Skip to main content
Spotify for Podcasters
Connect: A weekly podcast from Sparta UMC

Connect: A weekly podcast from Sparta UMC

By Michelle Foster-Beckerleg & Ben Gatton

Connect is a new weekly podcast from the Sparta UMC collective. Each week we will dive deeper into the spiritual themes that we have been exploring at both campuses of Sparta UMC and sharing some updates from the life of our church collective.

Available on
Pocket Casts Logo
Spotify Logo
Currently playing episode

How community and relationships helps us to see God

Connect: A weekly podcast from Sparta UMCDec 15, 2022

00:00
19:54
How community and relationships helps us to see God

How community and relationships helps us to see God

Pastor Michelle and Pastor Ben talk about a special story in the New Testament that does not get a lot of "air time" in the Christmas season. The story of Mary rushing to visit her cousin Elizabeth is a story about community, solidarity, and the ways that we can see more clearly when we share our lives with each other. This is a powerful conversation, and a great way to close out our first year of the Connect podcast. We hope you will join us again in January!

Dec 15, 202219:54
How are joy and happiness different?

How are joy and happiness different?

This week pastor Michelle and pastor Ben talk about experiencing joy in life and what makes joy different from happiness. They do this through the lens of the story of Joseph when he was visited by an angel in a dream. Don't miss this deep and meaningful conversation!

Dec 06, 202216:10
How to know when it's time to move on from a tradition

How to know when it's time to move on from a tradition

The holiday season is here and with it are many different holidays, parties, and moments for celebration. For most people, celebrations and holidays bring along a host of traditions. Sometimes we cherish them, but other times we get a feeling in our gut that the time for these traditions has passed. This week Pastor Michelle and Pastor Ben talk about how to know when it is time to move on from a tradition, and how to transform them rather than completely doing away with them.

Nov 30, 202217:58
2022 Advent Preview

2022 Advent Preview

It's Thanksgiving week! Pastor Michelle and Pastor Ben take a few moments to tell us about all of the the exciting things that we have to look forward to as the Advent season begins just a few days after the Thanksgiving holiday. This year the theme at both campuses will be "From Generation to Generation" as we explore the ways God has been at work in the past, and the ways we are being invited to weave our own story into the hope of what God building in the world around us. Join us every Sunday and on Christmas Eve in the month of December to be a part of this exciting season of growth and hope.   

Nov 22, 202210:47
Holiday Survival Kit

Holiday Survival Kit

This week Pastors Michelle and Ben talk about 3 simple passages from the Bible that can act as a kind of "survival kit" for whatever you might be facing this holiday season. From complicated family situations, to the stress of all the extra events, and the presence of grief; holidays can be difficult seasons of life to navigate. There are many reminders for us of how a loving God is present with us through the joy of the best circumstances, and the lows of the most challenging ones, so tune in this week to find out how these 3 simple scriptures can help you survive the holiday season!

Nov 17, 202215:02
Exploring the emotions that God has given you

Exploring the emotions that God has given you

This week Pastor Michelle and Pastor Ben talk about emotions! Through exploring a poem by Rumi and taking a look at scripture, they have a conversation about how our culture views emotions and how we can process them in a healthy way.

Nov 02, 202212:02
A fresh perspective on reading the Bible

A fresh perspective on reading the Bible

This week Pastors Michelle and Ben talk about a powerful tool that they use for reading the Bible and making sense of what is happening in life. It's called the "quadrilateral", but don't let the big name scare you! It is actually a very simple method of reading the Bible through the lenses of tradition, reason, and experience. It is a way that honors the people who have come before us, the brains God has given us, and welcomes the ways God has broke through into our ordinary lives. Also, we had a few technical difficulties with our sound mixing on this episode, we are learning to use some new technology tools, so bear with us! You might just need to turn your volume up a little bit. 

Oct 27, 202220:12
Everything Happens for a Reason?

Everything Happens for a Reason?

This week Pastor Michelle and Pastor Ben continue the conversation about "Stuff the Bible Never Said" as they consider the phrase "Everything Happens for a Reason". This is a commonly heard phrase that often creates a picture of God that does not match what we find in the Bible. Michelle and Ben explore how we can explore the Good News that the Bible does have for us as they examine what is helpful and unhelpful with these phrases. 

Oct 19, 202216:28
Stuff the Bible Never Said

Stuff the Bible Never Said

This week, Pastor Michelle and Pastor Ben talk about the new series called "Stuff the Bible Never Said". They talk about several phrases that we all hear from time to time that sound "Bible-ish" but really are not anywhere in the Bible. So what do these phrases reveal about ourselves and our understanding of God? What DOES the Bible actually say, and is it better than these half-truths? Tune in to this week's episode and join in the conversation! 

Oct 06, 202215:41
A Life of Generosity

A Life of Generosity

Pastor Ben and Pastor Michelle talk about the ways that Jesus calls us to be generous beyond our money. Generosity is a way of life, a life filled with receiving God's love and grace and sharing it with others abundantly. Michelle and Ben discuss ways to approach generosity in a healthy and balanced way as we make sure to care for ourselves in a generous lifestyle as well.

