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

February 22, 2012

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Here is a story I heard about someone's parents, who were getting older. The son lived close by and was constantly doing things for them. The father was in bad health and had Alzheimer's. There were times when the dad would get up during the night and fall, and the mom would call the son to come help because she was unable to get him up off the floor by herself. The son worked full-time, but would readily get up and get dressed to go help his dad back to bed. Not only that, he would do repairs and maintenance around the house when needed. He would also take his dad places from time to time. For instance, he and another friend took his dad to a minor league baseball game when his mind was starting to get bad, and he had the time of his life. He was grinning from ear to ear, ate hot dogs and had mustard down the front of his shirt, and thought they were at a major league game.

On the other hand, one of the other siblings lived out of state so only came a few times a year for a visit. Occasionally, she and her husband would do a project on the house while there. But they weren't there often, so weren't present for the day to day responsibilities.

But here was the parents response: When the ones who lived away came to visit, they would make a big deal about anything they did to help out. They would tell everyone and really brag about it. On the other hand, they would often complain about the son who lived close by and helped them on a consistent basis. If he didn't come immediately to do something they wanted done on the house, they would gripe about him to people and talk as if he never helped them. And when he did do something for them, it was as if they expected it of him and weren't very appreciative. Or they'd ask why it took so long or tell him how he should have done it differently. They never bragged about what he did for them and made a big to-do over it.

I've seen similar scenarios play out over and over again. Perhaps there are family members that are always present at all family gatherings. They are there for every get-together, wedding, funeral, dinner, etc. and you can count on them consistently attending all activities, if possible. But there may be one member that is hit and miss at all these family events. Perhaps it's because they live further away, or have busier jobs, or have children involved in various activities; but overall they only attend a few of these functions. When they're not there, everyone is asking where they're at and if they'll be attending, and commenting that they would like to see them and wish they were there. And when they do attend, a big fuss is made over them and everyone is excited to see them and they garner a lot of attention. Sometimes it can cause those who are always present to feel as if they really don't matter, and that everyone would rather see the missing person/family than them; especially when it's an event with family that you don't see often themselves.

Most times when grown children live away, parents will try to make their visits special. The parents will cook their kids/grandkids favorite foods, take them out to eat, do a special activity with them and try to make their visit a very momentous occasion. And although the other siblings, who live close by, understand; sometimes it's easy to think, "They never take me out to eat!" or "They never take me anywhere or do any special activity with me!" or "They never cook my favorite dinner!"

When we have someone with us on a regular basis, we tend to expect them to always be there when we call or want to get together. And although we love them the same as we do the ones we don't see as often, we may be inclined to outwardly show more excitement and enthusiasm for the visits of those we don't often get to spend time with. We put more planning and thought into the visits of those we don't see as frequently. And sometimes we show more affection for them, without necessarily meaning to.

In Matthew 26:6-13 we read this story: "While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on His head as He was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. 'Why this waste?' they asked. 'This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.' Aware of this, Jesus said to them, 'Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to Me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me. When she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.'"

The disciples were only looking at the immediate need around them. They saw the very expensive perfume in the alabaster jar, and knew that it could be sold for a high price. They began calculating how many poor that amount of money could help. And that's not a bad thing! Giving money to help the poor in their time of need is necessary and a good thing to do. But they were angry and annoyed that the woman had wasted this expensive gift on Jesus. I believe it was their negative attitude that got the attention of Jesus. He asked why they were bothering this women; after all it really wasn't any of their business how she chose to use her expensive perfume. Jesus told the men that her pouring the perfume on His head was a beautiful thing, and she did it to prepare Him for burial. She did this to show her love and devotion to Jesus. Jesus reminded the disciples that they would not always have Him with them. In fact the verses following this story are the account of Judas Iscariot going to the chief priests and asking, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him (Jesus) to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. The scriptures then go right into the account of the last supper.

Jesus knew this woman's act of anointing Him with the expensive perfume would be the last thing she would ever do for Him before His crucifixion; and that she did it to prepare Him for His death and burial. He made this statement to His disciples, "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me." Jesus knew that shortly following His death and resurrection that His time on earth would be completed and He would be ascending back to Heaven. He would no longer be with them, but the poor and their needs would still be present for them to help.

