As many of you know I am fond of Mountain Dew. Some people say I am addicted...i'm really just dependent. I think it is the nectar of heaven and oh so good for you! So of course I loved finding this classic commercial. Check it out.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. The day in the Church calendar that indicates the first day of Lent. For Lent I am giving up Mountain Dew. For those of you that know me, that is a big deal...I love Mountain Dew! I actually believe it to be the nectar of heaven. Before you call me crazy or say "about time" hear me out, there is a method to the madness. Below is an excerpt from a post from my good friend, Glenn Packiam about the history and purpose of Lent that will help give meaning to this oft overlooked tradition.
HOW DID LENTBEGIN?
In the Old Testament both Moses (Exodus 34:28) and Elijah (I Kings 19:7) seem to have had 40-day periods of fasting for the purpose of devoting undivided attention to God, preparing them for a special work. Jesus, on the precipice of beginning His ministry, fasted for 40 days in the wilderness where He was tested and proved ready to begin.As a result, when the church leaders in the mid-2nd century were preparing candidates for baptism, they required the candidates to undergo a 40-day period of reflection, examination, and preparation before they were baptized on Easter morning. As early as the turn of the 3rd century there began to be a more formalized period of repentance and reflection before Easter as evidenced by one of St. Iraneus's letters to the pope, though it seemed to last 40 hours rather than 40 days. The various ways of observing Lent became more homogenous after Christianity became legalized in the early 4th century, and even more so after the Council of Nicea in 325AD, making it the 40-day period we are now familiar with. It was Pope Gregory the Great in the early 7th century who moved Lent from beginning on a Sunday to begin on a Wednesday (called Ash Wednesday) so that the Sundays during the Lenten season could be mini-Easters, or mini-feast days.
WHAT'S THE PURPOSE FOR LENT?
The purpose of Lent is prayer, self-examination and repentance, sacrifices and acts of service in preparation for Easter. It's main components, historically, have been fasting and prayer. Like any other occasion of fasting, the goal is to let go of things in our lives that are not inherently harmful or destructive in order to give our attention to Christ in a special way. It is a letting go of the good for the sake of the laying hold of the best that Christ has offered. For the great part of church history, Lent has been about dietary restrictions, with Sundays being the "feast days" where you get a brief reprieve.
It is a way to "know Christ in the fellowship of His sufferings"(Phil. 3:10-11), to share in it with Him, so that we might experience the life, the resurrection, of Easter in a fresh way. It is a way of preparing us to live in perpetual Easter-- the life of Christ springing up anew in us as we lay down and let go of control and selfishness.
So, what should you give up? Whatever it is that you feel has more of a hold on you that it should, or simply anything that would represent a sacrifice, and the elimination of which would free up time and energy to focus upon Christ.
I hope you jump in, voluntarily give something up as we focus on Christ and look forward to Easter. What are you giving up for Lent?
Not too long ago I had a conversation with someone about what is and isn’t permissible for a Christian leader. It was the age-old question: Is it okay to drink alcohol? As our conversation went along, I heard a lot of “It is not wrong for me to do this or that,” and “The Bible doesn’t prohibit it,” and “I am within the bounds of the law so why not?” The Bible is only explicit about alcohol in saying that the sin is not in drinking but in getting drunk. So anything besides getting drunk is ok, right? I’m not so sure. Whether it’s in relation to drinking or any issue, I find the arguments for or against behavior in regard to Biblical permission too one-dimensional.
Perhaps what is needed most is not merely a consideration of the facts, but an embrace of a new perspective. The standard for leadership is higher. James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” All leaders teach even if it is not from a platform. The responsibility and influence of a leader means there is more riding on their choices and lifestyle. Leaders don’t have the same luxuries afforded to those not in that position.
Our culture often touts that leadership opens the door to more rights, even at times placing individuals above the law. In the kingdom of God, though, to lead is not an invitation to gain more personal liberties but to lose them. Jesus, the most influential leader to ever live, said that to be the greatest you must become the least, laying your life down for others. In I Corinthians 10:23-24, Paul writes that “Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”
To lead in God’s kingdom is to serve which means we don’t always get to do what we want. If we truly love those we are serving, we live for their best interests (I Corinthians 13) and we put our own interests aside. Paul addressed this idea of refraining from behavior as an act of service in I Corinthians 10:30-11:1. He writes to the Corinthians about eating food sacrificed to idols. Evidently there was some debate among believers as to what was best. When they became Christians, food lost its spiritual/ritualistic meaning and was reduced to a good meal. Some of them understood and embraced this idea. Eating food sacrificed to idols in no way weakened their faith or created questions in their hearts with regards to other religions. Others, though, were still new in their faith.
Paul is addressing the strong in faith with regards to those who were weak when he writes, “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews or Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Paul is cautioning Christian leaders in Corinth to refrain from eating food sacrificed to idols so as to not cause someone else to stumble. If something gets in the way of someone understanding the kingdom of God, no matter how biblically justifiable, it is worth putting aside.
It is important to realize that the answer to “Can I do this?” might not be about what we have the “right” to do. We may be well within biblical limits and still the answer should be no. We can be totally right and totally wrong all at the same time. If you don’t want to give up your rights or live for someone else’s good then being a leader might not be for you!