"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 17, 2017
To me, it's amazing to watch the progression of how a child's brain develops and changes with age. How they see themselves and their actions are often humorous, but it's also very interesting to watch.
This past week at our mid-week church service, we had birthday cake and ice cream afterwards for our pastor's birthday; who also happens to be my sister. Janie had been asked to pick up the two little boys, that she had fostered for several months, from daycare and their mom would come and get them at the church. As we were sitting around eating cake and visiting, the two brothers, who are now almost 2 and 3 years old, were playing. The oldest boy was jumping off the short platform that is at the front of the building where we meet for services. His younger brother began doing so, too, but in his own way.
The boys would jump off the platform, look at us for our approval and praise, then run around to the steps that are at the side and climb back up and do it over and over again. The oldest brother was big and brave enough to be able to jump off the 8-10 inch platform. The youngest would fall down on his bottom, scoot over to the edge, then put his legs down and basically stand up. His feet were maybe 2-3 inches off the floor. But each time, he would look at us and beam and you could tell that he was so proud of himself. His eyes would sparkle and he would grin from ear to ear when Janie or I told him, "Good job". We are sure that in his own mind, he thought that he was doing it exactly like his big brother!
Jovie is age three. For quite some time she has gone through the stage where she thinks that you can't see her if she can't see you. She will hide her face with her hands or put a blanket over her head and think she's hiding from you. If I'm watching her at her home and she hears her mama pull into the garage she will say, "Let's hide!", then will put a blanket over herself; or want the two of us to sit in a chair together with a blanket over our heads. I will say something about Jovie or the two of us hiding when Janee' walks in, so she will know to play along.
Owen is age 4 and has figured out that you need to get out of sight to hide; but may giggle while he's doing so. A few days ago, he and his mom walked next door to visit Janie. Janie had seen them walking by the window so had gone to the door to let them in. When she got there, only Shelby was standing in front of the door. Janie said, "OH... are you here by yourself?!" Owen was standing over to the side, just out of sight so she couldn't see him, trying to hide from her.
Owen is still in a stage, though, where he thinks if he has his back turned to you, then you can't see what he's doing. Like most little kids, he tends to pick his nose from time to time. When I'm with him, I will reprimand him for picking his nose, so he will turn his back trying to hide what he's doing. Of course, I am much taller than he is so can still see what he's doing; plus I can see him put his hand up to his face, then he will peek to see if I'm watching. I will tell him to stop and he always acts so surprised and asks, "How did you know what I was doing?!?" I tease him and tell him that knowing when he picks his nose is my super-power and I just know!
There is a progression as kids minds develop and grow. They begin to figure things out, although they don't particularly have that "ah-ha" moment when they realize that they are getting it.
It's much the same progression when we are born into the kingdom of God. Whether someone is a youngster or an adult when they ask Jesus into their heart, everyone begins as spiritual babies.
1 Peter 2:2-3 says, "Like newborn babes, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment now that you have had a taste of the Lord's kindness."
When we start our spiritual journey, our understanding is limited and it's a growing process. As we study the Word of God, pray, attend church and hear teaching, fellowship, and spend time with other believers, our faith grows and we increase in our knowledge of God.
Sometimes we may be like the two little brothers, both "doing" the same things, but doing it in completely different ways. The older brother was strong and bold enough to actually jump. The baby brother didn't have the physical strength and know-how to actually jump. Had he tried, he very likely would have fallen. He was able to get off the platform over and over again, but in a simpler, easy way that best fit his physical aptitude. But there will come a time when he will be able to safely jump off surfaces and land without falling or getting hurt. At that time, his older brother will be bigger and stronger, himself, so will be able to jump even higher and further and still be able to do things that the younger one can't. But there will come a time when their growth and size will be to the point where they basically can do and enjoy the same things together; they will be on a more even par with one another.
If young, immature christians try to do things exactly like those who are spiritually older and more mature, there is the possibility that they're going to fall down and get hurt; even to the point of becoming scared and not wanting to try anymore or feeling like a failure. Growth and maturity takes time and effort and patience.
Colossians 2:6-7: "And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness."
