"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

March 25, 2009


When a person is given a lie detector test, each question asked by the moderator has to be answered strictly yes or no. There are not ifs, ands or buts about it. No chance to give an explanation or go into detail to back up why you answered as you did. Those who administer the test are of the opinion that any question they may ask can honestly be answered with a simple yes or no.

But most questions that any one of us may be asked cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. For instance, someone may ask me if I drink pop. Yes, I do. But if they were to then set a glass of Root Beer in front of me, I would decline and not drink it. They may argue that I had just told them that I drink pop. I do, but I dislike the taste of Root Beer. Then why did I answer yes that I drink pop? Because I do drink Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and various others. Was I lying when I said I drank pop, then refused to drink the Root Beer? No. But I wasn't initially given the opportunity to expound upon my answer by saying, "Yes. BUT there are certain drinks, such as Root Beer, that I don't care for."

There was an episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Andy gave a speeding ticket to an influential gentleman who was passing through the town, and made him pay a fine. It angered this man, and he was determined to get even with Andy. So he hired a young, attractive lady reporter to go to Mayberry and pretend to be a college student doing research, and try to get the "goods" on the sheriff. Of course, Barney was enamored with the attention she gave him, and began shooting off his mouth. She was appealing to his sense of importance by asking him questions about his responsibilities as deputy sheriff, and about Andy lacking in his duties. She, of course, went back to the man who had hired her with her information. He came back with a lawyer to try and prove that Andy was incompetent as sheriff, and should be removed from office. It was an informal hearing in the sheriff's office, and Barney was sworn in to be questioned. Beforehand, he had promised Andy to testify on his behalf and to prove that this hearing was totally bogus. But when he was brought to the stand, the comments he had made to the young attractive reporter was thrown back in his face. He was asked, "Did you say so and so about Sheriff Taylor?" "Yes, but...." Before he could expound upon his answer, the lawyer quickly cut him off and would fire another question at him. If Barney tried to cut in and give an explanation, he was told to just answer yes or no. He quickly saw that his careless words had gotten him into a whole bunch of trouble. What had been innocent remarks at the time, were now serious accusations against his good friend, Andy. Of course, it all worked out in the end.

It is pretty dry here in Bixby, and has been a while since we've had a good rain. I glanced outside Friday morning, and it was starting to drizzle. I began to think about how much we needed the rain, and how I hoped that it would be a steady rain for the rest of the day. There is something about the smell of rain falling on dry ground that I love. It has a fresh, clean smell that is hard to describe.

When I was growing up, our house had no air conditioning, so we would open the windows whenever it was warm/hot outside. I used to like it when we had a slow steady rain. I would lie on the bed by the open window and read a book. There was something very relaxing about doing this. Even today, when it's rainy out, I enjoy curling up with a good book and reading.

So asked if I like rainy days, I would say yes. But there are stipulations to my answer. I don't care for rainy days like last spring and summer when it seemingly rained every other day. I like a rainy day; but just one at a time, not for days on end. And yes, I like rainy days; but not when it's pouring down and storming. I don't like them when I'm out on the road having to drive. I really don't like it when there's a tornado warning attached. And I don't like them when I have outdoor activities planned and it messes with my plans.

I dislike it when someone asks me a question, then later throws my answer back in my face. When I was working at a bank in Missouri, overall, I enjoyed my job and liked my co-workers. But that didn't mean that I didn't have stressful days, or days when someone would be particularly annoying, or days when I would rather stay home. On those days, I might talk to a family member or friend and complain about my job or some person, and they would say, "I thought you told me that you liked your job." I do, but....!

In many situations there are extenuating circumstances that arise from time to time. Life isn't cut and dry where everything is always the same day after day. People say and do things that irritate us; and we do and say things that irritate others. That doesn't mean that we don't like them anymore or have stopped loving them. We just don't like how they are acting at a particular moment.

Jon and I loved one another deeply, and would do anything for each other. We are committed to our relationship and to our marriage. But that doesn't mean that we don't ever get on the other's nerves or need time alone. There are times when I can tell that I've crossed the line and have overstepped the boundries, and am starting to bug Jon. It's usually when he's doing something on the computer and he thinks that I'm talking too much. On the other hand, there are times when my sweet husband frustrates me. I may ask him to do something two or three times, and he says okay, but doesn't respond. Finally, after I either do it myself or get upset, he will ask, "Why didn't you remind me again?!" Because I had already asked more than once, and didn't want to be a nagger.

Does this mean that we have problems in our marriage or need counseling? NO! It just means that we're human and have human emotions, and that we can occasionally rub each other the wrong way.

If someone were to ask if we loved one another, the answer would be a resounding yes. Do we ever argue or disagree? Every once in a while we do. But we just said that we loved each other. Shouldn't we always get along peacefully, and agree on everything, and never get on the other person's nerves, if we truly love one another? Not necessarily. You can love someone, but not always like their behavior. That's part of life and love.

In Matthew chapter 26, Jesus and His disciples had just shared the last supper before His death. Afterwards they go to the Mount of Olives. Jesus tells them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'"

Peter answered Him in verse 33, "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble."

Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."

Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And so said all the disciples.

In the following verses, Jesus was arrested and put on trial. The high priest tore his clothes. He was beaten and spit upon.

In verse 69 it says, "Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him saying, 'You also were with Jesus of Galilee.'" But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are saying."

And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth." But again Peter denied with an oath, "I do not know the Man!"

A little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, "Surely you also are one of them for your speech betrays you." Then Peter began to curse and swear, saying, "I do not know the Man!" Immediately a rooster crowed.

Peter remembered the word of Jesus saying that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. He went out and wept bitterly.

If any one of us had been in Peter's situation, I have no doubt that we would have reacted the same way. In fact, I daresay that many of us have in one way or another denied Jesus in some way during our lifetime.

We are strong in our love for Jesus and think, "Lord, there is no way that I could ever deny You! In fact, I would even die for you if necessary." But then we are faced with a situation where we are embarrassed or afraid. We may not be so blatant and open about not knowing Him, as Peter was. But yet, we can deny Him by our silence or attitude. We deny Him by disobeying our conscience when we go ahead and do something, even though the Holy Spirit convicts us of it. We deny Him when we ignore Him by doing what we want and trying to do things our way. We deny Him when we turn a blind eye to sin. We may not actually participate in particular activities ourselves, but we are so afraid of offending someone, that we keep quiet and approve sinful behavior as being acceptable and okay.

Then as Peter, we have those moments when we realize that we have not been as faithful in upholding our words of commitment to Christ, and weep with shame and regret. I truly believe that when Peter told Jesus that he would never stumble, would never deny Him, and would even die with Him; that he was sincerely convinced that if tested, he would be strong in following through with his words of commitment.

We too can speak words of commitment and declarations of obedience to Jesus. Yet when we are tested, we find ourselves falling short of what we promised. When we spoke those words, we were totally sincere. But we found it harder to follow through and remain as dedicated as we thought we would be.

Just as Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him and fail, He realizes our shortcomings, and knows that there will be times in our own lives when we fall short of following through on our vows of commitment. That doesn't excuse us from being faithful to God. But it does show us that grace and mercy is constantly extended to us.

After Jesus was crucified and resurrected from the dead, Peter found forgiveness and reconciliation. He wasn't banned from being a disciple of Jesus, or from being used in ministry. He didn't spend the rest of his life feeling condemned or filled with guilt for his betrayal. But his relationship with Jesus was restored and he was greatly used during the remainder of his life. I don't believe that Peter ever stopped loving Jesus, but that he became frightened. I'm sure he saw the torture that Jesus was having to endure, and his flesh became scared. Perhaps he was afraid that he too would have to endure those same things, if he admitted to being a disciple of Jesus. But in spite of his fear and words of denial, Peter truly loved Jesus; even though his words and actions didn't reflect that during this time of weakness.

