Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Lord, I Want A New Name

Hey Friend,

Lately, I've been intrigued with how, in the Bible, God and Jesus were continually giving people new names.  I've wondered - what's with all this new name giving?  Why do they do this?

Just a few characters in the "change of name parade" are:  Paul, Abraham, Sarah, Peter, Jacob, and Joshua.  Most of the changes are positive...but not always. 

Going all the way back in the Old Testament, God gave Abram (which meant many or multitude) the new name Abraham.  

"Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called friend of God.  (James 2:23)

God called him Abraham because he was a friend to him.  God and Abraham shared a closeness and trust that only true friends share.  Abraham was loyal and dependable - certainly traits you want to have in a friend.

God often changed names to describe some NEW characteristic of a person.

The first thing Andrew did after deciding to follow Jesus was to find his brother Simon and tell him.  "We have found the Messiah" (that is the Christ).  And he brought him to Jesus.  

Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John.  You will be called Cephas" (which translated, is Peter).   (John 1: 41-42)

"Cephas is Aramaic for "rock".  Jesus was calling Peter a rock - a rock on which He would build his church.

Ironically, Peter was anything but a rock; he was impulsive and unstable.  Yet, in Acts, he was a pillar of the early church.

Jesus named him not for what he was, but for what, by God's grace, he would become.

The last example I'll share is Jacob.  Deep-seated family hostilities characterized Jacob's life.  Jacob was considered by some to be ruthless.  He was a con artist, a liar, and a manipulator.  In fact, the name Jacob not only means "deceiver," but more literally it means "grabber."

Jacob tried to flee his troubles in Laban, but only more trouble lay up ahead. Jacob was a man full of fears and anxieties.  Jacob was struggling with fear, darkness, loneliness, vulnerability, empty feelings of powerlessness, exhaustion, depression, and relentless pain....anything sound familiar??? 

At one point Jacob falls fast asleep in the wilderness and that night an angelic stranger visited Jacob.  They wrestled throughout the night until daybreak.  It was then that Jacob knew what had happened:  "I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."  (Genesis 32:30)

In the process Jacob was given a new name - Israel - which means "He struggles or wrestles with God."

So what do all these stories have in common?  

When we encounter God...and I mean a "Saul-get-knocked-off-his- horse-on-the-road-to-Damascus" type of encounter...God gives us a new name. (Like he gave Paul).

When we encounter God/Jesus we are FOREVER changed...we are a new creation.

By God's grace we become something more than we already are.  God sees our potential.

Abraham believed God.  He trusted in the impossible.

Peter, through encountering God's grace, became the Rock on which the church was built.

Jacob struggled and wrestled with God.  His blessing inevitably followed the struggle.  Real growth experience often involves struggle and pain.

I am so very thankful that God is patient with me to go from disbelief to trust (Abraham)...He sees my potential and not my ineptitude (Peter)...and He's big enough to handle my fears, doubts, anxieties, and emptiness, and after I've wrestled with Him, he will give me a new name like Israel.

Oh, Lord, I want a new name.  I want to encounter you so closely, so personally, so utterly real that I cannot help but be changed.  

Lord, see the potential in me and call me out of my self doubt into a new awareness of my identity in you.

Lord may I wrestle with you as I confront my doubts, fears, and anxieties and after awhile, may you give me a gloriously new name like Israel.

For kicks, I looked up what my name, Beverly meant.  I was not too thrilled when the etymology revealed that "Beverly" is Old English for "beaver stream".  

Not too impressed, I read on...the beaver is the 2nd largest rodent in the world. (Really not impressed).  

He is an industrious builder of dams....okay, I'm industrious and I like to build things larger than myself...getting better.

As a child before braces, I kind of had buck teeth like a beaver and I'm sort of squishy around the middle like beavers are lol.

I don't know what new name God will give me???  But I DO know that by encountering God and His Son on a deeply personal level - perhaps encounters that involve struggle and pain - there is a conversion and a transformation. Behold I am a new creation - the old is gone!!

Through the gift of surrender, true freedom is found.  By cashing in the old, I allow God to lead me in the potential way that He has always seen in me.

By coming face to face with God, it builds my endurance, my faith, my trust, my courage, and my character.  

He sets me free of my fears and anxieties...in His power.

What new name is God calling you to?  What potential lies below your imperfect surface?  What are you wrestling with that God wants to bring a blessing from?

Let us pray together:  Oh Lord, give me a new name!!  And all His people said, "Amen."

Be blessed...
ps.  Redeemer Christian School Celebrates 2nd Birthday!!

We've maxed out of our current facility with 50 children...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

How To Interpret God's Silence

Hey Friend,

I've heard it said that the Teacher (God) is silent during the test.  I'll revisit this thought in a moment, but for now let's go with that theory.

I'll tell you where my mind goes...straight back to Jr. High in Miss McDowell's English class.  Miss McDowell was an older teacher - an institution at Jefferson Jr. High School.  She was rather tall and quite sturdy.  Everyday she wore dresses, matronly pumps, and fiery red lipstick on her pursed lips.  

When she administered a test, there was no talking...no sirreeee.  There was no asking questions.  Even muffled paper shuffling would make per pause and peer over her reading glasses as she sat at her desk in front of the class.  "Is there a problem Mr. Johnson?" she'd ask with the warmth of the Spanish Inquisition.

I think sometimes that's how we perceive God when we are going through a time of trial or a test.  I know I have looked at Him that way in the past.

God is not a crotchety, silent teacher administering tests and waiting for us to fail.

My view of God has shifted over the years as I have come to believe the Truth about His character.  Here is a stance I have adopted...

When things are going well (or relatively so), I believe that we are to fill our minds with His Truth...meditating on it every day.

Then, when the trials come (and they will), I don't interpret God's seeming silence as indifference or turning His back on us...just the opposite.  I believe He says lovingly and with encouragement, "Bev (Name), okay now I want YOU to speak the Truth I've taught you into your circumstances."  

I believe He does this in the apparent silence so that we can profess and speak the only Truth that will bring any form of peace, comfort, hope, joy, and love....His Holy Word.  The Truth is what sets us free!

I may be all wrong, but I do believe that God gives us opportunities (when the rubber meets the road) to confess the hope that we have within us.  

We need to keep speaking into our circumstances and calling on our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray with and for us.

So back to the initial question...is God truly silent?  I do believe that if we are walking in disobedience, God is not going to shout the Truth at us.  I also believe that sometimes, due to our circumstances and emotions, God may appear to be silent and distant.  But, that is not in keeping with His character.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

God is steadfast which means He is unswerving, unalterable, He cannot be moved. His loved toward us never fails or falters.  It is changeless. 

God is as near as a whisper and He never goes "Miss McDowell" on us.  He may not be speaking to us in a way that we can hear at the moment, but He is always speaking - in His Creation, through His people, in His word.

Think about it - if we are going through a trial or test - God always gives us an "open book" test because His Word (Bible) is always available to us.  

"Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me."  (Psalm 

God may not speak audibly, but He speaks and He sustains through His Word to us.  Our job is to meditate on His Word and to ask the counselor He gives us, in the person of the Holy Spirit, to be our wise guide.  

There may be times that God seems to be silent, but I'm not certain that the apparent silence isn't born out of OUR circumstances, moods, disobedience, sin, or failing to seek Him first above all things.  

I'm so thankful that God is mindful of my sinful frame and knows I am but dust. I believe He is always wanting to speak life into my life, but sometimes my prideful agenda and self-sufficiency gets in the way.  

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

I'm no theologian, but I believe that God is always speaking in one form or another. When I look back at the times in my life when He seemed to be silent, I believe that I was the one who wasn't listening.

How about you?  How does God speak to you in good times?  In the midst of trials?  Has He ever seemed silent to you?  What Truth have you learned about God's character?

Dear Heavenly Father,  I praise you that you speak to me in so many ways...through the beauty of Your creation, the loving words of others, and especially through the love letter you have written to us - your Holy Word, the Bible.  Thank you for being a loving God who encourages us to speak the Truth into our circumstances.  I praise you that you are a God who coaches and encourages vs. chides and condemns.  Your will is that we would hear your voice and turn from our evil ways.  Grant me ears to hear you Lord.  Drown out the voice of the enemy.  I praise you that your steadfast love for me endures forever.  Praise be to your name. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Enemy's Lies Uncovered

Hey Friend,

Usually I save the "punch line" or the clincher for the end of my post, but this is so important that I want to give it to you at the beginning.  If you take away nothing else from this post, know this:

The enemy is real

The enemy has many calling cards and flaming arrows.  Some of his favorites are guilt, shame, fear, hopelessness, doubt, isolation, anxiety...

Thoughts and feelings lie

Just because we feel or think something doesn't make it true.  If you are experiencing any of the above...

It's not from God...you are under the attack of the enemy and what he is telling you is a LIE!!!!!

How do I know this?  Because I've been there...many times.  The Bible tells me that this is no small skirmish.  In fact, there's an epic battle going on not just here on earth but in the heavens.  Good vs. Evil.  Truth vs. Lies.  Jesus vs. Enemy.  

The Good News is that we know Jesus wins!!

In the meantime, let's uncover some of the enemy's lies.  Perhaps one or more of these will hit home?  Then, let's debunk it with the Truth.

*  I'm not good enough...Not true.  Your identity is found in Christ.  God sees you through the blood of His Son.  God sees you as pure as snow.

Romans 3:23 - For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and (ALL who believe) are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  

*  Everyone has it all together except me (isolation)...Not true.  The Bible says that the enemy prowls about looking to seek, isolate, and destroy. If he can pull you apart from the herd and get you alone, you are easy prey.  No one has it all together.  Friend, if they say or act like they do...well they're either lying or deluding themselves.  

