RSS

Category Archives: identity

“Yuck”

A few weeks ago I was walking into a Family Dollar Store (yes I go in there once in a blue moon) and I walked past a young lady who was talking on her cell phone. She was a couple inches taller than I and had long braids that went down to her hips. I didn’t get a close look at her but thought nothing of it. As I walked through the store, it appeared as though she was following me. When I stopped to look at something, she walked past me while still engaged in a phone conversation. That was when I got a closer look at her and realized that she was in fact a he

My immediate thought was “yuck,” and I even said it under my breath… I saw him again and noticed that he wasn’t cross-dressed per se, he was just extremely effeminate. Well as soon as I began to walk down the aisle, Holy Spirit instantly convicted me… Yuck? To a person and soul that Jesus Christ died for? To a person who is obviously very broken and whose sin just happens to be more visible? Yuck to someone for whom God has a plan for his life and someone who God loves just as much as me. I judged this young man without even knowing his story, his deepest hurts, his darkest secrets, his inner being that has obviously been severely wounded…

if-you-dont-know-me-dont-judge-me-1

Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (NKJV)

I’ve always considered myself to be very compassionate towards others. I believe that a good part of my calling in this life is towards social justice. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love kids and that I hate seeing injustice. Something gets under my skin when I see people suffering wrongfully. However, this particular experience showed me that I still have some growing to do. Because to tell you the truth, seeing guys like him isn’t exactly out of the norm in Atlanta, GA. Spiritually speaking, there is a very strong principality of sexual sin that rests over this region and one would likely see guys like him quite often, whether it’s at the gas station, the grocery store, or any other retail store. Personally, I’ve found myself mouthing silent prayers for them when I’ve crossed their paths. But I guess this incident revealed that there is still some haughtiness and/or arrogance within me that needs to be purged out.

Leviticus 19:15-16 You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD. (NKJV)

So as I drove away from the Family Dollar store, I began to ponder how many other people react to guys like him in the same way. I imagine that this young man gets judged all of the time. Sadly, too many of us who are followers of Christ Jesus react to people like him no different than the world. We should be the ones to show these individuals love and compassion. The love of Jesus Christ should flow forth from our words and actions towards everyone. After I walked into my house, I continued to think about him and how so many of believers would never be willing to be a light to him. Not to be too presumptuous, but I believe too many of us would even be afraid to be seen with someone like him. My lord… We have a LONG way to go in terms of truly emulating Jesus Christ. This young man represents a group of people who are ignored and maybe even feared by the Christian community. Have we forgotten that they are souls who need the same salvation that we were privileged to access? Father God loves these individuals too and desperately wants them reconciled back to Him. Father God wants to heal them and restore all that has been lost to them. We are the vessels that He yearns to use to show forth His love. What I should’ve said under my breath that day was “Be healed in Jesus’s name.”

Father I’m sorry for judging this young man. I pray that he will repent and be made whole, and that You will send the right vessels to minister to his soul. I pray that this young man’s heart will be healed and that his mind will be renewed. May he be a walking testimony to bring hope to others who are facing the same identity crisis. And Father God continue to change my heart that I may lose any pride that would prevent me from being a light to people like this young man. Amen.

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2014

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Redemption of Fred Phelps: From Victim to Victor

Many of us have endured various sorts of tragedies and personal traumas that date back to our childhoods. Others have suffered through prolonged adversity and negative circumstances over many years of their lives. What separates certain people from others is their response to these different situations. Many people use these situations as justification for the various behaviors and mindsets that they exhibit, as a result. Unfortunately, these individuals never really move forward and hold on to their crutch for dear life so that they don’t necessarily have to transform. Their spiritual growth is actually stunted, whether they realize it or not. In other cases, their stories end tragically due to the lifestyles they led that were influenced by the sins that were done to them in their early years. They never move from being a victim to being a victor.

Well, I’m privileged to know such a man who is not only an example of someone who is no longer a victim, but someone who is totally sold out for the cause of Jesus Christ. His name is Fred Phelps. He is a devoted husband, father, friend, disciple of Jesus Christ and mentor who continues to be a light, a peacemaker and someone who will always speak the TRUTH in any situation. I don’t know many men who possess the level of sincerity that he does. This is a man who has truly been transformed and his diligence in pursuing righteousness has rewarded him greatly. But the path he has walked is not one from which many emerge victorious.

Starting when he was a toddler, Fred was sexually abused at the hands of his father. This abuse continued, as well as many other negative circumstances that the enemy would use to destroy him. The emotional abuse and evil words spoken over him by many others began to create not only a poor self-image and insecurity, but also a perversion of his identity as a man. He would go on to live and embrace the homosexual lifestyle, and he would look to men to fill the void left in his heart by his abusive and absentee father. The enemy had seemingly succeeded in perverting his identity and attempting to thwart his ordained destiny, but God had other plans…

k1030092[1]

Despite the direction his life had gone, Fred had always remained in the church. The hand of God was on his life and would eventually direct him to a ministry called “Living Waters.” There he would address all of the wounds that were done to his person and experience the presence of God in a way in which he never had. Because of his repentance, he began to recapture his true self and God-given identity! However, tragedy would strike again, as he was forced to cope with the murder of his sister. But God… A changed man emerged from the ashes of abuse, neglect and tragedy. He committed his WHOLE life to Christ. As a result, he would go on to minister to others who were sexually and relationally broken, and he will always be a treasure to the healing community.

The beauty of this testimony is how God always does a COMPLETE work. The Father always seeks reconciliation, if we are willing to get out of His way and allow it. Fred’s father was constantly in and out of prison and was never in Fred’s life consistently; even during the times when he was out of prison. As a result, they were estranged for seventeen years, but God intervened… He reunited them and the process of healing began. This all occurred as Fred dealt with his father wounds in the Living Waters ministry. Isn’t it amazing and even exciting how God loves to heal and reconcile His children? For the next couple of years there was forgiveness, reconciliation and the sealing of his true masculine identity. The Lord spoke to him and affirmed, “You are not what your father did to you.” Sadly, his father was terminally ill, but a week before he passed, Fred prayed over his father. Peace descended and fell upon them. God was simply confirming that the reconciliation was complete naturally and eternally. Two weeks later, the Lord instructed Fred to take on his father’s last name because he had always had his mother’s maiden name. I know this was his way to honor his father and spark a new legacy with the Phelps namesake. Look at God…

Some years later, Fred would be introduced to the woman who would become his bride. They would be blessed with two beautiful kids, and they were just recently blessed with a third child. He is living proof that the love of God can transform anyone. Along with being a living testimony and mouthpiece for those whose voices have been silenced, he is a mighty warrior who chose LIFE over death. Fred Phelps is no longer a victim; he is a VICTOR.

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2014

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“Super Saints”

There are people in the body of Christ who are very serious about developing the character of Christ and who live consecrated lives.  These individuals have conquered much of the sin issues in their lives and have an anointing that they carry because of their obedience to the Father.  Favor follows them and they seem to change the atmosphere everywhere they go.  These kinds of people are rare and unfortunately subject to criticisms from fellow believers in Christ.  They are usually accused of trying to be superior to others, all because they value holiness and have a sincere reverence of the lord.  These individuals live differently than almost everyone around them and people are sometimes naturally convicted of their sin when they interact with them.  These individuals exhibit the love of Christ and go out of their way to respect others but again, people respond to these individuals out of their hurt and brokenness.  These individuals are wrongly accused of elevating themselves above others.  However, these individuals are NOT to whom the following open letter is addressed.  I have been compelled to proclaim a message to the “super saints.”  These are those who only resemble the people I just described, however, they lack humility and are part of the reason why people outside of the faith have distorted views of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  So with that being said…

Dear Super Saint,

It is admirable that you know the scriptures backwards and forwards, and I see that you are well-meaning in your proclaiming of the gospel.  You admonish those around you to be doers and not just hearers of the Word of God.  You are sold out for the cause of Christ and the church desperately needs people like you to be an example to others during these end times, but I notice that people tend to avoid you instead of being drawn to you.  Your ministry isn’t really growing or flourishing and people often feel belittled (not convicted) when they encounter you.  Now I will let you know that it is NOT the “Christ in you” or your “righteousness” that is pushing people away.  It’s simply you…

You have an OBSESSION with being right and have issues with anyone who doesn’t support your theology one hundred percent.  You communicate with people in a way that somewhat devalues them and so their experience with you is rarely ever pleasant.   What I sincerely want you to see is that you can know the Word of God like the back of your hand, yet still fail to love people the way God intended.  Whether you realize it or not, many have actually been DISCOURAGED by you in their walk with the lord instead of encouraged.  Your words have ripped people to shreds but then when people lash out at you or simply cut you off, you believe that you’re being persecuted.  I’m sorry beloved, but this is not true.  You see yourself as a “martyr” of sorts and believe that people avoiding you is somehow evidence of the anointing on your life.  You believe that people not liking you means that you’re on the right path and you often use “being a part of the true remnant” as an excuse.  You carry an aura that says “I’m the only one who is really saved,” and trust me; it stinks like rotten eggs.  I know because I have been to ministries and been around people who operate in that kind of spirit.  They don’t seem to understand that they are a detriment to the body of Christ and not a blessing.  Or other times you have compared yourself to the biblical prophets as a justification to being unpleasant towards others.  I don’t believe the prophets were intentionally nasty to people, they just stood for the truth and people wanted to stay in their wickedness.

imagesCAZ94EFC

So beloved, please know that I am praying for you, whether or not you heed this message.  Understand that the love of the Father doesn’t manifest in the ways in which you act out.  Yes He does chastise and correct, but He does not belittle and demean.  You have become somewhat of a “spiritual bully,” when you could really be a wonderful encouragement to those around you, and I’m not talking about your friends or faithful followers (if you’re a pastor).  I believe what is really going on with you is a heart issue.  There are some serious wounds that are embedded deep in your heart and they manifest in the behaviors that I have described.  Spiritual pride is just as bad as all the other forms of pride and in some cases probably worse.  Please take a serious inventory of yourself and ask yourself the hard questions.  What is the real reason why I start debates concerning scripture?  Do I have to win every argument or debate?  Why do I always focus on what is wrong with others instead of their strengths?  These are just a few examples.  Please hear these words with an open heart and know that you are needed for such a time as this.  Get healed.  Repent.  Apologize to those whom you have hurt.  Be humble.  Then take your rightful place in the body and be the blessing you were ordained to be.

Sincerely,

The Brethren

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Beautiful Death

The fall has always been one of my favorite seasons of the year besides the summer. I like the way that the weather cools and the wardrobe change from shorts, tank tops and sandals to pants, long sleeve shirts, jackets and shoes. However, what I like the most about fall is probably the colors. Some of the most beautiful landscapes ever captured in a photo have been adorned with shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. Funny thing is that when I was a child the only thing I liked about the fall was Halloween because I was a candy fanatic. What I didn’t like was that I had the chore of raking up the leaves in the yard; definitely not fun for a nine and ten year old at the time.
But I would like to stay on the subject of the leaves. Every fall the leaves change colors creating their own artwork before they eventually fall off the tree. In other words, the process of them literally dying is visually spectacular. It’s a beautiful death. Well, I believe the same is true for us when we die to ourselves in order to become Christ-like. There is a scripture in the Bible that states He will give us beauty for ashes, and I believe that leaves changing colors before they die is a perfect representation of this truth.

fall

Without the dying process, we will never develop the character of Christ nor will we ever complete the individual purpose that He has assigned to each us. There is in fact a beauty in dying to self. There is something about humility and lowliness that Father God finds to be irresistible. There is a spiritual beauty that radiates from those who learn to love others more than themselves. Something magnificent seems to permeate the aura of those who are living for a purpose much greater than themselves. People who flee from self preservation are infectious and even alluring in a non-erotic way. They recognize that their lives are truly not their own because they have put all of their trust in the Father. They are a magnet because there is a hidden beauty that comes into view when people are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice because they can see the full panoramic view of destiny. This is a spiritual harvest of the highest order!

Dead leaves fall beautifully and decorate the ground, but then they decompose and make the soil more fertile. Once the spring comes along, the trees grow vibrant green leaves with the aid of new sunlight and rain. Plants, flowers and crops reveal themselves as new life coming from the old. It takes a death for new life to spring forth. I think about the times when someone’s death helped preserved the life of others. Sometimes it might have been organ donation to save someone’s life in the natural. Even more wonderful, it can be the death of someone who was sold out to the cause of Christ who made a lasting impact on those who are still living. Their lives ultimately either inspired others to come to a higher level spiritually or inspired them to commit their lives to Christ for the first time. These individuals are those colorful leaves that decorate the ground, preparing it for the next harvest…

spring

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2013

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Trusting God for Friendship

A few months ago I attended a gathering and ran into an old friend of mine. We hadn’t talked or seen each other in at least a year and a half or so. We shared a quick light hug and immediately I realized that this person wasn’t particularly elated to see me. I started a conversation in order to hopefully catch up with this person so we could share what‘s been happening in our lives. Well, let’s just say that I was the one that had to be responsible for keeping the conversation going. This was not a reunion. Then it dawned on me as I kept trying to keep the conversation alive that this person and I were no longer friends. As I drove home that night, I admit that it did sting a bit. A slight heaviness came over me and I reflected on our years in college and just the differences in our personalities and outlooks on life. By the next morning, I was more at peace. I realized that this person and I had simply grown into different people. My mind became a little more at ease as I understood that this person and I maybe didn’t have much in common anymore. Were there unresolved issues? Possibly… Who knows? We can’t read each other’s minds and it is just best to move on. This person and I certainly are not enemies, but this situation is evidence that relationships do change. I can rest and be okay with the fact that this person and I are now mere acquaintances.

A mentor friend at my church always says, “Life is a big bowl of relationships.” I believe he is right to a large degree. Relationships change over time for a variety of different reasons. There are those you just simply outgrow. This is not to suggest that you are better than them, but that people mature spiritually at different rates. Sometimes you and that person may not have anything in common anymore or that their lives become stagnant whiles yours is moving on; or vice versa. Other times, our lives simply go in different directions and the closeness or intimacy you once shared with someone diminishes. These situations can especially hurt when they involve your own family. I know all too well about that one… There are other times where things like physical distance can cause relationships to fizzle out, like a soda that has gone flat.

Sometimes there are expressed and even unspoken offenses in relationships. The nature of human frailty includes situations of jealousy, envy and simply ulterior motives for the “friendship” in the first place. This is why COMMUNICATION is key when it comes to relationships. I know that I have current relationships that have somewhat broken down because of misunderstanding, expressed and unexpressed offenses and lack of communication. When there are unhealed issues, wounds and offenses that have not been resolved, the relationship is likely to break down sooner or later. Unfortunately, it may even result in a blow-up or falling out. I’m sure we have all heard the saying that “Hurt people hurt others.” Well, I believe this plays out all the time in relationships. Just like a wound that goes untreated and develops an infection that can spread around the whole body, a relationship can become permanently broken due to festering situations and wounds.

I believe that friendship is an area of our lives where we don’t always allow Father God to be in control. (This is actually the main point of this post) Let’s face it; relying upon Him to choose our friends and place people in our lives isn’t exactly easy. He will not place people that you necessary deem to be pleasant or likeable in your path. He will not always link you up with people who are cool or even those that you might seem to have some things in common. He will likely link you up with folks to help shape your character. This includes individuals with whom your personality clashes. This also includes people who will hurt you.

Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (NKJV)

We must remember that this is a journey that we are walking and if He is lord over our lives, He should get place whomever in your world He feels is necessary for your spiritual growth. He will place the people you NEED in your life; not always those you necessarily want. I’m learning that I have to be open to allowing God to place people in my life whom in the natural, I may never have formed a connection. I am learning to yield to Him so that my horizons can be broadened a bit. How many times have I or you ended relationships without God’s permission? Or how many times have we formed relationships with people when God was raising red flags for us to run the other direction? Hmmmm…. Ponder that.

Our connections with people are not just for our benefit, but for theirs as well. Every relationship is supposed to have a purpose.

friendship

So with that being said, we have to brace ourselves when God sometimes breaks up our relationships. He does this for a variety of reasons, such as codependency, lust, jealousy, distractions, causing brethren to stumble, etc. Heck, the Bible does say also that He is a jealous God. No man should come before Him, so don’t be surprised if He intervenes and causes a “sabbatical” from a relationship, or severs it altogether. If our affections for our friends exceed those towards Him, sometimes He will take some drastic measures to divert our attention back on to Himself. I have also come to realize that God is always protecting us. I think about the numerous times over the years where I would meet someone and we would seem to hit it off great in terms of fellowshipping. But for some reason, the connection would get lost almost immediately and somehow we could never get our schedules aligned or even talk over the phone much. These situations would get me down sometimes. However, in recent years, the Holy Spirit has shown me that in many of these situations, God was protecting me from that person, and vice versa… I also had to swallow my pride and admit that my neediness often caused me to cling to people and not go to Him in my times of need. Everything that appears good isn’t, especially if He is not a part of it…

So this is why we must trust God with our relationships. Wrong relationships will steer us off course from our destiny and take away our attention off of the Father. Wrong relationships will cause us walk in flesh and not the spirit. Right relationships will help form our character. Right relationships should draw us closer to Him. Let’s trust the Father and allow Him to pick and choose our relationships.

Nathan Allen Copyright ©2013

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: