Tag: abortion

Essentials For Dealing With Christian Trump-Supporters

Let’s face it, living in MAGA world is vomitus. With every Trump tweet, gathering, speech, and interview, it all makes us want to sprawl feverishly to the barf bucket. Yet, perhaps what can even be worse, is finding ourselves in proximity and conversation with our Christian, Trump-supporting friends and family. From Facebook posts and pictures, to yard signs and flags, nothing triggers the gag reflexes more than a slice of white, conservative Christian, privileged pie. 

Most of us want to get along and find ways to create peace with all of our friends and family. But, when it comes to our Christian, Trump-supporting tribe, we find ourselves at a loss. We fidget, bite our tongues, look the other way, and Google search the best methods of people-avoidance, camouflaging an emotional breakdown, and stopping ourselves short from punching them in the throat.  

Are there any solutions for dealing with a Christian, Trump-supporter that can actually work without losing ourselves and our insanity? 

Here’s some ideas that are working for me.

1- Understand, You Won’t Change Their Mind-

If changing the mind of your Christian, Trump-supporting friends or family is your goal, chances are, you’ll be pitching a tent in the land of disappointment and frustration. To be sure, the rare moments when we influence change are wonderful, but harboring this expectation is often counterproductive.

Instead, set your mind on engaging your friends and family for other reasons such as a) being true to yourself b) standing in solidarity with those who are oppressed or have little-to-no voice c) or chasing evil out of the shadows. 

A change of mind most frequently happens when there has been a change of heart. A change of heart happens best when there has been an experience that causes the person to genuinely consider the possibility, ”Maybe I’m wrong?” Know for sure, that until this soul searching occurs with real motivation, a change of mind that turns a person away from supporting Trump is unlikely. Unfortunately, all the facts, statistics, and elegant arguments we bring to the table, matter very little (if at all).  

Remember, their change of mind and heart isn’t up to you, and certainly, it’s not your responsibility.  

However, the best way to lay the groundwork for transformation is to listen first and repeatedly put forth the question, “Help me understand…” For example, to your Christian, Trump-supporting friends or family members, you can ask, “Help me understand, how can you, as a Christian, support a President who displays so many attitudes and behaviors that are deemed immoral, sinful, and hateful in any religion, let alone Christianity?

Stick with that formula. Rinse and repeat. 

Listen and ask, “Help me understand…” 

Then, if you feel like responding, you can focus your response by staying true to yourself with words like, “I respect your views, but if you’re open, here’s what I think…” 

Or, you can focus your response by speaking up for those who have been oppressed or have little-to-no voice. For example, you could assert, “I just think it’s sad that we live in a country so obsessed with guns that children have to live every day in fear of school shootings.” 

Or, you can focus your response on chasing evil out of the shadows. For example, you could ask, “Why is it that 60% of conservative Christian pastors admit to having problems with porn and yet you support a President who has committed adultery multiple times and boasts of ‘grabbing pussy?’ Help me understand.”  

Whatever you do, as much as possible, stay calm and collected. Don’t become the evil done against you, and certainly, don’t lower yourself to their misery.

Chances are, you aren’t going to change their mind, but you will be able to look yourself in the mirror as you honor your soul, do your part to thwart the powers of evil, and let the least-of-these know (who are watching–and they are watching) that they have been heard and have a person in you who stands in solidarity with them and will be their voice where they have little-to-none.

2- Stop Talking About Jesus- 

When it comes to our conservative, Trump-supporting, Christian friends and family, we gotta stop talking about Jesus.

Why? Because, for many, they don’t give a rip about Jesus. Their support of Trump isn’t about Jesus and their faith hasn’t been either. If it were about Jesus, they wouldn’t be a right-wing, conservative Christian and they wouldn’t support Trump. 

So, instead, focus on their selfishness

Hold up a mirror to their unrelenting desire to lord their values and assert dominance in all of society, even at the cost, suffering, and unfair treatment of all others. Open the sewer of their insatiable hunger for white, conservative Christian privilege at the expense of the freedom and equality of others. Focus on their willingness to give unlimited pass to sin, immorality, violence, and duplicity in order to protect and prosper their way of living. Focus on their willingness to take up arms but refuse to wear masks. Focus on their willingness to let people suffer and die in the wake of their religious pursuits and ideologies. 

Focus on their racism. 

Pull back the scab of their hypocritical treatment of a black President over their lust for a lying, bullying, unrepentant, white President who beats the drums of nationalizing their faith. Focus on their willingness to allow (and even foster) systemic racism while turning a deaf ear to their white privilege. Open the playbook of their double standards towards their own protests versus the protests of the black community. Focus on their highjacking of America in hopes of ridding it of true diversity, human equality, and religious freedom.

