We’re excited about how well our 3-month old podcast has been received. This is a special thank you for the more than 6000 downloads our podcast has received in only the first 3 months.
Here you’ll see the covers of each of the first 20 episodes. You can click it and link to our new podcast page OR go below and see our new audio courses that we think are the cat’s meow. Thank you for your support of Podcast Seminary as we help people grow in their faith and relationship with God.
Not listened to our podcast? Ever?! You must!! Go there now and see what the fuss is about!
Everybody should know what God wants to do in and through his or her life– and a big part of that is understanding Christian Discipleship. In this brief quiz, you’ll learn your level of mastery over the very basics of Christian discipleship.
There will be more said about this later…. but the Ivory Tower is a well-known ‘thing’ in Higher Education (like in seminary!). It’s a term that means ‘having to do with higher education’ and it symbolizes the lofty ideals of education and how gaining such knowledge has been, historically, not easy to do because knowledge wasn’t as easily accessible in the past.
But it signifies something different for me and Podcast Seminary. “The Ivory Tower” is a phrase I’m using to explain how Podcast Seminary wants to help people with ‘discipleship’ and it symbolizes the lofty ideal of Christian education– namely, the biblical responsibility we have of making disciples and taking them into ever-higher levels of commitment, knowledge, freedom, and victorious living.
More about that later, but the Ivory Tower will be revealed soon, and it will show and explain how Podcast Seminary wants to help you grow spiritually, and will give you a step-by-step spiritual growth strategy for personal growth, to help you become all God has made you to become! I can’t wait to share it.
OK, Now What Is “My Story?”
“My Story” is a new inspirational blog post I want to offer regularly here that tells you the inspirational story of interesting people who we’ve gotten to know and who are growing in their faith, and who are using Podcast Seminary resources to encourage their growth. I plan to share stories like mine– and theirs– and YOURS here on this blog through regular “My Story” features like this.
Has Podcast Seminary helped you? Contact Dean Freddy Cardoza and he will tell you how to share your story, and will give you the tools you need to get it ready to be shared here with others!
MY STORY… BEFORE
My story begins as a child in my first hometown of Huntsville, Tennessee. We lived in an old white farmhouse without running water right here where the trees now stand. This photo is from this year. Just take yourself back to the 1970s and that’s where it was– only gone now and grown up with trees and weeds where it used to stand. After mom remarried, we moved to a nearby town named Oneida, TN (take a look around– this image starts off not in the most beautiful part of town). We went irregularly to our original church, but not that often and I really had no understanding of faith or a relationship with God at the time.
Ultimately, I was invited to a leading church in town to hear famed football player, Reggie White, then still a college player at the University of Tennessee. He and player Willie Gault were speaking. That evening I heard the truth of the gospel, the message of God’s love, and invited Jesus into my life. For the first time, in the months to come, I started to put some of the pieces of life together.
In those days I had several people help me grow. Had it not been for people who took time and were transparent enough to encourage me to grow, I would have gone nowhere spiritually. This included people who made an indelible mark on my life, that stretched from the earliest days of my faith until college.
It all began with Judy Adkins Chitwood, who met with me and one of my best friends EVERY WEEK for two years on Saturdays, to help encourage my growth. Without Judy I’d be nowhere. Then came Paul Stith, my first youth minister. He ever so patiently helped answer the hundreds of questions I had about God and faith and life. From taking me on long road trips across the state to sharing about his family’s faith, I grew so much under his tutelage. Then came Scott Andrews, my second youth minister. He and wife Jennifer were treasures that unconditionally loved me and opened their home regularly to me and others, encouraging my growth—and remaining friends for years, even until now. Along with them came the late Pastor John Shepherd, a giant among men, who was simply “The Man,” and I’ll never exhaust my thanks for him. Them, plus very influential people like Rose West, Jack E. Lay, Allen Matthews, Dale Smith, and Tom McBroom—all of these were crucial in helping me grow spiritually. They helped disciple me. That’s what the Christian life is about! That’s the ‘point!’
