Sunday, March 23, 2014

What Is Good: Discovering Lent

This year, my year of studying what it means to be inscribed, is bringing me to my knees. I didn't know what I was getting into when God laid that word on my heart a few months ago. He amazes me, the way He's tying things together - from Bible studies to scripture memory to my reading list - and bringing my one word for 2014 in a direction I never expected. 

Recently I shared how and why I'm memorizing Isaiah 55 with Hide His Word. I've read the chapter before, but when you're really studying something, you see it in a whole new light. A few weeks ago, verse 2 just reached out and grabbed me. I can't get it out of my mind.

Isaiah 55:2 "Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance."

Ouch. That verse describes me a little too well. How many times do I spend "wages for what does not satisfy"? How often do I chase after things that really don't mater, when I should be chasing after God? How much time do I waste every single day, when I could focus on the important things?

I can apply this verse to so many areas of my life: literal food (my eating habits, exercise, how I care for my body - a temple of the Holy Spirit); spiritual food (time with God, Bible study, prayer); daily food (how I spend my time and energy every day). When I look at it that way, Isaiah 55:2 really hurts.

All of this has brought on some major soul searching, and it's led me to something totally foreign to this evangelical girl - this year, for the first time, I'm observing Lent. Maybe not in the strict sense if the word. I'm didn't receive ashes and I'm not fasting anything, but I'm spending the weeks leading up to Easter focusing more on my relationship with Christ and doing an online study of Kris Camely's book Holey, Wholly, Holy. I'd heard wonderful things about this book. When the study was announced, I knew it was just what I need, and it fits perfectly with my one word.

On Ash Wednesday, I dove in - and within minutes, I was in tears. One thing God is showing me repeatedly throughout this year is that being inscribed isn't about some warm, fuzzy feeling. It's not about how I feel or what I think. In fact, the only aspect of "me" that's involved is realizing that I am nothing apart from Christ. I'm inscribed because of my sin, because I am helpless and lost and desperately in need of a Savior.

(Photo courtesy of Free Foto)

Jesus inscribed me on His hands, giving me everything - and I owe Him so much more in return. It's humbling. Honestly, it's made me realize how selfish I really am. He gave so very much, and I give so little in return. I make so many excuses.

I'm now in week two of my Lent study, and it's putting me on my face before God. I asked Him to reveal my sins to me. He's answering, and it hurts. I'm seeing myself as I really am. It's ugly. But God is also showing me the depth of His ugly, dark, broken heart, covered and cleansed by His unending grace.

Monday, March 10, 2014

That I May Know You

My husband and I love watching the show "Hotel Impossible." It's a reality show where the host - an expert in managing hotels - goes to failing hotels and resorts to help them make their business better. Many times, the owners are on the brink of filing bankruptcy, and the show is their last hope for survival.

On pretty much every episode, the host asks the owner, "Have you ever run a hotel before? Have you worked in a hotel before?" Almost every time, the answer is "No." The owners have stayed at hotels, they've dreamed of running a hotel, but they have no knowledge of how to do it. They know nothing about the business, and it sets them up for failure.

So many times, Christians do the exact same thing. We know about God, but we have no real experiences with God.

We don't take the time to know God, and it sets us up for failure.

It's not enough to just know about God. It's not enough to casually mention Him from time to time, but do nothing. We can't show up at church on Sunday morning, then ignore Him the rest of the week and expect to live out a strong faith every day. If we are truly following Christ, we want to know His Word, His commands, His ways - and we want to follow Him.

God tells us, over and over again, that He wants us to know Him. He longs for a relationship with us. He wants to bless us. Psalm 71:3 says that God is "a rock of habitation to which I may continually come." He is always there, waiting for us to come to Him. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - the God whose spoken word created all that is and set the earth into motion - longs to have a relationship with us.

That's my motivation for morning time with God. Are there days I'd rather sleep late, stay comfortable in my warm bed and skip my time with God? Yes. Are there days I mess up and miss my time? Absolutely. But I strive every day to get up early and spend time with God, because more than anything, I want to know Him. I'm not perfect, and I never will be, but my prayer is that as I spend time with Him, I will know His ways - and most of all, that I will know Him.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Celebration Giveaway

February was an amazing month for me. My dream of being a published author came true when my first short story was published in Splickety Love magazine. This month, I decided to have a little celebration giveaway.

Thanks to some great friends, I've pulled together an amazing prize pack! One lucky winner will receive:

A one year digital subscription to Splickety Love magazine, including the premiere issue with my short story, "The Love She Never Had"

A digital copy of God's Daughter by Heather Day Gilbert

A digital copy of The Disappearing Key by Wendy Paine Miller

A digital copy of Elderberry Croft by Becky Doughty

If you love great Christian fiction, you will love this prize pack! The giveaway is open for one week. Just leave a comment to be entered - and check out several easy ways to earn more entries:

  • Like Grace In Our Moments on Facebook
  • Follow Grace In Our Moments on Twitter
  • Tweet about the giveaway
  • Follow Heather Gilbert, Wendy Paine Miller, and Becky Doughty on Facebook
Just click on the "leave a comment" button below to get started.