Mission F5K:

This post is about a mission from God that I embarked on 2 weeks ago instead of one of my usual contemplative posts. 

Now that I have had time to process my experience, I can talk about it.  

I learned more than I thought I would spiritually, emotionally, socially, and the experience was life changing for my walk with God.  

I had the opportunity to be an extra in a TV show 2 weeks ago.  The show is called The Chosen.  It’s about Jesus and his disciples. 

Believe it or not it’s actually a great show.  Most “Christian” entertainment is cheesy or boring and sometimes we try to see past it’s flawed execution so that we can show others the love of God but our efforts usually fall flat because at the end of the day it’s still bad content.  Bad writing, bad direction, bad actors, bad cinematography, etc. 

The Chosen isn’t.   It’s actually quite entertaining.  (But don’t take my word for it. Check it out yourself. All it costs you is your time because the app is free.

They were filming the show in Midlothian Texas, this summer for the feeding of the 5,000 scene. They needed background people.  (I had wanted to participate in the Sermon on the Mount as an extra which they filmed 15 months earlier for season 2, but I couldn’t due to COVID and the ice storm that Texas got.)

The feeding of the 5,000 was filmed over 4 days with extras.  I participated on Wednesday June 8 and Thursday June 9. 

The first obstacle was getting to Texas:

We decided to drive.  It was a 15 hour drive that we broke up into 3 days down and 3 days back. 

On the way down, my faith was tested because I have never driven that far on my own but God was faithful to me and my wife. 

Trusting God would continually to be a theme for most of the trip. 

We finally got to Dallas, Texas.  I’ve never driven in a city that big before. Between the cars, the people, and new traffic patterns I was tested. 

After a few days, I got used to it. I didn’t think that would ever be possible in a big city. I even listened to music while we were in the city. Normally, I have to cut it off so that I can concentrate.

The night before filming: 

I was nervous that my rapid COVID test would fail in the stadium the next morning. So I purchased a rapid test. My results were fine. Once again, I just needed to trust God.

I blame my hesitancy to trust on the pandemic.  It’s really hard to trust the people who are in charge when they keep changing their answers as well as the rules (Regardless of where your political affiliations lean, the pandemic could have been handled better.) 

The pandemic as also made us realize how fragile life really is.  

Filming Day 1:

I got lost on the way to the stadium.  I didn’t trust the GPS, even though I had driven the route the night before. 

If I had just trusted the GPS, I wouldn’t have gone around in a circle four times trying to find where I needed to turn.

God sometimes will give you a preview of life’s next steps, just like a GPS does, but if you trust in your own experience or understanding of how events could play out instead of having faith and trusting in His timing, you’ll end up going around in circles. 

“The clouds that morning calmed me down as I turned into the stadium. If you look carefully, it’s almost as if you can see a face in the clouds. God was faithful!

As we boarded the bus to take us to the set, we heard prerecorded audio come over the bus speakers.

“You will be waiting a long time between takes…it will be boring.” Dallas Jenkins, the director of the show voice echoed on the bus.  

“Maybe for some perhaps.  But not for me.” I thought. “This is what I have been waiting for and now I’m finally here!”

The bus turned into Camp Hoblitzelle and then we arrived on set.

https://www.facebook.com/hoblitzelle

On Set:

If I could use several words to describe what the first day was like, I would call it a “Disney World experience. “

They had entertainment throughout the day. Over the 2 day period there had to have been at least 10,000 people there. (The video below shows the highlights from Tuesday’s event.)

It was hot and a lot of people ended up dropping out by the end of the day due to the heat. 

Comparatively speaking, where I live in Virginia, we have more humidity but lower temperatures.  I sweat more here working outside than I did down there over the two days.  

The closer we got to filming the afternoon shots, the more the devil tried to make me afraid. “Oh you hear what the assistant director is saying up there on the stage about the heat? You’ll die if you stay here and your wife will have to find another way home!” After calling my mother in law and getting some perspective, I was able to continue through the day. 

