Mind the Language! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Hot DOGS and HAM burgers! Seriously? Of course not. There’s no ham (or pork of any kind) in a hamburger. And you can eat a hotdog in front of your pet dachshund without feeling guilty. But these food names are just two examples of our crazy, sometimes confusing, English language. In the kitchen, in particular, our loony lingo truly takes the cake.

It turns out a pig in a blanket is perfectly kosher — as long as you’re eating a Hebrew National frank. By the way, we’re confused. What’s the difference between a hotdog (also hot dog), a frankfurter and a wiener? Can we please reach a consensus on what to call these sausages? Why do hot dogs need a whole pack of names. Woof!  Oh, and does “spicy” mean flavorful from
spices, or simply HOT — a quality derived from the addition of peppers? There’s no consensus on that one, either.

A Dutch oven isn’t an oven at all. It’s just a heavy, lidded POT — the kind you cook with, not what hippies and politicians used to smoke. French fries are not French; bread pudding is not the kind of pudding many think, it’s a dense gelatinous mass of flour and raisins; a grilled cheese sandwich isn’t really grilled; and is barbecue a cooking process, or a Southern dish of pulled pork?

What’s up with eggplant? Did it grow from an egg? Maybe it’s the offspring of chickweed. Ouch! Also, we hate for this to get out, but there’s no egg in an egg cream drink. Do you love pizza? We do, too. We also love our friends, family, and our Lord. Wonder how God feels when we apply the same term of devotion to Him as we do to a slab of dough smeared with tomato sauce? In other languages — Spanish, for instance — there are separate verbs for differing types and levels of “love.” Here, though, we can honestly say we love our spouse and the dog.

Adding to the confusion are regionalisms, (expressions that developed in certain areas of the country) and slang. “He’s a real piece of work” sounds good, but it ain’t. “She’s a space cadet.” Wouldn’t you need to be smart to go to Space Academy? “Let’s take a ride.” (No, we don’t want to bump you off.)

Love is a many splendored thing — literally.  We LOVE (?) pizza!!  ♥♥♥

We’ll drive in the parkway, and then park in the driveway.  –Hey!! We’re about to run a stoplight! Or is it a “traffic light”? After all, it signals us to stop AND go.

We’ve read that the English language is one of the most difficult “second” languages to learn due to all it’s exceptions. Spelling?  “I” before “E” except after “C” — but only on the third Wednesday of every other month. Does grammar sometimes prey on your mind? Maybe you should pray about it? What’s the difference between “read” and “read”? Depends on whether you’re starting a book or finishing it.

We could go on. But we simply want to emphasize that mastering the English language — and therefore, verbal communication — isn’t a piece of cake. Nor is it easy as pie. Often, we have trouble saying what we mean, and we don’t actually mean what we say. HELP!!!

God admonishes us to take care in what we speak, and in how we speak it. For instance: “Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4 NLT)

Furthermore, research states that 80% of all communication is non-verbal. Our eyes, hands, and even our posture speak volumes. And we all know that “Actions speak louder than words.” In fact, people pay more attention to what we DO than to what we say. “Seeing is believing”! Application? Don’t simply talk about the teachings of Christ, MODEL them! Saint Francis of Assissi wrote, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

“…Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (James 1:22 NASB) “…Speak my Word in truth….” (Jeremiah 23:28 NLT)

In other other words, say what you mean and mean what you say.

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You’re NOT Butter! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Anyone remember those amusing TV commercials for Parkay margarine? If you don’t, watch this 30-second spot featuring NFL great “Deacon” Jones.

In every Parkay commercial, whenever someone lifted the lid, the yellow tub of margarine would debate its identity. The consumer would argue with the yellow suff in the container, proclaiming it “Parkay!”; but Parkay’s rejoinder was also the same: “Butter!”

After the consumer tastes the margarine, he or she would nod, agree that Parkay was smooth and creamy, so it must be true: it IS butter. But hey, just because something looks like butter, even tastes like butter, does not necessarily mean it is butter. Butter is butter! Made by contented cows with big brown eyes. Margarine, on the other hand, is a synthetic mixture engineered in a laboratory to approximate the qualities of the real deal. Personally, we’d rather put our trust in cows, not chemists!

All this, however, is beside the point. In these Parkay commercials, that poor yellow tub of margarine had an identity crisis. It wanted to be viewed as butter! Did it really believe it was butter? Nope. At the end of each TV spot, once the consumer gave in and agreed it was butter, the obstinate little yellow tub would tauntingly purr, “Parkay.”

Humor us for a moment. What precisely was Parkay’s problem? It knew it was margarine and not butter. Yet it wanted to be considered butter. Aha! Deep down, Parkay was feeling a little inferior. It wasn’t, after all, the real deal. But then, only butter is the genuine article. But did that make Parkay inferior? Did Parkay serve a special purpose in people’s diets? (Have we totally lost our minds?)

There are countless people in society who suffer a similar identity crisis. Like Parkay, they feel a little inferior to someone else. They go around competing with their friends, family, coworkers — and stubbornly try to convince the world they’re someone they’re not. Each of these people are unique in their own special way. And, like Parkay, they were created to fill a role only they themselves can fill. And yet, like the poor little tub of margarine, they’re not comfortable with who they are. Why?

For many people, their identity is tied to external factors; and they wrongly base their self-worth or significance on accomplishments, associations, and possessions. Let’s briefly examine these factors. Identity and self-worth have nothing to do with:

1)  What we do. Jobs, career positions, sports, academic achievements, hobbies, and even ministries do not define us. What happens if (when) these functions are taken away? Do we lose our significance? Not in God’s eyes: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart….” (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV)

2)  What we have. Owning stuff seems to confer status in our materialistic society. But big houses, fancy cars, and lots of “toys” can never really satisfy the inner longings we have. To quote the old Beatles song, “Money can’t buy me love.” Each of us has a God-sized hole in our spirits and no amount of stuff can fill it — only our Lord can do that! “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)  “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NLT)

3)  Nor is our worth based on social standards or the opinions of the “in crowd.” All that matters is what God has to say about us in His Word. His standards are what we’re measured by: “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14 NASB) Furthermore, “…God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:11 NLT)

“…God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT) Friends, don’t try to be something or someone you’re not. We don’t have to compare or compete with anyone. We each have our own unique identity — and infinite value, because we’re each worth the death of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ! We each were placed on this planet by God’s design … and in His wisdom. He doesn’t make mistakes.

Be the person God made you to be. Be confident in His love and acceptance. Find significance in Him, the Creator of the Universe, and in His plan for your life. It’s not WHAT you do that counts, it’s WHY that’s important:

“…Whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 King James 2000)

You’re NOT butter, you’re better!

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