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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! 

Blessedly Stagnant

~ 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.” 

Only By Prayer

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~ 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).

Wipe Them Off!

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~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.

Woman-to-Woman

~Written by Viki Rife

Lately I’ve been intrigued by the question, “Am I truly a disciple of Christ? What should discipleship look like in today’s culture?” As I read my Bible looking for clues, another question surfaced, “What does discipleship look like for me as a woman?”

Going back to the Great Commission in Matthew 28 and Acts 1, I was struck again by the instructions that we are to make disciples, not just converts. Which led to the question, “Whose job is it to make disciples of women?” We know that no matter what great truths are preached from the pulpit, a real disciple develops through seeing those truths lived out in daily life.

It would not be appropriate to ask a man to take on that responsibility with a woman. It takes women to help women see how to live the Christian life as a woman, dealing with the issues that matter to women.

This accentuates the understanding that women are responsible for discipling at least half the church. It highlights in blazing colors the need to prepare women to offer sound biblical foundations not only to the children they raise and teach, but also to the women who come behind them. This is the driving force behind the efforts of Women of Grace USA to equip women with sound biblical foundations.

I would encourage you to search the Scriptures for yourself and share with the rest of us the passages that speak to you about what discipleship should look like for women today. Thank you for sharing your insights.

~ Written by Cassie Harris

Jews worldwide celebrated yesterday with an equal amount of silence and joy. Seventy years ago, on January 27, liberation came to the camps of Auschwitz. I can’t imagine the tension in the air. The Jewish prisoners wanted to celebrate, but joy must have been difficult as their liberation still left numerous loved ones in the ground.

During their internment the concept of liberty had probably slowly vanished from their hopes and from the rare moments they were allowed to dream. Despite it all, those spared from death walked towards liberty. The moment liberty was offered, they accepted it. It would have been foolish not to.

May we never forget the day that marks our history’s tapestry with shame, sorrow and joy. May we never forget the price of a tattooed forearm. May we learn from the Jewish individuals who lived as proof that evil doesn’t kill everyone it touches, but it certainly leaves its mark. Freedom was torn from them when they were put in the camps, but they did not waste their time clinging to the painful past when liberty stared them in the face.

I pray we learn to run towards spiritual freedom as we find it in the Bible, just as the Jews accepted liberation from Auschwitz. Many of those precious Jews couldn’t remember what liberty looked like, but they recognized a gift when they saw it. Just as the Jews recognized the tangible gift of liberty 70 years ago, may we strive to always recognize the gift of Christ in our lives.

As we honor the Jews who suffered in unexplainable ways, may we run towards the ultimate liberty of Christ when we see it. I pray as Christians we will experience that same liberty as Christ continually calls us from the sin that so easily entangles us to the gift of spiritual freedom. We may live with scars from our past, but may we never ignore our freedom.

~ Written by Cassie Harris

I grew up with a number of friends who hated their fathers. Even more so, these teenagers would tell me story after story of why they should never trust their fathers. Whether the stories were reality or falsehood; their concept of “father” was not a pleasing one. It certainly wasn’t a picture our God of the Bible would have desired anyone to paint in their minds. To these friends, “Father” meant villain, torturer, captor, and mom-beater. I understood why they didn’t like it when I referred to God Almighty as Father.

But Romans 8:15 says that that we “have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba, Father!'” Since I grew up in church, I’ve heard that scripture countless times. I remember being a curious 8-year-old hearing the Greek word Abba and getting a sense of unabashed excitement that even the Greeks had an endearing word for Daddy.

I love calling my father Daddy. When all I really wanted from my Dad was love and affirmation, I’d call him Papa. The fact that God was giving us the right to that same intimacy with Him blew my young heart away.

Recently, I ran across the Romans passage again and decided to look at the cross-references my Bible provided. The first Scripture provided was Mark 14:36, which quotes Jesus pleading in Gethsemane, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” A very humbling truth hit me square between the eyes seeing those passages side by side.

Yahweh God is asking me to approach Him with the same adoration with which I approach my earthly Daddy. But not only that, He’s asking for me to approach Him with the same trust, confidence, intimacy and transparency Jesus conveyed that heart-wrenching night in Gethsemane.

How many times have I taken that invitation from God and belittled it? How
many times have I unknowingly portraying God as both villain and master when truly He is most assuredly my greatest Confidante and zealous Abba? Oh, may my life purpose be one of searching the heart of God to know the gift of calling Him Abba!

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