The good news is that even during those times when our words and actions may not always reflect our love for Jesus, we can always seek forgiveness and be reconciled in our relationship with Him. And we can be assured of finding God's mercy extended to us each and every day.

Lamentations 3:22, 23 says, "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."


Sometimes, it's easy to get wrapped up in preconceived notions. All too often, it's easy to miss that God has answered a prayer for us because we expected Him to answer it differently.

I think that's a big part of Peter's problem. He was prepared to fight sword-to-sword with an army to save Jesus or to die with Him. But when things were different from his preconceived idea, he didn't seem to even realize that he was betraying Jesus. He might have even thought that he was helping Jesus by avoiding getting kicked out. He was surprised when he heard the rooster. And then, it sank in.

A lot of prophesies are the same. We can easily get so focused on what the prophesy might mean that we can miss that it is taking place. There are many prophesies related to Jesus' return. Some of them seem to be taking place now. Some of them will probably occur soon. Please keep an open mind, and an open spirit to recognize them as they come.


Instead of giving a standard recipe this week, I am going to give some suggestions for giving a baby shower. Recently, I hosted a baby shower for my niece, and here are a few ideas that I came up.

Janee' had had some maternity pictures taken. Most Walmart and grocery store bakeries will make sheet cakes with pictures scanned on the frosting. They are really not that expensive. On the cake for the shower, we had one of Janee's maternity pictures scanned on the frosting. It was a picture of her belly and she had her hands lying on it in the shape of a heart. Below it was written, "We love Jax Isaiah McCrate."

In addition to the cake, we also served mixed nuts, pastel colored M&M's, miniature wrapped Reeses peanut butter cups, and various other things. For containers, I found some cheap plastic toys: a dump truck, Cars bucket, sand pail, etc. and used them to put those items in. After the shower, I gave the toys to the mother to use for her baby.

We had a "drop-in" shower. Since we knew that some of the guests would be stopping in for just a few moments, I decided to buy small bottles of water and the small 8-ounce cans of pop. I bought a baby bathtub, and filled it with ice and the drinks. Afterwards, it was given to the mother as a present. There were places around the edges of the tub to put bottles of shampoo, soap, etc. I bought a travel kit with powder, soap, shampoo, and lotion and put in one of those places, Then I bought a pack of baby washcloths, and some little soft bath toys and used those items to fill in the other areas to decorate. It turned out really cute -- and were also gifts for the baby.

To decorate the table top holding the baby bathtub filled with drinks and the cake, I bought small items like a pair of newborn shoes, baby bath towel, and a blanket to fill in the space. They made cute decorations and were things that were given to the mother after the shower as gifts.


We've all had those things happen that really aren't funny at the time that they happen, but we can laugh about them later.

Last weekend my brother-in-law was scheduled to preach in Chicago. The church there had bought his plane ticket for him. Both he and his wife thought that he was booked on a flight on Friday. Around noon on Thursday, he received a text message from someone in the Chicago church saying, "I'm at the airport. Let me know when your flight gets here." He was stunned! He was sitting at home and hadn't even started packing yet. He had to text back and let the lady know that he hadn't left home yet. His wife hurried and got on the phone and found a flight that left at 2:00 p.m. It was 12:30 at that time. He had an hour and a half to shower, shave, dress, pack, make sure he had his sermon notes and power point, and get to the airport. His kids kept asking, "Dad, do you have ......" He made it to the airport on time and got to Chicago safely. Not exactly how you want to begin a weekend where you're the guest speaker at a church! It was stressful and nerve wracking at the time, but something they all can laugh about now.


It is more blessed to give than to receive. Let's all be grateful givers and gracious receivers.


We love you!

Loretta & Jon