Tag: jesus (Page 1 of 25)

I’m Trying To Hold Onto My Faith

I’m trying to hold onto my faith. 

I really am.

But I can’t deny what I’m seeing, I can’t deny what I’m feeling.

 

I used to look forward to church, like a cozy spiritual blanket. I found community, purpose, solitude, and the presence of the sacred. But now, it feels so dirty, empty, contrived, and plastered with privilege. I can’t even breathe at the thought of ever returning.

 

I’m trying to hold onto my faith, I really am.

 

I used to sing the worship songs with such purity and freedom, but now I cringe every time I hear them, like anthems of a cult. It’s hard to separate the melodies from the self-righteousness that now rings within them.

I used to read the Bible, without fear or an agenda. I would hear what I needed to hear without even a thought of weaponizing it. But now, it’s so black and white, right or wrong, in or out. The stuff of narcissists, control freaks, swindlers, and brainwashers. If God was ever in it, He certainly isn’t now.

 

I’m trying to hold onto my faith, but it isn’t easy.

 

I used to serve alongside you, like friends on a mission to love the world. But now, it seems you just want to change me, control me, and make me just like you. It’s like I’m not even a person, just a project, a notch on your belt.

Now, the only thing I have left is Jesus, and you make Him so creepy. I’m constantly having to pull Him free in my mind from all the unloving things you’ve made of Him. 

 

I’m trying to hold onto my faith.

I promise. I really am.

 

But it seems the more I let go, the further I walk away, the more I think for myself and feel from my soul, the more loving, caring, compassionate, humane, at peace, and Christ-like I actually become.

I thought I was following, I thought I was loving, but I actually wasn’t following or loving at all.  Just empty.

I’m sorry, I just can’t do it anymore. No more faking, no more conforming, no more judging, no more hating. 

 

I’m not sure what you’re holding onto, but I’m letting go.

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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!”

Evangelical Christian, What The Hell Did You Expect Me To Do?

What the hell did you expect me to do?

You told me to love my neighbors, to model the life of Jesus. To be kind and considerate, and to stand up for the bullied.

You told me to love people, consider others as more important than myself. “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.” We sang it together, pressing the volume pedal and leaning our hearts into the chorus.

You told me to love my enemies, to even do good to those who wish for bad things. You told me to never “hate” anyone and to always find ways to encourage people.

You told me it’s better to give than receive, to be last instead of first. You told me that money doesn’t bring happiness and can even lead to evil, but taking care of the needs of others brings great joy and life to the soul.

You told me that Jesus looks at what I do for the least-of-these as the true depth of my faith. You told me to focus on my own sin instead of trying to police it in others. You told me to be accepting and forgiving.

 

I paid attention.

I took every lesson.

And I did what you told me.

 

But now, you call me a libtard. A queer-lover.

You call me “woke.” A backslider.

You call me a heretic. A child of the devil.

You call me a false prophet. A reprobate leading people to gates of hell.

You call me soft. A snowflake. A socialist.

 

What the hell did you expect me to do?

 

You passed out the “WWJD” bracelets.

I took it to heart.

I thought you were serious, apparently not.

 

We were once friends. But now, the lines have been drawn. You hate nearly all the people I love. You stand against nearly all the things I stand for. I’m trying to see a way forward, but it’s hard when I survey all the hurt, harm, and darkness that comes in the wake of your beliefs and presence.

 

What the hell did you expect me to do?

 

I believed it all the way.

I’m still believing it all the way.

Which leaves me wondering, what happened to you?

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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!”

Some Of The Best Followers Of Jesus Aren’t Christian

Some of the best followers of Jesus aren’t Christian.

That’s right.

Catch your breath.

God doesn’t need you to believe in Jesus. Jesus doesn’t need you to believe in Jesus. He lives far beyond belief statements, doctrine, biblical scholarship, orthodoxy, and theology. He doesn’t align Himself to “right” believing, can’t be beamed into your presence through properly prayed prayers, nor suctioned into your heart through correct words of genuinely “genuine” contrition.

God doesn’t give a rip about what you think about Jesus. Whether He is the son of God or a pre-incarnation of Elvis, born of a virgin or an alien from another planet, or died on the cross for your sins or pulled a David Blaine and never died at all.

