Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lenten Relationship

As I read through several texts today, I was struck by God's great desire for relationship with us. He doesn't want sacrifice or discipline just for their sake alone. His desire is that through sacrifice and discipline we would continue to engage in authentic relationship with Him (read Psalm 50 as an example).

During this season of Lent I typically engage in various spiritual disciplines, including writing in this blog. But I wonder, is my relationship more with these disciplines, or do they drive me deeper into relationship with the One who invites me to the disciplines? I realize there are times when we just muscle our way through the spiritual disciplines, after all, that's why they are called disciplines! But I hope I never forget that these are simply tools that the Spirit can use in my life to help me relate to the Lord of all life.

Lord, thank you for using the disciplines of Lent to help me live in covenant relationship with You.

Lenten Blessings

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lenten Suffering

So I find myself at the ER with some friends tonight. It seems like an almost fitting end to a bizarre day.

This morning I spent some time with another friend whose mom had been in a pretty serious car accident. She lives in another town, so for a few hours he didn't know what was happening. This afternoon I visited three people from our congregation who have recently experienced time in the hospital, or were still there. Now I am sitting in the waiting room while my other friends are in the back with their baby.

As I sit here and look around at all the other sick people in here waiting to be seen, I am reminded of a principle of ministry I learned a long time ago - sometimes the greatest thing we can do is simply be with people. We can offer them our prayers, and maybe some words of encouragement, but what we really offer them is our friendship and the Presence of Christ among us.

And there is the beauty of Lent. We use this season to remember that Christ came to our world to become one of us and to identify with our suffering, our pain, our anguish. His willingness to come and experience life like us, in turn allows Him the privilege of entering into our suffering with us. He meets us in the midst of our suffering and offers us the ministry of His Presence.

Lenten Blessings

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Men of God

On Sunday mornings, I come to the church early to unlock everything, turn on the lights, and make sure the heat/air is on. Most Sundays I am out of the house and at the church before any of the rest of my family is out of bed.

Last night Shaw told me he wanted to come with me this morning, because he wanted to "see what I do." We have had the best time together!

One of the discussion we had centered around Shaw's desire to be like David. He just thinks he was a cool guy. That of course got me talking about why he wanted to be like him, and how I thought that even with all of David's failures and triumphs, he was a great person to emulate, mainly because he was a man whose heart beat after God's heart. The conversation progressed enough that I even showed him Psalm 51 for him to read. Needless to say, I have cherished these moments together!

But that has me thinking on this First Sunday of Lent - isn't that what this season is actually all about? Our willingness to come before God in pure honesty and openness, and asking Him to create within us clean hearts before Him - hearts that beat after His.

This Lent, I want to be like Shaw too.

Lenten Blessings

Raw Honesty

So my sermon for this week centers on the next Beatitude:

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

One of the things God has helped me to see in studying this small, but powerful phrase is that purity in heart isn't about my ability to be pure, but in my willingness to be completely raw and honest before God.

Isn't that the essence of what Lent is all about?

Lenten blessings.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


After a stress-filled Ash Wednesday, and leading a small Ash Wednesday gathering for some of our folks last night, I logged in this morning and discovered that one of my old friends has taken up the discipline of writing for Lent. That was inspirational to me, so I have decided to try and follow suit.

I posted a small comment on his blog to commend him for his discipline, and as I was preparing to sign off my comment, I was struck with a thought...what kind of greetings do you bring someone during the season of Lent? It doesn't really seem appropriate to wish someone, "Happy Lent" since this is not really supposed to be a season of joy and frivolity.

I decided to just wish him, "Lenten Blessings" which may seem like a similar moniker to "Happy Lent," but I see it very differently. If we are really willing to embrace the ideas of repentance and discipline during this season, there is a sense in which we can discover blessing in the discipline.

One of the passages we read together last night at the Ash Wednesday Service was from Hebrews 12:1-14. In this text, the writer expresses the sentiment that our Heavenly Father offers us discipline because He loves us as His children. He acknowledges that no discipline is pleasant at the time, but later can be seen as a source of growth and blessing in our lives. Perhaps there is even a way for us to see the beauty and blessing in the midst of Lent, simply because the discipline we may be receiving from our Heavenly Father is coming to us from His pure heart of love for us, His children! What a blessing to be so considered God's child that we are recipients of his discipline!

Lenten Blessings!