"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

December 1, 2010


It's easy at times to think that what we experience is something new that other generations didn't have to deal with. Granted technology, inventions and styles may change from generation to generation, but overall people have always been the same and have had to deal with various forms of evil. Satan has always tried to bring destruction and devastation to nations, families and individuals. But there has always been those faithful Christians who have cried out to God. Often they have felt discouragement and overwhelmed by the sin and evil running rampant in their towns, cities, and even the nation in which they lived.

In the Old Testament is a three chapter book, Habakkuk. He was a prophet in Judah. Habakkuk had been praying for Judah and apparently had become discouraged. In chapter one he begins, "How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted."

Sound familiar? For thousands of years I'm sure there have been many generations who have prayed the same sort of prayer. Do you not think that was what the Christians were thinking and praying after Jesus was translated into heaven, after His resurrection, and the church was being persecuted? The disciples were being arrested and put into prison; Paul was imprisoned and beaten many times for preaching the gospel; Stephen was stoned to death; and many other persecutions were taking place.

In World War II when Hitler was killing Jews and many were living in fear and trying to hide in order to preserve their life, do you not think there were those faithful Christians who were crying out to God and wondering, "Lord, how long must I call for help, but you do not listen?" I'm sure their cries sounded much like Habakkuk's.

Around the world there are those today who are persecuted and killed for their faith in God, and cannot worship openly, but have to gather privately. They are constantly surrounded by evil and fear for their lives and for the lives of their families. I'm sure they feel much as Habakkuk did as they cry out to God.

But we can even feel that way at times as we listen to the daily news. We are constantly bombarded by stories of murders, thefts, drug crimes, assaults and various other crimes. There is corruption in our government; local, statewide and on a national level. People fight for homosexual rights and want to legalize abortion. At times it seems as if individuals and groups are more concerned for animal rights, global warming and saving the planet than they are for the real needs of mankind. Many think they're being discriminated against and want their "rights". Protest groups can be found for pretty much anything. At times it seems as if few people have a conscience that they listen to and obey. There is very little respect for authority, whether it be in the homes, churches, school systems, businesses or government. Crimes are committed against innocent people. The honorable, honest individuals often have to suffer and pay for the evil acts of the dishonest. Sometimes it's easy to become disheartened and wonder what in the world our nation is coming to, or what the future holds for the kids today.

Yet there are still those faithful believers who are crying out to God. But there are those times when it feels like God isn't listening or answering. "God how long will we cry out about the violence, and You do not save? Why do we have to continually look at all the injustice around us? God, why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are all around us; there is strife, and conflict abounds. At times is seems as if justice never prevails, but is perverted. The righteous are surrounded by those who are wicked. How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but You do not listen?"

But God did answer in response to Habakkuk's burdened complaint. It wasn't what Habakkuk expected, but God let him know that He was aware of what was going on, and was going to punish the evil-doers. The Lord answered, "Look at the nation and watch -- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."

God is always aware of what is happening on earth. Nothing catches Him by surprise or off-guard. And His answer may not happen in our timing, but God will respond. And it may not be the response that we want or expect. We may not understand what He does or how He answers, but God sees the whole picture and is aware of the final outcome.

"I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who march across the whole earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs. They are dreaded and feared. Their justice and authority originate with themselves."

God continued to tell about how powerful they are, in order to show that nothing will be able to stop them from destroying Judah. They were really wicked, even more so that the Jews. What?! God is answering by sending the Babylonians to destroy them? That definitely wasn't the answer Habakkuk was anticipating! I'm sure he was wanting God to save their nation and for the people to repent of their sins and turn from their evil ways.

From Habakkuk's answer we see that he doesn't totally understand God's response, but he does accept it. But he also responds that God is everlasting, and they would not all die. How did he know that? Because God had made a covenant promise with Israel that He would never totally destroy them. Habakkuk is amazed that God would use someone who is more evil than Judah to come in and destroy them. But God goes on to assure him that the day will come when justice comes to Babylon. They will eventually have to pay for their wickedness.

