Lent 2014

As I start this blog I can’t help feeling an overwhelming sense of deja vu. I feel like I’ve already written this post, which is odd because I most certainly have never endeavored to do anything like this project before.

As most of you know the Lenten season begins today, March 5th with Ash Wednesday. and goes until April 19th, Holy Saturday. It is common practice to “give something up” for Lent, a practice that even those who aren’t church go-ers often participate in. There are two beliefs for the fasting. The first is that you fast as a form of penitence for your sins. The second theory is that the fasting is a reminder of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert being tempted. I’m not sure that these two things really have to be mutually exclusive. 

This year for Lent I have decided to do two things. The first thing I am doing is giving up Facebook and Twitter. I’ll be honest these two vices are big distractions in my life. I am actually glad at the excuse to forgo them for 40 days. Granted, just because I am glad at the excuse, does not mean it will be easy. I do believe them both to be a source of negative energy in my life, and in many ways they ‘tempt’ me to sin. They evoke gossip and judgements about people in my life. They steal time away from more noble pursuits. And while it is never something I intend, they also may serve as a platform for boastfulness. So for these reasons, I am giving them up. I am allowing myself to stay on some social media (Goodreads, Instagram) because I feel like I don’t waste nearly the amount of energy or time on them, and I feel like they are positive outlets for my passions in life.

The next thing I am doing is a more ‘contemporary’ view of Lent

Instead of fasting, I will be indulging. Indulging in the word of God that is, and indulging in the interpretation of it by other spiritual leaders. Each day I will devote the time to reading the selected passages from my YouVersion bible app. It’s a program that will lead you through the Bible in a year. I’ve gotten behind so I’m actually only in Exodus right now (Pharoh Pharoh just let his people go!- please get the camp song reference there). The next thing I am adding is reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I knew I wanted to add a devotional type activity, and this book actually works well for it. It’s 40 chapters I believe.  And I believe the version I am getting (coming in the mail today) will have those little bar codes you can scan with your phone to get additional content online. I am a little tentative because I feel like I’ve heard negative things about Rick Warren for some reason, but I am optimistic about the experience.

I know that Lent should be a time of sacrifice and so I can’t help but feel like I’m doing it a little bit “wrong” that I am actually excited and happy about the changes this Lent season may bring to my life. It is what it is though. What are you giving up for Lent? Are you adding something? Please let me know what you’re up to and what you think of my plans. I’d love the feedback!

 

Advertisements

Scripture Challenge: Matthew 22:37-39

It’s been a while since I posted something on here and I now that i finally have the time to do it, I’m coming up short on what to write about. I thought I’d give another scripture challenge a try. Ironically, I’m pretty sure this particular verse was read this past weekend at church. 

Here’s today’s scripture off Bible Gateway: 

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39NIV

 

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

To really understand this I decided to take a look at the 22nd chapter of Matthew a little closer. I wanted to know to whom it was Jesus was talking. As it turns out Jesus was speaking to the Sadducees. Since I’m not particularly strong in biblical history I decided to google these people. According to wikipedia, the Sadducees are a sect of Jews who were in charge of maintaining the temple. It also appears that they were of a higher and more prestigious socio-economic class. 

Jesus was prompted by one of the Sadducees to tell him what the greatest commandment of all was. The above was his response. But what does it really mean? Love your Lord your God with all your heart, means not to be a Sunday Christian. It means to love the Lord so much that each and every act is done with him in mind. On a personal level I equate it to the way that I consider my husband before I make household decisions. It’s easy to consider him because he is a physical presence in my life. What the first part of this reading is saying though, is to love God in that same way. Do things because they are what God would want. Do things because the being that loves you most in this world would want it that way. 

