Glorious Stench

John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45:

The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,  “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.


Our sense of smell is a wonderful sense that enhances so much of what we do.  Some things smell “good” to some folks and “awful” to others – e.g. the smell of a farm’s freshly-spread manure, the odor around a paper manufacturing facility, a baby’s dirty diaper (our baby’s dirty diaper versus someone else’s baby’s diaper).  When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, it must have smelled awful to most – but, I don’t think that it smelled anything less than Glorious to Martha and Mary.  Martha and Mary Believed and confessed as much directly to Jesus in the Gospels.  Jesus is always willing to do Miracles, but, like when He visited His hometown of Nazareth during His earthly Ministry, He is often looking for our Belief before “the big Show”.  Unfortunately, too many of us are way too proud to humble ourselves before God and Jesus and admit that we Believe in Them and that we need Them both.  When pride gets in the way of Faith, things start to smell “awful”; like they did in Heaven when lucifer decided to rebel with a third of the Angels in Heaven against God.  At times, life stinks, but, if we stay humbled and focused in Him, we’ll start to see at least some of the Bigger Picture that He is painting in our lives.  By so doing, we might even come to find some of the “stenches” in our lives as Glorious, too.

Asking for Directions

John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38:

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is, ” but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.


There is a stereotype that men are less likely to ask for driving directions when they are lost while driving their vehicles.  Whether or not we believe this stereotype, it’s actually “true” across the board (for both men and women) when it comes to our Spirituality.  Nobody on this side of Heaven completely-trusts every sign that they receive from God – because, we sll get signs from Him each and every moment of each and every day (whether or not we believe that and/or Believe in Him).  The folks during Jesus’ earthly Ministry had a hard time Believing in “that Carpenter’s Kid from Nazareth” even when he was healing all kinds of things and all kinds of people – including raising people from the dead.  No matter how many Signs Jesus did right in front of them, they just wouldn’t Believe in Him.  It was no different in Moses’ day and it’s no different today.  There is so much historical, scientific, geological, archeological, astrological, scientific, etc. evidence for everything in the Bible, and, still, billions of folks refuse to Believe in It and/or in Him.  What’s worse is that most who choose not to Believe in Him don’t ever read the Good News (only found in the Bible) for themselves.  It’s the equivalent of saying a movie is really “bad” without ever having watched it.  So, when we find ourselves not Believing, we simply need to humble ourselves, stop what we’re doing, and “ask Him for directions”.  Jesus has promised to “light the Way” through Him to Where we all truly-want to go.

Crazy or God

John 4:5-15, 19-26, 39, 40-42:

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” —For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.— Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water. “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.” Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him. When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”


A lot of people say that Jesus was a “Good Teacher”, a “Prophet”, a “Wiseman”, etc., but many don’t acknowledge Him as God.  But Jesus couldn’t possibly be just any of those things given that He claimed to be God.  A “Good Teacher” wouldn’t lie to His students.  A “Prophet” wouldn’t tell false prophesies.  And, a “Wiseman” would be considered a fool (or worse) for making irrational claims.  But that’s what Jesus did.  He made what seemed to many people lots of irrational claims.  In fact, those same irrational claims got Him crucified by His very own people.  Many other religions and religious leaders acknowledge that Jesus was “special”, but unless we stand with Jesus on His claims to be One with the Almighty, He wouldn’t be very “special” to us at all.  If we claim to be a part of God, the world considers us crazy – just as it did with Jesus.  But we are all made in the Image of God and, for those Baptized in Christ, we have the Power of the Holy Spirit coursing through our Souls.  So, as we strive to be Holy like Jesus, we should get comfortable with the “craziness” that the world prescribes on those that follow Christ.  Remember, the world first labeled the early Believers as “Christians” as they were “turning the world upside down” (per Acts 17:6).  The world continues to label us even today – as “racists”, “antisemites”, “radical traditional Catholics”, “Evangelical domestic terrorists”, etc.  So, why worry?  Let’s embrace the “crazy” and love recklessly.  For, as One Body in Christ, the Universal Church today (made-up of all Christian Denominations) is the most diverse (race, ethnicity, age, gender), pro-Jewish (we Pray to the King of the Jews), and “radically-inclined” Group of folks the world has ever seen.  And, that “frightens” the world into kicking and screaming at us as we continue to shine our Lights into the darkness in Spirits of Love.  Shine on…

Listen to Him

Matthew 17:1-9:

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”


It’s frightening to realize how many of us refuse to listen to Jesus – or, better said, refuse to hear Him. Is it any wonder that our world is fallen and falling ever further when statistically more and more people are turning away from Him – and ever further away from His Word? For those of us that think we have a better answer for us (the Creation) than what He (the Creator) has planned for us, how can that possibly be? It’s like driving a car backwards on a freeway – we would be deliberately ignoring the owner’s manual, the laws of the roads, etc. if we did so. It all comes down to this – Listening to Him is the only option worth striving for. What would the downside be of living a life built upon the Golden Rule? If we find ourselves kicking and screaming like a toddler on the floor rather than listening to our Eternal Father, it’s time to cut it out and start growing-up in Christ. I guarantee that we’re all running out of time and there’s no better time than now to “repent and sin no more”.

