Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Lent 2015

464613430It’s hard to believe, but we are about halfway through the Lenten season already. I’ve participated in Lent for a number of years now, and always feel that it’s an encouraging and challenging (in a good way) experience.

The New Year begins and we resolve to read our Bibles more, or pray more, or give more, but as we know, most resolutions are short-lived. And that is one reason I really like Lent. If I start the New Year off strong, but wane a few weeks or a month later, Lent is there to kick me in the pants and get me motivated again.

I didn’t really have a plan for what I was going to read this year. But I came across Margaret Feinberg’s 40-day plan via Twitter, and decided to give it a go. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Old Testament, so I thought it would be a good idea to focus on Jesus’ life while looking toward Easter. (I’m actually reading it through YouVersion if you prefer to read it digitally. Plus, I really like those little check marks that it gives me. 😉 Another reason I really liked her plan was the post she wrote about her #LentChallenge, stating that she wanted us to start each day’s reading with this prayer, “As I read today, Lord, reveal that which I most need to read but least want to hear.” Wow. That’s asking to be challenged for sure!

Another thing that’s greatly influenced Lent for me this year is this article on Relevant Magazine’s website by Ken Wystma. I definitely tend to go into Lent each year with my own questions, my own agenda. Sometimes I get an answer, and sometimes I don’t. It doesn’t make the season any less valuable, but yep, I’d rather have the answers on my schedule. So this was a fantastic article for centering myself, and for my approach to prayer at any time of the year. I particularly resonated with this part, “We often start our prayers with: ‘God, what is your will for my life?’ when we should be asking, ‘God, how can I serve you with my life?’” Um, guilty as charged.

Both of these items have given me a strong foundation for Lent 2015. It’s not been particularly unique or life-changing so far, and that’s ok. I’m learning to slow down, focus and listen. Those are always valuable lessons, and I have no doubt that I’ll have to learn them again later. For now, I’ll take them and the time I’m spending with my Creator. And I’ll look to April 5, when we all get to celebrate together.

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Curious about Lent but don’t really know much about it? I read this post recently on Ken Wytsma’s blog, and thought this writer did a really good job of explaining it.

We’re halfway there, but it’s not too late for you to join! Why not make this your first Lent. If you do, I don’t think it’ll be your last.

 


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Ash Wednesday: Lent Begins

Today is Ash Wednesday, and therefore the beginning of Lent. I’ve observed Lent for probably five years or so now, and am glad to see more Protestants engaging in it. Though none of us really enjoy depriving ourselves, it is a wonderful opportunity to set aside time to repent of your sins, grow as a Christian, acknowledge your dependence on God and learn more about what He has in store for your life.

For 2013, the item I’ve chosen to abstain from during these 40 days is a line item on my budget that has become a bit of a weakness for me. So I decided to give it up, and then donate that money after Easter.

I also think it’s kind of neat that Lent begins right around the time of Valentine’s Day this year. Participating in Lent is an act of love, in my opinion. It’s a way to recommit to God and express that you desire for your dependence to be on Him rather than yourself. We profess to love a lot of things—people, pets, movies, food, clothes—but how much and how well do we actually love any of them? Nothing remotely compares to God’s love, and Lent is one way to renew that bond, especially as it culminates in God’s ultimate act of love: giving His son for our sins.

No doubt, those of us participating in Lent will be tempted in some way to break our vow over the next 40 days. It is at those times we must cling to the reason we began this journey in the first place. And it is the reason we need our church family to stand beside us. We were never meant to do it alone.

So, if you are taking part in Lent this year, know that I’ll be praying for you. I hope you’ll do the same for me. And may God bless us for committing our lives to Him, 40 days at a time.

 

If you aren’t very familiar with the Lenton season, and would like a more thorough explanation, check this great article I came across recently.


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Celebrating Lent

Lent begins on Wednesday, so I’ve been contemplating it’s coming over the past few weeks. I can’t say that I particularly enjoy celebrating it, after all who enjoys restricting themselves, but I do look forward to the lessons I learn from it and the good it does for my life.

If you haven’t celebrated Lent before, you can read up on it a bit here. I have been participating in it for about four or five years now. Some friends and I chose to celebrate it as an act of devotion and self-control, like a growing number of Protestants. And because we don’t have the same regulations, I guess would be a correct term, as Catholics, we do it a little differently. Some celebrate from Ash Wednesday, for 2012 it’s February 22, to Holy Thursday, April 5. Others of us choose to go through the Saturday and finish on Easter Sunday morning at church. I like the latter, personally. And I also take the the opportunity as some do to see the Sundays between as mini celebrations, where you can break your fast. So, that’s how I Lent.

The items for my Lenten fast vary each year.  I’m sure some people use the same thing each year or change it up depending on their circumstance. They may give up chocolate or alcohol or another food or activity. With Protestants, it varies pretty dramatically from what I’ve seen. The point is to really sacrifice something, or more than one thing. It has to have meaning for you because that time is then used to grow your relationship with Christ through prayer, fasting and giving. If it doesn’t hurt in some way, it doesn’t count.

For me, the fasting portion typically revolve around the goals I have for myself that year or something I really want to work on or improve in my life. For example, this year I’ve decided on a fasting item to go with my three major goals for the year: physical, spiritual and financial. They are personal, so I only share them with a few people who will hold me accountable. I suggest you do the same. Remember, fasting isn’t supposed to make you comfortable. Growth opportunities are usually challenging, and not always fun.

So, that’s a little on Lent from me to you. I hope you will consider taking part in it. For any Christian, it’s a great exercise in devotion, self-control and deepening your relationship with God. Give it a try and let me know how it went!