GiveSendGo advertises itself as the ‘Number 1 Free Christian Crowdfunding Site’ in the world. Apparently, it is a place to fund hope — a place to work together with the body of Christ around the world to make a difference.
You can donate money to many worthwhile causes at this website, including those who have tragically lost loved ones or fallen on hard times.
But that’s not all.
Once you start to dig a little deeper, you will find the website peppered with questionable fundraising campaigns with largely far right-wing political objectives. …
We don’t tend to think of Jesus as an angry guy.
After all, he was the preeminent teacher of love, grace, and compassion. It was Jesus who brought us radical and counter-cultural ideas about forgiving and loving our enemies and “turning the other cheek” instead of taking revenge on others who harm us.
Is it any wonder then that we associate Jesus with gentleness and kindness? When I was a kid growing up in the evangelical church, they even described Jesus in glowing terms as “meek and mild,” as if this were some kind of compliment.
Type “Jesus” into a Google image search, and you’ll find a plethora of images that support this idea. Jesus is often seen looking suitably ethereal — boasting a glowing halo — and surrounded by small children or cradling a little lamb in his arms. But, while Jesus certainly was both gentle and kind, it seems that, somewhere along the line, we fell for the lie that Jesus was also a little bit soft. …
As the end of the year hurtles towards us like a freight train, it is time to consider, yet again, all those hopes and dreams that we have for the new (and hopefully better) year ahead.
According to a survey of over 500 adults in the USA, run by consumer data website, Statista, the top New Year’s Resolutions for 2021 included: Exercising more, eating more healthily, and spending more time with family and friends.
“When you get to die,” The preacher explained, “You’ll come to face to face with God, and then you’ll have to explain everything you’ve done.”
“I can imagine that there will be a big screen where you’re entire life will be replayed — every word, every thought, every action — even those done in secret, will be laid bare for everyone to see!”
I was a teenager — one of several hundred — sitting in another Christian youth rally, listening intently to the “Good News” of the Gospel, as declared by the evangelical tradition. The preacher man went on:
“You and I both know that there are things that you have done that you are ashamed of. You would die of embarrassment if everyone got to see all the wrong things you have…
A knock on the door interrupted our family dinner. I sighed and got up from the kitchen table to greet our would-be, family-time intruders. I opened the door to two well-dressed young men with Bibles tucked under their arms.
“Excuse me, Sir,” Said one of the men. “I was wondering if you had found Jesus.”
“I didn’t realize that Jesus was missing,” I said cheerily — my go-to line for these kinds of situations. “If he shows up here, I’ll be sure to let you know. Have a nice evening!” …
I bumped into an old church friend a few days ago — one that I haven’t seen for several years. We made mindless small-talk for a few minutes about work, family, and the weather.
This, of course, was just a prelude to the question they really wanted to ask. I saw it forming behind their eyes like a storm brewing on the horizon. Finally, it poured forth in a steady stream of glorious predictability.
“So,” They said, “Where are you going to church these days?”
When I was a kid, I went to church morning and night, every Sunday, and several times throughout the week. I was the only son of an evangelical pastor. I’ve heard ten thousand sermons — maybe more — and read the Bible cover-to-cover several times. …
After writing an article where I expressed support for the LGBTIQ community, I was accused by a religious zealot of the ‘Christian’ kind, of being ‘soft on sin.’ It was meant as a kind of spiritual insult — usually bestowed on those who err on the side of tolerance, rather than retreating into self-righteous indignation every time one comes across someone who thinks and lives differently to oneself.
I wasn’t offended though.
In fact, I was glad to wear the title, “soft on sin” as a badge of honor. Why? Because Jesus was accused of the same. Anyone who knows anything about the gospels — and even those who don’t — knows that Jesus was called a friend of sinners. He often drew the ire of the scribes and Pharisees for hanging out with sinners, eating with sinners and making-merry with sinners. …
In my first year of high school, a teacher dropped dead in the shower at school camp. He was the Drama teacher — ironically. He died of a heart attack. He was 39 years old.
I was thinking about this teacher as I went drove to the local hospital emergency department with chronic chest pain. “I’m surely too young to have a heart attack,” I thought, but the pain in my chest was taking my breath away. My wife had ordered me down to the hospital to get checked out. …
I remember attending a Pentecostal youth conference as an impressionable teenager. A preacher spoke of the blind man in the Gospel of Mark who sat by the side of the road and, upon hearing that Jesus had just passed by, began to shout at the top of his lungs, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!” When the people around him tried to shut him up, he shouted all the more! “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!” Sure enough, Jesus returned to the blind man and restored his sight.
I like to think that Jesus was moved by love and compassion for the hurting man and that is what precipitated his action in that man’s life. However, the Pentecostal preacher had a different take on the story. …
Growing up as Pastor’s kid in the eighties gave me a front row pew to the kind of vitriol and anger that can emerge from an otherwise lovely and mild-mannered Christian when you say or do something to offend them.
I remember the first time my Father preached a sermon on the topic of sex — something quite ground-breaking at the time. After the service, he stood at the door and greeted everyone as he always did. I remember one little old lady getting right up in my Dad’s face and, waving one pointed finger perilously close to his nose, screeching at him, “If you ever mention ‘that word’ in church again, I’m never coming back.” …