Get Out

Matthew 4:1-11:

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.


Many folks are intimidated by the devil.  Like he has some mysterious power over all of us.  That’s just not true – in fact, the only power that satan has over us is the power that we give to him.  While we can give him that power over us directly, of course, we usually give it to him indirectly by surrendering like Eve did in the Garden to his temptations.  If we simply-tell satan to “get out”, he literally has to leave us.  If you don’t believe that, see what Jesus, the Son of God, did in the desert during his 40 days of fasting and temptation.  He tells satan, “Get away” and then “the devil left him” and He was Ministered to by Angels from Heaven.  So, if we’re feeling we need to rid ourselves of satan and his diabolical temptations designed to send us eternally to hell, let’s do our best to follow Jesus’ example.  For if we resist the devil via Jesus Christ’s Promise, the devil will flee from us (see James 4:7).

Second Mile Service

Matthew 5:38-48:

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”


In ancient Roman times, it was quite common for a Roman Centurion to require one of Rome’s loyal-subjects (e.g. the Jews in Jesus’ time) to carry their bag or related items for one full mile. Think about it, you’re on the side of the road on your way to an engagement and a Roman soldier asks you to go a mile back in the direction that you were traveling from just to carry their bag for them. That sounds pretty awful in my opinion; but that’s just how it was in first century Israel. So, how much worse did Jesus’ suggestion about going a “second mile” sound to first century Jews? But here’s the thing. Jesus knew that “second mile service” would catch people’s attention. They would probably ask things like “why” would this person do this for me and “who” is this person? The impact would be tremendous. Think of it like this, when we go somewhere and are treated with great service, we tend to go back to that same place for that same service. We also tend to tell others about the service we received. You see, in the early days of Christianity, the Gospel was not spread by written Gospel accounts – in fact, many early Christian converts could not even read and the first Bible wasn’t even printed until 1455 (or so). The Gospel (the Good News) was spread by “acts”. Jesus was so popular because of His Acts and what He Promised through a relationship with God. We even have an entire Book in the Bible called “Acts”. Pliny the Younger, a Roman Senator and Governor of Bithynia-Pontus who lived from 62-115 A.D., couldn’t believe that two Egyptian slave women refused to denounce their Faith in Jesus Christ; even while they were being tortured to death. He said so in a letter that he wrote during his reign. These two women are just two of the millions, billions, trillions, plus of the nearly countless examples of Servant Leadership; or, as Jesus put it, “Second Mile Service”. So, when we find ourselves with the opportunity to Serve God (in others), we must remember that, even if we’re tired, running late, or just not in the mood, any type of Second Mile Service will be noticed by others (even if we don’t know that they’re noticing). Great Friends of mine were “floored” when over 20 years later they ran into their two Son’s childhood babysitter and she shared that their Marriage inspired her to be a good Wife, Mother, and Christian; they had no idea that she had even noticed nor had she said anything to them in her earlier years. St. Francis of Assisi famously-quoted, “Preach the Gospel always, if necessary, use words”. So, let’s do our best to make “wordless” Evangelization a core component of our lives – for even if the world misses our Good Deeds, God never misses one of them.

Eternal Banking

Matthew 5:20-22, 27-28, 33-34, 37:

Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment. “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. “Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow. But I say to you, do not swear at all. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.”


For many of us, we usually want the Truth when it comes to people’s interactions with us. But that doesn’t always apply to us when we’re interacting with others. We often tell “white lies” or “half-truths” – especially when we are concerned that the Truth might get us in trouble with others, hurt someone’s feelings, and/or have significant consequences. The Truth in the New Testament (NT; Covenant) is not an abolishment of the Old Testament (OT; Covenant). Rather the NT is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, but at much greater depths than the OT peoples thought. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus made it clear that he did not come to “abolish the Law or the Prophets”. Rather He took “Righteousness” to a whole different level – He took it to Perfection in Him. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 start off in a “comfortable way” – for we’ve all been “poor in Spirit”, “mourned”, “meek”, “hunger[ed] and thirst[ed] for Righteousness”, “merciful”, “peacemakers”, and “persecuted and insulted” (to some degree) for our Faith. It’s the “2nd half” of Matthew 5 that’s daunting. Jesus not only Fulfilled the OT in the NT, but He showed us the target (Perfection) that He demands from us even knowing that nobody on earth (besides Him) would ever be able to reach it in our sinful flesh. So, where does that leave us? First and foremost, we need to be in Scripture daily and as often as we can. We need to know the Truth of God’s Word for ourselves. Even when we fall short of Perfection, Jesus is quick to point out that it is in the “Try” that He focuses His gaze upon. To use a metaphor, Eternal Salvation is like borrowing from God our time (lives) on earth like when we borrow money from a bank. We cannot settle our “earthly debts” until we have “paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:26). If we aren’t Good Stewards and don’t know the terms and conditions, PIN number, and/or account number on our bank accounts (earthly works), how are we to be Good Stewards of our accounts (time on earth) with the Eternal Banker (God) – e.g. take any money out (sins), make any deposits (Good Deeds), and/or settle our accounts (earthly works)? It’s time we all agree that even while the Truth in our Terms and Conditions from God (found in the Bible) are tough, they are not impossible. In Matthew 19:26, Jesus goes on to comfort us by saying, “with God all things are possible”. So, let’s do our best to manage our Spiritual Accounts here on earth the best that we can – repenting to God when we make mistakes and doing our best to grow our Accounts in Him. He is a Just Judge and will settle our Accounts justly when we reach the Other Side.

