Why Lent?–Tuesday Thoughts 25 February 2020

Lent is our reminder that following Jesus isn’t about Sunday Church.

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Today is Fat Tuesday. No, I’m not making fun of someone’s weight. Go to New Orleans today, or go to where Mardi Gras really started, Mobile, Alabama and you will see what I mean. It’s the last day for indulgences before the Season of Lent begins. I guess it’s because I’m making preparations for our Ash Wednesday Service that has prompted this edition of Tuesday Thoughts.

Some folks are not familiar with or even know about Lent. The only Lent they know about is the Lint in their belly button or dryer. Yet Lent (spelled with an e and not an i) is the oldest tradition observed in the Church. Long before the Church recognized and celebrated the Incarnation, they recognized this Season of Lent. For the uninformed, Lent is a period of 40 days beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Morning when followers of Jesus are challenged to give up something–we call that Fasting. But there’s more than 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, right? Well, you don’t count Sundays because Sunday is to be a day of Feasting not Fasting.

There are those who consider this “too much Roman Catholic” for a good Protestant boy or girl. Others think that it is too formal or too high-church for a real believer. Well, I observe Lent and I’m not considered high-church. Good grief, I have a pony tail, beard and ride a loud motorcycle. The third highest compliment I’ve ever been given is that I don’t look like a preacher. What was the second and the highest compliment? I’ll save those for a later post. Back to Lent.

Lent is taking a journey with Jesus as He draws closer and closer to True Purpose for becoming human. His True Purpose was giving up His Eternal Nature and become one of us–the Creator became a creature. And in that act, taking it all the way to The Cross to die for all of us. So, for the next 40 days, starting tomorrow, we are challenged to walk with Jesus in light of His Sacrifice for us. He Gave Up Everything For Me, so why shouldn’t I give up something for Him?

But if I’m going to give up something for Lent, and then pick it back up AFTER Easter, have I really given up something in order “pick up my cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23) ? Not really; I’ve just left it on a shelf so that I can resume it after Easter. So I’ve got to go deeper and find those things I need to give up permanently. And today I will be doing just that–looking through all my “indulgences”, those things that prevents the image of Jesus from being clearly seen in me, and give at least one of them up permanently.

Wait, I just heard someone say, “Lent isn’t Biblical. Where does it say I should remember something that happened so long ago?” It does seem, that with the upheaval in the Southern Baptist Convention, that the Bible Thumping Fundamentalists are coming out of the woodwork. So allow me to set the record straight that God DOES WANT us to Remember. In Exodus, God commanded His people to remember their deliverance each year. It’s called Passover. Each of their other 6 Feasts were observed to remember what God had done for them.

I just heard my skeptic say, “Well, that’s the Old Testament! You won’t find that in the New Testament!” Oh, really grasshopper? How about Luke 22:19–And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” And how about Bro. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26–

23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.

No, God does’t need the Season of Lent; but we sure do! Lent is our reminder that following Jesus isn’t about Sunday Church. It’s about following the example of Jesus to Surrender and give up everything that we like and want in order to fulfill God’s desires for us. I will be reflecting all day about what I need to give up in order for the fullness of Christ to live in me. How about you?

Happy? Really?

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I’m taking a break from this Radical series because I have some issues.  Not the ones those who know me may think I have, but I have a real issue with a phrase that is most inappropriate to me.  And if you want to think, “Well that’s your problem”, go  right ahead, if it makes you feel better about yourself.  I am not changing my feelings right now.  It’s about the phrase “Happy Memorial Day”!

 When I looked up that word on dictionary.com it only adds to my issues about this phrase.  According to the website it means:  “delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing”.  Can you now feel a sense of my righteous indignation?  I mean, businesses have flood the advertising world with big banners over their sale prices, “Happy Memorial Day”!  Happy New Year, Happy Birthday, Happy Mothers Day, Happy Fathers Day, Happy Fourth of July, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Christmas (I won’t say the word ‘holidays) are all appropriate.  Not so with this day, Memorial Day.

Instead of using the word “Happy”, use the definition and it sounds like this:  “Delighted, Pleased, or Glad You Lost A Family Member, Friend Or Fellow Soldier In Combat.”  Someone reading this just thought, “Wait a minute Radical Kingdom Pastor, that’s not what I mean when I say Happy Memorial Day!”  BUT, if words having meanings, and they do, then this is exactly what you are saying.  Because words DO have meaning, this is why I refuse to say, I can’t even write it down any more.  It makes me nauseated.

Part of my nausea from hearing that phrase comes from some of my life experiences.  I am the very proud Father and Father-In-Law of 2 combat veterans.  Each time they were deployed (one time they were both deployed in Iraq at the same time) I lived with the fear that a car would pull up in my driveway and a fine dressed soldier would step out of it and walk to our front door.  I still remember to this day that Saturday morning when my phone rang.  It was my son calling from Iraq and his first words were “Dad, I’m OK.”  I immediately knew something was wrong.  His Humvee had been hit by an IED, but he was OK.  But for many other families, friends, and fellow soldiers, everything was NOT OK.  What was my fear, is now their daily reality.

And if someone who is reading these words has lost a family member, friend or fellow soldier-in-arms, please know that even though I do not know your pain, my heart does ache for you.  And on this MEMORIAL DAY, and every day, I live with gratitude for the freedoms I enjoy because of their sacrifice.  And even more so on this day, I pray for your comfort and for God to continue to give you the strength to get through another day.  You will never get over your loss, but with God’s grace, you will get through those tough moments when you miss them so very much.

I do have a wish, I call it a High Hope, that Democrats and Republicans would take this day to remember that this nation is much more than your egos and personal ideologies.  Remember that your comfort has been made possible only, I said ONLY because of the sacrifices of those we are called to remember this day.  And to all the news media people, YOU are not the protectors of liberty, but are protected by the blood of those who gave it all, and to all who gave some.  News people, just get over yourselves and know your place in all this we call the U.S. of A.

And to all you Churchians, Tenured Pew Sitters and Protectors Of Religion–YOU need to remember that your spiritual freedom also came with a price and that price included blood.  Not just any blood, but the blood of Jesus, who became human just like us.  Remember that for HIM to become one of us, He freely  GAVE UP His divine nature.  And you want to complain about YOUR stuff?  Wanting things YOUR way?  You really want to whine that things are not like they were in 1960 or 1970 when there are so many who need what only the Good News of the Kingdom can deliver?  Shame on you, shame on you, SHAME ON YOU!

This day should remind us that to live a life that is both meaningful and worthwhile we need to live the way these heroes died and the way Jesus died!  Stop being so selfish and petty.  For heaven’s sake get over yourselves.  Today is Memorial Day–remember and live with deeper purpose and gratitude.  I invite to you view this link to a video titled “Signs And Numbers”.  It’s a few years old and the numbers are even larger, but the message remains the same.

Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him.