All posts tagged: Forgiveness

Forgiving others is like an onion with many layers. Credit: Marco Verch/Wikipedial

Abortion survivor tells her story of forgiving her mother, father and even her grandmother

On August 24, 1977, Melissa Ohden’s mother, 19, went to Saint Luke’s hospital in Sioux City, Iowa for the first step in her saline abortion that takes five days to complete. She was eight months pregnant and on August 29, 1977 she delivered her child. Her mother, who worked as an educational nurse at the hospital and was in the room as the abortion took place, had coerced her daughter into having the abortion. But unknown to her mother, Melissa was born alive and the staff left her to die in a pile of medical waste. But a while later when another nurse entered the room she heard a faint whimpering and rustling and discovered Melissa still alive. The nurse rushed Melissa to emergency and after a three-month stint in the hospital she was adopted by a Catholic family, Ron and Linda Ohden, who lived in Sioux Falls. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Melissa, 40, shared her incredible story of forgiveness as she spent 17 years trying to track down her parents. Initially …

Credit: Lucy Lang/Flickr/Creative Commons

Neither do I condemn you

In an article for Foxnews, Angel Hatfield shared a powerful story on forgiveness. Hatfield, who serves as executive producer for a movie “Because of Gracia” grew up in a Christian home. In fact, her father pastored a church. As she left her teen years, Hatfield became rebellious: “I skated in sin believing the big lie that there was more pleasure to be found in this world than in God.” Hatfield became pregnant and after hiding her pregnancy for five months, she finally decided to come clean with her father on what had happened. She was expecting her father to react and judge her for what she had done. Instead, he hung his head and when he finally spoke, her dad expressed his disappointment for what had happened but then he added: “And you have made poor choices which now have consequences. It won’t be easy — and there will be struggles and a hard path ahead of you. But I love you — and now I figure I have been given more to love.” Then …

Credit: Johndan Johnson-Eliola/Flickrt/Creative Commons

The river of life

I remember five years ago, when I deliberately chose once and for all to forgive those who had wounded me over the years. It involved people I regularly interacted with at church and work. In my mind’s eye, I dumped it all on a garbage heap and burned it. When I looked back there was nothing left but smoke. Every time, I was reminded of the incident and was tempted to look back, I only saw blackened earth. There was nothing left to remember or react to. On my journey to wholeness over the past few years, I have learned that offense throws me completely off course and away from the purpose and plans God has for my life. Unforgiveness, and its children anger and resentment, created a current in my life that pulled me backwards and worked against the moving of the Holy Spirit. It was an extra weight in my boat as I navigated up the river of life.  I was not gaining ground spiritually and my boat was sinking. Unforgiveness attracted the …

Credit: Ruby Babson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Forgive for your heart’s sake

When Jesus spoke on forgiveness He was very clear on one thing: if we don’t forgive those who offend us, God would not forgive us. 14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15 NASV) I sometimes wonder if we struggle to forgive ourselves for things that we have done in the past, that it is a sign of spiritual blockages caused by our unwillingness to forgive. These blockages hinder us from fully experiencing God’s forgiveness. But an article on John Hopkins Medicine, Forgiveness: Your Health depends on It, provides one more reason to forgive. We need to do it for the sake of our physical health. Like many of God’s commandments, such as circumcision that improves a man’s health, the need to forgive is another section in God’s user’s manual on proper operation of the human body. According to the John Hopkins’ article, studies show that people who hold grudges and …

Anger, bitterness and unforgiveness are linked

Now in their 80s and 90s, many survivors of the Nazi Holocaust were upset when a photo of Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, 81, surfaced earlier this year. It was a photo of Eva embracing Oskar Groening, 94, in a German courtroom in the city of Lunenburg. Groening had been a SS sergeant and chief accountant at Auschwitz concentration camp, the same camp the Nazis sent Eva and her Hungarian Jewish family to die. The courts found Groening guilty and complicit in the slaughter of 300,000 Jews in the Auschwitz gas chambers. Eva and her identical twin sister Miriam were ten when their family arrived at the concentration camp. As the cattle cars emptied, Eva recalls the Nazis scouring the hundred of Jews standing on the train platform. The guards were looking for identical twins. When a guard saw Eva and Miriam, he yanked them out of their mothers arms and took them away. They were of keen interest to Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi surgeon at the camp who used Jews for his brutal experiments. He …

