It’s salt or no salt (the truth according to Bob)

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by Bob Walsh

Feeling deprived at not having a belly button, I once asked my dad what they were used for. He told me that the belly button was for those times when you are laying on your back in bed watching TV; you can keep salt in there to dip your celery into it. Although an abdominal hernia at a young age deprived me of that odd luxury, I do adamantly, crave salt in my diet.

Salt is one of those daily commodities that can be either very good for you or very bad for you depending on the situation and the usage. If you have a history of high blood pressure, for example, you may choose to use it moderately if at all. On the other hand, if you have a history of zucchini-eating slugs in your garden, salt can become very helpful in chemical warfare.

In the Bible, salt is generally referred to with a positive connotation. There was, however, that one time in Genesis 19, when Lot’s wife became the first human salt shaker to stand out like a pillar in society when she looked back to Sodom and Gomorrah. The lesson there being that hindsight isn’t always 20-20 when it involves God’s judgments.

But generally, salt is used in the Bible to represent permanence, in-corruption, cleanliness and for spiritual preservation. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus says that believers are the “salt of the earth.” I suppose He could have said we are the “sweetener in the tea of life,” but He didn’t. We aren’t here to make the world easier to swallow, but rather, to cleanse it with the witness and testimony of Christ in our lives. The world is a wound that was opened during the fall of man, and salt will always burn in an opened wound as it heals. Paul writes the Colossians and tells them to “let your conversation be always full of grace and seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

As Christians we should be walking, talking saltines standing firm as pillars of the incorruptible righteousness offered by grace through faith in Christ. Even Jesus warns us in Matthew 5, not to lose our saltiness as to be thrown out and trampled by man. Therefore, as far as the Bible is concerned, there is no such thing as too much salt in our diets. We can hide in the pantry where we feel safe, or we can get out in our little world and shake things up for Christ. The choice is still up to us. And, thank God, we don’t even need a belly button to do it!

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It’s a lot like life

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by Mike Hellum

So I get the “Last Word” this week. The Last Word is the section at the end of the newsletter that links to this week’s column or blog. That means I have just a few sentences to catch your attention and motivate you to come back tomorrow and read the rest of what I wrote.

Come to think of it, the “Last Word” is a lot like life, and what we encounter every day in our attempts to be a witness to our faith. Just like I only have a few sentences to catch your attention here, I frequently have a short window to catch the attention of others, too. Because of the books I read, people are frequently curious. They may comment at times when there’s not much time for an extended conversation so I’m learning to have a short comment about what I’m reading that invites conversation. Or if the timing isn’t there for a conversation, at least I can get a bug in their head about what I believe, and why it should interest them.

1 Peter 3:15 says we should always be ready to give a reason for the hope that lies within us. On top of that, Jesus says in Matt. 5:13 that we are the salt of the earth. One of the characteristics of salt is that it stings when rubbed into wound; I’m pretty sure that’s not what Jesus is driving at here. He probably meant it as a metaphor for a preservative and a seasoning agent. So not only should we be ready to give a reason for the hope within us, but it should be “salty” (i.e., interesting). Have you ever considered coming up with a brief testimony, an answer that makes people want to come back and know more?

When I read books like the one I just finished reading (one of the New Atheist’s diatribes against God), it stands out all the more clearly the hope we have in Christ. I invite you to come up with a brief and interesting personal testimony that you’re ready to give at all times. It not only makes your life easier, but you’re doing your neighbor a huge favor. Make it compelling, because it is. So did I catch your attention? If you actually read this far, I invite you to stand up and shout, “I believe in Bigfoot, UFO’s, and the reincarnation of Elvis Presley!” But you might want to have a brief and salty explanation of why you did that, too.

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Running for the prize

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by Tom Chase

Run in such a way to get the prize,” Paul’s admonition to the church (1 Corinthians 9:19-27) kept going though my mind. The day of the AWANA skate night was drawing nearer. You see, one activity that happens during the evening is the races. They split the guys and the girls and then by various ages competing to see who can make one lap the fastest. I decided to skate that night in part because of the race. Here was my chance to win the prize. Don’t misunderstand me, I had no delusional ideas about wining the race – I am not a great skater. In fact, I had chosen not to skate the previous year for my own safety and perhaps the safety of others. But this year was different. I wanted to win the prize so I chose to skate and I entered the race. As it turned out, I won the prize for which I was racing! How is that possible?

The prize for which I risked body and limb was a free soda from the concession stand. They give a coupon to all the race participants. So I entered and I won! Shortly after the race, I was enjoying the spoils of my labors with a smile on my face.

There is a parallel to this in my spiritual life. One that I am finding challenging.

We as believers find ourselves in a race in which the prize we are seeking (or at least should be) is not always the same as the participants around us.

So what then is to be our goal, the prize we are seeking?  It is more than salvation. It is far more than that. We grow in relationship with the creator God through Christ. Paul’s prayer for us, in Philippians 1:9, as Pastor Martin shared is, “…that our love [for God] may abound more and more …” It is in the context of this relationship that we are compelled further. God has given each of us, varying interests, gifts and abilities, and more recently called “affinities,” in order to make Christ known. It is in these, that sharing Christ should be most natural.

For me, sharing Christ has not become natural enough. Sharing Christ, the good news, needs to really be my affinity, my desire, and my passion. If that is my main pursuit, then my interests, gifts and abilities become aids to that end. This is a good place to begin. However, Paul not only shares Christ through areas of his own interests but takes it even further, “I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:22-23). Wherever we are that’s where we should start.

Lord, use our voices. Lord, use our hands. Lord, use our lives: They are yours, We are an offering …

Then we too may share in the blessings of the gospel. What a prize to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

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