Tag: punishment

No, Christian, I’m Not Your Spiritual Bitch

I wonder if you can truly handle what’s on my mind. You’re not going to like it, I suspect, which is probably why I never give it full flight—at least, until now. Honestly, I just can’t shackle the voice in my soul any longer. Neither can I expect you to reconsider your ways if I’m not forthright with their true effect upon my life—however brutal these words might be perceived.

You believe it’s your job to change me, to partner with God to lead me to repent of my sins, surrender my life, and follow the Jesus of your understanding. In your mind, if your divine tag team efforts with the Father don’t work, my eternal destiny could be one of hellfire and forever torment. With such a daunting possibility at the forefront of your beliefs, I appreciate your concern and respect your efforts.

Yet, underneath and far beyond that, it seems you’re pridefully convinced that it’s your special responsibility to point me to the towering endless ladder of your customized, “to do” and “not to do” steps. If my careful ascension isn’t forthcoming and certain, in your mind, I’ll never be successful at activating the neon “Genuine Christian” sign you have conveniently dangling from the top—all to my sure demise and doom. Measuring up and fitting in are of the highest importance. No area of my life seems off limits to your inspection, assessment, and admonition. In the end, it feels like I have become, for you, some kind of Chia Pet-for-Jesus, where you’re hell-bent on making it your personal project to grow me into a “fully devoted follower of Christ” that, in reality, actually looks mostly like you. Oh, the horror that will ensue if I fail to come into compliance and therefore reap the consequence of your rejection.    

Still, I’m going to assume that your intentions are met with a goodness in your heart. Yet, all the same, I’m not so ignorant to be devoid of the awareness that some of the greatest of evils have started from the good intentions of people who feel spiritually justified in their actions—especially Christians. In fact, if I’m honest, more so than not, your efforts to save and sanctify me, no matter how well intended, leave me feeling thoroughly defaced as a human being, raped of dignity, condemned unfairly, and judged highly hypocritically. How could that ever be the work of Jesus?

That’s why today is the day of my emancipation.

I mean no disrespect nor lack of love in saying so, but I’m finally breaking free from your apparent determination to convince me that my future and my worth are somehow tied to your spiritual opinion, discernment, evaluation, counsel, influence, and religion. I’m pushing past the seemingly required belief that God is specifically using you to save me from Himself and all that He will do to me if I don’t love Him back in return; of course, with compliance to all your specifics. I’m breaking the chains of, what feels like, your continually condescending glare into my soul that clearly sees me as an inferior person who needs your intervention, lest I perish and waste my life.  

Why such resistance and seeming rebellion?

Because the mind of Christ within me has overridden your mind that’s trying to conform me. With heaping helpings of Grace overflowing, He has convinced me of perhaps the most important and liberating revelation of all, “I’m not your spiritual bitch.”

I’m not a misprint in need of your correction. I’m not a floundering vessel requiring your rescue. I’m not a lost cause simply absent of your assistance. I’m not a notch on your belt to appease your quest to earn favor with your deity.

I’m not a blemish the requires your erasing. I’m not a vote deserving of your hacking. I’m not a shame that needs your permission to be unashamed. I’m not a sinner in need of your salvation. I’m not a question mark that needs your answer. I’m not a disease that needs your cure. I’m not a stronghold that requires the strength of your religious prescriptions. And most of all, I’m not an inferior human being whose hope lies within your privilege.

No, I’m a beloved child of God—not by your doing, approval, or securing, but by His.

In fact, here’s what I’ve discovered in my awakening to Love and Grace, yours is not a position from which you should have any position in my life, anyways—only Jesus.  

Besides, the God I know, who lives and dwells within me, the One with whom I have full communion unconditionally, would never use hurtful, selfish, inhumane tactics postured from religious pride in order to bring about goodness in me and from me.

So, you can stop pretending I’m your patient and yours is a medicine I need taking. You can stop putting Laws where there are none, and conditions where there never have been. You can stop pimping God as punishing, the Bible as perfect, and your interpretations as exclusively authoritative. You can stop touting your spiritual gymnastics, spiritual navel gazing, and highfalutin exegesis. God’s not impressed and I’m no longer listening.  

Why?

Because…

I’m not your spiritual bitch.

And neither is He.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

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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.

No, Christian, God Doesn’t Send Hurricanes

I imagine that nothing (not even sin) frustrates God more than when people misrepresent His heart and ways—the copious amounts of time He must spend cringing at every negative dot we connect to Him.

