Salt of the Earth

I have heard lots of sermons about Matthew 5:13 over the years, and the messages I can remember focused on the useful benefits of salt – particularly, how it makes food taste better and serves as a preservative. One message that I vaguely recall from my college years even included an unappetizing and detailed explanation of how salt was used in ancient times to preserve meat, jerky-style. The point, I believe, was that since we are “the salt of the earth,” our lives should be appealing (tasteful) to help draw others to Christ.

 

While I don’t disagree with that perspective, two things dawned on me recently that caused me to see Matthew’s analogy from a new angle. First, I have been trying to get rid of weeds that invaded our property during the summer, and one recommendation was to make a concoction out of vinegar and salt to spray on the area. The salt not only kills the plants, but it hinders the soil from growing anything ever again.

 

Second, we are just a couple of months away from the first snow of the season, which means the snow plows will be driving through town in the wee morning hours to clear the roads. The maintenance workers always spread coarse sand on the streets, instead of salt. Why? Because salt is corrosive to the paint and undercarriage of vehicles.

 

This seems like a mixed message. Salt is tasty and has valuable preservative properties, but it also has the ability to destroy. So, I wonder if part of our calling to be “the salt of the earth” is not just advice to live an appealing kind of life to those around us, but to be willing to take a stand – alone, if necessary – to combat the corrosive things of this world? (See Romans 12:1-2)

 

When the enemy plants invasive weeds in our lives and tries to choke out our spiritual growth, we can be “salt” to rid ourselves of those negative influences and stand in faith. Or, when we allow sin to take the driver’s seat instead of relying on the Lord, our prayer partners and Life groups can be “salt” to help us realize that sin is corroding our lives. Let’s go out this week and be “the salt of the earth” to encourage each other and to hold ourselves accountable.

Confidantes (Prayer Devotional for the week of February 22, 2015)

One of the most difficult things about moving (for me, at least) is keeping up with friends left behind and building new relationships. Thanks to technology like Skype and Facebook, staying in touch is a lot easier than the old days of handwriting letters (although, I still love sending and receiving snail mail!) and sending rolls of film away for processing.

 

As great as technology is, there’s something truly special about spending time with someone one-on-one that breaks down superficial walls, builds trust, and creates an atmosphere of confidence where you are assured that the thoughts you share will be kept secure. That’s a much different level of relationship than most of our bantering on Facebook; wouldn’t you agree?

 

I came across a familiar passage in John 15 this week, and a verse caught my eye in a different translation. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) records verses 13-15 as: “The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them. And you are my friends, if you obey me. Servants don’t know what their master is doing, and so I don’t speak to you as my servants. I speak to you as my friends, and I have told you everything that my Father has told me.”

 

I love the way the Living Bible (TLB) uses the verb “confide in” instead of “speak to.” It implies a more intimate friendship, the unfiltered kind where you can share your most important, deeply personal thoughts. Jesus is telling his disciples that they are not just his students or trainees, but they are his confidantes.

 

We all need that level of openness and accountability with someone – to know that we can let down our guard and still be loved unconditionally, yet be challenged to grow in our faith-walk. Jesus invited his disciples into that innermost circle. May we, too, desire that level of closeness with our savior.

Second half of 2014 goals

I don’t usually make New Year resolutions, and besides, the main thing on my mind eight months ago was finishing my dissertation so that I could graduate. That goal is in the books — hallelujah! — so now, in my abundance of free time (<<that’s sarcasm, in case you missed it), I’ve decided that I have no more excuses to get my body back in shape.

Inspired by Amy at FitMommas and Andrea at I’mperfect Life, I have set 10 personal fitness goals for the second half of 2014:

  1. Plank for 40 secs (I have not done a baseline test to see how long I can do this right now, but I picked 40 seconds because of my milestone birthday coming up this fall.)
  2. 10 pushups (I make the boys do pushups for various infractions at home, so I figured I should be able to do a minimum amount, at least!)
  3. Walk a 5K (I participated in an event a few months after my knee surgery, and it was brutal. Some of the half-marathon runners finished their race before I finished walking 3 miles! Overachievers.)
  4. Swim 400yds (This should be the easiest goal to reach, and I wanted to include one that would motivate me positively.)
  5. 20 squats (I had to do these during physical therapy for my knee, ugh. I can do about 5 in a row right now (maybe 10 with a rest), so this will be a challenge.)
  6. Walk another 5K (If I don’t find an event to attend, then I’ll just aim for 3+ miles.)
  7. Bike 4 mi (My knees hate cycling, but I think I can work up to 4mi on a stationary bike, at least.)
  8. Walk stairs at work 30x by October 31 (I report to my new office on the 4th floor on Monday, Aug. 18, which gives me 11 weeks to reach this goal. That’s only 2-3 times per week to take the stairs, so I think I can make myself do it.)
  9. Walk around the block 50x by Thanksgiving (There are four months until Thanksgiving, so if I walk around the block 3-4 times a week, then the goal is achievable.)
  10. 10 burpees (This goal is a stretch, because I cannot even do ONE right now.  I have difficulty kicking my feet back (have to walk back one foot at a time) and then jumping back into a squatting position (though I could do it in two little pounces). I like the way this guy showed how to do them … not so much pressure on the knees.)

So, there you have it. I’m writing the goals down here for accountability’s sake. In addition to being more active, I know that I need to eat better. I think my new schedule (i.e., not having to be at my desk from 8-5 everyday) will be more conducive to eating prepared meals from home (rather than eating out at breakfast or lunch) and planning for my own meals throughout the day, instead of just thinking about what to fix for dinner. Not to mention, it will save money!