Saturday, February 09, 2013

Join Us Observing Lint - I Mean LENT! Seriously. Lent.

Alene and I have are going to be observing Lint this year.

At least that what Alene and I chuckled about when she brought up the idea a few weeks ago. Imagine staring at the clothes dryer for 40-days.  That would indeed be a huge sacrifice.

Lent is a 40-day period before Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) that is meant to facilitate a focusing and deepening of our dedication to the spiritual disciplines we should be practicing all year long as followers of Christ.

Lent is not just a Catholic experience. Lent is celebrated and practiced by many more Christian denominations than I thought. Episcopalians, Lutherans, many Methodist churches, as well as a growing number of Presbyterian and even Baptist churches observe Lent in some fashion. It is a growing trend among evangelical protestants, as noted by this article.

Lent this year begins on Wednesday, Feb 13th, with what is called Ash Wednesday, and ends on Good Friday, but many observers continue their dedication until Easter Sunday, culminating with the resurrection celebration.

On Ash Wednesday, Catholics and some protestant denominations observe a tradition of having ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross, to commemorate the life of Christ, and the beginning of the period before Easter.

The 40-day observation of Lent is often associated with Jesus' 40-days of fasting in the wilderness, where he spent his time fasting and praying.  Lent is not commanded by God or the Bible, but as an ancient church tradition it seems to have value as a time to do some spiritual 'spring cleaning', if you will.  Its a time to contemplate and examine our lives, and deepen some good habits, such as prayer and Bible study, we may have let slip a little during the rest of the year.

Although Alene and I probably won't get ashes on our foreheads on Wednesday, we will begin a 40-day period of sacrifice which will be marked by more attention to spiritual-disciplines such as prayer and fasting, and more attention to self-discipline for the purpose of examining other areas of our lives (body, soul, and spirit) to help us become more like Christ, to better serve the Kingdom.

Alene and I have agreed to fast from all fast-foods during Lent this year, and contribute what we save to charity (in my case, that could be substantial!). I am going to go an extra step and give up coffee and soft-drinks for Lent, and contribute those savings to Water for Life or Water is Life, or any number of other charities working around the world to provide clean water for the poor.

If I happen to lose a pound or two as a side-effect, I'll call it a win-win.

Lent is not traditionally observed at the church I attend.  I've come to the conclusion that, although Lent and many other 'church traditions' may not necessarily be explicit Biblical commands, many 'church traditions' (often rejected by the Reformed and evangelical church as regulations and rules) originally grew out of a desire to know God better.  Many had a focus on building consistency and better self- and spiritual-discipline in one's life.

I can say for certain that my observation of Lent this year will be a deeper and more meaningful season of dedication to and contemplation about God and my life than I've ever done before. Certainly deeper than what I typically experience during the rest of the year. 

I imagine this will be a good thing. 

I invite you to join with Alene and I in observing Lent in your own way this year.  

Lets 'fast' or give-up something that is a specific sacrifice, how ever small or large, and take the time, money, energy, or thoughts freed up by the sacrifice to deepen our relationship with and knowledge of God.  Let's take the freed up 'space' in our lives, and focus our attention just a bit more on God and others, and not ourselves.  

Let's do a little spiritual 'spring cleaning' in places we all know we could use some.  Let's celebrate the sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, and perhaps gain a little deeper understanding of what it meant when Jesus sacrificed himself "for the joy set before Him".   

When it's over, let's share about what the season meant to us, and what we discovered, if anything, about our walk with God and our love for one another. 

For some more information on Lent see It's a Catholic site, but who better to talk about Lent than Catholics? 

For some ideas on what to observe during Lent, or to join in on a great conversation to come up with some new ideas, see Rachel Held Evan's blog. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Square Circles? Spherical Cubes? Bazinga!

I'm totally geeking out on theology tonight.  God only knows if I'm even close to correct, but these are some of the thoughts going through my mind.

I'm beginning to think the antithesis, the opposite, of God is not evil.  God is love, and we tend to think the antithesis of love is evil.  I would say the antithesis of love is self centeredness, which can certainly lead to evil, unloving actions.

