Paul’s Faith is Tested

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  How does Paul handle tragedy and suffering? More specifically, what does Paul do when his faith is shaken?  In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah suggests that Paul uses tragedy and suffering to shape and grow his faith.

 

Also in this episode:

 

– When our faith gets shaken

– What kind of things challenge our faith?

– How do we respond when our faith is challenged?

– Scripture of the Day: Acts 19:22

Celebrating Unforeseen Success

 The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  In a time of grief and despair, Paul receives news of unheralded success. The Thessalonian Congregation is standing firm in their convictions to follow Jesus in spite of suffering.   In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah and Curtis discuss Paul’s reaction to this good news.

 

– That’s a pleasant surprise!

– Thessalonians as Paul’s crowning achievement

– Pastoral concerns to grieving families

– What happens to those who die before Christ’s return?

–  Scripture of the Day: 1st Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 4   13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[d] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Foolishness of God

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  In his day, Paul presented a unique religious perspective; namely, to serve a crucified messiah.  Opponents would have his considered this message foolish. In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah & Curtis discuss Paul and his thoughts on the folly of his own beliefs.

 

– Wisdom and Foolishness

– Scandal of the Cross

– Why the message of a crucified messiah is difficult to sell in the 1st Century?

– What does it mean to preach Christ crucified?

– Scripture of the Day: Proverbs 10:14, Proverbs 7:22-23, Proverbs 26:11 & 1st Corinthians 1:18-25

Paul on Trial in Greece

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result. How did Paul handle the possibility of suffering for his faith in Jesus the Messiah?  In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, we examine Paul as he stands on trial in Athens.

Also in this episode:
– Ancient Greece gives us Philosophy and Democracy
– The Apostle Paul preaches Jesus in the marketplace and the synagogues
– What is natural theology?
Paul on trial at the Areopagus
– Scripture of the Day: Acts 17:16-33

Christianity as a Lifestyle

In 1966, The Monkees made famous a song entitled “I’m a believer.”  The song is a typical shallow, yet catchy love ballad.

Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer
Not a trace, of doubt in my mind
I’m in love, I’m a believer
I couldn’t leave her if I tried

Christianity, for many Evangelicals, is about being a believer.  Granted, we don’t all claim to believe in love at first sight as this song suggests; instead, we believe in a host of truths.  We believe that the Bible is inspired and authoritative.  We believe that the scriptures speak to the human condition and are relevant today.  Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  We believe that His atoning death and resurrection reconcile us to God and to one another.  These are core beliefs. Moreover, these beliefs are important.  My convictions are important to me, as yours are to you.

Beliefs, however important, are not everything.  I suggest that Christianity is not about the theological correctness of our belief system.  I wholeheartedly doubt that Christ will deny me, or anyone else, access to Eternity because we misinterpreted 1st Thessalonians 4.  It’s a good thing, too.  God knows that misinterpretation is one of my spiritual gifts. Ha!

Instead, Christianity is about the ripe old calling of Jesus who says, “Follow me!”  (Matthew 4:19)  While calling followers, Jesus did not require an A+ on a theology exam to become a disciple.  His challenge was not about believing the right things or understanding deep theological issues.  His challenge has always been about adopting a new way of living.  Christianity is a lifestyle, not merely a system of beliefs.  I hope that you are a believer in Christ, and that you affirm the core tenants of Christianity.  I also hope that you remember to adopt Christianity a part of your lifestyle, and not just a set of thoughts and beliefs.

Paul: On Mission

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  How did Paul interpret his purpose in life?  In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah explores Paul’s first missionary journey, and how his experiences helped him to grow as a disciple of Christ.

Also in this episode:

  • Calling and Vocation in church
  • What was the Apostle Paul’s purpose and mission?
  • How did the Apostle Paul come to understand his purpose?
  • The missionary Journeys of Paul
  • Which US President did not put “President” on his tombstone?

Paul Faces Conflict

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  Paul encountered conflict, not just with opponents of Christianity, but also faced obstacles within the church.  In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah acknowledge issues of conflict that plague Paul’s ministry and explores how Paul addresses said conflict.

