Ep. 102: Voices of 2017 (on the Bible, anxiety, and more)
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As we wrap up 2017, we wanted to find some of the best clips of different conversations from the year. Topics ranging from Bible reading, sexuality, pornography, anxiety, and hell are touched on. You might call this episode an “audio commentary” on some interesting and important quotes from a variety of people on a variety of topics. Enjoy this year-end episode as we hear from Tim Mackie, David Mathis, Peter Krol, Dr. John Neufeld, Chris McKenna, Brad Hambrick, and Evan Koons.
Hey, welcome to indoubt! My name is Isaac, the host of the show. And today is Christmas, so, Merry Christmas. Or maybe you’re listening in later on in the week, perhaps on the radio, well, Happy New Years then! That’s fast approaching.
If you’re new to indoubt and don’t know who we are, we are a non-profit that seeks to bring the gospel to relevant issues of life and faith, cultivating conversation. We do this primarily through a weekly radio/podcast program, the one you’re hearing, that features a leading Christian guest. I pretty much ask questions to our guest and they give me the answer! Our ministry is unashamedly biblical, so all our guests are going to give strong Christian applications to some of the topics we discuss.
We’re much more than a weekly audio program, however. We also write articles online about faith and culture, we write little blogs called “newsfeeds.” A Newsfeed is a more spontaneous blog that summarizes very simply a current event in the world, and then tries to help the reader think biblically about it. We can so often think that a news event is just political, or just physical – but the reality is, is that they’re also theological. We also write, film, produce, and publish Bible studies for individuals and groups. Our latest that came out earlier this year was on the book of Jude, it was called JUDE: For the Faith. And we also do live events that sort of mimic a TED talk, in a sense. The idea is to pick a subject, have three speakers give a 15 minute presentation on the subject, and then have a live question and answer period with the speakers. Last year we did one on Sexual Identity – it turned out to be a really great experience. We exceeded occupation and people just enjoyed the evening. In a couple months, actually, we’ll be hosting our second live event on the subject of Marijuana – lot’s of fun there. We have some great speakers coming which I’m really excited to hear from.
Anyways, I hope you can see that indoubt as a ministry is alive and moving. We really want to help bring the gospel and its truths to the issues of our day so that we may know how to live well in the midst of our ever-crazy culture.
Anyways, next up, I’ll be taking you through some of the best conversations we had this past year – almost like a round-up of 2017. I’ll be bringing up tons of different topics, some of which aren’t related whatsoever to each other, and then listening to some clips from others. If you’re new to indoubt, this will be a great episode for you to get a glimpse of what we do – although normally each week it’s me chatting with a guest. If you’re a faithful indoubt listener, enjoy this episode as a way of reminder of where we’ve been in 2017.
The first episode I want to reminisce about is actually the first episode of 2017, “Episode 051: Why Study the Bible?,” it also happened to be the most listened to episode, ever. So make sure to go check that out – there’s a reason for it’s popularity! It featured a popular Bible teacher, especially amongst younger people – Tim Mackie, who’s known primarily for his work with The Bible Project (which is an awesome organization, btw).
Anyways, I called Tim to ask him if he wanted to chat with me about the Bible. He agreed! One of the questions I asked him was this: If a Christian knows the Bible, generally, like, they get the main plot points, then why do they have to keep going back to the Bible to read and meditate and study and so on. This is what he said:
Well, I’d bring it back to Jesus. If you devoted your life to follow someone and if you’re trying to bring every part of your life to become consistent with their teachings, who they were and what they were all about, you’re not going to just read about them and their teachings one time, you know?
If you’re going to follow Jesus you need to immerse yourself in His story, the stories about Him and His teaching.
So that, in and of itself, gets you into a big section of the Bible. If I follow someone as the most important person, I’m probably going to memorize some of their most important teachings. I’m probably going to try and return to them time and again so that I know my way around them for when I come across things in life. Take relational conflict. “Okay, what did Jesus say about forgiveness? Back to Matthew 18.” So that’s just one thing. If you follow Jesus, it just makes all the sense in the world that you would make the stories and His teachings like a staple diet in your life.
So good. If you call yourself a Christian, which means a follower of Jesus, it only makes sense that you’d immerse yourself in His teachings – and not only His teachings, but what He deemed as Scripture, like the entire OT. We need to read, meditate, and study the Bible. In fact, later on in “Episode 062: Who are You Listening To?,” I was talking with Executive Editor of DesiringGod, David Mathis. DesiringGod is the ministry that John Piper started up years ago. Anyways, when considering the many voices in our world and the importance of reading and studying the Bible, this is what David said to me:
There has perhaps never been a more important time for us to be people who bore into what God has made clear in the Scriptures and to linger over how God is communicating to us about Himself, about His Son, about the Gospel, about His Spirit, about us, about our world, because as more and more information has become available, people are accessing much more information, but at a very surface level.
There’s this constant competition for our awareness, for our consciousness, for our focus. And when you’re just scrolling quickly through a Facebook timeline or through a Twitter stream, you’re picking up lots of little bits of information, they’re very much at the surface level, but where is the time when you pivot and go deep in something?
And if there’s anything you need to go deep in, it would be God’s words.
David brought up a good point. We live in such a fast-paced, quick-fact, bits-of- information world. If you’re a regular user of social media (Facebook, Twitter, IG, etc.), and this isn’t a negative thing necessarily, but if you’re a regular user of social media, you are being nurtured to just digest little bits of information. In fact, if we don’t consciously fight that, we’ll become accustomed to only accept information that’s given to us in tiny fragments. So what David is saying here is, there is no better time than now, to press pause on our constant intake of tiny bits of information, and, his words, bore into the Scriptures. The irony in it all is that – and this is so important for us young adults – the crazy, life-giving, spirit-enhancing, abundant life is not found in the tiny bits of info on Facebook, Twitter, or IG – it’s found in the Bible.
Before we move to another subject, however, I wanted to play something from another guest I had on the show. His name is Peter Krol, he’s the president of DiscipleMakers, a college and university Ministry in the states. Anyways, he’s the author of a book that helps ordinary people study the Bible. Maybe you’re listening right now and you’ve heard what Tim and David have said, and you’re encouraged to dig more into the Bible, but you feel lost in terms of actually reading and studying the Bible for yourself.
In “Episode 076,” I asked Peter about the OIA method – a method of studying the Bible that he goes into more depth with in his book, Knowable Word. Peter graciously explained this method with a good illustration:
The OIA method stands for observe, interpret, and apply. That’s the OIA. It’s a simple and straightforward method for reading the Bible. It’s not just for reading the Bible, you can apply it to anything because OIA, observe, interpret, apply, is simply a way to describe how all communication takes place. We’re just trying to codify the way communication works so we have a way to approach God’s communication to us. Let me explain what I mean.
If I met you on the street, and I said “Hey, there’s Isaac,” I might walk up to you and I’ll look you in the eye, and I’ll have certain body language and you’ll observe my eye contact, my body language, and you might observe that I stick out my right hand toward you. And then you’ll interpret that to mean that “I must know you,” and I want to greet you. And you’ll apply that, hopefully, by reaching out and taking my hand and shaking it and saying “Hello!”
So, when we observe, we’re just trying to figure out, “What does it say? What’s actually happening?” When we interpret, we’re trying to figure out, “What does it mean?” And we’re taking those observations and asking, “What do those mean?” So it builds on it. And then in application we’re figuring out, “How should I change as a result of what I’ve seen and what it means?”
Love it. So good. Anyways, let’s move on though. And by the way, this episode isn’t going to be organized nicely into 4 or 5 subjects, but we’ll be jumping all over the place.
Back in Episode 055 we played back from live question and answer moments from our Sexual Identity live event. If you want some theological and practical answers to really good questions about sexuality, go ahead and check our Episode 055 and 056. Anyways, I wanted to play back a response from Dr. John Neufeld, Bible Teacher of Back to the Bible Canada, when someone asked: “How can I respond when someone tells another person they’re going to hell because of their homosexual sin? How do I now approach that situation?” Here’s the very powerful answer from Dr. John Neufeld.
I think it’s unfortunate when any believer says to anyone: You’re going to hell. Here’s what we need to understand: We’re all going to hell. Our sins condemn every one of us – we’re deserving of it.
That’s the reality, so we shouldn’t pick out on someone and say, “Your sins will make you go to hell.” We have all sinned. You want to know the biggest sin of all? This is it: Failure to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. That condemns us out rightly. So stop talking that way if you do.
I just had to put that quote in there because it’s just too good. Sometimes we have a certain sin in our minds that we’ve deemed to be the worst sin – maybe it is homosexuality for you, or suicide, or something of that nature. But the clear fact that Dr. John so clearly establishes here is that failure to love God with everything that we are is the worst sin. As we head into the New Year, guys, let’s not make any other sin besides the failure to love with everything the “big one.” It’s just not healthy to do that whatsoever.
Speaking of sexuality, we also tackled a subject that is hard to sometimes talk about. We never want to shy away from the tough topics – it’s usually the tough topics that most people are in doubt about, so, for the sake of the purpose of this ministry, we must tackle them! In Episode 078 we talked with Covenant Eyes speaker and author, Chris McKenna, on the subject of pornography – the fact that it’s still a huge issue today. I asked Chris straight up just to hear the statistics again, so that we might remember the weight of this issue. This is what Chris said:
The numbers are just staggering. When you just look online- I’ll give you one example. The largest pornographic website, on the world wide web, is owned by the same parent company. If you were to go their site, they would look like a very innocent, SEO/IT company. But they are a private organization that privately owns every large pornography website on the world wide web. Every year they publish statistics, much like a public organization in the United States would publish an annual report on their business operations, they publish an annual report of porn consumption.
For the year 2016, there were over 4,500 centuries of time watching pornography. That’s over 4 billion hours. So you think as you break that down into centuries, that’s over 4,000 centuries of time spent watching porn. Right? So the numbers are mind-boggling for one website for one year, that human beings are consuming an unbelievably large amount of pornography.
And so, we find that more and more it’s young people that 41% of teenagers who would say they have strong faith periodically look at pornography, that’s multiple times a month. 1 in 7 women, adult women, would say that they view pornography at least once a month.
And so, you know, the numbers are just one side of it. We know that there is a human being attached to every single one of those, and all the stats just point to the fact that, “We need to do something, this is a growing concern at all levels, all the way down to young people.”
It’s crazy. I’m so thankful for Covenant Eyes and other like-minded ministries that are working towards abolishing this slavery – which it really is slavery on so many levels. If you want to hear more about this and hear about what Chris is doing, go ahead and listen to “Episode 078: The (Still) Important Issue of Pornography.”
I wanted to play a clip from a 2-week series we did earlier this fall at the beginning of September. I got to chatting with a Christian counselor named Brad Hambrick. We talked about the difficult subject of mental health, and then went deeper into anxiety and depression. I asked him about what we should do if someone comes to us and says that they have anxiety. How should we respond? Here’s what Brad had to say – it’s a little longer, but it’s totally worth it:
When somebody says, “I’m experiencing anxiety. I’m really anxious. I have anxiety.” I don’t mean this in a simplistic way, but, we have no idea what they mean. At that point, assumptions are not our friend. What we want to do is we want to ask, “What’s that look like? Is this something that’s been longstanding? Can you point to some key events in your life?” Because it may be that they have final exams next week and they are pressing for some tests. It may be that their parents are going through a divorce and there is great uncertainty about what’s going on in the next stage of their life.
Sometimes what I find is that anxious people are really, really sweet people. That the ability to empathize and place themselves in the life of another is real. So if we just take, for instance, two people are out, they’re getting dinner together, one of them steps away, they say they’re going to the restroom and their friend who is left at the table, it’s two minutes, it’s five minutes, and they begin to think: “What’s going on with my friend? Are they okay? Did they get a phone call? Did I offend them? Did they get food poisoning?” That constellation of thought. If I ask you, is that compassion or is that anxiety? The answer really is both. Even at the neurological level. The differentiation between those experiences is the same neurobiological cocktail.
We just place a different meaning on it. If that person is somebody that we really like and we appreciate their concern, we call them sweet and compassionate. If they don’t, and they kind of get on our nerves and we kind of feel like it’s over bearing or they do this too much, then we go, “No that’s anxious. That’s not compassion.”
Just like dispositionally, there are some people who are just naturally nice. And some people have to work at being nice. There are some people who are naturally anxious and just the degree of certainty that they want and how much information they feel like they need to have confidence in a decision, well we all have different degrees of risk adverseness.
When our friend says, “I’m struggling with anxiety.” We should assume nothing and we should ask caring, compassionate questions. The direction that we want to go with them is, “What does it look like for you to honour God by stewarding all of your life well?” We’re going to have to get to know them in their circumstance.
Earlier in our conversation we talked about the fact that when it comes to mental illness, anxiety and depression seem to be most widespread. So the facts and practical advice that Brad gives here is so important.
Speaking of anxiety, back in September we wrote an article talking about anxiety, and I wanted to share with you a few findings that I hope will encourage those of us who may struggle with seemingly uncontrollable anxiety and depression. Especially around this time of year, it can be difficult.
Anyways, listen to this: Paul and Jesus faced anxiety. Paul writes in Philippians 2:28 to the church in Philippi, “I am the more eager to send Epaphroditus, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious.” Again in 2 Corinthians 11:28 Paul writes, “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” Even though Paul preached against anxiety (Philippians 4:6), he still had to deal with it.
But what about Jesus? Did He ever have a deep and distressing concern for something, to the point where His physical, mental or emotional health was irregular? Y es.
This is so interesting: In three of the four gospels, we’re told of how Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane during the night of His betrayal. Jesus knew what was coming. He knew what the Father had planned for Him – the physical and spiritual agony He was to endure. He began to feel anxious.
And this is how He’s described at this time:
- “…he began to be sorrowful and troubled…” (Matthew 26:38)
- “…[he] began to be greatly distressed and troubled.” (Mark 14:33)
- “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
Jesus was not experiencing mere “worry” or “tension,” but a deep distress for what lied before Him. If you want to read the whole article on anxiety, simply head to our site and find it under “Articles.”
Now, to move on to something a little different, podcasting doesn’t come without its funny moments. One of those funny moments came in Episode 060, which was a conversation I had with actor Evan Koons. First of all, side note, I’m a sucker when it comes to funny people. I can hardly sit still when someone I find funny is in the room. Evan and I talked about cultural engagement. It was a really fun conversation, but one part of the conversation was so awkward. Looking back at it now, I can only laugh.
The context is this: Evan Koons is in a movie coming out, it’s called Camp Manna – I really want to see it. Still not out, unfortunately. Anyways, he was talking about it in our conversation, and he mentioned the actor Gary Busey. Okay, I had never heard of Gary Busey. And that whole interaction is so awkward – let me enlighten you if you hadn’t heard it:
It’s a feature film about an atheist kid who is sent to a backwoods Christian summer camp where Gary Busey is the runner of the camp, I don’t know if you know who Gary Busey is.
I do not.
He was on the Apprentice. If you saw the Amazon Fire commercials, he was the guy trying to stick the shells in the television.
I’ll have to go look that up after, for sure.
He’s been in several- he’s usually the bad guy or crazy guy. If you’ve seen Blacksheep, have you seen Blacksheep?
You know what? I haven’t.
You’re supposed to be engaging culture my friend!
Oh my goodness, Canadians. We need to get with this. [No, not Canadians, this is just me!]
How about Pointbreak? Not the new one, the old one with Patrick Swayze?
Evan, I’m so sorry.
Oh my gosh! You’re killing me right now. A lot of people confuse him for Nick Nolte. When you see him you’ll be like, “Oh that guy!”
You know what? I’m going to IMDB him right after this, okay?
Yep, do it right now. I’m going to wait. And we’re going to edit this, and you’re going to be like, “Oh yeah!” Because I’m saving you right now.
Yes, you’re saving me right now. Busey right? B-U…
My audio engineer just said that he’s embarrassed that I don’t know who he is. I totally know this guy, yep! Lethal Weapon, Predator…
Some cult movies. So, let’s play this again, and you can play this however you want, I really don’t care.
I think we need to keep this.
Yeah, this is great! But I will say, Gary Busey, and you’ll be like, “Dude I love that guy!” Then you say, “Man, I want to see this movie! It sounds like it will be a blast!”
Camp Manna? Yes, please!
Okay, two apologies! 1) sorry for throwing all of Canada under the bus, and 2) I still didn’t know who Gary Busey was – I totally lied to you Evan! I mean, his face looks familiar, but I totally was still confused. Oh man. Anyways, time flies and we already need to wrap this up.
Anyways, you should totally connect with us online throughout the week! We’re regularly on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We want to hear from you and see how you’re doing.
Well, I’m Isaac, once again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and we’ll see you next week as we have Andreas Köstenberger with us on the show to talk about truth in a culture of doubt. See ya then.