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Archive for the ‘Gifted for Leadership’ Category

~ Written by Viki Rife

It’s hard to process the thoughts that have accompanied the much-publicized comment by Dr. John MacArthur when asked what words he associates with women’s Bible study leader Beth Moore. His response was “Go home.” This response has filled me more with grief than with anger. After 50 years in leadership, this brother seems to be working in the opposite direction from Christ’s prayer that His followers would love each other and be united as the Godhead is.

Some of my concerns include:

1. I believe most confidently that God has called me to help women and girls deepen their understanding of and obedience to Christ. Why else would Titus 2:3-5 instruct that the older women should be taught to train the younger women? The clear call to show them how to love their husbands and children requires a rich understanding of doctrinal truth in order to learn to love appropriately. It makes no sense to try in any way to restrict women from immersing themselves, both brain and heart, in exploring God’s Word to increase their understanding of Him.

2. Nothing healthy is accomplished for Christ when a believer shows disdain for another believer. It may be possible that MacArthur has concluded that she is not a believer, but even in that case, he has demonstrated public contempt for another human being created in God’s image. Believers and non-believers alike are only confused and frustrated with that kind of behavior from a well-known leader.

3. MacArthur seems to assume that it would be impossible for God to ever raise up a woman like Deborah again. He apparently has concluded he knows God’s rules and can discredit the calling of anyone who doesn’t follow those rules. It’s similar to the smug attitude that led the Pharisees to reject Jesus, whom they concluded was breaking God’s laws.

4. In this era of people viewing Christians as hateful and intolerant, John MacArthur has unfortunately proved their point in a matter that belies even the beliefs of other Christians. The rest of Titus 2:3-5 talks about the importance of women’s behavior not maligning the Word of God, but I believe men, too, can cause God’s Word to be maligned.

While I don’t claim to be a Beth Moore groupie, I am very appreciative of her gracious response. She reminded all of us that her job is to do what God has called her to do. Just because another member of the body of Christ says, essentially, that our ministry is worthless does not mean God sees us that way.

My greatest wish is that those who have varying views on the role of women would not consider it their job to prevent women from following God’s call. Rather, church leaders should invest their energies in helping each woman God has called them to shepherd discover her role in God’s great plan for humanity.

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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 Viki Rife

When I admit to people what my hobby is, they laugh. Even if they’re too proper to laugh out loud, I see one side of their mouth curl up for a moment before they gain control. I’ve tried to come up with another name for my hobby, but haven’t found one that works—one that makes people nod their heads in understanding. 

Experts tell us that hobbies are good for us; they refresh and invigorate us. So what’s wrong with my hobby being something that helps me have fun? It’s the bright spot of my week; my greatest indulgence in the midst of a busy life of ministry and parental caregiving. 

Every Thursday at 3 p.m., I take a break to enjoy my hobby. First, I pick up a seventh grader and an eighth grader from our church. Then we drive, with a mix of prayers and chattering, to the public school near our church. There we meet up in the science lab with other volunteers. Soon, about 30 first-through-sixth-grade girls come streaming in. We play games or do crafts. Then we move to one of the classrooms for my favorite part. I get to tell them about The Teacher.  

This is where my hobby comes into play. I love tailoring the truth about The Teacher to their needs. Some of these girls have only heard the name Jesus used as a swear word. Others have picked up the culture’s negative attitude toward Christians. But they are growing to love The Teacher. Each week we tell them “clues” about who The Teacher is, and they get to add them to their list of clues. Some have figured out the name, but their understanding of the real Jesus is badly distorted. 

In our small groups after the story, we leaders have a chance to pour into the hearts of the girls. We hear the challenges of their young hearts: everything from sick pets to broken homes and imprisoned parents. We have a chance to give them a glimpse of hope. 

There is nothing as satisfying as helping someone fall in love with Jesus. It is especially satisfying with these girls whose hearts are still tender enough to respond. So for me, my hobby, my break in my busy week, is SMM (Sisters Mentoring with a Mission). I give myself the luxury of watching God work in their hearts. 

Laugh at my hobby if you wish. But I hope you find one for yourself that’s this rewarding! 

