Is there anything Christian about this? Yes, sadly, there is…

In fact, there’s a lot that’s Christian about this sign. Now none of this has anything with Jesus–even John 3:16 loses its “gospel” when juxtaposed with these other “values.”

Still, this is how a multitude of people see a large portion of American Christianity, as Jesus-promoting, gun toting, beard-loving people who can’t stand the sight of gay people but never say the word “shit.”

Which is really shitty.

I’m reminded of this post that I wrote in January.

And honestly, there’s little that we can do to combat this type of faith-based messaging. A Christian jackass must discover his own jackassery.

None of us are perfect. I know. People think I forget that all the time. I realize that we can all be jackasses at times. But we don’t have to advertise it. We don’t have to wear our intolerance like a badge.

The image was found at Christian Nightmares.

Sometimes Southern Baptists can be bullies…

Well, The Daily Beast is still letting me write for them! Here’s my latest…

According to Dr. R. Albert Mohler, America’s evangelicals are at a major crossroads—another one. It could be true, I suppose. When it comes to knowing when and where Christians are gathering at big cultural interchanges, Mohler’s pretty much an expert. As the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky—the educational Mecca for the almighty SBC—and one of most influential Christian bloggers on the Internet, Mohler has become an authoritative mouthpiece for some of the most conservative segments of American evangelicalism. On Tuesday, Mohler utilized his voice to inform his audience that “[Evangelicals] face an inevitable moment of decision, a decision that cannot be avoided… There will be no place to hide, and there will be no way to remain silent. To be silent will answer the question.”So, what pray tell is this crucial unavoidable question that all evangelicals must answer? The same exact question that evangelicals have been answering over and over again with exclamation points and all caps for as long as any of us can remember: “The question of homosexuality.” More specifically, Mohler wants to know “whether evangelicals will remain true to the teachings of Scripture and the unbroken teaching of the Christian church for over two thousand years on the morality of same-sex acts and the institution of marriage.”

Mohler went on to say that how evangelicals answer this question will showcase not only what we know and understand about the Bible, it could have a long-lasting impact on the gospel itself.

Which, of course, he’s right. How we answer this question does have its consequence. We know this because we’ve suffered the effects of how evangelicals like Mohler have answered the question for years. Heck, Mohler can’t seem to stop answering the question.

As we know, the answers evangelicals give cause division, push people away from churches, promote the gospels of arrogance and callousness, and castrates the body of Christ, rendering us useless but for punch lines.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE.

The Virgin Mary’s cousin lives in Pennsylvania (Meanwhile, David Platt thinks the woman is full of *it*?)

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.

For we know not what we do? (a prayer of confession for Easter)

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 in 2 Days

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.

Parents, let’s give our kids the greatest gift of all: the freedom to love

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.

The Good News for World Vision

I love World Vision.

In fact, I’ve worked alongside World Vision in some capacity—first as a supporter, then as a speaker and today as a social media consultant—since 2005. I’ve seen their work firsthand in five different countries. And I’ve gotten to know many of the dear souls who work for World Vision, some here in U.S. as well as those who live abroad. World Vision is a good Christian organization. They aren’t perfect. But they are good. Which is why I’m passionate about what they do, and why Jessica and I sponsor 5 kids through World Vision.

Over the last nine years, I’ve witnessed one thing over and over again at World Vision: Its people are driven by a sincere dedication to being the hands and feet of Jesus to children in need. Which is why they will go to just about any corner of the world, hope in hand, and do whatever they can to bring life, sustainability, and relief to children and families existing in desperate situations.

I love World Vision. I love its mission. I love its people. I love its passion for loving God by loving people.

Which is why yesterday was so hard to watch/experience. When Christianity Today released its “breaking news” and I read the headline—WORLD VISION: Why We Are Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages—I knew it was going to get ugly. I knew it. Still, once again I was surprised by just how downright hateful Christians can be, especially when it comes to anything involving our gay brothers and sisters. It’s just so sad. And yet stereotypical.

Watching the online conversation yesterday, which was mostly negative and vile in the beginning, was like watching Christian America beat up on my friend, a friend I value and know to be good.