In fact, it’s a telling gaze into the true essence of one’s faith when their default setting for filling in the blanks of God’s movement in the lives of people is always bent towards concluding that a vengeful god of retribution and punishment must surely be working behind the scenes. When a hurricane brings devastation, God is quickly deemed to be the angry white-bearded captain at the helm steering a course of divine retribution. When a child dies from cancer, God is quickly suspected as working directly and intentionally to teach a lesson or bring about some kind of better future that could not have been rendered without this divine intervention—as twisted and evil as that would surely be.

It’s high time we grow past anchoring our faith to the limited revelation of Biblical writers who personified God as the author of atrocious events and occurrences in which He surely had no part or influence. In fact, we Christians would do well to stop echoing the popular pre-packaged message of modern Christianity that flippantly declares, “God is in control.” This oversimplified sentiment, though perhaps well intentioned, falls desperately flat in the heart and mind of good thinking people who refuse to believe in a god who would author evil. In fact, God surely paces the halls of heaven in dire disgust with every characterization and conclusion that connects His fingers with the misfortunes of others.

Truth be told, it’s we who desire to be in control, not God.

It’s the religious spirit we have fornicated that gives birth to such distorted images of the Father and His ways.

It’s we who would wield such destruction in the lives of those we deem to be wayward while hoping to spiritually justify it all.

For God is the author of freedom, not the orchestrator pulling the strings of disaster.

She is Love, not the leader of tragedy.

She is Grace, not the bestower of punishment.

In fact, if you find that God always seems to be the enemy of your enemies and working calamity into the lives of the very same people your faith stands against, chances are, you have raped Jesus into a missile of your own religious targeting system. So much, that when tragedy and hardship come to those you believe to be in violation of God’s will, He is quickly deemed as being just, holy, and a clear ally working directly on behalf of your faith. Yet, when difficulty and disaster come to your doorstep or those aligned with your creeds, God is suddenly personified as being mysterious and beyond ones capacity to fully understand.

These diabolical convenient conclusions smell of a person desiring to spiritual justify hate and harm, and use God to manipulate and control others.

The truth is, God uses hurricanes to send a message of judgement as much as He sends the LGBTQ community to conservative Evangelical churches to find Jesus—He doesn’t. Better than that, Jesus is in hurricanes as much as He is in right wing Christianity—He isn’t.

In fact, every time you boastfully declare that God sends hurricanes (or any other destruction) you expose the deep dark desire within you to turn God into a divine bully—the image of one just like you.

You may desire to see punishment and misfortune come into the lives of those you deem to be the enemy—if only you were in control to make it a sure reality. But since you are not, you therefore find an evil solace in demonizing God into a deity that is not only in contriving control of everything, but works destruction and difficulty into people’s lives in ways that you can spiritual justify and support while cowardly thrusting the blame on Him.

No, Christian, God doesn’t send hurricanes.

No, He sent His Son to save us all from believing He ever would.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Why We Should All Be Thanking Mark Driscoll

The story of Mark Driscoll is like an onion, with every layer that unfolds the eyes can’t help but burn to tears —sadness, frustration, astonishment, disgust, empathy, a full range of emotions. What he has done, said, and represented at times is nothing less than chilling. Sexism, misogyny, blatant bully-leadership, abuse of ministry funds, bigotry, not to mention the Evangelical family secret… hyper-Calvinism. One time, describing America as a “pussified nation” dominated by feminists and “chickified dudes.” One face-palm after another.

As you’ve probably read, Mark took a very short time away from ministry after a scandalous exit and ultimate resignation from Mars Hill Church. Many of his supporters and ministry partners, running full throttle for the exit signs. During that season, in the minds of most, his choices and actions didn’t demonstrate a genuine process of humbling and change. At best, it’s a mixed review. Now, months later, he’s back at it, starting a new church.

Where some might want me to attack Mark and kick him to the curb, I can’t. Furthermore, it’s not my place. Despite the darkness of his deeds, the destruction wrought from his ego, He’s a fellow human being. We all make mistakes and lose our way. The Grace that is sufficient for me, I am sure is more than sufficient for him. If Mark should be sentenced to a spiritual life of stacking pins in a bowling alley, then so should I, and so should you. Grace is the great equalizer, putting us all on the same playing field and on the same team. We all need Grace, equally. None are better, only different.

