Throughout my pastoral tenure at Irvine Presbyterian Church I’ve put ashes on hundreds of foreheads. It’s both a strange and a wonderful thing to do. It’s strange to tell people, in so many words, “You’re mortal and you’re going to die.” Yet it’s wonderful to remind people of why they need a Savior, and to invite them to begin getting ready for a deeper experience of God’s grace on Good Friday and Easter – even seven weeks before Holy Week begins.
I remember distinctly times when I have put ashes on the forehead of a dear member of my church who was nearing death. And I remember occasions when I have imposed ashes on the foreheads of newborn infants. The point is that, whether old or young, we are all mortal. We are all caught in death grip of sin. And we all need a Savior.
Indeed, we do.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Forty days until the Most Remarkable Day in History. Mark Roberts shares meaningful thoughts on Lent here, from which I quote my favorite portion:
Posted by Steve at 8:07 PM
Baby Back Ribs with Lemon Confit Marinade
First off, go here to find a great list of the winners of the first awards for best evangelical blogs, including my friend Mark Roberts. Now, on to more cooking, chopping, and grating.
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one anotherand all the more as you see the Day approaching.After the last post, you should have completely messed up your kitchen counter, and possibly even begun saying bad words to yourself. Cooking is messy, unless you microwave your entire menu like this. Life is messy too. The church can be a very messy place, and so can trying to find a church that fits just right. Or is that what we should be doing in the first place? Where does the Scripture tell us, "thou shalt looketh for a great long time for a fellowship of saints, and not settle thee in until you findeth a place that is just alright in all things completely."
Right now, in our family we attend between two and three churches each Sunday. We are very religious! Ha! The reason for this is singular - we have daughters aged 11 and 14, both of whom are involved in good youth programs that nuture their growing faith. To our frustration, these youth groups are not at the same church. However, we are becoming logistical experts, with the carpooling, pick up and drop off prowess of FedEx. The spiritual health of our kids is our first priority. My wife and I have made the decision that, for this season in our lives, "it is not about us" - it is all about the health, growth, and development of our girls relationships with Christ.
That is all that matters. We are grown ups (well, I am most of the time). Over the past week, as I have reflected on all this, I have slowly become more aware of the big problem in this church hunt. Me. My judgmental heart, my longing for perfection, my baggage and frustration with the past; in short, my weakness. Perhaps that is why I have always identified at the deepest level with this verse. I need more grace, and I need to reflect it more in all I do, including my searching.
If you are interested in this whole concept of church, what it means, why it is important, take a look at this recent article in Christianity Today by Tim Stafford. This sums it up far better than I can.
Posted by Steve at 6:20 PM