Salt Life

Matthew 5:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

In verse 1 of the 5th chapter of Matthew crowds once again were gathering around Jesus. He left them, choosing instead to go up the mountain and sit with His disciples for another teaching opportunity about the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus told the 12, “you are the salt of the earth.” His disciples were no longer part of the crowd. They were set apart on the mountainside- and they would be set apart in life.

They were to live the salt life.

According to science.howstuffworks.com salt already exists far below the earths surface. In order to extract the mineral and use it for seasoning, deep mining shafts are required to drudge it from the pit of darkness into the light of day. This process requires continual drilling, cutting and blasting of dirt, rocks and sediment to break the salt free.

Long before salt was created, God existed. Long before minerals were tucked into the depths of the earth, God called His children by name. He called His children to be disciples. He called them to be salt. He provided the way for them to be salt: He crushed His Son. Through Him, they would have eternal and abundant lives. Then He gave them the power to be salty: The Holy Spirit. And then… the mining process began. He drilled deep shafts into their souls to break the salt free that was hidden within the darkness. He drudged the mineral to the surface, so that others would taste and see that the Lord was good (Psalm 34:8)!

When you respond to Gods call by believing and confessing that Jesus is Lord, you are salt. But in order to live the salt life- in order to go, make disciples you will require continual deep shaft mining. When you invest time, day after day, getting to know the Lord through His Word, prayer and with His church (other believers), the Holy Spirit will drill into your soul. He will cut through the hardness of your heart and reveal the mineral that exists deep within. Through confession, repentance, forgiveness (drilling, cutting, blasting), your sin and those who have sinned against you will be forgiven. You will be crushed and His flavor will be hauled to the surface where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will emerge.

Salt life.

Has your life lost its flavor?

When the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life rule your mind, will and emotions you shut down the deep shaft mine to the Holy Spirit. You don’t study the Word. You don’t pray (except in public – to be noticed). You don’t confess. You don’t repent. You don’t forgive. You are convinced that you’re right about everything and everyone else is a bunch of idiots. You don’t love our wife. You don’t submit to your husband. You don’t train your children.

Immediately after His declaration on the mountain, the Lord gave His disciples (present & future) a stern warning about being salt without flavor: what they did in His name would be thrown out, trampled on, and essentially…worthless- if they did not know Him (see Matthew 7:21-23).

But…the Good News is still the Good News! IF you choose to humble yourself, pray, seek Him and turn from sin, He will hear, forgive and restore your saltiness.

You are the salt.

Now go, live the salt life!

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The Way

Proverbs 22:6 New Life Version (NLV)

Bring up a child by teaching him the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.

fullsizeoutput_4d9fRecently, a child of ours (who shall remain nameless in order to protect his/her identity!) was dutifully completing their morning chores and independent homeschool work for the day. Halfway through our lesson together however, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper that all the required subjects had not been completed. I stopped what we were doing and instructed the child to retrieve their school schedule. I asked about the first assignment,

“What did you read about in the Bible today?”

“Bible?”

“Yes, Bible. What did you read about?”

“Um….I forgot about the Bible, but I’m gonna do it!”

Lie.

Cover up.

I continued down the list, asking specific questions regarding the subjects and activities that were supposedly completed. Tears began to emerge from the child’s eyes but the lips continued to mutter dishonest responses in an attempt to avoid the inevitable.

“Child,” I said “you didn’t forget. You deliberately chose NOT to do your schoolwork, because you wanted to hurry up and go play with your friends.”

Tears and sobs.

“Why are you crying, child?”

“Because, I’m ….in….TROUBLE!!!!”

“Why are you in trouble?”

“Because, you….are…..mad….at ME!”

“Why would I be mad at you?”

“Because, I…didn’t….do….my schoolwork!”

“No. I’m mad because you disobeyed. I’m mad because you lied. I’m mad because you tried to cover it up.”

More tears. Louder sobbing.

“Why are you so upset?

“Because, I’m… in…. TROUBLE!!!”

“Child, you’re not in trouble, you’re guilty.”

Truth.

“You’re upset because you got caught – not because you were convicted of sin. So, in order to train you in the way you should go (obedient & truthful), I’m going to discipline you. I discipline you because I love you.”

Hebrews 12:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.

“You are confined to your bedroom and our yard. You may not play with your friends today. And, you will go back and complete ALL your subjects.”

Then the principal (aka, my husband!) re-enforced the training. He read Ephesians 6:1, prayed over and exhorted our child to confess and repent. An hour or so later, that young student humbly came to the teacher (me) and whispered “mommy, I’m sorry I disobeyed…would you please forgive me?”

“Yes, child, I forgive you.”

Big hug.

Like the child I am now training, I have disobeyed, lied and tried to cover up my sin. But I’ve learned to put away childlike things (1 Corinthians 13:11) and humble myself before the Father.

