Who Are You C.S. Lewis To?

I thoroughly enjoy The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia books and movies. My wife has had the experience of visiting the pub in England where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would sit by the fireplace discussing their stories, characters, hopes and dreams regarding their work. However, I recently discovered that The Lord of the Rings came close to never happening. We were almost deprived of one of the greatest literary works of all time. Here is the story from Michael Hyatt’s book Your Best Year Ever (pg.177-179):

After the surprise success of J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s novel, The Hobbit, in the fall of 1937 his publisher asked him to write a sequel. The public, he wrote, will be “clamouring to hear more from you about Hobbits!” Tolkien had no plan for a follow-up at first. “I am a little perturbed,” he responded. “I cannot think of anything more to say about hobbits.

The issue might have ended there, but it didn’t.

Tolkien mentioned that he had written more about Middle Earth, the imaginary world in which The Hobbit transpires. He offered to let his publisher read the material, even though it was missing the star attraction. “I should rather like an opinion, other than that of Mr. C. S. Lewis and my children, whether it has any value in itself . . . apart from hobbits.”

A cog was turning in Tolkien’s mind. For nearly two decades he’d hustled at uninteresting, sideline writing projects to make financial ends meet. But now, despite having no real plans for a sequel, he was imagining how he might pull it off. “I must confess that your letter has aroused in me a faint hope,” he continued. “I begin to wonder whether duty (the need for cash) and desire (his passion for the stories he loved) may not (perhaps) in future go more closely together.”

You can hear it through the tentative language: Here at last was his big chance to tell stories he loved and simultaneously improve his family’s financial situation Tolkien knew this was a life-changing opportunity. All he had to do was write another novel – preferably with more hobbits. Easy, right? It seemed so at first. By Christmas he finished the first chapter of the sequel. He was on his way! But then life happened.

Personal distractions, professional duties, and health crises seemed to pile up and prevent him from making any progress. Several times he gave up work on the project. “I have no idea what to do with it,” he admitted. Reading through his letters, you can spot a familiar zigzag pattern. He went back and forth between feeling confident and close to finishing, and running out of inspiration and energy to complete the project. At one point he said his “labour of delight” had been “transformed into a nightmare.”

So how did Tolkien overcome the distractions and discouragement to finish The Lord of the Rings, one of the top-selling books of the twentieth century? The answer starts back at the beginning with Tolkien’s friend, C.S. Lewis. At several critical moments, Lewis encouraged Tolkien to stick with the project when he had given up. “Only by his support and friendship did I ever struggle to the end of the labour,” he said in 1954 as the first reviews began coming in. Over a decade later, he still was quick to credit Lewis for his support:

“The unpayable debt that I owe to him was . . . sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him did I ever get the idea that my “stuff” could be more than a private hobby. But for his interest and unceasing eagerness for more I should never have brought The Lord of the Rings to a conclusion.”

 

Leadership expert Jon Maxwell has a simple litmus test to know if someone needs encouragement or not: “If they are breathing, they need encouragement.” Why don’t we make it our ambition this year to be excessively liberal with our praise and encouragement to those around us? What great work is being stalled or perhaps extinguished because a person is fed up with it, and no one around them is speaking life to them?

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1st Thessalonians 5:11)

Blessings,

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

 

 

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It Was a Merry Christmas! . . . But When is He Coming Back?

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. The Book of Acts talks about Him ascending into Heaven. Various portions of the Bible talk about Him returning to claim His people who have repented of their sins and put their faith in Him. So even with the focus of the holiday season is on His arrival – our natural curiosities question when will He return? Today? Next week? In one hundred years? Even though Jesus’ return is a separate event, many have linked “the end of the world” with it.

I still remember back in the 80’s borrowing a book from a friend called “88 Reasons Why The Lord Will Return in 1988”. I don’t think He came back then, maybe the author needed the 89th reason?  We had the Y2K scare in 2000 – not much became of that. Maybe Y3K will be the big one? A lot of attention was focused on 2012 being the end of the world due to the ancient Mayan calendar. In fact,  I bought a very persuasive book that had convincing scientific theory and facts behind it. Anyway, as far as I know, it didn’t happen in 2012. Switch the numbers, and possibly 2021 could be the year? And finally, I didn’t read the story – but I remember a headline in late September of 2017 claiming numerologists had determined the world was going to end that weekend. If memory serves, I think we had a brief thunderstorm – but the world definitely didn’t end. So when will it end?

