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He Asked to Hug the Woman Who Killed His Brother: ‘I Forgive You.’ ‘I Love You.’ ‘Give Your Life to Christ.’

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On September 6, 2018, Amber Guyer—an off-duty patrol officer in Dallas—entered the apartment of 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean. She later said she thought it was her own apartment and mistook Jean for a burglar, shooting and killing him.

One year later, on October 1, 2019, she was found guilty of murder. On October 2, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Botham Jean’s brother Brandt was allowed to give a victim-impact statement, and he addressed Amber Guyer directly.

The result was a beautiful Christian testimony—truly salt and light in a dark and twisted world.

If you truly are sorry, I can speak for myself, I forgive, and I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.

And I don’t think anyone can say it—again I’m speaking for myself—but I love you just like anyone else.

And I’m not gonna say I hope you rot and die just like my brother did, but I presently want the best for you.

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by Diana Chandler, Wednesday, September 11, 2019

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. (BP) — Southern Baptist pastor Jarrid Wilson played games with his son Denham, attended his son Finch’s baseball practice and tweeted encouragement to a struggling alcoholic within hours of reportedly committing suicide late Monday (Sept. 9).

“I took this on Monday evening around 7:30 p.m. at our son’s baseball practice,” Wilson’s widow Julianne wrote in posting a video of Wilson playfully swinging Denham in his arms. “By 11:45 that night, my sweet husband was in the presence of Jesus. I love you, Jarrid.”

Wilson shot himself with a handgun and was transported to the emergency room of Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside, Calif., where he was pronounced dead at 3:57 a.m. local time Tuesday (Sept. 10), the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office told Baptist Press Wednesday. Wilson was 30.

Wilson struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies, he said frequently throughout his ministry.

Wilson’s pastor Greg Laurie of mega Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside announced the death Tuesday on Twitter.

“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not,” Laurie wrote. “At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day…. One dark moment in a Christian’s life cannot undo what Christ did for us on the cross.” Harvest Christian Fellowship began cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2017.

Wilson had been a Harvest associate pastor for 18 months. He and his wife founded the nonprofit “Anthem of Hope” to help those “battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide.”

“Hey friends,” Wilson wrote on the Anthem of Hope Twitter page on the day of his death, “check out this @anthemofhope phone wallpaper in honor of our #YourLifeMatters campaign.”

Five years ago, Wilson served nine months as student pastor of LifePoint Church in Smyrna, Tenn. In social media posts, his former senior pastor Pat Hood and others lamented Wilson’s death.

“Even though we only served with Jarrid a brief time, he left an impression on LifePoint Church and its people,” Hood said on Instagram. “We ask the members of LifePoint Church and friends of the Wilson family to pray for Julianne, the boys and Jarrid’s family during this time.

“It is oftentimes hard to find the words to express our sorrow in times like this,” Hood wrote, “but we are thankful that depression and suicide cannot beat those whose lives are anchored in the death and resurrection of Jesus.”

Wilson’s friend Travis Akers, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and a political commentator, tweeted Tuesday that Wilson was one of the few people who knew of Akers’ battle with alcoholism.

“When I shared about it publicly to perhaps help others, he encouraged and lifted me up,” Akers wrote Tuesday. “This was his reply last night after I went public. That’s the type of person he was. He died moments later.”

Wilson had responded to Akers’ admission of alcoholism, “Proud of you man! What beautiful transparency.”

Wilson’s death coincided with World Suicide Prevention Day Sept. 10. After his death, many social media posts encouraged those considering suicide to get help through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255. Two GoFundMe pages for Wilson, one promoted as a tribute and the other as a memorial fund, had together raised more than $85,000 by 2 p.m. Wednesday.

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by Greg Laurie on Sep 10, 2019

It is with the deepest sadness and shock that I have to report that Jarrid Wilson went to be with the Lord last night.

At a time like this, there are just no words.

The Bible says, “There is a time to mourn.” This is certainly that time.

Jarrid is survived by his wife, Juli, his two sons, Finch and Denham, his mother, father, and siblings.

Jarrid loved the Lord and had a servant’s heart.

He was vibrant, positive, and was always serving and helping others.

Jarrid also repeatedly dealt with depression and was very open about his ongoing struggles.

He wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts.

Tragically, Jarrid took his own life.

Jarrid joined us as an associate pastor at Harvest 18 months ago and had spoken out many times on this very issue of mental health.

Jarrid and his wife, Juli, founded an outreach to help people dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts called “Anthem of Hope.”

Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not.

At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day.

Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most.

One dark moment in a Christian’s life cannot undo what Christ did for us on the cross.

Romans reminds us that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39).

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How would Dietrich Bonhoeffer address gun violence and mass shootings in America? Would be in favor of a gun ban or focus more on the individuals who use guns to murder? ~ Bryan

Clergy protest at Mitch McConnell’s office, demand action on gun violence

By Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) — A group of clergy protested outside Sen. Mitch McConnell‘s office, calling on the Republican Senate majority leader to take action to address gun violence in the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend.
The band of around two dozen faith leaders, who called themselves the Coalition of Concerned Clergy, prayed and challenged what they said was the Senate’s inaction on the issue of gun violence.

Helping lead the Tuesday event was the Rev. Rob Schenck, who serves as president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, a nonprofit organization that addresses social issues from a Christian perspective. He listed a number of possible policies lawmakers could pass to address gun violence, such as universal background checks or “extreme vetting” for people who wish to purchase an assault rifle, but stressed the issue is a moral one.

“As a Christian … we are required to rescue those who are perishing, to come to their aid, and the Bible says if you fail to do it, God will hold you to account,” Schenck, who is also a founding signer of an evangelical Christian pledge to take action on gun violence, told Religion News Service. “That’s our message to the senator today. Maybe he fears the NRA more than God. He shouldn’t.”

Also in attendance was Bishop Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C. A longtime advocate for gun violence prevention, Budde said Congress could pass a number of laws to prevent future bloodshed.

“I am among those who believe weapons of war don’t belong in the hands of civilians,” she said. “We’ve just been lulled into this sense of false helplessness that I find to be one of the greatest manifestations of sin that we need to fight against.”

Speaking to the crowd a few minutes later, Budde compared the scourge of gun violence to the rash of lynchings in America’s past, expressing hope that future generations will recollect mass shootings with disdain and disbelief.

“We will look back on these days and wonder how it was that we could have been so collectively aligned to such a needless proliferation of weapons meant to take human life,” she said.

As they stood outside McConnell’s office, faith leaders read the names of those recently felled during mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the advocacy group Interfaith Alliance, also addressed the gathering.

“Enough thoughts and prayers,” he said. “It is about guns. Guns. Guns. Guns. Guns.”

McConnell, who is reportedly recovering from a fall, was not in his office. But faith leaders presented his staff with a letter, signed by the group, calling for action on gun violence.

“We represent a growing coalition of religious leaders from Christian, Jewish and other traditions who are deeply concerned about the inaction of the Senate when it comes to common sense gun regulation,” the letter reads. “No more words need to be said. What is required now is action that results in effective, measurable legislative outcomes that the president can sign, enforce and report on to the American people.”

It concludes: “We are watching, we are praying, and we are demanding.”

As the demonstrators left, Schenck left a black clergy vestment he called a “stole of mourning” on the floor outside McConnell’s office.

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Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Psalm 37:7-11 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, this weekend, in El Paso and Dayton, we witnessed yet another round of evil-doing madness and life-taking darkness. How long, O Lord, how long before you “cut off” every expression of evil? How long before “the wicked will be no more”?

How much longer is “just a little while“? It’s hard not to fret, Father. When will violence, tribalism, and terror die 1000 deaths? It’s hard not to feel fearful and angry, when back-to-school shoppers experience Walmart as a warzone.

Father, we pray—not in self-righteous judgment, but as your weary children. We long for the Day when perfect peace will replace systemic darkness; when the wolf and lamb will frolic together (Isa. 9:6); when all guns and artillery will become tools for gardening and flourishing (Isa. 2:1-5).

Until that Day, Father, free us from both a thirst for revenge and passive resignation. Make us warriors of peace and agents of hope. Replace our frets and fears with faith and trust. Our labors in the Lord are never in vain. Jesus defeated evil on the cross, and will eradicate it at his return. Hasten that Day, Lord.

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“By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian,” Harris wrote on his Instagram account.

The author of the best-selling I Kissed Dating Goodbye book (written for Christian singles encouraging them to stop dating, which Harris has since redacted) says he has undergone a “massive shift” in his “faith in Jesus.” Harris refers to the shift as a “deconstruction” of his faith, but translates his words for Christian followers by saying “the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’”

Josh Harris ‘Repents’ of Teaching on Sexuality, Harming LGBTQ+ Community

Harris articulates he has spent the last several years “repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few.” He also “repents” of his teaching concerning homosexuality, saying he’s sorry for the hurt he’s caused the LGBTQ+ community through his teaching.

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By Megan Briggs

Joni Eareckson Tada cancer

“For now, we have been spared of more cancer battles. We humbly realize that may well change in the future; but for today, for now, we are rejoicing in those wonderful words from my medical oncologist: ‘all clear!” Eareckson Tada wrote in an update on her health.

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FROM THE PULPIT

FROM THE PULPIT
Rev. Bryan Galloway CONVERGE CHURCH, OMAHA

Throughout the history of our nation, tens of thousands of people have sacrificed their lives to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy in the United States. How often do we think about the price paid for our freedoms? I like how Erma Bombeck put it:

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

On this Fourth of July weekend, I want to make a link between the freedom that we Americans enjoy and the freedom that takes place when we turn to Jesus for salvation. The ultimate freedom in the universe is found in Jesus and Jesus alone. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, wrote these words about his relationship with Jesus Christ:

“My only hope of salvation is in the infinite, transcendent love of God manifested to the world by the death of His Son upon the cross. Nothing but His blood will wash away my sins. I rely exclusively upon it. Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly!”

Have we relied on the death of Jesus on the cross to save us and free us from the consequences of our sins? Romans 6:18 says: having been set free from sin. All of us were slaves to sin. Sin once owned us, but if we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have been freed from it. When we trust Jesus, God’s mercy will flow into our lives and we will be liberated from the power of sin.

 

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