Even though Jesus had told the disciples what lay ahead for Him, I'm not sure they really understood. Perhaps they thought He would be with them, ministering along beside them for at least 20-30 years, instead of the three short years they had together. After all, they had so much to learn from Jesus and must have felt that they needed Him with them. Perhaps if they had known what was coming up in the next few days they would have went out and bought their own perfume with which to anoint Jesus. And could it possibly be that they felt guilty that this woman did something to show her love for Jesus, while they themselves had done nothing, so they judged her actions out of their remorse? They may have felt that she would make them look bad in front of Jesus.

We often judge and speak out of our feelings of guilt or remorse. We see someone do something that we should have done ourselves, so we condemn their actions. We try to make them look bad so that we don't look quite so thoughtless, and we want to ease our conscience.

Instead of focusing on the act of love the woman showed Jesus, the disciples focused on how much the perfume had cost and how they could have put that money to better use. I'm not sure if they fully comprehended what Jesus was saying when He told them that she was doing it to prepare Him for burial, or if their understanding perhaps came a few days later as they looked back in retrospect.

Many times we don't fully appreciate someone for what they've meant to our life or what they've done for us, until they are either gone or we mature a little or something happens to open our understanding. Thirty-one years ago today, Mama went to be with Jesus. At age fifteen, I know that I didn't fully understand the significance of what it would mean to mature into an adult without the influence and wisdom of my mom. I knew that I loved her and needed her and would miss her, but it has only been as situations arose where I felt the need for the guidance of a mother that I realized how much I missed by not having her in my life. As a kid, I never dreamed that I would lose my Mama when I was in my teens.

When Jesus told the disciples that they would always have the poor with them, but He wouldn't always be with them, He was not invalidating the needs of the poor or saying that they were unimportant. But He was making a point that He was going to soon be gone from their lives, but they would still have those in need to minister to and help. Perhaps He desired that for a few moments of time they stop thinking about everything but Him. Jesus knew that those last precious moments were important and I think He perhaps would have liked those whom He had ministered with, stop what they were doing and forget about everything else for a little while.

I think perhaps that is what Jesus wants from us today; stop what is keeping us so busy and sidetracked, and just focus on Him. When we set aside a time of prayer, to not think, "I should have put a load of laundry in to wash first," or "I need to run to Walmart and get groceries as soon as I finish praying," or "I need to get this done at work today," etc. What we are saying by our attitude is basically the same as what the disciples were thinking when they thought the woman was being wasteful; "I have a better use of my time, than giving it to Jesus."

I got the call that Daddy had passed away during the night. Early the next morning, my sister rode with me and Jon to Arkansas. We arrived at my dad and stepmother's home and when I went inside I saw my stepbrother sitting on the bed in one of the bedrooms. Joey was not yet born when his dad died, and was thirteen when Daddy and June married, so my dad was the only dad that Joey knew. I was talking to him and he was teary eyed and said, "I wish I had of done more to help Doyal out. I should have come out more and did more to help and make things easier for him." I could tell that he was feeling bad and thought perhaps if he had helped with some of the work around the farm and helped take care of his mom and helped with some of the responsibilities, then perhaps Daddy wouldn't have had a sudden heart-attack and died. He went to say that he wished he had spend more time with Daddy and done more for him. I stopped him and assured him that he had done a lot to help Daddy out. In fact, Daddy was often telling me things that Joey had done for them. But my dad was not one to show his emotions or express gratitude in a big way. I'm sure that instead of expressing his thanks to Joey, Daddy would call and tell me or one of the other girls what he had done. He appreciated it but didn't say the words to the right person. He would brag on Joey to us, but never bragged on Joey to his face. I know this, because Daddy did the same with us girls.

Do we have trouble telling others thanks and expressing our appreciation for having them in our lives or for things they do for us; do we assume they know? It is good to not only express our feelings, but for those who we are appreciative towards to hear it. Not only that; we need to express our thanks and praise to God. It's not enough to think, "God knows I'm thankful and can see my heart." He desires to hear us say the words and thank Him for His many blessings and tell Him how much we love Him.

