The Most Creative Act

Forgiveness JS

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No Reason to Quit

blank square233081 copyWe need not despair
even in our worst…
our failures are forgiven…
[the] only fatal thing
is to sit down content
with anything less
than perfection.
      –C. S. Lewis

Responding to Grace

blank squareRoad Home-744913 C copyThe only legitimate
and genuine answer
to the unconditional
Yes in which
God forgives us
is an equally
unconditional
human Yes.

–Karl Barth

The prophet and the prostitute

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Gomer was always good company — a little heavy with the lipstick maybe, a little less than choosy about men and booze, a little loud, but great at a party and always good for a laugh. Then the prophet Hosea came along wearing a sandwich board that read “The End Is at Hand” on one side and “Watch Out” on the other.

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The first time he asked her to marry him, she thought he was kidding. The second time she knew he was serious, but thought he was crazy. The third time she said yes. He wasn’t exactly a swinger, but he had a kind face, and he was generous, and he wasn’t all that crazier than everybody else. Besides, any fool could see he loved her. Give or take a little, she even loved him back for a while, and they had three children, whom Hosea named with queer names like Not-pitied-for-God-will-no-longer-pity-Israel-now-that-it’s-gone-to-the-dogs so that every time the roll was called at school, Hosea would be scoring a prophetic bull’s-eye in absentia. But everybody could see the marriage wasn’t going to last, and it didn’t.

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While Hosea was off hitting the sawdust trail, Gomer took to hitting as many night spots as she could squeeze into a night, and any resemblance between her next batch of children and Hosea was purely coincidental. It almost killed him, of course. Every time he raised a hand to her, he burst into tears. Every time she raised one to him, he was the one who ended up apologizing.

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He tried locking her out of the house a few times when she wasn’t in by five in the morning, but he always opened the door when she finally showed up and helped get her to bed if she couldn’t see straight enough to get there herself. Then one day she didn’t show up at all.

Hosea & Gomer 3He swore that this time he was through with her for keeps, but of course he wasn’t. When he finally found her, she was lying passed out in a highly specialized establishment located above an adult bookstore, and he had to pay the management plenty to let her out of her contract. She’d lost her front teeth and picked up some scars you had to see to believe, but Hosea had her back again and that seemed to be all that mattered.

He changed his sandwich board to read “God Is Love” on one side and “There’s No End to It” on the other, and when he stood on the street corner belting out…

How can I give you up, O Ephraim! How can I hand you over, O Israel! For I am God and no mortal, The Holy One in your midst. (Hosea 11:8-9)

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Nobody can say how many converts he made, but one thing that’s for sure is that, including Gomer’s, there was seldom a dry eye in the house. (Hosea 1-3; 11)

–Frederick Buechner

Hope, faith and love

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Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime;
Therefore, we are saved by HOPE.

Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense
in any immediate context of history;
Therefore, we are saved by FAITH.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.
Therefore, we are saved by LOVE.

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint
of our friend or foe as from our own;
Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love
which is forgiveness.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Published in: on 01/02/2015 at 3:02  Leave a Comment  
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Gospel-shaped lifestyle

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Since believers have been forgiven,
they will forgive.
Since they have received good for evil,
they will repay evil with good.
Since, when they were enemies of God,
God loved them,
they will love their enemies.

–Jürgen Moltmann

Whispering forgiveness

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This is the gospel of grace. A God, who out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross and died whispering forgiveness on us all.

–Brennan Manning
The Ragamuffin Gospel

Forgiveness confirmed

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Let no one mourn
that he has fallen
again and again;
for forgiveness has risen
from the grave.

–John Chrysostom
(c. 347 – 407)

The dream come true

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Forgiveness is the answer
to the child’s dream
of a miracle by which
what is broken is made whole again,
what is soiled is made clean again.

Dag Hammarskjold
(1905-1961)

Published in: on 04/02/2014 at 22:39  Leave a Comment  
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Forgiveness

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To receive forgiveness
means to obtain a new future,
[that] my baggage
is taken off my back,
that another has picked it up
and bears it for me.

–Helmut Thielicke

Published in: on 02/26/2014 at 17:07  Leave a Comment  
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He seeks to release us

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Of course, in our incomplete world God’s gentle offer and demand press upon us as fearful things, almost threatening. But God’s offer and demand are neither fearful nor threatening. God in his gentle love longs to set us free from the prison we have stumbled into—the loveless prison where we refuse both the offer and the demand of forgiveness. We are like a frightened bird before him, shrinking away lest this demand crush us completely. But when we eventually yield—when he corners us and finally takes us in his hand—we find to our astonishment that he is infinitely gentle and that his only aim is to release us from our prison, to set us free to be the people he made us to be.

