Convinced

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:38-39


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To Women Who Feel Guilty About Their Abortions

I have purposely been avoiding most of the press and debate surrounding the Gosnell trial. It’s too painful to think about, let alone watch on tv or read in print. I don’t want to drum up controversy. I’m just thinking about women I know who have had abortions and wondering how they are processing this. I want to offer hope to women who feel a sense of guilt over their abortion. To those women, I would like to say:

I know this must be painful. Reliving your own past, revisiting the circumstances that led to your abortion, telling yourself again and again that you did the right thing at the time for yourself and for your baby. Trying not to think about it too much for fear of the reality of your actions hitting and breaking your heart. Crying into your pillow at night, thinking about how old your baby would be right now, and the times you have missed caring for your own. Coming to the realization that the better life you hoped would result from not bringing a child into this world, is not that much better. Wondering if the better life would have been one in which you joyfully embraced motherhood and allowed family and friends to help you as you finished school and worked long hours. Imagining what it would have been like to hold your baby, cuddle him to sleep, watch her take those first steps, cheer him on in football, encourage her in academics. It must be painful to consider what actually happened in that abortion clinic—to you and to your baby.

My heart breaks for you. My heart longs for you to be free from guilt.

The great news is that God is willing to forgive you of this particular sin, but He is willing and able to forgive you of all your sin-past, present and future. In reality, there are many other sins for which we would stand before the Lord as guilty. Jesus died so that we would not have to pay the penalty that we deserve for our sins. When we repent, meaning turn away from a life of sin, and trust that Christ’s death satisfies God’s anger over our sins, then the Lord clears us from the debt of death we owe God for our sin, and makes us new and holy people.

If you’re already a Christian but struggle with the weight of guilt over your sin, remember what Christ has already done for you. Live in the freedom that He purchased for you. Remember that though your sins were like scarlet, Christ has made you white as snow. Pray on behalf of others who are considering the path you have walked. Pray that they would run the other way and trust in the Lord to care for them and their baby.

May this be your comfort, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter” (2 Corinthians 7:10-11).

You may wonder how you could “prove yourself innocent” when you feel so guilty. Three hundred years ago, a pastor named Matthew Henry offered this clarity and encouragement to you who feel the weight of guilt, and to us who don’t want to hold you in condemnation:

“Not that they were innocent, but that they were penitent, and therefore clear of guilt before God, who would pardon and not punish them; and they ought no longer to be reproved, much less to be reproached, by men, for what they had truly repented of.”

May the Lord give you a heart of repentance, and may He give us a heart to care for you in love.

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A Miracle is Like the Swing of a Sword

“Let me say that a miracle is no cute thing but more like the swing of a sword.”
–Reuban Land, main character in Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

I read this wonderfully written book recently and was struck by the author’s ability to summarize and foretell pivotal events in the story through profound statements that capture much more than merely guiding the reader along the plot of a good book. Peace Like a River is a story that is woven from start to finish with the miraculous. Here are some of my favorite “miracle quotes” (in bold) from the story, and how they led me into thinking more about the miraculous in my own life and experiences.

I was sitting in church, listening to a message about God’s righteous anger toward sin, hearing for the first time that I was a sinner upon whom God’s anger rested. The Lord struck me with the sword of the Spirit, His Word. It pierced my soul and blood began to flow. Not my own blood, but the blood of Christ was poured out on me, purifying me from my sin. As Reuben so insightfully understood, “A miracle contradicts the will of earth”. I had been following the course of this world (“the will of earth”), gratifying the cravings of my sinful nature (Eph 2:1-3), not realizing that I was among the walking dead on this earth. Suddenly, the eyes of my understanding became crystal clear, so that I knew without a doubt that I was on the losing side. I was a sinner in need of the saving grace of Christ. Without Him, I’d be eternally lost, without God and without hope in the world.

Then the miraculous happened–Christ saved me! His blood freed me from my sin. I repented of my bold rebellion and turned to face Christ as my Savior and Lord. It was a miracle that catapulted me from mindlessly serving as the enemy’s minion to joyful service as a warrior in the army of God. “No miracle happens without a witness. Someone to declare, Here’s what I saw. Here’s how it went. Make of it what you will.” (Reuben’s sister Swede). Now, armed with the appropriate defenses–the helmet of salvation, belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, and the shield of faith–I stand ready to yield my weapon, the sword of God’s Word, for the salvation of others and for attacking the plots and schemes of the enemy against my own soul. Now I get to be a witness. I get to tell others what I saw God do in my own life. How He saved me when I didn’t even know I was lost. And the same gospel that the Lord used to save me, I have the privilege of proclaiming to others, and hoping to witness the same miracle performed in the heart and life of another.

“People fear miracles because they fear being changed–though ignoring them will change you also” (Swede).

Just recently, a new friend asked me to share my assessment of him as a person. Based on prior conversations we’d had, and on my experiences with others who struggle with the sacrifices that Christ demands of them in following Him–“Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15); “deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt 16:24); “Be holy” (1 Pet 1:15-16); “Do not love the world” (1 John 2:15)–how would I answer such a bold yet vulnerable question? Basically, I responded by saying, “I don’t know you very well, but based on conversations we’ve had, and what I’ve observed, you seem to be a very nice guy. You have a big heart and you have a desire to know and follow God, and that’s great! But you also seem to be afraid of what you may have to give up if God saved you and you became a Christian.”

As soon as I said those words, tears welled up in this young man’s eyes, each teardrop adding up the cost of following Christ. He walked away sorrowful because he was afraid of being changed. But fear of being changed doesn’t stop the process, so I’m praying that even now the Lord would be changing his heart so that he would no longer fear the miracle of salvation, but the Sword would swing his way and he would embrace it.


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Learning to Hate the Sin and Love the Sinner

How can we learn to “hate the sin and love the sinner”? We must remember that we are sinners, and we are loved.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:8

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his
brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his
brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him
to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother
is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness;
he does not know where he is going, because the
darkness has blinded him.”
1 John 2:9-11