Many of you know that today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. Lent begins 40 days before Easter and symbolizes the 40 days Jesus spent without food or water in the desert during his ministry (ending on the day of his resurrection, Easter Sunday). Many Christians (most common in the Catholic faith) choose to give up or add something to their lives during these 40 days, just as Jesus gave up food and water. You often hear of people giving up chocolate, video games, etc. or adding a work out to their day to day schedule...kind of like a New Years Resolution. I grew up Methodist but all of my friends were Catholic and I remember being jealous when they would give up something at Lent or get ashes on Ash Wednesday (oh being a kid!). My freshman year of high school, I gave myself the challenge of eliminating sodas from my diet and years later, I am still soda free (with the exception of the occasional Diet Coke and rum!). Americans yearn for instant gratification and feel that everything is a necessity. I challenge you to sit back and think whether you really NEED that daily Starbucks every morning or indulgent chocolate dessert....Jesus didn't need those things, do you?
This year is extra special for me because I plan on adding something to my life during Lent rather than denying myself a food group, drink, etc. My husband Jon and I strive to put God in the center of our lives and our marriage and have been so blessed to see the power of prayer. I always thought those people who said they made big decisions based on prayer and what God told them to do were absolutely nuts! But it wasn't until I met Jon that I actually started having 2 way conversations with God who led me to such a great place. I look up to Jon in the fact that his entire life is in God's hands and I strive to do the same. Jon is such a great teacher and sets such a great example for me being such a strong Christian. Ephesians says that the man should be the head of the household just as Jesus is the head of the church and I strongly believe Jon is helping me become a better Christian in every single facet of my life. So what am I adding to my life for Lent?
I have researched and found a Lent Reading Plan that takes you through the four gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John which are accounts of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection. There’s a reading for each day of Lent except for Sundays, which I will use to reflect on the previous week’s reading.
2011 has already been full of excitement- marrying my best friend, starting a new job, getting little Ernie and now moving into a new house, and I have God to thank for those wonderful things. I pray multiple times a day, attend church every week and am a part of a bible study but my heart wants and needs more. My relationship with Christ is the most fulfilling thing I've ever experienced in life and I strive to give everything to Him.
If you are looking for a church home, please check out Gateway Church. This is where Jon and I call home. I was baptized at Gateway 5 years ago and Gateway has brought so much joy to my life since. Jon and I did Christian based pre-marital counseling (the good kind!) with a Gateway Church pastor who married us on February 5th and it was the best decision we have ever made. We are a part of a MarriedLife Group and finished up our first small group study called Building Your Marriage To Last and we highly recommend the book.
Gateway is in the middle of a wonderful series called Encounter right now- Learning from how Jesus did Relationships. Check out the podcasts on the website!
Gateway's motto is "Come As You Are, but Don't Stay As You Are". There are campuses in Northwest and South Austin but you can also check out the internet campus on Sundays at 9:30a, 11a and 12:30p. Jon and I have brought a few friends to Gateway and we would love to bring new faces. Get ready for awesome music, funny videos and a trendy jean, screen print t-shirt wearing pastor to change your life!