*  God is angry or disappointed in me...Not true.  Nowhere in the Bible does it ever say that God is disappointed in us.  I challenge you to find it in there because it simply doesn't exist.  It's a lie.  We mess up and we sin, but God's got that covered.

Romans 8:1-2 - Therefore there is now NO CONDEMNATION  for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  

*  You are alone...Not true.  The enemy wants you to think you are alone. Over and over again Jesus reminds us "Never will I leave you...Never will I forsake you...NEVER"  (emphasis mine).  

*  You or the situation is hopeless...Not true.  In the 23rd Psalm, Jesus says He walks WITH us THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death.  He promises that He will lead us safely to the other side.  He won't leave us stuck there.

More than any other subject in the Bible, Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven.  Why?  Because He knows if we can just hang in there, the Kingdom Heaven awaits us and it will be something far greater than we can ever imagine. 

It will be worth the wait.  We will be free FOREVER of the chains that bind us.  But, while we walk through this blink of an eye life here on earth....He will walk with us and give us His peace.

It is said that the enemy will find our Achilles' heel (our weakness) and attack us there. I've experienced this to be true.  I struggle with OCD and depression. Boy, you better believe that the hungry enemy smells blood when it (OCD) flares. When I'm having an episode, the enemy uses that time to kick me when I'm down.  

It is truly hard to cling to the Truth when I am laid so low.  That's when I need others to surround me and remind me that even though I may not be able to "feel" it or "believe" it at the moment, God's Truths are FACTS.  

If you are ever feeling under attack.  Ask a friend, "Do you ever think _______? Do you ever feel _________?  See what they say and ask them to share the Truth with you.  We find strength when we corporately cling to the truth.  There IS power in numbers.

Also, Priscilla Shirer (Christian author and speaker) made a powerful statement when she said, "The attacks on our lives are more about who the enemy believes we can become than who we are right now."

Another writer, Holley Gerth, spoke of a light bulb coming on when she suddenly realized that the enemy is lying to us in the area of our giftings.

This really blew me away.  But, it makes sense.  If the enemy knows we are strong in a particular area, he is going to stop at nothing to render us powerless in the area of our strength.  

He will throw his strongest lie...his hottest flaming arrow at our area of giftedness because that is where we threaten him the most.  

I believe that is why some of the strongest Christians I know are under the greatest attacks.  Why?  Because they are a threat to the enemy.  If we're not about spreading the gospel, building the Kingdom, sharing the light and hope of Jesus Christ, then we're not much of a threat and chances are the enemy will leave us alone.

Hmmmm.....so the key is recognizing that you are under attack.  Some red flag questions I'm learning to ask myself are:

1.  Does it (feeling or thought) make me feel anxious?

2.  Does it make me feel fearful?

3.  Does it bring with it any other negative feelings (shame, guilt, any feelings of being "less than" or "not enough" of something?

If so....In Christ's name, call it what it is....a big, old, fat LIE!  

I felt strange at first, but I have learned to say, out loud, when I feel like I'm under attack, "Get behind me Satan.  In the power of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I command you to flee from me and leave me alone!"

Two reasons...

1.  The enemy can't read our mind (like Jesus can) but he can hear my words.

2.  The Bible says, at the name of Jesus, the enemy must flee.

Okay.  Go back and read the beginning of my post again.  Take in that all that negativity is a bunch of lies.  If thoughts plague you try not to argue with them, roll them around in your mind and contemplate them....NO, you have permission to slam the door on them - like you would an intruder trying to come in your front door.  Not in your own power, but in the power that comes from calling upon the name of Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for when I've let the enemy get a foothold in my thought life, but I praise you that you are mindful of my frame and know what these attacks do to me.  You are a God who sees and understands what I'm up against.  Give me wisdom and discernment to know when thoughts are simply not from you, but are the work of the enemy.  Give me the shield of faith and truth, with which, I can extinguish the flaming (lying) arrows of the enemy. Remind me to call upon the power found in the name and person of Jesus.  At His name the enemy must turn and flee.  Help me to be in your Word so that when the enemy hits me with his lies (which he will), I can uncover them with your Truth.  Be with me Lord...I need you.  In Jesus precious name I pray.  Amen.

Be blessed....

ps.  Praise and Good News...Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. has an anonymous corporate sponsor who will donate $10 for every person who joins the private RCF, Inc. Facebook Page UP TO 300 PEOPLE OR $3,000!!

Here's how you can help.  
1.  If you haven't already, Friend me on Facebook (Beverly Senter Rihtarchik)
2. Message me "Add me" and I will add you to our page and $10 will go into RCF's bank account. (We will not clog your news feed...2-3 updates per month maximum)

Proceeds are going toward equipping our classrooms with much needed desks, tables, chairs, computers, projector, furniture that a classroom needs.  We are also at maximum capacity and need to enlarge our space.  Will you help us??

RCF, Inc. is a registered 501c3 non-profit ministry