Are We Missing the Point of Lent?

Written By Ben Kampmeier, USA 

Ben has been in vocational ministry since 2008, and desires to see God use his pastoral ministry to help people follow Jesus with their whole hearts (Psalm 86:11). He serves now as the Lead Pastor of the 125-year-old Corinth Reformed Church in Byron Center, MI. Ben’s married to his wonderful wife, Ann, and they have two young children, Reuben & Abigail (along with their Chihuahua, Boston). Ben enjoys trying new restaurants, taking in great art and music and exploring Grand Rapids, MI.

I didn’t think a lot about the liturgical calendar until a few years ago. In fact, I’m not sure I would have known to even call it that. Other than noticing special occasions like Christmas or Easter, this idea of moving through the year and attaching different elements of the Christian faith to specific units of time seemed foreign and rigid to me.

Take the season of Lent, for example. From a distance, Lent appeared to be a time of forced obedience when people tried to “clean themselves up” by fasting or going for extra church services. It felt less like a special season of the Christian life and more like an attempt to “schedule time with God.” But would it be such a bad thing if the season of Lent prompted us to be more intentional in our relationship with God?


Can Calendars Serve Our Most Important Relationships?

Calendars are subversive. If someone got a hold of my iCal password and put an event in the middle of my day on the other side of town just to be funny, and I went to it, it would probably ruin my week. Think about it, we can be controlled by ever-growing demands of school schedules, work events, and if we have kids—travel sports. Calendars will either control us, or we will control them. There’s no third option.

But calendars can help, too. As I’ve grown older, gotten married, had children, and taken on new responsibilities, a personal calendar has become absolutely necessary. Every time my phone buzzes, I know it’s time to move on to what’s next—another meeting or a family event. Despite my own illusions, I do “schedule relationship”, like special times that get blocked out so I can spend time with friends or my family. I have found that it keeps the demands of life from edging out the things that truly matter—relationships with my loved ones.

If it’s true that calendars can serve our closest human relationships, what about our relationship with God? That’s what caused me to reconsider the liturgical calendar. Maybe you could, too. For hundreds of years, the Church everywhere, across every major stream of Christianity has embraced it. Why is that? Part of the answer lies in understanding its intent.


The Message of Lent Isn’t “Clean Yourself Up”

Right now, the liturgical calendar points us to the season of Lent—a time of preparation to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

As I mentioned, I used to think the purpose of Lent was to signal that it was time to “get right with God.” A time to enter into a season of renewed self-discipline, not totally unlike the smartwatch that buzzes when you’ve been sitting too long, reminding you if you don’t get moving, you might get unhealthy.

I’ve seen friends use Lent as motivation to focus on self-improvement, start new exercise routines, or practice some new form of self-care. None of these things are necessarily bad on their own. In fact, a lot of them are good! Part of Lent can mean taking stock of our own lives and adjusting them appropriately.

But we need to see the temptation that can hide in the tendency to make Lent about self-improvement. Our culture prizes achievement. It doesn’t matter what it is—grades, awards, work opportunities, the people around us, or the nice things they say to us—we can easily believe that our value is directly connected to our success in these things. There’s an inner drive that says that if we achieve enough, someone might applaud our success, preferably with “likes,” “loves,” or “shares.” Personally, this is what drives me to fill my calendars way too full and sleep too little, even in trying to accomplish good things. It’s dangerous.

Naturally, the problem in approaching Lent this way is that deep down, it resonates with our sinful desire to have a hand in our own self-improvement. It’s a seductive idea: that we might be able to play a role in our own spiritual success.


The True Heart of Lent

Thankfully, the true heartbeat of Lent isn’t about any of that. It’s not about “cleaning yourself up,” or presenting yourself as some self-willed success to God so that He can approve of you while others watch on. In fact, it’s the opposite.

The message of Lent is to bring your imperfect self to God for the kind of work that only He can do. Lent is about grace. We experience that grace when we are reminded to reflect, to drop down into our own souls for a long look at the real status of our own lives.

