Why We Forgive and What Can Happen When We Do

A Conversation with Dr. Heath Lambert

In this episode you will get to know a Biblical Counselor, Professor of Biblical Counseling, pastor, and author. Most importantly, you will meet a man who understands the love of Jesus, which enabled and empowered him to extend extraordinary forgiveness.
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"What it means to be a Christian is to understand the transaction of forgiveness."

Dr. Heath Lambert shares with us what it means to be a Biblical Counselor, and how biblical counseling differs from the discipline of psychology. Then he shares with us a powerful personal testimony of forgiveness. After reading Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:35, Heath realized he had to forgive his mom, though he didn’t know how. As Heath obeyed Jesus and started the journey of forgiveness, Jesus worked miraculous healing in his family.

Guest Bio

Dr. Heath Lambert has been preaching at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida since January of 2016, and became Senior Pastor in September of 2017. Serving First Baptist is the joy of Heath’s life. Prior to serving at First Baptist, Heath served as the Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), and as a professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. We first encountered Heath as we read his 95 Theses for an Authentically Christian Commitment to Counseling and watched helpful videos from him online. 

Book Recommendations
Every episode we ask our guest to tell us about a few books that have changed their lives. Check out Dr. Heath Lambert’s recommendations and consider adding them to your bookshelf!

A Hunger for God

by John Piper

This book seems like it's about fasting, but it’s really about loving Jesus better than anything. It’s about putting Jesus first in all areas of your life.

The Pursuit of God

by A. W. Tozer

A. W. Tozer writes beautiful truths in a really beautiful way. This book is about prizing God.

Eden: Thank you so much for being willing to interview with us. I’m really excited to talk to you today. We usually start by just learning a little bit about you. So I would love to hear what are a few things that bring you joy?

Dr. Heath Lambert: A few things that bring me joy. So there’s a lot of things that bring me joy. But I always say I get to live with my four favorite people. So I am very thankful for my wife, Lauren. I can’t believe there is a better one on the whole planet than this woman, who sticks behind me when I’m crazy, and who sticks behind me when I’m having brain surgery, and who sticks with me through years of ministry—some of them tough. So I just can’t believe there’s anybody that’s got a better wife than I do. Although if anybody’s listening to this and you say you’ve got the best wife, then I can live with your disagreement. But, man, I’m just persuaded that mine is the best.

And then I’ve got a wonderful oldest son named Carson. He is a high school graduate and is in college and is a hard worker at school and in his job. I have the best daughter ever. Now, I’m sure you know somebody who would say you’re the best daughter ever, too. And so again, I’m happy to let that disagreement exist. But my daughter Chloe is the best little girl ever. In fact, she’s not so little anymore. She’s 15, but I love her and think she’s the best. And then our baby, our youngest, Connor, who’s 13, I love living with him. I love knowing him. I love watching him grow up and being his dad. So those are wonderful things.

I love being the pastor at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve been to churches all over the world, and I have never been to a church that is as committed to the Bible, that is as committed to Jesus, that has such love for me and my family as this wonderful church does. So those are some things that I really love.

Eden: Wonderful. Well, those seem like some incredible blessings, and I don’t think anyone would argue with you, I think they’ll let you have your opinion there.

Well, I’d love to hear, also, if there’s a part of God’s Word that’s especially precious to you and how it became especially precious to you?

Dr. Heath Lambert: Yeah. So I mentioned when I was talking about Lauren sticking with me through brain surgeries—so I went through this season where it was just one brain surgery after the next. And right before the first one, right before the lights went out and the anesthesia kicked in, I had this overwhelming sense of God’s great love for me. It just was this, oh, my goodness, the Lord loves me and is caring for me right here in this room. He is with me and is loving me. And that was the first surgery. So I have this sense of God’s great love. It wasn’t my first experience of God’s love. I mean, you’re a Christian, so you know God’s love before, but it was like something new, something fresh. And I wound up writing a book about it. I write this book called The Great Love of God. And in between those two sort of bookend experiences (experiencing God’s love and writing a book about God’s love) I was really growing to understand the great love of God in a new and a fresh way.

And the two sections of God’s Word that were the most meaningful? So I read the Bible from cover to cover to say, Lord, I want to know as much as I can about your great love. And so I read from Genesis to Revelation, but the two sections that stood out to me as definitive and really growing my understanding of God’s great love more than any of the others would be 1 John 4:7-21 and the Psalms. So I think 1 John 4:7-21—I think I could win a debate that those are the most profound verses in the Bible about understanding who God is and what his love is. And I think the Psalms are a textbook on love, or maybe a guidebook would be better. I mean everywhere you look, there is just God’s great love. Everywhere you look, there is unending compassion. Everywhere you look, there’s these glorious pictures of God’s love. And so I’d probably say 1 John 4:7-21 together with the Psalms.

Eden: Wonderful. And is that book available in stores right now? Is that something someone could pick up?

Dr. Heath Lambert: Yes. It dropped in this past spring. And so you can get it wherever you get your books.

Eden: Okay. Wonderful. Well, you mentioned that you are a pastor, and I know you also have a foot in the counseling world. And so for someone that has not met you before, tell us a little bit about your work and kind of what you do day-to-day?

Dr. Heath Lambert: What I do day-to-day? Oh my goodness. Well what I do day-to-day changes a little bit every day. It’s actually one of the great things about the logistics of my job—that no day is quite the same. But my main gig is that I’m the senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, and so my main responsibilities at First Baptist are to preach every week. I preach every week on Sunday mornings, sometimes on Sunday evenings. But I am responsible for the main preaching that happens on Sunday morning. I’m responsible for running the staff. We have a large staff, about 110 people. So I’m responsible for watching them, caring for them, and pastoring them. Most of the pastoral work I do is with those people. I’m responsible for caring for them. Then I’m responsible for deciding where are we going to go and how are we going to get there. So we say that our mission is that we are reaching all of Jacksonville with all of Jesus for all of life. That clarifies a lot, but it doesn’t clarify everything, certainly not on a year-to-year basis. And so I’m responsible for that.

I also write a good bit. I write books when I can; I write blogs when those are necessary. And so I spend a lot of time thinking about what to write and how to write. Then after that, I trust the Lord with what’s coming on a day-to-day basis.

Eden: Great. Do you have any books in the works right now?

Dr. Heath Lambert: So it’s actually funny when people ask me. So I’ve written books, which is a funny thing for me to say because I never wanted to be an author. I only ever wanted to be a pastor. But I’ve written ever how many books? And so people who’ve read my books, they’ll say, “How do I become an author?” And I’m the worst person to answer that, because I’ve never written a book that I have not been asked to write. So my guidance? Well, you sit around and wait for somebody to ask you to write a book and see how that works out. But that’s not what happens with most people. So it’s just this weird fluke.

I’ve been approached by a couple of publishers about a couple of different books, and I’m thinking about that. I’m praying about that. And so we’ll see. But there are a couple of things that I’m thinking about and praying about and talking with publishers about.

Eden: Wonderful. You write a lot about biblical counseling. And so for someone that’s not really familiar with what that phrase means, could you give us kind of a simple definition of biblical counseling?

Dr. Heath Lambert: Yeah. So a simple definition of biblical counseling. I think the Bible is about our problems. I think the Bible is not just about our problems. I think the Bible is about how to help with our problems. So I don’t think the Bible gave us a book about trouble and didn’t give us a book that is also about how to address those problems. And so I think we should read the Bible to find out what is wrong with us from God’s perspective. And I think we should read the Bible to find out how God wants to fix it.

Eden: Wonderful. It seems like we go to so many other things to find answers to our problems. And I think in some cases, those things are appropriate. You know, we’ve got other forms of counseling. We have therapies, we have self-help books, we have exercise, we have all sorts of things, and so where would you counsel someone to put Scripture when you stack it up against all those things? Where does Scripture fall in our toolbox of ways to solve our problems, if that makes sense?

Dr. Heath Lambert: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. So first of all, you’re talking about exercise. I would say the Bible addresses physical problems, but it’s not about physical problems in the way that it’s about spiritual problems. So I would definitely want to say if you’re having physical problems—medical problems—you definitely need to go see a physician. I think that’s instruction that we get from the Bible. You know, I had these brain surgeries and right before the anesthesia kicked in, if the doctor held up a Bible and said, “Don’t worry, I’m going to do everything it says.” I would be really disconcerted at that point because I think the Bible is about hugely significant things, but I don’t think it’s about surgery and the pills that we take.

