On the Hunt

She poured the contents of the brownie mix into the bowl. As she stirred the ingredients, she could imagine the joy she would feel as she ate her favorite dessert. Oh. It looked so good. And the scent wafting from the oven was heavenly. She dreamt of that first bite. Her teeth would sink into the soft brownie and her taste buds would erupt with satisfaction. She had made sure to use a smaller pan so the brownies would be thick. It didn’t matter that a smaller pan made fewer brownies. What mattered was the satisfaction they brought when savoring each bite. So for the moment, thin brownies in a larger pan were no longer in vogue in her kitchen. And she was hoping the rest of the household would turn their backs on this batch of brownies. If only. Her name was written all over them.

So she ate the brownies. Oh. She’s never one to cut a dessert into small pieces. Big pieces are magical. In her mind. Small pieces require more to be eaten. And if she could say she only had two brownies, who cares if that really meant she ate the entire row. Who’s counting anyway? And does it really matter? If she’s happy, then life is good. At least, that’s what she tells herself.

Once the plate of brownies has been eaten, then what’s next? Another batch? Will happiness remain if she continues to eat brownie after brownie? Is that what brings true fulfillment? Is that what life is all about? Brownie happiness? Or is it really gluttony?

Perhaps for you it isn’t an endless supply of brownies that satisfies. It could be swiping the credit card for new purchases. Whether the item is needed or not, just the zip of the card brings a flutter of happiness in that moment in time. Perhaps it’s the scratching of the penny on the lottery ticket. Scratch after scratch. How many lottery tickets are enough? Or it could be the downing of that drink each night. Glass after glass of the intoxicating liquid soothes the worries of the day. But does it? Tomorrow will come fresh with a splitting headache. Then where is the happiness from last night? Oh. It could be the viewing of those pornographic movies or erotic photos that stir some deep longing within. But is it truly satisfying? When does lust ever end for you?

It seems that the search for happiness is never quite fulfilled. Just one more brownie. One more drink. One more lottery ticket. One more exotic vacation. One more pair of shoes. But happiness is so fleeting. One day we’re happy. The next day we’re searching again. Does it ever end?

Sometimes too much of a good thing is just that. Too much. And too much of a bad thing is just that. It’s bad.

This past Thursday, we stuffed ourselves with a turkey feast and called ourselves thankful. Now we rush onto our Christmas shopping in order to make others happy. No longer do we differentiate between need and want. We just want our loved ones to be happy. So we buy their happiness in the name of Christ’s birth. Somehow it doesn’t translate. We’ve gotten our priorities so misplaced that we don’t know how to search for the true meaning of life. Yet we call ourselves blessed.


Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11


God has planted eternity in each of our hearts, and we’re all searching for it. Oh. The Thanksgiving feast was a momentary pleasure. The Christmas indulgence will soon be forgotten. We’re searching for something far more eternal than what money can buy. We just don’t recognize it. We’re looking in all the wrong places. We’re wasting our time and we won’t admit it. We become quickly dissatisfied with the things we thought would make us happy. But we find out that those things, too, are meaningless.

And yet. God has made everything beautiful for its own time. There is a time for beauty. And joy. And fulfillment. There is a time where our deepest longings will be satisfied.

We don’t realize that what we’re really looking for has always been right in front of us. Oh. Sometimes it’s veiled. At times, it’s misrepresented. And at other times, it’s simply ignored. In our searching for fulfillment, we must search deep within. We must realize that our longings don’t come about because of boredom or abuse. They come because we’re made for fellowship with our heavenly Father. And those longings can be so deeply satisfied if we allow ourselves to fall in love with our Creator. The Maker of our souls.

These longings that will never be satisfied this side of heaven can lead us down a dreadful path. We search in all the wrong places. And leave less fulfilled than when we started. It sometimes seems a never ending search. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can find fulfillment in God alone. But we must be willing to pay the price of giving up first place in our lives to everything else. Only then will we be content.

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.

C.S. Lewis

Sacrifice of Thanks

The Israelites lived a life of rituals. It was their lot in life. Mainly because God had commanded a life of physical and spiritual purity. There were many laws and customs that the Israelites were required to follow. Some were for keeping physically clean, most likely for health reasons. Other laws were for spiritual purposes. After all, the Promised Messiah had not been delivered to the earth, so they had no Savior. Their sins were forgiven by offering animal sacrifices.

And sometimes, it was easy to sin and just offer a sacrifice without being truly sorry for the wrong that was committed. Just kill a cow and your sin will be forgiven. That was the thought in some people’s minds. But God saw their hearts. He knew they weren’t truly sorry. And he called them out on it.

He reminded them that he owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns every bird on the mountains. So he doesn’t really need their sacrifices. He doesn’t let them know when he’s hungry, because he’s not human. He doesn’t need food to sustain himself. He needs their obedience and allegiance. He wants their sacrifice to be thankfulness. Their thankfulness emphasizes what God has done for them, not what they’ve done for God.