Over and over again, He’s forgiven me.

Over and over again He’s hugged me.

Over and over again He’s shown mercy.

Over and over again He’s disciplined me – because He loves me.

Over and over again He’s delivered me from evil.

Over and over again He’s restored my soul.

As a parent, I’ve discovered that I can only train our children in the way that they should go if I know the way.  Jesus is the waythe truth and the life.

Do you know the way?

Are you going the wrong way?

Are you upset because you keep getting caught?

Dear child, allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin. Humble yourself before the Father. Confess. Repent. Be forgiven. Be delivered from evil. Then discipline your flesh, obey the way, and train your children.

Deep Grief

James 4:7-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

IMG_6986Although I was raised in a Christian home, attended Sunday school, church services, VBS and youth group, I didn’t believe in the Lord until I was 9 months pregnant with our first child. Feeling like a beached whale lying on our bed, waves of tears streamed down my face as the reality of my separation from God began to crash over me. I knew I was completely unworthy of being loved and forgiven. Yet, at the urging of my husband, I poured out my sorrow to the Lord, confessed my sin, and proclaimed His Kingdom come, His will be done in my life.

It was many years later that my soul experienced the deep grief James speaks of. Like a child, I had been sorry for getting in trouble with my heavenly Father. I was even sorrowful for my disobedience…but I never felt grief.

Getting past the obligatory “I’m sorry” takes a depth of humility that only comes through continual submission to the Lord. When we humble ourselves in the light of His glory, we choose to surrender our will so that we can come close to Him. When He comes close to us, the power of His living water begins to pour over our filthy hands and the intense heat of His all-consuming fire purifies our hearts. His truth exposes the lies that are hidden within the dark places of our soul, proving that we are divided between our worship of Him -and the world. When we SEE the object of our worship, we realize our sin nailed Him to that cross. Tears drip down our face, like the blood that dripped from the thorny crown upon His head. Sorrow pierces our soul like the spear that pierced His side.

Then death comes, followed by deep grief.

Confession, which is simply admitting sin, brings tears and sorrow. But, repentance, which is acknowledging that our sin produces death, brings deep grief.

Jesus died for our sin. He overcame death. By believing in Him, trusting Him, loving Him and obeying Him, we can have LIFE- eternally and in abundance.

Are you stuck in a continual cycle of confessing sin?

Have you been doing all the “right” religious things (Sunday school, church services, VBS and youth group) to try and stop?

Have you shed a few tears?

Have you felt sorrow (distress, disappointment) over your actions?

Then do you sin….again?

My fellow disciple,

Tears and sorrow won’t deliver you from evil. JESUS is the deliverer. You must confess and repent of the sin that is lurking deep within your soul. Trust me, God will give you the grace to do so, if you humble yourself (James 4: 6).

YOURSELF.

Humble yourself.

No one else can do it for you. Not your spouse, not your friend, not your pastor.

When you humble yourself, confess and repent, the Holy Spirit will enable you to resist the devil and he WILL flee! You will draw close to God and He WILL draw near to you! There WILL be tears and sorrow and deep grief for your rebellion! There WILL be sadness and gloom. But, God WILL lift you up in honor!

“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

Be Entirely Clean

John 13:2-15 New Living Translation (NLT)

It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas,[a] son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”

“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”

Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet,[b] to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.

As my groom and I sat drinking our morning coffee last weekend, I began reading the above familiar passage out loud. As the Holy Spirit often does, He surprised me when this verse seemed to jump right off the page:

10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.”

Jesus taught Kingdom principles through parables. He told life stories about every day mundane things to those who followed Him and those He called His disciples. Those with ears to hear understood immediately the hidden truth woven through His words. Those with slight hearing loss would understand someday. And those that were deaf would never understand.

As Jesus began washing His disciples feet, He told Peter (who was suffering from slight hearing loss) that he would understand what he was doing…someday. Like Peter, with hearing problems, we understand the Kingdom principle of serving through this parable-like story of Jesus, penned by John. But when we grab the q-tips and clean out our ears, we hear the Holy Spirit whisper the hidden meaning woven through our Teacher’s words:

10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet,[b] to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.”

  • When we belong to Jesus, He bathes us all over (salvation = spirit)
  • When we belong to Jesus, we are washed and made clean (repentance = soul, baptism = body).
  • When our feet get dirty from battle, (armor of God; Ephesians 6:15) we can sit in His presence every day and be made entirely clean (sanctification = soul).
  • When we belong to Jesus, we follow His example and “wash each others feet” (salvation = preach the Good News to others, sanctification = minister to others souls, serve = others needs in the body of Christ)

cropped-cropped-cropped-cropped-img_59963.jpgYou cannot wash someone else’s feet if you don’t belong to Jesus.

