Ash Wednesday

What’s the difference between a flute and a stick in the mud? The stick in the mud is full of itself. The flute has been emptied of itself so it can make music….

In a world filled with clutter, noise and hustle, Lent is a good excuse to step back and rethink how we think and live. In a world of instant gratification, it’s a chance to practice delayed gratification — to fast — so that we can truly appreciate the blessings we have. In a world where virtual friends are replacing real ones, it is an invitation to turn off TV and computer screens so we can spend time with real people again.

It’s an opportunity to give up something that is sucking the life out of us so that we can be filled with God, with life, with love again.

Shane Claiborne, the Huffington Post

This year for Lent Josh is giving up news and I’m giving up Instagram for 40 days. It isn’t exactly like our other monthly challenges because the goal isn’t to be healthy or to save money…or even to blog about it. (Ironic, yes.)

Lent goes back much farther than that for us. Just as Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness in Matthew 4, believers are encouraged to give something up that will remind us of Jesus’ suffering and ultimate sacrifice.

We give up something different for Lent every year. I’ve done meat, sweets, and coffee before. I know it isn’t much in the grant scheme of things, but whenever I intentionally deny myself something I like (even something small) I can’t help but be changed.

Lent isn’t just about what we give up. It’s about what we start doing as well. Our choice to give up news and social media this year will open up free time to read, write, pray, and focus in our children.

When we give up something, we gain something. Less wasted time. Fewer distractions.

I can personally attest that participating in Lent makes Easter Sunday that much more of a celebration. Breaking the fast along with my brothers and sisters is a joyous event. It reminds us where our true freedom comes from. 

If you’re new to celebrating the tradition of Lent, it isn’t too late to join in. I want to invite you to participate with us.

Let’s take the plunge.

Let’s empty ourselves so we can be filled.

Let’s practice consuming less so we can create more.

I like to think that almost everything we do is either an act of creation or an act of consumption

Generally, consumption is a default behavior that’s easier than creation. If you don’t really think about your life and usually just let yourself do what you feel like doing, you will probably end up doing a lot more consumption than creation, which I believe may lead to short-term satisfaction but is ultimately unfulfilling…

I believe we are made in the image of the God that created the universe, which means that we are meant to be creative. I don’t know what your purpose is, but I bet it has something to do with creating something. We consume God’s creations, which inspire us to creations, which are then consumed by others who are inspired to their own creations, and both individually and corporately we become part of a glorious cycle of creation and consumption. Musicians inspire more musicians. Hearts changed by love go on to change other hearts. It all goes on and on.

Joshua Hedlund

What can you give up for 40 days that is distracting you from God? What can you start doing that will help center you and help you focus on your true purpose?

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