My One Defense

Yesterday I took my contracts exam. Then last evening I went to a large-group Bible study at my church, and on the way home I was listening to the song “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher. Part of the chorus says, “My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need You.” I’ve heard this song many times before, but it struck me in a new way last night.

In any type of law, it’s often wise for a defendant to bring up multiple defenses. You can challenge the factual basis of a claim—stating the other side didn’t prove its burden—or you can raise “affirmative” defenses, justifications, or excuses. Maybe a defendant was justified acting in self-defense Or a defendant who breached a contract should be excused because the task was impossible. There are a variety of ways to defend someone, and good lawyers will often try to put more than one egg in the basket.

Sometimes a lawyer will bring up defenses that don’t even go together, arguing one “in the alternative” of the other. For example, “The defendant didn’t have a duty to care for X person, but if you think think he did have a duty, then he didn’t violate that duty.” or “The contract didn’t say X, but if it did, the defendant should be excused because he made a mistake and never really agreed to it.”

We might think that there is security in multiple defenses, but in truth, an effective defense will get someone acquitted, and a thousand mediocre defenses will just leave someone with higher attorney fees.

So with the law on my mind, I listened to the “Lord, I need You” with fresh appreciation for its truth—we don’t need an alternative defense or backup plan.

Just one will suffice. The One.

And yet so often I live as if I’m waiting in uncertainty for the verdict to be announced. In the worry of “will I be enough?” “Have I done enough?” As if the backup defense is somehow needed. As if my success and good deeds will up my chances with the Judge.

But instead what is required, repentance and faith: “Yes, Lord, I’ve sinned. But I plead not guilty by reason of Jesus’ blood.”

This defense cannot fail. It fully vindicates corrupt hearts headed for eternal death. And it’s always available to all people, no matter the sin, no matter the crime.

~~~

 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

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Future Grace

Have you ever anticipated a person hurting you long before it ever happened? Have you ever anticipated the upcoming need to forgive that person? Jesus did—while we were unborn, while we were still sinners—then He died.

So this is for those—strangers, “enemies,” and the close-to-my-heart ones—who will hurt me someday. In Christ, I’m trying to forgive you today.

~~~

Future grace, I’ll give

‘cause

future grace, I’ll get,

bearing with you today;

tomorrow’s been forgiven

by yesterday’s blood

that every gives me power

to love as I am loved.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all else put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” – Colossians 3:12-14

The Other Side

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the other side.

Why did the Savior take the road to the cross?

To get us to the Other Side.

~~~

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” {Luke 19:10}

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” {1 Peter 3:18a}

It’s Grace

Knock, knock

“Who is it?” I yelled from my corner on the couch.

“It’s Grace.”

“Go away. You must have the wrong address.”

“No, I’m in the exact right place. Please come let me in. At least come open the door.”

“Fine,” I huffed walking over.

“That’s better, isn’t it?” Grace smiles soppily.

“Yeah, as I said before, you have the wrong address.”

“Kelly, you are Kelly. I know you.”

“I’ve literally never seen you before in my whole life.”

“Well then let me introduce myself. I’m Grace. I come bearing gifts.”

I stare. Is this some reality television show or something? I tilt my head to the side. “Um, well nice to meet you, but I don’t need any gifts.”

“But —“

“Really, I don’t deserve anything. I just—well I—I shoplifted a few things earlier—actually that’s only the cherry on top. But you know what, right across the street over there—that beautiful house—there’s a lovely girl who lives there, the sweetest thing you’ll ever mee—“

“I bought this gift for you.”

“Oh, okay.”

“Can I come in?”

“How about you just leave it on the front porch. Is there a gift receipt by chance . . .?”

“Kelly, this gift isn’t some mass-produced, plastic-covered—no, there’s no gift receipt. It’s priceless. But it’s worthless on the front porch. You need to bring it inside and open it up.

“Okay, I understand—it’s just—it’s kind of a mess in here.”

“All the better.”

“If you insist. Come in then. Just watch out for that pile of clothes over there—oh, and the DVDs right there.”

Grace walked in. Her brightly colored clothes brought some new light to a room that frankly would have been better off hiding itself in darkness. She set the package in the center of the floor. The wrapping paper glimmered—silver. It actually looked like silver.

“Well,” Grace gave her soppy smile again. “I think it’s time for you to open it up!”

“I—I don’t think this is right. It doesn’t belong here. It doesn’t belong with me.”

Grace’s smile calmed into a less ecstatic but ever so peaceful look. “A gift is a future belonging.”

“No, but seriously. I’ve lied, cheated, stolen, hated, and—” The tears started to fall.

Grace put her hand on my shoulder briefly then reached down to squeeze my hand. “Just open the box. I promise it won’t let you down.”

Tears now pouring, I did as she said, ripping aside the silver paper to unveil the gift. As I flipped back the sides of the box, a new light seemed to beam in the room. I looked inward. “Is it real?”

“Absolutely.” Grace affirmed.

I reached out to touch it. It felt like hope and it smelled like freedom. “What is it?” I asked.

“Forgiveness.”

Learning to Forgive

Forgiveness yearns to be set free in my heart,
But my flesh is fighting, kicking it down
With a fierce pride and aching vanity
Spirit, crush it, break open the cell doors
That withhold forgiveness from its proper place:
In the light, in my life, in my actions toward others.
Again and again, no it must not go away.
Free it must remain until the utmost;
For the father of forgiveness is love,
And the mother of forgiveness is peace,
So reverse the lock—bind up the hate.
Spirit, permeate my spirit,
So I may move forward with grace.