pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Invitation

Reading: Mark 8: 31-33

Verse 33: “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men”.

Lent is a season of fasting and self-denial. It is the season when we are invited to look within and to surrender all that keeps us from being fully committed to God. In general, the things of the men, the things that culture values, keep us separated. In today’s passage, Peter is a good example of this. After Jesus tells the disciples that He will soon be rejected and killed, Peter pulls Him aside to protest such a thing happening. Jesus then rebukes Peter, saying to him, “Get behind me Satan”! The future rock of the church is being called Satan. But Jesus goes on. He knows that the human Peter missed the “after three days rise again” part of the story. Sadly Jesus says to him, “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men”. Peter wanted Jesus to stay with them. He wanted to hold onto the familiar and comfortable. Peter is not alone.

The season of Lent with all of its fasting and self-denial and surrender continues to run counter to our human desires and to our culture and its values. In a culture that preaches “just do it” and “do it if it makes you feel good” the idea of Lent is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. It is no wonder so many of us struggle with Lent. Ultimately, though, Lent is a season all about grace and holiness. As we look within, God invites us to be more like Jesus. As we look outside of ourselves, God invites live out His grace and love. In these ways, Lent is an invitation not a requirement. It is an invitation to be a better follower, to live out a more holy and faithful life. And, yes, if we accept the invitation, it will bring some discomfort – it is a harder journey.

As God invites us to search within and to step out, we do so with a promise: “I will never leave you”. Through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit we do not search and we do not go alone. In those moments of unfamiliar, the Spirit will guide and lead. In those moments of discomfort, the Spirit speaks words of peace and strength. In those moments when we look within, when it is unsettling, the Spirit speaks words of encouragement and support. Our discomfort, our unease, are invitations into God’s grace and love. They are invitations to draw closer, to walk holier. They are opportunities that allow His grace and love to reshaped us, to transform us. When we choose to focus our minds on the things of God, we are blessed. May this be my choice and your choice throughout this Lenten season. Amen!


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Our Call

Today is Ash Wednesday.  Today Lent begins.  Lent is a time designated as a time of preparation.  Spiritual disciplines such as self-examination and repentance, self-denial, and fasting couple with practices such as prayer and reading and meditating on God’s Word to help us prepare ourselves for Easter.

Lent is often a time we choose to give something up.  This is a form of self-denial.  When we crave or notice what we chose to give up, we should draw close to God in prayer.  We are reminded that we are dependant on Him.  Fasting is another way we can deny self and draw closer to God.  In the same way, when we feel the hunger we draw close to God in prayer and seek His strength.  In one of the devotionals I read, the author wrote, “Fasting is an offering to God to overcome being and doing what we want so that we may be and do what God wants.”  We become less so that He can become more.

Lent should also be about other things we choose to do for God.  In today’s reading from Isaiah God calls us to feed the hungry, to care for the poor, to loosen the bonds of injustice, to free the oppressed.  God is seeking a just and fair world, a world where all are loved equally and where all have enough to meet their needs.

You and I have a role to play in this world that God wants to see.  Both personally and corporately we must be involved in healing our world.  Us as individuals and our churches as a whole can do much to restore this world.  Whether one person at a time or one issue at a time, God’s people must make a difference in this world.  It is our call.

Scripture reference: Isaiah 58: 1-12