Thursday, February 28, 2013

2/28/13 by Michele Fernandez

Psalm 27:8  My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face Lord, I will seek.

We live in a world that is full of chaos, distraction, and sensory overload.  Everywhere we look, people are staring down at their iPhones, plugging their ears with their iPod headphones, and constantly checking Facebook.  There are ringtones going off for texts, emails, voicemails and phone calls. People are multitasking while driving, working, and even having family meals together.  Add to these diversions raising children, running a household, careers, committee meetings, and extended family, and where does that leave us?  Going in a hundred different directions.  How do we put our focus back on the priority that matters most, but often ends up at the bottom of our list – our relationship with God?

I have come to the conclusion that we need to place God in the middle of all the worldly distractions wherever we can, to bring the focus back to him over and over.  A wise friend in the Be Still group recently said she keeps her Bible right next to her computer, so that when she is surfing the web, she has the visual reminder that she could be filling her mind with God’s word instead of websites. I have tried to come up with ways I can redirect my focus in my daily routines too.  My radio station is always tuned to the local Christian station.  It gives me many opportunities throughout the day to worship God on my way to work, or while running errands. I have “friended” Jesus on Facebook, so that when I am mindlessly reading people’s posts, I have pictures or sayings about Jesus on my wall to bring me back to Him, reminding me that I should be social networking with him, instead of my “friends.” When I check my emails, I have a daily devotion that pops up every morning that gives me a chance to pause, and start my crazy mornings off with God’s word. I now look forward to starting off my weekend with “Be Still” – a full hour of worship and prayer. On a typical Saturday morning at my house, it is rare that I get 10 minutes of quiet time and prayer between teenage sleepovers and home improvement projects. PEAK gives me a midweek boost of fellowship and Bible study, in between committee meetings and shuttling kids, that keeps me pondering God’s word until the next sermon on Sunday.

In a perfect world, we would all start our mornings off with a time of scripture, prayer, and quiet time with God.  Unfortunately most of us hit the ground running, but if we keep our focus on God in the midst of the chaos, we can seek His face, even on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2/27/13 by Libby Brown

Ps. 27:14  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Jim and I were on a one of our drives home from visiting our daughter Amy, a college student, in Greeley, CO.  On each visit, we explored a different national park.  There is some amazing natural beauty between here and Denver!  This time, our destination was Arches National Monument.  At the last rest stop before the park, there was an old van with a family begging for money.  I wanted to help them; Jim didn’t.  Years of news reporting made him suspicious of the real desires of beggars.  I prayed that, if God wanted us to help somebody, He would make it clear to both of us. 

Our big hike, in Arches, was to the Delicate Arch, where we met a young couple from Germany.  During a chat and an exchange of picture taking, we learned that Christina had been an exchange student in the Chicago area.  Christoph was traveling with her in an old car that her “exchange father” had helped them buy.  They were visiting national parks in the west.  They were planning to visit L.A., but only long enough to see Disneyland, because they feared the “criminality” in this area.  

Jim and I reached our car before this couple and decided that, if they returned before we left, we’d give them our phone number, in case they ran into any trouble in our area.  Meanwhile, I was praying for their quick return.  They returned almost immediately!

About a week later, on a Thursday afternoon, we had a call.  Christoph and Christina were on the way to our area from Pomona, where they had visited a friend on a campus there.  They wanted to stop and say hello.  We had important plans, that night, and couldn’t ask them for dinner, but figured we could have a short visit. Jim directed them to a Ralph’s parking lot at the bottom of our hill, where Jim would meet them and lead them to our house.  

On this lot, their car decided to call it quits.  A nearby service station towed it over and said that they would work on it the next day. Meanwhile, we had no choice but to invite them to stay at our house, even though we were going out.  (Thank you, Lord!)  We joked, on the way home, that we might find our other car and a few valuables missing, but all was well.  

They ended up being with us until the following Tuesday!  Jim arranged for us to visit a “Cheers” set and meet Ted Danson, they spent a day in Disneyland, went to Hollywood Presbyterian Church with us and were amazed at Lloyd Ogilvie’s sermon and Fred Bock’s music, and met Clint Eastwood, on an interview with Jim!  Christoph loved his directing, which pleased Clint immensely.  

