Monday, March 31, 2008

Questions Jesus Asked - Salt (1)

[Note: I want to pick up on a series I began in January 2007 called Questions Jesus Asked. I only made four posts back then, so, to get going again, I'm going to repost those posts and then continue the series /D]

As I begin this series of questions Jesus asked, I want to be clear that this does not make up the full teachings of Christ. However, I do think we can learn a lot from His questions & I’m really curious to see where this takes us.

I just started in Matthew – and the first questions Jesus asks is recorded in Matthew 5:13 where He asks – “What good is salt if it has lost its saltiness? Can you make it salty again?”

Okay, I could totally understand a, “Yeah, that’s helpful – what in the world is He talking about” thought to this question. And while I don’t want to make this a book – I think a little background would be real helpful.

A good starting point is to remember the culture and time frame in which Jesus was teaching – they did not have freezers and microwaves. They had not figured out how to stuff food with so many preservatives that their shelf life is longer than our average life span. So, one use for salt was to preserve foods. Part of what we can learn from this question is Jesus was talking to His followers saying, I want you to do good things and preserve goodness. I want you to be a positive influence on those around you.

Another use for salt was for cleaning. Have you ever rubbed salt in a wound? I don’t recommend it – but the truth is it will clean out a wound. So, another potential teaching here is – bring healing to those you come in contact with. While sometimes the truth stings a little, the cleansing is worth it and will bring healing – and that’s a good thing.

I’m sure there are more analogies we could make, but I’ll make just one more. Have you ever heard, “That guy or girl is worth their salt”? It’s kind of an old saying, but it came from the fact that soldiers use to be paid in salt. So, someone who was doing well was, “worth their salt.” Today, our society has changed, so a similar statement we may hear is, “That girl is worth her weight in gold.” Same idea. So, what could we learn from this aspect of being “salt”? I think its fair to say that Jesus would want His followers to make a positive difference. To have relationships that others say, “I’m glad you’re my friend. We don’t always see eye to eye, but your friendship is worth it.”

So, a couple of things from this first question that we can learn – Jesus wants us to be a positive influence, a healer, and be someone worth having a relationship with. Cool stuff! But if we really look at the way He asked the question – He’s saying if were not all of these things – what good are we?

I think I need to look at how I interact with those around me and make sure I’m “worth my salt.” How about you?


Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Reflection

What a great day! It’s Monday, the day after Easter, and I’ve been thinking about the time I got to spend with the church that gathered at our house yesterday. Many friends we don’t get to worship with every week were able to join us for Easter dinner, and we had a great time just sharing life together.

Dinner was awesome, followed by the Lord’s Supper, and then many of us stayed for a couple more hours just talking and catching up.

To me, this is an element of worship we often miss when we just come together in a large group for “Easter Service”. We miss the “church family” element. The personal time together, catching up on the things that really matter to the people we gather with for worship.

Shifting gears a bit, there’s a song I’ve heard often, but when I heard it on the radio Easter morning it really struck me. You can listen to it at this link. It’s Fee’s “It’s All Because of Jesus”. The resurrection of Jesus (His returning to life) is what has truly given me life! I hope you also have this “real life”!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New House

So, we moved into a new house a couple of months ago. It’s weird how I’m always assuming the worst whenever I hear a strange sound. I want this place to be so awesome, but if I hear something, I immediately begin to fear that a pipe is leaking, or the siding is coming loose, or whatever. It’s like I cannot fully enjoy the place because I keep thinking something really bad is going to happen.

Do you ever feel this way about things?

I think we often approach our spiritual lives this way, too - especially when it’s all new to us. We keep thinking, “I want this to be really great,” but we also keep thinking we’re going to do something (or something is just going to happen) and mess the whole deal up. You know, it can’t really be this good – can it?

Unfortunately, when something does happen, we quickly revert back to the I-knew-it-was-too-good-to-be-true attitude. I want you to know that it’s actually the times when we blow it that can help strengthen our faith the most. Face it, if we were perfect we wouldn’t need God. It’s because we’re not perfect that makes what God offers sooo perfect. Our relationship with God is based on His unfailing love for us – not on how well we perform. In fact, the Bible clearly teaches that we cannot work our way into heaven (Ephesians 2:8-10) and we cannot work our way into a better relationship with God (Galatians 3:3). It’s already pegged the “awesome!” meter – and when we mess up – God’s love for us doesn’t change a bit.

I hope you’ll allow the tough times (whether you created them or not) to mature your relationship with God. Don’t worry, He’s not gonna pull a fast one on you and leave you hangin’.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Poll Results - Who do you trust most?

Who do you trust most?

70% said - A Friend
30% said - A Parent
0% said - A Grown Child
0% said - A Church Leader

I did receive some scolding for not having "Spouse" as an option. [Get ready for the brownie they come...] Since my spouse is my best friend, my answer was Friend. :-)

I'm not sure I can make an accurate inference from what people did not say, but I'm surprised "Church Leader" got 0%. What (if anyting) does that reveal?


Friday, March 14, 2008

Church Structure

I'm currently doing a lot of study on "the church". Specifically, on church structure (or organization). I'm sorting and praying through a great deal of information on this topic and don't have any specific points to make just yet. The reason for this post is to get your input.

How do you feel about church structure (I'd also be interested to know your church background)?

What do you believe the Bible teaches about church structure (specific verses would be great)?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

[Note: You can leave a comment without having a Blogger account. Simply use the "Anonymous" option in the comments section. Of course, you can still put your name directly into your comments if you like.]


Monday, March 10, 2008

Theology of the Gas Pump

Why do so many gas stations strip out that little do-hickey that will let you pump gas without having to squeeze the handle the whole time? You know, that little metal piece that you can lock down that holds the handle up. I’m sure there’s some safety reason, but I always get annoyed when I have to stand there and squeeze the handle (see I’m just another lazy American :-0).

Anyway, yesterday I was getting gas and I just automatically reached down and pushed down that top metal piece down that will hold the handle in place. It “locked” and I let go of the pump. As I was waiting for the tank to fill I looked down and noticed that this pump had also been stripped of that bottom piece that is supposed to hold the handle up – yet, the top piece had in fact found a little notch in the plastic and was staying in place.

I don’t know why my brain goes to places like this, but my thought was – huh, that’s just like my life. So, many times I never even attempt things because they “look” like they won’t work. If I had looked at the pump handle I would have never even tried to see if the top piece would still hold the handle in place. I would have assumed it was another stripped pump and I would just have to stand there and hold the handle – without ever trying.

I do this in life, too. I allow the circumstances to keep me from even trying things sometimes. Now, I’m not encouraging reckless abandon and foolishness (okay, maybe I am). It’s just when it comes to doing things in this life, I think we often make assumptions about what will or won’t work and that keeps us just going along with the crowd. Sometimes, we just need to step out and try something we think we should be doing without worrying about what the circumstances look like.

And there you have it – my theology of the gas pump.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

In Christ

The author of the book I’m currently reading made a really interesting point. As Christ followers we often talk about having a “relationship with” Jesus. Antonucci (the author) points out that Jesus wants much more than this. He gives the example of having a best friend who moves away – we miss them, we wish they were still close by but all in all their leaving doesn’t really change our lives in a significant way.

The same can be true in our relationship with Jesus. When we don’t spend time in prayer or in the Bible – we miss him, we may wish we were closer to him, but all in all our time away doesn’t really change our lives – if all we have is a relationship with Jesus.

What Jesus describes in John 15 is much deeper than just a relationship. He talks about us being “in him”. Antonucci uses the analogy of a baby still in his/her mother’s womb. You could say they have a “relationship”, but it’s really much more. That baby is fully dependent on mom for everything.

This is how Jesus wants us to be - in him – fully dependent on him for life itself.

I’m far from living this way, but it’s a great encouragement to know that that is where Jesus wants me and each day I learn a little better how to rely on God for real life.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Poll Results

The results from our last poll:

Is church relevant in you life?

54% - Oh yeah - a lot
34% - A littel - sometimes
9% - Nope - not at all

My new poll question is now up on the right sidebar.