I want to talk about something today that I feel like doesn’t get talked about enough. Creativity. We look around every day and look at a world filled with beautiful nature, excellent craftsmanship, and individuals who are each unique in every way from us. We look at it all, but something doesn’t quite sink in. We live in a world that was designed by an all-powerful creator, yet we forget to acknowledge the power that is in that. We forget the intricate processes of the body that allows us to function on a daily basis. We forget the fact that nature has an inner working system that literally gives life. And we forget that we have been designed with the ability to use our own creative minds. Each of us is unique, designed by a creator, each with the ability to give back with our own gifts. All of us have talents and abilities that add to the kingdom and the world we live in.
This past weekend I was able to experience something incredible, I was able to see life change happen. Every year Daystar Church holds an event for the youth called live up weekend, it’s something that I attended in high school and am now able to attend as a leader for my small group. Each year God moves in the lives of these next generation students, this year was especially great. I was able to grow closer to my group, see them step out in faith in their service towards others, and watch as two of them were baptized on Sunday to declare that they have given their life to Christ. This weekend was incredible. As we are finishing up with the Halloween month (I know, it’s so sad) I was thinking about what should be the topic of discussion for this week. We have looked at how to protect ourselves from temptations, learned how to be ourselves and not wear a mask, and last week looking at how when we are alone we are in danger. This week I want to look at something in spooky movies and TV that isn’t always explicitly stated. It’s a decision that marks the turning point of a characters life, and it is one that you will have to make. The moment comes in the darkest hour, the time where it feels like there is no hope, nothing left to save you. The choice between life and death rests in your hands.
This is a choice that we all must make, and you have all that you need to choose. In my own life I have been faced with this decision. After taking the initial step of trusting in God, we are left with the choice to live life in the promise of what we have been saved by, or we can let it pass away and not take hold of the blessings that come with that choice. This is the choice we all must make, do we step out of the boat onto the water like Peter, or do we stay in the boat? This is from a moment in the bible where our disciples were afraid of what they believed was a ghost, but turned into something so much more. Matthew 14:25-29 says, “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus” In the moment of fear and the unknown power that was in front of him, Peter had courage and took a step. Sometimes it feels like we are helpless, like the monster has corned us in the dark room with no way out. In that moment we either let that enemy take us, or we choose to stand and fight for our lives. God made us for more than we can imagine, so we must choose to live the life that he has given us.
Don’t be afraid.
This command is one of the most used in the bible, because it is such a truth. So many times I have been afraid to step out in my faith, to not take a chance. I am so afraid that I will fail I don’t even try, and that’s crazy! I am no stranger to failure, my life has been filled with attempts I have made to do different things, but I don’t regret taking the chance. Without taking a chance we can never know what we are good at. For me, I knew very early on that my career should not include heavy use in mathematics, that is not where I am gifted in, but with English, I developed a joy in it. We are all unique and different, so maybe you’re a talented musician, maybe you play video games exceptionally well, maybe you make great vlogs on YouTube; but you will never know what you’re good at until you try it. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back from making a difference. Don’t be afraid to fail, failure just reveals an area that you shouldn’t focus energy on trying to be the best at. Live with courage, live in boldness, and be brave.
Step out of the boat.
Once we live in boldness, we must take the next steps, in order to make a difference you must step out of the boat. So what does this look like? Well I’m glad you asked my wonderful reader! The next step is to be all in. We must truly live out our faith, by the way we talk, in our service towards others, and our personal time in the word. These are the simple steps we must take in order to truly live into what God has for us. Without these things, we become dead inside and work towards nothing. We become zombies, consuming everything we can, yet still wander aimlessly and mindlessly. Fight back, be intentional with your life. Take risks, not like cliff jumping, but things like asking that friend you’ve always known if they want to go with you to church. Its steps like joining a small group to receive life giving community, or using your talents to serve others. You must get out of the boat and take a step in faith.
Focus on Jesus.
