pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Salt

Reading: Mark 9: 42-50

Verse 50: “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another”.

Our passage today open with Jesus warning us about sin. It begins with a warning against causing ‘little ones’ or children to sin. This could be about literal children or about believers new to the faith. In either case, the consequence is dire – the equivalent of the old ‘cement shoes’ quip that we joked that people who crossed the mafia would receive.

Jesus continues to say that we are better off without a hand, foot, or eye if these cause us to sin. On the practical side, if I were missing a hand due to sin, for example, I would be a little less likely to commit that sin. Yet if I were to be honest, I’d sooner be without both hands than to be free from a particular sin. While this is our reality, in the text Jesus is not being literal. He is using hyerbole to make His point: all of our sin has a cost. Whether it is a broken or damaged relationship with another or if it just affects our relationship with God, there is always a cost.

Jesus shifts to salt in verse 49. Continuing His topic from the previous verses, Jesus reminds us that one day we will all be “salted with fire”. One day we will all stand before the throne of judgment. Then, in verse 50, Jesus connects this fact to the our daily lives with a different salt illustration. He says, “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another”. Live with the fire of God in you. Live with the power of God at work in our lives. Allow our faith to ‘flavor’ all aspects of our lives as we live out an eternal life faith in this present world. In doing so, we will be at peace with one another. Living a life of faith counters our selfish tendencies, allowing us to be content and to live in peace with each other. May our faith flavor all we do and say each day!

Lord of light, pour our your Spirit upon me this day, that I may be both salt and light to the world. May my faith flavor all of my relationships this day – with you, with my family, with my brothers and sisters in Christ, and with those I meet today. Make it so, Lord. Amen.


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Salt and Light

Reading: Matthew 5: 13-20

As follower of Christ, we are called to be both salt and light. Both are essential roles in our Christian witness.  If we fail to be either, we are only partly carrying out our role.

Traditionally, salt served two purposes – salt preserved and salt flavored.  In a world without refrigeration, preserving food was an essential practice.  Food is crucial to life and is a prescious commodity, so preserving what you did not eat when you killed an animal would later sustain life.  In much the same way, our faith preserves us.  Through prayer, study, and worhsip we coat our hearts and minds with the things of God.  Then both in the day to day and in the trials, our faith preserves who we are at our core, keeping us grounded in Christ.

Sal is also a flavoring.  Many foods are bland or dull without salt.  Our faith is the salt that flavors our life.  It is also our faith that flavors the lives of those around us.  Who we are, what we do, the words we choose, how we treat others – all are flavored by our faith.  The ‘flavors’ our faith adds to all these things is love, truth, compassion, honesty, understanding…

Traditionally, light was held up to illuminate or show the way to things around the source of the light.  For example, a city was built upon a hilltop or a lamp was placed upon a stand.  The analogies of lighting the way or of casting aside the darkness are what Jesus refers to as He calls on us to be light.  Our faith should shine out from us, into the world.  Our faith should radiate out from within, bringing hope and promise and vision to a world living in darkness.  Our faith must not be private – hidden under a bowl – but public and out there for all to see.  It is through seeing our faith lived out that others see the true light and are guided towards a relationship with Jesus Christ.

We are called to be salt and light.  We each have opportunities each day to be these things to a world in need.  May we make the most of what God sends out way, seeking to bear witness to the faith we hold dear.


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The Plan

Reading: John 16: 12-13

In His time on earth, Jesus began a great work: the salvation of the world.  In His limited time He of three years He brought many to faith.  But more importantly, He laid the groundwork for God’s master plan that continues to reach out, bringing the good news to all nations and to all people.  Jesus began with a small crew and taught them what it looked like to love sacrificially and to love God above all else.  He planned for His work of saving the world to continue on by sending the Holy Spirit.  For the disciples there that day and for us continuing the mission today, the Holy Spirit guides us, speaks into our lives, and empowers us to follow Jesus’ example.

The Spirit empowers us today so that we can continue to do the work that Jesus began.  The unfinished plan continues to draw closer and closer to completion, day by day, new believer by new believer.  Each and every one of us plays a role in the plan through the working out and living out of our faith.  Our lives tell the story of loving God and loving others more than self.  This is a radical and countercultural story.  In our day to day lives we must live as both salt and light.  As light we shine God’s love into the darkness of people’s lives and as salt we bring the aroma and taste of Christ to those in need.

As we are part of the plan, so too will others be a part of the plan.  There are many who have not heard the good news of Jesus Christ.  Many have an inkling of who God is and have heard of Jesus and maybe of His message.  But it is a superficial understanding at best.  As His witnesses in the world, we must enter into the lives of the lost and walk alongside them so that they can come to know the love of Christ.  The love of Christ is life changing once you have really experienced it.  He makes us into a new creation.  May we each carry Jesus Christ to the lost so that through the power of the Holy Spirit, all may come to truly know Jesus as Lord and enter into true life in Christ.


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The Hospital We Call Church

John Wesley once noted that sometimes a Christian’s behavior is the greatest obstacle to a non-believer being saved.  Today some churches are refered to as a social club for the holy and righteous.  In some houses of worship we say guests are great but we do not treat them that way – especially if they are not just like us.

In today’s passage from Mark, Jesus addresses our behavior as a follower.  In figurative but somewhat harsh language, we are advised to cut off a hand if it causes us to sin or to gouge out an eye if it causes us to sin.  Jesus tells us it would be better to live maimed or partially blind than to keep sinning and to eventually enter hell.  His point is that our behavior is critical, not only for our faith journey but also for the non-believer who sees us living out our faith.

Jesus concludes this teaching with the call to be salt to the people we encounter.  Through our gracious and loving words and actions we are to ‘season’ the world with God’s grace and love.  As we live out our call to build up His kingdom here on earth, our positive witness will draw the non-believer to seek this same grace and love.

Our behaviors must attract people to God, not make them question having a relationship with Him.  We must offer love and grace when others need it and offer honest and repentant words when our behavior necessitates this.  We must live in the knowledge that we are all sinners saved by grace alone.  May we offer Christ to the world this day, inviting others to join us in our hospital for sinners that we call church.  For it is there we are healed too.

Scripture reference: Mark 9: 42-50


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Taste and See

Isaiah 34:6-8:
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
He saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And He delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.

These verses from Psalm 34 really stood out to me this morning. I especially like “this poor man called” and “taste and see that the Lord is good.” God loves us all equally, but He seems to have a special, soft spot for those in need. The need may be physical, emotional, or spiritual. We see this soft spot in Jesus too!!

In Matthew 5 we are called to be salt and light to the world. As salt we preserve and we flavor. When we are salt to others we encourage them in their situation and remind them that God loves them and will help them persevere. Salt reminds us to continue to hang on, to continue to lean into God. As salt we also challenge others to action – to get off the seat of complacency and to be a part of building the kingdom here on earth.

As light we both shed light into the darkness and also provide a way back into the life of faith. At times we are that light that shines into people’s lives who are lost in darkness or sin. We call them out of that life. At other times light means helping people to see God again. At times we all get lost or off track. As the light we are called to help people find God when they are having a difficult time seeing or feeling the light.

Many out there are in need of God. Many who are hurting physically, emotionally, or spiritually. When this poor man calls, may we be there to answer the call. May we be thereto be God’s hands and feet. May we be there so that they can taste and see that the Lord is good!!