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October 2018

Caravaning?

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Caravaning?

By now, I’m sure many have seen the images of the caravan of about 7,000 people making its way through Mexico towards the U.S. border. The caravan began in Honduras and is slowly but surely making its way north, gaining people as it moves. The people in the caravan are fleeing their countries for various reasons, including: war, poverty, and fear of their safety. They travel lightly, with the clothes on their back and a backpack carrying essential documents and anything else that fits. Some travel with infants and children, while others have journeyed with only sandals on their feet. 

(Beyond the political and governmental/federal questions and concerns that many may have)

We must ask:
Why make this journey? Why takes such risks? Why commit to such a torturous and tumultuous journey?

There is only one reason, for Hope. 

Hope for a better life, better home, better safety, better jobs, better communities, better government, better healthcare, better protection, better people, better conditions. 

Hope for a better tomorrow. 

Hope is such a powerful thing. It can move people to do the craziest of things, simply because of the possibility of acquiring that which one “hopes” for. 

One hopes for what one does not have, as Romans 8:24-25 tells us. 

This caravan reminds me a lot of the caravan found in the early books of the Bible. 

The first chapters of Deuteronomy contain Moses recounting Israel’s experience as they left Egypt (Exodus) and journeyed through the desert for 40 years. They are now finally at the entrance of the promised land, the land they had hoped for. 

Throughout the first chapters of the book, Moses is reminding them of how faithful God has been even when they were evil and disobeyed. He walks them through their experience, reminding them that they have been delivered and will be victorious in the conquest of their new land, simply because God is with them fighting their battles. The first chapters of Deuteronomy are full of “remember”(s) and “do not forget,” this is because we are prone to wander and prone to forget all that God had already done for us. 

So with us today, we may not be in a physical journey to a better place. But we are all in a journey nonetheless. 

A journey to a better job, better relationship, better home, better location, better friendships, better choices, better religion. A better tomorrow. 

In this journey, we experience trials and difficulties and amazing experiences where God comes through at just the right moment. Very often, however, we seem to forget God’s victories in our behalf. And so the cycle beings, we overcome a great obstacle simply by God’s grace and strength. Time passes and we forget. Then we face a new obstacle and we panic and seem to feel that all hope is lost. But we are reminded, by Moses, that we serve the God of the impossible. 

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” (Deuteronomy 10:17-18)

It’s very interesting how verse 17 speaks of Gods greatness and immediately, in the following verse, Moses ties God’s infinite strength, with His infinite care of those in need. It’s as if God’s strength is all the stronger, when seen on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, those who truly and desperately need of Him.

Moses then turns to the people and to us, and says: “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:19). Remember where you were and how God rescued you, lest you look down on others, that are where you were, and despise them for their situation. 

We are travelers here, migrating to our heavenly home. We have not reached our destination (see Hebrews 11) but are awaiting a heavenly home, that is built by God. In the meantime, while we journey, may we not only look ahead to reaching heaven, but may we look around to help those in need. For in fact, that is the gospel, helping and serving others, because Jesus loved and served us first.

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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Perfect Peace

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Perfect Peace

I didn’t get to go to the corn maze this year. Grad school can do that to you, but this was for another reason. I’m one of those people who gets sick every time the leaves start falling from the trees and we sneakily start to listen to Christmas music when no one is around. So, when my body started screaming at me that something was wrong, I took some extra allergies precautions and vitamin C, filled my bottle with sore throat tea, and kept going because that’s what you do in grad school, right? After a week of misery, I succumbed to the advice of my mother and got myself to the doctor. God created doctors and antibiotics for a reason, folks. One pack of antibiotics later, however, and I still wasn’t better. After a second doctor’s visit I was told to wait for the results of a blood test to check for a virus because we obviously weren’t dealing with anything bacterial.

That Wednesday morning, I was doing my devotions and fairly confident I would soon be able to return to the rigorous work my classes required. Very distinctly a fragment of a verse flashed through my mind. Startled, I tried to remember where to find it and after a quick Google search landed on Isaiah 26 verses 3 and 4. The New King James Version reads, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.”

