Here’s your invitation to check out my latest podcast!
In this episode, I walk us into a space where the secular and the sacred distinction dissolves allowing us to embrace and experience the sacred moment that is present. When we falsely believe that the components of our lives ( body-soul-spirit) are compartmentalized & separate from each other, we tend to label and make divisions everywhere.
This disconnects us from fully living the into the moment that we have. Sometimes we finally have a breakthrough moment on retreats, seminars or places like monasteries where the veil between us and God is so thin, and we find ourselves free of the divisions. The beauty though is when you are able to live fully present wherever you are, you are taking the monastery with you.
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Every year I have many people ask me “What is the purpose of Lent?” Why do we emphasize or practice something that isn’t found in the Bible?” What are the origins of Lent” and “isn’t it Catholic?” If you did not grow up in a main-line church (Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist etc.) then Lent might be foreign to you. However, if you did grow up in one of those denominations, you see Lent as a 40-day focus on repentance, and removing the things that distract us from living a God-centric life.
Another way to put it is that Lent is a 40-day retreat that helps us realign with God. I don’t know about you, but I need as many opportunities as possible to realign my heart with the heart of God.
The Biblical connections would be the 40 day period that Moses encountered God on Mt. Sinai as well as the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert and was tempted by Satan. In light of the latter, that is why fasting has been a traditional part of the Lenten journey.
We miss the power of Lent, though, when we simply think we need to give up chocolate or something we like for forty days because it’s Lent…This misses the point and is a waste of good chocolate. When we desire to draw near to God, we ask His Spirit to reveal those things which continually negotiate for His attention and we choose to reprioritize that thing in our life so that God is first. Perhaps you do have an issue with food. Food is fuel, nothing more, nothing less. So if food is used for comfort, or dealing with stress or any other way to medicate your life, then food would be a good thing to fast from. There are, however, many things that get lodged into first place leaving God in the dust.
What is it for you? Sports? Movies? Alcohol? Sex? Power? Leisure? Bad Religion?
Or maybe it’s more subtle like, stress, anger, manipulation, blaming, negativity, hatred, self-hatred, fear, excuses, arrogance or even judging.
All of these things carry something that we like, even though on the outside we would think it wrong, but somewhere there is a pay-off, and that is why we keep doing them.
Yet, when we continue to live this way, unrepentantly, these things become the gods we worship, and they are vicious gods.
Lent is a season in the church that helps us as individuals, and as a community, rid ourselves of the sins that entangle, ensnare and sabotage our spiritual growth, and that is powerful.
As life is always a two-way movement of sorts, Lent, for me, is also a time of “adding to” not merely subtracting from.
What do you need to add into your spiritual journey this year?
How about Grace-giving, compassion, meditation, prayer, reading life-giving books, forgiveness, compliments, positive words to others, pursuing justice for the marginalized and oppressed, being a conduit of love to every person you come into contact with. Teresa of Calcutta said it well:
“As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”
I think that the most beautiful moment of Lent happens when you do your soul work, realize that there is much shadow still inside of you, and yet experience the overwhelming and irrational love and grace of God. This kind of love knocks us off of our feet, makes our head dizzy and confounds the wisest in the world. This leaves us astonished, as Brennan Manning noted:
“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.”
Grace and Peace…
More books and less binge-watching will transform your life!
The following books are in no particular order and speak to various areas of thought. From fiction to faith, I would encourage you to read widely and discerningly. Most people today read within a small circle of authors that they like and agree with. If you are only reading authors who think like you, there is limited growth happening in your soul. Read authors who come at things differently, think differently and even believe differently. Release your fear, you are stronger and more discerning than you think, and who knows, you just might gain some new insights or see things from a different perspective.
- The Go-Giver
- Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
- Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible
- Sabbath As Resistance
- Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked
- The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness: A True Story
- Why You Think The Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews From Rome to Home
- Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God
- Man’s Search For Meaning
- Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
- A Prayer For Owen Meany: A Novel
- The Sparrow
- How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels
- As A Man Thinketh
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
- Pilgrims Progress
- Eager To Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi
- Disunity In Christ
- The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Volumes 1 & 2
- Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
I’d love to hear what books have and are impacting you!
Please leave your recommendations in the comments.