Monthly Archives: September 2008

A Crisis of Faith

The recent economic and political events in the United States have helped to bring to the surface a problem that is prevalent throughout our society. We don’t know who to trust any more. As a society, we have lost faith in our government, leaders, institutions and long-held philosophies. This goes way beyond presidential politics. It trickles down to every aspect of life from finances to religion.

There seems to be a growing tide of skepticism in this country. We feel like we have been burnt too many times in the past to trust again. Some of this is the result of a society that has valued the wrong things. From absentee parents to compromised politicians to ungodly preachers, we have become accustomed to those in authority letting us down or in some cases abusing us.

I wish this was just a Washington D.C. problem. But the level of distrust is growing out in the heartland. It has impacted the American Church as millions leave the pews never to return. Many Christians are disillusioned with the church and their pastors. They struggle to find real faith and a community that will embody Christ in this world.

We are at a moment of decision. This crisis of faith could lead to redemption or even more fear and panic. I believe now more than ever is the time for us to cling to the only one we can really trust. And His name is Jesus.

The Gospel IS…

The gospel is…

The power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), God judging the secrets of men by Jesus Christ (Romans 2:16), veiled to those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 4:3), light that shows the glory of Christ who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4), not another gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4), is not man’s gospel (Galatians 1:11), to be proclaimed among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:2), justification by faith (Galatians 3:8), the word of truth and a sealing of believers with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), standing firm in one spirit with one mind (Philippians 1:27), the hope laid up for you in heaven (Colossians 1:5),  proclaimed in all creation under heaven (Colossians 1:23), come in power and in the Holy Spirit with full conviction (1 Thessalonians 1:5), preached with boldness in the midst of much conflict (1 Thessalonians 2:2), sharing ourselves to others not just words (1 Thessalonians 2:8), the infliction of vengeance on those who do not know or obey God (2 Thessalonians 1:8), the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light (2 Timothy 1:10), Jesus Christ risen from the dead (2 Timothy 2:8),  preached to those who are dead (1 Peter 4:6), is to be obeyed (1 Peter 4:17), proclaimed to every nation and tribe and language and people (Revelation 14:6).

Rendition

I recently saw the movie Rendition and was moved by some of its messages. While I am far from an expert on international law, terrorism, appropriate interrogation techniques, etc. I do believe that we need to be careful as a society in what we do and what we allow other countries to do in our name.

I believe America is the land of freedom and opportunity. At the same time, we can’t do things in the name of protecting America that violate basic moral decency or our Constitution. If we sacrifice our soul for safety, we will have lost what we are really trying to protect.

Governments need to take aggressive action to identify and stop terrorists. And I know this is a hard line to walk. Governments will make mistakes, but that is no excuse for policies or actions that produce more enemies than solid intelligence. National security is not an excess for torture or lack of due process for American citizens. If someone is suspected as a terrorist from another country, the local authorities there should follow their laws.

What do you think of the following movie clip?

http://www.witness.org/index.php?option=com_rightsalert&Itemid=178&task=view&alert_id=49

Energy Sham

If someone takes a legitimate political position, I can  respect that even if I fervently disagree with them. What I don’t like is for someone to appear to do one thing when secretly they are doing something else. The House of Representatives is doing this by passing an energy bill that will likely produce little in terms of domestic energy production.

H.R. 6899 is the Democratic response to the current energy crisis. While it sounds good in theory, it misses the mark by putting conditions on energy production that are likely to discourage oil companies or states to allow drilling. If you don’t want to allow domestic drilling, that’s fine. Just say so. But don’t act like you are doing something when your bill will actually do the opposite.

Speaker of the House Nancey Pelosi pushed through H.R. 6899 very quickly because she knows the current moratoriums on offshore drilling and domestic shale production ends on Sept 30th. The Democrats want to take the domestic drilling issue off the table. I don’t really care about the election politics. But I don’t want a sham of a bill to stand in the way of real domestic energy production. Politicians in D.C. love to act as if they have brought real reform when all they have really done is create more roadblocks to real solutions.

Citizens need to call their congressional representative and tell them to vote against any energy bill that doesn’t really produce energy.

Here are some links to information about why this bill won’t work for consumers at the pump:

http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2008/09/17/whats-in-the-house-offshore-drilling-bill/

http://www.gop.gov/energy/

http://www.api.org/Newsroom/upload/API_statement_on_House_energy_bill_Sept_16_2008.pdf

http://www.heritage.org/Press/Commentary/ed081508c.cfm

http://www.earthportal.org/news/?p=1688

My Faith Journey

One of my seminary classes require that I write a brief paper explaining my faith journey. Here is my rough draft. It is rough more because I am imperfect than my life has been really hard. When I look at what some other people have had to go through, I wonder why God hasn’t allowed me to face more truly difficult situations. Not that I am complaining. I have had some challenges, but I do believe that God has blessed me in many ways and given me incredible opportunities to experience His life.

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Organic Faith

My journey with Jesus started as a child. I grew up in a family where being a Christian was almost a foregone conclusion. It was considered just a natural part of what it meant to grow up in my family. We went to church activities on a regular basis. To reinforce a religious worldview, my parents sent me to a Baptist Christian school until high school.

Adjusting to school was tough for me at first because I had a severe stuttering problem. I went to special classes to help me cope with the problem until third grade. It was a source of embarrassment and frustration. My parents prayed over me regularly that I would improve and encouraged me to keep on trying. With God’s help, I was able to overcome the problem although it still comes back on occasion in moments of extreme pressure or excitement. Overcoming this problem was the first real personal struggle of my life. It showed me that God cares and He can help me deal with whatever life throws at me. 

While in grade school, I gave my life to Christ after a teacher taught a daily Bible lesson. I can’t remember what she taught. But whatever she said struck me as a beautiful truth that required me to trust God. I don’t really know if I understood what I was doing. I just knew it was the right thing to do. My life is not an instant conversion story. It is more of a gradual process that has become more certain through the years. 

Each year as a kid, I strived to win the Christian character award at school. Looking back, I think that I really felt that I had to prove myself to God. I had a very works-based view of Christianity. It wasn’t until college that I would have a real revelation of God’s grace. 

In high school, I had to shadow a different religion for a school assignment. I chose the Jehovah’s Witness. The experience freaked out my parents. I came home asking questions like, “How do we know the Trinity exists if the word is not in the Bible?” The Watchtower literature and issues brought up by the Jehovah’s Witness sect revealed to me how much I didn’t know about the Bible. I began to realize that my faith was based mostly on what others had told me not what I knew for myself. I had a classic case of coat-tale Christianity.

When my parents couldn’t answer all of my questions, I insisted that they help me find someone who could. That is when I met Dr. Warren Weaver. He was a well-respected professor at VCU and a noted Bible teacher in the community. As a sophomore in high school, I peppered him with questions for two hours. He knew how to answer everything. It was at that moment that I decided I would never again be clueless about key aspects of my faith. I wanted to know God for myself. 

Jesus used a pseudo Christian-cult to draw me closer to Himself. This reflects one of the greatest lessons that I have learned in life – God is in control. I grew in my faith throughout high school. But I still felt like an outsider. I struggled to relate to those outside of religious circles and distrusted many at church. 

College was like a breath of fresh air compared to high school. It was in college that I first had someone other than my parents really disciple me as a follower of Jesus. Bill Dempsey was the campus minister for Reformed University Fellowship (RUF). He showed me what it meant to relationally lead others to Christ and help train them in the faith. Billy introduced me to indepth Bible study and the joy of tackling “hard” parts of the Bible, such as Hebrews, Ecclesiastes, the prophets, etc. 

RUF was the first time in my life that I felt connected to a vibrant body of Christian believers. It sparked an interest in community, Bible study and discipleship. Billy and others helped me see that God’s grace is  limitless and never based on my performance.

After college came my “Sodom and Gomorrah” period, I worked hard and partied harder. I was living one way on Sunday and another way the rest of the week. A series of events led me to see that I needed to get back into Christian community and re-commit my life to Christ. This led me to come back home to Richmond.

While in Richmond, I experienced deep spiritual growth through discipleship and personal encounters with the Holy Spirit. The Lord brought another great mentor into my life when I met Pastor Don Coleman. I attended a home church led by him for a number of years. Don helped me better understand my journey with God and encouraged me to write the revelation that I was getting in Bible study and everyday life. This led to a number of book projects, including Organic Faith, which was published in 2003.

Organic Faith is a concept that God gave me to describe my life in Him. Organic denotes life, something that is not artificial and has not been tainted by pollutants. Faith is the critical element to know and please God. My journey with God is best understood as a growing walk of faith away from artificial Christianity to a vibrant, personal relationship with a living God. 

Over the past several years, I have served in youth ministry as a volunteer and am an active lay leader at Mechanicsville Christian Center. Currently, I am attending Union-PSCE to obtain a Master’s Degree that will aid me in fulfilling God’s call for my life. I am not really sure what the future holds. I just know that I am in the right place now. Each new day, God gives me the direction that I need to live out an organic faith.

Is This Election Really About Something Else?

Pastor Carter from MCC briefly spoke about the election this Sunday. He said that this election is really about sin. The congregation started to applaud. But he stopped them. He said that his point was not what many in the congregation were probably thinking. Then, he said that the problems we face in this country result from sin. It has nothing to do with which party is in power. It has to do with the failure of our leaders and our failure as citizens to take responsibility and make decisions that benefit society as a whole. 

Our problems stem from the fact that we are a fallen people who need God to get life right. Pastor Carter said that government will never fix many of our problems. He said that it is Jesus who makes all the difference. And God has chosen to work through His Church to accomplish the restoration of all things. We have a role to play in ushering in God’s Kingdom on earth. This has nothing to do with imperialism or domination. Jesus’ focus was faith, hope and love.

Pastor Carter encouraged us to do more than just vote. He said that we should follow Jesus’ example by making a difference in our communities and taking responsibility for the things we can do to join God’s work. Maybe this election isn’t just about the leaders at the top of the ticket. Maybe it should really be about us. We all have a responsibility to do things that bring about a better tomorrow.

Catching Up

This post is kind of like leftover night in the Brindley household. I used to love it when we had leftovers especially after Thanksgiving. Here is a rundown of a bunch of thoughts that I have had over the last few weeks. It includes everything from sports to politics to economics.

  • The Republican convention seemed to be a roller coaster ride for me. First, there was the surprise VP nomination. I don’t know if Palin will be a good leader or if she has some killer secret in her closet that will disqualify her down the road. But McCain’s VP selection at least makes for interesting political theater. I kind of think of Palin as the rugged version of Margaret Thatcher.
  • Mike Huckabee gave a great speech and used humor to politely jab at the other side. He is really a master of the one liners.
  • Fred Thompson’s description of McCain’s captivity experience was brilliant.  
  • Obama messed up in his VP selection. Biden is an establishment, ultra liberal politician. Obama should have picked Bill Richardson, the highest ranking Hispanic public official in the country. That would have helped the Democrats solidify its status with the Latino vote.  
  • No matter who gets elected we will have a liberal in the White House. Obama is far left. McCain is liberal/moderate/somewhat right on the political spectrum. Can I vote for Palin for President instead?
  • Obama has tried to show his bipartisanship credentials by pointing to his work on laws on nuclear proliferation with Senator Lugar. That is hardly a good example of a controversial piece of legislation since it had widespread support from both sides of the aisle. Yeah, he works with Republicans on issues that just about everybody agrees upon. That doesn’t seem like maverick status to me. One of the reasons that I don’t like McCain is that he tends to be too moderate on some issues. He is the true maverick in the campaign.
  • McCain’s acceptance speech had high points and times when I thought Barack Obama had somehow possessed the Republican’s body. I know the economy is tough and Republicans need to be proactive in helping people get back on their feet. At the same time, I thought I heard McCain say something about a program that will help those out of work get new jobs, training and supplemental income. Don’t we already have some of those things through unemployment benefits, the local unemployment office, community colleges and even the Internet to locate new jobs? His comment about supplemental income seemed like a huge new government undertaking.
  • McCain’s talk about fighting for a better America was good. I especially agree with the concept that we need to be willing to work hard and try to do the best we can to make this world a better place and improve our lot in life. I worry that Obama wants to be a little too generous with the taxpayers money.
  • Speaking of being generous with taxpayer money, did you see the bailout that the US Treasury just did to save Fannie and Freddie? I don’t get this at all. Where is the outrage? Why hasn’t the media put a spotlight on this travesty?  Why is there not a huge Congressional investigation into the events that caused this dilemma? If you believe it is just an unfortunate accident resulting from a slump in the housing market, then I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn that I would like to sell you.
  • Getting back to political campaigns, has anyone ever done research on broken campaign promises? I would like to see the numbers. I am sure that both parties stink when it comes to actually delivering on their platforms.
  • NFL – What happened to all the good teams in the AFC? I believe the balance of power has finally started to shift. The NFC is on the rise. Although it is only week 1, it looks like nothing is certain this season. Here are my top teams in order of rating:Philadelphia, Dallas, Steelers, Giants, Packers, Chargers, Chicago, Patriots, Jacksonville, Vikes, Colts and Titans. Super Bowl prediction: Philadelphia vs. Steelers. Steelers win a close one 24-21.  
  • Switching to baseball, the Cubs are running away in the National League. This may be a sign of the apocalypse. You should get your life in order and hug your family because if the Cubs win it all… well I think that could be it folks. 🙂
  • While we are on the topic of ridiculous things in life, Keith Olbermann used to be one of my favorite sport broadcasters. He and Dan Patrick were awesome on Sportscenter. Keith should quit the MSNBC gig because even the other NBC news staff seems very objective compared to him. His on air rantings don’t help the network. 
  • The “mainstream” media seems to have missed some of the big storylines over the past week. First, the networks fixated on Pahlin’s teen daughter the same night that Sen. Joe Lieberman spoke at the GOP convention and endorsed a Republican. This is huge news. Lieberman was the VP candidate for the other party in the 2000 election. It would be akin to Jack Kemp coming out and backing Obama. Instead, the news media focused on Palin’s daughter. I watched the NBC news that night. Brian Williams was talking about the same thing that Entertainment Tonight covered in its top story. How does that happen? Then, this week all the mainstream media has seemed to gloss over the Fannie and Freddie bailout without really exploring the executives who made the mess in the first place. This is huge news. It’s bigger than Enron or MCI Worldcomm. Where is the outrage?
  • We need a car powered by political bull because both parties are full of it. Political bull is an endless American resource. I think our top scientists should get started on this idea.
  • I feel bad that I don’t really feel bad that Tom Brady got hurt. Something inside me strongly dislikes the Patriots. As a Christian, I should have compassion on Brady. But I kind of think it would be interesting if what happened to Bledsoe happens to him. (just being honest)
  • Getting back to Palin, McCain should outline Palin’s duties. I suggest that McCain should put her in charge of a blue ribbon taskforce assigned to develop a national energy plan. She could chair the study group that would bring together the best minds and leaders on the issue. Secondly, I suggest that McCain put her in charge of a government efficiency/cutting the pork initiative. Clinton did the same thing with Al Gore in the 90s. Hopefully, this time it would work.
  • Interesting new Website of the week: www.blueletterbible.org. It is awesome!
  • ABC should bring back Monday Night Football for those who don’t have ESPN.

That’s all the rant that is fit to print.