LENT – a time of repentance & renewal

WHAT IS LENT?

The term Lent comes from an Old English word meaning “spring,” the time of “lengthening of days.” During Lent we begin to see new plant and animal life as the earth emerges from winter and moves toward another fruitful summer season. As the earth appears to awaken and bring forth new life, we can, through our observance of Lent, awaken to new spiritual awareness as well.

Lent may have begun in about the 4th century of the Common Era as a time of preparation of Christian converts for baptism at Easter time. Over time, Lent evolved into a time of fasting (abstaining from eating or following an austere, usually meatless regimen) and prayer that the entire Christian church observed as part of its preparation for Easter. Some Christian churches continue to observe Lent and some do not. Lenten practices vary, but usually include some form of self-discipline.

The Lenten observance in Christian churches of the Western world begins on Ash Wednesday. Lent is said to be a 40-day season, but Sundays are not included in the 40 days of Lent. So the actual time between Ash Wednesday and Easter is 46 days. In 2012, Ash Wednesday is to be observed on February 22 and Easter is observed on April 8. The Lenten season concludes with Holy Week, the seven-day period immediately preceding Easter. Holy Week includes Palm Sunday, commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus’ Last Supper with his 12 disciples, Good Friday, commemorating Jesus’ crucifixion and death.

IS LENT BASED ON THE BIBLE?

Lent has no basis in the Bible. It is a tradition that originated in the Christian church. The Bible does include stories of 40-day (for example, Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness) and even 40-year (for example, the Hebrews’ time in the wilderness after leaving Egypt) “times of preparation,” but nothing in the Bible is directly related to the season of Lent.

One interesting fact is that, the number 40 is a special number in the Bible. It signifies preparation for something special:

The rain lasted for 40 days in the mighty flood during the days of Noah (Gen 7:17)
Moses stayed on the Mount Sinai 40 days (Ex 24:18)
Jonah gave the people of Nineveh 40 days to repent (Jon 3:4)
Jesus, before starting his ministry, spent 40 days in the desert in prayer and fasting (Matt 4:2)

THE JOURNEY OF LENT

For us, the journey begins on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is a way to recall a larger story than just celebration. It is a way to face the reality of the consequences of sin and the terrible toll it takes on the world. Lent calls us to examine our own lives with the prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me (Psa 139:23-24).

The journey through Lent is a way to places ourselves before God humbled, bringing in our hands no price whereby we can ourselves purchase our salvation. It is a way to confess our total inadequacy before God, to strip ourselves bare of all pretenses to righteousness, to come before God in dust and ashes. It is a way to empty ourselves of our false pride, of our rationalizations that prevent us from seeing ourselves as needy creatures, of our external piety that blinds us to the beam in our own eyes.

Through prayer that gives up self, we seek to open ourselves up before God, and to hear anew the call “Come unto me!” We seek to recognize and respond afresh to God’s presence in our lives and in our world. We seek to place our needs, our fears, our failures, our hopes, our very lives in God’s hands, again. And we seek by abandoning ourselves in Jesus’ death to recognize again who God is, to allow His transforming grace to work in us once more.

The celebration begins in ashes. And it journeys through darkness. It is a spiritual pilgrimage that I am convinced we must all make, one way or the other, for genuine spiritual renewal to come.

The passage in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is quoted a lot in connection with prayer:  “. . .if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” This usually is quoted in the context of wanting revival or renewal in the church. The prayer is usually interpreted as intercessory prayer for others, since we too easily assume that any problem lies with someone else. Yet a careful reading of the passage will reveal that the prayer that is called for here is not intercessory prayer for others; it is penitential prayer for us. It is not to call for others to repent; it is a call for us, God’s people, to repent. It is our land that needs healed, it is our wicked ways from which we need to turn, we are the ones who need to seek God’s face.

Perhaps during the Lenten season we should stop praying for others as if we were virtuous enough to do so. Perhaps we should take off our righteous robes just long enough during these 40 days to put ashes on our own heads, to come before God with a new humility that is willing to confess, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” May be we should be willing to prostrate ourselves before God and plead, “Lord, in my hand no price I bring; simply to the cross I cling.” That might put us in a position to hear God in ways that we have not heard Him in a long time. And it may be the beginning of that healing for which we have so longed.

O Lord, begin with me!  Here!!  Now!!!

(Please leave your comments, suggestions or questions below. I would like to learn from you too, God bless.)

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DOWNPOUR 2012 – Vijayawada

Dear Friends!

It is so amazing to meet you this way. I am very much excited to inform you about DOWNPOUR 2012, a 3 day event of SEEKING and SOAKING in the PRESENCE OF GOD

I wish to share few things regarding DOWNPOUR 2012 to make you understand our heart in having this event.

Long back, almost 3 years, I was once going through my regular bible study in the morning and I happened to read 33rd chapter of Exodus. It speaks about the TABERNACLE OF MEETING where Moses used to talk with God on a regular basis. I was stuck at the 11th verse . . .it says, “So, the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend……! ” When my mind caught the attention of this verse, an unknown hunger started birthing in my heart for that FACE TO FACE conversation with God, an encounter with the glorious God. I read the same chapter many times, read many books about having a relation with God, and did all that I can do to have that. My quest is on…..

And surprisingly, I happened to meet a man of God from Bangalore whose name is SHYJU MATHEW. And it opened a way for me to attend a Young Leaders Conference called TENT OF MEETING arranged by his ministry. And it is at this place, my hunger for that extravagant relation with God intensified. Despite of the hunger that continued in my heart and deep inside my belly the insights I was taught there started making a way into that relation with GOD.

The key thing what TOM imparted into my life is having a LIFE OF PRAYER. And very soon I came to know that the thirst for HIM shall be satisfied in HIS PRESENCE alone. As, I started building up my life having not just a PRAYER LIFE(TIME) but a LIFE OF PRAYER, I could find my utmost pleasure in seeking HIM, experiencing HIS divine love moment after moment and the joy of having HIS PRESENCE surrounding me all the day.

Friends! Psalm 24:6 speaks about a generation who will seek HIS FACE. DOWNPOUR is all about SEEKING HIS FACE & SOAKING IN HIS PRESENCE for 3 days. Its all about gathering together the present generation and stir up their hearts to love the Father with an extravagant love and enjoy the presence of the glorious GOD. Imagine how would it be to have a complete generation seeking HIS face. Awesome, isn’t it. DOWNPOUR is just a start of that great call…raising up a PSALM 24 generation.

Its our blessing and pleasure to introduce to you the precious and wonderful man of GOD SHYJU MATHEW, recognised to be the prophet of this revival age, igniting a passion for GOD among the youngsters of this generation. SHYJU ministers all around the world in many countries. As an young man of just 25 years he challenges the present generation to grow in a much intimate relation with GOD. So, we request you to not miss this wonderful opportunity to start the destined year 2012, SOAKING in the presence of GOD. Shyju & his precious wife Tiny joined with a bunch of anointed men of God and worship leaders from different parts of the nation will definitely make the 3 days life transforming as they minister under the anointing of the most High GOD.

DOWNPOUR 2012 will be a conference limited for just 500 youngsters only on registration. The conference is located in a very serene environment, ZION BIBLE COLLEGE CHAPEL, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. The conference will start sharp at 6 pm on the 12th of Jan 2012. There will be an amazing sessions of WORD OF GOD both morning and evening which will be enriched by a glorious time of continous worship and extended times of prayer. The conference ends on 14th of Jan around 3 pm with a fresh anointing and impartation from GOD.

REGISTRATION DETAILS:-

LOCAL DELEGATES – Rs.150/-
Delegates who are from the city of Vijayawada & also the delegates who come from outside but do not need any accommodation. Registration Fee includes afternoon lunch.

