Out of the Ashes
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by new converts, and then became a time of penance by all Christians. Today, Christians focus on relationship with God, growing as disciples and extending ourselves, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and serve others.
Lent always begins with Ash Wednesday. The ashes symbolize two main things: death and repentance. Ashes are equivalent to dust, and human flesh is composed of dust or clay (see Genesis 2:7). When a human body decomposes, it returns to dust or ash.
When we come forward to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, we are saying that we are sorry for our sins, and that we want to use the season of Lent to correct our faults, purify our hearts, control our desires, and grow in holiness so we will be prepared to celebrate Easter with great joy. This joy is not only for us, but it a joy for all of creation. You might even say - JOY TO THE WORLD!
With this focus on our own mortality and sinfulness, we enter into the Lent season solemnly, while also looking forward in greater anticipation and joy of the message of Easter and Jesus’s ultimate victory over sin and death.
What do you hope will rise out of the ashes? I hope you will cry out to God during the days of Lent. I believe that God wants to do major renovations in our souls. I would love to be in prayer and conversation with you. You are invited to response here to this question.
What do you hope with rise out of the ashes for you during Lent?
In His Grip,
It’s always about Jesus. I pray that as I commit to reading at least one chapter per day in my Chronological Bible I will go deeper and experience more of the Holy Spirit in my life.
That is a great commitment!
I want to pursue inner peace through, with the help of the Holy Spirit, identifying and addressing what triggers my anger. My LifeGroup is currently studying the book, Deep Peace, by Todd Hunter. The very first chapter was on anger and this stood out to me, "Learn to catch yourself - with neutral emotion and genuine spiritual curiosity - in the moment of anger or aggression. Notice what is happening around you. Can you pick up clues to what triggers you? Look inward: Where is the motivation coming from? To whom is your anger directed? Why? What can you learn about yourself, God, and others in this moment?" I'm intentionally asking the Holy Spirit to reveal these things to me whenever I feel anger toward someone.
That is so great!
Our LifeGroup has been focusing on Jennie Allen's, "Get Out of Your Head" study of Philippians. This particular study challenges us to consider what occupies our daily thoughts. What negative emotions, thoughts, worries, fears are consuming our minds? Where do these thoughts stem from and how can we fight/change the the negative patterns of thinking? Through the study of Philippians she shows us the weapons we can use to combat these overwhelming thoughts/emotions that prevent us from fully experiencing the abundant peace and joy Christ offers.
My focus this lent is to fight feelings of shame, anxiety, fear and insecurity. I want to remember (truly BELIEVE) who God says I am and break the negative thought patterns that prevent me from fully living out my purpose in Christ. Like Sheri mentions, I hope I can catch a negative thought before it spirals and pray the Spirit to guide me where I need to be mentally and emotionally.
Praying these negative thoughts would not invade your mind. Praying for freedom from shame, anxiety, fear, and insecurity. Praying the joy of the Lord will be your strength.