The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son

I Am The Prodigal Son, weighed with the burden of a sinful heart and a rebellious nature. In the words of Paul, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:20-21). This is the burden of the believer, one that hurts the soul, yet the same burden that Christ died to kill in us. I am the prodigal son. I want to go crazy and leave everything I’ve ever known behind, not believing that there are consequences to my actions. I want to be wild because my sinful nature tells me that although I know it will tear me apart, it will be fun. That I can get away with it because I can, with my dying breaths, ask for forgiveness from the Lord and let that be good enough. 

But then I remember that my soul’s only purpose is to serve the Lord. That without Him and His glory, I am nothing. I remember the call from Romans 6: 

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

(V 1-7)

Its passages like this that remind me that I’m the prodigal child that has to come home every day, actually. As I sit here and write about my sinful nature, the Holy Spirit in me is walking me home. He is walking me home, reminding me of the grace and mercy of my God; about the fact that there is nothing that He can’t heal.

He’s asking me to have more faith, to lean in and listen, and to sit with Him. He’s telling me that He can kill the devil in me, but I have to let Him. He’s telling me that he can sanctify me, but that I have to start doing the work, that I have to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. It’s two-way street. 

He wants my obedience for the sake of His glory in my transformation. He’s asking for more because there is more, and He would know because He set it before me. He wants to put me in my limits so that I can experience a true freedom that doesn’t choke the life out of me, but rather allows me to flourish as He designed me. He wants me to grow good fruit, I just have to remain on the vine. 

He loves me. 

He invites me to wrestle, but He compiles me to bow. He is my friend, but He is also my Lord, and His name WILL be honored at the end of the day. He’s in the business of conforming me, making me into the likeness of his son, who is called Holy above all things.

Its times like these when I understand the Psalms. A steady stream of lament from the flesh, then a push from the Holy Spirit, gentle like a whisper, moving me in the direction of the cross- pushing me down to the feet of the Father, compelling me to give Him glory because it’s the only thing that I know to do.

I didn’t mean for this to end up being a glorifying prose, but more of an expression of the rebellion in my heart. But in this process, I see that I, who am in union with Christ, am eternally entangled with Him for the purposes of His Glory. I can never be removed from Him, and that there is no distance that I put between me and my God that He won’t cross to steal the affections of my heart.

My Glory, Not Yours

My Glory, Not Yours

A Dream Bigger Than Yourself

I do not claim to speak for God, nor do I claim that God has spoken direct revelation to me. But through my prayer time, and through my silent moments with the Lord, I was inspired with these words, imagining that this would be something resembling the other side of the conversation that I was having with my father. 

This little note is something deeply personal to me as a product of time with my father but I figured I’d share it with you in hopes that you would also be comforted and encouraged by it. 

Here it is:

“Dare to dream- think bigger than just being known or famous or self sufficient. Think about revival- a bible in the hands of the incarcerated or the persecuted in a far away country. Think about My word resonating through the walls of a building. Don’t think personal goals. Think with a kingdom mind. To think big in the upside down kingdom, you have to think small. Think about the heart of your neighbor, of that auntie or cousin that you love so much- think about them coming to faith and living in faithfulness- that is what I’ll multiply; not the brand deals or the Pinterest boards or the polished pretty things. It’s the things that you are afraid of right now that I will make you fearless in, take you to, and declare my victory over. That is the kind of victory, the kind of “big” that I want you to think and dream about. 

It’s my glory, not yours.

Remember that there is a difference between successful and being significant in this world. No amount of fame, notoriety, or followers will ever equate to a heart that has been saved and transformed for my glory. You playing a role in that is significant- the rest is just ashes in the wind. Don’t get caught up in it- lay it all down. 

Put your feet down to earth, and your head in heaven.

Lay it all down and pick. Up your cross. I hold your life and I hold your future- don’t you worry, it is good- Good far beyond your wildest dreams.”

Love,


Your Father

Why Jesus?

Why Jesus?

I recently started a new job as a barista in a local coffee shop. New faces, new work, and new coworkers. The first couple of days are filled with learning and chatting and a lot of questions being asked about each other during the lulls of the day.

 “What’s your major? What do you want to do when you graduate? Who do you want to be?” They ask.

It’s always interesting to explain to people that although my major is in English Editing Writing and Media, I don’t necessarily want to become a journalist or a publisher. It’s always a little bit nerve-racking to tell them that I want to pursue Christian ministry and write Christian books. Every time I get asked the question of what I do outside of work and what I do for fun, I get nervous to tell them that I love the local Church and reading my bible; that I play guitar for praise music, that my small business is Christian apparel and stickers- that my whole life revolves around the person of Jesus Christ. 

I get nervous because I don’t want them to reject me. I don’t want to make them uncomfortable because of the reputation of Christianity in the United States as being a religion that is oppressive and archaic. 

“But get to know me”, I always say. “Maybe I might surprise you.” 

Ever since I started this new job, the biggest thought in my mind has been “what will I say when they ask me why I believe in Jesus?”

I’ve been thinking about it all night and all day, and as I think about the answer, I find myself falling in love with Jesus more and more.

So, why Jesus?

Here is what I think I’d tell them:

Have you ever been in love?

Have you ever been in love with someone too good for you, someone you don’t deserve, and that person, by miracle, happens to love you too? Have you ever been loved by someone you don’t deserve, so well, that it’s almost too good to be true? Because I am. I met someone who is better than I could ever be, who loves me so much that he would die for me- more than a bullet, more than a spur-of-the-moment heroic decision. Someone who knew he would have to die for me but came into relationship with me anyways. I met someone who from his own supply, offered to pay all of my debts, no strings attached, all I had to do was call out to him. 

 I met someone kind and lovely, who is humble yet powerful; someone with the kindest heart I’ve ever known. I met someone who cares for others more than himself, someone who is willing to put it all on the line for the least of us. 

He is compelling in every single way. I want to get to know him more every day, spend every second with him. I want to read what he has written and write about him and sing about him and tell everyone about him. I want the world to know how beautiful this man is. 

Except he isn’t just a man. He is so powerful that the world listens to him- all he has to do is say the word. This man has done so many miraculous things that the world can’t contain the number of books it would take to write them all down. 

He is a man who cannot be exaggerated. 

He is beautiful and wonderful in every way. Powerful and mighty. He is just and kind, and despite everything that I’ve ever done, he chose to give me what belongs to him- a title to the throne which he is prince of. He is fully man, but here’s the thing- he is also fully God. He is above all things, yet chose to give me a new life.

I wake up every day with purpose because of him. I no longer feel the pit of emptiness in my chest when I wake up in the morning, but instead, I feel whole and full and abounding with joy. In any situation, the highest height or the lowest depth, he sees me. I can seek him and always find him. He’s given me a purpose and a hope and a reason to live. 

It isn’t co-dependent because he doesn’t need me, but he chooses to love me, not because of who I am but who he is. Not only does he have everything I will ever need, but he IS everything I will ever need or ever want or ever dream of.

So I wake up every day, in love with who he is, and grow because he has given me everything that I need to do so. I strive to serve him, to commune with him, to know him; and because of that, I become more like him. In him, I know that I am safe and secure forever. He will never leave or forsake me. I know this because he promised, and he is a man who never breaks his promises. 

So there you have it, I am in love with a man named Jesus, and I hope that one day you will experience this feeling too. 

NG Podcast: Romans 15 part 2

Hey y’all, its Victoria here and I’m so glad you could join me!

I just wanted to let you know that as we reach the penultimate chapter of Romans, I’m excited for this podcast, and excited to learn with you guys.

That being said, you guys know that I’m not a pastor or a proper theologian, I’m just Victoria, and trying to be faithful to the word.


I am by no means the end all be all authority to any of these things, that authority is reserved for God and his word, and himself alone.

Colossians chapter 3 says:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

We are called to admonish each other, and admonishment can take the form of encouragement, instruction, or correction, so as I attempt to admonish you, feel free to admonish me, whether it be questions, comments, concerns, or corrections. I hope we can all learn something today from this as a collective body of Christ.

I hope you enjoyed Romans 13 podcast, and I hope that the audio and editing has improved a little bit from our last episode.

As we reach the end of romans, feel free to send me some topic ideas or ideas about anything you’d like to hear!

And as we head into romans 16, if you have any questions, comments, or observations about the chapter, feel free to send them over!

Here are some show notes if you want to follow along:

Romans 15:14-33 NG Podcast

Romans 14 Recap

(1) Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.

(10-12) 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,

‘every knee will bow before me;

    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

(19-21) Let us, therefore, make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

Romans 15:1-13 Recap 

(1-3) We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

(4) For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

(5-6) May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(7)Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 

(13)May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Romans 15:14-33

Paul the Minister to the Gentiles

14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. 15 Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.


14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

As we can see here, Paul is describing a church that is growing and exhibiting the fruit of the spirit.

In the NIV version, it says “instruct” but the closest translation to this is “admonish”, which admonishment can take the form of encouragement, instruction, or correction. 

Admonishment in this sense is important as we can see that Paul gives the prerequisites to proper admonishment. 

  1. Full of goodness
  2. Filled with knowledge

These prerequisites are important because “goodness” in Greek here means uprightness of heart or virtue. Admonishment requires uprightness of heart because if we do not approach our brothers and sisters with a spirit and intention of goodness, then admonishment quickly becomes insult, and criticism that is supposed to be constructive becomes destructive.