NON LOCAL DELEGATES – Rs.350/-
Delegates coming from outside Vijayawada and require an accommodation. Registration Fee includes breakfast, lunch and dinner along with basic accommodation.

As the registration is limited please make sure that you register as early as possible.

Registrations close on 20th Dec 2011.

CONTACT DETAILS :
Phones: +91 9700 104 229 / +91 9700 104 339
e-mail: heavensculture@gmail.com

You can use the following bank details to pay your registration fee:

ICICI Bank
Account Holder Name : SUJATHA ROY
A/c.No. 630 601 151 279
Account Branch: Vijayawada

STATE BANK OF INDIA
Account Holder Name: B.A.SAMUEL
A/c.No. 310 348 89534
Account Branch: GUDLAVALLERU

You can also send us a D.D or M.O. to the address below
SUJATHA ROY
21-9/1-16, Opp.Gowtham Public School
Madhuranagar, VIAJAYAWADA – 520 011
Andhra Pradesh

(Please do not forget to mention it to us if you deposit the money in the bank to avoid confusion)

There will also be a resource center with lot of books/cds/accessories which will surely be helpful. Come prepared.

For any queries/clarification/details, please feel free to call us on the above number.

We are very much excited to have you here with us at DOWNPOUR 2012. Come prepared. You will see a great shift in your spiritual life and atmosphere. I encourage you to go through Exodus 33 before you come here.

With much love and blessings
Samuel Anand
Heavens Culture.

 (Heaven’s Culture is an organ of New Covenant Worship Centre, under the leadership of Pastor SUJATHA ROY) 

SWEATING LEVITES

Christians around the world are saying, “We want REVIVAL; we want a MOVE OF GOD.” It is something a common phrase heard in the churches, and among believers these days.

2 Samuel 6:1-11 gives us an illustration of David’s first attempt to bring the ark of God (God’s presence) to Jerusalem.  This picture perfectly suits the desire of the church to bring REVIVAL to their cities/nations. But unfortunately, we haven’t learned from David’s mistakes. We cram the holy things of God on a new cart of man’s making, thinking that God will be pleased. Then we are shocked when we discover His disdain. We expect somebody or something else to sweat out the hard part of revival. All we want to do is sing and dance in the procession. These man centered revival celebrations go as smoothly as they can until we hit the bump at the threshing floor.

These speed bumps on the road to revival may well be the hand of God saying – “No more of that! If you really want to move Me from ‘Heaven to earth’, you are going to sweat it out. Don’t try to transport my glory on man made programs, methods, agendas, schedules . . . you can have your cart or My ark, but not both.

7 th verse – Uzzah died when he tried to stabilize what God has shaken. We are trying to create a Uzzah-friendly environment when we prefer man’s comfort above God’s. A man of God puts it this way – Seeker friendly is fine, but spirit friendly is fire!

To the mind of man, it is logical to put a heavy box on a cart for such a long journey. The ark of the covenant was a box with gopher wood overlaid with gold in and out. Measuring about four feet long, two and a half feet wide and deep each.. imagine how much the ark weighed, for gold being one of the densest and heaviest materials. Still, carrying the ark on the cart is how the Philistines did it. God has told Moses that the ark should be transported only on the shoulders of the sanctified Levites. God doesn’t think like men do. His ways- the road to a holy revival – is higher and sweatier.

This is the time that God is looking for self sacrificed Levites who are willing to sweat themselves in carrying the presence on their shoulders. No matter the prayers, no matter the programmes, no matter the singing and dancing, no matter the unity…. all that God needs is few Levites prepared to burn out in carrying the presence of GOD. One man willing to bear the pain can make a difference. People look to the procession, people look to the leader leading the procession, people look to the costumes, people look all the other things…..but God’s eyes are searching for that one self sacrificed Levite who can make all the difference.

CAN THAT BE YOU?