Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What Are You Giving Up?

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Colossians 2:20-23 

I love the Easter season even more than Christmas. No frenzied store sales, excessive buying, or parties to attend. Just a breathless anticipation of spring and the celebration of the resurrection of my Savior. There’s a feeling of rejuvenation each year as daffodils push their little yellow heads up toward the warm sun, Bradford pear trees sprout beautiful white blooms, and the grass suddenly turns green as life begins anew. Christians mark the beginning of the countdown to Easter with a period known as Lent.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never given up anything for Lent. At least not that I can remember. My son once gave up pizza as young teen, and it was a long 40 days! J Growing up as a Methodist, we had little offering booklets with 40 slots to insert a quarter for each day of Lent. We placed our filled booklets in the offering plate on Easter. Or at least that was the idea. We often didn’t have two quarters to rub together, so filling that booklet was a challenge.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the self-denial that marks the Lenten season. I can understand giving up cigarettes or excessive eating or something like that since our bodies are the temple of the Lord. If you manage to give up a vice for 40 days, your chances of sticking with it beyond that are really good. Even giving up a television show that consumes time that could be spent in prayer or Bible study is an excellent idea. But chocolate or the other things I hear mentioned seem more like what Martin Luther fought against in the time preceding Reformation. In other words, self-sacrifice that somehow makes us feel more righteous or more of a Christian isn’t what God wants from us. He wants our love and devotion and, as Christians, to reflect that love into the world around us 365 days a year.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’ve chosen to participate in self-denial during the Lenten season, that’s between you and God. He’s the only one who knows your motives and what glory your actions will bring to Him. I pray that your actions do just that.

Maybe an even better idea than self-denial would be to give more of ourselves to Christ. What can I do to bring more glory to Him? To bring others to Christ? Or rework my schedule so I’m spending more time in prayer and Bible study? Or maybe volunteer my time to a worthwhile cause that will reflect Christ's love to those I'm serving?

My ultimate goal this Lenten season is to continue to become more like Christ in order to further His Great Commission. As I think of it in that light, a certain amount of self-sacrifice will be a necessary part of my success.

Have you decided to give up something for Lent? If not, how do you plan to mark the Lenten season?

Meanwhile, if you have a prayer request, please leave a comment or e-mail me confidential requests. I’d love to pray for you. While you’re here, would you lift up others in prayer who leave comments? A permanent prayer list is also at the top of the blog.

This heartbreaking prayer request was shared last week on our prayer list:
Please pray for little 2 year old Katie Barkley. She was in an auto accident, both C1 & C2 broken, spinal cord stretched, blood clot on brain (left side of brain is dead), and a stroke. Doctors are telling the family Katie will be a quadriplegia - from neck down. This is so difficult for us to believe - since Katie was an active 2 year old - playing, watching TV & enjoying life to the fullest...PLEASE PRAY FOR KATIE…Our hearts are broken...If you want to follow her on social media - please join us on FB at "Pray for little 2 year old Katie Barkley." Thank you.

Please join me in prayer for Katie and her family. If you’re reading this blog post, know that you’re in my prayers today, as well.

God bless,

Would you like a devotion delivered to your e-mail each day of Lent? Sign up at Gateway Bible.
Additional reading on Lent: 

Bible/cross/crown image courtesy of lamnee/
Daffodils image courtesy of Arvind Balaramen/
Praying image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

©Laura Hodges Poole


  1. laura i must have missed last weeks blog because i did not know about the little 2 yr old. i am so very sorry. please give her and her family our love and let them know we will be praying and telling others to pray also.
    btw- i have never given up anything for lent but this blog has made me think about doing so.

    1. Thanks, Betty, for always joining me in prayer. God bless you.

  2. I have never given anything up for lent.... as I didn't grow up in a faith that observed that. But over the years I tend to wonder what I could give up for 40 days..... the Lord gave His life for me.... surely there is something that I could give up for Him for 40 days. I still haven't been led to that "thing" to give up. I love your thought on this thought.... could I spend 40 days giving....... Of course it would not be like Christ giving His life for me. But in order to be more like Him and in respect and honor of what He did for me. Just a few thoughts.... giving a smile to the person walking by a card to a of myself to help a single children's books to a shelter.... giving my time to a a hug to someone that is going through a something that is of sacrifice.....not just call the florist and send some flowers....not just giving extra in the offering plate....
    Thank you for giving me something to really consider for Lent!

    1. You're welcome, Piper. So glad you stopped by and shared your thoughts, and that you were blessed by the post. God bless you.

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I've been pondering Lent (and self-denial in general) this morning. As I was considering passions that people give up (like the Amish stories I've read about them giving up musical instruments -the passion of my own that I'm pondering how to give God glory through at the moment- or writing fiction or painting, etc.) It just seemed inconsistent with the character of a creative, passionate God to ask us to give up good things that we may be passionate about- unless they are hindering His plan for us in some way. It seemed to me that God did not design us to deny our passions; only to prioritize them correctly. And then I read of others taking part in Lent and question myself and if I'm just unwilling to give up what I love. (And granted, people aren't necessarily using this time to give up their greatest passions; many use it as you mentioned to rid themselves of unhealthy behavior, and that's great. This is just the slant I have been taking on it.) So I appreciate your balanced thoughts on the topic. I like the idea of focusing on what more you can give to Christ and of pursuing a more sustainable way of living. Not that short term self denial is bad. I think I'm just going to stop over explaining myself now! :)

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Diana. You're right--the Amish are a good example of self-denial. I agree that God did not design us to deny our passions but rather keep them in perspective. If they rise above God, then it's time to take a step back and consider giving them up. God bless you.

  4. My heart aches for little Katie and her family. I will certainly be praying!

    Lent reminds me of Fasting. Too often our motivations reveal our true intent- too look good and religious or to draw closer to the heart of God.

    One thing I've often given up for Fasts is social media/entertainment. This includes all TV watching and reading anything that isn't drawing me close to God. When I fast in this manner I am really challenged, more than when I fast from food.

    1. That's a good idea for fasting. We (especially Americans) are so hooked on social media and anything electronic. Maybe even more so than food. Thanks for sharing. God bless you.