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Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

~ Written by Viki Rife

As a child, I really disliked the old wooden pews that had a single board across the back. The board was usually too high for my short little body, meaning the board caught me right about at the neck. I had several unpleasant experiences slipping backwards through the pew.

I came to appreciate those pews, however, after I lost my hearing in one ear after an illness. I had always enjoyed sitting by my father and hearing his rich bass voice as he sang. Now I could no longer hear it when he scooted in next to me at the edge of the pew, ready to get up again to preach.

Then one day I leaned hard against that wooden pew back. At the same time, Dad hit a low note and the vibration rumbled throughout my whole body. I realized I could experience the richness of his voice in the middle of the discomfort of that pew back.

The lesson I learned has extended into my spiritual life. When I can’t hear God’s voice, when life gets uncomfortable, the solution is to press harder into Him. Sooner or later, I will feel the richness of His presence.

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

“I understand.” It’s a two-word sentiment meant to comfort and console, but it often doesn’t. When facing heartbreaking trauma, loss, or a new medical hurdle, the last thing you want to hear is, “I understand.” Those words are always uttered in well-intentioned ways, but I’ve caught myself mentally mumbling, “How could you understand?! You have no idea what it’s like to feel pain like this!”

A while back, I asked God to help me learn how to keep my thoughts to myself when sitting with a grieving friend. Instead of looking their grief in the eye and telling them I understand, I’ve started praying, “God, I want to understand, but I don’t. Help them know you bear their pain just as deeply, and your consoling love brings healing once they’re ready for it.”

Most humans don’t grieve well. We are even worse at witnessing the grief of someone they love. But what a breathtaking assurance—we can hand them to the God Who really does understand heartbreak, loss, and trauma! We serve a God who is not afraid to grieve, because He understands it better than any of us could ever imagine.

Isn’t it awe-inspiring to know we serve an all-powerful, all-knowing God who humbles Himself enough to come alongside us in our pain? Isn’t it amazing that when we hear Him whisper to our grieving hearts, “I understand, Child,” He really does?

Oh, the glory of serving a Savior who meets us in our valleys just as easily as He celebrates us on the mountain tops!

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

“I wish someone would make sure the children were quiet,” she said in exasperation. “This is church, after all.” I smiled at the woman’s complaint. I, too, was raised to believe children were to be seen and not heard — especially while sitting in a pew!

Despite being raised to cringe at noise during a church service, nowadays I can’t help but chuckle at the unabashed squeals, the stage-whispered questions, or unrelenting cries of the youngest generation. They don’t really seem to care what other people think of their behavior. The Bible calls us to have childlike faith. What’s more childlike than making your presence known before Jesus whether you’re laughing, screaming, joyful, scared, confused, or impatient?

Every time I hear the squawk of a kiddo, I’m reminded of Jesus commanding the disciples to let the children come to Him (Mark 10:14). He didn’t specify the children had to be on their best behavior, or in a good mood. He just told them to come—end of story.

What would happen to our faith journeys if we came to Him as uninhibited as children do?

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~ Written by Viki Rife

I walked into the guest room and reached for the light switch. My finger encountered a thick powdery substance. I sighed. Here we go again!

In the past month, I have experienced the same thing over and over. I reach for a coffee cup and it feels gritty. I go to use an appliance and it’s gray instead of black.

When we started our remodeling project, I had no idea how very much drywall dust can find its way into every nook and cranny of a house. The sanding part of the project is over, but I keep finding places that need to be cleaned. How in the world did such thick dust get into rooms that were closed off?

I can’t help but compare it to how the Lord lives in us as He remodels us. Sometimes his work in us stirs up more dust, and we realize we need to go in and clean something we thought was safely closed off. It can’t be just a quick job—confess and walk away. It has to involve a thorough check of what we have been doing and how far the wrong motives have gotten. Every crevice needs to be carefully examined.

Slowly, I’m learning to appreciate the remodeling God is doing with my life. And, hopefully, I’m becoming more prepared to cooperate with Him in the job of removing the dust of sin from every corner of my life. 

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~ Written by Viki Rife 

I admit it was rather crazy. Trying to climb a mountain in the dark with only a flashlight can be unnerving. There’s no way to get the big picture of where you’re going. You take what looks like a way around a big boulder only to meet up with an enormous cactus. You have no choice but to turn around and try the other side, with no assurance that it will be any better. Sometimes you end up going sideways, for what seems like an eternity, hoping to eventually break through and get a little bit higher. The whole time you’re hoping your flashlight is enough to keep the mountain lions at bay.

The climb up the mountain from our camp was an annual tradition for our youth group. I remember the alarm going off at 3:30 and the temptation to wimp out and stay in a nice warm bed. I did not like the uncertainties of the climb. But each year I dragged myself out of bed and made the trek. Why? Because of the exhilaration of standing at the summit and watching as the first rays of the sun began to touch the mountains. Their beauty was breathtaking. We would stand until the sun touched the valley below. It truly felt like the top of the world.

My life often reminds me of that climb. I don’t have the big picture of how to get where I’m going. I encounter obstacles that seem insurmountable. Sometimes it feels like I’m not making any progress at all. And I live with the uneasy feeling that something is about to attack.

But someday I’ll reach the summit. When I see the Son, the hardship of the journey will seem insignificant. I’ll be so glad I chose to take this adventure toward knowing God! 

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~ Written by Cathy Simms

Have you ever thought about how you treat people when you enter your church on Sunday? Do you enter your bank or grocery store and treat others the same way? How about your friends and family?

Philippians 2:4 (NLT) says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” It begins with taking “me” out of every situation and putting “others” in its place. When we have the mind of Christ, we are able to see others as Christ sees them.

The word “servant” is defined as “one who serves others.” Galatians 6:3 (NLT) says, “If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody.” It is in small acts of serving or looking out for others’ interests that we grow like Christ. He specialized in menial tasks that everyone else tried to avoid.

Small tasks often show a big heart. Having a servant’s heart is revealed in little acts that others don’t think of doing. Sometimes we need to serve upward to those in authority but sometimes we need to serve downward to those in need.

So I challenge you, don’t wait until Sunday to think about how to help someone. The people God puts in your path today need to know somebody cares! Who will you be willing to serve today?

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~ Written by Viki Rife

The other day I ran across a list of instructions for the one million individuals who plan to crowd into Time Square to watch the ball drop. A huge amount of the list is dedicated to safety tips. It sounds like it’s a bit risky to make the attempt.

Some play it safer—all over the world one billion more are expected to watch electronically as this annual phenomenon takes place. Each person watching is looking for excitement, something to give them a few hours of satisfaction. In past years I’ve been struck, as I watched from my safe living room, by the emptiness in the eyes of some of the participants, despite their raucous laughter.

I can’t help but think of Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.” I find myself hoping, “Maybe 2017 is the year we will see this fulfilled.”

Sadly, this will not be a party time for everyone who sees Him come. There will be fear and weeping by those who do not know Him. The ball drop in Times Square will seem completely insignificant compared to this event. Are we prepared? How fervently are we praying for those who will miss out on the joy of His coming? How willing are we to share boldly what Christ has done for us before it’s too late? My resolution this year is to take more risks to help people see what really matters. Will you join me in making this a priority? 

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