Tag Archives: easter

Prepare your heart to sing!

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Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary fainthearted.  Hebrews 12:2-3

My prayer for the week is based on  this verse.

Prepare my heart, oh Lord.  Lead me to the cross.  Help me to reflect on what Jesus’ last days on Earth mean to me, personally.  Allow the magnitude of what He endured to penetrate my heart. Help me to understand the sacrifice but not lose sight of the joy! Forgive me for the times of self-pity when I forget all that you have done for me. For the days when I choose to lean on my own understanding, second-guess your plan and continue on my own way, I pray that you gently remind me that your ways are higher than mine.  Father you have graciously provided all that I need yet there are days when I remain unsatisfied.  Open my eyes on these days and help me find answers and satisfaction in knowing You.  Thank you for your direction, and limitless patience and love. Amen

Max Lucado says, “Lent is that season when we stare directly at our own mortality.  We make tiny sacrifices of our own to recall the incomparable sacrifice Christ made for us.  It might all sound quite dreary, except on the other side of Lent is the enormous spiritual crescendo of Easter.”  The musician in me loves that – “enormous spiritual crescendo of Easter.” I can feel it building already.  This glorious vibrant Hallelujah chorus building slowly and expectantly, waiting to be sung in celebration of this journey that ends in resurrection, but first must come by way of temptation, humiliation, and the cross.

I challenge you to dust out the corners of your heart this week. Maybe what you need to give up for Lent is something you are harboring in your spirit. Spend some quiet time prayerfully listening. He will provide the strength, endurance, and grace to tackle whatever it is you may face. The celebration is coming. Prepare your heart to sing!

 

 

Giving something up

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It’s the million dollar question. What are you giving up for Lent? I feel like this is the “business end” of Lent. At our house Phil and Ty have given up Oreos (like father, like son) Madison gave up candy, well Sour Patch Kids to be more specific. (Let’s not over do it!) And I have settled upon chocolate (Gasp! Yes, I am that spiritual. Just kidding. Remember my confession in I will be a subway preacher, my desire to go big or go home.) Sadly, I already inadvertently failed at this only one day in. I had a chocolate chip granola bar as an afternoon snack yesterday. It wasn’t until hours after the fact that I even realized it. Oh boy!

If this was all the more there was to it we would have seriously missed the boat because a Chips Ahoy cookie can just as easily be dunked in milk and as my 11 year old pointed out already she can just eat Sweet-Tarts instead of Sour Patch Kids. (This is an admitted work in progress.). Chocolate is a little harder to substitute when a stress storm hits in all of its fury. But there are substitutes and besides as I have admitted, I already failed. I am throwing myself and my family under the bus on this one (sorry guys) to prove a point. It’s about more than what we give up. This goes deeper than the external appearance to the why.

I love what authors Kendal Haug and Will Walker say in their Lenten devotional.

You may be familiar with the outward aspects of Lent: ashes on foreheads, conversation about giving up sugar or caffeine or TV. But Lent, like spiritual life in general, is not merely external. There are internal realities that give depth and meaning to our actions, things like humility, sacrifice, repentance, and faith. In other words, there is more to Lent than deciding between coffee and TV.

You could, of course, just decide that you are not going to drink coffee for forty days and be done with it, but to do so would be to deprive yourself of far more than coffee. You would miss something that God wants to do in you this season.

Jesus fasted from food and water for forty days in the wilderness. It was not a religious ritual or merely a display of his restraint. Rather, it was a time of trial and temptation which he endured by entrusting himself to God and being nourished on the Word of God. The point of the wilderness, for Jesus, was to experience the real presence of God with him, and power of God at work in him.

Though they may look the same from the outside, participating in Lent and “playing” at Lent are entirely different realities. So give up coffee if you want to, but don’t pretend that the absence of a beverage will sufficiently help you draw near to God.

The Lenten practice of denying usual comforts is a means of deepening our sense of union with Jesus, and reorienting our life around the things of God. We give up that which distracts and entangles because we want to experience some real joy and freedom in Christ.

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:31-38 NIV)

After yesterday’s post I found myself humming this song and have decided that it is my prayer for the next 40 days…

Lead me to the cross
Where your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross

Lead Me To The Cross by Seventh Day Slumber…no frills…no lyrics to read…just the music. Let it wash over you today. May it become your prayer too.