ReThinking Lent – Day 23: No

I live in the DC area and yesterday we were forecast to have a big snowstorm.  It turned out to be  a couple of degrees warmer and while we did have some snow, it was mostly rain.  It is March after all, and I thought to myself that Spring was putting its foot down.  No, Winter.  I win.

It reminded me of the promise that God made way back in the beginning of the Story:

No.  I win.

Flowers snow

© stephanie l brown 2013

And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.

-Genesis 3:15

ReThinking Lent – Day 22: Shadow

Theodore Roosevelt Island © stephanie l brown 2013

Theodore Roosevelt Island © stephanie l brown 2013

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

(James 1:17 ESV)

ReThinking Lent – Day 20: Bless

Last night, somebody asked me how my 40 day photo journey was going.  I told him that when I first looked at the list of “topics” on the different days that I was a little perplexed as to how I was going to put that into a photo.  But, as it turns out, it has turned into my own personal bible study.  The photos that I’ve posted are not at all what I would have imagined them to be in the beginning of this project.  I have studied scripture in a new way.  I have gained amazing followers whom I have learned so much from by reading their blogs and seeing the photos that they post.

I’m halfway through and totally, completely blessed by the experience.


In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

(Matthew 5:16 ESV)


And, just because I believe that God has a sense of humor (we are made in his image, right?), I can’t help but post this.  It is, after all, the first thing that came to mind:



ReThinking Lent – Day 17: Prophet

What do you think of when you think of a prophet?

Webster’s defines prophet in this way:


noun \ˈprä-fət\

  1. one who utters divinely inspired revelations
  2. one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight
  3. one who foretells future events
  4. an effective or leading spokesman for a cause, doctrine, or group

There are many religious and non-religious prophets that can be named. I think a lot of us tend to combine 1 and 3 above when we think of a religious prophet. And, certainly there are many prophets throughout the bible who were inspired by God and accurately foretold future events. But, it’s important to remember point 4 above as well because it applies to all of us. Any one of us can be an effective spokesperson for a cause, doctrine or group.

And as it applies to Christians, I believe that the bible refers to every believer as a prophet. Let me explain.

Every believer is led by the Holy Spirit to discern the truth (1 John 2:20, 27). Every believer is directed to admonish with the word of Christ (Col. 3:16), as well as to instruct (Rom. 15:14) and encourage other believers (Heb. 3:13). The bible is full of exhortations for Christians to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be able to articulate cogent reasons for their faith to non-Christians. In order to do that effectively, we must read, ponder and love the Word of God. We must study it in order that we may interpret it properly and so that we can see the gospel in every situation. And, certainly there are those who are more gifted at this (see point 2 above), but that doesn’t mean we aren’t all charged with being a spokesperson for our cause — the Gospel.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

-Colassians 3:16

ReThinking Lent – Day 18: Leave

I have scars on my feet from an incident that occurred when I was a little girl. I am not sure I even really remember it or if I’ve conjured up memories from being told the story over the years.

My mother was young when she had me and I spent a lot of time with my grandparents while she got her college degree. I loved my grandparents dearly but you know how it is with 3 year olds…they don’t like it when their mom leaves. This particular day, my mother, grandmother and I were in a parking lot at the visitors center in a National Park where my grandfather was a park ranger. I saw a sky blue Volkswagen beetle, just like the one my mother drove, pulling out of a parking spot. I ran and grabbed onto the bumper of that car and it drug me through the parking lot while my mother and grandmother chased it down. I imagine they were horrified. But, apparently I did not want to be left.

Nobody wants to be left. But, everyone will leave us eventually.  Except Jesus.

Jesus has scars on his feet, too. To be sure, his are infinitely more significant than mine. They are a result of his being nailed to a cross and dying for my sins. He did it so that we would have ever lasting life. He did it so we would never be alone. He did it because he promised to never leave us.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 ESV)

ReThinking Lent – Day 16: Earthly

I recently had a discussion with a group of people about the parable of the rich young man (Mark 10:17-24).  In a nutshell (and I’m paraphrasing), a guy asks Jesus what it’s going to take to get to heaven because he’s been really good — he’s followed the commandments…he hasn’t murdered, committed adultery, stolen anything, lied or gossiped and he’s honored his parents.  Basically, he’s wondering if that’s enough.  Jesus responds in this way (v. 21):

“You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

And, the guy leaves.  It’s too much to ask.

The question that everyone seems to ask is:  “Am I supposed to actually do that?”

My answer (and I’m not saying it’s right or wrong):  It depends.

I think we get too hung up on what Jesus actually told this guy to do (sell everything and give to the poor) and not what I believe to be the point:  Jesus was exposing what he was lacking in order to fully follow him.

In this guy’s case, his functional savior…the thing that he thought he couldn’t live without…was his money and possessions.  It’s what he valued.  It’s what he thought about.  It’s what made him happy.  It’s what gave him a sense of worth.  It’s the thing that “saved” him.  Jesus was telling the rich young guy that he can’t have two gods and that one had to go. And, we see what he chose.

I think this parable is asking us to look at what our functional savior is.  What is getting in the way of following Christ?  What are our earthly possessions?  What do we think we cannot live without?  What would cause us great distress to lose?  What are we NOT willing to sacrifice under any circumstances?  What are we lacking?

The bottom line is that I don’t think everyone is called to sell everything they own and give it to the poor, although I would argue that it’s probably something we need to be willing to do.  And to be clear, I absolutely believe that we are called to take care of the poor under any and all circumstances.   I don’t think that having material wealth is necessarily a bad thing.  But, if it’s what we put our faith in, that’s when it becomes a problem.  And if it causes you great discomfort to imagine giving everything you have away, it’s probably something worth praying about.

shopping_imgAnd he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
(Luke 12:15 ESV)

ReThinking Lent – Day 15: Hear

A few years ago, I went through an interesting prayer exercise.  We were paired up with another person, whom we did not know very well, for prayer time.  We did not share our prayers and concerns — rather we sat together and prayed for each-other as the Spirit led us.  It was difficult.  I didn’t know what to pray — what to ask for — how to intercede.    I spent the first few minutes rather frustrated.  But, then I remembered that God already knew and I needed him to tell me.  After a period of time, we shared with the other person what our prayers were.  When I heard what this woman had prayed for me, I was blown away — and vice versa.  To be clear, it was not a psychic experience — we didn’t all of a sudden know the names of long lost relatives.  But, in opening up ourselves to the Spirit — and not having the filter of knowing the other person’s perceived wants and needs — we were able to pray things that were much bigger than either of us would have ever prayed for ourselves.

I think we often spend a lot of time regurgitating things we hear from others — or we have presuppositions about what the Bible says or what we think God wants for our lives (or what we want God to want for our lives).  And, they aren’t necessarily always bad things, but we forget to let the Scriptures speak for themselves.  We have conditioned ourselves to hear what we want to hear.  And that can be scary because that’s when we start taking Scripture out of context so that it fits for us.  We can also deprive ourselves from knowing God more fully because our “favorite passages” emphasize only certain attributes and characteristics.  We are in danger of having a lower view of God than we should because we don’t comprehend how big our God is — and what he is capable of doing in our world…and our lives.

I pray that we can all hear God’s words in a new and fresh way this Lenten season.


Ganesh, family dog. Circa 1978

Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
(Isaiah 55:3 ESV)