Okay, so World Vision changed their hiring policy (read their statement here). Though the change is a bold and controversial move among evangelicals, the truth is, their “change” was really just a small step forward. And yes, I personally believe it was a step forward—a good and needed one! And I applaud World Vision for their decision. But it was just a step. I mean, the hate being spewed by Christians is being directed at World Vision, a very conservative organization, a conservative organization that requires its employees to be Christian and to sign not only the Apostle’s Creed but also a lifestyle contract. Here’s what the official statement said.

World Vision is a multi-denominational organization that welcomes employees from more than 50 denominations, and since a number of these denominations in recent years have sanctioned same-sex marriage for Christians, the board—in keeping with our practice of deferring to church authority in the lives of our staff, and desiring to treat all of our employees equally—chose to adjust our policy. Thus, the board has modified our Employee Standards of Conduct to allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed at World Vision.

And while this is very good news, it hardly means that World Vision is having a pride parade at its headquarters today. Nobody’s blaring Lady Gaga and donning rainbows today. In the grand scheme of things, though it’s a good move, it really is, in the end, just a minor change that does not warrant the hate storm by the likes of some of evangelicalism’s most elite names.

And guess what, friends? Gay people already work at World Vision. I mean, out of the 1100 people who work at the U.S. office, chances are pretty good, that a bunch of them are gay. Some of them might not be out. But they are there, doing the good work of Christ. Because they love Jesus. And because they love helping kids get sponsored. And they are, despite what some evangelicals might proclaim, good Christian people.

But as we know, a good many Christians really hate homosexuality. They HATE IT. And THEY MUST REMIND US OF HOW MUCH THEY HATE IT over and over again. And because they HATE HOMOSEXUALITY AND ANYTHING GAY-RELATED, when events like what happened yesterday occur, they feel obligated to issue official statements about why THEY HATE HOMOSEXUALITY. And so, a plethora of big names, from Franklin Graham to John Piper to David Platt all made their opinions about World Vision’s handbook change known.

Of course, some of the meanest faith-based culprits are the reformed bloggers at The Gospel Coalition. I really try to never subject myself to their messages, but yesterday, I did. And once again, I read one TGC blogger after another issue their thoughts as if God himself was speaking through their fingers as they typed. But as you likely know, these men are some of the Internet’s most trusted “Christian” voices. And yet I don’t get it. I mean, none of us are perfect and we all get angry once in a while. But is anybody ever happy at TGC? Do they ever get excited about something that isn’t at the expense of another? Anytime I read their posts–yesterday included!–I only see a coalition. I see no gospel. Oh, they quote scripture verses like Pharisees and seem to know what’s right about everything, but yet they seem devoid of love, at least, love that extends beyond their kind. For their sake, I do hope that, upon entering heaven, God says, “How much did you hate homosexuality?” And I hope that they are absolutely certain of the answer that God is expecting to hear. Because I suspect they might be surprised.

TGC’s rage against World Vision helped to fill up Twitter with tweets from Christians declaring their disgust for World Vision’s decision and announcing their plans to stop sponsoring their World Vision child. I hope that makes them happy. I don’t think it does. Not really. But they indeed inspired many to drop their support. Because I know for a fact that a good many people stopped sponsoring needy kids yesterday because World Vision changed a policy in their handbook. Do these people shop at Target? Do these people use Facebook? Do they donate to Goodwill? Have they ever bought Girl Scout Cookies? Do they watch The Walking Dead on AMC? Because all of those places and businesses allow gay married folk to work there too. So I hope that, before they make the decision to stop sponsoring, they will consider the child, consider that people come before doctrine, dogma, and religion. That’s my prayer.

The good news for World Vision is this: Jesus is bigger than the hate storm they are experiencing right now. Jesus is bigger than the mighty chorus of big names who are chiding them with tweets, press releases, and blog posts. Jesus is bigger than the mean-spirited comments that people are leaving them on Facebook and Twitter. Jesus is bigger than the disappointment and utter disgust they are seeing and reading all over the Internet.

But as we know, sometimes standing up for people, regardless of who they are and why they need standing up for, comes at a cost.

But we stand up anyway.

We brave the religious backlash.

And we keep following Jesus.