"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

November 15, 2017


Have you ever experienced a good time of prayer or been in a really good church service, then afterwards something happens that immediately causes you to feel upset or stressed? Perhaps you're in a church service and look around and everyone else is being blessed and strongly feeling the presence of God, but there is something that is distracting you and you feel yourself becoming more and more uptight and stressed inside.

That has happened to me many times over the years, but particularly this past Sunday. I had felt as if I should pray for our service during the Sunday School hour, and had strongly felt the presence of God and been blessed. I enter the sanctuary for the morning service and am given the task of watching two small boys, ages two and three, during our time of worship. I dearly love these two little guys! But.... I generally only see them once a week on Sunday and they're not in a home where there is consistency during the week; and Jesus isn't a part of their daily lives. They are competitive and what one does, the other wants to copy.

This past week, they seemed to be a bit of a handful and I was distracted during the entire worship time. I was feeding them Cheerios and juice to try and keep them quiet, which helped, but they are very active little boys and I could feel my stress level building. I looked around and could see everyone else being particularly blessed by our worship time, and honestly, all I was feeling was stress from trying to keep the boys quiet, trying to stop them from throwing their cups (they'd get upset and throw a fit if I took their cups away), tried to keep them from talking so loudly to one another, trying to keep one of them from hitting or hollering or throwing a fit when I needed to discipline him for one thing or another, trying to make sure they weren't distracting those around us..... Finally, I gave up and took them back to the nursery until children's church began.

As I was sitting there I started thinking, "I wonder if I could pay so and so $50 a week to keep them during church?" Then I'd think, "But then the boys wouldn't get any Jesus or spiritual teaching in them." So I'd think, "Okay, I wonder if I could pay someone just to sit back in the nursery to watch them during worship?" Then my mind would respond with, "No; that would take someone else out of the service for our worship time!" Every thought I had, there would come a rebuttal on why it wouldn't work.

Then by the time I got back into the service for the sermon, it took me half of the sermon to calm my mind down without becoming distracted with the thoughts that kept coming. I could see that the pastor was very anointed and preaching a really powerful sermon, I could look around and see that those around me were being blessed and being spiritually fed, and I was trying to listen so that I could receive from it, also; but I was really struggling with paying attention and keeping my mind focused. Sadly, I left the service feeling as if I hadn't really received what I should have. Instead of taking my thoughts captive, I gave into the flesh and missed out on fully hearing and receiving from the Word of God.

This happens many times during prayer. Whenever I begin praying, my thoughts will stray from one thing to another. I'll think, "I should start a load of laundry.... I need to email so and so.... What should I cook for supper tonight.... I need to balance our checkbook.... I think Jon is getting low on milk and juice.... Sammie is standing by the front door so probably needs to be let out to go potty.... What should I get Jon for his birthday and Christmas this year...." I have to recognize what is happening and reign in my thoughts each time they try and go down rabbit trails away from God.

I have found that I need to put my laptop, phone, and iPad away so that I'm not tempted to answer calls or text or check Facebook. I have to decide that nothing is more important than my time with God, and let nothing distract me from my purpose of being with Him.

I don't think I'm alone in this. Without a doubt, this is something that everyone experiences; and something that has been a struggle ever since Jesus was here on earth.

The disciples struggled with staying watchful and alert during prayer. When Jesus took them to the garden prior to His crucifixion, He asked them to keep watch with Him. When he arose from prayer and found them sleeping, He asked, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:40-41)

There has always been that tug-of-war between the spirit and the flesh. The flesh wants to rule the spirit, but the spirit desires for the flesh to be submissive. I believe that is why we are told that we need to die to the flesh daily. If not, our flesh will become stronger, even though the spirit is willing to obey the Holy Spirit and do what is needed and right.