The verse shows us that Peter was so focused on Jesus that nothing else mattered or could stop him, not even the water that he was standing on. This is the biggest truth we can have, when we are focused on Jesus, we can do all things. No matter what the situation, no matter how hard life gets, when we are reliant on Jesus, nothing can stop us. Trust me when I tell you this because it has been true again and again in my life. I have had friends walk away, family suffer from addictions, and seen people that were brothers of mine pass away; yet God has never left me and he has carried me through all of it. The best thing about it is we can fail, Peter became distracted as he moved on the water towards Jesus, and he began to sink. You’ll hear some pastors focus on this as the mistakes we face, which is true, but I love what happens after he begins to sink. As Peter sinks he cries out to Jesus, and Jesus lifts him up out of the water. This is such a beautiful picture of how God has saved us over and over again, all we need to do is focus and cry out to him.
Over the weekend I saw teenagers make a choice, one that will define their lives for eternity. They chose to live their life, to not be held down by a world that tells them they are worthless and that they will fail. They chose to break free from those lies. We all must choose to live in the truth, the truth that we were not made to be mindless zombies and succumb to the creature that has cornered us. We must choose life. I have chosen life, I have chosen to live it to the fullest. God calls us to do so much more than we can even imagine, and no matter what you are facing, God will be with you. We must not live in fear, we must step out of the boat, and we must be focused everyday on what Jesus has for us. When we do that we choose life, and death has no power over us. The world is filled with things that will try to suck the life out of you, but we must fight back, because we have already won. Don’t be another victim of the world that surrounds us, finish the fight, and walk into the life that God has for you.
Choose to live life.
Life is filled with unpredictable things. Things we don’t always see coming, good or bad. It can be easy to feel like we are just completely helpless, like we are powerless over what happens to us. These events can hurt and leave us speechless, but we can also have events that lead us to be better people. No matter what happens to you, God wants to use it to build you into a stronger person, and he doesn’t want you to go alone. As we continue with the Halloween month (insert wolf howl here) I want to take a look at one of the number one issues that people in b-movies have, and that is that they try and go it alone. It’s the number one mistake of any bad boy from any movie, the whole “I got this” attitude has never helped anyone. God over and over again in the bible shows examples of people who try to go it alone, and just like the classic line from the Legend of Zelda, it’s dangerous to go alone. For me, I can get caught up in trying to be independent from God, thinking that I can do it and don’t need any help, but this is the opposite of what we should do. God wants us to be dependent on him because he will guide our every move. So how do we begin to live dependently? How can we go into every situation ready for what might come our way? Well I believe three things found in the book of Acts outlines what we should do. Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
I want to spend the next bit talking about three vital things to help us take on any challenge that we will ever face. I want to talk about them because they are things that have helped me so much throughout my life. From the good and the bad, I have trusted God and continue to learn and grow each day. My hope is that you feel empowered and grow stronger yourself. The truth is, you were made for more. You are designed for something so much greater than you can even imagine. God has a purpose for you.
Wield the sword.
This is the first step to being prepared. The bible is the place where we find all that we need, the wisdom to take on every opportunity that happens to us. The bible talks about how the word is a sword, a weapon capable of stopping the enemy where it stands. This is such a good truth, so many times we can feel discouraged or feel beaten down by the words spoken over us or the trials we face, but God’s word lifts us back up and enables us to fight back. Our enemy is real and he wants to stop at nothing to keep us from pursuing the kingdom. It reminds me of the crazy Evil Dead movies (viewer discretion advised, like watch the TV version) where the main character is faced with hundreds of skeleton and zombie enemies, and even his own hand is turned evil (literally). So he arms himself with a chainsaw and a shotgun and fights, it’s a weird movie series for sure. So many instances in my own life have been filled with people around me speaking death and even my own thoughts tearing me down, but when I read the word daily, I arm myself against any attack from the enemy. God’s word is a sword designed to teach us and give us protection no matter what comes our way. He doesn’t want us to go alone, he wants us to take the word and guard our hearts.
Surround yourself with a team.
So we have the arsenal, the teachings from the apostles, but now you need the fellowship. When I think of this I think of two teams from classic 80’s movies that take care of the creepy creatures. The Ghostbusters take care of all your ghost problems, and The Monster Squad, fighting off the ghoulish fiends that try to hurt you. Two hilarious movies with an important lesson. You need a team. The first step is getting armed, but then you need people to surround yourself that push you to be the best you can be and that will stand by your side in the darkest hour. For me, this changed my life, being able to have godly men that I call brothers now join with me through any pain, and lift me up saved my life. It gave me courage and I was able to then lift up those who helped me. This is why small groups are so important to me, because they have the power to lift people up and speak life over each other. God designed us to be around each other, to be in community, don’t try and go it alone. Choose the right people to stand by, these are the people that deeply care about you and lift you up, if they tear you down with words, they won’t stand with you in the tough times. You need a team, because it’s bad news to split from the group, which never ends well for the lone wolf. Stand with a group of believers and fight the fight together.
Be prepared for anything.
The third and final component from this verse, is being prepared. Prayer is the way we do this, it is the open conversation with Christ that gives you the ability to take on whatever comes your way. You have the arsenal, the team, and now you have the guidance from the most powerful person in the universe. It makes me think of the Frog brothers from The Lost Boys, two kids who know how to handle any kind of terror you may face. Zombies, a whack to the head. Vampires, wooden stake and garlic. Werewolves, silver bullets. Okay so we know that these aren’t real things, but when we talk to God, he gives us the wisdom to handle anything. If it’s choosing that career you want, or wondering if the decision you’re making is smart or not, God gives you the preparation. So we need to speak and listen, God has something for you every day, so don’t miss it! Prayer is so vital because it will guide you in every moment of every day. Prayer prepares us for anything that may come our way.
It is so dangerous to go into any situation unprepared and alone. While it may seem silly to use all of these examples from goofy movies, there is such powerful spiritual truths found in them. For me I have tried to go it alone, try to take on the world by myself. I have always failed. The reason I fail is because I am imperfect, and so are you. Christ was perfect, the only perfect person who gave his life to save us, the ultimate story of a martyr. Life will hit you hard, so don’t try and take on the world. God wants us to meditate on his word, find community, and continually have an open conversation with him. Don’t go alone, be dependent on the one who created all things, who knows you, the one who wants you to help change the world. Be wise, choose him. Get ready for the daily battle you will encounter. Wield the sword, surround yourself with a team, and be prepared for anything that comes your way. When we all do this, we have victory over the enemy.
Don’t go it alone, stand with the creator of the universe.
October is here! Temperature has changed, autumn is in full swing, and Halloween is right around the corner. I love this time of year, not only because I have a birthday on the seventh, but I love everything about this season. One of my favorite parts of this year is the incredible b-movies that seem to be on all the time. As you can see from the title of this blog site, I love a good b-movie, they’re always ridiculous and are great to riff on like Mystery Science Theater 3000 (If you have no idea what that is, please educate yourself on it, it is amazing). The best bad movies tend to be science fiction or horror, and there are some lessons that I have learned from them. I know, seems a bit odd, but I believe that God can use all things to teach us and show us some spiritual truths. This month I will be using some of these lessons in a Halloween themed posts.
Every horror movie does one thing very well. Yes it’s designed to spook you or gross you out, but there is one specific idea that never changes. There is always a scene where we know the house is haunted, an alien is now on earth, or the masked creep is trying to get us. Without fail, one of our heroes decides to go into that dark room, spooky forest, or open the barn door. It’s the moment that makes the viewer want to yell out, “don’t go in there!” Sadly, they never hear us, they go in and get attacked or grabbed by the creep. So often though, we make the same mistakes in our own lives, and no I don’t mean we go into the haunted house or are chased by melting men. We find ourselves believing that we are invincible, that we have it all together and we take risks we should stay so far away from. I was thinking about this and it just gave me a picture of that yelling at the TV to not go into the room, I think so often God watches us take risks like that and just begs us not to do it! I thought about this while reading in Timothy. Paul wrote to Timothy because he was a young man who was beginning his ministry. In the letters to Timothy, Paul warns him to be faithful of all things and one verse captures the core of why we need to be careful of all we do. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” That word timidity means lacking boldness or confidence, you see God wants us to stand up for what’s right. What that means is we need to choose not to go in that room, because that room is the temptation that we all face, coming in many shapes and sizes. That room is filled with nothing but death and sadness, something we were not made for, we were made with purpose and to be bold. We were made to be strong, to show love and to be focused on what matters above all things.
You are powerful in Christ.
Timothy was a young man who didn’t have years of experience under his belt, or have a fancy job that moved him up in the world. He was simply a man that wanted to follow after what God had for him, something that needs to be true for all of us. It’s easy for us to feel weak and want to prove our worth to everyone around us. We end up hurting ourselves more than doing the good that we so desperately want others to know about us, we try to show the rest of the group that we can fight the creature. We open the door and enter blindly, often without anything to protect us. This is such a foolish errand! One that I myself have too often tried to do, it could be in any part of our life. In ministry we try to prove to others that we are spiritual enough, or in school we kill ourselves trying to get a letter rather than attaining knowledge for our future. The thing is, we don’t have to prove anything, because God has already accepted us. He loves us so much that he wants to use us to do great things, and when we do have to face challenges, he gives us his word as a protection and guidance through all things. In Christ, we are powerful, we don’t have to prove our worth because God made us to be who we are. When we live in power, nothing can stop us.
We are called to love one another.
Paul looked out for Timothy. When the world was telling Timothy he was too young and didn’t have enough experience, Paul said he had more than enough. So often we see people, even people who claim to be a Christ follower, treat others as lesser humans. This is so tragic! We are called to treat others the way we would want to be treated, not tear each other down with our words. I have seen so many people feel beaten down because they feel like they can’t do anything, or that their mistakes define who they are forever. It is our job to come alongside one another and build each other up. We need to lift our brothers and sisters out of the trenches of sin, not push them deeper into it. We need to be bold, we need to stand up for those who are broken and hurting, we have been called to serve others. Love is an action and not just a feeling, we need to act in love and stand with those around us. When we stand together, through even the darkest times, we will not fail.
The last part of the verse speaks directly into each and every one of us, we need to have self-discipline. While we are powerful in Christ and we come together, we need to make wise choices. When we go back to the idea of not going into that house, we are adamant at the character to not even go near it, so why then do we in our own lives like to test the limits? It looks a little different now. So often we like to think of how close we can get to the edge when we should try and stay as far back as possible. We make compromises with God. It’s not that bad, everyone else does it, and I deserve this. We find ourselves doing things we shouldn’t. We self-medicate, we get to intimate before we say “I do,” and we watch things we know will corrupt our minds. Why not protect our hearts and minds? Why not take a stand for what we know is right, even when others don’t? So when we are with friends, maybe only have a couple drinks, or none at all. When you decide to pursue a relationship, set boundaries to guard your heart. When that Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on, change the channel, and get a filter on your computer. Don’t go inside the house, just drive past, and be wise.
B-movies are campy and goofy, but they have truths to them that are vital to our walk with Christ. So often we want to do it all on our own that we end up hurting ourselves more than helping. We choose not to trust God, we choose not to have community, and we make foolish choices. We walk right up to the door and go inside, only to be devoured by the enemy. God has such a higher purpose for each of us, and yet so many times we choose to go our own way. People are yelling for us not to go into the dark forest, and yet we ignore every warning along the way. We need to be bold, to stand up for what we know is right, and live into the higher purpose we have been called to. We instead turn away from the dark path that only brings pain and step into the light. Nothing can hide once it is brought into the light. Step into the light, step into the vision that God has placed on you. Just as Timothy chose, live with a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. You were made for so much more than you can even imagine.
Be bold, and live with faith.