“Hmm,” I thought wearily. “Perfect peace. What a beautiful promise. Lord, please help me to trust You and keep my mind on You.” And I got on with my day, not thinking more of it. Sigh. A few hours later I got a call from the doctor confirming that I was infected with the Epstein-Barr virus. It wasn’t serious, but all they could tell me was that I could be sick for another week, or I could be sick for two to six months, there was no way to tell. No medication helps. Its main and lasting symptom is fatigue. I got off the phone and melted into exhausted and frustrated tears. This wasn’t supposed to be happening to me. I was too busy for this. I was already drained from normal student life; how could I handle so much extra fatigue? I… I… I…

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” God had known that morning that I would need His perfect peace later. My heavenly Daddy had known that I would need a reminder of what He promises to His kids who trust Him. And He had known that I would need a paradigm shift. I was focused on my own frenzied efforts to succeed in my degree, my relationships, and my work with my church that I hadn’t been willing to trust Him with any of it or make Him a part of it.

The next morning when my mind dismally drifted from prayer to my exponentially growing assignment list He flashed yet another fragment of a verse into my mind. Google brought me this time to 2 Corinthians 12:9. The NKJV reads, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

How gracious is our heavenly Father. Even with His reminder the previous day to trust Him I had been trying to be strong all by myself in my feebleness. “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” I imagine God looking at me like I would look at a kindergartener with a backpack on that’s twice as big and heavy as she is telling everyone that she could handle everything even though she was flat on her back after having toppled over backwards.

“Trust Me.” He tells me. “Look at Me, involve Me in your life, and I will surround you with peace. Don’t fight your weakness, I want it. I can do so much with it, but you… weeeeelllll, how’s that backpack feeling?” Don’t get me wrong. God didn’t make me sick. But I think He was able to use my weakened state to remind me of His strength and trustworthiness and my need. So, I didn’t get to go to the corn maze. And there are still mornings when the constant fatigue makes me feel utterly incapable and unsure of the grad school life I live. But like Paul, I can boast in my infirmity and claim His promise that His power will rest upon me. Let’s hand over our backpacks to Him.

 

Nikki Weis is currently studying speech-language pathology at Andrews University. She has been a supporter of Enspire productions since its inception.

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My Personal Pastor

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My Personal Pastor

Do you remember having those little best friend necklaces in the shapes of broken hearts and are only complete when the other necklace is matched up to it? I grew up with the belief that I’d have one perfect, best friend to share my life with. Along my life’s journey, I’ve come across a multitude of different types of friendships. Mom’s best friends; daughters turned into sisters, first love turned into a brother, fellow Christian actors and camp staff turned into Journey Family, but what came as a surprise to me was how one of my friends turned into my personal pastor.

I tend to take thousands of photos…no seriously I currently have 13,106 photos saved to my phone. Because of this, my phone has limited space. I’ll find myself deleting apps, text conversations, and reluctantly some videos just to make room for more photos. Out of everything I delete, there is one app I refuse to. On this app, you are able to send your friends long video snips and they are automatically saved in a timeline of sorts. With a push of a button, you can rewatch the videos you have shared with your friend in chronological order. Over time, it has weaved itself into its own, personal tapestry of your life and your friends, woven together, always there to reflect and see how far you have come.

As I sent a hilarious video message about 20 minutes ago, I chose to click the message I last sent to my friend. I was telling him about my mother being diagnosed with cancer about a month ago. Other videos had me telling him that I was recently hired at my dream job and him congratulating me, him showing me what he did for 4th of July, me at summer camp, him at Disney World, a sneak video of me at church, talking about video games, telling each other jokes, crying when I was unemployed and felt so lost in where my life was heading, him giving me uplifting words that cheered me up, card rides, visiting friends homes, being dressed up, wearing pajamas, fluffy hair, smiles, scowls, and more. What I find so funny, is that he is the only person I communicate with on the app.

With barely any phone space left, I never considered deleting this one app that I only speak to one person on. As I looked back at the memories, I noticed that he would always lift me up and remind me of God’s love. My friendship with him has always lead me to Christ. What most of us seek is a best friend who will be there no matter what life throws at us. What I believe we should seek is someone who will point us towards Christ each and every single time.

Devin is my personal pastor. Without his friendship, I would not be where I am today spiritually. His actions and words have always lifted me up by allowing God to do the lifting for him. Do you have a personal pastor as one of your best friends? If not, will you be one to someone else? It’s not always about preaching God’s word. It’s allowing God to show his love through your actions and words that makes all the difference.

Alejandra Rodriguez Clark is an elementary school teacher and currently resides in McAllen, Texas.

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