As mentioned earlier, the Bible shows that Jesus returning and “the end of the world” are two different events. First, regarding His return:

But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Mark 13: 32)

So that pretty much sums up trying to predict the exact date when He is going to come back. His Father knows and will reveal that information in His timing. Second, without going too deep – many believe that the Bible teaches the Earth isn’t going to be wiped out, blown up, or destroyed. In fact, the opposite is true – it is going to be restored, and Heaven is going to come down to Earth. Eden will once again be as God originally intending it to be. Think of the ending in Beauty and the Beast to get a visual. I strongly recommend the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn if you want an amazing, scripture backed perspective regarding what the future holds. Check out these verses:

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  (Revelation 21: 5) (Notice all things new, not all new things – my words.)

“Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne . . . ” (Matthew 19: 28)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away . . . And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,  (Revelation 21: 1, 2)

So what do we do in the meantime besides speculate dates and write books about when He will return? Oops – forgot that He said no one knows the date. If you have time, read the entire chapter of Mark 13 as Jesus is directly telling His disciples what to look for. Toward the end, He speaks a universal message to all of us that has an overriding theme in five verses (Mark 13: 33-37):

  • Take heed (which means “watch out!”) . . . (v. 33)
  • . . . keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come (v. 33)
  • . . . to stay on the alert (v. 34)
  • Therefore be on the alert – for you do not know when the master of the house is coming (v. 35)
  • And just in case we’ve missed His point – “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!'” (v. 37)

What does being on the alert look like for us? What steps and choices can we take today so we will be ready whether He returns today, next week, or in one hundred years?

He closes the last book of the Bible with a message of hope and anticipation:

Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me . . .  (Revelation 22:12)

 

Blessings,

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

 

 

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The Stories Behind The Story . . . .

A few days ago I was waiting on the world’s slowest printer to finish a job. I know – new ones are very affordable and high quality. However,  I can be cheap, er . . . uh, I mean “frugal” at times. While I was waiting for the papers to come out, I started staring at the two shelves packed with books above the printer. I looked closely at each book spine and started to reflect on why I had that book. Memories of people and places started flooding my mind. I also started to think about if it was given by someone, or what made me purchase it, and even what was going on in my life during that time period.

Special thanks to my grade school teachers and my mother for encouraging me to read and develop a love for it. However, I do have a horrible habit now of reading 2-3 books at a time (anyone else out there does this?) Below is a tiny sample of a few books that stood out and why:

  1.  The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – I originally checked out these from our school library back in 5th grade (the 70s!) – those tales were unlike anything I had ever read before. It still is my favorite non-fiction story. Those books also helped me discover the fantasy genre and peaked my interest in drawing.
  2. Building Your Mate’s Self Esteem – one of four required reading texts during our premarital counseling over 27 years ago. Timeless advice regarding the way we speak to our spouse. We learned the concept of how our words can create an upward or downward spiral in our relationship. That once you verbally proclaim something – it’s out there! The entire book is based on Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
  3. Wild at Heart – I was visiting a church for the first time on Father’s Day almost 17 years ago. At end of the service, the pastor casually mentioned picking up a copy of it for the men. No thanks, I had read enough men’s books to last a lifetime. About 3 months later – I saw one copy of it on the shelf at Half Price Books. I felt like it was whispering to me to buy it. To avoid hearing any more voices, I hesitantly purchased it. The book then sat on my shelf at home for about 3-4 months. For whatever reason, I picked it up one day and decided to start reading it. Besides the Bible, it has been the most impactful book on my life. It was if the author, John Eldredge was having a one-on-one counseling session with me over a cup of coffee. I had the chance to meet him at one of his retreats back in 2004, and now I read everything he cranks out.
  4. Paul Harvey’s The Rest of The Story – Was published in 1977, but given to me by my late grandfather when he saw I had an interest in reading it when I’d visit his home. Thinking about this book brings back great memories of both sets of my grandparents and the times that we shared. It also triggered thoughts of listening to Mr. Harvey on the radio while we drove to and from school – anxiously awaiting – what was the rest of the story??? (Some of you youngsters have no idea what I’m talking about).

It was an amazing mental exercise – almost every book had either people, a feeling, an event or a place attached to it. My encouragement is for you to give it a try. Find a quiet moment. Take a look at your book collection. Think about why you bought it, or who gave it to you, and what was going on in your life during that time? Get lost in the people, sights, and sounds. Maybe it was a difficult time period of your life. It could be time to pray for healing and extend forgiveness to the offending party. Or it might open a vault of happy memories and remind you of how far you’ve come on your journey.

If you’re comfortable – please share a title or two in the comments or on FB, and why that book is important to you.

Blessings,

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

 

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Did Jesus Have An “Indiana Jones” Moment?

In answer to the question in the header, He actually had several during His time on earth. But we’ll get to that in a moment. First, we must ask: Was Jesus more like Indiana Jones (strong, adventurer, fearless, calm under pressure, takes on evil), or a hippie from the Woodstock era? If we take a sincere look inside our minds – it is amazing what stained glass images and preconceived notions we have of Him. As I’ve traveled to different countries or visited a variety of museums – it is interesting the vast amount of interpretations that are out there. Any of these sound familiar? Him wearing a flowing robe similar to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Dumbledore, or Gandalf? Bearded and long-haired, sometimes neatly parted down the middle? Pale complexion, thin, monotone, frequently using the gesture of the “peace sign” in His travels – or one hand lifted up as He is teaching a group of eager listeners? Tender Jesus meek and mild? Author John Eldredge makes this observation in his book Beautiful Outlaw:

” . . . But is this the Jesus of our worship songs? The religious fog sneaks in to obscure Jesus with lines comparing him to, ‘a rose trampled on the ground.’ Helpless, lovely Jesus. Vegetarian, pacifist, tranquil. Oh, wait – that was Gandhi. Not Jesus.” (pg. 37)

Sometimes we forget:

He sternly took foul spirits head on and they fled  (a possible Indy moment!). Luke 4:35

He cleared a temple of crooks and animals with a whip (definite Indy moment!). John 2:15

As a carpenter, he didn’t have chainsaws or power saws. Rugged tools, rough wood, and working in the harsh Middle East heat (he was tough like Indy!). Mark 6:3

His presence was so strong, it pushed a group of soldiers back. John 18: 4-6

He didn’t care what people thought about Him because He knew His purpose, and the only One He needed to please was His Heavenly Father. Mark 12: 13-14

He walked everywhere – had to be in top-notch shape and have amazing endurance. Researchers estimate He walked over 15,000 miles during His lifetime.

I read this scripture a few weeks ago, and it helped me start thinking a completely new perspective:

“Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.” (John 10:39). “He eluded their grasp” in the past to me had been an image of Him racing through the crowd like a darting running back heading for the end zone. My Bible commentary conveniently skips explaining this verse. Another commentary I looked at states, “No explanation is given as to how he escaped.”  The King James version of the verse says, “Therefore they sought again to take Him: but He escaped out of their hand.” Two similar incidents are found in John 8:59 & Luke 4:30, and my commentary suggests “a miracle occurred” regarding his escape. Possibly. Maybe. Could have. We are left to wonder.

In my OPINION, here’s what I think happened based on two things:

  1. The multitude of ways Jesus displayed masculinity in the instances mentioned in the list above.
  2. The context of the way the religious authorities were treating Him. He was speaking the truth, and they were harassing Him (John 9:40, John 10:19,20, John 10: 24-26, and John 10:33).

I completely understand it was not His time to be taken into captivity that would ultimately lead to His death on the cross. So maybe he did vanish into thin air, swiftly eluded those after Him, or secretly sneak into the alleyway and hide until the bad guys were gone.

However, I choose to believe He aggressively took them on – and they backed off. “Their grasp” and “escaped out of their hand” seems to me they started to put their hands on Him. His response? I THINK He pulled away from whoever was grabbing Him with a yank or swim move while staring that person or persons down. Maybe He gave a slight shove to remind them who they were messing with. Perhaps those ready to stone Him dropped the rocks from their hands in an unspoken surrender. Then, quite possibly, the small crowd parted like the Red Sea as He confidently walked away because He had enough of their #$%&* for one day. Walked away, didn’t run.

I could be way off – but I like my version of the story. What are your thoughts? Please comment below 🙂

Blessings,

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

P.S. If you enjoyed this, please forward to a friend. Thanks! 🙂

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I Should Have Won The Powerball Jackpot . . .

Let’s be honest. When you heard about the recent $738 million Powerball – you started fantasizing how you would spend all of that money when you won (I did). Mansions, exotic travel, dining with celebrities, purchasing your own island in The Carribean . . . the possibilities are endless. Oh yes, almost forgot – we all usually add in, “I’d also give a lot of it away . . . ”

The news reported that with taxes, the lump sum payment would only be about $350 million. We could all probably still make it – however, it would require budgeting somewhere between $25-$50 million a year. I’m still confused how I hope to win it when I don’t buy the tickets???

If not the lottery, then maybe that oil lease I signed 5 years ago will finally produce “black gold” that could lead to some Beverly Hillbillies action on our land. We’ve been waiting patiently, checking the mailbox every other day. I guess it would help if they actually had some type of drilling operation going on near our home.

