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Thursday, November 26, 2015

They are still brussels sprouts!

The other day, I saw this recipe advertised for the "best ever garlic roasted brussels sprouts". Spoiler alert - they are still brussels sprouts! My daughter actually tried these and she said she had to gag them down, make the kids gag them down, and then announced she'd not be serving them again to rounds of cheers and delight! She is a chip off the old block, let me tell you. I have one vegetable I just don't enjoy and it is brussels sprouts! They are advertised as "miniature cabbages, but their taste is something quite stronger and a little more bitter than cabbage, so despite my love for cabbage, they remain on the lowest part of my "vegetable" list. You can "fancy them up" anyway you like, but they are still going to be the same old thing underneath. The same is true in our own lives - we can decide things look pretty good to us, but when we finally decide to partake of them, they leave us with a pretty bad after-taste.

God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn: when you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes, When you avoid sin’s highway, when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse. For you, the Eternal’s Word is your happiness. It is your focus—from dusk to dawn.  (Psalm 1:1-2 VOICE)

I am not sure how life has come at you lately, but there are plenty of things in my own days which come at me with all kinds of "promise" and leave me disappointed in the end.  I have to learn to avoid the things which "promise" delight, but send me sprawling down a slope of despair, disappointment, or depression.  We probably all find ourselves in this situation from time to time, don't we?  We are presented with all manner of "good-looking" stuff in life, but when we don't do a little deeper investigation into the "stuff" itself, we may find we are just taking in the "same old stuff", it is just dressed up a little differently this time around. My daughter never did like brussels sprouts as a kid, so what made her think she'd like them as an adult?  It was the promise of a "new recipe" - something advertised one way, but "delivering" something quite different than she expected in the end.  It was like when she made pizza with ground up raw cauliflower as the crust - her friends all promised she'd be delighted, but she gagged down another not so enjoyable meal - one which she will not repeat again.

We all want God's blessings in life - in fact, we want the to follow us, be there around every bend in the road, and almost fall from heaven on our lives like gentle raindrops.  There are probably more enticements to go after things which promise to be "like" God's blessings than we recognize - duping us into believing we are "going after" the right stuff in life, only to find we don't realize the blessing we hoped for in the beginning of our pursuit.  To avoid being "duped" in life, we need help - we just cannot avoid this on our own.  This is why God provides his Word - his guidebook of sorts which stands as a "manual" by which we may determine if our focus is on the right stuff.  To not end up following in the path set out by the voice of one who offers wrong advice is one thing - to recognize it when that person first starts speaking is quite another.  God wants to endue us with the power of recognition so finely tuned that we recognize the "imposter" in every circumstance and don't become duped by anyone or anything.

Avoiding sin's highway isn't done by taking back roads!  Back roads just get us to the same destination at a slower pace!  In order to avoid sin's destination, we need to travel in the opposite direction entirely - not just avoid the "super-highway" to sin's end!  To move from being critical and judgmental about someone or something we don't just decide one day to have a change of mind about that person or object.  That is like saying today's presentation of brussels sprouts will "win me over" as a fan of brussels sprouts!  Just because I love garlic doesn't mean I am going to accept the brussels sprouts!  If I have already formed a belief something is just not want I want to be pursuing, then I probably will need God's help to change my mind and attitude on that one!  It may just be the original attitude I already formed about that object, pursuit, or person is "spot-on" and God doesn't want me to change my determination to avoid contact with the object or person, or travel down that pathway toward whatever pursuit it is.  I need the clarity of God's Word to help me sort out if my "opinion" is "founded" in truth, or if I am being critical and judgmental because of some selfish, ill-founded attitude.  

God's hope for each of us is to help us see there are things which appear pretty doggone good in this life, but in truth, no matter how much they are dressed up differently, they still leave us in a place we'd rather not have gone.  I am not talking about brussels sprouts here, but life's choices, acquaintances, and promotions.  Not all of them are good for us - but we need to recognize those which are best to be avoided - then learn how to avoid them without toying with them even in the slightest!  Just sayin!