Scanning my social media feeds today I made note of several encouraging and helpful posts that help advance a Christian biblical worldview. These four items prove that God can and does work in all things for the good of those who love Him, having been called according to His purpose.
A social media friend shared her experience of visiting Freedom Inn and seeing the refugees and volunteers at the reconverted motel that brought refugee families together in a way that resembles the Burmese villages that are familiar to the people. As a result, they are able to flourish as an extended family, cooking for one another, watching each others’ kids, and living life together. Volunteers described through tears how their lives were richer with the love they experienced from the refugees, and how much better this arrangement is than what is offered by the inner-city social workers provided by the government. https://christianfreedom.org/the-right-way-to-help-refugees/
The very next post I saw provided a link to a page that reminded everyone, “The voice of God will never contradict the Word of God.” https://sermonquotes.com/sermonquotes/79-the-voice-of-god.html?utm_content=bufferf0328&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer&fbclid=IwAR1kAB-hnmCNisE8I-mHl7x53IniyuJwvHq4zrEyoZe1Oulc9sqvHcOZn5A
Today I also stumbled upon this old post, titled “A few thoughts on the meaning and practice of Lent”.
Duke Kwon shared that in the early centuries of the Church, Lent was a time of preparation for Resurrection Sunday. It was observed as a season of repentance, nourished with the practice of fasting, and designed to increased one’s spiritual hunger for the Cross and Resurrection. This description of Lent is quite different from the way it is commonly practiced today. He than broke things down further:
(1) Lent is season of repentance—not self-denial or austerity per se. Lent is a season of pondering the reason for which Christ died, which is our sin. Put another way: The goal of Lent is not to give up chocolate; the goal of Lent is to give up sin.
(2) This how the spiritual discipline of fasting “works”: the hunger of our body serves as a visceral analogy for the soul’s hunger for Christ, who is the Bread of Life (John 6:35). In principle, then, a fast is the temporary refusal of that which is good—even necessary for life—in exchange for that which is ultimate. The power of saying “no” to food for a time is that you’ll die without it. Do you believe you’ll die spiritually without Jesus? This is what fasting is intended to communicate to our souls. So, abstaining from chocolate isn’t really a spiritual “fast”—it’s a diet. Denying yourself social media isn’t in principle a “fast”—it’s called a good idea. Even breaking a habit of sin isn’t a “fast”—it’s called obedience. Something vital is lost when our “fasting” morphs into abstinence from “bad” things (whether real or imagined) or drifts from the denial of things needed for survival. The oldest Lenten traditions involved fasting from food.
(3) The ultimate goal of Lent isn’t to give up sin; it’s to gain Christ and give praise to Christ. The empty-tomb-centeredness of Lent is critical. Lent is for repentance? Well, we cannot repent truly (or sustainably) apart from the hope of the Resurrection. It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, after all (Rom. 2:4). The point of the Lenten fast is to increase one’s spiritual hunger for the Cross and Resurrection. When you observe Lent, will you be thinking more about what you “gave up” or what Jesus gave up for you? Disconnected from Resurrection Sunday—which is to say, disconnected from Jesus—Lent simply devolves into a religious season of late-winter New Year’s resolutions—which is what it’s become in American pop-spirituality (and, too often, in the Church). It has the appearance of wisdom in promoting asceticism and “severity to the body” but has little or no lasting spiritual value (Col. 2:23). However, it can have great value—perhaps, if practiced as a season of repentance nourished with the practice of fasting with the goal of increasing one’s spiritual hunger for the Cross and Resurrection.
What’s better than God’s Word? Here’s a short but sweet (and powerful) post from a longtime friend:
The Bible says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Here’s a bonus item for today. A friend posted some concerns about Joel Osteen – particularly related to how much money he has. I chimed in with this thought in the comments section:
“In fairness to Joel, he does not take a salary from Lakewood Church. He’s made his millions mostly through being a best selling author. However, he is said to live in an 11 million dollar mansion, which raises lots of eyebrows. As a Christian myself, I’m more concerned with the message he preaches. It falls more into the category of “prosperty gospel” or the “word of faith movement”. When I’ve heard him speak he’s always seemed a little fuzzy about the true gospel. Very gifted speaker and talented encourager. So, he definitely has that going for himself. But he preaches what the Apostle Paul would call “another Gospel”, so he’s a heretic who needs to repent.
Pastor Troy Skinner