Join me on a Lenten Journey

Keeping a Holy Lent

We are in the season of Lent. It is the 40 days, not including Sundays, from Ash Wednesday until Easter. It is a time of self-reflection, recognizing our sinfulness and repentance, or at least it is supposed to be. We are currently 12 days in, how is your Lent going?

Some may have started off with the right attitude and a desire to use Lent as a time to preparation to really be able to celebrate Easter. However, many of us get distracted and busy with our lives and get off track. Some may have the desire to keep a holy Lent but don’t really understand how to do that.

The Book of Common Prayer’s Ash Wednesday service has a beautiful invitation that is said prior to the imposition of ashes. It not only invites us to observe a holy Lent, but tells us exactly how to do that.

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.” (BCP 1979)

First of all, it is an invitation and like all other invitations, we can accept or reject it. If you chose to accept this invitation then you need to do what is necessary to observe a holy Lent. A holy Lent includes self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, self denial and reading and meditation on God’s Word.

Looking at this list may seem overwhelming but it is very doable. For the remainder of Lent I will be describing what each of these things are and giving practical examples of what they look like in your life. It is not too late to start. Will you accept the invitation for a holy Lent?

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What Does Your Love Look Like?

Love

February 14th is Valentine’s Day. Everywhere you go you see hearts and candy and all kinds of things that encourage us to buy something special for those we love on Valentine’s Day. It made me stop and think about love and what my love looks like. The love that is talked about in Scripture is not a mushy, gushy feeling, it is something that is put into action.

We are only able to love others because we were first loved by the Lord.

1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us.

Scripture also tells us God is love.

1 John 4:8

 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

It is easy for us to see what God’s love looks like in His Word.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

There is nothing we did or can do to earn God’s love for us. We don’t have to wait until we are good enough for Him to love us.

Romans 5:8

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Scripture even gives us a beautiful description of what our love is supposed to look like in the book of 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Read over those verses and see if that description of what our love is supposed to look like. How does your love compare? Which areas are you struggling with in your relationships? Do you find yourself being rude or arrogant? Do you become irritable or are you resentful of others?

Perhaps the best gift we can give our loved ones this Valentine’s Day is to simply seek the Lord and ask Him to empower us to love the way that He loves. Ask the Lord to reveal to you people you are having a difficult time loving this way. What could loving those in your life in this way do to improve, repair or restore relationships?

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Recognizing God’s Blessings

DSC_0986 IMG_1929IMG_2239

Last May my family and I went to Colorado for a vacation. We were really excited to do some hiking and enjoy the cooler weather. What we didn’t expect was to get 12 inches of snow on the first night. We woke up the first morning and it had started to snow and just kept on snowing. As we watched the weather report and realized that it was going to snow all day and all night, we realized our plans for hiking were slipping away. We were feeling pretty bummed about our plans not going as expected.

However, as we looked out the window at the snow falling, which is something we never see in Houston, we realized it was an unexpected blessing from the Lord. The beauty of watching the snow fall on the mountain scenery was impossible to miss. It was a great reminder of the beauty of God’s creation and a wonderful reminder that His blessings come in unexpected ways sometimes.

When it was snowing, we could have been really bummed and upset that all of the things we had planned to do were now ruined and we weren’t able to do them. Instead, we enjoyed the beauty of the falling snow and made new plans. We enjoyed a day of staying inside, drinking hot chocolate, playing board games and then going outside to build a snowman together. The next day we were driving and saw a nice hill for sledding but had no sleds. So we improvised. We stopped at a grocery store and picked up some metal pizza pans and used them as sleds.

Out trip didn’t turn out the way we had planned, but we were able to see the beauty of God’s creation in a different way than we expected and we realize He blessed us with different adventures. How often do we recognize His blessings when our plans are changed and things don’t work out the way we had planned?

It is easy to become negative, frustrated and angry when things don’t work as we have planned. But, what we need to remember is that God’s plan for our day, vacation or our life is always greater than our own, even when we can’t see it in the moment. His blessings don’t always come in the ways we expect.