As one Scripture writer discovered, beliefs only upgrade you to the level of demons. That’s the company mere beliefs keep. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

Instead, Jesus is a way of life, not a way of belief.

“Whatever you “do” for them, you do it unto ‘Me.'”

For Jesus, belief is always connected, not to what you line up in your head, but ultimately to if and how you love. And when you love the way He loves, He counts it as faith, whether you believe or not.

And make no mistake, Christianity doesn’t have the corner market on love, not even close. In fact, many Christians want to regulate it, control it, prequalify people for it, and flat out stand against it. And Jesus just wants to spit it all out of His mouth and deny He even knows us.

So, maybe it’s best we check our Christianity at the door, because some of the best followers of Jesus aren’t Christians.

They don’t see Jesus as a Savior from a Hell wielding God, a religious mascot cheering the privileged into battle to colonize and conquer the world, nor a path of escape and eternal life for an elite group of people who cracked the code of God’s selective acceptance and approval.

Some are Atheist humans, Jewish humans, Muslim humans, Agnostic Humans–any and every other kind of non-Christian humans.

In fact, some of the best followers of Jesus don’t realize they are following Jesus at all. They love because it’s love, and love is the best way to live.

Church, Bible, rules, creeds, fear, conformity, to-do steps, and inviting Jesus into your heart… not required.

 

Only love.

Love only.

 

That’s it.

That’s everything

The only thing, to Jesus.

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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!”

 

 

 

 

 

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I Can’t Vote Republican, The Bible Tells Me So

I just can’t do it.

I refuse to do it.

My faith is grounded.

You can pressure me, guilt me, shame me, and lure me with gold.

Not locally, not nationally, not at all.

I can’t vote Republican, the Bible tells me so.

Not just tells me, but screams it into my soul.

 

Starting with abortion. 

The Scripture writer declared, “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” Jeremiah 6:14-16 

In this passage from the Bible, God is upset. The religious people of the day are exploiting harmful problems for personal, political gain and not addressing their true solutions. They act like they care, but intentionally allow the issues to remain unresolved. They outwardly insist that they desire a way forward, but inwardly they have no real desire at all. 

Sadly, Republicans treat “abortion” the same. They outwardly declare that they are “pro-life” and detest abortion. They feverishly rant against how many “babies” are being murdered. Many make abortion their defining issue as to the reason why they deserve our vote. They posture themselves as wanting to make it illegal, as if that was the cure. It all looks and sounds so spiritual to the casual observer. Yet, inwardly, they have little-to-no heart for a real solution. For if they did, they would be addressing, providing for, and adopting the proven remedies that positively impact abortion. But, they don’t. 

Instead, with deceit, they want to keep the abortion issue alive because it manipulates their voters. It’s a political false flag. The last card they have in their deck. Without it, they have no drum to beat and no provocative enemy upon which to summon their troops to fight. In fact, Dana Loeash vocalized the true mindset and heart Republicans have towards abortion…

“Keep in mind that I am concerned about one thing, and one thing only at this point. I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles. I want control of the Senate.”

For them, it’s ultimately not about life, it’s ultimately about power. Republicans want to create the illusion that they lead the way against abortion while making sure it remains unresolved, that they might remain in power. In fact, perfectly credible and widely known statistics show that abortion rates have gone down significantly with the kind of Democratic leadership that approaches abortion wholistically and addresses the real issues that can bring real change. Yet sadly, these same statistics reveal that under Republican leadership, abortion significantly increases. I’m not siding with Democrats, that’s just the facts. Yet, Republicans “do not even know how to blush” at the truth about abortion, how they exploit it, and how they resist actual remedies. Instead, they declare “Pro-life, pro-life” where there is no pro-life among them. All in hopes of drowning the biblical voice crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the ways of the Lord to heal abortion and cure its causes.”  

Like most people, I detest abortion. I want to see it become a non-issue in our society. I want to see it remedied by real people who really care, who are willing to apply the difficult, but real solutions that work. I’m tired of people who are more interested in politics than life.

That’s why I can’t vote Republican, the Bible tells me so.

 

Or, how about their refusal to support meaningful gun reform.