After all these surgeries, I’ve got some nerve damage in my head. And so they’re trying to work out these medicinal solutions to that with injections and oral medication. And sometimes it looks like I’m squinting at you or like I’m getting ready to growl at you or take a bite out of you or something like that. And that’s going to take a medical solution to address those problems and I don’t think the Bible is about that. You got medical problems, I think you ought to go see a physician.

But when it comes to what has been called problems in living—you’re having trouble living your life, you’re struggling with those kinds of issues—well, I’ll say it like this, I think that you’ve got a couple of options.

You could go to secular psychology, which was really sort of founded by Sigmund Freud and all of his followers on down to today. It’s a true secular competitor for God’s understanding of who we are and God’s solutions of what should be right. So you’ve got that. That’s one option—secular psychology.

Then there’s another big group of people who would say, “Hey, listen, we know secular psychology’s got its problems. We also know the Bible is good, but it’s got its limitations. And so let’s take the good parts of psychology, let’s get rid of all the nasty, atheistic, horrible stuff that Christians don’t want, and let’s add that to the Bible to fill in the gaps of the Bible, and we’ll have this whole new brew where we’ve got the Bible, and its weaknesses,” they say, “augmented by the strengths of psychology without any of the nasty stuff. And we’ll get help from that new conglomeration of help.”

And then you’ve got people who think the Bible understands our problems. The Bible is written so that, as Paul tells Timothy, that the man of God may be complete, competent for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17).

So if those are the three big categories: psychology, an integrated mix of psychology and the Bible, or the Bible, I’m a Bible guy. So that’s kind of the range of how it goes. And I think Christians are best, when it comes to problems in living, to understand their problems and their solutions from Scripture.

Eden: What you said was so helpful and I think helps provide a framework so that as you see different sources of help, you can think, okay, which category does this fit into? And am I really relying on the Bible to meet the problems that the Bible says that I have? Or am I really seeking counsel from Scripture in areas of my life that really call for the Lord’s counsel?

I would love to talk a little bit about the topic of forgiveness. I thought, before we get into helping someone who’s struggling with unforgiveness, to hear a little bit from your life how God has worked forgiveness in your own heart—to whatever degree you’re willing to share about that.

Dr. Heath Lambert: Sure I’m willing to talk about it as much as you want to hear about it. That hasn’t always been the case, honestly, because for years the people that were involved in the story were—I mean, it wasn’t all my story. It was part my story but there were other people. There were other people involved. And it was impossible for me to tell my story without kind of telling on other people.

But my dad died about ten years ago, and my mom died a little bit before he did. One of the things my mom said when she couldn’t talk very much—she had come to know Jesus very late in her life, five years as it turned out, before she died—that she said on her deathbed was, “Heath, I want you to tell people about my story. I want you to tell people how the Lord changed me.”

And so the long and the short of it is my mom was an alcoholic for most of my growing up. Really, I guess, really all of it, and really made life miserable. I mean, I’ve got a twin brother named Keith. Heath and Keith. Our middle names make it worse, Heath Blaine and Keith Shane. But what are you going to do?

Eden: That’s so great!

Dr. Heath Lambert: Yeah, I know it’s funny. So I got a twin brother named Keith, and my mom abused alcohol, was addicted to it. And when she got drunk, she was really an angry drunk. And she took it out on me and my brother, and I really hated her. I mean, I truly hated her. And then I got saved. I got saved when I was a freshman in high school. She stopped drinking when I was around 12, kind of. I’m not exactly sure—you know, it’s not like we mark these things on the calendar, but I was about 12 when she stopped drinking. I got saved my freshman year of high school.

And about a year after that I was reading the Bible on my bed my sophomore year of high school. And I was reading in Matthew 18 about the parable of the unforgiving servant. And at the end of Matthew 18, when the unforgiving servant is cast into debtor’s prison, where he’s going to stay until he pays the last penny, Jesus says, “So also will my heavenly Father do to you if you don’t forgive your brother from the heart” (Matthew 18:35). I didn’t know any Greek. I had no seminary education under my belt, but I knew Jesus was talking to me. And I knew he was talking about my mom.

