Salt Of The Earth
by: Gregory Kirk
Jesus said, You are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13 NIV).
“Salt” is a noun describing a chemical substance that acts upon its environment to change it.
“Inert” by contrast, is an adjective describing any sluggish substance devoid of active properties. In other words, an “inert” object just sits there.
If we are in fact the salt of the earth, how are we to be characterized:
1. Salt is small. Unimpressive. Unnoticed.
During a dining experience, food is the focus of the meal, rather than the salt. While salt enhances the food’s flavor, it goes quite unnoticed. Similarly, the true disciple of Christ usually receives little recognition in a world whose values lie in the opposite direction.
2. Salt can have a powerful influence on changing its environment.
Salt, when rightly applied to food can transform it from unappealing blandness into a delectable gourmet experience. Thus, Christians, by virtue of their presence, can and should permanently change their world.
3. Salt is associated with purity.
A product of the sun and sea, salt’s glistening whiteness suggests the quality of purity. Thus believers, if they are to be the salt of the earth, must exemplify a standard of absolute purity in thought, conduct, and speech.
4. Salt is a preservative.
In the days before refrigeration, salt was used as a preservative on meat to delay decay. So today, the process of putrefaction (process of decay and rotting) in society can at least be slowed by the presence of Christ’s followers.
5. Salt has the potential of losing its flavor or usefulness.
When diluted, Christians, like salt, are of little consequence, except to be thrown out and trampled by men (Matthew 5:13 NIV).
So the big question is: “How do your lost acquaintances view you? As the ‘salt’ of the earth, or as an ‘inert’ object?”
Gregory Kirk resides in Ellsinore, MO. He currently serves as Pastor/Executive Direction of the United Gospel Rescue Mission and Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Poplar Bluff, MO. The UGRM offers a Transformed Life one-year residential program for men who are seeking change. The Mission also serves a public meal daily at noon. Gregory has been married to his beautiful wife, Pamela for forty years. He is the father of three and grandfather of twelve. He holds a BA Th from Fairhaven Baptist College, MA Pastoral Clinical Counseling from Jacksonville Theological Seminary and MA Christian Resources From Union University, Jackson, TN. He is currently a D.Ed.Min candidate at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Greg has been in ministry for thirty years serving as Youth Pastor, Asst. Pastor and Senior Pastor of churches in Pennsylvania, California and Missouri. Greg is a Registered Alcohol and Drug Counselor (RADC) and Medically Assisted Treatment Specialist (MATS) for the State of MO.
*Image by analogicus from Pixabay
For Parents of a Prodigal: Hope through the Pain
by Dr. Mark Shaw
Apart from the death of a child, one of the deepest hurts a Christian parent can experience is that of having what is often called a “prodigal child.” In Luke 15:11-13, Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son – the younger one — who exhibits a rebellious and hurtful attitude toward his parent:
And he [Jesus] said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.
Interpreting these verses in their historical context, John MacArthur explains that this younger son is essentially saying, “I wish you were dead, Dad, so I could spend my inheritance.” What a painful event for any parent to experience! Then, to add insult to injury, the son gathers everything his father gives him and moves as far away from the father as possible. It is easy to imagine the father’s rejection, hurt, disappointment, grief of the loss of relationship, sadness, anger, and all kinds of other emotions, all mixed together.
Modern Day Prodigals and Their Parents
For Christians, the child who walks away from the faith of his or her parents is no less agonizing. In fact, it is often a pain that is never completely alleviated until the child truly repents. Rebellion manifests as a product of a hard heart toward God and a heart that wants to pursue what is right in the child’s own eyes. Today’s prodigal child can easily be drawn away by his own lusts into a world of new age thinking, secular humanism, sins of an addictive nature, sexual sin, and many more. All of these enticements demonstrate a direct rejection of the parents’ values and ultimately a rejection of God’s biblical truths.
Some Christian parents I have counseled have been confused because of erroneous thinking. They incorrectly believed that because they raised the child in a godly home with the Scriptures taught and the Holy Spirit present in their own lives, they were somehow guaranteed to see the fruit of repentance and eternal life in their offspring. I have heard a Christian parent verbalize past sinful erroneous thinking this way: “My children will be raised in a God-fearing home that I never had as a child and that will ultimately be what saves them.”
Correct theology helps Christian parents anchor their soul in the truth that only God by His Spirit rescues the sinning soul and that no formula exists to guarantee that someone will be saved by Christ. Our hope must be in Christ alone, not in what He is going to do with our child’s soul. A parent’s thinking must become similar to the lyrics written by the music group, MercyMe, whose song Even If says:
I know You’re able and I know you can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if you don’t,
My Hope is You alone.
