The Workbook…

I have really enjoyed learning the art of smoking different foods for the past four years or so. I have had more time on my hands and as I move closer to retirement, I remember the days of my youth when my father would grill or barbecue in the back yard. I always cherished those times with him and learned a great deal about outdoor cooking. Mom was an excellent cook, really a chef, so when you combine all that I was exposed to, it’s no wonder that I am kind of creative with my recipes both in the kitchen and out in the yard.

Janet and I have owned a grill since the time we were married, forty nine years ago this summer. So it really wasn’t a surprise when I stepped up my game and got into smoking as a hobby, with her full support I am pleased to report. I have had a wonderful time making beef jerky, ribs, brisket, split pea soup, pulled pork and even white bean chili – all made in the smoker we have had for about a year. Before that, I had to use our gas grills, adding wood chips from time to time, to begin learning about the art of smoking. Believe me, it is much easier when you have the right equipment!

It’s really become kind of a “thing.” The kids and neighbors seem to like what comes off the smoker and I have even started “Scotty’s Smokehouse” – a sort of inside joke about everything I make as I continue to hone my chosen craft.

It’s even been a way to more closely interact with our grandchildren and I still get a kick when one of them calls me and asks for some special meal to be prepared. I’m a soft touch, I guess.

Anyway, I have been looking for a way to get deeper into the whole world of backyard smoking. To be sure, I’m not interested in competitions or anything like that. This is strictly personal growth and joy at being able to provide meals for our family get togethers.

Toward that end, I have been looking at various courses and videos that could provide a little more structure than the random way I have gone about learning for the past several years. And this past Father’s Day, Janet gave me the gift of a membership in The Grill Squad – a group of people who challenge one another and grow together under the guidance and care of a real barbecue pitmaster.

Unlike most other professionals in this field, who insist on doing things a certain specific way, Susie, the Pitmaster who started The Grill Squad, provides each member with workbooks, a structure and process to follow, with latitude for our individual differences. We can apply the lessons to our own situations, making meals that are in accordance with our family preferences. Please know that we don’t have the freedom to change Susie’s teaching, as there is a blueprint and structure to follow, but we do have the freedom to apply her foundational lessons to our own “cooks.”

I guess you could say that there are certain fundamental truths – the foundational stuff that every cook or chef has to learn. And then there are the areas that we can flex our creative “muscles” to apply our lessons in unique and different ways. It’s always great to see how people use their skills and their gifts to shine!

The Bible is very similar to the workbooks that I study for each course I take. As New Testament believers, the Bible contains the essence of love and justice that the Lord wants us to understand through His word. It is a blueprint that leaves room for our application of God’s word in our own lives. That doesn’t mean that we can change the essence of what the Lord is trying to tell us – the Bible is not subject to change – it is God’s word committed to writing by human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Many times we are surrounded by instructors who tell us how we have to act or behave – very legalistic – but the Bible isn’t like that. God wants us to be the best that we can be with the gifts that He has endowed each of us with. He teaches us with love! And the goal is to become more Christlike as we mature in our faith journey. In fact, we only have to accept the free gift of eternal life.

The verse for tonight is from the Psalms. In Psalm 32:8, the psalmist quotes us the words of God, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

My encouragement this evening is that God has provided us with a book that will help us be the best that we can be. It is the guiding light of our lives – the True North we are to follow. My prayer is that we will all study the workbook that the Lord has provided us – His Holy Bible. It is through learning His biblical truths and promises that we can become the best version of ourselves. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace….


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