Tag: grace (page 1 of 10)

LGBTQ People Are The Revival God Is Bringing To The Earth, Deal With It

You know the saying, “Be careful what you pray for…”

As a former conservative Evangelical pastor of 21 years, I know well the popularity of church revivals and the priority that Evangelicals give towards seeing their brand of “revival” take place in America and across the world. In their minds, the world is bad, people desperately need to believe and become more like them, and God needs to be begged and appeased in order to show up and move among us. So, for a focused period of time, they pray harder, they commit more, they preach louder, and hope their increased efforts move the hands of God in their favor.

Yet, a simple look at the Scriptural narrative will put on display the sure reality that God always shows up in ways that the religious never expect and almost always detest. That’s because many can only see the Jesus of their own image, which is why, in reality, they always miss the real One. Therefore, requiring revival, after revival, after revival, because their needle contains the poison, not the cure—the Satan, not the Savior.

In fact, to the shear panic and hair-pulling dismay of many Christians, the very revival that many spend hours pleading with God to bring, is already here among us—surprise!  But sadly, most are oblivious to it, believing God is in the wind, fire, and quaking of their right wing conservatism, not in the choked, whispered screams of those they mute, ignore, condemn, marginalize, demonize, and declare to be the enemy.

That’s why today is a time of reckoning like no other. The top is being revealed as the bottom, the least as the greatest, the first as the last, and the condemned as the anointed ones. For indeed, the religious that claim to know Jesus the most, are in fact, the ones that truly know Him the least.

Just ask the disciple Judas, as he learned that Jesus had found him out to be a sneaky conniving religious phony. How awkward was that moment? Judas’ eyes and soul filled with surprise and shame. So too will be the faces of many Evangelicals when they discover that their prayers for revival have been answered. However, to their terror and alarm, it’s the LGBTQ community that are, in fact, the glorious revival God is bringing to earth. Oh, the weeping and gnashing of teeth that will ensue among the religious.

For conservative Evangelicalism has long led the way in manifesting, perhaps, the greatest evil being wielded upon the planet—the spiritual justification of inequality, and all the brutal hell that comes with it. White supremacy, racism, sexism, nationalism, imperialism, homophobia, transphobia, greed, self-righteousness, war, and violence are all weeds that find fertile soil and safe harbor among much of right wing Christianity.

Not for long.

For the very Grace that comforts the broken and authors sacred diversity and divine equality into every thread of God’s tapestry of creation, is the very same Grace that now renders heaping buckets of white hot coals upon the heads of the self-righteous, calling them to fierce repentance for their wicked conservative Evangelical ignorance and religious idolatry.

For nothing reveals the cosmic beauty, diversity, and complexity of God’s masterful penmanship like the reality of LGBTQ people.

Nothing reveals the irreversible equality God has written into every fiber of all humanity like the reality of LGBTQ people.

Nothing sounds the trumpets of God’s demand for the unconditional love, affirmation, and acceptance of all of Her creation like the reality of LGBTQ people

They are the revival God is bringing to earth.

They are the test God is bringing to Her Church.

They are the measure that reveals how far American Christianity has fallen.

For nothing reveals religious ignorance and bigotry like the reality of LGBTQ people.

Nothing pulls back the curtain on self-righteousness like the reality of LGBTQ people.

Nothing unveils right wing Christianity’s thirst for supremacy like the reality of LGBTQ people.

Nothing detects the underlying hate, selfishness, and greed of many conservative Christians and the shallowness of their faith ideology like the reality of LGBTQ people.

Nothing sends the religious screaming into the streets with protest and rebellion like the reality of LGBTQ people.

Yes, indeed, Jesus is bringing revival to the earth.

To be sure, thinking outside the echo chamber of right wing religious conservatism can be a daunting proposition whose risks seem too heavy to take and whose revelation too frightening to consider, but hear this, and hear it well…

Every time you wish that the rights and presence of LGBTQ people were erased from the earth, you are the evil Herod searching for the baby Jesus to murder Him and remove His threat to your power and privilege.

Every time you marginalize, distance, and discriminate against LGBTQ people, you are the callous Innkeeper whose lack of discernment and blatant spiritual emptiness could find no room for the presence of the Divine disguised as the misfit and the vulnerable.

Every time you deny the clear science of human sexuality that ever widens the spectrum of God’s creativity, complexity, and diversity, and label LGBTQ people as merely having a mental disorder, you are the ignorant cowardly family of Jesus who, when push came to shove, claimed He was crazy.   

Every time you claim to be pro-life and yet emotionally, spiritually, socially, and politically abort the lives of LGBTQ people, you are the faithless hypocritical brothers of Jesus whose primary attraction to His cause was to use Him for their selfish agenda and purposes and ignore the rest of Him.

Every time you use Scripture to judge and demonize an LGBTQ person, you are the Pharisees who, out of a desire for religious power, control, and domination, vigorously searched the Scriptures to justify their bigotry, while completely missing the heart of Jesus.

Every time you deny your LGBTQ child your love and acceptance, you are Peter in the garden denying Jesus, willing to cut off the ear of anyone who reveals your inability to hear the Spirit.

Every time you harm, sabotage, demonize, or render an LGBTQ person to be a lesser human being, you are the soldiers who flogged Jesus, tearing His flesh beyond recognition.

Every time you declare an LGBTQ person to be deviant and outside the creative will of God, you are the apostle Peter, whose ignorance and limited revelation caused him to wrongly pen in Scripture that salvation was only for the Jews.

Every time you condemn an LGBTQ person as a sinning abomination destined for the flames of hell, you are crucifying the risen Jesus all over again.  

Oh yes, God is bringing revival to the earth, your prayers have all been answered. But sadly, like many before you, you miss it, and would even condemn, beat, and kill it, because you only see Jesus as the image of yourself and your religious ideology.

Thankfully, God is spitting this idol worship out of His mouth and washing it from the earth, cleansing the cosmos of inequality and hate through Her revelation of Grace, with LGBTQ people the front winds of Her Spirit moving over the waters bringing new Life and Kingdom to all who would have ears to hear it and eyes to see it.

For LGBTQ people are the Emmanuel that assures us that God is still with us…

…that blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. That blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. That blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. That blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. That blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. That blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. That blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. That blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. That blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Indeed, LGBTQ people are the revival God is bringing to the earth, deal with it.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

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

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.

I’m Sorry Church, My Hope Is Gone

I’m done.

It doesn’t matter what flavor—conservative, progressive, or something in between.

I wish it were different, I wish it wasn’t true.

I’m taking the card out of the deck.

Not playing, not going to be played any longer.

This is where I exit.

My need for you has healed, my trust in you has been educated, my respect for you has opened its eyes.

I’m sorry church, my hope in you is gone. And I’m thinking, this time, it’s gone for good.

It’s not that I ever worshipped you or let you take the place of Jesus. Stupid me, I just believed that “church” could truly be a place or a people where loving well is the highest value and exercised commodity. Yet, as inclusive, loving, and accepting as even the most beautiful ecclesial wrapping paper may appear, underneath, there is always a lurking spirit of Empire building at the heart, overshadowing all the good people. Slice it, dice it, cut it wide open—at the core, I’m sorry, I’ve tasted and seen, and it isn’t good.

I deeply wish my experiences proved otherwise, I wish I could come to another conclusion. I’ve tried—even after all we have been through, I’ve held out hope. But I can’t turn off what plays out right in front of me over and over again. What we have in so much of American Christianity is beyond simple human error, imperfection, or oversight, but a callous lust for personal gain and all the blatant disregard for people and integrity that comes with it.

Who has the fanciest facilities, the latest technology, the most inspiring worship, the best sermons, the slickest branding, the most followers, the highest attendance, the greatest programs, the fastest growth, the largest book sales, the most podcast downloads, the most speaking engagements, the coolest look, the best theology, the purest doctrine, the strongest scholarship, the most attended events, the highest influence.  

                                                                                                                           

Church is big business—progressive or conservative.

