"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!'"
March 30, 2016
Have you ever set a goal for yourself that seems fairly impossible to attain? Yet in spite of how impossible it may seem, you continue working and working towards achieving your objective. There is a determination to not give up!
Almost every night before falling asleep, Jon and I do an online crossword puzzle. We each pulled it up on our own individual iPad, but work on solving the puzzle together. After doing this for quite some time, we set the goal that we wanted to be able to solve it in ten minutes. That may seem like a somewhat silly goal, but it was something we really wanted to achieve. We worked on this night after night, for several months, but could never get it within the ten minute time-frame we'd set as our goal. We got it down to eleven or twelve minutes, but just couldn't seem to hit that ten minute mark! When the crossword is solved, at the bottom of the screen it shows what your time was, down to the exact minute and second.
Each night we checked our time and FINALLY - bam! We got it!! After months of perseverance, we had at last reach the time goal that we had set for ourselves. It was exciting, and we took screen shots of the puzzle so we'd have proof that we had done it....and high-fived each other.... and whooped, "We did it!" It had taken a long time to accomplish this feat, and we were quite proud of ourselves.
Guess what?!? We've solved the puzzle within the ten minute time frame, that was our original goal, a few times now. In fact, we've even solved it in 9 minutes a couple times!!
After much determination and patience, we accomplished what seemed to be impossible, and have even gone above and beyond the original goal!! That only happened by us persevering, not giving up, gaining experience in working the crosswords together, and keeping our goal in mind.
There are times, however, when we set a goal, but then tend to get side-tracked or discouraged on our journey towards achieving it. We may eventually reach that goal, but it takes much longer than it should have due to us losing focus and running off in various directions. At other times, we give up and go off on a completely different route and forget what our goal even was.
Our dog, Sammie, often seems to be the king of being side-tracked. We will take him outside to go potty, and he will head toward a tree..... then he sees a squirrel and chases it.... then he sees a tall blade of grass that needs to be "watered".... then he hears a neighbors dog back and stops and looks around.... then he runs to the fence.... I call him to come inside the house.... he starts to run towards me, but then hears a firetruck siren, so gets side-tracked.... then he goes back to "water" the tree.... then I yell for him to come back to the house and he starts towards me.... but sees a stick that he had forgot to "water"..... then he sees a rabbit.... Sometimes what should take two minutes, takes ten!
Sammie does the same thing when we try to get him to eat in the mornings before we leave the house. I'll say, "Go eat, Sammie!" He'll go to his food dish and sniff at it.... then hears Jon coming downstairs, so runs over to see what he's doing.... then Jon says, "Go eat, Sammie!".... so he runs back over to his food dish, but decides he needs to run around sniffing the entire kitchen floor.... It gets frustrating; especially when we're on a time schedule and need to be somewhere! Sammie normally won't eat when we're not home, so we can't just leave. Also, there have been several times when Sammie will throw up yellow bile if his stomach is empty, therefore, we want him to eat so we don't come home to a mess to clean up.
A few days ago, I was babysitting my great-niece, Jovie, who is two. She handed me a little baby blanket and I old her to go find her baby doll and I'd wrap it in the blanket. She told me her baby was in her bed, which is upstairs. So I told her to go upstairs and get her baby. She said okay... then started watching TV... then started towards the stairs... then got side-tracked by the laundry basket... then told me that she was going upstairs to get her baby... then saw another toy to show me.... until she finally did make it upstairs and brought her baby doll down to me to wrap in the blanket!
The examples of Sammie and Jovie getting side-tracked are humorous, but how often do we do the same thing ourselves? I'm not necessarily talking about doing housework and getting side-tracked, going from one project to the next, without ever finishing anything.... or going to the garage to find a tool, then seeing something that needs put away and getting side-tracked from your original purpose. I'm talking about getting side-tracked from our purpose and life goals.
Too often, we give up because it seems impossible, or we aren't seeing the results that we had hoped for, or we keep getting distracted and off-track. We may even wonder if it's worth pursuing our goal. But boy, oh boy!! When we persevere and don't give up, isn't it an awesome feeling when we finally accomplish something that we've been striving for?!
Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) tells us of a particular goal that we should all strive for: "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
The NLT words verses 13-14 like this: "No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."
Life is a journey with an eternal destination at the end. There are times when it's easy to become discouraged, or side-tracked, or lose focus on what our goal is. We may keep getting off track and then hear God calling us back, so we get back on the right track, then get side-tracked again, then get steered back onto the straight and narrow. There may be other times when life just seems too tough and we are dealt heart-wrenching situations that we don't understand, and it's tough to keep our goal in sight. But if we will press forward, not looking behind us but keeping our eyes always focused forward to what lies ahead, then we will reach our goal when we reach the end of the race. We will receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus, is calling us.
Don't give up! Don't lose focus! Don't get so side-tracked that the right path becomes lost to you! Keep looking forward, not behind you! The race will one day end for each of us, and we will receive that eternal prize, if we don't give up and keep our goal ever before us!!
Sometimes, God's promise can be like our struggle to beat 10 minutes on the crossword. We may do our part over and over, waiting patiently for the answer. And then, when it comes, it comes more than we were looking for in the first place.
Finances can work like that. We may pray for freedom from big debts, and work hard, and give up morning coffees at a drive-through, or other extra expenses. And when we finally get free from one credit card, we find we get free from the rest, too, and then get to pay off student loans and car loans. It's a little obvious that getting away from the cost of interest on a credit card can leave us more money to pay off the others.
It can work in other areas, too. So, whatever you might be praying for, be patient. Keep praying. Eventually, He will answer, and probably more than you really looked for.
Crock-Pot Cilantro Lime Shredded Chicken
6 chicken breasts, boneless halves
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
Juice from 1 lime
1 (24 oz.) Salsa
1 package taco seasoning
In a crock-pot, mix together: jar of salsa, juice from one lime, chopped cilantro, package of taco seasoning, and jalapeno peppers (finely chopped -- optional). Add 4-6 boneless chicken breast halved (completely defrosted) to the crock-pot and coat with the salsa mixture. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. When cooked, use 2 forks to shred the meat, leaving it in the salsa mixture.
Can serve with a dollup of sour cream on top of tortilla chips.
This is also delicious as a taco filling (which is how I served it). Serve in a tortilla with shredded cheese, sour cream, and whatever additional ingredients you may want.
When there are good, clean movies in the theaters with a positive message, I feel that it is important for christians to go see them and show their support. If not, then those type of movies aren't going to do well and won't be made. Honestly, we aren't always able to go to the theaters due to schedule conflicts, but try to so so when we can. Even if we can't see these type of movies in the theater, we try and show support by later watching them on DVD or TV.
Jon and I haven't been to see a movie in probably 2-3 years; both due to busyness and not really seeing a lot that caught our attention. We have gone to see two movies in the past month, which we thought were both very good.
The first we saw was "Risen". It tells the story of the resurrection of Jesus, through the eyes of a Roman soldier, and how this event changed his life.
The second movie that we recently saw was "Miracle From Heaven". This movie is based on a true story; and I will tell you that it is a tear-jerker from beginning to end. It is very touching, very real to life, and pretty emotional. It's the story of a young girl who is diagnosed with a very rare stomach disorder and how her family is affected by this, and how it tests their faith in God. It has an awesome ending!
God's Word is true whether we believe it or not.
Human unbelief cannot alter the character of God. - A.W. Tozer
We love you!
Loretta & Jon