February 23, 2009
Darrell introduced a new Lenten series Saturday night called Colors. The first message was called “Ash Gray,” and introduced the topic of Lent and how fasting during this traditional Christian period is a way to love God by sacrificing and love others by serving — and the best way to observe Lent is to do both.
We illustrated the connection between sacrifice and service by interviewing Andy & Serenity Coulombe, of Mustard Seed Ministries. A year ago, the Coulombe family sold everything they had and now live in an RV, traveling the country to work with churches and minister to the poor.
You can stream the entire sermon and interview here, or click this link (and “save as…”) to download the MP3 file.
Reminder: The first day of Lent is this Wednesday, February 25.
March 11, 2008
Easter is approaching. If you are participating in the Lenten Fast, the time is almost up. The day when you get to “do your thing” again is near. So, hang in there!
Ephesians 3:16-17 says, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
May you rest in the power of God’s Spirit to help you complete your fast victoriously. May you experience a greater awareness of Christ’s presence in you as a result of your fast. May your faith be strengthened because of your participation in the fast.
March 6, 2008
Psalm 26:2-3 says, “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.”
Lent gives us an opportunity to do two things. One, it gives God permission to examine our heart and mind to see if there is error or sin present. It allows him to check our motives, desires and ambitions to be sure they are pure. It is a great time of self-examination and self-evaluation that helps us make any necessary realignments.
Two, it helps us focus continually on God’s love for us. The reality that God sent Christ as our sin remedy takes front row. It becomes center in our attention. As we anticipate the day that we can end our fast, we, in the process, have given much more thought to the Easter event; to that day when Christ “paid it all” for me.
May Psalm 26:2-3 be your heart’s cry this Lenten season!
February 28, 2008
I was thinking this morning about my Lenten “fast.” I reflected on how ironic the term “fast” is! There is nothing fast about a “fast”. Now that I am about at the half-way point, I confess I find myself wandering, at times, how long I must keep doing this. It seems like my “fast” is taking an eternity. My “fast” needs to hurry up and be over! I catch myself longing to participate in my temporarily forbidden activities. My “fast” sure seems slow!
It is a good reminder for me though. “Good things come to those who wait!” “Patience is a virtue!” These common sayings seem trite, but they are true nonetheless. Character does not come fast; wisdom does not come fast; Christ-likeness does not come fast! The most valued aspects of life are slow-developing. So, while I participate in my Lenten “fast”, I will remember that this discipline slows me down enough to reflect on God’s goodness and my need for Him, and it helps me focus on that slow process of becoming more like Christ and appreciating more deeply what He has done and does for me.
February 20, 2008
Psalm 51:16-17 says, “You (God) do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you (God) do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
During Lent, many decide to offer a “sacrifice” by giving up something they love. However, God is not impressed by our “sacrifice.” There is no virtue in simply giving up something. The virtue is in why! Broken and contrite both mean crushed. The psalmist’s idea is to stress the intent and condition of the heart and spirit of the sacrificer.
The despised sacrifice is one that comes from a heart of arrogance and pride. It says look at me! Look how holy I am! Look at what I am doing for God! The focus is on what “I” am doing. The delightful sacrifice is one that comes from a broken and contrite heart. It says, thank you Lord for what you have done! I am nothing without you! I am totally dependent on you! The focus is God! It is birthed from humility.
As you “sacrifice” during Lent, be sure your offering is delightful to God and not despised by God. Keep the focus on Him, what He has done and what He is doing. Keep it off of yourself and what you are doing.
February 16, 2008
The Amarillo Globe-News has a great article by Joe Southern this morning on the front page of the “Faith” section about denominations that (perhaps unexpectedly) observe Lent. Because EXP is part of a Southern Baptist church, we get a lot of very positive mentions in the article — including substantial quotes from Darrell, Cheryl Crain, and Mark Hotmann. Lots of good things to think about.
“It has been a positive worship experience for our people. It is not mandatory. We do not pressure people to participate nor make them feel guilty if they do not want to participate,” he said.
[Cheryl] said she was at first inclined to give up something for health reasons but instead felt compelled to give up a luxury she really enjoyed. Jerry agreed.
“This is just not a traditional practice for Baptists,” she said. “It’s very foreign.”
Mark Hotmann, who plays in the EXP praise band, said he grew up Baptist and didn’t know much about Lent.
“I didn’t know about the background or purpose, but last year they explained the background and purpose and encouraged us to participate,” he said.
Read the whole thing here: “Many Denominations Observe Lent“
February 12, 2008
Romans 12:1 reminds us to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” As I participate in Lent, sacrificing a few pleasures, I am reminded of this verse. However, today I reflected on the fact that Jesus did this very act. He offered Himself as a living sacrifice. His sacrifice was pleasing to His Father! Jesus did not merely sacrifice a few pleasures, He sacrificed Himself.
Though my sacrifice dims in comparison to Christ’s, a common thread does exist. They both are a spiritual act of worship. My participation in Lent is an act of worship. It says I want to focus on Christ and what He did for me. It speaks to my desire to remind myself of what is really important in life. It is a unique way, (something I do not do year round) to express worship to God. It is more that simply a discipline or an old church tradition. It is a fresh way for me to worship!
So, as you “sacrifice” during this Lenten season, remember you are worshiping and you are following the pattern of Jesus.