~ Written by Cassie Rayl

My friend made it clear she felt as if I was her only way out. As she explained her problem, my heart ached as she told me I was her only friend, and the only one who could rescue her from her situation. It would have been so easy for me to drop everything and go rescue her. To be honest, it would’ve stroked my ego as a faithful friend in the best of ways.

Being *Katie’s savior in such a moment seemed like an excellent idea for both of us. Katie would get what she wanted — a quick fix to her problem — and I would have felt needed and indispensable to God’s grander plan.

Katie had just told me she hated God, and because of that, she didn’t think her family would want to help her get through her distress. In her panic, she wanted me to rescue her in secret, without the help of her family, and without speaking Biblical truth.

As I weighed my options of how to help Katie, I firmly heard the Spirit whisper to my heart, “Don’t rescue her. Comfort her, but do not stand in the way of her need of Me.”

I didn’t give my friend what she wanted that day. She was insistent I didn’t understand her need. But I knew in that moment I was guarding her from vulnerability with her Savior. Though Katie didn’t understand at the time, I knew her pain would lead her back to Jesus.

Letting go of my savior complex, and allowing God to work without my help, allowed Katie to find her real Savior.



~ Written by Cassie Rayl

They were promised no one on the ship would die. Their voyage was divinely promised safety. For those on the ship with Paul in Acts 27, though, the squalling winds and terrifying leaks on their vessel didn’t encourage thoughts of safety. As the crew unloaded valuables into the towering waves, there had to be only one thought shared among the men.

Paul’s God isn’t with us. We’re going to die.

But then, Paul says something which seems even crazier. “We’ll all be safe, but first we will run aground.” Paul didn’t sound apologetic. He was simply repeating what the Angel of the Lord had told him. Safety, but not without risk. Life, but not without pain.

Too often, I find myself complaining to God, “You said you’d be faithful! You said I’d prosper! This pain doesn’t look like prosperity. It looks like torture. Where are you?”

Only when I stop to realize the God who holds my life and prosperity in His hands is the same God who sees the big picture, do I stop to thank Him for my own “shipwrecks.” After all, without those terrifying experiences, I may never have had the opportunity to test God’s divine faithfulness. Those shipwrecks taught me my God’s faithfulness never fails.

Free Wash

~ Written by Viki Rife

Free Wash

For over thirty years I’ve wanted to put a sign up on our road from time to time that says “Rife’s Free Undercar Wash.” The county would not think it’s funny.

The family farm has a field with a natural spring. It has made farming that area rather challenging, but its location next to the road has made it a nightmare for the county.

They’ve brought engineers in to design ways to change the flow of the water. But no culvert, no field drain, absolutely nothing, can long prevent the flow of that spring along the road. The water ends up running downhill until it finds a place to cross the road, leaving potholes in its wake.

Sometimes a week after a heavy rainfall the water is still running, making its own streambed along and across the road until it reaches its goal—the neighbor’s pond a quarter-mile away.

I can’t help but admire that stream. I want to have the same determination to pursue my soul’s true home, my Lord Jesus, no matter what stands in the way.

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38).

Saphie vs. Abbie

~ Written by Viki Rife

From time to time in my life I’ve encountered individuals or groups that believe that the Bible’s call for a woman to submit to her husband means she must do everything he says. They claim that obedience is so important that disobeying is worse than participating in any sin he might ask of her.

Let’s look at the experiences of two women. We’ll call the first one Saphie. Her husband decided to deceive someone to make himself look good. She chose to support her husband’s behavior to the point of affirming that his lie was the truth.

We’ll call the other Abbie. Her husband cruelly refused to fulfill his obligation to someone he viewed as an underling. Abbie secretly took a gift to the person to fulfill the obligation. In doing so she sought to save the life of her foolish, unkind husband, making the way for God to deal with him.

The story of Saphie, Sapphira, is told in Acts 5:1-10. She was held accountable for her lie and died at Peter’s feet. We find Abigail’s story in 1 Samuel 25. David, the future king of Israel, was spared from doing something foolish by this woman’s wisdom and insight. As I read their stories, I’m reminded that God wants His daughters to be faithful to Him. We should treat our husbands with love and respect, but we should always remember that our first allegiance is to God.

Together Like Snow

~ Written by Viki Rife

Running late for an appointment, I approached the train tracks just as the crossing arms came down. With no cell phone available, all I could do was stare through the windshield. A lone snowflake landed in front of my eyes, lingering just long enough for me to enjoy the delicate design before blowing off into the wind.

