Is Your Past Holding You Back? – At the Movies

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What pain from your past is holding you back?

Perhaps it’s the loss of a loved one, a choice you regret, something you said you wish you could take back, a broken relationship, a hurt you caused, or maybe, a hurt someone caused you.

In Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise’s character (Maverick) is held back by the pain of losing his best friend (Goose) during a training accident that he blamed himself for. Understandably, it’s difficult for Maverick to move on and step into a new assignment—training a group of pilots, which includes Goose’s son.

Sometimes, it’s not the pain from our past holding us back, it’s our past success. We focus too much on past glories and achievements, gloating about all we have accomplished over the years. This over-identification with our past successes can lead us to become prideful, and pride can lead us to disgrace, conflict, and ultimately, destruction (see Proverbs 11:2, 13:10, & 16:18).

Whether you feel held back from past pain or success, I think there’s one first-century pastor, Paul, who would understand. He experienced great success in his life, but he also experienced much pain and loss. As he went along his adventure with Jesus, he learned an important lesson about letting go of the past that he shared with a church in Philippi.

Philippians 3:13-14
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us

Paul wasn’t saying it’s easy to let go of past pain or success, but he was saying letting go is an important part of the adventure with Jesus. Yes, we should still learn from and reflect on our past at times, but we should not allow it to dictate and control our daily life.

Thanks to Jesus, we don’t have to be identified with the mistakes of our past and we can find healing from our past pains. When we let go of our past, we are free to fully step into the adventure God has for us today.

Questions:
What pain from your past is holding you back?

What failure from your past are you over-identifying with?

What success / achievement from your past are you over-identifying with?

Next Steps:
If there is a pain from your past holding you back, consider  Celebrate Recovery, joining a Group, or finding a friend who you can safely share it with.

Consider seeking professional help from a counselor who can help you explore the pains from your past. Check out our Counselor Referral List HERE.

Prayer:
Father, please help me to let go of the past pain or success that is holding me back. Please help me to step boldly into the adventure you have for me today. Thank you for your sacrifice and love for me. Amen.


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


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Be a Goldfish – At the Movies

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Last night, I was practicing my driving with my dad, and I accidentally ran a red light. I was feeling so terrible about it, that I forgot to make a turn and promptly got lost. I’ve only had about twelve hours behind the wheel, but still, I was frustrated at myself for messing up. So my dad looked over at me, and quoting the wise Ted Lasso said:

You know what the happiest animal in the world is? A goldfish. It’s got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish, Lydia.”

I don’t know about you, but I beat myself up over things that happened days, months, and sometimes even years ago—things that nobody remembers but me. If you can’t tell, I’m probably the opposite of a goldfish.

But this is not how God wants us to live.

Romans 8:1-3
1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 

We are free from sin’s power. It no longer has any control over us. It doesn’t need to dominate our thoughts or our actions or our future. We don’t have to keep punishing ourselves for things God has already declared an end to.

Romans 6:14
Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

I have heard people say that God moves our sins far away from himself, so far he doesn’t see them anymore. However, if God sent our sins away from him, he would have to send us away too. Instead, God removes our sins from us and places them on himself, because he is the only one that can overcome our sins. Our sins no longer apply to us, we are as far away from them as the east is from the west.

Psalm 103:12
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west (emphasis added).

When we mess up, it’s important to apologize to whomever we hurt, but then we can move on. Yes, our failures can impact our future, but God is the one writing our story.

Be a goldfish.

Questions:
What past mistakes have you been holding onto that you need to let go of?

Next Steps:
Next time you start shaming yourself over a past mistake, give yourself the time you need to apologize, whether that is to God, someone else, or yourself, and then move on. Choose to live from God’s grace, completely receiving his gift.

Listen to the songs So Will I and Run to the Father. Pay attention to the lyrics about our failures and how God handles them.

If you haven’t already, sign up for our special LIO Flash Fiction series that parallels the movie theme each week by texting FICTION to 419-419-0707.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for freeing me from all of my mistakes and sins. I am amazed by your incredible gift, but sometimes, I try to make up for what you have already covered. Help me as I learn to allow myself to forgive what you already have. Amen.


This post was written by Lydia Snyder. Lydia has been a story-lover for as long as she can remember, often found reading books or writing. She is thrilled to be making a difference by inspiring others to take part in the best story ever – God’s story. Lydia lives with her three wonderful siblings and two amazing parents.


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Let the Past Be – At the Movies

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Have you ever chosen to stay where you are because living in the past kept you from moving forward? You see it many times in movies and in real life—the “kids” who never grow up because high school was the best time of their lives.

I was one of those kids. Although I enjoyed the Friday night lights and cruising the circuit (Findlay people know what I mean.), those small successes weren’t what kept my feet in place. We heard last weekend that sometimes the success of our past holds us back from what’s next. However, more often, it’s a pain from our past—the hurts, mistakes, and regrets—that holds us back when we least expect it.

I remember when I wouldn’t share my good and successful moments. I thought, “Who am I to deserve any of it?” I ignored opportunities pulling me toward what I wanted because those most important to me couldn’t share in the joy. I didn’t want to overshadow someone else’s extinguished hope with my dreams and purpose. I was the champion of carrying their pain, foolishly believing I was somehow helping.

It wasn’t until someone shared that it was okay for me to move on that I began trying to live the life I was given. I was thankful for her “whisper(ed) words of wisdom.” 

Philippians 3:13
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,… 

I never realized that some of the people closest to me could see the internal pain I was creating by living in the past. Changing my focus gave me the strength to finally let go. It opened my eyes to see that the people I thought I was championing never wanted that burden for me. Last weekend, we heard that “God can’t put something new in your hand if you’re holding onto something old.” Letting go isn’t the same as ignoring what was—it’s surrendering the past to God, so you can accept his plan for you moving forward.

Questions:
What do you need to let go of in your life? Why are you afraid to let it go?

Next Steps:
Pray about the things in your past that are keeping you from taking your next step. Read more of Philippians 3 to understand Paul’s messages. Invite someone to join you on this new journey or offer someone an invitation to church so they can start their own.

Take a step toward finding freedom! Check out Celebrate Recovery to help you navigate your hurts, habits, or hang-ups.

If you haven’t already, sign up for our special LIO Flash Fiction series that parallels the movie theme each week by texting FICTION to 419-419-0707.

Prayer:
God, let me continue moving on from the past so I can keep moving forward in the life you planned for me. Help me understand that letting go can help honor those who have gone before me. The past cannot steady the unrest in my present, so I surrender it all to you. 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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The Uncomfortable Zone – At the Movies

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A couple of decades ago, my family and I went to Riverside Park in Findlay during Easter Holy Week to see an artist working on a sand sculpture of Christ on the cross. His work was amazing!

He had a couple of people helping him with chores, but the sculpting was all him. As I talked with him and complimented him on his work, I felt a strong nudging from God to ask if he needed any help. He told me he could always use some people to shovel sand if I was interested.

I am not an artist by any remote means of the word, never claimed to be, nor will I ever be. I don’t know what I was expecting him to ask me to help with. The idea of shoveling sand in rainy, chilly, early spring weather in Ohio, did not appeal to me, so I politely put the invitation aside. Besides, he seemed to be doing just fine without me.

To make a long story short, the following Easter, we went back to see the sculpture again, and again, I felt a calling to help. This time when he invited me to grab a shovel, I accepted.

Moving the sand was hard work, especially in bad weather. It was not glamorous by any means, but as we worked, I talked with the artist and got to know his heart and passion. We became good friends. Eventually, after several years of shoveling tons of sand, he taught me how to make realistic looking rocks and boulders in the sand.

My first efforts were complete failures and looked like thick pancakes slapped against a wall. But eventually, with some kind guidance from my artist friend, I became pretty good. Eventually, he trusted me to do almost all the rocks in the display, which grew every year over the 10 years I had the honor of helping him.

I met many people who visited the sculpture during those years. I even had the honor of helping lead several to Christ.

The point of this story is that sometimes God brings us to places that don’t seem thrilling or purposeful, like shoveling tons of sand. But if we trust his calling instead of succumbing to our own desires for glory, he will take us to places we could never have imagined.

Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

In Top Gun: Maverick, Maverick also found himself in a situation that, in his eyes, didn’t seem at all thrilling or purposeful. He was given orders to teach a mission to other, younger pilots, when all he really wanted to do was fly the mission himself.

The Bible gives us many similar examples. God ordered Noah to build a huge ship in the middle of a desert and Moses to travel to Egypt and tell Pharoah to release all his Jewish slaves. Abraham was ordered by God to offer up his only son as a sacrifice. In these and many other circumstances, God called people to perform unpleasant tasks that seemed to lack purpose. But because of their faith, they listened to God and obeyed his calling.

The result?

They are some of the great heroes of the Bible that we, as Christians, admire to this day.

Questions:
What uncomfortable zone might God be calling you to step into today?

Will you trust God and follow his call, or will you let your own feelings lead the way?

Next Steps:
If you haven’t seen it, watch the movie Top Gun: Maverick to see a modern example of where stepping into an uncomfortable calling can lead you.

Keep yourself open to any and all possibilities God may be leading you to.

If you haven’t already, sign up for our special LIO Flash Fiction series that parallels the movie theme each week by texting FICTION to 419-419-0707.

Prayer:
Father, I trust that you have a specific purpose for me in your plans. I understand the places you lead me may not be in my comfort zone or seem thrilling or purposeful to me. Help me to trust your will and not my own when you call me outside my comfort zone. Give me the wisdom to seek your guidance as I follow the path you would have me walk. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


This post was written by Ned Miller. Ned loves serving through writing on the LIO team, prayer team, group leader and as a greeter. He loves spending time with his family and working on his model railroad.


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Restoration – At the Movies

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My oldest daughter, Anna, is a lieutenant in the Navy. While she was in officer training school, she met Renee, who was also going into aviation. They have been super close friends for over five years now.

Completing flight school and being a pilot is extremely difficult and stressful. Renee and Anna have supported each other, laughed together, and shared dreams and sorrows with each other. I know Renee has been a lifeline for Anna, and I thank God they are friends.

This weekend, we kicked off the series, At the Movies, by featuring Top Gun: Maverick. My husband and I watched this movie as proud navy parents. As I was reflecting on the weekend sermon, I thought about how much Renee and Anna’s friendship was like Goose and Maverick’s.

I can’t imagine the pain Maverick would have experienced losing Goose. Many years later, he was still feeling guilt and grieving the loss of his best friend. As we learned in the sermon, if we’re not careful, our past can hold us captive, causing us to miss our purpose

Maverick was just existing—not living.

He was an old, washed-up navy pilot. He earned many Navy accommodations but never moved up in rank. He had a reputation for being a loose cannon and breaking rules. In all of his pain, he had forgotten his purpose. He lost sight of who he was and why he was created.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us a long ago.

In the movie, Maverick received new orders and was sent back to Top Gun, where he was briefed on a dangerous mission. At first, he’s ecstatic, because he thinks he will be flying the mission. But then he finds out that his orders are to instruct a new group of Top Gun pilots so they can complete the mission.

To make matters worse, he also discovers that one of the pilots is Goose’s son, Rooster. Rooster and Maverick have a strained relationship. They are both being held captive by their troubled pasts, and they have both continued to carry deep pain from the loss of Goose.

As the movie unfolds, you see the relationship between Rooster and Maverick be restored. They learn to work together and find forgiveness, and in the process, they accomplish their mission—together.

Whatever hurt and pain you are holding onto, remember God loves you so much. He wants you to live in his peace, love, and joy. He wants a restored relationship with you. It doesn’t matter what you have done in your past, he has a purpose for your life today. God can turn your heartbreak into something amazingly good.

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Questions:
What guilt and pain are you holding on to? Ask yourself if it is affecting your relationship with God. And if so, what can you do about it?

Next Steps:
Pray to God for restoration and surrender your pain and guilt to him.

Sign up for our special LIO Flash Fiction series that parallels the movie theme each week by texting FICTION to 419-419-0707.

Prayer:
God, I am so grateful and thankful that you love me so much. I am overwhelmed that you, the God of the universe, consider me your masterpiece. Lord, please bring restoration in my life. Heal all my pain and guilt, and draw me closer to you. Fill me with your peace, hope, love, and joy, and help me to fulfill your purpose for my life. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


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