Archives For sin


Famed New Orleans evangelist Bob Harrington, known by many as “the Chaplain of Bourbon Street.”

Forgiveness is a significant theme in God’s Word.

The Bible tells us: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will remember not your sins” (Isaiah 43:25). “He [Jesus] was delivered up because of our offenses, and raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Scripture is clear; God’s forgiveness is for all, but each one of us must receive His forgiveness personally.

Our family has experienced forgiveness in a clear and visible way. My dad, Bob Harrington, was dramatically converted on April 15, 1958, when I was only 6 years old. He attended a revival meeting in his hometown of Sweet Water, Ala., to find some insurance prospects, and instead he found the Lord. During the fifth stanza of “Just As I Am,” Dad was forgiven of his sin and saved by the grace of God.

He preached his first sermon three days later and led his parents to faith in Jesus Christ. My mother, sister and I followed Dad in faith and became active in church. The Lord called my dad to ministry and led him to attend New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

In a chapel service, then-NOBTS President Leo Eddleman presented a challenge to students: “Any pocket of sin is a mission field, and the closest Christian to it is a missionary.” Dad responded to that call and began a ministry in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In 1962, he was proclaimed by the mayor “The Chaplain of Bourbon Street.”

His ministry expanded in the 1960s and 1970s from the second block of Bourbon Street to nationwide crusades and national television. Many people were converted and called to the ministry through his personal soul-winning and powerful preaching. God used Bob Harrington to share His gift of forgiveness with thousands of others.

At the peak of Dad’s ministry, “the devil threw him a pass and he ran for defeat” (drawing from his own words). He left the Lord, left the ministry, left my mother and left our family. What a painful time for each of us.

God immediately spoke to me about forgiveness. I needed to forgive my dad even though he did not ask for forgiveness. Initially I did not want to forgive him, but later I chose to obey God’s clear command. We prayed faithfully for Dad’s restoration for 17 years before he returned to the Lord. What a time of rejoicing for our family! We were a part of his redemption story as Dad sought forgiveness from each of us.

After Dad returned to the Lord, he again had “fun being saved” and became “happy in the Lord.” He was bold in his witness and called to preach to others like him who had left the Lord and needed to get right with Him. He titled his message on prodigals, “Loving the Left Back Right.” What a beautiful picture of forgiveness!

In his later years, Dad had dementia. He was completely at peace in his condition. He spent his days sitting in his big red chair watching television.

As I walked into his little house one afternoon, God gave me a vivid example of total forgiveness. A divorced couple on the Jerry Springer program was screaming at each other. Dad looked up at me and said, “Isn’t it wonderful that no one in our family has ever been divorced? We all love each other.” Wow! Who would have ever thought that such truth could come from a Jerry Springer moment? Dad himself had been divorced twice, but God had forgiven him and taken his sin out of his conscious thoughts. What a perfect picture of forgiveness! When God forgives, our sin is completely removed.

My sister and I rejoice in the forgiveness of God which allowed our family to be reunited and our dad to have joy until his last breath. To our knowledge, Dad had no memory of the time he was away from the Lord. He talked often about our family years ago and remembered many amazing days of ministry. When once asked by a reporter what led him back to the Lord, Dad sincerely replied, “I have never left the Lord. I have always loved Him.” God literally removed his sin and blotted it from his memory, so he remembered it no more. I will always be grateful for being a part of a real-life story of forgiveness!

This article first appeared at

The Briefing

Charlottesville violence: SBC leaders urge prayer
Southern Baptist pastors and leaders denounced racism and called for prayer in the wake of white nationalist protests that turned into violence and death in Charlottesville, Va. Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), described the rally as “a gathering of hate, ignorance and bigotry. “

Pro-life billboard reaches Chicago’s South Side
The Illinois Family Institute has rented a large billboard on the south side of Chicago with the message: “Abortion Takes Human Life.” It’s located at 59th and Wentworth, overlooking the Dan Ryan expressway (I-90/I-94), just 3 miles south of the White Sox Stadium, west of The University of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry. The message will be seen 3.86 million times during the month of August, reaching residents all around Chicago’s south side.

Stericycle cancels contracts with abortion centers
The nation’s leading medical waste disposal company has cut ties with hundreds of abortion centers, according to a pro-life activist group. Stericycle, which has a record of hauling aborted fetal waste despite a company policy against doing so, recently reiterated its policy against taking fetal remains and told the group Created Equal that it has “canceled hundreds of contracts with women’s clinics” over the past few years.

