Episode | July 4, 2022

Transcript for Kurtis Parks’ Episode of The Walk

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Joshua Swanson Welcome to the walk. A devotional podcast led by worship leaders. In this episode, Kurtis Parks brings an awesome story of parking lots and lift rides. That becomes a critical moment in his faith journey. Here we go.

Kurtis Parks: You know, one of the things that God has been speaking to me personally about is two things, faith and familiarity. 

The first thing is fath. It’s been something that God’s grown in me over these last five years, I’ve become, uh, someone who’s planted a church I’ve gone through. Uh, we had our trailer stolen. Of course everybody’s gone through a pandemic. So I think that shook the ground, Hebrews 12:27. “It says that all things that can be shaken will be shaken so that only the unshakeable remains.” And then it tells us what’s unshakable. What’s the kingdom of God.

Uh, so I think a lot of people right now are in this, it’s a turning point. This is a critical moment of faith. I think in the church, uh, faith is what our whole lives should be built on. You do have faith, whether it’s in God or something else, maybe faith in your finances, maybe faith in who you are in your charisma and your personality, maybe faith in family, but all of that can be taken in an instant as we saw with the story of Job.

So your faith has to be in someone. Something that cannot be taken away. And so for those who call Jesus, their Lord, our faith is in Him. Our faith is in God. One of the things that he’s shown me about faith is that don’t ever say his no for him. You gotta believe for greater things. I mean, that’s literally what we see in the scripture.

We see miracles like the red sea parting. We see a young shepherd boy become the king of Israel. God can do so much with so little if we have the faith, how as a mustard seed. Tiny seed, big results. And so one of the stories of faith that I’ve seen in my life, uh, happened when we were finding a venue, we found it at the listening room cafe. It’s a music venue, downtown incredible spot. And we knew God was doing something special. When we did a tour of the venue and the owner, Chris, he said, what do you think of this spot? Is this gonna work for your church? I said, oh, this is what I’ve seen in my dreams. This is what I’ve seen in my visions.

It’s got everything. How much is it gonna cost? And he said, how about zero? We’ve been praying Chris said, that a church would want to meet here in our venue. And so right away, I realized, hey, God is in the business of free 99. Like we often say these verses and we just skip past them. Right. We say, oh, you know, he owns the cattle on a thousand Hills, but do we really believe that he can supply all of our needs, according to his riches in glory?  God can do so much more than we give him credit for. How does he do that? Through the faith of a child. So that moment where we got our venue for free, we haven’t paid a dime three and a half years of rent. That was a faith building moment. Well, you get a church, you’re downtown.

What’s the biggest problem downtown? Parking. There’s no parking in any of these venues. So anyway, there was a parking lot across the street. It was owned by Premier Parking and we asked the owner of the listening room. We said, how can we get this parking lot? He said, look, we’ve been trying to use that for valet.

For years, they haven’t responded to our calls. We don’t know who to talk to. We don’t even have a name for you to reach out to. So me and my friend, Caleb, uh, we did a prayer walk. Jericho style around this parking lot. People probably thought we were crazy downtown, but we do a prayer walk around this parking lot.

We just said, God. You own the cattle on a thousand Hills, there’s not a contact in Nashville that you don’t have, you know exactly who we need to talk to, to get this parking lot. So we just prayed prayers of faith. We circled this parking lot. Well, this is before we launched our church, and I was driving Lyft.

So that’s the car ride share service. Many of you guys are familiar with Uber and Lyft. And so as a church planner, your salary is zero. So you gotta do something to make some money. And so I was driving Lyft. I would drive in the mornings, usually from like 6:30 am to about 10:30 in the morning, and then I’d get about my day.

And so one particular morning I opened it up and in prayer, before I start the car, I said, I would always pray that God would put the right people in my car for that day. Amazing stories came out of that. But this particular day, I pray that prayer I go about and drive till about 10:30. And then I just. Turned the app off.

I turned the app off. I felt like the Lord was like, all right, spend some time in prayer. And so I pull off to this park, that’s down on the 12 south neighborhood. And I just start walking around and praying and asking the Lord to just do amazing things like he always does. And, I felt like the holy spirit was like, turn your app back on.

So I turned my Lyft app back on, and immediately a ride pops up this guy named Adam hop back in the car, and drive across the street to pick him up. Take him across town. I’m a talker. If you can’t tell by listening. And so whenever somebody gets in my car, I just ask him, Hey, are you from Nashville? 99.9%? No, I’m not.