Sadly, its darkened fruits dangle clearly in the wind, for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

We have become experts at gathering in exclusive tribes with shared creeds as the inside handshake. Cool pastors lunch tables where few are ever allowed or invited. Ideological forts where conformity is the bridge to the door and the key to enter in. Celebrity leaders dressed in the latest fashions with polished appearances and presentations to impress and entice the masses. Little pink spiritual houses for you and me, as far as the eye can see.

No real place for the misfit or the in between. The prophet, the questioner, or the one lagging behind. No bigger tables, just bigger egos wrapped in inclusive spirituality and sprinkled with unconditional love glitter. Looks so good on the outside, but tastes of death in the middle. There is always something more at stake, a deeper lure underneath, than loving simply to love, and that being enough–period, end of sentence and sum of aspiration.

Perhaps it really is true, there is nothing new underneath the sun. All is meaningless, especially what church has become, conservative or progressive.  

Good men, women, and children rarely win, even within, of all things… church. Instead, to survive and stay the course, your hands must become callous, your heart quickly attuned to self, your ears oblivious to honesty, and your mind unshakably focused on more, better, and further. These are often the drugs one must take, the humanity within that must be turned off, and the integrity that must be subdued to survive and participate.  

“But not my church” is the pre-prescribed opioid that keeps things from ever getting better. Surely, not that blogger, not that pastor, not that speaker, not that author, not the group, not that leader, not the person in the mirror.

The bar my family attends for food and drink, the cubicles in which I work to live and breathe, the nature in which I roam, the secular in which I live, all are far more spiritual, holy, and pure, at least for me.  

I’ve cursed you, spit at you, praised you, believed in you, and died a thousand deaths for you. But now, as I follow Jesus towards the anew He is creating of me, I must leave you as I acknowledge the lamp going out deep inside of me, not because darkness has won the day, but because Dawn has come and awakened my entire being.

Today, I resign from being a guinea pig in the emotional and spiritual slaughter house of gaslighting Empire Christianity.

It’s all yours—take it, have it. 

I’m done. Never coming back. Never looking back. 

I’m sorry church, my hope is gone, because my life is finally beginning. 

I’m breathing for the first time, and with all due respect and love, it’s oh so good.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

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

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.

 

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.

If Today, Your Heart Breaks And Your Hope Is Fading

There is perhaps no heavier and more gruesome weight to bear than to be a person living under the oppression of another.

Good people with worthy causes never seek nor require the submission or subservience of a fellow human being. Rather, only the heart captivated by the evils of privilege, power, and greed would ever connect its mind and actions to that which desires to rule and control.

Sadly, spiritually justified and inflamed by conservative Evangelicalism, we now live in a culture where white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian privilege is clawing and scrapping for dominance. A dominance that is apparently willing to adopt nearly every form of oppression and abuse to accomplish and secure its aspirations. Emboldened by the lusts of entitlement, the good-ole-boys club that has become of much of right-wing Christianity now licks its chops at every opportunity to push their sexist, racist, self-serving, duplicit, and bigoted ideology onto the center stage of America.

What started with the rape and murder of the American Indian and the brutal slavery of black people, has now poured over into the condemnation of the LGBTQ community, the abhorrent discrimination of women, and the ruthless exploitation of the least-of-these. It is becoming all too clear, as history reveals their blood ladened trail, that conservative Evangelicalism in America will seek, kill, and destroy anything that presents a threat to their power and privilege. No woman, no minority, no disagreer, no individual, and no free thinking freedom-lover is safe.

In fact, now like never before, at the hands of much of conservative Evangelicalism, women are openly and permissively seen and treated as objects of male, sexual gratification and service, the LGBTQ community is openly and permissively seen and treated as divinely declared abominations, minorities are openly and permissively seen and treated as inherently inferior, and non-believers and non-conformers are carefully marked as the enemy. Indeed, the horrific realities portrayed in the popular television show, “The Handmaid’s Tale” are what life truly looks like if conservative Evangelicalism gets its way. Sadly, there are no exaggerations.

To that end, with every headline it seems we are frightfully moving closer to the evil, dystopian dreams of right-wing Christian conservatism. And now, with the recent, deplorable, and national mocking of Christine Blasey Ford, the belittling of female sexual assault survivors, and the rushed and manipulated confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, it’s enough to make ones heart sick and hopes surrender to the darkness.

For sure, these are terrible, frightening times that we live in as an evil Empire rises and breathes its fire from white privileged steeples everywhere.

Yet today, if your heart breaks and your hope is fading, there is good news that comes forth from our shared misery.

For out of the ashes of our disdain, you can be well assured…

Your Soul Is Calibrated To The Divine- Though, at times, it may feel much the opposite, there is nothing wrong with you—I promise, and I repeat, there is nothing wrong with you. Your disgust, as you gaze upon the nation and people we are becoming at the hands of right-wing religiosity, is not a sign of illness nor insanity, but rather, a sure declaration of beautiful health and clarity. With every prompting swelling up from within to vomit in dismay, the goodness of your heart is ringing true with divine confirmation. For this you must know, God also hates so much of what our nation has been and is now aspiring to further become. With every moment of brutal injustice, discrimination, condemnation, greed, violence, and the religious rape of Jesus and His Gospel of Grace, a soul calibrated to the divine cannot help but to become enraged. In times like this, it’s a painful thing to have a heart in sync with the Creator. Yet, this is the bravery that is needed for these important hours. A bravery of heart willing to endure the burden of being good and of God in a bad world of evil.    

You Are Further Awakening To The Darkness- Every time a woman opens her eyes and sees the sexism she once believed was her God-given role in life as now being abusive and contrary to the heart of God, a human being awakens to the darkness. Every time a white man or woman acknowledges their inherent privilege and falls to their knees in repentance for their ignorance and callousness, a human being awakens to the darkness. Every time our hearts mourn all the more deeply in witness of the manifestation of religious greed, injustice, and oppression, we are further awakening to the darkness. In these times, to have a heart filled with brokenness and a soul standing at the edge of hopelessness is to be a human being further awakened to the darkness that would devour us. And in this awakening to the darkness, we are further embracing the Light, knowing the difference that we might finally enter the fight instead of becoming its victim.  

Resistance Is Its Own Victory- No heart that collides with the person of Jesus can avoid the call to resist the ever reaching venomous tentacles of the conservative Evangelical Empire. For it is our good responsibility and highest honor to stand in solidarity with the least-of-these and to never surrender the values of Grace, unconditional love, equality, truth, justice, freedom, and divine affirmation for all. Not because we are superior, but because our redemptions our mutually intertwined. We are brothers and sisters—none of us better, only different. In our willingness to unravel from the fetal position of despair and stand tall in our commitment to resist, we break the cycles into which the enemy would have us forever seduced. Resistance is the refusal to allow evil to be done against another, and the refusal to become the evil done against us. In so doing, we have already won—breaking the chains, unleashing our hearts, partnering with the Divine, and standing on the right side of history. This, is its own victory.

Change Is A Vote Away- In the end, grab ‘em by the ballot box, I say. Not just in the elections, but in all of life. Decide to be a person of true equality where many will discriminate and cling to privilege. Choose to be a person who speaks out where others remain silent. Embody the bravery to stand in solidarity where others shrink back into the shadows. Take hold of the moments to be the nonviolent change you desire to see.

Every day we cast our vote.

When facing that bigoted family member with whom we fear their rejection or the awkwardness that would surely ensue. In the words of LGBTQ affirmation we so desperately want to type into our Facebook status, cringing in panic at the relational dominoes that might soon tumble down. In the store where the person standing in front of us is being discriminated, and yet everyone remains unengaged. In the workplace where closed door sexism runs rampant, yet a call to HR would jeopardize everything. In church, where deep down inside you know better, but the cost of resistance, free thinking, and charting a new course comes with a price seemingly too high to pay.

Every day, in every moment, we cast our vote.

Yet today, if your heart truly breaks and your hope is truly fading, may this be the day your bravery becomes more powerful than the Oppressor and the oppression they hope to bring, that our future might not become the sum of our fears, nor the result of yielding to them.

Be like Blasey.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

Purchase Chris Kratzer’s new book, Leatherbound Terrorism…

The Love Conservative Evangelical Christianity Refuses To Give

The greatest problem within much of Christianity is not in its ability to draw a crowd, build buildings, debate creeds, lure people onto a spiritual path, or assert its agenda, but rather in its unwillingness to simply love.

In substitution, large segments of conservative Christianity have become skilled at spiritually rationalizing violence, discrimination, condemnation, and religious greed. Under the guise of biblical faithfulness, a white male heterosexual desire for supremacy has carved a never ending trail of religious atrocities upon the maps of history. From black slavery to sexism. From the rape of the American Indian, to the violent condemnation of the LGBTQ community. From the pursued nationalization of their faith ideology, to the duplicit rationalization of their own sinful behavior. From the denial of freedoms for the immigrant, to the brutal murders and imprisonment of black males. Right wing conservative Christianity has staged a diabolically brilliant performance in skillfully hating its perceived enemies while convincing itself, and those who would drink of their Kool Aid, that it’s all one big beautiful manifestation of divine love and biblical faithfulness.

Sadly, nothing could be further from reality.

For what do all these declared enemies of right-wing conservative Evangelicalism have in common? The answer is not sin, evil, or the powers of darkness. Instead, it is simply that they’re either not white, not male, not heterosexual, or not privileged. In fact, when we begin to connect the dots of what conservative Evangelicalism truly worships, a clear picture quickly emerges. Tragically, it’s not the face of Jesus that is revealed, but rather a sure reflection of white male heterosexual supremacy under the dark veil of religious Christian faithfulness.

This is the evil that crucified Jesus upon the cross, as He came boldly manifesting a Love that exposes and confronts the privileged self-righteous spirit of the religious. In fact, He insisted on a Love crafted by the Divine that first embraces Grace and then stands in solidarity with ones neighbor—who is anyone and everyone, especially the least of these. He came to declare human equality and divine affirmation, and to defend the oppressed against all other messages. In the heart of God, everyone is included in the everything of Himself—always has been, always will be. This is the Gospel.

It was this love that Jesus put on display as He defended the women caught in adultery. The right wing religious conservatives of the day had her surrounded with weapons of every kind—stones, proof-texts, snap shots of her Facebook page. Jesus stepped in and between with rage on his face, writing one simple word in the sand that sent the religious screaming like schoolgirls…”Grace.”

It was this love that Jesus drank to overflowing as He sat dining with those the religious would call, “sinners.” Certainly, among them were repeat offenders, illegal aliens, minorities, gays and lesbians, and even a liberal or two—oh my goodness! There was no condemnation, guilt trips, or shaming. Their evenings together around the table never led to accountability partners, programs, or “to-do” lists. To Jesus they were just neighbors, like everyone else. That’s why they called Him, “friend.”  

It was this love that compelled Jesus to endure, without violence or physical retaliation. In the face of religious hate, He took upon Himself every kind of hell that the self-righteous could muster. Flogged beyond recognition, backed into a corner, He would never betray the Love who sent Him by manifesting anything different—love of neighbor, even unto death.

It was this love that fed the masses, clothed the naked, and healed the sick as the first priority without discussions of worthiness, qualification, or pre-existing conditions.

It was this love that saw no difference based on skin color, and welcomed the immigrant even without proper papers.

It was this love that died not just as a human, but as all humanity—every single one of them. Gay, straight, transgender, male, female, poor, rich, liberal, conservative, majority, minority, black, white, brown, and everything in between. All neighbors under the cosmic Jesus tent.

For those who may agree that conservative Evangelical Christianity has had its failings, there is still a deafening unwillingness to lift the sounds of their repentance to the level of their sin. Truth and reconciliation are sequential. There can be no peace and understanding until the poison has been fully understood and acknowledged. Perhaps, in fear that their privilege might become threatened and compromised by the emergence of true equality, conservative Christianity has instead become an expert at tone-policing, demonizing, deflecting, and minimizing those who would point to the brutal truth of their evil. For the emergence of genuine equality always feels like war to the privileged.       

Make no mistake, the heart of Jesus is this… love of neighbor as yourself, because we are all neighbors, we are all each other—none are better only different. All are affirmed and included. Grace upon Grace. 

Sadly, this is the love you refuse to give.

This is the gun you refuse to put down in exchange for taking up the cross.

This is the last-in-line that you refuse to fall into because you always have to be first.

These are the feet you refuse to wash lest you acknowledge that yours are filthy too.

This is the equality that eats at your skin because yours is an image believed to be superior.

This is the servanthood your soul can’t stomach as it guts the very pillars of your privilege.

This is the Jesus who sees everyone as a neighbor to be celebrated, while you seem determined to view the world as a nuisance to be converted.

So, while you’re tone-policing, trolling, and deflecting my every word, I’m just trying to love my neighbor by standing up for them in fierce solidarity with a willingness to shine a light on the horrible religious darkness they endure, and give voice to the true cries of their soul. Call it hypocrisy, overgeneralizing, or a message of “deconstruction”—whatever helps you sleep at night. The truth is, this is the love that Jesus came to bring, the world needs most, and that right-wing conservative Evangelicalism largely refuses to give.

Show us the scars of your solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

Show us the bullets you’ve taken for the black American.

Show us the refuge you have given to the immigrant.

Show us the healthcare you have provided for the vulnerable.

Show us the women whom you’ve given equal honor, pay, opportunity, and dignity.

Show us the outcast, condemned, and marginalized that call you, “friend.”

Show us the tears in your eyes and the cries of your heart as you live your life to bring the Kingdom of equality to all humanity—divinely affirmed as beautiful by the Father.

Until then, this is the love you refuse to give.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

What So Many Really Want To Say To American Christianity

To be sure, there are good people doing good things within American Christianity. Not everyone has taken the message and cause of Jesus and raped them of their unconditional love, beauty, and purity of Grace.

Yet sadly, much of American Christianity, as well intentioned as it may be, has largely become a religious machine of institutional self-preservation, self-righteousness, condemnation, and power-seduced privilege—some, not aware of the evil in which they participate.

In its wake, there is a disillusionment and disgust that has long been building in the caverns of many a soul. With the full capacity of discernment, countless have tasted and seen that what has become of much of American Christianity is not good, not good at all.

Despite the aggressive efforts within significant segments of American Christianity to minimize, discredit, and demonize these voices of dissent, good people everywhere aren’t fooled by the slick circus show of American Christianity with its endless maze of funhouse mirrors. They see the dark fruits growing on the tree, requiring very few brain cells to discern their obvious evil.

Perhaps, what is most challenging and elusive along this journey through religious darkness is the permission and freedom to be fully enraged, and the words to express it. Most resolve that the problem is somehow within themselves, what they feel must be wrong, or it’s a useless endeavor to resist and hope for change. In the end, many remain largely silent or extremely careful with their words, intimidated by the Death Star that has become of much of American Christianity.

Yet, there is a new level of urgency that has been thrusted upon our time. A spiritual civil war is emerging that is threatening the very foundations of our nation and all of humanity at large. There is no more time for squabbling over messages of “deconstruction” by those who wish to carve out some kind of “higher” ground and rationalize their lack of courage. There is no time for tone-policing the truth of people who have suffered in the concentration camps of religiosity. There is no time for feathery fantasies of long tables filled with conceding conversations. There is no more time for declaring peace where there is no peace as much we might desire its full fruition. There is only time for truth, and truth doing whatever it will wherever it lands. Either the Gospel of pure Grace faithfully reflects the complete heart of Jesus, His ways, and all the ramifications thereof, or it does not. With a religious conservatism that vehemently seeks to rule the world and a progressive passivism that might just allow it, there has been perhaps no more important time in all of history for the bravery of unbridled evil-confronting Grace to find its voice and to speak it loudly without restraint.

Dear American Christianity, this is what so many of us really want to say to you…

“Stop Being So Damn Selfish”– Whether it’s your intention or not, it truly feels likes everything about Jesus has become all about you. In fact, the average American church spends 75% of its budget on staff and buildings, and 80% of its time and energy on self-serving endeavors that ultimately benefit their own sustainment. If Jesus applied that same formula to His ministry, He would have never made it the cross, let alone out of the manger. Sadly, in most congregations, self-preservation and institutional success is the pendulum from which decisions are weighed and rationalized. Nearly everything about American Christianity speaks of a self-serving desire to franchise Jesus and build exclusive clubs with crosses on top. In both progressive and conservative circles, pastors and leaders dream of ministry fame, book deals, speaking engagements, conference presentations, Facebook shares, Twitter retweets, and overall personal ministry empire building–many of whom will steal, kill, and destroy in order to build and protect their throne of popularity. For others, the consumer-driven nature of American Christianity has forced them to spend their time and attention on keeping church people happy, entertained, and committed to their ministry, lest they hop to a better show down the street and jeopardize their future.

Yet sadly, the moments when we do finally see you serving altruistically beyond your own interests, it still feels like it’s all about you. From photo-ops posted on Facebook holding babies from third world countries, to emotionally crafted and carefully placed video clips during worship to display your good deeds in the community. From tales of late night prayer meetings where you “win” people into the Kingdom, to your public declarations of your “radical” living for Jesus. From the unique niche and brand that you have created for your personal ministry, to your self-promotion of everything you are doing for the Kingdom. Every light you seem to shine into the darkness has a way of ultimately swinging the attention back onto you. For Christ’s sake, can’t you just serve for the sake of serving without any fanfare, Facebook pics, name-dropping, attention seeking, slick branding, empire building, or the hoisting of trophies won as you play the never ending game of Christian competition?   

“Your Worship Is Empty”- In fact, it’s not only empty, it’s thoroughly insulting. Insulting to God, insulting to Jesus, and insulting to humanity. Have you ever considered that perhaps God desperately tires of all your singing, repenting, preaching, praying, and staged spirituality, especially when hours upon hours of ritual rarely lead to a minute of seeing you in true worship through genuinely serving, loving, and extending pure Grace unconditionally to anyone and everyone who is willing. I think God gets it—you love Him and He loves you too. Great, congratulations—now what the hell are you going to do about it? The truth is, God doesn’t need your dressed-up Sunday morning gatherings, so why is it alarmingly apparent that you can’t live without them? Perhaps, it’s all become a spiritual veil to an empty life. For all the effort, time, and resources you put into it, I wonder if an offering wasn’t taken from the crowd you’ve gathered, would it be such a big deal to you? Besides, when do we get to sing the hymn, “God I Hate You Right Now, Life Is So Depressing?” Let me guess, that probably wouldn’t be good for business, and besides, how could you ever program the right mood-lighting? When do we get to feed the poor, clothe the naked, affirm the condemned, protect the minorities, rage against the religious spirit, and stand with those discriminated–not as a side item on your spiritual menu, but the main thing? When do we get to love people unconditionally without fine print, restrictions, or fear-pedaling? When do we get to stop trying to convince God we love Him, but instead, spend our time convincing the world they are loved, affirmed, and included? When do we get to stop erecting and maintaining buildings to hide in, and start seeing all the world as our sanctuary and loving people unconditionally as our worship? Quite frankly, ask around, it doesn’t matter about your style nor flavor of liturgy, so much of your worship seems completely superfluous—all leading to the sermon where you weigh me down with formulas for life improvement and God-appeasement, and then ask me for my offering and energy so we can hop back on this religious treadmill again next week. Listen to the Spirit moving among you—staged spirituality is out, and true worship through sacrificial service, unconditional love, human affirmation, and pure Grace extending is in. Not just in, but the only thing that matters—especially to Jesus.        

“I’m Not Your Spiritual Bitch”- Every time you try to turn me into your personal Chia Pet for Jesus through growing me into a “fully devoted follower of Christ” who believes and acts like you, every gag reflex in my body violently begins twitching, and it’s all I can do to keep myself from kneeling into a full body vomit. With all due love and respect, while I appreciate your efforts, I don’t need you to save me, especially from the god of your faith understanding who tortures people forever in hell simply because they didn’t follow the proper codes for loving him back in return. The more you see me as a problem to be solved, a project to complete, and a mission to fulfill, the more your image of Jesus shows itself to be filled with far more of you and far less of Him. In fact, your leatherbound terrorism of proof texts, clobber passages, claims of inerrancy, and the weaponizing of Scripture has only served to convince me that you are devoid of the cure and filled with the cancer. I don’t want to be a part of your club, denomination, or Christian supremacy. The way I see it, there is enough useless division and inequality in the world, and to me, it’s a sin the way you use Jesus to foster it. So, you can take all your accountability partners, incense ladenned sanctuaries, and crusades to save the “lost,” I refuse to become enslaved by the tyranny you are wielding upon the earth. When I see that your faith is about unconditional Love from the Father through the Son, from the beginning to the end, maybe, just maybe, I’ll want to sign up. Until then, I’m not your spiritual bitch. Never have been, never will be.

“Zip Up, Your Privilege Is Showing” With every ounce of praise and worship you sing towards our lying, adulterous, carnal, bullying, and pubescent President. With every push for the nationalization of your faith ideology. With every white, male, heterosexual demonization and condemnation of minorities and those you deem to be sinning. With every spiritual rationalization of greed, discrimination, and inequality, your addiction to power and privilege is showing, not Jesus.

With every grip you refuse to loosen upon the guns you worship at the bloodied sacrificial altar of our children. With every segregated church service on Sunday morning. With every denial of the equal calling, value, and gifting of women. With every mission trip that serves your interests more than truly serving the needs of others. With every committee purposed on reaching the “lost” through your Christian supremacy, your privilege is showing, not Jesus.  

Stop complaining that the world can’t see Christ when you’re the one standing in the way.

For what’s most certainly clear from the shadow you cast upon the earth is this—it’s not about sin, it’s not about Jesus, and it’s not about extending a Kingdom of unconditional love and Grace. For you, it’s about the fruition of your white, male, heterosexual power and privilege disguised as the ministry of Jesus.  

“Get Your Shit Together Or Close Up Shop” The time has come, there’s too much at stake. People are dying, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Sadly, any light you bring to the planet is being eclipsed by your dark religious blanket. If you aren’t willing to reboot your entire system of faith, then power down altogether for Christ’s sake. The truth is, you have become much more of the problem and an antagonist of the solution. For when there is no turning the Titanic around, perhaps it’s better to send it sinking to the bottom. 

If anyone needs to be sidelined until their repentance is louder than their sin. If anyone needs to choke on a good swallow of their own medicine. If anyone’s tree should be laid bare to the stump. If anyone needs to kneel down at the altar of recommitment, it’s you—American Christianity, it’s you.

You are the wolf in sheep’s clothing. You are the Judas reclined at the table. You are the Herod whose addiction to power would kill the person of Jesus. You are the Jezebel whose greed and desire for domination is insatiable. You are the demon dressed as an innocent angel. You are the Ephesus that has fallen from Grace. You are the white-washed tombs that reddened Jesus’ face.

This is why we rage, this is why we cry.

This is why refuse to be silent.

This is why we will not comply.

American Christianity, this is what so many of us want to say.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

  

 

The Conservative Evangelical War On Easter

There has been no greater and deceptive evil wielded upon all the earth than right wing conservative Evangelical Christianity. For history tells the tragic tale of the countless lives that have been emotionally, spiritually, and physically destroyed and the good-hearted people who have been led astray and spiritually imprisoned by this diabolical system of faith.

Sadly, this toxic brand of demonic spiritual trickery is not without a past as throughout the Scriptures, the religious people who postured themselves as being full of the divine and uniquely centered on faithfulness were often revealed to be those who were furthest from truth and the sure enemies of God. In the presence of Jesus, so much of what appears to be sacred is revealed as scandal, and that which is condemned as scandalous is revealed of its true sacredness.

In the same way, across America, conservative Evangelicalism arrogantly trumpets an infallible understanding and exclusive authority on all things Christian. With a plastic white Republican Jesus as the hood ornament of their world bulldozer, they scan the cultural horizon eagerly waiting to demolish anything they deem to be sin or an enemy to the full fruition of their dominance. Yet tragically, with their assault-bibles in hand, like a mentally ill child-killer armed for destruction, they break down doors in pursuit of their adversary only to find it’s the Bethlehem-born, crucified, and resurrected Jesus of Nazareth and His pure Gospel of Grace. For in all of history, there has been no greater affront to the heart of God, the true person of Jesus, and the Easter He brings for all of humanity than right wing conservative Evangelical Christianity.

For Easter is the message that violence never wins. Not knives, not guns, not missiles, not crucifixions, nor even proof texts. In fact, the cross bears undeniable witness that the ultimate expression of divinely sanctioned power and favor is not aggression, bullying, revenge, greed, punishment, dominance, political gain, religious control, nor prosperity, but rather, service and sacrifice on behalf of the least of these.

Yet sadly, like the religious and political elite that murdered Jesus, conservative Evangelicalism is addicted to power and privilege with a willingness to harbor and exude nearly every form of spiritual, emotional, and physical violence and oppression in order to obtain and protect it. Through Easter, what Jesus resurrects as the ways of non-violence, sacrificial service, and the denouncement of every form of spiritual, emotional, physical, religious, and political greed, conservative Evangelicalism is quick to nail back upon the cross and crucify to death, lest the nationalization and globalization of their white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian privilege be thwarted and dismantled.  

Easter is the declaration that all are equal and divinely affirmed. For Grace is the great equalizer, none of us are better, only different. That Jesus is “all and in all,” what could possibly be clearer? For Easter is God’s vehement decree on behalf of all humanity that condemnation from the divine is impossible and human equality is irrefutable. This is thy Kingdom come—white, black, brown, male, female, gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, transgender—all are equally beautiful God-adorned threads in the divine tapestry of humanity. For equality is what the Gospel looks like when manifested upon the earth.

Yet sadly, the very same religiously oppressive spirit that flogged Jesus beyond recognition, finds its returning demonic manifestation in a conservative Evangelicalism that whips, beats, and pulverizes anything and everything that breaks the mold and refuses to conform to their ideology of privilege. Leading the way in the influence of transgender suicides, the spiritual rationalization of sexism, the barbaric continuance of racism, the insatiable discrimination of minorities, and the ruthless condemnation of the LGBTQ community, conservative Evangelicalism pimps a full-court press towards the goal of firmly putting to death the human equality and divine affirmation of all humanity that Jesus so purposefully gave His life to resurrect.    

Easter is the revelation that heaven is all inclusive. To the temper tantrums, dismay, and sheer disgust of the religious, Easter reveals a God who is far greater than any one creed and devoid of the exclusiveness many so desperately desire Him to embrace. The evil religious lines that are drawn to distinguish the faithful from the faithless, the believers from the nonbelievers, and the heathens from the saints are all obliterated by the One whose resurrection erases all labels and undermines their religious application. For under Grace, there is no “in” or “out,” “saved” or “lost,” or “faithful” or “faithless,” there is only people created in His image and included in His Trinity from the foundations of eternity—period, full stop. Therefore, Easter is the certainty that Hell, wrath, and divine hatred are the propaganda of the religious who desire control and submission above all things. In fact, nothing disarms and renders impotent the power and legitimacy of a false gospel more than when its fiery hell of religious construct is shown of its blasphemy, and heaven is revealed of its all inclusive beauty. For Jesus didn’t die to save us from an angry God, but to save us from believing He is.

Yet sadly, the fear-mongering religious who love to draw lines and build separation, and ultimately sentenced Jesus to his death because he wouldn’t hate, exclude, and condemn all the right people, are the very same ones who today worship a god who conveniently drop kicks all their enemies into a hell of eternal torment and rescues all the “good” people for an eternal home of white picket fences, two story houses, leatherbound name engraved Bibles, and Kari Jobe worship cd’s. For nothing wages war against the resurrected Jesus who reveals the inclusivity of the divine like the contrived god of conservative Evangelicalism whose exclusivity and wrath seem to always bend and sway to every pretentious wish and pursuit of right-wing religious conservatism.

Easter is the finality that Grace alone is the Gospel. For there is no other message from the throne of heaven than Grace. There is no condemnation, divine reckoning, nor final examination. All are beloved and masterfully created with an irrevocable divine stamp of approval etched upon every molecule of their being. No one can out run, out rebel, out sin, out betray, out disbelieve, nor out deny the power of Grace nor undo its capacity to capture the most restless and resilient heart. For nothing else heals, repairs, and sets onto a path of goodness and victory other than the Gospel of pure Grace. Everything else is religious pretending, a hopeless fictitious game of God appeasement.

Yet sadly, the pure Grace that Jesus so powerfully resurrects and proclaims with every fiber of His divine being, is the very Grace that sends conservative Evangelical Christianity into full blown fits of rage and declarations of war upon His true Name and proclamation—Grace. For Easter beholds the most important revelation that splits the sides and send crashing to the ground the entire Evangelical empire—”it is finished, it finished, thank God almighty, it is finished.” All is grace, and grace is all. This is the Gospel that conservative Evangelicalism crucifies with blood dripping down. Why? Because everything about their religious system is in the balance. For if Grace is the Gospel (which it is), their faith understanding is most certainly not, having participated in and fostered nothing less than pure Easter-raping evil.          

Easter is the assurance that to believe is to rest. For as well intentioned and spiritual as it all may seem, there is no such thing as a “relationship” with God or “inviting Him into your heart.” These are deceptive religious constructs that forever place ones connection and closeness with Him as being within the reach and responsibility of human control and performance. This is a hopeless arrangement as even on our best day, our spiritual performance will always and eventually breakdown, placing our connection and closeness with God in sure uncertainty.

Thankfully, Easter is the divine reckoning that desires to awaken us all to the sure reality that God didn’t come to sell us a relationship or offer us a divine maintenance plan established by our personal performance and do-gooding. Instead, Easter declares that we are the relationship—living Trinities with skin, established from the foundations of eternity. The Christian life, therefore, is not a process where we feverishly seek to become something that we aren’t already through good behavior and spiritual striving. Rather, it is the awakening to the fullness of who we already are in Christ—whole, pure, secure, and fully redeemed. In simple terms, “there is nothing wrong with you”—this is the Gospel in six words. Belief, therefore, is simply resting in the full sufficiency of Grace alone, a Grace that completely and irrevocably finished its work in you on Easter morn–period, full stop.

Yet sadly, in stark defiance to our unconditional and irreversible communion with God through Jesus Christ, conservative Evangelicalism desperately asserts a religious system of personal faithfulness, rule-keeping, sin-management, behavior modification, compliance, and accountability in hopes of guaranteeing its necessity and capacity to control. This is a foundational pillar within the conservative Evangelical Borg and its quest to addict people to their neverending self-righteous system of Christian being and living.

With every effort to riddle the Christian life and faith with conditions, clauses, and fine print, conservative Evangelical Christianity declares war on the freedom, life, and joy Easter meant to declare and bring.      

Easter is the divine megaphone pronouncing that God is love—unconditionally. Through Jesus’ cosmos-altering resurrection, He puts to death every religious assertion that predicates God’s love with conditions. For God doesn’t, “hate the sin and love the sinner,” He simply loves. God doesn’t, “bless those who bless Him,” He simply loves. God doesn’t, “save those who say the right prayers,” He simply loves. The cross is where God forever removes the word “but” from the vocabulary of heaven. In fact, there was never, “God loves you… but.” There is only “God loves you… period.” To the pubescent protest of the religious, this love-revelation doesn’t reduce love into becoming soft and slippery, it resurrects love into becoming real and divine.

Yet sadly, like the religious people who mocked, ridiculed, bullied, slandered, spit at, and pierced the sides of Jesus, conservative Evangelicalism despises unconditional love and its expression. For nothing sends right wing conservative Christianity into fits of declared unfairness like the full fruition of unconditional Love. Surely, when we all get to heaven, in disgust, the religious will see those they once labeled as the wretched enemy and bury their faces in torment. With joy, the rest of us will see those we’ve always and only known as friends, and lift our hearts in praise. For God is love—always has been, always will be.