With an epidemic of mass shootings that kill innocent people, including children, Republicans refuse to adopt meaningful gun restrictions. Instead, their sense of being a Christian involves owning and carrying, not just guns, but weapons of war. For them, their God embraces the ways of violence and the use of force to assert His will. And of course, somehow Republicans have the exclusive discernment to know exactly what God’s will is, and the special divine authority to use it.

Yet, while refusing to wear masks during a pandemic because, “God will protect us” and “my body, my choice,” they somehow feel the necessity and demand the right to carry an AR-15 into Walmart for, “self protection.” In fact, Republicans in Texas are now providing schools with DNA kits to identify children killed in mass shootings. So, instead of passing meaningful laws that will protect kids from guns, they want to make it easier to identify their unrecognizable bodies. So, this is pro-life, patriotic, and in concert with the ways of Jesus? This is the best we can do for America?

Ironically, the very Jesus most Republicans claim to serve and the Bible they love to quote have a lot to say about violence that, apparently, Republicans have developed a special gift for ignoring.

“He [Messiah] was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” Isaiah 53:9

In other words, if Jesus is the Messiah long foretold, as most Republicans believe, He didn’t commit violence nor condone it. That’s right, there is no such thing as an ass-kicking, gun carrying, Rambo flexing Jesus. Period. End of conversation.

In fact, when Peter misunderstood Jesus as being open to the use of swords for violence and therefore cut off the ear of a man sent to arrest Jesus, Jesus rebuked Peter saying, Put your sword back in its place. For all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Matthew 26: 51-52

Or, how about these words, among countless others…

“The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” Psalm 11:5

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:38-39

I want to live in an America where there are meaningful, effective gun laws that prevent mass shootings and protect children from murderous violence. I want my children and grandchildren to grow up in a nation where “pro-life” actually means embracing all of life—safeguarding it, and creating a society free from the fear of violence and those who would embrace it as a way of righteousness.  

That’s why I can’t vote Republican, the Bible tells me so. 

 

And then, their desperate pursuit to nationalize their brand of Christianity.

“Today Christianity stands at the head of this country. I pledge that I never will tie myself to those who want to destroy Christianity. In short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past few years.”

Most, if not all, Republicans would applaud these words and gladly adopt them as their own thoughts and feelings. Yet, these words were actually spoken by Hitler in pursuit of gaining power and ultimately the genocide of millions of Jewish humans—men, women, children, and babies.

Republicans don’t hide it, they want a Christian nation. Not just a Christian nation, but rather, a Christian nation based solely on their brand of Christianity. They believe America was founded as a Christian nation to espouse the beliefs and values of current Christian Republicans. They believe God uniquely created and blesses America above and beyond all other nations. In their minds, besides them, there is no other group, faith, or kind of person that is as knowing, equipped, divinely favored, and discerning to rule America towards what they believe God and the founders intended for our country. With their publicly stated desire and vision to do everything and anything to “own the libs” and when they refuse to support and approve good things for the country simply because they don’t want any success for the Democrats, Republicans don’t believe in a democracy equally for all, but rather a rulership calibrated towards their brand of faith, values, and beliefs. A rulership that demands compliance and allegiance by its citizens, and ultimately the rest of the world. 

Yet, there is no such thing as a Christian nation.

It doesn’t exist.

It can’t exist.

Not a chance.

Not with Christ.

For Christ cannot be nationalized. He refuses the platform. He rejects any and all power established through vote, people, government, or popularity. He seeks no political party, no people group, and no established system of organization.

He cannot be colonized, weaponized, militarized, bulldozed into existence, marched down the street, hammered by a gavel, or flown over a stadium.

He dwells outside of walls, structures, and human constructs. He tears down all that would cage Him, franchise Him, leverage Him, and hoist Him upon a flag.

For Jesus lives in the margins, the cracks, the undefined, and the unconstituted. He cannot be legislated, demarcated, or plotted on a map.

Far beyond theology, denominations, creeds, rules, religion, news networks, social media, speeches, conferences, prayer formulas, mission statements, worship centers, bibles, and books.

He blesses all. Lives in all. Claims all… equally.

He is all, in all, and for all, or He means nothing at all.

There is no budget that can commandeer him, no army that can assert Him, no democracy that can elect Him, no dictator that can enforce Him, and no office, house, branch, or anthem that can contain Him.

In fact, you can surely be sure that any person, group, or effort to nationalize Him is not of Him. Not even close.

“The first will be last and the last will be first.” Matthew 20:16

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourself.” Philippians 2:3

“Our citizenship is in heaven.” Philippians 3:20

“You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24

“These people worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Matthew 5:8

Within every call, drumbeat, and chorus of Republicans to nationalize Christianity is the screaming confession that, “we have not, believe not, and worship not Jesus.”

I want to live in a country where Republican Christians strive to actually live like Jesus instead of nationalizing their obvious hatred of His ways and their love of power and supremacy.

That’s why I can’t vote Republican, the Bible tells me so.

 

Enter the immigrant, refugee, and the foreigner.

No one wants illegal immigration or open borders as a national policy, regardless of how Republicans label the position of progressives. Once again, Republicans seem to relish in creating issues that aren’t real to deflect from addressing the ones that are.

Yet, If America becomes a “Christian” nation, what happens when immigration (illegal or not) happens? How, biblically, are we to treat the foreigners and immigrants among us, no matter how they arrive? What happens with refugees who come to our border? And, how are we to biblically treat those who seek asylum and new life within our country?

The Bible has crystal clear answers.

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” Exodus 22:21

“When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as a citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt:  I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner.” Leviticus 19:9-10

“As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.” (1 Kings 8:41-44)

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:5

“For the Lord your God…loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.  You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:18-19

“The Lord watches over the strangers…” Psalm 146

“The aliens shall be to you as citizens, and shall also be allotted an inheritance.” Ezekiel 47:21

“…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:31 (Jesus speaking)

Notice, Jesus doesn’t say they, “caged me,” “abused me,” “neutered me,” “separated me from family,” “starved me,” “made immigration nearly impossible for me,” “mocked me,” “slandered me,” “deceived me,” “tricked me,” “flew me on airplanes as a political stunt, only to abandon me” or “murdered me.”  

No, he said of His true followers, they “welcomed” me. 

Sadly, this is not the policy of Republicans, even the ones who claim their faithfulness to the Bible and its “infallible inerrancy.” Instead, what God clearly admonishes, they vehemently resist.  

For if you take the Scriptures seriously, the immigrant, the refugee, and the foreigner should not just be “welcomed” with sacrificial hospitality, but “wanted” as God’s own favored blessing. They should be lifted high among all others. They should be loved, protected, and provided for with the same passion we love, protect, and provide for ourselves. They are not to be objects of resentment, oppression, rejection, exploitation, or inconvenience. Rather, they should be honored as angels sent from above. They are us, and we are them. For in Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Gentile.”

I want a country in sync with God’s heart for the immigrant, the foreigner, the alien, and refugee. I want a country in step with God’s biblical, unconditional “welcome,” “want,” and generous care for those outside of our borders who desire to come, live, and find new life within us.  

That’s why I can’t vote Republican, the Bible tells me so. 

 

But perhaps, most of all, loving your neighbor as yourself.

“‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Matthew 12:31

“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” Matthew 5:44

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

As a former white, Republican, conservative Evangelical pastor of 20 years, I know deeply how the system works. I’m not trying to slam the faith or the people within it, but the unbiblical evils must be chased out of the shadows, especially the hate of love that is so rampant among so many.

For most everything within the Republican vision and mission isn’t focused on having a neighbor to love, but rather based upon having an enemy that must be hated. Fear of these enemies is the ultimate motivator, not love. They will create it, fabricate it, and inflame it. 

For Republicans are nothing without fear and the hate it awakens…

…if we love minorities as ourselves, they’ll take over the country and all of society, and we’ll lose our white way of life, and white power. 

…if we love black people as ourselves with true equality, true police accountability, true legal fairness, true economic justice, and true opportunity, we’ll have to admit our racism and white privilege, lose our white way of life, and surrender our white power.

…if we love our wives as ourselves and remove the requirement that they must submit to us unquestionably, they’ll take over the family, usurp male power, and run America and society into the ground.

…if we love the LGBTQ community as ourselves, our Republican patriarchal power will be dismantled, God will punish our life, and all of white, male-driven, conservative Christianity will be flushed down the drain.

…if we love special needs people as ourselves, we’ll have to make an honored and equal place for them in society, overpowering our “normal” lives with inconvenience.

…if we love the least-of-these as ourselves with economic equality, free health care, free college, a living wage, social security, long-term care, and the removal of poverty, we won’t be able to fund our industrial military complex and foster our diabolical economic system of socialism for top and capitalism for the bottom.  

…if we love the environment as ourselves with significant building and development restrictions, environmental controls, and clean energy standards and investments, we won’t be able to feed our insatiable appetites for economic and personal greed. 

“Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.‘” -Matthew 25:41-45

“He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty.” -Proverbs 22:16

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” -Ezekiel 16:49

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” James 2:8-9

See, where God admonishes that our highest motivation should be the unconditional love and care for all of humanity equally, in contrast, there is truly no other fuel that drives the Republican Death Star more than having enemies to fear, hate, marginalize, fight, and treat unequally.

This is why Republicans have the addictive support and allegiance of most conservative Evangelicals and Trump supporters. For the only thing they understand is fear, and Republicans speak their language like no other. They mock special needs people, bully perceived enemies, embrace racism, foster white supremacy, mistreat women, ignite division, worship greed, and love themselves above all things.

Biblically, this is the ultimate blaspheme of the Spirit.

To see love as the enemy.

To see fear as the friend.

To see enemies as the goal.

To fight at all cost, with lies, violence, duplicity, and sin.

To see a white, conservative, Republican, American Jesus as the way, truth, and life.

To see white, conservative Evangelicalism as the Kingdom.

I want leaders with whom love is greater than fear. I want a country where to love all people equally is a friend and not an enemy. I want the character of a great person, a great society, a great economy, and a great nation to be defined by their love for all people equally, not fear nor hate. 

That’s why I can’t vote Republican—

not locally, not nationally, not at all

—the Bible tells me so.

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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!”

 

 

Conservative Evangelicals, What Are You Afraid Of?

You want me to believe that your brand of faith is centered on love. That you love Jesus, love people, and love truth above all else. Yet, if I’m honest, so much of what I see in you is fear. Fear here, fear there, fear everywhere. Which makes it all the more confusing, given that your own Bible insists, “there is no fear in love.”

Like, I see you banning books. What are you afraid of? 

Is your truth so fragile, your parenting so ineffectual, and the power of your God so impotent that you can’t trust them to withstand the words, thoughts, perspectives, and experiences of others? What kind of love is that? With all due respect, it looks a lot like fear.

I see you standing against true human equality. What are you afraid of? 

Is your identity, faith, and sense of self-worth so brittle that you can’t love yourself without lowering others–lording and demanding your privilege and superiority above all. Do you not trust God to care for your needs while equally meeting the needs of others? Is your identity in Christ not enough for your security, satisfaction, peace of mind, and self-assurance when you compare yourself and your life to others? What kind of love is that? I gotta tell you, it looks a lot like fear.

I see you condemning, shaming, and marginalizing the LGBTQ community. I mean, really, what are you afraid of?

Is your own sexuality so in question that you fear your own truth? Is your faith so thin and your ignorance so thick that you actually believe that being LGBTQ is a kind of virus one can catch? Does the silence of Jesus on the subject and the false translations of Scriptures used to condemn the LGBTQ community scare you so much that you have to condemn the LGBTQ community yourself because you don’t want people to find out that the Holy Spirit doesn’t? What kind of love is that? In all honesty, my friend, it looks a lot like fear.

I see you pushing to nationalize your faith and force it upon society. What are you afraid of?

Is your Gospel, reputation, and “love” for others so unappealing and your Holy Spirit so uncompelling that you need to mandate your faith into the lives of others in order to preserve its existence and give you power? What kind of love is that? No doubt about it, it looks a lot like fear.

I see you resisting and abusing immigrants. You gotta be kidding me, what are you afraid of? 

Is your faith so dependent upon and protected by your brutal selfishness that to share space, blessings, dignity, respect, and existence with anyone different threatens the downfall of all of it? What kind of love is that? It looks a lot like fear.

I see you rejecting meaningful gun reform. My God, what are you afraid of? 

