~ Written by Viki Rife

The shooting of students in Oregon last week shook me to the core. It could have been my grandsons. 

I was very aware of that because of a conversation with them earlier this summer. Anytime they visit, they usually climb in bed with us when they wake up and we tell stories to each other. That morning, I decided to tell the story of a man imprisoned in Russia for his faith who saw amazing answers to prayer. 

When I finished, the six-year-old said thoughtfully, “If anyone says they will shoot me if I love Jesus, I’ll still tell them I do.”  

“What made you decide that?” I asked him.  

“B (his nine-year-old brother) told me I should always stand up for Jesus,” he answered. 

I turned to B. “What made you decide to do that?” I asked. 

“Well,” he explained, “I was wondering about it, so I talked to Mom and she agreed that I should.” So, these little guys have already decided how they would handle it. And although they aren’t in college, school shootings are unfortunately not limited to colleges. Yes, it could be them. 

A side of me screams, “No!” But the rest of me screams, “Yes! Yes, take a stand for God. Make a powerful statement that He is worth dying for.” 

To you moms out there, may God help you as you guide your children. I never had to have that conversation with my children. But the world has changed. This is now their reality. We can’t shield them from it.  The only thing harder than encouraging your children to take a bullet for Christ is encouraging them to encourage your grandchildren to take a bullet for Christ.

But we need to consider what it would do to a child who truly believes in Christ to live with the knowledge that they had denied Him. I would not put that burden on them. So I would make sure to give them the freedom of knowing that if they believe in Jesus, I will support their decision. They have a right to stand up for Him. 

If we want to raise kids with backbone, we have to start now. 

~ Written by Viki Rife

It happened, of all places, in a doctor’s office. For years I have struggled to grasp the elusive meaning of the invitation to abide in Christ given to us in John 15. What does that look like? How can I know I’m doing it?

That particular day I had taken my parents to a doctor’s appointment and we had already been there almost three hours. We were all weary, hungry and frustrated. I had too many deadlines hanging over me to be sitting there wasting time. I found myself mentally transferring items from the day’s to-do list to the next day’s list.

Suddenly, it hit me. Nothing—not one single thing on my list of complaints—mattered at that moment. All that mattered was that I live this very moment with an attitude that brings glory to God. He had already given permission for the delays to happen to us. My time belongs to Him, and if He decides to use it this way, that is His right. This moment sitting with my parents is as sacred to His glory as the ones I spend reading my Bible and praying.

It’s my response to the situation that makes the difference. That is what it means to abide in Christ—to live every moment as if it is ordained by Him. Because, after all, it is!

~ Written by Cindy Shuler

“So, what did you do this weekend?” The question was asked knowing that my husband and sons were at the annual men’s retreat with our church. I answered that a friend and I spent Saturday on a prayer retreat. 

Responses to my answer varied. Some said, “Oh, that’s nice.” Others gave me a look that said, “Really?” My daughter responded that she’d probably run out of things to pray for after two minutes. These responses didn’t really surprise me. After all, I would have reacted in much the same way until recently. 

Three years ago I was invited to spend an evening praying for our son. I accepted with fear and trepidation. It was the Christian thing to do. But inwardly I wondered how I could pray for an hour, let alone three! What would I say? What would the others think of me? Needless to say, I survived. It wasn’t that bad. Still, I was relieved when it was over. 

Now I laugh when I think about it. I’m amazed at how the Lord has changed my perspective. Prayer isn’t a duty. It’s a privilege, a conversation with our Abba Father. I now look forward to these times dedicated to seeking God’s face, to worshipping Him and to laying my requests before Him. It refreshes my soul. 

And sharing it with a friend is an added blessing. This particular day was enriched by time spent outdoors, surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. We offered up praise and we worshipped. We prayed for one another, our families, our church and Women of Grace USA. At the end of the day, our hearts were lighter.  

How do you respond to the invitation to pray? How would our families, our churches, our ministries be affected if we devoted ourselves to prayer? Next time you have some free time, grab a friend or two and have a nice, long conversation with your Father. You’ll be glad you did. 

Pursuing Father

~ Written by Cassie Harris

Adoption is a beautiful thing. I just found out that friends of mine finally brought their little girl home… after over two years worth of praying, loving and pursuing. Two years. She’s home. She’s actually home

I have other friends who are still in the midst of the battle. They’ve agonized over the paperwork between governments, the fundraisers, the frustrated prayers and longing for their son. It never seems to end.  

As the joyous tears fell freely this morning in joint celebration that my friends had been given their daughter, I became just as quickly frustrated that my other friends were being kept from their son. I was happy for one and heartbroken for the other. I wanted to fly to Texas and kiss the little girl’s cheek and I want to fly to Africa and give the government a piece of my mind and single-handedly take my friends’ son back to America with me. 

As I wrestled over the friction in my heart this week, I was struck with the beauty of it. In a very small nutshell, I was being shown the heart of my Father God. He is overjoyed to have His children within His family present, but His heart breaks over the ones He doesn’t share that identity with just yet. 

Just like my friends pursuing their son in Africa, I was reminded of one simple Truth: My God doesn’t give up easily. No matter the cost, no matter the distance, our God will pursue each child with utter abandon until His Family is complete. 

~ Written by Viki Rife

If you’re a parent or a teacher, I’m sure you can relate. When my children were in their teens, everything I said was suspect. They needed to consult an authority better than me: their best friend, a neighbor, the meter reader, the dog.  

It all reached a peak, however, the day I heard my son practicing his Spanish vocabulary. You have to understand that I have spoken Spanish since I was four. All my years of school until the last year of high school were in Spanish. I’m considered a native speaker. 

So of course, I felt responsible to correct his pronunciation. In this area, after all, I was the expert. He wiggled uneasily in his chair before blurting out, “That’s not how Mrs. H says it.” 

“I know,” I explained patiently. “Mrs. H was my student when she was in college, and she never could get the pronunciation of that particular sound.” I reminded him of my expertise in the subject. 

He said nothing more and went back to his practicing. A while later I heard him mispronounce the word again.  

“Dear, here’s how it’s pronounced,” I reminded him. He gave me a doubtful look and finally said, “Well, I can check with Mrs. H tomorrow.” 

We don’t like it when our kids discount what we have to say, yet sometimes I do the same thing. I find myself consulting all kinds of experts about how to live the Christian life, instead of going to my Father and His Word. Do we ever stop being spiritual teenagers? 

Don’t settle for second-hand; consult the One who knows everything. 

Dad Can!

~ Written by Viki Rife

It was a beautiful day, and a bunch of our friends were gathered at the swimming hole. The younger ones paddled around in the shallow water, while the adults and teens took turns climbing up and diving off an overhanging rock into a deep pool that had formed in the river. 

Suddenly there was a shout. My six-year-old brother had climbed up unnoticed and jumped from the cliff. Dad, knowing my brother couldn’t swim, instantly dove down and brought up a spluttering little towhead. 

Once my brother was safe, the protective big sister in me remonstrated, “Why did you jump in? You know you can’t swim!” 

He shrugged, “Dad can.” For him, that ended the discussion. 

The memory comes to mind whenever I sense God’s call to jump into unknown waters. I can stand fearfully on the edge, looking doubtfully into the deep depths. I can back away as I remember that this is something I’ve never done before and am sure to fail at. Or I can remember that my Father is there, and take the leap. 

~ Written by Viki Rife

Do you ever feel so encumbered you can’t get anything done? Does it seem like intense spiritual battles are making it impossible to accomplish what you believe God has called you to do? Does the spiritual climate around you feel overwhelming? 

When I start feeling that way, I turn to Nehemiah 4. What a challenge Nehemiah had! They had to remove rubble left by the enemy’s devastation of the city, build a wall, and then their enemies were threatening to attack them.  

Nehemiah set up a guard and reminded the people: “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (Neh. 4:14). Instead of leaving it there, he encouraged them to get back to work. Half his servants worked while the other half served as armed guards. Those who carried burdens did so with one hand and held their swords in their other. Those who built the wall had their swords strapped at their sides (quite an awkward way to get work done). Everyone slept with their clothes on and their swords in their right hand. 

That’s a cumbersome way to build a city wall. Yet they got it done in record time, amazing their enemies. The difference was—they remembered the Lord and what mattered.  So no matter what obstacles we may face that we think are slowing us down, we can keep our eyes on our God, who will accomplish His purposes. That sword you are having to carry around to strengthen you against the enemy is not an encumbrance, but an opportunity to stand firm. 

Grab your sword and don’t give up! 


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