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Two Bearded Preachers

Listen as Justin Larkin and Martin Bender talk about everything without researching anything! We discuss life, ministry, and family from a uniquely Christian perspective without getting all preachy. Like the Two Bearded Preachers facebook page and follow us on Instagram @twobeardedpreachers.
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Welcome to the Two Bearded Preachers home. Here you'll find our podcast and blogs as well as a few extras you won't see anywhere else.

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Hear a sermon by Justin or Martin:

Mar 12, 2016

How can two men of God so consistently fail their children? In this short conversation Justin and Martin tell stories of spelling words and stubbed fingers where all the children in question end up in tears. You don't want to miss these tales of failure so be sure to listen and share with your friends.

Mar 8, 2016

Episode 23 is almost all pre show. Before Justin and Martin solve all the world's problems in their talking they first discuss what they are going to talk about. This is that discussion. In this episode you will hear how they both love Disney cartoons, talk to each other way too much on the phone, and listen to an excessive number of podcasts. Did we say excessive? We mean a perfectly reasonable number of podcasts. You should definitely listen to more beginning with this one.

Check this stuff out:

A great episode of Duck Tales!

Tail Spin Opener

At least we aren't this bad

An important song from Scrubs

Mar 4, 2016

Martin W. Bender

Tell it Slant is a discussion of the language used by Jesus to talk to the people around him and to his Father in heaven. He used everyday language, common language, the language of bedtime stories and business meetings, the language of the classroom and the playground. Jesus spoke like a regular guy, because in some ways, many ways, that’s exactly who he was. It would be a mistake, though, to think of Jesus as just a regular guy, because he was so much more than some spiritual feller with a beard reshaping the Hebrew religion.

In Emily Dickinson’s poem Tell all the truth but tell it slant speaking cryptically is the way to tell the truth. She likens the truth to lightning which is fast, bright, and powerful, but is seldom gathered in. People are startled by it, caught off guard, and occasionally crushed by its fury. This is why we soften the blow of the truth. We teach children the glories of ethics and morality in fairy tales and fables because they make the truth more palatable, they slow and dim the lightning so everyone can take a good long look at the truth. “The truth must dazzle gradually, or every man be blind.” This is precisely how Jesus spoke.

Peterson’s Tell it Slant explains how Jesus’ speech was so wonderfully different from what one might expect. His ability to teach meant he was welcome in the synagogues and the temple, but he didn’t talk like the other teachers of his day. While his colleagues constantly sourced their material in a flood of verbal citations to establish authority, Jesus spoke authoritatively. Like those first papers written freshman year, full of fire but lacking footnotes, Jesus spoke the truth and the people listened.

Stories are a language all their own. It was in this language Jesus did much of his teaching. So often parable favored lecture even when the people asked for a graduate course. At one point Jesus shares his motivation for teaching in this way. He does it so people can be ever hearing, but never understanding. What kind of teacher teaches that way? Jesus does.

Jesus’ style forces participation or frustration. The listener either dwells in the story with the shepherd, woman, and father seeking what is lost or they become lost themselves. Jesus invites those around him to join in celebration, but too often they are seeking something more familiar than the rejoicing of angels. They desire the esoteric and high over the common and lowly. Think about how ridiculous that would be to Jesus, who left the highest position in favor of the lowliest. Ever hearing, never understanding sums it up pretty well.

Tell it Slant is a walk through the parables of Luke and the prayers of Jesus. The walk isn’t rushed though. Like Jesus and his story telling style, Peterson slows the pace down, inviting the reader to look around and explore like when hiking. There is a destination, but it’s ancillary, the point is the journey. Out and back, out and back. Rehashing the same stories over and over, but they never become stale. They are always fresh because they are always true and we enjoy them over and over.

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On the shelf

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J. K. Rowling

On Christian Doctrine, Augustine

Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller

11 books down

Mar 2, 2016

Martin and Justin attempt to navigate the perilous world of politics and conclude it would be easier to survive on Fury Road. They both lament the options Republicans have these days and compare one candidate to Immortan Joe, the antagonist from Two Bearded Preachers’ favorite Oscar winning car chase movie, Mad Max: Fury Road! How ought a Christian behave in this complex political season? Listen and find out from follically fantastic duo.

Check this stuff out:

Imagine Dragons cover Blank Space

The W's sing Hui

Donald Trump on Fury Road

Feb 26, 2016

You wanted it, you've got it! A special Dad Fail segment just for you. Here Justin has an in store disciplinarian meltdown while Martin burns up all the hard work his children did throughout the week. You have ten minutes to feel better about your own parenting techniques don't you?

Remember to go all social media on the episode. Thanks!

Feb 23, 2016

The Two Bearded Preachers discuss their musical preferences, sing a few songs, and argue about the consistency of Meghan Trainor. In a very special section they both admit to loving the music of Taylor Swift and humbly request she return to Spotify. Be sure to check out some of this links below to familiarize yourself with the pertinent artists.

Sources:

Music videos by Train

Steve N Seagulls Thunderstruck

The BadPiper Thunderstruck

Music videos by Postmodern Jukebox

Songs by Pop Goes Punk

Songs by Pickin' On Series

C&C Music Factory Things that Make You Go Hmmm

Blues Traveler Hook

Taylor Swift Love Story

Fall Out Boy Sugar We're Going Down

Meghan Trainor All About that Bass

Queen (featuring David Bowie) Under Pressure

 

Please rate and review us on iTunes and Stitcher, like the Two Bearded Preachers Facebook page, share the episode on social media, and follow us @twobeardedpreachers on Instagram.

 

If you are anything like Justin and Martin you may be interested in a special box set from Taylor Swift. If you order through the Two Bearded Preachers affiliate link you'll be supporting your favorite country singer/songwriter as well as your favorite podcasters. Thanks for listening and supporting the show!

Feb 22, 2016

Martin W. Bender

If you’re into podcasts you’ve probably heard of Serial. Serial is a show that in its first season explored the issues surrounding a murder trial and exploded into a phenome of low budget journalism. It draws the listener into the story of Hae and Adnan and makes them feel like fellow researchers in case. It’s excellent storytelling and very gripping.

Because the first season was so very prolific the second season had to be even more impressive. Enter Bowe Bergdahl.

This isn’t going to be a review of Serial Season 2, nor is it going to be a rant about the mysterious actions of a misguided E-5. Instead, these are the thoughts of a fellow veteran who identifies, in part, with the reported idealism of this generation’s most infamous sergeant.

Pix

I met Pix (an abbreviation of his last name) while working at UPS. Pix was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism. I identified with him immediately as soldiers do in civilian environments. He had been medically discharged from the Army and was not happy about it. I remember him telling the story of how he and a few other soldiers daydreamed of taking over their FOB and running it the way they saw fit. This, it turns out, is not an unusual fantasy among enlisted men and Bergdahl’s story sounds strangely familiar to those of us who drank in those Army Values and made them our own.

The difference between Bergdahl and Pix, myself, and every other soldier I’ve spent time talking to is that he actually acted on his fantasy. His plan was to leave his post, cause an uproar, and show up at the main camp in order to gain an audience with a general. He hoped to explain the leadership problems within his unit and accept the punishment for leaving his post. The plan is absolute lunacy.

This type of lunacy, though, is not uncommon. When pushed to an extreme position only extreme actions seem reasonable. Bergdahl likely thought his position was extreme, but there is a fundamental flaw in his planning: It violated the most basic standards of military behavior.

General Orders

“I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.”

If there are equivalents to the greatest commandment of Jesus in the Army, they are the general orders. Privates in basic training say them like prayers before meals. They are recited, sung, repeated and for good reason; a soldier must be reliable. For all Bergdahl’s claims to have the best interest of his unit in mind he missed this fundamental truth.

Heinlein writes in Starship Troopers that it is the right of the soldier to complain. It is their job to do things they do not understand for the accomplishment of greater missions they will never hear of. This is why they maintain that right. They can complain all they want. What they cannot do is violate those greatest commandments. The general orders must be held higher than all perceived injustice and complaint because the general orders save lives.

Bergdahl claims he acted to save lives, but the reality is his actions cost the lives of fellow service members tasked to find him. This must never be overlooked.

Arifjan

During my deployment to Kuwait and Iraq our unit had leadership issues. Don’t think it is an exact correlation to Bergdahl’s situation, it wasn’t. We were running redeployment missions not patrols and while there was danger from occasional IED’s and coordinated attacks the bulk of what we did was drive. Thankfully, our entire company made it through the deployment with zero combat related injuries. That’s a success.

The leadership issues we had caused numerous complaints, but to my knowledge, there were no drastic plans to draw attention to our problems. Sure, there were IG complaints and a few people got into trouble, but for the most part, we put our heads down and continued with the mission till it was time to rotate back to reality. The best way to deal with the leadership conflicts was to stay on the road, keep on mission, turn and burn. That is precisely what we did.

