Having a Hannah Heart

Hannah has always been one of my favorite names. Yes, it is my daughter’s name. And yes, we were inspired by Hannah in the Bible when choosing that name. Please read the entire story in 1st Samuel Chapter One to get the full picture. I’m just going to hit a few highlights of this amazing, admirable woman’s life.

Hannah shared a husband named Elkanah with a woman named Peninnah (interesting names, huh?). Hannah physically could not have children (which was severely looked down upon in that culture). Peninnah was able to have children – and would “taunt Hannah and make fun of her” (v.6) because she couldn’t. Elkanah wasn’t much help either. After finding Hannah crying and not eating because of her barrenness – he makes this clueless statement:

Why are you crying, Hannah? Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me – isn’t that better than having ten sons??? (1 Samuel 1:8) He might as well have said, “I’m Vinnie Barbarino!!!” (Welcome Back Kotter 70’s), “I’m Keith Hernandez” (Seinfeld 90’s) or “I’m Sheldon Cooper!!! (Big Bang Theory 2000’s).

Anyway, here are some key attributes we can learn from the life of Hannah.

  1. She pleaded intensely and honestly to God. Her praying was described as having “great anguish and sorrow” (v.16) and “I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord” (v.15). She even made this vow to God, ” . . . if you give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours his entire lifetime (v. 11). What a model for our prayer life. Do we lay our concerns, disappointments, and pain in front of God with upfront, raw, vulnerable truth and emotion? Or have we grown comfortable with cliched phrases, recited prayers, thee’s and thou’s, and bringing him our wish lists? As my friend says, “God is a big boy – he can take whatever you’ve got.” Plus, are we at that point where we can give up whatever he asks of us?

2) She made peace with God after getting it all out. Verse 18 says, “Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.” Just like a superstar athlete “leaves everything on the field” – she left everything with God. She got her appetite back and the sadness left her. That can only happen when we have a clear conscience and internal peace beyond our circumstances. She left that place still barren physically – but she also left trusting God and realizing only he could give her supernaturally what she was requesting. She chose to go on living her life and not let it be dictated by feelings.

3) She lived her life in the present moment. Micracuoulsy, God gave her a son (v.19,20) The tricky part was that she promised to “give him back to God” if he answered her prayer. Verses 24-27 show that she did that very thing. Here’s the deal – she learned to live every moment to the fullest with the baby before the time came to fulfill her promise. She enjoyed what she had instead of dreading what was coming in the future. There is no evidence of her having sorrow and anguish because she was going to have to eventually give him up. There are no examples of her backing out of her promise to God. She didn’t bargain with God or say, “Just kidding – do I really have to give him back to you???” She didn’t try to run and escape when the time came to deliver on her vow.

Hannah’s response is incomprehensible as she delivers the baby to the priest Eli for a lifelong commitment of service in the temple. “Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life. “And they worshipped the Lord there.

Worship, seriously? Not a trace of crying, regret, or sadness? Not a plot to go back and snag the baby? No, here is her response instead, “My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong. . . ” (1 Samuel 2:1).

Conclusion – If you have a chance, also read 1st Samuel Chapter 2 verses 1-11 to see Hannah’s character on display in her prayer to God.

But the story doesn’t end there. The Bible talks about how God is able to do “exceedingly more than we ask or think . . .” (Ephesians 3:20). And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters! (1 Samuel 2:21) Wow! She went from barren to having The Brady Bunch!

Where in our lives to we need to turn something completely over to God? When do we need to start worshiping him instead of being made neutralized because of our circumstances? And where can we look back and see that God came through beyond our limited expectations? It starts with having a heart like Hannah.

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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You need more than a vacation this summer . . .

As someone in the field of education – I can proudly say we finally hit the finish line at the end of May. The 2020-2021 school year was brought to a close! I can assure you – everyone associated directly or indirectly with education does not “get all summer off.” However, we do get some quality time off.

I wanted to share something profound with my staff as we briefly met on our last work day of the school year. I couldn’t come up with anything. Though sincere, I didn’t want one more time of “thanking everyone for the sacrifices you made”, rehash how tough COVID has been, or try to pretend to comprehend the depth of loss so many have experienced this year.

I came across a newsletter from April 2021 that said exactly what I wanted to say. It is from author John Eldredge, from the Wild at Heart ministry. The condensed version is below:

We are now emerging, in some places sooner than others, from a year of global trauma. Your soul (mind, will, and emotions) needs some tending to.

And to be clear, it has been trauma. To be robbed of your normal routine for months upon months; to be kept in a state of uncertainty; to face serial disappointments large and small; to be bombarded by bad news; to face death; and never clear on when the finish line would appear. May I point out that this is exactly what is done to prisoners under interrogation, when their captors want to break them down?! The past twelve months have been rough on our humanity.

Now is the time to begin planning for your recovery. Because you are now, or soon will be entering, the phase of rehab and recovery.

Oh yes – there will be joy in simply going out to dinner, watching your kids play sports, seeing your family face-to-face, going to church, ball games, concerts. It will be lovely. May all those things come to you by summer!

But simply getting a hot dog at a baseball game, or going to a movie is not sufficient to address the trauma you have been through. So what I’m recommending is that you begin to map out for yourself a “rehab and recovery plan” for your soul.

For example, most of us have done a pretty good job of “rallying” over the past year, and congratulations for it. Well done, everyone! Good job! but rallying for months and months required tapping deeply into our reserves, and they are tapped out. Don’t think so? Feel like that’s just for others? How would you feel if I told you another pandemic is coming next month, and we are starting all over? I bet the very thought of it takes you to the brink. There’s not a lot left in the reserve tank.

Now, in order to replenish your reserves, you need a period of time where more is coming “in” than is going “out.” That’s the simple math. You can’t replenish your reserves if you are still spending 100% or more in your weekly output. This is why, for most people, vacations are so wonderful.

I hope you’ll give some careful thought as to how you’ll be spending your vacation time this year. It’s an important part of your recovery plan. But it’s only a part, dear friends. One or two weeks off is not going to address the harm your soul has been through over the course of an entire, unprecedented year of global tension, lockdown, and loss.

We need simple rest; working in the garden; sunsets on the deck; picnics and swimming – things that are close at hand and don’t require major effort to get to the joyful parts. More coming in than is going out. My sons call it the “Cost to Joy Ratio.”

Every outing, adventure, party, vacation, and undertaking has a cost to it. The question you want to ask is this: Does the joy that the event brings you outweigh the cost it requires to make it happen? Is more coming in than is going out? (If you need a vacation to recover from your vacation, you’ve got the cost/joy ratio all wrong!) This is important to consider anytime, but essential to think through in a year like this when we are all recovering from global trauma and need to take our recovery plan seriously.

Here’s what we can do:

Give yourself several opportunities in the next few weeks to sit down with a pad of paper and just noodle on the idea of a recovery plan. You know yourself – what would you recommend if you were counseling you over a three month recovery plan for your soul? How would you arrange for periods where more is coming in than is going out?

Just like with goals – there is so much more power and accountability when we write our intentions down. It can be as simple as a bullet point list. Maybe you’re like me in that often I feel guilty relaxing. I’m still learning the value of how to do nothing – and that’s okay. If my “to do” list doesn’t get completed – that’s okay. And if I binge watch Cobra Kai instead of doing a stack of dishes and take out the trash . . . well . . . oops . . . that’s not okay. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Be still . . . and know that I am God. (Psalm 46: 10)

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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How can I change the world when I’m overwhelmed?

An individual on Instagram recently observed the phrase “Be the spark that changes the world!” on a billboard – and here was his reaction:

“I’m 62 and have been a vocational pastor for 39 years. I serve in a smallish church of very diverse believers, and commit around 55 hours per week to active ministry: I’ve got my hands and heart full, and don’t know that I can handle much more.

So yesterday’s billboard wasn’t helpful. It urged college students with one part encouragement and one part moral imperative to “Be the spark that changes the world.” While some are supposedly changing the world, I’ve been reinforcing the faith of the pew-6 brother who’s battling porn, the pew-9 widow who has 3 young children, and the pew-29 teen whose faith has hit the skids. I’ve kept busy trying to help my flock survive in the world and thrive in Jesus.”

thegospelcoalition from Instagram May 14th

This pastor has discovered these basic truths:

1) That changing the world is right in front of us.

