"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!'"
July 30, 2008
I'm sure that most of us have either made the comment or have heard someone say, "I intended to do such and such, but..." Or "I had planned on doing this or going there, but...." Sometimes it may be because something important occurred that changed our plans, but many times it's because we had too many other things going on, and were busy, and simply forgot; or else we just didn't get around to it. Perhaps we thought of it, but were doing something else at the time, so thought we'd take care of it later.
This has been such a week for me. My normal schedule for doing this weekly newsletter is that I begin working on writing it and putting it together on Thursday and Friday. I take the weekend off so my husband can use the computer (for both work and play). On Monday, I go back and do edits and rewrites. Tuesday is the day I do final proofreading and editing. Then Tuesday evenings is when Jon does a final proofreading, writes his paragraph, and publishes it on our website so that it will be ready for our readers first thing Wednesday morning. Then Wednesday is basically a day where I begin to pray and start thinking of ideas for the next week's newsletter. If I know that I'm going to be out of town or busy one of those days, then I rearrange my schedule so that I still have plenty of time devote to the newsletter another day. I know there may be times when it may seem like I just throw this together, but I really do put a lot of prayer, time and work into this each week.
This is our 73rd newsletter that we've written, and for the first time ever, I got busy and sidetracked and didn't follow the schedule whatsoever. Here it is Monday evening, and I am just now beginning to work on the newsletter; which means I have tonight and tomorrow to get it all written, re-written, proofed and edited. I'm looking back over the past week and wondering where time went!
I have a nephew who is in the Army and stationed in South Korea. His wife and three and a half month old baby daughter were here for a month visiting. They came so everyone could see the baby girl. They left this past Sunday, so Jon and I went to my sister's house last Thursday evening to see them before they left.
I had been planning on waiting until this week to mow, but after hearing the forecast last Friday and how many days were lined up with temperatures over 100, I decided that I needed to go ahead and get the mowing done. So that threw me off.
Jon's mom had a surprise 70th birthday party for his dad on Saturday, so we were busy most of the day on Saturday with that.
Then on Friday, I got the sad news that a special friend, that I had worked with at the bank in Missouri for thirteen and a half years, passed away early that morning. She had a lung infection for the past few months, then was diagnosed with lung cancer the first week in July. They started her on chemo, but she just wasn't strong enough to handle it and ended up in the hospital last week. It was very shocking and surprising to hear of her death. I left Sunday afternoon to drive to Missouri to attend her memorial service on Monday morning. I stopped by to visit my stepmother afterwards, and arrived back home this evening. It's about a three and a half hour drive.
In addition to all of the above, it seems like I've had another dozen or more things going on. This has been a week of celebration, sorrow, joy, tears, sweat and hard work, traveling, etc. In the midst of all this, I intended to write the newsletter, but.....!
It really doesn't matter how good my intentions were. Since I did nothing about it, nothing was accomplished. It was only when I actually sat down at the computer this evening and began typing that results started happening. Intentions didn't do the work for me.
Many men go through life intending on getting their business or career or finances established so they can begin spending more time with their family. Only things keep coming up and it never happens. There is always one more important client to see, one more business opportunity that's too good to pass up, one more promotion to work towards, just a few more deals to seal in order to get finances more secure. Kids grow up, health problems occur, marriage and relationships fail or grow apart, etc., and he looks back to see that he never fulfilled his intentions.
Kids don't want to hear their parents tell them that someday they'll go on vacation or do activities together as a family; they want to experience those things. Spouses don't want to hear that as soon as things slow down or get settled that they will begin spending more time together as a couple. Telling them that you will go somewhere or do something with them, only to come up with excuses and break your word causes hurt and distrust. You can lose friends by continuously postponing and procrastinating getting together with them. People don't want to hear promises made; they want to see results. One of the fastest ways to losing the love and respect of your family and friends is by not keeping your word. Having good intentions doesn't build relationships.
My point is, intentions are of no value until you do something about them.
There are many people who intend to begin attending church someday. Or they intend to straighten up their life and mend their sinful ways. There are even those who want to enjoy sin for a season, but intend on asking God for forgiveness before they reach the end of their lives. A lot of people intend to pray, read their Bible and have a relationship with God. But whether it's from busyness or distractions, or any other number of reasons; their intentions never come to pass.
There is a saying, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." Too many people intended to have time to repent before their lives came to an end, only they put it off one day too late. I'm sure if we were able to interview those who died without God in their lives and are spending eternity in hell, we'd hear a large majority of them say that they intended to make things right but they waited too long.
Death is no respecter of person, and will eventually come to us all. We don't know when and we don't know how, but it will occur. With all the technology in our world today, we are able to pinpoint a lot of facts and details. But one thing that man has never been able to develop is a technology that will pinpoint the exact time that death will occur for an individual. And that is something that man will never be able to invent. Only God knows the exact time, date, and circumstances of how we will enter eternity.
In Matthew25:1-12, Jesus is teaching and gives the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. There were ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of the virgins were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps but took no oil with them. The wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While they were waiting for the appearance of the bridegroom, they all began to slumber and sleep. At midnight a cry was heard that the bridegroom was coming; go out to meet him. All the virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." The wise said, "No, or there may not be enough for both us and you. Go to those who sell, and buy some for yourselves." While they went out to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came and asked that the door be opened up to them. But the bridegroom replied, "Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you."
The five foolish virgins probably had good intentions of buying oil and being prepared for the bridegrooms coming. They more than likely didn't want to be caught unprepared. But perhaps they got busy with other preparations and never got around to going and buying the oil. They may have thought that they had plenty of time and took care of everything else, leaving this until the last second to see to. Perhaps, they counted on being able to borrow from someone else. Whatever their excuse or reason, they were unprepared for the coming of the bridegroom. Too late, they tried to go find someone to sell oil to them. The end result was that they were too late for the wedding and were unable to attend. No matter how much they knocked on the door and begged to be let in, it was too late and the bridegroom didn't recognize their cries.
Jesus gave this parable when He was teaching about his second return to earth to rapture those who are watching and ready for His appearance. Scripture teaches us that not everyone will see death. There will come a day when those who believe in Jesus and are ready for His coming will be suddenly taken away from this earth. People have been watching and waiting for His appearing ever since Jesus returned back to Heaven, after coming in the form of man to die for our sins. It very well could happen in our lifetime. The Bible states that no one but the Father (God) knows the day nor hour when this will occur. I personally believe that this could occur at any time, and that I may never see death but could be raptured (suddenly taken up) to Heaven instead. 1 Corinthians 15:52 says that it will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
1 Thessalonians chapters 4 and 5 speak of this. Chapter 4 verses 16 and 17 says, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord."
Just as in the parable of the ten virgins, that day will occur, and there will those who had good intentions of making things right between themselves and God. They thought they had plenty of time to repent and accept the salvation freely offered them by Jesus, but they will find that they waited too long. They expected to grow old and have time to get things settled between them and God before they reach the end of their life. But in the meantime, the bridegroom (Jesus) appears and they find that their "lamps are without oil". They will find that the door of opportunity has been closed and that the wedding has started without them. No amount of begging and pleading will make any difference. Is God being mean and spiteful? No, for He is giving each of us ample opportunity to settle things and repent today.
1 Thessalonians 5:9,10 says, "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep (meaning whether we are alive and are raptured or whether we die), we should live together with Him."
If there is a spiritual issue in your life that needs to be resolved, don't delay with good intentions. But take time to get it taken care of today. You'll find your life will be filled with more peace and joy than you could ever imagine.
If it's issues with your family or career, don't put it off, intending on making changes at some point later. Time is something that we can never get back. Once it's gone, it's gone. God can give us second chances. But we can't go back and redo past mistakes or relive our days. But we can decide to make a difference and have a fresh start. If we look for a time that is more convenient or when circumstances are better, we will never change, but continue on as we are with our good intentions. Sometimes it's a matter of knowing we cannot allow things to go on as they are, and deciding to do something about it right then and there.
I don't want to get to the end of my life and look back with a list of intentions that never got accomplished. But I want to have a clean slate and know that I lived my life the way that God wanted.
Take a moment and ask if there are any "good intentions" that need to be taken care of in your life. If so, decide right here and now to do something about it. Don't delay, thinking that you can do it later. If so, later may come too late.
James 4:13-16 says, "Come now, ye tat say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain': whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. ... For that you ought to say, 'If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that'." Just as several things tried to interrupt Loretta in the past week, we can't often predict what changes and interruptions we will face. In this case, it may have been speed bumps that Satan had meant to be roadblocks. But God's will has prevailed.
