Lent Has Brought Us To This Maundy Thursday Prayer

Maundy Thursday Chalkboard Prayer Vigil

Every year, on this day, Maundy Thursday, we come to the Lord in prayer, as Jesus did with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. On that night, Jesus asked his disciples to watch and pray… because our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak (Matthew 26:36-46), and then Jesus was betrayed by one of his own inner circle friends. Every year at our church is slightly different, but each year, this evening is set aside for prayer, the Lord’s supper, and meditation on what our Lord went through on Good Friday. I love that image above from last year (see also Messages from the Heart to God in Chalk Board Prayers :: Photos) where everyone wrote their prayers in chalk as they moved through the night.

I looked back over and read some of my journal entries from that night a few years ago, and it’s amazing what that great spiritual discipline of meditation can do for the soul.  In my entry from 2009 I wrote this sentence after being there for an hour or so.

It is almost impossible to wrap your mind around what everything here tonight represents in history. I understand nothing, but I love what I don’t understand.

There are only a few more days of Lent for 2012, today being Day 44 (if you count Sunday’s), and our reading today came from the Book of Common Prayer (only $2.99 on Kindle by the way). Something I don’t get a chance to read all that often, but love its wisdom.

Almighty God, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

May that be the prayer for today.

Ash Wednesday Breaking Routines with a Lenten Reader

It’s already that time of year, Lent is here. Today is Ash Wednesday (see also history), marking the beginning of the season of Lent, which then takes us to the Passion and into Easter. There are many things our church does that I really like and producing a Lenten Reader for the past few years is one of them. It is such a great tool, especially how we use it in our particular church, where it ties each day of the week to the message being taught on Sunday.

If your church doesn’t put out a Lenten Reader there are plenty of other options, YouVersion has two great Lenten Reader plans, Lent For Everyone and 40 Days of Lent. A Lenten reader is more than just a daily devotional, it is intended to be a meditation, a call, to pull us out of our daily routine and refocus our lives back to Christ and His sacrifice. Lent is more than a time of self-denial, it is a time we can use to get back to the spiritual disciplines like worship, confession, meditation, fasting, study, and prayer.

In our culture of busyness to excess, these disciplines become the most expendable. When time is short, these are either the first to go, or denied their proper place at all, and a Lenten Reader is a great way to pull ourselves back into the fold. Our American culture seems to have no problem celebrating the over indulgence of Fat-Tuesday, (see a great post by Beeson titled, Fat Tuesday And We’re Running Out of Options) but there is rarely a mention of the ashes of repentance on Wednesday. Ultimately, even though the world may not take notice, we do, and we look through this season of Lent, and the next 47 days, to celebrating the greatest event even known to history, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Are We Using Our Passions for a Greater Faith Purpose :: Part 1

Encounter at Auburn University

Encounter at Auburn University

There have been several posts over the last few weeks about this subject and I will have to address it in more detail in the upcoming weeks, but for now, I will just ask the same question that Brian asked in his post Your passion, which was basically a response to Tony Morgan’s post (Resign Today!) and John Piper’s recent book, Don’t Waste Your Life, do we use our passions for a purpose?

The photo below reminds me of how many people really do pursue their passions.  Brian lead worship at Encounter last week in his usual passionate way, and I took this photo of Jak that night, who is always passionate about his music, and yesterday I was able to join in on a photo shoot with Jäk in Birmingham (more on that in an upcoming post) with photographer Stephen Devires.

The context of the other posts were more in line with your career path or if your passions and work line up with each other, and if they don’t, they should, so basically do something about the situation.  It is a simple thing to say, if you don’t like your job or if you are not passionate about what you do, quit.  It is not such a simple thing to actually do, or is it?

I can think back to all the jobs I have had over my lifetime, going all the way back to when my friends and I would pull golf balls out of the lakes on a golf course, clean them up, then sell them back to the golfers who just lost them.  That was fun, it was certainly profitable, and I was passionate about my work.  Being 14-15 years old and making money from what felt like was something fun was great, and certainly didn’t seem like “work”.

There were many many many others jobs of course that I couldn’t stand and problem is, eventually, you probably will quit doing what you are doing (or change something) if you are not passionate about whatever it is you are doing.  That is, unless of course you are content with living in the box and as Craig Groeschel put it at the Catalyst Conference (see The Speakers at Catalyst08 Conference from Thrusday // Catalyst Photos to see if you think he looks passionate about what he does), unless you want to just keep working for that boat or car, then die.

Some jobs I was passionate about when they started and not so much down the road, but either way, I would generally not stay with a job too long without passion for the work.  I have a degree in Accounting but would rather make nothing as a photographer than a bunch as a CPA in an account firm (nothing against that of course, just not my thing).

As far as Brian goes (since he started this), all you have to do is read Brian’s blog for a few posts and you can determine what he is passionate about without even asking him.  Serving the Lord, his music, and his wife, and essentially, that is what he gets paid to do.  To lead people in serving the Lord, through music while being the best husband he can be.  I can really connect with that because mine are very similar, just exchange the musician for photographer… but… there is a difference in being passionate about something, and being able to earn a living at what you are passionate about doing.

Is this a rare thing? I think it is, but the scale is different for everyone?  If you are passionate about money like a Donald Trump, you probably aren’t going to be happy with a career with a non-profit organization.   Brian is lucky, he is doing what he loves and he is able to earn a living doing it, but he didn’t always get paid to lead worship and I am guessing that Groeschel didn’t always get paid to speak at conferences either.  One of the best blog posts I have read lately about these issues is from Seth Godin called Maybe you can’t make money doing what you love, but his blog is filled with great content just like this.

Sometimes we have to just keep cranking away while we wait for our passions to meet up with our careers or pursue our passions on the side.  I am passionate about not pursuing my passions on the sidelines.