It is easy for us to remain negative, frustrated and angry when things don’t go our way. However, God is always at work in our lives and sometimes we just need to adjust our perspective or our vision to see where He is working. Some of the biggest blessings in my life have come from situations that were less than perfect, often they come from the most difficult of times.

Last year I went to take care of my sister-in-law after a foot surgery and was able to spend a lot of fun time with my niece. Because we have always lived 800 miles away and for 4 years we lived more than 7500 miles away. While I was there my sister-in-laws mother who was battling cancer took a turn for the worse. Instead of being able to spend Christmas with my husband and daughters, I went with my sister-in-law to help take care of my niece while she cared for her mom. It was very tough to be away from my family for the holidays, but God is good, all the time.

My relationship with my sister-in-law and her family grew by leaps and bounds and my relationship with my precious niece is stronger and closer than ever. The Lord used this difficult situation to draw my extended family closer together. I never would have had as  much time with my niece without her grandmother becoming very ill and ultimately passing away. But, the blessing was being able to support her, her mom and her mom’s family during this difficult time.

Look at your own circumstances. Are you feeling negative, frustrated or angry? Perhaps you need to look at where God is working and recognize the hidden blessings in even the most difficult of situations. God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good!

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Running on Empty

Lord Fill Me Up

Are you running on empty this Christmas season? Are you exhausted from shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking and preparing for parties and celebrations? If you find yourself feeling a little empty this morning, perhaps you need to go to the source and ask Him to fill you up.

It is easy for us to feel like we are running on empty when we spend all of our time doing ‘stuff’ and don’t have time to spend with the Lord. The Lord is the only one who can fill us with His Holy Spirit. It is through His Holy Spirit that we are able to bear His fruit in the world.

Let’s take a look at what the fruit of the spirit is.

Galatians 5:22-23

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Are you in need of joy? How about peace and patience? Do you think the world could use a little more kindness and gentleness this Christmas season? Are you in need of a little or maybe a lot of self-control?

In and of ourselves, we are not able to bear this fruit when we are running on empty. However, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can bear His fruit and shine His light into the world, even when we don’t feel like it. It is always a choice to walk by the Spirit or to walk in our own flesh. What do you choose today?

Galatians 5:16

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Choose to spend some time with the Lord today and ask Him to fill you with His Spirit so you can be His witness in the world. Let His Spirit shine brightly through you during this Christmas season so others may be drawn to our Lord and Savior.

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Magnify God

Magnify God

There is a wonderful couple in our congregation who has been dealing with a serious cancer diagnosis almost the entire time I have known them. Their faith has been an amazing source of inspiration for many. The diagnosis was not a good one and neither was the prognosis, but they have chosen to put their complete faith and trust in the Lord.

They have chosen to magnify God rather than their circumstances. They have chosen to praise God and give Him thanks for every little thing He has done for them. They are truly living out Psalm 69:30.

Psalm 69:30

I will praise the name of God with a song;
    I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

So often we feel bogged down by our circumstances and have a hard time thanking and praising God because we don’t feel we have anything to thank or praise Him for. When we choose to magnify our circumstances, problems, situations or relationships, we minimize God. We look at what we are dealing with and see it as impossible, forgetting that nothing is impossible for our God.

Luke 1:37

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

God doesn’t promise to heal our loved ones or answer our prayers the way we want Him to, but He does promise that He is always with us. He does promise that He is in control and He does promise that He has a plan. Nothing is impossible for our God.

Perhaps if we were to magnify Him more, our circumstances, difficult relationships or situations may not seem so big. Look at what you are facing today, are you putting a magnifying glass in front of it or in front of your God?

This beautiful couple from our church received some amazing news yesterday; what can only be described as a miraculous healing and intervention by the Lord. But, they chose to magnify the Lord even when their circumstances didn’t look good, the diagnosis wasn’t good and the prognosis wasn’t good. Magnify the Lord today and see if your perspective on your circumstances or relationships doesn’t shift. His is more powerful than anything we face and His presence brings peace that the world cannot provide. Magnify the Lord today!

Categories: Anglican, Bible, cancer, church, devotional, faith, God, hope, Jesus, love | 12 Comments

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