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Silencing Christian Bullies

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I listened to her story. It was so heartbreaking. It grieved me. Immensely!  How could someone survive so much trauma, so much pain, and so much rejection?  Crystal was homeless when we first met. As a beautiful trans woman, her journey was and continues to be, riddled with so much agony and suffering. Tearfully, she shares snippets of her story, from that youngster cast out of her home and left to fend for herself, to the abuse and suicide attempts and arrests that have followed her relentlessly, to the black eyes she tries her best to disguise today, I marvel at her resiliency. Her scars reveal a life that should only show up in nightmares. My grief is coupled with anger as Crystal reveals that much (not all) of her displacement, rejection, and abuse has been done by the hands of those who claim to follow and be disciples of Jesus. Because of their thuggery, she believes the Almighty God is also a displacing, rejecting, and abusive thug that wants no part of her.  Christians, I strug

Beautiful and Daunting Contradictions

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Our lives are beautiful and daunting contradictions. Whatever paths we travel on, we are simultaneously clobbered and gifted.  During the past couple of years, my family and I haven't been able to escape this reality. Relentless heaviness and enormous pressure have been weighing us down, yet in the same breath, we are being lifted up and carried, lightening our load and allowing us to enjoy the beauty that surrounds and embraces us.  We have screamed for normalcy, but have continually been hit with abnormalities. We have cried for simplicity, but complexities never fail to intrude. We wish that our lives were painless, but we never find ourselves free from all the trauma and agony that haunts us. Though despair tries to imprison us, we must learn from history and observe the legacies of people who suffered through deep dark shadows and didn’t let their situations grip or overpower them. They lived in the contradiction of embracing love, hope, and joy through it all.  Our journeys a

The God of Outcasts

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Matt wandered into Church early with his bulging backpack, sat in the back row, with his usual cup of coffee. He always had too many layers on, that would extenuate the pungent whiffs of cigarettes, marijuana, and his musty clothes. It was an adventure sitting next to Matt, as he lived in a tent down the street, and therefore, struggled to stay awake throughout the service. Matt was someone who didn't know how to talk quietly, so when he was awake, he would whisper to me with his loud foggy voice, followed by his impulsive croaky laugh. He would cause heads to turn and faces to frown as he'd tell me of his need to smoke a blunt, how he was going to get retribution on some fellas that "did him wrong", while always asking me about my family. Whereas Matt struggled to control his impulses, he did his best to be respectful. I don't know how much he heard, but the one thing I do know is he loved Jesus, he knew he needed Jesus, so as an act of faith, he faithfully came

Welcome Home: Liberated by Grace

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  ...despite being embraced, despite being forgiven, despite being welcomed home, despite being given freedom, we often refuse to accept freedom, we struggle to live with the scars, we are tormented by our guilt, we don't accept the grace we've been gifted...  When the younger son humbly crawled back home, he expected rejection or to be relegated to a slave, yet the father ran to him, hugged him, and gave him full status as his heir. He expected nothing but received everything. The older brother wanted to see his rebellious sibling suffer, but instead, he watched as his little bro was given a loving embrace and a party. Despite whatever negativity he was telling himself and the spiteful vibes he was getting from his bitter brother, he was free to live in the liberating grace he'd just been gifted.  Jesus was crucified and rose again so we could be liberated by grace, but it can be difficult to live in that grace, because of the lies we tell ourselves and the messages we hea

Welcome Home: Forgiving the Unforgivable

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...despite all the scars he'd caused, despite all the pain he inflicted on those who loved him, despite the way he’d acted, despite his unrighteous choices, despite his inability to repay his debts, his father still ran to him, embraced him and said: "welcome home."  When Jesus spoke this parable of the Father's unrelenting love, he gave us an illustration of how beautiful and powerful God's grace is, reminding us how the Kingdom of God forgives those deemed unforgivable. He told us it doesn't matter what we've done or the pain we've caused if we come, we're welcome - not a reluctant welcome, but an all-enthusiastic, all-forgiving, all-loving, all-compassionate, all-embracing, welcome.  If anyone didn’t deserve forgiveness it was the youngest son, he'd said “screw you” to his father and went his own way - he rejected everything his dad taught him, he squandered all his money, and relentlessly did things to disappoint his family. When he came cr

I Pray I Did Them Right

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When my friend "Chief" died in late 2020, I mourned another who left this world too soon, looked up to the heavens, and cried, "I pray I did him right" and "how can I do better next time?" Whenever I find out that another person experiencing homelessness has died, I often find myself reflecting, "I pray I did them right" and "how can I learn from this and do better next time?" They're taken too young. It ends so early, so quickly, like a vapor. Could their deaths have been prevented? I weep over the injustice of a corrupt system that elevates the wealthy, promotes the privileged, while blatantly neglecting the poor and marginalized. Deep-seated discrimination and racism sift through this nation like beasts who arrogantly strut around, knowing they're far too big and powerful to be conquered. The poor, the weak, the fragile, are nothing but collateral damage to these devouring beasts who ensure the ongoing reign of supremacy, ine

Welcome Home: Embracing the Unembraceable

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 ...despite all the scars he'd caused on society, despite the way he looked, despite his despicable image, despite his inability to conform, his father didn't choose "law and order", he embraced him and said "welcome home" When Jesus spoke this parable of the Father's unrelenting love, he gave us an illustration of how beautiful and powerful God's grace is, telling us how the Kingdom of God embraces the unembraceable. He told us it doesn't matter where we've been or how we look, if we come, we're welcome - not a reluctant welcome, but an all-enthusiastic and all-embracing welcome.  Yet, sadly, this message of love and acceptance has been gangsterized by Christian thugs who have chosen to imitate the older son. The church, too often, has been following these religious gangsters by choosing "law and order", choosing to cast out, choosing political ideologies, choosing condemnation, choosing violence, choosing their safety, choosin