Why Today Should Change Your Life

I know many in my circle wouldn’t know Ash Wednesday from Waffle Wednesday but this day marks the start of Lent (again one of those foreign concepts to many). Why is this important? It is a time set aside for Christians to pray, fast, and reflect on their life and need for repentance and forgiveness. Lent ends when Easter comes, as the church celebrates the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
The following, from the Book of Common Prayer, struck me as deeply powerful.
“This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of
notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful
were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to
the fellowship of the Church.”
Did you catch that? Those who have been “separated from the fellowship” because of their own sin are “reconciled by penitence and forgiveness,” and “restored to the fellowship of the Church.” Maybe you have been cut off from the church through your own choices or the wrong of others. Let Lent be a time of restoration and reconciliation. Those of us who are in the church, lets focus on these high goals and leave the ephemeral and superficial of society to others. I am grateful for Lent and what it reminds me of and what it convicts me of.
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Lenten Fast Update

Since 23 Things is covering fasting this week I thought it would be good to update you on how it went with my Lenten fast from Soft

Designer label for 2 litre Coca-Cola bottle

Designer label for 2 litre Coca-Cola bottle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Drinks. We will do it FAQ style.

Did you make it the entire time?

No. I technically didn’t start on time because I was running in a Half Marathon and wanted a little celebratory soda pop post race. Ash Wednesday was three days before the race so I started my fast on the Monday after Ash Wednesday.

Did you eliminate all sugary caffeinated drinks?

No. Sweet Ice Tea became a new favorite but it still wasn’t a replacement and there were days when I cursed my Snapple because it was not a Coca Cola.

What helped you through the fast?

Somewhere, I read a quote from Lauren Winner that said something about whenever we are overcome with craving for the item we are fasting from we should be reminded of how our desire for God should be just as great. The fast reminded me often of how much I need God in my life.

Was it difficult?

Not as difficult as I expected. There is an amazing discovery that happens when you realize that you don’t have to meet every desire and that if you go without, the world still spins and life isn’t that bad. It is good because I am becoming less and God is becoming more.

What did you get out of it?

The biggest insight was the daily reminder of Jesus and his sacrifice. We, as Christians, do such a poor job of remembering our Lord, even during Christmas and Easter. This fast brought to my mind on a regular basis why I was doing this. Then I would remember Jesus’ sacrifice and be underwhelmed by my poor excuse for a sacrifice. It is a shame that I am so feeble-minded that I can so easily misplace Jesus in my head but this fast kept him in the forefront.

Soft Drinks It Is

On Monday, I posted about Lent and how to participate in it this year. I have wrestled with what it is that I need to give up for Lent. I thought about giving up Twitter or maybe gossip or negativity but I went back to what I said about the connection between the body and the spiritual life. I determined I needed to pick a food item.

I thought about my love of bananas but that didn’t have quite the impact that I was looking for. Desserts might have been a good one but I wanted something that had more of a daily, even hourly impact on my life. Even though I have fasted from this before, I thought I needed to do it again. So, for Lent, I am giving up Soft Drinks.

I am addicted to Cokes like many people are addicted to coffee. I plan my day around getting a Coke and usually have to talk myself out of getting one early in the morning and late in the afternoon. I am often rationalizing reasons to drink one. All of this to say, this will be a real sacrifice for me and something that I will have to rely on God’s help to get through. Yes, consumable items can have that much of a hold on you.

But Lent is not about me and my achievements, it is about preparing for the celebration of Easter. Through this fast and a deeper commitment to Christ, I hope to make this Lenten season a powerfully moving one full of experiences with God and a transformed heart.

Those of you who are joining me in participating in Lent, I will pray that God will reveal himself to you through this experience.

Come Lord Jesus!

Christian Life Hacker Guide To Lent

This week marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days preceding Easter Sunday. I know many people in my faith tradition, Baptist, who have never heard the term much less practiced a 40 day period of fasting in conjunction with Lent. This is a shame. To join millions of other Christians in preparing our hearts, minds, and bodies for the joy of Resurrection Sunday is a deeply meaningful and enriching experience.

Christ Webb, President of Renovare, writes that Lent is ”a time of repentance, an opportunity to experience the mercy of God, to be set free from past patterns of behavior, and to embrace a life of joyful holiness.” Wow. If I were more eloquent or a thief, this would be the Christian Life Hacker mission statement. In a nutshell, Lent is a time when God is calling you to renew your commitment to him by humbling yourself and sacrificing your wants for the “mercies of God” and “joyful holiness.”

Here are three steps to approach and practice Lent:

1. Sin Inventory. On Ash Wednesday, some churches have their members write down a particular sin or sins on a piece of paper and then throw it into a fire. You may want to just take a piece of paper and start listing sins. Pray over your list and ask for forgiveness and then throw it away to symbolize how these sins no longer have a hold on you. If you have a trusted friend, you may want to share a few of the sins on your list and ask them to pray for you that Lent will be a powerful time of renewal.

2. Pick an Elimination Food Item. I have talked in this blog about fasting or eliminating. I have mentioned fasting from technology or sports but the traditional way to fast is to eliminate food or a food item for a time. Last year, I fasted from Soft Drinks during Lent.

Though some people may feel more of a sacrifice if they fasted from Facebook or TV, I would encourage you to try a food item because of the connection between our body and our spiritual life. Our brokenness and sin can so infuse our heart and mind that it filters to our body where our parts are so willing to do wrong. Fasting from a food item starts to break the hold that our body has on our heart and shows us an existence that is not characterized by untamed fleshly desires.

3. Join with others. Even if your church does not practice Lent corporately, there is no reason for you to practice it in isolation. Take if from me, who tries to do everything on my own, a community or a few people who are doing this together will make the experience much more meaningful. Ask your spouse to join you or a best friend. If you are already in a small group or Bible Study, then tell the group what you are doing and have them pray for you and consider joining you. This blog could even be a place to join with others. Tell us what you are doing in the comments box and the Christian Life Hacker community can pray for you as you become active in this great preparation for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On Wednesday, I will let you know what I will be fasting from and give you an opportunity to join me in practicing Lent.

This post previously appeared March 4, 2011

Learning To Live Like Jesus

Since I presented the Christian Life Hackers Guide to Lent last week I have been praying for God to show me what I needed to do fast from during the Lenten season. I believe that God had something else in mind.

Through the DBU library, I had put in an interlibrary loan request a few weeks ago for a book by Gary Moon entitled Apprenticeship With Jesus: Learning to Live Like The Master. Yesterday, the book arrived and considering that it is designed to be a 30-day program in becoming more like Jesus I thought it might be appropriate for me to use this as a resource for intentional study, reflection, and practice in preparation for the celebration of Easter. I also thought it might be fun and appropriate for me to share this journey with others that may also long for more than a “good enough Christianity” that often doesn’t include transformation.

So, here is what you will see from me over the next month or so.

1. A summary and reflection over that day’s reading

2. Thoughts and experiences from the daily exercises that are recommended

3. What God is teaching me as I read through the book.

Here is what you can do to follow along.

1. Purchase the book online. You can find online versions of the book through Google Books or you can find a Kindle app for your iPhone or iPod touch and purchase the Kindle version. Both locations charge around $10 for the book. If you do not want to purchase it, you can go to Google Books and view a preview of the book which will allow you to follow along in sections. Amazon also has a “Look Inside” feature that provides a healthy preview of the book.

2.  Even if you can’t follow along, please read my daily summaries and participate in that way. You will still learn what I think is most enlightening, helpful and applicable.

3. Commit to learn from Jesus how to live your life for the next month. Being an apprentice is a process of being with Jesus and learning to do the things that he did and thinking the way that he thought. Make this a prayerful focus for you for the next 30 days.

I am excited about what God will teach me over the next month and I can’t wait to share it with you. But more than anything, I hope that you will learn something from Jesus and experience true transformation in your life.

Will you join me?

Christian Life Hackers Guide To Lent

This next week marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days preceding Easter Sunday. I know many people in my faith tradition, Baptist, who have never heard the term much less practiced a 40 day period of fasting in conjunction with Lent. This is a shame. To join millions of other Christians in preparing our hearts, minds, and bodies for the joy of Resurrection Sunday is a deeply meaningful and enriching experience.

Christ Webb, President of Renovare, writes that Lent is “a time of repentance, an opportunity to experience the mercy of God, to be set free from past patterns of behavior, and to embrace a life of joyful holiness.” Wow. If I were more eloquent or a thief, this would be the Christian Life Hacker mission statement. In a nutshell, Lent is a time when God is calling you to renew your commitment to him by humbling yourself and sacrificing your wants for the “mercies of God” and “joyful holiness.”

Here are three steps to approach and practice Lent:

1. Sin Inventory. On Ash Wednesday, some churches have their members write down a particular sin or sins on a piece of paper and then throw it into a fire. You may want to just take a piece of paper and start listing sins. Pray over your list and ask for forgiveness and then throw it away to symbolize how these sins no longer have a hold on you. If you have a trusted friend, you may want to share a few of the sins on your list and ask them to pray for you that Lent will be a powerful time of renewal.

2. Pick an Elimination Food Item. I have talked in this blog about fasting or eliminating. I have mentioned fasting from technology or sports but the traditional way to fast is to eliminate food or a food item for a time. Last year, I fasted from Soft Drinks during Lent.

Though some people may feel more of a sacrifice if they fasted from Facebook or TV, I would encourage you to try a food item because of the connection between our body and our spiritual life. Our brokenness and sin can so infuse our heart and mind that it filters to our body where our parts are so willing to do wrong. Fasting from a food item starts to break the hold that our body has on our heart and shows us an existence that is not characterized by untamed fleshly desires.

3. Join with others. Even if your church does not practice Lent corporately, there is no reason for you to practice it in isolation. Take if from me, who tries to do everything on my own, a community or a few people who are doing this together will make the experience much more meaningful. Ask your spouse to join you or a best friend. If you are already in a small group or Bible Study, then tell the group what you are doing and have them pray for you and consider joining you. This blog could even be a place to join with others. Tell us what you are doing in the comments box and the Christian Life Hacker community can pray for you as you become active in this great preparation for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On Wednesday, I will let you know what I will be fasting from and give you an opportunity to join me in practicing Lent.