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Archive for the ‘Body of Christ’ Category

~ Written by Viki Rife

It wasn’t until I was fifty years old that I discovered a shocking truth. I wasn’t my grandfather’s favorite grandchild.

Up until that moment, I had assumed our special times together were unique. Surely no one else spent hours sitting with him on the riverbank watching leaves float by, or on a park bench writing poetry to share with each other. Surely I was the only one who took walks with him through the nearby cemetery and made up stories for him about the people buried there.

I left California for college at 17 and settled in Indiana. It wasn’t until my uncle passed away and different ones of the cousins helped their elderly parents travel to the funeral that I had the joy of sitting with cousins and reminiscing. As they mentioned childhood memories, the truth hit me. They had special, tailored-to-them experiences with Grandpa, too. I was not the favorite grandchild.

It only shocked and disappointed me for a moment. Then I was overwhelmed with a wave of gratitude. Here I was, sitting with the few other people in the world who had enjoyed the beautiful experience of being valued by this amazing man I had loved so much. All I could think was, “This is what family is about.” We shared a bond that no one else could fully understand.

Since that day, there have been times when friends and I were sharing what God was doing in our lives and I got that same feeling, “This is what family is about.” The only way to explain the feeling is the word “Heaven.”

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~ Written by Viki Rife

“I don’t know what’s wrong with my husband,” the woman told me with tears in her eyes. “I thought he loved God, but I don’t see any evidence. I don’t see him praying much, or reading his Bible very often.”

Something in her comment hit a nerve. It sounded way too familiar. Those words could have come out of my mouth at one time.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, my husband and I are opposites. I feel closest to God when I’m praying alone; he draws great satisfaction from corporate prayer. He worships best with a whole congregation singing; I prefer to sing at the top of my lungs when no one’s home.

I like to read whole chapters at a sitting; he can mull over the same verse for days. I commune with God best through my journal; he does it on a riding mower or a walk in the woods.

If I judge by my relationship with God, it looks to me like he doesn’t have one. If he judges me by his, it looks like I’m too introspective and self-concerned, maybe even holier-than-thou.

Over the years, I’ve been learning to trust the Spirit of God at work in the man I love. I need to respect God and my husband enough to let them work out what his faith should look like, just as He does with me.

When I back up and look at it from God’s perspective, I’m thankful we are so different. It offers each of us a fuller dimension for our faith.

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Written by Cassie Rayl

With a child-sized Superman cape over his shoulders, the little boy hero walks the streets of Birmingham handing out McDonald’s chicken sandwiches to the homeless. At four years old, he recently learned the meaning behind the word “homeless.” He told his daddy he wants all his allowance to go towards buying sandwiches so he can “show love” to the people in need in his hometown.

Watching the news story about Austin made me tear up for several reasons. First off, he’s adorable. Second, my family has been closely impacted by the trial of homelessness, so I take Austin’s joy of being a Good Samaritan personally.

But most importantly, I’m in awe of his childlike faith and his confidence that he can impact the world for the better.

He obviously doesn’t care that his monthly allowance only buys a handful of sandwiches. He doesn’t approach only the “acceptable” people on the streets. He doesn’t stop to weigh a person’s potential success rate before helping them. He and his daddy walk through Birmingham giving out food until there is no food left—simply because Austin wants to show love to the best of his ability.

What if we as adults had that type of faith? What if we served the “least of these” simply to show them love, with no ulterior motive?

Would Christ be easier to see and His love feel more tangible?

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~ Written by Viki Rife

What is it that makes kids want to help in the kitchen? There is something in the human soul that longs to be a part of creating something, of contributing to the community.

It takes a lot of patience on the part of the parent. Letting a child help can double the length of time it takes to prepare a meal or bake a batch of cookies. But something happens to a child in the process of helping. The child develops new thinking skills and begins to understand the chemistry of ingredients. Competencies develop that the child can build on.

It’s important for us to let our children help, even if it makes it harder to get a project done. Sometimes I wonder if God does the same with us. He certainly could run the world without us, if He chose, but He allows us to be a part of what He’s doing in the world. That joy we see on the face of a child who is helping in the kitchen? It reminds us that God wants us to experience the joy of working with Him.

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

“I love watching you walk by my house every day. You don’t know me, but thanks for being you. You’re a breath of fresh air. Something is different about you.” The complete stranger who spoke those words had caught me mid-bite and mid-giggle at a local restaurant recently. I wanted to laugh harder at the awkwardness of his statement. But the look of confusion in his eyes made me choke on a possibly humorous response.

I stuttered out a shocked, “It’s Jesus, Sir. It’s all and only Jesus.” He smiled sadly, and responded, “Yeah, okay. Well anyway, just wanted you to know. Have a nice day.”

Jesus-induced joy has always been a piece of what makes His followers stand out from the crowd. But in our current culture, when violence, fear, and cynicism have become a main event, joy is so rare it’s confusing to those who don’t know our Savior. Some days, choosing joy feels like a sacrifice of praise. I’ve come to the realization, though, that if I don’t choose joy, I’m missing out on testifying about Christ.

If we truly live in the truth that our Savior is alive, how can we not choose joy despite our circumstances? It’s what makes us different, and obviously, the world around us is watching.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

“This shouldn’t be happening to me!” How many times does that thought, in some version, go through our heads? I shouldn’t be stuck with a broken-down car in heavy traffic. I shouldn’t get yelled at unfairly by my boss or parent. I shouldn’t always be the one who has to make sacrifices in a relationship.

This “victim” mentality is a part of our human thinking, but it isn’t how Christ has called us to live. I’m deeply humbled by the story of Hans Landis, a Swiss martyr who was executed for his faith. His wife and grown children were also imprisoned, and after his death were threatened with confiscation of their property if they didn’t renounce their faith within two weeks. They refused, losing everything.

The children later rebuilt their lives, only to have their property confiscated again. The entire family was targeted for persecution. Eventually, the grandchildren of Hans were taken away from their parents to be raised by other people.

Through it all, each member of the family had a choice to make. Even with all they went through, they did not see themselves as victims—they considered themselves victors when they stood firm in their faith.

I’m trying to develop the mindset of my Landis ancestors. God did not create me to think like a victim in my circumstances. He wants me to remember that in Him I’m a victor.

So goodbye, victim mentality. I choose to focus on my victorious standing through Jesus.

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~ 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.

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