Sleeping with Bread

Last fall I attended the Youth Specialties conference (a huge gathering of youth ministers) in Nashville with my daughter, Laura. One of the sessions we attended was taught by a man who had been a minister to middle school students for about 20 years. In his presentation he referred to a book called Sleeping with Bread. I have since read this book and I want to share with you just one quick story from that book as we continue cultivating joy in our lives.

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Sleeping with Bread
“During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, ‘Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.’”

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I can hardly imagine the pain and insecurity these orphaned children experienced and I certainly appreciate the efforts of all those who cared for these children. And yet I think of how often we are like those children, clutching on to a loaf of bread for our security. Holding on to something material, something physical, to provide security and joy.

Let’s remember our joy doesn’t come from anything material – whether a loaf of bread or a newer, bigger house or more expensive toys. Our security is rooted in God and His faithful promises. If you are not experiencing joy, perhaps you are holding onto something material instead of God.

I hope you will take time to meditate on this passage I used to conclude the sermon last Sunday —

Hebrews 13:5-6
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”

Endurance

“It’s fantastic!”

According to The London Times those were the words of a woman who recently passed the test to receive her driver’s license.

To understand just how “fantastic” passing the test really was, you have to understand this woman is 50 years old and has been trying to pass the test since she was 17. That’s right, do the math, for 33 years she has been taking the test and failing it. She spent a small fortune on driver’s ed instruction in trying to pass the test.

While it is tempting to make fun of this woman, I will have to pass. After all, in this age of instant gratification we rarely witness someone wanting something badly enough to keep pursuing the goal through failure after failure.

The culture screams, “Right Now!” But God calls His own to be a people of endurance. Nothing builds up a spirit of endurance within our hearts like reading the scripture accounts of God’s enduring faithfulness to His people of old and fixing our eyes on Jesus as He endures the cross.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus. . . .” Romans 15:4-5

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3

Our God is dependably steady, and that’s what I want to be. I want to be more like Him, not giving up at the first sign of opposition or failure, but continuing to pursue the goal.

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11

She’s right, you know, “It’s fantastic!”

Leaving My Stuff

“Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you.”
Hebrews 13:5 The Message

According to a recent article in Florida Today, people are leaving their stuff everywhere. Cab drivers find all kinds of items left by fares. In just two weeks, Denver International Airport collected 74 cell phones and 96 laptops forgotten at security checkpoints. Florida airports report people forgetting their jackets there, perhaps due to the warm weather. People even forget to reclaim their shoes after an evening at the bowling alley.

God wants us to enjoy blessings He provides, but maybe we just have too much stuff.

Why?

Why do we seem to have a constant thirst for more and more?

Could it be that we have forgotten God’s words of assurance that He will never leave us.

Maybe we ought to leave behind some of our possessions. Intentionally. Purposefully.

Simplify and learn to be content with God.

What do I need to leave behind?

Missing Grace

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15

Most of us have seen it happen.

Something happens to a normal, well-adjusted, happy person. Something bad. Something mean. Something painful. Something unfair. Something devastating. Loss. Conflict. Abuse. Divorce. Financial reversal.

Something happens. Whatever that something, the person gets stuck. He can’t process through the difficulty. She just can’t seem to shake it off and move on. The root of bitterness grows up. As a result, slowly over time, this once-pleasant person is morphed into the embodiment of bitterness.

The end result is not a pretty picture.

  • A pleasant woman transformed into someone sour and harsh.
  • A supportive friend altered into a resentful detractor.
  • A gracious person changed into a petty critic.
  • A peaceful man distorted into someone abrasive and hostile.

Some of us have seen it happen so many times that we can almost see it coming while someone is still in the middle of a crisis. Here we go again.

No question about it, bitterness can overtake a person’s heart and affect his entire life. So what do we do? How do we prevent it? In what ways can we help people uproot the bitterness that is growing unchecked?

The answer just might be right there in the scripture. God’s grace. Some people miss God’s grace. When they miss experiencing God’s grace in their own lives, it is highly unlikely they will be gracious about circumstances or to others. The antidote to bitterness is recognizing God’s generosity. The remedy is appreciating God’s special favor.

The root of bitterness corrupts and defiles. The root of grace refreshes and restores.

Don’t miss God’s grace.