But when we fly out into the sunshine, how can we not then offer the same gentle gift of freedom, of forgiveness, to those around us? That is the truth of the resurrection, turned into prayer, turned into forgiveness and remission of debts, turned into love. It is constantly surprising, constantly full of hope, constantly coming to us from God’s future to shape us into the people through whom God can carry out his work in the world.

–N. T. Wright
Surprised by Hope

He calls your name

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The devil knows
your name but calls you
by your sin.
God knows your sin
but calls you
by your name.

–Ricardo Sanchez

Published in: on 01/28/2014 at 7:24  Leave a Comment  
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No matter how far out to sea

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Why do we swim away from Him in our times of need? I believe it is because of the fact that we may not think He will forgive us. Maybe you believe that you have done to much. Maybe ran your bill up more than you can pay. But I’m here to tell you that no matter how far you have gone out to sea the Lord will not leave you. No matter how much you hurt the Him, He still loves you.

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If you are thinking right now that you can’t go to the Lord with something, think again. He went to the cross for us so He could be there when we need Him the most. Go to Him with what you need. Jesus is the life guard that will brave the currents and will go after you no matter how deep or how cold the water is.

–Tony Rhoda

Compelling beauty

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We are compelled and intrigued to follow Jesus simply because we cannot take our eyes off of Him…

It is the beauty of Christ
that compels us.

Something about the love of God in Christ, where people can’t help but be healed, where injustice can’t help but be exposed, where forgiveness and reconciliation can’t help but happen, where anger subsides, where jealousy dies, where we truly see one another as distinct and unique expressions of God, where war doesn’t make sense, where poverty is impossible.

–Scott Savage

Unable to answer

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So far from being able
to answer for my sins,
I cannot even answer for
my righteousness!

–St. Bernard of Clairvaux
(1090 – 1153)

Published in: on 09/19/2013 at 4:15  Leave a Comment  
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The only punishable offence

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Bookkeeping is the only punishable offence in the kingdom of heaven. For in that happy state, the books are ignored forever, and there is only the Book of life. And in that book, nothing stands against you.

There are no debit entries
that can keep you out of the clutches
of the Love that will not let you go.

bookeepingThere is no minimum balance below which the grace that finagles all accounts will cancel your credit. And there is, of course, no need for you to show large amounts of black ink, because the only Auditor before whom you must finally stand is the Lamb — and he has gone deaf, dumb, and blind on the cross. The last may be first and the first last, but that’s only for the fun of making the point: everybody is on the payout queue and everybody gets full pay. Nobody is kicked out who wasn’t already in, the only bruised backsides belong to those who insist on butting themselves into outer darkness.

For if our world
could have been saved
by bookkeeping,
it would have been saved
by Moses, not Jesus.

The law was just fine. And God gave it a good thousand years or so to see if anyone could pass a test like that. But nobody did — when it became perfectly clear that there was “no one who was righteous, no even one” (Rom. 3:10; Ps. 14:1-3), that “both Jews and Gentiles alike were under the power of sin (Rom. 3:9) — God gave up on salvation by the books. He cancelled everybody’s records in the death of Jesus and rewarded us all, equally and fully, with a new creation in the resurrection of the dead.

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And therefore the only adverse judgment that falls on the world falls on those who take their stand on a life God cannot use rather than on the death he can. Only the winners lose, because only the losers can win: the reconciliation simply cannot work out any other way . . . the kingdom of heaven is for everybody; hell is reserved only for the idiots who insist on keeping nonexistent records in their heads.

Robert Farrar Capon
Kingdom, Grace, Judgment
(emphasis added)

The heart of every virtue

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If love is the soul of Christian existence, it must be at the heart of every other Christian virtue. Thus, for example, justice without love is legalism; faith without love is ideology; hope without love is self-centeredness; forgiveness without love is self-abasement; fortitude without love is recklessness; generosity without love is extravagance; care without love is mere duty; fidelity without love is servitude.

Every virtue is an expression of love.

No virtue is really a virtue unless it is permeated, or informed, by love.

–Richard P. McBrien

A change of residence

Run down house

All the clutter that, like decrepit bachelors, we have allowed to pile up in the house of our living, all the hates, the lies, the lusts, and the lunacies – the whole lifetime’s accumulation of irretrievable mistakes – has been forgiven, absolved, put away, carted off.

