Theology and the Christian life aren't as cut and dried as we sometimes think. Join Jeff Slater from Trinity UMC and Amy Slater from South Gate UMC in Lincoln, Nebraska for thoughtful, provocative, and fun conversations on some of the burning questions of theology and the life of faith.
(Thanks to the Trinity UMC worship band for the theme music!)
This is for the Metho-nerds and the Metho-curious. Jeff and Amy sit down with Meggan Macomber from Trinity UMC to talk about the nuts and bolts (and the many, many rules) of how our denomination works. Are we TOO structured? Probably. But do our rules speak volumes about how we view God and each other and how we see God working in our midst? Definitely!
This time Jeff and Amy respond to the George Floyd murder trial and the guilty verdicts for Derek Chauvin. Justice is an essential part of faith, helping order the world closer to what God intends. So how is a Christian to respond, especially white Christians whose life experience can't fully understand how the African American community sees this? Listen, and join in the discussion!
Also, here's a link to the book Amy mentions:
...and to the song that Jeff brings up:
Suicide is already a problem in our society and there are signs the pandemic has made it worse. What should a Christian believe? And, just as importantly, what can we do to open dialogue with the people we encounter to help prevent it?
As Jeff & Amy say in this episode, one of the best things you can do is to put the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in your phone. Don't try to memorize it, don't plan on just googling it if you ever need it. Add it as a contact, now, while you're thinking about it. It might not be your life it saves, it may be for someone you haven't even met yet. Here it is:
1-800-273-8255 - suicidepreventionlifeline.org
As COVID vaccinations spread through society, reactions range from great hope and liberation to... well... more complex emotions. One common one for younger recipients especially is a fear that someone else might need the precious shot more than them. In this episode, Jeff and Amy dive into ethics, asking how a Christian should respond to the vaccine, to these complicated questions, and how we should move forward when even more difficult issues face our re-opening society.
Join Jeff and Amy, two Pastors, talk about where they are mentally and spiritually after the most hectic week in the United States Government any of us have ever lived through. It's not only cathartic, but might even offer you some hope.
This episode tackles a big topic: where do we draw the line between inclusion and intollerance? When do we "agree to disagree" and when does it become complicity in sin? Warning: you won't find any easy answers here. But perhaps Jeff and Amy come up with a few tactics to help walk the fine line.
Christmas traditions are incredibly varied from place to place, even from family to family. Yet most still point to greater truth. Join Jeff and Amy for a conversation that involves a surprising amount of lighting things on fire-- or almost, anyway!
A surprising number of Christmas traditions have uncertain (and even unexpected) roots. For instance, ever wonder why we celebrate on December 25? The answer has nothing to do with Jesus' actual brith, but it DOES reveal something beautiful about what happened that night! Join Jeff and Amy as they discuss the "big, church-y" (their words) traditions around Christmas!
This week Jeff and Amy answer a question about giving. It's not so easy to talk about money, probably because it is closely tied to our sense of wellbeing and carries way more emotional baggage than we usually realize. But giving is at the heart of being a whole person! And if you do it right, it comes from-- and reinforces-- a place of deep gratitude.
From the scholarly to the deceptively simple! This week Jeff and Amy share their favorite children's books. You may be surprised at the depth of the Holy Spirit even in children's books you hadn't thought of as spiritual!
This week we answer a question from a church member: what's the deal with the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" in the Genesis creation story? How are we to take that? Did God not want us to know? What's going on there? Jeff and Amy revert into full seminary-student mode to search for the answer, or at least for more questions!
This week Amy asks the questions to Jeff-- she thinks his new project on hope deserves some attention. So, listen in to hear about Jeff's research on hope. Then, check out his new blog looking to make what he's learned about hope accessible to everyone! You can find it at https://www.practicalhope.net
So much of life is spent in the hallway-- no longer in one room but not yet in the next. This week is part two of the conversation with special guest Brenda Hogan and she, Jeff, and Amy talk about what the wise call "liminal" times. Spoiler alert: it's the perfect place to find true companionship with other people and with God.
Ever disagreed with something you read about God? Good!
This week Jeff and Amy have a special guest: an old friend who is now a new pastor and seminary student, Brenda Hogan. Brenda had just such a moment in one of her classes about the nature of the so-called "second coming." Join the conversation!
