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'Freedom = Forgiven and Forgiving'
by Travis Wiginton
04/26/07
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Hallmark showed a great movie the other night entitled:
"Crossroads: A Story of FORGIVENESS".
(In case you missed it, we HIGHLY recommend it!!
Usually the Hallmark movies are available @ all Hallmark Stores)

It was about a tragedy in a family who by God's Grace and Guidance...
brought Triumph out of Tragedy!
Bruce Murakami's wife and little daughter were killed in a tragic car wreck.
Two teenaged boys were drag-racing and one car hit Cindy's car...
killing Cindy (45) and Chelsea (11).

The teenaged driver (19) received 30 yrs. for Vehicular Manslaughter.
The teenager and his family were grieved over the whole incident.
Over the course of the trial, Bruce decided to forgive the boy...
asking the court to reduce the sentence, which they did.

Bruce and the teenager began speaking to High Schools across the U.S....
hoping the boy's message about driving too fast would reach other teenagers.
At the same time, the message of Bruce's FORGIVENESS was being heard everywhere!

A note of interest here:
We knew a precious couple named Sadaichi and Georgia Murakami when Travis was pastoring Waikoloa Baptist on the Big Island.
La Moyne sent their daughter an e-mail about the Hallmark movie.
Her Dad, Sada, was Travis' golfing buddy until Sada and Georgia moved to Oahu.

Sharen (Murakami) Serikaku wrote back, stating that they knew Bruce and Cindy Murakami as they were in the same church in Kaneohe yrs. ago.
In fact, Sharen said that Cindy was a lovely lady who gave a bridal shower for Sharen's daughter, Wendy, before her marriage.
Sharen remembered when Bruce and Cindy adopted Chelsea from Korea as a baby into their family and said that she was SO loved by her parents and two brothers!
Then Sharen said, "It is amazing how connected we all are."

As we read further about Bruce and his family, we learned that we really ARE connected in several ways!

Our youngest son Kyle, was born on July 4, 1961 in Seoul, Korea...
while we were serving as missionaries there.
Bruce's little daughter Chelsea, was also born on July 4th, 1987 in Seoul, Korea!

If you would like to read further about Bruce's Journey to FORGIVENESS...
hopefully you can click on this site:
http://www.touchedby.com/article_sptimes_062101.htm

Bruce's testimony via that movie prompted this paper on 'FORGIVENESS'.

Let's look at FORGIVENESS in God's Word.

We see the bondage that is present WITHOUT Forgiveness...
and we see the FREEDOM that comes with FORGIVENESS.

There are 3 kinds of FORGIVENESS that are necessary:
1) Forgiveness FROM God is necessary for salvation and eternal life.

2) Our Forgiveness FOR OTHERS who have wronged us....
is necessary to be free from bitterness.

3) Forgiveness OF OURSELVES:
Putting the past behind...
accepting ourselves as we are...
and going forward in New Life with Jesus.

Forgiveness SHOULD be as natural for the Christian...
as it is un-natural for the non-Christian!

We have experienced Christ's Forgiveness for ALL of our past.
That is WHY He died on the Cross!

This is the ONLY reason that our sins can be forgiven...
for Jesus paid the full penalty on the Cross.
John 8:36:
"Therefore if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed".

We witnessed this kind of FORGIVENESS this week here in Oklahoma....
as well as many stories of FORGIVENESS during the OKC bombing years ago.

Lauren McCain (who grew up in Shawnee, Ok) was one of those killed at Virginia Tech last week.

Though her Dad is stationed with the Navy in Virginia, her funeral was held in Shawnee yesterday where her families' roots are.

From the very beginning, her Dad said that he had already FORGIVEN the shooter and that he and his family were going to focus on the life of his precious daughter...
and the 31 others whose lives were taken too soon!!
Her Dad also stated that he and his family were praying for the family of the shooter....
as he felt that their pain was probably almost unbearable.

The Scripture supports this kind of FORGIVENESS:
I John 1:9:
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins...
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".

Psalms 51:17:
"A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."

