Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 20- A Day of Fasting

When we think of fasting in this 21st century world we most often think of not eating.  And that is still a very valid fast, if you understand why it is a spiritual exercise and not just a form of dieting.  But today I want to challenge you to a deeper fast- if only for one day.  I have some suggestions for you, and I would like to encourage you to pick one for tomorrow.  Make April Fool's Day a holy day this year.  Be a fool for Christ.  Choose one or more of the following:
  • Give up your favorite beverage from sunrise until bedtime.  Every time you think about drinking it, pray instead- asking God to give you strength is all things.
  • Try spending a day without one piece of technology.  Be it your phone, I-Pod, computer, I-Pad or whatever- just let it go for one day.  Use the time you will suddenly have on your hands ways you could spend more time with God.
  • Leave the television off for a day.  Some of you will be amazed at how much time you have.  Read Matthew 5:1-8 and write down what you learn about taking time for the things of God.
  • What is it you need to give up most to improve your relationship with God?  Do you have a habit or addiction (smoking, anger, language, greed) that you need to get rid of?  Start by letting go for one day.  Write down what it would feel like to be free of your issue, even if just for one day.
So there you go.  Take part in this one day fast.  Find sanctuary in the arms of a God who loves you so much He sent his only Son to die for you, and who wants to spend time with you.  Blessing to you!

He Is Risen!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 19- Guest Post From Tracee Persiko

Today's guest blogger is Tracee Persiko.  I've never met Tracee, but she inspires me almost every day on Twitter (@TraceePersiko) and on her blog at  I was thrilled that she agreed to share with us here at the 40 Day Adventure.  Enjoy!

I reach for the alarm with a groan rolling off my lips. “Is it time already?” My routine sets in as I check my phone for unread texts and tweets. “I wonder what I missed last night,” are where my thoughts go.

When I get to work, I can’t help but wonder, “Wasn’t I just here?” Some days feel like Ground Hogs Day on repeat. The phones start to ring and the noise of the day begins. Each week I seem to find myself in a place of crawling towards the finish line of Friday.

Our world is a noisy place that demands out attention. There are so many voices telling us to do something, watch something, and work on something. There are so many things that lobby for our time and attention. It’s exhausting.

What do we spend our time on? If I was being most honest, sometimes I cannot remember what took up my time the day before, or why I even gave something my time.

The blessing of our energy is that it expires. But why do we go, go, go until exhaustion? Could there be a way to balance out life before exhaustion?

For me, exhaustion is a huge red flag that I have applied too much noise where solitude needed to be. It is not too long into exhaustion where my adult size tantrum sets in and emotions take over. Naps don’t seem long enough and excitement of life takes on groans.

Jesus understood the crucial need for solitude. There are so many places in scripture where Jesus is seen going off by himself for solitude. Who knows how long he spent in those places, but he took the time. I always wonder when I read about all of the things Jesus did on a daily basis, how he was not exhausted all the time.

Jesus valued solitude.

Jesus never wondered where he was going, what he was doing, or even what he was going to say. He spent that much time in solitude with his father to know. Jesus knew the value of an exhale. He appreciated the value of quietness and no noise. Jesus took the time to exhale in the presence of his father, who in turn strengthened him for what was next.

There is a stigma that comes with the word solitude. Fear starts to arise when people hear its name. The fear of solitude is isolation or loneliness. Sometimes solitude feels like we’ve been put into a time-out. The misconception of solitude is that it is not a life discipline, but a discipline of punishment.

Solitude is life saving. Solitude is a gift to our livelihood. We need it. We need quiet and separation from the noise. I am not even saying for an entire day, but a part of it. Life without the balance of solitude is exhausting.

If I am being most honest, I sit here typing in the place of post tantrum and emotional roller coaster from exhaustion. I have spent the day reading and journaling with music in my ears, and it has changed everything. I am placing a little more weight on the value of solitude in me.

How would solitude affect your life?

He Is Risen!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 18- Guest Post from Brook Teoli Phelps

One Our guest blogger for today is Brook Teoli Phelps.  Brook was a student in one of my youth groups back in Kissimmee in 1994-95, and we reconnected through social networking over the past couple of years.  She has an amazing heart for God, and I am so thankful she was willing to share with us today.  If you'd like to know more about Brook, you can see her blog at  or find her on Twitter (@Matt5verse6).  Enjoy her post on prayer.

