The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread!

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What could be better than bread? It’s called the staff of life, because throughout time, grain products have sustained people across the globe. Hop in a time machine and visit any era — in any area of the world, and you’ll simply confirm that bread was (and continues to be) an important part of nearly every meal. In fact, bread was often the chief staple of those meals, sometimes complimented only by a small piece of fish or cheese. Hence, bread had value far beyond its price, eventually leading to the slang usage of the words dough and bread to signify money: “He’s rolling in the dough”; or “If you want me to go shopping for you, I’ll need some bread.”

Biscuits, bagels, and buns; crackers, cornbread, and cakes; Matzah and melba toast. Whether it’s unleavened or yeasty, whole grain or gluten free, made from wheat, barley or rye, baked as rolls, flatbread or flakes, every nationality and people group seems to have a favorite. Visit your local supermarket and you’ll find many specialty breads: high-fiber and specialty grain products such as Ezekiel bread; artisan breads, Hawaiian rolls, and English muffins. Around Easter and Chanukah you’ll find Challah bread. And Pepperidge Farms markets seasonal breads such as Pumpkin Spice and Apple Cinnamon.

We’re fortunate to have all this variety. We were making sandwiches recently, and started pondering the diversity and utility of various breads. We like ham on rye, pastrami on Italian, and peanut butter on double-fiber. By the way, sandwiches were invented by a chef looking for a way to serve meats and cheeses to his employer, who insisted on eating with his fingers while playing cards — but who didn’t want the playing cards to get greasy. The chef soon hit upon the idea that he could serve the Earl of Sandwich a layer of cold meat wrapped within two pieces of bread. People have been eating cards and playing sandwiches ever since — or something like that.

We use Arnold’s thick-sliced Dutch Country Potato Bread when we’re making French toast, because it’s slightly denser and comes in thicker slices than regular bread. Hence it soaks up more of the egg and cinnamon mixture. And there’s nothing like a slice of Wonder Bread lightly toasted with butter and jam! Wonder Bread is plain old ultra-refined white bread. We’re not sure this after-school favorite of kids still enjoys the same popularity it did 50 years ago. Sometime around the 1980s, refined bread fell out of fashion. Health-conscious people started buying whole wheat, which was more expensive at the supermarket. People who couldn’t afford whole wheat were stuck with the cheap white bread which, considering the history of commercial baking, is indeed ironic.

Prior to the late 20th century, bleached and ultra-refined white bread was more expensive than its unrefined sibling, wheat bread. As a matter of fact, only “poor” people ate wheat bread. To quote a line from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, white bread or “‘baker’s bread’—[is] what the quality eat; none of your low-down corn-pone.” Thanks to Wonder Bread and other companies, however, by 1950 practically everybody was serving sliced white bread at meals. Which brings us back to our opening question: What could be better than bread?

Answer: sliced bread! Don’t snicker, because we’ve all learned it’s the gold standard against which everything else is measured. When we think something is truly innovative, we proclaim, “It’s the best thing since sliced bread!” And just imagine, what if before you could make yourself a sandwich you had to first slice the bread. TV commercials would need to be longer to give us more time in the kitchen! Plus, you’d need one of those special bread knives or the loaf just squishes.

Thank goodness, someone had the brilliant idea of … um … cutting out the extra work. In 1930, Wonder Bread was the first nationally-marketed bread that came pre-sliced. No wonder Wonder took off in popularity.

So many types of bread from which to choose, and yet there’s another. A bread far more essential, far more beneficial, and far far the greatest thing since sliced bread! It’s the spiritual Bread of Life, represented by Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Jesus said, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4 NLT)

We may need baked bread to sustain our physical bodies. But we’re also spiritual beings created in God’s own image. Hence, we also need spiritual bread: Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life! …Anyone who eats the bread will live forever….” (John 6:48-51 NLT) And just as we find baked breads everywhere in life, there’s nowhere we can go where God is not present. “…Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, [can] separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39 NIV)

Have you partaken of God’s Bread of Life? If not, don’t continue to avoid Him. Join Him at His spiritual table. And once you’ve received Him, remember to consume some of His spiritual Wonder Bread each day: the Word of God — it’s the best thing since sliced bread!

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Preventing Clogs! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Here’s a trivia question for you: What do you call the funny little metal cup that fits in the drain of the kitchen sink and works like a mini colander? Is it called a strainer basket? We’ve also heard it called drainer basket, sink basket, basket drainer, or the “funny little metal cup that fits in the drain of the kitchen sink”! Whatever it’s called, thank God it’s there because it really works well to prevent a lot of problems.

Whoever came up with the idea should have gotten a medal, and maybe he or she did. Then again, the basket drainer should have been a no-brainer. (Did you read how that rhymed?) At some point, someone must have realized that all kinds of stuff was going down the drain and clogging the pipes. Maybe in the beginning someone simply put a piece of cloth, or even a section of metal screen, over the drain to keep chunks of food from going down the pipes.

YUCK!!

You’d be amazed at the innovations people come up with in order to avoid trouble on down the line (pardon the pun) and, hence, extra work. Who wants a clogged pipe? The water backs up and the sink becomes useless. And anyone with an ounce of foresight can look at that huge drain opening and imagine everything from broccoli stumps to chicken bones going down the pipe. Well, almost anyone; we wonder if Drano was invented by someone with no foresight?

Believe it or not, God gave all of us enough foresight to know that there are certain preventive measures we need to take. God has given each of us the equivalent of a strainer basket, and He expects us to use it.

Ewww! Get that junk outa my water bowl.

The Holy Spirit acts as a strainer basket. He “guides us into all truths” (John 16:13) and thereby enables us to determine right from wrong; and thus to make wise decisions. So that we’re not “swallowing” everything that comes down the social pipeline. We’re not swallowing the half-truths and outright lies we hear daily, or the false teachings of strange religions.

We’re living in an age that preaches relativism: “right” and “wrong” frequently change depending on the circumstances or the needs and desires of the social majority; and there are “grey areas”! Not true. There are absolutes in life, based on the Word of God, which allow us to determine right from wrong. These absolutes (call them “standards”) provide reference points for the moral compass everyone needs to stay on target. Without the absolutes and standards set by God’s Word, we can easily lose our way and get lost. “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NLT)

So we need to be vigilant to strain out any falsehoods and misinformation we hear and read. Erroneous thinking can clog your mind and spirit and stop the flow of God’s influence, power and blessing in your life. And in the same way, we need to set boundaries to prevent harmful things from flowing into our lives: unhealthy relationships, bad habits, compromising situations, unethical business ventures — anything that might stop up the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This should be a no-brainer.

Keep your pipes and your spiritual lifeline free of nasty clogs!

“Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 GOD’S WORD)

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