Like most people, if we do this honestly, we might start feeling disappointed or discouraged. When I do that, I find that I’m not the kind of Christian, husband, father, or friend that I know I want to be. It’s just the truth. That doesn’t sound like grace, but that’s the irony of what Lent is all about: When we take time to see ourselves truly, we also see the truth God already knows. And Lent invites us to bring that honest perspective of ourselves to God, to acknowledge that there’s a lot that needs changing, and to ask Him to do the very thing that we cannot on our own: to help us to change, because what Jesus has done for us makes that possible in us (2 Corinthians 5:21).


So, What Next?

Let’s make it practical. How do we “do Lent” with this new perspective in mind? Well, let’s consider fasting, a practice central to the season (remember people giving up chocolates and meat?). Biblically, at its heart, fasting is not about appearing to be holy to others (see Matthew 6:16-18). Even more importantly, fasting is not about appearing holy to God (see Isaiah 58). Rather, it’s about acknowledging the only real source of fulfillment in this life: God Himself.

Fasting during Lent reminds us of the season’s purpose . . . that we’re not meant to try to make ourselves holy by our own ability, but rather acknowledging something else—that God has designed us to be spiritually hungry for Him.

This season of Lent concludes at Easter, which means it’s almost over. Maybe you feel like you missed out, but don’t worry! It’ll come again next year, giving us the gift of a reminder to reflect, fast, and experience his renewing grace.

More importantly, the liturgical calendar provides many other opportunities to intentionally be reminded of our relationship with God throughout the year. After Easter comes what’s known as the season of Eastertide—50 days to celebrate the promise of the Resurrection. Why not devote that time to living in light of the New Life granted to us by Jesus? What would that look like for you?

When My Joys Don’t Line Up With God’s

Written By Karen Kwek

A lifelong scribbler, Karen enjoys the company of friends, a great cup of tea and seeing the gospel transform hearts and lives. She worked as a book editor until she and her husband traded peace and quiet for parenthood. It seemed a good idea at the time.

“I feel bad that I’m not more serious,” frowned my friend Melissa*. Seeing my eyebrow raised questioningly, she continued, “You know, more serious about God.”

Now, Melissa is an active and outgoing Christian with strong friendships in her Bible study group and at church. She works in early childcare and finds babies adorable. In fact, Melissa loves cute things and fun events. “What do you mean?” I teased. “It’s not like your Facebook feed is all kitten videos, Korean hairstyles and photogenic edibles—oh, wait!”

She shot me a pained look, then continued, “Yeah, those are the things that make me smile. I don’t have the same enthusiasm for, like, Christian things. I try to pray and read the Bible, but I’m not the kind of person who posts Bible verses or articles about Jesus. I just feel guilty that I still find my hobbies, like searching for cute collectibles, a lot more fun. Is it wrong?”


A dangerous assumption

The simple answer to Melissa’s question is: no, it’s not wrong. But behind the question is an assumption that should be challenged. The idea that our interests and activities can be categorized into “Christian things” and “everything else” is false and creates a dangerous dichotomy, as if God has dominion only over our church services, ministries, Bible reading or prayer time. For if God is not also Lord of our leisure, entertainment, work, relationships, play, and even of our “me” time, then we cannot be said to belong to Him wholly.

Many of us live a double life in this sense; we set aside time for “Christian things,” and then feel as if we have earned some right to indulge in “everything else.” Having enjoyed ourselves with gusto, we then feel a guilty need to tip the scales once more in favor of “Christian things,” if only to earn ourselves some more indulgence time, and so on. I find myself sometimes slipping into this mindset too.

But guilt is a terrible motivator, and will over time erode our relationship with God, wrongly painting Him as a killjoy, a grim taskmaster. The idea that we could ever “earn” the right to do as we please is also potentially disastrous, a road that can lead us away from God altogether and after our own selfish pursuits. Isn’t there a better way to aspire to a full, balanced life?


