Ministry partners joined with It Is Written to take high school students on a class trip to Moldova. While there, students conducted eye clinics, community service, and Vacation Bible School.
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I received a question recently that didn’t surprise me at all. It was a sincerely-asked and very important question. The answer to the question was very simple. But I’m finding that more and more people need the reassurance that comes from basic Biblical answers to what can be simple yet very challenging questions.
His question was this:
“If you have sinned for a very long time, is God going to forgive your sins after you have confessed your sins?”
Reading that question, it isn’t hard to imagine it was written by someone who is struggling owing to feelings of guilt for sins committed and is under great conviction. It’s easy to imagine this question came from someone who feels bad about poor choices.
Thankfully, the Bible answers the question very succinctly.
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
That’s all there is to it, really.
Although, sin is a tricky thing. It’s not only wrong, and bad, and harmful, but it’s also deceptive. Like someone else’s glasses, sin affects your vision, causing you to see indistinctly. Guilt will cause you to see yourself in a way that God does not.
As bad as sin is–and it’s bad–sin in your life does not cause God to stop loving you, or to refuse to forgive you. Psalm 86:5 says, “But you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive.” Jesus went to great lengths to communicate the importance of forgiveness when He spoke about this to His disciples. He told Peter, “‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:22). While speaking about the way people should extend forgiveness to each other, Jesus is allowing us to see how God extends forgiveness. He does so again, and again, and again, and…
Forgiveness shouldn’t be equated with a free ride. God’s willingness to forgive does not mean that He treats sin lightly. But the reason Jesus came into the world at all is to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). As Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
The good news of the gospel is that God will forgive you, no matter what you have done and no matter how long you have been doing it. “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,” Jesus said in Matthew 12:31.
As basic as the subject is, an enormous amount of people have trouble believing God will forgive them. I know because I meet them. A woman I met once told me that she had been confessing a certain sin “many times a day” for more than fifty years. Do the math. Even if “many” was just “three” times a day, that’s more than a thousand times a year for fifty years. She had confessed a particular sin more than fifty thousand times! I saw her a few days after we spoke, and she told me that the night we talked she had her best night’s sleep in fifty years.
If you’re struggling with your own sinfulness, don’t add to that struggle destructive thoughts about God not being willing to forgive you. He is willing. He will forgive. It’s what He does. Knowing that God is a God of forgiveness does not mean He is not a God of justice. But in God, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10).
As Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
The question isn’t, “Is God willing to forgive me?” The answer to that question was settled thousands of years ago. The more pertinent question is, “Are you willing to be forgiven?” If the answer is yes, face the future with confidence and trust yourself to the forgiveness of a gracious, loving God.
Discoveries have a habit of changing the course of history. Take, for example, a discovery made by Karl Benz. In 1885, he did something no one had ever done before: married an internal combustion engine with a three-wheeled carriage, and the automobile was born. I think we’d all agree that cars have come a long way since that first “horseless carriage” that had a top speed of 10 mph. Little did he know where that discovery would lead!
Fast forward 133 years. In the same city where the multi-billion dollar Mercedes-Benz car company has its headquarters today, some other exciting discoveries are being made.
I recently spent three weeks in Stuttgart, Germany conducting an evangelistic series. Scores of people in that very secular city came out each evening to discover what life was all about. Entitled “Power. Faith. Hope.,” the series was designed to help people find answers to the big questions in life. And people responded.
Here are just a few of their stories.
Zehra and her family are from Turkey. She was raised in the Muslim faith, but it didn’t seem to be working for her. One day, she was walking through downtown Stuttgart and came across a literature table that had been set up by a local Sabbath-keeping church. What she read intrigued her, and she began attending church…and loved it! When the “Power. Faith. Hope.” seminar began, she was all smiles as she started to see everything fall into place.
Sam was an atheist who had been living in Iran. He felt something was missing in his life and started searching for meaning. His search led him down several wrong paths, and he ended up more discouraged than ever. When he came to the “Power. Faith. Hope.” seminar, he knew he’d finally found what he had been looking for and the smile on his face was proof of that.
Sofie was attending a Christian church, but she wasn’t finding answers to the deep, heartfelt questions that she had inside. Then a young man who had just finished training as a Bible and health missionary moved into the apartment above her. They started exchanging pleasantries as they would pass in the hall. He offered to give her Bible studies, and she loved them! Then he invited her to the “Power. Faith. Hope.” seminar, and all of the pieces finally came together.
