Category: Forgiveness (Page 2 of 11)

Ultimate Forgiveness

Sin is the ultimate issue, and God deals with it ultimately and immediately. He takes care of your sin decisively and effectively. It’s not like getting rid of a virus by receiving a shot and taking some pills and hoping you get well in a few days. It’s not like getting rid of mice in the attic by setting up some traps and putting out some poison and hoping you eliminate most of the rodents by the end of the month. And it’s not like dealing with gangrene in your leg: We’re going to amputate, it’s really going to hurt, you’re going to have a severe limp the rest of your life, but, hey, the sin’s all gone!

No, God deals with your sin by forgiving it. And it’s gone.

“In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” ~Ephesians 1:7

When God through Christ forgives your sins, they are gone. They’re not a factor anymore. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions. In Isaiah 43, God says, “I’m the one. It’s me. I blot out your transgressions for my sake and remember your sins no more.”

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression? You will have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” ~Micah 7:18-19

Your sins are forgiven by God through Christ and you are completely released from the burdens of guilt, shame, and fear. You are also released from any requirement to make some kind of restitution. We are notorious in the Church for forcing people to pay for their sins. And it’s done a lot of damage. We’ve made up rules about who can remarry and who can’t, who can be ordained as an elder or preacher and who can’t, who can serve as deacons or on committees and who can’t. We’ve told people what they can do or can’t do based on past sins that we proclaim have all been forgiven. And we’ve punished people who wouldn’t or couldn’t pay those prices. No! Jesus Christ is the only one who pays the price! Jesus Christ makes restitution for all the sins of humanity at the cross! Jesus has paid it all! There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

Your sins are forgiven. Completely. Ultimately. By God’s love and grace and by the blood of our Lord Jesus, you are saved. Completely. Ultimately.

Peace,

Allan

Your Sins are Forgiven

We are all in want of forgiveness. Big forgiveness. It’s the universal need. Regardless of whatever factor or circumstance you want to claim for your life; whatever your blurry past, your uncertain present, or the preconceptions you have about your future; the views you have about yourself and your world, no matter how accurate or distorted; you must have forgiveness. Nothing else matters. Nothing else will fill the void or right the wrongs or give you satisfaction. Not even justice or fairness or all the other things we seek – only forgiveness truly fixes what’s wrong and brings lasting peace to our messed up times and lives.

In Luke 7, Jesus is confronted by a sinful woman inside a Pharisee’s house. And he looks right at her and says the four most important words ever said in any language: Your sins are forgiven.

Jesus is the Savior who came here to say those four words. It’s his purpose, it’s his mission. It’s who he is and what he does. Forgiveness. Jesus left his home in glory at the Father’s side to make it plain to you that your sins are forgiven.

But how do you know God can really do it? How do you know God forgives all your sins? You look at Jesus. If you want to understand God, you look at Jesus. Our Lord says it himself: If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.

Look how he loves this woman at Simon the Pharisee’s house and says to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Look how he saves the woman caught in adultery and tells her, “I don’t consider you guilty.” Look how he forgives the tax collector in the tree and the best friend who betrayed him three times. Look how Jesus prays from the cross for his accusers and executioners, how with his dying breath he prays for his killers, “Father, forgive them!”

God will forgive you. He already has. Your sins are forgiven. How do you know? Look at Jesus.

Peace,

Allan

Father, Forgive

The Hatred which divides nation from nation,
race from race,
class from class;
Father, forgive.

The Greed which exploits the labors of men
and lays waste to earth;
Father, forgive.

Our Envy of the welfare and happiness
of others;
Father, forgive.

Our Indifference to the plight of the
homeless and the refugee;
Father, forgive.

The Lust which uses for ignoble ends
the bodies of men and women;
Father, forgive.

The Pride which leads us to trust in
ourselves and not in God;
Father, forgive.

