Lenten Season: Preparing for Easter
Ash Wednesday is on March 6th, the start of the Lenten season. The tradition of Lent is being reclaimed by many evangelicals of our time. A recent study says that 30% of people in our tradition who attend church at least once a month observe some form of Lent.
The main concept of Lent is setting aside 40 days (actually 46 minus the 6 Sundays before Easter) to prepare for Easter celebration. The disciplines of giving up something or adding a spiritual practice prepares us for Passion week, when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, died on Good Friday and rose on Resurrection Sunday.
There are four themes associated with the Lenten season. The first and best known theme is that it is a time of giving up some food or pleasure. A second theme is to stop a bad habit during Lent (and hopefully beyond). The third theme of Lent is to add spiritual disciplines to our lives, such as added prayer or Bible study. The last theme of Lent is to add a charitable or compassion ministry to our usual routine.
Fasting was a common practice in the early church and throughout the history of the church. Daniel fasted by only eating fruit and vegetables. Jesus and others went without food for a 40 day period. Modern times has added forgoing various pleasures in the name of fasting.
Fasting can add health benefits and strengthen character. As Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Galatians 5 tells us that one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is self control. Resisting physical hunger strengthens us to say no to ungodly hungers that tempt the believer to sin.
Some ideas for fasting are as follows: You could skip lunch every Wednesday and set aside that time to pray. Some chose to not eat one day a week during Lent. You could go without desserts, drop soda from you diet, or stop eating meat for Lent. Most of us would be better off fasting TV, news channels, the Internet, Twitter or Facebook.
Someone mentioned to me that they were drinking only water through Lent and money normally spent on coffee and soda would be donated to a charity.
There are many practices you can chose to get closer to Christ in preparation for Easter. Consider increasing your daily Bible reading schedule. You may want to dedicate added time for prayer. You may spend time memorizing a chapter of the Bible between now and Easter. One idea may be to skip a regular TV program and take that hour to read your Bible and pray. Consider joining a friend or family member to study Scripture and pray together.
Visiting the needy or helping a worthy cause is a great way to prepare for Easter. It might be a good idea to take your children to a nursing home and have them learn about various needs in our culture.
Our church offers various Bible studies and ways to draw closer to Christ. An important ministry of our church is a 6:00 AM Prayer Service on Wednesdays and Saturdays. For many of us, the discipline of getting up early to pray with others is a helpful discipline at any time of the year, but especially during Lenten season.
Be encouraged to take time in the 40 plus days before Easter this year to strengthen your faith and draw closer to Jesus. God says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Global Impact Day: March 9th
You’re invited to join Metro District C&MA’s biennial Global Impact Day… where the local church will be inspired, equipped and networked for high-impact disciple-making HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE.
Come learn about C&MA Missions work all around the world. Global Impact Day is a gathering of Alliance missions leaders and representatives from the National office and international workers around the world aimed at motivating, inspiring and equipping local churches to make global impact through the network of Alliance ministries across the globe.
The event will take place at Stonecrest Community Church in Warren, NJ on Saturdsay, March 9th. Global Impact Day will start at 9:00 AM and conclude at about 3:00 PM. Those carpooling from church will meet at 8:00 AM. The cost is covered by our church and an offering will be taken at the event. Lunch is included. A major focus this year is that there are 60 new International Workers prepared to go overseas, but we need to respond and embrace God’s vision for our organization.
A number of us attended the last Global Impact Day in 2017. We encourage the congregation to sign-up as soon as possible and plan to invest a day in learning how we can share in God’s plan for the nations.
Recently a few women in our church suggested some good Christian books worth reading. We are created to lifetime learners and Fort Lee Gospel would encourage further exchange of ideas regarding beneficial books.
Praying Circles around Your Children by Mark Batterson. Comment: Quick read with practical examples and illustrations – you will rethink how to pray and what to pray for your children.
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. Comment: Thoughtful read and a reminder to be still – perfect for busy women seeking balance.
Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian. Comment: Looking for direction and meaning to your prayer life? Check out this book – you won’t be disappointed.
Disappointment with God by Phillip Yancey. Comment: We’ve all been there – disappointed with God when He doesn’t behave or do as we think He should. This book is a deep read and will help you to understand where God is when it hurts.
NOTE: CBD.com is a good source for purchasing Christian books. Also, try your local library.
Remember to put into practice what you have learnt from your reading and let us know what you think! Please pass on ideas of good Christian books.
Church Cleaning Day: Saturday, March 30
We are planning to hold a Spring Cleaning Day on Saturday, March 30th. We will start at 9:00 AM and hope to be done by about noon.
We are thankful for the building that God has given us to steward. In addition to our congregation, we host three other congregations along with some other ministries throughout the week. The heavy use of the building if for the glory of God but we also need to do a thorough cleaning from time to time. Join us if you can on the morning of March 30th as we spruce up our church building.
March Events at Fort Lee Gospel Church
11:00 AM Worship Service Our weekly service including worship through singing, prayer, preaching and fellowship. Nursery and three children’s classes are available.
9:00 AM Chinese Worship Service The Chinese worship service is led by Pastor Sandy and she can be reached at 917-593-0420.
1:30 PM Korean Worship Service Contact Pastor Jaedoo Lee for further details at 646-464-2448.
5:30 PM Spanish Worship Service Contact Rev. Esteban Canales at 973-510-8834 for more details.
7:00 PM, Mar 3 & 17 Evening Service Our Sunday evening service usually meets on the first and third Sunday of the month.
1:30 PM, Mar 10 & 24 NYC Nursing Home Ministry A group leads a service twice a month at a nursing home in NYC.
12:30 PM, Mar 17 Church Dinner Our monthly meal will take place after the worship service.
1:15 PM, Mar 17 Seniors Ministry A group leads a service at an assisted living facility in Teaneck.
12:30 PM, Tuesdays Men’s Lunch & Bible Study We meet for a meal before we study the Bible and pray together.
7:30 PM, Tuesdays Bible Study The group is starting a new Study in March.
6:00 AM, Wednesdays Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
6:00 AM Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting combining personal and group prayer meets every Saturday.
2:00 PM, Mar 2, 16 & 30 Women’s Bible Study This group meets on alternating Saturdays.
6:00 PM, Mar 9 & 23 Youth Group For those in 6th grade through their teens.
Church Goals Sermon Series
The month of March will be a continuation of the preaching series reviewing the Church Goals developed in 2012. These goals become a guide for what we desire to be as disciples of Jesus Christ.
We know that God is at work in our lives if the following behavior is reflected in our lives. Our hope is that this list would reflect who we are becoming in Christ.
- Our congregation spends daily time engaging God through prayer and the Bible. Josh 1:6-9 II Tim 3:14-17
- Our congregation has their character shaped by the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Gal 5:13-26 John 13:34-35
- Our congregation understands their spiritual gifts and they are ministering in their giftedness. Eph. 2:10 Romans 12:1-9
- Our congregation are actively engaging nonbelievers in conversation about faith. Matt 28:16-20 Acts 1:8
- Our congregation are involved with some justice or compassion ministry. Matt 25:31-46 James 1:27
- Our congregation understands biblical stewardship and they are using their time, treasure and talents to build God’s kingdom. I Tim 6:6-19 II Cor. 9:6-8
St. Patrick’s Day
On March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, it is said that everyone is Irish for a day. It is a day to find green bagels for breakfast, four leaf clovers at school art classes and often excessive drinking for many adults. Few people in our culture connect spiritual themes to the day that bears St. Patrick’s name.
The truth is that Patrick was a remarkable missionary who evangelized a country steeped in witchcraft. First, Patrick was English, raised in a godly home. He was captured and enslaved by the Irish when he was 17 years of age. During his 6 years as a slave, Patrick began to personalized the faith of his parents. God helped Patrick escape and returned to England, where he felt called of God to return to Ireland to preach the gospel. After theological training, Patrick and a group of believers moved to Ireland and established its first Christian community.
Patrick faced much opposition as he preached the gospel and confronted the demonic strongholds of the culture. It is hard to know which stories are fact and which are fiction, but many miracles are associated with Patrick’s ministry in Ireland. What is indisputable is that during the fifth century, Ireland went from practicing pagan religion to becoming almost 100% Christian. This Christian movement was so powerful that for a few hundred years after the death of Patrick, Ireland sent hundreds of missionaries to Europe to evangelize other pagan cultures.
Be reminded this St. Patrick’s Day that we remember a man who was a man of prayer, an evangelist, and a passionate follower of Jesus. Patrick is an inspiration to us who believed that Jesus can change a life and a culture. May God raise up a new generation of ‘Patricks’ to preach the gospel today in our nation and beyond.