My Story… Now
Today, due to the investment of those people and a few decisions of my own, I am what I am. I am approaching my 35th year as a believer—hard to believe—and I’ve sought to walk with God like I was taught in my youth and early adulthood after becoming a Christian. God’s given me enough insight and training that I want, and have a responsibility, to make disciples like those who helped me become one.
My Story…. In the Future
That’s where Podcast Seminary comes in. I understand that Podcast Seminary isn’t ‘really’ a seminary! But it’s sort of like a seminary, in that it’s meant to provide systematic and comprehensive training over a large area of discipleship content that most Christians don’t get. They don’t get it because not enough people are “making disciples.”
I believe that “being” a disciple is great—but that’s only half of it. We then have to go from “being” to “making” disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). So Podcast Seminary is a resource and set of tools I’m creating to help people grow in their faith and relationship with God.
I want to help people gain access to discipleship content that is broader and deeper, but also more condensed. I want to provide it in easy to access ways (like social media) and in more substantial ways people learn (like video, blogs, and audio). Using audio, I will create more substantial content through producing audio courses, which will be a big part of the type of teaching and training I want to provide. In time, as people discipline themselves to listen and learn to my discipleship-based podcast audio courses, they will begin to build strong, renewed minds that are comprehensively informed and systematically instructed in all the essential areas of the Christian life.
My vision is to help people become and make disciples all over the world, wherever they are, by providing these and other resources and by personally connecting to them through other things I have planned, so more people will have access to substantial, life-changing truths that I believe every Christian should be taught. That’s what discipleship and Podcast Seminary are all about.
That’s my story. And just like Judy, Paul, Scott, John, Rose, Jack, Allen, Dale, and Tom helped teach me, I hope you’ll let me be a part of teaching you to “observe everything (he) commanded” like the Great Commission commands me and us to do! Then, my prayer is that you’ll “teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Do you have a story? I want to hear about it. I am even willing to consider featuring your story on PodcastSeminary.com/blog in a future post like this one.
Connect with me through leaving a comment below or by going to the Contact page, and we’ll get started!
Red Hot: How to ‘Catch on Fire’ in Your Spiritual Life
We’ve all experienced it… Getting “stuck” spiritually, and bogging down to where your devotional life is slowed to a crawl.
A common problem in the Christian life is knowing how to build and stoke the spiritual flames deep within our souls.
In this vlog, I unpack an important secret I’ve learned from the wisdom of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:13 (especially in the NLT version of the Bible). Then I share the single most important secret to getting and staying red hot in our spiritual lives.
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The Christian life, and Christianity is general, is largely misunderstood in American and perhaps other cultures. There are many reasons, I’m sure, but I’m certain that part of it is because of caricatures assigned to it by non-adherents, and it is also due to the failure of many who profess Christ to articulate their faith with clarity AND TO LIVE their faith with integrity.
So I’m ask the question… What is the Christian life?
I am a Christian. That means I believe in Jesus Christ.
I follow Christ. I am wrapping my life and existence around the teachings of Jesus.
The Christian life is first and foremost about individual people who, in the warp and woof of life, have walked down the winnowing path of human existence and—through any number of experiences and events—come to a point in their thinking, where they realized that all was not well.
It happens in so many ways. This realization leads a person to a point where they feel drawn to God in an increasingly tangible way, and become more and more open to the possibility and—ultimately, the reality, that Jesus Christ is a living reality—an existential BEING who is capable of and interested in cultivating a relationship with each of us, and specifically ME—or, YOU, as the case may be.
And at some point, that person acknowledges the reality of God, and the truth of Christ, and commits his or her life to Jesus by surrendering to His authority.
This type of belief is sometimes called “saving faith.”It is called “Salvation” by Christians, because one is QUOTE, saved, from himself—saved from the ramifications of his or her decisions and actions that wounded their relationship to God and that violated God’s authority.
This belief is associated with a recognition of the fact that things in our lives didn’t go the way they ought to have gone—that we failed to be all we were created to be—that we often violated our consciences to recklessly pursue desires and directions that were fundamentally and diametrically opposed to that which is good. And this pursuit of vice ended up causing us to violate others, ourselves and most importantly, the God who created us in His image. And for that reason, because we have an obligation to him as our Maker—just as a child might be obligated to recognize the authority of his parent or parents, we must answer to Him for our disobedience and our loss or, perhaps better, the forfeiture of virtue.
This acknowledgment is essentially the recognition that, though we are persons of value, we are nonetheless soiled— that is, we are contaminated… and that the contamination we suffer and bear is the outcome of our own doing. We must recognize that, left unattended, that corruption will ultimately result in our undoing.
So a person in this condition calls out to God, silently or audibly—it matters not, and in the sanctuary of their hearts, their innermost beings, they admit to God that they are estranged from a right and harmonious and peaceful relationship with him—and that the reason for this is our own personal rebellion— something that could and should be rightly called “sin” meaning, disobedience toward God.
This disobedience was against God and we know that is the case because we understand and FEEL guilty and culpable for violating our conscience and, wittingly or unwittingly, have also violated the standards God articulated in his love letter to humanity—which is what the Holy Bible actually is.
So the Holy Bible provides us with the written standard of what God desires and expects, and what is required for us to live in harmony with him… and, incidentally, with others.
So the attitude of a person wanting to repair his relationship with God confesses this reality of sin and the resultant loss of inner peace and asks God to forgive him or her. What this means is that, such a person feels sorrow, contrition, regret, disappointment and even guilt for past thoughts, attitudes, and actions, and then ASKS FOR and receives forgiveness from God.. and this then INITIATES a relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ. And such a person considers Jesus his only hope for abundant living now and eternal life now and later.
And what that means is that a person who desires to be reconciled with God and to patch up his or her relationship with God and to enter into a real and actual relationship with the God of the Universe invites the one and only Son of God, Jesus Christ into his life and then begins a new life—ONE that seeks to cultivate a relationship with God.
That is what it means to become a Christian—being reconciled to God by Faith Alone through Christ Alone.
It begins with the assumption that Jesus DID come to earth.
Jesus is the most well-attested historical person from the ancient world.Historical knowledge and reference to him far exceeds that of any person of antiquity—this would include the likes of Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Plato, Socrates, or anyone else a person could think of.
When it comes to leaders of various faiths, so little is known about some religious leaders of the past that they are more legendary than historical. Not so with Jesus. In fact, to deny the existence or historicity of Christ is as intellectually dishonest as it would be to deny the holocaust—no self-respecting or legitimate person would be so brazen to do it.
So Jesus did, in fact, come to earth.
And if so… what did he come to do?
Well, the Bible teaches that Jesus was not only a regular human being coming to earth in order to restore social justice or to point to a particular deity. Indeed! No, rather Jesus came as a being who was a single person, but one with two natures—that is to say, Jesus was God Incarnate… God in the flesh. And this Jesus—the Christ (Jesus, the Messiah) was what Christians call the God-Man. He was AND IS a person, the only person, with a divine and a human nature. Fully man, fully God. Jesus was and IS God in the flesh.
One wonders, Why in the world would God come to earth? And it’s important to understand that Christianity does not teach that it was God the Father who came to earth, but that God—in His infinite and unknowable wisdom, existed eternally in the past as Father, Son and Spirit—and that these three persons COLLECTIVELY formed one God. I know, it’s hard to wrap your mind around… but Christianity and the Bible and ALL GREAT LEADERS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH THROUGHOUT HISTORY who have held a biblical view on God, have taught that God existed in that Holy Tri-unity—the Holy Trinity, Father, Word or Son, and Spirit—a united and unified Spirit Being in three non-contradictory expressions, and that this God fashioned His eternal Son, often called the Second Person of the Trinity, into the likeness of a man—meaning, God the Son, who became the Person of Jesus Christ, took on flesh—a human body—and was implanted, mysteriously and supernaturally into the womb of the Virgin, Mary, and as the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” her—NOT IMPREGNATED HER, but as He caused her, non-sexually to conceive, this Mary became pregnant without the aid of man, and began to carry the God-Man, the Christ… the MESSIAH in her womb… and That Baby, secretly the God of the Universe in human form, the one and ONLY BEGOTTEN SON of God, was ultimately born and named Yeshua… Joshua the Messiah… or what the English speaking world knows as “Jesus Christ.”
