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Archive for the ‘Truths’ Category

~ Written by Cassie Rayl

I can’t imagine what was going through Aaron and Hur’s minds. They were charged with the task of holding up Moses’ arms to help Israel win the war. The significance always strikes me as odd, but I can’t imagine what was going through Aaron and Hur’s minds.

Their countrymen and fellow desert sojourners were at the bottom of the hill fighting with all their might. But there Aaron and Hur are, holding their aging leader’s arms up. If either of those godly men were even a fraction like me, I’m sure there was a time or two during the battle where their hearts groaned, “Seriously? Why can’t I be down there fighting? It’s my fight, too, ya know!”

But their seemingly small task held astronomical importance to their nation’s survival. If Moses’ arms fell, Israelites were slaughtered right before their eyes. If Moses’ arms stayed lifted, victory was in the hands of the Israelites and God received the glory.

It’s easy to compare our tasks with those of others. For the stay-at-home mom, it might be difficult to see her task as being equally as important as that of the single woman serving in Uganda. But we have no idea what impact our tasks – whether publicized or not – have on the eternal story our God is weaving.

There are days where God asks us to hold up arms rather than carry swords. Even when we can’t see the importance, our obedience impacts eternity.  

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~ Written by Sharon MacMillan 

If there were ducks to be placed in a row, they would be fluttering in all directions. My husband and I feel like we are in a Stage Nine hurricane. Circumstances around us are blowing out of control. We’re trying to finish study projects. Fix up our home to sell. Move to Texas in May so I can get to Japan by June to help my son’s family welcome their twins. I catch my frenetic self over-thinking how to solve things, only to be set back to where I started. I feel like I’m lying face down in the mud, like a storm-blown fence, waiting for someone to help me up so I can move on to the next set of circumstances.

Then I remember to whom I belong. I am the daughter of the Almighty God, the Master Builder, the Perfect Manager of everything. I go into His presence a bit shy for being so slow to turn my mess over to Him. But I don’t find condemnation or see a finger pointing. I see arms that welcome me in. His presence is the place of peace, safety, security, and help. What was I thinking, trying to manage life without Him?

Then I realize He’s arranged my hurricane so I would come to Him. He wants to teach me something from his treasure box of riches. His Word reads, “I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel, my heart instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord before me because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”

My heart feels the warmth of His love. I read on. “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy. At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

God is delighted and honored as I answer those who say, “How did you get through all those circumstances?” I tell them, “It was the Perfect Manager who helped us. He’s known for doing all things well.” 

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~ Written by Cassie Harris 

“You give people the ability to offend you. You don’t have to do that.” 

My friend’s words stuck with me throughout my career working in the homeless community. My culture told me I had a right to be offended by a lot of lifestyles, addictions, and belief systems I saw. Even more so, it seemed as if my culture was telling me that when I became offended, no one would blame me if I stopped reaching out to my offender again. 

There’s a problem with that approach, though. Walking away (and never returning) because I was offended by something said or done short-changed my ability to show Christ’s love to a hurting world. So, I had to learn how to cling to my identity in Christ in such a way that when I came up against a disagreement, I could walk away unscathed.  

In today’s day and age, we as Christians need to stop only hanging with the acceptable crowds, the less offensive crowds. With how marginalized Christianity is becoming, if we hide in our comfort zones, our spheres of influence will only become smaller and less powerful. 

Look at Jesus. He stuck to His convictions while surrounded by people who did terrifyingly offensive things. Not once did He not love those He disagreed with. What if we did the same thing? 

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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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~ Written by Melissa Kreis 

I sat comfortably in the shade under a large green maple tree, protected from the sun’s hot rays. Most of the trees surrounding me looked healthy and vibrant. One tree, however, looked like most trees do in December: not a single leaf hung from its bare branches. Obviously, something was very wrong with that tree. I couldn’t help but play the childhood game, “Which one doesn’t belong?” You know, the game where you are given three pictures of a tree. Two are large maple trees with a multitude of green leaves. The third is a smaller maple tree without any leaves, so you circle the last tree.

My mind immediately remembered a passage in Scripture that compares people to trees:

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:3).

I thought, “I want to become like the sturdy tree in that verse. How do I do that?” I only had to look at the preceding verses to find my answer:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).

The last part of this verse grabbed my attention: “…and on his law he meditates day and night.” I envision myself, like the roots of this tree, growing deeper day by day, night by night into the fertile soil of God’s Word.

We cannot always choose where we are planted, but we can choose whether or not we soak up God’s Word. Let’s grow deep roots that will withstand dry days as well as torrential downpours of hardship. Let’s take time every day to nourish ourselves in God’s Word!

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~ Written by Viki Rife

Some days just don’t go as planned. Like the morning I woke up mentally sorting out all that had to be done to prepare for the Margins Conference. The temptation to get busy and just skip my Bible reading was great, especially since I’d done some pretty monotonous reading the past several days in the Book of Numbers.

I’m so glad I resisted! God gave me exactly what I would need for that day. “Whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled, there the people of Israel camped” (Numbers 9:17). It goes on to say that whether the cloud stayed for a month, or just overnight, the people moved when, and only when, the cloud moved.

Soon after that, I got a call that my father was being taken to the emergency room. The week that followed was full of return trips to the emergency room, doctor’s office, radiology, and finally surgery. As I was catching my breath the day after the surgery, I got another call and he was taken to a hospital an hour away with a different problem. As primary caregiver for my parents, I found myself torn between him and my mother, who was understandably distressed at not being able to spend the long hours at the hospital by his side.

But as I spent my time in waiting rooms, exam rooms, and long drives back and forth, I kept reminding myself: “This is where the cloud has led me.” I envisioned myself as an Israelite mom, settling her brood into the tent, not knowing whether the next morning she would be catching up on laundry or pulling up stakes again. Can you imagine living like that for forty years? Yet that is the reality God called His people to experience.

The more I thought about it, the more real the concept of moving with the Spirit of God became to me. My moments are all in His hands. May I never forget the significance of this vivid imagery of God’s faithful leading.

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~ Written by Melissa Kreis

Honey Nut Cheerios. Banned from breakfast on school days during my childhood because of its sugary content, Honey Nut Cheerios was a favorite tasty treat saved for weekends. During college and beyond, however, I began to break this sacred rule of no sugary cereals on a school day.

That is, until one fateful morning…

I poured a bowl of my favorite cereal and grabbed the milk. But just before pouring, I noticed movement through the tiny delectable O’s: an ant. I used my spoon to push around a few  Cheerios and discovered to my utter dismay that my bowl was, quite literally, crawling with ants!  I fished through the bowl, bent on a mission to rescue as many Cheerios as possible. One at a time I pulled out each sweet morsel, and then destroyed the ants with my trusty ant spray…

No! Of course I didn’t do that with my ruined breakfast!! Disgusted that I almost ate more protein than I had bargained for, I tossed my spoiled breakfast outside on the compost pile. After that I scrounged around for something else to fill my grumbling tummy.

But isn’t that what we do with our sin sometimes? For a little while, sin tastes sweet like my precious Honey Nut Cheerios. But then we start to see the little ants, the consequences of our sin. We see how sin damages ourselves or others or our relationship with God. However, instead of  throwing out our sin, we sometimes try to salvage it. We make excuses.

“How can something this fun really be harmful? This isn’t really that bad. Nobody will find out.”

When we are tempted to sin, let’s remember the image of a bowl of cereal crawling with ants. Let’s throw our sin far away, and then let’s carry out the most important part: Return to the One who can fill our hungry tummies with satisfying, living bread:

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’” (John 15:35).

Our Lord does not call us to turn from our sin because he wants to deprive us of some sweet forbidden fruit; he beckons us to partake of a rich, sustaining feast. Let us seek the One who alone who can satisfy, so we are tempted no longer by a sweet but unwholesome breakfast.

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