Me + Sports = Defeat

My gifting is not in sports. Being tall, people often ask me if I played volleyball or basketball in high school. My response is always an emphatic, chuckling, “NO!” I pretty much knew anytime I played a sport, I was going lose. Defeat was inevitable.

But in Romans 8:31-39, Paul tells us that we don’t walk around in defeat anymore.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:31-35; 37

More than conquerors… MORE THAN. This isn’t a nail biter. This isn’t a close game. The Greek Word here is a derived from two root words: hyper, meaning abundance, and nikao, the verb form of nike, meaning victory. He has won the overwhelming victory. This is no contest.

The pain point here is that we are living in the in between. The victory has been won, but we aren’t living in eternity yet. This world is still broken, full of pain, and it may appear like Satan is winning. Your life may not be perfect, but His victory is sure.

There’s a difference in the way a team walks off the court when they lose. Their heads are down, shoulders slumped. But the winning team walks off the court with heads held high, a leap in their step, arms flailing in victory, pumping up the crowd. We do not have to walk around feeling downcast and defeated. We get to walk around with head held high, cheering, because God wins.

I love the lyrics from the worship song Death Was Arrested:

Released from my chains I’m a prisoner no more
My shame was a ransom He faithfully bore
He cancelled my debt and He called me His friend
When death was arrested and my life began

Our savior displayed on a criminal’s cross
Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost
But then Jesus arose with our freedom in hand
That’s when death was arrested and my life began

Death doesn’t have the final word anymore. Sin doesn’t have the final word. Persecution doesn’t have the final word. Distress doesn’t have the final word. Sickness doesn’t have the final word. Nothing, NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ. Jesus took our punishment. Jesus took our shame. Jesus was the one who was condemned in our place. And when he walked out of the grave, the victory was won.

Now Jesus sits at the right hand of God – not just praying for you, but interceding. (more on this in this week’s video below).

Phew! All the praise hands! I pray today that you live in a posture of victory, because we win!

Watch this week’s video:

 

Or listen to the audio:

For This Week:

  • Read Romans 9-10 (Focus: Romans 9:19-26; Romans 10:5-13)
  • Gather with some girlfriends and talk about what you read.
    • Discover: What three truths did you learn from this passage?
    • Discuss: In Romans 8, we talked about how God works everything for His good and glory. According to 9:19-26, what should our response in the face of trials NOT be? Instead, what can we do to seek His glory in every aspect of our life? How can we have faith even when we feel like God is being unfair?
    • Share: Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9. How do these verses connect to Romans 10:8-13 as it relates to our heart and mind? Share a brief testimony of how came to put your faith in God. Celebrate one another as you share the many ways in which God calls us into His family.
  • Memorize Romans 10:12
  • Come back next week for the next video

Enjoy the Word Logo Long

I am thrilled to be part of an online Bible Conference called Enjoy the Word 2018. God has grown my passion for His Word for the last couple of years. It has breathed new life into my every day. For the first time in my life, I truly enjoy the Bible. And look at these amazing women involved! They are some of my favorite Bible teachers.

2018 Conference Speakers

Here are some of the sessions (and you get to keep the videos for LIFE!):

  • Keynote Speakers: Chris and Katie Orr – a Study through Jonah
  • Teri Lynne Underwood (TeriLynneUnderwood.com) – Lopsided Living: What the Bible REALLY Says about Balance
  • Kat Lee (HelloMornings.org) – How to Build the Habit of Regular Bible Study
  • Stacey Thacker (StaceyThacker.com) – Igniting a Passion for God through His Word
  • Katie Orr (KatieOrr.me) – Too Busy for Bible Study?
  • Brooke McGlothlin (TheMOBSociety.com) – How to Control Your Emotions so They Don’t Control You
  • Elyse Fitzpatrick (ElyseFitzpatrick.com) – Finding the Love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation
  • Angie Brown Elkins (chatologie.com) – How to Worship Through the Word

Click here for all the details and to register.

Not How It Was Meant To Be

I started my career as a News Writer for the morning show at one of our local news stations. The news is negative and full of bad news, but think how hard it is to be the gate keeper of the news. I would go into work around 1am and part of my job was listening to police scanners all night, training my ears to perk up at words like “shooting” or “accident.” We had to decide which shootings were worth reporting, which stories were newsworthy. My fears were escalating. My heart was pierced daily. I did the only thing I knew to do: I built an impenetrable wall around my heart. I couldn’t let the hurt of the world hurt my heart.

The problem was I left that wall intact long after I left that job. Over the years, I’d watch women cry over bad news in their lives: sickness, death, job loss, pain. But I wouldn’t shed a tear. I couldn’t feel their pain. I couldn’t have compassion. My heart was closed off.

When God called me to this role as Women’s Ministry Director, He also challenged me to tear down that wall. He knew I couldn’t be effective if I couldn’t have compassion. So slowly, brick by brick, I began to let the wall crumble and expose my heart. It hasn’t been easy; this world has so much pain. In fact, it’s groaning.

This word “groaning” we find in Romans 8:18-30 this week took on new meaning for me. We talk more in depth about it in the video this week, but the Greek word has the intonation that this is not how the world was meant to be. The suffering, the pain, the heartache of this world – it all feels wrong because it is wrong. We were created for perfection, but we live in an imperfect world. It’s not easy, but every pain reminds me that we await eternity. We eagerly hope for what God has promised: a world with no more tears, no more pain, no more death, no more sadness.

It’s not easy, and God knew that. He didn’t leave us alone to wrestle; He gave us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who doesn’t just live in us. He searches us and prays for us.

 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

This verse comforts my hurting heart. It’s okay if we don’t know what to pray. It’s ok to feel weak, unsure, confused. Paul goes on to say that the Holy Spirit searches our hearts and prays in accordance to the will of God. We may be imperfect, but we have a Spirit who perfectly prays for us.

God provided for us in our heart, our weakness, our hurt. I am so thankful for that!

Watch this week’s video:

 

or Listen to the Audio:

For Next Week:

  • Read Romans 8:31-39
  • Gather with some girlfriends and talk about what you read.
    • Discover: What three truths did you learn from this passage?
    • Discuss: Look up “intercede” in the dictionary. Romans 8:26 tells us the Holy Spirit is “hyper” interceding for us by searching our heart. According to 8:34, who else intercedes for us? From what position? How does this change the way we pray or approach God?
    • Share: The Greek Word for “more than conquerors” means “to gain a surpassing victory”; a compound words from two words: “hyper” (over, beyond, more) and “Nikao” (conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory). There’s no contest in the battle between Satan and God. Our victory is overwhelming. In what areas does v. 35 tell us we are overwhelmingly victorious? How does God define victory versus the world? Where can you claim the overwhelming victory in your life today?
  • Memorize Romans 8:37.
  • Come back next week for the next video.

A New Name

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to walk through the adoption process with one of my closest friends. She and her husband had two children but knew they wanted to adopt. They live in another country and received a phone call one day from a local friend. There was a baby girl – about 8 months old – who needed a foster home. She and her husband agreed to take her in, and within a short time knew this would be their daughter. From there, they fought for over a year to make her their daughter officially. Now this girl, once an orphan, in need of care, love, destined for a life without much hope for future, had a new name. Now she had a family. Now she belonged. The course of her life changed. I watched as my friends went to battle for their daughter. They became her advocate. They helped her get medical care she needed. They loved her.

Adoption is one of the most beautiful processes on this earth. In Romans, Paul uses several “human” examples to help us better understand what Jesus Christ did for us. In chapter 6, he uses slavery as a way to show how we transfer being controlled by sin to be controlled the Spirit. It gives a picture of how we transfer being owned by death to being owned by God. It was a familiar image. In fact, many estimate that as much as half of the church in Roman were slaves or indentured servants.

In chapter 8 though, Paul takes this idea of being slaves and turns it on its head:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father! The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15-17

We are not slaves; we are heirs. We do not have a slave master; we have an Abba Father. We are adopted into God’s family. Being an heir meant everything in the ancient world: it was your identity, your future, your livelihood. In a prominent household, there was a difference between the slaves and the heirs. They didn’t live the same lifestyle and their futures couldn’t be more distinct. But if a slave was adopted, it broke all of their previous legal ties and they had a new identity as an heir.

That’s what Jesus did for us. His life, death, and resurrection were all to bring us close to God – to be adopted as His children, to become heirs.

And that word “Abba”? It was an intimate name for daddy, a “tender endearment by a beloved child.” It is used by a child who has an “affectionate, dependent” relationship on their father. Using Abba Father broke down the notion that God was a high and mighty, uninvolved, judging, dictator of rules. Paul portrays God here as a loving father. It’s the name Jesus uses of God in the Garden of Gethsemane right before he is arrested.

Paul moves the believers in Rome from a Master-Slave mentality to an Abba-Heir relationship.

God does the same for us: He breaks all legal ties we had to sin and gives us a new name, a new future. Not because of who we are, but because of who our Daddy is.

Watch This Week’s Video Here

Romans 8_1-17 Thumb0

Or listen the audio:

For this Week:

  • Read Romans 8:18-30
  • Gather with some girlfriends and talk about what you read.
    • Discover: What three truths did you learn from this passage?
    • Discuss: The Greek Word used for groaning in vv. 22, 23, & 26 implies a feeling of pressure that this is not how life should be. Who is groaning in these verses? How does this change our view of suffering in the world around us?
    • Share: The Greek Word for interceding is a combination of two root words meaning “abundant” and “praying for.” How does this encourage you when you “don’t know what to pray”? What is The Spirit praying according to?
    • Bonus Question: Read verses 1-30 together and review what youve studied. How does this change your understanding of v. 28?
  • Memorize Romans 8:26.
  • Come back next week for the next video.

 


Enjoy the Word Logo Long

I am thrilled to be part of an online Bible Conference called Enjoy the Word 2018. God has grown my passion for His Word for the last couple of years. It has breathed new life into my every day. For the first time in my life, I truly enjoy the Bible. And look at these amazing women involved! They are some of my favorite Bible teachers.

2018 Conference Speakers

Here are some of the sessions (and you get to keep the videos for LIFE!):

  • Keynote Speakers: Chris and Katie Orr – a Study through Jonah
  • Kat Lee (HelloMornings.org) – How to Build the Habit of Regular Bible Study
  • Stacey Thacker (StaceyThacker.com) – Igniting a Passion for God through His Word
  • Katie Orr (KatieOrr.me) – Too Busy for Bible Study?
  • Brooke McGlothlin (TheMOBSociety.com) – How to Control Your Emotions so They Don’t Control You
  • Elyse Fitzpatrick (ElyseFitzpatrick.com) – Finding the Love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation
  • Angie Brown Elkins (chatologie.com) – How to Worship Through the Word

Click here for all the details and to register.

This Good Day

I woke up Good Friday morning contemplating Easter and all that this weekend represents. I honestly haven’t given it much thought this week. The tyranny of the urgent has taken over, and the important ponderings of this Holy Week have been pushed aside. Yesterday morning, I sat in quiet (well, not real quite because #threekids), but I drank my coffee from a mug on the couch instead of in the car while fighting traffic. To me, that’s quiet.

My mind races over all the various verses I could share about what Easter means:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Hebrews 2:14-15

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

Today marks the darkest day in history, but for us, we have the whole story. Today isn’t dark. Today is full of HOPE. Because of Good Friday, because of this dark Saturday, we know there is hope in the darkness.

Many of you have asked about my husband as I’ve run into you around town, and it has taken me four months to be able to put these words in print: Kris is doing SO well! Back in November, he was declared in clinical remission. We truly believe it was a miracle.

Remission with an auto-immune disease doesn’t mean you are healed, it means the disease isn’t active at this time. We’ve spent the last four months figuring out what this means for us: what can we add back in? what do we continue in? what needs to be removed? In many ways, I felt a lifting of darkness over our lives. Four months in, he is a new man and we are a new family. We are learning we still have to manage Kris’ energy, which means still keep tight reigns on our social schedule. We are learning what foods his body can handle now, like vegetables and red meat. We are sticking with some of the food restrictions and overall gut health regimen. Y’all – we laugh again. We sleep again. We were even able to go on vacation as a family over spring break. That was a dream come true for me!

The last two years have been dark for us, but Jesus never let go. He has been beside us, before us, and behind us the entire journey. This weekend means more to us than ever before. Our God loves us so deeply that he sent his Son to die for us. Jesus humbled himself – took all of his God power, stuffed them inside human skin and walked among His beloved creation. He was beaten, bruised, pierced – all for our sin. He took upon himself the weight of every sin that ever was and ever would be committed. His sacrifice once and for all did what thousands of sacrifices by priests in a temple couldn’t do. On the third day, he burst forth from the grave – defeating sin, defeating death, defeating Satan. He walked out of that grave carrying Hope. Hope that one day, we would live in a world with no more pain, no more disease, no tears. He came so that we could find hope in the darkness. Hope that he would grow us more like Jesus through the process (Romans 5:1-5). Hope that brings freedom. Hope that brings joy. Hope that does not disappoint.

Today is a day of Hope. Today is a Good Day. Praise God!

The Gleaning

In my last two years as Women’s Ministry Director, I’ve spent a great of time talking to other women who lead ministries and Bible Studies around the country. One lesson I’ve learned is never jump from one Bible study to the next. Instead, take a break, go back over what you learned, and let the truths sink in. This practice also gives God an opportunity to show you new truths you may have missed the first time.

While we are not ending our study of Romans, it’s also good when studying a book over a long period time to pause and do the same. My friend (and cousin) Katie Taurisano likens this to Ruth, gleaning in the fields after the reapers. (You can read more in Ruth 2 about this process). The principle is that after the reapers would harvest a field, the widows and the poor would go behind and pick up the wheat that was left behind.

To glean means to gather (something, such as information) bit by bit, to pick over in search of relevant material. That’s what this week is about. We are pausing between Romans 7 and 8 to spend time going back over the first seven chapters, find new material. Reread a chapter a day. Pray and ask God to reveal fresh truths. Spend some time with your girlfriends going over the highlights.

This week, Stacey Thacker and I share our favorites themes, ways God opened our eyes to see these verses in a new light, and talk about what’s coming for Part 2.

 

Prefer the audio version? Listen here:

For This Week:

  • Read Romans 8:1-17
  • Gather with some girlfriends and talk about what you read.
    • Discover: What three truths did you learn from this passage?
    • Discuss: Read Romans 8:1-3 & John 3:17. What does it mean to “not be condemned”? Why did Jesus come? What is the result of His coming?
    • Share: What are the benefits of being controlled by the Spirit listed in these passages?
  • Memorize Romans 8:1-2
  • Come back next week for Video 9.

Enjoy the Word Logo Long

I am thrilled to be part of an online Bible Conference called Enjoy the Word 2018. God has grown my passion for His Word for the last couple of years. It has breathed new life into my every day. For the first time in my life, I truly enjoy the Bible. And look at these amazing women involved! They are some of my favorite Bible teachers.

2018 Conference Speakers

Here are some of the sessions (and you get to keep the videos for LIFE!):

  • Keynote Speakers: Chris and Katie Orr – a Study through Jonah
  • Kat Lee (HelloMornings.org) – How to Build the Habit of Regular Bible Study
  • Stacey Thacker (StaceyThacker.com) – Igniting a Passion for God through His Word
  • Katie Orr (KatieOrr.me) – Too Busy for Bible Study?
  • Brooke McGlothlin (TheMOBSociety.com) – How to Control Your Emotions so They Don’t Control You
  • Elyse Fitzpatrick (ElyseFitzpatrick.com) – Finding the Love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation
  • Angie Brown Elkins (chatologie.com) – How to Worship Through the Word

Click here for all the details and to register.