April 2018, Word from the WORD

Forgiveness by Latangela Fay

Our ‘Word of the Word’ Forgiveness

By LaTangela Fay

It comes from the tips of our tongues, but how do we know when it truly comes from the heart?

I’ve wrestled with my pen and pad while searching for what I felt would be the perfect article on “forgiveness.” After hundreds of crumpled sheets of paper and do-overs, I prayed a little harder and asked God to help me encourage you to let go of that burden that is weighing you down: hurt, anger, neglect, abuse, betrayal… any and all rush of emotions you are feeling because you are holding on to a disappointment that has shifted your gears.

We need the level of forgiveness that will allow us to see the lesson that was attached to that string of misfortune, the one that left us with a grief. It takes a prayerful heart and a level of spiritual maturity to reach the level of forgiveness that will allow us to find peace even in the midst of that particular storm.

Sometimes, it is easier to identify that grudge we are holding against someone else, but when was the last time you used the power of forgiveness towards yourself? There comes a time when occurrences become more familiar than not, and we find that we are drawing the same energy, patterns and results because we refuse to allow ourselves to eliminate the common denominator that very well may be holding us back: the guilt we hold against ourselves. Let it go. It is a new day and the stronghold that held you yesterday should hold less power over your life today.

Ephesians 4:31, 32:

Verse 31: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”

32) “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Forgiveness is the ultimate gift. Not only to others, but to yourself … and from God to us. If our heavenly Father sees fit to render forgiveness, let us follow closer to His teachings and strive to be more like Him day by day.

 

Latangela Fay is an award winning radio and media personality, author, songwriter, and production director at Cumulous Media. She is also a consultant and contributor to Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine. 

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April 2018, Pastor's Perspective

Pastor’s Perspective: Forgiveness, Healing, and the Resurrection by Rev. Charles DeGravelles

Forgiveness, Healing and the Resurrection
By the Rev. Charles deGravelles

Charles DeGravelles is a deacon in the Episcopal Church.

People are crammed into every corner of the room. They spill through the open door into the street. Some have pushed into the crowded room only to listen and be lifted in spirit; after all, the Teacher’s words make all things seem possible. But by now, everyone has heard that the Master can, with a word or a touch, cure any condition or infirmity, and many have come with a secret prayer for healing—for themselves or someone they love. Among those on the street is a paralyzed man who nurtures in his heart such a hope. The two friends who carry him on a stretcher, determined to make this happen, somehow get him onto the roof and, after removing some of the thatching, lower him to the feet of Jesus.

The paralyzed man, his friends, and all who have watched this astonishing sight are disappointed by what Jesus says: “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Where is the healing in this, they think? Others are offended: “Only God can forgive sins. Does this man think he is God?” (Luke 5:18-25.)

As always, Jesus’ words are a lesson about the Kingdom of God and what it takes to live in it. Forgiveness, the Master is teaching, is an indispensable part of the true healing required to live in God’s Kingdom. It is a deep healing of the soul that transcends the physical. He teaches this lesson over and over again. His answer to Peter’s question – how many times should we forgive – may seem cryptic, “seventy times seven, but what he means is we should forgive a limitless number of times. In the parable Jesus uses to explain this difficult lesson, a king generously forgives the great debt of a man who then refuses to forgive a much lesser debt owed to him (Matthew 18:21-35). The point? God, who sees and loves us as we are, forgives our innumerable shortcomings and expects us to do the same with one another. Lest we think Jesus is exaggerating the importance of forgiveness, among his dying words on the cross are forgiveness for those who condemned, tortured and killed him: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  (Luke 23:34).

In over twenty-five years of ministry—in prisons and in the “free” world—I’ve witnessed the pain, turmoil and despair that we can cause one another, and I’ve also seen many times, even in the most extreme situations, the miracle of healing that forgiveness brings. I’ve experienced it in my own life and that of my family.

