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May 2018

God Spoke to Me Through a Cat. Yes, Really.

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God Spoke to Me Through a Cat. Yes, Really.

Sometimes even the simplest thing can have an enormous impact. In this case, by simplest I mean not smart. 

Many of you that know Steph and I absolutely adore our two cats. They’re our fur children. When we travel for long periods, we bring them with us. We dress them up for Halloween. We even recently bought the younger cat (who is also the star of this story) a present for her birthday today!

The cat who God spoke through is by far the less intelligent of the two. Isn’t that how God works though? We expect Him to work through the powerful, but here He is — choosing the weaker to show a glimpse of Himself. Kinda reminds me of 1 Corinthians 1:27!

Earlier this year, Steph and I were just about to fall asleep when our cat, Artemis, decided to cause a ruckus. It was a school night, and we both had obligations early the following morning. I was not happy that she was banging around from what sounded like inside my dresser. I haphazardly turned on my phone flashlight to see what in the world was going on. Turns out the little poofball crawled behind the dresser drawer and was stuck in the small area behind. I’m not convinced that cats even have bones — they can fit anywhere!

I noticed something else too — Artemis wasn’t crying. She wasn’t scared. She was perfectly content being trapped in a place that clearly wasn’t best. Sighing, I jammed my arm through the small space in the dresser to save the pathetic poof who didn’t even know she needed my help. 

It hurt my arm a lot due to the rough wood and small space, but I couldn’t just leave her there. Groping around for a bit, I finally was able to find her head. I gingerly pulled her closer, but as I began to pull her through the opening, it scraped her head a little bit. Only once I began to save her from her unknown predicament did she feel any pain. But due to her specific situation, I couldn’t get her out of that bad place without causing both of us some pain.

After getting her out of the dresser, she walked around acting like nothing even happened. And nothing did, but it could’ve if I didn’t intervene.

My eyes started misting. It hit me right there on my dark bedroom floor that Jesus did this same thing for me. I was ignorant of my horrible situation, but that didn’t faze Him. He reached (and continues to reach) into my situation even when I don’t even know that I’m in danger. It makes me wonder how often He saves me and I don’t even know it.

If I love my cat so much, how much more does her Creator love her?

The LORD God formed out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air.
Genesis 2:19 (NET Bible)

And if God loves my cat so much, then how much more does He love you?

So do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows (or cats!).
Matthew 10:31 (NET Bible)

Friend, I don’t know if you’ve had a good day or a bad day. You may be facing a horrible time in your life, or perhaps you’re on smooth waters. 

Here’s the good news: Your feelings don’t define you.

The value of something is defined by the price someone is willing to pay. If God Himself gave His life for you, then you (yes, you!) must have immense value. 

Truer words have never been spoken more clearly through even a cat.

 

Jonny has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2009. He is currently enrolled in the MDiv. program at the Andrews University Theological Seminary.

 

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But if Not, He is Still Good

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But if Not, He is Still Good

When I think about prayer, I see it in levels. We have our everyday “thanks for the food” prayers, our bargain prayers, our intentional prayers & our broken prayers. If you were to divide up your prayer time into these categories how would it look? How many times have you bowed your head to pray this week? Or how many times have you called out to God frustrated, angry, hurt, or maybe thankful, rejoicing, awestruck of how God has answered your prayer.

There are days when I go without talking to God and fall asleep shamelessly. Other days, I have fallen asleep pleading with God to take away the guilt, shame, and anxiety that my day has brought. I seem to be stuck on a teeter totter of either complete surrender or radio silence.

As I turn to my bible, I can’t help but think of Sarah. Here in Genesis 15 we find Abraham frustrated with God and calling out to Him asking for the son He has promised. Fast forward to chapter 17 God responds by sending visitors to tell Abraham that even in her old age Sarah will give them a son and when Sarah hears the news she laughs. At this point in the story I’m forced to stop and say to myself, “how can Sarah laugh?” Hadn’t God proved time and time again how He much He cared and how He would provide? Then I think, how many times have I been a Sarah? How many times have I laughed in disbelief? I'll pray and not believe that God will answer. I’ll ask for the burden to be taken, while I still cling to whatever is hurting me.

I was once told by a friend that God loves to hear about the little things as much as the big things. And what a crazy concept that is—that God hears, knows, and cares about it ALL. He cares enough to open your eyes to the lost car keys, to calm the nerves during an exam, to know about your relationships, your burdens, your brokenness & even so, He wants it all. And I believe that part of accepting this love is accepting ourselves just as we are. Accepting that God takes our ugly, our mess, and loves us still.

Once we accept that God loves us enough to listen to our prayers, we have to accept the waiting that it comes with. Patience is a difficult pill to swallow especially because of this mindset we tend to possess of “I want it and I need it right now.” Let’s go back to Abraham and Sarah. We see that Abraham became tired of waiting. He continually called out to God because he needed an answer, he wanted an answer and he wasn’t getting it in the time he thought was best. Again we struggle with letting go and trusting, especially in the silence.

What do we do when we don't get the a response? We take matters into our own hands, and that's exactly what Sarah did. Genesis 16 shows us the impatient side of Sarah. Her shame of not being able to have children leads her to take matters into her own hands. So she gives her servant Hagar to Abraham. Again I have to stop and say “What are you doing Sarah? Why won’t you just wait and see that God will provide?” Then I reflect on my own choices. How many times do I get tired of no answer, and start to take actions. How many times do I pray and grow weak in my waiting. I think that sometimes the waiting room is the hardest place to be. Again if God is asking us to trust Him, we must also trust His process. Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that He will make everything perfect in His time. I think that it's pretty cool that the God of the universe takes His time to give us the perfect answer. And even when we take matters into our own hands, He can still bless it and make something wonderful out of it.

So now we come to the final step of this process. We’ve accepted God's love, we’ve prayed the prayer, we’ve waited, and now we have His answer! But maybe the answer wasn't what we were looking for. Maybe it wasn't in our timing or it wasn't even a yes. What is next?? About a month ago I was brought to Psalms 35 that says “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread”. Let me repeat that one more time “I was young and now I am old yet I have NEVER seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread”. This passage hits home, when my doubt, and my confusion overwhelm me I turn to this passage. I have to remind myself that when I call out to God, when I stumble, He is still good. He will never forsake me and He will always provide for me.

I may not always get the answer I was looking for or in the timing that I wanted but He is still good. “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:26-28.

 

Nicole Garcia is a nursing major at Union College. 

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Good Enough for God

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Good Enough for God

Have you ever felt like you weren’t good enough for God? Or even qualified to be used by Him? I know I have and most, if not all, of the times that I entertain these thoughts it is because I see myself and the decisions that I make and I realize that there is nothing good in me. There really is nothing, aside from Jesus, that is good enough, in me. So, when I’m faced with opportunities to speak with others or help others (what many of us would call ministry), I hesitate. Not because God is not great, or mighty, or deserving, but because I feel inadequate as a vessel for Him.

Recently, I’ve been reading through the Bible and I am currently reading Leviticus (“Really?” You may be thinking. Yes! and there are some pretty fascinating things), and though there is jargon and ritual language that can at times pass over my head, I read Leviticus 8 and it really spoke to me. Leviticus 8 details the ordination (dedication-to-ministry ceremony) of Aaron and his sons. It’s very interesting because previously God had instructed Moses to make very special clothes for Aaron and his sons who would be priests, Gods representatives among His people. And now was the time that Aaron was going to try on his “new clothes.”

Can you remember a time when your parents bought you new clothes and how excited you were to try it on? Clothes hand-picked and prepared for you, but the only caveat is that you couldn’t put it on yourself. “What!? That’s crazy,” you might be thinking, but that is exactly what happened with Aaron. In Leviticus 8:6-9, 12-13, Moses was tasked with washing and clothing Aaron and his sons. Aaron and his sons had no part in dressing and preparing themselves with the clothes that they would wear for their ministry. Interesting huh?

Moses did everything. Aaron and his sons were just there and accepted the change.

Similarly, Zechariah had a vision which he recounts in Zechariah 3:1-5, about Joshua the high priest (the same responsibility/job that Aaron had). In his vision Zechariah sees Joshua, dressed in filthy garments, standing before the Angel of the Lord, who we understand to be Jesus, and next to him was Satan, accusing him (presumably of all his wrongs and sins). In this beautiful scene, The Lord rebukes/silences Satan and orders an angel to remove the filthy clothes and dress Joshua with fine garments. While the angel undresses him of his filthy garments and dresses him with clean clothes, Jesus speaks and says, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you” (3:4). Interesting, right? Joshua’s filthy clothes were symbolic for his sin, so that must mean that this new garment is something that Joshua himself cannot put on or attain himself, which is righteousness and justification.

Again, the Angel did everything. Joshua was just there and accepted the change.

In both situations, Aaron and Joshua were priests and were of the highest office in ministry, but even they were unworthy of their responsibility.

And it is very interesting how in both of these very similar stories the main subjects were the actual objects of someone else’s care and attention. They did not bring about their own cleansing and dressing but rather allowed someone else to do that for them. And it is not because they didn’t want to do it themselves, but because they couldn’t – they were unworthy.

Only He who is worthy can make us worthy. Only He who is holy can make us holy. Only He who is love can help us love.

Justification by faith means that we have no part in our being made right with God, except for believing (having faith) in the One who makes us right. Jesus is the one who is tasked with justifying us. Our sole duty is accepting God’s work for us & in our behalf.

And this is where the rubber hits the road, ministry is not about you! Somehow, we have come to think that God’s mission and work depends on our efforts and abilities, but it has never been about what we bring to the table, but about God. In these stories, it is evident that both the one who forgives and makes us righteous is solely God, we are tasked with accepting what He has given us.

When we understand this quintessential point, our life will be changed because we will realize that we are never to look at self, but rather constantly to Christ. And in so doing, we will understand that it is not about how we feel or how qualified we believe we are, but it is indeed always and forever about God and His choosing of broken people like you and me, who are tasked with serving a perfect master. As the Bible paints, we love and serve God not to earn salvation of His love, but because we are saved and loved. Let God work in you so that you may work for Him. Not looking to yourself, but looking unto Him, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2).

 

Sebastian Lopez has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2010. He is currently enrolled in the MDiv. program at the Andrews University Theological Seminary.

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