Learning to Pray the Jesus Way (A blog series on The Lord’s Prayer) Part 5: A People Forgiven

As we move forward in this series on The Lord’s Prayer, we come to what may well be one of the most daunting topics of all–forgiveness.

9 Our Father in Heaven,

hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,

your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread,

12 and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors…

Forgiveness is a topic that lies at the very core of Christianity.  We believe that as sinful human beings we are unable to reconcile ourselves to a holy God.  But relentless in His pursuit of us, God sent us One who can reconcile us to Himself.

Ephesians 1:7 explains how Jesus secured sinful humanity’s forgiveness before a holy God.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…”

That verse makes a connection for us that we absolutely cannot miss.  It’s the only way that this forgiveness thing is ever going to work out right.  Go back and read the verse again, this time more slowly.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…”

Because of Jesus God extends us forgiveness according to grace.

As this verse from Ephesians so clearly proclaims, from a Biblical perspective forgiveness is always a matter of grace.

God’s forgiveness of us is inextricably linked to His lavish grace, and as Christians, our forgiveness of others must be inextricably linked to grace as well.

Grace is fundamental to the life of believers because our entire faith rests upon it completely.  Grace is where our journey with God begins, and as we travel this road with Him, it’s the home we keep coming back to.

Here are 3 Biblical truths about grace that will help us work our way through the importance of forgiveness:

1) We need grace.

2) God gives us grace.

3) Now we extend that grace to others.

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Learning to Pray the Jesus Way (A blog series on The Lord’s Prayer) Part 4: Our Daily Bread

This is the fourth installment of this Learning to Pray series. Be sure to check out Part 1 Part 2, and Part 3.

9 Our Father in Heaven,

hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,

your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread…

When I began writing a study on The Lord’s Prayer several years ago, I expected verse 11 to be one of the simplest verses of the entire prayer.  “Give us this day our daily bread” seemed pretty straightforward to me.  After the mammoth challenge of unpacking verses 9 and 10 on God’s name, kingdom, and will, I was hoping to coast for a bit.  I may have even muttered the words, “Oh, finally!  Thank you, Lord, for an easy week of Bible study!”

Little did I know that verse 11 would unveil some of the most difficult heart-work of the entire prayer.

As Jesus encourages us to ask God for the things we need, He also leads us to consider those needs.

What are we asking God to give us?

What is it that we really want more of?

In this verse, Jesus exposes our desires.  Ultimately, He begs us to consider all the things we want instead of (or maybe just in addition to) God.

At first glance of Matthew 6:11, it’s difficult to anticipate the richness laying below the surface of those 7 words.  (Needless to say, it was not such an easy week of Bible study.)

Here’s a quick peek of the profound truths embedded within those 7 words broken down one small phrase at a time…

Give Us:  God wants us to ask Him

This Day:  God wants us to trust Him

Our Daily Bread:  God wants us to desire Him.

Now that you’ve got a general idea of where this verse takes us, let’s go back and take it one phrase at a time…

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Learning to Pray the Jesus Way (A blog series on The Lord’s Prayer) Part 3: His Name, His Kingdom, His Will

Jesus was the kind of guy who got straight to the point.

When Martha came to Him complaining that her sister, Mary,  wasn’t putting in her fair share of work, He quickly redirected Martha’s priorities,

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:41-42

When the crowds of Capernaum closed in around Him, begging that He would stay and heal their physical maladies, He drew their attention to His greater work and their greater need,

“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”  Luke 4:33

When His disciples cried out to Him from the boat, fearful that the squall would take their lives, He sternly corrected them,

“Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”  Mark 4:40

Jesus never shied away from cutting through our insecurities, ignorance, or fear to get to the heart of the matter.  And nowhere is this as apparent as in His teaching of The Lord’s Prayer.

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Learning to Pray the Jesus Way (A blog series on The Lord’s Prayer) Part 2: A Father in Heaven

In Part 1 we established a fundamental truth about prayer that will place the rest of this series in its proper context.

The truth about prayer is this:

God gave us prayer in response to our very great need for it.

It is something He did for us, not something we do for Him.

Yes, the God of heaven and earth, who made and designed everything–who knows how everything fits together and works-  tells us to pray.  But not because He is lacking something we can somehow provide Him through prayer.

He tells us to pray because He designed us to work this way–to function and thrive in relationship with the God who created us.

We need prayer not because it’s the means through which we get more things from God.

We need prayer because it is a means through which we get more of God.

And through prayer, because of the great work Christ accomplished on our behalf, we have full access to Him.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Hebrews 10:19-22

Through prayer, we get to draw near to God.  This is no small thing.

What’s more is that within the Lord’s Prayer Jesus reveals exactly how we are to approach God when we pray.  And the one detail that should rock your world even more than being given full access to God is that Jesus says when we do so, we should approach Him first as our Father.

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Learning to Pray the Jesus Way (A blog series on The Lord’s Prayer) Part 1: A Disciple’s Request

Several years ago I wrote a 6 week study on The Lord’s Prayer.

I wish I could say that it was divinely inspired.  That I felt a particular calling to write this particular study at that particular time to the specific group of women I taught that spring.  The truth however, is that I was more inspired by the practical demands of the situation than the Holy Spirit of the Lord who ordained the whole thing anyway (unhindered as He was by the last minute coming together of details that had me on the edge of my seat.)

There are times when the Lord works in the least convenient way possible, demanding that we drop everything and make a complete about-face to follow Him in a particular situation.  Fortunately for me,  He can also be quite sympathetic to the many practicalities of our everyday lives and graciously meet us even when we’re flying by the seat of our pants.

I’m grateful for His ability to weasel His way into even our least inspired choices, because the truth is I chose to write the study on The Lord’s Prayer not because I was particularly interested in it, (sounds horrible, I know) but because it was…short.

And I was in a time crunch…


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Merry Christmas!

I’m truly grateful for you all who read and follow Early Morning Mama.  Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year from me, Chris, and our boys!


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5 Principles That Will Revolutionize the Way you Read the Bible

Bible literacy is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart (which you may have already picked up on if you hang around here a bit).

I talk a whole lot about what Bible literacy is, why it’s so important, and how we can get there in my book, His Word Alone:  A call to put down your Bible studies and pick up your Bible.  If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, pick one up!  And once you do, let me know what you think. I would honestly love to hear from you!

It is my fervent desire that all Christians would come to know and love God’s Word.  The reason I am so passionate about the serious, intentional, and individual study of the Bible by Christians is because His Word is the very means through which the Lord has claimed my heart and transformed my life.

His Word has met me right where I was at the time, no matter where or when.  His Word has relentlessly pursued me through the hard work of marriage, the endless delights and difficulties of raising small children, every insecurity and uncertainty a thirty-something-stay-at-home-mom could muster, and all the other ups, downs, ins, and outs of everyday life.  There is no pain to which God’s Word does not speak, no joy that it does not birth.

And perhaps the most beautiful thing of all these is this:  When we commit ourselves to the reading and studying of His Word, God Himself meets us there.  I know this to be true.

But I also understand that setting out to study the Bible on your own can be intimidating.

So, I’m here to help.

In my last post, I gave some tips on how to begin reading and understanding the Bible, including 5 questions you can use to guide yourself through any book, chapter, or segment of Scripture.  In today’s post, I’m going to tell you 5 things I wish I had known about the Bible before I even began studying it.  These 5 principles will change the way you approach Bible study by widening your viewpoint of God’s Word and correctly orienting you to it.  So let’s get to it. Click on the image below the read the rest of the post!



My Must Read Books for the Christmas Season

It’s here! It’s finally, actually, truly here. The most wonderful time of the year. Yes, friends, December, with all its festivities, is upon us. The decorations, the lights, the parties, the songs, the gifts, the candle light services. All the wonderful happenings of Christmas start NOW.

I have loved this season down to the very tips of my toes for as long as I can remember. Even before I became a Christian in my twenties I carried a deep affection for this time of year. I remember how, as a young girl, I would just sit and endlessly stare at the lit tree my mother decorated each year. Although I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at the time, there seemed to be something truly magical about the season of Christmas.
Now that I know and love the One of whom this holiday speaks, this long-held affection for the Christmas season goes far beyond the sentimentality and nostalgia I once knew, and points my soul to the most significant truths of my life. That in His very great love for us, God came down and made Himself known to us. Yes, the very One to whom all creation bows wrapped Himself in flesh and bone in pursuit of fallen humanity. In this way, Christmas serves as the apex of the greatest love story this world will ever know.
So how much more so should I love this season now that all the trappings of Christmas carry a weight and significance that I couldn’t even have fathomed before I came to know Christ? And while I know just how beautiful all these truths are, I must make a Christmastime confession: Even knowing all this, my mind (and heart) still wanders during this time of year. And because of all the EVERYTHING to do, it might well be that my attention wanders away from Christ even more than usual during the month of December. Which is exactly the opposite of what I want to happen during this sacred time of year.
So because I know this happens, because I know too well my propensity to allow the busy-ness of the season to overshadow the true “reason for the season,” I have begun setting things in place to help me focus in on Christ during this time of year. And because I love to read, it’s no surprise that books play a major role in this intentional focusing in on Christ during the Christmas season.
Click on the image below to hop on over to RockThis.org where I’ve compiled a list of some of my (and my kids’) favorite reads for the Christmas season.

