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February 2019

What is Home?

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What is Home?

Every summer when I was younger I would go to a summer camp. Every summer I would pack my suitcase a week early, plan my activities, and pack my snacks. I would count down the days. 

Sunday morning, in the last week of June, we would head down to the most beautiful part of Texas. The car ride to this place would always take forever. I knew this trip so well, every major landmark, the stop where my parents would get some gasoline, every hill, every store, every smell. And as we would approach the entrance to this place my heart would skip a beat and insurmountable amounts of joy would be emoted in my every word and movement.
 
The registration line was the first step, with the dreaded lice check, but the incredible opportunity of cabin-picking. My friends and I would run down the hill to our cabin to meet our counselors who were tired from a summer of heat and hyper-energized kids but still made us feel welcome.
 
This place, this summer camp, was home.
 
I would eventually transition from being a camper to a counselor. I was now living in this place that I believed angels roamed, and where only love was felt.
 
After several years of friendships made, camp-outs, and star gazes, the camp was shut down.
 
I was devastated. This place held important memories of my childhood! Years of memories had made this place special. By the end of that summer the summer camp staff was tired and sad.
 
But the next year there was an awakening of spirits— There would be a brand new summer camp, and it was up to us, the staff, to recreate the magic of previous years for this year’s campers. The facility was a little rough, and the treks from station to station were really treks, but somehow, with everyone’s determination, the campers had an amazing time. Upon leaving, I had the same feeling of nostalgia and desire to come back.
 
So, then, was it the place that was home to me? It was this experience that taught me how it wasn’t the place that was home to me, but it was the people.
 
Here’s why.
 
With this group of people, I could be myself. They accepted me just the way I was, and yet encouraged me to grow and change in Christ. Through their unconditional love, I came to realize that this was what it must be like to be with Jesus and heaven. The place simply introduced me to this community and this feeling. The place is where I felt that sense of just belonging, openness, and love.
 
So, what is home? For me, home is a decision to accept and also to be accepted.
 
So, now it’s your turn. What does home mean to you? How does it look? Feel? Sound? Think about it carefully. Pray about it constantly. And show us what home means to you through your artwork. We invite you to register for our first ever Passion Project. Submit your short stories, visual art, and photography.
 

If you have any questions, just send an email to hello@enspireproductions.org.

With love,
Your friends at Enspire Productions

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Faking your relationship with Jesus 101

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Faking your relationship with Jesus 101

I recently learned that it is impossible to fake having a relationship with Jesus.

I was asked quite awhile ago to write this blog post, and I jumped at the opportunity. Of course I wanted to write a post! If I can write a good Christian blog post, then I must have an amazing spiritual walk, right? What started as me writing a post to prove a point to myself, turned into me realizing that my spiritual life is almost non-existent. Previously I had written two different entries before realizing that I could not stomach how fake they sounded. There was no substance and no Jesus in any of the words I had written.

I go to church every Sabbath and every week I leave blessed and excited about the church experience and what I learned. But once I’m back in my apartment I may as well have just stayed in, drank coffee, and ate breakfast in bed. Going to church allows me to maintain my self image as an adequate Christian. That box was checked for the week, now I can get back to my normal routine guilt free. The most difficult part of writing this is realizing that my spirituality is best personified by Voldemort’s sad writhing body at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

If any of this resonates with you, then you know how frustrating it is. Speaking for myself, I was raised to perpetuate the image of the perfect Seventh-day Adventist. Don’t eat meat, don’t drink, don’t watch R-rated movies, and (for bonus points) go into the health field. Admitting to anyone that I was struggling at the most important aspect of being Christian did not seem like an option. Honestly it seemed like no-one wanted to hear about it either. In order for them to feel comfortable hearing about my short comings, they had to realize for themselves the short comings they have.

Which means one of three things will happen.

Either they will give me advice and not be genuine about their relationship, they will judge and tell me how I could be better, or we’ll have an honest conversation in which we share our shortcomings and doubts in order to better our relationships with Jesus. I never wanted to be judged and I did not want to come to terms with my own spiritual problems, so it was much easier to remain silent and insincere in my spiritual walk.

We can no longer allow this to happen as a church. We need to make church a safe place, where no one feels threatened about sharing their doubts and short comings. We need to be having open conversations with each other about God and about our own spirituality. It’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to feel challenged by hearing someone else’s doubts and problems. These challenges and conversations are how we grow closer to God, not further. If you’re like me and not satisfied any longer with how empty your spiritual life has become, keep searching! Don’t be afraid to start conversations with other Christians until you find someone who is willing to listen to you and grow with you.

I know I don’t have it all together, but confronting my own spiritual problems and seeking community seems like a great place to start.

Jarred Rhodes is studying dentistry at Loma Linda University.

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God Used a Movie Instead of Me

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God Used a Movie Instead of Me

I recently learned that a patient that I was treating 2 times a week for 6 weeks was an Atheist.

It happened rather quickly—I called to let him know that I was leaving that clinic and wanted to let him know he was going to be seeing another therapist for the remainder of his care. He asked me why I was leaving and I stated it was because my husband, a pastor, was being transferred to Florida. He replied with “Oh, that’s nice. I’m an atheist.”

He quickly continued to defend his position. “I can’t believe in a god that allows young kids to kill kids.” He related experiences he had with other Christian believers attempting to change his position. He also told me that he had once been a Christian but at some point, he just couldn’t take the suffering he was witnessing and decided to become atheist.

After having a long and difficult day, I found myself growing irritated that I only had 5 minutes left to document and get the next patient in and this other patient on the phone was continually talking and despite my nodding and “mmhmms” he just continued.

I have to confide with you that this was not my finest hour. This was not me being the Christian example that I thought I was. A clear opportunity had been given to me the chance to share my love for Jesus and the love that Jesus had for him. I had blown it.

You know those really clear times when you have a distinct sign from God telling you to go a certain way and you still pick the path you believe is the “best” way? That was me. I was stressing the importance of duty more than stressing the importance of people and this was not the first time. I am a chronic culprit of this truth, picking things and work that I am stressed about and pushing Jesus aside because in my mind I don’t think there is enough time and become reactive in my choices instead of proactive.

We hung up the phone and as soon as I had closed it I felt remorseful. I wasn’t able to focus on my next patient thinking about how I should have responded and taken the time to listen. I was beating myself up for caring so much about productivity for a job that I was leaving anyways.

In my reflection I asked myself, “What would I have said? I don’t remember the different arguments and points on God’s not dead so I can’t go with that route. Neither do I know all the creation science proof to show the existence of God.”

Before I could punish myself for another mistake,  the Holy Spirit was gracious in reminding me about a little conversation that this patient and I once had. Not because of anything that I had done, but all because of the love God had for this person, God reminded me about The Christmas Chronicles. This patient of mine loved Christmas.

He chuckled a bit whilst shaking his head after I had accused the little girl in the movie if causing all the problems. “You’re right about that,” he responded “but remember in the movie there was only one name in their entire family tree that wasn’t listed. What if Santa went through all that trouble just for Teddy?”

This moment was pure gold! Mah dude was talkin’ ‘bout the gospel! This memory so clearly and obviously spoke the story of the gospel of Jesus.

Through this experience I have learned that God can use me even though I so frequently push God aside. I have learned that there is a little piece of the gospel embedded in folklore and stories sprinkled by God Himself and if we are attentive we can hear and see Him.

I have since then written a letter to my patient, but I haven’t sent it yet. It’s not as good as expressing this story to him face to face or over the phone but the Holy Spirit continues to hold me accountable for this one person. I hope that in your prayers you can pray for this patient of mine and for this letter so it can be a little stepping stone and a little imprint in the overall comeback story of this beautiful soul whom Jesus loves.

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