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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…

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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

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Struggle Vs. Resolve

“I’m a work in progress.”

“God knows my heart.”

“This is something I just struggle with.”

These are all familiar statements that are commonly made by many people who profess to be in the body of Christ. I’ve made these statements several times myself, but have since shied away from them because I know now that they really are excuses. True enough many of us are in fact walking out our deliverance in various areas of our lives. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NKJV) If we have truly repented then we are dedicated to living a life that is pleasing to the Father. So if this is the case, then we allow the Holy Spirit to redirect and restructure our lives in such a way that will help us not give into sin so easily. However, the problem is that so many people confuse struggle with resolve.

One sign in one’s life who really wants to be free is the presence of accountability. James 5:16 says “Confess your trespasses one to another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (NKJV) If you have hidden sins in your life that no one else knows about, then you are lying to yourself when you make statements like, “I’m a work in progress.” People don’t embrace accountability because it means that they can’t simply do whatever they want. The truth is that confrontation does not feel good and most people don’t others getting in their business. God will put people in our lives to walk with us. Iron sharpens iron. However, without accountability, you will likely continue to fall over and over again. Those who have confused struggle with resolve will likely reject correction and find ways too justify their sinful behavior. Yet, some of these same folks will say that they are a work in progress. Please… Get real. Are you really progressing, or has your behavior not changed at all, except for the fact that you might go to church and know how to speak “Christianese?” Without anyone to be accountable to, you will become numb to your situation the more that you go unexposed and find comfort in the idea that you can get away with your sin issue. It’s funny how it is forgotten that the Father sees everything and He knows us better than ourselves. People are always talking about “God knows my heart.” Well according to Mark 7:20-23 that is not a good thing. The scripture says, “20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Wow… This scripture made me stop saying that “God knows my heart” altogether!

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From my own experience of walking out deliverance in certain areas of my life, I recall vividly that the Holy Spirit really came alive and began to give instructions. Sometimes instruction came from the suggestions of others who knew my situation as well. For example, if fornication is something you want to be free from, then the Holy Spirit will begin to instruct you on restructuring your life. This might mean that you stop hanging out at clubs where there is temptation. It will likely involve other things like getting an Internet filtering program, avoiding certain types of music and movies, getting rid of the phone numbers of sexual partners and distancing yourself from them. These would be the actions of someone who is truly struggling with sin, not someone who has just resolved to be that way. I remember a time about five or six years ago when I was in the shower. I would often times pray and engage in praise and worship while cleansing. This time I was heavy because I knew that I was still in bondage in certain areas of my life. I began to cry and lament. Then the Holy Spirit dropped a bombshell on me and said very plainly, “You’re not desperate enough.” Whew! What I realized from that day forth is that someone who is struggling is DESPERATE and HUNGRY for change. You get to the point where you no longer care about who knows your business and are willing to pay whatever costs necessary to get free. In Matthew 5:29-30 Jesus says, “29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (NKJV) I believe this is where the rubber meets the road and what separates the wheat from the tare. Someone who is struggling will make the sacrifices in order to live a repented life. Someone who is lying to themselves and who has resolved that a sin issue is just a part of them won’t make the necessary changes to be free because they haven’t truly experienced godly sorrow. They are only concerned with people finding out and in fact only experience worldly sorrow. THEY ARE NOT STRUGGLING!

A person who has confused struggle with resolve will NEVER change. A person who honestly struggles will eventually change and get to the point where they really are free from that sin issue. It may be a bit of a journey, but the length of that journey is largely determined by their decisions. The Apostle Paul stated that we must die daily to our flesh and crucify it (paraphrasing). This is not an easy task for everyone.   

I can honestly say that there are people in my life who know my issues. My own journey has been rocky and the Father has shown me other issues in my life that get in the way of my walking in total freedom. But I am able to find comfort in the fact that my struggle is in fact lessening and that smooth sailing is on the horizon if I’m willing to make the right choices. Being transparent may not always feel good, but that is largely because of pride. However, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Hopefully, you will be honest with yourself about your situation. There is a distinct difference between struggle and resolve.

Nathan Allen Copyright© 2012

   

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Spirituality

 

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