The word for this week is “Forgiveness”.
Do we really believe what we say we believe?
The gospel community has taken a couple of hits in the last month or so. Two of gospel music’s A-Listers, James Fortune and Israel Houghton, have found themselves in an unfavorable spotlight, amid scandal and controversy. Controversy that has the church and the gospel trolls up in arms. Some feel their respective ministries are blasphemous and not of Jesus Christ. Besides both being national recording artists, Fortune and Houghton have significant ties to the Greater Houston area.
James Fortune is a native of Richmond, Texas, and attended Kempner High School (Fort Bend ISD) before releasing his debut album, “You Survived” in 2004. Fortune has gone on to record six additional albums with the last project entitled, “Live Through It.” Towards the end of 2014, Fortune and his wife, Cheryl, found themselves in a violent dispute and as a result of the altercation, the two-time Grammy nominated gospel artist was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault of a Family Member. It was reported that Fortune struck his wife with a wooden object, kicked her and then threw her against the wall.
Now let’s fast forward to March of 2016, when the case found itself back in court and a plea deal was reached. Fortune was charged with assault of a family member, which is a third degree felony. Fortune’s sentence consists of several days in jail, 5 years probation, community service, completion of a batterer’s intervention program and no contact with his wife or kids.
Malachi 2:16 reads, “For the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I hate divorce and marital separation and him who covers his garment [his wife] with violence. Therefore keep a watch upon your spirit [that it may be controlled by My Spirit], that you deal not treacherously and faithlessly [with your marriage mate].”
There are always two sides to every story, and with the information provided, have you drawn a conclusion? Will you continue to support Fortune’s ministry if he releases a new project next week or next month? What about a year from now? Or have you judged him and decided he isn’t worthy of forgiveness?
It was no secret that international gospel artist, Israel Houghton, was embarking on a new chapter in his life. Earlier this year, Houghton took to his social media (Facebook) page and informed his followers and the world that he and his wife, Melissa, had officially and legally ended their 20-year marriage. Houghton was very transparent. He even shared that his infidelity, which occurred several years earlier, is what ultimately led to their divorce. So why is there controversy surrounding Houghton and his new love interest, “The Real” talk show host, Adrienne Bailon?
Again, the church is in an uproar because Houghton admitted he cheated (he confessed his sin) at some point during his marriage. Israel Houghton has been a worship leader at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church here in Houston for years, but it now appears that because he admitted to cheating, he has been relieved of his position/duties and is currently on “indefinite leave.”
The media has put its spin on this story, by offering up Bailon on a silver platter as the reason for Houghton’s failed marriage. Israel has said his indiscretion happened 5 years ago, and that his introduction to Bailon was only two years ago, while they were working on a project together. However, Lakewood’s position to remove Houghton for infidelity has some questioning the church’s decision. The bible declares, “Judge not [neither pronouncing judgment nor subjecting to censure], and you will not be judged; do not condemn and pronounce guilty; acquit and forgive and release (give up resentment, let it drop), and you will be acquitted and forgiven and released” (Luke 6:37-Amplified Bible).
No one is perfect, and we all have done things that are not pleasing in God’s sight. We all have fallen short. As Christians, many of you go to church and listen attentively to what the pastor has to say. Some of you even take it a step further and read the bible (the bible app counts), which says not to judge others, and instructs us to forgive people of their trespasses. Jesus did it for us…not after the fact, but in advance, and he continues to forgive us on a daily basis. If he can do it, why can’t we?
#whatsthaword #ambershaw #jamesfortune #isrealhoughton #forgiveness #Christians