Sensing the Scent of Beauty

beauty seenSome clichés are falsehoods and aren’t worth the price of a vowel on Wheel of Fortune; however, timeless classics like, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder have been cherished for generations.

To be honest, I lack more than just a little sophistication when it comes to appreciating the elegance and splendor of beauty, but even I can appreciate:

Beauty should not be thought of as just a sensory perception of the eye. It can also be a pleasant fragrance that fires the sensory neurons in your schnozzle. 

People like me can identify a canvas that hosts the bright strokes of a Picasso,  but we are more apt to be awed by the sight of a scrumptious slice of apple pie fused with the tantalizing aroma of freshly brewed coffee.  While some of us will never fully appreciate the world of art, there are others who will never savor the delicious bouquet of culinary delights nor the sweet perfume of a rose.

It’s estimated that 2 million people actually stink at smelling. Dysfunctional smellers are found more often among men than women: In one study, nearly 25% of men and 11% of women, ages 60–69, had a smell disorder. This diagnosis falls into four classifications:

  • Anosmia is the complete inability to detect odors.
  • Hyposmia is the diminished ability to detect odors.
  • Parosmia is a change in a person’s ability to distinguish odors.
  • Phantosmia is the bogus illusion of the nose; it is a perceptual false-positive of an odor that isn’t present.

The nasal tone of this post would not be complete, if I failed to mention two smells that are especially pleasing to God:

  • The aroma of your prayers that evoke the smell of golden bowls full of incense in (Revelation 5:8).
  • The aroma of your love that Paul speaks of in the book of Ephesians.

May today be a day to contemplate the beauty that surrounds you, to reflect on the beauty of the Lord our God that is upon you (Psalm 90:17), and to take the words of Thoreau to heart: Behave so the aroma of your actions may enhance the general sweetness of the atmosphere.

Sunrise to Sunset

okYesterday I encouraged you to take a few moments each day to focus on the goodness of God (GoG)..  As I brewed my first cup of coffee this morning, a few GoG Scriptures began to percolate through my mind. Two of these are the grounds that can make for a robust week:

  • Psalm 113:3 From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!
  • Psalm 119:164: Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules

Somewhere between the time you start your day and you end it, I suggest you allow for a few monumental moments to focus on these seven verses:

  • Psalm 100:4-5: Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.
  • Psalm 21:13: Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.
  • Psalm 71:22: I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel.
  • Psalm 106:1: Give Thanks to the Lord, for He Is Good; Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
  • Daniel 2:23: I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might
  • Psalm 96:2: Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
  • Psalm 106:1: Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

The Apostle Paul knew the value of focusing on God’s goodness, this is why he instructed people to speak “. . . to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:19-29).”

I encourage you to read the seven GoG Scriptures each day, and make these Psalms your song for this week.

A Parade of Smiles

doggyWith the exception of Sunday, my morning routine includes a little java and journalism.  On Sundays I still drink the coffee, but I skip the newspaper.

Tuesday morning, I was enjoying my morning combo, when a stranger engaged me in some meaningless banter.  As he rose to leave he said, “Well, you know we all look alike.” Then he smiled and left.

As he walked out the door, I quickly concluded that I looked nothing like him:

  • He was covered in tattoos, but I have none.
  • He had a full head of hair that glistened with grease, and my head looks like a hairless Chihuahua.
  • He didn’t have a tooth in his head, and I still have most of mine.

I smiled to myself, but before I could shake my head in disbelief, I had a Kodak moment of comprehension: I got the picture.  I saw how much “we all look alike,” and I realized the similarity is in the smile.

Your face is the canvas on which your attitude and emotions are painted.  Is your face painted with the broad strokes of angry red, the depressing colors of a frown or with the bright hues of an inviting smile?

Solomon captured this thought when he said: A person’s anxiety will weigh him down, but an encouraging word makes him joyful. ~Proverbs 12:25

Is it easier for a person to see Christ in you when you’re smiling or frowning at them?  Think about it:

  • Paul said, “I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of you (Philippians 2:7).”
  • The Psalmist said, “Smile on me, and teach me your laws (Psalm 119:135).”
  • David said, “When I trust your mercy, my heart finds joy in your salvation (psalm 13:5).”

When Paul prayed for the Christians at Rome, he said, “I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).”

When your life is abundantly infused with God’s joy and peace, you can’t help it—you just have to smile!

The *At-Risk Asterisk

AsteriskSometime during the day, I usually stop by McDonald’s and grab a cup of coffee.  When I made my caffeine pit stop yesterday, a sign caught my attention.  It was promoting McDonald’s 2016 version of the Monopoly game.  At the bottom of the sign a red circle was emblazoned with the words, 1 in 4 Win*.

I’ve learned that a person can be at-risk, if he doesn’t pay attention to an asterisk.  After a quick search about the significance of the 1 in 4 Win asterisk and the odds of actually winning, I discovered the following:

  • The odds of getting the exact combination to win the $1 Million prize is 1 in 513,591,720.
  • The odds of winning one of the instant cash prizes is 1 in 45,000.
  • The best odds of winning are associated with the food prizes, and they equate with the advertised 1 in 4 Win*.

An asterisk offers essential data about information that has been changed, is missing, or has been updated.  It’s a coach that guides you through the mental gymnastics of comprehension.

When I think of the asterisk in this context, it reminds me of the work of the Holy Spirit who will offer an at-risk warning.  The ministry of the Spirit is multifaceted, and he empowers, guides, and convicts of sin.

Jesus said the coming of Spirit would be a great benefit to His disciples:

The truth is that My departure will be a gift that will serve you well, because if I don’t leave, the great Helper will not come to your aid. When I leave, I will send Him to you. When He arrives, He will uncover the sins of the world, expose unbelief as sin, and allow all to see their sins in the light of righteousness for the first time.  This new awareness of righteousness is important because I am going to the Father and will no longer be present with you.  ~John 16:7-11, The Voice

Whenever you feel an impression to take some action or you hear a small voice within you, it might be the whisper of the Spirit attempting to give you a new awareness of righteousness.

Paul contrasted the new awareness with the old nature in Romans 8, and I think I’ll use it as an * to share some essential information with you concerning the transforming power of God’s Spirit:

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. ~Roman 8:5-8, The Message

Bread, Benefits, and Priorities

benefitsMy morning routine usually begins with a cup of coffee and a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey.  As I sip my coffee, I read some Scripture, check the news, and I think about my To-Do-List for the day.

I then do the necessary but mundane tasks of showering, shaving, brushing me teeth, and combing my hair—notice that I didn’t say hairs. While I was doing this yesterday, I thought of the correlation between the “daily” words of Jesus in Luke 9:23 and Matthew 6:11:

  • Luke 9:23: If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
  • Matthew 6:11: Give us this day our daily

The thought of taking up your cross daily, might seem to be a monumental task, and it would be if it were not for God’s provision.  He promises the daily bread you need to accomplish His will for your life.

Psalm 68:19: Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!

God  will never tell you to “go” without showing the way, and He will never say “come” without leading you to Him. This is the benefit of knowing Him as your Shepherd and the God of your salvation.

God will show you and lead you with with His Voice of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:32-35: Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways.  Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord.

Discovering God’s will and finding the necessary bread to accomplish it, requires a daily trip to the food pantry: These Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures (food pantry) daily to see if these things were so. ~Acts 17:11

When you consider your  T0-Do-List for tomorrow, I suggest you start by making God a daily priority.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. ~ Psalm 16:7-8

A Squirt-Filled Reminder

germWhen I get out of my bed of a morning, I follow the well-worn path to my coffee pot; however, there is something I do before I make my coffee. I squirt soap in my hands and wash them.

As I was repeating this routine this morning, I thought of James 4:8: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

It’s just as important to be pure spiritually as it is to be clean physically.  This is a vital key to nurturing a relationship with God, so I’ve decided to use soap dispensers as a reminder.  Each squirt of soap will remind me to:

  • Draw closer to God
  • Cleanse my hands
  • Purify my heart
  • Focus on my relationship with God

Why not join me in this endeavor?

Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other. ~The Voice

A Caffeinated Amen To The Rolling Stones

amen_to_that_mug-rca995e47fa6148d7babe2c6351f710e2_x7jg9_8byvr_324Coffee.  I like it!  I usually drink a cup or two before I leave my house of a morning, and then I stop and have a cup with a couple of guys before I go to the office.  Somewhere around 8:30, I’ll usually have another cup and a granola bar while I’m studying.

I’m not done…..due to the influence of my Grandpa Saferite I also drink a cup in the afternoon around 2 or 3.  Depending on what I eat for supper, I might have another cup then.

While I drink coffee, I’ve never really been much of a fan of Starbucks.  I know, however, that more than just a few people think Starbucks is a necessity of life.

Last year, coffee lovers spent $10,000,000,000.00 on beverages at Starbucks—that’s right $10 billion.   Coffee sales were a large part of this number, and the 4 billion cups that were used would be 35 times longer than the Great Wall of China.

If a person was to stop at Starbucks every day, his addiction could cost him over a $1,000 a year.  The problem with coffee or soda is more than the price you have to pay; it’s the lack of lasting satisfaction.

The Rolling Stones were right when they sang:  “I can’t get no satisfaction.”  This world simply has nothing to offer in the way of lasting satisfaction.

But, there is an out-of-this-world satisfaction that doesn’t cost you a dime, and it has long lasting benefits.  Paul said you can now “be saved and set right by His free gift of grace through the redemption available only in Jesus (Romans 3:24).”

Why not pour yourself another cup and think about it—the free gift of grace!

More Than Pepper and Salt

723buffaloI couldn’t resist the urge, so I took a peak.  Even though I may never float it again, I still wanted to check the river levels on the Buffalo National River and reminisce.

Every time I paddled this river, I marveled at her beauty:  The pristine water is framed by towering limestone bluffs that rise above the river below.

The first night out on the river was often the best because supper would be venison.  As soon as I arrived at the campsite, I would put the venison strips in a plastic bag to marinate.    By the time I had set up the tent, collected firewood, and started brewing the coffee, several hours had passed and the meat was thoroughly seasoned.

In the solitude of this magnificent wilderness, I found it easy to see the beauty of God’s creation.  I also found it easy to reflect of His Word.

One evening after I had finished off the venison, I was reading Ephesians 1:7:  “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”

It occurred to me that being lavished with God’s grace is somewhat like marinating venison.  When you encounter the grace of God and you are covered-up by its life-changing power, you are transformed:

  • You are holy because He is holy—I Peter 1:16
  • You can forgive because you have been forgiven—Colossians 3:13
  • You can be merciful because you have experienced the mercy of God—Luke 6:36
  • You can live a life of love because you’ve been blessed by God’s—Ephesians 5:2

The riches of God’s grace is more than a sprinkle of pepper and a dash of salt.  When God lavishes you with His presence, you are redeemed, renewed, and refreshed, and you are a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Starbucks and a Wee Little Man

starI read an interesting David versus Goliath article by Joe Pinsker (The Quirks of Smallness). The David in this story is Herb Hyman who owns the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf chain of coffee shops in Los Angeles.

Hyman began to worry when he was confronted by a well-known and well-financed Goliath that you may have heard of—Starbucks. The battle cry of the coffee behemoth to Hyman was, “Sell out to us, or we’re going to surround your store.”

With the courage and boldness of David, Hyman stood toe-to-toe with Starbucks, and instead of seeing a decline in his coffee sales, he watched as they shot up. Pinsker uses this coffee battle as an example to say: “A company’s smallness, it turns out, is something that can play to its advantage in competing with massive brands.”

As I read this article, I thought of a man whose smallness became an advantage. As Jesus was passing through Jericho a large crowd had gathered, and due to his smallness, Zacchaeus could not see him. Not to be deterred, Zacchaeus climbed up into a sycamore tree, so he could see Jesus as he passed by.

The important part of the story is not that Zacchaeus saw Jesus, but that Jesus saw Zacchaeus. Not only did the Savior see him, but he went home with Zacchaeus; and this proved to be a huge turning point in the life of a small man.

It only takes a brief look at the life of Zacchaeus to see that smallness defined more than just his physical stature. He was also short on ethics and you could bottle his morals in a pint-sized jar.

When Jesus invited Himself to the home of Zacchaeus, He was intent on opening the door to his heart. When this happened a small heart was enlarged, and Zacchaeus said: “Lord, half of my possessions I now give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone of anything, I am paying back four times as much!” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this household, because he too is a son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Regardless of your size, Jesus sees you where you are; knows what you need; and, what He did for Zacchaeus, He will also do for you.