Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Better Than a Sprinkle Cupcake

With great anticipation, I held up the milk chocolate cupcake and bit into it. I have died and gone to heaven, I thought. My mouth was bursting with the rich taste of chocolate and the cake was unbelievably moist! Now I know why their ad reads “Sprinkles gourmet cupcakes are a deliciously sophisticated update on an American classic, handcrafted from the finest ingredients.” The Los Angeles Times even touted Sprinkles as “The progenitor of the haute cupcake craze.” How did I end up at Sprinkles Cupcakes? I live in a suburb of Chicago and was having a mother daughter outing with both of my daughters to the city. After lunch at the famous Walnut Room, my daughters blurted out, “Let’s go to Sprinkles Cupcakes for dessert!” Of course, I had to be the coolest mom ever and make this the perfect day. Right? I pulled up to the curb and my daughters jumped out with me yelling, “Get me milk chocolate!” as they disappeared into the bakery. I chose well, and after finishing the cupcake, I began to process what just occurred. We chose a famous over-priced cupcake bakery and ate the most wonderful sugary delight. But just like that, voila, done! I soon began to wonder “when can we do this again? Is this how addictions start?” Guilt set in as I reflected on the starving people in Africa. I prayed and thanked God for being able to do such a crazy thing. I thought of the rich man who Jesus asked to sell everything and follow Him. Could I give up cupcakes if God asked me to? Would I ever love cupcakes or anything else for that matter more than Him? I remembered the day I was teaching from Psalm 63:5 “I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you” (NIV). Those in the class shared of their mouth watering food experiences; then agreed that our undeserved love from God is mightier. We will literally die and go to heaven because of it. Can you think of the richest food you ever ate? And how does that compare with the way Jesus longs to satisfy you daily? Talk to Him about it He can help you put things into perspective. In the car that day I heard a strong and present voice. “Elaine, I gave you the cupcake that you loved, I like doing that for you. I know you know that the delight in the cupcake is temporary, but My love for you is for eternity.” PRAYER: Thank You for sugary delights. I never want to love anything more than You. I need Your help daily. “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live” (Psalm 63:3 NIV).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stand Down

The Range Officer yelled out the command “Stand Down!” Upon hearing the command, the men in the target range lowered their weapons. He explained during their training that when he gives the “stand down” order, it does not mean to lay your weapon down. Quite the contrary. When one is in the “stand down” position, he must stay alert. There must be a Range Officer present at all times when the target range is open. It is his responsibility to secure the area and give complete instructions before allowing anyone to practice shooting, so everyone will be safe.

This was described by my friend who had her first target range experience.
This description stimulated my writer’s mind to formulate this analogy comparing God to the range officer. God, our range officer, commanded very similar requests to us in Ephesians six, the section which is entitled, The Protection for Believers, The Armor of God. In this section of the Bible, which is only seven verses long, Paul gives this instruction:
1. Stand against the devil’s schemes.
2. Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground.
3. After you have done everything stand.
4. Stand firm!

We go through life feeling fearful, anxious, worried or overwhelmed, asking “why is this happening to me?” That question could be answered with a question like “where is your armor of God?” Is it in a pile on the floor? The word of God is the sword of the Spirit; it is either in your hand or lying around collecting dust. It is the only offensive weapon in our armor.

“With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV).
Praying daily and putting on the full armor of God can be likened to going to the target range, having the range officer present and realizing we must never put our weapons down, but “Stand Down” instead.

PRAYER: Dear God, I confess that at times I lay my armor down. Please forgive me. Help me to be reminded that I need to put on the full armor of God daily.
“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord-and he will delight in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2-3 NIV).