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~ Written by Janet Minnix

My insecurities were having a heyday. They were telling me I didn’t measure up, that I wasn’t spiritual enough, because I wasn’t like her. Resentment began to build.

I struggled to internalize the truth that I was God’s unique creation. I printed Ephesians 1:3-12 from the Living Bible and placed it with my devotional notebook, chewing over phrases like “we who stand before him covered with his love” and “because of what Christ has done, we have become gifts to God that he delights in.” Precious, life-giving truths, but I seemed to sink deeper into a pit. I was in bondage to the sin of comparison.

Years ago, I heard Chuck Swindoll preach on Galatians 6:4: “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (emphasis added). I’ve never forgotten the title of his message, Comparisons are Odious. Those words echoed through my mind as I struggled to stop comparing.

I have read that when dealing with feelings of resentment toward someone, you should pray for that person. I tried that. But I seemed to run out of words.

Then one day, as I was talking to God about my feelings and faulty perceptions, the Holy Spirit brought to mind a song I had sung in college choir. The words are from the Priestly Blessing in Numbers 6: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

It seemed God was telling me to pray that blessing for her. Here were words when I had no words; a biblical prayer for her well-being when I felt stymied. I began to pray those words, or sometimes sing them mentally, when thought of her and resentment started to build. Gradually it became a habit to pray the blessing when she came to mind. And as I pray for her blessing and peace, I’m finding that the struggle with comparison is melting away. God is giving me peace as well.

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

Rarely has God woken me up in the middle of the night to sit at His feet in prayer. Typically, when I’m awakened past the midnight hour, my prayer is a simple, “Jesus, please, put me back asleep.” But the other night, my eyes weren’t tired, my heart kept racing, and I heard the Spirit whisper, “Get up, Child. We need to talk.”

I’ll be honest, I laid in bed counting ceiling tiles for a few minutes. My alarm would officially wake me up in five hours; God could wait till then, right? But before I knew it, I was on the couch with my prayer journal in hand. The second I wrote the words, “Hi, Abba Daddy,” the tears flowed with heart-wrenching intensity.

In the previous 48 hours, my hopes and anticipations for the future had been crushed. No one knew about it other than my husband, and life had continued on at a breakneck speed. The only healing I’d allowed my heart was a quick, “Thanks Jesus; you’re sovereign. We’re trusting you.” I hadn’t taken the time to realize how broken my spirit was, or to acknowledge the self-resenting lies my disappointments had created.

I learned that night what it meant to be honest before the Lord. I had to let myself weep till there were no more tears. I had to actively acknowledge the lies before the Spirit could refresh my heart with truth. I had to sit in silence before God could administer healing I didn’t realize I needed. I had to be broken before I was ready to receive truth which brought me closer to the heart of my Heavenly Father.

There are moments God requires us to go through more pain before He brings healing. It doesn’t make sense at first. But the reality is, God is not afraid of our tears. He knows exactly when all we need is to be held and reminded that we’re loved.

~ Written by Cassie Rayl

“Fine. I’ll do it. Please don’t make me do it forever, though.” That was the final prayer of surrender I uttered as I agreed to pick up a leadership role I’d always dreaded picking up. I knew the catch, though. Telling God I’d go willingly—or at least not kicking or screaming—meant He’d take me up on it!

I found myself sounding like King David in the Psalms, just maybe not so eloquent. “How long, oh Lord? Six months? A year? You wouldn’t make me lead like this for longer than a year, would you? Oh. You would. Well, can I ask you not to? Please hear the despair in my voice and turn to someone else!”

I did my responsibilities to the best of my ability and never a second more than the time constraint first agreed upon. My surrender to God’s plan wasn’t exactly genuine. Every morning as I switched from “participant” to “leader,” I could hear my heart whine like a toddler, “Are we done yet?”

One day, I heard the Spirit whisper, “Stop looking at your watch and start looking for Me. Love the people I’ve called you to serve as I love them. Rather than praying about your inconvenience and discomfort, pray their hearts find Me.”

Sometimes, I think we get caught up in being disappointed that God has called us to something against our will. While we’re distracted by God’s differing opinion, we miss out on so many people’s lives we can touch, hearts we can bless, and even lessons we can learn.

~ Written by Cassie Rayl

“I love watching you walk by my house every day. You don’t know me, but thanks for being you. You’re a breath of fresh air. Something is different about you.” The complete stranger who spoke those words had caught me mid-bite and mid-giggle at a local restaurant recently. I wanted to laugh harder at the awkwardness of his statement. But the look of confusion in his eyes made me choke on a possibly humorous response.

I stuttered out a shocked, “It’s Jesus, Sir. It’s all and only Jesus.” He smiled sadly, and responded, “Yeah, okay. Well anyway, just wanted you to know. Have a nice day.”

Jesus-induced joy has always been a piece of what makes His followers stand out from the crowd. But in our current culture, when violence, fear, and cynicism have become a main event, joy is so rare it’s confusing to those who don’t know our Savior. Some days, choosing joy feels like a sacrifice of praise. I’ve come to the realization, though, that if I don’t choose joy, I’m missing out on testifying about Christ.

If we truly live in the truth that our Savior is alive, how can we not choose joy despite our circumstances? It’s what makes us different, and obviously, the world around us is watching.

~ Written by Viki Rife

The best example of discipleship I’ve ever seen came from a three-year-old. At least, the best example of a discipleship mentality.

I was all set to talk online with my granddaughter Eva. When she came on camera, she had her two favorite dolls tucked under her arms, as usual. When I asked her what she had been doing that day, she said, “Well, I have kids, don’t you know.” Her dolls occupy her mind no matter what else is happening.

Just the other day I asked her in our online chat what she’d been doing, and she answered, “Teaching my kids to ice skate.” Then she told me how she could slide on their new wood floor in her socks, and proudly explained that she had socks that “look just like ice skates.” But of course, she couldn’t just experience it by herself. She was conscientiously teaching her “kids” to skate also.

We might laugh, but I wish I had the same commitment to discipling others. Am I aware of opportunities to help them learn what I’m learning? Do I care about living human beings as much as a child cares about her dolls?

Eva is always aware that she is responsible for the care of her dolls. May we have that kind of enthusiasm for those God gives us the opportunity to disciple.

~ Written by Viki Rife

“This shouldn’t be happening to me!” How many times does that thought, in some version, go through our heads? I shouldn’t be stuck with a broken-down car in heavy traffic. I shouldn’t get yelled at unfairly by my boss or parent. I shouldn’t always be the one who has to make sacrifices in a relationship.

This “victim” mentality is a part of our human thinking, but it isn’t how Christ has called us to live. I’m deeply humbled by the story of Hans Landis, a Swiss martyr who was executed for his faith. His wife and grown children were also imprisoned, and after his death were threatened with confiscation of their property if they didn’t renounce their faith within two weeks. They refused, losing everything.

The children later rebuilt their lives, only to have their property confiscated again. The entire family was targeted for persecution. Eventually, the grandchildren of Hans were taken away from their parents to be raised by other people.

Through it all, each member of the family had a choice to make. Even with all they went through, they did not see themselves as victims—they considered themselves victors when they stood firm in their faith.

I’m trying to develop the mindset of my Landis ancestors. God did not create me to think like a victim in my circumstances. He wants me to remember that in Him I’m a victor.

So goodbye, victim mentality. I choose to focus on my victorious standing through Jesus.

~ Written by Cassie Rayl

My friend made it clear she felt as if I was her only way out. As she explained her problem, my heart ached as she told me I was her only friend, and the only one who could rescue her from her situation. It would have been so easy for me to drop everything and go rescue her. To be honest, it would’ve stroked my ego as a faithful friend in the best of ways.

Being *Katie’s savior in such a moment seemed like an excellent idea for both of us. Katie would get what she wanted — a quick fix to her problem — and I would have felt needed and indispensable to God’s grander plan.

Katie had just told me she hated God, and because of that, she didn’t think her family would want to help her get through her distress. In her panic, she wanted me to rescue her in secret, without the help of her family, and without speaking Biblical truth.

As I weighed my options of how to help Katie, I firmly heard the Spirit whisper to my heart, “Don’t rescue her. Comfort her, but do not stand in the way of her need of Me.”

I didn’t give my friend what she wanted that day. She was insistent I didn’t understand her need. But I knew in that moment I was guarding her from vulnerability with her Savior. Though Katie didn’t understand at the time, I knew her pain would lead her back to Jesus.

Letting go of my savior complex, and allowing God to work without my help, allowed Katie to find her real Savior.

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