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Taking the Motley Cross

On the necessary folly of following Jesus.

Updated: 2017-09-05T20:36:35.248-07:00


Episode 21: Cleansing the Temple


After a long delay, we're back. Here is episode 21!

Click here to listen/download.



A few weeks ago I attended a symposium with several friends where we discussed the nature of communion or the Eucharist. Over the course of the evening the views of several theologians were brought up as the foundation for various members' understanding of communion. This made me pause and take stock about what theologians have been foundational to my worldview and I discovered that my influences are much more literary than theological and the few theologians who make my list did so, not based on their theological writings but rather on the stories they told. Here is a short list of some of the most influential.

Cosmology: Neil Gaiman (The Ocean at the End of the Lane, for example)
Eschatology: J.R.R. Tolkien (The Silmarillion)
Soteriology: C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)
Ecclesiology: Richard Adams (Watership Down)

I think this is because I am driven by story. I place more weight on a well told story than I do on a rational argument. I think story is solid because it is better at describing the way the would can be whereas argument is limited in this fashion.

Episode 20: The First and the Last


Episode 20 is LIVE!!

Click to Listen Here

Thanks for listening.

What the Gospel is really about


I've been thinking about this for some time and I feel like it is important to know in order to understand what Matthew is getting at with his Gospel. Jesus didn't come to save people's souls. He didn't come to open the door to heaven so that when we die we get to live happily ever after. He came to save people and to open the reign of God here on earth. The kingdom of Heaven is not a retirement plan but a living breathing political reality that throws everything we ever thought about life, the universe, and everything upside down.

The funny thing about it is that what we currently see as upside down is actually right side up. The kingdom of Heaven in the book of Matthew is representative of the world working the way it was designed to work. That which was broken is being made whole. The questions are so much bigger than "If you died tonight, where would you go?"

The Gospel is ultimately the good news that the way things are is not the way things are supposed to be, nor is it the way they are going to end up. Life, the Universe, Everything is on the mend in the kingdom of Heaven and we can either get on board and get to work fixing it or we can continue to pursue the old broken way of doing things.

Episode 18: In the Event of A Water Landing Your Millstone Should Not Be Used as A Flotation Device


My sincere apologies for the delay in production. There has been a great deal of busyness here at the Motley Cross and none of it really pointed at the podcast. The crazy is slowing down so we'll be back on track soon.

In the meantime, enjoy a special version of the podcast. This is a sermon I preached at Servant Church Austin back on October 6th. Strangely enough it was on Matthew 18.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 17: Coming Down the Mountain


Hello!! Thanks for your patience. Episode 17 is done and can be downloaded by clicking here!!

Thanks for listening and when your finished, check out my friend and sometime engineer of this podcast, at his site

Episode 17 - Delayed


Hello friends. Due to several conditions beyond my control episode 17 will be delayed for a day or too. Thanks!!

Episode 16: Take up your Cross


Episode 16 is live!!

Download or Listen to it here.


Episode 15: Circling the Drain


I'm back after nearly a month off in which I moved to a new place here in Austin and started a new job. My sincerest apologies for the long delay so here is the link to episode 15.

Listen here


Episode 14: Walking on Water


Episode 14 is now up on YouTube.

Click Here to watch!

Taking the Motley Cross Episode 13: The Kingdom of Heaven is Like...


Episode 13 is now live!!

Watch it here!

Listen to it here!
(With guest reader Don Waldrop of Abilene, TX)

Episode 12: The Quality of Mercy


Here is the link to the video of Episode 12:

And here is the audio version:

Thanks for watching / listening!

Taking the Motley Cross Episode 11: Now In Video!


Here is the link to the video of

Episode 11: Great Expecations

The Audio version will be posted here just as soon as it is ready.

Watch this Space . . .


Episode 11 is in the can and will be released this weekend. Watch for it because Tim and I have added HD video in go with the already high quality audio.

I'll be posting links to the audio file and the video on Youtube.


