Participating in Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday… the day that many observe the Lent season. The following I mostly posted back in 2014 Observing Lent along with some updated thoughts relevant to this year.

I was not raised in a family that participated in Lent. I always thought that Lent was a Catholic ritual. In high school I asked several friends why they came to school with ash on their foreheads and they could never give me a good reason for why they “observe” Lent. They seemed to be doing it because they were told to do it or because that is what they have always done. I never actually participated in an Ash Wednesday service until 2010 when we were living in Japan. When the pastor of our church did the service, I found that I really liked the concept behind Lent.

Got Questions?org gives this definition of Lent:

“Lent is a period of fasting and repentance traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations in preparation for Easter. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as 40 days. During this time, participants eat sparingly or simply give up a particular food or habit. Ash Wednesday and Lent began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves to repent of their sins in a manner similar to how people in the Old Testament repented in sackcloth, ashes, and fasting (Esther 4:1-3; Jeremiah 6:26; Daniel 9:3; Matthew 11:21).”

I have found online that there is great controversy between Christians who think it is okay or not okay to observe Lent. It is important to note that Lent or any other Christian tradition or act of faith is NOT required in order to receive God’s gift of salvation and it will not win God’s blessing or make us more holy. It is not commanded in scripture to celebrate Christmas or Easter but we do so because it brings us joy to celebrate the birth, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. In the same way, Lent can be a focused time of reflection. While participating in Lent or other traditions, some people may have wrong motives or they will be doing it because that is what they have always done. For me, it is a time of reflection and a time to remove something from my life that is hindering a closer relationship with God and/or to add something to my life that I should have been doing already.

I think that this graphic gives a good representation of how I choose to observe Lent (I can no longer find the original link I had to the graphic):

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This, of course, is something we should keep in mind all year and not just in the weeks leading up to Easter. I think that observing Lent is a humbling way to focus our thoughts and actions. We also need to keep in mind that while doing any type of fasting/abstaining/self-denial that it should be personal between you and God. While there is nothing wrong with telling others that you are observing Lent, it should not be used as a way to bring attention and glory to ourselves. Instead, we should be humble and desire to bring glory to the Father.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18 NIV

Some years, I do not feel lead to participate in Lent and do not give it a second thought once I decide not to participate. Other years, like this year, I have a strong desire to participate which leads to prayer as to what I should eliminate from and/or add to my daily life.

This year, after much prayer, I presented the idea of participating in Lent to my girls ages 10 & 8. I explained the basics of Lent to them and when I told them what I was giving up they were in shock. I told them that they did not have to give up the same thing that I was but that they should choose something that would be difficult for them so that they can use the time they desire to pray. Even more important than giving something up, I plan to use this season to do a family devotional with the girls.

Lately, the girls and I have been having daily struggles of frustration of completing chores, attitudes (mine included), getting out the door on time for school or church, as well as other things. My oldest and I battle it out with yelling matches that unfortunately remind me of how much anger is a stronghold in my life. With my husband overseas and a newborn in the home, I need to find a way to bring peace between me and the girls. So, along with implementing consistent chore charts and behavior plans, we will be doing a daily devotional during Lent.

The church that we attend does not do an Ash Wednesday service, so we will not have ashes on our foreheads today. However, my girls and I will still begin our reflection journey together. I am praying for peace, reconciliation, obedience, and respect to be present in our home. I have a bad habit of starting things and not finishing them, so if you think of me or this article sometime over the next couple of months, please consider taking the time to say a prayer for us!

Girl Talk: 52 Weekly Devotions

This book by Lois Walfrid Johnson is a devotional geared towards middle school aged girls and is a part of the Faithgirlz series. It is divided into 52 sections; one section for each week of the year. Each week has a scripture memory verse, a story, 7 days of journaling prompts with blank space to write, and a prayer. The stories cover a variety of subjects that girls may encounter in middle school: embarrassing moments, mean kids, friendships, boys, modesty, choices, attitude, responsibility, etc.

