[S1E2] I Say A Little Prayer
We are now also introduced to a new character, Athelstan, who was one of the monks spared from death because he can speak in Old Norse. The young monk comes across as devout, if not a little naive. As he is taken by Ragnar into slavery with a few other monks, it will be interesting how Athelstan develops as a character.
[S1E2] I Say a Little Prayer
Cersei visits Catelyn Stark, who is sitting by her son's side, and tells her that her first child, a beautiful black-haired boy, died of a fever. She and Robert were grief-stricken and her prayers and tears were for naught. She offers to pray for Bran's survival, hoping that this time the gods will listen.
Sara Barton: Hello, this is Sara Barton, the University Chaplain at Pepperdine University. First of all, thank you for listening to a new initiative that we have, A Spiritual Life podcast. One of the goals that we have for this podcast is to bring our community together around topics that pertain to spiritual life, to faith, to the ways that we can individually and communally serve God and follow God in this life.And so, we will hear from all kinds of people. We'll hear from people who will challenge us in our faith. We'll hear from people who will comfort us in our faith, who will bring joy. We will have some hard conversations and ask hard questions. This will be in dialogue with students and faculty, staff, guests. So thank you for giving this podcast a listen, and it's great to have you with us today.Sara Barton: Hello, my name is Sara Barton, and I'm the University Chaplain at Pepperdine University. Welcome to our Pepperdine Spiritual Life podcast, a podcast about how people in our community, along with our friends and guests, are finding and joining God's good work in the world. Jesus said "Seek and ye shall find," and I will be talking to people who are doing just that. So let's get started.Today, my guest is Pastor Albert Tate, co-founder and lead pastor at Fellowship Monrovia, a Gospel-centered, multi-ethnic and intergenerational church in Southern California. Welcome.Albert Tate: I'm so glad to be here with you, Sara.Sara Barton: I am loving it, that we get to have this conversation.Albert Tate: Yeah.Sara Barton: Looking forward to it. But before we begin, let's pray.Albert Tate: Yes. Let's do it.Sara Barton: May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.Albert Tate: Amen.Sara Barton: So, first thing I want to do, is I want you to tell us about you. Just introduce yourself to us and to our listeners. This is the Pepperdine community listening in.Albert Tate: What's up, you ocean-viewing people? Everybody's always so jealous of Pepperdine people. It's like "Oh, yeah, I'm going to go to Pepperdine and suffer for Christ."Sara Barton: Suffer for Christ. That's what we do.Albert Tate: And gaze at the ocean. I am from Mississippi originally. I've been in Southern California now for about 12, 13 years. Sara, you sound like you kind of have a little accent.Sara Barton: Arkansas.Albert Tate: Like a little southern drawl.Sara Barton: Arkansas.Albert Tate: Are you from Arkansas? There you go.Sara Barton: Mississippi, Arkansas, kind of related.Albert Tate: A reunion of the South, here. So, we came out, my wife and I, about 13 years ago. Worked at a church, Lake Avenue, right across from Fuller. Attended Fuller for a little while, and then after that, sensed a call to plant a church. And God gave us a vision for a multi-ethnic, intergenerational church there, in the city that we were living in at the time, Monrovia.And we started praying. Gathered together some folks, and fast forward six, seven years, and we have Fellowship Monrovia. About to launch a campus in Pasadena, and just excited about what God has done. So it's turned out to be a multi-ethnic, intergenerational, Gospel-centered church.Sara Barton: Well, what you're doing has reached us over here at Pepperdine. I've heard about it. We have people from our community, graduates, who are attending there. You know Christine Suh, who works with you.Albert Tate: We've got her working there. Got her straight from ocean city Pepperdine. We came on and we were like, "Who's the person spiritually forming all these people?" Everybody said Christine. It was like, come on Christine.Sara Barton: She is ... We were sad to have her leave here, but we rejoice that she's doing God's work.Albert Tate: I know. And she's been doing just absolute amazing job. Absolute amazing job.Sara Barton: She's our graduate, so we feel proud of her.Albert Tate: Yeah. You should be. You very should be.Sara Barton: Well, throughout Scripture and history, we see these people who are seeking God in all kinds of ways, and they believe God's really doing stuff. They believe that God is working in history. But, we know that God