Meet Mary Elizabeth Webb! The Pennsylvania woman says she’s the Virgin Mary’s cousin 65 times removed. That’s right. She’s related to Jesus’s mom. How does she know? She found out using Ancestry.com!

But Mary’s not really surprised by the news. She’s known for years, through a number of conversations with her dead brother as well as her dead mom and dad, that something was very special about her. Which is why she decided to write a book about heaven.

Meanwhile, no doubt sparked by the recent release of the movie “Heaven is For Real,” this video of David Platt raging a biblical hailstorm against people who take short vacations to Heaven is “>making the rounds.

While I tend to agree with the basic premise of Platt’s point–that God would offer free tours of Heaven is crazy and farfetched–here, the pastor becomes a bit rigid, melodramatic, and elitist in his rebuttal. Again, I don’t believe that Colton Burpo visited Heaven. But I’ll admit that I could be wrong.

But according to Platt, Platt is NOT wrong. Platt is right. Platt knows his Bible. So Platt knows God. And Platt thinks that Burpo kid (and most likely Mary from Pennsylvania) is full of shit.

The first video was found at Christian Nightmares.

So it rained on this Jesus’s Passion Play and so he and his disciples put their clothes on.

 

WARNING!!

Found at Christian Nightmares…

God, forgive us when we hate rather than love, when we hate and call it love, when we love and it feels like hate… for we know not what we do?

God, forgive us when our patriotism lacks purity, when our politics lack goodness, when our worldview is devoid of grace… for we know not what we do?

God, forgive us when we sanctify capitalism and sacrifice the poor, when we justify enterprise and sacrifice the environment, when we erect our values, ideas, and schemes and sacrifice our humanity… for we know not what we do?

God, forgive us when we use our faith to create fear, when we use our doctrines to cast ultimatums, when we use our spiritual ideals as litmus tests against people and groups who do not agree with us… for we know not what we do?

God, forgive us when we suffocate the living, breathing words of God with sexism, intolerance, inequality, racism, certainty, ignorance, intellectualism, pride… for we know not what we do?

God, forgive us when we pursue violence rather than peace, when we seek to divide rather than commune, when we choose to troll rather than pray… for we know not what we do?

God, forgive us when we let jealousy become an excuse for sarcasm, when we use mercy as a way to shame and devalue others, when we Instagram our pride using “humility” as a filter… for we know not what we do?

God, forgive us when we put you against science, when we put you at odds with social justice, when we position you in our corners fighting all of our causes… for we know not what we do?

God, forgive us when we worship scripture instead of Christ, when we bow down to the beliefs and ideas of pastors and gurus instead of the teachings of Christ, when we ignore the Beatitudes in our sermonizing the Book of Romans, when we fail to remember the two greatest commandments in our efforts to get others to remember the great ten… for we know not what we do?

God, forgive us when we turn the Easter season into a show, when we make the resurrection story into a gimmick for church growth, when we transform hope into a sellable brand, a catchy tagline, a three-minute pop song… for we know not what we do?

God, forgive us when we use Christ’s story as way to shout “Crucify him!” one more time… for we know not what we do.

Ten Thousand Kids.

Those are the words that kept ringing inside my brain as I tried to listen to Rich Stearns talk about what happened last week at World Vision.

Ten thousand kids.

Ten thousand brown, black, tan, or white faces…

Ten thousand souls…

And in only 2 days.

As Stearns chatted with a handful of bloggers about why the board made the decision it made and then reversed that decision two days later, those words—TEN THOUSAND KIDS! TEN THOUSAND KIDS!—blinked like a neon sign in my head.

And that was the two-day cost of their decision, a decision to hire married gay folk, a decision that was decided on last fall and leaked to Christianity Today last week. That was the cost.

Last Monday, the day of the announcement, World Vision’s call center received 7000 calls and a loss of 2000 child sponsorships. That’s just in 12 hours on Monday! The following day those numbers swelled. And then on Wednesday, within minutes of World Vision announcing that it was reversing its decision, the calls stopped and, according to Stearns, “the bleeding stopped.”

Rumor is it stopped almost like magic. Almost as soon as the press release hit, the cancellations stopped, the angry phone calls stopped.

It took several days to count the total loss of sponsorships, a number that eventually rose to “just about 10,000 children,” according to Stearns. A handful of people did call back, hoping to start up their sponsorships again. But the majority did not.

