Do this…Just Do It

Do this in remembrance of me. Luke [22:19].

This is a passage we are sometimes so used to seeing that we forget to think about it. Jesus is comparing His body and His sacrifice to the most simple elements of bread and wine. Things that in Jesus’ time would be consumed daily. So often we think about communion as something that only happens at church and for a lot of churches only once in a blue moon. 

Now don’t get me wrong I LOVE taking communion at church. I was so happy to learn that our new church does communion every Sunday. I think it’s important to have that time as a church family. But let’s not forget that Jesus and the disciples were not at the temple at the Last Supper.

Do not miss the importance of Jesus using the simple items of bread and wine. He wanted us to remember His sacrifice every single day. Every time that a piece of food passes by our lips is a chance to refocus our priorities, to remember the ultimate sacrifice and to remember that it was not just made for us but for everyone, even that annoying mom in the pick up line, the rabid feminist in the next cubicle over, that road raging guy tailgating you in 5 o’clock traffic, yes even that guy. Jesus died for them.

So the next time you are snacking on the last of the goldfish crackers in the snack cup or leading your kids in prayer over their chicken nuggets, instead of asking God to bless this food try asking God to help you remember the sacrifice that Jesus made and to help you use the energy this food provides to show the love of Jesus to others.

-Sandy

 

007 Jesus Ate. Like, A Lot.

Jesus Ate. Like, a lot: Wrapping Up A Month of Living Like Jesus.

In this episode Sandy and Elisabeth talk more about living like Jesus and specifically how much He ate. Spoiler alert: It was a lot.

Jesus Ate

JOHN 12:1-2 Jesus, therefore, six days before the passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with him.

We know that Jesus ate a lot because it is talked about in the Bible a lot. It is not in there by accident. It’s pretty clear that Jesus balanced marathon teaching and healing sessions with weekends away with close friends eating, drinking and relaxing. It’s not in the Bible by accident. We are supposed to pay attention to it.

Jesus Fed Others

JOHN 21:4 Jesus said to the, come and have breakfast.

Jesus only spent so much time with the disciples after His resurrection. His message and His instruction in these appearances is vital to the mission of the first church and all of us that came after.

Jesus Went To Dinner

MARK [2:15] And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples.

Jesus ate with sinners, and tax collectors, which apparently was even worse. He wasn’t afraid to spend time with the people who needed Him the most.

Jesus Is Food

LUKE [22:19] This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.

Just as bread is vital to our physical life Jesus is vital to our spiritual life. Jesus not only commanded us to eat but He commanded us to think of Him every time we did. And I’m pretty sure He wanted us to think about that a lot.

Conclusion

Look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith and do what He did.

Now go have a snack and do something good.

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006 Boundaries – Because Jesus Said “NO” and So Should You

BOUNDARIES…BECAUSE JESUS SAID NO AND SO SHOULD YOU

MATTHEW [5:37] LET WHAT YOU SAY BE SIMPLY YES OR NO; ANYTHING MORE THAN THIS COMES FROM EVIL

This week Sandy and Elisabeth discuss the importance of boundaries, what the Bible says about them and the examples that Jesus gave us as he walked the Earth in human form.

Boundary (ˈbound(ə)rē/noun):

  • A line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line
  • A limit of a subject or sphere or activity

Soulshepherding.com says: “Jesus had personal needs that he put priority on, sometimes even over the needs of other people, and he did so without feeling guilty.

Your “NO” is a boundary that protects you and your family from a world that would suck you dry.

So, what did Jesus do?

HE WITHDREW FROM THE CROWDS:

LUKE [5:15]-16 But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places to pray.

MARK [1:35]-37 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.

Mark [1:45] Jesus could not enter a town if people saw Him publicly. He stayed in secluded places where no one lived but people kept coming to Him from everywhere.

HE SPENT TIME IN NATURE:

MATTHEW [15:29] Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And He went up on the mountain and sat down there.

MARK [2:23] One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and His disciples walked along.

Science corner:

  • Roger Ulrich published a study in Science magazine in 1984 that showed patients who could see leafy trees healed a full day faster, needed significantly less pain medication and had fewer post-surgical complications than patients who saw a brick wall instead.
  • Nature has been proven to show improve mood, reduce stress, improve cognitive function and even increase activity in the prefrontal cortex which regulates emotions, makes decisions, controls impulses and forms memories.

HE ATE:

JOHN 21:9 When they stepped onto the shore they saw a fire of hot coals. There were fish on the fire, and there was bread…Jesus said to them come and have breakfast and He took the bread and the fish and gave it to then.

Jesus ate. A lot. It’s mentioned many times. It’s the basis of multiple miracles both by God before Jesus and as part of His ministry while He was on Earth. 

Most importantly He uses food to represent His ultimate sacrifice and commands us to “Do This In Remembrance of Me” The “Do This” is literally Eat and Drink.

HE WASN’T MANIPULATED:

MATTHEW [16:23] Get behind Me Satan! You are not thinking about the things of God, but only about human concerns.

HIS NO MEANT NO:

MATTHEW [5:37] Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Don’t be evil. Say no.

HE DIDN’T TRY TO DO EVERYTHING:

MATTHEW [6:24] No one can serve two masters.

CONCLUSION:

Jesus’ focus was on serving His Heavenly Father.

Do not let others’ needs distract you from your purpose. Jesus did not come to Earth to heal our physical bodies, He came to save our souls.

There will always be someone who needs something but do not let your purpose in God’s Kingdom be overwhelmed by a sea of physical pain that will never leave this world.

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The Lie of Homemaker Sainthood & Tiny Idols

Part 1: The Lie

When I got married, I thought my life settled. In my immaturity, I thought “I’ve done it! I’ve found my person,  made him my husband, and I will have Children. In this, I will find myself, and my life’s purpose. I will not be like those other women who ignore their precious babies for careers or leave their husbands to do most of the cooking.”

“I shall be a Good Wife, and a Good Mother, for surely this is my life’s work, as God has outfitted me with a vagina and gifted me a bread pan.”

Around our 5 year anniversary, I hated myself. I had a child, a nice home, and a loving and attractive spouse. WHY ISN’T EVERYTHING PERFECT YET? Until my child was about 18 months old I wrecked myself out trying to make the house clean enough, the sex sexy enough, the dinners good enough, and the quality time with my kiddo quality enough.

It wasn’t enough. When I succeed I felt exhausted by the idea of tomorrow’s self-inflicted expectations and as if nothing  I did lasted for more than five minutes. When I failed I felt worthless. My husband had no idea who he was married to because the woman he’d married was disappearing under a stressed out Stepford wife. I was no longer a person, I was a failure. The more I chased Housewife Sainthood, the more empty I felt, and the further I drifted from God, my husband, and any sort of successful execution of purpose.

I had bought into a lie. A very popular lie that Western Christianity pushes on women possibly more so than it pushes the Proverbs 31 ideal: A Woman’s Sole Purpose In Life Is To Be A Homemaker. This Is Her Purpose & Joy.

There is an increasingly popular and vocal within American “Christianity” that claims a woman cannot be anything besides a mother and a wife. It is this ideology that set me down such a dangerous path early in my marriage. They claim that a woman has no place outside the home, that a woman cannot teach in church, and that she must be submissive to her Husband in all things while leaving out that a husband must also submit to his wife, as we are to submit one to another. In fact, they go as far as to say things like this:

Simply put, when you want more than motherhood, marriage and homemaking you may want more than the LORD has called you to and that spurs frustrations, unhealthy longings and is an awful drain.”

Well, that’s just wrong. One could even say it’s a lie. A lie that misled teachers tell themselves and then others.

Motherhood is not wrong and homemaking is not a poor choice (I actually personally believe that society would be better if we had more stay at home parents, of either gender and that many women DO put their career over their families. So do many men). I’m a stay at home mom/maid/cook/personal assistant, and honestly, I love my gig.

However, to claim it’s one’s highest or only purpose as a woman, to claim it’s the ideal to which all women should aspire, to try and fit us into this cookie cutter shape of someone who finds deep spiritual meaning in doing the dishes and sees her relationship with God framed by a husband, 2.5 kids, and a minivan is, well, Evil. Big E Evil.

The biggest (but not only) reason this lie is so damaging – weather we’re telling it to ourselves, hearing it from misled people, or from our own mothers – is because it’s close enough to the truth that it’s very easy to get them confused. The confusion looks something like this:

God’s Plan -> Be a Homemaker
vs.
Be A Homemaker -> Because it’s God’s Plan.

So close, and still so far. It’s like when I use “CHRISTMAS IN JULY!” as an excuse to binge watch claymation and Bing Crosby, and bake cookies. Honestly, I just wanted the cookies and a TV day with my kid, but “CHRISTMAS IN JULY!” ties it all together. It gives it a purpose it lacked and makes it sound cooler than it is. God is not here to justify the raspberry shortbread and White Christmases of my life.

If one starts with the premise that to serve God is to only do one specific thing, then one is cutting out God at the beginning, and using Him as an excuse to prop up one’s idols, whatever they may be. (Remember, God’s will for Esther was to be part of a haram. God’s will for Mary was to be pregnant outside of marriage. Both things that no “Good Godly Woman” would even consider God’s Will today for any reason.). The lie of Homemaker Sainthood assumes the Will of God and then turns to things other than God for personal fulfillment and identity.

If we step outside of what God has for us, If we assume we know His will due to a Great Big Fat Lie that will make us Holy if we try hard enough, or even when we’re doing what God has to us but look to the task and not the Creator for fulfillment, we find an unfulfilling hot mess of idolatry and unhappiness. Our place with the Saints is bought with the Blood of Christ, it is not earned through home labor, no matter how good our attitude about it is.

Most of the misled teachers sharing this lie that I’ve had experience with tend to double down when there’s trouble. Instead of looking at Jesus, they say that God and Jesus want you to look at your family and home. They claim that self-care is selfish, working outside of the home is not your place, and if you’re still unhappy, you’re just not connecting deeply enough with God while you load the dishwasher, so JUST TRY HARDER! If You’re Exhausted But Your Floors Are Clean You Can’t Be Sad Because Jesus Made You To Clean Them Floors! The Problem Is You!


….a Biblical homemaker knows her worth, is confident in her skills and she is irreplaceable. This confidence motivates her to go about her tasks and avoid discouragement. In turn, getting things peacefully accomplished at home brings her joy.”

Nope, sorry. That’s hella wrong. Yes, I said Hella. Neither your worth nor the root of your identity are found in Homemaking and Motherhood. If they are, you have wandered from the Savior.

This blogger then goes on to say “Moms who have lost their identity? Our identity is in Christ, not the role He has given us to fulfill. And empty is empty.” but then gives instructions to double down on chores and vilifies any form of self-care or taking time away from the neverending job of homemaking. While I appreciate her attempts, she’s speaking out of both sides of her mouth. There’s a lot of this in misled teachers, I’ve found. Maybe she needs a glass of wine. There’s something weird going on when a “Christian” blogger vilifies doing what Jesus did.

We’ve said it here before, and we’ll say it louder for the kids in the back: YOU CANNOT POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP. God doesn’t ask you to, either. The temporary world around us – Christian flavored and well-meaning at times, but clearly removed from God – asks that of you. Over and over again in the scripture, God promises rest, Jesus shows us that it’s important to rest and take time in the quiet to be in a relationship with The Father. It’s important to take time and be a unique person with unique desires and interests outside of homemaking and children because that’s who God made you to be. If your family is gone tomorrow, you are still here, and you still have an identity.

Two episodes Sandy and I feel very strongly about are being released this month, and they both are facets of self-care: Sleep and Boundaries. Two things Christ clearly showed us an example of in His life. He took care of himself. He took breaks from the crowd – from His ministry! – to take naps, to eat with His friends, to relax. Do not ask more of yourself than Christ did, because that’s stupid. If Jesus could step back and enjoy a night with friends, so should you.

If you’ve never experienced this Homemaker Sainthood kind of legalism, If you’ve never lost your God-given identity under a to-do list and got a stone from fellow believers when you asked for water, PRAISE GOD! That’s wonderful. I rejoice that your heart has never been bruised in a such a way. I would encourage you to not be so insular and vain that you disregard the hurt of others (that’s been done by “Christians”) or compound that hurt with more legalism because or even mocking simply because you yourself have not experienced such a hurt. Woe to y’all who cause little sheep to stumble, you know?

Many vocal misled teachers take joy in calling the discouragement or even mental illness of others sin. I was that person for years, and it made me ugly inside, and even more unhappy. I’m aware that many do in fact say “We’re not making idols of our families! Hahaha!” while doing exactly that. I don’t really have anything to say to that other than this: Sometimes the biggest lies we tell are the ones we tell ourselves.

I think the reality is that far more women have experienced this lie of Homemaker Sainthood than they realize or are willing to admit to because they think if being a mom and wife doesn’t fill them to the brim that they’re somehow failing, and that they’ve let God down.

Oh Honey, no. Your home and spouse and children cannot bear the weight of your identity and happiness. That is for the Father. The Joy of the Lord is your strength, not the joy of scrubbing toilets. If you look around your dirty house and feel like a failure, you have only failed at chores. That’s it. It’s not a statement of your worth.

-Elisabeth

Teaching our children about 9/11

If you have kids then the anniversary of September 11th always brings up the question of what to tell them. For a lot of us the topic still evokes a strong emotional response and we aren’t quite ready to teach our children about the horrible things that people are capable of.

So what do we need to say and why is it important? If you’ve listened to Episode 4 you know that we believe that God instructs us to be prepared. But what we will talk about more in future episodes is that God also calls us to respond.

If you have young children that aren’t ready to learn about the death and destruction of the day then spend time talking about our first responders, what their jobs are, how we call them when we need help and what we can do to help them.

If your kids are ready to learn about 9/11 I would encourage you not just to share the images and the facts but also share your story of the day. The phrase ‘Where were you’ seems a little overused on the Internet these days but it’s important for your children. Until they have a personal connection to the event it’s just history to them. No different than Vietnam or WWII. At their current age what would they have been doing that day? How did your parents react? What would you have done as their parent then?

I will always remember the point in time where I made that connection. We were studying WWII and I was young and it was boring so when my mother was trying to get me to sit still and focus on our studies I exclaimed: “Who cares!”. Her response changed me forever. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I care. Because my daddy was there.” It all clicked in that moment and it sparked a passion for history that remains in me to this day. Even though it was obviously painful for her (I still feel bad about that mom) I needed that personal connection to make it come alive.

Your story may just inspire a love of history, politics, military, education, healthcare or more in your child. That passion could end up becoming a hobby, a mission or even a career.

But I think the most important thing that we can impress upon our children is just how big of an impact that one person can make. We have to acknowledge that the impact can be for good or for evil. It does no good to forget evil but let the media dwell on that. We must be responsible for teaching the next generation to respond to tragedy with good.

It’s a lesson that stays fresh on our minds on 9/11 but it is also a lesson that can be applied every day. Tragedy will always be around us. While there hasn’t been a recent terrorist attack on our soil there is a massive storm bearing down on our country right now. People will be hurt, people will lose their homes and belongings and businesses and some will even lose their lives. We need to respond and it is our job to teach them how to respond with good.

-Sandy

005 Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked – So You Should Probably Take a Nap

THERE AIN’T NO REST FOR THE WICKED…SO YOU SHOULD PROBABLY TAKE A NAP

PSALM 127:2 The Lord gives sleep to those He loves.

Join Sandy and Elisabeth as they discuss the importance of sleep, what the Bible says about sleep, what to do when you can’t sleep and the examples that Jesus gave us as he walked the Earth in human form.

WE WERE MADE TO SLEEP:

  • If we believe that we were created as an intelligent design by an Almighty God, then we must also believe that He new what He was doing. 
  • He made our bodies to need sleep. 
  • It is a time of rest and recovery. 
  • It is when vital functions are happening to heal our bodies. 
  • Lack of sleep is linked to disease and death

PROVERBS [3:21]-24 My child, hold on to wisdom and good sense. Don’t let them out of your sight. … When you lie down, you will sleep in peace.

It literally makes you able to think and process things more clearly. It is essential to be able to carry out our duties as humans and our mission as Christians.

JESUS SLEPT:

MARK [4:38] Jesus was at the stern of the boat sleeping on a cushion.

JOHN 4:6 Jesus was tired from the journey so he sat down beside the well.

You have our permission to pause the episode now and go take a nap … but come back because there’s more good stuff at the end. 

WHEN SLEEP WON’T COME:

PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7 Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot comprehend it, will keep your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.

When sleep won’t come, pray. It’s really that simple. Ask God for what you need, thank Him for what you have. 

But pay attention to the Scripture here because He does NOT promise that everything will be magically better in the morning, what He promises is peace.

CONCLUSION:

SLEEP IS A BLESSING. BE THANKFUL FOR IT. EMBRACE IT.

If you’re worried and you can’t sleep,

Count your blessings instead of sheep.

And you’ll fall asleep, counting your blessings.

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Surrounded by the Power of Prayer

Last week my husband and I (Sandy) got to have a date night. We don’t really like date nights honestly because when my husband isn’t working we prefer to be together as a family. (Don’t worry we get alone time it’s just that crowded restaurants, congested parking lots and overpriced food aren’t really our thing.)

But last Thursday was something different. Michael W Smith and TBN decided to put together a free event for Nashville called Surrounded. The event was designed for Christians to come together and worship with some amazing musical talent and church leaders from all over the city would lead them in prayer over the community, state, and nation.

It was an amazing experience to see an arena the size of Bridgestone in Nashville full to capacity, with everyone singing at the top of their lungs. It was obviously an impressive sight. But what was even more notable to me were the church leaders who led the prayer section.

With all the people backing this event, they could’ve paraded celebrity preachers and worship leaders from all over the country across that stage to pray elaborate, poetic, inspiring prayers, but instead, they went into our community and they gathered together pastors and church leaders and gave them the platform to pray very specifically for what our city needs. It was also hard to ignore the fact that they had an even number of men and women praying, they had all ethnicities and even prayers in Spanish and Chinese.

It was very profound to see an event of this scale recognize that the prayer of a woman is powerful. We’ve talked a lot about how we are all created in the image of God as equal partners, but Elisabeth and I very much believe that men and women were created uniquely and they have different strengths and gifts and talents and that is all part of God’s design to create a couple who balance and support each other in life and in our mission to serve Him.

It’s disheartening when so many churches limit women’s involvement and influence to the church nursery. Hearing the prayers of these people who all live in the same place and minister to the same communities made it remarkably clear that our perspectives are unique, our missions are unique, our passions are unique and likewise, our prayers are unique. To withhold the prayers of a woman is to rob ourselves of God’s blessing. There are ways a woman prays that a man cannot and there are things that a woman thinks to pray for that a man wouldn’t even begin to ask.

Although the worship was powerful and I will likely write more about that later, the most profound thing that I walked away with was a renewed sense of calling to prayer. It’s something God has been preparing my heart for even before this event. I have always believed in the power of prayer but lately, I have had a burning fire to pray more and more. For people I know and for total strangers alike. In times of celebration and in times of hopelessness. In the quiet of night and in the chaos of the everyday.

This event reminded me that our prayers are needed. Our prayers are necessary. We need to pray BIG. We need to pray for each other. We need to pray for our cities. We need to pray for things that we can’t even imagine we would see in our lifetime. And we need to pray for what we hope the world will become for our children.

Never doubt the power of your prayer.

-Sandy