That's the Book: Romans
I spent the weekend at Ladies retreat with our church. Fantastic sessions, well organized, fun time. Our leader could do ladies' retreats for a living. She's that good. God used her to teach us about praise. Praise in the hard times and in the good.
The final session came. I had previously talked to our leader about handing out some Quirky Faith business cards to all the women and inviting them to share their stories of praise through this blog as way to praise our Father. She said it was a good idea - let's invite more women to share! Final prayer came, final song. Our leader dismissed the ladies and out the door they streamed. She'd forgotten Quirky Faith.
Honestly I shrugged it off. No big deal. I forget stuff all the time.
Then on the way out a couple of offhand comments from some friends indicated people are too busy to read the blog. One comment hit too close to a tender spot.
My heart sank. My offering had been rejected. Bitterness took root.
Romans is a letter from the missionary pastor Paul to a church in Rome. It has many perhaps the clearest explanation of sin and salvation and call to obey God in the entire Bible. It's not good to read or quote Romans lightly. If you want to really change, to see yourself in truth and to climb out of messy thinking this is a book to read and consider. I signed up for a year long class through Bible Study Fellowship on the book of Romans for a faith check up. It's been good. And painful. So I approached this blog post with a little fear and trembling. I do not want you to take these words as the full or final or even only introduction to this mighty book I do want to show you though how it can change your life. So this story this week is a little personal. I've gotten permission from the couple of people I quoted to share.
I drove home from retreat through wind and rain. In my heart. On the way I found out two friends had to cancel plans for an event I'd worked on. Last minute. When I got home I found out my kid didn't get picked for a part in a play. My other kid hadn't been invited to an event. To top it off, my husband had cleaned out our cupboards. He'd thrown stuff out I'd bought as gifts, or to help people. Granted, he'd also thrown out a mountain of random trash I tend to keep.
You know. All the petty life stuff.
The whole string of events had me feeling unappreciated and frankly bitter.
I had a bad attitude. Walked into my kitchen and told my spouse. I said "Listen, I know this is rotten of me. I know its probably even sin. But I'm feeling bruised. A tad kicked and broken. Annoyed. Verging on mad. I talked about how I know God wants to me love people and forgive and move on. But I struggle here. Romans puts it clearly.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15
This was me. I hate feeling hard or hurt. I preach Grace. But when my ego or pride got bruised I went quickly back to judgment and bitterness.
I told him I needed to write about Romans but I had nothing to say from a right heart. I said I'd rather delete the whole blog, move out of town or take my kid for a long walk. He suggested perhaps the walk was the best option. So my little five-year-old spitfire and I headed out. This verse was ringing in my heart. Come help me Jesus.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24
My first sight outdoors was color. Vibrant fall leaves all around. I took a breath.
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20
My daughter lagged behind. She was collecting sticks. Muddy, dirty sticks. She said "I love sticks". She was completely ignoring the beauty and focusing on the dirt. Same as me.
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's richness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:2
When I come face to face with my attitudes and God's glory I see my sin for what it is. Pitiful. Ugly. Bitter. My feelings got hurt because my motivations and motives were off. My hopes and prayers were too. My priorities suck.
There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Romans 3:10-13
I looked around at what God had created, at the beauty around me. In my personal rant I'd forgotten gratitude. Gratitude for salvation, for grace, for heaven, for eternity. For acceptance and love and mercy. I'd focused on some minor injuries and forgotten his great offering.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly...But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6,8
My daughter ran on ahead and I warned her to come back where I could watch her. She put down her sticks and started to show me the colors. ink, red, orange, yellow. All unique.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18.
This verse provides comfort on my darkest days. At funerals or hospitals or court rooms it helps to quote this and remember heaven. This verse is so convicting on my bad attitude, hurt feelings over minor issues days. My present sufferings. Compared with the glory that will be revealed. Someone tell me to shut up. My hurts were not worth comparing to what God wants to do in my life.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6
You see it right? The truth of Romans? We are a mess and powerless to do anything about it. But God can. And did.
What, then, shall we say in response 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, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32
My daughter and I walked through the neighborhood. When a big dog ran up I took her hand. When we had to cross traffic I held her hand. She was safe through this walk because I love her and I was with her. Same is true for my life.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor live, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39
By now I was praying and praising. Thankful to Jesus. He saved me for all eternity and he saves me daily from myself.
"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
I talked my little one about the gifts God gives. My first and highest calling is to praise him for his gift. My second is to tell my daughters about His love.The walk was a good reminder. And Quirky Faith? It's an offering to Jesus. I feel like He asks me to write. So regardless if anyone reads it, the act of obedience is to write the Glory of God and post it. It's a beautiful offering only because it declares his truth. If what people see is me, I'm missing the mark.
How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:14-15
See this? I'm accepted by God because he sacrificed. And he calls me to sacrifice right back for him.
Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in light of God's mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
This morning I spent some time clearing the air with my friends. Honoring our friendships.
Love must be sincere, Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:9-10
When my daughter and I got home we lined up our leaves. I took a few photos. She glued them onto paper. I want her to remember this day. I want to remember. I want to trust him. To hope in him. To be filled with him.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15;13
As I put away our shoes and coats I noticed a bag of my daughter's lessons and papers from Sunday school that morning. She'd learned that very morning about walking in Jesus' footsteps. Okay Jesus. Point Taken.
To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. Romans 16:27
My uncle is a smart man. He told me to read this book for a wise overview of Romans. It's on my read list. Want to join me?
OK. I know. It's not possible to do justice to the book of Romans in one blog post. Please read it yourself. And do yourself a favor and watch The Bible Project's Read Scripture series for a good overview.
Infographic. SERIOUSLY. Look at this thing - it's helpful.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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