And that breaks my heart.

It should break all of our hearts, regardless of whether you praised World Vision’s initial decision or panned it as “godless.”

Even still, those three words should break us friends. Because it’s a number that represents 10,000 needy children, flesh and blood of various races and nationalities, little ones who are precious in God’s sight.

And yet, a large number of so-called born again Christians treated their relationships with their kids like they were little more than subscriptions to HBO. Sure, some people probably stopped sponsoring their kid and began sponsoring another kid through a different organization. But that’s not any better. A child sponsorship is not a product that can be returned and exchanged for a different brand. There’s nothing “moral” about using a kid as a bargaining chip to punish a Christian organization for making a decision that you don’t agree with. There’s nothing honoring about using children to force an organization’s hand. There’s nothing “pro life” about that. There’s nothing remotely “Christlike” about that. It’s downright disgusting, manipulative, and sad. If I was a Pentecostal, I might even call it demonic.

Not only do a lot of Christians wage war against flesh and blood, they’re willing to use child sponsorship as their weapons… like little ransom notes…

May God have mercy…

May light shine on all of us…

May we wake up from our intolerant slumber…

If you’re interested in sponsoring a child through World Vision, you can do that here.

On Monday evening, while eating a late dinner, we watched The Voice. Elias, my five-year-old, is the slowest eater on the planet and without fail, is always the last one in the family to finish his meal. As Jessica and I began taking plates and cups to the kitchen and folding up TV trays, Elias shouts  “Daddy! Daddy, is that a boy or a girl? Because they look like a boy and a girl. I can’t tell.”

I walked back into the living room and Elias, wearing a slight curious grin, further explained his comment. “Daddy, this singer…” He points at the television. “They sounded like a girl, but they looked sort of like a girl and a boy.” As he tried to explain, his five-year-old brain was working over time, trying his hardest to put into words what he was thinking. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “It was funny.”

I stopped what I was doing, turned the television’s volume down, and gave him my full attention. “Well, buddy, here’s the thing. Sometimes it is hard to tell if a person is a boy or a girl. Even daddy finds it hard to tell sometimes.”

“But why?” he said.

“It really depends. Sometimes a person makes a choice to dress more like a boy or girl and other times they dress or look a certain way because that’s how God made them…”

And just before I was about to lose his attention, I added, “but the important thing is to love people no matter what they look like and to not to poke fun. Okay? Because that’s what God asks us to do. We love people no matter who they are…”

Now, the truth is, I doubt that Elias fully comprehended that short conversation. And that’s okay. I, however, did comprehend it. And though it was a short exchange, it was another step in a long journey toward instilling the value of love and acceptance into my son’s psyche, to equip him with the freedom and grace to love and value all people.

As a parent, I think a lot about what I’m proactively teaching my kids. Because I want my words to empower them to think about God and life differently than how I was raised to think. But it’s not just that. My prayer for my kids is that God will allow them to be a part of the path forward, that their little minds would be protected from prejudices, that they will love actively all people.

That’s a mouthful, I know. And perhaps it’s a lofty goal, an idea that only happens on “Care Bears” or “Sesame Street.” But why shouldn’t we try to give our kids the tools to embrace all people? Sure, unreasonable and hateful people will eventually come into their lives. But my hope is that they won’t be the people who do the hating or who are unreasonable or who bully others. And learning those lessons begin at home. And I’d rather those lessons be proactively presented by me, somebody they know and trust, somebody who they see and interact with all the time, somebody who has apologized to them on a number of occasions for using a mean or ugly tone when talking to them.

I know a lot of Christians talk about wanting to change the world. Which is all fine and good, I suppose. But honestly, that’s not what I wake up thinking about everyday. The thoughts and ideas that consume my heart are centered on how I’m going to empower my kids to love. I want to gift them with the permission to be abundant in their affections for others. I want to do my best to not weigh down their heads and hearts with a list of people or ideas that limit or complicate their understanding of God, God’s love, and God’s hope that we will love people—all people.

I want to empower them with a grace so big that they love dangerously, without fear, without all of the “Christian stuff” that so many of us had to overcome in order to love. Cuz love shouldn’t be something that people must survive, it should empower them to live, thrive, and hope.

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