During this time, we learned that Christina’s father had almost become a priest and was editor of a Catholic journal in southern Germany, and her brother was an organist, who played in cathedrals all over Europe.  She and Christoph had met when they were playing in a youth orchestra in their hometown., Freiburg.  Coincidence?  Or God’s hand?  This whole adventure, which was amazingly more extensive than I’m writing here, gave us a wonderful example of what the Lord can do, when we rely on Him and “wait on him”.

There was a follow-up to this story.  Christina’s mother worked in a college admissions office.  When the wall, dividing Germany, came down, the following year, a student arrived at that office, in tears, because she had come over from the other side, had been accepted by the college, but had no place to live.  Christina’s mother said that, remembering what we had done for her daughter, she offered to give her son’s room to this girl, since her son was on the road most of the time; and Christina said she got the sister she’d always wanted.  I told Christina, “Someone was praying for you!”

“The Lord is my light and my salvation---whom shall I fear?”  (Ps. 27:1)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2/26/2013 by Dan Blessinger

Several years ago, I was working on a musical score for a Japanese anime film written by a composer and Christian friend.  We were sorting through the complex, contrapuntal music that he had written and I was struggling to strike the right balance in the mix, when he gave me some sage advice.  He instructed me to decide what I thought the listener needed to hear the most, then feature that element while gently tucking the rest of the musical elements in the background. He reminded me that our ears can hear all of the sounds, but if the mix is cluttered, our brains will struggle to identify the melody or the main musical element in the mix. To give a recent example, it was  like trying to hear Adele's vocal in Sunday night's Oscar show. The orchestra was equally as loud as the singer's voice making it difficult to distinguish the melody as she sang.  The orchestral underscore was beautiful, rich and full, but the improper balance between the two left us all wondering, was that intentional?

Isn't this true in the mix of our lives?  There are many elements competing for our limited brain bandwidth, but there is only one true melody which is Christ himself. We all have our finger on the knob and we can turn Him up or down each day.  Our goal as followers of Christ is to find balance, harmonizing our activities in tune with His perfect melody, and allow Him to be heard as the focus of our day. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

2/25/13 by Pat Chambers

A word that has come to mean a lot to me over the last decade is intentional.  When I talk to parents about their parenting I talk about being intentional in what they say and what they demonstrate.  When I think about the relationships I want to keep in my life, I need to be intentional about keeping in contact and seeking times to be together with those people.  When I say I want a good marriage I need to be intentional about being kind, loving and intimate with my husband.  I can’t be intentional in any of these areas if I am not FOCUSED.    This of course is true of our spiritual life as well, if we are not intentional or focused then we move away from the One who gave us life and forgiveness.  In today’s scripture readings I am drawn to John 4:27-42.  This reading focuses on evangelism, an area of my own life in which I struggle.  In this passage we are called upon to focus on our story and tell it, just like the women in this passage.  She didn’t have all the theological answers, she didn’t put up road blocks for herself, doubting she knew enough to tell the Good News, she simply focused in on her experience with Christ and told people, they in returned sought out Christ.  During this time of lent let us be intentional about preparing our story.  In what ways has Christ and our faith affected our life and how in our own words and style would we share that with people around us.  If words do not come easily, then how are our actions telling our story, demonstrating what we believe and how Christ has changed our lives?  With our own stories focused in our hearts and minds we can then be ready to see the opportunities to share it with others.  The woman ran to town telling her story, asking questions and she brought back with her many that wanted to know more about this man.
Thank you Father for giving each of us a story to share about how you have walked beside us, loved us, changed us.  May we be focused on opportunities to share our story with those around us, intentional in all our relationships, including the one with You.

Pat Chambers

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2/23/13 by Lecia Van Horn


Phil and I go pray with cousin Bret in hospice care. We pray with Bret, hug him, hold his hands, tell him we love him. He tells us several times he loves us.


Bret passes four days later.


Three days later our dog Mac collapses. We rush him to the vet who calls for a spleenectomy (that may or may not help) to remove a growth found on his spleen.
We call our two college-age children Kari and Brandon. We pray. We cry. Phil says we’re just going to bring Mac home.


Attend the first meeting of Worship and Music Committee under the new rules slated by Session.


The past couple of weeks at work LIVE BREAKING NEWS, every day, covering the ex-LAPD officer who’s on a shooting rampage, accused of killing four persons. Found in Big Bear, shootout, cabin on fire, ex-officer confirmed dead.


Go to cousin Bret’s funeral.


Lee sends me email: “Hey Lecia, Would you be willing to write a short meditation for the lenten blog for February 23rd?  The theme is FOCUS, so any thought or story that would help us focus on God.”


I’m so NOT focused right now and don’t think I’d be of any help. But Lee convinces me otherwise writing, “Perhaps others need to hear your story about the difficulty to focus. Lent is about dealing with real struggles to be a disciple.  Perhaps someone else can identify and be encouraged by your own struggles.”

God tells us to keep our eyes on Him in the storms of life.  John 16:33  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

When Peter stepped out on the boat and walked to Jesus on the water, he was WALKING ON THE WATER until he took his eyes off Jesus. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:30

We too can cry out, “Lord, save me!”

Throughout these recent storms in my life, I’ve kept moving my focus back onto Jesus, because I moved my eyes off of Him.

When I focus on Jesus this is what I see:
My cousin Bret passed with a smile on his face. Thank you Father! And I praise You for the 50 years we had Bret here on earth.

When I focus on Jesus this is what I see:
Our dog Mac appears to be better for however long we have him. We are grateful for our furry four-legged friend.

When I focus on Jesus this is what I see:
There was prayer, laughter and organization at our Worship and Music Committee meeting!

When I focus on Jesus this is what I see:
The Holy Spirit got the work done ON TIME to get the Breaking News on the air and people are coming together to support the victims’ families.

When I focus on Jesus this is what I see:
I need to keep my eyes on Jesus ALL the time.

Friday, February 22, 2013

2/22/13 by Marion Kuszyk

Today I am reflecting on Deuteronomy 10:12-22.   

"And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?"

I ask myself, what does it mean to fear the LORD?  I believe the next part of this passage explains it.

"To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.  Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today."

So, we owe EVERYTHING to God!  His power is truly awesome!  He can really do anything, yet he chooses to love us!  He loves us and is faithful to us even though we have our faults.  If we focus on the amazing power of His love, we can be transformed.  What does it mean to focus on how much he loves us?  A few weeks ago, I had a revelation.  I noticed that when a living being receives love, this living being grows.  Therefore, we can see evidence of God's love all around us by noticing growth whether it's physical, mental or emotional.  Nothing with life remains static but life grows and this is because God nurtures life.  Think about the reality of this!  God did not have to put us on this earth but he chose to let us experience the awesomeness, beauty and wonder this world has in store for us!  Here is the rest of the passage in Deuteronomy:

"Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.  For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.  He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.  And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.  Fear the LORD your God and serve him.  Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name.  He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.  Your forefathers who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the starts in the sky."

When I internalize the reality of His amazing love for us, it makes me want to love him back.  He chose to love us and we see His love for us in our growth.  We can love God back by nurturing God.  How do we nurture God?  We can do this by nurturing each other because when we do this, we are nurturing God's kingdom here on earth!  What happens when we do this?  God's kingdom grows!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

2/21/13 by Lee Cook

"You intended to harm me, but God meant it for good" Genesis 50:20

Being in a relationship with God allows us to have a perspective that is foreign to those who don't know the power of God. The Apostle Paul says, "and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him" (Romans 8:28). Christians have the blessing of a larger perspective that brings the suffering in this world into focus. God isn't the source of suffering, but He works in the midst of suffering to bring redemption and healing.

Joseph is a powerful example of this kind of perspective.  His brothers sold him into slavery, Potipher's wife wrongly accused him of rape, he was imprisoned for years, and he spent much of his life separated from his home and his family. In all that, Joseph never lost sight that God could bring blessings out of all the suffering he endured. At the end of his life, he told his brothers not to be mad at themselves for selling him into slavery, because "you intended to harm me, but God meant it for good."

You might be in the midst of incredible suffering, and I can't explain why suffering happens.  But God's love and grace bring our suffering into a new focus, and in that new perspective we can see God working in the midst of suffering to bring blessing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2/20/13 by Jim Gorton

God has created us for relationship with Him, a fact which, in the hurry-scurry of our day-to-day lives and obligations, can easily be obscured if we let it be - and of course we are all too willing for just that to happen.  Yet, we all yearn to have a life which has meaning and purpose, to feel that we are of worth and that our efforts and achievements are worthwhile and valued.  We all know and have heard that God wants us to turn toward him, love him, follow him and do his will in order to provide the meaning and purpose which we otherwise lack, to supply structure to our lives, to fill us from the inside with his love and grace.  Without turning ourselves wholly over to God we have an empty, restless, unfulfilled center and the intuitive recognition that our life is withering in pursuit of the empty, the inessential, the ephemeral.

Lent is a time when we are invited to turn inward, to abstain from the myriad gratifications which we create for ourselves and which the world offers, including the simple satisfaction of being endlessly if not productively busy.  It is always easier to continue in the same rut, to let unthinking habit govern our actions than it is to consider where we are and the quality of our lives.  It is doubtless this very human preference to avoid uncomfortable introspection, to allow the getting and providing of our lives to crowd our God, which inspired early Christians in the centuries following the birth of Christ to set aside the forty days prior to Easter as a time to break with habit, to expose our empty busy ways, to break the bonds of the world, even if briefly, to turn away and be more contemplative.

Thus, Lent is, at its core, about focus, about the ability to stop and to reflect upon our priorities and choices and how they shape us.  It is a chance to discern the essential and to recognize and discard the inessential.  It is an opportunity to understand and refocus upon who made us and for what we are made.  It is an opportunity, in discarding the inessential and transitory, to find true joy.

Psalm 27:4-5
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

Monday, February 18, 2013

2/19/13 by Jeff Verry

We are at Huntington Gardens and my father is kneeling in front of a pink rose, carefully adjusting the lens of his SLR. The bud drops in and out of focus, as does the background and some leaves in front of it. This is more art than science. And it is a balancing act.

The balancing act points to another aspect of focus that challenges us all. The more we focus on any one thing, the less we are able to focus on all kinds of something elses. Sometimes when I try to spend time alone with God I get stuck. I keep thinking of the shopping list. I have to set up the baby monitor. Dang it, did I miss a deadline for my internship at school? When was the last time I took the puppy out? Should I call my mother? Wasn’t I going to start writing a book on the household dynamics of short term missions in northern Mexico from a Bowenian perspective? Are we out of milk?

Sometimes it goes the other way as well. I was talking with someone recently about contemplation. “What if you take it too far?” they pondered. “How do you know it’s not just becoming about you?”

When we turn the lens and focus on something, we are choosing not to focus on everything else in view. This takes a kind of courage. And flexibility. And listening. Turn one way, it gets fuzzy. Turn too much the other, and it will start to lose its sharpness as well. Prayer. Scripture. Listening to the community around you. These are what can keep us in bounds. But what does this look like?  So how do we know that we are focusing on the right thing at the right time? 

I remember when Jesus heard about John the Baptist being killed. (Matthew 14 if you want to read along)  He needed some time alone to recharge. This is such a good model. So he gets in a boat to find a solitary place. I always admired this. How does Jesus know that it is ok to be alone? How does he have confidence that this is the right thing to do at the right time in the right place? What if people needed him?

You can’t make this up. The people ran around the lake. When Jesus landed, there were thousands waiting for him. And Jesus had compassion on them and healed their sick. These are the circumstances that led up to the feeding of the five thousand.

So what is the model for focus here?
Jesus focused on himself when needed. Sometimes you have to put on your oxygen mask first.
Jesus always kept his eyes and ears open to those around him. His disciples. The multitudes that followed. His community. When they were in need, he was there to serve, not to be served.
Jesus never lost sight of Scripture. The Spirit was on him because? Because he was anointed to proclaim to the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed. Responding to the needs of those around him was what he was about. He had practiced grace and generosity so extravagantly that it had become instinct.

This Lent as we walk with Jesus, he invites us to do the same. Remain aware and take time for holy space and time to recharge when needed. Remain attentive to those around you and respond. Remain alert to our place in God’s story for us, for our community and for the world.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2/18/13 by Tom Brown

A Holy Focus

“…Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; heaven and earth are full of His glory”.  (Isaiah 6:3)  How can we focus our lives on being holy?  There are people in our society such as a priest or spiritual leader who may be labeled as “holy”.  However, as we have learned from the news lately, they are as blemished and sinful as the rest of us.  Is it possible for us to be holy?  Is holiness simply to wear a priest’s vestment or monk’s habit and walk around humming all day?  Is holiness to live without sin?  Of course, the second answer is, “no”.  However, the first and last questions may not be as easy for us.  We can be holy, but living without sin is only a secondary consequence to our active pursuit of holiness.

We are sometimes taught as children not to live for the approval of our parents but instead to be proud of our own accomplishments and behavior.  This may be helpful as we seek an identity in the world around us.  However, the opposite is true in our relationship with Our Heavenly Father.  He wants us to live for His approval; to be concerned with what He thinks and to seek to make Him proud as His children.  Therefore, holiness is the desire to please God.  Peter talks about holiness and our responsibility to it in 1 Peter 1:13-16.  I invite you to read Peter’s words for yourself.

Instead of the usual deprivation of a perceived vice or guilty pleasure this Lent, focus on pleasing your Heavenly Father.  The hymn text, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Helen Lemmel, helps us to understand the results of being God-focused in our holiness.  If you take joy in seeking His approval, then the desire to sin will “grow strangely dim”.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

2/16/13 by Ashley Pollock

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. – Acts 20:24

A few years ago I took a group of very eager girls to Children’s Hunger Fund where we were assigned the monotonous task of bagging beans. For those of you who have not experienced the joy of bean bagging, allow me to paint you a picture: Volunteers scoop beans from a barrel into a plastic bag and then weigh the bag and then tie the bag closed. Rinse. Repeat. After about an hour of this, a CHF employee called out that it was time for a snack break. He put out a cardboard box filled with bags of potato chips and all the volunteers headed over to munch and rest. All the volunteers except one. One of our 11 year olds just kept scooping, weighing and tying. I stopped in my trek towards the Baked Lays and went back to her. “You can take a break, Sarah.” I said. Sarah responded kindly but firmly: “This food is for people who have nothing. I’m not stopping to feed myself a snack!” She then shook her head and kept working.

Lately I have been reflecting on this event a lot. I have been thinking about how committed Sarah was to her work at the Hunger Fund and thinking about my own life and how easily I get distracted from the work God has given me. Television distracts me. The desire for sleep distracts me. Mindless internet browsing distracts me. Every day we are inundated with hundreds of potential distractions and we are forced to decide whether or not they are worth our time. Usually they are not. Paul believed nothing was more important than fulfilling the mission given to him by God – the mission of sharing the Gospel. Paul refused to be distracted from that task even when threatened, imprisoned or beaten. His commitment to God’s call in his life was unrelenting and because of that, he was able to share God’s grace with countless people.  Great amounts of fruit can be produced when we are truly committed to working for the Lord. Sarah bagged more beans than anyone else that day. She fed more people than anyone else in the warehouse that day. Because she refused to be distracted, she produced greater fruit (or, in this case, beans). This Lenten season and beyond, in order to do the work God has set before me, I realize that I must actively say NO to the cheap and yet time consuming activities that distract me. I must pull a Sarah, shake my head and just keep working.

Friday, February 15, 2013

2/15/13 by Doug Given

When I first heard the Lenten blog theme was “Focus” I naturally thought about the idea of concentrating on one thing – the most important thing.
But “focus” has another, somewhat different, meaning. When you bring something into focus it changes from fuzzy and indistinct, from something with no well-defined boundaries, into something clear.  I was talking with some coworkers about how our vision changes as we age. One talked about how she had denied her nearsightedness for years; she didn’t think there was anything wrong with her vision. But finally, after much prodding, she went to the eye doctor and got prescription glasses. Suddenly the world was crisp and distinct. She saw details she hadn’t seen before. Things popped and sparkled. Yes, there was dirt in the corners she hadn’t notices and more lines on her face than she recalled but there were also stars in the sky and quaking leaves in the trees. The world was different – wonderfully so.
And so it is when Christ enters our lives. It is no trivial thing that giving sight to the blind is a common theme in Christ’s ministry. As our Lord begins the transforming work of remaking us in his image our blindness gives way to clearer sight, to seeing the world in a new way. On one hand we see a world that is gritty, austere, and hopeless. A world tangled in its lostness, beyond fixing.  But we are also able, perhaps for the first time and certainly more clearly than ever before, to see the beauty He has made, the glory that each of us is imbued with and the hope that we have in His power to renew his lost creation – including us.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2/14/13 by Lee Cook

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

I have to admit, focus is not my strongest attribute.  I am the ultimate space cadet (unfortunately, an attribute I passed along to my son).  In school I lettered in daydreaming.

Now that I am an adult, I've been forced, by employment and social ridicule, to maintain at least a rudimentary attention span, but I still struggle to maintain focus.

The Apostle Peter encourages us to discipline our minds.  This is something that television has been trying to erode from our culture for about six decades, so most of us struggle.  We need to embrace the disciplines that have served the church for millennia.

One of the most powerful disciplines is scripture memory, but I can already hear what you're thinking: I can't memorize things.  We've been fooled by our phones, address books, iPads, and computers that we're incapable of memorization, but it's entirely untrue.  Most of us have our childhood addresses memorized, stats from sporting events, the names of reality show participants.  We are capable of memorizing amazing amounts of data, but it requires discipline.

Perhaps you might start out by memorizing one verse a month, which is only memorizing a few words a week. Who knows where that will lead?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

The triple pun is to the world of comedy what the triple play is to the world of baseball. It’s hard to pull off and likely to make a lot of people groan. Prepare for the worst…
So there’s this family in New York with three sons who decide to head out west and become cattle ranchers. When they get themselves established they write to their dad and ask: “We need a name for the ranch. What should we call the place?” The dad writes back: “You should call it ‘Focus’ because it’s where the sons/ sun’s raise/ rays meat/ meet.”
Focus will be our blog theme throughout our Lenten journey. For the next six weeks we’ll be posting reflections by various members of our church family that will help us focus on Christ’s call and claim on our lives.  
The triple pun is a veiled allusion to the fact that we focus in three different ways. We can pay close attention to something. We can get rid of things that are distracting us. And we can concentrate our energy and resources on the object of our focus.
Lent is about paying close attention. It’s the season when we try to zero in on Jesus like a laser beam. We watch what he does and listen to what he says as he walks the downward way to the cross.
Lent is about getting rid of things. Many of us give up simple pleasures so we can focus more directly and more intensely on Jesus. By resisting the urge to do too many things – to indulge in every good thing that comes along – we rediscover the wisdom of simple living.
And at LCPC, Lent is about concentrating our energy and resources on the poor in whom we see Jesus. It’s the season when we plan and prepare for our mission trips, for One Great Hour of Sharing, and for other ministries of outreach. By taking the focus off of ourselves, and giving the best we have on behalf of people in need, we rediscover the joy of Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-2 brings these three ideas all together. The writer encourages us to focus on Jesus by “fixing our eyes on him” – by throwing “off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” – and by running “with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Which area of focus needs your focus? I hope you’ll check in daily as we think together about that question. 
Lord Jesus, would you help me to focus on you throughout our Lenten journey? Open my ears to hear the Word you have for me. Show me those areas of my life that I need to downsize and simplify. Lead me to those places where I can be a blessing to people in need. Amen.