Restless nights don’t come to me all that often but when they do it drives me crazy. They are nights where my brain will not shut off. Rarely am I everything thinking of anything of real substance, but I can’t figure out why I can’t shut it off.
The past few nights have been Restless nights for me. Last night I finally began to listen. Those moments are normally indicators from your body or soul trying to get your attention. I finally was able to quiet myself enough to hear God saying, “HEY!!!! I want to talk to you.” Have you ever been on such an autopilot mode that you even those little God interruptions seem like turbulence that is meant to be overcome?
We can become so streamlined that we need those restless moments to make things uneasy, to cause us enough discomfort that we take the journey off of autopilot and reengage with our selves and Jesus.
Last night I was reminded just how much Jesus wants to speak to me, how much he wants to be involved in my day in day out happenings. The moment I become to tired and worn out, the moment I hit autopilot and just start coasting is the moment I leave him out of the picture.
If you experience restless nights, or restless days, take heed to ask your soul, “Is something wrong?” I have found that in these moments my soul is trying to tell me something, and I need to clear the calendar to listen to it, to take time and be with God a little more intentionally today that normal.
Well it is time for Lent. That time of year where many protestant Christians partake in a time of sadness and ‘suffering’ sorts to enter into a reminder of what Jesus came, lived and did for us on the cross. The period of Lent goes from Ash Wednesday till the Saturday before Easter (46 days). It is a time where to reflect on Christ’s suffering leading into His triumph.
It is also a time where ‘faithful’ Christians take up their own practices of ‘suffering’ to draw them closer to Christ. A time remember our frailty and deep deep need for Gods love and grace in and over our lives. It is something that has been practiced for centuries. There are some incredible resources out there called spiritual disciplines that can really help draw closer to God and Christ like action in our lives.
What I have noticed over the past few years though is this sad truth of weak suffering. I have watched students and adults give up facebook, chocolate, twitter, soda and video games for 46 days. Now when I hear people camp this as a suffering my heart breaks. Many of us have reduced this time to a superficial time of ‘fasting’ from things that aren’t all that good to begin with. I watch as some folks give up these things but don’t add, prayer, reading their bible, acts of Christ-like service, practice of piety.
This is a time designed for us not simply give up our guilty pleasures but a time to delight in Gods pleasure and grandeur for us and over us. So beyond the suffering you may have added to your daily routine, what have you added, what are you practicing that will help you draw nearing to God this season?
Here are some things I have added to my Lenten practice…
- Getting up every morning at 6am to spend an hour in prayer and reading.
- Journaling my thoughts and prayers during this time
- Practicing a different Spiritual Discipline each week
- Attending to self-care ( taking care of my body better with what I eat and exercising 3-4 times each week)
Again, these are more practices for me. I’m not giving up anything really. I have seldom found very much pleasure and Joy through Christ in those moments (some have and praise God for that). This time of year is a perfect time to join 100′s of thousands if not millions around the world that will be participating in this season of Lent.
Don’t just give something up that brings you pleasure, draw near to your heavenly Father so he may delight in his child. The ultimate pleasure…
Stay tuned for ways of diving deep into your ‘suffering’ this lenten season.
Lent doesn’t have to be just another 4 letter word in our christian vocabulary. I wrote about it last year being a word that we use as a time to give up things that bring us pleasure. You can read more about that here…
I wanted to give out this invitation to join in this season. It is a powerful christian practice that allows us to draw nearer to the suffering of Christ, ultimately the pleasure and intimacy of God. Strangely its something that we can do anytime of year, but practically it is a time where the Christian Church looks at Jesus suffering, time in the wilderness leading to His execution and death on the cross, all proceeded by his glorious resurrection.
Why is lent for you? Because God’s love is for you, His grace, His provision, His wounder, His Kingdom is for you and for me. Lent is an invitation to experience not only the suffering of Christ but the joy and presence of of that love, grace, provision, wonder and kingdom God has for us.
There are a few ways you can except this invitation…
- Giving up a thing that brings you great pleasure – many give up things like food or technologies that bring them joy for a 46 day period leading into Easter. This removal of normal things causes one to find pleasure else where…in God
- Fasting – giving up foods and drink. This is a widely practiced aspect of lent. Fasting can be from removing certain food groups, certain kinds of drink from ones diet.
- Spiritual Disciplines – instead of listing them out you can Google spiritual discipline practices or check out this link here. These are practices that help us draw closer to God and Christ-likeness. There are some great practices here for sure. I will posting some each week if you want to keep coming back here.
There are so many other ways and so many disciplines one can enter into. My encouragement is that you would draw nearer to God these next 46 days leading into Easter. Make this a time for you and God, not for others and God. This is your invitation, not your students, not your churches, not your children or your spouse. This is your invitation.
I’d encourage you to subscribe to this blog if you would like to know more about spiritual practices and disciplines. Throughout this season I will be posting a lot about them and my journey in them as well. You can subscribe by clicking here
It is crazy to think that the time of year has come for the celebration of Lent. My tradition as a younger christian was not based in this practice at all, but with my involvement at a Lutheran church I get the privilege to partake in it & bring about some great resources for our church to participate in the season as well.
This year I am a little more excited than normal. I think because of the prep time I have had to get ready for this year & our theme. I wanted to share five reasons I am super excited about this year’s Lenten time at Faith Community…
- We are teaching through Parables of Christ. I have always been fascinated by this teaching style of Christ. Some of the parables I ‘kinda’ understand. Some are total ‘what the heck’ to me, but needless to say I am so ecstatic to be teaching on them for the next 6 weeks on Wednesday nights at 4.30 & 7pm…
- We have created an entire devotional booklet (I will be posting next week) for our congregation to be guided, grow and go deeper in their faith. To often we simply just focus on the guiding or the growing, but very very excited to be giving people the opportunity to go this year as well…
- We have added a new element of spiritual practices each week to our devotionals. I am so excited about this because I am getting to use more of passion for spiritual formation in our church & helping peoplegrow a little deeper into their relationship with Jesus…
- I have some pretty radical prayers coming from my soul that is so ready to experience some radical transformation in my life, physically, emotionally, spiritually… am I missing any ‘lly’s’ there?
