Lenten Reflection: Freedom

John 8:31-36 (New Living Translation)

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

The season of Lent is especially helpful for calling our cravings (desires and temptations), and sin (missing the mark) into question. When we do not have the mind of God, we sin. We enact a way opposed to God, and his nature. It is sin that enslaves us. We become captive to corrupt desires, deeds, words, and thoughts. Sin is our Master, and we remain in chains.

What ungodly things are your master? The Son has made you free, and you are free indeed. If you remain faithful to God’s teachings, you will not be fooled by sinful things, and held in bondage.

Consider you sin, and your sinfulness. Confess it and Relinquish it. You have been set free! Live in that freedom.

Response Question: What has God freed you from?

Sugar is my poison

The past week has been a doozie. On Fat Tuesday, no less, I decided to stop having carbohydrates. This includes sugars and starches. This is no easy task. Apparently, I have a bit of an addiction. I’ve never had a good grasp on cutting out sugar for more than 2-3 days.

This week, I also got a head cold, and lost my voice, and hardly have it back now, six days later. And I’ll just stop there, with my woes, because it’ll get too complicated.

At first I felt crazy without my best friend, sugar, and kept craving sweet things: candy, chocolate, cake, pie, bread, you name it. But after 3 days it’s like my body adjusted. I put a tad of frosting in my mouth from my son’s cake, and it wasn’t what I was hoping for. Very surprising.

And I’ve lost 5 lbs. It’s not easy to cut out sugar. Sugar is added to bread, meats, and plenty of things you don’t expect. Plus, I love rice, pasta, and bread…that’s all broken down into sugar….like BOOM. For me, sugar seems to hijack my metabolism and make it really difficult to shed extra pounds. I’ve gotten rounder in the last two years. Too round.

In the U.S. each week, each person ingest 5 pounds of sugar (from various sources). Just read that again. For most of us, it makes us feel awesome for a short bit, with a sugar spike, and then there is a crash type of feeling later. This was worth the ride for me. But I’ve noticed having eggs and other proteins for breakfast keeps me satisfied and stable for about 4 hours, compared with 2 if I have juice or cereal or pancakes at breakfast.

BUT I LOVE SUGAR. The food fantasies were crazy.

This is the season of Lent. I didn’t give up sugar for lent. I haven’t given anything up for lent. I am trying to be more spiritually aware, and this time without sugar during what is also the season of lent, has been the one-two punch for me to stare my cravings in the eye, and not back down. I see that this sweet delight is a kind of poison for me on several levels. It’s sobering.

How does sugar play out in you life?
What sugary things do you like?
Could you give them up? Let Me Know.

How FAT is Your Tuesday?

First, a confession: I considered posting a photo here of a little person eating a donut hole here. This is to say, posting a visual of “a (so-called) ‘midget’ eating a munchkin®”…because I thought it would funny, a little funny…Yes, in two ways. But, I changed my mind. It just seemed like a bad choice. Some vertically challenged folks mightn’t feel respected. Also, I couldn’t find a good photo.

Today, March 8th, is my son’s birthday. Today is also Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday). It seemed fitting to send some donut treats for a birthday snack to share with his classmates.

Where I live, Fat Tuesday is celebrated as Fastnacht Day (pronounced: FOSSt-Not) or Donut Day. Potato dough is fried and served with dark corn syrup. After 3 Fastnacht donuts, and you might need assistance to stand or move. Plus, the local Dunkin Donuts shop makes 1,900 dozen donuts on 24 hour shifts just be ready. Don’t mess with donut lovers!

Will you eat a donut today?

The fact is most of us love the indulgence of Fat Tuesday (and other times of feasting), but pay too little attention to the times of simplicity, in the following season. I usually do.

LENT 411
In this particular case, a reflective time is set aside in the Christian calendar following the feasting period. Yes, it’s called the season of Lent. This year, Lent starts Wednesday, March 9th, and ends in the celebration and remembrance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (a.k.a Easter Sunday). This year, Easter falls on Sunday, April 24. (To find out the strange way they determine this date each year, go here.)

Why bother concerning yourself with Lenten season?
To show you are devoted to God? Nope. (God already knows your heart.) To please God with sacrifice? Hopefully not, because a pure heart and obedience is better than sacrifice. It’s not about proving something or doing something for God. Instead, a season of Lent can work well to prepare our hearts for God’s work. It can open our eyes to the greater Reality, as well as draw greater significance (for our understanding) in the sacrifice in Jesus Christ’s life of obedience and death for our benefit. This season, can also help us identify with and have compassion for the poor, and the those millions upon millions of humans suffering in our world, which often does not enter our thoughts nearly enough.

This lenten season can be a time of gratitude, and questioning our priorities and cravings.  So, what would happen if you observed the season of Lent in a new way, in some manner, this year? I think you could be pleasantly surprised.

Need an idea?
One thing you can do differently is simply drop by here and pause to read a lenten reflection. Once a week, or more, I will post some Lenten Season reflections to make better use of the season, spiritually speaking. I hope it brings an unexpected blessing to you. So, check back soon, or or sign up for post updates to be notified when a reflection post goes live.

But, first things first–go get a donut!