Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mom and Dad Celebrate

      Despite the negative circumstances, I must say that it is totally awesome to be home for the Holidays.  We haven't been able to come home for Christmas in years, so spending this time with our parents, siblings and extended family is really great!

On the 22nd of December my parents celebrated 38 years of marriage!  Certainly, they are gaining deep insight into their covenant vows to stick beside each other "in sickness and in health" this year, and we had a wonderful time celebrating all that God has done in and thru them.

My dad had a good day!  He spent the day pretty content; sleeping a good amount, but also awake and alert at different times.  We all got to take pictures together and he was engaged with us, doing his best to pose with us and look at the camera!  That was a gift from him to my mom and the rest of us!

We got out their original wedding photo and hung it up on the wall behind my dad's bed.  

Going out to dinner was out of the question, but our sister-in-law Wendy prepared a delicious dinner and we all gathered together like we do almost every night now to eat and hang out.  All the kids and grandkids were there along with my grandma and one of my aunts.  

We are so thankful for my dad. 

This is me with my sister Leslie, Rachel, my mom and my brother David
Here's my dad with all 7 of his grandkids
My brother David, my Dad and Me

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What does Salt do?

Tonight, my mom and I were taking care of my dad, and we were brushing his teeth and gums with a saline solution.  (He can no longer eat food because of his advanced sickness and thus he requires special mouth care.)   He is currently fighting a gum infection.

This set me again to reflecting on Jesus' words in Matthew chapter 5 where he calls his followers "the salt of the earth."   It's a powerful and profound word choice because salt does many things.

Tonight we were using salt to help fight infection.  My dad's gums are deteriorating from lack of use and an inability to adequately take care of his mouth.   Harmful bacteria have invaded and he is now suffering from a painfully irritating condition.  Since it's onset a few days ago, he's been constantly grinding his teeth.  (He can't talk, so I'm assuming this means that it hurts.)  And today, tragically, one of his teeth popped out!   The doctor has prescribed an antibiotic, but along with it we are using a most primitive antiseptic -salt.  Salt will help to bring healing and health to my father's mouth.  That's what salt does, and that's what Jesus followers are meant to do.

Christians are to help bring healing and health to a world infected with sin, full of suffering and tormented by pain.  

Related to this, salt is also a powerful preservative.  I learned this most impressively when we lived in Spain.  We've all heard that our forefathers used salt to keep their food fresh before modern refrigeration came along, but most of us don't do that any more.  In Spain however, one of the most popular foods is salt cured ham or Jamon Serrano.

To make this ham you take a whole pig leg and bury it in sea salt for over a week and then hang it up to dry for a few months.  Without the salt bath the meat would rot within days or even hours if it was hot outside!  A leg of ham left to itself will become a rotting, stinking, disgusting maggot infested chunk of biomass fit only for the trash.  But with salt, it's a whole different story.  Carnage gets redeemed.  The salt preserves the ham and enables it to be edible -not to mention delicious for months!

Commenting on Jesus' words here, Dietrich Bonhoeffer says:
But now Jesus calls them the salt of the earth -salt, the most indispensable necessity of life.  The disciples, that is to say, are the highest good, the supreme value which the earth possesses, for without them it cannot live.  They are the salt that sustains the earth... (The Cost of Discipleship chapter 7)

Salt brings life, salt fights death.  The preservation of the world and it's inhabitants continues as long as there is salt!   Without Christ's followers (the body of Christ!)  sharing God's love, serving, helping and blessing, the world would only be rotten sin filled carnage.  Redemption comes thru the salt, the disciples of Jesus.

And obviously, as I've already mentioned, salt makes things taste good.  Not much Jamon Serrano in the States, but we sure know about bacon!  One of the best foods ever; it's full of salt!   And bacon makes everything taste better.  (First century Jews unfortunately never got to experience this blessed gift...I love the New Covenant!)  Salt eradicates blandness, makes food enjoyable and completely improves it!  Christians are likewise supposed to make the world better by bringing the goodness and joy of Christ to life.  
Christians help to make people's lives taste better!

Jesus certainly had these things in mind when he called us the salt of earth over 2000 years ago.  I have one more thought that Jesus' desert dwelling 1st century followers could not have imagined, but is still (I think) quite applicable.

Each year the state of New York (not to mention private businesses and even home-owners) spends millions of dollars a year on salt for the purpose of road de-icing.  Without the dedicated and efficient salting of our roads life as we know it in the Northeast would be stopped by the harshness of winter.  Without salt we wouldn't be able to see the roads much less drive on them!  Our health would suffer, our economy would suffer, our fellowship would suffer!  But we travel clean beautiful roads all winter long.   Road Salt makes "the way" accessible.  Likewise, as salt  Christians proclaim Christ and enable the world to see, travel, understand -and "know" THE WAY. (John 14:6)

In short, God created salt to heal, preserve, improve, and make life accessible to the world.

Here's our friend Adam Hilker plowing snow in Ithaca. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Clip of the week; Can you lose your salvation?

Mark Driscoll does a great job explaining the way God keeps us saved!

Jesus said it in John 6:37-40

37All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”