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.


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