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Lenten Joy: Part 3 - Testimony

This is Part 2 in a 3 Part series on Lent:

Part 1: Monday: What, Why, and How of Lent

Part 2: Tuesday: Resources for this season
Part 3: Wednesday: Reminder & Testimony

Today is Ash Wednesday, Lent begins today. If you haven't got around to considering it, this is the time. Of course you can start late, but why wait? As a final encouragement I asked my brother Nathan, who got me started on Lent to write his Lenten testimony. He graciously agreed to do so.

"Lent is a peculiar prospect to many Protestants. It is quite often derided, without any reverence or consideration, as a slavish bondage to those poor Catholics who think that if they beat themselves that God will hear them. It is equated with crawling for miles on ones stomach to the site of a relic to obtain favor and blessing. I have read, on a church's board outside "We love God enough not to have to give up sugar" and heard quotes such as "Why would you give up food? I don't need to give up good to love God," neither of which give any thought to the fact that there might be reasons to observe Lent besides trying to buy one's salvation from God.

(Nate & his wife Amanda) - Credit Steph Garvey

So why would one observe Lent? (Besides being a Catholic) I don't know, but this is why I observe Lent. One of the most lasting gifts that my time at Hillsdale gave me was a healthy exposure to and friendship with many practicing Catholics. I inquired into their observance of Lent and discovered that they observe Lent as a time to prepare themselves for Easter, to think upon why it is that God had to die and meditate upon their sin. Sounds pretty bad to me so far (and if you are Protestant and feel that I am mocking you, I am.)

We are victors in Christ, but as Paul attests to in Romans, though we long to serve God yet we find this principle at work in us, the good that we want to do we do not, and we do what we do not want to do. This means that there is a nature within us that must be constantly thwarted. We must take time to be introspective and meditate on the sin that so easily entangles us, even though we have already been freed from it's grasp.

I observe Lent to consider my sin, to practice humility and reverence, and to be sombered by the grave state that I my sin leaves me in. I read through all of the Gospel's during Lent to remember the life of our LORD and His death and resurrection.

And I have had the most fruitful meditations during Lent that I have ever had. God has allowed me to perceive the power of the Cross to free me from sin, to wash me and render me a vessel for His service in powerful ways during my observance of Lent.

And then comes Easter. If you haven't spent the 40 days prior to Easter anticipating it's hope, waiting for the glorious proclamation of Christ's victory over the grave, then you have something to look forward to in Lent. The Gospel is good news because it frees us from sin and restores our relationship to Christ, and observing Lent helps to remember, each year, that I am in desperate need of Christ's saving work to remove the boundary that my sin created. Victory over a vanquished foe is most sweet when you have faced your foe and contemplated his affect on your life. We are freed from sin, we are united with Christ, and observing Lent helps me to remember and appreciate that in a powerful way every year. It might be strange, you might be the only person in your family or among your friends observing it, but you will find that it is time and energy well spent.

Lenten Joy: Part 2 Resources

This is Part 2 in a 3 Part series on Lent:

Part 1: Monday: What, Why, and How of Lent

Part 2: Tuesday: Resources for this season

Part 3: Wednesday: Reminder & Testimony

Part 2 is a trove of resources on the cross, easter, atonement... This post is sermons and books to listen to and read during this time. During Lent I try to saturate my reading and listening with all those sources which will deepen my knowledge and prepare my heart for the Celebration of Christ's resurrection. So enjoy...

Best Sermon Resources:

C.J. Maheney

Path to the Cross: (C.J. + the Cov Life Team)

1: Betrayed, 2. Gethsemane, 3. Seized, 4. A Denier Restored, A Betrayer Rejected, 5. Silent, Innocent, and Condemned, 6. Crucified, 7. Risen

Mark Driscoll:

John Piper

What is the Gospel? A 32 Part Sermon Set By Dr. Timothy J. Keller.

Scripture Reference


Luke 24:37-43

A Spirit Hath Not Flesh and Bones

Acts 17:16-34

A World of Idols

Luke 15:11-24

And Kissed Him

Luke 15:11-14

Give Me Mine

Matthew 19:16-25

Greed: The Case of the Rich Young Ruler

Luke 15:11-20

He Came to Himself

Luke 15:1-10

He Welcomes Sinners

Jeremiah 2:1-8; 23-32

How Sin Makes Us Addicts

Galatians 2:17-21

Justified Sinners

Genesis 3:7-24

Nakedness & the Holiness of God

Daniel 4:24-37

Pride: The Case of Nebuchadnezzar

Genesis 50: 12-21


James 1:9-15

Sin and Temptation

Genesis 4:3-15

Sin as Predator

Numbers 11:4-6,10-20

Sin as Slavery

Jonah 1:4-16

The Church Before the Watching World

Matthew 27:45-56

The Final Hour

Mark 11:1-18

The Final Temple

Isaiah 53:4-11; 54:1-5,11-14

The Gospel

Proverbs 14:29-30; 15:1,18; 16:3

The Healing of Anger

Matthew 5:11-20

The Inside Out Kingdom

Jeremiah 31:10-17; 31-34

The Longing for Home

Luke 15:1-2, 11-32

The Prodigal Sons

Jeremiah 9:21-26

The Sickness unto Death

Genesis 29:15-35

The Struggle for Love

Luke 15:17-32

The True Older Brother

Proverbs 3:9-14; 10:16, 25; 24:1

The Two Great Tests

Luke 6:17-26

The Upside Down Kingdom

Luke 15:21-24

To Be Called Your Son

Matthew 5:9-12

War and Peace

Luke 15:17-32

We Had to Celebrate

What is The Gospel

Matt Chandler

Sermon sources:

Books on the Cross:

Lenten Joy: Resurrecting a Treasured Tradition

This is going to be a three part series on the Catholic tradition of Lent. Embracing Lent has led me to embrace a deep joy as I draw closer to Christ. It is longing to see others embrace this joy that I call you to join me in my Lenten Joy: Resurrecting a Treasured Tradition.

Part 1: Monday: What, Why, and How of Lent

Part 2: Tuesday: Resources for this season

Part 3: Wednesday: Reminder & Testimony

What is Lent?

Lent is a 40 day fast (excluding Sundays) before Easter beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday. Traditionally Lent is a season of prayer, penitence, fasting, and good works. It officially began in 313 AD at the Council of Nicaea. 40 days because that was the length of time Moses was on the Mountain, or also the time Jesus fasted in the desert before he began his public ministry. Pope Gregory (d. 604), wrote "We abstain from flesh, meat, and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese and eggs." As time has progressed, so has the fasting, and what one abstains from.

Why Lent?

There is nothing Christians need to remember more than the gospel. Easter is the event which is our gospel as Christians. Easter should be bigger than Christmas. We do advent for Christmas, why not Lent for Easter? It’s a way I can follow Christ with even more zeal. Why not spend more time in prayer, fasting, and pursuit of God?

How does one practice Lent?

The way I’ve practiced Lent is to give up sugar for those 40 days and spending time daily in prayer. This prayer focus is on self-examination, meditating on the cross, and praying for grace.

The fruit is I’ve seen my heart be humbled, changed, and prepared for Easter. Lent builds anticipation for Easter to the degree that all that anticipation explodes into excitement on Easter itself as I rejoice in my risen Lord. Lent and Holy Week have made Easter my favorite holiday.

Ideas on how to celebrate of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter:

  1. Choose something to fast. I suggest sugar.
  2. During Lent read all four gospels.
  3. During Holy week, the week before Easter read the gospels crucifixion stories, like you would read Luke 2 before Christmas.
  4. Read a book on the cross.
  5. Listen to at least 1 sermon a week on the cross, the atonement, or the death of Christ.
  6. Open up your house for each weeknight of Holy Week. During that time read a section of Jesus' final hours and Psalms 22. Then just have an extended time of prayer and worship, and pray and more worship. I would encourage the time to be somewhat sober in feel. Low lighting…
  7. Practicing a Passover Sedar.
  8. Find and attend a Maundy Thursday service.
  9. Attend a Good Friday service.
  10. Watch the Passion of Christ.
  11. Host or attend an all-night prayer time.
  12. Get some friends together and sit down and a book of the Bible straight through. (It really is quite fun.)

Count of Monte Cristo Q4

Again, this is two quotes near each other in the text. In these quotes the Franz rightly judges the Count... (I will note though that the Count at the end of the book has grown beyond this sentiment.)