Sometimes we partner with the devil without realizing it because the interpretation of life events that he gives us seems true at the time, but we must remember that he is the “father of lies,” (John 8:44). The false interpretation of our life experiences can be fixed if we ask God to give us His interpretation of life’s events. We must be mindful because our interpretation of life becomes our reality. 

Don’t let the devil talk you out of your dreams or the mission that God has called you to do. If God got you to it, He will lead you through it!

I went down to the set in Midlothian to learn. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, but I also wanted to see how they film movies and TV shows because filmmaking is one of my hobbies.

I was in that field for 3 hours during filming that day. It felt like 3 minutes because I was so swept up in the process.

I had prayed for a spirit of learning while on set and God provided!

The director thanked us for our Sacrifice of Praise.  “Everyone of you has sacrificed something to be here.” After he finished talking, the clouds moved over us for a time. It was nice to have a few minutes of a break from the sun.

Dallas Jenkins talks a lot about “bringing your loaves and fish” to the show.  In the Bible story ,the boy gave what he had and it was multiplied. In the same way, all of the extras gave their loaves and fish of time and resources to be there participating in the scene.

“My wife’s loaves and fish for the show was the burlap bag. We made it the night before filming to keep all of my stuff in that would go to set. I got a lot of complements on it. It was strong enough to carry a 10 pound rug all day so it passed the test.”

Filming Day 2:

Only people who were really dedicated came back the next day. I liked it better than Wednesday. I could feel the Holy Spirit more than I could the first day. The day before there were just too many people and it was hard to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. It reminded me of the story of Abraham and Isaac when they were going to the mountain to worship. 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:3-5). Sometimes, we need to leave the crowds and distractions of this world and go to the mountain to worship God. (In my case, I left the mountains to worship God.)

There was nothing to occupy our time on the second day as we waited to go to set. The waiting part of the day was longer because they ended up canceling the afternoon shots because of the heat. We had plenty of time to ourselves until the night shoot for those who were able to stay. I made a lot of rock jewelry out of hemp rope.  I also had enough time to learn tribal dynamics. There were two big white tents that most people were under. There were also other people who were scattered underneath smaller tents that had been used for passing out food and water the day before.

“The white tents were just too hot to be under. I didn’t last.”

I would say that the white tents represented the tribe as a whole and the outlier tents represented those who had more leadership characteristics. I feel like we all took a step back in time to when we were hunter gatherers on the second day of filming. I’m wondering if this is embedded in our DNA and all the busyness of life buries it deep within us, so that it’s just a distant echo of the way life used to be.  

I also noticed that my walking pace changed over the course of the two days. When it’s hot, you walk with more intention. Since your mind isn’t covered up in busyness it allows you to listen to God. 

One of the neatest parts of the morning, was that we participated in a wedding. The couple’s story was that they had met when they watched The Chosen together after their spouses had passed away. They had come to participate in the feeding of the 5,000 as well as get married.

https://fb.watch/dOWcxGQgZn/

One of the things that I prayed about for my mission was that I could be a blessing to others.  

What I didn’t realize is that it works both ways.  While you bless others others will bless you.  

I didn’t talk to a lot of people over the course of the two days, but those who God wanted me meet I met.

One guy and his friend were from Philadelphia.  He gave me some good ideas for helping students in my class get creative.   

Another lady was from Nebraska and she came alone. She was contemplating a career change so I was able to share my thoughts on career versus calling.

It was so natural to talk to them about God because there wasn’t a hurried pace that day.  Sometimes I think here in the USA commercialism bleeds into our evangelism. “Here is the product I’m trying to sell you called salvation in Christ alone.”  It’s sad that the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ is put behind a paywall that is marketed to a privileged few. That was never Jesus’s intention. 

The most soul killing thing for all of humanity has been the distraction of progress over the pursuit of spiritual truth. 

Help Younger Believers:

Another truth that I learned on set was that we must be careful with our younger brothers and sisters in Christ. We must protect them until they can transition off spiritual milk and eat spiritual meat.  

“This verse keeps coming to mind every single day as the world gets more divided. Not just in the secular world but in the Christian one as well.”

