Lil’ Wayne, Pepsi and Twisted Sexuality / By Ryan Rindels

Last month, Pepsi Co. broke ties with the rapper Lil’ Wayne over controversy stemming from a song released on his most recent album titled “Karate Chop.” In the tune Wayne describes beating a woman in a sexual act until part of her body “looks like Emmitt Till.”

Till was a young African American killed in Mississippi in 1955. Originally from Chicago, he was visiting relatives for the summer. At some point, Till allegedly whistled at a white married woman named Carolyn Bryant who proceeded to tell her husband of Till’s actions. Her husband, Roy Bryant and a friend, J.W. Milam proceeded to track Till down, nab him at gun point and drag him to a barn where they beat him mercilessly before shooting him in the head. The men then threw Till’s body in the Tallahatchie river where it was discovered by some boys fishing a few days later.

Till’s mother was so distraught and outraged that she had her son’s body transported to Chicago where she insisted Emmitt be given an open-casket funeral. His mother’s wishes were carried out and Till’s partially decomposed and grossly disfigured face was displayed at the service. The incident was published in the paper along with the photo of Till’s swollen corpse.

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Should the Pursuit of Gender Equality Lead to the Potential Drafting of our Women? / By Ryan Rindels

The Las Vegas Sun recently published an article titled, Listen-up ladies, Uncle Sam might want you too, which discusses the possibility of women being drafted to fight in the military.

In light of a recent law that now opens up combat units to women who meet the physical qualifications, commentators have noted that conscription, irrespective of gender has become plausible in the future.

Drafting women to fight alongside men may make many uneasy, but strict egalitarians point out the consistency of such a policy. Why not? What makes women different from men anyway? Gender is a social construct after all. The idea of drafting women to fight in combat is a disconcerting idea. It is still to be seen whether the Federal government would enact such a policy, but considering conscription is widely unpopular and an all-volunteer force is sufficient, compulsive service for women is not a pressing issue.

For a strict pragmatist, the deciding factor is whether a man or woman can physically and emotionally do their job, not whether they were physiologically born a man or woman. This pattern of thinking is evident in more ways than one. For instance, read Greg Gibson’s article on a recent Massachusetts school that has removed gender boundaries by granting boys and girl access to each other’s locker rooms.

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An Issue of the Heart: How the Connecticut Shooting Draws Attention to Human Depravity and Redemption / By Ryan Rindels

In light of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting — 3 weeks old by now — victims are daily being buried and we are, at times, still looking for answers.

Why did this happen? How could it have been stopped? What compelled a 20-year old, white suburban, middle-class kid to murder his own mother, 6 educators and 20 children?

In the chaotic tide of anger, sorrow, and futility, we invariably go back to Jesus. Jesus is sought as the source of comfort, assurance and hope. But he’s also himself questioned—either explicitly or implicitly, he’s questioned. And Christians certainly wonder what he’d say if he was with us in bodily form and witnessed the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.

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The Seminary Days of Francis Chan / By Ryan Rindels

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary was privileged to have well-known author, speaker, and church planter, Francis Chan, speak at chapel this September.

Chan has had a profound influence on many among this generation who have read any of his books, listened to his sermons, or heard him speak at conferences. His best-seller, Crazy Love, is a favorite among evangelicals. Crazy Love inspired and convicted me to get involved in ministry at a pregnancy resource center doing counseling—something I wouldn’t have done before reading it.

Upon introducing Chan, Golden Gate’s president, Dr. Jeff Iorg called him, “a Prophet in our day.”

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The Nones: A New Generation of Seekers and Skeptics / By Ryan Rindels

If you’ve done evangelism among the millennials (those born during the years 1977-2000) you’ve likely heard the moderately absurd statement, “I don’t really believe anything.” If you haven’t yet, expect to hear it a lot more in the future.

USA today published an article last month describing a growing category of adults who claim no religious affiliation. The article was titled, “Meet the ‘Nones’: An Emerging Force.”

The ‘Nones’ claim no religious affiliation, are typically not part of a faith community and generally have a conglomeration of beliefs.

Author Cathy Grossman pointed out the increase of this semi-spiritual, syncretistic demographic: “The big news about people with no religious identity, the Nones, isn’t that they’re No. 2 now in the USA, 19.6% and climbing, it’s the diversity among these 46 million people.”

Noteworthy among the Nones is their apparent apathy. They are more Oprah Winfrey than Christopher Hitchens. They’re not the ardent atheist bulldogs of the recent past. They are skeptical of any religious dogma or definitive statements about faith.

As Grossman said, Nones are seekers and spiritually inclined—at least in principle. “They’re still open to spirituality. The study find: 68% believe at least somewhat in a God or a higher power, 41% say they pray, 23% consider religion at least somewhat important in their life.” [Read more…]

A Restored Creation: A Theological Case for Caring for the Earth / By Ryan Rindels

Finding the words “Christian” and “Conservative” in close proximity is expected. Rearrange the letters a bit and you’ll find a term popularly dubbed an enemy of the faith: Conservation. Okay, well “enemy” might be a bit hyperbolic, but suspicion and dissonance typically exists between Christianity, Ecological movements, and their respective adherents.

In most evangelical circles, the lines are strictly drawn between tending to the spiritual needs of an individual (namely salvation) and secondly, to their physical needs. As for the ecological realm of life, the majority of Christians give little regard. Christ came to redeem people and his salvific work has nothing to do with the natural world. Whatever the planet yields is to be used for mankind’s good, whatever the cost. There is (at least functionally) no intrinsic value in non-human creation. Devoting efforts to recycling, preservation or considering ethics in agriculture is irrelevant.

Contrastingly, the conservation movement is typified in naturalists, transcendentalists, and pantheists of various kinds: “dirt worshippers,” “tree huggers,” or just simply “hippies.”

Maintaining a worldview that emphasizes oneness with nature, these adherents stress the fact that humanity, lacking uniqueness or value that the biblical account claims, has no right to manipulate natural resources to its own end. In these circles, it’s often proclaimed, “We’re no more special or valuable than the rest of the physical universe and therefore, we should live in unity with it.”

But the Bible says people were uniquely made in God’s image. Animals and plants glorify God through order and instinct but are not capable of relating to their creator intimately as humans are.

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Genuine Love: Hate What is Evil, Embrace All That is Good / By Ryan Rindels

The following is a manuscript from a sermon I preached on August 12th at the Nevada County Fair (Grass Valley, CA)

Love is a theme resonating with humans in all aspects of their lives. It’s an intrinsic need to be loved. Countless songs have, and continue to declare that, “love is the answer.” From the Beatles to Bob Marley to Justin Beiber, the consensus is love. It’s what we need, it’s what we want, it’s what will change this broken world. But if everyone has concluded that love is the answer, why is there is so much hate in the world? If the vast majority of the world that claims to be religious calls God (or their gods) love, why aren’t people loving? The answer is surprisingly simple: They don’t love—and they don’t really even know what love is. From the Bible we know that God is love (I John 4:8, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” We take great consolation in this. And we know the greatest act of love was God the Father sending Jesus Christ to earth to die for sinners like you and me. Everyone claims to know what love is, but qualifying precisely what defines it reveals the truth. Taking love as defined in Romans 12:9 and measuring it to what is seen in the world exposes truly loveless people. Love is the answer. But the ability to love in a groundbreaking, transformational, real way is only possible through the only true loving person who ever lived: Jesus Christ.

Prayer

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”—Rom 12:9 (ESV)

In Charles Dickens’ classic, A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton is an accomplished but dissolute lawyer during the late 18th century. He is sloppy, coarse, and a drunkard. His physical appearance, however, resembles Charles Darnay, a cultured, noble French aristocrat whom he defends in court. Carton confesses his love to Lucie, acknowledging his own inadequacies and unworthiness. Lucie has affection and sympathy for Carton but she loves Darnay. As the story proceeds, Darnay returns to France while the reign of terror is in full-swing. He is apprehended by the French authorities after they discover his aristocratic identity. He is eventually condemned to die by the guillotine. Carton, in a courageous act of sacrificial love for Lucie, acts as a substitution—having Darnay drugged in his dungeon and smuggled to safety in England. Carton desired Lucie’s ultimate happiness and knew saving Charles Darnay—even at the cost of his own life–was the only possible way.

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Fit For the Kingdom: The Importance of Diet and Exercise in Ministry / By Ryan Rindels

Growing up in a Southern Baptist church, it was often noted that Baptists were known for their love of food. This curious observation was usually told by a man who clearly had little concern for calorie counting or monitoring trans-fat. The audience would then give a hearty laugh of approval and proceed to indulge in a variety of dishes whose primary ingredients were sugar, mayonnaise and saturated fat.

As a kid, I found it peculiar that Baptists were boasting of sumptuous feasts while I was being grilled in school on the importance of food groups and the evils of fried chicken. But these differing philosophies created no crisis of faith. It was obvious who was on the right side of the fence.

I saw church members with substantial health problems and ailments invariably linked to a poor diet. The issues ranged from hypertension to hyperactivity. Thankfully, I was spared by a mom who adhered to healthy eating and made sure the family practiced the same.

Among many Christians and particularly ministers, a healthy lifestyle is a low priority. The reasons for this are the same as most Americans: a busy schedule, traveling, inconvenience etc. But the reason anything in life gets neglected is simply because it isn’t a priority. And it isn’t a priority because it’s not considered important. The evidence shows that a healthy diet and exercise is hardly relevant.

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Don’t Give the Kids a Cheap Gospel / By Ryan Rindels

How should we present the gospel to children? Is there a better way to effectively convey the salvation message to young ones? Are there aspects of the gospel that should be left out or minimized because kids won’t respond well? What’s to be done with sin, hell and judgment?

Are we being faithful to scripture? And how are the current methods faring?

My church finished a sports camp (our substitute for VBS) in which we had five days of instruction in four sports coupled with bible stories and fun activities in between.

Four biblical stories were shared during the week. Three were from Genesis: Noah, Abraham and Lot and Joseph.  “Character” themes were gleaned from each story and they included: Noah’s perseverance in building the ark, Abraham’s selflessness in deferring to Lot for choice of land and for Joseph’s story, (and I’m still struggling to find the correlation) “God doesn’t play favorites.”
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Graduation is Not the Most Important Day of Your Life / By Michelle Rindels

This manuscript is the commencement speech given by Sierra High School’s (Manteca, CA) 2005 Salutatorian….who also happens to be my amazing, talented sister, Michelle.  

If you’re sitting in these stands tonight, chances are you’ve received one of these lovely graduation announcements in the mail recently. About 8 months ago, when were given a chance to place orders for these beauties, Herff Jones & Company distributed a full-color catalogue to seniors. Inside were glamour shots of 100% Egyptian linen envelopes and embossed name cards with a classy touch of gold foil. There were even packs of translucent wax paper stuff that tucks inside the card to make those absolutely perfection invitations, the kind that, by the time you open the second envelope, you’re drooling. And to top it all off, the people of Herff Jones write, across the top of the catalogue, “Graduation: The Most Important Day of Your Life.”

Okay, maybe it was a marketing ploy. It obviously worked if I’m still quoting it. But it really got me thinking, is graduation the most important day of our lives? Sure, we’ve accomplished so much. To sit here tonight, to wear that mortarboard and that robe, means that you’ve had to accrue 275 credits. You had to pass algebra and dozens of other courses. You had to tangle with the monster known as the Senior Project, and then stand in front of four teachers to meet doomsday of Senior Boards with no defense but trembling hands and a shaking voice. Some didn’t win the battle. Some are numbered as casualties in the war against senioritis and uncleared Saturday school, and others were cut down in their prime by library fines or English term papers. But you’re here, a survivor, and I applaud you.

[Read more…]

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