~Written by Erin Shuler
“I’ve been looking out of a window for eighteen years, dreaming about how I might feel when those lights rise in the sky. What if my future is not everything I dreamed it might be?”
Growing up, we all have dreams and hopes for our future. We constantly change our dreams as we get older and actually face reality. As children and young adults, sometimes we may feel as if we are viewing the world trapped inside a tower. We feel like we are looking through a window, just waiting for the chance to break free and actually feel alive. We long to feel like we are a part of something bigger.
We often imagine what things might be like in the real world. Our hopes rise high for what we want it to be like. But sometimes, the real world is not all we thought it would be. Sometimes, we get deeply disappointed. Sometimes, we lose sight of our purpose. Sometimes, life is not everything we dreamed it would be. The truth is, that’s okay!
Jeremiah 29:11 says “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” When things do not turn out the way we wanted or planned, we often feel discouraged. We worry about what will happen next. But the incredible thing is, our God has already taken care of it all.
We do not need to be anxious. We are already a part of something so much bigger than we could ever dream. We have been given the hope of eternal life. On top of that, Heaven will be so much more than we could ever imagine. Isn’t hope an incredible gift?
“And what of this gift of hope? What do I do then?” Well, that’s the good part. You get to go find a new dream.
Sometimes our dreams don’t come true. The amazing thing is, God can always place new ones on our hearts. We can accomplish anything through Him who strengthens us. God has a plan for all of us. If we are willing to listen, our dreams will align with His plans.
Those plans give us eternal hope.
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~Written by Viki Rife
“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4) What a sad statement about a man to whom God had appeared and promised to give him whatever he wanted! God had blessed Solomon richly, but it was his wives that turned his heart away from God. What does that say about the powerful influence of a wife?
My hope is that the opposite is true. A wife also has the power to help her husband’s heart turn toward the living God. 1 Peter 3:1-2 puts it this way, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” Our behavior toward our husbands can draw their hearts to God. If you’re concerned about your husband’s spiritual condition, keep in mind that how you treat him is something God can use to draw your husband’s heart to Himself. Rejoice in the God who can use your powerful influence.
Posted in Body of Christ, Core Values, Discipleship, Gifted for Leadership, Marriage, Ministry, Prayer, Scripture, Solomon, Spiritual Formation, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~ Written by Cassie Harris
While living in the woods, four times a year we would cut down dead trees and start a large bonfire. Often the fire would burn for days. Although it was the most efficient way to take care of our property, there was always a trail of ash in our backyard.
Our lives as Believers in Christ should be the same way. Matthew 5:14 calls Jesus’ followers “the light of the world.” In Bible times, to be a light did not mean a flip of a switch; it meant a large fire. That fire made and left behind an incredible amount of ash.
No one likes to think about the dirty side of that word picture Jesus provided. Ash isn’t beautiful. Ash isn’t easy to clean up. But the fact is, ash is the remnant of a fire. Ash is the reminder that the fire was lit.
It’s easier to think of the Christian walk when we’re going through a spiritual high. We like it when no one is observing our ash because the flames for God are too distracting to look for ash. But what about the days where God looks for the ash of a dying fire within our hearts in order to rebuild His flame in us again?
God also says that He will make us like new. Sometimes, that means using the ash of a fire we thought was nothing but a memory of the good times; the memorable spiritual highs, so to speak. The ash in our lives is proof that a fire once burned brightly.
It’s also proof that the Fire can burn again.
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~ Written by Cassie Harris
“Will sign language be in Heaven?” As a deaf interpreter, that question gets asked by Christians quite often. It’s a good question. Why would a language formed for the deaf be used if no one is deaf? It’s such a joy to explain how Sign Language is more than just a necessity here in the fallen world; it’s heart-deep communion with Yahweh.
Many of my friends dependent on Sign Language have expressed the fact that, although Sign Language may not be needed in Heaven, it’s the language they have used to fall in love with their Savior. What will it be like for them to stand before their Savior knowing full well He knows their language, doesn’t need it, but allows them to use it because it was within that special Language He was made real to them as Savior?
Recently, when asked again about my opinion on the matter, I was struck with how many other things many people may think aren’t necessary while in Heaven. Then, just as quickly, I was overwhelmed with the reminder that all of us are created in God’s image. Each one of us has a different way of fulfilling that description. All of us have different ways of exuding love and serving the Lord.
What will it be like to have every language understood and every different aspect of God’s character perfectly shown in our fellow Christians around the Throne of God? How beautiful will it be to see certain Godly characteristics in our brothers and sisters, fully understanding their necessity? Oh, how awesome it will be!
Posted in Body of Christ, Discipleship, Gifted for Leadership, Heaven, Language, Mentoring, Ministry, Spiritual Formation, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~ Written by Viki Rife
Have you ever felt stuck, like you’re just sitting around waiting for something of value to come your way? A friend of mine has been struggling with that feeling and when I asked the other day how she was doing, she responded, “Stagnant.” The term startled me.
You see, as a teen, I had read an article in a prestigious Christian magazine stating that if you’re stagnant, you’re actually going backwards in your spiritual journey. “There is no such thing as stagnant,” the article insisted.
You can imagine my distress, then, when years later I experience an extended time where I felt I was going nowhere. I felt trapped, and it seemed like nothing could possibly change. When I read God’s Word, it seemed as if the truths were beyond my reach. In addition, I saw no way that I could ever use what I did glean to minister to anyone else. I agonized with the guilt of being stagnant.
So when my friend said she felt stagnant, the memories started flooding in. I then realized the stagnant period was God’s way of preparing me for future ministry. Coming before Him with no agenda, no pressing ministry needs, no way to prove myself, was what allowed Him to reach deep into my soul and change me.
The foundation of who I am, and how I minister, was mostly set during those days. The last few years of intense ministry and caregiving demands would have destroyed me if I hadn’t previously experienced those lonely waiting times that grew my personal walk with God.
So to those who feel stagnant, like your life has no meaning, I can joyfully say, “Use this time to dig into God’s Word and revel in who He is. You are not trapped. You are not invisible. God is giving you a chance to develop a foundation for your future.”
Posted in Anxiety, Disappointment, Discipleship, Gifted for Leadership, Mentoring, Ministry, Missions, Prayer, Spiritual Formation, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Writing | 2 Comments »
~ Written by Viki Rife
Obstacles. We hate them. It’s especially hard when those obstacles interfere with what we know is good for us or others.
The disciples of Jesus knew what it was to face obstacles. One example is when they tried to heal a demon-possessed boy while Jesus was on His way down from the Mount of Transfiguration. They had been given authority, and had marveled that even the demons were subject to them (Mark 9:27-29). But this time they were stumped. They did not have what it took to remove this kind of demon.
After Jesus stepped in and healed the boy, the disciples questioned Him. “Why couldn’t we cast out the spirit?” they wanted to know. “This kind only comes out by prayer,” Jesus told them. He should know. He was the one who spent long hours alone on a mountain while others were sleeping. He was the one who knew how to truly seek the Father, and the one who taught them to pray to the Father.
Sometimes in ministry we find obstacles—stubborn ones. Do we turn to prayer as our first resort, or our last? In the ministry of Women of Grace, we are blessed with a team of prayer warriors we call the PrayerForce.
These 68 ladies are committed to praying (and sometimes fasting) for us on the 15th day of each month. We send them our requests and concerns ahead of time. Since this ministry has begun, we have seen God remove many obstacles. Thanks so much, faithful prayer warriors, and thanks, Sally Miller, who coordinates our communication. You have no idea how much difference you are making!
To join the PrayerForce, click here to email Sally Miller for further inquiry about joining the Women of Grace USA Prayer Force.
This kind only comes out by prayer (Prayer Force power).
Posted in Core Values, Discipleship, email, Gifted for Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, PrayerForce, Spiritual Formation, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Writing | Leave a Comment »
~Written by Viki Rife
The first verse I ever memorized was 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all you cares on him, for he cares for you.” That concept of casting our cares is a great visual of what we should do.
I got another good visual recently in a text from my 11-year-old granddaughter, Natalie Bowers:
Mandy looked in the mirror. She had just taken a warm shower, so the mirror was fogged. She was worried about her family. They did not have enough money. How would they survive?
“The first step,” she thought, “is to wipe off the fog on the mirror. I could do that to worry, too—wipe it off me. Then I will turn to God and ask Him for help.” And that’s just what she did.
How appropriate! Our anxieties fog up our thinking and keep us from seeing clearly what God is calling us to do and be. Turn to God and let Him help you wipe your cares away with His peace that passes all understanding.
Posted in Anxiety, Core Values, Gifted for Leadership, Girls' discipleship, Mentoring, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Formation, Uncategorized, Women of Grace USA, Women's ministry, Writing | Leave a Comment »