But I'd say the antithesis of God is death.  Yes, God is love, but God is also - and I would argue firstly - life.

Without life, love cannot exist.  In the same way, without life, evil cannot exist. So, since God is love and in Him there is no evil - I would posit that evil did not exist "in the beginning".

God was eternally alive even before He spoke the material universe into existence, right?  When it was just God, the Holy Trinity, dancing in whatever dance of love they danced before God decided to speak and create the universe, there was only the life of God and the love of the Trinity.

But still, life had to be first, or there could be no dance of love.  Without the Trinity existing there could be no dance. Life enables love. God's existence, His life, because He was real and alive, made love possible. Without God, there would be no love, and indeed no creation.

"In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
 He existed in the beginning with God.
 God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone." (John 1:1-4 NLT)

So then God says "Let there be light!", and the material universe came into being in whatever way God saw fit to have it do so. Somewhere along the line, God created all sorts of heavenly creatures that we call angels.  Apparently they were given a free will to love God or love themselves - to be self centered - and many chose to do just that.  They defied God's will, chose to disobey the loving life of the Father, and evil was birthed.

And we call that "evil" being in "opposition" to God, which is it. But I don't think it's really the antithesis of God, because God didn't dispose of or defeat "evil" by destroying it or erasing it from the universe, which God could certainly do.

Instead, he defeated "evil" by doing that which should have been impossible even for God. God went after that which was the antithesis of Himself, in order to redeem all of His creation.

Consider this: In the same way that because God is love He cannot be evil, doesn't it follow that because God is life He cannot die?

Its kind of like the old argument that God cannot create a "square circle", or a "spherical cube" because by definition they are irreconcilable. The very definition of what they are makes their reconciliation into one thing impossible.

God is life, therefore, death should be irreconcilable, even for God, because death is the absence of life - the life of which God IS.  The very definition of God's existence is that God is life. God does not just have life, or just give life, but God IS LIFE.

But I am thinking that perhaps God did make a "square circle" of sorts.

The living God, who is Himself life , should never be able to die, but He did just that.  God entered into our "life" through Jesus, who was the exact representation of God, and indeed was God, and managed to experience "death" on our behalf, through the person of Jesus on the Roman cross.

Through the person of Jesus, God (the Trinity all dancing in harmony and love and relating through the entire experience) experienced death and proved for all to see that The God Of Life is truly exactly that!

By raising Jesus out of the grave to a new and changed life, Life proved itself the King over death. The antithesis of Life -death - was overturned and abolished.  Not defeated, per se, as if it were something with which to do battle, but was done away with, the threat of death made null and void. 

The Life Giver returned to creation the Life that was originally intended to permeate and bind all of creation together.

And by abolishing death, by removing the sting of death and the fear of the grave - The Life Giver also gave us a victory over evil by giving us His promise that He will give us life forever. By His perfect love, the Giver of Life restores life to everyone who believes in the resurrection of Jesus - and therefore believes in the One who accomplished the resurrection (God Almighty).

In John 5:24, perhaps my favorite single verse in the bible, Jesus says,

“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life." (NLT)

Already passed from death to live. Death and life.

If you have life, evil is already defeated for it has no grip on you, because death is evil's grip.

I tweeted earlier, and I believe this to be true:   I don't think "salvation" is so much about "not going to hell" as it is about being redeemed to dance with a God that loves us outrageously.

So here's to making square circles, and citrus apples, and boiling ice cubes, and other such things that are "impossible".

Truly, for God, all things are possible.  Our existence is the very definition of "where there's a will, there's way", and for God there is always a way.


I am not a trained theologian, although I love theology and philosophy.  These are my musings on the nature of God and things that make me say "hmmmmm?"  I thoroughly believe that struggling and questioning and thinking about  and considering and musing over and ruminating through the Word of God is never a bad thing.  It seems to me that all of life is a learning journey, and in order to learn, we must ask questions.