Nothing is too small

We tend to think of the secular as divorced from the spiritual, but in reality the two are integrated—we each have only the one life, and it is to be lived for God. If we regard churchgoing and other overtly religious activities as more spiritual than, say, eating or sleeping, we restrict God’s lordship over our lives. Knowing Him should transform all aspects of our lives, so that “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

I used to wrestle with that idea: how could tea-drinking, for instance, be in the name of Jesus? Reading verse 17 in context helps us out. Paul’s argument stems from the fact that God has rescued us, and we get to live in a whole new way because of Jesus (Colossians 3:1-3). Our appropriate response to this, as Paul emphasizes three times, is gratitude to God (vv. 15, 16, 17). To do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus (v. 17) is to live with a constant awareness of our relationship with God.

Furthermore, to bear our Lord’s name reflects His lordship over us. As a result, all our activities rightfully belong to Jesus, and we merely manage our time and resources, thankful for the opportunities, thankful to be His. I will return later to this idea of resource management, or stewardship, but the implication here is that, being grateful to God for the “little things” we enjoy reflects our relationship with our Lord.

What does it look like when our “little things” are filled with an awareness of the Giver? Well, when I write, I am awed by the intricate workings of God’s world, and I ask Him constantly for the right words, at the right time, that my words might encourage my readers.

When my husband runs, he is genuinely immersed in his outdoors environment, loving the physical exertion and the mental clarity that a good run gives him, thankful to God for the weather and his health, and refreshed for his relationships and ministries. For the person who is mindful of God, even mundane, routine, necessary, or trivial tasks can be spiritual.


How then to choose?

But we should be careful about filling our calendar only with things that excite us, because these things in themselves cannot give us lasting joy. Instant gratification often keeps us going back to our little indulgences time and again—another hit, another dopamine surge, another high. But if all our life’s pursuits are as random and fleeting as our Instagram Stories, perhaps we are aiming too low and missing the mark?

As writer-theologian C. S. Lewis puts it in his sermon “The Weight of Glory”:

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

How, then, do we choose the things that bring us closer to God, if we find them “dull” compared to the things we really feel like doing?

When I was four or so, I once complained that visiting my grandfather was boring. My dad told me that I could decide not to be bored! He then urged me to ask my Kong Kong about his life. I didn’t immediately understand or appreciate my father’s meaning. But the more often I visited, the better I got to know my grandfather, and eventually I began to love hearing about life in “the old days.” I also grew up, and the older me enjoyed his company just because I was outgrowing some of my toys and pastimes, and was ready to do more things with him, such as take long nature rambles, water the plants in his huge garden, or feed his many pets.

May I suggest that part of our Christian journey is to grow up in faith. This sometimes involves discipline to do things we don’t necessarily enjoy at first. But a far better, more long-term strategy is to cultivate a God-directed taste for pleasure. Many pursuits worth undertaking—for the joy of relating to and being close to God—may not initially “spark joy” in us because we generally cave in to instant rewards, and we so often fail to train ourselves to anticipate heaven instead. But as Colossians 3:1-2 puts it, being raised with Christ has changed our priorities, so that we should seek and set our eyes on the “things that are above” (ESV).

We can decide not to be bored; we can ask God to help us love and enjoy being with Him. If oneness with Him becomes our joy, as it is our Lord Jesus’, then our hobbies and entertainments will never entirely replace talking to and listening to God through His Word—which corrects false assumptions, drifting mindsets, and variable standards. The better we know God, the greater our enjoyment of the things that bring us closer to Him, which in turn helps us know Him even better, which gives us even more joy in serving Him, and so on!  


A matter of stewardship

We can’t live by instant gratification; we need a long view to end well. In Hebrews 12:1-3, the Christian life is described not as a sprint, but as a long-distance race requiring perseverance. We are asked to look to Jesus, who has gone ahead of us and who will see us through to the finish line.

We observe that Jesus’ joy in His relationship with God—the prospect of Their togetherness at last—fueled His earthly life and suffering. Because His heart always rejoiced in a oneness with God, His life’s energy was marshaled toward that purpose. Moreover, He has achieved it for us too; His death and victory on the cross have reconciled believers to God!

I love how pastor and writer-theologian Eugene Peterson paraphrases verse 2 in The Message:

Study how [Jesus ran]. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.

When I wonder how much time to devote to my various hobbies, then, maybe the question I should be asking instead is this: does joy in my future union with God—“that exhilarating finish in and with God”—light and direct my present journey?

It’s a matter of stewardship, that is, managing our time and resources for an infinite joy that will be ours some day. That’s not to say we won’t or can’t enjoy the present and its many pleasures, but hopefully our lives don’t consist only of random, short-lived entertainments and avoidance of hardship! The idea of stewardship helps us recognize that we are always accountable to God for our choices because our lives have a long-term, God-directed purpose.

Melissa, don’t feel bad about enjoying your life. Instead, won’t you join me in taking inventory of the things that make us happy, thanking God and asking Him to help us use them for Him?


*Name has been changed for privacy.

Can I Love God More Than My Spouse?

Written By Tyler Edwards, USA

Tyler Edwards is a pastor, author, and husband. He has served in full-time ministry since 2006. He currently works as the Discipleship Pastor of Carolina Forest Community Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He is passionate about introducing people to and helping them grow in the Gospel. He is also the author of Zombie Church: Breathing Life Back Into the Body of Christ.

When my wife and I were dating, I made her this promise: “You will never be first in my life. That position belongs to God. If I put you there, I am making you an idol. You can’t be first. But when we are married, you will never be third. Aside from God, you will be the most important person in this world to me. I will love you to the best of my ability with all that I have. And I will do that better because I love you second.”

My wife had never been exposed to that idea before, so it took her a little time to warm up to it. But over the years, she has come to appreciate and understand just how different my love for her is when it is fueled by the love of God.


What it means to love God more than

In Matthew 22, Jesus says that the greatest commandment in the law is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). Love is not just a biblical principal. It’s the foundation of who God is, and the motivation for so much of what God does. As Christians, the challenge is how to apply love in our lives.

Is it possible to love God more than my spouse? Whether we are talking about a newly married couple in the dreamy season of young love, or a couple who has been together for decades and can’t imagine being closer to anyone than their lifelong companion—the heart of the question is this: Is it possible to love God more than the person I love most in this world?

The answer is not only, yes, it is possible. The answer is, we absolutely must. This is what it means to be a Christian. We love God first. We love God most. The Greatest Commandment in the law tells us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and as Luke adds, all our strength (Matthew 22:37). Being a Christian means that we love God with everything we have and everything we are. We cannot do that if we love something in this world more than we love Him.


Does God really ask me to hate my family?

As Jesus explains in Luke 14:25-27, we follow Him at the cost of our worldly selves: “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.’”

Hate your father, your mother, your brothers and sisters, your spouse, and even your own children? How can the same Jesus, who tells us the second greatest commandment in the law is to love our neighbors as ourselves, say something like this? That doesn’t sound like my Jesus. It doesn’t even make sense in light of the character of God. Aren’t we told in the Bible that God is love (1 John 4:16)?

How do these two statements co-exist? You see, the word “hate” in Luke 14 is translated from the Greek word miseo. While miseo can be used to describe hatred, according to Kittle’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, it can also carry a meaning of preference. In other words, it means to renounce one thing in favor of another. In this context, hate doesn’t mean loathe, despise, treat as an enemy or with hatred. Hate, as Jesus uses it here, literally means “to love less than.”

Jesus doesn’t want us to despise our families, our spouses, our children. He wants us to know that following Him means choosing Him over anything and everything else. What He is saying is simple: if you want to be a Christian, to be His disciple, you must love Him more than anyone else and everyone else in your life. In fact, you must love Him more than your own life. Jesus doesn’t play second fiddle.

The biblical expectation of a Christian is this: our love for God should be so great that by comparison, our greatest love in this world should seem like hate. It should not be hate. Again, it’s a measure of comparison. The distance between how you feel towards your greatest love and your greatest enemy should be the same distance that exists between your greatest love and God, with God on the better end. The word for this is devotion.

Our world seems to think that we can believe something while not acting on it. But Jesus doesn’t play that game. We are not Christians simply because that’s what we call ourselves. According to Jesus, we are Christians only if we love Him more than everything else in our lives. We can’t simply declare it. We demonstrate it with every choice we make.


Loving God enables us to love our spouse

For the hopeless romantics who find the idea of “hating” our spouses harsh, even by comparison, let me say this: the man who loves God first will love his wife better than the man who loves his wife but doesn’t prioritize God.

Because we aren’t talking about a competition. We are talking about priorities. The most important thing with priorities is to get them in the right order. Loving God first is better for your spouse than if you were to love them first.

The English language has done love a disservice. We have one word which we use to describe everything, from how we feel about chocolate to how we feel about the most important people in our lives. I love tacos. I love my wife. I do not love them the same way. The Greeks had a much better idea. They had several different words for love, which allowed them to distinguish between the love of family, the love of passion, and the love of friendship.

Here’s why I would argue that loving God first is not just possible, not just essential for the Christian, but actually better for your spouse. When you love God first, you belong to Him and are given His Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit we have access to the agape love of God—His divine, supernatural, unconditional love.

When we love God first, His agape love empowers us to love our spouse. Without it, the best we can do is love our spouse when we feel like it, when they please us, or when it benefits us to do so. On our own, the best we can offer is a conditional love. It’s a love with limits. But with God, the love we show our spouse is fueled by God’s perfect love.

There have been times where I have let that focus slip. A subtle shift inevitably begins. I get annoyed more easily. Frustrated more quickly. Even a small rotation of priorities—where my focus moves closer to her and farther from God—ends up with me being less patient, less kind, and less understanding in our interactions. Whenever I hear her ask: “What is up with you?” I find the answer is the same. My primary focus was on her, not on God.

For example, my wife and I can both be very stubborn. Whenever we have a disagreement, neither of us want to be the first to admit fault and start resolving the issue. Conflict resolution can really be a challenge because of our pride and selfishness. However, when we stop, take a breath, and re-focus on God, we are much better at putting the other person first and overcoming our own selfishness.

Whenever I lose sight of my priorities in our marriage or focus on my wife more than on God, my love for my wife becomes cheap. It becomes more selfish. I love her because I get something out of it. Or I love her because of something she did. My love is not as full or rich. And my wife no longer feels the same love from me. That’s what happens when I give my wife love sustained by myself, not fueled by God.

But when we put God first, and love our spouse second, only then will we love them more. Only then will we love them better. Only then will we love them longer, because our love for them will not be built on their performance or our weaknesses, but on the depths of God’s unconditional love.

I’m 70 . . . And Still Learning What It Means to Serve

Written By Mart DeHaan

Mart DeHaan is the past president of Our Daily Bread Ministries and has served with the ministry for 45 years. He is heard regularly on the Discover the Word radio program, is an author of many booklets for the Discovery Series, and writes a monthly column on timely issues called “Been Thinking About.” He and his wife, Diane, have two children. Mart enjoys spending time outdoors, especially with a fishing pole in hand.

Dear friend,

I’m struggling to know how to begin. Maybe it’s because I still have so much to learn about what it means to tell others about anything, let alone something really important. Let me start with a story.

Of all the cartoons that have made me laugh, there’s one I remember most clearly. It pictures a man on a dinner date trying to make a good impression. As the meal comes to an end, he reaches for his credit card to pay. Feeling like it has been a wonderful evening, he takes a deep breath and says, “Hey, I’ve been talking a lot about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”

Why do I remember this punch line? Maybe it’s because I’ve passed that smile along to others from time to time. Maybe it’s also because I’m still trying to come to terms with my inclination to be overly concerned about my own interests—at the expense of others.

I’m not writing this as a young person. For more than 70 years, I’ve sat at many tables and looked into a lot of eyes. Late in the journey, I still find it so easy to forget what we’re here for and what makes the life we’ve been given worth living.

Because of this, I’m grateful for the cartoonists, authors, and community leaders who, along with family members, friends, and teachers, have helped me see that a life well-lived isn’t all about ourselves—but one in which we live for one another. I’ve had so many chances to see the wonder of a simple act of kindness, even when it is shown to a struggling plant, a frightened animal, or an unlikely person.

Most importantly, I’ve had access to the story of Jesus, who is remembered for being so patient with those of us who keep tripping over ourselves. In so many ways, He gave us reason to believe that when He asked people like us to follow Him, and even when He asked what they thought of Him—He wasn’t just thinking of Himself.

That’s why I hope you’ll never stop learning from Him and maybe just a little from the mistakes of old guys like me.


The Leader Who Serves Us

On the night of Jesus’ betrayal and suffering, His disciples sat around a table arguing among themselves (Luke 22:24). They thought their long-awaited Messiah was getting ready to rule the world and that some of them were more worthy than others to help Him kick Caesar to the curb and share the power.

They weren’t ready to hear Him say:

In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:25-27)

Imagine what it must have been like to have a seat at that table. Earlier that same evening, we would have seen Him get down on His knees, and like a house-servant wash our feet (John 13:1-17). We’d have heard Him say that, as His friends, one thing matters—to love one another as He had loved us (15:12-15).

While I don’t know for sure, I think I get a bit of why these followers and leaders-in-training were so confused. Their family and national history was full of strong leaders. Some were brutal. Some were benevolent. But all of them led from the front, from the top, and from places of enforced control and command. No wonder they were having a hard time with the upside-down-inside-out ways of Jesus.


The Leader Who Inspires and Empowers Us

Not only did Jesus make a name for Himself by putting our needs ahead of His own, He went one step further and asked His followers and leadership team to join Him in showing the way—to the God who is for us—in ways and to an extent they never could have imagined.

Only in looking back can we see that all that happened on that Passover, and in the miracles of Pentecost five weeks later, were meant to draw us into the action. By dying to show how much He loves us, He leads the way. By giving us the gift of his Spirit, He enables us to follow Him in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-25). This would be the kinder and gentler revolution Jesus envisioned in His manifesto of the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:1-12).

Over the years, I’ve been inspired by the stories of those who have taken the risk to follow in Jesus’ footsteps in the way they lead—not by threat or coercion, but by caring for one another.

Maybe that’s why I recall with such warmth the teacher who simply took the time to ask me what life was like for me growing up; the pastor who listened so patiently during one of the darker moments of my life; and another older Christian leader who, over lunch, took risks to let me know that he, too, has trouble with interpretations of the Bible that don’t seem to reflect the heart of a loving Father.

These self-sacrificing acts of care have given me a taste of what it must have been like for people in Jesus’ day to see themselves in His eyes. And I’ve got a hunch that there are people in your world who will benefit from seeing you as a fellow-follower and servant-leader who has come under the influence of His patience and kindness.


Walking in Jesus’ Spirit

Yes, I’m convinced this is the smile you have to offer. But please don’t think I’m saying if you “get it”, just “do it.” I’ve learned the hard way that the personal resolve to set aside my own self-interest for the sake of others doesn’t go very far.

I’m still learning that the kind of servant-leadership Jesus talked about doesn’t begin with a decision to follow Him into courageous actions of self-sacrifice. It isn’t just a matter of learning to make the right choices. Learning to lead by following Him begins so much deeper. As Jesus believed He was loved and led by His Father, so we need to believe His assurance that we are loved, and that we too can be led by His Spirit to care for others.

Our natural default will always be self-interest. Our normal inclination will always be to think we can do whatever we put our mind to. But what Jesus taught His disciples and what He is teaching us, is that we can’t follow Him or become His kind of influence in the world until we realize what we cannot do or change by ourselves.

Maybe that’s why Jesus let Peter and the rest of the disciples abandon Him at His arrest. Maybe that’s why, after His resurrection, He asked those same leaders-in-training to wait for His Spirit before trying to lead others to Him (Acts 1:1-9).

I still find myself being amazed at what happens when I remember to take Jesus up on His assurance that His Father (and ours) will not withhold His Holy Spirit from those who ask. I’ve never gotten over the joy of seeing or sensing what He alone can do to get me over the next hurdle of realizing that this amazing life isn’t all about me.

We began with a cartoon that pokes fun at the kind of person none of us wants to be. Maybe we can end at the other end of the smile. What would it take for us to experience the joy of giving up our own “rights” to be the kind of follower, friend, and Jesus-like influence we long to be? Let’s take the next step of following and leading—together!

– Mart