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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.

Finding My Parents with Tim Dyson

Radio Show Surprise Ending. When I was growing up, professional athletes were a little less “professional” than today. T.V. cameras and interviews after the game often included “Hi Mom!” and thanks to their parents for getting them to such a success point. Back then, I found it a bit annoying, where now I miss the innocence and authenticity of it all.

Having done this show for the past year, I have been surprised by how many of our guests end up talking about their parents when we got into the deeper life issues. My mother died shortly after I turned three. My father died when I was only 22, and I’ve felt handicapped in life. I couldn’t take my wife-to-be to meet my Dad and it would have shown her a lot about me. I loved my Dad, but his failings and flaws impacted me for years into the future. In fact, they still do.

When a new baby comes into the world, it is common for the adoring family and close friends to make comments about how they have physical attributes of the mother or father. I find it ridiculous, impossible to discern, and as reliable as your daily horoscope. But as life goes on, often the genetic and character traits passed from parent to child are undeniable. Parents teach us what we should be like and model for us how to navigate this world with varying degrees of success.

So what do you do when that thing called a “nuclear family” betrays you, dies, gives you up for adoption, turns to booze, or just flakes in the myriad of other ways possible? What is it like to live life trying to fill out a form that asks for your father’s name, and you don’t know the answer? We’ve all seen the T.V. shows of adopted children becoming adults and going in search of their “biological” parents. They are gut-wrenching or emit heartwarming conclusions much rarer than the editing room floor would tell.

Where would one go to find such stories? Certainly, Jails and Prisons would be a place to start. The reality is one wouldn’t need to go to such lengths. Just listen when people around you begin talking about their own families. Strange and unique combinations of people, betrayal, and heartbreak lurk beneath the surface.

Today we have your local small business banker in Orange County. Need a business loan? He’s your man. He’s a great father to two handsome teenage boys. Active in his church. Let’s open the phone lines and ask him about family.

Welcome, Tim Dyson to Church Hurts And.

Fiction Meets Life with Michael Phillips

I grew up in a home where I was encouraged to read, perhaps not in the healthiest of manners, but encouraged to read nonetheless. My natural adversarial personality did not accept such prodding easily, my push-back coming in the form of, or preference to, physical activity. Give me a ball of any kind, and I was happy.

I happened to have the good fortune of growing up in Pittsburgh, the second cloudiest city in the US, with winters unfriendly to little boys wanting to run and play outside, our periodic football games in the snow a rare opportunity. Nasty weather drove us indoors, restlessly impatient, looking for something to do. Once bored enough, the ample books awaited to be opened by hesitant youthful eyes.

While a few classics were consumed in such moments, before long I discovered various genres more to my liking. The Hardy Boys mystery novels were consumed along with Nancy Drew and her equally challenging exploits. Next escape novels from WWII were discovered in abundance. Reading itself could be an escape I realized, something much needed in my abusive, unfriendly childhood home.

I guess there is something good about learning the value of books for escape and enjoyment before accepting their value for learning itself. It was many years later I embraced the enjoyment of education, expanding one’s mental geography while traveling through time between the pages of a book. 

I picked up a new author a few months ago, wondering if he would be worth reading. My rule is to read at least fifty pages before rejecting the book for good. I was cynical about this guy for reasons not worth elaborating upon, but I got through the first fifty pages, more than a little intrigued. I’m on my fourteenth book now and recently discovered I have the option of going for fifty more.

The characters are deep, real, multidimensional, and struggle with the same issues in life as I do. They live in times I want to know more about and in places, I want to go. Their relationships struggle with things I struggle with and their doubts seem to match my own as well.

So today on Church Hurts And you get to meet that author along with me. His name is Michael Phillips and he doesn’t do many interviews. He’s a writer, not a public speaker, but he has graciously agreed to come out of his Shire, of sorts, to be with us.  Welcome, Michael Phillips to Church Hurts And.

Inside a Book Doctor with Dr. Steve Halliday

OC Talk Radio Show: If you are not a reader, you may be tempted to hang up, turn off, or otherwise ignore this show when you hear the title "Inside a Book Doctor." I encourage you not to because we will look at some things that may confirm suspicions you have about books, or at least I hope we will. Books are funny things.

Many years ago I started a church that grew in numbers year after year. Many of our new members were converting to faith after years, if not a lifetime, of rather casual attitudes toward God, the Church, the Bible, and Jesus himself. Their conversions seemed as authentic as could be, with newfound excitement to learn about God’s word, develop lifestyles as believers, and reform their views of the world and their families. It was exciting.

But then something happened. Some of these people started showing up to church with really weird views and even stranger questions. An inordinate amount of interest in the Book of Revelation and Daniel seemed to be a common thread. Where were they getting this stuff? I was the only pastor they had ever had, provided the only teaching they had sat under in a church context.

Some took this even further and started to become quite judgmental of others who didn’t believe as they believed about all kinds of things. Questions concerning the rapture and demon possession arose. It was causing quite a stir. I was befuddled. What was I doing wrong? It caused me no small amount of insecurity and sleepless nights.

But it didn’t take extraordinary investigative skills to discover that Christian Radio, TV, and Christian Bookstores were not my friend as a pastor. With the sincerest of motives, many of these new converts were simply looking to learn more about their faith and tuning into things to enrich their Christian growth. Books with pretty covers and enticing titles were bought from the local Christian bookseller to supplement what they were getting from their local church.

So this young pastor embarked upon a journey to teach discernment to my congregation. Not everything with cover and the name of Jesus is true. Not everyone with a microphone and title in front of their name is worth listening to.

So how are we to know? How do Christian books get into print? What’s the real story? Today we have one eminently qualified to give us an insider's view.

Welcome, book doctor, Dr. Steve Halliday, to Church Hurts And.

Creatively Faith with Hope Harrison

What are you good at doing? I mean really good. Did math come easy for you? What about sports? Do you enjoy adding up the numbers while someone else is going out there and doing the sales? Maybe cooking, or comforting those who are hurting, or motivating the discouraged. Perhaps you are a teacher? What are your unique gifts and talents?

If you were ever involved in a church of any kind, you probably heard that God gifts people, everyone, but not all the same. He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as teachers and the list goes on. A creative God creates creative people (Imago Dei -in the image of God) and all us of getting to enjoy the creations of both. Unfortunately, some of us struggle to discover our own gifts, our own talents, and our place in this creative creation. Part of this unfortunate situation also may include unhealthy envy of those who have the more obvious gifts, forgetting something really important.

Do you know why the God of the Universe gives His creatures gifts? What is the purpose of all this diversity, beauty, and skill display? There is an answer and if it is not on the top of your mind, it may be why you struggle with knowing your own giftedness.

Here comes the answer. Why do you have unique gifts? Ephesians 4:12 & 13: “to equip the saints for works of ministry and to build up the body of Christ, 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ.”

That’s a mouthful, but it is powerful. Let me put it another way. Your giftedness is to help other people, break down divisions, and reveal the true God. That’s the job of the Church. Think we could use that today?

This show is titled “Creatively Faith.” We are going to meet an artist who pushes creativity to a new level. She is fun. She is powerful. She is full of faith, and her story can not but help to inspire. 

Welcome, Hope Harrison, to Church Hurts And.

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