~ Written by Rosa Muñoz

It all started with a wake-up call in July of 2015: extreme unexplained abdominal pain, gastritis, and fatty deposits in my liver. At that stage of life, I couldn’t find an answer to my physical problems. One day, desperate, I fell to my knees and cried out to God for wisdom.

I heard God speak to my heart, “Rosa Lydia, start walking and change your eating habits, and you will have better health.” I decided to set up short-term goals to become more active physically and to lose my extra weight. I began by walking three days a week for the first month; the second I added much more activity. As the months passed, I began to see changes in my health.

Two passages helped me keep going: Hebrews 12:1-2 and Romans 12:1-2. Although I am not physically running, I can say that God has allowed me to live and see good results in this new endeavor. During this difficult process, He has given me strength, wisdom, and energy to celebrate small victories in the loss of thirty pounds. I realized how much my physical health was affecting my emotional state, and that I needed to be a better steward of this body God has given me.

I have come to understand that being intentional, persistent, and totally dependent on God will give me the power to keep running toward the goal.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (ESV)

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c]but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

~ Written by Viki Rife

An incident when I was 15 years old triggered one of my deepest crises of faith. My family went to visit “Aunt Bertha,” a beloved missionary friend who had served in Argentina for many years. She was one of my earliest spiritual mentors, although she wouldn’t have called herself that. Her passion to reach people with the gospel inspired me. She truly treated me like her niece.

But now she was bedridden with arthritis, completely dependent on others to care for her. I could hardly stand to be in the room, my heart was so grieved. Why would God allow such a precious daughter of His to be sidelined way before her time? How can I trust a God who lets such things happen to His faithful ones?

I struggled with the question for decades. I couldn’t think about her without asking, “Why?” Then one day a missionary friend shared with me that as a young woman considering missionary service, she had been taken to visit Aunt Bertha. In their conversation, Aunt Bertha told her, “Don’t feel bad for me. These years of being laid up have given me a new understanding of my Savior. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!”

The “why” was too big for me to understand at the time when I first asked it. Now, with increased spiritual maturity, I can catch a glimpse of the gift God gave Aunt Bertha. When He gives us Himself, there’s nothing else we could possibly want!

~ Written by Viki Rife

All I did was wish her a good trip home. Her eyes filled with tears, “To think I almost didn’t come!” she whispered.

I understood what she meant. She had already shared about the wrestlings in her soul as she prepared to come to the Soul Cry prayer summit. If she had paid for the summit herself, she probably wouldn’t have come. But a friend had paid her way, and she couldn’t let her friend down. She was so glad that one detail had “forced” her to come! She had been richly blessed.

There was no doubt an enemy who did not want this prayer summit to happen. Whether it was an emergency at home or just deep inner doubts, most of the women who came recognized that there had been a strong force working against them as they prepared to come. One participant commented that from the time she registered for the summit, she sensed spiritual warfare trying to discourage her.

But there’s more to the story. We have a God who is bigger than whatever the enemy throws at us. He already knew who needed to be there, and what her needs were. And He knows how to help each woman follow through on her resolve to deepen her walk with Him. I want to personally thank each of you who prayed about the weekend, and those who are praying for a prayer movement to ignite among us all. 

There is still more to this story!

Impossible Choice

~ Written by Cassie Harris

I was at a loss for words in how to respond as he told me about his wife’s illness. As he finished, with tears in his eyes he whispered confidently, “The joy of the Lord is my strength. I’ll be okay.” I wiped away my own frustrated tears. What I felt in that moment wasn’t joy. Honestly, it felt like torture.

I understand that God doesn’t make mistakes. But there are times when a part of me wants to question His idea of goodness. It’s hard enough to smile when you’re in pain, but sometimes, it feels nearly impossible to have joy when your heart is breaking. Hardships make me question words such as ‘compassion’ and ‘mercy.’

I don’t know what to do with verses like, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).”

No. Compassion, lovingkindness and faithfulness are God’s consistent characteristics in an ever-changing, fallen and broken world. A broken world which often leaves me in pain. My God is big enough to handle my tears.

But then, within the tears, He asks me to remember that my joy rests in the God who never changes. It is in that reminder that I cling to joy.

~ Written by Cassie Harris

As the torrential rains nearly blinded our visibility, I went into survival mode, asking questions of my fiancé I knew he didn’t need me to ask. “Do you know how to put the car in neutral if we need to coast down the hill? Do you have your seatbelt on?” I had never experienced a flash flood before. The angry downpour made me more than a little nervous as we trekked downtown to rescue stranded friends.

His attitude and patience said it all. For him this experience was just another late summer evening. He answered my questions gently, but was obviously a little nervous himself, ready to make split-second decisions as needed. Overall, the situation was never out of control, though it surprised us both. 

Our two different approaches to the storm reminded me of the two approaches Christians have to trials in our everyday lives. If we’re used to navigating life’s storms by relying on prayer, our circumstancial fears find relief because we know God is more in control than we are. If prayer is something we only experience once in a while – or even never before- our trials, disappointments and sorrows overtake our lives. 

So, how about you? How do you handle the storms of life?

~ Written by Viki Rife

I couldn’t get out of bed, not even to walk eight feet into the bathroom. If my feet touched the floor, my plans would be ruined.

I had asked God to wake me up at 5 a.m. because I couldn’t use an alarm. I had already learned that if I made any sound at all, at least one of my three children would wake up. I was desperate for time with God before the craziness of my day started.

I reached for my Bible. Two minutes later, there was a knock on the door. It had to be our two-year-old — he wasn’t yet tall enough to turn the handle.

Sighing, I went to let him in. “Come snuggle with me,” I told him. “Mommy’s going to pray.” I opened the small yellow notebook that contained my prayer reminders. At the top of each page was a name, and below was a list of ways I was praying for that person. As I turned each page, I would tell my son who we were praying for and what details were on the list. Then we would pray together.

After that he started coming in every morning. Within a few days he was volunteering to pray for certain requests. When a prayer was answered, I would let him place the check mark beside it.

One day he said, “Can I hold the book?” With great reverence he took the little prayer book and placed it on his lap. He opened it and said, “This page is about Daddy.”

“How should we pray for Daddy?” I asked him. To my surprise, he knew the entire list. That day he went through the prayer notebook telling me what each page said.

Now, thirty years later, I can look back and see that those morning interruptions were God’s way of answering my prayers. I had asked God to help my children be prayer warriors. He showed me how to help them develop their prayer life through helping them experience it. It leaves me wondering how many other interruptions in my life are opportunities in disguise.

Does God Get It?

~ Written by Cassie Harris

I hear myself praying, “Do whatever it takes, Lord,” quite often for my unsaved loved ones. After over a decade of watching them walk further and further away from the truth of the Gospel, it’s a prayer of desperation. I have no idea how else to pray, so I cling to the promise of the Holy Spirit’s intercession in Romans 8:26.

Recently, God took one step further in answering that prayer for a friend of mine. As I stood on the sidelines and watched his life crumble just a little more, I bravely yet foolishly questioned God’s sovereignty. I heard my heart question God with inquiries like, “Wasn’t that too much? Do you really understand what my friend needs? Aren’t You scaring him away?”

Needless to say, my friend survived the ordeal. It even made him ask questions about the Lord he hadn’t asked since we were kids. I rejoiced with him, but my heart was humbled.

Often, as “mature Christians” we forget that our faith is actively being stretched and strengthened by God. We seem to forget that experiences now transform our faith just as much as they did when we were just starting out in our faith.

Being made like Christ, being transformed into His likeness, is a process. It can be scary and filled with unknowns. When we forget to rely on the sovereignty of God, those transformations can feel more fearful than joyful.

Our faith isn’t about our strength, it’s about God’s grace.

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