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

February 17, 2016

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

I have rarely had a dream from which I woke up and remembered the details, thinking that it was a God dream with special significance. A few nights ago, I had such a dream. Honestly, there's a part of me that is hesitant to share it, because my flesh thinks, "What if I tell people and they think it's silly or think I'm reading more into it than what's there?" But regardless, here is the short version of the dream:

In my dream, I was attending a church at a rather large church, for a funeral. When I walked in, I saw many people that I've known throughout my life; family, former pastors, friends, and people I've attended church with over the years. Some of them were people who have already passed away, but in my dream, it didn't seem strange that they were there. Two of my sisters and I were supposed to sing. I walked into the sanctuary and thought I was supposed to go up front and start playing the piano, but a former pastor (who did not play the piano and never sang solos) was sitting at the piano singing and playing; and he was doing an outstanding job. I sat down behind my sisters, whom I was going to sing with, and was going over the words to the song in my mind, but couldn't remember all the words to a verse I was supposed to sing solo. I leaned forward and asked if one of them had written down the words, since we hadn't practiced the song beforehand and hadn't sang it in a long time. Janie responded, "It's okay. Whatever words we use when we sing, the song is always beautiful." The service started, and elderly women, whom I had attended church with growing up, were setting on the front row and started taking turns speaking. (I never heard any of them speak in church!) They did an amazing job! My sisters and I went up front to sing, and I thought that a former pastor's wife (who does play piano) was going to play for us, but she didn't come up on stage with us; so we began singing a cappella. We started singing a song, and I thought, "This is the wrong song!" so we stopped and started singing another song, and it also wasn't the right one. I decided to go to the piano and play for us, thinking perhaps that would get us singing the right song; but once again, it wasn't the right song. I stopped playing and apologized for us singing the wrong songs, but when I looked back over the congregation, it was as if no one even noticed that we weren't singing the right song. In my dream, I was familiar with all of the songs we were singing. Some were ones my sisters and I used to sing together years ago, old hymns, and songs I grew up hearing. I can't remember right now what all of the songs were. As we once again started singing another song, which was still the wrong one -- or so I thought, I looked back and people started getting up out of their seats and flooding to the front of the church and started praying. People were getting saved, healed, delivered, filled with the Holy Spirit, etc. It was amazing what God was doing! What had began as a funeral turned into a revival.

When I woke up the next morning, I could still vividly recall my dream, and there was something within my heart that let me know that there was something significant about it; but honestly, right then I couldn't put my finger on what it was and didn't understand. So I began praying and asking God to reveal the meaning of the dream to me.

This is what I strongly feel that the Holy Spirit revealed to me:

With everything going on in our society and government and economy and schools, there are many who believe that the churches are dead and that when they go, they are going to a "funeral" - so to speak. They don't see anything living in the church and even believe that the days of miracles and God working are over. Not to say that they've stopped believing in God or in His power and ability to do miracles; but it seems as if nothing significant or noteworthy is happening in our churches. But God is getting ready to do something to show that the church isn't dead and that it's not a funeral we're attending, but a revival!

The prophet Joel prophesies in Joel 2:28-32, and then Peter reiterates this passage of scripture in Acts 2:17-21 about a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days. (NLT -- taken from both passages of scripture) "'In the last days', God says, 'I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants -- men and women alike -- and they will prophesy. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below -- blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"

I believe that the church is getting ready to see this prophesy fulfilled. There will be people, of all ages, that God will use and reveal Himself to, if they will willingly allow Him to work through them; both men and women alike, as these scriptures say. People that we've never before seen ministering or speaking up in our churches, will have a boldness and we will see God working through them. It will amaze us at who God is using and astounded at the anointing that is upon them. God is wanting to speak to and use us all, but we have to be willing to draw near to God and allow Him to reveal Himself to us; then be willing to speak out in boldness and faith.

But this is the bottom-line message that I believe God spoke to me regarding this: When He comes and moves, it's not going to be about the song! For too long, we've made worship and church and altar services all about the songs. In fact, for the past several years there has been great controversy about the style of worship music that should be used and it's caused division, because both sides think they're right. The argument is based upon which style of music each side prefers. Some prefer the older hymns and older worship songs, while the other side prefers the more modern sound and style of worship music. We've made church and worship all about the song!

