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Forgiveness And A Hug For His Brother’s Murderer

If you haven’t seen this anywhere else, watch it now.
If you have seen it, watch it again.
From the FOX 10 Phoenix Youtube page where this is posted:

A former Dallas police officer was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for killing an unarmed man in his apartment, which she said she mistook for her own unit one floor below.
As people outside of the courtroom reacted angrily to the 10-year sentence given to Amber Guyger for killing Botham Jean in his apartment, believing it was too lenient, his brother was allowed to address her directly from the witness stand.
Brandt Jean told Guyger that he thinks his brother would have wanted her to turn her life over to Christ, and that if she can ask God for forgiveness, she will get it.
“I love you as a person. I don’t wish anything bad on you,” he said to the 31-year-old Guyger, before adding, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug?”


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Winning By Losing (via Chad Bird)

The sacraments of modern culture are personal achievements, measured, quantified, compared. But they are not enough to provide a satisfaction that we have connection with eternity. There is no rest, only striving.
The good news is something better than that.
From Chad Bird:

In the kingdom of the almighty number, where the first are first and even the second are last, we remember only the names of those who are the cream of the crop.
In the kingdom of the humble Christ, where the first are last and the last are first, God rememberers even the names of those who sink to the bottom.
For in the church, we win by losing, are humbled to be exalted, receive a name even when lost in anonymity.

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 113.


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The Endless Self-Justifying Life And The Gospel (via J.D. Greear)

Finding security in our ability to successfully construct a life is destructive of relationship because others who do not conform to that from which we derive security detract from our assurance of security.
In the Bible it’s as old as Cain and Abel.
From J.D. Greear.

St. Augustine said that before they sinned, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed because they were clothed in God’s love and acceptance. One of the first effects of sin after the fall was a sense of shame over their nakedness. They had always been naked, but without God’s approval, now they felt naked.
That’s a picture of the human race: We feel exposed, unacceptable, and ashamed. Our whole lives are spent as a quest to re-clothe ourselves. We’re always looking for what sets us apart and makes us “right.” We’re always looking for something to validate us, something to prove that we’ve earned our place in this world.
But apart from Christ, whatever we turn to for our justification becomes a snare.
Worse, it becomes a point of division in our communities—and in the church. If I’m trusting in my parenting to be made right, then I need to be a better parent than you. If I’m trusting in my moral goodness, then I need to present a better picture of holiness than you. If I’m trusting in my group of friends, then I automatically assume that we are the good guys and they are the bad guys.
Thank God justification doesn’t work this way. It is given to us freely as a gift in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul says, “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith” (Romans 3:27 CSB).
The gospel eliminates boasting, not by telling us to stop boasting, but by undercutting the very basis of pride: We aren’t saved by anything we do. We can’t keep the law. We can’t make any claim to success on our own virtue. At our core—at our best—we are a race of miserable failures. There is none righteous, not even one.
In fact, we are so bad, Jesus had to die to save us. And that destroys the basis of pride.

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Failing Into Love (via David Zahl)

David Zahl on grace in marriage from his book Seculosity.

Real love is not something we decide on. Nor is it something we earn. Love is more than something we fall into; it is something we fail into. What sounds like a somewhat more tragic view of life is actually a starting point for compassion, forgiveness, and joy. After all, we stand a better chance of loving our spouse (or neighbour) when we aren’t looking to them to do or be what they cannot do or be.
I think this is close to what the apostle John meant when he spoke of God being love. The love of God, as we seen borne out in the life and death of Jesus Christ, seems to assume from the outset that we are all severely handicapped in our ability to love other people, let alone our Creator. And yet, like a shepherd going after a lost sheep, it persists. It does not insist on proof of lovability but produces it.

David Zahl, Seculosity, Fortress Press, 2019, pg. 37.


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The Gifts Parents Give Their Children That Break Our Hearts (via Sammy Rhodes)

Sammy Rhodes’ book This Is Awkward evokes a lot of familiar emotions as he writes about his own experiences with his father, and the impact those experiences have on his life and relationships with his own children.
Our first gifts to our children are the characteristics they’ve either inherited or learned from us.
And sometimes when we see in them what has come from us it breaks our hearts.
The beginning of our consolation and hope for change is based in a better Father whose love never scars.

A few years ago we were at a wedding in Augusta, Georgia. My daughter was six at the time, old enough to figure out that she loved to dance. As we walked through the doors of the reception, she made a beeline to the dance floor and was by far the first one out there. It’s funny how different your children can be from you. My happy place at a wedding is in the corner with a plate full of food and a beverage in my hand. Hers is the dance floor.
As she was dancing, a few older girls showed up, and they really knew how to dance. And as they started breaking it down, I watched my daughter crumple on the dance floor, eyes burning like lasers through these girls. I could tell she was angry, jealous, and insecure. Later as we climbed into the minivan (I could write a whole other chapter on the shame of owning a minivan) to head home, she was still upset. I asked her what was wrong, doing that thing parents do when they try not to laugh and cry at the same time.
Through gritted teeth, she said, “Those girls. I hate those girls. They’re better dancers than me.” And my heart broke. Not because those girls could dance, but because I saw the same perfectionism I’ve lived with for almost thirty-five years worming its way into the heart of my six- year-old daughter. That perfectionism robs all joy because it fixates you so desperately on your own performance, with the promise that if you can just be perfect everything will be okay. What perfectionism doesn’t tell you is that nothing will ever be perfect, you most of all.
Anne Lamott wrote, “Perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pgs 28-29.


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The First Awkward Moment Ever (via Sammy Rhodes)

The experience of awkwardness and shame is not to be minimised, denied, ignored or, worst of all, hidden. Owning shame is the precursor to experiencing grace.
From Sammy Rhodes:

If you look behind your awkward moments, you will almost always find shame. Shame is exactly what Adam and Eve experienced in the Bible in Genesis 3. After failing in a pretty spectacu— lar way, they were incredibly afraid to meet God, so they covered themselves with fig leaves and hid. It was the first awkward moment in the history of the universe; it was the first walk of shame, too, and it happened to be away from God. It’s hard to know exactly what Adam and Eve were thinking after they realized their sin. They seem to do a good bit of minimizing, blaming, and covering. Instead of going to God in their newly realized nakedness, they tried to handle it themselves. Why? Shame.
Shame, simply put, is the subjective experience of objective guilt. It’s that moment where we know and feel that we’ve done something wrong. It’s always easier to live in shame than in vulnerability, to try to hide and cover ourselves instead of going to God (and others) with our brokenness. Adam and Eve covered their nakedness and hid from God, rather than being vulnerable with him about what really happened. Shame is like the invisibility cloak in Harry Potter, except the reason you don’t want people to see you is that you’re afraid if they really did they would run.

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pgs 5-6.


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Unqualified Grace Is The Only Grace (via Michael Horton and Tolle Lege)

If you’re gathering in Christian worship tomorrow may you do so hearing and experiencing the pure grace of the Gospel.
Anything less is no grace at all.

The blog Tolle Lege quotes Michael Horton:

“The slightest nomism vitiates the gospel. For Paul, grace does not exist on a spectrum. Unlike a dimmer switch, it is binary: ‘grace would no longer be grace’ if works played any role as the ground or instrument of justification (Rom. 11:6).”

–Michael Horton, Justification, Volume 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 2: 124.

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