THE NEW EWE

"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

July 8, 2015

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

I have worn contact lenses for probably at least twenty-five years. Occasionally, if my eyes get dry or itchy a contact may fall out if I'm rubbing my eyes, but overall, I've never had any issues with contacts and they've worked well for me. Once in a while, I have gotten a bum contact that will tear, but that has been very rare. Generally when that happens, it will rip when I'm handling it. Also, it has happened that one will get a small scratch or tear in it, but I can feel it as soon as I put it in, so will immediately take it out. When I hold it up to the light, I can see what the issue is, and throw it away; but that also has seldom happened.

On Monday of this week, I had put my contacts in and worn them for a couple of hours. I needed to run some errands, so went upstairs to fix my hair first. I was standing in front of our bathroom mirror working on my hair, when all of a sudden I saw something fall beside the sink. I looked, and it was half of a contact. The center of it had a jagged tear. I could feel the other part of the contact was still in my eye. I had never, ever had anything like that happen before! I worked and worked and tried to get the other part out of my eye, but could not get it. It kept moving around every time I blinked or my eyeball moved. I could feel it underneath my eyelid, over to one side, etc. After a while, my eye was starting to get sore, so I decided I'd better stop and get help.

I called my optometrist, but both he and the other doctor that works with him were out of the office for the day. They could refer me to another optometrist, if I wanted. Honestly, I didn't want to go to a new optometrist. Our insurance doesn't cover eye care, and using a new doctor -- even for something this minor -- I was concerned that they'd charge a new patient fee and it would end up being expensive.

I prayed... again... and asked that God would please help me get that piece of contact out of my eye. I went back upstairs, put eyedrops in my eye and contact cleaner on my finger to wet it, and after a couple more attempts was able to get it out. Afterwards, my eye was really red and sore, but after a while it was fine. I knew that I couldn't leave that piece of contact in my eye, but that it had to be taken care of and gotten out. If not, it would end up scratching my eyeball, possibly cause an eye infection, and numerous other issues. My sight is too important for me to not take care of it. If I hadn't been able to get the broken contact out myself, I would have either seen if Jon could get it, or gone ahead and paid the money to have an optometrist do it for me. But one way or another, I would have made sure it got out.

The Bible speaks of trying to get things out of other people's eyes, when we really need to take care of what is in our own eye. It hurts trying to get things out of our own eye, so is much easier to work on someone else and dig around in their eye.

Matthew 7:1-5 (NLT) says, "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye."

I believe that one of the biggest issues in our society today, and why we are in the mess we are in overall as a nation, is because we have all been passing the buck for much too long. Individuals don't want to take responsibility for themselves. It's much easier to put the blame on someone else, or on personal situations, or on the government, or on the church, or the schools.... instead of cleaning our own house (so to speak). I'm as guilty as anyone!

Yes, we do have huge problems with our government, all the way from the top in Washington DC, to the state level, on down to the city/town level. Yes, we do have problems in our schools; and all the required testing, pressure on kids to perform at a particular level, and forcing everyone to learn the same way is having a dismal affect on our children -- as well as the teachers who truly care and want to teach so the kids can succeed and have fun learning. There are even issues in many churches, who have watered down and twisted the truth of the scriptures, in order to make everyone feel loved and accepted and good about themselves; and to not offend anyone.

But perhaps one of the biggest issues is the fact that individuals no longer take responsibility for their own lives and mistakes, the training of their kids and grandkids, and facing up to their own sin and ungodliness. It's much easier to point our finger at the President, our government, our governor, our schools, our churches, peer pressure, the news media, etc. Over the past several years, we have grown more and more accustomed and desensitized to sinful choices and behavior in our families, TV shows, movies...... Divorce, living together before marriage, drinking, legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, cursing and sex scenes -- and even gay lifestyles - on TV shows and movies, and many other things have become more and more commonplace in our society; and although we don't particularly like it, we have excused it by saying, "Oh, that's just our world and how things are today!" But then recently when same sex marriage was legalized by our government, people got in an uproar, as if they were shocked. With everything leading up to this in the past few years, and sinful choices and lifestyles becoming more and more acceptable and commonplace, why was this such a surprise for everyone? And why is this particular sin so much worse than all the other ones that are rampant in our world? God speaks out in His Word very clearly about the many other sins people are indulging in, and not just the gay lifestyle.

