JOIN US FOR A LIFECHANGING LENTEN STUDY — EVEN IF YOU HAVE NEVER “DONE” LENT!

When I was a girl and some of my friends came to school with ashes on their foreheads, I was mystified. Even after Christ became the heart of who I am, became my very life, I didn’t observe the season of Lent – that mysterious time between Ash Wednesday and Resurrection Sunday. I wondered if it was empty rituals…


I’m sure it is for some. But I also know that there are Christians throughout Christendom who cherish this time for the way it brings growth and intimacy with Christ. Such are some of you, for I was richly blessed by you last year during Lent. It makes me face this Lent with anticipation.

If you are joining us for the first time, go to my homepage at www.deebrestin.com and click on the How To Get Started. Your first comment will need to be approved, and after that your comments will appear automatically. Go at your own pace, or follow the days as I’ve divided them during the week. For example, after you read this opening, you’ll see icebreaker questions for Sunday and Monday…and then it continues through the week. Read what others write as you feel led, and comment if you like. They will welcome you warmly because this is a wonderful group.

 

Let me tell you why I believe you will be blessed if you commit to this seven week journey, closing with a celebratory Easter week!

 

We’ve said repeatedly that idols cannot be removed, only replaced. Even though our heart idols cause us and others pain, we are hesitant to let them go. We love them, we cling to them, fearful of letting go. So we cling to our idols in the same way that a few stubborn leaves cling tenaciously to the branches through the winter winds and snows.


What will finally expel those leaves? As the weather warms, the sap will rise, pushing them off. In the same way, as we contemplate the greatness of our God, His holy life will rise in us, expelling those tenacious idols.

 

When men and women get a glimpse of the holiness of God — from Moses to Martha — it changes them. This week, for example, we’ll consider what began to change Moses from a man who had taken his life into his own hands and made a royal mess of it to a man who led God’s people out of bondage.

 

He met the God who is A CONSUMING FIRE.


I believe you may see this story in a fresh way that will impact your life, and begin this mysterious and transforming journey — this first week of the holy season of Lent.

In the message we are going to listen to this week, Tim Keller says that “Every inordinate emotion — of anxiety, fear, anger, pride — is all because we are forgetting who God is.”


Our study this Lenten season will be therefore intensely practical, with the power to lessen the grip of idols and grief and usher you into times of sweet intimacy with Jesus.

I’ve watched with wonder has I have seen this truth of seeing God for who He really is transform us. Just last week we saw it in Rebecca’s life.

She met with the leadership at her church to articulate her dream. In the past she would have anxious before and after — but that was gone. She left the meeting with that steady stream of joy from the Lord, instead of being tossed and turned with anxiety.

Ed Welch has written a book that expresses exactly what Rebecca used to experience:

When People are BIG and God is small.

Welch specializes in helping people overcome their fears, and his approach is the approach we are taking during Lent toward fear, grief, sin, and every problem — seeing how big, how good, and how trustworthy our God is.

 

Watch this three minute clip from Ed Welch:

Sunday/Monday   Icebreaker

1. Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you.

2. What comments do you have on the above?

 

Tuesday: Preparing for Lent. Lent officially begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday.

3. Christians around the world will get ashes on their foreheads, with the same words, though in many different languages. What are they and what truth do they speak to our souls? (You may need to research to find out!) Whether or not your church observes this outward sign, you can take it in your heart.

4. Traditionally Christians have “given something up” for Lent — often a fast from food. The purpose is not just “putting off” but “putting on.” If you fast a meal, your are to feed on the Bread of Life. You might opt to spend an extra half hour a day with the Lord. You might opt to exchange light reading or Facebook time for something more edifying. Try a book by Henry Nouwen, C. S. Lewis, Philip Yancy, or A. W. Tozer.

You may want to spend less time on something you know you spend too much time on, and put something more valuable in its place. Pray about what you might do — it doesn’t have to be the same for all seven weeks. (Lent is 40 days plus Sundays, or about seven weeks.) You may want to take a week at a time. What will you do?

Ash Wednesday: We begin Lent! (Wednesday through Friday)

We know outward idolatry is wrong, but it is important, whenever you read God’s commands to His children about outward idolatry, to think of inward idolatry as well. We don’t make graven images anymore, but we do worship things other than God: our children, our comfort, our control… and God wants to be first.

1. In this light read Deuteronomy 4:23-24.

A. What did God command His people not to do and why?

B. How might this relate to you and your “idols of the heart?”

(Anything or anyone that at anytime might be more important to you than God.)

2.  Read the following background verses for Moses and see if you can find evidence for God’s hand on him or for evidence that Moses had messed up his life.

A. Exodus 1:8-17

B. Exodus 2:1-10

C. Exodus 2:11-15

3. For those of you who have journeyed with us through our study of idolatry, what heart idol do you think might have motivated Moses to take things into his own hands and commit a murder?

 


Eugene Pluchart (1848 -- French) God Appears to Moses in Burning Bush. Painting from Saint Isaac's Cathedral, Saint Petersburg

Moses Encounters The Great I AM

4.  Read Exodus 3:1-15

A. Why was this bush unusual and what did God tell Moses? (verses 1-6)

B. CHALLENGE QUESTION: Since our God is a consuming fire, and since Moses had, indeed, an idol of the heart, why was neither the bush nor Moses consumed? (There’s a clue in verse 2! If you can’t figure it out, then Keller’s sermon will tell you.)

 

5. What similarity do you see between the above and Daniel 3:24-25?


6. We will look at this name of I AM more deeply next week, but for now, what significance do you see in the name that God said He is to be remembered by throughout all generations and forever? (Exodus 3:13-15)

LISTEN TO KELLER’S SERMON (THIS IS NOT A FREE SERMON — AND YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY 2.50. SOME SERMONS THIS LENT WILL BE FREE, BUT SOME WILL NOT. YOU MIGHT WANT TO BUY A TEN DOLLAR CERTIFICATE SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO FILL THINGS OUT EACH TIME. BUT RECORD THE NUMBER IN A SAFE PLACE!)

Link to Sermon: Click Here

7. According to the above message, what did you learn about God’s:

A. Brilliant Delays

B. Fiery Reality

C. Sovereignty

D. Nearness

8. How could any of the above help you with whatever you are facing right now?

9. Do you agree or disagree with the above painting that depicts this story by Eugene Pluchart? Explain.

Saturday:

10. What is your take-a-way?

COMMENTS (482) Post a New Comment ↓
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I want to start by thanking everyone for welcoming me back into the fold so warmly and with such care. If I neglected to answer any comment directed to me please accept my apology, you have all been so gracious to me.

1. Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you.
I have not observed Lent in any structured meaningful way previously. I look forward to this combined with Our church’s upcoming sermon series on Counterfeit Gods as a chance for real growth.

2. What comments do you have on the above?
I liked the image of the sap rising in the tree, bringing growth and cleansing.

The image of the fire I immediately recognized as being a part of Disney Worlds Illuminations at Epcot Center, I thought (as I have often) about how so many of the themes at Disney World evoke powerful emotion by pointing to the struggle between good and evil, and the truth of it moves people, just not far enough in most cases.

