Monday, April 29, 2019

Eastertide | Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection Parts 3 and 4: Faith and Life

Emmaus City Church Resurrection Sunday Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities


Raised?: Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection Four-Part Documentary: The Story of Unbelief to Belief for Benjamin and Jessica Parts 3 and 4

This post about Raised? includes the last two parts of the four-part documentary produced by Moving Works | A Non-Profit Filmmaking Company about Benjamin and Jessica Roberts story. Here is the link to the previous post featuring the first two parts:

This video series takes an unflinching look at a decade-long journey of doubting the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Whether you believe in Jesus, are an atheist, or follow another faith or spiritual direction, I think you will find something in the Roberts' honest portrayal of their life as a couple that captures your attention. Below are links to the last two parts Part 3 | Faith and Part 4 | Life – including quotes from the videos along with a few quotes from the book, Raised?.

Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection Video Part 3 | Faith

Emmaus City Church Resurrection Sunday Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

" ... we went to Europe. We were in a swimming pool in Spain. We had just seen all these marvels of the world. All these beautiful museums and beautiful towns. And I felt like we were just walking around aimlessly. I remember very vividly that Ben asked me, 'There's got to be something more than this. Do you think maybe we're supposed to be parents?' In all honesty at that time, having a kid was just another thing to fill the hollowness in my life. But the journey that that put us on was what became significant. Because we started to pray. ...

" ... Maybe this would be the answer. Maybe this would satisfy the emptiness. So we started looking into foster care and adoption. And the people in foster care classes just told us horrible, awful stories about abuse. And we didn't think we had the emotional depth to cope with it. So we started praying more about it. 'Why is this feeling in our hearts that we should be parents? God, if you're there, give us answer for how to move forward.' ...

" ... We ended up adopting from Thailand. And God in his grace brought us to our beautiful son, Solomon. The first time I held Solomon in my arms, having prayed so much that he might be ours, and having prayed and asked several times for forgiveness for the things I had done in the past, when I held him, I just felt like I had been truly forgiven. ... It was a miracle, what happened. On the second day, he began to trust us and he would run to us and give us this belly laugh. When he fell asleep in our arms on the second day, we laid him down on the bed, and we knelt beside it, and we wept for hours. I realized that God's grace was much bigger than I imagined and that all this fear that I felt and dread of punishment, and dread of suffering, was defeated by this grace. It was as if God had very tangibly given us a message that he loved us, and that he had been pursuing us all this time even as we were running away from him. ... 

 " ... I was still this very, very broken person, and I had yet to turn to what I knew at this point was the source of all hope, but I recognized that change was impossible to resist. So I continued in my stubborn way to fail. ... If I'm going to be a dad, I clearly can't do this by myself, because I keep messing up. We spent another year struggling, having an addiction to alcohol and drugs. We really wanted to be loving and gracious to each other and good to our son. But in our own strength, we just ended up being mean to each other. ... 

" ... When I first started going to church, I thought it was just another thing you kind of do. Like 'alcoholics go to church.' But God placed us in a good Christian community where people were asking tough questions and people did have good answers for the struggles we had had in the past. And all these things I had been seeking for answers in I found in Christ. ... One of the last things I surrendered to God was my depression. But it felt at that time that if I get rid of this depression, then in a sense, I'm getting rid of everything I know about myself and not allowing any room for the person that I am. And that was terrifying. And so, slowly, piece by piece, I began surrendering that to God. ... And I realized in that surrendering it all to God wasn't going to eradicate who I was. It was going to renew who I was. ... God doesn't distance himself from our suffering. He loves us and enters in to our suffering. ... It sounds crazy to say, but God cured me of clinical depression. God taught me how to control my anger. None of this I was doing on my own. ... "

" ... In American culture, we define ourselves by things like sexual orientation, political party, race, religion, or even our home state. You can find your identity in your occupation, your alma mater, your hobbies, and even your clothes. ... I am what I eat, who I sleep with, how I make money, what I wear, what I look like, or where I came from. How we view ourselves is closely tied to how well we are doing in these various arenas of life. ... The interesting thing about all of these identities is that they depend on what we do. But the resurrected life is different. Instead of being named by the things we have done, we are named 'in the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit.' We are no longer defined by our rise and fall in success and failure. Instead, our identity is defined by God's utter success over our sinful failures and his gift of new life. We have a new identity. The New Testament describes our newfound identity in these ways: child of God, friend of God, servant, sent one, reconciler, disciples, blessed, new creation ...  Raised?pgs. 82-83

Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection Video Part 4 | Life


Emmaus City Church Resurrection Sunday Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

" ... He's put a new spirit in me. Not the spirit I had before, but a spirit of power, and of love, and self control. And I've seen how much God loves me and has adopted me as his child and leads me with the gentle wisdom of a perfect father. ... For all of my despair, Christ gives me joy. Not some cheesy, 'ignorance is bliss.' Not some numbness ... but genuine joy. I've learned in Christ to align my grief with what grieves God. I've aligned my heart with Christ's heart and in it I find new life and hope. ...

" ... For all of my doubts, Christ gives me gratitude. I'm genuinely thankful for the mystery of God, for the things that I don't have an answer for. I feel like God's power and love is too much to be revealed all at once. So what we have instead is a Father revealing himself to us in the every day life of his family. ... When I walked away from the faith, it was because I didn't see Christians extending the love and grace and healing of Christ in the world. Now I've had the blessing of seeing people even extend his healing to me and extending his healing to the people I love. That's a beautiful thing to see. ... Living a life in the way of Christ isn't just a way of thinking or even a way of acting. It's not a performance on any level. So I no longer have to do anything to please God. God's fully pleased in me because Christ died for me, because Christ was raised from the dead. Because he came back and has defeated death and has given me life and freed me from my fear of death. I can be free ... the person God made me to be. ... "

" ... When we were living by our own strength, we completely failed at being parents, actually rejecting it and being overwhelmed and paralyzed. ... Now through his grace and in his strength, Ben and I are taking steps to answer his call to foster, to adopt. We're actually selling our house now and a lot of our stuff in order to better use the resources he's given us to care of his children. ... 

" ... Is life perfect? No. Life is a struggle. Life is messy. Following Christ is a mess. There are moments when it feels like pure chaos trying to juggle my work as a writer, my work at the hospital, my family life, these hopes for being a foster parent, moving ... but I'm no longer sustained on my own energy or in my own power. So when I feel despair, or feel overcome, I feel like I can go to my community, I can run to God in prayer, I can go to Scriptures, I can rest in his Spirit. There are moments of silence where I can feel God comforting me even as I'm comforting other people who are hurting. I have a friend with cancer who I'm driving to the hospital every day. I have a friend who's blind; I bring him food. I can be a father to my son. I can be a husband to my wife. ... I can be a friend to people who don't have friends. ... 

" ... The beauty of following Christ is ... we don't have to be perfect. We can rest in his perfection. We can rest in his plan. So he is my strength, my shield, my hope, my joy, my love. It's all him. So he's the one that's reconciling all things and I get to be a small part of the great work that he's doing as he's making all things new, even me. It's not blind obedience to God as a means to gain God's good grace. It's because God has forgiven me even when I rejected him. His forgiveness gives me the power to forgive others. So I'm no longer doing all of this as a way to gain God's favor. But because God has loved me, now I am free to love others. I'm free to forgive myself of my shortcomings because God has forgiven me. I'm free to get into the messiness of life without any fear. ... "  

" ... Jesus tells those who follow him to leave all they have behind, to give their lives to the poor, to love their enemies, and to be a blessing to the world. Let's not pretend this is easy to do. Following Jesus will require your whole life. Not just part of it. Not just your leisure time. Not just some of your budget. ... it requires your whole life. It will feel like death and suffering at times. It will feel that way because you are laying your life down. That's what the resurrection looks like in daily life. We do not hold anything back our talents, possessions, or time because we live with the certainty that death and sin have been defeated. ... The same power that raised Jesus from the dead empowers us to live a life for Jesus. ... This is why we give, celebrate, and serve: we have died and have been raised again to experience new and abundant life. ...  Raised?pgs. 94-95

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike "Sully" Sullivan

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