Salt, Light, and Uber Mushrooms

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My son Nathan (far left) and I training up a generation of future mushroom hunters.

By Larry Short

In worship last weekend, we heard Pastor Martin share from John 2 of Christ’s consuming passion for both the symbolic and manifest presence of God in our midst.

For the Jews of His day, that symbolic presence was the Temple. Christ’s passion for this powerful symbol of God’s presence in the midst of His people was so consuming that this most meek, humble, and lowly of men stunned religious leaders, bystanders, and even His own disciples by making a whip of cords and forcefully driving exploiters out of His Father’s House of Prayer! (That would have been something to see!)

Passion for the Presence

One of the most fascinating things about this passage, to me, is the few verses that follow it. They reveal that while the Temple was the symbolic presence of God, the real presence of God there in Jerusalem, the real “Temple,” was the Body of Jesus Himself:

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.

Martin then went on to connect this passage with 1 Corinthians 3:16:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

The implications are profound. We are to be consumed with zeal for the presence of God in His Church, the Body of Christ—both corporately and locally, and, more specifically, as He dwells in the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ! Loving each other well is how the world will know we are His disciples. We are to burn with passion for His Church, His presence in the midst of a dark and decaying world.

Being Salt and Light

We are also to honor God’s presence in our own hearts by seeking His holiness and by being salt and light as He calls us to be.

Recently, on my personal blog, I shared how God used Cindy, one of our sisters in Christ here at Elim, to help me understand how He wanted me to recognize that part of the purpose for this particular season in my life, having been laid off from my career job with World Vision, was to “clear out the rubble” so I could move forward to see and embrace what He next had for me.

I had an epiphany of sorts about this while Martin was sharing on Sunday. He spoke about how he had struggled to understand how he could be salt and light while working completely within the “Christian bubble” that is Elim and how, as a result in 2017, he was planning to move “out of the bubble” and become a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) in order to start sprinkling salt into some of the places in our world that really needed it!

This made me think about what God was doing in my own heart and life. At World Vision, I too frequently felt frustrated that I never really had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the unsaved. (World Vision is another “Christian bubble.”)

Then, guess what? My “bubble” got burst! I was laid off. Since then, God has been building four new things into my life, and it wasn’t until Sunday that I realized each of them is an opportunity for me to become better salt and light. Here are the four things:

  • Writing a science fiction novel
  • Tutoring for the Puyallup School District
  • Developing a mushroom business, training young ‘shroom hunters, and writing about what fungus teaches us about the presence and heart of God
  • Driving for Uber, which has created many opportunities to share Jesus’s love with more than a few (because they asked)

For more about how each of these four activities creates opportunities for me to be salt and light (and how fungus declares the glory of God), see this blog post.

Salt and Light Is Humble and Simple, Right?

Working for nearly minimum wage as a tutor or a wannabe taxi driver is not something I anticipated as God’s best for me when I was laid off from World Vision. (Although I could see myself gushing about mushrooms or writing sci-fi! I’m weird, I know.) Compared to what I achieved and experienced at that wonderful organization, what I am doing now is humbling in the truest sense of that word. But as I realized as Pastor Martin was teaching, it’s not something I chose; it’s something God chose for me, even as I prayed for His best for my life and for how He might use me in His Kingdom.

So, that’s my challenge to each of us as we consider how God wants to use US to be salt and light. You may not be the next American Idol, or the Great American Novelist. But, maybe, does God want you to serve others in the humblest ways possible? Perhaps He wants you to help a bedridden invalid, or care for a foster child, or ride the bus and talk to a hurting stranger, or build and hand out homeless survival kits. Or maybe He wants you to spend your time and energy praying (in obscurity, like countless prayer warriors before you) for anyone and everyone. Who knows?

Being salt and light is not just an individual responsibility for the believer; it’s a Body responsibility. So we are also to encourage and hold each other accountable as we seek to “march off the map” and influence a world that desperately needs Jesus.

Pray for His best (both for you, for Elim, and for the Kingdom), and then let Him lead you where He wishes to!

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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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