Sunday, June 22, 2014

Microwave Meal

 Comfort food doesn't come in a box. 

Some food is better if you wait and reheat it later on.
Some food needs to be eaten as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Lasagna is one of those meals that can go either way.
I have been blessed with two of the greatest lasagna makers in the whole world.
My wife and my mother-in-law have never made a bad lasagna (in my humble opinion).
Now, they might be critical of themselves and their creations as they exit the oven, but my tummy has never rejected an offering of this magnitude. They are the best. The matter up for debate is simply whether or not the the offering is in a more solid form as it is cut from the serving dish - OR -  is it more soupy and runny in texture. If the latter is true and it's running all over your plate, some folks might like to let it sit for a day. Which then means that we are going to be putting that plate in the microwave most likely to heat it up again.

Here's the problem with heating stuff up in the microwave.
While the microwave does a decent job, it doesn't heat it up thoroughly.
I mean, getting it hot in the center. Microwaves never really get it back to the way it was when it was first served, hot out of the oven. Microwaves do an OK job depending on what it is and how long you leave it in there. Which means you have to stand there watching it. Then you take out, stir it up, put it back in, take it out, test it with a sampling, put it back in, now it's TO HOT. You have to let it sit for a while. The whole process takes the joy out of eating.

If left in too long, the outside might be really hot or even charred all in a hope to get the center hot enough to eat. Otherwise you have a lukewarm or even cold center while the outer edge of an item is hot enough to scaled your lips and tongue. The microwave process is really imperfect.

I'm sitting here reading this scripture from 2 Corinthians and this idea of something being hot and fresh is what is rolling around in my head. Imagine, if you will, a freshly baked loaf of bread on the table and the aroma that fills the house. Which would you rather have? A slice of white bread out of a bag from the store - OR - a warm slice of homemade bread fresh from the oven. If you have to stop and think about it, then we need a good class on baking here in this church. It should not be a difficult decision.

2 Corinthians 5:17

New International Version (NIV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

The idea of having something "new" is one that brings with it some mixed emotions. We get used to having the same old things in our lives. The same old chair. The same old food. The same old restaurant every morning. Something new should be really exciting and full of promise. No other word in the english language, however, is met with more demise than this simple word. Upon looking up the word I expected a ho-hum "Yep that's what I expected to see" kind of definition. There's some lines here that will make you stop and think.

Definition of NEW

1:  having recently come into existence :  recent, modern
2 a (1) :  having been seen, used, or known for a short time :  novel <rice was a new crop for the area> (2) :  unfamiliar <visit new places>
   b :  being other than the former or old <a steady flow of new money>
3:  having been in a relationship or condition but a short time <new to the job> <a new wife>
4 a :  beginning as the resumption or repetition of a previous act or thing <a new day> <the new edition>
   b :  made or become fresh <awoke a new person>
   c :  relating to or being a new moon
5:  different from one of the same category that has existed previously <new realism>
6:  of dissimilar origin and usually of superior quality <a new strain of hybrid corn>
7 capitalized :  modern 3; especially :  having been in use after medieval times 

Food is a priceless vehicle and illustration for use in a message and I can't think of any other illustration that fits here better. As we think about food, let us contemplate for a second which we like better: something out a box - or - something made from scratch. Lets think about it in another way. How about something you have to heat up or re-heat in the microwave or  something your mom or grandma made with their own hands. Again, if you have to stop and think about it then we need some remedial classes on food and eating around this church. The new stuff is always going to find a place at the top in my heart and stomach.

Why do we have such a hard time with parting with the old? Some folks really would rather drop a frozen lump of something in the microwave every morning and stumble through a cup of coffee than take the time to put a good healthy, tastes great, awesome breakfast in front of themselves. Hey, maybe it's a time constraint issue. You have to get going to work. You have to get on the road. Please don't feel as if I am badgering you into something you have no time for. This is all simply illustration to make a point. But, wouldn't it be nice if you did have the time? To make something "new" and to give up something you had to re-heat and plop on a plate?

One of my favorite shows on TV right now is called Restaurant Impossible. A chef from England named Robert Irvine has taken it upon himself to go around America finding old mom and pop restaurants and turn their way of thinking and their business upside down in order to show them a different way of doing things. With 2 days and $10,000, Irvine will come into your business and make everything brand new. You have to consent to let him run your business for the next two days and let him do whatever he wants to do. The things he has found! Oh my! It turns my stomach to think of something to infestations he has come across. The service that does not meet peoples needs. Management issues that have never been resolved. People who have no idea how to run a restaurant went in with good intentions, but have found themselves in a mess anywhere from 6 month to 3 years into owning their new business. Places that once thrived under different ownership or management now lie in ruin with the possibility of closing their doors forever if something does not change soon.

Irvine will come in, survey the land (so to speak), order some food, meet the help and the owners, and then tear the place apart and put it all back together with a completely new decor and menu. If God wants to make everything brand new in our lives, what must he tear apart and turn upside down in order to make "all things new"? What we must take a moment to discuss here is the contrast between instantaneous delivery and progressive growth. We live in a society that marvels itself in how things can be done in an instant. Contemplate the microwave for a moment.We want things to be heated up - instantly. In other places in our lives, we want this paper to be written - instantly. We can't even put our fingers on a keyboard anymore. We get a voice-speech service like Siri to do it for us. We don't want to be fat and overweight, but we don't want to do the work of having to lose the weight. Here, take this pill and shed those pounds - instantly.

Life is a process marked by moments were things seem to happen instantaneously. What we seem to miss is all the work that led up to the moment when the great event happened. We come in and the meal is spread out on the table. We miss all the work that mom put into preparing the meal. We simply see the finished product sitting on the table to partake. In our lives, we see the great moment when Jesus entered. Did we miss all that went into helping us come around to make that decision? I remember the moment when I invited Jesus into my life, but there was so much that went on the 6 or 7 years prior. I remember being 13 or 14 and standing down front on the church to answer the big question. "Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?" I answered "Yes", but I could not have explained to you what that meant. It took several more years before I was 21 and in my apartment kneeling in front of my sofa after listening to my best friend, Matt Holcomb, go on about how important it was to accept Christ as your Savior. There was so much in that 6-7 year stretch I look back on with amazement.

In this passage from 2 Corinthians we see Paul with a different emphasis than in his first letter to these same people. He is looking ahead. He sees a moment when we will crossover into uncharted territory. In a moment, a the twinkling of an eye, we will be changed. All things will be made new. The old will go away. We will not see this life any more. The word "new" will find great context here. "made or become fresh" Like a loaf of bread right out of the oven. There's nothing quite like it.

Now, that's comfort food.

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