Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. ~Paul Boese
by Toni Birdsong
Twenty five years is a long time to wait for an apology. Still, the moment went something like this thanks to our ability to send anyone, anywhere a private Facebook message:
Me: Dear Kelly, I certainly wouldn’t blame you if cuss me out, block me, or never even respond to this message. The way I treated you in high school haunts me to this day. You didn’t deserve any of it. The real truth? You were prettier than me, smarter, and basically—everything I wasn’t. I was jealous and I made your life hell because of it. I’m so ashamed of the hurt I caused you. Is there any way you would even consider forgiving me?
God’s Word instructs us how to love each other well. A compassionate, forgiving, and contrite heart can be a mighty kingdom expanding force. Stand on these verses and The Holy Spirit will empower you to shower others with supernatural mercy and grace.
1. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:11-12
2. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, -Matthew 5:44
3. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. -Matthew 6:12
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. - Luke 6:7
Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice. ~ Psalm 51:17, The Message
by Tami Heim
John Bishop, pastor of Living Hope Church in Vancouver, Washington, spoke at Ruth Graham’s gathering at The Cove, in Ashville, North Carolina last week. During a 2-day intensive on transparency that included diverse minds from around the country, John shared what it means to be a living example of transparency and what Ruth Graham calls outrageous grace.
You see, Living Hope Church was the first mega church to invite Ted and Gail Haggard to speak after their return to full-time ministry following a very public scandal. John transported us back to that day at his church and shared how God moved. It just so happened, Ted Haggard was sitting in the audience at the Cove while John spoke, which amplified the humanity of the moment. Here’s a video that recaps that outrageous grace-filled day at Living Hope Church. You really don’t want to miss this . . .
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. – Romans 7:15, NIV
by Tami Heim
There’s a tension in the body of Christ around words like confession, transparent, holiness, acceptance, grace, and forgiveness. Passions easily ignite when these words arise among believers. Core beliefs and life experience determine how each word ranks in the conversation and how deep that conversation will go. As we engage a needful world in increasingly public ways the question becomes even more imperative: Is transparency in the Church really possible?
“For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?” ~ Matthew 5:46-47, NKJV
by Toni Birdsong
Transformation is rough. In fact, it’s one of the most gut-wrenching, albeit exhilarating, spiritual overhauls you can experience as a Christian. The whole “death to self” thing can get pretty dicey especially when it’s . . . perpetual.
So what do you do when God’s Truth collides head-on with your personal traditions, political or social leanings, prejudices (those things you call convictions), or your customized value system?
If you are a Pharisee your face turns a pulsating shade of rage, you criticize, make excuses, resist, rationalize, and even call for the death of the audacious messenger who would speak such contrary “truth.”
John 3:16 is as sticky as it gets. This awesome verse is the heart of the gospel and packs the kind of power that interrupts even the most impossible, stubborn, know-it-all heart.
by Toni Birdsong
In this verse Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus, a respected member of the Jewish council. Nicodemus was a scholar who knew the law of the scriptures inside out but—who like the other Pharisees—lived his life clueless about the Love (intent) of the scriptures.