Monday, March 3, 2014

Lent: Addition or Subtraction?


Dear Friends,

Here I am at 6 a.m. Ready to have my quiet time with God. I’m an early riser.

Lent begins on Wednesday. Christians often give up something for 40 days to focus on God instead. But quite often our motivations are mixed: For example, we may give up desserts to focus on losing weight. Not that that’s bad, but it doesn’t advance our goal to grow spiritually during this special season.

May I suggest that this year, even if you give up something, you add something to your day? If you don’t already have one, add a devotional time. There is nothing like a focused time with God to strengthen you spiritually.

Now in case you’re not sure what to do during a devotional time, a quiet time, whatever you want to call it, this is what I do: I first read a short devotional to “preheat” my mind. I love The Upper Room, which is available online at http://devotional.upperroom.org/devotionals/2014-03-03. I am blessed as I read thoughts written by people around the world who share my faith.

Then, because I want my daily actions to be molded by God’s Word, I read a chapter or two in my Bible. Where else can you find advice that applies to your personal thought life, your public work life, your family life and your leisure time? I usually follow a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan to make sure I don’t skip the prophets. Yes, those books are tedious, but they are a valuable part of God’s word, just like vegetables are a necessary part of our diets.

Following my Bible reading, I pray. I love lists (just the nature of the beast), so I use a prayer journal. I am considering praying without my list for Lent, just to vary my routine. Whatever way you choose, take time to tell God what’s on your mind and heart. He wants to know.

Bible reading and prayer are the basic parts of my devotional time, but I also enjoy inspirational books. Right now I’m working my way through Devotional Classics edited by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith. This book contains 52 selected readings from the writings of great Christians, such as Augustine, E. Stanley Jones and Annie Dillard, followed by thought-provoking questions. I plan to work through one reading per week.

Yesterday I took 15 minutes to just sit before the Lord. Some days I read my Sunday school lesson or a book related to a Bible study I lead. This year I’ve signed up for “Commit to Live Fit,” a 40-day challenge offered by Susie Larson of Faith Radio: http://myfaithradio.com/2014/commit-to-live-fit-week-one/. Join me if you would like to receive a daily reminder to focus on God and fitness during Lent.

Whatever length of time works for you and whatever you do, the idea is to focus on God without distraction. I promise you that at the end of the 40 days of Lent, you’ll have established a habit you won’t want to break.

Leave a comment and share other ways you plan to deepen your faith this Lenten season. Let’s inspire each other!

Shirley Brosius

Friends of the Heart has two events this month:
March 15, 9 a.m. – Ladies Spring Brunch at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Mechanicsburg

March 29, 9 a.m. – Women’s Retreat at Patuxant Naval Air Station, Lexington Park, MD, sponsored by Patuxant Presbyterian Church. 

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