Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, wisdom

A Tale of Two Candles

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God.” 2 Timothy 4:6a

They were only two candles…but they had a story to tell.  My job is talking.  Well, maybe, hopefully, it is more than that…it is teaching and sometimes preaching.  You remember preaching, don’t you?  That is that thing your parents did to you a lot when you were fifteen going on sixteen.  Well, when I am talking, or teaching, or preaching, it is important that I try to hold the people’s attention and get truth across in a way that is easy to understand.  Jesus did that and I am definitely partial to Him and how He did things.

Recently, when I was teaching, I was talking about the fact that each of us has one life, and it is important we figure out how we want to spend it. Paul, the one in the Bible, said it like this, “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God.” He was simply saying the one life he had was one he wanted to spend pleasing God.  At our church we like to say we want to spend our lives loving God and loving people.  Pretty simple, isn’t it?  To illustrate the point, I told a story about two candles.  The story is true, but I don’t have to worry about changing the names because the two candles didn’t have one.  It goes like this.

Several years ago, like five or six, my wife Judy and I bought a wall sconce.  It had a place for a candle to sit so we bought a beautiful candle which was yellow and a golden color.  The sides of the candle were carved with long, flowing ridges.  I hung the sconce and then put the candle in its new home.  And there it sat for the next five years…looking nice but never fulfilling its one purpose…to provide light.  Over the years it accumulated a thin layer of dust and the colors slowly faded.  Well, recently, we painted the room where the candle lived and when I took it and the sconce down…for the first time in a long time I took a close look and promptly tossed it in the trash.  It’s life was done and not once did it find its purpose.

Enter candle number two. It was a Saturday morning in late September and fall was in the air.  I was in my home office writing, and I finally opened the door to go downstairs.  Immediately I smelled the aroma of one of our favorite candles.  It is called Leaves and comes from Bath and Body.  Judy and I both love this candle.  I knew at once she had lit one down in the kitchen and the scent of fall had slowly made its way all the way upstairs to where I was standing.  In an instant I felt as if the seasons had changed and it was time to celebrate.

I went downstairs and sure enough there in the kitchen was the three-wick candle burning…allowing itself to be consumed.  And, in that process, two things happened.  First, the candle was fulfilling its destiny.  There would be no life spent on a shelf somewhere for this candle.  Soon, it would be gone…consumed by flame and purpose.  Second, the aroma that the candle gave as it was consumed left a longing and satisfying scent through the house.  For a while, even when the candle was no longer burning, the scent of its purpose filled the room and the house.  Soon, the glass container that held the candle will be empty and discarded but the candle won’t be there…it will have been consumed…with purpose.

I love this story because it challenges me to ask the question, “What candle do I want to be?  Do I want to be the one that stayed safely on the wall slowing dying a purposeless death or be the one that allowed itself to be consumed with purpose…the one that left a sweet aroma even after its own demise? Well, for me at this moment the answer is simple.  I want to live a life of purpose—loving God, and loving people.  I want my memory to bring a sweet aroma into the lives of those who knew me and a smile on the face of my Dearest Daddy.  I hope to hear, I want to hear, “Well done” from the One who made me.

Like Paul, the one in the Bible, I know I haven’t arrived…I still fumble the ball a lot, but that same Dearest Daddy waits to pick me up when I stumble.  I like that too, a lot.  And I’m learning that a lot of the people I bump into are graceful and understanding too.  So, if you’ve found that you are stuck somewhere on a wall, slowing fading and becoming dusty, why not come on down and fulfill your purpose…to live, to love God and people.  You will find it’s a great way to live. Oh, and don’t be afraid of failing.  We all have the confident assurance that no matter what, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

Stinky Feet

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:15

I smelled it as soon as I opened the door.  When God made us, He did a really good job.  In one place His Word says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  In another it says that we are made just a little lower than the angels.  And then at the beginning He says that we are made in His image. Wow…that is all pretty impressive. When God was working on our blueprint, He decided to give us five senses—five ways to interact with our world around us.  Those five senses are touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste.  All five of them are incredible and it is almost impossible to pick one over the other.  For a foodie like me, it would seem that taste would be my number one, but I’m just not sure.

