I Need Your Story!

I’m about to start a new project, it’s gonna be BIG and I need your help!

It can be a story about you or someone you know. The only two qualifications are that the story has to be about someone showing love, compassion, or selflessness, and you don’t mind it being shared in public if your story is chosen. It can be a big or small. We all have at least one story we can share and I want to hear yours!

Send your story in 200 words or less (you can fill in the details when/if your story is chosen) to shane@shaneblackshear.com.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Seminary Dropout 66: Austin Channing Brown, Exploring Civil Rights Sites, Sacrificing a Dream Home, & the Role of the Church


austin channing
My guest today is Austin Channing Brown. Austin collaborates with various Christian ministries who are moving forward a vision of racial reconciliation and socioeconomic understanding. She also works as a Resident Director and Multicultural Liaison for Calvin College. Whether speaking, training, facilitating dialogue or planning strategies, Austin loves the messy work of reconciliation.

You can find Austin’s blog at austinchanning.com.




The folks over at Logos Bible Software asked me to review their new Logos 6 software, so here it goes:

Some of you may be aware of Logos Bible software. Logos has recently come out with Logos 6. The folks at Logos gave me a copy of Logos 6 and asked me to review it, and here is that review.

The word that comes to mind when I play around in Logos 6 is ‘exhaustive’. You can use this software for the rest of your life with no updates and still never get through all of the content. This is essentially a biblical studies doctorate in a box.

If you’re a pastor or someone who gives sermons fairly regularly then this is a no brainer, you absolutely have to get this program. If you’re a seminary student or even someone who just wants to study the bible more in depth then I can’t think of a single better tool to invest in.

Just to run through a few features of Logos 6; it’s got interactive maps -there’s this amazing tool where you can see a picture of a present day sight of a biblical landmark, then you can swipe over that picture to reveal a rendering of what that landmark looked like in biblical times, there are tons and tons of language tools in Logos 6, even if you’ve studied ancient Greek & Hebrew you probably don’t speak it fluently, you probably can’t look at a any random work in the text and translate it with all of the subtleties and nuances, but Logos 6 can! Logos 6 also contains other texts besides the bible such as extra biblical texts, commentaries, and words from important historical figures within Christianity. There are even graphics for sermon notes, and they look good!
Logos 6 has several different versions. There’s a standard version and versions specific to different faith traditions including Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Pentacostal & Charismatic, Reformed, and Seventh Day Adventist. Beyond that there are packages of all different prices to meet anyones needs and budget.

Some might be intimidated at the price of some of the advanced versions, but when you calculate the virtual library of information you’re getting, the cost is well worth it, and if those versions are just too much for you (information or cost), then the basic version is affordable and you can upgrade at any time.

If you purchase and use the code: BLACKSHEAR6 at checkout you’ll get 15% off and a portion of your purchase will go to support Seminary Dropout. 

Go to logos.com/blackshear for more info or to purchase.

If you liked this episode then you might also like…

Seminary Dropout 62: Kyle Canty

Seminary Dropout 37: Christena Cleveland


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Seminary Dropout 65: Josh Butler, Author of ‘Skeletons in God’s Closet’



Josh Butler is a pastor at Imago Dei Community in Portland, Oregon.  He oversees the church’s city ministries in areas like foster care, human traffichikng, and homelessness; and develops international partnerships in areas like clean water, HIV-support, and church planting. Butler is also a worhsip leader who enjoys writing music for the life of the church.

affiliate link

Is God a sadistic torturer? Coldhearted Judge? Genocidal Maniac?

‘The Skeletons in God’s Closet’ debunks society’s caricatures of God.

If you liked this episode then you might also like…

Seminary Dropout 022: Philip Yancey

Another Pretty Big Book Giveaway!


Thanks to Renee Goodwin, elaaronbrandt, a_person_one_of_many, WaltHarris, & Stephofcourse for leaving ratings & reviews on iTunes recently!

Subscribe/Rate/Review Seminary Dropout in iTunes

Another Pretty Big Book Giveaway! (over)


Just like last time.

As a podcaster and blogger I receive TONS of books in the mail. Most are review copies I’ve requested for possible interviews, and some are just books publishers are promoting. Also, as a podcaster and blogger, I have a small house, and those books are taking over. Thus, it’s contest time. I’m not saying it’s a ginormous book giveaway, but it’s a pretty big book giveaway. These are quality books too. Some are new, some are old and a few have some markings and illegible notes in them I made while reading. I wish I could keep them all but ya know, the small house thing.

One lucky winner will received all 10 books shown below!

To enter simply subscribe to Seminary Dropout in iTunes, and leave a comment, any comment, in the comments section below. Remember, you must subscribe to Seminary Dropout in iTunes AND leave a comment. I thought about requiring a screen shot showing your subscription, but that’s too much work so subscribing is on the honor system. Yes, you could cheat the system to win a bunch of books about Jesus, but… seriously?!

Ok good luck! Entries will be accepted until Tuesday December 16th at midnight. I’ll announce the winner here the next day.IMG_0078.

Seminary Dropout 64: Karen Swallow Prior, Author of Fierce Convictions



Karen Swallow Prior is a Professor of English at Liberty University inLynchburg, Virginia.

She is a contributing writer for Christianity Today, The Atlantic, In Touch, and Think Christian. Her writing has also appeared at Comment, Relevant, Books and Culture, Fieldnotes, The Well, and Salvo. She has spoken at numerous writing conferences including the Festival of Faith and Writing and the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference.

affiliate link

Dr. Prior’s latest book is Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More – Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist.

The enthralling biography of the woman writer who helped end the slave trade, changed Britain’s upper classes, and taught a nation how to read.

The history-changing reforms of Hannah More affected every level of 18th-Century British society through her keen intellect, literary achievements, collaborative spirit, strong Christian principles, and colorful personality. A woman without connections or status, More took the world of British letters by storm when she arrived in London from Bristol, becoming a best-selling author and acclaimed playwright and quickly befriending the author Samuel Johnson, the politician Horace Walpole, and the actor David Garrick. Yet she was also a leader in the Evangelical movement, using her cultural position and her pen to support the growth of education for the poor, the reform of morals and manners, and the abolition of Britain’s slave trade.

Fierce Convictions weaves together world and personal history into a stirring story of life that intersected with Wesley and Whitefield’s Great Awakening, the rise and influence of Evangelicalism, and convulsive effects of the French Revolution. A woman of exceptional intellectual gifts and literary talent, Hannah More was above all a person whose faith compelled her both to engage her culture and to transform it. -From the Publisher


If you liked this episode then you might also like…

Seminary Dropout 50: Margot Starbuck on God, Writing & Public Speaking

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


Thanks to Derek-Brent, Izzy Cool, & V.Vulpes for leaving ratings & reviews on iTunes recently!

Subscribe/Rate/Review Seminary Dropout in iTunes

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




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

affiliate link



If you liked this episode then you might also like…

3 Ways for the Church to Talk about Sex Better

Seminary Dropout 028: Mary Demuth on Sexual Abuse & Healing.


Subscribe/Rate/Review Seminary Dropout in iTunes

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




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

If you liked this episode then you might also like…

Seminary Dropout 007: Grace Sandra

Seminary Dropout 37: Christena Cleveland


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


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.


If you liked this episode then you might also like…

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.


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.



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

Ragamuffin Retreats