Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Some of you are a lot like me, you grew up not having a clue about Lent. In fact, you might not have even ever heard of Lent. Sadly, all to many of us grew up in faith traditions that in an effort to get away from "dead religion", threw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

Traditions can be good and church traditions can also be good if they are observed for the right reasons and in the right spirit. Traditions and their observance do not in and of themselves make us right with God. Accepting and living under the sacrifice of Jesus is what makes us right. Admitting that nothing we can do will earn us a right to be called children of God and that we need Jesus to do it for us is what brings us eternal life.

John 3:16-22 says:

"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. "This is the crisis we're in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won't come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is."

So, if you're still thinking you can make it to God and Heaven on your own merit, I ask you to examine your heart, repent of this wrongness, admit that you need God to give you a life of meaning and worth here and then give you an amazing life in the hear-after, and then become a follower of the precious, all-loving Jesus Christ.

And if already consider yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, I challenge you this Lenten season to examine yourself and use this time to do what is needed to draw closer to the Lord, to become more of what a true follower is supposed to be. Lent, those weeks leading up to Easter, is to be a time of fasting, self-denial, conversion, repentance, simplicity, increased prayer, remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, and Christian growth. It is not just a time to do without but also a time to become more...become more in Christ.

It is a time to say, "Lord, what do I need to set aside to love You and serve you better hence loving and serving others better as well?"

For some people, they will give up all secular music, books, and television so that they can better hear the voice of God during this time. Others will fast from a meal every day and spend that time in praying. Still others will set aside time and money to spend doing acts of love and service to the least and lost in their community on a weekly basis.

However you observe Lent is not the key, the key is that you are doing it out of a true desire to be closer to the Lord, to be as John the Baptist said, less and less of you so that in you can dwell more and more of Christ.

As we observe Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season, I want to challenge myself --- and my reader --- with these characteristics of "lukewarm people" that Frances Chan listed in his book CRAZY LOVE. Read them and ask yourself, as I also ask myself, "how sold out for Jesus am I? Have I truly given my life completely to Him or am I settling for being just a comfortable Christian? Am I passionate or just going through the motions?"

Lukewarm people:

1. attend church fairly regularly
2. give their money to charity and to the long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living.
3. tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict.
4. don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin.
5. are moved by stories of people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act
6. rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends.
7. gauge their morality or “goodness” by comparing themselves to the secular world.
8. say they love Jesus, and that He is a part of their lives...but only a part
9. love God but they do not love Him with all of their heart, soul, and strength
10. love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves.
11. will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give.
12. think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven.
13. are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor.
14. do what is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty.
15. are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control.
16. feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America.
17. do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to.
18. probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever.

So, am I passionate for my Lord or am I like one of the lukewarm churches described in the Revelation?"

Revelation 3:15-17 "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."

But then He offers us hope in the next couple of verses:

Revelation 3:18-20 "I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."

I want the Lord to come and eat with me. I want to have Him with me every step along this life. May He grant me conviction, repentance, and then action this Lenten Season...and in all seasons to come. I don't want a commitment to seek Him earnestly to last only til the Easter service is over.

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