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By | football, relationships | 9 Comments

Posted by Mike Foster:

Yesterday was a great day for NFL football lovers. Four great teams battled like maniacs to go to the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, both games ended with all the attention being put on 1 players HUGE mistake.

Billy Cundiff from the Baltimore Ravens missed an easy field goal that cost the Ravens the game. Kyle Williams from the 49ers became the goat by fumbling…twice…once in overtime allowing the Giants to win the game.

It’s not fun being Billy or Kyle right now. This one hurts a lot!

Sometimes when you’re the chump their isn’t a lot you can do. Nothing you can change or take back. You’r stuck with…history. And the replays. And the ESPN commentary and trending topic on Twitter. You’re stuck with the fact that millions of people just watched you choke.

These NFL players may not be able to do much but their teammates sure can.

This was demonstrated most clearly by the San Francisco 49ers who came to the strong defense of Kyle Williams.

Tight End Delanie Walker said, “We all lost this game…We play as a team — it’s 45 of us out there. It’s not Kyle’s fault, so don’t go over there and act like it is. Cause it’s not.”

Josh Morgan, another 49ers receiver stood at Williams empty locker and told reporters:

“I’m talking for Kyle,” Morgan said. “You have any questions, ask me. He’s not talking today. I got it.”

They had Kyle’s back. When it was easy to throw the chump to the wolves, their teammates stood their ground in support…and acted like true champions.

And that’s the way grace and second chances are suppose to work.


By | relationships | 9 Comments

By Tindell Baldwin:

I spent years ruining the only relationships that really mattered.  My bad decisions left me in shackles and my family in the dust.  I walked away from them – and God – to live a life of “freedom,” convinced they were the ones holding me back from true happiness.  I had parties when they were out of town, I refused to tell them I loved them, and was too drunk to help when they needed me.  I was 17, and I just wanted to stay out all night and drink.

I put myself first in every decision I made. One Tuesday, when my mom was sick and asked me to pick up my little brother, I got drunk instead and forgot.  So my mom, with her 102 fever and migraine, got out of bed and got him herself.

That was who I was.  That was “freedom.”   And all the while I told myself that they were the problem.

They never gave up though. They never stopped believing that I would come back around. My brother always told me that God was going to use me for great things. My dad took me on dates, even when I was grounded for months on end. My mom would meet me for lunch when I was having bad days.  Out of three brothers and two loving parents, not one of them gave up on me.

God never gave up on me either.  Even as I pushed, he kept showing up in my heart.  And finally, one day at a Passion Conference during my freshman year of college, I stopped pushing.  For the first time in years, my soul felt true freedom.

But it felt incomplete because of the wrongs I’d done. I knew I had some apologies to make, and I didn’t know if my family could find the strength to forgive me. There was so much to forgive.

When Christmas rolled around, I saw clearly, for the first time, what we most often forget about family.  As we shared things we were thankful for, with tears in my eyes, I said, “I’m thankful for our family’s unconditional love.”  My dad stood first and gave me a bear hug as I cried.  He answered, “you were easy to love.”

Looking back, it’s amazing to realize the second chance I’ve been given.  My family lived by the unconditional love that God displays for us,  and even though I didn’t deserve one ounce of their forgiveness, they let it flow freely.   They embraced me as part of the family that I had always tried to run from.  Because of their grace, I was given a second chance at the greatest relationships of my life.


By | identity, relationships | 42 Comments

By Lauren Lankford:

Last night I went to a sex trafficking awareness event.

Black and white photographs – mug shots – of broken, bruised women arrested and brought in for prostitution flashed across the screen, over and over and over. Horrifically broken women. Women who, like horses, have had their spirits broken in order to serve another man’s purpose and desire.

I listened to a 30 second clip of a young woman pleading and sobbing with a judge for mercy in his ruling on her 31 solicitation charges: “This isn’t me. I’m not this woman. I don’t want to be this. I don’t want to do this anymore. This isn’t me. Please, please help me. Please.”

