Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why do we Lent

As we enter into the second week of Lent, it’s starting to get hard. More and more people keep offering you soft drinks, you’re starting to crave sending that one Snapchat even though you gave it up, and you’re not even close to halfway there.

It’s at times like these that we wonder, why do we even Lent? What is the point of giving up something that you enjoy, or taking on something that seems like a chore?

The answer is simple: to better oneself. Okay…so what has that got to do with this 40 days and 40 nights stuff, or Good Friday, or Easter? Why should I better myself in this life, when according to the Bible, I technically am already guaranteed a spot in Heaven?

As I was asked these questions, I struggled to find an answer. Why did I give up procrastination for Lent? Because it’s how I wanted to better myself. But how does giving up procrastination prepare me for the day of Christ’s resurrection?

According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German priest and theologian, an avid believer against the Nazi ideology and died fighting the Nazi power, there are two types of graces in this life. There’s cheap grace, which is accepting that yea, Jesus is pretty awesome and died for OUR salvation, but as long as I truly believe that,  there’s really no reason to return the favor.  On the other side of the coin, just knowing that God loves us so much that he would send his son to be killed and resurrected FOR us isn’t enough; costly grace is returning the favor, and doing everything you can to be as deserving of God’s love and grace as possible.

And that is the answer I found in why I Lent. We reflect on our earthliness, our sinfulness, and our dustliness during Lent, and why? To figure out what steps we need to take in order to become as deserving  as possible of God’s love.

So why did you give up Diet Coke or Snapchat this Lent? Ultimately, doing so will make you a better person and make you less dusty and more holy. For me, getting work done on time and efficiently will make me a better student, which, in turn will make me deserving of good grades. That’s Lent. Reflecting on what it means to be good, so that maybe this dark world may know some of your Godly light and shine brighter. 

by: Mad Brad

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Light the Fire

One question I get asked a lot, especially during youth group, is if I have seen some TV show or if I have seen the newest movie…

Typically, my answer is always the same, “Nope, I don’t TV much, but tell me about it!”

This normally takes a few people by surprise…You don’t watch TV!? 

Well I did not say that, but I don’t watch TV very much.  In all honesty, I have not had cable in almost 3 years and I think Batman: The Dark Knight Rises was the last movie I saw in theaters…that came out in 2012.

Recently I was turned on to one television series by my sister and brother-in-law.  So now I am almost all caught up with The Walking Dead.

If you are not familiar with the show, it is essentially a show that follows the lives a group of people in and around the Atlanta area as they try to survive in a post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies.

If you are wondering how I am going to pull some sort of Biblical message by using this prompt…you need to check out our blog and find out!

So I watched an episode last night and there was a line that really bothered me for some reason.  So, in the show, there is one character who gets separated from the group and ends up living in a hospital.  Let’s call her Beth.

So Beth, is living in this hospital and learning how things operate here but soon realizes that it is not all cupcakes and rainbows in this “sanctuary” from the troubles of the outside world.

In one of the scenes when Beth is asking why no one stands up to the evil or why no one does anything the response she received was, “When they arrested Christ, Peter denied being one of his disciples.  He didn’t have a choice, they would have crucified him too.”

Immediately my thought was… “Uh, Peter WAS crucified.  By the same people….by being nailed to a cross…” 

I also thought….he definitely had a choice… at that time, he CHOSE to deny him…

But why?

While all this was on my mind, I reflected back to that time I was doing Lectio Divina on a beach in Greece.  (Which is just amazing that I can say that as an actual sentence!)

So this happened while I was on Pilgrimage with Holy Communion in 2005.  I still remember to this day the exact Lectio Divina because it was such a powerful moment for me. 

The passage we reflected over was Mark 10: 17-22, The Rich Man.  In this passage, a young man goes up to Jesus and asks what he must do to receive eternal life.  They have a short conversation that ends with Jesus telling the young man that he must give seel all of his possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow him.  The man became sad and was upset because he had many possessions.

I remember sitting there and listening to others talk about how they think they would have handled this conversation with Jesus.  How they think they would have felt being given this response.  And how they felt they would be able to give up all their possessions.

While all this was going on…I sat there in silence. 

To me, I was not afraid of the answer I would have received…

I was not afraid of the giving up of my possessions…

But I was petrified of the thought of walking up to Jesus and asking him this question!

I did not think I would have had the guts.  I did not think my faith was strong enough to even have that conversation.

In a single word…I was afraid.

I went back and look through my journal from this past year’s Pilgrimage we took to Germany.  We again used the same passage, Mark 10, for a Lectio Divina.

I read my response this time and I had a completely different response.  While journaling on this subject, I reflected on the last time I had studied this passage in this way, and thought about my response from then, and compared it to me response this past summer…

“I think I would be able to approach Jesus now.  I think.  I would pray that I am able to.”

The fear is still there…but it is not keeping me from acting like it had before.

I think that is why I was bothered by the quote earlier.

 “When they arrested Christ, Peter denied being one of his disciples.  He didn’t have a choice, they would have crucified him too.”

Peter had a choice.

Peter was afraid and that was why he did not act…at that time.

Sometimes doing the right thing…

Being a Christian…

Living a life that we know we are suppose to…

It is NOT easy…

It can be very scary…

And sometimes our fears get the best of us.

It keeps us from God.

It makes us feel afraid to approach Jesus;  like I felt…

It makes us afraid to admit that we or a disciple of Christ;  like Peter did…

It makes us feel weak…even if our spirit is willing…

But if you feel that way…you are not alone.

But when you put you faith in God, you can do great things.

Have faith in God...

God has faith in you!

 Light the Fire by Bill Maxwell
I stand to praise you, but I fall to my knees.
My Spirit is willing, but my flesh is so weak.

So Light the Fire in my soul.
Fan the flame, make me whole.
Lord you know, just where I’ve been;
So Light the Fire in my heart, again.

I feel your arms around me
As the power of your healing begins.
You breath new life right through me
Like a mighty rushing wind.

I long to love you,
but my hearts so far away
You say you’re near me
Teach my heart to see your face.

So Light the Fire in my soul.
Fan the flame, make me whole.
Lord you know, just where I’ve been;
So Light the Fire in my heart, again.