Posts Tagged ‘Women of Grace USA’

~ Written by Viki Rife

Running late for an appointment, I approached the train tracks just as the crossing arms came down. With no cell phone available, all I could do was stare through the windshield. A lone snowflake landed in front of my eyes, lingering just long enough for me to enjoy the delicate design before blowing off into the wind.

A moment later another snowflake came down, very different in design. It was followed by another, and I sat entranced enjoying the art show.

Although God designs each snowflake to be unique, one snowflake doesn’t affect our lives very much. But as the minutes ticked by, those flakes added up. By the time the train had passed and I turned on my wipers, there was a nice buildup of snow—enough to make a small snowball.

What a beautiful picture of how God, in His wisdom, created each of us with a unique design! But only together can we provide to the world an illustration of what it means to be whiter than snow. We can be confident that with each of us being our unique selves, we can band together to accomplish whatever God has called His church to do.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

I got to the book of Ecclesiastes in my daily Bible reading during a time of grief. Life kind of felt pointless! Maybe I should skip this book and come back when I was less depressed.

I had just lost my father, a man who filled our family life with laughter, who truly enjoyed his God and people. I remembered a time he was intensely studying the book of Ecclesiastes and shared with me each time I visited how much it was encouraging him.

But I was curious about why he found so much value in a book I tend to avoid, so I dove in despite my hesitations. It ended up being a gift from God. In the midst of my pain, the words “joy,” “enjoy,” and “rejoice” jumped off the pages.

Yes, so much in life is futile. We try so hard to find meaning. But we look for it in all the wrong things. It takes us a long time to realize how worthless they are.

But a life invested in seeking God, in doing the work He has given us to do, is a whole different matter. We find joy when we accept that He is the One ordaining our days. We can enjoy the challenges we face because we know our efforts for God are not futile. We can “laugh at the days ahead” when we know who controls them.

In the midst of all the things in life that are futile, we can rejoice that our days are not in vain when we are walking with the Lord of the Universe.

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

At first glance, things weren’t going well. The once booming church’s numbers had dwindled drastically. The offering plate struggled to provide funds to keep the church’s doors open—though they still were. The elephant in the room was no longer being ignored.

Things had changed. Those changes had come at a great price. But redemption wasn’t lacking when you spoke to the people who remained in the pews. Bitterness which had lined the halls for decades had finally been brought to light and resolved. Unbiblical teaching had been eradicated from the pulpit. Relationship with each other and their Savior was now more important to the remaining congregants than their religious traditions.

They were seeing God more clearly than they had in many years.

Sometimes, change hurts. Every time, no matter how good the changes are, starting anew is scary. However, letting the fear of pain stand in the way of taking the plunge and starting new would be a tragedy. Starting over and being given a new opportunity doesn’t always make sense; nor does it always feel good. The joy of a fresh start is we have a chance to depend on the Jesus who promises to never leave us nor forsake us.

May your New Year be laced with the adventure of depending on our faithful God!

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~ Written by Viki Rife

Wonder. I’ve heard that word throughout my entire life in reference to Christmas. I remember as a child seeing commercials showing delighted kids receiving just what they wanted, or being surprised with a superbly decorated tree, and the announcer saying something like, “give them the wonder of Christmas.”

Wonder is a very good word to use in reference to Christmas. But our world has stopped far short of the real wonder of Christmas. And we can miss it, too, as we rush around to make sure everything is just as perfect as what we see on TV or Pinterest.

The true wonder of Christmas is that no matter what my circumstances, I am deeply and truly loved. It is a wonder that the God of the Universe would look at me and say, “I want much more for you than what you deserve.” It is a wonder that God is so wise that He sent His Son as a baby, someone who had to endure everything we do from the start.

Just as we fit trimming our tree and shopping for presents into our schedule, let’s carve some time this season to sit and ponder the wonder of “Christ with us.” And let’s put as much thought and energy into sharing that wonder with the children in our lives as we do in giving them the world’s image of the wonder of Christmas.

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

In the last two years, my sight has slowly returned. A brain surgery left the peripheral vision in my right eye almost 75 percent blind. However, with each eye appointment, test results show more and more improvement in my blind eye.
At my last appointment, my doctor shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly as he showed me the test results. “Brain surgeries are a testy thing. We’re told to wait ten years before giving a final diagnosis so your brain can heal. I guess we just needed to wait a little while longer for you. Your blind spot is completely normal, Ma’am.”
I should have been happier about the news. So many things would be easier with both my eyes fully functioning. But if my eyes were testing “normal,” why was I still walking around as if I was working with an enormous blind spot? When I sat back from the test, I still couldn’t see anything in my peripheral vision.
When I explained my confusion to the doctor, I could tell he was fighting back laughter. “You’re not blind anymore, Ma’am. But now you have to tell your eyes that. They’ve gotten so used to being blind, they don’t know how to work normally. It’ll take time. But it’s there, I promise. Let your brain believe in what it’s seeing.”
Sometimes I think I do the same thing with trusting Jesus with my redemption. My spirit knows it is free from sin, but sometimes my spirit can’t see itself as free because it lived in captivity for so long. Just like with my optometrist, my spirit has to be reminded of the obvious.
I’m not blind anymore.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

It sounded like a really good idea. My husband was working late in Valparaiso, an hour and a half west of us. Knowing he would get home late and be too tired to remember, he decided to set his phone alarm for the next morning before he left the office.

Guess what? The alarm did not go off at the time he needed it to. Even though the alarm was clearly set for 7 a.m., it went off at 8 a.m. our time, which was 7 in Valparaiso.

It made me wonder how many of God’s wake-up calls I miss because I set my goals in “earth time” instead of my home time, heaven. Do I really live in God’s zone, or in this world’s? I have to remember constantly which zone I belong in.

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~ Written by Viki Rife

As I opened my car door, I heard an ear-piercing scream. Looking up, I saw a mother coming toward me pushing a grocery cart loaded with bags with one hand while trying to carry a struggling, screeching child. As the mom passed, she looked at me apologetically and said, “I won’t give her any more candy.” The child screeched, “She’s mean!”

As mothers, we know what that’s like. Some of us have spent nights awake with a sick child who had found a stash of sweets and pigged out. We know things about the human body that our child cannot comprehend. There are times we choose to say “no” to our child.

Why do moms put themselves through the battle? It would be so much easier to let a child have whatever would keep her from making a fuss. It almost seems counterintuitive these days that the moms who love their children say “no,” but the ones who don’t care say “yes.”

“Is God good?” is a question people have to resolve in order to trust Him. In His wisdom and love, he sometimes has to deny us what we want most. He does it because he is good enough to care about us even when we kick and scream against him. His goodness is evidenced through his “no” as well as his “yes.”

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~ Written by Cassie Rayl

I’ve experienced seasons which left me seemingly drowning in hopelessness. I knew my Savior was Jesus Christ. I knew my eternity was secure in Him. I knew the Truth of the Gospel. But despite that knowledge, I felt weighed down, pointless and distraught. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Those were not fun times. They aren’t necessarily seasons I enjoy remembering. However, I still find myself wandering back to those memories and pondering what I learned despite my less-than-desirable emotions and circumstances.

The reality was, my hopeless, and seemingly pointless, season taught me to fall to my knees. The anguish in my heart forced me to not only darken the door of the Throne Room, but to run and fall into the arms of my Heavenly Father. In those seasons of hopelessness, I needed my Creator-Savior in a way I rarely had before.

It’s because of such intimate moments with God that I’ve learned to treasure those hurtful and heartbreaking seasons. I may have lost almost everything I held dear, but I gained the sweetest intimacy of all. I gained a deeper understanding of the faithfulness of Christ. 

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By Sharon MacMillan

“I get it!” is a response every teacher wants to see on the faces of their students. Teaching the Bible is no different; in fact, Bible teachers cannot take their role lightly, as James warns, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 NIV, 2011).

When is the last time you took a second look at your teaching skills when it comes to women’s Bible study? Have you fallen into the trap of business as usual? Do you grieve when the women don’t come prepared because they weren’t able to work on their study with the Lord at home?

This is indeed a heartbreak for the teacher who has expectations for her students to “grow in grace in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.”

Could there be more we teachers can do to inspire, motivate and teach our students to make the most of their Bible study?

1. Do you pray for your students weekly? They have spiritual battles that can be conquered by the use of the Sword of the Spirit. Realize that you may be a tool of the Holy Spirit to connect the dots for the students between what they are going through and what they are learning in their study.

2. Do you value the time the women give to you? It is a very precious gift that the women entrust to us and it needs to be valued.

3. Have you prepared well? Sadly, it may be that the teacher has not fully prepared her presentation so that the women feel the importance of what they are doing as bible students. The fire we acquire from thorough preparation will ignite in them as we meet around the Word.

4. Have you considered enriching the lessons of a pre-written book? Study the content well before you teach. The women have probably chosen the material because they are interested in the subject. But our task as teachers is to connect their interest with their need to grow.

5. Can you identify the learning styles of your students? This is important as you give them a workbook based on a Bible topic or even a book of the Bible.
a. Who learns best by listening to a lecture? Some can take in information and retain it best as it goes through their ear gate.
b. Do you have students who track best by seeing what you are teaching? This is my husband’s style where he can read and comprehend anything
(Imagine my husband out in a boat with a library book, learning how to sail! Well, it happened! And we only hit bottom once! )
c. Maybe you have a group of women who love to learn by engaging their hands in activities. These are the ones who take notes or love to work on some kind of project that is associated with the lesson.

It is possible that there could be a combination of two or more styles. But the point is we don’t all engage best the same way. Now consider what you are doing by giving women a book of fill-ins. Who would gravitate to that style the best?

6. Do you believe God for your students? He wants them to grow in the Word and in their spiritual development overall. Your time together around the Word can be a catalyst for helping them in their prayer lives, encouraging them to be on mission as they share what they have learned with others. You may be equipping mentors to model their faith to others. You may be training the next Bible study leader! You are engaged in discipleship with the women.

7. Finally, do you enjoy your women? Love your women. Let them see that you take this time with them very seriously. Let them catch a glimpse of your heart’s desire for them to become confident in their relationship with the Lord. They will love that you want them to grasp the precious life-changing truths so that their walk with the Lord will become vibrant and alive! Be patient with those that aren’t quite ready to move on as quickly as you would like. We are all a work in progress.

Sharon MacMillan is a pastor’s wife and co-leads women’s Bible studies in her church. She also serves as Spiritual Life leader on the Women of Grace USA Board of Directors.

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This is the last of a three-part series responding to a concern that by taking missions out of our name, missions will disappear from who we are. This series was co-written by Viki Rife and Janet Minnix.

Recently, Grace Brethren International Missions decided it could better operate around the world by removing the word missions from its name. However, removing the word did not change the ministry’s purpose. Rather, Encompass World Partners now has freer access to places where missions would be suspect at best, and illegal at worst. In much the same way, Women’s Missionary Council felt it was strategic to change our name to give us greater access to the woman who needs more than a missionary focus – who needs to be mentored in biblical womanhood and grounded in the sure foundation of God’s Word. However, a name change did not change our purpose. A woman who internalizes God’s truth will grow in her love for Jesus and develop a heart that listens to God, hears His calling and willingly engages in His mission in the place He chooses for her, using the talents and abilities with which He has gifted her.

We believe that the best way we can help mission efforts to thrive is to equip and inspire women with God’s call for all His people to be on mission. If we invest in helping women set aside the “fluff” that distracts them from being fully committed to God, we are preparing them to hear His calling. If we equip them with solid Bible knowledge and an understanding of how to listen to Him and serve Him, they will be ready to go wherever He sends them. And a natural outcome of their increased commitment to Him will be a desire to pray for lost people and for those who are reaching them.

We believe that if we help women grow and change internally, the results will be much more effective than just giving them a list to pray through. Their prayers and investment will then be based on a heart that understands the challenges missionaries face, because they themselves will be passionately involved in reaching the lost in their own sphere of influence. We believe that strengthening women in their walk with Christ is the best way to assure that there will be future workers for the harvest.

So, why does Women of Grace USA exist? To equip women with a strong understanding of God’s truth, to encourage them in the disciplines of prayer and study of God’s Word, and to challenge them to respond to God’s call in their lives. Is it women’s ministry? Yes, because it is ministry to and for women. Will missions disappear? No, because Women of Grace USA is preparing women to be missionaries where they are, whether next door or around the world.

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