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My Take: Snap out of spiritual slump with Lent
Catholics traditionally mark the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, but Lent is for Protestants too, Mark Batterson writes.
April 3rd, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Take: Snap out of spiritual slump with Lent

Editor's Note: Mark Batterson is lead pastor at the National Community Church in Washington, D.C. He is the author of “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day,” “Wild Goose Chase” and “Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity.”

By Mark Batterson, Special to CNN

When I was a seminary student, my wife and I went to downtown Chicago for a taping of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” When the producer came out to prep us for the show, I was embarrassed for him because he had dirt on his forehead. Didn’t he look in the mirror that morning? Why didn’t someone tell him? My embarrassment for him turned into embarrassment for myself when I discovered it was Ash Wednesday and the dirt on his forehead was actually ashes that symbolized the day of repentance that begins Lent.

I grew up going to a wide variety of Protestant churches, but none of them practiced or even mentioned Lent. It wasn’t until a few years ago, well into my tenure as lead pastor of National Community Church, that I discovered the value of Lent. It has since become a meaningful season in the cycle of my spiritual life. During the last few Lenten seasons, I’ve incorporated a fast into my routine. One year I gave up television. Another year I gave up soda. I’ve also done a variety of food fasts for Lent.

In my experience, giving something up for Lent has made the Easter celebration far more meaningful and even helped me develop the spiritual discipline of fasting. Fasting during Lent has helped me identify with the sacrifices Christ has made for me, and it’s also helped me focus on the reason for the season. The celebration of the resurrection of Christ has become far more meaningful since I started observing Lent.

The church I pastor is a rather non-traditional Protestant church. We are absolutely orthodox in theology but a little unorthodox in practice. We meet in five different theaters around the metro D.C. area. We own and operate a coffeehouse on Capitol Hill that gives all of its net profits to local community projects and humanitarian causes in other countries.

Along with new innovations, however, we’ve also rediscovered the value the ancient traditions. While we may not practice Lent the same way the Catholic church does, we are reinventing it in a way that is meaningful to us. We put our unique fingerprint on those traditions, and that keeps them from being empty rituals.

I’m afraid that many Protestant churches have a very short-term memory. For them, church history only goes back to the Protestant Reformation and Martin Luther. While we may have our theological differences, we share a long history, and I believe there are things that Protestant and Catholic churches can learn from each other in ways that don’t compromise their core beliefs.

I for one am thankful for the Lenten tradition that has been cultivated, celebrated and cherished within the Catholic church. I think more Protestant churches will re-adopt some of those traditions that are part of our common church history from before the Protestant Reformation.

I think of Lent as a spiritual pre-season of sorts. The six Sundays leading up to Easter are considered mini-Easters. Like pre-season games, they prepare us for the ultimate celebration in Christendom: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And one of the benefits, not unlike the Advent celebration surrounding Christmas, is that the celebration is extended to a longer period of time.

A few years ago I came up with a formula for spiritual growth: change of pace + change of place = change of perspective.

Let me explain what it means.

The key to spiritual growth is developing healthy and holy routines. They are called spiritual disciplines. But once the routine becomes routine, you need to disrupt the routine via a change of pace or change of place. Why? Because sacred routines can become empty rituals if you forget why you started doing them in the first place.

I’m certainly not suggesting that routines are bad. Most of us practice a morning ritual that includes showering, brushing our teeth and putting on deodorant. On behalf of your family and friends, continue practicing those routines.

But here’s the spiritual catch-22: good routines can become bad routines if we don’t change the routine. When you start going through the motions spiritually, it’s time to mix up the routine. And Lent is a great opportunity for a natural change of pace.

Lent disrupts the status quo. It can get us out of an old routine and into a new routine.

In physical exercise, routines eventually become counterproductive. If you exercise your muscles the same way every time you work out, your muscles start adapting and stop growing. You need to disorient your muscles by changing your routine. And the same is true spiritually.

When I’m in a spiritual slump, I often snap out of it by a change of pace or a change of place. And it was Jesus who modeled this practice. He would often walk the beach or climb a mountain. I think those changes in geography are not disconnected from the practice of spirituality. It is a simple change of place that precipitates many of the epiphanies that happen in Scripture.

To snap out of a slump, sometimes all it takes is a small change in routine. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter or nursing home. Start keeping a gratitude journal. Get plugged into a small group or Bible study. Take a day off and do a personal retreat. Or just get up a little earlier in the morning and spend a little extra time with God.

