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Archive for the ‘Power’ Category

~ Written by Viki Rife

I really hated to do it, but I had no choice. I picked up the scissors. I could hardly bring myself to start cutting.

This was my favorite plant, the one I hang outside my window every summer to enjoy while I’m having my devotions each morning. Whenever I look up from my reading and writing, there it is, swinging gently in the wind, with the willow tree in the background and hummingbirds stopping by to visit. It’s my little piece of heaven.

We’d had a hailstorm, and ever since then it had looked more and more pathetic. I had tried to nurse it along, but it was obvious that drastic measures were needed. I had one more thing to try before throwing it in the trash heap.

I started cutting back the long, hanging stems. With them came the few blossoms that were left. It no longer hung over the edges of the planter. The short, stubby growth that was left was a pathetic shadow of what had once brought me so much enjoyment.

Fast forward a month, however, and the plant once again showed energetic growth. It was fuller than it had been before, and covered with flowers and new buds. Something about cutting it back had brought new life.

Sometimes it’s hard to understand why God prunes us. Why would He make us give up a ministry that is blossoming? Why would He allow us to lose someone who is precious to us? Why would He leave us feeling as if we had been cut down on all sides?

If only we can remember He only does it for our good! He wants to give us a fullness that is greater than anything we have experienced. And the way He does it is by removing the dead growth. I wonder if He feels sadness in making us suffer, but forges ahead because He knows it’s the only way to save us from ourselves.

I’m so glad He doesn’t give up. 

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~ Written by Viki Rife 

I confess, I’m baffled. A few weeks ago, on election night, several of my Christian friends posted on social media that they were only making it through thanks to a bottle of alcohol. After the results were official, I saw a number of posts from Christian friends expressing how much they were grieving, and casting blame on white evangelicals, shaming them that this “miscarriage of justice” was their fault.

I admit, I’m not satisfied with the results. Nor would I have been satisfied if Hilary had won. In my mind, this whole election season has been an example of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. So I am not pointing fingers at one side or the other.

My personal grief has nothing to do with who won or lost. My grief is that many of my Christian friends had an opportunity to tangibly demonstrate their faith but chose to do the opposite. Does it really take whiskey rather than faith and prayer to get a Christian through election night? Has God abdicated His authority over heaven and earth to white supremacy? What are we teaching our children through these posts?

I grieve over my fellow Christians who are being divisive instead of seeking to be ministers of reconciliation. I grieve over arrogance and entitlement on both sides. Most of all, I grieve that we have publicly announced our loss of faith in the sovereignty of God.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

Nothing makes me more angry than injustice. I cry with the psalmist, “Why do the wicked prosper?” Recently, a situation that seemed completely unfair really got to me. Frustrated, I kept asking, “God, you could deal with this person and stop their cruelty to others. Why don’t you?”

Then I read Jesus’ parable in Matthew 13:24-30. A farmer has planted his field, but weeds start to grow. When his servants give him the news, the insightful farmer tells his servants, “An enemy has done this!” When the servants offer to pull them up, the farmer tells them to leave them until harvest. Then the weeds would be pulled first and tied in bundles to be burned.

When we see injustice, we cannot blame God. Cruelty, murder, cheating, bullying, even sickness, are the work of the enemy. All those things we know should not be in our “field” have been planted by him. But our Lord knows what He’s doing. A time will come when He makes all things well, and will harvest us into His Kingdom. Meanwhile, our anger should be directed toward the enemy, and we should seek to thwart him by drawing closer to our Lord.

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

I was at a loss for words in how to respond as he told me about his wife’s illness. As he finished, with tears in his eyes he whispered confidently, “The joy of the Lord is my strength. I’ll be okay.” I wiped away my own frustrated tears. What I felt in that moment wasn’t joy. Honestly, it felt like torture.

I understand that God doesn’t make mistakes. But there are times when a part of me wants to question His idea of goodness. It’s hard enough to smile when you’re in pain, but sometimes, it feels nearly impossible to have joy when your heart is breaking. Hardships make me question words such as ‘compassion’ and ‘mercy.’

I don’t know what to do with verses like, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).”

No. Compassion, lovingkindness and faithfulness are God’s consistent characteristics in an ever-changing, fallen and broken world. A broken world which often leaves me in pain. My God is big enough to handle my tears.

But then, within the tears, He asks me to remember that my joy rests in the God who never changes. It is in that reminder that I cling to joy.

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

As the torrential rains nearly blinded our visibility, I went into survival mode, asking questions of my fiancé I knew he didn’t need me to ask. “Do you know how to put the car in neutral if we need to coast down the hill? Do you have your seatbelt on?” I had never experienced a flash flood before. The angry downpour made me more than a little nervous as we trekked downtown to rescue stranded friends.

His attitude and patience said it all. For him this experience was just another late summer evening. He answered my questions gently, but was obviously a little nervous himself, ready to make split-second decisions as needed. Overall, the situation was never out of control, though it surprised us both. 

Our two different approaches to the storm reminded me of the two approaches Christians have to trials in our everyday lives. If we’re used to navigating life’s storms by relying on prayer, our circumstancial fears find relief because we know God is more in control than we are. If prayer is something we only experience once in a while – or even never before- our trials, disappointments and sorrows overtake our lives. 

So, how about you? How do you handle the storms of life?

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~ Written by Viki Rife

Don’t use a GPS to get to my house. You won’t make it there. Despite their amazing ability to track where you are, Global Positioning Systems will claim that you have arrived about a half mile before you actually reach our place.

Believe me, I’m not criticizing. I remember all too well the days of navigating LA freeways with a map in hand. I’d take my eyes off the road, finally find my place on the map, look up to check the road and lose my place on the map. It was just as dangerous as texting while driving.

So my recent trip to California felt like a breeze. My favorite feature of my GPS is the fact that it tells you ahead of time which lane to get into so you’re ready for the next exit. And I absolutely love its ability to redirect after I’ve taken a wrong turn.

It got me started thinking about how much I appreciate our spiritual GPS: God’s Purpose Secured. God has a purpose for me, and all I need to do is pay attention and follow directions. 

Even when He tells me to get into a lane I don’t want to be in, He is positioning me for whatever exits He wants me to take that will lead to arriving at His purpose for me. And He never gives up on me when I take a wrong turn. Praise God, He will fulfill His purposes for me. And He won’t stop until He brings me safely to my destination.

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~ Written by Cassie Harris

I shrieked when I saw it. The temperature was bearable! For the last week, Indiana had been seeing temperatures which would make even Alaskans cringe. I was getting tired of feeling as if I was having an asthma attack just because I stepped outside to get to my car. But finally. My phone boasted the truth:

It was warm enough to snow.

When I stepped out my front door, I was met with a wintery wind. Still, I celebrated the relative warmth. I then promptly turned around to get my hat and gloves. Sure, it was warm. It wasn’t that warm.

I can sometimes treat my spiritual growth the same way I treat the weather. I see some type of breakthrough in a sin cycle and I want to act as if that simple crack in the rock means the mountain of sin is no longer there. I celebrate the shift in action for a day, maybe a week, before I’m met with sin’s blustery reality.

Yes, because of Christ, I saw victory in my ungodly habits, but I’m still a sinner.

I have a choice. I can either stand in the “wintery winds” of my sinfulness and eventually die of hopelessness. Or, I can turn around and look at my Savior and allow Him to give me what I need to be prepared for what lies before me spiritually.

Just like the weather warming up, our sanctification is a process. Allow God to be a part of that process. He is not shocked when the winds of life take our breath away.

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