"Listen," said the count, and deep hatred mounted to his face, as the blood would to the face of any other. "If a man had by unheard-of and excruciating tortures destroyed your father, your mother, your betrothed,—a being who, when torn from you, left a desolation, a wound that never closes, in your breast,—do you think the reparation that society gives you is sufficient when it interposes the knife of the guillotine between the base of the occiput and the trapezal muscles of the murderer, and allows him who has caused us years of moral sufferings to escape with a few moments of physical pain?"

"But," said Franz to the count, "with this theory, which renders you at once judge and executioner of your own cause, it would be difficult to adopt a course that would forever prevent your falling under the power of the law. Hatred is blind, rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught."

Count of Monte Cristo Q3

This is one of my favorite quotes from the Count of Monte Cristo, it is one of the significant turning points in the book. Edmond, now the Count of Monte Cristo has just repaid Morrel for all his kindness' and is turning to play the other hand. After rewarding the good, he now goes to play fortunes darker side... (Coincidentally, it is also the quote that people like to use against me the most too. But don't judge it too quickly.)

"And now," said the unknown, "farewell kindness, humanity, and gratitude! Farewell to all the feelings that expand the heart! I have been heaven's substitute to recompense the good—now the god of vengeance yields to me his power to punish the wicked!"

Count of Monte Cristo Q2

This is two portions from a conversation between (Pierre) Morrel patron of the protagonist, Edmond Dantes, and owner of Morrel and Sons; and his son, Maximilian. In this scene Morrel is about to commit suicide and is having a last conversation with his son and is encouraging him to be steadfast.

"Morrel was about to cast himself on his knees before his son, but Maximilian caught him in his arms, and those two noble hearts were pressed against each other for a moment. "You know it is not my fault," said Morrel. Maximilian smiled. "I know, father, you are the most honorable man I have ever known." "Good, my son. And now there is no more to be said; go and rejoin your mother and sister."


"Then do your best to keep our name free from dishonor. Go to work, labor, young man, struggle ardently and courageously; live, yourself, your mother and sister, with the most rigid economy, so that from day to day the property of those whom I leave in your hands may augment and fructify. Reflect how glorious a day it will be, how grand, how solemn, that day of complete restoration, on which you will say in this very office, 'My father died because he could not do what I have this day done; but he died calmly and peaceably, because in dying he knew what I should do.'"

The pictures of honor and familial affection are strong and beautiful. So I thus share them with you.

Count of Monte Cristo Q1

In this scene is one of the many comments about one of my favorite themes in the Count, the sovereignty of God. If you have read the book, this is an example of foreshadowing.

Caderousse conversing with the Abbe Busoni:
"I can boast with truth of being an honest man; and," continued he significantly, with a hand on his breast and shaking his head, "that is more than every one can say nowadays." "So much the better for you, if what you assert be true," said the abbe; "for I am firmly persuaded that, sooner or later, the good will be rewarded, and the wicked punished."

The Count of Monte Cristo

If you were to ask me what my favorite book is at any given time you would get a different answer.
But always among the top options I would not fail to mention my favorite classic, the Count of Monte Cristo. It's 1300 pages have failed to daunt me as I have read it three different times. This last time I read most all of it on a Kindle. The Kindle has the ability to highlight.
I will now take those highlighted quotes (or a selection from them) and share them with you. I may take a moment to share why I love the quote or the book from here or there. I still have quite entertaining debates in my head about the message of the book.
I hope you enjoy.

Why I Blog.

I blog because God gave me a mouth.

God is a missionary God, we are meant to show and tell of his glory. (For we neither could nor would never tell of him rightly if we did not show his glory.)

God gave us mouths to praise and show him as glorious. Thus, I blog. For this is one of my outlets to speak of his glory. Thus, in a small way this is fulfilling an element of the misseo dei.

Both for me, as I write and edify myself, and, hopefully, you, as well, as I seek to point to Christ.
Proud people cannot love others. Because they are too busy loving themselves.

Paul on loveless ministry.
If I speak with the tongues of an angel, but have not love, I am a clanging cymbal.
If I have prophetic powers, and understand everything and if I have perfect faith, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and surrender my body to be a martyr, but have not love, I gain nothing.

i don't know about you, but this hurts.
because it points at my heart.