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

Leap of Faith

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As I opened the blinds and looked out into the backyard one winter morning, a neighborhood daredevil unknowingly treated me to his early morning leap of faith.

With the trees still leafless, a darting movement in the branches quickly caught my eye. As I looked more closely, I could see that it was a squirrel — though he quickly proved he was not just any squirrel. He must have thought he was Wonder Squirrel or something. He skillfully zoomed higher and higher and then boldly ventured out on the tiniest limb. Before I could finish thinking where is he going? I bet he’s going to jump, he did it, hesitating only ever so slightly before his leap.

After sailing through the air to the closest limb of a nearby tree, he landed his leap with the sure-footedness of . . . well, a squirrel. He completely trusted that limb. He seemed to know it would hold his weight, that it would catch him. And he was right. It bent, but it didn’t break. It seemed to bounce back at just the right speed, allowing him to keep his balance and continue on his frenzied little journey.

Watching this little daredevil’s leap of faith, I immediately thought of the times we are called upon to jump into our Father’s arms. You know, the times when God wants us to trust him. The times when he wants us to go where he’s calling us to go or do what he’s asking us to do, even when it means stepping out into the unknown. He wants us to believe he will catch us and help us maintain our balance as we journey on with him. He wants us to trust him completely.

I want to be ready to do just that—to trust God completely. How about you? Any other daredevils out there?

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

*When have you taken a leap of faith?

*I hope this slightly revised encore post from March 2008 blessed you all and provided just the word of encouragement someone needed today. May it be so, Lord!

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Maxwell GS, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: Old Glory Still Flies

419187374_244fb2442b_zAs we head into this Fourth of July holiday weekend, aren’t you glad that Old Glory still flies? Much blood has been shed and many sacrifices made to ensure that our country is still “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” I, for one, am forever grateful, and I’m sure you are, too.

Let’s not forget that it’s because of the One to whom all glory is due that our nation still stands where Old Glory can fly. Thank you, Father, for the freedom we enjoy. Thank you, O Lord, for your watch-care and mercy!

“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” Psalm 29:2

*What are some of the ways God has blessed our nation?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early August. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by arbyreed, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: Praying for Favor

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“The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’ Then I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight . . .’” Nehemiah 2:4-5a

Sometimes we find ourselves having to speak or make an appeal in an important or even fearful situation. The stakes are high, our nerves taut. Right words are needed, but even more than that, favor is needed from the one to whom we’re speaking. What do we do?

In the Old Testament, we see what Nehemiah, cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, did in just such a situation. He had heard that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down and that his countrymen were in trouble. He wanted to go help, but he would need the king to look on him with favor and grant him leave to make the journey.

So what did Nehemiah do? He prayed and asked God to give him success and grant him favor with the king. Wisely, Nehemiah knew that God could open the king’s heart to his request. And wisely, Nehemiah prayed before he ever approached the king (Nehemiah 1:11), but as we see in the scripture above, he also whispered a prayer immediately before he made his appeal. Nehemiah relied on prayer, he relied on God.

Are any of us in need of favor today? Let’s remember Nehemiah and his dependence on God. Let’s bathe the situation in prayer.

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” Proverbs 21:1

*When has God granted you favor?

*Flickr photo by peasap, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: Adventure Awaits!

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The year ahead holds much for each of us. Some of it we know is coming and some will catch us by surprise. Chances are we’ll all experience a mixed bag of joy, sorrow, love, hurt, good health, poor health, success, failure, challenges, and smooth sailing. Twelve months of living can pack an awful lot into our lives, can’t it?

One thing I hope this year holds for you and me is adventure. Adventure can be a little risky, a little scary. And many times it requires an investment of some sort. But consider what Mark Twain said about adventure:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Whether planned or spur of the moment, adventure will be sure to enrich our lives. Will we be ready to take the risk? Will we be ready to make the investment? Let’s do it. Let’s sail away from safe harbor!

“Sing to the Lord a new song;” Psalm 96:1a

*What adventures would you like to experience this year? Some of mine will be sure to include the two sweet boys below (Isaiah on the left, James on the right) :)

*Flickr photo above by Thomas Hawk, Creative Commons License

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out in early February. Sign-up is free and to the right!

05-aLSP_1973*Photo by Bella Baby