Furthermore, the importance of “being filled with knowledge”, meaning being knowledgeable, is that we can be kindhearted and have good intentions, but if we speak from ignorance, our well-intentioned words can do so much unintended damage. We don’t want to misadvise someone or give them wrong information, especially when it comes to the gospel message about salvation. 

Many times, we will receive incomplete admonishments, which can either be true but unkind, or loving but untrue. In every admonishment we are to (like it says in 1 Thess. 5:21) to test all things against scripture, holding on to what is good, and reject any kind of evil. Unkind admonishments can be just as useful as kind ones when filtered appropriately, like if someone unkindly disputes a theological fact, they may be correct although unkind, and it still may be worth it to listen once the initial insult is sifted away. 

Admonishment from an upright heart and a trusted source can be a good resource for spiritual growth. Admonishment may be hard to receive sometimes, but when it comes from someone who meets these two prerequisites, it can be trusted, and sometimes, as we all know, the hardest things to hear are the most necessary. Like it says in Proverbs 19, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future”. 

Proverbs is actually a gold mine when it comes to talking about giving and receiving admonishment. It talks about how accepting criticism from the wise is better than accepting the sweet words of fools, and how kind admonishments are life-giving, while unkind words are spirit-breaking. It also details in many places how admonishment and wise council are essential for success and future wisdom. 

With that being said, those of you who are prepared to give admonishment, check your motives. Are you giving admonishment with a spirit of goodness? Have you personally tested your advice against scripture before giving it? Are you prepared to be kind gentle to the receiver’s response, whether good or bad?

Lastly, I love how he regards the act of admonishment to be mutual among the church congregation. He isn’t saying pastors to your congregants or older to younger, he is addressing them in the way of saying that any good-hearted and spiritually prepared member of the church can serve as an instrument in building up the others through their willingness to encourage, teach, or correct. We can admonish through our words, attitudes, and spiritual gifts, relating back to Romans 12: 

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Rom 12:4-8). 

We all play different roles in upholding and strengthening the body with the unique spiritual gifts, or as we discovered are actually called gifts of grace, and the way we do it is through mutual teaching, sharing, encouraging, correcting, uplifting, and building of Christ’s body which we call the church.


 15 Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me 

Paul is basically saying, “you guys are doing good BUT let me remind you again of some of these basic truths because it’s a strong conviction of mine and a refresher never hurt.”

This is actually super characteristic of Paul, to repeat himself as he explains in Philippians 3:

“Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” (Phil. 3:1).

This is actually one of my favorites because he is saying here that repetition is a safeguard for the soul. 

In psychology a “Habit, in psychology, any regularly repeated behavior that requires little or no thought and is learned rather than innate. A habit…. is developed through reinforcement and repetition.” (https://www.britannica.com/topic/habit-behaviour#ref47413)

What Paul is looking for here is for the church in Rome to get into Habits of holiness by reminding us of the truths of the gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ, salvation, resurrection, sanctification, and our role to play as the ever-growing church and body of Christ. 

He repeats himself not only within the letter but has likely in other letters as well because what he is preaching is meant to get stuck in your head, so you can meditate on the power and goodness of God; that is what Praise and worship does, it reminds us of who God is and who we are serving. It teaches us to remember His character and promises. It equips us with the spiritual armor of truth and scripture to remember that God is moving and working and fighting our battles as we pray. It gives us the confidence to cling to and climb toward that rock that is higher than us. It puts our feet on solid ground. It brings peace and rest in the middle of the storm so that instead of begging to get out of it, we can feel protected enough to weather it, and on the other side of it gain perseverance, endurance, and wisdom. It teaches us to TRUST the God who is faithful to complete what He started, to look back with the blessing of hindsight, and see that God’s promises are “yes and amen” and that his word does NOT return void.


16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Not only does he repeat himself for the good of his beloved church, but he repeats himself and ensures the proper teaching of the gospel because he is called to do it. 

Paul is recognizing his mission, his divine purpose, his sender, and his strength, all within this statement. He is making a declaration of the spiritual authority of God and his obedience to follow.

“Paul had no diffidence about speaking of his commission. It was a definite commission given him by the Lord Himself, and he would not let any human instrument deflect him from the purpose to which he had set his heart and hand. …We all need to be far more definite about whatever commission the Lord has given us, and He has given a commission in one way or another to each of His people. Our lack of definiteness, our lack of purpose, is the underlying reason for our lack of accomplishment.” – Dr. James Priest


Furthermore, when he says so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God he is referring back to Romans 10, earlier in his letter, when he explains:

“ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!””

Paul is adamant about fulfilling God’s plan which is to secure the salvation of the Gentiles through Israel. Paul here was himself a Jew who then heard the good news of Christ and then took the Matthew 28:19 commission to heart, bringing the good news to the rest of the nations, including his current audience, the church of Rome.