 The Discipline of Prayer
It was during a seemingly hopeless, confusing, anxiety filled season of my life (James 4:14) when I truly learned about the discipline of prayer. For so long I just thought prayer was something you did at church, at meal times, and at bedtime. As a child I would recite the same, tired series of words before supper and as I dosed off to sleep. But, at least I was making the effort and going through the motions, right? However, I was without a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) at that point. If only I knew then what I know now...but all in God's perfect timing (Acts 1:7, Daniel 2:21, 1 Thessalonians 5:1).

One evening I went before the throne of grace and asked for help. I wanted to know where God wanted me to begin this particular "season". R.A. Torrey states, "But, when we really come into God's presence, really meet Him face to face in the place of prayer, really seek the things that we desire FROM HIM, then there is power." (HOW TO PRAY. Whitaker House. 1984. P.24.)

As God would have it my aunt and uncle had been "snowed out" of their home while on vacation and came straight to my door. Here was a mature Christian woman (who can pray like nobody's business) from whom I could learn! (And I got an entire week with her.) Praise God!

It was evident to me the first thing God desired for me was to be disciplined in seek Him, converse with Him, run to Him foremost (as a child presses into a parent) when I was in NEED of ANYTHING (Matthew 7:11, Matthew7:7).

Author Randy Alcorn wrote, "If God could not use something to contribute to the ultimate good of his child, then he will not permit it to happen." (In reference to Romans 8:28.)

Because of Jesus and His obedience to the Father in drinking from the cup, receiving what was due to me (and every other human being) until it was finished, I can commune with my Father, my King (and with Jesus as my mediator) any time I wish...every moment of each day if I like! Christ died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again!!!

So what is important when it comes to prayer? Wayne Grudem offers this answer:
“Scripture indicates a number of considerations that need to be taken into account if we would offer the kind of prayer that God desires from us. 1. Praying according to God’s Will. 2. Praying with faith. 3. Obedience. 4. Confession of sins. 5. Forgiving others. 6. Humility. 7. Continuing in prayer over time. 8. Praying earnestly. 9. Waiting on the Lord. 10. Praying in private. 11. Praying with others. 12. Fasting. 13. What about unanswered prayer? (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. Zondervan. 1994. Pgs. 382-391.)

"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;" (James 1:6-7. ESV.)

Pray hard.  He Is Risen!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 17- A Guided Mediataion

Today's spiritual discipline is meditation.  Read the guided meditation written below, or better yet, ask someone to read it to you. Close your eyes and soak in the the things the meditation asks you to visualize. Move slowly.  Seek sanctuary in what Jesus has to say to you in these moments. Remember this quote from Richard Foster as you begin: "Our adversary (Satan) majors in 3 things:

-and crowds.
If he can keep us engaged in 'muchness' and 'manyness' he will rest satisfied."

Get Behind Me
(A Guided Meditation)

Stop! Slow down! Take a breath.

Recall the events and activities of last week.

How much of that time was spent doing good for others?

How much of that time was spent doing things for your own personal pleasure or gain?

Now imagine you have arrived at a peaceful place. It is a place you know well, a place you love. You are sitting and resting. Jesus approaches you. He sits with you. He begins to list all of the activities and events from your week. He takes your hand, looks into your eyes and says "Get behind me."

Now think again of the busy week that lies ahead. Only this time, imagine that you are following Jesus as He leads you. Will your activities and choices changed? Are there things you plan to do or say that you do not want Jesus to see or hear?  Turn to Jesus.  Ask Him what things in your life you need to change so that you may follow Him more closely.  Ask for guidance and courage to follow the Christ. Ask for direction, that you would know what path to follow. Tell Jesus you seek to go where He would lead you in life. Understand that you cannot follow when you are leading...

Get behind Jesus.

Be still and know that He is God.

He Is Risen!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This Week- Spiritual Disciplines

This coming week we will explore some of the spiritual disciplines, such as prayer, fasting, meditation and more.  We will seek to focus our thoughts on Jesus as we draw ever closer to Easter.  In the meantime, enjoy your Sabbath today.  Rest.  Be still and know God.  Find comfort in the sanctuary that is the love of God.  We'll see you tomorrow.

He Is Risen!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 16- "Deep Like Me"

To buy this book, click here
The following in an excerpt from my friend Rick Bundschuh's brilliant new book, Deep Like Me.  I hope that this will comfort you as you walk this 40 Day Adventure.  We often beat ourselves up for out lack of faith, lack of commitment or failure to grow as quickly as we think we ought to.  Rick writes these words of encouragement.  Soak in them:

You are not alone.  Others of us have those same thoughts and feelings.

You are not that weird.  Our faith is often convoluted, inconsistent and conflicted.

You will make it.  You still have a long way to go, but by hanging on to Jesus, your faith understanding and and wisdom will grow, and yes, it is difficult and even baffling a times.

I would like to tell you that the journey gets easier over time, but that would be a half-truth.  At the very point that you acclimate and finally get used to the new spiritual altitude, God hollers at you to get and get moving again.

Take comfort in knowing you are not alone.  Get charged up knowing that God has more for you. Always.

He Is Risen!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day 15- Love One Another

Jesus calls upon us to love everyone, including those people we may not like very much!   1 John 4:7 reminds us that if we don't love, we don't even know God. Jesus said that others will know that we are His disciples by the way we love each other. So today, show love to someone with whom you have issues. Be it a co-worker, a neighbor, a sales clerk, a sibling or a spouse, give them a smile and friendly greeting. Wish them a blessed weekend. Show them sanctuary by showing them the love of Christ. They may not deserve your love, but that is the beauty of God's grace- none of us get what we deserve. We get love instead.

He Is Risen!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 14- Social Networking Act of Service

We continue Acts of Service Week here at The 40 Day Adventure with something a bit out of the ordinary.  Since you are online reading this blog, chances are excellent that you participate in a social network of some sort. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter or something completely different, you are likely in a network with people you barely know and/or take for granted.  Today, change that for at least one person. Shower them with love and attention through your social network.  Remind them all day that they are special because God loves them.  Help them to understand the the safety and comfort of finding sanctuary in the arms of a living God has changed your life.  Open the door to future conversations and relationships.  Contact them at least 5 times today.  Be bold, and invite them to join you the Lenten season on the journey to the Cross- and the resurrection.  God's love is all around us- even in cyberspace.  Share it!

He Is Risen!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 13- "The Least of These"

Jesus taught us in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least important people around us we do to Him as well.  Do something today to reach out to "the least of these brothers of mine."  Donate food to a food bank or a soup kitchen.  Donate clothing to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.  Take your used books to a local jail or prison.  Go visit a sick friend or relative.  Build sanctuary in our world by showing God's love to those who need it most, and at the same time bringing praise and glory to the Christ.  And read Matthew 25: 31-46.  It's always better to be a sheep than a goat...

He Is Risen!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 12- You Gotta Serve Somebody!

Today's Act of Service will give you a glimpse into the world we live in.  It will require a bit of bravery on your part.  Stop by your local grocery store.  Wait until you see someone who may need help carrying their groceries, and then offer to carry some of their bags.  Almost certainly you will be told "no."  They may look at you with fear and uncertainty.  In extreme cases they may even call for help.  We live in a world in which random acts of kindness and service are so out of place, so foreign to people, that they strike fear in their hearts.  Understand that it is only by living life with a servant's heart that we can change this.  Be aware of every opportunity to serve others.  Remember Jesus said if you want to be great you must first become a servant.  Keep trying and see if anyone will let you carry their bags!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 11- A Letter of Forgiveness

Many of us struggle with forgiveness.  Write an e-mail or a letter to someone you know asking for forgiveness or offering forgiveness.  It is entirely possible that you will need to write this letter to yourself, as we often have to let ourselves off the hook before we can truly offer grace to others.  Make sure that your offer is not conditional, but that it is made with your heart WIDE OPEN.  Offer sanctuary, whether it be to yourself or someone else..  Remember, there is nothing you have done that made God love you less- offer that same kind of love to someone who has hurt or wronged you.  Let go- and let God!

He Is Risen!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This Week: Acts of Service

For those of you who may not know, Sundays are not counted in the 40 days of Lent, and therefore not counted in the 40 days of this adventure. Each Sunday I will provide you with the theme of the week to come. This week, each day I will present you with a brief, simple act of service through which you can praise God by serving others. I hope each reader will find themselves entering into the sanctuary that occurs when we serve one another, and that you will use these opportunites to draw closer to Jesus as we continue our walk to the cross. Have a blessed Sunday everyone!

He Is Risen!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 10- Peter's Story (Guest Post from Jerry Godsey)

Thanks to Jerry Godsey for this post and a few more we will be featuring on Saturdays as we continue our 40 Day Adventure.  You can find Jerry's blog at or visit his church's website at  Thanks so much for your contributions, Jerry!

Peter's Story
My Lord is gone, arrested by soldiers, and I watched it happen.

Jesus warned us that this was coming. He asked us to watch and pray in the garden with him. Why didn't I? Why couldn't I do this one thing for the Man who has given me everything?