That your toxic version of masculinity, upon which your brand of faith was founded, won’t survive without guns and the ability to kill? That without the capacity to threaten, intimidate, use violence, and force yourself and your beliefs, you and your faith system have no defense or power? That your God is so impotent and feeble that He needs aggression, weapons of war, and male domination to do His will? What kind of love is that? No mistake, it looks a lot like fear.

I see you denying women’s rights. What are you afraid of? 

Is your faith so male-created, male-driven, male-codependent, male-insecure, male-immature, and male-fabricated that embracing the equal value, gifts, abilities, rights, respect, and dignity of women would send it crashing to the ground? Is your God so intimidated by females and insecure with His own divinity that He has to subdue and hide their true value, capacity, and power from the universe? What kind of love is that? There’s no denying, it looks a lot like fear.

I see you demonizing the poor and vulnerable. I mean, come on, what are you afraid of? 

That people will see that poverty is your creation, not the poor’s? That you could solve it, but choose not to? That you worship socialism for the top and harsh capitalism for everyone else? That you benefit from keeping the poor and vulnerable remaining poor and vulnerable? That your “success” and their “failure” comes from a rigged system that benefits you and unfairly burdens them? That your ultimate attraction to helping the poor and the less fortunate is in colonizing them into your faith Empire? What kind of love is that? It looks a lot like fear, and lots of it.

And then I see you embracing sin and spiritually justifying immorality when it serves your purposes. What are you afraid of?

Is your faith so impotent that it needs to cheat, steal, lie, bully, and deceive in order to get its way? Are righteousness, humbleness, holiness, kindness, and goodness not good enough for you? Is your God so weak, frail, and inferior that, at times, He needs to conspire with darkness and partner with evil in order to survive and achieve His will? What kind of love is that? Because it walks, talks, and looks a lot like fear.

For Jesus says nothing to condemn the LGBTQ community, nothing to ban books, nothing to stand against true human equality, nothing to nationalize your faith, nothing to resist and abuse immigrants, nothing to reject non-violence, nothing to deny women’s rights, nothing to demonize the poor and vulnerable, nothing to embrace sin and spiritually justify immorality. But instead, He demands in endless litany “do not fear.” 365 times. Over and over again.

Yet still, you choose to condemn the LGBTQ community, ban books, stand against true human equality, nationalize your faith, resist and abuse immigrants, reject meaningful gun laws, deny women’s rights, demonize the poor and vulnerable, and embrace sin and spiritually justify immorality.

There is no fear in love, but apparently, there is certainly fear in you.

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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!”

 

 

 

My Evangelical Friend, Why Don’t You Just Be Honest?

My Evangelical friend.

I’ve been where you are, walked the same journey. I know the Evangelical faith, system, and way of life. Twenty-two years as a pastor within it. Lived it. Breathed it. Gave my life to it.

Until I was honest, about the person I had become. Selfish, judgemental, manipulative, and deceived. Nothing like Jesus. Evangelicalism stole everything holy within me and poured gasoline on my vulnerabilities.

I know deep down inside, you feel it too. But quickly cover it over, lecture yourself with talking points, and frantically summon your heart back to going through the motions. Doing your best to convince yourself and those around you that you’re “sold out” to the “one true faith.”

Can we just be honest?

It’s not working, is it? Any of it. The only thing that gets better is our ability to fake it. Our best efforts at sin management eventually and always break down, sinning more not less. You know it’s true. We play the part and put on the appearances, but deep down we’re living a secret, hollow hell. Running ragged on a religious treadmill that goes nowhere, pretending it’s the best way, the highest truth, and the ultimate life.

Why don’t you just be honest?

It’s ok. Unwrap from the Evangelical burial clothes that mummify your soul. Listen to the cries of your heart to be free. There’s no shame or condemnation.

Deep down you know God is bigger than a Bible, more loving than a hell, and your understanding of truth is just as fallible and limited as the rest of us. You know you’re just as broken and fragile as any other. The Evangelical faith is but sinking sand disguised as a rock solid path. It’s a white-washed tomb that microwaves our lives—appearing done on the outside yet remaining frozen within.

Why don’t you just be honest?

You kinda enjoy the Evangelical feeling that you’re better than others, more favored, and uniquely in step with God. You like the rush of the “us” versus “them” battle. You find security and self-worth in having a spiritual justification to set yourself above and apart from others. It’s all a bit intoxicating, isn’t it? It’s ok to admit it. Been there, done that. It’s hard to resist.

So, why don’t you just be honest?

Deep down, there’s a question mark, a check in your spirit as to why you have to keep pre-qualifying people for love, put limits on compassion, be against so many good things, and do so much to appease and keep the gleam of what is supposed to be an all-loving and gracious God.

You wonder why you have to constantly turn off your brain to make sense of the teachings of your faith. You wonder what could possibly be so dangerous about giving value to science, critical thinking, equality, and education. You wonder how truthful and secure a faith can be if it needs to ban books, gain political power, and condemn those it deems to be the enemy in order to preserve and prosper its beliefs.

Why don’t you just be honest?

You look into the mirror. It’s hard to gaze at your reflection. You know your best efforts never seem to be enough. You do all the steps, prayer formulas, and spiritual disciplines, and it never adds up. You live with one eye open wondering if God sees through to the real you. If you could mess up too far. If your faith is strong enough, if you’re doing enough, if you’re genuine enough, if your good will ever be good enough.

Underneath your religious posturing and appearances of strength, you wonder if God really supports your gatekeeping, people condemning, and power grabbing. You wonder if you and your Christian friends would still be excited about being a Christian if you didn’t have anything to be against, and love was the only thing you were commanded and allowed to pursue. Deep down it’s all unraveling, isn’t it?

Why don’t you just be honest?

Because, if in doing so you fall away, most certainly the Spirit will draw you back and convict you of your waywardness.

But, if in doing so, you find yourself following Jesus out of Evangelicalism into freedom and life, you’ll be truly free and truly living… at last.

Either way, God’s got your back.

So, why don’t you just be honest?

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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!”

 

 

 

No, We’re Not Denying God

You say we’re denying God, that we have rebelled and walked away. It so easily rolls off your lips. A go-to response against the things and people you seem to detest.

What you’ll never admit. The truth you’ll never face is that we’re not denying God, we’re simply denying you.

We’re walking away from a faith that makes us less like Jesus. A faith that hurts where it should heal and condemns where it should affirm. A faith that judges the world and excuses itself, instead of judging itself and seeing the good in the world.  A faith built on the pursuit of power over others instead of pursuing love and the humble serving of all humanity.

We’re not denying God, we’re just not following you.

We refuse to prequalify people for love. To live life on self-righteous terms. To exploit the vulnerable. To marginalize the different. To give safe harbor to racism and white supremacy. To serve barbaric systems of power-driven patriarchy. To bow to a spiritual narcissism that weaponizes the Bible, justifies your sin while condemning others, and turns God into a monster who seems to live only under the beds of those you deem to be the enemy.

You say we’re denying God. Nope, we’re just denying you.

We’re tired of playing church, and stacking the spiritual deck against the world on behalf of our benefit. We’re tired of “thoughts and prayers” that lack genuine care. We’re tired of a “pro-life” that is really just pro-your-life. We’re tired of prayer formulas, to-do steps, and a monsterous conditional god who is codependent on humanity to act so that He can.

So, perhaps stop blaming our lack of faith, and take a good look at the evil within yours.

Cause we’re not denying God, we’re simply denying you.

.

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!”

 

 

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.

.

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!”

 

Toxic Masculinity From A Toxic God

*trigger warning: abuse

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Thoughts lead to feelings. Feelings lead to actions. Actions lead to attitudes. Attitudes lead to behaviors.

 

It’s no wonder that many within the conservative brands of Christianity have adopted a toxic masculinity not unlike the god in which they subscribe. Believing in a vengeful, callous, narcissistic, exclusive, male, and patriarchal god will most certainly lead to feeling and behaving in much the same way and defining masculinity with much the same attributes and attitudes.

 

With an insistence on a literal interpretation of the Bible and a claim to holding the one true understanding of it, many conservative Christians have shaped God into a white-bearded man who is always right, always justified in his actions no matter how questionable, has little to no compassion nor emotional connection, and gets what he wants when he wants it. It’s as if they have created God in their own image instead of embracing the image in which God has created all people. In fact, it’s interesting that, in their minds, God is somehow always supporting and siding with their thoughts, beliefs, actions, attitudes, and behaviors as if God is under their authority and direction instead of the other way around.

