RECAP: The Burning Bush of the New Testament

This week we recap Romans with seven highlights from across our sixteen-week series. See you August 14 for the launch of Acts Season 1 (chapters 1–14).


Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body as a holy and living sacrifice to you. 

Jesus, We belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Romans 1:16–17 (NIV)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”


Today’s text is nothing short of a burning bush—on fire and consuming but not consumed. It has burned with brilliance from the day it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and written on parchment.

Billions have warmed to its fire and been found in its light. If Romans can be summarized (which it can’t) this is it. 

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I am a poet. I just decided one day many years hence.1 I wrote the poem below back around Easter after meeting up with an old friend. While I know my verse will not do the text justice, I am certain my normal commentary is wholly inadequate. I call it . . . 

The Hard and Beautiful Truth

“I don’t want you to think I’m not a good person.”
That’s what my old friend said to me
upon meeting again after decades apart
and a long confession of her broken story.

I assured her with The Hard and Beautiful Truth:

“You are not a good person.
I’m not either.
We are broken sinners.” 

Something deep in me (and maybe you too)
wants to believe we are good (or worse that we are bad)—
that we just need to lose twenty pounds,
drop a few bad habits, and try harder to be better.

Then I assure myself with The Hard and Beautiful Truth:

Good people and bad people is a lie
from the pit of hell,
and the way from good to great (or bad to worse)
paves the way there.

Jesus only goes from
Death to Life
Lost to Found
Slave to Free
Broken to Beautiful

Then she asked me, “If you are not good, what are you?”

“LOVED,” I said. 
“I am loved,
and you are too.” 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”


Jesus, we belong to you. Yes, Jesus, I belong to you. And you belong to me. I am so weary of trying to fake goodness and appear better than I am. Who am I fooling besides myself? Wake me up to the beautiful truth that nothing bad I have done renders me worthless and nothing good I have done renders me worthy. Jesus, while I was a sinner you died for me. You love me. I just want to keep saying it. You love me. You love me. You love me. Until the sad tears become happy tears and all is well with my soul. So I say I love you and I love you and I love you. Praying in your name, Jesus, amen. 


How about you? Tired of the good person, bad person calculus of hell? Ready for the gospel? Jesus is. 


I am thinking of an old simple song I remember, “Oh How He Loves You and Me.” You will pick it up quickly if you don’t know it. We will sing it through a few times.

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt


  1. I mostly publish and collect my poems on Instagram (@jdwalt) and Facebook if you care to see them. You won’t see “my best life now” there because that mostly doesn’t exist. 

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

5 Responses

  1. How do I respond to today’s Wake-up call question? I repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

  2. Are we barking up the wrong tree (or bush)?

    Depending on the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rejects the humility that can receive direct supernatural revelation of God’s love, mercy, and grace and replaces it with the pride of human evaluation and self-protection.

    The book of Revelation reveals three weapons for overcoming the enemy’s attempts to keep us eating from the wrong tree and entrapped by guilt and sin. The three spiritual weapons that will build us together in Christ on the rock of direct, personal revelation from the living God are:

    1) Continually relying on Christ’s blood alone for forgiveness and freedom from guilt and sin.
    2) Telling people how Christ has forgiven us and is freeing us from guilt and sin by His blood.
    3) Abandoning self-protection and fear when we are faced with feelings of rejection, humiliation, persecution, and even of being threatened by death.

    “They overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus the Christ, the Creator made flesh and dwelling among us) and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” –Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) (I woke up this morning with these 3 revelations running through my spirit before I came to today’s Wake-Up Call.)

    1. Nice catch. I never saw it that way. In my life it seems to even be a circular progression.

      1) I’ve spent many years learning to rely on Christ alone. Now, “seek first His kingdom …” has become my motto.

      2) Instead of feeling guilty about not witnessing, I’m developing an excitement about what the Holy Spirit is going to do.

      3) I can see how that will expose me to rejection, giving me more practice in depending on God for my self-worth.

      1) It will strengthen my ability to rely on Christ alone.

      This is good stuff!

  3. God became humbly proud of His creations. After creating the essence of life on days one and two (earth, the physical realm), goodness reigned at the end of days three to five, as God admired his creations at the day’s end, and saw they were good. After God created man on the sixth day, God saw His creation as very good indeed (CSB). The creations in days one to five were explicitly for substaning life and for the rule and enjoyment of Adam. Adam was good, for sin had yet to make an appearance. Then comes chapter Genesis 3.
    So, at the beginning, Adam and Eve knew good, but what was this evil knowledge? Even without sin, they were no match for sin’s temptation. During the conversation with the devil, they relied on themselves, instead of calling upon God. And sin became the new dominant force, the watermark of our souls, unless and until we are born spiritually again.
    Adam and Eve wanted to know about the knowledge of evil. They found out.
    Now we know.
    We can’t be good as Adam and Eve were before the fall because the evil sinful nature is present within us. But, because of Jesus, sin has lost its authority over us.
    The Holy, blameless, sacrificial love of Jesus is why!

    Staying 💪’n Christ
    Ephesians 6:10
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

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