0308 - Christian Civility (w/ Trillia Newbell)

Overview: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)

How are you praying for the 2020 election? How might we as Christians prepare to speak about it with one another in a way that shows the world we are Jesus’ disciples?

In this episode, Isaac Adams and Trillia Newbell team up again to discuss the heightened political animosity and polarization that too often characterizes Christians online. Yet as Christians we are called to a love of neighbor that involves gentleness, being slow to speak, quick to hear. To bring us toward that kind of love, the Lord may need to tear down our political idols. “We will grapple to keep them,” Trillia says, “which can lead us to fight and be enraged with one another.”

We’re in a bad spot when we get online and the attacks we’re most tempted to fear are not from non-Christians but other Christians. Yet we don’t want to cling more closely to politics than we do to our brothers and sisters—because politics will fade, but our brothers and sisters will last forever.

Join us, as we pray for wisdom to discern our own speech and the voices we listen to. Join us as we pray for new rhetoric, that builds up and not tears down. After all, we’re all made in God’s image, so let’s speak to one another like it. May we speak love fluently.

Links & Show Notes:
12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Posting Something Online by Mark Dever

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Produced by Josh Deng

Special: John Onwuchekwa on Forgiveness (Genesis 45:1-8)

Overview: At the 2019 JUST Gospel Conference, John Onwuchekwa exposits one of the most puzzling and impactful stories of reconciliation in the Scriptures. Meditating on Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers, Onwuchekwa concludes that if you’re ever going to move past your past hurts, from frustration to forgiveness, you have to remember two things: 1) God’s part in your story and 2) Your place in His.

We all want to move past our pasts, particularly the pain in our pasts. The world may offer vain comforts, such as “time heals all wounds.” But the Scriptures, while not ignoring or minimizing our pain, offer a surer hope. Speaking to the bad posture our souls may have in light of our past pain, Onwuchekwa encourages us to look out and up vs. down and inward so that we might forgive as we’ve been forgiven. After all, “Nursing a grudge is like scratching chickenpox; it brings temporary relief but leaves lasting scars.” Come and be encouraged to rehearse God’s goodness more than other’s offenses because God’s plan make a lot more sense in hindsight.

Links & Show Notes: None

Quotes: (edited)

“It took God an instant to take Israel out of Egypt, but what we find is that generations later, he hasn’t gotten Egypt out of Israel.”

“Here’s how you know you’ve unsuccessfully moved on from the pain done to you in your past: Do you find yourself short with people who haven’t done that much to you?”

“You’ve got to tell your story as if God, and not your offenders or oppressors, is the ones writing it. You give too much credit to the Devil and those who have been devilish to you if you do otherwise.”

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Produced by Josh Deng

Special: Can We Be Reconciled Without Prayer?

Host: Isaac Adams

Overview: 

In this special episode, we hear Isaac’s talk from the JUST Gospel conference, which took place in Atlanta this past May, and it was hosted by The Front Porch. In this talk he answers the question, “Can we be reconciled without prayer?” Standing on Scripture, such as John 17, Isaac offers two answers: 1) No and 2) Why would we want to? Why would we want a reconciliation born of the flesh but not the Spirit?
Brothers and sisters, we wage war against Satan and his dominion.

So, if you’ve ever been tempted to think that prayer is unnecessary and weak, here are four reasons why we can and should be reconciled with prayer:

1) The Bible commands prayer
2) Church history commends prayer
3) Pastors know about prayer
4) Christians agree on prayer

Pull up a chair, c’mon up on The Front Porch and listen.

Links & Show Notes: none.

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Produced by Josh Deng

Special: United? We...Take Care of Our Babies

Host: Isaac Adams

Overview: In this episode, Isaac explains the break mid-season 3, forecasts a couple of sermons dropping on U?WP, and shares his poem of lament entitled: "Lord, I Cannot Fix this Brokenness.” Here are the lyrics:

Lord! I cannot fix this brokenness,
Within the world, a thorny mess,
Will war and sorrow win the day?
Why has your justice so delayed?

Lord! I cannot fix this brokenness,
Within our churches, we confess:
We divide o’er race and politics.
How can, in Christ, these walls exist?
Lord—forgive us for our lovelessness!

Lord! I cannot fix this brokenness,
Within my family, black our dress,
Funerals have become our name,
Our unity as Abel and Cain’s.

