Why Lent?

But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

Deuteronomy 4:29 (KJV)

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Parts of this blog come from Ash Wednesday 2011. I would have written a completely new one, but as I read over this much of it remains the same. I think since I wrote the original post near three years ago, I’ve come to ponder things a little more as Ash Wednesday approaches.

First though, I want to say I’m not trying to dog on religious activities, I’m only trying to get you to see beyond…

When I hear of people prepping for what they’ll do without during Lent, I start thinking about what I’ll give up and then I’ll push it aside. But last night, while I was trying to sleep and couldn’t, I kept running things I could give up through my head with more seriousness than I’ve done over the last few years, and then I’d question myself, why?

Why participate in Lent? In all honesty I really don’t know. It’s not like going without sugar, although difficult, has any comparison to what Jesus gave up for me. It’s not like I need to give up Facebook to prove I love the Lord more than anything else in the world. God knows the thoughts and intents of my heart, more so that I do.

 

I’ve never been one to celebrate ‘traditional’ holidays that date back to the 900s. And I’ve never been one to observe Catholic rituals. After all, much to my poor mother-in-law’s chagrin, I’m not Catholic. Of course, the Catholic Churches aren’t the only ones dusting their foreheads in ash on this good Wednesday. Many other denominations will be participating in this ritualistic act of repentance.

Truly I am no scholar and I have not a single hour of theology beneath my belt, and maybe I’m completely missing the point of this observance, maybe I’m just not getting it at all. Somehow, we’re suppose to mimic Christ’s 40 days of temptation in the desert by giving up red meat, or soda, or video games or whatever we can come up with to do without. I don’t see how there is any comparison. Jesus’ time of temptation was much greater than anything we could imagine, with much more at stake than cost we would pay if we failed. And if you tell me that we are to give up something and replace it with prayer when temptation occurs, well shouldn’t we be doing that any way?

Not that I have this perfected, not any where close, but shouldn’t I be doing this? Shouldn’t my mornings start with ‘Good morning, Lord, what is it you’d have me do today?’ and end with ‘Good night, Lord, thank you for the many blessings you’ve bestowed upon me’? Shouldn’t I turn to Him all throughout my day for the good and the bad?

In my story, The Guardian’s Promise, (yeah, I’m going there) Ari’s life was filled with rituals. Without those rituals he feels as if God has abandoned him, but he soon realizes that it’s not the rituals that brought God to him, it’s his heart and the relationship he builds with God outside of those rituals.

Rituals are nothing more than a prescribed procedure, according to dictionary.com Who prescribed this ritual? Was it the Lord, or was it a man-made ritual designed to offer us some sort of salvation if we succeed?

Whenever I come across a religious ritual, my first question is to see if it has any Biblical basis.

Job said in reply to the Lord: I know that You can do everything, That nothing you propose is impossible for You. Who is this who obscures counsel without knowledge? Indeed, I spoke without understanding of things beyond me, which I did not know. Hear now, and I will speak; I will ask, and You will inform me. I had heard You in my ears, But now I see You with my eyes; Therefore, I recant and relent, Being but dust and ashes. Job 42:1-6 (JSB)

Verse 6 in the NIV says: Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

Oh, Lord! Show us your Word, reveal it to us this very moment.

Can you not see? Job, in the face of God’s greatness, in the face of what God had revealed to him through his trials, understood he knew nothing about who God really was, knew nothing about God’s love. I imagine Job’s cry out to Adonai was that soul wrenching keening, “God, oh, God, I never want to go back to the way things were. I never want to go back to just existing day after day, rising in the morning only to lie down in the evening. I never again want to experience my life apart from You, O Lord, just going through the motions.”

Just as God worked through Jesus’ temptation in the desert, God also revealed himself to Job in a great magnificent way, a way we can never really fathom. I want to challenge you during Lent, to not just give up something, or many things, I want to challenge you to seek God’s face, honestly and truly. To ask Him to reveal Himself to you.

 

 

 

 

 

Something to Think About

Isaiah 40:2 says, ” Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (NIV). I love this passage as it shows God’s great mercy and love her his rebellious children. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, let her know her redemption is nigh. And I’ll be honest here, I’m not sure how to take that last bit, but to me it seems as if the Lord is saying that not only has Jerusalem paid her dues for her rebelliousness, but that He will restore her with twice what she had before. Maybe I’m reading a little more into what is really there, but look at Job. After all his trials and tribulations, after all had been stripped from him God gave him twice as much as he had before.

