Discovering, embracing, and living out Jesus’ call for our lives is a part of our future together as His church family.
But, what does it mean to “be called”?
Some might say it’s the “inner leading” that draws us to something. Afterall, Elijah experienced God’s “still small voice” calling him (1 Kings 19:11-13).
Others might equate it to a combination of a clear purpose and learned skill set (Genesis 1:28, Deuteronomy 28:12-13).
Yet, Biblical tradition suggests that affirmation is part of the equation, too (Acts 6:1-15).
This Sunday, we will discover what the Bible says about “being called” and experience Jesus’ calling in an up front and personal way.
What are inner and external calls? I’m glad you asked.
Inner Calls are those still small voices. As author and pastor Craig Groeschel calls it, it’s the “it”. You know when you have “it”. You know when you don’t have “it”. You’re drawn to “it” and “it” energizes you. You have an inner drive and passion to do more of “it”. Simply put, “it” is what you love. There’s nothing physically proving you have an inner call. It’s largely subjective and personal.
External Calls are those which you tangibly and physically possess. They’re the positions you hold. They’re the roles that you fill. They’re the opportunities you seize. Life examples include parenthood, child, and grandchild. Professionally, you can be called as a teacher, auto worker, baker, butcher, or small business owner. Civically, you’re “called” as a neighbor, citizen, and friend. All these external calls can be proven by a certificate, contract, or agreement. They’re usually given by somebody or a group of people - not assumed or experienced “on your own”.
Let’s apply inner and external calls to what we’re doing on Sunday.
Our inner call begins long before we arrive at church or log onto oslc.com. It begins with a desire to gather together. God’s Spirit (the Holy Spirit!) motivates, energizes, and creates a desire for us to “go to church”. We then experience inner calls during silent prayer and reflection as we confess our sins - personally and quietly; as we join our hearts together during the scripture reading and prayer times; and during our sermon time. Through music, we also are inspired and stirred to sing soft or loud… verbally or silently… our song is a response to the inner call of God - the Holy Spirit’s work in us!
Our external calls are bold and direct. We remember our baptisms as we shout, “amen” in response to our invocation, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. It’s a resounding agreement that we have both an inner call of faith to be here (we belong!) and that we are present with God and one another. We then are directly told that we are forgiven. Signed. Sealed. Delivered to us on the cross. And the proof is that Jesus lives to tell us. We’re then invited (called) to Jesus’ table to share bread and wine with Him and each other. We are then sent with Jesus’ blessing to do Jesus’ work in our homes, workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods. You can’t get more direct affirmation than this.
This Sunday we will celebrate inner and external calls in two special ways.
I want to end with this… Have you felt God’s “inner call” to something, or do you want to discover God’s “inner” call in your life?
If you want to discover/rediscover that call and clarify what that specifically means, perhaps your next step is talking with a coach. A coach can help you discover and live in your calling.
You can learn more at oslc.com/coaching and schedule a time with them by scrolling to the bottom of that page.
Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
Baptism. Father’s Day. Juneteenth.
Those are three different experiences. And, I believe Jesus celebrates each of them.
What are they?
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you might already know a little bit about baptism. Baptism is an ongoing God-given celebration experienced in a human way. It’s a celebration of a faith relationship with Jesus. And, because of that faith relationship, we are totally forgiven, adopted into a greater family, and invited to participate in God’s work in the lives of other people and our world. Yes, baptism is a single event, too… but a baptismal lifestyle (or as we say, a life on mission) is something we live out in our thoughts, words, and actions which strive to look and sound more like Jesus, everyday.
If you’ve grown up in the United States, you might have celebrated Father’s Day at least once in your life. Father’s Day is an annual human celebration for the God-given gift of fathers. It began in Spokane, Washington. That’s right… Spokane. Sonora Smart Dodd felt strongly that fathers needed to be honored and recognized for their roles in their families and society. According to Wikipedia, “she approached the Spokane Ministerial Alliance and suggested her own father's birthday, of June 5, as the day of honor for fathers. The Alliance chose the third Sunday in June instead… So, the first Father's Day was celebrated June 19, 1910, in Spokane”.
You may have heard about Juneteenth… but you may have never celebrated it. Juneteenth is an annual human celebration for the God-given gift of freedom. It commemorates the end of slavery in the United States after the Civil War. According to the New York Times, it has been celebrated by African Americans since the late 1800s. In 2020, it became a federal holiday. Also known as “Juneteenth Independence Day”, “Freedom Day” and “Emancipation Day”, every June 19th, we remember the day in 1865 that General Granger announced freedom through the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 which released enslaved African Americans. I’m reminded of 2 Corinthians 3:17 which says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. Indeed, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
Baptism - an ongoing God-given celebration experienced in a human way.
Father’s Day - an annual human celebration for the God-given gift of fathers.
Juneteenth - an annual human celebration for the God-given gift of freedom.
Three distinct celebrations. One weekend. And I believe Jesus is celebrating all three. So, this Sunday, we will celebrate them with Jesus.
Here’s what Sunday will look like both onsite and online…
When Jesus is our foundation and at the center of all we do, even three unlikely celebrations can come together to love God, love people, and live like Jesus.
Why? Because God created and gave us all things (Colossians 1:16) - baptism, fathers, and freedom.
And it’s always good to celebrate God’s good gifts for our enjoyment and to love and bless our neighbors
You may have noticed that this year’s high school and college graduates may see and live life a little differently than some of us “older” people do. By the way, that’s really strange for me to write because while I’m only 22 years removed from my high school days, my sister in-law and I recently realized the sobering fact that we are now closer to retirement than high school.
I think we would all agree that every generation (including our own) is shaped a little differently through our experiences. For example, while I remember some of the pre-911 days, my siblings do not know of a time when the word “terrorists” hasn’t been associated with school safety. Sad, yet this reality has shaped how we all think of security, safety, and what is acceptable or not. It also determines what we inherently value which in turn shapes how we live our lives.
Of course, the stories surrounding our younger generations that run the headlines are often telling the narrative of radical extremes. We may use words like, “entitled” and “snowflake”. Yet, the mushy middle majority of this up and coming generation - this year’s high school and college graduates - give us incredible hope. We would probably say that every “next” generation does.
That’s why I’m writing this post.
In a conflicted, chaotic, and confused world, we need a generation of people like our graduating students to serve, work, learn, and lead with the gospel in fresh, creative, and innovative ways.
I’m not talking about “professional” church work, either. I’m talking about the fact that while this year’s graduates may volunteer in their community and church, most of their relationships, transformation, and impact will be in their workplaces, homes, and neighborhoods.
Why? Because the gospel which transforms all of life is active everywhere.
So, to better appreciate this year’s graduating students, I want to share with you Marist’s Mindset List for the Class of 2025. They haven’t released the list for the Class of 2026 yet, but will post a link here when it is released.
You can access the list here.
This list of general mindsets, attitudes, and trends among high school and college students will help us understand how God might be using them (and all of us!) right now and into the future to shape and reshape our lives and world.
I mean, fast forward 25 years from now… how will politics look different? (I sure hope they will!). How will economics change? How will public education look radically different than it does today? How will social systems improve to help and serve more people?
And if the gospel fire of the Holy Spirit lives in the hearts of this generation, then God is at work in all of these areas - and more! And wherever the Spirit is at work, there is change. It’s just what Jesus’ Spirit does.
That’s why I can’t wait to see how this year’s graduates will be the presence and power of Jesus that shapes and re-shapes our lives and world.
And to be honest, it’s not just graduates who do this… each of us are called as part of God’s Oikos (extended family) to do the same.
How does your relationship with Jesus change the way you live at home, work, school, or in your social circles? Drop a note and share a story with me about it!
Lenyia dies in our own backyard.
Further away, 21 people died in a senseless act of violence in Uvalde, Texas.
Even more removed (and yet feeling so close), the conflict in Ukraine continues.
In our own families and homes - tragedy is all around us.
How do you make sense of so many horrific, unthinkable, and evil things that are beyond your control?
We have three options:
Let’s be honest, denial doesn’t work. As painful as it is to acknowledge reality, we cannot wish it away. Reality is always waiting to greet us.
Playing the blame game feels good at the moment. Too often, tragedy is complex and abstract. In the short term, directing blame toward someone or something directs our thoughts and feelings toward something concrete. However, like denial, assigning blame doesn’t change reality. In fact, in the long run, blame often makes matters worse.
In the end, by denying reality or playing the blame game, we become our own gods - ultimate arbitrators of what happened, why it happened, and what should happen next.
For me, a pastor, leader, and shepherd, trauma and tragedy have become common experiences. Most of the time we assume that God is absent in these moments. However, I have learned that it’s in these sacred and difficult spaces, God is most present.
As a result, I have learned to keep three words in mind when tragedy strikes: Let’s grieve well. And here’s why…
We are human - made in God’s image, with all of our emotions, intellect, and person-hood. That’s how God made us. We hurt because God hurts. Our hearts break because God’s heart breaks.
Let’s not forget that Jesus is human, too. He hurts. His heart breaks.
Jesus shows us how to grieve well. With his heart in pieces, He doesn’t choose to deny reality. He doesn’t choose to shift blame. Jesus cries at death. He mourns the loss of friends. He laments how the world seems unfair (because it is). He accepts the reality of a crass, cold, and chaotic world that is spinning deeper into darkness. And then, Jesus owns his grieving as he hangs onto every one of God’s promises through temptations, uncertainty, and even death itself.
So friends - as we continue to pray for Lenyia’s family and friends… as we move from shock to sadness over the Uvalde tragedy… as we continue to see events in Central Europe unfold… and so much more in our own lives… remember these three words: let’s grieve well.
After all, we do believe in resurrection which follows tragedy. And resurrection always leads us back to Jesus.
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Tim studied sociology, psychology, and theology prior to earning his M.Div at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis. He has also is a candidate for an Ed.D (ABD) in Transformational Leadership. He is married to Beth and they have three young children. Together, they enjoy exploring the outdoors, experiencing culture, and pizza and movie nights.