Day 17 Devotional & Discussion – March 24, 2014

Psalm 130

The Psalmist expresses relief in the forgiveness of God.  His survival is dependent upon God not keeping a record of his wrongs (vs. 3).  He finds great hope in the knowledge of God’s unfailing love and overflowing redemption (vs. 7-8).   How is a person’s survival threatened when a record of one’s wrongs is maintained?  What does “redemption” look like for a person with a record?  What does love have to do with it? 

On Sunday, March 23, we learned about the FORCE project from Marlon Chamberlain.  In 2013, Illinois Governor Quinn signed a bill into law that would allow ex-offenders to seal their non-violent records.  How does a sealing bill mirror the act of God Psalm 103? 

When we refuse to see the lawbreaker as a member of the community, it is easy to marginalize them and treat them at “the outsider” or “the other”.    While the law breaker has done damage to the community, (s)he is still part of the community.  The states of Minnesota and Vermont are taking bold steps to make restoration to community a part of its crime prevention strategy.  Based on a model developed by a Mennonite pastor in Canada, “Circles of Support and Accountability” (CoSAs) connect moderately high-risk ex-offenders to non-professional community groups to help them reintegrate into the community.   In a 2013 study, it was found that only 5% of those ex-offenders who were in a CoSA group were charged with a crime between 2010 and 2013 compared with 45% of those who were not in a CoSA.   Much of the funding for these programs comes from the Second Chance Act, a bill that was signed into law by George W. Bush in 2008.  The bill provided funding to every state for programs that aided re-entry.  Rep. Danny Davis (D- IL) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced HB 3465, the Second Chance Reauthorization Act in November 2013 and it was referred to committee.  On January 9, 2014, it was referred to a subcommittee.  Without passage of the reauthorization bill, the Act is discontinued.  You can follow this bill HERE.   To read more about the Second Chance Act, link HERE.   



  1. I really appreciate the image of longing for the Lord more than a sentry longs for dawn. It makes me think of the sentry who has the night shift. In the darkness there is so much more possibility for bad things to happen. Never having been an overnight sentry, I can only imagine how much they long for the morning. Not only will their shift likely be finished, but the daylight makes their job so much easier. The stress diminishes.

    Do I long for the Lord, for his heart, for justice like that? It is very convicting. I have to admit that I do not, at least not nearly as deeply or as consistently as I ought. I think about all that I give my life to, and a lot of it is stupid games on my phone, TV programs that are basically meaningless. I know it is important to relax. And phone games and TV can be a healthy part of that. I also know how easy it is to waste time doing things that don’t matter, and then justifying wasted time by calling it relaxation. I don’t want to get legalistic about it, but when compared to the sentry who longs for daylight, I can only say that I know I am not like that as much as I should be. Thanks for this Compact. It is pushing me to long for the Lord’s heart.

  2. I love the image of God’s redemption overflowing–there is so much of it that it cannot be contained. It just spills out all over the place, runs into the cracks and crevices and pools in the low places. How different from the measured and incremental ways that we dispense forgiveness, mercy and restoration. We restore people only after we have proof of reformation. We allow employment only after a certain number of years of “clean behavior”. We allow people to be returned into the full life of the community only after they successfully jump through our multiple hoops. Until then, we’ll keep the records handy.

    I was also challenged by verses 3- 4. “You offer forgiveness that we might learn to fear you.” We often think that an offer of forgiveness will give those who do wrong the excuse to keep doing wrong and that punishment (keeping a record of wrongs) is necessary to change the perpetrator and prevent further infractions. The Psalmist seems to say that it is forgiveness (not punishment and record keeping) that gives the opportunity for spiritual reflection and correction (learning to stand in awe of the Lord). Paul wrote something similar in 1 Corinthians 13:5: “love keeps no record of wrongs.”

    God shows us a very different approach to recidivism–faithful engaging love.

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