A wintry day in Sheffield, England. Credit: Wojtek Gurak/Flickr/Creative Commons

Forgiving a Christmas Eve murder

It was December 24, 2012, and organist Alan Greaves, 68, was walking to Christmas Eve midnight mass at St. Saviour’s Anglican church in Sheffield, England where he was scheduled to play. On his 10-minute journey, he ran in to two men — Jonathan Bowling, 22, and Ashley Foster, 22.  Both had left a Christmas gathering earlier that evening in a foul mood. According to court records, the two men were looking for trouble and saw Greaves as easy pickings. They attacked Greaves with a pick ax handle and hammer and he would later die in hospital from his injuries. But in a powerful testimony, Alan’s wife Maureen Greaves, 63, shared in an interview with the English newspaper, The Guardian, of her journey to forgiving the two men who murdered her husband in the unprovoked attack. Maureen, 63, currently serves as a lay minister with the Anglican church working with a group called the Church Army. Married for forty years, she and her husband have four children, two sons and two daughters. She recounted the night …

Independence day celebrations at the National Mall in Washington, DC Credit: Mark Andre/Flickr/Creative Commons

Did this Prophetic act in Washington, DC break a curse over the US?

According to an article on Charisma News, some are calling an event that took place on October 21, 2016 a prophetic act that could profoundly impact America. On that day, 1000 Native Americans representing Indian tribes across both the US and Canada gathered in Washington DC to forgive the early Americans who broke treaties they made with Indian tribes decades ago. At the event called the National Day of Prayer for First Nations held at the Washington Mall, representatives of America’s tribal groups spoke declarations forgiving America. Speaking on behalf of the (Euchee) Yuchi tribe, Negiel Bigpond stated he was forgiving “the US, whether it asked for it or not.” Bigpond who organized the prayer event is a fourth generation pastor and serves as a tribal chief. He along with other native leaders and intercessors spoke a number of declarations that are posted at the All Tribes DC website. This included: “We repent of every curse spoken over America by our ancestors and we release the power of forgiveness to bring healing and the peace …

The trap of offense

“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Michael Hyatt from ‘Why leaders can’t afford to be offended’’ The other day I did it again and took offense at a comment on Facebook. I chose to make it personal and kept going over it in my mind until my emotions got the better of me. I quickly typed in a comment to straighten that person out. Thankfully, before I hit the send button, I called my husband and shared my offense with him. He calmly advised me to let it go because it would not accomplish any great purpose and probably create more misunderstanding. Not what I wanted to hear! But, I did take his advice because I knew it was wisdom even though I was itching to press the send button. After calming down, I decided I really wanted to get on top of my emotional response to the offense. I was reminded of this verse in the Bible; “It is necessary that temptation come, but woe …

Forgiving our parents and forefathers is a necessary step to breaking Generational curses. Photo: Mae Wells/Flickr/Creative Commons

Generational Curses: Part 6 — the one condition, forgiving our parents

In Exodus 20:4-5, the Bible says the iniquity of the parents would be passed on to their children for up to four generations. In the previous posts, we talked about how Jesus’ death on the cross broke this curse Galatians 3: 9-13. But having the curse broken does not guarantee it’s broken. Similarly, just because Jesus died for our sins, does not mean every one is saved and just because by His stripes we are healed, does not mean everyone is automatically healed. We have to contend and believe for salvation and healing and similarly must do the same to break Generational Curses. Though Jesus broke the curse, there is one condition attached for it to happen — forgiveness. In Leviticus 26, God lays out the blessings and punishment that He would place on Israel if they chose to live unrighteously. Initially God would judge them with blight, pestilence and disease hoping this would turn the nation from its iniquity. However, if Israel failed to respond, they would face the ultimate punishment — removal from …