Focus on their failure to love their neighbor as themselves

Shine a light on their unwillingness to welcome the foreigner, give hospitality to strangers, treat the immigrant as a citizen, heal the sick, feed the poor, and place their needs last and those of others as first. Expose their worship of economic systems that exploit the vulnerable, subdue the minority, and coddle the rich. Reveal their deep lack of love for their enemies and their allowance of violent, profane rhetoric towards those they hate. Focus on their microscopic policing of the lives of others while spiritually rationalizing their own debauchery. Pull back the curtain of their oppression of women and the LGBTQ community under the guise of asserting morality, when instead, it’s really about thwarting those who would threaten their patriarchy through the emergence of true equality.

Focus on their hate.

Focus on their brutality.

Focus on their inhumanity

Stop talking about Jesus.

Start talking about the hypocritical, selfish, racist, unloving, bullying, judging, and uncompassionate person their faith and support of Trump has led them to become.

3- Take The Abortion Card Out Of The Game-

You know as well as I do that white, conservative Christians would love for us all to believe that, despite some of them having a distaste for certain attributes of President Trump, they give their loyalty to him because they see him as anti-abortion and pro-life. In their reasoning, this issue supersedes all others. They argue that the protection and preservation of the most vulnerable of human life is paramount. 

Indeed, this justification by conservative Christians may help them feel good about themselves as they believe that they are taking the higher road and aligning themselves with the Bible and God’s will. However, in truth, for many, their stance against abortion is the ultimate cop-out. Where all other excuses for their support of Trump have revealed their hypocrisy, their position against abortion is the last card in their deck, and it too, is the ultimate bluff. 

To be sure, many progressives greatly dislike the idea of abortion, but also dislike the subjugation of women’s rights, the denial of science, and the belittling of medical truth, especially at the feet of a brutal, hypocritical, conservative Christian patriarchy. In fact, I’ve never met nor heard of any progressive, pro-choice person who cherishes the idea and act of abortion. For them, this issue of abortion is both complex, heart-wrenching, and grey in nature. 

However, this is not the case for much of white, male-driven, conservative Christianity. With their obvious preferences of school shootings over gun control, children in cages over welcoming the foreigner, police brutality over police accountability, mass incarceration over racial justice, a rich-favored economy over care for the least-of-these, the military industrial complex over universal healthcare and economic justice for all, and the worship of a god who joyfully sends those who don’t subscribe to their faith system to a hell of eternal torment, their priorities and values are crystal clear. There is almost nothing “pro-life” about right-wing, conservative Christianity. And quite frankly, when it’s all said and done, they don’t give a shit. With tremendous fear of losing control, power, and privilege, instead of coming clean of their duplicity, they cling all-the-more tighter to their MAGA hats. Indeed, their vehement declarations of being pro-life and anti-abortion are the ultimate cop-out. 

In fact, it should be of no surprise to anyone that, for many conservative Christians, their stance on abortion isn’t about being “for” Jesus, not even close. Instead, it’s about being “against” the full fruition of women’s equality, the sexual accountability of white men, and the cessation of their religious dominance to dictate the lives of all others. This is why they support Trump under the guise of being anti-abortion. Clearly, the only lives that matter to him are his own and that of white, male-driven, American, conservative Christians. There is almost nothing “pro-life” about the presidency of Donald Trump, and many white, conservative Christians are totally cool with that as long as he joins them and leads the way in dismantling the enemies of their pursuit of supremacy. 

When it’s all said and done, history and statistics tell the tale, many of our conservative, Trump-supporting Christian friends and family members are only as pro-life and pro-birth as it benefits their white, conservative Christian supremacy. Hard to hear, but true.

Trust me, if white, conservative Christian men could get pregnant, abortion would not only be legal, it would be biblical, easily accessible, and free. Not just that, but probably offered next to the church coffee shop or bookstore in the lobby after Sunday services. 

4- Love From A Distance- 

See, spiritual issues are huge, and anything to do with Trump is, at the heart, a spiritual issue. 

With our Trump-supporting Christian friends and family, asserting your beliefs and values is absolutely crucial. To not do so can mean leaving others in harm’s way because of our failure to resist. If we don’t take a stand, who will? 

However, when we keep our conversations with Trump-supporting Christians centered on the core issues of spirituality and integrity, we expose the cancer of their evil system of beliefs. When this happens and the truth is revealed, don’t be surprised when the gloves come off and the monster is unleashed. This can even become emotionally and physically violent and personal boundaries need to be set and respected.

