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Art and Culture and Christians

Last night was so renewing and refreshing for Tuolumne County volunteers and friends involved in the production of Her Name Is Leah, a movie professionally made here in our little town. Jono & Simone Knepper made the connections back here in Jono’s home town. Winston and Aaron Tao – the Tao Twins PRESS HERE – backed the idea after some scouting trips up here, and here we are after three years in the making. Her Name Is Leah is a reality. This film is such a refreshment for my heart, after years of wrestling and weeping over the unborn. Both of my brothers were adopted in the midst of my parents, sister, and my longing to see lives preserved. My parents demonstrated to us what a beauty adoption and orphan care ministry is, and I gained to incredible brothers in the midst of all of this beautiful compassion and sincere passion to serve God and respond to His grace in adopting us!

Last night I had the joy of getting dinner with this crew of friends (Kneppers and Taos) along with Pastor Dave Atkins of Calvary Chapel, Sonora. It was such a treat to sit and reflect on the project, but it was just as special to enjoy their presence as dear friends.  We can too easily look at one another as contributors to great things together or parts to play in achievements together while neglecting to remember that we are at our essense God’s masterpieces, precious children of God, dear friends on the pilgrimage of life together.  I have really come to deeply appreciate and love these four in particular.  They have served and loved the less fortunate in such a sold-out and sacrificial way through the writing, directing, prayer, labors of love, sleepless nights (literally), and production/set building, etc.  I could literally write dozens of blog posts about each of them and them as teams respectively.  One thing I do want to highlight about both sets – the couple and the brothers: They work very well as teams and as a team of four and more.  Their ability to bend and mold into one another’s gifts and character and friendship is beautiful and refreshing.  I believe some of this is what they have learned through hard labor in this industry.  There is a softening of will and pressing forward together in strengthened will-power, an art in the enthusiasm and a culture of grace and compassion and intense love.

We can all learn from their example, and I’d like to point out that we can, just like any community, learn from them as a community.  They thanked us as a community last night, and through our applause and Dave’s statements, we thanked them repeatedly.  Let’s continue to show our gratitude to God for bringing them from (Jono), through (Her Name Is Leah), and to (last night and many other visits) our community.  God has brought them from, through, and to our little town.  God has brought us a taste of what it looks like to shape and influence culture as believers, not just react to it or analyze it.  It’s easy to accidently call what we know as the “sinful world” by the term “culture,” when in reality culture itself is morally neutral.  Culture, like a human heart, is shapeable and able to be submitted to the glory and grace of our Savior.

What would it look like for us as a community to celebrate the opportunity to shape our culture as a community.  We have the opportunity of not only shaping our own culture and community but influencing the culture and community of California.  My intensifying prayer along with my brothers and their families on Friday mornings has been to see a renewal of passion for the Savior.  With that, we will see an intensifying desire to see Christ magnified in our culture and community, not only our official moments of what we classify as ministry.  Ministry is the official moment of worshiping together and growing in God’s Word on a Sunday morning in each local church family, but ministry can also be the shaping and molding of our hearts and those around us to a worship of God with every breath and motion.  This is constantly stated in various Christian media contexts, but let’s start seeing this Gospel on the ground, friends.  Let’s make it happen by God’s grace.  This is our calling!

Like these four dear friends, let’s get on our faces before the living God and ask Him for this: Take my life and let it be consecrated, LORD, to YOU!

Father God, I join Dave’s prayer last night and reiterate to You in submission and joy along with my siblings under You in Christ…  Thank You for the leaders and members of our local churches.  Thank You for what is already happening in places like Front Porch and Mason Bar Company and Runway Xchange where believers are living and creating companies and organizations in our community that shape culture, provide jobs, and press a joyous presentation of Christ to our community and the world.  Continue to inspire and fill our community members to press into You and Your vision for our lives.  Thank You for how You remind us of Your goodness.  Thank You for creativity and culture-shaping passion, but also Thank YOU for humility and character-growing, faithful plowing along in the trudging and heavy parts/seasons of life.  Please continue to give us courage to endure and hearts consistently bending in compassion for one another in response to the incredible grace You’ve shown us on Your cross, Christ.  We celebrate YOU!

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