And That’s What Christmas Is All About..

A beautiful video, that gives us just a hint at what the real event was like..

Enjoy and take a moment to thank the Lord for the extraordinary lengths He went to save lost people like us.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. (Luke 2:8-20)

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The Mystery of Modern Miracles

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It doesn’t take an expert in theology to figure out that a good portion of the Bible is devoted to the miraculous.

You can barely make it out of the first verse of Genesis without running headlong into one.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

And the rest is, as they say, biblical history.

The flood.

Abraham and Sarah’s bouncing baby boy.

The Red Sea.

The virgin birth.

The ministry of Jesus.

The resurrection.

You get the drift.

And if the Bible is the record of God dealing with man, the presence of miracles shouldn’t surprise us at all.

But these days, more and more people who hear about the seemingly constant intervention by God in the realm of human events have a simple question for the Lord –

“What have you done for us lately?”

If  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), why don’t we see miracles happening like they did in the book of Acts?

The answer might surprise you.

First of all, even in Bible times God never did miracles “on demand”.

In fact, Jesus had a pretty blunt assesment of the internal condition of the “If God wants me to believe in Him, why doesn’t He show me a sign?” crowd.

Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.  He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’;  and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.  A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed. (Matthew 16:1-4)

In essence, Jesus was saying, “In light of the fact that You have My Word, and can plainly see that I am fulfilling My Word, why do you need additional data to come to a conclusion?”

The problem wasn’t in Jesus’ critics heads, but in their hearts.

It wasn’t that they couldn’t believe, but that they wouldn’t believe.

People in our day say things like, “If God wants me to believe, why doesn’t He appear to me in the sky tonight?”

But the fact is, a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

I have always had the sneaky suspicion that if God honored that request at 7 pm, a neat and plausible theory to explain the whole thing away would be solidly in place before midnight.

But let’s up the ante in our discussion with this provocative thought –

“Who is to say that God isn’t doing miracles in our day?”

I know. I know.

You are thinking, “Wait a minute – you aren’t saying that signs and wonders on a biblical scale are happening right now, are you? Are you telling me that to head on down to Sinai and wait for the next parting of the Red Sea?”

Yes.

And No.

First of all, miracles are happening today.

In fact, the results of a Pew research survey indicates that there is a significant increase in people experiencing the miraculous over the last fifty years.

In response to a separate question, half of Americans (49%) say they have had “a religious or mystical experience – that is, a moment of religious or spiritual awakening.” This is roughly the same as the number that said this in 2006 (47%), but it represents a sharp increase over the past four decades. In 1962, only 22% of Americans reported having had such an experience, which grew to about a third in 1976 (31%) and 1994 (33%). Since then, the number has continued to increase to roughly half of the public in this decade.

Differences among Protestants are striking. Strong majorities of white evangelicals (70%) and black Protestants (71%) say they have had religious or mystical experiences, compared with four-in-ten mainline Protestants (40%). Catholics resemble mainline Protestants, with 37% having had a religious or mystical experience.

It is also important to grasp that while miracles are happening today, that doesn’t mean that they happen every day.

In fact, even in the “miracle rich” time of the book of Acts, it wasn’t as if a sign or a wonder was happening every five minutes.

Most people fail to realize that the first ten chapters of Acts cover a time period of roughly ten years.

So although miracles did occur, it wasn’t as if there were fourteen or fifteen happening per day.

And there is a reason for that.

Jesus promised His disciples that He would be with them always, even to the end of the world.

He also promised that He would give every resource necessary for His followers to effectively reach the world with the message of his love and forgiveness.

And if a miracle was necessary to accomplish this, they could count on it.

And this provides the answer to our Red Sea question.

If God today called His people out of bondage in Egypt, and Pharaoh and his armies were bearing down on them, then we could expect the Red Sea to part.

But if we are hanging out on the beach looking for a special effects show to wow a crowd, we will be disappointed.

But what if we have a need – a genuine need – and only a miracle can meet it?

In my 36 years of walking with the Lord I have seen His hand move miraculously in a number of different ways.

The fact that I overcame my pride and fear to walk forward and receive Christ was the first.

But certainly not the last.

I’ve seen God’s presence literally shake a prayer meeting.

I’ve heard God’s perspective shared in jaw dropping detail through a prophecy.

I’ve known the comfort of a loved one seeing the Lord on his death bed.

I’ve translated a beautiful prayer in Hebrew, prayed by a person who didn’t know the language.

I’ve seen an answer to prayer in which God healed a cancerous tumor in a way that left a top flight oncologist with no other words to describe the incident but “miracle”.

I’ve seen that same healing turn a hardened man’s heart from agnosticism to a personal relationship with Christ.

I’ve also seen the changes that Christ can make in my own heart that made me capable of trusting a wonderful woman to be my wife.

Oh, God is still in the miracle business.

But more often than not His constant watch care is so subtle and efficient we hardly realize all the ways He is looking out for us.

Take this to the bank – If You need a miracle in your life, God still has the same answer He has always had for His people:

“You’ve got it.”

The Cure For Cafeteria Christianity

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How do you like your spirituality these days?

A large portion of Christianity for tradition’s sake?

A slice of New Age thinking to spice it up a bit?

And for desert, an occult experience or two to finish off the meal?

A just released Pew Research survey indicates that this “cafeteria” style approach to religion is all the rage in our  society today.

The religious beliefs and practices of Americans do not fit neatly into conventional categories. A new poll by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that large numbers of Americans engage in multiple religious practices, mixing elements of diverse traditions. Many say they attend worship services of more than one faith or denomination — even when they are not traveling or going to special events like weddings and funerals. Many also blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects. And sizeable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups say they have experienced supernatural phenomena, such as being in touch with the dead or with ghosts.

The Pew survey certainly confirms what I have experienced both as a radio talk show host and as a pastor.

I have been shocked to hear people who self identify as born again, evangelical, Bible believing Christians excitedly share the amazing insights they received at Madame Lasagna’s Fortune Telling and Guaranteed Winning Lotto Number Emporium.

(Just an aside, but if these people were really in touch with the supernatural, why would they have to ask for our name and credit card information when the session begins? If they really were clairvoyant, couldn’t they just ask the spirits for that info? But I digress..)

I have also seen people equally shocked when I have shared that according to Jesus, all religious rivers don’t flow to that one great ocean which is God.

The root cause of this phenomenon is pretty is easy to spot.

We live in a culture where we believe that man is the measure of all things. If something feels right and good to us then we go with it.

Want truth? Ask the man in your heart for the answer.

After all, who are we to say our way is right and others are wrong? These days, that kind of “narrow-mindedness” is considered as big a social blunder as slurping your soup or belching at the dinner table.

And if God hasn’t spoken to us, then your view, my view, the view of the guy who worships citrus fruit are all equally valid.

But consider a radical thought – What if God has spoken to us?

Wouldn’t it make sense to ask the Creator the purpose behind His creation?

Wouldn’t it make sense to ask the One Who lives forever what lies beyond the grave?

If God has in fact spoken to us in Jesus Christ, then we should run, not walk to our nearest Bible!

Interestingly, those who have come to grips with this challenge find themselves a lot less likely to buy into “Cafeteria Christianity.

The Pew Research people identified this trend in a remarkable way.

Compared with other religious traditions, white evangelical Protestants consistently express lower levels of acceptance of both Eastern beliefs (reincarnation, yoga) and New Age beliefs (spiritual energy in physical things and astrology). For example, roughly one-in-ten white evangelicals believes in reincarnation, compared with 24% among mainline Protestants, 25% among both white Catholics and those unaffiliated with any religion, and 29% among black Protestants. Similarly, 13% of white evangelicals believe in astrology, compared with roughly one-quarter or more among other religious traditions. There are few differences among religious traditions in belief in the “evil eye,” though black Protestants stand out for high levels of belief on this question (32%).


Among Protestants, high levels of religious commitment are associated with lower levels of acceptance of Eastern or New Age beliefs. Among both evangelical and mainline Protestants, those who attend church weekly express much lower levels of belief in reincarnation, yoga, the existence of spiritual energy in physical things and astrology compared with those who attend religious services less often. Among Catholics, by contrast, frequency of church attendance is linked much less closely with these kinds of beliefs, although those who attend less often do express higher levels of belief in astrology compared with weekly attenders.

Did you catch the trend?

The more committed to Christ one is, the less likely a person is to buy into bizarre and bogus beliefs.

And catch this as well.

The more one’s commitment to Christ is manifested in regular involvement in fellowship with other Bible believing Christians, the less likely we are to wander off on a spiritual rabbit trail.

The cure for “Cafeteria Christianity” is pretty clear.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

Can you be a solid, Bible believing Christian and not be in regular fellowship?

I suppose it is possible.

