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

March 29, 2017

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Many times when my sister, Janie, and I compliment her son, Devin, he will agree with us instead of saying thanks.

"Devin, you look really nice!" "Yeah." "Devin, you are so smart. Good job!" "Yeah." "Devin, you are a hard worker!" "Yeah." "You're so tall and handsome!" "Yeah."

We laugh, but generally always tell him that he should respond by saying, "Thank you," not "Yeah".

I do understand that parents don't want their kids to be arrogant or smart-alecks, but more times than not, the child is taught from a young age to never say anything good about themselves because that may sound prideful or as if they are better than others or think highly of themselves. Then that attitude carries over into their spiritual life. Truthfully, instead of instilling confidence and helping children and youth recognize their strengths and see themselves as God created them, it causes them to feel self-conscious or as if they are somehow lacking when compared to others. That attitude carries over to adulthood.

When looking in the mirror what do most of us focus on? Our faults or things that we would like to change. "I don't like my hair.... or my big belly.... or the wrinkles around my eyes... or the hair that has started growing out of my ears... or my ugly toes..." We seldom focus on what we like. "I have pretty eyes... I really like how my hair looks today... my skin looks healthy... I like my smile... this color looks really nice on me..." After all, that would sound prideful, wouldn't it?! Why is it okay to put ourselves down, but not build ourselves up?

In Psalm 139:13-18 (NLT) David is writing and says, "You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous -- how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every day was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!"

How can we truly have a deep understanding of who we are in Christ, if we never really recognize and understand that He made us very wonderfully complex? If we are always finding fault with ourselves or our appearance, how can we truly believe that His workmanship in creating us is marvelous? If we're constantly putting ourselves down, how we can accept and truly know that He made us exactly as He wanted us to be?

God has made us much more complex than what we see when we look in the mirror. From the very second that we were conceived in our mother's womb, God had His finger upon us. He made all of the delicate parts of my body and your body. He knit us together when we were in our Mama's womb. He watched as we were being woven together in the darkness of our mother's womb. Every single intricate detail, inside and out, were hand-knit by God. That's mind-boggling when you really think about it!

In addition to God knitting us together, He also began writing our life story before we were even born. Every day of our life was recorded in God's book.... every day was laid out before a single day of our life had even passed. God wrote our life story before we were birthed into this world. That's amazing!

If that's not enough, the thoughts that God has toward us are precious and cannot even be numbered. Not God's thoughts toward mankind in general, but God's thoughts personally toward me and toward you! His thoughts toward each of us outnumber the grains of sand.

Jon and I have been reading nightly devotionals together in the evenings. We were reading from John 17 recently and a line from a prayer that Jesus was praying to His Father really stood out to me. In verse 23 Jesus says, "I am in them and You [God] are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent me and that You love them as much as you love me."

That's mind-blowing! Jesus' prayer was that the world would know that God loves His followers as much as He loves Jesus Himself!! God loves us as much as He does His very own beloved Son?! That is hard to comprehend.

Most times our words portray that we feel as if God's workmanship in creating us is pretty shoddy. We spend our lives in constant complaint on how we wish we were different or prettier or more handsome or skinnier or had been given different talents and gifts. We find fault not only with ourselves, but with others, intent on changing them into what we think they should be like. Few of us are confident, self-assured, comfortable with ourselves, and walk through life boldly, with our head held high, knowing exactly who God created us to be; inside and out.

I don't think that David was being arrogant and conceited when he was writing this particular Psalm. He says, "Your workmanship is marvelous -- how well I know it!" I believe that he understood the Creator and how amazing God is. I also believe that David had an understanding of who he was in Christ. He understood that God had knit him together and was involved in every tiny detail of forming him from the moment he was conceived in the womb. But I also believe that he was confident in who he was. He recognized the gifts and abilities that God had placed within him, and he was walking and living that life out.

Jon and I were talking about this recently, after discussing these scriptures in Bible study. I told him that many of us fail to vocally name our God-given abilities, because we are so afraid that others will think we're arrogant. We rarely put a name to the gifts that God has given to us, because we're so worried that people will think we're full of ourselves. Therefore, we seldom fully utilize our God-given talents. Or, when we do say something good about ourselves or our abilities, we feel that we have to add an apology or explanation.

I'm going to be honest: God has gifted me with cooking abilities, musical talent, bookkeeping and accounting expertise, babysitting abilities with a great love between myself and my great-nephews and great-nieces, and the personality to love and support my family. God has made me so much deeper than what I look like on the outside. Therefore, I shouldn't stymie those talents and abilities because of my weight and what I consider outward imperfections. What I look like on the outside is only a tiny bit of what makes up me. God made me much more complex than that.

Many times I will preface something I say positive about myself with comments such as, "I'm not trying to sound boastful, but..." or "I know that there are others who could do this better than me, but...." or "Don't misunderstand what I'm about to say, but...." It's as if I feel the need to apologize for who and what I am, instead of boldly proclaiming who I am because of what God has gifted me with. We have no need to apologize or downplay our gifts and talents that God gave to each of us!

