Erica Barthalow | Holy Doubt - Finding Hope When Faith is a Struggle

August 8, 2017
Episode 19 features an interview with Erica Barthalow. Erica has been in various forms of ministry in her life, including three years as a missionary in India. She wrote a not so typical book about her experience there. It’s called Holy Doubt: Finding Hope When Faith is a Struggle.  She admits that three months into her time in India she felt abandoned by God.
Some of what we talk about in the interview:
  • What questions to ask about God: Is God good? Does God cause bad things to happen to us?
  • Unlearning our assumptions about God
  • If we follow Jesus will we always be safe?
  • What are the stories of faith that get told? How do we tell stories of doubt and struggle?
  • How we are changed by living in or visiting a different culture.
  • Not being legalistic about reading the Bible, but attempting to read every day and read through the Bible in a year
  • Praying throughout the day vs. setting aside time to pray.

Jann Martin | How To Hear What God is Saying?

August 1, 2017
Episode 18 of the Spirituality for Normal People Podcast features an interview with Jann Martin. Jann is a children’s author and has previously served as a youth leader at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Westland, Michigan and as the Director of Family Ministry at Faith Community Presbyterian Church of Novi, Michigan. Jann has an interesting story of falling into the calling of writing, after not being able to find a children’s story for a Christmas Eve Service. God asked her to write one, so she did. Several months later it was in print!
The main theme that emerged in this conversation was how to hear God speaking. What a great and important theme!

Some of what was covered in this episode:

  • When God blocks one path and opens another
  • How we deal with the "real life” struggles
  • Not settling for simplistic answers in situations of pain or suffering
  • Reading devotional material and a chapter of Scripture per day.
  • How do you hear God speaking?
  • The importance of going to Church when you feel disconnected


Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode


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Kelly Edmiston | Not “feeling it” in the Spiritual Life

July 25, 2017

Episode 17 of the Spirituality for Normal People Podcast features an interview with Kelly Edmiston. Kelly is the student minister at First Colony Church of Christ. We pack a ton of amazing stuff in this episode, as you can see from the notes below. Such a great conversation!

Some of What We Talk About

  • What happens when we don’t “feel it” in our spiritual life?
  • Making feelings and experiences into idols. Seeking them instead of seeking God.
  • When God might use a period of spiritual dryness
  • How do we stay obedient in the absence of emotion?
  • There is no separation between sacred and secular - all is spiritual
  • Making spiritual practices tangible
  • Breath Prayers (e.g. “I am weak, but you a strong”)
  • Silence as a spiritual practice and what to do about distractions
  • Be patient, gentle, and generous with yourself
  • Finding help for the Spiritual life in deep sources (e.g. Julian of Norwich)
  • What is the relationship between suffering and the spiritual life?
  • The metaphor of pregnancy and labor for the spiritual life.

Kelly's Articles on Scot McKnight's Blog

Other Links and Resources


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James Prescott | The Priority of Grace

July 18, 2017

Episode 16 of the Spirituality for Normal People Podcast features an interview with author and podcaster James Prescott. We talk a bunch about James' book, Mosaic of Grace, and also touch on themes related to his podcast called Poema on the intersection of faith and spirituality.

From the Intro to the Episode - I mention:

What we talk about in this episode:

  • What is Grace really?
  • The Japanese art of kintsugi (re-making broken pottery with gold joinery) as a metaphor for grace
  • How Jesus includes and loves us even when we turn from God.
  • "Poema" and the intersection of faith and spirituality
  • How people have different ways of coming to or seeing spirituality
  • How your mindset effects the way you see the world and engage with God
  • Spiritual encounters are not always good
  • How most of human life is engaged in creative acts
  • Keeping Sabbath and how “I am enough without my work"

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode


Scott Perkins | Defining Your Identity and Finding Your Value in Christ

July 11, 2017

Episode 15 of the podcast features and interview with Scott Perkins. He is a discipleship coach and the author of the book Tree of Lies: Transforming Decisions, Behaviors, and Relationships By Gaining Perspective On Your Identity in Christ. We have a fantastic conversation about what identity in Christ really means, and the dangers of basing our identity and value in other things.

Visit Scott’s website for a special bonus just for listeners of the Spirituality for Normal People Podcast!


  • “Ministry happens wherever you are.”
  • “In our weakness and vulnerability there can be great power.”
  • "The central lie that we tend to believe is that we need something in addition to or in place of God for wholeness.”
  • "If your first thought when it comes to developing a rhythm of life is 'I don’t have the time' this might be an on-road to understanding your identity."

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The challenges of ministry in the Church
  • Challenges for congregational leaders, trap of numbers, double standards for pastors
  • The problem of using results as a measure for our spiritual life, rather than our identity in Christ.
  • How our identity must only be in God and not in other things (even things that are good!)
  • Doing spiritual practices not to earn God’s approval, but to live as who God created you to be.
  • How to build a rhythm of life - just start something - set small goals.
  • What is discipleship coaching?

3 things to move forward in your identity in Christ:

  1. Know what you look to as your defining characteristic (e.g. other people’s approval)
  2. Know how you’re created (e.g. introvert or extrovert)
  3. Finding a rhythm of life

Spiritual Practices that we touch on:

  • One-line prayer in the morning - a way to remind ourselves about our identity in Christ
  • Journalling based on Scripture
  • Walking and Hiking as prayer. Repeating a short scripture passage while walking.
  • Silent Meditation - used as a reminder to listen for God and to shut down lies that you tell yourself.
  • Using a word or a phrase as a way of focussing in prayer.
  • Leaving time for quiet, stillness, listening.
  • Once a week - Examine (looking back on the week)
  • An open Bible near the door and a commitment to reading at least one verse.
  • Trinkets and icons as ways of reminding you to pray or read the Bible.

Once again, I mention the book Mini-Habits by Stephen Guise -

Examples of one-line prayers:

  • Lord Jesus, have mercy of me, a sinner. (The Jesus Prayer) - good prayer for living in grace.
  • Holy Spirit come and fill me with your joy.



Stephanie Jones | Giving Gifts with the Giving Gal

June 27, 2017

Episode 14 of Spirituality for Normal People features a fantastic interview with Stephanie Jones. Stephanie is known as the Giving Gal, having given a gift every day for over 500 days. She is the author of The Giving Challenge.

What we talk about:

  • What does it means to give a gift?
  • Recognizing opportunities to give a gift
  • How gift giving moves us away from being judgmental
  • Listening to that “nudge” within you
  • Gift-giving is about the other person.
  • Not being scared of rejection when it comes to giving gifts.
  • Thinking carefully about how Jesus would treat people.
  • How giving is more than making donations to a church or other organization
  • The importance of Intentionality
  • Starting Small with Acts of Kindness
  • Taking action even when we don’t feel like it - the magic of starting!
  • Obedience, faithfulness, and just showing up

Resources and Links from this episode:

Connect with Stephanie Jones


Bible Break 4 - Only God Can Give True Peace and Joy - Psalm 4 with Rev. Matthew Brough

June 22, 2017

Listen in as Matthew Brough talks about Psalm 4, which moves from our cry to God out of distress to God addressing our propensity to seek for peace in all the wrong places, to dealing with resentment at others' prosperity, to God granting us peaceful rest.


Glen Soderholm | All the Senses and Trinitarian Spirituality

June 20, 2017

Episode 13 features an incredible interview with Glen Soderholm. Glen is the pastor of Two Rivers Church in Guelph, Ontario. Two Rivers began as a single house church of what he calls “a collection of strays, orphans, and exiles,”  born from the idea of actually being neighbours with the people you live close to. He had so much to share about the Spiritual life, including his theology of Spirituality and the very practical things he does.

As an accomplished musician, Glen spoke about the role of music in the Spiritual life and shared his love for some musicians that you may not have heard of. There are some links below to some of them. Check them out!

There is a discussion of icons, which is fascinating, and I've included in these notes images of two mentioned in the episode.

Glen has an amazing way of remembering quotes. Check out the quotes section below to read some of what Glen said.

Some of what we talked about:

  • Spirituality is being included in the Triune communion of God.

  • What it means to listen to God? How do we listen in our inner life.

  • Being limited by a cognitive approach to spirituality.
  • Healthy spirituality begins to integrate all the senses.
  • Icons - what are they and how are they helpful?
  • How prayer life and spirituality changes over time.
  • Having a prayer binder
  • Journaling
  • The power of habit regardless of how we feel, but not driven by guilt.
  • The idea of Jesus being our great high priest. That Jesus prays for us! The Spirit intercedes for us. Two thirds of the Trinity are already praying for us!
  • It is not about persuading God. God is pursuing us and longs for a connection with us.
  • Memorizing Scripture, in particular Psalms
  • The role of music in Spirituality (see links below!)

Quotes from Glen Soderholm in the Podcast

  • “In this day and age, the last person we expect to be our neighbour, might be our actual next door neighbour.”

  • “Spirituality is a gift that comes to us from God. God is the initiator in the spiritual life.”
  • "Creation is the result of the overflow of God’s life of love.”
  • "Spirituality means talking to ourselves in healthy ways."
  • A Prayer that he uses every day...

I am the beloved child of God the Father.
I am the beloved friend of God the Son.
I am the beloved Temple of God the Holy Spirit.
I am enfolded in the Three in One.

Quotes from Others

"Prayer is the gift of participating through the Spirit in the Son’s communion with the Father.” - James Torrence

"Prayer is listening to God tell you that you are the beloved child.” - Henri Nouwen

“It is you that lights my lamp, the Lord, my God, lights my darkness.” - Psalm 18:28

“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of God’s willingness.” - Julian of Norwich

“The energy of reconciliation is the dynamo at the center of the universe “ - Eugene Peterson

Music Recommendations


Bible Break 3 - God is Your Shield - Psalm 3 with Rev. Matthew Brough

June 15, 2017

Listen in as Matthew Brough talks about Psalm 3 with its powerful images of God being a shield and the lifter of your head.


Lisa Whittle | Walking Strong, Simple Prayers

June 13, 2017

Episode 12 of Spirituality for Normal People features an interview with Lisa Whittle. Lisa is a speaker and the author of six books. From her official bio: "Her love runs deep to see people pursue Jesus for life, grow deep roots of faith, and walk strong in the midst of a world that so often seems to have gone crazy."

Lisa's latest book: Put Your Warrior Boots On: Walking Jesus Strong, Once and for All

What a great conversation! Lisa has incredible passion and straightforward honesty. Here is just some of what we talked about...

  • How to deal with weariness and worry
  • Moving from panic and fear to preparation and strength
  • It is not about how you feel, it is about what you choose
  • Choosing to love, obey, and follow
  • Warrior boots as a symbol of walking in strength
  • Pushing back on the idea of “brave”
  • Receiving the power and strength of Christ
  • Reading through the Bible continuously.
  • Listening in Prayer
  • Taking the pressure off for our prayers to be a particular way
  • The power of simpler, shorter prayers

Quotes From This Episode

  • "Choosing God stabilizes the other areas of our life"
  • “You don’t have to know the particular storm if you know the vehicle to survive."
  • “Christ’s strength is our strategy.”
  • “The more we look at ourselves, the more we become insecure and fade…so fix your eyes on Jesus."

During the interview, Lisa mentioned a devotional she is reading, Peace in the Face of Loss by Jill Kelly

Lisa Whittle's Books

Look for Lisa's next book, a devotional, available in Fall 2017…