Sunday, March 28, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Today is Fat Tuesday. Lent begins tonight at 12:01 am. Wonder what the whole thing is about? Here's what we're doing at Mystery.
What is Lent?
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the heart of the Christian Gospel, and Good Friday and Easter are two of the most significant celebrations of the Christian year. Lent is a season of preparation and repentance during which we anticipate Good Friday and Easter. Just as we carefully prepare for big events in our personal lives, such as a wedding or commencement, Lent invites us to make our hearts ready for remembering Jesus’ passion (suffering) and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.
The practice of a forty-day preparation period began in the Christian church during the third and fourth centuries. The number forty carries biblical significance based on the forty years Israel spent in the wilderness and Jesus’ forty-day fast in the wilderness. The forty days of Lent begin on Ash Wednesday (Feb 17th for 2010) and continue throughout holy week, not counting Sundays (which are reserved for celebratory worship). In practice, many congregations choose to focus Sunday worship on the themes of repentance and renewal.
As a period of preparation, Lent has historically included the instructions of persons for baptism and profession of faith on Easter Sunday; the calling back of those who have become estranged from the church; and efforts by all Christians to deepen their piety, devotion, and readiness to mark the death and resurrection of their Savior.
-The Worship Sourcebook
Why is Mystery observing Lent?
The season of Lent has not been observed by most of evangelical Christianity. Lent is typically associated with “high church” liturgical worship that many churches have been eager to reject. At Mystery, we want to recover aspects of the larger Christian tradition as a means to deepening our spiritual lives and live the gospel.
Even though Americans are increasingly secular, there is still openness to spirituality, and times throughout the year – especially Christmas and Easter – when culture is more willing to address spiritual issues. Lent is an opportunity for us to trust Christ more deeply, and maybe have an opportunity to share the gospel with those with whom we live and work.
Ideas for observing Lent:
Fast – Many people fast during Lent. The key to fasting is to keep it simple and meaningful. In fasting, the focus is not on what you give up, but on Jesus, who gave up everything he had to give us everything we need. Here are some ideas for fasting:
• Fast from meat, sweets, coffee, TV, etc.
• Live more simply in all of life.
• Walk rather than drive.
• Clean the house and give unneeded items to charity.
• Observe and hour of silence each day.
• Go without technology (email, internet, texting, etc.) one day a week.
Prayer & Reflection – Set aside time each day to talk to the Lord and examine your life for areas where you have not been looking to Jesus as Lord. Take time to repent, and realign all things with Him. Thank Him for what He accomplished on the cross and what He has done in your heart.
• Keep a journal of your prayers during this time.
• Consider your areas of sin, confessing and repenting where needed.
• Pray for your neighbors.
• Make a list of your priorities, what might need to change?
• Pray for your Community Group, Mystery, & Joplin
Study & Worship – Have a special focus of learning and praising God. If you’re fasting from an activity, like watching TV, replace that time with reading, studying, and worshiping.
• Read scripture each day, especially the Gospels.
• Discuss what you read with family, friends and co-workers.
• Read a book on the Cross during this time.
o 50 Reasons why Jesus Came to Die – by John Piper
o Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross – by Nancy Guthrie
• Worship Jesus with Psalms, hymns, or songs.
• Worship with your family during the week.
Service & Mercy – Devote time to being with and serving people. Allow your times of fasting, prayer, worship, and study to affect your love for people, serving because Christ has served you.
• Eat a meal (or several!) with your Community Group.
• Serve alongside your Community Group at a homeless shelter or other organization.
• Walk around your neighborhood while praying for it, look for opportunities to serve and love your neighbors.
• Write a letter to a friend or family member.
• Avoid gossip and being critical of others.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
I really like Lecrae and Reach Records. Here's a new song and music video from LeCrae.
Desiring God produced the music video for LeCrae's new song, "Far Away," over the weekend. It is now available for purchase, along with the mp3, for only $4.99.
If you want to buy just the mp3, it is available in iTunes for $.99. It is ranked 46 in Hip Hop as of now. Let's try to move it into the top 10!
All proceeds go to Haiti relief through Churches Helping Churches.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I received a copy of "The Valley of Vision" for Christmas and have been reading the prayers within it from time to time. Here is one that I found particularly applicable to me. I often feel I pray from a prayerless heart - my lips reciting words neither my mind nor heart are engaged in. Being a worship pastor, I must confess there are times when I am singing praise that is praiseless due to the hardness of my heart. But Christ is gracious to me, and in his wounds I find a covert...a hiding place.
No day of my life has passed that has not
Proved me guilty in your sight.
Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart;
Praise has often praiseless sound;
My best services are filthy rags.
Blessed Jesus, let me find a covert in your appeasing wounds.
Though my sins rise to heaven your merits soar above them;
Though unrighteousness weighs me down to hell,
Your righteousness exalts me to Your throne.
All things in me call for my rejection,
All things in You plead my acceptance.
I appeal from the throne of perfect justice
To Your throne of boundless grace.
Grant me to hear Your voice assuring me:
That by Your stripes I am healed,
That You were bruised for my iniquities,
That You have been made sin for me
That I might be righteous in You,
That my grievous sins, my manifold sins, are all forgiven,
Buried in the ocean of Your concealing blood.
I am guilty, but pardoned,
Lost, but saved,
Wandering, but found,
Sinning, but cleansed.
Give me perpetual broken-heartedness,
Keep me always clinging to Your cross,
Flood me every moment with descending grace,
Open to me the springs of divine knowledge,
Sparkling like crystal,
Flowing clear and unsullied
Through my wilderness of life.