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Posts Tagged ‘Lent’

applause

Day 6 – Giving up Pleasing People

It’s hard to live successfully in this world without needing to please people. If we worked at our jobs but our bosses weren’t pleased with us, we wouldn’t have our jobs for long. But there is a difference between pleasing people in order to live and living in this world to please people.  That latter one is a never-ending, never-fulfilling cycle of frustration and disappointment.

You can’t please everyone…you probably can’t please any one person, all the time. I love my husband and kids but I’m not always able to please them. I try to make decisions to show my family my love for them but I’m pretty sure all my choices do not please them. If I lived just to please them, we would eat pizza, drink pop, play video games all day, sleep until noon, stay up past midnight…wait. That sounds like college. Seriously, I need to make decisions based on what is good for them and for me – not always what they like or what I like but what will help us grow and mature into the people God desires us to be. So sometimes, they aren’t pleased with my decision to serve leafy green vegetables instead of French fries or to insist on apologizing to each other when they’ve been fighting or keeping a commitment even when I don’t feel like it.

When it comes to people outside of my family, I’m not going to allow someone else’s opinion of me to set the tone for my life. If I know I’m living according to the desires of God’s heart, then I’m going to be happy with that, and not work to receive the applause and accolades of others. That’s the goal anyway. Today I’m giving up the notion that I have to make everyone happy with me and embrace the One who I live to please.

Because really, why am I concerned about acceptance from people when I am…

  • The salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13).
  • The light of the world (Matt. 5:14).
  • In Christ and Christ is in me (John 14:20).
  • Loved by Jesus (John 15:9).
  • Protected from the evil one (John 17:15).
  • Among the called of Jesus (Rom. 1:6)
  • No longer a slave to sin (Rom 6:6b)
  • Not under law, but under grace (Rom 6:14).
  • A child of God (Rom 8:16 and 1 John 3:2).
  • An heir of God and fellow heir with Christ (Rom 8:17)
  • Not lacking in any spiritual gift (1 Cor. 1:7).
  • A temple of God in which the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Cor. 3:16).
  • Comforted by God (2 Cor. 1:4).
  • Sealed in Christ (2 Cor. 1:22a)
  • A sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ (2 Cor. 2:14).
  • A new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
  • An ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20).
  • Crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20a)
  • A son of God (Gal. 4:6).
  • Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
  • Holy and blameless in His sight (Eph. 1:4b).
  • Rooted and grounded in Christ’s love (Eph. 3:17).
  • Filled with the fruit of righteousness through Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:11).
  • Taught by God to love others (1 Thess. 4:9).
  • Made holy through Jesus’ own blood (Heb. 13:12).
  • A chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a person for God’s own possession (1 Pet. 2:9).
  • Healed by Jesus’ wounds (1 Pet. 2:24).
  • Forgiven (1 John 1:9).

So if this isn’t good enough for some people, it’s okay. Because I know this is way good with God…the only One who really matters.

“Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions.” (2 Cor. 5:9 – the Message)

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10 – NIV)

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burger

The Lenten season has just begun and I’m blogging about all those things I’m going to give up. By the end of this 40 Day journey, I may be skinnier. Yay.

Day Two – Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

I don’t know about you but I like to be comfortable. When I get home from work I often change right into fleece lounge pants and a sweatshirt. Very attractive, let me tell you. The combination of the fabric and the looseness just makes me feel so good…so comfortable. And when I’m grumpy, or cold, or anxious, or sad, there’s nothing like my mom’s homemade chicken and noodles…or big piece of lasagna…or greasy cheeseburger…or deep dish pizza. Comfort food .

But today I’m going to give up my comfort zone. I’m going to get outside the fleece-lined box I like to crawl into to avoid change or escape the world and its worries. I’ll drink tea instead of coffee. I’ll eat a salad instead of a slice of pizza. I’ll choose prayer over worry. I’ll make a new friend instead of the safety of those I already know. I’ll change up my routine, just because.

Change is a necessary component of life. Probably the only time I’ve chosen to embrace it is when I’m the one controlling it. The Bible is full of accounts when change happens and how we can deal with it. God asks Abram to change locations, many times. Abram didn’t argue, he just went, even when he didn’t know where he was going. I want that attitude. “It’s not about me, Lord. Wherever you send me, I’ll go!”

How about changing a name? God changes Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah. Pharoah changes Joseph’s name to Zaphenath-paneah (just try to find a necklace with that one on it). Usually with these new names, came new promises. My Lord – who knows me by name – calls me blessed, chosen and loved. Good name.

In Gen. 15 God appears to Abram in a vision (how’s that for outside your comfort zone?). God is once again reassuring Abram that he will have a son of his own flesh. I especially like this part in verse 5: God took Abram outside of his tent (where he was warm and comfortable) and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars…if indeed you can count them.” God showed Abram how big His vision was – more offspring than the stars in the sky. Allow God to take you outside your comfortable tent and show you the BIG dream, the BIG vision He has for you. But you’ll never see it from the comfort of your tent. You’ve got to step outside!

