Checking Levels

Keeping an eye on levels is important business. Checking fluid levels in our vehicles is especially important. Just try not doing it and see what happens. Sooner or later we’ll pay for our negligence.

Because my hubby has always taken care of car maintenance issues, I have to admit the only fluid level I keep an eye on is the gas. I don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road and have to go through the humiliation and hassle of trying to find gas for my car. And in today’s world, it’s just too dangerous to risk being easy pickings for some unsavory character who might happen along.

Don keeps an eye on the other levels in our car, though. Not only does he make sure we get regular oil changes, he checks other fluid levels before I take off on out-of-town trips. He doesn’t want me to have unexpected trouble because of low oil, antifreeze, or transmission fluids—and neither do I! I’m thankful he’s watching out for me. Without him, I’d have to get educated on car maintenance in a hurry or pay the price through some painful and likely expensive lessons.

Keeping levels in an appropriate range is vital in other areas of our lives as well. That’s why the doctor orders blood tests and makes us get on the scale when we go to see him for our annual check-ups. That’s why others test our drinking water, soil, and air quality. And let’s not forget the levels of expertise that must be met to qualify for most jobs. When you think about it, levels are important in almost everything.

What about our spiritual lives? Any levels there that need to be examined periodically? Sure. If we fail to feed on the Word of God or neglect our time with him in prayer, we’ll soon find ourselves spiritually parched or feeling distanced from him. Our hearts may even grow hard.

What about the level of love in our lives? What’s the motive behind our worship, our confession of sin, and our acts of service? Another level to keep an eye on is the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. How well are these qualities being displayed in our lives?

Let’s not neglect to keep an eye on our levels—spiritual levels included. We don’t want to find ourselves sidelined or distanced from our heavenly Father. We don’t want to be easy pickings for our unsavory Enemy. Let’s not find ourselves paying for our negligence. Let’s stay watchful. Let’s check our levels.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

 *The next issue of Life Notes, my inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in each quarterly issue , comes out next week. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (To be included in this issue’s giveaway draw, you must sign up by noon on Saturday Apr. 29.)

*Flickr photo by Pat Hawks, Creative Commons License

Meeting a Problem Head-On

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’” John 18:4 NIV

With Easter still fresh on our minds today, let’s take a look at one of the lessons we can learn from the age-old story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Many insights and truths can be drawn from this dramatic real-life event, but let’s focus today on how Jesus handled a problem that came looking for him on that dark night before his crucifixion.

When confronted with the most dreaded and excruciating hours of his life, what did Jesus do? He met the ordeal head-on. Scripture tells us that while Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane—after eating his last Passover meal with his disciples and after spending time in agonizing prayer—some soldiers and religious officials led by Judas came looking for him.

Since Jesus knew all that was about to happen, he could have handled the situation in a number of ways. As soon as the threat was spotted, he could have run for his life and told his disciples to do the same. Or he could have had the disciples stay and cause a delay while he made his getaway. Or since it was nighttime, he might have even told everyone to hide.

But Jesus didn’t do any of those things. Instead, he summoned his courage and went out to meet the threat. He told them he was the one they were looking for. Then he tried to protect his disciples by asking that they be let go. When one of the disciples drew his sword and began to put up a fight, Jesus stopped him and said, “‘Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’” (v. 11) Yes, he was ready to meet the life and death challenge head-on.

How was he able to do this? Love for us. His desire to pay the price for our sins and offer us eternal life instead. Also love for his Father and his commitment to do the Father’s will. And I’m sure he gained strength from the Father during his Garden of Gethsemane prayer time. We’re told in the scriptures that an angel even came and strengthened him there (Luke 22:43.) All of these things combined helped Jesus face his moment of truth.

Are any of us faced with an overwhelming situation? Let’s take strength from the example of Jesus and from the strength God so willingly gives and then go out and meet the challenge head-on. Let’s drink the cup the Father has given us. Let’s bring glory to his name.

