Roasted Groundhog with Carmelized Onion and Rosemary & Olive Oil Peasant Potatoes

credit to IMDB

Today is Groundhog Day.  Which to most people means nothing really.  So what.  Puxatawny Phil ‘enlightened’ us with his prediction that we will have an extended winter.  Great.  Yeah, whatever.  For some people, the Bill Murray movie ‘Groundhog Day’ comes to mind.  If you were lost in some time chasm and never saw it–you should.  It has very a good message behind the hyjinks.  [spoiler alert] The basic plot of the movie is that Bill Murray’s character must repeat February 2nd over and over and again until he is thankful and his character has been refined.  He tries to give up many times, but finds that giving up is just not an option.

In real life, we too must be refined, although repeating the same day with exact events is quite rare :) Sometimes it’s hard not to wish you could have a ‘do-over’ [remember those?].

The Refiner‘s Fire

Have you heard the story of the Refiner’s Fire?  We did a while back.  The story is an example of how the Lord works with us, and how valuable we are to him.  There are many verses in the bible that refer to this process, but the most well known is Zechariah 13:9.  Anyway, the story goes like this-

The story is told about a man who was puzzled when he read about the refiner’s fire in his bible. He wondered what God meant by it, as he had no awareness of the process.  Time went on, and one day, he met a silversmith. So the man asked the silversmith what the refiner’s fire was.  He was invited to come and watch the process if he wanted a better understanding.  The man accepted, and went to the workshop.  The silversmith held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.  The silversmith told the man that he had to sit paying close attention at all times.  In fact, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.  The man thought carefully about this and the scriptures he had read. Then he asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”  “Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.”

(Original source unknown. If you know the original source, I will gladly add the credit!

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The Greatest ‘Myth’

I Go To Church Every Week

Real Christianity is not based on your church affiliation, it is based in your heart’s relationship with Jesus.  Going to church every week has a purpose, but I have found that most people have that purpose confused.

Church isn’t a task to check off your list.  It isn’t a social club to attend-although the social aspect is vitally important to your spiritual well-being.  Church isn’t something you ‘do’ to get people to approve of you or to trust you.

Attending church regularly doesn’t necessarily make you a follower of Jesus Christ.  As Christians, we are called to be different.  Our lives are supposed to point to Christ, just like the little prairie dogs.  It is our purpose to be loving, and generous, and forgiving.  Not that we should allow others to degrade us or walk all over us, but show that real, authentic Christianity is NOT the nit-picky, divisive, backstabbing, hypocrisy we see in the church today.  Real, honest Christianity does tackle hard issues, but with grace, and genuine love. Not in a judging or condemning manner, but as a fellow sinner, who understands and has been there.

So, what does make you a true follower in Jesus Christ?  What about church?

Well, the ‘list’ is simple!

  • Believe that we are born sinful, and our separation from God is a result of that sin.  To be reconciled to God, our sin must be atoned for.  There must be death, or a sacrifice of perfect life, to bring us back into a relationship with God.
  • Believe that Jesus is God, that He came in human form to live a perfect life, and die in our place on the cross- to give us salvation and reconciliation to God.  Why?  Because He loves us that much!
  • With repentance, and a heart change [gratitude and love], we want to give God the glory, and we want to share all that he has done for us to give us a new life- here- and for all eternity.
  • Attend a bible based, bible teaching church.  Why?  Because being a part of a congregation causes you to be surrounded by believers who can help you as you struggle to change old sinful habits, and as a body of believers, you have a direction to help you as you share the gospel with others.
  • Develop a habit of regular prayer and bible study.  This is a great stumbling block to many Christians.  If this is a problem for you, get connected to prayer group, or a bible study.  A great resource is Bible Study Fellowship.  This is an International Bible Study that is non-denominational, uses only the bible for lessons, and has been compared to studying at a theological seminary.  It is free, and you can bring your school aged children. There are women’s day classes that allow children 2 and up.
  • Seek God’s will in your life.  Realize that God will reveal to you what He wants for you, and He will move heaven and earth for you to accomplish His priority in your life.
  • With God, there is no impossible.  The only limits to what He can do are the ones YOU put there.
  • God is all knowing.  Nothing escapes Him, nothing surprises Him.  There is no “oops, didn’t see that coming” or “oops, missed that, now what do I do”
  • There are only two options in our lives- Whether we will allow Him to lead us – or not.  That’s it.  Everything single thing that happens in our lives boils down to these two choices.  Whether we acknowlege Him, glorify Him [even in painful situations], seek Him, and follow Him — or— we decide that He isn’t there, doesn’t care, didn’t love us enough to stop ______?_____ [more on that later], or whatever we tell ourselves to justify our dissatisfaction with God or our decision to ‘do it ourselves’.