Jesus says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. As of this recording, we've all had complex emotions and thoughts with President Trump in the hospital. So what does it mean to pray for someone with whom you disagree, who's recklessness has surely caused death from COVID in this case? This week we take on the question and end up with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Join in!
So much is made about this idea of "hell," but when you study the Bible closely the common ideas don't hold up. More than that, though, the idea of hell as "eternal damnnation" is fundamentally harmful to your view of who God is. This week Jeff and Amy scratch the surface of the Biblical arguments but more importantly show why a healthier view of the afterlife can lead us all to something better.
Is it wrong to disagree with parts of the Bible? Scripture is a sacred document and truly a revelation of God. But how do we make sense of the terrible things that part of that too? The short answer is that the Bible is the story of people who got it wrong just as often as we do ourselves, and we can find God in their struggle as well as our own. The long answer? Listen in!
This week Jeff and Amy talk about protesting. It's a big topic right now as protests continue in many parts of our nation. But this conversation focuses on a story from a couple of years ago, so perhaps the distance will help us see more clearly. At issue is the question of ethics: when is political action helpful and when does it cross a line to cause more harm than good?
This week the podcast has a new name and an expanded audience. Welcome to "Jeff & Amy At the Well!" Jeff Slater is the pastor of Trinity United Methodist and Amy is Pastor of South Gate UMC in Lincoln, Nebraska. Get to know them both by way of their "call stories." Pastors always seem to have a story of God calling them, but the real truth is that they're just more practiced at talking about it. We are ALL called, though rarely do our journeys look the same. Listen in and use the links below to share your story with us!
It's embedded in our songs, our cultural understanding, and encoded in the text of our faith. But what is the deal with the cross and the death of Jesus? Did Jesus really have to die? And did God really orchestrate that - demand it even? Tune in to hear Pastor Jeff and Jodi-Renee talk about they "why" of the cross and tackle the question "Did God really kill Jesus?"
Be sure to check out Jeremy Miller's fabulous overview of Atonement Theory at Hacking Christianity: Primer on Atonement Theories
JR's recommended reading on the topic: Tony Jones' book "Did God Kill Jesus? Searching for Love in History's Most Famous Execution.
Additional music by Mark Fosson. Used under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.
Following up to last week's episodes on "what about demons" - Pastor Jeff and Jodi-Renee dive in to the second part of the question that came from Sharla: what about ghosts? And haunted houses? Be they spooky or nostalgic, we all have an interesting relationship with the other side. Does this have room in Christian theology? Maybe more than you think...listen in to find out!
Do you have a ghost story? Or a haunted space story? Tell us in the comments!
Additional music by Monplaisir, licensed under a Creative Commons CC-0 license.
And special thanks again to Greg Simon who takes on the very creative editing on this podcast. (And yes, we know it wasn't Steven Spielberg who did Star Wars. Sorry, Mr. Lucas!)
Do you love movies like the Exorcist? How about Paranormal Activity? Well, even if you don't (that would be Jodi-Renee), demons and the personification of evil have long been a part of the Christian story. This week, a listener asked Pastor Jeff and Jodi-Renee about their thoughts on demons - the kind of Biblical lore and the kind that evoke images of pea soup. We want to hear your thoughts and stories about demons! Share with us in the comments here or write to us at email@example.com
Additional music at the outro by the Waco Brothers, licensed under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0.
Additional music provided by Fesliyan Studios. More info at fesliyanstudios.com.
Pastor Jeff had his own question for the podcast this week. In the midst of all that's going on the world and in our own communities, important questions are rising to the surface. And in the places that it intersects with faith, things can get really murky and interesting. This week, Pastor Jeff posed the question "Does everyone have free will?" - more specifically does everyone have the fullness of free will in the same way? Or do things like poverty, systemic injustice, and generational trauma affect our choices? Tune in to hear more on this interesting and important topic.
You can always send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you!
If you'd like to find out more about the ACE test, you can take the test and learn more at npr. org and the CDC website:
Take the ACE Quiz and Learn What it Does and Doesn't Mean - NPR
CDC's ACE Study Website - with preventative resources
Pastor Jeff mentioned the podcast featuring Father Greg Boyle. Check it out here! Managing Leadership Anxiety: Yours and Theirs
Father Boyle presented a Ted Talk on Compassion and Kinship. You can watch it here.
As usual, thanks to Greg Simon for the production of this week's podcast. Send us your thoughts and questions!
A listener sent in a question on one of Jodi-Renee's favorite topics to talk about: The Enneagram! The question: Is the Enneagram a useful tool for spirituality? And Pastor Jeff and Jodi-Renee had to ask "is any personality test good for spiritual development?" In a world where you can take an online quiz to discover what kind of cheese you are or the color of your aura, how do we approach personality and the soul?
Want to discover your Enneagram type? Take the free test here: https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/dotest
Jodi-Renee's reading rec for this episode: The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron
Outro music: “The Way I Roll” by Expendable Friend, licensed free under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
If you really need to know what cheese you are, you can find that quiz here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/ksbrsig/what-brand-of-cheese-are-you-ej0m725qi5
It's another interesting week here in the offices at Trinity UMC in Lincoln. This weeks questions seemed to tag team in the most thoughtful way. Pastor Jeff and Jodi-Renee ruminate on the idea of prayer -- if it works, what is it, how do we do it which led to question two: the use of hallucinogenics in spiritual practice. You definitely don't want to miss this week's episode of Ask Pastor Jeff Anything!
We're going for the big questions now! Sara wrote in to ask about sin: what is it? We don't really talk about it in the mainline churches and we never stop talking about it low-church and congregational circles. So what's up with it? Pastor Jeff and Jodi-Renee start to unpack the top layers of this question in this episode of Ask Pastor Jeff Anything.
Thanks for Dr. Greg Simon for providing the "Bringin' in the Sheaths" revival tune as well as editing and producing our eccentric and excited thoughts.
We'd love to hear your response! Join the conversation here or over on Facebook!
This week's question was timely and an interesting topic for all of us. In light of so many things going on the world and the Church's reputation for being both a force of good and of ill, what is the role the Church should take in political stance and action? Listen in as Pastor Jeff and Jodi-Renee cram in a lot of thought into their thirty minute conversation on this provocative and important topic.
This week, Niki sent in a great question about reincarnation and really digging down to this: Can I believe in more than one path to God and still call myself a Christian? Pastor Jeff and Jodi-Renee dove right in and had some interesting (and sometimes humorous) conversation on these two connected topics.
As usual, we want to thank the TUMC worship band for the bumper music and Dr. Greg Simon for his editing and production.
If you're curious to explore more about this topic, check out one of JR's favorite writers on the topic: David Bentley Hart. You can find her favorite book of his on this topic here: That All Shall Be Saved
Make sure to send us your questions! email@example.com
Episode 5 is here with a question from Mary Jo: why do Catholics pray for the dead? We also meandered down the theological thought trail of "why do Catholics pray to the dead?" With a quick virtual drop in from the wise and thoughtful (also known as Pastor Jeff's spiritual director) Dr. Philip St. Romain, Pr. Jeff and Jodi-Renee get their own preconceptions and worldviews challenged and expanded in this episode of Ask Pastor Jeff Anything.
You can find out more about the writings and spiritual direction work of Phil St. Romain at his website: Shalom Place
Pastor Jeff brings his own question to the table in this episode of APJA. With so many stories in culture about miracles, healings, and supernatural events sparked by the Holy Spirit, where are we seeing the wind blow in our corner of the world? In our church? And what does it even look like? Tune in to hear Pastor Jeff and Jodi-Renee talk about this quiet member of the Trinity.
Can you just choose to be happy? And what if you live with major depressive disorder? In this episode of APJA, Pastor Jeff and Jodi-Renee get personal with their stories and talk about what it really means to choose your attitude.
If you or a loved one are living with depression and you need support, we can help you get in touch with resources and mental health professionals. If you feel you're experiencing a mental health crisis, we hope you'll call CenterPointe's 24/7 line at 402.475.6695
Music by the Trinity Worship Band
Produced by Greg Simon
In Episode 2 of Ask Pastor Jeff Anything, Pastor Jeff and Jodi-Renee knock around two perspectives on a burning question - If God has a plan for everyone's life, why do some people suffer and others...not so much? With some insights into how we approach the Bible and two very different life stories to bear witness, tune in and tell us how this conversation affects your understanding of that question.
Welcome to the first episode of Ask Pastor Jeff Anything! In this kick-off conversation, Pastor Jeff and his ministry sidekick Jodi-Renee talk about the massive upheaval to church, culture, and life as we know it that seems to happen every 500 years. And guess who's due....