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

December 5, 2012

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

I would like to share a story I recently read:

"One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people can be. They spent a couple days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from the trip, the father asked his son, 'How was the trip?' 'It was great, Dad.'

'Did you see how poor people can be?' the father asked. 'Oh yeah,' said the son. 'So what did you learn from the trip?' asked the father.

The son answered, 'I saw that we have one dog and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond sight. We have servants who serve us, and they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us and they have friends to protect them.'

With this, the boy's father was speechless. Then his son added, 'Thanks, Dad, for showing me how poor we were.'"

The response of the son, to the lesson the father was trying to teach, was completely opposite of what he was expecting. He likely was trying to show his son how impoverished some were, thinking that it would give the son a greater appreciation of what he had been given. Instead, the son saw himself and his family as the ones who were poor. Although they had spent a couple days with a family that the father considered as being destitute, the son didn't see their great need, but instead saw their great blessings.

My sister and I have often discussed the fact that when we were growing up we never felt that we were lacking in any way. Yet looking back, we see that we truly were poor. During my mom's battle with cancer, there were many times when we did without many things; especially the last few months of her life. There were times when the cupboard was bare and we ate many meals of pinto beans. Our clothes were mostly homemade when we were growing up, and most of our food came from meat we had butchered and garden produce and fruit that Mama had canned. There was a short period of time when we were on food stamps to get us through a very difficult time. We got commodities from the county, which was a box of free food. At times when my sisters and I wanted to go somewhere and didn't have gas money, we would search for pop bottles and go sell them. There were a lot of really tough financial times our family endured.

Yet we never felt that we were poor or lacking in any way. Our home was always full of love and laughter. We were rich in having a close-knit family, that included lots of uncles, aunts, and cousins. Daddy and Mama never dwelt on or talked about those things that we had to do without or the lack of money, but always made us feel protected and cared for. Our fun included sleeping on back of the truck bed in summer out under the stars; riding on back of the truck; visiting family; sitting around the living room visiting and reading; catching lightning bugs and June bugs in the summer; taking walks in the woods and going on Sunday afternoon drives; swimming in the creek; gathering around the piano and singing (and arguing over who got to play the piano), etc.

I have been told by cousins and friends, who were much better off financially than we were and had a whole lot more and better homes, that they used to love coming to our house and spending the night. It didn't matter that there might be 3-4 in a bed or that we may have had to sleep on pallets on the hardwood floor. I've asked a couple of them why, and their responses were along the lines that our family was always so happy and our home was a peaceful and fun place to be. They saw us, not as being destitute, but as being blessed.

In Matthew chapter five, Jesus begins teaching what is often called the beatitudes. The very first one He says is, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

This isn't speaking of the financially poor or those who are destitute or living in need. But it's speaking of those who have a spirit of humbleness. That doesn't mean that they allow others to walk all over them or take advantage of them; it means that they put others before themselves and conduct themselves in a manner that is pleasing to God. It means that they admit their need for God and submit themselves to His authority and will. They walk in obedience to the things that God asks of them, admitting that they need His help and that He knows what is best for them.

When we think we know it all and don't have a need for God in our lives, pride is at work within us and we are dependent on ourselves and our own wisdom and intelligence. We act as if we think we know better than God and that we are smarter than He is and know best. We may become well educated, or build a career as we excel and receive promotions, or amass financial security and material possessions; but we are poor in the things in life that are most important. For if we are focused on this life and garnering success to the point that we neglect our spiritual condition, then all we will ever have is just what we see here and now. But should we submit ourselves to God and choose to obey Him, then we will have the kingdom of heaven and eternal benefits. We will be rich in things that we never dreamed of or imagined.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

One of my aunts and uncles that I always thought of as the poorest also had the biggest, most beautiful piece of land for their home. I always loved going there. Their kids, my cousins, were quite a bit younger than me, and I didn't feel like I had much in common with them. But I loved their huge yard. It had a big hill, forest, some rocky areas, and a little forested box canyon.

We went there most Easters that I remember for years. I remember one in particular, when I saw a tiny bunny. I chased it down, and caught it. I showed it off, and walked around for about half an hour with the poor, scared little bunny in my shirt pocket. Finally, I took it back where I first saw it, and let it go.

I thought I was so cool because I had caught my own special Easter Bunny. Then I found out my brother had caught one several years before, and my dad caught one for my sister before that. I don't know the word for how I felt about them having their Easter Bunnies, but it was similar to jealousy. I didn't feel so special.

I think one of my cousins who lived there was always a little jealous that we had such a nice house. I was always a little jealous that they had such a nice yard. It seems like there is always something we can find to be jealous about, if we try.

ON THE MENEWE:

Sleepin' In Breakfast Casserole

(I recently made this for a brunch and everyone really liked it. It is easy to make and you put it all together the night before so the next morning all you have to do is put it in the oven and bake.)

6 whole onion rolls

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

8 ounces cream cheese

1 to 1 1/2 stick butter

10 eggs (yes 10!)

2 cups milk

1 tsp. Chopped Chives (optional)

1/2 tsp. Dry Mustard

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 dash Cayenne Pepper

1 lb. Bacon or Sausage, cooked and crumbled

Generously butter a 9x13 baking dish. You will layer this casserole: Tear onion rolls (you can find in the bakery section of supermarkets) into chunks and place them in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese (I tend to use more cheese because I like things cheesy!); then tear the cream cheese into small pieces and place over the top. Cut the butter into pats and place over the top. Brown the bacon or sausage and crumble over the top. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over the top of the dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, bake at 325, covered, for 45 minutes. Then remove foil and continue baking at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

When I was a little girl we would attend revivals at neighboring churches. There was an evangelist, Earl Blansit, who would sometimes preach revivals at one of the local churches in Lampe. I don't remember any of his sermons or anything about his preaching, but I do remember his wife would occasionally sing. There is a line from one of her songs that I have remembered all these years: "Good morning, Jesus! It's so good to be free!" Ever since I first heard her sing that song there have been many mornings that the first thought I have when I wake up is, "Good morning, Jesus! It's so good to be free!" And I even remember the tune to that one line. I wish I could say that was how I woke up each morning, but too often I have too many other things on my mind and wake up thinking about what I'm going to do that day, or thinking about a dream I had the night before, or thinking about my aches and pains. I am going to pray that Jesus will begin being my last thought of each day and my first thought of each morning. I believe it will change my focus and priorities. I challenge you to join me and see how it affects your life! Not necessarily thinking these same words, but rather making Jesus your first and last thought of the day.

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Who or what can separate us from God's love?

If God is for us, then who can be against us?

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org