Most certainly, as courageous as we want to be, there is a time to step back from the battle and love from a distance. When a person’s behavior or words become harmful to you or others, there can be no more “agree to disagree.” In those moments, it may be very important to continue to assert your views, but from an emotional and even physical distance. To do so is not giving up or bowing down to their views. Instead, it’s either creating space to stay in the game for the long term, or acknowledging that the circumstances are simply beyond your influence. 

The noble goal that declares, “I am not going to let politics come in between my relationships” is admirable, but often unrealistic and even cowardly. These are highly critical times and highly critical issues that define who we are and desperately affect the lives of many. Taking a stand is absolutely essential if the context for change is ever going to be established. Unfortunately, this can cost the price of important relationships, even family. Yet, this is a cost that must be paid. Thankfully, where possible, loving from distance can allow the needed separation without completely abandoning the relationship.

Yet, sometimes you have to pull the parachute before you crash into the ground. Walking away from debates, arguments, guilt trips, passive aggressiveness, and outright evil before they destroy you must be an option on the relationship table. If being you requires appeasing them, it’s time to love from a distance. Perhaps, a very long emotional, spiritual, and physical distance.

Indeed, these are relationally anxious, stressful, and divisive times that cut the core of who we are, what we believe, and what we value. 

Now more than ever, it’s time for us to take our stand.

Be you. 

Believe what you believe.

Find your voice.

Stand for the least-of-these.

Never give up, and never give in.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave. 

 

Abortion: The Ultimate Evangelical Cop-out

Trump is the middle finger of white, male-driven, conservative Evangelicalism. He’s the scab-picker of a long-festering, pungent hate among many white American Christians towards the things they feel are an increasing threat to their white, conservative Christian way of life and privilege in society. 

Yet, the difference is obvious, Trump is nothing like Jesus, the central figure of Christianity. A simple comparison of their character and ways reveal this truth.

However, none of that matters. So many Christians, in essence, don’t give a damn. For them, there is literally nothing Trump could say or do that would dislodge their obedience towards him. This has left analysts and Trump-disgusted Christians trying to crack-the-code as to how anyone who associates with Jesus could place their support and allegiance in such an anti-Jesus man and President.

The answer is simple. 

White, male-driven, conservative American Christianity has taken the person of Jesus who stands “for” so many beautiful things and twisted Him into a religion centered around the destruction of what they stand “against.” In truth, the Trump supporter isn’t concerned with what Trump is doing “for” Jesus, but rather intoxicated by what he is doing “against” their contrived enemies.

For example, let’s take the white, male-driven, Christian colonization of America, their unwavering support of Israel, their “mission” to convert non-believers, and the brutal eradication of Native Americans. No matter how much “Reaching the world for Christ” or “Manifest Destiny Lipstick” you put on that pig, when your bottom line purpose is to make the world more “like” you and “for” you, anyone and anything that doesn’t foster and surrender to that agenda becomes a bright blip on the radar screen of the enemies you stand “against.” That’s right, so many of the spiritually wrapped actions of white, male-driven, conservative Christianity have never been “for” Jesus, but rather “against” the things that threaten the presence and prosperity of their privileged Empire.

The same applies to Trump’s Muslim travel ban, the border wall, and the increased demand for so-called religious freedom. None of it is about protecting our country from terrorism, illegal immigration, crime, nor fostering true religious pluralism. Instead, it’s about giving leverage and privilege to white, male-driven, conservative American Christianity through the demonizing, marginalizing, and belittling of all other religions and peoples.

Think about the LGBTQ community. White, male-driven, conservative American Christianity wants us all to believe that their vehement disgust with this issue is because it’s a sin that offends God and undermines our culture. Excuse me, but that’s hilarious. 

What white, male-driven American Christianity cares about within the LGBTQ community is their relentless desire for shared rights. They can’t stand the idea that heterosexual patriarchy would have to share equal value, priority, influence, protections, space, and rights with any group besides themselves. If they cared about sin, they would be spending all their time policing the mountain high pile of debauchery rampant within their own camp and the numbers among them who, ironically, enjoy lesbian porn. Instead, they demonize and stand “against” the LGBTQ community, not because they are “for” dealing with sin (which LGBTQ it is not), but because they don’t want to share their heterosexual, patriarchal privilege.

Starting to connect the dots? 

