Wednesday, June 15, 2016

More salt...

My last blog post was about being salty enough but I read another blog post about being too salty and I wanted to take it little further. The blogger spoke about too much salt being a bad thing and as I was driving through the nearest large town- which happens to be about 25 miles from me, I was looking at some of the churches in the area. Some of them are HUGE! Great big elaborate, gorgeous structures that seem too opulent for our area. We're mainly farm towns around here, small rural communities, farmers, blue collar workers.

Have you ever seen pictures of the Dead Sea? Or the salt flats in Utah? They're gorgeous, stunning...
The Dead Sea

Bonneville Salt Flats- Utah

And dead. 

There is so much salt in both of these locations that nothing lives, nothing grows. No animals, no plant life, nothing. 

Do you see where I'm going with this? There are mega churches around this country where thousands of Christians attend each week. Some churches that have so many members they have to build stadium like seating to fit them all and they have more than one service to accommodate them all. They're stunning structures that are so filled with salt that nothing lives, nothing grows, nothing thrives. Many of these people are Christians on Sunday then go home and do nothing for the Lord the rest of the week. They gather with their Christian friends for church functions. They celebrate birthdays and holidays with Christian friends and family and because there is so much salt, the word of God stagnates. It's so preserved, no one can eat it, digest it. They don't spread the salt around to help those who have no salt, people who are drowning in sin and crying out for a Savior. People who need Jesus, who need salt...and no one is willing to share. Many of these churches neglect the word of God in favor of a more 'friendly' narrative. They speak of love and good feelings while neglecting to speak of sin and repentance. It would seem that there are a lot of people who want to go to church for the warm fuzzy and not be reminded that they're sinners and must change their lives in order to please a just and holy God. 

Jesus spent time with sinners- He dined with them, traveled with them, preached to them, loved them. His salt went far and wide, flavored those He came into contact with. He didn't just spend His time in the Synagogues that were elaborate, powerful structures. He mingled with the common man, the sinner, the sick and hurting. 

Salt is also good for healing. When a new baby was born back in Jesus' day, the child was rubbed with salt and wrapped in cloths. The salt killed any germs that might make a new baby sick. Wounds were often packed with salt to stave off infection. Jesus was the healing salt and He spread Himself around, helping as many as He could during his short time on Earth. He didn't spend a lot of time with the elite, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the royalty, the rich and famous...He hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, fishermen. His salt was being used, absorbed. 

Do you spend time with people outside your church? Outside your comfort zone? Is your church active in the community? Or is your church so salty within itself that it's toxic to growth and life? Has your congregation spent so much money on a beautiful building instead of spending it where the Lord would have it to go? To help those in need? We can worship in a field, in a yard, under a tree, in a broom closet... do we need multi million dollar structures that are beautiful...but toxic? 

Monday, May 30, 2016

How salty are you?

A few days ago I was listening to the Christian radio station and a speaker came on and gave a message about being salt and light. I can't remember his name because I was paying more attention to trying to remember his message than bothering to remember his name.

He spoke about how Jesus told his followers that they were the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Jesus didn't tell his followers that they were the gold of the earth or the silver, those were rare and precious commodities that were owned by only the richest and most powerful among them. Salt, however, was and is something that even the poorest among us has access to. And it's something that infuses the food it's added to. It also preserves what it's added to. Salt, during Jesus' time, was vital to preserve meat and fish, to add flavor to food. It was a necessary ingredient that was abundant and common. Jesus wants us to be salt.

Jesus also warned, though, that we can lose our saltiness and that salt without saltiness is worthless. The speaker went on to explain that back in Jesus' day, the people would sometimes have a large block of salt that they would set on the ground and chip away at as they used it. Some of the salt would get mixed in with the dirt that the block was sitting on. The dirt represents the junk in the world- the worldliness that Christians are not supposed to get mixed up in. Once we do, we're no longer useful in God's plan. We're still saved, but we're not doing God's work effectively because we've gotten too mixed up in the dirt to be salty. What good is salt that's not salty? Imagine you're filling up your salt shaker at home and you dropped it. Salt goes everywhere! You grab the broom and sweep it up. But instead of just salt you find bits of sand, soil, maybe some pet hair or food crumbs that were also on the floor. You scoop that mess up into your dustpan and dump it in the trash because that salt is no longer good for anything. Surely you wouldn't dump it into your salt shaker and sprinkle it on your food.

So my question to you is this...How salty are you? Are you good pure clean salt that is seasoning the world around you with God's love? Are you preserving His word in your heart to share it with others? Or are you so mixed up in the mess of the world that your witness is no longer effective?

Search your heart and ask the Lord to show you how salty you are.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Raging Storm

As I sit in my office working, I can hear the storm raging outside. Pouring rain, flashing lightening, crashing thunder and howling winds. The potential for harm is there in the hail that's predicted to come, wind causing trees to fall, flash flooding from the rain, lightening strikes. It's a storm that only God can calm if He's so inclined.

But there's another storm raging in our nation that we, the children of  God could calm if we would only take the time and make the effort. There's a storm of godlessness sweeping over our country, covering up all the good that dares cross it's path. And we sit in our church houses on Sunday mornings and maybe- maybe- hear a sermon about sin. We take to facebook and whine about what we're seeing...and that's the extent of our movement. We've let our nation go and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Society is doing exactly what is foretold in the Bible- Calling evil good. Celebrating things that God has said are wrong. For example, calling Bruce Jenner a hero for deciding that he's really a woman. Celebrating professional athletes who come out of the closet.

And Calling good evil. Condemning Christians, suing them for holding fast to their beliefs. Calling them names- bigots, homophobes, islamophobes, etc, for simply holding a different view or belief of things. Making fun of Christian actors and actresses and sports figures who dare to express their faith. Demanding that Christians accept PC beliefs while trying to remove every piece of Christianity from public view.

Yes, the Bible foretells this happening but Christians should not sit idly by while it happens. We should still fight for what we know to be true and right and good. We MUST love those we disagree with. We MUST show them the love of Jesus but we MUST NOT accept or condone the sin. Tell them the truth...IN LOVE, WITH LOVE, BECAUSE OF LOVE! Don't be hateful to someone who is gay or transgendered. Love them, because God does. Show them that there's another way. Tell them that you feel differently about their lifestyle but that you still love them and want to see them come to a saving grace in Jesus Christ.

Make a stand in the voting booths. Make a stand by encouraging others to get out and vote and to be informed when they vote. Make a stand by writing letters to our elected officials. Go to town hall meetings. Go to public gatherings and make your voices heard...but do it in love. God doesn't want us to be hateful to sinners because ALL of us are sinners. Every single one of us has messed up and will continue to do so until we die. We must treat sinners the same way Jesus did when He walked upon this earth....He loved them and told them, Go and sin no more. He didn't condemn them. He didn't hate them or call them names or treat them badly. He ate a meal with them and explained to them their sins. He loved them! And we should do no less. Parents love their children but we don't agree with everything they do. We see them make mistakes and we discipline them accordingly. But just because we don't agree with what they've done and we call them on it, doesn't mean we don't love them. It means we love them more because we care enough to want them to know the truth of their actions/words. If we didn't love them we wouldn't care that they were making bad choices that are going to hurt them. It's the same for people in the world- we love them enough to tell them the truth...even if it hurts.

Some will call you hateful for disagreeing with them or calling their life choices sinful. But we must stand firm. It isn't man's approval we should be longing for, but God's. Will God say to you, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." when at last you meet face to face? Or will He tell you that you could have done better? That you could have been more bold, more loving, more truthful?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

When did we stop growing up?

As I read through the news headlines I can't help but be amazed at how many of them talk about college students being 'victimized' 'traumatized' 'offended' or 'terrorized' by something someone said or did or thought.

Someone is victimized because a church sermon made them feel bad. Students are angry because a professor refuses to cancel an exam so he's forced to resign because black students might feel unsafe attending class. Someone else says remembering important events in our nation's history should be cancelled because someone might be offended. Or people demanding 'safe places' where they can go when they've been 'Triggered'.

These are young adults, mind you. People in their late teens and early to mid 20's who are crying about this or that as if they were 4 year olds who got their feelings hurt by a school yard bully! These are people who are done being children- chronologically- and are supposed to be preparing for life in the real know, the real world where no one cares about your feelings. Where employers will yell at you if you don't do a good job or fire you if you fail to meet expectations. Where someone in a grocery store parking lot won't think anything of poking fun at your oversized rump when they see a package of cookies in your cart. And, sadly, there are still people in this world who take issue with others of a different skin color or nationality...and won't hesitate to let you know it.

Life is hard! Pre-school generally ends at around age 5 and after that you stop behaving as if you were a pre-schooler. It seems like everyone wants to be offended or victimized about something and they'll do anything to go about finding that something.

I'll tell you what...there are things in this life that are much more important than being 'offended' by something that someone said that wasn't really offensive at all. How about being offended by the national debt. That offends me greatly. How about being offended by our elected officials thinking we're too stupid to make our own choices so they have to do it for us.

Or someone who feels 'victimized' by a movie they were made to watch in history class or a book they were made to read in English. How about instead you think about people who are really being victimized? Women and children who are sold into sex slavery. Babies being slaughtered by the thousands every single day because they're seen as inconvenient by a parent who- generally speaking- had sex without being responsible. How about our Veterans who come home and seek medical care from the VA only to be turned away again and again and put on secret waiting lists until they finally die from whatever was ailing them simply because our government doesn't care enough about them to do what's right.

This generation that is now in college who are fussing and making demands because something made them sad or didn't suit their way of thinking, are the same kids that got a trophy just for showing up. The same kids whose parents valued self esteem over self control. The same kids who never got spanked and whose parents were their friends instead of their parents. (again I'm generalizing). These are the same people who are posting selfies constantly online because they are the only ones they think of.

It's time to grow up, America. It's time to remember personal accountability and personal responsibility. It's time to remember that you and I are not the most important people in the world...that there are others who have a harder time and need some help, that there are others who could use some of the attention you're giving yourself. The universe does not revolve around you or me or any one individual on this planet. You are no more important than the next person. You are no more valuable than anyone else. GROW UP!! Think about someone else for a change. Get out of your own head and heart and focus on something outside your box.

If anything I said in this blog post offended anyone and sent them to their safe place...I'm not sorry. I don't regret it and I won't take it back. :) Thank you and have a great day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Red Christmas cup....

I'm sure you've all heard about the Starbucks holiday cup by now and if you haven't then you're among the lucky ones.

I got to thinking today about all the uproar about this situation and decided I should write my thoughts down and if I can help some angry Christian see things a little different that will be good...and if not...well, I've given you a few minutes to pretend to be working while you're not ;)

So here goes:

If I go to Starbucks it's for a tasty cup of coffee. It's not for a Bible story or a sermon. My faith is not so shallow and/or insecure that it resides in a disposable paper coffee cup. My faith is in my Creator, God, and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I don't need a fancy paper cup to tell me how strong my faith is or to help me celebrate Christmas. The cup isn't even powerful enough to tell me how strong my coffee is.

The designs on the previous cups at Starbucks have been snowmen, snowflakes, holiday ornaments, etc. Not one of those designs, in any way, represented my Jesus and/or the true reason behind the celebration of Christmas.

My daughter works at Starbucks and in the location where she works, they have gift cards that say "MERRY CHRISTMAS" on them. They have Christmas decorations put up. And did you know that Starbucks also has a Christmas blend coffee. Yep, I'm drinking some right now. Says Christmas Blend right across the front of the bag. It doesn't say Xmas or Holiday says CHRISTMAS!

So, am I going to get angry and up in arms  about a red paper cup? No. In my opinion there are much more important things to get angry and up in arms about. How about Christians being denied the right to live their faith in their personally owned businesses? How about Christians being beheaded by ISIS militants? How about hungry children right here in America? How about our  government spending billions of dollars to house and feed Muslim refugees while our own veterans lay cold and homeless in the streets, digging through dumpsters to eat? How about being lied to by the people who are supposed to represent us?

You see, there are things in this life, in this world that beg you to be angry and do something about them, do something to help, to make a difference....a red paper cup is not one of them.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Who are your neighbors?

I know I've touched on this before in previous posts but I've been thinking about this a lot lately, ever since I watched the movie 'Do You Believe?'.

Who are your neighbors? Do you know your neighbors? Do you love your neighbors?

Most of us, when asked those questions will instantly think about the people who live next door. But long ago the term 'Next Door Neighbor' came into being because people understood that it wasn't only the people who lived near you that were your neighbors...but the people who live near are more specifically your neighbors next door.

Neighbors are, in fact, anyone you come in contact with at any given time, or as one dictionary put it, Your fellow man. Anyone and everyone is your neighbor.

Jesus said in Matthew 22:39 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself."

Notice, in that whole verse there is no specifics given as to what a neighbor is. Jesus does not say, "Love your neighbors who think like you." or "Love your neighbors who have the same skin color." or "Love your neighbor who isn't gay." 

Jesus says to Love your neighbor as you love yourself...period. End of sentence. And neighbor meaning your fellow man means every man. Even those you can't stand. Even those who believe completely different than you. Even those who are gay, or black, or white, or Hispanic, or Asian. Even the ones who are Hindus, or Muslims, or Atheists. 

Love your neighbor...period!

How do you love yourself? You do whatever is in your power to make sure you have a roof over your head, food on your table, clothes on your body, and shoes on your feet. You do all you can to make sure you have electricity, a running car, and a job. And you probably try really hard to make sure you have some of the little extras...a cell phone, a TV, Cable, Internet access...etc.

You love yourself by making sure you're provided for. 

So if you see a neighbor- Mr. or Mrs. Other Person besides you- without shoes in the winter, without food, without a have been commanded to love that person as you love yourself. 

You say, "But I'm broke." or "It's the end of the month and I'm really tapped out." Or "I don't have time." 

Do you think Jesus WANTED to die an agonizing death on the cross for you? Don't you think He could have probably found much less horrible things to be doing at that particular time? But no, He didn't make excuses. He loved you- His neighbor- enough to put His own desires, His own life, aside and do what was best for you...can we do any less for our neighbors in need? 

Take some time each day to love a neighbor. Buy a police officer a coffee and offer a smile. Offer an elderly or disabled person a hand unloading their grocery cart into their car. Tell a frustrated mom with screaming kids that it's going to be okay and offer a sympathetic hug or word of encouragement. Loving your neighbor doesn't have to cost a lot or even anything. And if it costs something...God will provide. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I'm so sad :(

The state of our nation- the attitudes of the people, the fighting, the hate- is so sad. It seems like every single day I see news reports of someone being offended by something and suing someone else. Someone wore something or said something or ate something or believed something and it upset or offended someone else and because someone was offended it became national news and everyone gets up in arms about it. Everyone takes a side so the nation is divided against itself and because of this, it will fall.

We will fall.

A nation divided against itself cannot stand. Abraham Lincoln said that and he was right.

So let's break it down here:

You don't like the color of someone's skin?
My solution: Grow up! It's just skin and the color of one's skin does not make that person good or bad.

You don't like someone's religious ideas?
My solution: You don't have to attend church/temple/etc with them. You can listen respectfully while they share, then you can share while they listen respectfully. You don't have to agree but you also don't have to be hateful or enemies just because you don't agree.

You don't agree with someone's political ideals?
My solution: So what, move on. Disagreeing with someone doesn't mean you hate them (contrary to popular belief) and it also doesn't mean you can't be friends. What a bunch of robot clones we'd all be if everyone looked the same and thought the same and believed the same. Talk about your differences and, who knows, you both might learn something valuable.

Someone said/did/ate/wore something that offended you?
My solution: Get over it. We're all different and no one is going to get through life never having been offended by someone or something. Just because it's not something you would say/do/eat/wear does not mean that the other person was wrong because they said/did/ate/wore what they did. I understand you don't eat bacon for religious reasons, fine, don't eat it...but don't try to stop others from eating it just because you don't. See what I'm saying?

Our world is full of diversity and beauty in all colors, shapes, sizes, ideologies, religions, IQ's and so much more. It was made that way by our Creator for a reason- so we could share and exchange ideas, learn and grow. Our different skin colors make this world beautiful and we've made it a source of contention that's turned into hate.

Let go of your hate. Let go of your contentious feelings about people who are or think different than you. Life is too short to hold onto so much negativity and bitterness so why keep doing it. Why not spread love and receive love instead of hate?

It's up to us, individually, to be the change we want to see in our world. We have to start the ball rolling because it's not going to roll by itself.