Daily practices for Lent: Ash Wednesday

I can struggle with Lent. What do I give up? What do I take on? How do I practice? it seems that my questions have mostly to do with actions I feel at times compelled and other times, if I’m honest, obligated to participate in. Often Lent is seen as a time to make a resolution, much like at New Years, and often by day 9 the practice has been forgotten and I am back to life as usual, but this time with a little guilt about not living up to my promise to God. I call this anti-Lent.

Lent is a season of preparation for Easter, a time when we, as ones who follow Jesus, seek to grow closer to Jesus for the formation of our selves and the transformation of the people and places around us. It is a time leading up to the most painfully beautiful and powerful act of Jesus, his death on a cross and the most powerful of all, his resurrection from the dead. These two acts changed history and have shaped my life profoundly.

In the forty days of Lent this year I am going to write each morning with a reflection of my own experience and an invitation to join. I’d love your thoughts on what you are seeing, hearing, feeling and learning during these days of Lent. I’d love to hear how you experienced the day’s practice so that we might learn from one another.

Today our practice is : Remember

Today, throughout the day take time to remember Jesus. In what way has he been alive in your life? How have you been shaped by him? Remember the story of Easter. Remember the cross. Remember the empty tomb. Remember and ask Jesus to reveal what He wants you to remember about Him during these 40 days. What invitation do you hear? What thought comes to mind? What scene is played out? Share it with us.

As you remember take some time to listen to this song and let the word speak as you rememberYour Glory/Nothing but the Bood

Pray: Father, you are good and beautiful and true. Thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus and for his saving work on the cross and in my life. Allow today for me to remember the story of your death and resurrection. Allow me today to turn away from the worry, wickedness and ways of this world and turn instead toward Jesus. Amen

Praying the Psalms: Hope

imagesDo not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
16 Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
20 But the wicked will perish:
Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
but the righteous give generously;
22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
but those he curses will be destroyed.
23 The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
25 I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.[b]
27 Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the Lord loves the just
and will not forsake his faithful ones.
Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed[c];
the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
and dwell in it forever.
30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.
32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
33 but the Lord will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
34 Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.
35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
though I looked for him, he could not be found.
37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
a future awaits those who seek peace.[d]
38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
there will be no future[e] for the wicked.
39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. Psalm 37

My beloved place your hope in me. It is in me that life is found and it is in me that you are safe. I will bring you life, life that is abundant, full and true. My love for you is great and it is out of love for you that I desire good for you. My good does not always match your comfort, but it will always lead you towards life. Delight in me. Commit yourself to me. Trust in me. Entrust yourself to me. Place your hope in me. I am constant and sure. I am always present and always for you. I desire for you to flourish and to have the desires deep with in you met in me. When it feels as though I’ve forgotten you, delight in me. When it feels as though you are being destroyed place your hope in me. When it feels as though you are under siege remember I am your salvation.

My beloved, trust, hope and lean into me. I am for you and for your good. Believe in me and flourish.

Pray

Lord thank you for being my hope, even when I do not believe it. Thank you for saving me when I do not trust that you will. Thank you for wanting me to flourish even when it feels you are rooting for my failure. Lord, your character never changes. May I increase in my belief of who you are and how you are for me.

Forgive me for running to temporary things to fulfill, protect and sustain me. May I turn toward you and receive your abundant love for me today. Amen

Praying through the Psalms:Lord be my hope

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.[b]
4 May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
6 Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
9 Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call! Psalm 20

My dear children, victory is always found in me. Your victory does not come through your talents, behavior, giftedness or through your position. Victory comes through me, for I am victorious. When you are prone to place your hope and trust in  men, governments, powers and rulers apart from me, your victory has already been lost.

Trust me my dear one. The deepest desires of your heart are mine to grant. When you long and your longings go unfulfilled, lean into me. My everlasting care is great and is for you and will sustain you. When you lust for things in this world your lust will lead you to that which is empty. But, instead, when you lust, lust for me. May I be the object of your attention, your desire, your hunger and your thirst…. for truly only I can fulfill. Trust in me. Place yourself in me. Believe in me. Build your foundation in me. And I will satisfy you with the richest and truest of loves.

