"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!'"
July 22, 2009
A popular kids game is Hide and Seek; at least it was when I was a kid. This was always a lot more fun when played after dark. You try to think of the best hiding spot that no one else will find, and want to be as quiet as possible so no one will discover where you are. Hide and Seek is just a game, and can be a lot of fun.
But there are times when hiding is not fun and games. I've written before about hiding sins. Sooner or later they will be revealed. It's just a matter of when and how. It doesn't matter how careful an individual is, their sins cannot remain hidden forever. Something will happen to reveal them.
We've all read articles in the newspaper or heard on the news about people who tried to hide income, or hide a bribe, or some other type of action that they didn't want anyone to know about. For a while, it may seem as if they are prospering or getting away with something. But sooner or later they will be caught and have to pay the price.
Jon and I rent from his parents. The house has been on well water ever since it was built, and we recently began noticing that the water had an odor to it at times. His parents decided to put the house on city water. In preparation for the water lines being dug, I was going to prune back a couple of holly bushes. These two bushes had been planted years ago beside our driveway, in order to cover up the pipe from the well that comes out of the ground. The plumber was going to need to dig a water line from the water meter to our house, and the bush needed to be cut back. Also, he was going to need access to the pipe from the well, and the holly bushes had become overgrown and needed to be cut back so he could reach the pipe.
I went out early on Friday morning to begin the pruning. I began cutting around the bottom of the bushes. I noticed that the undersides of the leaves were covered with this white fungus looking stuff. It looked pretty bad. The leaves on the holly were really prickly, and I didn't want to go to the trouble of pruning if the bushes were diseased. So I called a man from our church, who is an arborist and owns his own business, and asked him about it. He said it was mealy bugs or mealworms -- I can never remember which one it was. He said he could spray and get rid of them, but it would probably take several treatments. I called and told Jon, then emailed my in-laws to see how they wanted me to handle this. My mother-in-law told me to do whatever needed to be done, and if they needed to be cut down, that would be fine.
I ended up calling the man from our church back, and he stopped by our house to look at the shrubs. He said it was a really severe case, and it would take several applications to get rid of them; even then, we could still eventually lose the bushes. We talked and I made the decision to have them cut down. He went and got some of his crew and brought them back to our house. They had all the right equipment and was able to cut the holly bushes down and grind all the wood in just a matter of minutes.
The gentleman told me that with the leaves having such a severe case of the mealy bugs/mealworms, that more than likely it had been going on for a few years. I've lived here for four years, and I had never checked the holly to see whether or not it was healthy. It looked fine on the tops of the leaves, which is what you see when you look at it, so I hadn't even considered the fact that something could be doing harm to the bushes. Even though the bugs/worms had been hidden for the past few years, the day did come that their damage was revealed.
It's easy to look at those who prosper and think that it's unfair; especially those who are seemingly corrupt or have used their power wrongly. At times I have heard how much Hollywood actors/actresses or sports figures are paid per movie or TV episode or per game, and I think to myself, "No one is worth that much money!" It doesn't seem fair or right. But I truly believe that most of those people have problems and troubles that I wouldn't want to have to deal with day after day. I may not be wealthy, but I have the peace of God in my heart and can sleep at night with a clear conscience. Some of those individuals have secret addictions, affairs, etc. and seem to go from thing to thing trying to fill a void in their life.
So there are hidden things that can be harmful or cause distress.
But there are some things that we can hide that are positive and good.
Psalms 119:11 says, "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You."
We can read the Word of God and hide it away in our heart, so that we can know the truth of how to live and how to please God. Not only does hiding the Word of God in our heart guard us from sinning; it also gives us peace. We can know what the promises of God are, and those promises can be brought to mind when we go through various situations.
1 Peter 3:3,4 says, "Do not let your adornment be merely outward -- arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel -- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God."
In 1 Samuel, God had sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint one of his sons to become Saul's successor as king. Samuel saw one of Jesse's sons and thought, "Surely this is the one the Lord has anointed as king."
But in 1 Samuel 16:7, "The Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'"
Keeping ourselves clean and presentable is not wrong; in fact, we'll have more friends if we do. We are not to be a stinky slob who neglects hygiene. The scripture in 1 Peter 3:3 says to not let our adornment be merely outward. In other words, don't just focus on what we wear or how we look. It doesn't say that we can't be adorned -- keep our hair fixed or cut (it's okay for me to color my hair and keep it looking nice), wear gold (I can proudly wear my gorgeous wedding ring), or have nice clothes (I can wear clothes that fit and look presentable). It's okay for us to feel good about ourselves and our appearance. But it does say that that shouldn't be our only focus.
We should take a little pride in our appearance and need to take care of ourselves; but there's a point where we can go overboard. Too many people have so much pride in how they look and what they wear, that they neglect the inner person. They spend money they don't have, in order to try and keep up with the latest styles. And they become obsessive with their weight and hair and clothes. They constantly worry what people think of them. And yes, I'm certain that this is a much bigger issue with women than it is with men (generally speaking).
Man does tend to judge a person by their appearance. But these scriptures tell us that that's not what's important to God. He looks at what's inside. His interest in us is the hidden person of the heart. 1 Peter 3:4 says that it's the beauty of a gentle and a quiet spirit which is very precious in the sight of God.
God isn't interested in play acting or in a counterfeit heart; where someone tries to appear to be something they're not. What He desires is for our hidden person, our heart, to be genuine and pure. He wants us to be real. And when God sees individuals who have a incorruptible (not susceptible to corruption, or not subject to decay) beauty, He sees a heart that has a gentle and quiet spirit. Those people are precious in His sight.
We all choose what we hide in our heart. We can make a game out of trying to hide sin and wrong-doing. But eventually it will become wearisome and will be revealed one way or another. We can try to straddle the fence; trying to appear to some people that we are doing what's right and involved in church, yet doing other activities with friends that we know are wrong. That too will one day be revealed. It's a miserable life to try and remember what you're hiding from whom.
On the other hand, we can hide the Word of God in our heart and have a peaceful life. We can focus on our inward person and strive to be someone the Lord considers precious in His sight. I desire for the hidden person of my heart to be of a quiet and gentle spirit. I don't always achieve that, and need to consistently be working towards that goal. But when God looks at my heart, I want Him to be pleased.
We all choose what's in our heart. What's hidden in yours?
I've been reading about King David. It seems like a long time that I've been reading about him. But it's a long history. God described David as a man after God's own heart.
One day, David was incredibly happy. He was bringing the Ark of the Covenant home. II Samuel 6:13 says, "And David danced before Jehovah with all his might..." Unfortunately, his first wife, Michal, saw him. She was embarrassed. She was down-right ashamed. [I can use the phrase down-right; I'm from Oklahoma.] I'm not clear what David was wearing, but if the dancing wasn't enough to embarrass Michal, how he was dressed certainly was. He was King, and should carry himself with more dignity than to shout and dance in the streets like a common shepherd.
But of course, David was a shepherd for many years before he became King.
He wasn't concerned with making people respect him. He just wanted to show his joy to God.
Michal just wanted him to keep it a secret.
Jon normally has a bowl of cereal and a glass of juice for breakfast every morning during the work week. But occasionally he gets tired of that and wants something different. I'll cook breakfast for him on weekends, but not during the week. Plus he really doesn't want a big breakfast before going to work. So here are a few simple, quick ideas we do sometimes.
Cinnamon Toast -- mix some cinnamon and sugar together. Butter the toast after it's done, then sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture on top.
Vanilla yogurt with fresh peaches diced up in it. (or any fresh fruit you might like)
Bake up a muffin mix on Sunday for breakfast, then heat the leftovers up for a few seconds in the microwave for breakfast the next morning.
I'll make some sausage balls on the weekend and put in a container in the refrigerator -- they are easy to reheat in the microwave.
Pop Tarts are pretty good, but what's really good is Toaster Pastries, found in the freezer section of the supermarket. You put them in the toaster to heat.
I am terrified of snakes; always have been and more than likely always will be. I don't like seeing them on TV. I think they're evil looking and they just give me the heebie-jeebies. I also think that I can biblically back this up -- although I may be stretching it a little. A serpent was what tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says the serpent was more cunning than any other animal, and apparently they could talk in the beginning of time. After God confronted Eve and Adam for eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve told God that the serpent had deceived her. God told the serpent, "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life." So why would I find the snake in the least bit appealing?! I think I'm justified in my opinion about snakes!
Several years ago I attended church with a couple who liked snakes with as much passion as I hated them. In fact, the husband would come to Oklahoma and go rattlesnake hunting. They had a shed where they kept their snakes in cages and would feed them. They invited me to their house to eat with them. They had bought a new doublewide mobile home and the wife took me for a tour. Then I saw it! In their living room was a large glass cage with several snakes in it. Some of them were brightly colored and poisonous. WHY would anyone want snakes in their house?! That was almost my undoing. The whole time I was there, I was paranoid that one of the snakes would somehow get out of the cage. I sat at the table with my feet held off the floor, while trying to look like I was brave and not worried. They thought the whole things was quite funny. But I was shaking on the inside the whole time I was there and was very squirmish.
I was telling another lady in the church about my experience. She thought it was funny, but only because she had been in that situation herself. She said that a few years prior, the wife of the snake hunter had had a tupperware party at her house. They were living in an older house at that time, and had been having a problem with mice. So the husband had turned a black snake loose in the house to eat the mice. All the ladies knew this, so were all trying to enjoy themselves while keeping an eye out for any snakes that might be crawling around the house. They had been assured that the snake had been put away for the evening, but were still nervous. There were about 4 or 5 women all sitting on a couch. The hostess had a small dog and during the party the dog ran underneath the couch from one end to the other. You could just feel something moving underneath the cushions. She said it was like they were jumping up to do the wave. The first lady on the end jumped up when she felt something moving under where she was sitting -- on down the line until they had all jumped up and yelped. They were all kind of embarrassed when they found out that it had been the little dog and not a snake; but also greatly relieved!
When you dig a hole and try to fill it back in, why do you always end up with more dirt than you started out with?!
We hope you all are having an enjoyable summer.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon