"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 3, 2013
Have a safe and fun July 4th!!
I have learned much the past nine months that we've had our puppy; and hopefully, Sammie has learned a bit, too! It has been interesting watching the transition of Sammie growing from a small puppy, who was totally dependent upon us, into a more mature dog.
One such change is that when we first got him and took him outside, he wanted us right beside him all the time. He wouldn't walk out into the yard and explore or play or go potty unless we stayed within a couple feet of him. At first, if we tried standing on the porch, he would sit right beside us and not leave our side.
Gradually over time, Sammie has gained more confidence and will now go out into the yard by himself. Granted, he still won't go outside by himself and wants either Jon or me to go with him, but we can sit on the porch swing and he will run out into the yard by himself. He keeps an eye on us and makes sure that we don't leave and go back indoors without him, but he will run and explore and chew on sticks, without us being right beside him.
Here lately, I have tried letting him out, while standing inside the house and watching him through the glass storm door. This way he can still see me, but I don't have to stand outside in the heat. Sometimes this works, and sometimes not. He will sometimes actually go out into the yard with me standing inside, but he watches to make sure I stay there so he can see me. If I step away from the door, he will run back to the porch and sit on the step right in front of the door.
The past few weeks, Sammie has also stopped following me from room to room every single time. I can sometimes leave the living room and he won't jump down and immediately follow me. He also doesn't always sit or lay where he can see us. He has started laying behind the love seat, or behind a recliner, or beside the couch underneath our desk chair. And this past week he has stopped sleeping with us every night. He wants to lay in bed with us while we read or play games on our iPad before going to sleep, but as soon as we turn the light off, he will jump down and go lay on the love seat; not every night, but more times than not.
Sammie has gone from being a tiny little puppy who was completely dependent on us, to becoming somewhat independent.
Sometimes when I'm going to be gone for a couple hours, I will no longer block off the living room so that Sammie is confined to the kitchen and dining room. He has shown that I can trust him not to make messes or chew up anything, so has earned himself more freedom. He prefers being in the living room, so I have given him the privilege of being able to stay there when I'm gone, because he has proved himself mature enough to do so. I can leave him without worrying about what kind of mess I might come home to. When we first brought Sammie home and we had to leave the house, we would leave him closed in the small bathroom downstairs; then he graduated to being left in the dining room and kitchen; to now sometimes being allowed to stay in the living room.
Sorry for using a puppy as my example instead of a child, but Sammie is what we have instead of kids!
When we first receive Jesus into our heart, we are sometimes like a very dependent baby. We look to others, whom we respect and trust, to hold our hand and give us guidance and advise us on what we should or shouldn't do. We want to receive as much biblical teaching as we can, so that we can learn. We will read our Bible and study so that we know what it says and can spiritually grow. We will often make mistakes, because we haven't yet been taught, so will fail or fall down or mess up out of our spiritual ignorance.
And that is what we're supposed to do. 1 Peter 2:2 says, "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation." We all start out our christian walk much as a newborn baby.
But there comes a point when we need to grow up in our salvation, and not remain spiritual babies. Instead of always relying on the knowledge or help of others, we can pray and study and hear from God ourselves, as our faith increases and matures. Not that we should stop listening to sermons, or participating in Bible Study groups, or learning from others. But there must come a point when we stop being the babies, and start being the ones who are growing and maturing in our faith. Then the day should come when we become the teachers and examples, as we begin helping others who are newborns in their relationship with Christ.
It's not a process that happens overnight, but it takes time. Growing and maturing spiritually is not something that we ever stop doing, but we are constantly learning during our entire lifetime on earth. There is always something new that we glean from the Word of God. As we deal with various life situations, it causes our faith to grow. Even those times of difficulty and testing build character and can strengthen our relationship with God.
Often, because of those struggles and times of testing and hardships we've gone through, God will open up doors for us to minister to others we see going through similar situations. It's hard to minister to someone if we've never walked in their shoes, because we have no real understanding of what they're dealing with. But if we've walked through a valley and have come out the other side, then when we see someone going through similar circumstances, God can use us to minister to them and give them support and help.
A newborn is pretty much helpless and unable to do anything for themselves. But as weeks and months pass, they begin to grow and get stronger and are able do things on their own. They learn how to hold up their head, roll over, sit up alone, push up on their hands and knees, crawl, stand up, talk, and walk. But it's a progression that takes time. They don't learn it all at one time, but little by little they start to become a little bit more independent and not quite as helpless.
I've watched parents get excited each time their baby learns something new. They will brag about their child and want to show others the new skill that their little one has learned. It is a thrill for them to watch their baby grow and master new accomplishments.
I believe that God feels the same way towards His children. When we begin learning new tasks and skills and our faith begins to blossom, God gets excited and thrilled as He watches us grow and mature spiritually. I can imagine Him smiling with pleasure as He looks at us and says, "Look! They're finally getting it! My Word is taking root in their heart and their understanding is maturing. Look at them grow!"
On the other hand, I've heard grandparents or older adults comment when watching a baby, "It's been so long since my kids were that small, I've forgotten at what age they do things. Seems like my kids may have done a particular thing at that age... but I'm really not sure."
Sometimes those of us who have been in the church and have had a relationship with Jesus for many, many years forgot the progression of growth for new christians. We expect those who come out of the world and accept Jesus into their heart to have an immediate change inside and outside; to quit all their bad habits; change how they talk and/or dress; and become knowledgeable and mature overnight. We forget that it can take time. We need to be patient with them, love them, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and bring conviction. It is not our job to convict, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit. It's not our job to pass judgement or try to clean up someone's life, because often that can cause them to feel as if they're a failure and can't ever be good enough. But as they grow spiritually from that newborn christian to toddler to adolescent to teen to adulthood; God will open their eyes to His truth and will show them areas that need to be dealt with and changed.
Most of the phases we go through as kids don't really relate to our growth as christians. But there are a few that do.
It seems most kids go through a phase where they think they are smarter and wiser than adults. I think most kids go through that when they are teens, but a few start earlier. I overheard recently a 5-year-old argue with her mother that she could do something, even though her mother kept saying she wasn't allowed to her. "It's okay! I can do it... Yes, I can"
That can be a dangerous time for a growing christian. Since christian growth doesn't have years and milestones to go with it and since we each grow at different rates, we can think we are fully mature, and other christians who have been in the church for decades just never grew up. It's a time some christians are led into false doctrines or just get kooky notions about their relationship with God.
And just like adults trying to help teens learn that they aren't as wise as they think they are, more mature christians may have a very difficult time helping the adolescent christian. I even have a hard time putting up with them, sometimes.
It's usually easy to recognize when someone else is in that stage. But how can we recognize it in ourselves? I think the closest answer I could give is that we need to all recognize that we have much to learn from others and that we all have more growing to do, regardless of how much we've matured.
The greatest heros and leaders of the Bible are great examples. Many of them proved, even in their old age after following God their entire lives, that they had a long way to go. Moses got mad and smashed the first copy of God's commandments. King David had an affair. And many other examples.
So don't take maturity or wisdom for granted. Keep learning and keep growing.
Strawberry Trifle Dessert
(This makes a pretty red, white, and blue July 4th dessert!)
3 cups cold milk
2 small packages instant white chocolate pudding mix
1 angel food cake (or any other white cake)
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 large carton of Cool Whip
Fresh raspberries (optional)
In a large bowl whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Place a third of the cake cubes in a large bowl (if you have a clear glass bowl, this makes a nice presentation for the dessert so you can really see the layers and colors). Top with a third of the pudding; 1 cup of sliced strawberries; 1 cup of blueberries; and a third of the Cool Whip. Continue these layers 2 more times; topping with raspberries and blueberries, if desired. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
***Note: I don't particularly care for angel food cake, so have baked a french vanilla cake (using the boxed mix) and let cool, then cube and used in this dessert, which works well and tastes great.
My sisters and I have been planning a 2 day sister trip, and I have actively been searching for the past 2-3 weeks for lodging and trip ideas and trying to get this planned. The issue has been that we are leaving on the afternoon of Thursday, July 4th and all have to be back to our respective homes on Saturday, July 6th. It has been stressful trying to plan this because everywhere I check is either already booked up or too expensive.
We finally decided on a plan and are going to spend Thursday night at my sister's home in Fort Smith, AR. Then we have some things planned for Friday, and I was assigned the duty of finding lodging for Friday night. After much research, I finally hit the jackpot and found an available cabin, that was affordable.
Online reservations are unavailable for this particular place, so I was on the phone with a lady from this establishment, booking our stay for Friday night. She asked what age we were, and I told her that we ranged in age from 48 to 62. She got this concerned tone to her voice and said, "The cabin has a queen bed, then a bunk bed that is a full size on bottom with a twin on top. Will one of you be able to climb up there and sleep on the top bunk?" Umm.... yes, we can manage that! Then she had the audacity to say, "The cabin also has a couple of steps, will you all be able to climb the steps??" YES!!!! We are NOT that old!!!! I was more polite than that, but that was what I wanted to say! When telling my sister, Janie, about the conversation, she said that I should have asked if we got a senior discount since we were so old!! I have no idea the age of the lady on the phone booking our reservation, but apparently she is much younger than us, and ages 48 to 62 sound ancient to her.
It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. - George Washington
We love you!
Loretta & Jon