Jameel McGee with the former "dirty cop" Andrew Collins

Former ‘dirty’ cop and the innocent man he framed now preaching redemption and forgiveness

In 2005, Jameel McGee, 35, was arrested and charged with dealing crack cocaine and eventually served four years for the offense. The only problem was McGee who lives in Benton Harbor, Michigan, did not have any drugs on him, but the arresting officer Andrews Collins, 33, falsified the police report accusing McGee. Collins knew the drugs belonged to another person in the car that McGee had been riding in. But no one else knew and the courts sentenced McGee to ten years in prison for a trafficking crime he didn’t commit. Though McGee’s insistence he was innocent is a common enough claim for those arrested for drugs, in this case he was eventually proven right. In an AP story, Collins admitted he was a dirty cop. It began when he worked narcotics with the police department. It started small but escalated to the point he was stealing drugs and even money and planting drugs on people and falsifying reports to get a quick arrest. Meanwhile as he sat in prison, God began working on McGee …

God want to heal our brokeness. Photo: Howard Hall/Flickr/Creative Commons

Circle of Love

It had been a year since I lost my son to suicide and I was invited to join a new women’s group at church. I wanted to stay home and not risk baring my heart to anyone. God knew I needed this group of women and gently pushed me out the door of my comfort zone. To be honest, I was angry with my son for choosing to leave us the way he did. I am a resilient person and found myself able to move forward in my life despite our loss.  My resiliency, though, left me unable to express myself and release my grief. There were five women in this group and each of us had our own pain and grief to deal with. Some of us were angry with God for the circumstances we were facing.  Others, like myself, were angry at our loved one for the choice they had made. We were all here to release the pain and guilt of poor choices made and we began to realize that we needed …

Photo: Justin K./Flickr/Creative Commons

It doesn’t have to be a life sentence

I lost my eldest son Graham in 2004 to suicide. Six years later my grief took me to a five-day seminar to help deal with the emotional upheaval in my life due to his death. I had filled out their forms, answered questions, shared my story and the reasons why I wanted to attend the seminar. On the first day, we all received a name tag. One facilitator came up to me and gave me mine. I glanced at it as I took it from her hand. The words “life sentence” we’re neatly printed on it.  It caught me completely off guard.  It took a few days into the seminar to face the cold hard facts. As  judge, juror and prosecutor, I had sentenced myself to a life-time of guilt and shame  for the death of my son. Death from suicide carries a stigma with it and the grieving is more complex. I could not understand why my son took this drastic measure. He willingly left us. I did something wrong. My husband and I …

Dealing with the pain of grief.

How grief tilted my world

My first-born son, Graham, died on January 15, 2004. He was 18 years old.  He took his own life while stranded on a country road in his own vehicle. My world took a serious tilt. My perspective on life shifted to the dark side. Everything and everyone changed as I viewed them through the eyes of grief. I didn’t know what to do with the people who surrounded me and engaged in life with me. I was terrified to talk about the loss of my son. Not feeling free to share feelings and thoughts hindered my grieving process.  I read the Bible and books on grief and suicide hoping this would help me deal with people’s questions and comments. Nothing could prepare me though. I had to face it alone and walk through the unknown waters of grief and let the waves splash over me. People meant well and out of the uncertainty of what to say their comments sometimes came across the wrong way — like my son’s suicide was probably for the best …

Photo Garret Lesage/Flckr Creative Commons

A woman’s perspective: Can forgiving others make you feel lighter and jump higher?

I read an article recently referring to a study reported in Social Psychology and Personality Science that determined the act of forgiving makes us lighter both emotionally and physically? The study involved two groups. One group was to remember a time they forgave someone and the second group was asked to remember a time they couldn’t forgive. Through their mind’s eye, the group that was able to forgive perceived the slope of a nearby hill to be less steep than the second group that was unable to forgive. The researchers said it was the equivalent of a person with a heavy backpack finding it more difficult to climb a hill than a person without. Ryan Fehr, assistant professor of management at the University of Washington, also measured the vertical jumps of each participant in the study. He found that the group who forgave, on average, jumped higher than those who were unable to forgive. Fehr concluded that the act of forgiveness unburdened one’s mind and brought a lightness to their physical being and did in …

Are you a victim of your circumstances or your thinking? Photo Great Beyond/Flickr

Are you a victim of a victim mentality?

