Thursday, March 20, 2014

Even The Phelps need God's Love & Grace

Fred Phelps, the patriarch of Westboro Baptist Church and the God Hates_______ crew has passed away.  Phelps and his clan spread hate all across our country.  I admit they made me mad. That was until I actually met his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper in 2006.  I had an opportunity to interview her on YouTube and the video went viral.  You can watch it here.

After meeting Shirley, I wasn't angry anymore, I was sad.  I was sad that she had been brought up in such a hate filled family.  I was sad that her son was sitting next to her while she spouted her hate in my microphone.  I wonder if Shirley or Fred have ever felt "GRACE?"

I don't condone or give any excuse for the horrible protests that the Westboro clan has participated in over the years.  There is no telling how much hate they have displayed.  I can't imagine how much hurt they heaped on families who are grieving the death of a loved one.

But no matter how bad they have acted, even the Westboro folks are in need of God's love and Grace! I'm sure there will be lots of people "Protesting" Fred Phelps funeral.  I think that is a shame.  I wish I could be there and have a love fest for the Phelps family.  I wonder what kind of impact it would have if people actually held up "God is Love" or "God loves The Phelps" or "God Loves Westboro?" I'm sure there will be people who disagree with me but I think Jesus would have displayed love towards them.  He would have asked them to turn from their sins but He would have loved them.  I think we should too.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What Bible are they reading from?

I read a story about how the Rock Band Switchfoot was protested by a "Christian Church." Read it here. Now to be fair, I love Switchfoot.  Also, they have never claimed to be a "Christian" band.  They are a band who happens to have Christians in the band.  Their music is obviously influenced by their faith.

When you watch the video by the church it is obvious that they didn't come in love but came for a fight.  Jon Foreman the lead singer of Switchfoot (and devout Christian) went out to talk with the church in love.  It appears he had a case of bottled water that he brought for them too.  Foreman even thanked them for what they were doing.  The church just wanted to argue and condemn Switchfoot and anyone who listens to them.  Later in the concert, Foreman encourages people to treat the church group with love. Wow, what a concept?

Years ago I had the opportunity to interview Shirley Phelps-Roper of Westboro Baptist Church (or God Hates Fags).  John Stickley and I went there with the goal of trying to understand them.  You can watch the interview here.  I was amazed at how unloving Phelps and all of the protesters were.

When I look at I Corinthians 13:13 Paul says, "And now these three things remain: faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love"(NIV)  I wonder what Bible some people are reading from?  What good does shouting insults and displaying love do?  Jesus even said that God Loved The World!  When he confronted sins of those who needed it he expressed love for them.  If it is good enough for Jesus and Paul, it ought to be good enough for us.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The most dangerous people

"For me to live is Christ & to die is gain"
Philippians 1:21
Have you ever met the eternal optimist who never lets anything get to them. They don't just look at the glass half full- they look at an empty glass like it is over flowing. No matter what anyone does to them they look at the good in everything.

Our pastor is preaching a series on Philippians & it is my favorite book in the Bible. I love how no matter what happened to Paul he was always rejoicing. His joy wasn't based on his circumstances but on his relationship with Jesus. Next to Jesus Paul suffered more than anyone in the New Testament. He was ship wrecked, beaten, left for dead & inprisoned multiple times. But Paul found reasons to rejoice even in these horrible times.

Paul reminds me of the professional wrestler who is being beaten to a pulp but just when you think he is out he finds new strength & wins the match. People who live wreckless Christian lives are dangerous! No matter what you do to them they win. Paul said if he dies he wins cause he gets to go to heaven & see Jesus. But if he stays he wins cause he gets to preach Jesus! No matter what happens he wins! That is the most dangerous person in the world!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Debt Free living

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8 NASB)
With so much turmoil on the earth, world leaders try every diplomatic way to achieve peace. Nations have summits, visit each other's countries and write treaties. We can't even get along in our own nation, so how do we think we will achieve world peace? National peace? Most people don't even have peace at home. How do we achieve peace?

Have you ever owed anything? Of course that is a dumb question cause we live in a country that is in debt over our heads.  We try to live debt free financially & that prevents us from going places we'd like to go. But we don't feel the financial burdens of having to pay off those debts either. Unfortunately medical bills arise and cause stress, so I do understand debt.  I believe the worst debts I encounter in my care sessions are relationship debts. I've met financially broke people who had joy overflowing because their relationships were solid. They had few regrets. But when I encounter a person who has relationship debts, they struggle to make it through each day. Everyone needs to be loved. Everyone!

As I was studying my Bible I came upon the verse above. I'm sure I've read it 100's of times but today it hit me like a ton of bricks. God doesn't want us to owe anything to anyone but to love them. If you think about it, if we truly loved the way Jesus taught us to we wouldn't have the turmoil we have in our homes. We wouldn't have wars & crime. I realize that we live in a sinful world, but what would happen if just a few believers in Jesus truly loved unconditionally? What would happen if American churches loved and owed nothing to anyone but love? What if followers of Jesus became known for love instead of what we are against?

Maybe the law would actually be fulfilled.....