We are on week 2 now! Our theme this week is “Let the Oppressed Go Free.”
“Is not this the fast that I choose…to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6 ESV)
This week is about forgiveness and showing value to others instead of holding things against them. Only by letting go of the ones you are “oppressing” can you also become free! So as a community, we are:
Giving up: My rights, my own sense of Justice
Alive to: Freedom, Grace, Mercy

My personal fast this week, following a modified version of the graduated fasting plan of no sweets/no meats is sticking with “no sweets” and in addition, I will only eat chicken and fish, no red meat or pork. Still nursing my baby, but I still want to keep with the idea of continuing to grow in what I will “give God” while keeping up with what my body needs for my baby and I right now.

It has been interesting to me to hear how different people in our church community are approaching the fast. Some are doing the graduated plan, or some other plan to change their fasting focus each week, some decided to focus more on a media fast, some are planning ten days within the month of only liquids… I love how people are taking this Month of Dedication and really talking to Jesus about it and considering what they personally want to do. I do not believe the church should be the one to tell you how to relate to Jesus. Jesus should be the one to tell you how to relate to Himself. The church can invite, challenge, provide a safe place to share and grow, and yes, fail. But ultimately your relationship with God is YOURS! So for you and God to decide for you is the healthiest way to go.

I taught Sunday school again this week, so our lesson was on forgiveness. I opened up with one of the songs from our playlist, “Forgiveness” by TobyMac. I love TobyMac and I love how his music is fun for my kids, too, but has some really amazing messages also, and kids can connect to it a little easier than a worship song sometimes. I showed the video and then we talked about the weekly theme, connecting it to Peter and Jesus. We showed from John 6:68 how Peter truly believed in and loved Jesus, but when Jesus was arrested, Peter got scared and denied Jesus three times (John 18). We talked about betrayal, thinking about how it would feel to have a good friend say they weren’t your friend in front of a bunch of people on the playground at school, especially if at the time you were being made fun of. The kids totally made the connection of how that would feel, and how hard it would be to forgive the person later. My son said, “But mom I would never do that to my friend!” Which was perfect, since that is exactly what Peter said to Jesus before he denied Jesus! Then we talked about what happened after the resurrection, how Jesus forgave Peter, and especially looking at John 21 where Jesus has a one-on-one with Peter, restoring their relationship.
We did a little game with a memory verse and had a handout again for the kids to talk about what they are dedicating to God this week, and had on a couple more songs from the playlist as they finished up.

So, grown-ups, who might you need to forgive this week? Or is there someone you need to ask to forgive you? There are some great scriptures in this week’s reading list, like Matthew 5:23-26 and 6:12-15, Psalm 25 & 37… Is God speaking to you? I hope so!

(By the way, check out a new page under the Month of Dedication tab, on fasting recipes, including a fasting-friendly birthday cake! Yep, my son had a birthday so I made regular cake for the party, but I also made cupcakes with no sugar added! Because birthdays are worth celebrating even when you are fasting. Have a great week!)

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