Life Verses: Romans 8

We just concluded a sermon series at Blueprint entitled “Life Verses.” Each week, one of our pastors walked  us through a set of verses that has been influential in his life. But God’s Word isn’t just for pastors! It has the ability to powerfully affect and transform each of us. Today, we're featuring the Life Verses of Laura Coulter, one of our interns.  I get excited about the book of Romans, especially chapter 8. It's gotten me through quite a few hard times in my life. It reminds me who I am and where I stand in Christ, no matter what I feel at the time or the external circumstances weighing me down.

Paul wrote this letter to the Roman church from Corinth, planning to go through Rome on his way to Spain. Since Paul had never been to Rome before, he wanted to establish a strong relationship with the Roman believers and unite them around a well-clarified and powerful gospel in a way that would ease tensions between believers of different backgrounds, as well as encourage them to avoid false teaching and immoral living. That’s why the book of Romans is such a great explanation of the gospel and Christian life. It’s no coincidence that we often use verses in Romans for evangelism. It’s a well of gospel truth: clear, deep, and pure.

By the time he gets to Romans 5, Paul’s dealt with sin, death, the law, and justification by faith. In the next four chapters he ties it all together. Through  faith in Christ, because of what He’s done for us, we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)— righteousness wins over sin, life wins over death, and the Spirit wins over the flesh. To me, Romans 8 is a victory cry, beginning with, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” and ending with, “[nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).  That just reaches into my heart and injects joy!

But Romans 8 isn’t just spiritual candy. It’s deep, nourishing, tough, make-your-head-want-to-explode spiritual truth. Paul talks about:

  • -life in the Spirit instead of death in the condemnation of sin ( verses 1-4)
  • -the mindset of the Spirit versus the mindset of the flesh (verses 5-11)
  • -the fact that the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead now dwells in us (verse 11)
  • -how the Spirit testifies that we are God’s adopted children, and we are able to call him Father (verses 14-17)
  • -how our suffering for Christ now will lead to a much greater glory later (verses 17-18)
  • -how believers groan with creation in anticipation of resurrection and regeneration (verses 18-25)
  • -the Spirit of God interceding for us when we don’t know what or how to pray (verses 26-27)
  • -the ultimate good God has in store for those who love him— to be conformed to the image of Christ (verses 28-30)
  • -how we are more than conquerors in him, because nothing can stand against us and nothing can separate us from his love when we are in Christ (31-39)

 

If you have never shouted "Amen" in your life, that has to at least make you want to! And that’s why I love Romans 8— it’s the beauty of the gospel wrapped up in a way that makes me paralyzed in wonder at God’s love, thinking: I don’t deserve this.

I don’t deserve the Spirit of God living in me, leading me, interceding for me, and reminding me that I belong to Him. I don’t deserve to be adopted into God’s family, to be a coheir with Christ, who died for me. I don’t deserve glory and resurrection. I don’t deserve the ultimate good. I don’t deserve to be made anything like Christ. I don’t deserve to conquer anything. And I certainly don’t deserve a love that will never, ever let me go. Yet God loves me with that love. And He gives me all these things, not because I deserve them, but because He loved me enough to reach down into my world and bring me up into His by the blood of His Son.

I love Romans 8 because through it God says, “Daughter, you belong to me and I will never let you go.”

What does a truth like that do to me? Ultimately, the response to this wonder isn't paralysis, but action. God's active, invasive, ridiculous love motivates me to live with confidence in Christ, sharing His love with others however I can, empowered by His incredible, creative, intimate Spirit.

 

Adapted from a post previously published on LauraCoulterwrites.com. Used with permission.

 

A Different Kind of Hero

I am a nerd about The Hunger Games. Like I read the series in four days nerdy. So, of course, I recently saw the second movie, Catching Fire. And, yes, of course, the book is better. I might add that I will not pretend I have not lived vicariously through this Katniss (that’s one reason we read and watch fiction, right?).  I mean, you have to picture this woman catching fire, literally adorned in flames, emblazoned with determination, laser-like focus on her mission. But, even better, she comes from nothing, a soot-covered mining town filled with oppression. She rises to the call to be free of this hopeless tyranny, and like a phoenix (or perhaps more like a  mockingjay-- add geekiness), she rises from the ashes.  People like this inspire. Coming from nothing and rising up against all odds... is this not who our heroes are? My favorite fairy tales embrace this concept, this nothing-to-something remarkable kind of metamorphosis. And I want too, to be the big dreamer that sees her plan work out. I want to be “Girl on Fire,” “with her head in the clouds…. and her feet on the ground.” (Thank you, Alicia Keys.) Mainly, I’m saying the idea of becoming more and rising-up resonates with me, and I don’t think I speak so boldly when I say it probably resonates with most of humanity.

But I’m kind of being wrapped up in another story, an ancient story, right about now, at Christmas time. Not about rising up, but about the hero of heroes coming down. And my imagination totally fails me to this day, when I think about Emmanuel... God with us. THE CREATOR OF ALL comes down as a baby boy, growing in his mother’s womb, and enters the world the same way most of us did (only most of us not in a barn).

Will you allow your mind to take a seat with me here for a moment? The Creator of all. Pause. See, when I slow down my limited brain and close my eyes and think about what that means, I am still at a loss. I can’t imagine God. Have you ever tried? Sometimes I think of the smallest details of the world and go out from there to the Milky Way, and think about how He created all of it, just to get a grasp of what He is like, but my imagination fails again. He’s too high for me. And He came as an infant? There are no metaphors that give this any justice.

But that’s just it. We can’t get God. We couldn’t behold Him or make our way to Him. That’s why He came down. I can never understand the hugeness, the otherness, the holiness of God. But there is a way (rather The Way) to know Him, to finally behold Him.  This is why Jesus says, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” Jesus is The Way.

Come, let us adore Him. Behold Him, the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. What a wonderful Savior. What a wonderful King. The Creator, He came down to His creation.

Accidental Pharisee

That's me. Well, a pharisee is what I've been acting like for quite some time now. No sooner than me throwing in the towel, quitting my performance of Christianity, did this reality hit me. One day, visibly frustrated, my friend expressed her displeasure with our constant debates. Of course I defended myself, but I realized in doing so I was only digging a deeper hole. So, for a moment, I stopped thinking of how unfair her sentiments seemed to be, and considered the worst. What if I am prideful? What if I do always think I'm right, so my opinions are really facts I believe other people just haven't been exposed to yet? What if I've come up with my own rules of what holiness looks like? What if I really do look at people who don't have my "convictions" as less righteous than me? What if what I've thought was a pure desire to be holy and honor God has really been a drive to gain righteousness, because I didn't believe righteousness could truly be given to me without my works earning it for me? What if my view of God has been pretty low, especially in the unconditional love department? What if...I'm a pharisee?

As I began thinking through the implications of that discovery and shared it with a wise young woman at our church, who's helping me not go completely crazy lately, she directed me to Galatians 3: 2-3

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh?

She basically used Scripture to call me a fool! (Yes, I caught that.) But first, I had to answer the initial question. Had my works or faith earned me the Spirit of God, which is evidence of my salvation? Well, of course I'd say I didn't earn salvation. I can't. But, would I say faith granted me salvation? I was suppose to say, "Yes!" Or "Duuuh." But since I'm on a no-pretending fast, I couldn't answer that confidently. Instead, I asked a question that opened up a world of discovery. "Well, I know believing in Jesus is my only hope for salvation, but what about all the commandments? God gave those for a reason, right?" To which my friend replied, "Well, what about before the commandments were given? How were Abram, Noah, Enoch and Job righteous in the eyes of God?" (Come on Caresse, you oughta know this, I thought. I realized in that moment how often I much rather appear knowledgeable than admit I'm not sure or don't understand something if it seems like I should understand it.) "Uhh...God must have given them a special pass as the children of Isr-wait...no...that's wrong because you're saying before Abram had offspring and before Moses was given the commandments. Well...I don't know," I reluctantly mumbled.

Oh the inadequacy to disciple others and be in a position to share Him over the past years I instantly felt. Yet, simultaneously, three words had freed me. I...don't....know. See, when you're performing, you gotta know everything. When you read or hear something, you have to instantly affirm belief in it. The show must go on. When you're pretending, you gotta fake it 'til you make it. But with God, as long as we pretend, we won't make it. He'll never actually know us. So, I admitted that I didn't know the answer.

 Genesis to Galatians and the love in between

Genesis 15:6 -"And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness," she read aloud.

Wait...what? What exactly did Abram believe to be counted as righteous? The previous verses in chapter 15 tell of a covenant God made with Abram to bless him and his offspring. And guess what? What Abram believed was what God said. He believed in God's promise, which stamped his righteousness. And here's what I'd somehow missed the weight of—it was an unconditional covenant. The blessing (which turns out to be ultimately fulfilled in salvation through Christ centuries later) was given to Abram by faith. He had no rules to keep in order to impress God; all He had was God's promise to believe, and that's what he did.

"Well then, why were all those commandments given?" I wondered.

"To govern, but it wasn't about looking at 600+ commandments and trying to figure out how to keep each one in order to be righteous. They were commandments to govern them. What they were and you are supposed to focus on is what God said to the Israelites before He gave the ten commandments," my friend responded.

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." -Exodus 20:2

"Focus on God being your God," she followed. Realize He has graciously, of no merit of my own, brought me from being a stranger to Him and a slave to sin and now calls me His own. Out of that recognition, let Him therefore be Lord over my life.

"Ok. But knowing just how perfect God is, by virtue of all the commandments, makes you feel like you have to obey a bunch of rules," I replied.

"And then you start adding rules on top of those rules to keep you from breaking the original ones," she joked.

"Exactly!" I confessed. "Because I read about Jesus, and He makes it even harder. I realize that I'm still a sinner even if I don't fornicate, because I lust in my heart. So, then, I have to come up with rules to keep me from lusting. And then, of course, I put those rules on other people," I admitted. "But wait- Jesus came to fulfill the law. As in, He came to live out all 600+ to perfection and within His heart remain completely pure as well. So, He was basically telling the Pharisees to keep calm and sit down, because they weren't as righteous as they presumed. He was exposing their hearts. He is exposing my heart. Not for me to go get a heart monitor that I constantly check, but to show me it's impossible to please God...without faith. Oh shoot."

"23Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slaveg nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise." Galatians 3:23-29

Oh. my. world.

So, I don't have to work for my righteousness? I don't have to think through every possible thing that could be sinful about everything and think through for other people too? Seems too easy, if God is as holy as His commandments make Him out to be.

And that's when it clicked.

Yes, God is holy, and His standard is perfection. We ought to tremble at His holiness and flee from sin. But why? Why should we look at the teachings of Jesus and the apostles and pray for the Spirit to empower us to reflect Christ? Why should we keep the commandments in our hearts and minds? For one, to have an accurate picture of God. And secondly, to have an accurate picture of ourselves. The law reveals a need for Jesus. Its goal was to govern an otherwise ungovernable people, but also to make them see just how jacked up they are and how holy God is. But not for us to wallow in our helplessness, and not for us (especially me) to overestimate my righteousness. It was to stir within us—within the children of Israel even—a hope, a craving, for a Savior. As Ray comfort wrote, "Nothing reveals calvary like Mount Sanai." And the Good News for us is that we got that Savior. We have the blessing Abraham believed God for.

But what did we really do to get it? That's what I don't get.

Simple. In case you missed it like I have been, or thought you already had it, or my words were not clear because I tend to ramble, this blog is "for all of us who have a hard time getting it through our brains that all we did was nothing, BUT the love still came," as the song says.

All you and I actually did, as in earned, was NOTHING.

Thank God for giving us faith to believe and receive unearned promise.

Sometimes, we don't have to understand.

"Life becomes utterly free and daring when [you realize] the strongest being is for you."

Just accept His crazy love.

