Make Life Sweet! (Angel in the Kitchen)


Hey, sugar! No, not you! We certainly hope you’re a sweet person, but today we’re referring to that granulated stuff on the kitchen counter: table sugar; brown sugar, confectioners sugar … shoog-er! (Ah, honey, honey!) Sugar is one of those things that make life more enjoyable. If you’ve had a hard day, there’s nothing quite like something sweet to bring a little cheer. And sugar manages to find itself in a variety of foods, including items you’d never suspect, such as canned green beans!

Sugar dates back to ancient times, but because it wasn’t always plentiful or affordable, most people sweetened with honey, instead. But now sugar is everywhere. In fact, the world produces over 200 million metric tons of sugar each year. And the average person consumes about 53 pounds (24 kilograms) of it annually. Face it, we prefer things in life be sweet.

One morning we were about to have our extra-dark coffee, along with our daily time of praise and worship, and we got an eye-opening revelation: we forgot the sugar! We both took one sip of the brew and then made faces at each other. It was bitter as quinine! Not that either of us has ever tasted quinine, mind you, but it is a familiar expression. How can something so tasty WITH sugar be so horrible WITHOUT it? Now, we know some of you probably do like it black, but we prefer a teaspoon of sugar. Or honey. Or Splenda. Or Stevia. Or SOMETHING!

There’s a lot of truth to the song actress Julie Andrews sang in Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins: “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down!” And ya know what? Love is the spiritual sugar of life! A little love can help us swallow even the most bitter pills of everyday existence. This is important to remember. If you’ve ever had to confront someone with the truth, then you probably know this. The unvarnished truth can be painful. Truth forces us to face facts … about ourselves and our choices. Truth — in essence, the Word of God — is like a brightly lit mirror that exposes all our flaws. And a little reassurance in the form of love makes facing the truth much easier to handle! That’s why the Bible commands us to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)

Part of speaking the truth is sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. By all means, do this in love. After all, God is Love (1 John 4:7), and salvation is about His love for us. (John 3:16) We need to be able to communicate this love in our attitudes and actions, as well as in our words. As a matter of fact, everything we do — whether correcting a child or discussing a problem (or a controversial issue) with a spouse, friend, or coworker — should always be done in love. No matter how right you are, no matter how justified your actions, if you fail to respond in love, then you lose the “high ground”! Hence, there’s a good chance you’ll lose the “argument” — so to speak.

If you confront someone with the truth, but do it in anger, that person will mostly see only your anger. You may be right, but you get no points because you lost control. And if the other guy stays calm, guess who looks “wrong” in this situation? Of course, we should never approach sharing truth as an opportunity to be right. Getting out the truth isn’t about “Aha, I’m right and you’re wrong!” That’s PRIDE! God wants us to share the truth in LOVE — not pride. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2 NIV)

So, walk in love — and humility. As the old saying goes: “You can attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.” Love will win people over, not anger or arrogance. Be a sweet soul, not a bitter or sour one. Get God’s sugar — er, love — in your heart and life. “…Above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 King James 2000)


Of Rice and Relationships (Angel in the Kitchen)


We caused quite a stir with a previous article, “A Stirring Message,” in which we discussed the importance of stirring things up: certain foods
and beverages require stirring to obtain the proper flavor and consistency; similarly, each of us should “stir up” the gifts and talents God has bestowed, in order to bring out our best and most consistent qualities.
However, when it comes to certain methods of cooking, we get the best results by NOT stirring! For example, good cooks agree that if you want to prepare rice that’s fluffy, not gooey and sticky, the secret to success is simple: don’t stir the pot!

Rice is a staple food in numerous countries, including the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, respectively the birthplaces of Wilma’s father and mother. In their cultures, serving sticky rice is an unpardonable sin, which is why Wilma’s Mamita taught her the secret to good rice: fill the pot with just enough water to cover the rice, bring the water to a boil, add the rice, reduce the heat, cover it — and then leave it alone! Do. Not. Stir. It!

Stirring the rice mixture will upset the proper balance of steam, and also cause the release of excess starch (which results in the grains becoming gooey and sticking together). But for many cooks, following this simple tip is easier said than done. Some of us just can’t resist removing the lid and stirring things up! The same can be said of our relationships. The secret to success in all social interactions is simple: don’t stir the pot! Ignoring this basic truth can lead to some sticky situations and generally makes a (gooey) mess of things.

The well-known idiom “stirring the pot” can be defined as: promoting feelings of annoyance, agitation or dissatisfaction; by encouraging tension and conflict between two or more people — or groups of people — in order to make trouble or to elicit a strong emotional reaction. Simply put, “stirring the pot” involves any words or actions intended to get someone emotionally worked up!

We all know someone in life, next door, at the job, down the street, who seems to take great pleasure in stirring things up. They revel in creating strife, division, and needless drama. Sometimes these people are just bored, so they try to liven things up at someone else’s expense. Sometimes the “pot stirrer” has more selfish reasons, and hopes to gain some advantage over another person. Sometimes, however, there are more devious psychological motivations at work. For instance, because “misery loves company,” a discontented person will do his best to stir up discontent.

Really? How sad.

Pot stirring can take many forms, such as teasing or “joking” about an emotionally painful relationship or situation; making provocative statements intended to fuel the flames of discord; or … repeating gossip!

Spreading rumors — or simply repeating the news about someone’s problems, setbacks, and relational confrontations — can stir up more bitterness, more strife and more division. It also hinders God’s ability to heal emotional wounds and bring unity.

The Bible gives a strong warning to would-be pot stirrers: “There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven: haughtiness, lying, murdering, plotting evil, eagerness to do wrong, a false witness, sowing discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19 TLB) This, of course, is not an all-inclusive list of the actions and attitudes that grieve our Lord. But interestingly, stated together in this single verse, are several offenses which clearly define the act of stirring the pot. And if God “hates” these thIngs, we can assume that He does not prosper the pot stirrer. In fact, the opposite is true: God bestows His particular blessings on the peacemaker!

“Blessed (enjoying enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous — with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!” (Matthew 5:9 AMPC) Let’s receive this as the primary lesson of God’s “Pot Principles.”

The second lesson is for all those of us who at one time or another have been on the receiving end of pot stirring. If you’ve been the victim of gossip, or falsely accused, or punished for doing the right thing, God wants you to keep your cool — to paraphrase the fictional character James Bond, shaken but not stirred! — and remain in peace. Life is not always fair, but then, you knew that. Right? Furthermore, God is our advocate; He is always just, so we need to trust Him to vindicate us in any given situation. The Biblical Joseph did this, and things worked out better than he could have imagined. Read his hair-raising life story in Genesis 37-50.

You finally ready to stop stirring the pot?

The third lesson of God’s Pot Principles dovetails nicely with #2. It’s always best to let God do the stirring. Be stirred by His Word, by His goodness, power and wisdom. “He is the Rock; His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright He is!” (Deuteronomy 32:4 NLT)

And remember, stirring the pot is bad for both rice and relationships!

“Stir up Yourself, and awake to my vindication, to my cause, my God and my Lord. Vindicate me, O LORD my God, according to Your righteousness; And let them not rejoice over me.” (Psalm 35:23-24 NKJ)