And lastly, Paul identifies with proclaiming the Gospel of God. Just a tidbit about this statement because I thought it was really interesting:

“For an amplification of the meaning of this term, “the gospel of God,” we need to go back to chapter one, where it is stated, “the gospel of God concerning His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.” The Gospel of God includes the whole truth of God from the declaration of the sinnership of all men, onward and including all the varied truths of the New Testament. It includes all church truth, as well as all individual truth. The Gospel of God is the glad tidings that God has devised a vast scheme of blessing of which Christ His beloved Son, our Lord, is the Head and Center, and that He has a body here on earth made up of members who are believers in His Name. There is not a truth of the New Testament that is not included in the term, “the gospel of God”.”

 -Dr. James Priest


 17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. 21 Rather, as it is written:

“Those who were not told about him will see,

    and those who have not heard will understand.”

22 This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.


17 Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. 

What does it mean to glory in Christ Jesus? 

Well, if we think WAY back to September, we will remember that we came across this term back in Romans chapter 5.

Glory means praise, honor. To glory, like Paul is using it here, means to worship, praise, honor, or give thanksgiving to God. To attribute great gratification and exaltation, the attribution of great beauty or splendor to Jesus Christ.

Secondly, I don’t love the way that NIV translates “my service to God”, because a more accurate translation would be “the things that pertain to God”. The “my service to God” part could kind of sound braggy, but it is not supposed to be even in the slightest. He is saying, as we will see in verse 18, that the only thing that he believes is worthy to be boasted about is the things of God and the power of God. 

Last, Paul mentions FULLY proclaiming the gospel, meaning that there is no partial gospel, false truth, anything added or removed.


18 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— 19 by the power of signs and wonders [Signs and wonders meaning the influence and the hand of the Holy Spirit], through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

Another translation says “I will not DARE to venture”. 

(Paraphrase Charles Hodge commentary)

“In these verses, the apostle explains more fully what he had intended by saying he gloried or exalted. It was that God had born abundant testimony to his claims as a divinely commissioned preacher of the gospel: so that he had no need to refer to what others had done; 

he was satisfied to rest his claims on the results of his own labors and the testimony of God. 

For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me. That is, ‘I will not claim the credit due to others, or appeal to results which I have not been instrumental in effecting.’ According to another view, the meaning is, ‘I will not speak of anything as the ground of boasting which Christ has not done by me.’ 

The conversion of the Gentiles was Christ’s work, not Paul’s; and therefore, Paul could glory in it without [exalting himself]. It is to be remarked that the apostle represents himself as merely an instrument in the hands of Christ for the conversion of men; the real efficiency he ascribes to the Redeemer. 

This passage, therefore, exhibits evidence that Paul regarded Christ as still exercising a controlling agency over [his calling] and rendering effectual [or necessary] the labors of his faithful ministers. [The sacred writers would never attribute that power] to any being but God. 

To make the Gentiles obedient, [meaning obedient to] to the gospel means… the sincere obedience of the heart and life. This result, he says Christ effected [or has achieved], through his instrumentality, by word and deed, not merely by truth, but also by that operation which Christ employed to render the truth effectual. It was not only by the truth as presented in the word but also by the effectual inward operation of his power [his church], that Christ converted men to the faith.”

-Charles Hodge


 20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. 21 Rather, as it is written:

“Those who were not told about him will see,

    and those who have not heard will understand.”

22 This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.

“Paul did not want to build on another man’s foundation. Rather he wanted to do pioneer work for the Lord – not because it was wrong or bad to continue the work begun through another man, but because there was so much to do on the frontiers.” -David Guzik

Paul obviously saw his heart for planting and pioneering as obedience to the scriptures, and the fulfilling of the Old Testament prophecy. This was his personal conviction. But this alone was not enough to complete God’s vision for his Church. He also appointed passionate leaders with a calling from the Lord to be shepherds and leaders in the church. These people have different spiritual gifts than Paul but are just as necessary and just as right in the eyes of the father as necessary tools and resources to build the church like we talked about in Romans 12. He even names some of them in Romans 16, which we will be going over next podcast.


Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome

23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.

What we are seeing here is kind of the end of the formal part of the letter, and rather the beginning of the closing personal remarks. In verse 23, Paul, when he says, “there is no more place for me to work”, is referring to the verses above it, meaning that he has no more territory in the area around him to establish a church where Christ is not known. The work is nowhere near done, neither for Paul nor the churches that he has planted, but it is a positive note for the success of the Church and Paul’s church planting through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Then in verse 24, Paul talks about seeing the Romans on his way to Spain. Whether Paul ever made it to Spain is unlikely since there is no historical record of it on top of the fact that his incarceration in Cesarea was caused by his presence in Jerusalem which he was on his way to. He was then later brought in bonds to Rome. Whether he got to commune with the church in Rome like he intended is also doubtful. Either way, the Lord had a purpose for the incarceration of Paul, which was undoubtedly filled, and produced good fruit even in the face of struggle.


 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.

The Gentile Christians of the broader Roman empire had received so much spiritually from the community of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, it was only right that they help the Jerusalem Christians in their need.

This wasn’t necessarily a command, but more of a genuine show of gratitude on the part of the gentile churches to their Jewish Christian brothers and sisters who were currently in need- a call to generosity. When Paul says “they owe it to them”, it is a show of the spiritual duty that comes with the conviction of both gratitude and a sense of responsibility for their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, not a legalistic financial duty, because we know that we have no debt in Christ. Why wouldn’t we WANT to help support those who ministered to us, and those that we have spiritually benefitted from so that they can continue to do so for others?


 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.

30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Paul is calling his brothers and sisters to partner with him in ministry through prayer. Paul knows that he is going somewhere where the tensions are high, the stakes are high, and the dangers are big.

Paul, even as an apostle of God, was not exempt from danger or need, or strife. He was not exempt from prayer or even being prated over.

“Does it astonish you that a man so rich in grace as Paul should be asking prayers of these unknown saints? It need not astonish you; for it is the rule with the truly great to think most highly of others. In proportion as a man grows in grace he feels his dependence upon God, and, in a certain sense, his dependence upon God’s people.” -Charles Spurgeon

How often do we find ourselves prideful when it comes to asking for help and for prayer? We act like we don’t need it, but as humans and dependents on the Lord, we must be dependent on the Lord’s people to act as one body with us by being unified in prayer for each other.

Are we praying for each other? Are we joining in ministry and interceding for each other?

When you say you are going to pray for someone, do you do it?

It is easier to give a donation, to give money, but the most powerful and effective thing that we can do for someone is to intercede in prayer for them. Even when we feel like we have no power to do anything, we always have the power to pray. In Matthew 18:18, Jesus says “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” What we do on earth has a direct and powerful impact on what happens in the spiritual realm. Prayer for those who are asking for it and prayer for those who you love is not just nice, it’s not just helpful, it’s necessary. It is direct access to the father, the King most high, the one with all the power and all the authority and all the dominion on heaven and on earth. Prayer to the father by the blood of Jesus through the Holy Spirit is probably the single most powerful tool that you have at your disposal. 

Pray for others. Pray for your friends. Pray for your leaders- your leaders do not get prayed over enough, and they need it. They are not immune from the attacks of the enemy.

I encourage you all, make a list, sit, or stand, or kneel. Get into a position of prayer, and just pray. Make it a habit to pray. Hold on tightly to prayer because it is the one thing that nobody can take away from you, and it is simply a direct and private audience with the Father, the Lord of heavens armies, the Lord of hosts himself.

A Prayer For Worship Leaders

A Prayer For Worship Leaders

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come before you today, acknowledging that you are the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and sovereign over all. I acknowledge that you are God and that I am not. Father I lay my trespasses at your feet. I lay down my pride and my insecurities. I lay down my need to please and my desire for praise, for I know that all praise belongs to you alone.

Father I pray that you take me back to the moment where I met you first. Take me back to the moment where I understood that you already knew me, and that you alone were my salvation.

Father I pray that you remind me of my humble beginnings, the moments where I did not and could not impress anybody, but rather just wanted to be in your presence. 

Teach me to lead humbly, and to be a worshipper before anything else. I pray for more of you and less of me.

There are two things that I know: that I am needy, and that the praise of your name is a beautiful sound. So Lord, as I come to you on bended knee, accept my broken offering of worship, and fill me with your presence, so that I may have the strength to continue praising your name. 

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

NG Podcast: Romans 13

NG Podcast

Romans 13

NG Podcast: Romans 13

Hey guys! Welcome to the very first Notes About Glory Podcast. Today’s edition of the podcast is an extension to the Praise Pals small group, finishing up the book of Romans as we head into the summer.

As we dive into Romans 13 together, I hope that you guys are able to see God more and fall in love with his sense of divine order, love for justice, mercy, and light.

I just wanted to let you know that I’m excited for this podcast, and excited to learn with you guys.

That being said, you guys know that I’m not a pastor or a proper theologian, I’m just Victoria, and trying to be faithful to the word.


I am by no means the end all be all authority to any of these things, that authority is reserved for God and his word, and himself alone.

Colossians chapter 3 says:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

We are called to admonish each other, and admonishment can take the form of encouragement, instruction, or correction, so as I attempt to admonish you, feel free to admonish me, whether it be questions, comments, concerns, or corrections. I hope we can all learn something today from this as a collective body of Christ.

Here are some show notes if you want to follow along:

Romans 12 Recap:

12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” 

  • We are a sacrifice that cannot be burned up, we live, offering ourselves as a thank offering because the perfect sacrificed was paid

12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

  • See yourself in the light of God’s perfection
  • This brings both Humility and teaches us to lay ourselves down before the King of kings

12:9-10 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

12:14-15 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

12:17-21 “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”


Now, in light of Romans 12, we must see Romans 13 as an extension of 12- one big letter, each individual “chapter” pertaining to the other.


Romans 13:1

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

13:1- to “be subject to” in the Greek means “to submit to the authority of”, or “to yield to the admonition or council of another”

So, we are to submit to the governing authority because there is no authority except that which God has established. (v1).

“God appoints a nation’s leaders, but not always to bless the people. Sometimes it is to judge the people or to ripen the nation for judgment. We remember that Paul wrote this during the reign of the Roman Empire. It was no democracy, and no special friend to Christians – yet he still saw their legitimate authority.”  – David Guzik

Your Savior suffered under Pontius Pilate, one of the worst Roman governors Judea ever had; and Paul under Nero, the worst Roman Emperor. And neither our Lord nor His Apostle denied or reviled the ‘authority!’ ”  – John Phillip Newell

Daniel 2:21

“It is He who changes the times and the epochs;

He removes kings and establishes kings;

He gives wisdom to wise men

And knowledge to men of understanding.

Why are we subject to governing authorities?

Because we are really bad at listening to the authority of the Father.

For many years, in the OT, God himself was the sole king and the ruling authority of his people. But the people refused to listen to God and rebelled over and over, hence the book of Judges. After a certain point, the sin of the people led them to ask for a human authority over themselves.

1 Samuel 8:4-9

“So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.  They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.””

We are much like this, because sinful nature causes natural rebellion in our hearts.


Romans 13:2-5

Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

When it says here that we rebel against authority, it means not only government authority, but the authority of God. Since we are all subject to the authority of God.  Jesus says in Matthew 28:18:

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.””

Because all authority is in Christ Jesus who is one with God the Father, then the word of God is the ultimate authority.

When the government obeys the authority of God as a product of obeying the word of God, it is healthy, and therefore pleasing to God. If the Government does not, then it is in danger, and bringing judgement on itself.

So it is with us.

We, unfortunately, are sometimes subject to terrible authority by terrible governments. Yes, we are called to submit to them, in the things that it is in submission to God. We are to follow as many laws as possible, while rebuking all the things that are revolting to God, namely injustice.

Since governments have authority from God, we are bound to obey them – unless, of course, they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man.

For example, in Acts 4 Peter and John were performing signs and wonders and telling people about Jesus and his resurrection. For this action, they were arrested and put in jail.

““What are we going to do with these men?” they [the Sanhedrin] asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.””

As we can see, our God is a God of Justice, and in the right knowledge of that, Peter and John partake in an act of civil disobedience to uphold the commands and the mercy of God.


Civil disobedience is our attempt to uphold the righteousness of God in the face of injustice.

All governments fall short of the Glory of God because they are sinful in nature; institutions run by sinful people. Some governments are better than others, you can make up your mind about which government model is best, but at the end of the day, the only government that was perfectly righteous was the one instituted by God the Father through the ordination of his perfect law through Moses. Since then, the government has fallen into the hands of the people, becoming corrupt, and therefore in need of correction.

That being said, there is a difference between civil disobedience and straight up breaking the law.

You will never be able to uphold the law or promote justice by using sin and injustice. You simply cannot counter sin with sin.

This is why even in our civil disobedience and protest and our attempts for justice, we work through the law and with the law, not against the law: because if we work against the law to promote justice, we will be found just as guilty before the throne of God.

Our God is a God of order, and the law was and is meant to create order in the face of our depravity- and if we go against the law, we go against order, meaning we are disorderly- the opposite of God, and actually more similar to the enemy, to what Paul calls “the lawless one”, the antichrist in 2 Thessalonians ch 2.

Christians should respect the spirit of our father by following the law – not because we are afraid of punishment but because we learn to love what is right in our Father’s eyes.

In the same way that we do not stop sinning just because we are told not to (I.e. The law) but because we are fully convinced that it is better (conviction of the Holy Spirit) – this passage refers to rebellion, which is our chief sin, which is why it is so hard for us to sit with this.

We have to be careful what we call injustice- sometimes it is a matter of inconvenience, not injustice, and other times we boil down injustice to inconvenience. This passage is here because nobody has to tell us to start a fight. We are really good at it. This passage is here because we often get it wrong- we let our rebellious sinful nature get in the way of what God is calling us to do because he knows that it will be good for our souls.

The reason that we have to allow the Lord to pursue justice and vengeance in our place (Romans 12:17-21) is because God’s motives are always pure. We presume to be pursuing justice, but in reality, what we seek is vengeance. We are people that wear revenge in disguise, calling it justice, making us just as corrupt as the person who wronged us.

Vengeance is the intersection between 2 injustices- if a man is murdered, and someone goes on to kill the murderer, this is not full justice because now there are 2 murderers, 2 dead men, and 2 grieving families. Justice is meant to heal, and often times, because of that, justice is made in heaven, not on earth.

Make not mistake, This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pursue justice, because scripture gives us plenty of reasons to pursue justice, OUR GOD IS A GOD OF JUSTICE

In Proverbs 31:8-9 it says:

“speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and the helpless, and see that they get justice.”

This just means that we need to be checking our means and our motives, or else, like it says in Romans 14:16, what we know of as good will be spoken of as evil. This is why the International Justice Mission works WITH the law and WITH the government to secure justice for those who are in slavery. This is why there is a process and a right way to do things. The more you react rather than RESPOND to injustice, the more likely you will do more damage than good.


This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Jesus also says something similar to this in Mark 12: “Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

This is why when the law is to wear a mask, we wear it. It is not unjust, and it is not a matter addressed directly in the word. And since it is the law, and we are called to be law abiding people, we wear it. The piece of cloth is not an infringement to our rights, it is an infringement to our preference, and those two things are NOT the same. If we look to Romans 15, which we talked about, it says

“make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.  I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil.  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.”

We have human trafficking and racism to worry about, so check yourself if you are more concerned with wearing a mask than seeking out justice for the captive, the trafficked, the persecuted, and the marginalized.


Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

The way in which we follow the law is loving to others, considering others over ourselves in that we choose order and the greater good over individual convenience.

Continually loving others means continually checking our rebellious hearts.

“We may pay our taxes and be quit. We may give respect and honor where they are due and have no further obligation. But we can never say, ‘I have done all the loving I need to do.’ Love then is a permanent obligation, a debt impossible to discharge.” – Leon Morris

Love your neighbor means to love the people you actually meet with and deal with every day. It is easy for us to love in the theoretical and the abstract, but God demands that we love real people.

“No man can compass the ends of life by drawing a little line around himself upon the ground. No man can fulfill his calling as a Christian by seeking the welfare of his wife and family only, for these are only a sort of greater self.” – Charles Spurgeon

It is easy to do all the right religious “things” but to neglect love. Our love is the true measure of our obedience to God. – David Guzik


And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here..

A true believer believes that we really live in the last days, it causes us to live differently out of conviction.

It is easy to think you are awake when you are not- people sleep-walk. Because we know the danger of the times and we are called to anticipate the return of Jesus, we should be all the more energetic and committed to a right walk with God instead of a sleep-walk with God.

 How are we living as though the last days are near? How are we being awake toward God?

We speak up when we are awake- speaking up about his love and mercy and justice and speaking against injustice.

We can hear when we are awake- we listen to wise council, listen to the word being preached, listening for the voice of the father

We can sing when we are awake- we can combat the darkness by singing songs of praise and bringing glory to the Lord

We can think when we are awake- we weigh what we hear against the word, think and meditate on the word, actively filtering information and filling our minds with new knowledge of the Lord rather than passively letting things into our minds that have no place in light of our knowledge of God.


So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh

What is the armor of light?

 I love this illustration. This illustration is based on dressing appropriately – we get dressed based on who we are and what we plan to do.

We must cast off before we put on – sin and righteousness don’t mix

Reference to the armor of God Ephesians 6:11- 17:

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

We are ready to both attack and defend.

Always conduct yourself as if you were in the light – where you can be seen and observed easily and clearly. We are called to be people in the light, no longer hiding our sin and allowing ourselves to sit in the darkness, but as 

V12 What does it look like to put on Jesus?

Obedience and spiritual disciplines, considering others, serving

Spiritual disciplines is not just bible reading and prayer, its discipleship, evangelism, serving, etc.


So, in light of all of this, how do we feel? What do we think? How should we respond?

Well, although it is hard to understand how the patterns of injustice and the rise and fall of governments as we attempt to be obedient to his word, we must recognize that God’s grace, holiness, and righteousness are not defined by our view of the world and our perspective of how things look like they are going.
God sees his plan to reconcile the nations to himself from a place of divinity, from the perspective of heaven.

The injustice of all injustices was the death of the most innocent and perfect man to have ever lived, and yet God found a way to redeem all of humanity through it.

Now, I’m not saying that we should stand for injustice, but have hope even in the midst of the trial, because he is sovereign, because he is Holy.

R C Sproule says that “any attempt to understand God without holiness is idolatry”

Jackie Hill Perry says:

“Our God is Holy- Holy meaning that he cannot sin- meaning that he cannot sin against us”

Even in this, he cannot sin. He cannot sin against us. God commands us of these things by his holiness for the sake of our holiness.

So, friends, God is holy, and his word is perfect. We can be obedient while also keeping in tension the need to keep the law, and the need to fight for justice. We can do both, and we can do it well, because

1. Jesus had done it, and

2. God’s word is never contradictory, and always for our good and His glory.

Seen, Known and Loved: A Memoir

Seen, Known and Loved

A Memoir

As I sat at the kitchen table of my tiny apartment, my eyes made their way toward the large floor-to-ceiling window looking out into the city. The sun had set, and the sky had begun to speckle itself with tiny lights. The ones along the ground seemed to burn brighter than the ones hidden high up by layers of fog. I began to wonder how long it had been since I had seen the night sky.

