Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Common Christian Disciplines

ASH WEDNESDAY - The First day of Lent.
formally/officially - dies cinerum = day of ashes. Ashes from palm fronds of the previous Palm Sunday are rubbed on the foreheads of Christians (often in shape of a cross).

The point is: it's done as a sign/symbol of contrition/humility/repentance, and Christian faith.
It is practiced by Roman Catholics and some Anglican, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist churches.

Ash Wednesday begins the period of Lent (from the teutonic/Jermanic for springtime) It is not a Biblical period of time.
Lent is the 40 days preceding Easter (excepting Sundays).
Lent is a period of fasting (abstaining from certain foods and/or activities), self-examination, self denial, spiritual cleansing, seeking God as focus is placed on Easter and Good Friday, etc.

Ash Wednesday is preceded by Shrove Tuesday - also known as Fat Tuesday which, in French, is Mardi Gras. This day traditionally is a time of feasting and celebrating before the 40 days of Lent. (last big party before Easter)

Baptists generally do not recognize or celebrate Ash Wednesday or Lent. It is optional. (though there seems to be no objection to Mardi Gras)

BUT, the practices/disciplines associated with Ash Wednesday and Lent.... are Biblical, traditional Christian disciplines. These we should recognize, value, pursue... year around.

So... common Spiritual disciplines that accompany Lent (or a Lenten attitude)

(ie: basic, fundamental, foundational) - that all believers should incorporate into life and engage in regularly.

1. Self-examination - this is more than a casual glance
James compares the word to a mirror - looking in the Word is like looking into a mirror.
Paul says - "judge self accordingly" - 1 Cor. 11:31

2. Confession. homologeo - say the same thing that God says.
The point - admit what you see .... to self, to God. The admission should be verbal.

3. Contrition (mainly in the heart) means being sorry for your sin(s) - sincerely sorry.
Job 42:5-6 - truly grieved
Jonah 3:6
Words of David - Psalm 51:16-17 - "note the introduction to Psalm 51".
Words of Isaiah - Isa. 66:2 (b) - "this is the one..."

4. Repentance (in the hands and feet) means A. "about face".... and B. march forward!

5. Humility doesn't mean confessing less than I am, but exactly as I am ---- in my relationship to God... and others. Rom. 12:3
Recognize exactly who we are compared to God - and in relation to other people.

6. Self Discipline - means making self do what's right.
which leads to....

7. Self denial - which does not mean denying self of any good thing. Opposed to ascetics. This self denial means deny things that stand in the way of relationship to God.
It means: A. saying No to self when self desires the wrong thing.
B. saying Yes to God, Christ, the Holy Spirit .... Matt. 16:24

Question of purpose .... Why??? - Not to restrict life but enhance it .. John 10:10

Question of obligation ... Must I? Not legally obligated, BUT are morally obligated as Christians!!!

Statement of promise..... if you practice these....you'll not be deprived of life ... But blessed!! Matt. 5:3-8 - to see God not just someday, but tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that!

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