Thursday, February 26, 2015

Just come...

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matt. 11-:28-30

What is your understanding of grace?  Among John Wesley views of prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace, Wesley understood grace as God's active presence in our lives.  What a liberating thought of God's reconciling and fulfilling grace!  In the 11th chapter of Matthew's account of the Good News, Jesus makes the statement, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  In other words, "...just come to me as you are."  

As we move through the Lenten Journey, it's easy to beat ourselves up over our sins as we seek personal holiness in view of our Creator, but God's grace says, "come as you are."  We could spend our whole lives seeking perfection, but that's not what grace is about.   Our God is not a God of yesterdays, keeping a ledger of each act of sin.  If we truly believe in God's justifying and sanctifying grace, then these shortcomings become a "non-issue," and irrelevant.  Our worship team, Revelation has presented in worship a song by the band, Mercy Me titled, "Greater."  In the middle section of the tune, we have this statement, "There'll be days I lose the battle but grace says that it doesn't matter, because the cross has already won the war!"    While we, as disciples of Christ, do seek to live a "christ-like life" out of our love, devotion, and obedience to our Redeemer, it is never about gaining merit or favor with God.  Grace tells us that there is nothing we can ever do to cause God to love us any less, and there is nothing we can ever do that will make God love us any more!   If we are constantly working to achieve perfection in Christ before coming to him, we will never make it.  Jesus words resonate... "come to me."  

Take some time and listen to the song in the video above.  Are you heavy burdened today?  Come to Christ.  "Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal."   

"Lay down your heart, lay down your heart.... come as you are."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Journey Begins...

Today is Ash Wednesday, and it marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent leading to Resurrection Sunday.  Traditionally, Lent is a time for Christians to enter a period of self-reflection, prayer, and preparation in anticipation of the celebrations of Easter.  The duration of the season, 40 days, carries a symbolism with many roots, including the flood and 40 years of wilderness wanderings.  The inspiration for this time, however, is most likely taken from Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness where he, like Moses and Elijah before him, sojourned in preparation for his ministry.

A common practice throughout the Bible, fasting was believed to be a humbling act of commitment or repentance that was intensified when combined with prayer, In contemporary Protestant religious practice, during Lent many persons practice some king of fasting, referring to it as "giving up" something for the duration. However, as the video suggests, there are many misconceptions around the notion of fasting.  The biggest misunderstanding about fasting is that many seem to do it boastfully, in an effort to gain some morsel of favor with God.  The reality is, that there is nothing we can do that can cause God to love us anymore, and there is nothing we can do that will cause God to love us any less that God already does!

The season of Lent begins with ashes, as we recall our mortality and fragility before God, but this does not mean it is a season devoid of joy.  Whatever we choose as a Lenten discipline, let it be part of a freedom journey, not wallowing in gloom but practicing justice and joy in fellowship with God and one another.  Let us make that journey together, exploring how we can turn the casual cultural concept of "giving up something for Lent" into a meaningful act of devotion.