There was a lady who was searching for a clean napkin around the trashcan. I was right beside the trashcan getting ready to throw my trash out as I told her “here you can have my napkin. ” She remarked with wide eyes, “did God tell you to do that?” 

I just smiled. 

I’m not discrediting or putting anyone down when I say this, but not everything that happens in life is something spiritual. We must be on guard against hyperspiritually. There are other factors that must be considered when things happen in our world. While there is a spiritual dimension to everything for those of us who believe in a biblical worldview, we must also consider both external and internal factors.

While we are called to test the spirits, we are also called to have wisdom. 

I would be very careful with someone who is in my church or under my care in some capacity who is like this because they could be deceived.

Some leaders in the church are wolves in sheep‘s clothing and they use and understand just enough of the “Christianese language” to draw people in and further away from truth of God’s Word. 

The Night Shoot and Final Revelations:

7 hours later we were finally called down to the set for the final scenes of the feeding of the 5,000. It was finally starting to cool off and we saw a beautiful sunset as we started heading down to the field.

“God provided a timeless sunset on the final day of the F5K experience.”

The mood was lighthearted and the crew were all in good spirits for the night shoot. The actors who were out in the field kept us entertained as we waited for the crew to set up the lights for the shot. But we all could feel that our time on the set was coming to a close.

The scene that was being shot was after Jesus had feed the 5,000. He was preaching into the night. We couldn’t hear him in the back, by design, so the disciples were out in the field with us translating as Jesus was preaching.   

This was a great teachable moment to witness because it shows that Jesus was helping the disciples practice their preaching. He was preparing them for the time that He wouldn’t be there. They had to learn how listen before they knew how to speak.  

If you’re called to do something God will provide training for you to practice your mission. 

“This felt like another timeless moment. For years after we all have passed on, people will be talking about this scene. Words cannot accurately describe what it feels like to be a part of something timeless.”

The director called cut. I laid down and looked up at the stars.  I could feel the warmth from the Texas sun on the ground from the day but I could also feel a vibration coming from the ground. It felt like a warm static charge. This field was spiritual ground!  I couldn’t feel it during the day, but I could feel it that night. I would call that field a prayer field. As I lay there for a few minutes, its as if I could feel the prayers of everyone who had prayed for the show coming up from the ground and washing over me. That moment was timeless.

Final Thoughts:

This show has and will change lives. It is reaching multiple generations of people in a way that conventional witnessing typically does not. It also takes the sting out of sharing your faith with others. We share TV shows and other entertainment with others all the time. People are more willing to hear what you have to say if you frame it as entertainment. We live in a hybrid system now when it comes to sharing the gospel. We need to leverage that more than we do. The message of the gospels never change but the method for getting it out into the world changes. The core truths still remain. Things of the world aren’t gospel. Even if the people in power try to make you see it that way.

We as evangelicals need to consecrate our minds to God more. Part of the reason why this show has taken off so much is because it fills a need within us to see our hero’s in the bible as people. Scripture is really good at telling us the truth but we also need to have relatable characters to look up too. Bible stories should use all 5 senses. I wonder how many more kids in Sunday School would be engaged with the lessons we teach if we used a multisensory model to teach the lessons instead of just reading the story. When I was on set, I could smell the fish in the basket long before I saw the disciple who gave it to me.

We need to recover the lost meaning of the original words. The bible has been translated so many times and each translator has had their own agenda as they translated it. Part of the reason why Christianity is dividing against itself now is because people just won’t read their bibles. They take what others say at face value. They might be skeptical about everything else in the world but their spiritual leaders. We sometimes forget that our leaders have clay feet and makes them prone to fall. Only Jesus Christ was perfect. We need to dig deep into the Greek and Hebrew of the scriptures and find the original meaning and intentions behind the words. When we do that, it will dispel a lot of the nonsense that we see in the world about our faith.

Finally, we need the boldness of the women at the well. She told everyone that she met the Messiah. She wasn’t worried about what people though about her, she wasn’t worried about what would happen to her, she just shared the good news of Jesus the Messiah coming to save the people.

So in that spirit of boldness, I have shared my experiences from The Chosen set.

“Come and see,” for yourself what it’s all about!

Be Blessed!

BeronT

The Chosen Resources:

https://watch.angelstudios.com/thechosen

https://thechosengifts.com/

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/the-chosen-stream-the-series/id1473663873

https://www.facebook.com/InsideTheChosen

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9471404/

The Adventures Out There…Not in Your House!

We have been in lock downs, quarantines, civil unrest, winter weather, and a whole host of other events that have left us more isolated and anxious than ever for the last 2-3 years. As of this writing, we haven’t been in school for almost a week due to winter storm Izzy. The last time I went skiing for this season, I realized that I really hadn’t been out of the house in any traveling capacity since September of 2021. Anytime that I have been out of the house long term, the devil put worry in my mind. I would start going down a list of things that could happen if I stayed away from the house for too long.

When I went skiing for the first time this season it was worse. I have been skiing for a long time. But the impact of COVID has allowed worries to creep in more than they used too. Everything seems so fragile now. Even talking to friends that I haven’t seen in years seems like a fleeting but eternal moment. The last time I saw a close friend from high school the devil wanted to convince me that it might be the last time that I see him.

“Sometimes it’s really hard to not worry, oh Lord help me in my doubts!”

We live in challenging times. All the pandemic did was bring to the surface things that we were already dealing with and magnify them more. Both in a spiritual and physical sense. Those who were buried in busyness missed the point entirely. Everyone else is just now waking up to the realizations. That’s why the world seems so turned around now. When you don’t have a biblical worldview that informs your reality, everything changes quickly and often the world seems like a scary and dark place. We have to remember that, “God deals in what is, not in what ifs.”

As I sat in the in the parking lot of Winterplace with all of my skiing gear in the back seat, I debated if I should get out of the car or not. It had been two days since my last blood pressure pill due to negligence on my part. I was nervous and couldn’t stop my mind from dreaming up worrying possibilities all the way to the ski resort. I knew that my mind was a spiritual battlefield in that moment. I prayed and still the devil kept telling me, “you’re hearts going to explode. You’re going to die up there tonight. You will leave your wife a widow.” After talking to my mother-in-law and getting her council, I decided that if it was my last night on earth, then I would enjoy my adventure. I took it slow and enjoyed myself. It reminded me of all the memories and emotions from my first time learning how to re-ski at 12. (I tried to learn when I was 6. It didn’t go well.)

“I don’t understand why people don’t wear crazy hats on the slope anymore. All they wear now are boring beanies that look like everyone else’s.”

Normally, when I go up to Winterplace I can feel God’s presence as I ski. It’s more of an internal experience with God, but this time people decided to engage with me. Perhaps it was because we were all crammed onto the green and blue slopes like sardines. Part of it was my hat. But it was disruptive. God speaks a lot through disruption so that we will stop and listen to Him. I met someone new outside on the porch of the bar who just wanted to talk. It was nice talking with someone just to talk. That’s what I have missed about the pre-pandemic days more than anything. The pandemic has given us even more excuses to be busy all the time.

“Why go down the slope as fast as you can go when you miss the sunset? You’re just going to have to wait in the chairlift line at the bottom anyway.

What I have come to realize is how fragile efficiency is. If it wasn’t then why do we continue to have supply shortages? Between thinking about my own mortality and also making new friends along the way when I last skied, though it’s obvious, it still needs to be stated, “The adventure is out there, dear reader, not in your house!” Get out every once in awhile. Though it might be hard, make contact with those old friends or make some new ones. Go out and have a new adventure. Prayerfully ask God to guide you to and through adventure in 2022. It might surprise you where you end up!

Be Blessed!

BeronT

Picture Credits:

https://pixabay.com/photos/stress-anxiety-depression-unhappy-2902537/

https://pixabay.com/photos/winter-snow-person-walk-walking-1936638/

https://www.campdesoto.com/blog/2017/3/a-good-morning-for-an-adventure

https://pixabay.com/photos/elderly-person-looking-out-the-window-6875770/

Are You Obligated or Called?

I have been thinking a lot lately about the future. 2021 is in the rear-view mirror now and 2022 is fully in front of us. As I was thinking about the new year and reflecting back, I thought about all the people who left jobs during “The Great Resignation,” this past year. I think it shows how a lot of people miss their true calling in life due to them living out of a sense of duty or obligation. If duty is all that we have for a job, we might be effective in the short term but it won’t be sustainable in the long term. The job that you have may not be your calling, but it can be a part of it, if you keep God at the center of all your decisions. Wherever you can be most Christlike and show the glory of God is a good place to start. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well,” (Matthew 6:33).

“It’s a hard lesson to learn and seems so simple yet totally counter to the world. But by putting God first today, it leaves room for our testimony tomorrow.”

God can give us what we need daily, if we ask for it. “Give us this day our daily bread,” (Matthew 6:11) This daily bread isn’t just a request for meeting physical needs, but spiritual ones as well. These are provided by the Holy Spirit who guides us. When we ask God for our daily bread we make ourselves open for more of His Spirit to reside in us to do the work that He has called us to do. Calling isn’t always the same as the job that we do. Calling makes the work we do sustainable. A calling comes from God. The difference between people who do a job or duty out of a since of obligation and those who do it because they are called is that those who are called by God to do it will be effective and God will sustain them as they do it, because they trust in Him.

Your calling has a lot of moving pieces behind it and we leave the details to God to sort out. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him,” (Colossians 3:17). If you can learn to let go and trust God, when you are called into something, you can just focus on the specific part God wants you to play in His calling for your life. Duty isn’t sustainable in the long term. Why? It goes back to the heart. Duty is imposed. Either by others or by ourselves. Regardless, it is soul killing. Many Christians live under the oath of “duty to the church,” or “duty to its people.” But the bible tells us “it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man,” (Psalms 118:8). Duty is easier. There is no true relationship with God because there is no trust. Just the daily grind. Just the striving for position. Just the rules. Just the legalism. In the long term, it is soul killing.

“The more we trust God the more effective our prayers are because we have a genuine relationship with Jesus.”

What about responsibility? Isn’t duty and responsibility the same thing? The bible talks a lot about that. The Old Testament has verses about how to care for widows, children, the elderly, etc. The New Testament is also filled with verses about responsibility with family, how to spread the gospel, how to witness to each other, how to treat your neighbor, etc. Duty and responsibility are not the same thing. Duty is imposed and can be selfless or selfish in its motivation, responsibility is undertaken. Responsibility has more weight to it because the person taking on the role is held accountable for the outcomes of their role. Duty is more fleshly because it can be assigned value; which is ever changing in our world. Someone can either be doing too much or too little to fulfill their duty. Responsibility has clear roles, motivations, accountability, and end points. (“If you want this job, here are the responsibilities that go with it. If you want to be a parent, here are the responsibilities that go with that,” and so on.) The key with responsibility is that you enter into it willingly knowing the boundaries and limitations of the task or role you are getting ready to undertake. Duty on the other hand, has no clear boundaries.

“If this is the way that a task feels in your life, it’s probably from a sense of duty.”
Responsibility feels more like this in my heart of hearts.

So in our God given calling, there are responsibilities that go with it and we must be willing to carry those out. But if it starts to feel like a duty, stop for a second and pray. Make sure that it’s still God’s calling for your life or ask God if you need change something. Stop the soul killing sense of duty before it starts! So dear reader, are you obligated or called? One is sustainable in a relationship with God. The other will, in the long term be soul crushing. Prayerfully consider which one you will chose for 2022.

“If you go with God, He will be with you no matter what you face this year.”

Be Blessed!

BeronT

Gets me every time! Reminding me of the spiritual reality of life. ”

References and Picture Credits:

Differences Between Duty and Responsibility Article”

Article about Calling

Biblical Based Blog About Calling:

https://www.ibelieve.com/career-calling/6-questions-that-help-you-identify-your-calling.html

Blog About Trusting God:

Blog About Seeking God First:

Another Blog About Calling:

Top Picture Credit:

https://pixabay.com/photos/winter-snow-person-walk-walking-1936638/