Don’t punish me for what I did, because this isn’t the woman I wanted to be.

But I feel like I have no other option.

I beg of you to be the man who stands in my defense.

Sitting on that cold, wooden bench, watching this girl beg for someone to understand that Prostitute wasn’t her name, I was shocked to find that the ache swelling in my heart was an ache I’d felt before. The same pain I’ve felt many times. An ache I could see written on the faces of every single girl and woman in that room.

Why could every woman identify with the sobbing prostitute in the court room?

I have begged for someone to see me as the woman I want to be; not as the woman I’ve fallen into being.

I have been the woman condemned by the sex I’ve allowed, agreed to, and willingly sought out – but later, desperately cried out for someone, anyone who will understand that this isn’t the woman I want to be. This isn’t me.

But a small part of me feels like I had no other option. It was out of my control. I said yes, but did I really mean it?

Desperately wanting a man to stand in my defense. To fight for me, before he wants sex.

“I used to think prostitutes were the criminals. Not the victims. Everyone has a choice, right? She had the option of not agreeing to sex. But look at these women’s faces. When you judge thousands of domestic violence cases, you learn what victims look like and what they don’t. And every single woman brought in on a solicitation charge looks like a victim. I started studying statistics on women charged with selling their bodies. Every single woman has been the victim of another crime: domestic violence, abuse, incest, molestation, abandonment. But we prosecute them as the criminal.”

So this judge made the decision to start viewing prostitutes not as criminals, but as victims. A second chance.

Sex taken from them. Not given. Even though they said yes. Even though they received something in return.

Every time I had sex I said yes to it. But I have always felt like something was taken from me. Even though every single time I thought I got what I wanted or needed that night.

Do you have a choice? And is that really the question? Is it really the word Yes or No that matters?

Did those women have the choice to say no to giving up their bodies in return for something else they desperately needed to make it through the day?

Do you? Do I? Out of the overflow of the heart, so the mouth speaks.

The ugly truth of prostitution is that those women don’t really have a choice. The majority of them have been trafficked, and if you’re familiar with trafficking, you know that it is kidnapping and slavery in it’s most brutal, gruesome, despicable, evil form.

The ugly truth of prostitution is that those women exchanged sex for what they needed to get through that day alive, according to their past, their perspective, and the men who shaped their lives.

And the ugly truth of my sex life is that in the past, I have given every inch of my body in exchange for what I needed to get through that day alive, according to my past, my perspective, and the men who shaped my life and my culture.

That is why every woman in the room could relate to the desperation, pain, judgement, guilt, brokenness, and plea for mercy expressed by the prostitute.

Because I believe that as a woman who has had sex with men who did not commit their life and love to me, I am as that of a prostitute.

As are you, if you have also slept with a man before he married you.

I am not judging you. I am fighting heart and soul in your defense.

Because I know that you feel like you were the victim of another crime. A father who left. A man who broke your spirit. An emptiness that never ceases. Pain inflicted on you by another. A culture that tells you sex is all you’re worth. Men who have degraded, devalued and destroyed women through pornography. A society that has lied to you about sex since the day you were born. The victim of men who refused to fight in your behalf; men who refused to fight for you. All of you.

Because I know that when you said yes, you thought he would stay. Because I know that when you said yes, you knew he wouldn’t.

Because I know that you were in search of something other than sex, just as I was.

The truth is that when we want sex, we want passionate intimacy. We want a man to want us. We want him to actively, physically demonstrate his intense desire for us – over everything else he could be doing at this very moment.

We want closeness. We want to feel needed, wanted; to feel like we both fully satisfy and are satisfied by another.

I’m not eliminating our desire for physical pleasure, or to put it bluntly, saying that “women just want to be wanted, we don’t care about getting off.”

No. What I’m pointing out is that when we crave sex, we are craving things that can’t be delivered by getting ourselves off. Otherwise we would be forever content with that.

