PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• My son stopped by yesterday and showed me a picture of himself on his phone.
Except instead of my 21-year-old, he looked like he’d aged about 50 years.
Later, I saw on Facebook that several people were playing with this app that ages your picture.
Especially when so many are doing everything they can to reverse aging and look younger!
But I succumbed to my curiosity and downloaded the app.
I showed my husband my aged picture and then did his.
Neither of us posted it, so if we’re Facebook friends, no need to go looking for it.
I’ll just tell you that Wayne looked very sweet in his picture…
And I looked a lot like my grandmother in mine.
Proverbs 20:29 ESV says, “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”
Grey hair isn’t something we normally think of as splendor, though I really like the alternative definitions I’ve heard…
We joke but growing older is a blessing.
You want to know something funny?
It just occurred to me that I’m writing about aging and grey hair on the same day I have an appointment to get my grey roots colored.
Don’t tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor…
This wasn’t planned.
Anyway, there’s a lot of truth in the saying, “Wrinkles mean you laughed, grey hair means you cared, and scars mean you lived.”
Aging shows that we have a story.
Hopefully, through that story, we’ve met and know Jesus.
And as we grow, we can see God’s hand at work in our lives.
In 1 Corinthians 4:16 ESV, Paul wrote, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”
These bodies we live in will keep getting older no matter how many times we cover the grey and no matter how much we invest in anti-aging creams.
When we keep looking to Him, with childlike faith, trusting in our Heavenly Father, our hearts and spirits will stay vibrant and refreshed.
Today, as you pray, thank God for the privilege of growing older.
Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your heart with His truth and wisdom.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• On May 7th, I started a no-sugar fast and last night, I broke it.
And today, I’m disgusted with myself.
Here’s what happened…
Some friends from church invited us to an outdoor music/food truck festival.
I didn’t plan to eat at the event though I knew everyone else was going to.
But before they picked us up, I was working and lost track of time.
I didn’t eat dinner.
I scarfed down a banana five minutes before they arrived but I knew I’d made a mistake by not stopping to eat a real meal.
I began to think, “Maybe there’s something I can find that won’t take me too far off plan…”
Then we arrived.
Friends, I have two words for you: Duck Donuts.
I’d never had one but heard they were amazing.
I grew up in the land where Krispy Kreme originated so I have some pretty strong opinions on doughnuts and wanted to try them myself.
I began the rationalization game.
I have been so good for weeks…
Even when I lost my appetite for about 10 days after my kidney stone and just wanted crackers and bread, I stayed strong…
Other than one bite of a dessert that was required for work (yes, I’m serious—it was part of my job), I’d studiously studied ingredients list and labels and avoided sugar…
One cheat meal wasn’t going to hurt and I deserved it…
So I caved.
I couldn’t make up my mind and ordered six.
I ate one bite from each doughnut.
(Side note—I realize I keep adjusting the spelling. I prefer “doughnut” but the name of the brand spells it “donut.”)
We came home and the box of leftover doughnuts went to the kitchen.
I went to bed feeling guilty, and I woke up this morning kicking myself for not being stronger.
After making sure my husband didn’t want them, I dumped the rest of the doughnuts in the sink and ran them through the garbage disposal.
So this morning, when I was making the graphic, I really wanted to use a photo of doughnuts with today’s signature verse, “Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Instead, I chose the door because we have a choice.
When Temptation knocks, we don’t have to open the door, let it in, and start feeding it doughnuts.
Y’all, I realize in the big grand scheme of things, this is a blip.
It’s not a sin to eat a doughnut.
But it’s a major reminder.
Following God when temptation surrounds us is hard.
There are times when the lure of what looks good is so great, we will break our resolve to do what God wants us to do.
We will succumb to temptation because we are imperfect humans.
He is faithful.
When our resolve is weak, or when we are tempted, He is there.
Jesus knows our struggles.
And whether our temptations take the form of pride, anger, jealousy, hatred, carnal lusts, or things that simply aren’t good for us—He has promised that He won’t let us be tempted more than we can handle and He’s promised to give us a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).
My temptation with a doughnut may not be sinful per se, but it’s a battle I’m fighting.
That particular temptation follows 1 Corinthians 10:23a, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.”
Being aware that Temptation is always trying to gain a foothold is important.
Being prepared to resist when we are weak—that’s when we call on the name of Jesus.
Today, as you pray, thank God for always providing a way out when we are tempted.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you resist temptations and to make the choice, even when it’s hard, to choose Jesus.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I am a foodie.
I can watch cooking shows for hours and I get hypnotized by those cake decorating videos.
In my four weeks without sugar, I’ve continued to stop and watch them.
By the grace of God, they haven’t tempted me to break the no-sugar challenge, but I still enjoy watching food being made…
Even if it’s not on my current food list.
Over the last few weeks, the only thing I’ve really missed is pizza.
But since sugar is in EVERYTHING, including pizza crust and sauce…
I’ve steered clear of it.
My husband and I enjoy the pizza from a local pizza shop and shortly before I went no-sugar, I had interviewed them for an article.
The owner told me that he was adding a cauliflower crust to the menu.
Y’all, I love my veggies, but cauliflower and I have not always had a warm and fuzzy relationship.
I think the trend of using cauliflower as rice, potatoes, and pizza is weird.
But when a girl on a sugar strike wants pizza…
Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.
I had a cauliflower-crust white pizza yesterday and it was AH. MAZ. ING.
A definite treat for this girl who is determined to make healthy choices.
Even my skeptical husband (who had his own sugar-laden BBQ pizza) agreed that it was good.
I share all of this because it’s reminded me of 1 Corinthians 10:23, “‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything builds up.”
In this part of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he reminds them, “…the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it” (1 Corinthians 10:26).
When you take a pizza, it’s not that all the ingredients are bad, it’s the way it was processed.
A salad may seem like a healthy choice, but the addition of fattening dressing doesn’t add benefit.
I am speaking in food terms, but let’s look at other examples.
You can buy any car you choose to within your budget but a compact sports car isn’t going to be beneficial to a family of five.
You can wash all the laundry, but if you don’t fold it and put it away, you’ll close time trying to find things later.
We have a lot of options in life, but even though there may not be anything necessarily wrong about a choice, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good choice for us.
That’s why constant prayer and ongoing discussions with God for discernment to make wise choices is a priority.
He will guide us to the beneficial options!
Today, as you pray, thank God for giving us freedom to choose.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you make good choices that are beneficial to you and those around you.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• It seems like every day, the world is doing whatever it can to beat down the Christian faith.
And yet, it’s to be expected.
It’s an attack, not by people, but by the enemy.
His time is drawing short.
He’s a liar, a deceiver, and a discourager.
His goal is to destroy humanity.
And that’s what we have to remember.
People who lash out at the faith aren’t our enemies.
They are being used and they need to be prayed for.
Jesus died for them too and wants them to know Him too.
We need to pray for compassionate eyes who look at our fellow human beings the way Jesus looks at them.
In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, Paul wrote, “Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love.”
As we undergo spiritual attacks, let’s remember who is behind the attack.
And let’s remember Who is stronger—the One who ultimately wins.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for the victory that is coming.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be strong in the face of spiritual attacks and to lean on Him.
Pray for the swat team of angels to guard your family and loved ones, and pray for those who oppose you.
Pray compassionate prayers that reflect the kind of prayer Jesus would pray.
Pray in courage, faith, and in love.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Today is a miracle.
This is my 7th day of no sugar.
Y’all, when I say this is an accomplishment only done by the grace of God, I’m not being flippant or funny.
My weight has been a yo-yo for years but the truth is, I don’t feel overweight.
Until I see a picture of myself.
And then I’m horrified by it.
I’m the heaviest I’ve been since my son was born and since that was 21 years ago, I’m well-past the legitimate excuse of baby weight.
My current weight is (insert mumbling sounds) and my attitude for the last year has been, “I’m tired of trying; Jesus can make me skinny when I get to Heaven.”
But He wouldn’t let me be content with that.
He loves me too much to let me off the hook from being healthy.
And even though I regularly tell people (and believe!) that God cares about every detail of our lives, praying about my issues with food has felt trivial.
Especially since compared to others, I eat pretty well.
I can say no to soft drinks, chips, and packaged cookies.
Frankly, I don’t like those things and am probably the only person who dislikes Oreos.
But chocolate peanut butter ice cream and fresh baked goods, especially bread—those are my downfalls.
Last week, on impulse and without complete confidence that I’d make it past Day 3, I decided I was going to do a 30-day no sugar challenge.
Amazingly, I haven’t had headaches or the lethargic side effects that I’ve read about from those with sugar withdrawals.
I haven’t even been craving it.
I’ve also lost six pounds.
And again, I’m reminded that God is a God of miracles because that’s the only answer I have to it.
A few years ago, I read Lysa TerKeurst’s book, “Made to Crave,” and I’ve started reading it again.
I know weight and Bible study don’t often coincide, but they should.
Eve was tempted by food, and Satan tried the same tactic when he tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness.
Jesus answered in Matthew 4:4, “He answered, ‘It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
He was quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 when Moses reminded the Israelites of the same truth.
And it still holds true.
I’m only a week into this, but I am amazed at the way God is using this.
The temptation to keep this to myself and a few friends is great.
Satan has been whispering, “Don’t tell too many people because what if you fail? Look at how many times you’ve failed. You’re probably going to fail.”
Not today, Satan.
For the first time, it’s not about my weight as a point of vanity.
It’s a point of being healthy because my body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
And also for the first time, I’m doing this with God.
I’m praying every morning to make healthy, no-sugar-added choices that honor my health, and are based on the food He created and has provided.
Satan loves to discourage us.
For so many women, weight is a problem and our culture tells us that we don’t measure up if we don’t fit inside certain molds.
He loves to tempt us with things that will make us feel guilty and feel like failures.
Maybe weight isn’t your battle, but without question, Satan discourages you in other areas.
Whatever it is, I encourage you to take it to God.
It may seem trivial, but I’m staying with renewed confidence that He does care about every detail of your life.
Today, as you pray, thank God for caring and for providing good and wholesome nourishment for us.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you depend on Him when temptation, cravings, doubt, and guilt overwhelm you.
Ask Him to equip you and remember, He is always with you.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• On Tuesday night, I went to visit my son and hang out with him a bit.
As is the norm, we spent some time with him showing me weird videos he’s found on YouTube.
I don’t know where he finds some of these things, but this one was “special.”
Five people in brightly colored unitards and bare feet and their goal was to climb ice-coated stairs in order to reach a treasure chest at the top.
The first one to make it was the winner.
It was a mass of chaos as players lost their footing and took out their competition as they slid back down the icy steps.
Who on earth comes up with this stuff?!
But apparently, it’s a real competition somewhere…I’m guessing Japan.
There was an English-speaking narrator, but I’m not sure what language the subtitles were in.
After watching a couple of these “competitions,” my belief that humankind can do colossally stupid things for the sake of entertainment and attention was firmly reinforced.
But as I’ve thought about it some more, I kind of feel like that competition is a reflection of us all.
We are all trying to reach a goal.
We want to race to the top, but sometimes, we lose our footing and fall down.
Or someone else knocks us down.
We’re afraid if we don’t get there first, we’ll miss out.
Paul wrote an analogy about a race.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
In this “game of life,” there’s no need to race against others.
Our individual goal should be to focus on the race God has planned for each of us so that we can do as Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
It’s not about beating others, it’s about doing what we are called to do.
Today, as you pray, thank God for His challenge to you.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you sustain and run steady.
Ask Him to help you be focused and not distracted.
But ask Him to let you be an encourager for others as they run their own races.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Being a Christian doesn’t mean we’re perfect.
We are still going to mess up.
That’s why we need constant awareness of our thoughts and actions.
Today’s post is based on something I read this morning.
It was the comment section of an article; people were debating a topic and someone wrote that Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.”
The writer’s argument was that a true Christian won’t sin anymore and if they do, they aren’t saved anymore.
Friends, this is exactly why I believe in the importance of context when quoting the Bible.
Jesus spoke those words in two situations.
One, in John 5:1-15, when He said it to a man He healed.
Specifically, Jesus said in John 5:14, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”
We can infer from the story that the man’s situation had to do with a past choice and Jesus gave him a fresh start.
While not all illnesses and injuries are due to sin, sometimes they are a side effect of it and Jesus’ words give a warning to that truth.
Then, the second time He said, “Go and sin no more,” is found in John 8:1-11.
A woman was caught in the act of adultery and the Pharisees were preparing to stone her when Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
One by one, they dropped their stones and left.
Jesus said to the woman, “Go, and sin no more.”
Jesus was telling the woman not to commit adultery anymore.
He didn’t expect ongoing perfection from the woman because He knew that was impossible for her, just as He knows it’s impossible for us.
It’s the very reason we need a Savior.
If it were truly possible for us to live without sin, then Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die for us.
And if we think we lose our salvation every time we mess up, we diminish the power of Jesus’ saving blood!
He didn’t die repeatedly.
He died once.
And that one death was enough to cover all our sin.
We are going to be tempted by sin.
But we have options.
We don’t have to fall to it.
We just need to be very diligent that we don’t think we are above sinning because otherwise, we really need to revisit the words of John found in 1 John 1:8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Similarly, Paul warned the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”
But we find hope in the next verse, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13b).
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for His redemption.
Thank Him for saving you.
And thank God that when we do sin, we don’t lose our salvation but can be restored to fellowship with a repentant heart.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you when you’re tempted, that you may readily cling to Jesus, and not fall.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• It’s 19 degrees again this morning, but I take comfort that spring is 48 days away.
I am more than a little bit ready for some warmer weather because it’s very tempting to call in cold to work when the temperatures are this low.
My prayers are with those who are truly being hit by extreme lows…
I can’t even imagine.
I could not shake the chill yesterday with our “mild” version of this winter weather and kept a space heater at my desk all day.
The words of 1 Corinthians 10:31 are on my mind this morning.
The verse says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I love this reminder.
It is further evidence that God cares about everything we say, think, and do.
Otherwise, we wouldn’t be told to do it all for His glory!
It’s confirmation that there’s nothing too big or too small or outside God’s scope of interest in our lives.
Because when we are committed to doing everything for His glory, we can trust that He will be pleased and use us to His purpose.
Let that stay with you today.
Whether you’re crunching numbers on a spreadsheet, teaching a class, baking bread, sweeping a floor, or anything you do…
Do it to honor and glorify Him.
Praise Him as you work — for the abilities and opportunities He’s given you, the chance to earn a paycheck, the warmth of the oven, or any number of countless reasons to praise Him and glorify Him throughout the day.
Today, as you pray, thank God for being interested in every detail.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you find joy in both the great and small parts of your day.
Ask Him to remind your heart often that it’s all for Him.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Tithing is a deeply personal thing.
And let’s face it—talking about money can get uncomfortable.
But it’s come up in several conversations I’ve had lately.
That fact, coupled with the passage I read in the Bible this morning, has prompted me to talk about it today.
There are those who say that the 10% tithe of the Old Testament doesn’t apply to modern-day Christians.
Some feel that the New Testament’s lack of specific tithing direction makes it optional, or makes tithing a specific amount flexible, especially in context with 1 Corinthians 16:2, which says, “…you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income…”
I’m not here to tell you one way or the other because honestly, it’s between you and God.
I understand the conflicting feelings though…
I struggled for years about tithing.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to give, but my husband and I were on a budget.
We didn’t think we could afford it.
But after a hard look at our spending habits, we determined that yes, we could give.
It was a matter of our personal priorities.
We ate out all the time.
We could easily reshuffle what we were spending on eating out and entertainment in order to tithe.
And we choose to give 10% of our gross.
For us, it’s easier to have a consistent number.
But more than that—tithing is about gratitude to God for all He’s given and it’s a matter of trusting Him to provide for all your needs.
Everything we have is a direct gift from God and it’s His anyway.
In 1 Chronicles 29:14b, David prayed, “For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”
But I encourage you to read the whole passage for yourself (1 Chronicles 29:1-17).
David and the Israelites gave what they had to the Temple Building Fund.
And the words used to describe the scene include “willingly,” “rejoiced,” “offered freely.”
I’ve heard it argued by both believers and non-believers that the church shouldn’t ask for money since it’s there to serve.
But that thought is ludicrous to me.
No one thinks twice about the Red Cross asking for funding and they are service-based.
All organizations have real costs!
Those who subscribe to this way of thinking would be upset if preachers had to go find other jobs because they couldn’t afford to feed their families on zero salary.
Besides, it’s Biblical to pay our preachers.
1 Timothy 5:17-18 says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’”
Don’t get me wrong.
I get that there are those who have pushed too aggressively for money, and often for personal gain.
But any non-profit (church or otherwise) should be transparent with their spending.
If you don’t think your church is spending wisely, address it.
Or find a new church.
But don’t let that stop you from giving.
I’ll share too that my husband and I don’t give 100% of our tithe to our church.
Most of it goes there, but we support a couple of other organizations we believe in such as Proverbs 31 Ministries, In Touch Ministries, and Got Questions.
And we trust the way the money is spent.
If we ever have questions, we address them or redirect our funds.
Again, I’m just sharing what we do.
If you tithe regularly, you already know the joy of this kind of giving-worship.
It’s an opportunity to honor God for all He’s provided.
If you don’t tithe, pray about it.
GotQuestions.org has several great articles on tithing that I recommend too.
Today, as you pray, borrow David’s prayer, “For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”
Thank God the Father for all He’s provided.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you trust in God’s provision in all circumstances.
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Good morning, I come to you from my living room where I’m very frustrated to not be going to church on the last Sunday of the year.
But this cold that I’ve dealt with for a week is now a cough.
It wakes me up and I’ve had several sleepless nights because of it.
So my husband is probably right.
I need to stay home.
I would hate to start coughing in the middle of church.
But I do feel like a raging hypocrite since my blog last week was about going to church!
But I’ve still spent the morning in the Bible, and I’ve continued reading a book I started last Thursday, “Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit,” by Francis Chan.
It’s a book that is seriously challenging me.
And it’s from that challenge that I chose today’s verse from John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
These words were spoken by John the Baptist about Jesus.
He was referring to his role which was to pave the way for Someone greater.
These are the words we should all embrace as Christians.
Less of me; more of Him.
They are words that are easy to say, hard to put into practice.
I’ve spent this morning praying about this because whatever I do—from this blog to my monthly column in one of our community magazines to the volunteer work I do—I want it all to be done for God’s glory.
To say less of me and more of Him is an exercise in both humility and obedience.
It’s a lesson I have to learn over and over again.
Perhaps you do too.
It’s part of being human that makes us want credit and attention, but that selfish craving is in direct opposition of the instruction found in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Being fully surrendered to the will of God is the only way to separate ourselves from a self-seeking mindset to a servant mindset.
Today, as you pray, thank God that He alone is worthy of all glory.
Ask Him to use you, not for any credit you may receive, but that through you, His greatness can be magnified for others to see.