If smell isn’t number one, it certainly is a close second.  Smell enhances our taste and can trigger so many different emotions. Smell can change what is going on in a whole room.  Many years ago, I went through a period when I had—oh, I hate to admit it—stinky feet.  It was bad.  We had some good friends and we were frequently at their house.  To this day, I am in the habit of taking off my shoes when I am in the house.  I think it is a throwback to my Southern genes.  Anyway, when I got to these folks’ house, I would kick my shoes off and what was in the shoes suddenly spread throughout the room.  It wasn’t pretty.  I’m trying to say, it was really bad.

Within minutes, perhaps seconds, moans and groans filled the air along with the atrocious odor. There was an immediate rebellion and demands to stuff my stinky feet back into my shoes.  I had no choice.  The good news is that it turns out there was something about my walk-around, everyday shoes that caused the odor.  When I changed shoes, the offensive odor went with them.  But to this day, I (and maybe you) should be aware that certain things can cause certain reactions—and they are not always good.  But, fortunately sometimes they are.

Enter Bath and Body “Leaves” candles.  You probably know that Bath and Body is famous for several things but their three wick candles are—well, wicked.  And one of our favorite scents is “Leaves.”  It is just the essence of fall.  During this time of the year I can walk into my house after a long day and as soon as I open the door a sense of calm and “all-things-good” just washes over me.  I love it. Try as I may, I can’t describe it—it is just good.  And then it happens.

Slowly, the longer I stay in the area where the candle is, the rich aroma of fall suddenly disappears.  That smell that made me feel so relaxed seems to mysteriously disappear. But wait—don’t lose hope.  If I go back outside, if I go upstairs and come back—it comes back.  Once again, the rich aroma of fall invades my senses and I am changed.  This cycle goes on hour after hour and day after day.  In the mornings, I like another candle in my home office.  It is called Teakwood Mahogany.  It is a man candle. After a few minutes…I smell nothing.  Judy opens the door and comes into my office and is instantly overwhelmed—almost offended—by the strong smell.  Amazing.

The truth is, it can be dangerous.  It isn’t dangerous if it is the scent of a candle, but what if it is the scent of love in your marriage?  What if it is the scent of faith in your Dearest Daddy?  What if it is the scent of contentment—in all things being well? If and when that happens—it becomes dangerous.  When the aroma of life becomes like stinky feet or as bland as an unscented candle—well, it can and will lead down paths that we don’t want or need to take.  Marriages go south, faith downs in fear, and discontentment creeps into every corner of our lives.  At best we become unhappy, but worse, we began to throw away the things most precious to us.  I am certain that in this COVID hot mess some of the things most precious to us have been cast aside like leftover food.  Last night’s spaghetti becomes today’s stinky garbage.  We must beware.

I think, like leaving the room refreshes the aroma, we need to keep moving.  We must avoid becoming stagnate.  You know what happens to a stream that stops flowing don’t you?  It becomes a slimy pit.  So, we need to find ways to keep our marriages, our faith, our contentment, fresh, by stirring our lives with His grace—with His presence. We have to make sure the aroma we are giving off is pleasant and not “stinky feet.”

Paul, one of the Bible writer guys, says, “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.” Well said, Paul, well said. What kind of aroma are you sharing with your family, your church, your workplace, your neighborhood?  Is it the sweet smell of love, faith and contentment, or is it the atrocious odor of self and sin?  I know one of the best things I ever did was ditch those shoes.  Bye, bye stinky feet.  What do we need to get rid of so we won’t be offensive but rather be welcoming?  Nothing smells as sweet in our lives like the aroma of Jesus.  So, sit down, pull off your shoes and rest with Him.  He’s got this.