Sunday, January 28, 2018

Beauty From Ashes...Even Here

Hey Friend,

May I tell you a story?

As you may well know, I am the President and Founder of Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. which exists to promote the hope and love of Jesus with people around the world with a particular focus on providing a Christian education to those who are impoverished, oppressed, orphaned, or persecuted for their faith.

The pictures above are of one of two simultaneous church bombings in the Middle East.

Anosh, our School's Director, was inside this church as it was letting out and the suicide bomber detonated himself killing Christians as they fellowshipped together after services. He witnessed the bodies torn apart by the force of the detonation.

Just down the road, another suicide bomber detonated bombs strapped to his body inside another church. Many were killed and injured....including innocent children.

But, God is in the business of bringing beauty from the ashes. Here is a picture of our new home (while under construction) for Redeemer Christian School. A place where children can feel safe, be off the streets, and out of harm's way. There are no signs saying this is a school. It looks like an ordinary business front. Saleem, our full time security guard takes his job, to protect the children, seriously.

Here, children who were previously caught up in begging rings, slave labor, jihad training, and human trafficking can be children once again. Once illiterate, starving, and despairing, they now can smile, be children, learn in school, and experience the life changing love of Jesus.

February is the month of love. We would LOVE to get some of these precious children pictured here off the waiting list and into school. To do this we need YOUR help.

Just $15/mo. or $180/year and You can sponsor a child and give them back their childhood.

Every penny you donate goes directly to YOUR child - no overhead, corporate staffing, marketing....just a backpack, textbooks, nourishing meals, medical aid, and love.

Meet Paratish, one of the younger members of our school. When she first came to RCS, Pakistan, she was a frightened little girl.

Her older sister, already in school, worried about Paratish wandering the streets during the day. Paratish still had baby chubby cheeks, but her sister, Sunana was emaciated and malnourished when she came through our doors.

Now look at Paratish and Sunana....enjoying being able to be children. Praise!

Thanks to loving compassionate sponsors, these young lives are forever changed. Will you prayerfully consider sponsoring one of these precious children and giving them a whole new lease on life? Or would you consider a general donation to sustain our school?

Mail checks to:
RCF, Inc.
103 Silver Lining Lane
Cary, NC 27513

$15/month or $180/year

We will send you a picture, bio, and birth date for your special child. You can write to your child and we will keep you posted on their progress. You'll LOVE watching the transformation...promise!

Paratish & Sunana.....Then and Now.  YOUR LOVE DID THIS!

Thank you for letting me share my story.  May I ask you to reach out in love this February.  We have 20+ orphans and destitute children still on the waiting list.

Children still needing sponsors:

Mahi (on left)

Dear Heavenly Father,  Please be with these precious children as they face so many horrors each and every day.  We know that we dare to go where few will go because it is so dangerous.  Please put a hedge of protection around our school - the children and staff.  Let the hope and love they receive in Redeemer Christian School be like a city that shines upon a hill.  Thank you for the privilege of giving the children the opportunity to fall in love with Jesus and His holy Word.  May we take your command to look after the orphans and the fatherless seriously.    Thank you for our blessings....may we always have a generous spirit.
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.  (Psalm 82:3)

Be blessed....

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Illusion of Perfect

Hey Friend,

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  (Matthew 5:48)

Aww, God, really?  That's the feeling I get almost every time I come across this scripture.  For this self-described seeker of perfection, this verse sets the bar impossibly high....doesn't it?

How on earth can I be perfect like God?  Say it ain't so....

I grew up in a staunch Presbyterian church.  My behind was in that hard, uncomfortable pew every Sunday.  I heard the minister's voice from the pulpit, on high, echoing throughout the stone Gothic cathedral.  I was afraid, yet drawn at the same time.

In Sunday school, I learned the Ten Commandments (in the King James version).  It was a mighty list of "Thou shalt not's" that I took quite seriously.  I loved the pictures of Jesus bidding the little children to come to Him, but God??  I admit I was a bit intimidated, even afraid, of Him.  I knew not to mess with God, yet, deep inside I had a desire to please follow His commands.

I wanted to be one of those spoken about in Proverbs 2:20-21 (AMP)

So you will walk in the way of good men [that is, those of personal integrity, moral courage and honorable character], and keep to the paths of the righteous.  For the upright [those who are in right standing with God] will live in the land and those [of integrity] who are blameless [in God's sight] will remain in it....

I wanted to remain in the Land of God's Good Graces!

This isn't a scientific study, but I have noticed that the people I know who struggle the most with "perfectionism", who think they are far from perfect, continually strive to be perfect, and chide themselves way too much when they mess up, are actually some of the most upright people I know.

The ones who think they always fall short of the mark are the ones, to me, who are like the ones found in the Proverb's verse:  they have personal integrity, moral courage, and honorable character.  They are some of the most "upright and blameless" people I know.....yet they struggle so, and think they are so far from perfect and it literally pains them.

