Signature Scent

I remember when I was introduced to essential oils. The women were smelling each oil and oohing and aahing about how great each scent was. Then the bottles were passed to me. I got a whiff. It wasn’t pleasant. Each of the oils smelled awful. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would think these oils smelled good.

But I got hooked on them. Somehow. As I began reading about them and experimenting, I fell in love with them. I began using them for simple health issues. And I found that they worked. I could get rid of a headache with peppermint. I could stop the bleeding from a scratch or a cut with lavender. I could clear up an earache with melaleuca.

Now I find that I enjoy the scent of the oils. I know the good that they can do for me, and the scent is comforting. I’ve fallen in love with essential oils.

I recently started using a new oil. When I opened the bottle for the first time, I was overwhelmed by the scent. It was unfamiliar and pungent. It was a scent I didn’t like.

I began using the smelly oil as I had planned. And as I opened the bottle each morning, I would turn up my nose. It just stunk. But I continued to use it.

I’ve noticed a change, though. Within the last week or two, I don’t even notice the scent when I open the bottle. It’s become familiar and comfortable. I have become accustomed to the scent, and I’m not offended by it.

Now I can’t imagine my life without the oils. They signify life and health to me. At times, someone will smell an oil I’m wearing. They’ll ask about it. I have an opportunity to share what I know about the oil, and why I am using it.


God uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 2 Corinthians 2:14


I am a believer. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. I have fallen in love with him, and I want to have a close personal relationship with him. I’ve read in the Bible that believers are a life-giving perfume to other believers, but an awful stench to those who don’t believe. We smell of death and doom to those who haven’t made a commitment to follow Christ.

Those who don’t believe are appalled by the scent of believers. Oh. We don’t have a distinct scent. But our relationship with God is a sour reminder that they have denied him authority in their lives. We are a reminder that they have chosen a false god over the one true God.

Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

People who don’t know Christ are appalled at his scent on believers. They are repelled by it. It’s a strong offensive odor. Once they meet him and allow him into their life, the bad odor becomes a life saving aroma.

I want to be prepared to give an answer for the reason I believe if I’m ever asked. I want the aroma of Christ to become a fragrant perfume for those around me.

What is your fragrance of choice? The aroma of life or the scent of death and destruction.

Work in Progress

It started with an unexpected job layoff. Followed by 5 months of unemployment. Then a new job. Starting over is always tough.  This job in particular was tough. 

Through the tough times, and there have been many, God has never left my side. He has walked with me. At times he has carried me when my strength was gone. What I know is that he alone is God. He loves me even when I feel unlovely. Even when I doubt my ability. He is with me.

I have this unguided thought that at this age I should be close to perfect. But sadly, that isn’t so. Daily I’m faced with my faults and failures. I have to ask God daily for strength and wisdom.

This past year has been one of the toughest I’ve faced. I’ve asked God for three things each day. Empower me. Enable me. Equip me.

And he has.

I’ve never been one to speak up when I disagree with decisions at work. But somehow now I do. I’ve finally realized that my silence is agreement. If I don’t speak up, then others will assume that I will go along with their decision. Other times, I feel free to ask those hard questions. Or bring up topics that need to be discussed. As I have asked God to empower me, he has removed my fear of what others think of me. He has given me boldness to confront situations that I would usually ignore. I find that others respect my boldness in a way that I never imagined.

I find myself to be a mentor to coworkers who are struggling with the job. They come to me for help with uncertainties. They trust me. They know I won’t judge them for being insecure or for asking a multitude of questions. I asked God to enable me to fulfill his will for me in this place, and he is doing it. He gives me the strength to face my responsibilities in a way I never thought possible.

I find I am more dependent on God than I have ever been in my life. Daily I ask him to equip me for the work he has laid out for me. I know I can’t do it alone and I need his help like I never needed it before. God has given me the ability I need to do my job and to do it well. He equips me for the responsibilities for each day.


And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6


The life of obedience isn’t easy or comfortable. It’s a daily choice to walk in step with the Master Teacher. It doesn’t mean that I’ll quote Scripture to someone every day. It may mean that more often than not, I’m living out Scripture. 

There have been times during the past several months that I’ve wanted to run the other way. But in order for me to follow God’s will, I knew I must continue on the path he placed me. I’ve wanted to run. I’ve wanted to quit. But more than all, I know that I want to be true to God’s calling on my life. So I’ve stayed put. And I’ve learned that with God in control, I am able to do exceedingly more than I thought possible.

Annie Downs says to say yes to the open door. Say yes to the situations that stretch you and scare you and ask you to be a better you than you think you can be. Say yes to the movement that will only come once.

So that’s what I’ve done. That’s what I’m doing. I’m saying yes to the situations that make me uncomfortable. And I’ve found that with God’s help I can do them. I’ve learned that God actually does what he says he will do. He doesn’t lie. I just have to let go and trust him. He is faithful. And I must be faithful.

He started something good
And I’m gonna believe it
He started something good
And He’s gonna complete it
So I’ll celebrate the truth
His work in me ain’t through
I’m just unfinished

–Mandisa

Forgiveness

He had killed her family when she was a child. Mother. Father. Brother. He was in prison. He asked to speak with her. To tell her that he had changed. So she met with him. He told her that he had tried to kill himself twice. But failed. He showed her the scarred attempts. Then he told her that he had found God. In prison. He told her his mission in life was to help other prisoners find healing and forgiveness. He didn’t expect her to forgive him. But he wanted her to hear how the wrongs he had done had impacted his life.

She was beside herself. The day before her wedding she was meeting with her family’s killer. Angrily, she said she would never forgive him. She told him the one thing he could do was try to kill himself again. and succeed this time. She was spewing with anger.

This was an episode of a tv show that I watched. It caused me to think. Seeing this beautiful young woman who had been wronged. Her families lives cut short. She was living with unforgiveness in her heart. The next scene showed her walking down the aisle. Beautiful. Composed. Elegant. Ready to meet her groom. As if her life was in perfect order.

But I wondered. Her heart was still full of anger and unforgiveness. If this were a scene from real life, how would that anger come out and respond to other events in her life?

I see it on the news from time to time. Someone has been wronged. They want to get even.  They want the offender to pay.  They are full of anger and hatred. They say they want justice to be served. 


And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins. Hebrews 8:12


Unforgiveness can eat a hole in your heart. It will cause you to strike out at someone who has committed a minor offense against you. And the other person may have no idea what they have said or done. You may not know either why you’re so offended. But lack of forgiveness will cause more damage than we realize. It will fester inside like an untreated infection until it causes irreparable damage.

And then I read of how God always forgives when we ask him. He never says no. No. I can’t forgive you. You’ve offended me too greatly or too many times. Instead he wipes our slate clean. Time and time again. Even though he knows we will continue to mess up.

If we try to harm ourselves and fail, he doesn’t say try again and this time be successful. He doesn’t harbor ill will against us even though we continue to sin against him. He forgives each time we ask.

Forgive someone even when it hurts. It will take time. It will be hard work. 
It will produce a clear conscience. A good night’s sleep. It will result in a healthier life.

The act of forgiveness takes work. Hard work. It takes effort. It requires a change of attitude. The letting go of strong emotions. The working out of past hurts. Replaying conversations in your mind. Releasing the loss of what could have been and replacing it with a new normal. Letting go of unfounded fears.

Oh. It isn’t easy.  But it is possible.

Betrayed by Gossip

I don’t know how much longer I can do this job. 

Those are the words I heard someone say. I thought they were having a conversation with someone else.  So I was surprised to find him sitting alone when I walked by his office. So I did what no good Christian should ever do. 

I told someone else. 

She was concerned with his words, and I realized I should have kept quiet.  I asked her not to say anything to him. Of course not. She said. But less than an hour later, she had already shared the information with at least three others. 

I could have kicked myself. I knew better than to say those words to her. I knew I shouldn’t have said them to anyone. I felt ashamed and convicted. I felt as if I had betrayed this man who trusted me. Yet he didn’t know that anyone had even heard him. But I knew.

I’ll never know why I did it. I just know that I did it. 

I should have known she would tell others. She always does. She’s gossip central at the office. Now I’m just like her. 

He doesn’t know what I did. I can’t tell him. I want him to trust me. But can he? If I swear on a stack of Bibles and don’t step on a crack and break my mother’s back, would he trust me then?


Troublemakers start fights. Gossips break up friendships. Proverbs 16:28


That’s the problem with gossip. It can offend those closest to you if you don’t learn to keep quiet. Words once said can’t be taken back. So just don’t say them. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it should be said to someone else.

I read that the Trinity (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) talk about me behind my back. Imagine it! The words they are saying about me are truth. Oh. It may not be pretty what they’re discussing. I know what I’ve done. I know what I’ve said. And so do they. I would love to hear what they say about me. They are speaking hope and life for me. They love me even when I don’t deserve it.

The thing about their conversations is that they aren’t gossiping. They want the best for me. Did I say the words about my coworker because I wanted the best for him? What were my intentions? I have to ask myself. What was my purpose in sharing the words I had heard him say in a moment of frustration?

I’m reminded of the song “Words” by Hawk Nelson. Even though my words are truth, they need to be life to someone else. Not make them feel like a prisoner. Not be spoken in a whisper so the “wrong” person doesn’t hear. I need to make sure my words are the type that can be heard by anyone who is listening. Because I know that God is always listening. I need to make sure my words are pleasing to him.

Words

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts
Or put it out

I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

The Gift of Obedience

It’s a comfortable life she has. Money to buy the things she wants. She travels a little. Has a great family. Oh. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good. She loves God. She wants to obey him. She has taught her kids to trust God. To depend on him. To call on him in times of need. To thank him for his goodness.

God has gifted her with talents. A love for others. A listening ear. A gentle heart. He has showered her with friends. He has provided for her needs. He has rescued her from difficulties. He loves her.

God has asked certain things of her. She knows it. But she struggles to obey.

I wonder why it’s so hard for her to obey. To do the simple things he’s asking of her. I’m so quick to judge. I think of what he’s asking of me. It’s also simple things.  Trust. Obey. He’s not asking me to move a mountain. Or to move to Timbuktu. He’s asking me to stay put when I look to move. Why can’t I just trust him when he says I’m equipped where I am? Why is it so hard for me? Why do I seek what isn’t best for me?

I know he loves me regardless of what I do or don’t do. He wants more of me than I think I can give.  All or nothing.  Hot or cold. Don’t be lukewarm. 
It sounds so easy. 

When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things? That faithfulness is holding the fort? That playing it safe is safe? That there is any greater privilege than sacrifice? That radical is anything but normal? -Mark Batterson

He’s right. You know. God doesn’t ask us to play it safe in our relationship with him. He asks us to go deeper into knowing him. To move out of our comfort zone and really live through him. He wants us to go all in.

When we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can come and step inside the ability of Jesus. -Corrie ten Boom

Why do I try to twist his request to suit my plans? Why do I stall for time hoping he’ll change his mind? Has God ever said that my ways are better than his?


But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice. Luke 11:28


What if Zacchaeus hadn’t climbed down from the tree when Jesus called him by name? Look at what he would have missed. This hated tax collector chose to come clean on the way he acquired his wealth and return money that wasn’t his. He chose to follow the unknown path of obeying Jesus.

What if the rich young man who was asked by Jesus to give up his wealth and comfortable life had actually obeyed? What other riches and blessings would he have received? He was already obeying the laws, but there was one thing he wasn’t doing. He willingly chose to keep his comfortable life instead of surrendering to Jesus. He’ll never know what he lost.

Comfort and complacency are never safe. It’s stagnant. It isn’t growth. I’m preaching to myself here.

Saying yes to God requires a sacrifice on my part. I will have to give up my comfort and convenience. But look what I gain. Perseverance. Growth. Peace. And so much more. I wonder what I’m giving up by choosing the path of comfort and convenience. Is it worth it? If I allow God to stretch me and use me as he wants, what can go wrong with that? Oh. I may be ridiculed. I may be mocked. I may be an outcast. I may be persecuted. But in the end I won’t lose.

Obedience. That’s the name of the game. Trust. That’s the art of letting go. Sounds so simple. So easy. But not knowing what’s ahead. What’s behind the door that’s ready to be opened. It can be daunting. It could be the best time of my life. And I’m willing to miss it just for the sake of playing it safe? Really? But I won’t know what’s on the other side of that door of obedience unless I walk through it.