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The Enemy Wins When We Hate

Jesus said, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:25).

As I have watched the events unfold both before and after the election, I am aware that my real enemy is not the person who disagrees with me politically. It is not the person who has a different worldview or follows another religion from mine. My real enemy is Satan, the forces of darkness, lying spirits and sin. In the Beatitudes, Jesus called on His followers to love those who hate you. As a Christian, I am called to love everyone, including those who anger or annoy me. It is hard, and I struggle with it just like the next person.

The real enemy is anger, hate, sin, pride, lies and those things that would divide the body of Christ. Some “Christians” have said some horrible things over the past six months. And any way that I have fueled those flames, please know that I apologize. I am asking for forgiveness for the body of Christ for those who claim to be Christians and have spewed hatred, malice and anger.

Can we disagree? Sure, we can. Can we vote for different people? You bet. Can we believe in different futures for America and the world? Yes, we can. But at the end of the day, we need to treat each other with mutual respect. This means allowing those who are upset about the outcome of the election to vent or mourn. And it means those who are happy with the result can celebrate. This situation calls on everyone to be aware of the feelings of others. The guy who I openly liked (Gary Johnson) didn’t win either.

Elections have real outcomes, and those who win get to decide what the agenda will be. So this is not an editorial calling for the Republicans to fold up and sheepishly put away their agenda. But it is a call for civility to listen and understand the other side. All the major players in the presidential stage have acted with extreme grace and maturity since the election. This includes President Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton and President –elect Donald Trump. I hope and pray this continues even though I know the various sides will work to defend the principles they hold dear.

As President Obama said this is an intramural scrimmage not a war between two different countries. I have friends and family on all sides of this election. And I want them to know that I love them. I want them to know that I am here to listen. Do I believe that God is still in control? You bet. Do I understand how that thought might not be very comforting to those who are overcome with grief in the moment? Yes, just like it may not have seemed a comfort to the Israelites in the Bible who were oppressed and lived in exile.

Even though I was not a fan of Barack Obama, I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and pray for him. I was a bit afraid when he was first elected because of strong disagreements with his policies. As a person, I liked Obama and was proud that the country had overcome racial barriers. As a politician, I feared his solutions would only make our problems in the country worse. And I understand that at this point in time, there are millions who feel the same way about Trump.

I have no idea what the man I have called “Hair piece” will do as president. But I am going to give Trump the same benefit of the doubt as Obama. And I hope that Trump can be a better man in the White House than he has shown on the campaign trail. I do believe that people can change. Otherwise, the cross would be useless. I do believe that Jesus can redeem anyone.

If Trump turns out to be a nightmare and tramples on the rights of U.S. citizens or acts in inhumane ways, I will be right there with the oppressed standing for them. And I will publicly stand up for them in any way that I can. I will fervently defend the Constitution if Trump tries to become some sort of fascist leader.

Do we need to move on from hysteria? Yes, at some point. And I will be patient enough to realize that some people need a chance to decompress. Do many people have legitimate grievances with Trump and his rhetoric? Yes, I think so. I have personally criticized many things that Trump has said and done in the past. But even for Trump’s harshest critics, the best thing they can do is be vigilant, pray and act to mobilize socially to defend their rights in peaceful, non-disruptive ways.

Upon reflection, the real enemy is within when I and others let anger, fear, frustration, disillusionment or resentment lead me/them to act in ways that do not reflect Christ, who is the essence of love. The real enemy is not the other person but the powers of sin and darkness in the world. The real enemy wins when we hate.

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Can a Christian Be a Libertarian?

It seems that the core of the Libertarian worldview is both very Biblical and also anti-Christian at the same time. I am not talking about particular political positions as much as its  focus on individual liberty and what it means to be free.

Christianity is full of apparent paradoxes. One of the hardest to cope with is the fact that to be free from sin we have to submit and give over our liberty to Christ.

The official Libertarian party platform preamble states, “As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.” It goes on to further state, “We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.”

Scripture in many places suggest that God has given man free will to make decisions, and that we will indeed be held accountable for our actions. Instead of stamping out robots, God created humanity with the ability to reason and make choices. Although God does intervene in many cases, He also takes a very hands off approach at times allowing us to discover for ourselves the folly of our ways. The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) is a perfect example of this situation. Just like that father who allows his son to squander away his inheritance, God doesn’t micromanage our lives, and indeed in many cases He seems to hide so that we have to really search to find Him. God could blind us with His glory at any given moment and create a situation where we would have little choice to acquiesce to His demands. But God doesn’t want that. He wants us to truly love Him and become like Him in character. And that is more caught than forced upon us by an edict.

So in many ways, God seems like a classic Libertarian. But then again, He is far from it when you see the values that He demonstrates and calls His people to follow. The perfect symbol for Jesus is the cross. And that is the ultimate example of Him setting aside his rights and making sacrifices. It was direct divine intervention to solve humanity’s biggest problems. Instead of running the show, Jesus submitted to the will of His Father. Jesus demonstrated complete humility and selfless love. True, it was His own decision. But he set aside His rights for a greater glory and purpose. For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. And that joy was you and me coming to salvation and true freedom. Jesus knew that freedom comes at a cost. And many times it requires us to set aside our rights.

One of the pitfalls I see for Christians when it comes to Libertarian political philosophy is the emphasis on individual liberty can easily turn the focus to self and our own desires. But that is not what Jesus promoted. He said that whoever would follow Him, must take up a cross, deny himself and follow Christ’s example (Luke 9:23). This is symbolic language with a real world application. We are to put aside our desires for actions that achieve God’s purposes in the world. And that is exactly what Jesus did. He is our example.

Libertarians came make their arguments so much about freedom that they don’t realize the things they fight for actually cause addiction, depression, bondage, self loathing, or possibly even death. While God calls us to be His sons, we are also His slaves. And that means true Christians lay down their rights knowing that they can trust God and His ways to be best.

I am reminded of what Michael Card wrote in his book, A Better Freedom, “The New Testament does not offer the choice between slavery or freedom, but only whose slave we will be — the world’s or Christ’s. Jesus does not offer freedom from slavery but instead a a new kind of slavery that provides the only true freedom. I cannot buy my own freedom. Only Jesus can.”

This is difficult if not impossible to do without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. So it isn’t that liberty and personal choice are bad. The problem for a Christian is when we elevate personal choice over the Word of God.

These are tough words, and nobody really wants to hear them – certainly not Americans. What the Christian Gospel offers is a radical reversal to the values of humanity. The cross is freedom. Death leads to life. And renouncing our rights to God’s direction leads to true freedom. Our pursuits are our undoing when they lead us away from God’s best. It isn’t that desire is bad. It is that our desires take pleasure in lesser things  that lead to less and less freedom.

Can you be a Libertarian and be a Christian? Yes. Just like you can be a Democrat, a Republican or a third-party voter and be a Christian. We are not saved by our politics. But our spiritual beliefs should guide our political stances and positions. The problem with some Libertarians that I have met is that they value their freedom above all else. And in that they will find it difficult to let go and truly trust God who offers the greatest freedom imaginable.

Choosing Among Evils

With that headline, you already know what I am going to write about – the 2016 presidential election. For the record, there is no candidate that I can enthusiastically support. I have severe problems with all of the four candidates who are on enough ballots to theoretically be able to win – Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.

In the primaries, the candidate I liked the most was Rand Paul followed by Marco Rubio and then Ted Cruz. If I had to describe my party affiliation it would a Tea Party Libertarian. I know such a thing doesn’t exist. I like the Tea Party because it wants less taxation, smaller government, more local control and less interference from federal regulators. I like the Libertarians because they are the only major party left that agrees with small government and individual freedom. I don’t like the Libertarian party’s stance on abortion, but I do know that there are many Libertarians who are pro-life.

There are a number of much smaller third parties that do have some quality candidates. But these are on so few state ballots and would require such a massive write-in effort to achieve any substantial vote totals that I believe voting for them is pretty much a wasted vote. At least a vote for the Libertarian or Green party will register some protest on the national political radar.

When it comes to voting for a president, you have to analyze the platform, character, experience and leadership qualities of the candidates. Some people don’t care as much about the person as the party affiliation or platform. Others focus more on the personality of the individual. Some will talk about the Supreme Court and who the various candidates would appoint. I believe that you can love Jesus and vote for practically any candidate running. I do not stand in judgment of any person who votes his or her conscious before God.

It is important to keep this election in perspective. Anyone who is a Christian must remember that his or her ultimate trust is in God not earthly leaders. In Scripture you can see that God even works through pagan, evil kings to work His purposes. Sure, we need to make our votes count and use wisdom when we enter the voting booth. But ultimately, I lose in this election if I allow the current media circus to destroy my public witness and ability to be an ambassador for the Kingdom of God. No matter how mad I get. I have to remember that my trust is in God alone. Whoever becomes our next president, I will pray for him or her to lead with sound judgment.

The issues that matter most to me are controlling the national debt, turning more control over to state and local authorities, preserving individual liberties, protecting the unborn, creating sane immigration policies, the safety and welfare of the American democracy and increasing economic opportunities for all. My problem is that I feel no candidate reflects my views in all of these areas. I tend to side with Donald Trump on tax law changes, environmental reforms, gun rights and pro-life policies. I sort of side with Hillary Clinton on immigration policy. I don’t really find agreement with Jill Stein on much except for reining in the NSA and the surveillance state.

Generally, I believe that liberal policies are not best for the economy nor for fixing social problems. In many cases though, I do care deeply about the concerns that liberals raise – racial inequalities, high college debt, prison and sentencing reform, fixing the illegal immigration problem in a humane way and improving health care for all, etc. For far too long the media has painted conservatives as people who don’t care about those issues, and that is not true.

When I took a test to analyze my stances on major issues, I found that I agreed most with Gary Johnson, and that was only 80% of the time. I definitely do not like Johnson’s stance on a number of core issues. These most notably are his opinions on abortion, religious freedom and environmental policy. But when it comes to the other major issues, I tend to side with him. And I do believe both Johnson and Bill Weld have experience in doing what matters most – improving and cutting the size of government.

Yes, I know about the recent foreign policy gaffes made by Johnson. But I think that is why Bill Weld is there to help make up the difference. It seems clear that Johnson would defer a lot to Weld’s political experience and background.

Many people will say, “You are voting for Hillary. You are throwing away your vote.” But those are bad arguments for pulling the lever for a man you wouldn’t let watch your pet cat much less run the country. I hope that enough people are like me that they will vote for Gary Johnson too as a protest against the current two-party system that does not reflect how many of us believe today. Some will say, “That is only going to play into the Democrat’s hands.” And I believe they are right for a time. I believe the GOP will crack first. But eventually (probably in only a few elections), three parties will lead to four or more. And then we will start to see our views more widely represented. Collaboration will become even more important.

When we demonize the other people in the process, we are making it more difficult to fix the problems that we claim to care about. Honestly, we will need to work with everyone to create meaningful change in this country. I happen to have some strong political and even philosophical differences with many liberals, but I still respect them as people who mean well. Unfortunately, I feel that many times those on the left can’t say the same thing about those on the right. And my biggest problem with Donald Trump is that he is the embodiment of every false lie that the media says about conservatives. I don’t think Trump is truly conservative. And he certainly is not a Constitutionalist. I haven’t seen him say much about the Constitution in his rallies or TV interviews.

Just when you think the revelations about Donald Trump couldn’t get any worse, out pops tapes that may have just shipwrecked Trump’s candidacy. Long before the latest revelations I had severe reservations about Trump and was leaning strongly against not voting for him. Now, I know that I have no choice. And I really feel that voting for a respectful atheist who will defend the Constitution and work to bring common-sense solutions is better than a die-hard liberal or a fake conservative, business mogul who is the biggest narcissist to ever seek the presidency.

The only way I could change my vote is if Trump drops out and the Republicans nominate Pence in his place. Otherwise, I will be voting for Gary Johnson in November. And I urge others to do the same. You can find out more about Gary Johnson and Bill Weld at https://www.johnsonweld.com/.

15 Incredible Years – What’s Next for Chaille…

Since 1999, I have had the joy of calling Mechanicsville Christian Center (MCC) my church home. For twelve of those years, I have served the families and students of MCC as a volunteer youth leader in the high school youth group. It has been a joy to see so many young people grow in their faith and relationship with Christ. For the last couple of years, I have been on a journey with the Lord involving ways to help even more young people at a crucial transition phase of life. And doors have opened wide for me to launch just such a ministry at a different local church based in downtown Richmond. It was with a sad heart for what I am leaving behind and yet with full excitement for this opportunity and how it can bless the Kingdom of God, that I announced last week at the Mix that I would soon be leaving MCC and stepping down from its youth ministry. My last week at the Mix will be this week, and I am going to be speaking and will share my three challenges for high schoolers to effectively follow Jesus. Please come this Thursday to the Mix if you would like to hear what I have to say. I know that MCC will be praying me out in the future as a missionary to do this exciting work in the city. And I am so thankful for the support that the pastors, elders and MCC family have given me. I especially want to thank Pastor Carter, Pastor Daniel, Pastor Mitch, Pastor Dwayne for their support, guidance and encouragement through this process. And I am thankful for guidance in developing the ministry that I received from Pastor Philip Watkins, Pastor Fred Michaux, Jim Patterson, Rev. Tim Matthews and many others. So what is this ministry? The idea is to develop a gap year program for young adults. A gap year is a transition phase between high school and college/work life or college and work life. Many major colleges and universities have recently recognized the value of taking a gap year off to prepare young people for the difficulties of higher education or the workplace. Most young people don’t know what they want to do with their life at the age of 18. This school will focus on helping young people discover their unique callings, giftings and passions to prepare them for the future. It will help them develop a disciplined routine to follow and know Christ. This school will also allow them to work or go to college part-time and learn how to engage the secular world around them with the message of the Gospel. Through one-on-one mentoring and counseling, this school will also help young people process through their life experiences and even emotional struggles. And the school will include outreach opportunities both locally and around the globe. This school will take critical aspects of the DNA of YWAM DTS, Bridge Builders, communal church life, and a college ministry without really being any of those things. This ministry (which has yet to be named) will be centered in downtown Richmond where students will come to live in community while engaging in the world around them. It will be a discipleship and a leadership development school for both young men and women between the ages of 18-25 years old. And the hope is to open up the opportunity to young people from all over the city and possibly other parts of the country as well. If you have a young person in your family who wants to follow God closer and is not sure about next steps, this new opportunity could very well be for them. If you want to know more, email me at chailleb@gmail.com. Please keep me and the school in your prayers. I know this is a big faith leap for me. But I am sure that it is safer and better out on the water with Jesus than sitting in the boat wondering what if I had dared to follow. In Christ’s Love — Chaille Brindley

Arrows for Israel – Part 1

The following is a brief description of the first part of my current trip to Israel. It covers my time with a group of intercessors and worshippers as we went throughout the land. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this team, which was led by my good friend Jim Pociluyko. Check out the team blog at www.arrows4israel.com.

Our trip started in Tel Aviv. We stayed two days in this major city, which is quite a contrast to Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is modern in every sense of the word. From skyscrapers to skimpy sunbathers, the city is the New York of the Middle East. We spent time praying for more Messianic Jewish Believers to enter the land and to help bolster the Church in Israel. 

While in Tel Aviv, we met with Elana Cantor. She told us some very gripping stories about the difficulties that young Jewish Christians face in the land. Hearing the heart of this godly mother and teacher was enough to make us all cry. The next day we visited Caesarea on the way to Haifa. Caesarea is important because this is where Peter met with Cornelius. The first real outreach to Gentiles took place here. The apostle Paul spent time in Caesarea before heading to Rome. This was a major port built by Herod to showcase the importance of his kingdom to the Roman Empire.

We then went North to Haifa, a major port city. Haifa is also the home of the Baha’i Faith religion. We visited the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, which were eerily beautiful. I sensed while I was there that the gardens suggest a false peace and tranquility connected with the Baha’i Faith. I spent some time praying that false religions would be revealed as lifeless without the power to cover sin. Later that night, we prayed around the ports for Israel and its economy. A few of the team members also had some wonderful conversations with some Jews on the roof of our hotel. This was one of many casual conversations that the team had with Israelis about our visit and love for Yeshua.

The next day, we fellowshipped with a large congregation called Tents of Mercy in Haifa. This was an incredible time as people there represented a number of nations from around the world, including Israel, USA, Korea, Russia, etc. I really felt this was a picture of what heaven will be like as people gather from around the globe to praise the name of Jesus. From Haifa, we headed to Megiddo, the site commonly know as Armageddon. This ancient fort city is located along a major trade route overlooks the Jezreel Valley. It is some of the most fought over land on the planet. We prayed about  the impact of prophecy and wars on the land as well as the End Times. It was a powerful moment of prayer as we asked for wisdom to understand how this site speaks to us today. How are we challenging the forces of evil in our hometowns?

As we made our way North, we went to the Galilee region, which has always been my favorite spot. Not only is this where  Jesus did most of his miracles and teaching, it is also a beautiful location. It is less secular than Tel Aviv and Haifa and less religious than Jerusalem. We met some locals as well as some Jewish guys from New York as we sang worship songs along the beach our first night in the Galilee. We visited Capernaum the next day and spent time praying for the region. Capernaum is the city where Jesus did a number of major miracles. It is the hometown of Simon Peter. We had a strong time of praying for the people in Galilee along the shore. Later that night, we met with a group of Messianic Jews who leader a small congregation in Tiberias. This was a highlight of the trip for many of us on the team. The Holy Spirit really flowed through our worship and prayers. We could really sense the exchange of grace that took place between our team and the local church leaders. Pastor Claude from Tiberias spoke some very frank words about the importance of Israel in God’s plans. I really felt this was a confirmation of my call to help the American church realize that God is not down with the Jewish people or Israel.

A number of the young folks on the team were baptized in the Galilee the next day. It was a very moving experience for Jim who had worked with many of these young people for a few years. Later that day, we went to the Golan Heights to see and pray over the Northern border of Israel. This is always a moving experience because you can look out on Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

We then went to an IDF Artillery Base and spent some time talking with a handful of soldiers. This was one of the most moving experiences for many of us on the trip. We really feel like we connected with them and lifted their spirits. Debbie directly talked to a number of them about Yeshua. It was a divine moment. This base was supposed to be visited that day by a group of important dignitaries. At the last moment, the group had to cancel. The entire base was really down about it, but our visit lifted their spirits. I hope to keep contact with a few of the soldiers that we met. I know that our conversations were a highlight for me so far. I was really impressed with the IDF soldiers, which makes we wonder if the IDF gets a bump rap in the mainstream international press. I think so.

There is more to tell about the first part of my trip. I will leave that for the second update. Please pray for me as I get ready to go serve on an IDF base as a civilian tomorrow. I will be put on a facility to do non-military activities that help the state of Israel. This is a secular program that fosters relationships with Israel and its friends abroad. I look forward to the challenge. But I a honestly a bit nervous about it too. Godspeed!

Driving Tips in Israel

Okay, I am writing this just in case I ever drive in the Holy Land again. It may be somewhat humorous to others.

  • The police tend to drive with their lights on in Israel. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have been pulled over for a traffic violation.
  • There are some roads in big cities that are restricted to buses and taxi cabs only. All others cars may be fined $500 NIS for being on those roads. Especially watch for this in Jerusalem.
  • They don’t call it the Old City for nothing. Jerusalem is not the best place to start your experience driving in Israel. Old City = Small streets, lots of traffic + angry taxi cab drivers.
  • Highway 6 is a toll road. You won’t know it until after the fact because there is no toll booth.
  • Lots of people hitchhike in Israel. But that doesn’t mean an American should do it.
  • Get a GPS device. It is worth the money. Don’t rent a car without getting a GPS device.
  • Israelis love to give directions based on either the route  name or proximity to their favorite falafel stand. Get detailed directions based on route numbers. That is much easier than trying to read Hebrew.
  • Israelis don’t like for you to stop at a caution sign. Caution means Go!
  • You have to enter a national ID number or passport ID number to pump gas in Israel. The gas station attendant hit so many buttons that I thought he was ordering lunch for everyone in line to get gas.
  • Israeli radio sounds like American radio. The only difference is Hebrew.
  • The Israelis are great folks. And it wasn’t really that bad driving in the land if you have a sense of humor.

Why I Wish I Could Vote for Don Coleman

Don Coleman is a good friend and spiritual mentor who is running for the 7th district seat on the Richmond School Board. I just finished talking with him on his porch, and I believe he is the kind of man that most people want to see run and win public office.

I wish I lived in his district so that I could vote for him. Unfortunately, I don’t live in the city. But on election day, I will be out in his district encouraging voters to vote for him. Beyond just his personal friendship, I cherish Don as a truly unique individual. He knows how to bring people together and inspire them to work for a greater good. His faith guides his actions.

Here’s why I wish I could vote for Don. If you are in his district, consider electing my friend who will work to solve many of the problems in the Richmond Public Schools.

  • Don truly cares about the community and has volunteered for years to encourage people to reach their full potential.
  • Don will work across party lines and seek to reconcile divided factions that have paralyzed the city over the past few years.
  • Don is truly running to bring unity and develop solutions not out of some sense of ego or self fulfillment. He handles authority well and knows how to listen to get to the root of problems.
  • Don has lived a life of struggle and is familiar with the problems facing many kids today.
  • Don brings years of experience working with kids, families and education.
  • Quite simply, Don is one of the best men that I know.

Find out more at http://doncoleman.org