New Creation Church Video

 

This is a human video I directed/constructed for our Sunday Celebration service yesterday.  It was the last week in our sermon series A New Creation.  I feel so blessed that God is giving me an outlet to be creative for his glory, and I’m thankful to have a church willing to give me the opportunity.  I think the skit turned out to be a unique and fun worship experience.  My hope was that it reflected JOY.  The kind of joy experienced when we are brought to those moments when the Holy Spirit renews and restores our own selves into a new creation.

I have to say the part that touches me the most, watching it now, is the innocence shown by the girl who played the Holy Spirit.  I love how this idea God lead me to ended up playing out.  That the Spirit is portrayed by a small, graceful, and innocent girl.  A Spirit who is reaching for us in our needs; guiding us out of our darkness; leading us to His light; making us a new creation … and when the need arises sending out her henchmen to take down the bad guys.

Everyone I worked with in the skit made it an inspiring experience for me, and I hope others.  The video quality and sound aren’t the perfect, but I my hope in sharing is my readers can enjoy it as well.  And yes – that is me, with a less impressive, scripture reading at the very end 🙂

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Only Question Your Assumptions

There is such wealth in the narrative of this video.  I encourage you … allow it to penetrate your heart.  If even for just one moment you can permit it’s words room to breathe in your soul, that moment could be all they need.

“The significant conflict is between those who do not know but have the courage to face up to that unknowing, to embrace it; those who have beliefs but who also doubt them and question them.  And those who do not know but who refuse to accept it; those who turn away from that and pretend they have the answer, because they are too frightened to look at the unknowing and mystery we are immersed in.”

We live in a world full of people who know.  But everyone believes in something, everyone has faith in something greater than themselves, and everyone believes they are right.  Athiests, Muslims, Buddists, Christians, Jews.  We all know the Truth.  We know it in our souls.  We have been instilled with the greater knowledge, and prompted by the spirit that leads us.  So … are we all right?  Are none of us right?  Are all of us partially right?  Does it matter?

We do not need to doubt our own beliefs in order to set aside the prideful claim that we are somehow the privileged few who happen to have been born into the “right” family, religion, race, or country that has the secret no one else was entitled to.  As a Christian, it does not lessen the weight of Christ’s incarnation, life, ministry, crucifixion, or resurrection to admit that the only thing I know … is that I simply don’t.

And still, isn’t God’s mystery beautiful?  I think so.  I think the way He moves through each person, place, and thing on this Earth is to be feared.  I think that above all other believed understanding of the scripture we ought to remember that our ways are not His ways, and our thoughts are not His thoughts.  We cannot know, because we are not God.

I believe this idea is important for a multitude of reasons …  The pain of separation in believers and the church as it is today.  Those in the church who want to feel freedom to discuss thoughts and ideas without being told they are wrong.  The ultimate goal of serving those in need and loving our neighbor being put second to the unattainable demands of righteousness.  The walls we have built, and are continuing to build, between those around us in our own communities.

This does not have to be a dramatic shift.  A person only needs to think of the idea.  Let the anxieties of what this might mean overtake you for a moment.  It does not mean you change your beliefs, but rather it means you change your attitude about them.

“I never question God, I can only question my assumptions of God.”  Peter Rollins

Saying Goodbye To The Cube Farm

So I was laid off from my corporate job today- no apologies are necessary.

These last twelve months have been a roller coaster of changes and adjustments.  The people I work(ed) with, in my immediate department, poured out compassion and grace to me every chance they got.  And still, I knew deep within me, very soon after Matt’s death, that sitting in that cubicle was not where I was suppose to be anymore.  With the mourning, the moving, and the months of ongoing adjustments I made the decision to hold to that job.  I knew that the financial stability was smart.  I knew my ability to discern whether or not another ‘life changing event’ should be placed on our home simply wasn’t there.  Even with all that though, it was a day by day effort.  Waking up and getting to a job that had lost all meaning … working for corporate America … and at what cost?  The nagging feeling that I was leaving my children behind in order to do so.

It was about a month ago, maybe two, that my heart started truly aching.  The desire to step out in faith, to follow God’s calling on my life, and do the thing that most people would view as ‘irresponsible’ or financially risky had reached a point that I felt I was about to crawl right out of my skin.  Depression, of a different source this time, was sinking deep down within me.  I felt I was letting down my children by needing to hold a 9-5.  I felt I was letting down my co-workers, both by the change in my work habits, and my loss of passion.  I felt trapped.

Before Christmas the company I work(ed) for had executive level issues, and it was rumored there may be layoffs.  With much angst over how it could possibly sound to a manager, I requested that if layoffs were to take place that I would be the one to go.  It had been weeks since then and there had been no sign or word that it was ever going to happen.  More recently, in the last two weeks, I began to give up hope on that being the tool in which God would use to release me from my old career path.  I became frustrated with God … what was worse was I tried to take control – to handle it without surrender.  I doubted His ability, or possibly more accurately speaking, His willingness to answer my prayers.

Last night was the ugliest night I’ve experienced in a while.  I paced for hours, I wrote feverishly (in private journals never to be seen by the pages of a blog), I prayed, I begged, and I cried.  I asked God to show me, tell me, make it known what was the correct path.  I confessed to Him.  I was honest about my pride, my need to control, my doubt.  I went to sleep.  I woke up.  I went to work.  But when I left?  I went home with confidence and freedom, the kind only Christ can give.

He is so good.  We say that, don’t we … God is good.  It’s almost as if no word ever could even come close to encapsulating Him, so we just nod in knowing and say, ‘He is good.”  But it’s truth to the core … He has been good to me, so good to me.  Even in my doubt, anger, and unfaithfulness He loves me.

I got home and the song How He Loves came on.  Those first words almost knocked me to the ground …

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me

Where I had felt alone and angry just hours before I could almost now see his love surrounding me in all my weakness.  Jealous to have my faithfulness back – holy and good He bent me like a branch in the wind of his mercy, goodness, and love.

How To Still A Dizzy Heart

I’ve battled with anxiety my whole life. It sprouts up from time to time in a most disgusting and volatile way. I rarely see it coming. I usually can’t idenify a concrete reason for its arrival. And I’m always unhappy to have it around. Recently, it has come to visit. I suppose it showed up after Christmas; sometime after the tree was taken down, and the holiday was finally at a close.

And so, as of this morning, I feel like I’m being chased in circles. Like someone is whispering that I have more to do than I can ever get done. A whisper that has a taunting nature; telling me I should stay out of the way of the people who love me. A whisper that has the power to evoke old feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.

Although it’s very hard to recall with any certainty, I don’t think I have felt the true weight of this anxiety since before Matt’s death. Sure I have been anxious from time to time, but never a constant nagging on my stomach to attain the unattainable. I feel like I’m running in a race which not only I won’t win, but likely not even finish. None of these inner mutterings are truth. I can affirm that I do what I can, when I can, in the best manner I can.  I have faith God is ever loving, gentle, and that I am in His care.  I know that I am doing things to move forward.  But those anxieties that are laying waste to my inner self still surface.  I know they are wrong, and yet they still appear.

Part of the anxiety lies in my fear of the unknown. Fear of what this last year of grief, moving, and life changes has done in me. What these changes will bring me to – or worse – what they won’t. I want to DO something. I have grown so unfamiliar to normalcy, and the return of that brings a sort of angst to me. Normalcy is scary. After seeing what I have seen, losing all I have lost, you would understand that to go back to the place that I came from is nothing more than complacent and foolish. To avoid this feeling I want to move. I want things to keep happening at the rate at which they have been happening. Moving forward, getting things done.

Keeping up …. Keeping up … Keeping up

I want to be the reason for my surviving (and at times thriving) through this journey … and there in lies my problem.  I am not the reason for any of this.  His grace given to me … for the glory of Him who was sent to save.  I am being told to wait. God has brought me to a place in which endurance is needed. Suffering can feel easy at times compared to patience. A person must be still in patience. Being still, especially after a time of such massive movement, can seem beyond daunting.

It’s that feeling you get when you stand in one spot and spin. Even after you stop spinning your legs wobble, your eyes can’t focus, and your head is still dizzy. You want to be able to see where your spinning has taken you, but you can’t control yourself enough to stop moving and look. You want to be able to walk, without veering to one side or the other, but it is hopeless. From all outside appearances nothing is causing you dizziness; after all, at this point you are just standing in one spot. And yet, you feel out of control. And the only way to overcome it  … is patience.

I have learned in the last year that I am in control of nothing. I have learned that God’s provisions for me have always been greater than my expectations. I know that surrender of my dizzy little heart must be a daily request.  And so I must breathe.  I must enjoy what is in this moment.  And I must take each day as it comes.

It’s time for a little patience.  It’s time for a little stillness.  It’s time for a little endurance.

Religion is not a four letter word.

I’m not too familiar with Jeff Bethke.  And if you somehow have been living under a rock and missed his spoken word piece, which has gone viral this week, you can see it here.  My hope in writing is not to tear down a Christian brother.  My heart is telling me that Jeff loves Christ, that he longs to be Christlike, and that he is very talented (which may be part of the reason people listen past what he is really saying).

The definition of religion has changed over the past years, this I understand.  There are people who see the religious structure as a legalistic hypocrisy.  There are people who call themselves Christian, possible attend church on Sunday, and yet don’t live as Christians at all.  And so a shift begins.  People who are religious sever ties with the term and cling to the core of what makes the structure beautiful.  This isn’t the answer to our problems though.

If it wasn’t for ‘religion’ I wouldn’t be blessed with a new pastor who has come to a broken church family and lovingly said to us, “We will mend this together”.  If it wasn’t for ‘religion’ I wouldn’t be blessed with elders who guide and lead me in a gentle and loving manner so that I do not stumble in my walk.  If it wasn’t for ‘religion’ I wouldn’t be blessed with a denomination, who in the wake of my young husband’s death, came around me to help with the physical, spiritual, and financial needs of my family.  I wouldn’t have a small group of women who I consider sisters.  I wouldn’t have a place to worship our God, who I love so much.

Let us not so quickly forget that Jesus was religious; a very devout Jew.  And so, I too, am religious.  I would like to say I’m not a hypocrite and that I’m a Christian the other six days of the week, but as Paul says in Romans, “For I don’t do the good I want to do, but instead do the evil that I don’t want to do.”  I do the best I can, but it is far from perfect.  This doesn’t mean I’m ready to throw the baby out with the bath water.

My fear is that we are trying to have an internal conversation with the whole world.  It is not that what Jeff, and others, have been saying for some time doesn’t have relevance in a changing world.  I understand people have been hurt by the structure we have built, and for those who have been I am sorry.  Do we take that pain and turn people away from the church though?  I think the answer is to build communities that don’t hurt.  Communities that when hurt does happen grace and forgiveness is worked through together.  These communities do exsist, I am part of one.

We can not undermine the importance of our communities, and I don’t believe that is what Christ wants for us.  We must tread lightly when we label people, and it doesn’t matter the label that you use … religious/legalistic, orthodox/heretic, conservative/liberal, Republican/Democrat, Catholic/Evangelical . . . Jew/Greek, slave/free, male/female.

You see, because we are all one in Christ Jesus.  And a label is ALWAYS a label, no matter how trendy it might be.