During the quarantine, I have been watching a number of cooking shows, bingeing on programs like “Crazy Delicious” and “The Great British Baking Show” (both streaming on Netflix); but my latest obsession is “Selena + Chef” on HBO Max. As the title suggests, each episode features Selena Gomez (the 20-something pop music artist) welcoming a different world-renowned chef (such as Ludo Lefebvre or Nancy Silverton) into her kitchen (via digital stream) to teach her to cook. The show is a delightful balance of amusement and instruction. Much of the comic relief comes from Selena’s inability to work her stove and oven – it takes her a few episodes for her to fully utilize the convection feature – or manage exotic ingredients, particularly a whole fish. The instruction, however, is truly captivating.
As I watched these professional chefs, I was impressed by their apparent effortlessness in teaching their craft. There are few measuring cups on the experts’ side of the screen, as they combine ingredients by sight and feel. They were so familiar with culinary science that they were able to move into the arena of artful improvisation, experimenting with the novice cook when things went awry (which they routinely did). These chefs are masters of what Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, calls “The 10,000 Hours Rule”, the ‘magic number’ needed to become an expert in any given field. These chefs have spent so much time in perfecting the disciplines of gastronomic science that now they are able to experience the freedom to create something unique and tutor an amateur toward something delicious.
Moving from science to art, from cookbooks to creativity, is a joy to behold. When it comes to food, nutritious does not always mean delicious and edible does not always equate to indelible. In the kitchen, we can comprehend that we ought to include elements of creaminess and crunchiness; we can agree that flavor comes from a satisfying blend of sweet, salty and sour. In saying all this, I return to a childhood memory, an episode of “Mork and Mindy” which taught on white lies which had these concluding lines of dialogue: “Who could believe it was the first one you’ve ever cooked? I’ve never seen anybody do that with figs before. The secret must be in the cheese.” It takes a scientist/artist to know what works, what does not, and what would be wonderous.
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:16 (NIV84)
As I think about “Selena + Chef” and one’s culinary pursuits, I think also about the local church and one’s spiritual pursuits. I wonder how many of us are willing to commit to “The 10,000 Hours Rule” regarding our expertise in the things of God in order that we might move beyond the rigors of scientific instruction and engage in the realm of artistic expression. How I long, personally, to experience the freedom found in knowing the Lord deeply and to enjoy the full flavors of life in Christ.
This past week I realized, yet again, that I have a great job. I had the opportunity to be with a great bunch of kids and volunteers every day at “SonSpark Labs”, the vacation Bible school written by Gospel Light©. I got to participate in Bible lessons, play games, make crafts, sing songs, sample snacks and eat candy – AND I got to put on a lab coat and perform awesome experiments that demonstrated the wonders of science. It was a great week of sun and fun and it reminded me that I am one lucky guy.
In the midst of all the fun, we learned about gravity and that God not only created all that we see and experience, but He also established laws to insure our existence. We learned about ‘cause and effect’ and that there are real consequences (separation from God) when we do things wrong. We learned about motion and that we would have remained dead in our sins had God not chosen to send His son to ‘move’ us. We learned about transformation and recognized that, with Jesus as Lord, we are something new and different. We learned about chain reactions and that we can bring about change by sharing the truths of Jesus with others.
It brings a smile to my face as I think about some of the things we did at church this week. We got to see what happens when we drop a watermelon from the roof and drop Mentos© into Diet Coke©. We got to play with polymers and discover the dynamics of density. We made (and ate) candy DNA strands and beakers full of Jello©. We made rubber balls and painted with Kool-Aid©. However, there is one more thing that brings me the biggest smile of all – we learned about Jesus.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6–7 (NIV)
As the church basement was filled with singing and laughter, I realized just how blessed I am. I have been given the opportunity to introduce people to the Savior. Sure, VBS is more silliness than substance, but it is still substantive. That is something I have experienced first-hand for nearly 40 years, ever since I was just finishing 2nd grade and Patty Stanley invited me to VBS on “bring a friend’ day. I was introduced to the Savior that summer (even though I didn’t accept His friendship for 15 years). The truths that were taught that summer, in the basement of a Nazarene church in Brockton, have remained with me. And now I have the privilege to share them with another generation of wondering and wonderful children.
I am a lucky man: I get to spend my work week having fun with a great group of kids and sharing about Jesus…but even better is knowing that I have a God who made me, who longs to be with me, who wants me to know Him, who saves me and who loves me forever!
God’s plan for you is Jesus.