Lord! I cannot fix this brokenness,
Within my self—lures temptation,
Enticing me from my first love,
To sin beneath, not heav’n above.

Lord! I cannot fix this brokenness,
Of a crooked generation:
Deceiving and being deceived,
Puffed with pride, blind with unbelief

Lord! I cannot fix this brokenness,
Can you see my wretched countenance?
“Where is your God?” people exclaim;
I come, O Lord, asking the same.

Lord! I cannot fix this brokenness,
I’ve forgotten all your promises.
How can I look to you and pray,
When day is night and night is day?

Lord! I cannot fix this brokenness,
I’ve tried the horse and chariot,
My hands too weak, they lend no rest;
If their work be all—all is hopeless.

Yet this my hope You bring to mind:
Your thoughts and ways stand over mine;
What’s meant for ill, You work for good,
As when your Son hung on the wood.

So, how long, O Lord? We still but ask,
But now we pray in dust and ash,
We’ll trust your Word; we’ll watch and wait,
And fresh courage our hearts will take.

Yes, we’ll trust you for our bread today,
And find our strength in Jesus’ grace.

Yes, this my hope You bring to mind:
Your thoughts and ways tow’r over mine;
You’re doing more than I can see,
My now is not my eternity.

O, Lord! I cannot fix this brokenness,
But one offering I know You’ve blessed,
I slowly leave it on the altar now,
Lament it is, and in lament I bow.

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Produced by Josh Deng

0304 - Who Threw That Bomb? Politics, Systemic Racism, and Repentance (w/ Jemar Tisby)

Host: Isaac Adams

Overview: "As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting." (2 Corinthians 7:9)

Join Isaac Adams and Jemar Tisby as the two talk about politics, which so often combines race, religion, idolatry, and power. Still, Tisby maintains Christians are political creatures who need not shy away from politics. 

Tisby discusses the nature of systemic racism, and how it's too narrow a view to reduce racism down to personal animus. Rather than only seeing racism as outright hostility, though it is that, Tisby maintains Christians should be also concerned with anything done to bolster a racist environment (e.g. furthering racial stereotypes or imposing bigoted ideas on groups of people). This type of racism can have disastrous consequences, the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama demonstrating as much. 

If we can have a wider view of racism, we can better own up to our decisions, actions, and non-actions, all of which have implications and consequences. However, there's grace to reckon with these implications. We need not run away from politics or act as if we're merely above them. "We are political creatures," Tisby maintains. However, the grace of God which pardons us allows us to be forgiven and to pursue justice. 

Discussing the history of the black church to past Supreme Court Cases, Adams and Tisby take a number of matters to the Lord in prayer. Let's join them in doing so. 

Links & Show Notes:

Jemar referenced "Divided By Faith" in this interview. See our interview with its author here.

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Produced by Josh Deng

0303 - The Christ We Share is More Important than the Politics We Don't (w/ Mark Dever)

FYI: This episode was originally recorded August 2018. Given that we pushed season three back to 2019, we had it scheduled to release in Spring 2019.

Host: Isaac Adams and Trillia Newbell

Overview: "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." (James 1:19-20). 

In this episode, Trillia Newbell and Isaac Adams sit with Mark Dever, Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. The three of them discuss interracial dating, single-issue voting and racial divisions in churches, the American flag in worship gatherings, and other topics as they talk about the importance of understanding and remembering. 

The Lord Jesus Christ told us to take his Supper in remembrance of him (1 Cor. 11:24). As Christians, memory is no mere thing. Dever, who grew up in what was formerly a slave-hold state, speaks to why knowing history is so important. Whether it's the history of George Liele, the first American missionary, or the history of the slave trade ending in the British Empire, or the personal history of a friend, Dever maintains that, "It's very hard to have a meaningful conversation about race and American history if you've not studied much about it." 

As the last two episodes of Season 3 have taken place in Africa, "the continent of lament," as Dever refers to it—join Isaac, Trillia, and Mark as they discuss race, politics, and the local church in the United States. 

Links & Show Notes:

11:45 -- "Why do you think working hard to not oppose either party is the best gospel strategy?" 
14:00 -- Education [on race] is necessary but insufficient. 
22:30 -- The American flag in our worship gatherings? 
32:11 — Prayer

In this episode we referred to our episodes in Africa. Listen to the episode with a Zambian Pastor or a Kenyan Pastor. For more on the importance of American History in the race conversation, check out the episode with Matt Hall

Produced by Josh Deng

0302 - Not Political Correctness But What the Bible Says (w/ Ken Mbugua)

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Host: Isaac Adams

Overview: But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress. (Obadiah 12)

Join Isaac as he heads to Kenya to talk with Pastor Ken Mbugua about tribalism and its hidden faults. Kenya, along with some of its churches, has wonderful diversity as there are 42 tribes there. And every five years Kenyan pastors of multi-ethnic churches are reminded of their diversity. Why? 

Because every five years there is an election. 

Mbugua discusses the animosity between tribes such as the Luo and Kikuyu, and how confrontations and conflicts occurred over accusations of rigged elections and police brutality. "Kenya descended into an intense time," Mbugua said, reflecting on the 2017 Presidential Election. 

One tribe felt disenfranchised. Another felt confused and perhaps callous. And Mbugua discusses how he led his church through this difficult time. He explained why, "You need to do a better job convincing me of your plight," is anything but a helpful response. 

Mbugua goes on to talk about Western missionaries and how, though the Lord has used them, some have unwittingly done great harm. Nonetheless, Mbugua takes hope because "the Lord sometimes does a lot of good through us but often despite us."

Links & Show Notes:

3:45 -- The Challenges of Ethnic Diversity
9:22 -- "No one is tribalistic in Kenya"
14:20 -- Kenyan Presidential Election
20:53 -- Strength & Weakness in Addressing the Church
31:24 -- Reflections on the State of Race in America
37:00 -- Missionaries & Race
45:00 -- Prayer

1. Meet Ken Mbugua

Produced by Josh Deng

0301 - My Great-Grandfather Sold Slaves (w/ Saidi Chishimba)

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Host: Isaac Adams

Overview: "And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great." (Job 2:13)

Come hear a man reckon with the hard history of his lineage: His family sold slaves. To kick off Season 3, Isaac Adams travels through Africa to pray with and learn from African pastors about race, the local church, and politics.

In this episode, Isaac sits with Pastor Saidi Chishimba, a pastor in Zambia. Chishimba relays his family’s history through the lenses of the sovereignty of God, the complexity of sin, and the power of lament. How can God be sovereign and slavery exist? How can a man sell another man? How can a pastor smooth tribal lines even in his preaching? How can a president make an effort to break tribal lines? Zambia and the Bemba Kingdom might teach us a lesson.

As season three is about politics, race, and the local church, Chishimba offers insights on the relation between tribalism and politics. “Tribal lines…usually hinge on politics,” he suggests, as he goes on to explain the concepts of cousinship and the good that comes from integration.

While much good was discussed, Chishimba and Isaac lament the death of Isaac’s father, and Chishimba explains why silence is good medicine in Zambia. “It’s not how much you hug me or kiss me,” Chishimba says in light of someone’s death, “it’s how long you sit in silence with me.”

If you’ve ever wondered how to wrestle with individual sin vs. corporate sin, Chishimba offers a faithful model. Come pray with these two brothers, that no tribe would be more devoted to their own tribe than to Jesus.

Links & Show Notes:

5:00 – My Great Grandfather, the slave-trader
14:30 – What is “tribalism” and “cousinship”
23:20 – Tribalism & Zambian churches
30:39 – Lament: You are the Chief Mourner
38:05 – How Chishimba responded to his ancestors trading slaves
44:10 – Prayer

1. Central African Baptist College & Seminary | This is the seminary Isaac traveled to in Zambia. They’re doing great work. (Isaac may have called it Central African Bible College in the episode!) 

2. Article: “My Great-Grandfather, The Nigerian Slave Trader” | It’s striking to compare and contrast how Saidi processes the legacy of his family with the author of this piece in The New Yorker.

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Produced by Josh Deng

0300 - What's Changed & What's the Same

Host: Isaac Adams

Overview: “Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” - Samuel Chadwick

Isaac gives us an overview of Season 3 and its focuses. We say goodbye to some old friends and hello to some new. Also, we’re hiring!

Links & Show Notes:

1. Book: “If God Is For Us: The Everlasting Truth of Our Great Salvation” by Trillia Newbell

2. Karl’s website: kmagnuson.com

To learn more about United? We Pray follow us on Twitter or our website. Please consider rating the podcast on Apple Podcasts, and subscribe using your favorite podcast client to hear more!

Produced by Josh Deng