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Tuesday Thoughts 2/28/17

Fat Tuesday…what a concept.  But before we go there, let’s get up to speed together.  I know it seems like Fat Tuesday is connected to the wild celebrations of Mardi Gras (which is “Fat Tuesday” in French), but its beginnings are connected to Jesus (another distorted church celebration).  Today, it’s about stuffing as many paczki’s (or any other rich food) into your mouth as possible.  Because this is the last day of the Mardi Gras party, Fat Tuesday has come to mean the end of fun.  But originally, it signaled the end of a season of celebration, rejoicing at God becoming one of us (which begins right after Christmas)!  The season that immediately follows on Wednesday (Ash Wednesday – ashes of repentance) is Lent (to lengthen the days – spring is coming!), and is a time of reflecting on the cost Jesus paid for our salvation, which ends on Good Friday.  Sorry for the long history, but even knowing the origins of this day doesn’t mean we’ve escaped the world’s distortion of it.  So right before we “give up” something for the 40 days of Lent as an act of focus and reflection (a long-standing and valuable tradition), we need to load up the day before.  It has a familiar ring doesn’t it?  One last pack before giving up smoking, one more Whopper before the diet starts, one more…we all have a laugh at these things, don’t we.  But look at this one little verse from the New Testament book of James: Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” (James 4:17, New Living Translation).  Boy, I really have stepped in it this time huh?  I’ve quoted the “s” word and applied it to us!  It is really tempting (and much easier) to limit the concept of sin to a list of don’ts.   But here we have the call to do—without putting it off, loading up, tasting one last morsel, having one more day.  This has a very personal impact for me.  There was a day when a loving pastor climbed up a rickety ladder, where I was roofing a garage, to talk to me about my life in Jesus.  I had been moving away from Christ in party mode for nearly ten years.  At the end of that ten minute conversation, I said that I knew I needed to come back to Jesus but I wasn’t ready yet (maybe I needed just one more day).  It was just a few minutes after the pastor left that I realized how stupid my statement had been and, right there on the rooftop, recommitted my life to the One who died to save me (and all of us).  If I had waited for that one more day, it might have meant that I wouldn’t be writing Tuesday Thoughts today, preaching on Sundays and being the follower, father, husband and man of God He calls me to be.  You see, to know the good thing to do and then not do it is exceedingly sinful, in part, because it cuts me off from the good God intends.  There is no other realm in which we would stiff arm a gift until the next day, except for the realm of the Spirit of God.  The original Fat Tuesday wasn’t the end of fun.  Rather, it was a day of expectation that tomorrow would begin an intimate, reflective season of drawing close to Jesus and His suffering—something to truly look forward too!  So what is the good you should be doing right now instead of grasping for one more day, one more taste, one more look, one more…What are you going to do now?                                                         – Pastor John

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