Lent, Week 6: Prepare Resurrection

Easter is a time to celebrate the empty grave!

It’s a time to proclaim, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” from the Mystery of Faith. And I love what Charlie Hall does with this proclamation in his song, Mystery: “Celebrate His death & rising. Lift your eyes, proclaim His coming. Celebrate His death & rising. Lift your eyes, lift your eyes.” And the death & rising truly is a mystery, but it’s a mystery worth celebrating.

It doesn’t end with Jesus’ death & resurrection! In fact, the Bible says that we too have been resurrected with Christ! Romans 6:1-14 is titled “Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ”. We were buried with Christ through baptism into death so that we could be raised with Him to live a new life for His glory.

Easter is easily a time where we can contemplate the cross, Jesus’ sacrifice, and His death & resurrection. We may have even heard/read/recited John 3:16 more than we can count. But don’t let the power of the resurrection in your own life continue to be buried. We have been raised with Christ!

Colossians 2:13-15 says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Brothers & sisters, prepare for that very resurrection as we draw even nearer to Easter. We are alive with Christ and if sin & death are no more through the power of Christ, continue to be steadfast in your Lenten journey and in your lives. Glory to God!

Reflection Song: Unending Praise

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 4: Prepare Your Heart

We’re about halfway into Lent (today is Day 17, for those of you who keep count). You might find yourself to be in autopilot mode by now, possibly numbed to the reason why you started fasting. But hopefully not!

I’ve discovered that halfway into Lent is the easiest to get stuck in a routine, continuing just because you already started. Even those around you may have picked up on it by now: “Oh, he can’t have soda.” But I believe right now, in the in-between, is a crucial point for our fasting and our Lenten journey as a whole.

You may remember in Luke 10:38-42, Mary & Martha opened their home to Jesus. Notice the difference in their attitudes? Both want to honor the Lord but for some reason, the busyness takes over Martha. Some of us have an urge to stay busy, especially if it’s to distract us from thinking about what was given up during Lent! (Right?)

We think because we gave it up, that’s good enough for the Lord… but our hearts need to be in the right place. Don’t let the actions of what you do overshadow the heart of the actions. In your fasting (or supplementing), take time to think about what God has done for you so that you can appropriately reflect and celebrate with the time you have. Give Him your heart, your life, and attention over your gestures and actions.

It’s easy to bury Lent within Lent. But dig deep and keep the purpose strong. Bless the Lord who continues to bless you and strive to make the rest of this time a time to make it count. The things we consider precious are so dull in comparison to Him!

Reflection Song: Because Of Your Love

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: 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 2: Prepare Others

Last week we looked at the difference between giving something up and preparing ourselves for Easter. We need to constantly ready ourselves because simply not doing something doesn’t help you anticipate this Lenten season.

This week, I’m reminded that Jesus not only prepared Himself for death on the cross but also those around Him. All throughout the gospels, the disciples constantly heard Jesus foreshadow His coming death, preparing them as well. What about those around you?

Hopefully you are part of a church community where there is accountability and follow-up. It’s difficult to walk the Christian life alone! Hebrews 10:24-25 is a great reminder of how we should be spurring & encouraging each other on to do good.

Let there be purpose in everything we fast and/or add to our lives. The same goes for those who are preparing around us. We shouldn’t have to wait until Easter Sunday to hear about how our brothers & sisters in Christ did during this Lenten season. So if you know someone who’s trying to read through the Bible for the first time in these 40 days, help them out! Spur them on. If someone you know gave up social media, hand them a Bible or a journal.

And don’t stop there! If you plan on inviting a friend to church on Easter, start thinking & praying about it now. Don’t spring it on them last minute – really put thought into the intention and how you can prepare them for what Easter really means.

Everybody prepares differently. How can you help prepare others?

Reflection Song: All To You

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 1: An Early 40 Days (Prepare Yourself)

Yes, I looked it up. There won’t be an earlier Ash Wednesday for 19 years (February 7, 2035), or Easter for that matter. And it’s an interesting thing, that we expect Easter during this time but aren’t always exactly sure when it’ll come. So, for many of us, I’m sure this Lenten season really crept up on you!

And it’s around this time that many of us scramble for things to give up… late-night snacking, sweets, watching TV/movies, etc. Or the opposite, you find ways to supplement your daily spiritual life by reading more of the bible, attending an extra worship service or early morning prayer, etc.

But how are you really preparing for Easter?

Every Ash Wednesday we go through this routine of giving something up, maybe even going to church, and wearing a cross of ash on our foreheads. But all of these things are just actions, motions, and gestures if underneath them all there is no purpose.

Take Easter, for instance. The days leading up to Jesus dying on the cross, His actions weren’t meaningless. He prepared and He was ready. Luke 9:51 even says that Jesus RESOLUTELY set out for Jerusalem! If we’re to prepare ourselves for Easter as well, we need to be determined, have the right intentions, and get ready for the cross.

We hope that whatever it is you choose to do (or not do), you do so with purpose and do so with resolve! Do it intentionally and prayerfully for the journey ahead.

What do you intend on doing in these 40 days? Stick with it!

Reflection Song: Because Of Your Love

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)

Post-Easter Self-Control (Fruit Of The Spirit)

It’s the day after Easter and you’ve probably broken fast. Maybe you took that first sip of soda in weeks, or you finally got to checkout with your online cart full of things, or (like myself) you were able to dust off your Wii U and play it again. What’s different now, post-Easter?

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is made up of nine attributes: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The point of these attributes is to contrast acts that are not of the Spirit – things like idolatry, hatred, drunkenness, selfish ambition, etc. And if you’ve been following us since the beginning of Lent, you would have noticed that each week touched upon a different attribute.

Today as we consider self-control on this day after Easter, think about how Jesus has changed everything for us. The old has gone and the new is here! As easy as it may be to jump back into old habits that we gave up for 40 days, we should think about the good that God intends for us because as Galatians 5:1 says, we are free… a liberty that includes a freedom from sin.

Thanks to the Holy Spirit, we should have better discernment of good from bad – a self-control that will continue to help us be free. And though what we fasted may not be a clear-cut good vs. bad, I’d imagine that the things we gave up were put on hold for 40 days because we felt the effects of constantly being exposed to them. But even if you didn’t fast something, I’m sure a certain image comes to mind when you think of this topic.

Jesus died and rose again so that in this Christian life we can oppose the things that go against this new life given to us. So we just wanted to encourage you, brothers & sisters, to persevere with the self-control gifted to you so that you can overcome and live for the glory of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is at work within us, so let’s make the most of this post-Easter season… It’s a new day!

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… – Romans 6:6

For more on the fruit of the Holy Spirit / posts for Lent:

Reflection Song: Only You

Lent, Week 4: Peace

When I think of peace, I instantly think of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” because of the first verse: When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say it is well, it is well with my soul.

How confident are we in this peace that surpasses all understanding, that even when sorrows come in like sea billows we can still say it is well? Crises, trials, accidents, temptations, chaos… But the Bible says to focus on the Lord because He will give you peace, a calmness the world cannot provide. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” And Jesus said that in Him you will have peace (John 16:33): “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

The story goes that the writer of the hymn, Horatio Spafford, experienced great loss and pain during an overseas trip. He sent his wife and four daughters to England before himself, later learning that their ship had a collision and only his wife survived… that’s when he wrote the first verse. Wow.

Being able to say those words even through tragedy! That’s the kind of peace God gives us, brothers & sisters. As we trust in Him in the good times and the bad, with steadfast minds, we place our faith in Jesus Christ who is coming back.

We’re already about halfway to Easter but are you continuing to look to and trust in God at all times? Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

In this fourth week of Lent, whatever is troubling you, whatever is comforting you, whatever your lot (defined as fate, future, or destiny…), I hope we will be able to look to nothing else but the Lord who guards us and leads us by still waters.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

Reflection Song: You Are Greater


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

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