Tag Archives: forgiveness

Find Freedom in Jesus

“Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.” – Matthew 12:22

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Isn’t it remarkable?

Jesus healed a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute. Jesus freed him from his imprisonment to demons and darkness.

Jesus can free us, too.

In many ways, we all live inside our own prisons. Some prisons may be of our own making, through sin, addictions, and wrong decisions.

Every bad choice we’ve made locks us up in some form of prison. It can be relational, emotional, financial or something else. As a result, we may experience loss of freedom and despair.

The difference between freedom and confinement is found in our answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?”

The Pharisees claimed Jesus was a charlatan or doing the work of the devil. Others realized that He is the Son of God.

Our answer and response to that question – Who is Jesus? – is the most important decision we will ever make.

Jesus came to set us free.

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18).

With his sacrifice, Jesus declared us “Not guilty!” and opened our jail cells.

Will we accept the freedom that Jesus offers and walk through those open doors into his open arms? Or will we remain imprisoned by our sins, our addictions and our wrong behaviors?

God has given us freedom to choose. Let us choose wisely.

[Background photo courtesy Sundown First Baptist Church.]

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Helping Those in Need

“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 (NIV)

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Our Father in heaven wants us to be righteous, compassionate, and humble people. These are characteristics which Jesus and the apostles implored Christians to pursue and attain.

We see all around us people who are in need, destitute, lost, or broken.

Jesus is the ultimate solution in every area of life. As followers and disciples of Christ, we have our part to play.

God’s desire is that we “act justly,” that we promote justice in our lives, our local communities, and our other spheres of influence.

He desires that we “love mercy,” extending compassion and forgiveness to others.

And He desires that we “walk humbly,” knowing we are all equal at the foot of the cross.

We cannot do justice from a distance. We must be engaged, involved in the lives of those around us. That means being part of the community. No man is an island.

Our Father desires that we compassionately stand with those in need: the oppressed, the marginalized, and the invisible.

How? We can be engaged in our communities in a variety of ways, including financially, in prayer, or through volunteer service.

From the least to the greatest, God has blessed us all in various ways. What will we do with our God-given resources? Will we pursue the passing pleasures of this world or look toward the eternal salvation of others? Will we be caught up in our own cares and concerns or look to those in need? Will we put God’s will first or seek our own?

In helping others through promoting justice, extending compassion, and exercising humility, we are sowing seeds for the kingdom of God. We become involved in something greater than ourselves.

Remember, we will reap what we sow.

Take Heart, My Child

“Take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven.” – Matthew 9: 2

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Jesus’ heart was revealed when he walked the earth 2,000 years ago. On one occasion, people brought a paralyzed man to him. Jesus astonished the crowd by unexpectedly declaring, “Take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven.”

The Pharisees objected to his words, claiming Jesus blasphemed God. Jesus proved that he could forgive sins by healing the man, who obeyed his instructions: “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

The paralytic was transformed from being completely hopeless to facing unlimited possibilities. That’s what Jesus does.

Jesus healed the man from all that had held him down, freed him from a body and a life that did not work. Jesus offers to do the same for us. Jesus desires to give us freedom from death, from brokenness, and from the hell that lives within us.

The great miracle was not the outward physical healing of the paralytic man but, rather, his inward spiritual healing, which will last forever.

Jesus came to bring eternal forgiveness and to heal us from whatever paralyzes us, from the darkness that pulls us down.

Jesus also tells us to “take heart,” meaning, to have boldness and courage. We can boldly turn to the only One who can save us.

We all have a choice. We can choose to remain paralyzed by all that is wrong in our hearts, our lives, and the world. Or we can choose freedom in Christ.

In a nutshell, we can choose either sin or forgiveness.

Will you celebrate God’s forgiveness and joyfully live a life with God on your journey to heaven, or will you remain hopelessly paralyzed, stuck where you are?

Jesus beckons you, “Come to Me!” (Mt. 11:28)

Life at the Cross!

An instrument of cruel death was used by God to bring life to all.

The Easter season celebrates the fulfillment of Jesus’ most beloved words in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Life at the Cross

Jesus fulfills those words at the cross. There, he paid the penalty for all of our sins (1 Pet. 3:18, Rom. 6:8, Heb. 9:28). And it is there where we find Him to receive the gift of everlasting life (Rom. 6:23). It is a free gift when we repent in faith.

Jesus actually predicted the manner of His death in the words preceding his great promise. In John 3:14-15, we read: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Notice that verses 15 and 16 end with almost identical words. Why? Because Jesus was drawing a parallel between a spectacular Old Testament event (which prefigured the salvation which would be provided at the cross) with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

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As recorded in Numbers 21:4-9, the ancient Israelites rebelled against God in the wilderness. God punished them with “fiery serpents who bit them, killing many. After the people repented, God provided a means of salvation:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”

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In similar fashion, whenever anyone who has sinned looks at Jesus  in repentance and faith, they shall live.

Speaking to the crowd, Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). The next verse expressly states, “This He said, signifying by what death He would die.”

Just as Moses lifted up a bronze serpent on a pole to save all those who looked at it, God lifted up Jesus on a cross to save all those who put their faith in Him.

Let us all turn to Jesus, who beckons us with arms wide open, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).

Making Sense of Madness

In recent weeks, several mass shootings have grieved the heart and captured the consciousness of the nation.

In Charleston, NC, a devastated community responded with forgiveness and compassion in the wake of a heartless attack by a white supremacist in the historic Emanuel AME Church. In Chattanooga, TN, a Muslim jihadist targeted and killed five members of the military. In Lafayette, LA, a madman sought to emulate the Aurora, CO, movie theatre massacre.

Madness

How are these tragedies alike and how do they differ? The answers may surprise you.

Charleston, NC

An extremely rare and isolated act of terrorism by a white supremacist made national news because it was so rare[1] and so tragic.

The family and local community gave an epic Christian response: forgiveness.[2]

In contrast, far-left radicals launched a campaign of cultural genocide, seeking to eradicate every vestige of Confederate culture from American history and contemporary America. First, eliminating the Confederate battle flag, then toppling Confederate statues and robbing Confederate graves. Even America’s Founders are under assault. (Thomas Jefferson? Really?)

Despite the fact that white supremacy is virtually non-existent, many on the Left exploited this tragedy to convict all whites (especially conservatives) of racism. The Left has done this for several decades, redefining terrorism[3] as exclusively conservative in nature.[4] Christians have even been accused of being terrorists.[5]

Chattanooga, TN

Chattanooga, TN, is now the site of a classic case of ISIS-inspired Islamic terrorism in America’s homeland, this time targeting the American military.

With ample information to classify this tragedy as a terrorist attack by an Islamist, the Obama administration and left-wing media remained in denial, blaming everything but the terrorist’s radicalization as an Islamist as the motivation for this attack.

While the media is eager to taint evangelical Christians[6] and conservatives[7] with the terrorist label,[8] they are loathe to identify actual Islamic terrorism[9] as terrorism committed by Islamists.

As noted in Front Page Magazine, this ideological bias pervades the media and the intelligentsia:

“We’re now at a point in the history of Middle East studies wherein ‘scholars’ of the region deny the obvious, ignore the infamous, and offer apologias in their never-ending effort to protect Islamists from the consequences of their actions while blaming the West for all the world’s ills. Just when the West most needs insightful policy advice guided by expertise, it receives instead propaganda in the guise of scholarship to support its enemies. Seldom has any academic discipline so failed its duty.”

But for the intervention of a security guard, it is likely that many people would have died at the hands of Islamic jihadists who sought to strike terror in the midst of a Draw Mohammad Contest in Garland, TX.[10]

Lafayette, LA

In Lafayette, LA, a man with a long history of mental illness sought the death of innocents in a movie theater.

Strikingly, some in the media immediately leapt to the conclusion that the shooter was a Tea Party member motivated by conservative, anti-government ideology, despite distinct parallels with shootings in Aurora, CO, and elsewhere – shootings committed by individuals who were mentally unstable.

Ironically, the media wanted to ignore the mental instability of this shooter and call him a conservative, while ignoring the Islamist motivation of the Chattanooga shooter and ascribe mental illness as the source of his rampage. (In what way is a movie theater is connected to the government?)

Instead of addressing the shooter’s mental illness and previous outbursts of violence (and seeking ways to prevent their escalation to mass violence), the Left, again, targeted guns.

Comparisons and Contrasts

All three attacks were acts of evil.

Only two were acts of terrorism. The first was an extremely rare instance of white supremacy, while the second falls into a pattern of Islamic jihad which is all too prevalent overseas and increasing here in our nation’s homeland. In both instances, the terrorists committed terrorism to pursue an ideological agenda.

Madness (not ideology) was at the heart of the third attack.

 

Date City/State Killed Injured Perpetrator
6/19/15 Charleston, NC 9 1 White supremacist
7/18/15 Chattanooga, TN 5 2 Islamic jihadist
7/23/15 Lafayette, LA 2 9 madman

 

All three killers obtained guns legally[11] (though at least one lied on his form and another apparently procured a weapon through Obama’s Fast and Furious program).

All three shootings occurred in gun-free zones (even crazy people have enough sense to go to gun-free zones.)

In all three instances, the knee-jerk first response from the Left was: gun control.[12] More gun control would not have prevented any of these events from transpiring. (Hint: it’s not a matter of physical objects – guns – but a matter of the heart.)

Practical solutions to minimize these sorts of mass shootings include the proper enforcement of existing laws, adequately addressing mental health issues and ensuring those issues are linked to background checks, detecting those who are radicalized to Islamist ideology, and countering Islamic ideology with the truth.

Moreover, a dynamic counter-terrorist strategy overseas would dramatically decrease the threat of domestic terrorist attacks committed by jihadists. Col. Oliver North argues that the success of ISIS overseas breeds recruitment here in America and the West, and, therefore, “If you want to stop this problem right away, decapitate [the snake]. No safe haven for any of them”[13]

Not to be neglected, we should all beseech our Father in heaven who was worshiped by those believers in Charleston – the source of their forgiveness – to protect us and bring sanity back to our nation. Let us be a people responsive to God’s will as He searches our hearts.

Update: Nashville, TN. An off-duty police officer prevented a deranged man from committing what at first appeared to be attempted mass murder in yet another mall movie theater – in a gun-free zone – on August 5, 2015.

Update: Roanoke, VA. Vester Lee Flanagan II (aka Bryce Williams) executed two former colleagues and issued a political manifesto – an act of terrorism by a madman – on August 26, 2015.

Update: Roseburg, OR. Chris Harper Mercer conducted a massacre at the Umpqua Community College (UCC) campus, following in the footsteps of Flanagan. Multiple reports show that he deliberately targeted Christians. We will hear little about this assault against Christians by a mentally disturbed, half-black immigrant – a profile which does not fit the preferred media narrative.

The President’s call for “common-sense gun control” should be heeded by the Left! Make it easier for law-abiding citizens to get guns, aggressively tackle the mental health issues related to gun violence, arm security personnel, and reconsider the efficacy of “gun-free zones.”

Endnotes:

[1]               See “King’s Dream Realized (sort of)” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-76.

[2]               See “Our Daddy: God is Our Refuge” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-aE.

[3]               See “Terrorism Redefined” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-S.

[4]               See “Left Politicizes Las Vegas Shootings” at http://t.co/dPKxyOnxsH.

[5]               See “CPAC: Alleged Christian Terrorists” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-8I. More accurately, critics claim that these terrorists are Christians committing terrorist acts in the name of Christ.

[6]               See “’Right-Wing Terrorists’ or Muslim Jihadists” at http://t.co/JriDYcKizd.

[7]               See “OK Beheading? Must be Tea Party Christians!” at http://t.co/JeE8yIckeC.

[8]               See “Right-Wing Islamic Terrorists” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-6V.

[9]               See “Islamists Fear Cartoons” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-9Z.

[10]             See “Islamists Fear Cartoons” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-9Z.

[11]             “This means [John Russell] Houser joins Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez (Chattanooga), Dylann Roof (Charleston), Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi (Garland), Jared and Amanda Miller (Las Vegas), Elliot Rodger (Santa Barabara), Ivan Lopez (Fort Hood 2014), Darion Marcus Aguilar (Maryland mall), Karl Halverson Pierson (Arapahoe High School), Paul Ciancia (LAX), Andrew John Engeldinger (Minneapolis), Aaron Alexis (DC Navy Yard), Tennis Melvin Maynard (West Virginia), Wade Michael Page (Sikh Temple), James Holmes (Aurora theater), Jared Loughner (Tucson), Nidal Hasan (Fort Hood 2009), Jiverly Wong (Binghamton), Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech), Naveed Haq (Seattle), and Mark Barton (Atlanta) on the list of attackers and alleged attackers who acquired their guns via background checks.” – see http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/07/24/atf-john-russell-houser-purchased-his-pistol-legally/.

[12]             See “Let’s Stop the Insanity Over Gun Violence” at http://wp.me/p4scHf-1o.

[13]             Col. Oliver North, On the Record, FNC, 7/31/15.

Our Daddy: God is Our Refuge

God’s glory shines in the darkest of times. Last week, darkness descended for a moment in an historic black church in Charleston, NC, when nine children of our Father were killed by a white supremacist.

Those victims of a madman are now in Paradise. Jesus was with them in Emanuel A.M.E. Church and they are with Him now in heaven.

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All of the victims’ families have forgiven the killer. In his sermon at Emanuel AME Church, Rev. Norvel Goff explained, “A lot of people expected us to do something strange and to break out in a riot. Well, they just don’t know us. We are people of faith.”

Quoting the prophet Isaiah, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper,” Goff proclaimed, “The doors are open at Emanuel this Sunday, sending a message to every demon in Hell and on Earth that no weapon, no weapon … shall prosper!”

People of faith, hope, and love.

In his message, given on Father’s Day, Goff noted that we are children of our heavenly Father, who is a God of love, and that we, as His children, are called to be a people of love.

The psalmist wrote, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Yesterday, while singing David Crowder’s worship song, “How He Loves,” his lyrics struck anew: “When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are.”

All we are and all we do is for God’s glory and our Father’s greatest joy is that His glory shines forth in us.