Seminary Dropout 63: Arleen Spenceley, Author of ‘Chastity is for Lovers’

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Arleen Spenceley joins me on the show with a better way to talk about sex, singleness, and chastity.

Arleen has a master’s degree in rehabilitation and mental health counseling from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the same university.

On her blog arleenspenceley.com you’ll find posts designed to encourage critical thought about relationships and sex; to encourage readers who practice chastity; to provide insight into an alternative way of life for the readers who don’t; and to explore how American culture impacts Christianity.

 

Arleen is the author of Chastity is For Lovers

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Seminary Dropout 62: Kyle Canty on Privilege, Ferguson, and History

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Kyle Canty is a married father of three. He works for Lifeway as the P2 Missions and World Changers City Representative for Philadelphia. He is also an assistant pastor at Great Commission Church located in Philadelphia. He holds a B.S. (Bible) and M.S. (Christian Counseling) Degrees from Cairn University and an MDiv (Urban Studies) from Biblical Theological Seminary (Hatfield, PA) and is currently working on an DMin degree in Urban Missiology at Biblical Theological Seminary (Hatfield, PA). As an aspiring blogger he looks forward to writing more around the intersection of Christian theology, African American History and the marginalized. His blog The Rooftop can be found at thecityrooftop.com or follow him on twitter at @kcanman.

Kyle’s post on Christianity Today: Christ is the Answer to Our Race Problem


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Seminary Dropout 007: Grace Sandra

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Seminary Dropout 61: Carl Medearis on Israel, Isis and Tea with Hezbollah

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carl-medearisCarl Medearis is an international expert in the field of Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations.

He acts as a catalyst for a number of current movements in the Middle East to promote peace-making, as well as cultural, political and religious dialog leading toward reconciliation. He is the author of the acclaimed book on these issues, Muslims, Christians and Jesus.

Carl, his wife Chris, and three kids lived in Beirut, Lebanon for 12 years. Through their unique and strategic approach around the Arab world, they encouraged university students, business professionals and political leaders to live their lives by the principles and teachings of Jesus in order to change their societies and nations.

Today Carl spends much of his time working with leaders both in the West and in the Arab world with the hope of seeing the Arab Middle East and the West experience full and fruitful relationships through the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

 


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Seminary Dropout 010: Jeremy Courtney of Preemptive Love Coalition

Seminary Dropout 006: Shane Claiborne


 

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The Best Christian Crap Google+ has to Offer

If you’ve ever gone to a flea market or a gas station in the south you’ve seen it. Christian crap. It’s an easy formula. If you’re not going to use Jesus himself (ok caucasian Jesus), take something from pop culture, like anything, literally anything, make a pirated copy of it, add a bible verse, or just something vaguely spiritual or self help-ey, and throw it on a t-shirt, bumper sticker, beer koozie, or belt buckle. That’s printing money folks.

But where does the Christian with (non)discriminating taste and indifferent toward intellectual theft go to in the online world to enjoy such fine pieces of art?

Oh I’ll tell you where.

Christian Communities on Google +.

I joined a few of these because, well because that’s what bloggers are supposed to do, right?

Wow, just wow. These people have taken Christian crap to a whole new level. These aren’t actual products, just little motivational graphics to enrich your Christian-ish experience. I’ve compiled a few of the best here. You’re welcome.

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Jesus, I worry that you’re spending too much time with that globe. It’s starting to affect your work life. Also, I think it may be putting off radiation.

 

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I mean I like it, but I wonder if there’s a font with more swords in it. Only two swords in Bible Hunter is not enough swords. Swords.

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Jesus and his detached floating hand have got your back.

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We are a dove, a guy with a horn, a stair case, maybe some lightning(?), clouds, stars, and a lion on top of another lion for some reason.

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Now, that I’ve convinced you; Step 1 – Be handsome.

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The Care Bears want to wish you a happy Wednesday. You won’t believe what they have in store for Friday.

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Just to be clear, John Hagee and Pope Francis are included in the same list.

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‘Faith, Courage, and Ebola in America': Your pastors favorite sugar stick.

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Don’t um… don’t drink the manhood.

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“Brah, it’s just like nature, ya know?!”

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That’s not the Holy Spirit, that’s just recess lighting.

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This one is my favorite. So many questions. Is that kid Jesus?! Why is the Hulk picking a fight with him? Copyright infringement much?!

My Christian Resume

Let me cut to the chase. My new friend Shane is letting me do a guest blog for the sole purpose to promote “Ragamuffin Retreats” a three day retreat on the Love of God. So as to not waste your time here’s the quick shout out: The word Ragamuffin might resonate with you from Brennan Manning’s book “The Ragamuffin Gospel” or maybe from Rich Mullins album: “Liturgy, Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band.” Or maybe you like cats? You’ve just googled ragamuffin, and now you are staring at a picture of a cat. It’s awkward. Especially if you don’t like cats. Or maybe you are of the select few that have seen the movie “Ragamuffin” that was based on the life of Rich Mullins. Either way, at the heart of the movie and our retreats is not about Rich or Brennan. It’s about Jesus. What we’ve seen so far is that it seems that God is using these “Ragamuffin Retreats” in a variety of ways. For some it’s rest & spiritual renewal, but for others it’s fellow ragamuffins opening up their brokenness and experiencing God’s “furious” love. Ragamuffin Retreats at it’s core is a three day retreat to have a conversation with both those who know and don’t know yet about God and his great love for ragamuffins. We are just continuing the conversation that started with the movie, and actually started long before the retreats. We aren’t re-inventing the wheel here. If anything, our hope is simple, that whomever might find their way to one of these ragamuffin style retreats they might discover what our friend and brother Brennan preached for over four decades that “God more than loves them He actually likes them.”

If you are still reading, knowing that Shane invited me to do a guest blog, I was wondering what I might write about. I even asked him what he thought I should do for his blog. I decided that I would write about a simple experience that I had at the last Ragamuffin Retreat in Pennsylvania. I was on a walk with my friends Matt & Sarah during one of our breaks, having a smoke. I can’t really remember what we were talking about other than we needed to quit smoking because it’s going to kill us one day. Of course I’m convinced that the insane amount of Mcdonalds I have will kill me first. But I just had a beautiful baby four months ago and I want to be around so, like many new parents, I want to get healthy so my wife doesn’t have to say “Your Dad couldn’t see you graduate college because he liked putting tar in his lungs.” If you are of the camp that is wondering why I’m not mentioning smoking is a sin. We’ll, if it’s not obvious I’ll spell it out. It’s not a sin. Not anymore than the big mac’s I eat. Both are trying to kill me. And yet, as C.S. Lewis once said, “Anything in excess can be a sin.” I could go on with the argument, but not just because I’m bored with arguing about this topic, but also that’s a rabbit trail I just don’t want to continue. That’s another blog, for another time. So if you do think smoking is a sin. In love, let’s just agree to disagree. Anyway, I don’t remember how it came up, but we started talking about the movie “Ragamuffin.” Most of us are in awe that God has used it to such a great extent that He has. It’s mind blowing really. Going from nothing to a thing. Because after all a movie is just that: a thing. Then going from a thing to being some-thing that God would use to change hundreds if not thousands of lives. Love it or hate it, that is exactly what God has done. And trust me I feel the same way about the movie. In a lot of ways I love it, and yet it is definitely filled with flaws that I utterly cringe about. I hate those flaws. Matter of fact, even those that despise the movie, I probably have more against it than anyone. But it’s funny. I’ve come to love the movie way more because of the flaws. I think God knows how prideful I can be and how easily I can take credit for His work. If by some miracle I was able to make a movie with no flaws, there would be a high risk that with all the lives being changed by God through the movie (and not by the movie) that I would go “Look at what I did.” But the plethora of flaws in the movie help me to go, “Awesome look at what God is doing through the movie, despite the movie.” And here’s an even weirder fact. I actually love the flaws now. Because both in front of the camera, and behind the camera they have become part of the story. The story of God’s grace. Why would I want them out? So I can go after my glory? Continue to build my kingdom. Don’t hear me wrong, I’m not advocating for failure and imperfection and shoddy work. Matter of fact I think, we, the church have done decades of damage in Jesus name because we do things poorly and lazily. Claiming, “Well it’s for the Lord.” So it’s okay that it’s crap? Poor sermons, poor evangelism, poor music, poor movies…But that’s another blog, for another time. So we were talking about all these sorts of things, when my friends tell me something wonderful. “Hey, my friend is a Pastor at this church, and they saw the movie and wanted to bring you in to speak.” “Cool,” I said. “But than they googled you” and their ‘board’ said no.” I smiled and said, “Okay.” My friends continued to tell me that they saw my acting resume, and saw some movies I had done when I first got started and decided to not have me come because I shouldn’t have done those movies. As my friends went on talking I abruptly interrupted them and said, “They we’re right. I shouldn’t have done those movies.” Matter of fact I’d encourage you to NOT google me. When some people sin you don’t have the luxury to look it up via the internet. With me…you do. I came from a context of Christianity where I was simply told “Christians don’t go to Hollywood.” I disagreed. I think they were wrong. I still do. But here’s what was sad. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know any Christians in Hollywood. They were there. I just didn’t know where. What I’m trying to say I didn’t know where the trail blazers were who we’re showing us, teaching us, how to be missional with our faith if you are an actor or in the entertainment industry in general. I hadn’t heard the wonderful sermons by Tim Killer yet on “Contextualizing vs. Contending the Gospel”. All of this mixed in with I had sinful rebellion in my heart. Rebellion not in the context of “I shouldn’t do this movie and I’m going to do it anyway.” Rebellion in I’m not going to listen to them (The Church) because they don’t think I should even be in Hollywood so I’m just gonna figure this out on my own. This mixed with a whole lot of stupidity. My thinking at the time was “Well, I know this movie is bad, but if my character isn’t sinful than I can do it and be a witness.” Stupid I know. But I think in some ways I genuinely had a good heart when I was making bad decisions. I did witness. I did share the Gospel. I was a light in some respects. But, years later I heard a great sermon when the pastor simply said, “Just because God does something good through your badness, doesn’t make you good. It Just means God’s good.” Simple yet it echoed some of my past thinking even if I didn’t verbalize it. God changed me. Thankfully. Years later I had some good wake up calls from friends who just plainly told me I was making bad decisions. Then I got plugged into a church, and had the pastors give me some great guidance, and advice how to make decisions in the future. It’s still not crystal clear all the time. Sometimes it is. Sometimes its an obvious sin issue. Sometimes it’s a conscious issue. Sometimes you have to ask yourself is this a time to “Contextualize the Gospel of Jesus” or “Contend” for it? I can still hear Tim Keller’s voice when some podcast I heard on this sermon (Look it up in case I’m quoting it wrong)…in the middle of this sermon he was saying someone once asked him “Where’s the line between contextualizing and contending for the gospel?” And his response was, “That’s ministry.” I assume he meant that’s the whole point of ministry. That what we are doing (The Church) we are trying to figure that out constantly. I know I am. Yeah we need to test the spirits, and especially our own. Test the motives of our heart when we make decisions in our work, and opportunities that come our way. Is this for His glory? Or mine? Is this to make Jesus famous or myself? Not everyone will agree with you. And they don’t have to. Your lives should always be lived in community, but should still be lived for an audience of one.