But that didn’t stop Jesus from staring down evil, addressing it as so. The truth is, we have a problem. A huge zit on the face of our modern church-world. On the surface, it looks like “pastoral celebrity”—not just pastors, but anyone building a personal kingdom. Bloggers, leaders, speakers, artists, authors, all candidates for being seduced into this horror show. What are pedaled as visionary dreams and difference-makers, are schemes and attention-takers, all achieving one radar averting goal…the validation-creating, insecurity-healing, and significance-gaining of the individual leading the show. It all looks so spiritual, but really so selfish, when one sees what’s below.

To be sure, there are many within our Christian community who receive the label of “celebrity.” And though not perfect, they are wearing it well. Their extensive reach, success, and large followings weren’t sought out, don’t rule their hearts, and they aren’t exploiting their platform, rather humbly using it for good. What is a very difficult walk, they are walking very well.

Sadly, in the sea of spiritual celebrity, this is not the norm.

Yet, the numerous Mark Driscolls of our Christianity aren’t the real problem, it’s our Christian culture that seeds and enables their existence. The illness we have become, is what gives birth to the reality of their formation. The x-ray is on the light board, we are the disease, and they, a mere symptom, a surface manifestation. Spiritually engineered from the incubator of our Christian culture.

In fact, the truth is, we should all be thanking Mark Driscoll. His story is the alarm that should be grabbing us by the ears, the stoplight that should be slamming our breaks. The fever, the itchy red rash that calls us to the doctor, realizing there is a much deeper problem at stake. And maybe, just maybe, before it’s too late, we’d embrace a cure before our cancer overtakes.

Problem is, we are so far gone. Color blind for sure. What is fire-engine red, begging us to halt, we see as grass-growing green, signaling God’s favor to press through. Intoxicated by the sound of our own Christianity.

As hard as it is to hear, the diagnosis is clear. We are the “something” going on behind the person these people become. Get out your pen and paper, we owe not our condemnation, but our apology for the creation of each and every one.

For we are the Christians who see Church as primarily where Jesus exists and works. It’s all about church. Church, church, and more church. Not just church, but gatherings, groups, conferences, concerts, followings of people. The larger the crowd, the more legitimate the ministry, the greater blessings of the Savior.

For us, the goal and sum of the Christian life is church, cross-topped corrals of church-people pursuing churchy things, as different as some may seem. Organize it, maintain it, whatever it takes to keep it going. And if church isn’t for you, something is wrong with you. Damaged goods, subtly not one of us. You’re not a true leader until you are a church leader. The big dance, where big leaders go.

We are the Christians, who equate spiritual maturity, skill, and evidence of God’s favor with followers, buildings, baptisms, books, speaking schedules, blog “hits,”and “likes” on Facebook. God must be doing something great, a special work is surely at play. Look at all the subscribers, the listeners, group members, all the people, it can’t possibly be a charade. Look at those buildings, so modern and easy, as far as the eye can see. Look at how busy, how in demand. Wow, how anointed they must be. 10k followers on Twitter, the number they follow, only 10, surely that’s the mark of Christ within. Superstars of Jesus, rockstar prophets for our day. Dare I say, if Hitler lived among us, he’d have the very same. Tons of followers, “hits”, and “likes” on Facebook. Branded to the nines, slick social media presence, lots of lipstick to hide behind.

Territory, market, fan-base, all must be preserved. The celebrity lunch table, exclusive to the cool dudes. Whatever it takes to get to the next level, step on you if they must. Platform creation, platform preservation, platform elevation, at all costs. We are truly in the age of franchised ministry, and we the spiritual consumers who drive it, and make it breathe.

We are the Christians who believe the goal of the Christian life is to be successful for Jesus through personal performance that creates appeal. Be all you can be, Jesus and me. Do more, become more, live the Christian dream. Prosperity, happiness, pleated and ironed, the spiritual Hollywood scene. We, the narcissists on our personal quest for Jesus to show us how to perform at our personal best. Enough is never enough. Give me more to do, a way to overcome, something to convince me that I am worthy to be loved. Tell me it’s reachable, something Jesus and I can achieve. Inspire me with the Kool-aid, I’ll drink anything for a remedy. Keep me thirsty, keep me hungry, I’m addicted to the hope, that within me and Jesus, our efforts combined, I can become whole.