I said, okay, where are you from? He says, New York. I said, no way, what brought you to Nashville, Adam? He said, oh, real estate. I said, what kind of real estate? He said hotels and a couple of parking lots. And I said, what parking lot? He said, you ever heard of a venue called the listening room cafe? I owned a lot across the street.

Okay. So for those who are listening outside of Nashville, there are over 700,000 people that live in our city. God put the guy who I needed to talk to about that parking lot in my car that day. So sure enough, we get each other’s contact information three weeks before we launched our church. We had a contract on that parking lot and it was just a moment of faith.

God just showed me. You need to broaden your perspective of faith. And here’s what I would tell you as you’re listening. I think we’ve become too familiar with God. We’ve become too familiar, Jesus is my homeboy. You know, I’ve seen those t-shirts, I’ve seen different billboards that just talk about how, how cool and hip it is to be a Christian. And we’ve gotten so familiar with God that we’ve lost the vastness of faith and what I would tell you that God is doing in his church today and what he’s awakening in people and leaders and worship leaders and pastors and in Christians is come back to your first love. Believe again, you need to believe.

Our faith has become a familiar friendship and not a holy faith in a God who can do the impossible, the same God who split the red sea and put Adam in my car to sign a contract on a parking lot. You’ve gotta have faith. You’ve gotta have faith. And what I would also say is this faith and familiarity thing.

It’s okay to be familiar. If you’re familiar with the presence of God, make sure that in your life. You are constantly going to the fountain that fills you up. That’s the presence of God. And I’m not saying the presence of God and the holy spirit are the same thing. Okay. I don’t wanna get into a huge theological thing, but you’re usually not gonna have one without the other where the presence of the Lord is there is a spirit of freedom, right?

So be familiar with the holy spirit, be familiar with the presence of God and expand your faith and watch what he does as you step out into deeper waters.

Joshua Swanson: what? 700,000 people in Nashville. And the one guy that Kurtis needs to talk to about the parking lot literally gets into his car. I, love stories like that so much.

All right, in the second half of this episode, Kurtis goes into some practical advice on how to build that faith walk. But first there’s a great reckoning that’s currently underway, a naming and exposing of the exclusivity, abuse, racism, Patriarchy, and unchecked power that have marked Evangelical Christianity. I know right. It’s an important topic and one that’s addressed in the new book by Nancy Beach and Samantha Beach Kylie. They are a mother-daughter Multigenerational team in the book is called Next Sunday.

I had a chance to chat with Nancy and Samantha and I asked him how did we end up here? Well, Samantha, you and I have talked a few times about how my generation was responding, or I guess you would say reacting to the Church of our parents with a big question of why does church have to be so irrelevant and why is it so boring? So we were kind of going after the about those two issues and you’ve seen a shift in that in terms of the primary question of your generation I feel like the more aware my generation became of kind of the politicization of the Church and the injustices that are happening in our country, the more we started to wonder if the church was really all about love and freedom, as they claim to be in so I think my generation doesn’t fear that church is boring. I think we worry that the institution can’t be trusted.

So I think folks come in with a big barrier to entry of fear. I then asked a question we ask a lot around here. What would you say to a nonbeliever that things Christians are frauds? Well, I guess I would have to be honest to say maybe some are, the sad thing, as those are the people who get the headlines. But you and I know literally thousands of Christ followers who are good people and who have great hearts and who are authentic and or faithfully serving literally all around the world, and my hope would be that non-Christians will come across one of those people because they are far from frauds. Just because we want to get this right and we want to be transformed and become more like Christ doesn’t mean we’re going to get it perfect every day, and so to me, you’re not a fraud when you have the humility to say I’m not perfect, I’m working on this and owning when you get it wrong.

That’s far more authentic, I think than pretending we’ve got it all figured out again. Their book is called “Next Sunday,” an honest dialog about the future of the church. Thanks to Nancy Beach and Samantha Beach Kylie for being a part of this episode. Links to where you can purchase the book are in the show notes of this episode. On worshipleader.com. Now back to Kurtis.

Kurtis Parks: So now we’ve been talking about faith and obviously that’s the key component of our walk with Jesus. We walk by faith and not by sight. So faith has gotta be a part of everything. The songs we sing, the life of the prayers, we pray the way that we lead our family, the way that we lead our church in worship, everything has to be by faith.

We have to have faith that people will show up. I know as a church planner, I literally have to have faith when I get up at six in the morning and head downtown. As I’m setting up the sandwich boards that say welcome to bridges as I’m putting out, and I’m the guy that does this, we get there early, uh, as we’re changing the tables around and setting up the nursery and sound checking with worship, we gotta have faith that people are gonna come, but I love the movie “Field of Dreams.”

I’m a big baseball guy and you know, it’s like, if you build it, they will come. I mean, Kevin Costner lived by faith in that movie. Okay. And so when I think about faith, You gotta go to Hebrews chapter 11. This is the hall of faith. Okay. And it talks about everybody from Abraham and these epic stories that we know, but also rehab who some people could just read right by her.

She was a prostitute she’s literally like the great, great, great, great times a hundred of Jesus, himself, all of these epic stories of faith. It was their faith that landed them in Hebrews chapter 11. And so I have been keeping a faith journal since we started planting our church. And this is a place where I can go back to it and I can read these stories about the parking lot. I can read the stories in my life where God answered this prayer. He brought this person, or we were praying for a set-up tear-down leader. And the week before we launched Matt and Jimmy show up to one of our pre-launch meetings and he’s looking in the room, he says I think I’ve got ideas on how to set this place up. And I said, you’re our setup, tear down leader. Let’s go, next week we’re meeting for the first time. 

 And so I have that journal. And what that is is, is the track record of God’s faithfulness. So we’re living in a day and age where sometimes it’s hard to see ahead.

Sometimes it’s hard to have faith, but I can go back to my journal. And I can look at story after story. I can look at person after person and see the faithfulness of God played out. I think this is why it’s so important that we have Bibles, and here’s the deal. 66 books Genesis to Revelation is stories of God’s faithfulness, man, get into the word, be inspired by a faith that has lasted from the garden of Eden until now.

Keep a faith journal. I would encourage you if you’ve never kept a faith journal, write down your prayers so that when God answers those prayers, you can go back to the moment you prayed it and said, wow, God answered this prayer in my life. When a miracle story happens, don’t let it just go by, and hope you remember someday, keep a faith journal where you can write that down.

My wife and I we’ve been married. Uh, it’ll be 17 years, this June, and every anniversary dinner, we sit down and we pull out our phones where we keep this notepad and it’s called three things. Three things that we’re praying for, and three things that we’ve seen God do over the last year. And so what’s cool is it looks back on the last year on the things that we’ve been praying for and we see how God’s answered those, but then it also looks forward.

Faith does both of those faith looks back. And faith looks forward. And what I love about keeping a faith journal is that it gives you an anchor point. It gives you an anchor point to go. It’s a practice. I think it’s a spiritual discipline. When you keep a faith journal, when you keep a prayer journal and you write down because it’s not easy to handwrite, my handwriting is awful.

I mean, barely can I read my own handwriting? And so maybe it’s a typewriter for you, or maybe it’s your iPhone or, or whatever you use to kind of keep notes, but keep a faith journal because it’s so important to have that track record of God’s faithfulness in your life so that you can go back on moments and trust me, there will be moments when you doubt it’s okay.

Faith can’t exist without doubt, but you can’t leave it in the doubt. We have a generation right now. That’s all about deconstructing what? Our faith. Okay. It’s fine to deconstruct, but you can’t leave the pieces of the puzzle all across the table. You’ve gotta reconstruct your faith. And I think there’s an epidemic happening in the church right now, where we’re taking the faith equation out of it.

So, what do I mean by that? Well, if you never place yourself in need of a miracle, you’re rarely gonna see one happen. It’s oftentimes that we, we pray, God, give me X, Y, and Z. Like we don’t wanna be in situations that necessitate a miracle, but when you find yourself in that situation, you open the door for God’s faithfulness to pour out.

And guess what, when that happens, as it did with the parking lot, as it did with our venue, as it’s done time and time again, in my family and my marriage in our church. I go to that faith journal. I write it down and I’ve got a track record of God’s faithfulness. So if there’s one practical way that you can apply this in your life, keep a faith journal.

Joshua Swanson:  I wanted to remind you of that scripture Kurtis referenced. That would be a great meditation for all of us today. It was Hebrews 12:26-28 at the end of the chapter, I’ll read a section.

“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” 

The walk is brought to you by Worship Leader Magazine, an Authentic Media Brand. Thanks again to Matt McCarty for editing and co-producing today’s podcast. I’m Joshua Swanson. To play us out. We’re going to hear NCC worship, sing you alone, which is a song that Kurtis wrote.