For those who are in Christ…

…There is no condemnation! (Romans 8:1) What a comfort this passage provides. If we have Christ in our hearts, there is no disapproval. In regards to the Lenten journey, Christians may feel tempted to give up if they falter, much like a New Year’s Resolution. Upon slipping once, it’s easy to say, “Well, I gave it a fair shot, better luck next time”. And instead of committing for a year, it’s just 40 days, and the guilt may set in at our weaknesses in the face of all that Christ was able to sacrifice. Journey on the Cross, the seasonal devotional, urges us not to give up, but instead, for those who have already fallen off the Lenten wagon, so to speak, to run to the cross. I love that imagery. If then were now, how many of us would be running to the cross. I hope that if I could transport back in time, knowing what I know now, I would humble myself in the sight of the Lord.

hope found at the cross

But we don’t need a physical representation to do it. We just need to embrace this moment, this opportunity to sacrifice and to communicate with God. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He’s waiting for us to confess them. And if we aren’t yet aware, He has been trying to reach us, we just need to silence those distractions which overtake His still small voice (1 Kings 19:12). Wouldn’t it be great if the truth about Lenten abstaining came like a stork in the night with a baby? We could wake up in the morning, look on the front step and open our special package. Would we follow it still? If God sent a personalized note informing me that it was His intention for me to give up my car for 40 days, would I do it? That is more daunting than pasta, which is a task in itself! I think this is a faith test like many other trials God provides us. It’s about knowing that the conversations we do have in the privacy of our homes and our hearts, are God-driven, and are expected to be followed, regardless of any hand-written note of approval letting us know we were on track.

faith is doing what God has called you to do

While I have been writing this post, I had a GOd wink. I was searching for appropriate photos to add to my commentary, when I came across the InstaLent Photo Challenge . God spoke to me to do something similarly. I will search the Bible for words that inspire me to focus on every day throughout Lent. Today’s word is inspiration. Tomorrow’s word is Listen. Can you think of any others?
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Sinner share #5 – Faith IS doing what God has called me to do. I know He has called me to be a kinder, more patient person and I have a hard time doing that. Years of hurt and anger and frustration with the way the world works inhibits my ability to love my neighbor and to bask in the light of His love. Self-absorption and pride are sources of evil and we need to arm ourselves with the armor of God. This I pray.

Ephesians 6:10-17 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

30-something share #5 – I am stuck. I want my husband to want to go through this journey with me, but he hasn’t. I know faith is personal, but I also had grandiose ideas that it would be a “we” activity that he would want to take part of daily. It doesn’t make me love him less, but it does leave me confused about how to engage in this with him enough to satisfy my, and not too much to aggravate him. I know God wants us to enjoy Him together, I just wish I could accept that whatever we have in our faith as a couple is enough. Do you have similar struggles with your partner?

Romans 14:3 – “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.”

Return to me…

this lent repent

Day 2 of Lent and I’m already feeling challenged. I blogged about my TV addiction in one of my initial posts, so clearly I know that’s already something I need to be aware of as a fast throughout these forty days. As I sit here typing, the TV is silent, when it would typically offer a comforting buzz in the background. One small victory in the midst of a Christ who asks so much more.

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” – Joel 2:12. Return to me, come back to me, set your compass towards me, remember me, see me again. I think of all of the various ways I have turned from Christ and what it means today and for the rest of this Lenten season to turn towards Him. It’s not that hard to fathom…He asks us to put Him first in all we do. A simple yet daunting concept. Put Him before our rage, before our hunger and need to be right. Put Him before our work and savings and gossip. All of those things seem so trite as I watch the words spelled out here, but it feels like he’s asking me to give up everything.

And He is! And why can’t we? He did! The glory of redemption and His saving grace should be enough to have us throwing ourselves at His feet everyday. But that glory gets diminished in the midst of modern-day comforts, conveniences and selfishness. As I sit here, I text my husband as we argue about something stupid from the night before. All that needs to be said is, “I’m sorry, I love you, I didn’t mean it, please forgive me”. But I can’t text it for my foolish pride gets in the way – my need to be right and point out every imperfection. Part of my Lenten journey needs to be one of tolerance and acceptance as well.

This I pray:  I wish you a happy Lenten season. May the Lord lead us where we need to go through this 40 day journey. May He transform our hearts and minds to be more focused on letting go and letting God’s Spirit work through us. Help us to be real about our sins and our brokenness while we confess a true desire to be more like Him.

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Sinner share #4 – Lent is my favorite season in the Christian calendar. It forces me to take a deeper look at the ways I fall short and spend intentional time working harder to get back to my True North. As I consider the long road ahead, I am fearful and certain of failure. I hope to address my TV addiction and my swearing and to be more accepting of my husband. I pray that I may truly reject the devil and all his workings in the next 40 days.

James 4: 7-8 ” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded…”

30-something share #4- I wish I had more 30 something year old Christian friends to go through this Lenten journey with. Pastor Brian mentioned that it’s particularly challenging to find devoted Christians in the Northeast. I wonder why that is? Are we so bitter about the cold winter –which has been particularly snowy and cold this year–or are we sure we can go it alone? I know we can’t. Help me Lord to draw nearer to those who think and believe similarly over the next 6 weeks.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. “