welcome to the hike!

Working out the call!

I currently living in Millersburg or as God whispered in me ear four years ago in PA, "the land of my Fathers!" MILLERS - burg! OK! The best way to describe my life of late, is simply "Pastor-at-Large" I live "outside the box" of our usual expectation of life, family, employment and even culture. I live, breathe, and weave around a four county area as a local missionary and have learned of so many supportive faith communities. I meet people who contact me where they are in their 'hike 'o life."

The hats I wear are that of Life Coach, Writer, Speaker, Retreat Facilitator, Pastoral Supply, Prayer Counselor and well, whatever God calls on me to do (I actually get paid to do all of these things, which is awesome, unless you are helping me with my books!) I also work to "tent-make my mission work" as a church secretary for a sweet fellowship pastored by one of my favorite seminary prof's.

So what do I want to be when I grow up? Stay tuned! The goals are big and staying solvent month by month is a huge victory, but as I see my own heart and others hearts change and grow in my daily walk, I realize, I am not working for treasures on earth....I have direct deposit above. Guess that's a pretty sweet ride! Lacing up my hiking boots...on the hike o' life!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ashes, Ashes we all...? Why Ashes if we are resurrection people?

A Call to Repentance
Now, therefore,” says the LORD,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
Who knows if He will turn and relent,
And leave a blessing behind Him—
A grain offering and a drink offering
For the LORD your God?
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.”
Joel 2: 12-16 (New King James Version)

Wednesday March 9th 2011. On this Ash Wednesday, many of you may go to a special church service and hear this scripture above read by the priest/pastor and also in that service they are also called to go and have ashes put on their foreheads as a sign of repentance.


WHY do we do this?

What does it mean?

What does God want us to realize through these scriptures?

I can only answer the historical why’s and what I hope and pray they mean.

As for last question dear friends – I pray right now, “Holy Spirit, guide those seeking You through this season and while we may or may not attend a service on this day – that our service, our teacher is You and the ashes we realize are ones that you will help us to first of all understand in our own hearts and then you will show us victory and NEW LIFE through our in the resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the Son of GOD.” AMEN.

All throughout the Old Testament ashes are a sign of sorrow or repentance. Ashes were used in ancient times, according to the Bible, to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent's way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults.

An ancient example of one expressing one's penitence is found in Job 42:3-6. Job says to God: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. The other eye wandereth of its own accord. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (vv. 5-6, KJV)

The prophet Jeremiah, for example, calls for repentance this way: "O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes" (Jer 6:26).The prophet Daniel pleaded for God this way: "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes" (Daniel 9:3).

Other examples are found in several other books of the Bible including, Numbers 19:9, 19:17, Jonah 3:6, Matthew 11:21, and Luke 10:13, and Hebrews 9:13.

But why?

You might ask do we need to mourn, for Christians have Christ and have overcome the need to mourn, we don’t have to die and if we are believers we know resurrection each and every day?

Yes, we do. But, as we all are in the process of being transformed we will be made more aware of the parts of our souls that we have yet to yield to Christ. And as believers, we carry the burden of those who have rejected Christ, who are running down a dead end path and don’t even realize it, or worse yet; realize it and are running all the faster.

I turn now to a wonderful teaching on the Beatitudes from Bruce Hamsher called “Living Inside-Out”. In this discipleship analysis of Matthew 5:1-12 we dug deep into each phrase Jesus spoke on what we traditionally refer to as the “Sermon on the Mount”.

I cite for our Ash Wednesday reflections only verses 3-4.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”

Blessed in the Greek, translates as spiritual joy and satisfaction or extreme/supreme blessedness. Who receives this?

The poor in spirit.

I can hear you say, that is not me, I have Christ! That’s the point friend, without Christ we must realize how poor we are and then as we turn to Him in our complete humility, that is when we can properly approach the kingdom of heaven.

Bruce writes, “this is an emptying of yourself, becoming selfless: The opposite of being poor in spirit is being full of yourself”.

To be poor in spirit is to truly attempt to approach life with humility and a sincere appreciation and then you are positioned to receive Christ and begin to experience the kingdom He describes.

On to the blessing for those who mourn.
We already know that the Old Testament often mentions someone mourning a loved one, by putting on uncomfortable clothes – changing from expensive well woven linens to rough sackcloth that would be the equivalent of wearing burlap today and they are referring to wearing it as underwear!

Think how uncomfortable that would be.

Those who mourn will be comforted. I ask, what are we mourning?

In the “Living Inside Out” study, we go from realizing our poorness of spirit to mourning that condition we find ourselves in without Christ.

I pray that you realize we can not mourn what we do not acknowledge.
So until we realize how lost we are because, we haven’t turned an area over to God, we don’t know to be sorrowful about it.

To me that is the core of my personal journey each Lent. He always shows me what I need to work on!

On Ash Wednesday especially, I find this description very moving as this mourning is defined as “a desperate, helpless sorrow. It is a sorrow for sin, a broken heart over evil and suffering. It is a brokenness of self and realizing that OUR SINS PUT HIM THERE.” (Thanks Bruce for that excellent teaching.)

So Ash Wednesday as you go back and read the first scripture of Joel, you see that the sacred assembly is gathered to mourn sin. Sin that has separates us from God. Sin that requires the sacrifice of the Son of God so that we can be part of the Kingdom of God.

I don’t know if you are going to attend a service and receive the mark of the cross in ashes upon your forehead today (Ash Wednesday). I haven’t decided yet if I plan to (by the way it is appropriate according to the Vatican for non Catholics to attend this service in a Catholic Church and receive the ashes – they are considered a sacramental open to all and not a sacrament reserved only for communing members).

But remember ashes on your forehead are only an OUTWARD SIGN. As I close, FINALLY, (thanks for hanging in there).

Please reread Joel 2:12

Are you aware of YOUR NEED FOR A SAVIOR?

Are you grieved at the evil in this world ?

Are you mourning your poor spirit before Christ and the world who still does not acknowledge Him?

If so, your heart is ready for this journey and as Christ said, yours is the kingdom of God and the Comforter of the One who knows. As resurrection people, we realize that we are ashes in need of HIS RESURRECTION GLORY.

Ashes, ashes, I shall fall down – and WORSHIP the HOLINESS OF GOD!

To close, a prayer from Isaiah 61:3: Lord may You find us to have sincere hearts and guide us through our death of self. Help us to learn that through our need for a Savior You provide, and from our ashes, our death You will bring beauty and from our mourning you will bring new joy. AMEN!

1 comment:

preachergirl said...

If anyone wants more information on the "Living Inside Out" study of the beatitudes of Matthew please let me know and I will put you in contact with Bruce and Jocelyn Hamsher. P.S. tomorrow's post will be MUCH SHORTER!