Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lent, My Wonderful Counselor, and Hope

For my whole life I thought Lent was something "other religions did". I never thought of doing anything Lent related until our pastor sent an e-mail with a free devotional book (it was 99 cents on my Amazon Kindle app but you can download and print the PDF version for free). The link for that devotional is here: Free Lenten e-book

After getting this e-mail I started thinking about Lent. One thought was that I wondered how I would have time to do this devotional... I mean I'm already doing the read through the Bible thing - how can I add ONE MORE THING?? I also was thinking that it puzzles me, they say it is 40 days but they don't include Sundays - it is actually 47 days if you include all the Sundays including Easter Sunday. I always thought they did 40 days because of what Matthew 4:2 says of Jesus, "After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry." it's probably irrelevant - what really matters is the heart... I read a little about lent here. I was challenged by what it said about its "purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ - his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection."
I have really been struggling lately and I've been working on some spiritual disciplines but even in doing so have been quite the mess emotionally. I am very grateful to have a great counselor and amazing friends during this time - and even more importantly - the most WONDERFUL COUNSELOR: Isaiah 9:6 "His Name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." I always thought of the practice of Lent as just some religious practice, but God placed it on my heart that I need to give up social media during this time. There are many reasons for this - but the only one that matters is that God asked me to do it. Originally I was going to keep posting my "thankful posts" and just do it from Twitter. However today He made it clear He wants me to give up both Facebook and Twitter. GASP.

I will be blogging and will post my blogs to Facebook and Twitter but will do that from my blog site. I will be deleting the apps from my phone and will be taking the time I usually waste perusing social media sites to do good things - what these things are I do not know. I know some of them will be praying and spending time in God's Word and worship. God may lead me to do other things that I don't know about yet - maybe spending time with a friend in need, maybe spending time reading a book.... I just want to be in tune to God and hear His voice and what He asks me to do.

I also am going to continue doing my thankful posts, but I will be doing these privately and will post my list from the 47 days after Easter. I also decided to start a new blog - a private blog, to do my journaling. I've always had a weakness for those pretty blank books - but my brain thinks faster than I can write legibly so typing works so much better for me. Often times when I post on here I think hard about my audience and don't always just get out things I need to get out of my system - and those are things that  need to be between just me and God.

I am hopeful that this time of fasting from social media and seeking God's face more intentionally will be a blessed time in my life and in the lives that God touches through me. Hope isn't a word I could have honestly uttered this morning - I am grateful that tonight I can honestly sign off....

Hopefully yours,


Monday, February 11, 2013

Lent and Facebook

I always thought Lent was something that only Catholics and Lutherans took part in. I never really thought of it as something that I, as an evangelical Christian would take part in. I never saw the point in giving something up for just a time. However, this year I've been doing some reflecting... I always say how busy I am, I always say how there is not enough time in the day and yet if I really thought about it I would realize how very much time I waste perusing Facebook, Twitter, watching TV, just vegging aimlessly. I have really been struggling emotionally lately and God pretty much told me this morning that I needed to give up Facebook for Lent.

However, this is going to look a little different than some might think. I will still be posting my thankful posts but I will do so via twitter. I will also still post links to my blog, but will do so from my blog. I will not be getting on Facebook to peruse and look to see what everyone has to say. I want to do some more writing - as I said in my blog yesterday that is such a huge outlet and benefit to me with my emotions and my relationship with God. Yet, lately I haven't had the time (taken the time) to really do it. So, I plan on blogging more, journaling more, reading more, watching LESS TV, spending more time in prayer, reading God's Word, drawing close to Him and really thinking about what this Easter season means.  It is amazing to me that God loves ME so much that He gave His one and only Son to not only die, but to suffer immensely for my sins - past, present, and future.

According to this site Lent is: "Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ - his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection."

Reflecting, in awe, of all God has done for me,


Sunday, February 10, 2013

No Words

I have been having a hard time coming up with words to express my heart. It is times like this I am thankful for the Truth of Scripture in Romans 8:26: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." 
It's really frustrating for me because my best outlet when I am struggling is to write - whether it's my blog, journaling, poetry - when I need to get out me emotions, when I need to sort out my feelings - I write. Lately I haven't had words of my own so I have turned to the Psalms. The one that speaks closest to how I've felt is Psalm 88:

O Lord, the God who saves me,
    day and night I cry out before you.
May my prayer come before you;
    turn your ear to my cry.
For my soul is full of trouble
    and my life draws near the grave.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am like a man without strength.
I am set apart with the dead,
    like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
    who are cut off from your care.
You have put me in the lowest pit,
    in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily upon me;
    you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah
You have taken from me my closest friends
    and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
    my eyes are dim with grief.
I call to you, O Lord, every day;
    I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you show your wonders to the dead?
    Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Selah
11 Is your love declared in the grave,
    your faithfulness in Destruction[d]?
12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
    or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
13 But I cry to you for help, O Lord;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, O Lord, do you reject me
    and hide your face from me?
15 From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death;
    I have suffered your terrors and am in despair.
16 Your wrath has swept over me;
    your terrors have destroyed me.
17 All day long they surround me like a flood;
    they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken my companions and loved ones from me;
    the darkness is my closest friend.

Now before I get inundated with messages about being negative or that I just need to change my attitude - let me remind you that David, the one who wrote this Psalm, was known as a man after God's own heart. Even David struggled and felt hopeless sometimes.  Just after Psalm 88 comes Psalm 89 which starts out in verses 1 and 2: "I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.  I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself."Just as David realized God's faithfulness and love, so Paul also goes on to say in Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

So, even as I am feeling empty and hopeless and with no words - I turn to the Psalms and pray along with David and trust the Spirit will intercede where I don't have words and trust that God can somehow work ALL things for good.