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Summary: During Lent we prepare ourselves in silence to making a greater effort to become more Christlike.

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A Life of Discipline: Lent 2010

Feb 21, 2010

Intro:

Here are some faces that might be familiar to you – who can tell me who they are? (Alexandre BILODEAU (Freestyle Skiing - Men's Moguls, GOLD), Jennifer HEIL (Freestyle Skiing - Ladies' Moguls, SILVER), Maelle RICKER (snowboard cross, GOLD)).

Ok, so hands up for all the people that think these people were casual, weekend visitors to the local ski bump? How many people think that these people were couch potatoes who like to lay around eating chips and dip, drinking cola all day long? How many people here think that they decided on a whim to enter this little sporting event in Vancouver in 2010 called “the Olympics” and just for fun see what happened? Ridiculous questions, yes? Of course!

Ok, so here is a serious question: who won the Gold medal in Freestyle Skiing – Moguls, in 1988 in Calgary? Aha, trick question, moguls were just a demonstration sport in Calgary… the first year medals were given out for freestyle skiing – moguls was in 1992, in Albertville. So who won then? Well the men’s winner was Edgar Grospiron (FRA), the women’s winner was Donna Weinbrecht (USA). I can’t believe most of you didn’t know that!

Paul on Sport:

The Apostle Paul would probably like my two sets of questions, because he answers the spirit of them both in 1 Cor. 9:25-27: “25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Welcome to Lent:

Today marks the first Sunday in the season of Lent, which is our journey of preparation to celebrate the victory over sin and death that comes with the empty tomb of Jesus on resurrection Sunday. Lent is the 40 days which Christians for many hundreds of years have set aside to pay particular attention to our way of living as God’s adopted children, to focus our energies on our spiritual life in Christ, so that when we arrive at resurrection Sunday we can do so in freedom, anticipation, and full preparation to worship and adore the Risen Lord. Lent officially began this past Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, which is historically a day set aside for reflection and repentance, and I trust that many of you took some extra time on Wednesday to do that. That same theme has guided our worship service today, as you no doubt noticed.

God’s Part and Ours in Powerful Christian Living:

Lent is, without apology, a season where I invite and challenge us to greater effort in pursuit of Christlikeness. But immediately, that very phrase “greater effort” sparks some alarm bells in some of us, some resistance. We hear about “effort” in our spiritual lives, and it takes us in three directions:

1. a “theological” direction, where we remember Ephesians 2: “8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” So we resist this idea of effort on our part, because hasn’t God done it all for us in Jesus? And then freely offered it to us as a gift, so that it would be an insult to God if we were to try to work to earn that gift? And so theologically we resist the notion of effort.

2. a “guilt” direction, where we hear about effort in our spiritual lives and feel guilty because we know we don’t do enough, certainly not as much as we should or as God deserves, and so we self-condemn, and that guilt then leads us to emotional places where we believe the guilt is deserved and that proves how awful we are and (here comes the big lie that has a powerful hold on some of you) “how could God continue to love you when you continue to act like that”…

3. a “laziness” direction, where we hear about some vague notion of “effort” in our spiritual lives but, honestly, don’t really care enough to motivate us out of our current patterns of life which often don’t include the basic practices of the Christian life. We are spiritually “comfortable”, like lying on the couch eating chips and drinking pop. And we sometimes even justify and spiritualize our laziness by believing that God has to give us the motivation and desire to get off the couch, and so it’s God’s fault that we are there because He has to do it all.

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