Lent, pt. 8

God gave me a sign today.

I wait tables at the Olive Garden a few days a week.

og

I wouldn’t say it is rare but I don’t see people praying for their meals very often.

Today was different. It was a lady in her early thirties and, perhaps, her mother or even grandmother. Please forgive me if I am way off on these estimates.

After I had set down their salad, they bowed their heads and prayed. I was at another table so I don’t think they saw me.

Until I asked them permission to use their example in this blog.

Little did they know that earlier today, I had been thinking about the following verse:

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” NIV, Matthew 6:6 

Click here for the entire chapter.

There is much focus on the outward appearance when it comes to Lent.

What are you giving up?

Are you praying more?

Did you attend church/mass this week?

Those things are good so please keep doing them if you have started.

But don’t announce it.

By all means, keep praying at restaurants. These things speak volumes.

What I am saying is that being with Jesus will have a natural effect.

Spend time with Jesus and let him seep out of you.

Overflow with the Spirit because you have let him fill you.

Actions speak louder than words but silence shouts the loudest.

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” NIV, Acts 4:13

How loud are you talking?

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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!

 

It is Finished!!!

It is finished! Frankly, I am glad to be rid of the negative commercials and all the hateful stuff that seemed to surround this election. 

The American people have spoken. We have elected a new president. I hope all you fellow Americans got out to vote. It feels good to vote. I played my part. Freedom is wonderful.

This blog is not about to get political so don’t be concerned. I did, however, have a thought when I saw this map.

2016-electoral-map

***This map is not accurate***

For instance, I live in Wisconsin. After some checking, I found that Wisconsin should be red on a map like this.

So please don’t get picky about certain states. I want you to look at the whole picture.

You see mostly the color red. Red is the color of the Republican candidate. In past elections, there may have been more blue states.


Here is the thought that passed through my brain when I saw this map.

What color does God see when he looks at America? 

No, I am not talking about a certain candidate. I am speaking about a far greater and much more important issue.

Sin. 

In the Old Testament, we have a vivid picture of what God sees when it comes to sin.

Here is a summary from Exodus 12:12-13, 21-23:

12“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord13The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

21Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.” Bold emphasis is mine.

passover-door

The Israelites needed the blood to survive that night. If God saw the blood, they were spared. 

Jesus shed his blood on the cross. He cried out “It is finished!”

You and I can now have a covering of blood. We can be washed of our sin!

Again, What color does God see when he looks at you?

On a personal note: Has Jesus covered you with his blood? Are you forgiven by Him?

On a public note: Can we pray for our country to be covered by the blood of Jesus? In fact, not just the United States of America but all the countries of the world. Jesus died once and for all!

 

What’s in the box?

One of my favorite things to do is to open a new board game. Just taking the lid off the box is fun! All the pieces, bits, dice, cards, tiles, etc. are just so cool! This unveiling does not happen a whole lot but when I can, I thoroughly enjoy it.

game-shelf

P.S. That is not my game library! =-(

Dive in with me now as I unbox Divine Transfusion. Click here to read the full post.


Recap:

In the Old Testament, the high priest could only enter the Holy of Holies once a year. To do so, he had to sacrifice an animal and sprinkle the blood before him. He would die without the blood.

Jesus, as we read in Hebrews, used his own blood and entered the Holy of Holies. He was both high priest and sacrifice. This he did once and never has it been needed to be done again. See Hebrews 4-10.

As I have asked myself and also in my blogs…

So what? What does this mean for me, right now, in 2016?

To answer that all-encompassing question, we need to open the box.

I will begin by citing a verse from Matthew 27. Verse 51 reads,

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split.” NIV

The context is that Jesus has been crucified. He is hanging on a cross just outside Jerusalem. It is about 3:00 in the afternoon. After some final words, he finally dies. Matthew records that at that same time, the curtain was torn. I add the King James Version just because I like the language better for this verse.

“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” KJV

Behold! The curtain was ripped, torn, rent so we could now see God.

So we could now see God. Yep, the box has been opened.

I don’t really know what it looked like but who cares because now we can see God. Yes, God has opened the way for us. Notice how the veil was rent from top to bottom?

God did it because we could not. All this is possible because of the blood. No, not animal blood but the Blood of Jesus.

We now have access to God. Don’t bother with second best. Go directly to God with your life. All your problems and issues can be covered in the blood. You life won’t instantly turn perfect and peachy but you won’t walk alone. This is a greatly encouraging fact.

One more verse to rock your world. Hebrews again. Hebrews is a fantastic book.

Chapter 4, verses 14-16:

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Underline is mine.

So be bold today and go directly to God. No worries, he will welcome you with open arms.

And that box is better than any board game I will ever play.

board-game-box

Something familiar yet strange again.

So I was thinking…pondering something today. A certain verse came to my mind this morning and it has been bouncing around all day.

But I don’t really understand it. It boggles my mind. I made scrambled eggs for my kids this morning. It feels like my mind is just like those eggs, all scrambled.

This verse is one that I have known for as long as I can remember. But today, I felt like it was a new verse, one I had never heard before. It seemed to be so full of promise and hope.

All I need is for God to open my eyes (Psalm 119) to the depth and richness of His words. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will guide me into all truth (John 16).

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Words so engrained yet they barely register. If I am ‘in’ Christ, I am new. I didn’t feel old. Maybe not old but dead.

Yes, that’s it. Dead. No purpose. No sense or reason to live. Sin had it’s way with me. I was dead but now I alive, new!

All because of Christ. Everything is a result of what He has done. Everything. He is the vine and I am a branch.

I can’t do anything without Him.

I don’t own anything without Him.

I am nothing. Old.

BUT WITH HIM…I can do anything.

I have anything and everything I need. He is my all and everything.

 

Wow…”The old has gone, the new is here!”