But like the old proverb, “He who represents himself in court has a fool for an attorney”, we might also say, “He who sits under only his own Bible teaching has a fool for a pastor.”

Armadillos and Ice Bergs and Polar Bears, Oh My!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Consider this heart-rending portrait of the dangers of man caused global warming.

The clear implications of this photo are summed up in the words of former Vice President Al Gore.

“Their habitat is melting… beautiful animals, literally being forced off the planet,” Mr. Gore said, with the photo on the screen behind him. “They’re in trouble, got nowhere else to go.”

How can one argue with such compelling, undeniable evidence that our environment is on the edge of catastrophe?

You could start by asking a few simple questions.

Like what was the setting of this photograph?

And what do we know about polar bear behavior that could confirm or deny the seemingly dire circumstances these beautiful animals found themselves in?

The answers to these questions might raise an eyebrow or two.

Remember that wonderful picture of stranded polar bears on an ice floe that were used by folks like soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore to demonstrate how dire the man-made global warming issue is?

Well, ABC television in Australia, on a show called “Media Watch,” recently debunked the entire issue (video available here, h/t NB member dscott).

It turns out — as NewBuster Jake Gontesky reported on March 20 — the picture was taken in August, “when every year the fringes of the Arctic ice cap melt regardless of the wider effects of global warming.”

The photographer, Australian marine biology student Amanda Byrd, didn’t think the bears were in any jeopardy:
They did not appear to be in danger…I did not see the bears get on the ice, and I did not see them get off. I cannot say either way if they were stranded or not.
Denis Simard of Environment Canada agreed:
You have to keep in mind that the bears are not in danger at all. This is a perfect picture for climate change…you have the impression they are in the middle of the ocean and they are going to die…But they were not that far from the coast, and it was possible for them to swim…They are still alive and having fun.

How far from the coast would a polar bear have to be in order to be in danger?

Quite a ways.

Maybe that’s why they are called “Sea Bears”.

The polar bear’s Latin name, Ursus maritimus, or “Sea Bear,” refers to the animal’s close association with the Arctic’s chilly waters. The polar bear is the only bear considered a marine mammal.

Polar bears spend as much time on the ice as they do on land. Polar bears are often seen along open leads, where they hunt seals, as well as on the sea ice. They depend on the ice to hunt, breed, and in some cases to den.

Polar bears are champion swimmers and divers, an adaptation that allows them to swim from one ice floe to the next. They have been known to swim more than 60 miles without a rest and have been clocked swimming as fast as six miles per hour.

Another icon bites the dust.

Kind of like the armadillo.

In the SRL Files under “Hysteria Repeats Itself”, did you know that we have already gone through a climate change scare way back in the 70’s?

And no, it had nothing to do with the dangers of polyester poisoning.

As Gary Sutton of Forbes Magazine recalls:

Many of you are too young to remember, but in 1975 our government pushed “the coming ice age.”

Random House dutifully printed “THE WEATHER CONSPIRACY … coming of the New Ice Age.” This may be the only book ever written by 18 authors. All 18 lived just a short sled ride from Washington, D.C. Newsweek fell in line and did a cover issue warning us of global cooling on April 28, 1975. And The New York Times, Aug. 14, 1976, reported “many signs that Earth may be headed for another ice age.”

How did we know that a new ice age was coming?

The proof came from the behavior of another, well, not so beautiful endangered icon.

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Science’s prediction of “A full-blown, 10,000 year ice age,” came from its March 1, 1975 issue. The Christian Science Monitor observed that armadillos were retreating south from Nebraska to escape the “global cooling” in its Aug. 27, 1974 issue.

That armadillo caveat seems reminiscent of today’s tales of polar bears drowning due to glaciers disappearing.

The predictions of cross-country skiing in Tucson never came to pass.

And here is our problem.

To accurately predict the behavior of a system of  off the charts complexity like the atmosphere around our Earth is a dicey business indeed.

And whenever a scientific establishment attempts to either recreate events from the past or make predictions of the future that are not subject to direct experimentation, observation and confirmation, it is no longer engaging in science, but in speculation.

And isn’t it interesting how when people are caught promoting politics or philosophy as fact, suddenly the debate takes a turn toward the dark side.

Ed Morrisey presents a classic case of this phenomenon at  the Hot Air Blog:

Mr Brown last night insisted that the science on climate change in settled, and accused those who question the consensus of being outdated.

He said: “With only days to go before Copenhagen we mustn’t be distracted by the behind-the-times, anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics. We know the science. We know what we must do.”

Greg Clark, the Conservative shadow energy secretary, told the Daily Telegraph the emails were a cause for concern.

“This has clearly concerned a lot of people, including myself. You need to be able to rely on the scientific opinion. It is important that we should be able to have confidence in the research,” he said.

Announcing a review of the case, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the matter could not be “brushed under the carpet”.

“Anti-science”?  Maybe those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.  As Dr. Pachauri himself notes, the entire issue with the East Anglia CRU is that they weren’t doing science, but advocacy.  They conspired to silence critics, refused to release their methodology, used “garbage” data to bolster their claims, and then destroyed the raw data on which they based their models and conclusions.  What about that is pro-science?

Perhaps Gordon Brown needs to familiarize himself with actual science rather than political hackery. Actual science gets conducted in the open, and needs repeatable conclusions and full data sets to be considered “settled.”  It welcomes scrutiny and testing; actual science doesn’t hide from scrutiny, or conspire to block it, and actual scientists don’t plot ways to ruin the careers of those who question the models or results.

Brown has put himself clearly in the “Shut up, he explained” school, which isn’t science at all.  It’s what leaders of a cult say when the brainwashing starts to weaken.

The more we see the facts in this debate, the less global warming comes across as “settled science”.

And if it isn’t settled, why not encourage discussion and put a hold on drastic policy changes until the picture becomes clearer?

Unless, of course,

maintaining grant money,

or getting published in the right scientific journals,

or maintaining personal prestige,

or pursuing  political power mean more than really getting at the truth.

The principle we see in play in the global warming debate is one we need to pay close attention to in our spiritual lives as well.

Have you ever found yourself in a church setting where you had honest questions about where the group was coming from doctrinally, or in their practices?

What was the response when you brought those questions up to a leader in the group?

Did they commend you for asking?

Or did they condemn you for rocking the boat?

Did they go straight to the Bible to provide answers?

Or did they point to their own credentials as experts and belittle your lack of education or experience?

Did they respect the point of view of those who might disagree with them on a non-essential issue of the faith?

Or did they resort to ridiculing anyone who didn’t see it their way?

In the book of Acts we find the account of a group of people who were more interested in truth than personalities.

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. (Acts 17:10-12)

Notice that the Bible commends the Berean believers for checking out the message for themselves – even a message that came from the apostle Paul.

Just because someone has a PhD, or the title “reverend”, or a radio or television program doesn’t make them infallible.

The safest sources of input in our lives will readily admit this.

But when people start fudging facts or resorting to snarky sarcasm or engaging in haughty appeals to their own authority to “settle” a debate – they inevitably become the best argument against their own position.

A Tiger By the Tail

Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren

The well crafted confession heard round the world:

I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.

But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don’t share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one’s own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.

Prior to a week ago, the  most apt word to describe Eldrick “Tiger” Woods was “exceptional”.

I have to confess that I used to think watching other people play golf was as exciting as watching apples turn brown.

But Tiger Woods changed all that.

More than just a golfer, he was an athlete.

Like Michael Jordan in basketball, seeing what Woods could do with a golf ball would more often than not leave me dumbstruck.

Tiger has been so dominant, I used to feel sorry for Phil Mickelson.

In any other era, “Mickey” would have been the stuff of legend.

But in contrast to the exploits of Woods, Mickelson will be consigned the role of “Greatest Also-Ran of All Time”.

Woods has not only able to win consistently and convincingly, but also with a seamless sense of grace.

Even more significantly, he seemed able to do something even more amazing than holing out a 140 yard approach shot.

He had the ability to deftly, even effortlessly,  manage the media.

But as events over the past week have played out, the tables have suddenly and radically turned.

And we have seen that even an icon like Tiger Woods is no exception to an ironic rule of life.

Tiger pursued fame, only to find out that after awhile, fame began to pursue him.

And when you no longer control fame, you find fame controls you.

And so you live in a guard gated community with extremely high walls that keep intruders at bay.

A trip to the convenience market for a package of Doritos can’t happen without being accompanied by a state of the art security force.

If someone asks, “What d’ya think of the weather?”, your response has to be cleared with public relations experts.

One day the Tiger Woods of this world wake up and discover they are living in the midst of an ironic reality -Fame promised freedom, but ultimately fame took all the freedom away.

And that reality can get extremely claustrophobic.

