by Dave Gustavsen

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Give Up Your Empty Religion (1 of 5)
Series: Give it Up
Dave Gustavsen
Mark 11:12-18

Good morning. We’re beginning a brand new series today, and we are joining millions of Christians around the world by aligning this series with the season of Lent. And I know that when I say the word “Lent,” it triggers a certain response in some of you. Because you grew up in a traditional church. And every year, you had to give up something for Lent. So you tried to give up movies, or bubble gum, or video games, or some other precious thing in your life. And maybe for some of you that was a good experience. But for most of you it just wasn’t. Because even if you started with the best intentions, you probably cheated - and that made you feel guilty and resentful. And for some of you, that’s the reason you don’t go to a church like that anymore. Right? And you’ve come to the Chapel to get away from that.

And now, all of a sudden, the Chapel’s talking about Lent! What? Why?

Well, because Good Friday and Easter are too important to just stumble into them unprepared. Does that make sense? Because these are the central event of the Christian faith - the cross and the resurrection! - and sometimes I feel like it sort of sneaks up on us. So through the centuries, Christians have set aside the 40 days leading up to Easter to prepare our hearts to celebrate. And I just think that’s smart.

Now, over the years, just like any good thing can be abused, Lent has been abused. I don’t know what you experienced; I did not go to a church that observed Lent - but most of my friends did. And it seemed like they were sort of bargaining with God. Like, “God, I know I steal fries in the school cafeteria…every day…BUT I’m going to give up drinking soda for Lent. So - we’re good, right?” Sound familiar to anyone? It was this deal where you would sacrifice something for God, and that would make up for certain sins in your life. And then you could go back to stealing fries with a clean consc ...

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