A Season of Sacrifice

“Lent is a frontal assault on the false self, a time of dying daily to self in order to rise to newness of life with Christ.”~~Brennan Manning

Good morning! Today is pre-Friday, February 27. Next to last day of February. 32 days until Opening Day! Oh, and 14 days until my birthday. But that’s not nearly as exciting as it used to be. Funny how that works. . .

Today is Chili Day, perhaps one of the more important holidays we celebrate. Chili is one of my favorite foods. Ranks right up there with pizza and popcorn. In fact, I sometimes have popcorn with my chili! I think we might even have chili tonight. How long has it been since you’ve had a nice, hot, steamin’ bowl of Wolf brand chili?? Well, that’s too long!

I had several opportunities to exercise yesterday’s thought of inconveniencing myself. One of the biggest came at work. I’m not going to go into it here, just because it doesn’t need to be done. Suffice it to say that I had a huge “God-moment” at work yesterday afternoon.

Christi wound up not having her phone interview yesterday. Something about an electrical emergency at the building in Dallas, and people having to walk down sixteen flights of stairs. Heh. They are supposed to call her back to reschedule that today. She also got a “random” phone call from a recruiter looking to hire someone for Dr. Pepper/Snapple. How cool would that be?? Except that they are in Plano. Not so cool. On the other hand, it’s only eight more miles than downtown Dallas. . . so who knows?

My sodium challenge continues to be successful. Three days in a row, I’ve come in below my maximum sodium allowance. Unbelievable. I never thought I could do it. I’ll be taking the last container of that delicious soup to work today, along with another half of an avocado. I love avocados, and they are allegedly quite good for you.

(Source: History.com)

On this date in 1980, the Grammy Awards gave the first award for “Best Disco Recording” to “I Will Survive,” by Gloria Gaynor. As is customary for the Academy, they waited until Disco was dying out (none too soon, either, I might add) to give the first, and only, award for that category. It was eliminated by the next year’s awards.

There are 264 birthdays on the list on HistoryOrb.com. Among them are Constantine I, Roman Emperor, 272, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet, 1807, John Steinbeck, author, 1902, Irwin Shaw, author, 1913, John Connally, Texas Governor, 1917, Joanne Woodward, actress, 1930, Elizabeth Taylor, actress, 1932, Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, 1934, Van Williams, actor, Fort Worth, TX, 1934, Howard Hesseman, actor, 1940, Mary Frann, actress, 1943, Eddie Gray, guitarist, Tommy James and the Shondells, 1948, Neal Schon, guitarist, Journey, 1954, Timothy Spall, actor, 1957, Johnny Van Zandt, singer, Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1959, Adam Baldwin, actor, 1962, and Josh Groban, singer, 1981.

Adam Baldwin is the actor who played the character of Jayne Cobb in Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Oh, how we miss you, Jayne!


(From The Divine Hours)

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8
As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!

Psalm 40:11
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!
Psalm 57:7
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

“My soul thirsts for the strong, living God and all that is within me cries out to him.”

“Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought
me in safety to this new day:
Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin,
nor be overcome by adversity;
and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose;
through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.”

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. . .
Colossians 3:23

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:1-11

“Humility is characterized by an attitude that does not seek to exalt or assert oneself.” (In Touch Magazine)

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Dying Daily To Self.”

Brennan tells a story about giving an address at a convention center. After the sermon, called “The Victorious Limp,” the audience “rose to its feet and erupted in thunderous applause.” In the rush of gratification that followed, he says he had a vision of himself lying in a coffin. This caused him to remember another story about a bishop who was dying and lay in bed, “fully clothed in all his episcopal vestments.” At that point, he burst out laughing, as he had worn his miter to the convention center!

The point of all of this is appropriate, as the season of Lent approaches. Growing up Southern Baptist, I never observed Lent. I never heard of Lent until I got to college. Anything that even remotely resembled Catholicism was shunned by our little Baptist church. But the point of Lent is self-denial, sacrifice. And we need to remember that Jesus tells us to do these things in our closet, “in such a way that only your Abba sees and knows what you are up to.” Lent is “a season of hidden secret acts of loving-kindness.” It is a “frontal assault on the false self, a time of dying daily to self in order to rise to newness of life with Christ.”

For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Psalm 56:13

Father, as you continue to drive this point home in my life, I have to confess that it has been a long, hard road. Long and hard because I’m stubborn. Every time I think I’ve got this, another scenario comes along where I assert my own “independence” and my own “importance” and begin to insist upon my own way about something. And it never fails. Immediately afterward, I am given a good hard slap by the Holy Spirit, and begin to repent. But there always follows this tremendous guilt feeling, because I have failed, once again to live the life of Christ and exhibit the characteristics of the Beatitudes and fruit of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 13, which I read at least once a week, says that love never insists on its own way. Father, I frequently fail at love. In fact, using modern terminology, I would even say that my efforts at love are frequently and “epic fail.” So, therefore, as painful as it is, I ask you to keep throwing this at me until I finally get it. My heart’s desire is to be this kind of person for you. My desire is to be as completely selfless as is possible, to give up my life, my existence, my self-importance to the point that I obey scripture and consider everyone else to be more important than me.

I pray for this day. I ask for traveling safety, as I head back to work this morning, and then home again, this evening. May my work day be one of peace and grace, and I ask that I would allow your grace to channel through me in all things today. I pray that Christi’s interview will take place today, and have favorable results. I also pray that you give us wisdom when it comes down to making a decision about her employment, should it come to that. Let us be wise and not foolish, Father. Give Stephanie wisdom and understanding, and surround Rachel and Justin with your love and care.

I lift up a prayer for Terry’s family, as the surgery did not yield good results on his uncle yesterday. Give comfort to this family, Lord.

Your grace is sufficient.

May we all observe the idea behind the season of Lent, but do it all year!

Grace and peace, friends.