Getting Out of Our Caves

Matthew 5:13-16:

Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”


Early Christians were almost forced to hide in caves due to the tremendous persecution of Christians through 303 A.D. Today, many Christians around the world still need to “hide” due to persecution – often led by their own governments. Most modern-day Christians are not physically-persecuted in their own countries, but we are all being persecuted in other ways by the world’s popular culture and woke corporations, governments, and organizations. While most of us aren’t physically-injured, imprisoned, and/or killed for our Christian Faiths, the reality of today’s world is that we are going to be persecuted for evangelizing for Jesus Christ as Jesus Promised us in John 15:21. And, yet still, His “ask” of us to be the “salt of the earth” and “lights of the world” – we are to let our “lights” (our Faith) shine before all others. Does that mean we need to be on street corners calling for repentance for the Kingdom of God is at hand – like Jesus Christ, St. John the Baptist, and many Others have done? Maybe. Street Corner evangelization can seem daunting for those who either aren’t comfortable with that kind of approach or aren’t “that on Fire” for God and His Word. But, St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the Gospel always, and, if necessary, use words.” This goes right to the heart of what Jesus was saying in the Gospel – we are to preach the Gospel however the Lord leads us to. As Jesus said, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.” The consequences in this world are almost trivial when compared to the Infinite prospect of Eternity. For no “good deed” will go unnoticed by Him even if it seems to go unnoticed by “them”.


Matthew 5:1-12:

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”


Are we Blessed? This is a question many of us ponder – especially in some of the darkest and most challenging times when we feel anything, but Blessed. Here’s the thing – at some point in this world, everyone has been “poor in spirit”, has “mourned”, has felt and/or been “meek”, has “hungered and thirsted”, has been “merciful, has been “clean of heart”, has been a “peacemaker”, and has been “persecuted” and “insulted” for doing the Right thing. But, not of that is our fault – it is our choice by our free will to follow Jesus that gets us “falsely-accused/persecuted” all because of “Him [Me]”. Jesus knows that He picked a fight with this world when He chose to come in the flesh and roam Israel. That was His choice. We must remember that loving Him will cost us everything in this world, but we must also remember that loving Him will also bring us “great rewards” in the World to come – Heaven. So, let’s be sure to Choose Him in all areas of our lives for, by doing so, we are already Blessed in God.

A Call from Galilee

Matthew 4:12-17:

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.


All of the Apostles were from were from Galilee.  Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem (in Judah), but raised in Nazareth, was from Galilee, as well.  St. John the Baptist was born in Judah and Baptized there.  When Jesus came to St. John the Baptist to be Baptized, he left Galilee to do so.  The irony is that Galilee, beyond the Jordan, was known as the Galilee of the Gentiles.  Jesus began to Preach there, telling all to “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”  The fact is that the King of the Jews (Jesus) spent a lot of His Ministry time on earth with the Gentiles.  Many Biblical scholars point to the Apostles and St. Paul who Ministered to the Gentiles, but it was Jesus who first preached to the Gentiles in Galilee.  Galilee is infamous for the amount of Miracles that Jesus performed while there – including Miracles performed for Gentiles (e.g. the woman with the bleeding sore, the centurion with the ailing servant).  But, it had to be this way, because it was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah, “Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.”  It’s sometimes easy to become overly-focused in modern times on the New Testament, but like many great movies, you can’t have the “sequel” (the NT) without the “original” (the Old Testament).  If we find ourselves wandering away from the OT, we should make time with the Lord to read it (again or for the first time).  God’s entire Salvation Story was foretold within the OT and can, at times, be a sobering reminder of God’s Love, but also of His Expectations of those who profess that they love Him.  As Jesus declared in Matthew 7:22-23, “Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.”  So, let’s remember the Whole Story (OT+NT) and do our best to Love God in our actions and efforts, as well as in our hearts; and, to “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

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