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Brain Science AND Belief with Dr. Ken Baugh

Ever thought the devil made you do it? Why do you do what you do and how does faith fit into it?

Don’t tell anybody, but I’ve gotten addicted to binge-watching a series on Netflix. No, really, don’t tell anyone because the language is way too graphic, and the sex on the screen won’t pass any Sunday School test, but the storyline and imagination is simply overwhelmingly compelling. The series is called Outlander, and it forces one to contemplate the cultural, medical, and spiritual dynamics in the mid 20th century compared to the mid 18th century. How would you handle life if you woke up tomorrow 200 years back in time? Imagine the differences, beginning with no lights to turn on, much less, thermostats to adjust, or prescriptions to take.

So why do we just keep that line of thought going for a minute? In the Christian world, it wasn’t long ago Catholics believed all Protestants were heretics, and Protestants all thought The Pope was the Anti-Christ. Psychology as a specific field of study was not even born as myths and superstitions abounded in the areas we might call brain science today. You are doing something crazy? What are we supposed to conclude if we don’t know about brain tumors, chemical imbalances, and personality disorders?

Rushing forward to today, do you wonder why you are struggling with faith and relationship issues in a way that seems unique? Do you question the prescriptions which are supposed to take the edge off of your anxiety or depression, still finding yourself unsatisfied? Does trust in God seem to elude you, making you long for the faith you see in others?

Let’s ask someone who has pondered these things for most of a lifetime.

Founder and CEO of IDT Ministries (Institute for Discipleship Training) and former pastor of Coast Hills Church in Aliso Viejo, welcome Dr. Ken Baugh to Church, Hurts And.

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Man of Iron with Terry Kolb

In our opening, we mention having a “dash of recovery” thrown in. What is that? Recovery? Recovery from what? 

If you Google recovery, the first thing to come up will be how to recover a lost or corrupted Word document. That is something we hope we don’t have to do anytime soon. But we are looking at something far more important and fundamental. That’s easy for me to say not panicking over a corrupted Word document containing months of work, but you get the point.

Consider the meaning of the prefix “re.” It means simply “back” or “again.” It appears hundreds of times in the English language. Rearrange. Retool. Readjust. Reborn. Reform. Remember. I could go on and on or chose different words if I wanted to redo this intro.

And then, have you ever been in a situation where you were responsible for too many things and the deadline was looming? You are running around checking on things and someone says, “I got this covered.” Wow, does that feel good! Covered. Protected.

Now we have something which was supposed to be covered but was left out in the elements too long. The storms came. The snow fell. The wind blew and too much exposure has taken its toll. Maybe we should just throw it out. Or, or is it worthy enough to RE-cover.

I have discovered that recovery people are some of the most gracious-giving people in this world. They know what it means to be beat-up by life. They know what it means to be exposed to too many storms. They know what it means to have a second chance.

You get to meet one of these people who knows something about this subject today.

Welcome former Iron Worker and current CEO of NJ Boom and Erectors, Terry Kolb to Church, Hurts And.


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Bonhoeffer 1945 AND Today with D. Paul Thomas

Bonhoeffer 1945 and Today

I don’t know about you, but I know life seems more complicated to me today than it was years ago. What used to be apparent black and white issues have turned into an insane amount of grays and purples and browns. It reminded me of third-grade art class when we were first allowed to play with paints and shown how to mix colors. Blue and yellow could make the loveliest shades of green. Like every other ADD child, of course, I figured if two colors mixed was good, why not three and four and five. You know the result, that ugly shade of mud which was irredeemable. 

Unfortunately, when I am talking about life being complicated, it isn’t as easy to understand as paint mixing. When what we learned was good ends up being not so good, or even harmful, confusion kicks in. If a right isn’t right, and wrong is what we were told was right, how are we act? When what was cast in stone in front of the courthouse from ten commandments is now forbidden to be on public property, who is making the rules, or maybe more importantly, who has changed the rules, and why?

In college, I was taught that there were different views of ethics, the two primary ones being Absolute and Relative. Absolute Ethics emphasized what was always true, no matter what. Relative Ethics emphasized that ethics changed based upon the situation. The classic illustration given was based upon lying being bad. If lying is evil, what do you do when the Gestapo comes to the door and asks if you are hiding Jews in your attic. If you tell the truth, they will surely be shot. If you lie, you have violated God’s prohibition against lying.

Today we will talk about a man who actually faced those issues, in that time with the Gestapo and Hitler and churches as messed up as church gets. His name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. To find out more, let’s ask an actor who has played Bonhoeffer all over the world in the play Bonhoeffer 1945.

Welcome actor/playwright D. Paul Thomas to Church, Hurts And.

Heart of the Artist with Rory Noland

Christian Podcast | Heart of the Artist

I was the ripe old age of 22, settled into a graduate school outside of Chicago, and attempting to adjust to the north again after a marvelous year working in Key Biscayne, Florida. My father had died the previous year from sorosis of the liver, leaving me a bit lonely, while at the same time feeling quite adult. I was on my career path into church ministry, already quite settled into my theology of choice, yet eager to learn, and get my walking papers to be a legitimate clergyman.

Attending a singles group in the city, I ran into an all-too-cute girl who wouldn’t quit talking about her church in the suburbs. Actually, everyone seemed to be talking about that church, so I allowed myself to be dragged along one Sunday, more interested in the girl than I was in the church. I knew things were going to be different since the lobby was packed in the theater hosting this new fangled trendy church, awaiting the previous service to let out.

It is hard to imagine nowadays, but back then churches were mostly known for their pipe organs, choirs, and liturgy. The site of a band set up on the stage was different. But then, four female vocalists with microphones and smiles started to sing in harmony, quite well by the way. And then it happened. I saw the drummer lift slowly from his seat at the drum kit as the singers paused. With no shame or apology, and all the strength the young man had, he came down on the snare and the beat was on. Welcome to the modern church.

If I had to compare those three years in the seminary with the impact of that one church on my thinking, I’m not sure which was greater. I do know this, I will forever be grateful. Why do we do what we do in church? How much of it is because of outdated traditions, and how much of it is led by God’s instructions in the Bible?

Today we have a special guest who has spent his life asking such questions, picking the songs, rehearsing the bands, and leading the worship. Today he continues to serve the church as the director of Heart of the Artist Ministries. Let’s meet him.

Welcome, Rory Noland, to Church Hurts And.

Inside a Princess with K.D. Holmberg

Inside a Princess.

I am guessing you think your intuition is pretty good. You read people rather well. Trust your instincts. “Trust the Force, Luke.”

At the core of the romantic ideal in America today is the scene of two unknowns who look across a crowded room, happen to catch the eyes of each other, and it is immediately there. You feel the electricity as it sparks between them and shudders through their body down to their toes. Nothing will be the same again. Perhaps a third notice the silent exchange, camera angle catching it just right, and now knowing voyeurs react, and the plotline is set. Will this be the beginning of a great romance or a tragedy of epic proportions? With a whiff of smell salts, we know real life would end up with some twisted combination of the two.

I relate to the writer's desire to want to create the tale, rather than be another typical movie-goer, at the mercy of the author’s and producer’s imagination. How would we write the tale? Want to have happy endings? Then craft the story that way. Want to see tragedy turned into miracles? Write it that way. The power of authorship can be powerful.

But what do you do if are enamored with a story already told, a story known to many, and told for millenniums? What if you see it differently? What if the villain isn’t a villain, and the heroine isn’t quite so heroic? What do you do then?

Let’s make it harder. What if that story is in the Bible? Really? A Bible story that may have some insights people have been missing, and missing badly? If told another way, there are those in this world who could be helped by telling it, bringing it to life, and giving a whole new twist a dust-covered Sunday School lessons long forgotten.

What would that be like? Let’s find out. 

Welcome, K.D. Holmberg, to Church Hurts And.

London Town, Slaves and Grace with Ben Virgo

PART 1. I was disappointed when my hostess in London informed me she had set up a tour for us to go on. I’m not a tour-going kind of tourist and I was sure no tour was going to show me to the kind of places I’d want to see. “But it is the Christian Heritage Tour” she explained, a bit hurt by my obvious lack of enthusiasm. I bit my lip, not wanting to appear any more unappreciative than I already had. So now I’m going to get some sappy tour of Church architecture by a typical Anglican who will explain away the empty churches with some cultural psycho babble. Surely the guide won’t know much about the truly great preachers of London I would want to know about. 

As I sat on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, best know to this American mind for the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981, little was I prepared for the bouncing smiling tour guide to be another act of God’s humor upon me. Ben Virgo was his name. Surprisingly he was not a stayed traditional Anglican at all and proceeded to take us on a walking tour of London which turned the day into one of the most meaningful and memorable days of my life.

I’d like to keep telling you about it, but let me cut to the chase. In a way I had never understood, Ben helped me see how much of key moments in history can be tied back to London and even to specific places in London. So in the midst of all the questions and unrest lately here in the US, I figured I’d test out Ben’s theory. What can we learn about racial issues from London? What about disease and pandemics? What about God and Church and Hurts?

So with no further adieu, Ben Virgo, Welcome to Church Hurts And from the other side of the pond.

Your Story Isn’t Finished with Brian Mann

Virginia Woolf once said, “If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” Let me repeat that, “If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” That is rather scary if you think about it.

Four years ago, I went through a life-changing, radical, character-defining, unnerving transition. I’m not going to tell you exactly what it was because I am not ready to get that vulnerable, but I will say to you: I am not the same person as I was four years ago. I thought it was just a choice, until every day I found out something new about myself.

Here is the strange about it. Of all the things in life I might have doubted, one thing I did not doubt was I was the world’s number one expert in John Bash. Nobody knew me as well as I knew me. How could they? Isn’t that rather self-evident? 

I once heard a woman say, “I’m not much, but I’m all I think about.” I wasn’t quite that bad, but I did claim a certain amount of self-awareness. I had my share of psychology classes, two graduate degrees, was a minister for 25 years, with more than a few therapy sessions. Doesn’t that qualify me to know myself? In short, the answer is a resounding “No.”

Have you ever heard the question, “Would you rather be happy or right?” Most people who ask this expect it to be rhetorical. I have the kind of brain which doesn’t do well with such questions. Right or happy? I ponder it. Doesn’t this open the possibility for a happy idiot? Let’s not dismiss “right” too quickly, right?

I am particularly appreciative of people who can come into such pondering and help me to think about life differently. Their way to truth is not nearly as propositional as I would like, is much more sensitive and caring, and usually includes some fun stories along the way.

Today we have such a person. Brian Mann is an artist, communicator, churchman and currently holds the title of Story Ninja at Citycoast Creative in Sonoma, California.

Welcome, Brian Mann, to Church Hurts And.

Extreme Truth with Dr. Richard Knodel

One of the pains of getting older comes in attempting to accept changes, even embrace changes, rather than staying stuck in old ways and acting precisely like the old people at whom you used to roll your eyes. By allowing myself to be stereotyped as an old curmudgeon in the introduction to this show, I guess I've admitted that I don't intend to bend over backward to embrace the latest trendsetting fashions. Perhaps the most difficult of all changes for me are those that come into the world of ideas and language. I knew I was in trouble last November when the Oxford University Dictionary changed the definition of "woman." Really? 

How am I to talk if you change the meaning of words on me? If this is starting to sound too obtuse, take the time to watch the 2019 movie entitled "The Professor and the Madman" with Mel Gibson and Sean Penn. The meaning of words does matter and helps us as we try to understand and navigate the world around us, not to mention relationships within that world. 

Now I can admit to being a bit pedantic about some things, and I know for a fact that our special guest today can be, but at some point, I have to put my foot down and scream, "This Matters." It isn't just words. It is words.

Have I lost you yet? Let me give you one example, one word, and then see where it takes us. Ready? TRUTH. What does the word "truth" mean? 

Growing up, I learned that everyone could have opinions, some more right than others, and the essence of good conversation was exchanging ideas to learn and be influenced by others. All decent people were seeking the truth, so such discussions were outstanding. But something happened. Somebody switched the definition of "truth" with opinion. Instead of "the truth," people were talking about "my truth."

If I try to explain my confusion any further, I'll confuse myself, so today we have as a guest the author of LIFESTYLE: A Biblical/Philosophical Study of Christianity & the Culture it Produces. Maybe he can help.

From Western Ohio, welcome Dr. Richard Knodel to Church Hurts And.

The Odyssey of King David with Dr. Sam Mayhugh & D. Paul Thomas

Everything changes when one is introduced with the title of “Pastor” or “Reverend” or “Father” or “Preacher.” An individual self-consciousness seems to invade the social space, consistently altering the subject under discussion. People somehow seem obligated to qualify themselves, dropping a sentence or two about their spirituality, church attendance, or lack thereof. Frequently there may also be a reference to childhood upbringing, ethnic traditions, or family practices.

Since I was often introduced to such a title, I was self-conscious of the expectations. I was now the church or religion representative as the discussion twisted to a disagreement or disillusionment with “organized religion.” Over the years, I usually discovered I was in agreement with the person expressing their discontent and fully understood why they chose to disengage. 

While I have never taken a poll, I certainly have a lot of anecdotal evidence to conclude people’s primary distaste for organized religion is founded in what they perceive as hypocrisy. Leaders allow themselves to be perceived as more holy, more together, closer to God, and wiser than the average Joe. It can be quite off-putting, but it is also very seductive. Who doesn’t want someone with an into God? Why listen to sermons if the one preaching it doesn’t have something you don’t have?  

But then the hammer comes down, and the stories unfold. This preacher didn’t know how to keep his pants on. That leader, she had her hand in the till. The neighbor always going to church was rude to me.

In some ways, this whole discussion can get mundane to me. I’ve had it hundreds, if not thousands of times. That’s sad, but cause it isn’t mundane. It is so the opposite of what the Bible teaches from beginning to end, perhaps nowhere more prominently than in the leading figure of Old Testament Israel, King David.

Let’s find out more from our two guests today, who I will introduce in a moment after an excerpt from their work “The Odyssey of King David” read by D. Paul Thomas.

Relationship Pain with Brian Holian

Relationship Pain. Ever been excommunicated? I mean, kicked out of a church kind of excommunicated? Sounds like we are talking about the Middle Ages, doesn’t it? Does that really happen anymore? I mean, there are churches for every species of thought under heaven. One church I visited had a blessing Sunday for pets. Choose your sexual preference, a god off the menu, liturgical stripe you prefer, and you can find a church that fits. Why would anyone get excommunicated when one can just walk down the street to open arms of people equally indignant at the idea, to begin with?

It doesn’t take a whole lot of self-reflection to realize we excommunicate people from our lives all the time. The word comes from the Latin “excommunicare,” which means to put outside of the community. We can put it more simply by staying in English and just looking at ex and communication. I bet you have a bunch of people in your life who would fit into that category: “I am not going to communicate with you anymore.” You have done something so offensive, so repulsive, so defiling to my standards, I no longer will have you in my life.

This gets particularly difficult when it happens in the most intimate relationships, particularly the family. 

When I was a young pastor, already starting my second church, and had a second child on the way, I had a very unique friend. In his beginning years of fatherhood, he happened to be a nuclear power engineer and personified what any pastor would like to have in the church. He was the greeter from heaven, making everyone who dared walk through the doors feel special, and welcomed. Come back again, and he would remember your name, ask about your week and point you to the coffee before the service.

When the lights went off at church, we would find our way to his small starter home, where the ping pong table was my immediate destination. Laughter began, and extended volleys were interspersed with deep theological questions and a passion for unbelievers throughout the world. In so many ways, everything just seemed perfect. Let’s see…

Welcome, Brian Holian to Church Hurts And.

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