Category Archives: Lent

Please Don’t Ask What I’m “Giving Up” for Lent

Scripture Reading: Luke 4

As I’m writing this post, Ash Wednesday is drawing to a close. The ashes no longer visible on most people’s foreheads. Thursday marks the beginning of that seemingly never ending question that will follow us until Easter; “what are you giving up for Lent?” I’ve often hated that question, for some reason it always felt like an invasion of my privacy. It felt as if people were trying to pry into the most sacred agreements between me and God. There were times when I wanted to shout, “None of your business, Lazy Lenter! Look at you, you’re giving up ice cream for Lent! It’s winter, who cares about ice cream in March! Ooh, Chocolate, must be hard to abstain from something you only eat once a week!” And on and on went these feelings of frustration.

This year I’m going to politely decline to answer. Lent isn’t about what you are going to give up for 40 plus days. When Jesus went into the dessert I’m sure he didn’t tell the others, I’ll be back in 40, I’m heading to the desert to give up something. Jesus went into the desert to draw closer to God and resist the devil. In Luke 4 we learn that he was filled with the Holy Spirit and this same spirit led him into the desert where for 40 days he did not eat. Once his time in the desert was over a famished Jesus was again tempted by the devil. He was presented with the opportunity to break his fast with bread; turn his worship from God to the devil, who in turn would hand over the earth to him; and last, Jesus was tempted to test the promise of God’s protection. As irresistible as these might have seemed in the moment, Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit refused them all.

During Lent instead of choosing to give something up, we are making the decision to fill ourselves with the power of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual war against areas of our lives where we are either fighting or losing the battle against our temptations. Our focus during Lent doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it needs to be meaningful. God has given us the power of His Holy Spirit, let’s not turn Lent into a frivolous religious ritual.

Once Jesus was able to resist the devil he went straight into his ministry. He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was his habit, but this time it was different, this time something had changed; Jesus had changed.

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I pray that you call on the Father to fill you with the Holy Spirit during this Lenten season to reveal to you the desert battles of your life. May you be empowered and strengthened as you fight the tempter. Our spiritual enemy has absolutely nothing good to offer us; he is the spirit of evil who takes the truth and twists it for HIS own benefit, it is never for ours. Whatever it is that you willingly choose to fight in the desert during this Lenten season, please know this one truth: the battle cannot be won without God. His Spirit fights the battle alongside us, we cannot do it alone.

Thank you Father for sending us your Spirit to guide and protect us in our spiritual battles.

Preparing Our Heart and Mind for Lent 2014

Journeying with Christ to the cross
Journeying with Christ to the cross

Ah yes, the second biggest “event” of the church calendar is fast approaching. Lent (for non-Orthodox) begins next week on Ash Wednesday March 5th and ends Thursday April 17th, the day before Good Friday.

I wish I could say the Easter season was about decorated eggs, fake chocolate, baked hams and turkey, but it’s not (but they are certainly fun and d’lish).

Lent is a time for believers only. It is a time to identify with Christ in his sacrifice and resurrection. We have it easy, we are only asked to abstain from certain hindrances and luxuries for 40 days and even then it becomes too much of a hassle for some Christians.

I don’t believe that Lent should be something dreadful or feel as if it is punishment. Lent isn’t meant to move us towards guilt feelings. Lent is a time to grow closer to God in remembering the sacrifice of His Son, the living sacrifice, Jesus. 

Lent 4

I wish to encourage you, especially those who are not participants in mainline denominations, to take some time to prepare for Lent by opening your mind and heart to seeking where God wants to lead you during this time.

Have you had any nagging feelings about certain areas of your life?

  • Eating habits, lack of exercise, serving others, decreasing how much you volunteer/work, etc.

Is there a Spiritual Discipline that you feel you have neglected or are interested in practicing?

  • Prayer, various styles of prayer, consistently reading the bible, church attendance, meditation, etc.

What about habits? Are there any habits that are getting in your way of having meaningful one-on-one time with God?

  • Poor time management, too much socializing, spending too much time on social media, the time you go to sleep and wake up, bitterness, anger, etc.

Whatever it is that might be affecting your walk, I can assure you God will reveal it to you. Because we have a graceful, merciful, and loving God, He doesn’t blast our sinfulfulness and spiritual slackness in our face. When God’s children get off track, we may not consciously notice it for quite some time, but God’s Holy Spirit is always alerting us. God doesn’t allow us to sin or become distant without providing us with signs and the nudging of the Spirit. The decision to pay attention and respond always rests with us. Our love for God and our desire to follow His ways are entirely left up to us to choose. God loves nothing more than to see His precious creation choose to have a heartfelt relationship with Him.

Throughout Lent and up to Easter Monday, I will have daily Lenten blog posts, however, I won’t be placing it on the main pages of this blog, beginning March 1st there will be a link provided for those who would like to engage in these short readings and reflections. I will only be posting my regular reflections and One Word 2014 articles on this main blog.