Being the Baptist girl that I am, I didn’t grow up observing Lent. In fact, I just learned of this season’s specialness not too many years ago. Each year I do a little more research on it and gather resources that help me learn to observe the Lenten season. (If you’re like me and are not too sure about Lent, see toward the bottom of this post for more info and some FREE resources.)
Basically, Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – His Cross, His suffering and His sacrifice, His life, death, burial and resurrection.
Lent and Easter are all about the Cross… which leads me to deeply ponder
The People of the Cross
It’s been heaviest on my mind and heart lately – the most recent Christian Martyrs – who were killed for being “People of the Cross.”
I just can’t get that phrase out of my mind – especially as we enter this Lenten season. People of the Cross. Isn’t that what all of us are if we claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Yet how many of us (me included!) complain about or dread or congratulate ourselves on our meager sacrifice during this 40 something day period leading up to Easter??? Oh Lord, forgive us!
I can hardly comprehend it, but this isn’t the first or the last time that God-honoring people will be put to death for being called by His name. Though our government is failing to call it what it is, these latest souls join with centuries of courageous others who chose to bow the knee to Jesus Christ in this life, trading their very breath for a Martyr’s crown to lay at His feet in Heaven.
And then we (me included!) think we are so pious because we are giving up sugar for 40 days? Or TV? Or Facebook? Oh Lord, have mercy on our weak souls!
People of the Cross… That’s what we are. And I don’t doubt for a moment that many of us, when put to the test, would choose to die for our faith. God would give us the courage to do so if the time came. Because, after all, we know what blessings lie ahead for us.
But the question burning in my soul right now is this: As People of the Cross who would be willing to die for our Savior, are we just as willing to live for Him too?
Jesus said in Matthew 16:24
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].” (AMP)
The NLT puts it this way:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”
And look at the Message’s version of this verse(s)
24-26 Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?”
Oh my friends, the question the Lord keeps driving deep inside my heart and mind of late is “Am I really living as a Person of the Cross?” Not in my outward persona where others might be able to answer that question for me… but in the inward person of my own heart where only the Lord and I see… Am I really living and thinking and loving and trusting and obeying as a Person of the Cross?
This could be the most precious Lenten season of our lives if, during the season where we turn toward the Cross, we would choose to become People of the Cross. In our everyday lives and choices with our time, money, mouths, bodies, homes, talents, possessions… I believe that the Lord is calling us all – offering us an invitation wherever it is that we live, and in whatever it is that we do – to gladly and gratefully take up the cross to follow Him.
Dearest friends, will you and I choose to live as People of the Cross?
A men – So be it, Lord Jesus!
A little bit about Lent.
Being the Baptist girl that I am, I didn’t grow up observing Lent. In fact, I just learned of this season’s specialness not too many years ago. Each year I do a little more research on it and gather resources that help one observe the Lenten season.
Last year our family observed Epiphany from December 26 through Mardi Gras. (See this Smelling Coffee post for a better explanation.) The Epiphany season of seeking and finding Jesus offers a sweet time of fellowship and intimacy with the Lord and a wonderful way to begin the year with hearts and minds focused on Jesus.
But from fellowship and intimacy with our Holy God, inevitably comes the realization of our sins. And that’s where Ash Wednesday comes in, and where Lent picks up, leading us to the blessed celebration of Easter.
Lent is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count).
Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.
How Can We Observe Lent? (This is straight from the BibleGateway.com)
3. Scripture Reading
Beyond Lent and Easter
Even though the Lenten Season started on Wednesday, there is still plenty of time to participate and turn our hearts toward the cross! I’ve gathered a few FREE resources and devotionals to do just that during these days before Easter.
1. Bible Gateway offers 5 different FREE devotional resources that will be emailed straight to your inbox each day.
An eclectic mix of Scripture passages and reflections to help you think through and apply the message of Easter. Begins on Ash Wednesday, February 18.
Journey to Easter with 22 short, daily inspirational reflections from pastor and author Mel Lawrenz. Begins on March 15.
Discover the true meaning of Easter with this week-long daily devotional written by beloved author Max Lucado. Begins on Ash Wednesday, February 18.
A devotional journey with WW2 pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer that will both challenge and encourage you throughout the Lenten season. Begins as soon as you sign up.
Read a daily Scripture passage chosen to focus your heart and mind on the message of Easter. Visit our reading plans page to sign up.
How easy is that? You can sign up here.
2. Journey to the Cross – Daily Readings for Lent, compiled and published in e-book form by The Gospel Coalition. This download is FREE and can be opened on a variety of readers. Click here for the book.
3. The Bible. There are a ton of wonderful resources that will help turn our hearts toward the cross – but the most vibrant one remains God’s rich Word. Pray and ponder your way through the book of John or Matthew or Mark or Luke during this season. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your Teacher and get to know your Savior more intimately by following in His footsteps over the next month and a half. This post will give you a jump start and help in How to Study the Bible. 🙂
A blessed season of the Cross to each of you~