"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!'"
September 24, 2008
Occasionally I enjoy watching the old western TV shows, such as Gunsmoke and Bonanza. The good guys may get shot or hurt once in a while, but you know that in the end, good will triumph over evil. Sheriff Matt Dillon may get into messes with the bad guys and it looks impossible that he will survive, but at the end of the show he will be the hero. Pa Cartwright and his boys will get into jams and someone will come along trying to steal their cattle or land, but the good guys will come out the winners when it's all said and done.
I am an avid reader. But when I read a book, I want it to have a happy ending and everything turn out good and right. It makes me so aggravated when I read a book and one of the main characters ends up dying or the story ends badly. When that happens, I will get rid of the book and never read it again. There may be those who would argue that always having happy endings is not real life, but my theory is that real life is tough enough to deal with on a day to day basis, so when I read I want the story to be positive and have a "happily ever after" ending.
Jon's favorite type of TV shows are Sci-Fi. Yes, those weird shows with aliens and spaceships and all the strange things that go along with that genre. In the past three years that we've been married, I have graciously allowed him to watch these shows (like he asks or needs my permission to do so), and have even sat and watched them with him. I've come to the conclusion that Sci-Fi's are actually based on westerns, only instead of cowboys and outlaws you have geeks and aliens. There are the shoot 'em out scenes with the good guys getting hurt occasionally, but the bad guys always lose and the good guys win.
Ever since the beginning of time, there has been that ongoing battle between good and evil. The first time it is mentioned is in Genesis 2:9. "And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
After that tree's creation, God told Adam that he could eat from any tree other than that one. As we know, the serpent enticed Eve to eat of it. When the serpent was talking with Eve and trying to convince her to taste of the fruit, she quoted the instructions that God had given Adam regarding that particular tree. She knew full well that they were not to eat of it, and knew that the punishment for doing so was death. But she chose to eat of it anyway. Then she gave Adam fruit from that tree, and he ate of it also. They knew that what they were doing was wrong and that God had specifically asked them not to do this one thing, yet they chose to give into temptation anyway.
Ever since that time and throughout history, generation after generation of man has been given many choices. There has always been temptation and the tug-of-war within man between right and wrong. And too often, man has chosen to indulge in sin instead of resisting and obeying God's commandments.
There have been times when I'm making a choice, and I hear the little voice in my head telling me to do the right thing, but I blatantly ignore it and do the opposite. I justify that it's not that big of a deal, and there are not any real consequences for me choosing as I have. Yet if we can't listen and obey our conscience in the small things, then it will become easier and easier to ignore it when bigger decisions come along.
I love those Bible stories where good triumphs over evil. I like it that a young boy like David went up against a seasoned soldier, who was also a giant, and killed him with a slingshot and one stone. It's exciting that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stood up against the king when they were ordered to bow before an idol and were then thrown into a fiery furnace. But God walked through the fire with them, and they came out without even the smell of smoke upon them. Esther went before the king, who was her husband, and petitioned him on behalf of her people, and saved the Jews. Even though Haman tried to have her uncle killed, as well as the other Jewish people, good overcame evil. Over and over in the Bible we can read accounts of God using people to stand against wrong, and justice and good being the outcome.
In the life of Christ, there were those who wanted Him crucified while He was here on earth. They thought by getting rid of Jesus, all their problems would be solved and they could live peaceably. But that wasn't the outcome. Yes, Jesus was cruelly beaten and was crucified; He died and was buried. But three days later, He rose from the grave and triumphed over death, hell and the grave.
We look at our world today and wonder what good could possibly come of our society. We see the wickedness and sin in the hearts of man, and every device of sin is running rampant upon the earth. At times it seems as if evil is winning over good. It may even seem as if the ungodly are more blessed and have more prestige and material possessions than those who are Christians. But we have a promise from the Word of God, that the day will come when the wicked will be punished for their sins, and those who are good and faithful servants of God will receive their reward. I'd rather have the reward promised to the righteous, than live in comfort for my short life span upon earth.
I think it's interesting that in Genesis, God created the tree of life, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then when we read in Revelations 22, it mentions the tree of life once again. Verses 1 and 2 say, "And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. And in the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life....."
In heaven, there is no need of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for evil cannot reside in heaven. When we enter into heaven, there will no longer be the tug-of-war within our spirits between right and wrong. There will be none of the wickedness and sin that we have to deal with everyday while upon earth. But heaven is a place of life. No wickedness can enter the gates of this place that God has prepared for those who have received His gift of salvation, and have accepted Him into their heart. Heaven is an eternal place filled with life. All that is good and perfect will be there for our enjoyment.
One of the things about the older westerns is that the good guy wore a white hat and the bad guy wore a black hat. Adam Cartwright had to go against the long tradition and wear black. But it was still clear he was one of the good guys. Sci-fis do similar. But instead of the hat, you can almost always tell by the music. When they play the 'ominous horns', you know something major is happening, probably the introduction of the bad guy. When you hear faster flute music, it's the comic relief, or an odd geeky good guy is about to show up.
In real life, we don't get the same clues. There are preachers showing up all over who claim to be good guys, but preach a doctrine that goes against God. One has gone so far as to encourage possession by "an angel in white". Second Corinthians 11:13-15 says, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for even Satan fashions himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works."
So how do we know? John 10:24 says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." If we study God's Word and listen closely, we'll know His voice. And if a doctrine someone pushes doesn't agree with the Bible--the whole Bible, not just one verse--it isn't one to adopt. Please be careful and listen for the 'ominous horns' in your spirit.
Chinese Almond Cookies
2 cups butter - softened
5 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. almond extract
½ tsp. nutmeg
Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and almond extract. Sift dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture. Shape dough into 1 inch balls; place on cookie sheet and pat to ½ inch thickness. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.
A while back my sisters and I were talking about memories we have of our childhood. One that is particularly special to us is spending time with family members who used to come to our house to visit. Many times after church we would have uncles and aunts come down for a cup of coffee. Sometimes the adults would all crowd together in the living room, but other times the women would stay in the living room while the men would gather around the kitchen table. When that happened, my dad would most generally take the chair that was closest to the living room. My sisters said that they remember hearing our uncles teasing him about sitting where he could listen in on the womens conversation. Our conclusion was that he had probably heard the stories the men were telling over and over, and found the women's conversation more interesting.
Another memory came from my middle sister, Shirley. She was extremely shy when she was growing up. When we were kids, there were no seat belt laws. We could ride on the back of Daddy's truck or pile the car full of people or stand up in the car seats (when we small of course), and not even think about it. When Shirley was probably around age 4 or so, she was standing up in the car right behind Daddy's seat. She said that she remembers him trying to get her to hug him, and she wouldn't do it. She said that she wanted to, but was just too shy and embarrassed.
"The only time to pray for a crop failure is when you have sown some wild oats." - unknown
Important: My sister shared this information with me recently. Most of us have cell phones that we carry with us most of the time. What I was not aware of, is that you are supposed to have one phone number programmed into your phone labeled as "ICE". This stands for "In Case of Emergency", and should you ever be involved in an accident where the police or ambulance come to your aid, they will look at your cell phone to see if you have a contact person's phone number programmed in for them to contact. They will scroll through looking for an "ICE" number. My husband and I have both taken care of this detail. Hopefully it will never have to be used, but it's there in case it is ever needed. If you have not programmed an "ICE" number into your cell phone, stop and take care of it now.
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Loretta & Jon