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**