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Fragrance or Stink: What Do You Smell Like?

1 Oct

A woman, trying to control her dry hair, treated her scalp with olive oil before washing it. But then, worried the oil might oliveoil_margenauer_pixabaylinger, she washed her hair several times.

That night, as she went to bed, she leaned over to her husband and asked, “Do I smell like olive oil?”

“No,” he said, sniffing her.

“Do I smell like Popeye?” *

I once read that if you lick your wrist and wait 10 seconds, and then smell your wrist… that’s what your breath smells like!

Is that true? Oh wait … Yikes!

There are sweet smells and offensive smells, right?

  • The smell of a newborn baby (minus a soiled diaper).
  • The smell of old books.
  • The smell of exotic perfume.
  • The smell of a bakery.
  • The smell of a wet dog.
  • The smell of honeysuckle vines.
  • The smell of an angry skunk.

But the smell I’m considering today is the aroma that lingers from my attitudes. 

Even if you are not aware of it, you are leaving behind a fragrance wherever you go.

Encouraging, godly attitudes will bless others, but when our attitudes “stink,” it will affect everyone around us in negative ways.

Although sin grievously affects us personally, we don’t sin unto ourselves—others are affected. Our “stink” can rub off on others! One example is the stinky attitude that comes from an unforgiving, bitter attitude that “defiles many” (Hebrews 12:15).

The story is told of an old homeless man, taken in by a God-fearing couple who wanted to help him. They took him home where he showered and cleaned up. But then he put on his old, dirty, stinky clothes! He didn’t realize the loving couple had laid out fresh, clean clothes for him.

This is what we Christians do sometimes. We are “washed” by the Lord when He rescues us and makes us His own (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:26) and God wraps us in a robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10); but then we keep righteousrobe_stinkygarments_lolwithgodputting old “stinky” garments over that robe!

Our hearts are changed, but we still resort to stinky thinking patterns that lead to stinky actions.

When tempted to put on those stinky attitudes, we need to lay them down and pick up the attitudes the Holy Spirit has “laid out” for us.

What are these attitudes?

Sweet-smelling attitudes arise from the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and goodness (Galatians 5:22-23). They include behavior that shows we have become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4-7).

And our thoughts help us focus on these attitudes. We need thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). We need to think these kinds of things and practice sweet-smelling habits that flow from those thoughts.

We all sin. Every day. If we say we don’t, we’re deceiving ourselves (1 John 1:8). But that doesn’t mean we cozy down with our sins. We should hate our sin as God does, and confess it to Him in repentance (1 John 1:9) so we can move forward in His grace to thoughts, words and behaviors that please Him (Ephesians 5:8-10; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Romans 12:1-2).

We need a “daily washing” to make sure the aroma of Christ is what lingers, wherever we go and in every situation;

“For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15, Amp).

King David, after committing terrible sin, cried out to God, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity [wickedness], and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:2). In essence, David was saying, “Scrub me clean. Soak out my sinful attitudes and actions, and let me be pure again.”

Determine that your aroma will be the fragrance of Christ, not the stink of sin!

How can you know what “aroma” emanates from YOUR life? By others’ reactions and responses? Through the conviction of the Holy Spirit? From the Word of God?

from * Adapted from The Cybersalt Digest, Issue #4177, 9-1-16

~ Dawn

Living Up to Who We Are

4 Oct

I smile when I read many of the “Keep Calm” items around the Internet that have sprung out of the original 1939 British KeepCalmAndMakeAKeepCalmPosterGovernment motivational poster, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

I’ve seen “Keep Calm and Call Batman” … “Keep Calm and Buy Shoes” … “Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate” … “Keep Calm and Make Bacon Pancakes” … “Keep Calm and Adopt a Great Dane.” You get the idea.

But I laughed out loud when I read that the British reportedly have a REPUTATION for keeping calm even when there is no crisis! Having visited with many in the UK, I know this is true.

I’ve been thinking about that word, “reputation.”

Preacher and evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of me.”He had the right focus!

But then I thought about all the times I meant to do right and didn’t. Automaker Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”

Isn’t that the truth?

Our reputation is built (or torn down) choice by choice. With every decision, our character is taking shape … and then, our reputation.

God has already given Christians a framework for godly character. Not only that, He has invested in our lives through His Son, Jesus. Everything that we need to become holy is tied up in our salvation, forgiveness, righteousness and eternal life in Christ. God calls us to live up to who we are in Jesus:

“Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (Philippians 3:16, ESV). The Living Bible says it this way: “… fully obey the truth you have.”

The truth is, we are: redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:13-14), alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5), washed and sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11), justified and made righteous (Romans 5:1), reconciled to God (Colossians 1:22), a child of light (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5) and so much more!

We are to make the choices every day to live in the truth of who we are – to make the choices to grow more like Christ.

Dr. Dirk Van Proyen, teaching my Sunday school class recently, spoke of the Judgement (Bema) Seat (2 Corinthians 5:10) where Christians will give account of their works for Christ after salvation (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) – not to earn salvation with works (Ephesians 2:8-9). He noted the criteria for that judgment of works:  the faithful fulfilling of our stewardship responsibilities, coupled with the motives and intent of our hearts as we ministered.

Anything that is not found to be of value will be burned up (poof!); but what remains will result in praise from God — the “well done” we so desire.

Our reputations will be very clear on Judgment Day, whether they were genuinely for God, or full of puffed-up pride.

I came home from church with many sober thoughts. If Jesus is coming soon and bringing His reward with Him (and the scriptures tell us that is so, Revelation 22:12), then I’d better be thinking more seriously about that day. I want to “press on” to live in resurrection power (Philippians 3:11-12)

I wrote three file cards and put them in places around my home to remind me of some decisions I made that day.

GodsGloryWayPower

If I want to live to the “praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:15) and ultimately receive praise from Him for faithful service, I need to remember the three things I wrote down. I want to do all for God’s glory, in God’s way (with holiness, integrity and faithfulness) and by God’s power (not through the “flesh,” Romans 7:18, but by the Holy Spirit, John 14:16-17; Romans 8:11; Acts 1:8a).

Are those your goals too? Can that focus help you live up to who you are in Christ?

– Dawn

 

 

 

 

Are You Photoshopped?

22 Feb

Photoshopped_byGail_croppedMy friend Gail Andrews once photoshopped a picture of my my husband and me – switching our heads! We laughed and laughed at the silly photo.

Innumerable photoshopped images draw laughter on the internet. The funniest ones are of animals or inanimate objects. An elephant with zebra stripes. Goldfish jumping out of a snoring man’s mouth. A squirrel brandishing a machine gun. A dandelion:  a flower with a lion’s head in the center. A bowl of potatoes with eyes … real eyes!

And then there are the gorgeous models who are photoshopped to unrealistic extremes (and most of the time I like them better in the before pictures). I laughed out loud to see a model with an obviously-photoshopped bustline, but whoever did the photoshopping forgot to photoshop her image in the mirror! I thought, “Who do they think they’re fooling?”

It may be a stretch of an application, but sometimes I think I try to “photoshop” my character – to look better than I am at any given moment. Call it wanting acceptance, or the need for approval … or pride. It’s a hypocritical picture I give to the world, at that point.

God sees the heart; He searches and knows the truth about us (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:10). So any spiritual “photoshopping” is foolish. As I examine my heart, I wonder how often I have “photoshopped” my spiritual reality.

Why can’t I just be honest and say I’m still “in progress” … broken but partnering with God in my sanctification?

It’s OK to admit I have needs, because I know God will keep working on me until the day I die or Jesus returns for me (Philippians 1:6).

In the meantime, I can best minister when I am authentic, surrendered and obedient.

Ray Stedman wrote about this kind of authenticity in “Living an Authentic Christian Life,” a booklet by RBC Ministries excerpted from the book Authentic Christianity, Discovery House Publishers).

“Authentic Christianity never needs advertisement or publicity,” Stedman said. “It gives off a fragrance and a fascination that attracts people like flies to honey.”

Not everyone will be attracted, obviously. Some people, when face-to-face with authentic Christians, either lash out in hatred or recoil in fear. We shouldn’t be surprised. That’s how some people responded to Jesus.

Stedman says there are five unmistakable marks of authentic Christianity, as described by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16):

  • Unquenchable Optimism
  • Unvarying Success (the triumphing of God’s plan in and through us)
  • Unforgettable Impact
  • Unimpeachable Integrity
  • Undeniable Reality (a lifestyle that validates the life of Christ within us)

Stedman adds:  “After listing those marks of an authentic Christian, Paul asks the reader, ‘And who is equal to such a task?‘ (v. 16).” None of us is a consistent role model of the authentic believer.

Our confidence—the source of our authenticity and our sufficiency—is in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

My thought is, how will people in our world see Jesus if we keep photoshopping our faith life instead of allowing the world to see how Jesus changes us, meets our needs, and commissions us for Kingdom duty?

Do you struggle with living an authentic Christian life? Which of the five characteristics of authenticity is weak or missing in your life?

Forget the photoshopping, Friends. Come to Jesus with your needy life and keep it real.

~ Dawn

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