Lessons from Lent

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This may be old hat for you or not. I’m not sure. But stop me if you’ve heard some or all of this before: last year, I gave up only Facebook for Lent. This year, I decided to give up all social media. It turned out to be one of my best decisions ever. Although if I’m honest, I was being obedient to what I felt God was calling me to do. It really wasn’t my decision at all.

I don’t regret for one single second going without social media for those 46 days. I got in more prayer time, I read my Bible more, I read more books in general. Plus, I had a greater sense of peace from not being tied down to Facebook or Twitter.

I think sometimes in order to appreciate something more, you need to step away from it for a while. That was the case for me. I did sometimes feel out of the loop after missing all the news from Facebook. But I can always catch up on that.

Lent is more than just giving up. It’s replacing it with something better. It’s no good to give up social media if you’re going to fill up the time with television. Hopefully, you spend your extra free time in learning to hear God’s voice and hear His heartbeat and feel His love for you. Obviously, the best way to do that is through His Word.

I don’t claim that I was anywhere near perfect in that regard. I wasted too much of the time I had away from social media. But I’m not beating myself up about it. Instead I choose to focus on the fact that I was more discipline in regard to prayer and Bible reading than I’ve been in a long time.

I hope to be able to participate in Lent again next year. I hope that I can be free enough to walk away from anything that enslaves me and takes my eyes off Jesus, whether that be social media or TV or anything else.

Like I said before, it’s really not about giving up stuff or sacrificing what you love. More than that, it’s about prioritizing your life and making sure that Jesus and His Kingdom really and truly are first. Then everything else will line up and fall into proper place.

A Christmas Carol And What Came Of It

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This is not about how the 1951 Alistair Sims version of A Christmas Carol is by far my favorite and the definitive film adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel. Or how about how I watch it every single year during the Christmas season.

This is about how the movie affected me this particular year.

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First of all, the scene of the Crachit family talking about Tiny Tim after his death affected me more this year than in years past. Maybe it was because the deaths of the 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. The part where Mrs. Cratchit talks about how slowly Bob Cratchit walks now and how fast he used to walk with Tiny Tim on his shoulders. The line that really got to me was “But he was very light to carry, and his father loved him so, that it was no trouble, — no trouble.”

Of course, in the movie, Scrooge changes his ways and the that future is averted. It’s too bad that only happens in the movies.

But I love the part in the end of the movie when Scrooge is overcome with mirth over the transformation affected in his life from just one night. The best line in the whole movie for me is when Scrooge says, “I don’t deserve to be so happy. But I can’t help it. I just can’t help it.”

I know the feeling. Sometimes, I see the grace God has shown me and what I would have been without it and I get a little giddy. Not often, but when it happens, those moments are precious and treasured.

People who know the dark thoughts that sometimes cross their minds, who remember some of the terrible, stupid, awful things they’ve said and done, who wish with all their might they could go back and undo or unsay so many things, are the ones who truly understand and appreciate grace. People like me.

So this is the movie I’ll keep watching every year. And I pray this for you as I echo the words of Tiny Tim: “God bless us, every one!”

 

 

 

Thag You Very Buch

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“Then, as he said, the dwarves’ good feeling towards the little hobbit grew stronger every day. There were no more groans or grumbles. They drank to his health, and they patted him on the back, and they made a great fuss of him; which was just as well, for he was not feeling particularly cheerful. He had not forgotten the look of the Mountain, nor the thought of the dragon, and he had beside a shocking cold. For three days he sneezed and coughed, and he could not go out, and even after that his speeches at banquets were limited to “Thag you very buch.” (from The Hobbit)

That’s all I have to say tonight.

I have a cold, so don’t expect too much. My head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton and I can’t breathe through my nose. I think a good night’s rest will be just what the doctor ordered.

Also, “thag you very buch” for reading these little posts. At least that’s how it would come out if I said it aloud right now. I do appreciate every single person who reads these things when there are probably a thousand other blogs to read and a thousand other things to do, see, watch, hear and go to.

Hopefully in a a day or two I will be back to where I was before the cold. I won’t say normal, because I’ve never been that. So until then, take care and take lots and lots of Vitamin Cs.

Metro Memphis Memories

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This morning as I was getting dressed, I pulled out an old t-shirt I hadn’t worn in a while. It was my Metro Memphis greeter shirt that I wore as a part of that undenominational Bible study in Germantown, Tennessee. It’s been at least 6 years, but the memories of those days are still fresh in my mind.

It’s funny how random little things can trigger memories of people you haven’t thought about in a long time or places you haven’t been to in years. Maybe it’s a t-shirt or a bracelet. Maybe it’s something that used to belong to someone else, like my grandfather’s old tube radio.

As I wear this shirt, I am reminded of some good times and good friendships I had during those years. It’s highly doubtful that I will ever see any of those people again, but I’m glad to have known them and have them in my life.

I’m also reminded that life really is fleeting and transitory. A truer word was never spoken than when someone once said that the only constant you can expect in life is that change will come.

Of course, God is the same always. But so often people come and go, places change, and it seems that you’re standing in one spot while the rest of the world is rushing around you. At least I feel that way sometimes.

I’ve learned not to try to hold on to what’s passing or to want to go back to what was, but to be thankful for what is and appreciate the people and things in my life as the gifts (and not entitlements) that they are.

If any of you who went to Metro Memphis are reading this, I’m thankful for you and how you made that time in my life so special. If you’re ever in Nashville, look me up and we can meet up at a Starbucks and reminisce about the old days or even talk about the new ones.