Also in this episode:

  • Hear Micah talk about the first church he served as pastor.
  • What was the Apostle Paul’s first ministry assignment
  • How should we we address conflict in the church?
  • Challenges in Antioch
  • The role of compromise when there are disagreements
  • Scriptures of the day:  Acts 11:19-30 & Galatians 2:11-21

Paul and his Conversion

The Apostle Paul is considered a hero in the Christian faith.  He preaches the gospel, performs miracles, and suffers immense persecution as a result.  How did Paul interpret his encounter with the risen Christ?  In this Scripture & Spice Podcast episode, Micah offers insights into how Paul could have interpreted the Damascus Road experience that would forever change Paul’s life.

Also in this episode:

  • Bible characters and why it is hard to understand them
  • Why are there so many interpretations to Paul’s letters in the New Testament?
  • When did Saul become Paul?
  • Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.
  • Scripture of the Day: Acts 9:1-9

Understanding the Empty Tomb

The tomb is empty on Easter morning.  Jesus is not there, for he has risen!  How do we interpret the meaning of the empty tomb?  How did those close to Jesus understand his resurrection?   In this Episode of the Scripture and Spice Podcast, we are going to dive into ways to interpret the resurrection of Jesus and the good news of the empty tomb.

Also in this Episode:

– How do Mary Magdalene, Peter, and the Beloved Disciple react to the empty tomb?
– How does Jesus reveal himself to his followers?
– John 20:1-2

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

God’s Community

As a child my parents encouraged me to participate in a variety of sports and organizations.  Swimming lessons and t-ball, along with backyard excursions with my neighbor Brett, were some of those childhood summer activities that kept my entire family on their toes.  As I grew I continued to stay involved in a variety of organized activities.  During high school I was a state officer for the Future Business Leaders of America, played basketball for the Graves County Eagles, and even attended a foreign language festival.  Granted, my participation involved dancing the salsa because I wasn’t very good speaking Spanish.  These memorable experiences were fun for me.  However, they weren’t just fun; they were formative.

The Bible teaches that humans are made in the image of God and that we don’t do so well alone.  We are social creatures who thrive in community.  I have found community in teams and organizations during my formative years.  I spent time with people who shared common purposes and goals.  Like most teams and organizations, the church is a created community of people who share common purposes and goals.  Unlike other teams and organizations, we believe that there is something particularly special about the church.  As people of faith, we believe in a meta-narrative –a “big picture.”  We believe that there is a God and that he is working within his creation.  The scriptures give us glimpses into God’s story that include: creation, the fall, Israel, Jesus, and the church.

The church plays a critical role in God’s story.  The church is a family connected through our mutual faith in Jesus and our commitment to following Him.  Being a part of the church makes us a part of God’s redemptive story.  The church isn’t perfect.  She has made mistakes.  She fails in her responsibilities quite often.  In spite of the pain that the church has caused along the way, I maintain that Christ wants us to be active participants in church.  After all, Christ launched this community that we call church.  He gave His life for the church.  He then commissioned the church to be his hands and feet in the world.  What a joy it is to be a participant in God’s redemptive plan in the world!  What joy it brings to be involved in His Church!  I hope you share my enthusiasm, and I hope that you are committed to doing your part to aid in God’s story of redemption through your active commitment to the church.

-Micah

Lessons from the Cross

The Cross has been the symbol of Christianity for centuries.  What do we know about Crucifixion from the ancient world? How might these insights help us to understand Jesus’ death better?  In this episode of the Scripture and Spice Podcast, learn about Jesus’ death on the cross, and the political and religious implications.

Also in this Episode:

  • What typically happened to the bodies of those crucified?
  • What does archaeology teach us about the ancient practice of crucifixion?
  • What makes this specific crucifixion unusual for Pilate?
  • Scripture of the Day: Matthew 27:11-24

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”

 

Easter

Easter is without a doubt the most important day in the Christian calendar. The argument for the assembly of churchgoers hinges entirely upon the events of the first Easter morning. On that morning Jesus rose from the dead. While this is a happy ending to the narrative of Jesus of Nazareth – a wrongly accused and convicted man who suffered and died at the hands of corrupt and greedy political and religious leaders – it is only the beginning of our story. In fact, it is the new beginning for our story. Humanity’s fallen state is exposed as we see violence, oppression, and injustice all around us. Like so many people throughout history, many in our world still bear the image of Adam. The problem is that the attributes associated with this image lead to sin and death. God made humanity in his image, but our self-centered actions have distorted what was once incorruptible and immortal.

Instead of giving up on His creation, God rescued his creation. This task involved the divine entrance of God into the human existence through the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Unlike Adam, and all others in human history, Jesus perfectly embodies the image of God. Through love, compassion, mercy, and humility Jesus personifies the original intent of the human creation. Moreover, on that Easter morning, we see that Jesus has prevailed and proven Himself victorious over the forces of evil. Not only does Jesus win on Easter, but humanity wins on Easter. Our broken lives are made whole. Our wounds are healed. Our addictions no longer enslave us. Instead, those of us who follow Jesus are transformed into the true Image of God displayed in Christ. This means that we now live by the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. Now that we have been liberated through resurrection we have but one question to ask, what are we going to do now?

-Micah

Episode 26 – Rev Micah Spicer Historical Jesus – The Mission of Jesus

Your friendly neighborhood pastor, Micah Spicer, finds himself back in the hot seat answering questions about the historical Jesus.  In this episode, Micah and Curtis discuss the mission of Jesus.  How does the church perceive that mission, and how might Jesus have perceived his own mission?  Tune in to find out.

Episode 25 – Miracles in the Ministry of Jesus

Your friendly neighborhood pastor, Micah Spicer, finds himself back in the hot seat answering questions about the historical Jesus.  In this episode, Micah and Curtis discuss the role of miracles in the ministry of Jesus.

Episode 24 – Rev Micah Spicer Historical Jesus Social & Economic

Your friendly neighborhood pastor, Micah Spicer, finds himself back in the hot seat answering questions about the historical Jesus. Learn about Jesus, his family, their social and economic status, and the experiences that helped shaped the theology of the Son of God.

Jesus in his Political Context

  • How do we reconcile the belief that Jesus is 100% divine and 100% human?
  • What was religious and political life like during the time of Jesus?
  • Who are the Pharisees, Saducees, and Essenes?
  • Why should we study the humanity of Jesus and consider the context of 1st century Palestine?

 

 

A Seminary President on the Role of Seminaries Today

  • What is the relationship between theological schools and churches?
  • What is the goal of seminaries?
  • How did David Cassady, Christian Publisher and entrepreneur, become a seminary President?
  • What is BSK offering to students, churches, and communities across the country?

Dr. David Cassady, President of Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, joins Micah in this episode of Scripture & Spice. Dr. Cassady shares some thoughts on the role of seminaries and divinity schools in the life of the church and explains what BSK is intentionally doing to engage with churches and communities throughout Kentucky.

Life Lessons from Unexpected Places

The human experience is filled with new challenges at every stage.  One of my parishioners was a caregiver her entire adult life.  Shortly after she married, her husband’s brothers moved in, both with severe physical and developmental handicaps.  She cared for them, bathed, brushed, scrubbed, and fed them.

As a young married woman, homemaker, and caretaker, she took on yet another role.  She became a mother to Stephanie.  Stephanie, like her uncles, was diagnosed with similar physical and developmental handicaps.  Stephanie’s mother, Penny, spent her entire adult life taking care of those unable to take care of themselves.

By the time I met Penny, her husband and his brothers were deceased.  Faithfully she brought her daughter to church Sunday after Sunday.  Stephanie would greet me the same way every morning, “How you getting along?”  She would smirk from her wheelchair.  “I’m well, how are you today?” I would respond.