On the other extreme, some Christian parents sink into despair with inaccurate thinking that they must have done something wrong and pushed the child away from Christ by their own sin. Again, correct theological thinking assures us that all children are born with a sinful nature and are in need of God’s saving grace (Rom. 3:23, 6:23). While some parents can be overly critical or poor examples to follow, the reality is that the children in these homes will still need a Savior. Yes, being critical impacts a child’s thinking (and yes, parents are responsible for repenting of their own sin before God and others), but no parent can “push a child further away from God” because children are born in sin as far away from God as is humanly possible until they are born again (John 3:3, 16-18).
Parents sin. Children sin. We all need God’s amazing grace. Parents should do their best to parent biblically, while confessing their sins and failures in parenting both to God and to their children. However, parents need to recognize that salvation of a child’s soul ultimately is determined by God and the child. Poor parenting fails to glorify God when left alone without the repentance of the parents, but it doesn’t negate God’s ability to save a child. Excellent biblical parenting skills glorify God if executed for the glory of God, but still don’t guarantee a child will be saved eternally. God is sovereign over the salvation of every soul. A parenting experience with a prodigal is a stark and painful reminder of this truth, but it is good for us to know God’s grace in a deeper way.
Resources to Help during Difficult Times
Fortunately, there’s a plethora of practical biblical help available for parents of prodigals. Shirley Elliott’s new book, From Heartbroken to Hopeful: Gospel Hope for Parents of Prodigals, encourages parents to turn their focus upon trusting who God is during a painful parenting trial. Pastor Brad Bigney, who writes the foreword in Elliott’s book, has a sermon series called “Hope + Help for Hurting Parents” that he began preaching on July 20, 2008 (search for it at graceky.org/sermons/ if the direct link above is not available). Biblical counselors may find that these resources can be given as biblical counseling homework assignments along with writing down truths gleaned from them as they listen or read.
Another group of resources to be released in June of 2018 is an entire conference of material that will be dedicated to helping those with prodigals. The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship (IBCD) is the host of the 2018 Summer Institute, which is entitled “Loving Wayward Souls: Grace for Our Prodigals.” This conference will help parents learn how to become more Christ-like in their thinking and how to solicit the prayers and help of the body of Christ.
Parenting a prodigal son or daughter is very difficult. I caution you not to attempt to go through it alone. Seek out biblical resources. In fact, the BCC website has a search bar at the top of the page where you may simply type in the word “parenting” for many sound and encouraging resources.
I counsel parents of prodigals to never give up hope for true repentance as long as they are alive. Ask the Lord to send messengers of the gospel across the path of your prodigal and to enliven the heart of the prodigal by His Spirit. Each situation is different, so gospel-oriented, biblical counsel is a valuable necessity for parents of a prodigal child. Find a biblical counselor to walk with you and point you to Christ and His Word as an anchor for your soul (Hebrews 6:19).
Questions for Reflection
How can you encourage someone to grow during a difficult time? What Scriptures provide a balance of truth and grace during times of suffering?
Tweet: Today’s prodigal child can easily be drawn away by his own lusts into a world of new age thinking, secular humanism, sins of an addictive nature, sexual sin, and many more. -Mark Shaw https://ctt.ec/UHjg8+ #Parenting
TAC Staff Note: This article was originally published at BiblicalCounselingCoalition.org on November 15, 2017. View the original post here.
About Mark Shaw
Mark E. Shaw (D. Min.) is President and Founder of Truth in Love Ministries and The Addiction Connection. He resides in Florence, KY, with his wife and children. The author of 20 publications including The Heart of Addiction, Addiction-Proof Parenting, and Divine Intervention: Hope and Help for Families of Addicts, Mark enjoys speaking, training, and traveling for the purpose of encouraging and edifying local churches in their outreach to hurting souls.
Top Image: (c) Can Stock Photo / photography33
Don’t Just Settle for Sobriety – PART 2
Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
by Bill Hines
In Part 1 of this blog it is my hope that I made the point that sobriety, either from a substance (alcohol, other drugs) or an activity (i.e., gambling, pornography, cutting) is not the goal of the command, “don’t get drunk.” The goal of the passage in Ephesians 1:15-21 is that followers of Christ would be filled with the Spirit rather than controlled by something else.
Regarding the word filled The NKJV Study Bible points out: “The tense of the Greek word translated filled indicates that filling is a moment-by-moment, repeatable action. It is something Paul commands the believers at Ephesus to do.”
It is interesting that the repeatable activity for the believer is to be filled with the Spirit moment by moment. Just as someone would have to continually drink an alcoholic substance to “stay” drunk, so followers of Christ are to continually “drink in” or be filled with the Holy Spirit to stay filled. The result of being filled with the Holy Spirit includes a heart full of singing songs to and about our God who is faithful. We must be prepared, however, that sometimes being filled with the Holy Spirit in service to the Lord is not associated with upbeat or happy feelings. Sometimes our most profound works of service happen when we are worn out, tired and even persecuted as were the Disciples.
How Are We to Stay Filled with the Holy Spirit?
I won’t take the time here to give a complete answer to this question but I offer the following as those elements in the life of the Believer that must be present in order to grow into a mature follower of Christ and when entered into by faith will aid in this calling of following Him and being filled with the Spirit.
We must start by affirming that being filled with the Holy Spirit is something only a Christian can experience and only an active follower of Christ can experience in increasing measure (see Romans 12:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 2:10-16).
The following broad categories are seen in Scripture in various ways. Some have tried to express that all followers of Christ must do these things in particular ways such as all study of the Scripture must be done in the morning. What is important is that these things are a consistent part of our lives on an ongoing basis. To use our earlier example, just as one would have to drink in wine on a regular basis a follower of Christ must “drink in” the Holy Spirit regularly to be filled with Him.
In order to be filled with the Spirit I suggest the following must be engaged in by faith:
Consistently offer praise and worship to the Lord both privately and corporately (Psalm 150; Hebrews 13:15; Revelation 5:13). God is always there with us. Saying a simple thank you to Him at any time or offering a brief testimony to another person of what He has done for you today are ways to praise Him. When one recipient of demonic deliverance wanted to stay with Jesus he was told to go home and tell of the wonderful things God has done for you (Mark 5:18-20).
Study the Word of God which will make you wise in the things of God (Psalm 19; Psalm 119; 2 Timothy 3:14-16; 2 Peter 1:2-3). As valuable as devotional books can be, we must also learn to study God’s Word by using scriptural helps like a Bible Dictionary or word study tools or a good work of Systematic Theology. Most important is learning how to study the Word in a systematic way through
- Observation (what does the passage say).
- Interpretation (what does it mean).
- Application, what does the passage have to say to me today.
- Correlation, how does it relate to other parts of the Bible.
Be involved in meaningful relationships with other believers (Hebrews 10:23-25; James 5:13-16; Romans 12:10-13, 15:1-6, 14; Galatians 6:1-2). This includes discussing the Bible, works of service, accountability with mature Christ followers, using the gifts the Holy Spirit has given you to minister to others. This is part of fellowship as well as the next section.
Become involved in ministry to others (Matthew 20:26; Ephesians 4:11-13). Use the gifts the Holy Spirit has given you to minister to others (Romans 12:4-8). We are called to use the gifts of teaching and evangelism (for example) with friends and family. We can exercise any of the gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8 ; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ; Ephesians 4:11-16 (see the context in each case) yet I agree with many teachers that the Spirit gifts each Believer in special ways bringing the gifts and the skills and experience of the person to bear in ministry to others.
Be certain that you are involved in a meaningful Church relationship. At the minimum this should be a Body where the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed, the sacraments are faithfully administered, and Church discipline is taken seriously (Hebrews 10:23-25; Matthew 18:15-20). In this day of live streaming and recordings we must be careful to not neglect our gathering together (Hebrews 10:23-25). The reason for this is that what is taught is to be shared. If we only listen in private to preaching and singing, we lose the connectedness that we are to enjoy with other Believers.
The calling on the life of a Christ follower is to glorify God by walking with Him as a growing Christian who loves Him with all they are and loves others as themselves (Mark 12:29-31). Staying free of those substances and activities that hold us as captives to this fallen world is only a work of the flesh if it is not replaced with a life of faithful love for God which is evidenced in obedience to our God who saves.
 Nelson, Thomas. NKJV Study Bible, Full-Color, eBook. Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
Click to Tweet: … sometimes being filled with the Holy Spirit in service to the Lord is not associated with upbeat or happy feelings. Sometimes our most profound works of service happen when we are worn out, tired and even persecuted as were the Disciples. – Bill Hines #Biblicalhelp</a
Click here for: Don’t Just Settle for Sobriety – PART 1
Bill Hines is the president of Covenant Ministries, a biblical counseling, education and Christian discipleship ministry in Ft. Worth, Texas. He is the author of Leaving Yesterday Behind and Curing the Heart: A Model for Biblical Counseling (with Dr. Howard Eyrich). He co-authored The Pursuit of Perfection with Dr. Mark Shaw. He edited Paul the Counselor: Counseling and Disciple-making Modeled by the Apostle Paul and is a contributing author of three of the chapters.
Covenant Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 121235
Fort Worth, TX 76121-1235