Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pondering God's Promises, Part I

Hey Friend,

I don't know about you, but I have made promises that I haven't kept.  I may have had really good intentions, but for some reason I failed on the follow through.  I tried so hard with my children not to do that - to let my "Yes" be yes and my "No" be no.  I didn't want to be a promise breaker, but the simple fact is that at times I failed.

In the Bible it says that the Lord our God is One.  I am so thankful that God IS One...by that I mean that He is consistent, steady, never contradicting Himself, or changing His character. 

I am not that way.  I am duplicitous in nature - I can be deceptive in my behavior. I can be two fold our double.  One day I can be cheerful and generous.  The next day I might be moody and stingy.  One day I might make good on my promises and the next day I may fail.  Why?  Because I am made in God's image, but I am fallen and sinful. This double nature makes us/me different from God. 

There is nothing fallen or sinful about God, therefore He can be trusted to make good on His promises.

In my wanting to spend more time with God and be in His presence, I decided to delve a little deeper into some of my favorite and cherished promises from God in the Bible.  I invite you to slowly read God's promises.  Let them sink deep into your heart and I will share what nuggets of truth He revealed to me in my digging.  Concordance and Commentaries in hand, and prayers to the Holy Spirit for guidance, here's what I found:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his mercies  never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

I am so thankful that every day is a new day.  Every day the slate is wiped clean.  God withholds His wrath, and instead pours out mercy with each sunrise.  Note that it says "mercies" which is plural.  God is faithful to ALL His covenant promises. 

Mercies = compassions, kindnesses, promises, great love

His faithfulness is beyond measure.  For you math majors - beyond infinity lol.

Because God IS love, all His actions are in keeping with His loving nature.  That's cause for great praise!

"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  (Matthew 6: 31-33)

The pagan model of prayer was more of a "business partnership" with their gods.  Kind of like a contract:  If you do this then I'll do that.  Not so with the One true God.  He already knows our hearts, our thoughts, and what we need.  God is a Father who delights in meeting the needs of His people. He wants to meet your needs!

God wants a relationship of intimacy (Seek Him first), not a business partnership.  God desires that we seek Him first and He delights in taking care of the rest of our needs. Keep our focus stayed on him and seek being in right relationship with Him and He'll take care of the details.  We were made for intimacy with God.  He doesn't need our filthy rags of righteousness, He WANTS our hearts.  He wants your heart!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
(Jeremiah 29:11)

This is a favorite verse that is written in graduation cards.  I believe we are somehow mistaken when we think that God's plans to "prosper" us equate to material riches or everything working out wonderfully in this life. 

In this particular verse the word "prosper" is the Hebrew word "salom" or peace. 

salom =peace, well being, safety, feelings of satisfaction

God has plans to prosper us - to give us peace and a sense of well being and satisfaction.

Also, the Hebrew word for "future" is "ah rit" which means final destiny, at the end, on the other side (not in this lifetime).  We/I get upset with God when things don't work out well in this lifetime.  Not that God doesn't give us good things in this lifetime...He certainly does.  But, our ultimate peace, satisfaction, and well being will be when we reach the other side and are with Him in Heaven. 

I know I get caught up in always relating scripture to this lifetime.  God, however, has an eternal timeline that we would do well to stay focused on.  I can just hear God saying, "Hold on...the best is yet to come and it will all be worth the wait and the cost!" He is building a mansion in Heaven just for you!

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11: 28-29)

As Jesus often does, I believe He is speaking on two different levels here.  The poor Jewish follower knew what it was like to be weary (kopiao) or physically tired from relentless hard labor of lifting burdens (or heavy loads).  This was often done by using a yoke. Like someone offering a weary laborer a cup of water - Jesus speaks of offering refreshment to this laborer. 

We may not be lifting heavy loads, literally, but we need rest and refreshment when we are tired from life's heavy burdens (emotional and mental as well as  physical).  Jesus is the only one who can give us the refreshment that we so desperately need. He's holding out the cup of water to you!

On another level, the Jewish people spoke of carrying the "yoke of God's law" (The Commandments).  Obeying the law could be hard work - carrying a heavy load with a yoke.  Jesus, here, is offering His yoke - the yoke of the New Covenant.  He tells the people that His yoke, unlike the old yoke, is easy and the load is light. 

We will find refreshment under the New Covenant of grace by Jesus' sacrificial offering of atonement for our sins. 

We are no longer under the load of the law...our load has been made much lighter by what Christ accomplished.  What pure refreshment that brings!!! Jesus' gentle and humble heart stoops low to lift the heavy yoke from our shoulders and replaces it with His yoke of love, grace, mercy, and compassion. He's offering this gentle yoke to you.  Will you take it on and leave legalism behind?

I am by no means a theological scholar.  My written word is not the gospel truth, but by digging into just these four promises from God, there is such great and deep truth to be mined.  These are just a few of the insights God revealed to me.  Every promise is filled to the brim with His great love for me/you.

As a lover of words, I love looking at the original Greek and Hebrew in which scripture was captured.  Also understanding some things about the culture, the times, and the history sheds a whole new light as well. 

I invite you to join me next week for Part II of Pondering God's Promises.  I can think of no better Valentine's gift to give yourself :)

Meanwhile I invite you to share your favorite promise(s) from God.  Maybe I'll dig into it for next week. 

Dear Heavenly Father,  I thank you that you are the One true God - that your character is constant and never changing.  I praise you that you are faithful and that I can count on your promises to me.  Great are ALL you promises - just like your mercies that are new every morning.  Thank you for your Word that speaks of your great love and compassion for me.  You know my heart even before I utter a word and before time began you already had a great plan for me to give me my one true hope of salvation.  Great is your faithfulness O Lord!!  I can never stop singing your praises.  Thank you for the peace, the refreshment, the intimacy, the love beyond measure that you offer to me.  May I know how fully I am blessed.  In Jesus' precious name, Amen.

Be blessed...



"Nothing terrifies a terrorist more than books in the hands of little girls."  (Bob Goff, Author of "Love Does")

Here at Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. we are getting Bibles and textbooks into the hands of little girls (and boys) in the Middle East.  We are getting them off the streets and into Christ centered classrooms.  Just because a child is orphaned or impoverished doesn't mean that they don't deserve love and the hope that an education affords. 

Will you join us in our work of literally saving lives?  Check out our work thus far and our dreams at the "MISSIONS" tab.  So many in the world have turned their backs on these innocent children...will you help them know they are loved and raise them up to love others with the love of Jesus?

Send contributions (all sizes welcomed) to:

Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

*Enclose your email address for end of year giving statement.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

When You're Under Attack

Hey Friend,

You've been there...you are in the dark movie theatre slurping your $5 coke and shoving handfuls of your $8 popcorn into your mouth.  The ominous music starts playing in this action-thriller movie.  There's a knock at the door and the young, beautiful, innocent woman goes to the door - which of course has one of those chain locks that lets you open it 5 inches and peer outside.

Everything in you screams, "Don't open the door!!!"  Yet, what does she do...she cracks the door open....and then it happens...the bad guy shoves his black boot into the 5 inch space...he has a foothold....you know it's going to go down hill from here. 

Why did she open the door you wonder to yourself.  Didn't she know it would be dangerous?

Now the bad guy is inside.  He's wielding a knife.  He's come to kill and destroy.

Are you ever like the young woman in the movie?  I am.  A negative thought will come into my head.  Instead of keeping the door slammed shut, I start rolling it around in my head.  I ponder it.  I engage it.  I want to analyze it or argue with it. 

Instead of dropping the negative thought like the hot potato that it is, I, in essence, crack the door open...just enough...that the enemy is able to get his foot inside the door.

Once he gets his foot inside the door, you know he's going to come after me with a vengeance. 

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."  (Jesus speaking in John 10:10)

When I am weighing whether or not to open the door to a thought, I often use this verse and mentally make two columns and I ask:

      Does this thought...

Steal and kill and destroy?        or does it   Give life abundantly?

If the thought falls under the first column, I know it's a lie from the enemy.  One I need to avoid like the plague and drop like that hot potato.  I need to not so much as crack the door open an inch or I know what's going to happen next.

What are some of the "red flags" that these thoughts come under that first heading? 

* Do they make you anxious?
* Are they condemning?
* Do they say negative things about you like "You're a failure...you're disappointing God...you're not enough or good enough..." 
* Do they tear you down instead of building you up?
* Do they isolate you by telling you you're all alone; God doesn't care?
* Do they have you comparing yourself to others?

**If you loved someone, would these be words that would come out of your mouth?

For me, recognizing and discerning whether these are lies from the enemy or are these truths from God has been the first big step. 

What next?

I rebuke Satan in the name of Jesus Christ

I used to think that rebuking Satan out loud was only for the crazy preachers on tv.  Not so.  Satan, unlike God, cannot read our thoughts, therefore I command him (out loud) saying, "By the power given to me by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I command you Satan to flee from me - to get behind me, to be gone and leave me alone."

The Bible tells us that at the very name of Jesus Christ, Satan must flee.  The name of Jesus is powerful.

If I'm able, I replace Satan's lies with God's truth

For example, if the thoughts are really condemning and causing me to feel guilt and shame, I replace the lie with a truth like:

Romans 8:1: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (emphasis mine)

I weigh the thought by passing it through the lens of scripture.  And, if a scripture doesn't immediately pop to mind, I ask myself, "Is this thought in keeping with what I know to be the nature of God and Christ Jesus?"  If not then I know I need to trash it.

Drop it like the hot potato lie that it is and pray!

Sometimes I find, that even trying to replace lies with truth, I am engaging the thought.  I am arguing with the enemy.  I'm being baited into a fight.  Often the best thing to do is drop it; walk away; distract myself with something uplifting and turn the battle over to the Lord in prayer.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

On our own, we are no match for the enemy...but, here's the hope.  God does not leave us to fight our battles alone. 

The Lord will fight for you (me), you (I) need only to be still.  (Exodus 14:14)

If God is for me, who can be against me?  (Romans 8:31)

"In this world you will have trouble, but take heart!  I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33)

Lately, I have been under attack by the enemy.  Why? you might ask.  Working with Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. which supports Biblically based, Christian schools right in the epicenter of evil which is the Middle East, we welcome orphaned, impoverished, hopeless children into our doors where they receive the love of Christ and the hope that comes with an education. 

When they come through our doors, they are not entering jihad seminaries that fill their lost and seeking souls with grandiose thoughts of waging war and perpetuating hate.

We are infringing on Satan's territory and he is hopping mad. 

He would like nothing more than to render me defeated, hopeless, helpless, weak, and impotent. 

If you are doing God's work and walking in His way, Satan has you in his crosshairs.

Sometimes the best offense is a good defense.  If I am a soldier preparing for battle.  My best game plan is not to feed my body Cheetos and Mountain Dew and stay up all night listening to raunchy music. 

No, my best defense is to get my rest; take good care of my body; fill my mind with what is pure, noble, and true so that I can fully put on the armor of God.

The battle is spiritual and must be fought in God's strength, depending on the Word and on God through prayer.

I say all this like I have it mastered...I don't!  In fact, my writing this is, in essence, my pep-talk reminder to myself of God's truth.  I'm putting these thoughts that God is giving me down in words so that when the enemy comes after me...and I know he will...I will have something powerful to refer back to.

I hope and pray that your reading along with my pep-talk from God will also give you strength, peace, hope, and grace for the times when you are under attack. 

God has also reminded me to keep filling my mind with His Word during the calm periods in life, so that when the battle draws near I will have my quiver of scriptural arrows to pull from.

What about you?  What do you do when you're under attack?  What preparations do you make for battle?  Any encouragement you can offer those who are battling right now?

Dear Heavenly Father, I think you so much that You are Love and You are Good and you have given me your Son so that I may have life and have it abundantly.  Help me to discern whether the thoughts I have are life giving from You or lies that seek to destroy from the enemy.  Enable me to line up my thoughts with what I KNOW of your character and give me the strength to trash thoughts that don't come from you.  Thank you that you never leave me to fight my battles alone.  I praise you that you are Jehovah Nissi - my battle fighter.  I know you will fight for me, I need only to be still.  Thank you for the armor  of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Spirit.  And, if I can do nothing else, enable me to stand firm in You.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...
ps.  Remember that I pray for everyone (morning and evening) who reads my blog. You are in my prayers!

We need your help to grow up the orphaned, the lost, and the impoverished into the love of Jesus in the Middle East.  We need your support now for school supplies, desks, tables, chairs, additional teachers, text books, Bibles, rent, food, clothing, a security guard, etc.

Every gift matters and goes directly to helping the children.  Will you join Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. in our battle for precious lives?  If your answer is "Yes!", send your contribution to:

Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

*include your email for an end of year giving statement
*for more information visit my "MISSIONS" tab above

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What If The Worst Case Scenario Comes True?

Hey Friend,

I confess that I can be a worrier.  Having an anxiety disorder doesn't help matters either.  I know scriptures like these like I know the back of my hand:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  (1 Peter 5:7)

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink...Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sew or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"  (Matthew 6: 25-27)

Much of what I worry about never comes to fruition.  I know that worry is like rocking in a rocking chair - it gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere.  I get that. 

But, what about when the really big tragedies of life hit?  What about those?  What about those things that "happen to other people" and you think secretly...there's no way I could come through that!

I have a couple of friends who have lost their spouses at a relatively young age.  I can't even fathom losing the love of my life.  If I even dare think about it, I imagine being curled up in the fetal position in bed and not going on with life. 

A pastor told a story about how he once sat with a family who had lost their fourteen year old son in a hiking accident.  (Also a scenario I can't even imagine).  He recounts, "One of the things I remember most is the father, sitting on his front steps, crying, sobbing, wailing, mourning the loss of his son.  For hours.  There was nothing I could do, no words I could say to diminish his despair.  I am certain that even today, almost ten years after that tragic event, he still feels the pain and sorrow of losing a child."

I believe that talking with others who have experienced similar losses can be a big help in moving through the pain.  When someone has truly "walked your walk" they know your depth of pain.  They are able to sympathize and cry with you.  But I believe there is something else that helps even more...something I have witnessed and read about. 

I believe they receive a special source of comfort and strength known to only a select few in the world.  I believe that God makes available a depth of comfort to people who have experienced great loss in their life.  Some will try to get through tragedies without it, but to those who ask, to those who believe in Christ, God will bring a depth of comfort that few will ever experience. 

God promises, "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you."  (John 14:18)

I believe that God makes good on His promises. 

God also promises Grace in our time of need.  God does not give us grace before we need it - grace in our imagining.  No...

God only offers grace in the moment of need.  I have experienced this first hand.  Like comfort, God offers grace in the moment of our greatest need - not a minute before or after.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

His grace is supernatural.  It transcends anything we have known or experienced.  His grace is a sustaining power.  In Psalm 55:22 God promises that if we cast our cares on the Lord, He will sustain us. 

...He will never let the righteous be shaken (to slip and fall, to be upended, to be utterly cast down.) 

It's as if God carries us in the arms of His power, as a nurse carries a child.  He strengthens our spirits by His Holy Spirit so that we will be able to sustain the trial. 

Underneath our greatest pain and despair are ALWAYS the everlasting arms.

In addition to Comfort and Grace, I also believe that God is in the business of Redemption.

I remember sitting in a group session at a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) conference.  A beautiful young lady was telling a story of how her mother, at a very young age, was violently raped.  Anyone would be traumatized by what her mother endured.

She went on to say that out of shock, shame, and fear, her mother tried twice to abort this child that was conceived by hateful means.  Her attempts were unsuccessful.  For some reason, God wanted this child to be born.

Twenty some years after that child, who failed to be aborted, was born, she was standing before me on stage talking about her deep and devout faith in Jesus Christ.  She talks to many groups, sharing her testimony.  She also works with crisis pregnancy centers talking to young girls who have found themselves pregnant and are considering abortion.  This young woman offers them a glimpse of God's plan of redemption...that He, and only He, can bring beauty from the ashes.

I remember her talk so vividly. It has stuck with me.  God's redeeming power.

God is able to bring beauty and redemption from even the most dire of circumstances.

God's redeeming power can:

Bring beauty from ashes

Bring eternal life from death

Bring freedom to the bound

Bring deliverance from sin

Bring peace to the distraught

Make the unholy, holy
The unjust, justified

The word redeem means "to buy out" (like slaves were bought out and given freedom in place of slavery)

Whatever prior condition you find yourself in...God can redeem it...buy it out...make it new...bring beauty from its ashes.

How do I know?  Because I have seen and I believe that He brought new life from death.  A God who can do that can do anything.  Therein lies our hope!

God sees what we cannot.  We can see God's heart even if we can't trace His hand.

God is Love and God is Good.  Therefore I will believe that He is somehow capable of redeeming everything.

Like in the story of Joseph...what man intended for evil, God was able to work all his pain and suffering together for good.  God brought beauty from the ash heap of Joseph's life.  Not only did God redeem Joseph's circumstances, He used Joseph to save thousands of lives and bring glory unto Himself. 

God sees what we cannot.  He sees the unseen - what we cannot even fathom.

Comfort, Grace, Redemption, and trusting God's good and loving heart give me hope when I wonder...what if the worst case scenario comes true?

What about you?  Have you experienced God's comfort, grace, or redemption in dire circumstances?  Would you share so as to give others hope and give God the glory?

Dear Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that you love us so much that there is no depth of pain in which you will not go deeper still in order to hold me in your everlasting arms.  I thank you for your comfort, grace, and redeeming power.  Thank you for the times you have brought beauty from the ashes of my life.  Help me to trust that you see what I cannot.  And, because you are Love and your are Good you will see me through whatever the future holds.  Enable me to trust your promise that you cause all things to work together for good.  You are my Redeemer, my Restorer, and my Rewarded and in You alone I put my trust.  In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Be blessed...


ps. Speaking of Redeeming.  God is at work through Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. literally freeing children's lives from poverty and slavery to give them the hope that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and from getting a solid education.  We are giving these precious innocents - the orphaned and impoverished - tools for the future. 

Would you join with us in our ministry?  Our needs are many.  A gift of any size would be fully used to help the children and gratefully received.

Send all contributions to:

Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

** Include your email for an end of year giving statement and please pray for us won't you?**
This is Arzoo...our newest child to be sponsored into RCS, Pakistan.  Her father - physically and mentally ill is into witchcraft.  Her mother cannot support or care for their children.  Arzoo was left to fend for herself.  She has now found a home in our House of Hope called Redeemer Christian School, Pakistan. 
God's redeeming power at its finest...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

It's All Up To Me

Hey Friend,

It's 3:45 am. and the coffee is brewing.  I've read scripture and a devotional and now I find myself staring at this blank computer screen. 

I am not a stupid person.  I graduated summa cum laude from high school and magna cum laude from college.  I've handled some enormous administrative challenges, both in college and in work, and have come out smelling like a rose.  Why then, is this keeping me awake at night?

Currently, I am in the process of working with a wonderful Christian attorney (a gift from God) who is walking me through the process of applying for non profit, tax exempt/501c3 status for a ministry I have helped form.  The application is thicker than many books I've read.  (I'll spare you my thoughts on our government).  Understandably, though, they want to make sure that any tax exempt monies are not winding up in nefarious hands.  I get that.

So, in my usual M.O., I am leaving no stone unturned trying to answer all their questions, dispel any doubts, leave nothing to the imagination. I am trying to nail this sucker down.  My mind is always spinning with the question: What is the best way to present our ministry so that an IRS examiner will put our application in the acceptance pile?

After all, lives are depending on me...literally.  I have 32 impoverished, destitute, illiterate, hungry, innocent, and wide-eyed children counting on me.  (With many more on the waiting list).  Our ministry, Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. exists to "Promote the hope and love of Jesus Christ with people around the world with a particular focus on providing a Christian education to those who are impoverished, oppressed, or persecuted for their faith."

If I don't get this application approved, then people will not donate because they can't write it off on their taxes and these children will be hung out to dry.  I don't want that to happen...not on MY watch! 

The only problem, and it's a big one, is that our ministry operates in the epicenter of evil.  We are taking on Satan and the evil he stirs up, smack dab in the middle of his stomping grounds...the Middle East.  I want the IRS to see that we are not training up children to strap bombs on themselves...no, just the opposite, we are training them up to love in the way that Jesus loves.  We are on the same team...I have to make them see this. 

Just writing this leaves me exhausted!  When I look back over what I've written, I see the words, "I", "me", "my", "our".  This is when being smart is sometimes a curse.  I think that God, the One who created the universe and hung the stars in space, needs my help.  That's great God, that you are the great "I Am", but aren't you lucky that I'm here to help you out?

How vain, prideful, and downright silly is that?? (two day gap in writing)...

Needless to say, the two days away from my laptop, I truly crashed and burned.  I ran right into that wall that I always do....AGAIN.  If I'm so smart, why don't I ever learn??

So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.  (Proverbs 3:4-6)

In other translations, the verse said:

"do not rely on...."

"do not depend on..."

"do not trust upon..."

I am hitting the ground, running furiously, because I think it's all up to me.  I have forgotten that the "Alpha and the Omega" has got a good handle on this.  The "Name above All Names" has a game plan that I can count on, if I would just let Him coach me up.  The "Good Shepherd" knows the needs of His sheep in the Middle East far better than I do, so why am I relying upon me? 

The Great I Am wants me to "rely on", "depend on", "trust upon", yes, "lean upon" HIS understanding not my own.

I remember, as a child, when we would spend lazy summers in a beautiful mountain home that my dad designed and built himself with our "help".  After furious rain storms, my dad would always want to go down to the lake and check to see that the dock and the boat were in tact and check on the property of others.  He was good that way. 

Begging to tag along, I went with him one evening.  It was still dusk as we headed down the path through the woods to the lake.  I'd walked this path thousands of times, so naturally I bounced off ahead of my dad.  After checking everything and buttoning down loose tarps and covers, we headed back up the hill.

This time it was pitch black.  My dad, always prepared, had a big flashlight.  Still in typical fashion I tried to run on ahead (after all, I KNEW this path).  That was until some tree roots and random rock outcroppings tripped me up and I wound up face first in the mud and dirt.  Calmly, my dad brushed me off, took my hand, and suggested I let Him lead the way.  Oh stubborn and silly girl that I am.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."  (John 8:12)

Jesus promises the Light of Life to those who FOLLOW Him...not to those who, in their own might and wisdom, run on ahead.


Follow = imitate my example;
govern yourself by the dictates of God's Word and Spirit

If I continually run ahead in my own might and understanding, I am not imitating my Lord.  I can't be because I'm not following Him.

I can't be governing myself by the dictates of God's Word and Spirit if I'm not in His Word and calling upon His Spirit to LEAD me.

A wise friend reminded me that this battle belongs to the Lord.  If Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. getting 501c3 tax exempt status is in HIS will, then it can't be thwarted. 

The Lord will fight for me (us), I need only to be still.  ( Exodus 14:14 )

There was a reason that I was laid low in weakness this week.  It was so that when this victory happens...and I'm certain that it will...the glory will go to God and not to me. 

It's not all up to me to make the victory happen; but it's up to me to point to Whom the victory goes!

What about you?  Do you ever find yourself running on up ahead of the Lord?  What has been your experience?  If you have wisdom from the Lord to share...would you?

Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me, once again, for taking matters into my own hands and leaning upon my own understanding.  Help me to see that this is YOUR battle, and these are YOUR children.  Enable me to hold your hand and FOLLOW your Light to guide me through the dark.  Your promises of love, and wisdom, and guidance are so very good.  You are a good, good, Father.  Help me to walk in Your footsteps.  The only way I can imitate You is to follow You.  Humble me in order that I might follow dear Lord. In the precious name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...


BOYS IN BOOTS
Your generous contributions at Christmas, gave these boys some waterproof boots for Christmas so that their feet will remain warm and dry as the weather turns wet and cold.

Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. exists to promote the hope and love of Jesus Christ around the world with a particular focus on providing a Christian education to those who are impoverished, oppressed, or persecuted for their faith.

We are enrolling, and people are sponsoring, new students who could benefit from some warm clothing this winter.  Would you consider making that happen??  Any amount you feel led to donate will help tremendously!!!

Send checks payable to:

Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

**Include your email address because WHEN we get tax exempt status soon, ALL gifts during 2016 will be tax deductible and we will send you a year end receipt for tax purposes. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

What Is God's Good Pleasure?

Hey Friend,

As I mentioned in my previous post, my watch word for 2016 is "See".  I want to slow down enough to truly see God's marvelous works all around me and the unique qualities that He has woven into the people that surround me. 

I also want to not only "see", but to go a step further and discern His Truth from His Word.  I confess that I have a problem...well actually two...or more.  First, I procrastinate which is why this post is late.  Second, when I read His Word I am prone to skim.  Especially, if I know the scripture, I breeze past the words.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, got this...know that...heard that before...done. 

That is why I am challenging myself to read scripture that I am less familiar with and to read it in small chunks.  At the advice of a writing friend, I am reading the same small portion of scripture three different times in different translations.  This has been a great help in getting me to slow down and see. I am also reading commentaries (remembering they are opinions and insights, not gospel truth).

So step one:  Crack your Bible open.  We can't expect to know and discern God's heart if we don't lay eyes on His written Word.

It's a new year, so go with some scripture that is new to you.  Think of the Bible as God's love letter to you.  You've found His love letters to you tucked away in a shoebox in the attic and now you're going to open them one at a time and really focus on what He is saying. 

Today, I have camped out in Ephesians 1: 7-14.  Yesterday I read Ephesians 1: 1-7.  Reading in sequence and grasping what comes before and afterward greatly helps as well.  I also read it three times in different translations.  I put on my miner's hat and here is what I discovered:

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.  He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure (one translations reads: With immense pleasure, he laid out his intentions through Jesus). And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ - everything in heaven and on earth.  Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.  (Ephesians 1: 7-11 - NLT)

**Note I stopped after verse 11 because already there is such good stuff to mine here. 

First, I laid eyes on, and dwelled on the beginning of the passage.  I visualized Christ's blood freely flowing down the cross - setting me free.  With such great love for me/us, He has poured out the richness of His grace upon me.  I am covered.  I am forgiven.  I am truly, truly loved by a God who is kind.

That, alone, is a great nugget to carry with me today.  I admit, however, that my eyes were caught by words in the next phrase, "God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure." (vs. 9)

I admit wondering, What is God's good pleasure?  One version said, "His immense pleasure."  If God can be pleased....can He be displeased?  Can He be displeased with me?  I know that I am pleased with some things and some people, and conversely am displeased by some things and some people.  I am made in God's image, so is He like me? 

I realized what I was doing was (okay, here comes the big English major, six syllable word) anthropomorphizing God.  I was trying to understand God as if he were a man. 

God is not a man.  We are made in God's image, not vice versa.

I'm learning it is extremely damaging and untrue to attribute to God human characteristics.  I am made in God's image...He is not made in mine.  Can I hear a Halleluiah??

God is not affected by others like I am.

I am also a highly sensitive person, so what others around me say and do can affect me greatly.  It ought not to, but it does.  My mood and outlook can be changed.  Then, what I elect to do can be changed.  I am affected by others and then others, in turn, may be affected by me.

God is not like that.  I can count on God to live in a determinative fashion.  What does that mean?  I can count on God to be fixed, unchanging.  He defines, directs, and determines the course for others...He cannot be defined, directed, and determined by us.  Can I have another Halleluiah??

God is not influenced by anything outside of himself.  There is no force in the universe stronger than God.  So, when I think my actions and reactions are changing how God thinks about me...nothing could be further from the truth.  I can no more change God than I can stop the stars from shining. 

God at His very core is Love and Goodness.  So therefore His "good pleasure" is His will.  I believe that God cannot have a will or pleasure that is other than good. 

Good and bad things happen to people, not because God is displeased with them.  Okay, read that again...

God's will for us is always good, but He does give those around us and gives us free will which allows us to affect others (sometimes in a bad way) and to be affected by others. 

I am so thankful that God's will...His good pleasure was to offer Christ as an atoning sacrifice for my sin.  He knew that man was not going to cut it attempting to follow the Law, and so He gave us a new covenant which is that we are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. 

When God looks at us/me.  He doesn't see my sin; He only sees the cleansing blood of Christ. 

That will never change...because God has always been good and His will and "good pleasure" are changeless as well. 

What misconceptions do you have about God?  How would digging into His word change that?

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the love letter of Your precious Word that You have written to me.  Make it my desire to want to read Your words of love to me and truly "see" your loving and kind heart.  How thankful I am that You are changeless...that nothing I do will make You love me more or less.  You are fixed and You are faithful.  On those facts, I can depend.  Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit You have given me as my guide while mining in Your Word.  May I not only see, but be changed, day by day, into the likeness of Jesus.  It is in His precious name that I pray, Amen

Be blessed...


This is Nisha wearing the warm sweater/coat that you gave her for Christmas.  For a young girl that was cleaning houses just to survive and eat, she feels immensely blessed to have found refuge in the loving arms of Redeemer Christian School, Pakistan...made possible by Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
Over 25 impoverished and orphaned children remain on the waiting list to be sponsored in order to be able to attend RCS, Pakistan.  For ONLY $12/MONTH OR $144/FOR ONE YEAR, YOU CAN MAKE THIS DREAM POSSIBLE.

Help us get these children off the streets and into the classroom!!

Send contributions (in any amount) to:
Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

**include your email address for end of the year giving statement**

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Wanting To Truly See

Hey Friend,

When I was a child and we'd cruise down the highway in my parents' Chevy station wagon, I would often gaze out the window and watch the scenery whip by me in a blur.  Every so often, my eye would catch a glimpse of something that I wanted to go back and take a closer look at, but it was too late - we'd already sped past.

Much of my life is like that - I'm moving at laser speed and I don't slow down to truly "see" what is right in front of me.  For 2016, I have chosen the word "see" as my watchword for the year.  I am smart enough and old enough to know not to set lofty resolutions, but I can work on truly seeing. 

Our God is El Roi...the God who sees.  He never takes His eyes off me.  I am created in His image, so I too, am called to see.  I want my eyes to not only glimpse, but to dwell long enough to take in the depths of:

His Creation

His gifts to me

His will for me

I believe that the eyes are the window of the soul.  I want to look beyond the facades and masks that others wear and look long enough to see others' hurt, pain, and suffering.  Having lived my life with on again/off again depression and anxiety, I can look (with pretty good accuracy) and see when others are depressed, suffering, aching, or are in need of being "seen".

My choice now, is am I going to slow down long enough to show Christ's love to them?  Or, am I going to leave their faces as a blur as I whip by at my hectic pace?

I like the passage in "The Greatest Gift" by Ann Voskamp that says:

"People aren't bodies; they are hearts.  We could train our eyes to turn everything inside out. 

'Why should the eye be so lazy? Let us exercise the eye until it learns to see,' writes G. K. Chesterton.  Let us exercise the eye until it sees through the fat of things, down to the eternal of things.  Let us exercise the eye by walking with Christ.

There is this call for every Christian to answer His calling to be an ocular surgeon.  Our seeing must cut through surfaces and down to souls."

Scripture says that God looks not at the outward appearance, but at the heart.  I, too, want to be one who sees others' hearts.  A also want to "see" the heart of God as He sees me. 

Seeing is a two way street - being seen, and seeing God and others.

I ask the Lord to give me rich insights as I see Him in EVERY circumstance of my life. 

Give me insight - let me "see in" to God, others, and the world around me.

Often horses in a race or pulling carriages have blinders on so that they don't get spooked by distractions around them.  I pray that God would remove the blinders I've fastened on my eyes.  Full vision is needed for seeing the complexity of God's signs and wonders.

When I am "spooked" by the enemy's lies, I pray that God would give me eyes to see and DISCERN His truth.
                              
                                     Seeing = Discerning

In order to see His Truth, I need to keep my eyes firmly fixed on Him!

When I take the time to truly see God - to gaze into His eyes, I sense Him lifting my head ever so gently and gazing at me with the soulful eyes of a Good Father.  He whispers to me, "You are loved!"

What is your word for 2016??

Dear Lord, help me to stop, be intentional, and actually see You in new and glorious ways.  I also want to truly see others and what's going on in their lives so that I might love them better.  I want to not be in such a hurry that I can actually focus on the here and now...what is right in front of my nose.  I pray for the ability to truly see the pain others are suffering and lend support whether it's across the street or across the globe.  I want to see myself as You see me...to look at life through Your lens...not my own.  Lord, let it be so in my life.  In the precious name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...
ps.  Will you take the time to truly "see" the young, destitute victims of the evil going on in the Middle East?  Hate is making orphans out of these precious children of God.  For just $12/month you can get one child off the dangerous streets and into the classroom at Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan. 

Check out the MISSIONS tab above and send your contribution now to:

Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

25+ impoverished children are on the waiting list, waiting for your response.  Please make 2016 a life saving year for them!!

**giving statements will be sent at the end of 2016**

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Why Do I Need A Savior?

Hey Friend,

Several years ago, I was active with Prison Fellowship Ministries.  This is a wonderful ministry that goes into the prisons and reminds inmates that Jesus was crucified beside criminals.  Yet, to the one who believed in Him, Jesus gave him the promise that the same day they would be together in paradise in heaven. 

These men and women know they royally messed up.  Sure, there's always some rationalizing, but deep down they know they are in need of saving.  They NEED a Savior.  The difficult part is prying open their hearts for the Holy Spirit to do His miraculous work of convicting them of the fact that Jesus loves them, beyond their crimes and sins, and came to die for them as well.  Sometimes, it was a tough sell.

It wasn't too different when Jesus walked among the people teaching.  The prostitute he met at the well, the tax collectors he ate amongst and invited one to follow him as his disciple, the adulterers, murderers, and dregs of society, all were drawn to Him.  They knew they were sinners.  They didn't need convincing on this point.  No, they needed convincing that Christ came for them and loves them too.

If you trace the lineage of Jesus, his family tree reads like a police rap sheet.  Jesus came from a line that included prostitutes, adulterers, murderers, cheaters and liars.  

Jesus came FROM sinners FOR sinners.

The "problem children" of Jesus' day were the Pharisees - the religious leaders.  They were well versed in Old Testament scripture.  They knew all the do's and don'ts and were quick to point out, with a judging, pious finger, the sins and failings of others.  They really didn't think they needed saving.  After all, they followed the Law religiously.  They really didn't think they needed a Savior.

If you ask someone in today's society, "Do you think you'll go to Heaven when you die?"  Most people will answer with something akin to, "Yes, I think so.  After all, I've tried to be a good person. I haven't killed anyone or anything like that."

Trying to be a good person may get you a gold star in elementary school, but it ain't going to get you to Heaven. (please excuse the bluntness)

Even Christians, myself included, get misguided notions that one can and needs to, in some way, earn their way to Heaven. Getting to Heaven and into God's good graces is like climbing the rungs of a ladder.  In our own power, we laboriously climb these imaginary steps of goodness in our mind's eye.  Each good deed somehow getting us closer to God.

I love how Ann Voskamp describes Jesus in her book "The Greatest Gift":

"I tell you the truth (Jesus speaking), you will see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth." (John 1:51)

"Jesus doesn't show you the steps to get to heaven - Jesus IS the steps to heaven... Jesus doesn't ultimately give you a how-to, because Christianity is ultimately about Who-to.  Every religion, every program, every self-help book is about steps you have to take. Jesus is the only One who BECOMES THE STEP - TO TAKE YOU...He comes to us not in spite of our failings - but precisely because of them." 

So what do I need saving from?  I haven't murdered.  The only thing I ever stole was a pack of gum from Gracie's mom and pop store when I was about nine years old. 

Like the prisoners, I need saving from my past and from my inherent sinfulness. 

The list gets a little trickier when I think about needing saving from:

Pride a notion that sometimes I think I can get to heaven on my own merit.

Legalism living under the law instead of living freely under grace.

Perfectionism the lie that says I have to do it perfectly or God won't accept it.

Anxiety worry that doesn't claim the truth that God's got this...He's got me.

Fear Oh the projecting of worst case scenarios that forget that His grace is sufficient for ALL my needs.

Anger I rationalize that I have "righteous anger" at times.  Jesus doesn't hold a grudge.

Unforgiveness I forget that God is the ultimate and just judge. 


From sinners, He came, for sinners.

"Nothing, you see, is impossible with God."  (Luke 1:37)

Last, I need a Savior because nothing but Jesus will satisfy this longing in my heart.  Not people, or things, or position, or anything of this world.  My heart longs for the perfect beyond this place called earth.  This world is not my home and I will always be homesick until I am in my Savior's arms. 

I need a Savior because I can never be complete without Him. 

I need a Savior to enable me to Savor light and love...not only to take it all in, but to give it out in the form of light and blessing to others. 

I need a Savior to satisfy the longing of my soul.

I need a Savior because my heart was designed to belong to Him. He loves me more than anyone in this world loves me!

Do you need one too?  Take heart...He is coming soon!

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you that you care so much about me that you, as God, made yourself man in the form of a tiny baby so that you/he would ultimately bear the sins of the world.  From the wooden feeding trough that cradled him to the timbers that crucified him, you cared enough to send me a Savior.  Lord, forgive me of my sins.  Let me live free in your grace...knowing that I am utterly and completely forgiven.  As far as the east is from the west - that's how far you have removed my sins from me.  Thank you for coming from sinners, for sinners like me.  May my lips ever praise your name.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


Be blessed...



Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. supported bringing the joy of Christmas to the orphans and impoverished children of Redeemer Christian School, Pakistan. 

Acting out the Christmas story...



New shoes for Christmas...




25+ destitute and desperate children on the waiting list to get into RCS, Pakistan.


$12/month and you can sponsor a child and give them the love of Jesus and the hope of an education for 1 year.


Send a check made payable to: Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.


Send to:  Bev Rihtarchik
               103 Silver Lining Lane
               Cary, NC  27513


*Include your email address for end of year giving statement*


Taking a little Christmas break...be back in the New Year...blessings to you and yours!  May you have a joyous Christmas!!