Crucial Conversations

by Randy Taylor

Last Sunday Pastor Brock preached on this subject.  He talked about the 4 crucial conversations between God and Elijah, Ahab and Obadiah, Obadiah and Elijah, and Elijah and Ahab.  You might want to read that last sentence again to try and get it straight in your head.  In 1st Kings Chapter 18, you can read about each of these conversations.  Although each conversation was different, all of them were crucial to the parties that were involved.

Where I work, we have available to us a 2 day course on how to conduct a crucial conversation.  This tells me the importance that should be placed on a crucial conversation should be high.  At our company we know tough decision have to be made and crucial conversations are critical to the success of these decisions.  I believe it is just as critical in our lives outside the work place.

In 1st Kings Chapter 18, God had a plan for reaching Ahab.  He knew that a crucial conversations through Elijah and Obadiah was needed for His plan.  The conversations had to be at the right time and with the right message.  I think there are at least 4 things we can learn about crucial conversations.

  1. Start with prayer. This is probably obvious, but I believe it is overlooked many times.  Each crucial conversation we have should start with prayer when possible.  We should seek guidance on the right time to have the conversation.  We need to ensure we have the right heart for the conversation.
  2. Sprinkle in lots of love. Most crucial conversations go better when they are delivered with a heart of love.  Think back to times when you were on the receiving end of a crucial conversation.  If it was delivered with a heart of love, you were more likely to receive the message.  Without love there is a high potential for the conversation to become heated and emotional.
  3. Add in listening. A conversation is a two way street.  If only one party is doing all of the talking it becomes a monologue.  Listening shows you care about the conversation but more importantly you care about the other person(s) in the conversation.  If you listen, you may learn more about the others in the conversation and realize the things in their life where you can help.
  4. Try to end with agreement. In almost every crucial conversation, an agreement can be reached.  Sometimes this takes compromise from both parties.  Other times one party may “see the light” and realize the need to change or take action.  Reaching agreement will give all involved a sense of accomplishment and a better spirit of working together to accomplish the goal.

I am sure there are more ingredients that make crucial conversations successful, but hopefully, these suggestions will help when you are faced with the inevitable task of having a crucial conversation.

Messy Discipline

Messy Discipline

by Jenna Davis

I’m not currently a mom, but in my job as a nanny I basically get to pretend to be one during the work week. I hear a lot of mothers talk about how God often uses their children to teach them truths about Himself, & recently the Lord spoke to me through a seemingly “mundane” moment with the little one I care for….

After a messy breakfast of milk, banana and Cheerios, I grabbed a wet cloth to wipe his banana-covered hands and face–& he HATES when I do that.
*He also currently has a cold, so when wiping his nose enters the equation, it’s practically World War III.

I do my best to clean him up, as he turns his head from side to side, trying to avoid me. While he is squirming and crying and expressing his frustration for this momentary experience, I tell him,”I’m sorry, buddy, I know you hate this, but I’m trying to help you. You’re all messy and I need to clean you up.”

Whoa.

Enter…The Holy Spirit.

In that moment, He sweetly reminded me that HE knows what it’s like to be in the shoes of a caregiver, & that He is a good one. He loves His children and always wants, and does, what’s best for us. While we may wiggle, squirm, & cry out of frustration in those uncomfortable moments as He is working on us, He is patiently & calmly saying, “I know you might hate this, but it’s for your good. I’m making you beautiful; I’m making you clean.” (Hebrews 12:11)

It was a beautiful moment of realization for me.

However…if I’m honest…most of the time I don’t see it as beautiful, and usually wish that those times of God’s “cleaning-up” weren’t so painful. Sometimes I wish I could just skip to the parts of my life where I get exactly what I want, how I want it, and everything is glorious and wonderful, all wrapped up with a neat little bow…like the end of a Hallmark Holiday movie. (And, let’s be real–thanks to the invention of the internet, iPhone, & Amazon Prime- we are pretty much used to getting what we want, whenever we want it.) But that’s not the way sanctification works & it’s not how discipline works.

