Living in Faith, Scripture verses

Ash Wednesday: Sacrifices and social media

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the day that begins the season of Lent leading to Easter. It’s a holy day that wasn’t commanded in the Bible, but Christians have observed it for well over ten centuries.

Early Christians would sometimes have ashes sprinkled on their bodies as a public symbol that they needed to repent from sin. According to historians, all Christians began to show their need for repentance by having ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross.

We do the same during Ash Wednesday services today as a reminder that we’re all sinful and stand guilty before God. No matter how good we try to be, no matter how often we go to church or help others or pray, we still can’t save ourselves from our sin.

That’s why God sent Jesus – to be our Savior.

Lent is a time for us to think about this, to acknowledge anew that we’re sinful and mortal. Jesus saved us from certain death and separation from God because of our sin, but it wasn’t without a cost.

He took our place and accepted the punishment for all our sins even though He had none Himself. He knew what was coming – including being shunned, tortured, crucified, and separated from God – and He did it for us anyway.

We’re encouraged to use the weeks of Lent to remind ourselves of what God gave to us in Jesus and what Jesus gave to us in Himself. That can take different forms, depending on who we are and where we are in our faith at that point.

Some people will give up something as a tangible sacrifice to God. Whether it’s fasting, breaking a habit like smoking, or giving up chocolate, the idea is that we’re giving up something we enjoy as a way of showing our commitment to God and our desire to put Him first.

Other people will add something to their life during Lent that is designed to help them grow spiritually. We might commit to having more prayer time, to read through at least one of the Gospels in smaller chunks so we can really meditate on it, or volunteer in the community.

I’ve taken both approaches, depending on the year. And while giving up Diet Coke wasn’t nearly as serious as what some people do, it was a pretty big deal for a college girl who popped the tab on at least four cans of it a day.

The point is that we’re finding a way to mark this season, to think about what Jesus went through in the days and weeks leading to His crucifixion. To think about the gift He was willing to give us, despite what it cost Him during His time here on earth. To thank Him for that gift even though we’re so unworthy of it.

This year I’ll be doing a couple of things, one of which will be posting a Bible verse on social media each day that relates to this season of waiting and preparation. If we haven’t already connected there, I hope you’ll find me wherever you like to hang out and follow along (Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook).

Your turn: I also hope you’ll consider finding a way to observe Lent for yourself and strengthen your relationship with God. If you do, I’d love to know what you choose. Leave a comment and let’s start a conversation.

Monday Musings, Uncategorized

Monday Musings: Knowing God More

Casting Crowns is one of my favorite Christian bands, and has been since their first CD released a few years ago. Their lyrics are so powerful and their messages hit so close to home that nearly every song on every CD is a favorite.

The same is true of their newest release, Until the Whole World Hears, which I got for Christmas. Can you wear holes in CDs if you listen to them too much? Seems like that’s what I’m on my way to doing with this one. 🙂 I loved the title track before getting the CD, but one of my absolute favorites is To Know You. It talks about how the more we know Christ, the more we want to share Him with others — partly because they need to know about Him so desperately, but partly because we can’t stop ourselves.

Here’s the chorus:

More than my next breath – More than life or death – All I’m reaching for, I live my life to know You more – I leave it all behind, You’re all that satisfies – To know You is to want to know You more – To know You is to want to know You more.

Wow. As I’m belting this out in the car (by myself or with the kids — don’t you just love to hear kids sing their hearts out to God?), I have to ask myself how true these words are for myself. Do I have a desire to know God more every day? Do I know Him and love Him so much that I can hardly wait to share him with others? Am I really finding my satisfaction in God and God alone?  

Pretty heavy stuff to contemplate anytime, but especially with Ash Wednesday and Lent starting this week. Many people give something up during those 40 days — they make some kind of sacrifice — to experience a miniature version of what Christ sacrificed for us. Other people take the opposite approach and add something to their lives during those 40 days to improve their relationship with God. Maybe they decide to memorize Scripture or have more regular prayer time or start a new Bible study. I think both approaches are important and have their merits. I haven’t decided yet what I want to ‘give up,’ but I do know what I want to ‘gain’ — a deeper relationship with God. Not just for today or tomorrow or the 40 days of Lent, but for always.

To know Him is to want to know Him more. I want that to be the anthem of my life.

What about you?