It’s hard to believe so much time has passed since my last post! I feel like time has been dragging the past few weeks for a few different reasons. One, I have not been feeling that great and battling some type of cold/bug. Two, I am getting very homesick as the holidays approach. Two reasons why my main concern has just been to keep up with my students!
One thing that has been heavy on my heart the past few weeks is my students’ relationships with the Lord, and I guess my relationship with the Lord too. In Bible we are learning about obedience and outward behavior. In different areas in the classroom, I’m always thinking up new ideas and rules to help keep things running smoothly. In our relationships together, I am always trying to make sure everyone is getting along in a healthy way and not hurting one another. But, true to the philosopher I am, I always end up asking myself “WHY?” or “WHAT’S THE POINT?”
I’ve been challenging my students with this recently, and I just pray that something in their lives will start them thinking and wanting to be closer to God. We’ve been working our way through a series Francis Chan does with Next Step Ministries on youtube: check it out. It has been so good! Why am I here as a teacher? Because God has a plan for me to specifically disciple these students in a certain way. Why do we have to obey? Because God places authority in our lives to help guide us to Him. Why do we read the Bible? So we can know God better and love Him more. Why do I try to monitor relationships and guide students? Because God has given me the responsibility to teach and disciple these students.
I made this chart at the beginning of the year, and we reference it almost every day. The cake stands for our lives, and the goal is to start at the bottom of the cake and work up to the top. It begins with the 3 foundational posts to hold the cake up.
1. Roots: We need to be growing into strong trees, which means building strong roots. This is based off of Psalm 1, where it talks about how we need to be planted by the stream (God’s Word) for this to happen.
2. Identity: We need to identify everything about ourselves with Christ, which comes from my life verse, Galatians 2:20. Being a true believer in Christ means giving up our lives to live the life He chooses for us.
3. Foundation: Finally, we need to make sure our foundation is the Word of God and nothing false, like our own logic, desires, or other people. I take this from the parable in Luke 6 about the wise man that builds his house (life) on the rock.
Once we have set up the 3 foundational posts, we move onto the cake, which I have found is a lot more enjoyable and fun!
1. Accountability: The first layer refers to God’s desire that are honest with others and keep each other accountable with the way we are living. James 5:16,19-20 talks about how we are supposed to hold each other up. This can be very stressful for the person who fights following God, but I’ve found that if you really want to be following God and obeying His Word, this is where friends come in! There is nothing more enjoyable than being closely knit with your church family and other believers, and they are the people who will help keep you accountable as true and honest friends.
2. Unity: The next layer of the cake, unity, shows God’s heart for how believers should work together as the body of Christ. Ultimately, our connection with church and this unity with one another is our best way of showing Christ to this world and witnessing of His power. As people who were naturally antagonistic to God, all true believers have experienced reconciliation with God thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. If we have been reconciled with God, we need to make it our priority to reconcile and seek out peace and unity with everyone we can. This has been a harder layer for me, but it is one of the most rewarding.
3. Purity: The next layer up the cake brings us closer to having a better relationship with God. Beyond having accountability, being at peace with others, and reading God’s Word, we will not be able to become truly close with God if we are struggling with bitterness. Bitterness is such a vague term though, as we all feel similar feelings every day, like frustration, anger, annoyance, and so on. I remember reading Hebrews 12:15 and the meaning truly sinking into my heart. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” That term, “root of bitterness,” was the perfect picture I needed to understand how bitterness could prevent a close relationship with God. This root of bitterness bears fruit in us similar to Esau: self-gratification, sexual immorality, and broken relationships. Even trying to do everything else on this cake, if you have just a little bit of bitterness against someone or God, you will not be able to continue to grow closer to God.
The final result of building the cake? THE CAKE TOPPER! Which stands for the perfect relationship with God. I immediately think of Proverbs 3:5-6 as the perfect relationship status. When I am completely depending on God’s guidance and leading, when I am acknowledging His work in my life and letting Him set my paths, then I know I am right where I need to be!
The goal of this poster was not to teach my kids that with a lot of good works you can build your own cake and be saved. I wanted to give them a visual of the verse James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” I am mainly doing this for myself too, but I keep reminding my kids that even on those hard days when nothing makes logical sense and it is hard to even want to be close to God, those are the days we need to take a moment to ask God to help us want Him. Those are the days that we need to remain faithful with our Bible reading, keep our Christian identity, and work on our relationships with other believers, because that is our way of drawing nigh to God.