Kitchen Conversations Even Dads Can Cook Up

Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said *INTERRUPT

JUST A MINUTE! This is Father’s Day, not Mother’s Day. Couldn’t we tweak this just a little? Make it a guy thing? Update it I bit? Like:

…As they went on their way, Jesus entered a village; and a fellow named Marvin had Jesus over for dinner. And he had a brother called Martin, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to Jesus’ every word. Poor Marvin. He was distracted with much business, texting-and-twittering and emailing and hanging on his Bluetooth with call after interrupting business call. Finally he took a break and went to Jesus and said, "Lord, don’t you care that my brother’s left me to attend our family business alone? Tell him to get it together and help me. We have orders to fill and there’s trouble down at the shop" But the Lord answered him, "Marvin, Marvin, you’re anxious and troubled about everything; Just one thing is truly essential. And Martin’s chosen it. My Word’s like the main course of the finest meal. And nothing and nobody will ever take that away from Martin."

Ahh, dear friends, whether we tell this story as Martha bakin’ dinner rolls, or Marvin makin’ marinara while tryin’ to close a business deal, this much is true. Either way, there’s kitchen conversation here that sounds familiar. The oven’s not the only thing that’s hot! We can see it. We can feel it. Jesus can, too. Martha feelin’ put-upon. Marvin the marvelous martyr! What we’ve got here is a case of hard/bad-hearted attitude. Bad attitude: the most frequent source of the family feud! Yep, right in our kitchen there’s annoyance that’s itchin’. You know the feeling. You’ve read and followed the recipe. Women. Men. Youth too. The longer you talk, the farther you walk, the greater the certainty: some one or some thing will agitate! “Here I am out here bustin’ my chops. They’re in there soakin’ in the Lord’s tops! Why me? Can’t she, or he help? Finally, it all boils over. Itchin’ in the kitchen turns to turmoil at the table. And the feast of life is spoiled.

Do you suffer agitation, in you or around you? Is it easy to whip up a bad attitude while whizzin’ around your kitchen (i.e., your busy life)? Well then, let’s cook up a little conversation that can help us with a bad attitude. Even we dads can do these. Three steps.

Step one: Refrigerate! Chill. Cool down. Tarry awhile in your cool place before taking a risk with your best face. Martha and Marvin were neither the first nor the last to seethe in the kitchen, then boil over at the dinner table. Don’t you get the feeling that when tempers cooled, the dear saints said, “If only I could take that back!” Can’t you hear the self-pity, bitterness and anger in, “Lord, don’t you care?” And the bossyness in, “Jesus, make it right!” When we say, or hear these… isn’t there a later moment we just wish they could go away? Well, here’s a great first rule for avoiding regret by controlling your attitude: Refrigerate! Cool down before you speak up! The folk wisdom’s right. “It’s always better to swallow angry words than to eat them later!” Ancient wisdom is still wise. Pluvious, the Greek sage got it right, “I’ve always regretted my tongue, never my silence.” Rome’s Seneca is right on, “The greatest remedy for anger is… delay!” But we are not Romans, or Greeks. We hew to a different Spirit and Text. The Proverbs Jesus knew, we should learn! “He who keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (21: 23) And again, “He who guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” (13:3) And again, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent.” (10: 19) Maybe what James wrote he heard right from Jesus. “Where words are many, trouble is much…” (1: 26)  And, “The tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! The tongue is a fire….” (3: 5-6)  Papa, Mama, Junior, Princess… when you can feel the heat a-risin’ in the kitchen of your soul, go to the big box in the corner. Yank the handle. Open the door. Cool off. Cool down. Refrigerate!

Step two. Punctuate! Quit pourin’ in and pourin’ on ingredients or you’re bound to ruin the recipe for good relationships in your life. STOP! PUT A PERIOD AFTER THE LAST WORD IN YOUR COOK BOOK! Many a family like many a feast, many a marriage or friendship has been fouled for lack of just one dot. A final point.

A precious priority! What Jesus says to Martha (and our make-believe Marvin), he says to us. “Dear friend, dear friend, you are anxious and  troubled over too many things!” “You’ve got too much on your plate! Let your main dish be your main dish!” Jesus doesn’t think Martha’s a bad soul. He doesn’t not-love-her. Or us. Christ can embrace us type A or type B folks both. Martha can be practical, Mary sensitive. Marvin can have things to do, Martin, things to think. We can choose the broom or the book, the trip to mall or library. Together for Christ, together with Christ we can fit like hand and glove. But, let us insist on our own way over his way and we become like oil and water, fellowship like flint and stone! God in Christ cares more for the heart than the type of service. ‘The attitude than the altitude of the gifts we bring. ‘The temperature of the soul than the type talent we bring. I’m reminded of the brother who prays to God. “Lord you know that I love you. I give my tithes. I work in my church. I’m an Optimist, a Lion, a Moose and a Gorc coach 3 seasons of the year. But my check book won’t balance and my car won’t start and my brother is way ahead of me. He’s brash; he bowls while I pray. He’s a Christmas/Easter worshipper (but a Bible reader, I admit)… and he could buy/sell me 3X over. I don’t want you to zap him, but why not bless me more!” Heaven opens. A voice speaks. “Because you’re a self-righteous pain in the neck! And I’ve never really been your main thing!” If you want a new ‘tude for a new time, punctuate. Put a period on your ingredients so you can truly taste and see the goodness of the Lord!

Step Three. Graduate! Cooking school is not designed to last forever! The best way outta the kitchen and straight to the table, each other and Jesus is this. Graduate. Let go of your anger.  (When you kneed it like bread, punchin’ and pullin’ to make it bigger and bigger, Jesus says you will be put to the judgment.) Don’t linger in yesterday’s recipes. Try tomorrow’s adventures. Trust God. It’s God who says, “Behold. I make all things…new!” Remember, the main dish makes the best banquet. Jesus is the main dish! The Bread of Life. The New Wine. Why fool with favorite foods that are lesser loaves? Salt your attitude by his Glad-itude!

Martha, Marvin, Mavis or Monty, no matter.

Get right, kitchen to table! Refrigerate. Punctuate. Graduate!

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