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Archive for the ‘Entitlement’ Category

~Written by Cassie Rayl

 If respecting Sean was hard, loving him was harder. From the day we met everything he said was mean, disrespectful, lewd, crude, and rude. He was one of those older gentlemen any decent person would follow around, if only to mutter, “I’m sorry; he shouldn’t have said that” to Sean’s latest victim. There was nothing wrong with Sean; he just didn’t like people.

The only thing he seemed to hate more than people was Jesus Christ. When most of his family came to the Lord, that somehow made his negativity worsen. We all watched the years go by thinking, “Lord, no heart is too hard, but will Sean ever see you?” In our human estimations, it definitely didn’t seem like it!

Just hours before he passed away from a fast-acting illness, the proverbial scales fell from Sean’s eyes, and he begged his family to lead him to the Lord. What victory! Sean would end his harsh life knowing full-well the saving grace and mercy of his savior, Jesus Christ. We all rejoiced him into Heaven, relieved that his fight was over.

Well, almost all of us. A young woman pulled me aside and simply asked, “How can Jesus have mercy on such a horrible man? It seems to me he’s the last person who deserves Christ’s mercy. Sean was evil!”

Although I didn’t share her sentiment, I understood it. How often have I decided Jesus’ limitless mercy was enough to cover my sins, but not the sins of those who left so many wounded? Jesus easily forgives my sins. Things like: gluttony, dishonesty, and pride. But isn’t there a different scale for the “bigger” sins which consigns the sinner in his wretchedness where he deserves to be?

The reality is, we can’t short-change the mercy of God over someone we believe has committed a greater offense. If we do that, we completely change the story of salvation and what makes Jesus different from any other false god.

We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. Jesus’ mercy isn’t fair, but it is what makes his love large enough to rescue the world.

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

“Sis? A little help, please?” My brother puffed out behind his stack of books while he attempted to open the door to the stairwell. His grunts made it obvious he wanted me to treat his predicament with urgency. Usually, I would’ve jumped at the chance to get an atta-girl from my eldest sibling, but not right that second.

“Ty, can’t you see I’m reading my Bible?! Ask someone else.” I remember looking back at my Bible absolutely peeved Ty had dared take me away from its sacred pages. I knew Ty needed me, but wasn’t my time with Jesus supposed to take priority over all else? Couldn’t Ty appreciate my attempts at becoming a more pious saint?

Although the memory still makes me cringe, it now makes me chuckle at my childish perspective on what it meant to spend time with Jesus.

Over 15 years later, I constantly find myself revisiting my “Devotions corner” and huffing out a quick, “Sorry, Jesus. Where were we?” Seemingly on a daily basis, just when I’m sitting down to spend time in the Word or my prayer journal, my husband needs help with a project, my phone rings with an urgent need, or I need to get the cookies out of the oven for Sunday’s fellowship time before I can focus in the Throne Room.

It’s easy to feel guilty about those moments; especially if you grew up in the “Quiet Time” culture where your 15 minutes in the Psalms came first. But if we treat our time with the Lord as a checklist, we forget the heart of God—the ultimate Servant.

What would it take to see our acts of service, the times we sacrifice our moments of peace for a need in front of us, as a way to spread the love of Jesus by our actions? What if more times than not, Jesus is nodding at the person asking for our focus and saying, “It’s okay. I’ll teach you my heart while you serve them”?

How much more sincerely would people see the Body of Christ if we saw our mundane service as worship to the invisible Audience of One?

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~Written by Viki Rife

It happened again today. I was reading an article in a respected Christian magazine. As it described a young pastor’s battle with cancer, it referred to it as a tragedy. And I couldn’t help wonder: is it right for God’s people to describe a death, ordained by God, as a tragedy? Why are we buying into the world’s definition?

The word “tragedy” and its companions (disaster, horrendous, etc.) are descriptions of how the world sees such situations. But what are we communicating when we use those terms? That God is not in control? That He isn’t good? There is something about these descriptions that draws our attention away from trust and replaces it with helplessness and hopelessness. Of course these situations are hard and painful for those of us who remain, but it just seems to me that someone’s graduation to glory should never be couched in those terms.

As long as we use the world’s terminology to describe our circumstances, we will be just as fearful as they are. Let’s pray that God will give us eyes to see beyond to the victory He is accomplishing.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

There are more divorces in your church than you think. The legal documents only represent a very small part of what is happening. Yes, there are couples who are still married but who do not work together as partners. Still, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Ask yourself: is there anyone within my church I wouldn’t want to partner with in a project? When we don’t want to partner with someone, we start disengaging from them. If we disengage from others, we are heading down the path of divorcing ourselves from the Church.

It’s the way we divorce ourselves from other humans that ends up causing disunity in the church. And we must remember that Jesus prayed, above all, for unity among His people. If our love for each other is supposed to be a witness to a lost world, how effective are we?

I’d like to propose a radical therapy approach to dealing with disunity of any kind. When you feel tension in your relationship with another person, before it builds any more, ask if they will commit to praying half an hour a week with you. That time of prayer could be in person or over the phone. Share prayer requests with each other and pray about them together. There is something powerful about prayer as we enter God’s presence together. We begin to understand each other, and to actually want the good we are praying for them to happen to them.

Why not try some radical therapy this week? I can assure you that God will honor your commitment to unity. You will wonder why you didn’t engage in this blessing sooner!

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~ Written by Cassie Harris 

​I noticed something this weekend about womankind’s need to gossip. We gossip most when we’re extremely hurt and we feel emotionally violated. 

We need to tell someone how wretched “so-n-so” is. But, we know gossip is wrong. So instead, we approach it from the perspective of “needing prayer.” But we gently use phrases like, “I’m not sure, but I think they… (insert opinions here.)”

​Before we know it, what we are confiding to a friend as a “prayer request” becomes a chance to recount every bitter corner of our wounded pride. By the time we’re done telling our story, we’re too bitter to pray. We’re too bitter to hear truth.

​Because of that bitterness, our prayers for the people who have offended us become prayers about them, not for them. Prayers like Change them, God, they’re not who I once knew become thrown at the Heavens with bitter authoritative pride. The reality is, there is more power praying God, they need you. What can I do to overcome evil with good?

​As a kid, I was always taught not to gossip because it made people “feel bad.” May I take it a step further and suggest that gossiping disables us in the Throne Room by clothing us with a prideful arrogance over the people in our lives who are hard to love?

​We’re women, made in the image of God. Our words are powerful. Let’s use them wisely.

 

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~ Written by Viki Rife

It happened, of all places, in a doctor’s office. For years I have struggled to grasp the elusive meaning of the invitation to abide in Christ given to us in John 15. What does that look like? How can I know I’m doing it?

That particular day I had taken my parents to a doctor’s appointment and we had already been there almost three hours. We were all weary, hungry and frustrated. I had too many deadlines hanging over me to be sitting there wasting time. I found myself mentally transferring items from the day’s to-do list to the next day’s list.

Suddenly, it hit me. Nothing—not one single thing on my list of complaints—mattered at that moment. All that mattered was that I live this very moment with an attitude that brings glory to God. He had already given permission for the delays to happen to us. My time belongs to Him, and if He decides to use it this way, that is His right. This moment sitting with my parents is as sacred to His glory as the ones I spend reading my Bible and praying.

It’s my response to the situation that makes the difference. That is what it means to abide in Christ—to live every moment as if it is ordained by Him. Because, after all, it is!

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~ Written by Cassie Harris 

“For every day of the year he learned a new Bible verse.” Everyone smiled as friends reminisced about Roy Snyder’s legacy in his heart for missions and his even bigger heart for Africa. At 93, it was obvious at his celebration of life that he had learned the true definition of missions — in order to receive, you must give. Roy understood that.

As one of the youngest people at the celebration, I was humbled to see Roy’s example of doing everything he could to represent Christ well. Up until his last week on this side of Glory, he had a verse, hymn, or missions prayer request to share with anyone who cared to listen. He didn’t exactly care about America’s expectations of the older generation. He had a message to share; Christ was all he lived for. He didn’t know what retirement meant.

It is becoming more and more popular to believe that the end goal is retirement when we get older. Though I must admit retirement sounds nice, what would our world look like if we served till our last breath with our one goal to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

What if we were like Roy and so many others like him and we loved Jesus deeply and were never heard saying the phrase, “I’ve done my time”?

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~ Written by Viki Rife

“I have a right.”

It’s a dangerous phrase which undermines our foundations. Let’s think about that a little. What rights can we really claim as Christians?

Do you want to stand firm for God against any kind of persecution? If so, we need to eliminate that simple phrase from our vocabulary. In fact, we need to eliminate it completely from our thought process. The best way to process this is to look at how Jesus handled His life on this earth. He gave up everything (Philippians 2:7 calls it “emptying himself”). He did not grasp for His rights (Phil. 2:6). 

He had a right to destroy anyone who opposed Him. He had a right to call down angels to rescue him from the cross. But He did not call for His rights. That wasn’t his mission He gave up His right to comfort and convenience so He could claim the right to save us. And He has saved us so we could have the right to help others find Him.

Whenever I clamor for my rights, I am trying to be greater than my Master. May I never settle for thinking that I deserve more than Jesus does!

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