Have you been bathed all over?

Are you a clean disciple?

Do your feet need to be washed – again?

Sit down at the table with Jesus. Watch as He takes off His robe for you, wraps a towel around His waist for you, and pours living water into a basin for you. Let Him wash the dirt from your feet. Then get up and go love others the way He has loved you.

A Special Rest

Hebrews 4:6-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts.”[a]

Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest[b] still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

Rest.

It’s almost become a cuss word in the American culture.

“Take a day off? Are you kidding me? ! I have WAY too much to do! There’s so much work and so little time!”

From the beginning of creation, God made a way for His people to rest from their labor. As a good Father does, He led by example. God didn’t need to rest on the 7th day, (He’s all sufficient in Himself!) but He knew that we would need rest for our body and soul.

Earthly rest.

Before the foundations of the earth God also made another type of rest. Scripture refers to it as a “special rest.” When our earthly bodies cease to exist and we move into our heavenly home, we will enter eternal rest as we worship God all day and all night, forever and ever.

Eternal rest.

But what about today? Why does this earthly rest elude us? The writers of Hebrews give us the clue, which unlocks the mystery: the word of God exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Failure to rest on the 7th day exposes our disobedience. Our actions speak what our heart believes:

“I’m more than able than you, the Creator of the universe, to work 7 days straight.”

“I don’t trust that you will provide all my needs (and my wants), so I have to get my hours in to pay the bills.”

“I don’t love you with all my heart. I love others more, so I refuse to say “no” to what what they ask or expect of me.”

If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, exhausted, or over worked, I encourage you to be still. Know God. Ask the Lord to cut between your soul & spirit to expose your innermost thoughts and desires. Then confess, repent, be forgiven and enter in to His perfect rest. IMG_2397 copy

Matthew 11:28-30 New Living Translation (NLT)

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

 

 

 

Prepare the Way

Matthew 3:1-3 (NLT)
In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.[a]” The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said,
“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”[b]
 
11 “I baptize with[a] water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.[b]

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry. His message was simple: repent. John’s preaching cut through religion and pierced the heart: sin has destroyed your relationship with God. Repent! Be restored to God. John’s ministry tilled the hard soil for the One who would come to sew the seed of salvation.

I am John the Baptist. The ministry God has appointed and anointed me for is to prepare the way for Jesus.

You are John the Baptist. The ministry God has appointed and anointed you for is to prepare the way for Jesus.

The church is John the Baptist. The ministry God has appointed and anointed us for is to prepare the way for Jesus.

John 3:26-30 (NLT)
26 So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”
27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven.28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the bridegroom’s friend is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

But sometimes sin blocks the way…

In my pride, I can believe that MY ministry is who I am. In a struggle for significance on this earth or a desire to be esteemed by others I can hold on close fisted to the ministry God has appointed and anointed me for. Over a decade ago, I was preparing the way for MY ministry. I had served faithfully in children’s ministry organizing resources, soothing crying toddlers, changing stinky diapers on infants, singing and dancing to kids worship with 6-12 year olds – I did it all. Focusing solely on MY ministry, I neglected my relationship with God, my spouse and our children. My fist was so tightly closed around my role in the church that no one, NO ONE was gonna take it away from me.

But God.

God.

The associate pastor hired a new children’s director who instantly became my superior. She was also one of my best friends. As I struggled to submit to her authority, I simultaneously struggled to hold on closed fisted to MY ministry. Rebellion, chaos and disunity ensued. Eventually I was fired- from my volunteer position.

Angry? Absolutely! And I made sure God and everyone else knew it. I vomited insult after insult about my rights being violated and the evil actions of my fellow ministers in the body of Christ.

But God.

God.

As a loving Father does, when a child finally returns He welcomed me into His everlasting arms and the tension of my closed fists released. He was becoming greater and greater and I was becoming less and less.

DSC_0419During my discipleship journey the Holy Spirit has continually helped me to humbly turn back to God. I’ve learned to be still. I’ve come to know Him. I’ve started obeying His commands. I’ve been washed in His magnificent love for me. I’ve repented. I’ve been forgiven. I’ve forgiven others. I’ve been delivered from evil. I’ve been redeemed from my rebellion. I’ve been restored in my soul. And as I’ve opened my hands to the ministry He’s appointed & anointed me for I have had the privilege of preparing the way for others to meet and know Jesus. He has become greater and greater and I have become less and less!

Dear child of God,

Release the death grip you have on YOUR ministry. Willingly open your closed fists to the Lord. Otherwise, He may need to fire you from your role to save your soul. He loves you. He wants you to know Him. He wants you to worship Him, not your ministry. He wants you to obey His commands so that you may have everlasting and abundant life!

Let go.

Trust God.

He will work all things for your good if you love Him.

Love, Me (& John the Baptist)