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The Most Reluctant Convert with Max McLean

Who is your favorite famous personality, writer, actor, politician? Isn’t that an easy ice breaker for a small group discussion? I’m guessing your mind is already wondering to that person, thinking of favorite anecdotes you have about them on the tip of you tongue.

But now imagine you have the opportunity to introduce this person to the world, not just with words, but you get to play the part in a movie about them.

Today, we welcome stage and screen actor, Max McLean, a man whose credits are easily found on Google, or better yet at the Fellowship for the Performing Arts web page:, where Max is the founder & artistic director. He is here today because in just a handful of days, on November 3rd, there is a major one day release of a compelling movie telling the untold story of C.S. Lewis entitled, “The Most Reluctant Convert.” Welcome Max McLean.



A few words before we close. What church should you go to? 

“And above all, you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and panelling…the question should never be: ‘Do I like that kind of service?’ but ‘Are these doctrines true: Is holiness there? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to move to this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike for this particular door-keeper?” 

― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

In my lifetime I have observed faith in God moving from a rather passive assumption in the culture around me, to a rather passive irrelevance. “Which church do you go to?” is a question with far more assumptions than a modern American would now make. Atheists have claimed the high ground in academia, somehow assuming they have won the day, disinterested in revisiting arguments from antiquity which allowed theism to dominate in world history.

In my world I come across a lot of atheists and less courageous agnostics. When allowed the chance I often express to them my envy of their assurance. I tell them I might be willing to join them, but I just can’t get there intellectually. This usually causes them pause. That’s their line. “Did he just say he can’t get to atheism intellectually?”

What they don’t know is that I don’t believe they came to a belief in the absence of God intellectually either. It doesn’t take a genius to look at a sunset and have a pretty strong intuition that this didn’t come from nothing, or chance which is another word for nothing. As prayers are cancelled in public gatherings, I haven’t noticed many hospitals and senior centers asking for fewer chaplains. When one is waiting for results of the cancer screening, I don’t know many calling out to the local atheist society for help.

In you are reluctant to follow thinking which could land you in the camp of Christ followers, perhaps it would be worth the time to meet one of your predecessors. His name is C.S. Lewis. You can find him in the movie “The Most Reluctant Convert.” Oh, and don’t be surprised if he becomes a rather good friend.

It’s Worth a Thought

For Church Hurts And, this is John Bash. Go and enjoy God today.

God, Golf, and Grace with Dr. Doug Rehberg

Producer: Church Hurts And is a listener-supported podcast. Please go to and click on the DONATE button to become part of our support team. 

Do you need grace? Tired of feeling judged by Christians? Stay tuned as we look at God, Golf, and Grace with Dr. Doug Rehberg.

I have seen huge cultural shifts in my time, a comment worthy of one who admits to being an old curmudgeon. One of those shifts was in the role and status of the clergyman. When growing up, the clergy was among the most respected professions in America. A local minister was revered in a way, often asked to open public meetings in prayer, provide benedictions at political functions, sought after for wisdom in times of crisis, and appreciated for his willingness to visit shut-ins, perform funerals, and preside over weddings. Often his counsel was even desired the way professional therapists are today.

While historically clergy have been among the most educated people in society for over two thousand years, they have also been notoriously underpaid, treated at times as “the help,” tipped a little extra at Christmas, or recipients of extra vegetables from the garden. There were other benefits as well, sometimes including a home while they served the church, along with a coveted free membership at the local country club, or at least the opportunity to play on Mondays when courses were traditionally closed.

Early in my ministry, I discovered those days were fading, which isn’t saying I didn’t pine away wishing for them to return. Ministry, as a “profession” was being stained daily by abuses as educational qualifications for ordination, were watered down by many independent and congregational churches. 

Today we have a guest a man who straddled that generational gap as well as any I know. Highly respected in his community, he honored his country club for their generosity to him. He used their fairways to minister to many, and find refreshment for his own soul.

Let’s welcome the Reverend Dr. Doug Rehberg, author of the new book, “God, Golf and Grace.


If you have benefitted from these podcasts, please consider joining our support team at Standing Stone Ministry.

Improving Lives by Design with Architect Ron Thomas

Have you ever had something happen to you which has haunted you for your entire life?

Playing in the woods was my favorite part of childhood in suburban Pittsburgh. As those years passed, the woods continued to provide new discoveries, new paths, new creatures, and invited adventures created by developing adolescent minds. Tadpoles and insects soon came to be replaced by the thought of building our place of habitation, free from adult eyes, nasty weather, and a safe refuge from the watching world.