A few years ago at a seminar for emotional healing, a group of us were in the hallway waiting for the next session to start. We were all proud that we had survived our traumatic experiences over the years. We walked into the session unprepared for what was next. As the speaker explained the new principle we were learning, we looked at one another. Why should we be surprised that each one of us had operated in survivor mode and were manifesting the symptoms of a “victim mentality?” I was filtering my experiences through a ‘victim mentality’ mindset that created a distorted view of life. A person with such a mentality, expects bad things will happen. They consider themselves a perpetual victim. Because of this perspective, they twist the most innocent things as a personal attack on them. Even the good things are bent out of shape. My perception of life being hard was reinforced daily because of this mindset. Endurance and perseverance were key to weathering the storms of life that never seemed to …

It is time to cancel the debt. Photo: Taxrebate.org.uk

How offenses become a debtors’ prison

In Mathew 6, Jesus makes an odd connection. In verse 12 — towards the end of His teaching on prayer — Jesus says “And forgive us our debt, as we also forgive our debtors”. Then two verses later (v 14), the Lord elaborates: “For if you forgive others their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” So what is the odd connection? Well in these two verses Jesus linked the concept of “debt” with “transgression or offense.” How could these two be the same? There are many offenses that have no connection to finances. It could be something someone said, rejection or abuse. In fact most offenses are not related to money. So why did Jesus use the word “debt” to describe “offense?” The reason is simple — there are many similarities between debt and offense. Offenses create a sense of indebtedness! Though an offense does not involve money, it creates a debt in your heart. You were dealt with unfairly or unreasonably. You were mistreated or rejected. When we are offended, we feel someone …

(Left) Metal with Bible page fused on it: Photo Jin Lee National September 11 Memorial Museum (Right) Twin Towers in flames Flickr/Michael Foran

Powerful words of forgiveness from a Red Letter edition of the Bible

Anger is such a powerful emotion. But nothing drives this emotion more than paying someone back for a wrong they committed against you. Though most of us never act out on this, how many have thought and even plotted revenge in our minds? Or am I the only person who has ever done this? There was a powerful story that came out of 9-11 when New York’s Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001. Six months later, as people were cleaning up the mess, a fireman found a piece of metal with paper fused to it. I have no idea how this can happen without burning the paper but there it was paper melted to metal. Not just any paper, it was a page from the Bible and not just any Bible, it was a King James red-letter edition with Jesus’ words are all in red — for emphasis. It was not just any page, but a page from Jesus’ sermon on the mount found in the Gospel of Matthew and front and center …

The gunman returned wallet and phone after Shaquille Hairston started praying

[by Dean Smith] Shaquille Hairston, 21, works the late shift at a hotel in Euclid, Ohio. On June 3, he caught the bus home late that night, as he usually did. When Hairston got off at a stop near his home, a man who was also on the bus slipped off as well. After the bus departed, the man approached Shaquille on the dark, deserted street, pulled out a gun and demanded money. In an interview with Cleveland’s Fox News, Shaquille said when he told the man he didn’t have any cash, the robber hit him on the head with his gun.

Can we change the past through God?

[by Dean Smith] I won’t pretend to understand anything these guys are talking about, but I am always fascinated when scientists talk of Quantum mechanics. In a recent study, a scientist has suggested that contrary to our personal experience time runs both forward and backwards. Our experience with time is that it goes from the past to present to future and only the past and present can affect the future. However, professor Kater Murch from Washington University has been looking at quantum mechanics and discovered that time in the quantum world seems to run both ways. And by doing so, the future has the ability to change the past. As odd as this sounds, I sometimes wonder if these strange theories may help us understand some puzzling statements made by Jesus in the Gospels. But before we get to those verses, let me explain a bit more about Murch’s theory.

A woman’s perspective: Where is the balance?

