077 | And Then There Was Jesus

Welcome to episode 77 of The Grace Cafe Podcast. This episode is a recent conversation we had with Pooja Chilukuri. Pooja was born and raised in India and now resides in the U.S. She reached out to us several weeks ago and told us a little bit of her story and pointed us to her book, And Then There Was Jesus, which chronicles her journey out of Hinduism, into Christianity, and then to Jesus. And Then There Was Jesus is divided into 3 parts that help the reader know in advance where the story is going:

  1. There was Hinduism
  2. There Was Christianity
  3. And Then There Was Jesus

This conversation with Pooja is one of our favorites! As worded on her website, it’s her journey from India to the USA, from Hinduism to Christianity, her struggles with both religions, and a subsequent chance encounter with Jesus. She talks openly and honestly about her experiences in Hinduism and performance-based Christianity and how religious systems prevent us from knowing what God is really like. In the book’s introduction, she writes:

“If you believe that God is displeased with you at the slightest deviation from what your church or pastor preaches, and you have never been consumed by the overwhelming love of God, this book is for you.”

Our conversation with Pooja merely scratches the surface of the full story outlined in her book. Here are some helpful links to her book and for getting in touch with Pooja:

And Then There Was Jesus – on Amazon

And Then There Was Jesus – on Facebook

Pooja’s Website

-Enjoy!

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063 | Jesus Unfiltered: A Conversation with J.D. Zomer

Welcome to episode 63 of The Grace Cafe Podcast. This episode is a conversation that Susan and I had with J.D. Zomer of the Jesus Unfiltered Podcast. We came away from this podcast so encouraged by our conversation and we think you will be too. J.D. not only hosts the Jesus Unfiltered podcast but he also facilitates Religion Free Ministry in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and he shared some of the current and future details of what’s going on there. J.D. introduced us to Religion-Free Movement, an ever-increasing group of people who are finding authentic community in an environment unencumbered by institutional trappings. Religion-Free Movement is scheduled to launch in 2020. We hope you enjoy our conversation. You can find J.D. online at:

Susan and I were recently interviewed by J.D. on the Jesus Unfiltered podcast. You can listen to that episode HERE.

Please note, Susan and I are taking a much needed break from our microphones for the summer to get re-charged and refreshed. The Grace Cafe Podcast will return in September. We hope you all have a great summer and we’re grateful for each of you. 

See you in September!

—-

Photo by Cody Engel on Unsplash

059 | Coffee Shop Encounter

Welcome to episode 59 of the Grace Cafe Podcast! After a 3-week road trip to see family and friends, followed by sickness, we’re slowly climbing back into the podcast saddle. This is one of our favorite episodes from our old Known & Loved Podcast. It’s a conversation from a couple of years ago with our friends Greg and Kim about our coffee shop encounter that happened in June of 2015. We’ve known Greg and Kim for close to 30 years but hadn’t seen them for years until our random coffee shop encounter on that June day. Little did any of us know the similarities in our stories that would surface that day as we began to talk.

Here’s the full story…. Enjoy!


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058 | Chattanooga Chat

Welcome to episode 58 of The Grace Cafe Podcast! I (Mike) managed to finish editing this episode which is a conversation with two of our friends who live in Chattanooga Tennessee, USA. We hadn’t enjoyed a face-to-face conversation with Chris Stapleton (not the country musician) and Josh Scott (he’s not a country musician either) in about a year, so we got them on the line and recorded it. Yes, they knew we were recording it. Our conversation went all over the place so I’m just calling this episode Chattanooga Chat. Because self-control seemed to go out the window, we’re rating this episode E, as in not for everyone.

Grab your favorite beverage, pull up your favorite chair, and be encouraged!


Photo by Harli Marten on Unsplash

051 | Finding the Freedom to be Authentic

“While the church served its purpose, I probably was asleep for many years. And now I’m waking up to living.” –Allison Stanley

Welcome to episode 51 of The Grace Cafe Podcast! Not to be confused with Area 51. Well, there may be a few similarities. This episode is a conversation between Susan and two of our friends, Allison Stanley and Nora Shaw. Allison has been on our show twice before, in episodes 10 and 11 and Nora joined Susan on the previous episode, 50. 

The theme of freedom in last week’s episode continues in this episode as the conversation turns toward losing our own authenticity as a result of needing approval from others. The freedom to be ourselves, which is ours in Christ, is lost when we find ourselves in an environment where we compromise who we really are in order to fit in. We hide parts of our true selves for fear of losing the approval of others. This is nowhere more evident than in religious settings where the emphasis is on sameness based on one person’s or one group’s theology or doctrine.

But many of us are finding the freedom to be who we really are regardless of the opinions of others. We’re learning that fitting in is a poor substitute for belonging and true freedom is the result of being who we really are without pretense or seeking the approval of others at the expense of being who we really are. We’ve traded our authenticity for approval long enough.

-Enjoy!


Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

050 | Finding Freedom Apart From Religion: A Conversation With Nora Shaw

Welcome to episode 50 of The Grace Cafe Podcast. This episode captures Susan’s conversation with her friend Nora Shaw. Nora talks of her journey into the freedom of the gospel and some of the ways organized religion inhibits that freedom. Religion forces us to fit in while never really belonging because we can’t be our true selves there. The freedom Jesus and the New Testament writers talk about is a freedom apart from performance, religious or otherwise. Breaking away from what binds us, while sometimes painful and difficult to do, is the first step to finding the freedom to be truly free. The freedom to be yourself that comes only through Jesus, apart from religion.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:35–36)

-Enjoy!


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043 | Clash of the Covenants: A Conversation with Mike Kapler

Welcome to episode 43 of the Grace Cafe Podcast. This episode is a conversation with Michael C. Kapler about his book, Clash Of The Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee. If you’ve been around Christianity for more than a week, you’ve probably noticed the confusion that exists concerning grace and law; Old Testament and New Testament. What in the Bible applies to us this side of the cross of Christ and what does not? We see God in the Old Testament doling out 613 commands to ancient Israel with the requirement that all 613 must be obeyed perfectly all the time. In the New Testament we read things like “the Law was weak and useless” and “no one will be justified by the works of the Law.”

Add to that, the Ten Commandments and the confusion goes up exponentially. Are the Ten Commandments the “unchanging moral law” of God as at least one theological tradition would have us believe? Or maybe only eight or nine of the ten are for us today. What did Paul mean when he said, “Christ is the end of the Law for all who believe”? Are we supposed to ditch the Law in favor of something new, different, or better? If so, what becomes of the Law and what is our relationship to it? Is the Law of Moses divided into sections of civil, ceremonial, and moral and only the moral law (i.e. the Ten Commandments) applies today? If so, why did James say if we break any one of the 613 commands, we are guilty of breaking them all? Is God policing us to make sure we obey the Law? How does grace fit into this?

In my opinion, Mike’s book, Clash of the Covenants, is required reading to begin sorting out these and many, many other questions. It’s in an easy-to-read format that will draw you into the discussion. Listen in to our conversation as we talk about The Sermon on the Mount, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Old and New Covenants, and the Law of Moses, to name a few.

Since 2005, Mike Kapler, along with Joel Brueseke, have been hosting the weekly podcast, Growing in Grace. If you’re not familiar with it, do yourself a huge favor and subscribe. It is one of our favorites!

-Enjoy!


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036 | Losing Our Identity Only To Find It Again: A Conversation With Greg McInturff

Welcome to the Grace Cafe! This episode is a conversation between Mike and our good friend Greg McInturff. It’s a longer episode than what we usually post. I considered making it into two separate episodes but decided to leave it as one to preserve the continuity of our discussion. We’ve known Greg and his wife Kim for 20+ years. We lost touch with them years ago and were recently reunited only to find out we had been on the same grace journey. Our conversations are always energizing and we invite you to eaves drop on this one and be encouraged.

We talked about so many topics in this episode it’s hard to catalog them all. But here’s a few:

  • Spiritual burnout
  • Institutional Christianity
  • Our true identity
  • Experiencing Jesus
  • What it means to be righteous
  • Religious tradition and obligation
  • Fixing your eyes on Jesus
  • Confessing sin
  • Our expectations of ourselves
  • The Holy Spirit in you
  • And a lot more…

-Enjoy!


Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash