Something I go back to often is my own daily need to “swim in the gospel.” The idea (not original with me) is simple: much like there are depths of the ocean that are impossible to fully plumb, so are the depths of God’s love, acceptance, and plan for us in Christ impossible to fully grasp.

As much as we think we may comprehend God’s free gift of grace, we could never find the bottom. God’s love toward us in Christ is deeper than the Mariana Trench, higher than Mt. Everest and more endless than the sands of every seashore.

Knowing this, Paul prayed fervently that believers in Ephesus “may have the strength to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth,” of “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” In this robust prayer, Paul makes it clear that the very strength that brings the all-surpassing love of God home in our hearts are the truths of the gospel (Ephesians 3:14-21).

As Tim Keller puts it, the gospel is not merely the ABC’s of the Christian life, it is the A-Z of the Christian life. It is not just how we start, it’s also how we continue. The same gospel that saves us is the same gospel that changes us. Much like a fish was created to swim freely in water, you and I were created to swim freely in the grace and acceptance of God provided us in the gospel. However, because of our brokenness, we are quick to jump out of the pool.

A great way to keep swimming, and certainly go deeper, is by praying what JD Greear refers to as “the gospel prayer.”[1] The aim of the prayer is to saturate our heart and mind in the paradigms of the gospel by rehearsing its truths each day

Before I give you the gospel prayer, allow me to share how God has used it in my own life. At the beginning of this past week, I set a lunch-time reminder to pause what I’m doing for five minutes and say the gospel prayer out loud each day. In doing so, I seek to bring the four gospel-aspects of the prayer to bear on my emotions and circumstances. I actually paused writing this so I could.

Through that time, the Lord moved me…

… to confess and repent of sinful moments when I’ve attempted to earn, replace and supplement His approval with lesser loves.

… to invite blessing over people who have inured me.

… to pray boldly for salvation and restored marriages.

… to be still and let go of the pressure to be everywhere for all, know it all, and fix it all.

… to sing the promises of God out loud (at ease, no one else was around).

Ultimately, the prayer has increased my ability to “swim in the gospel.”

I believe it can increase yours as well.

So, here it is, in four parts…

In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.

Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.

As You have been to me, so I will be to others.

As I pray, I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.

 

[1] The gospel prayer is actually the outline for Greear’s tremendously helpful book, “Gospel.” You can get it here: https://www.amazon.com/Gospel-Recovering-Power-Christianity-Revolutionary

 

Posted
AuthorJeremy Woods

Can’t believe I’m saying this, but... 3 months!

That's how long it's been since we welcomed our beautiful baby Eleanor into our lives on November 8, 2017.

Seems like yesterday we were holding hands, walking on the beach, talking about having kids (2.5  years ago).

Seems like yesterday we found out we were pregnant (11 months ago).

Seems like yesterday we just brought her home (3 months ago).

And here we are, watching the newborn stage slip through our fingers like sand through an hour glass. It's been a privilege. It's been a joy. We wouldn't trade it for anything.

Overall, here are some *rookie* reflections on life and parenting these first 3 months:

Victoria: Victoria = Mom Goals. Victoria = Wife goals. Just simple math. The way she loves, serves, and nurtures Eleanor (and me) is without rival. I can't thank God enough for my bride of 6 years.

Eleanor: Struggles with FOMO. Looks a little bit like me. Has already made a friend her age. Her smile lights up a room. Her laugh is our favorite sound. Her aftermath sneezes are ridiculously cute (yes, cute). She loves morning cuddles with her Momma (actually, she loves anytime cuddles with Momma). We watch a lot of ESPN / College basketball together. All biases aside, she's a ridiculously cute (sorry, I said it again) baby. if "The Bump" finds out about her, she'll go viral.

Me: I've remixed a few songs since becoming a Dad. For example, "You Are So Beautiful" ... "Can't get enough of Your Love" ... and "You Are My Sunshine." I've also written a few originals. But, don't worry about those. One of my absolute favorite things is reading to her before bedtime (which is 8:30). So far, we're enjoying the Jesus-Storybook Bible & Cat In The Hat. I've also taken some really goofy selfies of her and I. She'll roll her eyes one day, but I don't mind. 

Sleep: The good part is, Eleanor has slept through the night a few times. Hard part is, it was only a few times. For now, sleep as a moving target. Sometimes it slows down, sometimes it speeds up. We've yet to find the bulls-eye (assuming that's a full, uninterrupted 8 hours). We'll take what we can get (And yes, I've been getting more than Victoria). 

Diapers: I come home to stories of Victoria changing them. I actually enjoy changing them. Eleanor laughs at me while I change them. Its a riot. 

Babysitting: We're pitiful, guys. The few times she's not been with us (which we could count on one hand), we've pulled out our phones, looked at pictures and laughed at videos of when she was. Call it love. Call it crazy. We'll probably keep doing it.

Words: Can’t believe what I hear myself saying sometimes. A few real-time examples… 

“Where is Wubbanub?”

“It’s 7:45pm. Time to go home.”

“Whose ready for tummy time???”

(*think high pitched, a little too excited, proud Dad voice*)

God: He hears our prayers. He still moves mountains. He has smiled on our home. Eleanor belongs to Him. We are His Ambassadors to her.

Money: Babies aren’t cheap. Emergency funds = good life decision.

Time: Until now, I never understood what parents meant when they said: "what did we even do with all that time before we had kids?" We are beginning to understand. Time flies, priorities change.

I'll end with gratitude. Thank you so much for each and every one of you who have supported Victoria and I in our new calling / adventure as parents. We are full of faith moving forward!

 

Posted
AuthorJeremy Woods

CAMPUS COOKOUT - THIS SUNDAY, MAY 7

Join us in the backlot following services for a Cookout, Lawn Games and lots of fun for the whole family!

MOMS @ WEST - FRIDAY, MAY 19 (6-8PM)

Heads up Mothers of newborn through Grade-School! Bring the kids and come join other Moms in West Asheville for an upbeat time of connection over dinner. Gathering will take place at the West Asheville Campus.

STARTING POINT - WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7 (6:15-8PM)

Interested in learning more about your Next Step at Biltmore? Then you're invited to join Pastor Bruce and the West Asheville Campus Team as they walk through our vision and values over a free catered dinner. Care for kids is provided. 

Register today at: biltmorechurch.com/startingpoint

VBS REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!

STUDENT SUMMER CAMP REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! (Receive $50 off if you register by, this Sunday, May 7)

Posted
AuthorJeremy Woods