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Everyone has their own path to faith, or lack thereof, and everyone’s personal connection with their faith is different. Unfortunately, many of those with strong religious beliefs are prone to antagonism and even hatred when it comes to addressing those with differences. In this episode of the podcast, “God’s Not Dead” author Rice Broocks illustrates how emotional allegiance is often to blame for this discordance, and how we can transcend these rifts.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here, we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD and addictions.
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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome back. Tana and I are with Pastor Rice Broocks. We are having such an interesting discussion.
Tana Amen: Heavy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And we are in Where is God Week?
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Every book I've signed for the last 30 years, I always sign it with hope, because that's what our work does, is you can be better, and I can prove it. That's really what I felt when I watched the God's Not Dead movies, is that there's transformation and hope. And you've been doing this for a long time. What keeps you inspired everyday to know where God is?
Rice Broocks: Gosh, let me ponder that. That's a great question. Little story. After 9/11, the day after 9/11, I drove to New York from Nashville. I was just watching the buildings go down, and I just couldn't stay home. So, I'd start driving. I thought surely my wife would tell me no, but she said, "I think you should go." So, we drive, drive all night, get there on the 13th of September, and as I was leaving the house there in Nashville, I had this thought to call someone in the media, and a local NBC anchor, and our local affiliate there in Nashville, and she answered 10:30 at night. I said, "Do you know anybody in the New York media?" She said, "I've got one name. Let me make sure I get a number."
Well, the name she gave me was the name, her name was Alice Ree. Alice was a producer for MSNBC, and when we got there two days after 9/11 at night, as close as we could get to Ground Zero. It was called The Armory, and everybody had their pictures up of missing. If you remember those images of people saying, "My friend is missing," and they had these little makeshift posters, but there was really not much hope, but they were just to the last, until they knew that their loved ones were definitely gone, they were going to fight for them and try to find them.
Well, Alice Ree looked at me, here she is, and she stared at me, she said, "What are you doing here?" Had three other pastors, and she said, "I was at Columbine covering that," and says, "Here you guys show up," she said, "I just prayed, God, if you're here, if you're real, why are you letting this happen," and she says, "I was just," in her own word basically about to give up on God, and you guys show up.
So, I go back to Nashville on the Sunday after 9/11, and I stood up in our church, and I said, "I don't know how we're going to do it, but we're going to plan a congregation in New York." And a guy comes out of the crowd, he said, "I have a theater right on Times Square. You can use it."
Tana Amen: Wow.
Rice Broocks: So, if you know Times Square, it's right where the ABC corner is, and Toys R' Us was there. I mean, just a few feet up was the Lamb's Theater, and this guy was affiliated with it. So, within one month, I would do my three services in Nashville, and jump on a plane and speak at New York City. I did that for an entire year.
Tana Amen: Wow.
Rice Broocks: She ended up finder our church, and became a part of it. I sat there Sunday night after Sunday night in New York City, one month after 9/11, quite the contrast to the Nashville bible belt crowd, and had to hear the stories of people that had lost someone, and that very question of, where was God?
I wrote a little book called Finding Fath at Ground Zero, and Larry King actually mentioned on the air. I just wrote this five little chapters. We just gave it all over the city, and that was the first chapter, Where Was God? And I think was inspires me is to see that moment where people who could've easily turned from God, and as you just mentioned about hope, just suddenly, something hits them that this is not God that did that. God is the one that's the solution, he's not the problem.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, God did not create the Holocaust. God hated 9/11.
Rice Broocks: Hated 9/11.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But if you don't have choice, then you don't have free will.
Tana Amen: Well, and we live in a world right now where there's just, as we were talking before we started, there's so much vitriol, there's so much hatred. There's just so much hatred toward all religions, not just Christianity, not just Muslims, not just Jews. It's like, there are people from every walk of life who hate every other religion, and as a Christian, that makes me sad, because we have people who watch us from all over the world. I have friends who are Muslim. I have friends who are Jewish. I have friends who are ... how can we get to a place where we can believe what we believe and respect, you know, I respect my friends. Why can't we do this with people from around the world? What will it take to be able to believe what we believe, and be able to have a respectful conversation about this.
Rice Broocks: Yeah, two parts to that, and I'll try to be brief, brief and amazing. First of all, Christianity is true. The reason I'm a Christian is because it's true. So, when a parent says to me, "Well, I don't want to force my religion down my children's throat," which I don't believe in. But I say, but you don't say that about the multiplication tables. And the reason why is because you believe they're true. You're not quite sure about this. It's almost like Christianity, or whatever your religion is, it's like your culture. It's like USC versus UCLA, it's really more of an emotional allegiance rather than what's true.
So, if you really come, first of all, to believe that Christianity is true, God really exists, he really sent his son who really lived in history, he really died on a cross and rose again in history. So, out of the confidence of that, then you say, well, now as a Christian, what am I commanded to be like? So, the first thing you're supposed to do is love your neighbor.
Tana Amen: Right, right.
Rice Broocks: So, love God, love your neighbor.
Tana Amen: Hello.
Rice Broocks: Hello, you know. Or as my kids, like, love your neighbor, or something. They always put or something.
Tana Amen: Or something, yeah.
Rice Broocks: Not, all of my kids, they'll be watching this. So, I lived in Israel, studied in Israel. I do programs where I brought, then, the ambassador Danny Ayalon from Israel to the United States. He came to our church. Ron Dermer, the current Israelian ambassador, he's been in my home there in Nashville. And so, we're building bridges between Christians and Jews, and the Jewish community. And when they say to me, well, why are you doing this? I'm saying, look, I'm not here because I'm a good guy. I'm not a good guy, apart from God. God changed me in college. So, now, he has commanded me to love my neighbor, so I'm really commanded to love you. That doesn't mean I'm loving you to try to convert you. I'd like you to believe what I'm saying is true.
I lived in Algeria. My dad drilled oil wells in the Sahara Desert. So, I lived in Algiers, which is a beautiful city. Obviously, very Muslim now, and in most part, militant. But yet, we can go into people of other faiths and other believes confident that what we have is called public truth. It's a statement made by, I won't mention his name, but he's a legendary theologian who came back from India to England, and saw that Christianity in the 70s was kind of receding in England. And he said the reason why, is he said because people see their faith as private truth, not public truth. He said because the gospel happened in history, it's public truth.
So, we come into the public square to present our gospel, but we do it with ... he refers Peter 3:15, says, "Always be ready to give a reason for the hope that's been in you," and people love to quote that, but there's another part, with gentleness and respect.
Tana Amen: Yes.
Rice Broocks: And so, as important at it is to teach somebody the truth of Christianity, it's the way it's presented. I was getting my coffee one day, and this guy doing my coffee reached down, and he grabbed my cup, and handed me my coffee like this with his fingers, [inaudible 00:09:00], like I was getting my fingernails done.
Tana Amen: Oh, that's so funny.
Rice Broocks: And it's like, and his hands didn't need a manicure. And I just looked at him, and I said, "We're going to start all over." I was just real kind. And I think a lot of times, we give people the gospel, but our presentation is so off that people are repulsed by the demeanor that we have. And I think when you start ... I teach a little principle called SALT. You start a conversation. You ask questions. You listen, and then you tell the story. So, don't start in the other. The other version is the TALK method. You start talking. You argue. You get louder, and then you kick them.
So, I think if you will listen respectfully to people, then they will in turn listen to you. So, we can exchange our beliefs, make our claims for truth, but then trust that the truth of our message will win, not the emotion or the anger. It's like when you're married. I always said in marriage seminars, the more right my wife is, the louder I get. In other words, it's like, she's really got me mad.
Tana Amen: Right.
Rice Broocks: And so, sometimes, we have to realize that when someone's right ... if I'm right, I don't have to be angry. If I'm not right, I can't afford to be.
Tana Amen: That's a good point. I like that.
Rice Broocks: In either case, the best thing is, is if you keep your cool, if you tell the truth and don't have to have the last word, I think that wins the day. Remember Rosey Grier? Remember Rosey?
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I know Rosey. He's one of our players.
Rice Broocks: Well, you tell Rosey hello, but Rosey, when he had a moment of faith back in 1980, came to Christ, he traveled with me for about three years. It was Rice and Rosey on [inaudible 00:10:50].
Tana Amen: How cute.
Rice Broocks: Anyway, so. But Rosey basically would ... I'm just with a brain surgeon, or brain doctor now, I'm forgetting why I brought it up. See, so now you're diagnosing me on this camera. You forgot [crosstalk 00:11:07]. I think the point that I was saying is that everywhere we would go with Rosey, he would make the point to people that it was the kindness of God that led. It was like, it was kindness. Romans 2:4, "The kindness of God leads you to repentance."
Tana Amen: That's the thing I noticed today. Whether it's religion or politics, or whatever's going on, people are just so hateful. How are you ever going to hear what someone is saying?
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, go through SALT again.
Tana Amen: Without hatefulness.
Dr. Daniel Amen: SALT again is?
Rice Broocks: You start a conversation. You ask questions. You listen, and then you talk. Then, you tell the story.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So, that's not what's happening?
Tana Amen: No.
Dr. Daniel Amen: In our society. And people don't know, it's really insidious, news channels purposefully lead with negativity and hatred, because that's actually what pushes on the nucleus accumbens, which we talk about, and it drives fear, which then draws viewers. And we are being sabotaged if we allow that to happen. Stay with us. I have a question you have to answer.
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