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Monday, December 3, 2012

Church at the Grove church bell ringing
Yesterday we shared about our ministry at a new church plant where our friend Paul Hand serves as a co-pastor. Ester and several of the young people participated in ringing the church bell at the start of the service way up in the belfry. Pastor Paul is standing in the background.

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"The Fragrance Of Life"

"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…"  (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

Mushroom soupWe had a busy day yesterday beginning with a church service near Reading PA to a hospital call in Wilmington DE. On the way home last night we had dinner with our friends, Mark and Carolyn Pulliam in Southern Chester County, PA. This area is famous for growing mushrooms which we both really enjoy; on salads, in omelets, in soup, fried with onions, garlic and other such tasty, aromatic combinations.

However we experience a temporary aversion to mushrooms when passing through that area of Pennsylvania/Delaware due to the reeking odor that wafts in the air from the mushroom growing houses. Last night it was particularly bad due to the humidity when we stepped out of the Perkins restaurant following our dinner. We were practically overcome by the heavy stench in the air!

Smelling is one of our five senses that we engage by inhaling air carrying airborne molecules of a substance.  Our scent detector comes from the olfactory gland which draws us to pleasant aromas such as bread baking in the oven, a freshly cut rose, fragrant scented candles, and on and on the list goes.

Words that describe smells such as pee-yew, reek, stench or putrid are the unwelcome situations most all of us seek to avoid by pinching our nostrils and breathing through our mouth in brief intervals (just to stay alive).

On the other hand words such as aromatic, fragrance, or perfume invite us to inhale deeply in hopes that the pleasant smell will linger. Around here we especially enjoy those days when the winds from Mount Joy send a wonderful aroma from the chocolate factory. On the other hand we sure can do without the stench of manure fertilizer on the fields (especially during the picnic season)!

Likewise, Paul describes contrasting scents in today's text; "to the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life." The smell of a decaying rat is extremely offensive to my sensory glands (never mind the visual image), but to the hawk its scent is much like succulent sirloin steak sizzling on the grill!

The Gospel of Christ appeals to some and to others it is blatantly offensive. The message of the gospel is to be released in the world through the transmission of God's Word and through our Christian testimonies. It should always be sweet-smelling to God and to those who are being saved. But some are repulsed by our "fragrance of life" because they have chosen the spiritual "smell of death." They have chosen the temporal thrills of this present life over the eternal existence of life in heaven.

Paul is thanking "God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ" which is imagery of the Roman triumphal procession. The victorious Roman general would lead his soldiers and the captives they had taken in festive procession, while the people watched and applauded as the air was filled with the sweet smell released by the cloud of spice-filled incense in the streets. To the victors the aroma was sweet but to the captives in the parade it was the smell of slavery and death.

We, as believers, are called to spiritual warfare and we are triumphantly led by God through Christ Jesus. Left to our own frailties we could not spread the fragrance of life, but it is through the power of God that we spread the "fragrance of life" everywhere we go.

Whether you're in your own home, the workplace, a store, visiting a hospital or a prison, may the fragrance of Christ be released through your words, attitudes and actions. May others want to linger and take in the life-giving "aroma of Christ."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we thank You for our five senses of seeing, tasting, touching, hearing, and smelling that are essential to our lives as we gather and disseminate information from our sensory glands. As we interact with others today we want to release the aroma of Christ as the Holy Spirit makes us adequate for the task before us. We choose to focus on what You can do through us, not on what we do in our own strength. May others look beyond our physical inadequacies as they breathe in the spiritual fragrance of Christ, as His sweet presence is released through our endeavors. It is in Jesus' name that we pray. Amen.

Church at the Grove belfry stairwell
A photo of the narrow stairway leading to the belfry at the church yesterday. It was a challenge to navigate; the low door heighth, the extreme slope, and the high, narrow steps!

Mark and Carolyn Pulliam 12/2/12
Catching up on family news with Mark and Carolyn Pulliam

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"I Love You Lord"  Video  Kristina Hamilton  Finding a song dealing with being as the fragrance of Christ was difficult. Any ideas?  Brooksyne suggests this chorus regarding our expression of love to the Lord using another one of our senses "Let it be a sweet sound in Your ears".

"Living Sacrifice"  Video  Chris Christian

"Lord Prepare Me To Be A Sanctuary"  Video  Randy Rothwell

"Mall Christmas Praise"  Video  My sister Genelle shared this beautiful video she found of a group singing in a mall
. The last song, O Holy Night, really captures your heart.

Several years ago we went to the Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square and there are several photos with this message.

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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Ministry Update  (Revised 10/12)

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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