Tag: future

Under His Eye : If Conservative Evangelicalism Gets Its Way

One of the most important questions facing our time in history is this, “If right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity had its way, what would the world look like?”

Despite how various Evangelicals might respond to this question, perhaps the best vantage point for an accurate discernment of the answer is to observe pivotal moments in history where conservative Evangelicals (as a whole) have actually won their desires. For nothing reveals the true content of one’s aspirations like the results they bring when successful.

Or perhaps, we could examine their commonly held beliefs and the future those beliefs envision. For in the end, the true sum of one’s faith can be found most clearly within the true impact their faith desires, regardless of what they may or may not claim to confess. We are responsible both for what we believe and the future those beliefs ultimately bring forth. Are we not?

Most recently, one of the prized accomplishments of conservative Evangelicalism is the election and continued support of Donald Trump as President. Say what you will about the politics involved, the bottom line is this—his character, priorities, and leadership are clearly creating a world where the wealthy become richer, the poor become more vulnerable, greed is expanded, bullying is desensitized, corruption is protected, white privilege flourishes, elitism is unleashed, minorities are further marginalized, racism is energized, sexism is normalized, the LGTBQ community is increasingly demonized, and right-wing Christian conservatism is prioritized.

Yet sadly, this is not by chance.

In fact, among many conservative Evangelicals, these are tacitly received as nothing less than welcomed results. For if this presidency was the first occasion in which conservative Evangelicalism has had influential success towards the fruition of these same kind of deplorable realities, then this moment in history would be less profound. However, from the slavery and lynching of black people to the belittlement and abuse of women, conservative Evangelicalism has long resulted in the increased spiritual justification of some of the most evil atrocities ever committed on planet earth.

In fact, now we have an administration, like never before, that increasingly creates economic systems that blatantly benefit the wealthy and exploit the vulnerable, brutally splits families with children apart who are seeking asylum in our country, aggressively sides with Israel in order to further the fulfillment of “biblical” prophecy, threatens to pull news press credentials over “negative” coverage, belittles and thwarts people with disabilities, and has dismantled highly important LGBT-protecting policies, all in the name of undoing the leadership and legacy of our first black President.   

Yet sadly, once again, this is not by chance.

Conservative Evangelicalism teaches its followers that faithfulness to God leads to financial prosperity and wealth. Having pastors with six figure salaries, churches with multi-million dollar facilities, and followers with luxurious lifestyles are seen as a reward from God not a departure from the ways of Jesus. In the mind of conservative Evangelicalism, if you are struggling financially or devoid of financial abundance, it is likely that some aspect of your faith life is askew. Ministry and Christian “success” is largely defined by the increase and accumulation of “more”—more money, more power, more influence, more campuses, more staff, more baptisms, more attenders, more speaking engagements, more followers on Twitter. In the world of conservative Evangelicalism, more is never less, more is always more—even at the expense of others.

Conservative Evangelicalism sees people primarily as spiritual projects for the ultimate goal of conversion into their faith system. Even helping the poor and hurting is largely seen as a means to a faith-serving end that builds their kingdom with more converts and satisfies their obligations of obedience to their faith. Poor hurting people are ultimately helped only to the extent in which it somehow serves their faith system. In fact, within conservative Evangelicalism, poverty (and even hardship) is often deemed as a result of unfaithfulness and wrong belief.

Conservative Evangelicalism manifests a territorial greed that desires to conquer people, groups, communities, perceived enemies, and the planet at large, not for the purpose of serving humanity selflessly, but rather garnering its submission to their faith system.  

Conservative Evangelicalism largely portrays Jesus as a white man. Not just a white man, but a white man who is a Republican, gun-owning, racist homophobic nationalist who is wrapped in the American flag.

Conservative Evangelicalism manifests a good-old-boy-club mentality for white male heterosexuals that gives them a hypocritical privilege, license, and authority over women, often leading to their sexualization, discrimination, control, and abuse. In fact, the only sins that truly matter in conservative Evangelicalism are the ones that are different from theirs and enable them to condemn those who would threaten their white male heterosexual Christian privilege and power.

Conservative Evangelicalism declares the Bible as being the infallible word of God and their interpretations exclusively faithful and accurate to the discerning of its meaning and truth.

Conservative Evangelicalism interprets the Scriptures as condemning the LGBTQ community, labeling them as “abominations,” cancers to our society, enemies of procreation, and deviants destined for hell.

Conservative Evangelicalism once asserted a biblical justification for black slavery and murder, and the demonization of interracial marriage.

Conservative Evangelicalism portrays a god who is justified in killing his enemies, destroying entire of groups of people, and sentencing disobedient non-believers to a hell of eternal torment.  

Make no mistake, what we see unfolding before our eyes is nothing less than the manifestation of the dsytopian dreams of much of conservative Evangelicalism. No matter how much they might sprinkle it with spiritual glitter and dress it up with stage lighting and smoke machines, the finish line of their faith understanding is a violent Armageddon that ushers in a kingdom where anything that does not prosper white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian power and privilege is eradicated from the earth. Spiritually rationalized racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, nationalism, greed, violence, and hypocrisy are all merely pieces of a much bigger puzzle.

This is put on display perhaps in no more profound fashion than through the current television show produced by Hulu, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based of the novel by Margaret Atwood. This prophetic drama puts forth many images, occurrences, and realities that can be easily seen as reflecting the dystopian fruition of the fundamental beliefs and values of right-wing conservative Evangelicalism.  

The truth is, this powerful show does not require a suspension of current reality to understand its message, but merely a gaze into the future of what could be if conservative Evangelicalism continues to gets its way.

In fact, what should be most alarming to us all is this—if conservative Evangelicals were asked to publicly denounce every action and faith confession of the oppressors in “The Handmaid’s Tale” that they believe are contrary to their faith system, I suspect many would find little of which they could accurately object and honestly deny. In fact, nearly everything displayed in this prophetic drama is already currently taking place in one form or another, largely at the hands and influence of right-wing conservative Evangelicalism.

Read the Bible the way they read the Bible. Pray the prayers they pray. See the world the way they see it. Believe in God the way the believe in God. Spiritually justify what they spiritually justify. Then you will see, through a simple glance down the hall of its future, the kind of world conservative Evangelicalism envisions. For if conservative Evangelicalism gets its way, make no mistake, this is what the world would look like. To be sure, being “under his eye” won’t point us to the face of Jesus, but rather to the face of their evil.

Keep your soul vigilant, these are dark times for sure, and they’re only getting darker. Hear the call of Jesus upon your heart, “take up your resistance and follow me.”

America will die at the hands of men who exchanged a brown Jesus for white Christianity, and quite frankly, it’s beginning to seem like that’s just part of their plan—if they get their way.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

photo courtesy of Hulu

At the end of your rope?

If your life has been at all like mine, there have been times when you have reached a dead end. The situation seems hopeless and you wonder how things will ever work out. You may feel trapped, abandoned, or just totally zapped.  Every effort you give to solve or move past the situation brings with it more confirmation that the challenge is above and beyond your strength and understanding to resolve, remedy or explain.  Is there anything you can do when you come to the end of the rope? How should we handle the times when we come to a dead end? Is there any hope when we find ourselves in hopeless situations?

Here’s a few words of counsel when you find yourself holding on by the threads…

1) Consider that what appear in life to be “setbacks” are often “setups” from God

Sometimes when we feel backed in a corner with no way out, the situation can be daunting and very intimidating.  So naturally, we first think of it as a negative, not a positive.  We imagine the worst possible outcomes and conclude that life is unfair and the situation will never turn out for the good.  However, what we may not immediately realize is that God is trying to correct our path or even set us up for an entirely new course, and if He didn’t force the issue, we would have never considered nor traveled down the path of His desires for us.  

Consider that maybe God is testing your faith, or drawing you closer to him so that He can move you to a new chapter in your life.  Or, maybe God is protecting you from greater harm or disappointment.  Maybe God is positioning you to impact and influence people whom you never would or could have if He didn’t allow the situation you are in to come to pass. 

Or, maybe just maybe, God is simply giving you a real, true-to-life story to tell of God’s faithfulness as He leads you, walks with you, and takes you from tremendous difficulty to tremendous triumph.

Instead of seeing your circumstance as a sure “setback”  try asking God to show you what He is trying to “setup” for your life and future through the challenging circumstance you are in. You might just be amazed at what He shows you.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

2) Wait on the Lord

Typically, when it feels like we have been left hung out to dry in life, our first impulse is try to quickly get away from the pain, solve the problem, make a decision, move things ahead somehow, or find a way out.  The problem is, those impulses are often emotionally driven and impulsive.  Who could blame us? We are hurt, spent, tired, disillusioned and the list goes on and on.  But that’s all the more reason to “wait on the Lord.” When we find ourselves feeling hopelessly trapped in a dead end, we aren’t usually as stable and sober in our thinking and judgement.  And most of all, waiting is the last thing we want to do.  But waiting, is actually one of the most important things we should do.  The times when life throws us a curve ball and the unexpected happens are some of the times when we are the most vulnerable and apt to take a mistake and make into a bigger mistake, or a difficult situation and make it into an even more difficult situation.   The scheme-artist Satan would love to do nothing more than exploit you and your situation.

Waiting on the Lord doesn’t mean you do absolutely nothing, but it does mean that you make every effort to take each step with the clear leading and nudges of God, and not before. Remember, God is very likely setting up something, but if you rush ahead, you’ll miss it.   You never know what God is up too, and the last thing you want to do is to give up too soon.  Is there a time to “give up?”  Is there a time when you may realize, God is closing one door and opening up another? Sure.  But if you don’t wait on the Lord, you will never know what was His will as compared to what was merely you getting quick in the saddle and moving before God blows the whistle. Unfortunately, the only thing that can come as a result of that is found in one word you should do everything you can to avoid experiencing…  regret.

If you wait on God, he will show you, lead you, and nudge into His purposes and plans. Waiting on God assures that you don’t get ahead or behind what God has been working towards all along.  

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14

3) Remember, when you reach the dead end, you are actually closer to deliverance than you have ever been before.

It’s hard to see, it’s hard to believe, it’s hard to feel, but it is absolutely true!  When you are at a dead end, you are actually closer to the possibility of things truly moving forward and new doors opening up than ever before.  Like a doctor will tell you, sometimes a fractured bone needs be completely broken before it can be healed. And furthermore, when it does heal, it will then be stronger than ever before.  Sometimes God has to bring us to our knees before we are willing to wake up and seek His will and wisdom for our life.  In a sense, he has to break us so that we can be truly healed.

Dead ends have a way of opening us up to real life, the life only God can give us.  Dead ends have a way of showing us how much we need God and His supernatural power. We often think we are the masters of our own universe and that we don’t need anybody but our own smart selves. Dead ends shows us how desperate, insufficient, and in need of God we really are.

God-given deliverance never comes without coming first to a God-planned dead end.   Dead ends have a great way of showing us where we end and God must begin if things are to ever truly move forward towards healing and wholeness.  Unfortunately, many come to a dead end only to give up too soon, or never turn to God to be and do for them all the things in their life that they can’t and never will be able to on their own. What happens? They never graduate. 

Think of every dead end in your life as a classroom from God where most of the time, the ticket to graduate is turning to God in faith and faithfulness at a level you have never before.  If you never turn to God in faith God will allow you to either turn away from Him or keep bumping your head into the wall.  With God’s classrooms, there is only one grade, “pass.” And he will allow you to stay in that classroom until you do.

Sometimes God uses dead ends to press you towards repentance (turning to God for forgiveness and salvation, and turning away from sin).  Other times he uses them to press you towards faith and trust in Him.  The bottom line is, what God might be trying to deliver in your life is a bucket load of forgiveness, hope, healing, salvation, supernatural blessings, and the list goes on and on. But God can’t deliver what you don’t desire and turn to Him for in your life.  If you feel like you have been in a dead end and nothing is moving forward, it isn’t because God doesn’t desire to deliver you through it, it maybe that you haven’t sought out His deliverance because you want it, realize you need it, and know you can’t truly move forward without it.

The Bible says that without faith we can’t please God, dead ends have a way of pressing us towards faith and dependance on God.  So often we think we can deliver everything our lives need for fulfillment, peace, and happiness, and wholeness.  Dead ends teach us that only God can deliver what we really need and long for in life. 

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

4) Listen closely for God, and if He is silent, it may be because He wants you to learn to trust what He has already said or shown you.

The Bible counsels us that in times of crisis, we need to “Be still.”  Listening closely for God is one of the most important things to do when you get the end of a rope and it feels like there is no way out.  Yet at the same time, it will be harder and take longer to hear God if you haven’t been in a good habit of listening to God prior to when you ran into a dead end.  That is not to discourage you, but to say that listening to God before the storm comes reaps a lot of benefits for your life when a storm finally does come.  As a matter of fact, I have found that God will prepare me and even warn me of rough waters ahead if I am willing to listen to him when the skies are clear and the sun is shining. 

If at first, you don’t sense you are hearing from God, be patient.  Yet, God may remain silent. Why?  There are several reasons, you could have an unconfessed sin mudding up your connection with God, you can be too busy and scattered in your life to hear Him, etc.  But one reason may be is that God has already spoken into your life what you need to hear from Him and you need to simply trust in what He has already said or revealed to you.  God isn’t opposed to repeating Himself, but sometimes His silence is a message to you that you haven’t been listening.

Whatever you do, make sure you take time to slow down, be still, and listen to God.  In the passage below, Elijah didn’t hear God until he was willing to listen.

11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.   1 Kings 9:11-12

5) Seek out counsel not advice

Anybody can give an opinion from their best take on a situation, but not everybody can give good counsel.  Advice comes from the opinions of people, counsel comes from the wisdom of God.  When you come to a dead-end level situation, you are going to want expert counsel from the expert of life, God.   God created you, He knows His plans for you, and He knows you better than you know yourself.  If there is any wisdom you should seek out, it should first and foremost be God’s wisdom.  Where do you find that?  Two primary places…   1) God’s Word (The Bible)  2) People who are wise in the ways of God

If you don’t have one, get a good study Bible and some Christian books on the subject of your dead end.  Read your Bible everyday and apply what you read.  If I can understand it and make sense out of it, trust me, you can too.  If you don’t go to Church, find a healthy, Bible believing and teaching Church that suits your personal preferences. Finally, seek out the counsel of Christian, faithful people who love the Lord and believe in the Bible as the absolute truth. 

There isn’t a more important time to avoid advice and seek Godly counsel then when you reach the end of the rope and you are clueless as to what to think, feel, and do. 

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119:105

6) Present yourself totally available to any direction God might desire to take you, then watch for what God is anointing and what God is closing down.

Sometimes, even in the desperation of a dead end, we can have our own preconceived, stubborn ideas as to what direction our lives should go.  There is nothing wrong with that unless of course it keeps you from allowing God to overhaul, change your plans, rework you expectations,  or redirect your life completely.  

Behind every dead end is an opportunity to take a time-out with God and reevaluate where things are going in your life.  It’s a great chance to present yourself to God as an open canvass upon which God can erase, redraw, and repaint whatever He desires for you future.  Though this may sound like a bit of a frightening proposition, it really is a win, win.  God will confirm what is headed down the right path and gently correct what needs better alignment with His will. Regardless of what God does, you can trust and know for sure that it will be for your ultimate good. 

As you completely open up you life for evaluation and possible renovation, start looking for what things God is blessing and what He is closing down in your life.  From bringing into your life new friends and closing down old relationships, to giving you new passions and desires and shutting down old ones, follow the path God lays before you of closed doors and open ones. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but you will be blessed as you take on new God-dimensions for your life.

Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me into foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise. Psalm 51:7-15 (The Message Translation)

7) Finally, walk by faith, not by sight. 

God doesn’t allow you to get to the end of the rope for you to spend the rest of your life there. It may feel that way, but it is not the case.

At some point, after you have done what is listed above, God is going to nudge you to move forward in faith.  You will know it when it happens.  It won’t be exactly clear what the future is going to bring, but that is why it requires faith.  God will give you enough to follow and yet leave enough undisclosed so that you can do so in faith.  That way, God gets all the glory.  

God will go with you, but He won’t go for you.  At some point, you are going to have to pick up and move on towards God and His will for your life.  And if at first, you are a bit off course of His perfect will, He will gently correct your path, so don’t feel like every decision you make is do or die. The first step is the hardest, but once you get going, God will direct you and steer you into His purposes and plans for you as long as you keep the connection lines wide open between you and God and seek to honor and please Him in all the you are and do.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

© 2018 Chris Kratzer

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