I like the layout of this book and that there are daily journaling prompts for the entire year. I like that the weeks/days are not actually dated so someone could start this book any time of year. I think that this book would appeal to girls in the middle school stage of life who are wanting to build their Christian faith. The stories are relevant to this age group. Scripture memorization and journaling are encouraged. The correlation between the stories and truths found in scripture are easy to understand and apply to everyday life. My oldest daughter is 10 years old. I think some of the stories are applicable now however many of them are probably more appropriate for an older girl. I plan to keep this book and give it to her later.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that ZonderKids provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Girl Talk: 52 Weekly Devotions
By Lois Walfrid Johnson / Zondervan

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Brave Girls: Better Than Perfect

This book is a 90 day devotional (actually 86 specified days) geared toward girls. Honor and Faith are two girls who “wrote” this book with the purpose of remembering that God sees the bigger picture. There are six sections in the book. Each day starts with a scripture verse and ends with a Prayer Pointer (which is a one line prayer that applies to the reading).

Section 1: Truth Detectives— Each day in this section has a Lie that girls believe and the Truth based on scripture. An example of a Lie and Truth are: “I need to have money to be happy” and the Truth is “God not only meets our needs–He’s what we need most!” There is a paragraph or two under both the lie and the truth that helps explain them.

Section 2: Bible Beauties and Beaus— Each day in this section talks about a woman or man in the Bible who God used in a great way. For example, Hagar–The One Who Was Seen & Josiah– The King Who Repented.

Section 3: Divine Design– This section talks about a variety of subjects that show how God’s designed the world around us. Examples include: the platypus, pearls, and chocolate. There is also a baking recipe and instructions for a craft in this section.

Section 4: Body Builders– Each day gives instructions for practical ways of building the reader’s faith and how the reader can encourage others.

Section 5: Character Quest– This section has thought provoking questions related character traits that brave girls will want to cultivate in their lives. For example, courage, truth telling, love, and peace.

Section 6: Mind Games–This section includes instructions to a game, cross word puzzles and an opportunity for the reader to insert her name throughout 1 Corinthians 13 (the Love chapter).

All six of these sections end with a question(s) and space to journal the answer.

I reviewed a different devotional book several months ago with the purpose of trying to find a devotional that was age appropriate for my 8 year old daughter. I thought that book was too advanced for my daughter so when the opportunity to review this book came, I was hopeful that it might be what I was looking for. It was! I am pleased to say that it is perfect for my daughter. She has already started reading it and loves it! I think a 90 day devotional is also a lot less overwhelming than the 365 day book. I think that the devotionals are simple enough for an early chapter book reader to understand but still thought provoking. This will be a good introduction to a daily devotional routine. I would say that this book is for girls who are 7-8 years old through the pre-teen ages.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Tommy Nelson provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Better Than Perfect: 90-Day Devotional By Thomas Nelson

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The Beauty of Believing-365 Devotions that Will Change Your Life

This book by: Nancy N. Rue, Allia Zobel Nolan, Lois Walfrid Johnson, Kristi Holl, Mona Hodgson, and Tasha K Douglas is a daily devotional for young girls approximately 8-12 years old. This book is apart of the Faithgirlz! collection and is written by the popular Faithgirlz! authors. There are six sections in the book which all have an introduction written by one of the authors. The sections are as follows:

Section 1- Growing Seeds of Faith
Section 2- God’s Promises
Section 3- Finding Strength in Hard Times
Section 4- God Speaks to Us
Section 5- The Helping Body of Believers
Section 6- The Beauty of Believing

Each devotional is numbered (1-365) at the top of the page and is 1-2 pages of reading for each day. They start with a Bible verse and reference followed by the devotional title and text. Towards the end of the daily devotional there is a section that has: More to Explore: Scripture reference for the reader to look up and read, Girl Talk: Personal question(s) for the reader to ponder/answer, and God Talk: Short prayer for the reader to pray. Finally, the daily devotional ends with the author’s name and book that the devotional was taken from.

I think that these devotions will inspire pre-teen girls to have a deeper relationship with God.

I wanted this book because my daughter is almost 8 years old. I thought that it would be a good way to introduce daily devotions to her. While I liked each of the devotions that I read, I feel that a lot of them were over my daughter’s head. I would say that the devotions are more geared to pre-teen ages and not as young as 8. I’m not saying that an 8 year old couldn’t understand these but some of them might require more explanation for the younger ages. It might also be based on individual maturity level. I decided that I will look for a different devotional for my daughter.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Zondervan provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Beauty of Believing: 365 Devotions That Change You Inside and Out

By Nancy N. Rue & Allia Zobel Nolan / Zondervan

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Voices Of The Faithful–Free Book Giveaway!

CONGRATULATIONS HEATHER!!!

Since you are the only one who entered the giveaway you are now the winner!!! I will get the book in the mail this week!

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This devotional book is written by Beth Moore and almost 300 missionaries serving around the world. Each page is a daily devotional which includes a scripture verse, inspirational story, and prayer. Each page is dated by month and day so it can be used like a perpetual calendar of devotions. The index includes all of the devotional titles by month. The themes for each month are the following: January–God’s Character, February–God’s Word, March–Prayer, April–God’s Grace, May–Witnessing, June–Persecution, July–God Working, August–Contentment, September–God Before Me, October–Spiritual Warfare, November–Compassion, and December–Christmas Around the World.

This book is an easy read especially if you use it as a daily devotional. The stories are written by real people facing real challenges in real places. I believe that this book will give Christians a better understanding of what serving overseas is like as well as providing encouragement in the Christian faith. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good daily devotional and/or to people who have a heart for missions.

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Thomas Nelson provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

Order at Christian Book Distributors through the following link!

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Voices of the Faithful: Inspiring Stories of Courage from Christians Serving Around the World

By Beth Moore / Thomas Nelson

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*****

FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY

To be entered in the giveaway:

1. Post a link to THIS blog post to your blog, facebook, etc.

2. Comment on this blog post to let me know 1. how long you have followed my blog, and 2. where you posted my blog link! (If possible include a link to where you posted. Only one comment per person please.)

3. Entries will be accepted until midnight Saturday, December 18, 2010. I will insert all entries into http://www.random.org and whoever randomly gets the #1 spot will win the book!

4. On Sunday, December 19, 2010 the top of this post will be updated with the announcement of the winner.

5. Winner must e-mail me with mailing address within 5 days of announcement otherwise the book will be sent to a new winner. hearttreasurescontact@yahoo.com

6. If all goes well… the winner should receive the book in time to start the devotional with the new year! Or at least with only a few days to catch up on 🙂

Disclaimer: Remember this is a free giveaway at my expense, therefore, Heart Treasures Blog is not responsible for loss or damage of the giveaway item(s). Giveaway open only to residents of the United States (unless you have a US Military address such as APO, FPO, etc. -OR- I know you personally.)

Also, the publishers provided me with a paperback book but someone recently gave me a hardback copy of this book. Since I prefer paperback, I will be sending the hardback to the winner. I only mention this because the dust jacket is slightly worn around the edges.

Then Sings My Soul

This book by: Robert J. Morgan, compiles 150 Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Patriotic, and all-time favorite hymns and their stories. There are hymns written by many different people of many different denominational backgrounds. The dates the hymns were written range from 14 BC to present. A two page layout is devoted to each hymn. The words and music are on the left and the story behind the hymn is on the right. The book can be read straight through (as I have done) or by reading them out of order. The indexes make it easy to look up a favorite hymn or songwriter.

I am a music lover and I absolutely love this book! Regardless of how a person feels about singing hymns, there is no denying the Christian history and testimony behind them. In my opinion, hymns are an important part of our Christian heritage and it is a shame that so many churches today no longer use them as a part of worship. I love contemporary Christian music as well but I prefer a balance of both hymns and contemporary. I think that this book would make a great family devotional. This book will be a treasure that I (and hopefully my family) will enjoy for years to come! I have also purchased several copies to use as Christmas gifts. I highly recommend this book!

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Thomas Nelson provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Also, I came across this blog post yesterday and thought it fits nicely with the topic of this review: What Ever Happened To The Hymns?

*****

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Then Sings My Soul Special Edition

By Robert J. Morgan / Thomas Nelson

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