Blessed versus Happy

I am still studying Matthew, observing the movement of Jesus in relationship to community.IMG_3304 In Matthew 5, the familiar passage called the beatitudes begins. Much has been written on this section and I am certainly not qualified to discuss the theological nuances. What impresses me is the setting and the discourse that follows to his disciples, moving from a large crowd to a smaller group; moving from a needs based circumstance driven crowd to an intimate learner’s environment. Matthew 4:23-25 describes the crowd that is following Jesus and his work among them, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the gospel, healing every disease and affliction, various diseases, pains, oppressed by demons. . . ‘and he healed them’. Now this great crowd is following him because he represents something different. He offers relief to their circumstances, pain and misery.

Chapter 5 begins with ‘Seeing the crowd, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.’  He removes himself from the emotion and tension a crowd that wants something represents. I imagine, though, it is purely speculation, that he sits where he can see them and consistent with his character, he looks on them with compassion, longing that they could see beyond their circumstance and trust him and know his father. This, much deeper than their presenting issue.  In verse 2, Jesus opens his mouth and teaches his discipline, this smaller group of intimate followers. The first word is ‘Blessed’.  That has always been a confusing word. What does it mean to be blessed? Certainly in American, we are most blessed with wealth and security compared to the rest of the world. But, that’s based on circumstances which could change and are changing every day. Determined to understand this term ‘blessed’, out comes the study tools to search for the original meaning of the word. Blessed in the Greek is makários which translates as blessed one, possessing the favor of God. It is that state of being marked by the fullness of God. It indicates the state of the believer in Christ; said of one who becomes a partaker of God’s nature through faith in Christ. So it is positional. As a believer in Jesus Christ, indwelt with the Holy Spirit because of faith in Jesus Christ this is the result. Contrasted to ‘happy’ which is based on circumstances, like the large crowd following Jesus in this account, who were looking for relief from their circumstance to be ‘happy’. Happy has to do with good fortune or based on a favorable circumstance. Blessed is equivalent to having God’s kingdom within one’s heart; in the world but not dependent on it. Satisfied because of God rather favorable circumstance[1].

Back to the scene, in Matthew 5, Jesus is observing a great crowd of followers who are seeking circumstance relief and teaching his disciples, those who follow him as believers in his work and person and stressing the difference in his first word choice. Emphasizing the difference between them and the overall makeup of the crowd. Blessed versus happy. Those of us who call the name of Christ; believers, followers, children of God, have the same dynamic or option available. We are blessed because we have Christ within. We have the fullness of God within us. Therefore, our circumstances do not determine our state of being. We are in Christ. The chaos of this world, even the chaos in each individual life of a believer does not change our blessedness. We do not have to be undermined by the world, but can stand above the circumstances and remain independent from them in our state of being, our attitudes and therefore our behaviors. We are not UNDER the circumstance unless we choose to place ourselves there. Certainly there is a place for grief and adjustment to circumstance that cause us stress but regardless of the outcome, we are blessed.

Cancer or illness . . . blessed. Loss . . .. blessed. Stressful job . . . blessed. Financial difficulties . . . blessed. Relationships gone sideways . . .blessed.

Blessed are the believers in Christ because they have the fullness of God within.

Paul says it best in 2 Corinthians 4:8

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

Blessed . . .



[1]  Taken from The Complete Word Study Dictionary, Edited by S. Zodhiates, AMG Publishers, page 937.

Does Jesus really get me?

IMG_0225I’ve been reading through Matthew, observing the movement of Jesus through a social context; placing myself, as much as possible within the cultural mindset of his time. I may be  lacking in a comprehensive cultural perspective but trust in the instructional leading of the Holy Spirit, crossing the bridge of interpretation to life application.

Matthew 4 begins with what we know about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. My favorite words are in the beginning verses where Jesus comes out of a 40 day/40 night fast and scripture records these words ‘he was hungry’. Seriously, I have always thought these were a  wasted of words; a redundant statement. Who would not be hungry after fasting for that long, right? But believing that all scripture is inspired and profitable for reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness, I began to look more closely at these words.

This event in the life of Jesus is often connected to the words in Hebrew 4:14 that say ‘he, speaking of Jesus,  was tempted in all manner as we are, yet without sin.’ Certainly Jesus faced other temptations in his ministry/life but these three were head-on full frontal conflict with the devil and have significance for not only our behaviors but perceptions and thoughts as well.

Jesus was hungry. This was a felt, real need. Few of us know real hunger especially if we live in the United States. But this was 40 days without food. I can barely go a meal before I whine about being hungry let alone 40 day and nights.  The devil’s solution for his hunger was turn objects into substance to meet a need. When I sat with that for a bit, I realized the devil tempts me with the same thing. Turn things into something that meets a felt need. For example, my felt need for security I feed with food or spending or controlling behaviors. A ‘no-thing’to satisfy a felt need. Note too, the devil suggested he make more than he needed. ‘Stones to loaves of bread’, where one loaf would have met his felt need of hunger. How many times do we over-indulge and stockpile rather than simply meet the need? In a world of over-stimulation, we hardly know where need ends and indulgence begins. Everything in this world primes us to over-indulge, to satisfy ourselves after all we are entitled.

Next, look what happens after Jesus counters the devil with the word of God in Matthew 4:11.  After the devil left him, God met his need through his angels, his messengers; a method out of Jesus’s control. Jesus has to wait. I think this speak to delayed gratification which is an element of spiritual discipline.

Finally, Jesus’ antidote for the devil in this temptation back in Matthew 4:4 is ‘man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’. My take on this defense is first, when the choice is trust your feelings, real, as in Jesus hunger or imagined, as in my insecurity, trust what God says in his word. If you don’t know what that is, go search for it, find a mentor, coach or spiritual director but seek out God’s truth. Feelings are based in situations and environments and are not very trustworthy.  What we know about feelings is that often they drive behaviors and for many of us those may be self-destructive or at a minimum self-defeating. Your perception may not be reality but like Jesus, the devil wants you to believe it is reality and wants you to fix it for yourself.  Second, wait on God. Trust his word. While you wait and pray for wisdom and examine your feelings. Is the devil tempting you to substitute objects or activities or relationships to meet a need only God can fill completely? A need God longs to fill if you’ll just wait on him?

Does Jesus really get me? I think he understand what it means to be tempted to meet my own needs with anything other than God. He had the chance to do the same but  he chose to wait and trust; to press through the tension of his felt need and believe his Father had a plan and purpose. He was tempted with the same things we’re tempted with, yet without sin. Like the ultimate coach who has been there and succeeded, we can follow his example and trust him.

Be blessed.


Star of Purpose– Storm of Change

I am currently enrolled in a social and cultural psychology class for my master’s program. My fascination with groups and 1280-CATERS_TORNADO_RAINBOW_01 influence on individual’s thoughts and behaviors had led me to begin a journey exploring scripture in light of group dynamics surrounding the life of Christ. I want to explore his behaviors and perhaps intentions in terms of his in-group (followers) and out-groups that opposed his teaching and example. I am not really sure what I will find, but I began my journey in Matthew 2:1-12.

This beginning section of Matthew 2 provides the account of the wise men from the east; men of science and faith, exploring what they have researched and adventuring beyond their borders to prove or disprove what the science had exposed.

The star –It must have been unique or it would not have ignited their curiosity. They were curious enough to dig deeper and reach a conclusion that it was more than a universal anomaly. Their research led them to ancient text that pointed to its purpose. It was a guiding and locating star. The first GPS (Global Positioning Star) and they were driven to follow it.This same star shown a light on a social and cultural environment that was about to change. That change was ushered in by the birth of Jesus, identified by the wise men as ‘King of the Jews’ who they asked for by position rather than name. This change was illuminated and exposed by a star with a purpose.

The Social/Cultural climate

Social and cultural conditions is at the forefront of my thought process and the fodder for my recent exploration into scripture.  Briefly, as the terms might suggest, there are in-groups and out-groups within a culture or society. In-groups are the groups with which one identifies closely, out-groups are a comparison group that contrast with the in-group. Prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination are developed within this context of group comparison. In our text we have two salient groups; Romans under the leadership of Herod and the Jew, under the leadership of their religious hierarchy. Rome was the majority group, if not in number in political power and control. Jews were the minority, in bondage to Rome. God had been silent for 400 years. This is an important point because to normalize their existence under the Roman government, the Jewish leadership had acquiesced to their position and seemingly have lost faith in the promises of their God. When asked by Herod what they knew about the prophecy referenced by the wise men, they answered with accuracy. They knew the information but had lost sight of the God of promise. This singular question produced the emotion of fear (vs 3). It is unclear if their fear was due to the in-congruence of their faith or of Herod or both. Change was coming and storms always elicit an emotion.  Herod, on the other hand was troubled, probably in more ways than one, but this question from the wise men set social and potential political wheels in motion. It upset his norm. His power was threatened and his response was control.

The Storm is brewing. This beautiful unusual star so important to the sweetness of the nativity story is a warning star with purpose. The silent God has kept his word, his promise of a Messiah and things are about to change.

We often see storms as negative, however, they are energy in motion, conflict reaching a peak, the hidden being exposed. In Recovery, we often say that nothing can be healed unless it is brought into the light. Light, not darkness provides healing. The transition between the two, the storm, is painful, but purposeful. If you have ever experienced a tornado, the set up for the storm is an eerie pea green sky, that looks menacing, followed by temperature change, light winds, then often hail, torrential rains and short lived but enormous winds. What follows the storm is the freshest air, rainbows and peace; none of which would have been experienced unless there was an atmospheric change in the climate. Any climate, social, environmental, cultural or spiritual.

What does your storm look like? Did you miss the warning ‘star’? Is it possible for you to re-frame the whirling winds of change that are for good, for betterment, for purpose and see it in light of the work God is doing within its context? How? Do not be afraid of the storm. It is only energy, God’s energy. Be still, firmly planted in faith, even if God seems silent. When trees are bent in a windstorm, their roots go deeper. Feel your roots expanding deeper into the God of purpose, spread your branches and embrace the storm. Even if uprooted, there is a purpose.   Change is coming. Romans 8:28 says it’s for our good and God’s glory.

Matthew 2:12(b)- speaking of the wise men … they departed to their own country by another way.

Be blessed!

Picture taken by Jason Blum and his son in Colorado ( blum&source=iu&pf=m&fir=iOmu_TAhFkIBdM%253A%252CmQ6lrXHuozjvdM%252C_&usg=__2nZgi4PoYZnYBTLqjNALzoDoxWw%3D&biw=1448&bih=758&dpr=0.9&ved=0ahUKEwiYyt3N98_MAhVW7GMKHV78CZIQyjcIOA&ei=Lw0yV9j2M9bYjwPe-KeQCQ#imgrc=iOmu_TAhFkIBdM%3A


Celebrating Diversity … Different like us.

IMG_3304I’m sitting in a wonderful little bakery/coffee shop in my favorite small town, where we hope to retire. It’s noisy and eclectic, sort of, filled with a mix of ages, genders and expressed lifestyles. As I look across the street, I peer into windows of international non-profits, mainstream religious institutions, shops and the like which feed the environment here in this quaint hub of activity. The question that comes to mind, having limited experience with organizations here who value diversity; What does that really mean? I’m different culturally, biologically (age), my worldview is consistent with my faith yet in the midst of the stated celebration of diversity and inclusion, I’m excluded. So it’s really not a celebration of diversity, it conformity, different like us. I’m not being critical. There is a style here that is consistent with the blending (or not) of old west and environmental cultures. There is the air of limited acceptance of diversity from both sides. Is that their intent? We’ll coexist but  . . . .

In psychology the concept of being accepted is demonstrated by ingroups and outgroups. This is a very normal process. We gravitate to the places where we are completely accepted and avoid, if possible those places where we feel rejected. ‘Feel’ is an important word, because, regardless of the reality of the situation, how we interpret that situation is run through the colors of our own world. There may be people sitting here in this quaint place that share my worldview, or who may be from a different part of the country, but I still ‘feel’ like an outsider.

Because of my worldview, my mind moves towards the personal spiritual application. What and how am I to address this diversity and exclusion dynamic? First, this is not a new concept. Scripture is fraught with examples of this very dynamic. In John 17, Jesus prays for his followers, that they would be in the world but not conformed or transformed by the world. Separate from but influential in this world. Certainly the culture then was different from today but the environment this dynamic created is the same. Hatred for those who follow Jesus. Exclusion or outgroup is the consequence of following Jesus. So what is the point? This really feels bad sometime, right? How should my behavior, as a follower of Christ, reflect the heart of God within this world where I do not fit by design?  I don’t think God is surprised by the internal conflict of this dynamic. I think he fully understands the difficulty of walking in the light in the midst of darkness and hard places. I’m sure there is a list of do’s that could be provided here but my experience with ‘do’s and don’ts’ leaves me empty and feeling like a continual failure. So let me suggest what Paul says in Galatian 5, as he addresses a group that has shifted from the design of sanctification to conformity to the ‘former things’. He underscores the behaviors associated with a life conformed to the world and calls these behaviors bondage. You can explore the list in Galatians 5:19. Consistent with our theme, dissensions, rivalries and divisions are included in the list. I realized he’s talking about within the body of Christ, but the idea is that we begin to look like the world as we become conformed to the behaviors of the world; as we try to become part of the ingroup. The counter positions Paul offers begins in Galatians 5:22 with the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit is synonymous with behaviors or attitudes, in my opinion; the visible and attitudinal results of a surrendered life.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…

Perhaps for the follower of Christ ‘celebrating diversity’ means seeing this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Maybe it means living thoughtfully as an outgroup that is its own ingroup by design, fully surrendered to the Spirit of God, given us for personal instruction and guidance. We’ll know that’s where we are dwelling when we see the fruit of his spirit emerge in places we simply do not fit, either real or imagined. The peace of God will rule our hearts and mind and we can love like Jesus, praying for those different than us, that one day they can be different like us… saved by God’s grace and led by God’s spirit for eternity.

The Walk that changed the World

What if you were walking with your closest friends into a place where everyone knew you or knew of you. Where each person had a perception of who you were because of what they had seen or heard what you had done . . . gave sight to the blind man, healed the lame, brought Lazarus back to life. They’d seen you throw the merchants, the Christian profiteers ,out of the Church (temple). They’d seen the transformation in the group of fishermen followers. Each Jewish person watching you  knew the significance of your entrance on a donkey. They knew what ‘Messiah’ meant. Inside each person there was a battle waging, sensing the intensity of this entrance whether  Jewish or not.  They all had expectations of what the Messiah would change; their oppression from Rome, political strains, hunger and poverty, damaged relationships the list is long, but be assured it existed. How do I know? Because we do the same today. God on our terms or as I like to call it Genie-in-a Magic-Bottle-God. We want this promised Messiah and Savior to ‘save’ us from our present circumstances. We wish our pain away and bank on conditional promises as if our part did not exist. An expectation that this magic God will fix it, fix us, fix them. So this group of onlookers in Jerusalem were viewing this from their individual perspectives.Certainly this Jesus was capable.

Now let’s move to the other side of the table . . .

It’s been hard every day for the past three years. Since Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness where he did battle with Satan.  Every expectation, every pressure, every mile walked presented some new or should I say the same issue in a different setting. The religious leaders were on him all the time. They wanted to discredit his purpose and person. His group of fishermen followers was like herding cats with ADD. Those precious children he blessed were destined for the same life as their fathers, unless he followed through. Miracles, unbelief, devalued, disrespected, people in need but missing the point. Hunger, poverty, political upheaval. The world, his world was a mess. He could have said, No. Jesus however, introduced something special by walking into this emotionally and politically charged environment. He demonstrated a relationship of loving obedience that would change the world. If they’d allow it to transform them, it would change their world. If we’d allow it to transform us it can still change our world.  It might not fix each individual’s circumstance, but the paradigm of their hopelessness could now change to hope, theirs and ours. Hearts would change. The shape of our purpose could move towards the purpose as seen through the eyes of God. As Jesus walked past these hurting, needy folks with expectations, he focused only on the request from his Father. He knew this week would be unbearable but for his Father. He knew he could do what he was asked to do because the result of him choosing to walk away would doom mankind for all eternity. He provided the means for us to be able to stand, like he does before his Father, perfectly whole. This singular week in history would allow us to stand before a loving God whose price of admission into his loving saving relationship was paid by the blood of Jesus Christ, his perfect son; the perfect spotless once-for-all sacrificial lamb of God.

“I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene and wonder how he could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean. How wonderful! How marvelous and my song shall ever be! How Wonderful, How Marvelous is my savior’s love for me!” Charles Hutchinson Gabriel

Fearless Living or Living in Fear?


Ever wonder if you have enough faith? In a world filled with violence, political unrest, hunger, death and dying all around, do you wonder if you have what it takes to stand or would you rather run and, avoiding the places of our fear? Foundations of fear can be real or imagined and both elicit a response, a behavior. But as a child of the King of all Kings, if I had faith in that relationship, understanding by both observation and experience, the depth of his compassion and sacrificial love, would I live differently, more confident, from a place of conviction?

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not see.

Read that again… Faith is the assurance of the things hoped for and then the conviction of what you cannot see. Conviction implies behavior that is consistent with what is believed to be true. The example of sitting in a chair and trusting it will hold you is a simple but accurate. You see the chair, you’ve seen others of various sizes and shapes sit in the same chair, so you sit in the chair believing it will hold you. The thought process is assurance, the bending of the knees and lowering yourself into the chair is conviction. Thoughts and actions informed by beliefs.

Now think about the places you hope for something, maybe health or a cure for cancer, diabetics or other diseases. Maybe you hope to be in a different place, financially, physically or relationally. What does that look like? Does it look like whining, or complaining, fist shaking and blaming, running or hiding?  If you really believe there can be a cure for deadly disease or you can be financially, relationally or physically in a different place, how would we act? What would you do? How would you behave?

I have an Uncle who has faith that a cure for Juvenile Diabetes is possible and he takes actions consistent with that hope.  He spreads the word and encourages giving to research. His actions demonstrate his faith. Let’s move to a little more difficult topic. If I truly believe God is who he says, Jesus did what he did and accomplished my salvation, loves unconditionally, and accepts me as I am, how will that faith, that belief be demonstrated in conviction by my behavior? OR If I truly believe God is in control of this world, that He has a plan and is working it, how will that be evidenced in conviction and inform my behavior? Will I hide or will I stand? Will I be fearful or fearless?

Scripture supports this concept over and over in verses like these and many more:

And without faith it is impossible to please him (God), …… Hebrews 11:6

You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from you works and I will show you my faith by my works. James 2:18 (He provides examples on either side of this scripture)

When Jesus in John 21:15-18 ask Peter three times ‘Do you love me?’ and Peter’s response is ‘Yes, you know I love you Lord.’ Jesus instructs him to an action, ‘Feed my sheep.’  Jesus is asking for a tangible demonstration that Peter’s words, beliefs and behaviors lineup, that he lives a life of conviction informed by his faith.

If I believe by faith that God is in control and I am forgiven for all eternity because of my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, these beliefs must inform my behavior, my conviction, they will drive out fear and I will and can stand in the face of all things and people who oppose that faith. Not with fist shaking and harsh words but like Jesus did. In Andy Stanley’s powerful and timely series ‘Tough as Nails’ ( he addresses this subject with tremendous clarity.  He says Jesus was not fragile but fearless. He walked into the politically charged environment  that lead to the cross, surrendered to this humiliating death with conviction that his Father had a bigger plan for you and me. So we should stand with conviction by faith with love and compassion, willing to ‘stand down’ (as my friend Susan would say) to self and fear and stand up in love and service to a lost and dying world in need of a savior, whose image we reflect. I’ll leave you with this scripture to ponder your own faith, your convictions and how that looks to others in your world and spheres of influence.

II Corinthians 2:15

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saves and among those who are perishing.

‘A’ is for Abraham

I am in the early stages of writing a devotional book for my grandchildren about key people in the Bible. The second character is A is for Abraham. The goal is to help them cross the application bridge from the tension-creating circumstance in Abram’s life, his faith 6356388427610595271282450916_969748_10103227871636285_1801255318_nand their own circumstances and developing faith. Abram, later known as Abraham, offers rich life lessons with a multitude of applications. As I stated in Unchained to Change, yesterday, observing movements and behaviors across time in the lives of real people in real circumstance that resulting in change, is fascinating. The change described in Genesis was significant culturally, socially and personally for them, but also significant historically with application today.

When I began reading about Abram in Genesis, I was looking for life lessons for my grandchildren, keeping the concepts and applications simple. The first step for me was to look at Abram’s family tree, since family connections are important to young children. So when Abram was asked to leave his home and kin, he had to have faith and trust in this God he could not see. What struck me however, looking at Abram’s genealogy, was a purposeful and intentional God. The Old Testament is a love story about God and his people, Israel. This love story recounts a thread that can be traced from Adam to Jesus and ultimately to the followers of Christ by adoption.  Genesis 5 provides the generations from Adam to Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. Chapters 6 & 7 tell us about the struggles of the flood for Noah and his family (N is for Noah will likely cover those struggles). Genesis 8:1 begins with, “But God remembered Noah and the animals” and covers Noah’s life aboard the ark, the trials that followed, up to the tower of Babel in chapter11. Towards the middle of Genesis 11, the genealogy continues with Shem, Noah’s son. Most would find this boring. However, reading their ages when they conceived the next key character followed by the number of years they lived is meant to give us something or it would not have been recorded.  It reminds me that God does not forget no matter how much time has passed, nor does he change his plan because of some crisis event. He is not surprised by the rise of terrorism in our country. He is not rattled by the events that rattle us. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. This lineage gives me hope and helps me see this world through God’s eye. He is not limited by time. Age does not matter in his economy. The people he uses are regular people with real struggles who mess up, just like me. God never abandons them and they never lose faith. It all works out for them as long as they keep their focus and the God’s plan is realized. There is real pain and loss in these stories. There is fear and wars, murder, hatred, restoration and consequences for choices, just like there is today for us. But God is in control and works his plan for his glory and our good, just like he promised.

As the Genesis account reaches Abram, God begins to test our faith in his promises. Genesis 11:29 says “And Abram and Nabor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai . . .  vs 30 Now Sarai was barren, she had no child.”  Since you know the rest of the story, you can almost hear the background music reflect impending doom (Dun, Dun, Dun DAHHHH). God goes to great lengths to connect his thread of love and faithfulness to Abram, our next key character. God’s promise of a great nation begins with a barren woman and an old man (by today’s standards). Our circumstance and limitations do not diminish God’s plan and purpose; not for us, not for his use, not for the world. What brings me hope in the midst of the fear-producing events of this world, is that for thousands of years God has kept his promises. He remembered Noah floating in a boat and cared and responded.  He created great nations from a barren woman and old man. He’s got this. I can trust him. I can stand when I want to hide. I can trust when I cannot see. I can love when it’s easier to hate. I can engage when it’s easier to isolate. I can relax into his faithful arms and believe He’s got me. A purposeful, intentional, merciful, faithful, loving God has got me and you.

I live in the country in an early 1970’s ranch built out of concrete blocks. It is cold but has some redeeming qualities; mainly its location, perched atop a hill in the middles of orchards imageand agriculture. I’m grateful for it most of the time but today I am caught up in the stench of a dead something flowing through the heating vents. From the outside looking in, no one would know there was a horrible smell in my house, but open the door or turn on the heat. . .  you get the picture. It stinks! I need professional help to exterminate or extract whatever is causing this headache of an odor.

This morning I was reading Psalm 96:7-8, that says:

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,

Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

bring an offering, and come into his courts.

 There has been a distance between the Lord and I because he’s been poking at some tender character defects in my life. This morning I wanted to reorder my day to include more time with him, to organize my thoughts and feelings and align them with his truth. Then the heat comes on in the middle of my prayer time and that stench demanded my attention. It drew me away from bringing an offering of worship and coming into his courts, as the Psalmist describes. In the midst of my acknowledging this self-created distance, recognizing my resistance to his probing, the heat comes on and . . .

God gave me a glimpse not only into the distance between my offering of stench and the sweet aroma he desires, but the stench has power to distract me from being fully present with him.

What’s your stench? Do you need to do some house cleaning? Do you need to call a professional? Do you need some extended alone time with God? Here’s what I know about stenches, sure they ultimately go away, but the place the rodents get in needs to be fixed so the problem does not continue. Ignoring God’s probing, even denying or delaying may feel safer or easier but stench cannot product the sweet aroma of entering his courts with an offering of praise and worship.

There is a great opportunity coming up here in the Central Valley for just such a day. He has faithfully met me each time I intentionally set this time aside.  Check out, Press Pause Ministries “Be Still” Day Retreat, February 6, 2016, 9 AM-4 PM, 5153 Santa Fe Ave. Oakdale CA 95361-8251.  . If you not in the area, there are great resources on Jon’s website to create your own unhurried day to be alone with God.

Another great resource for identifying your stench is Andy Stanley’s Book, Enemies of the Heart, Breaking Free from the Four Emotions that Control You.

Happy house cleaning . . . .


Stench or Aroma?