“‘The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.’” Exodus 15:2

*When has God given you strength to face a dreaded ordeal?

The next issue of Life Notes, my inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in each quarterly issue, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by TimOve, Creative Commons License

Our Savior’s Prayers

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For the next few days, as we meditate on our beautiful Savior and on all he did for us through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave, let’s consider some prayers he prayed during the last hours before his crucifixion. While you read these prayers of Jesus, ask the Holy Spirit to help you apply them to your own personal life.

 “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.’” John 17:1

 “‘My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one . . . Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth . . . May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.’” John 17:15, 17, 23

 “‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” Matthew 26:39

 “Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’” Luke 23:34

 “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice…’My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” Mark 15:34

 “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’” Luke 23:46

 Won’t you join me this Easter in committing our lives into the Father’s hands? A blessed Easter to all!

*Which of these prayers of Jesus most resonated with you today?

*I hope this encore post from April 2011 blesses you today!

 The next issue of Life Notes, my inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in each quarterly issue , comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

 *Flickr photo by Kimber Photography, Creative Commons License

Fresh from God

17276672462_7b04d5b6fc_zSpring almost always motivates me to pen a new poem. Hope you’re blessed today with my latest!

Fresh from God

Spring bursts with life
fresh from God
tiptoeing in as winter retreats,
surprising with love gifts
wrapped in newness,
delighting our winter-worn hearts.
Spring’s colors splash,
look new, feel fresh,
her songs capture our attention
with the calls and melodies of birds
back from their southern sabbatical.
Ah, spring—so fresh from God.

More fresh-from-God gifts spring to mind
more love gifts wrapped in newness,
romance blooms, life partners given,
babies are born, tiny kisses from heaven,
two become three—or four or more—
new day, new year,
new strength, new plans,
new mercies every morning.
New life in Christ
new home in heaven,
the gifts of God, fresh from him,
ever fresh with life.
Ah life—so fresh from God.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

*What fresh-from-God gift are you rejoicing in today?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a gift valued at $20 (shipping included) from Beigetone Soaps and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by SteveRish, Creative Commons License

One Way to Pray Against Our Spiritual Enemy

2172772997_4d1ae0c7e1“‘A farmer went out to sow his seed . . . The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.’” Luke 8:5, 11-12 NIV (see also Matthew 13:19)

The enemy of our souls—that old serpent the devil—is a liar, a thief, and a con-artist who even at times masquerades as an angel of light. He employs whatever tactic it takes to defeat and discourage the children of God and to also keep unbelievers in darkness and chains.

This low-down thief can rob us of many things—peace, joy, our marriages and families, our good reputations and witness for the Lord, our time, our health, the list goes on. Scripture tells us he also snatches away the life-giving seed of God’s Word planted among those who do not yet understand and believe. Because of its eternal impact, this treachery is even more evil than stealing food from the starving.

One way we can fight for the souls of those who’ve had the Word planted in their lives is to pray against Satan’s tactic of snatching it away. This is not something I’ve been savvy to in the past and I need to be alert to future opportunities to do such battle in prayer.

Why not join me? Let’s take a mental inventory of those unbelievers we know who’ve recently had the Word planted in their lives.

Have we shared scripture or biblical truth with someone personally or through social media? Have we given financial gifts to help spread the good news among a particular group of people? Do we know of a mission team at work right now? Are we aware of any unbelievers who have recently sat in church and heard the Word preached? Have we heard prayer requests voiced for specific people who have been exposed to God’s Word lately?

Let’s pray against the enemy’s efforts to snatch the planted Word of God away from these precious people. Let’s ask God to place a hedge of protection around his planted Word so that the devil won’t steal the truth and hope of eternal life that it can bring. Let’s put up a fight. Let’s go to battle.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.Ephesians 6:11 NIV

*Who can you pray for this week? If you’d like me and others to join you, please tell us in the comments.

*Flickr photo by W. Visser, Creative Commons License