Thursday, August 27, 2015

You Are Where I Belong

Hey Friend,
I have been reading so many blogs, articles, and books that talk about how to get off the hustle-bustle, hectic rat-race treadmill we call life and find time for God.  Writers talk about gaining freedom from the hustled and hurried heart, and finding spiritual whitespace, and giving our soul room to breathe. This is all true.
I love what good friend and writer, Kelly Balarie said in one of her recent posts, "A busy heart doesn't sit down well with a still God."
Yet we strive on, doing and performing, and offering up the work of our hands in a glory-offering to God and we talk about needing to make time for God in our busy lives.
What if we took this whole notion and flipped it on it's head??
What if we viewed coming into God's presence as a privilege instead of an obligation item on our daily checklist?
Every time I go through one of my surgeries and recuperation periods, God brings some new revelation to me.  Why? because the stillness and inability to get around and out-run God, forces me to come into His holy presence and spend time there.  You want to know what I discovered this time?
My heart has a built in longing for God's glory that only time with Him can fulfill
It's been a long, long time since I have been truly overcome by God's presence
In days of old it was an honor and privilege (that few received) to get an audience with the King.  To be able to bend the King's ear with your ideas, grievances, hopes, and fears or concerns was...well...practically unheard of.  Few if any got to take their thoughts directly to the King. 
In the days of Israel, before Jesus' death, the temple was at the center of town.  The Temple court had three distinct parts.  There was the outer court where all were permitted.  Then there was The Holy Place into which only the ministering priest could enter, and last of all was the Holy of Holies.  This was the innermost sanctuary of the temple into which only the high priest was permitted to go once a year on the Day of Atonement.  A heavy veil hung down to separate the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple.  It was death to any man (even the high priest) if he dared to enter the Holy of Holies on one of the other 364 days of the year. 

To say there was a reverence for God was clearly an understatement.  People longed to draw close to God, but because of our sinfulness and His pure holiness, we could not look upon His glorious face. 

God, in His quest to restore relationship with His people, did the unspeakable.  The almighty creator of the universe who spoke the world and the stars into place, who wove us each uniquely together in our mothers' wombs, the Father who sent His one and only precious son to die a horrendous death so that we would be able to approach His throne, made the ultimate sacrifice one can make so that we, mankind, would have free access to God our Heavenly Father.

Listen to what happened the moment Jesus died and yielded up His spirit on the cross:
And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks split. (Matthew 27:51)

The veil that had separated God from man was forever split.  Thanks to Jesus Christ, we could now have access to God whenever we wanted to. Jesus' blood spilled so I could step into God's very presence and I find myself hard pressed to fit in time for Him some days???

Don't get me wrong though, God is not about guilt trips!!!  He is ALL about relationships.  No, this is not a guilt trip...just the opposite... it's an invitation to be lifted up, breathed into, and transported from the ordinary into the extraordinary.

In my quiet time, I have realized that too often I have been satisfied with a tootsie roll when God wanted me to have a Godiva bar.

I seek the autographs of mere men, yet I don't have adequate time for the God who writes my name on the palm of His hand.

God is right there, waiting, every moment of every day, at every breath we take...waiting to be invited in.  What King waits to be invited in?  Should we not be running to sit at His holy feet?

Behold, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:4)

What King do you know that keeps his drive through window open 24/7?  Yet we fail to come.

When was the last time you were truly overcome by God's presence that it took you to your knees?

When was the last time you danced because you stood whisper distance away from God's heart for you?

When was the last time you felt like you were where you truly His lovely dwelling place for you?

God is where I belong and my soul is not satisfied with anything less.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O, Lord.  (Psalm 84:1)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his holy name.  (Psalm 100:4)

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.  (Psalm 84:10)

Reverence, Humility, Thankfulness, Gratitude, Privilege, Honor, Worship

I have realized that these have all been missing from my life.  God continually invites me into His Gloriousness and I have, for too long, been too busy.  With conviction not condemnation I am being reawakened to the fact that in God's presence is where I belong.  O how He lifts my head when I call His name. What joy fills my heart in His presence.  What a privilege it is to bring my prayers, pleas, and worship before Him.  In God, my soul is transported.  No other "high" can touch this! 

Something I once tried to fit in...I now realize I can't live without!