didn't stop doing things at the end of the Bible.Sara Barton: So I want to talk to people who believe God is still working. How are you finding and joining God today?Albert Tate: On so many levels. Just on the personal level, just of breath in my body and life, that I know comes from nowhere else but God. It doesn't come from my good eating, it doesn't come from my good practices, it doesn't come from my health, it doesn't come from my vitamin pack. No, it comes from the breath of God, and every morning when I wake up, I get to breathe that breath, and it's a reminder that He's real, He's in control.And He still has purpose. He still has a plan for my life, because if there's breath in my body, that means there's purpose in my chest, and God's still calling me. So that's one of the big ways that I see it.But then, I work at the church, so I get a chance to see God moving in people's lives all the time. There's a young girl who sent me a frantic, crisis email. She was in a relationship that was abusive, that was unhealthy. She was trying to get out of it. When she finally got the courage to get out of it, she realized she was pregnant.And she calls with a crisis. She's had an abortion before, and she's actually in our abortion recovery ministry program, and says "I've scheduled an appointment to have an abortion, but I just don't know what to do." So we immediately called the ... Called our counseling department, called our pastors, and they just started to connect with her, started to breathe life in her, and to give her a vision for her life that reflects the will of God.It was so cool. So that was probably three, four months ago, and you know, as a pastor you kind of have those moments, and you kind of move on to the next thing, knowing that it's handled, and well. It was so cool to see her coming down after service, with a little belly sticking out, and she just said ... She was just saying "I'm here. And God is here with me." And I just hugged her, and she just cried. Because I know God preserved a life through her, and God also revived her life.So, I could see a freshness in new life. So really, two lives has been transformed; this new baby that gets to see and breathe life, but then her. I could just tell she had a new life, a whole new perspective. Community comes around her.So stories like that just happen all the time, of God's faithfulness. Yeah.Sara Barton: God is working. You get to see it, not only in the lives of individuals, but in the life of the community responding to one another.Albert Tate: Yeah.Sara Barton: And so, just reflect on that a little bit. How is that joining God? Is God ... Where is God in that? Is it through you, the pastor, the woman you told us about? Is it through the church?Albert Tate: Yeah, I think one of the worst things you can mistake is try to individualize and isolate God. Like, He is working everywhere, on all levels. So even with that story, let's take the story. He's working in her own heart, trying to heal what was broken through her first abortion. He's working in her heart, because she's trusting again.She trusted us enough to reach out to us, so He's working through the church. And she's able to trust the church, and say the trust is an ally. So when I get in trouble, I may not go to the abortion clinic to fight it, although it was on her speed dial. But she said "Let me call the church first." You see?So the church is working. God is working through the church. Then, God is working through community because what happens after a phone call, she's surrounded by people who are caring, and who's loving, and all of that is an extension of God. Not one piece of that story doesn't have God's fingerprints all over it.So one of the worst things you can do is to try to isolate and see what part is God. It's all God. Even the crisis and the ugliness of her situation, God was there even in that, comforting, healing and consoling. So I look for Him in all the details, because usually it turns out that He's right there in all the details.Sara Barton: I like what you're saying about community, because I think sometimes when we feel desperate, we may call out to God individually, on our own, in prayer, and not share with community. Yeah.Albert Tate: One of the worst mistakes you can make.Sara Barton: Never in Scripture do we see people apart from community, realizing who God is, and joining.