From the video it stood out to me that he said trusting in God is a skill to be learned & that growth is a slow steady process. I thought of the rings of a tree, sometimes close together showing a year of almost no growth and other larger rings showing years of rapid growth.

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    Chris S, when i saw this picture I also thought of Illuminatons at Epcot!

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Hi Dee! Hi all! I am always drawn back here to your studies, they are always rich and deep. I have never really observed lent, though when I was small, alot of my friends would! I remember because they always ate cheese pizza, and I thought, wow, I wish we celebrated lent!

Listening to Ed Welch’s clip, the thing that I could relate to was that, I too, thought God would work some sort of “magic” on me, making me less sinful and less fearful. What I believe now is that God did initially work some sort of “magic” in me, changing me from within, putting His good spirit within me. I no longer believe in “magic”, but then again, I somewhat believe in “magic”. “Magic”, being the Holy Spirit who lives within me, who works in me, transforming me, as I submit to Him.

I also believe the biggest thing to conquer fear is trust. That too, I believe, comes in ever increasing ways as we learn and see that He can be trusted. Who and what we put our faith in is important.

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    Glad you’re back, Fellowsojourner!

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      Thanks Renee!

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      Yes, glad to have you!

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    Fellowsojourner, I am glad you are back too. That is funny about the cheese pizza. We will have treats too as He visits us. Better than cheese pizza.

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    Welcome Fellowsojourner, looking forward to getting to know you on this blog.

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    So very glad to have you back Fellowsojourner!!!! You are such a blessing and this is a sweet gift to see you here.

    Glad you are back Fellowsojourner! :-)

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looking forward to this!

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    welcome annie!

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    Welcome Annie! Glad to have you.

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    Welcome aboard Annie glad to have you.

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    Annie in Anaheim — that’s easy to remember. So glad to have you join us!

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About 5 years ago I was in a meeting led by a man from a very different denomination than I have ever been in (not sure what it was). While he was praying he came over to me and prayed that I would be delivered from fear. I don’t know if his prayer was spirit led or if I just appeared fearful. I was excited and hopeful, but nothing really happened so I just forgot about it. In the fall of 2010, as I continued in Dee’s study here and began another study also God promised me deliverance from fear. Over the course of that winter and spring, He did deliver me but it was not by instant magic. It was by systematic study of the Word and He used both studies weaving together truths from each.

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    What a wonderful testimony, Anne. Your persistence and the secrets He shows you bless us all.

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1. Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you.

Yes, I love Lent even though my church doesn’t talk about it. I first heard of Lent years ago from Dee and have embraced it. I remember the first time I saw people in a grocery store with ash on their foreheads. My response was silly and immature I thought they were a cult and I hurried to get out of the grocery store whispering a prayer for safety. I was very young!
I see it as an opportunity to draw close to Jesus. This year I am anticipating Lent more than ever. Maybe because I have grown so and feel so completely utterly set free in Christ. I look forward to listening for His quiet voice as He always impresses ideas on my heart as to how I can please Him during the season.

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2. What comments do you have on the above?
I read this and it resonated with me, “What will finally expel those leaves? As the weather warms, the sap will rise, pushing them off. In the same way, as we contemplate the greatness of our God, His holy life will rise in us, expelling those tenacious idols.”

I love the picture of the leaf so much that I saved it on my desktop as a reminder of my journey to loosen my grip on the idol of comfort. I certainly held on stubbornly all winter like that leaf. I love how you put it, “His holy life will rise within us, expelling those tenacious idols…” And I must add “and when it does we will find it impossible to contain our joy!”

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    Love the thought of the leaf on your desktop.

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A few weeks ago I downloaded a book for my Kindle by John Michael Talbot about Christian meditation and contemplation. As a result I have been trying to practice this. Until today I was not sure how it fit for me. Now I know that I will be putting this on for lent this year.

I have observed Lent before. It gave me a sense of closeness to the Lord but never did the kind of ‘business’ that I experienced in the deliverance from fear. I am also excited about this past fall’s promise of joy. My understanding is that it is rooted directly to the preaching of the gospel. I can’t remember when I have actually led anyone to the Lord so this will be a miracle of faith. So this morning as I was meditating scenarios and words came to my mind that seemed ‘natural’ to me. I pray for God given opportunities and words. One thing I know for sure is that meditation is the right thing for me right now.

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    We have been studying the book of John in church and are now in the 15th chapter. As I read this I had a picture in mind of you Anne fearlessly abiding in Christ, and joyfully bearing much fruit for His glory!

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      Oh Chris I pray so!

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1. Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you. Yes for the first time last year.. I grew up Cathoic and we practiced Lent but i never followed through wiht anything then just this last year Nancy Leigh Demoss was going through a book called the imccomprable Christ during the lent season. I followed along with that and i also gave up facebook for 40 days. It was helpful in the fact that i leanred more about the Lord and who he is.

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    I listen to her podcasts too Meg! I went through that study also :)

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      Laura dancer- isn’t she great! I love nancy Leigh Demoss and her study that she did for lent last year was fabulous!

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2. What comments do you have on the above? I like what he said in the video that sometimes we want scripture to work magic But God has a better plan than that. I feel that way alot! But i need to remember that Often God has a better plan.. like if i am asking for peace he might not give it to me right away he might be trying to teach me something etc…

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1. Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you.

Although the Sunday morning sermons and worship styles have been similar in the churches I have attended long term, I’ve been a relatively long-term member of 3 different denominations (dependent on where I lived). I’ve been Lutheran the longest. Most Lutherans acknowledge at least Advent and Lent in the church calendar. So, yes, I’ve observed Lent, but typically not in the sense of giving something up. I’ve attended Lenten Services at church. The benefit of this is preparation for and focus on Easter and events leading up to it. During the past few years, I haven’t attended Lenten services (at least not more than once/year), and Easter just seems to come and go as one more day in the midst of a busy time of the school year.

I think one year a long time ago, I may have given up something food-related — but it was more of a self-destructive, restrictive thing than anything encouraged by the church. One of my most vivid memories of Lent was in college when a friend of mine told her roommate that she had dirt on her forehead. And the roommate got very angry. Although I had heard of people giving up something for Lent (often chocolate), the college dorm was my first exposure to ashes on Ash Wednesday.

2. What comments do you have on the above?

Dee, I’m so glad you’re even mentioning the Lenten season! One of the things that struck me from the discussion above was the book title “When people are BIG and GOD is small.” As I thought about that title and the Lenten season, I think of churches in which it is or was taboo to observe either Advent or Lent — because they are “too Catholic” or “too Lutheran.” (Yet some of those same churches have embraced 40-day adventures right before Easter!). This makes me realize that congregations and denominations (and we as people within them) make GOD small, and other people BIG when we are quick to judge other traditions without knowing much about them. When I was in college, I had a summer job in an unsafe area and had no way of getting to work. One Sunday morning, I started out a few hours early and caught a bus (only me and a few people who were hung-over or stoned on there), and then a subway to go to a large, well-known cathedral. While I didn’t hear much of the Gospel in the sermon, the liturgy was full of it and the building pointed to the majesty of God. And I was refreshed. God doesn’t fit in any denominational box, but how often I try to box Him into my own understanding.

