For the first time, my physician gave me a concerning report from blood work. I am pre-diabetic.
My obesity likely exasperated my issues with influenza type A in December 2022. After spending several hours in the ER as desperate for relief as a procrastinator for flowers on Valentine’s Day, I knew I needed to make a change. I didn’t realize how drastic that change needed to be until the blood work came back.
So, I find myself once again on a low-carbohydrate diet. But this time it’s not so voluntary. It’s as essential as water to fish. It’s easier for me to combine it with intermittent fasting (IF) since low-carbohydrate eating is not possible on-the-go in my small town with few to zero healthy choices. And with my headlong dive into low-carb fasting, I went back to Dr. Jason Fung’s The Obesity Code in earnest.
His book, of all things, inspired me to seek the spiritual side of fasting as opposed to simple IF as a lifestyle choice or way of eating (WoE). God has blessed my prayer life immensely through this season, and I am so humbled and grateful for it. I asked for the Holy Spirit to bear the fruit of self-control in me, and God has graciously granted a cornucopia.
My average daily steps have gone from 3,500 to 10,000+. Walking while praying go together for me like coffee and a cigar. Being able to wake up to the early quiet, read, and prayer-walk is a wondrous, beautiful, simple gift from the Lord.
After my morning prayer, I take a cold shower. Yes. You read that correctly. Look up the health benefits. And the craziest thing? I feel so much better and cleaner than after a hot shower. The icy flow that cuts at first soothes like minty cream after 2-3 minutes.
My next new incorporation to a healthier lifestyle is homemade probiotic yogurt. I’ve read from Dr. William Davis of the newfound importance of gut health (the microbiome) and plan to learn more while I try restoring populations of healthy bacteria I starved while gluttonously eating like a child let lose in a bakery for years.
Prayer and meditation on the Lord are more so on my mind since I start my day with them and fast intermittently. I now call prayer needs to mind throughout the day as easily as hens to corn. God has answered my prayer and changed me, sanctifying me for the better recently. Praise Him.
V1 Are you not good? Do I not have your favor? Is all my hope in vain that I have such a Savior: A Lord who’s near, near to the brokenhearted Who hears the righteous cry and saves the crushed in Spirit? When all other ground gives way Still my breaking voice will say
C I will rest on who You are For who You are is sure Eternal and Unchanging One Your promises endure When all I have is this On who You are, God, I will rest
V2 Should I have doubt? My faith is greatly shaken My feet can scarcely stand on Christ, the sure foundation In my own strength, I’d fall in but a moment So hold fast to me now for, Jesus, I am broken When all other ground gives way Though this weary heart you slay
V3 Are you not love? Do you not have compassion Are you not moved that I, your child, feel so abandoned? I know you hear; I am not lost in silence In my heart hides your Word, a well of deep assurance When all other ground gives way You remain my hope and stay
My Help and my Hope: high above, ever near
Unto Your servant incline now Your ear
Though fleeting this breath You have given to me
Poured out like water, a drop in the sea
Yes brief are my days, but Yours without end
Still my voice You hear; to my cry You attend
What wonderful joy! What marvelous peace!
Your aid shall not fail me, Your grace never cease
O, be my salvation, my ark on the wave
When storms of sin would sink me to the grave
For darkness appears and the clouds hasten night
Fix my eyes firmly on Your dawning light
If not for the Lamb, torn that I be whole
The thorn of the curse would lie cut through my soul
What favor abounds! What riches untold!
Yourself, my possession; Your Word mine to hold
What debt must be settled? What more could You give?
Love’s work is finished; by death now I live
So plant me to grow and then prune me to bear
In Christ abiding, upheld by Your care
To stranger and kin will I testify–
Till all breath is spent and to my gain I die–
That You hear and have regarded my plea
My Help and my Hope You forever shall be
24 Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, 25 but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.
Of the several categories of the Psalms, lament and imprecatory are the two that really suffer from a lack of teaching in the modern American church, to the point of being completely ignored in many settings. Even so, the difficulty our modern sensibilities face with the lament Psalms is nothing compared to that of the imprecatory Psalms. Why? Simply read the definition: an imprecation, according to Merriam-Webster, is a curse; or the act of invoking evil upon another. Psalm 10, verses 12 through 15 are an example of imprecatory prayer in the Psalms:
12 Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. 13 Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”? 14 But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.
Recently, in the December 27, 2020 Sunday School lesson from Bible Studies for Life, a publication of the Southern Baptist Convention entity Lifeway, the commentary in the leader guide said the imprecatory psalms are, QUOTE “pre-Christian,” and, QUOTE “don’t fully reflect the ethic taught by Jesus” ENDQUOTE. Did what is ethical or moral change with Jesus Christ establishing the New Covenant? No, but imprecatory prayer does warrant an awareness and certain posture of our hearts before God.
Bob Rodgers, pastor of Evangel World Prayer Center in Louisville, Kentucky, caused quite a stir on Sunday, January 10th when he prayed curses down upon those to whom he attributed election theft and cheating. QUOTE “Father those that have lied, those that have stolen this election, those that have cheated I place the curse of God upon them. … I curse you with poverty, I curse you with the worst year you’ve ever had in the name of the lord” ENDQUOTE. Several pastors local to Rodgers have publicly rebuked him, with one describing his prayer as QUOTE “hate and evil in the name of God …” ENDQUOTE.
Rodgers appeared to alter his stance somewhat after the backlash, removing the video of the curses from social media and telling a WHAS reporter, QUOTE “This is a prayer not to curse people but to curse the demonic forces that people have allowed to rule them. … I do pray that trouble will come to them if they don’t repent and that they will turn from their wicked ways” ENDQUOTE.
So who’s right? Is it necessarily “hate and evil in the name of God” to “place the curse of God” on others? We know King David prayed imprecatory prayers. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, he wrote imprecatory psalms. But we must remember the immortal–yet re-contextualized here–words of Matt Chandler: QUOTE “You’re not David!” ENDQUOTE We don’t know with 100% certainty who is God’s enemy; we don’t know who is elect. We do know we are to love our neighbor and that God loves justice. Psalm 33, verses four and five say: “For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.”
We will not err in seeking a balance of love for our neighbor and love for God’s law. We will not err in seeking a balance of mercy and justice. In exercising wisdom, we see there is a place for praying imprecatory prayers with love as the main reason to do so. Dr. William VanDoodewaard says when he prayed with his family concerning a dictator, they prayed, QUOTE “Oh Lord, please convert this man; but if he’s not going to repent, please remove him” ENDQUOTE. Take care to remember Ephesians 6:12 when you pray: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
With a careful reading of the New Testament, we see examples of properly prayed imprecations. Dr. Robert Godfrey said, QUOTE “it is not illegitimate to use the imprecations of the psalter to pray for judgment on God’s enemies. Every time we pray, ‘Come quickly Lord Jesus,’ we’re praying an imprecation on God’s enemies. When Jesus comes again, there will be judgment for God’s enemies” ENDQUOTE. And Dr. Albert Mohler contends that our Lord Jesus Christ himself prayed an imprecation in a sense, and taught us to do so at that, in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Dr. Mohler indicated that in the Lord’s Prayer is the reality that QUOTE “[t]here is a judgment coming” PAUSE.
14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
In this episode, Ryan gives his recommendations for trying out the wonderfully relaxing and contemplative hobby of pipe smoking. He also talks about what he and his fellow elders have done during the quarantine to shepherd the church family.