I tried to help Him. When that pig Malchus put his hand on Jesus I drew my sword and cut off his ear. His ear! I wanted to kill him, and instead all I did was maim him. Big deal.

I can hear a crowd chanting and screaming, so I head in their direction. There is fear and anger in these people. A rough hand grabs my cloak, “Hey, you’re one of His followers, aren't you?”

I pull away from him, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

As I move through the crowd, a smelly woman begins shouting at the top of her lungs, “This man is one of His followers, grab him.” I shout in her wizened face, “Leave me alone woman, I don’t even know the man.” I slip quietly away with her shrill voice ringing in my ears.

As I get to the outer edge of the crowd, I spy a fire ring near a gate. A small crowd is huddled around the fire for warmth. I look around the courtyard at the growing crowd. Is this where they have taken Jesus? I see a young girl looking at me, her eyes wet with tears. She stands and walks closer to me. She whispers to me, “You are one of Jesus’ followers. You’re the one who had the sword in Gethsemane. You cut off my Uncle Malchus’ ear.” Panic rises in me, and I look around for an escape route. Then her hand reaches out to hold mine. “It’s okay, though. Jesus healed him, put his ear right back. You are one of His followers aren't you?” I curse loudly, saying things about this poor young girl that are not fit for the ears of a rough man, let alone a small child. “I never knew Him. He is nothing to me. Leave me alone!”

It is then that I notice that the crowd has gone silent. The gate has opened, and there stands Jesus, surrounded by guards. As the sun begins to peek over the hills, a rooster begins to crow. Jesus looks right at me, and I remember the words He spoke at our last dinner. “Peter, before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.” One of the soldiers smacks Jesus in the back with the broad side of his sword and Jesus is roughly pulled and pushed through the crowd.

His words reverberate through my whole being. I gasp in horror, falling to my knees. Grief such as I have never known overtakes me. I run through the crowd, doing my best to get away from this place of my shame, my betrayal, my denial.

He changed my name to Peter. The rock. He said He would build his church on me. Well so much for that. You can’t build your church on a liar and a coward. As I stand on the hillside alone, I try to feel His warmth, His love once again. All I feel is cold. All that surrounds me now is dread and despair.

I have never felt so alone in my life…

That crazy woman is yelling and banging on the door. Shut up, you will get us all killed! John runs back to me, “Jesus isn't in the tomb, His body is gone.”

We ran like madmen through the streets and out to the burial tombs. There is a huge stone rolled away from the entrance to Jesus’ tomb. There is no way one, or even three men could move that thing. John and I look step into the tomb, expecting the smell of decaying flesh. There is nothing in this room but a wadded up mass of grave clothes! We look at each other and words begin to flash through our minds. “I will rebuild the temple in three days…” “I go to prepare a place for you…”

He’s alive! John and I embrace, screaming like madmen! Suddenly, it all makes sense. Of course the soldiers couldn't keep Him down. What is death to the Son of God? I watched Him raise people from the dead, of course He would rise again. We are REALLY going to do some great things now!

As we walk back to tell the others, I remember my defeat at the hands of a young girl, and begin to weep. That’s okay, I tell myself, Jesus is alive, and I will find a way to make it up to Him…

He Is Risen!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 9: He Will Bear Their Iniquities

For me, the cornerstone of the O.T. prophesies about Jesus is this passage from Isaiah.  Read it.  Then read it again.  Jesus knew what he would face at the end of his life on earth, and yet he came for us anyway.  This season of Lent is about preparing our hearts for the walk to Calvary and the resurrection to come.  Imagine walking in the shoes of Jesus, who, though he was God was also fully human.  He knew worry.  He felt pain.  And all of that was foretold by Isaiah. 

Isaiah 53:10-12

But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

"He Himself came to bear our sins."  And that is all we need to know about this season.  He came to bring us sanctuary in the arms of a loving God.  Remember.

He Is Risen! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 8- Prophecy in the O.T.

The story of Jesus does not begin with Mary's pregnancy or in a manger in Bethlehem.  The Messiah is spoken of quite often, and some of the most common references made in the prophesies of the Old Testament are those related to the death of Jesus. Among these is the famous betrayal by Judas, which is believed to be revealed in Psalms 41:9: Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.  Passages in the Old Testament are believed to prophesize not only the crucifixion of Christ, but also that Jesus would be crucified among thieves.  Other Old Testament references to Jesus' death include the following:

Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. -Psalm 22:16

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. -Isaiah 53:12

Interestingly, some believe that a passage in the Old Testament predicts the Messiah's burial in a rich man’s tomb:  He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. -Isaiah 53:9

In any case, from Genesis to Malachi, God reveals the Messiah to the Hebrew people.  Details of his birth, his life and his death are contained throughout the O.T.  And yet the people of Israel missed him.  They had all the information you could ever need to know him- and they missed him.  Are we any different today?  Do we miss the signs and wonders that are evidence of Jesus?  Pray that those in your life who have not seen the Messiah will see evidence of him in your life.  Let your light shine!

