Episode 18 – Nicole Unice is “Brave Enough” AND so are you!

Episode 18 – Nicole Unice is “Brave Enough” AND so are you!

Nicole Unice

Nicole Unice is on staff at Hope Church in Richmond, Virginia, and the author of the breakout book: “She’s Got Issues” which she wrote from her counseling and ministry experiences. The book produced and encouraged a refreshing and radical honesty that she’s built on in her new book “Brave Enough”.

Enjoy the Shownotes and links below and please share this with friends that you know CAN be “Brave Enough“. Thanks for listening!




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Get  Brave Enough or find out more here:

Like to listen instead of reading? Get the AUDIO book here.

Shownotes – Episode 18 Nicole Unice is honest, enthusiastic, and “Brave Enough”, so you can be too.


MIN 1:10

Nicole on staff at Hope Church

on the Richmond VA place and new midtown location.



Nicole’s podcasting experience (the Becoming Podcast) doing hundreds of episodes with her pastor doing 15 minutes shows for commuters.

Lisa asks: Is “campus” a Christian code word for mega church?


How she grew with Hope Church for 18 years, as they started out small in an elementary school “cafetorium”.


The “Youth Lodge” plans and the unique setting with wetlands and hills.


On the importance of Beauty, Setting, and Art in architecture and church building planning to evoke the imagination, inspire awe, and connect with the heart.


Collaborative workspace, and place where kids can do their homework and where people can enjoy the time away in a beautiful setting.


“artist come through the side door of the soul and preachers come through the front door.”


The history of the church and Christian tradition is one where the Church is source of beauty, wonder and connected to art because God is a the Creator.


Her first book: She’s Got Issues

6 main issues women (and men) face that can be a hinderance.

A rich relationship with God can come to a dead end as the ways we do life stop working.


How was it received? The #1 thing Nicole heard was, “You’re so honest.”

Why would honesty be such a revolution in Christianity?


She leaned into that for her next book “Brave Enough”


The story of how she got the title for the book:

To the question, “Do you think you can be brave?” Lucy Pevensie in the Chronicles of Narnia says, “I think I can be brave enough.”


Few women will self-identify as brave. [and not many men will either]

“After we identify the hinderances, what does it look like to walk forward in freedom?”


Brave Enough is about Grace and its effects, inside and in action.


Nicole answering the question: Do men have the same problems in this area?


“Women hearing teaching from women is like hearing in your first language.”


Ways Nicole leads and teaches men.


on how women have to translate teaching from men into their “language” and context.


On how, similarly, Brené Brown was challenged (by a man) to include men in her writing and teaching. (Lisa)


How men and women have similar vulnerabilities though they might deal with them differently.


“up speak” tones in language in women and men revealing different insecurities. (Lisa)


Nuggets from the Brave Enough book:

How the ingredients mixed into something she didn’t expect. It follows a narrative “arch of the heart”. How we can be full and free and confident in life.


on why (inner) freedom is illusive for men and women.

On “Fake Grace” in our head. (the excuses we make or how we blame others). Inviting God/Jesus into those places.


We all (default) and go back to rules and laws and how to short circuit that pattern.

It’s about resetting the heart with a new spiritual reality.


Radical honesty about our ugly parts inside the heart.


Nicole’s Parable: The violently stopping of the elevator door…(and how it relates to our soul).


Open ourselves to God’s Presence and healing.


(Lisa) God uses what bothers us about other people is a mirror of what we don’t like in ourselves.


How our baggage works to impede our progress.

Brave Enough includes major parts on forgiveness


God’s breathing on us and giving us the mission of forgiveness, first.

(Click to read the reference John 20:19-23)


When we keep living out of a wounded place.


How we continue categorizing our experiences to support our false and faulty premises and hypothesis about ourselves.


Questioning what is really true about ourselves (and the mental “tapes” we play).


God gives us opportunities to practices forgiveness every single day, often in small ways in the relationships and event of regular life.


If we can’t be gracious to ourselves we can’t be gracious with others.


The economy of our heart: if we forgive little then we love little.


(Nicole asks Lisa) “What have you learned in doing podcasting?”


We have the chance to never stop growing and transforming and God never gives up on us.


Brave Enough is also an AUDIO book. Find it here.


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Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

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Shownotes for Episode 13  Wine lovers have God to thank + guest Doug Jackson

First, I want to feature the book Doug and I wrote …

entitled Dog in the Gap because of a C.S. Lewis quote “Man and his dog close a gap in the universe”.


And there’s a BONUS EDITION with lots of goodies!
Read a sample here!

Will you fan the spark?

Inspired by how musician Amanda Palmer put it, “Don’t make people pay [for art]. Let them,” I am altering how Spark My Muse stays alive…from bottom to top (literally).

