A Journey from Pain to Blessing – At the Movies

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Last week, as I was reflecting on Thanksgiving and all I have to be grateful for, I was honestly overwhelmed by all the good in my life. God has given me more than I could ever deserve. Of those many blessings, the greatest blessing of all is the people I get to do life with—my friends, family, and coworkers.

The irony is that a lot of the blessings in my life right now were, at least in part, the result of pain. In the midst of dealing with the pain of a broken relationship, and the broken trust that resulted from it, I had a choice: I could either isolate myself to avoid getting hurt again, or I could lean on those around me as I healed.

Last year, I made a hard decision that upset someone I care for. I don’t blame them for responding the way they did, but their response damaged my outlook on all of my relationships. If one friendship was that easy to break, could I trust my other friends to continue to care about me, even when I make mistakes?

I could have chosen to isolate myself—it’s harder for someone to hurt me when there’s distance between us. After all, if I can’t trust others to care about me when I inevitably mess up (and since we’re all imperfect, we’re bound to make mistakes), then maybe it’s safest to just keep them at a distance.

Fortunately, I knew better. I had already learned an important principle: we all need honest friendships, authentic relationships, community, and connection—especially when we’re hurting. Instead of withdrawing, I leaned on my friends. It helped me to heal and learn from the situation. And as I realized my friends could be counted on and wanted to be there for me, those friendships became even stronger.

Proverbs 17:17
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Leaning on my friends not only strengthened my current friendships but also opened opportunities for me to form new life-giving friendships as I learned from my mistakes, grew, and honestly shared my experience.

We’re not meant to do life alone—in good times or bad. We need Jesus first and foremost, but as a close second, we need others who can help us experience God’s love in a tangible way. And then we need to help share that love with others.

When we allow others into our hurts, it can heal our hearts. It’s like medicine. And the more we heal, the more we’re available to help others do the same.

Questions:
How do you usually respond to hurt—do you withdraw or do you lean on those closest to you?

How would you want the people you love most to respond when they’re hurt?

Who can you lean on the next time your heart is hurting?

Next Steps:
If you’re not currently in a Group, I can’t encourage you enough to join one when the winter Group semester starts. One of the best ways to prepare for whatever life might throw at you is by building life-giving relationships right now.

If you’re currently struggling, reach out to a trusted friend. Just as you want to support your friends, healthy friends will want to support you—give them the opportunity to do so.

If you’re currently in a season of life where you’re thriving, look for a friend you can share the love of Jesus with.

God’s church thrives when we are there for each other.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you that I don’t have to do life alone. You have designed us to help and encourage one another—we are strongest in community. Thank you for the life-giving relationships you have placed in my life. Help me to build authentic community and connections. Help me to lean on others when I am in need and to support others when they are in need. May your will be done in us and through us. Amen.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently the apprentice copywriter at CedarCreek. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


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Thief of the Heart – At the Movies

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Proverbs 4:23
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder delved into the movie Black Widow. In the beginning, we hear the mother tell her two young daughters not to fear pain. She tells them to use their pain to make themselves stronger (and more ruthless) and to “never let it steal your heart.”

But what does that mean? Pain, both physical and emotional, can be life-altering in ways no one wants. It can make us bitter and take away from the life God has for us.

Ben described what happens inside us when pain flattens us. He said one of the things pain destroys first is trust, and when pain begins to redefine your heart in a destructive way, you stop trusting others. You begin isolating yourself, always preparing to defend yourself against every real or imagined attack.  And that’s when it happens—hurt people hurt people.

So how do we guard against that? How can we stop pain from destroying us and, instead, choose to take that pain and use it to make us stronger?

First, we need to recognize that some of the most important and meaningful lessons in our lives are born of pain. For me, the hardest lesson was watching my husband bravely live with and then succumb to the ravages of Alzheimer’s.

Somewhere along the way, I learned to ask God in every scary, painful, and even fatal circumstance, “Lord, what is it you want me to learn from this? How can I serve you better by having lived through this?”

Pain has taught me God is the potter, and as such, he has the undeniable right to choose to shape me for what he wants me to do to bring him glory. It’s never about what my self-absorbed sin nature wants to do.

After that revelation, my question then became, “Will I trust you Lord through the painful times?” Through his grace and leading, my answer has become, “I do.”

Zephaniah 3:16-17 tells Christ followers, “Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Thankfully, God has taught me several things:

First, life is full of pain, but God never wastes a hurt. In Romans 8:28, the Apostle Paul proclaims that as adopted children of God, “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.”

Secondly, God allows but does not cause our pain. God uses it to purify our sinful nature. He uses it to make us stronger, more Christ-like vessels, knowing that because Jesus suffered and died in our place for our sins, God not only goes with us through the fire, Jesus carries us through it.

Then God uses us to bless, grow, and help others through their pain-filled hurts and disasters. With God at the center of our lives, we confirm to them how and why we will never allow pain to steal our hearts.

Questions:
How do you deal with pain? Do you let it weaken and/or destroy you? Or do you let God use it to strengthen you?

Do you know Jesus Christ saved you from the price demanded for your sins?

Next Steps:
Dig deep into what the Bible has to say about how immense God’s love is for you.  He chose to sacrifice his only begotten son to save you from the punishment demanded as payment for making yourself the god of your life.

Ask questions. Talk with your DreamTeam Leader, Groups Leader, or a CedarCreek staff member. They would love to connect with you! Not sure how to connect? Check out CedarCreek.tv/connect.

Pray that you will turn your life, hurts, habits, and hangups over to the one true God who loves you.

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for giving us a way back to you, our creator, father, and lord, by providing for us what we could never provide—a perfect sinless sacrifice to pay the price for us—your son, Jesus Christ. Help us to live with and for you all the days of our lives and for all eternity. In Jesus’ name, we pray, amen.


This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.


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Choose Freedom – At the Movies

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The movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, presented by Lead Pastor Ben Snyder last weekend, offered a great segue for many of us as we step into (or attempt to avoid) the 2021 holiday season. Gathering with family, friends, and foes becomes the norm for many this time of year. For some, much effort is put forth to sidestep the dreaded invitation. The mere mention of an expectation of participation is enough to bring some to their knees in agony.

Like Lloyd Vogel, we too have been on the receiving end of offences. (It’s amazing how infrequently we notice when we deliver offences to others. Note the irony of that!) As Ben mentioned in his message, it is a battle for the heart, both when we try to get even with others and when we try to bottle up the feelings associated with offences. We are only hurting ourselves. If we choose to hold on to the hurt and resentment, it will continue to grow.

Paul knew this first hand, and it’s why he implored us in Ephesians 4:31 to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”

Don’t let these things take residence in your heart. The bitterness you have toward another person, or that person who hurt you, will only grow to hurt you more. So get rid of it. Release the person who has offended you.

Let it go, and cancel the debt.

In order to keep the bitterness from festering, we need to forgive. As Mr. Rogers said, “Forgiving is a decision we make to release a person from the feelings of anger we have at them. It’s strange, but sometimes it is hardest of all to forgive someone we love.”

Ephesians 4:32
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 5:1-2
1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.   

Ben made it clear that this is not an easy assignment, but it is an important one. He recommends we seek to understand what is going on below the surface relationally to determine what the problem is behind the issue.

Thankfully, God never forces a change in us. He, along with our fellow Christ followers, reveals a wiser path to take. At times, that may require a complete U-turn. But always remember, he loves us too much to allow us to be comfortable in our present spiritual condition.

Questions:
Do you have the tendency to hold grudges? Do you hold resentment close to your heart? Do you find it hard to forgive those having sinned against you? Do you stop and consider those you have offended and hurt? Have you made amends to those you have injured?

Next Steps:
Via RightNow Media, access Dr. Henry Cloud’s “Changes that Heal” and Bruce Wilkinson’s “70X7 Finding Peace By Forgiving Others … And Yourself.” Both resources offer spiritual understanding and tools for Christians.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I have so much to be thankful for. Your generosity is undeserved and unparalleled.  Empower me to be generous and  loving in relationships, especially the relationships that remain challenging. Help me to relinquish the resentments and anger I too easily embrace. It is the longing of my heart to generously forgive and love all humankind, allowing your love to cover all existing relational obstacles. It is only with your power and your love that this can be achieved. Your love and your patience overwhelm me—thank you. 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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Don’t Fuel the Fire – At the Movies

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It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Is it? Is it truly a beautiful day in your own personal neighborhood?