This is the root impulse behind every form of their oppression of minorities and their social and political aspirations. White, male-driven, conservative American Christianity wants power, control, and prominence in all of society, and they will use whatever methods to achieve this goal. Slavery, mass incarceration, lynchings, police brutality, tear gas, denial of rights, economic inequality, sexism, voter suppression, rigged elections, dictatorships, lying, labeling, demonizing, false-flag operations, fraud, constitutional abuse, and the list is unending. They don’t give-a-rip about aligning their values and pursuits to be “for” Jesus, they only care about aligning their lives and spinning their faith “against” anything and everything that threatens their appetite and addiction to self preservation and prosperity.  

Enter abortion.

White, male-driven, conservative Evangelicalism would love for us all to believe that, despite some of them having a distaste for certain attributes of President Trump, they give their loyalty to him because they see him as anti-abortion and pro-life. In their reasoning, this issue supersedes all others. They argue that the protection and preservation of the most vulnerable of human life is paramount. 

Indeed, this justification by white Evangelicals may help them feel good about themselves as they believe that they are taking the higher road and aligning themselves with the Bible and God’s will. However, in truth, for many, their stance against abortion is the ultimate cop-out. Where all other excuses for their support of Trump have revealed their hypocrisy, their position against abortion is the last card in their deck, and it too, is the ultimate bluff. 

To be sure, many progressives greatly dislike the idea of abortion, but also dislike the subjugation of women’s rights, the denial of science, and the belittling of medical truth, especially at the feet of a brutal, hypocritical, conservative Evangelical patriarchy. In fact, I’ve never met nor heard of any progressive, pro-choice person who cherishes the idea and act of abortion. For them, this issue of abortion is both complex, heart-wrenching, and grey in nature. 

However, this is not the case for much of white, male-driven, conservative Evangelicalism. With their obvious preferences of school shootings over gun control, children in cages over welcoming the foreigner, police brutality over police accountability, mass incarceration over racial justice, a rich-favored economy over care for the least-of-these, the military industrial complex over universal healthcare and economic justice for all, and the worship of a god who joyfully sends those who don’t subscribe to their faith system to a hell of eternal torment, their priorities and values are crystal clear. There is almost nothing “pro-life” about white, male-driven, conservative Evangelical Christianity. And quite frankly, when it’s all said and done, they don’t give it shit. With tremendous fear of losing control, power, and privilege, instead of coming clean of their duplicity, they cling all-the-more tighter to their MAGA hats. Indeed, their vehement declarations of being pro-life and anti-abortion are the ultimate cop-out. 

In fact, it should be of no surprise to anyone that, for many, their white, male-driven, conservative Evangelical stance on abortion isn’t about being “for” Jesus, not even close. Instead, it’s about being “against” the full fruition of women’s equality, the sexual accountability of white men, and the cessation of their religious dominance to dictate the lives of all others. This is why they support Trump under the guise of being anti-abortion. Clearly, the only lives that matter to him are his own and that of white, male-driven, American, conservative Evangelicals. There is almost nothing “pro-life” about the presidency of Donald Trump, and many white, conservative Evangelicals are totally cool with that as long as he joins them and leads the way in dismantling the enemies of their pursuit of supremacy. 

Given the benefit of the doubt, some would suggest that white, conservative Evangelicals are at least “pro-birth.” Excuse me, but that’s also hilarious. They might be “for” white, conservative Evangelical birth. But, they certainly are “against” the birth of a lesbian, gay, bissexual, or transgender person. Sure, they declare that being LGBTQ is a choice after birth. However, that’s because it’s more palatable to condemn a “choice” than it is to condemn God’s designed “creation”–an LGBTQ person from birth. 

But, not just against an LGBTQ birth, but “against” every black, brown, or multi-racial birth. Sure, some will warm-up to minorities and act as if they support equality. Within white, male-driven, conservative American Christianity there is a certain level of diversity they are willing to accept as long as they can patronize it, exploit it, and it doesn’t threaten their dominance in society. However, when that diversity finds its wings and it starts to feel like it’s crossing the line by encroaching the sandbox of their privilege and power, all bets are off and the bully is released. 

For these are the demographics that ultimately pose the threat of thwarting and dismantling their white, male-driven, conservative Evangelical supremacy. In fact, seeing how prominent and acceptable racism has become for many white Evangelicals, I am surprised they don’t have underground black and brown abortion clinics. Oh wait, they do, they’re just called voter suppression, racial injustice, children in cages, mass incarceration, police brutality, economic inequality, and “all lives matter.” 

No, they would never come out and say it that way and would deny these assertions fervently, but systemically and subtly it’s all true. 

With their protests demanding their God-given freedom to NOT wear a mask in order to protect the lives and prevent the deaths of other people as they ironically wave signs declaring, “My body, my choice,” the reason why so much of white, male-driven, conservative Evangelical Christianity makes such a big deal about abortion isn’t because they are “for” life, “for“ birth, or “for” Jesus. Not a chance. Rather, it’s because they are “against” the emergence of true equality for women, the sexual accountability of white men, and the dismantling of their religious power to lord their values over all of society. 

Indeed, the conservative Evangelical stance against abortion is the ultimate Evangelical cop-out, especially in justifying their support of Trump.

Trust me, if white, conservative Evangelical men could get pregnant, abortion would not only be legal, it would be biblical, easily accessible, and free. Not just that, but probably offered next to the church coffee shop or bookstore in the lobby after Sunday services. 

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

If White Conservative Evangelical Men Gave Birth, Instead Of Women

Make no mistake, one of the most threatening realities to the white, male, heterosexual supremacy interwoven deep within conservative Evangelism is a woman with the power to choose with equal freedom and influence to that of a man, beginning with her own body all the way out into the full spectrum and experience of her life.

Simply connect the dots and there you will find, most white conservative Evangelical men only wage war against the things that threaten their power and privilege. If it matters to them, you can be sure it does so because it ultimately matters to their control and lordship over others.

The issue of abortion is no different.

For when has conservative Evangelicalism ever cared about life over and above the preservation of its own power and privilege? If history is my guide, I’m thinking, almost never.

In fact, white men, especially those of the right-wing conservative Christian persuasion, have long led the way in committing all kinds of barbaric acts of horror while applying every spiritual justification that can be contrived. In contrast, women are summoned to the task of following behind and falling in line as the “helpmate,” a title conveniently ascribed by the male writers of Scripture, of course.

It’s undeniable, in regards to white conservative Evangelical men, history tells the gruesome tale, many of them walking upon a moral ground that is shaky at best, if existent at all.

That’s why, if the tables were turned and white conservative Evangelical men gave birth instead of women, things would be dramatically different. So much, that even if abortion were declared by Jesus from the heavens to be a clear human atrocity and sin before God, many white conservative Evangelical men would surely find a way to not only label it an undeniable option, but to deem it a spiritually acceptable practice believed to be mandated in Scripture—if it served their power and privilege to do so. You know, like genocide, racism, lynchings, the pillaging of the American Indian, cages for refugees, the condemnation of the LGBTQ community, and horrific concentration camps for the enemy—to name a few. And yet, you want me to believe that you have the spiritual and moral integrity to discern and dictate the nature of abortion, its complexity, and its validity?

No way!

For how can you maintain power and privilege when there’s a chance you’ll be forced to die in the process of giving birth? No white conservative Evangelical man would tolerate such a sentence, but women should?

In fact, if white conservative Evangelical men were the primary caretakers for children known to be born with devastating, lifeless, hopeless, and excruciating conditions that surely required enormous responsibility and intervention, trust me, abortion would conveniently and quickly be deemed to be as benign as divorce papers. You know, like they are for those white conservative Evangelical men whose domestic needs aren’t being served with joyful submission, their sexual appetites aren’t being satisfied, or their wives refuse to become a “penis home.”

Make no mistake, if white conservative Evangelical men were forced to endure unwanted pregnancies through no choice of their own, trust me, abortion would be deemed a divinely authorized proclamation of emancipation from the devil’s scheme to place a stronghold upon the lives of God-fearing men who have become victims of female oppression. You know, like their justification of sexism, misogyny, discrimination, and the spiritual pass given to a President who brags about grabbing women’s pussies.

The world has long submitted to the nefarious rule, power, and choices of conservative Christian white men, and look at where we are. Our planet is dying, animals are becoming extinct at unprecedented rates, the poor become poorer, the elderly more vulnerable, the greedy more greedy, the minorities more discriminated, the marginalized more condemned—all at the feet of your spiritually justified leadership. And now, you have the hypocrisy to lecture and legislate the choices of women on behalf of their bodies, children, futures, and families while asserting a moral high ground?

You’ve gotta be kidding me!

White conservative Evangelical men, until your repentance is louder than your sin, you have no credible voice into the lives of women and their choices—period, full stop.

In fact, I find it interesting how many white conservative Christian men claim to be pro-life while at the same time they are certainly pro-choice about the Bible—determined to protect their freedom to use every interpretive knife they can contrive to abort countless people into hell, murder their souls with condemnation, and yank them out of the womb of God’s Grace, slicing and dicing them with sin-labels and discrimination–all while singing songs to Jesus with a self-righteous smirk on their face.

Sadly, it is becoming all too clear, you clearly know nothing about being a woman and giving birth. And apparently, you know very little about making Jesus-honoring choices and decisions on behalf of the life and lives of others.

For history reveals the sonogram of you heart and soul—more so than not, birthing nothing less than evil into the world.

Whether abortion is right, wrong, or something in between, this I surely know, God certainly isn’t using you to communicate Her will.

So, sit down.

Sit down now.

Jesus says so.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

Check out Chris Kratzer’s new book getting rave reviews, Leatherbound Terrorism…

There is no greater evil being wielded upon the planet than Conservative Evangelicalism, and Chris Kratzer’s life and ministry journey are undeniable proof. In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris tells of his 21 years as a conservative Evangelical pastor and the radical change of heart and mind that led him to walk away from it all. With a new sense of faith centered on Jesus and His pure Gospel of Grace, in Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches. Endorsed by best selling authors Steve McVey and Baxter Kruger, Leatherbound Terrorism will challenge you, inspire you, and most certainly cause you to rethink your faith and life.

A Letter From An Aborted Child To Their Mom

Dear Mom,

I know what you’re thinking, how can “I” possibly be speaking?

Everything has a voice.

Every cell in your body has a voice—a memory.

You think of me. Moments, thoughts, feelings, uncertainties, dreams, indecision, the unexpected—I will always be with you.

That’s a voice.

Maybe you didn’t hear me then—lots of distractions, pressures, decisions, competing voices. I understand, but perhaps you would hear me now.

A person is never the sum of a moment or period in their life—they are eternal.

A time, a stage, a segment of their life does not define them or whether they are in fact a “them.” The moment your egg and my father’s sperm united, eternity spoke its creative evaluation and decision that I am a person. Besides, there is no other outcome that orchestration signifies nor grows. Somehow, someway, God or no God, intended or not, positive or negative, the cosmos was aligned to bring me to be, a human. Not as an intention, or a future formation, even if just an egg and sperm together, I have always been a person. That whole conception thing may have been my beginning, but every person has a beginning that does not make them any less a person from the beginning. I was not a “leading to life,” but life from the beginning.

All of this is to say—mom, you have a child, it’s me.

I’m still alive. Both in you, as a memory, and in heaven as a person, for eternity.

You have a child. It’s me. I’m speaking.

Mom, please listen—please.

I want you to know, I understand. Maybe you feel deep regret, maybe it was a confusing time, maybe you didn’t care at all. I understand—life is so complicated.

Yes, I think about what could have been, as probably you do as well. It’s sad, it’s painful, it’s hard—but, I am alive.

I still have a voice.

I want to tell you that I love you. I want to tell you that our eyes will meet one day. I can’t wait to wrap my arms around you, I practice for that moment with great anticipation.

I’m not angry with you, I don’t hold anything against you. In fact, Jesus and I have talked, and we both take great delight in you. Besides, on earth, who knows the mistakes I would have surely made, too many to count—reaching out for your patience, forgiveness, and long-suffering. Mom, I have nothing but love for you.

You are not less to me, you always have been more. It’s not about what could have been—it’s about what is, what can, and will be.

Mom, you have so much still to give, to share. You are so beautiful, especially to me.

I pray, in some way, my voice can speak through your voice.

Perhaps in that way, even now, we can be mother and child, together.

A voice of healing.

A voice of hope.

A voice, leading to better understanding.

A voice of clarity within the complexity.

A voice that speaks, from what at first was thought to have no speak.

I love you mom—always have, always will.

I am so proud of you—that you are my mom, always and forever.

I hope you hear me.

Love,

Me

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Christian, Shut Up And Listen Already

I get it, there are a lot of high-volume issues at play in the jukebox of our culture.

Sexuality, immigration, terrorism, politics, economics, war, racism, poverty, abortion. All, filling the airwaves with their sound. Complex voices, ringing around our heads. Stirring our thoughts, twisting our emotions. Reverberating straight to the bottom, rattling the very essence of our souls, forcing the ultimate question…

What does it mean to be Christian?

You want it to calm down, turn down, settle down, make it all go away. What you don’t understand you label as noise. What doesn’t fit your theological playlists, you quickly eject. Cupping your ears, you crank up the volume of familiar hymns. Drowning out, discrediting what doesn’t align. The voices God wants so desperately to speak to your faith, you simply want to subtract.

What you call static, Jesus calls sacred…humanity crying out, if only to be heard.

So much to learn, so much to understand, so much to be gained. This is what learners of Jesus are supposed to do… learn.

Our culture is a concert hall of instruments, each in their own way, crying out with the same longing. A beautiful song. What does it truly look like to be human? To be pleasing to our Maker. Is it being more like this, or more like that. Living this way or living that. Believing more over here, or believing more over there. Each having a melody. If only to be heard.

What you call unconscionable, even unlovable, Jesus calls undeniable, even in-condemnable…humanity crying out, if only to be affirmed.

At the core of every soul is an ancient desire fashioned from the eternal, to love and be loved. To have value, to have worth. Meaning, purpose… beating the beats of our heart. To be alive in our living.  Just… to be… frigging… affirmed.

But you don’t hear it, and you won’t hear it.

Sadly, we Christians suck at learning, even more at listening. We think it’s all about the concluding and the speaking. In our arrogance, we assume we already have what needs to be said, believe it’s our job to say it, and people need to hear it.

Spoiler alert. Christian, nobody gives a damn! You’ve lost your credibility. You’re all talk, no listen.

Licking your chops, unfolding your talking points, “this is what the Bible says.” We play in bands of like-mindedness, creating walls of sound to out-sound opponents. Walled in spiritual neighborhoods of little pink theologies. We Christians are experts at volume; speaking over, drowning out… ideas, creeds, viewpoints… even people.

This is who we have become. Noisy. Mute-button, Christians.

Can you just shut up already? For Christ’s sake… shut up?

You are speaking to be heard rather then listening to become a voice. And therefore, you have no voice that our culture is willing to hear.

When is the last time you sat down, and just listened?

Listened to the journey of a homosexual. The path of one who is transgender. A Muslim’s story. Or that of a mother who had an abortion. Broke bread with one who believes differently. Sat at the feet of a black man, an hispanic women. Dare I ask, maybe even an enemy.

When was the last time, you frigging just listened?

Give me the day, the hour, the minute.

I’m not talking about listening to tolerate, with spiritual eyes rolling in the back of your head. Going through mission-statement motions.

I’m talking about sitting to be transformed. To see Jesus where you believe you will see none.

Is your faith system so weak that you can’t think, reflect, listen, question… even learn, possibly come to a new perspective?

Within the sound of everything you label as noise, are the cries of real people, longing to be heard.

Our culture is listening for our listening, not for our words.

There should never be a voice that needs to force to be heard. Never a person questioning, desperately desperate to be affirmed.

Yet this is what we Christians have created. Hell on earth. A culture, a world, that has to cry, beg, plead… just to be heard, just to be loved, just to be affirmed.

That is the last thing that should be happening where we Christians are near.

Folks, this isn’t a game where the loudest voice wins. In fact, it’s where we listen, and only where we listen, that Jesus begins.

For the every cry of every person has already been heard and answered by Grace. We simply listen and point to the beauty of His face.

It’s that simple.

He is our voice, His Gospel is this… that in Christ, all are unconditionally loved, affirmed, valued, and desired. None are better, only different. Adored, delighted, saved, made whole, in Him.

This is our faith. This is the Kingdom.

It only begins however, when we shut up, and listen.

Christian…

for Christ’s sake…

shhhh, shhh, shh,

shut up…

and listen.

Hot Potato – Addressing the Tough Issues with Grace

From homosexuality to abortion, from legalized marijuana to racism, the culture we live in is filled with “hot potato” issues. Issues that are hard to handle and seem like you can’t touch without getting into a mess of opinions, charged emotions, heated debate and relational tension. Everybody knows what it’s like when a political or moral subject is brought up around the family Thanksgiving table, and all the sudden you can cut the tension in the air with a knife. Unfortunately, it’s not just a family gathering phenomenon, “hot potato” issues come to the surface in just about every venue of life. And to be sure, it’s easy to get burned without ever even knowing what happened.

Unfortunately, Christians (and churches) have often unnecessarily  stirred the pot and poured gasoline on these charged issues instead of being a source of healing, understanding, and mutual respect.  Are there perfect ways to handle these issues and respond to these hot topics within our culture? No, not usually. But, there are better ways!

Here are a few suggestions for Christians and churches…

1) Cut the one-sided message game. – “Wow, that message on the church sign (or billboard) has totally changed my mind”  said no one ever.

These issues are too big and too personal for one sided statements blurted out into the public.  From sidewalk agenda-preaching of things that people are against to messages of the like held on signs, these one-sided methods, though probably well intentioned,  have greater propensity to do more harm than good.  Clever statements on signs, billboards, mailings etc. rarely influence people onto your thinking, but polarize the issues and the people involved. Those who think like you smile inside and join your cause, those that don’t, don’t and won’t. Besides, most people read into what is read or said through their own experiences and beliefs and interpret them differently. The chances of being misunderstood and communicating an unintended message greatly increase through these methods. These highly charged issues are too important, complex, personal and volatile to simply blurt out a one sided, over simplified message about, even as crafty, well intentioned, and clever as they might seem to be.

2) Don’t hide behind Facebook (or any other social media). – Man, if they hadn’t made that status statement of their views against _________, I would still be so ignorant and misguided.” said no one ever.

Facebook, Twitter etc. can be a place to begin a meaningful conversation about tough issues, but rarely do people use it in that way. Rather, they vomit out their thoughts and beliefs about certain hot topics in a 50 character status update and then hide behind the distance and safe-zone that social media platforms afford. If you want to ride your soapbox regarding heated issues without having real, meaningful conversations that actually go somewhere, keep blasting your trumpet through your status update and taking it down once someone comments with an opposing view. If you are out to feel better about yourself and get a rush from the praise of your like-minded choir, than Facebook  etc. is your “hot potato” place. If changed lives, mutual respect, and real dialogue are what you seek, social media may be a place to begin, but it’s never the place to stay or end. Make sure you are open to conversation, dialogue, opposing views, and kindly giving mutual respect before you use social media in addressing tough social issues.

3) Get face to face-  The fact that no one has ever taken the time to talk with me (not just to me) has truly been the difference that has changed my whole way of thinking.” said no one ever.

To0 many churches hide in their buildings and programs, and too many Christians hide behind their social media. It’s amazing how a conversation can change when two (or more) people meet physically, face to face.  Or at least, voice to voice. 70% of communication is non-verbal, so imagine all that’s missing when we don’t take the time to be with people, in the flesh. These issues are far too important than to settle for anything less than face to face, voice to voice conversations. Are face to face conversations always possible? No. But chances are you can find a better way than texting, tweets, Facebook, and Pinterest to dive into these sensitive, toxic issues.

4) Start with listening, begin and end with Grace-  

“When I realized they weren’t listening to me and couldn’t wait to tell me what I should think, feel, and do, it made their Bible bashing statements of fear, guilt, and shame all the more powerful to turn my stupid thinking and sin-living life around. Deep down I knew all I needed was a healthy dose of condemnation and a few “to do” programs and messages to get me on the right path” said no one ever.

Influence is gained through listening, a change of mind is gained through Grace.  Grace is not a reduction of nor a retreat from truth. Rather it is the truth seen through and dealt with through Grace. Everyone has a story that if you don’t learn about and understand, you forfeit your ability to minister the Gospel into their lives.  Every person is different, and the Gospel is personal to every person’s life. You can’t communicate the Gospel personally without knowing the person. Most people have never had a person truly hear their pain. Most Christians and Churches don’t begin with listening, but begin with admonishing, correcting, and quoting. And then we wonder why our message rarely gains any traction within our broken, hurting culture. Furthermore, when we speak, we tend to lead with the Law. “You need to do this, change that, stop this, start that, join this, sign up for that”  As well intentioned as our programs and prescriptions might be, they actually end up further imprisoning rather than setting free. Why? Because they lean towards the Law, and not on the pure Gospel of God’s Grace. The Law never changed anyone, the Gospel can change everyone. No one has ever become Holy through punishment, nor proclamations of condemnation, rules, and areas where one does not measure up or is getting it wrong. Christians and Churches have become impotent and irrelevant in our culture today because no matter our worship styles, logos, and campaigns, the Law in any shape or form is irrelevant and impotent to change lives. And don’t be fooled, great numbers of baptisms, church memberships and the like may be nothing more than a sign that we have successfully inspired people to perform a religious ritual to begin their journey into becoming a performance driven Christian in our life enhancement club. The only thing that is relevant and potent to change minds and hearts is the Gospel of God’s Grace.  Start with listening, begin and end with Grace. People who get true Grace, don’t sin more, they sin less. You can never have too much nor give too much Gospel Grace. More Grace, more thankfulness. More Grace, more repentance. More Grace, more faithfulness. More Grace, more obedience. It is the Grace of God that teaches us to live rightly. It is the Grace of God that enables people to reign in life, not rules, spiritual gymnastics, church traditions, guilt trips, fear tactics, punishment, Bible bashing, clever programs, stage lighting, skinny jeans, and hip sermon series.

Let’s open our ears and trust the Gospel of Grace.  Let’s be less clever and more caring. Less shock and awe, more respect and carefulness. Let’s be more accessible and less one-sided in our communication as we all seek to be Jesus in a “hot potato” world.

What would you add to this list?  Looking forward to your thoughts!

 

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