How to Start Reading and Understanding the Bible {with 5 questions to help get you going}

For many years after becoming a Christian the greatest struggle I faced in my Christian walk was reading the Bible consistently. I knew I needed to read the Bible on my own. After all, the Bible served as the foundation for the very faith I now confessed. It made sense that I should acquaint myself with what it said.

And believe me, I tried to read it.  (And failed.)

And I tried some more.  (And failed again.)

It seemed to me that no matter how much I read the Bible, I simply couldn’t understand it. Now I’m a tried-and-true, bonafide, genuine, real-deal, type-A perfectionist.  There’s nothing I hate more than failing. So after several go-rounds of this trying and failing, of all this reading yet not understanding, I simply became disheartened. I threw up my hands and threw in the Bible-reading towel.

So there I was: a Christian who didn’t (couldn’t? wouldn’t?) read the Bible.

While I had no clue how I was supposed to read, study, and understand the Bible, at the same time, I was becoming increasingly aware of just how necessary Bible literacy was for a Christ-following Christian. This discrepancy sparked within me a crisis of conscious.  It caused me to seriously consider the authenticity of my beliefs.  Could I still confess to being a Christian while shirking my responsibility to dig into the Bible and read?  Click HERE to continue reading…




In other news, a few weeks ago we created a Facebook page for RockThis.org!  The Rock This Revival Facebook page exists to provide a source of community as you begin thriving in the mundane of life. If you’re excited about growing in your faith, improving your health, are craving a place of support to share your triumphs and sorrows, get more organized, follow God-sized dreams, and make authentic friendships then you will love the group! We’d LOVE for you to join us! Click here and you’ll find a box at the bottom of the page that says “Join the Facebook page”. Enter your email and a link for the page will be sent for you to join. Once you’re in, let us know you’re there so we can give you a big welcome!

Book Release! And a Conference!

So, this has happened…


And I really couldn’t be any happier about it.  I love this book.  Yes, I know I wrote it and so that makes me maybe just a wee bit biased, but hear me out.  This book addresses an issue that I know many of you struggle with.  I know this because I have talked with many of you about it.  I know this because it is an issue I struggled so mightily with myself.  For years I studied books written about the Bible instead of studying the actual Bible.  For years I listened and read and thought about what others said about the God of the Bible instead of entering into the Bible to meet Him there myself.  For years I used Bible studies as my only Bible study instead of venturing into the pages of Scripture myself.  And when it finally occurred to me that I was studying around the Bible but not really studying the Bible, I decided it was time to put down my Bible studies and pick up my Bible.  That endeavor has not disappointed.  The Bible is the very means through which God has claimed my heart and transformed my life and that is why I am so passionate about women learning to navigate the pages of Scripture for themselves.   My heartfelt prayer is that the Lord would use this book to bring anyone who has struggled to know Him in and through His Word to met Him there.

Pick up a copy for yourself HERE!  And if you do, drop me a line and tell me what you think.    Seriously, I want to hear from you.  I’m no big time blogger and I still recognize most of the names/email addresses that subscribe to this blog.  I truly and honestly want to know what you think!  Tell me!  And because I’m no big time blogger, I need your help in spreading the word.  Share the book, the link, this blog with those who might be interested!

And as if that wasn’t enough excitement for one post, there’s this…


That’s right, I’ll be teaching a couple of sessions alongside a few other AMAZING teachers and speakers in Nashville at the end of the month.  If you’re in the area, I’d love for you to come out.  You can buy tickets HERE.  If you’re not in the area, we’ll be live streaming so you can get to us that way as well.  Find more info on that HERE.  We’ve done absolutely everything possible to make this available to you, so join us!

Ok, I think that may be about all the HERE’s you can handle for one night so I’ll sign off for now.

I’m grateful for you ladies!

In His Name,