~ Written by Viki Rife
Don’t use a GPS to get to my house. You won’t make it there. Despite their amazing ability to track where you are, Global Positioning Systems will claim that you have arrived about a half mile before you actually reach our place.
Believe me, I’m not criticizing. I remember all too well the days of navigating LA freeways with a map in hand. I’d take my eyes off the road, finally find my place on the map, look up to check the road and lose my place on the map. It was just as dangerous as texting while driving.
So my recent trip to California felt like a breeze. My favorite feature of my GPS is the fact that it tells you ahead of time which lane to get into so you’re ready for the next exit. And I absolutely love its ability to redirect after I’ve taken a wrong turn.
It got me started thinking about how much I appreciate our spiritual GPS: God’s Purpose Secured. God has a purpose for me, and all I need to do is pay attention and follow directions.
Even when He tells me to get into a lane I don’t want to be in, He is positioning me for whatever exits He wants me to take that will lead to arriving at His purpose for me. And He never gives up on me when I take a wrong turn. Praise God, He will fulfill His purposes for me. And He won’t stop until He brings me safely to my destination.
Posted in Advice, Anxiety, Constant, Core Values, driving, Editing, Events, Father, Friends, GPS, Love, Maps, Mentoring, Ministry, Power, Prayer, Promise, Provision, Redemption, Spiritual, Trust, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~ Written by Cassie Harris
I shrieked when I saw it. The temperature was bearable! For the last week, Indiana had been seeing temperatures which would make even Alaskans cringe. I was getting tired of feeling as if I was having an asthma attack just because I stepped outside to get to my car. But finally. My phone boasted the truth:
It was warm enough to snow.
When I stepped out my front door, I was met with a wintery wind. Still, I celebrated the relative warmth. I then promptly turned around to get my hat and gloves. Sure, it was warm. It wasn’t that warm.
I can sometimes treat my spiritual growth the same way I treat the weather. I see some type of breakthrough in a sin cycle and I want to act as if that simple crack in the rock means the mountain of sin is no longer there. I celebrate the shift in action for a day, maybe a week, before I’m met with sin’s blustery reality.
Yes, because of Christ, I saw victory in my ungodly habits, but I’m still a sinner.
I have a choice. I can either stand in the “wintery winds” of my sinfulness and eventually die of hopelessness. Or, I can turn around and look at my Savior and allow Him to give me what I need to be prepared for what lies before me spiritually.
Just like the weather warming up, our sanctification is a process. Allow God to be a part of that process. He is not shocked when the winds of life take our breath away.
Posted in Advice, Belonging, Body of Christ, Characteristic, Church, College, Core Values, Darkness, Disappointment, Discipleship, Editing, Father, Language, Love, Power, Prayer, Pride, Promise, Provision, Pursuit, Spiritual, Trust, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Women's Spectrum, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~ Written by Viki Rife
“Don’t settle for what you alone can make of yourself.”
This is the motto for FGBC leaders as they gather in various regions for annual Focus retreats. At the Southwest retreat this week, the question was asked of seasoned leaders, “What was the best advice you ever received? What was the worst?”
One of the “worst” pieces of advice to pastors that seemed to resonate with everyone was, “Don’t get too close to your people; it will open you to getting hurt.” Having grown up in a pastor’s home, I deeply understand the sentiment behind it. There’s enough pain in life without being wounded by your own sheep. And I’ve seen deep wounds.
There’s a problem with that approach, though. It just isn’t biblical. Paul speaks many times in his epistles about how dear the believers are to him. He looks forward to being with them so they can encourage him as he encourages them. We are to build one another up—you can’t do that if you’re using a ten-foot pole! Building God’s church is a hands-on, stone-on-stone effort. Leaders must model the kinds of relationships they expect to see among their followers. They must remember that they, too, are only another stone in God’s building.
The discussion left me with two prayers:
1. Lord, help me draw close to your people, even the ones who hurt me.
2. Lord, help me bless those who lead me, not tear them down.
I hope those are your prayers, too. Together, we can help each other make more of ourselves.
Posted in Advice, Belonging, Body of Christ, Characteristic, Church, Conference, Core Values, Disappointment, Discipleship, Events, Fear, Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, Friends, Heaven, Love, Ministry, Missions, Pastors, Power, Prayer, Promise, Provision, Pursuit, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual hunger, Story-telling, Trust, Uncategorized, Women's ministry, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~ Written by Erin Shuler
(Erin Shuler is spending the month of January ministering at Sonrise Orphanage in Uganda. She is a sophomore at Grace College.)
There are too many little hands!
Everywhere I go there are little smiling faces looking up at me. They either want to hold my hand or beg to be picked up and held. I am a complete stranger. My skin is a different color. I speak a different language. I come from a different background. But for some reason, these children trust me. They love me and they want to be with me.
While I settle into living in Uganda, going on a walk is a daily activity. As I’m walking, my hands and my heart are full. I have a child (or two or three) holding on to each hand and they don’t let go. But there are too many children. I can’t hold all their hands at once. As they are shoving and fighting over my hands, I have to calm several screaming or crying children because someone else stole my hand from them. I wish I could pick them all up and hold them forever. But I know I will never be able to do such a thing.
My heart is overflowing with love for these children. I wish they all had a family member who could give them the attention they crave and deserve. I wish being held, hugged, and having their hand held was a normal daily activity for them. They have been through more than anyone should ever have to go through. Yet despite their past and their current circumstances, you will never encounter a happier or more loving child than these.
I am incredibly thankful there is Someone who can, and is, holding on to these children and will never let them go. There is Someone who loves them more than I ever could. Someone whose hand is holding not only these children but the entire world. God desires to hold everyone’s hand.
When I am not enough for these children, He is. He is walking hand-in-hand with me, helping me up when I get knocked down. He comforts me when I get hurt, and is always there when and where I need Him. His hands are enough. I can let go and rest in His capable embrace because He has everything under control.
Posted in Adoption, Africa, Belonging, Characteristic, Children, College, Constant, Discipleship, family, Father, Friends, Heaven, hunger, Love, Ministry, Missions, Orphan, Overcome, Prayer, Promise, Provision, Pursuit, Redemption, Risk, Spiritual, Story-telling, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »
~ Written by Sharon MacMillan
The Carrier Pigeon, a state-of-the-art clipper ship, ran aground 500 feet off shore in 1852 in fog and bad weather. It had traveled from Boston around Cape Horn at the southernmost point of South America, was only about 50 miles from its final destination, San Francisco. The disaster highlighted the need for a lighthouse at this particular location on the west coast. As a result, the Pigeon Point Lighthouse sent its first beacon of light out into the dark ocean on November of 1872 to warn ships and their crews of the impending dangers near the shore.
A Fresnel lens was placed at the top of a 150-foot tower to direct focused light into its hundreds of prisms and lenses, sending out a strong bent beam of light every 10 seconds. That pattern is known as a lighthouse’s “characteristic” pattern and identified it to sailors as the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. In those early days of the lighthouse, there would be no pattern of light without a diligent light keeper who would keep the candle burning, usually with sperm oil or lard.
The Church projects God’s light to the world with her “characteristic” pattern. What do people learn about your Father through your speech, your actions and your attitudes? What is your individual “characteristic” pattern of light?
As we come to 2016 we are aware of the great need for the world to see our “characteristic” pattern of light. God designed us to be a people who intercede for the world, are inclusive with messy people, value them enough to train them for their place in Christ’s body, and encourage them along the way as they learn to participate in God’s purposes and plans for His Church. “They shall know you by your love.” That is our “characteristic” pattern for the world.
We want to learn to pray for those who need light. In your daily prayers, please intercede for the design and implementation of the Women of Grace USA Prayer Summits that we hope to begin this year. Pray for Sue Knight, Nicole Miller and Sharon MacMillan as we seek the Lord for His direction in providing life-changing opportunities to grow deeper in the school of prayer and intercession, enabling His women bring many to the Light.
Posted in Belonging, Body of Christ, Characteristic, Church, Constant, Core Values, Darkness, Discipleship, family, Friends, Holiday, Lighthouse, Mentoring, middle class, Missions, Overcome, Power, Prayer, PrayerForce, Redemption, Scripture, Spiritual, Spiritual Formation, Story-telling, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~ Written by Viki Rife
As we enter the new year, predictors of doom abound. We can’t deny that society is less accepting of Christian values than it has been in the past. We find ourselves wondering what will happen next.
Some of our questions are similar to those asked by Daniel millennia ago. What was God doing? What would happen to God’s chosen people?
The reassurance the Lord gave Daniel in the midst of disturbing prophecies is something we can use today. “The people who know their God will stand firm and take action” (Daniel 11:32—ESV).
So our first step to overcoming whatever comes against us in this new year is to invest in knowing our God. We need to develop a strategy to understand Him better.. Dig into His Word. Pray fervently. See the many dimensions of who He is, from humble suffering Servant to conquering King astride His white horse.
Our next step is to stand firm. We can do this when we know who our God is. We can plant our feet firmly on the foundation of His truth.
The third step is to take action. We do not need to be intimidated by whatever the enemy of our souls tries to use to discourage us. Instead, we need to be proactive, seeking ways to demolish his strongholds in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
Those three steps will help us be overcomers in the new year. Maybe God bless you as you seek to know your God.
Posted in Belonging, Body of Christ, Church, Constant, Core Values, Discipleship, family, Father, Heaven, New year, Overcome, Pursuit, Scripture, Spiritual, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual hunger, Trust, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's Spectrum, Worldview, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~Written by Cassie Harris
Will this really effect my eternity?
I’ve had to learn to ask this question throughout the day. It’s been even harder to answer the question honestly.
I’m such a planner and routine-lover that when my expectations aren’t met, I have a tendency to feel as if my world is shattering. It can be caused by anything from a forgotten dinner date to a ruined possession. If it’s not in the equation of what I planned my day to consist, I get frustrated. If I can stop the frustration from cascading off my lips, I at least get sarcastic and short with those around me.
Though my reactions are wrong, the heart of the matter is I am in desperate need of consistency and dependable things in my life. When things don’t go correctly, I often walk away feeling hurt.
At one point, like so many times before, God came to my rescue several years ago with one simple yet bold truth. He is my constant. He is dependable.
John 10:28-29 promises that if we are His, if we have chosen to follow Him, no one can snatch us out of His hand. Therefore, our eternity is secure. The one thing that truly matters is never effected and never changed.
What a perspective shift to remember that when I’m looking for consistency and a firm foundation when my plans crumble, the reality is, Jesus Christ never left.
Posted in Anxiety, Belonging, Body of Christ, Church, Constant, Core Values, Disappointment, Discipleship, Events, family, Father, Fear, Friends, Heaven, Holiday, Ministry, Missions, Power, Prayer, Pride, Promise, Redemption, Risk, Scripture, Spiritual, Story-telling, Trust, Uncategorized, Writing | Leave a Comment »
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