Archives for posts with tag: sacrifice

Ash Wednesday 4Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. This forty day period (not counting Sundays) ends on Easter Sunday. This year it is from February 10 (Ash Wednesday) to March 27 (Easter), 2016.Lent 1

Lent is practiced by most, but not all, Christian groups. The emphasis is on spiritual purification, meditation and penance. The focus is not supposed to be on one’s self, but one’s relationship with God. Although it is not required, people often give up something during Lent as a means of self-discipline and identifying with the sacrifices that Christ made. Many choose instead to take on something during Lent like reading more of the Bible, diligently observing daily devotional times, or completing some work of charity.

Mardi GrasI grew up in Mobile, Alabama where Mardi Gras was a big part of our culture. However, I did not make the connection of this time of revelry with spirituality. I did not know that Mardi Gras meant “Fat Tuesday.” Since Lent always starts on a Wednesday, the day before is always a Tuesday. And it’s called “Fat” or “Great” because it’s associated with great food and parties. I suspect that most people see Mardi Gras as a big party that has little to do with preparing for the Lenten season of repentance and simplicity.

Fat Tuesday

According to The Upper Room,* “In earlier times, people used Lent as a time of fasting and repentance. Since they didn’t want to be tempted by sweets, meat and other distractions in the house, they cleaned out their cabinets. They used up all the sugar and yeast in sweet breads before the Lent season started, and fixed meals with all the meat available. It was a great feast!”

“Why ashes? In Jewish and Christian history, ashes are a sign of mortality and repentance. Mortality, because when we die, our bodies eventually decompose and we become dust/dirt/ash/whatever. Repentance, because long ago, when people felt remorse for something they did, they would put ashes on their head and wear “sackcloth” (scratchy clothing) to remind them that sin is pretty uncomfortable and leads to a sort of death of the spirit. This was their way of confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness.” (The Upper Room)*

I gathered with others for Ash Wednesday service last night. At the beginning of the service we joined in saying,

O God of endless mercy, we gather on this day to acknowledge our mortality and our complete reliance on you for compassion and forgiveness. If there is any hope for us, O God, our hope rests completely in you. Have mercy, O God, have mercy. You are the source of our mortal life. You are the source of our spiritual life. You are the destiny to whom we return in the hope of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior. May the mark of mortality remind us of our dust-to-dust existence, and draw us nearer to you.

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Later we knelt at the altar and one of the ministers applied the sign of the cross on our foreheads and reminded us of our mortality and our need for repentance and forgiveness. Then we united in the Prayer of Confession:

Most Holy God, your Son came into the world to save sinners. We come to this season of repentance, confessing our unworthiness, asking for new and honest hearts, and seeking the healing power of your forgiveness. Almighty and Everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are repentant; create and make in us new and contrite hearts, so that we, lamenting our sins and acknowledging our separation from you, may obtain from you perfect remission and forgiveness. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

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We have started the Lenten journey which will lead us to the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. During these days with God’s help, I hope to become a better person and follower of Christ. I pray that the days of Lent will do the same for you.

Jamie Jenkins

*The Upper Room is a global ministry dedicated to supporting the spiritual formation of Christians seeking to know and experience God more fully. From its beginning as devotional guide, The Upper Room has grown to include publications, programs, prayer support, and other resources to help believers of all ages and denominations move to a deeper level of faith and service. The Upper Room is a part of Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church.

This weekend is a very special time for me and my family. The youngest child is getting married. We are excited to welcome another fabulous young woman into our family which currently includes two other children, a wonderful son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and two exceptional grandchildren.

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As our son and future daughter-in-law embark on this new adventure as husband and wife, I covet for them the happiness and fulfillment that I have found with my wife of over forty-six years. Next to Jesus, my wife is the best thing that ever happened to me and I trust that it will be the same for them.

I don’t profess to be an expert on marriage but experience and the wisdom of others has taught me a few things about living and loving. One of the most important principles of marital success is to realize that marriage is not a 50/50 proposition.  The traditional wedding ceremony speaks of “two becoming one.” One might assume that means each partner gives 50% and together that makes a whole and healthy marriage. But marriage is not about mathematics. It is only when each partner gives 100% that fulfillment and completeness as a couple is realized.

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Love that brings two people to the place where they want to commit themselves to each other forever is powerful. But staying in love requires the ability to be adaptable and the willingness to sacrifice.

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Love is the glue that holds a marriage together and there are a lot of sentimental and poetic ways to describe love. One of the best examples I know was offered long ago:

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Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant,  it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints,  it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never gives up.

That is good counsel not only to Jonas and Natalia but to people everywhere.

