Tomorrow – February 14: A trifecta of special events
Valentine’s Day – Sammy’s Heart Birthday – Ash Wednesday
16 years ago on Valentine’s Day, Sammy opened his Valentine’s Day cards and, shortly thereafter, his heart to Jesus. From that point forward, Valentine’s Day carried with it a double celebration. Love for one another and love from and for God.
Observing heart birthdays in our home rivals most celebrations for prominence. The day commences with heart shaped waffles and concludes with a favorite meal, a heart shaped dessert, and a gift to encourage spiritual growth with Jesus into the next year. During the meal, the celebrant tells the story of his or her first heart birthday and highlights some of God’s gracious acts and movements since then.
Sammy’s heart birthday, we remember this week, and then, we observe Gary’s heart birthday on February 25, Sophie’s on Good Friday and mine on July 26.
These yearly highlights remind us to whom we belong and provide opportunity to encourage and spur each other on in our journey with Jesus.
Have you ever celebrated your heart birthday, or that of loved ones? Perhaps you don’t remember the exact date you gave your heart to Jesus, instead recall a significant moment when you realized you belonged to Jesus and committed your life to Him. Pick a day to observe and celebrate the time when, in the words of Jesus, you were “born again” or born of the Spirit (see John 3:5). Share how God fills your cup and anticipate spiritual increase for the next year.
Some jokingly refer to Valentine’s Day as a ploy of the card and gift industry. Yet, history reveals a man named Valentine existed and lived devoted to Jesus Christ.
Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, why not focus on the exceedingly abundant love of God this Valentine’s Day? Count the ways you see, experience and know God’s love.
The Bible overflows with verses describing, demonstrating, and detailing the love of Christ. Soak in the goodness of His love on Valentine’s Day and let God fill your cup. Because of God’s great love for mankind, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth. He lived a perfect life, showing us the way to know God intimately. Jesus gave His life, so that we, sinful broken humanity might experience a restored relationship with God.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a time set aside to remember and prepare our hearts for Easter. Lent constitutes the 40 days prior to Easter. Actually there are 46 days, but Sundays, known as feast days, are not counted. The seventh feast day, Easter, is the climax of the season.
Lent is a time to prepare one’s heart for Easter and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Lent combines both reflection and action, with the intent for growing deeper in one’s relationship with Jesus. Although not required anywhere in Scripture, Lent is a custom which Christians have practiced for centuries.
Just as Advent leads to Christmas, Lent leads to Easter.
Lent helps us focus on the core practices of the Sermon on the Mount: (1) almsgiving, which is giving, sharing, and being generous to needy people (“When you give alms…” Matthew 6:2), (2) prayer (“When you pray…” Matthew 6:5), and (3) fasting (“When you give fast…” Matthew 6:16).
Purposeful intention characterizes Lent. Over the years, as a family, we have fasted from chocolate, coffee, soda pop, high fructose corn syrup, TV, movies, social media and more.
Why fast? Not to deprive ourselves of something, but to make room for someone, Jesus! We fast, so we can feast on Jesus in our hearts. Fasting creates space.
Likewise, serving others, cleaning through closets and drawers, saving extra dollars and coins enable generous acts of sharing: giving to those in need. Perhaps life squeezes prayer into the corner; during Lent practice praying a centering prayer throughout the day to focus on Jesus, or reflect on your day before bed with the Lord, or set an alarm midday for prayer. God loves it when we commune with Him. What are ways to incorporate prayer, giving and fasting into this Lenten season so as to prepare our hearts for Jesus and His resurrection? Don’t just let the season fly by – the possibilities for the spigot of God to extravagantly fill our cups exist in this Lenten space.
I’ve created a daily Lent calendar. Each day highlights something to consider connected to the three areas of Lent: giving, prayer, fasting. Growth in loving Jesus, following Jesus, and loving others remains the emphasis. May God transform our hearts as we journey with Jesus through this Lenten season. Let Him fill your cup.
Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:15-19
…and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.
Hawkins, Pamela C., The Awkward Season. Nashville, TN 2009
Lewis, C.S., Preparing for Easter. New York, NY: HarperCollins Books, 2017
Sabuda, Robert, Saint Valentine. New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1992
Smith, James Bryan, The Kingdom and the Cross. Downers Grove, IL, 2010