Friday, July 18, 2014

Cornbread Blessings

“Honey come here quick, you’ve got to see this.” 

Wondering what my husband was making a fuss over, I got up from the computer to go look out the kitchen window. 

There were two cardinals along with a few other birds, picking away at the seed and cornbread we put out that morning.

One of the cardinals was bright red and medium size. The other was brownish gray and only a tiny bit smaller.  Taking into account the actions of the red bird, we came to the conclusion that it was the father.
At first I couldn’t see what the big deal was … birds eating.  Then I saw something unusual, at least it was to me.

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With excitement my husband said,
“Watch the red one. See what he’s doing?” 
The larger cardinal would peck at the cornbread and eat it.  Then he would do it again only this time he turned around and fed the younger bird. 
I didn’t understand why the red cardinal was feeding the other bird when he was eating alongside him.  It was like he was saying, “You’ve got to taste this; it’s great.”  He did it over and over until the smaller bird finally flew away. 
As I continued to be fascinated by my feathery diners, it was like an affirmation of what I had been thinking about all week – pride and greed.
Earlier in the week I came to a realization about my own actions and motives concerning a contest I wanted to enter.  Watching those birds share in something good was a lesson this gal needed to relearn. 
Home Economics of Baking
For the past three years I have been entering various categories in the county fair, among them was banana bread.  Each year I try to improve on the base recipe and add a little extra making it better.  One of the rules to the contest is that you cannot enter the same item if it has won a blue ribbon, so that’s why I needed a new recipe.
I searched and finally found one.  On Saturday I spent the day baking and getting my entries ready for Monday morning.  After the blueberry banana bread was done I put it to the taste test.  Not only was it awful, it was downright nasty, brown glue, gummy awful, and refused to bake all the way through even after 90 minutes. 
For some reason I didn’t take a picture of it; I wish I had… it looked like something you would use for a paperweight.  The flies had little toxin masks covering their faces while waving signs and banners that read, “Get that out of here!”  OK, not really, but it was really bad.
By now it was getting late, but hubby kindly asked if I wanted him to go to the store for more ingredients.  I declined his generous offer and started in on baking my cookies.  That’s when the Lord had a conversation with me.

Racking up the Ribbons
Trying to figure out what to do God reminded me of an episode on the Andy Griffith show, in which Aunt Bea was preparing pickles for her family. Clara happened to come by one morning with a batch of her latest pickles she was entering in the fair.  She was boasting how hers had won the blue ribbon eleven years in a row and was hoping this would be the twelfth.
When Bea explained that her pickles weren’t for competition, Clara popped her in the elbow and said, “Where’s your sporting blood, you should enter the contest.” However, when Bea mentioned that she had tried and lost to her friend ten years, her neighbor quickly corrected her saying, “Eleven.” 
From that point on all Clara did was rattle off the things Bea needed to change in her recipe, and to top it off she left a jar of her pickles on the table for Opie knowing well that there were almost a dozen jars already.  (If you haven’t seen the show, it’s the first 3 minutes in this video. The Andy Griffith Show S2 E11 "The Pickle Story"
In my spirit I heard, “Why do you want to win?  You have won a blue ribbon three years in a row for your banana bread recipes, why do you want another one?”
It was then I started thinking about why I really did want to win?  What was the big deal?  Then I had to admit, I wanted to win to keep winning just like Aunt Bea’s friend, only my situation didn’t live in TV land … it was in my heart and very real.
It wasn’t about the banana bread any longer, but racking up the blue ribbons which, by receiving them, would state mine was better than the others.
X-rays Reveal Secrets
Sometimes I don’t like the things I share with you, but part of this journey was promising that I would be truthful in how I am walking out the challenges each week.
After last week’s post I began to wonder if people thought I was being prideful over the favor we had experienced in so many things. Guilt tried to rear its ugly head when I knew that the entire teaching came from the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. 
That’s when I got this vision (not a Holy vision), of God staring at my heart as if it were being x-rayed.  He could see every part that I thought was hidden. If that really happened, what would He actually see in my heart?  All the motives for doing things would no longer be a secret. To be honest, it sort of scared me.
When I first started entering the county fairs it was to try new things I hadn’t done in the past.  The challenge wasn’t based on pride, greed or selfishness, but to become active in the community so I could meet new people all while experiencing other activities.
Over the years God blessed my entries favoring me with dozens of ribbons and prize money, but my mindset wasn’t the same coming up on this event.  In preparing I kind of felt something wasn’t right, but wasn’t sure what it was.
There is nothing wrong with team sports or competition, but if our motives change and become all about pride it can lead to us turning greedy.  I didn’t want that to happen.
While the cookies were baking (a different baking division I would enter), I sat down and started to question why I was entering another banana bread recipe.  There really wasn’t a reason other than to say I won another year (that’s if it did win).  What was the big deal?
In all the other areas I make something new each year just for my own satisfaction thinking, “Hey, I was able to do that.”  There isn’t any competition, only that I like trying new things so I can stay fresh and not grow stagnant in my life.  The challenges are self-imposed.  If I was doing this in all the other categories, why wasn’t I doing it with the banana bread?
A few minutes went by and I started having this debate out loud bringing my husband into the vortex of my dilemma.   With him as my sounding board, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t need to enter and that it was time for someone else to share the spotlight. How humble of me … (Feel free to laugh, I did.)
Old Fashioned Organ Cleansing
It was like a rush of fresh air went through my heart cleansing and relieving all the pressure, flushing out any guilt.  God had revealed to me the path that I was about to take without realizing it. The prompting of the Holy Spirit caused my behavior change and put me back on track to God’s favor.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast  (fixed in place) spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NKJV)
I have to stop and praise God for pouring out His grace, and stopping me from making a mistake that would have removed His favor and blessings if I didn’t listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
When my heart was right with Him my thinking took a different direction so that my actions would be lined up with the Word of God.  This time I saw Jesus looking at clean x-rays that would please Him.  He didn’t find a heart that was “xenogenesis” to His (when a child’s is different from a parent as in Father God), but one that was united to the plan of God.
Sharing the Favor
This brings me back to the cardinals and how the red one was willing to give up his portion of the cornbread bounty he had found.  There was no greed in him, and he literally put the blessing of favor in the younger bird’s mouth when he gave his portion away.
Last year we entered almost 40 categories, but after examining my motives I decided to only enter 24 this year.  I honestly couldn’t justify entering in areas I had already won and wanted others to receive the same favor I had in previous years.
No, I’m not saying I’m like that bird giving my portion to another, but that I didn’t want to fall into being greedy and prideful which would take me right out of God’s grace, blessings and favor.  There is no part of me that wants anything to do with what the Lord hates, and that is pride. (Proverbs 6:16-19 NKJV)