Psalms 103:12:
"As far as the East is from the West...
so far hath He removed our transgressions from us."

Hebrews 8:12:
"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins...
and their iniquities will I remember no more."

Matthew 6:14-15:
"For if you forgive their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you forgive not their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive YOUR trespasses."

Remember....your forgiveness is 'free', but not cheap!
It cost God, His Only Son's death on the Cross!

John 8:11:
"Jesus said to the adulterous woman....
'Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more."

Matthew 18:21-22:
"Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?
Till seven times? Jesus said unto him...
'I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven!"

Here are some statements on FORGIVENESS that I hope will lift your spirits....
and through you, help to lift other's spirits!

1) Only God can forgive sin....and only God can save a person!

2) Forgiving others is a condition of forgiveness.

3) God keeps on forgiving us....so WE are to keep on forgiving others!

4) Forgiveness is necessary for reconciliation between people.

5) Repentance and confession are conditions for forgiveness.

CONCLUSION:
People will never be 'holy and whole'...'healthy and happy' without FORGIVENESS.
If someone does not forgive you, let it make you better....and not bitter!
The Cross of Christ really becomes redemptive when the principle behind that Cross....
becomes the rule of the believer's heart.

This kind of Cross is more than an emblem, decoration or jewelry!!

The poet said:
'And in the garden secretly
And on the Cross on high
Christ should teach His brethren
And inspire to suffer and to die.'

Our world has become a neighborhood....but not a brotherhood.
It can become a brotherhood ONLY through experiencing God's FORGIVENESS....
and letting Christ live through us via His Spirit to help us LIVE FORGIVENESS!

It was SO interesting that while we were sitting here typing up this paper last evening, we rec'd a phone call from a friend in Oregon. Nancy and her husband, Bob are involved in Prison Ministry, so she was checking with us about a friend of our's from Maui, who has been in prison for many years. We talked about 'how' to reach out to people and their families. So many of the families who have loved ones in prison, feel unable to share their situation with ANYONE, so they suffer the pain and feel so isolated.

I told Nancy about a friend of our's who said that when they were going through a very difficult time while their son was in prison, she finally reached out to a family member...needing to talk with SOMEONE!

The response from that person "Well, no child of MINE would ever do anything like that!" caused our friend to crawl back into a shell, not wanting to ever again share her need for support and understanding!

Nancy said that she has become 'pen pals' with a couple of men on death row...
trying to help them understand that Christ died for them...
and that even if there is not FORGIVENESS on earth, they CAN have FORGIVENESS from Him!

When Travis was teaching school in Amarillo, Texas before we married, he and another teacher (Bob Patton) became good friends and Bob later was one of the Groomsmen in our wedding.
We probably don't talk with Nancy or Bob but maybe twice a year, so we found it so interesting that she would call us on the very day that we were sitting at the computer, writing about FORGIVENESS!

During these past 132 articles, we have been AMAZED at how God gives us 'underlinings' that Travis is on the 'right track' concerning what God wants him to share.

In 'Our Daily Bread' devotional for today, it mentions FORGIVENESS!

Four different times on 'American Idol' last evening, the word FORGIVENESS was mentioned!

We've been watching that show because one of the contestants, Phil Stacey, is from Shawnee, Ok. where his father-in-law pastors.

Interesting that the shooting victim we mentioned earlier, Lauren McCain's funeral was held in Shawnee yesterday.

Shawnee is about 40 miles east of where we live....
and is the home of Oklahoma Baptist University.
It's not a large town, but has rec'd some deserved positive news lately!

How we praise God for His daily guidance as we prepare these articles!!!!

FORGIVENESS is spiritual, but may also need to be practical.
Reconciliation is the main fruit of FORGIVENESS, but retribution may need to be also.
Remember Zaccheus after redemption (vertical FORGIVENESS from God)....
there was horizontal FORGIVENESS to others he had wronged. (Luke 19:1-9)

Whatever it takes, give them Jesus...and a Christ-like Spirit and actions!

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Matt. 7:12)
"To err is human.....to FORGIVE is Divine"


If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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