"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!'"
June 21, 2017
I recently listened to story shared by Kris Vallotton from Bethel Church in Redding, CA. When he was fifteen, he was at his grandfather's farm for Thanksgiving. He was the only grandson, with the other grandchildren being girls. His grandpa threw him the keys to his old truck and told him to take his cousins for a ride. One of the girls jumped into the front of the cab with him, and the others got onto the flat-bed of the truck. Kris went barreling through the orchard as fast as he could go, which was around 30 mph. First of all, he got stuck in the mud driving through the orchard and the girls had to all get out and push; and invariably ended up getting mud flung all over them when Kris popped the clutch. Then he started down this one-lane road that had a river on one side and a cliff on the other. He happened to remember that the road was washed out, and thankfully got the truck stopped in time. But he had to back up for three miles to get turned around. He told his cousin to open the truck door on her side and watch to make sure he didn't go off the road and down the cliff on her side. As they were backing up, she said, "Watch out for that...." and about that time he hit a tree that ripped the top of the door off the truck.
As soon as they arrived back at the grandfather's home, the girls ran in to tell what had happened. Their dads ran out and started yelling at Kris. The grandfather strolled out, winked at Kris that secretly let him know, "Don't say anything; I've got this." Then the grandfather proceeded to say, "I've been wanting to take those truck doors off for the past two years. This is a work truck, so I don't need doors on it. Go get the tools and help me get this other door off." The grandfather then looked at Kris and winked at him again.
Fast-forward 45 years: Kris' grandson is visiting him, when Kris sees him push the button to close the garage door; only the tractor is in the way. Kris runs out to try and stop him, but it's too late and the door rips off as it hits the tractor. In his mind he's thinking, "You stupid kid! Why did you do that?!" He starts to say something, but his wife was running across the yard behind him saying, "What would your grandfather do? Remember that time you ripped the door off his truck? What would he do?" He wanted her to just hush!
When his grandson saw him, he said, "I'm so sorry PaPa!" Inside, Kris was thinking, "You stupid kid; couldn't you see that the tractor was there!;" but instead he said, "It's okay. We'll get the tools and see if we can straighten it out."
It was at that moment that Kris had a revelation of how much his grandfather had really loved him all those many years ago.
The point of Kris' sermon and sharing that story was this: Love people more than you love your stuff. What would happen if we took hold of people and we made room for them to do stupid stuff, and we don't make a big old deal out of it? It's not that big a deal.
That's a difficult lesson to learn and remember at times! When a kid breaks something in our home, our first response tends to be, "What were you thinking?! Why did you do that?!" Maybe they were horsing around and broke a window; or they were throwing a ball in the house after repeatedly being told not to and broke a favorite lamp; or jumped on top of a kitchen chair and broke the bottom of it; or tried to climb a tree that was not strong enough to support their weight and broke a limb; or colored with permanent markers on a freshly painted wall.... or any other numerous scenarios. We tend to justify our negative response by saying, "Well they need to learn to be more careful and watch what they're doing! I worked hard to pay for that. They shouldn't be breaking my things!"
Honestly, most times kids aren't intentionally trying to be malicious and mean. They're young and think like a child, and don't have the maturity to reason out the repercussions for their actions. They live in the moment, and generally don't think any further than what they're doing right at that time. They've not yet matured enough to be taught about financial responsibility or truly know the value of things.
Recently, my 9-year old great-niece was riding in the car with my sister (her grandma) and me. We were dropping my 15-year old nephew off at a construction job he was helping with that day, which happened to be in a really nice, high-class neighborhood. It was a beautiful neighborhood; very quiet and peaceful, lots of big mature trees everywhere, manicured lawns with pretty flowerbeds, and huge homes that were absolutely gorgeous. The 9-year old was sure that it was exactly where they needed to move. She was convinced that if her mom saw those houses, she would want to move there to live and they still wouldn't be very far from grandma. We stopped at one of the homes that was for sale and grabbed one of the realtor papers that told about the house. I was reading it to her, and she just knew that the house would be perfect for their family, and she was so excited. It didn't matter when I read the price of $499,999! She heard the number, but it didn't mean anything to her because she doesn't yet recognize the value of money or how high the monthly payments would be or that her parents aren't in a financial position to afford a home that expensive. She reasoned out that they wouldn't ever move to another state and have to live away from family, should they buy that house. In her mind, it was perfect and her mom would love it.
To an adult, that type of reasoning is silly and the maturity level is there to understand how much money that is, how expensive the upkeep and monthly mortgage payments would be, that it is not even feasible to even consider a home that upscale on most incomes, the yearly taxes would be high, and that is not a house that most of us would be able to even think about buying. Plus, all that house cleaning to try and keep up with; except, if we could afford such a house, we could probably also be able to afford to hire a maid.
That shows the difference in the level of thinking between a kid and an adult. Yet, we often want children to be able to explain their actions and why they do stupid things, when the truth is, they really don't know. Their reasoning and deduction skills have not fully developed.
I'm not by any means suggesting that kids and teens should be allowed to do whatever they want, simply because they're immature, without any type of discipline; but perhaps grace needs to be shown as they are taught right from wrong. Perhaps we, as adults, need to remember that people are more important than things; therefore, we need to love them more than we do our stuff. Perhaps we need to remember back when we were kids and did silly things; whether we want to admit it or not, or remember or not. Perhaps we need to stop a moment and consider our words and response, before yelling and saying things we may later regret.
Most times when someone breaks something or does something stupid or messes up, they may not act like it right at that moment because they're trying to be tough or trying to act like they don't care or are afraid of getting into trouble, but inside they're already feeling bad for what they did. When our response is to yell at them in anger or become upset with them or spank their bottom, they feel like they deserve it. What we say and how we act confirms what they're already thinking about themselves. But if we responded with grace and mercy, offering forgiveness, it would very likely make a huger impact on them that they'd always remember; much like Kris's story in the beginning of this devotional. It would be unexpected, and years later they might be placed in a similar situation and get that same revelation that, "Wow! They really loved me a whole lot!"
Even if someone does something maliciously, there is usually an inner hurt or pain or something within them that causes them to act as they do. When a kid has gone through traumatic experiences, it affects many areas of their life, for many years. There are times when breaking things or tearing things up or marking on things is their way of dealing with past hurts. They may not be able to express their inner pain with words, and the only way that they know to do so is by being destructive. Yelling at them and making them feel as if they're stupid is not going to help, nor bring about healing. Perhaps the greatest breakthrough will come through loving them and saying, "Okay, let's figure out how to fix this together!" Sometimes kids may do things for attention, because to them, negative attention is better than no attention at all.
In Kris Vallotton's sermon, he gave an example that one of their team did something that was going to be on the front page of the newspaper. Kris called the pastor and told him what had happened and that it was going to show up in the news. His pastor was quiet for a few moments, then said, "Don't throw him under the bus just to save your own butt. It's our mistake; take the blame." Kris called the man back and said, "It's not a big deal. What did you learn?" It's so easy at times to not want to ever take the blame and say, "It's his fault! I didn't do it!" When someone learns from their mistake or brokenness, then it will make them a better, stronger person. When they are shown condemnation and guilt is heaped upon their heads, then they may feel as if their situation is hopeless and there's no way out.
How do we show mercy and forgiveness, when someone has broken something that belongs to us; or they do something that embarrasses us, or causes us to want to wring their neck, or is hurtful and upsetting? Perhaps we need to stop for a moment before responding, think about those times when we've been shown mercy and forgiveness, and react in kind. Perhaps we need to put ourselves in their shoes for a moment, then respond as we would want others to react to us should we be the one who messed up or did something stupid.
We often believe that we love people more than our stuff, until our stuff gets broken; then that love is put to the test. By our words and response do we give the impression to the person that we're yelling at or upset with, that what they broke was more important than they are? I like my home and the things inside my home; but I never want anyone to ever think that what I own is more important or has more value than they do.
I read a quote that said that we are to love people and use material things; not use people and love material things.
1 John 2:15-17 says, "Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever."
It's okay to have nice things and to take care of what we have. But let's never take so much pride in our possessions that we care more for them than we do for people.
Just as we all want our Heavenly Father to show us mercy and grace, giving us immediate forgiveness, when we do stupid things or mess up or break things, may we show that same level of maturity in how we respond to others.
I typically do put too much value on things. Especially if I had to work for a long time to pay for it, or if it has some sentimental meaning. But once in a while, I take things easy, too. When our truck got scratched up, I knew that it was inevitable. After all, it is a work truck. And when I put the first ding in our new car's door, I took it in stride. Partly (but not entirely) because it was my fault.
Mostly, if I react quickly, it's probably badly. I've noticed many times that it seems like God rarely asks us to do anything in a rush. He nudges us in a direction, to do something. But Satan seems to push us to act before we have time to think about it. He wants us to be rash, rushed, and unthinking.
So, pick which approach you prefer.
Chocolate Brownie Cake
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 box fudge brownie mix
1-1/4 cups water
1 cup oil
Heat oven to 350. Prepare a bundt pan with Bakers Spray, or use coat with butter and then flour. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and whisk for 2 minutes or until lumps are mostly gone. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 (12 oz.) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
Place heavy whipping cream in a large microwave safe bowl and heat for about 2 minutes. You want the cream to be just boiling. Carefully pour chocolate chips into the cream....it may rise up and bubble and this is okay. Let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk the chocolate and cream until shiny and smooth, about 1 minute. Pour over cooled cake and serve.
More church bulletin bloopers:
Jean will be leading a weight-management series Wednesday nights. She's used the program herself and has been growing like crazy!
Mrs. Johnson will be entering the hospital this week for testes.
The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, 'Break Forth Into Joy."
This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.
I have a past. But I don't live there anymore. - Toby Mac
We love you!
Loretta & Jon