Irish

Having trusted leaders is the greatest gift a soldier can receive. On our clip (or squad) we were blessed to have an experienced SSGT who took great care of us. Despite issues that may have occurred at the battalion, company, or even platoon level, our clip, led by Irish, knew we were the main priority with her.

Perhaps this is why feelings of pity arise when thinking of Bergdahl. He obviously didn’t feel like he was a priority to his leadership. No soldier should feel that way. In the service, one expects to have to do difficult things, but at the same time there is a rightful expectation that those difficult things must be done. Risk is mitigated as much as it can be. Personal differences don’t affect assignments. It seems like Bergdahl’s perception of his situation was at best flawed and at worst self-created.

Idealism

It would be great if every squad could have a leader like Irish. It would be wonderful if all commanders could adequately communicate their concern for the well-being of their troops, but the real world is different from our ideals.

Idealism in the military is dangerous. Everyone has a hard time. Everyone has an image of their ideal leader. Everyone faces challenges. The question each soldier must ask is are they willing to forgo their ideals and work within the situation they find themselves? Bergdahl decided to bow out. He chose to act outside of the structure in which he placed himself. When he did that, when he violated his first general order, he abandoned that which makes soldiers different from civilians. He chose his own ideals over the ideals of the Army. That is why he must face court martial.

Like Bergdahl, I’m an idealist. Based on what I’ve heard about him from the second season of Serial my guess is that we would get along well on a personal level. I imagine if one of his leaders better fit his idealized image of military leadership his entire ordeal would not have happened, but perhaps all of the drama surrounding his experience will prompt this and the next generation of leaders to take seriously the concerns of all those under their care.

- - -

Sources:

Serial Podcast

Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein – Just so you know, this is as much a book about political theory as it is about giant space bugs. It has been required reading at a number of military academies and officer training courses. If you are interested in purchasing this book, please consider doing so through the Two Bearded Preachers affiliate link. It will help us defer the cost of hosting. Thanks.

Feb 19, 2016

How about a big fat fail on a family day, or choosing to get yelled at instead of putting your kids to bed? That's what happened when both of the bearded preachers failed as fathers this week! Listen for a few minutes and you'll feel a whole lot better about your ability to parent compared to us.

Feb 17, 2016

Martin W. Bender

So after a few weeks of being distracted by the Next Level Leadership Conference and Valentine’s Day I’m getting back on track with my goal of reading 100 books and writing 100 blogs to go with them. Most of the books I’ve read so far have dealt with theological issues or wizards, but this post is dedicated to an entirely practical book for my work at church: George Barna’s The Power of Vision.

At Glennville First Christian Church we are in the process of developing long term plans for the future of the congregation. In order to be effective in this goal, I’ve decided to do a little reading on the importance of vision within organizations. Since it’s a church, the majority of the goals are already set in place. Ideas like preach the gospel, serve others, and worship together are in place and being practiced, but in order to have a greater impact on the community we need to become more focused on what we hope to accomplish through our efforts. Thus, a clear vision of the future is necessary.

Barna’s book on vision helps to articulate just what a vision statement is, what it should do, and how it benefits the congregation. Much of the argument for the use of vision statements in the religious world is based upon the success of similar ideas in business, but the concepts are easily applied to congregations as well. The general idea is that without a clear focus on specific outcomes it is highly unlikely such results will be achieved. Since congregations desire a particular set of outcomes having a well-conceived vision statement is both wise and helpful.

As the elders of GFCC work to establish a clear vision for the congregation I realize we are violating Barna’s advice. He clearly indicates that creating a vision for a congregation can only be done by the pastor over that congregation. He minimizes the effectiveness of consensus and directs the pastoral professional to take this task upon themselves. I respectfully disagree. If vision is in fact produced by God, as Barna repeats throughout the book, then the vision established by a plurality of elders is just as possible. The Holy Spirit can certainly work through a collection of leaders just as effectively as through one individual. At the same time, I agree with much of what the author shares in the book.

Having a clear vision allows the congregation to embrace some ministry opportunities while allowing others to pass by. One of the greater challenges my congregation faces is choosing an area in which to focus attention. As our vision statement is developed, it will become increasingly clear which areas we need to focus on and which opportunities are met by other groups.

A clear vision promotes forward thinking. As a congregation that has existed for nearly ninety years, we do a lot out of organizational muscle memory rather than from the perceived benefits that could result. This means time, energy, and money are being spent on ministries and programs that are ineffective or unnecessary. By focusing on a specific vision a congregation like mine can break out of its ruts and move in a new direction.

