Taste & See
A common phrase from my childhood was “your eyes are bigger than your stomach!” Often when we saw all that was laid out for us at our family Thanksgiving meal there were so many wonderful foods to choose from that we were tempted to take more than we could eat.
When we were old enough to fix our own plates the adults in our family cautioned us to take only what we could eat. Along the same lines we also had to taste the foods which didn’t look appetizing. We had to “taste & see” before judging the food. Very often it took a number of tastings before we liked a specific food.
Imagine if you turned up your nose at the foods at the first Thanksgiving because of how some of them looked, not only might you have gone hungry you might have offended your Native neighbors who had helped you through the very rough year.
Here are of the unusual choices the Pilgrims faced:
Eels – flint corn (multi-colored corn) – lobster – venison – mussels --
Popcorn (a first for them)
Some strange sounding food items – would you eat them? What about if you were starving? What would you choose if you and your family were starving? Would you pick some and not others? These are some of the foods the Pilgrims & the Wampanoag Native Americans ate on the First Thanksgiving.
We also have to “taste and see” what the LORD has in store for us. While this might not refer to the food, we eat but rather the life experiences we face each day. We have to let the LORD, who knows what we need in our Spiritual diet, feed us through His word. This means we need to be in His word daily and worship with Him weekly. We need to be feed through both word and sacrament.
We also have to wait on Him in His time to see what it is He is doing in our lives.
We have been blessed to be given everything we need with His book, the Bible, and while it might not be possible to memorize the entire book our LORD has provided us with the ability to hold onto key verses to get us through our trying times.
We too, have many choices to make as we face the unknown with our KNOWN God.
Very often what the LORD calls us to do sounds just as strange to us as the foods that were eaten at the first Thanksgiving.
If we remember that He knows what is best for us and we taste and see we will be able to take our refuge in Him. He will be the one to give us comfort in our times of trouble and our times of joy.
This Thanksgiving remember to give thanks for all the LORD has given to you and your family as your see what He is doing for you.
Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
Taste and see that the LORD is good, blessed is the one who takes refuge in him
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
This week we finished our three-week unit on Martin Luther and his contribution to the LORD’s work.
The students learned how Martin discovered the great gift we have from the LORD. They learned that in Martin Luther’s time most people were taught that although Christ died for us, we were still not guaranteed a place in heaven, as a Christian. They learned that people in Martin’s time believed you had to work to earn your way into Heaven.
We spent three weeks learning about his life and how he tried to live up to being perfect and how he could never be good enough for God.
They learned about the amazing discovery Martin made when he truly began to read the Bible. They learned that once Martin learn salvation is a gift and we can do absolutely nothing for this gift, he had to tell everyone. (Ephesians 2:8)
With the older class we discussed this at length. We discussed that we have been given two special gifts from our God.
We are given the gift of the LAW and the gift of the GOSPEL.
They learned that the law is not simply a series of “do nots”, but rather a way to help us.
They learned that the Gospel is a gift as well.
They learned that when we are given a gift, we do nothing for that gift. During the course of our study we came across the phrase “free gift”. After much discussion we came to the conclusion that all true gifts are free and that we do nothing to get them. We discussed that if they are given a “free gift” with purchase, it really isn’t a gift because they must do something to get the item, make the purchase, and the cost of the item is built into the purchase.
Our salvation is completely free to us! Christ did the purchasing with His Holy precious blood and His innocent suffering death.
They also learned that while this gift is ours and there is nothing, we can do to enter Heaven, we do have the power to reject the gift and spend eternity away from God. This took some time on their part to understand.
I went around with a box of candy I gave each a piece of candy; some wanted the candy and some refused (yes, there were a couple). I explained that those who refused the candy were like those people who refused the gift of salvation. They knew it was there, but they made the choice not to eat it. Since I did this with my older grades, they understood, that salvation is entirely God’s choice and eternity without God is entirely our choice.
It was a pleasure to see those who had thought they had to be good enough start to understand.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--
For what are you known?
I recently had a student show for what he is known. He showed that he has some amazing qualities. We always knew he had these qualities but they really appeared on Thursday.
I had an interesting discussion after school on Thursday with our Title I teacher. It seems he was missing one of his work folders for an older student. This student insisted that he had turned in his folder on Tuesday as was expected of him. His next Title I class on Thursday; the folder was not in the correct place.
Our Title I teacher is the only person to access his classroom. Our Title I teacher spent a good deal of his time on Thursday searching his room for the missing folder. The folder was nowhere to be found. Since the student in question is quite honest, we believed him when he said he turned in his folder.
It was decided that come Friday morning our upper grade teacher would search the lockers and bookbags to see if another student was pulling a prank.
But, like the lost coin, the folder was found! When our Title I teacher walked up the stairs he could see the folder had slipped behind the shelving in his classroom.
He and I then went down to the gym to let our student know the folder had been found. We explained that if the folder hadn’t been found it would have reflected poorly on the Title I teacher with his supervisors.
We also explained that because of this student’s reputation we were able to so easily believe he had turned the folder in and would not be in any trouble for it not being where it belonged.
He exhibited what we teach here at Grace, what can be seen in 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV) - Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
This student has been with us since he was four years old and we look forward to seeing where the LORD will lead him as he goes off to high school next year.
1 John 3:18 - Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Last week we did not send out a Connection Newsletter. This was due to my being tied up with Identity Theft Issues. It seems that someone was able to get hold of some of my basic information and gain access to an email account, bank account, and shopping account.
This last week has been one of my having to prove who I am to a number of sources. Fortunately, I had enough security in place that this was a little easier for me than some people, still I am dealing with a lot of headache and much heartache. I may lose some money if any of my claims can’t be proven and my credit rating may take a hit for a while. I now have extra layers of security on everything I do online and it is a bit more time consuming to do many of the things I took for granted before with the internet.
This now leads me to the question of where does our identity truly lie?
I can safely say that I take my true identity from three sources
First – I identify as a child of God. I have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. This is a free gift and there is nothing I have to do for this gift or identity (Ephesians 2:8) Nothing can separate me from the Love of Christ (Romans 8:31-39). This is truly unconditional love.
Second – I identify as a child of my parents. One of my greatest joys through my life has been when I meet someone who says, “oh, you’re Dorothy’s or Ralph’s daughter.” I can honestly say I have always taken joy in being recognized as their daughter. They are the ones that first brought me to church. They are the ones that brought me to be Baptized and did not hinder the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. When I chose to become a Lutheran School teacher these are the two that took joy in my choice. They truly lived Proverbs 22:6. My parents showed each of their children unconditional love. My mother continues this with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to this day.
Third – I identify as the spouse of an amazing man. I truly believe the LORD chose him for me. When I look back at the road I traveled, the LORD was slowly leading me to Gerry. There were at least four times in my life that our paths almost crossed before they did. Gerry was a man after God’s own heart. When I was discouraged, he knew how to lift me up. This was evident even when we were just friends. Gerry was called home to the LORD just over seven years ago and I still identify as his spouse. When I look at choices and decisions that I need to make I still look as how we would handle it together as a couple in the LORD. My husband truly followed the example of a Godly husband as found in Galatians 5:25-33. My husband showed me the unconditional love that Christ shows His church.
These are the identities that can never be taken from me!
Most importantly my identity as a child of Christ can NEVER be taken from me. For I know that according to Romans 8:38-39 nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. This is an identity that can never be stolen!
(C) Vicki Helmling
Vicki Helmling is a teacher at Grace English Lutheran School