 

For when your best ideas for “masculinity” are to become more aggressive, controlling, forceful, stern, abrasive, self-centered, emotionally distant, and entitled while becoming less compassionate, patient, kind, gentle, loving, peaceful, sacrificial, and emotionally accessible. You have not only betrayed God’s design for all humanity, you are blaspheming the fruit of the Spirit and sabotaging their growth and manifestation in men. Period.

 

According to their own creeds, “In Christ, there is neither male nor female.” Men don’t get an exemption from being like Jesus nor an excuse for living in ways contrary to His graciousness, patience, humility, humbleness, tenderness, compassion, mercy, and softness. To pull these divine threads out of the tapestry of masculinity is to cut Jesus out of masculinity. You can’t be a male “in Christ” without them being lived and manifested in your life. Being a loving, peaceful, temperate, emotional, agreeable, nurturing, warm, and gentle person is not reserved for nor assigned merely to women. There’s nothing inherently complementarian about being male or female, there is only being fully human—with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

 

Make no mistake, what so many conservative Evangelicals fear most is men actually following and becoming like Jesus. All their power, privilege, patriarchy, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and bigotry rests on the spiritual and emotional immaturity of men. That’s why they fight so vehemently to control “masculinity” and the masculine narrative. Make God look like a man just like them, and their boys will become just like them too. Never let them see the true Jesus. Never let them think, feel, and behave beyond their testosterone-driven image. Never let them exchange a narcissistic, poisonous distortion of masculinity for the beauty of being Jesus—fully human; of and with the divine.

 

I remember the time, as a 10 year old, when I was frightened by the story of God drowning the people in the flood. My mother comforted me by saying, “God created rainbows to remind us He’d never do that again.” As if God just had a bad day, and accidently stormed out of heaven like a drunk stumbling out of a bar, and committed genocide. Nothing to see here. Nothing that a rainbow can’t fix. “I’ll never do it again, I promise” says God. “Boys will be boys” says Evangelicals. 

 

I also remember the time, as a 6 year old, when I walked down the stairs from my bedroom into the living room to see that my dad had my mom tied up with a rope on the couch. Their fighting had woken me up, again. When he saw me looking around the corner, he told me it was to “control her” because she was, “out of control.”

 

Ropes, rainbows—symbols of abuse, not care.

Promises from a narcissist of more narcissism, not change or hope.

Confessions of toxic masculinity born from a toxic God.

 

Love doesn’t need rainbows or ropes; manipulation or control, aggression or compliance.

Masculinity doesn’t either—it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth

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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!”

 

Evangelicals, You’ve Got Nothing

You’ve got nothing.

Not one thing.

 

You come at me with a god whose record is far more evil than mine.

You come at me with a Bible whose own believers can’t agree upon what is says and means.

You come at me with a way of life that scatters the broken and gathers the judgemental.

You come at me with a church that serves itself and polices the world, instead of serving the world and policing itself.

You come at me with an attitude convinced that you’re right and everyone else is wrong, while never seeing the wrongs that you insist are so right.

You come at me with a message oozing with guilt, depravity, and shame, all so you can fix me.

You come at me with a salvation that involves damnation, and expect me to receive it.

 

You wonder why I don’t run to your side. Why I don’t genuflect to your creeds. Why I don’t weaken at the knees upon the sounds of your believing.

You’ve got nothing. That’s why.

 

Nothing of beauty.

Nothing of healing.

Nothing of hope.

Nothing of Jesus.

 

You can back up with your driveling diatribes that insist it’s all because I lack the Light to receive truth and divine revelation. Your spiritual date drugs no longer bewitch me.

 

Let me see you bloodied in battle for human equality.

Let me see you mocked and maligned for your solidarity with the religiously condemned.

Let me see you broke from your generosity towards the outcasts of society.

Let me see you hoarse from your protests against Christian nationalism, systemic racism, and white supremacy.

Let me see you gasping for air from your relentless charges across the moats of patriarchy.

Let me see you bruised and battered from shielding the LGBTQ community against the weaponizing of Scripture.

Let me see you in tears from the condemnation of your loving too much and too unconditionally.

 

Until then, you’ve got nothing.

Not for yesterday, not for today, not for tomorrow.

Not for me.

Nothing.

.

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!”

 

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