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The Faith Revolution Podcast
28 minutes | Feb 11, 2021
Interview with Robert G. Lee
In this episode of The Faith Revolution Podcast...I had the joy of sitting down with comedian and friend Robert G. Lee, where we chatted about his incredible ability to bring faith into a surprising world--Hollywood.Robert is a warm-up comic for many of Norman Lear's live audience sit-coms, bringing his unique clean comedy to the set, episode after episode.How does he do it? What drives Robert? Tune in and listen to our conversation--I learned a lot and laughed along the way. Grab a coffee, or get that workout started--and enjoy listening to a guy who understands the power of bringing faith to the office, and the stage.Robert G. Lee's BioNot Many Comics . . . Make the cover of The Wall Street JournalHave released eight 100% clean comedy videosWarm up audiences for Hollywood's top sitcomsCan perform the entire Bible in under 30 minutesHave written and directed a feature motion pictureWell known in the entertainment industry as Hollywood’s top warm-up comic, Robert is a veteran of more than 1,500 episodes of such shows as The New Adventures of Old Christine, Just Shoot Me, Becker and The Drew Carey Show. His job is to keep countless audiences entertained for hours between scenes and costume and set changes with rapid-fire ad-libs and humorous interviews.No stranger in front of the camera either, Robert has been seen on the Bananas Comedy series, Showtime's The Joke's On Thee, VH1's Stand Up Spotlight, Comic Strip Live and a variety of roles on such sitcoms as Wings and Perfect Strangers.Robert has combined his Christian world view with his Monty Python sensibility and written many Veggie Tales videos such as “Little Joe,” “Gideon” and “Sheerluck Holmes.”To top it off, Robert just released his latest comedy project, “Wisenheimer” and just finished post production on “Can I Get A Witness Protection?” a full length faith-based screwball comedy feature he wrote and directed.
36 minutes | Dec 21, 2020
"Immanuel" is a word we hear a lot at Christmas, so let's give it a different look. Kirk and Jenn discuss the simplicity of this name--even pulling in a Steve Martin movie reference--to help us see what the angel might have meant when he gave Joseph a heads-up on who he would be fathering.To ConsiderIf "God is with us," what does that mean for our perspective in challenging circumstances?References (Click Link)Bible: The Name of Jesus, EmmanuelBible: Book of Isaiah, The Name of Jesus
32 minutes | Oct 30, 2020
In this episode, "Labels", Kirk and Jenn discuss how labels affect our faith and influence. Including labels we put on ourselves, the labels we place on one another, and the actual labels God wants us to wear.To ConsiderWhat affect have labels had on you personally, both good and bad?In what ways have labels affected your relationships with other people?References (Click Link)Bible: Paul's Thought Regarding LabelsBible: Rahab and SalmonBible: Woman in AdulteryBible: Fruit of the SpiritBible: The Greatest Commands - Matthew 22:36 - 40Bible: Good Samaritan Bible: Jesus did Good, God was with HimAmerican Cancer SocietyGoodwill IndustriesKirk: It's great to have you on the podcast, and today is one of those uncomfortable ones. We're going to be talking about labels.Jenn: Labels. This topic has been something on my heart for some time now. I just feel like there's a lot to uncover in this topic for us, as men and women of faith.Kirk: There is. And I look at it as labels we put on ourselves, I want to talk about that. Labels we put on others, and then there is a label I believe God wants for us. So I want to jump in here and talk first about labels that we put on ourselves. And this is tough, because to be honest with you Jenn, there are labels that I'm very comfortable with. I want some labels. Are you the same?Defining LabelsJenn: Yeah, I agree. I think to really get to the root of it, first of all, labels are things we start collecting from the time we are very young. Labels are a natural part of human existence. I don't think either of us would even say they're bad necessarily, but I do think that they can become an enemy of who God wants and needs us to be.Kirk: Yeah, exactly, right. Well, I look at my life and there are labels that I have carried somewhat proudly at times, you know my work with Life Affirming Ministries, that gives me one label. Our faith can give us a label in some ways. I get very comfortable with those and I go, "Okay, this means I'm part of a tribe." And if I feed into that label, I know that I'm going to get some attaboys. People are going to go, "Go get 'em Kirk, this is great." And so I get very comfortable with that, and I want to live in the label and that's where it gets tough.Jenn: Right. Yeah. So maybe we start by asking, "What do we mean by the word label? How would we even define that word?"Kirk: Well, that's a good one. Well, I see it defined as things we believe, maybe theologically. We can look at denominations as labels, our beliefs, our political views. Our views on political issues can definitely be labels. I'm a this, political party, or you're a that because you are to the left of me or you're to the right of me, and so we got these labels that we create.Labels We WearJenn: Yeah, I agree. So what are the labels we put on ourselves. What are the labels that we put on ourselves that we carry and why?Kirk: Yeah, and again, I would say that it's because it makes me comfortable. I want to have certain labels so that people look at me and go, "I'm one of you, and I'm in the bunch, I'm in the tribe." I also want people to look at my labels and say, "he's not one of me." It's funny because I kind of create enemies that way if I'm not careful.Jenn: Yeah, I do think labels are very deceptive sometimes. Labels can be bad, that we are carrying like I'm not a good person, I'm not this, I'm this. I'm never gonna be successful. I'm a liar, I'm this. We can carry those kinds of labels that are very, very damaging to our identity as men and women in Christ. And sometimes, we're carrying them and we don't even realize it. It's so subtle, it's this narrative we constantly play in our head.Kirk: That's right. Yeah, and there are others that carry around labels of, the past I used to be this and so I'll always be this...Jenn: Right.Kirk: I was an addict, I'm always an addict. I understand the need to recognize the temptation of addiction, I get that, but when we wear the label, there are things that God wants to break through. He wants to break through the labels to something deeper, and I think sometimes we carry that label and it gets comfortable. We might say, "Well, I've always been this, this is what I'm always going to be," it could be our ethnicity, another label that we can wear. I'm proudly this or whatever it might be, and I know we're trying to be careful not to say the labels, because we don't wanna get that in our heads. It's just so hard because we do get caught up in these things. And you know, the fact of the matter is, Jenn, we're always going to have to deal with them in some way. But what we want get to in this podcast is how do we break through those to something deeper, that even if somebody sees us as a certain label, they see something greater than the label. That's where I want to go.Jenn: Yeah, I think just to me, to start with the labels we carry, that we put on ourselves, and maybe it is because somebody said something to us as a kid. Or it could be like I said earlier, the narrative of our own mind, a failure or whatever. I think a lot of us carry that into our adulthood and never realize it. But I think there's hope because I don't think this achieves God's purpose for us. I don't think it achieves the kind of fruit He is asking us to be. You and I talk a lot about being good fruit, we don't want to be bitter, we don't wanna be sour, we certainly don't wanna be rotten fruit. So how do we become that good fruit that God wants us to be? I think it's very selfish on God's part. He wants us to be good fruit, because that's what will attract people to His team, that's what will attract people to the hope and joy that He has for us. But when we carry around these negative labels, it can create a root of failure and bitterness in us. To me, I think there is so much power and just recognizing that's not Him. That's not what He wants for me. It's like a disease really, when I carry these negative labels.I think it's very selfish on God's part. He wants us to be good fruit, because that's what will attract people to His team.Kirk: And even when we create positive labels for ourselves, the challenge is our tribe. I'm comfortable with the label 'cause my tribe loves it. However, if we're talking about reaching people with the hope of faith, if we're talking about that, these people may see our label we're so proud of, in a terribly negative light and never listen to us because of the label we put on ourselves.Jenn: Yeah, I honestly used to look at it as weakness in myself when I would hide a label. For example, when I was with someone that I knew might get offended by a particular label, I would hide that label. As an older person who's lived a lot more life, I realize that that's actually strength and maturity. Of course, I think the enemy of God and the enemy of us as people wants us to think that if we're not proudly standing up for whatever label we think we're supposed to be carrying, that that's weakness. But I mean, look at Paul, look at what he said. Paul thought people were more important than labels. It is strength to be able to sit in a moment and cast aside whatever it is I think is so important that I am putting between myself and another person. I cast aside a label to just be in that moment of loving that person, that's strength... Wow, I want that.Labels We Place On OthersKirk: I do too, and so I'm having to rethink how I view the labels I put on myself. I want people to see something beyond the label, and so what is it? And this is what we're moving toward, what is it that God really wants for us to exude in front of other people, is it the label or is it something greater? And that's where we want to go, because first we put labels on ourselves, right, we talked about that. Then we put labels on other people, which diminishes our ability to reach out to them. Because as soon as I place a label on someone, I create all of these misperceptions in my mind. I don't want to look at the whys of that label, I just want to look at it and say, "Well, you are one of those, and maybe I need to fix you. Maybe I need to set you aside and not engage with you because you're one of those," and we lose so many, possibilities, so many opportunities to speak into somebody's life and to just engage with them and maybe be a friend.We put labels on other people, which diminishes our ability to reach out to them.... I create all these misperceptions in my mind. I don't look at the whys of that label, I just want to look at the label and say, "Well you are one of those, and maybe I need to fix you."Jenn: And I think it's one of the hardest things we do, because it's so much easier to have a label, to pick a side, I'm right, you're wrong. And just be done with it. It feels safe and it feels justified. I have felt very justified in some of my labels, and even as I'm looking at it differently, I'm still stopping myself and thinking, you're not giving that person a shot, you're just looking at them as a label, and that ain't God's way, that is just not how He ever does things.Kirk: And it's very subtle, especially in Christianity today, because this person has a different view on this particular theological issue, right? They're trying to follow Jesus. I'm trying to follow Jesus, but we have a little bit of a difference there. And yet we smile, and say we love you and all this kind of stuff. But underneath, they are always going to be that label in our minds, and I can never have full communion and full relationship with them. There's always going to be a sticking point because of their label. Maybe they are doing the same thing with me. What are we really shooting for here? We're letting an issue here or an issue there, subtly divide us. We do this all the time.Labels We Don't Want to WearJenn: Yeah, and I think too, it's... I hope I can make this point. It makes sense in my head but you know how that goes in getting the words out [chuckle]. It doesn't always line up, but I'm thinking about when I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 29. I got involved in the American Cancer Society, or is it the American Cancer Association? [chuckle]Kirk: No, it's American Cancer Society, it's ACS. You're right.Jenn: Okay, me and details. All right, so I get involved and I really can't say enough about what they do to help the families and individuals hit by this horrible disease, but what happened was right after I finished my treatments, (which was for anybody that knows my story, just grueling. It was just this massive attack on me in so many ways in my life), I had lot of people who wanted me to become kind of a spokesperson for this issue of cancer.Kirk: The face of the ACS in the community.Jenn: Right.Kirk: Relay for Life, and those things. Great. Great stuff.Jenn: Yeah which I love those programs and it's amazing what's been done. I would not be here without those movements and those fights to help find cures for cancer. I would not be alive today. And I'm so painfully aware of this, but it was very hard for me to wear that label, and I didn't want to. To be honest, I just mentally could not, because even though I knew there is a very high likelihood this cancer will never return, you know, there's still that small percentage that it could. And having to live in that place, I couldn't separate it. I wish I was strong enough to separate it and just do the things, but I couldn't. I think about very precious friends of ours that are post-abortive and they've been courageous and they are willing to say, "I did this," and wear that label, but the truth is, they are not that label. They don't want that part of their past to be their identity. I think that sometimes we think people want to wear a label, and we need to be so careful in assuming that. I think about people and their ethnicity, people in so many different places.Jenn: I think of some conversations with some friends of ours that, "You would look at them and you would want to slap a label on them," and they're like, "I don't want that label. I am a person, look at me, look into my eyes and see who I am, I'm not a label." So I kind of went on a tangent, but I just think this is such a powerful thing for us to realize. Labels can be damaging, and sometimes we don't see one another, we don't see our hearts when all we see is a label.The Labels God Wants Us to WearKirk: Well, we get pigeonholed into those areas and we can't seem to get out, and so we take on those labels even more and then, it all gets confusing. Here's the thing though. God, we know we're not gonna eliminate labels, put it that way, but God wants us to break through all of that to be something greater than the label, and that's the challenge we all face. I can't stop people from labeling me in certain ways, whether it be my political views, my theological views, my work, any of that. I can't stop that, but what I can do is rise above it, and that's what Jesus did so incredibly well. We were talking about it earlier today, you and I, when we were discussing this podcast. Jesus was labeled as a guy from Galilee. The Pharisees labeled him in all sorts of ways. Everybody seemed to have a label for Jesus, but every time they tried to stick a label on him, he broke through it, and he saw people in different ways. When people would see labels on people, Jesus would break through. We were talking about the woman caught in adultery, well, she's an adulterer, and that's her label. So let's stone her and Jesus, instead of saying, we don't need to use labels or anything like that, he said basically, "Okay folks, if you wanna play the label game, let's label things this way: Anybody who's not a sinner, go ahead and throw a stone" Well, all of a sudden they couldn't play the adultery game, they had to say, if we've ever sinned against God, we don't get to throw a stone. So he broke through all of that, and he found the heart of a woman who was broken.Jenn: Yeah, and we were talking too, I just love the thought that God loves to work with people through their labels, because He shines greatest in those moments. He gets to say, "Oh, you think that's who this person is? " I thought about Salmon and... Did I say it right?Kirk: I don't know.Jenn: Is it Salmon or Samon? [chuckle]Kirk: I don't know. All I know, is we find him in the Old Testament, and he's the guy who married Rahab, the harlot. Label... Right?Jenn: Right.Kirk: There's the harlot label...Jenn: She's the harlot for all of history.Kirk: I want to say it again and again, Salmon is one of my heroes or Samon, whatever. But he's one of my heroes because this guy saw through the label of harlot and saw the heart, and as a result, Salmon and Rahab gave birth to Boaz. Boaz saw through the label of Ruth as a Moabite and saw her as someone he wanted to bring into his home, and then we see this line leading to Jesus. Leading through David to Jesus, and I go, "Okay, there's Salmon who saw through all the labels, and this changed the world, leading to our Messiah. Wow.Jenn: I have goosebumps right now thinking about the power of God to say, "I will not be limited by your labels. Humanity, I will not play your games." I want to be the kind of person who is running through life with the new lens of freedom, where when I do have a moment with somebody, it's me and you, we're in this together, I'm not going to allow a label to get between me and you and the love of Jesus Christ, his death, burial, resurrection, and the freedom that He can bring to us beyond anything. These labels become ridiculous. Kirk: I was hoping you'd use that word, I thought, "if she says ridiculous, I'm with her".Jenn: As your sister would say, " Ridonkculous."Kirk: Yeah, [chuckle]Jenn: You know, I don't care what it is. What label is more powerful than the label of Jesus Christ on our lives? You think your ethnicity, your gender, your wealth status or lack thereof compares? What label is more powerful than the label of Jesus Christ stamped on you? Which isn't a label, it's not a label because it can't be removed. It's there to stay.Kirk: That's right, it is there to stay. And I think Jesus showed us, how to break through this stuff. And again, he did it with the woman caught in adultery. He did it with Samaritans. We tell the story of the woman at the well and how he went through Samaria and talked to her and she said, "You Jews," label, "you don't speak to us, do you?" And he offers her living water, and this Samaritan woman, there's the label again, ends up becoming the first person that he says plainly to, "I'm the Messiah," and she becomes, his first evangelist, because she goes and talks about Him. Later on, we're talking about the greatest commandments, and Jesus says, "You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." And the second commandment is like it, you should love your neighbors as yourself. He gets a question, who's my neighbor? And he tells the story--of all people--of a Samaritan who reaches out to help, and so he blows up the idea of labels through a story of what love looks like. And I think Jesus was committed to looking beyond the labels, to break through labels to the heart of the matter.Fruit of the SpiritKirk: And I look at us, Jenn, and people will label us in different ways, and I don't need to go through all of them, but despite those labels what will someone see? " They may say, "Well, Kirk has
24 minutes | Aug 2, 2020
It's Okay When You're Not Okay
In this episode of The Faith Revolution Podcast, It's Okay When You're Not Okay, Kirk and Jenn discuss the importance of transparency in our faith and relationships. References (Click Link)K-Love Fan AwardsDarren MulliganHeartbeat InternationalStephen's DeathIt's Okay When You're Not Okay TranscriptAn Inspiring Song...Kirk: This is Kirk.Jenn: And this is Jenn Kirk: And it's great to have you on the Faith Revolution Podcast today. We're going to be talking about a subject that's not easy for me, because it's about transparency, and about being real, and how that can make our faith a little more attractive to those around us if we're willing to be transparent.Jenn: You're known across the country for your transparency, that's one of the things people love about you. But it's funny, because there's always a deeper level.Kirk: There is. I guess, how I got to this subject is last year, you and I got invited to the K-LOVE Fan Awards with some friends and we heard the song Maybe It's Okay by Darren Mulligan and We Are Messengers. And so we're sitting here and we're listening to that, and it's the first time I had heard the song, but you had heard it before, right?Jenn: Right. I was already in love with the song, I had been listening to it for quite a while.Heartbeat ConferenceKirk: You're way ahead of me on so many things on a deeper level. But listening to the song and he talks about, "Maybe it's okay to be not okay, maybe it's alright if I'm not alright." And I think, wow, that . . . To me, that resonated for some reason, listened to the song a little bit more, and this year, I work with Heartbeat International, and we had a conference scheduled for Seattle, an in-person conference. Then the COVID epidemic comes up and we have to go virtual. Well, I thought, you know what? Since we have to go virtual and I'm here in Nashville, let me see if I can connect with someone in Nashville who can give a virtual welcome to our audience.And we had heard Darren and We Are Messengers at a worship event in DC earlier in the year as well. I reached out on Instagram, and if anybody knows how those messages work, you don't necessarily go to your messages from people who you don't know. But he did, he found my message and said, "So what are you looking for, and who are you?" And I emailed him back, got in touch either through messenger or email, and then it was funny because he got the message on a Saturday, and by Saturday evening he had cut a perfect intro, a perfect welcome for our 1500 folks who were going to be attending virtually. It was just amazing.Jenn: Well, and we listened to it, and not only that, but as you and I were sitting there listening, we were out on our back porch and we were both in tears listening to what he said in his heart, and it just . . . I'm feeling teary-eyed right now talking about it, because he was real, and it's so awesome when you see someone who is involved in a very public position in worship, and in this case in Christian music, and you realize they're real, and they do care and they do love people and they love the Lord. And that was really precious to me.Kirk: But in my emails, I said, "Hey, 30 to 45 seconds would be great," and he comes back and he says, "Is it okay if it's a minute and a half?" and I'm like, "Yeah, it's great if it's a minute and a half." And again, I think what really impressed me is he didn't need to give me the time of day. And I wouldn't have felt bad because I know that Christian artists and others get so many requests and they can't say yes to everybody, but he did, and he put his whole heart into it and he captured the heart of our conference perfectly. That just made me say, "Okay... " in fact, I emailed him later, said, "I wanna get coffee with you." And so we've got a very tentative coffee planned atsome point in the future. But anyway, that got me thinking on this whole thing about how transparency, that maybe it's okay to not be okay, really makes our faith more attractive and we don't realize it does.A Revolutionary ThoughtJenn: Well, here's a weird thing, when I first heard this song on K-LOVE, I was sitting there and thinking, "Wow, I can't... " I don't know, it just felt like this is kind of revolutionary, this isn't necessarily the normal Christian narrative. It's saying something kind of to challenge us. And that song was needed, that's the funny thing about it. Those words were needed, in a weird way more than we could imagine going into the COVID crisis, this idea that it's okay when we're not okay. I think so many of us as Christians have been challenged through this season. "I don't feel okay. In fact, I feel pretty terrible right now and frightened," and it's challenged us to say, "But I'm supposed to have faith, I'm supposed to trust in Jesus. He's got this," right? But talking to a lot of people, a lotof friends, thank you friends for being so real, it hasn't felt okay.Kirk: Yeah, I mean, there have been times... Deep down in the core of my being I know that God is going to work through this. And frankly, you and I have seen some miracles through this in our own lives, but there is that niggling thing in the background that tells me, "What if it doesn't all work out?" I mean, I've looked at my work, I'm a speaker, I go out and speak at events, and people said, "Well, how are you doing?" And the temptation has been to say, "Oh, I'm great. I just trust God and God is going to work through this and I'm looking for Him to do some amazing things," and you know I am, but at the same time, I have to admit there are times when I question, is He really gonna pull us through?Jenn: Well, it's funny because we're weeks into all of this now, and one of my dearest friends, yesterday was the first time I really just opened up to her and said, "Hey, our finances have really been honestly in question and in a mess. We haven't known for sure what we were going to do." And I just told her, and she's one of my closest friends. Well, why is that? Because there's something in me that doesn't want to say, "It's not okay," because I do know it's okay, I really do.Kirk: Yeah.Jenn: But what am I doing when I'm not just honest about it? I think sometimes we don't want somebody to fix something because people love us, and this particular friend, I know them so well, they would do anything for us and we'd do anything for them, but sometimes we just need to be able to sit in that place with each other and say, "Yeah, we don't know how we're gonna get through this. We don't know what's on the other side of all of this."Kirk: That's right, and being able to delineate between, ultimately, yeah I trust him, but there are times when we just don't. And I was reading this morning before we came in here about that time when the storm hit Jesus and the disciples on the lake and he's asleep, and they're, "Hey, wake up, wake up, this thing, my goodness, we're about to go under," type of stuff, and Jesus says, "O ye of little faith." And I've always looked at that, Jenn, and I don't wanna take us down a rabbit trail, but I think it's really important. I've always looked at that, is Jesus being a little bit ticked off? "How could you guys not have faith after all the things you've seen?" And I'm not saying that there maybe weren't those times, but my first response is to think that Jesus is ticked off at them. How could you not be there with faith? You've seen these things, you know... And of course he calms the wind and the sea and everything's cool, but I wonder if maybe... And I wasn't there, which is gonna shock everybody. I wasn't in the boat.Kirk: But I wonder if he didn't kinda have a smile on his face and go, "Ah, little faith guys, it's okay." But he wasn't angry, 'cause I feel like when I fall short in my faith and I'm questioning, that my first thought is sometimes, "God's kind of mad." And I've heard it said that having no faith or having not enough faith is kind of a sin, if we're not trusting God we're sinning. And then I'm putting myself in this guilt category that not only is my faith struggling, but I'm also sinning, so I'm really in trouble.It's Okay When You're Not OkayJenn: And this is real, these are the things we struggle with. I know it's funny because you saying this reminded me, I'm a cancer survivor, and when I was going through all of that with cancer, people would come to me and they... I mean, you don't mean to, but they would be like, "What are you learning? What deep truths are you gaining from God in this time?" Because what did they want? They wanted me to be okay.Kirk: Yeah. They did.Jenn: They wanted me to be good.Kirk: And when you're sitting there going, "You know what I'm thinking, I'm thinking I just threw up and I'm about to again. That's what's really going through my mind right now," or whatever it was.Jenn: Right. Well, and pardon the word, but I remember thinking in my head as somebody asked me that one time, "I'm thinking life sometimes just really sucks," and that's what I was thinking. I didn't say that because I knew that person needed something different from me at that moment. But I'm telling you, it is really... Sometimes, if we're just being real, things don't make sense, things aren't easy. When there's an illness, when there's financial struggle, it's just sometimes it's hard, and sometimes it is absolutely not okay.Kirk: And going back, I think that my next thing is when they are hard and when they're not okay, and when I'm struggling a little bit, I'm afraid almost to tell God, "I'm afraid right now," because that's lack of faith, a sin. And I'm in this cycle that I can't get out of, instead of just putting it out there and being not okay a little bit, because I don't view Him as father, I see Him as taskmaster. Jenn: Right. And I think that also leads, like what I did with cancer, is I didn't wanna tell people, "Look, I can barely pray right now, I can't read my Bible. I'm so sick I'm not doing the things that people with faith should be doing. I'm not doing it right now." Well, I didn't tell people that because I didn't want to ruin maybe my image, what I thought their expectation was of me. I don't know, I would have to think through that, but man, we don't wanna say it to one another sometimes.The Love of TransparencyKirk: Yeah, and I think that's kind of where we're going today, is it's okay to be more transparent. You mentioned in the beginning of this that that's one of the things I do. I realize when I go out and speak that the one compliment that to me is higher than anything else is people say he was transparent. I'm kind of giving people permission in some ways, 'cause sometimes I'll tell a story that when the kids were little the person I was married to left us, and I was kinda high and dry raising three kids on my own, and I remember being angry at God. I was working in a ministry at the time and I remember yelling at God one night and saying, "You pulled the rug out from under me. How could you do this?" Blaming God for something that wasn't his fault. But at the same time, it was a real struggle of faith at the time, and I came through that and kinda laughed with God later on and said, "But I got nowhere else to go," but I had to walk through that time when it wasn't okay, when my faith was wrecked. And sharing that with people, I've heard people come up and say, "Hey, thank you for sharing that 'cause I feel the same way."Jenn: Well, the natural inclination we have as people is to fix it. And so we wanna bring the right Bible verse, or we wanna bring, "Well, this happened to me," and sometimes really the best thing... I heard somebody say this once, the best thing you can do is just take the casserole, say "I love you," and you cannot fix it. The best thing you can do sometimes is walk beside someone in their sadness and their pain, have a listening ear, you cannot fix it, and that's gotta be okay, you know?Kirk: And what was okay for me is that I was able to share this with friends. And I had a group of close guys that they just allowed me to vent and talk about the struggles I was in, and they didn't say a stinking word. That's what meant a lot to me is they weren't... This is what made them so close to me during that time, is there wasn't, "Well, Kirk, you really need to pray through that issue." It's funny, 'cause there's one person in that situation who was constantly trying to correct me through there, and I was listening because I thought I need a corrector maybe, but I realized that the real help came from those who listened. And that was just an amazing thing in my life.Not Okay with Another BabyAnd another thing I've shared when it comes to transparency is, as many of the listeners know, I speak at life-affirming ministry events, pregnancy help ministries. That's what I do. But we faced a time right after we got married, six months after we got married, when we found out we had a baby on the way, and I am the pro-life guy and I'm supposed to be excited about this, my faith tells me this is a gift from God, but what hit me was, "I'm going to be 65 when this kid graduates high school. I'm never gonna stop parenting." And I just wasn't happy like I was supposed to be, I wasn't doing the Christian thing.Jenn: Well, for me, it was a little bit different feeling because I didn't think I could have children, and then bam, we're having a baby. And I thought our older kids were God's blessing and provision for me, but the truth is, just being real about it, we had lots of plans. We were gonna travel, we were going to do stuff, and it all got put on hold because, "Oh, we're gonna be parents of a new born."My faith got rocked and I had to be reminded that children are a gift from God. - KirkKirk: Yeah, and I was... My faith got rocked there, and I had to over time come to therealization that if God says Children are a gift, get to that point where you recognize it's a gift. And it took me a while. And I'm thankful that you were there, who walked me through that time a little bit, and others were there too, and got excited for us to help me get excited about that one.Jenn: Yeah. It was really hard for me to hear you say that for the first time, 'cause I didn't fully get the gravity of how you had felt, but yeah, just that we could be in that moment together, I hope I was there for you.Kirk: You were.Jenn: And just know like, "Wow, this is not what I wanted, and right now I don't feel okay." But He did work in our hearts, your heart. I was in a different place than you.Kirk: Well, yeah I was in that place that said, "I've raised these three kids for nine years on my own and I'm ready for a break. I'm ready to rest, I'm ready to say I made it through that trial of nine years as a single dad. It's over, life is gonna get on the easy track now." It got on the more challenging track.Jenn: No diapers to change, middle of the night waking up, and now we're facing teenage years again after all this time, so.Kirk: Yeah, and it's great, but when I tell that story to audiences, that I wasn't excited, when I put the transparency forward, what is freeing is, again, every time I share that story, someone will come up, almost every time, and say, "I've never told anybody that but I was an older woman and I just, at 41, 42, I just wasn't ready for this. It was hard. And thank you for sharing that it was hard for you, because you get up there and you're the speaker, and the idea is you're supposed to have it all together."Jenn: Right. Well, and we put that on one another as Christians so much more than I think we realize.Kirk: Yeah.Jenn: And it's been a journey you and I have been on and we've talked about so often, we're not helping one another when we put these expectations of, whether we realize it or not, of sort of this perfection, that if I am a good strong Christian, then I don't walk through... If I'm walking through the valley, I'm doing it with my hands raised, and "Praise God," and "Everything's gonna be okay," and the truth is it is not always okay, and we're not really helping each other when we aren't real about the valleys, because then when our sister or brother is going through the valley, and it's real, and we hid the real of our emotions and our frustration, then they think they're failing, and they don't see, "No, you know what, been there, been at the bottom, and He still pulled me up, and I still got on the other side of that darkness. And it didn't make that moment okay, that moment was horrible, but I got on the other side and you will too." You feel like you're in financial ruin. No, you will get on the other side of this, whatever it is.Kirk: Yeah, that's exactly right. If we're transparent, people will come to us and we can be go to people. And we talk about how can we share our faith, how can we reach people without faith sometimes, and I think willingness to be real, even with those without faith, and put it out there so that they go, "Oh, well, I don't have to be perfect." 'Cause I do believe people who are outside of faith right now, they may look at us and go, "I kinda have to be perfect. I mean, I have to have it all together. They have it all together." Maybe it's alright, maybe it's okay if we're not okay with people who are yet to come to faith. And for those that are in faith, I do think we put great expectations on ourselves. I don't need to appear to be really vulnerable, I can do a little vulnerableness, but not too much. And I'm not talking about spilling our guts about every problem we've ever had, but I do think there's a place to be more real than we think we can be.Jenn: Yeah, and I think that the Bible talks about, the scriptures, we see Jesus and his followers talking about, "You're gonna know their Christians, they're gonna know you're Christians by your love for one another, how you pick each other up from the hard places," not, "They're gonna know your Christians by how perfect your life is, by how no matter what happens, you just don't care, it's gonna be all right." No, that's not what we're encouraged to think or say.Kirk: That's right, it's love's... Hey, you know what, if I'm in a position where I see a challenge and I go, "God has this, and I am totally confident," and I think it's great that we can share that with people. But at the same time, there are those moments when we're not so sure, and that's okay to share it too. We need to share all of us. It's not to say that if we're having a great time and things are going wonderfully well that we're supposed to hide that, no. But when those times come, when we're struggling. Be Real for the KidsYou had a moment like this with a younger Christian who came to you struggling with their situation, their faith, and thinking, "I'm not a Christian because I've struggled in certain areas."Jenn: And that was such an eye opener to...
25 minutes | Jul 22, 2020
Love Your Neighbor
Episode Transcript Kirk: This is Kirk. Jenn: And this is Jenn. Kirk: And welcome to The Faith Revolution Podcast today. It's going to be an interesting day, because we're going to be talking about loving our neighbor. And when I talk about loving our neighbor, it's easy to say, "Oh, we all know how to do that. We've read the story in the Bible," and all those things, but today we're going to take a different look. And I think it's going to challenge . . . It challenged my perceptions when we looked at it, and I know, as we've talked about it, we've had new things continue to pop up. So I want to jump right in, and I wanto to talk to Jenn and ask her a little bit about loving our neighbor, and how this all began. Just go. Jenn: Okay. [chuckle] My first moment of thinking, "Oh goodness, we have something different. There's a new way to look at this," was, we were walking down the street in our current neighborhood, and you, Kirk Walden, looked at me and said, "You know, I think, when God says love your neighbor . . ." Kirk: Yeah. He meant it. Jenn: He meant it. [chuckle] Kirk: When Jesus said that, he meant it. And that was just kind of strange--I hadn't thought about that before. But he was not only talking in the big picture. We know the story of the good Samaritan, where he talks about loving your neighbor. But what about our neighbor on the street? And in our previous neighborhood, we didn't have bad relationships, but we just didn't have a lot of connection with our neighbors, did we? Jenn: No, and just to put it in context, you are an extrovert. You will talk to anyone. Kirk: I love it. If I go into a store, I'm going to say, "Hey, how you doing?" When I check into a hotel, I get to know people, and all those things. It's just my thing. Jenn: You're that person where, everybody knows your name. When you go into the post office, or a place where you are a frequent visitor, people know who you are. That is you, Kirk Walden. Kirk: And at the bank, do I go through the drive through? Jenn: Oh, heck no. Kirk: I have to go inside. So, we are, right now, podcasting in the middle of the COVID epidemic, and it's killing me, because I can't go inside the bank. It's all remote, and it's just tough. Jenn: So that's who you are. I, on the other hand, am an introvert. Some people really don't believe me when I say that, but it's very uncomfortable, for me especially, to converse with someone I don't know. If I know you, we're great, but if I don't know you, it makes me really stressed. So that has been our marriage, and that's been my growth in the last years of being married to you. Kirk: Well, you say you hide behind me, but when we go out and see people or whatever. But fact of the matter is, when people see you, they are drawn to you, and I think a lot of people, I'm glad you shared that. Because a lot of people, I don't think, realize that you are an introvert. So here we are, in our old neighborhood, rocking along, we end up needing to move. My mom moves in with us, she had had a stroke, and we need a new place where we can create a landing pad for her. She had been downstairs in a house where most everything is upstairs. She couldn't be going up and down stairs for years, so we needed a new home. Take us from there, Jenn. Jenn: So, you would think this wouldn't be hard, but we had a lot of needs. We had a lot going on with our home. You work out of our house. When you're not traveling, you're home constantly. We home school. So, that's another component of life. We have older children, so we're constantly entertaining. We're constantly having people come and go. So we had really specific needs for a home. We looked and looked, we couldn't find one. We put an offer on one house. It was funny because, the house across from Moss Wright Park, we loved that house. But yet, there was something for both of us we weren't sure about, and yet it had the space that we needed. We put an offer in and we said, you know that story better than I do. Kirk: Yeah. They were wanting a little bit more, and we went up a little bit more, and we were competing with somebody else. And I looked at you, and we just weren't convinced. And I said, "If they want 1,000 more dollars, we're out." And we're talking the price of a house, so this isn't like a car, where you'd really haggle over it. We're talking a couple of bucks a month. That's it. But we decided, 1,000 more dollars and we're out, and they came back wanting 1,000 more dollars. And we were out, and so we were back at square one. A couple of weeks later, we thought we had another house. Jenn: Right. Kirk: And I remember, I was in the Midway Airport in Chicago. You were at church or something, it was Sunday morning. Jenn: We were putting an offer on the house that day. I was meeting with our realtor that day to put an offer on the house. And so, then, what happened from there is, I'm planning on us doing this. I'm like, "This is gonna be our house." I felt pretty confident. Kirk: And somebody comes up to you at church, and says? Jenn: "Hey, I hear that you are wanting to get a new home to accommodate the changes in your life. I just happen to have a piece of property. I want you to look at it, and if you want it . . ." Not only that, but this person is a contractor. "I will help build the house you need." Mic drop. I was like, "What? This is insane." So I went out that day, I called you. I'm like, "Honey, you've got to see this property." Kirk: And I remember exactly where I was. I was between A and B terminals at Midway Airport in Chicago. I'm right outside the bookstore that I love to frequent when I'm going through there, because they've got a wider variety than any bookstore I run into on the road. Well, just about. There's one in Dallas . . . We won't go into all that. But I'm in there, and we say, "Okay, we're going for it. And we're going to go see this lot." We called the realtor and said, "We're sorry, go ahead and sell the house we've got." Jenn: Which we hate, because we just love him. Our realtor, we just love him. And it was sad. Kirk: Yeah, it really was. But he sold the house we had. Jenn: Right. Kirk: Sold it for more than we thought we'd get for it, and we move into this new neighborhood. And so, I guess we'd say, all this to bring us back to what we're talking about, loving our neighbor. We believe God placed us here. Jenn: And it's funny 'cause I just heard a pastor speak out of Texas. It's actually where our sister-in-law and brother-in-law attend church, and we listened to a service from their pastor. And he was saying that he really believes God places us where we are to be in communities. It's no accident that that's your neighborhood and that's your hood. And that really resonated with me, because it made me think back to our own story of how we ended up in this place, and I just... You will not convince me that God didn't place us here. Kirk: So, here we are, walking down the street. [chuckle] Kirk: Talking about loving our neighbor. And it hit me. What if, in addition to all the global stuff that Jesus was talking about, he's also talking about our neighbor, right next door? Are we loving our neighbors? Now, we weren't against our neighbors, let's not say that. Jenn: No. Kirk: But we didn't really know them. I'd say hi, that would be it. But we decided, right then and there, we're going to be a little more intentional about getting to know our neighbors. We didn't have a great plan in place, or anything like that, but we just began to shift our thinking. Is that fair? Jenn: That's fair. And I think that I knew in my heart when you said it, it meant something big. I didn't fully understand at that moment what it meant, but I knew, "This is real, and this is gonna be a journey, and it's in an important journey." Kirk: I know. And the thing for me is, I've read books on say, Evangelism and things like that, and I've read the studies by the Barna Group and all that, that say, "X percent of Christians have never shared their faith with their neighbor." And I'm intimidated by that, because I think, "Okay, if Jesus said love my neighbor, then I need to be out there sharing my faith, I need to be talking to them, I need to be doing all these things, and I need to have a plan, I need to have an agenda." And all of a sudden, I'm intimidated and overwhelmed. Until we step back, and I realize, Jesus didn't say, "Share your faith with your neighbor." Now, I know there's gonna be some push back on that, and I get it. I wanna address that. But first, Jesus didn't say, "Share me, share your faith with your neighbor." He said, in that particular context, "Love your neighbor." Jenn: Right. And I think that's such an important discussion for us to have, because I think that when we talk about... It almost is a totally separate podcast, but when we talk about, "What does it mean to share our faith with our neighbor?" I think that we have to be careful, because what does that mean? Of course, I'm gonna share my faith with my neighbor, because that radiates who I am. But am I going to evangelize my neighbor? Those, to me, are very separate questions. It might demand a whole separate discussion for us. But for the purposes of what we're talking about today, how do we love our neighbor? 'Cause if I love you, my faith is gonna just pour out on you, if I love you. So, to separate those two things for this discussion, I think, is important. Kirk: Yeah, I wanna separate, because you're exactly right. What happened for me over the years was, because I was so intimidated by the idea that I needed... Any relationship with a neighbor had to lead to Evangelism. So, instead of doing anything, I just got nervous, stepped back, and so, any outreach I did was based in the context of ministry work or church work, and I skipped right over my neighbor. Jenn: Right. Kirk: That was my problem. And so, going back and saying, "Hey, he said love your neighbor." Now, the push back comes from those who would say, "And rightly so. Jesus said, 'Go and make disciples too,' didn't he? And aren't your neighbors people you would want to?" And I go, "Absolutely." But if we look at that carefully, he was saying, "As you go, make disciples," not, "Go make disciples," necessarily. "As you go." And I have found... I don't mean to be skipping ahead, but I have found that I have had strong, incredible faith discussions with my neighbors just by getting to know them. It just happens. Jenn: So, to help us, so we've given our backstory about where we both come from. For me, my introversion, and I also think, you're telling your story of what your perspective was on neighbors. I think my whole life I have lived through that lens of relationships through the lens of Evangelism, more than I could have ever imagined. If I can't have a personal faith relationship with you, it doesn't mean I wouldn't be nice to you. It didn't mean I wouldn't smile. But my investment in you was very low if I didn't see the faith perspective, if I didn't see the word Evangelism kind of... I'm gonna use that, even though that's not really how I thought. But if that wasn't present, then my investment in you was gonna be super low. 'Cause I'm gonna be real: I had an agenda. Kirk: Yeah, and that's what intimidated me is, I felt like I had to have an agenda, because I'm failing God if I don't have an agenda. My goodness, if I can't be evangelizing with this person, then why am I giving them my shovel? What's the use? I've got to do something along with it, instead of just loving my neighbor. And that's been a challenge for me over the years. I didn't realize it because I'm involved in ministries, I had the opportunity to share my faith bunches of times. And so, hey, that's good, isn't it, God? And I had church, could invite people to church, all those type of things, taught Sunday school, did all the things that I needed to do. I am sharing my faith, I'm doing good, so why... What is the neighbor thing, where does that fit in? Well, in my mind, well, I guess it doesn't have to, really. I need to be nice to my neighbors, but that's about it. And so, I never got involved in those relationships. And it's been amazing, as we decided intentionally, "Hey, let's just love our neighbors. Let's look to be a little more intentional," that I have had some incredibly personal discussions, which I obviously won't go into here, with several of my neighbors that I don't think I would have had otherwise. Well, they've shared challenges and different things with me that I don't think we would have otherwise. You don't get that just walking by and waving your hand. Jenn: Yeah. And I think that... I'm gonna try to transition into this. Another cool God moment through all of this was, when we first moved in, we just barely had moved in and I got a knock on the door. And I opened the door and there's this cute little lady, she's actually quite a bit younger than me, in her, probably late 20s, early 30s. And she has a gift for me. And she's just a ray of sunshine. And at the time, I took... What she handed me was a candle and a note, and I just... Wow. It was very special. But I wanna point that out, because it'd be about another year or so before you and I would go on that walk, and you would tell me love your neighbor, it really means love your neighbor, but she actually ended up being a very influential, and still is a very influential person, on how I see some of this. And I would love to interview her, eventually, about this topic, but Melinda, I love that lady. She was doing the very thing we're talking about, and we would end up having a lot of conversations about it. Jenn: But a God moment, it'll be like, the moment we moved into this house, that's to me, this sign of what God was calling us to do, is her giving me this gift. And later, we'd end up having quite a relationship with her that's been really special, but with a lot of neighbors. And she had already been laying the groundwork for community, really, without agenda. Kirk: And they did that. They had a dinner over at their house, around Easter time, and people came, and I don't think everybody shared the same faith, or whatever, but they just had one, and it was fun, kids were playing in the yard, and everybody had a blast. And we got to know neighbors we wouldn't have otherwise known, which has built some relationships that we wouldn't have otherwise had. 'Cause we'd had never even known where they live, now we now their house, we go by and wave. And you've had coffee with one a few times, and stuff like that. Jenn: Yeah, and it just built from there. It did. That was a cool moment. So, I digress a little bit, but, where do we wanna go from here? Kirk: Well, I think you're right on track, because we're talking about loving without agenda. And we weren't gonna throw this out there. We were thinking, "Oh, we'll leave this out," but I'm gonna put it on the table. One of the things we decided to do was just have an ice cream, social. And we're not here to give ideas and say, "Do this, do this and do this," because everybody is different. But for us, we just had ice cream, we didn't think anybody would show up. We were afraid that no one would show up. And it's funny, because we just said, "Bring your own toppings. We'll have the ice cream." And we set a time, gonna be on our back deck patio or whatever, inside the house. Our neighbors down the street came early, who we didn't really know, we had seen them one or two times. And now, they've become some of our closest friends. But they came because they felt sorry for us, 'cause they were afraid maybe nobody would show up. But we... [chuckle] Kirk: Do you remember that? Jenn: Yes. We love you, Russ and Kelly. [laughter] Kirk: We really do. And we had, I think, 55, 56 people show up. They just came from everywhere. A couple brought a dog and a child, and kids were everywhere, and it was just a blast. And so, as we talk about this, I don't wanna make a list for people. "This is what you need to do. You need to bake brownies when they move in. You need to... " None of that. What is it that's comfortable for you? That's the thing that I wanna focus on. What works? Jenn: I think this is such an important point you're making, because, especially women. I've read books, there are some really popular books right now out there about how we love our neighbors, or how we reach out to people, and how we're supposed to use our home for God's glory. And some of it makes me cringe, because I feel like we're putting burdens on people about what they're... It's just another rule. It's more legalism about what it means to be a good Christ follower. And I'm sorry, it's not the same for everyone. And I wanna be really transparent about something on my end, and I hope, maybe it helps you understand my feeling about this topic. I love having people over. We always have. That's who we are, our home is known as people. We love to have people over. But, here's my little secret. I don't feel like I'm a good cook. It's a proven fact. Even though you'll say, "Oh, Jennifer... " Kirk: As a husband, I must interject here and say she is a fantastic cook. She has low self esteem in the cookery area, but she's a great cook. Jenn: [laughter] Well, okay, so my thing is, for example, if I'm gonna go to a party with some girlfriends, I'm not that person where everybody says, "Oh Jenn, you've gotta bring that thing you make." And you're laughing, Kirk, because you know it's true. Kirk: I'm only smiling because I know it's funny, but not because I know it's true. Jenn: [chuckle] So I'm that person that's like, "Oh, why don't you bring the cups, and you can bring the paper goods?" It's just the way it is. If I am gonna bring food, I am stopping by the store on the way. It's just my thing. Kirk: Well, you gotta tell the story of our neighbors up the street, who had a child in the hospital, and your plan was? Jenn: So, Eric and Wendy, we really love them, they're become very precious to us, but they were going through a very hard time, and I wanted to reach out to them and do something special. So, I'm like, "I'm gonna cook them a meal." And so, just to put my perspective, I remember when we had Josh,...
