Monday, February 19, 2007

Concerning Lent

Even though I am a Baptist, I choose to honor the 40-day season of Lent. I have done so for the past 8 years or so. I do this not to earn merit (Ephesians 2:9 says "Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.") but rather to set apart these special days as a time of sober reflection, and in faith, giving up anything in my life upon which I have become dependent.

Last year it was coffee and all coffee drinks and desserts. The year before, chips. I have also given up pop, peanut butter and sweets.

Yesterday I prayerfully considered what the Lord might ask me to give up in order to grow closer to Him. My mind ran over my diet and I was surprised that for once in my life, I couldn't think of anything I was eating too far out of balance. I mused over my beverages of choice, and once again was pleasantly surprised to realize that my intake was largely healthy (mostly water with a little coffee, tea and soda). What then, is my vice?

Television? No, I really don't watch hardly any. Besides, I widely dislike what is on, so it would be too easy to sacrifice! Shopping? Ha! It's hardly a sacrifice when you have little money to spend. Reading magazines? Again, if you don't buy them, it's pretty easy not to read them.

Hmmmm. . . what do I foolishly waste too much time doing? Bingo! Blog surfing.

I realized that I was spending a minimum of an hour a day reading and commenting of blogs. I could try to justify this by saying that I was just keeping in touch with people (which is true) or that this activity is a source of exhortation (also true, for the most part), but the bottom line is, it is time I could be investing in other more profitable ways.

So there you have it. I am limiting my internet use to 10 minutes a day. Starting Wednesday, I'll actually set a timer and put it by the computer. I figure I'll still be able to check most of my friends' blogs once a week or so. So if you suddenly get less comments from me, it is not because I am ticked off or something, I'm just being careful with my time!

Can I do this? Oh my goodness. Only in this selfish, shallow world I live in, can such a question be posed. I dearly hope that my time away from the computer screen will be time spent with my Jesus, Who gave up all for me.


Anonymous said...

Good Decision, Gret! I understand your take on Lent...just be careful if you talk about it to Catholic may be a source of encouragement in "their" faith...if you are following through with one of their traditions. But I think it's really neat!

brittany said...

I'm humbled by your post. You're my hero.

Anonymous said...

The Internet is a good thing to limit. I find myself spending more time on the computer than I probably need to.

It's funny that you thought of a 10-minute limit, as that is the limit I recently imposed on my boys. We have a chess timer by their computer and they each get 10 minutes a day. They are very careful to follow the clock, and I don't have to get after them to get off the computer all day long.

One night my older son had 45 seconds left on his timer, and my younger son told him, "you mind as well waste your time now!" as I don't allow them to carry over time to the next day.

Perhaps I should place a timer by my computer as well. :)

Gret's Dad said...

Hi Gret, I enjoy reading your blog' I am encouraged by your insights and wisdom..I love and miss you....DAD

Gretchen said...

Geen, I do try to make a distinction, but I don't think it is a season limited to the Catholic faith. I had lots of Catholic friends and students that I couldn't imagine thinking I was even Christian if I did anything less. When a four-year-old gives up frosting because it's her favorite thing (a student in my P.E. class did), it's sort of humbling! I actually think that is a good practice by which to build bridges in our faiths.

Brit -- oh my word, you are so nice!

M.R. -- 10 minutes seemed like enough without seeming like no time at all! I can click and read fast! :)

Dad! -- hey, thanks for reading! You should have a blog, I know lots of people would read it! But you might get tired of all the typing. . . :)

John said... is a Catholic who has been encouraged in his faith by your decision to observe Lent. I think you've met up with my brother and new sister-in-law Jason and Andrea down here in Louisville; I'm Jason's brother John, and I want to say welcome to Louisville to you and Josh. I've enjoyed visiting your blog occasionally in the past couple months.

