Lent can be an exciting season of renewal,
especially if approached through the gospel lens.
Lent officially begins this Ash Wednesday, March 6th, and
ends on Easter, April 21st.
Excluding Sundays, that is 40 days, paralleling the 40 days
Jesus spent in the wilderness before He began His ministry.
This time of drawing nearer to the Lord
in reflection and repentance
can turn the winter of our souls into spring.
Jonathan Edwards felt God built spiritual lessons into all of His creation.
Likewise, Luci Shaw said: “God has given us two great books:
The Bible and creation — and they speak about one another.”
This is my yard as Lent begins.
And my heart could use a good thaw as well.
This is my yard in the spring,
and this is where I anticipate my heart being,
come Resurrection Sunday,
with a Gospel approach to Lent.
Lent has often been distorted, actually opposing a Gospel approach,
made more about self-denial, self-striving, and legalism
than about surrendering to the Gospel-Love of the Savior.
People give up sweets, or coffee, or Facebook,
but neglect Jesus, making Lent
more of a legalistic self-reformation project
than about abiding in Christ.
Even Jesus warned against sweeping a house
clean of demons, but leaving it uninhabited…
an open invite to many more and stronger demons.
In this opening week, I want us to grasp a gospel approach to Lent.
Do you remember how the bride in the Song of Songs
was ashamed of her vineyard in the beginning, asking him not to gaze on her?
But at the close, she is dancing, asking him to come and see her vineyard,
for she knows it is in bloom!
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Though we will not focus on The Song of Songs for Lent, it does help us understand a gospel approach to Lent. If you studied The Song with us, what changed the heart of the Shulammite so that her vineyard was transformed? Can you support your answer scripturally?
Heads Up For An Optional Opportunity for Lent
Tim Keller is doing a live-stream during Lent, each Thursday evening from 7:00 to 8:30 EST, beginning this Thursday. (If Thursdays don’t work for you — those who subscribe can access it at other times through June.) It is 35 dollars for an individual. It consists of an opening by an artist, a 30 minute message from Tim, and a 30 minute Q and A. I am making this optional for us, for it costs 35 dollars, and I’ll ask for input on Fridays from those who watched. The reason I recommend this is because a gospel approach to Lent has at its core believing in the Lord and in His gospel-love. The reason we often disobey and run to false lovers is rooted in our lack of trust of Him. (I believe Keller’s messages, though oriented toward unbelievers, also help solidify our faith. However, you may want to invite unbelievers to watch with you.) If you have been a regularly participating member of this blog in the past, and want to do this, but can’t afford it, just drop a note to me (Dee) at email@example.com and I’ll get a check to you. Read more about this optional opportunity here and sign up if you choose.
Monday: Preparatory Prayer from Scotty Smith For A Gospelicious Lent
Read the following prayer and then answer a few reflective questions.
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. Mark 2:19-20
On Monday and Tuesday we looked at prayers from a contemporary and an ancient saint. If either of those resonated with you, you can use that to form your own prayer. Or you may want to use the opening of Psalm 42.