What is Forgiveness? Here’s a Helpful Lesson I’ve Learned

Some people collect stamps. Some collect antiques. And others, it seems, collect offenses. Ask them what any person has done to offend them and they can rattle off the list. They get historical in a hurry.

What is Forgiveness? Here's a Helpful Lesson I’ve Learned

(Photo by oomph)

After a talk I gave one time, a woman came up to me with a determined look. She asked: “So you’re saying all a person has to do for forgiveness is believe in Jesus Christ—and all their sins are forgiven?”

“That’s what the Bible says, yes—.”

“I can’t accept that,” she interrupted. “Some things just can’t be forgiven.”

I paused and looked into her eyes. “Who has hurt you deeply?” She gave no answer, except for the tears that welled up immediately.

The problem with forgiveness is the debt is real. Someone has taken from us and hurt us deeply. In order to forgive, it feels like we must give even more than has already been taken.

This is hard. Very hard. So, what is forgiveness?

The Hope Quotient

The Hope Quotient: Measure It. Raise It. You’ll Never Be the Same (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2014)

Ray Johnston delivers a positive message with an upbeat voice. His no-frills writing undergirds a powerful principle that surrounds each chapter:

The truth is, the greatest gift you or I can give anyone is hope. — Ray Johnston

After a brief introduction of why we need hope in a world of discouragement, Johnston dives in to seven elements that help bring hope in your life.

Why You’ll Never Find the Bottom of Your Bible

We have thousands of questions on dozens of issues the Bible never addresses. On other topics though, it seems it’s just the opposite. Scripture supplies liberal space to minutiae that seem trivial.

Why You'll Never Find the Bottom of Your Bible

(Photo by Photodune)

Let’s be honest. Have you wondered if we need all the Bible gives us?

  • Take genealogies, for example. Do we really need nine chapters of 1 Chronicles to tell us who begat who? I mean, would our faith fall apart if we didn’t know Hadad begat Bedad?
  • And what about Deuteronomy’s lengthy retelling of the Law?
  • Or even the huge amount of content devoted to repeating the same events of Peter’s visit to Cornelius?

These represent mere samples of what seem like a lopsided emphasis. I mean, if we only have so many verses in the Bible, could we not give a little less to the genealogies and more to, say, how to raise a teenager?

Amazingly, in spite of all the Bible doesn’t tell us, it still remains an inexhaustible book.

You’ll never find the bottom. Here’s why.

Jericho—Joshua’s Battle Continues Today

On the monochrome landscape north of the Dead Sea, a conspicuous green splotch appears at the western edge of the Jordan Rift Valley. “The city of palm trees” exemplifies what we imagine when we picture an oasis.

Jericho—The City of Palms and Pilgrims

(Photo: Palm trees at Jericho. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Jericho’s date palm trees have roots that stretch toward a source of fresh water that has turned a desert into a garden. Visitors to Jericho, or Tell es-Sultan, can see the perennial spring that supported the city for centuries and provided a splendid irrigation system, distributing water to the plain as well as to all travelers in antiquity. Likely, Prophet Elisha purified this spring (2 Kings 2:21).

The “oldest city on earth” also sits as the lowest one—at more than 800 feet below sea level. Jericho owes its existence to the spring, to be sure. But the city also sits at the base of the primary roads that ascended from the Jordan Rift valley up to the Hill Country of Judea. Anyone crossing the Jordan River from the Plains of Moab had Jericho to face.

The walled city stood as a strategic roadblock that no one passing could ignore. Enter Joshua.

Archaeologists agree that the walls came tumbling down, but they disagree when it happened. In this video, Dr. Bryant Wood discusses the facts and confirms the biblical account.

I’m Taking a Break on Labor Day

Here in the United States, today is Labor Day—a national holiday. According to the US Department of Labor:

Labor Day . . . constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions [American] workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

I hope you also have the day off and can enjoy a day with family, in the yard, or with a good book.

(Photo: By Geraint Owen from Llundain/London via Bangor a Caerdydd/Kierdiff. Paradwys. CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo: By Geraint Owen from Llundain/London via Bangor a Caerdydd/Kierdiff. Paradwys. CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Question: What did you do today on Labor Day? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Here’s the Title of My New Book

Not long ago, I asked you to give me your opinion on a title for my new book that I’m writing on the biblical character of Joseph. Many of you gave me your opinion on the options sent by my publisher, Baker.

Well, drum roll . . . here’s the final title:

Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing

Thanks so much for your input! But most valuable to me were the encouraging words many of you gave me in the comments section of that survey post.

I will also ask your opinion when the cover ideas come to me.

My request: Please continue to pray for the writing as I complete the manuscript by October 15! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Tiberias—There’s More to See than Just Hotels

The New Testament never records Jesus visiting Tiberias. However a number of His followers came from there (John 6:23). Today, most of His followers go there to sleep in hotels.

Tiberias Has More to See than Hotels

(Photo: Modern Tiberias. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Mentioned only once in the Bible, the city of Tiberias rested along the western shore of the Sea of Galilee (John 6:23). For this reason the lake sometimes has been called the “Sea of Tiberias” (John 6:1; 21:1). Although Christ may never have passed through Tiberias, He would have seen it many times from the lake.

For most Christians who visit Tiberias today, the city serves as little more than a place to sleep. Modern hotels cling to the northwestern shores of the Sea of Galilee.

But there is more to see in Tiberias today than hotels.

The Greatest Danger of God’s Blessings in Your Life

Sometimes our blessings get piled so high, it’s difficult to see around them. Blessings are ours in abundance—and tempt us to forget God. Of course, this is nothing new.

The Greatest Danger of God’s Blessings in Your Life

(Photo by Photodune)

As the redeemed Hebrew nation anticipated entering Canaan, the Lord issued them an important warning:

When the Lord your God brings you into . . . great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you shall eat and be satisfied. Then watch yourself, lest you forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. —Deuteronomy 6:10-12

Notice God’s emphasis by the repeated phrase: “which you did not.” The blessings His people would receive would come from God’s hand—not from their own wits or wisdom.

Moses warned his people of the greatest danger from God’s blessings: to forget God.

We have that same vulnerability, don’t we?