Just Follow the Recipe! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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We recently discussed the many similarities between a cookbook and the Bible. For instance, cookbooks are collections of recipes created to help us prepare successful meals; the Bible is a book of “recipes” created to help us prepare for a successful life. The recipes in most cookbooks were actually tested in the kitchen of the author. God is the author of the Bible, and He’s tested all His “recipes” in the kitchen of life! Interestingly, the standard format for culinary recipes is not much different from the format of the successful life recipes God gives us in His holy Word.

The standard format for a cookbook recipe really should be a no-brainer, but it wasn’t until the Victorian era that a writer struck upon the idea. Between 1857 and 1861, Mrs. Isabella Beeton wrote 24 installments of a guide to maintaining a proper home. She later collected and published these as Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, a monstrous volume of over 1100 pages. Her hardcover hulk contained 900 recipes, so readers often referred to it as “Mrs. Beeton’s Cookbook.” It was the first cookbook to establish a logical format for recipes, which is still used today.

Recipes, in order for the reader to easily follow them, and not leave out any steps or ingredients, should be formatted as follows:  1) a list of all ingredients needed — and their specific measurements or quantities — and  2) the precise steps to follow while preparing the recipe — in the exact order the steps must be performed! Try to prepare a dessert that leaves out an important ingredient, such as “a tablespoon of vanilla extract” and, unless you’re a mind-reader, you’ll end up with something very different from what you set out to make. And if you frequently use cookbooks, you probably already know how frustrating it is to be following the directions
of a recipe, and realize a step is missing or out of order. If we’re supposed to add melted butter to beaten egg whites, please don’t wait to tell us to beat the eggs AFTER we’ve already melted the butter — or we might decide to just beat you instead.

The God of the Universe knows that “all things should be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40) In His Word, He lists all the ingredients you need to have success in every area of life. And He lists the steps we must follow in the proper order. God’s recipes for peace, contentment, security and success are properly “formatted”! Below is an example.

God’s recipe for Keeping Our Priorities Straight (with all the ingredients and steps in order):

1. You must love the LORD your God
a. with all your heart,
b. all your soul,
c. and all your mind.

This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important:
2. Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.
(Matthew 22:37-39 NLT) [This one “recipe” follows the same order as the Ten Commandments: the initial commandments deal with our relationship with God the Father; the remaining commandments deal with our relationships with those around us. Read it and see!]

3. …First, be concerned about:
a. His kingdom and
b. what has His approval.
c. Then all these things will be provided for you.
(Matthew 6:33 GOD’S WORD)

4. a. Trust in the LORD and do good;
b. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

5. a. Delight yourself in the LORD;
b. And He will give you the desires of your heart.
(Psalm 37:4 NASB)

6. So place yourselves under God’s authority.
7. a. Resist the devil,
b. and he will run away from you.
8. a. Come close to God,
b. and he will come close to you.
(James 4:7-8 GOD’S WORD)

Follow this recipe and then God and His desires will be the focus of your life. You’ll keep your priorities in order — something which will be reflected in how you start your day and spend your time, as well as your talents and resources. Follow this recipe and you’ll be cooking up some good success in all you do.

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Wanna See Something REALLY Weird? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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We’ve discussed in three previous installments the mystique of cookbooks, and compared certain aspects of the cookbook to the Bible. Before we shelve this topic, we want to cover the subject of unusual if not downright WEIRD cookbooks.

We mentioned in our last post that a group of science fiction authors, not the usual type of people who write cookbooks, collaborated on a collection of recipes and called it Cooking Out of this World. And like the plots in many of their novels, some of these recipes were pretty far-fetched. “Old Prospector’s Coffee” was totally outrageous, and the creator of that one humorously warned readers NOT to drink this nasty brew. But as far as bizarre cookbooks are concerned, this compilation of SF-related recipes was fairly run-of-the-mill.

Sometimes the thing that makes a cookbook truly weird, is it’s author. The renowned stage and film actor Vincent Price, who was unfairly typecast as the evil, often monstrous villain in a long string of horror movies, loved to cook and collect recipes from the many places he visited. Seeing the name of the man who scared us silly in such classics as The House on Haunted Hill and The Tingler, on the cover of a “book of cookery” seems a little bizarre — at first glance; but Price was a gentle and refined soul who loved good food, and was nothing like the “creepers” he portrayed.

We’re not sure we can say the same of John Poister’s The Pyromaniac’s Cookbook.  The author suggests that everything tastes better after you set it on fire. Seriously? Apart from recipes compiled by questionable cooks, there are also those that call for some rather nasty ingredients. We’re not fans of creepy-crawlies, so The Eat a Bug Cookbook: Real Recipes Using Beetles, Spiders, and Other Truly Unusual Ingredients, by David George Gordon, sends shivers up our spines — as well as feelings of nausea. Not quite as bad, but just as unappetizing, is “Buck” Peterson’s The Original Roadkill Cookbook, which features recipes for such “delicacies” as “Pavement Possum”! Since we have no desire to ever try these dishes, we’ll never know if they taste BAD; but we do know they are in BAD taste!

There are also several legitimate cookbooks out there that just SOUND bad. Cooking with Poo is one. It’s written by Saiyuud Diwong, and actually has nothing to do with what first comes to most minds — Khun Poo runs a famous Thai cooking school. And there are also cookbooks that call for unconventional cooking methods, such as Manifold Destiny, written by Chris Maynard and featuring recipes you cook on a hot automobile engine block!

There are plenty of other crazy cookbooks out there. Some are in such poor taste as to not be worth mentioning. And yeah, we KNOW that many of these are simply designed to be funny. But when there’s a really bad cookbook, written by someone who’s not a good cook and often not at all serious about food or its preparation, it can — pardon the pun — leave a bad taste in the reader’s mouth. Even with legitimate cookbooks, if the recipes are too time-consuming or difficult to prepare, if they call for ingredients that are too exotic or too expensive, and if the resultant dish isn’t very palatable, it can be a real turnoff to people who genuinely want to learn more about the kitchen, cooking and different foods. Word of advice to would-be cookbook writers who know nothing about GOOD cooking: leave the subject alone. Please find another way to make your friends nauseous. We don’t need any more spurious recipes.

Haha, yeah, whatever.

The same can be said of the Bible. If you’re writing or speaking about God’s doctrines, be sure you yourself fully understand the truth of His Word. Be careful not to turn people off to the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. Be a “sound copy” of God’s message, a “living epistle,” as the Apostle Paul called it. Face it, we’re the only “Bibles” some people will ever “read”!

And if you’re searching for information about God, read the ONLY “authorized” book on the subject — The Bible. Don’t take people’s opinions as gospel. Don’t take single passages of the Scriptures out of context. Don’t over emphasize a single verse, or try to use it to justify a bizarre doctrine or fringe denomination. Don’t listen to the half-truths of cults composed of misguided people. Don’t ignore a clear verse in order to be politically correct or to justify some personal philosophy you have. And please, don’t consult works of fiction, such as The Da Vinci Code, for truths about the Living God.

The best cooks learned from other good cooks.

Oh, and one last thing: it’s hard to learn how to cook just by consulting a cookbook. The best cooks learned from other good cooks. So find someone who’s learned to “rightly divide the Word of God” — and learn from them. Pastors, Priests, Rabbis, Missionaries and Sunday School Teachers are a great place to start. These people “hold classes” in churches and synagogues, and use The Bible as their textbook. These people can cook!

“Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that … some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1 NLT) “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” (Hebrews 13:9 NIV)  “Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing.” (2 Peter 3:17 NLT)

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