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Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

~ 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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~ Written by Cassie Harris 

This Easter, an untilled garden plot became the perfect spot to hide eggs for the kids of the family. One hundred colorful plastic eggs in the garden gave life to the otherwise unimpressive scene.

 The giggles of the children soon filled the air as they scrambled to find all their treasures. Three-year-old Liam stole my attention. He giggled at every little thing and mischievously grinned as he got as close to the edge of each ledge as the adults would let him.

 The boy was overjoyed about everything he saw.

 At the end of the day, instead of being enthralled with the coins or candy he’d found in the egg hunt, he was contentedly playing with blades of grass and any pebbles he could find at the garden’s edge. When I momentarily got his attention, he said he liked it there the most because it was pretty and it was Grandma’s.

 I wonder how much differently my life would be if I was more like Liam. What if I found joy, contentment and fulfillment in the smallest – sometimes most ignored – blessings before begging God to give me more? Is it possible God longs to hear my childish joy over the sunrise or a loved one, but instead, I’m too busy longing for a blessing He’s told me to wait on?

 I often tell myself and those around me that Christ is enough for me. What if I acted as if that were true?

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~ Written by Sharon MacMillan

The Carrier Pigeon, a state-of-the-art clipper ship, ran aground 500 feet off shore in 1852 in fog and bad weather. It had traveled from Boston around Cape Horn at the southernmost point of South America, was only about 50 miles from its final destination, San Francisco. The disaster highlighted the need for a lighthouse at this particular location on the west coast. As a result, the Pigeon Point Lighthouse sent its first beacon of light out into the dark ocean on November of 1872 to warn ships and their crews of the impending dangers near the shore.    

A Fresnel lens was placed at the top of a 150-foot tower to direct focused light into its hundreds of prisms and lenses, sending out a strong bent beam of light every 10 seconds. That pattern is  known as a lighthouse’s “characteristic” pattern and identified it to sailors as the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. In those early days of the lighthouse, there would be no pattern of light without a diligent light keeper who would keep the candle burning, usually with sperm oil or lard.   

The Church projects God’s light to the world with her “characteristic” pattern. What do people learn about your Father through your speech, your actions and your attitudes? What is your  individual “characteristic” pattern of light?   

As we come to 2016 we are aware of the great need for the world to see our “characteristic” pattern of light. God designed us to be a people who intercede for the world, are inclusive with messy people, value them enough to train them for their place in Christ’s body, and encourage them along the way as they learn to participate in God’s purposes and plans for His Church. “They shall know you by your love.” That is our “characteristic” pattern for the world. 

We want to learn to pray for those who need light. In your daily prayers, please intercede for the design and implementation of the Women of Grace USA Prayer Summits that we hope to begin this year. Pray for Sue Knight, Nicole Miller and Sharon MacMillan as we seek the Lord for His direction in providing life-changing opportunities to grow deeper in the school of prayer and  intercession, enabling His women bring many to the Light.   

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~Written by Cassie Harris

Will this really effect my eternity?  

I’ve had to learn to ask this question throughout the day. It’s been even harder to answer the question honestly. 

I’m such a planner and routine-lover that when my expectations aren’t met, I have a tendency to feel as if my world is shattering. It can be caused by anything from a forgotten dinner date to a ruined possession. If it’s not in the equation of what I planned my day to consist, I get frustrated. If I can stop the frustration from cascading off my lips, I at least get sarcastic and short with those around me. 

Though my reactions are wrong, the heart of the matter is I am in desperate need of consistency and dependable things in my life. When things don’t go correctly, I often walk away feeling hurt.  

At one point, like so many times before, God came to my rescue several years ago with one simple yet bold truth. He is my constant. He is dependable. 

John 10:28-29 promises that if we are His, if we have chosen to follow Him, no one can snatch us out of His hand. Therefore, our eternity is secure. The one thing that truly matters is never effected and never changed. 

What a perspective shift to remember that when I’m looking for consistency and a firm foundation when my plans crumble, the reality is, Jesus Christ never left.   

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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 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 Viki Rife

“When our kids aren’t coming home for Christmas, we don’t bother to put up a tree,” I confessed to my friend the other day. She agreed, adding, “I figure it’s two whole days of my life used up, one to put everything up and one to take everything down.” We both had drawn the same conclusion: if no one’s there to enjoy it, why bother?

The Christmas story, however, shows us a very different attitude. God purposefully sent His perfect Son knowing only a few would enjoy the spectacular event. How many people actually recognized that this baby was different from all the others? Only a handful. God orchestrated a huge choir of angels for just a few shepherds. He provided a special star for just a few wise men. When Jesus was dedicated at the temple, the priests and religious leaders did not gather to celebrate—it was just another baby. Only two elderly people with prophetic gifts took advantage of the great moment.

That’s the amazing thing about God. He doesn’t hold back His creativity just because few will enjoy it. Instead, He touches our humble lives with His amazing beauty every single day, whether or not we open our eyes to recognize it, whether we are tuned in or not. I think He went to all that bother because He wanted to delight certain people. He knew exactly what their hearts longed for.

As we each revisit the Christmas story this year, let’s take time to enter the amazement that each of the participants in that first Christmas must have felt. Not everyone “got it,” but those who did were blessed beyond measure. That very same God wants to bless YOU with surprises that others may miss. Enjoy His beauty this season!

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