Be Salt, Matthew 5:13

side view of a bottle with salt
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I’m in a bible study right now that is going through the book Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg and each chapter the author explores a food and how it is used in the Bible to teach us about Jesus and His kingdom and how we should live. I just started chapter 5 and it’s about Salt. I enjoyed the chapter but it reminded me about a devotional I wrote a couple years back for our art ministry group.  I wanted to share what I had found about salt at that time. I based my discoveries on the principle that God created things to teach us about his kingdom and way of living. I took a closer look at how salt is mentioned in the verse Matthew 5:13″ You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.”

So my question was  what did Jesus mean by calling us salt? Jesus was talking to Jewish peasants who wanted to hear his teachings. Because they were learning and following Him he wanted to give them a true picture of what it means to live the life God wants. So what is salt? Salt is the combination of Sodium and Chloride its chemical formula is NaCl. That is one atom of sodium and one atom of chloride. It is a very stable atom. So stable that when put through a battery designed to separate the components of an atom, salt will not separate. It is made up of 7 electrons (chlorine) and 1 electron ( Sodium). This is kind of like how when we change from being man (chlorine and 6 electrons) and become a christian, adding Jesus to our lives that one extra electron, makes us stable. It makes me think of how Jesus is referred to as our anchor in a storm of life.

This stability also actually helps when making clean water for countries that do not have it. Using a simple battery and salt to purify water the battery will separate the charges of the compounds in the water. Since Sodium is positively charged and chlorine is negatively charged the chlorine will separate from the sodium and the charge can purify the water.

Next I examined salt’s properties, Salt is clear and crystallized. That means you can see what is inside. We are like this too. We are vessels. What we put inside ourselves, comes out of us. Luke 6:45 says. “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

So if you spend your time thinking about things that are not good, your more likely to do things that are not good, but If you think about things in loving ways, and are thankful for them your more likely to produce good in your life. There is another verse that goes along with this its found in Matthew 6:22

“The eye is the lamp of the body, If your eyes are healthy your whole body will be full of life, but if your eyes are unhealthy your whole body will be full of darkness.” So this means what you spend your time doing and looking at matters. If I spend my time playing a video game I’m going to talk about it, draw about it, think about it. I see this in my kids who love Animal Jam and Rolbox.  So if you read God’s word and pray every day, your likely to remember God’s instructions and live a life that reflects Jesus.

When you add salt to water it expands and fills with the water.  Jesus said he could give living water. Salt expands with water and makes the water taste different. When we fill ourselves with God’s word, Jesus pours himself into us and we can easily imitate Him. His word combines with us allowing us to care and love more deeply the people around us. Our words becomes “saltier” not like we say now, more sarcastic, but instead how He means in verse “ Let your words always be full of grace, seasoned with salt” in Colossians 4:6  Our words will sound sweeter, taste better and be more rooted in love towards others.

When salt is added to water and heated, the boiling point of water raises from 100 C to approximately two degrees higher. Therefore cooks use it to help their water burn hotter when cooking. The Holy Spirit is the helper Jesus sent when he rose back to heaven. Working together with the Holy Spirit by asking for help with what we are doing allows us to have a better outcome ( hotter water). This is why Jesus says his way is easier and his yoke is light in Matthew Chapter 11 verse 28-30.

Salt can be in rock form when found – The Sea of Galilee had salt deposits near it. The Israelites would go and mine salt from these areas. They would have to break it off into pieces of rock salt and then grind it down before it can be used. This is a lot like what happens to us when we decide to live for Jesus. The Holy Spirit refines us, like salt is refined. He breaks us of sins and strongholds in our lives that are not good for us and teaches us how to live in love. This happens when we commit to reading and praying regularly. This is seen in the Bible when John talks about pruning in chapter 15 verse 2. “ He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

So what does the second part of this verse mean. How does salt losing its saltiness? Have you ever had the salt in your salt shaker not taste salty?? I haven’t. Well apparently on that Sea of Galilee by the salt mines there were also Gypsum mines. When it would rain particles of Gypsum would mix with salt particles and the salt would not taste salty. This unsalty salt still worked well for traction though. So the priests would take this to the temple and on rainy slick days they would pour it on the floor of the synagog so that no one would slip and fall when they came to the temple to worship. Just like we pour salt mixed with dirt on our roads in the winter. Gypsum in this parable is sinful things we do, Anger is a good example. If you hold on to being angry it’s really hard to love that person your upset with. Jesus is saying to turn away from sin, and ask forgiveness. Some sins we can’t avoid, we have to ask the Holy Spirit to help us learn how to avoid them. But there are some sins where we make a conscious decision to do wrong. Jesus is saying to live a life like that will end up in you being useful to him for any reason accept keeping those who are faithful from falling like you. Or in other words being the bad example. So that’s what Jesus means when he says to be like salt. He made us and salt alike so that we have a visible example of what He is and what we are supposed to be like.

Becoming Brave in Hard times

It’s coming up on my two year anniversary of this journey. On May 17, 2017 I ruptured my S5 disk picking my son up to stop him from running into the street. We were on our way to my first therapy appointment with my “new” therapist, the old one had left the network, and my sweet 3 year-old son didn’t want to go get into the car. He ran down the driveway toward the street and I did one of those grab and pick up maneuvers and ruptured my already compounded disk. We didn’t know it was compounded at the time. I had been to two doctors that week and a physical therapist that same day who all said it was my hips. It was an unavoidable action that changed my life permanently for these past two years. I spent a good amount of the summer in my bed recovering from surgery and learning how to live with nerve pain. It was there I decided I was done with anxiety, fear and worry as I dealt with daily panic attacks wondering if I’d ever get out of bed.

Well 8 months of physical therapy, a back surgery and numerous epidurals later I wish I could say today I’m healed. Unfortunately not quite yet. However sometimes God makes us go through really hard things to teach us and I feel like I’ve been in His classroom daily. Some of these lessons are priceless. Like learning how to slow down and rest when I need to. I never rested when I was whole and was always exhausted. I’m not afraid anymore to take a day and just rest. Being brave has become driving my car with nerve pain. Not knowing if my doctor will renew my handicap placard.  Serving at Camp Allendale and walking 3 plus miles a day, and celebrating after that third mile. I’ve learned to rely on God and the Holy Spirit to do simple, everyday things like find my keys or pick up the laundry basket.

I can’t say I’m grateful for the injury yet. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that point. But I can say I am grateful for what God has done despite the injury. Regardless of what you are going through God does have good plans for you and can bring beauty from your ashes. The situation may still be there (for example yesterday I found out I have a stress fracture in my nerve damaged foot so now I’m walking in my brace again) but He can work through, during and around the situation if you ask and allow Him too.  Joyce Meyers says that “we are anointed for hard things, you don’t need the Holy Ghost in you if its going to be easy.”  So don’t be afraid of those hard things, remember who’s daughter and son you are and ask your Father for help. You’d be amazed and what He can do.

Love your Neighbors

I had a very scary night last night. Around 1:30 in the morning I was woke up by someone in our neighborhood yelling obscenities and racial slurs at another neighbor who happens to be Indian. We have a great deal of people from India living in our neighborhood. I was scared and appalled at what was happening outside my window. I did not feel safe and when the police drove by and the ordeal was over I had a very difficult time going back to sleep and had a number of nightmares.

While it was happening I prayed earnestly for protection over everyone in the neighborhood and for peace to come over the individual yelling. I prayed that no harm come to anyone and was so thankful when the yelling stopped. This morning I am a mix of emotions. I am still anxious about the whole event.  I’m angry that I live in a world with such intolerance. We have a fairly peaceful neighborhood in a small town that is a suburb of Indianapolis. I’ve lived here 15 years and never had the issues we have had this past year. I have two neighbors who have reported guns firing and bullets going thru their windows. I’ve heard of mail theft and people breaking into cars, stuff that never used to happen here and after last night I am at a loss. Its not just my neighborhood that crime is increasing its all over. Intolerance is running rampart across our country.

My heart breaks for the person who was being abused last night. I pray today they are okay and that they will live in a safe place again. My heart breaks for the abuser, that he harbors so much anger and hate, it makes me sick to my stomach to think about it. I guess this is my call to whoever is reading to love each other and show love to others. No one deserves to be talked to or treated in that way. We need to love our neighbors no matter what. This world is getting to be so dark and we as Christians need to show light and love to one another. There is no room for intolerance in the faith of Christianity.

On April 28 of this year in Poway California John Earnest opened fire in a synagogue killing one woman and injuring three others. Before this event he wrote a seven page letter spelling out his core beliefs that Jewish people were guilty in his view of faults ranging from killing Jesus to controlling the media and that they deserved to die. As Christians we should be appalled by this anti-semiotic replacement theology that he believed and the actions he took.

We need to love our neighbors. And to negate his thoughts on the Jewish people,  Jewish people didn’t murder Jesus, Jews and gentiles murdered Jesus and it didin’t matter because Jesus forgave them, Luke 23:34. Jesus was Jewish and he came to Jewish people to teach them. Many of the first Christians were Jewish including all 12 disciples. Many of the parables and stories taught in the Gospels were biased on Jewish laws, traditions, culture and beliefs as well as the Torah and old testament books. If we took those into account when studying the word we would get a lot more out of the Gospels then we already do.

But regardless we are Christians are again called to love others and that includes our neighbors, our enemies, those who are foreign to us and those we don’t agree with. So today I ask you do something nice for one of your neighbors, show them some love. Lets fight intolerance the only way that works. With love.

The Art of Bravery

IMG-0564There’s this magical place about an hour and 15 minutes south of where I live called Nashville, IN in Brown County. I always wanted to live there. For one its beautiful. Hilly with trees and big high outlooks. The Brown County State Park is full of beautiful trails to walk and the town is like a mini Gatlinburg. Small shops, kettle corn, ice cream and an artist colony. I was so excited this past week when we got to visit.

My oldest daughter’s 8th grade art teacher entered one of her drawings in the Mabel B Annis Student Art Competition and the piece was on display at the Brown County Art Gallery. IMG-0566Sunday was the reception and awards so after church we drove south. It was a beautiful drive in the country. The trees were all in bloom and the clouds were starting to break up. We ate lunch at a small restaurant in town and walked  down to the gallery.

My parents were there when they we arrived. My youngest son adores my Dad and he was thrilled to have his Papa. We looked at all the pictures and talked, I was excited until my mom pointed out to me that awards had already been placed by the pictures and my daughter’s was not chosen.

As a mother and an adult it was ok, I was still proud of my daughter for being picked and for being on display. For my 8th grade daughter there is a level of disappointment and humbleness. I realized how brave these young artists have to be. Whenever you put out something you create in the public eye it undergoes scrutiny and art really boils down to which piece appealed to the one judge more. You have to be brave to allow something you create be rejected or chosen.

I life its the same way, we all create in some way.  We are innovative in our work down to making tonight’s dinner. If were not willing to undergo scrutiny we never grow as individuals and that willingness takes being brave.

We finished the afternoon visiting a few of the beautiful shops on the street buying ice cream and kettle corn for the way home. We made plans to go back soon, let the girls ride horses and hike. I watched my daughter be gracious to her teacher and family, loving to her siblings and grow a little bigger before my eyes. I am thankful I have an artistic daughter who is becoming a little braver everyday.

Celebrating Easter with “The Promise then and Now”

IMG-0506Like some of you I am recovering from a busy Easter weekend. Ours was very spirit-filled. Friday night my family attended 12 Stones Fellowship Church off of Penalton Pike in Indianapolis to see their Good Friday production “The Promise Then and Now.” This is a Easter production put on by the youth group All Over The Map that was written and directed by Theresa and Doug Robbin’s the founders of the group. My children have been a part of AOTM off and on for the past 4 years. This is the first Easter production in that time one of them was not in but we love the group so much we couldn’t miss a performance. It was beautiful.

Doug and Theresa Robbins told the story of Jesus through song, dance and storytelling. They started with a mime/dancing performance to the song “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant in which the children portrayed the birth of Jesus.IMG-0504 Narratives by Theresa and Worship leader Allison Hilldebrand  told the story of Jesus till Theresa described the story of the adulteress where she told the rest of the story through that characters eyes. Another dancing to the song “How Can It Be” by Lauren Dagle portrayed the death of Jesus and reminded the audience powerfully of how Jesus covers our sin. IMG-0508The final number was “How Beautiful” by Twila Paris where the children danced with Jesus, portrayed by Doug Robbins,  and ended with a wedding that extended an invitation to those in the audience.

It was a beautiful heartfelt performance and you could tell the children involved truly enjoyed performing and learning it. I even found out later that one of the girls in the group had choreographed part of the song, “How Can it Be” for a talent show and the Robbins decided to put it in the performance. Everyone involved did an excellent job.IMG-0510

We were so blessed by the performance we decided to return to 12 Stones on Sunday for Easter on our way to my husband’s sisters house about an hour away. 12 Stones is one of my favorite churches that I have been blessed to attend. However it is about a 45 minute drive from our house which in my current condition has kept us from attending regularly. As of last November I don’t feel safe driving the interstate with my foot so I we had not been there for a while. We were so loving welcomed and I was so glad to see Allison, Theresa and many more people from the church. It was such a blessing to see them. I am so thankful for the many blessings that made my Easter a happy one.IMG-0514

CGFAA’s Peter Pan and CPMS 30 Reasons Not To Do A Play, two shows the same week!

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My Middle daughter, Lucy, is in the current running production of CGFAA’s Peter Pan. She has finished 5 shows and has 4 shows left. My oldest daughter, Zoë was in her middle school play, 30 Reasons Not To Do A Play, during the past weekend. So our household is literately filled with DRAMA right now. IMG-8835

Because both of them had a show on Friday, Lucy had to fend for herself and with the help of a good friend, Coleen, was able to get a ride home. I was thankful that my girls have such a good supportive and loving family. My parents and their cousin Lisa and her son Tim and their Aunt Carol all came to see Zoë Friday and Lucy on Saturday.

IMG-8819 Zoë had a number of  rolls in her school play and did very well. I am so thankful that she was able to make friends with her peers and that she has found something she enjoys doing. My oldest is quite an inter-vert and quiet, it was wonderful seeing her come out of her shell.

IMG-0414Lucy plays an Indian in the production of Peter Pan. I am helping on costumes again so I was able to get some behind the stage pictures of the show during tech week. These kids work so hard and really look out for each other. It’s a very family oriented atmosphere. Working in costumes is fun, and I really enjoyed helping make costumes for this show. There are about 120 kids total so it takes a team of costume moms to make sure everyone is clothed.

Although Zoë’s show is over Lucy still has 4 performances. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week. The Thursday night performance is sensory friendly and a great one to take little ones too. Although,  I have had two 5 year-olds tell me the crocodile is scary. The weekday shows are at 7 p.m. and the weekend shows are at 3:30. I encourage anyone in the Greenwood, Indianapolis area to come and support this wonderful group.

 

The Adulteress and Jesus

So I’m veering away from my normal blogging this week. There is a story that God has been working on my heart for almost two years, about a month into recovering from my back rupturing. I think I’m ready to begin to tell His story. Its one that may seem very familiar to you and you might just read through it during your quiet time not thinking much of the details. But I’m hoping in this blog to show you all that was really going on in the life of Jesus.

It is the story of the adulteress who was brought before Jesus to be stoned found in John Chapter 8. Today I want to walk through with you what was happening in Jesus’s life the week leading up to this event. At the end of this event Jesus reveals to the world who He truly is and I believe the adulteress plays a great prophetic and significant part in that, I also believe that Jesus is talking to many of us about the nature of sin itself and about his nature of surpassing grace.

It was during the time of The Feast of the Tabernacles which takes place on the 15th of the Hebrew month Tishri, it usually occurs in late September to mid-October. The feast begins five days after the Day of Atonement and as the fall harvest has just been completed. It is meant to remember God’s provision for them during 40 years in the wilderness.

In Jewish custom, Jews would travel to the temple and set up camp, literally. They would camp in a specific arrangement according to their tribe in tents near the temple. There were specific sacrifices that were presented at the temple during the Feast of the Tabernacles and specific readings from the Torah and the books of Jeremiah and others and that were read and recited by the priest in the temple to the crowd of the Jewish people. The Feast of Tabernacles lasted 7 days an every morning water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam and in procession taken to the water gate of the temple where the Shofar was blown and with wine poured over the alter. Priests would pray for rain and good harvest for the next year.  On the night of the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles the outer court of the temple was lit up with four golden lamps. These lamps were placed on high pedestals. and men would hold torches in their hands. Jewish writings say “the illumination of the temple would be like a sea of fire and be so bright that women could “pick wheat from the chaff.” (Jewish Encyclopedia, Water-drawing, fest of tabernacles)

Jews were expected and commanded to participate in this festival. In John Chapter 7 Jesus is in Galilee and the disciples want to go to the temple and participate in the feast but it appears because Jesus does not want to go because the Jewish leaders are looking for a way to kill him. Jesus’s brothers, according to the NIV say in verse three ” “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do.” The disciples wanted Jesus to go and perform miracles so that more would believe He was the Messiah.  Jesus gives a rather cryptic reason for staying behind. He says in verse 6 “Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.” NIV. 

So the disciples and His brother and probably His mother left him in Galilee and headed for Jerusalem. So many people were probably traveling there at the same time and would have noticed Jesus’s family and his disciples and no Jesus. I’m sure by the time Thursday of the week rolled around gossip was high on where Jesus was and why He didn’t show himself.

I think Jesus knew what He was about to face, that he was about to reveal Himself and wanted time to pray alone with His Father. It says in verse that He went alone, unnoticed to the festival. Jesus does go to the temple and teach during the festival. He angers the pharisees who try to get the chief temple guards to arrest him it says in verse 32.  Then the coolest thing happens on the last day of the Feast. Its one of those million dollar movie moments that only God could orchestrate.

Try to picture it. Everyone is gathered at the temple and its dark. The priests just asked that morning for God to give endless water as he poured water out over the alter with the wine. The temple is full of torches and you here Jesus say in over the crowds singing hymns, “Anyone who is thirsty come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the scriptures declare, “Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”

You just heard the priests say that exact same thing as they recited the verse found in Jeremiah 17:13 “Lord you are the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.”   Jesus just declared that he is Christ to the whole temple. But hold onto that verse in Jeremiah it gets more interesting.

Jesus just interrupted the entire festival. Imagine what the crowds would have thought. Some would have thought Him rude and crazy, and I’m sure that made the Pharisees even angrier than they were already. They had to have a plan to discredit him. They had to regain control of the situation.

Now after the festival the Jewish people would dance and drink wine. The next day was a Sabbath so they would celebrate hard that night. Now what happens when people drink too much, sometimes they end up in someone else’s tent. This gave the Pharisees the advantage to find their adulteress.

Now there’s lots of theory’s on how they found the adulteress. They may have known of an adultery going on and just happened to visit there tent at the right moment. One theory is that she was the prostitute Mary Madeline. One is that she was a known prostitute, but John doesn’t call her a prostitute so I don’t buy into those theories. My personal thought is that they orchestrated it. Either some poor woman was tricked into someone who was working with the Pharisees bed or raped. We don’t know where the man was and I believe the Pharisees didn’t just waltz in and say your caught and she went willingly. I’m sure there was a scuffle and that more than one or two people were involved.

If fact if you think about her it was probably the worst thing that could have happened to her. If she was set up or raped she was truly a victim. She was probably dragged half naked from her tent to the temple. She was probably beaten, yelled at and treated like an animal all the way to Jesus’s feet. And any passerby probably thought she deserved it.

If it was a one night stand that went terribly wrong or a set up. Sin was destroying her. Its an example of what the end result of sin is and she was a victim of sin.  So why is this the Pharisee’s way of embarrassing Jesus? Why is this there great test for Him? Jerusalem was under Roman occupation at this time. The Romans law did not allow for stoning for the sin of adultery. They were trying to keep the Jewish people from practicing those laws and Jewish leaders that did could get in trouble with the Romans. The Messiah was believed to be the one who would conquer the Romans and bring about a New Jewish Empire. If Jesus was truly the Messiah he could not side with the Roman law and let the adulteress live.

So here was Jesus’s conundrum. When this poor woman, beaten half naked was thrown at his feet in the temple while he was teaching the next morning. If  He chose to uphold Jewish law she would be stoned and he would be arrested by the Romans. If he let her live He was not the true Messiah and no one would believe him. He would be discredited and surly killed by the Jewish mob. So what does he do?

He bends down and starts writing in the dust. Remember that verse from Jeremiah?
“..Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.”

Now I remember hearing this story in Bible school as a kid and the teacher asking us to try to figure out what he wrote. Jeremiah tells us right here what he wrote. All those Jewish leaders and Pharisees that brought the adulteress before him would have known the verse, they just heard it all week and so would have everyone at the temple. But more importantly Jesus fulfills Jeremiah’s prophecy to a T. He is doing again more than just writing in the dust, he’s saying I as the Messiah have the authority to write in the dust. Then He says “Let anyone who is without sin, throw the first stone at her.” John Chapter 8  verse 7. and goes back to writing in the dust. The accusers leave, one at a time, realizing surely what has just happened. And Jesus is left still with a crowded temple and only the woman at his feet.

He extended beautiful, complete grace to this woman and exhorted his authority as His protector over her at the same time.  Verse 10 ” Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

So she goes, I hope someone helps her go, covers her but we don’t know that. We just know that without performing the miracles that Jesus’s brothers were begging him to do. Jesus exhorted his authority as the Messiah. He told the whole Jewish community who He is and saved that woman’s life. But to make sure no one has any doubts He then addresses the crowd, probably while the adulteress is still in earshot.

Remember all those torches and lamps around the temple the night before as he says to them in verse 12 ” “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Pharisees who are left in the temple, the ones who didn’t walk away. Begin to question Jesus and Jesus gets very, very blunt about who He is so that no one has any more questions about whether he believes He is the Messiah.

It ends with Jesus replying to them in verse 58. “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” AMP. Jesus calls himself God. At this the crowd begins to pick up rocks to stone Jesus, (like they wanted him to decide to do to the woman) but Jesus slips away.

There are two themes I feel God is saying to me in all of this. The first is that He willingly protected and took the place of the adulteress, someone who was truly the least in the society. Someone who was a victim of sin, in need of a savior,  someone like us. Her sin may seem small by many standards today. It also may seem like a sin that we know where forgiven for but never forgive ourselves for. We carry the blame and shame of what we have done. He didn’t tell her to carry it around he told her to go and don’t repeat your mistakes. I hope there’s something you are holding onto that you can let go of and not repeat.

Second the importance of his announcement of who He was. Jesus went to the Feast of Tabernacles with intention and did not let anything pull him off his course. It’s almost as if the test the Pharisees designed to trick him gave him an avenue to make His message more clear, more aware to those listening. What was planned to harm him Jesus turned to good. He can do that for you too. The evil things that have happened in your life to you, around you, he can turn and use them for your good too.

Have any comments or other thoughts please share below.