For the past several days I've been doing something different during my prayer time. I listened to a sermon about learning to wait on the Lord and what that means, and have been putting that principle into practice. Whenever I enter my time of prayer, I just sit quietly and wait on the Lord.... however long that may take. I don't talk, I don't read the Bible, but I put on worship music and I just sit and wait. During that time, I often have to reign my thoughts in and take them captive so that I'm not distracted. It may take 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 15 minutes.... but I wait. As I wait, it's not wasted time. I don't get up and put a load of laundry in, or answer a call or text or check my phone or Facebook... I just sit and wait.

The thing is, while I'm waiting I am drawing closer and closer to Jesus. And I always know the exact minute when I've entered into His presence. Once I enter into His presence, then my heart, mind, soul, and spirit are ready for prayer. At that time, nothing else matters, except being with Jesus -- nothing!! There is something extremely powerful about being in the presence of Jesus; allowing absolutely nothing to hinder your prayer or disrupt or distract or come between you and Him.

If we want to really press through and experience all that Jesus has for us, then we have to choose to press through all of the distractions and wait until we become one with Jesus and are in the presence of our Heavenly Father. We can become stressed, frustrated, upset, and/or distracted.... or we can choose to wait on the Lord and experience His glory! Sometimes that is difficult and our flesh seems to rebel; but it will be well worth it to submit to the Spirit and be taken into heavenly places.


I admit that I've never been able to stay focused that long. I don't usually even make it through a church service without nodding off. I've tried to shut out all distractions and focus on waiting on the Lord several times in the morning, but have a deadline to leave for work. I've tried at night, and either fall asleep or keep getting distracted with a long list of things to worry or obsess about.

Thursday nights, we have about 2 hours of prayer at our church, and I've tried there, too. But I keep getting distracted with all the things that need to be done, but at least I don't fall asleep. That's probably only because I get up and walk around, though.

I'm sure if I had been on the hill with Jesus, I would have been one of the first ones asleep. That is, unless I was busy trying to build a fire, or something.

I had someone tell me I couldn't possibly be attention deficit because of how much I focus on a TV show. What they didn't realize is that I might stare at a screen, and catch 3/4 of what happens, and be drifting off on some tangent the rest of the time. And that's only if it's a show I'm very interested in.

Most evenings at home, I watch TV, play a game, and visit with Loretta, more-or-less at the same time. I'll shift focus back and forth constantly. Of course, when Loretta is speaking, I focus 100% on her. But the other 20% might be focused on the TV or a game.

And even now, I'm having a hard time focusing on what I'm writing. So much that I've forgotten my original point.

Here's another point: It is important to find some time to stop everything else, and devote your mind and heart to God. I'm hoping that in time, with more practice, I'll be able to keep it up long enough to hear back. I've felt the presence and closeness of God, and hope to feel that more often; maybe even every day.


Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ginger

2/3 cup pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 cup flour

Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Beat eggs and sugar at high speed for 5 minutes. Add pumpkin and lemon juice; fold in dry ingredients. Pour into 10x15 jelly roll pan that has been lined with waxed paper and well greased and floured. Bake for 15 minutes on 350. As soon as taken from the oven, put wet cheesecloth on top and roll up. Put in refrigerator to cool, about 15 minutes. Unroll to prepare to spread with filling.


1 cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat ingredients together until well mixed. Unroll pumpkin roll, take off cheesecloth, and spread top with filling. Re-roll and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into 1/2-inch slices and serve.


An inexperienced preacher was to hold a graveside service for an indigent man with no family or friends. Not knowing where the cemetery was, he made several wrong turns and got lost. When he eventually arrived an hour late, the hearse was nowhere in sight, the backhoe was next to the open hole, and the workmen were sitting under a tree eating lunch. The diligent young minister went to the open grave and found that the vault lid had already been put in place. Feeling guilty because of his tardiness, he preached an impassioned and lengthy service, sending the deceased to the great beyond in style. As he returned to his car to leave, he overheard one of the workmen say to the other, "I've been putting in septic tanks for twenty years and I ain't never seen anything like that!"


If you judge people, you have no time to love them. - Mother Teresa


We love you!

Loretta & Jon