It’s hard. It’s challenging.
It’s laying down my will.
It’s daily dying to self.
It’s taking up MY cross to follow The One who bore it all for me when He carried HIS.

He is God.

He is good.

If I believe He is God and He is good, I must also believe that His plans are wiser, better, & that, in spite of my doubt, perseverance is possible, patience is still at work and (slowly…always slowly) making me perfect.

Jesus was a spiritual revolutionary. He said a lot of shocking things to a lot of people, including His disciples. In turn, some of them walked away not being able to reconcile it in their minds. I pray my response would be like Peter’s when those other disciples walked away. Jesus asked him if he wanted to leave, too. His response: “Where else would I go? You alone have the words of life.”

Jesus is still a spiritual revolutionary. He will sometimes ask us to walk through hard things. His heart-shaping and discipline, even if it doesn’t always feel good, is always for our benefit and growth.

And where else would we go?

He alone has the life we need.

He is worth trusting.
May we always long to REALLY trust Him, and rest in His sovereignty, wisdom, goodness and love.

 

Calling All Called: Part II

by Phil Baker

A couple Sundays ago Boone Benson taught us that God calls us through pain, not from it. That made me realize that in my last post I may have given the impression that a calling means it will be easy. But sometimes a calling is hard. In fact, sometimes it is so hard it can feel less like a calling and more like a challenge. I’ve recently felt such a call.

After my wife’s uncle passed away last year, his widow started cleaning out the house and giving things away. This uncle was a collector of various instruments, one of those people who could play virtually anything by ear. For years I had coveted a few of his banjoleles (a type of banjo/ukulele hybrid). I had taken up the ukulele a few years ago and the thought of simply transferring what I knew on the uke to the banjolele was very exciting. So I was naturally hoping to get one of them. But instead she gave me an actual banjo. I’m ashamed to say I was disappointed with my gift. I didn’t get what I wanted. Nevermind that this was a better gift, a much more expensive instrument. It was in excellent shape. And the fact that she set it aside especially for me was a touching sentiment.

A few months went by as I felt that banjo calling to me from inside its case. This Washburn 5 string had a voice and I wasn’t going to keep it silent. So, despite my intimidation and limited knowledge of stringed instruments, I answered the call. I started out very slowly and sporadically. But just recently I really committed to it, taking at least 30 minutes each day to work with it. That first day I got so frustrated I had to set it down and walk away for several hours. I wasn’t getting anywhere. Everything about it was so foreign and awkward. The ukulele was easy to learn. You just strum it. And if you know a few chords you can play a wealth of songs. But the banjo is so much more complicated. You pick it one string at a time. Its strings are in a completely different key and order than a ukulele or guitar. Then there’s that pesky 5th string that refuses a capo. ARRRG! I was tempted to give up entirely. But I gave it one more shot. Day 2 was just as hard. But on day 3 I had a major discovery that invigorated me! Day 4 and the days since I’ve begun to slowly get better. I’ve been plucking away at it every day for a couple weeks now.

Why would I have this calling? Am I to be the next Earl Scruggs or David Crowder? Probably not. At this point, only God knows the purpose. Maybe he just needs me to have calloused fingers. All I know is it’s my calling so I’m not gonna phone it in! (pun intended)

I’m reminded of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid teaching Daniel “Wax on. Wax off.” Daniel didn’t know it at the time but Mr. Miyagi was teaching him a powerful defensive move by building those muscles and muscle memory. It wasn’t until Daniel had endured days of this seemingly pointless exercise that his sensei revealed the rewards of his teachings.

So why didn’t Mr. Miyagi just tell Daniel “Hey, I’m gonna teach you these really useful karate moves by having you do some of my home improvements!” He just kept silent while Daniel worked. Theologian Helmut Thielicke calls this “the silence of higher thoughts”. It means that only God sees the big picture. We can’t comprehend it (see Isaiah 55:9). It’s when He’s mum on his complete plan and just gives us what we need to know. It’s when a parent says “because I said so” to a child questioning their authority. It’s when Mary and Martha ask Jesus why he wasn’t there before Lazarus died (John 11:1-44).