PRAY

Lord help me to believe these words to be true. Only you  know the deepest longings of my heart, the unmet desires I carry. You know them and often I feel forgotten by you. I confess I run to thing after thing and I lust after beauty, influence, attraction and the things of this world. Forgive me and turn my face towards you. Be the truest, deepest and most pure longing with in me.

Lord, be my hope. Amen

Praying through the Psalms:Turn towards Me, for I am the way

Image-1 4.jpgA psalm of David.

1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken. Psalm 15

My way is perfect. It will lead to life and good and abundance. My way is righteous. I invite you into my way, I do not demand it. Nor, I do not turn you away if you walk another, but I out of great love for you, I desire for you to walk in a way that loves with word and deed. I love you. I desire such good for you. I desire such good for all my children. My way is life and my way will alway produce life. When you follow the way of the wicked you turn your face from me and you miss the good I have in store for you.

You will not be shaken when you accept the love of my Son and abide in him. When your roots grow deep in his good and your solid ground is found on his promises. He is the truth that is the way to life. Follow him. He is the model. You are invited to good. Soak it in, receive it and live in peace. My perfect peace is experienced when you receive my love and walk in my way.

PRAY

Lord I ask that you would turn my heart toward you. I ask that you would give me the strength to walk in the way of peace and good. I ask that I would trust that you are the way that is the truth that leads to life.

Forgive me Lord for turning away from you and for believing that I know what is good apart from you. Grow in me wisdom, compassion for myself and patience with the process. Allow me to receive your love for me and may I live out of that love to life a life in your way. Amen

Praying through the Psalms:The Lord looks down from heaven

Image-1-4.jpgFor the director of music. Of David.

1 The fool[a] says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
2 The Lord looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
4 Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on the Lord.
5 But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.
6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge.
7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! Psalm 14

Grace is mine to give you. As I look upon you I know that you have turned away from me. I know that you look to other things to fulfill you and that you seek your own pleasure over my good. I know that your cravings while on this earth seem to rule you more than my good. I continue to love you. My love for you does not wax and wane. My love for you is not based in your performance as a human. In fact my love for you has nothing to do with how you live while you are on earth.

I long for better for you. I cry with you in the darkness you feel. I so desire for you to trust that what I define as good, is actually the good that will fulfill you. I will never force you to love me, nor will I control you to do as I please. I will only stay, face turned toward you, hands out stretched to you and words spoken to invite you to live in the way that is true that will lead to life. Trust me. Trust my way. I am your true salvation. I am your true life source.

PRAY

Lord, I am stuck. I feel controlled by the cravings of my stomach. I feel controlled by the thoughts of my mind. I feel as though I’ve become a slave to the vindictive desires within me. I confess that at times I do not believe your way will fulfill me. I confess that I want my way and am willing to step out of the way of life to be satisfied by the desires of the world.

Lord the desires of this world lead me to death. They entrap me with suffocating force and I am weighed down. Forgive me for giving in, over and over and over. Rescue me from my self and give me the courage to stand against that which seeks to victimize me. Be my source, my hope, my salvation and my way. Amen

Praying the Psalms: I trust in Your unfailing love

image-1-3-3For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me. Psalm 13

I know you do not understand my love for you. I know that you seek to understand it from human terms and with the same involvement you desire from your companions. I am ever present. I do not come and go. I do not hide from you. I do not hang you out to dry. I am ever present. I am with you, when you fear. I am with you, when you doubt. I am with you when sorrow crushes you. I am with you when your enemies have felt victories. I am with you when your thoughts run wild. I am with you at all times.

Be not afraid. Do not let fear get the best of you. Trust in me. Lean into me, even when you do not see. Believe in me. Believe that I am for you and stand on me. It may feel the ground around you is falling away, but as you stand in me, I will never fail you. I am your rock, the solid rock on which you are able to stand, though the tempest come, you stand on me. I love you my dear one. Receive and rejoice in me.