I'm not judging or criticizing anyone: but individuals and couples have chosen to indulge in premarital sex, live together before marriage, have affairs, drink in front of the kids or come home drunk, not ever pray with their kids or take them to church or teach them about God, don't consistently pray and read their Bible and attend church themselves, watch TV shows and movies or read books that you wouldn't watch or read if you could literally see God sitting beside you because it would be too embarrassing (or ones you wouldn'd let your kids watch with you), allow kids to indulge in sinful behavior because "kids will be kids and want to experiment and try things", turning a blind eye to homosexual and other ungodly relationship choices (until it is legalized), and basically living to please their flesh and themselves. That behavior is passed from one generation to the next; often declining with each generation. Not always, but kids will often make the same choices their parents do and follow that same pattern, until someone finally says, "Enough is enough! I don't want to live like that, or have my kids live like that!" They choose to break free from ungodly choices and commit their lives to pleasing God.

I'm not saying that the parent or grandparent is responsible for their offsprings' choices, because sometimes sons and daughters choose contrary to how they were raised and decide to go against everything good that they were taught to believe. But I am saying that ofttimes, they will follow the example that they were given at home.

Our nation reminds me so much of the the Israelites. God would warn them and tell them the right way to live and to separate themselves from the sinful nations/people surrounding them and that they should serve only Him. Yet time would go by and they would become involved in the lifestyles and be influenced by those around them, until finally, they would reject God and choose to live to please their flesh. They would get in a huge mess, God would send judgement and punishment upon them, and finally they would repent and call upon God to save them. Sometimes they remained in their bondage and circumstances for many, many years; but finally, God would deliver them when they sincerely repented and called out to Him.

2 Corinthians 7:14 (NLT) says, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore (heal) their land."

The problem is, even though people don't like the recent ruling by the government and don't like the direction our nation is headed, many have not yet reached the point of desperation, nor do they feel the need to cry out to God. They will complain, post pictures and articles about various issues on Facebook, get on their soapbox, and generally not like what all is going on, but they aren't yet to the point of feeling desperate enough to fall on their face to repent and pray. It will take something more catastrophic and closer to home, or something that will negatively affect them or their family, to fully get their attention.

The above scripture say, "If MY people who are called by MY name....." It doesn't say, "If all the heathen" or "If all those who don't believe like I do" or "If the government" or "If all the people who indulge in horrible, terrible sins".... It is talking to those who are Christians and those who proclaim to love God. If we will stop judging others, stop complaining, stop criticizing, stop comparing our small sins to the big sins of others -- and humble ourselves and pray and seek the face of God, turning from our own wicked ways -- then God will forgive our sins and restore our land.

In other words, if we will get the log out of our own eye and stop trying to fix everyone else around us to get the speck out of their eye, then we will see God moving and working in our own personal lives, our families, our friends, our communities, our states, and our country. But it has to start in each of us first!

Don't excuse yourself by saying, "It's too late for me" or "I've made too many mistakes in the past" or "What I'm doing isn't as bad as what a lot of people are doing" or "I'm an overall good person" or "I talk to others about the Lord and sometimes pray"....... but man-up or woman-up, take responsibility for your own behavior and actions, and make this a day of a fresh start and new beginning. Repent, and ask God to help you get the log out of your own eye, before trying to fix your children, neighbors, friends, or our nation.

If we don't each do this, then those sinful tendencies and behavior will grow until it infects our entire life, as well as those around us. Had I left that torn contact in my eye and not bothered to get it out it would have irritated my eye, ended up hurting, and could have caused lots of problems. If I had just complained about it and not ever done anything about it, not only would it have hurt me, it would have ended up affecting Jon. He would have eventually gotten tired of hearing me gripe and complain, tired of seeing my red infected eye, and either stopped being around me and talking to me or would have forced me to go get help. Nobody would have wanted me around them, if all I was going to do was complain about the problem, but not ever do anything about it. Yet that is how we often respond to sin; we will complain about the problem, but never do anything about it.

I truly believe that the time is quickly coming when people can no longer straddle the fence on spiritual issues. We are either going to have to be completely committed to God and follow Him with our whole heart, regardless of temptations or how tough circumstances get; or we're going to have to cross over to the other side and allow sin and Satan to rule our lives and decisions. We won't be able to say we love and believe in God, while indulging in sinful behavior, and being a half-hearted Christian.

In Joshua chapter 24, Joshua is speaking to the Israelites one last time before his death, and I believe we should take heed to his words today. He tells them to fear the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly. Put away the idols that their ancestors worshiped when they lived in Egypt, and serve God alone. But if they refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom they would serve. Would they choose the idols of their ancestors, or the gods of the people in whose land they now lived? He ended by saying, "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"

We may not have idols built in our towns where people go worship, although other religions that do worship idols are becoming more commonplace in our nation; but people worship many other things besides God. Are you going to choose to accept the sins of our nation and condone ungodly acts and behavior? Are you going to excuse your own sinful choices and fulfill the lust of your flesh? Or are you going to choose to serve the Lord? We all serve something or someone, and we need to make a whole-hearted choice as to who and what that is going to be. I can honestly say for Jon and myself, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"

The people responded to Joshua that they would serve the Lord. Joshua warned the people by telling them, "You are not able to serve the Lord; for He is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, He will turn against you and destroy you, even though He has been so good to you...... destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel."

Joshua was warning the people that they couldn't hold to their old traditions and worship idols, please their flesh and do what they wanted to do, and totally please God at the same time. They had to make a choice, as we do today. God is a holy and jealous God, desiring that we each serve only Him and give Him our entire heart. He's not going to put up with our rebellion and sins, and half-hearted commitment. If we abandon the Lord and allow other things to become gods in our lives, then He will destroy and abandon us, even though He has blessed us and been so good to us up to this point.

May we each declare and say the same as the Israelites did to Joshua, "We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey Him alone!!" We can only do so when we search our own heart and allow God to remove the sin from our lives. Let's get the log out of our own eye, so we can fully honor and please God!!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

It's hard to come out strongly against sin, especially sins that many people don't believe are sin, or are commonly regarded as good.

Some people may look at us as confirming what they think is a stereotypical Christian. They would say that we hate people who sin, and are horrible people because of that. What they don't realize is that anyone who is truly a Christian, who truly wants to please Jesus, would never hate anyone, but might hate to see that sin has such a strong hold on so many people that they don't even realize it is sin.

And some people may look at us, and consider us hypocrites. We admit we have sinned. So who are we to condemn someone for sinning? Again, we don't want to condemn anyone. But we hope to see everyone, including ourselves, quit sinning. We can't excuse our own sins because someone else has committed a sin, too, even if we think their sin is much more evil. And our sin isn't an excuse for anyone else's, especially sin in our past.

And some people might think we are acting like we think we are better than someone else. No. We both believe we are better than we were in the past. But we can't compare ourselves to others. Partly because we don't want to (one should never ask a question they aren't willing to hear answered). And partly because we can't expect to know someone else's heart.

ON THE MENEWE:

Chicken Salad

Chicken Breast, chopped

Red Grapes, split in half

Hellmann's Mayonnaise

Croissants

Chopped Celery

Boil chicken breast until cooked; cool, debone, and chop. You can also used a store-bought rotisserie chicken; or in a pinch, used canned chicken. Add Hellmann's Mayonnaise (the real stuff taste so much better!), chopped celery, and grapes that have been split in half. Mix until good consistency and serve on croissants. The amounts depend on how much you want to make. I would suggest adding the mayo in smaller quantities, because you can always add more, but can't take it out once it's stirred in.

THIS, THAT, AND THE OTHER:

Last post about my 50th birthday.... I promise.... at least for a while!

I just want to thank everyone for their messages on Facebook, cards, gifts, lunch, dinner, sister time, message written on my front porch, emails, etc. It was my best birthday ever!! I felt so special and very much loved. I wish everyone could have a similar experience and feel such love at least once in their lifetime. I have such a great family and such wonderful friends, and I love each and everyone one. I truly am a blessed woman!!!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

"Husbands, love your wife well! Your children are noticing how you treat her.

You are teaching your sons how to treat women

and you are teaching your daughters what they should expect from men." - unknown

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org