise, it made only one thing, money to buy more merchandise. It would go on after my death, and after the death of my next two successors. “

“You see, I remember the names of businessmen that everyone else has forgotten. Americans watch the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade every year without knowing something. They watch without realizing that the letters R.H. were in front of Macy before the parade followed it.

He hadn’t needed my help to turn a store into an empire. Neither had those famous men who came before him, and neither would those who came after. If the business empire was going to be built anyway, why waste my energy building it?”

“That’s when I saw the other version of my face. I was economically successful with a good business. Our store supplied the entire town. More importantly, we were friends with our neighbors. We were truly, and not in lip service only, involved in our Church.”

“I may not have had the ear of tycoons, but the most important men in our town asked for my advice. They did so, not only in business, but in conditions of the heart, life adventures, and in mattes of the soul.”

“Instead of a decent relationship with my family, we were completely in love with one another. Every member of our immediate family actually liked the others. We would have arguments, face disagreement, even snap at times. When the day ended though, we would love each other.”

They got out of the car and made their way up the snowy walkway. Winston Jr. asked his Father, “When did you make your decision?” Winston smiled, stopping briefly on the stoop. “When I was 21, underneath the Olsen Clock at 3:59pm on a Monday afternoon.”

The Italian Hatmaker

Guiseppe Cavallaro had a long history, and an adventurous life.  You wouldn’t think it to look at him, sewing leather in his hat shop.  You also wouldn’t expect that his house shop was not in Sicily, but in London.
He had been there for twenty years, he and his wife Laurel.  They had added five children to the Cavallaro family.  Of course, no one knew them by that name. To the world, they were Joseph and Laura Cavalier.
They hid their identity to secure a life together.  Guiseppe had not been famous or infamous.  His life began simply as a simple Italian hat maker in his native Italy.  Until the night he was kidnapped, and placed on a slow boat to France.
He expected his captor, when he finally met him, to have a French accent.  What he didn’t expect was to be staring in the face of the King Of England.
This was how Guiseppe’s rocky journey began, but he hadn’t minded long.  For the next face he saw was the French Princess Laurel, heir to the throne of France.  He didn’t know how, he didn’t know why, but he knew that he loved her.   Even when she said that he was ugly.
He laughed now at his words to his cell mate that night.  “I will marry her.” Ethan laughed, “She doesn’t even like you!  On top of the fact that her Papa is the King Of France no less, she says you’re ugly!  ”  His reply, “Yes, but she said it so beautifully!”
Find out how “The Italian Hatmaker” escapes the King in the next installment of our latest serial.

My Partner

Her name is Ashley Dawn Pruitt, she is my Wife, my Soulmate, my Partner, and my Friend. I love her so much! I wanted to take a few minutes and share how extra special that she is. While it will not surprise you to know that, next to God, she is my life, there’s something our readers may not know.

Of course she is the inspiration to much of my writing, but she is also my first Editor. If she is within ear shot, before it goes on the page she hears it. When I can’t ask her first, she’s the first one I ask when I see her. If she doesn’t like it, something gets changed, and not because she asks either. She is my biggest supporter, if she has issues with it, then I know our readers will.

The story L.O.C. And Key happened as a means to entertain her one night. Prevot Said No began the same, as did some others. If it wasn’t for this beautiful lady, there would be nothing of mine on amazon today.

I owe her so much more than my writing. Our love story is one that I think is a best seller. At least I recall it’s history regularly. I won’t take the time to share it all here, but I will say this. God and Precious Friends brought us together, and one hundred years worth of treasure couldn’t repay them for it.

If you have a spouse that loves you, hug her today. If you don’t, do not settle for less than who The Lord has for you. I waited thirty one years, and it was worth every second. They are out there. Don’t sell yourself something worth far less than who God intends to give you. It may be old fashioned, even out of style, but the right one partners with you to fulfill your destiny.

Visionaries

Since the beginning, God has selected very special people to be the Vision Carriers of His plan. They have been charged with communicating and casting that vision for God’s people. Men like Enoch, Noah, Moses, and Simon Peter both cast and carried God’s Message to man.

Today we call them Pastors, in Revelation, God called them the Angels of the Church. The calling they fulfill is not easy, and can at times, be very lonely. Yet, in every generation, faithful Men Of God have stood unwavering sharing God’s love. Cherish the Man Of God that He has placed in our lives to guide, edify, and direct us toward the future.

At our Church, Point Of Mercy, this Sunday, Senior Pastor Denny Livingston will share with us the theme for the new year. This theme will challenge us to draw closer to our God, care more for His people, and reach out to a hurting world. God has great plans for us in 2014, and I can’t wait to see what God has given our Pastor for our Church this Sunday!

The Flop: The Prime Minister Doesn’t Like Me

I wondered how long it would take, a day, two, before he found it. Meyersmith was good, possibly the best I had ever faced. Jean Luc was in no danger, Meyersmith loved animals. He would know that the cat was a riddle, he would enjoy solving it.

So I waited, I visited areas of Novia Scotia, enjoyed a little of a Christmas vacation, and planned my next move. He found me in a local book store that sold coffee. We both loved coffee, and I had developed a sweet tooth, one that I regretted every morning in the gym.

When he set down with his crueler and his coffee, his first words were “Really?” I laughed, only he could put so much sarcasm into one word. I know that you have been briefed on him, but the official record is so cold. Avgust Meyyerkuznets, or Augustus Meyersmith has British and Russian citizenship. His Father was a Russian diplomat, his Mother was a member of Parliament.

“You scared my courier, not to mention put him in the hospital.” “He didn’t tell you? He lunged at me, I moved, and he fell. He caused his own injury.” I laughed, “He said something about being glad to be alive.”

Our conversation came back to Jean Luc, whom I heard meowing from behind me. He had returned him, no wonder I started sneezing again. “So you have it?” “Yes, but I must be slipping, it took me longer than it used too.” “It wasn’t designed to be easy, it was planned to be untraceable.” “Edward, you know nothing is untraceable.”

Mr. President, this meeting meant something else. He had the eagle, but he didn’t know what it was yet. It was an interrogation. He wanted to know what it was, how to use it, and what the repercussions were. It was time for a trip, and a meeting with his superior. I wasn’t looking forward to it, after all the Prime Minister doesn’t like me.