It was bitter to hear those words that Jesus was saying—in effect, “You have to forgive your mother.” And that was the first time and the last that I ever believed Jesus had taken something from me. I believed my hatred of my mother was mine, I believed it. I thought she earned it. I mean, when you when you do this to your kids… In fact, it wasn’t even me as much as the way she treated my dad. She was really terrible to the man I called my dad and it made me more angry than the way she treated me. And when you do that, I feel like you earn anger and hatred. And here was Jesus saying, “You can’t do that thing you like. You can’t have it.” It took me a year. It took me a year of wrestling and asking questions of people who knew more about the Bible than I did, praying, and struggling. And finally, I just realized, I’ve got to let this go. If I want Jesus to forgive me, then I have to forgive this woman. And the issue of forgiveness has been a defining struggle in my life because of my growing up years and what I had to do to forgive my mom.

Eden: Wow! Thank you for sharing that. And what did that release and that giving over of your unforgiveness to the Lord look like for you—because you said it took about a year?

Dr. Heath Lambert: Yeah. Because I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to do it. You know Jesus says, “So also will my heavenly Father do to you if you don’t forgive your brother from the heart” (Matthew 18:35). Well I’m sitting there a sophomore in high school with no Christian family. I didn’t know how to do it. Okay, well, what do you want, then? I just knew I’m not allowed to hate her. I knew that. But okay, well, if I can’t hate her, what? So the first piece of struggle is   And then I decided, okay, well, you’re Jesus. So you kind of get to say…all right. Fine. So I’m not allowed to do it. So then it turned into well, I’ll be nice to her. That’s the best I could come up with as a sophomore going to a church with some people who couldn’t help me that much. They were trying, but they just didn’t know how to help me that much. And so I just decided, well, I’ll be nice to her. And I tried that for a long time.

It’s not horrible, by the way, for people who are listening and wondering what it [forgiveness] is. Being nice isn’t horrible. I would say now if somebody said, “Well, what is this?” I would say, well, being nice to them is something you should do, but I wouldn’t say it’s the essence of forgiveness.

Then I decided, well, what I’ll do is I’ll share the gospel with her. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll forgive her by sharing Jesus with her. And I would also say, hey, somebody who’s listening to this, you don’t know what forgiveness is, sharing the gospel is one thing you might do as the overflow of forgiveness, but it’s not necessarily the essence of it. And in my case, it actually made things worse because my mom hated me, too. So I hate you. You hate me. We’re just this ball of hatred. And so when I was nice to her, she didn’t know what to do with that. And that would make her angry when I was nice to her. And when I shared the gospel with her, oh my goodness, oh my goodness. She thought I was a religious nut job. And so when I would share Jesus with her, she thought I was this big freak.

So honestly, it was cycling through what does this mean and how do I do it? And then how do I respond when I’m nice to you but you don’t respond with this nice, lovey-dovey Christian…like, how do I do that? And so what I would say now is my more mature response of what I would say to my 14-year-old self. Forgiveness is when you release someone from the relational penalties, from the relational consequences, of their sin. So you were horrible to me and you were horrible to the man I called my dad. And you do deserve to have no relationship with us. You do deserve meanness and nastiness. But forgiveness is when I admit all of those things. I never say what you did was not wrong. It’s not like we whitewash sin at all. But for this reason, we say that sin stored up relational consequences and forgiveness is, I’m going to let those go and I’m not going to treat you the way your sin deserves. I didn’t do that in a year. That took me a lot longer than a year. But it took me a year to kind of get on track and moving in the right direction.

Eden: Yeah. What would you say to someone who says, you know, I can release them from the relational consequences, as you say, of their sin, but I can’t get rid of this profound sense of hurt? How would you counsel someone who feels that way?

Dr. Heath Lambert: You know, where I would start with somebody like that is to say, sin does hurt us. Sin does cause us grievous pain. I mean, there are going to be people watching this who have been sinned against in some of the most shockingly terrible ways that you can imagine. And I would never want to be heard by one of those people as saying, “Well, forget about the hurt. Forget about the pain. Just soldier on with life.” I wouldn’t want to be heard that way. I was just talking with somebody just the other day about this. I would want to picture two mountain peaks, two mountain peaks miles apart. And where you are is at all of the hurt and all of the pain that the sin of someone else has caused you. And that other mountain peak is full forgiveness, where there is full restoration and full joy. In between those two mountain peaks is a great big valley, and all you can see are the treetops of that valley. And down underneath those treetops there’s a trail down there, but there are logs that go across the trail and there are rocks on the trail, there’s a big river on the trail. It’s going to be a journey to get from the hurt and the pain where you are to the full forgiveness where there’s just mutual joy and it’s all not a thing anymore.

And forgiveness starts when you’re just willing to start the journey. So if you can just see the peak over there in the distance (that’s full joy and restoration), if you could just be willing to start to take a step, then let’s go with that. You don’t have to feel—so just to take a real live case: Let’s say a wife has just found out that her husband has been cheating on her with her best friend. I know several stories like that. Husband has been cheating on me with my best friend, and he just found out, and now he’s saying, can you forgive me? And the answer to that question should be, yes. Yes, I can forgive you. But it’s too much to expect for that woman to immediately just be restored to all the joy and trust and all of that that she had before she knew it. You’ve got to let her emotions, their relationship even, catch up to what she knows now. And that’s going to take some time. But if you’d be willing to walk the path, then that is a commitment to forgiveness that I think we can live with.

Eden: Yes, that’s a really helpful illustration. And as we think about unforgiveness and continuing to harbor that, that’s something that Jesus said to you, you can’t do that. And in the passage that you shared, he says, “If you don’t forgive, I won’t forgive you either” (Matthew 18:35). And so talk a little bit more for someone that maybe is less familiar with Scripture about what are the consequences in our lives for refusing to take that journey if we harbor unforgiveness and are unwilling to let that go.

Dr. Heath Lambert: Yeah. So the consequences are as high as they could possibly be. So Jesus says—my goodness—”If you don’t forgive your brother, that is what my heavenly Father is going to do to you,” that is, cast into prison. It’s an analogy of hell. He’s saying if you don’t forgive your brother, you’re going to hell. If you don’t forgive your brother, you’re not saved.

Now, there are a couple of ways to potentially interpret that. One way to interpret that is salvation-by-forgiveness. So the biblical way to be saved is to forgive people of their sins. Well, we know that’s not how to interpret it, because the whole New Testament is about how Jesus is our Savior from sin. So it can’t be that now, all of a sudden, Jesus kind of lost his mind there, went a little kooky and said, “If you really want to be saved, the path to salvation is by forgiveness.” So it’s not that.

What Jesus is doing is he is saying, “what it means to know me, what it means to know me is to live in a world of forgiveness” where God the Father has a sheet of indebtedness and every word, every action, every thought—I mean, just think about, whoever’s watching this, just think about since you’ve been up this morning. Oh my goodness! I mean there is a record of sin (Colossians 2:13-14). And when you come to Christ and turn from your sin and trust in him, you are believing that Jesus’ perfect life earned your righteousness, that when he died on the cross, he takes all of that sin record and he crumples it up and he throws it away. And when he raises from the grave, he demonstrates that he is the one who has power to accomplish that. And so you live in this world of forgiveness that is purchased for you by Jesus and you are on the receiving end of an eternal amount of forgiveness.

What it means to be a Christian is to understand the transaction of forgiveness. And if you could look at somebody who’s sinned against you far less than you have sinned against the Lord, and you will say, well, I don’t forgive you. I am going to hold on to your sins, then you just you just don’t know what it means to be forgiven. In fact, that’s the point of the whole parable. The unforgiving servant didn’t get that a master, to whom he was in debt, forgave him everything he owed. And he could not forgive a comparatively smaller debt. So what Jesus is saying is, if you can’t forgive, you just don’t understand the way forgiveness works. And so you won’t be saved. And so when people sin against us, tiny amounts, our ability to forgive them winds up being an actual test case for whether we understand the way forgiveness works. And if we know that the Father has forgiven us an infinite amount, if we know that we are swimming in an ocean of forgiveness, then we’ll be able to dole out little thimbles of forgiveness to people who’ve wronged us as well.

Eden: Yes. Amen to that. Wow. And I would love to hear the end of your story with your mom. You said that she actually told you to share your story. So I assume that after your high school self came to the point of granting real forgiveness, that there were some changes that took place. So could you tell us about those things?

Dr. Heath Lambert: Yeah. So I started trying to be nice to her and it was super hard. Oh my goodness. Because I didn’t have the feelings there. You know, I mean, I had a commitment to do what Jesus said. Jesus said it. So I’m like, okay, fine. I told you, this is the first and the last time of my life where I ever really believed Jesus took something from me. But I couldn’t argue with him. I mean, what are you going to do? He’s Jesus. And I’m sitting here as a sophomore with my ugly purple bedspread. All right, I will forgive her, whatever that means. And so I spent a little bit of time trying to figure that out. Well, I’ll be nice. She wasn’t nice back. Well, I’ll share the gospel with her. My goodness, that made it worse. I mean, that made the relationship worse because she could not believe that I was doing this. So our relationship was tough.

The big changes came first when my other brother—so I have two older brothers. One’s 13 years older. The one that was 11 years older than I am, he died a few years ago and then I’ve got my twin brother that I told you about. And their lives were just kind of going haywire. And mom saw their lives going haywire and she saw mine not. And so that kind of softened her a little bit, like, what’s this kid doing that these others aren’t? That was one big thing.

Another big thing was when she met the woman who would become my wife. So my wife’s name is Lauren. We’ve been married for over 20 years now. But when my mom first met her it blew her mind. I mean, I’m just telling you, it cooked her because she expected me—I’m this Christian—she expects me to come in with this weirdo girl who—I don’t know what she expected, but she expected to have this kooky girl that was like, whatever version of hyper religious she thought of. Well, here comes Lauren. And she was, like, really cute. And she had her hair done and she was super funny. And what happened is my mom saw in her a picture of the kind of woman she had always wanted to be but didn’t know how to do it. And she and Lauren became besties. I think, we’ll find out in heaven, but I think it was the single most important thing in my mom shifting and softening before she actually came to faith.

Then my mom really started softening. She really started changing. I could give you a bunch of details, but she just started becoming a new person. She wasn’t a Christian, but she was a different kind of person than any of us had ever seen. And then Lauren and I get married and a few years after we got married—I guess it had to be 8 years after we got married or so—I went to go visit her. She was having some health struggles. It wasn’t the health struggles that would ultimately take her life, but she was having some health struggles. And I went and I shared the gospel with her, and I just said, “Mom, I want you to think about the Lord. I want you to turn from your sin and trust in Jesus.”

And she said, “I can’t do that.” And I said, “Why can’t you do that?” And she said, “Because I have done things that you don’t know about. And the Lord would never forgive me of these things.” And I said, “Mom, this is what I’m trying to tell you. The Lord will forgive you of every sin you have ever committed.” And she said, “He is not going to forgive me like this.” And I said, “Well, what is it? What? Let me know what it is and let’s see if we can talk about it.” And she said, “I cannot tell you what it is.” And I said, “Well, listen, if you don’t want to tell me, that’s your business.” But I said, “Try this. I am a pastor. All I do is talk to people about their sins. And you’re probably not going to tell me something that I haven’t heard of.” She argued for a little bit, and I said, “Listen, you don’t have to tell me, but I want to help you.” And so finally she said, “Okay. Listen.”

And she told me about this abortion that she had had. And I said, “Well, the Lord’s going to”—she said, “Well, that’s not the big thing.” And I said, “Okay, well what’s the big thing?” And she said, “I wanted to have an abortion with you. I wanted to abort you and Keith.”

So she was married to the man I call my dad, who’s dead now. She was married to that guy when she was having an affair. And when the guy she was having an affair with got her pregnant (with me and my twin brother), she thought she would be able to trap him into leaving his wife, and they’d live happily ever after. This guy, that I’ve only met once, offered to pay for her abortion when she told him about it. She didn’t have the abortion because she thought, if I give birth to this kid—she didn’t know it was twins at the time—if I give birth to this kid, he’s really going to leave his wife. And he didn’t. And she said, “that’s why I hated you, because I thought you would be my ticket to this guy, and you weren’t. I wanted you gone, the only reason I didn’t is to get him.

And so, I said, “okay, well, mom, let me tell you something.” I said, “I love you. I’m glad you didn’t do it. I’m thankful that you didn’t have the abortion. Listen, here’s the thing, I love you, and I forgive you for wanting to abort me.”

I said, “I forgive you.” And I said, “do you know what? If you ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you, he will forgive you too.” And so actually, I still have the Bible that we prayed over 1 John 1:9. I still have the Bible with her tears on it where she prayed to ask the Lord to forgive her. And she did.

Now, fast forward real quick. So now she’s a Christian, and I come back the next week to visit her. She was living about an hour and a half away from me. And she had called the woman—so the man who’s my biological father, his wife actually wound up leaving him and my mom called her. Her name was Louise, this other woman. And she said, “Louise, I want to ask your forgiveness because of what I did. I ruined your marriage. I ruined your family. And I’ve become a Christian, and the Lord has forgiven me. And I want to ask your forgiveness.” And this woman, Louise was her name, she said, “You know what, Paulette? I do forgive you because Jesus forgave me, too.” And so I’m like, Oh my gosh. This is the craziest thing! 

Eden: That’s amazing!

Dr. Heath Lambert: Jesus is unleashing like a torrent of forgiveness in everybody’s life. That defines who I am. So that’s the rest of the story.

Eden: That’s incredible to think what the Lord can do. I think a way that God has been challenging me recently is—you know, sometimes when he exposes sin in our heart or he says something to us that may be similar to you hearing about forgiveness that we don’t like initially, that instead of seeing it as, oh, he’s just upset with me, we see it as an opportunity for him to do us good, and that he wants our joy and he wants what’s best for us. And so when the Lord is asking you, you know, “Heath, please release this forgiveness,” like, “you must do this.” He was also starting this long trail of wonderful mercies in the lives of all these other people.

I just find that so inspiring to obey the Lord. That when we obey him, it’s for our good and for our joy. His ways, even the really tough ones, when we’re releasing to him things that we want to keep, he’s only asking us for those things because he deeply loves us, and he’s got good in mind.

Dr. Heath Lambert: Yeah. That’s right.

Eden: Wow. Well, thank you so much for sharing that story with us. And I hope that just really blesses and inspires and grows faith in the hearts of those listening to this, that God can do incredible things in their life as well.

I would love to close with just hearing about a couple of books that have transformed your life. So we want to suggest to our listeners some things to read and put on their bookshelf. So what are some, maybe one or two books that have just absolutely blown you away?

Dr. Heath Lambert: Okay, so it’s actually funny. I was just talking to my assistant. And I—stick with me for a second—I hate this question because I feel like my life has been transformed by so many books. But I love you. And so I want to answer the question.

A couple of books. I think one that I’m quickest with is a book called A Hunger for God by John Piper. What the book seems like it is about, like if you picked it up and you read the back of the thing, you would think it’s about fasting. He talks about fasting a whole lot in the book. But I’m just telling you what the book is really, really, really about is loving Jesus better than anything. And food happens to be one competitor with Jesus for a lot of people. And so it’s about putting Jesus first in all areas of your life. So a person hearing that might not be interested in a book on fasting or whatever, but I’m just telling you, you could read it and say, hey, I’m never going to fast, but I want to read what he has to say about how to love Jesus better than everything. So I would say that book.

And then I would say, maybe just as a second one, The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer. So all of Tozer’s books are good, I think. I love to read Tozer. Tozer is a guy who writes the truth. And he writes it in a really beautiful way. So many people write the truth, but it’s not beautifully written. Tozer writes beautiful truth and beautiful words, and I love it. And The Pursuit of God is about what it sounds like it’s about. It’s about following God and putting him first and prizing him. That was another life-changer. So that’s two. And then maybe Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Maybe.

Eden: Okay, great. Yes, we’ll take that too.

Dr. Heath Lambert: I’m just telling you, if you read it with eyes of faith, it’s a game-changer.

Eden: That’s a great suggestion.

So thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. Thank you for your insight and sharing your story. Super appreciate it. And we will look forward to seeing what new things come out on the shelf with your name on it. So hopefully some of those will be added to our bookshelf.

Dr. Heath Lambert: All right. Well, it was absolutely my pleasure to be here with you. I’m so, so thankful for you, for your ministry, and for your time.

Eden: Thank you so much for listening to our podcast today. If you enjoyed our conversation, I would encourage you to like or subscribe to our podcast so that you can hear the next conversation. And if something that you heard today spoke to your heart or got you thinking, I would encourage you to not let the day go by without talking to God about what’s on your mind. We believe that he loves you and that he’s pursuing you today out of that love.

The Bibles.net Podcast is hosted by our editor, Eden. But it is the collective effort of both our team members and friends. We want to especially thank Austin, Jenny, Wynne, Juan, Owen, and Evelyn for their help with audio, video, editing, graphics, and publication.