Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Life on the Line

What are you giving up for Lent? I know it's a little early to ask, especially since most of us are still struggling to keep our New Year's resolutions. It's also a question that more generally applies to Catholics than Protestants, but the practice has been spreading into the evangelical culture and is becoming more popular.

If you aren't familiar with the practice, it's common to fast or give up something entirely for the Lenten season of Ash Wednesday through Easter. This year it falls from Feb. 17 to Apr. 4. It's usually around 40 days, this year 46. People often give up chocolate, caffeine, swearing, or even television. The focus is supposed to be on anything that may detract from your relationship with God, although it's now more about anything unhealthy.

Several years ago, I gave up watching soap operas for Lent. I discovered that I was watching them every day and going online to several blogs and forum sites when they weren't on TV. I admitted it as an addiction and gave them up. It's only been recently that I started watching again, but not every day, and I often turn them off if I feel that they are distracting me from something important. If I ever feel that it's a problem, I'll drop them in a heartbeat again.

This year I'm doing something different. I'm not giving up something that I think is unhealthy or separating me from God, but back in September of last year, God gave me this idea, and I'm going to run with it.

Last year I read 430 books; the year before that 444. I do a LOT of reading. Plus I read through the Bible every year, 3 chapters and a Psalm/Proverb a night. This year for Lent, I'm giving up all books except for the Bible. It's been killing me to turn down all of the blog tours that I've been receiving invitations for but fall during that time period. I did sign up for a few at the beginning of the time, but I will read them before Ash Wednesday and just post the tours on time. I can't do that for all of the other books I'd love to read and review.

However, giving up all those books doesn't mean I will be doing any less reading during Lent! I will be reading the Bible just as assiduously as I do other books, so I am hoping to make it through the Bible several times during those 40 days. I'd like to read different versions than I've previously read in hopes of deepening my understanding of the Good Book. I've already picked up The Message, and I'll read through Jesse's King James Version and maybe his New American Standard if I can.

I wonder what it will be like reading the Bible 6-8 hours a day. What will happen to my faith? I intend to continue blogging hopefully daily during Lent in order to share what I'm learning and where the journey is taking me.

I am giving myself one out: I can't just stop reading Mia her nightly bedtime story, so we'll keep working our way through Beverly Cleary and James Howe. I'm very torn about my weekly subscriptions to Entertainment Weekly and TIME. What do you think? Would I be breaking my vow by reading them? Please email or post your opinions in the comments!

Life on the Line by Al Gibson is the astounding story of Des and Ros Sinclair miraculous ministry around the world. When Des was just eleven years old, his father through him out of his New Zealand home to live in the garbage dumps of the city with the rest of the outcasts. God spoke to the young boy and gave his a message of hope that he would became a minister of the Word. Des, in the first of many miracles God provided, found a Bible in the dump, taught himself to read it, and then preached to his fellow outcasts. This was just the beginning for Des who would be ordained at the young age of 18, face several near-death experiences, and witness shocking healings in Africa, the Philippines, and South America. His marriage to Ros has only strengthened his ministry as the two work together to bring God's Word to all who are in need. The Sinclair's story is stunning, almost unbelievable, and there will be many who don't believe their stories of the dead coming back to life, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. If the reader listens carefully to their words however, they are careful to always give all praise and glory to God and keep the focus off of themselves. Des' words about God's leading rings true and is always in line with Scripture. The story falters in places, not due to the Sinclairs, but because of Gibson's writing. On occasion when he tries to recreate conversations, he makes them too perfect. Gang members don't use the Queen's English, and it makes their testimony seem stilted and scripted. Gibson also uses Des' near-death experience and vision of Heaven as a frame for the rest of their story which doesn't always work, because it isn't told chronologically. Des and Ros' story is so powerful that it shines through the sometimes dull prose and gives hope that God is still actively working in the world for those who seek Him.

Thank you to Kregel Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book for review.

I took today's pic on Saturday at the cheer competition. I was hoping to get a nice picture of my son and me. Instead, he gave me this!


Ashasnana said...

What a worthy goal for Lent, Christy! I recently bought the Chronological Bible and love reading it--maybe give that a try for Lent.