Saturday, March 24, 2018

Romans 1:1-7

Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will have obedience that comes by faith, bringing glory to His name.  You are among those who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ, dear friends in Rome.  God loves you dearly and has called you to be his very own people.  May grace and peace be yours from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (verses 5-7)

What is obedience that comes by faith?

I assume this is to be distinguished from obedience that comes from fear of retaliation or self-serving gratification.  Obedience  out of fear might cause someone to just obey in accordance with the letter of the law, and not engage in its spirit to serve the purposes of God.  It would cause a hedging obedience - just enough to stay out of trouble - and not a heart-felt desire to please God in obedience.  Obedience for self-serving purposes would be to obey in order to justify oneself or prove oneself worthy.  The credit for obedience would be expected for the one obeying.

So, then what is obedience that comes by faith?  It would be driven by the desire to please the One who set the standard, to show Him and the standard to be righteous and worthy of obeying.  It might also be a gratitude response.  If God wants it, He can have it, whether I see the necessity of the obedience or not.  Whether it's easy or not; whatever diligence it might require of me.  God says it, so I do it! 

My personal example is one I have given many times.  I love my husband.  My husband hates onions.  So, I don't cook with onions.  In fact I love onions, but gladly deny myself cooking with them because of the request of the one I love.  In fact, because dried onions are often hidden in many products, I have to be diligent about reading labels.  I wouldn't want to ruin his meal by their addition.  I wonder if I am so diligent about God's requests so as not to accidentally offend Him?

What is your act of obedience that comes by faith?
What is a grateful response?


What is the impact of being identified as the object of God's love?  In fact,  He loved me so much that He wants to identify me as one of His and join me in the people group He has gathered together.  I see this as an opportunity to take on God's defining character trait of love.  It is so defining that it drives my identity into the people group of those who share that character trait.  Just like I might identify with my college team or my family, it provides definition for me.  It gives me a sense of belonging and pride;  it might even direct my path.

How does love become a defining character trait for you?
How do you identify with God's people?


If we are to be spiritually formed in a way that leads us
to God, we want to finally and thoroughly keep God
at the center.

What does God reveal about himself in this passage?
What does God want most for us?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Romans Road: Spiritual Formation on the Journey

The book of Romans was written by the apostle Paul and has served as the source for the core of theology for Christianity.  God was deliberate in tapping this educated man who developed a passion for Jesus Christ so that the basis of the living faith could be systematized.  It was important for consistency  in faith practices.

I would like to invite you to a different journey along the Romans Road.  I have found that when on a pilgrimage, the journey is often as significant as the destination.  While Romans offers us a theological destination, I have found it to be significant in the formation of my daily living, too.  And not just in the final declarations and summations of the faith.  The book of Romans also is rich in spiritual formation, especially when we can keep God at the center of the discussion about what He wants for us along the journey.  

Are you ready to walk with me through a formational journey through Romans?  You may be surprised.  And changed!

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Entering the Darkness

Most of us know the familiar territory where darkness prevails and we usually work to avoid it at all costs, from the extremes of addiction to keeping a good (false) attitude of the place we are in.  We avoid the darkness.  We fear it.  It is not fun.  Yet, what if, in it, we could find God? What if, in it, we could find the greatest truth of all?  God is not afraid of it.  It doesn’t surround him like it does us.

To you, the night shines bright as day. 

Darkness and light are the same to you. 

Psalm 139:12
Lord, of course, You can see through either! Both can dispense Your truth and Your presence.  What if the darkness might hold just as much truth as the light?
Places of darkness are different for each of us.  Maybe it’s the darkness of a hurt we have buried or the darkness that befalls us when we quiet ourselves from shiny, noisy or blustery practices and we have to sink into the center of who we are.  Maybe it’s the darkness of an unresolved relationship or truth about ourselves.  The list goes on, but God’s truth about each can often only be revealed in the chasm. 
And since God is there, seeing it as clearly as if by daylight, if we allow ourselves to enter with Him, He can shine the light on the truth we need.  We can stay in the darkness knowing He is there, whether resolution comes or not, knowing that He is there to comfort or guide, satisfy or use it for our good. 
I am not so afraid of quiet now or even the darkness that some would claim to be the absence of God.  I think in the end the only one refusing to be in the darkness is me.  Now I know to enter it and relish the pause it gives, the truth it shows, and the comfort it brings.