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Archive for the ‘Core Values’ Category

~ 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

I know when people drive by on our road they think we´re crazy. There are at least two reasons for that. First of all, every fall when the apples start to fall off our trees, we let them sit on the ground and rot. The mess is visible from the road. We might be in the yard raking leaves, but the apples lie undisturbed.

The second reason appears at this season of the year. That same area under the apple trees does not get mowed. We carefully skirt around it, leaving tall grass blowing in the spring breeze. 

We have a very good reason for breaking the cultural rules of our neighborhood. If we leave apples on the ground, and if we don´t mow that area, the conditions are ripe for the growth of Morel mushrooms. Retailing at about $50 a pound, this delicacy draws people into the woods in droves for the spring tradition of mushroom hunting.

In other words, what doesn’t make sense to others makes perfect sense to us. All we have to do is wait patiently until the right time, then step out our door and gather our highly-prized feast.

It makes me wonder how many times I judge people’s actions without recognizing the treasure growing in their “mess.” Maybe I should try harder to give them the benefit of the doubt! 

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~ Written by Cassie Harris 

“You give people the ability to offend you. You don’t have to do that.” 

My friend’s words stuck with me throughout my career working in the homeless community. My culture told me I had a right to be offended by a lot of lifestyles, addictions, and belief systems I saw. Even more so, it seemed as if my culture was telling me that when I became offended, no one would blame me if I stopped reaching out to my offender again. 

There’s a problem with that approach, though. Walking away (and never returning) because I was offended by something said or done short-changed my ability to show Christ’s love to a hurting world. So, I had to learn how to cling to my identity in Christ in such a way that when I came up against a disagreement, I could walk away unscathed.  

In today’s day and age, we as Christians need to stop only hanging with the acceptable crowds, the less offensive crowds. With how marginalized Christianity is becoming, if we hide in our comfort zones, our spheres of influence will only become smaller and less powerful. 

Look at Jesus. He stuck to His convictions while surrounded by people who did terrifyingly offensive things. Not once did He not love those He disagreed with. What if we did the same thing? 

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~ Written by Viki Rife 

I confess, I’m baffled. A few weeks ago, on election night, several of my Christian friends posted on social media that they were only making it through thanks to a bottle of alcohol. After the results were official, I saw a number of posts from Christian friends expressing how much they were grieving, and casting blame on white evangelicals, shaming them that this “miscarriage of justice” was their fault.

I admit, I’m not satisfied with the results. Nor would I have been satisfied if Hilary had won. In my mind, this whole election season has been an example of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. So I am not pointing fingers at one side or the other.

My personal grief has nothing to do with who won or lost. My grief is that many of my Christian friends had an opportunity to tangibly demonstrate their faith but chose to do the opposite. Does it really take whiskey rather than faith and prayer to get a Christian through election night? Has God abdicated His authority over heaven and earth to white supremacy? What are we teaching our children through these posts?

I grieve over my fellow Christians who are being divisive instead of seeking to be ministers of reconciliation. I grieve over arrogance and entitlement on both sides. Most of all, I grieve that we have publicly announced our loss of faith in the sovereignty of God.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

Don’t use a GPS to get to my house. You won’t make it there. Despite their amazing ability to track where you are, Global Positioning Systems will claim that you have arrived about a half mile before you actually reach our place.

Believe me, I’m not criticizing. I remember all too well the days of navigating LA freeways with a map in hand. I’d take my eyes off the road, finally find my place on the map, look up to check the road and lose my place on the map. It was just as dangerous as texting while driving.

So my recent trip to California felt like a breeze. My favorite feature of my GPS is the fact that it tells you ahead of time which lane to get into so you’re ready for the next exit. And I absolutely love its ability to redirect after I’ve taken a wrong turn.

It got me started thinking about how much I appreciate our spiritual GPS: God’s Purpose Secured. God has a purpose for me, and all I need to do is pay attention and follow directions. 

Even when He tells me to get into a lane I don’t want to be in, He is positioning me for whatever exits He wants me to take that will lead to arriving at His purpose for me. And He never gives up on me when I take a wrong turn. Praise God, He will fulfill His purposes for me. And He won’t stop until He brings me safely to my destination.

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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 Viki Rife

“Don’t settle for what you alone can make of yourself.” 

This is the motto for FGBC leaders as they gather in various regions for annual Focus retreats. At the Southwest retreat this week, the question was asked of seasoned leaders, “What was the best advice you ever received? What was the worst?”

One of the “worst” pieces of advice to pastors that seemed to resonate with everyone was, “Don’t get too close to your people; it will open you to getting hurt.” Having grown up in a pastor’s home, I deeply understand the sentiment behind it. There’s enough pain in life without being wounded by your own sheep. And I’ve seen deep wounds.

There’s a problem with that approach, though. It just isn’t biblical. Paul speaks many times in his epistles about how dear the believers are to him. He looks forward to being with them so they can encourage him as he encourages them. We are to build one another up—you can’t do that if you’re using a ten-foot pole! Building God’s church is a hands-on, stone-on-stone effort. Leaders must model the kinds of relationships they expect to see among their followers. They must remember that they, too, are only another stone in God’s building.

The discussion left me with two prayers:

1. Lord, help me draw close to your people, even the ones who hurt me.

2. Lord, help me bless those who lead me, not tear them down.

I hope those are your prayers, too. Together, we can help each other make more of ourselves.

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