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Archive for the ‘College’ Category

~ Written by Samantha Freds

Have you ever felt completely out of place? Maybe you were surrounded by people so different it felt like you were suddenly on another planet. Or maybe, even without being able to put your finger on why, you felt alone in a crowd.

I remember that feeling as a fourth grader, new to a small central school in New York. There was a popular show on Nickelodeon at the time called Rocket Power. Sam, the new kid in the show, got the nickname “Squid” because he was so different from the other kids. Naturally, since my name was Sam and I was the new kid in town, I was also blessed with this nickname. I was an alien in new territory.

I recall a similar feeling when I first moved to Indiana for college. I was 500 miles from home, and away from everyone I knew and felt comfortable around. Sure, I was still in the United States, but everything felt different.

In both these cases, the newness eventually wore off and a new normal was established. Unfortunately, I now have little tolerance for that out-of-place feeling. But as Christ-followers, we are called to maintain our alien identity. This world is not our home. We are citizens of heaven, living on mission here on earth. It’s time we stopped trying to blend in.

Can you name a single alien movie where the vast majority of the people see the alien as normal? Sometimes there are a handful who see past the obvious physical differences. In those rare cases, more often than not it’s a child who befriends the weirdo (childlike faith, I guess). Otherwise, the aliens are rejected or even feared for their differences.

Jesus warned his disciples in John 15:18-19: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

Why then are we so tempted to fit in? Let’s boldly accept our call to continue Jesus’s mission on this earth, willingly claiming our identity as aliens in this world even if it means we don’t fit in.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

I couldn’t believe it! It was a classmate’s birthday, and my friend and I had wanted to host a celebration in one of the lounges of our dorm. So while my friend baked two round layers of cake mix, I made a big batch of frosting and started preparing different colored flowers to decorate the cake.

As soon as the layers were cool enough, I started the decorating process. My friend, not experienced at cake decorating, hovered in the background as I worked.

Now we had brought the cake out, and our classmate and all the party attendees were oohing and aahing over it. One of them turned to my friend and said, “Did you make it yourself?” I watched incredulous as she proudly answered, “yes.”

It’s embarrassing now to admit I had to leave the room. I was hurt and just plain mad. They hadn’t even cut the cake, so it wasn’t the flavor of her baking they were complimenting. The credit should have gone to me!

God has been working on me most of my life to help me overcome the need to get credit for everything I do. I may have, like my friend, even accepted credit that wasn’t totally deserved, figuring it made up for some I had missed out on.

More and more these days, I hear my Lord remind me, “Do you want to leave My mark on this world, or your own?” And more and more, I’m learning to answer from the heart, “Lord, I want every bit of credit for anything in my life to go where it belongs. I want it to go fully to you.”

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

I shrieked when I saw it. The temperature was bearable! For the last week, Indiana had been seeing temperatures which would make even Alaskans cringe. I was getting tired of feeling as if I was having an asthma attack just because I stepped outside to get to my car. But finally. My phone boasted the truth:

It was warm enough to snow.

When I stepped out my front door, I was met with a wintery wind. Still, I celebrated the relative warmth. I then promptly turned around to get my hat and gloves. Sure, it was warm. It wasn’t that warm.

I can sometimes treat my spiritual growth the same way I treat the weather. I see some type of breakthrough in a sin cycle and I want to act as if that simple crack in the rock means the mountain of sin is no longer there. I celebrate the shift in action for a day, maybe a week, before I’m met with sin’s blustery reality.

Yes, because of Christ, I saw victory in my ungodly habits, but I’m still a sinner.

I have a choice. I can either stand in the “wintery winds” of my sinfulness and eventually die of hopelessness. Or, I can turn around and look at my Savior and allow Him to give me what I need to be prepared for what lies before me spiritually.

Just like the weather warming up, our sanctification is a process. Allow God to be a part of that process. He is not shocked when the winds of life take our breath away.

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~ Written by Erin Shuler

(Erin Shuler is spending the month of January ministering at Sonrise Orphanage in Uganda. She is a sophomore at Grace College.)

There are too many little hands!

Everywhere I go there are little smiling faces looking up at me. They either want to hold my hand or beg to be picked up and held. I am a complete stranger. My skin is a different color. I speak a different language. I come from a different background. But for some reason, these children trust me. They love me and they want to be with me.

While I settle into living in Uganda, going on a walk is a daily activity. As I’m walking, my hands and my heart are full. I have a child (or two or three) holding on to each hand and they don’t let go. But there are too many children. I can’t hold all their hands at once. As they are shoving and fighting over my hands, I have to calm several screaming or crying children because someone else stole my hand from them. I wish I could pick them all up and hold them forever. But I know I will never be able to do such a thing.

