Salt and Sandcastles

Jesus told us we are salt and light. I guess I kind of understood the light part, that seemed fairly clear and easy to understand… but the salt? I assumed that had something to do with it's flavouring properties. 
Luke 14:34-35 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.”
The soil and the manure pile? Why didn't he mention anything about food?  
I realised I needed to learn about what salt was so important for on that soil and manure pile in Jesus's time. After listening to some teaching on salt 2000 years ago, it turns out that salt was not only for flavouring food, it was also a fertiliser and a disinfectant! It was scraped up from the shores of the Dead Sea, which was very salty. It's not pure Sodium-Chloride, it was a mixture of different salts, one being Potassium-Chloride. Gardeners and fruit-growers needed fertiliser that contained Potassium Chloride, or “Pot-ash”, to develop the flowers and fruit of a plant or tree. The salt scraped up from the Dead Sea was widely used as a fertiliser because of its Pot-ash. My husband David told me that his brothers use Pot-ash to develop the persimmons on their trees!
Here's what I learned about the manure pile: in those days there were no toilets as we know them. When you needed to “do your business”, you went down to the bottom of the garden where there was a heap of dirt where you emptied your bowels, and beside the heap was a box of salt from the Dead Sea, which you put on your “pile” to disinfect it. Kinda gross… but it dealt with things you didn't want to grow: disease, bacteria etc. Wow! Salt both promoted things we wanted to grow, and prevented things from growing that we didn't want to grow! How did it do that? Just by being salt I guess.
But then, how can Sodium-Chloride lose its saltiness? Jesus said that it can, so what did he mean? Apparently, it could only lose its saltiness if it was “adulterated” with other substances… in Jesus' time, sometimes men would scrape the salt up with sand and sell it at the marketplace. Any house-wife in those days who bought adulterated salt could only throw it out on the street to be trampled underfoot. It was useless.
We live near a beach, and our kids love to go there and dig around in the sand! They love to make sandcastles and decorate them with pretty shells and sticks and leaves. Inevitably, their sandcastles get stepped on (usually by one of their brothers!), or washed away by the tide. I started thinking, as I do, about salt and sand. All that beautiful salt on the shores of the Dead Sea, lying on top of all that sand. I imagined my kids going to those shores with their beach toys. They start to scrape up the salt and the sand together, and build it into a lovely sandcastle. They decorate it with pretty objects, and we all admire it and tell them what a lovely sandcastle it is. Then, when the weather comes, it gets demolished, not because it was the weathers fault, but because it couldn't stand up to the elements. Or maybe someone comes and kicks it over, on purpose…
Then I really got thinking… are we sometimes, as Christians, busy building sandcastles when we're supposed to be being salt? Sure, the sandcastle has some salt in it, isn't that good enough? But what if the sand we're adding to the salt is rendering us… useless? What if our church buildings, big budgets, fancy sound systems, entertaining services, are becoming sand in a sandcastle that we're busy building and decorating? Maybe not always, but it seems to be a trap we can easily fall into. If the power went out, could we still worship God in spirit and in truth? 
Are we making “church” a Building or a Bubble, instead of being the Bride and the Body we were meant to be? Are we spending our time “making” instead of “being”?
I guess we can make sandcastles out of a lot of things as Christians… our homes, our churches, our lifestyles, our kids' education and success, our politics, our social justice causes, our careers. Things that are good, but if it's not all salty, can turn sandy. Or maybe we're not really building anything… but we're just mixing sand in with our salt. Sometimes I realise I have just the same worries, the same reactions, the same attitudes, the same habits, the same ambitions, the same hang-ups, as people living without Christ. It's so easy to start mixing the sand from the world into our lives, and before we know it, we've lost the power, love and holiness of the salt that Jesus told us we were to be in a dirty world. We've compromised, and then, we're useless… both as a fertiliser and as a disinfectant. 
But hey, there's still some salt in our sandcastle, right? Isn't that enough? Lots of people admire it and I'm happy building it… that's ok, right?
Then one day… the weather comes. Jesus said it would in the parable of the foolish man who built his house on the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). Trials come, suffering comes, temptation comes, and the sandcastle collapses. The sand is exposed for what it really is. Or maybe… someone comes and kicks our sandcastle over, on purpose… 
I know someone who has kicked some sandcastles in my life… his name is Jesus. Sometimes he has used my husband, sometimes a friend, sometimes even a stranger. He kicked them while they were still small, thank goodness! I hadn't had much time to decorate them yet! I was mad at him at the time… but then he reminded me that this sandcastle-building was getting in the way of what he really wanted me to do… just “be” salt. 
Please Jesus, keep kicking my sandcastles, and please kick them while they're still small…

Psalm 127:1 “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.   

Look Up

Sue’s Views
There is so much clamouring for our attention ….. political debates ….. Covid updates ….. education ….. economy ….. and a million other ‘cares’. It’s no wonder we sometimes feel overwhelmed. Our minds are constantly on overload. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees! But each one of those ‘trees’ is subject to God their creator. He is above the forest of confusion and anxiety. My advice to you today is to look up. Instead of focussing on all the issues ….. lift your eyes to the One who is really in control ….. and whose perspective really matters.

Don’t Give Up

Sue’s Views
Spring is here! After a long winter ….. these pretty blossoms symbolise hope. Hope for a new season ….. hope for better days ….. hope for a brighter future. The trees that looked so barren are now bursting with life. Even when nothing appears to be happening ….. a lot is going on within the branches. Our most unproductive times are often the ones that eventually bring forth much fruit. Don’t give up!

The Return

Sue’s Views
Yesterday was a hugely significant day in history. It was Yom Kippur ….. a day in the Hebrew calendar set aside for the forgiveness of sins. It’s also known as The Day of Atonement. The sins of the nation of Israel were transferred to a goat called the scapegoat which was then taken to a remote place signifying the removal of their sins. Centuries later Jesus Christ became our Scapegoat ….. and carried our sins to the Cross once and for all. In Washington DC ….. a mass gathering took place yesterday called ‘The Return’. It was a day of repentance for the sins of the nation. God is calling His Church to repent. Not only in America but all over the world. The world is in a mess because we have turned away from God and His ways. It’s time to return!


Sue’s Views
Are you getting enough rest? In our busy world ….. it’s not easy to switch off and do nothing. God rested on the seventh day. What makes us think we don’t need to? Ps 23 says ‘The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures’. Does He have to make you rest? Rest isn’t just about sleeping. It’s about giving your mind as well as your body a break. Out of the word ‘rest’ comes the word ‘restoration’. Just like a computer needs to be refreshed every so often ….. so our brains need to clean out all the information stored there. For you ….. it may mean going for a walk. It may mean lying horizontal for half an hour. It may mean going to bed earlier. It has been proven that the hours of rest before midnight are more restorative than the hours after midnight. That reminds me! It’s daylight saving this Saturday night!

We Walk by Faith

Sue’s Views
As human beings ….. we have a fascination with what the future holds. From horoscopes ….. to fortune tellers ….. to tarot cards ….. many turn to these methods to answer their questions. ‘Will I get married?’ ….. ‘Will I be successful?’ ….. ‘Where will I live?’ These may seem harmless but they are in fact doorways to a deeper darkness that will take you places you don’t want to go! There is only one person who knows the future because every day of your life is written in His book. We are to walk by faith in God ….. not by what we see. He will reveal each step as we go. As has often been said ….. we don’t know what the future holds ….. but we do know who holds the future!

The Little Things

Sue’s Views
One advantage about going through a crisis is that it changes your perspective. You become more appreciative of the little things ….. things you may have overlooked before. A phone call or a text that may previously be seen as an interruption ….. now becomes a highlight of your day. The flowers you drive past every day suddenly make you stop and wonder at the beauty and craftsmanship of creation. These pansies always make me smile! It’s the simple things that make life so wonderful!

True North

Sue’s Views
Are you feeling like your world has been turned upside down? With phrases like ‘unprecedented times’ and ‘new normal’ ….. it’s easy to think that life is out of control. That no one knows what’s really happening ….. or how to fix it. Driving home from work last night ….. I had one of those ‘God moments’! It wasn’t so much an audible voice ….. but more of a ‘knowing’! An absolute assurance that God’s timetable is right on target. It hasn’t been put on hold ….. or diverted in any way. Just as a compass aligns us with true north ….. we need to be aligned to the only One who is in control. Then things will start to make sense!


Sue’s Views
Who do you look up to?  We need leaders who are strong but who can identify with those they lead. Leaders who are not out for personal gain ….. but to influence and change things for the better for all concerned. Most of all ….. they must be people of integrity. People who do what they say ….. and say what they mean. When God chose a king ….. He looked not at the outward appearance but at the heart. With elections coming up ….. let’s do the same!


Sue’s Views
One of the most challenging verses in the Bible says ‘Life and death are in the power of the tongue’. The tongue is one of the smallest parts of the body ….. but it is one of the most powerful! Words have tremendous power. They can build up ….. or tear down. They can share truth ….. or spread lies. They can label someone for life ….. or give them something to live up to. Once spoken ….. they cannot be taken back. Let’s choose carefully before we speak and think about the consequences of our words.