Lenten Discipline: Going Strong

We are only about a month from Easter, which seems amazing to me.  So it seems like a good time to ask:  Is your Lenten Discipline going strong?  You may think, “what Lenten Discipline?”  Did you give up something for Lent?  Did you add a spiritual discipline?  If we want to be good disciples of Jesus Christ, we must be disciplined in our lives.

As a pastor, the #1 thing that people told me they were giving up for Lent was chocolate.  I believe in disciplining our bodies and getting cravings under control, but chocolate always seemed sort of superficial.  Does God care whether or not we eat chocolate?  Only if it gets in the way of our worship and love for God.  Which may be the case for some people.

But the things God cares about us giving up are the things that stand in the way of a closer walk with him.  Giving up pride, selfishness, complaining, skipping church.  Giving up drinking on Saturday nights because it makes us less worshipful on Sunday mornings.  God prefers us to put on the armor of Christ – to look more like him – in the hopes that what we practice during Lent will stick with us afterward.  Being more hospitable, forgiving someone, collecting our change for the homeless.

What is a Lenten Discipline that has stuck with you beyond Easter?  Last year I gave up complaining for Lent.  It was amazing how much lighter and freer I felt when I tamped down my complaining and looked for good.  I kept it up for a while but have recently noticed a slide back into complaining.  Not as far as I was last year, but not where I want to be either. Have you adopted a Lenten Discipline that has become something good that you do every day?

In case you haven’t done anything for Lent yet, here is a list of ten things that might help you look more like Jesus:

  1.  Give up gossiping.
  2.  Hang a cross someplace front and center so you will see it every day.
  3. Give three compliments a day.
  4. Don’t buy any new _____ during Lent (pick something that you buy too much of).
  5. Write down five blessings a day and come up with new ones every day.
  6. Write six thank you notes each week.
  7. Pray for the people you see on your morning commute.
  8. Fast from the news – or limit the amount of time you spend listening to the hype and hysteria.
  9. Pray FOR your enemies.  If you don’t have any enemies, pray for people you dislike or who are hard to love.  Really pray for God’s blessings on them and his love to be revealed in their lives.
  10. Take ten minutes each day to unplug, turn off the screens, and just be still in the presence of God.  They can be ten minutes in the morning or in the evening – or both!

Instead of the superficial Lenten Discipline we adopted as children, let us take time this Lenten season to do something so we will look more like Jesus when Easter comes.  If you can’t think of what to do, pray about it.  Ask Jesus what he wants you to pick up or to put down to be more like him.

What Lenten Disciplines are you adopting this year?  What has really made a difference in your Christian walk in the past?  How are you working at looking more like Jesus?