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!

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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

The Good Parts

The Good Parts

by Phil Baker

I just finished reading William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride”, the book on which the classic movie is based. (SPOILER ALERT: We may be showing it this summer at Movies by Moonlight) I often like to visit the source material for movies. Not so much to compare them, but to get additional information on the characters, story or just to absorb more of that world. The premise of “The Princess Bride” is that a father had it read to him as a child. But as an adult about to read it to his own son, he discovers that his father was editing the book to leave out the boring parts to hold his attention with just “the good parts” – pirates, sword fights, R.O.U.S.’s. Thus the book often carries the subtitle “The ‘good parts’ version”.

the_princess_bride_first_edition

Throughout the book, Goldman comments on parts he edited out like Buttercup’s elaborate wedding preparations, her day-to-day training to be a princess, or whole chapters on the turbulent history of the feuding countries of Florin and Gilder. This is all done with the same tongue-in-cheek comedy as the movie.

The Bible has some good parts as well. We like to read those over and over. We memorize them. We quote them. We embroider them on accent pillows. This is all well and good. But the Bible also has some bad part. Parts we don’t like to read so we forget about them. They are often long histories, lists of rules, or prophetic warnings. I think I’m safe in saying this is the bulk of The Old Testament. But there’s value in the bad parts. There’s context. It’s exposition. We can’t fully appreciate the redemption in The New Testament until we fully grasp the repeated mistakes in The Old Testament. This is why I’m grateful when Pastor Brock preaches from The Old Testament. It forces me to go there, to live in and think about the perennial sin of the Israelites. Because it’s then that I realize I’m just like them. I constantly move toward God, then fall back into old patterns. One step forward, two steps back. I like editing out the bad parts of my life and just presenting God with the good parts.

We can’t always just live in the good parts. It’s healthy to visit the bad parts as well. We have to take the Bible as a whole.

“A church that preaches the Bible” seems to be what everybody is looking for. This kinda makes me laugh because every church will claim to preach the Bible. I think what people mean is they want a church that preaches the WHOLE Bible. But do they really? Do they want “the bad parts”? Or do they want just the lovey-dovey, ‘Jesus loves you’ message?

Pick a part of the Bible you’re least familiar with – maybe a minor prophet. Take the next few days, week or month and study it in your quiet time with God. Ask Him to walk with you through “the bad parts” so that you can also enjoy “the good parts”.

How To Talk To People About Your Church

by Phil Baker

Revive does a number of community outreach efforts. We have a table at the farmers’ market. We direct parking at the 4th of July event. We even have free outdoor movies! But while these efforts have been good intentioned, they haven’t bore much fruit in the form of getting people in our doors.

The problem is we rely too much on passive marketing to do the work – brochures, our web site, and branded t-shirts. We need to utilize active engagement to promote our church. This means actually talking to people face-to-face and letting them see and hear us, the church, for who we are. It’s not enough to put on an event or be present.

In my vocation I’ve spent a lot of time doing sales pitches on the phone or at conferences. I’ve learned a thing or two about talking to people. So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned to help you talk to others about your church.

 

Don’t be scripted

We’ve all had calls from telemarketers or a customer service rep from our credit card company. And I’m sure you can tell they’re reading from a computer screen. Their “How are you today?” doesn’t seem that sincere. Most people are savvy. They can see a sales pitch coming a mile away. And they can tell when you’re regurgitating company jargon or industry buzz words. So rely on your own words, your own way of speaking. Just talk about what you like about Revive and what you think they will like as well.

Be honest

Look, Revive church isn’t perfect. Nobody’s church is. So don’t misrepresent it or yourself by overselling it. Nor do you have to lay out all Revive’s shortcomings. That wouldn’t speak very highly of your church or the leadership. Instead highlight your church’s strengths. Share some things God has taught you recently through Pastor Brock, your Bible Fellowship class, Connection Group or some other church resource. Share how our worship service helps you experience God. Brag on our children’s program. Share what’s important to you.

Make the ask

This conversation can’t be a one way street. It took me a while to learn to stop every now and then and let the other person talk. So ask questions. Do they attend another church? What do they look for in a church?

The most important question I ask as a salesman is if “Would you like to buy?” This wasn’t always how I phrased it but, as a salesman, you always had to remember to verbally ask the customer if they would like to move forward. A cliché in the sales industry is ABC – Always Be Closing. How will you know if they want or don’t want your product if you don’t ask? So make the ask. Would they like to visit one Sunday? Would they prefer to try out a Connection Group first? Can you give them your number and/or email if they have any questions? Do whatever you feel comfortable doing to make sure you’ve given them every opportunity to tell you “Yes”, “No” or “Maybe later”.

Don’t take rejection personally

Generally speaking, only 1 out of every 10 encounters will lead to a sale. That means you will be told “No” 9 times before you get a “Yes”. This can quickly erode your morale. It definitely depressed me when I was away from home at a conference getting “no” after “no” after “no”. I had to keep in mind that their rejection wasn’t of me but of the product or company. Many times I felt I really connected with a person. Yet the product or service I was pitching simply wasn’t right for them.

Revive church isn’t going to be for everybody. Nor are we trying to steal sheep from another church. So don’t let it take the wind out of your sails when someone shuts you down or tells you they aren’t interested. Many people don’t want to make a commitment on the spot. Give them the grace to walk away in the hope that your encounter will bear fruit later.

Plant, water or reap

In all of Revive’s outreach efforts, we try to remember that our purpose is three-fold – promote the church, represent the Church and spread the gospel. This means we are there to promote our local church body, we are there to represent the greater Church body as servants to our local community, and we are available to share Jesus with anyone who is receptive.

In all 3 of these instances we have to remember that we can be either planters, waterers or reapers. Sometimes we’re just planting seeds that need time to mature. Sometimes we’re just providing water to already planted seeds that need more conversation, guidance or prayer to grow to the next level. And sometimes we get the joy of reaping what someone else planted and watered. Rarely do we get to do all 3. Be patient.

 

Show up for your Revive’s next outreach event and be prepared to approach someone about your church. You don’t have to be trained in the technical aspect of the event. Or just be relegated to setting up tables and chairs. Kingdom work is so much more than that. Use these tips to make your conversations natural, genuine and fruitful. Each person you encounter will be a little more informed about your church. Your church will now have a face attached to it. It will be more real in your community.