"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!'"

Luke 15:4-6

November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving


Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the faith chapter of the Bible. In verses 11 and 12 it speaks of Abraham and Sarah having a son, even though Abraham was past age and Sarah was barren. It goes on to say that from this one man, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

Verse 13 says, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

"People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country -- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." (verses 14-16)

These verses of scripture were used in William Bradford's writings as he recounted the Mayflower passengers departure from Leiden in 1620. Bradford used the imagery of Hebrews 11:13-16, about Old Testament "strangers and pilgrims", who had opportunity to return to their old country but instead longed for a better, heavenly country.

Bradford wrote: "So they lefte that goodly and pleasante citie, which had been ther resting place, nere 12 years; but they knew they were pilgrimes and looked not much on these things; but lift up ther eyes to ye heavens, ther dearest cuntrie, and quieted ther spirits."

Those who crossed the Atlantic to come to America could have returned back to England and lived under the rigid religious laws and rules that was imposed upon the people during that time. But they chose to risk everything, in order to provide a better life for themselves and their families. Although they endured numerous hardships, they had hope that if they would only endure, things would work out for their good.

They had no idea what to expect once they reached this strange land called America. They didn't know what they were going to encounter. But they felt compelled to risk everything in order to have freedom.

Our journey upon earth can be compared to that of those early pilgrims. Although we are flesh and blood walking through life, we are actually on a pilgrimage to heaven. We don't know when we're going to reach our destination, or what all hardships we will encounter from day to day, or what dangers or risk we may face. All we know is that if we will keep our focus upon our heavenly goal, that someday we will have the eternal security and freedom that we are striving and seeking for.

Jon's Grandma Cox completed her pilgrimage this past week. I didn't have the opportunity to get to know her well, due to her being diagnosed with Alzheimer's, shortly before Jon and I were married. Over the past three years, her memory became cloudier and she struggled to remember. But Jon's mom told us numerous times that through it all, Grandma Cox kept her sweet spirit and smile. Even during those days when she may not have remembered her family very well, she always remembered God. When they would pray with her or read scripture, she would display peace and nod in quiet agreement. Her greatest desire was to go home to be with Jesus.

Never again will she have to struggle with her memory or feel pain. All that is now past. She is now experiencing the greatest freedom that a child of God can ever know. She is worshiping at the feet of her Savior. And the day will come when her daughters, whom she may have not always clearly remembered during her last days upon earth, will be reunited with her and she will instantly know them. What a reunion we will have with loved ones when we get to Heaven!

One definition of a pilgrim is "a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons."

In many ways, we are pilgrims and strangers upon this earth. This is not our permanent home or dwelling. We are on a journey, just passing through, on our way to our heavenly destination. As Hebrews 11 says, "We are longing for a better country -- a heavenly one." A place where God will be the One and Only God that man bows before and worships. We long for a city that God has prepared for us.

John 14:1-3 says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust (believe) in God; trust (believe) also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

As we look at the economic and political situation, and the moral decline of society, it can seem overwhelming and depressing at times. It's easy to worry and fret and be negative. There are times now when things look bad; and there may be times in the future when it gets worse. But we don't have to live in fear. No matter what is going on in the world around us, we can have the peace of God in our lives. We can pray and give our burdens and cares to Jesus, and let Him fill us with calmness and comfort. Jesus tells us to not let our hearts be troubled.

No matter how bad the world may become, I can have peace, knowing that I am just a pilgrim on a journey toward heaven. I know that when my life ends here upon earth, that's not the end. But I have a heavenly home prepared by God, just for me. Each of us can take hope and comfort in knowing that we have a place waiting in readiness for our arrival. God has built streets of gold and walls out of jasper and precious stone, for our enjoyment. He has spared no expense in preparing a place of splendor and beauty for us. It's beauty and splendor will far surpass anything our eyes have ever beheld.

This Thanksgiving day, may each of us take a moment and count our blessings. Too often, human nature tends to be negative and full of worry. People can spend hours debating the economy and problems of the world. But how much more uplifting and encouraging it would be to instead begin to discuss and talk about what all God has blessed us with.

I may not have everything I want, but I do have everything that I need. I want to have a grateful heart that is filled with thanksgiving, instead of a heart that is full of complaints and bitterness and worry. I know that I need to guard my words and attitude, in order to remember God's blessings, and not focus on the negative.

There is a song that says, "I will praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord. No matter what tomorrow brings; what it has in store. I will praise the Lord."

Praising the Lord and being thankful is a choice. It doesn't always come naturally. Our flesh sees and hears about all the bad things going on in the world, and we begin to fret and worry. But when that happens, we need to stop. Make a choice to praise God and be thankful, and count our blessings. What a difference it will make in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of the year may we be individuals who are grateful and thankful. May we keep our eyes focused on God, not on our problems. Yes, bad things may happen and the world's situation and economy may worsen. But by looking to God and putting our faith and hope in Him, we can have peace instead of fear.

Remember, we are just pilgrims who are passing through life on our journey to Heaven. And when we reach our destination, everything we encountered along the way -- good and bad -- will be worth every mile that we traveled.


I've thought for some time about starting to write on end-times prophecies. The Revelation teaches that the world as we know it will end. But understanding the details is hard. There is the antichrist, the false prophet, the Tribulation, Armageddon, the Rapture, and a thousand years of peace. When I usually look at end-times prophecy, I have a strong negative feeling. It seems to be all about death, pain, oppression, and suffering. But for this week, I'll try to look at it as something more upbeat. When the end of time starts, the world will have already turned away from God to the point that few people will worship Him. But by the end of the tribulation, many otherwise lost souls will have turned to God, and will enter into the years of peace. As I write more in future weeks, I'll try to keep the positive parts in mind.


Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs

2 tsp. Cinnamon

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. Ginger

2/3 cup pumpkin

½ tsp. Nutmeg

1 tsp. Baking powder

½ tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Lemon juice

¾ cup flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Beat eggs and sugar at high speed for 5 minutes. Add pumpkin and lemon juice; fold in dry ingredients. Pour into jelly roll 10x15-inch pan that has been lined with wax paper and greased and floured. Bake 15 minutes. As soon as taken from oven, put on wet cheesecloth and roll up. Put in refrigerator to cool about 15 minutes.


1 (8 oz.) cream cheese -- softened

1 cup powdered sugar

4 Tbsp. Butter

½ tsp. Vanilla

Beat ingredients together. Unroll and spread with filling mix. Re-roll and refrigerate until served.


For the past few years, a pumpkin roll (see above recipe) is something that my family usually has on Thanksgiving. Either my sister, Shirley or Janie, will make it. Since they always bring the pumpkin roll, I've never actually made one myself.

A few days ago on Facebook, one of my nephews had written that he was excited to eat some of Aunt Loretta's pumpkin roll on Thanksgiving. I wrote back and told him that Aunt Loretta didn't make the pumpkin rolls; that was his Aunt Janie. Later I happened to be on Facebook and he instant messaged me about the pumpkin roll. He said that his mom said that she wasn't making one this year and that she didn't think Janie was. So he went back and changed it to he was excited to eat some of Aunt Linda's pumpkin roll on Thanksgiving. I instant messaged him back and told him that Linda didn't make them either. His reply was, that if I'd make one for him than I would be his favorite aunt. I told him that I already was his favorite. He admitted that I was, although I'm not sure if he was serious or was trying to bribe me.

The next day I was talking to Janie on the phone and she asked about his messages on Facebook regarding the pumpkin roll, so I relayed our instant message conversation. She laughed and said that she was planning on making pumpkin rolls for Thanksgiving. Whew, what a relief! I was going to try to be a good aunt and make one so that I could keep my status of being the "favorite aunt", but was more than happy to let Janie make it. I let him know that Janie was making one, and asked if that was going to make her his favorite aunt instead of me. He answered back that it depended on how good the pumpkin roll was.


Give thanks to God and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;

His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations. (Taken from Psalms 100)


May each of you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

We love you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our newsletter. We appreciate you very much.

Loretta & Jon