Spiritually Geared Up

It’s that time of year again! Spooky season, which means it’s one of my favorite times on my blog. I love looking at old b-horror movies because God uses them to teach me things about life and fear. You see, people give this season too much power than it needs when it comes to Halloween, I like to take that power away and help you learn what scripture says about fear and spiritual warfare. One of my favorite tropes in old horror movies is the moment where our protagonist isn’t sure how they are going to handle this threat. Zombies, vampires, ghouls, goblins, and creatures of the night; the odds can be very stacked against our hero. Sometimes in life we can be in the same spot. Satan keeps attacking, keeps throwing fears your way. “you aren’t good enough.” “You’ll never make it.” “Just give up” You’ll never be remembered.” Real fears that creep in. The truth is, these can really weigh us down, and if we aren’t careful, the bloodsucking fiends will win, but we have a God who gives us a chance; and that chance is all we need.

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Calm Through the Storm

Well it’s finally here. Today is the Monday before Halloween (Unless of course you are reading this early here!). The kids will walk around your neighborhood in the costumes they are proud of, candy will be consumed in vast quantities, and many laughs after frights will be had. My family loved Halloween, at my old church the kids had a fall festival my mom put on and I would work hard on a costume with my dad. Things like, a guy in a shower, a laundry basket, or garbage bag (all were real, and all were epic). The past week has been kinda crazy. My life has started going a million miles an hour, and stress has started to build. I’m stepping into new roles, and balancing several things on my plate. On a Tuesday I had a rough day. I struggle with anxiety, fears put in my head that tell me I’m not doing enough or that I’m not good enough. On Tuesday I had a pretty rough anxiety attack, the whole day my mind was constantly racing, worrying about my role and place in the world, I was afraid that I wasn’t doing all that I should, I was worried that people hated me, and I was afraid of countless scenarios that aren’t even possible. It didn’t make sense, but it makes sense now. I had fear in my heart, doing all it could to convince me I wasn’t who God made me to be.

But fear is from the devil, and the devil is a stupid liar.

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Overcoming Great Fear

My favorite part about the October season is to look at the way b-movie tropes can actually teach us to grow closer in our relationship to Christ. Say whaaat? Yeah that’s right, God moves in many ways, and I often see spiritual truths in movies and b-movies. It’s like, part of my blog. One of my favorite b-movies of all time is George Romero’s, “Night of the Living Dead.” Fun fact, b-movies is an old-school film term that referred to the movie that played after the a-movie at old Nickelodeons. You just got a mini history lesson. Now we see it as meaning a “bad” movie, but often it was a lower budget film. George Romero made the movie that created the modern zombie film genre today. You know, the hordes of mindless creatures that eat people and turn them into another member of their mindless feasting (yuck!). What happens in every zombie flick is the horde of monsters continues to grow and as our survivors fall, the heroes begin to lose heart. They become overwhelmed by the horde, falling to their fears one by one. Their fears overcome them, and the same is true for many of you.

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Fear Not

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.”

Exodus 14:13

The most common commandment throughout the bible is do not be afraid. Said another way, do not fear and its variations are used over and over again throughout scripture. This month begins a season of spookiness, and one of my favorite things I do on this blog is look at themes from b-movies and monster flicks and highlight the biblical truth found in these concepts. I promise I’m not sacrilegious, but I think biblical truths can be highlighted through this season. The biggest theme through this Halloween season is fear, and fear is from Satan. Plan simple, boom, we’re done. Not really. Fear is from Satan, and we know this, but why then do we feel fear? We feel fear because we choose to not listen to the most common commandment in scripture, we choose to rely on our own power and forget to be firm in a God who loves us. When we choose independence, we choose the enemy. We are not created to be independent, we are called sons and daughters made in the image of God, so therefore, we are called to fear not. Today I want to talk about an experience I had going to a haunted woods and what God tells us about trusting him, because fear is from the enemy and nothing good comes from anything other than God.

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Revealing Your True Identity

People are funny things. We are individuals with unique talents and interests, yet so many times we try to hide our true selves behind a mask. I’m sure you’ve seen what I’m talking about, that friend who will change their whole personality based on who they are around. People that act one way in front of you, then act like they don’t even want to be seen with you. Ouch. Experiences like that never feel good and when it happens to me, I get so frustrated, but the sad thing is, I’m guilty. We are all guilty of pretending to be someone we are not. As I was thinking about the idea of hiding behind a mask, I was reminded of Scooby-Doo. In every episode there is some ghoulish thing creating chaos in an old mine, abandoned mansion, or creepy museum. The gang of teenagers and their dog jump into the mystery machine in order to solve the case, and every time, it is revealed to be just a simple person hiding behind a mask. Usually it’s the keeper of the house trying to protect what they value, a thief who just wants the jewels, or the business man trying to run someone out of their home. They are all looking for what they believe will make them happy, yet they forget that when we hide behind a mask, we lose sight of what is really important. In the process, we end up hurting ourselves more than helping when we hide behind the comfort of a mask.

This month I’ve been doing themed topics around Halloween, and this was one of the biggest topics I wanted to make sure to cover. I love being able to dress up in a costume and have fun with friends. It’s silly and fun, but in life, it is such an easy task to just put on a mask, to be someone God never wanted for us to be. For me, in high school, I hid behind a mask I made. I was afraid to be myself because I thought the person I was wasn’t good enough. So many times people had judged me for what I liked and the way I acted, I was afraid to step into who I really was. For a while I hid, and each day I kept hiding behind this façade, but I never felt complete. I was missing out on what God wanted for me, and the people close to me could tell. I wasn’t connected to the church because I didn’t want it, I had experienced hurt and saw my family struggle with it, and I wanted nothing to do with it. That all changed, when I came to my current church, I met a group of guys who were themselves, people that weren’t afraid to be different and most importantly, they weren’t afraid to be running after God. That’s what I want to talk about today, I want to help you (yeah you!) to learn how to remove your mask, and be the person God made you to be.

Different is good.                                                                            

You are a unique person, no one else is like you, even if you have a twin, no two people are the exact same. That’s a good thing! Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone were the same? It would be so boring, we would never grow, we would never have fun, and we would just be the same. So why do we want to fit in with everyone? We are afraid to be different. It’s such a foolish idea, if you love something, don’t give it up to fit in. God gave you talents and abilities so you can use them to impact those around you. Just look at the leaders of the church in the bible, each one was different in their own unique ways, and they were used to do extraordinary things! Once you realize that you are different, you can begin to take off the mask. Don’t be afraid to stand out, people will follow someone who chooses not to be of this world, and God wants to move in your uniqueness.

Be in community.   

Nothing is more important than surrounding yourself with others that will build you up rather than tear you down. Many of the times we put on a mask is to impress a group of people that doesn’t deserve your time. Every 80’s movie depicts this, the geeky kid wants to fit into the group of cool kids. That was me, the geeky kid, who just wanted to be what I thought was “normal,” but normal isn’t nearly as exciting. Just like every 80’s movie, the kid discovers that being cool isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, and they find a group that they truly fit in with. That is such a good piece of truth, we need a life giving community to help us be accountable and build each other up. We all need community, we all need people around us to walk through life together and look out for one another. You are different, and so are other people, come together and learn from each other. We all have a different story, and your story will help someone more than you can even imagine.

Take chances.

One of the biggest tragedies that happens when we wear a mask, is that we miss out on opportunities to step out in faith and take a chance. I used to be so petrified to stand out and take a chance on something, it made me miss out on opportunities. Now, I go into every situation with a trust on God, because often the worst thing that can happen is I fail, and try it again. We learn through the experiences in our lives, we learn through the key observations we make in every situation. I took a chance in starting this blog, I felt like I had some things to share and didn’t know how to share them. So I started writing, a lot, and made this blog with the purpose of getting my thoughts out there that God had given me. Now, I love writing, I love being able to do this each week, but had I never taken the chance, I would have never cultivated a passion for writing. Think about your own life, what is something you’re afraid to do because it may be a failure? I encourage you to try it (unless it’s to be a shark whisperer that I bet takes a ton of training.), the worst that can happen is that you don’t succeed. So you try something else, all while listening to what God is leading you towards. Take a chance.

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Just like in Scooby-Doo, we like to be the person hiding behind a mask because we are so lost. To be honest it’s hard to be your true self, to reveal your identity that Christ gave you to the world, but it is so worth it. We stop being the bad guy, and we become the group that wants to solve the mysteries in the world with others around us. For me it meant that I’m a geeky guy who is passionate about Christ and reaching the next generation. For you it could be standing up for what’s right in your career, or just simply stepping out and encouraging that friend you know is struggling. God made us to be individuals, to not hide behind a mask of doubt and fear, but to step into his presence and follow him. Be yourself, because your true self is more beautiful than you can even imagine. Don’t fake your way through the struggles around you, come into your community that brings life, God wants you to trust him with everything. So be different, stand with fellow believers in community, and don’t be afraid to take a chance. Remove the masks that you hide behind in life.

Reveal your true identity in Christ.

-Joshua Thomas