Forgiving the Unforgivable

“When God alone is with us in the strange, trackless forests of what we really are, there is potential for us to do or say all sorts of unpleasant things. Take heart. Whatever those things might be, he will forgive us, as long as we extend the same courtesy to others.” —Adrian Plass

Forgiving others isn’t a tough as we make it—yes, as we make it. Jesus taught us how—minus a step that we added. To forgive someone isn’t to finally feel good about them, which is a terrible burden of often hopeless, if not disingenuous effort. If we’re waiting to feel good about our offenders, we’ll be waiting a really long time—God never told us to feel good about them. Whenever Jesus taught us to forgive others, He always used the same metaphor. Debt—like keeping a ledger. Jesus’ death in our place erased the ledger of every unplayable penalty we’ll ever owe God—and He did it when we weren’t even likeable—when we were His enemies—objects of His wrath and ungodly. Through Jesus He erased the ledger of our unpayable debt. When the Books are finally opened, they’ll be blank.

And that’s how we forgive our enemies—even the unforgivable. God doesn’t require us to like them, but to discharge their debt against us—yes, they did bad things, but they owe me nothing—not even an apology, forevermore. Like Jesus did to us.

Jesus said: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…” Now ya know.

Be free.

—j

Visiting Revelation’s Churches

Revelation’s Seven Churches—I’m leading a group to visit them next April. You’ve never seen the Book of Revelation until you’ve been there—or the Book of Acts, or Paul’s and John’s and Peter’s letters.

Next April 9-20, 2018 we’ll visit all Seven Churches—Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea—and Colossae, Miletus, Hieropolis, Troas and Troy. Then we go to Greece—Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Thermopylae—finishing in Athens and Corinth. That means Mars Hill, the Acropolis, the Agora, Corinth’s Bema and more.

Come along and I’ll show you—it’s the trip of a lifetime. Here’s the link for more info and to register. It’s called “Footsteps of the Apostles 2018”.

—j

A World of Geldings

“You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive,’ or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity.’ [But] In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” —C.S. Lewis

We all want a better world—in fact we really need a new one. Someday. Until then, the world isn’t the problem, rather it’s the people shaping it, who crave a perfect world while rejecting any perfect, benevolent, loving standard. That’s where Jesus’ followers come in. We aren’t Him, but God is making us to be as much like Him as anyone can in this messy world. He’s often hated—and that means we will be, too—He said so. But in a world of “men without chests” we bring a beating heart of purpose, love and salvation to an increasingly turbulent generation. Until He comes, we are what the world needs—because we bring Him, all of Him, plus nothing.

The world is starving itself. Bring the fruit.

—j

The Mosquito in Your Room

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle [you know nothing about].” —Ian McLaren

We impact every person we meet—there’s no stopping it. When we’re indifferent, people feel it—and often learn it—from us. The same thing is true when we’re kind, compassion and loving—people feel it and learn it—from us. That’s how the world is changed—it’s how Jesus did it and it’s why His impact has traveled so far for so long so powerfully. Walking as He walked Him, even the smallest person has mighty impact. It’s just that big.

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room…” —Bette Reese

Give ’em Heaven.

—j

Thank You for Saving the World

Among the Jews is an old expression, “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”* Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends.” Today we thank God for those men and women of the United States Armed Forces who stood in the obstinate gap between peace and violence and fell defending liberty, virtue and faith—defending us—and even saving the world.

Well done.

 

*Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5; Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 37a

The Most Dangerous Thing in the World

“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.” —C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

People need God’s love and He chose us to lavish it on them. But it isn’t safe—it breaks hearts and leaves scars—such love got Jesus killed. It’s not bottled up among safe friends and it can’t coexist with self-protection. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Now that’s risky.

Go make someone’s day—perhaps even that of your enemy.

—j

Irrationalists

“Christians often explain away miracles for the sake of being rational about things… They acknowledge the God Who Created Everything, but find it difficult believing that this same God would occasionally suspend the natural laws of His own creation for the sake of His glory, because it’s ‘not rational’.” —Zachary Jason McCarl

Pray big—rationality not required. God still parts seas.

—j