"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
February 1, 2017
Many times we associate certain dates, places, occasions, or even people with good or bad memories. We may anticipate or dread certain things, due to something that happened at some point in our life.
For example, for me, the month of February has some very emotional events tied to it. My first major memory happened in 1971 when I was saved and filled with the Holy Ghost during a revival when I was 5 years old. That was the best decision I've ever made! February was also the month that Jon proposed to me in 2005. That was a very good thing, too! February was the month that my sister, Janie, married Jimmy; and I got to be maid-of-honor in their wedding. Another good memory.
But not all of my memories related to the month of February are good. My Mama passed away on February 22, 1981. That was one of the most heart-breaking moments of my life!
Recently, I went to the doctor for a wellness exam. The last time I had a physical was in 2013, so I was long overdue. I don't like going to the doctor! My last wellness exam hadn't been a pleasant experience; not that having a physical is ever enjoyable. Part of the problem was the nurse that I had. The doctor zeroed in on my weight, which I already know is too much. "If you'd lose 20 pounds, you'd bring your cholesterol down and feel better." Really?!? I've never thought of that or tried it!! (Insert sarcasm!) I didn't actually say that, but did think it. The lady doing my lab work had a difficult time drawing blood. My veins roll and are hard to get a needle in, so I drink lots and lots of water prior to having blood drawn, to make it a little easier. She had a hard time, and poked around with a needle, trying to hit a vein..... and long story short, I almost passed out! I broke out in a cold sweat, she pushed my head down towards my knees, and put wet paper towels on the back of my neck. I had a huge bruise on my arm from the blood being drawn (which commonly happens to me.) It overall wasn't a very pleasant experience, which is why I had waited for almost 4 years before going back.
Leading up to the appointment, I was full of dread! I just KNEW that the doctor was going to focus on my weight (Yes, I know that I am overweight!), and make a big ordeal about it. I was dreading the lab work. I was dreading the nurse. I had a couple of lumps that I was getting checked out, and was dreading that. I couldn't foresee anything pleasant about the entire visit!
Surprisingly, all went very smoothly! The doctor never even mentioned my weight. It was a different nurse from last time, and she was very down to earth and made me feel comfortable. The lady who did my lab work had a hard time finding a good vein, but got the needle in first try; and it never even left a bruise. All the lab results came back normal. My bad cholesterol level was better than last time. One of the lumps was lipoma, which is basically fatty cells; and is very common. The second one on the base of my neck, is likely lipoma, too. But my doctor sent me to get a thyroid ultrasound, due to family history. There is a small nodule on my thyroid (that likely wouldn't have been found, had it not been for this lump on my throat, so "Thank you, Jesus!"), and my doctor is referring me to an Endocrinologist; and the quickest appointment I can get isn't until May.
People can eat at a favorite restaurant ten times and get great food and service, but let them have one really bad experience where they get sick after eating there, and they will blackball ever going back. Many times, they will then tell others to never eat there, because the food is bad and will make you sick. One bad experience can change their previous glowing reviews.
There are times when people can be hurt by church situations or other Christians, then that sours them on anything to do with "religion". Afterwards, they will label anyone who attends church as being hypocrites and choose to be offended by anyone or anything related to christianity. In their mind, what happened to them is associated with all Christians, therefore, they put everyone in the same box and can't differentiate between truth and offense.
Sadly, many also attach the outcome of various situations to their view of God. If they pray for something or someone, and their prayers aren't seemingly answered, then it makes them angry at God. They will blame Him, make excuses for their loss of faith, and choose to turn their back on fully serving Him.
The truth is, in all situations, our reaction and response and expectation is based on choice! Not the choice of others, but our own personal choice. We can't place the blame on anyone else, because only we can truly control our response.
Even though losing my mom was one of the greatest seasons of grief I've ever experienced, I could choose to either focus on that and dread February and the sad memories that are attached; or I could remember the precious memories related to Mama. I could choose to focus on the grief and sadness, or choose to focus on all the good things and blessings that I've experienced during the month of February. I choose to focus on the blessing and joy!
What a waste of time it was for me to dread the visit to the doctor, obsessing about what I thought she would focus on! It ended up, what I had feared never came to pass; and in fact, wasn't even mentioned.
It's the same when we allow anything related to church or Christians to blur our perspective of what having a relationship with God is really all about. What a shame, when someone refuses to associate with a church or other believers, simply because of a negative incident. The end result is that they don't get the spiritual encouragement, prayer support, and camaraderie of time spent with brothers and sisters in Christ.
Even more important, associating God with hurt or anger of situations, and allowing it to skew our vision, can cause eternal separation. It will also cause less peace and more turmoil during our life on earth. When we lose hope, we lose purpose.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."
Isaiah 26:3 tells us, "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!"
The most important choice that we can ever make in life is to keep our eyes on Jesus and fix our thoughts on Him! When we do so, He will keep us in perfect peace.
I've heard coins used to demonstrate opposite feelings. One side could be faith, and the other doubt, etc. For today, one side can be dread, and the other hope. No matter what you call them, you can look at one side or the other, or spin it and go back and forth between the two sides. But you can never really focus on both sides at once. And switching which one you look at should be as simple as turning the coin over.
Here's an interesting aspect of the analogy: Both sides are the same size. If the dread is the size of a dime, so is the hope. And if the hope is as big as a quarter, so is the dread. You can still choose which side to focus on.
Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350.
Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.
Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.
Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. (The tops will not brown, but do NOT cook longer than 10 minutes.)
Makes approximately 3 dozen. You can freeze any extra cookies for later, if there are any leftovers.
More Church Bulletin Bloopers:
The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.
Hymn: "I Love Thee My Ford."
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.
The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.
Sermon Outline: 1. Delineate your fear 2. Disown your fear 3. Displace your rear
It is only when God does more IN us, that He can do more THROUGH us! - Christine Caine
We love you!
Loretta & Jon