We do it jokingly, but Jon has teased my sister, Janie, and myself regarding our cooking. The two of us will often say, regarding something we have cooked, "This is really good, if I do say so myself!" Jon has told us that he doesn't need to brag on our cooking, because we brag on ourselves. The truth is, we're really not being big-headed or boastful, but are confident in our skills and really like how something we cooked turned out.

How can we truly act as sons and daughters of God, which is what He calls us, if we see ourselves as flawed and insignificant with the need to be apologetic for openly using and talking about the gifts that God gave us? I wonder if perhaps we don't fully live the story of our lives that God wrote for each of us, because we fail to intimately know our Creator. We are taught as children to not speak to others of our successes; but are taught to be "humble" - as in to never focus on our strong points or speak about ourself with self-assurance. I think perhaps we have a twisted concept of what humility really is. Humility is not focusing on our faults and shortcomings, or refusing to acknowledge our strong points, or putting ourselves down, or belittling ourselves (vocally or in our own mind). Real humility is to not flaunt our successes over someone else and making them feel as if they've failed. False humility is when we act as if we are not skilled and can't do things that we really can do; or trying to "hide" our skills. God never told us to hide our talents or abilities, or act as if we have none.

David was confident in his ability to play his harp before King Saul, be a great warrior, to lead a nation as their king, to face giants, to kill bears and lions with his own hands, and all the numerous other great feats he accomplished. He was the godly man and respected leader that he was, due to his self-confidence. He also acknowledged that God was the one who created and gifted him. He failed and made great mistakes and sinned, yet David was called a man after God's own heart.

Being godly and people after God's own heart doesn't mean perfection, but it means following the story that God has written for us. It means that when we sin and fall down, we repent and get back up again; moving forward with confidence and assurance, not becoming stagnant while filled with guilt and condemnation.

David sounds a bit boastful when he was convincing King Saul that he could face Goliath and kill him. "I can kill a bear and a lion when they try to kill one of my father's sheep, and I can do the same to this Philistine!" He knew who he was and what he was capable of doing, and he wasn't afraid to speak of it when the circumstances demanded it. Goliath came towards him sneering and cursing and making fun of him for thinking he had the ability to kill him! But David knew that it was God who had given him his abilities and boldly ran toward Goliath while saying, "I come in the name of the Lord!" God gave David his abilities, but it was up to David to use them in confidence.

It's the same with us! God has knit us together from the moment of our conception and written each day of our life story during the nine months that we were in the womb. Are we living out the story that He wrote for us, or are we trying to write our own story because we fail to fully become all that God created us to be? I want His story to come to fulfillment in my life and to live each day as He has it written!!

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

We had a discussion about Psalm 139:14. It was getting misquoted as saying we are "perfectly made" by God. Actually, it says, "fearfully and wonderfully made", or "wonderfully complex", or a few variations on those, depending on the translation.

We could argue, though, that since we are made in God's image, we must have been made perfect. We might find what we count as flaws in our own birth, or someone else's. If someone is born deaf, or born with Down Syndrome, we may call them imperfectly created. But I would argue that's just our perspective. From God's vantage point, they perfectly fit His plan, so they are created perfect.

We might move into a perfect house, and either respect and care for it, or trash it out until it is condemned. Likewise, we can take what God created perfect (for His plan), and care for it or destroy it. And much like a house, once you abuse it, it takes much more work to restore.

But because of Jesus's sacrifice, we can be restored to perfect. He may not remove our scars, unless that is needed for us to fit back into His perfect plan. But our sin can be removed completely. And that is always part of His perfect plan.

Hebrews 10:14 says, "For by a single offering, He has perfected for all times those who are being sanctified." And Titus 3:7 mentions "we have been justified by His grace".

ON THE MENEWE:

Crab/Shrimp Boil

1 Zatarain's Crab Boil Seasoning Packet

Small new potatoes

Kielbasas Sausages, cut into 1-inch pieces

Fresh corn, husk and silks removed

Fresh crab legs

Fresh shrimp

**Amounts depend on how much you want to make.

Heat a large pot of water. (I have an 8 quart and it's not big enough to make all in one batch for 4 people, so you need either a much bigger pot or make in batches.) Add seasoning packet and bring to a boil. Add potatoes (can leave whole if using the small new potatoes) and sausage, which has been cut into 1-inch pieces; cook for 10 minutes. Add the corn (I break the ears into half) and crab; cook for another 5 minutes. Add the raw shrimp (I use the peeled and deveined) to the other ingredients in the pot and cook for 5 minutes, or until all ingredients are done.

Drain off all the water and pour the contents out onto a (picnic) table covered with newspaper. Grab a paper plate and enjoy!

*You can also cut a couple lemons into quarters and throw into the cooking pot, if you want. This helps cut back on the "fishy" flavor a little and just adds a little more flavor.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

Jovie Stories:

A while back Jovie put a sopping wet towel on top of her mama's head and said, "Surprise!" She wouldn't say how she got it wet. Her mama was afraid to ask; but suspected it may have gotten wet in the toilet water!

Jovie and her brother, Jax, were riding in the car with me and Jovie wanted us to sing. We were singing different songs, then she sang a song that she made up as she went along. Then she said, "You sing it now, Retta!" I told her that I didn't know that song. Jovie said, "Yes you do! I just sang it to you!!"

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Resentment is like taking poison hoping the other person dies. - St Augustine

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org