Signature Fragrance—What’s Yours?

May 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Robin J. Steinweg –

One of my students told me that when she catches a whiff of vanilla, she always thinks of me. Vanilla—I can’t get enough of it. I love it in hand wash, lotions and candles. I love it in cookies, ice cream and pancakes. If I could, I’d wash my hair and my clothes in it.

Ever since my student’s observation, I’ve paid more attention to others’ fragrances. Some are hard to identify, since they switch from one brand to another. Some folks wear the same perfume their whole lives. Others carry the scent of their occupation. I had a high school friend who worked on a pig farm. No matter what strong cleanser he scrubbed with, the smell of pigs would not wash off. So he covered it up with cologne. To this day I can’t smell Old Spice without thinking of how it never quite disguised the odor of pig manure. A friend’s father, a mortician, unwittingly carried a scent of embalming fluid everywhere he went.

Our sense of smell can lead us (mm, the brat stand is this way), protect us (uh-oh, I smell gas!) identify us (that’s not my mommy’s smell) and invoke memories (does that take me back…).

If it’s such an important factor in our lives, I need to ask: What fragrance do I carry spiritually? Do I overwhelm others with religious talk, or do I leave a hint of heaven that draws them in? Do I occupy myself with moral filth that I can’t wash off? When someone crushes my spirit with harsh words, do I respond in like, or do I give off the aroma of forgiveness? What scent is my trademark?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, when You were bruised for my sins, You gave off the most appealing aroma. Let my life be a sweet-smelling offering of worship. Let me leave the trace of Your essence wherever I go. Your signature fragrance is forgiveness. I bless and thank You!

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15 NKJV).

Fast to Feast to Fast

May 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Robin J. Steinweg –

I confess. Sometimes I fast to feast and feast only to fast again.

How many Thanksgiving Days have I gone without breakfast—maybe even no lunch—so I’d have room for more Thanksgiving dinner? More turkey, more mashed potatoes and gravy, more stuffing, relishes, scalloped corn, rolls, frozen cranberry salad and pumpkin pie. M-o-r-e, please. Eat some more! Won’t you have some more? Look how much is left; have some MORE! And then I skip the next meal or two afterward because the thought of food makes me feel ill.

I don’t mean to cause a guilt trip here (not that I think you’ve ever done this). But I pondered this subject when I read an article, “Extending the Table” by Leslie Leyland Fields, in Kyria magazine.

Feasts and fasts—each can have a meaningful place in my life rather than be a gut-level response to a harried holiday time or to a family reunion.

A feast might be held in celebration of the Lord, one’s faith, country or family.

A fast might be physical (cleanse the body’s system, increase mental clarity, reset one’s body clock, change habits or diet). It might be spiritual (deny the body’s appetites to gain discipline, rely more on God, grow closer to Him).

In the future, I’d like to think things through in advance. To be intentional about it; purposeful. Not a fast to feast, or a feast to fast.

AUTHOR QUOTE: Feast or fast: without intent, they are harmful at worst and pointless at best. But what a productive thing either can be, if carried out for a good purpose!

“Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting” (Daniel 9:3a NKJV).
[They celebrated] “…with gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to one another” (Esther 9:19b NKJV).

Visibility

April 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Robin J. Steinweg –

I can not see the road in front of me. I don’t dare stop the car, or I might get hit from behind. Besides, I can’t even find the shoulder of the road if I wanted to pull over. The wind-hurled snow looks like a scene from a sci-fi movie, where the space ship leaps into hyperspace—white lines are coming at me, or maybe emanating from me—who knows anymore?

My visibility is nearly zero.

It’s dangerous not to have vision while on the road. My car might go too far in either direction; I could collide with another car head-on, or end up sideways in the ditch.

It’s also dangerous not to have spiritual vision. Without it, I have no grounding, no focus, no purpose, no moral compass to keep me from destruction. But with it—with spiritual vision, I have Someone to guide and direct me. Someone who has a plan for my life, who knows what is best for me and what I should avoid.

He can keep me safe, no matter the conditions of the road.

PRAYER: Lord, my vision will be perfect if I keep my eyes on You. If I trust in You, You will direct my path.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18a KJV).

Counterfeit Cheeseburgers

April 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Robin J. Steinweg –

I served uncooked cheeseburgers to my students. Don’t panic—the bun was two vanilla wafers brushed with light corn syrup and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The meat was a chocolate mint cookie. Red and yellow frosting looked like ketchup and cheese. I added lettuce: green-colored coconut flakes. The burgers turned out a little smaller (and rounder!) than White Castle burgers. If I’d photographed one on a doll’s tea plate, it would’ve looked just like the real thing. But if I were to write up a nutrition chart for it, it would be sadly lacking in the minimum daily requirements for anything at all.

Sure, it would taste good and give me a sugar high, but in the end it would let me down. Hard.

This world offers advice that looks appealing, feels good or has an appearance of truth—but the truth is, it can be as empty as sugar calories. But it looks so real; how can we tell the difference?

If you’ve ever eaten a real cheeseburger, you’d know the moment you saw my candy version that there’s no meat. That’s the trick: get to know the genuine article, and immediately you’ll recognize the fake. And if you’re inexperienced, you’d know it as soon as you tasted it.

Study the Bible and when an untruth pops up, you’ll see it for what it is.

PRAYER: Lord, I ask You to help me to become so familiar with Your voice and Your ways that I recognize instantly anything that is not from You. Thank You.

“Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world” (1 John 4:1 NLT).

Squeezed!

March 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Robin J. Steinweg –

I cannot see ahead nor behind me. SUVs block the view from the windows of my little Ford Focus. I’m focused, all right; I have no choice. Inches to my left are construction posts. To the right, an eighteen-inch drop-off leers at me with jagged, concrete teeth. There were no orange safety barrels to bar my fall if I waver.

My grip on the steering wheel drains the pink from my knuckles. I’m squeezed between a disastrous drop and posts lined up like sentries waiting to whack scratches into my car if I get too close. And if I bump one, will I overreact and careen into the abyss on the opposite side? I’m forced to sit tight (literally) and follow the car in front of me. I hope it’s trustworthy to stay on the road!

I like wide, safe boundaries and a clear view when I travel. Not only on my roads, but through life. Yet there are times when, like pothole-ridden highways, my life needs redirecting and repaired. God shows me signs that I am once again under construction. I feel squeezed into a narrow space, no view ahead or behind, disaster on either side.

Road crews don’t want casualties. Neither does God. I can follow Him and trust that He hems me in, behind and before. He’ll guide me straight and true. I can relax my vise-grip.

PRAYER: Lord, You know the beginning from the end. You have a clear view. When I’m in that tight place, help me to trust You because You’re trustworthy.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” (Psalm 32:8 NKJV).

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