Episode 9 "Breaking Chains"


Here is the link to the latest episode of Taking the Motley Cross:

Episode 9

Episode 8: Who is This Guy?


My apologies for the delay. Here is the link to Episode 8 of Taking the Motley Cross Podcast.

Episode 8 Delayed


So I have a confession to make. I am in rehearsal for a production of The Merchant of Venice that is going up in April (Shameless Plug Here) and that is affecting my recording schedule. Episode 8 will not be going live next Sunday as initially planned but will most likely be going up the following Wednesday. I apologize for the delay and promise some extra written material to make up for my delinquency.

As always, thank you for listening!

Episode 7: Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own



Here is the link to Episode 7 of Taking the Motley Cross. The exciting conclusion to the three part Sermon on the Mount Special.

I will be back on an every other week schedule after this one so come back in two weeks for Episode 8, "Who Is this Man?"

Episode 6: Sermon on the Mount Part 2


Hello. Here is the link for Episode 6. Today we're joined by my good friend Scott Garbacz as we talk about Matthew chapter 6 and what it means to put the Sermon on the Mount into practice.

As always, thanks for listening!

[Quick Edit: It has come to my attention that there are some problems downloading the file from my google Drive site. I have posted it here as well. Please let me know if you are still having problems.]

Episode 5 - Sermon on the Mount Special Part 1


Here is the link to Episode 5, part 1 of a 3 part special on the Sermon on the Mount. I changed the format for the next three episodes. This week I am joined by Tim Stewart in a conversation about Chapter 5.

Leave a comment!

Episode 4 "Follow Me"


Here is the link to episode 4 of Taking the Motley Cross.


Episode 3: A Kingdom of Conscience


Episode 3 is now live. Listen to it here.

The Night Before


So, I'm scheduled to preach tomorrow and I'm terrified. Okay, terrified may be a bit too strong because I'm finding time to blog about it. Let's call it concerned instead. When I preach I usually leave a lot to my imagination in the moment. I don't prepare a manuscript because my speaking voice is so much stronger than my writing voice. I do usually script my transitions and I always script my closing. One of my pet peeves is a preacher who can't end their damn sermon. I joke that the hardest words for a preacher to say are, "Let us stand and sing." I'm about as prepared as I ever am. Maybe a little less than usual.

My concern is not over what I haven't done but rather over my inability to grasp the implications of the sermon. I'm preaching from Revelation 1:4-20 and talking about Jesus as the King. It is Christ the King Sunday. The day when the old calendar year comes to a conclusion and we launch ourselves into the mystery of Advent. I grew up in a tradition that didn't really embrace the Christian calendar too much. We celebrated Easter and Christmas (usually) but we didn't pay much attention to the rest of the year. Furthermore we never really talked much about the Kingdom of Heaven except to point out that it was the church and that to be a part of the kingdom you must be baptized. As an adult. My canon was Acts and Paul so concepts found in other placed were not really emphasized.

I find myself returning to Jesus' paraballic metaphors. The kingdom of heaven is like:
. . . a mustard seed, a weed, planted in a garden.
. . . a careless sower flinging seed everywhere.
. . . a treasure hidden in a field which a man will sell all that he has to possess.
. . . a merchant in search of pearls willing to sell all that he possess to procure the pearl he has been searching for all his life.

Even these are more question than answer. The kingdom of heaven is LIKE this. These are close approximations. The kingdom of heaven is more question than answer. Maybe this is why Jesus tells those who'll listen to seek first the kingdom and trust God on everything else.  Active pursuit of the kingdom rather than passive waiting for it to drop into our lap. The vision of Jesus in Revelation 1 is of a powerful, active being at work in and for his church. He's not standing still, and he calls us to follow him.

I have always wanted things in my life to be easy. I have expected that as I get older I'll get better at life and it will come easier to me. What I've learned is that things that are easy are cheap and without real value. Things that are worth having require effort and blood and sweat and tears. Jesus wants to welcome us into the reign of God. Seek and you will find he says. Knock and the door will be opened. Ask and it will be given.