Jamie Jenkins

When he was 12 years old one of my children told me and his mother that he was passionate about playing the violin. My wife replied, “If you were passionate, we would not have to make you practice.”

Just to like something and even to get some satisfaction from it does not equate into passion. But when an activity, person, or thing elicits intense emotions or strong feelings from you, it may be appropriate to say you feel passionate for it.

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Felling passionate can be a good thing but passion alone will not lead to the desired results. Discipline is the bridge between desire and fulfillment. Discipline- an activity, exercise, or regimen- is necessary to move from goals to accomplishment. Desire and discipline go hand in hand.

Gary Ryan Blair said, “Discipline is based on pride, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of the goal or the fear of failure.”

Dr. Sherwood Elliot Wirt was a long time associate of Billy Graham and the founding editor of the evangelist’s Decision Magazine. Before his death in 2001 at the age of 97, he wrote more than 40 books and had a tremendous impact on the lives and careers of multitudes of writers.

Dr. Wirt was a guest lecturer in one of my college English classes. That was many years ago but I still remember his reply to a question of one of my classmates. The student asked, “Where do you begin to become a writer? ” His reply was, “Get a piece of paper and a pen (I told you it was a long time ago) and start writing.”

One element of Dr. Wirt’s response was that you have to do more that want to do something. You actually have to do it. That takes a certain amount of discipline and if you want to succeed at any task you have to work at it.

Kushandwizdom - Inspiring picture quotes | via Tumblr

Near the end of his life Jesus had a conversation with his closest friends. He cautioned them that being his disciple would be difficult and could be costly. When excuses were given for not following him at the moment, he replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back” was ready to follow him. In other words, there is a price to pay for anything that is important. Discipline and sacrifice are required.

This year is the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music movie. Julie Andrews, one of the stars of the movie, said in a recent interview, “Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.”

Zig Ziglar Discipline quotes | Inspiration Boost | Inspiration Boost

One study a couple of years ago by Wilhelm Hoffman, found that well disciplined people are happier than those without. M. Scott Peck agreed when he said, “Discipline is wisdom and vice versa.”

Lord help us to discipline ourselves so we can complete the tasks and achieve the goals that are good for us and for all humanity.

Jamie Jenkins

What are you giving up for Lent? Whether you are a religious person or not, the practice of fasting can help you to become a healthier and happier you.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that may be practiced at any time and generally means abstaining from food or drink. It is especially associated with special religious observances.  Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, and Taoism all advocate some form of fasting—from short periods to days, and even an entire month.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar (June 17-July 17, 2015), is observed by Muslims as a month of fasting. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual intercourse. In some interpretations, Muslims also refrain from other behavior that could be perceived as sinful, such as swearing, engaging in disagreements, backbiting, and procrastination.

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Christians observe Lent, forty days before Easter (February 18-April 4, 2015), and it is intended to assist in growing closer to God. The Upper Room says, “Some Christians use the whole forty days to fast from candy, TV, soft drinks, cigarettes, or meat as a way to purify their bodies and their lives.” It is suggested that one might give up one meal a day and use that time to pray instead.

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In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “If there is no element of asceticism in our lives, if we give free rein to the desires of the flesh (taking care of course to keep within the limits of what seems permissible to the world), we shall find it hard to train for the service of Christ.”

Researchers from the University of Florida did a three-year study that concluded that fasting caused the gene related to anti-aging in our cells to increase, which can lead to longevity. The study also indicated that fasting could strengthen the body’s natural preventive processes that protect against future diseases. (read a full report on the study at http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/03/09/fasting-diet-study-lent).

Fasting can, however, refer more broadly to “giving up” anything at any time. Ideas include giving up “some activity like worry or reality TV to spend time outside enjoying God’s creation.” The idea is to “fast” in order to focus on God.

FASTING 2 There are a lot of things that a person might “give up.” Things that clutter the calendar and complicate life. Resentment, anger, and bitterness are destructive emotions that are like cancer that eat away at a person from the inside. Why not give them up?

Pessimism and cynicism prevents one from seeing the bright and beautiful in every day life. Finding fault with others leads one to de-value the worth of persons and gets in the way of seeing the good that God has invested in every individual. Give them up.

Although you might have made mistakes, beating yourself up constantly does no good for you or anyone else. An adversarial posture as one’s usual attitude only works against you. Gossip and criticism may seem harmless but they can do serious damage. These attitudes and actions diminish yourself and others. Give them up.

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We are in the middle of the season of Lent but whether you “fast” from negative behaviors such as those mentioned above- and there are many others- for religious purposes or not, you will become a healthier and happier person when you give them up. After all that is God’s intentions for you (John 10:10).

 

Jamie Jenkins