Episode 141: The Love That is God – An Interview with Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt

In this episode we sit down with Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt to talk with him about his book The Love That is God: An Invitation to Christian Faith.

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God is love is the radical claim of the Christian faith… but Jesus fills this out by saying that no greater love has a man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends… so the love of God suddenly takes on a hard edge…

My students sometimes really struggle with the idea in Christianity that we might need to undergo a kind of painful loss in order to become truly happy… daily crucifixion is not a mere metaphor… 

We’re called to be countercultural… but if we let that become just another form of tribalism or militancy, we’re not being countercultural… we’re just reproducing the tribalism and militancy of our culture…

I think one of the crosses we run away from is the challenge of listening to the voice of the outsider… in my own tradition (the Roman Catholic Church), it was voices from the outside that finally held us accountable for some of our failures… sometimes the only way we can recognize our own distortions of the gospel is through the voice of the outsider…

I sense a greater openness from my evangelical and charismatic friends to the great tradition of the church… I also think that evangelicals and charismatics are challenging the church to put faith at the center of their lives, and to expect God to show up in ways that are visible…

There are times when I find prayer immensely consoling… you don’t know what to do, and so you lay it at God’s feet… but prayer can also be a kind of therapy… like the physical therapist who stretches you and puts you through pain in order to restore you, prayer can be a stretching of our spirit that heals us… 

I often pray the Psalms… every single human mood is found there… oftentimes the psalm is exactly what I needed, even though I didn’t know I needed it… 

We don’t know where we are in history… we don’t know if we’re at the very beginning of the church’s story or the very end… but we don’t need to… if faith means anything, it means that we’re in a comedy that’s going to end with the marriage of heaven and earth…

Episode 140: Equipping our Youth for the Mission of God

In this episode we chat with Greg Stier, the founder and CEO of Dare to Share, which equips youth leaders and students in relational evangelism. We chat with him about best practices for doing just that. You can learn more about Greg HERE. And also download a free copy of his e-book “Gospelize Your Youth Ministry” for Kindle HERE or iPad HERE.

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What I try to remind everyone of is that everyone’s story is a radical story of salvation… 

We’ve forgotten the power of the gospel to change and decided to focus on politics and culture instead… we’re just hacking at the leaves of evil rather than striking at the root…

Too many people are putting the onus of evangelism on the pastor… it’s a come and see mentality… we need to combine come and see with “go and rescue…”

We read in Acts that the apostle Paul trained and equipped people in the School of Tyrannus so that everyone in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord… we need to start flipping our churches so that they become like little “schools of Tyrannus…” 

We teach youth pastors how to build gospel greenhouses, where evangelism is as normal as breathing and disciples are made and multiplied by the teenagers… 

Intercessory prayer fuels everything… the youth groups that grow the fastest are those that pray for the lost by name…

Relational evangelism drives our efforts… we’re trying to teach kids not only the content of the gospel of giving them strategies for engaging with their unreached friends… 

Leaders have to fully embrace and model this… the youth groups that grew the fastest had leaders who were living out these values of prayer and relational evangelism…

The changing cultural factors make youth ministry more difficult IF we’re stuck in an old approach… we’re stuck in the 80s… 

We need to create gospel-advancing youth groups and make the Great Commission the greatest cause… teenagers have been suffering from depression, anxiety, and isolation and the gospel gives identity, belonging, and purpose… that’s the answer…

Episode 139: The New Landscape of Church Leadership with Sean Morgan

In this conversation we sit down with Sean Morgan, founder of The Ascent Leader, to talk with him about some shifts he’s seeing in the landscape of church leadership over the last few years. You can check out Sean’s work with The Ascent Leader HERE.

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A lot of leadership energy is being spent right now dealing with disgruntled staff… it seems we are losing the ability to disagree in a healthy way…

The question isn’t whether we agree all the time or not, but how we disagree, and Scripture has a lot to say about unity…

This is especially challenging for churches that have campuses… it’s really difficult to have alignment when we’re not in physical proximity to one another…

Even when you have a campus that’s close, if you don’t take advantage of that proximity, you might as well be on the other side of the country… you have to be intentional…

The campuses I’m talking about are the ones that have live preaching… an arrogance can creep in that creates a toxicity which is ultimately unrecoverable…

We need to ask whether we are building churches at the speed that GOD has ordained for us, or are we putting growth hormones into the system to get what WE want…? Some of this is the bitter fruit of speeding things up to our pace, not God’s…

The higher the trust, the fewer the rules… when the trust level is high, you need fewer rules, and I think senior pastors are sending people out to lead churches WAY too early…

Most young leaders are not willing to sit in the hidden places… they see hiddenness as a punishment rather than a place where the Lord can do his best work in us… 

The leaders that are thriving are the leaders who are willing to evaluate what is and is not “today”… are we willing to accurately look at what’s working and what’s not working…?

When you do identify what’s not working, are you willing to stop it or change it…? And can your team speak into that process…? 

Every five years there needs to be serious renewal in vision and strategy… the leaders that are doing this well are leaning into their teams to evaluate vision and strategy and then are taking risks towards what they see needs to be done…

Episode 138: The Five Masculine Instincts with Chase Replogle

In this episode we sit down with pastor and author Chase Replogle to talk about his book The Five Masculine Instincts. For more on Chase’s book and extra resources click here.

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First and foremost, I’m a pastor, and I’ve watched over the last few years how the topic of masculinity has become controversial conversation… 

I was seeing the guys in my congregation struggle with this, and I wanted to create a book that offered a path towards a better conversation—a conversation about character…

The cultural ways of having this conversation are that either we need to deconstruct masculinity, or we need to indulge it… but what both of these approaches have in common is that they focus on externals rather than on the internal realities of a man…

I’m always careful to say that these “instincts” are not the five sins of man, nor are they the five expectations… the question is how we become mature men, given these instincts…

God initiated a conversation with Cain… I think that’s really profound… you’d imagine that Cain would ask God why he rejected his sacrifice… but he doesn’t… he acts impulsively and sarcastically…

Cain’s sarcasm is a thin veil for his contempt for God… his immaturity makes him reactive and winds up perpetually immature… he’s the picture of a lost adolescent, perpetually adrift… 

For men—if you find yourself struggling to take things seriously, or find yourself immediately reactionary, God may be using precisely those things to make you a better man… 

Samson has divine experiences in the midst of adventure, but instead of it enlightening him, he just indulges it and becomes less discerning…

This theme becomes larger and larger until he gives away his secret, I think, as a way of just being done with it… he’s sick of it all…

If you’re constantly trying to find meaning in adventure, and it’s weakening your commitments to place and family and vocation, then perhaps you’re putting something on adventure that it’s never going to be able to deliver…

A lot of pastors, in their search for adventure, are disrupting the framework of their congregations… we need to satisfy that thirst for adventure inside the boundaries of our lives…  

Episode 137: Discerning Christ in the Old Testament with Chris Green (Part 2)

In this episode we pick up our conversation with Dr. Chris Green on discerning Christ in the Old Testament. This is part 2 of 2. If you missed last week, catch it HERE. You can follow Chris on social media – @cewgreen (Twitter and Instagram) and cewgreen.substack.

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{ON PSALM 23}

The first point on Psalm 23 would be that when we say “shepherd” we mean Jesus… Jesus is teaching us in it… he is “the Lord” who is also “my shepherd…”

We need to also notice how we start the psalm with a claim in the first person… but then suddenly we are in the valley of the shadow of death… if the Lord is leading me, how did I wind up here?!

The key is in the text… the shift from the third person to addressing God directly… and we are now at a table in the presence of our enemies, and because we know him, we know what to do at this table: we serve our enemies…

I started as a little lamb under the care of the Shepherd, to being a co-shepherd in his house… and this is the movement of discipleship, of sanctification…

{ON NUMBERS 17}

If we scan out, we see a series of stories of rebellions… judgment falls, but in every case, without exception, what comes next is an outbreak of a worse sin… 

This story follows Korah’s rebellion, and so we know what SHOULD come next… but instead, we see God taking a new tack… he brings “resurrection” out of a dead branch…

This sets a new trajectory for Israel: that God’s response to rebellion is not condemnation but resurrection… and Jesus is the culmination, the embodiment of it…

{THE FLOOD}

The first thing here to remember is to remember who is teaching us… Jesus says things to us to put us in a position of discernment… for instance, in the parable of the unjust judge, he compares God to a wicked judge… so he often says things that make us stop to think, “Is this true of God?”

This is another story where the judgment doesn’t work… the floodwaters recede, and yet nothing has changed… Noah is described as a “man of the earth”, which is the same phrase used for Cain… the text is telling us that even if all your wicked neighbors are removed, the trouble is still in you… 

There is a sense in which the Old Testament is a photo negative… we often feel like there’s something that “should be there”… the “what should be there” is Jesus… 

Episode 136: Discerning Christ in the Old Testament with Chris Green (Part 1)

In this episode we sit down with our friend Dr. Chris Green to talk with him about what it means (and how!) to discern Christ in the Old Testament. This is part 1 of 2. Be sure to catch part 2 next week!

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One of the real tragedies of the American culture wars is that the Bible is divided as we have been divided… there are texts that are too “progressive” for some and too “conservative” for others…

You can often tell where we are aligned politically and socially in the culture wars by which texts of the Bible trouble us… which do we find difficult to handle or tough to swallow?

We’ve all been conditioned to believe that the truer something is, the simpler it is… but when you read the church fathers, you start realizing that we have an allergy to difficulty… traditionally, Christians have embraced the difficulty of the text…

When we’re teaching people the faith, we often say, “Jesus was a simple teacher…” but when you read the Gospels, you realize that isn’t true… we need to realize that God teaches us the way we need to be taught, not the way we want to learn… 

The demand of the Old Testament is that God is riddling us… we’re not used to that… 

Our relationship to Jesus as our rabbi requires that we search for him in the Old Testament, because he is using these texts to teach us… he is giving himself to us in these texts… 

Not only was Jesus raised in and trained in these texts… but these are always his… he is the one who inspired them in the first place… that’s where you have to begin… these are his words… 

The right reading of Scripture always has “salt” in it… often the plain reading will meet the “rules” of interpretation… but that’s not yet Jesus… and when Jesus speaks, he’s never “plain”, it’s “salty”, it has an edge or a burn to it… that’s how we discern if we’re reading in the right spirit or not…

There are lots of readings of the Old Testament (and the Bible in general) that we can justify but don’t actually sanctify us… if our reading of the OT doesn’t cripple our self-righteousness, we haven’t yet touched the Spirit of Christ…

We need to acknowledge that we come to these texts as guests… these are Israel’s texts that God has invited us to read… if I ever lose that sense of having been shown hospitality, I will go wrong… 

Episode 135: Streams in the Wasteland

In this episode Daniel and Andrew sit down to talk about Andrew’s recently released Streams in the Wasteland: Finding Spiritual Renewal with the Desert Fathers and MothersGrab your copy on Amazon!

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We moved here in 2017 after having been a pastor for eight years in Denver… and I was not prepared for the spiritual crisis that would create… it felt like getting put in a witness protection program… I couldn’t find my equilibrium…

In the midst of that, someone told me I needed to read the desert fathers and mothers… when I asked why, he said, “Because the thing that you feel like is being thrust upon you, they sought out, and found it to be a place where God could be found…”

They gave me language to make sense of the desolate space… God’s people find God in the wilderness… my own healing was not complete where I got to the point where I never needed to lead again… I fell in love with “My God and my All…”

It’s easy for us to look at them as socially awkward misanthropes who justified their retreat with spiritual language… but sometimes a situation is so toxic that you have to separate yourself in order to find the love of God and others again…

A mischaracterization of them is that they severed themselves from the truth… even if they create some creative distance, they still live in community and they still go to church…

Thomas Merton said that now, the wasteland is everywhere… which means that the wisdom of the desert is wisdom for our time… what does it look like to cultivate true humanness?

Our speech is one of the most critical issues in our moment… social media invites and even rewards us for adding more heat to the conversation than light, which is why we’re living in an increasingly polarized society…

God’s speech is creative speech that gives life, and he gives that same gift to human beings… fallen man can take the power of the word and warp it and cause reality to fray… it grieves the Spirit when we use our words to tear down…

Maybe the greatest moral achievement of our age is can we sit in a room with people with whom we vehemently disagree and neither feel the need to conquer them or feel the need to bail out and run away… 

Episode 134: 10 Keys to Finishing Well

In this episode we celebrate Pastor Brady and Pam’s 15 year anniversary at New Life Church by reflecting on some keys to finishing well. You can download the full list HERE. You can also purchase Brady and Pam’s devotional Oceans of Grace HERE.

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I’m sobered by how quickly people can rise and fall… the enemy hates the church and so he targets those who lead it…

I’m not thinking about finishing in five years… I’m thinking about finishing today… I want to go bed tonight with a clean heart… the micro decisions are really important…

We need to pray all the time… the common thread among men and women who have moral failures is that somewhere along the line they lost their private devotion with the Lord…

You also need to surround yourself with honest friends… with people who like you but are not impressed with you… I’m not looking for constant critics… if something that I’m doing is bad, friends will tell me without harming me…  

Remember, we’re all interim pastors… New Life Church will be around after my funeral… it’s not built around me… pastors, we need to learn to hold our congregations loosely… we go from dust to dust, and need to remind ourselves of that…

The reason most pastors don’t transition well is they have nothing else to do… ending well is hard for pastors for whom ministry has become an unhealthy identity…

When I die, what I want on my tombstone is this: Here lies Brady Boyd: A Faithful Husband and a Good Dad… if my wife and kids can say that about me, that’s enough for me…

We need to forgive quickly and hold no grudges… the only way to become a gentle, tender old shepherd is to learn to give away those offenses and hurts that inevitably come our way in ministry…

Learn to share the credit… the mark of a spiritual mom and dad is the ability to walk away from the spotlight and watching others succeed… 

Keep Jesus at the center of it all… if people are walking out of your church talking about you rather than talking about Jesus, you have had a terrible Sunday… 

Laugh at yourself—you’re not that important… 

Episode 133: The Challenge of Unity

In this episode we take you to a conversation New Life Midtown’s Jayde Duncan and New Life Friday Night’s Jordan Victoria Lewis recently had with our ministry staff on the challenge of cultivating unity in the church in a culture that is very often divided over issues of race. (This conversation is based in part on a chapter in Glenn Packiam’s new book The Resilient Pastor. Order here.)

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Unity is important because God is essentially unity… our concept of unity must be rooted in the ontological nature of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…

John 17 tells us that there is an unanswered prayer that Jesus prayed [on unity]… our posture towards one another is a nonnegotiable, it is critical to the validation of our entire message…

Unity reinforces or qualifies our witness, and division disqualifies our witness… division is the way of the world… 

I’ve had a lot of difficult and shameful experiences… I’ve sorted through a lot of that with the Lord and have sensed that this is a kingdom issue… thinking that way has enabled me to take a bird’s eye view of what’s going on… 

For me this is not just a call, but an act of spiritual warfare… if I leave, the spirit of division will think that it has won… 

The early church was radical and revolutionary in its unity because it believed that Jesus is Lord… Jesus was a new King who brought a new Kingdom… 

We need to recover the sense that King Jesus has exclusive right to ask us whatever he wants to ask us… and what he is asking us is to lay down our own perspectives for the sake of listening to the stories of brothers and sisters who are in pain…

Distance is fatal to empathy… I wish I was making up the humiliating things that have happened to me… I wish it wasn’t all true… it is a real shame when someone tells you about their experience and you tell them that it is fabricated or exaggerated… 

Over the course of many conversations, what I have come to discover is that for many black Christians, white Christians seem to want to have statistical conversations rather than lament-type conversations, which exacerbates the pain…

I can’t tell you how healing it has been to be able to call a white friend—and there are a few that I call—to carry the burden with me so that I can carry my black friends… 

Episode 132: The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb? – An Interview with Kyle Strobel

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Kyle Strobel to talk about the nature of power via his book (co-authored with Jamin Goggin), The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb? Grab it here.

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There’s a power system assumed by the world, the flesh, and the devil, and you see it when Jesus rebukes Peter: he’s set his mind on the things of man…

Another way to talk about the way of the dragon is the way of power in strength for the sake of control and domination; whereas the way of the lamb is the way of power in weakness for the sake of love…

One error is to see power as bad… those who are left-leaning have a tendency to demonize power… those who are right-leaning tend to worry less about power but are almost willing to embrace ANY power as long as it leads to the right ends…

Many of us simply accept the world’s definitions of power and then assume that Jesus is doing something else (not power-related)… but that’s not right… Jesus is redefining power entirely and is calling us to faith…

When we started this project, we knew it was an important issue… it influences everything… how you pray, how you worship, how you engage or don’t engage in politics—it all presupposes power… but the church is refusing to talk about it…

If you assume a vision of worldly power, the way of Jesus just won’t make sense…

Even a lot of the ways we understand spiritual gifts—it tends to be about actualizing strength, which is ironic, because Paul’s correspondence to the Corinthians is all about power being realized in weakness…

For folks in fulltime vocational ministry, the temptation is to construct a self… and if true power is love, if we really internalize that, it will help us realize that our value is received and not generated… 

The central temptation for leaders is to use their natural ability to get things done… that’s the way of the dragon… if you’re a natural speaker, for instance, you’ll be tempted to use that gift to “win”… your strength is a place of wild temptation… 

We need to constantly ask, “Lord, how am I tempted not to trust you? How am I tempted not to have to have faith…?”