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    Renee — I so appreciate your thoughts about fitting God into a denominational box. Though I love Reformed theology, I have learned much from other denominations, and seen that God has a remnant in every one. I’ve wondered if the prayer of Christ in John 17 for us to be one has to do with loving one another and appreciating that spark, no matter the “box.”

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      I agree totally, Dee! When my oldest was 6 we were looking for a boy scout troop for him to join. The public schools usually have at least one, but they aren’t very well run (at least where we lived). I was at a play date with several other mothers/kids and one lady said we should try her bs troop. I asked where and she told me her church. I agreed to try it out and went to her church. It was a church of Jesus Christ – latterday saints; a Mormon church. Well, I have never been treated so well and been so blessed by the church and troop! The boy scouts are a mission of the church so they do a great job they never once pressured us into joining, they were just beautiful people. It makes me a bit upset when groups are discriminated against because some people in the past weren’t all that “normal.” the latter day sect believes in the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They believe in the Bible. They believe in helping people. I believe God would want me to learn about caring for others through the Mormans we were in th troop with. We ended up staying 5 years. It was a great experience for us.

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Thank you, Dee, for your invitation to draw nearer to Christ during this most holy Lenten season.

Re: your question about whether or not I’ve set apart Lent in previous years; yes, but not with consistency. The years that I did, Easter meant so much and God used it as a time to refine me for His Glory. I’m especially excited to be focusing on new awareness of idols and turning them over to Him.

Bless you for your faithfulness and teaching.

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    Welcome Jane!

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    Welcome Jane, hope you enjoy the blogs.

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    Jane — so very very glad to have you! Thanks for joining us!

Dee, WoW! Great weeks ahead!

1. Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you.

I did here on this blog for the first time when we went through this a year or maybe it was two years ago. I can’t recall if we did lent first or after we did our study on Idolatry, but either way God met me in a big way! During Lent I saw for the first time the depth of God’s love for me. You all know my testimony so I don’t want to repeat it, but I let go and he met me, right here on this blog, and over time as I fell in love with Him, He showed me He indeed was bigger. He set me free and the intimacy is growing.

As Elizabeth said in the last post, it is a process of refinement, and I fail, but I am finding more and more I can turn to Him and say, “I trust in you, O LORD;..You are my God”. PRAISE BE TO HIM, THE STONECUTTER GOD WHO LOVES ME SO MUCH HE DIED TO SET ME FREE. MY REDEEMER, NOT JUST IN SALVATION BUT ALSO RESCUING ME FROM THE POWER OF SIN-Amazing love, how can it be? And go figure-I went from being curled up in a ball on my bed around my pain two years ago, to coming here on this blog, God meeting me here, setting me free-and while He is continuing to refine me, He has set this dream in my heart-my passion is to see this happen in other’s lives-and HE IS PROVIDING OPPORTUNITY AFTER OPPORTUNITY-especially in the Bible studies I have been in. ;-) As Ed Welch said above, it is a pleasure to see others being set free-to see the process of the Lord moving in their life.

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Sunday/Monday Icebreaker
1. Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you.

I did grow up observing Lent, but at the time, the focus seemed on the taking off, usually a favorite type of candy, etc…with anticipation of indulgence on Easter, and the reality of much tempting from siblings. But as I got older, and was in a different denomination, I did think of Lent and missed some of the significance—the real waiting, the true anticipation of what Easter had come to mean. Finally, in the last 7 years, since joining the Presbyterian (PCA) church, I have been able to see some of the traditions that only seemed like rituals as a child, be redeemed. I have come to appreciate liturgy, the confessions, the catechisms, and Lent—in a whole new, deeper way.

2. What comments do you have on the above?

I liked the Ed Welch clip—that fear is an anxiety created by predicting the future, convinced “it will get worse”. I have been there. He said we want Scripture to do magic; we want to be able to read a verse 12 times and be healed. But God’s work in us is a slow, steady growth—and the only antidote for fear, is trust.

I think I posted this last year, but it’s a link to Piper’s Lenten Lights Devotionals for Lent. I thought some of you might be interested:
http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/lenten-lights#First

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    Thanks for that link, Elizabeth!

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    We have done Advent candles in our church for many years, but I had never heard of Lenten candles. Thanks for this link, Elizabeth. Good readings.

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Something else just jumped out at me: “…we’ll consider what began to change Moses from a man who had taken his life into his own hands and made a royal mess of it ….” pun intended ?? Anyway, I got a chuckle out of how true the “royal mess” was!

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    :-)

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I have observed Lent in lots of ways, one year I fasted until 5 and prayed for a friend who had cancer every day, I have given up pop, tv, complaining:) its diffent every year. my mom gives up chocolate every year and it always bothered me and now I see why after reading a post above….its seems more self destructive then growth producing. sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice is worthless, there needs to be a reason for the sacrifice. thats why I LOVE how you re-invent lent for me Dee! its about growing closer to God, not showing off how pious we are:)

I am going to spend from 6:30-7:30 every morning with Jesus for this 40 days. and read through the book 1000 gifts. we are going to be on vacation for 10 days of lent so this time may vary then:) but I am the type of person that needs definite boundries so these are mine for lent:)

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    Good specific plan, Cyndi! And good to know yourself.

    Let us know your treasures from 1000 gifts.

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oops skiped 2!
when we forget how big God is we forget how HIS Spirit is there to empower us! and we ARE really little without HIM! forgetting HIM makes us fearful.

What will finally expel those leaves? As the weather warms, the sap will rise, pushing them off. In the same way, as we contemplate the greatness of our God, His holy life will rise in us, expelling those tenacious idols.

this is what stood out the most.

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Lent is one of my favorite seasons that always draws me closer to our Lord, as I meditate on His passion. When we really understand what Jesus did for us, it really reminds us just how much He loves us. There are so many messages He gives us as we journey with Him during this season that sets an example for us. I am looking forward to participating in this bible study with Dee, as I participated in some of her other studies and grown so much. Thank you for the opportunity to participate. Blessings, Maura

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    Love your initial comment, Maura. So glad to have you with us.

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    Welcome Maura, I was in your beautiful state last fall and enjoyed it immensely.

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I am at my daughter’s helping with the three boys. Everyone in her house is sick with the flu. Hopefully I won’t get sick.

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    Praying Diane.

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    Praying for you Diane that God shields you from any germs as you give your love to your family.

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    Diane–I didn’t get to respond yesterday but have been praying–what a blessing you are to your daughter! Praying for a quick recovery and protection over your own health–keep us posted

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Hi all:

I may spend more time reading and doing this study than in writing and responding. My life is in an extremely stressful season and I don’t have much time to write.

I have observed Lent from time to time. It has been more of a discipline than a time of “feelings” which is what I really wanted. The most special time was one year when I focused on the last week of Jesus life on earth and spent a week reading about each of those last days from Palm Sunday on to the ressurection. The Lord was truly magnified in my sight during that season.

In the short vidoe clip 2 things stood out for me. When Ed described how overcoming fear is learning the skill of trusting God in the good times and the bad. Learning a skill is a process- we start and are brand new, we practice and get better, we fall and fail, then almost imperceptibly the skill becomes second nature. The other thin he said is that once we hear what God is saying to us then we need to begin the process of moving that knowledge down deep into our hearts- I am in grad school and that process in education is called transformational learning. That is the kind of learning I want to have with God!

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    Lucy, welcome. I love your goal and also the way you verbalized it. Transformational learning. You will experience it as you study the word of God.

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      Welcome Lucy!

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    Welcome, Lucy. I like the way you described transformational learning. I’ve been frustrated when some refer to a 5 minute activity in class as transformational — I’ll remember how you defined it. I’m in education, too, but my “student in a university class” days are behind me (for now).

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    Welcome Lucy!

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    Welcome Lucy, I really liked where you said “learning is a process….”. That really made it clearer to see the time it takes to welcome God into our lives. Thanks!

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    Welcome, Lucy. So glad to have you, whether as a reader or a participant. May we all be transformed this Lent.

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Speaking of treats, I had one today. Our offeratory was a solo cello of Be Thou My Vision. It was the most beautiful piece of music I have ever heard live.

2. Rebecca’s victory stands out to me. After understanding the oppression of fear that she has been under, her deliverance is a glorious testimony to the power of God to transform us. It happens when His name is glorified and we see who He really is. My prayer is for just that. Lord, be glorified before each and every woman on this blog. Help us to see how big You are. Transform us into women of true vision.

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I use to observe Lent as a Catholic, however when I became a Baptist, I stopped observing it, and have not really given it the attention I did as a Catholic.
“Every inordinate emotion — of anxiety, fear, anger, pride — is all because we are forgetting who God is.” This quote struck a cord with me because it happens to me often. I get caught up in the “world” and shamefully admit that in my fit of anger, I focus on the sitution, not God. I think it is definitely “when people are big and God is small”. We take our eyes off God and “glance” or “stare” at our problem or people causing the problem instead of focusing on God’s promise.

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    Welcome, Lorraine! Glad to have you.

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Sorry I am jumping a little ahead here.. I dont have answer for tuesdaus questions still praying about it…

A. What did God command His people not to do and why? Do not make for yourselves an idol in any form. Becasue he is a jealous God.

B. How might this relate to you and your “idols of the heart?” Its a good reminder for me that God is jealous so when i am worshipping anything other than him he is Jealous. Oh Lord please help me with this i have so many idols of the heart and they are so easy for me to give into becasue they are “right there” and I cant see you so its so hard for me to do this but nothing is impossible for you. Lord help me to not even want to crave these things anymore and when i do help me to remember that you are a Jealous God.

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My husband grew up Catholic where Lent was practiced. I grew up Methodist, and we also participated in Lent. when we married, we combined our traditions and began to grow in our faith. Today as Christ followers Lent is a very significant part of our church year, almost always participating in some study or practice that is more contemplative in nature. I am looking forward to participating in this study .

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    Welcome, welcome, Carol!

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    We are glad you have joined us, Carol!

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3. Christians around the world will get ashes on their foreheads, with the same words, though in many different languages. What are they and what truth do they speak to our souls?
“For dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19)

I had no idea — had to look it up: http://www.orlutheran.com/html/ash.html

“This is of course what God spoke to Adam and Eve after they eaten of the forbidden fruit and fallen into sin. These words indicated to our first parents the bitterest fruit of their sin, namely death. In the context of the Ash Wednesday imposition of ashes, they remind each penitent of their sinfulness and mortality, and, thus, their need to repent and get right with God before it is too late. The cross reminds each penitent of the good news that through Jesus Christ crucified there is forgiveness for all sins, all guilt, and all punishment.”

The ashes remind us of our sinfulness and the wages of sin, death. The ashes are applied in the shape of a cross — reminding us that because Jesus died for us, we receive forgiveness.

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    Knew I could count on you to research this, Renee!

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I grew up Roman Catholic and giving something up (usually a food) during Lent was part of our family. I have continued either fasting from a food during Lent, or adding something like a bible study, more prayer time, etc. during the Lenten season. I have been a member of three different churches in the last 26 years, the longest has been 22 years in a Presbyterian Church. Our church is progressive and celebrates the Lenten season every year, starting with a church service where one can have a ash cross placed on their forehead! Lent has typically been a meaningful time in our family, with many of us giving up a favorite food, or adding a prayer time to our day. Our couple’s bible study frequently studies a Lenten book to encourage us to focus on Jesus and His sacrifice for us.

I had a serious panic attack as mentioned in the video~~it was during a time of my life of intense prayer and study; nonetheless, I spent 6 hours in the emergency room trying to figure out if I was having a heart attack. What I learned from that intense, expensive day of testing was, God is always there for me, and I needed a strong wake-up to free me from my “idol” of trying to control my children and their decisions.

I need to refocus my thoughts on Jesus, thus, my desire to do this study. Plus, I just heard Dee talk at our Women’s Retreat last weekend and was totally refreshed and encouraged from her wise words to us.

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    Tina — so glad to have you with us. You bring a rich heritage and a refreshing honesty. Welcome!

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    Welcome Tina, glad you enjoyed Dee’s retreat. I am hoping to get to hear her in person this year.

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      Kim, A friend and I are going to Dee’s retreat in Cozad Sept 29th…do you want to ride along with us?

        Joyce, I just now saw this. Yes, I would love that!

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Sunday/Monday   Icebreaker

1. Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you. – I grew up Catholic so we did go and get ashes on ash Wednesday but as a kid I had no real idea of why I was doing it other than because my parents told me I had too. I am no longer a Catholic and have grown more in my understanding of what ash Wednesday is about and it just saddens me to know what Jesus went thru for me, a sinner.

2. What comments do you have on the above? – I think for me when he said that fear and anxiety are predictions of the future, that opened up my eyes to see that I can’t tell what is going to happen to me in the future, no one can, only God knows the plans he has for me. So why am I wasting my time in worrying about something that God already has control of. I need to replace that worry and anxiety with repentance and praying to Jesus. To ask Him to calm my fears and to help me with my struggles. We always think that we can fix it, we don’t need any help, we know how to handle it, but that is so wrong thinking when God is not in the center of it we can’t fix anything. We need to trust Him and let him handle the issues as they come up. He knows what’s best for us, even though it may not be what we want at that time.

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    I pray for your son as he comes to mind, Julie. Would you please thank him for me for his service if it is appropriate?

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      Thanks Kim, I will let him know. We appreciate the prayers.

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Sunday/Monday   Icebreaker

1. Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you.

I have observed the Lenten season. My mom is Catholic and my dad was Methodist. I grew up in the Methodist church mostly and both churches had the ashes. We went to church on ash wednesday and received them. I didn’t really understand as a child why we did it. I also remember people swearing off eating chocolate, or not watching tv, or some other “luxury” so they could (supposedly) reflect on the season and Christ. Most people I knew actually completed the 40 days (a German friend of mine always gave up beer!) unlike the new years resolutions we always make and break. I have not ever really participated in the event myself. I’m not sure why.

