Archive for September, 2014

Pressed Olives-Pure Oil

In Exodus 27, as the Lord gave Moses instructions for the construction and worship of the Tabernacle, He told Moses to, “command the children of Israel that they bring… pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.”  This oil was to be used for the Menorah, which was placed inside the Tabernacle.  The oil was obtained  by pressing or beating the olives.  One commentary states that this yielded a grade of olive oil that was clear, colorless, and gave off much less smoke than the regular oil that was sometimes used.  In other words, it burned brighter.

Not many of use would choose the press for ourselves, but from time to time God will place us in His press in order to squeeze more and more of the world and self out of us.  We should desire to be emptied of self and filled with the Holy Spirit.  It will not always be a pleasant process, but the result is a grade of oil that is purer than before.  The more pure the oil, the brighter the lamp burns.

The psalmist prayed in the ninety-second Psalm that the Lord would anoint him with fresh oil.  May the oil of the Spirit fill us and may we burn brightly for the glory of God in a world that desperately needs to see His Light.

In Christ’s service,



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The Smell of Ministry

For two summers our oldest daughter worked for a national student ministry that conducted youth conferences across the United States.  One of the conferences she helped with was being held on a college campus in east Tennessee.  Since most of the conferences she worked at were in more distant states, we decided to take the opportunity to visit her.

We arrived on a hot June afternoon just as the group leaders were coming back in from the afternoon recreation time.  As we were all cooling off in a nice air-conditioned room, one of the group leaders wiped the perspiration from her face and exclaimed, “Whew, I smell like ministry!”  I had never heard that phrase before, but I have often thought about it since that day.

Ministry is rarely carried out in a nice, clean, sanitized, sterile, or even safe environment.  Study and meditation may take place in seclusion, but for the most part, ministry happens where the Gospel intersects with flesh and blood, sweat, tears, and even dirt.  Jesus spent much time in the study of God’s Word, in prayer, and in worship at local synagogues, but He also met people where they were in everyday life.  Jesus was not afraid to touch the people to whom He ministered.  He wasn’t afraid to get His hands dirty.  You can be sure that Jesus smelled like ministry.

You may think your current situation stinks.  You may feel like you’re sweating it out dealing with difficult people and with menial duties.  In these moments you need to remember that when you serve the Lord with all your might and with a heart that is filled with a pure love for Him and for others; what is the smell of ministry to you is actually a sweet fragrance of worshipful service to the Lord.

Your fellow smelly servant,


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