With every rationalization of violence and weaponizing of the Scriptures. With every politicization of Jesus and nationalization of conservative Evangelical Christianity. With every pursuit of power, elitism, and privilege at the expense and deterement of the least of these. With every demonization of God through a hell of eternal torment for those who think, believe, and live outside the lines drawn by right wing conservative Christianity. With every condition placed on Love and the giving of it. With every belittling of the Gospel of pure Grace and the burdening of humanity with rule-keeping and self-righteousness. With every condemnation of the LGBTQ community and the flogging of their inherent divine beauty. With every spiritual rationalization of bigotry, sexism, and racism, right wing conservative Evangelicalism declares war against the Jesus of Easter.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” -Matthew 23:37     

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity, Tell Me, What Am I Supposed To Do?

We’re not face to face, so these words must serve the hope of connecting my heart to yours.

There’s a lot I really want to say, and even more that I hope you will hear.

Yes, I’ve changed—nearly everything about me. I know that can be a hard pill to swallow, especially the way our spiritual paths seem to be diverging, and at times, causing great tension between us. I’m a different person now, having traveled a complete one-eighty in beliefs, values, faith, heart, and my sense of self and purpose. I understand where this onset of change is met by the glares of your disapproval and anxiety. Perhaps to you, it feels like it’s happened overnight, but I can assure you, it’s been a long time coming.

Regardless, the truth is, I’ve stepped away and outside of the conservative Evangelical faith I once held so closely. My mind has been changed and my heart has outgrown the beliefs to which I once subscribed—not in some kind of arrogant way that renders me better than you, only different.

It’s all very concerning and perhaps even offensive to you—I understand.

But, with all due respect and love, please tell me, what am I supposed to do?

What am I supposed to do when everything you taught me to be true and life-giving simply doesn’t work? Being the best person I could be for Jesus was my ultimate goal—just like you wanted. I tried, I really did—praying, studying, worshipping, serving, giving—checking off every item on the list.

Yet, as much as I don’t want to disappoint you, there was this moment where I came to the edge of all that you had poured into my life. It was there that I took an honest look into the mirror and engaged in a thorough evaluation of my long-held beliefs. In that pivotal moment of clarity, I was confronted and collided with the undeniable reality, none of it was working—at least, not for me.

In fact, when I pulled back the curtains, a startling phenomenon appeared. Please don’t take this as being hurtful, demeaning, or lacking respect, but I can’t deny what my eyes were seeing. Everyone was faking it just like me—not because we wanted to, but because truth be told, that’s the best one can do while on the religious treadmill of conservative Evangelical Christianity. I know that’s hard to hear, but it is—reality.

All the formulas for prayer—didn’t work. All the steps for overcoming sin through behavior management—didn’t work. All the attempts to press harder into Jesus and lift Him higher—didn’t work. All the inspired teachings on growing the garden of my spiritual fruits—didn’t work. All the verses memorized, recited, declared, displayed, and prayed over—didn’t work. All the increased commitments to church, cultivating my relationship with Jesus, and becoming a promise-keeping man of God and spiritual leader of my home—didn’t work.

Not only did it not work, but it all left me exhausted, discouraged, empty, ashamed, and feeling even more distant from Jesus and the people He desires for me to love. At first I thought, surely the problem is with me, I must be doing it wrong somehow. Now, I’m not so convinced. In fact, not at all.

With all due love and respect, when nearly everything you taught me about the Christian life and growing spiritually erodes me into a phony, self-righteous, faking-it-to-make-it kind of person, tell me, what am I supposed to do?

What am I supposed to do when your spiritual prescriptions seem to bring far more death than life? I’ll never forget the moment, it was like no other. Face to face with a living and breathing human being who was desperately seeking hope and life, I sought to be the good and faithful Evangelical, taking everything that you taught me to be true and life-giving and apply it (verse by verse and line by line) into this broken, sin-labelled, religious oppressed person sitting right in front of me.

She had been brutally condemned by nearly every person and spiritual entity in her life, and was grasping at my counsel for one last ray of hope. Yet, with every conservative Evangelical prescription and pre-packaged talking point that vomited off my lips, it all fell flat and reeked of death, leaving this beautiful person all the more closer to giving up as the fading light behind her eyes was now all but snuffed out. What was “biblical” in your eyes brought death to hers.

In a way like never before, the alarms went off inside of me, “something is seriously wrong, and I just can’t do it anymore.” I mean no disrespect in saying so, but this whole, “hate the sin, love the sinner” crap is nothing like Jesus. Broken people didn’t cringe at His presence and leave defeated, instead they clinged to His every being and walked away with affirmation, freedom, and unstoppable courage. I know this will be met with your displeasure and even disagreement, but the cat was out of the bag and I could no longer deny it—the more of a conservative Evangelical I became, the less Jesus I portrayed. I’m sorry, when enough is enough is enough—tell me, what am I supposed to do?

When the fruits of being a conservative Evangelical leave broken people more broken, loved people feeling less loved, and Jesus curled up in the corner crying in disgust at the judging, condemning, pretentious people we have become, tell me, what am I supposed to do?

What am I supposed to do when most everything about conservative Evangelical Christianity turns out to be one big scheme? As hard as it is to say, and perhaps even harder to hear, there is no denying the conservative Evangelical fruit dangling off the tree. I’ve tasted and seen—and so much of it, it’s not good. Look around, just open your eyes to see.

It’s not about Jesus, it’s about power. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about personal ministry empire building and fame. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about million dollar state-of-the-art worship auditoriums carefully staged with tattooed skinny-jean wearing song leaders. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about the commercialism and franchising of His name. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about a false gospel of conditions, to-do lists, sin-management, spiritual performance, and a self-righteousness that seeks to leverage control by keeping people fearfully addicted to the cancer not the cure. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about spiritually policing the world, looking for ways to lift the sins of others above the weight of our own in order to justify hate, discrimination, judgement, and the condemnation of others. It’s not about Jesus, it’s about white male heterosexual privilege and perpetuating the conservative Evangelical Death Star that seeks dominance in every sector of society. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but with every bite deeper into the fruit of conservative Evangelical Christianity, it all becomes blatantly clear—it’s not about Jesus, and truth be told, it never really has been and probably never will.

When countless LGBTQ people are bullied, driven to depression and suicide, mocked, marginalized, and rendered as sinful abominations who need to repent, or else. When women are treated as second class citizens and a lesser vessel best suited for the kitchen, church nursery, secretarial services, sexual exploitation, and lower wages. When global warming, genuine scientific discovery, and the consideration of fresh biblical understandings of Scripture are eagerly dismissed in exchange for greed, a 6,000 year old earth, and the spiritual justification of condemnation. When homosexuality is vehemently demonized and labeled a sin despite sound biblical scholarship that refutes such claims, yet racism, supremacy, gluttony, duplicity, discrimination, greed, violence, xenophobia, and nationalism are met with ambivalence and a deaf ear. When countless conservative Evangelicals elect and continue to support a pussy-grabbing, racist, greedy, childish, adulterous, vulgar, inflammatory, discriminating, bullying, and war-driven President, please tell me, what the hell am I supposed to do?

There is no denying, your heart is good and your intentions are noble. There is no denying, good and great things have come from you and your ways of believing. Yet, when nearly everything about becoming more aligned to your creeds, attitudes, and actions results in a serious downgrade in my life where with virtually every moment I become less like Jesus, increasingly imprisoned to sin, and further nose-blinded to the stench of true evil, what am I supposed to do?

If I’m honest, I would rather hang on a torturous cross fit for the worst of criminals than continue to hang out in an evil system that, in my personal opinion and experience, has ransacked Jesus and morphed Him into a conservative Evangelical tyrant whose yoke is heavy with self-righteousness, condemnation, fear, arrogance, greed, and all things religious.

With all due respect, love, and appreciation, until I see conservative Evangelical Christianity acknowledging its catastrophic fall from Grace. Until I hear the sounds of its repenting becoming louder than the rationalization of its sins. Until I witness the full-force pursuit of conservative Christianity cleaning up its own act while ceasing and desisting from bullying and condemning others. Until I see churches jettison their spiritual club mentalities, fat budgets, and judgmental stances against the world. Until I see pastors fully reject the allure and onset of ministry fame and fortune. Until I see the LGBTQ community being extravagantly served with unconditional love, listening, protection, and true humility—putting their rights and needs above our own. Until I see ministries value and declare women as being fully equal in all things with unrestrained enthusiasm. Until I see conservative Christianity leading the way in thwarting racism, supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, violence, war, discrimination, and bullying. Until I see a faith that doesn’t encourage me to turn my brain off, reject science, require my wife’s submission, and ask me to pre-qualify people for love. Until I see the ways of Jesus becoming the ways of the conservative Evangelical faith understanding, what am I supposed to do?

Perhaps you’d like to me to sit down and shut up. Perhaps you’d like me to walk it all back and beg for your forgiveness. Perhaps you’d like me to yield to your tone-policing and soften my directness. Perhaps you’d like me to retreat into the land of silence, apathy, and self-preservation. I will not, and in the presence of evil, I cannot. Grace has made it so with a bravery that will not be contained—what am I supposed to do? For He alone has the words and ways of true Life.

I want you to know, it’s never been about a loss of love, I promise—at least not for me. There’s a special place deep within where cherished memories of our togetherness reside, and I suspect they always will. I wish things were different, but sadly they aren’t. We are all human, seeking the heart of Jesus. Which is why I pray you will know for sure, none of this has been easy—not one bit.

Yet, conservative Evangelical Christianity, tell me, what am I supposed to do when my heart has been so confronted and collided by Grace, love, and Jesus that I just can’t believe in you, as you, and be you anymore?

Not because I’m better than you, but because Jesus is so much better than this.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

No, Conservative Evangelical Christianity, This Isn’t About Sin

If there’s one message that much of right wing conservative Evangelical Christianity desires for all people to hear with crystal clarity, it’s their frequent declarations of that which they vehemently stand against and hope to convince the world they should do so as well.

Vigorously combing the sands of our culture with their high-powered sin detectors in hand, much of conservative right wing Christianity seems to revel in moments where they can point the finger at perceived sin and parade their admonishment of it. Their aggressive stances, statements, and resolutions against the LGBTQIA community, including the recent “Nashville Statement,” are some of the many striking examples. To be sure, conservative Evangelical Christianity would love nothing more than to have us all convinced their agenda is altruistically focused on what they perceive to be sin and its negative impact on people and society.

Not true.

In fact, there’s something much deeper and disturbing under the surface.

For if the focus, mission, and heart of conservative Evangelical Christianity was truly pointed towards confronting sin and its devastating effects, several things would be happening that certainly aren’t.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be aggressively focused on their own sin, not others’. The teachings of Jesus that call our attention to give personal sin far greater importance than the speck perceived in another, would be given top priority. The primary sounds you would be hearing from conservative Evangelical Christianity would be the continuous cries of their own repenting for the countless atrocities that have been wielded from their system and manners of faith. Statement after statement and resolution after resolution would declare their continued remorse and commitment to personal change and soul searching. Thousands would be desperately ridding their lives of gluttony, greed, judgementalism, racism, sexism, bigotry, legalism, discrimination, imperialism, nationalism, and countless double standards. Churches would be selling their multi-million dollar state-of-the-art facilities and moving to much more cost effective solutions in order to gain the resources to reach the “least of these” instead of building ministry empires and franchising Jesus. Countless churches would be begging for mercy in response to all the ways they have put the color of carpets, the style of music, their personal preferences, the worshiping of the Bible, their spiritual navel-gazing, and the keeping of traditions far ahead of extending the love of Jesus to people. The world would tire of hearing the deafening laments and pleas for forgiveness pouring out endlessly from conservative Evangelical circles—if it was all about sin.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be communicating far more Grace and kindness. In fact, conservative Evangelical Christians would be ascribed as undeniably being the kindest most gracious people on the planet, trumpeting the message of the pure Gospel of Grace at every opportunity—knowing and teaching that, “It is God’s kindness that leads to repentance,” and “It’s the Grace of God that teaches us to live rightly.” Sin would be taken so seriously that pure Grace would be valued as the only solution. Change away from sin would be so important that kindness and Grace would be uplifted and protected as the only catalysts to freedom. All because, nothing else works and we don’t have time to waste prescribing the cancer and not the cure—if it was all about sin.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be truly and completely trusting the Spirit. For the Christian calling isn’t to change people, but to love them unconditionally while the Spirit does what only the Spirit can do. In the presence of perceived sin, conservative Evangelical Christians would be doing everything possible to get out of the way of the Spirit and to doubly make sure they didn’t serve as a detriment or distraction to the Spirit’s work. They would be so sensitive to this movement in people’s lives that to potentially error on the side of thwarting God’s transformative hand through fostering guilt, shame, and condemnation, would send shivers down their spine causing them to value restraint above all else—if it was all about sin.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity would be serving and loving to the extreme. In fact, conservative Evangelical Christianity would be declared the greatest friend a person could have, especially those labeled as “sinners.” The way conservative Evangelical Christians generously served, put their needs aside, and extravagantly loved people who have been marginalized, condemned, and demonized would be so world-renowned that people might become attracted to engage in sin or experience religious oppression just for the overwhelming love and selfless serving they would receive in response from conservative Evangelical Christians. In fact, the unconditional love and serving of people deemed to be sinning would become such a priority for conservative Evangelicals, there would be little time for much of anything else to do, dream, or desire—if it was all about sin.

But sadly, it’s not, and these actions, values, and attitudes are rarely seen within much of right wing conservative Evangelical Christianity.

Why?

Because here’s the revelation of the century, for so much of conservative Evangelical Christianity, it’s not about sin and it never has been.

It’s about power—their power.

Sin has been used, abused, and fabricated into an ultimate diabolical distraction away from their primary aspiration and goal—power.

For if it were all about sin, there is no clearer example than much of conservative Evangelical Christianity’s election and continued support of President Donald Trump. It would have never happened, but it did. Why? Because it’s never been about sin, it’s always been about power.

Conservative right wing Evangelical Christianity, we’re not fooled—at least not anymore.

What’s the bottom-line allure beneath your insistence on biblical inerrancy? Power

What’s behind your aggressive necessity to continuously condemn and demonize the LGBTQIA community? Power

What’s at the center of your determination to believe in a hell of eternal torture for those who believe differently than you? Power

What’s underneath your mixed-gospel filled with conditions, loopholes, “to do” lists, and spiritual gymnastics? Power

What’s at stake behind your continued manifestation of sexism, nationalism, and elitism? Power

Power to condemn, power to control, power to Lord over, power to legitimize your existence, purpose, and actions, power to spiritually justify hate, and power to manipulate people into your fold.

No, conservative Evangelical Christianity, this isn’t about sin—it never has been.

It’s always been about power.

Thankfully, the good people of Nashville will have nothing of it, and neither will I nor countless others.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

For Those Skeptical Of Prayer, You’re Not Alone

Prayer—a popular part of the Christian life.

Perhaps for you, prayer is believed to “change everything.” Seek Jesus with all your heart while plugging in the right spiritual algorithms and prayer becomes a powerful tool to influence God towards your desires and unlock His. The measure to which God is working in your life is in direct proportion to your prayer skills, faithfulness, and persistence. God gives the gift of prayer as a way for His followers to open the heavens, learn of His specific will, and unlock the blessings and capacity of God to benefit your life, pursuits, and those for which you pray. From prayer warriors to prayer chains, the accessing of God, moving Him to do the miraculous, or simply wrenching a blessing out of His hands are all just prayers away for those who crack the code. In fact, don’t expect to hear much from God or land the key to His blessings if you aren’t seriously getting on your knees and prioritizing purity. Pray more and pray better, get more and live better—it’s that simple. To those who believe differently than you and do not share your same prayer experiences and vigor, a simple answer is ready to thwart their reservations—”If your prayers aren’t working, the issue isn’t with God, the issue is surely something with you.”

