LENT FASTING IS FEASTING!

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LENT: FASTING IS FEASTING
2019 Lent Theme: Healthy Habits

Starting from Last Year WJBC started participating in a practice known as LENT. We announced it 2 Sundays ago, but I wanted to take some time to explain it a little bit more thoroughly. When is Lent, what/why is Lent, and what are we Lent-ing? After that some FAQs!

WHEN IS LENT?
LENT for 2019 for WJBC is from March 6th (Next week Wednesday) until April 21st (Easter Sunday). 
- Some people do LENT differently, like some end it on the Thursday before Good Friday or they don’t do LENT on Sundays. They all start on March 6th though. For WJBC, we are just going to keep it simple and start March 6th and end on Easter AFTER our Sunday Service!

WHAT/WHY IS LENT?
- Whenever Easter comes around every year, we celebrate Lord Jesus’s victory over sin and death. Easter is a time of victory, grace, triumph, and freedom! However, we have to remember that the way Jesus achieved that victory is through His humility (Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus is KING of KINGS!!! But the King decided to show His love for us by becoming a Servant of Servants. To save us, Jesus left all the comforts of Heaven to become a servant on Earth. That is how much He loves us. 
- Therefore, to prepare our hearts for Easter, the tradition of Lent is simply a time where we commit our hearts to experience just a small amount of sacrifice so that we can join Him in His humility and sacrifice. Lent is a time of turning away from the pleasures of the world and focusing more intentionally on His sacrificial life, His sacrificial love, and His sacrificial glory. 
- The point of Lent is not to make us “holier” or “more acceptable” before God, because no amount of fasting can ever do that (Colossians 2:16-23). Lent is NOT about spiritually leveling up. Lent is simply about making our hearts more focused on Jesus and helping us understand a little bit more how much He sacrificed for us. If it is this hard for us to fast something for a little over a month, how did Jesus give up all His heavenly comfort and die on a cross for us? Lent is not about spiritually leveling up, Lent is about refocusing on Jesus.
- Lastly, some people ask why we participate in Lent if it is a Catholic practice. Technically, Lent is just a Christian practice, not necessarily a Catholic one. The Catholic Church, back in the day, turned Lent into a mandatory fast which would be rewarded with spiritual merit and gain. Though Protestants, also back in the day, fought the practice of Lent, they were simply fighting the idea of a mandatory fast for the sake of spiritual merit and gain (since Colossians 2 proves that it is wrong). However, that does not mean that Protestants are necessarily against the idea of fasting or preparing our hearts before Easter. 
Many times, people tend to oversimplify the Protestant view and say that we are anti-tradition and that the Catholics are pro-tradition. Protestants are not anti-tradition or even anti-ritual. We simply believe that traditions and rituals are not the basis of our righteousness and acceptance before God (only Jesus is!). However, we still believe that traditions and rituals can (and should) be used to benefit our faith. As long as we do not make it the basis of our righteousness, traditions and rituals can be embraced to encourage our faith, not replace it. For instance the Sacraments (like Baptism and Communion) are both traditions and rituals that are meant to strengthen our faith and remind us of the Gospel instead of replacing the Gospel. 
That is why as a Church, it is helpful for our faith to identify healthy and Gospel-focused traditions and rituals that will remind us of the Gospel in our daily lives. And Lent is one of them.
So to summarize everything, Lent is a special tradition of fasting before Easter for the sake of better understanding Jesus’s sacrifice, putting away worldly distractions, and focusing even more on God through His word. We do not practice Lent in the same way the Catholics do, we do not believe it gives us spiritual merit, love, acceptance, or holiness before the Lord (because that is from Jesus alone). Rather we use Lent as a way to remind us more about the Gospel rather than replacing it!

WHAT ARE WE LENT-ING?
Videos (plus anything else if you feel called to add it)! Why videos? 
- Since we were all born and raised in a media-saturated world, videos have (sometimes unintentionally) become how many of us cope with life and fill our time. It gives us stimulus. It gives us emotions. It gives us something to look forward to and it gives us ways to de-stress. We are emotionally and psychologically dependent on them. Videos are a big part of how our generation faces life.
- The reason we want to cut videos out of our lives for Lent is to remind our hearts that the Spirit is how we want to face life. The Spirit and the Word is how we want to overcome a bad crappy day. The Spirit and the Word is what we want to invest our time in. We want to remind our hearts of New Testament fasting, that we have tasted and seen that Jesus is good and we want to sharpen and indulge our hunger for Him.
- Therefore, while we are not watching videos for LENT, the point is not just to avoid videos but more importantly to fill that time with Bible reading, praying, and worshipping. It’s not about cutting things out of our lives, it’s about refocusing our hearts on Christ Jesus alone. That is why ultimately, Fasting is about Feasting. Fasting is when we cut off the junk of small and sinful and distracting pleasures, and choose to FEAST on the great goodness of God. Fasting is Feasting. 
- Once again, we are not fasting to get more of God. We are fasting because we already HAVE God, and we want to enjoy our relationship even more by focusing on Him and depending on Him. We want to learn to trust Him more by making HIM the reason we can face each day, He is the reason we can face life.

FAQ:
1. What should I do during LENT?
The key is FASTING is FEASTING! It’s not about what you give up but what you put in its place! Let’s say hypothetically I watched 4 hours of videos a day. And let’s say during Lent I stop watching videos completely. If I just then replace it with 4 hours of video games a day, then I am not really fasting. Because fasting is not just about stopping something, it is about focusing on God.

So I would say that we should be very intentional with what we do with the free time we gain when we stop watching videos.
I am going to post about this more as LENT comes up, but I want us to establish HEALTHY HABITS during our 2019 Season of Lent. What this means, going back to the previous example, is that if I now have 4 hours of free time, I should now spend 1 hour in the Bible and Prayer (this is the FEASTING of Fasting), 1 hour maybe exercising (sign up for Tough Mudder Pastor Noah!), 1 hour reading a book or learning a hobby or practicing music etc, and maybe 1 hour napping. That way we can replace the video time with healthy time with the Lord and with others. By focusing on building HEALTHY HABITS during Lent 2019, we want to transform Fasting into Feasting!

2. What counts as a Video? Do Instastories, GIFs, Facebook Videos count?
I would say if you are fasting videos, try to fast instastories and facebook videos as well. It’s not so much about the Format as it is about the Heart. If you are not watching Netflix and Youtube, many of us would just binge on Facebook or Instastories LOL! That is why it’s best to cut them out too and count them as videos, because we would just cut out one type of video for another type.

However, that is why though GIFs are moving pictures too, I don’t think we have to necessarily cut them out, because I don’t think most of us just scroll through GIFs to fill our hearts and our days. IF you do that, then cut them out too, but I think that most of us aren’t really spending our freetime scrolling through GIFs.

3. What if I have to use Videos for work?
I know some of you have media focused jobs and in those cases, use videos for your job. Once again, it’s about the heart. So feel free to use Videos for your work place, but be very vigilant in guarding your heart. Because you will know when you are watching something for work vs watching it for your own heart!

Maybe if you want (this is not required though), maybe you can add something else to your Lent Fast to help you really feel like you are sacrificing something hard. But that is entirely optional!

4. Can I Fast something else instead of Videos for LENT?
YES! If videos are not a big part of your life or if you can think of something that your heart is more dependent on, then yes! I would still encourage you to Fast videos so you can struggle TOGETHER with the rest of WJBC, but feel free to Fast whatever God is calling you to!

Last year, some extra things people fasted during LENT in ADDITION to videos was Meat (Sam Kwak and I did this), some people did Online Shopping, Social Media in general, Make Up, Memes, etc etc. We will try to have some sort of way so we can keep each other accountable in our Fast.

5. What if I fail during LENT?
Remember, we have been saying over and over and over (and we will say it over and over during Lent), if you fail your fast, it’s ok. Remember, no ritual or tradition can make you more or less righteous before God. Because everything is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you fail, just get up and try again. And even if you fail every day, remember, God’s view of you HAS NOT CHANGED. Because our identity is in the blood of Jesus Christ alone!!

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God bless you all!! Yes LENT will be difficult, but we cannot grow strong spiritually, emotionally, and even psychologically if we only do easy things. Let's struggle TOGETHER this year and also start to develop HEALTHY HABITS that will help us grow throughout 2019!