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

The Trickster

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No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That’s a picture of a shirt hanging in a garden. My dad’s shirt in his garden in Missouri a few years ago, in fact. I actually took this shot on a July visit, but as long as anything was left growing in the garden through early fall, the shirt stood guard.

Back then we never knew what project Dad might be at work on or what problem he might be solving when we arrived for a visit. Kelli will never forget the year she and I pulled in the drive and caught Grandpa on the tail-end of a squirrel skinning. He was stretching the hide on some kind of contraption out by the wood pile. The shirt in the garden is tame by comparison but still a sight that made me take a second look and start asking questions.

As some of you may have already guessed, this was Dad’s version of a scarecrow. He’d been trying to trick some pesky garden-eating deer into thinking someone was standing there—and it worked.

Not just the sight of a potential enemy kept the deer away, but the scent as well. I didn’t realize scent was part of Dad’s scheme until I heard one of the grandkids announce one morning, “Grandpa’s stripping down outside!” Come to find out, it was just his shirt (thank goodness!) He was replacing the one that had been hanging in the garden for a few days with the sweaty one he had been working in. Tricky, tricky Grandpa. The result? My dad outwitted the deer.

Too bad deer aren’t the only ones susceptible to trickery. The Bible teaches we have an enemy, an enemy to our souls, who is doing all he can to scheme against us—to keep us from knowing God, to keep us from living for him. Ephesians 6:11 speaks specifically of the devil’s schemes, and 1 Peter 5:8 instructs us to stay alert because “[our] enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Sometimes he’s hard to recognize, though. The apostle Paul taught that “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Are we wise to Satan’s schemes in our lives? Or is he managing to outwit us with his tricks and his masquerades? Like my dad, let’s put our problem-solving skills to work and outwit the enemy instead.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

*What are you doing to stay alert to the tactics of the enemy? How do you take your stand against him? What has God taught you about dealing with Satan?

*Hope you were blessed today by this updated encore post from October 2008!

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

*My photo

Groom’s Cake Idea for the Military Man

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Mother of the Bride, has your future son-in-law given you and the bride any ideas for his groom’s cake yet? If not, why not start the conversation the next time the three of you are together. After all, there’s no better time than the present to talk about cake, right?!

If your daughter’s beloved is a military man, you could suggest the idea of a cake that showcases the branch of the military he serves in. To get more specific ideas flowing, show the above example to the happy couple and see what ideas it sparks.

With a few changes, the cake above could fit any branch of the military. Or the groom might decide to keep the military theme but change the size and shape of the cake. Once you get him thinking, who knows what he’ll come up with, right? Great ideas are often born in brainstorming sessions!

So MOB, get the conversation rolling. If the groom isn’t in the military, talk about what he is interested in and let the ideas start flying. Just be sure to mention chocolate while you’ve got the chance—he might go for it!

*You might also like to read Groom’s Cake Idea for the Wrestling FanGroom’s Cake Idea: His Favorite Set of Wheels, Groom’s Cake Idea: Law Books (or any other books!), Groom’s Cake Idea: Alma Mater Pride, and Groom’s Cake Idea: A Chessboard!

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

*Flickr photo by Graceful Cake Creations, Creative Commons License

Hard Fought

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Some victories are best described as hard fought, aren’t they? If we’ve lived this life for any length of time, we’ve discovered that many accomplishments, battle-wins, growth, or tasks completed don’t come easily. Much effort is required to get from point A to point B.

You might not guess it, but many of my blog posts and other writing projects fall into the hard fought category. Oh, some may come more easily than others, but if I’m honest, I’d have to say many are hard fought. Most require much effort.

For one thing, I’m a slow writer. For another, I have perfectionist tendencies. So unless an idea sparks and words tumble out as fast as I can write them down, they come out like a trickle or a drip rather than a flowing stream or bubbling brook. In fact, sometimes they’re birthed at an excruciatingly slow pace. It’s as if I’m stuck in mud. When that happens, getting pieces written is like struggling through a wrestling match. Any results are hard fought.

Other examples of hard fought victories in life abound. Sometimes learning a new skill or reaching an academic milestone takes all we have to see it through. Others engage in mighty struggles to lose weight or to quit smoking. Some reach their next wedding anniversary only by the grace of God and their non-negotiable commitment to honor their vows and protect their families. Still others fight to stay true to their faith in God when life deals them one blow after another.

I wonder if any of us today are currently faced with hard fought battles. Any wrestling matches underway? Any of us stuck in the mud? Let’s not give up. Let’s dig deep and press on. Like with my writing struggles, we may have to fight hard, but the victories will surely come. And oh, how sweet they’ll be.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

*What in your life has come or is coming with hard fought efforts?

*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is underway. Details are in my Oct. 19 post and sign-up is to the right under “Free For You.” Deadline is 6 p.m. Nov. 11. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

*Flickr photo by Eric Langley, Creative Commons License

A Persistent Breed

2329631495_a0ee551ea3_z*This piece about perseverance, written originally for my February 2009 Life Notes newsletter, is still spot-on applicable in my life today. Last fall I had to pull up my persevering-writer bootstraps like never before when the contract for my book fell through. And today my agent and I are still plugging away and refusing to give up. May the post below inspire you to persevere in areas of your own life. Also, the new issue of Life Notes came out the first of the month, and it’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

We writers have to be a persistent breed. A good possibility of rejection lurks just around the corner with each submission sent out. And everyone knows, writer or not, rejection can be hard to handle.

For most people, rejection leads to retreat or at least a change of course. For writers, it better lead to regrouping and forward movement—or we will never see our work published. And believe me, those positive steps can be hard to take if we’ve reverted to a fetal position.

Yes, writers have to learn to quickly get past the dashed hopes a rejection letter delivers, take a deep breath, and start again. That’s where persistence comes in. That’s when we learn to persevere.

Can I let you in on a little secret? I’ve had plenty of practice. Since I started writing thirteen years ago, rejection has paid me regular visits. Truth be told, rejection has come calling more than acceptance.

So why haven’t I given up? I feel like it’s the work God has called me to do, and until he leads in another direction, I want to be faithful to the task. His Word offers continual encouragement with verses like Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

And that brings me to another reason for persevering. The sweetness of the harvest. What a privilege when my work is used and someone’s life is touched through words I’ve written.

Writers are not the only ones who are called upon to persevere, though. We are not the only ones to know the thrill of the harvest. I have to look no further than my own little family to see other examples of perseverance.

I’ve watched my husband go to work day after day, year after year, to provide for our family, even on days he would have preferred to do other things. I saw my oldest daughter hang in there and complete her graduate studies when she had to live far away from her family and fiancé. While waiting tables and faithfully watching internet job sites and Help Wanted ads, my youngest daughter waited over two years to land a job in her field of study and in the area where she wanted to live. And yes, I’ve had to persevere through other life challenges, too.

Does your job or your endeavors demand that you be a persistent breed? Will pressing on be the only way you will achieve your goals? Or maybe you’re faced with having to persevere through a health crisis, a difficult relationship, or a financial setback. Whatever your challenges, I encourage you to not give up. The harvest is sure. And it will certainly be sweet.

“‘But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.’” 2 Chronicles 15:7

*When have you had to persevere?

*Flickr photo by Tonymadrid Photography, Creative Commons License