Turn the Other Cheek – At the Movies 2022

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In our earthly lives, each of us is bound to face adversity. Unfortunately, some of this adversity results from the evil acts of others. This can cause us to get caught in the heat of the moment and try to get revenge on those who wronged us. Oftentimes, we want to see them suffer to pay for the suffering they caused us.

However, in the Bible, God instructs us not to repay evil for evil; he promises he will one day get rid of all pain and suffering. Our heavenly Father is the ultimate judge (see Deuteronomy 32:35). We are called to persevere in doing good to everyone, even to those who have wronged us.

Matthew 5:38-39
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.’”

At the beginning of King Richard, we see Richard Williams teaching his daughters how to play tennis. While doing so, gang members repeatedly harass his girls, making inappropriate comments and refusing to leave them alone.  When Richard tried to stand up for his family, he was beaten right in front of his  daughters.

Finally, Richard had enough. He wanted revenge for their evil deeds. In his anger, he planned to shoot one of the gang members. Seconds before Richard was about to fire, his victim was killed in a drive-by shooting. Richard was saved from committing murder, going to jail for the rest of his life, and missing out on all of the important things in his life, including raising his family.

That night, Richard realized repaying evil with evil had terrible consequences, so he changed his perspective and focused on the good. Instead of focusing on the trials that came his way, he put his energy into being a good father and coach. He took the pain from his adversities and used it as motivation to give his daughters the best lives that he could. Because of his perseverance and sacrifice, two of his daughters, Venus and Serena, became several of the most successful tennis players in sport’s history.

Every one of us is faced with how to deal with evil. We can either stay a victim of evil, or we can persevere through it all, knowing that this is what God has called us to do.

Galatians 6:9
9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Questions:
Why is it tempting for us to want to repay evil for evil?

In what specific ways can we persevere through evil and instead respond in a positive way to those who hurt us? How can we show them the love of Jesus?

Next Steps:
Pray for someone who has hurt you in the past. Ask God to help you let go of any remaining anger or resentment that you have against them and to help you reconcile the relationship if possible.

When you find yourself facing trials or adversity, pray first. Make space for God to work in the situation, and ask him for guidance.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for providing me with your Word as a guide on how to deal with evil in this world. Please give me the encouragement I need to persevere throughout the adversities that I face each day. Help me turn my pain into motivation to spread the love of Jesus to everyone I encounter. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer. Isabelle is a regular attender of CedarCreek and serves in the children’s ministry. She is passionate about writing and loves spending time with her family and friends. Her goal is to show people the love of Jesus Christ.


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No Foul – At the Movies 2022

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Being unresponsive to insults, while constantly being the target of hateful actions and not doing anything about it, is something that can be difficult to live with—at least for me. I don’t know about you, but I want to retaliate. The good news is we know that Jesus lived a perfect life free of sin and retaliation. Because of our sinful nature, we can’t. However, when we become his followers, we can learn to be more like him, and in the process, learn to bless our persecutors instead of emulating them.

1 Peter 2:23 NIV
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

Jesus was judged and insulted and assaulted for US. He didn’t have to do it; we certainly didn’t deserve it. But he did it anyway, and he didn’t complain or back down. Now that is how I wish I could live life!

If I’m being honest, sometimes when I’m full of anger or frustration, I’m quick to threaten and retaliate, but because I am a child of the one true God, I know better and am trying to do better. We all need to remember man is fallible, but God is not. So when we slip and fall, we don’t have to get upset, because we have been forgiven. We are new creations in Christ.

In last weekend’s message, we saw Richard from the movie King Richard overcome his basic urge to return evil with evil. It reminded me of an event from my past.

I played basketball for one year when I was in junior high. It’s probably a good thing that I only played one season. I had an attitude problem and was quick to anger in my younger days.

Exodus 21:23-24
23 “But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life, 24 an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot,…”

I had a tendency to play like my favorite “bad boy” players in the NBA. I can’t remember all the details, but during one of my games, a player fouled me with an elbow to a sensitive area. The ref didn’t see it—“of course not!”—I thought. So, with an “eye-for-an-eye” mentality, I took it upon myself to return an elbow for the elbow I received.

I chased the other play down from mid-court and did some type of flying elbow move that everyone saw. Deservedly, I was called for the one-and-only technical foul my team received that year, if my memory serves correctly. In the moment, it felt great. But I soon regretted it—I knew better. I never should have sought my own revenge.

Romans 12:19
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.

My basketball career ended as fast as it began. Perhaps if I had focused on scoring rather than settling scores, I would have gone further.

Today, I try to live more like Jesus teaches us to. Rather than return the same punishment, I choose to forgive and move forward.

Colossians 3:13
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Questions:
Do you seek your own revenge when others wrong you? What can you do rather than return anger for anger?

Next Steps:
Read and reflect on 1 Peter 2:18-25.

If you feel you’ve been wronged, talk to someone about how you feel and pray for a peaceful resolution. Try to reach out to the person that wronged you. They might not even know what they have done to upset you.

Prayer:
God, show me how to give up seeking revenge to you. It’s not mine to seek out; it belongs to you alone. Help me grow in maturity so that I don’t act out before I pray to you about what is upsetting me enough to look for revenge. I know you are the bringer of peace through your awesome Son. In his name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Casey Stengel. Casey is a follower of Christ, a dad, and an avid Chicago sports fan. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with family and friends. He works in recovery and loves to help people however he can. He is also working toward his Associate Degree in Biblical Studies.


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Three Wise (Monkeys) Frogs – At the Movies 2022

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Ohio is full of farmland, factories, humid summers, even colder winters, and it’s football country (Go Blue!)—it’s home. I was born here, and when I left, I never wanted to come back. Many of the reasons for me wanting to stay away were due to my personal war against snow and below-freezing temperatures. (The Findlay campus’ new Student Director, Zeeke, seemed frighteningly surprised when I told him true cold is when it is too cold to snow.)

My wife and I decided coming home was part of God’s plan. She knew before I did. But I’m stubborn, so it’s no surprise. We were definitely excited that the average commute in the Findlay area is 8 minutes compared to the sometimes 2-hour drive to the Pentagon. We began preparing our children for the changes they would experience in Ohio. They would be introduced to casseroles, real mosquitoes, and going to school, even after receiving a few inches of snow. Unfortunately, this list also included racism. It was the main reason I scoffed at returning.

Things are certainly better now than when my siblings and I were younger. It was much more challenging then. My response now is better, too. Back then, my siblings and I physically fought against any disrespect or unwelcome glances. Unsavory words were always an invitation to continue a more heated conversation. I can’t speak for my siblings, but it never felt satisfying. Fighting always created more problems for us.

1 Peter 3:9, 11
9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. … 11 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

I’ve been honest with my kids about my upbringing. They know I returned being called the n-word the first time with a punch, which continued longer than I’m proud of. I’m sure some people still call me by that word, but I’ve only heard it twice in the last 18 years.

The first of those times occurred in 2004, and my reaction was to ignore it. The second time occurred while I was playing basketball with my son and nephew a few weeks after moving back to Ohio, which I ignored again.

It’s impossible to “see no evil” and “hear no evil,” but we can let God handle those things. Something inside me wants to tell my kids to handle things the way I did growing up, but parenting and learning how to forgive has stopped me each time. Teaching them a better way is the right thing. Thankfully, they’re quicker to listen than I was when my Mom tried to teach me.

Questions:
What do you do when confronted by evil? How have your decisions hurt you?

Next Steps:
When evil hurts you, work harder on things that create positivity. Pray about it, give it to God, and be an example to others. Read  1 Peter 3:9-12 and Proverbs 20:22 to further understand how to address evil moments in your life.

Prayer:
Lord, I appreciate the lessons I’ve learned from trying to take matters into my own hands. Thank you for showing me how things can improve when I let you handle certain situations. I am better when I remember who I belong to. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


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Repurpose Evil – At the Movies 2022

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Last weekend At the Movies, Richard Williams, father of tennis greats, Venus and Serena, was presented as a man with an undying love for his daughters. He wrote a 78-page plan to ensure his daughters would succeed in tennis. That is no small undertaking. It would be interesting to know the number of revisions he made to his plan.

Mr. Williams portrayed the heart of many fathers. He wanted to ensure his daughters received the respect he never received growing up. He wanted all of his daughters to become the amazing women they had the potential to become. Clearly, he did not sit on the sidelines, hoping it would happen. He got involved. He stayed involved. And although God is the only perfect father, it appears Richard gave it his very best.

Followers of Christ, similarly, have a plan to refer to—the Bible. It is a trustworthy point of reference for everyone (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is within the pages of this book we are instructed how best to respond to evil—the very dilemma Mr. Williams faced. He had the mindset to take someone’s life for the evil perpetrated against his family. His intended response—murder—is understandable to many.

As is often the case, God’s response to evil supersedes man’s response. Paul’s letter to Rome offers three separate responses to evil: Romans 12:21 NIV: “overcome evil with good”; Romans 12:17 NIV: “never pay back evil for evil”; and Romans 12:19 NIV: “leave room for the wrath of God.”

Peter’s words get very personal! 1 Peter 2:1 identifies several forms of evil behavior. OUCH! Becoming Christ-like requires much pruning! The reference in Matthew 15:19 reports our hearts produce much evil. What is one to do? For me, accepting I am nothing without him, and that I can do no good thing without him, keeps me on the right path.

No one should be surprised at the level of wrongdoing and evil in our country and around the world. No one can consistently follow God’s lead in managing evil without his holy presence in one’s life. Not you. Not me. Obviously, many remain in need of a Savior to save us from our sin. That same Savior will save us from ourselves as we allow him to empower us to overcome evil with good when it shows up in our lives.

Questions:
How do you respond to evil? Have you been a victim of evil? Have you resolved evil done to you? Do you identify as a victim of evil? Have you allowed evil done to you to define you in a negative way?

Next Steps:
Increase your understanding of evil from a biblical perspective. Consider ways to overcome evil as a Christ follower. Claim the truth of God’s word in Romans 8:28 NASB.

Prayer:
Father, there is no shortage of evil in this world. Give me the fortitude to stand properly in the face of evil in ways that honor you. As I recover from evil done to me, empower me to be a vessel of healing to those close to me. Strengthen me to take a stand against all forms of evil, recognizing it is through the blood of Christ I am empowered to face every form of evil known to man. Align my path with those choosing to face evil in Godly ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married to her husband, E. Michael, for over forty years. Karen is extremely grateful retirement has afforded her several soul-fulfilling opportunities to engage in deeper, meaningful relationship with Him and others.


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First Things First – At the Movies 2022

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King Richard. What a great movie and story! Through background conversations with his daughters, you come to understand that Richard’s childhood was anything but a storybook. And yet, Richard was determined to create better circumstances for his girls. I love that! It affirms yet again that our choices can change our life’s trajectory!

During the weekend service, we learned about three possible choices when faced with evil.

The first is to return evil for evil. We saw Richard yield to this temptation when he confronted the gang members in the movie and then decided that was not the example he wanted to give his family.

Another choice is to become a victim. It was obvious by Richard’s persistence and determination that being a victim was not an option!

The third choice is to battle evil by doing good. This is where King Richard landed. He got busy doing good—for his girls and for his family. I loved his 78-page plan for Venus and Serena. I have great admiration for how he seemed to be able to implement it without any apparent envy or jealousy on the part of the other girls. Those girls were obviously high achievers in their own right in other areas, but the focus (at least in the movie) was on the tennis players.

I imagine the effort must have been exhausting for both Richard and his wife, as well as for Serena and Venus. Having “average” children without a 78-page plan is exhausting! At times, it probably seemed easier to give up than to continue.

Our world is challenging. We have immense pressure from many things, pulling at both us and our families. But we get to choose, and choose we must. It requires lots of energy, willpower, and effort. Following our devotion to God, it is our most important job.

Galatians 6 has many verses which we can apply to our lives.

Galatians 6:2-3
2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important (emphasis added).

Galatians 6:7-10
7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith (emphasis added).

Several examples of these verses could be seen being lived out in King Richard. He and his wife shared each other’s burdens, but they were not ashamed to ask for help from others. They knew that eventually they would reap what they had sown with their girls. They knew their sacrifices would be worth the effort. As tiring as it must have been, Richard never grew tired of helping his girls achieve their full potential, and they all reaped a great blessing.

So how can you receive this kind of blessing in your life? By seeking peace and pursuing it and doing good to everyone—especially those within our family of faith.

Questions:
Have you made the most important things in your life the most important?

Next Steps:
On one side of a piece of paper list the things most important to you, in  the order of their importance. Across from that, list the amount of time you spend on each of those things. Figure out how you can bring those things into better alignment, then do it! Share the list with your Group or a trusted friend and ask them to hold you accountable for making first things first.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for ordering my life. Help me to listen to your word and apply it to my life. Help me to embrace the roles you have given me, and help me find the will and guidance to invest in them. Give me the energy and the courage to put first things first. This is not a mystery, nor is it difficult to figure out. Help me to wait for your blessing, which you have promised, at just the right time. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


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Face Your Fears – At the Movies 2022

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What are you afraid of?

Spiders. Heights. Public speaking. Failure. Rejection. Losing a loved one. We each have something we fear. In fact, a lot of us probably have many things we’re afraid of. For some of us, our fears can paralyze us and hold us back from the best life God has for us.

When fear shows up in our life, most of us will respond in one of a few ways:

Running: We try to get as far away from the situation or thing inducing fear. For example, if you see a spider in your house, your first move is to run away. (Your second move: sell the house; it’s not worth it anymore.)

Freezing: We get stuck, we feel paralyzed, and we become indecisive. For example, if you are afraid of failure, you may become indecisive when faced with big, important decisions at work.

Fighting: We combat our fears by lashing out, being defensive, or in some cases, offensive. For example, if you see a political Facebook post that makes you worried about the direction of the country, you might quickly respond in ALL CAPS to show your anger.

Numbing: We turn to something or someone to comfort, distract, or entertain us, in order to drown out the pain of our fears. For example, if you’re like me, you might turn on an episode of The Office so you can laugh and, in the process, completely ignore your fear.

None of these responses to fear will ultimately end up being the most helpful for your growth.

Here’s an alternative: Face your fears courageously.

See, courage isn’t about not being scared. It’s about moving forward in the midst of fear. Courage is facing your fear instead of numbing it, fighting it, freezing it, or running from it.

Thankfully, we don’t have to face our fears alone. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

When we have God’s Spirit inside us, we have everything we need to face our fears, because, after all, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you” (Romans 8:11a). With God’s Spirit, we can face our fear by trusting in his power, not our own. We can step into whatever we need to in the midst of that fear, and trust that he will guide and protect us.

As we courageously face our fears, they begin to lose their power. Most of our fears don’t end up happening, and the ones that do, almost never end up being as bad as we thought.

Questions:
What are you afraid of?

What fear has been holding you back recently?

When you are afraid, are you more likely to run, freeze, fight, or numb?

How can you face your current fears today?

Next Steps:
Talk to someone you trust about your current fears.

Talk to God about your current fears.

With the help of someone you trust and the Holy Spirit, come up with a game plan for how you will courageously face your fear.

Prayer:
God, thank you for not giving me a spirit of fear but, instead, giving me your Holy Spirit, which is the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. Help me to rely on your power to face my fears. Amen.


This post was written by David Hammack, Jr., a regular contributor to the LivingItOut.


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Give Thanks – At the Movies 2022

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

When you think about Thanksgiving, what comes to mind? Giving thanks, spending time with family and friends, volunteering at a soup kitchen, football games, parades, eating endless amounts of delicious food food, or maybe it’s the Thanksgiving food coma?

Thanksgiving has a long history, beginning Thursday, November 24, 1621, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people shared an autumn harvest feast to give thanks for the pilgrims’ first corn harvest. In 1827, prolific writer and author Sarah Josepha Hale, nicknamed “The Mother of Thanksgiving,” campaigned to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. But it wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday after taking notice of Hale’s campaign and issuing a proclamation pleading for all Americans to ask God to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

Even though Thanksgiving was originally intended to give thanks to God on a particular day, Christ followers can celebrate every day as a day of “thanksgiving” to the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

In last weekend’s service, we were introduced to the latest installment of our At the Movies series, CODA. In CODA, Ruby faced many challenges. She had to navigate personal fears, family dynamics, the demands of her school’s choir, and preparing for an audition for Berklee College of Music.

Jesus never promised us that life as his followers would be easy.

Philippians 4:6-7
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

How can we keep our peace in the midst of our struggles? One of the easiest ways is by giving thanks.

Ryan Fehr, a world-renowned expert on gratitude, says, “During a difficult time, gratitude is more important than ever.” He has penned five steps to gratitude in tough times.

Step 1: Put your gratitude on paper
Write down the names of three people or things in your life you are grateful for and why.

Step 2: Have a gratitude conversation
Have a conversation with a friend, family member or coworker to share what you’re most grateful for.

Step 3: Tell someone you appreciate them
Identify a specific person in your life and tell them why you are grateful for them over the phone or video chat.

Step 4: Pay it forward
Find a way to show your gratitude to someone in your life by helping them in some small way.

Step 5: Reflect and repeat
Take a few moments to reflect on how your gratitude exercises went and commit to at least one act of gratitude every week.

Let Ruby’s story be a reminder that the easiest path doesn’t always produce the best results. And if you find yourself in the middle of a personal struggle this Thanksgiving day, remember true peace is not found in the absence of conflict—it’s knowing God and giving thanks for his goodness in the midst of it.

Questions:
How will you celebrate Thanksgiving? Will you include giving thanks to God for the many blessings he has given you?

How do you approach challenges? Do you thank God for these challenges, knowing they will lead to a life rich in his blessings? Do you trust in God during these times? If not, why?

Next Steps:
Reread Ryan Fehr’s five steps to gratitude in tough times and begin incorporating them into your daily life.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your love that helps me through my challenges. Thank you for the peace in my heart when I trust in you. Thank you for your promise to be near me in dark times. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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Trusting in the Help of Others – At the Movies 2022

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I have learned that asking for help is one of the most difficult aspects of life. I tend to rely on myself and act like I have it all together. I often bear my burdens alone, only showing the best version of myself when I’m around others.

So many of us are quick to help those around us when they are going through challenges. If a friend or family member asks for support in times of need, we are willing to help them because we love them and want what is in their best interest. No one likes seeing someone struggle. I believe God instilled within us an urge to help others in their times of need. We are meant to lift up and encourage others, no matter what they face.

Throughout the Bible, God has shown us our need for others. We need Jesus for our salvation, and we need other Jesus followers to support us on our journey of life.

Ecclesiastes 4:12
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

In the movie CODA, Ruby showed us the importance of accepting help from others. In her senior year of high school, she found the courage to sign up for choir to pursue her love of singing. However, on her first day of choir, Ruby was terrified to sing in front of the other students and ran out of Mr. V’s classroom. After the initial shock wore off, Ruby explained to Mr. V. how afraid she was to sing in front of others.

She felt like an outcast in her family and among her peers, and she was afraid of what other people would think. But something happened that day that would change the course of her life forever: Mr. V. saw the talent in Ruby, so much so that he encouraged her to audition for the Berklee College of Music.

Mr. V. saw Ruby struggle with her confidence, but he consistently encouraged her throughout her journey. He gave her private lessons and believed in her, even when she did not believe in herself. Without the support of Mr. V., it is very likely Ruby would not have pursued her education in music. He helped Ruby gain the confidence she needed and showed her that she had what it took to follow her dreams.

In fact, Mr. V. taught her one of life’s greatest lessons: We are not meant to do life alone.

Questions:
What was a time in your life that you were afraid to ask others for help? How did you feel telling others that you needed help and support?

Why do you think it feels so uncomfortable at times to ask others for help?

Next Steps:
Through prayer, surrender any fears about asking for help to God. Ask him to give you the necessary courage so you do not have to face life alone.

Join a Group and develop life-giving relationships with people who will support you through life’s ups and downs.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me the gift of life-giving friends who are willing to help me in my time of need. Please encourage me to fearlessly help and support others in their times of need. It can be so difficult to admit to others that I need help; help me give up my fear of being needy and give me the courage I need to ask for others’ support when I face life’s trials. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer. Isabelle is a regular attender of CedarCreek and serves in the children’s ministry. She is passionate about writing and loves spending time with her family and friends. Her goal is to show people the love of Jesus Christ.


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What Do We Say to the Spirit of Fear? – At the Movies 2022

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I will be playing basketball for the first time since the pandemic this Christmas break. I’m not worried. My previous hiatus lasted five years, and my shot was still good. My daughter thinks I’ll embarrass myself, but I’ll be okay if it doesn’t work out.

When we have our family game nights, no matter what part of the country, a handful of people love seeing me lose. Maybe it’s because I talk a lot of trash (I am literally talking trash in a group text with my CedarCreek Game Night Group as I write this), but beating me isn’t all that satisfying. I get over it quickly because the competition matters more than the win. Besides, I’m on a losing streak until I figure out the newest player.

I went through my bachelor’s and master’s programs without checking my grades. I figured the university would let me know if I failed a class. It sounds arrogant, but I was confident that my hard work and attention to detail would pay off. My goal was to hone the skills that would help me live in my purpose.

This may all come off as braggadocious, but I have learned to accept failure with all of those things when I’m confident about my effort. It wasn’t always this way. Fear kept me from playing in front of a crowd as a kid. Timidity stopped me from meeting new people to play games with. Other people’s perceptions stopped me from sharing my writing, especially in school when I had to read it in front of the class. The first two were easier to overcome, but the last one left me paralyzed at presenting myself to others.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Like Timothy, we need a reminder that our fear is not from God. I could’ve used that nugget in high school. I was so scared to get in front of the class. Much like Ruby from the movie CODA, I ran away. My running included skipping British Literature so that I wouldn’t have to share my completed work. I wasn’t close enough to becoming the man who never bothered to check his grades in college. Imagine the future writer failing British Literature.

We face our fears by showing up again. Years ago, I wrote a thank you letter to my British Literature teacher because he tried to stop me from failing his class. Unfortunately, he passed away, so I found his wife on Facebook and wrote to her. She appreciated hearing how much her husband meant to me.

Jesus helps us face our fear, so do not be afraid or discouraged. What do we say to the spirit of fear? Not today.

Questions:
What are you running from in your life? How do you lean on God when you’re fearful? Do you know fear keeps you from using your gifts from God?

Next Steps:
Take GrowthTrack to humbly receive God’s gifts and learn how to use them. Take time to encourage someone struggling with fear.

Prayer:
God, help me understand that your gifts are full of love and invite me to live a purposeful life. Let me be confident and humble when I use these gifts. I know that fear is present, but I don’t have to receive it and live in it because it’s not from you, God. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


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Do What?!? – At the Movies 2022

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How hard would it be to try to make someone understand something they were incapable of experiencing? In the movie CODA, a young girl named Ruby had some very real obstacles to achieving her dream. Pastor Ben did a great job of teasing out the fears she confronted as she tried to figure it all out!

The first fear was the fear of what others would think.

When I decided to become a police officer, no one in my family understood it. No one in my family had ever done that. We didn’t even know anyone who was a police officer. My reasons were way more practical than Ruby’s, but the challenges of facing my family’s opinions were very real.

The second fear we discussed was the fear of inadequacy.

Ruby loved to sing, but no one had ever heard her. What if she wasn’t any good? For me, becoming a police officer required skills I had never learned before. I had never even held a gun, let alone considered the possibility of firing it AT someone! I’d never been in a fist fight, except for wrestling around with my younger brothers. Just like Ruby, I didn’t know if I would be good at it.

The third fear was the fear of being needy.

Ruby and I needed help to learn, but not everyone was interested in our success. Thankfully, we both had someone older and wiser come to our assistance to help us when we doubted ourselves.

The final fear we discussed was that of sacrifice—what is this going to cost the people I love? 

As we step into our dreams, they often rub up against the dreams of others. Just like Ruby, we can only see the thing we want at first. The needs of others are a bit foggy. But when the rubber meets the road, how do we weigh the benefit to us versus the harm to others? It’s tricky and challenging, but hard experiences usually offer opportunities for growth for everyone—if we take it!

I have always loved the following verses. They show that God wastes nothing in his desire to make himself real to us!

James 1:2-3
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

God shows up in the midst of our trials and makes a way for us, but it depends on us trusting him and his goodness. Only when we yield to him will we have the opportunity to grow and experience all he has for us!

Questions:
With what fear is God asking you to trust him? What dream might be blocked by that fear, and how can you overcome it?

Next Steps:
I find journaling is helpful for sorting out my feelings and discerning the validity of them. Grab some paper and a pen, and journal about a dream you have that seems to have stalled. Sort through your fears with a trusted friend and find the next step.

Prayer:
Lord God, you have amazing plans for us—ones that often require us to trust you more than is comfortable! But I believe you love it when we put our hand in yours and trust you to lead us to the next adventure! We pray for courage and understanding and help! Give us the humility to ask for help and accept the wisdom of others and the courage to move forward in the purpose you have for our lives. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


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We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


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We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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More Resources

Series Theme Verses
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RightNow Media
John Reading Plan