A very kind reader of this website emailed me and shared that she was not able to extract the text of the Lenten bulletin insert in the article on them and that she wanted to use it in her church newsletter.
For her sake and for those of you who would like the text, following this introduction is the text for you to simply copy and paste into whatever publication you want to: web, printed newsletter or bulletin. If you put it on your website I would appreciate a link back to this website, something like "from: www.effectivectivechurchcom.com" but if that is a bother or would mess up your design, don't worry about it.
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Lenten meditation, clip art image
The less obvious and sometimes more costly forms of self-denial
Self-denial is a slippery discipline, especially at Lent, when Christians traditionally give up something they like to eat.
Ages ago when believers gave up meat, eggs, and milk, they were suffering genuine hardship because they didn’t have many other options in their diet.
Today, giving up a certain food is easy—there is always lots more to replace it. No meat, no problem. We’ve got fish and soy products, blender drinks and protein bars. In addition, there is always the thought lurking in the back of my mind that if I cut back on food a bit I might lose a few pounds.
There are other options for self-denial as we commemorate our Lord’s 40 days in the desert as He began His earthly ministry. To add to your commemoration of Lent, or to begin now or anytime, consider these disciplines, that may not be as obvious as food, but can be quite difficult:
We can give up our time. We can give up our free time and spend more time with Jesus, in His word, or serving others. This can be a genuine sacrifice, because for those who work in ministry, there is little free time.
We can give up control of our words. This is hard for me. I love to give my opinion. For Lent I can give up my words so I can listen carefully.
We can give up feelings of resentment. Yes, the work we do is hard and few appreciate it, but no matter how difficult our day, our burdens are nothing compared to what Jesus bore for us.
Spend time alone with Jesus, as He did with His Father in the desert. Ask Him what He wants you to give up. Obey Him faithfully, in secret, and your Easter reward won’t only be a few lost pounds, but a closer walk with your Savior.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Text for Lenten Meditation with the Runner
Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Cor.9:24-27
How easy it is to admire discipline in athletes, but how hard it is to practice it ourselves.
Lent is traditionally the time when we commemorate our Lord’s 40 days in the desert as He began His earthly ministry. Throughout the ages, Christians have used this time for self-denial to train their
bodies and spirits in godliness. Here are a few suggestions on how we might do that.
We can give up our time. We can give up our free time and spend more time with Jesus, in His word, or serving others. We can spend additional time in prayer for others.
We can give up control of our words. This is hard when we love to give our opinion and advice. For Lent we can discipline ourselves to listen carefully, to ask questions before we speak.
We can give up feelings of resentment. It may be true that no one appreciates us in the way they should, but no matter how difficult our day, our burdens are nothing compared to what Jesus bore for us.
We can give up a habit. Sometimes anger, bad attitudes, gossip or a judgmental spirit keep us from being as effective as we could be in ministry.
For Lent, ask the Lord to be your personal trainer, to show you what is keeping you from being the spiritual athlete he wants you to be. Age, abilities, don’t matter—obedience does. Listen to his voice; practice the spiritual training habits in the Bible, and use Lent as a time to become more effective in serving Jesus.
Run in such a way as to get the prize.