PRAY

Lord, I need you. I need you every hour. I need you to give me a firm place to stand. I need you to steady me when the storms of life come and go. I need you, ever present and always available. Please give me an awareness of your presence and a belief rooted in your son Jesus. Give me belief in your unfailing love, even when the circumstances of my life look nothing like it.

Forgive me Lord for building my foundation on the circumstances of this world. Renew in me a desire to be rooted and established in you. You alone are my rock. Amen

 

Praying the Psalms: God loves the outcast

image-1-2-3For the director of music. According to sheminith.[b] A psalm of David.

1 Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
2 Everyone lies to their neighbor;
they flatter with their lips
but harbor deception in their hearts.
3 May the Lord silence all flattering lips
and every boastful tongue—
4 those who say,
“By our tongues we will prevail;
our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”
5 “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord.
“I will protect them from those who malign them.”
6 And the words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold[c] refined seven times.
7 You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
and will protect us forever from the wicked,
8 who freely strut about
when what is vile is honored by the human race. Psalm 12

You feel the deception of humankind. You observe the truth arising out of the hearts of those who bare my image, yet harbor deceit, hatred and vile thoughts within. You feel the oppression of the powerful, who have sought after power in all things, reigning to inflict pain on those I love. Humanity rages, as their own kind, hurl insults and threaten with violence.

I hear your cries for help. I stand with the oppressed. I love the outcast. I hurt with the inflicted. In fact, I love all of those who bare my image. For every human, both the  victim and the victimizer, those who cry for help and those who desire power. The outcast and the one who puts up fences. The inflicted and the one who inflicts… every person was created by me with great love and all have lost their way. All have fallen short and do not taste the love I offer, not because I only offer it to a few, but because they do not believe it is real and it is for them. My beloved, receive my love today.

PRAY

Lord I ask that you would increase in me a love for all people. I pray that you would give me  a heart for those who are oppressed as well as those who oppress. I ask that you would increase in me an awareness of my own tendencies to favor one kind of person over an other. Awaken in me a sensitive heart for all those who bare your image.

Forgive me for playing favorites. Forgive me for judging and for using my voice to perpetuate violence of any kind. Turn my heart towards you. Give me a soft heart and moldable spirit in you. Increase in me. May my hands be emptied of self and be full of the love you’ve offered. May my feet quickly carry me to places where hatred seeks to destroy and may your love increase through me. Amen

Praying the Psalms: In the presence of darkness

image-1-1-3In the Lord I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.
2 For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
3 When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
4 The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
his eyes examine them.
5 The Lord examines the righteous,
but the wicked, those who love violence,
he hates with a passion.
6 On the wicked he will rain
fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.
7 For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face. Psalm 11

I abhor wickedness. I detest deceit. I will not stand with violence. I despise tyranny. I the Lord your God and good. I am slow to anger. I am mighty and righteous. I am full of grace. I am loving, holy and I am full of beauty. I am always moving toward you in my love for you. I long for you to believe in my son, the very picture of love. For in him you will know love and be freed from tyranny. No, you will not escape the reality of evil on this earth, but in my son, you will have freedom even as evil presses in. You will have hope, when it seems there is none to be found. You will long for good and pursue it, for good will become the language of your heart.

In my son, Jesus, there is good to be found. And in him, evil scatters, its power is can not stand, and in Jesus the wickedness found on this earth will be as hot coals smothered by rain. In this world, you will have trouble, for the world does not know the language of good. But take heart, lean into me and my way, for I, I have overcome the world. And in my son, you too, will overcome.

PRAY

Lord I need your presence to face the darkness of this world. I need your hope for I can find myself hopeless. I need your good, for the good of this world often feels evil. I need your strength, for the evil coming against me feels powerful. I need your grace, to love all around me.

