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Today former gymnast Rachael Denhollander had 40 minutes to address the court—and her abuser—during the sentencing hearing of Larry Nasser, the former Team USA gymnastics doctor who molested her 16 years ago at his Michigan State University clinic.

What she said directly to the man—who gratified himself off of her innocence and abused countless other girls in a malicious and manipulative way—is an incredible testimony to the grace and justice of Jesus Christ.

(At the 25:40, she addressed Nassar directly and powerfully spoke the gospel into his life. But the previous 25 minutes are essential background for her conclusion, and they contains lessons for all of us, inside and outside the church, to prevent and report sexual abuse.)

You can read the entire transcript at CNN. Here is an excerpt:

You have become a man ruled by selfish and perverted desires, a man defined by his daily choices repeatedly to feed that selfishness and perversion. You chose to pursue your wickedness no matter what it cost others and the opposite of what you have done is for me to choose to love sacrificially, no matter what it costs me.

In our early hearings. you brought your Bible into the courtroom and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God himself loving so sacrificially that he gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin he did not commit. By his grace, I, too, choose to love this way.

You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen this courtroom today.

If the Bible you carry says it is better for a stone to be thrown around your neck and you throw into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.

The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.

I pray you experience the soul crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me—though I extend that to you as well.

Throughout this process, I have clung to a quote by C.S. Lewis, where he says:

My argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how did I get this idea of just, unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he first has some idea of straight. What was I comparing the universe to when I called it unjust?

Larry, I can call what you did evil and wicked because it was. And I know it was evil and wicked because the straight line exists. The straight line is not measured based on your perception or anyone else’s perception, and this means I can speak the truth about my abuse without minimization or mitigation. And I can call it evil because I know what goodness is. And this is why I pity you. Because when a person loses the ability to define good and evil, when they cannot define evil, they can no longer define and enjoy what is truly good.

When a person can harm another human being, especially a child, without true guilt, they have lost the ability to truly love. Larry, you have shut yourself off from every truly beautiful and good thing in this world that could have and should have brought you joy and fulfillment, and I pity you for it. You could have had everything you pretended to be. Every woman who stood up here truly loved you as an innocent child, real genuine love for you, and it did not satisfy.

I have experienced the soul satisfying joy of a marriage built on sacrificial love and safety and tenderness and care. I have experienced true intimacy in its deepest joys, and it is beautiful and sacred and glorious. And that is a joy you have cut yourself off from ever experiencing, and I pity you for it.

For the rest of the post…

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“Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a  Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life should be and try to realize it. But God’s grace  speedily shatters such dreams.” 

Dietrich BonhoefferLife Together26.

Source: the past is a good teacher…resources for talking about neo-Naziism

I’ve wrestled with whether/what to write about the events of Charlottesville over the weekend. I hurt with those targeted by the hateful rhetoric of the neo-nazis, white supremacists, and fascists who gathered in Charlottesville. I hurt with my friends who call Charlottesville home, and have seen their home invaded by an uninvited, unjustified turmoil. And […]

via neo-nazis and cheap grace — Thoughts

on the journey to follow Christ in a messy world

This Sunday is a big day. This coming Sunday my second child will start going to the Jr High youth group at church. My son has been in youth group for a couple of years now, and now my oldest daughter has also reached youth group age. So starting this coming Sunday, I will officially have 2 kids involved in the Student Ministry!

I have always loved Student Ministry; my youth pastor was one of the biggest influences in my life, I had some incredible experiences and memories from my years in youth group, and for 13 years I was a youth pastor myself…so I have a huge passion for Student Ministry. And because of my love for Student Ministry, I am excited for my daughter to begin this next chapter in her life journey.

But…

While I’m excited, I’m also struggling. I’m not struggling so much with the fact that…

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The Reformation, plus the following century and more, saw the destruction of religious paintings, sculptures, books. Colour and music were removed and our churches went sepia as opposed to the previous full colour versions. The statues above are a very recent addition to St Alban’s Cathedral, filling gaps left by that Reformation damage. These martyrs […]

via Seven Martyrs — Travel with Intent

A thoughtful read!

t2gospel

ISIS CRUCIFIXION

When 22 people died outside a concert hall in Manchester, England, the media coverage was wall to wall.  The cry went up that something must be done! Journalists followed the investigation.  Press briefings were scheduled regularly. With broken hearts, we pored over color photographs of the victims, many of them only children, and we listened to bystanders describe their horror.  The world grieved as the story unfolded for a week.

Five days later, 29 Christians in Egypt died when terrorists attacked their bus. Forty-two others were seriously injured and the assassins got away.  That story vanished in less than 48 hours.  No color photos.  No interviews with authorities. No tragic details.

Here’s what you probably never heard.  The Christian group of parents, grandparents, and children were traveling in two buses to pray at a monastery. Their vehicles were stopped by terrorists outside the town of Minya.  After the buses were…

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The First Ten Words by Rich Larson

Chris Cornell, 1964-2017

Chris Cornell died early Thursday morning. His band Soundgarden played a show on Wednesday night at the Fox Theater in Detroit. Two hours after the show ended, he was gone.

For two days, I’ve been working on a piece to pay tribute to him, and it’s been a struggle. Usually when I have a problem like this it’s because I’m staring at a blank screen trying to figure out what I want to say. That’s not the problem this time. The problem is I have way too much to say.

I’m not going to sit here and claim to have been a huge fan of Soundgarden. I didn’t dislike them, I just had to take them in small doses. I was a fan of Cornell. I love “Seasons,” the solo song he had on Cameron Crowe’s movie, Singles. It’s a droning acoustic song about isolation and the…

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To every Youth Pastor and Adult Leader serving in Student Ministry… For nearly 14 years I was in full-time ministry as a Youth Pastor. Being a Youth Pastor was my passion and calling…st…

Source: An open letter to Youth Pastors and Adult Leaders…from a former Youth Pastor

And so, next Tuesday the United States will elect a new president. Our choices this year are abysmal, but still, we have to choose. Amongst those of us whom you most read here, I am American, and I will vote for Trump. Why? To be sure, for me, it has been a long and very […]

via Bonhoeffer’s Dirty Hands and the Election — All Along the Watchtower

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