You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. – Matthew 5:13
As Christians, we are called to be salt of the earth. What exactly does that mean? It actually has multiple meanings. One purpose of salt is preservation. It can actually keep food, especially meat, from spoiling. Believers in Christ are preservatives to the world. They help keep the world good in an ungodly society corrupted by sin. Another purpose of salt is to enhance the flavor. Christians also “enhance” the flavor of life in the world by living obediently to Christ. This influences the world in a positive way. Essentially, followers of Christ are supposed to be honest, peaceful, ministers to the needy, and share the love of the Lord. We’re supposed to do this behind the scenes, never calling attention to ourselves. Salty is not showy.
I have been unbelievably salty this week, but not-so-much in the above Christian context. Salt can have a negative taste if it isn’t used sparingly. And if too much salt is consumed, it can have lasting side effects like high blood pressure and fluid retention. I have been abundantly honest to the world this week, and it (what is supposed to be positive) may be leaving a bad taste in the mouths of those who have encountered my seasoning.
Have you ever wanted to tell someone the truth, but felt like you should sugar-coat it in order to protect their feelings? There are instances when someone needs to hear the softer version. Usually, when I share the truth, give advice, or contribute my opinion, I do it in a sweet manner. However, some situations require a less sugary delivery. That’s not to say that raw, honest truth has to be harsh… but pouring it out in excess can be as nasty as emptying the entire salt shaker on one french fry. And that much salt – well – it draws attention to itself.
I think someone has mixed up the granules in my metaphorical kitchen this week. Yes… I believe there is salt in my sugar bowl. In the past three days, friends and family have asked me questions or vented their concerns, and I have been brutally honest to the point of hypernatremia! [That's the medical term for an elevated level of sodium, otherwise known as someone having too much salt.] I am still sharing truth and giving advice solely out of love for them, but my delivery may be a bit cold and unwelcoming.
So my question is, what is the perfect amount of salt? Is there a good way to balance it with sugar? Am I being disobedient by sugar-coating the truth? Is it the responsibility of a Christian to be as salty as needed? Or is it possible to be too seasoned? I don’t want to lose my saltiness. I want to continue to preserve and enhance everyone that I meet. But I also don’t want to be so salty that I have lasting negative side effects. Please comment with your thoughts.
“Show me how you spend your money, and I’ll show you what you really love.” – Jesus
Today has been tough. I assumed this would be a challenging week… but today down-right hurt. Not the kind of hurt that makes you say “That stung a bit”, but the excruciating pain that makes you scream “Ouch, that stepped on my toes until they became bloody nubs!!” Yeah, it’s that powerful on Day One.
This week’s “fast” is in the area of Possessions. I’ve been focusing on Matthew 6:19-21 and my task is to give away seven items per day for the next seven days. I am not supposed to donate clothes to Goodwill. The goal is to get out in the community, learn about local organizations, and actually fellowship with folks in need.
I had some free time today during work, since I’m wrapping up my current job this week before I make the jump to a different department. I took the time to start reading the Week Three: Possession chapter in the Bible study. I couldn’t put the book down. The more I read, the more emotional I became. Page after page and quote after quote, I was forced to face questions like:
In general, what do our houses jammed with possessions seem to indicate about what we treasure? and If “stored earthly treasures” is a clue about your spiritual health like Jesus suggested, what do you see? Any red flags signaling some wrong thinking?
I never viewed myself as a materialistic person, but after today’s read… I know that, like most in the US, I am. I don’t think I am materialistic in that I want a lot of things, but I place sentimental value on obscure materials like tshirts and books. That value prevents me from discarding old items when I bring new ones in. I cling to these things because I wore that tshirt to a concert or may need to reference this book again. This is not how God wants us to be. Roughly 15% of Jesus’s recorded teachings relate to radical Christianity (aka His ordinary discipleship) which is more that his heaven and hell teachings combined. We’re meant to live simply, love much, and give to those in need.
This afternoon, I spent time researching local nonprofits. I have clothing, books, craft supplies, and organizational products waiting, ready to be given away. I know it won’t be easy. I’ll try to reason and rationalize everything. But I have to let my things go. I have an abundance and it is time to be generous. I will share what I donate and with whom at the end of the week.
God, please let there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom!
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. – Mark 10:25
My heart hurts. I’m disgusted. And I am frustrated.
I can’t even collect my thoughts, so I probably shouldn’t attempt to blog right now. If I type what I am thinking, I am certain I will offend someone. That isn’t my intention, but it may happen.
