Monday, January 17, 2011

Custom Designed

On Saturday I mentioned the scripture from Matthew 4:19 where Jesus calls fishermen with words they can understand--words that transform their lives as they obey the words "Follow Me!"

But what does it mean to be called by Jesus today?  How do we clearly and certainly hear God speaking, guiding, calling us through the expectations, social pressures, busyness and “noise” that are so much a part of 21st century reality?

I don't know about you, but in order to do that myself, and in order to help others hear Jesus' call, I need help!  I need help through a book like the one written by my friend and "sister" pastor, Wendy Berthelsen.  Here's a review I've written -- maybe it will encourage you to order a copy for yourself.
Don’t let the small size, the friendly approach or the low price deceive you—Custom Designed: A Life Worthy of the Call is not fast food. It’s a five course spiritual meal, meant to be read slowly and prayed over with care, section by section.

Like the first disciples of Jesus heard Jesus calling them, this book by Wendy A.W. Berthelsen was written to help its readers hear our risen Lord calling them to know, follow and serve him in the way that fits each one personally. Using scripture and dozens of real life examples, the book guides readers to hear God’s “custom designed” call through considering the talents, personality, spiritual gifts, dreams and passions God has given them and through the experiences God has allowed in their lives. The book brings Biblically faithful spiritual truth to 21st century Christian lives that are so often trapped by the expectations of others, guiding readers to deeper prayer, open conversation with loved ones, quiet contemplation and small steps of faith. In this way the Holy Spirit speaks, leading toward the “calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 3:20-4:1).

In today’s Christian world, believers often feel pressured to take on (or continue with) tasks or roles that really don’t fit them personally. This leads to grumbling, negative attitudes, ineffectiveness and/or plain boredom. Wendy has known the “restlessness” that can come even in the midst of a good career, a restlessness that pushed her to re-vision her life. Now, as a pastor and president of “Call Inc.,” she shows us how to break out of a “so-so” life by simply paying attention to God’s Word and acting on it. As I slowly read this little book, as I’ve taken time to pray and then put into practice just a few of Wendy’s Biblically faithful suggestions, I heard God speaking to me more clearly, calling me and those I live and work with to more faithful, more effective and more joy filled lives-—simply because they are more “fitting” to how we have been made and gifted by God.

I’ve served as a pastor for 24 years. One of the challenges in my ministry so far has been to help people know the freedom and joy of that is ours through Jesus while at the same time doing my best to help the “programs” and “plans” of the local church move forward. Sadly, churches sometimes sacrifice joy and freedom and encourage believers to simply “do what needs to be done.” Oftentimes people then feel like they are simply interchangeable parts in the church machine rather than living freely as members of Christ’s body. Reading this book has helped me respect the ways God is calling every church member individually in every area of life—in the family, at work, out in the world—and also in the church. Church leaders need to respect every aspect of their members’ calls, allowing them the freedom in Christ to give a confident “yes” or “no” to the things that church leaders want them to do.

I have found growing freedom and joy since I learned the principles taught in Wendy’s book. I believe the same can be true for you.

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