Last week I wrote about how during Lent, there is a natural temptation to focus on food – what we can eat and what we can’t eat… what’s allowed and what’s not allowed.  And while it’s certainly important to follow the Church-prescribed instructions for fasting (self-prescribed is always dangerous, especially in the spiritual realm where it is very easy to deceive oneself), the goal is not the fasting.

Bridge to heaven

Fasting is a means to an end, but it is not the end in and of itself.  If fasting were the end goal, then Jesus would have praised the Pharisee and condemned the Publican, but instead He did the opposite (see Luke 18:9-14).

So if fasting shouldn’t be the focus of Lent, what should be?  Where should my attention be focused? 

I have been asking this question for the past two weeks and the answer has been overwhelmingly clear.  God wants me to fast, but He doesn’t want me to be obsessed by fasting.  God wants me to do charitable deeds, but He doesn’t want me to be consumed by those charitable deeds.  God wants me to go to church, but He doesn’t want me to be fooled into thinking that going to church means that I am actually growing in my relationship with Him.

All of those things – while important and essential to a life in fellowship with God – are not to be the central focus of this season. So what is the focus????

The answer is PRAYER.

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We began our exploration of what does it mean to be a “healthy” member of God’s Body on earth by delving into the topic of COMMUNITY.  Community is one of those things that every church talks about but very few church members actually find.  It’s one of those church “buzz words” that just sounds good and looks nice on our websites.

But is that all community is?  Just a buzz word?  Or is it something that we can actually find in our church?  And if so, what do I need to do to find it?

Those are the questions that we discussed this week in the 2nd message of The BodyShop.  We talked about what community means and where it comes from and why you can’t be a healthy member in the Body of Christ without it.  Check out the video above and hopefully it’ll open the door for you to deepen your relationships with the fellow members in the Body of Christ.

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Made in Heaven

February 27, 2015 — 3 Comments
This is a guest post comes from Robert Basilious – a member of St Mark Coptic Orthodox church in London, England who has guest posted on my blog before.  Robert works as a software engineer by profession, but his true passion is serving church communities across the UK with their software needs.  You can check out his work on his website, Serving Jesus.  And if you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.

marriage made in heaven

How many of us enter into marriage truly believing that marriages are “made in heaven”, as the idiom goes? We approach courting thinking we are prepared.

Education?  Check.
Career?  Check.
House?  Check.

We then proudly oversell ourselves thinking we can independently fulfill another, and conversely, we also seek fulfillment in another. Once we believe we have found that fulfillment, we pledge our forever-love. Then come the wedding, the confetti, and the bouquet toss. But sooner or later, if God isn’t at the center of the marriage, the honeymoon is over.

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“Lent is here, we can’t eat meat.  Lent is here, we have to put soy milk in our coffee.  Lent is here, don’t tell anyone that that’s milk chocolate, not dark chocolate.  Lent is here, we can’t eat Cool Ranch Doritos, we have to eat Sun Chips instead.”

lent special

For too many people, Lent is all about food.  “Don’t eat this and don’t eat that.  Stay away from this and don’t even think about that.”  Food food food.  For a season that is supposed to simplify our lives and our eating habits, it sure seems like we spend a lot of time talking (and thinking) about food.

But is Lent supposed to about food?  Is that what this is all about?  Or do we maybe have this thing backwards?

I’ve written before about how I prefer to think about Lent as a journey, not as a season.  A season has no value; it means something that just happens to be here today because the calendar says it’s supposed to be here.  No big deal.

Unfortunately, that’s how many of us approach Lent – as a season that comes around every year and we just have to make a few changes in our life to fit the season.

Winter season is here: put away the flip flops and get out the heavy coats.
Winter season is over: get the flip flops back and bury those heavy coats in the attic.

Lent season is here: put away the hamburgers and pull out the veggie burgers.
Lent season is over: get those veggie burgers out of my sight and bring me some meat!

Is that what Lent is?  Just a season where we change our diet and that’s it?

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If rain, sleet and snow won’t stop the US Postal service, then it certainly won’t stop us either!  We had a foot of snow in the DC on Saturday and that stopped us from being able to meet together in person; but it didn’t stop us from Church!

Because as we saw in yesterday’s message, the Church isn’t a place we go… the Church is who we are!  I am the Church and there is no greater honor than for me to say that and identify myself as a member of the “theanthropic” Body of Christ (big word explained in the message).

That’s the point of our newest series, The BodyShop.  We’ll been given a great honor in being part of the Body and every week in this series, we’ll look at a different aspect of what it means to be a HEALTHY member of that Body.

Welcome to The BodyShop!

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A Lesson from the 21 Martyrs

February 20, 2015 — 4 Comments
Today’s guest post comes from anonymous source who wrote this post because – in his own words – he felt he needed to “write out my thoughts on the kidnappings just to make sense of it all.”  Below is what he came up with.  And if you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.

RH-SaintGoMarchingInEver since the news broke out on Sunday of the beheading of twenty-one Coptic workers in Libya, there has been barrage of news links, Facebook statuses, and blog posts (sorry).

With the intent of informing myself, I’ve read through a lot of these and have landed in a state of complete bewilderment.  It’s a bit overwhelming.

How am I supposed to feel right now?  Should I be mad that the video is being shared so carelessly?  Should I be annoyed that the White House statement neglected to identify the victims as Christians?  Should I rejoice that the Egyptian government responded by bombing Islamic State targets in Libya?  

It’s easy to respond to big questions like these almost automatically (e.g. yes. yes. I don’t know) and to make them our focus, but I fear we are just missing the point.

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What a strange day!  Talk about going from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.

That’s exactly how I felt just two days ago after returning from Momentum 2015 (most uplifting, inspirational, exhilarating weekend of my life!) and coming back to hear the news of the 21 Coptic Orthodox Christian men who were executed in Libya.

momentum 2015

Highest of highs = Momentum 2015 300 people on fire for God, embracing our role as ambassadors for God, ready to influence the world for Christ and now equipped with three tier strategy of how to accomplish it.  BEST WEEKEND EVER!

I couldn’t have been more full of hope and joy and enthusiasm than I was on Sunday afternoon when we wrapped up Momentum.  But by Sunday evening, things changed…

Lowest of lows (Libya): 21 Christian men beheaded by terrorists execution style on the shore of a beach in Libya, all recorded in HD video (although I personally don’t have what it takes to watch it).

Like so many across the world, I was filled with feelings that I didn’t know how to put a name to.  Even though I didn’t see the video, the pictures were horrifying enough.  Yeah I was angry, but it was more than anger.  Yeah I was sad, but it was more than sadness.  It was a feeling that struck deep down and was difficult to put into words.

Then it hit me.  It hit me why this made me feel so bad inside.  Forgive me if what I’m about to say sounds insensitive in any way.  I don’t mean it to be; I just mean to be honest.

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