"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!'"
May 30, 2012
A while back I was at the drive through window at Chick-Fil-A and the guy working there handed back my change and commented, "I just had this thought; all money is made out of the same type of paper, but people attach a different value to it according to the number printed on it."
As I drove away I was thinking about what he had said when it dawned on me that we often apply that same principle to people. We are all flesh and blood, make out of the same "materials", but we tend to attach a different value to people according to their status, finances, background, title, etc. Do we honestly treat someone who is president of a prestigious company the same as we would a bum on the street? Do we see someone who is a high school dropout in the same light as we do someone who has graduated college? It's easy to group individuals into categories, according to how we view them.
The fact is, some individuals may merit more respect than others due to their position or generosity or honorable lifestyle, etc. But there is a difference between respecting someone and the value we place on them as a person.
I had jury duty a couple days last week. The trial was for a young man, probably in his twenties, who had at least three prior felony charges against him. He was in an area in the city that is known for criminal activity, drugs and prostitution and was caught carrying a loaded weapon in his pocket, which is against the law for a felon to do.
The case was the US Government bringing charges against him for carrying a loaded gun when he had a felony record. The reason it was in court was because he had nothing to lose by having a jury trial, so decided to plead not guilty on the off chance that the jury would find a verdict on his behalf, which would lessen his sentence. He really had no defense, and it was pretty much an open and shut case, with a guilty verdict. With some of his other charges, he's looking at a sentence of a minimum of 15 years.
We didn't know a lot of his background until after the trial, when the judge met with us and answered questions and gave more details that could not be given to us beforehand, so that we wouldn't be influenced in our verdict decision. It's easy to look at someone who is that young and has a lengthy record and think that they are worthless. Knowing the area in which he was arrested, the potential was to think that was likely the neighborhood where he was brought up and that he must have had a rough upbringing. Afterwards, one of the things the judge shared with the jury was that it was really sad that this young man had made the choices that he had, and is now looking of a minimum of 15 years in prison. His step-father is one of the biggest attorneys, in a particular field, in Tulsa County. He suspected that the step-father had possibly made sure his step-son had a lawyer to represent him. I saw a well-dressed man sitting in the back of the courtroom during part of the trial and afterward wondered if possibly it was the step-father; but I have no way of knowing.
I don't know his background and whose home he was raised in, but there's a likelihood that he could have pursued any career that he wanted and his step-father would have footed the bill for college. I'm sure he would have rathered to have done that, instead of spending money on lawyers and bail for his stepson. Yet this young man chose the wrong path and will pay for it by spending the next several years in prison. After the trial ended, I said a quick prayer for him that God would place a positive influence in his life while in prison, whether it be a chaplain or fellow-prisoner, and that someway, somehow his life will be changed for the good.
I've been guilty at times to see individuals, such as the young man at the trial, and write them off as being hopeless and of no account. But does God de-value them because they sin and mess up? Do they suddenly become worthless to Him because they've made destructive choices and done evil deeds? Absolutely not!
Paul wrote more books in the New Testament than any other writer. Yet before his conversion, he was a wicked man who killed christians. Paul was a murderer. I have no idea how many christians he killed himself or ordered their deaths, but I'm sure it was numerous. The believers feared him because of his threats and reputation of doing evil. Yet God radically changed Paul's life. He struck Paul blind and spoke to him. It was a life-changing experience for Paul. He fully surrendered his life to God, his sight was restored, and he no longer persecuted the believers. He spent the rest of his life preaching and telling others about God. Paul was imprisoned several times, yet he didn't waste that time fretting and feeling sorry for himself, but spent that time writing letters of encouragement to various churches. An individual that Satan intended to use for evil against the church to destroy it, God radically saved and used for His glory to touch the lives of millions of people, through Paul's many letters to the churches that was put in the Bible to encourage and benefit mankind thousands of years later.
The one person that we may see as having little value and being worthless may be that one individual that God will radically change to become one of His greatest vessels.
We know someone with a 100 trillion dollar bill. And no, it's not a joke; it's a very real bill. It is a foreign currency. A few years ago, it was worth about $300. But today, it's probably only worth a few dollars. The bills were supposed to be recalled and swapped out for new bills without the useless zeros. A few decades ago, a bill like that would have been worth a fortune. Now, it's nothing more than a souvenir.
A beautiful violin might look very valuable till you find out it's only a few years old. Another may look plain and simple, till you find out it's 200 years old, and it has an incredible tone. Beautiful instruments, woodwork, and furniture just seem to gain value over time.
People change, too. It's interesting that Paul was originally named Saul. Paul persecuted Christians, but followed God to his death. Saul, the first king of Israel, followed God in his younger years, but after he became king, he persecuted David (the next king, and sometimes considered Israels greatest king).
Summer Pineapple Strawberry Cooler
1 (12 ounce) can frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed
1 (6 ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
4 cups cold water
1 liter club soda, chilled
Fresh strawberries (optional)
In a large pitcher combine pineapple juice concentrate, limeade concentrate, and water. Chill for at least 30 minutes. To serve, transfer fruit juice mixture to a large pitcher; add club soda, ice cubes and fresh strawberries.
Optional: On short 6-inch wooden skewers, thread assorted fruits (such as halved orange slices, raspberries, strawberries, sliced kiwi) and mint sprigs.
You can prepare the juice mixture up to 24 hours ahead and chill, then when ready to serve add the club soda, ice cubes and fresh strawberries.
I'm not sure what it is about little kids picking their nose -- and often eating their find -- but many seem to go through a stage where they do that.
A few nights ago my niece was laying beside her 3-year old son while he fell asleep. She thought he had fallen asleep when he leaned over and whispered, "I have a booger!"
Another nephew and his wife have been trying to break their daughter from picking her nose and eating boogers. A while back the mom saw her picking her nose and eating a booger and told her to stop and that it was disgusting. The daughter's response was, "Well mom, that's just how God made me!"
Don't use prayer as an excuse to procrastinate.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon