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 🙂

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

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.

I Smell Good To God

I love the feeling of coming across a Bible verse that you never knew was there, but sure enough it was there all along. This happened to me in church today. We are in the midst of a sermon series titled A New Creation. This week we discussed the idea of the new covenant, and referenced 2 Corinthians 2. Here is the verse that caught my attention:

2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

Often we underscore the sense of smell. If we had to give up one of our senses, with the alternatives of being blind or deaf, most of us would probably choose scent. But here is Paul, describing the body of Christ, as a sweet scent to God. How amazing.

And although we often undermine our gift of scent there is nothing else like it. Imagine you are at home and your children are away at the grandparents. Although the quiet is a beautiful thing, and it’s the first time you’ve gotten anything done in weeks, you still ache a little in your separation. You are doing laundry and as you go to throw your little one’s blankie in the washer it grabs you. That scent. You know the one … baby soft skin, sour milk, and Johnson and Johnson’s tear free baby wash. At that moment it takes all one has to contain themselves.

It has happened with my late husband, Matt, too. I remember clearly in the weeks after his death when I was acutely aware that his scent was leaving every last item I had of his. It was painful, but what was more emotional than that was coming across a box months later of his things. Opening the box, that I had packed, assuming it was nothing more than clothes now. Opening that box of t-shirts and for just a moment he was there. He was making me laugh; making Evelyn laugh. I grabbed at the shirts fruitlessly trying to identify the exact place the smell was coming from. Before I knew it the smell was gone. As if opening the box had just allowed the aroma to drift out and away.

We can be those emotionally charged scents to God. When we live our lives according to the Holy Spirit’s leading we send that drifting sweet smell straight up to God. And it says, we smell to God like Christ. We smell like his child.

This idea has me blown away today. I wish to smell good to God. I wish to smell of Christ (Which makes me wonder just how did Jesus smell?). The idea further discussed in the sermon was how, in the new covenant, we find freedom. Freedom, in this case, to smell the way you want. By listening to the Holy Spirit and being reminded to repent when told, to go when told, and to wait when told we have an opportunity to bring an unending sort of joy to God that only the ability of sweet scents, filled with memories and love, have the capability to do.

Yes, I want to smell good to God indeed.

Let’s Start A Revolution!

A new sermon series to start a new year! It is time for a revolution. Time to leave our old – and often quickly forgotten – resolutions behind. It is time to begin a revolution in our marriages, with our children, in regards to our health, and most importantly a new revolution within the body of Christ; the church.

The sermon today centered around the story of Zaccheaus, the tax collector (Luke 19:1-9). Zaccheaus is a living example of what a revolution means in regards to our faith. His encounter with Christ radically and dramatically changed every aspect of his life. And it didn’t change it starting at the beginning of the year, or at the beginning of the week, or even the next morning — Zaccheaus was changed immediately. His repentance was a complete turning and moving away from his sin. This salvation story shows us just how amazing a Christ encounter looks like in the lives of people. This Christ encounter is available to anyone, anytime, and in many ways. Often, though, the encounter needs a catalyst. And as the body of Christ we are called to be that catalyst. To shine the light of our own Christ encounter, and help others find a way to theirs.

So how do begin a revolution? We set goals – personal goals, marital goals, goals as a church. We find out where we are going. Be intentional and thoughtful about your destination; don’t leave the outcome vague or undefined. Zaccheaus knew where he was going; he was going to see Jesus. Know what objectives you will need to overcome to get there. Find a plan of action to overcome the objectives and reach your goal. And then, of course, put it into action.

A new year means a new start. Things feel fresh, as if those barriers of fear and doubt have momentarily relaxed to give us a glimpse to the other side. Take advantage of the fire that burns when the year turns new. Set goals for yourself, and for your family. And most importantly set goals for furthering the Kingdom of Christ. As Christians, we don’t live apart from suffering, but we certianly live along side peace, knowing grace, and covered in love. It is time to share that peace, that grace, that love with those around us. It is time for a revolution.