If then we accept that absolution, that housecleaning that is a house-removal – and if we take up residence in the clean emptiness of Jesus’ death – we will have his life and have it abundantly. But if we try to hang onto the old house of our living we will have only hell . . . To go back to that life is to go back to nothing.

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The only real dwelling we have now is the Father’s house of many mansions: hell is simply the stupid pretense that nowhere really would be a nicer place to spend eternity.

–Robert Farrar Capon
Kingdom, Grace, Judgment

Forgiving the inexcusable

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To be a Christian means
to forgive the inexcusable
because God has forgiven
the inexcusable in you.

–C. S. Lewis

Joy and danger

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Forgiveness of sins,
ought to make you rejoice;
this is the very heart of Christianity,
and yet it is a mighty dangerous
thing to preach.

–Martin Luther
Table Talk

Something to forgive

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Martin Luther’s close friend was Philipp Melanchthon, author of the Augsburg Confession. Melanchthon was a cool man where Luther was fervid, a scholar as opposed to a doer, and he continued to live like a monk even after he had joined the German Reformation . . . One day Luther lost patience with Melanchthon’s virtuous reserve. “For heaven’s sake,” he roared, “why don’t you go out and sin a little? God deserves to have something to forgive you for!”

–Phyliss McGinley

Fabulous forgiveness

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[God’s forgiveness] is neither a response to a suitable worthy confession, nor the acceptance of a reasonable apology. Absolvere in Latin means not only to loosen, to free, to acquit; it also means to dispose of, to complete, to finish. When God pardons, therefore, he does not say he understands our weaknesses or makes allowances for our errors; rather he disposes of, he finishes with, the whole of our dead life and raises us up with a new one. He does not so much deal with our derelictions as he does drop them down the black hole of Jesus’ death. He forgets our sins in the darkness of Jesus’ expiration. He finds us, in short, in the desert of death, not in the garden of improvement; and in the power of Jesus resurrection, he puts us on his shoulders rejoicing and brings us home.

–Robert Farrar Capon
Kingdom, Grace, Judgment

Extreme mercy

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There is more mercy
in Christ than
sin in us.

—Richard Sibbes
(1577–1635)

Published in: on 06/12/2013 at 5:17  Leave a Comment  
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Irreversible

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The sad thing about time
is that it flows in one direction
and there are no do-overs.
That’s why God invented
FORGIVENESS.

–Gregory Boyd ‏

Published in: on 06/11/2013 at 6:13  Leave a Comment  
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Faith is rest

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Faith is rest, not toil. It is the giving up all the former weary efforts to do or feel something good, in order to induce God to love and pardon; and the calm reception of the truth . . . that God is not waiting for any such inducements, but loves and pardons of His own goodwill, and is showing that goodwill to any sinner who will come to Him on such a footing, casting away his own poor performances or goodnesses, and relying implicitly upon the free love of Him who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.

—Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
“The Everlasting Righteousness”

The blunder of bookkeeping

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In heaven, there are only forgiven sinners. There are no good guys, no uptight, successful types who, by dint of their own integrity, have been accepted into the great country club in the sky. There are only failures, only those who have accepted their deaths in their sins and who have been raised up by the King who himself died that they might live.

But in hell, too, there are only forgiven sinners. Jesus on the cross does not sort out certain exceptionally recalcitrant parties and cut them off from the pardon of his death.

He forgives the badness of even the worst of us,
willy-nilly; and he never takes back that
forgiveness, not even at the bottom
of the bottomless pit.

Heaven 8

The sole difference, therefore,
between hell and heaven is that in heaven
the forgiveness is accepted and passed along,
while in hell it is rejected and blocked.

In heaven, the death of the king is welcomed and becomes the doorway to new life in the resurrection. In hell, the old life of the bookkeeping world is insisted on and becomes, forever, the pointless torture it always was.

–Robert Farrar Capon
Kingdom, Grace, Judgment
(emphasis added)

Living on forgiveness

How can we ever manage to love unselfishly, to serve humbly and patiently in spite of frustration, if we do not live on God’s forgiveness?”

–Peter G. vanBreemen

The intoxicating discovery

Nothing so liberates
a person from the grip of sin
as the intoxicating discovery
that he is freely accepted
and forgiven.

–John White

Published in: on 12/08/2011 at 7:06  Leave a Comment  
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