Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Marinating in Jesus

Dear Friends,

It’s Barbecue Season! Some of us have been ordained by official family decree to be the authorized barbequer in our backyard. And, whether we're powered by propane or we're believers in briquettes, we can all agree that preparation and technique is the key to delicious mouth-watering barbecue.

Any backyard barbecue chef knows that one of the secrets to turning an ordinary piece of meat into a culinary masterpiece is the marinade. And, one day as I was writing out my favorite recipe for Tex-Mex BBQ, I realized that I too am "Marinating in Jesus!"

What a wonderful metaphor to describe the process known as sanctification! Sanctification begins the moment we accept Jesus into our hearts. It literally means to be set apart to a sacred purpose as we mature spiritually in divine grace. It is becoming more Christ-like in thought, word and deed. So how does that relate to cooking?

When you marinate a piece of meat you are adding flavor to it. But a tough old piece of meat can't absorb any of the flavoring. So, the first thing the marinade does is to break down the hard fibers of the meat until it becomes tender and absorbent.

Our human nature can resemble that old tough piece of meat! We live our lives within a protective framework woven from our past experiences of disappointments, hurts, and rejections. This protective shell insulates from further hurts but can hinder our relationship with God and with others. We become busy, anxious, troubled, temporal and distracted. We have no time for God and our heart can become hard and impenetrable. In the process of sanctification, the Holy Spirit must first bring us to a place where this tightly woven shell begins to break down and our hard hearts begin to soften.

See, our tough steak becomes tender and tasty only after the  hard fibers have been broken down by the marinade so that the transfer of flavor can begin. Now, like a thirsty sponge, the meat pulls the flavoring into every fiber, and our once plain steak becomes saturated with the surrounding liquid. The flavor of the marinade actually over-comes and overtakes the original flavor of the meat until each and every tender morsel takes on the characteristics of the marinade.

Under the power of the Holy Spirit, when our hard shell begins to crack and soften, the character and flavor of Jesus begins to flow into every fiber of our mortal being until we are saturated with the characteristics of our “Divine Marinade,” Jesus Christ.

How can we get more of Jesus in our lives?  Well, when we want that tough old steak to soften and take on the full characteristics of the marinade, we don't just dip a corner of the steak in the sauce. We fully immerse it! And we don't just immerse it for a few minutes! No way! We immerse it for many hours knowing that the longer it is immersed, the more tender and the more flavorful it will become!

When we spend time with Jesus our Savior, fully immersed in Him, we are saying, "Break down the walls surrounding my hard heart, O Lord." Immersed in Him, we find ourselves eagerly absorbing His will for our lives. And, immersed in Him we are inviting Him to fill every nook and cranny of our being.

As we marinate in Jesus, we take on His Godly characteristics until His "flavor" overcomes the natural characteristics of our flesh and we become fully saturated with His Glory! That's the process known as "sanctification." That's Marinating in Jesus!!  Amen?

Pastor John’s Favorite Tex-Mex Barbecue Recipe

1 ½ pounds of beef flank steaks
1 cup of Pace Picante Sauce
¼ cup of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of lemon or lime juice
2 cloves of garlic squeezed through a press

Poke holes all over both sides of flank steak with a fork.   
Throughly combine all the other ingredients to make the marinade.
Set aside ½ of the marinade in refrigerator to baste meat with.
Put beef and rest of the marinade in covered dish or tightly sealed zip-lock bag and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.  
Turn the meat over a couple of times while it's in the refrigerator.  
Barbeque meat over medium-hot coals basting frequently with the reserved marinade.  
To serve, slice across the grain in thin slices.