The Perfect Food? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Honey is often called “the perfect food.” We agree that it’s a natural food, created by cute lil’ honeybees, and it’s a healthier sweetener than processed sugar; however, it’s far from perfect. If it were perfect, it wouldn’t be fattening or promote tooth decay. Yes, we probably sound like a couple of grinches, but we want to make a valid point: there are no perfect foods!

Warning: These drinks can be hazardous — Brain Freeze!

Every food and every dish has a downside that can be a bummer if we allow it. At the core of that delicious apple a day is a seed-filled fibrous mass that’s not very appetizing. Oranges have thick peels, string beans are … well, stringy. Succulent crab legs have shells hard enough to crack your knuckles. Those absolutely divine Mocha MooLattes from DQ can induce a severe brain freeze that’ll make your eyeballs pop out; and eating pistachios causes sore thumbnails! (We’ll leave you to figure out that one for yourselves.)

And if there’s a food that’s light, airy, soft and sinfully sweet, such as cinnamon rolls, it’s also bad for your heart, arteries, and waistline. Yes, we need to exercise self-control, eat certain foods in moderation, and deal with the downside of various nutritional items. But indeed, upon closer scrutiny and analysis, there are definite drawbacks to everything we consume. (Did you know you can drink too much water? Too much water can flood tissues and flush out beneficial electrolytes.)

Lady, you’ll be the death of me!

Now, most of us don’t go through life begrudging meals because they’re imperfect. We’re not constantly dissing fruit because we have to peel it, or cursing Little Debbie because those Swiss Cake Rolls are hardening our arteries. No, we understand there are a few cons to go along with all the pros; we know that food is delicious and nutritious, and rarely think of it as being imperfect — and yet, it is. NO FOOD IS PERFECT.

Life is like food: nothing in life is perfect, not the weather, your job, your boss, or the commute to work; not your spouse, your friend, your child, or your pastor. Face it, on this great big blue marble we call earth, there’s very little perfection, because none of us — allow us to repeat — not a single one of us, is perfect. It’s a simple fact of life. What’s important is how we view and handle our imperfect jobs, friends, family, etc. Do we get all bent out of shape over fruit that’s nutritious but has to be peeled and pitted? Do we get disgusted with foods that are delicious but fattening. No, we generally take the good while overlooking the bad. And we adjust our expectations.

Poor elephant. No one explained that when you start eating pistachios it’s awful hard to stop.

By now, someone’s got to be thinking, “Yeah, but I expect more from life and people than I do from food!” And therein lies the problem: life and people are not perfect, but we often expect them to be! Unfortunately, when our expectations are too high, we’re in for one huge disappointment after another. Sooner or later, your friends and family, your pastor or your boss will let you down. It’s one of the cold hard facts of life. And the greater your expectations, the greater your disappointment will be.

So, what’s the solution? First: Keep your lofty expectations and always hope for the best — but don’t put your expectations on people. Instead, put your expectations on God. HE is perfect, and He’ll never disappoint you. When you focus on HIS perfection, HIS faithfulness, HIS love, HIS care, HIS provision … everything else in life, no matter how imperfect, suddenly becomes a lot more palatable.

“Upon God alone, O my soul, rest peacefully; for my expectation is from Him.” (Psalm 62:5 Darby Bible)

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Vinegar and Oil (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Decades ago, writers described the United States as a great melting pot of peoples and cultures, blended together to form something extraordinary. Later, we all realized the U.S. is actually more like a big salad bowl: our diverse cultures and backgrounds come together — and mix well — but these things still retain their identity and individuality. Imagine crispy croutons, cherry tomatoes and baby spinach leaves: they taste great together, but you can still pick out a crouton, hold it up to the light and … it’s still a crouton.

The same can be said of our favorite salad dressing, too. We keep a cruet of vinegar and olive oil (plus some seasonings) on the kitchen counter, and it serves to remind us of an interesting truth about the followers of Christ. Jesus prayed to His Father in Heaven, “I’m not asking you to take [My followers] out of the world, but to keep them safe…. They do not belong to this world any more than I do.” (John 17:15-16 NLT) Now, to a non-believer this sounds a little insane, but we believe it. We believe that those who have accepted Christ are now His people. This “fact” has nothing to do with circumstances or anything we can see. We take this on faith.

We also take from this Bible verse the idea that “we’re in this world, but we’re not of this world” — meaning that we take part in society, playing an active role in everything, including government, but our connection is tenuous; we’ve become different (in a good way) and we’re to remain separate. In other words, like the diverse cultures in our  American “salad bowl,” we’re not to lose our identity in Christ.

We’re like the olive oil in the cruet. A hardy shake and we mix right in with the vinegar, but we never blend to the point that we lose our identity. Leave the cruet on the table for about 15 seconds and you’ll see the oil quickly separates from the vinegar. Within a minute you’ll have two distinct layers of liquid. Now, the reason we represent the oil is a no-brainer: once we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, God’s Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us — and throughout the Bible the Holy Spirit is represented by olive oil!

And the vinegar isn’t a total misrepresentation of the world: our society, its people and culture; and the prevailing philosophy. Life in this world gets a bit acidic at times, and hence, people often tend to have a sour attitude and outlook. Acidic and sour … like vinegar. And guess what? We need to be a part of this. When we come together with non-believers, we can make an excellent “dressing” that contributes greatly to the “salad” of ideas and cultures. But it takes an active and constant “mixing” on our part. We need to work to periodically shake things up! If we don’t, we’ll just settle out. And then we’ll be useless as a salad dressing.

Any non-believer reading this may be wondering, does the “oil” think it’s better than the “vinegar”? Not at all. The oil is actually here for the vinegar; and there can be no delicious collaboration without the vinegar. Plus, God reminds us that our salvation and association with God is nothing to boast in: “For by Grace you have been saved through faith. …It is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

Hello, OIL? Please remember, “…There but for the grace of God, go I. (Being a famous quotation attributed to the Christian martyr John Bradford).

Hello, VINEGAR? Do you mind if we work together to make this great salad taste even better?

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