Pastor’s Devotions #120

“Salt”

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6
 

In the morning, after brushing my teeth, feeding Tigger and starting the coffee, I then go to my pantry. I reach for the container of “mixed nuts” from Costco, grab a handful, and munch them down to kickstart my digestion. I always buy the “unsalted” nuts because it’s been drummed into me that too much salt is not good for you. Not too long ago, I was given a similar container of nuts from a friend who knows my love of nuts – I know, I’m kind of a nutty guy! The morning that I grabbed a handful from the new container, I couldn’t believe how delicious they tasted. My mouth exploded with flavor. As I looked at the container, then I discovered the difference. These mixed nuts were the “salted” variety.

In St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he calls his fellow believers to, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Salt, in the right dose, brings out wonderful flavors in our food. It is interesting that Paul would use this word picture related to our words and conversations.

Words have great power. Words have power to hurt. And words have power to heal. James 3:9 states, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse humankind, who have been made in God’s likeness.” Regularly, we hear, read and listen to words that have been spoken as a soothing balm yet also spoken as a toxic poison.

Paul says that the things he wants to do, he’s not able to do, and the things he doesn’t want to do, that’s what he ends up doing. As human beings, we all are sitting in the same boat. We all want to speak gracious, loving words but many times something happens between desire and delivery.

What if we started each morning with God’s gracious Word to us? What if we grabbed a handful of God’s promises, seasoned with the right amount of salt, to kickstart our direction. God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet, a light for our path, and a much-needed explosion of flavor for our soul.

Consider this gracious Word of God to you: “IN LOVE, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. IN HIM we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And HE MADE KNOWN TO YOU the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ Jesus, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:5-10)

May God’s seasoned Word, flavor your conversations with others.

God Bless You All!
Pastor Mark



Pastor Mark’s Devotions #103

“Flyby”

“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:28

This past Thursday, Asteroid 2020 SW flew by planet earth at a distance of approximately 17, 556 miles. According to the Virtual Telescope Project, when an asteroid does a flyby from a distance less than 20,000 miles, it is considered an “extreme close encounter”. This asteroid was first discovered on September 18th by the Mt. Lemmon Observatory in Arizona, but it has been doing regular planet earth flybys since 1975. The size of this asteroid is estimated to be about 14 to 32 feet in diameter. According to NASA, potentially hazardous “NEO’s” (Near Earth Objects) are defined as space objects that come within 0.05 astronomical units (4.6 million miles) and are more than 460 feet in diameter. It is estimated that there are more than 18,000 NEO’s doing systematic flybys. Considering a wake-up call is given for any object 4 million miles away – and we just had a flyby 0.00381652 of that distance – it gives me pause to ponder and reflect. What do you think? It is better to be oblivious of the event or to be made aware?

As I continued reading about this NEO, I found out that there happened to be another asteroid that flew by our planet in August. It was the size of a pick-up truck and it flew by 0.00043478 of that red flagged distance from earth. For you earthlings, that translates to 2,000 miles. Yes, we had a Dodge Ram 4×4 asteroid that flew by our planet, separated by roughly the distance between Seattle to Detroit, Michigan. In space terms, it missed us by less than the hair on my chinny, chin, chin. The most interesting thing about this news, is that the F-150 Crew Cab 4×4 long bed rock was not picked up until it actually passed by us. Huh? Yes, NASA happened to look in their rearview mirror and saw a rock moving faster than a speeding bullet away from us. I guess they missed that one! It makes me wonder a bit about how many other rocks we might be missing. Granted, they are searching a pretty massive starry sky. And honestly, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it, but it makes for a good wire on which to hang a devotion.

Consider this; what if an 18-wheel Kenworth triple trailer truck with additional sleeping quarters came in on a collision course with earth? That could be a bit troubling. Give or take a few mega tons of explosive power, a Tyrannosaurus Rex could probably tell us something about that – but with his pea sized brain, he probably could not have appreciated the magnitude of the moment or the breadth of its consequences. Now, let’s just keep this conversation under our breath and down to a whisper, as we are still grinding out the miles of this malevolent year, 2020. 

But a month ago, each of us rose from our beds, made coffee, checked our emails, stopped at the gas station – keeping distance – and made our way down some familiar road – with masks on – all the while, unbeknownst to us, a missile from outer space, missed us by an astronomical unit barely the thickness of a string of hair, and everyone – literally everyone, on earth was absolutely clueless!

2,000 YEARS ago (a unit of TIME that is barely measurable in astronomical terms- perhaps comparable to the blink of an eye) Jesus was intent on making his followers aware of another collision. He was basically the only one on the planet in the know. He said that something was on its way that would strike our planet, and cause such a cataclysmic event, it will re-order everything as we know it. The timing is uncertain, but its inevitability is without question. He wanted everyone clued in. The news probably sounded like Greek to all who heard the message, but interestingly enough, its meaning can be found rooted in Greek language. The Greek word is, “palingenesis”. No, this does not refer to Sarah Palin reading the first book of the Bible. But the word, “genesis” does point the way. The word points to a new “beginning”. The word means “regeneration”, “renewal”, “restoration” and “renovation”. This categorical reorienting of space and time will explode upon the scene for all to see, and no one will miss. This event will not be a benign flyby, nor a near miss, marked by deep breaths and ringing of hands. All people will be made aware, all nations will be pulled together, and all hearts will be called forward. Jesus will return in power and glory. Not all will be ready but all will see him clearly.

Listen to Jesus as he describes this cataclysmic moment recorded in Luke chapter 21:

               “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke21:25-28)

Rather than worry, Jesus has revealed this coming event in order that all people would be ready! How does one get ready for a cataclysmic event that will change space and time? As a jailer cried out to Paul and Silas, in a Philippian prison during a seismic event that left ground shaking and hearts quaking  – he cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul responded, “Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you will be saved – you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)

Paul pointed to the Rock that would save the world, not destroy it. He pointed to the One, outside our universe who entered our broken world, in order that our reality would experience a “re – genesis”. He pointed to the One who will make all things new – heart and soul – time and space – You and Me!

This is too Good of News to let flyby. Lift up your heads. Your redemption is drawing near!

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Mark