Thursday, June 16, 2011

Making Scents

PRINCIPLE: “When you come to a scent-free zone, use your scents.”

While attending a conference a few weeks ago I chatted with a fellow pastor from Canada. After we chatted awhile he mentioned he was having a little trouble because his sinuses were acting up. As I offered some pastoral responses (in my good old Stephen’s mold) he went on to explain that he was allergic to most perfumes, colognes, etc. He was bemoaning the fact that he was not back home because where he lived in Canada they have ‘scent free zones.’ Even some elevators and busses are scent free. Having never heard of such a thing I was stunned. He explained that Canadian law had stepped up to protect those with his type of allergies. While you and I might think no scents makes no sense, to him – and I’m sure to many others – it was a blessing.

The next day, another pastor who had sat at our table during that conversation chatted with me again. She and I were expressing sympathy for people with such allergies but also amazement that the law could actually go as far as to ban scents. One the one hand the law is protecting some from danger but it is also restricting others in their freedoms. I mean, isn’t there some medication for such allergies? Why penalize us who are healthy? We wondered where such laws might end if all allergies led to prohibitive laws. It’s a difficult balance. As I have thought about those conversations today’s principle came to mind: “When you come to a scent-free zone, use your scents.”

Paul wrote (2 Cor. 2:14-16) “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” Paul knew that Christians have an odor. Some are allergic to it – it is the aroma of death. Some are drawn to the aroma and to them it is new life. But for Paul there was no difficult balance – he urged us to spread the scent. This is especially true when we are among people, or in places where there is no Christly aroma – a scent free zone. “When you come to a scent-free zone, use your scents.” It’s the only thing that makes sense. Whereas people do not choose their physical allergies, reaction to the scent of Christ is a personal choice. People must smell Jesus so they can have a choice of life or death. They must smell the aroma. So “When you come to a scent-free zone, use your scents.” Each person who picks up your scent will determine whether or not they have an deadly allergy.

Well, it’s brief but that’s my two cents worth. I hope it makes sense. “When you come to a scent-free zone, use your scents.”

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hugs


PRINCIPLE: “Hugs are not just for kids.”

The first church I was privileged to serve was in Sioux Center, Iowa. We lived one long block, downhill from the church. At the time we had one son, who was 3 years old. Often, weather permitting, I would walk to and from church. I have such fond memories of walking home! Our son, if he knew I was on the way, stood at the front door until I got close, then would run outside, arms outstretched, to greet me. Then it was one big hug. I’m sure you know the feeling. There’s nothing warmer, more exciting, more loving than that.

And why did my son do that? He was glad to see me; he loved me; he wanted to be with me. And he knew he’d get a big hug in return. And we both felt good! Maybe that’s why I still like to hug my bos (and grandkids – but that’s another story for another time!)

I thought of that scene the other day as I was thinking about my relationship with Jesus. Do I approach Him the way my so approached me? Am I that glad to meet with Him?  Do I love Him that much? Do I want to be with Him that badly? Then it hit me – if a hug between me and my son meant so much to both of us, wouldn’t it be the same hugging Jesus? That’s when it hit me - “Hugs are not just for kids.” It’s okay to hug adults, to hug anyone we love. It’s okay, then, to hug Jesus. “Hugs are not just for kids.”

So why am I so formal when I approach Jesus? I sit down in a comfortable place, make sure I have my Bible, my devotional, a pen or pencil, and some prayer notes. Then I begin. But am I really glad to be meeting with Him? Am I excited about the opportunity? Shouldn’t I bounce out of bed each morning ready to run out and hug Jesus? Shouldn’t I go to bed each night only after hugging Jesus? Could there be anything warmer, more exciting, more loving than that? Wouldn’t it make us both feel good? “Hugs are not just for kids.”

I admit I’m not sure what ‘running out and hugging Jesus’ looks like. But I’m doing an attitude check as I try to figure it out. I encourage you to do the same. “Hugs are not just for kids.” Why not give your kids an extra hug today (or when you see them next) – and experience the exhilaration it brings. Then hug Jesus  - whatever it looks like for you.