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Man Up… It’s Easter! How to prepare your heart.

Man Up: Use Lent to Prepare Your Hearts for Easter

I love Easter egg hunts and chocolate rabbits, but there is so much more to Easter. One critical part of Easter is Lent. Lent is the period of 40 weekdays before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday, and Sundays are not counted. Lent is often observed with an element of self-denial. I encourage men to lead your family by intentionally observing Lent which will be rewarding experience. Below are some steps to consider on your Lenten journey.

Reflect with your Family

If I don’t use Lent as a time of personal reflection, I run the risk of Easter becoming an excuse to take my suit to the dry cleaners and overdose on chocolate. By observing Lent at home, we can help ourselves and our families grow spiritually. Remember, our primary church is our home. I want myself and my family to understand that we need to prepare our hearts to experience the joy of the resurrection. This begins by examining our hearts for sin and gently explaining the hard reality that our sin is what separates us from Jesus. We are all sinners, and the only one to have walked the earth without sin was falsely accused of a crime (blasphemy). Lent is a time to ask the Holy Spirit to search us and help us clean sin out of our hearts and replace the void with His love and grace.

The observance of Lent can take many forms. There are several devotionals available to help families make Lent a meaningful time of growth and reflection. Speak to your pastor about appropriate devotionals for you and your family.

If your family is not in the habit of daily prayer and Scripture reading, Lent is a great time to start. Lent is also a great time to begin the habit of Christian service and reach out to others with our gifts of presence, prayers, and witness.

Understand True Sacrifice

Lent often involves sacrifice. Historically, the season of Lent commemorates Christ’s 40 days of fasting in the wilderness which succeeded his baptism by John the Baptist and proceeded the enemy’s efforts to tempt our Lord to serve him.

Many people choose to abstain from a favorite item or activity during Lent. The purpose of this is, in a very symbolic and in a very microscopic manner, allow us to identify with what Jesus sacrificed for us. When our children are deciding what to fast from, it is important to remind them that a true sacrifice must “cost” us something. This may be giving up video games or candy.

Read Scripture Together

Lent is a great time for the family to carve out time each evening to read Scripture. The Gospels are a great place to learn about the life of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope and life on this earth and beyond. John 14:2-3 captures this hope, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Christ separated Himself from previous prophets by His victory over death. The glory of the empty tomb is beautifully captured in Luke 24:5-6 by the words of the angels to the women when they went to His tomb the next day after the crucifixion. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He isn’t here, but has been raised.” Christ’s death is not the source of our hope. His victory over death is the source of all hope. It is the source of life-everlasting and the forgiveness of sins. Use Lent wisely to prepare your hearts for the blessings of Easter.

About the Author:  
Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is an international expert in wood science.  Todd worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Action Team Member of The Kingdom Group, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.

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March 2018, What Does It MEAN?

March 2018 – What Does It MEAN?

TRIVIA FOR FUN

In what year did Lent become part of the Christian faith?

A ) 1035 A.D.      B ) 655 A.D.      C ) 953 A.D.     D ) 325 A.D

D) 325 A.D
The Catholic Church began the tradition of Lent around the year 325, during the Council of Nicea. Since then, other Christian denominations such as Lutheran, Methodist, and Western Orthodox churches have adopted the Lenten Season into their religious calendars. Bonus fact: Lent gets its name from the Middle English word lente, which means springtime.

BIBLICAL Biography

Elijah

Elijah was one of the Old Testament’s greatest prophets, and according to 2 Kings 2:11, he was ultimately carried into heaven on a chariot of fire. He was also the vessel through which God anointed kings, raised the dead, and defended Israel against paganism. But despite having a powerful calling placed on his life, Elijah had trouble trusting the Lord.

Jezebel, who was Queen of Israel during the time of Elijah’s ministry, threatened to take his life after he struck down the prophets of Baal. Even though the Lord had used him to work great and mighty miracles, Elijah was afraid of being killed. So he fled to the wilderness and prayed for death. But God kept him alive and sent him on a 40-day journey to Mount Horeb. It was there, in a cave on the side of the mountain, that Elijah was forced to consider his fear. After a period of self-reflection, he came out of hiding and promptly anointed a new King of Israel.

It is inevitable that, like Elijah, each of us will encounter fear from time to time. The devil wants to overwhelm us with panic and he daily reminds us of our shortcomings. However, the Lord has sent His Holy Spirit to defend us against attacks from the enemy. If we hold fast to our faith in the midst of adversity, God will call us down from the mountain and send us forth in victory.

BRCLM Image Elijah

What Does it Mean?

Reflection 
Serious thought or consideration.

As Christians, we usually call occasions of deep personal reflection our “quiet time.” During those periods, we dive into scripture, pray, and consider our walks with God. Self-reflection is an important part of building a strong relationship with Jesus because it broadens our spiritual perspectives and gives us a chance to privately examine our faith.

Serenity
The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” A sound mind comes with serenity, and serenity comes through faith. Essentially, we are better equipped to face life’s trials with confidence when we press into God.parishioners. The crosses are bold reminders that “from dust thou came and to dust thou shalt return.”

Sacrifice
The act of offering something precious to God.

Lent is a period of profound sacrifice for many Christians. Those who observe the Lenten season typically give up something they treasure and fill the void with supplication. That symbolic act of surrender mimics Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross, and it is meant to bring a person closer to the Holy Spirit.

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