Some denominations, including my own, use the season of Lent these days before Easter as a time for deep reflection and self-sacrifice. For some, it is a time of “giving up” something that, in however small a way, reminds us of what Jesus suffered and gave up for us. As we walk with Jesus through his most difficult days, we may want to reflect on where, in our own lives, forgiveness may be called for. Instead of (or, if you like, in addition to) making a vow to give up chocolate or soft drinks or meat, why not make an honest assessment of your shortcomings that may have caused others pain, and also the resentments, angers, or grudges towards others that you are carrying. Ask for God’s forgiveness and for help in forgiving others. The resurrection of Easter will be for you, as it was for the paralyzed man who picked up his mat and walked, a time of healing and new life.

Charles deGravelles is a deacon in the Episcopal Church. A long-time prison minister, he helped found The Chapel of the Transfiguration, an Episcopal congregation at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, and was a spiritual mentor to a death row inmate there. He is a graphic artist, composer and writer whose biography of the LSU football legend, Billy Cannon: A Long, Long Run (LSU Press), won the Louisiana Library Association best book of 2015. He and his wife, Angela, are the proud parents of three and grandparents of two.

Bishop Ronald for Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine
April 2018, Faith Life

THE BLESSING OF FORGIVENESS

THE BLESSING OF FORGIVENESS

Bishop Ronald for Baton Rouge Christian Life Magazine
Bishop Ronald Hardy, Sr. is the Pastor of Faith, Hope and Love Worship Centers of Baton Rouge and St. Francisville, Louisiana

Today, I want to inspire you to open your heart to experience t

he blessing of forgiveness. The

word blessing is defined as a beneficial thing for which one i

s grateful, something that brings

well-being. It is important to understand that forgiveness is

for our well-being. The Lord knows

what is best for us. This is why He commands us to forgive.

There are some key benefits or advantages to forgiveness.

So, why is this so important to

know? Because it may seem like you are coming up on the sh

ort end of the stick when you

operate in the spirit of forgiveness, but you are not.

Listen to what the Apostle Paul says to the church at Co

rinth in II Corinthians 2:10-11:

To

whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it

, for your

sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are

not ignorant of his devices.

”Today, I want to inspire you to open your heart to experience t

he blessing of forgiveness. The

word blessing is defined as a beneficial thing for which one i

s grateful, something that brings

well-being. It is important to understand that forgiveness is

for our well-being. The Lord knows

what is best for us. This is why He commands us to forgive.

There are some key benefits or advantages to forgiveness.

So, why is this so important to

know? Because it may seem like you are coming up on the sh

ort end of the stick when you

operate in the spirit of forgiveness, but you are not.

Listen to what the Apostle Paul says to the church at Co

rinth in II Corinthians 2:10-11:

To

whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it

, for your

sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are

not ignorant of his devices.

”Today, I want to inspire you to open your heart to experience t

he blessing of forgiveness. The

word blessing is defined as a beneficial thing for which one i

s grateful, something that brings

well-being. It is important to understand that forgiveness is

for our well-being. The Lord knows

what is best for us. This is why He commands us to forgive.

There are some key benefits or advantages to forgiveness.

So, why is this so important to

know? Because it may seem like you are coming up on the sh

ort end of the stick when you

operate in the spirit of forgiveness, but you are no

There are some key benefits or advantages to forgiveness. So, why is this so important to know? Because it may seem like you are coming up on the short end of the stick when you operate in the spirit of forgiveness, but you are not.

Listen to what the Apostle Paul says to the church at Corinth in II Corinthians 2:10-11: “To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also: for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

You see, unforgiveness allows Satan to get the advantage over us.  However, forgiveness allows us to get the advantage over him. So, you should never feel that you are coming up on the short end of the stick when you operate in true forgiveness. So, let’s look at some of the Blessings of Forgiveness.

 Ephesians 4:30-32 says, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Forgiveness allows us to experience freedom to properly move forward in life. You must forgive, so you can put the past behind you. As long as your past is before you, it will block you from properly seeing your future, and it will also hinder you from embracing your present.