How does it work?

It’s up to you. I need at least $75 per episode to keep it solvent.
Every little bit helps!
So, I invite you to just listen, read, and give as you can.


Thank you! Enjoy the show!

With love,



Who do we have to thank for wine?

God and the Church, actually.

Wine lovers in Western civilization have the Church in Europe (and the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire–which was neither holy nor Roman ) to thank for the large-scale production, the prevalence and the excellence of wine!


Because liturgy involving wine for communion was central to Christian religious practice. Wine was ingested as the saving holy blood of Christ (and bread as the holy body of Christ), usually each and every day. The sacraments of Communion served as saving grace afforded to the Church.

As Roman Empire became officially a Christian Empire (circa 313 CE) many vineyards had to be planted, properly cultivated, and harvested. Grapes had to be made into a lot of to support the daily practice of communion throughout the Empire.

Communion served as wine was the norm among Christians world-wide until recently–in the era of pasteurization. To keep juice from grapes in a state were they would not ferment meant it had to be sufficiently boiled so the natural yeast would die. 

Vehemently opposed to alcohol, Thomas Bramwell Welch, a physician, dentist, and Methodist pastor from Vineyard, New Jersey, figured out the process in 1869 with Concord grapes. Most churches did not accept the switch as proper and stayed with wine.

The juice later became more popular during Victorian era because of prominent values of abstinence. A shift then began in the U.S. that made grape juice the main communion beverage (at least among certain Protestants sects).

Several hundred vineyards operating in Europe today can trace their history to monastic origins.

In the 9th-15th centuries almost 1,000 monasteries dotted Europe. They were centers of education, stability, and technical innovation. Monks and nuns could read and write–this was quite uncommon then.

Monasteries cared for the sick, helped the poor, created places of education, and invented Universities. They could not fund all this through donations. Surplus wine was sold to finance ministry work (and also beer, fruit brandies, and cheese, among many other things..even prayers and Salvation ..which–in hindsight–appears to have been a mistake ) .

So, basically, thank God (and many monks) for wine!


Sparking your muse

 Enjoy the fantastic chat with Doug Jackson!


Douglas Jackson, D.Min.
Director of the Logsdon Seminary Graduate Program

Doug Jackson came to SCS in 2006, after serving as pastor of Second Baptist Church, Corpus Christi, since 1993. In addition to teaching courses, Dr. Jackson functions as a liaison between Logsdon Seminary and local churches in Corpus Christi. His areas of specialization include spiritual formation and pastoral ministry. Dr. Jackson has published and presented several articles and essays in religious and literary venues, including articles and lectures on the life and writings of C.S. Lewis.
• D.Min. – Truett Seminary (2006)
• M.Div. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)
• B.A. – English Literature, Grand Canyon College (1982)

His blog is here.


Interview / chat notes:


MIN 8:00
on Doug preparing for a his Fall class.

A resource he is using by NT Wright – “The new perspective on Paul”
The covenant people God has saved.

Reformers and the necessary correction in contemporary times.

Confronting individualism
and thoughts on human flourishing.

on the idea of being “spiritual but not religious”

on his work about CS Lewis

Mere Christianity

The importance of imagination for understanding that isn’t covered by rationalism.

on his Oxford lecture
Owen Barfield an influential life-long friend of CS Lewis

Another lecture on Walter Miller – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Apologetic self-proclaimed validity on the rational scheme of knowing.

“Scholarship is about knowing more and more about less and less so that eventually you know everything about nothing.”

James Sire

Malcolm Guite https://www.facebook.com/malcolm.guite
Chaplain of Gerton college and Cambridge
“Faith Hope and Poetry”

He covers the imagination as a way of knowing (an epistemology).

Holly Ordway
Houston Baptist University
“Not God’s Type”

Her 2-track movement toward conversion

Brainpickings.com Maria Popova (an admitted secular atheist on a continual spiritual search)

on Spiritual atheism

….if we come up with a system that covers everything (Christians and Atheists alike)…

“Humans are sensitive and emotionally vulnerable to a wasteful degree evolutionarily speaking…highly valuing the arts.” (Lisa)

Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monk and Abbot
Philip Lawrence, New Mexico
…slipping in and out of atheism….

HG Wells, and the fundamentalist reaction to him and others of his ilk.

on how science and religious circles have had an absolute unwillingness to be in one another presence and (have not wanted) to admit any weaknesses and (instead) just shout louder.


“The best apologetics can do is make Christianity credible and I don’t think it can make it inevitable.”


22:30 “Any belief in any ideal is still a leap of faith for anyone… like Justice, Love, Hope…” (Lisa)

on How people appeal to a standard outside themselves. (CS Lewis)

Theories of “survival behavior value” for Morality and Justice kicks the can. or it lands on simple absurdity and meaninglessness where suicide becomes a valid option.


Doug answering the question….”Is fundamentalism evolving”?

Richard Foster’s classic over 50 years old “Celebration of Discipline”

A story of a crucial pivot point for Doug.

How the psalmists had to cry out to God when the answers didn’t suffice any longer. For us, this is a return more than a departure.”

“I have gained the gift of being able to respect other traditions and admire things they bring us, but I talk to people across that spectrum that have that experience.”


“We go from trusting our denominational address or theology address to trusting Christ but it doesn’t mean an abandonment of it. Choosing a room in the same house to live in.”

Spiritual disciplines most meaningful to him:
On solitude and privacy (the difference). Henri Nouwen explains the difference.
 Henri Nouwen explains in “Out of Solitude” 

Doug: Solitude is for battle. Privacy is to be alone.

Demons come in our solitude (Desert Fathers). The outcome is awareness and purification.

Wanting “the listening heart” (what Solomon really asked God for).
on the importance of listening to God…

My Stockholm syndrome at parties. (Lisa)


“(My) Inability to be with people was driven by a failure to have a real self.”

“you are nearer to me than my own self.” Augustine

Doug realized:

“My real Self can’t be with people because it’s threatened by them, because they’re going to colonize my Self and going to make me into something I’m not. As opposed to having a real Self that can listen because God is protecting that Self.”

Father Francis Kelly Nemeck wrote
The way of Spiritual Direction (his director)
…Doug and I discuss Detachment and Holy Indifference…

St John of the Cross
(Exploring the spiritually obscured times and darker emotions.)

“the nada” (God is “no thing” the silence before God

…on staying in the problems and not panicking.

…on the crucial lesson from his mom that revealed his theology

(unknowing) Apophetic theology

“John of the Cross didn’t want that we should abandon the metaphors but move through them.”


“We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology.”

(which is terrifying but life-giving)

Further exploration in a future episode of John of the Cross with Doug coming soon!


If you enjoyed the show please give it a stellar review on iTunes here!

Watch for new episodes each Hump Day (Wednesday).

Save-the-Date: Next Trip to Narnia

Here’s what some of the previous retreat-goers said about the experience:



To learn more or sign up, join the Retreat list click HERE.




Suppose you found a place…like Narnia…a magical parallel place…

This happened to me, and the only way it makes sense to tell you about it is to tell you that the land of Narnia comes to mind.

I spotted no White Witch, but I’m certain that Aslan was on the move!

I keep going back and it keeps getting better.

I’ve tried to sketch out something of what it’s like with my words. My strings of syllables are full of adjectives and I start to gush and make a fool of myself.

These words and my intensions fall short. Maybe a photo will help, I think. No, not really.

I try to tell people about it and say “come and join me”. Several of my closest friends knew to trust me and come “in faith” and it turns out that you sort of “catch something” while you’re there that draws you back again and again.

Yes, I can say, it’ll be restful, or I can say, it’ll be refreshing, or life-changing, or amazing…and of course I sound a little crazy because I’m making such a big deal about it.

But, I hope it doesn’t seem so absurd.

When you are really thirsty, water sounds wonderful.

Yet, it’s only when you taste it that you are satisfied.

Maybe you have some kind of deeper thirst. Then come!



A “thin place” is where you see this dominion of the kingdom of God come into clearer focus.

And dominion doesn’t refer to a location per se, or sometimes at all.


There, the world as you know it grows strangely dimmer and smaller. You notice a threshold that separates heaven and earth too much. It seems much thinner.

This thin place can even be manifest in a person.

When you are near him or her, you sense something greater at work in a richer and more powerful unseen reality. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know it’s real. There is weight there.

The epitome of that is, of course, the Son of God. Jesus was the thinnest place of all when he walked among us.He is our model. 

But a thin place is a location too, right?

Yes, sometimes a you sense a thin place in a location that has been somehow, or intentionally, consecrated and set apart for apprehending the deeper realities of existence. A house of worship. A garden. A home where love abides. A bookstore. A mountain perch. A bench at the beach. Everyone has probably felt a thin place, at some point.

(If you have, let me know where in the comments section)


The retreat center were I go at least 3-5 times a year is one such thin place. If you haven’t gone to a place like this, it’s nearly impossible to convince you that being there, just being, will improve your life.

I’m left “pitching the benefits” to you, like a giddy salesgirl, because conveying the actual experience is so obtuse and ethereal.

Postcards, paper ones or verbal ones, never really share a place properly. 

I have a plan to return soon
Your story will unfold in new ways there.

I’ll be the guide. I’ll show you the grounds and acquaint you with the places for quiet reflection and rejuvenation, and provide you with some devotional reading and prayer material to guide your time, if you want the structure. I’ll get you started and you’ll have nothing else to do but enjoy yourself. 

Are you thirsty?

We’ll meet for a (provided) hot lunch at 12:30, than after we will “gather the graces” we’ve been given, and leave for home when the time seems right. It could be the half day that changes your life. The cost is a tiny $15.

Let me know if you’re interested by signing up HERE, and I’ll prepare a spot for you and send details.

To be on the update list, click HERE.

The Letter X: The Key to understanding the Bible (tribute to Dave Dorsey)


This post is part of the continuing series I’m doing to honor the late Dr David Dorsey.

Don’t forget to read the others:

1. Faith = Eggs in a Basket
2. Follow Mosaic Laws?

The letter X.

It’s the shape of something. It’s the shape of the structure of how the Pentateuch (and Joshua) was composed. It was authored carefully with a structure that helped ensure it was remembered in a world where people memorized stories and rarely wrote them down or read them.

Chiastic refers to the letter X (“X” is Chi, in Greek, of course).

Check out the wikipedia article on ancient literary structure:

a field that Dave contributed to that is likely one of his most enduring legacies.

It shreds the 18th century theory, borne out of cultural ignorance and literary ignorance of ancient texts. One that has prevailed for too long: The Documentary hypothesis. (This theory came about when a French medical professor (Jean Astruc) thought the Pentateuch was very oddly written. No, he wasn’t a biblical scholar or historian, sadly, but he read the Bible and wanted to postulate. (Soon after, German liberal scholars jumped on his theory, expounded on it, and proliferated it as it aided their objectives in the 19th Century.)

Reading the non linear narrative form had him confused. He postulated that multiple authors at different times probably wrote the text and then it was cobbled together. After all, some things were mentioned twice, but how could that be? Must be a mistake or proof of multiple authors lending their two shekels.

Modern narratives are written in a linear form, usually, hence the puzzlement.

Astruc was a bright man, but his acumen was clearly restricted to the medical sciences. He had never pieced together that all the ancient texts tended to be written this chiastic way as a memory aid because they had been transmitted orally at first, sometimes for many hundreds of years. The book of Job is a very good example of this. It dates back to long before Abraham.

Thankfully, our understanding of the ancients is much improved now and it’s easy to spot this same structure in ancient tales like the Iliad and the Odyssey, for instance. Perhaps it is because of the stronghold of liberal bias in the scholarly world that this poor rabbit trail tends to still be esteemed. (Truth be told, its prevalence also works toward discrediting or tempering aspects of the Bible which is a happy agenda for a great many scholars.) So, this 18th century misunderstanding still prevails.

As one understands the chiastic structure of the bible, the main points are easily underscored. The Mosaic Law for instance, centers on the importance of protecting the weak (in that culture: females, foreigners, the the poor classes), the marginalized, and the outcast. The Law then, is an excellency picture of the heart of God that should be the same as ours.

So Remember:
The climax and thrust of a passage in the first 6 books stands out in the middle and the supporting text flanks it on either side. A sandwich of meaning: the meat is in the middle.

If you’d like to understand it for yourself here’s the best book for that:



In my final tribute post, I’ll share about Dorsey’s most famous archeological discovery. It’s a great story!

Follow Mosaic Laws? (continuing the tribute to Dr David A. Dorsey)

dorseyAs I promised I am doing a few posts in tribute to Dave Dorsey my former graduate school professor who recently passed away. He was a dear man who I loved and admired.

Here is my first post. Read that first.

Today, I have a treat. I came across a PDF of his online on a topic that many Christians struggle with and ask: “Are we (as Christians) responsible for keeping ancient Old Testament Laws?”

or sometimes, “How do we navigate the 613 laws today?”

Oh! Before you think 613 laws is a lot, remember that our country passes far more than that in a typical week.

But these Old Testament laws are a code for a whole people group that comprise national, both cultural and religious. They include even dietary and clothing restricts and other particulars too.

Don’t eat shellfish?

Don’t wear two types of cloth?

Don’t marry foreigners?

What about the 10 Commandments? Those seem good to keep. Not murdering people is a brilliant one.

Plus, in the new Testament, great care is taken to underscore the importance of the Mosaic Law for Christians; so how do we navigate it?

Dorsey tackles all that and more in this paper with this tantalizing title:

The Mosaic Law and the Christian: A Compromise

Be warned, it is a short paper from a scholar. Is it practical? Yes, very. Is it hard to read? That depends on what you’re used to reading. Give it the old college try!

In this short paper you can glimpse the brilliance of Dave (as he preferred to be called) who taught so many profound things to us. It’s amazingly researched and full of intellectual honesty, and most of all, helpful.

Enjoy it here.

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