We see in chapter one that Habakkuk was wrestling with the evil surrounding him and God's seemingly lack of response, and he was feeling despair. In chapter two he goes to the watchtower (or guard post) to wait for God's second answer. But by chapter three his faith and trust in God seems to have strengthened and he was offering praise to God. He realized that God is in control.

Habakkuk's name means to "embrace" or "wrestle". In the beginning we see him wrestling with tough questions he has for God, but by the end he has progressed towards God and came to embrace Him.

We may never understand why God responds as He does, but it's so important that we hold fast to our faith and trust in Him, and embrace Him. Even when evil seemingly surrounds us, we can know that although it may seem as if wickedness is prevailing, God will have the final word and justice will come.


I've wondered sometimes how recent history would look if it was written like the Old Testament. There are entire books that only span a few years, but there are also verses where several dozen years are summarized in just a few verses. Some king's reigns are described with little more than whether they behaved wickedly or righteously, and how long they lived.

In some respects, there are revivals, home missions, and growing churches all around the U.S. But there are also many leaders who have publicly described Christianity as one of America's biggest problems. If Moses were to describe us, would he write that the country was lead by unrighteous, but the people persevered and worshiped God? Would he write that the United States was lead by many leaders, each for only a few years; many of them were righteous, but the unrighteous overcame them and led the nation into destruction; but for the sake of many who persevered and worshiped God, He protected them?

We are certainly a blessed nation. In our land, someone without a cellphone is treated with pity. We've been so blessed for so long that we've become spoiled and don't even notice. A hundred years from now, would people look back and say that we were blessed as God's way of blessing our parents and grandparents, or because so many people are praying for God to move through this country?


This month I'll be sharing family recipes for Christmas -- some from myself and others from other family members.

Christmas Wassail by Janee' Schwyhart

3 quarts apple cider

2 tsp. Lemon rind (optional)

2 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks

5 cups pineapple juice

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

2 large oranges

1/2 cup honey


1/3 cup lemon juice

Push cloves into 2 large oranges about 1/2 inch apart. Place in baking pan with water. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Heat cinnamon sticks and cider in large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 5minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered for 5 additional minutes. Pour into punch bowl and float the spiced oranges on top. Can use cinnamon sticks for stirring. Makes 40 cups. Can reheat.


Recently, Devin the 7-year old deaf "son" (guardianship situation) of my sister and brother-in-law had to stay home from school. He had thrown up during the night and a school rule is a child can't go back to school for 24 hours after a fever or throwing up. My sister didn't know that he had gotten sick during the night until the next morning when he came downstairs and told her. He told her that his stomach had got upset, he'd thrown up, and now his head was hurting. He is at the age where he enjoys staying home from school, and one of the first things he reminded her was, "School rule, I can't go back for 24 hours!" She had made plans to stay home with him that morning, but had to work in the afternoon so dropped him off at my house. I recently was given a piano, which Devin noticed first thing. He was "playing" and "playing" and I realized it was going to be a long afternoon listening to him. So I came up with a bright idea and wrote down the letters to the notes for the song "Oh How I Love Jesus". I showed Devin where the keys A through G were (which is the whole octave) and went over that with him a few times, then gave him the copy of the song I'd written down. He loved it and did amazingly well playing the song with one finger! So I wrote down the letters to the notes of Jingle Bells so he'd have two songs to practice on. He spent the better part of the afternoon practicing on those two songs and was very proud of himself; and I was quite surprised and pleased with him as well! As soon as my sister arrived to pick him up, he was excited to play the songs for her. Sometimes creative ideas stems from thinking of ways to preserve our sanity! I didn't want to listen to piano banging and it gave Devin something to do!!


In the busyness of the holiday season, take time to relax and enjoy time with family and friends;

but most importantly remember why we have Christmas and take time to honor Jesus.


We love you!

Loretta & Jon