Tag Archives: Epistle to the Romans

Start with “thank you”

It’s common practice to teach your kids to say ‘please’ and then ‘thank you’ when they have requests. But with God, things are a little bit different. God has already lavished on us more than we could ever fully comprehend.

  • New life. ~ John 10:10
  • Freedom from condemnation. ~ Romans 8:1
  • The Holy Spirit to dwell in us. ~ John 14:15-17
  • Transformation to become like Jesus. – 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • The promise of eternity with Him. ~ Revelation 21:1-7

So instead of approaching God with a “please”, let’s begin with a “thank you!”

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. ~ Psalm 100:4-5

With God, ‘thank you’ should always come before ‘please.’ The first thing out of my mouth in prayer and worship needs to be praise for who God is and what He has done.

As Steven Furtick puts it: “If you thank God for everything before you ask Him for anything, it makes you realize you deserve nothing.”

Look again at the model prayer in Matthew 6. Jesus teaches us to first address God and then offer up our request. This serves to remind us that life does NOT revolve around us but around God.

It’s impossible to be self-absorbed and God-conscious at the same time.

So whether its gathering with other believers in larger worship services or fellowshipping with God on your own…

… start with “thank you.”



Filed under Gratitude, intimacy with the Lord, Praise, Prayer, Worship

Why Church Matters

The Good News is simple and powerful—Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins, and there is no other way of salvation (see John 14:6; Romans 5:8). To receive the free gift of salvation Jesus offers, we must turn from our sin in genuine repentance and trust in Him and His sacrificial death on our behalf (see 1 John 1:8–9; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8–9)…

Now I want you to see how the church and the Good News connect: The church is the vehicle that Jesus chose to take the message of the gospel to every generation and

Are you seeing the bigger picture? The church matters because Jesus chose it to tell and show the world the message of His love. And this message, carried forward through history and lived out for all to see, is the world’s only hope.
~ Excerpted from Why Church Matters by Joshua Harris

Don’t miss the opportunity to meet with your church family this weekend!


Filed under Christianity, Grace, involvement with the church, Love of God

Beautiful Grace

Grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is a gift. All that is good is ours, not by right, but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer. Even our fidelity is a gift. “If we but turn to God,” said St. Augustine, “that itself is a gift of God.” My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.
~ Excerpted from The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Much of what I’ve come to understand and embrace regarding God’s grace began with Brennan Manning and The Ragamuffin Gospel. One of the most significant statements Brennan makes is the final one in the paragraph above.

“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”

Don’t race past it. Pause long enough to read that sentence again. In fact, I challenge you to take five full minutes and just meditate on the reality of what Brennan is saying. It expresses well what Paul states in his letter to the believers in Rome.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8

At the very core of who you are, how do you see yourself? It is no small question. From our core identity flows how we do life, how we view others, even how we respond to the circumstances of life.

Many different voices and experiences of life speak to who we are and how we see ourselves. Some are well-meaning and helpful; many are negative and detrimental. God wants us to hear his voice above all others as He speaks into our hearts…

You are deeply loved simply because I, your Creator, choose to love you!


Filed under Christianity, Grace, Love of God

In the Father’s lap

It was the second night of our five-day Ohio/West Virginia adventure last week. Our group of 13 parents and teens gathered around the campfire for some worship and a message from Keith challenging us to draw closer to God. After the message we sat around sharing our stories and I knew that something was weighing heavy on Mykaela’s heart so I motioned for her to come sit on my lap so I could hold her.

Later, after everyone had meandered off, Kyrsten was still there with me and was bothered by something weighing heavy on her heart. So I asked her if she wanted to sit on my lap. She did and we sat for a while. Then we prayed together about what it was that had her teary-eyed.

They are both almost 17 and it’s been a while since they have sat on my lap but it was just one of those times when a girl needs her daddy. I didn’t share any great words of wisdom or solve the issues that were making their hearts heavy. But I did wrap my arms around them and just hold them for a bit.

Even though I’m nearly half a century old there are still times when I want to just crawl up on a lap and have big, strong arms of love hold me. That’s what our heavenly Father does for us any time we need. But I must admit it has taken me a while to realize that. I grew up with a view of God that was very much less than inviting.

Maybe that’s why I never tire of focusing on God’s love for us. One of my favorite passages is Romans 5:8…

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I like it because it reminds me that God doesn’t wait for me to get my act together before loving on me. In fact, if God did wait for me to get my act together… He’d still be waiting.

Thank you Lord for a love beyond measure and a lap to crawl into whenever I need it!


Filed under Children of God, Divine presence, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God

Uh… sorry, not me!

Paul, writing to the believers in Rome, states:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. ~ Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

James says nearly the same thing when he writes:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~ James 1:2-4

So, when facing difficult circumstances in life we can both rejoice and consider it pure joy. Uh…sorry, not me! Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not disagreeing with Paul or James, I’m just admitting that those two phrases don’t describe how I typically respond to the hard moments of life.

How can we learn to respond differently when facing the tough situations of life? By remembering that God has already met our biggest need – separation from God. Before Paul tells us that we can rejoice when we run into problems and trials he says…

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. ~ Romans 5:1-2

If God’s grace can meet our biggest need, separation from Him, then we can face the hardships of life with hope; hope that enables us to rejoice and be joyful.

Lord, keep us mindful of grace that not only redeems us but sustains us, even in the worst of situations!

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Filed under Courage, Determination, Faith, Grace, Hope