It's important that as we grow, we let our roots grow deep into Jesus and that He is who our lives are built upon. If we put christians, whom we think are stronger and seemingly much more mature than we are, upon pedestals then there will likely come a time when they will say or do something that will disappoint us. People will let us down and may cause us hurt. In fact, if we focus more on people than on God, then our roots can't grow deep and we can spiritually die. It's good to learn from the teachings of those who are more spiritually mature and even allow them to mentor us, but don't ever place them in a place where we are more dependent upon them than we are God; where we want them to hear from God for us, instead of learning to hear from God for ourself.
Jon and I bought some plants a couple weeks ago. I've planted a few tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash, and a couple watermelon plants. I tend to check them daily, and honestly, haven't been able to see any type of growth yet. But I don't know what's happening underground. I can't see the roots to see if they are becoming established and growing or not. What I do know is that if the roots take hold and become strong, then there will come a time when those plants will grow and bear fruit.
Even then, I will need to watch them and try to protect them from the birds, squirrels, and rabbits from pecking/eating away at and possibly destroying the plants and the fruit that they're bearing. I'll have to pull weeds so that the plants aren't choked out. I'll need to water them when the summer heat is beating down upon them so that they don't become too dry and wither. The work is never ending.
There will never come a time when we, as christians, will become so mature that we can leave the protection and covering of our Heavenly Father. John 10:10 (NLT) tell us, "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." The NKJV says it like this, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
Satan will always be around to taunt us and try to bring about discouragement and try to get our focus off from Jesus. He is always at work to try to cause our roots to dry up or the weeds to choke them out or to peck away at the fruit that we bear so that we wither spiritually. His main purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy all that God is doing within us and through us. That's why we must mature spiritually and our roots grow deep. There will never come a time when we can grow comfortable and think we can rest. The work is never ending and will be continuing until our earthly life comes to an end.
Just as there is a progression of growth within children, there needs to be a progression of growth within each child of God. Let's never be satisfied to stay newborns or act like toddlers who are going through the terrible twos or to stop growing and maturing and learning. May we desire to know God and allow our love for Him to mature and grow deep.
As we grow and mature, may we also be willing to mentor and teach newborn christians in their relationship with Jesus so that they can become rooted and established. Don't judge or criticize if they slip up or fall down or act ungodly; but be quick to encourage and love and pick them up when they mess up, remembering how we were when we were new in our relationship with God.
A baby doesn't skip from drinking milk to eating steak. They drink milk for a long time, then advance to soft foods, then cereal, and years later try steak.
Christians need the slow progression, too. It isn't a good idea to skip from hearing who God is to trying to help someone with tough questions like "Does God think I should take job A or job B, or wait for something better?" It's much better to spend time learning about God till you get to know who He is. Then, visit with others who know God. Then, finally, teach about God to others.
2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
6-1/2 to 7 cups flour
2 packages dry yeast
Mix warm water, sugar, and salt together; add in yeast and stir until dissolved. Add egg and shortening. Mix in flour, 2 cups at a time. Place in a greased bowl. If using right way, place a cloth over the top and place in a warm place and allow dough to rise. Make dough into rolls and place on a greased pan. Bake 12-15 minutes at 400.
If not using the dough right away, place in a greased bowl and place a damp towel over the top. When ready to use, take bowl out of fridge and allow dough to rise, before making into rolls and baking.
This is good for rolls, cinnamon rolls, or pizza crust.
My sister and I were recently eating lunch with two of her grandkids, ages 3 and 8. Jax asked if he could pray over our lunch and we said sure. His prayer was, "God is great; God is good; let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we are fed; thank you, God, for our daily bread... and let us begin." He learned this prayer when he was really young and has prayed it numerous times over the past few years. After Jax finished he asked us, "Why do we only thank God for bread and lettuce?" It took Janie and me a second to understand what he was talking about. "Thank you, God, for daily bread... and let us (lettuce)...! Janie explained that it was LET US, not lettuce. He said, "Oh! I've always wondered why we only thanked Him for bread and lettuce, and that's all!" Now he knows!!
Gratitude is so much more than words. It's an attitude of your heart! - Christine Caine
We love you!
Loretta & Jon