Saturday, March 21 I had the pleasure of speaking at LIFE 24/7 in Centuria, WI. LIFE 24/7 is a ministry centered around a recovery home for men leaving prison and working to re-enter society. These are guys that have seen some of life’s most difficult situations and are looking to start a new life under the guidance and direction of Jesus Christ.

LIFE 24/7 is the ministry brain-child of Pastor Randy Stone and his wife Pam. The Stone’s grew up in Northwestern Wisconsin and know first-hand the struggles that people in this area have to endure. They also know first-hand what the power of God and the forgiveness of Jesus Christ can do to change a life.

Our evening started with some great Praise and Worship music by Steve Gamble. Steve was part of a locally famous trio on our area during the 70’s. Fashioned somewhat after the style of Peter, Paul and Mary, the Gamble Folk brought those of us in my generation some great music which told the stories of how Jesus Christ can change lives.

Changed lives. That’s what it is all about. John chapter 9 tells the story of a man whose life was dramatically and miraculously changed when Jesus healed him from blindness that had cursed him from birth.

The disciples questioned if it was his sin that caused the blindness or the sins of his parent’s. In the meantime, the Pharisees (substitute church legalists here) were intent on proving that it was Jesus that was the sinner because He performed this marvelous miracle on the Sabbath day, a huge no-no in the culture of that time.

While the discussions and accusations continued to fly, it seems like everyone lost sight (sorry for the bad pun) of the most important thing…everyone that is except the man born blind. To me, verse 25 is the most important verse in the whole story. Here, the man at the center of the controversy tells his testimony in one important phrase. “He replied, ‘Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

And so it goes through history. People will question our past, our motives, our affiliations or our heritage. None of that can replace what Jesus has done for us. Interestingly, the man born blind was cured from his blindness that day, but the ‘seeing’ went away in the darkness of unbelief.

I love how Eugene Peterson paraphrased the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:31-15.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us -who was raised to life for us! – is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? This is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, nor even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; convinced that nothing-nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable- absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:31-35(The Message)

There will be plenty of people who will question who we are, and what we do. Thanks be to the God of Heaven that I am only answerable to my Father and His Son Jesus, who died for me. While the scars of my past will always be there, I can leave that behind and press on towards the mark, all because of the forgiveness offered through Jesus. Say what you want about Jesus, but one thing I know, once I was blind, but now, thanks to Him, I can see.

(From When Grace isn’t enough: Living GRACE-fully with My Past)

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