Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mmm, mmm, Mom’s chili!

I loved my Mom’s chili. It was the perfect accompaniment to her grilled cheese, or vice versa.

Both the chili and the grilled cheese she made were basic, nothing-fancy recipes.

The sandwich was made with white Wonder bread and Kraft “cheese product” slices. And the chili was made with Brooks chili beans.

The chili recipe probably came from the side of a can of the beans or, possibly, an issue of the Ladie’s Home Journal, pre-1952.

Years ago, while living alone in New Jersey, I got a hankering for her chili, so called and got the recipe.

It was amazingly simple. Here it is:
  • 1 Can tomato juice (Campbell’s)
  • 1 Can chili beans (Brooks)
  • 2 Onions chopped, sauté in water until clear
  • 1½ lbs ground beef, brown w/salt & pepper
  • Chili powder (McCormick)
  • Macaroni, optional (Mueller’s)
That’s it.

The only question I really had was how much chili powder to use. I think she said around a tablespoon, but I found this to be inadequate and always added more than that.

The macaroni was optional, made on the side to add to the chili, giving it more substance.

With or without the macaroni, I could eat her chili all day long. I never had just one bowl.

Changing the chili

Not too long ago when the snow was still flying (Just yesterday?) I decided I wanted Mom’s chili.

Finding everything I needed was pretty easy except for the beans; it took awhile to track those down. Most stores seem to carry everything but Brooks brand beans.

All’s good, right?

Well, here’s the thing. I like to get creative and “improve” on her recipe, adjusting a jot here and a tittle there. Know what I mean?

First, instead of plain tomato juice I might get V8, maybe even the spicy kind. Next, perhaps I’ll experiment with different kinds of chili powder. Then, maybe I’ll add fresh crushed garlic and throw in some hot Italian sausage with the beef, or even add some chopped up green bell peppers.

And so it goes.

Sometimes the result is pretty good. Sometimes not.

But, every time I mess with the recipe, I’m a little disappointed because it’s not Mom’s chili!

Surprise, surprise.

Even though I’m craving her chili, instead of just trusting and sticking to her recipe, I get creative and miss the mark.

I should learn better already!

Tweaking God

A friend once commented on Facebook that she thought the Bible needed to be updated or edited because certain parts seem old-fashioned and out of date.

I’m sure there are many who agree with her.

Or, even if we don’t, who of us hasn’t at one time thought, “I love God, but this one thing here in the Bible I wish wasn’t there; I’d like to pass that cup along if possible.”

In other words, we want the benefits of God’s blessings, but perhaps, we think, we can make how we live out faith a little better than how He prescribes in His Word.

You know, hold the obedience from time to time, spoon in some juicy gossip, let in a little greed here and there, substitute faith with works, slip in a dash of lust, or add just a pinch of cheating, lying, or jealousy.

Surely God is good, but with a little tweaking, we could make Him better, right?

The problem is that when we mess with God’s law, by either taking away or trying to add to (as in legalism), things tend to go awry.

Just as when I mess with my Mom’s chili recipe, the results aren’t as good.

Organic all-natural faith

David declared, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8, ESV).

He didn’t say “add salt and pepper or other seasonings to suit your taste.”

The writer of Hebrews encourages and warns us stating, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings.... ” (Hebrews 13:8-9a, ESV).

The best way to enjoy and serve God is straight up, no leaven, taking Him at His pure organic self. The Lord is best and good as is. There’s no expiration date on His love, either!

Paul’s reminder to Timothy is applicable to us as well:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17, ESV).
When it comes to living a godly life, the best recipe is to believe in the God who is the I Am, and follow the Bible He gave us, no additives, tweaking, substitutes, or editing needed.

Now, I just need to apply this truth to my Mom’s chili recipe! It’s making me hungry just thinking about it.

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Is there a recipe you play with and then wish you hadn’t? Are there parts of the Bible you wish would just go away? Can you empathize with my example above? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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