Maybe I just need to go ahead and give my bank account number to that Arabian Prince who keeps emailing me saying he has too much money, and all he needs is access to my account in order to share in my portion of his inheritance. I still can’t believe he is that kind and generous to offer me millions – and we haven’t even met!

Let’s face it. Winning it all initially sounds great. However, we all know the truth. Something deep inside of us thrives on hard work, perseverance, and the satisfaction of a job well done. The pride from finishing painting the interior of your home without having to hire someone. Laying down a couple of pallets of sod by yourself (or with a reluctant teenager). Working overtime to pay off that dreadful credit card or college loan. Finally getting that degree or certification you have sacrificed years to obtain. Several months ago I saw this quote by Natalia Wiechowski on LinkedIn and absolutely loved it:

“I am not lucky, not blessed, not talented. Ask my family and closest friends! When others “chilled”, I worked. When others partied, I studied. When others went on a holiday, I learned. If you want the life of your dreams, stop believing that only a small amount of “gifted” people deserve the very best in life. That is a lie to keep you unhappy, mediocre, and small. Start working relentlessly toward your targets instead. No lame excuses. Daily actions, please.” 

Wow, she doesn’t hold back any punches. Solid advice. Let me know how it goes as you pursue your targets. Author Jon Gordon (and I) firmly believe “your best days are ahead of you and not behind you!”

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.”  (Proverbs 22:29)

Blessings,

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

P.S. Please check out the new “Learning” section at http://www.davidrische.com. It features links to articles on Teaching Strategies, Continous Improvement, and Leadership – plus other stuff that doesn’t fit into neat and tidy categories 🙂

 

 

 

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Experiencing Your Breakthrough This Year

“It’s the ‘hard’ that makes it great. Otherwise, everybody would be doing it.”  Tom Hanks

2017 could possibly be the year that you pursue a challenge or dream that has been on your mind for a while. Could this be the opportunity for you to: go back to school or take a class, record a song, start a blog, audition for a part, interview for a promotion, start a business, teach a class, pursue a new hobby, try out for a team, write a book, etc.? Whatever it is – by strengthening yourself and your unique skill set – the ripple effect leads to impacting lives beyond your normal sphere of influence.

I continue to be amazed at the link between hard work and perseverance leading to success:

*JK Rowling’s Harry Potter idea was rejected by 12 publishers.

*Magician Criss Angel gets about 4 hours of sleep a night because he is continually perfecting his routine in Vegas. Oh, BTW, he makes over $150 million annually.

*Comedian Jay Leno worked biker bars and had food thrown at him while doing his routine.

*That struggling truck driver named Elvis knew he had something unique to offer to the world of music.

What about you and I? What practical steps can we take to experience a breakthrough in our area that brings us delight? I was recently reviewing notes I took from an “Influence and Impact Seminar” hosted by Micheal Hyatt (a GREAT person to follow on Twitter).  Michael interviewed a wide variety of high achievers. I was fascinated by the common threads each of the individuals had in their personal testimony. Below are four key points I gleaned from their wisdom and experiences.

1) They all had (and continue to have) fear.

“There is something amazing on the other end of your fear.” Pat Flynn

“‘I’m afraid’ is the most common theme, and it is a lie that you’re alone. Become more afraid of not trying something.” Jeff Goins

“Action cures fear. Procrastination and indulgence are really just creditors that charge us interest.” Rory Vaden

“There are trolls, and constructive critics, learn to ignore the trolls.” Crystal Paine

2) They started from humble beginnings and embraced a hard work ethic.

Dave Ramsey typed his first book at the kitchen table using Microsoft Works (yuck!). He would work on the book from 10 pm until 2 am after his children went to bed.

Lewis Howes refers to himself as an “8 year overnight success.” He would offer to apprentice and work for free to learn from the experts in his field.

John Maxwell was the pastor of a church that started with 3 people.

Rory Vaden and a friend divided the Yellow Pages in half to call everyone possible offering to speak their message for free. His philosophy is that “stage time is the secret to being a great speaker.”

Chris Brogan wrote a blog for 8 years that “basically he and his mother read” until he had his first 100 readers.

Jeff Goins quit his job and disciplined himself to write every single day until his first book became published.

3) Their focus changed to serving and adding value to others.

Crystal Paine advises, “Go back to your ‘Why?’ You want to be able to say ‘I did something that mattered with my life.’”

“Serve your audience, earnings are a by-product of how well I’ve served.” Pat Flynn

“It’s hard to be nervous when your heart’s on service.” Rory Vaden

“Every day do something to encourage and add value to people.” John Maxwell

“If your dream is so small and you don’t need a team – you need a bigger dream.” Jeff Goins

4) They make mistakes, have critics, and yet keep moving forward.

“Be prepared for the work and critics, just go do it!” Dave Ramsey

Bob Goff’s view on critics: “They’re smarter than me, they’re probably right, and they’re probably having a bad day.”

“People give up too soon, we want instant success.” Crystal Paine

“Even performing poorly – a goal can be completed. It is a journey over years. People don’t see the work that leads up to the big win. People get discouraged and quit right before the breakthrough.” Lewis Howes

“Our greatest detriment is taking ourselves too serious. Don’t let perfection get in the way. Just laugh at yourself.” John Maxwell

 

My goal is that one of these phrases or ideas caught your attention, and you want to move from thought to action. Hopefully, 2017 can be our greatest year of impact yet! Who knows, maybe you’ll someday be interviewed for the next “High Achiever Seminar”???

The world need your gift, and the world needs your story.” Crystal Paine

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10

Blessings,

Dave

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

P. S. Please click the above link for resources on strengthening your prayer life and helping teenagers with making wise choices.

 

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4 Paths to Powerful Peace

Even though it is summer, do you feel like “I can’t keep up”? By keeping up I’m referring to:  the latest crisis in the news, current events, social media postings, Netflix recommendations, stacks of unread books, bursting email inboxes, text messages, etc., etc., etc. When I read this newsletter paragraph from an organization called Ransomed Heart, I can completely relate:

First, a friend shared with me how much he was enjoying a podcast by a thoughtful NPR commentator, and the nuggets of insight were impressive. A few hours later a different friend mentioned how much they were getting out of another podcast. I thought to myself, I’d better subscribe to those; they sound really good and I feel like I’m not keeping up with the trends. That afternoon, Stasi said something about some world news event she had just read about, and I thought, Wow – I am not keeping up on global happenings. I’d better do more of that, too. During a meeting the next day, someone makes a reference to a well-known ministry when everyone else at the table nods like they knew the story, and I’m wondering, Wow – I have no idea what is going on in the church world; I need to keep up. Meanwhile during the same meeting everyone was checking their cell phones for messages, updates, and news . . .  The cumulative effect of all this – and I am describing a fairly benign and ordinary week – was to have a large part of me feeling woefully ill-informed, and grossly out of touch with all sorts of important matters. Shame was not far behind, followed by the scrambling we do to “get back on top of things.”

Sound familiar? Deep inside – I think we all know the truth. We can’t get caught up! If we embrace that concept, some of the pressure starts to subside. What is a true priority to us starts to clarify. Here are 4 ways to enhance your journey toward inner peace:

  1. Mornings (or evenings if you’re a night owl) – Whatever time fits you, as long as you have a margin of space when things quiet down, and you can be alone. Reflect on the good and bad of the day. Count your blessings and be thankful. Think, calm down, pray. Try sitting still. Read. Veg watching a classic movie.
  2. Making Memories – Be the one who takes the initiative for doing something. Schedule that overdue visit with someone at Starbucks. Pull out a board game or puzzle for family or friends. Try a new vacation spot. Stay in a nice hotel for an evening. If money is tight – go on a bike trek. Explore the library or a museum. My son recently shared one of his favorite childhood memories was fishing at Bear Creek. All I can remember were tangled lines, turtles getting our hooks in their mouths, and my impatience and frustration at not catching anything but maybe once or twice during all those years. Funny how kids see things clearer than we do. It wasn’t about the fish, it was about the time.
  3. Mental – choosing a positive attitude in spite of circumstances. Author Jon Gordon talks about how when we get hit unexpectedly with a challenge, we basically have a quarter of a second to choose positive instead of negative thoughts. It’s tough, but try it. At first, the positive sounds a little hokey or “pie in the skyish”. But the longer you engage in the practice, the positive thoughts start to become more authentic – and creative solutions start unveiling themselves. You will actually begin to feel better emotionally and mentally – and look at your situation with hope and possibilities instead of gloom and doom.
  4. Miles (okay, being outdoors – I struggled to find an “M” word for it) – Texas summers make this tough, but every now and then we get a cloud cover or a rainstorm to cool things off. C.S. Lewis believed that if you were physically capable – every person should take a walk everyday. Walking, hiking, biking, going to the park, sports, gardening, swimming, BBQ, washing the car or dogs, fixing stuff – anything that gives you an excuse to get outside.

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46: 10) We could all use a little more of being still. . . .

Please comment below – what is your favorite way of pursuing inner peace?

Blessings,

Dave

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

P.S. Please click on the Amazon link above for past blogs and books 🙂

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