There is no substitution for the real thing.
It was supposed to be a perfect day. Many of the people I loved were coming over for brunch and I could not be filled with any more joy. I lovingly laid out the china and crystal and then prepared a menu that would make everyone feel treasured—crab eggs benedict, crepes and a host of everyone’s favorite dishes including the famous 50 Yard Line mini blueberry muffins.
As I mixed and poured, I just imaged the excitement on everyone’s faces as dish after dish was revealed (my people really like food if you haven’t guessed.) Now, the secret to the amazing muffins is two things—small blueberries and butavan. Imagine my panic when I went to the pantry and realized the butavan was gone. We could digress into a game of finger pointing here, but I remembered I had found a butter vanilla emulsion (essentially butavan) at another store that I had picked up some time ago. All was well in the world.
Now, since I was using a substitute, I added just a wee bit more than normal—plus finishing the bottle meant I could throw it away and pretend the substitution never happened. I continued on and pulled out the first batch. I had some of my super special farm churned butter that I slathered on for my first taste. I smiled as I sunk my teeth in…and then spit it out. It tasted like plastic. Ok. I can make this work. I added more butter and sugar to the remaining batter. Fat and sugar fixes a multitude of woes…but not this one. The second batch came out slightly less plasticly than the first, but still not edible. I tossed them all.
Here’s the truth, my friends. There is no substitute for butavan.
We are in a season right now where we are surrounded by counterfeit “butavans” that are screaming for our attention. There are parties, obligations, expectations, gifts to give, presents to wrap and garland that needs to be hung. It’s a season with a LOT of good things, but it is a season where those good things can easily slip into the role of the ultimate thing.
James 4:1-10 can step on a lot of toes. It starts with the question, “what causes fights and quarrels among you?” and then answers the question—a tension within causes an unrest in your soul. If you are like me, you try to cover the unrest with MORE. MORE of the good things—more parties, more shopping, more of EVERYTHING that is supposed to make for a “perfect” Christmas. However, as James not-so-gently tells us, it is those very things that are causing the tension.
Kelly Minter boldly calls them false gods and then explains, “modern day idols are created when a good thing turns into an ultimate thing,” and she continued, “regardless of how detestable or presentable our false gods are, they edge God out to the perimeters of our heart.
Just look at Exodus 20:3-5. The first two commandments basically say the same thing—there is ONE true God and you should serve no other. There is even a promise of a blessing attached with this that God will, “show love to a thousand generations of those who keep my commandments.”
If you are refereeing your sixth fight of the day, looking at your bank account and stressed over how you are going to buy gifts or sitting at home being angry over a family member who is “wrecking your Christmas,” there is a straightforward solution found in James 4:8—
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
God says He is a jealous God and frankly, that makes me a bit uncomfortable, until I put it in context. He wants to exist at the very center of our being. Why? Because then His gifts can radiate throughout us and cover every aspect of our lives.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Guys, please don’t judge me. I have always loved Jesus, but there was a time in my life that perfectionism sat on the throne of my heart. I thought I was serving the Lord by doing everything perfectly. My good thing became an ultimate thing and you could see it because like James 4:1 said, there was unrest in the soul.
However, on Thanksgiving morning, I just laughed as I threw away the muffins and thanked the Lord for another reminder that there is no substitute for the real thing. I was easily able to pull two can of cinnamon rolls out of the ‘fridge. A few days earlier, I had thrown them into my basket at the store while asking myself, “why am I getting these? I don’t need them.” However, God knows all things and direct your footsteps—even in simple things like grabbing a can of cinnamon rolls—if we will allow Him.
Guys, let’s get together and make this season about truth. Let’s put CHRIST at the front and center of Christmas and have a season of true peace. For truly, that is a beautiful gift.
May the Lord surround you right now with His arms of comfort. May you experience a warmth that permeated every cell of your body as you gain the confidence and the courage to “draw near to Him.”
P.S. In the spirit of giving, I’m giving you a gift recommendation (for yourself) and the recipe for the infamous blueberry muffins.
Gift recommendation: Kelly Minter’s “No Other Gods: the Unrivaled Pursuit of God” workbook. The videos can be rented, but the workbook is a true gem in and of itself and stands independent of the videos.
Give this to yourself. Give this to your friends. Give this to the lady in front of you at the grocery store who right as she starts checking out has two other people bring her 3 baskets filled to the brim. Giving her this book will help you keep a happy heart—plus you can review Session 5 Day 5 “We love best when we love God most” as you wait the 30 minutes for her to checkout…
And we can’t forget the:
1 stick butter
1 T oil
1 beaten egg
1 can Wyman’s of Maine wild blueberries plus 1/2 the juice (You can thaw frozen as well, but the key to great mini muffins is these SMALL blueberries
1/2 c buttermilk (I usually make my own with full fat milk and vinegar)
2 1/2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1. Mix butter, oil, egg and buttermilk.
2. Add in dry ingredients
3. Add butavan and blueberries
4. Place in greased mini muffin tin and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.