You see, unforgiveness keeps us emotionally trapped, which can result in different types of unhealthy emotions like bitterness, rage or anger. Bitterness is a smoldering resentment or wrath that produces rage. Rage is the heat of passion in the moment of anger. Anger is a more internally deep form of hostility or clamor[1]. You cannot allow yourself to stay trapped in these emotions, because it will rob you of God’s best for your life. Forgiveness is the key to getting free from these emotions. It is time for you to experience a freedom in your life through the Blessing of Forgiveness.

The second Blessing of Forgiveness is that it allows us to experience a new beginning. God’s open display of forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, opens the door for a new beginning. Colossians 1:14 says, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” It is through His forgiveness that we are able to have a new-found relationship with Him.

            Forgiveness will always leave the door open for a possible “new start” in your relationship with the individual that you are forgiving. It is the key to leaving the door open for a possibility of another chance with that individual. However, please remember that forgiveness does not mean that you should continue to put yourself in the same position to be mistreated again. Forgiveness means that you are not holding any resentment, hatred or wishing any ill will towards that particular individual.

            Let me share a story with you about a new beginning. A young couple in my church was about to have their first child, which caused the wife to think about her husband’s situation with his father. The husband knew of his father, but he did not have his father’s last name. The wife wanted her husband to have his biological father’s last name, because she did not want their daughter to grow up carrying a last name that was not her true identity.  So, she asked her husband to talk to his biological father about signing his birth certificate, so he could have the same last name as his biological father. This would allow him to pass his biological father’s last name to his daughter.

Initially, he did not want to ask his father, because his father was not involved in his life. She continued to be persistent, but he still refused to do it.  Eventually, he got his hands on the book that I wrote, “Where is Daddy?” After reading the book, he shared with his wife that he would follow through with her request if his father would first read the book.

            So, they sent the book to his father. His father’s wife called and told him that his father was brought to tears while he read the book. So, he and his father decided to meet. They both expressed their feelings, and because he was willing to forgive his father for not being there for him while he was growing up, they were able to experience a new beginning in their relationship. The name was changed on the husband’s birth certificate, which allowed their newborn child to carry her true identity. The father and son have a good relationship now, because of the Blessing of Forgiveness. As I stated earlier, forgiveness opens the door for a new beginning.

            The last thing that I want to share is that forgiveness keeps us in good standing with our Heavenly Father. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” So, if you have been struggling with forgiveness, it is time for you to forgive, so that you can walk in your new-found freedom.

            You might be saying that the individual does not deserve my forgiveness. That is exactly right. Forgiveness is not something that is earned or deserved. Forgiveness is something freely given. I have been confronted with this many times in my life. It hasn’t always been easy, but I had to choose to forgive. Forgiveness is an act of your own will. If you can see the blessing in forgiveness, then maybe it will become a little easier to forgive.


[1] Clamor: the cry of strife or contention; out of control and, lastly, evil speaking in the form of slander.

 

Bishop Ronald Hardy, Sr. is the Pastor of Faith, Hope and Love Worship Centers of Baton Rouge and St. Francisville, Louisiana a multifaceted ministry touching the lives of many. He is a preacher, teacher, prophet and author. God has given Bishop Hardy a Ministry of Restoration.

Bishop Hardy has authored two books, one that will enrich marriage entitled, “A Loke Like This”  and the other one “Where Is Daddy?” A book that brings restoration to the hearts of fathers and the fatherless. He also authors the Daily Word, a Monday-Friday devotional that helps people navigate through their daily life. This daily Word can be viewed on the face book page of Faith, Hope and Love Worship Center.

Bishop Hardy is married to Robbin Hardy and they have four living children and seven grandchildren.

April 2018, Millennial Life

Millennial Life, By Jessica LeBlanc

Millennial Life, Forgiveness

By Jessica LeBlanc

Forgiveness can be a sensitive topic of conversation for some. Let’s face it. One of the hardest things a person can do is forgive. It’s unheard of to the natural man. It doesn’t make sense. It goes against human nature. But still, Jesus requires this of His followers. To forgive is woven into the fabric of who God is. When Jesus was suffering and dying on the cross, His request was for God the Father to forgive His persecutors. How amazing is that?

