Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Expiration Date

"Is it okay to use cheese that has mold on it? Can't I just cut off the mold and use the good part?"

This was a recent question on the new Rachel Ray television show. It got my attention because I'm guilty of letting food park in my refrigerated "garage" too long. I hate to let things go to waste, but I won't use food that might make me sick. So how do you know?

Rachel Ray answered the cheese question by saying the moldy cheese will never taste as good again, even if the mold is removed, UNLESS it was a moldy cheese to begin with, such as gorgonzola. She went on to the next offensive items in the refrigerator, those past their expiration date. We've heard it time and time again that the expiration date is there for a reason, but what if the date is a "sell by" date instead? Then how do you know if the item is still okay? Usually it is the milk that has a sell by date, and there is an easy way to tell if it has gone bad, if you are willing to recruit your nose for the job!

One tip I learned early in my marriage was how to know if eggs are still fresh (and these CAN be used past the expiration date). Put the suspicious egg in a bowl of salted cold water. If it floats, throw it out. If it sinks, it is fresh. If it swims somewhere in the middle of the water-neither floating or sinking-it is safe to use for baking or for deviled eggs, but not fresh enough for an eggs and bacon breakfast.

All this talk about expiration dates got me to thinking about our time to leave this Earth. Some believe when it is your time to go, it will happen no matter what you do to alter the date and time. I know a few cases documented in the Bible of people who actually were able to bargain with God for a later expiration date.

One thing we should focus on more than the expiration date is the "use by" date. Yep-I fooled you. That is the same as the expiration date. You know what that tells me? All creation is meant to be USEFUL to the very end. But keep in mind that usefulness to God might be different from the "usefulness" our guilt-trips try to persuade us to do. While service is good, what God really finds useful is when we are fellowshipping with Him. This is what He created us for.

In the great egg test of life, I hope God finds that I sink rather than float. And if you knew my swimming ability, you would realize just how possible that might be!

Feeling expired? Trade it in for feeling INSPIRED.

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