Tag: freedom (Page 1 of 2)

Burn It Down, All Of It

So much of what’s been made of “church” is a blasphemous degradation of the Jesus it pimps. Oozing rivers of pus-ladened evil upon a hurting world.

What God meant for healing is used to inflict pain. What God meant for inclusivity is used to assert supremacy. What God meant for peace is used to declare war. What God meant for love is used to justify hate.

Burn it down, all of it.

Every part that condemns the different. Every part that attracts the religious and scatters the broken. Every part that lifts men over women. Every part that oppresses the least-of-these and excites the privileged. Every part that creates conditions, restrictions, rules, and limits where God created none.

The world doesn’t need more buildings, campuses, stages, light shows, soundboards, celebrity pastors, conferences, committees, coalitions of the self-righteous, and cults with crosses on top.

Jesus doesn’t need more Membership 101 classes, mission statements, prayer formulas, name-engraved Bibles, devotionals on coffee tables, “be blessed” memes on social media, or to be branded and franchised for the masses.

Burn it down, all of it.

 

Not literally, but figuratively. Not with fire, but with resistance. Not with violence, but with truth.

 

If church is a place you go, you’ll never get there.

If church is a pastor you follow, you’re already lost.

If church is a belief to which you subscribe, you’re in prison.

If church is a lense through which to see and judge the world, you’re blind.

If church is a gathering of the like-minded, like-living, and like-agreeing, trust me, you’re in hell.

 

For when your highest priorities are opulent buildings, slick marketing, the best programs in town, and skinny jeans for the pastor, you don’t have a church, you have a business with a side hustle in Jesus.

When your highest aspiration is to nationalize your faith, gain power over society, and force your beliefs and values into the lives of all others, you don’t have a church, you have a bulldozer with Jesus as a hood ornament.

When your most important day of the week is Sunday, and your most important activity is a worship service, and your most important measure is the attendance, and your most important calculation is the offering, and your most important person is the pastor, and your most important communication is the sermon, and your most important mission is to colonize the world, and your most important leverage is fear, hell, sin, and the devil, and your most important message is “God loves you, but…” You don’t have a church, you have a spiritual veil to an empty faith.

 

It’s the poison, not the cure.

It’s greed, not generosity.

It’s power, not sacrifice.

It’s control, not freedom.

It’s condemnation, not Grace.

 

It’s your way, not the Way

It’s deception, not Truth.

It’s death, not Life

 

It’s darkness, not Light.

It’s fear, not Love.

It’s you, not Jesus.

 

Burn it down, all of it.

 

Love unconditionally, until it is no more.

Include all the marginalized, until it’s squelched of its hate.

Affirm all of the condemned, until it’s smoldering in irrelevance.

Embrace true equality, until it loses its power.

Stand with the least-of-these, until it falls to its knees.

Speak good news that’s good news for all, until it has nothing left to say.

 

Burn it down, all of it.

Jesus says so.

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Grace is brave. Be brave.

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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!”

 

Christian, Which Side Are You On?

Jesus loves everyone, He is pro-human.

He is All and in all.

 

He stands for everyone, but He doesn’t stand with everyone.

He takes sides. Definitive sides. Everywhere He goes, everything He does, and everything He says takes a side.

 

When Jesus invites people into His life, He seeks followers, not believers. Followers of His actions, example, and teachings. For Jesus, mere beliefs don’t change anything, actions can change everything. In fact, He scolds those whose faith is merely an exercise in creedal accession and lacking in actions that duplicate His. Their beliefs count for nothing and cost Him greatly. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the follower, not the believer.

When Jesus interacts with the poor in spirit, heart, mind, health, sustenance, and possessions, He takes care of them, defends them, and clothes them in high standing and value among all of humanity. He berates the privileged, the down-lookers, the stingy, the hoarders, the best-life living, the callous, and the wealthy, admonishing them to check their attitudes and write the checks that flip the tables of classism and privilege. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the poor, not the privileged.

When Jesus dines with “sinners,” He strips them of the label and tattoos their forehead with “friend.” When a woman is caught in adultery, He steps in and across to “Jackie-Chan” the religious haters and thrust a force field over her, disarming bigoted stones. Nobody rants against faith-phonies and legalism-pushers like Jesus. Nobody spits out religious to-do steps, sin-management, and “you must invite Him into your heart” like Jesus does. One religious lung-biscuit after another, He vomits faith-conservatism out of His mouth. The religiously condemned and oppressed are His people. The condemners and the oppressors, not so much. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the condemned, not the condemner.

When Jesus gathers His disciples for one last huddle, He tasks them with making “learners” of Him throughout the world. Yes, “learners,” not “lorders.” Learners who are free to think, free to doubt, free to question, and free to believe or disbelieve. Their learners–learners who can be learners of Him within all faiths, for He is All and in all. Those who want to use Him for political purposes, for gaining power over people, or for demanding their flavor of faith upon the masses, He resists and disowns, as they are far from being in tune with His message and mission. To any who wish to lord, colonize, or bulldoze their faith into hearts and society, He spreads donkey dung upon their self-serving path and dies on a cross so everyone will know the difference between Him and them. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the learner, not the lorder. 

When in the face of a capitalistic society, Jesus tells the controversial story of a boss who pays some workers exactly what he promised for the amount of time they worked. At the same time, he hires other workers to work less time, but pays them the same as those who worked longer. Of course, the original workers were furious, surely claiming that the boss was being “unfair” and socialistic. Jesus highlights the story to uplift the value of grace. The boss didn’t withhold blessings from the first workers, he simply graced the others. By capitalistic standards, it wasn’t fair. In the mind of Jesus, it was better than fair, it was grace. When it comes to anything, from “an eye for an eye” to “selling all your possessions,” Jesus doesn’t side with “fairness.” He doesn’t side with a “fairness” that rigs systems towards the benefit of the “haves” over the “have-nots.” Jesus sides with grace. And to those who withhold it, they receive His deep disdain. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the gracious, not the fair.

When confronted by a group of the religious who insisted that God favored them and were the center of His approval, heart, and blessings, He told them about a shepherd who had a 100 sheep, but left 99 of them to rescue one that got away. But not just got away; shoved out. The one who saw his escape as his only path of survival. The one that had been condemned, marginalized, thrown to the curb, and branded as an outsider. The one “loss” that was deemed by the 99 as the cost of being a “free” herd of sheep. So, Jesus turns over their religious calculations through a simple story to show that God actually sides with the one, not the 99. 

The one gun victim, not the 99 gun owners. The one transgender child, not the 99 MAGA bullies. The one gay teenager, not the 99 religious bigots. The one searching for the whole truth, not the 99 book banners and racist history erasers. The one raped woman, not the 99 political careers. The one falsely convicted, not the 99 hooded courtrooms. The one who can’t breathe, not the 99 cops who refuse restraint. The one medically vulnerable, not the 99 anti-maskers. The one following Jesus out of church, not the 99 in church who don’t follow Jesus at all. Over and over again, Jesus sides with the one, not the 99.

 

Everywhere Jesus is, He’s taking a side.

For the cross is the divine line drawn across the cosmos that makes absolutely clear that God does, indeed, take sides.

 

Christian, which side are you on? 

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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!”

 

It’s Colonization, All Of It

It’s colonization, all of it.

 

It’s not, “pro-life.”

It’s not, “protecting kids in classrooms.”

It’s not, “preserving family values.”

It’s not, “making America great again.”

It’s not, “restoring religious freedom”

 

No, not even close.

It’s colonization, all of it.

 

It’s what you do when you have not love.

It’s what you do when you have not Jesus.

It’s the best idea of those whose hearts long only for self, even to the destruction of others.

For colonization is greed wrapped in spiritual justification. It’s the face of evil masked in holiness.

It’s the stealing of what belongs to others and making it your own. It’s the taking of what God created for equality and highjacking it for supremacy. It’s the enslavement of what should be free and hoarding it for elitism. It’s the condemning of all that is divine and beautiful, and shaming it into religion. It’s the forcing of yourself into someone’s life and living, to the point that their life is no longer a life of their own.

It’s greed, selfishness, control, and power plastered with divine lipstick and the gloss of moral urgency. Nothing is good, divine, or worthy about it. Every sin that is sin is involved. Colonization is the fruition of corruption. It’s the wake of evil souls. It’s the manifestation of those who have exchanged love for lordship that they might bulldoze the world.

 

Fox News colonizing the truth.

Elon Musk colonizing Twitter.

A worship singer colonizing an airplane.

DeSantis colonizing Florida schools and Disney World.

Let’s call it what it is… it’s colonization, all of it.

 

Republicans colonizing women’s bodies.

Republicans colonizing human sexuality.

Republicans colonizing healthcare.

Republicans colonizing the economy.

Republicans colonizing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

White Evangelicals colonizing the Bible.

White Evangelicals colonizing Jesus.

White Evangelical men colonizing church and home.

White Evangelicals colonizing libraries.

White Evangelicals colonizing American history.

White Evangelical Christians colonizing everything and anything they can overpower into their submission.

 

History reveals the dark tale. If they can’t covert you, they will colonize you; if they can’t colonize you, they will crucify you. Sadly, it’s true, all of it.

There is nothing of Jesus, God, love, morality, holiness, or goodness involved. Only insatiable evil, salivating out of colonizing mouths gaping with spiritual depravity.

 

For when Jesus instructed, “Go make disciples of all nations” the word translated as “disciples” is actually the word “learners.”

Notice He didn’t say, “lorders.” He said, “learners.” 

People learning Jesus-love, Jesus-feeding, Jesus-healthcare, Jesus-economy, Jesus-ranting-against-the-religious.

People learning Jesus-compassion, Jesus-equality, Jesus-generosity, Jesus-human-serving, and Jesus-least-of-these-defending.

For “learners” aren’t colonizers and condemners, “learners” are lovers and servants, just like Jesus. 

If only Christianity had adopted the slogan, “No lords, only learners.” Oh, the world we’d be living in.

Colonization and colonizers have nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with control, power, and ferocious greed.

It’s colonization, all of it. It’s what they do.

 

Let’s learn this.

Learn this now, before learning is colonized too.

It’s coming. It’s here. Look around.

Show up, show out. Like never before, the time is now.

 

“‘So tractable, so peaceable, are these people that I swear to your Majesties there is not in the world a better nation. They love their neighbors as themselves, and their discourse is ever sweet and gentle, and accompanied with a smile; and though it is true that they are naked, yet their manners are decorous and praiseworthy.’ All of this, of course was taken as a sign of weakness, if not hedonism, and Columbus being a righteous European was convinced the people should be ‘made to work, sow and do all that is necessary and to adopt our ways.’ Over the next four centuries (1492-1890) several million Europeans and their descendants undertook to enforce their ways upon the people of the New World.”  

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, Dee Brown (pgs 1-2)

 

It’s colonization, all of it.

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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!”

 

 

Jesus Is Un-American

Return Him back to His factory settings.

Return Him back to His original narrative.

Return Him back to His true vision.

There you will see, so much of what is embedded and intertwined into Americanism is actually foreign to Jesus. In fact, He often lives and loves outside of Her, and often stands against Her. Her good that can be seen, the good that She can be, and the good in which many of us believe, is often overshadowed by the darkness She casts and the darkness She becomes.

Yes, the Jesus that so many worship as if He is an American is actually completely and unequivocally un-American. Sadly, their “America” and their “Jesus” is far from His heart, plan, and embodiment. In fact, if He ever came to America, they’d be the first and fastest to label Him as, “un-American.” Oh, oh say can you see… the irony.

For Jesus filled not the sails of Columbus, not the inkwells of the Constitution, nor the weapons that formed Her. Jesus raises no flag; pledges no allegiance; favors no nation. He cannot be legislated, elected, or sworn in as a citizen.

Jesus is “un-American.”

There is no such thing as lesser, depraved, or subhuman. For Jesus, being white isn’t the gold standard, human standard, divine standard, or red-white-and-blue standard for measuring the divinity, rights, innocence, potential, and value of any person. He doesn’t see the white man as the default expression of humanity and everyone else, a “race.” For Him, all are one-hundred percent human, sacred, worthy, valuable, God-imaged, and of the divine–all the time, everytime, anytime.

Apparently, Jesus is “un-American.”

Certainly, He is not a Christian, politician, nation, or faith. Instead, He is a person; fully human and fully divine–as are we, and as are all. His teachings are universal and of the Universe–He is all and in all. Jesus is not a road to be traveled, a way that is exclusive, a creed to be confessed, or a Lord to be feared. He cannot be written on a page, contained in a church, nor confined to any one faith. He is not a mascot, book, brand, logo, slogan, bill, lobbyist, spokesperson, school, college, band, style, party, PAC, or perfume sprayed by the privileged.

I’m guessing, Jesus is “un-American.”

He doesn’t have a dream to be dreamed, a status to be achieved, or a ceiling to break through. He doesn’t have an economy. He doesn’t have a currency. He doesn’t have borders, “illegals,” or immigrants. In Jesus, everyone is a citizen in full union and communion. All are equally “in” and all are equally “free.”

Yes, Jesus is “un-American.”

When Jesus commands the rich to prioritize the poor instead of exploiting them, He is un-American.

When Jesus commands the rich to generously share their wealth instead of hoarding it, He is un-American. When Jesus commands the rich to place people over profit, He is un-American. When Jesus declares, “the first will be last and the last will first” and the best way to calibrate your mindset, heart, life, and agenda, He is surely “un-American.”

When Jesus turns over the tables of greedy, manipulative, unethical, and deceptive money swindlers stepping over people to get ahead, He is un-American. When Jesus vehemently rants against the religious ruling class and calls out their fakery, evil, self-righteousness, and blasphemy, He is un-American. When Jesus admonishes Peter to put down his sword and choose a nonviolent path, He is surely “un-American.”

When Jesus feeds thousands for free without demanding a drug test, work plan, or valid license, He is un-American. When Jesus provides healthcare, healing, and comfort for the downtrodden regardless of income or financial capacity, He is un-American. 

When Jesus praises and upholds examples of workers being compensated equally and generously in a way that tilts the scales towards the less fortunate becoming more fortunate instead of the wealthy, He is surely “un-American.”

When Jesus uplifts, empowers, and treats women as equals, Jesus is un-American. When Jesus refuses political gain, leveraging, inside handshakes, and deals with the powerful, Jesus is un-American. When Jesus demands that we love our neighbor as ourselves, Jesus is un-American. When Jesus disproportionately sides with the oppressed, unproductive, displaced, condemned, forgotten, and the falsely accused, Jesus is un-American. When Jesus pronounces the least as the greatest, the outside as the inside, the different as the designed, the unsaved as the saved, the doubters as the faithful, the weak as the strong, and the meek as the divinely favored, Jesus is surely “un-American.”

Yes, the Jesus that so many worship as if He is an American is actually completely and unequivocally un-American. Sadly, their “America” and their “Jesus” is far from His heart, plan, and embodiment. In fact, if He ever came to America, they’d be the first and fastest to label Him as…

“un-American.”

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Grace is brave. Be brave.

Check out Chris’ latest book, Stupid Shit Heard In Church…

5 Essentials For Defeating Trump

As a result of the rising dictatorial leadership of President Trump, who is intentionally and aggressively fanning into flame a level of unprecedented hatred, division, and blind allegiance throughout our nation, there is an increasing anxiety growing across America as many wonder if this evil movement of right-wing conservative ideology can be defeated. With flashbacks to the rise of Hitler and the mass brainwashing of countless Germans who could be led to jettison all morality in exchange for power and privilege, we know these evils to be possible, and fear they could be repeatable.

Thankfully, light does still overcome darkness—there is always hope. We still stand in a moment where good can, once again, overturn evil and, this time, rescue our country from the claws of impending destruction. Yet, it will not be easy and will require keen awareness and focused bravery in the face of an emerging, cunning religious fascism that seeks to commandeer our great nation.

To that end, here are five essentials that must be engaged and uplifted if we are to defeat President Donald Trump and all that he represents.

We Must Connect The Dots– Conservative Evangelicalism has a middle finger, and that middle finger is Donald Trump. There can be no more denial and minimization, all that we see playing out on our national stage has long been brewing in the cauldrons of right wing Christian conservatism. In fact, this diabolical faith system is the one and only true wizard behind the curtain pulling the strings of tyranny. All that we see in Trump has been simmering in the hearts and minds of much of conservative Evangelicalism—racism, white privilege, greed, power, sexism, nationalism, homophobia, xenophobia, and alike—it’s all there and leatherbound. Make no mistake, at the core, conservative Evangelicalism is a fear-driven, hate-driven, and self-centered faith cleverly disguised as Jesus. Tragically, this evil, self-righteous system of belief has seduced and infected many across our nation and now, under the leadership of President Trump, has been pressed and sliced open to freely ooze its pus upon our land. For Trump is merely the head of a religious Monster that has now become unchained and unhinged.

Until conservative Evangelicalism is chased out of the shadows, exposed of its true evil, and dismantled of its influence, Trump will not be defeated and others like him will continue in his path an even accelerate the horrors.       

We Must Expose the End Game– The end game of President Trump and the conservative Evangelicalism that birthed him is nothing less than the complete purification of America and the world of all that threatens and stands against white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian power and privilege. Don’t be fooled, this is the theocracy to which they aspire and will rationalize any evil in order to facilitate—period, full stop. Ignore all the spiritual veneer, excuses, and sideshows. For them, there is no common good. It does not exist. It is, instead, a concept of weakness–there is only uncommon privilege and power for the privileged and the powerful.

For them, there is no unity, there is only conformity. There is no freedom, there is only compliance. There is no justice, there is only dominance. There is no equality, there is only exceptionalism. There is no making America great again, there is only making America just like them. This awareness is of the utmost importance in the face of a master of deception and deflection.

President Trump and all that he stands for will not be defeated until we learn to read between the lines, discern the nefarious trickery, and consistently expose their true agenda with fierce bravery—that is, the complete purification of America and the world of all that threatens and stands against white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian power and privilege.

When one supports Trump, this is the end game to which they are aspiring, whether they realize it or not, and to which they must be held accountable. We cannot allow to go unchallenged, the people who support President Trump that declare they have signed up for and support something less sinister. To do so, is to allow the evils of deception to flourish.

We Must Reveal The Trap-  For those who support President Trump, there is an intoxication that takes place that disarms objectivity, rational thinking, and foresight. The rage and fear within that is given permission to take flight creates an urgent, combative narrative that cannot be easily resisted. To be sure, the promise of power and privilege is an addictive cocktail.

Yet, what is kept in full concealment is the reality that in the mind and heart of President Trump and the conservative Evangelicalism that sustains him, people are disposable—even the faithful.

Make no mistake, Trump supporters are being used, and when they are no longer beneficial or color outside the lines, they too will reap the consequences and suddenly become the enemy. For constrictions and intolerances only increase where power and privilege reign. With each day, elitism becomes more elite and the circles of acceptance and conformity become smaller and more stringent. In the eyes of Trump supporters, the sun may be shining now, but dark clouds are surely ahead. What looks like conservatism now, will soon be deemed liberal by comparison to what is next. Be not deceived, power and privilege are insatiable animals of darkness that will eat their own if necessary, or even not.  

President Trump and all that he stands for will not be defeated until this trap is revealed. Only when people wake up and see the coming reality that they, or someone they love, will eventually fail to meet the growing expectations and heightened conformity required under their regime. Only when they realize that to support President Trump in the here and now is to invest in their own future demise, or that of someone they love. Only when we look people in the eye and continually raise the question, “What happens when it’s you?” What happens when it’s your family member? What happens when you or they fail to measure up and march in perfect concert? What happens when you, the oppressor, become the oppressed? Only then, when the trap is revealed and made personal, can Trump and all that he stands for be defeated.

We Must Hold Up The Mirror– For the trance of conservative Evangelicalism is not one that is easily escaped. Yet, still, as futile as it might seem, we must hold up a mirror in hopes of reflecting who we are becoming as a people and a nation under this emerging rule of right-wing Christian imperialism. For under President Trump and conservative Evangelicalism, one can only become either a controlled, manipulated person who eventually steps in line, or a person who is condemned for resisting. Make no mistake, this is the kind of people we are becoming, and this is the kind of nation that is emerging. The dividing line is all too clear, conform or be cast out. Become a conservative Evangelical, or be demonized. Embrace nationalism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, greed, privilege, white male heterosexual supremacy, or be condemned.  

President Trump and all that he stands for will not be defeated until we see the evil inhumanity of conservative Evangelical beliefs, aspirations, and actions. And, in response, it breaks us to our core as we realize just how far we have fallen from Grace, love, decency, goodness, the ways of Jesus, and His Kingdom. For it will be in that moment, that either we change because we are convicted, or we become more brave in our nonviolent resistance because we further embrace our call.   

We Must Raise The Flag Of True Freedom- One thing is clear, President Trump and the conservative Evangelicalism that supports him do not desire an America this is truly free. Instead, their vision is of a country where there is freedom for some, but not for all. It is within this vision, that laws and policy promote a freedom that is largely served on the tables of the privileged and then rationed out to commoners, if extended at all.   

Yet, what Trump supporters do not realize is that freedom for some, is fear for all. Even the powerful and privileged cannot escape the ever present anxiety of being overthrown by the oppressed whose freedoms are being denied. And certainly, the oppressed cannot outrun the fears of being further condemned and abused by those who would take their freedoms. This, is a sure kind of hell.

President Trump and all that he stands for will not be defeated until freedom is seen as being that which must be extended to all equally, or it is in fact not freedom at all. And therefore, neither will there be peace nor true prosperity where freedom is the wine of the privileged and powerful, and only a future hope for everyone else. For freedom brings no gift, no promise, no justice, no life, and no happiness until it is freedom for all, equally.   

This is how we defeat President Trump and all that he stands for.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

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

There is no greater evil being wielded upon the planet than Conservative Evangelicalism, and Chris Kratzer’s life and ministry journey are undeniable proof. In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris tells of his 21 years as a conservative Evangelical pastor and the radical change of heart and mind that led him to walk away from it all. With a new sense of faith centered on Jesus and His pure Gospel of Grace, in Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches. Endorsed by best selling authors Steve McVey and Baxter Kruger, Leatherbound Terrorism will challenge you, inspire you, and most certainly cause you to rethink your faith and life.

Vote, While You Still Can, And It Still Matters

With the emergence of President Donald Trump, it is no exaggeration that we are on the verge of losing our democracy. There has never been a more dangerous time for our country, as the enemy to all that is truly good and truly free has a sure footing from within with their greedy fingers hovering over the “abort” button, ready to gut our nation’s soul and topple our freedoms from the inside out.

It is high time we start connecting the dots of evil. What is quickly playing out on our national stage is directly rooted in what has long been brewing in the cauldrons of conservative Evangelical churches for decades. In the same way that democracy has largely been pushed out of churches and ministries across America through the rise of gluttonous, narcissistic, power-addicted pastors and leaders, democracy in America is now being aggressively sent to the curb. The emergence of “staff-led” and “pastor-led” churches and ministries where congregants and followers have little to no voice but to worship the leader, has now given birth to the spiritual justification of a theocratic, President-led country, also known as a fascist dictatorship. To be sure, as voting has been largely reduced if not eliminated throughout modern, conservative Christianity, voting is being undermined, constricted, and manipulated to favor the rise of an Empire of white, male, heterosexual, Christian, national conservatism.

Perhaps, if this rising Empire placed human equality, religious plurality, economic compassion, and political humility as the centerpiece of their mission, there would be far less cause for alarm. Instead, this dubious concoction of darkness is clearly willing to spit in the face of morality, decency, justice, democracy, truth, and even Jesus Himself in order to fulfill their inhumane aspirations.

Now, in ever increasing fashion, under the influence of President Trump, states across the country are chomping at the bit to make it significantly harder for Americans—particularly black people, the elderly, students, and persons of special needs—to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. From cuts to early voting, voter ID laws, and purges of voter rolls, the voice of Americans is aggressively being compromised.

In fact, in 1980, Paul Weyrich, a founder and leader of the modern conservative movement, told a conference of conservative Evangelical activists, “I don’t want everybody to vote. Our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Folks, sometimes you have to put two eyeballs on what’s in front of you. This is the true heart, aspirations, and blatant aggression that has now been fanned into flame and given wings under President Trump and his administration. Like never before, Christian conservatives are drinking the elixir of power and driving the HOV lane like banshees to rush ahead of voting Americans in an effort to herald the death of our democracy. And now, with the modern emergence of the real potential for the hacking of our voting process by foreign and domestic sources, we are standing at the edge of a frightening new world. A world, in which, we’d better wake up before this nightmare becomes our reality, with little hope of return.

Do you really want to be governed by an ideology that seeks to purify the world through the eradication of the common good?

Do you really want to live in a nation where freedom and prosperity is a wine enjoyed only by the privileged?

Do you really want to build your life in a land where true equality is demonized as a threat, instead of prized as a God-given right and value?

Do you really want to live and breathe in a society where religious conformity replaces human diversity?

Do you really want your children to grow up under the suppression of people who see women as created for male pleasure and service, minorities as inferior, the vulnerable as disposable, and ideological obedience as essential?  

Do you really want to be caged by a theocratic dictatorship?  

Do you really want to be ruled by Christians who are nothing like Christ?

For goodness sake, wake up.

Immigrants and refugees are not animals. Women are not sex toys. Minorities are not subhuman nor inferior. People of the LGBTQ community are not abominations. Climate change isn’t a hoax. Poverty isn’t tolerable. Freedom isn’t a privilege. The office of President of the United States of America isn’t a circus show in need of a clown. And, Jesus is not a white, Republican, sexist, gun owner wrapped in the American flag with a name engraved Bible clasped in His hands.

My friend, listen and listen carefully.

This is not a test. This is real reality.

Your non-vote is a sure surrender to the coming darkness and an abandonment of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave—at least for now.

For goodness sake, vote, while you still can, and it still matters!

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

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

There is no greater evil being wielded upon the planet than Conservative Evangelicalism, and Chris Kratzer’s life and ministry journey are undeniable proof. In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris tells of his 21 years as a conservative Evangelical pastor and the radical change of heart and mind that led him to walk away from it all. With a new sense of faith centered on Jesus and His pure Gospel of Grace, in Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches. Endorsed by best selling authors Steve McVey and Baxter Kruger, Leatherbound Terrorism will challenge you, inspire you, and most certainly cause you to rethink your faith and life.

Dear World, President Trump Is Not Us, Not Even Close

You read the papers, watch the news, see the tweets, and survey the online reporting—it’s all too easy to conclude that we have elected nothing less than insanity for our President, and we have become an insane people. For so long, an imperialistic arrogance has plagued the political and religious halls of our country. And now, gasoline has been poured upon the flames of our greed by the privileged power-hungry imposter of patriotism we call our President, scorching our entire nation, from sea to shining sea, with every perverted puff from the nostrils of this orange-haired dragon.

We don’t blame you for harboring serious disdain and concern for our country and its current leadership—in fact, we share it. Yet, it is our deepest hope that you will gaze beyond the political circus show that imprisons our nation and discover there are many of us who join in your disgust, tenfold. We are the resistance that is putting hand to plow in hopes of moving our country to become a nation of renewed decency, true freedom, cultural diversity, religious pluralism, social compassion, global humility, diplomatic maturity, and human equality. In fact, know this and know this for sure, Trump is not us, not even close—his character, values, attitudes, and loyalties are nothing like the marrow that fills our hearts and compels our souls.

Instead, we are a people who love creation and desire to protect our environment for generations to come, even to the curbing of economic prosperity. Our unwillingness to compromise the health of our planet for political and financial gain, we believe, is a critical value necessary for the future of all living things. Unfortunately, our President and his political allies are willing to rape our environment for personal, financial, and economic gain. To that end, he and his administration have censored climate change websites, downsized two national monuments for the purpose of oil and gas exploration, cut funding to climate and clean energy programs, and withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Change agreement. With an insatiable appetite for economic prosperity and a blatant disregard for scientific fact regarding the environmental demise of our planet, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe violence doesn’t solve problems nor create solutions, and the military-industrial complex of which President Eisenhower warned and President Kennedy resisted has now become a rampant driving force within our government and right-wing religious circles, resulting in the unnecessary brutal destruction of many through war, oppression, and injustice. We reject the public possession of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons, and if necessary, allowing only for those firearms that require a separate human action to reload. We believe that the safety of our fellow human being, especially children, takes the highest priority over any political and financial allegiances to the NRA or such entities that profit from weapons or the idolization of their use. We declare with boldness and accuracy that our undeniable national gun problem cannot be solved with more guns, especially in the hands of school teachers. We recognize the importance of our Second Amendment rights, but understand James Madison’s intention to allow “the people” as a whole (a well-regulated state militia) to bear arms, not every individual. Unfortunately, our president and his political allies believe violence and its threat are the quickest and surest way to gain and protect power and privilege. To that end, he and his administration have approved a $400 billion budget that sharply increases military spending at the expense of the federal deficit and important programs that protect and serve our society, particularly the underprivileged and less fortunate. With a willingness and desire to cut or significantly reduce spending for the National Endowment for the Arts, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Housing and Urban Development, NASA, EPA, Meals on Wheels, SNAP,  USDA, Education, and Health and Human Services, Trump and his supporters show their depraved lack of human compassion for the most vulnerable among us and an addiction to power for the privileged. With a clear willingness to abandon human life for the sake of protecting and prospering white male right-wing domination, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe God created all of humanity equal in dignity, worth, and value as we fiercely reject all forms of racism, discrimination, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and every type of inherent demonization. Our country has long been purposed on being a sanctuary of refuge for the refugee, opportunity for the immigrant, and equal hope and dignity for the minority and the most vulnerable among us. To that end, we believe in meaningful protection from those who would enter our country for the purpose of inflicting harm. Yet, we also refuse to conclude that our desire for safety prevents nor restricts us from affording human compassion, patience, appropriate leniency, and a realistic and accessible pathway to citizenship for any and all of those who desire to call our country home. We believe that the complexity of immigration and its surrounding issues should lead, not to the creation of bigger walls and callous systems, but to the rise of a greater people whose hearts are convinced that a country that does not joyfully, graciously, and passionately extend its freedoms to all is not a free country after all. For the protection of privilege is the enemy of true liberty. Thus, we vehemently oppose the discrimination of any people group based on skin color, nationality, gender identification, social economic status, or sexual orientation. We are a country purposed on the life, liberty, and equality of all people, not just white, male, heterosexual, right-wing conservative Christians. Sadly, our President and his political and religious allies now seek to curtail the sounds of true freedom and equality from being heard and realized by those who would threaten their power and privilege. To that end, he has labeled black people as being lazy, quick to commit crimes, and unpatriotic while referring to those friendly to white supremacy as being “fine people”—all while enjoying the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan. He has referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists,” called for a complete shutdown of Muslims from entering the United States, and claimed that 15,000 immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS” and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. Trump once referred to a Hispanic Miss Universe as “Miss Housekeeping” and mocked Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.” He has frozen a series of LGBTQ-friendly healthcare rules, tried to reinstate a ban on transgender people in the military, argued that anti-gay discrimination is legal, and nominated multiple candidates to the courts and other public offices who have anti-LGBTQ records. With a long and continued record of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia that clearly displays his desire to protect and prosper white, male, heterosexual power and privilege seemingly at any cost, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe that all religions are to be extended equal rights and protections. Regardless of ones faith, we believe no religion should be granted preference in the public square or afforded special privileges. By constitutional design, we are not a Christian nation nor do we have a state religion—period, full stop. Accordingly, with great enthusiasm and vigor, we fundamentally value, respect, and appreciate people of all religions and defend their rights to exercise their faith peacefully and to be given equal status and treatment alongside all others. Yet, conservative Evangelical Christianity has long been striving to prosper a right-wing, male, heterosexual, white-privileged, conservative brand of Christianity and to attain its dominance in all of society, even to the exclusion, discrimination, demonization, and marginalization of other religions. With a willingness to spiritually justify sin, hypocrisy, duplicity, greed, racism, bullying, violence, war, and discrimination, conservative Evangelicalism sees President Trump as an irresistible pathway to the nationalization of their religion of white power and privilege. To that end, President Trump has enthusiastically opened his presidency and his policies to the influence and partnership of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity. Sadly, to the privileged, the emergence of true equality always feels like war. Thus, Trump and his side-chick of conservative Evangelical Christianity have bit the apple of spiritual and political greed in hopes of subduing the greatest threat to their elitism and imperialism—true equality for all. With an overwhelming lust for dominance in all things and a diabolical partnership with the evils of conservative Evangelicalism in order to spiritually justify it, Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who strongly believe that women are equal to men and therefore should be granted the same rights, opportunities, dignity, and rewards—especially where men have enjoyed unfair advantage, double-standards, and preferential treatment. We believe women are not lesser vessels, inferior human beings, sexual objects created to serve the pleasure of men, nor designed to take a submissive role in any arena of life—especially at home, in society, or at the work place. Rather, women are fully capable human beings equally empowered by the divine. Unfortunately, President Trump has long exploited and abused women for personal gratification and gain. He has suggested that sexual assault in the military is simply what happens when men and women work together, stated women are inherently manipulative, credited women’s professional success to their looks, declared that childrearing is women’s work, told a woman she was disgusting for pumping breast milk, referred to a woman as a “piece of ass,” and bragged about grabbing women’s pussies. With a disgusting unapologetically sexist, predatory, demeaning, discriminating, and exploitive view of women, Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who firmly believe that those with special needs represent nothing less than the beauty and divine diversity of creation. In fact, we hold that all people have limitations and inabilities of various kinds, some are just more apparent than others. Therefore, we abhor any sentiments that ridicule, belittle, or devalue people with disabilities, and commit ourselves to stand in solidarity. Sadly, President Trump has publicly mocked people with special needs, exhibiting a pubescent callousness becoming of none other than the devil himself. In fact, he and his political allies are proposing legislation that will dismantle the Americans with Disabilities Act, leaving people with disabilities gravely exposed while making those who violate the ADA virtually consequence-free. With a brutishness towards human diversity and a blatant disregard for those with disabilities, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe economic prosperity and its benefits should not be limited to the privileged nor should our societal systems create a playing field that fast-tracks the elite and stymies the rest towards receiving the equal blessings of good fortune, hard work, and financial well-being. We aggressively refuse to settle for a hypocritical economic system that postures a greedy socialism for the top and a callous capitalism for the bottom. Unfortunately, president Trump and his allies will seemingly stop at nothing to stack the deck towards the financial benefit of white male privilege. To that end, Trump has created an economic advisory team that is devoid of women, minorities, working people, and the middle class. It is indeed, a “suicide squad” for the prospering of an elitist economy with dark money infiltrating our government and politics like never before. With an unprecedented level of financial greed and arrogance, and a willingness to spend more taxpayer money in one month on personal trips than former President Obama did in one year, President Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who believe that truthfulness and moral integrity are foundational for leadership, especially when endorsed by the religious. Though no person is perfect or devoid of flaws in character, we believe a humble repenting spirit is required for leadership that is characterized by trust, noble influence, and divine authentication. In that way, America has long valued presidential leadership that is, at the very least, marked by basic decency, relational maturity, and human respect. To that end, we vehemently stand against any justification, especially spiritual, that turns a blind eye towards leadership characterized by infidelity, deception, avarice, immorality, discrimination, bullying, dishonesty, and illegal pursuits—no matter how politically or financially advantageous it may be to do so. Sadly, Trump and his political and religious allies are largely devoid of nobility, moral and spiritual integrity, human decency, and the hallmarks of true leadership. Instead, their seemingly insatiable appetites for power and privilege have created a narcissistic political climate nothing shy of the lawless, nefarious, and greedy culture of the Wild West where virtually anything goes and anything can be said that benefits their agenda. The sheer frequency, spontaneity, and arrogance of our President’s lies have no precedent in American politics. In fact, with Trump, the Father of Lies has met his match as our entire country has been waterboarded by the constant flood of his falsehoods and a supporting religious right who have lost their capacity for moral discernment. So much, that they will quickly gas-light the crap out of those who would expose their evils. With an unapologetic willingness to engage in numerous acts of marital unfaithfulness, bully his disagreers, lie to the American people, and leverage every opportunity to enflame his narcissism, even to dire expense of our nation, Trump is not us, not even close.

Instead, we are a people who love creation, reject violence, and value true human equality.

We are a people who uphold religious pluralism, see women as equal, and defend the vulnerable.

We are a people that joyfully extend liberty to all, denounce personal, religious, and national greed, and abhor corrupt arrogant carnal narcissistic leadership.

Dear world, this is the America we believe in, this is the people we are.

President Trump is not us, not even close.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Life After Conservative Evangelical Christianity—Hope For Those Who Hurt

Many are those who have been hurt and harmed by conservative Evangelical Christianity. A walk through the haunted woods of right-wing religious America can be a painful, faith-stripping, and life-sucking experience. For some, it’s an alarming set of events that must transpire before their eyes are opened to the religious deceptions and evils they have endured, adopted, or perhaps have even empowered. Many within and outside of conservative Evangelical Christianity can attest to the victim or victimizer they have become as a result of the faith and practices of much of religious right-wing America.

For those who have been deceived into befriending or becoming the religious evils of conservative Evangelical Christianity—there is hope. For those whose lives have been devastated, their faith disillusioned, and their dignities raped at the hands of these same religious evils—there is hope.

Raise your head, open your heart, awaken your soul—there is sure and certain hope.

There is Grace Instead of Conditions- There is a Gospel that is devoid of fiery judgement, religious condemnation, guilt-trips, “to-do” lists, and people shaming. There is a Gospel where everyone is deemed equal, affirmed, included, and eternally loved and valued. There is a Gospel absent of an angry, vengeful God who requires the murder of His Son and the proper religious responses of His creation in order to forgive and save humanity. There is a Gospel where God loves unconditionally because that’s who He is and can do no other. There is a Gospel that stands against all violence, abuse, and idolatry, and yet, in all these things, is no less biblical. This Gospel is not a fad, a new theology, or some wayward heresy–it’s a person, and that person is Jesus who is pure Grace.

There is Jesus Outside of Church- There is a Jesus who is everywhere and in all things. He is not exclusive to any one location, nation, group, orientation, gender, skin color, tradition, ideology, political party, or even faith system—He is all and in all, nowhere can He be found missing. He is not in public schools only if the people within them are praying or the Bible is being read. He can’t be summoned, controlled, or enticed into favoritism. As much as one may encounter Him in Church, they can encounter Him anywhere and in all things—if they have ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart that is willing. Jesus isn’t just in Church or into Church people, nor a building, or a service—He’s in everyone, everywhere, and everything. He’s into all humanity.

There is Community Beyond a Congregation- Where church congregations are largely organized around agreed beliefs, values, preferences, and purpose, true community is found deeper where all beliefs are honored, love is most highly valued, and purpose is centered on mutual respect, compassion, and human service—diversity is prized, not feared. People love, not out of religious obedience or faith obligation, but because it is who they are and the full essence and nature of the God they worship. No greater form of community is found than at the Jesus-table that extends far beyond the confines of many a congregation into the realm where people simply intersect with people—anytime, anywhere, and anyplace. The planet becomes our sanctuary, loving people becomes our worship service, and all humanity our congregation—no one is excluded, no walls needed.

There is Love without Restriction or Restraint- No more sizing people up or pre-qualifying expressions of Grace. No more wondering and fearing that you could love too much—if that ever could be a thing. No more conditions, fine-print, or exemptions. No more relational distancing out of religious obligations. No more “hate the sin, love the sinner” in order to desensitize your soul and justify condemnation and hate. No more saying “no” when everything in your spirit is saying “yes.” No more separating “truth” and “love” because your heart has been awakened to the revelation “the Truth is Love and Love is the Truth”—one in the same of the blessed Trinity. No more holding back, shrinking back, or turning back—only giving back as God has first given love to you—without restriction or restraint.

There is Freedom above Conformity- There is a spiritual growth that knows no limits and has no bounds. The goal is not conformity to a set of beliefs and convictions, but effortlessly becoming all that you already are by the Grace of Jesus. It’s founded on a trust and declaration that God is bigger than our best thoughts, ideas, conclusions, behaviors, and confessions. His desire is not that we land in a place of determined theological correctness, but that we open our sails to the Spirit to take us wherever Grace might lead us. That we listen to His voice speaking with fresh revelation fills His heart with delight far more than to see our heads buried in pages and verses. You are a free-living, free-thinking, free-aspiring creation and God loves to see you embracing freedom fully.