There are times I believe that the seemingly reckless behavior of public figures who are certainly smart enough to realize that they can and eventually will get caught in their excesses, can be an attempt at escape.

I knew a very high-profile pastor who went down the same road.

When a series of clumsily executed excesses came to light causing him to lose his position and his reputation, he seemed more relieved than repentant.

Sure his life was a shambles.

Sure his family was devastated.

Sure his credibility was shot.

Sure the faith that those who followed him as a spiritual leader was shaken to the core.

But at least he didn’t have to bear up under the 800 pound mantle of public perception of perfection any longer.

Now I know that those who are busy trying to make a name for themselves might look at Tiger Woods’ personal struggles as the proverbial “problem to have”.

But there is an old proverb that goes, “There are two great tragedies in life – Not getting what you want, and getting it.”

Tiger Woods seems to have received a heaping helping of both.

But there is an alternative.

There is a way to pursue an excellent life, without being trapped by the after effects of excellence.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

When we decide that our goal in life isn’t wealth or power or fame, but to enjoy each day as an opportunity to receive and relate the love of God, we find a freedom that fame alone cannot provide.

With no need to consciously or unconsciously seek escape from a fame fueled monster we have created.

As a fairly famous man named the apostle Paul once observed:

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. (I Timothy 6:6)

Let’s hope that in the aftermath of this disaster Tiger Woods and his family find the peace that faith, rather than fame and fortune can bring.

Mike Huckabee and Jailhouse Conversions

Clemmons’ original104 year sentence for robbery was commuted by Huckabee. Clemmons’ track record of unabated violence after being released, culminating in his killing of 4 Washington state police officers certainly has left candidate Huckabee with some explaining to do.

People with higher political aspirations usually will not be in the sentence commuting business at all. But during Huckabee’s term as governor he commuted more sentences than the six states surrounding Arkansas combined.

A question I have yet to hear the former governor address: Did Huckabee’s Christian convictions lead him to set such an aggressive policy of  “second chances”?

The question becomes more unavoidable when we read the appeal Clemmons made to Huckabee while in jail:

“I come from a very good Christian family and I was raised much better than my actions speak,” Clemmons said in a clemency application brief to then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2000. “I’m still ashamed to this day for the shame my stupid involvement in these crimes brought upon my family’s name.”…

“I have never done anything good for God, but I’ve prayed for him to grant me in his compassion the grace to make a start,” he said. “Now, I’m humbly appealing to you for a brand new start.”

The consensus view is that Maurice Clemmons not only murdered four police officers, but that Mike Huckabee’s political future died along with them.

I have to say that I find myself feeling a bit of sympathy for Mike Huckabee in all this.

More than once I have found myself on the receiving end of a heart-rending story about a ruined life, stupid choices and a desire to get it all right next time with a little help from “the Man upstairs”.

And I have wanted to believe that the person had really changed.

And if we could just find it in ourselves to give them a break..

But the lesson I have learned the hard way in these situations can be summed up in five words:

“Don’t tell me, show me.”

John the Baptist eloquently expressed this Biblical principle:

Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.  And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke3:7-9)

To repent – that is to have a change of mind about life, that results in a change of heart toward God – always results in a visible, tangible change of life.

Right words, or even a display of seemingly right emotions aren’t sufficient.

Mike Huckabee, as a student of God’s Word, would have been better served to remind Maurice Clemmons that even though God offers full and complete forgiveness for our sins, the surest sign that we have received that gift isn’t a spiritually worded appeal to avoid the consequences of wrong doing.

The surest sign of a genuine change of heart would have been an acknowledgment of the pain caused and a willingness to accept the due results of such actions.

What if Clemmons had written to the governor saying, “I know that I have sinned against God and have hurt my fellow-man. I would ask you to allow me to learn from my mistakes as best I can. Perhaps the Lord can still use me in this prison situation to reach out to others  with the hope I have now in Christ. Please pray that I would remember that others have served the Lord as prisoners. I don’t ask you to give me physical freedom from my circumstances, because  no matter where I find myself  I am free in Christ.” ?

That would have been the fruit of true repentance.

And true repentance would have kept Maurice Clemmons in jail.

And if Maurice Clemmons was in jail today, four heroic Washington police officers would still be alive.

And Maurice Clemmons would still be among the living as well.

Can people really change?

Yes.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (II Corinthians 5:17)

But that new life has to show itself as more substantial than just words on a page, or tears in the eyes of a jail-bird who has learned to sing gospel.