Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

05 March 2014

Lord, Have Mercy

Today is the first day of Lent.  I've never been in a church that has observed Lent in any particular fashion.  In lots of ways, as for Advent, I think Lent has come to my attention because of the Internet.  And in lots of ways I like the idea of it - individual and corporate repentance giving rise to preparation of hearts and minds for Easter. 

The whole "giving up chocolate for Lent" thing seems a bit superfluous to me, unless the thing I choose to fast from is getting in the way of my relationship with God.  But if it is done with an empty heart - here's a time of the year that gives me an excuse to try and kick the  ______(fill in the blank) habit - well, that's just vacuous. 

Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love...
Joel 2:13

A couple of years ago I reviewed a book written by Amy Edwards, a friend of mine from the blogosphere, called  Lord, Have Mercy: Discovering Jesus in the Days Before Easter - A Family Devotional Guide for Lent.  In this book Amy has written a series of family devotional studies, six per week, on the life and ministry of Jesus under these headings:-

Week one - We need God's mercy.
Week two - Jesus is holy, we are not.
Week three - Jesus is God and has the power to heal and save.
Week four - Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of Man.
Week five - Jesus is glorious.
Week six - Jesus is the Only Saviour.
Week seven (Holy Week a.k.a. the week leading up to Easter) - Jesus Christ, God's Annointed One.

Each devotion includes a portion of Scripture and a short series of questions starting with the simple and concrete suitable for young children moving through to the more abstract for older children and for the adults who might be sitting around your table.

SIX PER WEEK???  Even Amy says their own family can't get through all of them in a week, which is just a tiny little bit reassuring I have to say.  However there are three possible approaches.

1.  Power through and try to get them all done during Lent anyway - a big push for a short season, or...
2.  Do a sample of the studies during the week - this will still give a good sense of the theme for the week, or...
3.  Don't be tied to dates and work through the book as time allows, beyond the confines of the Lenten calendar. 

Amy recently spoke to her church about her book and she made the comment that while Lent is a good time do these studies, any time of the year is a good time to dive deep into the subject of Jesus' life and ministry.  So finishing up after Lent - or doing the lot out of Lent - won't diminish the benefits.  It isn't a bad thing after all to keep the truths of Easter in our hearts and minds all year round.

Another delight in this video is the great answer to do with fluff from the clothes dryer that Amy received from a child to the question, "What is Lent?"

I'm a bit late with this post, given that Lent starts today.  But if you have electronic reading means you can download it from Amazon for 99c and get going straight away.  Or you can order the hard copy and get going when it arrives on your doorstep.  And as I said on my previous post about her book, I have read Amy's blog for quite a few years now, chatted with her via email, prayed for her, asked her to pray for me and know her to be a growing, flourishing, intentional Christian wife, mother, daughter and friend.  Amy loves Jesus and her greatest desire is that her family will grow up strong in their love for the Lord as well.  This book wells up from that desire - and the verse from Joel 2:13 is the very beat of this book's heart.

Lord, Have Mercy: Discovering Jesus in the Days Before Easter - A Family Devotional Guide for Lent by Amy Edwards can be purchased through Amazon.

1 comment:

Meredith said...

I was not paid to review this book. I share my thoughts out of my respect for Amy and my heart to share helpful resources with others.