The JOY Challenge

Initially, we called this “The BUT Challenge” (inspired by this video).

We wanted to do something over the Lenten Season, the season of preparation for Easter, to actively challenge the BUTs that keep us from being committed followers of Jesus. (BUT I don’t know where to start. I will eventually BUT I need to get this or that in order first.) We realized we had it wrong, though. Thinking that way just talks about all the bad things were doing.

It doesn’t highlight the joy and abundance that’s possible if we challenge ourselves in our walk with Jesus. So, we’ve renamed our challenge the JOY Challenge.

We still want to actively challenge our BUTs; however, we more so want to embark on a new journey of joy. In John 15, Jesus says, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” Your joy may be complete. 

We want to taste that. We want to know more the deeply the blessedness of living as a disciple of Jesus Christ. We want to build God’s Kingdom here and now.

There are still two aspects to the challenge, because there are two sides of the coin of following Jesus.

On one side of the coin, following Jesus means being with Jesus to learn and receive righteousness. On the other side of the same coin, following Jesus means being sent by into our neighborhoods, workplaces, etc. to share Jesus’ message and healing.

So the coin of discipleship includes being with Jesus and being sent by Jesus (to do what Jesus does).

The Challenge

Lent, the Christian season of preparation and discipline leading up to Easter, starts on February 18 (Ash Wednesday) and goes until April 5 (Easter). So from February 18 to April 5, the JOY challenge is to get off of our BUTs to BE WITH Jesus and and BE SENT by Jesus in new ways. In other words, what will you do to be with Jesus in a new way, and what will you do to be sent by Jesus in a new way during Lent? What new spiritual practice will take on and what new regular act of serving your neighbor(s) will you do from February 18 to April 5?

Here are some ideas for what you could do (choose 1 or more from each category):

Ideas for being with Jesus in a new way:

  • Set 20-30 minutes apart each day (in the morning, at lunch or in the evening) to study the Bible or read a devotional. Advanced version: Read all the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) during Lent. (Go to an earlier blog for 10 pointers for reading the Bible.)
  • Set 20-30 minutes apart each day to pray and study prayer. Advanced: Pray through the Psalms, one at morning, lunch and dinner each day.
    1. To study prayer, you could do a Google search for ‘passages where Jesus talks about prayer.’
    2. You could also read a book about prayer.
    3. You could also pray the Psalms.
    4. You could also just start with, “God, I don’t know how to pray, but here I am.”
  • Fast (or go without) a meal a day as a way to be with Jesus who wandered in the desert with the Spirit and suffered. Advanced version: The Daniel fast
  • Discipline yourself with some other dietary restriction in a way that will lead to better physical, mental and spiritual health. (You could go off of caffeine and/or sweets, for instance.)
  • Journal everyday with inspiration from a saying or parable of Jesus.
  • Journal everyday around a verse or line from an old hymn. (Just google old hymns.)
  • Replace “screen time” (chunk of time you typically spend with TV, internet, social media, etc.) with scripture reading, prayer, silence, meditation or spiritual conversation (with a spouse, partner, kids, friend and/or group).
  • Start a home group that meets weekly (with Ross’ and/or Lydia Fourman’s help–email Lydia at lfourman@stmarkscarmel.org).

Ideas for being sent by Jesus in a new way*:

  • Participate in three independent St. Mark’s service opportunities during Lent.
    1. For example, one opportunity would be to plan and serve a meal at Brightwood Community Center.
    2. Another could be that you help with a local Habitat for Humanity build.
    3. And, you could help with mobile food distributions through Good Samaritan Network in Noblesville on Monday, March 2. (sign up here)
    4. Also, you could sort donations at Fletcher Place Community Center.
    5. And then you could help in the preschool at Fletcher Place.
  • Participate in an ongoing (more relational) service group: 
    1. Be a part of a group that provides homework help one night/wk. at Brightwood Community Center.
    2. Be a part of a team that provides a worship opportunity for residents of The Barrington of Carmel.
    3. Provide weekly tutoring help at Fletcher Place Community Center (meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10-noon & 1-3 PM).
  • Make yourself open to faith conversations while “out” at work, school or in public (by reading your bible during work or journaling or by wearing a shirt that says “TALK TO ME ABOUT JESUS”–just kidding on the last one, unless of course that’s your mission).
  • Start a mission outpost (a group that meets regularly to serve) at a community center, hospital, shelter or elsewhere (with Liz Rix’s help). 
  • Design your own 40-day mission, or new way you sense you are being sent by Jesus to share his message and healing.

*EMAIL LIZ RIX at lrix@stmarkscarmel.org to sign up or get more info for any of these opportunities, with exception to the mobile food distributions through Good Samaritan Network

If you’re taking the JOY Challenge, we encourage you to respond to this post by saying, “I am taking the JOY challenge” for accountability and support. The Lord be with you.

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