I watched Penny take care of her daughter those next few years.  Her faithfulness and determination were impressive.  One Sunday afternoon, I received a phone call from Penny that I’ll never forget.  There was panic in her voice.  “We were eating and she just stopped breathing!”  Stephanie was on her way to the hospital, by way of the ambulance, and Penny was following closely behind.  Sadly, Stephanie died that day.  She was a special person who impacted the lives of many people around her, including me.  But I’ll never forget what her mother told me after we returned to her home after the trip to the hospital.  She said with a soft voice and sad eyes, “Brother Micah, I’ve never spent the night alone before.”  I was astonished to hear this confession.  Her life story flashed through my mind.  She left her childhood home to build a life with her husband, Brent.  What dreams she might have once dreamed were quickly squashed by the reality of the needs of her husband’s brothers.  She became a caretaker.  The caretaking role she was nurturing would come in handy as she became a mother to a special needs child.  The role of caretaker consumed her life for the rest of her life, or at least up to this point.  Now she was alone.  She would need to accept this new life and the challenges that would be sure to follow.

The human experience can be summarized as a set of new challenges followed by more new challenges.  Many times, such circumstances we face are completely out of our control.  But it is up to us, no less, to face such challenges with strength and determination.  For that is how we truly measure the success of a life lived.

Micah

Becoming a Pastor in Rural America

  • What are some challenges that rural congregations face today?
  • Tell us about the challenges of moving from a youth ministry role to being a senior pastor.
  • Let’s talk about the stereotypes of pastor’s wives.
  • What is the best way to deal with conflict in the church?
  • What is the most intriguing thing you have discovered as your young time as minister.

Nehemiah: the Scripture, the Man, the Mission.

Nehemiah

  • What is the historical context of Nehemiah?
  • Tell us about the character Nehemiah.
  • What is the relationship between the Biblical books of  Ezra and Nehemiah?
  • What does the book of Nehemiah tell us about how we should live our lives today?

In this special edition of Scripture & Spice, the team travels to a beautiful, warm sanctuary, on a cold, icy day to do a live radio broadcast for church and community members stuck at home on the Lord’s Day due to harsh road conditions.

Church Planting (Introducing Purpose Church)

  • What is the process of planting a church?
  • How does a new church approach theology and core beliefs given that Purpose Church does not affiliate with a specific domination?
  • Hear Dustin’s take on the purpose of the church.
  • What do you preach on your first Sunday in the life of a church?

 

 

Visionary Leadership

I grew up attending church with my family.  I found Jesus in a church.  Moreover, I have encountered some of the nicest people on planet Earth in church.  Over the years I developed a deep love and appreciation for the church, her people, and her mission.  My love for the church led me on a path to become a pastor.  During my pastoral tenure I have become passionate about nurturing and growing the church.    This task is not without difficulty.  Given current social trends it is not surprising that so many churches are struggling to keep their doors open.  Meanwhile, such struggling churches focus almost all of their resources on surviving, thus they lose sight of their mission of service and ministry that had once been such a vital role of the church’s story.  Somewhere along the way, the church has lost its vision.

The arrival of 2019 provides the church a great opportunity to think about her future.  What dreams and goals do we have as a church?  What is it that God wants from us in the years ahead?  And how are we going to get there?  These are the kinds of questions that weren’t answered in seminary.  Being a visionary leader in the church is not a recommendation; it is a requirement!  As the Scripture says, “Where there is no prophetic vision, the people perish.”  (Proverbs 29:18)  We must hone in and commit ourselves to the church’s future.  Pray for your church, her leaders, and that the vision becomes crystal clear.  And get ready for a fun and fruitful 2019.

-Micah Spicer

Messiah in the New Testament

Matthew 1 & 2, Luke 1 & 2

  • What does the term Christ mean?  Is it the last name of Jesus of Nazareth?
  • What is the difference between “Messiah” and “Christ?”
  • Cyrus as Messiah?
  • What does it mean to say that Jesus is the Christ?
  • What do the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke tell us about Jesus?

 

Messiah in the Old Testament

Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2, 2 Samuel 7

  • What does the biblical term “messiah” mean?
  • How does the faith community evolve in their understanding of messiah?
  • Does the Old Testament hint at or predict Jesus as Messiah?
  • How does the Old Testament shape our understanding of Christ?

 

 

The Role of Preaching Today

Preaching is a historic method of delivering God’s words to God’s people.  Preachers have conveyed truth to hearers for thousands of years.  Just like all skills, crafting sermons and delivering them takes effort and practice.  In this episode of Scripture and Spice, theologian and preacher, Dwight Moody joins Micah to discuss the role of preaching in society today.

Also in this episode:

  • Dwight Moody shares his approach to preaching.
  • What is the primary role of preaching today?  Is it the same as it was in biblical times?
  • What makes a good sermon?
  • What is the most listened to sermon in the history of the world?
  • Why is preaching important?

Immaculate Conception or Virgin Birth

As we approach Christmas, I am enjoying my time spent preparing for a sermon series on Jesus’ family tree.  Each week, I examine another woman listed in Jesus’ family tree according to the genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel.  Five are mentioned: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah’s wife, and Mary.  As we read the introductory verses in the New Testament, the regular drumming pattern of a list of male names is jarred by mention of these women.  Simply put, they do not belong in a formal genealogy of the royal family.  The author purposefully injects these women into this lineage.  Strikingly, these women share a common thread – sexual promiscuity.  Tamer, a widow desperate for a child, purposely got pregnant by dressing up as a roadside prostitute and enticing her own father-in-law.  Rahab was a prostitute.  Ruth was a Moabite woman who crawled into the bed of Boaz after getting him drunk one night.  Bathsheba had an adulterous affair with King David and ended up pregnant, bringing shame on the Great King of Israel.  Mary is an unmarried teenage girl who becomes pregnant.  Such scandal!

Unlike the women whose stories are told in the Hebrew Bible, Mary becomes a focal figure in Christian theology very early in the life of the church.  The earliest creeds affirm, based on Scripture, that Jesus was “conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.”  A friend told me that he listened to his preacher deliver a sermon on his belief in the “immaculate conception.”  This friend, a biblical scholar, then had the audacity to correct the preacher by saying, “you do not believe in the ‘immaculate conception;” instead, you support the ‘virgin birth” theory.  It is easy to confuse the “immaculate conception” with the “virgin birth.”  I would like to end by sharing the distinctions with you.  The Immaculate Conception, as taught by the Roman Catholic Church, refers to the conception of Mary by her mother, not to the conception of Jesus.  This teaching holds that Mary was born without “original sin.”  Because she was without sin, she was able to give birth to Jesus in a special state of moral purity.  The “virgin birth,” on the other hand, is the belief that Mary, without a man, became pregnant through the agency of the Holy Spirit.  It refers more to the source of pregnancy than to the birth itself.

– Micah Spicer

Jesus, Justice, and the Church

What does justice look like today?  How can Christians be good neighbors?  Chris George, pastor of Smoke Rise Baptist Church, joins Micah Spicer to grapple with these practical questions for churches and people of faith.

Also in this Episode:

  • “Mine” as a naughty word.
  • How can churches address issues of economic justice in our community.
  • Scripture of the Day: The Book of Ruth, Acts 2:42-47

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

Jesus & Temple Economics

Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-22

  • What economic implications does the temple have in Israel during the lifetime of Jesus?
  • What does Jesus think about taxes and sacrifices associated with the Temple in Jerusalem?
  • Why does Jesus cleanse the temple?
  • Luke’s Gospel as good news for the poor.
  • Was Jesus a Capitalist?

Economics in Israel’s Glory Days

2 Chronicles 9:1-28

  • God establishes justice while his people are in the wilderness.  When they settle the land of Israel, do they continue to practice God’s justice?
  • A unified monarchy is established under Saul, but doesn’t last forever.
  • Solomon is a rich and wise ruler, but he is not perfect.

Economics in Egypt

Genesis 47: 13-31, Exodus, Deuteronomy

  • Joseph helps Pharaoh build an exploitative economy in Egypt
  • Given current economic trends, does Pharaoh’s economy compare to our  context?
  • How does wilderness differ from dwelling in Egypt?
  • What are ways that Christians can seek justice in spite of unfair economic practices?