A moment later another snowflake came down, very different in design. It was followed by another, and I sat entranced enjoying the art show.

Although God designs each snowflake to be unique, one snowflake doesn’t affect our lives very much. But as the minutes ticked by, those flakes added up. By the time the train had passed and I turned on my wipers, there was a nice buildup of snow—enough to make a small snowball.

What a beautiful picture of how God, in His wisdom, created each of us with a unique design! But only together can we provide to the world an illustration of what it means to be whiter than snow. We can be confident that with each of us being our unique selves, we can band together to accomplish whatever God has called His church to do.

Too Dry to Pray

~ Written by Cassie Rayl

In the eight months we’d been married, prayer had never been a harder task. Words were said, expectations weren’t met, and feelings were hurt. After a long discussion, I kissed my husband on the cheek, walked away from him, and went on a walk alone. The moment the door closed behind me, I whispered desperately, “Please, Jesus. Please help me pray for my husband.”

The reality was, I knew I couldn’t pray for him in my own strength. Every prayer I’d initiated ended in self-pitied anger, complaints, and the good ole, “If you’d change him, Lord, this wouldn’t be so hard.” I wasn’t praying for my husband. I was licking my wounds.

Words eventually dried up, and I stopped in my tracks. I starting singing hymns I had learned as a child. I sang songs like Rock of Ages, Glorious Day, and Create in Me a Clean Heart. As my tears dried, I somehow went from focusing on the hurt between my husband and I, and started focusing on my Savior.

After a while, the songs faded, and I was able to pray. “Lord, I’m hurting. Make me more like Jesus anyway. What do you need to change in me so I can encourage Peter to become more like you, too?” The following season of prayer was more about restoring my brokenness at the foot of the cross, rather than fixing Peter’s humanity.

Sometimes, the greatest hurdle standing in our way of interceding for our spouses is ourselves. When those days come, there isn’t a self-help book out there that can truly fix that issue. Our only option is to run to the Father, and ask Him to change our hearts so we can love as deeply as He does.

~ Written by Jennifer Avey

Faith is so much more than just getting out of the boat!

Matthew 14 describes the strange events surrounding an otherwise ordinary occurrence. Jesus made His disciples get into a boat and precede Him so he could have some time alone with his Father.

In the very early hours of morning, probably in dim light with mist over the water, Jesus heads toward his closest followers walking on the sea. They are terrified, thinking they see a ghost. Jesus’ familiar words assure them, “Take courage, it is I.”

Okay, they aren’t really reassured. But Peter is willing to test the waters, so to speak. He has witnessed more than a few unexplainable things in the presence of Jesus. Peter responds, “If it’s you, call me out upon the waters.”

Alright Peter, come on! The author tells us that the wind was “against” the boat. Some commentators have described these events as a common storm on the lake. But Peter’s posture doesn’t seem to fit with the usual “we’re gonna drown” stance. If this is a storm, it’s probably mild in comparison. Also (and this is mostly hearsay on my part), if you are sailing into the wind, waves are being kicked up and you end up zigzagging back and forth to make any forward progress. The wind and waves, as a matter of physics, are definitely against your forward movement.

Maybe for Peter, a seasoned fisherman, getting out of the boat wasn’t as much of an act of faith as we may think. I believe Peter, as I so often do, was demonstrating a faith in himself. Fishermen can swim. Fisherman can calculate distance and wind speed and direction. I’m convinced Peter knew just how far he could get away from the boat without much risk to himself. And he walked on the water.

But it didn’t take long for Peter’s calculations to crumble, his self-doubt to sink in (pun intended), and fear to grip him. He sees the wind and reevaluates his situation. He is in too deep. He can no longer trust himself to get back to the boat. Now he needs help. “Jesus save me!”

So often I take steps of faith that I can figure out. I can stay safe and have confidence in the outcome. But when things don’t go as planned, when the wind is contrary to my direction, I start to sink and resort to crying out to God to save me. Doesn’t really sound like faith, huh?

As we stepped into church planting, I heard many people say, “The first step out of the boat is the hardest.” But it’s not. It’s in the steps you take after seeing the wind is against you where real faith is born.

Have you recently stepped out of the boat and onto the water? Recognize that every step is His provision. Are the winds against you in ministry, relationships, work…? Do not fear, take courage (vs27). Jesus commands the winds (vs32). Do you find yourself sinking further and further beneath the water? Cry out to Jesus and thank him for every moment that refines and cultivates true faith.

Peter would later encourage Christ’s followers with these words “…though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

%d bloggers like this: