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Posts tagged ‘grace’

Salticrax (Sugar & Spice part 2)

Read the first part of this post here.

Matthew 5:13

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

The Bible tells us that we are the salt of the earth. What does that mean? How do we “season” our lives and the lives of those around us?

We are SALT.

For starters, we add flavour. Our key verse this morning is Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” In other words, the things we say make a difference. We need to be gentle, gracious. Kind and sweet. Research indicates that a pregnant woman’s attitudes and emotions affect her unborn baby. A grumpy mom means a grumpy home, and it sometimes seems like everyone we meet is affected by our mood – for better or for worse.

The good news is that we have control of what we say. Proverbs 15:1 tells us that “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” The implication is that we can choose whether to answer softly, or in a way that stirs up anger.

Verse 7 of chapter 15 says “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.” In other words, a symptom of wisdom is that when we speak, what we say educates and exhorts others.

How do we make sure that what we say is in fact seasoned with salt? Proverbs 15:28 gives us the answer: “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.” Don’t rush to speak! Think about it. Look it up. Ask for help! Or just say nothing at all. Not saying a good thing when it’s needed can be hurtful, but saying a bad thing when it’s not needed can do so much more damage: you can’t take it back.

In Ephesians 4:29, Paul tells us “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Bear in mind that he was under house arrest when he wrote this. If he’d been like me, he’d have been inciting a rebellion, demanding his rights, campaigning for release. He’d have had a blog and Facebook page with hourly updates, telling the world about the injustice of it all! What does he say? Let NO corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. The only things we should say, according to Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are things that are good to the use of edifying. And why? So that we can minister grace unto the hearers. Minister means serve, attend to needs. Grace means unmerited favour. It means good things you don’t deserve. So we need to serve others with good things they don’t even deserve. Words of life.

Sugar and Spice

I love spicy food. I really do – hot curries, flavourful puddings, the more taste it has, the better. My sister accuses me of being an “auto-condimentiser”, because I almost always automatically add salt to my meal before I’ve even taken a bite.

Colossians 4:6

“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

In our highly processed, instant world, the word “seasoned” often conjures images in our minds of MSG-laden foods, or bright red concoctions that’ll have our kids bouncing off the walls in twenty minutes flat!

But seasonings can be a good thing. In fact, studies show that capsaicin, the active ingredients in chillis, can be very beneficial for asthma sufferers. It also helps with migraines and certain types of headaches. Ginger is known to relieve nausea and indigestion. It is also useful for blocked sinuses, assists in the absorption of nutrients, and has healing properties. Cinnamon reduces cholesterol and blood sugar levels over time, and reminds us of the holidays!

And then there’s salt. No kitchen is without salt, and it has many essential functions.

Functions of salt:

  • Add flavour
  • Preserve
  • Clean and disinfect
  • Dry

Bland food is magically transformed into gourmet cuisine with a sprinkle of salt. It adds flavour to any dish – even chocolate! More importantly, it enhances the flavour already there. A little salt brings out the best in each element of a meal. Even sweet foods get a touch of pizzazz with a pinch of salt.

Do you like biltong? In our house, it’s practically a staple food, and by far the number one reason so few South Africans choose to be vegetarians. What makes biltong awesome? Salt. Salt preserves food, making it last for longer, while still being safe for human consumption. In ancient times, before the invention of useful devices like refrigerators, salt was a valuable commodity in keeping food fresh and healthy.

Salt cleans. It disinfects. If you’ve ever had toothache, a mouth ulcer, or a sore throat, a teaspoon or two of salt in a little lukewarm water is the perfect gargle to sort it out – and so economical, too!

In fact, salt was so valuable that part of a Roman soldier’s annual salary was paid in salt.

Lesson #18: The Blessing Dare

Talk about your joys!It’s been so long since I posted! We went away to a remote farm in the middle of nowhere and the logistics of that trip have taken every spare ounce of thought processing power. I’ll dedicate a post to that some time soon, but this is more important.

Over the past few weeks I have been struck more and more by the idea of giving back in real, tangible ways that make an impact on the lives of those we know and love. As I so often find when our Lord is at work, this message has been coming at me from many angles and this past weekend was something of a melting pot in which everything arrived, boiled together and bubbled over into an Idea.

You see, before we moved seven years ago, we had Things. Steady jobs (with great salaries that we really did not appreciate). Cars (plural!). A house (which we owned). Friends, family, plans and all the rest. We gave a fixed monthly stipend to the Church but it certainly wouldn’t qualify as any kind of tithe. It wasn’t much more than a tithe of a tithe, in truth.

And we gave back.

Need new tyres for your car? Here we are. A place to stay? No problem. Food? Clothes? A home for your pets? Baby sitters? Money for movies? A lift to the movies? A night out? A lift home because your car broke down? A tow for your broken car? Fixing your broken car? Sure thing. We loved to give back and it was wonderful to be able to contribute to the lives of our friends and families in this real, tangible way. We never, ever even considered that this was a season in our lives, a time of blessing and learning and personal growth. In fact, we assumed that we were good, kind, generous, hard working and talented individuals who deserved what we had and would thus always have it.

Ha ha ha ha …

The past seven years have been sobering, to say the least. Having lost nearly everything we now mostly find ourselves on the flip side of that equation. Let me tell you about it: it sucks. You’d think it would be great to have people helping you out along the way, meeting your needs, caring for you. It is, and we appreciate it. But always being on the receiving end? Not so much of fun. We’re ill-equipped and we don’t enjoy it. Our pride has taken a serious knock and daily we have to learn a new lesson about faith in God’s provision. If we don’t have it, we don’t need it. Simple. It doesn’t matter what anyone says or thinks – not the banks, creditors, empty fridge … God said He’s meet our needs. He never lies nor breaks promises. Therefore, what we have is what we need.

I’ve started to notice a subtle mind shift in myself which is so insidious it’s almost diabolical. It cam disguised as a package deal of Faith + Humility. What it is, however, is greed and covetousness. Not only graciously accepting the gifts we’re given so many times by those around us, but actually looking for gifts, expecting help, support and more from those around us. Certainly, that attitude cannot honour God.

And so I’ve decided to start giving back. I’m looking for creative ways to outgive those who give to me. I am time-strapped and cash-strapped and sometimes stress and sleep-deprivation make me creativity-strapped too. But I’m praying for the ability to spot needs and to think of creative solutions to those needs that I can be a conduit of in some way – even if only in prayer (which is, after all, our most powerful asset).

I’ve challenged the ladies in our Church to join me in this blessing dare: let’s each try to outgive each other (and everyone else) this week! I even wrote the words:

“Who can I bless today, and how?”

on a piece of paper and stuck it to the ceiling above my bed, so that it’s the first thing I see each morning when I wake up, the last each night when I go to bed.

There’s more to this – so much more – but for now I challenge you to join me in the Blessing Dare: who can you bless today, and how?

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