Uncomfortable Shoes and Lent

HHHshoes.jpg I’ll never quite understand high heeled shoes. Why do us women put ourselves through the age old ritual of walking on our toes while a tiny sliver of a platform supports our heels? This experience is rarely comfortable, nor is it practical. Imagine somebody successfully climbing a mountain, wrestling a mountain lion, changing a tire, or running away from zombies. Are they wearing high heels in your imagination? I didn’t think so.

You know what I do appreciate about high heeled shoes, despite their impractical discomfort? I truly appreciate taking them off at the end of a long day spent wearing them! Wow, do my feet feel great to be freed from the foot-clenching confines of an impractical pair of shoes! I wiggle my toes, rub my arches, and feel like my heels are sinking into the floor with the perspective of finally standing flat footed after a day upon my toes. Kicking off a pair of heels is the first step towards the inevitable change into sweat pants and wool socks, followed by lounging on the couch with a warm knit blanket, television on or fireplace roaring, hot cup of tea in hand. Relaxation never feels as good as it feels following a day spent wearing heels!

As we approach the season of Lent (coming up in about 2 weeks!), many Christians are considering the season as though it’s an impending 40 days spent in uncomfortable shoes. They plan for their own discomfort, willfully “giving something up”, fasting, or abstaining from either sin or pleasure, because it has become a cultural Christian norm to do so. But what is the purpose of this self-denial exercise? Many have come to view the season merely as an earthly exercise in self restraint. The secular Lent message goes like this: Give something up for a time so that when you return to it again, you’ll appreciate it more. Chocolate never tasted so good as it tastes following forty days of abstaining from it!

Self denial for the sake of self improvement is not strictly a Christian practice. Asceticism, or the practice of strict self denial, can also be found in Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. This is where Lenten self denial can become problematic for Christians. For many Christians, the focus of the Lenten season has become self improvement, discipline, or endurance, worldly goals which can be achieved with or without faith. In the meantime, we neglect the Biblical depiction of Lenten asceticism entirely. The Biblical Lenten message is this: Jesus gave up the ultimate pleasure—his own life—so that we can enjoy eternal life with Him. It is Christ’s self sacrifice that should be the focus of the Lenten season, not our own. If our self denial does not point to Jesus, then it is self serving. How can we prepare our hearts and minds for Lent in a way that honors God’s true sacrifice of His only Son for us?

Dear Jesus, help us to prepare our hearts and minds for your death and resurrection this Lenten season. Help us not to be self serving in our asceticism, to make the season all about our own self improvement or endurance. Rather, allow us to celebrate your ultimate sacrifice for us—the ultimate fast which led to our salvation. Amen!

AmberSignature

Confession & Fasting (Part 2) // A Lenten Bible Study

F R E S H S T A R T  

At bedtime our kids have a night light in their room to help them sleep. It brings them comfort. It makes them feel safe. If they wake up in the night for whatever reason they can see where they are going.

When I was eight years old I watched a scary movie and it shook me so much that afterwards I went through a phase where I would turn on all the lights in my bedroom just so I could fall asleep without fear.

Some adults are still afraid of the dark.

But let's ask ourselves this... What does it mean when we are afraid of the light? 

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The last two weeks our bible studies have taken a closer look at our sin and need for Jesus. We have spent time confessing our sins reading Isaiah 59. You will notice Isaiah 59 gets more personal when we switch the words you with me. Join me in praying it below.

Dear Lord,

So justice is far from me     and righteousness does not reach me I look for light, but all is darkness;     for brightness, but I walk in deep shadows. 10 Like the blind I grope along the wall,     feeling my way like people without eyes. At midday I stumble as if it were twilight;     among the strong, I am like the dead. 11  I growl like bears;     I moan mournfully like doves. I look for justice, but find none;     for deliverance, but it is far away.

12 For my offenses are many in your sight,     and my sins testify against me. My offenses are ever with me,     and I acknowledge my iniquities: 13 rebellion and treachery against the Lord,     turning my back on my God, inciting revolt and oppression,     uttering lies our hearts have conceived. 14 So justice is driven back,     and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets,     honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is nowhere to be found,     and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

In Jesus name, forgive us and hear our prayer, Lord. Amen.

ConfessionandFastingPartTwo

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I am grateful that you are joining me during this season of Lent in God's Word.

Click here to print off this weeks bible study!

Week One - Fake Fasting Week Two - True Fasting Week Three/Four - Satisfied Fasting Week Five - Confession & Fasting Part One Week Six - Confession & Fasting Part Two

If you want to be a part of the bible study I highly recommend being a part of the Facebook group where we get to know you more and be mutually encouraged in God's Word throughout the week! The Facebook group is private so any information that you share will be seen only by those allowed in the group.

Click here to join our private online bible study Facebook page and the chatter!

Amanda2

 

Fake Fasting // A Lenten Bible Study

F R E S H S T A R T What if when you walked into church today and instead of hearing pre-service music you heard your pastor shouting at the top of his lungs?

hmm... that's odd. a tidbit alarming even.

What if his shouting was about your specific sins in front of everyone?

That isn't what we expect, is it? But that is exactly what God had the prophet Isaiah do.

Shout it aloud, do not hold back.     Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion     and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. Isaiah 58:1

 

It is Lent, the church season where we remember Jesus' 40 days in the desert when he fasted and was tempted by Satan. In response, some people take this time before Easter to fast or restrain themselves from something that they enjoy. Some don't eat meat, chocolate, caffeine, or a meal at all. Some go without social media or TV. Some go on a buying freeze where they only buy necessities...

 

For day after day they seek me out;     they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right     and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions     and seem eager for God to come near them. Isaiah 58:2

But what is the point of fasting if we aren't replacing that void with Jesus?

 

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‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,     ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves,     and you have not noticed?’ Isaiah 58:3a

 

What if our good intentions to draw near to God through fasting actually led us down a path away from Him? If we pat ourselves on the back for another successful day of avoiding chocolate but hurt another person with our words or actions... we are missing the point.

 

Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please     and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,     and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today     and expect your voice to be heard on high. Isaiah 58:3b-4

 

This is serious stuff. We are no different from the hypocritical Pharisees thinking that our outward appearances and discipline can hide our inner thoughts from God. Fasting is not a thing to show off or compare who is "giving up" more than the other. Lent has nothing to do with what you "give up" but rather what Jesus gave up for the world. John 3:16

 

 

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,     only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed     and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast,     a day acceptable to the Lord? Isaiah 58:5

 

 

During Lent we take a magnifying glass to our sin - or in Isaiah's case a megaphone. Naturally, this can be uncomfortable as we don't even like whispering our sins let alone shouting them. But as we fast, confess, and repent... we do so with Jesus at our side. We are not alone as He was in the desert.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

 

One thing we should not starve ourselves from is His Word. That is where Jesus went when he was hungry.

The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:1-4

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I am grateful that you are joining me during this season of Lent in God's Word.

Click here to print off this weeks bible study!

If you want to be a part of the bible study I highly recommend being a part of the Facebook group where we get to know you more and be mutually encouraged in God's Word throughout the week! The Facebook group is private so any information that you share will be seen only by those allowed in the group.

Click here to join our private online bible study Facebook page and the chatter!

Amanda2