There is Safety and Strength In Divine Affirmation- You have no one to fear nor owe anyone an explanation. God perfectly loves you and embraces you completely. He affirms you no less than His gaze into a mirror—you are the image of the Divine Creator. Your value and worth have been predetermined. His love, approval, and acceptance or irrevocable and unchanging. That He created you is more than enough to hug you with an embrace that is eternally unbreakable. No ones opinion, voice, declaration, proof-text, or sermon should even begin to matter compared to the ultimate statement of God on your behalf, “it is finished.” God’s love for you—done deal. God’s delight in you—done deal. God’s affirmation of you—done deal. God’s salvation for you—done deal. As is, whoever you are. All is Grace, one and done—you are an unstoppable force of the Father. You are the revival God is bringing to the earth.

There is Forgiveness For The Enemy- To take the highroad and live to love again is not only the cry of your soul but the empowerment you become—free from all that is religious. Never becoming the evil done against you while standing firm to your truth is the beautiful balance centered upon your heart. No longer can one drag you into meaninglessness nor bring out in you a person foreign to grace and graciousness. Even the worst of that done against you is gleaned of its lessons but neutered of its power to possess. Confronted by and collided with a forgiveness that is unlimited compels you to free yourself from the shackles of unforgiveness, that you might never become your own worst enemy. What the evils of religion have stolen from you will become your mandate to no longer give them headspace nor power through being imprisoned to their hate. You refuse to hold onto bitterness, the desire for revenge, or the expectation of change. Those who forgive freely are those who are truly free and show themselves to be fully rescued out of the shadows of conservative Evangelical Christianity.

There is Purpose in the Pain- Standing, resisting, crying out in fierce solidarity. Giving voice to the voiceless, listening where no ears have been willing. Defending and proclaiming the sacred value of all the discarded. Living with a bravery of epic proportions that only a heart captured by Grace could compel. Shouting for equality where there is none. Ranting for justice where there is none. Chasing evils out of their shadows where they have long resided unchallenged. These are the places where one finds the deepest purpose in life—to be fully yourself and fight on behalf of those who know not that joy. Taking the pain of your oppression and the story of your plight that it might empower another to overcome and discover true life.

Don’t give up.

Don’t give in.

There is always hope.

There is always righteous resistance.

There is always the awakening to a new day and a new way.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

The Conservative Christianity That Is Killing You

Sometimes in life, we don’t realize the things silently destroying us from within—false beliefs we have long held to be true, misplaced values we have long embraced as being invaluable. As humans, we can be so attracted to the path of least resistance that we become willing to reject the kind of positive change that would free us from our prisons. To think that we could be wrong, misled, or have wasted our lives on things found to be untrue or uncertain is a daunting proposition of regret we’d just as soon put to death, even if it means resigning ourselves to a life holding fast to the lies.

For years, as an Evangelical pastor, conservative Christianity was gutting me from the inside out, stealing the very life it promised to give. I thought I was breathing the ultimate way of living only to realize I wasn’t breathing at all. Sadly, nothing would have changed had I not been confronted by the pure Gospel of God’s Grace and awakened to the heights from which I had fallen.

In fact, if you hold to the beliefs I once did, you are determined that outside of your conservative, Evangelical way of thinking and believing, there is no other way, no other truth, and no other life. For some, even as you watch your marriage erode, your children suffer the rejection and abandonment of your condemnation, your faith-performance fall short, your hypocrisy grow, and your hate and intolerance overtake you, nothing will loosen the grip you have upon your conservative faith understanding. Even as we speak, your fingers are twitching and your mind is rushing ahead to the bullets you’ll fire in the comment section of this post. You have it all lined up and justified in your mind and heart, along with the biblical passages and interpretations to build your defense.

Yet, little do you know, the conservative Christianity that is killing you. Perhaps you would do best to ask your spouse—even better, to question your children. Ask your enemies, those you deem to be sinning, or with whom you disagree. Ask the females, the minorities, the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender people among you, or perhaps just ask the less fortunate.

If they are honest and objective, they will tell you the dark, diabolical tale of what conservative Christianity has truly done to you.

But if not them, maybe, just maybe, your conscience has been speaking, crying out to be heard. Deep down you sense something isn’t quite adding up, there are pieces all together missing. You quickly subdue the tensions in your soul, the questions that tremble below, and cue the rationalizations. Yet, now is as good a time as any to give way to honesty and awaken to the truth that is so desperately trying to set your free—conservative Christianity is killing you.

It’s Killing Your Inner Peace and Joy– For how can you have any peace when so many things in your conservative faith-understanding are deemed to be unresolved? Your eternity, your closeness with God, your divine acceptance, your faith status—unresolved, unresolved, unresolved. One day you’re close with God, the next you aren’t. One day you’re eternally secure, the next day you’re not. One day your life enjoys the gleam of God’s favor, approval, and acceptance, the next day, it doesn’t. How can there be any peace when so much of your faith and spiritual life hinges upon you, your capacity to believe, believe correctly, and spiritually perform? Nothing is ever settled or certain even if you are convinced you’ve measured up. For it’s impossible to know for sure when your good has been good enough. Maybe there is something God sees that you’ve tragically missed.

In front of the mirror of conservative Christianity, all one can do is pretend, medicate their fears and doubts with self-righteousness, and live a life of angst with one eye open, as even our best days will always fall short of a God who suspiciously gazes upon us through the eyes of an incomplete score card.

And so I ask, with all due respect—where is the joy in pretending? Where is the peace in always having an endless, ever growing list of things one must do, become, and overcome that are in fact impossible to ever satisfy? The spiritual gymnastics required to fool yourself and others into believing you are truly happy and fulfilled are daunting in number and surely a hell-on-earth way of living.

In my experience, if there is one word that could truly describe the real faith-life of conservative Christianity, it wouldn’t be “peace” nor “joy,” it would be—never ending, unresolved PRESSURE.

It’s Killing Your Relationships- For how many miles of emotional and spiritual distance have you carved into your relationships with people because your conservative faith-understanding requires you to do so? You can’t just love for the sake of loving, connect for the sake of connecting, or enjoy people for the sake of enjoying people—that would be preposterous. Rather, every person you meet becomes a kind of spiritual project, a potential convert into your faith-understanding, or a shiny new visitor for your church. You measure people spiritually by what you believe is a God-given specialized capacity to have “discernment,” lest you become unclean, dirty, or condone evil. In order to gauge what kind of relational approach your conservative faith prescribes at any given moment, people and relationships have to be rigorously sifted, sized up, and labeled—lost or found, friend or foe, faithful or unfaithful, real Christian or wolf in sheep’s clothing. More so than not, unless they believe and act like you, people are largely designated as a problem to be fixed—and you, the perfect one to do the fixing. If they resist or even refuse—eventually disagreement becomes disappointment, disappointment becomes disapproval, disapproval becomes distance, distance becomes disconnection, and disconnection becomes damnation. Why? Because the one thing that’s largely missing for your conservative faith-understanding is true, unconditional Love. For love is never love if, based on what another person is or does, it can ever grow into hate, conditions, or condemnation.

And so I ask, with all due respect—how is that religious, relational radar working for you? How about with your family, work, community, or even church? How much true connection, community, and influence do you have with people who look, believe, act, and live differently than you? Jesus had so much that it got Him killed. It wasn’t a conservative faith within Him that nailed him to a tree—far from it. It was the conservative faith around Him that crucified Him and sought to put to death the love-life He came to bring.

In my experience, if there is one word that could truly describe the true relational-life of conservative Christianity, it wouldn’t be “humble,” “transformative,” nor “gracious,” it would be—pretentiously, selfishly STRESSED.

It’s Killing Your Capacity To Love- For how many conditions must you write into the fine print of the love you give? What’s it like always having to pump the brakes, filter compassion, prequalify affirmation, and love half-heartedly? The greatest fear of your conservative faith-understanding is to give too much love, Grace, and acceptance—convinced of the terrible things people would do. Yet ironically, the greatest fear of Jesus was for people to believe in a God who would restrict love and that people could ever give too much—that’s why He came. For either God’s Grace is fully sufficient, or it’s fully not. Wouldn’t you agree?

Yet, your conservative faith-understanding believes that expressing love in its highest form requires one to boldly confront sin, convinced that withholding or limiting love is at times both helpful and necessary in fostering God’s plan. In your mind, love, by itself, is much too soft, impotent, and permissive. In fact, the centrality of your conservative creed rests upon a fear of hell, the wrath of God, and His holiness in sending un-repenting sinners to an eternity of torture. In your mind, it would seem these dark potential realities justify and even demand your conditional love-giving.

However, have you ever considered that because Jesus confronted all sin, once and for all—there is, in actuality, no more confronting to do? In fact, to confront sin with a prescribed fear of any form of divine retribution is to confess the belief that Jesus didn’t confront sin, or do so sufficiently. That’s why Grace, the only power Jesus ever employed in His sin confronting and ultimate defeating, is the only power that awakens people to a change of mind and a heart of faith.

In fact, when people awaken to the scandalous, divine freedom they have in Christ to choose sin without fear of divine retribution, it is then and only then, that sin loses its power and appeal to be a good choice. Sin is disarmed of its capacity to serve as a form of punishment, guilt, and condemnation, and is instead correctly internalized as that which steals, kills, and destroys the good things in our living.

In the end, because your conservative faith-understanding refuses to surrender to Love and love alone, you can’t imagine how Love alone could possibly win over another. Rather, in your mind, they too, like you, must first become religiously imprisoned.

And so I ask, with all due respect—how does it feel to be shackled to a restricted life of giving love with conditions, believing that’s the height and sum of God’s love for you, sadly convinced that love doesn’t win?

In my experience, if there is one word that could truly describe the real love-life of conservative Christianity, it wouldn’t be “compassion,” “passion,” or “mercy,” it would be—fine print filled CONDITIONS.

It’s Killing Your Freedom- For when, by your conservative faith-understanding, the Christian life is seen as little more than a test, how can you ever know the freedom of what it’s like to find spiritual rest? When faithfulness is seen as life of sin-management, how can you ever know the freedom of what it’s like to truly be alive, live, breathe, and be burden free? When Church is seen as a building with a cross on top filled with a club of like-minded people, how can you ever know the freedom of what it’s like to actually be the church—anyplace, anytime, anyhow? When love is seen as requiring conditions, limits, and restrictions, how you can ever know the divine freedom of what it’s like to love unconditionally? When hell hangs over your head, wielded by a bi-polar God who draws close to you one minute but turns his back the next, how can you ever know the effortless freedom of what it’s like to love, worship, and adore Him without fear nor obligation?

And so I ask, with all due respect—why is it that the life your conservative faith-understanding wants me to believe is filled with such immeasurable freedom, feels so much more like a life of unimaginable imprisonment?

In my experience, if there is one word that could truly describe the life-trajectory of conservative Christianity it wouldn’t be “limitless” or “free,” it would be—rule-driven, fear-driven RESTRICTION.

It’s true, conservative Christianity IS killing you—taking what God intended to be a life of peace, joy, human community, unconditional love, and life-giving freedom and raping it into a death sentence of religious pressure, relational stress, conditional love, and fearful restriction.

Sounds a lot more like hell to me.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

Why Trump’s Speech To Congress Should Scare The Crap Out Of You

On Tuesday evening, President Trump gave his first solo speech to Congress. To be sure, speeches are important as are congressional gatherings.

However, what is drastically more important and far more telling than speeches and tender political moments is our response to them—many conservatives, orgasmically licking their chops of jubilation upon Trump’s teleprompted performance. “Now that’s my president!” “It’s Trump 2.0,” “This is the best speech ever given before Congress.”

I was not only unimpressed, but mortified—fearing we have all slipped even deeper into the diabolic “art of the deal.”

For it should be a sad and horrifying day when, in our country, we elect a person as president only to jump for joy when weeks later, based on a speech, he is determined to finally and all the sudden be presidential. Seriously? Are we hearing ourselves? Shouldn’t that have happened a really long time ago? Besides, are speeches now the litmus test to what makes one presidential? I thought “grabbing pussy” was the new norm.

As much as I am trying to look on the bright side, where am I to go from this freakish circus show? I’m trying to give it time, I really am, but if I look towards his actions, the clown appears. If I look towards what he says, the clown appears. Somebody, wake us all up to this nightmare we’re being sold as the American dream—before it’s too late.

It feels like as a nation, we have tragically become the abused, enabling, and codependent spouse who repeatedly falls for flowery speeches, rhetoric, appearances, and empty promises that things “will be great” and the abuser has changed their ways. Have we sunk so low that we actually become delighted and relieved when a person of authority and leadership actually gives signs of having basic levels of decency? That’s not presidential, that’s just coming up to the level of being remotely human.

We have spent far too long blindly giving credence and weight to seductive voices with pricey lifestyles, fame, allure, and wallets. Our narcissism as a nation has postured us for exploitation, especially from among the religiously conservative. Like an alcoholic who knows they have a problem but can’t help themselves away from the Scotch, many have become addicted to whatever new cocktail serves their ideological and personal agendas. What used to be a Statue of Liberty standing as a promise and hope for the “least of these” has become a self-centered, political stripper pole of rationalization, purposed on serving the power of the privileged—scheming to seduce us all into seeing the substandard, abusive, and evil as being standard, healthy, and of God. If only we could see ourselves and the people we have become. 

No, I’m not trying to take anything away from the speech writers or the important moments of Tuesday evening. However, you know you are in bed with the devil when you are so desperate for moments that you can latch onto that serve to convince yourself that you aren’t.

That my friend, is a sure sign of a delusion that should haunt everyone of us.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

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