He Is Risen!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 7- Jonah & the Fishslappers

Jonah 3:10-  When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

I love the VeggieTale movie about Jonah and the whale.  In their version of the tale, you get a real feel for just how awful the Ninevites were.  They were fishslappers.  They literally walked around slapping each other with fish.  They didn't need a good reason- they enjoyed being evil.  And it was into that culture that God sent Jonah- albeit against his will.  He sent his prophet with a simple message for the citizens of Nineveh- repent or die.

You can read this exciting story in the book of Jonah in the Old Testament.  So what does it have to with Lent?  Simply this: God was announcing (not for the first time and certainly not for the last) that He is a God of second chances.  He gave those rotten fishslappers the opportunity to turn from their wicked ways- and they did.  The grace that is shown to us through the sacrifice of the Christ was shown to them.  And just as the Church is often suspicious of grace shown to real sinners, Jonah just didn't "get" how God could forgive those fishslappers.  Grace seems so foreign to humans; we don't really understand it and we seldom give it to others.  But as we see in this story from hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, God has always been all about grace for those who are willing to turn from their sinful ways.  And that love for us found its ultimate expression at the Cross of Calvary.  Thank you, LORD, for being a God of second chances...

There is pretty good chance that in the course of your day you will encounter a fishslapper.  Remember the grace God showed the Nenevites.  Remember the sacrifice Jesus made so that your sins would be forgiven.  Share that grace with your world.  Invite a fishslapper to join you in the warm, safe embrace of sanctuary in the arms of a loving God.

He Is Risen!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 6- Guest Post from Jason Huffman

Today's guest blogger is Jason Huffman. Jason is a prolific Tweeter, a youth pastor in Texas, and author of the blog Thoughts On Life, God & Ministry.  You can find him at  Thanks for joining us, Jason!

As part of The 40 Day Adventure, my friend Carl asked me if I would take an Old Testament prophecy about Christ and expound upon it. It didn’t take long for me to think of one. My favorite “prophecy” passage is Psalm 22. One reason this is so dear to me is that prophecy didn’t normally come from the Psalms. This was a book of poems and songs that shared what the writer, usually David, was experiencing. This passage was also referenced by Jesus himself as he hung on the cross. No other Psalm is quoted as frequently in the New Testament. In order to keep this post shorter, I will allow you to look it up for yourself. I was trained to study the Bible from a more conservative perspective, so I may interpret things a bit different than some. But old habits die hard. And some of the things I find in this passage do not require a ton of research. They more or less jump out at the reader.

If you are familiar with the events of the crucifixion, it doesn’t take long to discover the parallels between this text and the events of Christ’s death. Even the first verse, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” was quoted by Christ on the cross (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34). This was a common practice in Hebrew culture. The people were so fluent in their knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures that a reference to one verse often implied the meaning of the entire passage.

I can only imagine what circumstances David was experiencing that led him to write these verses. Was it at a time when he had many detractors due to his own moral failures? Was it a time when Saul and his armies were in pursuit of him? I haven’t been able to find out, but the parallels are unmistakable. Much has been made of the translations of this passage. Some scholars claim that Christian translations have moved too far from the original Hebrew, especially on verses that would specifically apply to crucifixion, such as verse 16 which says, “The pierce my hands and feet.” How could David’s metaphor be so specific as to mention the specific details of crucifixion? But even if the translators messed up the specifics of the passage entirely, a loose translation still points directly to the cross. Here are some of the verses that are fulfilled in the New Testament.

Verse 1 is quoted from the cross in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34.

Verse 7 is fulfilled in Matthew 27:39-40, Mark 15:30-32, and Luke 23:35 when the guards tell Jesus to save himself “if he is the son of God”

 The bulls, lions, and dogs of verses 12,13, and 15 are clearly portrayed in the crucifixion scene by the Roman soldiers and the crowd who implement the punishment of Christ and mock him as he dies.

 The dislocation of bones referenced in verse 14 was a common effect from crucifixion as the cross was dropped into the hole with the accused attached. When the main beam hit the bottom of the hole, the jolt often caused bones to be pulled out of joint.

