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

Saturday, December 12, 2015

It's All About Him

Hey Friend,

I was all set to write about "peace" in my usual Thursday post.  I was going to talk about how this year I was going to take the chaos out of Christmas and usher in peace.  I was going to talk about our Advent Jesse tree being the focal point of this season and not about "Winning Christmas" as Best Buy claims in their advertisements.  This was going to be the ultimate of peaceful Christmases.  I had even started on my Christmas cards earlier than usual so it wouldn't be a last minute stress item. 

I was well on my journey toward a peaceful Christmas season.  Then, it hit.  Not sure what triggered it, but I found myself  in a really bad ocd episode.  Ocd is an anxiety disorder and this episode came packed with an extra punch of gut wrenching anxiety. I found myself in bed for a couple of days.  My son called me the second day and he was in a pickle and needed a ride.  I dragged myself out of bed and went to pick him up.  I wound up in a fender bender was truly an accident (both of us backing out at the same time), then hearing the awful "thud" of striking something solid. 

This woman proceeded to get out of her car and started screaming at me at the top of her lungs.  She called me all sorts of lovely things.  Then a gentleman came out of a store and asked if I'd kindly move my car out of the middle of the parking lot so he could get out (he wasn't about to approach the other woman).  I obliged.  I got back in my car to move it.  That's when the woman began beating on my car and screaming that I was fleeing the scene of the accident.  Even after I pulled into an unoccupied space...she was still shouting.  So much for the Christmas spirit...

Hours later, after the police had come and ruled it a mutual, no one at fault, accident.  I went home and climbed back into bed.  I called a mentor friend of mine and she prayed with me and then she encouraged me to read the 23rd Psalm.  This was the second time someone had suggested I read it...I felt God speaking.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me. 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

What jumped out at me in reading this Psalm is that Jesus was doing all the actions...
He makes me lie down...
He leads me...
He restores my soul...
He guides me...
He is with me...
He prepares a table...
He anoints my head...
Not only does Jesus go before me and do the work...He hems me in and follows me with His goodness and mercy all the days of my life.

The only thing He asks of me is to "dwell"...and to "walk and follow Him".  Period.

You see I had been trying, by myself, to achieve perfect peace this Christmas.  I was striving and doing in my own power to make this a less chaotic season. 

It was all about me when really...IT'S ALL ABOUT HIM!!

The same is true about too, is all about Him. 

I was trying to seek perfect peace, rather than let the Lord's peace work in me. 

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." (Colossians 3:15)

Jesus Christ is the only "perfect peace" that I know of.  I have His perfect peace living inside of here's the clincher...I have perfect peace dwelling in me, now I need to let it... "Him" rule. 

When it comes to peace...Jesus and only Jesus does the working. 

My job is to dwell, abide, be still...

The pressure is off...I don't need to go seeking peace.  It dwells in me and so I need to be still and let Him rule with His peace. 

My main job is to keep my eyes firmly fixed on Christ and then abide in Him and wait, expectantly, for what He is about to perform. 

So this is Advent Season "Take 2".  I can't make a peaceful Christmas.  Only Jesus can do that.  So my fervent prayer right now is that I would:

Be still and know that HE is God.  (Psalm 46:10). 

I will ask Him for the ability to keep my eyes and mind steadfastly fixed on Him and He will give me the gift of peace. 

And even if I don't do this perfectly, because I am a stupid sheep...I get distracted. Thankfully, His rod and His staff are there to guide me back into His presence and into His peace.

In the end, it's truly all about Him...

Dear Lord Jesus, I praise you because you ARE the Prince of Peace.  I thank you that you left your heavenly home in order that you might live and dwell in my heart.  I thank you for your Holy Spirit who comforts and guides me.  Thank you for your promise that you will work in me, if only I am still.  Help me to get myself out of the way so that your will be done...not mine.  Let me be glad about my weaknesses so that your glory will shine and the world will's not about's truly all about You!  In your precious name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

ps. Thank you to all of you who have contributed so that the children of Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan will have gifts, a celebration, and a hearty meal this Christmas.  God bless you!!

GOOD NEWS:  Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Secretary of State's office and Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.  is now a fully accredited organization in good standing.  PRAISE!!  Look for more news in posts to come. 

NEEDS FOR 2016:  25+ children are on the waiting list desperately wanting to be able to get in the doors of Redeemer Christian School, Pakistan.  Only $12/month will sponsor a needy student for a year. We will send you a picture and bio on your child.  A child needs YOU!

For more information on RCS/RCF go to the MISSIONS tab above.

If you can help: Send a check made out to Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.  and send to:

Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.
c/o Bev Rihtarchik
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

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

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Whose Birthday Is It Anyway?

Hey Friend,

At the age of 54, my memories of my childhood are fuzzy at best.  I do remember, however, my very first birthday party at the age of five.  This was a big deal because it was the first time I got to make up the guest list and invite friends from my kindergarten class as well as friends from the neighborhood. 

I got to pick out the vanilla cake layered with pink butter cream icing and the pretty, frilly dress I was going to wear.  With a little guidance from my mother, I had say in what would be served for lunch.  I had final veto power on what party games we would play.  My mom was so creative, I wanted to play them ALL!

The day of the party, it was all about me...friends brought gifts picked especially for me and I got to be the one to open them.  I got to pick who went first at pin the nose on the clown.  I got to decide who sat next to whom at the big dining room table and who would have the choice seat next to me on the two seat bench. 

A lot of the fun (for me) came in the anticipation of the party.  My poor mother... I probably drove her crazy, because at the age of five you have no concept of how long a month or a week is.  With each passing day leading up to my party, I got more and more excited.  With each passing day my mother probably wanted to tear her hair out with my perpetual asking, "Is today the day?"

What if we had a birthday party and everyone at the party paid attention to everything else but us?  We'd be offended.  If this had happened at my first birthday party, I may have thrown a tantrum?!

This, I believe, is what we do with Jesus.  We get so wrapped up in the party that we forget just WHO it is for...Who we are there to celebrate.

Fortunately, Jesus is not like us...He doesn't get offended and He certainly doesn't throw a tantrum.  I wonder sometimes, though, what He does think?

When He sees all the commercialism and people stressing themselves out with massive "to do" lists, what goes through His mind and His heart? 

Does it hurt that everyone has come to the party, but no eyes are upon Him?

Jesus didn't come into this world, as God made man, with a triumphant entry.  No, He came quietly and humbly.  God, made flesh in the form of a tiny baby, was born in virtual anonymity in a barren stable in the town of Bethlehem.  His king's throne was a feeding trough for the lowly animals.  This is how the King of Kings came to His first birthday party.

This is how Jesus entered the world and this is how he wants to enter out lives:

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."  (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus doesn't burst through the door and proclaim His presence.  No, He knocks softly.  We must be quiet and still enough to hear His voice because He will not shout.  Then, if we hear His voice we must choose to open the door.

The Jews waited centuries for the coming of the Messiah that was prophesied in the Old Testament.  Yet when He did come they missed it.  All those years of waiting and anticipating and then the moment arrives and in all their excitement...they missed it. 

Have you ever had that feeling the day after Christmas, that everything leading up to it was just a blurr and now comes the disappointment that it's over?

I have...and I don't like it. 

I think back to my first birthday party and how much fun it was to prepare for the party and to anticipate its arrival.

What if, this Christmas, I approached Jesus' birthday from the mindset of a five year old?

What if I slowed myself and put more emphasis on the preparation of my heart and the anticipation of the birthday of the greatest person ever to be born?

What if the beforehand held the same excitement as the day of?

What if I quieted the commotion around me so I could hear His voice?

What if everything I did was centered on the birthday boy and not on his party?  What would that look like?

Last year I began, on December 1st, reading Ann Voskamp's "The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping The Full Love Story Of Christmas".  It is a short, easy to read, daily devotional for the season of Advent. (Available at ). Ann's writing, however, brings the beauty and the mystery of the season alive. 

I also bought a small Jesse Tree and each day of Advent, I put the corresponding ornament on the tree (Dayspring sells the ornaments or you can make your own).  I looked forward each day, with great anticipation, to what that reading would be about. 

Preparing each and every day helped me to remember and appreciate the most awe-inspiring thing that happened in the whole of history: God becoming man in the glory and mystery of the incarnation.

Setting aside time each day to prepare my heart for His coming was the best gift I could have ever given myself.  I didn't let Christmas just sneak up on me.

This year I am looking forward to reading the devotional and hanging the ornaments with my husband.  I think I'm looking forward to this more than the actual Christmas day. 

There is true beauty in letting our hearts experience the anticipation of Advent. 

Don't hurry past the "coming" in our rush to get to when He "comes".

That's why I'm posting this on December 1st.  It's not too late to grab a copy of Ann's book or prepare an Advent wreath.  There are a myriad of ways to celebrate this season of anticipation of Christ's coming. 

Would you share in the comments how you best like to prepare your heart for Christ's coming?...I'd love to hear. 

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you that you love us so much that you were willing to leave your place on high and become flesh in the form of a tiny baby.  Thank you for coming into the pain and sin of this world so that you could fulfill your destiny to become our Messiah.  Lord, we are powerless to save ourselves from our own sin.  Help us not to be so busy with what the world would have us get caught up in that we miss the true meaning of this season.  Lord, DON'T LET ME MISS YOU!!
Let me let YOU be the focus of my excitement and anticipation.  Let my heart be filled with joy as I prepare to welcome YOU. Let me remember it's YOUR birthday that I am celebrating.  I proclaim your name above all names.  For it is in Jesus' name I pray, Amen. 

Be blessed...

ps. What if you woke up on Christmas morning and there were fewer gifts under your tree because you gave to those whose needs were greater than your wants??

25 destitute and impoverished children are waiting to be sponsored this year at Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan.  Only $12/month will get them off the streets and into the classroom. 

If you would like to sponsor a child send your contribution to:

Make check payable to: REDEEMER CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION, Inc.

Send to:
Bev Rihtarchik
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513
**Include you email address for end of year giving statement**

For more information on Redeemer Christian School, visit the MISSIONS tab above.

Give the gift of HOPE this Christmas...thank you!!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

When Life Is More Like A Steady Drizzle Than A Storm

Hey Friend,

I read in the news, that in the past few months, North Carolina has had more rain than Seattle.  Now that's a lot of rain.  There were two very distinct weeks in which we never saw the sun.  The wind did not blow or rage and the rain wasn't pelting like in a storm.  No, it was more of a perpetual drizzle.  After two weeks of non-stop drizzle I found myself more weary, more down in the dumps, less optimistic, and wondering if the sun was ever going to shine again?!

Sometimes life is like this.  Most of us will face some incredible storms in life.  Times in which the seas are angry and the wind and rain leave devastation in their path.  I think of people I know or who I've been asked to pray for...a couple that recently had a stillborn baby at birth...loving Christian parents whose son committed suicide...a young man in his prime being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  These, my friends, are STORMS!

These are the events in life that will test and try our faith like non other.  They will ask us to choose if we will bless God or curse Him.  They are defining moments in our faith walk and how we walk through them will leave a forever legacy for those who watch us go through them.  By this, I don't mean how stoic are we?  Far from it...we can have our spirit crushed until we become mere shadows of ourselves, but if onlookers can see God pick up the pieces and breathe beauty into our ashes...that is the blessing in the pain. 

I've been through several major storms in my life, but sometimes what wears me down more so are the weeks of perpetual drizzle.  None of the trials are life threatening.  None of them, on their own, are big enough to be considered a storm, but the piling on of many smaller trials can be enough to sink me into a state of despair. 

Sometimes I wonder why life is like this.  Why do we often get hit with a perpetual barrage of annoying trials?

I think partly that God, in His wisdom, is giving us practice for when the big storms hit.  He's in essence saying, "Here, practice with the small stuff."

Anyone who has ever trained for a marathon doesn't sit on the couch for weeks and then get up one day and try to run many miles.  No, they practice with the small stuff.  They might start out with a mile and then build upon it as their endurance increases so that when marathon day comes, they are equipped and ready.

Just like that marathon runner, we can practice with the smaller trials.  We can practice patience that may last a few weeks vs. patience that demands years of perseverance. 

We can practice trusting God with details that are difficult, but not life altering.  Trusting God with the small stuff enables us to build our confidence in trusting Him with the really big stuff.

Accepting grace in our smaller misdeeds and experiencing God's grace pour over us will enable us to accept His grace when we think how on earth can God not be truly disappointed in me to the point of wanting to disown me?

Life's drizzles let us practice with the small stuff so that when the big rains come...we are prepared.

Another truth I've learned is that the promises God gives us for life's biggest storms, hold true for when we are overcome by the perpetual drizzle. 

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the fire burn you."  (Isaiah 43:2)

Listen to the beauty of God's promise...whether you walk through a puddle or a raging river...

"I will be WITH you."

He will never leave nor forsake you...He'll walk along with you and carry you if He needs to.

Furthermore, read how He is going to be with you...

"THROUGH the waters, THROUGH the rivers, THROUGH the fire."

God promises to not leave us stuck there.  His grace is sufficient to bring us through whatever we are going through. 

So again, whether it's a seemingly never ending drizzle or a monumental storm, God will see you through to the other side.  God has proved this to me over and over again and each time I come through, it gives me more confidence that whatever comes in the future, He will bring me through that too.

Back up a verse to Isaiah 43:1: The Lord says,

"Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine!"

I remember being out on a boat once and fog and drizzle rolled in.  We weren't in a raging storm, but yet we couldn't see our way through the drizzle to the dock and to the shore. 

My dad was standing on the dock and he was calling my name through the fog.  Though I had not a clue exactly how far I was from shore, I kept following my name being called.  Eventually my dad came into view and I was able to guide the boat safely back into it's slip.

Like my earthly father called my name, my Heavenly Father calls me by name.  He doesn't give up...He continues to call my name through the drizzle until I'm safely back to shore. 

Exclamation points are not used a lot in the Bible, but look at where one is used in this verse...after the declaration by the Lord that says,

"You are mine!"

God emphatically tells us that we are His.  He claims us and you can rest assured that when God claims you as His own, He will do whatever it takes to bring you through the storm or even the perpetual drizzle you are going through.

Nothing you can ever say or do will cause Him to release you from His hand that has taken hold of you.  What comfort to know that God has a hold on me and He's NEVER going to let go.

Maybe you're in a storm right now or maybe you are in what seems to be a never ending drizzle?  Either way, God is still God.  He is still Able to see you through.  If you are in a drizzle, what small stuff may God be asking you to practice with so you will be equipped in His love for when the big storms hit?

Dear Heavenly Father,  Thank you so much for your promises that you will never leave nor forsake me.  Thank you that, whether I'm in a drizzle or in a storm, you will not let the waters sweep over me.  With your grace you will keep my head above water.  Thank you for claiming me as your own and in that I have the assurance that you will never let me matter what.  Help me to practice patience and trust in the small trials of life so that I will have confidence when the storms come.  Just as your resurrection power was with Jesus who overcame the grave, your resurrection power is with me to overcome whatever storms (or drizzle) life may bring.  In Jesus precious name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

ps. Please pray for a hedge of protection around the children of Redeemer Christian School.  In light of what's going on in our world, they need your prayers.  Also if you want to get one child off the streets and into school, we have 25 children desperate to get in.  Please visit the "MISSIONS" tab on this blog to find out how you can help.  Lives are depending on your love...Only $10/month can make a mighty difference!

Praise for your contributions to Christmas Joy for RCS...all 31 students will be blessed due to your generosity...thank you!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

But My Story Isn't Dramatic Enough

Hey Friend,

Maybe, like me, you've sat in church and when they run the video clip of someone's life testimony you are resigned to the fact that your life testimony would not be video worthy.  Perhaps you have not hit rock bottom, come back from a drug addiction, wandered the prodigal path, or had a dramatic or defining moment in which you gave it all over to God in desperation. Maybe you have...that's okay too!

Sometimes I am envious of Paul, who on the road to Damascus, was stopped in his tracks by a great light and the audible voice of God, calling him to give up his ways of persecuting Christians and instead follow Christ in going and making disciples of all nations.  This is the stuff from which blockbusters are made. 

My story, however, is not so grand.  I can somewhat relate to Paul, in that I grew up in the church.  Just like Paul knew old testament scripture and the Jewish law inside and out, I knew all the famous Bible stories and could probably quote them verbatim to you.  I knew the history of the Christian church, all about the reformation, could quote scripture, knew the facts that God was and is the ultimate Creator and his Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for my sins so that I could live forever with God in heaven.  It was all there...

But for me, the most passionate love story that was ever written was simply head knowledge.  I didn't KNOW my Savior...

I accepted Christ as my Savior...which basically means I invited Jesus to come and live in my heart as the Lord of my the age of 13.  Intrinsically, I knew that something key was missing in my life.  I was basically a good kid...colored inside the lines...but longed for someone to truly know me and love me just as I was.  Jesus seemed to fit this description. 

I wish I could say that from that moment on, I lit the world on fire.  I didn't.  I began reading my Bible more and I prayed to Jesus (God still intimidated me).  I continued in my youth group and going to church. 

My coming to relationship with God and His Son was less of an explosion and more of a slow burn.

I went to a Christian college and managed to sail through without falling too far off the wagon.  Faith was still intact, but I wasn't taking the world by storm.  I have to say that it wasn't until I was married and the rubber began to meet the road through trials, that my faith truly began to grow.

Not knowing any better, I was struggling in what was an emotionally and verbally abusive marriage.  This was compounded by the fact that immediately after the birth of our first child, I was uprooted and plunked down in the middle of the Midwest, where I knew no one, with an infant daughter, in the most frigid of months...January.

What was initially treated as post partum depression (and later diagnosed as OCD anxiety disorder and depression), sent me in a downward spiral.  At one point I found myself in the emergency room of the hospital because I seriously entertained thoughts of ending my life.  No matter how hard I tried I could not climb out of the pit of despair that I was in. 

Perhaps this was my defining moment...or a defining my journey.

I found myself sobbing into my pillow and desperately crying out with groans that only the Holy Spirit could make on my behalf, asking Jesus that if He is who He says He is...would He rescue me?

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  (Psalm 40:1-2)

God and His Son made good on their promises.  There would continue to be defining moments in my life.  Transformations that took place in which I built altars, etched in my mind, to God for His faithfulness.  These experiences were not once and done...everything was hunky dorey from that point on encounters, no...

It was more of a continual wooing and relentless pursuit on the part of Jesus that has brought me into a deeper and closer walk with Him.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Some milestone moments include, but are not limited to:

Realizing that all the striving I had been doing...trying to be perfect in God's eyes...was in fact pride masquerading as piety.  The only way to be perfect in God's sight was through the blood of Christ.  All other forms of attempting to earn or to find favor were fruitless...filthy rags if you will.

Realizing that God is not a curmudgeon sitting on His throne in heaven keeping tally of all the times I screw up.  I had erroneously given God human attributes.  Coming to know His fathomless, unending love and mercy toward me was (and still is) life changing.

Realizing that the enemy was in a war for my mind and he would pull out any stops to attack my Achilles heal and get me to buy into his lies about me.  Learning to recognize the red flags that he was at work and kicking him to the curb sooner rather than later, was (and is) a major growing in faith experience.

Letting God love me through the absolute despair of infidelity and divorce let me see a side of God that I never dreamed could be there.

Staring the big "C" in the face and overcoming.

Parenting a prodigal is teaching me that just like Jesus wooed me, my prodigal may not have just one defining moment, but instead, a series of baby steps back into the loving arms of his Heavenly Father.  It is also teaching me the true power of prayer - my prayers and other prayer warriors who pray on my behalf. 

Starting a Christian School for orphans, destitute and impoverished children in Pakistan (midst ISIS persecution) has let me see first hand that God is able to do all things through us if we will just make ourselves available.  I'm learning to say, "Not my will, but Your's be done, Lord!" and I'm learning to wait...even when it kills me.

I'll be the first to say that I don't like being in the crucible...who does??

I do believe, however, that it's in the refining fire that trials bring, that our faith is refined, deepened, and strengthened. 

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  (1 Peter 5:10) 

It is stepping out of the boat, onto the waves, and taking baby steps toward Christ.  We revile the storm swirling around us, but His arms remain outstretched and beckon us to keep walking forward.

No, my story is probably not movie material, but it is MY story.  People can argue theology until the cows come home, but no one can argue the Lord's legacy of love to me in my life's story. 

What is your life's story?  Is God still writing it?  Have you shared it with anyone lately?  We ALL have a story to tell and together these pieces make the puzzle complete.

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you and thank you that before you made me, you called me to be yours.  I thank you for my story and that it is unique to me.  Thank you that you never gave up of forsook me...with relentless love you pursued me.  I was never out of your sight or your grasp.  Thank you for your everlasting arms underneath me that never let me fall.  Yes, life can be brutal, but Your love is bigger still.  Give me courage, Lord, and help me be brave to share my story, our story, with those who need to hear.  It is in the precious name of Jesus that I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

ps. Urgent Need: Needed...caring and compassionate hearts to bring Christmas and the joy that it brings to the impoverished children of Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan.  We have six children still to cover.  Only $25. will bring smiles and delight to one child who otherwise will receive nothing.  $25 includes: a warm article of clothing, a small gift or toy, and a hearty Christmas meal and joy in retelling/acting out the Christmas story.  Let these children know they are not forgotten...please.

Send contributions to:  Bev Rihtarchik (put RCS in the memo line)
                                      103 Silver Lining Lane
                                       Cary, NC  27513

**include your email address so you can see pictures of the joy you will bring**

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Grumbling vs. Gratitude

Hey Friend,

I will be fair and clue you in.  I am writing this post to myself as I hear God speaking to my heart and I'm letting you listen in and read along.  I have a bad case of the grumbles most likely due to stress.  I woke up with a stiff neck from stress the night before and my jaw hurt, probably from being clenched all night.

You see, my beloved, four legged, sweet, senior gal, Zoe is almost 14 years old and has "doggie dementia".  Yes, dogs can have dementia just like people.  She can't hear and she can't see too well.  Physically, she's still in good shape...loves her short walks and can get up and down stairs.  She will even run with you for a short distance.  You can tell, though, that she is confused and disoriented at times.  When she's not sleeping she wants to be where I am and gets distraught if she doesn't see me. 

We get through the days okay, but around 3 pm., now with the time change, her anxiety increases.  She is clearly more disoriented, restless, and agitated.  She'll move around a lot and can't seem to find contentment and peace.  In people they call it "Sundowners Syndrome".  With dogs, though, they bark or vocalize.  It starts out as intermittent barking and then crescendos as the evening drags on.  By 8 pm. it's incessant.

 I love her dearly because she is so sweet.  I don't want to see her suffer. I know she's not doing any of this purposefully, but my husband and I begin to grow irritated and resentful.  It's a vicious cycle that repeats itself night after night.  We've tried every combination of medicine and natural remedies.

The problem is...there is no cure.  It is pretty certain that it will either stay the same or get worse.  I try to weigh whether it's more compassionate to let go or keep holding on because her good moments outweigh or at least balance the bad???  Clearly I am torn and it's tearing at my heart.  I don't like the moody, grumbling person I am turning into.  My spirit is clearly focused on the negative right now and I don't like being here. 

I asked God for wisdom and He very clearly led me to Psalm 103. 

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.  (Psalm 103: 1-5, 8)

When I read this I want to cry because right now I am so inwardly focused on my misery and grumbling, but everything in these verses is so outwardly focused. 

Not only is it outwardly focused, but it is intrinsically good.

Instead of grumbling, David is offering up gratitude.  He repeats the word "Praise" three times.  He is actively thanking God for all of his blessings.  He is not dismissing or forgetting all the benefits that have come from His hand.  He is thanking and praising God from the depths of his soul.

Could outward gratitude be the antidote for inward grumbling???

I am then struck by God's outward and good deeds toward David.  David names several  action verbs that are outward and good intentioned...

He forgives all my sins, and heals all my diseases, He redeems me from the pit, and He crowns me with love and compassion. He satisfies my desires, and He renews my youth.

This makes me pause and think...if I were to tally my words of grumbling vs. my words of gratitude, how would I make out?  What would the tally reveal?  I believe it would reveal that...

An inwardly focused soul can be no outwardly good....and...

God is, indeed, good and I need to remember to thank and praise Him.

I am also struck by verse 8 and I read it over slowly emphasizing certain words...

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

Unlike me, whose compassion toward, and love for my dog can quickly turn to irritation and resentment, God is not like that.  Let me say it again...

God is not like me...Praise! 

God's compassion never stops's endless.  His grace never dries's a perpetual pool.  He is ALWAYS slow to anger...never losing His temper.  God is abounding in love...His kindness toward me never fails.

Before I come down too hard on myself, I read verses 13 and 14:

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who revere him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

What a relief to know that God has compassion on me...because He truly knows what a frail mortal I am. 

He knows that I am dust.

So where does this all leave me??  It is getting harder and harder to be outwardly focused on others.  It's getting more difficult to show compassion and love toward the weak.  Grumbling vs. gratitude continues to come from my lips.

I pray for my sweet baby girl to pass in her sleep because I don't want to have to make this decision. 

I want to have God's depth of love and compassion...but I don't want to play God...

So I pray for the strength and wisdom to deal with what is at the core of my grumbling.  I pray for the ability to show gratitude in the midst of trials. 

Life is not always black or white...sometimes pain and gratitude need to coexist. 

I pray for patience to let this be so, in my life, right now.

So I will offer up a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.  I will ask for God's wisdom which He promises me.  I will sit with and celebrate the sweet companion God has given me for the past 14 years. 

And when the time is right...I will pray her on....

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for leading me lovingly to your word when I am struggling.  I praise you and thank you for your never ending grace, compassion, and lovingkindness toward me.  I am so thankful that you are not like me...Your ways are so much higher.  I can't even comprehend the depth of Your love toward me.  Where there is confusion in my life, give me Your wisdom.  When my heart is grumbling, bring to mind gifts to be grateful for. More than anything, Lord, give me Your peace that passes understanding.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

ps. I am seeking compassionate hearts to bring some measure of joy to the orphans and destitute children who find refuge at Redeemer Christian School in Pakistan.  I have trouble picturing a child not getting a single gift for Christmas.  Will you help me bring a gift to each of our 30 precious children this year?  A Gift of only $25. will make that happen.  We are still a ways off from making this a reality and I'm asking for your help.  One Christmas meal.  You can make that happen...

Please send contributions soon to:

Bev Rihtarchik (put RCS in the memo line)
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513

PRAISE: for our attorney who is a godsend and walking us through the filing process for 501c3 non-profit status.  God is indeed good!

For more on Redeemer Christian School visit my "MISSIONS" tab.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Have You Ever Been Persecuted For Your Faith?

Hey Friend,

It troubles me, in this world, how much we persecute each other for differences.  It is pure cowardice that says I can harass you or harm you because you are of a different race, ethnicity, political mindset, religious belief, or just plain different from me. 

Being able to hide behind social media devices contributes to this.  What begins as somewhat innocent name calling, morphs into bullying, and in it's grossest form can be what starts wars.  We don't seem to have learned much from history either.  Unfortunately what we don't remember, we are doomed to repeat. 

I have never been persecuted for my faith.  The worst I received was jeeringly being called "the littlest angel" by mean girls on the cheerleading squad because I hurried off after practice to get to my church youth group meetings.  Lately, however, being categorized as a "Christian" has taken on a somewhat derogatory meaning.  It means I am close-minded, not enlightened, and puritanical. 

Still, I don't fear going to church on Sunday.  I can carry around my Bible in public and no one really cares.  I can wear a cross around my neck or sing off-key to Christian praise music with my car windows down and basically nothing happens.  It's a non-event. I am guilty of taking my religious freedom for granted.

Not so in other parts of the world.  I can't speak for all countries in the Middle East, but I do know of some particular events in Pakistan.  Most of the atrocities are carried out by extremists...but many turn a blind eye.  Christians make up less than 1.5% of the population in this country.  I admit I do not know what it feels like to be such a radical minority.

If you carry around a Bible in public, you can be accused of violating the "blasphemy laws" and be locked in jail and the key thrown away.  You fear going to church or any type of Christian gathering because suicide bombers have showed up and have detonated lethal amounts of explosives on themselves killing and maiming hundreds and thousands. 

A beautiful young Christian couple who refused to denounce Christ as their Savior was forced into a kiln and slowly incinerated inside.  A youth who was asked if he was a Christian, dared to say, "Yes".  He was then doused with petroleum and set ablaze in broad daylight in the city streets.  The authorities did nothing.

"For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it."  (Matthew 16:25)

 Christians are employed, generally, in the lowest and most menial positions if at all.  Their children work as slaves for other wealthy families because their parents, though they try, can't support them. 

If you are a Christian you live with a target on your back...

Not unlike when the Nazis painted the Star of David symbol on the houses of Jews during WWII, Islamic extremists paint the Arabic symbol for "N" or Nazarene on the fronts of houses where Christians live.

Can you imagine the fear of returning to your home to see this symbol in blood red paint on the front of your home?  I can only imagine that it must be terrifying. I ask myself...would I be willing to die for my beliefs???

Sunday, November 1st, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

I invite you to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are persecuted and tortured because they know what it truly means to pick up their cross and follow Jesus. Will you pray with me for them?  Will you pray for an end to the persecution, the hatred, the war that has broken out because the world has failed to follow the Lord's greatest commandment of Love Others As You Love Yourself.

On Sunday, I will be wearing this traditional Pakistani dress, or kameez, with its beautiful embroidery as a symbol of standing in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world and in Pakistan in particular.

 So what can you do on this day in addition to praying?  You can let a small group of orphaned and destitute children who are growing in their relationship with Jesus and claim Him as their Savior know that Jesus, and others, have not forgotten them.  You can be a messenger of love, and light, and hope that their faith is not in vain...that God does, indeed, care.

I invite you to my "Missions" tab to see how $25 can bring Christmas to these precious and innocent believers in a world where all they see is persecution.  Because of their poverty, this will most likely be the only gift the children of Redeemer Christian School receive this Christmas.  Will you join me in letting them know that Jesus sees them and loves them? (Please send contributions by Nov. 10th).

Dear Heavenly Father, Forgive me Lord for the times that I do not love others as much as I love myself.  Be with our world that is filled with prejudice and persecution.  Where there is hate, let me be an instrument of your love.  Be with my brothers and sisters in Christ who are tortured because of their devotion to You.  Heal our hearts and heal our world.  Let me share love with the "least of these" so that they know that they are not forgotten.  Thank you, Lord, for your love and the hope that can only be found in You.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Song Of Praise To The Rock Of My Salvation

Hey Friend,

This week I am trying something a little different.  I am no poet, or lyricist, or songwriter.  All I know is that sometimes when our heart is hurting it is good to dig deep and offer up a song or psalm of praise to Jesus, the rock or our salvation.  I ask you to kindly overlook poor grammar, lousy syntax, and punctuation errors as I attempt to just see where my heart and my hands will take me as I meditate on Jesus....the Rock. 

Let me first start with my "life verse" (a psalm by David):

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and be in awe and put their trust in the Lord.  (Psalm 40: 1-3)

O Lord, how many times have you lifted me out of the shifting and sinking sands known as anxiety, depression, and despair?  Since my youth, you have faithfully stretched out your righteous right hand...grabbed hold of mine and pulled me out.  When the only words I could cry out were, "Help me Jesus" You listened. 

 You heard my cry. As hot tears burned my cheeks and my face hid in a pillow you lifted me. Gently you turned my face toward yours. Out of the mud and mire you drew me unto yourself.  You washed me clean and put my feet, not on slippery sand, but on a solid and secure rock.  You gave me strength when I was faint.  You gently held me like a helpless lamb in your strong arms until, once again, I was able to stand.

More than I could ever dream or imagine you restored joy to my soul.  From the grave of weeping you pulled me out and restored hope to my dying soul.  I never thought that joy could spring forth again...but You, O Lord are able to do the impossible.  You are faithful to your promise that though weeping endures for the JOY comes in the morning. 

For I proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! "The Rock!  His work is perfect, for all his ways are just; a God of faithfulness without injustice, righteous and upright is he."  (Deuteronomy 32: 3-4)

On my own I am struggling, straining, striving, sinking, sorrowing.  But You, Lord...You are my rock...the Rock of my Salvation.  You save me, you shelter me, you sustain me, you shield me, you give me safety, you give me strength.  You are my Savior. 

Jesus, just like God lifted Joseph from the pit, He lifted you from the pit of Hell and fixed you firmly and eternally.  Together with you I stand on the same elevated, sure, and everlasting rock of divine favor and faithfulness.  Praise to God that He has lifted us all.  In His divine mercy he doesn't leave us in our resurrects us to new life in you. 

Though the enemy prowls about looking to destroy me...You, Jesus are my Rock.  You are my fortress, my deliverer, my refuge, my redeemer, my restorer, my stronghold, my shield.  I claim you as the horn of my salvation. 

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, you save me from violence."  (2 Samuel 22:2-3)

O Lord, when your children Israel came out of Egypt and were parched in the desert, you burst forth living water from a rock to quench their thirst.  So many times I have been in the desert.  A desert of sorrow, or fear, or confusion, or doubt, but yet O faithful one you bring forth water from the rock to satisfy my needs. 

 You don't just sprinkle me in your love and living you pour down on me like a thunderous waterfall.  You drench me in your love and in your vast pool of mercy I am soaked...soaked by the blood of the lamb who died for me...soaked in the endless stream of love and mercy and grace.  Your grace falls on me fresh and cold and life giving. Thank you Lord for the water you generously give me from the rock that saved Israel.

When the enemy pursues me with his ominous shadow of guilt and shame.  You hide me Lord, in the cleft of your rock.  There and only there I am safe.  I am hidden from the evil one and you will not let him touch me.  No, in you I am safe and secure.  You will never forsake me nor let me go.  I praise you that your promises are true and trustworthy. You will not let shame claim me.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.  (Isaiah 26:4)

When I am weary and worn, you my Lord and my rock, hide me in the refuge of your wings.  I rest my tired head upon your rock and you cover me ever so gently with your feathers.  You wrap me in love, and security blankets me as I fall ever so securely asleep in you presence. You are warm and gentle. Your presence gives me peace. 

You are my rock and my fortress in all life's storms.  No matter how high the waters rise...your rock that I stand upon stands even higher.  So true you are to the promise that you will never let the waters sweep over me.  The storms and waves may swirl about me...but my feet stand firm and secure upon you O Lord.

You are not only the are the cornerstone, Jesus, of my faith.  You are the foundation and you are the capstone.  You are the Alpha and the Omega.  When the world wants to crush my faith...they can't because you are strong and keep my faith standing firm. You, O my rock, crush the shackles that bind me and I am set free to dance in your delight. 

You give me purpose, passion, pleasure, peace and you and you alone make me perfect. 

Behold, a King will reign righteously and princes will rule justly.  Each will be like a refuge from the wind and a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry country, like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land.  (Isaiah 32: 1-2)

You, O Lord, bore the storm so that by me it would pass and I would be spared.  How ever do I thank you?  How often can I praise your name that would be worthy of the love you have lavished upon me.  O for a thousand tongues to sing your praises Lord. 

 O that I could build altars for every time you have rescued me, saved me and brought me THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death.  You never left me you bring me through.  You lead me beside the still waters and you make me lie down in your green pastures.  Thank you Lord, my rock, for restoring my soul over and over again.  

I can never ever thank you enough for what you have done for me.  Even if you never do another single thing for will be enough that you set me free from sin.  You paid the price.  You and you alone.  It is finished. 

I am yours...O Lord, my rock...the rock of my salvation...

Be blessed...

An invitation to spread Christmas Joy...
Will you join with me in bringing Christmas Joy to Redeemer Christian School in Lahore, Pakistan?  What we provide will, most likely, be the only gift that these children will receive this Christmas.  $25 will provide one child with a warm article of clothing, a small toy/gift, and a warm and hearty Christmas meal.  **$$ needed by November 15, to bring Christmas Joy**

Here are some of the faces of the students (orphans and impoverished children) who will have joyous smiles due to your generosity this Christmas season...if you decide to give.

We also have children on a waiting list hoping for sponsors...$10/Month will take one child off the streets and bring them into the safety of the classroom. Would you consider sponsoring one child for one year? 

$25 for Christmas or $10/month for sponsorship:

Send contributions to:  Bev Rihtarchik (put RCS in the memo line)
                                      103 Silver Lining Lane
                                      Cary, NC  27513

Visit the "Missions" tab on this blog for more information on RCS.

**In process of filing for 501c3 registration**

Thank you...may God richly bless you...