"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!'"
April 20, 2016
A while back, Jon pointed something out to me that both my sister, Janie, and I often do. Apparently, it's something that we've both done for a long time, but Jon has just now taken it upon himself to tell me about it. After he told me, and I then told Janie, we have noticed that we really do this quite often. And honestly, it still doesn't bother us, and we think it's funny..... probably much funnier than Jon does!
We will cook a meal or dessert and comment, "Boy, this really turned out good!".... or something to that affect. Or we may make or do something and say, "I'm really happy with how this turned out! I think it looks really nice!".... or something to that affect. Since Jon has mentioned this to us, we both realize that we do this fairly often! Sometimes if someone does give us compliments, we'll respond, "Thank you. It really did turn out good this time, didn't it?!".... or something to that affect.
Jon told me, "I don't need to brag on your cooking, because you do it yourself!!" We have both told him that not everything we cook always turns out good, so we're just excited when it does.
Jon's rebuttal is, "I wasn't brought up that way. I wasn't brought up to brag on myself, or hear other people brag on themselves." My response was, "WELL.... maybe your mom didn't think her cooking was anything to brag about!" (Sorry, Diane... but I know you're not offended, because we've had conversations about you not liking to cook.)
Neither Janie nor I see our comments as being boastful or prideful in ourselves. Neither of us believe that we're the best cook ever or that our talents exceed that of other people. We see it as stating a fact: This is good gravy! This cake turned out really good! Didn't this roast turn out tender and good?! Mmm, this hits the spot and tastes good! I'd definitely make this again -- it's really good!
On the other hand, we had an aunt who went to the extreme the other direction. Aunt Ruth was an excellent cook. Our family, and often one or two of our other uncles and aunts, would frequently visit Bill and Ruth after church on Sunday nights. We would have family get togethers at their house from time to time. Ruth generally would have a cake or pie or something made. Anytime anyone told her that it was good, she would always say, "Oh, it didn't turn out as good as it usually does!" or "I didn't think it turned out very good this time!" If she had a new dress and someone complimented her, she would always say something along the lines of, "Oh, this old thing! I don't think it looks very good on me!" I loved Ruth and spent a lot of time at her house. She passed away last year and I miss her. But in the 49 years that I knew her, I don't think I ever heard her say, "Thank you," when someone gave her a compliment.
This past Sunday, Janie (who is my pastor), mentioned the story of the boy who gave his lunch of the 5 loaves and 2 fishes. There was a crowd of people who were spending the day listening to Jesus teach, and they were getting hungry. I don't know if they hadn't intended on spending the entire day there, or why none of them thought to bring food, except for this one boy. The disciples went through the crowd looking for food to feed the multitude, and this is all they found. Jesus took that little dab of food, prayed over it, and began dividing it up into baskets for the disciples to serve to the people. This sounds unbelievable, but over 5,000 people were fed on that little bit of food.... and there were 12 basketfuls leftover! True story!! (Matthew 14:13-21)
Jon and I were discussing this story on our way home from church. The scripture doesn't say that Jesus had the disciples take the boy out of sight and hide him from view, then ask him about giving his fish and bread. Jesus didn't go hide when He prayed over them and divided them up. He asked the disciples to bring the food to Him. Likely, everyone around the boy saw him give them his fish and bread. Jesus had the multitude set down, then He blessed the fish and bread before breaking them into pieces and filling the baskets, so that His disciples could distribute them to the crowd.
As christians, we are often so worried that someone is going to think that we're prideful or boastful, that we tend to try and hide our gifts and talents. We don't want anyone to consider us as being arrogant, so we will put ourselves down or make a big fuss about not wanting to be noticed. Self-confidence is often perceived as being prideful or thinking that you're better than others; and more times than not, that's not the case. It's generally those who lack confidence who made a big fuss about humility and not wanting to be seen.
Matthew 6:3 is often taken out of context. (NLT) "When you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what you're right hand is doing." Many take this as meaning that we should always do our good deeds or giving in secrecy, or else we're being prideful and full of ourselves.
I don't often use The Message version, but I think it better clarifies this scripture and what it really means. "When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure -- 'play-actors' I call them -- treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it -- quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out."
I think it's all about the attitude. Are you doing it to get attention or applaud, or are you doing it to bless others? Are you doing it trying to get brownie points with God because you want something, or are you doing it out of a heart of obedience and love? We should have the same spirit within us, whether in private or in a crowd. If our heart is in the right place and our eyes are focused on God, then we're going to have the right attitude and not have to be worried about how others will perceive us. Our prayers and obedience will be the same, whether we're alone or in public.