Verse 15 makes reference to being thirsty, which is also referenced in Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23.

 Casting lots for his clothes in verse 18 is referenced in all four gospels, Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, and John 19:23-24

 Verses 27-31, while they were originally written about Yahweh, through the eyes of the New Testament clearly point to the status of Jesus, the Messiah, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All of the rich, the poor, and everyone in between, “will one day bow, and every tongue confess” (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11)

But as I re-visited this passage again, today, a new verse jumped out at me—verse 31. “They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it!” Who will proclaim whose righteousness because he has done what? I thought you’d never ask. This is where the groaning of David’s heart, possibly unbeknownst to him, cried out on our behalf! We are the people who were “yet unborn.” Those who have put their faith in Christ have proclaimed his righteousness to us! Christ has done it! He has taken our sin upon himself. “He (God) made him who knew no sin (Jesus) to become sin for us, that in him, we might become the righteousness of God!” -2 Cor. 5:21.

That is why we celebrate Lent. That is why we celebrate the cross. Because God did for us, through Jesus Christ, what we were unable to do for ourselves. Thanks be to God, for “He has done it!”

He Is Risen!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 5- Genesis 3

It is a story we all know, even those of us who don't read the bible or hold to the Jewish or Christian faiths.  We know the story of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the one tree God told them not to eat from. We know how the Satan (the deceiver), in the form of a serpent, tricked them into eating the only fruit that was forbidden.  This was the original sin, the fall of humankind.  Genesis 3: 8-12 recounts what came next.  The first couple heard God walking in the Garden (Press pause right there.  How amazing is that?  God was strolling in garden.  We gloss over so many amazing moments in scripture...), knew they had done wrong, and decided to hide.  We've been tryingto hide our sin from God ever since.  It was at that very moment that the need for Jesus to come to earth became apparent.  God wanted so badly for this thing he had created in His own image to be connected to Him.  After God questioned the couple about what they had done, he handed out punishment. He was disappointed, just as He when we sin today.  But in verse 21 God shows us His true nature. In the midst of all of this failure, God stops to create animal skin clothing for Adam & Eve, because they were embarrassed to be naked.  They didn't deserve God's help.  But they got it anyway.  And grace was born.  2000 years later that same grace would be wrapped in flesh and bone and come to walk among us again- this time as Jesus.

Today, ask yourself in what ways you are hiding from God?  Seek to discover the areas of your life where you need to experience grace.  God is waiting. You can find true sanctuary in his presence.

He Is Risen!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This Week- The Old Testament

As you may know, Sundays do not count towards the 40 Days of Lent.  It is is to be a day of worship, of rest and of contemplation.  This coming week our adventure will focus on God's plan that brought us to the passion story as it is found in the Old Testament.  You may think Jesus wasn't around then; you'd be very wrong!  Jesus is just dripping all over the O.T.  We will discover the very beginnings of our journey to the safe place of sanctuary in Jesus.  Enjoy your day of rest.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Day 4- Soaking In God's Word

Each Saturday during our 40 days together will be a time to catch up on anything you may have missed during the preceeding week.  We will also give you "something to soak in."  Whether it be scripture, a tale of someone who was part of the passion story or just some quick thoughts from another source, it is my prayer that these moments will make your Saturdays special.  

Today I give you scripture found in Psalm 116, verses 1-14. (The Message)

 I love God because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy.

He listened so intently as I laid out my case before him.
Death stared me in the face, hell was hard on my heels.
Up against it, I didn't know which way to turn;
then I called out to God for help:
"Please, God!" I cried out.  "Save my life!"
God is gracious—it is he who makes things right,
our most compassionate God.
God takes the side of the helpless;
when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.

I said to myself, "Relax and rest.
God has showered you with blessings.
Soul, you've been rescued from death;
Eye, you've been rescued from tears;
And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling."

I'm striding in the presence of God,
alive in the land of the living!
I stayed faithful, though bedeviled,
and despite a ton of bad luck,
Despite giving up on the human race,
saying, "They're all liars and cheats."

What can I give back to God
for the blessings he's poured out on me?
I'll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!
I'll pray in the name of God;
I'll complete what I promised God I'd do,
and I'll do it together with his people.

He Is Risen!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 3- Jesus Is the Rock

"Jesus is the rock and he rolls my blues away..." 

Today you will need to leave the friendly confines of your computer and go outside for a moment. Find a rock. Any old rock will do. Hold it in your hands. Think about how it feels. Think about how solid it is. Think about how old it could be. Try to break it; go ahead, give it your best shot!  Strong, isn't it?  Remember that Jesus is your rock. He is strong. He is the same today, yesterday and forever. He has always been; He always will be. There is no safer place to take sanctuary than in the strong arms of your loving Savior.  Understand that Jesus, the Son of God, came to die for YOUR sins, and that this season of Lent is all about remembering the sacrifice He made and the gift he gave us all. Pray that it is upon the "Rock of Ages" that you will build your life. Keep the rock by your bed to remind you each night how much Jesus loves you!

He Is Risen!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 2- A Prayer of Preparation

Today, find some time to create a safe and holy space- a Sanctuary- for just a few moments.  Settle your mind into a peaceful state with a minute of silence.  Feel the presence of the Holy Spirit- for it never forsakes you.  Then read this prayer aloud.  Think about what you are asking God to do- to be with you, to guide you, and to daily remind you of what Jesus did for you.  Then pray the prayer again- perhaps sharing it with family or friends this time.  Make this your commitment to spend these 40 days with the living Christ.  Let us pray:

Dear God,

Guide my thoughts and actions as I travel the road to the Cross over these next 40 days.  Help me to grow closer to Jesus and more aware of the many blessings you have placed in my life.  Challenge me to step out in faith.  Help me worship you with a deeper passion, and push me to love others as you love me.  Take me in your loving arms and show me what it really means to find sanctuary in You.  Thank You for your grace, your mercy, and especially for the gift of your Son.  Walk with me through this adventure.

In Jesus Name,

He Is Risen!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 1- Ash Wednesday

Genesis 3:19 "…you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Many churches all over the world will mark the beginning of Lent today with a service including the "marking" of Christians with ashes in the form of the Cross of Christ. This day, known as Ash Wednesday, used to begin a season of 40 days of deadly serious penance. It included a type of fasting far stricter than most diets today, embracing the absence of all life’s pleasures and enjoyments. We will experience some samples of that sort of fasting later in our 40 Day Adventure. There is evidence that marking the face with ashes began in Gaul in the 6th century and was at first confined to public sinners doing penance for notorious sin. The clergy tried to offer grace and compassion by submitting to the same public humiliation. For our spiritual ancestors, the people of Jewish and other Near Eastern cultures, wearing ashes was a sign of mourning and lamenting. Ashes were usually associated with sackcloth, which was the clothing worn to mourn the death of a loved one.  Ash Wednesday challenges us to reflect on our own death so that we can truly embrace life. The mark of ashes reminds us that only by a Christ-like death can we experience the promise of life found in the resurrection.

If you have the opportunity to attend an Ash Wednesday service and receive the implementation of ashes, them by all means do so.  It can be an amazing moment of reflection and connection with Jesus.  If you can't, I would suggest that you mark yourself with the Cross of Christ, whether with ashes or some sort of (washable) marker.  There is something cathartic about being seen in public with that black cross marked on your forehead. It screams to the world of your love for Jesus, and it stirs your own soul.  Whatever your situation, take a moment and remember what the cross symbolizes.  May the love and grace and Jesus wash over you as you worship.

He Is Risen!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday

Whether you know this day as Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, we all understand that it is a day of celebration before the traditional fasting and denial of the season of Lent.  You can read the history of the day in a variety of other places, and the way the day fits in to various theologies is not something I will try to explain.  Instead, let me try and give you a fresh take on Fat Tuesday.

Lent is all about remembering what Jesus chose to give up so that we could find sanctuary with God.  We will spend 40 days remebering His sacrifice as he walked the path to the cross and the resurrection.  But do we remember that Jesus left his Father and left his home in heaven to come be with us?  He left a place so amazing we cannot even begin to describe it to come die for our sins.  For me, part of the point of Fat Tuesday is to remember the unbelievable party Jesus left behind. 

So here's what I want us to do today.  We should confess our sins to God and repent of them so that our hearts are prepared for the season.  We should make our decisions on what we will "give up" during the 40 days of sacrifice.  And we should do something wildly symbolic of the party Jesus left behind when he came to save us.  Here is my suggestion: Find (or make) your favorite, most decadent dessert, and dig in!  Completely over-do it.  Share it with family and friends.  And as you do, remember this- Jesus gave up all "the good stuff" to come rescue us from ourselves by dying on the cross.  Make this Fat Tuesday meaningful in a whole new way.  Share a banana split with Jesus.  And prepare your hearts to follow Him to Calvary...

