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Anibal sat in a Brazilian jail cell, guilty of murder. He was a weightlifter, with bulging biceps, a leathery face and a tattoo of an anchor on his forearm that seemed to symbolize his personality. But he appeared to soften as the preacher talked with him about guilt, forgiveness, a God who knew everything about Him - yet loved him anyway, and the hope of heaven - something no executioner could take away.


But he hardened again at the suggestion that the first step to coming to Christ was an admission of guilt. Phrases like "I'm sorry" "Forgive me" "I've been wrong" were not a part of his vocabulary. He didn't back down for any man, and apparently that applied to God as well.


"Don't you want to go to heaven?" The preacher asked.


"Sure."


"Are you ready?"


Earlier he might have said yes, but after hearing numerous verses from the Bible he knew better. He paused for a long time. "All right, I'll become one of your Christians. But don't expect me to change the way I live."


"You don't draw up the rules. It's not a contract that you negotiate. It's a gift. An undeserved gift. But to receive it, you have to admit that you need it."


"OK. But don't expect to see me at church on Sundays."


Story from Max Lucado's The Applause of Heaven

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