Loretta has done a great job with this newsletter. Even in the worst of circumstances, she has gotten it ready in time. She (and I) are committed to this newsletter. But we always need to remember what a commitment really is. We are committed to continue this newsletter, as the Lord wills, as He inspires Loretta, and for His benefit.
My sisters and I were raised on cocoa gravy for breakfast. Yum-yum!! Growing up, it seems like Mama would make this for breakfast for us at least once or twice a week. This is Mama's recipe that was passed on down to my sisters. When she got sick and my older sisters started taking over a lot of the cooking, she taught them how to make it. She never used a recipe herself, so had to guess at how much of each ingredient that she used. I'm sure that Mama learned how to make this from her mom. My sisters all made it for their families when their kids were growing up -- and still do today. I've made it for Jon a couple times, but haven't had the practice that my sisters have had; therefore, mine doesn't turn out quite as good as theirs does. When I was single and would visit one of my sisters, they would make this for me for breakfast as a special treat. This is probably my ultimate comfort food because it reminds me of my childhood years and how special they were.
And this is not just something "dreamed up" by the Parton family (my mom's family). I have run into people from other parts of the country who grew up eating this for breakfast and know exactly what cocoa gravy (or chocolate gravy, as some of them call it) is. I was recently talking to one of Jon's cousins, and found out that her husband's mom used to make it for them. One of my sisters and her husband were working in a church in Fort Smith, AR several years ago, and they found out that the pastor had grown up eating cocoa gravy, and at that time, had his wife make it for him every Sunday night after church.
This is probably one of those things that you will absolutely love or absolutely dislike.
4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
4 Tbsp. Cocoa
Pinch of salt
Pour the milk into a 2 quart saucepan and begin to warm until milk steams. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, flour, cocoa and salt. Add just enough warm milk from the saucepan to the mixture and stir well to make a pour-able sauce (this will keep it from getting lumpy). When the milk in the pan begins to steam, pour the mixture very slowly into the milk, stirring constantly. Cook until it bubbles and thickens. (If you don't stir, it will begin to stick to the pan and will scorch.) Remove from heat and add vanilla (approx. 1 tsp) and a big chunk or spoonful of butter. Serve over hot biscuits.
While in Missouri on Monday, I saw a lot of old friends and co-workers. I told my husband that it had been very good for my ego! Several times I was told that I looked good and younger than ever and that marriage really agreed with me. My conclusion was that when I worked with them, I was probably under a lot more stress with my supervisory job during those years, and it showed on me. After dealing with grumpy customers, employee disputes and the stress of the job, I probably looked tense all the time. Or it could have been that on my way up to Missouri Sunday evening, I stopped and picked up a box of hair color. After I got to our family home, where I spent the night, I colored my hair so that none of my gray would be showing when I saw my friends. And I wore black which is supposed to be more slimming. I figured that I needed all the help that I could get! But overall, I'm positive that marriage does really agree with me and has made me very happy!!
After the memorial service, I was standing outside greeting some of my old co-workers and feeling quite good about myself, while listening to them all tell me how great I looked. I was wearing a black skirt with small white polka dots on it. The outer layer of the skirt is sheer with a black lining underneath. The sun was shining very brightly outside where we were all standing. I looked and saw my best friend motioning me to go over to where she was. The way the sun was hitting my skirt, she could see what she thought was a tag on my slip that showed the size. I told her that I wasn't wearing a slip with the skirt having the lining in it. I felt and thought it was a tag that had been sewn between the liner and the outer fabric. Thankfully, there was a ribbon belt around the waist of the skirt, so I just slid it around a little so that that the ends would cover over the tag. Needless to say, that kind of took a little air out of my ego! When I got back to the house to change clothes, I decided to cut that tag out so I wouldn't forget before I wore it again. Come to find out, it wasn't a tag that was sewn it, but was a big sticker that had got stuck onto the liner with a size printed all down it. And the size printed was a larger size than what the skirt was or what I have ever worn, so apparently it had somehow got put on there while it was in the store. I had recently bought the skirt and had only worn it a couple of times.
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
We love you!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read our newsletter. We appreciate you very much.
Loretta & Jon