What does it really mean to have a relationship with God?
Many people who seek God are faced with the challenge of making a personal connection with him that is unique, and separate from the traditions they learned growing up. A person who is used to making conversation by making small talk or jokes may have a hard time feeling like they are actually engaging in a conversation with God if it is mostly comprised of ritualistic behavior.
Coming Home is a new series of episodes for our Deep Spirituality podcast that explores what it means to make God your home. Home is where you go when you’re tired, lonely, looking for security, or just don’t know where else to go. Coming home to God means letting go of the expectations we place on ourselves that may come from family or religious institutions, and allowing our genuine interest and desire for spiritual connection to drive our behavior instead.
Russ Ewell sits down with Cameron Straw, David Traver, and Parker Allen to talk about our context and how that shapes how we view God and how we approach our relationship with God. In the end we hope to walk with God as we go through life, uninhibited and free to build a deep connection with God to transforms who we are from the inside out.
Russ Ewell: 00:27 I’m very excited today about our podcast for Deep Spirituality because we’re going to be working on addressing and discussing a theme called Coming Home. I did a talk on that a couple of days ago and I have some people who actually were at a portion of, or all of the talk. Today I’m joined by Dave Traver, Parker Allen and Cameron Straw. And I think they probably represent the millennial and the Z Generation too. Yeah. So we’ve got millennials, we’ve got Z Generation sitting in here and we’re going to talk about relationship with God. One of the reasons we are going to talk about relationship with God is because I know for me, I started out in church and I was not a religious person. And so it took a lot for me to understand the system of religion by going to church and reading the Bible, all the rules.
Russ Ewell: 01:20 And so it was hard for me to capture the God part. And so we’re going to work real hard on doing that and hopefully we’ll make it fun. But to start out, I’m going to ask the guys a question and I’m going to have them answer it. And maybe when you answer the question you can just mention where you are a student or I know that Cameron’s working on Project Doing Good. He’s been doing that. And then just answer this question. A lot of people get up in the morning and have what’s called a quiet time or a devotional. And I wanted to ask you guys the question, do you think there is a difference between a quiet time or devotional and having a relationship with God?
Russ Ewell: 02:05 So let’s define a quiet time or devotional. You get up. You read the Bible. Some people read a spiritual book, say a prayer, various links. That’s the quiet time or devotional. But then I’m wondering, do you think that’s a relationship with God or not? One of you guys can jump on in and tackle that one.
David Traver: 02:24 I don’t think they’re similar at all actually. I’m David. I’m a student at Santa Clara University, I’m going to be a senior there, go Broncos. You know, it’s funny because when you go around campus early in the morning, you’ll see people walking around. Granted not a lot, it’s college, but you will see some people running in the morning. I mean, you know, it’s pretty peaceful for them and it’s a great, it’s a beautiful campus. But, some would argue they’re having a quiet time. Like it’s quiet for them. It’s peaceful, they’re getting their day started and you’ll see them pretty routinely if you wake up at that time. For me a relationship with God, it’s really easy to turn that into a to do list, into a “I need to do this” type of thing. I’ll wake up in the morning, I’m going to go crack open my Bible.
Russ Ewell: 03:10 Why is that easy? Why do you say that’s easy to do?
David Traver: 03:11 Because it’s easy to get into this mindset of, here’s what I need to do everyday. So the same type of routine.
Russ Ewell: 03:16 Why would you need to do that? I’m saying there’s people out there who don’t go to church.They are listening to our podcast. They’re trying to figure out do I want to go to church, do I want to read the Bible, do I want to know God? And they probably need to understand something about your context. In academia they call it your situatedness. Meaning who are you, where do you come from? What are your biases? Did you grow up in the church?
David Traver: 03:40 Yes I did.
Russ Ewell: 03:40 That’s your context. So I didn’t grow up in the church. I grew up way, way, way not in the church. And it took a lot to get me in. We’ll cover some of that one day. I think you have a lot of cool ideas and insights, but what people need to know is what is it like to grow up never knowing what it’s like not being in church. And how does that affect your view of quiet time being a responsibility versus necessarily a relationship with God? Does that makes sense?
David Traver: 04:13 It makes sense. Maybe one of you guys can share, I’ll think about that for a second.
Cameron Straw: 04:16 I grew up religious. I’m Cameron. I grew up religious. I grew up going to church, Catholic high school, private Lutheran School, and then the whole thing. Memorized Scripture for homework. Yeah. That whole thing. And then I rebelled against it a little bit in my teen years, but now I’ve been a Christian for about 10, 11 years going to church again and started out reading the Bible a lot. And that’s what got me interested in God again. And then I think over the years it has become more of something I just do. I just read, I wake up, read the Bible and I’ll go and pray. And I think for me I’m starting to discover more of a disconnect from me and God where I can just read and think I’m doing good spiritually or I guess I measure myself based on how much I know in the Bible or how much I know about what the Bible says and using that more as a gauge for myself spiritually instead of really thinking how close am I to God? And it’s not really based on that. So I think for me, I think there is a difference between our relationship with God or walking with God and reading your Bible or having a quiet time in the morning. And I think there is a big difference that I’m seeing because I think just being in church, I can be very routine. And when I say routine, I mean kind of getting into religious traditions like, oh, I read my Bible and I’m a “good Christian” but it’s not based on any reality in my life or a heart that’s trying to do something different. Like maybe I could stay the same for a long time and I think I have in different ways, and maybe deceive myself based on, “Oh, I’m reading my Bible” or “I know these scriptures.” It’s like taking it back to seventh grade, “Well, I know these scriptures,” or “Memorize these scriptures.” And so I think it can become a performance thing and I think it is for me in a lot of ways.
Russ Ewell: 06:27 I know you’re somebody who, in my experience working with you on Project Doing Good, it seems to me that you’re a person who wants dynamism, movement and inspiration. And so if I listen to what you’re saying it sounds like you were going to church before and that was great in a sense that you were around religion and around Christianity, around faith, but the dynamism wasn’t there and that explosive experience of intimacy and even power with God to change and to grow wasn’t there.
Cameron Straw: 07:17 Right. Yeah. People taught me stories and that’s what I thought they were – like good stories and I’ll learn that and teach that to my kids one day too, you know? But I didn’t see it as something that I could apply to my life and something that really could change me. Cause it didn’t, and I didn’t see people around me changing either.
Russ Ewell: 07:35 I don’t think any of us feel like, or I certainly don’t feel like we want to put down any form of Christianity. I think it’s good to go to church. It’s good. The Bible is good. It’s good to pray, but we’re trying to do is say we know, at least I know, I wouldn’t have continued to go or be a part of the church if my relationship with God had not kicked in. And so what you and I, Cameron, are talking about is if you get the rules down, those rules were hard for me to get down boy, I’m telling you. I’ll go into it more at some point. That’s why I’m really curious to hear from Parker and David because they’ve actually had the experience of being born and then that’s where they’ve been on Sunday morning since the beginning. And I guess what I’m asking both of you guys is I wonder if sometimes for you it’s hard to see the difference between the routines that Cameron described and the experience with God. It, you know, it’s kinda like the difference between assigned marriage or dating, right? You know, when you’re born we’re going to pick somebody out for you. That’s who you’re going to marry. Or I get to grow up in date who I want. Now technically statistically assigned marriages have done better in staying together than dating. So I’m not making an argument either way. I’m not putting anybody down in another culture. But what I’m saying is, for us as most of us are just generally Americans, we look at dating as exciting and we look at assigned as a rule. And dating is an adventure to know someone from our point of view culturally. So I’m wondering, can you guys give some insight to people? Maybe there’s a parent of a teen out there, maybe there’s a 15, 16, 17, 18 year old who feels frustrated with church because they feel like there’s a bunch of rules. I’m supposed to read my Bible, I’m supposed to pray. And they can’t see the difference between that because I really do think there is a difference. And my bias is showing between having a quiet time and actually building relationship with God. Either one of you guys want to jump in on that?
