Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lent - Give up or Take up?

Photo courtesy of Bible Society
 /Common Grace
By Ian Acheson
“So what are you giving up for Lent?”
Up until two years ago, I’d never given Lent much thought. For some reason, I know not why, I’d thought it an outdated practice that Catholics observe. Typically, it appeared to be reduced to the question above. In my overly judgmental moments I found it strange that apparently non-pious people chose to participate in such a “custom”.
Two years ago I felt the nudge in my soul to explore Lent and one of the studies I followed introduced me to the notion of “spring cleaning of the soul”  which particularly grabbed me. We spring clean everything else, so why not the soul.
Yesterday I was cleaning out a cupboard that we used to store odds and ends and invariably I came across stuff that at one time was useful but no longer. Similarly, I’ve found junk in my soul that needs throwing out as I’ve refocused my walk with Jesus during the past two Lent seasons.
Fasting is an important aspect of our daily walks allowing us to let go of our dependence on certain things (food, TV shows, internet, etc) so we can filled by the Lord as we rely on Him. It’s a practice I grapple with and it’s this challenge that makes it worthwhile to keep doing regularly.
However, I’ve also found it important to actually take up a new practice during Lent. Activities that change my focus in my daily time with Jesus.
 “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you.” (Eugene Peterson)
This year I chose to take-up two activities:
1. The Australian Bible Society has teamed up with Common Grace to focus on the Lord’sPrayer. I find it such a great prayer in aligning my spirit to focus on God. In a year where I’m seeking to “adore” God more, the Lord’s Prayer is an excellent way of starting my day.
2. I follow Margaret Feinberg’s work and she brings thousands of people around reading the Bible. Two years ago we read the entire Bible (yes, in six weeks!) and last year, the New Testament. This year, we’re reading the Gospels. But Margaret also introduced us to the idea that a friend showed her of using the Colour Method for reading each passage. I love this as it forces me to linger longer on the words and the message. I won’t do it everyday but I hope to do it 3-4 times a week. Try it.
Photo courtesy of Margaret Feinberg.com
I hope we all draw closer to Jesus during these next six weeks as we prepare for Easter.
What are your thoughts on Lent?

Are you giving up or taking up something for Lent this year?

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter


  1. The colour method is similar to what Margie Lawson uses in her deep edit class. Interesting to apply the writing "rules" to the gospels.

    1. Alice, that's a great idea of Margie's. I must try that when editing my WIP. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Wow, this really hits home, Ian. I've been so wrapped up in my to-do lists (with spring cleaning at number one as we prepare for a major move) that I haven't given a thought to lent or my soul. It's time to do less and reflect more. I'm sure it will get me farther than all the running in circles I've been doing! Thank you.

    1. Sara, hi. I'm glad this post found you at a good time. Isn't it funny how this was one of your "sponsored" posts and it's struck a cord with you? God's clever how He knows just the right time to tell us we need to slow down.

      I hope and pray you manage to find some time to sit and rest in His presence.

  3. Thanks so much for this, Ian. I love the way Margaret works on her Scripture readings too

    1. Thanks Shirley for your encouragement. And another fan of Margaret's.


  4. I wrote a whole comment here and then it disappeared, as if by magic, so I'll try again. I was brought up with the idea of giving up something for Lent and can see the value of that, as long as it does cause us to reflect more on God and grow in our faith. But I love the idea you write about here, Ian, of taking up something as well. I have decided to work through a book called 'The Discerning Heart' by Wilkie and Noreen Au, which deals with the way God guides us and has plenty of opportunity for reflection at the end of each chapter. I truly admire you for following Margaret Feinberg's 'Colour' method--I think that would drive me a bit crazy! We're all different though--and I truly can see the value of such a method in slowing us down to see what Scripture is really saying.

    1. Jo-Anne, please report back on your experience with "The Discerning Heart". Keen to see how it's helped.

      I really can recommend the colour method.

  5. Love the imagery of "throwing out junk in [our] souls," Ian. So thrilled you are using and enjoying the color method. Can't wait to hear what God reveals to you through the Gospels during this season of Lent.

    1. Margaret, I love how you track the ping backs to your site. Thank you for popping over to ICFW.

      Love the Colour Method and also how we're reading different versions of the Bible. (Hoping we get similar downloads for the 3 other gospels. Hint hint) Be assured I'll report back.