He Is Risen,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Liver & Lima Beans

The 40 days of Lent (and of our upcoming adventure) are analogous to the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting and resisting temptation (see Matthew 4:1-11). Many Christians choose to "give up" something for Lent as their way of seeking to commune with the Christ. You may choose to give up Starbucks, chocolate, soda, TV or something else that you feel is a sacrifice. Then at the end of the season we go right back to the things we give up. This is fine, but...

Last year on The 40 Day Adventue the scripture at the top of the page (2 Corinthians 6:11, The Message) guided us through the desert. The apostle Paul is telling us that Jesus wants us to live a WIDE OPEN life!  Don't be fenced in by the standards of the world around you; go for the gold. For many years I joked that every year for Lent I would give up liver and lima beans. And I never cheated on that promise. It was easy- I HATE liver and lima beans! This may seem like a terrible way to approach Lent, but in some bizarre way I was on to something. Liver and lima beans are not a part of my life. This year, in addition to whatever you have chosen to sacrifice, consider this: Give up something you never want to take back again. Give up your anger towards another person. Give up a sin that you struggle with. Don't be fenced in; don't think small. Pray today about opening up your life to Jesus. What can you let go of and give to God that you never want to see again? It's time to find Sanctuary in the arms of God.  Jesus came so that we would have life- and not just any life, but ABUNDANT life (John 10:10)! It's time to do a little spring cleaning...

He Is Risen!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


In 21st century USAmerica the word "sanctuary" conjures up images of majestic buildings and rooms in which we worship God.  But sanctuary has another equally important meaning. It is a safe place.  We have bird sanctuaries where it is illegal to harm our flying friends.  Churches and Christians over the years have often offered sanctuary to those who are being oppressed by the law.  And the ultimate sanctuary is the place in the kingdom of God that has been offered to us through Jesus.

Before Jesus, we were captives of sin, separated from God by our own actions.  Jesus came to earth and became a sacrifice that bridged the gap between our sinful souls and God.  A brilliant illustration of exactly what Jesus did for us is found in the Disney animated classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  If you want to understand the type of "Sanctuary" we are going to be talking about for the next 40+ days, this clip says it all.  We are all Esmerelda, bound in chains and facing the fire- until Jesus came to save us and offer us the sanctuary that is the love of God.

Remember, Lent begins on Wednesday.  Tomorrow I will offer some suggestions on what you might "give up" for Lent this year.  Join me!

He is Risen!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Almost There!

We are only a few days away from the beginning of daily posts and the start of our 40 Day Adventure!  I am so excited to have friends like Brook Teoli Elaine, Jason Huffman, Tracee Persiko, Terry Smith and Jerry Godsey lined up to write guest posts during the adventure- with more surprise guests still to come!  If you would like to be part of the team, just give me a shout.  In the meantime, get ready for this Sunday and a kick-off that will help us all understand why I chose to make our theme for 2011 Sanctuary.  I promise it will ring a bell...

He Is Risen!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Preparing For the Journey

Our trip through the season of Lent will begin on Ash Wednesday, March 9.  Between now and then I want to educate and excite you about what lies ahead.  Over the 40 days we are going to seek to rediscover the amazing love of God that led to his gift and sacrifice of Jesus so that we might spend both now & eternity with Him.  As we take this journey together, we will remember some great truths and perhaps discover a few new inspirations.  We will spend time with God in His sanctuary.  A sanctuary is so much more than a building; it is any place where we feel safe in the arms of God.  This can be your safe place to draw nearer to Jesus.  And we will engage in some of the spiritual disciplines that can help us "practice the presence of God."

Each morning until Easter Sunday there will be a new post at this sight that will hopefully help you keep the focus of the season on Christ.  Sunday will be a sabbath for us all, as they do not count in the 40 days of Lent.  Each of the 6 and 1/2 weeks will have a theme discipline; each day will include a challenge to "be still."  The weeks will be broken down something like this:

March 9- 12-              Laying the Foundation
March 14-19-             Old Testament Study
March 21-26-             Acts of Service
March 28- April 2-      Spiritual Disciplines (Prayer, Fasting, Meditation, etc.)
April 4-9-                   Make A Joyful Noise
April 11-16-               Acts of Worship
April 17-                    Palm Sunday
April 18-23-               Holy Week (New Testament Study)
April 24-                    EASTER (Resurrection Sunday!)

As you prepare for this holy season, remember this truth: We are a resurrection people.  There is no power in the gospel if Jesus is still dead.  I pray you will join me in this daily adventure to remember that Jesus lived for us, died for us and arose for for us so that we might truly know the Father.  Come join the celebration!

He is Risen!