Forgiveness of God

Each of Us is that 100th SheepPremium Content

"My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace." Jeremiah 50:6

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the lost sheep and the passage about the good shepherd.

Flock of sheep. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
Luke 15:3-7

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10:11

And most of us have seen the matching artwork, the depiction of a loving, attentive Jesus holding a lamb in His arms.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart... Isaiah 40:11

Yet, there seems to be a disconnection. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jesus loves us; He's our good shepherd. But do we REALLY personalize it? And what exactly would that mean to us?

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You Belong!

The longing to belong is very powerful and foundational to our sense of self. But there is an infinitely greater pull -- Father's. He is constantly seeking us out and calling our heart to his!

"My son, give me your heart." Proverbs 23:26

When we respond to this call it becomes a homecoming. The prodigal came to himself while slopping hogs and experienced a homecoming that he never imagined possible. How about you? Do you know beyond a shadow of doubt that you belong? Don't allow anyone to tell you something else.

Make sure no outsider who now follows God ever has occasion to say, "God put me in second-class. I don't really belong." Isaiah 56:2 Msg

There are religious outsiders who will judge you. Their only agenda is dissuading your journey to Father's heart. As a matter of fact they don't even understand the conversation of the heart. Belonging empowers you to embrace and live in Grace. Belonging is the path to love. And belonging is bigger and louder than the voices of rejection.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means. (Brennan Manning)

Even the darker parts of our journey become a homecoming. In the state of belonging we can truly rest. Read the following scriptures and settle in to belonging.

Is it possible for a Christian to live without sinning?

Is it possible for a Christian to live without sinning?

I could say that I don't sin-but then I would be lying! There is no way that a person could live free of sin. Pride, selfishness, deceit, greed, lack of faith, or lust... all of those things are sin. But, remember, sin is not always what you do wrong; it is also what you fail to do right. Sin includes the needs around you that you ignore: It is the neighbor to whom you have not witnessed, it is the sick friend whose children you have not offered to baby-sit.

The Card File

    This portrays in a vivid way how much Jesus loves us and how much he deserves our love.
    Be encouraged by it and pass it on, God bless!


In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked". I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.

Do You Have a Broken Wing?Premium Content

It is quite probable that someone reading my words this moment is fighting an inner battle with a ghost from the past. The skeleton in one of yesterday's closets is beginning to rattle louder and louder. Putting adhesive tape around the closet and moving the bureau in front of the door does little to muffle the clattering bones. You wonder, possibly, "Who knows?" You think, probably, "I've had it... can't win... party's over."

The anchor that tumbled off your boat is dragging and snagging on the bottom. Guilt and anxiety have come aboard, pointing out the great dark hulks of shipwrecks below. They busy themselves drilling worry-holes in your hull and you are beginning to sink. Down in the hold, you can hear them chant an old lie as they work: "The bird with the broken pinion never soared as high again. . . ."

Allow me to present a case in opposition to these destructive and inaccurate accusers. It may be true that you've done or experienced things which would embarrass you if they became public knowledge. You may have committed a terrible and tragic sin that was never traced back to you. You may have a criminal record or a moral charge or a domestic conflict that, to this moment, is private information.

You may wrestle with a past that has been fractured and wounded by a mental or emotional breakdown. Futile attempts at suicide may add to the previous scar tissue and increase your fear of being labeled "sick" or "nervous." It is possible that you live with memories, covered now by the sands of time, of an illicit relationship or a financial failure or a terrible habit or a divorce or a scandalous involvement. You feel that any one of these things might mar or cripple your reputation if the dirty details ever spilled on the table of gluttonous gossipers.

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Have You Been Quieted in His Love?

There is nothing in our journey quite like being quieted in His love. Have you been? Is this a normal part of your walk with Jesus? All of hell is against this! Fear assaults us daily while stress, anxiety, nervous tension, constant worry and trauma work there <insidious plan in our lives. We cannot quiet in His love if focused on these demons. But we must. It is a non-negotiable daily part of our joy in Him. These demons will flee as we quiet in His love!

There's nothing to fear from evil ever again! God Is Present among You 16 Jerusalem will be told: Don't be afraid. Dear Zion, don't despair. 17 Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he'll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs. 18 The accumulated sorrows of your exile will dissipate. I, your God, will get rid of them for you. You've carried those burdens long enough. 19 At the same time, I'll get rid of all those who've made your life miserable. I'll heal the maimed; I'll bring home the homeless. In the very countries where they were hated they will be venerated. Zephaniah 3:15b-19, The Message

Truly, what marvelous news this is!

Repentance Secures Freedom from ShamePremium Content

Warning: the following will mess you up. Allow Holy Spirit to lead and guide you into all the truth concerning 'repentance'. This is a critical piece of The Message: that we believe the Gospel of Grace!

"The guilt and shame that is always associated with repentance causes this great gift to be, almost universally, thought of in a negative light and resisted rather than embraced as it should be and will be when seen correctly. " (Clark Whitten, Pure Grace - page 98).

"Repentance is the most mis-translated word in the New Testament" (Broudus). It means to change one's mind in light of new truthful information. This is the process by which believers have our minds transformed. When the truth of the finished work of Christ challenges religious mindsets, repentance allows one to embrace the new and discard the old.

By this process we grow up into the fullness of Christ. The mixture gospel taught by the vast majority of evangelicals reduces the glorious gift of repentance to a tool of behavior modification. Truth embraced will always produce freedom and correct Jesus-like thinking! The truth is--Believers are the righteousness of God (In Christ) or we are not righteous at all.

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Addictions - A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel (Book Review)

Addictions - A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel is a book for every Christian. Usually when we hear the word "addiction," our thoughts immediately leap to illegal drugs, alcohol, or nicotine. As the author correctly points out in this book, every Christian faces the temptation of addiction. The difference is some addictions are more acceptable than others. I can be addicted to books for example. Others can be addicted to food, credit cards, a beautiful yard, a hobby, work, or a multitude of other items in God's created order.

Welch rightly calls addictions sin. Addictions reveal a love of self and thus are idolatry. In the practice of them we put ourselves above God. Addictions are sin. This diagnosis will not be acceptable to many in our culture. But it is what we need to hear.

The author shows the pathway by which one can become addicted. More importantly he shows the only true way that slaves to addictions can be freed. Thus this volume is filled with hope for those who are tempted to or are already feasting on a "banquet in the grave."

Redeemed Rebels: A Biblical Approach to Addiction

Sometimes we can catch a glimpse of God's majesty in His providence in such a way that we are left bewildered and in awe all at once. These are sweet moments. That is certainly the case concerning my redemption out of the headlong plunge into depravity and my slavery to drug and alcohol addiction. After my addiction, my wife Candi and I used to ask God and ourselves these questions:

    Why, God?
    Why did you allow me to go that way?
    Why didn't you do something to stop me?
    Why did I lose so much of myself, destroy so much, and come close to losing my life so many times?

Untangling Fear and Anger When AbusedPremium Content

I've had experience with the "or else" fear mentality of anger. Coming from abuse, it was difficult to feel anger and love coexisting simultaneously. Years later, as an adult, it's still been a challenge to untangle the two.

And, in my eating disorder recovery, I've frequently encountered individuals who have also been plagued with the struggle of anger versus love. Most of the time, in talking with young girls and women, if there's ever been a disagreement, they often view it as me "hating" them, all of a sudden. Not true.

Even if/when I'm angry about something, it's not hatred. But, because of the importance subscribed to approval, unless there is an overjoyed, enthusiastic "yes response," rejection, hatred and all manner of negative conclusions are viewed to be the only result.

We have gotten the anger thing quite twisted. Scripture tells us anger will come. How we respond to it is the greater.

Be ye angry, and sin not Ephesians 4:26

Easier said than practiced, I know. But I think a key to it is recognizing anger does not equal hatred/loss of love. We can be angry and love fiercely at the same time.
Someone once said the opposite of love is not hate; it's indifference. Good point.

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