Reblogged: Some Thoughts on the Westboro Cult

This was originally written and posted on December 18th 2012, but I felt it was worth reposting with Westboro Cult ‘ s threat to protest the Charleston funerals.

In the midst of all the information pouring in over the Connecticut shooting some of you may have heard about Westboro making plans to disturb the area with their hateful message. I think it is time to clear the air over a few things in regards to this organization.

1. They are not a church. Never compare me to these folks and what they believe. We are polar opposites on everything. They may call themselves a Baptist church, but as far as I have seen they show how exactly not to be a Christian church. If your sole view of Christianity is from this cult, then scrap all you know about Christianity. Westboro is as much a Christian church as an elephant is a duck because he is wearing a duck costume made by a four year old that has never even seen a duck before.

2. Westboro cult fails at separating sin and the sinner and winds up hating all that is on this earth. We should hate and detest sin, but what Westboro does is hate God’s creation. I don’t like throwing around the word hate. When I say I hate sin I literally mean I hate it with every fiber of my being, or at least try to. However, I refrain from hatred over the individual. I fear for them, I care for them, and I pity them, but I will never hate them.

3. God loves us. If he didn’t then he never would have died for us. So when this cult carries signs like, “God hates homosexuals” I know they are not from God. God wants us to get out of our sinful lifestyle yes, but He loves us. He grieves over those caught in murder, theft, lying, pornography, and all the other things. He hates that sin has taken over our lives, but He loves us and thus did something about the problem. Honestly, we are celebrating his birth. Does the Christmas story sound like a God of hate to you?

4. Don’t call them a church. This may seem nitpicky and even harsh to some, but don’t go along with the media reports in calling them a church. You don’t get to be part of God’s church because you give yourself that title. They are a cult. I don’t use that term to provoke them or speak poorly of them, but to simply speak in true facts. The world associates me with people like them, and I will not indulge in that.

5. God is grieved over the sin of westboro just like he is over our sin. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure he is ticked that these folks are dragging his name through the mud. Easily some of the most vile and untruthful statements about God have been uttered by this cult who claims to worship him. However, if any of them were to repent of their sins and seek God as their real Lord and savior then God would accept them into His kingdom.

6. This means we must be grieved over this cult. Honestly, the flesh in me wants to throw them under the bus, and call them every name in the book I can think of, but that would be sin. Wishing them ill would be wrong. Responding to their hatred with hatred only puts me in their camp. Ouch. That may be a harsh wakeup call for some of you. Hating the westboro cult puts you on the same level as them. Wishing them pain and suffering makes you like them when they laugh at those who they believe are going to hell. Wishing for them to get what they deserve needs to be a realization that we also deserve the same punishment as them. Yes they are a cult. Yes they should not be referred to as a church, but they need God’s salvation as much as anyone else.

So for those who think Westboro is Christianity I urge you to realize that is not the case. They give us a bad name, and have no standing with us. They are living delusional lives under some very corrupt motivations. For my fellow believers I encourage you not to lash out with the same hatred. Otherwise you may find afterwards that the world has reason to view you exactly as they view this cult.

Letters to My Sons: On the Loss of Innocence and Racism

Racism was a somewhat foreign concept for me. That may sound odd, or even ignorant, but it is true. I grew up in a home where basing an opinion off of someone’s color of skin was unthinkable. Everyone was equal. That wasn’t just a saying growing up for me. That was a way of life. I realized racism still existed, but it genuinely existed outside of my world.

College brought on complications. I remember a young man who lived in the room next to me. He tried to bring a gun with him to school because he was a black man who was now living in the south. It was protection for him against those who were white. I remember feeling uncomfortable in my interactions with him. He was so used to being discriminated against that he assumed I must be racist since I was white.

Obama’s election added to the confusion a few years later. I saw black friends rejected by their families for not voting with their race. I heard the racist comments made. The kind of comments you only heard in the movies to signify the bad guy. Again, I just never grew up around this and I felt a piece of innocence continue to die.

I had someone ask me if the Bible spoke against interracial relationships. I was surprised by the question. Scripture was full mixed race marriages, and it was normal to see where I grew up. The innocence continued to seem to die.

I turn on the news to hear of a young man so filled with hate that he would perform a heinous act of terrorism. His goal to kill black people, and instill fear in their hearts. I have a friend/co-worker who is a black man. I respect him a great deal. As we discuss this terrible act I can see a haunting thought in his eyes. There are people out there who would shoot him just because of the color of his skin. The innocence from my upbringing shatters.

I realize something in that moment that I do not know what it is like to be a black man in America. I will never experience the struggles and feelings. I do not have to wonder why someone would shot me because of the color of my skin.

What happened this week can leave people shaken. Innocence can shatter, and we wonder how change can take place. How can the meek and humble being noticed to invoke change? Where is God in those moments?

That is when I think back to my upbringing. That is where God was. In a situation where I was raised in a family that valued his truths of love and compassion. A truth that all of humankind was made in his image. The innocence may shatter, but the convictions of those truths can produce hardness of a diamond. Cared for and crafted in a loving home, but refined in determination through the trials the world thrusts upon us. Evil seems to lurk around every corner, but God engulfs us with His presence.

I cannot change the world over night, but I can start with a small action. I can raise my children in a home that is focused on the redemptive power of the gospel. A home that preaches the equality of mankind. It can be a home where my children will have every opportunity to fall in love with God and his truths. My children will receive the care and tenderness for all of mankind, but will go through life as I pray the pressure will bring out more diamonds.

So I sit here in my son’s bed writing this as he falls asleep. Perhaps this is a letter to my children on racism in a way. Boys, I will give you the innocence I had for as long as I can. The innocence is needed because it gives us purity. Not an innocence built out of ignorance, but out of hope that we can strive for something better.

The hard truth is that men in this world will ty and shatter that innocence. Don’t lose heart. Use it to refine your convictions, and drive your actions for a purpose that is counter to their evil. Actions that make you a lover of good. If all else fails remember C. S. Lewis in his words of Christ work in this world. “Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight. At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more. When he bates his teeth, winter meets its death. And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

Tonight my children sleep with a dangerous world surrounding them, but I pray their dreams are bright, there childhood filed with hope and love, and that it will go on for generations, and spread to all they meet. It won’t stop everything, but I can do all I can to spread the hope and truth my parents shared with me.

Real Joy

This post is short as I have written it many times. Each topic I write just comes out harsh and to strong. My point this time will be simple. Keep your joy no matter your circumstances. Even if you feel caught in a place where God has put you that feels menial and insignificant. A place where you feel none of your talents and abilities or being put to any real use.

Don’t let things in life steal your joy. Your level of joy is define by what it requires to take it away. Joy in just the perfect things is not a very helpful kind. Joy that defies your circumstances recognizes a God who is till good. It acknowledges a God who loves you so much that he wants you to be a part of His plan. It reminds us that God is not done with us yet, and he will meet the desires he places in our hearts. It tells us that opportunities will come even when they appear to be absent now. It tells us that land is on the horizon when all we see is fog.

Joy defies the odds. Joy is rooted in the hope of the world. The hope built on a foundation of the greatest love the world has ever known. Because the world has known no greater love than when a man lays down his life for his friends. Joy lifts you up when there should be nothing reasonable on this earth to do so. Joy pushes you forward. Joy tells you that the time is coming. An age that you were born for. You’re in this world, and God will not count you out so why should you?

Keep joy because your chance is coming, and you will need true joy to relish and sing over it. A joy that exists long before your moment arrives. A joy that tells you that you mean something every day, and not just on a day that feels good to you. Bring on the joy.