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Monday, October 1, 2007

SEND Conference Table Arrangement
A Fall Basket Arrangement Dorothy Schmidt prepared 

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"A Spiritual Aroma"

"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. And who is equal to such a task?"  (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

We have a beautiful autumn day here in rural Pennsylvania and as I walked outside early this morning I was met by the strongest chocolate scent I recall for a long time. Mount Joy has a plant that produces chocolate for the candy industry and periodically, when wind conditions are just right, it wafts right over to our country lane. That sure beats some of the other farm odors we periodically experience!

This weekend we were at a conference on the New Jersey shore. Saturday evening we stayed with our friends Jim and Dorothy Schmidt. Through the night an intense odor developed that smelled like a faulty septic system and it awakened Brooksyne and me.  After the smell lingered awhile Brooksyne suggested that I shut the window, but the odor seemed to increase and I wondered if it might be coming up through their basement.

We debated as to whether we should say anything as we discussed the problem. If they don't smell the stench our suggestion of a foul odor might embarrass or even worse offend them, but on the other hand perhaps we needed to alert them to a problem they might be unaware of.

As I visited with Jim over coffee I decided to carefully bring it up. Jim started laughing and quickly called his wife Dorothy. I wondered, "Oh no, what have I done now.  We'll never be invited to stay here again." Jim explained, "Because we live next to the Bay, at low tide with the right wind conditions, this is a 'normal' recurring odor." As we took an early walk yesterday morning with Pal, Jim's dog, I again noted the odor and chuckled about our faulty conclusion earlier. 

Jesus calls us to be "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). Recall with me the old children's song "This little light of mine." I hope that you let His light shine through your life today.  

But did you know that we as Christ's followers are also emitting a fragrance?  Paul uses a rather unusual metaphor in our daily text to describe this aspect of ministry. "God … through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him."

God has ordained that His people spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.  The Greek word for fragrance is "osme" and is the same word used when Mary washed our Lord's feet with expensive perfume and the fragrance filled the house. 

This fragrance is detectable to both the saved and the unsaved. However their reactions are entirely different.  To the unsaved we are the stench of death, to the saved we are the fragrance of life.  This contrast is similar to a theme found in John 3 regarding reactions to light.  Some love spiritual light, others hate it.

I'm intrigued by Paul's closing question to this thought; "And who is equal to such a task?"  He was aware of the awesome responsibilities that this placed upon himself and other believers. 

Today, I urge you to spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. May this fragrance be pleasing to God and release the fragrance of life to many!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer – God, I am thankful for the sense of smell.  Depending on what I am smelling it can bring about a pleasant response where I just want to linger taking in more and more of the pleasing scent.  Today, I pray that the spiritual fruit from my life would emit such an aroma.  First, I want to offer to You the sweet smelling sacrifice of a life that is completely surrendered to You.  Secondly, I pray that those whom I see today would find interaction with me to be a very uplifting part of their day.  May I bring encouragement through pleasant conversation and by taking a personal interest in others.  May the fruit of my labor be helpful and pleasing to those whom I work alongside today.  Safeguard my lips from bitter complaining and destructive gossip.  Lord, keep me mindful throughout this day that I am to You the aroma of Christ.  You've entrusted a great deal to me so I will rely on You to bring about divine appointments throughout my day.  In Jesus' name I pray.  Amen.

Note from Brooksyne: The chocolate smells are the most pleasant aroma around here and sometimes it is extremely hard to resist picking up a chocolate candy bar when you get such a strong whiff as you're about to enter a store in Mount Joy.  Sometimes the air smells just like a fresh batch of chocolate fudge just waiting to be sampled from  Wilbur Chocolate Factory, which makes the chocolate that goes into such fine candies as Godiva.  When you go to our neighboring town, Elizabethtown, you get the smell of chocolate from M&M/Mars Factory.  And Hershey is only about 14 miles from here!  Some might think this is Chocolate Heaven around here.  The good part is that calories don't add up when you're only inhaling the succulent scent of chocolate.   This is one instance where "inhaling" is a good thing to do!

Some photos of our weekend experience.
(More tomorrow)

Jim and Dorothy Schmidt
We first met Jim and Dorothy Schmidt about 8 years ago when we were at a large ministry conference together in Boston Massachusetts. We had an exhibit for Daily Encouragement Net and they were at an exhibit for SEND International, a mission agency, right next to us. Through the conference we shared together and made a friendship. They are delightful couple with a remarkable testimony I hope to share sometime here on Daily Encouragement Net. They've been married 52 years and I want to share a funny moment from the conference this last weekend. I called Jim over to have this photo taken at our exhibit and Dorothy was at the registration table. Jim called over to her, "Hon, come over here, Steve wants to take our picture." A rather attractive college girl was near the registration table and looked up and thought he meant her and started to walk over. Very, very quickly Jim clarified who he meant by "Hon"!

Ed Berkey
Edward Berkey, my district superintendant when we first moved to New England in 1993, dropped by to greet us and visit awhile. Pastor Berkey retired in 1997 and now lives part of the year in Ocean City, New Jersey. What a blessing to see him after ten years. I am holding a powerful and practical book he gave me titled, "Tools for the Pastor's Office." He wrote the book following his retirement to assist pastors in their ministry. It has many helpful tools I wish I'd had early on while pastoring.  The book is available here.

Taunton Massachusetts installation
Here's a photo of Superintendent Berkey installing me as Pastor in Taunton, Massachusetts in 1993. I served this congregation till early 2001 when we moved to the Lancaster, PA area.

Today's suggested music:
My Offering by Paul Baloche (Audio)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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