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Simply Jesus Gathering Podcast
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Simply Jesus Gathering Podcast

Author: Carl Medearis

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Simply Jesus Gathering is a conversational space and growing community seeking to inspire people of all backgrounds to consider, wonder, and dialogue about the person, life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

Each episode is a talk given at a Simply Jesus Gathering.
62 Episodes
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Dick loves miracles. And he believes the world is hungry for them. He shares about miracles in his life and draws our attention to the miracle of Jesus first forgiving and then physically healing the paralytic who was lowered through the roof by his friends. Those friends, whose actions were affirmed and whose faith was commended by Jesus, literally held the ropes so their friend would receive a miracle. First responders, like those who saved Dick’s wife’s life, are rope-holders for modern miracles.
Q & A: Floyd McClung & Cheryl Bridges Johns
Q & A: Nish Weiseth & Conrad Gempf
Q & A: Andy Braner, Rick Lawrence & Kathy Maskell
Q & A: Jonathan Martin, Tamrat Layne & Jawahar Gnaniah
Q & A: Floyd McClung & Dick Foth
Q & A: Leah Kostamo & Mark Braverman 
Q & A: Idelette McVicker & Len Sweet 
Q & A: Brian Zahnd & Jonathan Martin 
Q & A: Dave Schmelzer & Lina Abujamra
Q & A: Lynne Hybels, Paul Young & Ted Dekker
A boy whose parents continually reminded him of washing hands, saying prayers, not getting germs, learning more about Jesus, eventually wondered about the importance of these two things — germs and Jesus — neither of which he could see! We can, though, see both germs and Jesus. The important thing, Jonathan suggests, is getting infected by them. In the story of the lawyer who asks Jesus what he must do to have eternal life, Jesus brought him to a different level that was not just cultural or theological. He wanted the man to be infected by Jesus, to experience his love. A love that comes from an inner makeover that changes one’s worldview, a love that comes only by grace, a love that is both contagious and dangerous.
Nish shares with us her story of becoming a mom. Through pregnancy and birth and the dark moments of postnatal depression, she reminds us of that small voice that speaks when we are at the edge, the voice that speaks when the lies are loud. It is the voice that says, “You are not alone. You are rescued. You are seen. You are valued.” And it is the voice of the one who went to find the one lost sheep when the 99 were already safe. That same Jesus who rescues us for eternity rescues us daily. He is a resurrected, alive, saving Jesus.
Mark, feeling at home in the synagogue where the Simply Jesus Gathering is taking place, reminds us of the meaning of “synagogue”: a place of assembly; and he tells the story of his becoming fully Jewish as he progressively knew more of Jesus, the best Jew. Among other incidents, this happened when he was in the Holy Land, daily walking back and forth across the dividing wall between East and West. A woman living in the heart of the conflict told him that to live with all the walls she followed Jesus, the Palestinian Jew who lived in an occupied land. When he was once asked in a Catholic church building which was his synagogue, he responded: “You’re sitting in it.” When it’s all about Jesus, what he’s doing and what he wants us to do, there is joy in the assembly place because he has brought down the walls.
God is a God of all people. And we, as the church are a “group of people who get to express what is already true for everybody.” Paul tells of how his friend Jim “bought” an atheist’s soul online for $500. For every $10, Casper, the atheist, would go one time to the church of the buyer’s choice. Paul then met Casper who told him that after having visited all those churches he was still an unbeliever, and Paul asked him some revealing questions about what he does believe. Surprisingly, perhaps, Casper showed true belief in love, life and truth, and, Paul asserts, we are all included in God’s love; though we do have the option to say no. If the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh and Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would teach us, then, though “most roads don’t go anywhere, [God] will go down any road to find you.”
Len Sweet’s children had two different experiences of studying the same bird — one dissected it, the other observed it in its live habitat. One study was objective — objectifying the specimen, the other subjective — considering the specimen as a subject. And this, Sweet challenges, is our challenge when approaching the Bible; to treat it like a subject not an object, avoiding “versitis” and getting to know the stories. Our minds process information through narratives and metaphors, not words, so as we refer only to chapter and verse we turn stories into propositions. Just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus had cognition of who Jesus was but they needed recognition, so we need to see Jesus for who he is the great metanarrative of the Bible.
Floyd McClung’s young daughter once asked him, “What does God look like?” He doesn’t look like a mean old grandpa, an exacting judge, or Santa Claus. God looks like Jesus—welcoming little children, talking to the Samaritan woman, saving the wedding feast. Floyd tells the story of throwing a birthday party for Jesus in the red light district of Amsterdam, where the party-goers brought gifts for Jesus—poems, songs, cookies. A prostitute came to the party and, without anything else to offer, offered herself as a gift to Jesus. We all have images of God in our heads, and it is a lifelong process of getting rid of the inaccurate images. Jesus wants to break into our lives, dispelling the untrue pictures of himself.
Ted Dekker shares that he has spent his life on a journey to understand his own identity and that of his father. He tells the story of a boy and his teacher walking in the Savana. Happening upon a lion and a hyena, the teacher expounds upon the infinitude of God and the smallness of evil. The boy, understanding, finally, God’s greatness, questions his own value, and the teacher tells of the first and second Adams, judgment introduced into and dispelled from the world, and the boy’s ultimate identity in the image of God.
Leah reminds us that the setting of the story is important, and that Jesus’ story was largely set in the outdoors—his birth, death, baptism, wilderness experience, his parables’ settings and objects, his time of prayer with his Father. In a story of an intern finding a rare species of fish at the environmental center where Leah lives and works, she wrestles with whether it’s weird or real that God would care for the small details of our lives and the lowliest of all creatures.
The story of two poets. One man’s beautiful epic saved another man’s life. The saved man went on to rewrite the saving story, distorting, as he did, the first poet’s character of hope, twisting her to despair. The first, deeply troubled by the loss, again rewrote the story. “When people read the rewritten version of the rewritten version of the beautiful story, they’re compelled to rewrite their own stories…And when they do this they create lives of great beauty.”
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