And this is how we identify how powerful sex is.

I am not jaded when it comes to sex. I am not pandering abstinence because traditional Christianity labels all self-indulgence as “sin.”

I want it. I enjoy it. It frustrates me when I cannot have it. But I have learned that “sex will satisfy me” is a lie, and comes at great cost.

Beloved woman, would you still be turned on if the man in your bed said:

“You’re sexy, but I might decide another woman is sexier later.”

“You are beautiful, but not enough to make me yours forever.”

“I love you, but I can’t promise I’ll protect you, in fact – I’ll probably hurt you instead.”

“I love getting you off, but if you get pregnant, I might not be the dad.”

“I love your body, but only because you’re hot. And I’m watching porn when I’m not with you.”

“I want you more than anything, but just tonight. It will be different next week.”

“I came over because you’re easy sex and I don’t have to really love you to get anything.”

“I want your beauty and your warmth and your body, but nothing else.”

Whether or not the man you are sleeping with is saying these things out loud, these statements are being branded into your mind, body & heart every single time you have sex outside of marriage.

Because they are all true, when sex is had without a diamond on your finger. There is no guarantee that a man is staying, that he loves you and is committed to you – and so these statements are inherently true. And there is nothing that the best intentions can do to alter their truth.

Even if you are content with going through with sex, and sacrificing what you know you want or deserve in order for temporary companionship, comfort, “love,” or physical pleasure, you WILL start to believe certain things about yourself, other men, and other women.

You will start to believe that you are no better. That men are no better.

It will alter your view of sex, love, relationships, and men. But most importantly, it will alter your view of yourself.

It will name you Prostitute when your precious, broken heart begs a man to see you as the woman you always wanted to be.

We are a generation of women who have been convinced by the men in our lives that sex is what we have to give in order to attain what we need to get through life.

I crave Something, and men have convinced me that sex will fill it.

Be honest with me. When you tell yourself that you want sex, did you come to this conclusion by yourself? Or is it the product of the men in your life and the culture you live in? I challenge you to sit down and wrestle through this.

Are you the criminal, or are you the victim of a broken world, in dire need of Love in it’s true form?

Women, we have sold ourselves.

And it is breaking us.

The human body is not built to withstand regrettable sex. We are not built to give everything before he has stepped up and committed to give us everything back. This is why you feel like something has been taken, even though you said yes.

Women, you are not built to have sex with a man who has not committed his heart, mind and body to you for the rest of your life.

I beg of you to join me in saying No.

Saying No to the lie that sex alone will satisfy what you crave.

Saying No to men until one of them loves you enough to promise to give, not to take. For the rest of his life.

I beg of you to sit at the foot of Jesus with me as Prostitute. As he gives us new names, and fights in our behalf.


By | identity, inspiration, relationships | 9 Comments

Posted by Brad Mitchell:

I have hurt and disappointed literally thousands of people. I’m not being melodramatic. It’s a sad fact. I have done deep damage to two families–one of them my own. All because of a series of lies and deceptions that I began to accept which led to actions for which I have no one to blame but myself. This in turn led to consequences that continue to cascade long after the repentance and work toward healing.

There are seen and unseen forces which work hard to keep us locked–frozen–in that season of sin by definition. Voices which pummel our minds with “You are a ___________!” “You can’t be trusted because you _____________.” “God can never really bless you and use you because you ____________.”

I know. I still hear those voices accusing…attacking…relentless.

Early in my journey when the pain and exposure was raw and gaping, a leader put some salve on my soul by reminding me that many of those whom God used were people who had a fallen or broken past. People who had been given a second chance.

So I’ve been thinking about the people God has used throughout the pages of the Bible–people who made incredible impact for God. Abraham. Moses. Rahab. David. Jonah. Peter. Maybe you can add to the list. After each of their names could have come an adjective by which they would be forever identified: liar, murderer, prostitute, adulterer/murderer/faithless, coward, denier, abandoner. Sadly, several of those apply to my past as well.

While there are consequences and discipline that are attendant to those choices, the challenge is to not let those past actions define our present and future destiny. To do so is to deny–again–our relationship with Jesus. Because he doesn’t accuse. He doesn’t despise. Instead he takes the humble, the repentant, the broken–and he restores and redefines us.

So when I hear those voices accusing and attacking–I have to make a conscious choice to reject those lies. They are not who God says I am. They are not who God says you are.

Jesus redefines.

Here is who you are: you are redeemed, set free, washed clean, and given a new identity in Jesus. God sees you, loves you, and restores you. Your past does not define your present or your future.

Remember Abraham–the man of faith; Moses–the most humble man who ever lived; Rahab–the woman of faith and heroine; David–a man after God’s own heart; Jonah–used by God to save a wicked city; Peter–restored to spiritual authority and a leader in the early church.

Our future will be written on the pages of our lives as people who are afresh with a love for Jesus and our commitment to serve Him alone. I say “our” because I, too, am one who is healing, growing and learning about the new future as a person receiving the second chance.  Our future is bright, good, blessed…and redefined…because of grace.



By | Application, Blog, giving grace, identity, inspiration, relationships | 16 Comments

Posted by Karen Hammons:

“I was looking down at the cold, white tile floor with a stomach in knots, tears trying not to boil over, a 6 year old hanging out with a cop, and a 4 year old holding my hand while being told what my future was going to look like. The label made me want to puke. And the thought of it turned my knees to Jello.

Wife of an accused sex offender.

The detective is giving me the facts and trying to make me think she cares. But I know she doesn’t. I’m just another case number. A person who she could possibly use to bring another man down. My job. Dang it. I just got new business cards that will have to be trashed since I’m pretty sure I will now lose my job at the church this all went down in. And our family and friends. Ugh. I have the “pleasure” of rehashing the story 50 times over with them, when all I want to do is tell the story once and hide. I feel so alone.”

Those were my initial reactions and thoughts as I stood in that sterile police station on a Friday night in October 2008. That night I was adamant my marriage was over. But for some strange reason, 72 hours later I wasn’t so sure about that. God in a huge outpouring of grace and mercy, revealed to me how this man was deeply broken – just like me . And the recent chain of events were symptoms from deep hurts that were never healed.

How could I stay angry with Danny? How could I not forgive? God gave me second chances all the time. Why shouldn’t I give Danny a second chance?

Who in the world was I to judge who could and couldn’t have a second chance?!

With that understanding, I decided to forgive him and move forward into the unknown. It felt like I was jumping off the highest cliff into a dark, bottomless ocean. But Jesus. The secret sauce that helped me make that jump and forgive Danny. I can’t explain it any other way. Jesus did a work in my heart and mind, enabling me to give complete forgiveness when the world was shouting crucify. God giving me the ability to forgive Danny so quickly was a tangible gift from God saying, “You’re gonna make it, girl. Watch this.”

I came to the realization that God had set this up for a purpose. And instead of fighting it, I decided to surrender to whatever fires He wanted me and my marriage to walk through. Some people were fantastic. Others were not. And I struggled with those “others”. It took almost a year and half for me to dispense complete grace and forgiveness to all involved. I had placed most of those people on a pedestal and God allowed the pedestals to fall. He desired for my faith, my hope, my second chance, my everything to be rooted in Him and not in people. That was more important to God than maintaining my temporary comfort level. Even when I didn’t receive grace from others, I decided it was time for me to give it.

Our ability to offer grace and forgiveness cannot be dependent on if we receive it first or not. We just have to give it. And while it can be hard and uncomfortable, God gives us what we need to help us dispense complete grace and forgiveness when we feel like doing anything else but that.

Who is that person you need to unleash complete grace and forgiveness on?

Who do you need to take off of a pedestal?

What was a tangible gift of grace that God gave you during a hard journey?

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