We are commanded to forgive even when they’re not sorry, even when we’re betrayed. Betrayal can come in varying degrees and many different forms.

When I was in high school, I had just gotten a prestigious honor to be the emcee at a national convention for an organization. I was over the moon! I had worked really hard for that honor and was thankful for the position. Chosen out of dozens of applicants from around the country to represent was a great reward. Anyway, I was on a team with several other high school students that was being led by three adults. Well, it didn’t take long for me to realize I was the odd girl out. Over the course of the convention (which spanned several days) I was consistently attacked. For example, I was deliberately given the wrong time for an important meeting, ostracized from the other kids and made to feel like I wasn’t supposed to be there…by the adults. Of course, I called home crying, explaining what was happening. My parents counseled me to let my chaperone know what was going on with the national leaders. I did, and my chaperone corroborated my story and acknowledged that what was happening to me, at the hands of adults no less, was wrong. Back in my hotel room, I cried and cried because I felt all alone. And I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to intentionally try to sabotage me.

But even in that situation God showed me that I really wasn’t alone. He was with me the entire time. Every time I was attacked in some sort of way, He always came back and reassured me of His protection. Although my forgiveness journey did not start and end at that convention, it was the beginning of a lifelong lesson on forgiveness that would come up time and time again in other situations God allowed me to face. It was my first major lesson in Forgiveness that would prove to help me in adulthood when I had to forgive someone for even more. Circumstances may change, but the process of forgiving remains the same.

Because I was a child, it was very difficult for me to process being attacked by adults versus those who are my peers. It made the cut deeper. But the Bible says to pray for our enemies.

I prayed for them many times after that. Forgiveness is not a single act that takes place on a specific day. It’s a process. Regardless of what was done to you, God commands us to forgive and pray for those who misuse and abuse us. We are to love our enemies. But that doesn’t mean put ourselves in harm’s way and willingly become a victim of bad treatment. We are to forgive just as Christ forgives us. Colossians 3:13 says “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Although it’s a process, it’s also a commandment. As children of God, He expects certain behavior from us and forgiving is expected. So, whatever you may be facing right now or whoever you may have to forgive (even if it’s yourself) just know that healing and peace is on the other side of your obedience.

Jessica LeBlanc is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated journalist who was named one of the top student television news reporters in the country by College Broadcasters in 2011. While in college, she traveled abroad to Europe and wrote political and human interests stories for UPIU.com (an extension of United Press International). Upon graduation from Southeastern Louisiana University, she began working at WBRZ News 2 in Baton Rouge as a multimedia journalist and later an as anchor. Originally from New Orleans, she spends her free time working on her blog Moments with Jess, reading, taking on various speaking engagements and spending time with her family.

April 2018, Family Life

The Love of the Father – Earthly and Divine by Robert Maxie

The Love of the Father… Earthly and divine

Robert and Aminga Maxie
Robert and Aminga Maxie spend time with their children Kianna, Robert Jr., Olivia, Elijah, and Jon’Benet

By: Robert Maxie

It was in February of 2014 that I woke up from a dream with an urgent need to call my father. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed his number, and to my surprise he picked up the phone on the first ring. I tried making small talk but it was mostly silent. My father and I have never been close. Years of physical abuse, alcoholism, and domestic violence made it very hard for me to build any type of relationship with him. Finally, he asked me what I wanted and I replied “a better relationship.” I told him I loved him and just wanted his love as well. After I finished speaking, there was an awkward silence. Finally, he said, “I think our relationship is just fine.” His cold reply hurt, but I did what I felt God wanted me to do. So I had peace.