You're probably already aware that the forty days of Lent correspond with Our Lord's forty days of temptation in the wilderness, that it is a continuous time of penance and sacrifice, and that it ends in the glorious victory of Easter. I want to assure you that you have nothing to worry in misleading any Catholics by your observance. Any Catholic worth his salt knows that Lent is just one of the many practices proposed by the Catholic Church to her children (and any one else who might be interested) in order to identify more closely with the suffering and death of Our Lord. If you encourage a Catholic in this way, as you have me, isn't this a good thing?

While you're here in Louisville, you ought to tune in to AM 1040 on Mondays at 5:00 pm (it comes in best in cars). My wife takes part in producing a Catholic radio show for youth. Their topic today was in fact Lent. You may learn much about the Catholic faith by listening in. I know I'm biased, but I think my wife does an excellent job. Hope I might be able to introduce you all to her sometime while your down here.

Just a note to Gknee if you read this...I take no offense at your comment. I know you well enough to know that you are not malicious to Catholics. Hope you're doing well.

Donette said...

I echo the praise for making a wise decision, but I mourn the idea that you will not post a comment on my blog. Your responses are always so encouraging! Although, I probably only post about once a week anyway, and maybe I will keep up that pattern through lent just so I know it will be manageable for you to still read my blog! ;)

Anonymous said... blog is on myspace, but I know you can't get it on campus. I haven't figured out the blogger thing yet. Just wondering if you are still planning on going to Robbie's wedding. Let me know ASAP because we need to get tickets! ...Rach

Kevin Foflygen said...

It's a good idea to fast, setting aside the time that would be spent in a potentially useless or indulgent activity and devoting that time to God in meditation on His Word and on His works. There is no reason Lent should not serve to prompt us to such things, especially since it is one of the ancient practices of the Church. The reformers, in seeking to loose the consciences of men, who are always prone to being bound to dead ritual, did not intend that we should not freely give ourselves to various devotions. They only insisted that it must be freely done, and not forced upon us without scriptural warrant. So if John thinks of Lent as "just one of the many practices proposed by the Catholic Church to her children," then I find his definition very agreeable.

On the other hand, I'm sure he would also agree that many Catholics have thought of Lent as more than just a "proposed" observance; even as many Baptists have thought of the "alter call" as more than just a "proposed" observance. Neither Catholics nor Protestant nor anyone else is free of the tendency to make religion into routine. Hence, Ecclesia Reformata sed SEMPER reformanda. We ought always to be reforming. Not that our confession necessarily ought to change (though it may), but we must never be so proud as to think we've made it -- we've got it all figured out (contra Wesley's perfectionism). Recognizing that we are never in this life completely free of vice, we need prayerfully to consider "what the Lord might ask [us] to give up in order to grow closer to Him."

Anonymous said...

Johnny - assuredly (sp?) I was not intending to be offensive! I'm glad you didn't take it as such...just that well, I have a girl friend who is Catholic and I honestly believe she is trusting in her 'goodness' to merit her entrance to grieves me. and....I LOVED THE PICTURES OF YOUR WEDDING...

Gretchen said...

John -- I remember you from old MBBC days. You play the piano, right? I heard from Jason and Andrea that you were here in Louisville. We'd love to meet your wife.

Nett -- I promise to stop by and quickly comment as often as possible! :)

Rach -- I am kind of doubting it because I don't think it will be finacially possible for us right now.

Kev -- great comment. That could be a whole post. I burst out laughing in the coffee shop when I read "most Baptists think an Altar call is more than just a proposed observance". Ha ha! Didja have fun closing last night? Well at least you didn't have to stay in the back with him all day like I did! I thought I was going to scream if I heard him reflect any more on race issues from his college days. . . quote: "and those old boys by teh side of the road were the Klan recruiting. . . " AUGH!!!!!!!

Geen -- I didn't realize you and the Erbs were so tight, but that does make sense with your old camp days. Thanks for entering the dialog. Does your church observe Lent?

MadMup said...