We are the Christians who believe it’s best to get your spiritual growth spoon-fed through like-minded, public figures you can adore. Just give me something I can worship, fabricated into an idol of my own ideals. I know about Jesus, but furnish me something real, something for the in between. We all need a savior when the Savior is not enough. Identity, worth, and significance are best measured by spiritual accomplishment. So surely, my side-kick savior has the goods that I need, simply look at all that they have achieved. Besides, leadership is best validated by the creation of a personal brand that gains and keeps spiritual consumers. When I see this, it’s gotta be the trough for which God wants me to eat. Surely, He doesn’t want me thinking on my own.

No wonder there are so many Mark Driscolls, this is who we have become. Church-addicted, consumer-minded, performance-driven, platform-worshipping, appearance-seduced, franchise-focused, me-serving, success-intoxicated, personal kingdom-building Christians who drop their jaws in surprise and disgust when all that we are gets super-sized and personified by some among us, for all to see in public light.

Yet Jesus chose purpose over celebrity, message over crowds, the cross over appeal, commissioning over franchising, serving over being served, Grace over performance, and sacrifice over personal gain.

There will always be Mark Driscolls among us, until Jesus becomes our game.

We should all be thanking Mark Driscoll for showing us that for which we should be ashamed.

Reverse God Paranoia

There is so much in life that can entice our mind into negative levels of thinking.  In fact, we often fill in the blanks of our experiences and circumstances with the worst possible conclusions we could imagine, or at least negative ones. When we wonder about what other people are thinking, we predominantly fill in the blanks with a dark conclusion. When we envision the outcomes of challenges we face, we imagine the worst.  And, when it comes to relationships, we often assume a less than positive discernment of motives or explanation for behaviors.  Unfortunately, most of us tend to gravitate to the negative in our thinking.

Paranoia, it will destroy ya!” -The Kinks

In basic terms, paranoia deals with strong fears of doom, harm, or destruction based on perceived realities, many of which are unlikely, uncontrollable, and/or completely imagined or exaggerated for one reason or another.  To be honest, we all dabble in a bit of paranoia from time to time, believing that perceived or exaggerated realities (imagined or otherwise) are seeking to harm us.

Unfortunately, many people have developed a kind of God paranoia. Deep down, though we believe God love us, there is a part of Him we are not sure we can trust. Sometimes He is pursuing our good, but if we take a wrong turn, we fear He may just start pursuing our harm. Or, at least, withhold His favor, presence, and blessing.  In fact, when things start going wrong or falling a part in our lives we start to wonder, “maybe God is evening the score, maybe He is punishing me?”  How many times have you wondered that? Unfortunately, segments of Christianity and “Church” have not helped, but rather have pimped out a false Gospel that has brainwashed populations of Christians with a kind of “God Paranoia.”

The true Gospel, however is in fact designed to give us “Reverse God Paranoia.” Instead of fearfully believing God may, at times, be out to keep us from too much good, or even bring us punishment, we rather should believe and assume that God is always out to bless and prosper our lives. God isn’t looking for reasons to sabotage, punish, or press us down, but rather for every opportunity He can find to bless, promote, and free us. Any belief or assumption that God is punishing you is an exaggeration of an aspect of God that doesn’t even exist. God is love, that is His core essence and nature. Everything from Him comes from and is love. Does He correct? Yes. Redirect? Yes. Convict the unbeliever of their disbelief or false belief? Yes. Punish? No. Sin brings it’s own penalty, not God.

I love what Ray Edwards declares…

“I am a reverse paranoid. I believe a Force I cannot control is out to do me good.” -Ray Edwards

You have heard me say over and over again, “Right believing leads to right living” Well, let me add this, “Right believing leads to REAL living.”

The REALity is, God wakes up each day or your life with a “Ways To Bless _(your name)_” list He has been working on all night to create. He is your greatest friend, supporter, coach, provider, and encourager. When you rest in a belief of the complete goodness of God for your life, the door is opened for God to abundantly bless the socks off of you.  Always assume that He is on your side, because He is, even if it doesn’t seem that way in the moment. God is always in a good mood.  Whether you like it or not, He loves you and is feverishly working every angle to overflow your cup with moonshine concentration levels of His intoxicating goodness, favor, and blessing for your life. Never again perceive God to be punishing you, maliciously holding you back, or pulling out the rug.

Drink in the goodness of God and develop a healthy case of Reverse God Paranoia.

 

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