Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How to Approach and Make the Most of the Lenten Season

In years past, I have jumped on the bandwagon of giving up something for Lent.  I listen to my friends discussing life without soft drinks and bread and know that in a week in we will be sitting around drinking diet soda with our pizza.  Why do we attempt to make sacrifices?  Are we really seeing and understanding the true meaning of Lent?  Can giving up chocolate lead to a closer relationship with Christ?

The idea behind the Lenten practice of self-denial is to use the time normally spent on what you are giving up in prayer and communion with the Lord.  So, if you eat a lot of chocolate, then you could devote the time spent eating chocolate to time reading your Bible and the money spent purchasing chocolate you could give to charity.  

In order to make the most of the next 40 days, choose to release something from your life that stands in the way of your relationship with Christ.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Choose to use your devices ONLY to spread the word of God.  Use your computer for Bible study, tweet inspirational bible verses, Instagram inspiring photos of God's creation (we are using the hashtag #withtheseasons) and BE DONE.  Put it down!  No selfies, no shopping, no Pinterest.  Spend the extra time with your family- creating art and reading books.  Visit family and friends.  Go outside.  Connect ONLY for ministry!
  2. Fast one meal.  Spend that time praying for the hungry.  I would never encourage my children to give up a meal- they are such picky eaters they need all the nourishment they can get!  However, consider explaining to them what you are doing and why you are doing it, then busy yourself reading to them from the Bible while they are eating their meal.  It's a win-win!  You are distracted from hunger and remain centered in why you are choosing to fast.
  3. Read 7 by Jen Hatmaker.  Choose to follow her example.
  4. Give up shopping.  I know you have to buy groceries- that's not what I'm talking about!  When you see something you really want, make a note of how much it cost.  Then use the money you could've spent on new shoes to sponsor a child through an organization such as Compassion.  You won't be sorry, I promise!
  5. Choose to eat in instead of eating out.  Prepare meals with your family and enjoy time spent around your kitchen table in your home.  Home should be a haven- a place where your family feels safe and loved.  I don't know what your schedule is like, but commit yourself to serving at least one meal to your family every day.  Join hands around the table and offer prayer to the One that loves you enough to fill your belly with sustaining food that gives you strength and energy.  Use your strength and energy to minister to your family.
  6. Turn off the television.  Come on!!!  In today's advanced times you can easily set your DVR to record your favorite shows.  Chances are you won't even want to watch them at the end of the 40 days!
There are so many options to help you grow in your relationship with Christ- this is just a drop in the bucket.  Pray about it and choose change.  Please consider leaving a message in the comments about what you are giving up for Lent and why you chose that particular thing!  I cannot wait to hear from you!

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