A Stirring Message! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Recently we split a mug of coffee made by our pal Mr. Keurig. You remember Mr. Keurig? When we first introduced this kitchen angel, in “The Call of the Keurig,” he was “finding his voice.” On this particular day, he was making us our favorite Hazelnut Breakfast blend.

authentic-keurig-brewerThe beauty of Mr. Keurig is that we can add the creamer and our favorite sweetener to the mug, place the mug before him, and then he does all the rest: he adds the perfect amount of water, at the perfect brewing temperature, and he does it all in a quick minute with no cleanup required! This time around, however, something wasn’t quite right. We each took a sip and frowned. Our breakfast beverage was bitter!

We distinctly remembered adding stevia to the mug before handing it over to Mr. Keurig, so we were a little confused. “Hey, Mr. Keurig!” we called. “What happened?”

Our Keurig didn’t answer. He just sat there, mutely staring at us from his place on the counter. After several awkward moments of silence, one of us asked, “What did we say? Did we somehow upset him?”

Then Mr. Keurig let out a sigh of exasperation. Actually, it was more of a loud shoooosh!

“What’s he trying to tell us?” we wondered.

Translating native Keurig is more of an art than a science, and in order to grasp the full meaning of each little utterance, one must also take into consideration the circumstances in which the words are spoken. “Mr. Keurig, can you please give us another hint?” we pleaded gently.

It was at this point that we noticed the spoon resting on the counter next to our dear friend. Clearly, Mr. Keurig was also making note of it — as well as the fact that it was dry. “Didn’t you stir the mug?” we asked. Turns out none of us had stirred our breakfast blend. And upon realizing this, it wasn’t hard to catch the full meaning of Keurig’s cry.

“Come on,” he said. “Can you please give me a break here? I daily bless you with the perfect cup of coffee. But you guys need to do your part, too. You gotta stir things up! Okay?”

“Our dear Mr. Keurig,” we exclaimed. “You have so much wisdom to share!”

How could we have forgotten such an important step in all things culinary? Face it, you can’t have stir fry unless you stir the veggies, which otherwise would simply be lounging in the sauna — er, wok! And how about all those mixes in the cupboard? Clearly stated on the back of each box is the not-so-cryptic word stir. Some of these packages go even further: the instructions on the boxes of both the instant oatmeal and the hot cocoa mix admonish us to “stir and enjoy!” (The exclamation mark is even supplied by the manufacturer.)

Our “manufacturer” (that would be God, the Creator of the Universe) gives each of us exactly the same advice: “Therefore, I remind you that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you…. For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7 King James 2000)

God has given us the perfect ingredients for a great slice of life. He’s given each of us unique gifts, talents, abilities, and callings. But we must do our part if we are to enjoy what God has provided: we need to stir up the treasure poured into each of us. We stir things up spiritually by using our gifts, answering our callings, and in general, exercising our faith. When we don’t, things have a way of “settling to the bottom” of our lives. As the old expression goes, “Use it or lose it!”

Don’t be shy about using your talents and pursuing the things God has called you to do. Don’t be afraid of failure — we can learn and benefit from our own mistakes. And never fear the opinions of others! Instead, expand your horizons, stretch your spiritual wings, and follow your dreams. Be the person God designed you to be!

And don’t forget to stir your relationships — in order to properly blend together: “And we should think toward stirring up one another to love and to good works, not forsaking the assembling together of ourselves as is the custom with some, but encouraging one another….” (Hebrews 10:24-25 Berean Literal) In other words, hang out with other believers, people who can encourage you; and be sure to encourage them! Become a cheerleader for those who are pursuing a dream or simply trying to achieve something meaningful in life.

Especially encourage the people on “God’s team,” the believers who often struggle to live a God-centered life in order to make a difference in the lives of others through their giving and serving. Together we can bring out the best in each other.

Stir up your faith by listening to encouraging messages such as those presented on television by TBN. Have a personal time of devotion with God — and share these times with your family. And don’t forsake the assembling of God’s spiritual family. Attend a Bible-based faith community with a loving congregation; and take part in the programs and activities there. When believers live, worship, pray, and work together, they can stir their communities to become peaceful and productive places in which to live.

Please do your part. Stir up your faith, love and special gifts. When you do, you’ll create quite a stir in the world. You’ll also have the thanks and admiration of our kitchen angel, Mr. Keurig!