In last weekend’s movie message, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder pointed out many things we can learn from Mr. Rogers. In the movie, he befriends a man named Lloyd who has been living an unhappy, troubled life due to lingering pain from many past hurts.

We’ve likely all dealt with the pain from someone hurting us during our lifetimes, often many times over. We can be hurt by others in a variety of ways, but today, we will discuss how words can be hurtful.

What do you do when you are on the receiving end of a stinging, abusive tirade from someone? If you’re anything like me, I suspect your first reaction is to shoot right back—the old “you hurt me, so I’m going to hurt you more” tactic.

And how does that usually work out for us? They fire back with more hurt, and we counter with even more. Soon, we’re in a full-fledged gunfight with words instead of bullets. You see, all we do with that initial reaction is add more fuel to the fire.

The old me used to have a saying, “I don’t get even, I get ahead.” And while getting even or ahead may feel good in the moment, we often walk away from those incidents with a troubled heart. Revenge does not heal your heart—it only hurts the recipient and you.

In their book, “The Good Fight,” Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott list a few myths and facts about anger.

Myth: I shouldn’t hold in my anger. It’s healthy to let it out.

Fact: While it’s true that suppressing and ignoring anger is unhealthy, venting is not better. Anger is not something you have to let out in an aggressive way in order to avoid blowing up. In fact, outbursts and tirades only fuel the fire and reinforce your mismanaged anger.

Myth: Anger, aggression, and intimidation help me earn respect and get what I want.

Fact: True power doesn’t come from bullying others. People may be afraid of you, but they won’t respect you if you can’t control yourself or handle opposing viewpoints.

Myth: I can’t help myself. Anger isn’t something a person can control.

Fact: You can’t always control the situation you’re in or how it makes you feel, but you can control how you express your anger. And you can express your anger without unleashing an unbridled tirade.

What does God say about abusive words?

Ephesians 4:29
Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Wow, that sounds a lot like what Mr. Rogers does in the movie, and we saw the effect it had on Lloyd. So, what would it look like if we commit to using words that are good and helpful—even those times when others hurt us initially—instead of fueling the fire?

I’d wager you would have a more beautiful day in your neighborhood.

Questions:
How do you react to the hurtful words of others?

Are you harboring some lingering pain from past hurts?

Next Steps:
Find ways to help you avoid the initial reaction to lash out when hurt by others’ words.

Check out these other Bible verses on handling our words:

Prayer:
Loving God, I am so thankful for the gift of your Son, Jesus, who came as a living example of how to graciously handle the pain and hurt from others. Help me to draw on his example and your words to make sure I don’t fuel the fire when hurt by the words of others. Father, please help me to avoid initiating anger toward others with my words, but instead, to use words of encouragement that are good and helpful. Amen.


This post was written by Ned Miller, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Live Like It – At the Movies

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My grandma was a prominent member of my church growing up. She was a Bible study leader, sang solos, was in the choir, led the Wednesday night kid’s program, and the entire church body knew her as a woman of God.

One day in class, she was teaching about honoring Jesus with the things we watch or read, and my cousin asked her why she watched soap operas. She responded with something like, “you’re right, I probably shouldn’t watch those,” and from then on, she never watched another soap opera. That incident has stuck with me all these years. It showed me as a young child that our behavior as Christ followers, even down to the things we watch in our homes, should reflect who we claim to be.

When we invite Christ into our lives, we put off our old sin nature and put on his new nature. What does it mean to put off our old nature?

When Adam and Eve sinned, all humanity was corrupted. Through them, we were born sinners, and when we sin, we are automatically separated from God. That’s why Jesus had to come. He had to break the curse of sin with his life. When we invite him into our lives we are essentially saying, “I am done with my old way of life. I want to take on a new way of life that is filled with Jesus.” The apostle Paul talks about this exchange in his letter to the church in Ephesus:

Ephesians 4:20-24
20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Our lives should look dramatically different from the world around us. People should know we are Christians by our actions. Christ’s love should shine through us in every situation. We have the Spirit of the Living God in us. I’m not saying we will never sin, but our lives need to look different. We are the physical reflection of Christ to a world dying in its sin. If we are not allowing the Spirit to work in our lives, to convict us of sin, and give us the strength to change, we are no different than those dying in the world around us. Paul continues:

Ephesisans 5:6-9
6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

You have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. Live like it.

Questions:
Do those around you know you are a Christ-follower?

What image of Christ are you portraying to those around you?

Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin and striving to conform to the image of Christ?

Next Steps:
Next time you turn on a screen, ask yourself if what you are going to consume reflects the reality of Christ in you. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of areas in your life that do not.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to take the  punishment for my sin. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to convict me and bring me to repentance. Show me the areas of my life that are not consistent with the powerful name of Christ I claim. Help me live a life that shows the world around me that following Christ is transformative. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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The Better Way – At the Movies

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You may have heard the expression, “hurt people hurt people.” This is one of the themes from the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which we saw portions of last weekend. We watched as the pain Lloyd carried with him from his past (and tried to deny for many years) finally erupts in a physical confrontation with his father, Jerry. More harm is done. More people get involved. His initial hurt continues to grow and creates a ripple (or in this case a tsunami) effect in all of Lloyd’s closest relationships.

Then Lloyd meets a person who cares enough to listen to what is unsaid, to really understand what is causing his pain. Mr. Rogers doesn’t settle for Lloyd’s lies, rather, he asks caring questions, helping Lloyd to begin the healing process.

When someone hurts or offends us, what do we do with the mad and sad that we feel? For many, we adopt an attitude of, “You hurt me, now I’m going to hurt you.” This is certainly what we saw in the movie, and it can be seen every day on social media and TV. The idea that we must not only stand our ground but also increase the level of discord with our response has gone off the charts!

Where is reason? Where is understanding? What happened to thinking the best of someone, instead of suspecting their motives—especially when we don’t even know them or take the opportunity to get the rest of the story?

We have all been hurt or misled by someone we trusted. How should we respond to these hurts and lies? Jesus offers us another way, a better way. And if we say we follow Jesus, it’s the only way.

Matthew 5:38-42           
38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.”

It is often said that Jesus brought an upside down kingdom-focus, and we can see in these verses how true that is! Our natural reaction is found in verse 38, but Jesus says for his followers, it must not be that way. When we choose to respond differently, we take the power away from those who think they wield it. When we choose not to respond in kind, it takes the energy from the argument. When we choose to respond with love instead of vitriol, it unbalances the equation.

When we choose to give more in our exchanges than what is asked for, we are inviting grace. Grace lowers the temperature, making space for curiosity and opening the door for clarifying questions to help define the issue. Conversation brings understanding, compassion, and empathy.

James 1:19
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You  must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Questions:
Is it better for your heart when you bottle up your feelings or when you forgive others? What conflict is troubling you that needs to be resolved? Have you ever used the conflict resolution method Jesus lays out in Matthew 18:15-17?

Next Steps:
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal where your heart is hurting and how that hurt is impacting your relationships. Determine with whom you must have a conversation. Pray for guidance. Journaling often helps to define the true issue. Accept responsibility for your part, and have that conversation. Forgive, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, it is so hard for us to overlook the offenses and injuries we’ve endured. But we have Jesus as our example and our model. You have forgiven us so much more than we have suffered at the hands of others! Jesus loved us enough to come and take our sin upon himself, showing us how to live a life of love and sacrifice. Help us to make it not about us, but rather, about advancing your kingdom of love and service to others. In Jesus’ name, 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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MR. ROGERS: The Real Deal – At the Movies

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This past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder walked us through one of the most important lessons human beings can learn: how to regain our lost peace. He unwrapped this message by playing clips from the 2019 movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. This powerful movie is about a profoundly sad and angry man who meets Mr. Rogers, played by Tom Hanks.

The Mr. Roger’s Show, hosted by Fred McFeely Rogers, began on PBS in 1968 (the year I graduated from 8th grade) and ran until February 27, 2003—the day of his death from stomach cancer. In 1968, at the age of 13, I was too old to enjoy the preschool format and too young to understand the deeper meaning of what he taught.

As a matter of fact, I remained “too young” to comprehend the emotional and spiritual lessons found in his program until 2019, four years into attending Celebrate Recovery and Step Studies. It was there that I learned about owning my own faults and failings so that I could better forgive others for theirs. And it was then that I watched the movie and truly understood the message.

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

It is amazing how many practical lessons Mr. Rogers taught over the years. He gently unwrapped lessons about love, kindness, patience, and what to do with our negative emotions when someone is unkind to us.

We all have hurt in our lives. Mr. Rogers taught us that there is always something we can do with “the mad and sad that we feel when someone hurts” or offends us.

Ephesians 4:31
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.

That is what we are going to look at this week in the LIO.

In the meantime, pause for a few minutes and think about your relationships and what you can do to live a more loving and peace-filled life.

Questions:
Have you ever ended a relationship because of the behavior of someone else toward you or toward someone you love? What was your attitude  when you did this?

Did you ever wonder if your own angry response and grudge-holding, unforgiving heart is just allowing them to continue to hurt you?

Have you ever thought there must be a more effective, life affirming, peacemaking response than living life with the lust for revenge and unwillingness to forgive?

Next Steps:
Pick up your Bible and start by reading Colossians 3:1-17 to find out what the Savior of your eternal life teaches about being freed from the captivity of hate, fear, and anger.

Check out Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered program for adults designed to help people find freedom from their hurts, habits, and hang-ups.

Let go of the anger, unforgiveness, and hate that is only hurting you and keeping you in captivity.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for saving me from my sins—past, present, and future—by sending Jesus to pay the price I owe for all of them. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me so much that you laid down your life so that I could know the One True God and live with him, you, and the Holy Spirit in fellowship for eternity. Lord, I pray that you will touch hurting hearts today and turn lost sinners into your children as they accept your gift of salvation through our savior, Jesus Christ, and accept the presence of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to guide and guard his own until his return. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.


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.


Leave a Comment?

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.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

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John Reading Plan


The Author’s Great Story – At the Movies

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I often find myself planning out my day, creating a schedule or checklist in the morning. (Sometimes, I get proactive and do it the night before.) Yet, even when I carefully schedule my day, it often gets messed up. The cookies I baked took longer than anticipated. The math lesson was harder than I thought it would be. None of these are bad things, but when they mess up my “perfect” plan, I get frustrated, stressed, and anxious.

Last weekend, as part of the At the Movies series, we watched Passengers. Aurora, one of the main characters, had perfectly planned out her life. She was going to travel to a new planet in hypersleep, write a story about her adventures, then travel back to Earth so everyone could read her book. She had a plan and nothing could stop her.

Except Aurora woke up earlier than she had planned. When she found out that Jim, the man she loved and the only other alert passenger on board, was the one who roused her, she was irate. Her “perfect” plan to become an acclaimed author was ruined, and there was nothing she could do about it. She had lost all of her (alleged) control.

In reality, the Bible tells us that we are never in control. God is the real author, the real storyteller. Time and again, when God’s children try to create their own stories, they are directed back onto his path. The Israelites walked in the desert for forty years after choosing to disobey. King Ahab died in a battle after God warned him not to go to war. Mary gave birth to the Son of God, something she never even imagined. Even Jesus prayed for God to remove his suffering, but only if it was his Father’s will.

Proverbs 16:9
We make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

Proverbs 19:21
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

Aurora eventually chose to live her story, rather than planning it all out. This choice brought her more love, freedom, and adventure than her own plans would have ever allowed. When we trust God with his perfect story for our lives, we experience the same—love, freedom, and adventure beyond comparison.

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.

Romans 12:2
Don’t follow the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Questions:
When do you attempt to assert the most control over your own life and make your own plans? Are you willing to allow God to write your story, rather than trying to pick up the pen yourself? How can you direct your trust to God?

Next Steps:
Pay attention to the times you start planning to write your own story. Pray for God to help you trust and rely on him completely. Freely give your plans to the Author of your story.

Prayer:
Great Author, your story is beyond comparison! Thank you for allowing me to be a character in it. I have repeatedly tried to become the author. Help me to trust that your story is good and pleasing and perfect. You are giving me more love, freedom, and adventure than I can imagine! What a relief it is not to be in control. 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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Spaceships & Sacrifice – At the Movies

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When crisis strikes the Starship Avalon, Jim Preston and Aurora Lane must set aside their differences and work together to save their ship and the thousands of people still in hibernation on board. As they work to solve the problem, it becomes increasingly clear that one of them must make a sacrifice to save the day.

Movie-goers love a good story of a sacrificial hero—someone willing to risk everything, including their life, to save the day and the people they love. Last weekend’s movie, Passengers, offers us another great example as Jim steps out into open space and nearly loses his life while attempting to save the ship, the hibernating passengers, and the woman he loves.

Jim’s sacrifice reminds me of the word of Jesus recorded in John 15:

John 15:12-13
“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

What Jesus is foreshadowing, and what Jim’s moment of sacrifice is reflecting, is Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus gave up everything and laid down his life to save us from the punishment we deserve for our sins.

Jesus commands us to love others as he first loved us. Just as he demonstrated his great love for us by laying down his life for us, we must lay down our lives for others. Now, not many of us will have the opportunity to physically lay down our lives and die for others, but each of us has the opportunity to metaphorically “lay down our lives” for Jesus and for others.

We lay down our life by giving up our own way and trusting Jesus’ way. By putting others above ourselves. By seeking to serve before being served, and by seeking to understand before being understood. Ultimately, we lay down our life by fully following Jesus and obeying him, no matter the cost.

Jim willingly risked his life to save Aurora. After they saved the day and Jim made it back alive, Aurora was faced with a choice: she could go back to hibernation, leaving Jim all alone, or she could give up her old way of life to be with Jim. In the end, she chose to sacrifice her life for Jim, just as he had sacrificed his life for her.

Jesus gave up everything, including his life, to save you. Because of his sacrificial death and the amazing miracle of his resurrection, he now offers you a choice: you can continue to do life your own way, or you can give up your old way of life and follow him.

Questions:
How does it feel to know that Jesus gave up everything, including his life, for you?

What do you think Jesus is asking you to give up for him?

Next Steps:
Read Matthew 16:24-26 and Mark 10:17-22. Identify what Jesus might be calling you to give up for him. Surrender that to him.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for giving up everything to save me. My life is yours. I surrender all I am and all I have to you. Amen.


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


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.


Leave a Comment?

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.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

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
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


Are You All Alone? – At the Movies

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We continued our series, At the Movies, last weekend with the movie Passengers. Lead Pastor Ben Snyder revealed some hidden messages in the movie that, on the surface, may not be apparent.

Jim Preston is one of 5,000 passengers and 258 crew on board the Starship Avalon, whose destination is the colony world of Homestead II. The journey from Earth to Homestead will take 120 years, and due to the length of the voyage, the crew and passengers will be in hibernation pods for all but the last four months. Approximately thirty years into the odyssey, the ship collides with an asteroid that damages the computer controlling one hibernation pod—and Jim is awakened.

As an engineer, Jim tries for almost a year to get the ship turned around or to get himself back into a hibernation state. Unfortunately, all his efforts are in vain. Luckily, the ship is automated and Jim has everything he needs—he is healthy, he has plenty of food to eat, he has shelter, and he’s totally safe.

The only problem is that Jim is all alone, and it’s killing him. Being alone might be good for a week, a month, or even a year, but loneliness for Jim became crippling.

Life is no good alone!

Genesis 2:18
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

Up to this point, everything God created was good—so why did the Lord say this was not good? God did not design us to live in solitude; we were made as social beings. His plan was for us to live and to share life together, walking with him. God provided a woman, an equal, for Adam so he would not be lonely.

Jim is much like Adam in the garden of Eden before Eve. Like Adam, Jim has everything he could possibly want at his disposal, but he is lonely. He knew that in order to survive he needed someone to share his life with.

We too need others in our lives. Don’t try to do life on your own. We are not made to be alone; life is better in community.

If you are not currently part of a life-giving church, seek one that helps you know God, find freedom, discover your purpose, and make a difference—and join it! Surround yourself with other Christ followers who can support you on your journey.

Questions:
Do you feel lonely? If so, what can you do to rectify the situation?

What would you do if you were in a situation like Jim’s? Would you awaken someone to be with you to end your loneliness?

Next Steps:
Consider joining a Group for winter semester. With the hundreds of groups available, you are certain to find one that will fill your desires.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit so we may share love with others. Grant us wisdom to discern the difference between right and wrong. Thank you for giving us a desire for companionship. Thank you for sending your son to die for our sins. It’s in his name that we pray, 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.


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.


Leave a Comment?

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.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

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:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan