Claim Ownership


Author: Pastor A.J. Houseman

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This podcast is for millennial skeptics, regular Sunday church goers, those who have given up on church, pastors, and explorers just wanting to learn a little more about the big book. Each week Rev. A.J. Houseman and guests will talk about Bible texts from the RCL and digging deeper into aspects of the week's texts that get glossed over or totally ignored in most preaching. The Bible has a lot of parts that are racy, uncomfortable, and sometimes downright horrifying. Let's talk about it.
74 Episodes
Tamar is our first “un-ladylike” Matriarch.  She takes matters into her own hands in a scandalous sex story.  She subverts the societal norms that keep her in her place.  Join Pastor Tuhina and Pastor A.J. in this deep conversation about one of our Biblical Matriarchs and her story of scandal, betrayal, and redemption.  Find downloadable materials for your Advent study group on our website! Discussion Questions: 1. What does it mean to be “ladylike”? 2. How is this image of women oppressive? 3. How does Tamar break this mold? 4. What systems and structures are in play that cause Tamar’s situation? 5.  Pastor Tuhina says “the most vulnerable some can be is in a place a space of non-existence”, what are examples of this in our society? 6. What does it mean to fulfill what God calls us to be beyond our gender? 7. What does it mean for us to have the story of God’s people so explicit? 8. “What is often one of the biggest yearnings for people who wander?”
Christ the King Sunday seems like a long standing tradition, right? Well, it was instituted not nearly as far back in history than you may think.  In a world that is overrun with leaders who put themselves first and highest of all, here’s your quick reminder: Christ is above all.  This Sunday and it’s meaning is an invitation into God’s coming empire.  Join Pastor Jason and Pastor A.J. in this conversation about what God’s kingdom is, what is our expectation, and who is invited into this empire. We look at Matthew 25:31-46 for Sunday, November 26, 2023.  Discussion Questions: 1. What are your experiences with Christ the King Sunday? 2. What does the word “empire” make you feel? “Kingdom”? “Commonwealth”? 3. How do you interpret what Jesus asks us to do for this kingdom/empire? 4. How do you read and interpret the Bible in your life? 5. Where is the good news? Remember: next week starts out Advent Matriarch Study!  Look for materials online at
In this episode we dive into a deep conversation around complacency fueled by the prophet, Zephaniah.  When are we complacent in the church? In our lives? How is this prophet drawing us out into the world and challenging this complacency?  We chat about Zephaniah 1:7-18 for Sunday, November 19, 2023.  Discussion Questions: 1. Why is complacency bad? 2. Do you think Zephaniah’s heritage matters here?  3. What is the opposite of complacency?  4. What are we being drawn out to do? 5. How does Zephaniah teach the broadening of the family of God? 6. What does it mean to you to be “called, gathered, and sent for the sake of the world”? 7. When are we complacent in church?
Join Pastor Elise and Pastor A.J. as we read some of Paul’s mail.  1st Thessalonians is one of the earliest letters of Paul and it’s very pastoral.  The big question from this community is “what if we die before Jesus comes back? Do we still get to go to Heaven?”  Seems like a weird questions to us now, but it was a very scary reality they were living with.  Let us dive into what is our theology around death, the afterlife, and the second coming of Jesus.  This episode talks about 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 for Sunday, November 12, 2023. Discussion Questions: 1. What aspects of our faith do we struggle with and wish we had someone like Paul to write a letter to? 2. When and how did you develop your working theology around the afterlife? 3. What was the most uncomfortable part of the afterlife conversation for you? 4. How often do you talk about death in your study of the Bible? 5. What do you want to look back on your life and see? How do you get there? 6. What is the good news?
This is an introspective one.  When we look in the mirror, what are our big phylacteries and long fringes?  What do we need to take a moment to examine in ourselves as a church that Jesus may be calling out?  If Jesus were to walk in your church, what would he be upset about?  Pastor Ray and Pastor A.J. dig deep into what Jesus might be calling us out on and calling us into as people of God.  This episode is about Matthew 23:1-12 for Sunday, November 5, 2023. Discussion Questions: 1.  Do you ever suffer from “Princess Syndrome” in the church? 2.  Where do we get caught up in “teams” in our faith? 3. What are things about your church that you think Jesus would be upset about? 4. What do you think are Jesus’ expectations of us?
Get your hammers out folks, it’s reformation time!  Pastor Ralen Robinson joins us to discuss some history and theology around the Protestant Reformation and it’s roots.  We name some historical roots to the Reformation other than Martin Luther and we dive into what it means to be a continually reforming church.  This episode discusses Romans 3:19-28 for Reformation Sunday 2023. Discussion Questions: 1. What can you recall about how you have been taught about the Reformation? 2. What does Pastor Ralen’s stained glass imagery draw to mind for you? 3. What does it mean to be a “reformation church”? 4. How do you see justice and righteousness tied together? 5. What are the gifts of the Reformation that you see in the church?   Additional Notes: Interview with Dr. David Daniels discussing the African roots of the Reformation:
Render unto Cesar what is Cesar's.... How many times have we heard this? Well what does it really mean? What does it not mean? How has this shaped how we view the separation (or not) of church and state in the United States? Join Pastor Brad and Pastor A.J. in this conversation about the Gospel Lesson, Matthew 22:15-22, for Sunday, October 22, 2023. Discussion Questions: 1. What is your theology around paying taxes? 2. Give to Cesar what is Cesar’s… How have you heard this used before? 3. And give to God what is God’s… How have you heard this used before? 4. How does it change the meaning to hear “Cesar’s likeness” and “God’s likeness”? 5. How do you view our relation of “church and state”? 6. What does it mean to render what is God’s to God mean to you after this conversation? 7. What is the Good News?
Jesus is hot and hangry, strong-arming his way into the temple again. The church leaders are not having it today, a verbal scuffle breaks out and so, like he does, Jesus argues with another parable. Join Fr. Will Berry and Pastor A.J. as they discuss this brazen argument, the violent parable, and ultimately, the care God shows to even the "wicked" ones. This episode discusses Matthew 21:33-46 for Sunday, October 8th, 2023. Discussion Questions: 1. What are your thoughts on supersessionism? 2. How do you explain your faith? Is it at the expense of others? 3.  What do you think Jesus is calling us (and the audience) to do in caring for God’s vineyard? 4. What does it mean to you how the vineyard owner takes care of the tenants? 5. Why is the radical welcome of Jesus so dangerous? 6. Where is the Good News?
We meet up with Jesus again arguing with the authorities.  Who gives authority? What is good authority?  Jesus seemingly has an 8th grade argument and tells them to get at the back of the line for recess.  Deacon Julie and I dive into a tough conversation around authority, sacrifice, and atonement for the gospel lesson, Matthew 21:23-32, for Sunday, October 1st, 2023. Discussion Questions 1. Where have you struggled with institutional authority in your life? 2. What does Jesus say about authority? (here or other places too) 3. “We often sacrifice the most vulnerable people on the altar of unity” - Bp. Bill Gohl.  Discuss Bp. Gohl’s words, who do we sacrifice for “Christian Unity”? 4. What do you think it means to be a “Good Christian”? 5. What does it mean to you that we are simultaneously saint and sinner? 6. Have you spent a lot of time thinking about: did Jesus have to die? What atonement theories do you understand best? 7. What is the Good News?
A book of the Bible we’ve all heard about but not ever usually on a Sunday is the book of Jonah.  Jonah is the “anti-prophet”, who does everything in his power not to follow the will of God.  And well, God gets God’s way anyways.  This episode talks about the broader themes of the book of Jonah, its satirical qualities, the reluctant prophet, and a fish who changes gender in the story.  Dive in with Pastor Bre Roberts for this Old Testament lesson for Sunday, September 24th, 2023. Discussion Questions: 1. Does it matter to you if the book of Jonah is 100% factual or a satire? Why or why not? 2. When is God’s grace offensive? 3. When do you get angry with God? 4. What do you think about the author’s choice to change the fish’s gender? What does this tell us about the fish? 5. Where have you experienced the belly of the fish moments? What came next (when you were spit out on shore)? 6. What does this story tell us about God?
We are diving head first into the uncomfortable in this season 3 premiere! Pastor Jealaine Marple brings her wisdom to this conversation to discuss the hard stuff like all the slavery talk Jesus does, what is the difference between the cycles of abuse and forgiveness, and what Jesus is actually talking about. We talk about Matthew 18:21-35 for Sunday, September 17, 2023. This season you are invited into Bible studies, small groups, and groups of brewery buddies to listen and share together in conversations about the uncomfortable Bible! Discussion Questions: 1. What is your experience in your life with forgiveness? As a kid? 2. What kind of forgiveness do you associate with Christ? 3. What were you raised to think about money at home? In the government? 4. What would Christ-like spending and debt forgiveness look like? 5. What is your experience with the cycle of abuse and systems of oppression?  How has false forgiveness played a role? 6. Slavery and the Bible. How do you feel about the slavery language in Jesus’ parable? What has been your experience talking about slavery in church? 7. What do you think our church’s response to slavery imagery in the Bible should be? 8. Where is the Good News? Resources mentioned in the episode: LGBTQ Resource: "Walking the Bridgeless Canyon" by Kathy Baldock Race and Incarceration: "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander and "The 13th" on Netflix
Pastor Chris Schaefer is back again for this very special season finale! This episode was recorded in front of a live studio audience at the Delaware-Maryland Synod Assembly. Pastor Chris and I share with the audience some background to the story of the "almost sacrifice of Isaac". Why would God tell Abraham to do this? Isn't killing prohibited? Let's put this all in context! This episode talks about Genesis 22:1-14 for Sunday, July 2, 2023.
"I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" are words we hear Jesus say in our lesson for today. The use of these words have done much harm from theology like "I love you so much I want you to know you are wrong" to violence, hate crimes, and actual wars in the name of Christ. Pastor John and Pastor A.J. get real and deep and even a little teary as they dive into this uncomfortable speech from Jesus. Come dwell in lament with us and hear words of wisdom from Pastor John mostly in this touching episode. We look at Matthew 10:24-39 for Sunday, June 25, 2023, the 4th Sunday after Pentecost.
In this episode, Pastor A.J. talks to the newly ordained Jon Fry! Pastor Jon shares his journey to ministry and what brought him to become a pastor... *cough* *cough* me ;) And we dive into Philippians 4:13, which is a particular Bible verse that has made Pastor Jon uncomfortable throughout time. How does this verse get used? How do we use it to minimize people's suffering? Come chat with us! This episode does not follow the Revised Common Lectionary.
In this special episode, we hear the story of Drake. Drake shares his story of his journey through faith as a Pastor's Kid and what his faith and church life means to him as an adult. Drake shares about the joys and challenges of moving to a seminary campus as a kindergartener. He shares about his journey to finding his own faith at camp, meeting his wife in college, and what their young family of four is looking for in a congregation. This episode does not follow the revised common lectionary.
Pastor A.J. could talk about creation all day and for one of her favorite topics, she is joined by an amazing pastor friend, Rev. Allison Johnson. Pastor A.J. and Pastor Allison talk about the different creation stories (yes, there is more than one), what God created and how, and all the different genders. Genesis calls us into understanding that all of creation is good. The parts we like, the parts we don't (like fleas), and it is wild and wonderful. Creation is diverse, non-binary and non-homogeneous, oh and not all about humans. For those following along at church, we talk about Genesis 1:1-2:4a for Sunday, June 4, 2023.
Should women be silent in church?? This is the hardest and most uncomfortable passage for Pastor A.J. in the Bible. Pastor A.J. dives into how this passage and its conversations helped shape her calling to ministry and who she is. For this conversation we dive into 1st Timothy 2:8-15 and take head on this silencing rhetoric. We take a deep look into the society and times of first century Ephesus and maybe with what Timothy needed some help from Paul. Who is this chatty lady he is addressing? What does Paul say about women in the church elsewhere? It's a contradiction for sure.
Bad things happen in this world, where is God when they do? Should we suffer for our faith? What is a faithful response to suffering? Pastor Lauren Jenkins joins us for this uncomfortable conversation. Join us as we wrestle with these and more tough questions and hear words of wisdom from Pastor Lauren. We dive into 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11 for Sunday, May 21, 2023.
Paul is hanging out in Athens and seeing the sites, when, just like Paul does, finds himself as the center of attention talking about God. Who is this God that is unknown to them? "WELL," Paul says, "Let me tell you." In this episode, Pastor A.J. and Pastor Rebecca Boardman talk about some of the hard stuff like public profession of faith and what and how we should share it. We discuss hope, idolatry, and Bud Light. There is so much happening in our 21st century world for Christians to understand what and how we are supposed to share our faith. What kind of faith are we sharing or inviting people into? We dive into Acts 17:22-31 for Sunday, May 14, 2023.
When Jesus says "I am the way", it means you are not. This is some pretty comforting words from Jesus!  In this episode, Pastor A.J. is joined by Rev. Dave Glenn-Burns from the ThreeHouse collaborative ministries at the University of Northern Iowa.  He shares with us about the hope in Jesus' words in their inclusion, rather than in the exclusion with which they can sometimes be associated. Dave also shares a little bit about the inclusion versus exclusion conversation in the United Methodist Church from his experiences as a United Methodist minister.  We chat about John 14:1-14 for Sunday, May 7, 2023 for our lectionary listeners.
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