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MATTHEW 5 v13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

Jesus used everyday things, such as salt and light, to teach deep spiritual truths

What do we use salt for? There are 14,000 uses for salt! Here are a few:

  1. Flavour – imagine crisps without salt? We need to add God’s flavour to the world, such as radiance, joy, security, vitality, beauty, health. We need to be effective witnesses. So add flavour locally – be a school governor, listen to kid’s reading, support the local football team. One small church man working for his town council boldly suggested that they pray at the outset of their council meetings. They agreed and Andy leads the prayers every time they meet.
  2. Preservative – no fridge in those days so salt was used to stop food rotting, to prevent decay or perishing. The world is becoming spiritually decayed, people are perishing. 2 cor 2 v15 “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing”
  3. Purity/cleansing – 2 kings 2 v19-22 Elisha purified the water with salt.
  4. Creates thirst – the gospel points people to Christ, our ‘flavour’ hopefully creates a thirst in others for God.
  5. Healing – I had a tooth out last week and the dentist told me to use a mouthwash of warm water and salt for healing.
  6. Transforms bitterness into sweet – try adding a small quantity of salt to a glass of tonic water, or into bitter tasting coffee – it becomes sweet!
  7. De-icing roads – melts the ice – our flavour will hopefully melt people’s hearts.

The expression “to be worth one’s salt”, which means you’re competent and deserve what you’re earning, is said to have its roots in ancient Rome, where soldiers were sometimes paid in salt or given an allowance to purchase it. The word salary is derived from the Latin “salarium,” which originally referred to a soldier’s allowance to buy salt.

Sodium Chloride is a stable compound. In Jesus time, salt was often corrupted by being mixed with small stones, making it an unstable. If it got damp and the salt evaporated, just gravel was left and used for pavements. eg v13.

Don’t lose your God flavour!  Stay close to Jesus

On monday, we held our annual Small Church day conference. Part of the day was spent hearing from Amie Buhari about how to keep our young people in the church. Amie is the Director and Founder of The Hebe Foundation http://www.thehebefoundation.org.uk (a Christian charity) who work with young people. They are funded so can help small churches to engage with projects for young people without money being a major issue. Here is some of the useful advice she gave us:

  1. Identify their gifts and talents
  2. YP must have the trust of the leaders
  3. Pray for the YP
  4. Get them involved
  5. Allow them to express their faith through music, art etc
  6. Let them do a presentation to the church about issues they are passionate about
  7. Invest in the YP – time and money etc
  8. Identify the emerging leaders. Mentor them, train them
  9. Every diaconate should have a person under 25 yrs old on the team
  10. The leadership need to be willing to take risks with YP and to learn from them
  • Give YP responsibility eg set up and serve communion, preach, lead worship etc
  • Listen to their ideas.
  • Be aware of life transitions – junior to secondary school, school to college, college to uni, uni to work (FUSION very helpful)
  • Spend time with YP, listen, be relational, be real and up with life issues
  • Church needs to be a safe place of trust, a place they can talk about depression, self harming etc
  • Be missional – make faith relevant to them, tell them what God is doing in the world not just in the UK.

ENCOURAGE YOUR YOUNG PEOPLE THIS WEEK!

ACRONYMS

I thought I would share with you a children’s talk I did at Waltham Abbey Baptist Church yesterday.

We looked at various acronyms – an abbreviation consisting of the first letters of each word in the name of something, pronounced as a word:

I asked the congregation to guess the following:

D.I.Y. – Do it yourself

L.O.L. – Laughing out loud

S.W.A.L.K. – Sealed with a loving kiss

S.I.M. (card) – Subscriber Identification Module (card)

E.T.A. – Estimated Time of arrival

Christian acronyms:

W.W.J.D. – What Would Jesus Do

F.R.O.G. – Fully Rely On God

P.U.S.H. – Pray Until Something Happens

The theme of the service and later the sermon was Prayer. I encouraged the children to expect God to answer prayer. We all said Psalm 5 v 3 together:

‘In the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation’

We then made wristbands with the reminder ‘P.U.S.H.’ on them.

