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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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.

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)

Thorns, Cares & Riches

Matthew 13:22 (KJV)

 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Every summer, when I was a little girl, my mother would require my older sister and I to weed “the hill.”

Begrudgingly, we’d wake up in the wee morning hours to avoid the heat of the Southern California sun at midday, put on our garden gloves and start digging & pulling thorns out from the MASSIVE hill. (I may over-exaggerate a bit….but when you’re a kid, everything seems MASSIVE doesn’t it?!)

After several days of digging & pulling, “the hill” would be restored to its original beautiful landscape.

But you know what? By the next summer, we’d be out there digging & pulling MORE stinkin’ thorns!

Ugh.

Such is the case with children of God. We get saved and God gives us a glimpse of the beautiful landscape that He has planned for our lives. We soon discover, however, that as we seek His Kingdom, He begins to reveal hidden thorns that the enemy has planted on our hill! Yet, by His grace, we can believe His promise to deliver us and we can wake up in the wee morning hours, put on our garden gloves, and ask Him to start digging & pulling the cares & riches out!

Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word for cares as merimna: “to draw in different direction, distract…that which causes a care, especially an anxious care.” Cares of the world can be any thorn the enemy plants in our mind that convinces us to believe a lie, instead of God’s truth. We can be distracted and anxious over our marriage, our children, our friends, our position at work, our position in the church- all of which choke out the Word, as people & position become more important to us than our Lord and Savior. Cares believe the lie that without the relationship or position, we won’t be loved or accepted. In short, we’ll be abandoned and alone.

Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word for riches as pluotos: “wealth, money, possessions, abundance…used evilly.” Basically, it’s any tangible thing that we own which was obtained with a greedy heart. Riches believe the lie that God will not provide everything we need. It justifies “wants” as “needs.”

Our church just finished a sermon series on The Parables of the Four Soils in Matthew 13. Although it isn’t yet summer here in North Carolina (even though some days it feels like it!), the seed that I received from those teachings encouraged me to wake up in the wee morning hours, put on my garden gloves, and dig into the rich soil of God’s Word. I’ve come to realize that the enemy’s thorns will continue trying to choke out Truth to keep His Spirit from producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in my life. BUT, I don’t need to worry, because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. His Spirit will lead me into all Truth. When I seek Him, I will find Him. When I ask Him, He will reveal any cares of this world & deceitfulness of riches that have taken root in my soul. When I confess my sin to Him, He will forgive me. And if that weren’t enough, He’ll even restore my hill to its intended beauty.

Is your life producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any hidden thorns that are choking out His Word. Confess, repent and forgive for believing the lies associated with cares & riches. Choose to trust God in all things- and watch as He restores the landscape of your life into His intended beauty.

Bitter Jealousy

Acts 8:18-24

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. 19 “Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!”

20 But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. 22 Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, 23 for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”

24 “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”

Simon had been a sorcerer- astounding the people of Samaria with magic tricks. Yet when he heard the Good News of Philip’s message, he believed in Jesus Christ and was baptized! Simon was saved….. but he wasn’t instantly sanctified.

In Acts chapter 8, we discover that as Simon watched Peter and John lay hands on believers to receive the Holy Spirit, he wanted something.

But what he wanted was wrong:

He wanted power.

He wanted to be the apostles.

He wanted their gifts.

He wanted to be an instant leader in the Kingdom.

He wanted others to acknowledge and praise him (as they did when he was performing magic shows).

And then….to get what he wanted, Simon tried to manipulate Peter and John, through bribery!

Peter, however, wanted to obey the Lord.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter realized that Simon’s heart was not right with God. He quickly rebuked him for his bitter jealousy, urging him to repent for the wickedness in his soul and ask God’s forgiveness for his evil thoughts.

Jealousy.

Bitter Jealousy.
As a new believer, I sometimes looked at church leaders and longed to minister the way they did. Like Simon, my heart wasn’t motivated to bring glory to God or advance His Kingdom. I was jealous. Sometimes bitterly jealous of the praise and attention my leaders received on- and off the stage. Several times the Holy Spirit brought conviction and rebuke from my authority to correct me. I too, was given the opportunity to repent and be forgiven for the evil lurking in my soul. And when I did, God graciously sanctified the wicked areas by exchanging them with his holiness.

Sadly, many believers often receive revelation through rebuke as Simon did, but they still refuse to repent. In their pride, they tell their leaders (or friends) to “pray for them.” Instead of submitting their will through personal confession and repentance, they hide. Instead of fearing God, they fear the terrible things (v. 24) that might happen. Instead of taking responsibility for their sin, they blame others.

Are you bitterly jealous of a leader in the Kingdom of God?

Are you trying to manipulate others to get the provision, power or position you want?

IMG_2961.jpgSubmit your will to the Lord and ask Him to deliver you from evil!!!

Confess.

Repent.Be forgiven.

Be set free.

Then GO…share the Good News with the gifts God has given YOU to advance His Kingdom.

Good Things

Ephesians 2:8-10

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

“It’s all gooooood,” is a popular statement used among southerners as a blanket to cover up negative emotions or blatant sin. The truth is, it is not all good. God is all good, but we are not – and every thing we do is not good.

We live in an instant grit world (forgive the analogy: I’ve lived most of my life below the Mason-Dixon line). Unfortunately, the church often reflects the same worldview when it comes to doing good things. We want people to be saved, but we don’t want to take the time to help them become a disciple.

Making disciples is a deliberate, slow process.

IMG_2342.JPGLike making good ‘ol fashioned grits. You’ve gotta get the pan out, boil the water, add the organic stone ground grits, simmer for 20 minutes while stirring occasionally, add the butter, salt and pepper and perhaps a little red-eye gravy (I prefer mine with cheese and shrimp!).

Nope. We prefer to make instant disciples.

Just rip open the pre-packaged made-in-a-factory bag of “grits,” pour them into a plastic bowl with tap water and microwave on high for 1 minute (then we’re shocked when they don’t taste as good as what mama makes!).

Not good.

The disciples spent years….hello!?! years being prepared by Jesus before He sent them out to do good works. Sure, they served others by passing the baskets of fish and loaves to the crowd and collecting the leftovers, but they didn’t go make disciples until the Holy Spirit baptized them with His power- after Jesus died, was buried, raised from the dead and appeared to them (that took longer than a minute, right?!)

When we boast about all the good things we’re doing in advancing His Kingdom it’s a sign that we’re trying to take credit for our (and perhaps others) salvation. But when we truly believe that by grace, God saved us, we will know (not just intellectually, but in our spirit) that we are His masterpiece. And when we realize that we are His masterpiece, we will submit to Him as Creator. And when we submit to Him as Creator, He will teach us what is true, and correct us when we are wrong. And when we realize we are wrong, we’ll want to repent. And when we repent, He’ll teach us to do what is right. And when we know what is right, we will obey His commands. And when we obey His commands, He’ll know that we love Him. And then…. then, we’ll be equipped to do every good work that He planned for us long ago: go make more disciples.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

This process doesn’t happen in an instant, ya’ll. But it will happen, if we are faithful to the One who has called us by name, who laid down His life to save us, and who promises that He will refine us by the fire of His Spirit so that our lives -and our good deeds will reflect His glory.