- I will be taking this Lenten year just as much for myself if not more as I bring to others. I serve others a lot in my job but rarely take time for myself. I am going to refocus that this year & really spend some time for myself with God trying to understand more about my soul & my heart.
So, what about you? Lent is around the corner… are you ready? Are you participating in it? If so how?
Check out our Lenten Promo video as well…
As of late I have begun to realize and place a greater importance on my ‘soul’. That fuzzy, kinda hard to explain essence that is a part of who we are. Some say it directs us, some say it connects us with God, some say its the true essence of who we are called to be. I say… I’m figuring it out, but I know when my soul is out of whack and I need some help.
As I take time to figure out how to strengthen it, care for it more, I have come to the conclusion that my soul is fed by many interactions and thoughts I ‘ingest’ day in day out. I wanted to highlight 5 people who feed my soul in different ways, but all ways that help keep my soul nourished.
- Rick Lawrence Is editor and chief at Group Publishing in Loveland Colorado. He just authored Sifted, has another book coming out called Shrewd, leads an incredible track called Jesus Centered Youth Ministry at possibly one of the greatest youth ministry conferences in the world, Simply Youth Ministry Conference. Rick’s writings and teachings have been a huge blessing to me. Rick is a masterful story teller and ‘wordsmith’ of painting pictures that help you better understand attributes of God and situations. He is a man who is so transparent and open with what God is teaching him, through the hard things and the incredibly nourishing things. I get the pleasure of getting to have him speak into my life from time to time.
- Patrick Lencioni Is the found of Table Group, a consulting firm and writes leadership fables to help illustrate great leadership points for successful business and life moves. I have not had the pleasure of meeting Patrick other than at the Leadership Summit this last year. Patrick’s ability to tell fables is so inspiring to me not only in that it teaches me how to be a better leader but to strive to be a better story teller to help people connect to a greater story.
- Steven Furtick Is the senior pastor of Elevation Church in North Carolina. He is 31 years old, author of Sun Stand Still, husband, father, pastor, and anointed child of God. I have never met Steven, but as a young pastor myself I am inspired by Steven, his heart, his vision, his drive, his ministry, his marriage, his staff, his boldness & humility. I have heard him preach several sermons, speak at conferences and read his book. Steven is the reminder of Paul to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4.12 that let know one look down on you because of your youth. Steven encourages me in my walk because he reminds me that God is looking for those whom He can burn brightly in to show the world His love.
- Henri Nouwen was a beloved priest, author, humanitarian and man of God. He wrote over 40 books on the spiritual life. His books are short little snippets of thought all revolving around knowing God more and knowing self in order to know Him that much more. His books and thoughts are a constant refresher and place of nourishment for my soul. A constant pull of growing closer to Christ.
- Ben Mason a seminary student, interning at Hope Des Moines, best man in my wedding, and dear friend. Ben is a constant encourage in my leadership at Faith, in my marriage to stir me on to be a better husband, and to think beyond myself and grow closer to Christ. Ben is one of those life long friends that will do anything for you. He feeds my soul with friendship and accountability, as well as my belly as an amazing cook and ‘drink’ connoisseur.
Having people to feed your soul, whether you know them in person or through the kingdom through other means is a must to keep you soul fresh and healthy. Who are the people that feed your soul and why? Maybe you should let them know…
My last post was back early this month on Why Resolutions Don’t Work. And how true that post was. I had made a few resolutions that I really haven’t put forth any effort what so ever in. One was reading and writing. I have been reading ‘a little’ more, but no where near the extent I should be and could be to further my knowledge on God, leadership, marriage, and counseling.
So what the heck!?!?
What have I been doing?
Why haven’t I been doing more of what I set out to do?
Well honestly 3 reasons I think
#1… I am obese with hearing the words and thoughts of so many other people I just don’t have ‘mobility’ to write or think on my own. From Facebook to Twitter, from reading online Sermons to Podcasts, from blogs to books I get deluged with so many thoughts and words of others there is no way my words could even begin to surface.
#2… I retreat from all the different voices! As loud as I can be, as important and necessary I feel my message & words are I retreat and pull back because ‘everyone else’ is talking. I don’t want to get in a screaming match with the internet, the guy down the road (or across the nation), I don’t want to simply come up with a simply flashy new thing (thats actually an old thing). So I simply don’t participate. I don’t share, I just keep quiet over in my corner and allow my thoughts to fester and die out.
#3… I am not disciplined! At all! I am realizing I am worse than a child when it comes to the discipline areas in my life… honestly, I just took a 10 minute break from this post to look at 3 emails, read two blogs and check facebook & twitter.
Now the most important thing here is despite these reasons I feel a need to try and push through. I do feel deep in my soul God has placed something unique inside me that is being refined as it needs to be shared with others (who doesn’t feel that though in ministry…thus the problem with lots of voices). I have 9 blog drafts of things I started then just said “I don’t want to post this… no one wants to read this… this isn’t that important…”
I have allowed my existent to become lethargic in just about every area. I have not been living for John 10.10 at all, but listening more to the ‘thief’ than the ‘giver of New Life’.
Needing to earnestly & honestly pray through what ‘fat’ mentally, physically, spiritually needs to get cut from my life to have a healthier existence!
As I work through my road blocks and hurtles in life, I’m curious what are your areas that need to be trimmed or areas you have trimmed?