Well, I owe an apology to my readers! I recently wrote an article entitled, "What's missing?" It was about the fact that sometime we leave some important things out in our relationship to Christ.

In that article, I used an example of a recipe I had received for peanut butter cookies that had no flour, baking powder or baking soda, things which are always included in cookie recipes. However, I received four responses from ladies who testified that it really was a complete recipe; it really worked, and it was really good. Two even sent me their recipe with slight variations. Well, I kind of had a "Doubting Thomas" moment about the cookies, but I promised them I would try them anyway.

Last night, my wife was working late. It was just the dog and me at home. So I baked peanut butter cookies. I have to tell you that I was really unprepared for the results. It is not the way my momma made cookies. I didn't think it would work at all. I mixed up the ingredients according to the recipe — just the four of them — and stuck them in the oven and didn't look at them for a few minutes. I was prepared to see little melted globs of sugar on the cookie sheet and quite unprepared to see anything that resembled a real peanut butter cookie. However, I am willing to admit that I was completely wrong with my preconceived assumptions. What came out of the oven was almost impossible to tell from a peanut butter cookie made with a traditional cookie recipe. It wasn't the way my momma did it, but it was correct anyway.

Jesus had, and still has, a similar problem with people and their acceptance of his teaching. The Pharisees and religious leaders rejected him and his teachings because they went against the "traditions of the fathers." It didn't really matter that the Old Testament Scriptures foretold him and everything he did. It really didn't matter that he did miracles that no mortal man could do. They had preconceived assumptions about what was the right way to serve God based upon what their Fathers had believed and done in the past. They assumed that if they believed that Jesus was who he said he was, then they were saying that their fathers and their traditions and their core beliefs were wrong. They were unwilling to do or believe anything that questioned what they had been taught. Because of that, they missed the Jesus, the Messiah, the Lord, the Hope of glory.

OK, what's the point?

I'm not trying to tell you that you need to change what you believe or think because of anything I write. I'm just asking that you don't live your life based upon preconceived assumptions. Just because it's not the way your momma or papa did it doesn't mean it's wrong. God and his words are the basis of judgment (John 12:48-49). Jesus, the one anticipated by the Scriptures, is the only source of life (John 5:39-40). We don't want to be the people Jesus talks about at the end of the Sermon on the Mount when he says:

Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?" Then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers." (Matthew 7:21-23 NRS)

I am examining my preconceived assumptions.
I sit here writing this while munching my peanut butter cookie made without flour or other traditional ingredients. I am also examining my life and my preconceived assumptions, especially my assumptions about Jesus. I have learned a lot from my mother and father, but the most important lesson I learned is not to be afraid to question things.

Why do I do what I do, why do I believe what I believe? We're nearing the end of the season when we plow through the holidays saying and singing and thinking the same ol' things about Jesus. Why don't you join me in going back one last time to that story and hear it fresh as if it is the first time you've heard it? Why not challenge yourself to find something new and fresh and challenging that you've never found in the Jesus story before? Why not commit to follow him completely and follow his will and not your own this coming year? Why not start the New Year with a new outlook on life centered on the fresh words and new life of Jesus?