nope. not the stuff that you find in your belly button. not even the stuff that you find in your dryer after a fresh load of clothes.
a season of preparation. expectation of redemption. hope for new life.
"The tradition of Lent- a forty-day sacrifice-is one way of mourning the death that sin has caused in our lives. As we see Jesus perfectly withstand Satan's temptation in the wilderness, we admit our own shortcomings, our own inadequate sacrifices. This period of "giving up" has a profound way of recalling our desperate need for Jesus Christ." - from Devotions for Lent, Mosaic Holy Bible
I have really loved reflecting on the weight of the gospel this season.
A Gospel Primer for Christians has been a huge blessing! It is basically the gospel spelled out in tons of different ways, perspectives over and over...all based on scripture. I have really cherished going though it slowly and really taking in the weighty-ness of the words, and meditating on the scriptures it refers to. It also teaches how necessary it is for us to preach the gospel to ourselves...everyday.
It holds such gems:
"The deeper I go into the gospel, the more I comprehend and confess aloud the depth of my sinfulness. A gruesome death like the one that Christ endured for me would only be required for one who is exceedingly sinful and unable to appease a holy God. Consequently, whenever I consider the necessity and manner of His death, along with the love and selflessness behind it, I am laid bare and utterly exposed for the sinner I am. Such an awareness of my sinfulness does not drag me down, but actually serves to lift me up by magnifying my appreciation of God's forgiving grace in my life. And the more I appreciate the magnitude of God's forgiveness of my sins, the more I love Him and delight to show Him love through heart-felt expressions of worship."
and my favorite so far (worth the long read!!):
"Viewing life's blessings as water in a drinking cup, I know that I could discontentedly focus on the half of the cup that seems empty, or I could gratefully focus on the half that is full. Certainly, the latter approach is the better of the two, yet the gospel cultivates within me a richer gratitude than this.
The gospel reminds me first that what I actually deserve from God is a full cup churning with the torments of His wrath. This is the cup that would be mine to drink if I were given what I deserve each day. With this understanding in mind, I see that to be handed a completely empty cup from God would be cause enough for infinite gratitude. If there were merely the tiniest drop of blessing contained in that other wise empty cup, I should be blown away by the unbelievable kindness of God toward me. That God, in fact, has given me a cup that is full of "every spiritual blessing in Christ," and this without the slightest admixture of wrath, leaves me truly dumbfounded with inexpressible joy. As for my specific earthly circumstances of plenty or want, I can see them always as infinite improvements on the hell I deserve.
When I look at any circumstance that God apportions me, I am first grateful for the wrath I am not receiving in that moment. (The empty part of the cup never looked so good!) Second, I am grateful for the blessings that are given to me instead of His wrath. (Life's blessing, however small, always appear exceedingly precious when viewed against the backdrop of the wrath I deserve.) This two-layered gratitude disposes my heart to give thanks in all thing and it also lends a certain intensity to my giving of thanks. Such a gospel-generated gratitude glorifies God, contributes to peace of mind, and keeps my foot from the path of foolishness and ruin."
More gospel goodness:
G.O.S.P.E.L. from Humble Beast Records on Vimeo.
Ok one last thing... sort of on the subject of books and grateful hearts.
I read One Thousand Gifts while in Costa Rica...
o. ya. Will and I went to Costa Rica! (update with pics to come!)
...and it was such a good book! It is basically Ann Voskamp's story and her journey to discovering eucharisto and finding joy and thankfulness in her life. She is a gifted writer and I ate. it. up! You should check out her blog too!
ok. that's all for now. more to come!