Choose to be authentic in your walk with the Lord.  I can promise it will be difficult.  I can promise you won’t always understand.  And, I can promise that the outcome will be worth more than anything you ‘check off’ on your ‘list’.

 

Even The Prairie Dog!

Prairie Dog Rapture, by Anthony Falbo

Clue

I was doing some ‘Stumbling‘ this morning on article ideas for one of my clients. I came across this photo and read the article about the possible meaning behind the prairie dog pose while barking. It was suggested that they were honoring the sunrise/sunset, and that it was a position of praising God.  Regardless of whether science approves, I found it intriguing. Instantly, it brings to light the passage in Luke 19 where Jesus states, “I tell you, if they [the Jews] keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Trivial Pursuit

It seems like such a small, trivial thing especially considering the views of the science community- but in fact, it is monumental.  God used a tiny little animal that most people consider a ‘pest’ to show us His glory- if only we are willing to look, and acknowledge Him.  Some may consider my words ignorant, that it means something else, or that I’m making it up.  That’s okay.  My next post will get to my feelings on that.  If we look to ‘man’ for approval, we will never make everyone around us happy.

Battleship

When it comes to stating their Christian beliefs, a lot of people stop dead in their tracks. They don’t want to be known as the ‘bible thumper’ or the ‘religious nut’ in the family, neighborhood, or workplace.  Standing up for what they believe is paralyzing to them, or, a constant battle.  And I am no different- especially when ‘religion’ is involved.  Why? Because I am not a religious person.  I don’t feel that religion plays a part in my salvation or my life as a Christian.   That makes no sense to some people.  What do you think?

Religion is the boundary of tradition, ritual, and legalism.  Traditions can be good, or bad. But if they are allowed to supercede your faith, then they become the worshipped, not the way to worship.  Ritual can also be good.  But when it is performed mindlessly, or in order to place one’s self above anyone else, then it destroys it’s purpose and joins the ranks of motions in futility.  Legalism is the term through which tradition and ritual are generally acknowledged.  Legalism is the belief that you can fully abide by the law and that is the way you can avoid penalty.  Legalism is destructive because God’s law was not something man COULD successfully keep. In addition to the law God gave us, man has instituted his own version of tradition and ritual, making it even more impossible to follow. With all this bearing down on us, what do we do?

Look to God!  If He created us to NOT be able to keep the law, we should ask why?  What purpose does it serve if we can’t do it?  Ah, now the answer is easy.  Because it shows us how completely Holy God is.  How completely perfect He is, and it shows us His Righteousness.  It defines Him.  It glorifies Him.  It radiates our need for Him.  And it does something else.  It shows how much He wants to be a part of the life He gave us.  He created us for the sole purpose of expressing His glory, love, and mercy to us.  By reflecting these back to Him, and to each other equally, we complete the eternal expression of love.  This is the definition of world peace.  How can I say that?  Because within this example, there is no selfish desires, no hidden agenda, no schemes, lies or deceit.  If everyone followed this example, there would be no one starving or in pain, no destruction, no crime.  Why?  Because if everyone was focused only on God, and serving others, there would always be someone watching your back, so you wouldn’t have to.  There would ALWAYS be someone there ready to help you.

Risk [AKA Decision]

Sounds too good to be true?  It is.  For now.  That’s why Jesus came, to offer each of us a chance to live- really live.  Because someday, those that believed in something that seemed too good to be true will live eternally in a place like that.  I am counting the seconds.  It can’t come soon enough.  And until that time comes, I choose to see the everyday miracles, the seeming coincidences, and the little pointers, clues, and breathless moments that show me that God is right there, whispering, ‘look, smell, taste, touch, hear, believe-Don’t you know?  I love you —-this much—-!’

Why NOW? I’m too busy for this!

GRRR!  Ever had a day that nothing seemed to go as planned?  Today, I woke up to 8 inches of snow, no power, and no water [we're in the country and have a well with an electric pump-yeah, not the smartest idea- we lose power with almost every snowstorm!].  Great.  Thankfully, my cell phone alarm had been set, so I woke up on time!  But it was still a hectic morning. We drove to town and hit every light along the way. The office was FREEZING.  The coffee seemed to take forever to perk.  The computer was cranky…. OH wait, that was me ;).  Anyway, it was shaping up to be a yucky day, even though I love the snow!

So, as I sit here and type this, I had to take a look at why my morning was so hectic.  You know, the ROOT cause.  I had to admit that I felt inconvenienced.  Why?  Because I am a busy person.  I have a LOT of stuff to do!  I own a business, manage multiple blogs [finally even one for me!], clients, and we have teenagers.

I don’t have time to get involved in all the small issues [where did I leave my purse?] or the bigger ones [how am I supposed to take a shower in the dark with no water?].  I have to make sales to pay my bills.  I have to rebuild my website [and it's taking FOREVER].  I have advertising materials to create, and administrating to do. Where will I find the time for all this?

Then it sinks in.

I won’t.  I can’t.  There.  I admitted it .  I am unable to meet the demands of my life.  I fail. There is no reasoning around it, no way to get past it.  It stings, but it is the truth.  But the best truth is that God doesn’t expect me to get everything done.  He created me to worship Him, and to be focused on Him.  Why? Because if I am involved in a bunch of busywork, I will miss golden opportunities to share the gospel, or be involved in the lives of others.

With this awareness, I am at peace. I make mistakes.  I am anxious and harsh.  But, I am forgiven, made new, and loved.  The things that irritate me aren’t beyond God’s reach.  No they aren’t happening because God took his eyes off me for a second.  They are happening because God IS watching, and shaping, and prodding me to think eternally, not physically.

Think ETERNALLY.  It will change your life!

The Skeleton In My Closet

Do you have a skeleton in your closet?

I grew up in a very legalistic, very condemning church, that taught that God was waiting for you to sin so that he could punish you.  We were taught that even if we were doing everything right, we’d get to heaven, and find out that we didn’t ask God to forgive us for some sin [even telling a lie when you were a kid], and we would not be able to enter into the kingdom.   It has taken all these years to get over that.  Even this week, as I struggled to make a decision on a direction to take, I was suddenly almost crippled with fear at making the wrong choice, even though both directions would show faith.  I asked God to tell me what to do, and quoted the saying, “If you err, err on the side of caution.” –Thinking if I didn’t know for sure, but took a step in faith, he’d show me what the next step was.  He answered, “Err on the side of faith”.  I questioned this.  If we are acting on faith, can we still make mistakes?  Yes!  Peter did, he lopped off the soldier’s ear because he believed, and acted, without waiting on God.  So did Abraham.  He didn’t wait on God, he had a child with his wife’s servant.

Well, I can’t tell you what a difference that has made for me.   I feel that I am finally free to just embrace the love that the Lord has shown me, and accept the grace that He willingly offers.  Free.  Me?  REALLY!

Welcome!

I am so excited.  This is MY blog!  I am trying something new, at least for ME!  I am going to be blogging about my life and how God is working it out for myself, and my family.  It is putting a lot of pressure on me because I know tech savvy clients may see what I am blogging about, and how it is impacting my personal life.  But, I am hopeful that they will be able to support me in my endeavor to become fully transparent, and fully devoted to living a real Christian life, whatever the consequences.  I expect to be kept accountable, but I ask for your mercy, and grace, because I am not yet perfect.  I will, however, be working through my imperfections, with the world as my witness.  If this sounds like you, and you would like to travel this journey with me, welcome my friend!  I welcome your input and hope we will become good friends!