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Friday, May 20, 2016

In the Beginning...

Klaira's Thoughts

"In the beginning God created the Heavens and Earth."  A few months ago I started reading a really fascinating book about creation by an organization called Answers in Genesis. And then God put on my heart to actually read Genesis itself. At first, I had no idea that Genesis would play such a large role in my relationship with God but the more I study it the more clear it becomes that Genesis is a crucial part of the Christian Faith, and can even help us with Apologetics, or defending our faith.

Genesis 1:1 is a very popular verse. And, like many other verses we skip over what should be a basis in our relationship with God. Many Christians believe the Earth was created  millions and millions of years ago, and, if we don't have a strong faith in God, we can fall into the deadly trap of believing the theory of Evolution. That is why it is incredibly important to believe the truth in those first few chapters in the Bible.  If we don't believe the first few chapters of the Bible are credible, why would we believe the rest of the Bible?!  And if we don't believe in what the Bible says, our hearts become hardened which ultimately results in eternal separation from God, the Creator of the world, and author of Genesis.  

Living here in breathtakingly beautiful Alaska has confirmed to me that God made EVERYTHING, from the massive snow-capped mountains to the stunning details of a fish scale.  Nothing was formed by sheer happenstance billions of years ago. 

I hope you will read and study the Book of Genesis (especially the first 11 chapters).  In today's world where the truth is under attack, understanding Genesis will deepen your relationship with the Lord and help you defend your faith.  And if you're like me and are interested in the scientific facts about the beginning of the earth, I encourage you to check out the great resources at Answers in Genesis

By faith we understand that the Universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. ~Hebrews 11:3

Friday, February 26, 2016

More of You

The Ristow girls with Amy and Zeppelin, the new home owners

It was one year ago today that we handed the keys to our beloved home over to its new owners. Tears burned my eyes as we strolled through the empty rooms and down memory lane one last time.  A small sob escaped from my lips and echoed throughout the halls.  It was time to go, time to close the chapter.

As we drove away from our home for the last time, Steve turned on the radio just as Colton Dixon's song "More of You" began to play:

I made my castle tall
I built up every wall
This is my kingdom and it needs to fall
I want You and no one else
Empty of myself
Until the only thing that's left is
More of you
Less of me
This life I hold so close
Oh, God I let it go
I refuse to gain the world and lose my soul
So take it all
I abandon everything I am
You can have it
The only thing I need is
More of you
Less of me
Make me who I'm meant to be
You're all I want all I need
You're everything
Take it all I surrender
Be my king
God I choose
More of You
Less of me
More of You
All to You I surrender
All to you my blessed Savior
I surrender all

We've listened to that song many times since then, and each time I find myself wishing that the lyrics were as easy to live out as they are to sing.

Please God, let there be more of You and less of us, and may we continue to experience YOU as we seek to build Your kingdom instead of our own.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Great Ball of Fire

I’ve never been a sun lover.  In fact, since moving to Alaska I’ve discovered that I’m really a snowman trapped in a human body (and all those years I thought I was sweating—turns out I was actually melting!). 

But here in Port Graham where the mountains rise higher than the sun for three months out of the year, even a non-sun lover like myself can begin to feel the negative effects of sun-less days… weariness, sadness, depression, and a feeling of imprisonment (not to mention that terrible glow-in-the-dark skin color us whities get)!  Who knew the sun was a giant battery charger for our bodies?!  

A few days ago, just when I was convinced the sun had been swallowed up by a black hole and was never going to shine again, I caught a glimpse of that great ball of fire. For ten glorious minutes its beautiful rays shone between two mountains, and I stood in the middle of the road (children, don’t do this at home) with my arms spread wide, my eyes closed, and my face lifted toward the sun, basking in its warmth.  Amazing.

And then it hit me.  The physical effects we suffer from lack of sunshine are strangely similar to the spiritual effects we suffer from lack of “Son-shine”.  Weariness, despair, complacency, and prisons of addiction can plague our lives and slowly drag us away from the Son.  But unlike the physical sun in Port Graham, the Son of God can rise above the mountains in our lives and shine his forgiveness, grace, love, and healing into our souls.  

Are you feeling Son-starved?  Why not crack open God’s love letter to you and bask in the warmth of His words.  It will do wonders for your health.
"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'"   --John 8:12


When we moved to Alaska, we were on an adventure to experience God.  Little did we know that would include a taste of His power through a 7.1 magnitude earthquake!    Early Sunday morning, we were jolted awake by a loud "Crack!" followed by a whole lot of rattling, rumbling and rolling.  For over a minute (which seemed like an eternity) the ground beneath us shook, shimmied, and swayed, and then it stopped as suddenly as it had started. 

The next morning at church when the Chief of the village asked if I was going to give a sermon on the power of God, I replied, "I'm pretty sure God preached that sermon last night, and I have nothing to add!"  Thanks be to God who protected us (and our village) from any serious injuries or property damage.

Today our nerves have calmed down, our wall pictures are straight again, the contents of our cupboards are newly organized, and we are grateful we didn't have to do any tsunami surfing...God is GOOD!  Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, phone calls, texts, and emails over the last couple days.  It is such an encouragement and blessing to know that although thousands of miles separate us from most of you, we are close in mind and heart.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Let There Be Light

A few weeks ago I discovered a treasure at the local store.  I found some of those battery operated tea light candles (it’s the small things!).  Candles of any sort are a little hard to come by in the village and these little tea lights were going to put the finishing touch on one of my decorations.  

With great anticipation I opened my package of candles and flipped the power switch to “on”.  Expecting the warm glow of candlelight to emanate from my new decoration (okay, so maybe LED light isn’t exactly warm, but you get the idea), I was quite surprised and more than a little disappointed when nothing happened.  No flickering LED light, no warm glow, nothing.  

Thinking the problem must be the battery, I opened the back of the candle to investigate the reason for the lack of light.  What did I find?  A little plastic shield that prevents the battery from providing power to the candle. Of course if I had read the instructions, I would have saved myself some frustration because the instructions clearly stated that you “must remove the plastic shield over the battery before the candle will operate”.  Oh.  Right.  It’s amazing how things work when we follow instructions!

Isn’t that just like our life?  When we discover the treasure of Jesus and choose to embrace him, he promises that we are a brand new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and we will be a light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6). Sometimes however our light doesn’t work and we wonder why.  But when we read God’s instruction book, it clearly states that in order for Jesus to power-up our light we have to remove the thing that prevents us from tapping into His power:  sin—anything and everything that displeases God (Romans 8:13). The more we indulge our sinful nature, the further we get from God’s power, and the dimmer our light grows until it finally disappears altogether.    

Together, let's turn away from the sin in our lives that prevents us from tapping into God’s power.  Then, and only then, will the warm glow of the Holy Spirit emanate from our souls and shine so that those around us will discover the treasure of Jesus, too.  (Matthew 5:16)

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