38 MILLION.

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Did you hear that sound?

It was as if 38 million people had all uttered a string of expletives at the same instant.

Could such a thing be possible?

Yes indeed.  That’s not your imagination.  It’s the sound of 38 million Ashley Madison customers finding out their private accounts just became public.

By now, most have heard about this dubious website.  It was designed to be a discreet, anonymous place to set up an illicit affair.

Kind of a Match.com for people who had already been matched.

Government employees, that Duggar family creep, even a Christian video blogger have all been caught up in this scandal, and there are plenty more to come.

38 million.  That’s a lot of spouses about to be kicked out on the street.

Let’s see.  How many people is that, exactly?

Well, I did a search for “38 million” and here’s what I found from Yahoo News back in May:

Geneva (AFP) – Conflicts and violence in places like Syria and Ukraine have displaced a record 38 million people inside their own countries, equivalent to the total populations of New York, London and Beijing, a watchdog group said Wednesday.

Oh wait.  That’s an altogether different group of 38 million displaced people.

Hmm.  Who should we pray for?  The innocent victims of war and violence — losing their homes, their possessions, and their jobs?

Or should we pray for the not-at-all-innocent folks who tried to sneak around their marriage vows, and got caught?

I’m gonna pray for both.

One group has been horribly mistreated.  One group may get what they deserve.

But now’s as good a time as any to remember

that Grace is available…

no matter the state of your affairs.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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Your Cheating Heart?

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Lance Armstrong, Tonya Harding, and Bill Clinton all die on the same day.

There they stand, in line at the Pearly Gates.

As they approach the entrance, Saint Peter recognizes them and pulls them out of line, asking for their autographs.

Bill Clinton looks at the other two, and asks Saint Peter, “Aren’t you going to punish us because we cheated?”

“What?”, Saint Peter laughs, looking back at the rest of the people in line.  “Everybody in this line cheated.  You three are famous for getting caught.”

* * *

Ever fudge on your taxes?

Ever ask the kid at the next desk the answer to #5?

Ever pass “go” when you should have gone to “jail”?

I could continue on with a list of examples, but the items become progressively more sinister:  Adultery, Embezzlement, Fraud.

To cheat, according to Meriam-Webster, is

: to break a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something
: to take something from (someone) by lying or breaking a rule
: to prevent (someone) from having something that he or she deserves or was expecting to get

Who among us hasn’t cheated?  Some in big things, some in little things.

Holding it in can be painful.  

As Hank Williams wrote, “Your cheatin’ heart will make you weep. You’ll cry and cry and try to sleep but sleep won’t come the whole night through.”

He was talking about adultery, I’m guessing, but those same guilty feelings can rip apart all kinds of cheatin’ hearts.

Getting caught can be devastating.

Ask anyone who’s ever been caught cheating, and they can tell you about the harsh light of truth.

The consequences of getting caught can be severe and life altering.  In the least, embarrassing.

Redemption is possible, but it’s a long painful road.

Is there any hope for this cheatin’ heart?

Well, you can ask Lance, Tonya, and Bill, and I’d expect you’d get three very different answers.

But if you ask Paul, here’s what he’d say:  

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. -Romans 3:23-24

Remember, Paul was worse than a cheater — he used to track down Christians and send them to their deaths!

If redemption was possible for him, it’s possible for you and me.

It’s such Good News that Grace can weave itself into every cheatin’ heart.

But between you and me,

there’s one certain thing you could do right now

to better open yourself to that Grace:

STOP CHEATING.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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