Lent, Week 3: Prepare Discipline

When I think of “fasting”, my gut reaction is to think of the word “haphazard” because so often I hear people last-minute fasting, or fasting without thought. But the reality is that fasting requires discipline and obedience…

In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights but He didn’t do it on a whim! It’s said that He was first led by the Spirit to head to the wilderness. Fasting isn’t a time to give something up haphazardly (or casually) because we thought in that moment “oh, that’s a good idea!”. Fasting requires preparation and understanding so that it isn’t just a hollow gesture.

We need a constant reliance of the Spirit to be led during this time. If we try to do it on our own without intentionality, we’ll find ourselves swaying and being tempted. But this passage reminds us that disciplining ourselves to be in the Word and being with the Lord will assist us in resisting temptation. Isn’t that why we’re doing what we’re doing, anyway? Not to lose weight or to save money, but to draw attention away from those bad habits in order to pick up a good habit or two for our spiritual well-being?

Lent isn’t a time to be easy-going! Cut back on the indulgences and the extravagance – the things we don’t need, the things that can potentially detract glory from God. That’s why I love this verse on obedience in Philippians 2:12-13: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”

Let’s be intentional and proactive with our fasting! The less we emphasize the significance of obeying & working on disciplining ourselves spiritually, the easier it will be to stray from the course and fall into temptation to quit or even “cheat”. It’s not too late! God deserves better, brothers and sisters… let’s follow & obey!

Reflection Song: Christ Is

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)

Lent, Week 3: Joy

Do you ever regret giving something up for Lent? Whether or not fasting is fairly new to you, it’s easy to lose sight of why we do it.

Yet, Lent is a time to fast with joy. There may be times where you feel like you are fasting grudgingly, reluctant to continue or maybe even start! But remember why we are are doing all of this as we make our way towards Easter: preparing a way for the Lord. This isn’t a time to be somber or grim – it’s a time to find joy in the cross! A joy that brings freedom by the power of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. (“Shout for joy, Hallelujah! He has overcome!”)

I imagine it this way… Say you are burdened with carrying a ton of heavy textbooks in your backpack. This weight, this burden, is then lifted and you experience walking like you’ve never felt before – that release, that freedom, that joy! The same is with our sins or the things that detract us from Jesus. When we let go of these things and know that the power of the cross releases the hold of sin and death in our lives, our walks are forever changed and we are set free! That ought to stir up some joyful response in us!

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:16-18 about fasting: “…do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting… But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father… who sees what is done in secret…

This week, try to tap into that joy in your life and walk with the Father. He knows what you’re doing and wants the best for you as you strive to resemble Christ. Lent isn’t about feeling sad or regretful – be joyful as you fast and prepare with spiritual gladness this Lenten season as you are with God and as He is with you. Keep going strong with the joy of the Holy Spirit!

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.Psalm 51:10-12

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 2: Patience

Whether you’ve given something up for Lent, like chocolate, or you’ve added a new spiritual practice, like praying more, we all need patience. The Hebrew word for patience means to wait for, to look for, to hope, to expect… So in this second week of Lent, it’s the perfect discipline to look at as we seek and wait for the Lord.

Consider Psalm 37:7 which says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” What we love about this Lenten season is that as we give up or take up things for 40 days, it isn’t just the act of giving/taking them up but the patience behind them as we think about the Lord and wait patiently for Him. And in these days leading up to Easter, it isn’t an apathetic waiting but an expectant waiting – an active waiting.

But we all know that it isn’t easy. Many times, we’ll be tempted to give up and lose our cool. Hebrews 12:1 says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance (or patience, or endurance) the race marked out for us…

Do we run a race calmly and nonchalantly? No. The kind of patience we need in our walks is an active and dynamic patience as we face difficulties, endure trials & temptations, and trust in God’s promise and timing. It’s already been 8 days since we started and I’m sure many of us are having a tough time but instead of letting impatience and restlessness overcome us, let’s try resting in God’s perfect timing and strengthen our patience. Continue to be in His Word so that when you feel lost or anxious, you will have a better idea of the course of action needed to actively wait for Him and endure.

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. –Romans 2:7

Reflection Song: Christ Is


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 1: Dirty Foreheads (An Ash Wednesday Blog)

“…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:9

…a verse that we often hear on this day to remind us that we came from dust and will return to dust. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and the day where we mark our foreheads with the ashes from burnt palms from last year’s Palm Sunday. It also marks the beginning of the 40 days of fasting many of us tackle each year – from junk food, to shopping, to the internet, to games… we usually fast something to imitate Jesus in the desert.

And though Ash Wednesday isn’t specifically mentioned in the Bible, we follow this tradition to reflect and prepare for Easter. You may or may not be attending a church service for it but as you think about the countless number of dirty foreheads going around the world today, consider the significance and meaning of it. In the shape of a cross, some may leave it on for a moment, and some may even leave it on all day as a public profession of faith.

And soon (about 40 days), we’ll contemplate the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us. Let today be a reminder of that as you see the foreheads around you. We were once dirty but made clean because of Jesus, continually being made more like Him. And during this Lenten journey we will post weekly thoughts like last year so that we can prepare the way of the Lord together for Easter.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

Reflection Song: Nothing But The Blood


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 2: Focus

If you’ve given something up for Lent, you’ll see that it can be a great time to more fully appreciate the meaning of the cross. Hopefully you are treating it as a time to deepen your relationship with the Lord, rather than doing it “just because”. This Lenten season is meant to enrich our worship to God, growing in our intimacy with Him as we fast these things for 40 days.

But it’s so easy to get stuck in a routine, “Oh, no thanks. I can’t have sweets”, as if we are on a diet. So how can we make Lent less about us, and more about God? How can we focus on Him?

I was reflecting on Psalm 119:33-40, which says that we ought to turn our eyes away from worthless things and preserve our lives according to His word… because His laws are good and we find delight in Him… Fasting from something should help us take our eyes away from these distractions and focus more on the Lord as we live faithfully by His word, His commands, His statutes.

This past Sunday at our home church, we led songs about surrender and how (no matter what we gave up) Jesus is our supplier, provider, satisfier. It’s not easy living a life that shows it but we believe that this discipline can come from regularly spending extra time with God. Rather than dwelling on what you can’t do, use this time to center in on Jesus. Use that TV/internet/dessert/shopping time to regularly be in His word this Lenten season so that we can grow in God’s grace. It’s now Week 2, and we know that there’s great news coming! Rather than thinking we’re taking something away from our lives, let’s reconsider and think how we can add spiritual discipline to prepare for Easter this year.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Reflection Song: Christ Is


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter