Giving Anything Up For Lent?

I decided what I’m giving up for Lent.

Laziness and excuses. No seriously. I’ve held on tighter to these than chocolate, coffee, or soda pop. I have procrastinated and frittered away my time mindlessly surfing the internet or vegging in front of my TV long enough. So I intend to be more active, more intentional, and more focused

Now that doesn’t mean I intend to give up being still. On the contrary, I will be all the more diligent in making sure that I carve out my time in the Word and for intentional blocks of communication with God. I will continue to daily read/study in the following devotionals: The Daily Message, Designed for Devotion, and Sparkling Gems From the Greek. I will prepare for my Sunday School lesson a little bit each day, taking time to absorb more and cross reference material. I will take more time with material for Bible Study. I will seek God’s guidance for the speaking opportunities I have in April and diligently prepare for talks.

With regards to my writing: I intend to have three things ready to submit for BRMCWC contest (due by April 20). I will complete half of the devotions for “It’s About Time”. I will create the guidelines and format to be presented to the congregation for our Advent Devotional series. And I will publish at least once a week in both my blogs.
With regard to my health and fitness: I will do some form of exercise every day. I will return to the more structured eating plan we started last summer.

I haven’t strayed so far from any of these goals, but I have gotten terribly lazy. I find any and every excuse to not follow through. And not a one of them is truly legitimate. Not one.

And I will be accountable to you in all these matters. I believe accountability is absolutely necessary and far too easy to get out of in our current society. And oh, the irony of it! We are connected on every level, but lack the accountability to be better people. It’s a sad, sad thing.

I have long believed that most of the “sacrifices” made for Lent, are for show and fail to get to the heart of the matter—our heart and our relationship with God. Lent was designed and has continued through the ages to provide us with a ready-made opportunity to live more focused and intentionally. The very teachings of Jesus, how purposefully he was as he set his face to the cross should be our example.

So that’s how I plan to journey to the cross. Each time I try to turn to an excuse for doing what I know I need to do, I will confess, repent, and get back to the task. This journey is not for the faint of heart. I can’t be lazy…Jesus wasn’t. I’m following him.

How about you?

Wondering and Wandering: What’s Your IQ?

1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2, NIV)

Imitations. Does that bring a good or bad image to your mind? When I think of imitations one of the first things to come to mind are the cheap, poor copies of Barbie that I had as a child. I longed for the real thing, but the closest I ever got was a Woolworth’s imitation. Recently I shared a recipe for Seafood Lasagna with a friend and it called for “imitation crab.” She asked if she could use the real thing because neither she nor her husband liked the fake stuff. They were quite happy with the results when the opted use the real thing.

Thinking of today’s admonition to imitate God fills me with a little trepidation. Over the years I’ve seen some really bad imitations and imitators. My own example is not without moments of pitiful reflection. Thankfully, the period doesn’t come after the instruction. Have you ever considered what a difference it makes to know that you are a dearly loved child, that you are loved so much that Jesus gave himself up as a sacrifice for us out of love?

Some of the poorest examples are the result of playing at something folks “know” they are supposed to get and do, but don’t really understand. It reminds me of a guy in college who when the altar call was extended went and literally crawled upon the altar. He was trying to lay his all on the altar. He didn’t understand that God was asking for his life. Fortunately, he stuck around long enough to figure it out—both for him and the many hundreds of kids he worked with as a pastor.

So as we wade deeper into this time of preparation and readying, I wonder if it wouldn’t be good to spend some time at the spiritual mirror. When you think about seeing yourself as God sees you, what do you see? How’s your IQ, your imitation quotient? It will be seen in the way that you both receive and give love.

Day 13 On My Honor, I Am Thankful

Today as I was thinking over my long list of things to be thankful for, I started thinking about the adults who gave of themselves to mold me into the person I have been and am becoming. Does that thought seem as odd to you as it does to me? I’m 55 and I am still becoming. Not too many years ago, I wouldn’t have understood that, but now it is something for which I am thankful. Perhaps I’ll write more about that another day.

As I sat here trying to decide whether to write about Sunday school teachers, youth pastors, or school teachers, I was flooded with my fond memories of my time in Girl Scouts: winter camping (minus the freezing latrine); learning to bake and sew; cookie and calendar sales; and sweet friendships. I met the most influential person in my life through Girl Scouts. Whether I realized it or not, I was given solid examples of strong women, women in leadership. These women filled in the gap for my mother when she functioning more as supportive wife than nurturing mother. (This was an awareness we both came to over one of those really deep conversations while playing Scrabble.)

I tried to be a Girl Scout leader when we lived in Wisconsin. I had to quit. It’s hard work and I wasn’t in a place with enough support to do an adequate job. My girls were very young and needed more of me and I was attempting to pastor a struggling congregation far away from family and friends. Realizing how much time, energy, planning, and creativity it took to be a G.S. leader grew my appreciation for the women who filled those roles a hundred-fold.

So to those women, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And even though I won’t eat even one, I will buy my share of cookies this year in honor of you and support of all those women out there now who give so much.