Tag Archives: changed lives

A Ban On Salt

By Tim Hall
Proposed legislation in New York prompts us to think of our influence.
Saltpic3.jpgAbout once a month I enjoy grits with my breakfast. My morning meals are generally simple, but when I gather with men from our congregation for a monthly breakfast, I’m dishing out grits alongside my eggs and bacon.
But I don’t care for unsalted grits. If I can’t add the sodium chloride, then I’m going to pass, thank you.
The legislature in New York wants to improve the lifestyles of their citizens. A proposal has been put forth to ban the use of salt in restaurants in that state.
Whether the food is for consumption on-site or off, adding salt to their fare will bring a $1,000 fine for every dish they serve.
Big Apple chefs are understandably upset, arguing that the legislation is “absurd.” We suspect customers feel the same way. If the legislation is passed, you can be sure patrons of dining establishments will be carrying shakers of salt in little brown bags.
Jesus used the common image of salt in his charge to his followers: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Matthew 5:13, NKJV).
Salt produces a distinctive flavor in food; people notice when it’s present (and when it isn’t). Christianity should also produce distinctive qualities in the lives it affects. If not, something is wrong.
Honesty is one aspect of the Christian’s saltiness. Paul’s instructions to slaves show this: “Not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10).
An employee who takes what does not belong to him shows no distinctive effect of Christ in this respect.
The way we love others can show the godly salt in us. Jesus taught this: “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46).
Loving one’s enemies is a sure way to get the attention of the world.
Our words should also be salted. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).
Our task is more than purging out offensive words heard on the street; we must deliberately infuse our words with uplifting grace. Others will notice.
Some Christians, however, live as if there is a ban on salt in their lives. Restaurants that serve unsalted dishes will lose customers. Will Christians who display unsalted lifestyles find any who wish to adopt their faith?

In Groundhog We Trust

by Tim Hall
A long-standing tradition urges us to examine our professions.
punxphil2.jpgWe might as well get ready for the reports. On February 2, just as in years past, there will be news reports from Punxsutawney, PA.
This town of just over 6,000 residents attracts thousands for the annual ritual of the groundhog. Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow on that date. The nation will wait anxiously to see if Phil sees his shadow.
The tradition began in this Pennsylvania town in 1886, but goes deeper in time in Europe. If the groundhog sees his shadow, we are told, he will be frightened into returning to his burrow and another six weeks of winter weather will ensue.
Everyone hopes Phil doesn’t see his shadow!
Does anyone today really believe this method of climatology? Do we put away our winter clothes if we hear that Phil didn’t see his shadow? Or is it just good-natured fun that doesn’t affect any of our decisions?
Sadly, many approach their religion in much the same way. Though they profess belief that Jesus emerged from his grave long ago, nothing really changes in their lives as a result of that belief.
Their values, their behavior, their speech — they’re all about the same as anyone else’s.
Paul wrote about how our lives should change: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
Because Jesus rose, we will all be raised one day. And then what? That’s the point at which our faith begins to show.
Peter was more direct: “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 2:11).
The fact that Jesus rose from the grave and will return to earth some day should affect the way we live in the meantime.
Punxsutawney Phil is based on nothing more than fables. Our religion in Christ is not based on fables. “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
Peter knew his faith was based on reality. So is ours if we follow the apostles’ doctrine.
We’ll all chuckle and wink knowingly when we hear the report from Pennsylvania next week. Then we’ll go on with our lives as if nothing happened. May that never be the case with the way we view Jesus’ resurrection!

If There Was A Resurrection

by Tim Hall
If one is raised from the dead, dramatic differences should follow.
“If? Are you questioning whether or not Jesus Christ was raised from the dead?” That might well be the reaction of some after reading the title of this article.
We’re in that time of the year in which Christendom celebrates in various ways Jesus’ resurrection. Though our methods of honoring that event may differ, we are in agreement with the groundbreaking (no pun intended) nature of it. No, we’re not questioning whether Jesus was raised from the dead. We’re convinced it really happened.
What we question is that which Paul questioned: Has there been a resurrection from the dead in our lives? Can evidence of that resurrection be found?
Here is how Paul phrased the idea: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1,2, NKJV).
But how could we have been raised? We’ve never died – have we?
In the previous chapter, Paul noted the death that should have taken place:

“Buried with him in baptism, in which you also were raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he has made alive together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:12,13).

We all inevitably choose sin (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). In doing so we choose death, separation from God. But Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection made possible our resurrection, Paul said. Some of us have responded to that opportunity. In baptism we laid to rest the old way of life (sin), and were raised to walk in a new path (righteousness).
Here’s the problem: Some who have gone through the vital acts of obedience do not show the difference that a resurrection should make. Their language is still laced with profanity; their values still reflect a love of sinful pleasures; their interests continue to be primarily selfish. Have these really been raised from the dead?
A nearly-identical passage is found in Romans 6. Paul again compared our conversion to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Note especially verse 4: “Therefore we were buried with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Why did God raise us from the grave of baptism? So that our lives would be new.
As we contemplate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from physical death, let’s not fail to contemplate our own situation. Have we followed through on the pledge we made at baptism?