Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Samuel Ortega

For the last three years, Samuel Ortega has worked as a first responder for the Norton Shores Fire Department. A passion for this field arose at a young age, watching his father serve the community in Los Angeles City Fire Department in California. Sam loved visiting the station and climbing all over the trucks.

Sadly, his father passed away from ALS, which was triggered by firefighting work. The loss was devastating and for years Sam pushed away the calling to join Fire Service, but God had other plans.

Only God would know that Sam’s service would be needed at such a time as this. Even though the call volume has lowered, the stress and mental load is much heavier. Protocols are changing daily, sometimes hourly. As a first responder, being ready and adaptable is key. Even before Covid-19, the department had a certain amount of P.P.E. (Personal Protective Equipment) to wear, and now, the P.P.E. required is greater—regardless if a patient is assumed positive or negative for coronavirus.

With every case they face, our responders must recognize and face the danger. Unfortunately with Covid-19, the danger doesn’t end at the conclusion of their shift. As they return home, they dump their clothes in the washing machine and jump in the shower, hoping to protect their own families. The danger is real, but they face it for us.

Each day, Sam and his team strive to be at their best in order to keep the community safe. Sam says that it is a hard balance between doing his job safely and wanting to jump right in and help. “For the community, we keep our heads down and keep moving forward. This too shall pass,” says Sam. “While I think our normal will definitely be a “new normal” this will pass.”

We are grateful for Samuel and all first responders. Being on the frontlines is challenging physically, emotionally, and mentally. Please join us in praying for these great men and women. Please remember Sam and his family in your prayers.

And remember these last words from Samuel Ortega…“Think for yourself, don’t believe everything and anything the media tells you. Use precaution but don’t live and operate out of fear. And above all, keep your faith.”

~A Diverse Global Article, Written by Catie Cordero

Reflections

I’m glad it’s a new year. Just the thought of a new year is like a breath of fresh air. It’s a clean slate of months. More opportunities. New chances about to unfold.

And I’m ready.

2018 was hard. Very hard. It took its toll physically, mentally, and financially. If I could sum up the year in one word it would be—PAIN. I was in pain the whole year. The tests of 2017 led into 2018, searching for answers to the pain and the constant problems inside of my body. After exploratory surgery and a cystoscopy, we finally reached a verdict. The urologist diagnosed me with interstitial cystitis (a chronic bladder disease) and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Good, I finally had the reason. But now, what to do with that? The answer—a complete life change. My entire diet had to change in order for my bladder lining to repair itself. Everything that was acidic, citrus, or acid-forming had to be removed from the menu. Basically: no chocolate, no sugar, no soda, no alcohol, no gluten, no tomatoes, no fruit (other than blueberries, pear, papaya, watermelon), no regular coffee, no cultured milk (sour cream, etc), and no boxed foods with preservatives. The list is longer but you get the picture. Talk about a transformation. Suddenly, I had to cook everything from scratch and learn to be creative in cooking.

The next piece of the puzzle was physical therapy on my bladder and pelvic floor. When I began therapy in April 2018, I cried each time I went home. I knew the therapy was supposed to help, but it hurt. Advil and I became close friends. Nevertheless, I went, each week, for therapy, knowing the pain would lessen. And it did, over time.

Today is February 17, 2019. I sit at my desk writing this blog, and I’m not in pain. I attribute that to diet change, therapy, but also…To God. I cried out to Him at lot in the last year. I wept. I curled up with a hot pad and wept. I know He heard me. Interstitial Cystitis is an incurable disease, but I’m living proof that pain-free days can still be possible. I have flare-ups from time to time, but oh, to have days where I’m not plagued with pain is glorious! To be able to run with my kids again. To be able to have dance parties with them. To be able to clean my house without paying for it the next day. All these things tell me that God has had His hand on my life. He not only spoke comfort to my body, but He also spoke comfort to my heart.

2019, I’m ready. I’m ready for you and all the possibilities.

Shadow Faith

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For some, this blog will mean nothing to you…but for others…it might be the day a light bulb turns on.

I heard an astounding talk by a man named Rob Flint (#Central Wesleyan). He shared on a topic called: Shadow Faith. I didn’t know this term until he broke it down. I have quoted his words from his message.

“There is an epidemic of people in our country raised in the church who say later that they didn’t fully understand who Jesus was or the gospel  until now.”

Why? A shortchanged gospel. A gospel that isn’t taught in it’s entirety. “It becomes a transactional thing where we recognize sin and then we need this Savior and that’s all it is. It’s a transaction: my sin for his righteousness. And it is that, but it’s SO MUCH MORE. When we only preach sin and forgiveness, it will lead to Shadow Faith. Shadow Faith is when we know what the Bible says but somehow create expectations in our minds of who God should be. Shadows don’t ever show the real picture. We don’t get to see the fullness of Christ in shadow faith.”

“Question: Do you follow Jesus to get from Jesus, or do you follow Jesus to get Jesus? Somehow in our culture we have begun to treat God like a cosmic vending machine. We come to him, pray for something and blessings are supposed to pop out and we open them up. Or we treat him like a divine genie who is supposed to answer our wishes and whims and when he doesn’t, we get mad. There is entitlement in that. We are taking from him, and if he doesn’t bless us, there’s a problem. It has a lot to do with the prosperity gospel that has been sweeping our nation for a while. It has taken deep root in the culture of America. In short, the prosperity gospel says: If you have enough faith or put seed money in or plant things down, then God will bless you.  And your “harvest” will be greater. If you have enough faith or give enough money, then he will give it back to you in greater ways.”

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

“When we shortchange the gospel, it leads to shadow faith, which leads to shadow joy. Because if you have a shortsighted view of the gospel that God is supposed to be doing for you, and when he doesn’t do what you expected, it will be difficult for you. When the cancer doesn’t go into remission or the divorce does happen or the son doesn’t come home, those are the moments that God has to be ALL that you are satisfied in because if God never was the ultimate goal, then whatever you get from God will never satisfy you. It will always lead to emptiness. People will say, ‘I can’t believe God did this to me.’ No. God didn’t meet what you thought he should do, or the expectations you placed on him. A lot of people think God should fix our pain or make us feel better, but God didn’t come to fix your pain. He came to redeem you, and in that, he’ll redeem your pain. He’ll redeem your brokenness. There isn’t a version of Christianity where you’re adding God into your life and punching the buttons in the machine for what you want from God. The real Christianity is full surrender to Him. There has to be a reclaiming of the understanding of the gospel.”

To hear the talk from Rob Flint in its entirety please go to: http://www.centralwesleyan.org/current-series?album_id=35