You see, at its root, any calling from God is a call just to walk with Him day by day. Each day you have to rely on Him even if that day won’t be as rewarding as you’d hope. I will continue to practice my banjo day by day knowing that I will have some good days and some days I want to chuck it out the window. But I will continue to walk with Him. And he will walk with me.

So be mindful of God’s callings. Even the difficult ones. We won’t always be given the full picture making it all the more challenging and confusing. But rest in the fact that it is God who gave the call. He’s there at the finish line cheering you on!

Calling All Called

by Phil Baker

When we hear the word “called” in church, most of us think of those who go into full-time ministry work. If you’ve been “called”, God has singled you out of the crowd for a very special purpose. In that way, we place extra value on ministers which demeans the work the rest of us do. But if everyone was a full-time minister who would deliver the mail? Who would pave the roads? Who would grow food?

The problem is we don’t think of our vocation as a theological concept. The word vocation actually comes from the Latin word vocaré which means “to call”. The Roman Catholic Church originally used the term for bishops, priests and monks. But through the ages its meaning has expanded to include any and all occupations. If you are called to it, God has summoned you to that vocation.

Now your vocation might not necessarily be your job. I work with many people who are phone jockeys by day and musicians by night. Their job is in marketing. But their vocation, their calling, is music. Some people are lucky enough that their job and their vocation are one and the same. But for others they are different (although God can certainly work in and through both). Often your job can even compete with your career. But if you have that calling, you make time for it.

So now I ask you – What is your calling? What is it that you do? What do you love to do? What has God made you to do? What has God called you to do? It’s that thing that takes no effort. It’s what you do with focus, excellence, and before you know it, it’s 4am and you didn’t even notice how much time had passed.

“God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.”

We’ve all heard that popular cliché. It is often used as a recruiting slogan for missions work. It is meant to motivate those who don’t feel worthy of the “higher calling” of ministry work. When we begin to realize our vocation IS ministry work the equipping part seems less daunting. God has already pre-wired us to go into that particular mission field. We just need a little spit and polish to convert our regular duties into righteous ones. That’s what church is for.

Think of Revive as MI6. You’re James Bond and M has just given you your mission. Your first stop is to see the Quartermaster, also known as Q, to get all the gadgets and gizmos you’ll need in the field.

Your mission is clear. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” One of Revive’s goals is to equip you for that mission.

I believe I speak for the rest of the leadership team at Revive when I say that we value everyone’s calling, everyone’s vocation. Your role is no less important than the pastor’s. Everyone has an equal part to play in Kingdom work, not just the church staff. We believe that God has created you for a purpose and we want to help you develop it, apply it and then mentor others who might have that same calling. Whether you’re a preacher or a teacher, a carpenter or a councilman, a nurse or a nanny, you are called.

YOU. ARE. CALLED.

As you begin your vocation this week, pray this prayer by Brother Lawrence:

My God, you are always close to me. In obedience to you, I must not apply myself to outward things. Yet, as I do so, I pray that you will give me the grace of your presence. And to this end I ask that you will assist my work. Receive its fruits as an offering to you. And all the while, direct all my affections to you.

Amen.

Get to Know Jenna Davis

Get to Know Jenna Davis

Jenna

Many months ago Jenna Davis led us in worship for the first time. We’ve come to know and love her. She’s been leading us full time for the past 2 months. And just this past Sunday, she became our permanent Worship Leader at Revive church! So we thought we’d take this opportunity for your to get to know her a little better.

 

Tell us about your salvation experience.

Growing up, my parents did an excellent job of discipling my younger brothers and I, by always talking to us about Jesus, and taking us to church. When I was four years old, for some reason, I felt led to go into my room, kneel down beside my bed and pray. As strange as it may sound, I remember talking to and meeting Jesus in that moment. He was so real to me, even at such a young age! I remember coming out of my room to tell my mom about it. She actually wrote about the experience (in my “baby book” as we call it). She said I came out of my room that day and told her, “Mom, I gave my heart to Jesus. I prayed to Him, worshiped Him, and trusted in Him.”  I’ve strived to live my life in that posture ever since.

 

Do you have a life verse?

I’ve always loved Psalm 139:23-24

And I am also very fond of Psalm 37, specifically verses 3-7.

 

When did you first start playing music? 

I’ve loved singing since I was a little girl (and proved it by constantly singing The Little Mermaid soundtrack everywhere I went.) I was a freshman in high school when I started leading worship, and a junior in high school when I started playing guitar and writing songs.

 

What is your philosophy of worship?

I believe true worship can be how we live out The Gospel of Jesus in our everyday lives. The first mention of the word “worship” in scripture is in Genesis when Abraham takes Isaac up the mountain to be sacrificed. I believe we “worship” when we live out lives of love and obedience to God. I also believe God invented music & that He intends musical worship to be a big part of communing with Him and to be a faith-building vehicle for the church. Worship is something that is going on at all times in Heaven and will continue throughout eternity, and it’s beautiful that God gives us a taste of that experience here on earth.

 

What is something God has taught you (or is teaching you) recently?

I’ve been reading a book by Phillip Keller called “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”. It goes through each line of the Psalm and relates actual sheep tending with all the ways Jesus is OUR Good Shepherd. It has been very encouraging and eye-opening to see how He takes such good care of us as His “sheep”, and learning how to trust Him fully as my Shepherd.

 

What do you like most about Revive church?

I really love and appreciate how welcoming everyone is and the community aspect. It’s always felt like a safe place and the people feel like family 🙂

 

What is your favorite breakfast cereal? 

That’s a tough one….but I think My current favorite is Honey Kix.

 

Do you think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone?

I am a little bit of a conspiracy theorist, so I think it’s a definite possibility that he had help.

 

What is your favorite soft drink? 

Root beer…or La Croix if that counts! 🙂

Prodigal Victory

by Brock Benson

Tonight marks a historic night in Smashville (Yup, I just did it. I’m on the bandwagon. It’s cool). The beloved Predators have the opportunity to do what no professional team has done in my 6 years of living in Middle Tennessee; play for a championship. It’s really cool to see how winning brings a community together like few things truly can. I have heard from a few of our Revivers that regularly attend Preds games that the post season atmosphere in Bridgestone has been incredible. Folks from all walks of life who have nothing in common but the team they root for are finding themselves high fiving and cheering their team to victory. While I can’t consider myself an official hockey fan or even a legit Preds fan yet I will admit that I hope we will be smoking some duck after tonight.

We’ve been in a study at Revive Church the past few weeks called Prodigal Love. Prodigal as we learned in our blog post from last week simply to means to give something away on a lavish scale. It doesn’t automatically entail a sinful path. Yesterday our attention was  centered on how Paul describes the strength of God’s prodigal love for us in Romans 8:37-39 and how it creates a confidence for us much like Paul’s that any athlete hockey player or not would be desirous of. This is how God designed us to walk as his children that have been given such a prodigal love.

There will be many nervous fans around the city of Nashville tonight watching and waiting to see if their beloved Predators can do what few Nashville teams will probably ever do…win the big game. Sorry didn’t meant that to sound or be insensitive or anything. That’s just kind of how it came out. But in all seriousness there is a heightened sense of tension or nervousness that surrounds any type of competitive athletic event like the hockey game tonight. Its adds to the edge that athletes talk about having before a big game. But sometimes that edge and nervousness can create an adverse affect too… I remember back in college before my buddies and I played in our intramural flag football championship game I was so nervous driving to the game I got really bad gas. So bad that  when Cassie (my wife now but girlfriend then) came to meet me as I arrived the smell was so bad she asked what had happened to my truck…I was a WRECK!

Competition and nerves can do crazy things to all of us. Christians aren’t exempt from this either. We get nervous and anxious like everyone else does about anything and everything. But maybe this struggle is tied to our perspective in how we are looking at our current situations? I wonder if we create this tension and anxiety for ourselves in that we look at life much like the Preds vs. Ducks game tonight. A competition that we have to compete at to be able and win. In one sense this is true because Paul says we all have a race to run. But in a whole other sense we need to remember what else we know and that is the race has also already been won. If I can use another sports analogy think about your life’s race as simply one leg of the bigger relay race. Your leg matters but there are two important facts you need to realize as you run. First your team-team Jesus already has secured first in all the other events of the meet prior to your race. So the victory is yours you just gotta finish your leg.

Jesus competed for us on the cross of calvary so win or lose tonight we walk in a bigger victory that is ours in Him. As Christ followers we enjoy not just victory but a prodigal victory that will be completely ours one day. So as we walk lets walk in the confidence of a Prodigal Victory.

Be Revived!

Pastor Brock

and oh yea GO PREDS!!!!!!

Lavish

by Phil Baker

As we are being led through the Prodigal Love series, Pastor Brock has touched on the definition of the word “prodigal” (as his wife, Cassie, also did in a powerfully vulnerable message this past Sunday). It is often misunderstood to mean “wayward” or “straying” as it is most associated with “The Prodigal Son”. But it’s very interesting to consider its actual meanings:

prod·i·gal

ˈprädəɡəl/

Adjective

  1. spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.
  2. having or giving something on a lavish scale.

Noun

  1. a person who spends money in a recklessly extravagant way.
  2. a person who leaves home and behaves recklessly, but later makes a repentant return.

Once we process these meanings and apply them to the parable of “The Prodigal Son”, we see that not only was the son a “prodigal” (see Noun definition 2). But his father was also “prodigal” (see Adjective definition 2) sparing no expense on a celebration of his son’s return.

In his book With, Skye Jethani tells this story:

Years ago I was walking in New Delhi, India, with my father. We were hoping to catch a break in the traffic to cross the street when a boy approached us. He was probably six or seven years old, skinny as a rail, and naked but for tattered blue shorts. His legs were stiff and contorted, like a wire hanger twisted upon itself. He waddled on his hands and kneecaps, which were covered with huge calluses from the broken pavement. As I had many other times in India, I wanted to close my eyes and pretend people in such misery didn’t exist. But this persistent boy wouldn’t let me.

He shouted at us, “One rupee, please! One rupee!” The little guy was amazingly fast on his kneecaps, managing to stay ahead of us and in our field of vision. Finally, realizing he wasn’t going to give up, my father stopped.

“What do you want?” he asked.

“One rupee, sir,” the boy said while motioning his hand to his mouth and bowing his head in deference. My father laughed.

“How about I give you five rupees?” he said. The boy’s submissive countenance suddenly became defiant. He retracted his hand and sneered at us. He thought my father was joking, having a laugh at his expense. After all, no one would willingly give five rupees. The boy started shuffling away mumbling curses under his breath.

My father reached into his pocket. Hearing the coins jingle, the boy stopped and looked back over his shoulder. My father was holding out a five rupee coin. He approached the stunned boy and placed the coin into his hand. The boy didn’t move or say a word. He just stared at the coin. We passed him and proceeded to cross the street.

A moment later the shouting resumed except this time the boy was yelling, “Thank you! Thank you, sir! Bless you!” He raced after us once again—not for more money but to touch my father’s feet. He blocked our way and alternated raising his hands with shouts of acclamation and bowing at my father’s shoes. He was literally worshiping us.

God has so much to give us, more than we are probably asking for in our selfish ignorance. We ask Him for one rupee when he wants to give us five. Actually more! We ask him for earthly wealth and temporary things when He wants to have a relationship with us! Just as the prodigal father rejoiced at the chance to once again have a relationship with his son. Yes, the creator of the universe wants to have a relationship with little ol’ you!

When you pray today, don’t ask God for anything. Instead ask for his presence in your life. Ask Him for peace in what you already have and in what He has in store for you.

Romans 8:18-30