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~ Written by Cassie Harris

“I don’t want to work fast food; it’s too degrading. I don’t want to work in a factory; the hours are too intense.” I held back biting remarks as my friends explained how much they were willing to pour into a career. They wanted the benefits of a job and simply didn’t want to work for those benefits.

Before I could get angry at their portrayed laziness, God quietly reminded me how much I do the same thing with Him. I want God to use me, I just don’t want Him to inconvenience me. I want Him to change my heart, but only if He keeps things convenient.  

What would our faith look like if we actively pursued Christ? How differently would our lives appear to those around us if we took the steps necessary to become like Christ? What message does it send to a nonbeliever when they only see a person who is unwilling to do his or her part in living out their faith in Christ? 

Oh, to remember that we are called to pursue the Lord with all our might, soul, and heart.

~ Written by Viki Rife

She walked unsteadily into the room, dragging her blanket and rubbing her eyes. Maybe it was the sound of her big brother Skyping with me that woke her up from her nap. He was animatedly showing and explaining his latest Lego construction.

My two-year-old granddaughter, shy as always, stood back and watched us interact. Suddenly her face lit up, like she was experiencing an “aha!” moment. She ran over to the table where the computer sat and, before anyone could stop her, climbed up. The next thing I saw was just one eye as she peered deeply into the monitor. It was as if it had hit her that Grandma was inside this screen, and she could get to the real grandma if she could just look inside.

I was touched by her efforts to find me. Do you suppose God feels the same about us? In a world that wants to reduce Him to a two-dimensional, limited God, don’t you think He rejoices when we realize that there is way, way more to Him than we can see? I’m so glad He’s a multi-dimensional God.

Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don’t know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us. – 1 Corinthian 13:12 (Contemporary English Version) 

Tie My Shoe

  
~ Written by Viki Rife

When my daughter was 4, she had a best friend she spent a lot of time with. One day they got into a fight. My daughter was crying as if her heart would break. “Jenny,” was all she could get out through her sobs. It became obvious that she felt her best friend had betrayed her. 

It took a while, but she finally calmed down enough to say, “Jenny won’t tie my shoe!”

It’s hard not to laugh when your child is in such distress. It was also hard to convince her that the reason Jenny wasn’t doing it was that Jenny didn’t know how to tie shoes either. In my daughter’s mind, a friend should always come through when needed. 

Don’t we as adults have the same problem sometimes? We expect our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends to do what they are not capable of doing. God has told us over and over again in His Word that He is our only source of fulfillment. While relationships with others are an important part of our Christian life, we cannot depend on others to give us what only God is capable of giving. 

Instead of getting angry at those around us for not measuring up to our expectations of how they should meet our needs, let’s make it our practice to go to God to satisfy the longing of our soul, and let others off the hook.

  
~ Written by Viki Rife

The valuable plate your grandmother left you in her will falls out of your hand and breaks. You feel the loss as you sweep the pieces into your dustpan and regretfully empty them into the trash. But did you know you have another option? 

An old Japanese art called Kintsugi takes broken pieces and glues them back together, mixing gold or silver in the cracks to accentuate them rather than hide them. While we believe that broken objects have lost their value, this method gives special honor to the broken pieces. Their history of restoration makes them more precious and more beautiful. 

I’m so thankful God has His own plan for repairing us; one that’s even better than Kintsugi! He takes the shattered pieces of our lives and uses faith, which is more precious than gold, to put us back together. 

What a beautiful picture of His grace in adding His beauty to our life story. 

~ Written by Cassie Harris 

This Easter, an untilled garden plot became the perfect spot to hide eggs for the kids of the family. One hundred colorful plastic eggs in the garden gave life to the otherwise unimpressive scene.

 The giggles of the children soon filled the air as they scrambled to find all their treasures. Three-year-old Liam stole my attention. He giggled at every little thing and mischievously grinned as he got as close to the edge of each ledge as the adults would let him.

 The boy was overjoyed about everything he saw.

 At the end of the day, instead of being enthralled with the coins or candy he’d found in the egg hunt, he was contentedly playing with blades of grass and any pebbles he could find at the garden’s edge. When I momentarily got his attention, he said he liked it there the most because it was pretty and it was Grandma’s.

 I wonder how much differently my life would be if I was more like Liam. What if I found joy, contentment and fulfillment in the smallest – sometimes most ignored – blessings before begging God to give me more? Is it possible God longs to hear my childish joy over the sunrise or a loved one, but instead, I’m too busy longing for a blessing He’s told me to wait on?

 I often tell myself and those around me that Christ is enough for me. What if I acted as if that were true?

~ Written by Viki Rife

While touring a Victorian mansion on vacation one time, we were told a story I cannot seem to forget.

A wealthy family had a daughter and son, ages 7 and 5, who died during an epidemic. The mother could not adjust to the loss. She had two dolls made, with the same sizes and features as her children. For the rest of her life, the woman’s servants were expected to keep up the normal family routines. They “woke” the children up each morning, dressed them, and sat them at the breakfast table. After breakfast they were taken outside if the weather was nice. In the evenings, they stood by the window, waiting for their father to come home.

My heart breaks for this mother nursing her dead dreams. But I can’t help but think of the times I do the same thing. We are supposed to be dead to sin, but instead we try to keep our self-centered perspectives alive. We dress them up and sit them at the table. Sometimes we look at them and realize that something is missing, that it’s all empty, but we cannot bear to give them up.

A worse tragedy than death is refusal to accept when death occurs. Christ-followers are called to let go of what is empty and embrace what is alive. Praise God, we can do that in His power!

 ~ Written by Viki Rife

She walked into our church with a mixture of excitement and uncertainty. Sarah (not her real name) is a student at the nearby public elementary school, where she has been attending our after-school SMM discipleship ministry for girls since it started several months ago. Our SMM coordinator had brought her to church.

I wondered what she thought. I watched as our church family welcomed her warmly. There was an atmosphere of joy and celebration. I felt confident that she would find something in us that she would want in her own life.

But there was a time when I would not have been so hopeful for a visitor to our church. We were struggling with disappointment and discouragement. One of my friends suggested that we get together to pray. We met one evening a week in a little room off the kitchen. We invited others to join us. One or two did. It felt like a shot in the dark.

During those meetings, however, we poured out our hearts to God. We told Him what we longed to see in our church. We asked Him for specific spiritual needs. We asked Him to bring us a pastor with specific qualities. We asked that we would all see ourselves as ministers, not waiting for the right pastor to come along.

I have to admit, I often felt that we were insignificant. I wondered if God really cared about our tiny group that was praying so desperately. We were asking for big things!

Now, watching Sarah, I remembered those days and it hit me. In the past few years God has done far more than we could even ask or think! If your church is struggling, don’t blame your pastor. Get on your knees and be part of the answer!

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