33 minutes | Jun 11, 2020
Racial Reconciliation: Jesus Style
For Christians, the story of The Woman at the Well is a favorite because it highlights Jesus’ response of love and respect to someone many might overlook or dismiss.In the story of the Woman at the Well, Jesus did not dwell on this woman’s past. We don’t dwell on pasts, either. Jesus offered her hope. We do the same.But Jesus did something else which is well worth emulating. In a sense, Jesus took five action steps which—in our current times--we can adopt, paving the road to racial reconciliation.The Woman at the Well is also known as The Samaritan Woman. To the Jewish people, Samaritans were not just “different,” they were lesser people. “Good” Jews then, didn’t speak to Samaritans. Nor did they go near Samaritan villages. If a Jew had a straight-line journey taking him through a Samaritan area, he would add hours or days to his journey to go around these communities.In short, the Jewish view of Samaritans was one of contempt. But this wasn’t one-sided. The Samaritans felt the same way.In one conversation however, Jesus launched a process that would shift this dynamic, crashing the walls dividing these two cultures. Jesus’ conversation with The Samaritan Woman began with nothing more than a request for a drink of water. By the end of this story, a large number of Samaritans were following Jesus, a member of the very sect of Jews they despised. Jesus built a bridge of community across a chasm of hate and distrust. In our conversation, Jenn and Kirk look at Jesus’ five action steps which changed everything. 1-Jesus Went Out of His WayJews avoided Samaritans, right? Not Jesus. He made it a point to go through a Samaritan village and he took the initiative to begin a conversation. Not an argument, but a conversation. Today’s culture is full of anger, vitriol and screeds on social media. The Christian community has a golden opportunity to take the initiative to begin conversations in quiet places where peace can reign.2-Jesus Engaged the Samaritan WomanReading John’s account of this story, we find Jesus did a lot of listening. This was no one-way sermon, this was a dialogue where Jesus never reacted but responded in ways which kept the conversation moving forward. Today’s world doesn’t need another “Mic Drop” moment. Instead, we need open communication.3-Jesus Didn’t Take SidesWhen the Samaritan Woman attempted to draw Jesus into a debate over theological issues (“You people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship”), Jesus didn’t take the bait.Instead of focusing on where to worship, Jesus zeroed in on who to worship. “Believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father.”This is a fascinating exchange, because while in the next sentence Jesus mentions that “salvation is from the Jews,” He does so while inviting her to inclusion instead of exclusion.As we engage in conversations, we understand our role is not to take sides but to invite and include. Our world needs this more than ever, right now.4-Jesus Risked TransparencyWhen the Samaritan Woman told Jesus she knew “Messiah is coming,” Jesus didn’t hold back, revealing that He was the One she was looking for. Because we’re talking about Jesus, it’s easy to overlook the risk He took with this one declaration.The Samaritan Woman could have argued with Jesus over this. She could have laughed at His “delusional” view that He was someone special. Or, she could have walked away in dismissal, simply wondering how Jesus knew her background of having five husbands.The rest of the story shows the potential results of transparency. She went back to her city, proclaiming that she may have met the Messiah. Jesus took a risk, and she was willing to take a risk, too.Our transparency can be risky. But it can also lead to deeper conversations and sometimes, amazing results. 5-Jesus Invested in The Samaritan Woman’s CommunityThe story of The Woman at the Well doesn’t end with her telling fellow villagers about her encounter with Jesus. Not at all. From her transparency, some Samaritans began to follow Jesus.Then, these new followers requested of Jesus to stay longer. And Jesus, who usually moved quickly from place to place, stayed on for two more days—and long visit for Him—investing in the community. During this time, “many believed because of His word.” The final verdict on Jesus’ time with The Samaritan Woman? A wall of division fell. Samaritans joined Jews in following Jesus. A movement grew which would change the world forever.6-Jesus Highlighted the PositiveIt’s interesting that it was after this encounter when, in response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?”, Jesus told the story of The Good Samaritan. While Jesus’ story is presumably fictional, he chooses to show Jewish leaders an example of goodness through the very group they despise. Highlighting the positive disarms negative rhetoric--Jesus understood this.In today’s upside-down world, we can become overwhelmed with the news of the day, believing society’s problems are too big, too complex for solutions. We shouldn’t be. We’re not called to solve every issue. We are however, called to do our part to build bridges and knock down divisive walls wherever we can.Jesus showed us how. He went out of his way, He engaged in dialog, He resisted the temptation to take sides, He risked transparency and He invested in a community different from His own.Let’s continue to do the same. It’s a winning formula—Jesus proved it.
24 minutes | May 25, 2020
In this episode, Kirk and Jenn discuss tips for overcoming burnout. This podcast is for those who serve, whether in a ministry or a non-profit (business leaders might find this helpful, too).Our Starting Point for This EpisodeCircumstances that cause those in ministry to become jaded and experience burnout.Practical tips for avoiding burnout when serving becomes hard. To ConsiderAre you currently feeling worn out in your ministry or non-profit? How is this potentially affecting those you serve?Can you pinpoint sources of your burnout?What role do expectations play in your own experience? Although important, how can high expectations potentially lead to burnout?How have you unintentionally made someone your project or taken on the task of co-writing their story? What are specific steps you can take to release people and trust God to be the co-author of their story?Think of an example, when someone believed in you and saw your potential.What are a few simple acts of encouragement that would support others on your servant team?"Love Them Anyway, is one of the hardest things we do in ministry. We hope you find some encouragement in this free printable download of the poem Anyway by Mother Theresa and "Encourage Them Day After Day," from Hebrews 3:13. FREE DOWNLOAD, Anyway Poem and Hebrews 3:13* Special Note on these Downloads: Jenn designed this download and showed it to Kirk who said, "Well, it's flowery." Jenn's response? "Then, I guess it's for the ladies."References (Click Link)Paul Becomes a Follower of Jesus The Woman at the Well Becomes a Jesus FollowerHebrews 3:13 Woman in AdulteryGeico CommercialEpisode TranscriptKIRK: Hey friends it is Kirk and Jenn, and today on the podcast we are going to be talking about servant burnout. We all struggle at different times. I know I do, and Jenn it's a challenge that we all face. But there are some solutions to this. TIP #1 - IT’S OKAY TO FEEL JADEDKIRK: We can jump into just a few today because we're looking at different situations where this burnout pops up, where we get just a little bit jaded, where we lose our confidence in the work that we're doing, and we lose confidence in the people we're reaching out to. We can do that, it's a real thing. So, I think we need to talk about it.JENN: Yeah, I think you and I have seen it repeatedly as we've worked with people serving in ministries across the country. They are so passionate about these populations they're serving, yet they find themselves feeling worn out, and the burnout rate in ministry, especially on the ground ministry, is very high. And there is a reason. And I'm so glad that we're talking about this today and see if we can find some practical solutions for dealing with this challenge.KIRK: I work with pregnancy help ministries, and sometimes you have the person come back again and again and again. She’s single, pregnant. It happens a second time, happens a third time, and the pregnancy help center then becomes their go-to place to continue to have children out of wedlock. And you want to reach out, you want to provide hope, you want to provide help, but at some point, you reach that time where you just get tired, a little burned out. And it's because I look at myself and I say, I'm not making a difference. I hate to use this term, but I'm going to have to. It's easy to become a little bit jaded sometimes. I think we need to be real about that. It happens, and if you're out there listening, and go "Yeah, I've felt that," it's okay. Let's just talk solutions, let's not worry about it. Let's not beat ourselves up over it, and let's not hide it.JENN: I love that because it's like the thing you say in secret. And I understand that, you are passionate about what you're doing, but you shouldn't hide when you're feeling worn out. And I've heard the words “repeat offenders” (referring to those who return to a ministry again and again--without any life changes we can see), and this is often a term of defeat. But if we don't talk about it, then we don't get the opportunity to encourage one another, to support one another and maybe speak truth into that moment for one another.You are passionate about your work, but you shouldn't hide when you're feeling worn out. -Jenn TIP 2: KEEP HIGH EXPECTATIONSKIRK: Yeah, we need to reach out in those situations. And I think what we do is we design protections for ourselves. If we're not careful, these protections become barriers and walls. The protection we might say is, "Well, God is not calling us to be successful, He's calling us to be faithful." The interesting thing about this is, it's true. God isn't calling us to be successful, He is calling us to be faithful, but we use that as a fall back a lot of times. And therefore, if we use that as our fall back, if we get too bought into that instead of just setting it there and saying, "Yes, that's true. Now, let's move on and help people." If we fall into that realm too much, we get to the point where we don't have great expectations for the potential of people who come in the door.We simply say, "Look, this homeless person I'm reaching out to is this person who's in our food ministry, or the person who's caught up in abuse or whatever," we say, "Well, he's just calling us to be faithful." And we lose sight of the mission just a little bit because that person, we lower our expectations for them.JENN: I love that and it makes me think of when I was teaching high school, and I was teaching at a school where a large percentage of our children lived in low-income housing, at the poverty level. And it's so funny, I was a new teacher, so I honestly didn't know better. I don't know if I went back today, how I would view all of it. But at that time, to me, it didn't matter if you lived in the projects and you were in a gang. I didn't care, I was going to fight for you, and I had expectations of you. And I look back, I'm like, man, I was brazen, but it was "No, you will not put your head on the desk. No, you will write, you will bring paper." My expectations for those kids were high. And in my mind, they were not going to fail.And so that was so important. But let's face it, teachers get jaded, too. It's hard work when you're working with people who don't appreciate your hard work and they don't seem to be getting better. And how do you find that energy? So yeah, I think expectations, you have to start with high expectations.KIRK: And an understanding. Yes, there will be some who disappoint us. There will be those moments when we've given all we can give to somebody and they call us up and they say, "I'm not coming back," or whatever it is. I get that. But at the same time, I think we have to go into this work, whatever work it is, whatever ministry we're in, whether it's teaching is our ministry, whether it's working with pregnancy help centers, whatever it is, we've got to go in and say, "I would rather be disappointed than have that person who comes in, if they could read my mind, be disappointed in me because I didn't believe in them."JENN: It reminds me of a story from one of my girlfriends. It's funny, because we became friends later in life, but she was actually a student at the school where I taught, and she had struggled a lot in school. She would go in day after day and put her head on the desk and just sleep, and basically, her feeling was, "Why didn't they care enough about me to get my head off of that desk?"Now, I know she probably would have been an absolute bear, and she would have been a real pain in the butt, frankly, she had a great point. Why didn’t they have higher expectations for her?KIRK: Good choice of words. You didn't have to bleep that one out.JENN: She's such an amazing human. Her life is an awesome story, but in her teenage years, she was troubled. Her story stuck with me. I think she just wanted those teachers to care enough to say, "Get your head off the desk." That would have been faith in her, belief that she mattered and that teachers weren't just being her babysitter.KIRK: And sometimes, it's that person who says, "I believe in you." And it's