I have to be honest with you; I love hymns, older worship songs (or choruses, as we called them when they first started coming into the churches -- or at least the church I attended), and the southern gospel style of music. Those are what draw me and speak to my heart. But I often feel as if I'm in the minority and that I'm old fashioned. I personally don't care for the modern worship songs and style of music. I don't like the songs that are poetical, where I don't really understand the message, making me feel like I must be awfully unspiritual to not "get" it. I want to be able to sing a song and know what it's saying; without having to go home and dissect it line by line, which I've done more than once. It's hard for me to worship, through music, when I'm trying to figure out exactly what the message of the song is. I have always been a very musical person, but have gotten to the point where I really don't care for music anymore. I have honestly tried to like the worship music that most congregations sing or that you hear on christian radio stations -- I really have. I've struggled with trying to worship in spite of not caring for the songs being sung, but have sometimes caught myself standing there thinking, "I'll be glad when we're finished with this part of the service and move onto something else!" I'm just being very candid and honest about myself!! But God has reminded me over and over and over again throughout each day since having that dream, that worship and Him doing miracles and working in the hearts of people isn't about the song; and I, as well as others, regardless of which side of the spectrum they stand on, need to stop making it about the song, and make it about God. What God is getting ready to do in our churches and our nation has nothing to do with the song, but about Him!

Perhaps that is why God spoke to my heart through this particular dream. Perhaps that is why He is telling me that when He sends His Spirit and moves in these last days, it's not going to be about the song. The style of music and songs we sing aren't going to be the focus. The music isn't going to move the people; it's going to be the Spirit of God that draws people and speaks to their heart.

I do believe that worship is important, and we use music as a means in which to draw us into the presence of God. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm not trying to start a movement of getting music and singing out of our churches, by any stretch of the imagination. But over the years, I, too often, have personally made the song my focus. I believe that what God is wanting to do in our churches and how He is wanting to reveal Himself to us is much bigger than that. When Jesus was on earth ministering, He taught and prayed and healed and encouraged. When we look at the ministry of the disciples and of Paul, they preached and taught and prayed and took care of the widows and orphans and miracles happened. No where in scripture does it talk about which songs were being sung either prior to their preaching or while they were praying for people. I feel that the Holy Spirit spoke to me that in these last days, it's not going to be about the song or style of song, but about seeing God reveal Himself as never before; and seeing miracles occur.

We often can make things about something in which it was never intended. This just happens to be the message that God spoke to my heart. I encourage you to search your own heart and ask God to reveal to you if you're making anything in your own life something that it was never intended to be. Is there anything that you're making your focus and priority, instead of God? Are you allowing something to distract your attention away from God? Good things can often cause division or create argument or have very differing opinions. Satan uses those things many times in order to get our focus on something different than God and what He wants to accomplish. Let's stop making our priority and focus about "the song", and make it about God; then wait and see what He does when He shows up and begins to reveal Himself to us!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I'm also fond of the older songs. It's probably because that's what I grew up hearing. I remember singing out of an old hymn book in church. But I'd rather think I like the older songs because they are better songs. After all, they must be good if they have been around for 50, 100, or more years. It turns out that some of the old hymns I like so much aren't as old as I am.

I feel the same about secular music from the 60s and 70s. Truthfully, my taste in secular music is probably more from trying to be like my brother, and following his taste, than anything else. He had great taste in music, and I wanted to be just like him.

My point is that it seems like we have yet another generational divide. I may prefer the older music and hymns, and may have a hard time following the newer songs well. But at least the newer worship music isn't disco.

ON THE MENEWE:

Beef Stroganoff

tenderized round steak or sirloin

1 package Au Jus Gravy, dry

1 stick butter

1 package sliced mushrooms

Beef broth

1 package cream cheese

1/2 to 3/4 cup sour cream

Egg noodles

Cut round steak or sirloin into half-inch strips lengthwise; then cut each strip in half. Place meat in crock-pot. Sprinkle package of dry Au Jus Gravy mix over top of meat. Place stick of butter on top of meat (can cube butter and place over the top; either way works well). Pour in container of mushrooms. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, or can cook on high for 3-4 hours, until meat is tender. If you need more juice, pour in 1-2 cups of beef broth when almost finished cooking. Cook egg noodles according to package; drain. (You can use regular egg noodles, or frozen egg noodles, or I like the "Amish Kitchen" brand.) While noodles are cooking, stir meat mixture, then place block of cream cheese in crock-pot; recover with the lid and let start melt. When cream cheese is softened and melting, stir mixture together. Add in sour cream and mix. You can add a little more beef broth in if it looks too thick. After draining the noodles, mix the noodles and meat mixture together. When serving, you can sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top, if desired.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

Sometimes when someone is going through a tough time we want to do something, but have no idea what to do. I asked my sister, Janie, for some ideas for a care package. A few years ago she was dealing with caring for my brother-in-law, so I knew that she would know what types of things would be helpful. Here are her ideas, that perhaps you can use to make up a care package for someone you know that is dealing with caring for a loved one or going through a difficult time:

Snacks, lotion, magazines, slipper socks, breath mints, Werther's candies, puzzle book, adult coloring book and colored pencils (the new twistable colored pencils are wonderful), small flashlight.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

If while helping someone you're expecting something in return,

you're doing business not kindness. - unknown

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org