Tag: human

No, Conservative Christian, God Doesn’t Send Mass Shootings

Just weeks ago, it was a hurricane.

Now, an horrific mass shooting by a white terrorist.

Here we go again, another tragedy being projected onto the heart and will of God.

Sadly, there’s nothing that seems to be more convenient and appealing to some Christians than claiming that the onset of human tragedy is a result of the actions of God in defense of the very things they support and in punishment of the very people and realities they are against.

It’s always amazing to see the spiritual gymnastics some Christians will perform in order to twist God into a divine puppet working on behalf of all that they hold to be true and troublesome. But then, when tragedy strikes inside their camp, all of the sudden, God’s ways are deemed to be mysterious and beyond human comprehension.

You know that your creeds and system of faith are bogus and desperately weak when you resort to portraying God as the author of human tragedy in an effort to legitimize and advance the validity of your faith understandings. This is why deflecting truth and blame has become nothing less than a prized spiritual gift among many conservative Evangelical Christians. While some point their fingers at God in the wake of human tragedy and misfortune, the ever growing necessity emerges for the rest of us to start pointing our fingers at right wing conservative Evangelical Christianity, lest we all be deceived.

In fact, as hard as it is to say and as difficult as it may be to hear, the truth is, until America wakes up to the true connections between conservative Evangelical Christianity and many of the deepest ills of our society, lasting change will elude us. When conservative Evangelicals proudly elect and continue to enthusiastically support a President whose campaign received a record $21 million dollars from the NRA who spent $36.6 million dollars on the election in total, the true diabolical wizard behind the curtain begins to appear. From slavery to the bloodshed of war, conservative Evangelical Christianity has long found ways to spiritual justify nearly every evil on planet earth when it favors their agenda, and escape into the shadows of ambivalence and proclaimed innocence the morning after.

Truth be told, there is no greater deception being wielded upon all the earth than the attributing of human tragedy and harm to the authorship of God—often, by the very same people that history reveals as being the ones who are in fact capable of the required levels of hate, religiously justified violence, and spiritual illness to enable such atrocities. In fact, when you believe in a god who loves people so much that he is holy and just in brutally punishing them eternally if they don’t love Him back in return, especially through your prescribed steps and rules, your capacity to justify your own violence and the harming of others is not far away.

For if anyone should be shouting from the mountain tops demanding real gun control, it should be Christians. If anyone should be first in line to limit or even surrender their rights for the greater good of their fellow humans, it should be Christians. It is the same nonviolent cross carrying Jesus who calls us to a life of service and sacrifice that we worship, is it not?

Sadly, while many conservative Christians hope we are baited and hooked by their declarations of being “pro-life,” the truth is, much of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity is proving itself to be about as pro-life as a wolf in a chicken coop.

No, most Christians would never pull the trigger, send the hurricane, or wield such suffering directly, but apparently some certainly don’t mind believing God does—that, my friend, is the new face of spiritual and mental illness. When you proclaim God as the author of human tragedy in retribution for people acting against what you believe to be God’s will, you are not only the problem, you are spiritually and mentally dancing with the devil. For the one who enables the alcoholic is just as ill and complicit as the alcoholic themselves.

No, conservative Christian, God doesn’t send mass shootings—perhaps, this is on you.

This is on you to lead the way in turning swords into plowshares in a culture dripping with violence and hate.

This is on you to loudly repent of your history of spiritually justifying harm upon those you to deem to be the enemy.

This is on you to boldly proclaim the nonviolent sacrificial example of the Jesus you claim to follow.

This is on you to silence meaningless political rhetoric and harness your influence to demand meaningful gun control.

This is on you to look inward to an evil spiritual system and creed that personifies God as a vengeful deity who is holy and just in hurting, harming, and causing people to suffer.

This is on you to be first in line to limit or even surrender your rights for the good of humanity.

No, conservative Christian, God doesn’t send mass shootings.

Yes, He did send His Son to show us the way of nonviolence, peace, sacrifice, and service.

Perhaps, now more than ever, you could consider denying yourself for a change and following Him.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

5 Solutions To The Racial And Spiritual Divide In America

There is a racial and spiritual divide in America. The cracks on the ceiling are giving way, some wondering if the whole house is about to fall—violence in thought, word, and deed gushing through every tube that connects us. The assumptions and predeterminations from which we view one another and render our conclusions have perhaps never been more jaded. Much of American Christianity has become weaponized, marching as to war—the political climate and social ills, mere surface products of our deeper spiritual fall from Grace. America is racially and spiritually divided and poised for certain eruption, not primarily from what is happening in the halls of our capitals, but first and foremost, because of who we have become sitting in the pews of our churches. With blood in the streets, discrimination around ever turn, cries going unheard, and condemnation gutting us from within, enough is enough, a new people we must become if America is to be racially and spiritually divided no more.

We Must Become People of Grace-

Grace is the ultimate equalizer that declares the intrinsic, sacred order within all humanity—none are better, only different.

We are all human, created in divine imagery, having strengths and weaknesses. Yet, by God’s Grace, our weaknesses nor our strengths define us. Rather, our irrevocable and irremovable God-established worth forever qualifies all humanity for every right, blessing, and fair treatment. Under Grace, we travel this planet, all spinning on equal footing and value. As we pursue different paths and apply different choices, we are no less worthy nor more entitled to the fundamental qualities of life that God, by His Grace, has woven into His plan for every being—freedom, hope, life, love, eternity, and the fruition of their God-given capacity to be the person He created them in identity.

As we see people as equally reflecting our Creator’s image an possessing His value and worth, we live not to judge, conquer, lord over, nor undermine, but to see the quality and potential of our lives forever connected to that of all those around us. When we are people of Grace, we live not to point out imperfections nor be divided by inherent differences, but to sing in concert with the Creator’s plan that all might know and enjoy their divine beauty and the rest to one’s soul and living that Grace provides.

Under Grace, the nightmare of the American dream is revealed and the birth of a Kingdom hope takes flight, where people are fully free to be fully loved and to fully love in return—a hope where personal performance, success, and accomplishment do not create division nor distinction that measures, but rather reflects the artistry of our Maker who shares the benefits of His excellence and stature for the purpose of lifting everyone upon Him and blessing them with everything needed to enjoy and reflect Him. We must become a human-honoring, non-judging, equality-loving people.

We Must Become People of Unconditional Love-

The essence and entirety of God is unconditional love and His deepest desire is for us to embrace that love and manifest it to others. Love is love is love—it has no color, gender, orientation, status, limits, conditions, restrictions, or exclusiveness.

No matter our faith understanding or expression, until our theology is love, we will always be leaning on our own religious ideologies to the detriment, division and depravity of others and our nation. If love is not the ideal, the real, and the priority above all others, then all our creeds, policies, governing, and individual and corporate endeavors are rendered as gonging, clanging cymbals out of beat and out of touch.

Where temptation and even fair reason emerge for revenge, retaliation, subversion, isolation, or discrimination, love must be the alarm and the trumpet that calls us back to what is eternally true and relevant—only love wins, everything is a bandaid upon a cancer.

The ethos of our country as a nation and our faith gatherings as spiritual formations needs to centered far less on the creation of like-minded camps and exclusive denominations, and much more on the becoming of tables for transformative conversations. And where there are disagreements, love must be lifted as the common denominator and disposition that calibrates our hearts and attitudes towards mutual affirmation, even in the presence of honest disagreement. For the new unity of the future that will truly bring us together, spiritually or otherwise, will not be based upon what we can agree, but rather on the strong foundation of our willingness to have disagreements while doing life and freedom together in mutual respect and honor.

We Must Become People of Servanthood-

Grace doesn’t build walls, it builds mirrors that we might first see ourselves in the light of our shared humanity, spirituality, and equality with all others. Then, and only then, are we fully capable of truly seeing our neighbor in all their truth and assuming the right posture of heart to love, influence, and guide one another as mutual learners along this path of life, faith, and togetherness.

In this way, we become servants of one another, establishing the currency of our interactions to be measured by that which bestows the highest levels of honor to another, simply because they breathe.

Servanthood sees sin less as something to stand against, and more as an opportunity for love to find its highest fruition as it stands in solidarity with the redemptive value inherent in all creation, no matter the perceived sin or dissonance. For sin, differences, and creedal conflicts are not near the issue for God as they are for religion—making them a condition and stumbling block for servanthood where God makes them the object of it.

We are to serve one another in spite of all things and because of all things, giving love center stage to do its work and win in the lives of ourselves and others. God is surely big enough for everyone’s truth to be important, respected, valued, and served. We must become a humble, serving people who are convinced that he or she that loves the deepest and with the least restriction is he or she that wins, to the gleam of God above.

We Must Become People of Shared Human Dignity-

Evil must be seen not as an inherent human condition, but rather in those actions that would withhold Grace, reduce the dignity, and undermine the sacred, equal value, goodness, and worth of all people.

When this becomes the tuning fork from which we align our perceptions, spiritualities, and attitudes—bigotry, racism, discrimination, condemnation and hate for any person for any reason will be aggressively called out, chased out of the shadows, and suffocated of the air it needs to breath. The “least of these” will be defined as those whose seat at the “importance” table has been conditioned, minimized, or removed. Thus, our hearts will be forever bent in sorrow towards anyone in lack, seeing their equal treatment and future as being forever weaved into ours.

Where those privileged today often see equality as anything that still keeps them privileged, equality in the future must look like that which manifests the reality that God created us all privileged, qualified for every good thing—and therefore, how dare we get in the way of that which the Divine has decreed or be silent when it’s missing. For silence and apathy are the incubators from which all evil is given permission to grow.

We must become a outspoken people who see evil as a dehumanizing reality and we as the ardent defenders, advocates, and caretakers of the least of these, shielding those who bare its brunt and force, and rescuing those who wilt in the soils of its poisoning.

We Must Become People of Nonviolence-

Where there is violence the real battle as already been lost.

Spiritual, physical, and emotional harm is always a surface acumen that rarely ever solves the core. For punishment never made anyone holy, nor healed the hurt fueling the hurter.

People are not the problem, our unwillingness to thoroughly listen to each other’s story and submit ourselves to their implications is much more the culprit. A changed mind about an enemy begins with a heard story. Sadly, we have become more addicted to being ignorant and isolated from people’s true pains, experiences, and histories, then in the discovering of where the seeds of condemnation were first planted that have blossomed into the aggressions, scars, twitches, and brokenness that are manifested.

Violence is often a compensation for the unwillingness to listen and be changed in mind and heart by the human histories and experiences of another. Listening begets understanding, understanding begets learning, learning begets compassion, compassion begets healing, and healing begets peace.

There will be no peace until there is passionate, humble listening. For in the end, we are altogether no different— in, under, and with the One who made us—equal by the Equalizer—Grace.

This is who we must become—gracious, unconditional-loving, all-people-serving, human-dignity-defending, nonviolent-listening people.

May it be so, beginning with me, beginning with you.

Loving The World Into Change

Don’t say you don’t need it. Don’t say it doesn’t matter.

There’s no hiding from it.

It’s at the heart of everything about you. Your pulse, your movement, your thinking. It’s the stirrings inside of you. What awakens your sleep, what captivates your captivations. It’s the poetry in your poem, the magical of your imagination, the strength beneath your sweat.

It’s love.

You’ll never find a forward step, a rush of hope, a cavern crossed, apart from love. You know you need it, you know you desire it. Like shining is to the sun.

When something is missing, it’s what’s missing. The lump in the throat, the gasping for breath, the cry from deep waters.

Love, the presence of. Love, the absence of. It’s everything.

There is no other way, but love. None.

Search the skies, the universe expanse. Look under here, look under there. Fasten the knife upon your belt, the gates around your heart. Take up arms, growl your threats, sabotage from within the shadows. Poison a cocktail, if you please.

But, nothing good ever came apart from love. No healing, no dream, no redemption, no turning the corner.

Nothing is impossible when love is the answer.