Iranian youths mass converting to Christianity
The massive rise of Christianity in Iran, especially among youths, continues despite the Islamic government’s efforts to suppress the faith. Even Islamic leaders admitted that more and more young people are choosing to follow Christ. According to Mohabat News, which reports on the persecution and state of Christianity in Iran, the “exponential rate” of Christian growth has been a factor for the last couple of decades.

Two-thirds of Americans say they’re sinners
Two-thirds of Americans (67%) say they are sinners, according to a new study from LifeWay Research. Most people aren’t too happy about it—only 5% say they’re fine with being sinners. As America becomes more secular, the idea of sin still rings true, said Scott McConnell, executive director of the Nashville-based group. “Almost nobody wants to be a sinner.”

Sources: Baptist Press, Illinois Family, World Magazine, Christian Post, Christianity Today

We who handle holy things

Lisa Misner —  March 21, 2016

Jesus Christ crown of thorns and nail

Jesus wept. Standing in the cemetery with Martha and Mary, he didn’t pat the grieving sisters on the shoulder. He didn’t say, “I’ve got this.” Certainly he could have. Jesus knew that in a few moments he would order the great stone rolled away from the tomb and call a dead man from its greedy maw. He knew that this sign would portend his own resurrection and back up his statement: “I am the resurrection and the life.”

But when the sisters each said, “Lord if you had been here our brother wouldn’t have died,” it must have been like a knife under his ribs. He had delayed rushing to their brother’s deathbed on purpose so that the Father would be glorified. But in that moment, before the tomb, he grieved for the sisters and for his friend Lazarus. Jesus did not stand apart from their grief. He entered into it.

On a recent Wednesday, I faced this phenomenon myself: stand apart from the sorrow, or enter into it. First I visited with the family of a man who had learned two weeks earlier that he had only months to live. But the end came more quickly than that. On Saturday he was changing the brakes on his wife’s car; on Sunday he was in a coma. He believed in God, his wife said, but unlike her, he never accepted Jesus as his savior. She had carried this sad truth throughout their marriage. She had lived her faith before the man and witnessed to him many times. Many people had, and now it was too late.

An hour later I met with another man who had learned two weeks earlier that he had only months to live. He had questions about faith. He wanted answers about why Jesus had to die for everyone. But more important, he wanted to be certain of his own salvation. He wept over sin—his own—and we prayed for his salvation and assurance.

On the way home I thought about the contrasts between these two meetings. And I wondered when was the last time I saw someone weep over his own sin. It’s been a while. I’ve been there many times when people cried over the sins of others, and the impact of sin on the nation, but crying with the realization that their own sin is an offense to God? That their sin sent Jesus to the cross? It’s been a while. And stopped at a red light, I thought, How long since I cried over my own sins and my part in the sacrifice of Jesus?

We who handle holy things are like celebrity chefs who brag about their “asbestos fingers.” They’re so accustomed to grabbing hot pots without pot holders that their hands have become desensitized to the heat.

We stand so close the burning bush that it warms our toes but singes our eyebrows, and we hardly notice the difference. We climb the mountain like Moses to meet with God, and we approach the burning peak with such aplomb that the smoke and lightning don’t scare us. We reach out to prop up the house of God with unholy hands, hardly thinking that others who did so were struck dead.

And across a thousand Sundays in the course of our ministries, we offer up symbolic body and blood with little thought to the lambs whose throats were slit, whose lifeblood drained into bowls to sprinkle the altar, and whose bodies were burned in sacrifice for sins. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sin” is easier said over Welch’s than Red Cross. Strange as it sounds, in the rush to the Good News, it’s possible to skim past the realities of death. It’s possible to celebrate the Cross without mourning the blood dripping from God’s Ultimate Sacrifice. If we are not careful, all this handling of holy things becomes routine.

Even when we are careful.

Before we rush to the joys of Resurrection Sunday, let’s stop first at the reality of Crucifixion Friday. With sorrowful John and the weeping Marys at the foot of the Cross, let’s consider our own complicity, and enter in.

Eric Reed is editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.

HEARTLAND | Nate Adams

I was sitting relaxed in our local movie theater, enjoying a bag of popcorn. Our kids were settled in next to their mom and me, excited to see “Jonah,” the first feature-length, animated movie by VeggieTales.

Nate_Adams_callout_Oct20Of course Jonah (played by Archibald Asparagus in this case) is the story of the reluctant prophet who did not want to deliver the message of God’s impending judgment and the need for repentance to the people of Nineveh. To set up the telling of the Old Testament story, a conversation takes place between “Junior” (Asparagus) and some amusing characters known as “the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything,” about the importance of compassion.

“Compassion is when you see that someone needs help, and you want to help them,” the pirate captain tells Junior. He then goes on to tell about the time they took Jonah on a voyage.

In the middle of this delightful cartoon movie, however, there was a serious “aha” moment for me. The pirates begin by talking with Junior about the compassion that Jonah lacked, and then they move on to talking about mercy, which God wanted to give to the people of Nineveh. “Mercy is when you give someone a second chance, even when they don’t deserve it,” the pirate explains.

A little confused, Junior asks whether the story is about compassion or about mercy. The pirate’s profound answer still penetrates my heart: “You can’t have mercy without compassion.”

I realized in that animated moment that the reason I don’t show mercy more often is that I don’t really have compassion. The reason I don’t share Christ more often is that I don’t really care about the lost people I see. And the reason I don’t really experience revival in my own heart is that I don’t really want to admit my own sin.

In other words, there is a deep place in me where truly transformational things take place. Not only do I rarely allow the Holy Spirit to go there, I rarely go there myself, or even admit that it exists. It’s the place where my self still rules my life. It’s the place where, deep down, regardless of my words or reputation, I know what I want. Maybe I do the right thing out of duty sometimes, even most of the time. But I do it without the right motive, without it being from the heart of Jesus in me.

That’s the place I need to go for revival. It’s the place where I can expose the deepest part of me to the deepest reach of God’s transforming power. It’s where, perhaps reluctantly, even fearfully, I can admit my own motives and desires, and with trembling hands give them up to God for His Lordship and control, whatever the cost.

I have often heard it said that, for each of us, revival must begin in “me,” that I should draw a circle around myself and ask God to bring revival there before I can expect Him to bring it anywhere else. I guess that silly, profound movie just helped me see where the bull’s eye of that circle must be.

In just a few days, hundreds of us from churches all over the state will gather in Springfield for the 2014 IBSA Annual Meeting. Whether you are able to attend or not, would you join me, both in your prayers for revival among our churches, and also in drawing that circle around “me” that asks God to begin revival there?

Near the close of the VeggieTales movie, Junior notes that Jonah still seems to lack compassion, and asks the pirates what Jonah really learned. The pirate replies, “The question is not what did Jonah learn, but what did you learn?” May we each learn to expose to God that deep place in our hearts where revival can truly begin.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association.

bar_chart_BarnaTHE BRIEFING | Meredith Flynn

Temptation is an age-old problem. But even it isn’t immune to new challenges posed by the digital age. A new study by Barna Research found 44% Americans admit to being tempted by the decidedly “digital” sin of spending too much time on media, like the Internet, video games and television.

Other technological temptations also beckoned respondents, including viewing pornography or sexually inappropriate content (18%), and reacting angrily via text message or e-mail (11%).

The study, done in conjunction with publisher Thomas Nelson for the new book “Our Favorite Sins,” asked more than 1,000 online respondents about which sins tempt them. Barna then grouped their answers into categories like “new temptations,” “old temptations,” and “particularly Western temptations,” which includes the sins of procrastinating, worrying, and being lazy.

Only the temptations to procrastinate (60%), worry (60%), or eat too much (55%) were more prevalent than spending too much time on media distractions. Spending too much money was also a temptation for 44% of respondents.

Go to for more.

Other news:

Stanley responds to inauguration sermon criticism
Megachurch pastor Andy Stanley drew fire when he called President Obama the “pastor in chief” during a pre-inauguration sermon for the President, his family and advisors. But the title came as a result of the President’s actions following the tragic shootings in Newtown, Stanley told Christianity Today.

Chicagoland pastor will run coast to coast for clean water
Steve Spear, a regional campus pastor for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., quit his job earlier this year to get a running start on a project that will provide a lifetime of clean drinking water for 30,000 Kenyans. Beginning in April, Spear will run the 3,000-mile span between the U.S. east and west coasts in a fundraising endeavor sponsored by World Vision. Read more at

NewYork_DR_page4_0128Illinois students help Staten Islanders start fresh after Hurricane Sandy
Collegiate volunteers spent part of their winter break on a whirlwind trip to New York, where residents are still deep in recovery mode after last fall’s super storm. Read the full story in the January 28 issue of the Illinois Baptist.