Each day of the week additional items can be submitted depending on which things were to be judged that day. Anyone who wishes to enter other categories such as horticultural items can do so. 

We had finished getting our flowers registered and decided to take a look at our baked goods and home economics entries.  God had honored my decision and blessed my entries in the new divisions I submitted.  Why did He choose to let my entries do well? My heart x-rays took a bath and came back clear. (You can see it here.)

Giving Away Your Blessing

There is not one person alive who hasn’t experienced falling into the trap of pride and greed at some point of their life.  No one is exempt from this category and it’s not one we usually plan on entering, but do.  When we are prideful we steal God’s glory (Isaiah 42:8), and that is something He is not willing to share.  So let’s not do that anymore.
Hubby's Corn Bread Blue Ribbon 2013
Thinking about our challenge for this week I really wasn’t sure how to go about it.  We have already worked our way through examining our hearts, but not to the extent of giving something up that would allow others to reap our favor visibly. 

Basically, we’re going to give away our “cornbread” blessing.  I’m not talking about actual cornbread like we fed the birds (I guess you could if you wanted to), but the metaphorical giving of something we would rather keep for ourselves.
This Week’s Challenge:
X-ray Your Heart for Pride and Greed
This week we’re going to give up something we’ve been doing for all the wrong reasons.  X-ray your own heart and think about all the things you are active in or volunteering for … what is the real reason you’re doing them? Is it worth sacrificing the favor of God?

Maybe you’re doing something because you think you’re the only one who can do it right, so you’ve horned in on the project keeping others on the outside.  Like God said to Elijah (paraphrased of course),

“You’re not the only one who believes in Me, and I can easily bless someone else who isn’t as puffed up as you.”  (1 Kings 19:13-18 NKJV)

Before stepping into that “winners circle” ask yourself, “Do I really need another pat on the back blue ribbon” (so to speak), or is it just my pride/greed wanting to do this?”

“A man’s pride will bring him low, but he who is of a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23 Amplified)
In plain language this is what the Message Bibles says:
“Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors.” (Proverbs 29:23 MSG)

If your reason and motivation for doing something isn’t valid then stop what you’re about to do; if it is, God will honor you x-raying your own heart and being quick to repent.
There’s plenty of cornbread out there; it’s time we share in the bounty of blessings and favor.

Until next time, will favor show up on your x-rayed heart?

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by Heather Bixler

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Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy. A.N.A. logo by J.C.Penney, Inc.
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by Gateway Bible
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Image: Red Cardinal  Cardinals  Baking Display  Aunt Bea  Heart  Psalm  Ribbon
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