Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Daily Lent Prayer

It is very interesting, each day at the top of our Praying Lent readings there is a Daily Lent Prayer and would you believe it is the same prayer for each day? I know because, well, I noticed the pattern this week and then I looked ahead and there it is every week for each new day:

It is right out of Psalm 51:15: Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

Honestly, I'm not sure I get what is so "lenty" about this passage. It doesn't seem to be about fasting or the cross. I've had a few days to ponder the connection, and maybe in week 5 it will mean even more...that is just the kind of thing this Living Book will do. But here are my thoughts today: So the first word is "Lord" and I thought of how many times I open my mouth unaware of his nearness or not mindful in that moment of what he would want my lips to say. Sheesh, just yesterday I said some unkind things to a loved one that I had to apologize for. What a prayer not only for each day but all day...Lord, you reign over my words.

The next phrase "open my lips" frankly flips things the other way for me, and I think of how many times I remain silent because I'm afraid of rocking the boat. Or because it's just easier to cope and deny than confront an issue. Lord, open my lips when it is time to speak. Help me not to bury and stuff and avoid. Give me the courage to speak the truth in love.

Moving on..."MY mouth will declare YOUR praise". OK, so sometimes my mouth declares my praise. Sometimes my mouth declares the praises of men. God wants to use my mouth to declare HIS praise. To draw attention to him. To lift him up so he can draw all men unto himself.

What a great daily prayer .....still not sure about the lenten connection :)

If you are interested in learning more and actively participating in Lent this year visit this website of daily Lenten Prayers and Scripture Readings

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Written Prayers

We left the Catholic church when I was in 5th grade and it was a difficult transition. Catholicism was all we had known on both my mom's side and my dad's side for generations. I had two great-aunts still living at that time who were nuns. My mom's oldest sister is a also a Benedictine nun. She was so kind to me through this change. It would have been so much harder without her steady love. My brother was sad because we would often have donuts in the fellowship hall after Mass and our new church didn't serve donuts. Even as an 11 year old I knew that this felt like the right thing for our family.

In pulling away we let go of most of the church traditions I had grown up with, Ash Wednesday, Advent Wreaths, and praying to Mary, Jesus' mother. Maybe we thought that is the way it has to be when you leave something that is so entrenched in your family's culture. Make a clean break.

We were also a lot less likely to read a prayer that someone else wrote As if somehow a prayer that is spontaneous and unrehearsed is more heartfelt or more effective. As I was thinking about this shift, I thought of songs. How we sing songs all the time that other people wrote and they stir our hearts and we think things like: "That is exactly how I feel but I've never been able to express it." If songs can work that way I think prayers can too. I've certainly heard some off the cuff prayers that were dearly lacking. I have to say I've been enjoying reading the prayers from the Praying Lent website.

Things like:
Let us pray in quite remembrance of our need for redemption

Teach us to be loving not only in great and exceptional moments but above all in the ordinary events of daily life.

Let me be aware of the many ways You reach out to help me today and let me stand in awe of the power that You use in such loving ways.

Maybe in my mind I might not have put the words together that way but my heart is connecting and it is so sweet.

If you are interested in learning more and actively participating in Lent this year visit this website of daily Lenten Prayers and Scripture Readings

Monday, February 22, 2010


Growing up in North Dakota there were three kind of beans. Green beans, the only edible kind as far as I was concerned. Pork 'n' beans which made a seasonal appearance at family picnics complete with thin slices of hot dog. And the dreaded kidney beans in my mom's chili, they were the worst! That hard red shell and pasty white center...gag!

It wasn't until I moved to the southern regions of our fair country that I discovered there are more beans than I could have imagined. Red beans, Ranch Style Beans, Black Beans, Pinto beans, and Black eyes peas which are just like beans if you ask me! As it is with most things in life, foods that we are not exposed to as children can take a while longer to embrace. That's how it is with me and beans. I just don't like 'em.

Never the less, here I am searching for recipes. If you have any please send them my way! We decided to eat beans and rice for dinner as a family every Monday during Lent. First as a way to fast or abstain from our normal diet remembering all that Jesus surrendered for us. Second as a way to express solidarity with the poor. Knowing that half of the world's population lives on less than 2 dollars a day and rice and beans would be a decent meal for many.

It is too easy, especially as Americans, to see what we don't have. It comes at us from every angle. But on Mondays we hope to spend a little less time thinking about what we don't have and a little more time gratefully celebrating what we do have. All over a pot of beans.

I was serious about the recipes.

If you are interested in learning more and actively participating in Lent this year visit this website of daily Lenten Prayers and Scripture Readings

Friday, February 19, 2010

Isaiah 58

This passage in Isaiah 58 just won't go away! Ah. I read it and I think: I'm a nice person, naturally kind and caring. My husband and I have been consistent tithers for a while now. Our family serves once a month at Shoreline East feeding the homeless. We give financially to support several ministries. We volunteer hours each week serving our church family. Believe me, I'm not listing all that stuff to impress anyone. I'm thinking of all the things that we do and I wonder if it really qualifies as loosing the chains of injustice(v.6)? Usually, it just feels so ordinary.

I can get overwhelmed at times with the darkness in this world. People who think violence is the way to get their point across. Child abuse. Corrupt governments. Human trafficking. I wonder am I truly spending myself on behalf of others (v10)? Should I feel spent all the time?

In retrospect, when we first started serving at Shoreline East, it did NOT feel normal. It was challenging for my suburban self. Sometimes we feel like we don't have any money to spare but we give anyway and God honors our trust in him. We've learned to pray, work hard, and forgive. All that tells me we've grown and I can't help but wonder what's around this corner? What new adventure awaits? The discontent I feel when I read this chapter in Isaiah seems to indicate to me that there must be more. I have a few ideas of what that might be next and honestly, I know it will not be easy. I'm not all that fond of change or the pain that so often accompanies growth.

I think the most important thing Jesus is asking is that we so keep growing, keep giving...keep moving forward. Small things, incremental changes really do add up and make a difference in our world. It's funny how the things that originally challenge us can eventually become such a regular part of who we are. We do have an amazing capacity for growth! And I'm committed to it! I want to live in verse 11 - The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

If you are interested in learning more and actively participating in Lent this year visit this website of daily Lenten Prayers and Scripture Readings

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Traditionally, Friday would be a fasting day during Lent. Growing up our family did not eat meat on Fridays but we would eat fish...hmmmm....isn't fish meat? I remember reading some story of how that whole "no meat thing" came out of a church partnership with the fishing industry. Who knows? When I hear stuff like that I'm tempted to throw out the whole idea. But we are going to press through. We decided that we would give up meat at our Monday dinners because our family is typically together on that day. My husband works almost every Friday between now and Easter and we wanted to have a shared experience with our children.

I've also made a personal decision to give up two favorites, my friends Sweet and Salty. So no candy, chocolate or chips for me, and let's face it a latte is like candy for grown ups! I haven't done a lot of fasting in my life but have found it very useful. I see it as a way to cut through the static of life and really tune in to God. I love this passage from Job 23:12 in the Amplified Bible I have not gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed and treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. So when I feel hungry I need to say "Lord you are Living Water you are the Bread of Life, let me hunger and thirst for you! When am craving a marble mocha macchiato I will remember Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Then, I have to take the time to stop and listen to the words He will speak.

There is great precedence for fasting in the Bible. The Hebrew children had regular days of fasting, the New Testament believers fasted, Jesus fasted. I don't see it as penance or punishment. It has to be about more than just giving things up, it has to be about the heart! Here are some deeper insights from the Bible:

Joel 2: 12 -13"Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning."Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

Isaiah 58:6-7 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

There is a much bigger picture than just going without, I look forward to seeing how it will unfold for our family

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

By Your Spirit

Today we pray that everything we do begin with God's inspiration, continue with his help and come to completion with his guidance. Such a great prayer as we consider how we will observe lent with our family.

I know it's not an accident that I read Glenn's blog on Tuesday and that I found the Praying Lent website, I feel like it is God breathed. But honestly I can slip so easily into gut this out and make it happen, today's prayer reminded me of God's message in Zech 4: 6 and I paraphrase: 'Not by Lynn's might nor by Lynn's power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty. I'm trusting the Holy Spirit to lead each step and praying that I'll really slow down and listen and soak in what he will say to us in this season. It is easier for me to "do" than to fully experience for myself.

We have some ideas and plans to do things we've never done before as a family and I know we will need God's help on the journey to see those things actually take place. That brings to mind Phil 4:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. If I can believe that God began this then I can trust that he will see it through. I know that if I trust him and lay down my agenda, otherwise known as surrender, there will be beauty and not striving.

It's funny how I can move so quickly from "I really want to soak in and draw near" to "I should blog everyday and share and...and...get far to busy to sit and soak". Oh me! Pull back the reins on Lynn's work, relax and let God work!

If you are interested in learning more and actively participating in Lent this year visit this website of daily Lenten Prayers and Scripture Readings

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ash Wednesday

I went to James Avery in December and bought my husband a beautiful (but manly) cross necklace for Christmas. Not because he wanted a piece of jewelry, not because he liked the idea of people seeing him wear a cross, but because he wanted something tangible that he could put on each morning and remember. Remember that Jesus' brutal suffering and death on a cursed cross was for HIM. It was for all of us. He had never sinned, but became sin so that WE could become righteous. It's the great exchange.

All around the world today, Christians will attend church services and leave with an ashen cross on their forehead. I can remember doing it as a child. I won't have ashes on my forehead today. But I am wearing the cross necklace my brother and sister-in-law gave me for my birthday. Not because it matches my outfit, but so I can remember too.

This Lent, I want to enter the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus more fully. To remember how much my life needed redeeming and how completely lost I am without a Saviour!

2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain-- for He says, AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU." Behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION"

If you are interested in learning more and actively participating in Lent this year visit this website of daily Lenten Prayers and Scripture Readings

Fat Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday, a fact that would have totally swept by me if it wasn't for Glenn Packiam and the blog post Why I'm Observing Lent This Year that was waiting in my inbox this morning.

Thank you Glenn! Quoting here on the purpose of Lent:

"It is a way to "know Christ in the fellowship of His sufferings"(Phil. 3:10-11), to share in it with Him, so that we might experience the life, the resurrection, of Easter in a fresh way. It is a way of preparing us to live in perpetual Easter-- the life of Christ springing up anew in us as we lay down and let go of control and selfishness. "

So, today we feast! Grateful for every blessing of abundance God has so generously poured out.

Then for the next 40 days leading up to Easter (excluding Sundays) we fast, abstain, pray and remember the amazing sacrifice our Beautiful Saviour made, the great price he paid, the blood that was shed for you and me.

If you are interested in learning more and actively participating in Lent this year I found a website with daily Lenten Prayers and Scripture Readings

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Immeasurable God

"The Bible's foundational idea is that an immeasurable God created humanity and everything else that can be measured. How can the finite begin to fully comprehend the infinite? Truth comes as God reveals it to His creation, man." David Joel Hamilton
Our God is immeasurable. It's funny when you think of all the terms of measurement we use to quantify our world. Centimeters. Grams. Miles. Tons. Lightyears. Humans revolve around this quest to conquer and measure. To explore and map out new realms. I love how God so gently and eloquently lets us know that He defies quantification.

For beginners there is Isaiah 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways". That ought to clue us in.

Then there are the awesome conversations in Job including these questions in Job 11:7 "Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? Can you hear the "I dare you to try tone" in that passage?

These are some of my favorites because I just love the paradoxical language:

Psalm 145:3 Great is the Lord and highly to be praised; and His greatness is [so vast and deep as to be] unsearchable. We say He is great. That much we know, and yet simultaneously this greatness is too immense for us.

Isaiah 40:28 Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. Have you never understood the depths of his understanding? Well, no. Is that something I should I be able to do?

It is almost like God is saying, hit me with your best shot. Bring your rulers, your scales, your scientific calculators and just try to measure me. Given all the exceptions to almost every rule, who would want a God that fits into a formula? Who needs peace that makes sense? (Phil 4:7)

One last passage to ponder from Ephesians 3: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

To KNOW this love that surpasses KNOWLEDGE. Paul was a poet. How can we do that? I'm not sure but Paul prayed that we would. He prayed that we would have power...strength to grasp...spiritual muscles to reach out and hold on to the truth of this amazing love in all it's dimensions. Recently Patsy Cameneti drew my attention to this passage and to the word "together" suggesting that there are some aspects of this amazing love we only understand in the context of community.

Here we are like curious children, seeking to know him. It is an endless quest to exhaust the infinite. God delights in revealing himself to us, but there is always more, isn't there? The amazing part is that even in our falling short we still come out enriched and enlightened and even inspired to continue to search out the unsearchable depths of our Great God. Ah. I love that!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Open Wide

Last month my husband and I did a cleanse. It was the first time we had done something like this together. We've been at Shoreline for 10 years now and slowly but surely Pastor Laura and Fit For The King is infiltrating our world.

It was an eye-opening experience at so many levels. I learned a lot about myself and my habits. For example, when my body tells me "I'm hungry" I typically reach for things like popcorn, or chips or a toffee nut latte. And well, that's "food" right? The hunger is quelled and I go on with my day. But the truth is, I really haven't given my body anything it needs to function well, no real nutrients, nothing substantial.

I see a similar pattern in my hunger for connection, for relationship. That is a God-hunger placed inside each one of us but often when I feel it stirring....I pick up my cell phone or I check my email or log onto facebook and I connect, right? I'm blessed with some great friendships and those connections are so very important but I feel like in this season Jesus is saying...nothing else will satisfy you....nothing else will fill you...nothing else will feed your soul like I can. Bring that hunger for connection to Me. I am living water. I am the bread of life. My words are milk and meat and sweet honey.

Psalm 81: 10 says I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. Open wide your mouth in praise. Open wide your mouth in prayer. Open wide your mouth with thanksgiving. Open wide your mouth with singing. Open wide your mouth in worship. And the Lord YOUR God says......I will fill it. Verse 16 would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.

Bring your hunger to the Lord, open wide your mouth and allow Him to satisfy.

He is the only one who can.