Beneath the Crust (Angel in the Kitchen)

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It’s obviously a matter of personal taste and preference: we love a loaf of crusty French bread — crispy on the outside, soft on the inside — and one of us (The better half?) absolutely adores the end slices from a loaf of bread! The extra crusty end piece from a loaf is known as the “heel.” (And, no, in this case, “You are NOT what you eat!”) But apparently, there are those among us who don’t particularly care for the crust, the more chewy part of a daily baked essential.

We may like our bread crust, but we can still sympathize with those who don’t. We can also remember a time from childhood when we mostly ate around the crust, leaving a pathetic-looking brown ring of over-cooked dough on our plates. Sometimes, however, we’d prevail upon our parents to neatly trim away the crust on our jelly sandwiches, creating a nearly perfect square of tender, strawberry- or grape-flavored goodness!

Spoiled? No doubt. But for most kids, downing the crust from a sandwich is almost as daunting as swallowing multivitamins the size of horse pills! But it’s not just kids who like having the crust cut off their sandwiches. Many adults do, too! Which is why several companies market “crust removers.” (Sounds euphemistic for a mafia hitman.) Most of these gadgets look like big square cookie cutters, and come with names like “The De-Cruster” or “The Krustbuster.”

Removing the crust from a sandwich results in an almost magical transformation: a cheese sandwich with the crust ON is a … well, a sandwich; something suitable for a picnic in the park, or a snack while watching TV. Cut away the tough crust, though, and suddenly your cheese sandwich is respectable enough to mingle with the guests at a wedding reception or other dressy occasion. A sandwich with the crust removed is transformed into a … canopay(??) … uh, canopy … canopoly…. Sigh! A fancy little finger food fit for VIPs!

Sara Lee must recognize this truth: the company began marketing their “Crustless Bread” in 2009. (So now, you can have your cake and eat it, too; which never really made sense to us, because who in the world buys cake unless they intend to eat it?) And chefs continue to devise recipes that call for the crust that people are cutting off their cana— their sandwiches. Our favorite one is for bread pudding, so feel free to mail us your excised crust.

All this crusty commentary is to make a point: some people want this dry, chewy exterior removed. It’s not a matter of being finicky; it’s a matter of preference.

God likes the crust removed, and no one in their right mind should question the Creator of the Universe concerning good taste! God makes sandwiches? Not that we know of, but He does make people. And then He trims away the crust.

In baking, the exterior of the dough comes in contact with more heat, and hence forms a thick crust that’s dryer, harder and tougher. In life, people take the heat of failures and rejection, mistakes and disappointments, pain and grief. People generally form a thick crust of fear and mistrust, selfishness and self-sufficiency, and often just plain grumpy unsociability! This protective crust is spiritually dry — not to mention tough and hardened. It insulates people from the world at large. It can prevent us from ever reaching the soft hearts buried within!

Ever meet someone with a crusty personality? “Crusty” is synonymous with irritable, cantankerous, bad-tempered, grouchy, snappish, and downright ornery. Or, to sum up crusty in a single word: uncivil. God created humans as relational beings. We were designed to enjoy the company of others, and to benefit from a close personal relationship with our Creator. So, the last thing God wants is for us to be crusted over by bad habits and attitudes, or just plain stinking thinking.

God transforms us by trimming away the crust. We slowly change (both naturally and supernaturally) from being an ordinary sandwich filled with sin and error … to an extraordinary canapé that’s tender and easy for others to partake! (Ha! Yeah, we actually can spell it.)

Next time you sense that God is cutting away some of the more crusty parts of your life, relax and rejoice–He’s preparing you for an exclusive gathering in His Kingdom!

“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts … during the time of testing in the wilderness…. But encourage one another daily … so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:7-8, 11 NIV)

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Best Friends (Hump Day Hope & Humor)

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“A friend loves at all times….” (Proverbs 17:17 NIV)

“The LORD is a friend to those who [reverence] him. He teaches them his covenant.” (Psalm 25:14 NLT)

“There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 NLT)

“I [– Jesus Christ –] no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15 NIV)

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.'” (Mark 2:5 GOD’S WORD)

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