#203 (16/10/05)
The Be Happy Attitudes – Spiritual Growth for Abundant Living

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Barbara Coloroso
Barbara is an educational consultant for school districts, the medical and business community, the criminal justice system, and other educational associations in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, and Iceland. Barbara specializes in the areas of parenting, teaching and school discipline and is the author of 2 international best sellers, "Kids Are Worth It," and "Parenting Through Crisis."

Special Music

Hymn
"Joyful, Joyful…"
"Standing on the Promises"
"Lord and Savior"

Anthem:
"With a Voice of Singing" and "Hallelujah (Spiritual)"by Cypress Falls Combined Choir

Solo:
"For the Beauty of the Earth" by Instrumental Ensemble
"If He Put His Hammer Down" by Jim Witter

The Message

Here at the Crystal Cathedral we have school called the Crystal Cathedral Academy for grades kindergarten through high school. The principal of that academy happens to be my oldest sister, who is 4 years older than me and her name is Mrs. Coleman. Well, when we were young, my sister and I loved to play tricks on my parents, especially on April Fools Day. One of my favorite memories is when we decided to swap the sugar and the salt. We got up extra early one April Fools Day, before my mother headed for the kitchen to make breakfast, and we put the salt in the sugar bowl, and the sugar in the salt shaker. Then we proceeded to try and keep straight faces as our parents came in for breakfast. Well, my father sits down and, as usual, he grabs a teaspoon of sugar, puts it in his cup of coffee, and he takes the salt shaker and he puts it all over all of his wonderful eggs. We couldn't help but start to laugh. As you can imagine, he gives us both a strange look, asking us what was so funny, just as he puts the coffee to his lips. Sure enough, one sip was all it took and coffee comes spraying out of his mouth all over the breakfast table. Needless to say, we laughed and laughed, and pretty soon he began to laugh along with us.

I remembered that story this week as I was preparing this message because it is amazing how flavors impact us as people. You expect a certain flavor in life, sugar to be sweet and eggs to have a hint of salt. But when the reverse happens, something feels wrong. Today, our message is about growing spiritually so we can live that abundant life. Our text comes from the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:13 where he says in the Sermon on the Mount, "You are the salt of the earth." Aren't those wonderful words? "You are the salt of the earth." Further on in His message He refers to the impact of when "salt loses its flavor," in one translation; and in another translation He says, "If salt loses its saltiness, it's good for nothing and is thrown in the street and trampled by men."

"You are the salt of the earth." What do those words mean? "You are the salt of the earth." Simply put, we have been gifted by God to flavor this world in two ways; first, to experience a more abundant life than we could ever imagine ... and second, to create a good flavor in the world around us, so that others might be attracted to the abundant life that Christ wants everyone to share.

How do we create this wonderful "flavor" in the world around us? One way is through our actions - how we interact with friends and family, and yes, even with strangers. One of my brother-in-laws is an avid sports memorabilia collector. Not long ago my son and I were in his home and my son happens to be a big Wayne Gretzky fan. In looking through all of this wonderful memorabilia, it didn't take long before my son asked the question, "You wouldn't happen to have any Wayne Gretzky autographed pucks, would you?" My brother-in-law quickly proceeded to open a draw filled with hockey pucks. There they were, all lined up neatly in rows of eight or ten and then he said, "Let's see, I have about twenty four. Would you like one?" Generosity always leaves a good flavor doesn't it?

As we talked about this, my brother-in-law began to tell my son and I about one particular big-league baseball hitter, whose name if I mentioned, you would all know. This hitter was one of my brother-in-law's favorite players. In fact, he'd collected his memorabilia for years, jerseys, bats, home run balls, etc... One day my brother-in-law found himself in a position after a major league ball game to get this slugger's autograph. He waited patiently at the exit to the stadium when the gentleman came out of the locker room he said, "Excuse me sir, may I have your autograph on this home run ball I have of yours?" The ball player simply looked at him, sneered, and walked away. With that my brother-in-law was so hurt from that "snub" that he went home, gathered up all this player's memorabilia, and proceeded to get rid of it.

The flavor that we leave in people's mouths can be good, and it can be bad. Likewise, as Christians, our actions also leave certain flavors in people's mouths. How we act, and react in different situations can leave the world a more beautiful place, or not so beautiful. The choice is ours.

"You are the salt of the earth," Jesus says. We are the flavoring of the world. What flavor will you leave as you pass through?

When I was preparing for this message and I found a website that displayed all the different uses for salt. I never dreamed there were so many uses for salt. The list when on and on ... far more than just flavoring for food. It can be used for cleaning products, getting out stains in clothes with vinegar, or cleaning coffee stains out of mugs. The list was endless. But out of the thousands of things salt can be used for, I boiled it down to three things.

First, salt flavors ...

Second, salt purifies ...

And thirdly, salt creates thirst.

When we look at the abundant life God wants us to live, I see how critically important it is for us to exemplify these three qualities. We need to be flavorful, and hopefully a good flavor, as we discussed earlier. Next we need to have purity to have an abundant life. Finally, we need to make the world a more beautiful place and in so doing create a thirst in others to want to discover this abundant living in Christ.

Salt Flavors

A friend of mine went into a Chinese restaurant recently. He was very cautious about his consumption of salt because of high blood pressure, so he said to the waiter, "I would like my Chinese food prepared without salt." The waiter simply smiled and said, "Oh, the food is not so good without salt."

It's a nice analogy because if we want to live the abundant life, we need to add flavor, and we are the flavor. "You are the salt of the earth," Jesus said. "So let you light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

Beautify the world around you with a smile, a touch, a listening ear to someone who is hurting. Be that bright light in a dark world, and add that special flavor that is uniquely your own.

Salt Purifies

This leads us to our next point, which is that salt purifies. It cleanses. As such, we are called by our Heavenly Father to create a better place in this world. Author Timothy Brown went to visit a leukemia patient, a young man who, because of his illness, was confined to a plastic room, totally isolated from others as leukemia destroys the immune system to the point that simply catching a cold can kill you. So he went to visit this young man and there he was, completely isolated in his own little plastic room, where all you could do was touch him with plastic gloves. As they talked, the young man said to him that, "Life isn't like a VCR. You can't fast forward past the bad parts - and God is in every frame through the good and the bad." What amazing depth of spiritual understanding from such a young person.

As we deal with circumstances and troubles of life, we have to remember that God is always there, purifying our hearts, and even in the toughest of times, He is there with us ... creating new vitality, new dreams, new visions of a more positive world, and creating thirst.

Salt Creates Thirst

For many years, as a child, I spent the summer on my uncle's farm, and I remember asking the question, "What's that big white block doing out in the pasture?"

"Oh, that's a salt lick."
"A what?" I would say.
"It's a block of salt.
"You're kidding me."
"No, it's a block of salt. Taste it if you want."

Believe it or not, I actually went out into that pasture and tasted that salt lick. Can you believe I did that? My uncle went on to explain that the salt block was there for the cows to lick for two reasons ... one to give them the nutrients they needed as salt is an essential element of life ... but it was also there to create thirst. The cows would lick the salt ... become thirsty ... then go and hydrate themselves with water. This kept them from becoming dehydrated. Livestock should not become dehydrated.

As Christians, God calls us to be the light of the world so that we might shine forth and create a thirst in others to discover the Good News that we've found. When I think about creating thirst, I think of the time when Jesus was thirsty. He asked the woman at the well for a drink and she replies, "You ask me, a Samaritan woman for a drink?" Jesus says to her, "With the water you drink from, you'll thirst again. But the water I give you will well up within you and you'll never thirst again." (John 4:14)

This is the water of Jesus Christ. This is the water of the abundant life that continues to fill our every need. When we trust and have faith in Jesus Christ, we will never thirst again.

Howard Thurman, the African American theologian, put it this way: "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive ... then go do what you've discovered, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

Salt is not a luxury but a necessity. It is one of the essential elements for living. And just as salt is essential for us to function, so God is essential for us to function. Jesus Christ said, "You are" ... not 'you can be' ... not 'you may be' ... not 'you might be' ... but ..."You ARE the salt of the earth."

Now as salt, you can remain in the container on the table, a simple tabletop decoration ... or you can choose to become the person that God has called you to be ... to create flavor in the world ... to purify the world ... and then to create a thirst for the kingdom of God.

Today, I challenge you to stand up for Jesus Christ. Stand up and be that shining example of God's love today.

Dear heavenly Father, We thank You that we have been touched by You. That You have given us Your Holy Spirit, that You have empowered us, enabled us and equipped us to be the salt of the earth. O God, help us not to simply be a table decoration, but to flavor this world in such a way that people might see Your good deeds and worship Your Father in heaven. We give You our thanks, our glory, and our praise today. Now go with us, strengthen us, and equip us, O God, as Your children we pray. Amen.


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