The stories of Sam, Zehra, and Sofia are just a few of the many who have made decisions to step forward in their walks with Jesus and get baptized. There’s no question that the Lord is at work in Stuttgart.
Today, the automobile industry that Karl Benz began with his three-wheeled car is worth a whopping $1.7 trillion. But if you asked Sam, Zehra, and Sofia what their discovery of Jesus is worth, I imagine they’d tell you it’s worth a whole lot more.
When It Is Written moved from Southern California to the Chattanooga area in 2014, we did not fully understand the blessings in store for us. After much prayer, research, advice, and more prayer, we moved to an area with wonderful people, a lower cost of living, close proximity to both students and volunteers, and a large number of churches to live and work among.
Anyone who has visited our temporary location on Bonny Oaks Drive in Chattanooga has seen that we are incredibly tight on space. We have converted closets, corners, and hallways to offices and are still bursting at the seams. We are unable to film many of our productions in our current studio, and we cannot add the staff we need to produce these new programs in our current space. So, with your support and God’s blessings, we are building the new It Is Written headquarters.
The groundbreaking was in July 2017 and was followed by earthworks. Building construction began in May and has progressed as fast as the weather and various construction needs have allowed. As I write this, trucks are preparing to roll in and pour concrete on the second floor. With the steel framing up, it is really starting to look like a proper building.
We do not know exactly when we will be able to move in, but when we do, we will be able to create more, record more, develop more, and evangelize more. We will be able to reach more children with the My Place With Jesus resources. The new It Is Written TV channel will continue to grow and share the gospel around the world. New programs will be developed, recorded, edited, and broadcast from this new home.
So far, about 70 percent of the funds needed to complete the building have been raised. Investing in the new It Is Written Ministry headquarters is an investment in evangelism and soul-winning. In fact, it is an investment in everything that It Is Written will do as we embrace the opportunities God presents to us. Thank you for your prayers and support of this vital work!
Click here to donate toward the building project or keep up with construction updates.
Here are six short stories from our mission trip to Pretoria, South Africa.
Pastor Justin Lyons’ nightly presentations were heard by a person he was not even aware was present: the custodian of the church where the series of meetings were held. Outside in the shadows, the custodian sat, listened, and learned. His heart was so moved that on the night when Pastor Lyons invited people who wanted to be baptized to come forward, he stepped into the church and came forward. I guess some eavesdropping is actually very good.
One of our volunteers took a taxi to run some errands. Unbeknownst to her, her wallet fell out of her purse while riding the taxi back to the hotel. This is a story that had the potential to have a very costly and stressful ending. However, God preserved the wallet from being found by the wrong person. The next person to ride that very same taxi was none other than another member of our evangelism team. God is good.
Pastor John Bradshaw’s meetings were held outdoors in a park surrounded by apartment buildings. Hundreds of people from the community attended every night. The best thing, though, was seeing people with their windows open or standing on their balconies listening to Pastor Bradshaw preach. Can’t beat a location like that.
A wonderful Christian writer wrote: “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’” Two of our volunteers did just that. First, they went to grocery store and bought bags full of groceries, and then began to deliver food to poorest of the poor in a squatter community. The response of the people was: “No one has ever done that for us,” followed by some joyful spontaneous singing and dancing.
Our video projectors have American plugs. In order to use them in South Africa, we had to purchase an adapter. When Donna, one of our volunteer preachers, plugged in her video projector, the adapter started to spew sparks. She immediately pulled it out from the outlet and wiggled it to make sure that it was properly connected. Then she plugged it again but it did the same. Without the adapter, no sermon slides. Disaster. So, Donna invited everyone present to pray with her. According to a witness, it was one of the most powerful prayers he ever heard. As soon as she said “Amen,” she plugged the adapter in the outlet again and NO problem. The presentation went forward without any more glitches. However, once the presentation was done, the adapter quit working again. Don’t tell me God doesn’t take care of little things too.
Our medical team has seen hundreds of patients. Though limited in what they are allowed to do, they are still doing an amazing job. Case and point is the young man who came to our makeshift clinic in a poor section of Pretoria. After listening to the young man, the doctor did a quick exam and discovered that his cervical, axillary, and inguinal lymph nodes were swollen, firm, and non-movable. A strong sign that this dear man had cancer. The doctor passionately recommended that he get help at the hospital immediately. Before letting him leave, the doctor prayed with the man, connecting him to the Great Physician.