The verse goes on to say to love the Lord your God with all your soul. This is a harder one personally to quantify. What does it mean to do something with all your soul. To figure out what this meant I took to google. (What a handy little friend!). After looking at a few blogs it turns out that people distinguish loving with your soul from your heart by noting that your soul is a matter of devotion, your heart is a matter of affection. I consider my husbands wishes each day because I love him, the same way I suggested in the previous paragraph that I need to make decisions by asking myself if it was what the God who loves me would want. In this case though, it become a matter of doing things because you’ve made the commitment to do so. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior you undoubtedly make a commitment to God. At some points it’s going to be hard to keep, but loving him with all your soul means that you do it anyway. I imagine a situation where God is challenging you. Maybe he’s telling you that you need to be kind or helpful to someone whom you have absolutely no desire to be kind and helpful to. When you love your Lord with all your soul, you do it anyway. Because pleasing him is more than a matter of love, it’s a matter of devotion. You do it because it is what He wants. 

The final part of the triad is to love the lord with all your mind. I’ll be honest, I had to take to google again and read the thoughts of some others here. I believe what the reading means when it says to love God with all your mind it means to think on the words of the bible daily. Share the words of the bible daily. Share your faith and beliefs with others. Loving the Lord with all your mind means to be cognisant of Him in all that you do. 

Then Jesus declares, This is the first and the greatest commandment of them all.

Jesus probably says this to emphasize the importance of this commandment. While it is important to follow the other teachings, it feels as if He is saying that if we cannot do this, we will some how be following the rest in vain. We need to obey this first commandment, so that we can have any hope of obeying the rest.

Finally, Jesus says, ‘And the second is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The interpretation of the last part of this reading is easy enough to understand. It’s been taught to most people since they were a child. Basically, treat others the way you want to be treated. But this is one that falls severely short in practice. It is one thing to be kind to another person. As a people-pleaser I find kindness towards other normally pretty easy. The problem is, the verse doesn’t actually say “treat others as you’d like to be treated”, it says love your neighbor as yourself. I believe this to mean that at a much deeper level we need to treat others with love. Love encompasses such features as patience, forgiveness, understanding, empathy, and kindness. This is very hard to do. And I believe that this in many ways is where loving God with all your mind comes into play. Some times loving your  neighbor is going to require a constant thought of God, and how he would want you to treat them.

This is just my few thoughts on the daily verse off biblegateway.com. I hope I did the verses justice and that somewhere, someone gains something from my consideration of the verse. God Bless!

Are you there God, it’s me Emily?

Growing up my mom brought my sister and I to the Catholic Church (Dad came too, but only because he loves my mom that much!). On Sunday’s we attended “CCD”, which stood for something, but was pretty much Sunday School, really long Sunday School. I went because Mom made me and in 7th grade she stopped making me, so I stopped going. We never really talked about God in our family. We said our prayers at Sunday dinner but I feel like that was the extent of it.

In 9th grade my friend Cindy called and said, “Hey- you should come to youth group with me.” I’m pretty sure somebody put her up to it, but that’s how God works isn’t it? I was pretty active in the church and youth group from 9th through 11th grade, and then when my friends graduated and headed off to college my attendance dwindled. I do believe that church, like home, is where the heart is and without those friends the church didn’t feel the same.

When I met my husband around the end of my freshman year of college it turned out that he was active in the same church I had been in high school, he’d just come in right as I was finishing up there. Church was important to him so after I graduated college and we moved in together I started going to church with him again. But I’ve never really feel anything.

Fast forward to the last few months. I’ve been watching Nikki Phillippi and Rachel Talbott on youtube (Click their names for links to their videos)- and every time I watch their videos I am so astounded by their absolute faith and belief. I don’t understand, how do people reach the point where when someone asks “What’s the most important thing in your life?” they answer “My relationship with God.” so naturally? What am I missing? How do they have so much passion?

I’ve been working on finding happiness and I think a lot of finding happiness and letting go of worry is finding a feeling of safety in God’s arms but I just don’t feel anything, and I feel like I try. I go to church on Sundays because I want to not because I should. Hubby and I are even serving communion at some of the up coming services. I love that feeling when I come out of the gym after a good work-out, or especially after yoga, and a great song comes on K-Love (I’d say that they play “worship” music). So why don’t I feel anything more? Does anyone have any advice for me?