Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

~Written by Cassie Rayl

Christianity is uncomfortable. If there’s anything I’ve learned this past year with a vengeance it would be just that. I haven’t stuck around Jesus and his standards to be comfortable. If ease was truly what I sought in 2019, I’ve followed the wrong God.

I used to share such thoughts with confidence and be surrounded by knowledgeable nods and knowing smiles. This past year, more than ever before, I found myself around people who acted disgusted that I had stayed with Christ. After all, in their minds, I could blame this Jesus for everything our family had been through, so why stay?

During one conversation where a friend asked me why I still believed following Christ was a good idea, all I could say through the tears was, “Because He’s everything, and I trust Him.”

Our culture is slowly becoming less and less “Jesus friendly.” If we as the Body of Christ can’t cement in our hearts why we trust Him, and if we can’t purpose in our minds just how much we are willing to give Christ no matter our circumstances, standing strong will only become harder.

In 2020, let’s strive to stand with purpose in allegiance to the only One Who is always enough. The world needs the light of Christ more than ever.

Read Full Post »

~ Written by Samantha Freds

Christmas is a season of anticipation. Children of all ages struggle to sleep the night before Christmas as their little hearts are filled with excitement of the next morning. Families have countdown calendars and preparatory traditions leading up to the joyous day. The Christmas season should remind us of another season of anticipation long ago.

For generations, Israel awaited the promised Messiah. Parents and grandparents would have gathered their children around to tell them the prophesies of the One who was to save them. They anxiously awaited freedom from Roman oppression. They expected a Savior King.

They got an infant. A baby so weak it could be contained in a blanket. A child so insignificant he was born among animals and laid in a feeding trough. Jesus was far from what they expected.

But as he grew, there was promise of greatness. He impressed the religious teachers in the temple as a boy. He performed miracles and drew huge crowds when he spoke.

Then the real unexpected happened. Jesus stood silent before his accusers next to a political insurrectionist named Barabbas. Barabbas was a voice in the rebellion. He was the leader Israel wanted. So though Pilate didn’t think Jesus was guilty under Roman law, his death was called for by the very people he came to save.

They were disappointed with Jesus.

Are you disappointed with Jesus? Has He been too slow in answering your heart’s deepest prayer? Did you expect Him to rush in and save the day? Are you wondering where the mighty Savior is? Have you been hurt by the lack of justice in your life or in the life of someone you love?

If you are disappointed with Jesus know you are not alone. And know that Jesus isn’t deterred by your disappointment. His love is unconditional. He knew He would be despised and rejected, but He came anyway. This season we celebrate the birth of a Savior who exceeded all expectations when He willingly went to the cross for each and every one of us.

Read Full Post »

~ Written by Lorena Oplinger

Many purchases have been made based on emotional reasons.” This is what I’ve learned as a retail sales associate. The way we choose to spend our money reflects not only who we are but also what we lack.

In a recent sermon, my pastor explained that our lack of self-control in buying things is more than a behavior. “Shopaholics buy things in order to fill the emptiness in their hearts,” he stated. The pleasure we feel when we buy certain items, eat certain food, or do certain activities is created by our brain, a powerful machine that it releases its own dopamine. This chemical substance makes us feel better and happier.

People are desperate to be accepted, included, and welcomed. Everybody wants to feel part of something, but when someone experiences rejection, exclusion, and/or discrimination, he or she will always find other ways to compensate for the gap produced in his or her heart.

Purchasing something of value gives us a false sense of identity. We have become a Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas society. We don’t mind paying twice the value for brand items if they represent a high social status.

My job requires me to provide the best service experience to those who come to me, but my call as a Christian is to share the Good News of Christ in an emotionally empty world.

I would love for them to know that happiness is free.

Read Full Post »

~Written by Samantha Freds

I don’t cry easily, but there is one thing that inevitably brings me to tears: a soldier’s homecoming. The videos are everywhere this time of year. Whether it happens at a football game, a school event or the front door, military men and women reunited with their families gets me every single time.

Perhaps that’s because I know the feeling.

“Sami! Wake up, Daddy’s here!” My brother tried to shake me awake. “You better not be joking,” I groggily replied, afraid to get my hopes up. We hadn’t seen Dad for months and we were not planning to see him that weekend, either. He was stationed in Florida at the time and we were visiting Grandma in Connecticut.

Dad had served twenty-one years in the Air Force before becoming a pastor. He was still in the Air Force Reserves while pastoring a small congregation in New York. He put thousands of miles on the car traveling from New York to Massachusetts, where he was stationed, to fulfill both duties. But after September 11th he was called up to active duty. That’s what eventually sent him to Florida.

My mom, brother and I were scheduled to see Dad around Thanksgiving. Our plane tickets were purchased and the countdown had begun. Instead, that early morning in Connecticut, our family had our own soldier’s homecoming moment. There’s no video, but I don’t think any of us need one to remember it.

Dad had been deactivated early and drove through the night to see us. Although he would continue traveling from New York to Massachusetts until his reserve time was complete, we wouldn’t be separated for months at a time again. I know my mom has never been happier to cancel a trip to sunny Florida! And, thanks to an inner ear infection that hit me at the perfect time, our plane tickets were refunded. God’s blessing in disguise!

I can relate to the sacrifice of our military men and women from a child’s perspective and I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I praise God often that my dad came home.

To all the veterans and their families: Thank you for your sacrifice and service.

Read Full Post »

~ 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? 

Read Full Post »

~ 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?

Read Full Post »

  
~ 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.   

Read Full Post »

~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.   

Read Full Post »

~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.

Read Full Post »

~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.”  

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: