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!

*Flickr photo by Pat Hawks, 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

Pre-Ceremony Tip for Wedding Day: Keep It Calm

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*I won’t be posting next week during Spring Break, but I will see you back here on March 28. Maybe you can check out the archives and Favorite Post list in the meantime!

Mother of the Bride, one last gift you can give your daughter before she becomes a Mrs. is a calm environment in the hours leading up to the wedding.

Yes, MOB, make it your goal to keep those pre-ceremony hours on the big day as stress-free as possible for your baby girl. Do your best to help her to head into the glorious but demanding hours of the wedding and reception well-rested and focused only on her beloved and the joy of the day.

One thing you can do to keep things calm in the hours before the wedding is to make sure your girl has interactions with only a few people—her immediate family, bridesmaids, and hairdresser, etc.

Since extended family and friends are already gathered for the wedding weekend, it’s tempting to plan breakfast or lunch (or another activity) as a group, but resist that temptation. There will be plenty of time for more interaction with one another at the wedding and reception. No need for your daughter to be “on” any more than is necessary before the wedding. Once she heads to the ceremony site, there will be no slowing down for her until she rides off into the honeymoon sunset with her love.

For those few things she has to do early on the big day—like get her hair done—keep it as low-key as possible. Have only one or two people accompany the two of you to the salon. If you’re at a hotel or have company staying in your home, bring food to the bride’s room and let her eat without having to interact with a crowd. Suggest she ask only her sisters and/or bridesmaids to join her.

Every family’s circumstances will be different, but you get the idea, MOB. Adopt the spirit of the advice—keeping things calm for your sweet girl—and adapt it your individual situation. Your little girl-turned-bride will be forever grateful!

*You might also like to read Mother of the Bride’s Wedding Day Advice for the Bride and Most Important Part of the MOB’s Wedding Day Attire.

*Flickr photo by Corey Ann, Creative Commons License

Gift Idea: Prayers for the Mother of the Groom

IMG_8654Mother of the Bride, have you thought about giving the mother of the groom a little gift of some sort? This didn’t occur to me when I was an MOB so you may not have thought of it either. But giving a small gesture of acceptance and friendship is always worth the effort, isn’t it?

One great gift idea for the MOG is the book Prayers for the Mother of the Groom by Traci Matt. Designed for use during the last two months leading up to the wedding (or MOGs could start earlier and go through it a couple of times), this book is a wonderful resource for Christian moms who desire to cover their sons, themselves, their families, and the entire bridal party in prayer as they all go through the life-changing event of a wedding.

Each of the sixty selections included feature an introductory paragraph or two about some aspect of the wedding or the changing family dynamic, and then Matt shares an in-depth prayer addressing the topic of the day. Matt’s prayers spring from the truths and insights she’s gleaned from the Word of God and from her own personal experience as both a mother of the groom and a mother of the bride. With each selection Matt also shares a feature called “Something Borrowed”—a quote applicable to that day’s topic.

In this nicely done self-published paperback book, mothers of the groom will discover an extremely thorough and heartfelt guide for their own prayers. Not every topic mentioned or every prayer prayed will apply to every MOG, of course, but each mom will be able to easily apply what pertains to her and skim over the parts that don’t quite fit her situation. With Matt’s wisdom and skillful and easy-to-read writing style, I think mothers of the groom will love using this book.

So MOB, does this sound like a gift you’d like to offer to your future son-in-law’s mother? If you can help the prayer effort going up for your soon-to-be son and your precious girl, I’ll be you’re all for it, right? Why not bless the MOG today with a copy of Prayers for the Mother of the Groom!

*You might also like to read Make the Mother of the Groom Part of the Team and Kicking Off the In-Law Relationship.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out tomorrow. Sign-up is free and to the right. Your name won’t be included in the giveaway draw until the next issue comes out, but it’s not too late to receive this issue. Sign up today!

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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!

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