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Eggshells: The INSIDE Story (Angel in the Kitchen)

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You can’t judge a book by its cover. Nor can you tell if an egg is fresh by examining its shell.

Although the wisdom is the same in both cases, the consequences of neglecting it in the former are by far preferable to the latter. Allow us to explain: if you crack a book with an interesting title and a cool cover illustration, but then realize it’s pretty bad … well, you can always take a good nap. But if you crack open an innocent-looking egg and realize it’s rotten … well, you’ll be fumigating the house.

The shell of an egg is composed mostly of calcium carbonate, and remains unblemished and smooth to the touch long after the yolk inside has gone bad. In fact, the egg can be decomposing inside while the shell can appear enticingly fresh. Good thing we’ve all learned not to form conclusions based on appearances alone. Right?

We never crack an egg directly into something we’re mixing, such as a cake mix. If it’s bad, it’s also too bad — because it’s too late to do anything about it. Hence, we break each egg into a separate bowl, and examine it before adding it to the recipe. When eggs go bad, the whites start to look watery. The yolks darken and may appear slightly shriveled. Of course, if the egg is rotten you’ll know the moment you crack it.

Refrigerated eggs tend to have a long shelf-life, usually a month beyond their sell-by date. But eggs that were mishandled and subjected to high temperatures go bad more quickly. Bad eggs can breed life-threatening
bacteria, so it’s best to know what’s lurking beneath those pretty shells. But how can you tell?

There’s a simple test. Does the egg float in a deep bowl of water, or sink to the bottom? No, this isn’t similar to the lunacy of dunking would-be witches centuries ago. This is based on science, not superstition.

First, every egg contains a tiny pocket of air. (You can see where the air pocket formed whenever you peel a boiled egg: the larger end of the boiled egg will always be flat and dimpled.) But as an egg ages, this air pocket expands, which increases its buoyancy. A fresh egg doesn’t contain enough air to float. It will sink to the bottom of the bowl and lie on its side.

Second, as eggs age the yolks produce gases. If the egg sinks but remains “standing” on one end, then gases are forming at the other end. It’s still okay to use the egg, but don’t dawdle about it. If, however, the egg floats, cracked-egg-eyes-painted-hole-73537488then a considerable pocket of gases has formed — indicating the egg is well on its way to rotting.

Bad eggs produce hydrogen sulfide, which builds within the shell. This foul-smelling gas is an indication of the corruption taking place within a shell that appears perfect on the outside, smooth and unblemished. Thank goodness, though, we don’t have to judge an egg by its shell.

As we’ve stated before, people are like eggs. Yes, there are good eggs, bad eggs, and rotten eggs; but our point here is that we can never base our judgements on appearance alone. A person who looks fine, and who seems to have it altogether, may actually be “dying” on the inside.

Unfortunately, in our Western culture we tend to value outer beauty above inner beauty, and physical perfection above strength of character. Many of us see the outer success, fame, and fortune of celebrity athletes and movie stars, and then assume their private lives are just as rich and wonderful. Occasionally, however, we’ll read or hear about a rich and famous person who’s been battling with the inner demons of addiction, physical abuse, low self-esteem, and … emptiness. In fact, we can recall one such celebrity confessing that, by all appearances, he had “made it” in life and had everything he could possibly desire — except happiness.

Since the lifestyles of the rich and famous, like eggshells, can conceal foul feelings and serious problems, it’s important we don’t make assumptions based on appearances. This wisdom has a spiritual application, too — one many of us seldom consider — which is the reverse of our egg analogy.

You may know someone who doesn’t look or dress or act like a star; but probably inside the shell of the “ugly duckling” there resides a beautiful, talented, or well-adjusted “swan”! And perhaps you know an older person who’s grown grey and wrinkled and stooped; perhaps a “senior saint” within your faith congregation; someone who appears to be years beyond his or her “best-by” date. The shell may look a little worse for wear, but you might just be surprised at how much life still resides within. Never discount what these people have to offer.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Though our outer self is heading for decay, our inner self is being renewed daily.” (2 Corinthians 4:16 CJB) Or, to quote the Phillips translation, “The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. …For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent [eternal].” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Perhaps no one is ever eggs-actly as he or she appears. “Beautiful eggs” may be dying inside. Apparent good eggs can stink. Dull and pathetic-looking eggs can be full of life. And alleged “bad eggs” may still turn out to be good. Let’s try to see beyond the shells.

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