So Lent has arrived. Friends are hustling and bustling with their new “resolutions.” In the last few weeks I have been offered a few different ideas of things I could give up.
I have only observed lent once before, two years ago, I gave up Celebrity Gossip websites and magazines. Basically, I gave up celebrities for Lent. I was obsessed with Celebrity Gossip. I would check my websites hourly, if not more. I always bought a tabloid magazine when I was checking out at the grocery store. I knew more about Jessica Simpson, Angelina Jolie, and John Mayer than a lot of my own friends and family. I was addicted to information.
Then Britney went and shaved her head, less than a week into Lent. COME ON! But, I held strong to the resolution of staying off the sites. After the 40 days were up, I had almost no clue with what was going on with my favorite A-listers. And it seemed a lot less necessary to know who was partying this week in NYC and who was laying on the beaches of Malibu.
As lame as it sounds, giving up Celebrities for Lent had a pretty awesome impact on my life. The website thing snowballed into spending less time surfing the web and watching TV. I was able to spend more time thinking about things that matter and spending time with those that I love. When the 40 days was up, I wasn’t itching to click on to Perezhilton.com or Pinkisthenewblog.com. I didn’t really even miss them. And they sure as heck did not miss me.
I no longer was laughing at the way these people looked and acted, and began to realize how much that affected the condition of my own heart and saw how much that affected my own self view. I was able step out of the lenses which I saw the world, and pick up the lenses of God’s word and see myself and others that way.
This is still such a journey for me, and one forty day Celebrity Hiatus did not restore my right thinking, but got me on an incredible path, and away from destructive thoughts.
So, I the last few weeks, particularly since SnoCal my heart has been convicted deeply of what being a Christian is costing me.
Honestly, most days it doesn’t cost me much. Perhaps a piece of my income for tithing, Tuesday nights for CAD, the occasisional weekend high school trip, and a week each summer for Camp.
But those are things I really, truly, enjoy.
So I wonder, is the sacrifice of serving Christ, always going to be unenjoyable? Or can I enjoy the cost?
I think the answer to that is yes, and I think that is God’s desire for us. That we find enjoyment in seeking and desiring him. (Hello, John Piper!)
But I think with that enjoyment, we should be inspired to give more, sacrifice more, let the cost be greater. And God is so faithful, he blesses those sacrifices. Not in the ways we expect, but in ways that we can easily miss unless we are attentive and listening to Him.
In these last few days preceding lent, I have been pondering how much I am willing to give up. I scare myself with how much I realize I can and should give up and how little I am willing to.
Pray that my heart would be more willing, and that would seek to live with so much less than I have.
So for the purpose of lent I have resolved to do the following:
1. 40 Days of Water – For 40 days I will drink no beverage other than water. No coffee, no tea, no soda, no Quickly, no milkshakes. Anything that goes in a cup, will be H2O. At the end I will tabulate approximately what I “saved” on beverages and donate towards clean water for those in need. I already have “pledged to reduce bottled water use” – with my Brita Filter. So I have cut out most daily beverages outside of water. The challenge here will be for my morning tea, Saturday morning Starbucks run, and the nighttime Quickly stops. I also love the slogan for this
“Forty Days of Water*
*No Ark Neccessary“
No Ark Necessary
2. Memorize The Book of Philippians – Someone had mentioned to me that for Lent, we don’t always have to give something up. But we can resolve to do something new. I began working on some Scripture memorization a few weeks ago, after Angela inspired me. So 40 days, 4 chapters. I broke it all out into a reading plan today, and it seems a bit daunting, but I know that God will give me the strength and discipline to do it, so long as I yield to Him. The book of Philippians is 4 chapters – that is 1 chapter every 10 days. Chapters 1 & 2 are 30 verses each. (3 & 4 have 21 and 23 respectively) , which breaks down to about 3 verses per day.
3. Give up biting my nails. This is more for fun, so that I will have long nails and be able to get a manicure in 40 days.
So my Lent resolutions truly aren’t that sacrificial. I think the memorization will take time, and discipline. I need to be dedicated to doing it, and not getting behind.
There are things that I am not giving up in absolute for Lent, but that I would like to focus on through this period anyway (less tv, less mindless websurfing (mob wars!), less personal stuff while at work (ahem, blogs!), less playing with my blackberry (brickbreaker & facebook status updates), more time reflecting and meditating on God’s word, longer and deeper quiet times, better prayer life, more giving of finances, a kinder heart and attitude towards others, more time spent on ministry and other people, attitudes and actions of service).
It is my prayer and goal that by the time Holy Week arrives that the condition of my heart is more sacrificial and more willing to give, and that at the end of it all I am different than I am today. I pray that God works and changes me in the next 40 days, and that those changes don’t just stop, but affect me for the rest of my life. I pray that in this time which is ultimately about reflection and repentance that I can know and hear God just a little bit better than I do today.
Let me know what you are giving up or adding on for Lent.
And if you are interested in joining with me in memorizing Philippians here is my daily breakdown (I picked to use the NIV since I already knew a few of these verses, I also can make you a set of flashcards with 1-2 verses on each one if you are interested):
Day 1 (2/25/09)
1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3I thank my God every time I remember you.
Day 2 (2/26/09)
4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Day 3 (2/27/09)
7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Day 4 (2/28/09)
9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Day 5 (3/1/09)
12Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
Day 6 (3/2/09)
15It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Day 7 (3/3/09)
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
Day 8 (3/4/09)
21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Day 9 (3/5/09)
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
Day 10 (3/6/09)
27Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, 30since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
Day 11 (3/7/09)
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Day 12 (3/8/09)
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Day 13 (3/9/09)
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Day 14 (3/10/09)
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Day 15 (3/11/09)
14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
Day 16 (3/12/09)
17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Day 17 (3/13/09)
19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.
Day 18 (3/14/09)
21For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
Day 19 (3/15/09)
25But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.
Day 20 (3/16/09)
28Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.
Day 21 (3/17/09)
1Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
2Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
Day 22 (3/18/09)
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
Day 23 (3/19/09)
8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
Day 24 (3/20/09)
10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Day 25 (3/21/09)
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Day 26 (3/22/09)
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Day 27 (3/23/09)
17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Day 28 (3/24/09)
19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Day 29 & 30 – Catch Up & Practice Days
Day 31 (3/27/09)
1Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
Day 32 (3/28/09)
2I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow,help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Day 33 (3/29/09)
4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Day 34 (3/30/09)
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Day 35 (3/31/09)
10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Day 36 (4/1/09)
13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
14Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;
Day 37 (4/2/09)
16for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. 17Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. 18I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
Day 38 (4/3/09)
19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
20To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Day 39 (4/4/09)
21Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. 22All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
23The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Day 40 (4/5/09)