Restless Leg Syndrome

In Matthew 12, Jesus said something that has always mystified me. After healing a whole bunch of people he “ordered them not to make him known.” (12:13) This wasn’t the first time he told people to keep his ministry on the down-low, and every time I read this particular instruction (which almost no one ever obeyed, by the way) I wonder why on earth Jesus gave it. But in this instance, Matthew explained:

“This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah.” (Verse 17)

Jesus, it seems, was God’s chosen method in his mission to “proclaim justice to the Gentiles” (Verse 18). What’s implied is that if the mission advanced too quickly, it would jeopardize his intent of getting the gospel to the outsiders, the Gentiles. And so, in order to keep from upsetting the Jewish leaders and thus getting to the crucifixion too early, Jesus proclaimed justice stealthily… for now.

What I get from all of this is not necessarily Jesus’ patience; it’s the singularity of his intention. Jesus’ intent is to get the gospel from where it is to where it isn’t. He is restless until it happens. It’s as if the gospel itself—by its very nature—is restless. The gospel has restless leg syndrome.

And so I have to ask myself: Do I have restless leg syndrome? Am I restless until the gospel gets out? Does the gospel animate my life outward? Am I anxious to tell others about the most important and life-giving and life-changing encounter that has ever happened to me? Do I share in Jesus' intent to get the gospel from where it is to where it isn't?

Not enough. I'm finally admitting to myself that my calendar is a good gauge of my intentionality. If I must do a thing, or if I don't want forget to do a thing, I write it on my calendar.  I have several people with whom I desire to share the gospel, but their names are not on my calendar. Hmmm. Maybe I don't really intend to share the gospel with them at all.  Maybe I'm not serious about sharing the gospel until I block off a chunk of time with their name on it and call or email (or message or tweet) and invite them to get together. Everything else is pure chance.

Lord, give me restless legs for the gospel.  Grant me the privilege of taking the gospel from where it is to where, for now, it is not.

So High

The holiday season: that hate it or love it time of the year. You think about all there is to gain or you remember what you've lost.

I went into this Christmas excited as always. Getting to see whether my family's Secret Santa gifts would wind up in the closet or the returned items bin at Macy's or Marshalls is always fun, but being reminded of the miracle that found its way to a manger in Bethlehem is honestly what I love about that time of year.  Quite frankly, the whole thing still amazes me. Eternity stepping into time to save the undeserving? Yeah, I am compelled to celebrate—whether presents fill the living room or not. But then, there's family. The presence or lack of family members around can seemingly make or break one's holiday season.

I didn't realize that until this Christmas.

My family spent Christmas morning reflecting on the birth of Jesus, then laughing (most often at my mom who decided to wrap gifts from and to herself and actually place them under the tree) as we exchanged gifts; but by nightfall, the laughter had turned into prayers for a miracle to take place in my uncle's hospital bed. He'd been taken to the emergency room that morning and was now never expected to walk, talk, or comprehend again. That is, if he made it through the night.

Woah.

Another kind of amazement found its way into my mind and heart.

How is it that someone can be full of joy one night, and breathing their last breaths the next?

Why so sudden?

And God, why on Christmas?

Questions seem fair when the unexpected arrives as God doesn't seem so loving when a loved-one dies.

But what if I told you that the man who was lying in that hospital bed was in a prison cell just months ago? And he'd spent almost a quarter of a century there. While that makes his new life in the real world seem all too short, him being in that hospital bed surrounded by family meant that not only had he gotten to live beyond prison walls and enjoy time with his wife, but he was free to die at this point. Freed from dying as an inmate. But even more, he'd already been freed from dying as an enemy of God. While he entered the system guilty before his maker and his criminal record was certainly stained upon his release, while bound in prison, he'd testified to having a clean slate before the Lord. His death would mean a trip home.

Eternally.

So, what if that's the story?

Well then, all the questions prior seem quite silly. Natural for us and even accepted by God, but silly because we can't handle the myriad of scenarios that could begin to answer our questions.

Yet, our perplexity and confusion over life and death persist. While we may know, we don't understand. I know that God has the whole word in His hands, but I don't understand how exactly. He gives and takes away, all while being holy and loving. A duality I can't fully comprehend.

But as I looked out an airplane window on New Year's Eve at the clouds and all the Earth below, I was reminded of a simple truth:

God is not asking to be understood, just trusted.

I can't even explain how an airplane is able to remain above ground, so what makes me think I could understand the doings of the God who simply spoke that ground into existence?

 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)

A popular verse, yet unpopular belief. God's height is not an invitation for us to attempt a climb. Instead, it offers a humble position for us to accept. And not only can that acceptance save us some sleepless nights and extended headaches, but our holidays and new years can still be filled with joy. While not everyone has a happy ending to their story or exit from this life, most have had the opportunity to live and breathe and thereby experience God's grace. And those of us still able to do so get to fight this good fight of faith and enjoy more of God in our mortal bodies while looking forward to one day having all new ones in a place where there is no more pain, crying, questioning or confusion.

That very day we get to spend Christmas and New Year's absent from our fragile bodies, but present with the Lord.

Wow.

Amazing.

Becoming Strong by Following

Life offers us, if we’ll let it, many opportunities to become expert followers. . . Just so you know, I wrote this several years ago. It is not in response to any of the current leaders in my life, either at home, at church or in our government.

Psalm 77:19

“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.”

The context of these verses is the incredible story of God’s leadership of his people out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and into the Promised Land. As I began to picture the men and women of Israel standing on the banks of the Red Sea – roiling waters before them, raging enemy closing in behind them – I could only imagine that they were anxious and afraid, but also that they were angry with Moses for leading them to what was surely imminent death. Knowing my own nature and the tendency of most of us when we aren’t in charge but want to be, I can picture that the Israelites were disgruntled with Moses for what appeared to be botched leadership. And because they were effectively trapped between two dangers, unable to fix or change the situation themselves, they grumbled and complained. What else could they do?

Sometimes, like the Israelites, I cannot see God’s footprints at all. The only feet I see, other than my own, are the dirty, smelly, ugly feet of the regular human being in charge. It may be my husband’s feet, or an employer’s, a pastor’s or leader’s, or even the imagined feet of “them,” the government, the college, the system. These are the people who make decisions that I would certainly have made differently had I been in charge, the path I would have taken had my dirty, stinky, filthy feet led the way. I’m not bitter, but I do suspect I have issues with authority, especially when all I can see are the feet that seem to be misleading me up ahead. And I can’t see God’s footprints until much later when there is dancing on the far banks of the sea.

Here’s what I typically do in these situations: I look at the feet of the person in charge, and I notice how unclean and corrupt they are. Then, maybe, I’ll look at my own restless feet, feet that are tapping out a waiting-room fidget. Both perspectives frustrate the heck out of me and don’t really help matters.

But . . . hopefully . . . finally I look at Jesus’ feet.

And here’s where it gets interesting. Jesus was led by our dirty feet to a death on a cross that scarred his feet forever. He chose to experience a life and death that pressed on him inexorably and he complained only once that I can see, in the Garden of Gethsemane when he asked to be relieved of his duties if there was any way around the tragically passive stance he was about to take towards his own life. These are the feet I cannot always see, but I know are always there. These are the feet that are spotless and clean and perfect. These are the feet worth following, even if it means swallowing my pride and following the human feet of someone whose feet are as unworthy as mine to lead.

As the World Turns

Back in April, I joined others from Blueprint on my first mission trip.  Simply put, it ravished me. But, since I’ve returned, everything around me seems to keep changing.  Less than a month after being in a different country, I headed off to a different state where I’d spend two months serving at Kids Across America (that deserves a blog post all its own).  I said goodbye to friends, family, community and my city for the summer.  I said hello to 8-10 new kampers every week in the cabin I lead with my co-counselors.  Then, after five weeks, I said “see you later” to those two co-counselors and “hello” to a new partner in a different cabin with different girls.  I then returned home to begrudgingly say sayonara to my best friend whose teaching abroad for the next 10 months.  I started a new job last week, and did I mention I’m moving in about three weeks? Please, tell me your head is spinning too!

Robert Frost put it this way—“In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” Indeed it does.  But what do we do when things are changing so rapidly around us?  Do we just jump right into whatever is in front of us now?  Do we hold on to what’s behind us? Or do we sit in our car in the church parking lot hoping that somehow our head and heart will just catch up with our eyes? (Oh, you’ve never done that?)

I think the problem comes in thinking those last three questions are the starting point.

If everything around us is changing, it is first wise for us to consider what—if anything—isn’t changing. Well, according to Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” He is immutable!  Alright, but how does that help me if things around us are changing?  It gives us an anchor.  A rock. A refuge.  We don’t just jump into anything, we don’t pretend like life doesn’t have to go on, and we definitely don’t let emotions and overwhelming thoughts keep us from progressing.  We run to the God of the past, present and future—the Rock of Ages.  He will provide the comfort, guidance, strength and courage we need to not be shaken by the world around us.

“The cross stands firm as the world turns.”

*Psalm 62 is a great place to hangout.

 

"That should have been me on that cross!"

[blockquote] This week features posts from Angie Lewis.  She is the wife of our lead pastor, Dhati, and proud mother of six. Angie's unique voice and perspective promises to encourage and strengthen those who read. We hope you enjoy and are blessed.[/blockquote] KAA is one of our favorite summer activities.  Kids Across America is a Christian sports camp in the woods of Missouri.  It is great for us because it allows us to unplug, focus on our family, share our lives with the 16-18 year old campers and the counselors that come...and we get to do it as a family!  The kids LOVE it.  It is endless chats and yelling and high energy.   One of the nights is called CrossTalk, in which the counselors reenact the crucifixion.  A man plays the role of Jesus--he is beaten, mocked, spit on and hung on the cross to die.  It is dramatic and always well done—painting the picture of what Christ did in dying for His people.  We always consider which children to take to this part of the schedule.  This year, Trinity got to go to camp as a camper in one of the younger groups.  So, Jade and Briaiah were my only girls.  Dhati and I thought about who was mature enough and ready to see CrossTalk.  We decided I would take Jade and Briaiah, but that he would stay behind with the boys.  Jade is 8 and Briaiah is 6.  The boys: 5,4, and 3.  So, Jade and Briaiah and I all walked down to the lake to watch CrossTalk.

The skit began with modern-day typical struggles of young people being portrayed and pointing the audience to their need for Christ.  It ended with Jesus being mocked, drug, beat and then hung on a cross.  The mood was somber, quiet.  The skit went really well and the leaders dismissed us to go and reflect.  The girls and I began walking back, and I asked, "What were your thoughts about the skit?"  I didn't expect too much in response.  I assumed I would hear something about how well the actors did.  Briaiah blew me away though.  She grabbed my hand and stopped me in mid stride.

"Mom, it breaks my heart that Jesus had to die like that."

I stopped.

Me: Mine too.

Briaiah: "That should have been me on that cross!"

Me: "What do you mean Briaiah?"  I knew God was working on her little heart.

Briaiah: "I am not perfect, and I have to be to go to heaven.  Because I am not perfect, I was supposed to die.  Instead, Jesus died for me.  That should have been me."

Me: "That is so true Briaiah.  I am proud that you understand that."

I then walked through the gospel--you are a sinner...true, because of that you have to die, you will be judged, and you will be judged against a perfect standard. BUT Christ paid that debt for you.  He died so you didn't have to.  That is a gift—it's free.  You cannot earn it, work for it and you will never deserve it.  The only thing you can do is believe that Jesus defeated death (he got off the cross and came back to life defeating the one thing that scares all of us) and confess with your mouth that He is Lord--meaning He is your master, your boss, the one you listen to, the one who guides your decisions, the one you try to be like.  You can ask Him in your heart and ask for a relationship with Him.

Briaiah: "Ok, I want to do that."

Me: Let's go home and talk with Daddy.  (Dhati and I are both weary about having people pray a prayer in the moment. We don't want to give them assurance of salvation, if it is not real.)

When we got home, Dhati talked with Bri some more and in the end we told her that we would like her to think about it, sleep on it, and we would talk more the next day.  The next morning we got up and headed off to breakfast.  Afterward, I asked Briaiah, "Did you put any more thought into what we talked about last night?"

Briaiah: "Yep." She just smiled.

Me: "Ok, what did you think?"

Briaiah: "Jesus is in my heart.  I have a relationship with Him now.  I couldn't wait til the morning, so I went ahead and asked Him last night."

There is something about watching your child--one you brought into the world, one that has the ability to trust or deny her creator--choose to trust the one that created her.  It is one of the best feelings in the world!