Thinking back to the summers I spent in Puerto Rico, I remembered being woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of the coqui frogs and stumbling out of bed to find my grandmother sitting in her garden, looking up at the sky.

I remember stepping down the steep step to get to the garden from the house, and crawling up into my grandmother’s lap, and looking up at the stars.

“If you look up,” she said, “you can see the saints in the sky, these are the stars. These are the people that Jesus has saved. He can see you from up there where he resides.”

I just remember looking at the tiny glowing dots and wondering how on earth a person could get so high up. “I can’t see them” I told her. “If I can’t see them, and they are with Jesus, how can he see me?”

“He can see you.” She told me. “He always sees you.”

I didn’t understand as a child, but I can see it now, what she told me. The fact that he sees me. He promises us his presence and tells us that we are fully seen, known, and loved.

I am reminded of the story of Philip and Nathaniel, when Nathaniel encounters Jesus. ““How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”” (John 1:48).

Jesus saw him, even from afar, when Nathaniel was alone, Jesus saw him.  

So you, too, are seen by the Messiah.

Resurrection is Coming

A Good Friday Post

On this Good Friday, sitting and thinking upon the crucifixion of our King and Savior Jesus, I wonder, why is it that on this day, when the King of the world, who condescended to bring his father glory in the salvation of His people, can be called good?

Friday was good, because Resurrection was coming. 

It is good simply because the story of Christ did not end on Friday. Friday was indeed a terrible day, and when the world thought that God went silent, He was working. 

Friday was good, because Resurrection was coming. 

1 Corinthians 15:17-19 says this: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

These were the thoughts of the people who witnessed the miracle-worker being crucified. They were scattered and lost, without a leader and without a messiah.

But Friday was good, because Resurrection was coming.

We sit in the sorrow of Friday, knowing that there is weight in our Sunday joy. Knowing that there is salvation where there once was not, knowing that there is life because of perfect death.

Friday was good because it began the process of victory. God, the merciful Father, so loved the world that He gave his only son though we were His enemies, we would become reconciled to Him. 

He bore our guilt and the shame that comes with it, in order that we might find life and freedom in Him.

Good Friday was good, because resurrection was coming.

And on that resurrection day, the prophecy of Isaiah 25:8 was fulfilled, so that we, thousands of years later can gather and say:

“ Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

Let us sit in the weight of this Friday, looking forward to the resurrection day so that our joy might be full, knowing that there is free salvation and victory where there once was not.

Joy is Weighty

I have been thinking a lot about joy lately, and I’ve noticed that in order for there to be joy, there must always be a sacrifice. 

As believers, we experience joy as a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) as a product of the continual transformation brought on by the Holy Spirit. This joy is free and accessible to us, but it came at the price of Christ’s death on the cross for our sake. 

Because of the weight of sin in our fallen world and the perpetual death that comes with it, in order for us to feel the joy of the Lord, it comes at a cost. Yet God was so merciful that He paid it for is, giving us access to that joy. 

What does all this mean?

That there is baggage in joy. Not necessarily the kind that we wallow in or the kind that keeps us from rejoicing, but the kind that convicts our hearts and draws us near to the Father in thankfulness and praise.

I believe that the glory of the Father can be found in our joy, as a product of what the spirit produces in us, because of the Son.

Joy is a lovely state of being, yet a necessary reminder that without Christ, there once was not.

I think about the year of Jubilee. The Year of Jubilee, which came every 50th year, was a time commanded by God for the releasing  of people from their debts, releasing all slaves, and returning property to those who originally owned it (Leviticus 25:1-13). The year of Jubilee was precisely its namesake: a season of celebration. There was so much joy that came from the lifting of the yoke of slavery and the shame that came with debt. Jubilee was joyous for those who could not find freedom by their own means- but the catch is that this joy is not so easily recognized until there is first the taint of slavery. For those who did not experience loss or debt, they had a much harder time rejoicing, because they had nothing to be returned to them. 

In the same way, Paul says in Romans that although we should not continue sinning, the memory of sin should bring us joy in our salvation, and compel us to offer ourselves to the Father as instruments of righteousness. (Romans 6).

This is the Christian joy: to not live as though we were still dead in our sins, but to rejoice in the freedom we have found in Christ, using our knowledge of salvation and thankfulness to compel us to glorify the Father. 

Yes friends, this is a weighty joy.

These socks actually say “Choose Joy” on the smiley face where the mouth is. If you want to purchase these socks, click here for 15% off your purchase at Elevated Faith, or use code VictoriaMr15.