I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer. But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats? If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Psalms 50:8-14


And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2


Oh. How that still stings today. God sees our hearts. He knows our bent toward sinning. He sees the rituals that we cling to so we can call ourselves Christian. Sure. We go to church. We give our tithe. We volunteer to serve in church ministries.

But the question is. Are we offering our “rituals” with a pure heart? When we walk through the church doors on Sunday, are we there out of love and thankfulness? Are we there to worship God and stand in His presence? Are we there to fellowship with other believers? Or is it just a habit that we haven’t yet broken? Is it only a social gathering? When we tithe, is it because the bill is set to autopay without a second thought? Or do we give sacrificially because of our desire to help spread the gospel? Are we giving a gift of thanksgiving for God’s provision? When was the last time we asked ourselves if we were giving cheerfully or just out of duty? When we accept the cup and bread of communion, is it an act of reverence and honoring of Jesus’ broken body? Or is it a ritual we’ve come to expect on Sunday? Is it an impersonal act we perform without considering the sacrifice of God’s only Son on the cross for our sins? Do we perjure ourselves by presenting our unclean selves as holy before a God who knows our hearts?

If we’ve lost the joy of being a Christian, how can we turn our hearts around? How can we fall in love with giving our tithe and not feel like it’s a drain on our finances? How can we reclaim the deep burning desire to be in church worshipping with fellow believers every Sunday? What will it take to get excited about serving God in the church again? How do we reclaim the joy and thankfulness we experienced as new believers?

Perhaps it time to stop and renew our relationship with God. Perhaps our fire has burned out, because we’re not putting God first. If God cares so much about the animals, he cares much more about we who are made in his image. God does not need anything from us. He accepts our offerings. And our service. And our worship. He commands we honor him. But rituals won’t satisfy him. He wants our hearts. He wants our confession. He wants our obedience. Our allegiance. Our trust. He wants our full surrender to his will. He wants our sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Does he have it?

Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn. Deuteronomy 10:16

Thanksgiving Isn’t Just for the Good Times

Is it hard to be thankful this year? Have things not gone well for you? Did you have your heart set on a certain type of year, and it never materialized? Did everything that could possibly go wrong go wrong? Did all the goals you set for this year crumble at your feet? Do you feel like life is worse than it’s ever been?

Have you stopped at any point this year and looked for the good moments? Have you paused long enough to count your blessings?  Have you looked past the ugly and seen beauty? Even for a moment? After all. The daffodils bloomed in the spring. The lilacs and peonies still offered their sweet fragrance. The leaves on the trees didn’t fail to do their job.  The apple trees and grapevines produced their bountiful harvest. The sweet corn tousled. The wheat was harvested in the fall. Life went on, not as usual, but it continued.

Our country isn’t at war. And yet it is.  We’re at war with ourselves.  And it’s the worst battle we’ve ever faced. We face an uncertain future like never before. We’re unprepared. Yet God is in control. God’s will is being accomplished.  For that we must be thankful. For if we aren’t thankful that God is working during the tough times, why would we expect him to work in the good times? Where is our trust?

This year, chickens have produced eggs and cows have provided milk. The sun rose each morning and set each evening. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were served in most every home.  Every day. Life does go on.

Why does life have to be good in order for us to be joyful?


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:16-18


Some say that desperate times call for desperate measures.  How about we desperately seek God? How about desperately looking for things to be thankful for? How about desperately trying to please God? Above all else. 

Lest we think this year is wasted and useless, it is not.  It is far from that. Oh. It has been a trying year for many. But we have gained much from these daunting times. More time with our family. A slower pace of life. We’ve learned that there are storms we must sit back and wait out. We’ve learned there really are some things that are out of our control.  We’ve learned to just wait. We’ve realized the need for community is really a need. We’ve always taken it for granted. We’ve also taken for granted those who serve the sick and the poor, the needy and the lonely. Those workers are so needed and appreciated. Much more than they will ever know.

I thought 2020 would be the year I got everything I wanted. Now I know 2020 is the year I appreciate everything I have.

anonymous

We can learn to find joy in the smallest of things. Things we once took for granted. The chance to actually see someone smile without a mask. The fist bump from a friend.  The copier at work actually working. The neighbor stopping by to deliver chocolate chip cookies. The beautiful flowers sent by a dear friend. The unexpected nap on a rainy afternoon. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

It would be easy to focus on everything that went wrong this year. But if we just take a minute to search for what went right, our perspective on life will change. Oh. The future still seems uncertain. There are obstacles to recovery. But hope is on the horizon. Without hope, we might as well give up. But God is good, even when life isn’t. God is with us. In the midst of the trials and fears and uncertainty, God is true and certain. God is sovereign and powerful. He hates evil and loves good. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. For that we can be thankful. Let’s put our hope in him.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord ! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:17‭-‬19