Tag: spiritual (Page 1 of 2)

To My Evangelical Friends and Family : I’m Sorry, I Just Can’t Reach You

I’m sorry, I just can’t reach you.

Trust me, I so wish that I could.

I get it. I truly do. You’re an Evangelical. White, conversative, and perhaps still a Trump supporter. I’ve been who you are, I was a conservative Evangelical pastor for 22 years. So, I understand completely. I’ve seen, heard, and lived it all.

But now that I’ve walked away from it, every bit of it, I guess I wonder why you haven’t too.

When I was entrenched in that system of faith, no one could pull me away. Not reason, not tragedy. Not family, friends, or even truth. I was a captive, totally submitted to the conservative Evangelical Borg. Yet, all by choice, if I’m honest.

You think I’ve lost my mind. That I’ve fallen away. To you, I’m now an enemy of sorts, a project to turn back to your beliefs and ways.

You ask, “what happened to you?” You quote the Bible at me. You hold the flames of eternal torture over my head. Silent treatments here, silent treatments there. You condemn to hell nearly everything about me, perhaps even praying for my demise. Apart from a complete return to your acceptance and approval, it seems that in your mind, there is nearly nothing worthy about me. I’m lost. A heretic. A child of the devil. A “woke,” “baby killing” reprobate.

No matter what I say, no matter how I feel. No matter the Bible verses I point to, no matter the changes in my heart that have set me free. No matter the hurt you cause, the people you isolate. No matter the suffering you create, the destruction you rationalize. No matter the science, history, or facts. No matter my patience, no matter my pleading. No matter the tears in my eyes, nor the pain in my face. Nothing seems to get through. I’m not searching for perfection, I’m just searching for some humanity.

Yet, like the orange that can’t be pulled from the tree, no matter the force, because it isn’t ripe, I can’t reach you, and to keep on trying only breaks me and emboldens you. Lord knows, I’d do anything.

So, I’m standing with the ones you reject. I’m extending the love you refuse to give. I’m embracing the God that frustrates and offends you. I’m giving voice to the ones you oppress. I’m chasing the evils of your beliefs out of the shadows.

I’m finally breathing for the first time. I’m hearing the Jesus within me for the first time. I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is thoroughly good: non-violent, inclusive, affirming, equality bringing, and unconditionally loving. I’m proclaiming good news to the poor, freedom for the imprisoned, and Light in the midst of darkness. For me, God is All and in all, inseparably and irrevocably. The Gospel in purest form. The earth is my sanctuary, humanity is my community, and love is my worship. And, that’s all I need to see, live, and believe. Finally, I’m alive and being me.

So, if I seem distant, it’s because I’m stewarding the Light within me. If I offend you, it’s because I am finally speaking. If I don’t participate in your attempts to change me, it’s because I’m at peace with who I am, and I’m finally realizing Jesus is too, and always has been.

I’m sorry, I just can’t reach you. Only an honesty from within yourself, ever can. And that is what I pray.

.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

Check out Chris’ latest book, Stupid Shit Heard In Church available on Amazon (link below)…

What people are saying:

“After reading just a few chapters, I had to schedule an appointment with my therapist, it’s that good.”

“This book is changing  the world.”

“Profound, life-changing; that says it all!”

 

A Letter From Jesus To The LGBTQ Community

I love you,

My dreams are made of you—from first light to the setting of the sun.

All that are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender—radiant shades and gleaming colors of the human tapestry—in every way, beautifully and wonderfully made. The stars, dull in comparison to your splendor.

To those special souls who bear these children, conceived by the moving of My Spirit bringing forth life—not just a life, but Light for all to see, exposing and revealing truth with every breath they breathe. Be it forever known in crystal clarity, you parent not just flesh and blood, but a cosmic awakening, pulsating from My creative majesty. Each one, a birthing from the throne so universe shaking—the mere truth of their divine being chases religious hearts out of deep-seated shadows, setting free poets and prophets of true love and Grace in waves the size of eternity. Yours is an honor bestowed, a high privilege—the threads of Mary and Joseph spooled and weaved into the adornments of your calling.

All that are gay, all that are lesbian, all that are bisexual, all that are transgender, all of every shade of heaven in between—My dreams are made of you.

You are My smile that extends as far as the east is from the west. You are the joy the Father graciously sets before My chest.

You are the laughter that can’t be contained from the depths of My belly.

You are warmth of a winter’s fire, the breeze of a summer’s shower.

You are the echo of my voice through a river of mountains. You are the stream of sheer jubilation, welling up from My eternal fountain.

You are the delight that sends Me love-drunk into the streets. You are the pulse moving through My veins with every heart beat.

Forever and ever and ever I say—My dreams are made of you.

I know the hurt, the skin melting pain, the soul stripping floggings of condemnation. When I was ridiculed and rejected by My own bigoted family—there I was thinking of you. When I cried over Jerusalem, begging to be understood and simply accepted—there I was living as you. When I was in the garden, on bended knee, begging for divine reprieve, my cup flowing over with doubts and hopelessness—there I was scared, just like you. When I was left to die on a religiously conspired cross, murdered in body, mind, and spirit, crucified to death by ignorance and hate, and even good people who remain silent and unengaged—there I was dying as you.

There has never been a time you have ever been alone.

You are not the forsaken.

You are not an abomination.

You are not a sin that needs reformation.

You owe no apology, no explanation, no verse, nor spiritual transformation.

This is your time, this is your permission, this is your affirmation, this is My decision.

Be you, be fully you—for My sake, for my Name, for my Fame throughout all the universe—be you, unashamed.

Everything I am, everything I make—everything that is of mine is forever and freely yours. You are the diamonds from which dreams are made—extravagantly, specifically, and intentionally created.

Bend your ear, release your soul, I’m shouting from the heavens—from the edge of My seat, the tip top of My heart.

Listen to the cry of My trinity, Three in One wrapped in infinity.

My dreams are made of you.

My dreams are made of you.

My dreams are made of—you.

 

Love,

Jesus  (he/him/she/her/they/them)

.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

Check out Chris’ latest book, Stupid Shit Heard In Church available on Amazon (link below)…

What people are saying:

“After reading just a few chapters, I had to schedule an appointment with my therapist, it’s that good.”

“This book is changing  the world.”

“Profound, life-changing; that says it all!”

 

Essentials For Dealing With Christian Trump-Supporters

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

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

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

Here’s some ideas that are working for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stick with that formula. Rinse and repeat. 

Listen and ask, “Help me understand…” 

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

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

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

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

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

2- Stop Talking About Jesus- 

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

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

So, instead, focus on their selfishness

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

Focus on their racism. 

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

Focus on their failure to love their neighbor as themselves

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

Focus on their hate.

Focus on their brutality.

Focus on their inhumanity

Stop talking about Jesus.

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

3- Take The Abortion Card Out Of The Game-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4- Love From A Distance- 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be you. 

Believe what you believe.

Find your voice.

Stand for the least-of-these.

Never give up, and never give in.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave. 

 

The You God : Embracing Your Own Spiritual Journey

Embracing and taking your own spiritual journey, that’s the point. Your journey is your own journey. It’s the essence of your creation. It’s everything. 

You are the You God. 

Everything you need is within you; the mind of Christ within you, the presence of Christ beside you (in full union with you, but yet fully distinct), and all around you in all things. Yes, the cosmic Christ. The universe in, beside, and all around you. There is no place where “I Am” is not. 

So much (if not all) of everything you seek, you already possess. In fact, God never intended His Word to be written on an external page, She already placed it in the depths of your heart. The Bible has never been the goal or finish. You are the goal. You are the finished. 

Jesus is the Word made flesh, and through His complete union and communion with you and the deposit of His mind with yours, so are you. You are a Word made flesh, with the potential of an ever expansive path of revelation rising up from within.

In fact, the externalization of the internal Word into a secondary/written Word (the Bible) actually leads to deep vulnerability and manipulation by the snakes of darkness. Make no mistake, it is evil that tries to entice and distract you from what you already possess within; every spiritual blessing. That’s why the dark deeds of men and women are always rationalized, at some level, by quoting from words written about God by men on pages (the Bible) deemed by them to be sacred and infallible. It’s the perfect scheme.

For God didn’t pen the Bible. He penned you. You are the You God. Taking your own spiritual journey, that’s the purpose.

Three beautiful, cosmic altering things happen when we embrace and focus on this journey…

God Speaks To Us Clearly and Identifiably

To those willing to rest, rely, and listen, God speaks clearly and identifiably to us from within.

In many instances, it is an undefinable experience that rings true to the soul. For me, in these moments, God often speaks ahead of my questions and thoughts. She knows my mind before I do, and speaks to it before I do. It is not a distorting, demanding, or taking-over experience. Instead, it is a gentle, friendly, available, and offered one. For God never insists upon Her own way, nor takes the wheel of our minds. She only assists, where assistance is allowed; never dismantling the difference between us.  

I have found, the more I am willing to rely on Her voice within, the more my journey is revealed. 

In contrast, I am amazed how many give little question to the words of men written in the Bible, given in counsel, or preached from pulpits, yet tremble with skepticism towards the capacity of people to hear God speak from her Word within with clarity, accuracy, and assurance. It is written in creation and the constructs of the soul that the guideposts for all that God is, speaks, and commands is Love. This is the litmus test for all discernment. Interesting, however, is the sure reality that a simple glance at Christian history reveals that the reading of the Bible (not the Word within) often leads us away from this cosmic truth instead of towards it. 

Yes, the soul and the conscience can be distorted and led astray from the Word within and God’s speaking to us. But this is not the root that lies within each one of us, nor can it ever be destroyed. It is eternal. True Love is clear, and pings and pierces the heart when it reaches it. 

Problems come far more from external distortions, not internal ones. Far more abuse and waywardness comes from listening and internalizing the human, external interpretations of God, not Her internal revelation, Word, and presence within.

In fact, if there is a spiritual war we must fight, it would be this one; resting in the Word within versus resting in the Bible. For in many instances, they are incompatible and lead us in opposite directions.

We Rest In His Presence Within

When I focus on embracing and taking my own spiritual journey, I grow in my capacity to rest in the Comforter within. His words increasingly overshadow any others. When they speak words of assurance from within in contrast to the anxiety around me, I can better rest in them instead of panicking from what I fear with my eyes, thoughts, and fears. 

In this way, His words become a foundation for the fielding of all others. No, not leading us down a path of denial, but instead, wrapping our hearts and anchoring our emotions upon the spiritual journey we are taking. A journey with the Comforter; a journey with the One who knows all things, sees all things, and whose future is in full communion with yours. No thing, no person, and no reality is more connected to your journey than God. The more we embrace our journey, the more we embrace God.

Therefore, when we hear in our depths Her speaking, “It’s going to be o.k,” we can learn to trust those words to the capacity they actually alter our emotions and perspective.  

For no other voice, opinion, person, or plan is in full communion and union with you and your spiritual journey, only God. This is where our rest belongs and best occurs.  Faith is not believing in something outside of you, beyond you, separate from you, ahead of you, requiring of you, or distant from you. Instead, it is resting in all that is beside you, within you, in mind with you, in communion with you, all around you, in Love with you, and inseparable from you—Jesus.

Make no mistake and live not in denial, clinical depression and anxiety are real things that can require clinical solutions. Yet, we should never underestimate the power of resting in the presence of the Comforter within to help lead us to clearer thoughts and the embrace of comforting realities in contrast to the irrationalities that can tractor beam our thoughts and emotions. 

We Need Not Compare Nor Explain, We only Love

Sadly, we live in a world of comparisons. Not just that, but also in a world of explanations. Often times, we want everyone else’s journey but our own. What they have seems so much better than what we have. And, at times, we feel the need to give explanations to why certain things happen in other people’s journey. We want to give answers and reasons, often out of the goodness of our hearts. And perhaps even more so, we can even feel the desire to have explanations to what’s happening in our own journey, especially when we compare them to what’s happening for other people in their journey. 

During a recent health emergency, I asked the Jesus within, “With so many people who don’t get good news in times of trauma, why me?” His sensed response… 

“This is your journey. Love does not require to understand another’s journey, nor compare it. Love comforts, celebrates, mourns, uplifts, and empowers the journey of others, but it does not seek to explain nor judge the journey of others. Love, peace, and faith do not flow from understanding, nor do they always create it. Instead, they free us to fully walk our own journey, and fully walk with others in theirs.”

When we embrace and take our own spiritual journey, we grow in our capacity to resist the need (and demands) to explain our lives and choices. This is our unique and exclusive journey with and as the divine. We need only compare ourselves and our lives to the Love that lives within and guides our journey. This is the true freedom we have in Christ who is in, with, besides, and under us all and all things. Without the debilitating gravity of comparisons and explanations, we can increasingly love others and ourselves without restraint, requirements, nor conditions. We love because we are love; not to appease, benefit, explain, compare, control, nor conform. 

Our capacity to truly love rests in our willingness to embrace and take our own spiritual journey; a journey that is explanation and comparison proof.

For you are the You God. 

Now, embrace it.

Take your own spiritual journey.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave. 

Maybe, Just Maybe, If You’d Stop Quoting The Bible At Me

I get it, you’re passionate about your beliefs—that’s highly admirable.

Much of what you hold to be true and the framework of your worldview are founded upon your understandings of the Scriptures.

For you, the Bible is the perfect Word of God without any mixture of error, and your interpretation of it is believed to be grounded in ultimate truth, faithful scholarship, and divine discernment. In response to a world deemed to be in serious moral and spiritual decline, you see the Bible serving as an anchor for Godliness and the transformation of our planet. In your mind and heart you genuinely conclude, if more people believed like you and subscribed to your biblical understandings, it would be an instant upgrade to their life and a sure improvement to the world at large.

Therefore, when you the quote the Scriptures, your desires are most assuredly noble and good-hearted. No one can deny your commitment, resolve, and tenacity towards your faith, the Bible, and a desire to make a difference.

Yet, perhaps what you don’t realize is how you come across in your use of the Scriptures and some of the messages you’re sending in doing so—intended or not.

When you quote the Bible at me, it feels like you care more about winning an argument than winning my heart. In fact, sometimes it seems like you’re inspired most by the prospect of somehow putting me in my place—pacing for the opportunity to engage in debate. With every verse you position to convict, condemn, and admonish, apparently you understand the Bible to be “useful in teaching and correcting” the way a tightly wound parent might deem a paddle to be useful in painfully punishing their child—any love you may intend to communicate is severely lost in translation. In fact, as much as I may desire to conclude otherwise, with every proof text and citing of Scriptural support, it feels like the Bible has become for you, less of a mirror in which to examine yourself, and more of a missile to launch at others. Maybe, just maybe, if you’d stop quoting the Bible at me, I’d actually start believing you might truly want to know me, understand me, and even love me.

When you quote the Bible at me, it makes me wonder if you really know what you believe. I mean no disrespect, but at times, the way the Scriptures roll off your tongue so automatically and instantly, it feels a bit pre-packaged and cut and pasted—like you haven’t taken the journey of authentic believing. The memorization of verses takes only the efforts of our brain and can be a deceptive spiritual veil to an empty life. Meditation requires the soul searching of the heart and personally encountering Jesus. My sense is that people who truly know Him, genuinely wrestle with their faith, and are treading deep into the Bible, spend far less time in need of quoting it to others and using it to justify their every belief. For the mind of Christ within them has taken the lead and what they believe is far less a product of simply the Bible saying so, but much more that Jesus has said so in their Spirit. Maybe, just maybe, if you’d stop quoting the Bible at me, I’d be far more inclined to consider that you’re actually speaking from that which Jesus has authentically revealed to you and what He might truly desire to say.

When you quote the Bible at me, I get the sense that you believe to know all the answers. Sometimes, it’s even hard to get a word in edgewise. It feels like no matter what I say, somehow I’m always off the mark or completely wrong all together. For every thought I have, you seem to have a Bible verse cocked, loaded, and ready to counter it. All of which leaves me wondering, if you have all the answers already, why do you position yourself as desiring conversation? Perhaps, you’re hoping to change my mind, or simply enjoy hearing the sound of your own. Either way, the more you appear to have all the answers, the more I become convinced you probably don’t. Maybe, just maybe, if you’d stop quoting the Bible at me, I’d hear the sounds of your listening and learning instead of the chalkboard screeching nails of presumptuousness.

When you quote the Bible at me, it smells of religion, not revelation. No, God never changes, but what He reveals of Himself and how He reveals Himself certainly does. Yet, with nearly every verse you quote it feels like you are desperately trying to protect and prosper the religious spirit and your long-held beliefs, instead of exuding a humility and openness to encounter fresh revelation. In fact, if I’m honest, it comes across at times as if you’re afraid of what God might reveal. It’s as if the Bible has become for you, less of a catalyst to encountering Jesus, and more of replacement for Him. All of which leaves me wondering, if God desired to grow you beyond your current Scriptural understandings and interpretations, would He even be able to do so? Maybe, just maybe, if you’d stop quoting the Bible at me, I’d be far more inclined to believe you possess the capacity for divine discernment and the journey needed for wisdom.

When you quote the Bible at me, I feel like a project. At times, the way you use the Scriptures, it seems like your ultimate goal is my conversion, conformity, and compliance to your beliefs and biblical interpretations. If I have a change of mind or repent of my erring ways in response to your Scriptural interventions, a rousing moment of high-fives with your fellow Christians is surely just around the corner. You “caught’ me, “won” me, or “discipled” me into your fold, and now I’m yet another “catch” to be mounted on your spiritual mantel. I mean no disrespect in saying so, but it feels like the way you use the Bible is more like a cattle prod than a stable, and I, more of a project than a person. Maybe, just maybe, if you’d stop quoting the Bible at me, I’d be far more willing to open the gates and consider that you have a genuine care for me and my best interests.

When you quote the Bible at me, I wonder what you’re trying to hide. Maybe it’s just me, but I have found, those who are constantly quoting the Bible with proof texts, debates, and scriptural arguments are often the ones concealing deep levels of spiritual immaturity, doubts, duplicity, and even carnality. In fact, Satan is described as knowing the Scriptures quite well all while completely missing the heart of Jesus—obviously. The more you quote the Bible at me, the more I begin to consider, maybe this is all just a big show of biblical smoke and mirrors concealing a cowardly wizard hiding behind a leather-bound name-engraved curtain. Maybe, just maybe, if you’d stop quoting the Bible at me, I’d feel a lot more comfortable in extending trust, respect, and credibility.

When you quote the Bible at me, it feels like you’re just another one of “them.” You know, those Pharisee types that Jesus loved, but aggressively challenged. At every turn, they were using their understanding of the Scriptures for the condemnation of others and the justifying and puffing up of themselves. In one place, Jesus spoke of spitting repugnant people like this out of His mouth, and quite honestly I don’t blame Him. Sometimes, the way you quote the Bible at me, it makes me want to vomit too—if only a simple right cheek sneak would do. For it all comes across so pretentiously, my entire being can’t help but want to expel it.

When Jesus referenced the Bible, He did so primarily to reframe it and reinterpret it through the lens of Grace, love, and Himself.

I’m no spiritual giant, but I have a hunch we would do well to follow His example.

Maybe, just maybe, if you’d stop quoting the Bible at me, I would respect you all the more, have a greater desire to give serious consideration to your claims and creeds, and be far more apt to conclude that Jesus is truly working in and through you.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

A Pastor’s Desperate Plea To Justin Bieber

Justin, I don’t know you and you don’t know me.

We have never met, and I certainly claim no rights to bend your ear nor even expect you to read or consider these words.

Our worlds are completely different, yet we do share one very important thing—exposure to modern Evangelical Christianity.

For me, I became a conservative Evangelical pastor early in my career, leading contemporary churches for nearly 20 years. I certainly don’t believe to know your spiritual journey or dare to define it, but from what I have seen and read, it seems you are headed towards a similar path. I admire your love for Jesus and your willingness to go the distance with your faith. Your courage, transformation, and authenticity are clearly apparent.

Yet Justin, I also know all too well the seductive evils of much of modern Evangelical Christianity—often cleverly concealed. I wasted so much of my life and ministry being duped and deceived chasing after the Evangelical dream, and now I pray this nightmare doesn’t become your story too.

At first, it feels like life, only to suffocate you later. No matter how well branded, produced, savvy, and culturally relevant it all seems up front, the basic tenets of much of Evangelical Christianity are shrouded in deceptive darkness. Underneath all the spiritual lipstick, God is diabolically portrayed as loving humanity while at the same time holding them over eternally consequential conditions—love Him back in return in all the prescribed ways or else suffer forever in a torturous hell. Jesus is personified as the Son who dies at the hands of a wrathful Father who requires His death in order to have the power to forgive. The Bible is reduced to a weapon used to condemn, label, burden, and lift one’s self over others. People are labeled as inherently depraved and evil sinners in need of fixing. The world is seen as “lost” and in need of saving through Evangelical ideology. The Christian life is presented as a never ending list of “to do’s” and sin management. And, the overall mission is to ultimately lead people to believe, think, and act like you—assimilated into the Evangelical Borg of conformity. Look behind the curtain, turn down the volume of all the smoke and mirrors—there’s a cowardice self-serving faith pulling the strings. Discrimination, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, nationalism, self-righteousness, and elitism are all lurking in the wings—no matter how modernly packaged.

Justin, I promise you, though you may not see it now, so much of what modern Evangelicalism has done with Christianity has left it looking and acting almost nothing like Jesus. For God is pure Love—not fine-printed conditions, Jesus is Grace—not condemnation nor punishment. The Gospel is peace—not fear pimped as faith, people are good—not intrinsically evil. The Bible is a catalyst—not a tool for judgement, and Jesus didn’t die at the hands of an angry vengeful God, but rather to keep us from a life of believing He is—angry and vengeful.

When it is was recently reported that perhaps you are now seeking to start a church, my heart gasped in fear that was a sure sign you had been tractor-beamed by the Death Star that is conservative Evangelical Christianity. With genuine concern, I wondered if the performance-driven, consumeristic, church-franchising, and personal empire-building allures and priorities of much of modern Evangelical Christianity had cast their spell upon you.

Justin, I beg of you, what the world needs now is not another church or celebrity Evangelical Christian. No, what the world needs now are authentic Jesus loving people rested in Grace who see the planet as their sanctuary and loving people unconditionally as their worship service—period, full stop. You being you, just as you are, is more than enough—as is, wherever that is. Whatever guilt, regret, or shame perhaps there once was in your heart, the pursuit of becoming something “big” for Jesus will only leave you with emptiness and disillusionment—I promise. In truth, much of Evangelical Christianity is so desperate, selfish, and insecure, many can’t help themselves at the thought of an icon such as you joining their team and buying into their flailing ideology.

Yet, truth be told, I see so much more Jesus in you peeing in a mop bucket yelling profanities at Bill Clinton than I could ever see in you becoming another mega-church pastor or famous Evangelical Christian. For Jesus is found so much more in the people, circumstances, and events the religious least expect or approve. Please know this, and know it for sure, God has been working in and through you all along, and now you’re simply awakening to it.

I beg you Justin, don’t let them steal, kill, and destroy what Jesus has always been doing in and through you by thinking it now needs the labels and looks of “Christian,” “church,” and “ministry.” Don’t sell your soul, abandon your authenticity, or surrender yourself to the blood-sucking monster that is much of Evangelical Christianity. You are the revival God is bringing to the world—not because of your gifts, celebrity, or new found faith in Jesus. Rather, simply because you are you—whole, holy, and God-imaged as is.

Justin, at the end of the day, for what it’s worth my sense is this, “My Jesus don’t like much of modern Evangelical Christianity, and He likes everyone.”

Take a deep breath, stay on course, don’t shed your skin or walk your soul to the plank overlooking Evangelical waters—you’re already the person and living the life God has for you. For it’s never been about your performance, it’s always been about His.

Thanks for listening.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Let’s All Just Start, By Trying To Be Christians Who Give A F**k

You’re right.

I did it—I dropped the “f-bomb.”

I could have easily chosen a different word.

Maybe “flip,” or “damn,” or “crap” of “rats” or even “shit.”

But I didn’t. Why?

Because, none of those forced me out onto the ledge of your potential rejection, shaming, and condemnation in quite the same way.

Perhaps like never before, in consideration of all the factors, I have dripped the sweat, counted the cost, and looked square into the face of your disapproval, knowing for sure the cataclysmic series of dominoes that could fall in response to this one article. In fact, in some ways, I could be, I surely am—risking it all. One word, one simple word, could set into motion a tsunami of distancing, disassociation, and abandonment from which there could be little to no recovery or return.

It’s all so sad, isn’t it? No, flat out disturbing. Not only how quick we are to summon people onto the plank of our disapproval, but how little pressure it takes for us to buckle under another’s.

Above all else, it seems we Christians have become cowardly wimpy people who care most about ourselves, vigilantly shielding our lives from what we fear the most—rejection, the true kryptonite of our faith living. We’re so married to perceptions, our platforms, reputations, and the god of approval. When it’s time to take a stand, travel uncharted waters, speak fiery light to the darkness, and defend the oppressed—when it’s all said and done, we’re most concerned about perceptions and their personally felt consequence.

Instead of counting the enormous cost of being silent, complacent, disengaged, blindly compliant, and politically correct, we’re addicted to the personal ramifications of truly giving a damn no matter what. So many of us simply refuse to be bothered outside the comfort of our pristine black-and-white pre-packaged starch-pressed Americanized Christian lives. When push comes to shove and we are cornered into our moment of truth—our followings, relationships, ministries, popularity, image, comforts, acceptance, and approval reveal themselves to be the true gods we worship. As Jesus leads us onto the path of becoming the Good Samaritans of our day, thwarting the countless religious crucifixions of the God-imaged, and facing the evil religious systems of much of modern Christianity—our withheld actions, tempered empathy, and shrinking back speak to the true confession of our heart. “Sorry Jesus, when it’s all said and done and it matters most, I just don’t give a f**k. My life, my stability, and all that I have and built, is just too important to risk. I won’t say what truly needs to be said, I won’t do what truly needs to be done, and I won’t pay the price of what it would most certainly cost. Oh yes, I love you Jesus and all people—but I’m sorry, not that much.”

And so I ask, with all due respect. If you’re uncomfortable with the title of this article, just wait until you’re confronted with these questions.

Whose life, besides yours, will finally become important enough to be worthy of your unrestricted risk?

At what point will spiritual integrity and human dignity become important enough for you to truly consider, perhaps your anti-gay interpretation of the Bible is misguided at best?

How many lives and minorities must be destroyed before you give aggressive consideration to the presence of racism and privilege in your own life and worldview?

How many parents of LGBTQI children must lay sleepless at night, feeling alone, frantically afraid, and viciously condemned before you have the courage to chart a new path of compassion, solidarity, and understanding towards this entire community?

How many sisters, brothers, children and family members alike must you shame, condemn, or reject all together before the carnage of so many destroyed people and relationships compels you to have the courage to fully examine the evils of embracing such a legalistic, graceless, bigoted, and twisted brand of faith, and do the hard work of thinking for yourself and questioning long-held beliefs?

How many times must we Christians be on the wrong side of history, before we muster the bravery to pump the breaks, jump ship, and disarm the right-wing conservative Evangelical machine whose worship of the Bible and their interpretations of it have been the catalyst to some of the most diabolical evil atrocities and injustices ever manifested on the planet—all in the name of Jesus?

How much regret are you willing to risk and careless damage to the lives of good people around you, simply because you refuse to listen and give genuine consideration to opposing views in light of fresh revelation?

How many mass shootings, suicides, murders, wars, holocausts, and people imprisoned by depression, shame, and religious condemnation must ensue before the non-violent, all-inclusive, sacrificial, serving, welcoming, affirming, forgiving, equalizing, non-discriminating, unconditional-loving, pure Grace message and Gospel of Jesus will be given top priority by you—met with your willingness to move His Beattitudes from being a faith accessory or flat out inconvenience to becoming your main way of living, no matter the cost?

Perhaps you’re offended that my heart is no longer afraid of your religious glare of disapproval or the ramifications that might come my way—as your voice of displeasure, disassociation, and pity no longer haunt me. Or, perhaps you’re most uncomfortable and even resentful of the freedom within me to live at peace without your affirmation, and instead can confidently speak my truth without reservation.

For Grace has given me, perhaps, the greatest gift of all—the power, joy, and honor of being a Christian who is compelled to give a f**k, when to do so stands as my moment of truth and another’s hope, healing, and salvation. My heart has been captured and my soul is convinced, nothing is more important than standing for truth, defending the religiously oppressed, proclaiming the God is who is Love, and manifesting His Gospel of unconditional love, acceptance, and affirmation for all—no matter the cost.

Go ahead. Pull your support, remove this post, de-friend me, or curse me all together—but here’s the stone cold truth I hope you’ll consider.

The world will keep on ignoring your message, the poor will keep starving, and black lives will continue to not truly matter. Transgender people will still keep committing suicide and the LGBTQ community will continue to be mocked, marginalized, and condemned in every arena. The religious evils rampant in much of right-wing conservative Christianity will still keep flourishing, minorities will still be discriminated, and racism will still divide us. Millennials will continue to exit the building, atheism will be ever increasing, human rights will keep on being denied, and women will still be seen as second class humans, Christians, employees, and citizens. All, until we start becoming Christians who not just give a tear, a thought, a sympathy, a glance, a nod, or a condolence, but actually love Jesus and love people enough to give a f**k, no matter the cost.

While you’re building your multi-site church campus, planting the next “Elevation,” or becoming the next famous Christian writer, preacher, or blogger. While you’re getting voted into elected office, preserving and protecting your income and way of living, counting your followers on Facebook, keeping your relationships peaceful, and enjoying your privilege—a whole world of people are asking, why should I believe in your God, worship His name, and sign up for your way of believing and living, when at the end of the day, no matter what person, truth, tragedy, injustice, or evil is before you, you simply don’t and won’t give a f**k?

Until we love Jesus who is Grace and people unconditionally to the point of truly risking it all, the one thing the world knows for sure—we Christians don’t know the true nature of God, the value of people, and what it means to love. In fact, all we probably have is just another worthless, impotent, and destructive religion and its spirit working within us.

Every time we buckle, every time we choose comfort over resistance, every time we opt to place our interests over truth and justice, the world screams out a resounding sigh, “we were right, it’s all a fraud, nothing ever changes.”

So with all due politeness and respect, please save your “you’ve gone too far with this one” and “my how you’ve lost your way” comments for someone else. For I fear, that’s the very kind of religious pretentious attitudes too many of we Christians have selfishly adopted that are enabling catastrophic problems and postponing and preventing countless much needed solutions.

Perhaps you would have said it differently, or chose a phrase devoid of profanity, but don’t miss the pure metaphor behind it all as to what it must look like specifically for you to love enough to stomach the risk and go the distance to be a true force of Grace and the God who is Love in the lives of the oppressed, religiously abused, and discarded.

Now, like never before, we must set into motion and call up from within our souls the courage to rethink, reexamine, and reconsider everything we think we know that years of unchallenged faith tradition, believing, and doing have lured us into—a spiritual complacency that has us nursing at the breast of evil while being convinced we sit at the table of Jesus.

Until our theology is Love and our countenance is sheer bravery no matter the cost, we will forever be leaning on our own understanding and enabling evil to live and flourish to the detriment, dehumanizing, and destruction of God-adorned people.

Grace is brave, Be brave.

Give a f**k.

Trump, LifeWay, and Eugene Peterson—Conservative Evangelicalism Personified

Life has a way of putting things right in front of us—if we’re willing to see them.

Though much has been said in attempt to cast light on the true essence and nature of conservative Evangelicalism, perhaps nothing in all the universe speaks more clearly than when it all gets personified so poignantly in human flesh. Look no further, search no longer—Trump, LifeWay Christian Stores, and Eugene Peterson are conservative Evangelical Christianity in living color. They serve as both a window into the true desires and ethos of right-wing Christianity, and a mirror giving an honest reflection, if only its adherents should dare to look within.

Debate all you want about President Donald Trump, at the end of the day, he bares a strong resemblance not unlike that of many a conservative Evangelical pastor, leading with a male-driven patriarchal sexism and a vision of personal power, imperialism, and greed—all spiritually justified of course, and often at the expense of the “least of these.” As a former Evangelical pastor myself, I know it all too well. It begins with good intention and the best of aspirations, but quickly the tractor-beams of the Evangelical Death Star can’t be overtaken. Slowly, but surely, the erosion overcomes.

There’s no denying, much of conservative pastoral leadership has adopted some of the most cruel, immoral, anti-Jesus, and evil behaviors and attitudes on the planet. Brutally lording over people, insisting on ones own way, demanding allegiance, fear-mongering, childishness, blatant double standards, and putting character and truth aside as long as you’re willing to be a player in the Evangelical game. Keeping it all predominantly white, male, Evangelically conservative, privileged, and culturally dominant are some of its greatest unwritten leadership priorities. Inside handshakes, closed-door meetings, all conspiring on how to quickly demonize, marginalize, and even give exit to nearly any barrier or perceived enemy. Virtually nothing is off the table when it comes to defending and taking territory in the name of conservative Evangelicalism. Bullying, shaming, emotional abuse, spiritual exploitation, and political adultery—no matter how overt or subtle, is all spiritual justified by a militant, vengeful, intolerant, gun-carrying, homophobic, hell-addicted, sexist, racist, and imperialistic distortion of Jesus.

No wonder why so many couldn’t help themselves but to elect him as President, for chances are, he most closely resembles their local conservative Evangelical pastoral leadership. Nearly everything you see in our President Donald Trump is hauntingly intrinsic to much of conservative Evangelicalism—especially its leadership. Want to know what it feels like to be under the mantle of many a conservative Evangelical Church? Ask yourself this simple question, how does it feel to be under the leadership of President Donald Trump?

Feel a bit uncomfortable or believe it’s unfair for me to make this kind of comparison? May I ask you a simple question—then why did you elect him President? If he makes you embarrassed or is lessor in character, maturity, and vision in comparison to your pastor, why do you still vehemently support him? Besides, by your own faith understanding and declaration, wasn’t he sent by God—appointed by the Father, as are all leaders? Not just to merely be your pastor, but to be the President of the only nation you declare is under God—how much more important and requiring is that?

LifeWay Christian Stores is a revealing display and manifestation of the state of many a conservative Evangelical church. With it’s consumer-driven franchising of Jesus and their unique conservative brand, it centers itself around preserving its future, protecting conformity, and paying the bills—sounds a lot like “church” of most any flavor.

One is most certainly welcome to come and buy all you can, they’ll gladly take your cash—no questions asked. They might even let you sweep the floor or take out the trash—if you’ll put on one of their logo-embroidered t-shirts, of course. Yet, try to become a valued contributing part of their community, and you’ll find an endless supply of tests, hoops, and checkpoints you’ll have to pass. For, at the end of the day, Jesus is big business, and there’s a lot of right-wing conservatives to please and lost people with money to spend.

Giving Christians and the spiritually vulnerable more and more to do, consume, become, believe, fear, and achieve is an evil religious concoction not many can resist. In fact, they’ll lay down a lot of dough to keep up with the latest Christian trends and make doubly sure, they’re being faithful enough and becoming successful for Jesus. LifeWay, and many a conservative Evangelical church, have mastered both creating the addiction and seductively pimping the drug that feeds it. In fact, put a worship service in your local LifeWay Christian store, and you’ll hardly know the difference.

Yet, perhaps most telling of all, is how they shoot their wounded and send those they deem to be wayward to the curb. Just ask Jennifer Hatmaker, to be sure. For nothing resembles many a conservative Evangelical church more than big business, demanded conformity, self-preservation, consumerism, and the eating of their own.

Enter Eugene Peterson, a gentle, humble, wise, and good Christian man who has greatly contributed to the evangelical Christian community through his famed leadership, writing, and teaching. As is characteristic of most every member of your typical conservative Evangelical Church, his intentions have always been noble and His pursuit of truth and the growing of His relationship with Jesus undeniably genuine.

Yet, when recently, his spirituality grew to a place it colored outside conservative Christian lines by affirming gay marriage, he experienced the full wrath and weight of the monster that is conservative Evangelicalism. Quickly, he became the fear-driven church member that is imprisoned by the shackles of conservative ideology. Like countless others, his free-thinking theological transition of belief was met with punishment, shaming, excommunication, and threats. No matter his reasoning, biblical revelation. or honesty with it all, he was nailed to the cross and fearfully enticed to surrender and come down—or else.

In fact, LifeWay Christian Stores pledged to remove his books—go figure. Websites were swiftly created to denounce and demonize him—surprise, surprise. The biggest question many conservatives asked wasn’t, “What can we learn?,” “Is he onto something?,” or “How can we find a positive way to agree to disagree?” No, it was, “Can we still read his stuff and be seen as genuine Christians?” God help us all—that this is the kind of atrocious people we have become.

Sadly, instead of standing strong and going the full distance of resistance, Eugene Peterson, like many others, buckled under the pressure in compliance with Evangelical conformity and tradition. In fact, he threw in the towel and retracted it all—a suspiciously sudden change from his recent gay-affirming position. In the end, it seems he must have concluded, the cost is too costly to pay. In Eugene Peterson, we need not look any further, this is the hell, this is what it looks like to be a conservative Evangelical Christian and a prisoner of its machine—with seemingly no way out.

As hard as it may be to hear, it’s even harder to say.

Everything you need to know about the truth of much of conservative Evangelical leadership, church-life, and membership can be tragically found in this sad trifecta—Trump, LifeWay, and Eugene Peterson.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Dear Conservative Christian, What Am I Supposed To Believe?

I’m trying to understand, I really am.

I hear what you’re saying—the deep confessions of your conservative brand of faith. You’re passionate, determined, and believe strongly in your way. I respect the veracity of your convictions—that, we have in common. Yet, if I’m honest, more so than not, I’m left scratching my head in utter confusion. I listen to your speaking and then take notice of your doing—finding it very hard to pull together much consistency between the two. I want to believe in the best, applaud your efforts, and grant you a fair shake, but the discrepancies I just can’t seem to ignore.

You say that conservative churches are warm and welcoming—I guess I’m wondering, to who? If I color outside conservative lines or commit a moral miscue, I’m quickly distanced, given the cold shoulder, or even sent to the curb. If I believe differently or entertain some serious doubts, I’m rushed to a Jesus-101 class or a small group for the spiritually lost and confused. You may allow a member of the LGBTQ community to sit in your velvet padded pews—certainly, your hands are open to receive their Sunday offering. Yet, all bets are off when it comes to teaching Sunday school or having equal footing in your community. Thousands of people from every walk of life have real stories of fierce condemnation, marginalization, and demonization at the hands of your organized conservatism. Yet, you gregariously claim a genuine desire for everyone to come and attend your church. I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but what am I suppose to believe? Putting two eyes on what’s in front of me—you’re telling me this is warm and welcoming?

You say you’re all about Jesus—I guess I’m wondering, which one? The Jesus who won’t accept anything less than multi-million dollar state-of-the-art buildings, slick branding, and the worshipping of His Glory with perfectly timed smoke machines, stage-lighting, and Anthropologie-fashioned leaders sporting tattoos and skinny jeans? Or is it the Jesus whose greatest delight is in seeing the franchising of His church and the endless consumerism of His Name? Maybe it’s the Jesus who pours out special anointing and favor upon celebrity pastors and applauds their book deals, conferences, private jets, and their ego-driven personal empire building? Or maybe you mean the Jesus who clearly states, “Above all else, carpet colors, stained glass windows, keeping current members happy, and holding strong to traditions is ultimately what really matters most.” I’m trying to see things through your eyes and makes sense of your perspective, but what am I supposed to believe? This is what it means to be all about Jesus?

You say the “least of these” matter—I guess I’m wondering, to what extent? I’ve been to plenty of your conferences, especially the ones bent on church growth and financial campaign success. The mantra I keep hearing repeated is deeply unsettling—giving to the poor and serving the community bottom lines on being good for the offering. The “least of these” are en vogue and good for big budgets, people get emotional and open their wallets. Taking every opportunity to show carefully crafted videos of all your do-gooding and generosity makes it look so spiritual and less self-serving—oh the privileges of being so privileged. Of course, people don’t contribute directly to the specific need. Rather, it all goes into the master budget fueling the master ego of the charismatic visionary master pastor. When ministry to the broken and outcast doesn’t empower the conservative Evangelical church machine, all of a sudden, taking care of the “least of these” isn’t quite so appealing. Just ask the Transgender community or your messiah Donald Trump—banishing whole groups of God-imaged people to undergo “reparative therapy” and cutting millions from receiving healthcare for the sake of the wealth of the wealthy. I know it may sound cynical and even a bit crass, but what am I supposed to believe? This is what it means and looks like when the “least of these” truly matter?

You say that you care about me as a God-created person—I guess I’m wondering, for what purpose? From the moment we meet, it feels like you’re overall intention is to change me into a person who increasingly looks less like me, and a lot more like you. While the Spirit is compelling me to cast off fear and enjoy the freedom to be fully myself, you’re whispering in my ear that being me isn’t good nor pleasing, and freedom is something to actually fear. Not long after I’ve visited your church a few times, I’m being pulled in every direction. From serving in the nursery to attending some class to become a member—ultimately, so I can learn where I should best plug into ministry. Nearly everything you say and do rapidly convinces me—to you, I’m mostly just a fresh piece of meat, not a person. I’m a cog in your ministry puzzle to set quickly into place, painting a picture of world domination with a mission to “make disciples of all people into people just like us.” I’m trying to see the silver lining in it all, but what am I supposed to believe? This is what it means to care about me as a person, a God-adored human being?

You say that you hold the keys to the best way of living—I guess I’m wondering, why does it seem so lifeless and unloving? For all your spiritual gymnastics, fanfare, and adoration, I can’t help but wonder what’s your motivation? It’s like you’re on an endless pursuit to convince God, yourself, and everybody else that you’re really a real-deal Christian. Every moment is deemed a test of your faithfulness—will your performance live up to God’s expectations? It seems like yours is a rigorous life of constant pre-qualifying—afraid to love too much, enjoy too much, and have too much fun—the terrible things that might become. Sin is always on your radar screen as you size-up other people—nearly everything and everyone is branded an enemy. It’s like a disorder of some kind where depravity becomes the lens through which you see everything. The spiritual treadmill upon which you live, always trying to measure up, leaves you exhausted and forced to put on a Jesus-face while deep down inside, the best you can do is fake it. The spiritual growth you say you inspire, feels more like a conspiracy of doctrinal conformity—if not, flat out brainwashing. I’m not trying to be cruel or critical, it’s just an observation I can’t un-see. I truly wish your way of living was an upgrade of the finest, but it feels quite like it would surely be the opposite. I know your heart is good and your intentions are even better, but what am I supposed to believe? Is this truly the best of the best way to live?

You say that the Bible is the ultimate rule and guide for your faith—I guess I’m wondering, why such idolatry, what’s really at stake? I’ve been around the block enough to know, Jesus is the Word, not a set of words and pages in even the most sacred of books. Which leaves me wondering, what’s the big deal? Why is your interpretation the only one that’s real—often pimped as the way, the truth, and the life. Isn’t that supposed be a designation exclusive to Jesus? More so than not, you fire off Scripture like it’s a weapon and your chief desire is mass destruction—always trying to prove a point. It feels like you use the Bible as a crutch out of a lack of personal connection and revelation from Jesus. I appreciate and respect your level of loyalty, but wonder if placing it in a book and your interpretations is what was intended by the Spirit. I haven’t seen one good thing, only evil religion, coming from the building of your faith upon the shifting sands of a book rather than the Person. “What are you afraid of?” is my ultimate question—loss of control, power, and coercion potential? I’m trying to put myself in your shoes and assume the best of your intentions, but what am I supposed to believe? Is this what the Bible is really all about?

You say that your Gospel reflects the true heart of Jesus and God’s plan for humanity—I guess I’m wondering, then why is it so brutal and your faith so blatantly insecure? To think that your conservative brand of believing is so weak that you have to politicize it, nationalize it, demand it, and sleep with the enemy in order to preserve it. To think that you would abandon all moral conviction and spiritual integrity, and vote Donald Trump to be our president—all for conservative Evangelical power and glory for sure. To think that you would resort to insisting on your own way in nearly every public arena. It all makes one truly consider that not only have you lost your bearings, but your faith understanding is cruel, selfish, and entirely bogus. What you declare as the Gospel for all nations seems like in reality, a spiritual veil to a hatred, arrogance, and people-damnation addiction deep within the religious soul. Why else would you insist on a hell for people who believe differently than you? Why else would you declare to be pro-life—until, of course, it applies to the lives that aren’t in step with your ideology, pursuits, and religious thrills? Why else would you have a clear and present history of being on the wrong side of nearly every important issue? I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe you hold the heart of Jesus in all that you are and do, but what am I supposed to believe? This is what you call the Gospel, the ultimate good news?

Why not just be honest?

We can handle it, we really can—in fact, we’ve been handling it for years. You might even get some respect, as twisted as that sounds. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern how you truly feel and the content of your aspirations. Just come clean with it—be real.

It’s o.k., we have a pretty good idea what you truly believe and think anyways—for actions always speak louder than words.

We may be welcome, but we aren’t wanted.

It’s not really all about Jesus, it’s really all about you.

We, the “least of these,” matter only as much as you can benefit.

To you, we’re a project, not a person.

Despite how it appears, you’re basically faking it.

Without the Bible and the lording of your interpretation, it would be hard to justify your hate and protect your privilege.

Your gospel leads to a life of spiritual imprisonment—for misery always loves a good bit of company.

No, not every conservative church or person is manifesting these messages, but there are large numbers of people who’ve been tractor-beamed into the Death Star of conservative Evangelicalism. Seduced by the dark side, they have bitten the lie. Many conservative churches and Christians can’t help but spread the same infection, luring people into an evil Empire—despite their best intentions.

I know you disagree, I’m actually glad you do. Now, prove that I’m wrong through a conservative Evangelical revolution of changed behavior and tradition.

Until then.

Dear conservative Christian, what am I supposed to believe?

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.  Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)

“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.  Matthew 7:15-20 (The Message)

Grace is brave. Be brave.

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