Got A Light? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Have you ever had trouble finding something in a kitchen cabinet because all the labels were shrouded in shadows? Have you ever scrubbed furiously to remove a stain from a dinner plate, only to realize later that it’s a blemish in the plate itself? Have you ever had difficultly reading a cookbook laid open on the kitchen countertop? Responding yes to any of these questions could be an indication that your kitchen has insufficient lighting.

Ah, there’s nothing as romantic as a candlelight dinner — even if you can’t see the food on your plate. “HEY! You’re about to eat the cork from the wine bottle.”

Assuming there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight, the lights in your kitchen may be too few, or improperly placed, or simply not emitting enough bright light. And most cooks agree, there’s nothing more frustrating than working in a dimly lit kitchen where you can’t see what you’re doing.

You can have the latest, most expensive “designer kitchen,” but if it’s poorly lit, you’ve just wasted your money. You won’t be able to see which spices you’re sprinkling into the soup, or how badly you’re bleeding after accidentily slicing open your finger while dicing onions … because you couldn’t see!

Let there be light!

A great kitchen has lights everywhere: over the stove, over the sink, above every foot of counterspace. And if you have an island, over that too. There are even lights for UNDER the counters and INSIDE the cabinets! You need to be able to see what’s lurking under the sink! But lights aren’t just for function. Good lighting adds to the esthetics of both the kitchen and dining area. In fact, a handsome light fixture properly positioned above the table, such as a chandelier, is just as important as your place-settings and centerpiece.

Form and function. Lights are useful tools that add beauty to life. It’s close to impossible to get along without light; but light is something you rarely think about until you have to do without it. Living in the woods of New Kent, we’ve had many occassions when we lost power. And when it gets dark in the woods … IT REALLY GET’S DARK! So we’ve stocked up on candles, flashlights, and hurricane lamps. Sitting in the dark is no fun, and a world without light would be a dark and gloomy place.

In society, light promotes safety and order. (If you don’t believe this, read your history: people seem to go crazy during blackouts in major metropolitan areas. When the light goes out, the looting and vandalism starts.) Lights illuminate and guide our way. (Streetlamps and fluorescent signs.) They control and direct traffic, further ensuring order. (Traffic and crossing lights.) We could go on, but we think you get the point.

The Bible explains that God and His holy Word are the ultimate source of Spiritual Light.  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John  8:12 NLT) “Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NLT)

This Divine Spiritual Light serves the same purpose as natural and man-made lights: it illuminates the truth and guides our ways; it brings beauty to life; it promotes order and safety; it directs all human activity. And without God’s Word, this world would be a dark and gloomy place. Funny thing is, just like natural and man-made lights, we often don’t miss the illuminating, organizing, cheering, reassuring, and safety-promoting effects of God’s Word until it’s taken away from society. People living in countries where Judeo-Christian beliefs have been banned, know this truth well.

One last thought: When the sun goes down and the house grows dark, we switch on a light. Flashlights and candles bring light into the darkest corners of a room. In life, we’re to be God’s spiritual flashlights and candles, helping to dispel darkness wherever we go. In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His followers, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see….” (Matthew 5:14-16 NLT)

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What’s Stewing? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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What’s cookin’? A stew! Stews (and stewing) are as old as cooking. A Roman cookbook published during the 4th century AD mentions stew; but most of us know of an even earlier reference to the dish, in the Biblical book of Genesis, which historians believe was written between 1410 and 1450 BC. As recorded in Genesis 25:27-34, an apparently extremely hungry Esau — who also was apparently extremely short-sighted — sold his Jewish birthright to his younger brother, Jacob — for a bowl of meat and lentil stew. Esau thereby gave up pretty much everything that counted in his culture, but hey, can we really blame him? After all, we’re talking about STEW here: a tender, savory mixture of meat, fish, or poultry, and assorted vegetables — cooked with a little water for an extended period over a low heat. Stewing foods means that the cook brings them to a slow boil, and then allows them to simmer. Meats and veggies stew in their own juices, allowing the flavors to truly blend and seep in. Meats are suffused with the aromatic flavors of spices and fresh veggies, such as onions, peas and carrots. Hungry yet? Well don’t forget that rich brown gravy that envelopes most stews! Mmmm!

There’s another definition of the verb STEW: to worry, to sulk or to fuss. And as with the culinary definition, performing this “action” yields similar results: a stew! In this sense, a stew means a state of agitation, uneasiness, or worry. Interestingly, the emotional “cooking” process is pretty much the same. A mixture of different, and often conflicting, thoughts and feelings fill our minds, and we allow these thoughts to simmer. For an extended period. Over a low heat, as our emotions come to a boil. The results of our stewing are that feelings of fear, hurt, doubt, and anger blend together and seep in — deeply! The results, however, are far from pleasing.

We’re all familiar with the idiom “to stew in one’s own juice”; but when we do this, negative thoughts and emotions penetrate deeper and deeper, the way spices penetrate and suffuse stewed beef. Hurts, when allowed to simmer in our hearts, can suffuse our attitude toward every situation and every one. Anger, after a long period of stewing, can lead to bitterness and an inability to forgive. When we allow worry to simmer in our thoughts, we eventually become nervous wrecks. And fear? Allow fear to simmer very long with your other emotions, and soon its horrid flavor will taint your entire outlook on life. In any of these scenarios, we’re essentially “cooking” our own hearts and minds, only this emotional stew doesn’t produce tender results.

God doesn’t want us stewing over stuff. That’s why he admonishes us to take several important steps. For instance, are you mad about something? Are you upset with someone? “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26 NLT) Meaning: resolve your issues and/or turn the situation over to God, trusting Him to heal your hurts. In other words, get over it before the day is done, so that you can move forward.

Are you facing big problems or issues that have you worried? “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT) Hey, this verse says it all. Besides, worrying accomplishes nothing but a sour stomach.

Fearful? “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NLT) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

Has someone hurt you? “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” (Roman 12:14 NLT) Stop stewing, before all the wrong juices seep into your soul. “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” (Hebrews 12:15 NLT)

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