Tent-Night-Sky

Maybe God will ask you to move, or change your job, or look up an old friend, or make a new one, or try a different food, or take a missions trip, or pray with the clerk at Wal-Mart. How about this one? God may ask you to stand up for your faith when no one around you is doing so. Are you comfortable with that? Are you going to give up your comfort zone? I’m going to try. And that’s all God asks.

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I’ve never given up anything for Lent. At least, nothing I seriously desired. Like chocolate. Or coffee. Or pizza. Honestly, those things don’t really have much impact on my life. Giving them up for 40 days isn’t really a hardship. Maybe I should consider giving up a few things that are really holding me back from becoming the woman God desires me to be. ..not just for Lent but for a lifetime. For the next 40 days, I’m going to try to highlight one thing most any of us could give up and live a more epic life!

Day One – Let’s bag up our fear of failure and pitch it!

Anyone who truly faces life head on fears failing at the tasks set before us. But failure happens to all of us. I didn’t learn to walk the very first time I tried. I didn’t get an A on every test, in every subject. I didn’t keep every friend I ever had. I’ve messed up as a wife, mom, friend, leader, employee…and any other role I’ve ever had. Face it – failure is inevitable.

Thankfully, God only uses failures like me. The Bible is full of imperfect people. Men and women who have tried and failed and tried again. The very first man and woman, Adam & Eve, failed at one little thing. Don’t eat from that tree. Epic fail. Moses killed an Egyptian, ran away to live in the desert and questioned God a bunch of times. He let his anger get the best of him sometimes (but really, who wouldn’t with that group?). David. Great writer, pretty decent shepherd but husband and father? Not too good. He can put “adulterer and murderer” on his resume and yet God calls him a “friend of God.” Peter – big mouth, no boundaries, denied Christ 3 times. Goes on to headline Day of Pentecost and opens the door for Gentiles to hear about Jesus. Paul – starts out as killer of Christ-followers, but ends as winner of Best Apostle in the Action/Adventure category. The list goes on and on.

I’m a sports nerd so I’ll use it as an illustration. Any baseball player who hits .400 is considered exceptional. But that’s a guy who misses the ball 6 out of 10 times. No one makes every shot they try or every pass they throw. Probably the best basketball player on the planet, Michael Jordan, once said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life…that’s why I succeed.”

So for the first day of Lent, cut yourself some slack. Let go of your fear of failure and instead, learn and grow from those mistakes. No more excuses. Consider yourself like a toddler learning to walk. When you fall down, sit for a second, blink a couple of times, lean forward, put your hands on the ground, stick your bum in the air, and get back up again!

People who fail image

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I like sweets. I don’t think I’m addicted to them but I really, really like them. I have a candy dish on my desk at work which contains a variety of hard candies. I find myself sucking on a butterscotch or cinnamon candy disk a couple of times a day…probably more from habit than need. I also like my friend Ellie’s desserts. Recently she made this awesome Snickers peanut butter brownie cake that was amazing…and I’m pretty sure I ate most of it. So for Lent I’m choosing to give up white sugar (and products) and candy.  I’m not Catholic and I don’t have any affiliation with a denomination which observes fasting as part of their Lenten practices. But I am fasting for the next 40 days. But one day into my fast, I’m feeling a little bit guilty. No – I didn’t cheat. No midnight candy binges. No intense cravings for chocolate. But how much of a sacrifice am I really making? And what is the point?

Fasting for Lent

Traditionally the purpose of Lent is a time of preparation.  Through prayer, penance, repentance, alms giving, atonement and self-denial, a believer prepares himself for the observance of Holy Week and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.

There is really nothing theologically that I disagree with in regards to preparing myself for the greatest day on any Christian’s calendar. Instead of the over-indulgence of the Christmas season, the pre-Easter season of Lent concentrates on self-denial, giving up for 40 days what I may feel is important or essential to my life.

I’ve never really spent much time pondering all the ramifications but this year I felt led to “give up” something. The more I think about this, the more silly I find it. I seriously believe that white sugar and candy are essential?

Honestly, I probably chose as I did because it was very doable and not very tough.  I could have chosen coffee but egads! That would have really hurt. I could have chosen meat (like my Catholic elementary school friends had to) but, you know, I really like meat. And though I enjoy fish and eggs, 40 days is a long time without a hamburger, or spaghetti, or chicken enchiladas.

I’m so thankful Jesus was willing to sacrifice the really tough stuff – HIS LIFE – for me. Makes my choices seem pretty silly in comparison. While I turn my nose up to cupcakes, fudge, cookies and Dove chocolates, Jesus turned himself over to crowds who jeer him, guards who beat him and soldiers/politicians who nail His hands and feet to a cross and kill him. Jesus chose death so that I could choose to fast candy. I’m pathetic.

So one day into my fast I’ve made a decision. I’m going to keep my commitment but I’m also going to spend more time with the other aspects of Lent – the prayer, alms giving, and repentance parts. It’s the very least I can do.

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