May I hide myself in you and find my hope there. You alone are good. You alone are love. You alone are wise. You alone are holy. You alone know the way of life, for you are the truth that is the way of life. Lord, be my help. Help this land. Help those who do not stand against evil, but fall under its presence. Lord, may your justice and your righteousness reign, may your kingdom come and your will be done. Amen

Praying the Psalms:The cry of the afflicted

image-1-3Why, Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.
4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
your laws are rejected by[b] him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.”
He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”
7 His mouth is full of lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent.
His eyes watch in secret for his victims;
9 like a lion in cover he lies in wait.
He lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God will never notice;
he covers his face and never sees.”
12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror. Psalm 10

My dear children, evil seeks to destroy you at every side. There are many who seek to oppress and cast down, those who bare my image. There are many who take advantage of the poor, the lonely, the weak and the cast aside. There are many who come after with violence in word, thought and deed. There are many who strike down, cast out, deceive and victimize. I am the Lord of the outcast. I am the Lord of the weak. I am the Lord of the lowly. I hear the cry of the afflicted. I am a father to the fatherless. I am Love itself and I invite all to find refuge in me.

You my children, live in my love and allow the power of my love to overflow into the lives of others. Where there are victims, bring my freedom. Where there are those who live in fear, give my courage. Where there are those who cower, lift them up in my name. Where tyrants thrive, do not hand your power to them or shudder in fear, instead know that I stand with you. Where there are those cast aside, include in my gracious all encompassing love. Where there are those who are weak, know that my strength is with them. Where there is hatred, give my love.

PRAY

Lord, allow your love to encompass those who scatter the earth. Give your strength to me that I might stand where it is uncomfortable and with those with whom I might differ. Give me boldness to love all people, both the tyrant and the tyrannized. Lord I can do no good thing a part from you and so I ask that you would grow in me love that overflows into the lives of all people.

Forgive me Lord for resting only on my knowledge and experience. Forgive me for hiding when I’ve been invited to shine. Forgive me for looking out only for my interest and not those of others. Grow in me. Heal me, that I might show up whole and offer myself to you. Amen

Praying the Psalms: Jesus the victor

image-1-3-2For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.” A psalm of David.

1 I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
3 My enemies turn back;
they stumble and perish before you.
4 For you have upheld my right and my cause,
sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.
5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
6 Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies,
you have uprooted their cities;
even the memory of them has perished.
7 The Lord reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
8 He rules the world in righteousness
and judges the peoples with equity.
9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
11 Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion;
proclaim among the nations what he has done.
12 For he who avenges blood remembers;
he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.
13 Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!
Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may declare your praises
in the gates of Daughter Zion,
and there rejoice in your salvation.
15 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.
16 The Lord is known by his acts of justice;
the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.[c]
17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead,
all the nations that forget God.
18 But God will never forget the needy;
the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
19 Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph;
let the nations be judged in your presence.
20 Strike them with terror, Lord;
let the nations know they are only mortal. Psalm 9

My dear beloved, I will not allow wicked to rule and reign forever. I do not give your enemies final victory. I hear your cries, I know your cause and I am ever for you. You will not be put to shame. Your ruin will not come by the hands of men. Evil lurks, seeking to kill, steal and destroy, but I always bring life. I always bring hope. I always bring love.

I am your strength and your salvation. Do not fear. Do not hand yourselves over to worry. I do not pace the halls oh heaven ringing my hands and questioning, “what will I do? What will come next?” I am just. I am merciful. I am true. I have good for you, even in the face of adversity, even when your enemy seems to be in control, even when darkness surrounds you, I AM. I am light. I am hope. I am peace. I am sovereign. I am King. I am grace. I am provision. I am your source. I am love. Believe in me. Rest in me. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened by the pains and threats of life and I, I will give you rest.

PRAY

Father you are good and just, full of love and mercy. Your Kingdom is my dream and is my truest home. I ask that in the dark, I will believe you are light. I ask that when I want to believe the lies of the enemy, I will instead believe what is true. I ask that when there is hopelessness cutting off my air supply, I will believe you are my source of life and hope. I ask that when I am tempted to turn in fear, I will have belief to stand in the light of your gracious, powerful and mighty love.

Forgive me for giving power to my enemy. May I live as one who has been given victory in all things, at all times. You alone are my source and strength. Amen