Even though the parents in the first example I used very likely weren't thinking this, by complaining about the many acts of love their son showed them, they were insinuating that what he was doing wasn't good enough. They expected more and wanted him to instantaneous be at their beck and call and do any work they needed done, when they wanted it done. Yet by making a big fuss and to-do over the few acts of kindnesses their daughter did, their attitude said that what she did was more important to them and meant more. It made the son feel that no matter what he did, it was never good enough and not fully appreciated.

We have that same attitude towards God at times. No matter how much He blesses us or how many prayers He answers, we always find something He didn't do or should have done differently. Instead of being grateful for what God does for us, we always want something more or different. We are never satisfied.

May we learn to be thankful for those people that God places in our lives on a consistent basis, as well as those we may not get to spend as much time with. But more importantly, may we focus on Jesus and stop making those unanswered prayers or things we want and don't have, our priority. Jesus will always be enough in our lives, if we will allow Him to be.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I was looking for the verse, "Give thanks to the Lord. Again, I say rejoice", or something like that. It was Philippians 4:4, which I remembered wrong. But the first couple verses I found with "give thanks", both said about the same thing.

2 Samuel 22:50 says, "Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name." 1 Chronicles 16:8 says, "Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon his names; Make known His deeds among the peoples!" It struck me right away that both verses don't just say to give thanks to God. They also say to tell others.

God has blessed me in so many ways, I couldn't describe them all. He has also blessed me and Loretta together. When I needed a job, He provided. When Loretta and I were each lonely and needed a mate, He provided (we sometimes complain about his slow timing, but He provided). When I needed another job, He provided abundantly. When we've hurt, He comforted us. When we had reason to be scared, He gave us peace.

For all these things, we give Him thanks. We also give Him thanks for His grace. And for the love He shows us constantly.

ON THE MENEWE:

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken

6 boneless chicken breast, defrosted

24-ounce jar salsa

Juice from one lime

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 package taco seasoning

2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional)

In a slow cooker mix together the jar of salsa, lime juice, cilantro, taco seasoning and jalapenos (I didn't use jalapenos when I made this). Add the chicken and coat with the salsa mixture. Allow the chicken to cook, covered, in the slow cooker on Low setting for 6 hours. If you want to use the high setting, cooking time will be closer to 4 hours. Serve the chicken with salsa mixture spooned over top, or shred and use as a taco filling. I used 2 forks to shred the chicken (it was very tender after cooking for the 6 hours), and used it as taco filling and it was delicious. I served it to company and it was a huge hit. I had shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream as toppings with the chicken and let everyone fix to their own taste, served in a soft tortilla. Yummy!!

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

I don't particularly like winter and snow, but do enjoy sledding, which I don't get to do much anymore. There are two times that stand out in my mind that were the most fun I've ever had sledding.

The first was when I was probably 12 years old. My sisters and I and my two brothers-in-law (the only ones I had at that time) spent the afternoon sledding down the old dirt road that goes down into the holler at our family home in Missouri. The road went downhill (which is pretty steep), then there was a big flat spot at the bottom where we could safely stop. We didn't have any real sleds so used an old car seat turned upside down and inter-tubes from car tires. Two or three of us would all sit in the car seat together and sled. We went down that hill over and over and over again. The hard part was pulling the seat or inter-tubes back uphill.

Then one year (I think it was Thanksgiving) we had got a big snow. This was probably 12 years ago or so during my single days. Three of my sisters and I went over to Daddy and June's for the day. My brother-in-law had a 4-wheeler and used ropes or bungie cords or something along those lines to tie a sled and couple car inter-tubes to the back of it. There was a big flat hay field below my dad's chicken house (they raised chickens for Tyson), and we took turns being pulled around that field. When he went around a corner it was hard to stay right side up on the sled. We laughed a lot and had so much fun! One of my sisters finally decided to take a turn sledding and laid down on her belly on the sled. My nephew was driving the 4-wheeler at that time and gave her the ride of her life! She had snow caked in her hair and eyebrows -- and never got back on again. But it was funny for the rest of us to watch!!

Jon and I have never gotten to go sledding together. Maybe one day we will.....

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

One kind word or deed can turn someone's life around. What other investment costs so little and pays so much?

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org