Tomorrow marks the end of my second week of The 7 Experiment and it has already impacted my life tremendously. There is something significant about praying the “less of me and my junk” prayer daily. I am seeing clearly how greedy our country is. I have always questioned things like: Why are actors, musicians, and athletes paid ridiculously large salaries while other careers, like paramedics or public school teachers, barely average $40,000 in some states? I have never understood why it is okay for a presidential candidate to spend millions of dollars on campaign ads, while telling voters that they spend money wisely. I have even asked friends who wanted to buy me gifts (for birthday, Christmas, or whatever) to save their money or – if they insisted on spending – donate to a charity in my honor. They would still get the tax deduction, and I would be extremely humbled by the thought. *Note: Only two friends complied to my request and it only lasted one Christmas. This was my mentality pre-7.
Post 7, in the midst of the experiment, I am now becoming a bit radical. My thoughts are being consumed by people in need, and my heart cries out for them. I am more conscious of areas in my life that I want (read: NEED) to change and I am nauseated that I have felt called to change but was never obedient. And I am appalled at the number of people who are walking around, unaware of the excess in which they live. It truly annoys me now.
The average cost of a wedding in the US is $28,400. Why? Statistics show 50% of marriages end in divorce. I’m guessing a lot of those divorces end because of financial strains. So $28K for a wedding doesn’t seem like a very good investment. Elaborate vacations. Expensive cars. Closets full of name-brand clothes. Ginormous houses. What are they all for? People in the US live above their means, period. Those same people often complain that they are “broke” when in fact they’re just in debt, trying to buy a social status or get something they think they “deserve”.
Will we ever learn (and accept) that our value is not in anything of this earth? God has made us invaluable. We are priceless. So why do so many of us worry that someone isn’t going to like us because we drive a modest car? Or why do we immediately scrutinize a person because they’re not wearing the latest name-brand styles. This form of judgement and discremination needs to stop! We’ve got to stop making ourselves feel better because we’re carrying $200 purses. In the same, we have to stop putting ourselves down because we don’t live in a 3,000 sq ft home.
How many times have you walked into your kitchen, gazed into your refrigerator (after going to the grocery store), and said “I have nothing to eat.” I am guilty. It isn’t that we don’t have food. It is that we don’t have what we want readily available. But friends, if we have a pantry full of food and our neighbors have nothing to eat, there is something wrong with how we are thinking!
Please God, continue to burden me with this. I want to see people through your eyes. I want to look beyond labels and finances. I want to have compassion for those in need. I want to be more conscious of what I have and what I can do without. I need less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21
Guess what? No complaints so far today. As a matter of fact, I wanted to share with you two things:
1. I didn’t wash clothes last night. Yay me!
2. I had to be at work around 7:30 this morning. I didn’t crawl out of bed until 6:15. I went straight to the shower and was out by 6:30. Thanks to my limited wardrobe, I was dressed and on my way to work shortly after 7am.
Typically, I don’t have to be in the office until 9am. I’m usually up by 6:30, in the shower by 7am, then spend an obscene amount of time trying on outfit after outfit. Some days, the first one works. Most days, something doesn’t fit right or look like it did on Pinterest, so I try a second or third time before I’m happy with my attire. I have spent nearly 30 minutes before, searching through my closet and dresser for the perfect outfit of the day.
What I realize now is that I have entirely too much. There are things hanging in my closet with tags still attached. There are also things in my closet that I am hanging onto because I think ridiculous things like, What if I get rid of that [corduroy blazer that barely fits] and suddenly need a tight corduroy blazer!? or That’s what I was wearing on the first day of my new job [three jobs ago]. Seriously. I place too much value on material things. I am 11 days into this 49 day day fast and can see that clearly. Meanwhile, there are people in my own city who would just like one pair of good, used shoes to replace the only old, holey pair they have.
God, please…. less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom.
Hi. It’s me. Complaining again.
I volunteered at the local fair last night. I stood on my feet for 8 hrs. My poor tootsies ache, my lower back feels like it could go into a spasm at any second, and I felt some weird “ripping” pain in my right arch just before I crawled in bed. Word to the wise…. just because a shoe can be both dressy and casual, doesn’t mean you should stand around in them for long periods of time. Ouch! Oh, and can I mention again how cold it is?
Plus, I’ve already used my washing machine twice since I’ve started this fast. Granted, my machine is energy- and water-efficient, but still, I typically do two loads per week. At the rate I’m going, I will do laundry every night this week. I’m not down with that.
On the positive side, I have to admit… it has been SO nice being able to know exactly what I am wearing when I step out of the shower. A limited wardrobe is quite effortless – equally as boring – but effortless outweighs the boring right now.
Truthfully, my problems are so minimal and petty in comparison. I have really had the homeless community on my mind this week. Not having a coat or proper shoes has really opened my eyes (and my heart) to what these people have to do without on a daily basis, and the health risks and pain that they have to endure because of it. Oh, the things I have taken for granted.
God, please continue to move me. I pray for these people. I pray that I continue to hear you. I pray that you will guide me on how I can help them. I pray for their safety and health. Let there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom.
Okay… it’s only day two and I need to vent.
Suddenly, North Carolina has arctic temps. (Maybe it’s in the 60s – but this girl and her Caribbean soul has a body freezing point of 72, so I’m COLD!)
Instead of complaining, I have caught myself praying. I seem to be focused on the homeless. I’m praying for those who not only are without a coat, but who may not have 14 items of clothing to choose from this week. I’m guessing when you don’t have a warm, safe place to lay your head at night, you probably travel light. My heart is heavy.
God, let there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom.
Last night I tried to follow Jen and only select seven pieces of clothing for the upcoming week. It was impossible. Between work, volunteering, and 5K training… it just could not feasibly be done. Fortunately, Jen offers alternatives. One was, Grab a small bag (like a reusable grocery store bag). Whatever fits in there, including shoes, is what you have for the week. Shut your closet door and live out of the bag. I chose this option and placed (read: compressed) as many items as I could inside. In the end, I had:
Black dress pants
White longsleeve tshirt
Black tank top
2 volunteer tshirts
Invest Hope tshirt
Tech shirt (for running)
I didn’t include any accessories except for my pearl earrings that I already had in my ears. [They seldom leave my second piercing.] I had one pair of black flats that work for dressy or casual. No coat. No hat. No scarf.
I feel confident in these choices, and I feel good about this week’s fast. I am looking forward to how this week will change my perspective, and the absence of clothing choices will draw me closer to God.
Less of me and my junk.
More of You and Your kingdom.
I made it! Day seven has come to an end. I have not only focused more on God but I have lost 5lb and have a lot more energy too. Eating pure, organic food is a really good thing. I’m making wiser choices about what I put into my body. I don’t want ice cream and cookies like before. I’d rather have a banana or some grapes. I will start eating more variety now, but I hope to remain conscious of healthier options.
Tomorrow begins week two of my fast. I’ll transition over to clothing. I’ve got another busy week, so I will have to start planning tonight to make sure I have every event covered with the appropriate articles of clothing. Should be interesting!
God, thank you for the past week. Thank you for the blessings, which include lessons learned through my imperfection. I pray that the next week will be just as (if not more) enlightening, humbling, and gracious as the past week has been. And yes…. let there be less of me and my junk, and more of You and Your kingdom.
So this morning I went to Danville, VA. It’s a little less than 2 hrs from my hometown. I drove up to watch my friend, Julie, cross the finish line of her first half-marathon. There was also a small street festival going on, which was fun. I took a couple hard boiled eggs and an apple to appease me while I walked around the River District. After the half-marathon, I decided to Yelp local restaurants and found a Subway just 2 miles away. I remember Jen describing her experiences dining out, and I felt like this was the best place for me. I ordered a 6” whole wheat sub, chicken breast, spinach, and avocado. I got apple slices as a side and a bottle of water to wash it all down. It was a success!
Or was it?
If this morning was such a success, can anyone tell me why I just screwed up? I had a complete meltdown. I stood in my kitchen just now, staring at a chicken breast. The more I looked at it, the more nauseous I became. I seriously didn’t think I could choke it down. I cried. And I prayed. And despite my attempt to push past these emotions…. I just ate a slice of left-over meatloaf (from dinner with my parents on Monday). If that wasn’t bad enough, I also had a cup of Greek yogurt for dessert.
And it was delicious. There. I said it.
Surprisingly, I didn’t feel guilty. (Should I feel guilty for not feeling guilty?) Instead, I felt God whisper in my ear “You are not perfect. You never will be. I love you as you are.”
God knows we will make mistakes, before we even make them. Yet, he is willing to forgive, forget, and love INSTANTLY. How humbling! And what an example of how we should be.
My splurge allowed me to connect with God, but also reconnect with the fact that I am covered in sinful flesh. I shouldn’t go into this fast with a “this will be easy” attitude.
Already I have said I would do more days than I’m instructed. And already God has said “No. I am in control. Follow directions.”
And already I have said I am going to do this perfectly and again God said “No. You will stumble. I will catch you.”
I hear you, God! And I know you hear me….. Let there be less of me and my junk, and more of You and Your kingdom.
I am really struggling with this fast. Not because of the food. I haven’t really been affected by the menu, and I haven’t been craving anything. It’s mainly my schedule. I start training for my next 5K on Thursday. I’m working at the fair on Wednesday. I have a business meeting after work the following week at Panera. And my dilemma? I can’t really bake or heat up sweet potatoes and chicken breasts on the go. Suddenly, I’m inconvenienced by most of these 7 foods. And maybe I am getting a bit tired of plain hard boiled eggs. (Hey… they travel well.)
Now I’m considering just sticking to the 7-day suggestion of the Bible study. I can move on to my next area of fast and hope that it will move me as much as another week of the food fast would. (I have to admit, I’m disappointed in myself. I hate when things don’t work out as I plan. But this is a nice little reminder of who is really in control. Thank you, God. Please let there be less of me and my junk, and more of You and Your kingdom.)