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.

Lent Reading Guide

by Toni Crosby

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017, ending on Saturday, April 15, 2017.

Christians observe Lent as a period of reflection on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.  While the crucifixion was a period of sorrow and suffering, it prepares us for the joy of the resurrection celebrated on Easter Sunday – a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

The observation of Lent traditionally includes Bible study, daily devotionals and periods of fasting.  Fasting gives us an opportunity to have closer communion with Jesus.  Clearing our lives of daily distractions will enable to more clearly hear Him as He speaks to us through His Word.

Fasting means abstaining from some of the things that we enjoy in order to get closer to God.  You may choose to give up certain foods (i.e., sweets, chocolate, caffeine,), tv shows, movies, social networking, internet, radio, music, or sleeping less.  You might abstain from a different one of these for each week of Lent, or you might give something up for the entire 46 days.  Fasting could also mean giving up one meal per day for the length of time you choose.  Of course, the idea is to sacrifice something you really enjoy, not something you don’t like!!

The following is a suggested schedule for the observation of Lent – you might choose to approach in a different way.  Whatever way you observe Lent, make it a time of spending time in the Word, meditation, and close fellowship with the Father through prayer. 

 

Week 1:  March 6 – 12

Theme:  Temptation

Action: Fasting from food

Bible Readings: Luke 4:1-13; Hebrews 2:14-18; 1 Corinthians 10:6-13; James 1:12-15

 

Week 2: March 13 – 19

Theme:  Recognizing and Responding to God’s Love

Action: Fasting from TV/Movies

Bible Readings: Luke 7:36-50; Romans 6:1-14; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15;

Galatians 5:16-24

 

Week 3: March 20 – 26

Theme: Recognizing Christ for Who He Is, and the Cost of Following Him

Action: Fasting from Social Networking/Internet

Bible Readings: Luke 9:18-27; Philippians 3:7-16; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1-11

 

Week 4: March 27 – April 2

Theme: Praying as Jesus Taught

Action: Fasting from Caffeine and Sweets

Bible Readings: Luke 11:1-13; Ephesians 3:14-21; Philippians 4:4-7; Matthew 6:25-34;

James 5:13-18

 

Week 5: April 3 – 9

Theme: Humility Before God

Action: Fasting from Radio/Music/Electronic Media

Bible Readings: Luke 18:9-17

James 4:1-10; Peter 5:5-8; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 5:3-12

 

Week 6: April 9 – 16

Theme: Suffering and Triumph of Christ

Action: Fast from sleep – get up early or go to bed late: spend extra time in Bible Study & Prayer

Bible Readings: Luke 19:28-44; Luke 22:7-23; Luke 22:39-46; Luke 23; Luke 24; Romans 10:1-17; 1 Corinthians 15:1-49; Ephesians 2:1-10; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; 1 Corinthians 15:26;  

Valentines

Valentines

Today is the day! Bust out the cash and head to your nearest florist, grocery store, dollar general, website or wherever  and make your purchase for the special someone before it’s too late!

I was joking with some friends and co-workers yesterday about the cynicism we often all associate with Valentines Day…… Of course Russell Stover, 1800 Flowers, Hallmark, Vermont Teddy Bear, Shari’s Berries, UPS and Fed Ex are all in on this day together to get our money! But maybe it is because we need them to be…. In the current era we live in we all have a common struggle to make time for relationships even the most special and sacred ones. Valentines Day offers us the chance to stop, reflect, engage and be intentional. We were created for relationships.

Love, relationships, intimacy and sex was God’s idea from the beginning. Relational intimacy specifically as experienced through marriage and sexual fulfillment is based in Gen 1:27 where God created gender. Song of Solomon hails love and sex as enjoyable gifts from God. Not taboo topics we don’t ever talk about….. Song of Solomon also exhorts us that love, intimacy and sex should be protected and guarded from the “foxes” that run rampant through the gardens of our hearts and lives. Foxes come in all shapes and sizes. These biblical passages along with others have MAJOR impacts on current conversations swirling in public and social media circles on the subjects of relationships, marriage, gender, love and sexuality. I imagine we might all find of few these today as we are scrolling through our feeds. Valentines Day is reminder for Christ Followers to be anchored in Scriptures which ultimately speak life into some of these tender areas we must engage with others on.

Since it’s a school/weekday work night I imagine this might spoil some of us who would otherwise have big valentines date plans. Tonight Cassie my bride and I are going to be on facebook live via the Revive Church page talking Valentines Day/Relationships with anyone who would like to join us from 8-8:30pm. We’d love to have you and your spouse join in with us and ask any questions you’d like. (Seriously anything is fair game.) Not going to promise we will have an answer for everything but we would love to chat with anyone who wants to join in!

Happy Valentines Day!

Pastor Brock

 

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Church?

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Church?

by Phil Baker

Revive church is about to enter a season of serious self-examination. We are starting a series “Rethinking the Church” which includes Bible Fellowship and Connection Group discussion times around the Transformational Church series. We invite you to join us in any of these forums.

It’s healthy to step back from the trees every now and then so we can see the forest. It’s good to do that in your personal lives as well. But when we think about “church”, what do we think about? I would guess most of our minds go to Sunday worship times. That is understandable given Sunday worship is the tent pole of most churches. But some churches have made a name for themselves by thinking outside the pew.

In Dayton Ohio, there is a Church of Christ that caters specifically to Heavy Metal enthusiasts. Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany Georgia financed a movie, Flywheel, which lead to Facing the Giants, Fireproof and Courageous. And in Floyd County Virginia, The Wild Goose Christian Community replaced its pews with a circle of rocking chairs and it hosts a weekly bluegrass jam session.

Each of these churches (little “c”) are true to themselves and a valuable part of the Church (big “C”).

If you’re not a child of the 80’s, bear with me. Many cartoons of my childhood included a team of characters that united together to form a larger, much more powerful character – The Transformers featured the Constructicons who united to form “Devistator”. There was also Voltron and the Power Rangers. The idea of teamwork was big on Saturday morning. So its always stuck with me. And that’s how I tend to think of church. We are a unique group of people that, when united, form a unique larger being that has its own specialized skills. We can do more as a church than we can as individual Christians.

So, what does Revive’s giant robot look like? Join us as we discuss these and many more questions about (little “c”) church, (big “C”) Church and how we all fit together.

I Want To Be A Scrooge!

I Want To Be A Scrooge!

by Phil Baker

Since we published our Movies by Moonlight “Family Christmas Movie Guide”, I’ve been asked which is my favorite Christmas movie. Actually my favorite is many movies – A Christmas Carol. It has been remade at least 28 times. And I enjoy reading the source material by Charles Dickens every Christmas.

Like most of you, I grew up watching the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge every Christmas. So I thought I knew the story inside and out. But with each new reading and viewing, I discover something new. Sorta like reading the Bible!

Most describe Scrooge as “greedy”. But I think of greedy people as those who spend money on themselves. What I notice about Scrooge is that while he does have a small fortune, he doesn’t live extravagantly. He lives alone in a stark, empty and cold house. He eats his bland gruel next to a meager evening fire. When the Ghost of Christmas Past shows him his younger self, Scrooge watches as his romance with Belle dissolves because he doesn’t feel he has accumulated enough savings. Scrooge’s security is in his stored-up, untouched wealth. What’s wrong with that? Doesn’t it make good sense to save your money?

As I meditated on this, I was reminded of Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Fool.

16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

This story also perplexed me for a while. It makes sense to store up your blessings and to have a well-deserved rest after your hard work, doesn’t it? What does it mean to be “rich toward God”?

The answer is given by Jacob Marley’s ghost when he visits Scrooge. He says “It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men.” We were made for relationships. We were meant to interact, to care for one another. Marley’s torment, the torment of all ghosts like him, the torment that awaits Scrooge, is that he will be weighed down by his accumulated wealth after death, unable to spend it or use it to help anyone. The Rich Fool takes the same risk. Instead of using what God has blessed him with to help others, he decides to plan for an early retirement.

This is counter to what the world teaches us. Any of us would be envious of someone who hits it big early and lives off the interest of their wealth. But what Jesus and Charles Dickens are both trying to tell us is that true wealth is in the sharing with your fellow man. It is in relationships. It is in giving and sharing…and helping. Dickens ironically gave Scrooge the first name Ebenezer, which comes from 1 Samuel and means “stone of help”. The Israelites placed a stone (as they often did) at the site of their victory over the Philistines to remind them that God helped them.

Most movie versions of A Christmas Carol leave out a scene that I find very interesting. The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to see Belle many years after their breakup, where she his happily married and surrounded by children. Scrooge witnesses a humble house filled with happiness and warmth, a home and a life that could have been his, something he surprisingly finds himself coveting as he stands alone in the cold street.

And so I find myself asking, what am I keeping to myself? What am I hoarding that God wants me to share with others? Who can I help? How can I help them? Maybe a resolution for the New Year could be to go forth and share that with my fellow man. I want to be like the Scrooge described on the final page of A Christmas Carol.

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

BTW, probably my favorite movie version is A Muppet Christmas Carol.

Fire Training

Fire Training

by Rich Garifine

In a recent Bible Fellowship “Sunday school” class the topic was basically personal evangelism. The conversation went the direction of looking for or creating opportunities to share your faith. The two main questions that arose were “How do you start a faith conversation?” and “What stops you from sharing your faith?”

Much of the conversation made me think of my career in the fire service. In my mind the two main questions are very simple. However, just because a question may be easy to answer, the execution may be a little more complicated. When you get down to the nuts and bolts of the matter, you see, it all comes down to training.

When I went through basic training at the fire academy we trained, and trained, and trained. Every day, every night, every week we studied, drilled, tested, and then did it again. The skills we learned became second nature and this eight weeks was only the beginning. We did not graduate and say, “Wow! I’m glad that’s over!” The training continued throughout my career.

Now, why did we train? Well its quite simple really, we trained because the nature of the job promised that we would be called upon to respond to emergency situations. We did not have to look for opportunities to be firefighters. The opportunities to use our training as firefighters would arise. Not only would we be called on but we would be able to execute because of our training. We were firefighters and that’s enough to perform our duties.

photo-for-phil

So to me it’s that simple. We are Christians. As Christians we will encounter opportunities to give a defense and share our faith. If Christians take Christianity as serious as we took the fire department we would study and train in God’s word daily. We would be able to confidently stand for the cause of Christ. We would not be put to shame for failure to perform our duties because Gods word would be second nature.

Would you want someone pretending to be a firefighter protecting your family? No. You want trained, serious personnel doing the job they love and performing the skills they studied and trained for.

I suppose the tough questions here are “Are you a serious Christian?” “Do you take the call serious?” “Are you willing to study and train?” and “Do you have a relationship with Christ that gives you the confidence to execute your duties?”

By the way, all of what I addressed is everyday Christian expectations. If you think everything you just read is the job of the pastor, your personal training is seriously lacking.