So I say all that to say. Here’s why I was so happy. When they told me this: “That this church decided to NOT have me come.” I smiled. Why? Because ten years ago. I would have been crushed. The people pleaser in me would have been going crazy. I would have been so angry, even with the tears in my eyes. I would have wanted the pastors number, I would have wanted to flown to that state and spoken with the board myself. To prove myself. To explain to them why I made bad decisions in the past, and the good God I serve loves me and has forgiven me…and would they too? Not so I could have a speaking gig. But so they would like me, and not think bad of me. Strangers. As far as I know they don’t even exist, except in theory. And yet, I would have been on a mission to get them to “think good of me.” What is that all about? Well, it’s a familiar idol I tend to worship. And that is the idol of people liking me. I praise Jesus and give Him glory, because when I heard the news that I was banned from coming to speak, I was okay. I wasn’t upset. And I realized ‘Oh, thank God. He’s been changing me. He’s truly been sanctifying me in this area. Growing me. Helping me find my identity in the Gospel of His son. Versus my own Christian Resume.” We tend to do that don’t we? To think there is such a thing. Even if we know, that we know, that we know the gospel of Jesus. We still tend to think that there is such a thing as a “good Christian.” Remember the story of the Prodigal Son? One was lost in his Un-Righteousness and one was lost in his Self-Righteousness. The only hope for either of them is have an identity that is the gift of Christ’s Righteousness. The only thing on our Christian Resume should be: Forgiven. But why do we do it? Well, I don’t know…except to say Martin Luther once said, “Religion is the default of the human heart.

At this same retreat, we had a special treat, a very popular Christian, speaker, activist, etc…and when I was introducing him I told the small group of ragamuffin retreat attendees…”I’m not having this guy come speak because he has some impressive ‘Christian Resume’…because in the light of the Gospel of Jesus…no such thing exists.

Thank you for your time. And thank you Shane for letting me be a guest on your blog. Pray for me as I continue to learn what it means to both Contextualize and Contend for the Gospel and continue to let Jesus be my object of worship and not be on a Crusade to get people to like me.

Jesus Christ is crazy about you,

David Leo Schultz
@davidlschultz

Ragamuffin Retreats
www.ragamuffinretreats.com

Seminary Dropout 60: Shauna Niequist

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Maybe you know Shauna Niequist from one of her many books or maybe you know her from the Relevant Podcast. Shauna has been writing for awhile about faith, food, and life. We talk about all of this plus her upcoming book and more.


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Seminary Dropout 59: John Stackhouse, Author of ‘Need to Know’

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John G. Stackhouse, Jr. is an award-winning scholar and public communicator who has spent years adventurously mapping our complex cultural terrain, identifying both its worthy achievements and its zones of confusion.
He collects research from a wide range of sources, corrects currently popular interpretations, and connects audiences with information and insight they can put immediately into practice. He is therefore a skilled guide in helping us chart a course through the prospects and impasses of modern society. And he does all this with a wit you’ll find surprisingly refreshing in a scholar.

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How should a Christian think? If a serious Christian wants to think seriously about a serious subject–from considering how to vote in the next election to choosing a career; from deciding among scientific theories to selecting a mate; from weighing competing marketing proposals to discerning the best fitness plan–what does he or she do? This basic question is at the heart of a complex discourse: epistemology. -From the publisher.

 


 

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Seminary Dropout 58: Brian Zahnd, Author of ‘A Farewell to Mars’

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bzBrian Zahnd is the founder and lead pastor of Word of Life Church, a Christian congregation located in the heartland of America in Saint Joseph, Missouri. For 31 years, Brian and his wife Peri’s vision for the church has been to be an authentic expression of the Kingdom of Jesus in a modern world. Brian is known for his focus on embracing the deep and long history of the Church and wholeheartedly participating in God’s mission to redeem and restore His world.

 

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Brian used to be ‘that pastor’, you know the stereotype of a southern evangelical pastor. Pro-military and pro-empire. He even hosted a Super Bowl style party when the first Iraq war kicked off in 1990. He and his friends ate pizza and watched Wolf Blitzer host the first ‘televised war’. Now, Brian calls that ‘his worst sin’. That’s just the beginning…

 

 

 


 

Out THIS WEEK Father Factor: American Christian Men on Fatherhood and Faith
This will be my first time to be published. I’m so honored to be in the company of such a great group of diverse men. Order your copy today!


 

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Seminary Dropout 44: Preston Sprinkle, Author of Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence

Have You Accepted President Obama As Your Personal Lord & Savior?


 

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Seminary Dropout 57: JR. Briggs, Author of ‘FAIL: Finding Hope & Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure’

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J.R. Briggs serves as Cultural Cultivator of The Renew Community a Jesus community for skeptics and dreamers in Lansdale, PA – a suburb of Philadelphia, which he helped start. He is the founder and director of Kairos Partnerships an initiative that partners with leaders, pastors and church planters during significant kairos moments in ministry. As part of his time with Kairos Partnerships, he serves on staff with The Ecclesia Network and Fresh Expressions U.S. In addition to these responsibilities he speaks regularly, writes, coaches pastors and church planters and consults with Christian colleges, non-profits, mission agencies, churches and other Christian organizations.

affiliate link

“J.R. Briggs has something to say to pastors about our American obsession with ‘success.’ He holds to the Jesus-endorsed notion that those in ministry are called to faithfulness, not success, and that sometimes faithfulness takes the peculiar form of failure. Fail dares to tell the truth and will bring much-needed clarity and comfort to a multitude of ministers who, though faithful, have drunk from the bitter cup of failure.” -Brian Zahnd

 

 


 

One announcement I forgot: Father Factor: American Christian Men on Fatherhood and Faith
will be available in 4 days!


 

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6 Things about Father Factor

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You may have heard around the blogosphere and social media sites that a book called ‘Father Fiction’ will be out on October 14th and is available for pre-order now. A friend of mine, Andy Campbell, is the editor and gathered 40 men, including myself, to write essays about fatherhood as a Christian.

Here are 6 important thing you need to know about the book.

1. The excerpts I’ve read are amazing. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll shake your head. You can read the excerpts yourself here, including mine.

2. Until October 20th you can get the book at a 35% discount when ordering from the White Cloud Press website here.

3. White Cloud Press is an independent publisher so buying this book is a great way to support independent publishing.

4. FATHER FACTOR could be a great book for small group study sessions in churches and there’s special discount of 50% is available for small groups ordering in quantities of 10 or more.

5. Some of the authors, including myself, are available for talks and presentations at local bookstores or churches.

6. Some very amazing people have had a few things to say about this book:

In many ways, Father Factor is a work of art, a beautiful collage of humanity and soul, a thoughtful collection of stories detailing the lives, dreams, and fears of America’s fathers. The essays in this book will make you laugh, bring you to tears, and at times, cause you to rethink your approach to parenting. But most of all, Father Factor will fill you with hope. – Matthew Paul Turner, author of “Our Great Big American God”

Sometimes hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking, this tender collection of stories from fathers opened both my eyes and my heart anew. Thank God for men like these! The children will honour them in the gates for this wise, honest, and necessary work. – Sarah Bessey, author of “Jesus Feminist”

These wonderfully readable accounts of father-son relationships are both candid and inspiring, exploring issues that touch many of us in deep ways. But they prod to go even deeper, pointing us to the ways our relationships with our human fathers shape–and all too often distort–our conceptions of the One whom we have been taught to address as “Our Father who art in heaven.” – Richard Mouw, Theologian & Past President, Fuller Theological Seminary

From creating life to enduring death, Father Factor takes us through the tumultuous, often humorous, sometimes heartbreaking journey of fatherhood and faith. This is not a how-to manual; there are no lists of right and wrong, no simple strategies, no easy plans for becoming the perfect Dad. Instead, through this rich array of personal stories from fathering and being fathered, readers will feel inspired and challenged to examine their unique role as a parent, partner, and adult child as this book throws open wide windows for grace, forgiveness, and a Father’s love. – Jamie Wright, Author/Blogger of theveryworstmissionary.com

This book inspired me to pray for fathers, encourage fathers and believe in the important work of fathering! Pulling from culturally diverse and compelling experiences, Father Factor gives voice to the strong men of faith who are shaped the Father’s love. This collection of inspiring stories affirms the various routes that fatherhood can take and shows that regardless of history or cultural context, men of faith can be powerful and vulnerable fathers. A true eye opener to the complexities and beauty of fatherhood. – Christena Cleveland, author of Disunity in Christ