2. What comments do you have on the above?

I think it’s interesting that Ed Welch is discussing being fearful (or maybe ironic). A friend of mine was lamenting on how busy she is and can’t seem to fit the time in to listen to a devotional I suggested. I was trying to explain how i am also very busy and need to fit the study in because it keeps me same in my crazy life! She sounded very stressed and even fearful. I suggested she take care of herself by sleeping :), exercising, and studying the Bible first, and have faith that God will be there to help her. I hope I didn’t upset her with my suggestions. I just thought it was funny that I quoted Matthew 6:25 to her and Ed Welch quoted a similar phrase from Isaiah!

 

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    Interesting testimony about your friend.

    Whatever our negative emotion, He really is the One to whom we must go. If we don’t take the time, the negative emotion will rule us.

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Good Morning Sisters!

It’s a joy to see some old friends back and new friends joining us.

I’m in Texas in the prisons so a bit behind, and need to read the end of last week, but wanted to stop in and welcome you.

The hunger in the women in prison is immeasurable. Every eye is on me as I speak, like hungry children. The message of idolatry is penetrating. In the prisons where we’ve had time to also do small groups, I am overwhelmed at how God is moving through this message, breaking through. Such a privilege to be here.

I realize though too how big my comfort idol is. I think I would be in anguish to be in prison — it would certainly be a refining fire for me. Life is so hard. Crowded. Cold, (winter, no heat)Hard cots. Terrible food.
And yet — there is joy in Him.

Eager to travel with you in Lent. We’re off to a good start.

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    Dee, my view of prison life is skewed. Thanks for sharing this. I have had a heart to work in prison ministry for some time so I will begin by praying for these dear women. It makes me very thankful for everything I have esp. a warm bed. Oh Jesus, I pray for these dear women for I know if it weren’t for your grace I could be in their shoes. I thank you for how you are using Dee to speak love into their lives. Help us to pray faithfully for them. I thank you for a warm clean bed and food. If there is something more we can do for these women please show us. I pray for heat and good food but mostly I pray for a revelation of Jesus for each one. Amen.

    So encouraging to hear how God is moving-breaking through and to hear of their joy in Him in the middle of such horrible living conditions. I think I too would be in anguish.

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Because I’ve been in the prisons I was a bit slow to approve some of your comments, but I think I’ve done them all so you may need to look for yourself above if you are new.

2. What comments do you have on the above?

First of all, I love the word picture of the leaf, and the actual picture is wonderful!

I liked Ed Welch a lot! I really thought these statements from Ed were key:

“One of the ways the body of Christ is essential is to continue to orient us to a God who really does hear. I know you are struggling but I know he does hear you.” … “It is an honor to be able to walk with people recognizing that the Lord does speak to us-how can we find together what he says, and once we hear what he says how can we apply that in ways that truly go deeply into our hearts.” …”Sometimes we want Scripture to do magic on us. But God has a better plan than that. It is the slow steady growth and development.”

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God told his people to make no idols, He is a jealous God and demands our hearts. This relates to me in that God is jealous of MY heart and anything I put in front of HIM HE will be jealous of…I cause HIM to burn with jealousy and HE wants to burn up all that comes between us so that HE can have our heart. At first I didnt get the consuming fire thing but then after reading if a few times I think it means that HE wants to get rid of all that stands between us, not burn ME up:) which is what it seemed like at first read:)

Moses is used by God in spite of his failures and weaknesses. I think he was feeling very guilty about living such a great life and watching all his people be slaves. guilt makes us do really weird things some times. I wonder if it made his control idol rear its ugly head, he had had enough and he was going to do something about it. I also wonder if its that passion that made him just the man for the job God had for him….even though after 40 years of tending sheep and raising a family Moses had kinda forgotten it and had to be prodded to act:)

makes me wonder, our biggest strengths are often our biggest weaknesses, how often have i totally abandoned something because I really messed it up…..but the truth is that God could have used it if I would only have given it to HIM and not tried to do it on my own. I just LOVE HOW GOD USES MESSED UP PEOPLE! IN OUR WEAKNESS HE IS STRONG! in fact im pretty sure God likes to use our weaknesses best because then HE gets all the credit:)

parenting can be the best idol burner:) The ONLY way I can be a good parent is ON MY KNEES I have messed up so many times, in so many ways and yet as I beg God to fill in my gaps HE IS so faithful to do that. Nothing has burned away my idols of control and approval like being a mom! I am daily challenged to give up my idol of comfort and to turn to GOD for my strength. My teenagers challenge me every day to see people and not their sins, my little girls challenge me to give more of myself then I have and once more I am drawn to me sweet Saviour who gives strength to the week and comfort to the weary….

When I am tempted to make my children idols I make them into monuments instead….monuments that attest to Gods mercy and grace at using a cracked vessel like me to teach them of HIS love. the 2 littlest monuments our up, I must go give showers:)

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    Only way I can be a good parent is on my knees.

    Yes.

    Or good anything.

    Thanks, cyndi.

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3. Christians around the world will get ashes on their foreheads, with the same words, though in many different languages. What are they and what truth do they speak to our souls? (You may need to research to find out!)

“for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19). I’ve also heard “repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).

These Scriptures remind us who we are, and Who He Is. The truth for my soul is that I am mortal—I will die. And my hope of New Life is found only through repentance and faith.

4….What will you do?

On the Desiring God blog, Noel Piper said this of Lent “it is a time for turning away from anything that has kept us from God and for turning or returning to him. It is a time to pray that God renew our love for Him and our dependence on Him.”

I have been praying and thought I knew but this morning have come up with 7 things! (impatience, fear, criticism, defending myself…and a few more) So I want to release one thing each week. This week, I want to lay down my impatience, especially in the mornings. I had just accepted this as part of motherhood, but I have been convicted lately that “love is patient”. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit—I have been given it, I can claim it.

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    That’s so good Elizabeth..

    Father, I lift up Elizabeth and ask that when she feels impatient that you will help her pause and think about what is more important than You at that moment. May You come to her. May she see a difference.
    May we each take her model to heart. Show us each, O Lord, what discipline you would have for us each week. Thank you for Noel’s words.
    In Jesus Name

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Welcome to all the new names and those who have returned–I am excited for the journey we’re on together!

Dee, I have been praying for your time and will continue. I am humbled by these women in the prisons–they have been stripped of EVERY physical, emotional comfort–and are feasting on HIM! WOW.

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3. Christians around the world will get ashes on their foreheads, with the same words, though in many different languages. What are they and what truth do they speak to our souls? (You may need to research to find out!) Whether or not your church observes this outward sign, you can take it in your heart.

“for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19).

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3. For those of you who have journeyed with us through our study of idolatry, what heart idol do you think might have motivated Moses to take things into his own hands and commit a murder? Control/power?

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I also grew up Catholic. I was taught to give up food or a bad habit. I’m no longer a practicing Catholic. The Lord brought me to my knees back in April of 1981!! And I’m so thankful. I’ve never participated in a Blog but I have followed some of yours, Dee. I’ve also heard you on the Moody Station here in Chicago. How God has blessed & strengthened you!
In regards to my comments for #2: I get the meaning of ‘panic attacks’. I also get ‘clinging to idols’!! I am human!!! Ha!Ha! And I would truly love to give up an emotion or two for lent!! Is that possible??? Probably not, but I am learning to RELACE that idol with God. My idol of fear to truly trusting in God. My idol of self-centeredness to serving my Lord instead. My idol of worry to asking for God’s wisdom. Believe me He’s always nugging me back to Him; I’m ashamed to say I forget who God is….
Which leads to another idol, unforgiveness!! A hugh one for me ladies. I can forgive others, but I struggle with forgiving myself.
So I am sooooo looking forward to ‘lessening my grip on my idols & tightening my grip on the sweet intimacy with Jesus’!! I’m so glad to have you all as my accountability ladies & my encouragers in Christ. Looking forward to the next 7 weeks.

