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Archive for the ‘Priorities’ Category

~Written by Tabby McMonagle

“For God’s sake, come undone,” said no one ever. But what if it is exactly what we need to do in order to see God? Personally, I have been trying to hold it together for years now. Not until this past year, when I have come completely undone, have I been able to surrender the control I thought I had.

Growing up I felt like the message I heard was, “Keep it together. Be strong. You’ll figure it out. Keep trying.” All good ideas, but none of them encouraged me to rely on anyone but myself. If I could will it, I could do it.

What a different reality I face today than what I was prepared for! Things don’t always go my way. My good deeds and hard work don’t always get me what I want.

The biggest disappointment was no matter how much faith I could muster, the answers to my prayers were still in God’s hands. They depended on His approval not my persuasion or the faith I brought. In fact, I learned my faith is a gift from God; nothing I do can get me more of it.

How I want to grasp at control. I want to know what happens next. The unknown of my circumstances has me at my wits’ end. My mind, my body; all of it is undone. I told a friend I could probably walk on water, I feel so weak. The Bible says when we are weak He is strong. In the very depths of my heart, the despair I have in understanding I have no control over anything in my life, or in anyone else’s, has me to the very end of myself. I have to put God as my only hope.

When we take life, and all it has to offer, and break it down, the only thing that matters is saving souls for Christ. It has nothing to do with our moment in history but it has everything to do with God’s plans. It is then we realize that we need to come undone. So, for God’s sake, come undone. We need a new perspective. We need God’s perspective.

I am not there yet. I am still sifting through the ashes of what is left of my control issues. I don’t want to look for anything to salvage; I want only to move forward with God’s help. I want to rely on Him; not what I have to offer but what He can do with me as I am. I don’t want to hear, “For God’s sake, keep it together.” For God’s sake, I pray I come undone.

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

The century-old upright piano was gorgeous to look at. As I sauntered through the privately-owned war museum, I was struck by the stories the instrument obviously told in its worn keys, beat up wood, and fragile seat. I wondered how many war widows had sat at the piano to play their loved one’s favorite tune when their hearts really only wanted peace to show up again.

As my imagination drew me closer to the ivory keys, I asked if I could play the piano. I expected the chords to be out of tune and painful to hear, but I thought I’d hear something. Instead, I heard nothing as I pressed each key. Some of the ivory keys were stuck in place. Others didn’t even feel like they were attached to the strings within the instrument.

It quickly became quite obvious the piano was beautiful to look at, but nothing more. Then my imaginative thoughts took a different turn as I mourned the fact that such an elegant piano could be dead on the inside. What had happened to make it lose its inner beauty?

I never want to be like that piano—curiously captivating and beautiful on the outside, but useless and silent with the praises of God in my heart. In a hundred years, I pray my heart’s song to God can still be used for His purposes and glory.

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~Written by Viki Rife

I used to be frustrated by what I thought of as “The Great Divide.” It seemed to me growing up that Christians were divided into two categories: those who were “in ministry,” and those who were “not in ministry.” And the ones “in ministry” were viewed as being at a much higher level spiritually than those “not in ministry.”

Sometimes it was baffling. Why were those “not in ministry” sometimes much nicer to others than those “in ministry”? Why did I know so many people “in ministry” who were dissatisfied with their lives?

Lately, I’ve begun to see a whole new perspective on what it means to be in ministry. “In ministry” is a matter of how we view life. I can teach a class and be very proud of the praise I get, but if my purpose isn’t to see God get the glory, it isn’t really ministry. I can help someone out, but if I complain and feel taken advantage of, it’s not ministry.

On the other hand, when I spend time encouraging someone who needs to talk, I’m “in ministry.” When I transport someone who needs a ride, I’m “in ministry,” if I’m doing it as unto the Lord. When I smile and affirm the harried customer service representative at the airport when flights are being cancelled and tempers are high, I’m “in ministry.”

By my new definition, whenever I see the people around me through the eyes of Jesus and act accordingly, I’m “in ministry.” Let’s stop accepting labels that describe titles and occupations. It’s our attitude that determines whether or not we belong to the “in ministry” camp.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

From time to time in my life I’ve encountered individuals or groups that believe that the Bible’s call for a woman to submit to her husband means she must do everything he says. They claim that obedience is so important that disobeying is worse than participating in any sin he might ask of her.

Let’s look at the experiences of two women. We’ll call the first one Saphie. Her husband decided to deceive someone to make himself look good. She chose to support her husband’s behavior to the point of affirming that his lie was the truth.

We’ll call the other Abbie. Her husband cruelly refused to fulfill his obligation to someone he viewed as an underling. Abbie secretly took a gift to the person to fulfill the obligation. In doing so she sought to save the life of her foolish, unkind husband, making the way for God to deal with him.

The story of Saphie, Sapphira, is told in Acts 5:1-10. She was held accountable for her lie and died at Peter’s feet. We find Abigail’s story in 1 Samuel 25. David, the future king of Israel, was spared from doing something foolish by this woman’s wisdom and insight. As I read their stories, I’m reminded that God wants His daughters to be faithful to Him. We should treat our husbands with love and respect, but we should always remember that our first allegiance is to God.

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

“Can I pray for you two?” He asked while his hands, shaking because of Parkinson’s, grabbed both of us without waiting for an answer. As we do every time we go see my husband’s grandpa, we gladly agreed. Grandpa’s eyes filled with tears as he turned scripture into prayer, and prayer into a blessing over our lives.

He tagged onto the end of his prayer, “Jesus, they’re doing great things, um, this man and his wife. Just bless them. I love them so much. Amen.”

Then it was my turn to tear up. Parkinson’s and age have slowly been taking independence away from this man who has adopted me as his own because I married his grandson. His memory has slowly clouded out names and other important information. In so many ways, the frustration alone could have filled him with bitterness and anger.

But it doesn’t. Instead, those things make him press even more deeply into love and faith. It doesn’t matter that he can’t remember our roles in ministry. It doesn’t matter that he can’t remember our names. In that moment, he wanted Jesus in our midst, and nothing was going to stop him from being the tool Jesus used to bless our lives.

Grandpa didn’t have to know everything, he just had to know the Master.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

She walked into the office and proudly showed us her hands. Her nails, much longer than they had been the day before, were decorated with the most amazing designs and colors. As everyone stopped to admire the masterpiece, she highlighted her shopping savvy, “I got this done for only $80.”

Fortunately, no one saw how my mouth was hanging open. Two days earlier I had invited her, one of the few Christians among my co-workers, to a women’s conference. The cost was $65. Her immediate response was, “Oh, I could never afford that! The kids need school clothes.”

It’s not my place to judge, but I caught myself wondering, “What benefits her family more, her attendance at a Christian conference or her long, fancy nails?” I could almost feel Jesus sigh.

Sometimes I grieve over our misplaced priorities. I know I’m not immune to the same mentality. My investment in my spiritual growth is dependent on whether I have any energy, time or money left over after I’ve cared for my own needs and desires and met the expectations of everyone around me. I may not get a manicure, but there are thousands of things in this world that compete with my love for Christ.

It’s a pretty clear principle that we invest in whatever matters most to us. And what we invest most in is the part of our lives that will grow most. How we spend our resources is a very real indicator of where we’re headed. Jesus said it best, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34)

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