Monday, 19 March 2018

Lent - Cheating

We are over a month into Lent... only 14 days to go... This is the point where I start to get really excited about Easter.  This year my birthday falls on the Easter weekend (Good Friday), which I really feel is an honour and a special time.  I became a Christian on Easter weekend when I was just a wee little person, so it kind of is like having a double birthday weekend.  I've always taken aside special time to celebrate and remember what God has done in my life through the Easter season.  This year feels full of anticipation.

I must say, Lent hasn't gone all smoothly.  I have "cheated" three times in what I gave up for Lent.  I really wrestled with it each time and could have said no, but didn't.  It really got me thinking about motivations and desires and how we rationalize things ALL the time.  Lent is more than an exercise in self-discipline (though that is a big part of growing in it for sure).  I always was pretty good at self-discipline.  This time, that is actually the part I have found hardest.  I am way more lenient to excuse myself and give myself a break in the name of "grace."  It has also been eye-opening to see the areas and the struggles that I have that I try to handle on my own.  Self-sacrifice is not natural.  It takes intention and effort and constant choosing.  I know grace does exist, but it has been quite a lesson of self-awareness to see my frailty and weak flesh.  Today my daily Bible reading was Romans 8.  This is, by far, my most favorite chapter in the Bible.  It is SO rich.

Set our minds on the Spirit...
The body is dead (and weak) but the Spirit is alive because of righteousness...
We are God's children...heirs of Christ
Creaton will be "liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God...
We hope for what we do not yet have...
The Spirit helps us in our weakness...
If God is for us, who can be against us...
Nothing... will be able to separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus!

Easter is coming.  We celebrate HIS victory.  We celebrate HIS love for us.  What a beautiful day!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Lent - Community

I'm writing this ironically on a day where I am staying home from church.  We've been fighting a bug all week and my body gave in today and just said, "I need a little break."  So it's a blessing that my mom can take the kids and I can go back to bed for a bit and listen to a sermon at home.  There is one thing I am finding to be more difficult this year with Lent, and that is finding community.

I do not believe that Lent is something to be experienced in isolation.  Yes, it is about your personal relationship with God and growing in discipline and self-denial. But I think this can only happen in the context of community.  We need people to encourage and exhort us when the "flesh is weak but the spirit is willing."  There is also a dependency that comes when we open up to one another in vulnerability and support each other in prayer.  For me personally, this is the crux of Lent.  Community is such a vital part of following Jesus.

In past seasons we have engaged in weekly prayer meetings, meals and Bible studies through the season of Lent.  The one year where we saw an incredible move of God during Lent (maybe I'll write on that another day), we ended the time with a huge Easter feast!  It was a party.  We ate, we drank, we sang Karaoke, we glorified God.  That is what I would love to see more of in our Christian life.  This year, we have none of that structured into our schedule.  I have made a point of remaining accountable to a few friends, and reaching out to others for support, but I definitely feel the lack of that community.  It is a time of life (with young kids at home) that this is a challenge in general, but I guess I feel it more amplified through these weeks of Lent.  I love my community.  Lent has again awakened my desire and longing to see our lives intertwined with others in community again.

There's my thought for today :)  What's been your experience with community?  Where do you find connection with other people?  How has community caused you to grow? 

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Lent - Finding Joy

Through this time of Lent, I am striving somewhat more than usual to be intentional with my day and my time.  This doesn't mean it is glamorous, but I am seeking the joy in the ups and downs.  I thought I'd share a common day with you.  Let me reiterate again, it does not always FEEL joyful, trust that these moments are meaningful and contributing to the Kingdom of God, despite how mundane they may feel.