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The gift of saltiness by Jennifer Elwood

Guest post with author of Counting up to Christmas: The gift of our True Father

 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” – Luke 14:34, ESV. #CountinguptoChristmas #Jenniferelwood Click To Tweet

Have tantalizing aromas been trailing from your oven this year? When the world shut down last March, we rummaged through the pantry for ingredients and spent lots of meaningful time in the kitchen together. Did you bake too? When I look back, it seems baking became the official pastime of 2020.

As a family, we are practiced up for the upcoming holiday season.

The tasty morsels we create to celebrate holidays delight our tastebuds. Christmas doesn’t feel the same without them. Our family enjoys baking Christmas treats to bless our neighbors. We pack up the yummies in festive boxes and visit the people who live nearby. Our family lives up a hill in the middle of a pasture. It helps to bridge the gap between us and our neighbors when we deliver gifts to share around tables. I’m not sure what we will do this year, but we will continue some version of our tradition.

 As I wrote my new book, Counting Up To Christmas: 24 Gifts from the Gospel of Luke, I discovered that Jesus appreciated a good meal shared at a table too. Throughout the Gospel of Luke, we encounter Jesus during eight… Click To Tweet

Saltiness is a gift from Scripture that opens when we read Luke 14. At the time Jesus uttered Luke 14:34, His audience had an intense understanding that salt represented their covenant with the Lord, which initiated when their ancestors left slavery behind in Egypt.

To further open this gift, let’s examine how this covenant originally tasted:

            “You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.” – Leviticus 2:13, ESV

Salt, a preservative, symbolized permanence. In antiquity, this represented the binding, unchanging character of a covenant. Historically, these grain offerings, in the form of unleavened bread, sustained the Israelites during the first Passover. This flat, salted bread provided the energy needed to flee Egyptian captivity and cross the parted Red Sea towards the Promised Land of Israel. Imagine the leftover sensation of salt lingering in the mouths of the fleeing Israelites, reminding them of God’s presence and promise as they escaped enslavement.

As believers, we continue to represent the covenant of salt because we are the salt of the earth! (Matthew 5:13) We are a gift of seasoning, bringing intensified flavor to the world. #guestpost #Jenniferelwood Click To Tweet

Believers should be characterized by the taste experience of a particular kind of salt—freshly smoked. The flavor of this salt is unusual and has a particularly exhilarating taste. Its flavor lingers uniquely, perhaps because it is unusual when compared to table salt.

I want to represent saltiness to those around me, particularly as we approach a more-challenging-than-usual Christmas season. I pray the Lord will use us to season others in a way that is uncommon and lingering. Let’s be the salt and sprinkle others with deliciously flavored words that point to the best spiritual meal ever—Jesus, the Bread of Life. (Luke 14:34, Mark 9:50)

Prayer:

We praise You, God, for reflecting Yourself in creation, even in something as simple as salt. Thank You for extending Your covenant of salt to us as believers. We pray that we would be intensely savory salt to those around us. Please help us to constantly point others to our main spiritual course: Jesus. Amen.

It is my honor to invite you to Count Up To Christmas in the Gospel of Luke with my new book and a fun, encouraging on-line community. Here are the links you need.

And, I’ll finish off this post with a recipe for smoked salt. If you are looking for an encouraging, unique gift, fire up the BBQ and make sure to smoke enough for yourself as well! (It really is delicious.)

To purchase the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Counting-Up-Christmas-Gifts-Gospel/dp/1735791008/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3V235X1ZLRRRS&dchild=1&keywords=counting+up+to+christmas&qid=1604767964&sprefix=counting+up+to%2Caps%2C314&sr=8-2

Freebies for the book, including the complete Counting Up To Christmas Recipe Book subscriber benefit, at: http://www.jenniferelwood.com

You can read my devotional review https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55837451-counting-up-to-christmas" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px">"Countinghttps://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1604351221l/55837451._SX98_.jpg" />https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55837451-counting-up-to-christmas">Counting up to Christmas: 24 Gifts from the Gospel of Lukehttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20856148.Jennifer_Elwood">Jennifer Elwoodhttps://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3649332589">5 of 5 starshttps://www.goodreads.com/review/list/100w all my reviewshere

Counting Up To Christmas FB group:

Counting Up To Christmas on Instagram:

An online shop with “true peace” gift items: https://wood-knox.myshopify.com/search?q=Luke

To read more about Counting up to Christmas on Jennifer’s blog, click here

A Recipe for Smoked Salt

Ingredients:

Salt (I prefer pink Himalayan because it is such a beautiful color)

Wood chips (The best flavor comes from Applewood)

Equipment:

A foil pan

A few sheets of tin foil

A charcoal grill

  1. Choose your salt. Pink Himalayan, Kosher, and Maldon salts are types I have tried. Maldon salt is flaky and resulted in some pretty flavorful salt. Consider that any salt you take the time to smoke will be delicious. If you plan to give some away as Christmas gifts, pink salt is quite lovely.
  2. Choose your wood chips. When I gleaned information about the best type of wood chips on the internet, there seemed to be a consensus that apple wood made the most delicious salt. The first time, we used cedar chips, and the second time we used mixed wood pellets. The cedar chips made a nice flavor. The pellets were fine, but the cedar chips were better. Next time, I will definitely try apple wood!
  3. Place each salt variety you have in small, open foil packets. Fire up your charcoal grill with the wood chips to at least 350. Place the salt packets inside and leave them 1-2 hours, stirring now and then.
  4. When you’re done, let it cool and keep it in a sealed container close to where you cook and serve food. You will enjoy the unique flavor for many meals to come!

About the author

Jennifer Elwood resides in Yakima, Washington. She is a lover of Jesus, wife of Tom, mom of three, and bonus mom and grandma of many. She enjoys rich coffee, European chocolate, and the color orange. Going to Israel for the first time in 2015 sparked her desire to write and she has not stopped since. Counting Up to Christmas: Twenty-Four Gifts from the Gospel of Luke is her first book. Stay up to date with her, download freebies, and receive the recipe book that accompanies Counting Up To Christmas, at www.jenniferelwood.com.

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Doing our calling

Guest post from ShameRX at Denise Dubois Pass blog, click here to read the full blog

Doing Our Calling

Doing our calling is a chance to cultivate our partnership with God and experience his faithfulness in the process.

Shame Rx:

God cares more about our obedience in the process than results.

Scripture:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord,  your God will be with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9

Doing Our Calling—Obedience

I woke up late and realized I was behind again. Oh, why does doing what you love to do have to be so hard? God cares more about our obedience than what we produce. Even so, it can be hard to continue in our calling.

But as we begin to embrace the beauty of the process of our calling, we start to learn how God celebrates our progress. When we choose to rest in His sufficiency, we realize His strength becomes manifest in the process. Click To Tweet

As well as speaking quiet assurance and encouragement to move us forward step by step.

Doing Our Calling—Overcoming Shame

Ultimately, there is no cause for shame in starting small. As we enter into a partnership with God, God’s word helps to fuel passion for the calling on our lives. Click To Tweet

Nonetheless, if we do not embrace this process, we will feel unfulfilled and not be as fruitful as God desires for our lives.

To continue reading click here https://denisepass.com/doing-our-calling/

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Fluid love

As I closely observed my colors of paint on my art canvas, I began to notice the resistance in the movement of the textures.

As I tried a few techniques to no avail, I began to feel despondent in my ability to create. The process did not start seamlessly; it was rather cumbersome, messy, and disappointing. As I exhaled, I released the need to create perfection.

Faith can quench fears, and as I relished a tide of faith, I began to cross a threshold of my self-perceived limits. I embraced the confidence to proceed, and as I yielded to the process, patience and the wonder began to enchant… Click To Tweet The process is not always desirable, to say the least, yet therein lies the ability to find the sacred in the silence and grace laced in wonder. Click To Tweet

As my eyes opened to the nuances of the tedious process, I began to behold a new view. This longer path requires one to press in can lead to a cascade of fluidity, breaking all confinements allowing creativity to burst forth.

Entirely independent colors began to flow in oneness to create a visual symphony of divine grace before my very eyes.

In this journey, where doubts may collide with the whispers of promise, let your tender surrender allow fluid love to paint the canvas of your life with a new beginning. Click To Tweet

When grace is laced in the process, only fluid love remains.

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Discovering our calling

Guest post at ShameRX with Denise Pass Dubois

Check out today’s guest blog, where Denise and I talk about developing our calling while being free from shame.

Here is an excerpt:

Discovering Our Calling

Discovering our calling is rooted in finding the unique identities that were predestined for us in Christ.

Shame Rx:

Discovering our calling is about learning to celebrate progress over perfection. 

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (ESV)

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”

Developing Our Calling

 Investing and developing our gifts is not self-focused, it is demonstrating the generosity of God’s goodness. #ShameRx @TheDenisePass @ShelleySinghAuD Click To Tweet

God is delighted when we begin to discover our identity and gifts as a Father delights in a child. Discovery is not shameful; it is a method of celebration!

A path is full of sights to see and beauty to relish. Our way to discovering our callings may not be a straight path or even one that makes sense. Condemnation may tell us that it is selfish to seek out your calling, but it is not true. Seeking out and discovering your calling will only help you release a fragrance of Christ in a thirsty world. Finding and developing a calling is a path of sacrifice done out of love for others for to give our gifts to others bless our Father’s heart.

To read the rest of the post go here

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Enigma of grace

I heard a voice beckon me to explore the enigma of grace. In a world where bigger is better, standing alone isn’t the norm. Yet, where there is solitude, there is space to inhale grace and let its intimate aroma infuse your soul. Click To Tweet

Valiantly taking your stance is courageous, for creating a legacy takes sacrifice and substance. Through grace, the rugged terrain of my heart has become adorned with the wildflowers of surrender and miraculous manifestation.

Hope watered the barren places, creating an apothecary of healing waters. In the winding roads of my heart, the allure of a mysterious victory exists where tragedy becomes a triumph. For amidst the struggle, a curious abundance remains.

Grace isn’t a mirage but as near as my next breath, declaring its reassuring presence with the rise and fall of my chest. Even in the valley of trouble, a door can open where hope is the key to the enigma of grace. Click To Tweet

Copyright © 2020 Shelley Singh

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Shame and racism

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining author and speaker, Denise Dubois Pass on the black and white podcast, for a candid conversation on shame and racism, you can listen to our discussion here.

Listen in as they discuss racism across different cultures in both biblical times and the present and share ways we see shame operating in our culture.

We discuss the parable of the Samaritan and reflect on how Christ desires to heal the shame of racism.

Takeaways:

As believers in Christ, we can choose to validate a person's experience with racism with grace and empathy. Click To Tweet

Racism brings shame while grace is intentional about restoring identity.

Ignorance and racism are not the same issues. Education and awareness can help heal racism because as we adopt a grace filled mindset, grace empower us to grow and think in a new way.

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Light like a lily pad

As I look at this picture I took years ago, I reflect on the loveliness of intricate design.

The lifespan of these beauties depends upon water levels and the strength of each plants’ root system.

To thrive like lily pads, our root system matters too.

We need to be deeply rooted in healthy relationships and the grace of God to withstand the harsh winds of life.

Buoyancy is the tendency to float in water and as we dip our souls in mercy, grace ignites a renewed sense of lightness where hope becomes the anchor of our souls. Click To Tweet

Be rooted and grounded in love. -Ephesians 3:17

May your heart and soul feel the light of compassion today and may grace renew the countenance of your being. Click To Tweet
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The Way Home by Tessa Afshar

The Way Home Bible study: God’s invitation to New Beginnings by Tessa Afshar

Tessa Afshar’s new study, The Way Home is based on the book of Ruth. This six week study brings the book to life in a revelatory way, weaving the cultural backdrop and highlighting the spiritual progress of each character. You will come to adore and understand the familiar actors as you navigate their struggles and victories.

Naomi and Ruth experience a profound sense of hopelessness that comes from deep loss. However,  the state of Israel at the time of the book of judges, which immediately precedes the book of Ruth, was one of utter despair and political upheaval.

The book of Ruth is about new beginnings. Despite Ruth and Naomi’s ethnic differences between Gentile and Jew, the stark evidence of God’s love and hand is tenderly visible. The heart of God for reconciliation between Jew and Gentile is highly apparent.

The study starts with the backdrop of famine, emphasizing the lack and emptiness present in Ruth, recently widowed and Naomi’s lives.

Ruth chose to have the courage to move into an unfamiliar land and allowed courage to be the gateway for new beginnings for her and Naomi.#thewayhome #tessaafshar #newbeginnings Click To Tweet

Ruth’s decision to operate out of hope and love demonstrates the power of personal choice. Her loving actions bring the same blessing of a new beginning to Naomi, her mother-in-law, and to Boaz, whom she marries after moving to Jerusalem with Naomi.

Tragedy does not exempt us from making responsible decisions. And decisions can lead to a glorious destiny orchestrated by divine love if we like Ruth, place our trust in God's hands. Click To Tweet

In the words of Tessa, “It is possible to persevere even when pain robs us of breath.”

God meets us where we are, in our lack, in our loneliness and wrestling emotions.

God led Ruth to the exact spot where she would meet Boaz, whose name means “pillar of strength.”

Just as God offers Ruth a new beginning, He provides the same for us each day with fresh choices; choices that have the potential to lead us into the divine destiny uniquely designed for us.

There is extraordinary potential in the ordinary moments of life woven together by a loving God.

The boldness of Ruth, coupled with the loving nature of Boaz, result in a grace-filled covenant.