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    Welcome Donna, you’re in the right place among others with the same desire. Glad to have you.

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      Thank you for the warm welcome Kim!!

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    Dear Donna –

    So good to have you with us — love your comments.

    Learned something great in prison this week about the struggle to forgive ourselves from an amazing speaker (His first name is Grove — and he is doing an amazing work in prison. He fought for the man who accidently killed his four-year-old daughter so he wouldn’t go to prison.)

    He said, “Stop struggling to forgive yourself because you cannot. It is not possible. Only God can forgive sins. And He has.”

      Reply

      Good to remember— that we can’t forgive ourselves, only God can forgive sins. AND HE HAS!

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    Welcome Donna and all the new ladies I may have missed welcoming. Donna we are almost neighbors, I live in Valparaiso. Good to have you all!

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      How about that!! Looking forward to this journey together!

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anyone know how joyce and kendra are doing???

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I am new to the blog (though participated a bit in God of all Comfort), but had to join as I saw the topic of Lent.

I did not grow up observing Lent, except in a ritualized way that did not convey meaning to me.

But I’ve personally observed Lent for the past 3 years. I was led into it tenderly and compassionately by an older woman who saw my desire to know God in a deeper way, and so she began to casually share with me from her own heart. She introduced me to the Ignation exercises and she led me gently into walking the 40 days of Lent in a personal way, using a variety of ‘helps’ but mostly just by spending slow, sustained, quiet time throughout the day and night in the Presence. In a way, that was the harder thing for me… slowing myself down and stepping out of my compulsed busy life. Last year, I tried abstaining from a variety of things, and I hope I might talk of that experience as the days unfold here.

I look forward to walking through this bittersweet time with those on this blog. Thank you for offering this, Dee.

Alexandra

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    Good to have you again, Alexandra!

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    Alexandra — I can see you will bring a richness to our journey this Lent. So glad to have you!

    Dee

Hi, I’m new here, too. Thanks for offering these online Bible Studies!

Icebreaker question #1: I did not grow up celebrating Lent. Though I do not come from a Hebraic or Jewish faith, I have found it very meaningful to celebrate a Messianic Passover.

Icebreaker question #2: I have found other books authored by Ed Welch to be helpful. I appreciate what he says in the little video clip here that ‘if our fears were eradicated by the 12th time we quoted a verse then we would not develop a daily, abiding trust in God (paraphrased).’

Cherie

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    Welcome, Cherie! Is there an image inside the teardrop? I can’t quite make it out.

        Very nice. So glad you are here.

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    Though we do not celebrate Lent either, we have celebrated the Passover Seder meal as a family for several years now, first with our kids and now as grandchildren are added. It has been a meaningful and fun tradition for our family.

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    Welcome to you Cherie! So glad you are here.

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    Welcome Cherie!!

Sunday/Monday Icebreaker

1. Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you.

I have never observed Lent. My prayer is that God will use this observance to draw me closer to Him.

I have been considering giving up Facebook, but it is the #1 method of communication for my church. That is why I joined Facebook, and now it’s what keeps me from getting off of it. I don’t play the games or spend a lot of time there, but I think I’ve lost more friends there than I’ve gained. I am going to give up Facebook for Lent.

2. What comments do you have on the above?

This video was very insightful. I definitely have some fears I need to let go of.

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    Lori, love the picture. Welcome!

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    Hi Lori — welcome. Tell us about the picture? You? Your daughter?

      Sorry, I’m still trying to figure this all out.

      The picture is of me when I was about 2. It’s one of my favorite pictures.

        Lori, welcome what a cute little girlie you were! Don’t worry too much about figuring it out, just begin day by day answering the study questions.
        Sometimes that might be all time allows, sometimes you may have time to read everyones posts and even to resond to them.

        There is no perfect way to do it, just dive in!

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Have you ever observed the season of Lent? If so, share how it has been helpful — or not — to you.

Yes. As a young girl in grade school I was Catholic and that is where I first learned of Lent. Easter and Spring have always been my favorite time of year.
I like to starting off the year reminded of the importance of Christ and the Cross, through this act of Lent. I remember having the Ash on my forhead and giving up candy.

I am looking foward to this Lent this year because now I am sharing it with a group of like minded Christians who want to draw closer to the Lord as much as I.

The video was insightful, it hit home with me. I have been having these “episodes” where i can not seem to make definate decisions on anything simple to where I am going to spend the few days I have off to write.

First I am going to Mississippi, then Lousisana,then Cape Girardeau. I have hotel cancellations in each state and I think one hotel in Natchez is convinced I’m nuts! Because I called to confirm a cancellation…:(

At church yesterday I prayed for deliverance from my double-mindedness, a life long behavior defect.
Once again these lessons are spot on in my life!

BTW: I made my mind up to stay in a nice Lodge on the Mississippi in Southern Illinois ( got a great rate!)

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    The lessons are spot on for me as well. I sometimes wonder if Dee is reading my journal. :)

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3. Christians around the world will get ashes on their foreheads, with the same words, though in many different languages. What are they and what truth do they speak to our souls? (You may need to research to find out!) Whether or not your church observes this outward sign, you can take it in your heart.

“You have come from dust, and to dust you will return.”

I thought some of you might also find some of what I found interesting,

Excerpts from a Christian History Article I found through Christianity Today’s site
“origins of our modern Lenten practices go back to the earliest days of the church, when potential converts first underwent a fast of 40 hours before their baptisms at the Easter Vigil—soon extended to a period of prayer, fasting, and contemplation lasting 40 days. (Biblical models for this included Noah’s time on the Ark and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, as well as Israel’s wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.)

(The first mention of Ash Wednesday by name is in a seventh-century service book, the Gelasian Sacramentary.) Those who had fallen into what the early church considered serious sin—everything from committing adultery to serving in the military to performing magic and occult practices—after confessing that sin were enrolled in an “order of penitents” until they had made restitution. In many ways, they were treated similarly to converts preparing for baptism, as they sat separately from the rest of the congregation, sometimes dressed in special clothing, and did not participate in the celebration of the Eucharist. Also, they wore ashes on their heads
During the Protestant Reformation, the practice of Ash Wednesday soon died out in Reformed churches, which suppressed the church year in general due to a desire not to see one day as holier than another and a concern that people commonly marked feast days with too much feasting and associated frivolities. (Even Easter and Christmas were seen as problematic for these reasons.)”

