Christian Discipleship: Lent Is A Time To Receive – By Theresa Froehlich

This morning’s post in the series Easter is Coming: What Do We Hunger and Thirst For? is by Theresa Froehlich. She is a life coach, writer, speaker, and ordained minister. Theresa is a native of Hong Kong. She and her husband, Hervey, have been married since 1983. They have two grown children.


Christians think of Lent as a time of giving up something for Jesus. But God intends this to be a time for us to receive from his Son.

On that fateful Friday two thousand years ago, Jesus had been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and tried before the Sanhedrin, the high court of the Jews. They spit in his face, struck him, mocked and taunted him (Mt. 26:67-68). While the high priest and the officials were subjecting the Savior of the world to humiliation and physical abuse, Simon Peter was warming himself by the fire in the courtyard along with other servants of the high priest. This Simon Peter was the same disciple who not long ago had pledged unwavering loyalty to the point of death (Lk 22:33).

We approach Lent with the same kind of self-confidence: we give up sweets, ice cream, football, TV. video gaming, or pornography. This kind of self-denial arrests our appetites for excesses for a short time, only for them to re-surface after Easter with roaring vigor. And so each Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday come and go without any fundamental transformation. We “spend money on what is not bread, and [our] labor on what does not satisfy” (Isaiah 55:2). When the weather is right, we gather around the fire to warm ourselves, with more sweets, ice cream, football, TV, video gaming, or pornography.

On each Ash Wednesday, the priest in the liturgical churches uses the ashes, made by burning the palm branches of the previous year, to make the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the believers. This sign is a call to fasting, repentance, and mourning; it is also a symbol that reminds us we are dust and to dust we shall return (Gen 3:19).

Giving up something is an expression of fasting, but to divorce fasting from mourning is to miss the first Beatitude in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:3) Perhaps the place to begin isn’t what creature comforts, addictive appetites, or innocuous idolatries we choose to abstain from for a limited period of time. Perhaps the place to begin is to take to heart our spiritual bankruptcy, our propensity to love the little idols more than we love God, and our unbelief about the transformative power of God’s Spirit. When we begin with this, our hands will be pried open to receive what God has to give us. We will no longer approach God as the resourceful givers who bring the gift of abstinence. Instead we will approach him as beggars. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Mt. 5:4)


This above article was first posted on Theresa Froelich’s blog


Do It Anyway – A Prayer by Mother Theresa

This prayer is usually accredited to Mother Theresa though it was probably written by Keith Kent.I t was found written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta.  It seemed appropriate for this season of Lent

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

              People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

-this version is credited to Mother Teresa

A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent 2012

Second Sunday of Lent

A Prayer for the Second Sunday of Lent

I am posting this early because Tom & I are heading out of town tomorrow. The readings for Sunday are: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8: 31-38 or Mark 9:2-9

Righteous God, compassionate and generous one,

Who forgives our sins and always has mercy.

Shine your light on our faces,

Fill our hidden darkness with your healing light,

Breathe on us afresh and grant us life.

God you are always ready to forgive,

Bend down and hear our prayers.

Respond to our repentant cries,

Purify our hearts and cleanse our souls, 

That we may honour and serve you in all our ways.

God you are a covenant making God,

Who gives assurance of salvation and faithfulness.

May we see your signs in the wilderness,

Believe your promises in the midst of temptation,

And willingly follow your call into the kingdom.

Lord of life, touch and transfigure us,

Let your love grow strong and deep within us.

May your compassion bloom in us,

Your righteousness bear fruit,

Your generosity encourage us to share.


Locked In, But Not Locked Out — By Joy Wilson

This morning’s post in the the series Easter is Coming: What Do we Hunger and Thirst For? is by Joy Wilson.

Joy Wilson is the author of Uncensored Prayer: The Spiritual Practice of Wrestling with God. She has a passion for prison ministry, and is an advocate for middle-aged and senior women, and anyone who suffers from depression. You can visit Joy’s website and contact her at
Locked In, But Not Locked Out

I work as a volunteer at Mark Luttrell Correctional Center, a state penitentiary for women in Memphis, TN.  One of my favorite opportunities to serve is with Grace Place Ministries, a United Methodist congregation planted in the prison. Grace Place Ministries empowers incarcerated women to become disciples of Jesus Christ and experience what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ not only through worship, but service to people in the free world.