hard sometimes because we look at the outward, and it's hard for us to believe, and that's where faith comes in. Can we look into the eyes of people and say, "I believe in you, I believe in the greatness that God has given you." -KirkWe're talking about the Faith Revolution. Sometimes, that revolution really has to begin with us, to look at people and say, "I believe in you, I believe in the greatness that God has given you." And it may sound silly but we've got to do it, we've got to believe. And I understand it's hard, I get it. Because again, the circumstance of what we can see, we can't see what God can see sometimes. And yes, we're going to get disappointed, but I want that person, whoever it is I'm working with, to be able to look at me and say, "This person believes in me," and I've got to be willing to be hurt. It's got to be okay to be hurt and say, "God, give me a tenderness there, that if she or he disappoints me, doesn't meet the expectations that I know you have on them, God, if they don't reach it, I'm gonna be okay with that." Jesus had to deal with that just a few times, and yet he did it anyway. And we see him with the Samaritan woman at the well, nobody believed in Samaritans. Those people weren't real Jewish people. "We don't even walk through their villages." Jesus not only walked through the village, he talked to her, he spent time with her, and she was about the first person, I believe, that he ever told, "I am the Messiah." First time he said it plainly, and he picks the Samaritan woman. He believed in her, he had expectations. And from what we can tell, even though the narrative doesn't go through her life, her entire life, from what we can tell, it changed her thinking and it changed who she was, so he did that. And yet other times, he'd share great truths, and people would walk away, but he was willing to be hurt. And I think part of it for us is, I've got to be willing to take the hurt when somebody doesn't make it, because yes, it's true, that can happen, and will.And in keeping with that, I think about expectations and not that we put expectations. I really think I need to use the word potential. We need to see the potential in the people we're reaching out to, even when it's hard to see. Remember Jesus saw the potential in the Samaritan woman. We need to see the potential. And we also need to get rid of this thinking that we're not going to reach them all. I understand it's true. We won't reach everybody, I get that, but I think we need to dispel ourselves, or get rid of that thinking. I had a golf coach in college who said, "They tell us you can't make 'em all (as in, every putt)." He said, "Why not?" And I thought, "He's right. Why can't you make them all? You're going to miss some . . . I know, I know. But why don't I go into each round that I play thinking I could make them all today. Who knows?"JENN: Well, it's like when you go fishing. Okay, are we going to take our little pole? Are we gonna take a net? And some will not get caught in that net, if you know anything about fishing nets, some of them won't . . . They'll even be able to swim through.KIRK: Wiggle out, yeah.JENN: But which is better? I think we need nets, I don't think we need fishing poles. I don't know, that's just a thought I have, it's like he's about the big picture of humanity. And we get so laser focused on one relationship or one person, and that will jade us. That could wear you out really fast. TIP 3: REMEMBER WHOSE MINISTRY IT ISJENN: Yeah, but I do have to say this. And you taught me this, at least you made me think about it.KIRK: So you're gonna push back on me on something I already said. That is not fair.JENN: You are correct. KIRK: We're going to cut this thing right now.JENN: No, I think that one of the reasons we get burnout is because we make people our projects. We kind of, in a weird way, take ownership of writing their story of faith. It's part of our book. We're the author of this relationship with somebody, and authoring their salvation with them. And I think that's a huge mistake. I have to sometimes be satisfied knowing I was a sentence in their story, and I may never even know the end result of the seed that I planted in their life.KIRK: Another one I hadn't thought about until we started talking was the idea of “My Ministry.”If it's my ministry, then I need to see the results, because my ministry is lousy if I don't see results. No, I'm a part of God's outreach through Jesus Christ. He's reaching out to people. And guess what? I get to play a role here. And as you said that I said that you are pushing back on me, whatever. But as you said, we may be a sentence in their story, in their entire volume of their biography. We may be a sentence, we could be a paragraph, we could be a chapter. And we may be weaved throughout their story all the way through the chapters. We don't know, but when we decide that their book is kind of “my” book, that I'm writing with them, then we’ve crossed a line. No, it may be that your character now moves to another place, and their character keeps moving forward and you have to trust that there are others. It's not “your” ministry in their life. There are certain things that you need to do, certain roles that you play. But you're not the end of their story.Sometimes you are only a sentence in someone's story--trust God to continue writing their story. -KirkKIRK: And I've got a friend who . . . I was sitting with him at Burger King, and he was talking about his faith and the moment that he committed his life to follow Jesus Christ. He's a great guy, has several adoptive kids and just talks about faith all the time, but as he was talking to me about it, he didn't mention my role in his life. And it hurt me just a little bit. He said, "Yeah, so and so did this, and that's what did it," and I had to go back and kind of go to the Lord with that and say, "He didn't say a word about me. And what about my part in his story? because I know I played a role leading up to a lot of those things." Because we had been friends for a while and we had talked about faith and different things. He was talking about the moment he committed his life to the Lord. That moment wasn't with me, it was with somebody else, but I had to go back and say, "You know what? I don't have to be the hero in his story. I could be a guide for certain points and I know that I know I played a role."JENN: And I think I've had that experience as a teacher. This happened every year almost, that I taught, and it would always be a shock to me every time it happened. I would have certain kids who were super quiet. 90% of the time, I would look at their face, and think they hate this class. And they do not want to be here, or they just didn't seem to be enjoying themselves. And we get to the end of the year or even sometimes a couple of years down the road, those same kids would write to me or come and visit me and say, "I just want to thank you." And then they would start talking about how that experience changed them, how maybe they became more bold and able to speak in class more confidently. I get teary eyed just thinking about it. Sometimes, it's the people who look the hardest or are the coldest in our lives and in our moments that actually are being changed or being helped by us in a way we could never imagine.JENN: And I just pray for everybody out there right now who is experiencing a hard place in ministry, that maybe God will refresh that for you by bringing people either to mind, or maybe they'll just pop up for you and say, "Hey, I just want to thank you. You really have made a difference," and we need that reminder. And I think God can provide that for us, to help us keep that energy to keep fighting the fight to help people. TIP 4: PRAY TO SEE POTENTIALKIRK: And I want to hit on a couple of things there. What are solutions? What are some things--what can we do practically? Because I want you to come away from this podcast saying, "This is what I'm going to do tomorrow." And one that pops into my mind is when you are reaching out to somebody in a hard situation, one of the first things, before they even come in, say, "Father, give me eyes to see them as you do, to see their potential, and to speak to their potential with them while I'm there." Because it's easy, when we're jaded. We can get judgmental really quickly. We can be that person that says, "What is God saying about your lifestyle right now?" I don't know--I think that's more coming from a heart of being burned out, because by golly, we're just going to have to give it to them with both barrels. They're going to have to see it today. I wonder, if we step back and say, "Today, I'm going to talk to them about their potential, about the joy they can have, and about the fact that I believe in them, and when I get to a point to where I'm at that point where I want to say, "By golly, it's time to give them the judgment, I instead give them the potential."Because if you look at Jesus' life, the folks who he gave the judgment to were the self righteous who thought they had it all figured out. He didn't give the judgment to the hurting and the broken. When the woman caught in adultery came to him, he didn't rip on her for what she had done. He faced his animus toward those people who were judging...
26 minutes | May 11, 2020
From Skeptic to Follower
In this episode of the Faith Revolution Podcast, Kirk and Jenn discuss the simple journey of how Kirk went from skeptic to Jesus Follower. Our Starting Point for This EpisodeEntering this discussion, Kirk and Jenn considered the following . . .Kirk's personal story of becoming a follower of JesusHow Kirk's story differs widely from a typical evangelical progression of faith To ConsiderWhat are your perceptions of what it takes to become a follower of Jesus? Are there obstacles you personally experienced or observed in others when it comes to simply following? Did it feel simple or complicated?What are your own takeaways? References (Click Link)Paul Becomes a Follower of Jesus Cornelius Becomes a Follower of JesusThe Woman at the Well Becomes a Jesus FollowerEpisode TranscriptKIRK: Hey everybody, this is Kirk Walden, and welcome to the Faith Revolution Podcast, where you can find, simplify and multiply your faith. Welcome again to today's podcast, and I'm talking with Jennifer today, and we're going to turn things around just a little, and Jennifer's going to be introducing and talking to me. So Jenn, take it from here.JENN: Our idea today is to hear about your story. Your story of faith has always intrigued me. I've always found it very inspiring. And so I wanted to start by asking you the question... when you were young and growing up, what did faith look like for you? Was your family a church-going family? What did that look like? Church? No Thanks!KIRK: It was a little bit different. When I was very little, we lived in Southern California and we were a church-going family. My father had a title in the church, I can't remember what it was, it was a layman's title.And then we moved to Alabama when I was four. And we went to church as a family, but that began to drop off a little bit. My dad began heading to the golf course at a particular time. I can't even remember quite how old I was, but he would go the golf course.My mom continued to go to church. And as for me, I found ways to skip church. On Sundays I was often "sick" and I found a way to be sick. "I just don't feel well," or whatever it was, and I would watch . . . I would wait till 11:00 and watch Notre Dame Football replays on Sunday morning, 'cause that was the only thing that was on. I wasn't a Notre Dame fan, but that was it.Every once in while, I'd watch Gospel Jubilee and think it was kind of silly. But that was my . . . That was as close as I got to church and so I kinda begged off, and I went a few times.JENN: And about how old were you when you would say you kind of stopped going? KIRK: Probably seven, eight, nine, something like that. And I had somebody who kind of terrorized me in Sunday school and would push on me and things and nobody really noticed, and I didn't wanna cry about it, but also didn't wanna keep going. It just wasn't a lot of fun. And so I found a way to stay out of church as much as I could.And then when I was about 10, I was playing golf all the time. I had taken it up when I was nine, my dad introduced me to it. And then when I was 10, 11, 12, not only was I trying to stay away from church, but I began to gravitate toward going to the golf course on Sundays. And at some point in there, my dad began to say, "Yeah, I'll take you to the golf course." So that's what I was doing on Sunday mornings.JENN: So it wasn't like you were just in bed, you were hanging out with your dad and that was time you two had together.KIRK: Yeah, well, he'd generally go play with his buddies on Sunday. Every other Sunday, he'd play with me, but he'd play with his buddies half the Sundays, and half the Sundays with me, and the other times I just practiced. I'd just be on the putting green or on the driving range and I'd hit golf balls. I loved it. I could do that all day long. So that's what I did.The Academic LifeJENN: So I know your dad was a college professor.KIRK: He was.JENN: And how do you think that affected your ideas of faith or maybe just what church meant? KIRK: That's an interesting question. I'm really not sure. But he was around extremely educated people. What he did as a professor at Auburn, he conferred Doctorates in Educational Leadership.So he was teaching, actually he taught my principals, a lot of them. If I ever got into trouble, I remember one time in seventh grade I got in trouble and the principal said, "I so respect your father. I cannot believe this. And if I ever had to tell your father about . . ." And I just felt horrible, because I knew going through school I had to be a really good kid 'cause my dad was teaching these principals of mine.So it was interesting. But yeah, some really bright people in his department. They'd have department parties at my house, at our house, and just they'd talk politics and all kind of things and I'd just... They'd let me hang around. My parents didn't send me to my room. I was right there with them and I probably said some stupid stuff as a nine or 10 or 11-year-old would. But I enjoyed it and I learned a lot. Faith never came up.JENN: Ah, interesting.KIRK: I'm sure some of them went to church every Sunday, but I can't recall one conversation about faith.A Persistent Big SisterJENN: Wow. Okay. So then what happens from there? What actually changed? Because all I've ever known from you is a person where faith is the absolute foundation of your life. So how do you get from being a kid who really didn't grow up in church to the person that you are today? KIRK: It's kind of fascinating because I actually totally rejected faith at one point. My sister became a Christian when she was 14, she was three grades ahead of me, so I was probably about 11, somewhere in there, and she began telling me, "Well, you're gonna be saved one day," and I didn't know what she was talking about.When I was 15, she gave me a Bible, a red New American Standard paperback Bible, and I just put it on my shelf. I thanked her and then I paid no attention to it. She wanted me read it, I didn't. She told me, "The Lord's gonna come change your life," and all that. JENN: And she probably said a lot of prayers for her little brother.KIRK: She did. And when I say these things, it's not to her detriment, because she loved me. She wanted change in me, but I just wasn't interested. Thankfully she kept praying. Thankfully she didn't push me. She'd just drop little hints and say little things, but she did not push me.Golf over GodThere was a time when I was 15, after I got that Bible, when I sensed something was happening and I needed to make a decision about God. One way or the other I was gonna have to make a decision. I wanted to be a professional golfer, which as you know, I got to do for a short time later on. At that point I was so sold on it, and I realized that professional golf tournaments end on Sunday. I'm a smart kid.God is not going to allow me to play golf on Sundays if I give my life to him. So I have a choice to make. I can be a pro golfer or I can be a Christian. To me it was a binary choice, one or the other. At 15 years old I told God, "If you're there, I do not want you in my life, because I wanna play pro golf, and you just keep your distance. I do not want you."At 15 years old I told God, "If you're there, I do not want you in my life, because I want to play pro golf, and you just keep your distance. I do not want you."JENN: You know what strikes me is that you thought serving God meant your Sundays had to be free. What that tells me is that lots of people throughout time have thought, "Well, you know, I'm not giving up my Sunday," and that's the dividing line for them.KIRK: That or something else. We create rules in our minds that we think God is going to demand of us, and I'm not saying none of those exist, but He wants us more than He wants our Sundays.JENN: Yeah, and once you really get to know God, it's like, "Hey, I'd do anything for this God that I love so much, and that I know loves me." But that's a barrier for people.KIRK: It is. And it was for me. It was, "I'm going this direction, and I know you're going to make me do this so no thanks. In my case, it was not play golf on Sunday.So I was rocking along. In my senior year of high school, I was 17 years old, I realized I was not going to get that college scholarship I wanted. I really felt, "Here are the steps, first you're the best on your high school golf team." Actually, I was not the best, I was the second best on my high school golf team. "Then, second, you get a college scholarship." Well, I didn't have any college scholarships. One junior college offered me, and interestingly enough, it was after the number one player on my high school team said no to that junior college. The coach then called me the next night and said, "I've got a scholarship for you." Well, I knew whose scholarship it was.JENN: I'm sure you felt, like, "I don't want to be second."KIRK: Yeah, it was my good friend, and he ended up taking the scholarship to Auburn, and I was not going to junior college. I either wanted to play in the SEC or not at all. Here I was, as a senior in high school and I realized I'm not anything yet. I began going out with the boys and doing things that I'm not really proud of.A lot of people would have said, "Oh, he's a good kid," and I wasn't a bad kid, but I knew I wasn't living up to the standards that I expected of myself. I reached a point that senior year in high school and I just thought, "I'm not who I wanna be. There's something not right here."Part of the stress was knowing that if I was going to reach my dream of playing college golf, I was going to have to be a walk-on and hope for the best. I just wasn't who I wanted to be.If You're There God. . .KIRK: And I reached the point, honestly I think it was my sister praying, and I'm sure others out there. But I reached a point where I was going to sleep one night and I just said, "God, I don't know if you're there . . ." It's funny, two years earlier I'd said, "I don't know if you're there, but I don't want you in my life," but this time I prayed and I said, "God if you're there, you've gotta change me. You've gotta change me." And that's the point where things began to change.JENN: Wow, I love that. So, okay, you say that prayer, you're a senior in high school, then what happens? KIRK: Well, a few weeks after that, my sister invites me on a beach trip with her college fellowship. Again, she's a few years ahead of me. She's been in college a couple of years, and here I am living in the college town and she says, "I want you to go on a beach retreat with us." In fact, her boyfriend asked me too, they both asked me, and now they've been married 30-some years.JENN: Oh, so Keith asked you too.KIRK: Yeah, so they asked me if I want go on this beach trip, and I think about it. Of course I've just prayed this prayer, so you'd think, "Oh yeah, this is God speaking to me. It's time to go, time to go to the beach trip. He's gonna change me." I said, "I don't know." I wasn't totally excited about it. In fact, there was a golf tournament that same weekend in May of 1980, and I was going to choose between the golf tournament or the beach. So instead of just agreeing to go to the beach, I made a deal with God. I made a bet with God. In fact, I was quite the gambler on the golf course. I probably lost more than I won. But I made a deal with God saying, "I tell you what, God, if you're there . . ." Again, I've still got this if you're there in my mind, "If you're there and You want me to go on the beach retreat, make the beach retreat cost the same or less than the golf tournament (which had an entry fee of $15). You do that and You win and I'll go."KIRK: Well, my sister takes me to this Sunday night gathering in this college ministry. While we're there, the worship guy is playing a song on the guitar and he says, "Oh yeah, we've got the numbers in on the beach retreat and it's gonna be two nights." I am sitting there thinking, "Okay God, $15. You meet that goal, you win. But if it's $16, I'm playing golf." Well, the worship guy says, "It's gonna be two nights, $7.50 a night, so 15 bucks." And I just sat there, and I don't know what I said, but it probably wasn't good. I had lost. But I wanted to be a man of my word, and I said, "Okay, if there's a God and He wins this bet, I've gotta pay up. I've gotta go to the beach retreat." So that's what I did. I decided I'd go, so paid my $15.JENN: So no golf that weekend, you had to go to the beach retreat.KIRK: Yeah, and that was a killer for me. I'm seven days a week on the golf course. That's all I do.JENN: Yeah, that was a big sacrifice.KIRK: Yeah, I'm hitting 200 range balls a day. I'm chipping, I'm putting, I'm playing 18 holes, I'm doing the whole thing, and taking a couple of days off as crazy as it sounds is not good. I'm thinking you take three days off of golf, and that's three days of missing practice to get ready to play golf next fall. I'm losing it and, I can't lose a day.JENN: Right. It's hard for me to understand how that felt not being a golfer, but in your mind you could cost yourself your college golf opportunity.KIRK: Yeah, in my mind I couldn’t miss the practice. Actually, it's really good to take a couple days off from time to time, but in my mind I couldn’t.JENN: Right, okay, I see.Meeting Jesus at the BeachKIRK: So we go on the beach retreat on a Friday night, and I take that red New American Standard Bible. I think, "Okay, these are a bunch of Christians. They're probably going to be witnessing or whatever they do. They're probably going to be handing out little tracts on the beach and all this stuff, so I better at least take my Bible and look like one of them, 'cause I can fake it for a couple of days and then it'll be done." Well, I go to sleep on Friday night and when I wake up Saturday morning, it is pouring outside at the beach. It's not a hurricane but it feels like it, it's terrible. And I'm thinking, "There's nothing to do here. We've got no TV and they're gonna do Bible study all day long or something. I'm gonna be in the book of whatever in the Old Testament, and I don't even know where stuff is. I can't find anything." In fact I knew so little about the Bible, our band director, when I played in the band early on in my high school days . . .would say, "Okay, let's go back to Genesis," which meant the beginning of the song. And for the life of me, I didn't know what that meant the first few times he said it. Then I finally figured it out, but I didn't know Genesis was in the Bible. Well, I'm looking around on this Saturday morning, and there's some guys over there in their cots, opening up their Bibles. I guess I better look like I'm doing something, so I open up my Bible.JENN: Yeah. You wanted to fit in.KIRK: Yeah. And there was really nothing. I mean, I could just sit and stare at my shoes or I could read my Bible. So I open up that Bible, and I do open up to Genesis, because I don't know to go to the New Testament." I know there are two Testaments, but I didn't really keep up with that stuff. So you start talking about Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, and I don't know. I guess I could have named the Gospels. But anyway, open up to page one, Genesis and that's where I started reading. I read a few chapters and it kind of leapt off the page at me. It was interesting. The stories kind of gripped me, "Wow, there's a lot going on here," and I keep reading. Then the head of the college ministry, comes in and he says, "You know, I really think it's gonna clear up." I think we're going to be out on the beach in couple of hours." And I'm like, "Yeah, whatever." Well, sure enough, two hours later, the sun comes out and it's great. And there's no weather channel, we got nothing here. And I'm thinking, "This guy is a prophet. This is amazing. What did he do, pray the clouds away or what?" Now, that was my perception.JENN: You know what's kind of fun to me about this too, is that you started out thinking, "If you're there God, I don't want any of this. Then, if you're there God change me". Then shifting to Him showing up in $15, Him showing up in, "The weather's gonna clear," you know? Very simple things that spoke to your heart.KIRK: That's right. And look, I'm 17 and, I should have figured it out by now. But in Florida, in May, they don't have long fronts. There's thunderstorms that move on . . . But anyway, it meant something to me.And sure enough, it cleared up. We go out there, and as I get around these people, I realized they're not crazy. They weren't running up and down the beach telling people they're sinners or anything like that, we just talked. There weren't day-long Bible studies, not that there's anything wrong with that.But they were just regular normal people, but they had a faith. And I laugh at it now, these guys that I'm looking up to were barely older than me. I'm a senior in high school and they are these mature college men.We were sitting by the pool, and this guy says, "You know, if you stand up for the Lord, He's gonna stand up for you." And I thought, "Man, this wise sage has shared one of the great truths of life with me."And I don't know whether he was struggling. I don't know what was going on in his life, and whether he was some great spiritual leader or what, but that hit me. I'm like, "Wow, that's really cool." And I think the big thing to me was this was a college student, because I thought that once you get to college you don't need to do any church stuff anymore, you can be done with that. In my mind real grown up college students, were done with that stuff. That's Sunday school stuff. And yet this college student still believed and he had made it his own. I think that's kind of what hit me. This is not necessarily what his mommy and daddy taught him.I just saw a group that,...
15 minutes | Apr 22, 2020
What is Faith?
Welcome to the Faith Revolution Podcast with Kirk and Jenn Walden. It’s great to have you with us. In this episode, we are considering the seemingly simple task of asking the question… What is faith? We challenged ourselves with some new and simple perspectives on faith during this morning coffee discussion.Getting StartedAs we entered this discussion, Jenn and I considered the following. . .How is faith defined by most Christians?How have we personally defined faith and how would we express the concept to others?In considering the meaning of Emmanuel (God is with us), how do both the name and life of Jesus form the foundation of faith for every Christian?What is the “Good News” and how should that understanding influence our interactions with those who do not consider themselves Christ followers?Individual and Group ReflectionHow would you have defined faith prior to this podcast? Did you find the term easy or difficult to explain to yourself and others?As you reflect on personal experiences, how have you embraced or struggled with the concept that “God is with you” and “God is for you”?How were your own views of the “Good News” supported or challenged by this podcast?What are your own takeaways?Click here for Bible Reference Hebrews 11 .Episode TranscriptHOW DO WE DEFINE FAITH?KIRK – When faith comes from my direction, I automatically go to the Bible, specifically Hebrews Chapter 11. The first thing I want to say is, “Well, it’s right there. Hebrews 11:1 says, “now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” But when we go there, I want to ask about the why. How do we get to that kind of faith? What’s the why that helps us understand the sentence? And, Jenn, you were talking about Jesus a few days ago, and who He is and the importance of His name. And this kind of lit something up in me, so I want you to share a little bit of that.JENN – Well, for me, it’s been a weird journey because I think faith has become somewhat of a religious word, and sometimes I’ve had to stop myself and think, “What does it actually mean?” In real application, in real life, what does the word faith mean, and how would I even be able to explain what faith is? So for me, faith has become a churchy word, and I’m left to question in a real world with real hurt and real need, how do I make faith accessible to people? One of the things that really hit me is that the center point of my faith is Jesus Christ. For me, that is what faith is all about. And then I began thinking, “Okay, the name of Jesus, what’s so special about that name? You know God will move mountains for that name?” So I was motivated to dig a bit deeper about the name of Jesus. There are many things said about the name of Jesus in both the Old and New Testament, but then it really hit me, “Oh wow, His name means, ‘God is with us’.”KIRK – Emmanuel, God is with us. He’s on our side. Before I can start to have that Hebrews kind of faith, the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, I’ve got to wake up every morning and say, “God is with me.” He sent Jesus to tell me that message. God is with me no matter the circumstances. We can get caught up and disabled in the wrong focus of faith … For example, faith means I can do anything or faith means everything goes away that’s bad in my life. No, I believe faith is knowing that in spite of the circumstances, God is with us. No matter what I see out there, God is with me. As we explore faith, I think it all starts with that very simple concept. He’s with us.FAITH IN HARD PLACESJENN – I love this side of it, too… God is with us and God is for us. And I love what you just said because life has trauma, tragedy, and trials. It’s simply part of our human existence. But at the end of the day, my faith has to say, “but He is for me,” just like you said, even when it doesn’t look like it.KIRK – That kind of faith can be a challenge. But if we could get to that point in our lives, where we woke up in the morning, with the firm belief that He’s for me, and if He’s for me and with me, that means that my day counts. Even though I don’t always understand how it counts. I may reach one person, I may not reach anybody, I may be just working in my office. Who knows what it might be, but at the same time, He is with me. He’s looking for ways to help me and to allow me to do those things He’s called me to do, whatever they might be.If I remember God is for me, then I’m convinced my day counts. Kirk JENN – Yeah. And if I’m slogging through life because I’ve been hit upside the head by challenge, faith is the ability to get up each day and say, “I don’t understand why this is happening in my life, but I’m gonna take one more step today, I’m gonna move forward because I know there’s hope. I know there’s something on the other side of all this pain that I’m experiencing right now.”GOD IS FOR YOU vs YOU ARE A SINNERKIRK – But I’m looking at our churches today, the church, the big church, regardless of what denomination we’re in (we’re all in this thing together), and I think sometimes we’re really focusing on, “Well, you know what, you gotta get rid of this sin or that sin or whatever the list of sins and… ” I’m not in favor of sins, don’t misunderstand here, but I think we sometimes overlook the basic foundation of God is for us.We get caught up in “Don’t do this and make sure you’re living a holy life.” Sure, I want to do that, but how do we step into a life and faith that changes other lives and refreshes our own? I think it starts, not with “You’re a sinner, you’ve got big problems, you need to fix this in your life, and I need to come alongside you, so you can get fixed and rid yourself of this problem.” But instead helping someone with the deep realization God is for you. Even when I fall short, God is for me, He wants the best for me, and He wants me to be a world changer.RAHABKIRK – Now, look at the people in the Bible. We’ve talked a lot lately about, say, Rahab the Harlot. God was for her. She was doing bad stuff, and yet God was for her and gave her an opportunity to change the world when she let in the spies. She lied about the spies being in her roof to save the country, the fledgling country of Israel. They weren’t even a country yet, they were just a people, but she saved them. She led them to their first conquest because she recognized God was for her.JENN – Yes, she recognized God was for her, and then she had a faith that said, “Therefore, I will take direct action because I believe that He is for me. I believe that He exists, He is good, and I’m gonna do whatever He asks me to do.”KIRK – “And He’s not out to punish me because I’m on the wrong team right now.” Because she was on the Jericho team and switched sides. And then we go to the New Testament and look at the woman at the well, one of my other favorite people in the Bible. THE WOMAN AT THE WELLKIRK – She had had a checkered past, five husbands, living with a guy, all that stuff. But Jesus comes to her, talks to her, and within that conversation, she realizes, too, “God is for me. This Jesus is His Messiah, His son, and He just told me. He told me, and I get to be the one to tell the others in my community. He’s for me. God is for me when He sends His own son to me to talk to me like this.” THE GOOD NEWS is REALLY GOODKIRK – That’s what I wish we could get across to the world out there. I think a lot of times, when we talk about the Gospel message and stuff, we say, “Well, we need to let people know the bad news before they’ll understand the good news.” The Gospel, the very wording of it, the very word means good news. Well, the good news is, what? God is for us. That’s what Jesus came to tell us, God is for us. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand right here in front of you, God is for you.” If we want to revolutionize our faith the first thing we need to remember every morning is… “God is for me.”KirkJENN – You’re really hitting on something that’s resonating with me. I’m building faith in people. I’m not tearing down sin, even though, like you said, we’re not for sin, but instead I’m building faith. What does it look like to build faith in someone? It is the good news that God is for me, He is cheering for me, He’s gonna put things in my path to bring me wholeness. This realization means I start building. It builds faith in me as an individual, and it can extend to the world around me. As opposed to, I’m tearing down sin and I’m tearing down and I’m fixing what’s wrong about someone. Instead, I’m gonna fly over it all and say, “Let’s start building some faith. Let’s start getting some things done here.”RETHINKING EVANGELISMKIRK – Let’s understand, God is on your side, He’s for you. Because I do think that, unfortunately, in modern day evangelism, we often start with, you have a problem.And if you look at the four steps to Peace With God, and those type of tracks, it basically starts with, “You got to understand you’re a sinner, you’re separated from God, that’s bad news.” I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something here. I don’t know that Jesus walked into moments with people and said, “I have bad news to tell you”. He had harsh words for some Pharisees who were the religious leaders, but what’s happening here is Jesus is offering something. I think our evangelism needs to rethink itself a bit, and we need to start saying, “God is for you. You get a place at the table, you get a place on the team, and you can have a home if you want one.” It’s an open invitation to anybody, and that’s exciting to me. I don’t have to go to my friend and tell them, “Look, let’s talk about the fact that you’ve got this sin in your life, and God can redeem you from your horribleness.” There are some people who feel horrible and need to deal with thoughts like, “I feel bad, I feel like I’m a horrible person.” Yes, Jesus is absolutely redeeming all of that. That is wonderful. But most people are just slogging through life, and they’re going, “I just want some hope.” Hope is when we say God is for us.GOD IS SAD WHEN I’M BADJENN – It’s so simple, but in a weird way so revolutionary to me, to start looking at faith this way and start looking at how we approach every person in our path. And let’s face it, even those of us who have been believers for years, need to be reminded God is for me, He is with me. Because, honestly, I think we forget.KIRK – People will say, “Look at God as your Father.” You know, I had a good dad, no worries about that, but like all dads, he wasn’t perfect. I’m not a perfect dad either. But even though my father wasn’t this way, I began to see God as a Father who is a taskmaster. Honestly I saw my job as keeping Him happy. I need to do the right things, I need to live a holy life, I need to be reading my Bible every day, I need to do all these things. None of those things are wrong, but I saw that as a prerequisite for God’s love. Instead of recognizing, He’s for me, He’s with me, that’s what Jesus so perfectly brings us.The very name of Jesus is Emmanuel, God is with us. And I needed to recognize that. He adopted me into his family. We’ve read this and we see this, but I think sometimes I read that I’m an adopted child of God, and I still feel like I’m that stepchild because I’ve got to earn my keep. Oh, yes, I’m a Christian. God loves you, and God is with you, and all these things, and yet there’s that piece of me saying, but He’s still watching. And if I screw this up, He’s going to be really mad at me.JENN – Our relationship with Him is often more conditional that we are willing to admit. I have often heard expressions of security, but the reality is, that for so many our day-to-day living out of faith is not one of a child that feels secure and safe in that relationship with their Father, but one instead that feels conditional and even fragile.The good news is… God is for me, He cheers for me, placing people and experiences in my path to bring me to wholeness. JennKIRK – Yeah. Even if we believe that there is no way to lose our salvation, we often still feel that weight. So, it doesn’t matter, whether someone believes “once saved, always saved,” or the idea that you can fall away from the faith. I’m not even here to debate that topic, except to say that no matter what we believe, I think it’s easy to fall into a trap of saying, “God is watching us and, well, He’s just continually disappointed in us… Jesus loves me when I’m good, when I do the things I should. Jesus loves me when I’m bad, even though He’s very sad.” Wait, whoa whoa whoa. Yes, I get the sad part, but Jesus still loves you, even though you’re really doing bad? Let me tell you, I’m really thinking, Jenn, that Jesus is walking alongside of us, and when we trip and fall and walk off the path, that instead of yelling at us for getting it wrong, He’s saying, “Back over here, we can do this together. Get back on this path and we can make it. And Jesus says, don’t forget, God is my Dad and He’s with us. And so every step of the way, just grab my hand again, let’s keep going. “PAUL the PERSECUTORKIRK – It’s an interesting thing. We talk about people need to repent of their sins in order to come to Jesus. Again, I’m not opposed to that, but at the same time, if you look at Saul, who was out there killing Christians, we don’t see a point in his conversion where he bowed down. Well, he fell down, but where he stopped and said, “now I repent of my sins, and receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior.” No, Jesus said, “Get up, go to Ananias’ house, and when you get there, he’ll tell you what to do next, ’cause I’ve got a plan for you.” Jesus took one of the worst persecutors of Christianity, perhaps the worst, and turned him into a follower. But He didn’t do it by the methods we have seen in the last decades, “You need to confess and stop.” I don’t doubt there was a moment in Paul’s life when he said, “Gosh, I really messed up, Jesus. I totally blew it.” Because he says he’s the chief of all sinners. But at the same time, the focus was on getting up and going and starting to follow. Can you imagine if we could put the focus on that, with the foundation that God is with us so that is why Jesus came. I like that so much more. I think there are a lot of denominations struggling with evangelism right now. How do we do it? What if we just put the focus on telling our friends, “God is with us, it’s changed our lives. You wanna join us? Come on in.”THE BOTTOM LINEJENN – What would we say are our takeaways from this little time of coffee we’ve had together? What are we learning? What’s rocking our world a little bit right now? KIRK – My takeaway is this: If we want to revolutionize our faith, the first thing we need to do, when we get up every morning, is remember God is with us. When we have the opportunity to share our hope with others – we need to remember that we are sharing really good news – God is for us. If we can remember this simplicity, then we start to revolutionize faith.Thanks for joining us friends!Let's Stay Connected. . . Visit Kirk at kirkwalden.com.Visit Jenn at firstname.lastname@example.org.Editing and Production by JD Audio.Hosting by Captivate.
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