One of the small changes in routine that has helped me rejuvenate me is picking up a new translation of Scripture. New words help me think new thoughts. And while you can institute those changes at any time, Lent is a perfect excuse to mix up your spiritual routine.

Why not leverage Lent by mixing up your routine? If you do, you’ll celebrate Easter like you never have before.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Batterson

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Lent • Opinion • Protestant

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soundoff (834 Responses)
  1. Beckah

    As a Catholic I have no problem with people copying Lent and other Catholic traditions, but I was unclear on why it was happening. Unfortunately, this guy doesn't really clear it up for me. Early Protestants were so serious about rejected Lent and other Catholic traditions they were willing to die for it. The theological underpinnings of the Reformation were both hard-thought and literally hard-fought. I can't help but think those Reformation guys might go a little apoplectic that this guy's argument is basically "Lent makes me feel good." They rejected the Catholicism for reasons they took very seriously. I'm not sure this guy is seriously considering those reasons. However, that could just be my little dogmatic Catholic mind expecting everyone to follow traditions when the whole point of Protestantism is to make your own traditions? 🙂

    April 3, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Anna

      I think the author's point isn't that lent makes him "feel good" – it's that lent draws him closer to god, and he goes through various reasons why lent is a valuable spiritual practice. His point isn't to directly support or refute the claims of early protestant writers, but to illustrate why the practice of lent is valuable, particularly with reference to today's modern era. At one point, he subtly criticizes the Protestant church for NOT embracing what he considers to be time-honored Catholic traditions – and despite theological differences, there is a lot of common ground on both sides that can lead all of us closer to god.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • nerdyg

      Frankly, I'm a little mystified why lent is seen as normally being only observed by Catholics. I was raised Methodist, and lent (among other observations often deemed "Catholic") is normal part of our faith tradition. Granted, Methodism through John Wesley rose from the Church of England/Anglican tradition, which itself has many similarities to Catholic practices, so maybe Methodists aren't the greatest example of protestant like those that rose out of the Lutheran tradition.

      Without too much rambling, I guess what I'm trying to say is that Lent is not only a Catholic practice. The inability for a seminary student to understand this, in my opinion, points more to a lack of a full education of the Christian faith in general in that particular seminary.

      April 3, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • CMC

      Who really cares why anyone does anything innocuous that is associated with religious beliefs? If it gives someone's life symbolic deeper meaning, should anyone care what someone who's been dead for centuries would think? If you asked a lot of people why they go to church when they could read their holy books at home, many would say that it "makes them feel good". If that's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.

      April 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • PaulJones

      I think part of the issue is that a lot of Christian denominations don't realize or don't think logically about the fact that there was only one Christian denomination for about 1500 years. Many protestant denominations reject Catholic tradition and many other things Catholic. Many Christians claim to live there faith by Sola Scriptura or "by scripture alone". But they forget or don't think about the fact that it was the Catholic Church's Bishops that composed the bible and kept it all these years and they also forget that for the first century Christians there wasn't even a bible composed yet so they couldn’t live their faith by scripture alone. Also, I was trying to find a few things in the Bible and could locate them. 1. Where does it say for Christians to live by scripture alone? 2. Where is the concept of denominations talked about? From what I find it always refers to “The Church” meaning one church.

      April 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Johnny B. Goode

      I'd be surprised if you weren't supportive of non-Catholics following lent as a Catholic since evangelism is so vital to Christianity as a whole. You do make the point about Protestants and trying to be different from Catholics but I don't think it's as black and white as one would think. There are so many different sects of Christianity that they very well may be a single church in Nowheresville, Montana that has some aspects of Catholicism, such as observing Lent, yet they classify themselves as Protestants.

      But the author is trying to explain the spiritual aspect of Lent and how it can lead to a mentally healthy and spiritual lifestyle that can make you a better person overall. This has nothing to do with Catholicism vs. Protestantism but how the meaning of Lent is so powerful and how the effects it (hopefully) brings can make a difference to anyone from any religion. He finds the concept of giving up something every year which might end up altering your routine can possibly open doors to new things and can improve your life as a whole even beyond Lent. I agree with what he's saying though I disagree with the religious aspect of it. As a non-Christian, I can't relate to the Jesus aspect of Lent but doing something different or having a change of scenery every now and again can be very healthful for anyone. Sometimes it's ok to go outside the box and you might even find something to make your life as a whole worthwhile in the process.

      April 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Babs

      I love this article...I love its longsightedness and its adherence to fundamental Christian beliefs, while at the same time acknowledging that there are theological differences. Nonetheless, rituals such as Lent can benefit all Christians and not compromise the orthodoxy of any stripe of Christian. After all, as Batterson says, we all came from just one religious 'denomination' to begin with; plus there is 'one Lord and father of us all.'

      April 3, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Phillip

      Ok, i posted this hours ago, and it is still "awaiting moderation": I am reposting with any words that could possibly be offensive removed...

      I can't believe I am going to say this, but I agree (almost) completely. I am a Protestant, and if I were to give up anything for Lent, it would be the doctrines and traditions of men. As to your last sentence, we Protestants didn't make up our own traditions, we rather discarded the traditions of men, and returned to the Bible alone as our authority. Lent is the essence of what Jesus was speaking about when he said "you make the Word of God void by your tradition."

      I appreciate your honesty. As a Catholic, you are at least following an older tradition. The "Protestants" of today are trampling on the graves of those who died to free us from the shackles of tradition, and embracing Lent and anything else that makes them feel good simply because it makes them feel good. No wonder Starbucks is our best apologetic... we clearly have nothing else to offer.

      Catholics honestly embrace duel authority (Scripture and Tradition), but Protestants today seem to say "The Bible Alone" and then dip their fingers into the ashes! They might as well go back to Rome: at least the Catholic Church has some history to it.

      Anna: Glad you use lower case to describe the "god" that Lent leads people to: it is the god of their own imagination, but certainly not the God who warns us repeatedly not to add to or take away from His Word. I know this might not be nice enough for some, but Leviticus 10:1-3 is a perfect example of people who want to create and invent some utilitarian tradition to "get closer to God"... care to see how God responds?

      April 3, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  2. mkaipo

    The author doesn't mention the practice of fasting in Orthodox Christian churches which we are called upon to observe on various days and periods throughout the year. In terms of Christ's call to fast: He spoke to His Disciples about WHEN they fast, not IF they fast. The concept of fasting for 'traditional' Christians predates the Church and was a regular part of Judaic law. Additionally, Muslims fast during Ramadan....so, the three mono-Theistic religions have another commonality.

    April 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  3. Jason

    I understand very well, that god/religion is a crutch. The world still exists even though I dont believe in that nonsense, and the same crap happens to me and everyone else no matter how much someone prays for god to be merciful, kind, loving, etc... i couldnt be happier with the way I live my life. Please insert your head back in the sand now.

    April 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • airwx

      In using a personal, singular pronoun 5 times in 3 lines of text speaks volumes as to your focus in life. It also speaks to how much you hurt. Just remember two things:
      1. God is not Santa ....he isn't in the wish business.
      2. God can say yes, no or not yet to any prayer. He said no to Jesus in the Garden....what makes you think every answer will be yes for you?

      April 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • gogogopher

      Jesus said, "Yes" real quick to mauling 42 children with 2 bears. What an answer to the prayer of a new prophet... all because the kids made fun of his bald head...

      April 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Magic

      airwx,

      1. This is a personal opinion forum. Jason offered his. It is not egocentric to voice your thoughts when asked.

      2. Re: "Yes, No, or Wait" answer to prayer - how convenient for the promulgation of the delusion. The same answers are appropriate for praying to a can of tomatoes.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Magic... I was not commenting on egocentric behavior. The comment refered to how much hurt I percieved in his writing. As to delusion....you have said this is a place for opinion....You have yours....

      April 3, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  4. A Goel

    I am Hindu, and I observe Lent. It has helped me in many ways over the years.

    April 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • gogogopher

      hindus and christians are alike. Both are polytheist.... doesn't matter if it's 3 or 3 thousand gods.... it's more than one.
      Never hire a christian accountant. They think 1+1+1=1.
      They never turn in their monthly reports on time....it's every 40 days and 40 nights.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  5. Luke

    What a great message. Praise Jesus for taking away our guilt and promising us eternal life!

    April 3, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • gogogopher

      Jesus smelled the burning flesh of a virgin that was slain by her father.... But not before the father prayed to God/Jesus/Spirit to have victory over an enemy. The father went on to kill everyone in 20 villages..... then came back and made a burnt offering to Christ because he answered a prayer for victory.
      It's all in the Bible.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • airwx

      @gogo....too bad your understanding of the Bible is so limited. You only prove that you have not studied for yourself but must mimic you mentors.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • gogogopher

      air.... i know who wrote it, when, how it was voted on, who were the parties that voted..... how it was put together.... no mimic.

      April 3, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  6. teresa, ohio

    I appreciate the article on Lenten practices and observance. The author says he gave up certain vices for that time. I wonder- did he RETURN to his vices or are they out of his system? I was taught when I give something up, I am to give up something that isn't particurlarly beneficial to me but is a habit. Smoking, foods, tv shows: anything that I have allowed to take up time that could be better spent OR smoking/ foods that are taking Life away from me. In essence, something I am letting have power over me instead of having my own personal God Power Source.

    It's silly to me to give something up for forty days and then dive right back in to the pit. Lent is to better oneself.

    Peace, all. 3 more weeks and He Is risen.

    April 3, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  7. Diane

    Do you even know the TRUTH of the PASSOVER! JESUS BECAME OUR PASSOVER LAMB SO DO IT THE WAY HE AND HIS APOSTLES DID IT! CELEBRATE THE PASSOVER!!http://www.youtube.com/user/amy8587#p/u/13/eaczPosogl0

    April 3, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • gogogopher

      Jesus sent angles (sons of god) to have boom boom with thousands of girls/women. In turn, a race of giants were born. God/Jesus/Allah saw what he'd done. Drowned the entire world because of those giants. However, they appear again later in the Bible. So... they came back to life somehow... oh, I guess the angels came back.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  8. Diane

    Show me in the Holy Bible where it says to observe lent or Easter! From what I can see niether Jesus Christ or his Apostles EVER observed such events!!! Please go back to the basics of the TEACHINGS of Jesus Christ not the Catholic traditions who put to death over 60 million people during the 1260 years of the DARK ages. It was called Dark ages because no one had the knowledge of Christ which is the LiGHT. Please be careful Satan is clever.

    April 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • airwx

      Actually Lent is a rememberence of one of Jesus' acts during his ministry on Earth. During Easter (and personally I celebrate The Pa-ssover timetable) Jesus did command us "as often as you do this, do so in rememberence of Me" So it is a scriptural activity. The time you celebrate is determined by your interpretation of "this". Is it every meal, every Pa-ssover, or at every Covenant meal?

      April 3, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Name*Mark

      Christ celebrated the Passover the deliverance from death. Because Christ is the fulfillment of old law and the beginning of the new covenant with man we practice lent in anticipation of the celebration of Easter.

      April 3, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  9. LookAndSEE

    Christ is our only hope in this world but we MUST know what the Bible says on ALL aspects of our faith. Jesus said,"Your more willing to keep your traditions than My Commandments ". Mark 7:7

    April 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • gogogopher

      Jesus took part in the killing of 42 children when he answered the prayer of a prophet. He used two female bears.
      2nd kings.....

      April 3, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  10. Cridd

    Thank you, Mr. Batterson. Nice article – interesting ideas and thoughts.

    April 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  11. Pathetic

    In a world where people are sick, hungry, and living in poverty I submit that the TRUE sin of voluntarily giving up something just as an exercise is offensive.
    I say... enjoy & revel in what you have!

    April 3, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Cridd

      I mean no disrespect, but I'd like to recommend that you reconsider your perception of Lent. It has always been my understanding that people give up things for Lent because they want to remind themselves of the sacrifices that Jesus made. Sure, in terms of physical survival it is no big deal for someone to avoid eating meat for 40 days out of the year. That's not the point. The point is not for Christians to torture themselves. Rather, when people think about doing things that they have given up for Lent, they are reminded of the sacrifices that Jesus made for their sakes.

      April 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  12. Christopher Dycha

    Excellent post which I agree with. There are many lessons to be learned and small victories won within when we make a continuous effort do without. We practice our ability to be less impulsive and self serving. If you can give up something for a 40 day lenten period then celebrate that goal achievement on Easter, that experience can be used to convince yourself of obtaining harder sacrafices in life. Good luck to all who commit to something and fight the good fight. Christopher Dycha

    April 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  13. Christianity-is-a-Shadow-of-Hinduism

    OK, I've learned a little something about Christianity/Catholicism or whatever. So there is actually some sacrifice you folks make? That's good to know. I used to think you were all hedonistic, superficial, self-righteous people who wanted nothing other than to make the rest of the world just like you – all year round.

    Now I know that you actually give up something once a year! And that something is of your choice! Not a bad deal. So you get spiritual for a few weeks, make a sacrifice of your choice for a little while, and then go back to being the self-indulgent bible-toting folks that you are.

    You must see how this looks from the persective of a member of an Eastern religion. What you do in Lent for a short period, we do all our lives – giving up meat, fasting a day each week, giving up our comfort in the process of respecting all life, and committing to other sacrifices that you cannot begin to understand. I wonder, if something is right to do once a year, why is it not right the whole year?

    So hang in there! In just a few weeks you can go back to your routine and living it up!

    Religions are NOT all the same.
    .....

    April 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Name*Mark

      Catholics are called to fast every Friday in remembrance of Christ's crucifiction It is the protestantization that has diluted our traditional activities to make catholisizam more tolerable to the masses.

      April 3, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • No West no East... just me

      No one was comparing Eastern and Western religion. And no one asked for a criticism. This writer is actually showing how two religions that used to be opposed to each other that led to thousands of deaths can actually adopt beliefs and intermingle. That's basically it. So what's the Eastern religion rant all about. It's typical of anyone from any religion to be critical of religions that differ greatly in belief. So how about minding your own business and carrying on with your beliefs instead of showing how righteous YOU can be by dogging other religions?

      April 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Flipper

      "I used to think you were all hedonistic, superficial, self-righteous people who wanted nothing other than to make the rest of the world just like you – all year round."

      Hey "Christianity-is-a-Shadow-of-Hinduism," I thought you were talking about Christianity, not atheism.

      April 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • airwx

      Congratulatiolns on having a belief system to guide you each day. My only comment is to help you understand the deeper purpose of Lent. Lent is observed to remind us of the need to live a spiritual, not a temporal life. Hindu and Buddhist Monks practice in a similar manner with their fasting. Our daily/weekly fasting or sacrifice is to make more of what we have available to the poor and needy. If one person had been a true Christian instead of a ra-cist, Ghandi would have converted to Christianity!

      April 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Cridd

      Sir or Madam – I know a lot of Christians (myself included) who would applaud you for striving to do the right thing year round.

      However, you and Name*Mark dilute the goodness of your deeds by flaunting them and comparing them to the deeds of others. Don't tell me how good of a person you are – do what you think is right, and teach others to do what is right.

      April 3, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • lisa

      I once felt very much the same way you do regarding Christians- many so-called Christians are just as you describe them. However, it is totally ignorant to paint with such a wide brush overall. There is a broad and growing movement towards "true" Christianity, i.e. following the direct teachings of Christ: Love for ALL, peace, social equality, help for the disadvantaged etc..... Original Christianity was immediately seen as "dangerous" as it promoted a direct relationship with God (no need for a middle-man (church/temple)). It was then co-opted to maintain power over the masses. Those shackles are just beginning to fall away, as many are discovering for the first time what "real Christianity" can look like. Throughout history many terrible things have been done in the name of the prominent faiths of the world, and many of the "faithful" have been the biggest hypocrites. That should not overshadow the true tenets of the faiths. Man will sin, and sin again, that is why the teachings exist. Shane Claiborne's "The Irresistable Revolution: Living As An Ordinary Radical" was a big wakeup for me, as I learned that there are many out there that really are attempting to live their lives as Jesus would have prescribed. It is still hard for me at times to publicly pronounce my faith as a Christian, lest I should be associated with the likes of those you have described. It is up to all of us to live the example and sway the opinions.... I would also like to point out that early Christianity was VERY similar to Hinduism. Take a look at many of the early texts that have been uncovered in the past century: The Gnostic Gospels, the Dead Sea Scrolls, The Nag Hammadi scrolls..... The basic tenets of Christianity are virtually identical to Hinduism. Please follow the teaching of your own faith and practice love, tolerance and understanding towards ALL people. There is certainly plenty of hypocrisy amongst the the Hindu populations as well....

      April 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • SueG

      You're mistaken that the essence of what giving up something during Lent is not meant to be carried through after the season. The purpose of denying ourselves of something is to help us realize that we don't really "need" those things. It is to become stronger spiritually and to reflect on the things that we have in our lives that can become distractions. We are also called to become more charitable during Lent, to redirect our attention to what Christians are called to do – help on another. It's unfortunate that you jumped to the conclusion that the lessons learned and practiced during the Lenten season are not meant to become a part of our daily lives. As humans we can have the tendency to stray from our intended path, so the beauty of Lent is that we get the opportunity to keep trying.

      April 3, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Christianity-is-a-Shadow-of-Hinduism

      Thank you for all your comments below. It is difficult to discuss these points on such a forum so let me make 2 main points that I think you will agree are undeniable.

      1) I don't care what anyone in any religion or school of thought or philisophy does. Nor do I want to teach about Eastern philosophies. But when one religion decides it is the "right" one and goes around the world pushing itself on others and converting others because they are "lost" or killing others because they won't convert, that's where I have a problem. Christianity has done this throughout history and they do it now in more subtle and deceitful ways in my own home country – I know first hand. This is a fact and it is extremely offensive. (Islam is no angel either but we're focused on Christianity here).

      Now, when you couple the fact that to those in the East, Christianity seems like a barbaric relgiion (my opinion here) based on the conqusts, slaughters, and slavery, etc, they have engaged IN THE NAME OF CHRISTIANITY (e.g., Manifest Destiny), meat eating, etc. you can understand why we don't have a favorable view.

      2) Now, to explain why we cannot take your concept of Lent seriously (again, no officense intended, but I'm trying to be honest about how we view things). We see a Western world (mostly the US) who claims to be a deeply religious country of faith who is at the same time the most wasteful, hedonistic, imperialistic, war-mongering and self righteous country in history who takes some time during the spring season to talk about sacrifice, well, you can see how we perceive that as just a tad bit disingenuous.

      Then you come to my country and tell my people how lost they are without your Jesus! Please, take your Bible and leave.

      You may hate what I wrote but you can't deny history.

      April 4, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  14. Kim Kaminski

    I am glad to see the topic of Lent discussed openly in this publication. However, while you state that, "We are absolutely orthodox in theology," I was disappointed to see no mention of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which is truly The Faith that has cultivated–and celebrates and cherishes Great and Holy Lent–in the way it was originally established by Christ and his Apostles. I encourage you to explore http://www.goarch.org if you are looking for a deeper meaning to Lent and to really understand the roots of Christianity in an unbiased, historical forum. God bless!

    April 3, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  15. Jeus Is Lord

    My church does a 21 day first every January. I have gone without food completely (water only) during several of these fasts. It's amazing how much closer you become to God when you give up food. I've heard it said that "just as alcohol dulls the physical senses, food dulls the spiritual senses". I know from experience that this is true.

    Anyway, I like the comments that this pastor made in this article. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ – He is the only way to the Father in Heaven. Peace.

    April 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Magic

      Jeus,
      "It's amazing how much closer you become to God when you give up food."

      Many people wax rhapsodic about the 'spiritual' benefits of ritual partial asphyxiation too. The brain is a fragile thing. Deprived of necessary nutrients and elements, delusional experiences are common. Be careful what you believe and claim to be real.

      April 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Jeus Is Lord

      @magic

      There is only one truth and Jesus Christ said that He is the way, the truth and the life. Why do you doubt?

      April 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      "Jeus Is Lord" wrote: "There is only one truth and Jesus Christ said that He is the way, the truth and the life. Why do you doubt?"

      Why do you believe? There have been many con artists in the past who have said that their way is the truth... why do we tend to treat them as either delusional beings or scammers?

      April 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Magic

      Jeus,
      "Jesus Christ said that He is the way, the truth and the life."

      Did he? Or is that something that John (or someone else writing under that name) *said* that he said?

      April 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  16. Name*Mark

    Protestant means to protest. Meaning I will not obey.

    April 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  17. elenita

    "God must exist so that no man will claim to posses absoluter truth"
    you decide the real meaning of this statement.

    April 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  18. Floyd

    The people like "gods truth" who obsess about pedophiles are kinda weird. Maybe that's one reason I gave up religion for Lent decades ago.

    April 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  19. j

    Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid, or produces only atheists and fanatics.

    April 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  20. AtheistsHardTruth

    Just like, nothing can stop Atheist from peeing and poooh poooh-ing inside the fox hole they're dwelling in.

    April 3, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.