Finding the right spot took many weeks of roaming through the trees, wanting to be close enough to civilization to provide easy access, but far enough in to be hidden even during the winter months when the leaves were gone. Of course, we didn't want to dig too much; a level spot would be ideal. Imagine going through the design and materials stage with the resources of early teens. As you might imagine, all of this was facilitated by the slowing sprawling suburban neighborhood. New construction was asking for little boys to come to steal a few sheets of plywood, 2x4s, and nails.

I undertook this project with my partner, Jim, whose father was an attorney. My dad was an insurance man. That's my way of suggesting our trade skills were at best lacking, as was proven by the result. But we had a shack, and we were proud of it. 

Over the years of life, I have remained handyman-challenged, constantly in need of friends with developed skills and knowledge. But I have also come to appreciate those who design in the mind structures which provide the walls we live within. Boring designs make me yawn. Poor construction, I find repulsive. Yet somehow, there seems to be a connection between our view of life and the buildings we build and live in. Perhaps they even say something about God.

Today we have a guest who can make sense out of these meanderings, welcome Architect Ron Thomas to Church Hurts And.

Dr. John Bash is a shepherd with Standing Stone, a ministry that ministers to ministers, a need as important in this time as any in our lifetime. Consider joining this support team at

Deep Pain with Dr.Mark Talbot

Ever faced pain? I mean real pain, deep pain, defining pain? Stay tuned as we look today at “Deep Pain with Dr. Mark Talbot” author of “When the Stars Disappear”.

Church Hurts And is a listener-supported podcast. Go to and click on the DONATE button to become part of our support team. 

There was one wooded winding road at the bottom of a hill right at the midpoint of my 20-minute jaunt to Jim’s house. It seemed like a long way in my early teens, traversing the way only teens can do, unabashedly combining quick sprints, slow jogs, periodic skipping, and rarely a normal walking gait. Somehow this hollow at the bottom of the hill at the end of Murdstone Road seemed special, the terrain prohibiting the constant suburban sprawl for a few hundred yards as the woods grew wild. By this point in my journey, I was ready for some deeper reflection, a safe distance from the place of my fear called home. Few would have guessed the content of the conversation I permitted myself to speak out loud in this private hollow. Almost always it was filled with prayerful questions reflecting confusion about the pain and fear I lived in on Murdstone Road, one of the least safe places I ever have experienced in life.

I asked God to do things on that stretch of road I would never have done in public. “Please God, just lift me up and transport me ten feet so I can know you really exist.” I’d close my eyes as I continued walking, waiting to feel the lift, and then laughing at my own silliness. I knew God didn’t play those games, but I thought it would be nice and surely strengthen my faith in the midst of the pain nightmare I called home.

Pain comes in a lot of forms. We could begin putting adjectives in front of the noun and be here all day, or we could turn it into an adjective and talk about all of the painful people, experiences, churches, muscles, thoughts…you get the idea.

So today we turn for help to an unusual place. A real philosopher of all things.   

Let’s welcome Dr. Mark Talbot to Church Hurts And.

Dr. Mark Talbot encourages support of

Dr. John Bash is a shepherd with Standing Stone, a ministry that ministers to ministers, a need as important in this time as any in our lifetime. Consider joining this support team at


Forgiving the Nightmare with Mark Sowersby

Church Hurts And is a listener-supported podcast. Go to to click on the DONATE button and become part of our support team.

Have you ever had something happen to you which has haunted you for your entire life? 

Forgiving the Nightmare with Mark Sowersby

“I really don’t like Bob. He’s rather arrogant and aloof I think.”

“Oh, he’s not that bad if you get to know him.”

“Well, who would want to get to him? He’s a jerk.”

“Well, he’s been through a lot in life. Give him a break.”

Who among us has not had a conversation like this? I heard it so often when I was younger I got sick of it, but it got me thinking. What is it about people who manifest unattractive relational skills which drive people away, but whom underneath can be really nice people? And since I don’t have the time to get to know everybody, what should I learn about how I should behave?

Now that could be a book, but let me jump to the conclusion. Every person you meet has a story. Part of that story will probably include some very vulnerable life-changing events or relationships which made an indelible imprint upon them. I am not talking about the kind of things that come up in a two-minute cocktail party introduction. “Hi. My name is John and I had an evil stepmother who defined my childhood. How are you?” That isn’t how it works, is it?

But then there are those rare moments, those times in life when another opens up to you in a moment of vulnerability. They wouldn’t be doing this if a certain amount of trust hadn’t already been built. And then it comes. You hear a bit of their nightmare. Everything changes. They wonder if you will run away, ask more questions, or be frozen by the reality of it all.

Today we have someone with a real nightmare and the courage to bring it into the light. He’s even discovered some life principles which others have used to get them through their own nightmares. Let’s welcome Pastor Mark Sowersby to Church Hurts And.

For more about Mark:

John Bash is a shepherd with Standing Stone, a ministry that ministers to ministers, a need as important in this time as any in our lifetime. Consider joining this support team at

Romantic Theology Today with Dr. Michael J. Christensen

If you benefit from this radio show/podcast and would like to support the ongoing efforts of this ministry, you can do so by visiting  Donations are tax-deductible, needed, and appreciated more than you know.

Have you ever heard of Romantic Theology? Sounds good, doesn’t it? Let’s find out more with Dr. Michael J. Christensen.

After becoming a Christian at the age of 13, I developed some habits and behaviors which could have been considered prudish, ironically quite contrary to my generally outgoing personality. Not committing adultery or fornication before marriage became my obsession for over a decade, carefully studying the meaning of the word, along with fornication, the way other teens might have devoured those certain National Geographics or hard to come by Playboys. How was a Christian adolescent survive a normal increase in testosterone which felt more like an abnormal bomb going off in my body?

“Be careful of those things which could naturally lead to inappropriate sexual intimacy in your relationships with girls,” I heard from Rev. Bob Letzinger during a mid-winter conference at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Pittsburgh. Amazingly he confessed to having a climax the first time he ever held hands with a girl. His talk was famous, and we knew it was coming, but did he really say that? And he kept going, warning about the hugs which lasted too long, the times alone without accountability, the dates which lasted too late into the night.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, my very best friend sitting next to me (who currently holds a very prestigious position as a professor of theology at a premier evangelical seminary) looked over at me and noticed the mark on my neck. He looked like he had seen a snake as his face turned red and his hands started to shake. Quietly and accusingly he pointed at it, trying not to be obvious as the speaker continued, “That’s a hickey,” he said with wide eyes.

I hadn’t known about hickeys until the previous evening with my long-term high school girlfriend, Kathy. You remember those days, your first love, the power of attraction, the depth of longing. Could that tell us anything about God and the Church?

Let’s ask Dr. Michael J. Christensen. professor of theology at Northwind Seminary.

For more about Michael Christensen, visit



Reality, Jazz AND Faith with John Patitucci

If you are a jazz fan, you don’t want to miss this. If you aren’t, get ready to learn from an amazing man accomplished in a lot of ways. Today, bass virtuoso, John Patitucci. 

PREFACE: Reality, Jazz, AND Faith

If you grew up in a church traditional at all, you will remember a worship component called the “offertory.” To me it seemed simply to be a time for the music director to show off his high-brow classical taste, sometimes with a soloist belting out with too much vibrato in a foreign language. With a little more reflection it seemed to be a programing sleight of hand designed to cover the exact amount of time it took the ushers to collect the offering before the organ abruptly broke into the Gloria Patri shaking the very foundation stones of the church with a refrain all knew and were able to sing along without looking at the words.

Modern liturgies, which some would consider not liturgical at all, a conclusion with which I strongly disagree, lean toward something less repetitive. I remember one time in a mid-week service the offering was the last thing done before I was to get up and teach. That is the time for a preacher to compose himself, double-check that his zipper is up, make sure the notes are in order, and grab a moment of prayer remembering it isn’t about him. “Get out of yourself turkey,” my spirit would hear.

But this Wednesday evening the music director introduced a guest musician to do a solo instrumental piece for the offering. Doesn’t sound too unusual, right? But the guest’s instrument was a bass. “This should be interesting,” I thought. And the bass had six strings, not four. Thankfully I would be getting up in a few minutes to save things if it was a flop.

A few minutes later I walked up to the lectern, wiping tears from my eyes, wondering what had just happened. Nothing I could say would reach the heart of people like what they had just heard. I would teach humbly, knowing God had shown up already, thankful to be a part of the body of Christ.

Let us welcome today to Church Hurts And, that bass player and renowned virtuoso, John Patitucci.  

If you have benefitted from this radio show/podcast and would like to support the ongoing efforts of this ministry, you can do so by visiting Donations are tax-deductible, needed, and appreciated more than you know.

For more about our guest, you can check him out at:

Crazy Church Boards with William Larson, Esq.

If you’ve ever wanted to scream the classic Rodney King line, “Why can’t we all just get along?” it might have been in church. Today: Crazy Church Boards with Attorney William Larson. 

Did you take civics or political science when you went to school? Part of basic education is learning how people have tried to organize themselves to get along in this world. Who can tell whom what to do, why, and how? A few forms of government might stir the cobwebs in the brain: Democracy, Communism, Socialism, Monarchy, Theocracy, Totalitarianism. Now for the pop quiz. Describe each in a few sentences and then explain why you think one is the best.

Now let’s get a bit more practical. With a bit of thought, we realize that nations aren’t the only thing that needs to be governed. Schools do too, and corporations, and states, and homeowners associations, and families. Oh, that’s right, and churches too. Uh oh!

If you ask people who have been hurt by the church somehow what it was that hurt them, it won’t be long before you are talking about church leadership and church government. If you care to know, it is a sub-category of “Ecclesiology,” a big word for the study of the church. They might not use the word “government,” let alone “ecclesiology, but that’s what they are talking about. Leaders, pastors, priests, elders, deacons—all referring to roles in church government. And wow, they sure have the capacity to mess things up and make one wonder if common sense has been banned from the church board room.

Let’s find out more about this from someone who might know. A practicing attorney who has sat on more than a few boards, let’s welcome William Larson to Church Hurts And.  

If you have benefited from this radio show/podcast and would like to support the ongoing efforts of this ministry, you can do so by visiting Donations are fully tax-deductible, needed, and appreciated more than you know.

Animals, Family AND Photos with Holly Youngblood Cannon

Are you an animal lover? Have a soft spot for the furry creatures of the forest or the brilliant feathered friends above?  Today, Animals, Family,and Photos with Award-Winning Wild Life Photographer and Artist, Holly Cannon.

Do you know the three basic distinctions which make up the foundation for any worldview which is considered Christian? They are all found in the first chapter of the first book in the Bible: Genesis one. 

#1 There is a distinction between God and creation. There is a fundamental difference between the two and if you get that confused, everything else turns into a mess. In the beginning God. Not in the beginning God and. God didn’t check in with me, or you, when He decided to start this world as much as we might like to believe otherwise.

#2 There is a distinction between human beings and all other creatures. Being in the image of God is something uniquely reserved for mankind. God gives man the special responsibility to rule over all the creatures of this world. Its part of the job description we have as humans. Interesting, huh? 

#3. Man is distinct from woman. God made man; male and female he created them. It doesn’t matter how confusing the use of language or pronouns are, a man isn’t a woman and vice versa no matter how confusing we might try to make that.

Three fundamental distinctions are worthy to consult when things get confusing in this life. Today we are going to talk a bit more about one of them which all too often gets overlooked. What about all those other creatures which God put on this earth the do their thing? If God put them there, I bet they can teach us something about Him, even if they aren’t in His image like us humans are. How are we to rule over them if we don’t know them, study them, and enjoy God’s creation?

Ever consider that the first job God gave man? It is common to say prostitution is the oldest profession. That’s not true. Adam and Eve were Zoologists. So let’s talk to someone who has seen animals of all kinds and gives us a peek into their glory.

Welcome, Holly Youngblood Cannon to Church Hurts And.  

If you have appreciated this radio show/podcast and would like to support the ongoing efforts of this ministry, you can do so by visiting Donations are fully tax-deductible, needed, and sincerely appreciated.

Death, Drugs, AND Church with Jeff & Shannon Bryant

Know what it is like to live with a smile masking pain and hurt so deep there aren’t enough drugs to cover it up? Today, Death, Drugs, AND Church with Jeff & Shannon Bryant.

It is hard to imagine this today, but there was a time when the selection of a marriage partner began with the assumption you would choose someone from your family's own ethnic identity and religious affiliation. This wasn't a problem for those whose lives were completely surrounded by only such people anyway. So Dutch married Dutch. Scots married Scots. Mexicans married Mexicans. Chinese married Chinese.

Notice I started with national identities because you know it gets messier when we add religion into it. Surely the nice Scottish Lass raised in the Church of Scotland wouldn't want to marry a Roman Catholic Scot, of all things, would she? If this were a discussion group, all of you would be ready with stories of your own. You know someone whose parents were horrified when he married a Russian girl and at the wedding… dot dot dot. These are stories that include way too much relational pain, generational conflict, historical changes, and cultural metamorphosis. They are hard to understand, more challenging to live, and often produce irreconcilable damage to children who find it all just stupid.

So let's cut beneath all of those external cultural, national and religious labels and dive right into the home. Here we have a happily married couple with three children. Issues arise as they always do in life, some more significant than others. How does the couple navigate these challenges as they turn to their important fundamental values? She thinks Church would help if they could go together as a family. He's not surprised because she's always been a bit more spiritual than he was. "Go ahead, Honey, take the kids."

"But I'd like you to come with us." she implores. To say the least, he isn't tempted. 

Years go by with the script remaining the same. He misses that the issue isn't about Church at all, really. His wife longs for faith to play a part in their marriage, their family, their decisions. The bickering between the two of them becomes more commonplace. The once passionate love affair turns into an endurance race, finding ways to avoid the growing gap between them. Now what?

Let’s find out. Welcome, Orange County Entrepreneur Jeff Bryants to Church Hurts And.  

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