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A couple of months ago, I saw an online article with the headline, “Trio wrongfully convicted of murder released after 18 years in prison.”  I didn’t have time to read it at that moment, so I bookmarked the article for later reference.  I finally got around to reading it on Tuesday.  It seems that three New York men, Michael Cosme, Devon Ayers, and Carlos Perez, were released from prison on January 23.  They had been convicted in 1995 for the murder of a cab driver and a FedEx executive.  Recently, however, two gang members confessed to murdering the cab driver, and the remainder of the case against the three imprisoned men began to disintegrate.

Upon their release, the three men talked about the difficulty of being incarcerated for nearly two decades, during which they maintained their innocence and worked tirelessly to have their names cleared and the record set straight.  I can’t imagine the level of relief and elation that these men felt to finally be free men again and to look forward to rebuilding their lives and reuniting with family members and friends.

The headline in Scripture, however, reads, “Millions who were rightfully and justly convicted of sin against God are released from guilt, freed from condemnation, and set free from eternal punishment through Jesus Christ.”

Jesus releases the guilty, because there are no innocent ones (Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 3:23).  Jesus didn’t come to call the righteous (Luke 5:31-32), simply because there weren’t any to call; none of us were spiritually healthy; all of us were sick with sin and in need of healing from the Divine Doctor.

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:6,8).

And, because of His victory over death that will be celebrated around the world this Easter Sunday, “He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them,” (Hebrews 7:25).

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift,” (II Corinthians 9:15).

The release of the guilty!  How incredible is that!

Have a blessed and happy Easter!

As of today, I’ve been married to Kim for half of my life!  25 years ago, on March 12, 1988, we became husband and wife.

The first 25 years of my life were spent living in various places around the country and around the world.  Ravenna, Ohio; Warrior, Alabama; Greenville, South Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; Monrovia, Liberia; Richmond, Kentucky; Columbia, Tennessee; Lewisburg, Tennessee; Montgomery, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; and Gympie, Queensland, Australia.  After two years in Australia, I returned to the U.S. in August of 1987 with the intention of going to graduate school, getting a master’s degree, returning Down Under,  planting a church, and probably spending the rest of my life there.

That was Plan A.

I didn’t plan on meeting Kim.  In fact, our meeting was so preposterously unlikely, that neither of us could have seen it coming.  A week and a half after getting back on American soil, I met Kim at a Wednesday night church service in Florence, Alabama.  That’s another good reason to be there on Wednesday nights, boys and girls!  We met in late August, had our first date in September, and were married six months later on March 12.  While that’s not the precise road map to matrimony that I would recommend to everyone, my life hadn’t been very “textbook” up that point anyway, and it certainly hasn’t been since then!

The last 25 years with Kim have been such a blessing and an adventure.  In some ways, the time has flown by, especially when I consider that our children are now 22 and 20 years old.  But, in other respects, 25 years doesn’t seem sufficient to contain all of the people, places, events, circumstances, victories, defeats, joys, and disappointments that we have experienced in our life together.  Certain segments of the journey seem like unique lifetimes of their own.

Successful marriages are not built around fairy tale scenarios or flawlessness, just faithfulness.  They do not depend on perfection, but perseverance: enjoying the many good times, slogging your way through the periodic tough ones, catching your collective breath after a crisis to brace yourself for the next, and learning to both request and extend forgiveness.  That probably doesn’t sound very romantic or “seminar worthy,”  but it’s been our experience; it’s been our life.

Our journey has included several unexpected turns.  We are currently on Plan K or Plan L.  If God gives us another 25 years, we may well run out of letters.  Thankfully, the Greek and Hebrew alphabets are standing by in reserve should they be needed to designate subsequent chapters of the story.

There’s no way to adequately express what Kim means to me in such a brief blog post, but suffice it to say that, not only have I spent half of my life being married to her, she is half of my life.  That’s what it means when two people become one.  She is the other half of me.

Happy 25th Anniversary, Kim!

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March 2013