Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Blessed Lent


Matthew 6:16-17
When you fast, don't make yourselves look sad like the hypocrites.  They put a look of suffering on their faces so that people will see they are fasting.  The truth is, that's all the reward they will get.  So when you fast, wash your face and make yourself look nice.

The Lenten season is upon us!  Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, heralds the inception of forty days during which many Christians choose to fast from some habit or activity that they feel interferes with developing a closer connection to God.  Their goal is to create a deeper relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as hearts and minds prepare for the glorious arrival of Easter.

For me, however, Lent is not just about giving up something, but taking on a new discipline or practice which will align me more intimately with God.  In light of this, I will once again be reading 40 Voices by my author friend, Jean Wise, who blogs at Healthy Spirituality.  I find Jean's thoughtful reflections so uplifting and inspiring, I highly recommend this book to add to your Lenten regimen.

Another practice upon which I will embark is to seek intentional times of solitude and silence with the Lord each day.  To aid me in doing this, I will be reading Whispers of Rest - 40 Days of God's Love to Revitalize Your Soul by Bonnie Gray.  Ironically, I order this book months ago, but never take the time to delve into it.  Lent, the 40 day season, is the perfect time to start on this new adventure of learning to, as Bonnie states, "Refresh an intimacy with God in your (my) prayer life," and "Revitalize your (my) soul with His words of love and peace for you (me) each day.

Oh, might both these endeavors produce much fruit!

Okay, so that's the taking on part of my Lenten journey.  So what, you may be wondering, am I giving up?  If you were following me last year, you know I take a plunge, a deep one, and give up Facebook.  Gulp and gulp again!  Fasting from social media, as much trepidation as I have at the time, turns out to be a good and healing thing for me to do.  To this day, I've maintained a healthy limit on how much time I allow myself to engage in that realm of distraction.

But sometimes, when one bad habit falls by the wayside, another rises up to take its place.  Such is the mission of the Deceiver.  For me, that's listening to talk radio, a certain program in particular.  While this is fun, challenging and informative, it swallows up valuable time that I could be spending with God through prayer, study, reflection, and writing.  So starting tomorrow, let the fast begin!  (Please, Lord, let me be cheerful about it!  Is my face clean?)

And as you enter into this Lenten season, my friends, do remember that each Sunday during this time is a "mini-Easter," a day you have permission to indulge in whatever you have denied yourself in the preceding week.  After all, if God rested on the seventh day after all His work, shouldn't we?

As Lent progresses, I will keep you apprised of the things I'm discovering and learning, and how I sense God's presence in this time of spiritual growth.  I'd love to know, too, what disciplines you have decided to take on, and what you've deemed necessary to give up as you journey toward Easter.  Please share your thoughts freely and honestly in the comments below.

Who knows how your words will inspire and comfort the heart of others?

A Blessed Lent to you all!

Amen! 

20 comments:

  1. Thank you for this thoughtful and positive approach to Lent. Although I was not brought up in the tradition of observing Lent, I have become more aware of the joy and benefit of this season of preparation for Easter in recent years, and I try to make a conscious effort to do exactly as you have described above...not so much in the giving up of something, but of intentionally devoting time to grow in my personal walk with the Lord...spending more deliberate time in meditation on His Word and in His Presence. I like the sounds of the book you mentioned above by Bonnie Gray. I may have to explore that option as it sound like it would be exactly what I need for this time of personal "rest" and "renewal". Thank you for this reminder. Lent has kind of sneaked up on me this year. I didn't realize that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday! I had my mind on Valentine's Day and almost overlooked it. Thank you. Have a blessed and restful, time of renewing Lenten season.

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    1. I'm so glad this post alerted you to Lent's arrival, Pamela, and that you will spend even more intentional time with the Lord during this season. Yes, it's rather ironic that Ash Wednesday is on Valentine's Day this year, and Easter on April Fool's Day - God definitely has a sense of humor!
      Love and blessings!

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  2. Is it Lent already? As you can guess I did not grow up nor am I in a tradition which celebrates or recognizes Lent. I have in the past used it as a "fast" approach. Gave up Diet Dr Pepper (caffeine) one year. Chocolate another. Not on social media so that's out. Not sure if I will observe any "giving up" this year or not. Hope your discipline bears fruit.

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    1. Yes, Bill, it's arrived! And don't worry about giving up anything; in fact, with your new blog, you've actually already taken up a new discipline. I think you're good to go!
      Love and blessings!

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  3. How about giving up something we like - e.g. chocolate, drinking, luxury shopping etc ... and giving the money saved to charity.

    God bless.

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    1. Those are marvelous ideas, Victor! I'm so glad you took time to share these with all the readers that they might be inspired to do just that.
      Love and blessings!

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  4. Martha, thank you for this post on Lent. Like Pamela, I didn't grow up in a church that practiced (or even acknowledged) Lent. However, when I started attending my current denomination I learned about it and found it to have a bit of meaning to me. Lent is truly a time of preparing our hearts minds for the celebration of Easter. At this point, I think I'm just going to "stay the course" doing what I've been doing, yet willing to follow the Lord's prompting to do something different/more.

    Love and blessings!

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    1. Staying the course is sometimes the best thing we can do, Kim. Any practice of worth, when we give it more elbow (prayer) grease, can and will accomplish great things for the Lord. Enjoy the Lenten season!
      Love and blessings!

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  5. Martha, I always enjoy your posts, but this one is my favorite yet. It is so full of love and great suggestions for Lent and spiritual growth. I'm praying and considering how God wants me to apply your post. Thank you, thank you!
    Love and blessings,
    Becki

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    1. Beckie, you are way too kind, my friend. I'm so glad this post touched your heart and mind so deeply. I am both humbled and honored!
      Love and blessings!

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  6. Look for an email from me, Martha :)

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    1. I did see your email, Beckie, and have responded. You are absolutely the best!!! Thank you, thank you, for sharing this post with your readers.
      Love and blessings!

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  7. Thank you for these reflections, Martha. I am looking forward to what you discover and learn and how you sense God's presence in this time of growth. May our love for Jesus deepen and may we become more like Him! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Oh, yes, Trudy, that is my prayer: To love Jesus more deeply and to become more like Him. "He must increase, and I must decrease." The words of John the Baptist really hit home, don't they?
      Love and blessings!

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  8. You will have no problem adhering to this regimen. You are such a sweet Godly person, and you take your commitments to God seriously. Thank you for sharing this insightful message at just the right time.

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    1. Thank you, Nells, for your kind and encouraging words here. I'll certainly do my best with God's help.
      Love and blessings!

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  9. so honored to be mentioned but most of all by your friendship! Love you and Happy Valentines Day/Ash Wednesday!!

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    1. Happy Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday to you, too, Jean! I really appreciated your response to my comment on your most recent blog. Yes, MIL will be here indefinitely, but I have figured out how to find that place of solitude. God is so good, and my MIl is truly so gracious. I am blessed!

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  10. Lent and Easter are early this year. Seems like we just put Christmas decorations away! It is blessed indeed!

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    1. Terri, that's sometimes how it happens, and I agree. Where did Christmas go? Hope you enjoy a Lenten season of reflection in preparation for the empty tomb at Easter!
      Love and blessings!

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