Angel in the Kitchen: Of People, Pizza, and a Pretty Pooch! or “It’s Different!”

Share

Several years ago we adopted a gorgeous Shetland Sheepdog from a breeder and trainer. Misty, as we renamed her, was more used to being confined long hours in a crate than to having the run of the house. She also was used to certain foods and routines. Now that Misty was living with us, she needed to adjust to new things and new ways and, mainly, having more freedom. Misty needed to get used to every thing being different. But her period of adjustment took over a year; for months, each new room she encountered in our home seemed to unnerve her. She tended to hang out in only one room, and typically a certain corner of that room. When we’d walk into a different room, Misty acted like she wanted to follow us, but she would refuse to enter new territory.

Want to sit on the sofa with us, Misty? Just long enough to get a family photo? Not really. Want to go for a walk in the woods, Misty? Um, lemme think about it — I’ve never gone down this particular trail, and it’s … well, it’s different!

Eventually, using lots of love and patience, we coaxed Misty out of her shell, and got her used to embracing new experiences. But until then, whenever Misty encountered something she wasn’t familiar with, we’d chuckle and say in unison — in a cute, playful tone, as though Misty herself were saying the words“It’s different!”

We’ve met people who have the same outlook on life as our pooch. We know someone who loves Tex-Mex cuisine, and has dined at some pretty authentic Mexican restaurants. This person KNOWS what a good chile relleno tastes like … with Spanish rice and fresh guacamole. And so do we. We frequent this little cafe where the whole staff speaks Spanish and the food is as authentic as it gets. However, there also are times we’ve been in a hurry and stopped at Taco Bell. The food is far from authentic; it’s handed to us through a window, usually by a young gringo working his way through college; and it’s served in paper wrappers or styrofoam containers. IT. IS. NOT. AUTHENTIC! But know what? It’s tasty! Really tasty! It doesn’t taste like what we’re used to getting at that little Mexican cafe, but does it need to? It’s good, all the same. It’s just different. Alas, that “someone” we mentioned — who KNOWS good Tex-Mex — would rather do without than eat at Taco Bell.

Pizza is another food that suffers from the “It’s different!” mentality. We love authentic New York style pizza, and especially from this wonderful Italian restaurant where all the waiters speak broken English to us and Italian to each other. Hey, when in Rome…. But we are not pizza snobs! We’ll also eat and enjoy Chicago style pizza, Dominos takeout, “thin and crispy” ones from Pizza Hut, and even frozen “pizza” from the grocery store. Of course, each of these pizza experiences is different, and if we insist on comparing one to another, some of these pizzas are going to come up short. Personally, we don’t think a cheap microwave pizza tastes anything like the one we get from our Italian place. But does it need to? As a TV snack, it’s not bad at all. It’s just different.

Different shouldn’t automatically translate as “not as good as” or “bad”! Different is … just different. But we live in a world where people are constantly comparing — everything! We compare (and rate) foods, movies, books, ministries, churches and people, to list only a few. And like our maladjusted pooch Misty, when we encounter something that’s new or different, something we’re not used to, something not like what we were expecting, many of us give it a low score, often needlessly. We compare it to what we know, like, want, and expect; and when we realize “it’s different!” we devalue it and may want nothing more to do with it.

We’ve listened to ministers who pace the floor and shout, wave their hands and work up a sweat while preaching the Word of God. We’ve also listened to ministers who stand behind a podium, calmly and softly teaching from the Bible. And we’ve heard everything in between. These ministers are different. Do we need to compare them as though they were frozen pizzas? Despite being different, each has something to bring to the table; each presents the Word of God with a unique flavor.

Let’s be bold — and fair! Let’s approach the different and the unfamiliar with a spirit of adventure — and evaluate every experience based upon its own merits, not on the merits of something or someone else. Don’t assume that because “it’s different” that it’s not as good, especially when dealing with people. Different cultures, different denominations, different ethnicities, different styles, different likes and dislikes. It’s all good, even if “it’s different!” Remember, Jesus said, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (John 7:24 NLT)

Share

Diet for Dreamers: A Formula for Fulfilling Your Dreams

Share

What did the successful Chick-fil-A entrepreneur S. Truett Cathy have in common with David, the Biblical King of Israel?

King David was a warrior, a diplomat, a musician and a poet. He was a model of brilliant leadership, both on and off the battlefield. He led the Israelites to numerous victories, and strengthened the kingdom of God’s people. Today, he is considered the greatest King Israel ever had.

S. Cathy Truett (March 14, 1921-September 8, 2014) founded the phenomenally successful fast food company Chick-fil-A in 1948. Today, the company is the leading fast food chicken chain in  America, with more than 1800 restaurants operating throughout the southeastern United States, and over 5 billion in annual revenues. Cathy accomplished this feat using an unusual business model grounded by his deep Southern Baptist beliefs: he promoted people over product, and he put God first in everything. Cathy’s decision to close his restaurants on Sundays drew criticism from some diners, and even pressure from other businesses, but the entrepreneur frequently stated he wanted his employees to be able to enjoy their Sundays, spending time with their families and attending church if they chose to do so. The entrepreneur’s beliefs often came under attack as well, because he was outspoken and refused to compromise the basic principles taught in the Bible.

Although he missed sales opportunities by being closed on Sundays, and lost a few customers by standing up for God’s Word, Cathy nevertheless prospered … tremendously. When he passed away, the entrepreneur had an estimated net worth of roughly $1.2 billion. But again, he never put money before God and people: he funded countless charities, and he took good care of his employees, who benefitted from a college scholarship program and several other perks.

Cathy had his priorities straight: God came first in his life — in every area; he stayed tuned in to God’s truths; and he never strayed from doing what’s right according to God’s Word. These are qualities he shared with King David, “a man after God’s own heart,” and they provide us with the perfect formula for success:

1. Stay plugged in to God and His truths; and refuse to compromise His principles or take an easy out by siding with those who choose to disagree with God’s Word. The Bible teaches, “Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers. Rather, he delights in the teachings of the LORD and reflects on his teachings day and night. He is like a tree … that produces fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. He succeeds in everything he does.” (Psalm 1:1-3 GOD’S WORD) Part of staying plugged in is:

2. Renew your mind. We need to flush out the negative, selfish, fearful, faithless thoughts we collect each day by “washing” our overtaxed brains with the Word of God. This means reading the Bible and meditating on (thinking about) what it teaches. “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Joshua 1:8 NLT) After all, we ARE what we think we are. Are we down-and-out losers or I-can-do-all-things-through-Christ winners? “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”  (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)

3. Talk to God. Thank Him for what He’s done for you; praise Him for who He is; then share your hopes and dreams, your problems and fears. “Commit your way to the LORD; Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (Psalm 37:5 NASB) King David met with God the first thing every morning, demonstrating that although he had a busy schedule, he was putting God first. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee….” {A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness…} (Psalm 63:1 King James Bible)

4. Keep God as your first love — not your success, money or fame; not your goals or unfulfilled dreams. These things will fall into place, once your priorities are straight. “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 ESV)

Want to achieve your goals and realize your dreams? Then put God first in all things. Seek to be pleasing in His sight and to do His will. That’s God’s formula for success! “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV)

Share