"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!'"
October 18, 2017
There is a quote by Christine Caine that says, "It takes courage to let go of where we are and reach for what's ahead."
Letting go is often one of the hardest things to do. We often want to hold onto what is familiar, even though we may know that it's not what is best for us. Sometimes we'd rather stay where we are because we know what to expect, although it may be wearing us down and causing hurt, rather than move into the unknown. But letting go of hurt, fear, unforgiveness, anger, guilt, shame, failure, regret, worry, and past mistakes is easier when we understand that God is in control and has a much better plan for us.
I read a quote by an unknown source that says, "What God has in store for you is never in the past."
Proverbs 4:25-27: "Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil."
If we are keeping our eyes always straight ahead and have our gaze fix on what's in front of us, then there is no way that we can hold onto what's behind us. In fact, we have to keep letting go of what is beside of us in order to not stray to the left or right.
I don't know how to swim. So, I'm not very comfortable in water that is over my head. In fact, there are times when I'm not particularly comfortable if I'm in waist or chest deep water, knowing that should I fall or get knocked over, my head would go underwater. So if I'm in a pool, I tend to stay right beside the edge and hold onto the side. I'd like to be brave, but I have to really struggle to let go and move around. Jon has tried to teach me how to float, but I hate getting water in my ears. I can't see without glasses, and so dislike not being able to see clearly while in the water. I often wear contacts, but if I get water in my eyes and wipe them, the contacts will tend to fall out. I supposed I need goggles and earplugs! But I've never been motivated enough to push myself past my comfort zone. I think swimming looks like a lot of fun, and whenever I'm near a pool I wish I knew how, but that's not going to happen as long as my fingers cling to the side and refuse to let go.
That's often how we are with situations in our past or perhaps even in our present. We see the advantage of letting go and moving on, we know that what we're battling isn't in our best interest, yet we stubbornly cling to it and refuse to let go.
C.S. Lewis said, "Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward."
We are never going to grow in our relationship with God as long as we are holding onto something that hinders us from moving forward. We can want to all we want, but until we choose to surrender whatever it is that we are refusing to let go of from our past, then we'll stay in a rut and not ever go where God is willing to take us. In fact, it could cause us to revert back to that past situation and cause us to go backwards, instead of frontwards. We must choose to let go, one rung at a time, and move forward.
There are also times when we have to let go of tradition, even religious tradition, in order to move forward into that place where God is leading. It may make us squirm a little, and there may be a little resistance at first, but when we begin to see things happening and God working, it causes excitement to grow and momentum to begin to move in the right direction.
I've heard the example given that if you want to move a piano from one side of the church platform to the other, do it an inch at a time, to keep from people getting upset with the change. People tend to resist any type of change, wanting things to remain the same, even to their detriment.
Several weeks ago, we changed how we receive the tithe and offering on Sunday mornings. Our pastor taught a series on the biblical principles of giving. Malachi 3:10 tells us to, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."
Often we are refer to tithing as "giving" our tithe or the church "taking" up the offering. But the scripture tells us to "bring" our tithe. We aren't giving something and the church isn't taking something from us; but we are bringing our what God has already given to us.
Instead of the tradition of having ushers going down the aisles and collecting the offering, one Sunday our pastor felt led to have the congregation to get up and "bring" our tithe and offering to the front and put into the offering bags ourselves during our time of praise and worship; because really bringing our tithe and offering is an act of worship. That first week, people were a little unsure of what they were supposed to do and it felt a little awkward. But there was something that happened that week!
The next Sunday, when it came time for the offering, one of the quietest men in our church signed to the ushers, "You stay up there and we bring our offering up to you!" The pastor was like, "Alright!! That's what we'll do!" Since that time, people have become excited to be able to bring their offering. In fact, on weeks that they don't necessarily get a paycheck and have tithe to pay, they will collect all the loose change or dollars in their purse/wallet and bring it or they'll pray for money to come in that week so that they'll have something to give. They are excited and want to bring an offering. Our church finances have grown, people's financial situations have turned around, and they are seeing God answer prayers and providing for their all their needs.
In order for this to happen, we had to choose to let go of tradition, try something new, and change our way of thinking regarding tithe and offering -- we bring it instead of give it.
Isaiah 43:18-19 says, "Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it will spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
God is wanting to show us new things and do new works in our lives and bring about change and blessings that we've never experienced! But it requires us letting go and not remembering the former things or the things of old; but allowing Him to do a new thing. Setting our eyes forward and looking at what's ahead, not behind. That's what I want! What about you?
If I were skilled in illustrating, I'd draw what I picture in my head after reading Loretta's part. But I'll have to settle for describing it in writing.
I picture a person who has fallen off a cliff, and is hanging onto a barbed wire fence that has fallen over the cliffside, too. Their hands are cut and bleeding, and keep slipping down the barbed wire as fast as they can climb up. They are desperate to climb back up, and terrified of falling. They don't dare to look down because the distance would surely terrify them even more.
Someone tells them to just let go, and fall. That's just stupid. They know they have to keep trying to climb up, no matter how much it hurts.
But all the time, they are only inches above the floor of a dry creek. If they would let go, they could drop easily to solid ground.
We tend to clutch to what we see as our only way to safety, overlooking the much easier, and much safer way.
The cooler fall weather (at least cooler some days) has put me in the mood for soups and chili!!
1 can meat-only chili
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans
1 can (15 oz) black beans
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) corn (fiesta variety is good)
1 can Rotel
8 ounces, Velveeta, cubed
Without draining the cans, empty all of the ingredients, except the Velveeta, into a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes to bring all the flavors together.
Dice the Velveeta and stir it into the soup until melted. Serve immediately.
October is "Pastor Appreciation Month". Take a moment during this month to show your pastor some love and kindness. Here are a few ideas: give them a card with a handwritten message inside; give them a gift card to a restaurant or christian bookstore; bake them some cookies or make them a special meal; give them a hug and tell them what their ministry has meant to you personally... or write it down and give to them.
Pastors do more than just preach 1-2 times a week. They are on call 24/7 for all members of their congregation; they have to make decisions -- sometimes very difficult ones; they do hospital visitation or are there to lend support when families lose loved ones; they oversee church projects and ministries within the church; they prepare sermons (which takes a lot of time); and most importantly they pray for each member in their congregation, as well as their community..... plus other duties that arise. So show them some love this month to let them know that they are appreciated!
Let God have your life! He can do more with it than you can. - Dwight L. Moody
We love you!
Loretta & Jon