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Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

~ Written by Viki Rife

How are we to respond to the situation last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia? A look at our history can give us some important clues.

When the Civil War started, the Brethren, who were pacifists, remained committed to their refusal to wound another human. They did not enlist. This brought them under suspicion from both sides.

However, they also had strong abolitionist beliefs. Many were already involved in the Underground Railroad and in purchasing slaves in order to set them free. When the war started, they ramped up their efforts within the guidelines of their conscience.

Their part in the Battle of Antietam is an example of the spirit of followers of Christ. Soldiers from both sides were wreaking havoc on the farms and burning the homes of these peaceful people. Remember, they hadn’t taken sides, so neither side protected them as “theirs.”

However, these brave souls went out into the fields and even Antietam Creek. They rescued as many wounded Union and Confederate soldiers as they could, taking them into their homes.

When they ran out of room there, they took them to their church, turning it into a hospital where enemies were placed side by side for treatment. When you visit the Antietam Battlefield Memorial, you can see the church and hear the story.

These people lived within the boundaries they believed God called them to. However, that did not keep them from being ministers of reconciliation in the world. They went out of their way to care for the very people who were destroying their property. They showed grace to everyone, even though they stood against what the Confederates were fighting for.

The early Brethren were very aware that their citizenship belonged first to the kingdom of heaven. They put into practice the instructions of Jesus through the Apostle Paul, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

(To find out more about beliefs of the early Brethren on racism, read “The Better View” in the current issue of Women’s Spectrum magazine. Find out more here.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

“Blame my dad.” That was my answer when a friend, somewhat annoyed, said, “Do you have to spiritualize everything?”

To my dad, everything was an illustration of a spiritual reality. He took his cue from Jesus, turning anything in life into a teachable moment. Even when I was too young to fully understand it, he would point out a butterfly and tell me about how its time in a cocoon transformed it. Packing our barrels for the mission field became a reminder that we must prepare well for our spiritual journey (any other MKs remember taking jars of peanut butter or else we wouldn’t taste it for the next five years?).

Dad was a master at object lessons. Our evening family devotions included healthy doses of them. I still remember when he put different powders in water until it turned black, then poured in some red liquid and the water became clear again. My young heart embraced the illustration that Jesus could remove all sin.

I couldn’t yet have been five when he used an illustration that has deeply affected my life. He borrowed a spool of black thread from Mom and had me hold out my wrists. He wrapped the thread around them once and asked me to break out. It was a bit hard, but I did it. Then he wrapped the thread around my wrists five or six times and asked me to break out again. It was impossible.

He went on to tell me that sin was like that. You try it once and you might be able to escape. But it might make you overconfident, and as you continue to allow it in your life it will trap you. He used the object lesson to help me understand the meaning of the word “addiction.” It left me with a healthy fear of dabbling in something that could entangle me.

As a parent, Dad took seriously the command in Deuteronomy 6 to teach God’s laws to his children. It sounds as if maybe God meant for us to spiritualize everything!

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~ Written by Viki Rife

One of the greatest keys to success I’ve ever heard came from a comedian. He asked his brother, a successful business entrepreneur, what the secret was to his success.

His brother answered, “Well, you’ve seen all the episodes of Jersey Shore, right? When the comedian answered that he had, his brother simply said, “I haven’t.”

Most of us would say we desire to be successful in developing a relationship with God. However, we quickly forget that in order to accomplish something, we have to give up something. Truly knowing God requires sacrificing something we might like for something more valuable in the long run.

As with any other value in our lives, we will succeed only in what we invest in. Our time with God should not be our day’s leftovers, but rather the central focus that overrides every other option. 

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

I stooped down to wash my kitchen floor and noticed the bruises and scrapes on my legs. I’d mistaken the distance between myself and a wooden pole the other day – hence the hues of black and blue blatantly displayed on my skin.

As a child, I remember thinking pastors’ wives were the most put together women known to the human race. I truly felt they never did anything imperfectly. I must’ve assumed they didn’t have clumsy days, or days where they weren’t exactly the greatest women in history. Now as a pastor’s wife myself, as I beheld my scrapes, bruises and frustrated attitude, I chuckled at my childhood naivety. I couldn’t have been further from the truth in my childish assumption!

Regardless of my reality check, there are still plenty of moments where I feel “less than.” Less than adequate. Less than perfect. Less than suited for this role as a support to a pastor and his ministry. In my weakest of moments, I try convincing God he chose the wrong girl. But then I remember:

Miriam was weak, yet she helped lead a nation.

Rahab was disregarded as “less than,” but she’s in Christ’s lineage.

Mary was a developing, not-at-all put-together teenager, yet she mothered God’s Son.

Sometimes, it’s a blessed gift to simply be reminded that we are not alone in our imperfections, and God uses us anyway.   

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~ Written by Viki Rife

It’s time to speak up about fathers. Our society has become increasing hostile to the role of fathers in the family. Movies and sitcoms portray fathers as more of a hindrance than a help to their families. The concept of an absentee or clueless father seems to be the norm today.

As strong women who live by God’s values, we can have a part in helping our men reclaim their place in the family. This is not accomplished by reminding them of their failures.

Instead, we need to treat them with respect and consideration, and model for our children and grandchildren the importance we attach to their role. We need to affirm their strengths and their wise choices. Our support of dads can free our men to receive with joy the responsibility God has placed on them as fathers. 

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~ Written by Viki Rife

The other day I had some extra time between appointments, so I stopped at an area park to enjoy the scenery and sunshine. An older couple pulled up in their boat to the pier. The man got out and backed a truck with a boat trailer up to the boat ramp. Then he got back in the boat and drove up the ramp. He fastened the boat to the trailer and drove the truck up a little ways. He then busied himself taking fishing poles out of the boat, etc. All the time the wife sat in the boat.

Finally, he took a small crane-like apparatus out of the back of the truck. He carefully spread out some strips of canvas and the women scooted onto them. He grabbed both ends, hooked them onto the crane, and with the push of a button was able to lift her off the boat and lower her into a waiting wheelchair.

He pushed the wheelchair around to the other side of the truck and helped her scoot herself onto something that looked like a stool. She pushed a button and it slowly lifted her level with the truck seat. Once she was safely in the truck, the man loaded the crane, stool and wheelchair into the truck. It had taken them 45 minutes to go through this process. I’m guessing they did the same thing in reverse when they started their fishing trip.

Their commitment to fishing blew me away. Why would anyone go to so much hassle? As I left for my next appointment, a tender voice probed, “Are you that committed to being a fisher of men?” I’ve been pondering it ever since. 

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

There were two men in my life. They both wanted to officiate my wedding. They both decided – separately – that if they never met the man I married, I wasn’t allowed to get married. Both Terry and Ray jokingly-but-not-so-jokingly fought each other as they planned for my future wedding together. Who would get most of the limelight as the officiator of my wedding? Who would get to kiss my cheek first? Who would get to harass my groom the best?

Usually, I just laughed instead of focusing on the confusion their bantering created. I was loved, that’s what I remembered. I was 16 and both these men had higher dreams for my future than I did. When I nearly ruined my life with childish decisions at 19 years old, they both spent hours almost daily on the phone talking me through my decisions and asking me hard questions no one else wanted to ask.

Both of these men passed away within a year of each other. It didn’t hit me until recently neither of these men get to see my wedding. Neither of these men get to ask me the hardest questions of all: “Can you support your husband when he seems unsupportable? Can you make him laugh when all you want to do is make him cry? Can you show him Christ when all you want to do is show him yourself?”

Even at 16, Ray and Terry warned me about those questions. They told me what they wanted the answers to be and what they would do if my answers didn’t represent Christ. They were futuristically minded when I couldn’t be. They cared more for my future than almost any other non-related acquaintance ever had.

They didn’t plan on not being around to help me grow up, but they prepared me for the future just in case they weren’t.

What if we discipled like that more often? What if we strove to be involved with our mentees but prepared them to be just as godly, wise and prepared without us as they are when they are with us? What if we didn’t shield them from hard things but rather taught them they can prepare for a storm before it comes?

What if we discipled in such a way that those we disciple don’t pine after us after we’re gone but rather strive to emulate the Christ-like characteristics we focused on the most?

(Adapted with permission from author’s blog Defining My Sanity.) 

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