Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments

Whoever says Christianity is boring either doesn’t know the Jesus I know or isn’t doing what He’s calling them to do.  Following Christ is definitely not the dull routine some make it out to be; when executed properly, it’s an adventure! 

I never would have described myself as the adventurous type, and I’ve been scared to death of the positions I have found myself in countless times, but there’s something exhilarating about coming out the other side of a situation I never would have placed myself in in the first place.   Both literally and figuratively speaking, I can honestly say that I don’t like jumping and I hate falling, but I love it when God catches me!  There’s no way around it: the catching experience cannot occur without the jumping and falling preceding it. 

Ephesians 3:20 says that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine and I’ve learned by experience that, according to His power that is at work within me, I too am able to do far more than I could have ever imagined. Or would have even thought to ask, for that matter.  My recent mission trip to Alaska was no exception.

I really wasn’t expecting much in the way of adventure on this trip.  I had electricity, running water, paved roads and spoke the language.  What more could a girl ask for?  But with God, it’s when you least expect it that you should expect it. 

One of the projects our team was working on was building a house for the camp director.  My involvement in this particular project was in proportion with my skill level - minimal.  God had placed many men on our team who were very talented in various aspects of construction.  I just wandered up to the site on this particular day to take pictures of the guys in action, or so I thought.   

Ten of the twelve members of our team were going horseback riding that afternoon; half of the group from 1:30 to 2:30 and the other from 2:30 to 3:30.  I arrived at the construction site while the first group was gone and the second group was leaving, so it wasn’t that I was chosen to run the Pettibone because I was qualified; I was chosen because I was present.  While I am tempted to say I ended up running this machine by accident – or by default – I know there are no accidents in God’s perfect plan. 

If I don’t look like the type of woman that operates heavy machinery, that would be because I am not, or at least I was not.  I can’t tell you the last time I even drove our riding lawn mower, and yet I found myself in Alaska operating a Pettibone.  Prior to my arrival, I had never even heard of a Pettibone, let alone known that it is a large piece of machinery with a platform on the front that raises and lowers.

After brief (emphasis on brief) instruction from the job foreman, who then left to pick up supplies, I found myself in the Pettibone behind the controls.  Now, I often ask myself, “What difference will this make in the scheme of all eternity?” This question helps me put things into perspective and get over the fear of looking foolish, but this situation did have the potential to make a difference in the scheme of all eternity.  I wasn’t just raising the platform; I was raising the platform with a passenger on it!  And I didn’t want this passenger to enter into eternity while I was the one behind the controls!

Rick was another volunteer at the camp and a man of great faith – as evidenced by the fact that he got onto that platform without me having as much as a practice run.  I sincerely prayed for Rick, that he would live to tell about this experience, but I never told him that.  Some prayers are best kept between oneself and the Lord. 

To say I was challenged by the situation I was in would be an understatement.  I was totally stressed out! But the bottom line is that I did it and Rick lived to tell about it (praise God!)

Obeying God can be the easiest, and at the same time, the most challenging thing you will ever do.  He doesn’t ask for much, and yet He asks for everything.

First, He asks us to SHOW UP.  We don’t need to have all the answers.  We don’t even need to ask all the questions.  We just need the attitude of Samuel: “The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” ~ 1 Samuel 3:9-11

Next, He asks us to TRUST HIM.  Without trust in God, I can talk myself out of just about everything. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” ~ Proverbs 3:5

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:8

Finally, He asks us to OBEY HIM. Not just learn about him, but put what Ive learned into action. “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?” ~ 1 Samuel 15:22

“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” ~ John 5:39-40

Lord, I thank you for the blessings I’ve experienced because I obeyed you.  Forgive me for those times when I haven’t showed up, haven’t trusted you, or didn’t do what you asked of me.  I’m so thankful that through you I can do all things, and I look forward to the adventures you have for me in the future!
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 2 comments

I would like to say that this is a picture of Mount McKinley, but unfortunately that isn't the case.  These mountains are a part of the Alaska mountain range, but none of them are Mount Denali, the local name for Mount McKinley which means, "The High One."  Close, but no cigar. 

My husband and I just returned from a mission trip to Camp Li-Wa, which is located in Fairbanks, Alaska.  Since we heard that Mount Denali was visible from Fairbanks, we thought that seeing Denali on this trip was a given. I mean really, how difficult could it be to spot the highest mountain peak in North America?  

Evidently, quite difficult.

Even though we didn’t see it during the week, we had high hopes of spotting it on our Saturday excursion to Denali National Park. The park is absolutely gorgeous.  I never tire of taking in the beauty of God’s creation.  We saw braided rivers (something I had never even heard of before), the Alaskan mountain range, grizzly bears, moose, Dall sheep and caribou.  One of the few things we didn’t see?  Mount Denali.  Not even a trace. 

We learned that Denali is not very easy to see, with only a 30% chance of visibility on any given day, due to cloud cover and the fact that it’s large enough to create its own weather.  Who knew?

The closer we drove to the mountain, the harder it was to believe it was really there.   It was an odd sensation; my mind knowing that Mount Denali was indeed in that location, yet my eyes not catching even a glimpse of something that large. 

Have you ever felt that way about God?  You’ve been told He’s there, perhaps you know Him personally and know for a fact that He is there, but you can’t seem to get even a glimpse of Him.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”   ~ Romans 1:20

God reveals Himself through His creation, so no one can deny He exists, but when the storm clouds come rolling in, how often do we begin to doubt His presence?  It’s during those times that we must rely on what we know to be true, not what we seem to be experiencing at the time.  We may feel we’re all alone, but the truth is: 

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:8

The truth is, you can’t get away from God even if you try.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?   If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.   If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” ~ Psalm 139:7-10

He is there, speaking to you, no matter where you are or what you do.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” ~ Isaiah 30:21

Lord, thank you for never leaving me, especially in those times when I can’t see you but need you the most.  Give me ears to hear your still, small voice and guide me in your perfect will.

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

Have you ever had a telephone conversation with someone only to learn mid-discussion that the person on the other end of the line has no idea who it is she’s been talking to?  Now, there have been many instances where I’ve answered the phone and didn’t know who was calling me, but never before have I received a call from someone who didn’t know who it was that she was calling.  If I’m the one answering the phone, I’ve always assumed the caller knew whose number it was that she was dialing.  Evidently, that is not always the case!

I spent a recent morning making phone calls and leaving messages, so when I answered the phone and a familiar voice said, “I’m returning your call,” I jumped right in explaining the reason I had initiated the conversation.  After spending a fair amount of time describing the upcoming event and explaining what type of volunteer I was looking for, the woman on the other end of the line said, “Before I commit to anything, I have to ask, ‘Who is it I am speaking to?’”

This really caught me off guard.  Since I had left her a detailed message and she was returning my call, I assumed she knew who she was talking to.  I later came to find out that she hadn’t listened to my message and was just returning a call to a number that showed up on her caller ID.

We often make assumptions without even realizing that we’re doing so. We assume the other party knows what we know, but that isn’t always the case.  I think this disconnect often comes into play when it comes to talking about our faith.

Even though I was raised going to church every Sunday, I had very little knowledge of the Bible or anything in it.  I remember being asked to choose a reading out of one of the Gospels, but I had no idea that the Gospels were the books of the Bible that talked about the life of Jesus, and that those books are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

When my husband and I started attending a church that used the Bible in the service, I used to watch the people in front of me to see how thick the pages were on either side of the place they were reading so that I would have a general idea of where to start looking for the passage.  I recall one Sunday in particular when I insisted to my husband that my Bible was missing a book.  I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find the book of Job.  I told him I found Job (as in “go get a job”) but not Jobe (as in the plant fertilizer).  Who named that book anyway?  Everyone who knows the English language knows that there needs to be an “e” at the end of the word to make the vowel say its name!  How was I supposed to find a book when the name was written/pronounced “wrong”?

I’m living proof that even someone raised attending church can be Biblically illiterate, so it’s important that we don’t make assumptions when it comes to matters of faith.  We can tell by the words of the apostle Paul that he was sensitive to the people he was ministering to. 

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible… To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law… I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:19, 21-23

We often start speaking “Christianese” without even recognizing it, which is why we need to be aware of what we’re saying and who we’re speaking to. That’s why I always write out the name of the book of the Bible when I reference it rather than use the abbreviation.  Even then, to someone unfamiliar with it, a Scripture reference can look like a secret code.  I heard of a woman who said just that, that she had figured out the code.  When asked what code she was referring to, she said, “You know, the code.  Number colon number.  I figured out what it means.”  We can’t assume that when we give a Scripture reference to someone, they will know that the number before the colon is the chapter and the number after the colon is the verse.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15

Peter tells us to always be ready to share our faith, but we must be ready to share it in a way that everyone can understand. 

Father, thank you for allowing me to develop a close relationship with you.  Help me to be thoughtful and remember to speak in a way in which those who don’t know you can understand. 
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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 0 comments

My husband went in for a stress test this week, and although this was the first time he has undergone this procedure, it wasn’t his first stress test.  He’s had many.  So have I.  In fact, we’ve all had them. If you’ve ever dealt with a difficult or unexpected situation, you too have had a stress test of the God-administered variety. 

I don’t think anyone knows stress like Job did, though many of us can certainly relate to him.  When we’re first introduced to Job in Scripture it appears that he had a cushy life – at least as cushy as life could be in the days before running water and electricity.  Job was a very wealthy man with large herds of sheep, oxen, donkeys and camels; plus ten children who liked to party.  Then, in an instant, he lost it all.  The only thing spared was his life. 

Understandably, Job had a lot of questions for God, just as we often do when we find ourselves in a difficult situation. 

“What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant?” ~ Job 7:17-19

The short answer, Job, is “No.” 

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:8

During difficult times it’s comforting to know that God will never leave me, but when I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing, God’s constant presence makes me very uncomfortable.   As well it should.  Like most people, it’s not too difficult for me to put on a good front when things are going smoothly.  It’s when I’m under duress that I’m revealed for who I really am.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” ~ Luke 6:45

Did you ever say something and then wonder, “Where did that come from?”  Now we know – it came from within us.  Nothing can come out of our mouths if it wasn’t in our hearts in the first place.  Scary, isn’t it? 

We would benefit from asking ourselves the questions Job asked.  “Would it turn out well if He examined you? Could you deceive Him as you might deceive men?” ~ Job 13:9

We may be good at deceiving people, but no one can deceive God.  He knows us far better than we will ever know ourselves.  These God-administered “stress tests” reveal us for who we really are.  Though this is often painful, it’s also necessary.  We’re not likely to submit to treatment for a condition before we become aware of it. 

What is God revealing to you today?

Father, thank you for loving me enough to reveal the true condition of my heart. Help me to accept the truth and receive the treatment necessary to make me look more like your Son Jesus.

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