It is obvious from the style of this post that I’m thinking of the implications of creating a vision for GFCC rather than talking about the book itself. That is probably greater praise than I could articulate. If you a leader and would like a well thought out examination of the value of clearly communicated vision The Power of Vision: Discover and Apply God’s Plan for Your Life and Ministry by George Barna is a great place to start.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of The Power of Vision consider doing so through the Two Bearded Preachers affiliate link. It won’t make a difference in the price you pay, but it will help to support our podcasting endeavors. Thank you so much.

On the Shelf

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J. K. Rowling

Tell it Slant, by Eugene H. Peterson

On Christian Doctrine, by Augustine

Feb 16, 2016

Justin has one of those days where one bad experience ruins his day. Martin describes a terrible experience he had at the barber shop. The two discuss the ways in which God speaks to people in biblical times and today. Surprisingly, they have a high level of agreement on the primary way the Lord communicates with believers. On top of this, the facially impressive friends discuss the beneficial effects of punching others in the face. Pacifism is right out in this episode. Check it out!

If you'd like to support the Two Bearded Preachers be sure to rate and review us on iTunes, like and share the show on Facebook, follow us on Instagram @twobeardedpreachers, and use our Amazon Affiliate link to make your next internet purchase. Stay bearded, friends.

Feb 15, 2016

Martin W. Bender

This is Martin, half of the Two Bearded Preachers, taking this opportunity to move my reading blog to the podcast site. If you’ve been reading my posts on Medium you can expect more of the same except now all the posts will be hosted here. It’s an elaborate plan to get more people exposed to the show. If you haven’t heard an episode of the Two Bearded Preachers yet take a quick minute to start one while you’re reading this response to the ninth book I’ve finished this year: King’s Cross by Timothy Keller.

I have a confession to make, I’m a huge Tim Keller fanboy. I’ve listened to hours upon hours of his sermons, interviews, and lessons and even made it a point to go to The Gospel Coalition conference in 2015 just to hear him speak (I also benefitted from the other lecturers, but my motivation was mainly to see Tim). With that in mind, you’ll not be surprised that I absolutely loved this brief treatment of the Gospel of Mark.

Tim walks through Mark’s gospel sharing observation on the humanity, divinity, and wonder of the person of Jesus. He takes time to point out the differences between the ancient culture Jesus participated in and our own while showing Jesus’ presence on earth was a profound act of love on the part of our Heavenly Father. The content of the book is similar to much that is available on the life of Jesus, but presented with Tim’s pastoral and accessible writing style making the book ideal for the seeker and seasoned believer alike.

Of particular note in the book is the treatment of Jesus’ time on the cross. As Jesus is dying he cries out some of the lines from Psalm 22. He may have even recited the entire poem. It is here that the reader of Mark’s gospel, and Keller’s recounting of it, comes into contact with how Jesus viewed himself. Jesus is despised by men, seemingly abandoned by God, yet speaks of a time when the Lord is glorified. It is here, right at this moment, the moment of his death, that Jesus is most in tune with the will of God and is crushed under the burden of our sin. Tim brings this idea to the forefront and shows how great a savior we have found in Christ Jesus.

King’s Cross is a devotional on the book of Mark. It is neither heavy intellectually nor academic, but at the same time remains profound in the simple truths it communicates about the greatness of Christ. If you are looking for something pastoral in nature I highly recommend the book.

If you are interested in purchasing King's Cross please consider using our Amazon Affiliate link below. Your price stays the same, but it's a huge help to Justin and I as we use the revenue to promote the podcast. Thanks so much.

King's Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus by Timothy Keller (also published as Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God)

Feb 10, 2016

In this episode Martin and Justin talk about the pervasive nature of pornography in the modern world and how it impacts Christians. Several outside sources were referenced, some of which can linked to below. The raw conversation was 1:32:00. If you are interested in hearing more about the problems associated with pornography feel free to contact us as we would love to discuss it further.

Sources:

Why I stopped watching porn | Ran Gavrieli | TEDxJaffa

Porn: Human Trafficking at Your Finger Tips

Porn Again Christian: a frank discussion on pornography and masterbation

Pornography: A Christian crisis or overblown issue?

Covenant Eyes, Pornography Statistics: 250+ facts, quotes, and statistics about pornography use

Feb 6, 2016

The Two Bearded Preachers have moved to a new host in order to grow the show. You can still expect all the same great content with a complete backlog of older episodes. We hope you love it.

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