Why I’m dreading Lent this year

Why I’m dreading Lent this year

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Lent is this Wednesday. I know. “What? Already?” I believe my exact reaction was, “AGAIN?”

Every year it’s the same. I spend all kinds of time sitting at Starbucks with my laptop trying to decide whether it’s coffee or chocolate that will get the boot. “Hmm…maybe I should just give up Facebook,” I think to myself, washing down a bite of chocolate-chocolate-chip muffin with a swig of mocha latte.

Lent is like the Christian version of New Years Resolutions. You make up your mind to give something up or start doing something good, only to let yourself slide until you have completely forgotten about the funny promise you made to God 40 days prior. (Chocolate bunny, anyone?)

If you’re not familiar with Lent, it is what Christians call that stretch of time between Mardi Gras and Easter. It is a time set out in the church when believers usually focus on growing closer to God through Prayer, Fasting, and Giving. It’s actually a great opportunity to rekindle the dryness that periodically creeps into our faith-lives. Everyday life and responsibilities cause so much noise in our heads that we forget to focus on the One who is the only source of wisdom, comfort, and salvation. This is why I’m such a huge believer in the practice of Lent. We learn to slow down and establish a structure of prayer that is oftentimes missing from our lives. So why am I dreading it?

Over the past 2 months I my article-writing engines have been on overdrive and I have loved every stressful minute of it. I’m writing for and with God for you good people spread across the Interwebs and all the while, I hear my heart beating in step with each piece. It’s buzzing with excitement: you are doing exactly what you are meant to do. I have SO many ideas for how to glorify God with my writing and my blog.

However, Lent means I have to slow down. It means that I actually have to stop trying, pull it back a bit, and slow down so that I can commune with God. As much as I don’t want to slow my mad productive pace, my soul hangs in the balance if I do not. I’m like a toddler running out the front door and down the driveway before my mom has time to put a diaper on me — I tend to run way ahead of God’s plans before I’m ready.

But this relationship with the master of the universe is vastly more important than anything I post, write, plan to write. I’m hearing his still, small voice in my heart saying, Be still, Molly. Quit trying to prove to me how awesome you are.

I want to be intentional about this year’s season of Lent so I won’t be posting every single day, but only as the spirit leads. I will be listening for God’s voice and striving toward closeness with Him.

Won’t you join with me in search for an intentional Lent? Whether this is your first Lent season or 100th, let’s take Lent seriously together this year. Let’s both commit to being companions of Jesus, instead of competitors. ☩


I want to know how will you be celebrating Lent this year! Leave me a comment below and share what you will be reading/doing. Thanks for reading!
Your sister in Christ,
Molly

Reading the Bible: 5 Tips for Beginners

Reading the Bible: 5 Tips for Beginners

We all know the importance of scripture and how reading it should be a habit in our lives. Maybe you’ve tried several times and given up because you plain didn’t know where to begin! Even for seasoned bible readers sometimes draw a blank on where to go. Opening the Bible can be overwhelming if we don’t have a plan or know what we’re looking for. Here are 5 different strategies that helped me overcome the intimidation

  1. P R A Y. I can’t stress that enough. Remember that daily Bible reading is great – it’s highly recommended. But don’t lose sight of the fact that the purpose of bible reading is relationship with God. Only through prayer can you truly cultivate and maintain a connection with Him. Reading his Word is an important supplement to the relationship, but we don’t read just for the sake of checking a box off a list (that would actually turn this endeavor into something sinful because we would be essentially trying to “work” for our salvation. I’ll write more on that soon!)
  2. Find a good reading plan: There are seriously thousands, (dare I say millions) of reading plans out there: Here, here, here, here, here, and here – to name a few! They focus on topics like forgiveness or relationships, or on whole portions of the Bible like New Testament, or Psalms. Choose a plan that sounds applicable to your life at the moment.  Most good study Bibles will already have a suggested reading plan in the index. For daily use, I have the One Year Bible by Tyndale [1]. If a mobile app is more your style, download YouVersion. You can highlight passages, make notes, find your friends, and create inspirational images out of verses like the one above.
  3. Pick a book, any book! 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. This means any portion of the Word, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, will be beneficial to your walk with God. I have this annoying natural mindset of “all or nothing” which causes me to feel incomplete or unproductive if I do not read every single word from cover to cover. I have to constantly remind myself that through Jesus, God has already given us every tool we need to grow in Him and be holy. You may feel a push to read one certain book that looks interesting. Go for it! He’s not going to revoke my blessing just because I’m struggling to read through the book of Numbers. Which brings me to…
  4. Don’t worry if you can’t get into it right now. This took me a long time to come to terms with. So I’m elbows-deep into Leviticus and getting more confused by the minute. I’m not used to the context, making it hard to relate and even worse, I’m getting bored. Not everything must make sense to you immediately. The holy spirit is the one who gives you understanding and knowledge, a little at a time, and exactly the right amount for you. If you feel like you’re getting nowhere in one particular part, take a break and focus on another part of the Bible.
  5. Engage with it. Your Bible is not a library book so don’t be afraid to mark it up. Every time I read a passage that resounds in my heart, I underline it in pencil. The really big verses I want to remember get highlighted. You can get all kinds of fancy bible markers but any regular colored pencils or ball point pens will do (just don’t push too hard!) I personally love journaling. When I read something I want to remember, I will copy it out in my journal, line for line. I think about what it says about God, myself, the world, and how I can practically apply what I’m learning.

Daily bible reading should be as normal a habit as breathing air or eating bread, and I’m totally guilty of skipping it all too often. It’s not intended to be used sparingly like cake *nonchalantly wipes icing from mouth* Listen to what God says about the need for consistent study of the scripture:

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. Psalm 119:15

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8.

I hope this helps! If you’re still unsure how to get started, feel free to drop me a line, or if you know an older Christian in your life, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. That’s what the Body of Christ is all about.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Until next time, Molly

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Notes:

[1] God Sightings One Year Bible – Here’s the exact one I have. They also have more up to date ones in NIV or NLT, and a companion guide to go with it, if you like to have the extra help in deciphering meanings and applications.

How to pray so that God will hear us

We hinder our own prayers when we live blind to our own sin.

Every once in a while it will occur to me that I am living in sin. It’s an ugly phrase, and is often used as a condemnation or judgement on someone else. So what does it really mean to be “living in sin”? Simply put, it is when you deliberately refuse to repent about something, and basically pretend God will forget about it.  By extension, I (wrongly) expect my prayers to be answered my way and give no thought to what God might want for me.

For instance, time theft from work; gossiping about a friend; choosing not to forgive someone. Without a regular examination of my conscience, it is easy to overlook these things, and conveniently forget that as a child of God I am to live a life set apart for the Gospel.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking you get blessings and answered prayers because you examine your conscience. God owes us nothing. What he wants is for us to turn toward him in love and fear.

He can be trusted to heal us, however he chooses to do it

Like a good Father, he knows exactly what I need and when I need it. And sometimes what I need is for my prayers to be rejected.

Isaiah 41:9,10:
“You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, You are my servant, I have chosen you, and have not cast you away. Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

How to pray so that God hears us

Confessing our sins shouldn’t be something to avoid or dread. In fact, it is freeing. The way to get God’s attention and tell him we are serious, is to let go. Let go of whatever secret sin you are hiding away. God already knows everything, but he wants to hear it from your lips, and he delights and cherishes a contrite heart.

  1.  Ask Jesus to reveal any sins that would keep him from hearing your prayers. Repent of each one. (Ps 66:18 & Isaiah 59:2)
  2. Pray to have you thoughts bound up so you can hear the Lord (2 Cor 10:5)
  3. Thank and Praise the Lord (Ps 100:4)
  4. Listen to what the Spirit guides you into praying for, and don’t stop praying until the Spirit leads you to stop.

Lorica (breastplate) of Saint Patrick

Lorica  (breastplate) of Saint Patrick

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

Did anyone else even know this whole thing existed? Is everyone inundated with St. Patrick’s Day messages and totally over them? Is anyone even still reading this? Please don’t pinch me, my blog is wearing green.

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Advent devotions for 2012

Advent devotions for 2012

Happy Advent! I know it’s been a long time, but I have been thinking of my lonely little blog and thought I should start writing again. I am so excited to get into this! 🙂

Also, for phones and tablets: download Solid Joys

why? because…