Who Is Killing Christianity in America

16 11 2015

American Christians have been, since President Obama has been in office, ramping up the idea that Christian persecution is on the rise in the USA. To buttress this idea, several events have been pointed to in order to make this claim.

The Affordable Care Act “forcing” businesses to pay for contraception and abortion, against said businesses deeply held religious beliefs (even though the Federal government created exemptions).
Businesses being “forced” to go against their deeply held religious beliefs that homosexuals are dirty perverts and should not be served in their establishments (even if what they want to do is illegal).
Government workers, against their deeply held religious beliefs being “forced” to perform their duties as government workers by issuing marriage licenses to people in the LGBT community (again it is illegal to discriminate)
And one more, retail stores, and restaurants “war in Christmas” by saying Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas, including but not limited to the new blasphemous red Starbucks cup.

All over America some Christians see demons, and conspiracies behind every rock working overtime to take away Jesus from their latte. But here’s the thing, there is no war on Christianity in America. There is no nefarious Gay Agenda seeking to close your church. There is no Muslim terrorist cell in Dearborn, Michigan working overtime to impose Sharia Law and behead your precious children. There is no government plan to take away your beloved guns, because as we all know,  guns and Jesus go together. There is no Atheist plot to purge Christianity from the face of the “good ol’ USA.”

Do you want to know the biggest danger to the Gospel of Grace and Mercy? The church, specifically many of the fundamentalist and Evangelical Churches. Why? Because of the hatred and vitriol, condemnation, and hypocrisy, and the churches “lifting her skirt” to a political party.

I am tired of hearing “Christians” rant about the very people we are called to love.
I am tired of hearing about the natural disasters God is causing because of whom a person loves.
I am tired of “Christians” acting like a**holes when it comes to things that are pointless (think red cups here.)
I am tired of fellow “Christians” living in a fantasy world of being persecuted for Jesus, when across the globe real persecution puts people at risk every day.

Strong words? When you consider what is happening in many countries, with millions of people of every faith being displaced, arrested, and murdered. People born, raised, and then dying in refugee camps. The real persecution of people of faith, women, and the LGBT community and then to have obscenely rich pastors and their flocks screaming about how they are suffering for Jesus because no one at Macy’s wished them Merry Christmas, or the barista served them their Skinny Caramel Macchiato  in a red cup, or the gay couple down the street now has the right to marry, you have to really wonder who is killing Christianity in this country.

We need to get back to the basic of our faith, and that is to love unconditionally. Just like God has loved us.


12 10 2015

During my last visit with my Spiritual Director we reviewed the “homework” he had given to me the previous time we had met. That homework was to think about and bring a list of all the negative traits and habits that I have in my life. I was not really wanting to  explore this part of me, I mean, who wants to ask the Holy Spirit to be brutally honest and show me my faults

After putting off this heavy task for a couple of weeks I finally wrote up my list. And as anticipated there was a lot of darkness. As we spent time talking, I realized that the traits and habits I had on my list could be consolidated into three things,..

My lack of self confidence…
my lack of self worth…
my lack of feeling loved.

Since that meeting I have been thinking about this, and have come to see that at the root of those three issues, my unholy trinity, so to speak, is my lack of faith in God. As I result, I have allowed the past 50+ years of my life to be driven by fear, and uncertainty. The end product has been a Frankenstein creation, a horrible caricature of the real me, not the real man God inwardly created me to be.   shadow

This monster, my creation, was to supposedly protect my heart, my soul from any more damage suffered in my youth. But this is the thing that I am discovering. God has made me to be a reflection of His love and grace. The Creator has made me to be unique, just like all of us have been created to be unique. This uniqueness, our uniqueness, is a gift to the world. And the reality is my “protector” is actually my “captor”. He has not had my best interest in mind. He has imprisoned me and continually reminds me that I need him to keep me safe. Thus, I have spent the majority of my life trusted in a self-made creation rather than the One who created me in love.

I see this now, and though the process is very slow and my monster is very strong, I am starting to see that my Creator is stronger and I am stepping into Becoming.

Dusty Bones

16 09 2015

I have decided to take a month or so off from most some social media. I would love to say that I have been successful in eliminating Facebook and Twitter since the 1st of September but that would be a lie. Some addictions are hard to master. But as of today I have drastically cut back on using them,

Perhaps you are wondering why? Well mainly it is because these “windows to the world” have become a distraction to me these days, It is easy for me to get wrapped up in the latest political stunt of an arrogant blowhard or the stupidity of some of those who call themselves “Christian”. In doing so I do not have to think about me, the issues that I should be dealing with, and the direction God may be giving me.

For a long time now I have been drifting in my life, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Floating along on the current of television, and the internet is easy. Putting things off through procrastination has become art form for me. I have had many years to develop and hone this skill to where most of the time it is subconscious. Underlying all this is the constant companion of fear who works to get me off track by filling my mind with catastrophic thinking every time I begin to think of getting out of my rut.

But I am tired of it. The other day as I was writing in my occasional journal (a journal I have inconsistently written in over the last 5 years), a thought came to me. If I look back through the last five years of writing I would find that I have been struggling, falling, getting back up, inspired to try again only to fall, wallow in self-pity, whine to God about how bad life is, then do nothing, So as I was writing again about struggling,  asking the Creator for direction, wisdom, strength, mercy, and grace, I stopped writing suddenly realizing that all those things have been given to me, All the things I have been begging for have been given as a gift and sown into my heart and spirit. What I needed to do is begin to take action.

A few days after that, I was reading this from the book of Ezekiel…

“And He said to me, “son of man can these bones live?’ And I answered and said, “O, Lord God, You know.”

My life has been a field full of dry bones. The dry bones of unfulfilled dreams, desires, hopes, talents, abilities, self-worth, and relationships. It was as if God was saying look at your life, Do you see any hope of resurrection, renewal, a rebirth. And frankly, like the prophet Ezekiel all I could say to Him was, “Only you know the answer to that.”

If you read through the rest of that passage, Ezekiel speaks over the valley of death and God breathes life back into the bones so that they are put back together and stand up. It was as if He was telling me to listen to Him and do something because He,  Himself, was going to put me back on my feet. Once I embrace the idea that it is God that will breath new life into my soul, that He will bring it all about, I do not need to fear. Yes, I do not know the outcome, nor  the trajectory of the rest of my life. But if I truly hope in the God would loves me without condition, the paralysis of being afraid should end,.

This gives me hope. I wish I could share with intimacy the struggles I have had over the last few decades, and perhaps Ezekiel-37_The-Valley-of-the-Dry-Bones-by-Annalies-Clarksome day i can be more forthright. Suffice to say, I will continue (somewhat imperfectly) with my media/internet fast in the hope of restoration and healing,

Please keep me in your prayers and thoughts as I embark on this leg of my spiritual journey.

Looking In

3 08 2015

looking in the windowThis is how I feel most days.

I am an observer. I stand on the outside of a thick windowpane. I see life moving forward and people connecting. I see joy, laughter, peace, and contentment. I behold worshipers connecting with their God, singing their songs of praise and adoration, raising their hands in prayer. I watch people finding fulfillment in their careers, hobbies, and relationships. I survey couples in love, falling in love, two hearts becoming one flesh, the connection, the synergy, the melding of lives.

It is all there before my tear filled eyes, the emotions, the feelings.The things that turn existing into living. The things that bring passion, and meaning to the individual soul. I reach out to touch these things. To take them into my existence, to apply them to my heart but my fingers only touch to cold, unyielding glass that encases me.

I am merely a watcher of life as it moves by.

I stand on the outside.

Bullied Into The Wilderness

30 07 2015

In 2016 I will have been out of high school for 40 years. Yet in spite of the decades that have seemingly flew by, the residual effects of those years continue to manifest themselves in my life.

As I had mentioned last time, fear has been a lifelong companion. It has colored relationships, work, education, and in general how I see myself. I have come to the understanding that the tap-root for this weed of fear is anchored in my interaction with those of my peers some 40+ years ago. It was their attitudes, and words directed at me that have shaped my inner spirit for so many years.

I cannot stress enough how bullying in any way, shape, or form literally kills the spirit within a child/teen. I also cannot stress enough how long it takes to recover from such wounding..

bullyingI began to experience bullying around the sixth grade. Being a shy, introverted kid with NO athletic ability did not help. It started with words, and then sometimes physical pushing or hitting. But even if there had  never a time when I was hit, the words and the mocking alone damaged me almost beyond repair. Children/teens can be brutal in their assaults. As a result confidence, self-love and acceptance, self-worth, and the ability to believe in myself were ripped away from me like layers of skin, and I was left an emotionally bloody mess,

And no one, it appeared me, cared.

There was not parental, or school administrative interventions. I withdraw more and more into a cocoon constructed not of a web of silk but rather a web of emotional pain and rejection.

I believed the taunts of those that said I was stupid, broken, dumb, and a reject.

My heart was never at peace, never at rest. It was always on guard for the next verbal attack.

So today, some 40 years later I try desperately to heal, to move forward, to live life as me. But many times the ghosts of the past whisper in my ear to remember my place, to remember that I am nothing, and can do nothing. And then I slip into the  default mode of my youth  I withdraw, procrastinate, avoid conflict, run in fear, question my abilities, and strengths. And finally remember my place, as the spectral chants envelop me as in a thick fog and I agree with them for a moment, a day, a week, a month, forty years. I am inferior to the rest of humanity. But I am tired of this wilderness wandering

O God! Rescue me from me, so that I can love ME, the me you created me to be, and to create the things that I am still meant to create before it is too late.

Fear, The Great Unmotivator

22 07 2015

I remember very little from my childhood, and the things that I do remember usually have some negative emotion attached toovercoming-fear them. Here is a brief list of the things I feared as a child…

Spiders, having fallen face first into a orb spider web,
Abandonment, every time I heard my parents argue I thought that they would get a divorce.
Gym class, since I sucked at every sport.
Using the bathroom at school. Anyone who knows anything about being bullied knows you do not want to be in the bathroom when the “cool” kids came in. This led to me not using the bathroom at school for many years and waiting until I got home.
Peers in general, since they were able to ridicule me at any point in time with no intervention for school authorities.
Answering questions in class, my peers taught me that I was stupid, and who wants to look more stupid by getting a question wrong.
My father, his anger could be epic and I usually was fearful to be around him even when he was in a good mood (a caveat here, he was not a physically abusive person)
Failure, this I think has been the thing that has caused the most trouble in my life. The fear of failing, of looking bad, had paralyzed any growth in my childhood and teen years.

And speaking of teen years, here is a short list of those fears.

Peers again, for the same reason listed above, new school, same torment.
Fear that what my peers were saying about me was true.
Being alone my whole life.
New things, and original thoughts, I never tried anything new and I never came up with an original thought since it had been drilled into me that I was stupid and worthless. It was in my teen years that I really embraced my worthlessness, and lack of self esteem. I truly did hate myself. Imagine for a moment waking up every day dreading what lies ahead, and being filled with fear and anxiety and self loathing.

I carried many of these things into adulthood and for many, many years lived in constant fear of failure. Over the years things had gotten better as I began to understand the unconditional love and grace of God as the only constant in my life. But even my early Christian experience taught me, erroneously, that God was expecting perfection and since I was far from that two thirds of my Christian journey was lived in terror of God getting me.

With all this background you now have a fairly good idea of how I allowed fear to manipulate me. But some habits die slowly and hard. For the past few years I have come to place where I have begun to embrace fully who I am, because God embraces me just as He created me to be, Yet, I now come to a place in my life where I must make some hard choices. And my default emotion is fear, fear of the unknown future. And my mind quickly jumps into catastrophic thinking and all I can see is the worst case scenario. And in seeing those thoughts play out in my mind, fear once again paralyzes me from making any forward movement.

Fear has ruled my life, it has become a habit of the heart, my heart, and I want so desperately to be free of it. Yet like a leech it continues to suck life out of me. There are no easy answers and I know that for me to really live my life the way God intends me to live it, I need to take the next steps.

Perhaps by exposing fear to the light, as I am here, it will somehow loss its grip over me.


14 07 2015

lonlinessI am 56.

At this point in life I should be pretty well established in a career, in friendships, in purpose. i should be anticipating retirement in a few years. In essence, I should know who I am.

But…I don’t.

So much of my life has been spent “trying to become”. Whether it was a better father, a better Christian, a better son, brother, husband, friend. I desired to be noticed, to be accepted, to be loved, to be admired, to be looked up to, to be significant, to make a difference. Each time I began to pursue these things I was reminded by the small, critical voice that I will never be anything. I was told in my youth by a parent unable to love me, and peers that wounded my emotions and spirit with gleeful abandon, that I was a  failure, that I was unworthy, that I was damaged.

I have envied, and despised in my heart those that have “made it”, seem to have it all together with career, family, and friends. I have felt cheated, ignored, abandoned.

My life has been tossed between the waves of anxiety and despair. I have been enveloped in the thick, dark clouds of depression and hopelessness.

I built a wall of defense to protect my fragile and injured heart from more damage. This wall is covered with graffiti reminding me to never be too happy, never let people know the hurt they cause. pretend to be fine, act as if I have it together, never allow anyone to discover me, because I are less than others, I have nothing to contribute, I will never measure up.

And now I am older. I have squandered my life in so many areas, living in fear, self doubt, and procrastination.

This past Sunday in church during worship a fog of loneliness filled my heart and mind. While everyone else is singing of their perfect relationship with God, all that is going through my head was that I am such a f***-up.

I wish one could reset their lives, like one can reset a computer.

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