Lent quotes: “Lent is for the Lost” – Ann Voskamp

March 4, 2015

I appreciated this powerful encouragement / basic reminder as Lent has me very aware of the mess I make of my life when I choose to cling to sin:

Lent’s for the messes, the mourners, the muddled — for the people right lost. Lent’s not about making anybody acceptable to a Savior — but about making everybody aware of why they need a Savior.

From Ann Voskamp’s most recent Lenten blog entry.  Go read it all!


A Crucified People – Lent Reflection by Barnabas Piper, The Gospel Project

February 25, 2015

Thanks to a tweet yesterday from the Gospel Project (@Gospel_Project) I discovered this excellent reflection from Barnabas Piper.  It’s perfect for Lent.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Take up your cross, and follow me,” said Jesus. Follow Him where? And why do we need this cross? I thought He bore the cross so I don’t have to.

“It’s my cross to bear,” said the Christian. What is? That job he hates, the nagging spouse, the contentious deacon, an illness, a rebellious child. In religious nomenclature we have substituted common frustrations of life for the cross and bear those instead.

Christians, the cross we are to bear is the same Jesus bore, a symbol of death and a tool of destruction. It is the cross on which we lay down our lives for our friends and love our wives as Christ loved the church, on which the old is killed and sin is put to death. We take up the cross so that we can give up our lives. What is crucified is our own lordship over ourselves, the god of self that was born in Eden and has controlled humanity since. Each day we bear our cross and follow Jesus, and in so doing that self-god is killed day-by-day.  (emphasis added)

The whole reflection is EXCELLENT.  I highly recommend it!


Lent Quotes. Martin Luther – Unworthy to pray?

February 23, 2015

Some say, “I would feel better about God hearing my prayer if I were more worthy and lived a better life.” I simply answer: If you don’t want to pray before you feel that you are worthy or qualified, then you will never pray again. Prayer must not be based on or depend on your personal worthiness or the quality of the prayer itself; rather, it must be based on the unchanging truth of God’s promise. If the prayer is based on itself or on anything else besides God’s promise, then it’s a false prayer that deceives you—even if your heart is breaking with intense devotion and you are weeping drops of blood.

We pray because we are unworthy to pray. Our prayers are heard precisely because we believe that we are unworthy. We become worthy to pray when we risk everything on God’s faithfulness alone.

So go ahead and feel unworthy. But know in your heart that it’s a thousand times more important to honor God’s truthfulness. Yes, everything depends on this alone. Don’t turn his faithful promise into a lie by your doubts. For your worthiness doesn’t help you, and neither does your unworthiness hinder you. A lack of faith is what condemns you, but confidence in God is what makes you worthy.

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Luke 18:13

Martin Luther; James C. Galvin, Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional


Malcolm Guite on Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness

February 21, 2015

In his Feb. 19 Lenten devotional, Malcolm Guite makes a REALLY helpful point that we should not merely focus on Jesus’ overcoming temptation as some kind of example for us of how we should resist the devil:

If Jesus were simply set before me as an example of heroic human achievement I would despair. His very success in resisting temptation would just make me feel worse about my failure. But he is not just my exemplar, he is my saviour, he is the one who takes my place and stands in for me, and in the mystery of redemption he acts for me and makes up, in his resistance to evil what is lacking in mine.

Such a powerful truth!

Here’s the link for the full entry including his original sonnet “Stones into bread”.


Lent – A removal of the buzzing bright lights…

February 19, 2015

A nice description of one of the ways Lent can benefit our spiritual lives, from yesterday’s Lent devotional at the Biola Lent project site:

Lent strips away the excess and turns down the volume on our over-mediation [i.e. media obsession / over-stimulation]. It’s a period of time that beckons us to simpler, almost minimalist existence—a removal of the buzzing bright lights that draw our eyes in a hundred different directions, allowing us to see more clearly the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As we deny ourselves, as we quiet our hearts and focus our busy minds, we identify with Christ in the desert, Christ in Gethsemane, Christ on the cross. This is all a preparation to exalt in the blinding bright hope of Christ the Resurrected. In a manner similar to what the Sabbath does for us on a weekly basis, Lent is a set-aside period of time to withdraw from an unrelenting pace and pause to reflect, rejoice, lament, anticipate. If we want to see more clearly, we must embrace seasons of focus like this.

The devotional closed with this prayer:

PRAYER

Lord, bring us to our knees.  Quiet our hearts.Away from the onslaught of screens and  tweets and texts, focus our eyes on you.  Abide in our perceptions, as we taste and see and hear that you are good.  Remove us from ourselves.  Help us to dismiss our notions of grandeur and relinquish our litany of self-appointed rights: that we deserve jobs, comfort and cappuccinos; that our social updates deserve to be paid attention to; that the world revolves around us; that we can do with our bodies what we fancy; that the chief end of life is our own individual happiness.  Remove us from ourselves Lord, and draw us closer to You.  In the darkness, in the desert, in the endless debates, let us look to resurrection.  Let us see the rising sun. Amen.

Brett McCracken, Managing Editor, Biola Magazine


A Lenten Focus on Grace-Filled Obedience – Bishop Mark Lawrence’s Exhortation

February 19, 2015

Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina is such a gift to the Church!  So often pastoral letters he has written, or talks he has given have encouraged and challenged me deeply.

So it is this morning as I read Bishop Mark Lawrence’s pastoral letter for Lent 2015.   In his letter he asks this question:

If grace-filled obe­di­ence not self-imposed depri­va­tion is the path­way to God’s bless­ing shouldn’t one’s Lenten dis­ci­pline focus on this?

For me that really crystallized a way of defining the Lenten disciplines I have chosen.  More about obedience than deprivation.  But I didn’t have an easy way or phrase in my mind to describe it.  Now I do.  Grace-filled obedience.  Amen.

Here’s part of the larger context of Bishop Mark Lawrence’s letter

This Ash Wednes­day morn­ing … these words from Pro­fes­sor J. Alec Motyer’s com­men­tary on the prophecy of Isa­iah .. leapt off the page and brought my rest­less mind to a sud­den pause.

“The Lord is more con­cerned with the enjoy­ment of his bless­ings through obe­di­ence to His com­mands than in self-imposed deprivations.”

These words came as if they were a prophetic word to my soul as I was prayer­fully con­sid­er­ing what dis­ci­plines to embrace this Lent. It wasn’t lost on me that Pro­fes­sor Motyer’s words were com­men­tary on Isa­iah 58 where the prophet spoke of the fast God chooses for his peo­ple: break­ing the bonds of oppres­sion, shar­ing bread with the hun­gry, car­ing for the home­less, cloth­ing the naked, and nur­tur­ing one’s own fam­ily. How might this apply for us here in South Car­olina? For our broth­ers and sis­ters in Christ in Egypt, Nige­ria, Kenya, Sudan and else­where around the world?

This was not the only word that resounded on this Ash Wednes­day morn­ing on this 2015th year of our Lord. There were oth­ers as well. Another was this open­ing para­graph from a homily by St. John Chrysos­tom expound­ing First Corinthi­ans 1:1–3: ‘See how imme­di­ately, from the very begin­ning, he [Paul] casts down their pride, and dashes to the ground all their fond imag­i­na­tion, in that he speaks of him­self as “called.” For what I have learnt, saith he, I dis­cov­ered not myself, nor acquired by my own wis­dom, but while I was per­se­cut­ing and lay­ing waste the Church I was called. Now here of Him that cal­leth is every­thing; of him that is called, noth­ing (so to speak,) but only to obey.’

Then there was this word, spo­ken orig­i­nally to John Ort­berg by Dal­las Willard, and quoted in his book Soul Keep­ing: “Hurry is the great enemy of spir­i­tual life in our day. You must ruth­lessly elim­i­nate hurry from your life.”

What do all these words read this day and res­onat­ing in my ears have to do with my obser­vance of holy Lent? This I believe:

If grace-filled obe­di­ence not self-imposed depri­va­tion is the path­way to God’s bless­ing shouldn’t one’s Lenten dis­ci­pline focus on this?

If God’s call, not the dri­ven life, is for each of us our apos­tolic mis­sion shouldn’t that be the place out of which we live our lives and do our work and ministry?

If we are dust and to dust we shall return (as the words of the Ash Wednes­day liturgy reminds us) why am I, and so many of us, in such a hurry?

I encourage you to read and reflect on Bishop Lawrence’s entire letter.

 


Lent Quotes – Lancelot Andrewes

February 18, 2015

Repentance itself is nothing else but a kind of circling: to turn to the One by repentance from whom, by sin, we have turned away.

First, then, there is a turn in which we look forward to God and with our whole heart resolve to turn to God. Then there is a turn again in which we look backward to our sins in which we have turned from God; and with beholding them our very heart must break. There is one turn resolving to amend that which is to come; another reflecting and sorrowing for that which is past; one turn declining from evil to be done hereafter, another sentencing itself for evil done before.

To turn is a counsel given to those are out of the right way, for going on still and turning are opposite motions, both of them with reference to a way. It the way is good, we are to hold on; if otherwise, to turn and take another.

– excerpt from Lancelot Andrewes’ Ash Wednesday sermon 1619

posted by James Gibson at Locusts and Wild Honey


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