Peace,
Allan

What the Lord Requires

If you or someone you know is fond of swiping the table tents from Whataburger, or if you, like me, really want one of those table tents but are averse to breaking our Lord’s commands, you need to read this article from Texas Monthly. Apparently, Whataburger is fine with the thievery.

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“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” ~Micah 6:8

Seeing a puddle of oil under your car in the driveway shouldn’t cause you to change out the air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror. If your son is failing all his classes at college, you don’t argue with him about not knowing the words to the school fight song. There’s an old saying about the futility of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic — the silliness of it. Jesus calls it straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel. And our God shuts it down.

The Lord, through Micah, says “No! You don’t get it! It’s simple! Look, we’ve been over this for centuries!”

Act Justly – If you’re a covenant partner with God, you have to take care of everybody in the community. Justice. Helping the poor, protecting the foreigner, taking in orphans, feeding the widows — taking care of the people in society who can’t take care of themselves. Just like God takes care of me when I am wholly unable to take care of myself.

Love Mercy – I remember a family lunch at Furr’s Cafeteria when I was a teenager. We’re going through the line and we’ve got our trays and we’re looking at all the food and the lady asks my dad, “What can I get for you?” He replies, “I want everything I’ve got coming!” And the lady in the hairnet with the big spoon looks right at him and says, “No, you don’t.”

We don’t want what we’ve got coming; we want mercy. Mercy is not getting what you really deserve, it’s not giving someone what they truly deserve. And we love mercy when it’s shown to us. But God says love mercy for everybody.

Don’t just act merciful from time to time, love mercy consistently. Love mercy as a strategy, as a way of living, as a way of being and doing. Love mercy not just when it’s shown to you, but as you show it to others. Love mercy as your second-nature response, as your Holy Spirit instinct. Love mercy as a quality of God’s character forming in you.

Walk Humbly with Your God – Don’t carelessly or presumptuously do things your own way. Pay attention to God’s will. Put your will in a secondary position to his. Know your place next to God and walk with him — not against him, not in front of him. Walk with God’s vision, with God’s character, with God’s priorities. God has brought you life-changing justice and he’s shown you amazing mercy because that’s how he treats everybody. Now, you walk with him and join him in doing those same things with everybody where you live.

This isn’t new information. This has always been at the heart of God’s covenant with his people. Treat everybody the way I’ve treated you.

When it comes to your sin and your failures and your transgressions against God and neighbor — when it comes to your sin — our Lord Jesus looked at the Father and said, “Put that on my account.” While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son. God has brought you life-changing justice and shown you amazing mercy, not because you’re so good but because that’s the way he treats everybody. And his number one priority is that you and I would act the same way, that bringing justice and showing mercy would be your top priority and my top priority, because people would see him in us. People would experience God in us if our priorities and God’s priorities were the same.

Peace,

Allan

Courtroom Compassion

CNN’s Ed Lavandera has conducted an interview with Judge Tammy Kemp, the Dallas County judge who presided over the recent murder trial of former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger. Kemp has come under fire and is facing formal ethics complaints for allowing Brandt Jean, the younger brother of the victim in this case, Botham Jean, to hug his brother’s killer during the sentencing phase. Judge Kemp also hugged the defendant in the courtroom and gave Guyger her personal Bible to take with her to prison. The judge’s controversial actions clearly are against courtroom protocol and have generated lots of discussion nationally.

This interview is fascinating. It depicts so vividly the struggle Judge Kemp faced in deciding to allow Brandt to hug Guyger. The judge herself says she had to decide that, in addition to being a judge, she is a human being first. She knew that both Brandt and Guyger needed the hug in order to heal and to be liberated from anger and bitterness and to retain a sense of purpose for their lives. She speaks candidly about the power of forgiveness and compassion. She quotes from Micah 6:8 as a weighty passage of Scripture that guides her thoughts and actions. And she comes across as a very impressive follower of Christ as Lord.

Click here for the video.

Here’s to more forgiveness and more compassion.

Peace,

Allan

She Ran to Him

I’ve watched the video a dozen times and I’m moved to the verge of tears and inspired to the point of my heart bursting each time. You’ve probably seen the video: Botham Jean’s little brother, Brandt, speaking directly to Amber Guyger in the Dallas courtroom where she was convicted of murdering Botham and sentenced to ten years in prison. Brandt forgave her, told her he loved her, and then, in an unprecedented display of that forgiveness and grace, hugged his brother’s killer.

It’s remarkable. It’s beyond description. It’s Jesus. It’s the Kingdom of God. And it’s the only thing that can fix what’s wrong with us and with our world.

We can’t fix what’s really wrong. We try, but we can’t — not with education or technology or ingenuity or force. It takes forgiveness. It takes grace. It takes love.

It takes the words 18-year-old Brandt Jean spoke to Amber Guyger yesterday:

“I forgive you. If you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you. I love you just like anyone else. I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die just like my brother did. I personally want the best for you… I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you. Because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want. And the best would be to give your life to Christ. I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do. Again, I love you as a person. And I don’t wish anything bad on you.”

Brandt then looked back at Judge Tammy Kemp and asked, “I don’t know if this is possible, but, can I give her a hug, please?”

When Judge Kemp hesitated, Brandt pleaded, “Please?”

When the judge said, “Yes,” Brandt stepped down from the witness stand and he and Guyger hugged.

But here’s what strikes me. Everything I’ve written to this point is only leading to this. This is what I really want you to read and seriously consider today. Pay attention to this.

When Brandt gets down from the stand and approaches Guyger she RUNS to him. She runs. She almost leaps into his arms to hug Brandt. And at the point when a normal hug would be over and the two huggers would typically separate, she re-hugged him. She wouldn’t let him go. His arms were open, he initiated the hug, but Amber Guyger ran to him and wouldn’t let go.

That moves me to the core of my soul.

I don’t know Amber Guyger. I don’t know anything about her other than what’s been written in the news and testified to in court. I don’t know much about her past, I don’t know the darkness in her heart, I don’t know why she shot and killed Botham, and I can’t imagine what she’s going through right now. But I know that when Brandt offered forgiveness and grace, she ran to him.

I don’t know but if Amber Guyger has been waiting her whole life for somebody to show her some unconditional Christian love. I don’t know but that her soul has been crying out for this for years: “Somebody forgive. Somebody express some love. Somebody say something kind. Somebody show grace. Somebody open your arms to me in acceptance and mercy.” And when somebody did — the teenage brother of her victim — she ran to him.

I also know that Brandt’s act of courageous forgiveness and unconditional love diffused the violence that was percolating in the streets of Dallas last night. Yes, there was a small protest in front of the courthouse. While Botham’s family sang and prayed at the Dallas West Church of Christ, dozens of demonstrators marched through downtown in protest of the relatively light sentence handed to Guyger. But there was only one arrest. Nobody got hurt.

I’m reminded that when the families of the victims of the church shooting in Charleston four years forgave Dylann Roof in that court hearing right after the massacre, the head of the Black Lives Matter movement called off their march. “It shut us down,” he said. “When they forgave him, it shut us down.”

The way she ran to him. I can’t get that out of my heart today.

That’s the power of the Kingdom of God, friends. The power of our Lord Jesus is not in threat or force or punishment, it’s not in numbers or petitions or boycotts, it’s not in protests or marches or demonstrations. The power of God’s Kingdom — what moves people and changes hearts and heals souls and destroys evil and will eventually transform us and the world — is forgiveness and mercy.

Brandt’s father said last night that his son’s actions in that courtroom didn’t surprise him because that’s how he was raised. That Church of Christ in St. Lucia taught and nurtured that, they practiced that. I hope our Church of Christ in Amarillo and your church wherever you are is teaching and nurturing the same thing.

Peace,

Allan

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