[by Barb Smith] For the past two years, I have been  on a journey seeking answers for my damaged emotions which, I believe, also affected my physical well-being. I realize now, my greatest struggles have come from my fear of rejection stemming from insecurities about myself, my appearance and my relationships. I couldn’t say “no” to anything or anyone because I was trying to please people. I spiritualized my actions thinking I was denying myself and making sacrifices. It felt biblical.

Did God answer Angelina Jolie’s prayer?

[by Dean Smith] An interesting thing happened on the set of the movie “Unbroken” being filmed in New South Wales, Australia. It is a film on the life of Louis Zamperini, a born-again Christian, who died this past July at the age of 92. At a news conference in New York City last week, Cynthia Garris — the daughter of Louis Zamperini — said in the middle of filming actress/director Angelina Jolie dropped to her knees in front of the crew and prayed. On one of the last days of filming, the crew needed clear skies to complete the final shot. It had rained the whole day.

The blank column

[by Earl Blacklock] Tex Wilson was a newspaper editor in the U.S. midwest, 40 years in the business. At 65, he purchased a local newspaper as his retirement project. He was editor, photographer, and reporter together. Whether there was celebration or sorrow in the town, Tex was there to record the event. Over the years, the community learned to appreciate Tex and his newspaper. There was one thing, though, that gave them pause. On occasion, the paper would be printed with a column or two totally blank. It seemed at first an oversight, like someone forgot to lay the page out properly. But it happened often enough that speculation as to its meaning began.

Is forgetting tied to forgiveness? A study suggests it is.

I remember years ago getting flashbacks. I would be doing a particular activity when suddenly an incident that had happened decades earlier would replay in my mind. I had three incidents in particular that seemed to plague me. I finally asked the Holy Spirit why I had these memories. There were thousands of things that happened to me growing up that I couldn’t remember even if someone paid me money, yet there were three I couldn’t forget.

Doctors diagnose a broken heart

Researchers at John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland came up with a phrase  “broken heart syndrome” to describe a peculiar type of patient. They developed the phrase as a result of their diagnosis of 20 people (18 were women) who had come to the hospital complaining of a heart attack. In each case, the person displayed classic heart attack symptoms such as shortness of breath, pains in the chest, accumulation of lung fluid and a noticeable reduction in the heart’s ability to pump blood. 

Repelling Satan’s mind games!

Have you ever felt your mind was under attack? Have you felt flooded with condemning thoughts or memories of past failure? The Apostle Paul provides insight into a possible source of these thoughts:  “But for one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Cor 2:10, 11 NASV) In this passage, Paul was referring to an incident he addressed in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 5:1-13). It involved a man living with his father’s wife — probably his step mother. 

Brain scans shows forgiving others helps restore good mental health

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Mathew 6:12 NASV) Forgiving was a key tenet of Jesus’ teaching. For years, people treated it as purely a religious exercise, but now therapists and psychologists are understanding its importance and have embraced forgiveness as a vital counseling tool. This led researchers in England to take a closer look at forgiveness from a scientific perspective. They found evidence forgiving others may be a key to restoring good mental health. 

Forgiveness is not a contradiction

In many ways, the Bible seems like a book of opposites. In the Old Testament law it was an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But in the New Testament, Jesus said we must forgive those who do you wrong. These two views are so extreme, they seem almost irreconciable. Yet the sad story of the senseless murder of Brian Muha best explains this paradox. Brian was attending school at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, where he planned to become a doctor. He had returned home to briefly to visit Rachel, his mother, and was heading back for summer classes. 

Forgiving the Nazi SS

Corrie Ten Boom died April 15, 1983 on the same day she was born 91 years earlier. According to Jewish tradition, a person is considered especially blessed by God when this event occurs. Certainly the nation of Israel considered Corrie blessed when in 1967, it named her “Righteous among the nations” — a special award handed out to individuals who helped Jews escape the holocaust in World War II. Corrie was a Christian and during the war she and her family — who lived in Holland — were involved with the Dutch Resistance fighting the Nazis on their soil. The Ten Boom’s primary activity during those dark years was providing a “hiding place” for Jews trying to escape