In May I received a voicemail from my mother asking me to call home as soon as possible. She stated that Dad awoke that morning unable to see and she was taking him to the doctor. We would later find out that he had brain cancer that was very aggressive. Within a month, he was in hospice. I flew home to see him knowing that this would be my last time. My father, who was always so huge in my eyes, looked frail and worn. The brain tumor had taken his sight completely and he was quickly losing normal functioning. My mom announced my presence, saying, “Your son is here.” At that moment, my father looked up as if he could see me and said, “I have no son.” My mother quickly stated that he didn’t know what he was saying … those were my father’s last words to me.

My father passed away on July 1, and on that day I was discharged from the Navy and started preparing to move back to Louisiana. Within a week, we were home, moving into a new house and preparing for my father’s funeral. Everything happened so fast there was no time to grieve and I don’t remember even crying — until one evening when my mom called and asked me how I was doing. I said I was fine and she replied, “You do know your father loved you?” Within seconds, I was on the floor crying and screaming, “No I don’t.”

I heard those words in my head every day — “I don’t have a son.” I felt like Esau standing at the bed of Isaac, saying, “Would you just bless me!” In my mind I know my father was sick and probably didn’t know what he was saying, but for the last four years the enemy has had a field day attacking my mind with thought after thought and with lie after lie. I was sinking deeper and deeper into a depression and no one knew I was suffering.

One day I just got tired of letting the enemy torment my mind, and instead of focusing on what my earthly father did or did not do, I would instead focus on my heavenly father and his unconditional love for me. He never denies me and he calls me son. For so long I felt like an orphan and I began reading and talking about the heart of God the father and what he says about me. I allowed Jesus into those father wounds so he could heal me. I needed God to remove the fear of rejection from my heart. The pain was killing me slowly and making me become bitter.

(Galatians 4:5-7) “To redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father. So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”

He called me a son! He is my perfect father. I spent years looking for a father figure only to continually end up hurt and disappointed. But God has been there the whole time waiting for me to forgive and to let go of the pain of the past. It doesn’t matter the size of the wound … I learned that a person never finds healing until we forgive.

Today I choose to remember the best about my earthly father because I know that in his own way, he did love me and he did the best he could with what he had. But my identity comes from God and every day I feel his love and acceptance. So as I raise my three boys, I tell them every day how much I love them, but more importantly, I want them to know how much God loves them. I want them to know that I am human and I will make mistakes — but God will never leave them nor forsake them. He loves them unconditionally and that will never change.

(1 John 3:1) “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

Cover Story, September 2016

About the Cover

About the Cover

SeptCoverPictured: Nathan D’Gerolamo and Ian Smith

This picture represents a new-found friendship between two young boys that was sparked through their intentional efforts to learn to understand one another, accept their differences, search for similarities and hold tight to common bonds.

As one of the young boys arrived at a Christian day camp this summer worried about fitting in and wondering if he would make new friends, so did the other. And thus the week at camp began for these two boys and their small group with some fear, mistrust and misunderstanding of one another. But with the support and prayers of camp counselors, church staff and family members, and a creative idea that a rainbow loom bracelet and a hug can be given as a peace offering, the tensions were lessened and friendships and bonding began to take hold.

At the end of a week of challenging yet wonderful experiences, these two boys, with arms comfortably resting on one another, represent a coming together of this small group of kids from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, who finally learned to understand and love one another through their common faith.  The seeds of friendship have been planted that can be further nurtured and developed over time.

If a small group of young boys can forgive one another and find common ground peacefully, then let them be an inspiration to the rest of us …

About the Camp, From Lisette West:

The Chapel has partnered with Pine Cove to host Camp in the City – a week of summer day camp loaded with crazy fun and Christian fellowship. Registration is open to K-5th graders all over Baton Rouge and we make special effort to include students from our Kids Hope USA mentoring program with the Chapel’s school partner, Wildwood Elementary.”

Camp is a time of water games, rock climbing, laser tag, etc. -  led by a counselor staff that is passionate about Jesus. They share Jesus’ love with each camper in these activities and Bible study, club time and more. It is with joy and expectancy that the hope of Jesus is extended to transform lives in the community.”

“Pine Cove exists to be used by God to transform the lives of people for His purposes and His glory.”
— Pine Cove Mission