Posted Mar 14, 2024 | Share this:

Dive into the true essence of Lent with Sarah and Karina as they explore the personal sacrifices and spiritual disciplines that shape our faith.


In the latest episode of our podcast, Sarah sits down with her friend Karina, whose life is split between Indiana and Greece, to delve into the topic of Lent. But this isn’t your typical Lenten conversation. It’s a deep dive into what it means to live a lifestyle of Lent, beyond the confines of the 40 days leading up to Easter.

Karina, with her heart firmly rooted in missions, exemplifies the spirit of Lent through her life choices. She shares her experiences of living in Greece, where the simplicity of life—like hanging clothes to dry without a dryer and living without a car—speaks volumes about the sacrifices she’s made. Yet, these are not just sacrifices; they’re trade-offs for greater rewards and blessings she finds in her service.

Sarah relates with her own missionary work, discussing how people often perceive her time away from family and the lack of modern conveniences as a form of giving up something valuable. But both women agree that Lent is more than just giving up material comforts; it’s about focusing on God and practicing spiritual disciplines that draw them closer to their faith.

The conversation takes a turn towards culture and how it shapes our understanding of Lent and spiritual practices. They emphasize the importance of cultural context when interpreting the Bible and how Lent should be more about the heart than ritualistic sacrifices. Karina points out that it’s not about what you give up, like meat or screen time, but about seeking God to find out what He wants you to surrender or adopt to prioritize Him in your life.

Sarah and Karina also tackle the complex topic of Bible interpretation. They discuss the pitfalls of reading the Bible with a Western lens and the importance of understanding it as it was intended—story by story, not sentence by sentence. They argue that the Bible should be read in chronological order to grasp the full narrative and avoid confusion.

This episode is a must-listen for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of Lent and its practice. It’s a reminder that Lent is not just about abstaining from certain foods or activities; it’s about a heart condition, a spiritual discipline, and a commitment to God that extends far beyond a seasonal observance.

So, if you’re curious about how to live a lifestyle of Lent or want to gain a fresh perspective on your faith, tune in to this insightful conversation. It’s an invitation to explore the true meaning of Lent and to align your heart with God’s desires for you.

Listen to the episode, ponder the messages shared, and perhaps you’ll find yourself embarking on a Lenten journey that transforms not just your season but your entire approach to faith and life.

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If you are more of a reader than a podcast listener, here is the full transcript. Enjoy!

> Sarah: Hey, everyone, this is Sarah. I am joining you for week two on lint with my friend Karina from, well, partially from Indiana and partially from Greece. And she is joining us because I feel like somebody who has such a heart for missions is the perfect example to talk about lint and what it means to live in a lifestyle of lent. And although she’ll tell you that she does not live in a lifestyle lent, most people would see her lifestyle that way. And so week two, we’re going to be talking specifically about what lent means to us.

Karina, what do you give up during lent to honor God?

So, Karina, going over to Greece, you obviously had to give some things. Mean, obviously you didn’t give up your whole life because half your life is here. But talk to me about some things that general public would say you had to give that up. Like, if somebody was looking at you for untrained eye, not knowing the heart behind what was going on, what would people think you gave up?

>> Karina: definitely. Living in America is always easier. We have dryers to dry your clothes. we hang things out there. And if it’s raining, tough luck. I don’t have a car over there. People do have cars. I just don’t, the convenience of running, ah, on a tight schedule where everything is scheduled. Greece, ah, doesn’t operate that, know. And then there’s the family things as well, where I usually miss my nephew’s birthday every year, but I’m always here for his sisters. And it took him a while to understand, like, these are things you’re missing out, on. so those are probably some of the harder things that I miss, is just with the opportunities with friends and family to do those kind of things. But I think the reward is great. The things that I am lacking, I see God’s blessing and all the amazing opportunities that I get to have.

>> Sarah: Yeah, I know that when I have gone on short term missions, people tell me that I’m giving up time with my family. People have told me that I’m giving up, electronics because, especially when I’ve gone to Mexico. If you want to have any kind of phone call situation in Mexico, you have to pay extra money to use, like, a satellite line. And so for however long I’m there, I either have to use prepaid calling cards or I have to, use somebody else’s satellite line if I need to make phone calls. And so there’s a good chunk of time that my family doesn’t hear from me because I’m on a mission. So I’ve heard that. I’ve heard you know, you’re giving up access to internet, which there’s places like, if I needed to go to look something up, I could go to the pastor that I used to go to their, orphanage. They have Internet and they have a computer now. I’m not going to sit there on the computer all day, but if I needed to look something up, I would be given permission to do that. So I’ve heard people say that I’ve given up those things. but it’s a different lifestyle. To me, lint is a practice, not just 40 days prior to easter. It’s a choice that you’re making to honor God with something like giving up something that you have more focus on. So I don’t know, what is your thought? I mean, we talked, in week one about how your lint practice or your lint lifestyle has a lot to do with your culture. And I want to dive deeper in the culture conversation. But what is your thought of what Lent means to you?

>> Karina: for me, it’s not about giving up meat, or anything necessarily, specifically. It’s each year, it’s seeking God. What do you want me to give up? Maybe it’s limiting screen time. Maybe it’s getting out processed foods. Maybe it’s, being more intentional about spending time with people, not even necessarily giving up. As Christians, I think God has called each and every one of us to live a fasted lifestyle. We should not have really anything in our life that so dominates and become and takes the place of God, whether it’s your first cup of coffee in the morning and that’s the first thing you seek when it should be God. And I’m all for a good cup of coffee, so there are times that God says, hey, give that up. But it’s not about those kind of things. It’s about putting yourself in remembrance and making sure that I’m placing him as a priority in my life, which, in theory you do all year long, but I think there are specific times and seasons, and we see that throughout the Bible where there were appointed times and set apart times, where you focused on those things. And I think Lent can be one of those very powerful times if you let it be that.

>> Sarah: Yeah, I think it also has to do with, how our culture sees things. And so when talking about the different cultures that you and I deal with, if I were to give up Internet, it would be a huge deal for somebody in the United States. But if I talked to the ladies in Pakistan, they’d be like, okay, that’s not really a big deal to me. And so it really does come down to when you’re having the conversation with God. What is he pulling on? What is he trying to get your attention with? And you get those gut check moments. I mean, I’ve had moments where I’ve thought, well, I’m m going to fast this. And God’s like, no, you’re not. No, that’s not the problem. And so he will identify where your heart lies, because the Bible talks about where your heart lies, where your focus is there, your heart lies also. And so what you give to, what you spend so much time, focused energy, where your time, talent, all your stuff goes to, that is where your heart really lies. And so for me over here, it’s quite a bit different than the ladies that are in Pakistan. And that’s sometimes why it’s hard to translate things to where they understand it, because they’re like, well, that’s not an issue for me. so I guess for me, what lint means to me is that we need to pay closer attention to how God wants our heart. Not necessarily what’s important to me or what it means to me, but how God wants our heart. And if there’s something that is hindering us from being completely devoted to him, then that means our heart is not in the right place. Right?

>> Karina: Absolutely correct. It is the heart condition, and we do need to be committed to doing the things that God has called us to do. But oftentimes the thing that he has asked us to give up or to put into our lives is less about the item or less about the situation than it is trying to work some things out within us and being sensitive to hear his voice. Right.

>> Sarah: Like a personality issue.

>> Karina: Exactly. Yeah. Like, there was one Lent. I had given up anything that had flour in it. which. Not gluten, not anything, just flour. Anything that had flour in it. And I thought, well, that’s kind of weird.

>> Sarah: so I was actually going over to somebody else’s house and was invited to dinner. And they served fettuccine Alfredo that night. And that was what the main dinner was. So I ate the dinner and I didn’t even tell them it wasn’t an issue because I knew what God had called me to do and I wasn’t going to cause a problem for them and be an ungrateful guest, because that’s not what God was after. He was after some disciplines in my life that I needed to put in.

>> Karina: And he wasn’t so worried about the ritual of giving up something. That relationship with that person was far more important than following through on something like that.

> Sarah: Yeah, I’m glad you said that, because you recognized that it wasn’t about the ritual. It wasn’t about the, “got to check the box.”

When we read the Bible, we talked about this, about the culture situation when we read the Bible. And I have preached this so much because it is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. Like, my skin crawls. I get this heebie gb feeling when people misinterpret the Bible. And our culture looks at God’s word from a very western lens. And so when there’s things like, I’ll just say, I won’t name the specific, but there are churches that will still go by the 613 laws, and they have to check the boxes, or they’ll go by the Ten Commandments, and they have to check the boxes. they read the Bible in black and white, like, sentence by sentence.

But in reality, the Bible was not written that way. It was not written sentence by sentence. It was written story by story. And so we don’t just misinterpret the Bible. We’ve actually put the Bible together in a way that’s not how it was intended. our Bible should have been, I should say, should have been. And now there’s people that have corrected that, but should have been put together in order of time frame.

And the reason I say that is because right now, most bibles are written Genesis to revelation, and they’re set up, like a library. If you go to a public library, there is the, young adult fiction. There’s the nonfiction. There’s the historical fiction. Every section. And the books that fall under that category are in that section. And so somebody had the brilliant idea of putting the Bible books in sections that are like library sections. However, when you read them, you almost sometimes feel lost if you don’t know that about the Bible. If you’re just reading cover to cover because somebody says, you got to read cover to cover, you will start to feel lost, because there are books of the Bible. And the easiest way to explain this is looking at the four gospels.

If I looked at the four gospels, I’m reading each one of those, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If I did not know that they were the same story, the same time frame, that it’s just one person’s perspective of the same event, I would feel like, did I just read this? Am I reading a copy? Why is the Bible contradicting itself. That’s another one. I even said that when I was a teenager. I have heard from many people, why is the Bible contradicting itself? But if you learn how to read it the way it was written, you would realize it’s not contradicting itself. If I read just the gospels. I mean, there’s other books. If you know how to read chronologically, you would understand that there’s other books that do this as well. But if I were just to read the four gospels and I read them in chronological order, it breaks, up each section to go along the time frame in the same order. All four of those books go in the time frame together.

So you’re actually bouncing between the books because you’re getting the perspective of all four men for every single situation that happened with Christ. And so if you think about that, I actually tell my clients this when they have an issue with perspective. I get like an apple or something that has, you can have sides to it. And, like, for instance, the apple, I’ll take a bite out of one side, and I’ll show them the side that doesn’t have a bite, and I’ll ask them, what is this? And they’ll say, well, that’s a red apple. And they’ll say, it probably is very delicious, very juicy. I’d probably eat it. And I would say, well, I wouldn’t. And they would say, why not? And I’m like, because it doesn’t look delicious to me. It doesn’t really look red anymore. And they’ll look confused because they’re like, well, that doesn’t make any sense. But if I flip the apple around, they can now see the bite mark that’s on the other side. And then it dawns on them. My view had a bite mark, and I wouldn’t eat after somebody. Their view looked pretty, so they would have eaten it. It doesn’t change the fact that it is still a red apple. It is still a delicious apple. It is probably actually a red, delicious apple. It doesn’t change the fact of what it is. And so the fact of what happened, of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection, those are still the facts. But each man saw what happened from different viewpoints.

And so if we learn how to read, to understand the Bible will mean more to us. But what we have done is we have read to read and check the boxes, like Bible reading plan. Oop. I did my day.

And unfortunately, what happens is people get very confused, and more often than not, they just give up reading the Bible because they’re like, they get through the book of Genesis. A lot of them will make it through the book of Exodus. But then when they get to Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, they’re like, oh, my goodness, I can’t anymore. I just cannot. I can’t. And they’ll put it down. And so if you ask anybody, they’ll tell you, I’ve read Genesis and Exodus, but they couldn’t necessarily tell you that they’ve read the rest of the Old Testament, and they’ll skip over to the gospels because that seems a little bit lighter. We have compiled the Bible in a way that wasn’t meant to be compiled that way. We have not explained very well the different types of books and how they were written.

For instance, this is one of the things that I teach people. The Song of Solomon is a wisdom book, but it’s also somewhat poetic. And so it uses a lot of, similes. One of the most famous similes in there is when the husband is speaking about his wife’s breasts and how they look like a fawn. I think he actually uses a gazelle as the example. He’s speaking in metaphor of, like, a hunter. A hunter seeing a tale of an animal sticking up and how enticing it is. And I’m so excited to see it because that means meat. That means food for my family. And so he’s saying, you should be that enticed by your wife’s appearance, but if you read it, black and white, people would get confused, like, why are you calling my wife’s breast that?

>> Karina: Right?

>> Sarah: So we misinterpret what the word of God says, and it actually has an effect on how we do some of these Christian practices, like lent, and makes it become very ritualistic. Like, I have to give up meat. I have to do this type of prayer. I have to do this type of confession. I have to do, no dancing or singing or whatever it is that they feel that is a pleasurable thing. I got to give it up instead of the heart.

> Karina: And I think that we do need to look at the Bible from a full perspective. We often, like you said, do look through it through our eyes. But I think in this day and age, most of us have access to knowledge and wisdom everywhere. I think we need to make sure that we’re not just stuck on one little point, one particular pastor, one particular vein of teaching. But look at the full counsel of the word of God and take that into perspective.

Let scripture interpret scripture; don’t let error derail you

And I think that’s what will bring that balance there. And let Scripture interpret Scripture. The Bible tells us that, the word of God is actually a more sure word of prophecy than actually when they saw Jesus transfigured on the, you know, these things are amazing to experience, but he no, no, this is my word and this is what will remain. And I think if we take it to that point into that, looking at it from a full perspective, I think we’ll see a lot of error in a lot of churches. And don’t let that derail you because God loves you and they are doing the best that they know to do. But you have to go with that inner witness and that peace that’s on the inside of you in order to get that full counsel and go, yeah, that’s right. That bears witness on the inside of me. That kind of feels like that warm, fuzzy feeling versus something that kind of puts your hack off and go, oh, I don’t think that’s right.

One of the first places to start reading the Bible is John

And that comes with maturing in Christ as well. And I often tell people one of the first places to start reading is kind of the book of John.

>> Sarah: Yes. Ah.

>> Karina: Because it was written about your new salvation. So it’s not starting at the beginning, because you got to realize the Bible is a set of different books and you need to start in elementary school at the basics, and we’ll go back and get everything else in it. It’s not starting at page one and then ending on page 360. It’s about starting at your level of understanding and then have it grow from there and you can just continue to add the layers.

> Sarah: Yeah, I very, almost every time tell people John, partially because he’s so sweet in how he speaks about love, like you can feel the love in his book. I think it’s funny that he talks about himself in the third person, but there’s a reason for that. There’s another John included in that. but it’s a very sweet book, and like you said, you have to work your way up to the stuff.

I remember when I went to school, when, I went to Bible college, I already had a base knowledge of the facts because I was raised in a church, but I didn’t know how to understand it. And so our teachers took us back to the basics, like you just said, going to the book of John, reading that, because it helps you learn to love the Bible, and then from there you kind of work your way up to the harder things, because in reality, once you get through all the New Testament minus revelation, but once you get through all the New Testament and how you’re seeing this amazing relationship with Christ, you then want to know more about who Christ is. You actually realize, oh, my gosh, Christ has been there the whole time. Like, even in the Old Testament, he was there too. And so then you feel like you’re like a little detective, and you want to go just dissect the Old Testament to figure out where was he, where’s his little spots? And the whole Bible itself is the red thread. Christ is in there the whole time. The thread always connects.

So, yeah, I think it’s really interesting how people, depending on their culture, receive, read and receive the Bible. And I think it’s important that people like you and me and others, teach them how to understand it in the correct way so that there’s no misinterpretation and there’s no, practices that aren’t biblical, that they can do these things like lent or fasting of a different version. and it honors God.

>> Karina: Right.

> Sarah: Next week we’re going to talk about…we’re going to dig deeper in fasting and talk about some of the fasting experiences we’ve had. So we will talk to you all in a week, all about fasting in the form of Lent. Have a good week.

Thank you all for being here and be sure to tune in next week!

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