Salt Packets

For lunch, we entered a fast food drive thru. After ordering, I had to repeat half of it again. The muffled voice from the intercom gives me the total of thirteen dollars and some change. Obviously, he missed it when I said twice that I had a coupon for buy a combo get a combo free. He said it would be fixed by time I drive up to the second window. Once we arrived, the food and drinks were there and ready, now with the proper total. I hear a voice behind the glass asking if I want condiments, so I asked for ketchup. After testing a French fry, I asked for some salt also. I don’t know if the young man was upset that I asked for salt or that the average person in Kansas City uses two dozen packets of salt for their burger and fries, but I was now about to be given a huge handful of salt packets. As he transferred them from his hand to mine, they were overflowing out of my hand and I am sure that I dropped a few just trying to get them in the vehicle. I laid them on the console and just stared at them in amazement. Out of curiosity, I had to count them. ……..seventeen????? Who in the world uses seventeen packets of salt at one sitting? If a person had a regular habit of using that many per meal, I am sure that he would not live very long. Just guessing, but I am sure that when I sell my Suburban years down the road, the new owner will find some of these salt packets scattered about in it.

Paul talks about our speech being seasoned with salt in Colossians 4:6. He wanted the Colossian Christians to be kind to the “outsiders” (non-Christians) and to use every opportunity to reach them. The Colossian Christians needed to be kind to the outsiders; for I am sure they had a lot of questions, wondering why they are no longer attending the temple services. This would be an opportunity to preach Christ. They must not be disengaged with their city, but to be relevant, interesting, and kind in their speech and conduct as they live among the outsiders.

Sadly, some Christians have no contact with non-Christians. Now I am not saying to go and hang out at the bars with them and do all of the evil things that they do. I have heard it said that there are two types of friends: asset and liability friends. The liability friends are the ones that are living worldly. They need a solid role model to look at and plus befriending them gives you an opportunity to witness to them. Liability friends are not the ones that you go to for advice, because they do not know God’s word. An asset friend is one that is walking close to God. He/she is loyal, trustworthy, and will give you Godly advice.

When I worked as an account manager, I had many liability friends. I would not hang out with them in the bars or act like them, but I would get interested in things that they were interested in. I had one friend that was very interested in guns (scary interested). So I would do some research and the next time I would see him, I would tell him about this gun that I seen. He would not talk much, but when I came around, he would open up and talk a lot. I did this with many others. Topics ranged from remodeling, working out, hunting, hot rods, just to name a few. Many of these liability friends came to me for advice and I had the opportunity to point them to Christ. A few were saved, the rest at least had a seed planted or watered.

Be sure to reach out to your “outsiders” in your sphere of influence. Be kind to them and use every opportunity to point them to Christ. By making them your liability friends, they may be eternally grateful for it.

Oh yeah! If you need some salt packets, be sure to look me up.

The Light Show

Yesterday, we had another youth worship. Probably hundreds of teens were invited by me or by other teens and youth pastors, but I never know how many will come until seven o clock that Saturday..The crowds had been low, but I was praying for a good turn out because we had put together a skit to perform. Thankfully, this was one of our best turnouts in spite of the road construction that makes it nearly impossible to get to the church. We did the famous wordless skit done to Lifehouse’s song “Everything”. It depicts a girl out of fellowship with Jesus. She is chasing the things of this world such as: boyfriends, money, alcohol, and the desire to be thin. Once she is at the end of her rope, she is tempted to take her own life. A dark caped character comes creeping in (played by me). I hand her a knife and convince her to cut herself. Then I wrestle her some and put a gun in her hand and lift it to her head. The whole time Jesus is on stage right waving his arms at her, trying to get her attention. She now has the gun to her head as the music builds. When the music blasts “Cause you’re all I want, You’re all I need, You’re everything, everything”, she throws down the gun and tries to run to Jesus. It gets pretty violent as each character that represented the boyfriend, money, alcohol, anorexia, and demon, try to pull her away from Jesus. This fight goes on for a while until she drops to her knees, that is when Jesus steps in and becomes her mighty fortress not allowing those influences to reach her any more. When done right, this is a very powerful skit.

A half hour before people began showing up, we practiced it one more time for the video camera. As we watched the video, we seen how we needed to use the minimal lights that we had to our advantage to get our point across. So we used what lights we had to emphasis what was going on. A strobe light was used at the peak when the violent fight began as she tried to get to Jesus. A lot of light came on when Jesus stepped in to protect her and then a flash from my eight hundred watt construction lights blasted when Jesus threw off all the characters that represented the ways of this world. I felt that the skit went really well, but you not sure until you see it on video. After we got home late last night, we plugged in the camera to see if our contrast of light and dark made the difference that we were looking for. I believe it worked really well and it was very moving to watch.

I spoke on Psalm 27. It is a beautiful psalm that shows that a relationship with God can bring a confidence that chase’s away any fear. This psalm shows God as a light that drives the anxieties and dangers of the darkness. The one thing that David seeks after is “to see the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple (v. 4)” David figured out that God is “all I want, He is all I need, He is everything, everything”.

I wanted to show the group there that they could have that same confidence that David had, but they must have a relationship with Jesus. So I used John eight, when Jesus said “I am the light of the world”. “In the court of the women in the Temple were four golden candelabra that were lit in the evening during the Feast of the Tabernacles. It was said that there were not a courtyard in Jerusalem that did not reflect the light (Sukkah 5.2)”. These candelabras represented the Shekinah Glory, so while the memories of the Feast of the Tabernacles was still fresh in the Jews minds. Jesus walks into the temple and makes the statement in John 8:12, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (nasb) It is an awesome picture showing the deity of Christ. Jesus comes into this dark world as the “light” that reveals our sin and brings salvation to those who are walking in darkness. My prayer was that everyone that left that place seen Jesus and that they were able to say that “You’re all I want, You’re all I need, You’re everything, everything”.

Love them Pharisees

In Hosea 6:6, God made a strong statement about his mercy, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” Really what he was saying here is that he wants us to show kindness toward man, especially to the lowly and needy, which especially need it. Throughout Deuteronomy, it speaks of the love that we should have with God. In the gospels, the Pharisees thought that closeness with God came by keeping ceremonial traditions and their list of rules, but this is not what God wanted. God desires love toward one another. The greatest or chief command is to love God with all our heart and the second greatest is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:37) If one is truly following God, he would love his brothers and not cause them harm. (See Exodus 20, 1 John 3:10–11) Jesus took “love your neighbor” to a new level. He spoke of it as a radical love. He said that we should love the ones who persecute and abuse you for no reason. (Matt 5:4)

In Matthew nine, Jesus gets off a boat and does many miracles. He heals a paralytic, forgives his sins (which only God can do), He shows his omniscience by “knowing the Pharisees thoughts”, and allows a low life tax collector (Matthew) to become one of his disciples. Right in front of the Pharisees, there were many opportunities for them to show God’s love to needy people. Sadly, they were not interested in showing kindness or concern for the needy, but rather concerned about observing their own list of rules.

The big thing that can get me worked up (and causing me not to love) is seeing or hearing about someone who is being legalistic like the Pharisees. Outwardly, the Pharisees seemed to do the right things by following their rules, but in their hearts, they had no desire to serve God. Loving others is hard, but this world needs to see Christ’s love. His love can be seen as we show kindness, care, and concern to individuals who are struggling in this life. As we live our lives, we need to be sensitive to the Spirits leading, because there are many people out in the world who are hurting and who are looking for someone to love them. Sure it is easier to act like a Pharisee, by looking spiritual on the outside, than it is to love one another, but this is the way God chose, “he desires mercy and not sacrifice”.

Harsh Words

Jesus would always seem harsh against the ones that did not want the things of God. The religious rulers took the biggest hit on this. They would show outward holiness by keeping the law, while on the inside of them there was nothing that even desired the things of God.

Jesus would also seem harsh against Israel at times. He would call them an adulterous generation. Adulterous, because they had the Messiah right in front of them, but they did not accept him. They continually sought after other gods, ignoring the one true God who came in the flesh.

The unbelieving crowd was another group that Jesus seemed harsh against. The disciples fell into this group quite a bit of the time. The disciples were with Jesus 24/7, but they would constantly forget what he could do or has done. There were many miracles done just so the disciple could see first hand that Jesus was who he said he was. The feeding of the five thousand was one of these events. Each disciple got a basket of breadcrumbs to carry afterwards for a reminder.

Some might think that it is harsh to mention that there is an actual hell. Hell is a real place. This place is an eternal separation from God. It is a terrible place, because the one that goes there will be in their physical body that can feel pain and worse than that, they will remember the opportunities that they had to be saved from it. No one spoke more about hell than Jesus did. He would mention how there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in darkness. He spoke the most about it, but also he did the most to keep people from going there, by dying on the cross and being resurrected from the grave. He beat sin and death and now provides eternal life to those who believe. Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, eternal spiritual separation from God (i.e. Hell) can now be avoided.

The Lost Keys

I have heard it said that you can tell a man’s stress level by how many keys he has on his key chain. If this theory is correct, then I would rate very high on the stress charts, because I carry two sets of key chains. Since I have run a business, I have keys for my trucks, padlocks, and many many other things. I carry every key that I might need with me always. I do not feel stressed having that many keys, but I did yesterday when I could not find my second set of keys. The stress level started to rise when I was at the auto parts store. This was when I realized that my second set was not with me. Then I started thinking back to the last time that I seen them. Oh no! It has been over four hours since I remembered using them. Within those four hours, I had been to multiple stores in multiple towns, getting in and out of an old truck with rusty floor boards. Those keys could be anywhere. I called home for the search to begin as I started back tracking, trying to follow all of my paths. Unfortunately, they were not found even with all of our efforts. All evening and night, my mind continued to think about where I might have laid them down at. This morning I searched the garage and walked the entire lawn, driveway, and around and in every truck. No luck again. Frustrated, I began untangling an extension cord. As I was walking backwards toward one of my trucks, I heard a jingle. I looked down and there were my missing set of keys. They have been there in plain sight the entire time. How did we miss them? A great sense of relief came over me, as I began letting everyone know that I found my keys.

It is funny how God uses episodes in our lives to remind us of his love and character. I was reminded of the parable of the woman with the lost coin in Luke fifteen. She searched for that missing coin extensively. Lamps were lit and she even swept the floor to be sure to get every corner. At last it was found! She let everyone know about her find and she wanted to share her joy with them. This story mirrors God’s character, as He does not give up on the lost one but pursues him. In the same way, there is great joy when that one comes into a right relationship with Him. What a wonderful joy it is to be in a right relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

Rebel Against Conformity

Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Judah and basically took everything that he found to be valuable to him. It seemed to be a practice to not only take silver and gold, but to also take young men and women who might be useful to the Babylonian Empire. In this raid, Nebuchadnezzar took some young men that were good looking, well-educated, and had the ability to enter into the kings service. Among these young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. For the next three years they were to learn the literature and language of the Babylonians, so they would be able to be in the kings palace. Daniel had already made up his mind before hand not to eat the wonderful royal delicacies that the king assigned for them to eat. Daniel decided this because eating some of this food would have broke the Mosaic law dealing with unclean foods and the drinking of strong drink. Daniel talked with his overseer to see if he could eat only vegetables and drink water, but the overseer was fearful of losing his head. Then Daniel had to speak to the overseers boss for permission and he agreed for them to try that diet for ten days. At the end of the ten days, these four young men looked healthier than the others, so they were allowed to stay on their vegetable diet. Throughout this God’s hand was on these young men, because “in every matter of wisdom and insight the king asked them, he found them to be ten times better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire.” (Dan 1:20)

The text does not say how many young men were taken, but only four are mentioned that remembered their Jewish heritage and did not conform to their new world around them. It seems that they took a bold stand without the worry of “fitting in” or being popular among their peers. They knew that God would be with them and that He would bless them for their obedience to His Word.

If you are a follower of Christ, you must rebel against conformity to this world. Each time we follow the evil ways of this world, we are like silly putty being molded into something other than Christ likeness. I see Daniel here as a bright light shining during a dark time in Judah’s history. He refused to be conformed to the world around him. Be a Daniel, rebel against conformity to this world.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NASB)