[crosstalk 00:08:37] Proof of the Holy SpiritAlbert Tate: It's always in community. Yeah. Theology is processed, exercised and lived out in community. Another story, a missionary couple had their son commit suicide. And he had struggled with mental illness for many, many years. It was one of those things where they weren't surprised by it. Obviously heartbroken by it, but it had been a fear for a very long time, because a part of his sickness included that as a reality of possibility.We come alongside them, we go to the funeral. There's a moment where I am walking back to go be with the families and walk them in to the service. So people that are gathering to come in to the service, they are all gathering there in the lobby, and I just passed by this huddled group of women. And they're all from our church. And I was like "Hey, y'all, how're y'all doing?" So I'm speaking to them and all that, and I was like, "What's going on?" She was like, "Oh, you know, she was in our Life Group." So it was her tribe, just standing in the lobby, all blessed.She says "Yeah, we've been with her every step." The mom, so the mom of the young man, her life group has just been with her the whole time, and one of the most beautiful sights was to see them in the lobby, just waiting to serve, waiting to carry their girl, waiting to be there for her. All with tears in their eyes, was standing there in community. That's what the church is.In the best of times, they're there to celebrate. In the worst of times, they're there to carry you. And that was a vision of what church and the body of Christ and the koinonia, the fellowship. That's what we are. We were made for that kind of fellowship.So just to pray in your closet, and to have personal devotion, and not express that in community, you miss the fullness and the breadth of who all God is and what He's desiring to give you in your life.Sara Barton: I love hearing a pastor who started a church expressing, when you got to see this community care for each other, you weren't even directly involved.Albert Tate: Had nothing to do with it.Sara Barton: You got this joy of seeing people doing what the church does when you're cultivating a community. So, I want to reflect a little bit on that. You have a Gospel-centered, multi-ethic, intergenerational tag line for the church. So, why does that matter? How does that contribute to what you're describing when people are coming around and living this life with each other, and joining this work of God in the world? How does ... Not all churches can say that this describes who we are.Sara Barton: So tell me some of the joys of that, and the challenges of that as well.Albert Tate: Well, one of the things that we're doing, we're intentionally describing and telling people who we are, and that message is for people who don't know who we are, and that message is for people that are a part of us, but don't have the language to describe who we are. So we're a Gospel center. We've centered it on the Gospel, and that's priority over everything else. That's bigger than a social justice initiative, that's bigger than racial reconciliation, it's bigger than anything.Sara Barton: It's good news.Albert Tate: It's good new.Sara Barton: The world doesn't have much good news, yeah.Albert Tate: Exactly. And it's got to be centered on that. And out of that, we believe then God then brings us into the reality of a multi-ethnic family. When you look at Revelation eight and nine, when you see that vision, you see every tribe, every nation, every tongue, every race. I believe if that's what Heaven is going to look like, we should start practicing that now. So let's declare that, and let's say that's who we intentionally are. So people know, when they're inviting people, they can say, "Yeah, that's who we intentionally are."The other thing is, I didn't want to be one of those church clients that had a bunch of young, all cool, hip people with skinny jeans on. No, I want gray hair in the room. So, when we first started, we had a lot of young people, and people that were 60, 70 would say "You know, I came, but I just felt like was the old ..." So I was like "No, no, no, no. We're intergenerational." Let's just say that out loud to give you permission to be here.Sara Barton: That's hospitable to the older folks, you think, and to the younger, it's [crosstalk 00:12:28]Albert Tate: [crosstalk 00:12:28]Oh, yeah. It invites them and lets you know that, although you have silver hair, you are welcomed in the room, that wisdom is welcomed in the room. And it's important. You've got couples that have been married for two years. We need people that have been married 25 years, that when the couple that's been married two years is threatening to throw in the towel because they got into a fight in the kitchen. I need that 25 year old couple to say, "Girl, if y'all don't sit down somewhere. Come here. Let me tell y'all how to get through rough times."Sara Barton: Mentoring in life and family.Albert Tate: Absolutely necessary.Sara Barton: Here we are in Southern California, where here, you and I are both transplants.Albert Tate: Yes.Sara Barton: And a lot of people are, so I can imagineAlbert Tate: Don't have that built-in family system.Sara Barton: That family that people are longing for is found in the church. These intergenerational relationships.Albert Tate: So we get to model that, we get to celebrate that. And all of it lends itself to, I believe it makes disciples. And the kind of discipling community that we want to have, it's one that reflects the diversity of the Kingdom of God, but also centered in the good news of the Kingdom of God.Albert Tate: And that's not easy, I mean, because [crosstalk 00:13:29]Sara Barton: [crosstalk 00:13:29]It's never been easy.Albert Tate: A homogenous unit is so compelling because it's good to be with people that look like you, live like you and vote like you. But we intentionally call our people away from that. So we intentionally say on a regular basis, "We want you to do life for people that don't look like you, that don't live like you, didn't vote like you did in the last election." So that way, we can begin to get a full vision, a full picture of who God is.Because I think when all of those perspectives come together, it widens our view of God. And I want to see Him face to face one day, but I want to be prepared properly.I wanna see Him face-to-face one day, but I wanna be prepared properly. So I wanna try to get as full of a breath and whiff of who God is now so that I can fully appreciate Him and all of His glory and splendor when I see Him face-to-face.Sara Barton: And you're fine in that with this intergenerational, multi-ethnic Gospel-centered group of people coming together.Albert Tate: Yeah, every single day.Sara Barton: Yeah. Not just on Sundays, but every single day.Albert Tate: Yeah. We come together and do life together.Sara Barton: Doing life. I love that, and I'm excited about it. Well, as you know, I work with young people.Albert Tate: Yes.Sara Barton: And a lot of people I'm working with are experiencing religious deconstruction in regard to their faith. They're asking hard questions about doubts that they have. They have questions about the finality of hell or the cause of suffering, or the infallibility of the Bible. As a pastor, what advice do you have for people seeking those hard questions?Albert Tate: Yeah. They're not new questions. They're age-old questions. How you seek and process those questions is everything. So I would encourage them to doubt like Thomas doubted. Thomas gets a bad rap for doubting, but if you look at the text clearly, they were all scared and all had doubt. He was the only one with enough courage to say something.So, I think the expression of your doubt is truly an expression of your faith, because if you did not believe, you wouldn't have any doubts.Sara Barton: And Jesus blesses him.Albert Tate: Oh, oh!Sara Barton: Turns and blesses him.Albert Tate: Oh, clearly! Wait, listen to this, I got more. Watch this. He doubts and declares his doubts and confesses them, so if you have doubts, confess them. I would say that. Number two, he confesses them in community of believers. One of the worst things you can do is say, "I got doubts so now I'm gonna leave the church and go then, work through my doubts with my weedhead alcoholic friends." You see what I'm saying? It's like, what? That not gonna help you navigate. If you have doubts, doubt in community, doubt in the church. Thomas doubted in community. And in his doubt, he doubted in community, and then he says, "I don't believe this so Jesus is gonna have to show me."In his doubt, he was looking for Jesus.Sara Barton: And then the whole community was blessed too because they got to see him ... I love the Caravaggio painting of him reaching, touching his finger into that hole in His side because everybody else got to see him get to do that.Albert Tate: And they needed to see that as well. So, in your doubt, look for Jesus. Don't look away from Him and get frustrated 'cause you have questions. No. Any questions about infallibility, questions about sexual identity, questions about all those ... Suffering, hard times, look for Jesus in your doubt, and watch this. The last part ... I love about Thomas. The last part I love about it is Jesus, who is in His resurrected body ... I mean, post-crucifixion. The body is tattered and broken. Every piece of Him is healed, but He left one hole. Why leave the hole, Jesus? Because He knew what Thomas needed. And He provided what Thomas needed.In your doubts, look for Jesus. He'll provide the hole that you need to show you that He is who He is. He ain't scared or intimidated by your doubts.Sara Barton: I actually have a poem that I wrote in response to the Thomas story.This is from John 20.Albert Tate: Okay.Sara Barton: "But Thomas, who was called the twin," one of the 12, "was not with them when Jesus came. So, the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!