Sep 22, 202213:34
Serving others in a healthy way

Serving others in a healthy way

Pastor Ben and Pastor Michelle catch up about the new sermons series at SUMC called "Back to Basics" and discuss the topic of "serving others". It is an important topics because in many ways it can be bound up with guilt and shame, especially for feeling like you are not doing enough. So they share some insight on how to approach serving others in a healthy and sustainable way.

Sep 15, 202215:09
How do you know when it is God that you are hearing?

How do you know when it is God that you are hearing?

Today, Pastors Michelle and Ben tackle a really significant question, "How do you know when it is God that you are hearing?". We all have many different voices that we hear every day, some internal and some external. How do we discern which voice is God's? How do we separate God's voice from our own wants and desires? Join us as we discuss this question, and several others like it! 

Sep 01, 202213:30
Back to Basics: Prayer

Back to Basics: Prayer

This week Pastor Michelle and Pastor Ben talk about the new sermon series "Back to Basics". It's a conversation that we will be having throughout the next five weeks about how the spiritual practices and habits that draw us closer to God are really much more simple than they seem. Jesus lived a simple life, and practiced a simple and beautiful faith. In this series we will seek to follow Jesus into how we can develop spiritual habits and patterns that help us connect more deeply to God and each other. This week we start with prayer and Michelle and Ben talk about what prayer means to them and how we can practice it in a more simple way.

Aug 25, 202213:44
The Body of Christ

The Body of Christ

Pastor Michelle was out of town this week so Ben brought in a special guest, Jenkins! The two of them talk about the theology of the Body of Christ and the ways that both campuses of Sparta UMC live into this special type of community. It's a great discussion with some deep discussion about how some of the normal ways we build relationships with each other have eternal impact.

Aug 19, 202216:37
Questions about Baptism

Questions about Baptism

Pastor Michelle and Pastor Ben talk about all about baptism this week. Baptism is a unique thing that we do not experience every day, so many people have questions about it. On top of that, many churches practice baptism in different ways. So what do we believe about baptism at Sparta UMC? How have we practiced this sacrament in the past? Why would someone get baptized? We talk about all of these questions and more!

Aug 11, 202215:13
Questions about Communion

Questions about Communion

In another episode where Michelle and Ben tackle some questions, they take a look at communion.If you take a listen, they just might answer a few questions that you have wondered about, but never got around to asking. It is a really interesting conversation about one of the most important aspects of our faith.

Aug 05, 202217:22
Learning Contentment

Learning Contentment

Michelle and Ben talk about about contentment on this week's episode, and discus how we can learn to grow content in all situations in life. 

Jul 28, 202214:04
Using the H.O.P.E. Method for reading the Bible

Using the H.O.P.E. Method for reading the Bible

This week Michelle and Ben talk about a powerful way to read the Bible for personal growth and transformation. It's called the H.O.P.E. method, and we use Psalm 23 to provide an example of how you can use this in your everyday life. You can find an explanation of the H.O.P.E. method bellow:


Hearing - what did you hear in this passage?

Outstanding - what stood out for you?  A new word or phrase?  Something that didn’t make sense?  A particular image, word or phrase that caught your attention?

Prayer - Given what you have heard and that which caught your attention, what might be your one sentence prayer?

Engage - How might you put your prayers into action?  Where does this experience intersect your life and call you to action?

Jul 21, 202215:55
What do you do with hard passages in the Bible?

What do you do with hard passages in the Bible?

Hey Everyone, we had some difficulty with our sound in this episode....so the quality is a little worse that usual. We will have it fixed next week! 

This week Michelle and Ben have a conversation about how to approach difficult passages in the Bible. They talk about how important experience, reason, and tradition are when figuring out what challenging passages are saying to us. Also, there are some great updates about what is happening in the life of the church!

Jul 14, 202216:15
Discussing your questions about prophets

Discussing your questions about prophets

This week Michelle and Ben take a look at two questions that have come up in our conversations about prophets at both campuses. They discuss if there are any prophets amongst us today, and how to navigate the middle path of Jesus. This is a robust conversation that goes to some deep places that we don't necessarily have time for on Sunday mornings and also gives some fun updates from the life of the church.

Jul 07, 202225:40
What is a prophet?

What is a prophet?

Michelle and Ben talk about some of the exciting things happening around SUMC with "Christmas in July" and break down a key idea from a new sermon series beginning on 7/3. You may have heard about "prophets" before in the Bible, but what are they like? What makes them different from other figures in the Bible, and do we still have prophets today? These are some great questions that we explore on this week's episode of "connect".


Centering Words:

Listening to the Spirit is no accident, it

requires an attentive life.

And an attentive life isn't what comes

most naturally to many of us.

We're prone to filling every silent space

and slow day with

"stuff" of one form

or another.

But inside, God is moving and speaking

in rhythms and language that don't

scream for our attention.

Instead, he quietly waits for us to care,

to take notice and tune in on his

frequency.

May you awaken to the divine

movement within you today,

discovering the God who inhabits you.

May you take notice of the Spirit's strange

invitations within you, clearing your life of

all the noise you don't need, to tune into

the Quietness you so desperately do.

Help me stay attentive to the unusual movements of you, in me.

Amen

Jun 29, 202217:21
Questions from you about the Holy Spirit
Jun 23, 202216:10