Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Lenten Challenge

I believe that a part of my purpose in life is to translate the Christian life and experience into small pieces that are easy to understand and put into practice. I work hard at encouraging people to live out the gospel in practical ways. I am not interested in moving people to great spiritual experiences until I am certain that they have conquered the simple experiences.

Many people, often including myself, are mystified by the Christian life. They do not understand the Bible. There is very little memory of any Christian tradition in families. Church buildings and furniture seem odd, or even intimidating to many people. My goal is to break these things down and encourage starting Christian faith at the beginning. There are weeks, months and years to get to the great themes and practices of faith.

Lent is one of those seasons that can easily leave a new Christian, or a potential Christ-follower, feeling on the outside. For that reason, this year I am suggesting some simple practices- disciplines, if you will- that anyone can conquer during these 40 days. We are already one week into the season, so that shortens the time you will have to do any of these (even simpler).
  • Pray at every meal. It is easy to forget. There are times when it is more convenient to not pray. Resist those temptations. Make it a matter of principle and priority that you will pray for the next few weeks. Pray at home. Pray at restaurants. Pray at work. Pray at school. All it takes is a few seconds of silence.
  • Attend every worship service. Go to church every Sunday. Many people find it easy to miss a service now and then. In fact, the most faithful church attenders only make it about four Sundays out of five. Go every week for these six weeks. Additionally, your church will be having extra services. Attend worship on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. There may be a Sunrise service on Easter. Make sure that you make it to all of them.
  • Read the Bible every day. This one is easy. I do not think you have to read the whole Bible during Lent. Just read from the Bible each day. A few verses would be enough for most people. Just do it.
  • Write the Bible. This year I have challenged my church to copy Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). It is just a few verses every day. This will cause you to study the words. They will get into your mind and your heart. You will be able to meditate on what Jesus is saying. You will have time to hear God speaking to you. And you will have a lasting testament to God's faithfulness in the world and to you.

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