I wonder....could it be....that these seekers of perfection really DO love God a bit more than the rest of the world??

Here's the good and bad news as I see it:

GOOD:  I think a lot of perfectionists actually are people after God's own heart.  They love His precepts.  Many meditate upon them day and night.  They strive to walk upright lives before the Lord and are considered "good people" in the sight of others.  I believe they genuinely want to please God and walk in His ways.  On a worldly perfection scale of 1-10, they'd be hovering over a solid 9.  

BAD:  "Pride" gets in the way and we think we can achieve this perfection on our own and we care way too much about what others think.  "Fear" plays a role in us, in that we think God will be disappointed in us and we will end up out of His good graces.  We fear God's wrath.

Perhaps the worst news of all is that the enemy KNOWS that this is our Achilles heel and he goes after it with a vengeance.  He shouts things like, "See, you fell short again.  You're not good enough.  You'll NEVER be good enough.  God's disappointed in you and He's going to strike you down. You messed up again.  You're not perfect enough....."

I believe the enemy uses our good intentions and love of the Lord to bring us down.  He knows that being blameless in God's sight actually matters to us.  And so....he goes after the jugular.  And he's relentless.  

So where do we go from here?  Back to the Truth.  We hold up the enemy's lies to it (the Truth), and if his words (which ARE lies) don't match up with the Truth, we need to, have to, kick the enemy to the curb. It also helps to ask people close to us  (who know we struggle)  to remind us that we don't have to be perfect. Ahhh....breathe.

As for "Be perfect as the Father is perfect"  we know that:

John 14:6New International Version (NIV)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
The ONE and ONLY route to the Father (Holy Perfection) is through the blood of Christ.  We can't earn it, strive for it, be perfect enough in our own doing.  We MUST go through Jesus.

1 John 1:9New International Version (NIV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
When we mess up, God promises if we confess our sins He will forgive ALL our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.  God has our lack of perfection covered.  He gives us the cure for our lack....confession.  This is the antidote for every perfectionist that walks the planet.  God's got it covered.  No sin too big to be forgiven.
So if you are seeking "the illusion of perfect", be easy on yourself.  Chances are you have a heart after God's own heart and He sees this. He already knows your heart. Examine how "pride" - how you want to appear in people's eyes may be trumping how you are viewed in God's eyes.  Ask if "fear" plays a roll?  Nowhere in the Bible does it say we can disappoint God.  We humanize Him way too much.  Read verses that dwell on the lovingkindness of God and ask for Him to work this Truth into your heart.  He will.
Last, know that the enemy is after you, but he doesn't have to win. He preys on your wanting to be blameless and among the upright.  He uses what really matters to you to tear you down...and he's ruthless.  Know that the everlasting arms of God are under you and take comfort that no sin is unforgivable and God cannot love you any more or any less than He already does.  He just doesn't work that way.  
"In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33)
Dear Heavenly Father,  Please forgive me for having you all wrong for so many years.  I praise you that your very definition is "love" and you cannot deny yourself.  Your heart is filled with lovingkindness and your patience is long-suffering.  I thank you that you are true to your promises to forgive all our iniquities if we just ask, and you remember them no more.  Remind me that, as your child, you ALWAYS see me as perfect because you see me through the blood of your Son.  Protect me from the lies of the evil one and let my mind be stayed on Your Word of Truth.  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  Do you ever struggle with perfectionism?  Do pride or fear play a role?  When God looks at your heart, what do you think He sees?  What helps you accept yourself just as you are?  Would you share?

Be blessed.....

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Parting Ways With People Pleasing

Hey Friend,

In pondering my word, "Embrace" for 2018, I realize that there are behaviors I have, but would like to change.  I want to embrace a new view of myself.

Confession time....I am a people-pleaser.  By that I mean that I will go to great lengths to please people - multiple people at the same time.  I do this for many reasons:  to keep the peace, to try to maintain people's happiness, to avoid alienation, because of my own insecurities.

I've realized that things have to change.  I think I took my goal of "modeling a servant's heart" too far and became a doormat of sorts.  I will put everyone and everything before myself, to my own detriment, and I believe that is not what God wants for me.

I am worthy too.  God wants me to stand up for myself as one of His children - counted equally among my brothers and sisters.

Matthew 6:24Amplified Bible (AMP)

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord].

Though this verse usually refers to either serving God or serving money, or idols, or selfish vices, it hit me that I cannot serve God and has to come first.  In trying so hard to please others, I was, in essence, placing more value on them than I was on the Lord....ouch!


1.  Pride:  I want people to like me.  It hurts my pride when people say disparaging things about me.  If someone doesn't like me or gets angry with me, I need to get over myself.  It also may be their problem and not mine to solve.

2.  Fear:  I have been abandoned in the past and I have a fear of people getting fed up with me and leaving.  I don't want anyone else in my life to leave, so I have bent over backwards to stay in their good graces, lest they get tired of my not meeting their needs and walk away.

3.  Insecurity:  I need to let go of what the world thinks of me and claim the truth that I am God's beloved daughter.  As long as things are okay between God and me, then I am okay.  The Bible even says that friends, family, and the world will forsake you, but God will NEVER leave you.

4.  Peacekeeping:  I don't like conflict and will do just about anything to keep the peace.

I really need to work on living my life to an audience of One!

So what's at stake?  If I keep trying to please others (and it is virtually impossible to please everyone) I wear myself down.  I become a detriment to myself.  I get so exhausted and often bitter about trying to keep everyone happy, that I become no good to anyone. 

God has a job for me to do in His Kingdom, but I can't do it well if I'm always worrying about what others might think. 

I don't want to lose my naturally loving and compassionate nature....that's how God created me.  But, I need to really ask myself, "Am I being a servant or am I being a doormat?"  Big difference.

Luke 16:13-15  “You cannot serve two masters at the same time. You will hate one master and love the other. Or you will be loyal to one and not care about the other."

 Exodus 20:3-6 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

Our God is a jealous God.  He will not tolerate our bowing down to others before we bow down to Him.  He also says this for my own good.  He knows that when I keep my priorities in order and love myself things will go better in my life.

The second part of the Greatest Commandment says to "love others AS you love yourself, not MORE than you love yourself."

God loves me, and He loves you too.  We are His beloved.  He delights over us with singing.  He would not want us to make ourselves virtual slaves to others and to keep trying to ensure their happiness.  That is up to them.  

I am not responsible for other's happiness.  That's between them and God.

If I sound like I'm preaching to myself....I am.  This is a message I really want to embrace this year.  I don't need to be mean, or nasty, or negative.  I can be pleasant, but firm in putting my foot down.  "No" is not a four-letter word.  

If you struggle with this too, will you join me in rethinking pleasing other people?  Is it time to part ways with people pleasing?

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made."  Help me to claim this truth.  Enable me to remember that I, too, am a rightful heir to your thrown.  I am no better than, nor any less than others.  Give me sober judgment as I look at myself.  Let me serve others as Jesus served, but keep me from being a doormat that others know they can walk over.  This is not good for either of us.  Keep my eyes so focused on you that what the world thinks or believes becomes less and less in my mind's eye.  You alone are God and I will serve you first and foremost.  Ease my fears and insecurities and forgive my pride.  You are a good and loving Father and I will forever praise you.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  Is this something you struggle with?  What is God saying to you today?  How have you fought against, or how have you overcome the urge to please others?  Will you share?

Be blessed......

Saturday, January 6, 2018

"Embrace" The Word For 2018

Hey Friend,

Here it "word" for 2018.....EMBRACE.

In 2018, I vow to embrace God
I want to embrace His great love for me
I want to squeeze His righteous right hand
Look deep into His eyes
to see the look that says, 
"You are mine, you are loved, and you are worthy."

In 2018, I want to embrace the journey
No matter where it takes me
I want to accept the good God has planned
For me along the way rather than
Try to take control
I want to follow rather than try to lead.

In 2018, I want to embrace life and living
I want to cuddle and hold my loved ones close
I want to hug the life out of every experience
God chooses to bring my way
I want every breath of His love and the love of others
To caress my cheek and leave me
Feeling breathless
I want to laugh and cry with friends
I want to weep when they weep and rejoice when they rejoice.

In 2018, I want to embrace my crazy
You heard me right, I want to embrace the uniquely
Individual, and sometimes quirky person
That God created me to be.
I want to sing and dance in my kitchen 
When no one is looking
And raise my arms in praise to Him who not only enables me,
But causes me to move by the power of His Holy Spirit.

In 2018, I want to embrace my creativity
I want to write of God's mystery
And explore every inch of His majestic creation
I don't want to overlook even the finest or smallest detail
I want to capture it and let the world know
How it points to His goodness.

In 2018, I want to embrace change
Oh how I love my rut and bristle at being forced
Outside my comfort zone
I am reminded that God always sends an angel ahead of me
To bring me to the place He has prepared
And in that, I take comfort.

In 2018, I want to embrace the pain,
the struggles, the trials, and the heat of the crucible
Because I know that it's only through
The hard that we truly draw near to Him and learn to
Rely and Depend upon Him.
Only when I am laid low
Will I dare to look up....

In 2018, I want to embrace His Word 
So that it would not just inhabit my brain but
Would infuse every part of me
Leave me wanting more.
I want to welcome it into my wanting heart
With open arms and ask it
To take up residence there.

I want to hold, to accept, to enthusiastically welcome, to hug and hold close, to affectionately draw to me, to linger long, to clasp and to welcome with open arms....Everything God Has For Me.

In 2018, I want to EMBRACE.....

This is my prayer....

10 With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!" 
11 Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this - heart and soul - will ever regret it." 

12 It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. (Romans 10:10-12) MSG

What about you?  What is your "word" for 2018?  If you don't have a "word", what is your prayer?  What is the deepest desire of your heart?  Would you dare to share?

Be blessed.....