I like the last line of that scripture in The Message: "That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out." God doesn't sound a big trumpet and make a big todo every time He answers our prayers and does something spectacular in our lives. He just helps us out, because He loves us and wants His best for us. We are to be like Jesus, so this should be how we also act: working behind the scenes, helping others out. Not making a big fuss or todo... if no one knows or sees, that's fine.... if it is seen, then God has brought it to light to encourage and bless others.
We encourage and build one another's faith by our testimonies of the faithfulness and goodness of God. When we hear people testify of healing or provision or answered prayer -- whatever it may be, small or large - it builds our faith and our trust in God doing the same for us. We're not to keep silent and not share with others regarding what God is doing. It's not prideful or boastful to testify about answered prayer! It's giving glory to God and encouraging your brothers and sisters in Christ.
I doubt that Janie and I stop commenting about the food we prepare, if we think it turns out really good. If we make or do something that we think turn out great, we'll probably comment on it. We're not going to have a false sense of modesty, putting ourselves down and trying to make ourselves look meek or humble -- or looking for underhanded compliments. Nor are we going to boast that "My cooking is better than you're cooking!" or make others feel inferior should they not be confident in their skills. We're going to encourage and help others. But we may also say, "This is some good gravy I made this time!" There is a balance in thinking higher of yourself than you should and having a false sense of humility. Jon may not agree, but I think we've found it!
It's the same in our works as a christian -- we need to have a balance.
Matthew 5:16 (NLT) says, "In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." There has to be a balance between "not letting your left hand knowing what your right hand is doing" and "letting your good deeds shine out for all to see". The underlying purpose of it all is "so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father!"
I just want to rebut a little first. I've had some people think that I must think I'm better than them because I'm a christian. I think I'm better now than I was when I didn't invite God into my life. But I have no desire to compare myself to someone else. So, I have no problem with someone being happy that the gravy they made is the best they've made so far. But if it sounds like someone might (I should stress 'might') be comparing their skill to someone else's, I'm not as comfortable.
Okay, back on topic.
Several weeks ago, our pastor described a dream she'd had. She dreamed she was walking through a park, and the sprinklers began flooding the park. They covered over the hills and paths, and flooded the whole park. Sprinklers don't put out enough water to create a flood. But they did in the dream. The sprinklers represent people who don't feel like they have much to offer. But when they do offer what they can, God can make that into a flood.
And then this week, when she brought up the story of the boy who gave up his lunch, I remembered her dream. There are enough details missing that we can't be sure of everything in this story. But it sure looks like the boy offered all the food he had brought. It doesn't mention that he had 6 loaves, and offered to share 5, or that he gave his leftovers after he ate enough himself. And he could easily have thought that what he brought was useless compared to the need, and just given a little to those around him. But he took a step of faith, and gave up his food to try to help.
And I can hardly imagine how the boy must have felt afterward. He had given what was needed to create a miracle.
I can't promise a miracle if you give, even when it seems pointless. But it's worth a try.
Oven Fried Chicken
boneless chicken breast or chicken tenders
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 stick melted butter
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups Cornflakes, crushed
Crush cornflakes and add garlic salt and pepper. Dip chicken pieces in melted butter, then roll in seasoned cornflake mixture. Place in greased baking pan in a single layer. Sprinkle any remaining butter and cornflake crumbs on top of chicken. Bake uncovered at 375 for about 1 hour, until chicken is tender. Do not turn while cooking.
Fun science experiment for kids. This needs adult supervision!
Mix together cornstarch and water -- you don't know a huge quantity and it needs to be fairly thin in consistency. Turn a speaker on it's back and cover with plastic wrap. Turn the speaker on where it is pretty loud. Play music that has a lot of bass and a good rhythm. (Depending on the size of the speaker) Place a couple spoonfuls of the cornstarch/water mixture on the speaker and watch the mixture dance. It's a good lesson on liquids becoming a solid state -- then reverting back to liquid once the speaker is turned off. You may need to play around with the consistency of the cornstarch/water mixture to get it to do it's dance. This is a lot of fun to watch!
Results will vary with the speaker, mix of water vs. cornstarch, size of the glob, and music. We had good luck with bass guitar solos, a fairly wet mix, and about one spoon-full on a 2-inch speaker.
"I will be your God throughout your lifetime -- until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you, I will carry you along and save you." Isaiah 46:4 (NLT)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon