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Archive for the ‘hunger’ Category

~ Written by Viki Rife

For several years I’ve been asking God, “Where is the thrill I used to get when I read my Bible?” I used to be like a hummingbird, savoring all the rich nectar of each passage as I held myself poised in the air by the rapid beat of my wings. I rejoiced in the bright colors and rich promises as I read through God’s Word. My stomach fluttered like I was on a roller coaster.

Now, I read chapter after chapter before the tickle in my stomach happens, if it happens at all. The colors of familiar passages don’t attract me like they used to. So my question to God about losing the thrill of reading Scripture has come from a deep concern that I’m losing my first love.

God is so gracious in answering! He pointed out an eagle to me on a recent outing. “Do you see how that eagle just spreads out her wings and relaxes? She lets the wind carry her. She sees more than just a few flowers. She has the whole vista: mountains and streams and trees, all flowing together.

“When you read your Bible now, you aren’t marveling in the same way in anticipation of the rich promises I’ve made. You have experienced My answers in so many ways that instead you are hearing the Spirit gently prodding, ‘Remember when you saw Me do that?’ Part of the thrill you felt was tied to your efforts to find Me. Now your faith has developed confidence that gives you wings to soar!”

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~ Written by Viki Rife

It started when I went back to a town I had lived in during high school and decided to track down a favorite teacher. She welcomed me warmly and led me through the living room into her “sitting room.” My jaw dropped. The huge room was a floor-to-ceiling library, with a curving stair leading to a reading loft high up among the books. I think it was inspired by the library in the 1964 film “My Fair Lady.”

A reading addict like me has trouble resisting the temptation to ignore everything else and start browsing the shelves. Even as we chatted, I found my eyes wandering. What amazing opportunities were tucked along those walls! I wouldn’t even know where to start.

That memory shows me such a picture of our relationship with God. Opening His Word is like being let loose in a library full of rich treasures. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. There is so much to know about Him that we couldn’t possibly comprehend it all. We might choose to explore one aspect of Him one day, or for a month, then we check out other subjects about Him that expand our understanding of Him even more.

Yes, at times relationship with an all-knowing God can seem overwhelming. But the more we explore, the more we discover of His amazing character and how He wants to speak to our hearts.

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~ Written by Erin Shuler

(Erin Shuler is spending the month of January ministering at Sonrise Orphanage in Uganda. She is a sophomore at Grace College.)

There are too many little hands!

Everywhere I go there are little smiling faces looking up at me. They either want to hold my hand or beg to be picked up and held. I am a complete stranger. My skin is a different color. I speak a different language. I come from a different background. But for some reason, these children trust me. They love me and they want to be with me.

While I settle into living in Uganda, going on a walk is a daily activity. As I’m walking, my hands and my heart are full. I have a child (or two or three) holding on to each hand and they don’t let go. But there are too many children. I can’t hold all their hands at once. As they are shoving and fighting over my hands, I have to calm several screaming or crying children because someone else stole my hand from them. I wish I could pick them all up and hold them forever. But I know I will never be able to do such a thing.

My heart is overflowing with love for these children. I wish they all had a family member who could give them the attention they crave and deserve. I wish being held, hugged, and having their hand held was a normal daily activity for them. They have been through more than anyone should ever have to go through. Yet despite their past and their current circumstances, you will never encounter a happier or more loving child than these.

I am incredibly thankful there is Someone who can, and is, holding on to these children and will never let them go. There is Someone who loves them more than I ever could. Someone whose hand is holding not only these children but the entire world. God desires to hold everyone’s hand.

When I am not enough for these children, He is. He is walking hand-in-hand with me, helping me up when I get knocked down. He comforts me when I get hurt, and is always there when and where I need Him. His hands are enough. I can let go and rest in His capable embrace because He has everything under control.

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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

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 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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Vulture

~ Written by Viki Rife

This picture haunts me like nothing I’ve ever seen. How can any mother, grandmother, or any human being for that matter, see this and not be moved?

I could spiritualize it and talk about people starving for God’s truth and the enemy waiting as a vulture to destroy them, but that would be an attempt to escape the cruel reality. In our society, there has been more media buzz about the death of a lion than about the starving of children, or the carefully orchestrated harvesting of the tissue of innocent, helpless human beings.

What is our responsibility for the suffering in the world?

That question haunts me. It haunts me as much as if I saw it happening out my back door, in my own yard. I want to gather my Women of Grace sisters to pray like we never have before. Helpless people are dying without Christ. Let’s get out there and intercede!

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~ Written by Viki Rife

After five-year-old Frances Slocum was kidnapped in Pennsylvania in 1778, her family spend 59 years looking for her. They finally found her living among the Miami tribe in Indiana. They wanted her to come back with them to live in “civilization.” She had become accustomed to her current life, and she refused to leave it.

She knew she wouldn’t belong any more.

As believers, we find ourselves having to choose where we belong. Are we citizens of earth or citizens of heaven? When Jesus taught about the kingdom of heaven, He presented us with an entirely different mindset from what this world accepts. Citizens of heaven care about the good of their own country, and don’t get involved in the politics and customs of the earthly country they are living in. They invest in furthering the interests of their own country.

What does it mean to you when you pray, “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? What would that actually look like? What are we willing to do to make that happen? We are called to live in a way that gives a taste of heaven on earth.

We need to understand that it is how we handle suffering that furthers the kingdom of God most. . Pray for God to keep changing your perspective so you can live the lifestyle and mindset of the kingdom of heaven.

It’s where you belong!

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  ~Written by Viki Rife

I am in no way a farm girl, but one of the most courageous things I ever did was a desperate attempt to save a calf’s life. The calf had become listless, and my husband, just home from hernia surgery, called the vet. The doctor’s solution? Take a long tube with a bulb on one end and a bag on the other, fill the bag with a liquid mix, then open the calf’s mouth, push the bulb down the cow’s throat into its stomach and squeeze the bag. As if that wasn’t enough, he warned me several times to make sure the bulb didn’t go into the calf’s lungs, or I would drown it.

The calf was half-grown, so attempting to wrestle him into position was challenging. Then came the agony of forcing down his throat something that made him gag and fight. Then I had to listen for the sounds that would show it had reached the right place. I would then get a four-hour break before I had to go back to the barn and do it all over again.

I’ll leave it to you to imagine what an adventure that was! The crazy thing was, all this could have been prevented. After moving into a home in the country with a barn, we had bought calves hoping to save money on meat. Calves usually go from milk to ground corn to regular corn. We had assumed that because they seemed to be eating the whole kernel corn, they were ready for it. But they were not yet mature enough to chew the corn well enough for their stomach to digest it. They were eating, but they were not being nourished.

Sometimes, I find myself doing the same thing when I’m mentoring. I feel like I’m offering them wholesome food, but they may not have the ability to chew and digest the spiritual food. I push them along, expecting them to “get it,” and feel disappointed when they don’t. How much better to let the Spirit guide us to give those we are mentoring the right food for their maturity level! It can prevent major trauma to them—and to us!

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~ Written by Viki Rife

The sign at the checkout said, “Stop hunger at home.” It went on to tell how many in my county don’t get enough to eat. Hunger is a terrible thing. 

But even worse is when a person no longer knows she’s hungry. It’s heartbreaking to see someone who has sunk so far into anorexia she is starving to death and doesn’t even know it. But I find myself being even more distressed by the spiritual anorexia around me. 

There are people in the world who would give anything for access to the truth about God, and we sometimes forget that we even need it. I think this concern is one of the reasons I enjoy the Women’s Leadership Studies classes so much. I know how they have met a hunger in my life, and I see them making a difference for other women, as well. I love sharing “aha” moments with other women, and finding common ground for discussion, as we dig into the truth about how God relates to us. 

After a recent class, one of the participants shared that she had struggled in school and had been hesitant to register for the class. Then she commented, 

“I absolutely loved studying the scripture with the group. I love learning and discussing issues. I have such a passion for teaching and leading women. I believe this is the first step that will propel me to discover more opportunities for learning and growing.” 

As we gather to share our knowledge, it may be awakening hunger in those around us. Let’s make it our goal to “stop spiritual starvation at home.” 

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