Thursday, February 11, 2016

Spiritual Journey Thursday - INTENT

 I look forward to Thursdays when I can publish thoughts on my spiritual journey and hear the thoughts of others on a weekly basis.  It has become a space for an encouraging and fortifying community to come together.  We welcome anyone who would like to join us!
For the next couple of months, we are writing about each other's One Little Words.  Please join us!  If you have a One Little Word this year and would like to explore the spiritual aspect of it, let me know, and I will add you to the schedule!  Today's OLW is Leigh Ann Eck's word, INTENT. 


For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12

     I'm writing this on Ash Wednesday, which seems like the perfect time to write about INTENT.  I came from Ash Wednesday services, in which our pastor talked about the habit of giving something up for Lent - chocolate, sugar, Facebook, etc.  This is a good practice, he said; it shows discipline and sacrifice.  However, he went on to say (and I'm paraphrasing), our faith requires so much more than giving up chocolate.  It requires giving our whole selves - our lives - to Christ. 

     Wow.  That's hard.  To give our whole selves over to Jesus?  But what about what I want?!  Can't I control my destiny?  Don't I know what's best for me? How about I just give up some chocolate and call it a day!

     Hebrews tells us that the word of God is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Oh my.  That's convicting.  What are the thoughts and intentions of my heart?  Just doing good deeds isn't enough.  Just giving up something for Lent isn't enough.  God won't let us get by with just the actions.  Our thoughts and intentions have to be aligned.  Because it is Ash Wednesday, it's time for penance, prayer, and fasting.  The ashes placed upon our foreheads represent humility ( "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return") and our own sinful nature.  It can be a time to reevaluate our intentions.  What do we believe?  What is our purpose?  We are to be bold in our declarations of belief.  We need to trust God's intentions so we can secure ours.

     And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  - Romans 8:28

January 14: Carol Varsalona - BELIEVE
January 21:  Margaret Simon - PRESENT
January 28:  Michelle Haseltine - SELAH
February 4:  Justin Stygles - (Blind) FAITH
February 11: Leigh Ann Eck - INTENT
February 18:  Irene Latham - DELIGHT
February 25:  Violet Nesdoly - MINDFULNESS
March 3:  Julieanne Harmatz - ADMIRE
March 10:  Holly Mueller - WAIT
March 17:  Linda Kulp - SIMPLIFY
March 24: Doraine Bennett - SHINE
March 31: Donna Smith - BOLD


  1. I grew up in the Episcopal Church, and the practice of giving up something during Lent was so, so painful! It's so easy to get self-centered and sorry for oneself when giving something up... but is that really giving? Thank you for reminding us that it's not about the chocolate. It's about stripping away those things that distance us from our experience of living and from our Higher Power. Happy day to you!

  2. Can you imagine Christ watching us struggle to give up tv during Lent? Oooooh! What a hardship! He must (hopefully) smile wistfully at our weak attempts to show Him our willingness to deny ourselves. Great post!

  3. "We need to trust God's intentions so we can secure ours."....That quote of your needs to be on a bumper sticker or prayer card or something! You've given a lot of food for Lenten thought--regardless of how much food we choose to give up:) God bless you. Thank you for another excellent lead-off post and for hosting our weekly shared conversations. Here's to a fruitful, intentional Lent, in keeping with His Word!

  4. Our sermon was similar in that we were encouraged to look inward and examine our lives. I like Lent. It feeds my introverted self. I do believe it is a time to be more intentional in our study of scripture and the things we do with our time. I did not get a post written. I was busy getting the poetry project post done. But I do want to take some time with this word.

  5. It is so hard to give up on things like chocolate and Facebook, but when we do, we are able to focus more on other (more important?) possibilities in our lives. I'm still working on aligning my intentions with my actions in order to get to those other possibilities.

  6. Holly, the ashes remind the world that I am a believer who witnesses. I started my day off with the ashes and during the day two people noted the ashes. It is good to now that others are filled with the spirit. The outward sign bonds people together but how about when I don't have a sign on my forehead? Am I still intentional about my faith and my walk? For years I gave up chocolate for Lent but it did not feel like it was enough of a sacrifice. Now, I like the fasting on Ash Wednesday and do so on Fridays as a remembrance of my youth. I also favor the idea of giving rather than taking away so I am trying to decide on what acts of service to family, friends, and community I can offer. Thank you for the song, scripture, and post that filled my heart.

  7. Wonderful, thought-provoking post, Holly. I come from a faith tradition that doesn't put a lot of emphasis on Lent. But we often start the year off with an emphasis on prayer, which includes self-denial. One year I took it very seriously and by the end of the week, felt a new lightness. My self had become a helium balloon drifting away from all those things that felt so necessary, yet were really keeping me earth-bound. And it starts with intention.

  8. I so agree. Intentions require right actions. I used the same verse today. Thanks for sharing your heart.