Here are women with almost non-existent control over their environment or lives.  Those who have jobs make no more than thirty cents an hour, out of which they have to purchase their own toiletries, snacks, stamps, and stationery.  The institution tells them when and what to eat, dictates their clothing, options for free time, and access to their families.  What can they do to help someone outside the barbed wire fences, and why would they even want to?  You might be surprised.

Some of the most humble, committed Jesus-followers I know have life sentences with no parole, but God has transformed their lives, giving them joy and purpose that no prison can take away.  They also take Christ’s command seriously:

Then these righteous ones will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?”

And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” Matthew 25:37-40 (NLT)

Wait a minute, that mandate is for people like me, who can decide what to do and where to go, isn’t it?  Why would the members of Grace Place think this call to action applies to them?  Because they know there are people less fortunate than they are who have no certainty of shelter, food, clothing, or medical treatment:  the homeless. These incarcerated women have no money to share, but are rich in time and creativity, so that’s what they give.  For example, those who can crochet make warm hats and shawls with yarn supplied by other churches.  They also crochet waterproof sleeping mats using “plarn”, which is yarn made from strips of plastic bags looped together.

These inmates may be locked in, but they aren’t locked out of ways to follow Jesus, “who came not to serve, but to serve others” Mark 10:45 (NLT).  Their actions show the love of Christ to homeless people who, just like them, have no voice in society.  Both long for justice:  being treated with the respect and dignity they are often denied.  And I’m a part in this chain of compassion as a prison ministry volunteer, sharing the love of Jesus that dominoed down to me.

Each of us has a unique place in God’s universe.  We are made in His/Her image to fulfill a special part for the redemption of us all.  God loved us into being, and when we pass that love along to someone else, we are literally the hands, feet and heart of Jesus and have the transformational power to change someone’s life for the better.  Just like God did for us.  Just like someone in our lifetime did for us.

Does what we do make any real difference when we act with kindness, giving what we want for ourselves?

Ask the women of Grace Place and people who sleep under a bridge.


This Post was first published on Joy’s wordpress.

Connecting People Who Care With Causes That Matter

Ron Sims Speaks at Camano/Stanwood Philanthropist breakfast

Ron Sims Speaks at Camano/Stanwood Philanthropist breakfast

Last Friday Tom and I had the privilege of attending the Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation Philanthropist Awards breakfast. It was a very moving experience. I was amazed at the mustard seeds that are already being planted in this community in which the Mustard Seed Village will be established, and felt proud to be a part of it even if only on the margins. This is obviously a community in which people care for each other and for the sustainability of their community.

This year there were four nominees for philanthropist of the year all of whom demonstrate how mustard seeds can make a difference in any community. The judges found it impossible to choose one recipient for the award and presented it to all four nominees instead. As you read about the nominees you will see why.

Don Hernan started a firewood ministry on his own – just to make a difference in the lives of single women families for the community who couldn’t afford to keep their homes heated. He spearheaded a community campaign to ensure local families received firewood to heat their homes and began leading teams to cut stack and distribute wood to needy families. The fire ministry now has nine distribution centers located throughout Skagit, Snohomish and Island counties. Last year his teams made over 400 deliveries of free wood.

Vivian Henderson has championed the cause of farming and farmers in the area for many years. is the co-founder of Harvest Jubilee and on the steering committees of Slow Food Port Susan and Port Susan Food and Farming Center. She is also working closely with Bastyr University to develop medicinal gardens.

Camano Island Builders Association is a dedicated group of individuals who donate time, talents and treasures to the community. They have built an adventure playground and renovated a dilapidated building that has become a vibrant center that provides clothes, toys and much needed items to families and individuals in need. it is a wonderful example of giving what you can and inspiring neighbours to do the same.

Dr James Grierson, inspired by the vision of establishing a free medical walk-in clinic in Stanwood, organized a dedicated group of local leaders who worked to establish the Safe Harbour Free Clinic. The clinic has provided comprehensive health care services to nearly 2,000 underinsured and uninsured patients since opening its doors in June 2009.

It’s Not What We Give-Up, But What We Get – By Dr. John C. O’Keefe

Today’s contribution to the series Easter is Coming: What Do We Hunger & Thirst For is by Dr. John C. O’Keefe. His dynamic blog can be found here. This post is a several-part series he is writing on Lent.

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

 How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.[1]

We think of Lent as a time of giving something up – of fasting – of removing something from our lives, something we see as “sinful.” But I am not sure we should be focusing on what we are giving-up, but rather we should be focusing on that we get. Lent is a time of reflection, a time when we look deep into who we are as Followers of Christ and how we look at others.

What I find interesting is that when people share with me what they are “giving-up” during Lent, it is always something that will make us look better to others – we give-up TV, sugar, smoking, eating meat, chocolate, coffee (not all coffee, just that fifth cup), or bread – but the funny this is that we almost always just given them up for Lent. As soon as Lent is over, we find ourselves sitting around the living room watching all the shows we tevo’d during Lent, smoking a 55 gage Dominican Murdoro cigar while chopping on our chocolate covered meat sandwiches and washing it down with a gallon of espresso. In reality, after Lent nothing changes. Why? Because we hate giving things up.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians we see something very different way of dealing with Lent – one that tells us that it is our change on the inside that matters, not what we show the world we gave-up. While we are impressed with people who wear their Lenten Give-Ups as a red badge of courage, we should be more impressed with those who say, “For Lent, I am inviting God, through Christ, to change my heart’ to change who I am as a person and make me a better follower.”

It is not what we give-up during Lent that matters, but what we get from Lent that counts the most. Lent is not a time to change from the outside, but embrace Paul’s words, “that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new.”


Over this Lenten season I will be posting different reflections-keep checking back.

[1] 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 The Message (MSG)

Prayers for the Journey

This week’s prayers have focused on the season of Lent. You may also like to check out this prayer that I wrote for the first Sunday of Lent

God you are always ready to forgive,

Bend down and hear us,

Respond to our repentant cries,

Purify our hearts and cleanse our souls,

That we may honour and serve you.


God may I seek your light that only shines in darkness,

May I seek you truth only unveiled in the wilderness,

May I seek your reality only revealed in the struggles of life.


May we put on ashes

And mourn the death sin has caused in our lives

May we seek God’s pardon and embrace God’s salvation

May we journey beyond the Cross and find new life


Let us put on ashes and mourn,

Let us fast and weep,

Let us tear our hearts and repent,

So that we can return to the Lord our God,

Who is compassionate and merciful.


Jesus may we journey with you into the wilderness,

And move beyond the ordinary,

May we discover your unexpected sacred places,

That reveal you in a new light and make for us all things new.


May we follow Jesus on the pilgrim way of Lent,

May we journey with him beyond the cross to new light,

Until the One who transfigures the world with the spirit of life shines in our faces.

What Do We Hunger & Thirst For? By Sue Duby

A life of gratitude, fully receiving all of God’s gifts with joy, while living
in the moment….

I know I am most content when my heart feels like it’s smiling with
gratefulness. . .when I’m focused on the moment with a sense
of “God-lenses” peering out to what’s around me. . . aware of His
presence and expectant of His affection.

My pondering with all of this grew stronger recently after picking
up a book that caught my eye – Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand
Gifts. As I read, underlined, and exclaimed to my husband every few
minutes, “You have to hear this!” I realized a deeper work had begun.

The journey began many years ago. While directing a missions
training school on a hospital ship in West Africa, we listened to a
student describe her way to cope with sadness, grief and rough days.
“When I’m struggling, I make myself find a few things in my day that
made me smile…and I call them my Joy Spots. Every day, I find more
Joy Spots!”. Taking the challenge, Chuck and I began to call out to
each other “There’s a Joy Spot!”, when something tickled our hearts.

A few years later, after hearing a discourse on Gratitude, Chuck
decided to begin each day by naming ten things he felt truly grateful
for in his life. I soon joined him in the challenge. The discipline
worked a new muscle, but over time, it became a natural part of
our day. We found ourselves not only “naming” thankfulness in the
morning, but actually looking for things to add to our list all during the
day. Our hearts smiled. We grew expectant.

This Fall, I felt prompted to meditate on Philippians 4:6. I’ve recited
that verse hundreds of times, usually trying to calm my anxious ways,
reminding myself to pray. How did I miss it? The big qualifier…not
just prayer and petition, but “with thanksgiving”! That’s the basis for

how I need to come to God…with thanksgiving. The key to unlocking
His grace and power. I began a renewed effort every time I asked
God for something, prayed for a person, or expressed fear to Him. I
forced myself to stop and be present in the moment. Then, I named
something related to my request that I was truly grateful for – before
asking anything. A sense of peace and calm followed. Now, the
prayer often seems secondary, the need less urgent and the sense of
God whispering, “I’ve got it covered” more clear.

When I began to read the first few pages of One Thousand Gifts,
my heart quickened. Finally words to express the stirrings in my
heart. “Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our YES! to His grace”
(p. 39) “God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given:
joy” (p. 57). I know have pages in my journal for writing down
my “gifts”…giggling with my husband, frosty glitter on the grass,
another day, willow leaves dancing, warm mittens, sweet Mama
memories…and joy comes.

Lord, may I be still in this moment with You. May I see the gifts you
are offering me right now. May my heart swell with gratitude, as I
enter your joy.


Sue grew up in Seattle and spent the last 24 years on a missions
adventure with her husband, Chuck. They served in the Caribbean and
West Africa with Mercy Ships, and now with Hope Force International
in Nashville. They joy in the gifts of their children Krista (married to
Jackson) and Peter (married to Jenna), and giggle with their grandsons,
Jack and Sam.

A Lifestyle of Enough by Eugene Cho

Eugene is the founder and Lead Pastor of  Quest Church – an urban, multicultural, and multi-generational congregation in Seattle, Washington and also the founder and Executive Director of Q Cafe – an innovative non-profit community cafe & music venue.

Eugene and his wife, Minhee, are also the founders of One Day’s Wages – “a new movement of people, stories, and actions to alleviate extreme global poverty.” 

Eugene and Minhee have been married for over 15 years and have three children and live in Seattle, Washington.

More of Eugene’s story can be found here and you can also stalk him via his blog or Twitter.



About two years ago, Minhee and I made one of the hardest decisions we’ve made thus far in our marriage and in our calling as parents.

In our hope to honor a conviction of the Holy Spirit to give up a year’s salary, we had begun the two year process of saving, selling, and simplifying in 2007. Our goal was to come up with our then year’s wages of $68,000 – in order to launch a movement called One Day’s Wages. With only a few months left to come up with the total sum, we were a bit short and decided to sublet our home for couple months and asked some friends if we could stay with them on their couches or their guest room.

Needless to say, it was a very humbling time.

Our instruction for ourselves and our children were very simple:

Each person gets one carry-on bag for their belongings.

I still remember crying the night I told our kids of our plans. This wasn’t what I had signed up for; This was by far more difficult that I had imagined; I felt I had failed my wife and children; A deadbeat.

Had I known, there is no way in Hades I would have agreed to this conviction.

But as I look back now, I’m incredibly grateful for this experience. We simplified our lives; Sold off belongings we didn’t need. For about 2 years, we agreed as a family not to buy anything beyond our necessities.  When we stayed with friends, we were reminded what was most essential in our lives:

It was the people right in front of us:

Faith and Hope in Christ.
My marriage. My children. My community.

In our 2500+ square feet home, it’s so easy to get lost in our stuff, our possessions, our rooms, our floors, our gadgets, our TV sets, our personal music listening devices, etc.

We can get so lost in our stuff that we forget – or take for granted – the most important things: relationships.

Two years later, I worry that the invaluable lessons we learned during our season of simplicity may be getting lost on us – again. As most of my readers know, I was recently on sabbatical. It’s something I treasure every three years and during my sabbatical, we usually leave Seattle and during our time away, we try to sublet our home – if we can find renters we trust. While it’s not something we particularly want to do, it’s an important source of income that allows us to travel without financial worries. But in order to sublet the home, we have to minimize and clean up the home…

And so before we left for our 7000+ mile sabbatical road trip, we couldn’t believe how much stuff we’ve accumulated since we gave up our fast of  ”not buying anything beyond essentials.” We couldn’t believe the stuff we’ve accumulated in our closets, our garage, our toyboxes, our offices, etc. And to be honest, the stuff we’ve accumulated in…our hearts.

And this is from a family that takes great “pride” in simple living!

Again, I’m reminded of the great power in the story of Jesus. There are so many things that compel me about Jesus but one of them is what I call the story of “downward mobility.”

It completely contradicts the movement of upward mobility that is pervasive in our culture. We want to upgrade everything at every opportunity:

We want the bestest, the fastest, the  strongest, the mightiest, the largest, the mostest, the most horse powerful-est, the beautiful-est, the most blazing CPU processer-est, and the list goes on and on…

Even as I’m typing this on my lethargically slow netbook, I want…I need…I lust…for the new Mac Air.

But I digress.

Upward mobility never stops. Because we go through this cycle constantly. And the powers to be know this.


The incarnation is the story of how Jesus humbled himself and chose not to exercise his divine rights and, instead, took on flesh and bone and to simultaneously assume full humanity– being fully God but also fully man. Born in a manger to simple commoners, he assumed a simple lifestyle as a carpenter and throughout his life, he owned nothing except the stuff he traveled with.

It’s the story of downward mobility.

This is a lesson and a story we have to all get behind. This is the Jesus we have to get behind – not the Jesus of bling bling, the Jesus of total prosperity theology; a Jesus of exclusivity and elitism; a Jesus of total health and prosperity, or the Jesus of “send $49 and we’ll mail you this special anointed cloth.”

It’s not to suggest that we have to adopt a lifestyle of poverty but rather…

A lifestyle of enough.

We have enough.
We are blessed and blessed immensely. God has given us enough.
God is our enough.

I’m reminded of the wise words of G. K. Chesterton:

There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more & more. The other is to desire less.

So true. So true.

Perhaps, an easy and one (more) step we can take to grow in “our lifestyle of enough” is to simply give away our birthdays or to consider how we can creatively celebrate the Christmas season in parallel to Jesus’ model of downward mobility.

Hungering and Thirsting for God by Steve Wickham

This morning’s post in the series Easter is Coming: What Do We Hunger and Thirst For?  is by Steve Wickham an active e-minister.
His blogs are here and here. Wickham is also available through his Facebook or his Twitter.

In a world of multiplicity, including bounteous sources for satisfaction, we can easily miss the truth that appears right in front of us every moment of every day. The Lord, our living God, is providing us ample food and water in the focused meal of abundance:

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”

~Matthew 5:6 (Msg)

But we readily present ourselves before the sizeable and bloating banquets on offer elsewhere and everywhere. The meal of salvation is, contrarily, scant-from-view, in that it requires a search. What is characteristic of humanity is we fall into the arms of convenience, or give up on that search too easily.

If we hunger and thirst for God—for righteousness in true humility—we will win a meal so handsome, it reveals all other meals as junk food. But, then, many people are more than satisfied with food that cannot, in their moment, or in the end, satisfy. No wonder there is so much obesity—the chubbiness of material excess, and where our spirituality shrinks.

An Everlasting Food Revealing An Everlasting Source

When we come before the table of food that materially-stoked others can know nothing about (John 4:32), and we have spiritual enlightenment enough to understand the context and power of such food, we truly have the keys to our world—beyond worldliness. The world was meant to come with God, not function without Divine Presence and Provision.

Indeed, the world without God is a darkly unimaginative reality, promising much, but delivering little. There is a veneer about it, that which, when scratched away, reveals a tribal nastiness that hardly bears recognition in the face of an uninquisitive mind.

The reason many people don’t see this veneer covering almost everything is it so implicit in our world, and we see it whenever the world tries to exist there before us without God. The world is a cart; it needs a horse (the Lord) to pull it—to make it functional and, more, meaningful.

And the relevance of the Source of the real food begins to unfold when we find, with everything at our disposal, our meaning has disappeared, or perhaps has never appeared or even existed. Meaning comes first—it has to. What good is there scheduling ‘the what’ before ‘the why’? Why marry for the sake of marrying? Or, why settle for a career in order to earn income when a career is not fulfilling? ‘The why’ must come first.

The Rank Imperative Of Time

We should have noticed, already, that this Divine Meal we speak of comes implicit with the need to get our priorities for time right. We are fed, spiritually, by the fundamental nuances; the spending of our time.

Why did see Israelites chase after water and food in the desert? They were thirsty and hungry—dying from lack of these. Yet, they lacked more the spiritual sustenance and faith of vision. Such faith would have seen them nourished both physically and spiritually. But they chose to negate the spiritual by putting the physical ahead.

We are all Israelites chasing after water and food in our respective deserts. We can have the easy-to-gain water and food; God will give us these and, yet, we won’t be blessed. We must thirst and hunger after what is truly significant: the truth and fullness of God. Then we will be filled.

What do we hunger and thirst for: bread or the righteousness of God; water or justice?

© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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