From a Lutheran Churches website;

Ash Wednesday, like the season of Lent, is never mentioned in Scripture and is not commanded by God. Christians are free to either observe or not observe it. It also should be obvious that the imposition of ashes, like similar external practices, are meaningless, even hypocritical, unless there is a corresponding inner repentance and change of behavior. This is made clear in Isaiah 58:5-7 when God says,

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes ? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

I liked this article best of all, there is more to it if you care to read the whole thing here is the site;

http://blog.beliefnet.com/markdroberts/pages/series/ash-wednesday-practice-and-meaning.html/

“What I value most about Ash Wednesday worship services is the chance for us
all to openly acknowledge our frailty and sinfulness. In a world that
often expects us to be perfect, on Ash Wednesday we freely confess our
imperfections. We can let down our pretenses and be truly honest with
each other about who we are. We all bear the mark of sin, from the
youngest babies to the oldest seniors. We all stand guilty before a holy
God. We all are mortal and will someday experience bodily death. Thus
we all need a Savior.”

“Ash Wednesday is a day when we stare death in the face.
Christians who observe this holiday get ashes “imposed” on their
foreheads, while a minister or lay church worker says, “You have come
from dust, and to dust you will return.” In other words, “You are going
to die. And here are some ashes to remind you, just in case you’ve
forgotten.”
For sixteen years of Ash Wednesday services at Irvine
Presyyterian Church, I put ashes on the heads of older adults, some of
whom had serious cancer and didn’t live much longer. I also put tiny
black crosses made of ash on the foreheads of babies far too young to
realize what was happening to them. I imposed ashes on teenagers and
senior citizens, on men and women, on boys and girls. All of these I
reminded of their mortality, and they freely received the reminder. “You
are dust,” I said, implying, “You are going to die.”

What gives us such freedom to think about death? Are we Christians morose?
Do we have some peculiar fascination with dying? I don’t think so.
Rather, what allows us to stare death in the face is the assurance of
life, real life, eternal life. When we know our lives are safe in the
hands of God, and that this physical life is just the beginning of
eternity, then we’re free to be honest about what lies ahead for us. We
can face death without fear or pretending, because we know the One who
defeated death.”

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    Thanks for this information, Chris S. This is helpful for those of us with no church background concerning Lent.

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    Thanks so much, Chris. So much richness.

    Like the line about “What I like about Ash Wednesday services is a chance to freely acknowledge our brokenness and frailty.”

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Hi Dee & everyone I’d like to join this blog if I may..I hope I can keep up:)
Have you ever observed the season of Lent?
No I haven’t, always thought it a Catholic Tradition. I think it would be good to focus on the Lord in these next 40 days to allow the Easter time to have more impact upon my heart instead of Easter arriving without really being thoughtful as I’d like, especially when it is obviously such an important time in the Christian calender as well as for the Christian heart.
What comments do you have on the above?
Holiness of God comes to mind..I read the passage on Moses & the burning bush a couple of weeks ago & it made me realise how little I have meditated upon God’s holiness seen through His word. Also Idols of my heart..always seem to be hiding behind them(idols) hoping God won’t find me yet hoping He will because I do need to see Him. The ways of this human heart.
ps Fellowsojourner I remember you :) blessings. Thank you Dee

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    Elizabeth in Oz — love you already. “Hoping God won’t find me yet hoping He will”

    Elizabeth in Oz- ;-) Loved what you said here-”hoping God won’t find me, yet hoping He will because I do need to see Him.”- I have always loved the name Elizabeth, but with you and our other Elizabeth, I am growing more fond of it! :-)

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I just want to begin this week by saying a big welcome to all the new ladies who have joined the blog for the Lenten season. I can tell we are in for a great time. I have already enjoyed reading all the experiences of everyone about Lent.

I have never celebrated Lent but Easter (and Good Friday) have long been my favorite Christian celebration. I come from a Canadian Baptist tradition where Lent has traditionally never been even mentioned, but I have had enough exposure to other traditions that I am really curious and eager to learn. I am looking forward to a new period of closeness to our Lord through our time in this Lenten study together.

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Hi everyone! I missed you all and I see I have alot of catching up to do reading all the posts. Welcome to all the new gals! Missed you Fellowsojourner!
Kendra is home from the hospital tonight and resting up. It will be a week, wed that she broke her ankle so bad. Thank you for all the prayer’s! We can still use your prayer’s as it will be a very long 2 months taking care of her, with not putting pressure on the cast:( Love to all

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    Welcome back. Thanks so much for the update on Kendra. You all will continue to be in my prayers. Hope you get rested up too. Take care of yourself.

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    Hi Joyce, I’m so sad for Kendra….she was just trying to have fun (or so it seems)! I will continue to pray. Take care :)

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    Father, we lift up Joyce and Maury as they care for Kendra — protect them all physically, o Lord, and be with Kendra too.

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3. Christians around the world will get ashes on their foreheads, with the same words, though in many different languages. What are they and what truth do they speak to our souls? (You may need to research to find out!) Whether or not your church observes this outward sign, you can take it in your heart.

The pastor will say something like ” remember you are dust and to dust you will return.”

I’m not sure how they speak truth to our souls; maybe to remind us we are small in the scope of things? We came from earth when God breathed life into us, and we will return to the earth when we expire. In the research I did, they spoke of humility and sacrifice for those who wear them. It is a time for atonement.

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Welcome, welcome to all the new and welcome back to our dear familiar sisters.
Tomorrow is the official beginning — so think about how you will indeed observe “putting off and putting on” this week.

Those of you who know me know God has revealed to me my habit of manipulating people with side-ways comments — since His light has shone into the darkness of my soul, I am not saying those comments (usually) but they still come to mind. When they do, I want to put them off and say something true, loving, and kind. That’s my goal for this week. I also plan to not eat after supper and read a classic.

I am done with prison and headed back to Kansas City today. Amazing time. The incarcerated women who are believers amaze me. They are like rich black soil when I drop God’s Word in. The small group times are as rich as any I’ve seen because of their hunger.

I was also richly blessed by the other speakers and dancers. I told our new friend Donna a highlight for me, that I’d like to share with you:

Learned something great in prison this week about the struggle to forgive ourselves from an amazing speaker (His first name is Grove — and he is doing an amazing work bringing change to prisons. His prayer partner, a black man, accidentally ran over and killed Grove’s four year old daughter. Grove forgave him and fought to keep that man out of prison.

He said, “Stop struggling to forgive yourself because you cannot. It is not possible. Only God can forgive sins. And He has.” Isn’t that so true?
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    Dee, I think your goal for this week is helping me to start to see some things that I need to put off and replace by putting on.

    Wow, glad to hear how rich that time was in the prison for the women, and you! Also loved what you heard from Grove-how true that is! Reminds me of applying the Gospel to guilt- how God desires for us to rest in His forgiveness.

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    I hope we can be such soil too Dee.

    Were you afraid when you began prison ministry?

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    Welcome home Dee and so glad we are doing this study and that the prison ministry went well last week. So good to know the women are hungry for Jesus and you are obedient to teach them.

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    Wow Dee I got goose bumps when I read your last sentence. “Stop struggling to forgive yourself because you cannot…..” My friend was over today (I help her with knitting & she’s helping me with crocheting!) & I brought up how I struggle with forgiving myself & she said these exact words!!! Wow, what a confirmation from the dear Lord!!!
    We had a wonderful prayer time before she left & now I come on-line & read these words. I cannot WAIT to see how God works in all our lives!!