Gretchen... there are no words for how much I couldn't do this. I am completely blown away by the thought of even trying it. Giving up soda was easy. Giving up reading blogs? I don't think I could do it for a day, much less 40.

What a fantastic idea, though. The purpose of "fasting" is to spend more time focusing on spiritual matters, so it makes sense that "fasting" from some of these other distractions would be a tremendous help.

Best of luck to you in your endeavor!

shergzus said...

Hi Gret,
Sounds like all is going well at school. Boy we sure do miss you guys. Hope Josh is enjoying all his classes. Is he also working too?
I think that's a great idea to give up for lent. I'd probably have to make it at least a half hour a day if I did it...since it takes forever to wade through both of my email accounts and all the mail i get etc. But I might have to try that...
Or maybe another thought is not what am I willing to give up...but rather what discipline do I want to add to my life at this time and strive to do that. Plus if I did, I think it would crowd out lots of nonessential stuff. So there you go.
Did you know that your Mom is going to be doing Josh & Jessica's rehearsal dinner? She is such a sweetheart and I really appreciate her offer. Now to figure out how many to plan for and what to have. Their open house shower is this coming Saturday. Wow, then the wedding will be only 4 weeks away!! The time is flying by. Will you be able to come home for the wedding?
Well, I'm off to go quick checkup on the Murray's blog and see how our favorite Quads are doing.
Have a Happy Jesus Day!!

Gretchen said...

Mup, You could. Really, you could. Anyone who could give up soda could give up anything! :) well, maybe not coffee! Anyway, perhaps the Lord is not asking that of you, but since I am pretty confident that is what he is asking of ME (and I do not feel bound by tradition, but rather, as a free act of conscience . . .KEVIN), I know the Holy Spirit will empower me to do it! And I'm not cutting off the right hand because of a hangnail -- I'm still giving myself 10 minutes! Before I moved, I didn't even get on every day. Hmmmm. . . the old days when I was BUSY! :)

Sheryl -- I know my mom is TOO nice. She's a GREAT cook, too! She is such a good friend. I am not sure yet about the wedding. Is is the 17th? Or the 23rd? Did they ever find an apartment?

MadMup said...

I think I'm afraid to ask and find out what it is I'm being asked to do... That's scary, you know?

shergzus said...

The wedding is Saturday, March 24th @ 2 pm at Bethel Baptist in Georgetown, with the reception to follow in Silver Hall. I didn't have your new address so they could send you an invitation. But if you are in town that weekend, just know that you are welcome to come help us celebrate.
And yes, we got Josh moved into his new apt. on Feb 3rd. He lives in Carisbrooke Apts on N. Neil just north of Marketplace Mall. It's a small 600 sq. ft. one bedroom apt. But despite its size it really has quite a nice amount of storage. Plus it came with a microwave, stack washer/dryer combo and free highspeed internet. So that is a real blessing.
Then the Thursday after he moved in, his honda's oil pump went out on him and the camshaft broke on his way to Rantoul. He had his car towed back to Champaign and its in the garage now awaiting a new "used" motor to be put in it!!! Oh the joys of the real world and frustrations of life. The bright lining to it all is the fact that now he lives in Champaign and can ride the bus to work while he waits for his car to be fixed.
Well thanks for your reply. Have a Happy Jesus Day!
<3 ya

Gretchen said...

Mup -- yeah. . .that makes total sense. It is a bit scary to step out and ASK. I hear ya. It's kind of awesome to be a little frightened, and yet do it anyway.

Sheryl -- glad to hear it!

M. Kate said...

Gretchen, this is just well ya you're awesome - glad you shared that with the world. It's all about perspective. We all could stand to do a little more reflection on where we're spending our time.

Hindto said...

Well said and well thought out. Many friends and I have had this same discussion. For many it's the television or reading. For many it's the internet. Some food and some even church activities.

While these things aren't always bad (although Im not sure about TV) they are definately Jesus stealers.

Thanks for this.