Daily Archives: March 5, 2014

Catholic Questions: What Is the Meaning of Lent?

 

Lent is a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations. It begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as 46 days (40 days, not counting Sundays). During Lent, participants eat sparingly or give up a particular food or habit. It’s not uncommon for people to give up smoking during Lent, or to swear off watching television or eating candy or telling lies. It’s six weeks of self-discipline.

Lent began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves of the value of repentance. The austerity of the Lenten season was seen as similar to how people in the Old Testament fasted and repented in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1–3; Jeremiah 6:26; Daniel 9:3).

However, over the centuries Lenten observances have developed a much more “sacramental” value. Many Catholics believe that giving something up for Lent is a way to attain God’s blessing. But the Bible teaches that grace cannot be earned; grace is “the gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17). Also, Jesus taught that fasting should be done discreetly: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:16–18). Jesus’ command to “wash your face” seems to conflict with the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s face on Ash Wednesday.

Fasting can be a good thing, and God is pleased when we repent of sinful habits. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting aside some time to focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, repenting of sin is something we should be doing every day of the year, not just for the 46 days of Lent.

If a Christian wishes to observe Lent, he is free to do so. The key is to focus on repenting of sin and consecrating oneself to God. Lent should not be a time of boasting of one’s sacrifice or trying to earn God’s favor or increasing His love. God’s love for us could not be any greater than it already is.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: What is the origin of Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras?

 

Mardi Gras, which is French for “Fat Tuesday,” is the last day in a season called Carnival and the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. Depending on the location, the Carnival season is two weeks in length and is characterized by merrymaking, feasting, dancing, masquerades, and general licentiousness. The carnival season is typically celebrated by Catholic countries of Southern Europe and Latin America.

How Mardi Gras relates to Lent is as follows. Lent is a season of fasting, penance and preparation for Easter. Christians who observe Lent usually do so by abstaining from certain foods or activities they enjoy with the express purpose of focusing that time to prayer, penance, and almsgiving. There is also regular fasting prescribed during Lent. Since Carnival leads up to Lent, it can be rightly seen as the indulgence before the fast. Think of it as one last “binge” before giving something up for 40 days.

What does the Bible say about all of this? There is nothing in the Bible that either explicitly or implicitly suggests that early Christians observed either Lent or Carnival. Let’s first look at Carnival a little more closely. We would be very hard pressed to find biblical support for any kind of fleshly indulgence such as is practiced during Carnival, especially on Fat Tuesday. The Bible expressly forbids drunkenness, sexual fornication, and debauchery of any kind. The best verse for this can be found in Romans 13:13–14, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” We are exhorted to be sober-minded and alert, not engaging in debauchery. The idea of a binge of sinning before a time of consecration to the Lord is completely ridiculous and utterly unscriptural.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Catholic Questions: What Is Ash Wednesday?

 

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Its official name is “Day of Ashes,” so called because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the sign of a cross. Since it is exactly 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday, it will always fall on a Wednesday—there cannot be an “Ash Thursday” or “Ash Monday.” The Bible never mentions Ash Wednesday—for that matter, it never mentions Lent.

Lent is intended to be a time of self-denial, moderation, fasting, and the forsaking of sinful activities and habits. Ash Wednesday commences this period of spiritual discipline. Ash Wednesday and Lent are observed by most Catholics and some Protestant denominations. The Eastern Orthodox Church does not observe Ash Wednesday; instead, they start Lent on “Clean Monday.”

While the Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday, it does record accounts of people in the Old Testament using dust and ashes as symbols of repentance and/or mourning (2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3). The modern tradition of rubbing a cross on a person’s forehead supposedly identifies that person with Jesus Christ.

Should a Christian observe Ash Wednesday? Since the Bible nowhere explicitly commands or condemns such a practice, Christians are at liberty to prayerfully decide whether or not to observe Ash Wednesday.

If a Christian decides to observe Ash Wednesday and/or Lent, it is important to have a biblical perspective. Jesus warned us against making a show of our fasting: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:16–18). We must not allow spiritual discipline to become spiritual pride.

It is a good thing to repent of sinful activities, but that’s something Christians should do every day, not just during Lent. It’s a good thing to clearly identify oneself as a Christian, but, again, this should be an everyday identification. And it is good to remember that no ritual can make one’s heart right with God.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Celebrating Lent 2014

March 5, 2014 — Every year, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday, millions of people celebrate the 40 days of Lent by giving up—fasting from—certain foods or activities. It’s a practice with a rich history among many Christian traditions. But how likely are believers today to participate in Lenten disciplines—and, if they do choose to fast, what are they fasting from?

The majority of adults (72%) are aware of the Christian tradition of giving something up for Lent. Even among non-Christians, awareness of Lent is at about the same level (70%). Yet in spite of this widespread awareness of the season, only 17% of all adults—roughly one-fifth of those who know about the season—have practiced Lenten fasting in the last three years. The same number (17%) plan to give something up for Lent again this year.

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Ten Dangers of Denial in a Declining Church

The word “declining” can have different connotations as it relates to churches. Most of the time we think of numerical decline, but the meaning is much broader. It can mean declining influence in the community, or decline in effective preaching, or decline in evangelistic impact. The list could continue. Most of the time, though not all of the time, one of the symptoms of this decline is a numerical decline.

According to our best estimates, nearly nine out of ten churches are either declining, or they are growing less rapidly than the community in which they are located. In other words the church is not keeping up with the community. Many of our congregations, plain and simple, are not in good health.

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my obesity, and my determination to do something about it. Do you know what one of my key problems was? Denial. I did not want to admit I was obese. I did not want to look in the mirror. I did not want to see photos or videos of me. I wanted to avoid thinking about my unhealthy state through denial. And that denial led me to continue down the path of doing nothing about it.

Many church leaders and members are in denial. They refuse to see the diminishing influence of their churches for the good of the Kingdom. So they do like I did with my perpetual problem of bad health and obesity. They do nothing about it.

Denial is deadly. Denial means the problems are not addressed. Denial means more and more churches will be closing their doors. Though the manifestations are many, look at these ten key dangers of denial.

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Conservative Christians should not be in the condemnation business, but in the restoration business

Let them eat cake

The Christian bakers who refused to bake the cake might have used their opportunity to tell the gay couple about the God who loves them more then they could ever love each other. That would have been a proper—and biblical—exercise of their faith and religious freedom under the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

Source

Israeli special forces intercept shipment of Iranian missiles headed to Gaza. “This is the real Iran,” says Netanyahu.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

IDF soldiers inspect a missile found on board Klos-C in a commando operation Wednesday morning. The military says the ship was carrying an Iranian arms shipment headed for Gaza (Photo credit: IDF/Times of Israel) IDF soldiers inspect a missile found on board Klos-C in a commando operation Wednesday morning. The military says the ship was carrying an Iranian arms shipment headed for Gaza (Photo credit: IDF/Times of Israel)

(Washington, D.C.) — “IDF special forces on Wednesday intercepted a ship in the Red Sea carrying an Iranian arms shipment headed for the Gaza Strip, Israel’s military said,” reports the Times of Israel. “Israeli naval commandos from the elite Shayetet 13 unit boarded and took control of the ‘Klos-C’ merchant ship, sailing under the Panama flag, at around 5 a.m. They encountered no resistance and there were no casualties reported on either side.”

“The army said soldiers carried out a preliminary inspection of the ship and found several dozen advanced Syrian M-302 missiles, with a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) and a payload of up to 170 kilograms (375 pounds),” noted the…

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NO!

Zwinglius Redivivus

Dear friends, I saw this on the Instagram and after I returned from the store having had to purchase a replacement phone I thought it important to point out the utter theological bankruptcy of such pentebabbleist nonsense.

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1- You don’t have the right to ‘declare’ Ephesians 3 over anything.  It isn’t your word it’s God’s Word.  It doesn’t serve you, it serves Him.

2- God won’t be boxed in by some sort of magical chant you mumble using Scripture (wrongly at that).  Accordingly, God is not bound or required to give you anything at all.  God is  the free sovereign of the universe, not a monkey on a chain of Scriptures decontextualized.

3- In the right place at the right time?  What does that even mean?  To what end?  To get?  As Peter said to Simon, ‘you and your greedy attempts to make gain of God can go to hell!’

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Hillary Clinton Compares Putin to Hitler. Eric Cantor warns we aren’t learning the lessons of Auschwitz. So does Netanyahu. Are they right?

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (photo credit: Olivier Douliery / MCT/RCP) Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (photo credit: Olivier Douliery / MCT/RCP)

(Washington, D.C.) — It is said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Do Americans really remember the history of World War II, why it started and how it got out of control? Do our leaders in Washington truly understand the lessons of just how costly our appeasement of Adolf Hitler was? Seven decades later after the Holocaust, do we know how to stop power-hungry tyrants and prevent genocide before it’s too late?

These are some of the questions at the heart of my new novel, The Auschwitz Escape, which releases on March 18th. 

They are also questions very much in the news as Russian President Vladimir Putin seizes southern Ukraine and test fires a nuclear-capable ICBM; Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatens to annihilate the U.S. & Israel and moves step by step towards building a nuclear weapons arsenal; and the Obama…

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Americans using student loans to pay for living expenses

WINTERY KNIGHT

Student Loan Bubble Student Loan Bubble

The Wall Street Journal reports on the $1.1 trillion of student loan debt.

Excerpt:

Some Americans caught in the weak job market are lining up for federal student aid, not for education that boosts their employment prospects but for the chance to take out low-cost loans, sometimes with little intention of getting a degree.

[…]A number of factors are behind the growth in student debt. The soft jobs recovery and the emphasis on education have driven people to attain more schooling. But borrowing thousands in low-rate student loans—which cover tuition, textbooks and a vague category known as living expenses, a figure determined by each individual school—also can be easier than getting a bank loan. The government performs no credit checks for most student loans.

College officials and federal watchdogs can’t say exactly how much of the U.S.’s swelling $1.1 trillion in student-loan debt has gone to living…

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Mark Driscoll is a Fraud: Mars Hill Paid $210,000 to get his Book on the Best Seller List

Zwinglius Redivivus

Seattle’s Mars Hill Church paid a California-based marketing company at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 to ensure that Real Marriage, a book written by Mark Driscoll, the church’s founding pastor, and his wife Grace, made the New York Times best-seller list.

According to a document obtained by WORLD, Result Source Inc. (RSI) contracted with Mars Hill “to conduct a bestseller campaign for your book, Real Marriage on the week of January 2, 2012. The bestseller campaign is intended to place Real Marriage on The New York Times bestseller list for the Advice How-To list.”

The marketing company also promised to help place Real Marriage on the Wall Street Journal Business, USA Today Money, BN.com (Barnes & Noble), and Amazon.com best-seller lists.

The publishing industry just dropped about 50 out of 60 possible points in my estimation given its willingness to fraudulently pad sales for a price.  I’m beyond…

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The Timing of the Rapture and the Second Coming (video)

In this program, Dr. John Ankerberg and his guests, Dr. Renald Showers and Dr. Jimmy DeYoung, discuss the differences between the times when the Rapture and Second Coming will occur. We hope you’ll be encouraged by this program to live each day with a life devoted to the Lord and committed to sharing Him with others.

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3 Tips for Responding to Criticism

Criticism is inevitable. At certain times we will all face another person’s analysis or rebuke of our behavior. The best kind of criticism comes from friends, from those who know us and love us best. “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:5-6). In his little book True Friendship, Vaughan Roberts offers three tips for responding to criticism, and especially this kind of criticism—the kind that comes in the context of friendship, of iron sharpening iron.

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