Parker Allen: 09:36 I, like Cameron, grew up going to church and my parents would tell me to read a chapter of psalms or have a quiet time in the morning and it was always kind of just something I did, not really something I cared about, but just something to do. And then I spent awhile in high school kind of rebelling against that and not really doing any of that.
Russ Ewell: 10:00 What’s “awhile”? Ten minutes or two years?
Parker Allen: 10:02 Three years, three and a half years. Yeah. So that’s awhile.
Russ Ewell: 10:08 That’s more of my wavelength. Awhile? I spent 19 years in the “while.”
Parker Allen: 10:14 Yeah. But I thought, I think something I saw was I saw kind of what you’re saying, the loss of dynamism. I saw people have quiet times and have this supposed relationship with God, but no real change. And I was like, I don’t want that, I don’t want to just have to follow these rules with no outcome. Like nothing good coming from it. So that was very unattractive to me. So I stopped doing that. I would still go to services and do stuff because I liked the people, some of the people there. But going back to the original question – the difference between our relationship with God and a quiet time. I think it’s definitely important in our relationship with God to have a quiet time. And I’ve seen myself now as I’ve tried to work on my relationship with God seriously for the last year, year and a half or so, that I’m starting to get into the zone where I can have those quiet times without a relationship with God, which is something I was very critical of. I’m like, no, that’s not what I want.
Russ Ewell: 11:24 Right. How old are you?
Parker Allen: 11:26 I just turned 20 years old.
Russ Ewell: 11:28 Alright. So you said, the last year and a half you’ve really been working on it?
Parker Allen: 11:34 Yeah, I think the last year.
Russ Ewell: 11:37 Good, so I think that’s really a great thing. And let me just say this: Coming Home really comes from John 15, and we won’t go over that scripture probably today because we have a lot we want to go over. If I get a chance we’ll go to it. But what you’re describing, Parker, is what coming home is all about. I think we gotta be committed to all the things the Bible teaches with regard to reading our Bible, praying every day, being in fellowship with people, trying to help people do good, reach out to people who are searching for God. I certainly am glad someone reached out to me. But we can, we can oftentimes think that the reason churches and and communities of faith are not attractive is because of people not wanting to get up on a Sunday morning or the moral expectation.
Russ Ewell: 12:31 But I think you just described what, in my view, really does it. People don’t see the dynamism. You go to a Golden State Warriors basketball game and I mean, you’re positively transported and you’re like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m here. You go to a concert, and you watch any of the great performances – my favorite would probably be Bruce Springsteen today and I’m sure Parker and David, you love Justin Bieber. And Cameron probably likes, you know, some country guy. Was it Blake Shelton? Probably Blake, I don’t know. But, when you go to these concerts, they’re just positively incredible. I mean, what an experience. And you know what I think is amazing is you can get 100,000 people in a stadium in Barcelona for Bruce Springsteen and he’ll sing “Hungry Heart” and every single person in English will be singing “Hungry Heart”with him.
Russ Ewell: 13:28 And I know some people will be critical of that and say, well, you’re comparing apples to oranges, churches and like that. No, I don’t think it’s about is church like a concert. It’s the dynamism, it’s the movement, it’s the inspiration, it’s the emotion. And that in my mind comes from a personal relationship with God where you really get intimately connected to him. And I want to encourage people with what Parker just talked about. He’s, you said 20, right? He’s 20 years old, he’s been been around church for 20 years. And only in the last year has he really been able to dive in on his relationship with God and start to really see the difference that it can make when you have a personal relationship with God. So you’re having a quiet time not to read your Bible and pray, but to get an intimate relationship with God.
Russ Ewell: 14:12 Think of reading Your Bible as listening to God and praying as talking. In other words, it’s a conversation. And one of the reasons I picked these three guys to be part of the podcast is each one of them has spent time with me, with my sons walking. And we take these walks at least once or twice a week. During vacations, every day, twice a day. And when we walk, we talk about our lives. I’m significantly older. We talk about our lives, our struggles, our pains, our problems, our hopes, our dreams, and all of it is surrounding God. And I, I hope through the podcast we are beginning today, this series about coming home that we can get everybody to come home like Parker just described because that’s what he described. It wasn’t a matter of “Was Parker going to church?” It was a matter of would Parker come home not to you, to me, to the church, to the membership, to the rules.
Russ Ewell: 15:01 But would he come home to God. And In John 15 – I grew up really falling in love with the RSV, which uses the word “abide,” the Voice translation uses the word “abide.” There are some people out there who don’t like the Voice translation, have some prejudices against it. That that’s their deal. But I think that the Voice translation does a tremendous job of giving you the emotion of “abide.” “Abide” is a word that means “dwell” or “to make your home there.” And that’s where the theme of this comes from -John 15. Many people say “remain” and I get that. But what I think Jesus saying is, I want you to make your home in me. This is your home. What is home? What does home mean to you, David? When you think of home, what does home mean to you?
Russ Ewell: 15:44 Just say what you think. A couple of these guys are learning about podcasts. So I’m surprising them and they don’t see it coming, for those out there. But that’s the fun part. We’re not experts yet. We’re working on it. But just tell me the first thing comes to mind. Anything at home.
David Traver: 15:57 I mean, home-cooked meals.
Russ Ewell: 15:59 Home cooked meals! All right. Parker what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of home?
Parker Allen: 16:02 Warm.
Russ Ewell: 16:03 Warm. Alright.
Cameron Straw: 16:04 Relaxing.
Russ Ewell: 16:05 Relaxing. Alright. How about safe, right? Safe. Alright. How about when your parents are saying no or yes, it’s a little discipline. You think of that as home. You want to do something, you don’t get to do it, right? How about identity? Do any of you think of home as identity?
Cameron Straw: 16:20 That’s good.
Russ Ewell: 16:21 So when I was in school growing up, I went to high school in the late seventies, we used to call each other by our last name a lot.
Russ Ewell: 16:30 So you didn’t call the person by their first name. You called them by their last name, your surname as the Europeans would say. What is that doing? That’s saying that’s your identity. So I was known as “Ewell.” I had older sisters. And so that was part of my identity, right? I lived on a street in Kentwood, Michigan and the neighborhood I lived in in Kentwood was part of my identity. I hung out with Dirk and Scott and these guys. And I was primarily around athletes in the latter part of my years in high school. I was a little nerdier in my middle school years, and I had an identity, right? And so I think home is about your identity. It’s how you feel secure in life. You know where you go.
Russ Ewell: 17:16 I told a story in my talk the other night about a little boy. It’s one of my favorite stories. I read it in a book years and years ago. This little boy moved to a new neighborhood, his family moved to a new neighborhood, got a new house and he had a bike, jumped on his bike and he wanted to go look around the neighborhood. So he went for a ride around the neighborhood. And I remember doing this in Kansas when I was growing up. We moved to a new neighborhood on Gentry street. And I went for a ride with my bike. I really used to enjoy riding my bike. I had a little Mattel bike, there was a motorbike, they had an advertisement for a bike that was like a motorcycle, but it didn’t have an engine, but it had the pipes and all that.
Russ Ewell: 17:48 And you rode the bike and it was a Mattel bike and they had it on the beach riding the sand. I really wanted that bike for Christmas. And my parents ended up getting it for me, but they didn’t show me till the very end. And so on Christmas, we opened up our gifts and my parents are like, “Everybody happy?” And I had this sad look on my face and they said, “Oh, wait a minute, we forgot one.” And my dad goes in their bedroom and rolls out the bike, but it’s wrapped up top. And I opened it up and it’s my Mattel bike and that’s the bike I learned to ride a bike on. So anyway, I’m riding that bike around the neighborhood just like this kid. This kid is riding around the neighborhood, right? And so he’s really excited.
Russ Ewell: 18:20 He’s enjoying himself. He’s having a really great time. And then all of a sudden he realizes, I don’t know where I’m at. The kid’s about eight, nine years old. And that’s exactly the age I was in Kansas when I was riding my Mattel bike – like eight, nine years old or seven years old. And so he gets lost, he goes I don’t know where I’m at. So he walks up to a house and this is, you know, the years where not every kid was getting kidnapped or threatened on the street. So this was a different time. Different age. He knocks on the door of the house and he says to the person who answered the door, he says, Hey, I’m lost. Can you help me? I’m lost. And they said, well, do you have anything? Do you know your address? No. Do you know phone number?
Russ Ewell: 18:50 No. What’s your parent’s name? He said, grandma. And I remember when I heard that for the first time, I was a little emotionally moved whenI heard that grandma, because you think of single parent kids whose parents are either gone died or imprisoned or something like that and you think a little bit of urban life and how great grandmas can be. And then the person talking to him says, well, I don’t know what to do. So they went and called the police. The police come up and the police are quizzing him: Okay, which direction did you come from? You know, what do you remember? Do you remember any landmarks? And he goes, oh, I remember a landmark. I remember something. And they said, what is it? He goes near my house. There’s this church building with this really, really huge cross.
Russ Ewell: 19:32 And if I can find my way back to that cross, I can find my way home. And to me that’s what coming home is. I think just following the rules isn’t coming home. Coming home is being moved emotionally by God and saying, I want that relationship. And so if there’s one word that probably describes home, I think we all would agree it’s relationship, right? Some will say, my home was terrible. Yeah, but I’ll bet you when you watch a great television or movie series on family, you really want that. Everybody wants home. And that’s why we’re going to talk about coming home. And so in this first part of this series, and we’re just going to do a section, this is sort of section one, like an introduction to it. We’re trying to get everybody in the mindset that to have a true relationship with God is to come home.
Russ Ewell: 20:25 It’s to find that cross. It’s to find that connection to God to find that gratitude in that emotion. And I would say that a great way to look at it is in Luke 10:38-42 and I want to read you a passage in Luke 10:38-42 and I want you to just listen for a minute and then I’m going to get your guys thoughts on this. Because I was going over this and I thought it was a perfect way to describe coming home. I’m reading out of the Passion Translation and funny thing about translations. A lot of people pick their translation. When I was first a Christian, I’d go into a Christian bookstore and they would be like, okay, the only Bible you read is the King James Version. Now some people are that way about the NIV or the New King James Version.
Russ Ewell: 21:14 I read them all. And so I believe that we can sometimes get insight from translations that maybe aren’t word for word, et Cetera. It’s when we combine all the translations that we really gain something. I’ll say another thing about translations because I think that could be an issue as we use different translations. I used to like reading Dostoyevsky and Tolstoi, all the Russian literature. And what’s funny is you would have people say, well, I prefer this translation of the brothers Karamazov, as opposed to that translation. But you never heard anybody say, this translation over here is invalid. Translation of languages is translation of languages. And I fully believe that an academic down at Stanford who doesn’t even believe in God, who knows Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew can translate the Bible accurately. I do. And people say, well he might not. He might not, but more than likely he would because they don’t even care. They just go, yeah, that’s what it says.
Russ Ewell: 22:09 And so I think we’ve gotta be a little careful about condemning or exalting any particular translation, and think of them all as just like great literature. Read a lot of people’s translations and you’ll probably get a lot closer to both the accuracy, but also you don’t just want to be accurate intellectually. You want to be accurate emotionally. And I think the Passion Translation does a good job trying to be accurate emotionally.
Russ Ewell: 22:31 So Luke 10:38 talking about coming home:
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their journey, they came to a village where a woman welcomed Jesus into her home…Luke 10:38 TPT
Russ Ewell: 22:41 Her home. Now when you think about your own home or your apartment, you know what you think about, I think? Control. This is my home. I decide who comes and goes. I decide what’s cooked and when because that’s my control spot.
Russ Ewell: 22:55 I think Martha, that was her control spot. Bring Jesus to her home. I got this. And a lot of times when we’re seeking control, that’s home. Home isn’t the house itself. It’s control. Home isn’t a house, it’s my career. It’s my major. It’s the grade. I’ve got to have this level grade or I’m not going to be secure and content. And I think Martha was in her home and so I think she’s in her home. Jesus wants to get her into his home. He wants to bring her home.
…Her name was Martha and she had a sister named Mary. Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation he shared.Luke 10:38 TPT
Russ Ewell: 23:27 Listen to this. This is great in the Passion Translation.
Russ Ewell: 23:29 “Mary sat down attentively before the master absorbing, every revelation he shared.”
Russ Ewell: 23:37 I’m going to read that again.
Russ Ewell: 23:38 Mary sat down attentively before the master absorbing every revelation he shared. Absorbing and attention. I think a lot of great relationship with God is not just reading the Bible, but it’s giving God your attention.
Russ Ewell: 23:50 It’s not hearing anything else that’s going on. It’s not looking up and watching a TV. It’s not longing for a second bagel. You’re so wrapped up and you’re so absorbed and your attention’s 100% focused on him and Mary was a hundred percent focused. She immediately made her home Jesus. Now of course, Martha’s the one who owned the home, so it was a little easier for Mary, but Mary was like, I don’t care what else is going on. I’m into this dude. This dude is bringing it.
Russ Ewell: 24:16 Verse 40:
But Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.”Luke 10:40 TPT
Russ Ewell: 24:36 You know, what’s interesting here, I think is that she immediately thinks life is unfair because Mary’s 100% focused on Jesus and she isn’t.
Russ Ewell: 24:47 I think a lot of times when you don’t come home to God, you end up bitter at the people who do. You end up mad that this guy’s getting all the attention. Verse 41:
The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important?  Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.”Luke 10:41-42 TPT
Russ Ewell: 25:28 You know, I think a lot of the time we allow achievement, significance, status, respect, feeling valued, getting attention to replace home, which was with God. And so a lot of what we want to do in this podcast is work ourselves to get there and encourage all of you to get there, to come home. What do you think about Martha and Mary?
Cameron Straw: 25:52 I mean, that’s a great scripture and a great translation. I think I can definitely be a Martha. It just made me think about how I have expectations for things to be a certain way or even becoming a Christian. Like, oh now, my life is gonna be great in all of these ways I’m gonna have this work out for me, I’m gonna accomplish these dreams, you know, and I get distracted. I think even you were mentioning Project Doing Good, it’s this great organization and we help people do good and we highlight doing good stories. That’s all good. But I think I got, and I still can, get caught up in doing something and miss that really what I really need is a relationship with God. Everything that I need. I think in the another translation it says one thing is needed or the most important thing is you know, choosing to have that relationship with God and believing that’s enough. And I’m an anxious person that can run around and feel like these things need to be this certain way. And I think, it’s funny because I’m a blamer too where I’ll blame people, but I haven’t really made that connection until right now, maybe, with just seeing that when I’m, when I’m not walking with God in that way or not understanding the most important thing, I’m like mad at all these other people or circumstances.
Russ Ewell: 27:10 Isn’t cool how it says in the scripture that Martha interrupted Jesus and she goes, isn’t this unfair? I’ve been there too. I’ve been there too where I’m like, Hey, wait a minute. And you know what I think when she says life is unfair at that moment, She’s reflecting for all of us. We get bitter, right? When we don’t focus on God and we focus on people. She was focused on Mary, right? She wasn’t focused on God. So you get bitter, you get hateful, you get envious, you get jealous and you get into all kinds of relationship sin when your focus is on the individual. And I think that’s what you’re saying.
Cameron Straw: 27:41 Completely, because I think, I guess I’m hearing you like, if I’m not focused on God, I am just automatically focused on people and that’s just how it’s going to be. I think because I make people that God for instance or I’m even expecting things of God. Because it’s interesting to, when you look at a story like this and you see Martha telling Jesus it’s unfair and then you almost like look down or think how could she say that to Jesus?
Cameron Straw: 28:06 But we do that to God all the time. I know I do. I just think my life’s unfair. Like why aren’t things working out? Like I said, the way I wanted to, why aren’t my dreams coming true by 30 the way that I had planned or you know that you promised.
Russ Ewell: 28:20 Yes, and they can’t see you do the quotes in the air. The quotes in the air were good. The timing was impeccable when you did it.
Cameron Straw: 28:29 His promise was not for me to, you know, have the picket fence by 30. I didn’t read that in Scripture, but I think I can put that kind of stuff on God when my focus is really on myself or on other people or my expectations for the way things should go.
Russ Ewell: 28:43 I love what you’re talking about, because I think that you know there are going to be some people who are going to be like, no, that’s not my problem. I don’t focus on people, no no no. You know what? Okay, fine. I know I do. That’s all I can speak for. I do and I did and I’ll talk about that. What I love about what you’re talking about is you’re really elevating the conversation to say you know when you’re feeling life is unfair, sometimes part of that is you’re comparing yourself to someone else or you’re comparing it to the timing of when you want certain things to happen. I want to be, you know, this much money by 25, this much money by 28, this many kids by 32 and we have this whole structure laid out and I think Martha walked into that house and she’s like, I think, to own a whole house as a woman in that time was a big deal, right? And so I think she was in there going, I’m going to showcase my skills, man. I’m going to lay it down. And Jesus was like, Hey, thanks for inviting me over. But I got stuff to teach. And so part of it is she’s not getting the attention that she expected to get. And sometimes I think we think it’s unfair that we don’t get the attention. I know I speak for myself, I always thought, hey, I should be the center of attention and if I’m not, then I’ve got to work to get it. Or something’s wrong with this organization. And I think that a lot of people don’t see how bitter we can become,I know I’ve become, especially when I was younger, bitter than I’m not first. Bitter that I don’t get the attention.
Russ Ewell: 30:12 I think we can get hateful of other people because we put all of our trust in that person and then maybe they don’t give us the attention we want and we get really hateful and bitter towards them. And I even think a lot of what’s going on in the world, people go, how are we going to get less chaotic? And people not hating people. Well, they’re going to have to love something more than they love to hate. And I think when you love God more than you love to hate, you do a lot better. Parker, you look like you’re meditating over there on some deep, deep, Tolstoian thought about faith.
Parker Allen: 30:41 I was just thinking for myself like with the first part about like Mary decided to sit down and Martha decided to just go do the chores and stuff. With my roommates, I live with David at Santa Clara and there’s been a couple of times when we have school stuff come up or different stuff we have to study for and there’s obviously this, there’s a stress to want to do that. But then this other thing comes up with one of our relationships with God or relationship with someone else that needs addressing. And there’s this thing you have to decide, hey, do we work on this? Or Oh, I’ll just do that next week after my final or project is done or whatever. And I think it’s so easy.
Parker Allen: 31:23 There was one time when this happened with David and I was like, no, we’ve got to go out and pray.
David Traver: 31:29 Oh I remember that. Oh my gosh.
Parker Allen: 31:31 And we went out and he had some stuff to do but we went out for like, I don’t even remember, a couple of hours or something? And that was really good. But then when I think for me when I’m going through this, I’m like, ah, there’s no way I’m doing anything but school right now.
Russ Ewell: 31:47 Do you think a lot of kids can sometimes get into, I shouldn’t say a lot of kids, do you think that students can get into the mode where when they’re trying to avoid the emotions of life, which God is trying to lead … because I think God tries to lead us into things. So I think when he allows some, I don’t know what you’re talking about exactly, but when he allows some conflict to occur with you and David, I don’t think he is like always angry at us that we’ve done something wrong. I think he takes situations and tries to bring people together. I think he looks and says, I want Parker and David to be best friends and, and I’m going to create something or I shouldn’t say create, I’m going to allow something to happen that forces them to decide. Because that’s what happened with Samson in war. He was brought to a point, he was brought in to conflict to achieve God’s purposes. So sometimes conflicts are normal. I don’t think God’s up there going, I’m going to make a conflict. But I think they’re normal but he can use those. Do you think a lot of students miss out on relationship with God and people because they hide behind homework and busy-ness and activity?
David Traver: 32:54 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. This is David again and I mean there are so many thoughts from this passage. I was trying to figure out what exactly to say but I think what you’re saying now is really good. I mean I’ll speak for myself. I’m someone who’s super task-oriented. I’ll always have a checklist going. I’m always paying money for these productivity apps on like the app store.
Russ Ewell: 33:11 Premed. Premed, people.
David Traver: 33:13 I’m always trying to figure out how to get more done in the same amount of time. It was funny because I remember when Parker moved in and when we started living together I really wanted to, you know, be really good friends with him but I wasn’t really sure how to do it. I thought we’re going to go to like the theme park near our place. We’re going to do some like crazy hike and that’s going to bring us together. I didn’t suspect in the world that it would be in the middle of finals week, we’re going to get in this argument or there’s going to be this thing that comes up and I’m going to need to have to slow down and either choose to, like Parker said, take on the spiritual endeavor or focus on the book work in the library with school. So I think for me, what you said earlier that really stuck out was, well to answer your question first, yes, I do think in general students, at least at our school at our university, it’s really easy to get swept up in the speed of things. And even people who come up from out of state, I have friends from, you know, the Midwest or even the East Coast and they say the speed of life here is one of the first things they notice that’s just really different from where they’re from.
David Traver: 34:25 And they say, yeah, it’s a stereotype and it’s true of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. You guys are really fast. And I guess I definitely support that, I guess we’ll say stereotype. But something you said earlier that was really good was that home or that people associate with home we can all agree with is safe. Right. And I think everyone wants that feeling of being safe, of being secure. And I think you said Martha wanted it and she did it by having control, right? I think I do it a lot of times by trying to get control of my schedule by doing more, right? And I think, I’m trying to figure out where to go with this, but I think the simple idea I had was that I can, growing up in the church, it can become about rules a lot. About tradition. You asked earlier what’s different between your quiet time, if there is one, between quiet time and a relationship with God. I can get into all the behavior, right. And that’s why even answering the question earlier, it was really hard for me to not think about the behavior because I’ve grown up thinking about behavior. But really what everyone wants, including me is that feeling of being safe and people go to different things for that. And that’s why the Barcelona concert, people will learn something in English if they don’t speak it because they want to feel safe, and that’s an environment people pay a lot of money to feel safe, right? And I think that’s what makes, that’s what, when I have a friend who doesn’t even believe in God and you know, or a neighbor who doesn’t believe in God, at least I can talk about that feeling of wanting to be safe or relationships. And that’s commonly held. I think a lot of us see safety is relationships, whether it’s family or other peer relationships. But I think that’s what’s made God real for me, even though it wasn’t always that way, was realizing I really want to feel safe. I really want that security. And even though it’s easy for me to be like Martha where I want to speed up and I wanna take control, and even go to school or other distractions. I think one of the hugest things for me to just admit is just to stop and say, I really want to feel safe and I’m going to all these different things to try and get it, but it’s not really fulfilling that.
Russ Ewell: 36:36 Profound. Seriously. That was awesome. You’re gettin’ your groove on podcasts I can tell, David. It’s hard to relax in front of the mic. Let me tell you why I think it was profound. You said something, I think I said it but it doesn’t mean anything when I say it means more when you say it. It’s easy to get caught up in all the rules and you emphasize safe more than even I did and I think the safest place in life is not in a physical home but it’s in a relationship home and what you talked about really is how do we get past the rules to get the relationship and what does God want from us? Does God want performance or does God want a relationship? And so I think this hopefully will serve as sort of a part one introduction to what we’re trying to do.
Russ Ewell: 37:22 We wanted, I wanted to make it a conversation because I think just listening to someone talk for 30 minutes or 45 minutes or 50 minutes and I talked for a while, but it’s not going to help. What helps is when you can hear a lot of different views. And we had a lot of different views in here. All four of us are different types of people. But I’m gonna say on our next section, we’ll come back in a minute. We don’t have any advertisers right now, but if we did have an advertiser, it would probably be that bulletproof bar that I’m about to eat for my lunch. Bulletproof. It’s the bar that I’m about to eat for my lunch. So if Bulletproof ever discovers us, they can go give us more bars. But, we’re going to take a break for a minute and we’re going to come back. And based on what David said, he just dropped his phone. We’re going to talk about, we’re going to to segue into coming home and I’m going to talk a little bit, if Cameron and Parker and Dave will remind me, about a term my wife gave me to describe the early part of my Christian life, extreme behavior modification. We’ll be back in a moment.