"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 13, 2019


Growing up, my last name was Horton. My dad was the oldest of six children. We didn't visit with his family as much as we did my mom's side of the family; and I didn't have nearly as many cousins. My mom's maiden name was Parton; and she came from a family of ten children, so I had a lot of uncles and aunts and cousins on that side of the family. Both the Horton and Parton family name were respected in the community in which I grew up.

Daddy and Mama were respected and well liked by all who knew them. I was proud to be their daughter and have my name associated with them as being my parents. We were very close-knit family and I have always felt as if it were an honor that God chose them to be my parents, as well as allowing me to have four older sisters.

I remember when I was probably in my early-thirties I was attending a wedding. An older couple came up to me afterwards and asked, "Aren't you Doyal and Bonnie Horton's youngest daughter?" They were someone whom I was familiar with, but I didn't know them well. They had likely known my parents since they were youngsters. It made me feel quite honored to be recognized and connected to Daddy and Mama.

I loved being a mixture of the Horton and Parton families. I loved representing them growing up and having my name associated these wonderful people. I still am!

When Jon and I got married, I took on his last name of Gray. Since the moment that we were pronounced husband and wife, I have had the responsibility of representing his family, also.

So I am a representative of the Horton, Parton, and Gray families. If I represent well, then my reputation will reflect well on the family names. If I choose to indulge in misconduct, it will sully my good name.

I have family who have adopted children. When the parents chose to adopt, their actions said, "I am choosing to give you my name. From this moment forward you will be my very own son/daughter and I will love you and treat you as such. You now become a representative of our family name."

When we become christians, Christ gives us His name. As such, we become His representative. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we carry His name and as such, our lives should become a reflection of Him.

If we fail to represent Christ well, then it could hurt our reputation among unbelievers. In fact, I have heard comments along the line of, "If that's what christians or the church is supposed to be like, then I don't want any part of it! I'm as good as they are. They act one way on Sunday, and another way during the week; they're no better than I am. I don't want to have anything to do with church if that's how believers act. People who attend church are nothing but hypocrites.....etc....."

But if we respect and honor our new name, then it will be a reflection of our Father and will lead others to Him. When hurting people need prayer, they will come to us and ask us to pray for them. When unbelievers see Christ in us, they will know who they can talk to when they need help. They will watch our lives and there may be opportunities for us to tell them about Jesus and what He can do in and for them.

At times, people may represent Christ well; then life situations happen that cause them to lose their commitment. It's not that they necessarily stop believing in God; but they stop trusting Him, or allow their focus to shift onto other things, or allow hurts to separate them from living a surrendered life, or fail to maintain their relationship. They may still carry the name "christian"; but they separate themselves from God's family and no longer honor Him as Father.

One of the most hurtful things a child can do is to sever the bond between themselves and their family. Parents may mourn and try to mend the broken relationship. But for whatever reason, the child chooses to go another way and look to other people or things to try and fill that void within them. They may feel as if they are justified in their actions and it's not their fault; and much like the son in the story of the prodigal, they leave their father's home, thinking that they can handle life on their own.

But our Father is always waiting, longing for us to return back "home" to Him! He wants us to come back to the family and be reconciled to Him. He wants us to once again represent His name well.

Just as I feel honored to represent my family names, I desire to even more so, represent my Father's name well.

How are you doing as a representative of Christ? Are you honoring your family name that He gave you when you became His child? If not, I encourage you to go back home, just as the prodigal son did, and allow the Father to welcome you back with open arms! The world needs to see christians who are committed and who are examples of Jesus; they need people to show them how believers are supposed to live. Let's be that example!


When I was young, I was taught that prayers ended in "In Jesus's name, amen." I ended all prayers like that, because that's how they end.

Years later, I started to wonder what exactly that meant. "Amen" basically means, "Let it be". And with "Jesus's name", it is like saying "Let it happen because Jesus says so." That's a very powerful declaration. It has a power that comes from the same voice that created the universe, Earth, and everything on it.

It's also a dangerous power to use. If we claim to speak in Jesus's name, we have a major responsibility to speak only what Jesus really agrees to. He does give us that authority, but also with responsibility.


Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups sweet potatoes, drained and mashed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup milk

Stir all ingredients together and pour into a 9x13 pan.


1 stick butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans

Melt butter; add all ingredients of topping together. Add topping to top of casserole.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.


As we are nearing the Thanksgiving season, I encourage you to daily begin to take time to thank God for His blessings. Begin meditating upon all that He has done in your life, answered prayer, and those little things that He does for you each and every day. Let's have hearts of gratitude!


Worried mother hens is the reason that chickens can't fly as well as other birds do. - Danny Thomas Show


We love you!

Loretta & Jon