The Codified Life: Podcast #49

Welcome to episode 49 of the Chief Sinner podcast, The Codified Life! In this episode, we talk about our tendency to codify everything in life by reducing it to a set of rules and laws to be followed instead of enjoying the freedom we have in Jesus to just live loved. We make the Christian life about us and our performance and achievements and in doing so, our joy suffers and our lives become about us, our performance and whether or not we’re doing it right.

Enjoy!

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Not Under Law, Part Two: Podcast #48

hqdefaultWelcome to episode 48 of the Chief Sinner Podcast. In this episode we conclude the discussion that we began last time on the Law of Moses and its role in the Christian life. What does the Bible mean when it says sin no longer has mastery over a Christian because we are not under law, but under grace? Does it mean our lives should be on an upward trajectory of becoming sinless, or did Paul have something else in mind? We also talk about the subject of law and gospel. We are hearing a lot about that recently and we wanted to join the conversation.

Enjoy!

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Not Under Law: Podcast #47

4-15121Z53403B4Why did Paul insist that Jesus abolished the law (Eph 2) when Jesus said he came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Mt. 5)? Is there a contradiction in Scripture or is something bigger going on that we tend to miss or misunderstand? Join our conversation in Not Under Law, Part One, as we introduce the topic of the law of Moses in a believer’s life. What’s role does it play, if any? Is it abolished or isn’t it? As a Christian, what’s my relationship to the law of Moses?

Enjoy!

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Leave it to Beaver and Other Impossible Myths

leave-it-to-beaverIt’s been a really rough month for me. I’m sure most of you will be able to relate. It’s been a month filled with introspection and regrets. Motherhood regrets mainly.

I come from a broken home. I never wanted to have children. I never wanted to get married. I didn’t want to put anyone through what I lived through as a child. Then… Jesus. He saved me and set me on a whole new trajectory. I met Mike and suddenly I wanted marriage. I wanted that relationship. But I told him from the beginning , I didn’t want kids. But…. Jesus showed me how beautiful babies were. And I had hope. Hope that I could somehow be a mom and do it differently. So after 2 painful miscarriages we had our first baby. I was a mom. I was going to do it all differently. My kids were never going to experience divorce. They were never going to experience the abuse of an alcoholic step-dad or the abandonment of a father. They were going to have a Leave it to Beaver family. My dream family.

And I thought that’s what I was doing. I thought I could protect my children from the world. I thought I could be the one to get it right. If we just followed the “rules”. If we just kept evil out then our kids would be problem free. Pain free. But all of those Christian parenting books and programs we followed? They didn’t factor in the sinfulness of the parents. They didn’t tell me that I was so messed up that I needed Jesus everyday so that I could love my kids. Parenting is so much more than having rules and first-time obedience. It’s about being aware of my need for forgiveness every day. It’s showing my children I’m broken and that my only hope, their only hope is Jesus. That he did it all for us. That he loves us just the way we are. We don’t have to be what we hear from so many pulpits and books – people who think they have it together. People who claim to be getting better and who look so good on the outside. That’s as false as Leave it to Beaver was. It isn’t real. It can’t be real because we all live in a fallen world in need of a Savior.

So when I’m alone in the dark feeling all the pain and regret of everything I did wrong as a mom, my only hope is Jesus. Because I couldn’t do it. I can’t do it. I’ve come to the end of myself and found Jesus there. He’s my only hope and he’s the only hope my children have.

Sermons and blog posts on how to be better and try harder aren’t what I need to hear. I need to hear those who know they’re broken talk about Jesus. I need to hear that I’m not the only one who’s screwed up. I need to hear that he isn’t surprised or disappointed. He knows I can’t pull it off and live a perfect life, obeying the law, striving to be good enough. That’s why he came! I can’t be all that. I’m not all that and I never will be. But he’s not surprised. He knows me fully and loves me perfectly. And I believe he loves my kids more than I ever could. And that’s where my hope is. In him. Not in my parenting or in my failed attempts at the perfect family.

