Lent, pt. 2

1. Lent is a choice.

No one can make me more holy.

No organization can make me a better person.

No ritual or habit will improve my standing with God.


2. It was my choice to observe Lent this year.

I thought that I might feel differently than I did before Lent.

Sure, it is only day 2 but there is no difference in today or any other Thursday.

Feelings. Can’t really trust them. I feel the same.


Choices and emotions. 

They do go together but in a certain order.

It seems to me that living for God and following Jesus involves both; choice and emotion.

I think that I need to choose the right thing and then I will feel the right thing.

Restated, choosing right brings right feelings.

I made some choices based on feelings today.

I think that tomorrow will bring more opportunities to make choices.

And I am going to make them based on truth and faith, not feelings.

Or at least I am going to try.

Chin up friend, seek God first (choice) and all these things (emotion) will be added to you.

Good night and God bless!

 

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My Thoughts on Lent, pt. 1

Day 1 is coming to a close. How did it go for you?

Did you make it to a service today? Was there an ash cross on your forehead?

ash-wednesday-st-pats

This post was difficult for me. I have so many ideas, questions, and ramblings about Lent that I am not sure where to start.

So I figured that would be the best place to start.

Sometimes, the most difficult step is the first one.

I did not expect the heavens to split and an angelic choir to start bellowing out sweet harmonies just because I started something new.

All I did was to take the first step.

Most of my conversations about Lent involve this question:

“What are you giving up for Lent?”

Well, I must be backwards because I am adding something, not giving up anything. I am taking the first step towards a deeper walk with God.

Sure, it can be scary because the future is never certain. Just ask the Israelites! 

For you, today might have been the first day to give up something. Perhaps you went to church today. Or maybe, just maybe, you prayed for the first time in a long time.

Good for you because you took a step.

For me, Lent is not about a religious activity or ritualistic action.

It is about a relationship adjustment.

I want Lent to be life-changing. And that meant taking the first step.

So when the alarm goes off at 5:00 AM tomorrow, I plan on taking step two.

5 am

God bless and good night!

Don’t Forget to Clean the Lint Trap!

Have you ever forgotten to clean the lint catcher thingy in your dryer?

clean-the-filter

It’s called a lint trap. It traps the lint into a confined space so it can be easily removed. Hopefully before starting any fires!

It is recommended that the trap be cleaned after every dryer use. Safety first! =-)


The season of Lent is almost here. Ash Wednesday, March 6, marks the beginning of Lent. Over a month later, 40 days later, we arrive at Easter.

Disclaimer: With my background, I have never intentionally observed Lent. It was not something I was taught while growing up. My comments about Lent are based upon my observations and conversations alone. If I get something wrong, I apologize. Please feel free to provide correction in the comments.

Now that I have cleared that up, let me ask a question:

How is a lint trap connected to Lent?

Keep reading and we can make that connection together!

For my purpose here, I will define Lent as I understand it:

Lent: a season of prayer and fasting to grow in relationship with God.

As I stated, Lent is not in my personal history. But I like the idea.

As a follower of Jesus, growing in relationship is my primary goal. God is largely unknown to us, but He wants to reveal Himself to us. The Bible makes this clear that God has provided access to Himself. All we need to do is to accept that gift and press in!

Lent seems like a great way to accomplish this goal!

But there is a trap! No, not a lint trap but a Lent trap! (see the connection?)

Matthew 6 describes people who have fallen into the Lent trap. Here is the first verse:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

He, Jesus, goes on to talk about prayer and also fasting. This passage contains the Lord’s Prayer as well.

The summary goes like this: when you pray, fast, give money, serve etc., do it for God, not the approval of man. There is no reward for showing off for people. God honors those whose motive is pure.

It seems that some people can observe Lent but for the wrong reasons. They give up meat on Fridays. Perhaps they forego sweets. But why? Just because the church said so?

I want this post to address the heart of the matter. If you observe Lent or not, you can still fall into the Lent trap.

Why you do something can be just as important as what you do.

In case you are wondering, I am going to observe Lent this year. First time for everything!

I have my list of things that I will do or not do. I am ready.

list making

As we embark on the Lent this year, do it for God. He wants a deep and fulfilling relationship with you. And frankly, that is what we need also!

So in the midst of your prayer, fasting, giving, etc., make God the priority. Do your best to avoid the Lent trap!

One last thing before I sign off. If you are curious or wondering what the 40 day journey of Lent looks like, come follow me on mine.

I will be posting every night during Lent. Let us share in God’s goodness together!

God bless you in your endeavors this year!

 

What should the title be?

Faith. What is it? There are many bible verses about faith but what do we really know about faith?

Feelings. What are they? We all experience them everyday. How do they function? Are they random?

I pose to you this question: Which one, faith or feelings, should influence our decision-making on a day-to-day basis?

confused

I hope to answer that in the next 70 seconds or so.


Faith. Again, the Bible has an exhausting amount of information about faith. Many of the Old Testament people had faith. Jesus talked about it in the Gospels. The rest of the New Testament also speaks to faith. Pretty important? Yep.

But how does faith influence my daily life? Do I need faith to put on socks? Is faith a requirement to hop in the car and drive to work?

What process do I go through to inject faith into my day?

Let’s talk about feelings for a moment.

How are you today? Personally, I rather dislike that question. It becomes routine to ask and responding to it is superficial. That is a generalization, of course but you get the picture, right?

Our feelings can be all over the place or non-existent. They creep up on us when we are least prepared. Overwhelmed by feelings? Sometimes. Other times, I struggle to display anything at all.

Same response, how do feelings influence my daily life? What if I don’t feel like doing something. Do I just not do it? I feel like today is good. So does feeling that way make that day better than other days?

The whole reason for this post is that this idea of faith vs. feelings has been swimming around in my brain for two weeks now. Time to pull the plug on the pool and see what remains.

Without preamble, here is what I think:

Faith should drive my decisions and feelings will follow.

Jesus talked about what it looks like to be a Christ-follower. And honestly, I cannot recall any parts where he addresses feelings. On a larger scale, the whole Bible speaks more to faith than feelings.

Alright then, faith it is. Simple right? Not always. We are a fallen people and so the body we live in is also fallen. Feelings can be extremely powerful. They are not necessarily bad but they can mislead. Feelings can also be great allies in certain occasions.

God said that greater is He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world.

confidence

See I John 4 for the context of that verse. Whatever you may be facing, ask God to give you faith to make it through. Try not to let your feelings be the rudder of your life. Let God, through faith, direct your path.

That might have been more than 70 seconds so thanks for sticking with it.

God Bless!

 

Kindling and cliches.

Happy New Year! You will hear that phrase many times today. Maybe 50 times. 100? Who knows. No doubt, there will be some people who actually mean it. They are sincere in wishing you a happy 2019.

But there are others who say it just because it is a good thing to say. They are using a cliché. Just hollow words.

I don’t mean to be negative minded today. Personally, when I hear that phrase, it will be fuel to my fire.

pouring_gasoline_on_fire

When I say fuel to my fire, I am referring to two verses in the New Testament.

II Timothy 1:6-7

“6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

2019 can be a miraculous year. See my last post for details. Anatomy of a Miracle

Those verses have been familiar to me for most of my life. Very recently though, they took new meaning for me.

Catch the second part of verse 6. These words can be revolutionary.

“…which is in you…”

Everything God needs to accomplish His will is already in you. He put it there when you were being formed in the womb. All your life, you have had the skill, talent, ability, resource, etc. for exactly what God will have you do.

But sometimes it is easy to forget that fact.

So whether the ‘Happy New Years’ you hear today are heart-felt or empty words, remember this: fan into flame the gift of God!

Let those clichés turn into kindling!

fan into flame

Make the choice to use the stuff of life to grow the fire in you.

Who knows, something might just catch on fire!