"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!'"
April 2, 2014
As I wrote last week, sometimes we have to make the choice to put our faith and trust in God, even when the situation we're facing would tend to cause our mind to be filled with worry or fear.
Something unexpected happened that cause Jon and I to have an initial moment of fear and worry. But after we had time to consider it, we both felt God put peace in our hearts that He was in control and going to take care of it. We had been praying for something for the ten-plus years that we've known one another, but even though we'd experienced God's favor and blessing, the thing that we were ultimately praying for had yet to occur. Each time we prayed and wondered if perhaps we needed to act and do something, we both would feel God telling us, "Wait! I've got it taken care of!" But waiting for over ten years for God to answer was seeming like a really long time to us both!!! (I always feel like when I mention this that everyone's thought is guessing that this regards us having children -- but let me assure you it is NOT!! I am almost 49 years old and that is the last thing I would be praying for!!)
A couple days after we were faced with this change in situation, I was home alone and began praying. For the first time in months and months, I felt a spiritual breakthrough occur. I felt like I had finally come out of my time of wandering in the wilderness and desert and could see across the river to the promised land. My walk through the valley had ended and God was leading me into green pastures.
Instead of wandering in the desert and wilderness like the Israelites and Moses did for forty years, I felt as though I was finally experiencing what David wrote about in Psalm 23: "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness of His name's sake."
In additional to God refreshing and restoring me, He also spoke some things into my heart that convicted me and help me see what I needed to do to stay on the right path to reach the place He has prepared for me and Jon.
One of those things was regarding the things that we had been watching on TV. It has become habitual for Jon and me to kick back in front of the TV most evenings. It has also become easier and easier to lower our standards regarding what we watch. It is easy to justify what we watch by saying, "It's just a TV show -- I would never live like that or do that;" or "We see things like that everyday in the world;" or "Well, there's not anything better on right now to watch;" or "The show really is funny!" Many of us have become desensitized to these things and it has become acceptable viewing in our homes.
There are so many sitcoms nowadays that will throw in a scene where people of the same sex will kiss. Children will blatantly show disrespect for their parents; and parents are often made to look foolish. Loose morals and lifestyles are acceptable; and it's made to look as if you don't sleep around then you're in the minority and a loser. Religion is often mocked and christians made to look like fanatical bigots. Young teen boys who watch porn are given a pat on the back and an "attaboy" from their dad. Wives accept that their husbands "naturally" are going to watch porn or look at filthy magazines. And then there are the shows that promote homosexual lifestyles. Not that Jon and I watched all these types of programming; but I think as a whole, many people have dropped their moral, as well as spiritual, standards for the sake of entertainment.
Jon and I have felt for quite some time now that we need to take one evening a week and not turn the TV on. God has began convicting us that some of the shows we've been watching are not pleasing to Him and we need to stop. And honestly, some times it's easy to say that we shouldn't be watching it, but then to later find ourselves doing it for lack of anything better on at that time. Perhaps that is one way that satan entraps our minds and gets our focus off God. And perhaps that is one reason that we find ourselves wandering around in the wilderness or desert for extended periods of time. It takes something big, a test of our faith, to get our attention and make us get back on track. I suppose a good guideline to go by in monitoring what we watch is, "If we could see Jesus in the room with us, would we be watching this?" The truth is, Jesus really is in the room with us! There may be times when His eyes are closed and His hands over His ears because of what we are watching is an embarrassment to Him; but nevertheless, He is there at all times.
We realized that we needed to make a change and not just keep saying, "Yeah, we know we should do better." So we went through all the shows that we had set to record on DVR and deleted all those that were questionable or that had loose morals or involved ungodly lifestyles. And yes, we deleted several shows! Honestly, some of the shows we deleted were funny shows; but there were immoral things about them that we knew weren't right for the two of us to laugh about and watch.
Philippians 4:8 (NLT) says, "Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
If we want our minds and thoughts to be true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise, then we have to be careful what we put into our minds. You can read this and think, "Well, I don't watch much TV!" But are you filling your mind with things that are godly? What about the books or magazine articles you read; or the conversations you have? The only way we can guarantee that our thoughts are fixed on the right things is to fill our mind with the right things.
The result of us deciding to fully honor God and delete immoral TV shows was amazing. As I mentioned earlier, we have been praying about something for all of our married years together -- and even when we were dating. This past Sunday evening we were invited to a revival at a church that neither of us had ever attended before. It ended up the couple who invited us was apparently unable to attend the service, so we knew no one there. During the altar service, Jon was praying specifically that God would speak to him regarding the issue that we've been praying for. A minister that neither of us had ever seen, therefore, he had never seen us before either, came up to us and laid his hands on our shoulders. He began speaking a word of confirmation regarding our situation that we knew had to be directly from God. This man didn't know what we were praying for, didn't know that Jon was praying for God to speak to him, and had no way of knowing our situation and need. But he was willing to obey God and come over and speak the words that God gave him specifically for me and Jon. It was exciting for Jon and me to hear the words of confirmation that we needed and to know that God spoke through this man directly to us.
When we decided to fully honor God and fix our thoughts on things that please Him, then I believe we will begin to see prayers answered and hear God speak to our situations. But sometimes God may have to get our attention so that we're ready to hear what He has to say.
Usually I try to stay on topic. But I've had a few topics I've thought about writing on lately. We recently saw the movie, "God's not Dead". It's a fantastic movie, but for only about an hour and a half, it left some things unsaid. I thought I might write about some of the topics they brought up. But also lately, there have been some discussions about what is or isn't a sin, and I think that's a little more urgent.
TV has pushed so hard for years that a lot of things are normal, so acceptable. And they say if they are acceptable, they aren't sin; and that anyone who condemns them as sin are being intolerant.
Loretta mentioned some of them. People sleeping with anyone and everyone without being married is one of the biggest. It is portrayed as normal, and almost mandatory that if two people are "dating", they must also be having sex. Usually, it is frowned on if someone cheats on a spouse, but more and more, we see examples where even adultery is shown as fun and acceptable. Homosexuality is also being portrayed as common, and acceptable. And recently, even drug use is getting shown as fun and exciting, and a normal way for families to have fun together.
I want to be clear here. God doesn't accept sin. But Jesus came to us specifically to save the sinner. He loves sinners as much as saints. And He tells us all to love others as ourselves, too. In fact, He tells us to love our enemies. If we love our enemies as God commands, surely we must also love those who aren't our enemies.
There are those who try everything to convince us that if it is fun and common, it must not be a sin. They may even argue that if God doesn't like it, He is denying us the desires of our hearts, and is being mean or spiteful to us. After all, God does say He will offer us everything we need or want, right? He also requires obedience of us.
I suspect everyone is plagued by temptation of some kind of sin. Maybe drugs, excessive alcohol, immorality, spreading hurtful rumors, stealing, or whatever. Knowing others do it doesn't really make it normal. And it definitely doesn't mean God wants us to continue in disobedience to Him.
If you are living in a sin, please quit, and pray to God to give you the strength to keep away from that sin. If you see others living in a sin, please show them loving kindness, and keep in your mind and heart how Jesus must feel about them.
Quick Homemade Salsa
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
10 leaves of cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt
7 jalapeno slices (canned jalapenos)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend as smooth or chunky as you desire, according to your preference. Serve fresh. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
The recipe calls for jalapeno slices from a can. If using a fresh jalapeno, use as much as you prefer (might want to begin with a half, then add more if desired) and chop before adding to food processor/blender.
Here is a story my niece shared recently:
Tonight, for devotions, we read Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When Eve reached for the fruit, Jax yelled, "No, Eve, don't do it!"
I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.
Another version reads: I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon