Rising Like Bread? Or Shrinking Like Bacon? Words for adults plus and activity for children

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I sat in church looking at the exits, imagining a shooter busting through. I wondered if I was sitting in the safest spot possible. I quickly realized I wasn’t; any seat could be a target, anyone a victim of such evil. And I remembered the verse my discipleship group and I recently memorized…

The angel of the lord is a guard he surrounds and protects all who fear him. (Psalm 34:7)

So one would think maybe this angel of the Lord wasn’t with all the churches that have witnessed such monstrosity. One may think God was asleep when those tragedies happened. One might think maybe they didn’t properly fear the Lord and so death came. I believe all these things are lies. Lies easy to believe in our feeble human minds but lies. The truth is the Lord never sleeps or slumbers. The truth is sometimes the Lord allows tragedy to bring about his glory and so others will know who He is (think about the cross…always go back to the cross).  The truth is there is protection in death for Christians.

We are protected by God. Even when the worst happens there is some level of protection we cannot even see.

So we do not fear death, although I often do because this world is all I know and all I seem to be able to wrap my head around sometimes. We can have hope in death because death of a Christian means JESUS. It means perfection. It means heaven.

The events taking place and the overwhelming excess of this place we live in can make one shrink like bacon. To shrivel up and hold in our faith. To stay home from church on Sundays because of fear.

OR….

We can do as we’ve been equipped and rise like bread when the heat is turned up. We can rise up and proclaim the name of Jesus that has saved us. We can share this hope we have. We can trust and believe that God is surrounding us and protecting us daily from things we can’t see. We can trust that death isn’t the end for a Christian.

Believers…Christians…church. It’s time we rise up. It’s time to rise like bread.

There is no hope in our circumstances. There is no hope in ourselves, others, food, drink, drugs, busyness, shopping, tv, etc…our only hope is Jesus.

As we continued to worship in church that morning, we sang these words from “Grace to Grace”: 

How wonderful, how glorious
My Savior’s scars victorious
My chains are gone, my debt is paid
From death to life and grace to grace
When I see that cross, I see freedom
When I see that grave, I’ll see Jesus
And from death to life, I will sing Your praise
In the wonder of Your grace

I was truly free. Surrendered. Rising like the bread because I was worshiping my God. I trusted him that if my death came in that place, in that moment, what mighty glory and protection that would be.

Unfortunately I’m merely human and struggle to stay in that place of surrender, freedom from fear, and awe. But going forward, how do we rise like bread? How do we keep from shrinking like bacon into our fears and flesh?

  • Know God: ask him to reveal Himself to us
  • Read His word: we have to dig into it to know it
  • Attend a Bible believing, preaching church; join a small group
  • Pray: turn fears and anxieties into our greatest prayers
  • Rest, trust and obey
  • Memorize and Meditate on Scripture

Father God…so much evil and wrong in this world, yet You are always with us. Grieving with us at the injustice. Thank you for your presence and the hope that your son Jesus has given us. We have a choice- we can be afraid and worry or we can know Your truths are true and we can rise as you’ve called us to. Help us to be bread, dear Savior. If we start shrinking like bacon, help us to notice and turn our fears into prayers so we can rise. May we all know you better and allow Your Holy Spirit to change who we are for our good and Your glory. But also, keep us safe. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN. 





An activity for children:

IMG_7908Bake bread. It starts small but rises into something beautiful. Watch it rise and talk of how we, as believers, as called and equipped to rise against the struggles, fears, and sin of this world. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to be our Helper! Go over spiritual disciplines like reading the Bible, praying, church, memorizing Scripture, etc… to increase faith and rising up.

“I will put my Spirit within you and you will come to life.” Ezekiel 37:14

IMG_7911Make bacon. Watch it shrivel up. It starts large and the heat causes it to shrink. Talk of certain “heats” your child might be facing (bullying? up coming changes at school? fear? sin?). Talk of how this is where the enemy of our souls wants us, but God has called us higher and will help us rise and not shrink.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Hebrews 10:39

 

Motherhood ~ A Living Sacrifice

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We live in a world where self is so important. Self confidence, self sufficiency, self care, self before all else, etc… all so relevant but yet quite contrary to the gospel of Christ.

Yes, Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, paying the price for our sins, but over and over in scripture we see the proper place for ourselves and that is last.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

“Therefore, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…” Romans 12:1

Motherhood is a high calling of putting ourselves last, of putting our children, our blessings from above, before our wants and needs. Of dying to ourselves and thinking of them first. Everyday we have choice to sacrifice ourselves for the good of our family. We can prayerfully consider how we can deny ourselves in certain situations and go God’s way.

For me, dying to myself as a mom means missing out on events that cut into my family time. It means saying, “No” a lot to others. It also means dying to my desire for control, dying to yelling (such a struggle sometimes!) and putting down my phone (another struggle!). It also means putting my selfish desire to hurry up with bedtime so I can read a book or watch TV aside so I can read, pray and visit with each child. It also means to quit wishing this season away because it is often so hard, chaotic and exhausting.

It’s a continual death and one we will never quite master, but with the Lord’s help, we can do it better, we can be less selfish, we can be more like Christ.

Just as motherhood is a high calling, so is following Christ and we have a choice- sacrifice or self? What will we choose today? Where can we deny ourselves and put others needs truly above our own? How can we present our bodies to Him today to be living sacrifices for Him?

Father God, you are so gracious in all things- THANK YOU. I praise you for the blessing of motherhood. I pray we don’t take it lightly and we allow You to show us our selfishness so we can sacrifice instead. Help us to put our children and families before our own wants and desires. Help us to cherish the moments with our children and not wish for a different season. Thank you for being our ultimate sacrifice and paying the price for us. You are a good, good Father. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

DIRECTION

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img_7614Several times a day, shuffling the kids to school and activities, I am faced with an intersection that has three different paths I can take, all leading to different areas of town. Because it changes based on my destination, almost every time I get to this place, I have to remind myself which way I need to go. I have to think, “Where am I going?” “Which way do I go right now?” I can leave my house, knowing where I am going, but once faced with this intersection, I have to remind myself the direction I am going so I don’t take a wrong turn.

Whether you turn to the right of the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

As Christians, when we choose to follow the Lord, it’s a once and for all decision but also everyday decision to go HIS way and not our own.  Thankfully, we have His Spirit to help us, telling us the way in which we should go.

So today we can ask ourselves, Where am I going? Am I going with the Lord today? In that specific situation where we may be at a loss as to what to do or how to proceed in love, ask the Lord which way you should go…HE will point us in the direction of HIM, He will tell us, “This is the way, walk in it.” 

God’s way is never wrong. God’s way is not always easy. God’s way is normally against the flow of the world and even our own desires. God’s way is always love, forgiveness and grace. God’s way is best found in the pages of His Word.

Heavenly father, so many directions we can go in one day. May we not only take you with us, but may we let You guide us. You, the only One that can set our feet on solid ground. You, the only One who can help us take the direction of love, grace and forgiveness when we get to the messy intersections of life. You long to see Your children walking in the freedom that comes with a deep relationship with You- thank You for pursuing us with your never-stopping love and grace. Thank You for Your faithful patience. I praise you for granting us your continual presence, Your help, and Your voice when we seek You. I pray we all know You through Your Word and choose walk with you today. In Jesus name, AMEN.

What can we give Jesus for His birthday this year?

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Christmas is such a wonderful time of giving but do we ever give anything to the One we are celebrating? We all know the wise men brought gifts to Jesus after His birth; shouldn’t we, too, as we celebrate His birthday?

“They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11

Here’s a short video with how we did this last year:

Here are some ideas, verses and questions to help you find something to give to Jesus this year for His birthday.

“Make vows to the Lord your God, and keep them. Let everyone bring tribute to the Awesome One.” Psalms 76:11

Some things to consider:

  • What is an area of struggle for you right now?
  • What can you not quit?
  • What can you not let go of?
  • What are you trying to control?
  • What is keeping you from intimacy with God?
  • What does He need to change in you?

Last year I gave Jesus my voice. Because I needed Him to change it, make it new, make it kind, compassionate and loving in the hard moments of parenting- and really life in general. I needed Him to help me with my tone of voice and how it comes across. And He did. I’m no where near perfect but He helped me all year with this. So grateful!

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? Psalms 116:12

Some ideas:

  • Your heart. All of it.
  • Your life, if you haven’t yet made Jesus your Savior
  • Your marriage
  • Your children
  • Your infertility
  • Your job situation
  • Your bad habit (s)
  • Your addiction
  • Your time
  • Your diet
  • Your phone (seriously considering this one myself!)
  • 10% of your monthly income
  • Your future
  • Your finances
  • Your material possessions
  • Your fears
  • Your voice
  • Your first 30 minutes of the day
  • Prayer time
  • Your priorities

Looking through this list, a lot of it is what the Lord wants from us, but giving Him something specific for His birthday and really surrendering it to Him consciously in 2020, is a start in the right direction. Much of following/choosing Jesus is a learned behavior, only done with the Spirit’s help. And help us He will!

My prayer for all of us as we give to Jesus this year is that we Proverbs16:3 – “Commit your works to the LORD And your plans will be established.”

If you and your family start this tradition, I’d love to hear from you on how it went and what you are giving.

Thanks, friends and Merry Christmas!

Love Always, Sarah