Sunday, September 25, 2016

Soft, Sweetened, and Spiced

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41

The apples are in, so apple butter is in the making. It's really quite simple when you have the right tools. I use a crank apple peeler. I can crank out a 1/2 bushel of apples in about an hour. Try hand peeling that many and see how long it takes. The apple peeler will take out the core, peel the apple and slice it into rings all at the same time. I use a large variety of apples so the mixture brings out the best apple flavors. Winesaps and Cameos are my favorites. I also added Mutsu, Golden Delicious, Fuji, and maybe a Gala or two. Add a little apple pie spice and sugar, a few splashes of apple cider and the apples have a new purpose, the makings of great homemade apple butter. I also have a large turkey roaster that holds my apples. It will cook a 1/2 bushel of apples into apple butter while I sleep. The next day, all I need to do is put it in the jars. A crock pot will work just as well, but won't hold as many apples.

I was thinking about how we tell the kids about the salvation transformation with pumpkins, taking out the yucky stuff and putting the light inside to shine through the smiling face. That put me to thinking about apple butter and the church. Apples have a core with the seeds. The seeds contain a cyanide compound. It won't hurt us to eat the seeds. A person would have to eat a tremendous amount to cause harm but our mothers told us apple seeds were poison. We take out the core before we make apple butter.

We have a core that has to be removed before we can become a Christian. That core will kill us if left inside. I'm talking about our sinful heart. We have to allow Jesus to cleanse us of our sins if we want to be saved. That's the first step in becoming part of a church. Just as a rotten apple would spoil the whole batch so an unsaved person will spoil the witness of the whole church.

The appearance of an apple has to change before it becomes apple butter. The peel has to be removed. To leave it on would add a tough consistency to the butter.  It has to become soft, sweetened and spiced to have the right smell and taste. It needs to be cooked on low for several hours to get the tenderness and consistency needed to create great butter.

What do you think we might need to be a great church? With salvation our tough exterior will come off. We become the tender-hearted, loving person that desires to be like Jesus. We become part of a church where we can become that sweet odor of God to the world. Our lives are spiced with the truth of God's word. We are warmed to the things of God. We mix with others who may be of other races and cultures to create a wonderful mix that is able to reach out to a lost world, telling them, once, we too were lost but now we're saved. Once, we too were tough guys who didn't need help. Once, our attitudes stunk, but with Jesus we have a new life and a new attitude and a new purpose.

Apple butter is the best a mix of apples can be. Just put it on a little homemade bread and see how delectable it is. Apple butter on a foundation of homemade bread, that's another analogy in the making. Got it? The church on our foundation, Jesus Christ the Bread of Life.

Be the church sitting strong on our Foundation, Jesus Christ, to a lost world who is searching for truth and purpose.


Hey Kids
Apple butter can be as easy as pie. If mom has an apple peeler ask if you can help crank. 
Wash and peel about 14 apples.
If you don't have an apple peeler, have an adult peel the apples. 
Slice the apples into small pieces with a plastic picnic knife. 
Place the apples in a crock pot.
Add about 1 cup of apple cider, juice or water.
Add 2 cups of sugar (optional)
Stir in 2 1/2 tsp of apple pie spice.
Place the lid on the crock pot and turn on low overnight. Stir once in awhile, especially in the morning until the apples have broken down and  cooked to the consistency you desire.
Sterilize 4-6 jelly glasses (1/2 pint jars)
Spoon apple butter into glasses.
Bring to a boil in a water bath and boil 5 minutes.
If you don't have a water bath, place several table knives in the bottom of a large pot. Place the jars on top of the knives so they don't touch the bottom of the pot. Cover with water and boil the same way as with a water bath.

Maybe you could share a jar of apple butter with a neighbor or a friend who could also use a witness of how Jesus is working in your life and in your church. 

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