“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart…”Joel 2:12
Here we are, right in the middle of Lent. For some of us it has been a blessed, fruitful, prayerful many days of walking with the Lord. For some of us, we might be wrestling with an “oh shoot” moment as we look back on the plans we made three weeks ago because the actions haven’t quite matched the plans. The good news…Jesus loves you no matter how your plans have played out. Don’t look at it as being stuck in the middle, look at it as a chance to “pour it on” and finish the second half strong. The Father knows the intent of our heart so if you need it…get your engine started without comparing your Lent to anybody else’s…it’s just yours and yours alone. Chat with Jesus about it, not your neighbor. Whether you are looking at a re-start today or a new challenge to add to your Lenten practices here are some things to ponder and pray about.
Lent is a beautifully personal season in our life as disciples. The readings and practices are steeped in rich opportunities to grow closer to Jesus and cooperate more fully with his plan for us. If we think of all the things in a week that grab our time and attention, living out our sainthood should claim spot number one…talk about a worthwhile focus for the second three weeks of Lent. Take some time to be still for a bit and take a look at the first half of your Lent. Make a list of the things you’ve done well and another list of the places you might like to focus. Discipline, stillness, servant heartedness and prayerfulness don’t come at the snap of a finger; they take effort, mindfulness and discipline. Jot down the activities that make up a “usual” day and see where you’re spending your time. As you prayerfully muster up the grit to dive in, here are some thoughts that might guide your prayers and your actions.
**Do not practice what you do not want to become.
**How your practice is how you’ll perform.
**Repeated actions are amplified over time.
**Busy and productive are often very different things…which are you?
**We can do things right but sometimes not do the right thing.
The ultimate truth about Lent is that it’s not about what you do for Jesus, it’s about what you let him do for you. Things like surrender, trust and stillness are what Jesus is inviting us to and they are infinitely more transformative than giving up wine or chocolate. As you head into the second wave of Lent, start with them and see where he leads you and what he brings to your heart on Easter Sunday.
A Seed To Plant: Make those lists mentioned in the post and pick one of the thoughts that hit your heart and let them be your guide as you begin this third week of Lent.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Habakkuk 3:19
I absolutely love sports movies! It’s kinda funny that a sports movie will always be my first pick because I have not one athletic bone in my body. I love it when the underdog wins, the hopeless find hope and the least expected turns out to be the most amazing. I have pulled four of my favorite quotes from 3 great movies for today’s post and added a twist as if they were each spoken to us by Jesus Himself.
It’s ok to think about what you want to do until it’s time to do what you’re meant to do. (The Rookie) If Jesus said that to us, I think He’d follow it up with “so put your plans and your dreams at the foot of my cross and I’ll take it from there. Oh, and by the way, I’ll come up with something WAYYYY better for you than you’d ever dream up yourself. Wait for it….Wait for it!”
You’ve taught me to judge a man by the soul of him, rather than the look of him. (Remember the Titans) That’s Jesus talking… but all too often way too many of us still haven’t learned that lesson. It’s easy to see this quote in terms of race but I think it’s much bigger than that. What about seeing the soul of a homeless person or a person lost in alcoholism or someone struggling with anger or mental illness? It’s not always easy to see beyond the first look sometimes but we’re supposed to.
When I told you not to get your hopes up, that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to. (Invincible) One of the things that really hurts my heart is when I visit with someone who has no hope. It hurts my heart even more when I see a person smash someone else’s hope. Hope is a very powerful thing and it can make amazing things happen. Hope is a grace and it’s freely given to each of us but we have to make sure we know that putting our hope in Christ is what we need to do. When we tell someone not to get their hopes up, we seem to be trying to protect them but I suppose Jesus would remind us to say instead, put your hope in Me because I have only the best for you….I will give you far more than you could hope for.
Sometimes bad things happen for no particular reason at all. (Remember the Titans) I see two big lessons of faith in this line. Lesson one, don't try to blame everything on something or someone and don’t try to explain, justify or second guess God’s motives because He sees our whole life, not just one event. Lesson two, no particular reason you can see or understand at this moment, but give Him time, He will reveal the reason and He will bring blessing and goodness because of it. I suppose it’s also helpful to remember that sometimes the lesson and the blessing are meant for someone else and it just comes through us and our circumstance.
I sort of figure watching sports movies is a faith experience when you realize that one of the ways God reveals himself to us is through others. Sometimes those others are actors and script writers that unknowingly put a powerful message about discipleship into the movie. Whatever your favorite movies are…listen again and see if there just might be a message to help you follow Jesus a little closer.
A Seed To Plant: Think of a line from one of your favorite movies that has meaning and enforces a Gospel teaching in your life. If you have time, share it with us in the comment section so we can be inspired as well.
Blessings on your day!
…then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. Proverbs 3:10
It was one of those mornings! The kind where the minutes evaporate and the tasks multiply! I was rushing and trying to do some things two handed in the kitchen. I was pouring coffee with my right hand and rinsing dishes in the sink with my left. I guess I was focusing too hard on my left hand and didn’t notice my coffee pouring right hand was working overtime. Before I realized what had happened I literally had a “hot mess” on my hands which led to some mopping and re-brewing that weren’t in the morning plan. It seems that even when the coffee mug reached it’s maximum capacity, I kept pouring…and pouring…and pouring. The hot deliciousness from my coffee pot silently cascaded over the rim of the mug all over the counter and down the cabinet onto the kitchen floor. Just a word of warning; don’t try to wipe up freshly brewed hot coffee with paper towel until it’s had a wee bit of time to cool off. I’m not sure I remember what had me so distracted that morning but I sure can tell you what happened after the mess was cleaned up.
After brewing more coffee, I took my mug to the prayer chair and just took a few peaceful breaths before I cracked open one of my daily prayer books. I opened to the days page and I was astounded at the story that greeted me. Two things before I share the story; yes, I nearly spit out my sip of fresh delicious coffee as I started to read and yes, I realize you just can’t make this stuff up! Here’s what I read. There was a university professor who went searching for the meaning of life. After several years and several miles, he came to the hut of a particularly holy hermit and asked to be enlightened. The holy man invited the visitor into his humble dwelling and began to serve him tea. He filled the professor’s cup and then kept on pouring so that the tea was soon dripping onto the floor. The professor watched until he could no longer restrain himself. “Stop! It’s full. No more will go in.” “Like this cup”, said the hermit, “you are full of your own opinions, preconceptions, and ideas. How can I teach you unless you first empty your cup?” Thank you Fr. Wharton for peeking into my day and smacking me upside the head!
I’ve spent the last several days pondering what ’s in my cup. I’ve come to the conclusion that my cup is full of good stuff but it’s stuff I put there. I’m really good at filling my cup with things I think God would like but I have to pray and ponder a bit to make sure they really are the things he wants in my cup. I guess the only way to be sure is to dump out the cup and start over. I have to figure out how to empty myself and let him do the filling. It doesn’t really matter how I want to serve him, what matters is that I serve him the way he wants me too. I have never heard the “voice” of God; you know like a Morgan Freeman kind of voice but I sure know he’s sending a message and last week he sent it with the delicious smell of coffee. I know one thing for certain; God went to great lengths to get my attention so I think I’ll give this more thought and prayer and let you know what I come up with.
A Seed To Plant: What’s filling your cup? Is there room for Him?
Blessings on your day!
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