it’s here







Enter by the narrow gate….Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life…. —Matthew 7:13-14

All Efforts of Worth and Excellence Are Difficult

If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all efforts of worth and excellence are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but its difficulty does not make us faint and cave in— it stirs us up to overcome. Do we appreciate the miraculous salvation of Jesus Christ enough to be our utmost for His highest— our best for His glory?

God saves people by His sovereign grace through the atonement of Jesus, and “it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). But we have to “work out” that salvation in our everyday, practical living (Philippians 2:12). If we will only start on the basis of His redemption to do what He commands, then we will find that we can do it. If we fail, it is because we have not yet put into practice what God has placed within us. But a crisis will reveal whether or not we have been putting it into practice. If we will obey the Spirit of God and practice in our physical life what God has placed within us by His Spirit, then when a crisis does come we will find that our own nature, as well as the grace of God, will stand by us.

Thank God that He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a joyous thing, but it is also something that requires bravery, courage, and holiness. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10), and God will not shield us from the requirements of sonship. God’s grace produces men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not pampered, spoiled weaklings. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the worthy and excellent life of a disciple of Jesus in the realities of life. And it is always necessary for us to make an effort to live a life of worth and excellence.





my hero

‘Ms. Carolyn’ a major ingredient in eatery’s ‘secret sauce’
MARCH 19, 2015
By Jeff Keeling

Carolyn Pickens enjoys a laugh with customers Kat and Jameson Cline.
Kat, Jameson and Samuel Cline light up as the cheerful, grandmotherly “Ms. Carolyn” approaches the Chick-fil-A booth where they’re enjoying lunch. Bar towel in hand, she shifts out of spick-and-span mode, leans over and catches up on how they’re doing before giving the siblings some love.

Pickens, who has worked at the restaurant on Peoples Street for seven years and will turn 75 this year, is a weekday fixture. Her duties are an amalgam of cleaning, bussing tables, playing hostess and – perhaps most importantly – cementing herself as an integral part of the Chick-fil-A experience for dozens, if not hundreds, of locals.

“We’ve known Carolyn for awhile,” Gretchen Cline, Kat, Jameson and Samuel’s mom, says. “We love her. She’s always assisting us – we’re gluten free, and she always sneaks us ice cream.”

Cline says she and her kids don’t soak up all of Pickens’ warmth when they’re at the restaurant.

“She’s the same for everybody – everybody’s grandma. And when she’s not here, we look for her, because our Chick-fil-A experience is not the same without Carolyn.”

Nearly 160 years of life experience in one cute package: Chick-fil-A’s Nola Sams, left, and Carolyn Pickens. Photo by Jeff Keeling
At this point in her life it comes naturally to the mother of three, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of two, who spent 23 years working at Minco, a local manufacturing firm. On a typical busy lunch hour she’s clearly in her element, both as diligent master of cleanliness and as purveyor of what owner Tim Burchfield calls the place’s “secret sauce.”

Burchfield says Pickens epitomizes the approach he strives to instill in his team, which involves treating guests, “like they were coming to your house for dinner,” he says.

The basic elements, beyond good food, include tidying up where guests will be, making sure restrooms are spotless, and then enjoying one another’s company, Burchfield says. That includes treating others, from patrons to coworkers, with, “honor, dignity and respect,” he adds. Pickens interacts with people at a level that causes many customers to associate her with those principles.

“I’m convinced people come to the restaurant because, ‘that’s where Ms. Carolyn works, and we want to go because we like her and the way she treats us.’ Not only might they drive by another Chick-fil-A restaurant, they’d probably drive by 10 other restaurants to come there.

“When you talk about the secret sauce. It’s that combination, done with genuine heart, that people recognize – because what she’s doing’s not fake.”

For her part, Pickens says she appreciates the restaurant chain’s worldview (avowedly Christian) and the freedom she says that creates for employees to follow as the spirit may lead. “It’s a place of prayer,” she says. “You don’t have to worry about praising the Lord, and if the people come in here and they’re sick, I can pray with them.”

Asked if she’s grown close with the youngsters who comprise the bulk of the staff, she says, “oh yes, honey” – but also points to her friendship with co-worker Nola Sams, 10 years her senior. Just like the group gathered around her in support when her stepson took his life, she says, that support extends even to customers.

She recalls James and Darlene, regular customers who became special to the group. James, who was wheelchair bound, “passed away recently. We went to the funeral and everything, and Chick-fil-A took food out there, took care of them.” Darlene still comes to the restaurant.

Asked if it stays pretty busy most all the time, ‘Ms. Carolyn’ smiles and says: “This place is blessed.”






I had a chance to visit Thrive Coffee.  Thrive is our “farmer direct” coffee that we serve nationwide.  We now serve great coffee.  We now serve a product with a great story.  Through our “farmer direct” purchasing, the farmers get top price for their coffee.










63rd national prayer breakfast


The world gathered in Washington DC in the spirit of JESUS.

Watch on c-span: