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  • May 2012
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Good Life

Life is busy as a mom.  And it always seems that it gets busier toward the end of the school year.  Well I had a sit down meeting with the school super last week. She seem unaware of all of the “crap” that had been going on at the school.  After talking for about an hour, we decided that it would be better for Sam to be pulled out of school for the remaining of the year.  YEA!!!

Huge news that happened around here is that our oldest son, Joey, gave his first sermon last Sunday at Grace Pointe Church.  It was dealing with being the salt of God.  For those of you who would like to read it, here you go.

I read somewhere that your first sermon is always your worst, so to combat that, I gave a short sermon to my dog last night, so we should be good.

My sermon is called, “Being salt,” which could be confusing to some, but it means a lot. You could also call this sermon, “How ridiculous a world we live in,” because of all the opposition to God that exists that I’ll touch on. I hope everyone can get something out of this, maybe learn they something they didn’t know before, and possibly experience God’s presence in this. That would make me so happy.

Has anyone else noticed the ridiculous aspects of the world today? “What do you mean by ‘ridiculous,’ Joey?” I mean that the world is full of sin and opposition to Christianity and all that God is. You think, “Well, that’s nothing new.” But why can’t we make it a thing of the past?

Many people say the end times are coming, and that we are living in the final days. The terrible things that go on in the world are just a fulfillment of prophecy in the book of Revelation and the words of Jesus. That could be. But unfortunately, too many Christians simply dismiss these things as signs of the times, and don’t bother to do anything about it.

Don’t get the idea that I’m making a blanket statement. There are several Christians, probably many in this room even, who are doing something to make a difference—spreading the Gospel, teaching and mentoring followers of Christ, facilitating ways to live free from sin, etc. But there is so much more that needs to be done.

Jesus tells us that we as Christians should be salt. Yeah, salt. Luke 13:34 says, “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” That means that if we lose sight of Jesus’ values, we’re in trouble. So many people in the world say, “I identify with the Christian religion.” But this is the salt we throw on the ground to be trampled on. We need more people who say, “I am a Christian.” This is salt that seasons fine food. More on this salt business later.

Here’s a recent example of opposition to God. In Hemet, California, just about a month ago, Reverend Mark Mackey stood outside the neighborhood DMV. There was a group of people standing outside there, waiting for the place to open. He saw an opportunity to evangelize, pulled out his Bible, and began to read a passage. Then he was arrested. An officer came up to him and handcuffed him, saying, “He does not have the right to intimidate others and force them to listen and impede their ability to do normal business activities such as going to the DMV.”

So there’s a guy who is trying to tell people the Gospel, and gets punished for it. Why? The people were rendered unable to wait for the DMV to open. This is completely ridiculous.

But, it’s nothing new. Opposition to Christianity occurred even in Biblical times. There’s those Pharisees and Sadducees, people who are supposed to be teachers of the law but let the dogmatics come before the true focus: God. Luke 6:2 is one example. Jesus as he walked on the earth was healing people, he was teaching people how to get closer to God, and he was breaking down boundaries. But because the healing was done on the Sabbath, the Pharisees and Sadducees rejected him. Because he was teaching prostitutes and tax collectors, he was opposed. Because he was associating with Gentiles and Pagans, he was crucified. The very people who should have been first to embrace Jesus were the first to fervently plot to destroy him.

Here’s one you may not have thought of: The famous story of David and Goliath. 1 Samuel 17:11 tells us that the Israelites were afraid. These were God’s chosen people—even better, God’s chosen army—and they were afraid. They forgot that God would provide for them and they put their trust in no one. David? He was salt. He looked that giant in the eye and said, “Bring it on.” He put his trust in God, and was able to defeat Goliath.

Around Christmas last year, there was the famous story of the Freedom from Religion organization’s plan to construct an anti-Christmas display near Christmas displays at a government building. There are whole atheistic conventions, the most recent one, called the American Atheist Convention occurring already this year in Washington D.C. There are anti-Jesus billboards, books, songs, artworks, and speeches everywhere, and that’s why we live in America like it is today. There are famous people who have a goal to discourage others from believing in God, one of the most famous being Richard Dawkins.

One of the things that hurt me most though, is the people who actively fight against Christians. I have a friend who isn’t Christian and I’d like to share with you one sentence of one of his recent posts on Facebook. Keep in mind that I’m quoting someone, and these are not my words. “Why don’t keep your ignorant, backward-thinking, intolerant, outdated and selectively-quoted ideas to yourself. Hey Christians, if you believe homosexuality is wrong in God’s eyes, then why are people born that way? Or how come you don’t also believe that wearing multiple fabrics or sitting after a girl on her period are unholy acts? Better yet, why don’t you keep your ignorant, backward-thinking, intolerant, outdated and selectively-quoted opinions to yourself.Hey Christians, if you believe homosexuality is wrong in God’s eyes, then why are people born that way? Or how come you don’t also believe that wearing multiple fabrics or sitting after a girl on her period are unholy acts? Better yet, why don’t you keep your ignorant, backward-thinking, intolerant, outdated and selectively-quoted opinions to yourself.” I ask that you pray for him, that he may see how wrong he is and one day come to a relationship with our Maker. But this sentence is a good summary of how the world sees true Christians that don’t accept other religions: outdated, backward-thinking, and ignorant.

This is an age where everyone has an opinion, and everyone is required to voice that opinion, and every opinion is right. For example, according to our culture, we are right to practice Christianity, but wrong to not practice Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism as well. There’s a book out there called The Life of Pi, which is about this guy who practices Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism at the same time because he thinks all religions are true, like many people today believe too. Unfortunately, this book is being made into a movie, which will only spread the thought… Though the Bible tells us that we are to oppose sin, our culture tells us that everyone is right, regardless if that view is conflicting to your own.

If the roughly one-third of the world’s population who say they are Christian truly are, then our world would go from good to greater to Godly. But the state of affairs in the world is terribly shortcoming. God sent down his son to this Earth—his only son—and allowed him to die on a wooden cross, so that each one of us would be forgiven of our sins, that we may live true Christian lives. And so many people don’t.

I think some of the problems boil down to the same dogmatics that caught the teachers of the law in Jesus’ day. People don’t want to come to church because they think church has a certain dress code, that you have to do something church-y every second of the day, that they can’t be forgiven of their sins, that they associate with other sinners and won’t be accepted, that every church goer is a hypocrite, that if you break a single one of the ten commandments you get excommunicated, that if you listen to music that isn’t necessarily Christian music you’ll be outcast, that all the church really wants is your money rather than a saved soul, and on, and on, and on. But God says, “Come all who are thirsty, and buy wine and milk without cost.” God doesn’t want you to be afraid of the church—he wants you to be a part of his body and experience all he has to offer. If more people would put aside their preconceptions about church, we would have more true believers.

Jesus warned Christians that the going wouldn’t be easy, and that though everything else seems enticing, it is only a distraction. Luke 14:33 says, “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”

But why give up everything you have when you can sin anyway and the world says it’s okay? Why would anyone give up the pleasures of lust and self-gain and riches and opinions and always being right in the eyes of society? If there are any here who don’t know God, you may be thinking the same thing. The hard part about it is that you don’t really know what you’re missing until you’ve experienced God’s love firsthand. All your sins are forgiven, you feel the presence of God, and you have the desire to further His kingdom.

The problem with being human is that satan is a rival to us. He’s not a rival to God, not in the truest sense of the word. There’s nothing he can do that causes God to say, “Woah… Wasn’t expecting that! What am I going to do now?” He’s an opposition to God, but a rival to us. He can throw a curveball at us, and our lives might be temporarily disoriented. But everlasting life is a free gift to all those who repent and trust in Him. Keeping that in mind will help us get through the temporary struggles we face today.

So what do we say to the world? The same thing David said so long ago: “Bring it on. Bring on the ridiculous aspects, the terribly skewed thought processes that guide this world and so many others. Because I know that my faith, when placed in Him, will cause me to rise above the filth and focus on all that is holy. My sins are forgiven, I’ve been set free, and I have what it takes to stand for God, so I don’t fall for the temptations of the world.”

That brings you to your next problem: The Stand. You can’t cower in fear that you’ll be “discovered.” If you truly believe in God and all that He is, you will want to be like David, like Mark Mackey (the pastor who was arrested at the DMV), and like Jesus. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” That means you have to wade into the ridiculousness and shine God’s truth for all to see.

You have to be the difference in the world. Jesus was a huge difference, turning the world upside-down in its definition of God. He tells us to stay awake in Mark, Chapter 13. We don’t know the hour that God will come for His believers, and if he finds us asleep, not working for the Lord and bringing others deeply into the presence of the Almighty, woe to us. We are not doing the work He called us to do.

So what’s this salt deal? Jesus said in Matthew, Chapter 5, “You are the salt of the earth.” He was talking to the people listening to Him on the hillside, in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount. What does salt do? It provides flavor, it seasons fine food. Likewise, Christians should enhance and flavor the society around us, and bring others deeper into the presence of God. Salt makes people thirsty for water. Christians make people thirsty for Living Water.

Jesus also says that when salt loses its saltiness, the only thing it’s good for is to be thrown out and trampled on. Many people throw salt out on their driveways in winter. This gets rid of the snow and ice that accumulates there. Likewise, when Christians become bad salt, salt that is thrown out, they are only good for being trampled on, but they may also take those as pure as snow with them and melt them down. That’s another reason why we must stay awake, as Jesus called us to do.

Salt is a preservative. You can use it in food to make sure it doesn’t go bad. In the same way, Christians should act as a preservative for others, to keep them free from sin.

A turtle family went on a picnic. They had prepared seven years for their outing. The family left home, searching for a suitable place. During the second year of their journey, they found it. For about six months they cleared the area, unpacked the picnic basket, and completed the arrangement. They discovered, however, that they had forgotten the salt. A picnic without salt would be a disaster, they all agreed. After a lengthy discussion, the youngest turtle was chosen to retrieve the salt at home. Although he was the fastest of the slow-moving turtles, the little turtle whined, cried, and wobbled in his shell. He agreed to go on only with one condition: that no one would eat until he returned. The family consented and the little turtle left. Three years passed, and the little turtle had not returned. Five years. Six years. Then in the seventh year of his absence, the eldest turtle could no longer contain his hunger. He announced that he was going to eat and began to unwrap a sandwich. At that point, the little turtle popped out from behind a tree shouting, “SEE! I knew that you wouldn’t wait! Now, I am not going to get the salt!”

So you see, without salt, people start breaking their promises, and encourage others to go down with them.

You might think that because you may be all alone in this spiritual war, you can’t do the work God wants you to do. But we can taste .04 ounce of table salt in 530 quarts of water. Salt is volatile, and Jesus knew it. He also knew how important salt is to the human body. Your body right now contains enough salt to fill an average size salt shaker. 40 million tons of salt are used each year to fill our needs. If there was 40 million tons of spiritual salt, that’s us Christians, we could overcome satan and all his friends in a heartbeat.

Recently, several health nuts have pounded into our heads that we need to cut back on salt, that it’s somehow unhealthy for you. So people start getting rid of salt, which isn’t too easy to do since it’s in everything (This is the way Christians should be—in everything). Right away, the people embarking on this no-sodium quest find it difficult. Things just don’t taste right without salt. But sucking it up, they continue on this diet of theirs. Soon they find that that their legs are swollen. Yeah, their legs are swollen. So they go to the doctor. Doctor does the routine things and finds absolutely nothing. So he thinks there’s a tumor. Doctor does some MRIs and CAT scans—nothing is out of the ordinary with the legs. Then they do a background check on these people’s living habits and finds they aren’t eating any salt. He tells them to put some salt into their lives—and the legs return to their normal size. Salt is a vital part of the human’s life.

You may want to succumb to the desires of the world sometimes. People may insult you, persecute you, and belittle you. But you only need to look further back in Jesus’ sermon to find comfort. He says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

I’m going to move back to David, because he’s such a great example to use. He was salt, he was blessed. David was far more concerned about his integrity before God than he was his popularity or success before men. He was more concerned that his trust for his life, his family or his future didn’t shift from God. He wanted integrity before God. He wanted to please God and to serve God uninterrupted. He knew this integrity would give security. David trusted that God would always keep his feet steady and would uphold him, even in the eyes of men. So he turned to God to help him, at all times, under all circumstances—so his God would be honored. In these uncertain times (in the minds of men, but not with God) we must keep our relationship with God first. This will prevent us from ever wanting to go back into the world and lose our saltiness.

John A. Huffman Jr. once said, “This sanctuary can be a salt-shaker. You can come in here once a week, have a lot of fellowship with all the other salt and think your job is accomplished. Instead, God wants to pick up this sanctuary and shake you out all over this city. He has brought you together as His salt only to scatter you. He wants you to be an influence for Jesus.”

If you don’t stand for something, you might fall for anything. I wish that everyone in here would take a stand for Christianity, so you don’t fall for lies, deceit, desire, and anything else the world has to offer through the devil. Then again, I wish you would fall—but only as salt being shaken out of its container, dropping to the people in need of hearing God’s word, and flavoring the Earth. Stay Awake, Be Salt, Change the World.

Not bad, huh.  I am so grateful that God allowed me to be able to see him give his first sermon.  My heart is trying it’s best to pop out of my chest with the pride that I have for Joey.  So this week I have been attending an art gallery that Joey has two pieces in.  Yes, he is an artist also.  Then we attended the Senior Awards Program.  Joey got three awards!  Plus I have been getting things ready for his graduation party that we are hosting this weekend at Grace Pointe Church.  This is on top of my duties of being wife and mom to the others that I love.  Life, how be it busy, is good.

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