Dear Lord,  I praise you that you lovingly usher me into your presence.  Let me never take it for granted again.  Thank you for reminding me that it is in your presence that I belong and what a privilege and a sacrifice it was to make that happen.  Humble my heart Lord and let the fire in my heart that burns for you never be snuffed out by the busyness of this world.  Thank you that no matter the time of day nor how far I roam, you are always a whisper away from being with me.  Let me enter you courts with praise and not miss the loveliness of your presence.  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Be in His almighty presence today... 

ps.  Just a reminder that I pray for everyone who reads my blog in the morning and in the evening.  I am honored and humbled to bring the hope that is within me before you.  If I can pray for you more specifically, don't hesitate to email me.
"Missions Tab"
Please check out the children waiting to be sponsored for the upcoming school year at RCS in Pakistan. Just $10/month will see them through the upcoming year.

  With the evil that prowls around waiting to devour, we do not ever want to have to turn any child away.  Please join me on my "Missions" page for children waiting to be sponsored.  Will you prayerfully consider giving them the joy of Jesus and the hope that an education provides??

Monday, August 17, 2015

Thirsting For Living Water

Hey Friend,
It's good to be "back in the saddle" and writing again.  Actually, due to surgery, there's not much I can do but write while I'm on the disabled list.  In this post, I would like to take you back to Kiawah Island, SC (in my ambulatory days) and tell you the story of the Miracle at Beach Access # 17.
I was blessed to be able to tag along on my husband's trip to a business conference in Kiawah.  While he was getting ready for his early morning sessions, I would lace up my sneakers and walk out to the beach to catch God's breathtaking greeting to me each morning. 
This morning started out much like the others.  The tide was out and so there was a wide stretch of beach that was shared with the few other early birds like myself...a lone fisherman casting in the surf, a bicyclist getting in his early exercise, lone walkers clutching their precious coffee, and my photographer friend who came each morning because the truth is, no two sunrises are exactly alike.
This morning, Dale, the photographer, was just hanging out on the #17 boardwalk access to the beach. 
"You waiting for the perfect sunrise?" I cheerily inquired. 
"No, waiting for the turtle patrol to come back, " he responded.  "They are going to dig up this turtle nest that has passed its maturation date."
At that point, I was totally intrigued!  I was all in.  I walked the beach in front of the access point, pacing like a mother hen - back and forth - for about a half hour until the turtle patrol made its way to the nest they were going to dig up.
Every spring the loggerhead turtles lay their nests out of the tide's reach at the edge of the dunes.  Each nest contains approximately 120-130 eggs.  Thanks to years of training and close observation, the turtle patrol covers, protects, marks, and dates each nest according to its predicted maturation date (approx. 2 months) from the date of laying the nest. 
Because the mother turtles abandon their nests after laying them, it is up to the baby turtles, with their will to survive, to successfully emerge from the nest. 
Under 18-24 inches of sand, can you imagine 120 babies all vying for life and heading toward the light of day?
That's kind of how I feel some days.  Like a baby turtle, struggling toward the light, yet being weighed down by life's burdens - the sand, the broken eggs, the weight of other people all scrambling for the same exit.  What are the odds of survival??
My focus became more intense as I watched, Jim, 22 year veteran on the turtle patrol begin to carefully and slowly dig, with only his hand, down to the belly of the nest.  After multiple handfuls of sand, then came handfuls of broken eggs (evidence of survivors who had made it out of the nest).  Sadly, too, the handfuls revealed dead babies who had perhaps gotten trapped or stuck in the exodus frenzy. 
At that point I was vividly reminded of the Parable of the Lost Sheep.  In Luke, chapter 15, verses 1-7, Jesus tells the story of the lost sheep.  He tells of the good shepherd who has accounted for 99 of his 100 sheep.  Instead of being satisfied with 99%, the good shepherd goes searching for that one lost sheep and doesn't stop until He finds it.  When He finally finds it, He hoists the scared lamb on his shoulders and calls all his friends together to rejoice with Him that the lost sheep has been found. 

 With each painstaking handful of sand that came up, I found myself praying for life...praying for a survivor...praying for the lost sheep (turtle).  How gentle Jim was.  Much like Jesus' style he kept patiently digging and searching.  Time ticked away and hope began to grow dim.  Cracked eggs and dead turtles seemed to be the only remains. 
Then I saw bigger than the palm of my hand...flippers waving frantically in the air trying to swim...LIFE!!
This sole survivor of the nest had been buried alive, stuck and struggling to get out of the pit, trapped and weighed down. 
He needed a hand because he couldn't do it on his own.  He was lost, but now he was found.
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 fear and put their trust in the Lord.  (Psalm 40 1-3)
The goose bumps flushed over my skin.  The first instinct of this small band of onlookers was to clap, high-5, and rejoice over this little life that was found.  In my mind, I named him Stuart Little after one of my literary underdog favorites in children's books. 
"You go, Stuart,"  I said under my breath.  Suddenly I had a sense of how the angels must feel when another sinner is saved and found.  Stuart being found, sinners being saved - they are both miracles.  And who says that God is not still in the business of making miracles happen???  With the rejoicing I experienced over Stuart, I got a wee glimpse of how much God must rejoice when I chose Jesus to be my Savior.  I worshipped and gave thanks that morning to the beautiful chorus of the waves methodically crashing upon the shore. 
Salvation, saving, and being found are a miraculous chorus that never stops playing. 

So Stuart had been found...what now?  Jim instructed us to make a little corridor  - kind of like cheerleaders on either side of a marathon finish line.  Our job was to keep the hungry sea birds from swooping down and getting him. 
"He needs to see and sense the water,"  Jim told us. 
I was a little unconvinced until Jim gently set Stuart down and sure enough he began heading for the water.  God had programmed in this little guy that life would be found if he simply headed toward the water.  Living Water...hmmm...where had I heard that before?
"Where's he headed to?" the photographer asked?
"Oh, he'll head out about 5 miles to a turtle feeding ground,"  Jim explained. 
"Gosh, if he has to go that far, he'll never make it," another voice chimed in.  "Why doesn't someone just take him out the 5 miles and drop him off to insure that he gets there?"
"It's all part of the process,"  Jim patiently replied. "He must learn, grow strong, and mature.  It's all part of God's plan."
Just to show you that God thinks of turtles are born with a little nourishment sac on their bellies.  They nurse off this sac during their 5 mile trek.  Once there, they will feed off seaweed and other nourishment God provides.  Isn't it just like God to pack his son's lunch for the journey that lies ahead!
Meanwhile Stuart was going just as fast as his flippers would take him - making a bee line for the water.  I felt God whispering in my ear again.
I was reminded of how in John 7 Jesus reminds us that He, Himself, is the source of Living Water.  He extends an invitation to all who thirst to come.
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." (John 7:37)
"He (Jesus) will guide them and lead them beside living water."  (said about Jesus in Isaiah 49:10).
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."  (Matthew 5:6)
**Many times Jesus tells us that the satisfaction of spiritual thirst can only be found in Him.
water = life for Stuart the turtle
Living Water (Jesus) = life for you and for me
I didn't need a preacher talking to me during a sunrise beach service, God was doing an awesome job of just bringing it to me, full throttle, right then and there.
Jumping up and down, cheering Stuart on toward the surf, I saw why water is a very rich symbol in Jewish writings.  God even calls Himself "the spring of living water." in Jeremiah.
As I watched Stuart, never stopping, press on toward the water that was life to him, I thought of how David cried out to God in Psalm 61:
"Oh God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." 

You know, Stuart and I are not too unlike each other.  We both earnestly yearn, seek, thirst, and pant in desperation for Living Water. 
Both of our tired, battle-weary souls needed the cleansing, calming, quenching, life-giving water that flows from the throne of God.  Our very lives depended upon it.  Others may not classify this as a miracle, but the "Tale of Stuart" is a modern day parable of how God provides for all of his creatures.  If He goes to such great lengths to save Stuart, how much more will he go to great lengths to secure the salvation of His children?
Stuart reminded me of the holy yearnings of the human soul.  
I know that my soul will not be entirely satiated until some point in the future when I am at home living with God.  In the meantime, He gives me the Holy Spirit and miracles like the "Tale of Stuart" to help quench my thirst for Him.
So thankful that Christ gave me a helping hand out of the pits I have found myself in.  Like I watched Stuart, may others look at my life and see, be in awe, and put their trust in God.
May my soul never stop thirsting after Him...
  Dear Heavenly Father,  I thank you for the miracle and the modern-day parable of Stuart the turtle.  Thank you that you have placed a desire in my heart and soul that will only be quenched by Your Living Water.  Let me not be satisfied with what this world offers, but let me continue to yearn and seek after You - where my true satisfaction can be found.  Thank you for loving me enough that you sent your Son to save me - to lift me out of the pit, the mud, and the mire.  Put a new song in my mouth that sings of Your glory.  Help me lead others to your life-giving, living water.  May my eyes be always open to Your miracles.  In Jesus' loving name I pray,  Amen.
Be blessed...How about you?  Has God shown you any miracles lately or have you been too busy to notice?
ps.  As we begin a new school year at Redeemer Christian School, we are trying to find sponsors for our current students - insuring that they will be covered for the upcoming year.  If we can do this, we then have the hope of adding new students who desperately want to come to school but have no  means to do so...
$10/month will keep one child in school for the upcoming year.  If you can't provide for one year, could you provide for half a year?  ($60) 3 months? ($30).
If so, send checks to:  Bev Rihtarchik (put RCS and your email in memo line).                           103 Silver Lining Lane
                                  Cary, NC  27513
or email me:
Here are some things current students have been saying about RCS. YOU have been a part of making this happen...Praise!!
Nisha:  "I never thought this would happen in my life...that I would have a chance to go to school. This school is full of love, joy, and peace."
Salman:  "My father is a poor person. He does not even earn enough to feed us so it was not possible for me to study in school.  This school has opened the door of blessings for us."
Fiza:  " I remember my first day at RCS.  I received books and a notebook free of cost.  This is the best gift ever for me, but the best gift of all for me was my own Bible.  I love RCS because I can pray here easily."
Sidra: "Thank all those who gave me my Bible.  I can read my Bible for myself and I even read it for my family in my home."
Rosaline: "Not only do I learn to read and write and formal education, but RCS has taught me how merciful is our Lord Jesus Christ.  I love singing worship songs in school."
All agreed that RCS is a safe and secure place, filled with love and compassion, a refuge from the reality that lies outside its doors. Thank you...


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Out Of Order

Hey Friend,
I am posting this a day early because tomorrow (my usual day for posting) I will be in surgery for several hours.  Just like the gas pump, the public bathroom, or the soda machine, I will have a white, hand-scribbled note taped to me that says "Out of Order". 
I covet your prayers as I undergo my third major surgery in less than three years.  I admit that I am weary and tired of pain, but I look forward, with hopeful anticipation, to potentially being free of some of this pain.  I am also a wee bit curious as to what God will do in my life during this extended recuperation time. 
You see, in 2013, when I was about to go stir crazy after my first knee surgery, God whispered...okay, shouted to me, "Go back to your love of writing!"  My degree, some thirty years ago, was in English and Communications.  I loved to write and what better subject to write about than my first love - my Lord.  My blog began during that "desert" time in my life and now reaches people around the globe. I am proof that God can do great things with broken vessels and cracked pots.
Through my blog and international connections, I fell in love with some precious and innocent orphans and destitute children in the epicenter of evil that is the Middle East.  Where better to raise the banner of Christ's Love than in the enemy's territory??  You could say, what began with knee surgery wound up starting a Christian school (Redeemer Christian School) that seeks to answer God's command to serve and protect the "least of these" and to share the love of Jesus with those who most need to hear it. 
So, I wonder, what will God be up to this time??  What is He going to whisper in my ear?  How will He move the Spirit who dwells in me to move and do His good will...I firmly believe the best is yet to come!
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:6)
God began this good work in me and I have every confidence that He will see it through to completion.  We don't reach our point of "arrival" on this side of Heaven.  Until Christ comes again, I know God will continue to use me if I will just do Him the kind favor of getting myself out of the way lol.
Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
If there's one thing I know about Jesus, it is this...Jesus doesn't play it safe.  Oh no, He goes with love and power where others fear to tread.  Knowing He is the author AND the finisher of my faith, I am confident that I am in for a wild ride!
I hope you will join me on this next leg (no pun intended) of my journey with Christ and what He might have in store for me and through me?!  I promised you a story of a miracle last week, but you may have to wait until post-op and the anesthesia wears off.  I hope to be back to writing next week because I certainly won't be going anywhere.
Meanwhile I invite you to read, re-read, and hopefully share this previous post of mine.  Though my pain may be great, the pain Christ endured for me was a million times greater and He wants to take the Good News of Salvation, for which He gave His life, into all the corners of the world.  Will you help and serve Him?
Dear Heavenly Father,  I thank you and I praise you that you love me so much that you gave up your son for me.  The thought of sacrificially giving up one of my own precious children for callous sinners is beyond my comprehension.  Enable me to begin to grasp the depth of your love and to be willing to go to great sacrificial lengths to pass your love on to others.  Shelter me in the refuge of your wings and continue to grow and perfect my faith until that wonderful day when Jesus comes again.  In the precious name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.
Be blessed...
ps. For those of you who live close by to me...I would love visitors...the first 3 weeks it's hard to go much of anywhere because I can't put any weight at all on the knee/leg that was operated on.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

No Choice But To Press On

Hey Friend,
I realized today, yet again, that I truly don't "get" it all.  Lying there as still as I could, my body slid into the long narrow tube.  Thankfully, my head remained sticking out, or otherwise they would have had to have given me valium to put me all the way in.  I know this because I've been there.  I'm very claustrophobic. 
I glanced up and caught the name SIEMENS as my focal point.  The giant donut I was in was clacking out all sorts of loud, cosmic, Star Wars type sounds.  Not very calming to the soul. 
The kind radiology technician asked me what kind of music I would like to listen to since the cosmic cacophony would grow louder over the next fifteen minutes or so.  I chose Christian music.  While the noised clattered on around me, I breathed in the words of the songs I was listening to.  Some were new to me, but one was an older song by Building 429.  Fitting to my situation, it's called "Press On". 
As I look ahead to a very probable third surgery in less than three years, I confess... I don't understand.  As I lay there, the lyrics rose up from my soul as a sort of prayer to God.  I'd like to share them with you because they really resonated with me...

I am a mess; I am a wrecking ball
I must confess that I still don't get it all
Lord, I believe that all Your words are true
Doesn't matter where I'm going
If I'm going with You
I press on
I press on
I press on
When I still don't get it all
Life goes on...
All I need I will find in You
I am a mess.  I don't understand why?  I'm tired of pain.  But I can raise the banner that says, "I have received the greatest gift of all...the gift of salvation!"
I claim the Lord's promise:
My grace is sufficient for you,
for My power is made perfect in weakness.
(2 Corinthians 12:9)
I do know one thing, and that is that I would love for some very poor, destitute, orphaned, and forgotten children in Pakistan to be able to raise that same banner.  I want them to have the gift of salvation!  My scars will heal, but theirs may not unless we help.
I also want them to have one of the few things that will give them a possible leg up and out of the terrible pit they are in, and that is the gift of an education.  Their life right now is hard labor, or roaming the evil streets because they cannot afford an education. 
Their future is more of the same or possibly being sold into slavery or snatched to be a sex slave.  It's a future that none of us can even begin to fathom for our children.  But, these are our children because they are God's children.  Many times in the Bible God commands us to provide a refuge for the widows and the orphans.  He calls us not to turn a blind eye to the least of these. 
I am asking you, pleading with you, to consider sponsoring one of these children for one year at Redeemer Christian School.
Just $10/month will get them off the streets, out of harms way, and more than anything, give them the love of Jesus and the hope of an education and a future.  You can pay in installments over the year.
If a full year is too much...would you consider a half a year?  That's $60.
Meet Rosaline
Rosaline is just 8 years old.  She is the youngest of five sisters.  She loves Redeemer Christian and wants to be able to stay here.  Realistically, getting an education with us is her only shot at a better life. Women, without an education, are the lowest of the low in this part of the world. If we had additional funds, her sisters would also like to come  to RCS rather than work to survive. Would you consider sponsoring her?
Meet Salman
 Salman is 7 years old.  He does not want to go back to having to slave away to make bricks for a pittance. We are thankful that he is within the doors of Redeemer Christian and not down the street at one of the jihad seminaries.  Will you give him a fighting chance at life with an education?  He is growing in his love of Jesus...what great things he can do with his life with your help!
This is the passion that stirs my heart.  I want these kids to know that His grace is sufficient for them too.  If, like me, they don't get life sometimes (and their hopeless world is so far removed from my comfy world), they will "get" that they have the greatest gift of all - the gift of salvation!
Please prayerfully consider sponsoring one of these or one of the many other children to keep them in school with us.  Contributions can be sent to:
Bev Rihtarchik (put RCS in the memo line)
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC  27513
or contact me at:
**Note RCS is not yet a 501c3 registered organization.  The legal fees are cost prohibitive at this point.  Every penny is guaranteed to go to the have my promise.
Hopefully, I'll be back full force next week with an amazing story of witnessing one of God's miracles.  Meanwhile...
Be blessed...