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~ Written by Melissa Kreis

Honey Nut Cheerios. Banned from breakfast on school days during my childhood because of its sugary content, Honey Nut Cheerios was a favorite tasty treat saved for weekends. During college and beyond, however, I began to break this sacred rule of no sugary cereals on a school day.

That is, until one fateful morning…

I poured a bowl of my favorite cereal and grabbed the milk. But just before pouring, I noticed movement through the tiny delectable O’s: an ant. I used my spoon to push around a few  Cheerios and discovered to my utter dismay that my bowl was, quite literally, crawling with ants!  I fished through the bowl, bent on a mission to rescue as many Cheerios as possible. One at a time I pulled out each sweet morsel, and then destroyed the ants with my trusty ant spray…

No! Of course I didn’t do that with my ruined breakfast!! Disgusted that I almost ate more protein than I had bargained for, I tossed my spoiled breakfast outside on the compost pile. After that I scrounged around for something else to fill my grumbling tummy.

But isn’t that what we do with our sin sometimes? For a little while, sin tastes sweet like my precious Honey Nut Cheerios. But then we start to see the little ants, the consequences of our sin. We see how sin damages ourselves or others or our relationship with God. However, instead of  throwing out our sin, we sometimes try to salvage it. We make excuses.

“How can something this fun really be harmful? This isn’t really that bad. Nobody will find out.”

When we are tempted to sin, let’s remember the image of a bowl of cereal crawling with ants. Let’s throw our sin far away, and then let’s carry out the most important part: Return to the One who can fill our hungry tummies with satisfying, living bread:

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’” (John 15:35).

Our Lord does not call us to turn from our sin because he wants to deprive us of some sweet forbidden fruit; he beckons us to partake of a rich, sustaining feast. Let us seek the One who alone who can satisfy, so we are tempted no longer by a sweet but unwholesome breakfast.

~ Written by Cassie Harris

One of my dearest supporters growing up was a cop. We were 3,200 miles apart, but my day was either filled with two emails from him or an hour-long phone conversation. The only days I didn’t hear from him were holidays. If he “skipped” a day, he always warned me beforehand or gave me an extensive explanation later on.

Terry was the way I survived my teen years. Terry understood I needed him despite the fact that I wasn’t in trouble and he wasn’t pursuing me because I broke the law. My perception of cops was protected for 22 years because of Terry. Even after I became close friends with a black man and started questioning the authenticity of law enforcement, Terry was proof that some cops understood that their job goes beyond the badge.

During one phone conversation, Terry was anything but his upbeat self. He had always treated me as a “prayer warrior” despite my immature and naive ways. Brokenly, he asked me to pray for an unnamed 2nd-grader whom he had just picked up. The kid had drugs in his backpack — obviously belonging to his parents. There were no racial slurs. There were no major character judgments.

The only thing Terry wanted was to protect the boy and give the parents a second chance free of charge. He couldn’t do that last part; he was, after all, a cop. But he went about his job, praying every second of every day. He was not out to get an award. He wanted to make a difference. Even when it hurt.

There are still people out there exactly like Terry. Yes, recent events have led me to wonder what this world is coming to. But making blanket statements about the character of all law enforcement is wrong.

Be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. Make every effort to confirm that what you believe about “that cop” is truth. This isn’t a story of Cops versus Citizens. Ultimately, this is a story of Broken versus Broken.

Our job is to be messengers of truth.

(Adapted with permission from author’s original post on her blog Defining My Sanity.)

~ Written by Cassie Harris

Our world of technology has made it impossible to wait. We’ve gotten so used to getting distracted by notifications, deals and calls, silence has almost become an oddity. We have entered into a generation of constantly being plugged in. In some ways, because technology is so instantaneous, it has taken precedence over prayer. Text messages, emails and status updates come before running to the Lord.

Recently, I was in a situation which I felt desperately needed to be shared with someone else in order to feel as if I was in more control than I really was. I went to text my best friend and remembered he was at work. I went to text my mom and realized my phone was dead. I went to update my Facebook status to hopefully get shallow but immediate affirmation and realized whatever I would write would be drastically dramatic and unwise.

So, I sat fuming over things out of my control and unable to do anything with my hands.

It was only then I remembered I could pray. As I calmed down, I became comfortable with the silence and let God do most of the talking.  

No technology was needed to hand my stress over to God. 

~ Written by Cassie Harris

“God just kept telling me to forgive them.” 

As the person across from me shared their experience, I felt the resentment toward them rise within my heart. How could they speak with such authority on forgiveness when they refuse to forgive a situation that was heavy on both our hearts?

I can’t listen to this, Lord! I thought angrily. I’m in front of a total hypocrite. I can’t agree with this right now. I don’t care how true these words may be. This person is not worth listening to. 

Almost immediately, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “Don’t pay attention to them, then. Just look for Me within the truths being shared.” 

Often times, I forget God’s perfect love, message and mercy is carried on the shoulders and in the hands of imperfect people. When God decided to use His fallen creation, that meant there would be times we’re tempted to reject the message because of the messenger.  

When that happens, our faith can either be shattered or strengthened. We can either focus on the disunity being portrayed, or we can focus on the beauty of God’s sovereignty and control superseding our mistakes. 

After all, the greatest truth of all is His grace is active no matter our imperfections. 


~ Written by Viki Rife

Have you ever sent your children to the local dump to find food for the family dinner? Have you kept your children home from school because they literally had nothing to wear? Have you fed them dirt to help quiet them when their tummies rumbled?

Sadly, there are mothers who can say “yes” to those questions. Haiti is a country whose political and economic unrest is echoed by the ravages of hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes. Families are caught in a cycle of helplessness, with no hope of ever rising above their circumstances. Although humanitarian efforts have poured aid into the country, logistics and corrupt leaders often keep aid from reaching those who need it the most. And even when they receive aid, it only postpones starvation by a day or two.

You’ve heard the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” That is the principle behind the ministry of the women traveling this morning as a team to serve in Haiti for the next week. Each member of the team is also taking with her a sewing machine which will help Breathe Partners (formerly CPR-3) provide an opportunity for a mom in Haiti to develop her own business. 

The team members will be spending the week teaching the moms to use the sewing machines, as well as also ministering to the children. Please pray for Mandy Swain (Team Leader), Eunice Biehler, Cheryl DeBoest, Lydia DeBoest, Sally Miller, Theresa Overy and Peggy Riffle as they minister, and for the families that will benefit from their investment in their lives. 

To follow updates from the team, go to http://www.wgusa.org/haiti-2016/ or https://www.facebook.com/WomenofGraceUSA.

I would never have guessed what the potato-shaped thing with four lines drawn across it was. But my two-year-old granddaughter held it up proudly in front of me and proclaimed, “That you!” No masterpiece ever painted has delighted me so! Her desire to draw me makes her beginner attempts beautiful.  

Having older grandchildren, I know her artistic ability will go through a progression. And my heart thrills as I realize that’s how my Heavenly Father views me. He knows how limited my abilities to represent Him are. But He also knows that as I mature, and as I gaze at Him, I will develop an increasing ability to picture Him as He really is.

Our attempts to show Him may seem inadequate to others, but our Father is delighted with them. Let’s throw ourselves into seeing Him as He truly is and portraying Him for the world to see.

~ Written by Cindy Shuler

“So is it broken?” 

I asked this question of my husband three days after a 2×10 crushed his big toe. It had taken that long to get it x-rayed and now it was 3:00 on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. The answer was yes, it was broken at least once and probably twice. He needed to see an orthopedist, but would have to wait until after the holiday. Since we were scheduled to go on vacation until the following Thursday, it would be delayed even longer. With this came the question of how long he’d be off work. 

Surgery was probable. Loss of, or at least delay of, income certain. What would we do? This was not part of my carefully laid plans.

The pastor of the church we visited preached from John 6, the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus prefaces this great miracle by asking Philip a question. “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” John tells us that he asked this question to stretch Philip’s faith since Jesus already knew what he was going to do (vs. 5-6).

This struck me in a profound way. My Father already knows what He’s going to do. What this provides is an opportunity to stretch my faith. Since I’m a planner, my immediate response is to strategize a plan, to evaluate our resources and come up with possible solutions. But reality is, I can’t make things happen. There are too many variables. 

However, God was not taken by surprise when that board slid off the pile and onto my husband’s foot. Neither did He fret when treatment was delayed. He has a plan, a good plan, and through this He desires to put His glory on display. He has challenged me to deepen my trust in who He is and watch with awe and wonder as He does His work. 

So we wait for the story to unfold, asking Him to grow our faith as we depend on Him.

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