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~ Written by Viki Rife

Let’s be honest. We just can’t reach our full potential alone. Strength comes when we partner with others.

That is a foundational belief of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. We rejoice in the number of brothers and sisters whom God has brought into our circle throughout the world, and realize that we must learn to partner together. Cultural differences must not stand in the way of the mission God has given us. We need to work together to determine how our beliefs can strengthen us to reach out to a world in need.

That’s why you should feel a vested interest in what will happen in Bangkok, Thailand, next week. As delegates representing at least 19 countries meet together, their decisions will help set the stage for greater impact as we collaborate globally to make disciples for Christ.  
For some of the delegates, just getting to the meeting is a major challenge. Some of them come from war-torn countries; some are at risk of persecution. They need our prayers. It’s the best contribution we can make to bless these representatives and to help our Fellowship become effective around the world.

Please commit to spend least fifteen minutes in prayer at some point next week for the future of the international Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. Help the delegates know who “has their backs” by signing up in the prayer chain. Details can be found at http://charisalliance.org/english/prayer-chain.html.   

Thank you for your valuable contribution. 

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~ Written by Cindy Shuler

“So, what did you do this weekend?” The question was asked knowing that my husband and sons were at the annual men’s retreat with our church. I answered that a friend and I spent Saturday on a prayer retreat. 

Responses to my answer varied. Some said, “Oh, that’s nice.” Others gave me a look that said, “Really?” My daughter responded that she’d probably run out of things to pray for after two minutes. These responses didn’t really surprise me. After all, I would have reacted in much the same way until recently. 

Three years ago I was invited to spend an evening praying for our son. I accepted with fear and trepidation. It was the Christian thing to do. But inwardly I wondered how I could pray for an hour, let alone three! What would I say? What would the others think of me? Needless to say, I survived. It wasn’t that bad. Still, I was relieved when it was over. 

Now I laugh when I think about it. I’m amazed at how the Lord has changed my perspective. Prayer isn’t a duty. It’s a privilege, a conversation with our Abba Father. I now look forward to these times dedicated to seeking God’s face, to worshipping Him and to laying my requests before Him. It refreshes my soul. 

And sharing it with a friend is an added blessing. This particular day was enriched by time spent outdoors, surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. We offered up praise and we worshipped. We prayed for one another, our families, our church and Women of Grace USA. At the end of the day, our hearts were lighter.  

How do you respond to the invitation to pray? How would our families, our churches, our ministries be affected if we devoted ourselves to prayer? Next time you have some free time, grab a friend or two and have a nice, long conversation with your Father. You’ll be glad you did. 

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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 Gladys Deloe 

Bite your tongue! Are you serious? Shouldn’t the question be, “Is life without God worth the risk? That premise is almost as incredulous as a screen-saver I saw which said, “Without risk it is impossible to please God.” Really?  

“Risk” is defined as taking a gamble! It’s investing in an unknown; it’s a danger, hazard, peril or threat. The world says the antonym for risk is security, immunity; a guarantee or insurance. Right! I’ll have one guarantee for $500, please!  

Would a better question be “What’s the risk?” I urge you to search the Scriptures for evidence of the premise that a life of faith can co-exist with a life of risk. No…don’t do that! Instead, look up verses that promise you a risk-free faith! Do you really think that the Creator of the universe can’t take care of you at any time, in any place, and under any circumstance?  

In Deuteronomy 3:16 the Lord said, “Don’t be afraid of the nations on the other side of Jordan. The LORD your God will always be at your side and He will never abandon you.” 

And the risk is: __________________________ (You tell me.)

OK…that’s for a nation. Want some personal ones?  

How about Isaiah 8:11-19, “Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty; He alone is the Holy One. If you fear Him, you need fear nothing else. He will keep you safe. …I will wait for the Lord to help me. …My only hope is in Him.” Don’t you love it? 

Or I Peter 3:12-14, “Who will harm you for doing good, but if you do, God will reward you for it. So don’t be afraid and don’t worry.” 

It’s the unbeliever who’s at risk. Trust me… No, trust Him! So, Girlfriend, start marking those “risk-free faith” verses!  

 

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~ Written by Viki Rife

When I buy a new phone, the first thing I do is download a tornado app. It tells me when a tornado might be coming, and also gives me detailed instructions for what to do before, during, and after the storm hits.

What kind of app do we have to help us weather persecution? Too bad it isn’t that easy. But there are some things we can do so we’re ready for whatever comes our way. Daniel 11:32 tell us: …the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. Key components for taking action include:

1. Scripture study and memorization: persecuted believers throughout the world bear witness that knowing God’s Word has had an impact in helping them to stand firm in hard times.

2. Prayer: we have been promised wisdom, we need only to ask for it. Remember that this assurance in James 1:5 comes in the context of Christians who are suffering persecution for Christ.

3. Live now as a citizen of heaven: surrender your rights to Christ, bless your enemies and pray for them, seek the good of others.

4. Anticipate the glory, as glimpsed in Revelation, that awaits those who stand firm. Keep your eyes above the waves of today and focus on the joy of hearing Jesus say, “Well done!”

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~ Written by Cassie Harris 

It’s commonly used as a warm and fuzzy sentiment about God’s faithfulness — “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding…” Everyone smiles at that verse. Upon hearing it, most people at least start a pensive, slow affirmative nod. We like that verse. Trusting Jesus is nice.

Rarely do we take the time to determine what the phrase “… all your heart…” actually requires of a Christian within the Body of Christ. For anyone who has experienced being let down by another human being, we tend to be a little gun shy about trusting anyone else. But, we trust God, so that’s good enough, right? We don’t need to trust anyone else. Right?

Colossians 1 refers to Christ as the “… head of the Body…” which makes God and the Body one unit. It’s impossible to love and trust God and not take the risk of trusting the individuals within the Body of Christ as well. However, humans fail, so why should we step up and trust someone we know won’t come through 100% of the time?

When the Word of God tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” that includes trusting Him to stand in the gap between our hearts and the failures of the others within the Body of Christ. This is the same God who uses imperfect people to execute His perfect plan. He can heal, use and bless whatever pains come with taking the risk to trust another imperfect being who shares the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

You cannot experience Christ fully without the Body of Christ. Trust can hurt, but trusting God with every emotional, spiritual and mental risk can make operating within the Body — within relationship — absolutely breathtaking.

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~ Written By Cindy Bushen

It is finished…finally. 

What was meant to be a beautiful memento of my daughter’s wedding became a pile of signed fabric squares sitting on a shelf in my craft cupboard. Originally, I envisioned creating this wedding quilt masterpiece as soon as the wedding leftovers were put away. I was even hoping to present the happy couple with it when they returned from their honeymoon. But the fabric pen hadn’t worked right, names were smuggled and notes ran off the edge of the fabric. Every time I looked at this project, I was discouraged. 

How could a beautiful memory quilt come from these imperfect blocks of fabric? This became a project that loomed over me for years. From time to time I would pull it all out and attempt to start sewing, only to stuff it back up on the shelf. With the passing of time, I determined in my mind that my daughter probably wasn’t all that interested in a wedding quilt and the quilt had been more about showcasing my creative sewing skills. 

However, more recently my daughter began to ask about the quilt and expressed a desire to have it completed…after all, her 10th anniversary was approaching. I again pulled out the pieces and examined the signatures. Memories of the people that had come to make her wedding day special came flooding in. There were names of people who had now passed on, as well as children who were now young adults and people who have continued to encourage my daughter in her marriage. 

Now the signatures were precious and my heart thrilled with the thought of piecing them together. Getting the quilt done didn’t necessarily come easily. There was still pattern planning, measuring, cutting, pinning and hours of sewing to do, but now my heart was in it. The time was right. This was no longer just a project but rather a labor of love that only I could complete for my daughter. 

As I finished my “masterpiece,” I thought about a friend who is battling an addiction. I desperately want to rush in and treat her as if she is another project of mine to complete. I want to quickly put all the pieces together and have her life working again. But I have come to see that she is God’s masterpiece, not mine. I am thankful to be part of the thread that is helping stitch her life back together, but only in God’s timing will her life be complete.

People are God’s masterpiece. I look forward to someday saying, “It is finished…perfectly.”   

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