How Netflix Documentaries Are Changing My Life

Do you believe that God can speak to you through any means?

I was visiting a Fusion rock/pop choir camp a few weeks ago, and our youth pastor, Syava, was leading a 16-person small group(!) (We had that many kids register for both of our church’s local camps with JV, and since evening  program is pretty much the same, Syava leads his own talk for them and conducts small group. It is a great time to invest in kids who don’t yet know Christ but who have already 100% heard the Gospel and want to be there.)

Syava spoke on this: 1 Kings 18:11-13 “And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.”

God spoke clearly to me last night, working more on my character and heart through unexpected means. The first was through a Netflix documentary. These days there is not much time for tv, and my favorite shows (Chicago PD, This is Us, Homeland) are not on anyway. But we have grown to love Netflix documentaries.

blogwhatthehealth The high scoring video game one. The one about the video game graveyard. The creepy one about Scientology. The creepy one about one of Trump’s advisors. Sour Grapes about the wine-bottling scandal. The vitamin/shakes scandal (Betting on zero, I think.)

And for some strange reason, on Ben’s birthday, actually, we watched “What the Health”. In a nutshell, it is a pro-vegan lifestyle movie. It was NOT the film to watch when running from limited fast food options and gas station snacks with short-term teams. This particular film is not changing my life, it’s actually kicking my butt. Hard. But I am glad to be informed and consider my options. I used to think Whole 30 was hard core, Paleo was pretty amazing. But this no animal product lifestyle takes things to an an entirely different level. You can’t have it all…

But saying no to meat and dairy and eggs is actually not the way that God is speaking to me, although I am praying about why I happened to see it and what I am supposed to do about it…


No, instead God got my attention through this film. It was amazing! I am by no means a minimalist, but living in a 100 sq. meter apartment in Ukraine for the past 8 years (1000 sq. feet) with no yard, garage, or balcony does keep my material desires under control. This movie had so many Biblically-based principles, I was shocked. One thing about attending Fuller Seminary is that they teach you how to see Christ in culture all around you. We don’t through operate in a fundamentalist bubble where everything carries either a secular or sacred label. No, Christ is in all and all things have been created for Him and by Him and through Him. He is in it all and was definitely in this documentary.

Main take aways were: Are you imprisoned by your work? Are you imprisoned by your things? What lies do you believe about “stuff”? We consume because we are looking for deeper contentment and joy. Do you have space in your life for things that really matter? Watch this movie, whether you are a hoarder or only own one pair of shoes. It’s not actually about that. You will leave feeling uplifted. It is evident that there is so much freedom that comes with living a lifestyle not tied down to things that do not matter.  This is not one of those “put down everyone else to make me feel good” kind of documentaries. Ben and I both were absolutely inspired…yet if they only knew Jesus as the ultimate answer to their deeper issues and questions.

blogspiritofthedisciplinesBut that is actually not the theme that God wanted to talk to me about. Just before starting “Minimalism”, I had started “The Spirit of Disciplines” by Dallas Willard. (It’s time to start up a new round of our program’s 20-books-a-year reading list.) The opening chapter talks about Matthew 11:28-30’s easy, light yoke that Jesus wants to give us, as he takes our heavy burdens. It talks about how John wrote that “His commandments are not burdensome.” And I recognized that I have been feeling burdened and tied down by the responsibilities that come with the territory of being a team leader. I get thrown off course easily. When ministry challenges come, I view my job as heavy rather than light. In other peoples’ problems my joy is robbed rather than made complete. This book is saying “Jesus promises a light yoke to carry. The heaviness of going to the cross was taken up with full joy (Heb. 12). The challenges of immature disciples did not throw Jesus off course. The sin of the world hung on His body on the cross. The ability to see the evil in humanity’s hearts. The mega-criticism that ultimately brought Him a death sentence.

JESUS took on these things brilliantly because of His daily connection with the Father that sustained Him, and because of the mission that He was on. His eyes were fixed on the thing that really mattered, so that nothing could shake or waver His faith. He lived so simply that He could always do the work of the Father. He had no personal agenda. He was all in. And nothing could stop Him.

I know that God is preparing more great things in my future. His confirmations of this are everywhere. But I need to be physically healthy (What the Health), emotionally healthy (Minimalism) and spiritually healthy (Willard) in order to be ready for the good works that God has prepared in advance for me to do. Only then will I be able to battle the stress and temptation to hold on to a heavy burden instead of exchanging my difficulties for His light load. Jesus models this for us in Scripture. I am ready to learn from Him.

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