Ash Wednesday is just around the corner, on February 10th this year.
Christians who observe Lent in preparation for Easter take on disciplines in order to become better, well, disciples. When the joyful celebration of the Resurrection comes, we want to more perfectly walk in newness of life with the one who died and rose for us.
But Lenten disciplines sometimes emerge from a process resembling last minute Christmas shopping. “Oh no, tomorrow’s Ash Wednesday and I didn’t come up with a discipline for Lent. I think I’ll just _______________.”
I’m posting this now, with ten days to spare, as a friendly reminder and encouragement to pray and give thought to your Lenten discipline(s). I am considering three:
- Say or do something uncomfortable each day. I’ve known for a long time that I’m a people pleaser. So I want to say or do things that I know to be right and true in God’s eyes, even if I fear that this will make people think less of me. I’ve asked my wife to hold me accountable at the end of each day by asking me about what scary thing I said or did. I want to find myself walking more confidently and automatically as a disciple of Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit rather than emotion, accepting the discomforts of this old life so as to follow Christ into the joys of the new one.
Guiding Scripture: I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death… Philippians 3:10 NLT
2. Fill my head with thoughts that refute Satan’s accusations. Small wonder I’m a people pleaser. My head is full of perfectionist thoughts, which allow Satan (which means the Accuser) to have at me 24/7. I’m constantly thinking about how I have to be good enough and do stuff just right so I’m not a Very Bad Person. That is clearly Satan shouting over the reasonable voice of conscience to say, “You must save yourself!” Which is exactly the kind of religion that one who acknowledges Christ as Savior must reject. So I will be seeking Bible verses to recollect when I need to refute the Accuser, mainly passages celebrating justification, redemption and salvation by the grace of God in Christ Jesus. I need to protect my brain and let the Holy Spirit wield my thoughts.
Guiding Scripture: And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God… Ephesians 6:17 KJV
3. Reading for an hour each day. I’ve let myself become too much the internet surfer and skimmer. I have a stack of books I’ve been meaning to read, several of them gifts from people I know to be godly and wise. Some days it might have to be smaller chunks of time that add up to an hour, but the time for reading and opening up to fresh insight is certainly there if I’m disciplined.
Guiding Scripture: Blessed is the one who listens to me (Wisdom), watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. (Proverbs 8:34 ESV)
How about you? Any ideas? Please share them in a comment as a possible encouragement to others.
And if you are new to this, Western Christians (pretty much all who don’t identify as Orthodox with a big O) keep their disciplines Monday thru Saturday for 40 days; Sundays are a Feast of the risen Christ and you get to take a break and celebrate.