Search your footprints, every step upon your path. Love made you. Love has changed you, the only thing that’s changed you, for good.

So, please, please I beg you.

For heaven’s sake, for your sake. We must come back to love. Time is running out. The clock is ticking. The world is dying. Don’t say you don’t see it, don’t say you don’t feel it. Around you, within you.

How is that hate working for you? How are the silent treatments working for you? The false medications, the distance creations. The unforgiveness, the trust resistance.

How’s that working for you? The pimping of a dream that’s really a scheme. It’s all about you. Fame, fortune, sucking on the applause of others to convince yourself of what you are not convinced… that you are loved, lovable.

Do tell… how’s that working for you? Drawing the lines, placing the labels. Assigning people into the margins of your brain. In, out, somewhere in between. Friend, enemy. How’s that working for you? Muslim, Jew, black, white, conservative, progressive, gay, straight, rich, poor, terrorist, peace-maker.

I say, who gives a rip? Love for Christ’s sake! Love. Without restraint, without condition, without question… your sole ambition.

Do it. Be free. Untie the ropes. It’s love.

The essence of God, and all this is good. You can’t go wrong with love. You can’t do it.

Nothing is impossible when love is the answer.

If the world is going to change, it will be because we loved it into change.

How?

Start with the history of people, particularly of your enemy. 

We are a complicated people, who at times, punch at the very things we need the most. Standing in the right, standing in the wrong. We all have the twitches, scars, the vulnerabilities. Blind spots, personalities, all intermixed. Rages, passions, deep within. Kicking, screaming. Longing to love, and be loved in return.

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Love means making a thorough understanding of the histories of those we want to be history. There is no compassion without understanding, and no understanding without love.

Love, is the history examiner, the back-story investigator, the benefit-of-the-doubt giver.

We cannot change people without understanding the history that changed them. Applying love, where none was given.

Love the difference of people.

For who among us is not different in some way? Who of us can claim perfect togetherness with anyone?

The unity of love is in our willingness to love within differences. Shades of grey.

There is humanity within every human, we must find it and hold onto it. Cherish it, unshackle it to the surface. This is the quest of love, to dig deep into everyone. There is an image in which we have all been created. A Person into which, we have all been recreated.

We are not our differences, we are all, reflections of the Father, manifestations of the Son. All together, different. Beautiful, glorious, magnificent.

God is so much bigger than we, and how we might be separate. Expressing Himself, giving Himself, living Himself in all of it.

What God intends, should not leave us intimidated… that we are different. All of us.

For we cannot be the difference without a love of our differences.

Love is the great influencer, the great affirmer.

How do change anyone, I ask you? An enemy, an author of injustice. A violent perpetrator of evil. Or how about the selfish, the greedy, the scheming schemers.

How do you change anyone? The wrong, the misguided, the speakers of untruth. The disagreeing, the dissenting, the rebels, addicted to their youth.

How do you do it? With rules, guilt, punishment, politics, religion? Fear, shame, intimidation, some faith decision? Weapons fired, love withheld, life restricted, hope taken, body imprisoned?

How do you change anyone, for good?

“For the Grace of God teaches us to live rightly…” Titus 2:12

Grace is the vibration made when God touches you. God who is love, who loves you. Everything about you. Affirming, delighting in, all of creation.

There is no other touch from God than Grace. And Grace, the only thing that changed anything or anyone, for good.

And here in lies the scandal. That you have been changed, already. Even though you may not know it, or believe it.

You are the beauty of Jesus, the love of the Father, the change God is bringing to the world.

It is you. You are the love.

The beauty, the change. Awaken to you.

Nothing changes until you love from the love that you are.

Wrestling down, hugging even when it hurts, awakening one heart at a time… to love.

There is no other way. None.

Be the beauty, the change, the love you already are…

…loving the the world into change.

This is the way, the only way it’s done.

Loving the world, your world, into change.

Standing With The People You Can’t Stand

The root essence of every person that was, is, or will ever be… is goodness.

In the creation poem that opens its scroll at the front of the Christian Bible, God speaks the world into being. With hands coursing His artistic beard, He pauses between breathes to evaluate His living imagery. In rhythmic cadence, with each step He declares, “it is good.”

I love that God creates creation good, not perfect. It can go here, it can go there. Loaded with life force, the cosmic tapestry awaiting humanity’s weaving. Not without the capacity for hands to sew devilish patterns out of divine art. It’s good, remember, not perfect.

The Tempter in serpent form, exploited the Garden of its goodness. Playing his sole card of condemnation, the first human ones bit the bluff. Convinced they lacked in some way, unworthy of the worthiness etched into their being. What was natural became naked, and the yarns of shame and guilt slithered their coil through the threads of inherent goodness. It is a complex weave. And we, are a complex people in the arduous journey of trying to unravel from condemnation’s relentless entanglement.

This is the story of every human being, bobbing and weaving, wrestling to come out from under condemnation believed. It is the root of all sin. The catalyst of all that is religious. The genesis of all contortions, twisted personas, and justifications. Compelling us into the dance to heal or conceal a shamed heart. All of us have a life that tells a unique, complicated story and reveals a personal shaping from our quest to be released from the lie we swallow as truth… condemnation. Adopted perspectives, twitches, scars, blind spots, aversions and conclusions along the way. However beautiful or deplorable the verses we write, the views we take, the paths we travel. From this, the many layers and branches of our complexities are sprouted. Beliefs, attitudes, actions. The whole nest.

We are, complex people.

Yet, thousands of years later, chapters into humanity’s stumble-filled stewarding of life. A biblical writer Paul to a younger man Timothy, re-articulates the Spirit. Seeing underneath humanity’s blunder of intricate cuts, knots, and lose ends fabricated to mend the wounds of a soul believed to be shamed. God still deems our essence as… good. Always has been, always will be… good. After all the religious patches and patchwork, it is still… all good.

Sin was never who we are, it’s always been the fruit of a heart believed to be forever rooted in unworthiness and its garments of guilt and shame. Condemnation’s great deception, that we are lacking life, not loaded with it. Bad seed, not good.

No matter the different complexities, for good or evil, this Serpent-shame has wrought, the root essence of every person that was, is, or will ever be… is goodness.

Until Grace.

Grace, the only cure for a condemned heart.

Grace, the true catalyst for all this is right.

Grace, the maker of our new-creation identities.

Grace, the final triumph, resurrecting us beyond goodness.

Completely whole, in-condemnable in Him. At the cross, one and done. All finished, for all. Grace upon Grace!

This is not my evaluation, it is in fact the Christ’s re-creation. It is His mark, it is His stamp, it is His declaration. No matter how reckless, evil, eschew, or vile our wrestle from condemnation’s pursuit becomes us. All is still… good. Not just good… but now whole, pure, blemish free. Fully human, fully holy.

This is our mutual humanity. No one excluded.

This is our human story. All included.

The Finisher calls out, “All is Grace, and all are whole in Me.”

Even in full awareness and rest in this Jesus-proclamation. Realizing there is no longer any hold from which to wrestle out. The Tempter still tempts, to crawl back under Law, to bite the old bluff, to weave a curtain already removed, to escape from that which one is are already free. Ancient and modern messages, all to sew condemnation’s bitter seed anew.

This, we must remember.

It’s not where our humanity meets another human that sparks fly, it’s where our complexities collide. You say “Tomato” I say “Tamato.” You road is traveling here, my road is traveling there. Your understanding says this, my understanding doesn’t say that. Your coping looks likes this, my run from coping looks like that. Behind every person’s eyes is a story, that if they told you, would break your heart. We are all just trying, our best. To come out, stay out, from under… condemnation.

We are all human, and complex in being so.

Where that complexity needs Grace who can always be for sure, all we know is Grace is sufficient for all our complexities. In the tapestry we spin, we all need Grace.

No more, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” We love others, as them, not just towards them.

This, we must remember.

Pushing out from condemnation’s relentless entanglement. Standing watch from being dragged back into the web of lies from which Truth has set us free. This is a shared story, from which we all read and must read others.

That Jesus died for all, we must stand with all… in all our complexities.

Not that I agree with all in mind, action, or spirit. But agreeing with Jesus. His evaluation of all is sufficient for my all.

I may not be able to stand you at times, but I am going stand with you for all time, as a fellow human being, in all of our complexity, God-imaged by our Creator, and included in Jesus and His finished work. Eternally loved, valued, and embraced in Christ. Free to be, who we are… human. In all our complexity.

Cutting through, with the sword of Grace that our differences might give way to our common goodness; not just goodness, but wholeness. That my insecurities may no longer eclipse my view of your God-imaged essence. That my ignorance of your story might give way to my standing under it, and even with it.

I may not be able, at times, to stand your theology, behaviors, attitudes, decisions, even telling you so, the same. But I will stand with you, nonetheless, even if you should walk away.

That I agree with your story, is not a requirement. That you have a story, is reason enough.

This is the Jesus call, for all of us… standing with people, particular the ones, we can’t stand.

Grace wins, yet again.

People who Adopt

Just days ago, we arrived home from China adopting our second little girl from Xiamen, China. We have two biological children, and now two, adopted special needs children.

During these two trips to China and our experience within the adoption community, we have grown to know many adoptive families and individuals.  People who know me, know that I like to study people. It’s a hard thing for me to turn off, even while spending 39 hours flying, two weeks traveling, and experiencing the whole emotional and physical process of international adoption.

Over the course of time, I have come to discern that there are several commonalities among people who adopt, many of which contradict myths about adoption.  Here is what I have observed…

People who adopt…

1) have a sense of calling to adopt. And most have a spiritual sense of calling from God.  They are not merely adopting to “have” a child, but believe God has given them a child through adoption. They don’t just believe that are saving a life, they believe that God has given them a life to take care of that is no different from a biological child. Yes, perhaps for those with an inability to have biological children, this reality was an influencing factor, but their sense of calling far exceeds any physical limitation’s influence to have children.

2) see adoption as a blessing.  For them, the emphasis is not on what they are doing or giving to their child, but rather a humble awareness of the blessing they have been given through the honor of adoption. They don’t see their adoptive children as a burden nor their adoption as a heroic act, but rather a gift from God. Do they believe or feel that’s it’s an easy endeavor? Not at all. People who adopt are often very realistic, but whatever challenges there are, the sense of being blessed through adoption always prevails.

3) are frugal with resources.  One might think that people who adopt, especially internationally must be loaded with cash. This is often not the case. Is adoption expensive? You bet! But many have worked very hard to raise the monies needed, whether through fundraising, savings, or connecting with benefactors. In fact, I have never met another adoptive family who was just wealthy and was simply adopting because they were financially able to do so. Many people wait months and years, working hard to exhaust every possible financial resource to make things happen, even going in dept to do so. People who adopt are normal looking and feel that adoption is “normal.” They are not fancy, but frugal.

4) have a deep sense of family. People who adopt see parenting as a top priority and even a calling. These are dedicated, family people. Not that people who don’t adopt, aren’t. But rather that people who adopt, are. I have never met an adoptive family what wasn’t all about being great parents and making family a top priority in their lives.

5) are compassionate and determined.  Adoption is not for the callous of heart nor the faint of heart. Adoption is hard work, requiring great determination, patience, and flexibility.  The adoptive families we have met are compassionate and determined to the highest degree. These are people who rarely take “no’ for an answer and would give their lives to defend, honor, and stand for their children, especially those who adopt special needs children.  They are strong people where strength is needed, and soft people, where softness is needed.  They see children through a lens some do not, and those that adopt special needs children do so out of a special compassion, calling, ability, and determination.  They do not see having this lens as being better than others, but rather as having a special responsibility.

6) are human. They cry, laugh, make mistakes, have personalities, and have hopes like everyone else. They are not perfect, nor declare so. They are not better than others, nor less than others. They are human, called and gifted for adoption. They inspire those around them, waving the banner and doing their part for the orphaned of our world.

We are deeply honored to know adoptive families and that God has called us to be one.

What would you add to this list? 

 

 

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