When I look at how Job’s family and friends came to him and brought with them gifts, I see a realization of God’s goodness and glory. The scriptures say they came to comfort and console Job, but I’m wondering if he really needed consolation for God had already brought restoration and healing to Job. So too, when Jerusalem receives her complete restoration and healing will God’s glory be revealed.

“And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 40:5

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 Now, I have the great honor and privilege to pray for all of my wonderful friends as they congregate in St. Louis for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference.

Father God, I lift all those bodies in attendance to you. I pray above all Your name be glorified and hearts will be touched that all may know You are the one true God. For those first time attendees, I pray you calm their spirits and give them Your peace. May they be attentive to what it is You’d have them learn. As they ready for their pitch appointments grant them focus and coherent speech. May You close doors meant to be closed and open wide opportunities that they would know Your will.

Father, I lift Joy, Ane, Susie H., Delia, Susie M., Ralene, Donna G., Sarah, Fred, Lora, Barbara, Bob, Daniel and Stephanie as they enjoy and participate in the conference. Bless them greatly with fellowship. I lift up Sally to you as she waits for word on her manuscript entered into the Genesis. Father, she is such a blessing to those around her, I pray you give her the desires of her heart. And I lift up Susan F.’s family as they deal with family medical issues. Father, you are the Great and Holy healer. You are the ultimate Comforter.

And Father God, I lift Jerusalem to You. Father may You remember Your promises to Your City. May her eyes be opened to Your will, reveal Your glory, may she recall her first love, may she turn her eyes back to You, O God, may she be like a precious ruby.

In Your son Jesus’s name,

Amen

Show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day.
Psalm 25:4-5

On Thee do I wait all the day. The NIV translation says “my hope is in you all day long”. Our hope should always be in Him, even when circumstances seem hopeless. Especially when circumstances seem hopeless.

Do your circumstances seem hopeless? Place your hope in God.

Whoa! A V-8 Moment

I know I’m a little thick around the edges. And I’m not always the sharpest tool in the shed. Believe me when I say I don’t always get dumb blonde jokes.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been struggling. It’s difficult to untie a group of knots if you don’t know which one to untie first. Last weekend I attended a small Christian writer’s conference. I went knowing I had a divine appointment. What that particular divine appointment was I’m still trying to figure out, but after the Opening Keynote given by the awesome Terry Burns, I rushed to my room and wanted nothing more than to throw myself on the hotel bed and cry.

No, he didn’t attack personally attack me. He talked about being called to write verses an offering.  When I began writing about five years ago, I knew it was a calling. Ever since I’ve decided to write in the Inspirational market I feel like I’ve been floundering.  And not very gracefully.

A while back during my prayer time over my writing, God distinctly told me to finish a particular project. Now this particular project isn’t necessarily Inspirational but there is a lot of faith woven into the pages. Why would God want me to focus on a non-inspirational project when I have two other projects that are Inspirational?

*shrugs*

What I do know is that last night while I was out walking and praying–more like wallowing in self-pity–God distinctly said, “I told you to finish LATP.” My particular response was much like a teenager’s. “If you want me to finish it then give me the time to do it. And by word, make the words flow during the few minutes I might have when I do sit down to write.”

Well, later in the evening my brain cleared enough and ideas began to flow on how to end the book. Of course, in order for the ending to work I have to make a few changes to the middle.

Anyway, back on to the WHOA!  I’m called to serve God, be a wife and a mother. Those things obviously come first in my life. Other things in my life are like offerings. When I write blogs, devotionals, lead a Bible study, and encourage other writers, those things along with all those other little things are all offerings. They are above and beyond my callings, yet the offerings tend to come before some of my callings.

It was very clear to me earlier this afternoon that as long as my priorities are out-of-order things just won’t fall into place as they should.

Who’s First?

They consult a wooden idol and are answered by a stick of wood. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray, they are unfaithful to their God. Hosea 4:12b

Do you consult a wooden stick in times of adversity? It seems ridiculous in this day and age, doesn’t it? But is it really? Think about it. Who is the first on your contact list? God? Your sister? Your mother? Your bff?