Monday, February 26, 2007

Those Dreaded Words

As I was growing up, there were some chores I didn't mind too much. (The list is short...) There were some that I didn't like, but I could live with. (The list is a bit longer...) And there were some that I just detested. Thankfully, those chores didn't have to be done as often.

One of those chores was always preceded by a discovery. While looking for that one last jar of salsa that was way, way back in the back of the refrigerator, someone would discover a nondescript container. Upon opening said container, the discovery would be made. Whatever had been placed in that container, at whatever time, had been joined by a few close friends (okay, it was gross and moldy). The original contents were often unrecognizable.

Then came those dreaded words from my mom: "Time to clean the fridge!"

The door would be propped open, and every container, jar, and bottle had to be examined. Dates were read. Lids were carefully opened. Much nose wrinkling. Much use of the garbage disposal. Some very happy farm cats. Then all of the shelves must be carefully cleaned as well, before any items could be returned to their homes. I don't have to tell you, it was a nasty, nasty job.

As I was cleaning up a mess in my own refrigerator recently (spilled juice from green beans--again, quite nasty!), the Lord spoke a spiritual truth to me. This was a lot like Lent.

The dreaded words: Lent has arrived. Time to allow God to poke into all those dark corners, lift the lids on some hidden containers, and begin pulling out all the stuff that just does NOT need to be hiding in there. Lots of scrubbing needed in this soul!

But when Good Friday arrives, and I once again reflect on the cleansing Agent (the blood of Christ shed on the cross), and the light of Easter can shine into my renewed sure was worth all the pain and nose wrinkling.

So, let the cleaning begin, Lord. It's no fun sometimes, but the end result is completely worth it. Maybe I don't dread those words so much after all.

Friday, February 23, 2007

More Thoughts on the Meaning of Lent

I think the words of this old hymn say it better than I ever could:

CLEANSE ME (by J. Edwin Orr)

Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Saviour, know my thoughts I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me:
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.

I praise Thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin:
Fulfill Thy word, and make me pure within;
Fill me with fire, where once I burned with shame:
Grant my desire to magnify Thy name.

Lord, take my life, and make it wholly Thine:
Fill my poor heart with Thy great love divine;
Take all my will, my passion, self, and pride;
I now surrender: Lord, in me abide.

O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee:
Send a revival; start the work in me:
Thy Word declares Thou wilt supply our need:
For blessing now, O Lord, I humbly plead.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Journey Into Lent

Luke 6:27-38

Jesus said, “I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
Lent is almost upon us. Only two days remain until Ash Wednesday. This is not a tradition I grew up with. But it is a tradition I am growing to appreciate more and more.

I always thought "those Catholics" (and some Lutherans I knew) were just giving up something as sort of a mock penance or something. So many would say things like, "I gave up chocolate for Lent." And my thoughts were something like, "So what??" I didn't see the point. Nor did it really seem like a true sacrifice to me.

Lent is more about what Christ gives us, though. It is a whole time to focus toward the cross, His sacrifice of love, and, in times of reflection and prayer, what our response should be, in light of all He has done. It's a hard time. It means fasting, in order to spend more time in prayer; more time focused on Him than ourselves. It is a time of allowing the Holy Spirit to do a deep work in our spirit. The habits and sins that are there, needing to be purged from our lives, come into a sharper focus somehow. That does seem like a real "bummer", I guess.

But it is so incredibly freeing to let go of those things. To walk in a newness that we have not previously known. To allow Christ to shape us even more into His image. That we may walk worthy of the cross.

And so you might be wondering, "So what does all of this have to do with the Scripture passage you quoted?" I'm glad you asked!

The segment from Luke was the Gospel reading for this past Sunday. In our pastor's sermon, he focused on the Old Testament reading, too. This was one of the incidents in which Saul was chasing David, in order to kill him. David had a chance to kill Saul, but stood in integrity, refusing to "touch the Lord's anointed". Our pastor pointed out that David was a perfect example of Christ's teaching in Luke.

His words really made me stop and think about people in my life--people I really struggle to deal with in a Christ-like manner. Oh, maybe not on the outside. But in my thoughts, and in my heart, where it really matters. Wow, was I convicted!

Which takes us back to Lent. A friend and I discussed that maybe this is where God is taking us this Lent. To a place of really showing Christ's love, no matter how someone treats us. But not just how we act toward them outwardly. How do we really feel about them in our heart? Do we have Christ's love and compassion?

As I walk through these 40 days of Lent, my prayer is that God will work His love even deeper into my heart. That in my innermost being, there will be a purity of love for Him that overflows into a true, honest love for those around me. No matter what.

Join me on the journey, my friends. You may get to know me a bit better. And may we all draw nearer to our Lord, as He conforms us to His image.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Just Venting

So one day I innocently sign in to "blogger" to add a comment to a friend's blog. And boom! it makes me change everything over to the new blogger. Did I WANT to do this? No. Did I have a choice? No.

Can you tell I hate change???

So this post is simply my way of saying, "It was fine the way it was. Stop trying to always making everything more techie. Some of us like it just as it is. Forcing us to change is going a bit far."

Thank you. I've had my say. Now on to your regularly scheduled blogging.

(Actually, I'm just making sure I can add a post to this now that it's changed over. But venting felt good, too!) :o)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Taking a Break

The interest in my blog seems to have waned a bit. Life is keeping me busy, too.

So...if you don't see a new post for awhile, don't lose heart. I shall return. In the meantime, feel free to contact me via e-mail.