Why did the Incarnation happen? Why did God become flesh? Why was there a theological need for God to enter time? Why did this being or personage need to be fully man? Why did he need to be fully God?
Oh, there’s so much to this… more will have to be said later, no doubt, but the primary answer lies in this:
Because the Bible says in Luke chapter 19 verse 10, that Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost…. And HE DID THIS because Jesus came to RECONCILE HUMANITY WITH GOD.
In an earlier podcast I mentioned that humanity was estranged from God and that this existential lostness and brokenness of relationship was caused by sin. Meaning, that in the Garden of Eden, humanity began in innocence… but then humanity corrupted themselves through, first, being deceived treacherously, and ultimately, in willful disobedience.
This event is called The Fall of Humanity or, sometimes, the Fall of Man. And The Fall meant that the original state of innocence was now violated and that all humanity would thereafter be estranged from God due to sin.
But God sent Jesus as a MEDIATOR who would resolve that broken relationship by restoring it. A mediator is one who represents all parties involved. And Jesus became the One Mediator between God and Humanity—representing God AS GOD and representing Man AS A MAN. Hence, the God-Man. And because He was fully God and fully Man, Jesus was the only person fit to become the Messiah.
So AS A MAN, Jesus offered Himself to God, on a cross, as a blood sacrifice REPLACING AND SUPPLANTING ALL OTHER NECESSARY LIVING SACRIFICES TO GOD- ONCE AND FOR ALL—AND BECAUSE HE WAS A PERFECT MAN, He gave Himself as this offering FOR MAN… but because He was (and is) also God, this offering was accepted by God, because only God can forgive sin and save people from sin.
So, in a crude sense, Jesus came to save us from our sin— that is the CAUSE of Jesus’ coming, but the EFFECT of Jesus’ coming is reconciliation.
That Jesus, through his singular, unthinkable, unrepeatable, act of sacrifice, made the way for all people of all times and all places—to come to God and to receive forgiveness and to thereby restore their relationship with God in Christ alone through faith in Him alone.
And for a person to take advantage of that, an individual simply needs to place his or her faith in the finished work of Christ that he completed on the cross.
Of course you do. The Bible says a lot about power, after all. This includes the Power of God— both God Himself and His power lived out through people’s lives.
Then it’s important that you understand the nature of a person’s power. It may surprise you that “purity” begets personal power. Purity is moral integrity. It’s lifestyle consistency.
Interestingly, people can have a life of spiritual power even when mistakes have been made. We’ve all made them.
Of course, the fact that we’re not human doesn’t “excuse” the mistakes… it’s just to say simply that…. that we’re human. But if there’s one resource I love that speaks to the issue of power coming from personal brokenness, it has to be the amazing website, I am Second. WOW. Let that be the first website you visit… AFTER you finish reading this post!! (It can wait 3 minutes, right?)
But personal power comes from integrity. Integrity creates inner strength, which manifests itself in strong character. This ‘character’ increasingly produces unmitigated power in the life of the person possessing it– and such a person is fueled by nothing other than pure conviction.
Inner integrity manifests itself as a type of unstoppable force.
Put another way– the inner realization of a pure conscience leads to boundless personal power. So, BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT OUR HEARTS DO NOT CONDEMN US, we come to possess an absolute sense of internal integrity. This sense of personal “cleanness” instills an inner witness inside of us that creates utter liberation.
As a result of this liberation, the believer can truly (and finally) live with abandon– fearlessly, in fact. Holy Spirit Power
Ironically, instead of this liberated abandon (which SPENDS OUR ENERGY) leading to the loss of vitality and strength (the type of thing that would leave the average person burned out and burnt up), because of the power of God that is able to flow through such a person, the totally spirit-empowered believer finds himself surprisingly refurbished… moment by moment. And this experience (really… it’s more of an encounter than an experience) makes us the recipient of an ever-renewing and “just-made” or, may I say, fresh-squeezed brand of genuine Holy Spirit power.
Moreover, because of the integrity of the Spirit and the genuine honesty in the conscience of a person with a pure life, the power begotten by that pure life simply cannot be manufactured. And since few believers exhibit this type of consistent Christian living, this type of pure power is seldom seen. That’s by virtue of the fact that it cannot be produced apart from the life of Christ.
But if we will consciously and consistently submit ourselves to Him– we will be fueled by that clear conscience just mentioned… and that’s when we’ll begin to experience this unremitting surge of Supernatural Pneumatic vitality moment by amazing moment, viz., The Power of a Pure Life.
That’s a question we see in the Holy Bible, like in the life of Job, and it’s a question we ask ourselves.
It’s a question we ask, so… Ask it.
“O.K., Can God be trusted?” This question of trusting God relates to the issue of “faith.” Faith is trusting what you know; not just what you see. That’s because what we can see is limited, and we usually don’t know all the facts.
What we know, on the other hand, is everything God has shown us about Himself, His character, and His truth. And that is what is meant by “Walk by faith, not by sight.” In testament to this, the Bible’s “Job” was telling his accusing friends that the bad things that had befallen him had not made him lose his faith. In fact, he said, even if God let him die, Job was going to trust His wisdom. But watch this:
Sometimes Life Doesn’t Add Up
Job acknowledged that some of life wasn’t adding up, and that he felt the security in his relationship with God to question why these things were happening, what was going on, and even to say to God that he didn’t know what he was doing to deserve the hardships he’d been enduring.
At the end of this story, which was life in middle-age for Job, he learned that all hardships aren’t because of errors on our part. He learned that the bad things which happened were not penal(ties), but that some were just righteous suffering.
Don’t Always Equate Suffering with God’s Disfavor. That’s a mistake.
In this case, problems were something God had allowed in order to further purify an already-good man. And all this, because Job truly trusted God (in spite of the harsh treatment that season of life had dealt Job), was meant to to deepen Job’s faith and to prepare him to receive the double-blessings God was soon to provide him.
These blessings were coming and, had Job’s heart not been purified, they have changed him for the worse or made him into another person. (We’ve seen that happen to some people). By going through the lowest of lows at this time in his life, Job was soon going to be spiritually-prepared, ready, to receive enormous blessings in life. But first he had to pass the testing of his faith.
Practically speaking, what is the point?
The practical point of this verse is that God allows us to question (to argue our ways before Him) because He knows we are working with only half of the facts. But the missing facts should be replaced by faith in God’s goodness. And we should trust in God’s Character, even if He allows otherwise horrible things to happen, because He always intends it for good.
So we can question WHY and WHAT He is doing, but we should never question “THAT” He is well within His authority to do whatever it is He does.
In acknowledgement of this, Job later says “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You (God) asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.” God then blessed Job beyond his wildest dreams. The moral of the story is to trust God, no matter what, and feel free to talk to Him about what is happening and how you feel, just don’t accuse Him of wrongdoing or bad motives, or question His “right” to do what He pleases. Everything He does is meant to work out for our good (New Testament, Romans 8:28-38) and is designed to give us a better hope and future (Old Testament, Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Read this story’s exciting conclusion in Job 42:12ff.
A leading Christian thinker, Dr. Perry Downs, is known for an important but surprising quote: “Truth-telling is an act of violence.” Who knew?
Regarding violence, anyone who has ever been victimized and that has suffered the resultant trauma knows its resonant results. It is like the proverbial pebble which causes a disproportionate effect– rows of ripples that circumnavigate far from the point of impact, long after the rock has settled in the silt below.
In this sense, violence forever affects those it touches. It should not be confused with a momentary, punctiliar event… violence is the initiation of an altered and completely re-arranged reality for all those it touches, be it directly or indirectly. Violence changes people’s lives. Some of that change is painful… and some of it, ultimately, can bring redemptive meaning and hope.
Now back to the central idea– truth.
Truth-telling can be a blunt object. I’ll never forget the words of a physician to me in the winter of 2006 when my mother was ailing in a Knoxville, Tennessee hospital. “Freddy, your mother is dead.” No mastery of language could ever help me communicate the thoughts and emotions I experienced in that moment. The statement, however true, was horribly blunt. Cold. Hurtful.Awful. That shows what is meant by the violence of truth. That statement forever affected my life and the lives of so many others.
The death of my mother caused profound hurt, but as the gaping wound has slowly begun to heal, God has used it to bring ephiphanies and moments of meaning that, apparently, I would have been unable to perceive otherwise. Does that mean that mom’s passing was ‘for the best?’ I don’t know if I could ever utter such a thing– it seems inconceivable. But since death is an irrevocable and necessary evil since the Fall (Genesis 3), the meaning and insights I’ve received are at least a modest consolation. And, at least for my mom, this discussion is academic. She wouldn’t return even if given the chance. If that’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.
With these broad and sketchy ideas strewn about, I return to my original concept. The Violence of Truth.
Jesus said, “I came to bring a sword” (Matthew 10:34). The truth of God, like violence, affects everything. It impacts people to different degrees, depending on their proximity to it. The effects of truth continue on and on. Truth alters and dictates reality. And though it can be painful, once it does its important work, truth brings intuitive insights and meaning. For those reasons, however painful truth sometimes is, knowing it is better than ignorance– because only the truth can set us free.
That said, there’s a ‘sense’ in which it doesn’t always matter whether one’s fear is rational or not. That’s because even if a particular fear happens to be irrational, that doesn’t necessarily make it any less troubling. In fact, irrationality doesn’t “negate” fear in the least– and, in some cases, it can even breed terror.
In the context of this discussion, it is important to remember that fear and danger are not one and the same. Fear is an emotion. Danger, however, is an actual threat to one’s safety.
Though fear and danger should appear together (and often do), interestingly, they can also be inexplicably separated. Note that a child may be in actual danger of physical harm, but have no fear whatsoever. In addition, a grown adult may be in absolutely no danger, yet be deathly afraid.
In the case of my dear mother who passed away a years ago (February 25, 2007), there was a time prior to our losing her that she struggled with a fear of death. She (like me… and you) did not want to die. Sadly, the fact that she was a Christian believer did not assuage her insecurity, nor did it eliminate her fear of the unknown. In fact, my mother was in the condition of many Christians– she “feared” though there was no “danger.”
In Christ, my mom’s eternal fate was absolutely secure– something she now knows full well. Yet that reality and fact never calculated into spiritual peace and inner security. So though my mother’s fear did not affect her destiny, she was still emotionally imprisoned—at least for a short time. The only thing I wish is that she could have lived free from what I wish to call the “dangerless fear.”
God is Sovereign
Similarly, in spite of the fact that God is sovereign, many Christians today live in fear. And though the world sometimes presents genuine threats where fear is not completely unfounded, in light of the Omnipotent Sovereign we serve, disciples should increasingly embrace and then embody the security and confidence which is very much found in Christ. As we do, we will become powerfully emboldened and increasingly learn to live with fearless abandon. This type of courageous Christianity is the only brand of faith that is capable of pushing back the darkness and advancing the light. As such, Christians must decide whether to cave… or to be brave.