Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became for them the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth by the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.
[Silence is kept for a time, all kneeling.]
Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
As I read through Ben’s reflections on the 2013 ubf ISBC and the comments that followed, I was encouarged to see honest sharing. That tells me the gospel messages are permeating the ubf fabric. Here are my observations.
This is the first article in a series I’ve entitled “Sophomoric Musings”. I view my musings as sophomoric for two reasons. The first is that the word sophomore is Greek in origin meaning ‘wise fool’. I’ve lived as a Christian for a little over ten years now. While I feel as though I have amassed some experience that may deem me as relatively wise, in reality I’m still a pretty foolish person. I don’t see things objectively, so my musings are infused with a bit of quackery as well as insight due to just having lived up until this point. Secondly, the term sophomore refers to a stage just above the novice or freshman level. These days, I feel as though I’ve entered into the second phase of my Christian life. I’m not sure if I can say exactly when or where the transition happened (the Red Line stop at Belmont on July 10th… nah forget it), but I definitely feel as though I’ve had a major paradigm shift as of late in terms of how I relate to Christ, His church and the world around me. This post is an articulation of what I’ve been feeling as of late. Hope you enjoy or even cry preferably tears of joy, but I’m not averse to those induced by sheer terror either; all I can say is that Dr. Ben taught me well in this regard.
[Admin note: Here is an article submitted to us that raises a relevant question that deserves consideration. How do we confront serious errors by religious teachers who are harming other people? This article briefly takes a look at some advice from John MacArthur.] Luke 20:46-47 says “Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows’ houses, and for a show make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation”. John MacArthur spoke on the topic and here is a link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8b7QPwnOv0
Here is the conclusion of Spurgeon’s sermon on godly sorrow that leads to repentance. “Lord, let me weep for nought but sin, And after none but thee; And then I would – oh, that I might! A constant weeper be. This is joy, rest, patience, bliss, just to lie there, and weep, and wash with tears the feet that came upon that errand of love and mercy for us, and still look, and love, and long, and weep, and look, and love, and long, and weep again, and kiss again and again the blessed feet of him who hath redeemed us unto God by his blood. The Lord keep us there, dear friends! Amen. Amen.”
Continue reading →
I want to suggest all UBFers to consider this piece from an article Control Mechanisms in the ICC and to answer the question: Are changes in UBF real or they are just illusion which serves for keeping UBFers in? I am not claiming they are not real as I don’t really know. I myself just can not consider the changes which are going in my chapter (Kiev UBF) to be real because of the fact that reconciliation with my family has never happened yet. So please read this article about the ICC and ask the question, are the changes real or just illusions?
“I am going to preach tonight about sorrow for sin. I hope it has not yet quite gone out of the world; I trust that sorrowful penitence does still exist, though I have not heard much about it lately. People seem to jump into faith very quickly nowadays. I do not disapprove of that happy leap; but, still, I hope my old friend repentance is not dead. I am desperately in love with repentance; it seems to me to be the twin-sister to faith. I do not myself understand much about dry-eyed faith; I know that I came to Christ by the way of Weeping-cross. I did not come to shelter beneath his blood immediately I heard of it, as I now wish that I had done; but when I did come to Calvary, by faith, it was with great weeping and supplication, confessing my transgressions, and desiring to find salvation in Jesus, and in Jesus only.”
Scary words of Jesus. These are harsh, critical and condemning words of Jesus to the church at Thyatira (Rev 2:20). To the church at Ephesus and Pergamun, Jesus also spoke equally critical words, “I hold this against you” (Rev 2:4), and “I have a few things against you” (Rev 2:14). That’s not all. To the two worst churches among the seven churches that Jesus addresses, he said, “I know…you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead” (Rev 3:2), and “I know…you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth…you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev 3:15-17). Wow! It does not sound like a very Christian thing to say. Surely, no church likes to hear such words. Yet these are the very words of Christ spoken out of his love for the seven churches in first century Asia Minor, which are representative of all churches throughout history. Continue reading →
As an “older” Christian, it is so easy for me to rant and rave about the sins of “younger” Christians and non-Christians: lust and laziness, impropriety and indifference, irresponsibility and irreverence, immaturity and immodesty, folly and foolishness, spendthrift and stupidity, disobedience, despair, despondency, duplicity, dishonesty and the like. If I keep on picking on their sins relentlessly and persistently, then maybe they will someday repent and change and grow up!
But it seems to me that primarily doing so would quite certainly “ignore” the sins of older Christians. Of course, older Christians sin in similar ways. But with age, I think that it is a lot easier for older Christians to “hide” their sins behind the austerity of being older, wiser, more mature and more spiritual, whatever that means. So how then can I address the sins of older Christians, including and primarily beginning with myself? What might they be? Continue reading →
Lent is universally observed in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and the so-called high church Protestant traditions. In recent years, many low church Protestants and evangelicals have begun to appreciate the season as well.
I’ve heard people say that Lent is unbiblical because it is not mentioned in the Bible. The Apostle Paul tells us not to let anyone judge us by what we eat or drink or by the religious festivals and holidays that we keep (Col 2:16). Observing Lent is not a matter of right or wrong. However, Lenten practices go back to the earliest days of the Church, and many Christians throughout the ages have found them to be beneficial.
Lent is part of the annual church calendar which does have biblical roots. An annual cycle of religious feasts was established in the Old Testament. Jesus observed those feasts, and the main events of the gospel are embedded in them. Jesus died at feast of Passover; he rose from the dead on the feast of Firstfruits; and he sent his Holy Spirit on the feast of Pentecost. The church liturgical calendar is partly a Christian adaptation of the Jewish cycle of feasts.