Tessa Afshar's new study skillfully reflects how shame is turned into grace and invites you to experience this grace by creating a new beginning in your life today. Click To Tweet

My favorite part of this study, as with all of Tessa’s writing, is the depth of her historical research.  There is so much wisdom to glean from putting the familiar Bible stories in their historical context, which is something that enriches all her texts.

I encourage you also to purchase the video series along with the study as I found them indispensable as I navigate and continue to study this inspiring study.

May you have your threshing floor today and find abundance where they has been lack in your life by following the Father’s voice into your land of new beginnings.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the way home bible study as a member of the launch team per Moody publishers. I did not receive any compensation for my review.

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I can’t breathe-A tribute to George Floyd

Breathe easy.

As I drove through a small town in Texas, I couldn’t help but notice the words on my left-hand side glancing back at me, inviting me to breathe freely in this quaint town.

Breathe easy.

The irony behind these words stood out strongly.

This week, the words flooding the news outlets and the most common social media hashtag has been, “I can’t breathe.”

  As George Floyd pleaded for his god-given life, his pleas fell on deaf ears of his murderer until hatred ultimately extinguished the flame of George’s life. #justiceforgeorgefloyd Click To Tweet

Turning away our faces from the divisive hatred still prevalent in hearts today, words of unity can only go far to bandage the pain of any forms of supremacy and racial division, which still forms the foundation of the not so “united” states.

If love is the way to tear away the veils of hatred than George Floyd’s murder this past week by a Caucasian cop in Minnesota may have torn the veil of complacency covering the eyes of the American public of the darkness that still prevails over this land.

As voices scream for the injustice that has sent shock waves through the Christian community, the topic of racial intolerance has surfaced once again.

Will the passionate pleas turn into conviction for the lack of love in our hearts or will these words remain as a forgotten hastag to be replaced by a new one next week?

As Christians should mourn the loss an innocent man, let us remember to pray fervently for George’s grieving family. George leaves behind a legacy of hard work, kindness and a respected community leader.

As America wrestles with sleeping giants of racial and political divides among a global pandemic, the state of Minnesota grieves the loss of George Floyd’s life amidst the havoc of a city in ruins post rioting.

Broken hearts lay amidst the ruins of broken dreams of many as the riots have trampled upon the hard work of innocent bystanders. For revenge is a fire that doesn’t burn just one individual, it consumes and spreads to others quickly destroying all in its ravaging path.

What can you do to break down the walls of division in your community? What can you do to become more aware of other cultures and close the racial gap? Are you willing to examine any stereotypes you may need to release?

After all, Jesus calls his children to be peacemakers. The only way to weaken hatred is to strengthen love. #georgefloyd Click To Tweet

George Floyd died from suffocation because, in the end, hatred is suffocating. Love, on the other hand, gives breathing room and breath births life.

Perhaps, if we allow the wells of our hearts to deepen in love, our love will become strong enough to shatter strongholds such as hate that still pervade humanity today.

Love is the only force that can withstand the divisive voices knocking at our doors daily.

To donate to George Floyd’s GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

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Stones of remembrance

Stones adorn the nook and crannies of this world, adding diversity to the existing beauty of flora and fauna.

If you take a walk or hike, you will see stones adorning the rugged worn-out paths aching to be seen and held. All too often, they are overlooked by passersby.

So often, familiarity can lead to a lack of appreciation for what is right in front of our eyes.

Some stones, such as gemstones sparkle and glisten with glorious reflections and are often highly valued for their exquisiteness.

Other stones look plain and may be useful for landscaping buildings and homes. Even these are visually appealing when used strategically in patterns.

Sometimes, stones such as those worn on rings or collected while on vacation hold sentimental value.

Regardless of the outward appearance of stones, plain, smooth, jagged, or full of brilliant luster, each one carries intrinsic value as God’s creation.

The year 2020 began like every year, promise ringing far and wide. There was no indication of the messy prolonged middle to come.

The Israelites also faced a prolonged plot twist in their story, remaining lost in the wilderness forty years longer than anticipated. With no GPS to guide them, their hope was obedience and the past reliance on God’s faithfulness in bringing deliverance.

In the book of Joshua, the Israelites placed “stones of remembrance” alongside the Jordan River. These stones were to serve as glaring reminders of God’s providential nature. Click To Tweet

You may not have natural stones emerge from this time in quarantine, but you may have many testimonies and encounters with God that will remain your stones of remembrance.

What areas in your life have you found God to be faithful during this pandemic? 

Perhaps, you have had strangers become friends or rekindled empty relationships. Maybe, loved ones have showered you with lighthearted banter to lift your spirits.

May you not only have these stones engraved on your heart but document them as well to serve as a living legacy of the assured confidence in the goodness of the Father. #stonesofremembrance Click To Tweet

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.- (Psalm 27:13, 14)