My heart is overflowing with love for these children. I wish they all had a family member who could give them the attention they crave and deserve. I wish being held, hugged, and having their hand held was a normal daily activity for them. They have been through more than anyone should ever have to go through. Yet despite their past and their current circumstances, you will never encounter a happier or more loving child than these.

I am incredibly thankful there is Someone who can, and is, holding on to these children and will never let them go. There is Someone who loves them more than I ever could. Someone whose hand is holding not only these children but the entire world. God desires to hold everyone’s hand.

When I am not enough for these children, He is. He is walking hand-in-hand with me, helping me up when I get knocked down. He comforts me when I get hurt, and is always there when and where I need Him. His hands are enough. I can let go and rest in His capable embrace because He has everything under control.

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~Written by Cassie Harris

Communication isn’t something my family does incredibly well.

We often joke about the fact that we can go months without really talking. Although we chide each other for our quirks, we’ve never changed our habits. Since only my parents share the same zip-code, our uncommunicative family can sometimes be a frustration.

I recently returned to my hometown for the holidays for the first time in two years. Aside from texting travel plans, I hadn’t really talked to my mother in over a week, my dad in almost a month. As I got off the plane in Kenai, Alaska, I was surrounded by a welcoming party of over 15 people. I knew my mother would be the first one to hug me; that went without saying. 

What I didn’t quite expect was my dad pushing through the small crowd to be the second one to wrap his arms around me. I fought back tears as he good-naturedly told my friends to “stand aside” and to “move, please.” I have no doubt my dad loves me, but really needing to say hello and hug me tight before anyone else wasn’t something I was expecting, for some reason.  

It can be the same way with our Heavenly Father. We can go weeks, months, maybe even years without talking to Him. Then, somehow, we stand in shock when He “fights through the crowd” to welcome us back. He’s still our Father. He still wants time with us.

It doesn’t matter how long it’s been or how much water has gone under the bridge. It doesn’t matter if communication with our Father God up till this point has only been on religious holidays.  

The moment we step near Him, the moment we want to see Him, He runs straight to us, ready to pick up the relationship where we last left it. It’s as if He can be heard good-naturedly saying, “Stand aside, my Child wants to talk to Me, and I can’t wait to welcome my beloved Home.”  

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

More than ever before, holidays represent change in my life. 

For the past three years, instead of being with family, I’m a welcomed guest in a friend’s home. After a life of ministry, you’d think I’d be used to the situation, but this time, it’s different. This time, my immediate family isn’t with me.

Thanksgiving is my mother’s favorite holiday. I’ve learned to live in transition, but I know Mom would like nothing more than to have all her kids around the table. So, that makes Thanksgiving in this new season of life a new level of difficult.

 As I pondered the approaching Thanksgiving this year, I found a whole new level of Thanksgiving to celebrate. I was struck with the reality that I can trust God with His provision, love and grace over my family even when life looks differently than how I want it to look.

This Thanksgiving, wherever you find yourself, may you spend a moment to glory in the fact that we serve a constant, present and providing God. Even when life is in transition, He never changes. 

Thank God for His constant presence in an ever-changing world 

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~ Written by Viki Rife

The shooting of students in Oregon last week shook me to the core. It could have been my grandsons. 

I was very aware of that because of a conversation with them earlier this summer. Anytime they visit, they usually climb in bed with us when they wake up and we tell stories to each other. That morning, I decided to tell the story of a man imprisoned in Russia for his faith who saw amazing answers to prayer. 

When I finished, the six-year-old said thoughtfully, “If anyone says they will shoot me if I love Jesus, I’ll still tell them I do.”  

“What made you decide that?” I asked him.  

“B (his nine-year-old brother) told me I should always stand up for Jesus,” he answered. 

I turned to B. “What made you decide to do that?” I asked. 

“Well,” he explained, “I was wondering about it, so I talked to Mom and she agreed that I should.” So, these little guys have already decided how they would handle it. And although they aren’t in college, school shootings are unfortunately not limited to colleges. Yes, it could be them. 

A side of me screams, “No!” But the rest of me screams, “Yes! Yes, take a stand for God. Make a powerful statement that He is worth dying for.” 

To you moms out there, may God help you as you guide your children. I never had to have that conversation with my children. But the world has changed. This is now their reality. We can’t shield them from it.  The only thing harder than encouraging your children to take a bullet for Christ is encouraging them to encourage your grandchildren to take a bullet for Christ.

But we need to consider what it would do to a child who truly believes in Christ to live with the knowledge that they had denied Him. I would not put that burden on them. So I would make sure to give them the freedom of knowing that if they believe in Jesus, I will support their decision. They have a right to stand up for Him. 

If we want to raise kids with backbone, we have to start now. 

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