2) It starts with making the difference in one life.

3) That every little bit we give can help a greater cause.

Deep inside I believe we all want to make a difference, we want our lives to matter. We desire to leave a legacy whenever our time has ended. However, the world we live in is overflowing with so many problems – hunger, lack of clean water, disease, a global pandemic, homelessness, human trafficking, crime, drugs, corruption, financial crisis, natural disasters and on and on . . . Add to that, our own day to day struggles we cope with by simply being humans on planet Earth.

Maybe you’re like me and have fallen into the false narratives of:

It’s too overwhelming – so I’m not going to do anything at this moment.

As soon as I get more money I can start giving to these causes.

What difference can I make with all of these global problems?


Fortunately, a quote by speaker/author Beth Moore recently appeared on Instagram (I promise I don’t spend all of my free time on social media 🙂

We can’t do 1000 things to the glory of God but we can do a few. Let’s do what He’s placed in front of us presently with all our might.

Nothing done in His name is insignificant or purposeless. We have this day. This one day.

Here is a simple way to start making an impact: Start with one cause you are passionate about – and start with $1. Don’t overthink it. Don’t claim, “It’s not enough.” Just get started today!

No one can stretch a dollar further than God can! (You can tweet that 🙂

Need some ideas? Here are just a few organizations near and dear to my heart:

  1. Charitywater.org – Founder Scott Harrison’s goal is that every person on the planet have access to clean water. Any donation amount is welcomed.
  2. Compassion International and World Vision – make a difference in a child’s life who is living in poverty by providing them food and an education for about a $1 a day.
  3. Gospel for Asia – You can support a missionary and his family for $1 a day.
  4. A21.org – Nick and Christine Caine have the revolutionary vision to end human trafficking everywhere on the planet. Any amount of donation is encouraged.
  5. Goals for Bowls – a ministry located near my hometown of Keller, TX. Their mission is to provide meals, clean water, medicine, and soccer balls to impoverished children all over the world. Their giving platform starts at $1. Check out their website at goalsforbowls.com.
  6. Mananutrition.org – they have created a vitamin enriched peanut butter paste called “Mana” that can save children from malnutrition.
  7. Samaritan’s Purse – Franklin Graham leads this ministry of global assistance when any kind of disaster strikes.

God looks at our hearts. We can “Be the spark that changes the world.” It starts with helping one person or cause out – and then growing from there.

While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” (Luke 21: 1-4)

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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What is the best way to “fix” someone who needs “fixing”?

Do you have people in your life that have issues? Perhaps some folks lacking self awareness? Individuals that just don’t “get it”? You can clearly see what steps they need to take to make things right, but they won’t? Or, are you that person in other peoples lives??? 🙂

Last night I came across a scripture that I have read probably hundreds of times during my life. However, an author from a book I’m reading put it into an entirely new context. The book is called A Prayer For Orion by Katherine James. It is her grueling story of her teenage son’s battle with heroin addiction. By her own admission, how many times her and her husband just wanted God to “fix” their son. And isn’t there something more to “do” than just pray?

Jesus is talking to Peter before his crucifixion on how the disciples would abandon Jesus. Peter insisted he never would. Jesus foresaw the future and mentioned that not only would Peter abandon him, he would also verbally deny him three times. Here are the verses and what I learned from them:

“Simon (Peter), Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32)

  1. Satan wanted to destroy all of the disciples. If Satan couldn’t take their lives, he at least wanted to annihilate their faith. I always thought this verse was about Peter alone. I never noticed the request “to sift each of you like wheat.” Sifting in those days was to separate, tear apart, isolate, and shake violently. I think all of us can recall examples when we have been sifted within the last two years. We frequently need to be reminded that we have an unseen enemy.
  2. Even Jesus needed to pray to God the Father. Frequently throughout his 33 years of life – Jesus modeled praying first instead of analyzing, controlling, and attempting to fix. Try a Google search sometime on the subject of Jesus praying. A verse that has always spoke to me is Mark 1:35 – Very early in the morning while it was still dark, Jesus got up and went to a solitary place where he prayed. If he needed to start his day this way – how much more do you and I need to? I have some good news if you’re a night owl and not a morning person! The Jews believe that a new day begins in the evening. So if you enjoy staying up late – you’re really getting an early start on the next day!
  3. Jesus prayed for Peter’s faith, not that he would be “fixed.” Jesus or the Father probably could have supernaturally zapped Peter and changed him. They definitely could have altered events so Peter would have been protected from his painful betrayal of Jesus. However, Jesus believed Peter’s faith would be made stronger through this crisis. And, he knew that Peter couldn’t have a worldwide impact in his current state (see the book of Acts to witness Peter’s amazing transformation).
  4. Jesus spoke of a hopeful future to Peter. “When you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Paraphrased: “I believe in you Peter. You’ll have regrets – but no one is too far from my forgiveness, and you’ll come back. Then I need you to go in your new faith and strength and help others that are struggling.” Jesus easily could have shamed Peter, told him that he better not blow his big chance, replaced him, or he could have lectured him. Jesus knew Peter needed to go through the pain of betrayal and loss to truly be sold out as a follower.

Conclusion – Someday when I’m in Heaven – I sincerely and respectfully want to ask God, “Please help me understand what praying was about while I was on Earth?” Until then, it is obvious God has made it a huge priority. Next time we want to fix, label, or solve someone – let’s try praying for them first instead. Maybe if we take a deep look inside there might be an area or two we need to fix within ourselves? Jesus continually demonstrated praying first, receiving direction, and then taking action. Or, he waited for His Father to go to work after praying. Possibly it is just all of us slowing down a little bit and copying his example as we rush through life like fire ants whose pile has just been kicked. Jesus loved and cared deeply for Peter, saw his amazing potential, and was dedicated to letting him grow in his faith despite the pain involved. Guess what? Jesus wants the same for you and I.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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What Does it Take to Have WaltVision?

A year ago, March of 2020 – we were visiting “The Happiest Place on Earth” located in Orlando. Little did we know that the park was going to shut down two days after we left because of a certain virus that was making its way through society. A year later, March 2021 – we are getting vaccines for the virus, temporarily staying in a hotel because of the horrific Texas storms in February, and watching the attempts to finish up a school year while some states still haven’t reopened their schools.

Let’s go back to a happy place, Disneyworld 🙂 This is the 50th year celebration of Disney World being open. Plus, hopefully the celebration of Disneyland reopening at the end of April. I’ve recently been reading the book Disney’s Land by Richard Snow. It focuses on the chaos that happened before the original Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955. The dealings with land, contractors, employees, architecture, horticulture, unions, and the big one – finances. Here are a five fun facts you may not have known:

  1. Multiple times Walt almost went bankrupt and Disneyland would not have happened. He cashed in part of his life insurance policy, his brother sold his car to pay workers at one point, and the cost of the park skyrocketed from a projected 1.5 million dollars to 17 million dollars.
  2. The names Disneylandia and Mickey Mouse Park were first considered.
  3. Ray Kroc offered to have McDonalds as a sponsor and one of the original restaurants in Disneyland. For some unknown reason, Walt declined.
  4. A plumbers strike threatened the grand opening. Walt had to decide on running restrooms or running water fountains. He wisely chose restrooms.
  5. Walt chose Art Linkletter to be the TV host and master of ceremonies for the ABC special that was airing live on opening day. Art selected two co-hosts to assist him. One of them was a marginally known actor named Ronnie Regan.

It wasn’t all magic and pixie dust dealing with Walt. His brother Roy was frustrated innumerable times by Walt’s unending borrowing and spending. Workers constantly grew upset with Walt over his obsession with details that no one was probably ever going to see or notice. And his saint of a wife, Lillian, dealt with his anxiety, wild and seemingly impossible dreams, and the amount of time he was away from home.

In spite of his flaws, Walt possessed extraordinary vision. Speaker and author Jon Maxwell defines vision as: “Being able to look forward and see what others can’t.” Walt was a master at that skill.

Maybe you have a vision that no one “gets.” Maybe you want to venture out into a new job, open a business, write a book or song or screenplay, invest in a start-up, create a new ministry, take a trip (when countries open), begin a non-profit, pursue a risky relationship, learn to play an instrument, fight an injustice – the list is endless. First of all, it is 100% normal that people won’t “get” your vision. Expect to go at it alone at the beginning. However, I believe people are looking to follow a vision they can get behind, support, and get excited about. Here are some tips on how Walt communicated his vision:

  1. Walt showed models, maps, and drawings whenever possible. Amusement parks were looked down upon in the 1950’s. The gloomy forecast was that they had no future. Walt had to continue showing visually what was in his mind – he wanted to create something amazing that had never been attempted before.
  2. Walt was a gifted storyteller. When he didn’t have visual aids, he would paint a picture using his talented speaking skills. He told the entire story of Snow White to a room full of employees for over 2 hours to convince them to move forward on creating the first full length cartoon movie.
  3. Walt realized he couldn’t do it all. He would seek out specialists that were the best in their fields and hire them (or give them rights to future earnings). And oftentimes these specialists were so gifted – Walt asked them to create never before seen rides, films, exhibits, and architecture.

Conclusion – What is your version of Disneyland? What is a tiny start you could take today to begin making it a reality? It’s time to stop over planning, overanalyzing, and waiting for everything to be perfect – (I’m speaking first to myself). As author Mark Batterson says, “You are one decision away from a totally different life.”

“Where there is no vision, the people perish . . . ” (Proverbs 29:18)

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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Instead of “Why me?” – Try This Question . . .

“As we conclude the 14th month of 2020 . . . ” Unknown

“And the hits just keep coming . . . ” Tom Cruise – A Few Good Men

I have a whole new sensitivity when I listen to the news and hear about undrinkable water, bad storms, homes and businesses destroyed, flooding, foreign governments intentionally turning the power off on their people, and so on and so forth.

I recently told a friend, “All I really want is to coast for a little while and stop having to deal with stuff.” The friend completely agreed, he has dealt with crisis after crisis the last few years. I’m sure you would like a break also. If you haven’t been effected by COVID-19, the Texas storm, an unexpected health situation, the passing of a family member, a large financial loss – then you’ve got to know someone who has.

So what do we do? I’ve been reading an amazing book by Mark Batterson called Win the Day. He shares how his wife dealt with an unexpected cancer diagnosis:

Lora was diagnosed with breast cancer. If you’ve had cancer or have a loved one who has, you know that a thousand questions fire across your synapses. What stage is it? How do we treat it? What is the prognosis? Fortunately, we caught it early and Lora is better than ever.

Can I brag on my wife? I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of her. She participated in her own healing process by making some courageous changes. She became intentional about everything she put into her body and mind. Along with changing our diet, we did our best to eliminate toxins in our environment. Yes, that includes people. Lora started practicing meditation more regularly. We even started frequenting comedy clubs. Why? Laughter “doeth good like medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)

When you get cancer, denying the diagnosis does no good. If you don’t own it, it will own you. For Lora, the healing process began with a brave question (for God – Dave’s words) she stumbled across while reading a poem about illness:

What have you come to teach me?

When we find ourselves in difficult situations, we get so focused on getting out of them that we fail to get anything out of them. Then we wonder why we find ourselves in the same situation all over again. There is nothing wrong with asking God to change your circumstances, but His primary objective is changing you. The circumstances you’re asking him to change may be the very circumstances He is using to change you. . . . Maybe it has come to teach you a lesson that could not be learned any other way! (Pg. 42)

That’s nice and everything, but what about:

“I don’t want to learn any more lessons!”

“This lesson is too personal and painful!”

“Haven’t we been through this one already?”

“Why do I keep taking hits and others aren’t?”

Plus, we may not get an answer right away – or at all. And if we do, it might not be the answer we were hoping for. Very rarely are we able to scratch our heads and say, “Oh, I get it now, that makes perfect sense! And that makes all the misery worth it!”

However, in spite of our feelings, pains, and disappointments – we keep asking the question to God out of trust.

We’re human beings and we feel and hurt and wonder. God loves us too much to let us stay the same. Am I going to draw closer to Him, or try to figure out His mind and reasoning? I love this quote from Christine Caine, “God asks us to love Him with all of our hearts, not understand Him with all of our minds.” Plus, if we repent of our sins and believe His son died for us – we always have the hope Jesus returning to take us to a heavenly home where there is no pain, illnesses, death, lack of resources, corruption, and so on and so forth.

“And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever . . . ” (1 John 2:17)

Blessings,

Dave :

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

 

 

 

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2021 has got to be a better year – right???

Many including myself have commented that 2020 was probably the worst year of our lives. Many including myself have commented that things have got to be better in 2021. Many including myself have uttered the phrase, “I just want things to get back to normal.” 

I’m afraid to even suggest – what if 2021 is rougher than we think it is going to be? C’mon – you have to admit the thought possibly crossed your mind? It continues to go back to our lack of control, lack of uncertainty of when the hard times will end, and struggling to find glimpses of hope in our current circumstances. 
Here are 3 “scrolling” practices I’ve come across that we can do to help find what I call “pockets of joy.”


1) Scroll through photos on your phone – Since most of us don’t have photo albums, try scrolling through your phone. I was surprised that 2020 had a lot of great moments – birthdays, friendships, vacations, officiating my niece’s wedding, inspirational online messages, my awesome wife, kids and grandkid, the greatest dog in the world, meeting Murray from Impractical Jokers, and on and on. I feel even better when scroll through years past and see so many happy moments I had forgotten about. Try it!


2) Scroll (browse) through the stories of God’s faithfulness in the Bible – Hebrews says “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by The Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Like most of you, I don’t feel that great after watching the news or spending extensive time on social media.

However, when I read the Bible – I’m encouraged, inspired, hear God’s voice, anticipate the endless joy of heaven, and can be reminded of God’s faithfulness in the past when things looked hopeless. Moses and all of Israel were up against the Red Sea – no problem, God can split it and create a pathway. Mary was going to give birth to the Savior of the World before she got married? No problem, the Holy Spirit miraculously places the Son of God in her womb. Jesus is facing a food shortage for over 5000 people. No problem, Jesus looks to the Father for help, He provides – and “everyone ate and was satisfied” (Matthew 14:20).

Facing a global pandemic that started in 2020, the people were filled with anxiety, hopelessness, and despair. No problem, God _________________ (we’ll see what He is going to do)!

3) Scroll (write) using a journal – Research shows the power in physically writing things down, and even more power when they are verbally spoken. Our journals can be a cheap notebook. We don’t have to write something every day. They don’t have to be perfect. If you’re afraid of someone reading it – write in a secret code that only you and God understand and hide it in a good spot 🙂

Plus, we make the rules for what goes into the journals: thoughts, dreams, challenges, lists, goals, prayer requests, quotes, life events, meaningful scriptures, ideas, sketches, worries, and on and on! Part of the power comes from looking back months or years later and seeing the goals that were accomplished, the prayers that were answered, or how a dream unexpectedly came true!

Conclusion – “His faithful promises are your armor and protection” (Psalm 91:4).

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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One More Person to Add to the Manger Scene. . .

It is refreshing to be driving at night and see the Christmas light displays. It doesn’t make 2020 go away – but it helps spark a tiny bit of hope. Seeing the manger scenes also help bring me back to what this season is supposed to be about.

The manger scenes usually feature the familiar cast of characters: Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, baby Jesus (of course!), animals, and sometimes an angel or a star hovering over the display. I wanted to propose adding one more statue or figurine to the group – a guy named Simeon.

It was over 30 years ago when I heard a sermon preached about Simeon for the first time. And last week, our guest pastor (Max Lucado) had Simeon as the main focus in his message. So who is Simeon and what’s the big deal about him?

We first hear about him in Luke Chapter 2:

At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him . . . (Luke 2: 25-33).

What we can learn from Simeon’s example:

  1. He was eagerly and hopefully waiting for the Messiah (living righteous and devout in the meantime).
  2. He clung to the promise that the Holy Spirit had given him.
  3. He was ready when the right time came to be led by God.

My thoughts are that if #1 and #2 listed above were not actively going on in Simeon’s life – he more than likely would have missed #3. As a righteous man he had to go against what the culture said was truth. Being devout meant he had dedication, discipline, and perseverance no matter what his circumstances were. Having The Holy Spirit upon him allowed him to be sensitive to God’s voice in spite of the doubts and noise around him.

So when the time came for “that day the Spirit led him to the temple” – he was ready to step into the promise that who knows how long he had been clinging to. Again, without #1 and #2 he could have:

Slept in that day.

Thought it was his imagination telling him to go at that particular time and ignored the prompting.

Been distracted for even a few minutes where he would have missed Jesus.

Start fixating on the past and wonder where God was during his struggles?

Given up hope on the promise, and rightly so. Who knows how long he had been waiting?

He could have listened to the voice of the enemy and gone anywhere but the temple.

Unfortunately, several of the above statements resonate with my life – how about you? But Simeon stayed true to who he was and more importantly, who God is. And he got to hold the Savior of the World in his hands!

Conclusion – May we all strive to be more like Simeon. Seeking the truth in a world overflowing with loud microphones and false messages. Disciplined in a world that pushes us towards comfort and convenience. Clinging to God’s promises from the Bible and those He has placed in our hearts by His Spirit – instead of believing and following the ungodly and self-condemning voices that “mysteriously” appear in our heads. Merry Christmas!!!

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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In Sickness and in Health . . .

There are so many people sick right now, or we know of someone that is fighting an illness. So many are struggling. The stastics are overwhelming – I don’t even want to listen to the news. When will there be relief in sight?
One way God gets my attention is when I’m sick. I don’t feel like watching TV, seeing old movies, or reading. I just default to laying there feeling sorry for myself, thinking about all I need to be doing – and when can I get back to “normal”?
I’ve had two significant non-COVID health battles this year. I’m back to “normal”now. During the sessions of rotating from the couch to the bed – I noticed it was an internal time for reflection, repentance, and recommitment. My big takeaways have been, and maybe you also can relate:


1) My faith isn’t as strong as I thought it was. It is so easy to read my Bible, belt out worship tunes, pray, and bless those around me – when things are going well and I feel healthy. Some of the biggest issues brought to light were how much I was going to Google with my questions instead of God. Scrolling through Twitter instead of the Scriptures. Piddling around on my phone instead of prioritizing prayer. 

2) There are so many hurting people that need our help right now. It is overwhelming to look at it big picture. It’s very easy to throw up our arms and say “I give up – what difference can I make?” One solution might be to minimize it down to just helping a single person out. A text, an email, a call, a finanial contribution, a socially distant visit, a gift card – such a variety of little things we can do to take the focus off of ourselves and give someone else a tiny sliver of hope. Just start with someone you know is hurting right now. A few days ago I sent a text to a former employee that was about 3 sentences long – and I immediately received a joyful response! It felt like she had been waiting all this time for that message.

3) Prayer is the one of the most amazing, baffling, powerful, and un-figureoutable things we can do. Why do some get prayers get answered immediately the first time? And then other times it has been years with seemingly little or no changes? Why do we pray and things appear to get worse? I don’t know – but we must trust in the fact that God sure does know.

“As high as the heavens are above the earth – so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.” (Isaiah 55: 9)

One of the toughest questions to ask going through sickness, tough times, disappointments and crisises is: “Lord, what are you trying to show me through this?”

God continues to prioritze and personalize that internal growth:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen in temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

https://www.amazon.com/author/davidrische

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Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Hello! You should have received an email newsletter with my blog this month. Word Press is my host website, and they have changed their format. I’m unable to edit or save on it at this time. I’ll figure it out. In the meantime, here is an inspirational quote from the great Jon Gordon to get you through your day:

“It’s never going to be easy. It’s not supposed to be. Life is good and then bam you get hit with adversity. Don’t give up. It’s how you respond that determines the future you create.”

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