Leave it to Beaver is a myth just like the idea of the perfect Christian.

-Susan

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Two Hippies: Podcast #46

il_fullxfull.779366618_i3roWelcome to episode 46 of the Chief Sinner Podcast. Today was our 42nd wedding anniversary! Of course, one of the ways we celebrate is by recording a new podcast. Join us as we talk more about our own journey through the years, including a conversation about husbands and wives and love and submission. As always, we welcome your comments.

Intro by Cristy Tice

Music: Led Zeppelin

Enjoy!

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Known and Loved: Podcast #45

IMG_0269Known and Loved. It’s more than a cool phrase on a cool tattoo. Christian, that describes you! You are fully known just as you really are, and fully loved just as you really are. We don’t need to pretend. God sees through the pretend us that we like to hide behind and sees the real us and loves the real us. We are fully known and fully loved. The Apostle Paul wrote:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

That’s the gospel. Our bad record was destroyed by Jesus at the cross. It’s been obliterated. It’s gone and in it’s place, we’ve been freely given a perfect righteousness and the forgiveness of sin. Let’s talk about the gospel, the freedom that it brings, and comfort that is ours in knowing that the Father who loves us is big enough and kind enough to pull it off!

Enjoy!

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Momma Tried: Podcast #44

JOd4DPGLThifgf38Lpgj_IMGWe mixed things up a little in this episode! Susan asked our good friend Val Flynn to join her and tell part of her story. Pull up a chair and listen in as Susan and Val talk about abuse, church, depression, the gospel, and failed attempts at getting better. We’re calling this episode, Momma Tried!

Music by Twenty One Pilots

Enjoy!

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Who Are The Weaker Vessels?

Sweet kids holding hands at the end of a pier. A classic portrait but nontheless great to watch.

I think we have it backwards. I think we’ve made a terrible mistake. By “we”, I mean the church. By “we” I mean church tradition. By “we” I mean the traditional way we’ve interpreted 1 Peter 3:7. By “we” I mean most commentators who’ve commented on 1 Peter 3:7. I mean “we” in a collective sense. By “we” I also mean me, as I’ve accepted the traditional view of this passage without questioning what I’ve heard. Peter writes:

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

The traditional interpretation of this passage goes something like this: husbands need to remember that since their wives (and women in general) are weaker than they are, they need to be nice to them and show them honor. But I don’t think that’s what Peter means and in fact, I think that interpretation falls under its own weight in light of the context here. The context goes all the way back to chapter two:

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17)

And also in chapter two:

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. (1 Peter 2:18-19)

Do you see the theme developing in Peter’s letter? It’s one of voluntarily subjecting or submitting oneself to someone else. First he tells everyone to “be subject” to every human institution which is a tangible way to “honor everyone”, including the emperor. Then he tells servants to “be subject” to their masters which is a way of showing respect. The context is voluntary submission to another. When one is voluntarily subjecting themselves to another, they are placing themselves voluntarily in a weaker position than those they are submitting themselves to. This “be subject” theme of voluntary submission to another continues in chapter three where wives and husbands are instructed to be in voluntary subjection to one another. The word “likewise” continues this theme:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1 Peter 3:1-2)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

In the context of 1 Peter, one shows honor to another by voluntarily subjecting and submitting themselves to that person or to that institution. In doing so, the one being subjected to is shown honor and the one voluntarily subjecting themselves is the weaker vessel by comparison. It is no different in this verse and it is the context that drives our interpretation. There is no punctuation in the original Greek text, but I personally think there should be a comma after woman in this passage. I think Peter is saying to husbands, put yourselves in the weaker position by showing honor to your wives. Live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman, as the weaker vessel, because she is an equal partner and a joint-heir with you. Show honor to your wives husbands, by becoming the weaker vessel and voluntarily humbling yourselves, becoming a servant. It’s what Jesus would do. Oh wait, it’s what Jesus did!

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, (1 Peter 3:18)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7)

-Mike

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Unmasking Spiritual Abuse: Podcast #43

unmaskedWhat is spiritual abuse? Does it even exist? What are the signs of spiritual abuse and how do you know if you’re experiencing it? In this episode, we talk through some of the indicators of spiritual abuse and the importance of escaping and exposing it.

The book referenced in this episode is The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen.

Enjoy!

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The Prodigal’s Father

prodigalIf you’re like me (and I hope you’re not) you may be rolling your eyes right now, thinking, “Oh great! Another blog about the story of the Prodigal! Haven’t we read and heard enough about this story already?” If that’s you, I empathize with you. I suppose you’re right and a part of me feels the same way. For several years running, it seemed the story of the Prodigal was always popping up somewhere. Perhaps it was due to the popularity of Keller’s book, The Prodigal God. It does seem like that book started a trend that perhaps has been overdone.

But I think this post is going to have a different flavor – a different emphasis – because I want to talk with you about the Prodigal’s father. Not as a picture of what God is like, although I think that’s accurate, but as a human father. A broken father. A hurting father. A disappointed father. A worried father. An anxious father. A scared father. An unknowing father. An uncertain father. An angry father. An unappreciated father. A sad father. A powerless father, unable to fix the obvious wrong he sees. And a doubting father who often finds himself questioning the silence and absence of an all-powerful God in the midst of the heartbreak.

What about that man? What was it like for him when his son “gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.” (Lk 15:13)? What was it like for him in the ensuing years of silence, with no contact? Never hearing, never knowing, and always wondering where he was, how he was getting along, and if he was okay or even alive. What was it like for him at family gatherings, parties, and holidays without his son there? What was it like for him when family and friends started to lovingly question him about the obvious absence of his son? What was it like for him when the realization fully hit that he was powerless to do anything about it? That he was powerless to intervene and help his son? What was it like when he realized that all he could do was wait and do nothing?

And wait he did. As hard as it was, he stepped back and did nothing. Nothing. He didn’t chase after his son to bring him back or try to prop up a temporary fix but instead, he embraced the gift of his own powerlessness and waited. He didn’t pursue him with clever and persuasive arguments. He came to the realization that God was at work writing his son’s story and he was powerless to interfere or change it. So he stepped back, prayed, watched, and waited, not knowing the outcome. And it was in the waiting that God brought his son to an end of himself. It was in the waiting that his son crashed and burned and “came to himself” (Lk. 15:17).  It was in the waiting that the father determined that even though he was powerless to fix his son, he would always be there for him when needed. He would always be waiting. Waiting for his return and available at a moment’s notice. He would always be there. And then one day, it happened. And when his son came to the end of his rope, his thoughts turned to his father who was waiting. Always waiting. Just waiting.

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:17-24)

-Mike

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Murderer of Joy: Podcast #42

Mans hand pointing to a rules message on a chalkboard.

Welcome to yet another episode of the Chief Sinner Podcast. Pull up a chair, grab your favorite beverage and join us as we talk about God’s law, God’s grace, and God’s gospel, and how to be a murderer of joy. The Bible refers to the Ten Commandments as a ministry of death but we’ve been told to view them as an achievable goal. But God’s law functions as judge, jury, and executioner when we think we’re pulling it off and becoming a better version of our self-righteous selves. Nothing will kill your joy and the joy of those around you quicker than chasing after law.

The message we need to hear isn’t “do more, try harder.” The message we need to hear is that God did for us, what we could never do for ourselves and that the righteous requirement of the law (perfect obedience) is a gift given to us from outside of ourselves based on the perfect record of another: Jesus (Rom. 8:1-4).

Intro by Shaun Shahan

Movie soundbite from Dan in Real Life

Enjoy!

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What About Good Works? Podcast #41

restLet’s talk about good works. What are they? Are good works necessary? Is there a good works quota that we’re required to meet? Are good works something we should be preoccupied with? How do we know if we’re doing it right? Is God mad at us when we fail, or are our good works a natural outflow of living our lives in the freedom of his love and the reality of the forgiveness of sin that we enjoy?

What’s the role of the Bible in all of this? Is the Bible a list of proof texts to keep each other in line, or is it a record of a merciful God loving broken people? Let’s talk about it.

Enjoy!

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What If…? Podcast #40

sonyps43561816706Welcome to episode 40 of the Chief Sinner Podcast! This episode is a milestone for us because I had promised Susan a PS4 gaming system if she did 40 podcasts with me. And here we are!! In this episode, you’ll hear Susan talk about the reasons behind her journey into gaming that coincided with our crash and burn in 2009 and how finding a different community there, promoted her healing. We also interact with a few listeners who have written us with their stories of life inside the institutional church and their reasons for leaving it.

In this episode, our conversation about church continues due to the response we’re getting from you on this topic. What if the church Jesus is building doesn’t resemble the churches we like to build? What if what we’ve been told and have believed about community isn’t the only reflection of genuine community? What if, instead of talking about the church, Jesus spent his time on earth showing us what the church looks like?

What if…?

Enjoy!

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Afterglow: Podcast #39

pexels-photoWelcome to Episode 39 of the Chief Sinner Podcast! On May 11th-15th 2016, we had 10 friends from around the country come to stay the weekend with us. These are friends we originally met on Twitter and our weekend together was the first time we’ve met a couple of them face to face. Those four days together were a beautiful time of rich, warm conversation and Jesus-centered community. Episode 37, The Road to Emmaus, is the podcast we recorded with all of them while they were here.

We’re calling this episode Afterglow because we recorded it the day after everyone returned home and we were still basking in the afterglow of that beautiful weekend together. In this episode, we talk about that weekend, community, the church, the broken, and Jello molds.

Books referenced in this episode:

  • He Loves Me – Wayne Jacobsen
  • Finding Church – Wayne Jacobsen
  • Wayne’s podcast is called The God Journey While we would not agree with every point he makes in his books and podcast, we recommend reading and listening. Your thinking will be challenged.

Blogs referenced in this episode:

Enjoy!

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Formal Church Membership and Church Discipline: Podcast #38

gavelWelcome to our 38th episode! In this episode, we talk about formal church membership and church discipline. What are these things and where did they originate? Join us as we open Scripture together and talk about these two important topics.

The blog series entitled, Demystifying Church, and our previous podcasts related to that series can be found at: http://www.chiefsinner.org/category/demystifying-church/

Enjoy!

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The Road to Emmaus: Podcast #37

IMG_0109Welcome to episode 37 of the Chief Sinner Podcast. As I type this, we are in the middle of a weekend with a house full of friends from our Twitter Gospel Posse. I caught them all at a weak moment and talked them into sitting down together and doing a group podcast. This episode is the result. Listen, and see how they love one another!

Music by Parable

Intro by Val Flynn

Enjoy!

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Demystifying Church, Part Two: Podcast #36

demystifyWelcome to episode 36 of the Chief Sinner Podcast! In this episode, we continue our conversation about church traditions and how many of those traditions have brought us the top-down authority structures present in so many churches today. Some of the topics we talk about in this episode are the clergy/laity distinction, our use of honorific titles for pastors and staff, and modern ordination councils.

This episode is based on Mike’s blog series, Demystifying Church. You can see that series on our web site at: http://www.chiefsinner.org/category/demystifying-church/

Enjoy!

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Demystifying Church: Podcast #35

chalkboardWelcome to episode 35 of the Chief Sinner podcast!! In this episode, Susan and I talk about the recent five-part series I published on our blog entitled, Demystifying Church. The journey God has us on has taken us outside the walls of the institutional church and into a space where we’re finding more genuine community without the obligations that accompany a more institutionalized setting. We answer a couple of questions in this episode that were posed to us by some friends concerning Demystifying Church.. As an extra bonus, you get to hear Mike fighting congestion from last week’s flu while trying to remain coherent on Benadryl.

Enjoy!

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