I want to encourage all of God's people to be sourdough Christians! WHAT?! "You want us to be sour?," you're asking? Well, let's think this through a bit. Exactly what IS sourdough?
Isn't sourdough always associated with bread? It's difficult to think of one without the other. Sourdough = bread, right? Ohhhhhhh, but not just bread - some of the BEST bread to be found anywhere in the world; bread that is not only crusted to perfection on the outside, but tender and delectable on the inside with just the right amount of body...bread that wafts out a delectable, almost irresistible fragrance that just BEGS you to taste and see how good it is! Remind you of any scripture here? Maybe the one about "Taste and see that (the Lord) is good..."? Psalm 34:8
Sourdough starter is made from mixing together the proper amounts of flour, water or milk, and sugar. You then let this simple mixture set (about 16 days) in a warm place, it picks up the "natural yeast" that's floating around in the air, which causes the dough to begin its "souring" process. This is how sourdough got started in its purest form. Nowadays, we usually add commercial yeast to help the operation along. Though we call the process "souring", it is actually a life-giving process called fermentation. And even if in its initial stages sourdough starter has a pungent odor that many find offensive, the end result of whatever that sourdough starter is used in almost always has an enticing aroma and oh-so-heavenly taste!
Let's consider for a few moments the ingredients in sourdough, and specifically in the Amish Cinnamon (Friendship) Bread recipe included in this month's newsletter.
First the flour, which forms the basic structure of the dough. What is flour? It is finely ground grain. And what is grain? It is the seed of a plant. And we know that even though seed LOOKS still and lifeless, within it contains the power to give life...the power to reproduce its own kind.
Next the sugar. Sugar is the raw material from which yeast manufactures the leavening gas: it also adds flavor and aids in browning.
Now the water or milk. We all know that we cannot live for any length of time without water. But since the particular recipe that we've included in our newsletter uses milk, let's think about that. Milk is the life-sustaining first food for all of God's creatures. (Ever wonder how on earth those huge beasts called horses give ENOUGH of that life-sustaining first food to their offspring to grow them up into the magnificent huge animals that they become? I mean, after all, you can't even SEE where that milk is coming from! I think it might be interesting to find out exactly how MUCH horse milk it takes to grow a colt into a filly or a mare. Maybe God is using QUALITY there instead of quantity!)
Our recipe calls for salt, of course. We know that salt is used for flavoring. Some time ago, there was a song that said, "If the salt hath lost its savor, it ain't got much in its favor!" I recall that the message was that Christians should remember that God said we are the salt of the world. And if we lose or forget our "savor" (or the reason we're here... to lead others into His kingdom), there's not much use for us! Salt is a preservative, you know. And we're put here to act as such - helping keep others from being "rotted" and "ruined" by the devil's fiery darts and lies, which will ultimately lead them to eternal destruction. We're here on this earth to act as preservatives to the people everywhere around us; thereby foiling the devil's plans!
Our recipe includes oil. Now we know that baked goods need a tiny amount of some kind of fat if we want them to be tender. Just a tiny amount of fat goes a long ways towards accomplishing that goal. Omit the fat in a recipe and you usually end up with a tough product! In Scriptures, oil is used a lot of times to refer to the Holy Spirit. Isn't that interesting? Get the connection here? A little bit of God's Holy Spirit in each of us goes a long ways - and makes us tender. If we don't listen for and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we will be walking in our OWN fleshly, selfish will, and we're probably going to end up being some pretty tough "cookies"!
Next in our recipe is an egg. Eggs also represent life. An egg, in a way, is also a seed, containing within itself the power to produce life.
Now about yeast - this is a bacteria that occurs naturally in the air. It's all around us. San Francisco is said to have some of the best - thus that mouth-watering San Francisco Sourdough Bread. Adding commercially prepared yeast to a mixture simply speeds up the fermentation process for us humans who don't like to WAIT for anything! The growth of yeast produces a gas (carbon dioxide) that is held in bubbles; these expand and the dough is said to "rise." A high temperature will kill yeast; a low temperature retards growth.
Baking powder is another leavening agent which reacts with moisture to give carbon dioxide, helping the bread rise. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is also a leavening agent. This one reacts with heat and when mixed with acids, also liberates the carbon dioxide.
Next is cinnamon, which not only adds flavor and an enticing scent, but bakers know that a slight pinch of this in a baked good will actually help the recipe rise more, even if there's not enough cinnamon in the mixture to actually taste.
The bread recipe we're including in this newsletter uses a commercially boxed pudding. Even though pudding is a mixture of ingredients, those individual ingredients were still created by God. We simply mix them together in different ways to make assorted "flavors". I liken this to the individual "experiences" people have, making each of us special and different, and yet, these individual experiences are not absolutely necessary to the basic recipe. The basic recipe will still be not only functional but also delicious and life-sustaining without the "pudding", but the "pudding" adds an interesting "twist" to the finished product! And as we all are different from one another, we all have different "flavors". As God sends ALL of us out into the world, and as our varied personalities appeal to the diverse "tastes" in people, (which serves first in getting their "attention"), we ultimately share the gospel with them. What's interesting is that while we are each and every one of us different flavors, it is the exact same flavor of "GOD IN US" that flows through us and draws people to Him!
Our recipe calls for nuts. (Make your OWN analogy here, but remember that nuts are seeds. And think of all the animal life that nuts sustain throughout each season of the year!)
As any baker knows, there is a BALANCE of ingredients that will yield perfect results for whatever your desired finished product is. Not only must we have the required ingredients, we must have them in the proper amounts. For instance, consider again ordinary, inexpensive, lowly SALT. Not only is its presence absolutely necessary in sustaining life, it also adds flavor to many, many foods. Salt is commonly used as a preservative, but if it is not used in the proper amounts, it can actually have the opposite effects. So it is in our Christian walk. God tells us to let our moderation (balance) be known unto all men. He knows that people are going to be watching our every move, and hearing the words we say. He wants us to be balanced... not going overboard in one area or another, but depending on His leading in all areas of our lives. And He promises to lead us; to be with us at all times. All we must do is ask Him; and then listen when He answers.
Okay, when all our ingredients are mixed together in the required amounts, it is time to bake or apply the HEAT! When we experience conflict and confrontation in our lives, we sometimes refer to that as "going through the heat". And interestingly, this finished product that's had heat applied to it is STILL life-sustaining, and is much more interesting and palatable than it was BEFORE the heat was added. The heat hasn't killed the life-sustaining properties, merely changed them; into BREAD!!! Jesus said, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger... he that believeth on me hath everlasting life... I am that bread of life." John 6:35a, 47b, 48)
Having a conflict with someone? Try taking them a loaf of freshly baked bread (still warm, if possible) that you've made with your own hands and TELL them you made it just for them. Believe it or not, this is a spiritual principle! When we're in a conflict, you can be sure there's some "self" in there somewhere! Try putting the other person's needs ahead of your own: SHOW LOVE, GIVE THEM A GIFT. Nothing says loving like something from the oven. (Excuse me, Pillsbury, for borrowing your theme song, but it's true!) Breadmaking not your forte? Whip up a batch of cookies! Or a pie! Or a cake! When you GIVE, it changes YOUR heart and attitude, and isn't that where God wants ALL of us? Doesn't He want us to be tender and loving? To have hearts of flesh and not stone? To be sensitive to His Spirit and walk in that, and not in our own selfish will?
Okay, then, get busy. Go ahead; be a sourdough Christian!
Submitted by Carol Pinson,