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When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “what if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph saying, “your father left these instructions before he died: ‘this is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves, they said.” But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:15-21 (NIV)

Too often believers live defeated lives shackled by the events of their past. Guilt, shame and denial are all tricks of the enemy that stifle spiritual growth and effectiveness in the kingdom of God. Unresolved issues that are associated with our past are nothing more than hindrances. Failing to understand that the enemy’s presence in our lives is a sign of spiritual warfare, all too often we find ourselves in bondage, simply because we have not proclaimed our own emancipation.

Yes, we are guilty of the offenses that we committed against our fellow man and our most benevolent God. But, because we have served time in the enemy’s camp, not only have we enlisted our bodies, we have also surrendered our minds. So we forget about God’s amazing grace and remain handcuffed to actions for which we have long been forgiven. Our lack of faith prevents us from proclaiming our own emancipation.

We have faced our victims, fallen on our knees and confessed our sins, and seemingly moved on with our lives, but truthfully, we have merely gone through the motions. For if we truly come with a contrite heart, asking forgiveness of one with a similar spirit, we would experience the lessening of the weight of the chains that once had us bound. But when the offender mimics sincerity in his confession and harbors mistrust for the offended, our emancipation cannot be proclaimed.

We masquerade what appears to be liberty, failing to realize the therapeutic value of confession. How tragic that we do not understand the true meaning of forgiveness–“to send something away”–so we hold onto the spirit of the thing from which we have been released. But praise be to God, the Liberator, who resides in his servant that withholds judgment. The servant who recognizes that the Alpha and the Omega is the sole possessor of the authority to forgive and because He is sovereign, no act of congress is necessary.

Be loosed for He is the proclaimer of emancipation!

 Prayer:  Lord, help us to understand that relational forgiveness is our way of giving to another the very best opportunity to repent, so that the negative consequences can be changed and loving relationships established. Then help us to bless you for your divine forgiveness which absolves us from the penalty of sin, because Jesus Christ has already suffered and paid the price in full—debt cancelled and emancipation proclaimed! Amen.

Minister Ardenia M. Holland

Infinite Grace Fellowship

Baltimore, MD

2014 Lenten Devotional

You can request our Lenten devotional to be sent to you daily. Email to info@infinitegracefellowship.org

“An 11-Step Religious Guide To Sabotaging Your Life:
By Jim Palmer

http://jimpalmerblog.com/

1. Begin with the premise that there is something hopelessly and incurably wrong with you.
2. Believe that your humanity is an affront to God, and an obstacle to overcome and an evil to repress or eradicate.
3. Pin your hopes on the afterlife, and don’t get  too attached to the here life.
4. Mistrust what you most deeply think and feel.
5. Give others the power and authority to determine what your beliefs, values, opinions, goals, desires and views are.
6. Fear, reject, condemn and close yourself off from anything that doesn’t fit with what you got in #5.
7. Focus on behavior modification, checklists, do’s and don’ts, appearances, obedience, and keeping the rules when it comes to living your life.
8. Make everything black and white.
9. Make sure everything and everyone in life is assigned a label or put into a box.
10. Label science and psychology as “secular,” “carnal,” or “worldly,” and stay away from it.
11. Consider talk of love, unity, harmony, peace, beauty and oneness as foolish or dangerous.”

– Jim Palmer

There are many struggling churches in mainline denominations that aspire to Make disciples for Christ, Serve the Community and Impact the World. Often they struggle with limited finances, limited energy and few people. Efforts to reach more people and share the life changing message of Jesus Christ seem futile and the few ideas that do work seem to never provide the traction necessary to change the direction of the congregations decline.    I believe that there is something to learn from relevant success stories of congregations that have already gone through the process of revitalizing and restoring their mission. The role of the transformative, revitalizing pastor is to help the congregation discover the best practices to achieving the long term mission and vision. . As a pastoral and leadership coach here are some suggestions to accelerate the learning curve:

  1. Find multiple examples of congregations with similar demographics and a similar ministry context that have coped with equivalent challenges successfully. Learn from their mistakes, experiences and successes
  2. Find congregations that model excellence in the ministry areas that you desire to grow in even if the resources are outside of your denomination in a congregation that has no ministry context similarities.  Learn what the best practices are and let them become the standards that your strive for as you revision the ministry.
  3. Develop a step by step logic model of the reasons for the best practices and the success of the turnaround churches. Look for features that they share in common.
  4. Present these shared “success factors” as precepts, guidelines, and principles that can be implemented by all those who wish to achieve similar levels of success.
  5. Document your journey by video, journaling, pictures and recordings.
  6. Celebrate mini successes along the journey and review the ultimate goal and objectives often

For immediate release August 14, 2013

Media contact: Donna Dodson  (410) 945-8397
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FORMAN JOINS INFINITE GRACE FELLOWSHIP LEADERSHIP TEAM

Dr.  Scheherazade W. Forman has joined the leadership team of Infinite Grace Fellowship of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Dr. Scheherazade W. Forman will begin her ministry with Infinite Grace on July 1. The church is located at 5130 Greenwich in Baltimore, on the city’s historic “40 West” corridor.

Dr. Forman, a native of Newark, NJ, was formerly co-pastor of Grace Renewed Community Church, in Baltimore, where the mission was to restore men to their families and unite the family around Christ.

During her time in ministry, Scheherazade has served in the children and youth ministries, music ministry, women’s ministry, marriage ministry and pastoral counseling.

“In 1 Peter 5:10 God promises He will strengthen and settle us. God has given me a passion for the family. My devotion to God and commitment to relationships drives me to foster restoration of families.”

Forman is married to Rev. Anthony L. Forman and they have seven children and six grandchildren. Her educational background includes a bachelor and master degree from the University of Maryland, University College and a doctorate from Morgan State University with training at the International Harvest Bible Training Center.

The Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church is comprised of 694 congregations with nearly 200,000 members. It is the home of Methodism in America, with the founding of the denomination at Lovely Lane Chapel in 1784.

 

For immediate release July 6, 2013

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CHRIS DEMBECK APPOINTED AS NEW CAMPUS PASTOR AT WEST BALTIMORE UMC/INFINITE GRACE PARISH

Mr. Christopher Dembeck. has been appointed as a campus pastor for the West Baltimore United Methodist Church and Infinite Grace United Methodist Church by resident Bishop Marcus Matthews of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Christopher Dembeck began his duties at West Baltimore July 1. The church is located at 5130 Greenwich in Baltimore, on the city’s historic “40 West” corridor.

Mr. Dembeck, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, was formerly a technical recruiter for various technical and non-technical growing companies within the Baltimore Washington Corridor and assisted them in finding and hiring top IT talent in the region.

Chris has been attending and volunteering at Catonsville United Methodist Church for several years in different roles including: High School Sunday School teacher, Stephen Minister, and Contemporary Worship leader.  Just this year Chris has been confirmed as a Certified Candidate for Ordained Ministry by the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Chris is married to Laura Dembeck, and they have one daughter, Ava and one son, Samuel.  Chris earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a Marketing concentration from Towson University.  He will be starting Seminary full-time in the Fall at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C.

The Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church is comprised of 694 congregations with nearly 200,000 members. It is the home of Methodism in America, with the founding of the denomination at Lovely Lane Chapel in 1784.

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