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Archive for the ‘Women’s ministry’ Category

~ Written by Viki Rife

I know when people drive by on our road they think we´re crazy. There are at least two reasons for that. First of all, every fall when the apples start to fall off our trees, we let them sit on the ground and rot. The mess is visible from the road. We might be in the yard raking leaves, but the apples lie undisturbed.

The second reason appears at this season of the year. That same area under the apple trees does not get mowed. We carefully skirt around it, leaving tall grass blowing in the spring breeze. 

We have a very good reason for breaking the cultural rules of our neighborhood. If we leave apples on the ground, and if we don´t mow that area, the conditions are ripe for the growth of Morel mushrooms. Retailing at about $50 a pound, this delicacy draws people into the woods in droves for the spring tradition of mushroom hunting.

In other words, what doesn’t make sense to others makes perfect sense to us. All we have to do is wait patiently until the right time, then step out our door and gather our highly-prized feast.

It makes me wonder how many times I judge people’s actions without recognizing the treasure growing in their “mess.” Maybe I should try harder to give them the benefit of the doubt! 

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~ Written by Rosa Muñoz

It all started with a wake-up call in July of 2015: extreme unexplained abdominal pain, gastritis, and fatty deposits in my liver. At that stage of life, I couldn’t find an answer to my physical problems. One day, desperate, I fell to my knees and cried out to God for wisdom.

I heard God speak to my heart, “Rosa Lydia, start walking and change your eating habits, and you will have better health.” I decided to set up short-term goals to become more active physically and to lose my extra weight. I began by walking three days a week for the first month; the second I added much more activity. As the months passed, I began to see changes in my health.

Two passages helped me keep going: Hebrews 12:1-2 and Romans 12:1-2. Although I am not physically running, I can say that God has allowed me to live and see good results in this new endeavor. During this difficult process, He has given me strength, wisdom, and energy to celebrate small victories in the loss of thirty pounds. I realized how much my physical health was affecting my emotional state, and that I needed to be a better steward of this body God has given me.

I have come to understand that being intentional, persistent, and totally dependent on God will give me the power to keep running toward the goal.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (ESV)

Romans 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c]but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

An incident when I was 15 years old triggered one of my deepest crises of faith. My family went to visit “Aunt Bertha,” a beloved missionary friend who had served in Argentina for many years. She was one of my earliest spiritual mentors, although she wouldn’t have called herself that. Her passion to reach people with the gospel inspired me. She truly treated me like her niece.

But now she was bedridden with arthritis, completely dependent on others to care for her. I could hardly stand to be in the room, my heart was so grieved. Why would God allow such a precious daughter of His to be sidelined way before her time? How can I trust a God who lets such things happen to His faithful ones?

I struggled with the question for decades. I couldn’t think about her without asking, “Why?” Then one day a missionary friend shared with me that as a young woman considering missionary service, she had been taken to visit Aunt Bertha. In their conversation, Aunt Bertha told her, “Don’t feel bad for me. These years of being laid up have given me a new understanding of my Savior. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!”

The “why” was too big for me to understand at the time when I first asked it. Now, with increased spiritual maturity, I can catch a glimpse of the gift God gave Aunt Bertha. When He gives us Himself, there’s nothing else we could possibly want!

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~ Written by Viki Rife

I couldn’t get out of bed, not even to walk eight feet into the bathroom. If my feet touched the floor, my plans would be ruined.

I had asked God to wake me up at 5 a.m. because I couldn’t use an alarm. I had already learned that if I made any sound at all, at least one of my three children would wake up. I was desperate for time with God before the craziness of my day started.

I reached for my Bible. Two minutes later, there was a knock on the door. It had to be our two-year-old — he wasn’t yet tall enough to turn the handle.

Sighing, I went to let him in. “Come snuggle with me,” I told him. “Mommy’s going to pray.” I opened the small yellow notebook that contained my prayer reminders. At the top of each page was a name, and below was a list of ways I was praying for that person. As I turned each page, I would tell my son who we were praying for and what details were on the list. Then we would pray together.

After that he started coming in every morning. Within a few days he was volunteering to pray for certain requests. When a prayer was answered, I would let him place the check mark beside it.

One day he said, “Can I hold the book?” With great reverence he took the little prayer book and placed it on his lap. He opened it and said, “This page is about Daddy.”

“How should we pray for Daddy?” I asked him. To my surprise, he knew the entire list. That day he went through the prayer notebook telling me what each page said.

Now, thirty years later, I can look back and see that those morning interruptions were God’s way of answering my prayers. I had asked God to help my children be prayer warriors. He showed me how to help them develop their prayer life through helping them experience it. It leaves me wondering how many other interruptions in my life are opportunities in disguise.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

“I want to be a scientist when I grow up,” the six-year-old told his daddy. “But I don’t know if I can do it.” His father assured him that he was smart enough and would probably be a good scientist. The child asked intensely, “Do you really think I could be a scientist?” His daddy reiterated his confidence in the possibility.

“Okay, then,” the child said with a satisfied nod, “I’m going to invent a potion that will make everybody love Jesus.”

When his daddy, my son, told me about the discussion, my first thought was, “I wish!” It does seem ideal. But God never intended for the Christian life to be that easy. He knows that what is won by struggle and hard effort means much more to us, and can go deeper into our soul, than any quick fix.

 As my grandson gets older, I am trusting he will discover there already is a potion to help people love Jesus. It’s called the Bible. The more we read it, the more we fall in love with the amazing, loving God revealed in its pages. Thank God, He has already provided a way for us to fall in love with Jesus.

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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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