Fragrance

One year a friend of ours came back from Egypt with a bottle of pure, undiluted perfume. I’ve never seen perfume so strong before. Unlike what I’m used to in the states, this perfume was so fragrant that it had a strong aroma without even opening it. Even kept in a closet, with the lid on it and never having been used, the fragrance filled the closet.

Fragrance can be so powerful, it’s almost as if you use all of your five senses to experience it. However, usually we keep fragrances at a tidy and polite low: just perceptible, faint upon the air, enough to touch the sense of smell and no more.

This isn’t what happened the day Mary anointed Jesus.

Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (John 12:3, NLT)

The Bible tells us this perfume was a year’s wages (see verse 5). What Mary spilled out was not like an aromatic candle, puff of perfume, or mild air freshener. This would have been an explosion of fragrance, startling everyone at the dinner table. I think not one bite of food could further be taken without tasting only the perfume. The house became transformed into a palace of fragrance. No one could leave or enter without encountering the magnificence of the perfume.

All of this tells the story of what our devotion to Christ should be like. We should be so full of love for Him that no one can even step into our house without being overwhelmed by the fragrance of our love. No one should be able to eat with us and walk away without realizing our fervor for the King of Kings.

But there’s something to this story I have always overlooked, until today.

As she anointed Christ’s feet for the death He would experience, Mary’s hair became saturated in perfume.

Can you imagine Mary meeting any of her friends afterwards? Can you imagine her going to the marketplace? Everyone would have stopped to turn and look at her.

I can imagine them saying,

“Mary, what happened to you?  What is that fragrance about you?”

As Mary anointed Christ, and wiped His perfumed feet with her hair, she herself became a witness of fragrance. She set not only Christ apart for His burial, but she also set herself apart as His follower.

What an example for us to follow. Let us have Mary’s heart. Let us be so in worship of Christ that we exude His fragrance. As we worship Him, may our devotion be so costly and so extraordinarily unheard of that we draw the hearts of everyone around us to think of Him.

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Published in: on August 4, 2014 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Meditate

How happy is the man

who does not follow the advice of the wicked

or take the path of sinners

or join a group of mockers!

Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction,

and he meditates on it day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2, HCSB)

Taste and see that the LORD is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him! (Psalm 34:8, HCSB)

Praying Hands bible

I have a confession.  Until recently, I had very little clue how to meditate and was very uncomfortable with the word meditate.  Meditate seemed to me like a different religion, like something where you put your fingers out in circles and wait for spirits to come talk to you.  Not something for a Christian to do.

I don’t read my Bible seeking to meditate.  As Max Lucado points out in the video Be Still, there are two ways of reading Scripture

  • Information
  • Inspiration

Both bring fruit, but different fruit.  I guess I mostly read for both at the same time, but really using the way of gathering information, rather than the way of receiving inspiration, which is pretty new to me.

Of course, to meditate in the way that pleases God, you must have God’s Spirit within you.  You must be a born-again believer, meaning He has molded a new life for you in God’s Spirit, with the old life that conformed to the confusion and rubbage of this world cast aside.

In the video Be Still, theologian Richard Foster suggests the following steps for meditating.  I hesitate to use the word “steps”, because it implies a “formula”, and reading God’s Word is always about receiving it into your heart and mind and not about checking off boxes.  But the way Mr. Foster meditates is practical, easy to start, and I’ve found it to be a great introduction to meditation.

  1. Pray for God to reveal His Word to you.  Then, read through a passage.  Underline words, phrases, and verses that especially captivate you.
  2. Go back through and read the underlined passages.  Pray for God to help you choose one passage to focus your day on.
  3. Reread and reflect on that one passage all day.

(For those who have their devotion time at night, notice that you could choose a passage to reflect on before bed and all the next day.  You don’t have to have a morning devotion time in order to meditate.)

I have another confession.  I don’t have a good highlighter right now to use in my Bible.  I’ve been reading a passage once and then choosing one portion to focus on.  It’s easy to let things like not having the right highlighter stop you from meditating.  Don’t.  🙂

If you feel overwhelmed at reading a passage three times, do what I, the newbie, have been doing, and read through it once.  Then focus on one Scripture.  Build endurance for reading and reflecting on God’s Word the same way you build endurance for a sport.  Give your mind and heart a work-out as you would give your mind and body a work out if you were learning how to ride a bike, or take up archery, or lift weights.

Meditation is a most beautiful spiritual practices.  It’s worth every bit of time and effort–and a trillion more bits, too.  I have noticed even with my scrawny, beginner attempts that my mind is more focused on God during the day, and my heart more open to the Kingdom.  I didn’t realize until I began watching Be Still how much I was missing my walk with Christ.  Meditating is really like eating and drinking at God’s table–and you can feast to your fill.

“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.” (John 6:35, HCSB)

Published in: on April 12, 2014 at 9:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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The attempt to destroy history

What if someone retold a historical event, but distorted it so that the characters and the message were totally changed?  What if the retelling completely destroyed the historical lesson of what happened?

Now what if it was a event that didn’t just matter a little, but changed the course of history?

What if it was an event that was meant to be the most global foreshadowing of the only salvation that would ever come to earth?

Would you go see a movie that destroyed this kind of history?  Would you call it entertaining?

The movie Noah is its own story.  Not history, not even quality historical fiction.  It takes a few truths and mixes them with its own message and changes the facts to make them conform to Hollywood’s stylized lies.

The insult they have done to God’s Word won’t stand on the red carpet in eternity, but evaporate in the flames of Truth. God’s Word is an ark that will stand against any flood of lies.

What is heartbreaking is that, in the meantime, multitudes of people will probably go to a movie that mocks the very work of Jesus Christ.

This isn’t about a boat and a lot of water.

This is about salvation from Hell.

That’s why any Christian must take offense at the deviation Noah has taken from God’s Word.  This story not only distorts the reality of God’s ark and the flood, but it far more insidiously tries to diminish the picture of God’s salvation.

Jesus Christ built Himself as our Ark.  With the nails in His hands and feet, He became the lifeboat.  With His arms outstretched, He made it clear that the door is open.

But like God’s ark, one day the opportunity will be over.  As the flood was ushered in, so eternity will be ushered in.  God doesn’t want anyone to be caught off guard.  He wants everyone to come in through the Ark: Jesus Christ.

And the infuriating reality is that the movie Noah may block people from seeing that true Message: Jesus Christ is the Ark and He came for everyone.

No Christian should stand this.  Going to see the movie is to say God’s Word is irrelevant, the same Word in which we find our escape from God’s wrath through Jesus Christ.  It’s not the unforgivable sin; it’s not irredeemable.  But it is heartbreaking that any believer would knowingly have so little reverence for the blood of Jesus Christ.

Christ-followers, please boycott this movie.  But let’s also be encouraged that, despite the lies this film promotes, God will work for good.

And let’s pray for nonbelievers who see this film, that they will be drawn to the real Ark story . . and that there they will come through the open door, Jesus Christ.

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved” (John 10:9a, ESV)

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6b, ESV)

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Reference: http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2014/03/06/the-positives-make-sure-you-also-hear-the-negatives/

What story am I telling with my life?

I want to tell this story.

Bible creative commons

Photograph by George Redgrave

I want to tell Your story, God.  I want to tell how You rescued me.

I want to tell Your story to others.  To everyone.  To anyone who will listen.

Bibles and Christian Literature

$15 can provide 5 New Testaments or 3 full Bibles to people in poverty through the highly trustworthy charity Samaritan’s Purse. Click the picture above to find out more.

Seek the LORD while He may be found;

call to Him while He is near.

Let the wicked one abandon his way

and the sinful one his thoughts;

let him return to the LORD,

so He may have compassion on him,

and to our God, for He will freely forgive.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

and your ways are not My ways.”

This is the LORD’s declaration.

“For as heaven is higher than earth,

so My ways are higher than your ways,

and My thoughts than your thoughts.

For just as rain and snow fall from heaven

and do not return there

without saturating the earth

and making it germinate and sprout,

and providing seed to sow

and food to eat,

so My word that comes from My mouth

will not return to Me empty,

but it will accomplish what I please

and will prosper in what I send it to do.” (Isaiah 55:6-11, HCSB)

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Photograph by George Redgrave, profile on http://www.flickr.com/photos/funfilledgeorgie/

Photograph is under Creative Commons license.

The best news for my eternity

God longs for eternal life with me.

God longs for eternal life with you.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NLT)

The Bible: Why I look inside

Everything I really know, everything I want to be, and every dream I have is here.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8, NIV)

What God’s Word was like after I became a believer

I could not wait to get God’s Word open.  What I saw was not the promise of cheapie fun that lasted a few seconds, but the promise of an eternal purpose.  The idea that God had chosen me, that He wanted to choose me, that He lifted me out of meaninglessness, that He wanted to lift me out of meaninglessness . . . I had an excitement I hadn’t had since I was 5 years old.

God’s word is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions. (Hebrews 4:12, GW)

Why it matters what you hope for

People only spend their lives pursuing things they have hope in.

We wear that hope like a helmet, and when the sword of time comes down on us, our hope either gravely or even mortally wounds us . . or protects us from all damage.

But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8, NASB)

Even popcorn points to Proverbs

popcorn Creative CommonsOn my popcorn bag, under “Helpful Hints”, it says, Do not use popcorn button [on the microwave].

That is a helpful hint.

Do you ever feel like things are maybe . . not the way you thought they were?

(By the way, Orville-Redenbacher’s is right.  The popcorn button burns the popcorn.)

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
But a wise man is he who listens to counsel. (Proverbs 12:15, NASB)

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Photograph by White93, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/jt_white/

Photographs under Creative Commons License.

Lift

It was such a relief to have Ben lift my luggage down from the overhead compartment when we were coming back from our mission trip to Guatemala. I have a back that unfortunately can’t lift a lot, and I have to either risk injuring my back or rely on others to carry heavy loads for me.
1 Peter 2:24 combines two special words: “personally carried“.  Jesus did not send angels to lift the heavy load of our sin.  It is He Himself who lifts the heavy luggage of our sin off our shoulders, who rescues us from our burden of guilt.

“He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)