Or maybe for you, prayer is more complicated and mysterious. You love Jesus, feel a responsibility to pray, and sense it’s probably a good thing. But, how it works and whether it works is, at times, certainly uncertain. When things are clicking in life and all the pistons of firing, prayer feels awesome and is rendered such a powerful experience. Yet, when the chips fall and the ground crumbles from underneath, prayer is met with suspicion and secretly questioned to be a spiritual gimmick that can’t be trusted nor can the God to which it is directed. As a result, prayer becomes a kind of protection from being caught with your pants down. You do it, not necessarily believing it really works, at least not consistently, but because you don’t want to take the chance of not having checked it off your spiritual “to do” list. So, you go through the motions, just in case God’s in a good mood or it’s your special day. In the presence of your doubts and lukewarmness toward prayer, your Christian friends and church leaders encourage you to adjust your methods, strengthen your faith, give God the benefit of the doubt, be more patient, and remember “God works in mysterious ways.” Yet, when all is said and done, in your mind, if you are honest, prayer is hit or miss—perhaps even a bit misleading, cruel, and unfair.

Well, no matter where you are in the spectrum, chances are you have been taught that prayer is a transactional exchange.

That is, we are down here, God is up there—and prayer is largely how we connect with God, access His mind, and move His hand to work from there to here on our behalf. Prayer is that which bridges the gap, the disconnect, and the distance believed to be present between us and Him. It’s a kind of life-line, necessary for communication and the delivery of His will, blessing, guidance, movement, and favor from His world into ours. Without prayer, only the autopilot default interactions between God and humanity would be possible, filled with significant limits, disconnects, static, and separation. Therefore, prayer is what opens the flow of the divine spigot so that God can greater move in response to our greater movements of faith, faithfulness, and asking—it’s all transactional.

With that as the popular Christian view, no wonder why you’re skeptical of prayer and I gladly join you at the table—you’re not alone.

For if prayer is transactional in any way shape of form, then God is an unfair, callous, inconsistent, limited, humanly codependent god, and prayer is a scam and scheme of the most diabolical flavor.

For I have witnessed repentant Christ-worshipping alcoholics desperately pleading with God to be released from their addiction, only to be tortured with a life of unending vigilance and unequaled burden. I have watched humble Jesus-loving sacrificial pastors begging God for revival in their church only to be unfairly sent to the curb by the Deacon Board who is there today and gone tomorrow. I have watched good-hearted Christians ask God to bless the food on the church picnic table only to spend the next three days knee-bent at the porcelain altar. I have heard the despair of Jesus-worshipping church-attending parents who pray day and night, week after week, every year of their children’s adolescence only to see them grow up and face severe tragedy or embark on unyielding rebellion. I have observed numerous believers pray in and around their local schools, only to have them fall victim to devastating violence and murder. I have seen my fair share of faithful Christian fathers and mothers praying in tears for the cure to their child’s cancer only for their son or daughter to tragically die months later.

I know, I’ve heard it all before—God is going to use the death of their child, their addiction, their termination, or their misfortune to work out greater things in their life or that of others, and besides, He was focused on meeting their “needs” not their “wants.” Really, that’s how prayer and your god works? God is impotent to prosper people without pain, death, and difficulty, and everything He gives is predicated on stinginess? The same Jesus who fed the multitudes with a few loaves of bread can’t afford the healing of a cancer-stricken child? I know, “His ways are not our ways and His timing is perfect.” Really, for who?

If that isn’t enough, I’ve also witnessed countless people who couldn’t give a rip about Jesus, God, or their fellow human, seemingly blessed at every turn and miraculously spared of tragedy. In fact, the only explanation to their success, deliverance, and good fortune is to attribute it to the Divine, though they would surely never acknowledge it. If God truly “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,” then this transactional understanding of prayer is the child making a Christmas list of hopes, dreams, and wishes with a special note of their love for Santa, all while the evil Parent has already determined what they will and won’t get—love letter or not.

For if this is the sum and true essence of prayer, and God gives it to us in hopes of convincing us of His love and goodness, then He surely has a funny way of going about it, and you are not alone in questioning it.

Thankfully, our relationship with God and the essence of prayer have been widely misunderstood—the truth is so much better.

Thank God almighty, the truth is so much better.

First, because of Jesus and the cross, there is nothing transactional about our relationship with God. Any needed exchanges and transformations between us and God were completed at the crucifixion on our behalf. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it. The cross obliterated any distance, conditions, and transactional kind of relationship present between us and God. All of those are now relational relics of a covenant long past.

In fact, truth be told, we really don’t have a relationship with Jesus at all—certainly not in the conditional, transactional, distanced, and compartmentalized way we think of it. No, what we have is so much better. For we are nothing less than perfectly interwoven into the Trinity having full communion and union with God. He is us, we are Him—His life is our life, our life is His life. This is the power of Grace sealing us indistinguishably and irrevocably together with Him in a divine togetherness that is impenetrable and irreversible.

In fact, everyone you see, including yourself, is a walking Trinity in the flesh. As Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit are One, so are we with the Creator of the universe.

This is the mind-blowing cosmos-shaking reality the biblical writer Paul tasted on his lips when He penned,But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” It’s the same Grace-bomb Jesus desired to explode in our understanding when He announced, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Notice, according to Jesus, our inclusion and infusion into the Trinity was a past reality already established in the heart and mind of God that He longed for us to awaken to in the present. This is why Paul could confidently declare we “lack no spiritual blessings” from God. For God extends His generosity as far as possible in fully giving Himself to us, to be us, with us, as us—living, breathing, walking Trinities sharing completely in everything He is and possesses.

Are you ready for this?

Therefore, the true essence of prayer must reflect the true essence of our inclusion and infusion with God.

Prayer isn’t the inferior language of a transactional, conditional, and distance-ladened relationship with God, it’s the divine language of our full union and unconditional communion in, with, and as the Trinity Itself. It’s the voice and echoes of our heart reverberating with His in the living mystical chamber of our inclusion into the fellowship of the Trinity. Prayer as a life-line is rendered woefully obsolete as He is our life, and our life is His—inseparably.

Prayer is the longings of our heart in conversation with the Father, Son, and Spirit within and all around, with every word continually recalibrating our soul to the unstoppable, fully capable, and beautiful human we are in Him, lacking nothing in capacity to face our every moment.

It’s not a pleading with a distant God to receive something we don’t already possess or He might not give, but our words, feelings, and thoughts being shaped and sounded into faith by the Trinity within and all around—convincing us that everything He is and has is already ours—self-sustained Trinities with skin.

It’s the gaze of our insecurities into the Trinitarian mirror dwelling inside and out, showing us who we truly are—whole, righteous, divine, loved, affirmed, inseparable from the Father, Son, and Spirit—popping and sparking with life.

It’s the every step we take, not into the divine or in pursuit of gaining closer proximity to His presence, but rather as the divine and as His presence in this world—this is prayer, for you are the Trinitarian conversation that changes everything.

It’s the crying of our heart that is met with the shared tears of the Father, Son, and Spirit when our divinity interacts with the insanity of an insane world.

It’s the rage of our anger that is met with the shared angst of the Father, Son, and Spirit when the Trinitarian chord of justice indistinguishably interwoven into our being is sought to be silenced and defeated by the darkness.

It’s the desperation in the depths of our soul that is met with the shared compassion and passion of the Father, Son, and Spirit within, when unfairness seeks to devour the perfect sufficiency of Grace that fills us and all things.

It’s the fierce and courageous solidarity we express that is met with the shared unyielding inclusiveness of the Father, Son, and Spirit within, when discrimination, inequality, and condemnation seeks to undermine the Kingdom of Love we are and bring.

It’s the thanksgiving we feel welling up in our hearts when the Trinity within assures us there is no distance nor lack from God to us in any way or anything.

It’s the asking, seeking, and desiring that is supplied and resolved instantly and effortless without pause, not with pithy answers, clear paths, miraculously changed realities, and instant Jedi powers, but with nothing less than an awakening to our complete seamless inclusion into, with, and as the Trinity Itself—together navigating life on planet earth as One.

No more wondering, have I been heard?

No more questioning, has God turned His back?

No more doubting, maybe I’m not good enough?

No more believing God is inconsistent, distant, callous, stingy, and downright unfair and un-trustable.

For the more we pray the more we realize, God is moving in, through, and as our lives, not because we pray, but because it is who He is and who we are with Him.

Living in the Trinity, as the Trinity, the ultimate unstoppable force in a forceful world.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

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