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I have a question.. I always thought lent was a catholic thing as well and I am baptist and we never even talk about lent. So why do we celebrate it?

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    Hi Meg –

    Catholics observe it, but so do many other denominations. Both Renee and Chris above gave some wonderful information about it. Like Christmas, it can be abused and misused, or a holy wonderful time to draw us closer to our crucified and risen Lord. It is a time for looking within to our sin and then to Him for rescue, a time of cleansing and transformation.

3.

After reading up more about Ash Wednesday, I want to go somewhere and observe it. Part of the symbolic nature of having ashes put on the forehead is that it represents ‘ownership’ He owns me. LOVE THAT. Also that it symbolizes repentance and turning -putting off and putting on-so while abstaining from something you are putting on.

Genesis 3:19 is the only verse I found: “…for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
(I couldn’t find anything else, but there could be another verse.)

The fact that he owns me screams of how big he is and how small I am. When my soul gazes on Him the reality of who I am and who He is humbles me and brings me to repentance-how I need to be reminded of this-how I need the Holy Spirit to remind me! I think the verse in Genesis speaks loudly of this.

4. I am reminded of Dee in the prison and her testimony of what they give up-the basic comfort necessities. Could I? I am not sure if I would crumble too! I decided to give up Coffee for a week. That just seems so petty though in comparison to some deeper things I might not see that I should give up. I need to think some more on this and and come back to it.

    So now God has identified an area of much needed repentance and transformation. God has been searing my darkness in this area with His light-but He has been ever so slow and gentle with me. My sin issue is impatience and a critical spirit toward some of my husband’s habits and behaviors-ouch. Although I don’t say to him what I think unless it is helpful because I don’t want to crush his spirit-I do think things though and when I do, the Holy Spirit says-Love him, just love him like Christ loves you. SO, my plan is to put off these thoughts and replace them with scripture and or a good edifying book. I will start with this week, and perhaps read Keller’s book on marriage? I was also thinking of Leslie Vernick. I love her f.b. blog posts.

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      Rebecca–thank you for sharing so honestly. I struggle with this one too! Although unfortunately I DO sometimes say them out loud and can be a nag at times–so I am humbled by your example ;) I will pray for you to continue to guard your words and to build him up with Christ like love

        elizabeth, thanks so much for praying for me. I do have a hard time seeing you as a nag though! ;-) Maybe you and I can kind of spur one another on in this area of impatience with our kids and spouse-to earnestly pray for one another and to see what is more important than Jesus at that time-and to set our soul’s gaze upon Him. Love you sister!

      Reply

      I have struggled with dwelling on my husband’s flaws or the ways he irritates me way too much in my head.

      Matthew 6 22 & 23 had puzzled me until I read them in the Message

      Here they are from the ESV
      Matthew 6:22 & 23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,
      but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

      And here from The Message

      “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.
      If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

      These verses hit me after reading them in the Message like a ton of bricks.

      Bill is a volunteer firefighter, I resented the pager and radio going off sometimes in the middle of the night sometimes during dinner or a conversation. I resented being awaked again as he came to bed after being out on a call .
      I realized my resentments and the irritations’ I fed and watered and grew in my mind and heart were examples of the Matthew 6:23 squinty eyed greed! I decided to replace those thoughts with gratitude that I had a good (albeit flawed) husband, something so many women desire to have, and be grateful he had come safely home.

      This really helped me to love and appreciate my husband.

        Wow! That’s an amazing verse. It really convicts me. May our eyes be healthy with wonder and trust in God so that our whole bodies will be full of light.

        Chris S–I am at work and have to be quick, but had to respond when I saw this! WOW. I am thinking how if my eye is healthy–if I am seeing my husband and those around me through the eyes of Christ, as His loved creation–then my “whole body will be full of light”, I can offer my children, husband, others… patience and grace. But if my eye is bad–if my vision is skewed because I am looking at my idols, my wants, instead of looking at Him–then my whole body is “full of darkness”–and everything that comes out of it is dark, critical, icky. So it all begins with my eyes–am I looking at HIM, or my Self…thank you for sharing this, it is transforming.

        Oh my, did I need to see that, thanks Chris. I find my self grumbling because he leaves things left out in the spot that I think they should not be in. When what I should be doing is thanking God for him, for how hard he works in the heat and cold at the steel mill while I’m at a desk inside, how he supports are family and truly loves me and the Lord is what I need to putting in my heart.

        Chris S. this verse is ‘Fantastic’. It will definitely be one I memorize during this Lent season. Thank you for sharing this with us. It was a definite WOW moment for me too!!

        Thanks ladies, I am glad to know this verse convicted & blessed you too.
        I like to think of my husband as a good gift God gave to me. He is not perfect, but he is perfect for me.

        I don’t suppose I would really like it if he were perfect, my flaws would be so glaring if he were!

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4.
You may want to take a week at a time. What will you do?

We went to a grief counseling appointment yesterday. I felt a lot of anger during the appointment and afterward, sort of nebulous anger not directed at someone, I just knew I felt anger.

Bill and I drove separately as I had picked him up at work. As I drove home alone I had a dark time, I wanted to escape thinking and feeling and could only think of drinking alcoholic beverages till I passed out I told myself No about that, then my mind fled to okay then chocolate chip cookies. I asked God to take it all, the pain and the guilt and all of it and do what He will with it. I cried a lot yesterday evening, but didn’t drink anything and ate a small dinner. Doing the research on Lent helped me though the evening, perhaps especially the thoughts about mortality.

The tidbit you brought for us Dee about forgiving ourselves reminded me of something from Brother Lawrence’s ‘Practicing the Presence of God’ when he said something like when he sinned he was not surprised by it, as he was a fallen fallible human and didn’t endlessly berate himself. His practice was to confess it quickly and get back in to fellowship and the presence of God as quickly as possible. I have given the book away and I wished I had it still so that I could properly quote it. It is a rich little book.

I will this week spend less time on facebook, less, not none at all, as this is how I communicate with my away from home children, especially now Mike in Afghanistan, and instead I intend to read Ravi Zacharias book ‘Cries of the Heart”. I also will forego bringing any wine into the house.

Welcome to all the new ladies!

    Reply

    Your sharing is raw and honest — so real.

    Yes — I think the recognition of our mortality is so helpful — like the verse from Ecclesiastes about being better to go into the house of mourning than the house of feasting for death is the destiny of every man and the living should take it to heart…

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    Yes Chris, I appreciate your honesty here. You have so much on you. I understand your desire for escape. I pray that you will find refuge in the Lord.

      Reply

      Thank you Dee and Anne, very much.

      I did wonder if I should be so honest.

      The song Rescue has been mine lately, the line that says I can’t be left behind speaks to me in that He won’t leave me, but also that I don’t want to be left behind.

        This is a beautiful song, Chris S. Thanks so much for sharing it. It really touches my heart. And thanks so much for your honesty in sharing your struggles. Jesus loves you so much.

        thank you Diane!

        Beautiful – thanks for sharing the song!

    Reply

    Your honesty touched my heart Chris.
    I will be praying special prayers just for you this week.
    God loves you.

      Reply

      Thank you Donna

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