What is Aromatherapy? Does it work or does something “smell fishy” about the whole thing? Aromatherapy is practiced by many proponents of alternative and holistic medicine. This is its definition from (wait for it…) aromatherapy.com:
“Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical wellbeing. The inhaled aroma from these ’essential’ oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing. A form of alternative medicine, aromatherapy is gaining momentum. It is used for a variety of applications, including pain relief, mood enhancement and increased cognitive function. There are a wide number of essential oils available, each with its own healing properties.”
Where do I sign up? Aromatherapy is used in body message or just by soaking in a nice warm tub of water and these essential oils. I believe many couples will be enjoying aromatherapy together, not exactly for medicinal purposes, on Valentine’s Day. Whether or not one has a significant other, many can use a good message to loosen tight muscles. I know I would benefit from both the aromas and a nice message to loosen my cerebral palsied muscles, which seem to always be as tight as a drum.
However, when I think of aromatherapy, I think of the non-tactile, strictly olfactory kind. I think of the pure enjoyment of smells. I mentioned this in “Christmas is Finally Making Some ‘Scents!’” I love the smell of food, especially Polish “soul” food, with their mouth-watering aromas coming from the kitchen, especially during the holidays. These aromas take me back to very pleasant childhood memories. Have you ever noticed that a certain smell can take you back to your grandmother’s or mom’s kitchen?
Besides food, I love the smell of lilies on Easter, the fragrance of lilacs in May and roses in June. And, now that I’m a wheelchair user and maturing in age, I love the fine bouquet of “Citrus Mist” (or “Febreze Hawaiian Aloha“) air freshener first thing in the morning. This tells me it’s going to be a good “REGULAR” day, without any unwanted surprises or me having to make a rut between one “office“ (bedroom/computer room) to the other (bathroom).
It’s a toss up between the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and tropical scent of air freshener, as to which I like best. I think both help my cognitive function: One helps me to wake up and the other frees my brain to think of other more important things, such as praying for others, reading, catching up on sports and weather information, and blog writing (not necessarily in that order). Lighting incense or an aroma candle also helps me have a calm peaceful feeling (I do have the incense or candle burning in a safe place, on a flame-resistant surface). And, yes, I do enjoy the bouquet of a fine wine. (If you are ever at a party and are drinking a glass of white wine, especially Pinot Grigio, and want to impress people, just swirl the wine a bit, smell it and say, “Hmm? lychee nuts.” People won’t know what you’re talking about, but they will be definitely impressed!)
Did you ever wonder what God enjoys smelling? This question did not cause me to have sleepless nights, but it is an intriguing question. After all, God created the sense of smell and all the smells we smell to warn us of danger (in the smell of smoke or rotten food, for example) and to enjoy the fragrances of the world He created. He must also enjoy smelling things. I find the answers to many of my questions in the Bible, God’s Word, so that is where I went to and these are some of the answers I found:
“If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, he is guilty. When he is made aware of the sin he committed, he must bring as his offering for the sin he committed a female goat without defect. He is to lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering… [The priest] shall remove all the FAT, just as the FAT is removed from the fellowship offering, and the priest shall BURN IT on the altar as an AROMA PLEASING TO THE LORD. In this way the priest will make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven” (Leviticus 4:27-29, 31)
God likes the smell of grilled fat! Who doesn’t? Remember last summer when you or your neighbors were cooking steaks on the grill? Remember driving by a burger joint and smelling the burgers and French fries? Isn’t your mouth watering right about now? Grilled, crispy, succulent fat lining a perfectly gilled porterhouse steak with just the right amount of marbling – there’s nothing else that makes my taste buds dance more!
The burnt offerings made in Old Testament times, no matter how succulently delicious they smelled, were imperfect sacrifices for sin, because the priests would have to perform the same sacrifices over and over and over again. BUT God had a better plan:
“If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come – one in the order of Melchizedek [a Forever Priest], not in the order of Aaron [temporary priesthood]?…The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect, and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God…Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent Priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He intercedes for them. Such A High Priest meets our need – One who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of his people. He sacrificed for their sins ONCE FOR ALL WHEN HE SACRIFICED HIMSELF. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever” (Hebrews 7:11, 18, 23-28).
Because Jesus, our High Priest, offered the perfect sacrifice by dying on the cross for our sins, there is no longer any need to sacrifice animals. Instead, we offer ourselves to God as a “living sacrifice“ made perfect by His Son.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers [and sisters] in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as LIVING SACRIFICES, holy and PLEASING TO GOD – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-3).
Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross – “He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9b) – we who believe and trust Him have been forgiven of all our sins – “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He LAVISHED on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7-8). Because of Jesus we can bring His “fragrance” to everyone we meet:
“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” (II Corinthians 2:16a)
Many will see the joy we have in Christ and want to know more about where our joy comes from. But, others will not understand how we can be so joyful, even in the midst of our struggles. Sadly, they would rather die than change their way of life. II Corinthians 2:16a does not mean that we are to be argumentative or obnoxious to the people who do not accept Christ. Instead, we are to be a “breath of fresh air” as we love God and one another and “love [our] neighbor as ourselves” (Mark 12:33). This is the greatest witness:
“’To love [God] with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices,’ When Jesus saw that [one of the teachers of the law] had answered wisely, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’” (Mark 12:33-34a)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34).
(In reading the two Scriptures above, it’s very difficult for me to understand why Jesus’ present-day disciples would ever want to join a picked line carrying signs that say, “God hates [you].” In the way I read Jesus’ teachings and see how He loved those others hated, this just does not make any sense to me. In fact, I think it really STINKS.)
When we are living sacrifices to the Lord by having His love rule our lives, even our prayers smell good to Him!
“Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, together with the PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS, went up before God from the angel’s hand” (Revelation 8:3-4).
(A saint is a sinner saved by God‘s grace.)
An Example of a “Stinky” Prayer:
“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men -robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get’” (Luke 18:11-12).
An Example of a “FRAGRENT INCENSE” Prayer:
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
God loves to smell and hear the prayers of the humble. He delights in the prayers and praises of those who are humble and know they need Him for every breath they take. They will be rewarded.
“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17)
“For the LORD takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds” (Psalm 149:4-5).
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
So far, we have looked at aromatherapy in relation to how it benefits us. Also, we have looked at the aromas and fragrances that please God. We have discovered the smells that make God smile and bring us closer into an intimate relationship with our Creator – the One who excites all our senses. Now, we need to talk about the things that do not please God so much, in order to grow and become more sensitive to the things to avoid and really “stink” to God. James goes on to say this:
“Brothers [and sisters], do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only One Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy, But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12).
The Book of Proverbs gives a list of things God hates and are a stench to Him:
“There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to Him:
Haughty eyes, A LYING TONGUE,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
A FALSE WITNESS WHO POURS OUT LIES
AND A MAN [OR WOMAN] WHO STIRS UP
DISSENSION AMONG BROTHERS [AND SISTER]”
. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Both James 4:11-12 and the capitalized verses in Proverbs 6:16-19 talk about slander, lying and gossip. This past December, my pastor challenged the whole church body to make a real effort to stop gossiping. We all do it. It is so easy to gossip and even easier to listen to gossip. How do we “C’mon man! STOP IT!”? Something to “tackle” next time.
May the Peace of Christ Be with Us, All,
HAPPY TRUCK DAY! Tomorrow (2/8/14) the RED SOX equipment truck leaves Fenway, bright and early, for SPRING TRAINING!