So go ahead…pray until something happens – then thank our amazing God for His answer, love and care.

What’s your Legacy?

I have recently been on an interesting ’journey’.

My 88 year old mother became seriously ill and after a month in hospital, sadly passed away. Visiting her daily over that time, I realised again how fragile life is. From enjoying a family holiday in June, here she was, just a month later, fading fast.

I was reminded of verse 7 in 1 Timothy 3, that we bring nothing into this world and take nothing out of it. It’s all about what we do with the time that we have between those 2 points. It is good to be faced with our own mortality and ask the deep questions. We have this life to decide where we will spend the next. We have only our soul, character and our response to Jesus. No riches, no possessions or property.

What is our legacy? What is left behind? Who have we impacted in our lives? How will we be remembered?

Hopefully we have lived in a way that illustrates God’s love, sharing the good news, encouraging people in faith, passing love and wisdom onto our children and grandchildren, friends, church.

And in the end, I hope that people will say of me, as I said of mum at her funeral, that our lives were richer for having known her.

You are Precious

I have just returned from a lovely holiday in Samos, Greece, with a Christian company called ‘Richmond Holidays’. www.richmondholidays.com (they also do winter skiing holidays too). The week was full of sun, sand and sea, watersports, trips (including Patmos and Ephesus) and fun.

But also, prayer, worship, a thought for the day and fellowship and…space. Everything is optional.

I went on holiday reeling from the death of my mother, who had been fading quite quickly over the previous month. On the first night, the scripture was Zechariah 3 v17

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Saviour. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with singing.”

What a picture, that Father God sings over us. Not just me but all of His people, including YOU. It reminded me of the Matt Redman song https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=matt+redman+fathers+song  which tells me that God cares for me. There is an amazing line in that song ‘Heavens perfect mystery, the King of love has sent for me…’

God is always there through the ups and downs of life, sustaining and strengthening us. I need to listen to His voice above all others.

I just needed that verse in Zechariah to remind me that all things are held in His hand, He is in control and His timing is always perfect.

Great Resource

As a church, we have just completed a 6 week course called ‘Paraclesis’ by Trevor Partridge and published by CWR. (see www.paraclesis.org.uk) The Greek word means to come alongside and journey together.

The course is designed to lead small groups through a series of bible studies with great personal reflection built in. There are resources for sermons and small group leaders available online as well as a participants guide for everyday use. As the guide only costs £5, our groups were happy to buy a personal copy for study at home. There are useful communication tips to use everyday and also a set of Kindness Cards to nudge the group into actions they may not have thought of yet.

The idea is to intentionally love one another in the church more than we do and this will then spill over into life in the everyday, at home, school, work, college, gym and supermarket.

It also encourages us to look at our lives and see how we have journeyed since birth. Nothing is ever wasted in the Kingdom so all our experiences can be used to come alongside people who are struggling in those areas.

The church needs now more than ever to be a ‘paracletic’ community, to be a hospital for broken people to get well. The church has historically reached out to the broken and provided pastoral care. Think of the Salvation Army, the Samaritans, Relate, Alcoholics Anonymous, the hospice movement, YMCA, chaplaincy services etc etc ALL began with Christians getting involved in the community reaching out to broken people with the love of Christ.

Ephesians 4 v1-3 from the Message

‘I want you to get out there and walk – better yet, run – on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline – not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love’.

 

Have you noticed how character traits are passed down from parent to child? Some are good and some not so good.

I used the phrase ‘I am my father’s daughter’ recently when speaking to my brother about a situation which deeply frustrated me. He laughed, recalling how our dad was an intelligent and generous man, but one who did not suffer fools gladly.

The phrase stuck in my mind as I went about my day. I mused that although being true, how much more being a Christian, am I my heavenly Father’s daughter. I am loved and valued by Almighty God. I am accepted by Him, I am significant to Him and I am secure in Him.

He calls me to be faithful and He makes me fruitful. He encourages me to grow the fruit of the Spirit in my life, including patience (!) which I was lacking in my frustrating situation.

We need to remember that we are now children of the King, princes and princesses and show the world that indeed, we are our Father’s children by the way we live, speak and behave.