Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Lenten Dilemma

GROWING UP IN MY HOME MEANT giving up something for Lent. I am not sure, but I think it was a holdover from my mom's Catholic schoolgirl days.

In my childhood days we were good Methodists, so I guess observing Lent still held some weight, and thus each year I was "encouraged" to give up something I enjoyed for the 40 days leading up to Easter Week. I never really knew the "why" other than it had to do with something about Jesus suffering for me, so I should suffer for Him.

I don't know if it was good theology or not, but truth be known it did make me think more about Jesus and His death on the Cross, and of course His resurrection which would free me not only from sin, but from the constraints of my Lenten "sacrifice."

Now, once again, the Lenten season is bearing down on me. As a good evangelical I could pass it off on my Mainline brothers and sisters, and say that I am free from those previous ecclesiastical constraints, but then I would hear my mother's voice in my ear. Yes, I know I probably have some other "issues" to deal with as well, but this Lenten thing still weighs upon me. I suppose the reality is that when I have practiced this discipline in the past I have actually been better for it. No real spiritual magic, just the reality of a disciplined life, and of course giving up say, 40 days of television does have its benefits.

But what about this year?

This year I have had a different thought tickle my theological fancy. It is the thought about rather than giving up something, to take something on. I realize that Jesus gave up everything for me; His prerogatives of being God (Philippians 2:5-11), His right to be served as God (Mark 10:45), and of course His very life as a sacrifice for us (Romans 3:25). But, He also took on so much for us, and in that process He gave to us. So, I am left with this idea of adding something to my life.

But what?

I do have a couple of ideas like creating a discipline of rising extra early and committing more time to prayer. There is also the idea of finding ways to practice compassion to those in need around me, like meeting the needs of the homeless under the bridge by the church. Maybe it would be writing letters of encouragement to 10 people everyday. There are lots of ways of adding something "Christ-like" to my life. Now, what will it be...?

Oh, the rule I learned from my mom is you are not supposed to go broadcasting it to everybody, so I guess I just pick one, or two...maybe three things, and go from there. Anybody care to join me.

Happy Lent!

Monday, February 02, 2009

He's Everything to Me

Back in my younger days, we used to sing a little chorus (probably old enough now even to be classified a hymn by some), it was entitled, "He's Everything to Me," and if memory serves me right it went something like,
In the stars His handiwork I see,
On the wind He speaks with majesty,

Though He ruleth over land and sea,
What is that to me?


I will celebrate Nativity,
For it has a place in history,
Sure He came to set His people free,
What is that to me?

Til I met Him face to face,
And I felt the wonder of His grace,
Then I knew that He was more than just
a God who did not care,
Who lived a way up there,
And, now in lives inside me everyday
Watching o'er me while I pray,
Helping me to find that narrow way,
He's everything to me.
This coming week's sermon text, from John 5:16-47, deals with some of the important distinction of this One we call Jesus of Nazareth. The Scripture lays out for us just who this Jesus is, and with a careful reading it is clear that He is more than just a carpenter's son.

In fact, quite a key list is put forth including such aspects as His part as life-giver, creator, judge, forgiver of sins, not to mention One who shares in the glory of God. Something for which the Jewish leaders were not very excited.

But Jesus did not stand alone in this confession regarding who He is, for He said there were at least three other "confessors" as well: John the Baptist, His accomplished works (miracles, etc) and the Scriptures themselves (God's Word). (See: John 5:33-40)

As you take time to read through this passage, I would ask you to consider what you learn about Jesus, the Messiah. And with John the Baptist how would you testify to the truth about the Truth?