Is This The End Of The World As We Know It??? (Part 2)

What are the Major Events of The End Times?

Last blog we took at the look of the possibility: Are we living in The End Times? I had mentioned our current chaotic world situation, Bible prophecy, and certain buzzwords are at least getting us thinking about the potential. There was also a section called “How do I know I’m going to Heaven?” Please go back to the May 9th post and take a look if you didn’t get a chance to read it.

I’m thankful that I went to an elementary school that taught the Bible almost every day. Plus, I grew up going to church ever since I can remember. However, I didn’t hear about “The End Times” until around college when people mentioned it and I had no clue about what they were talking about. In my brain – people died and then either went to heaven or hell. I started researching. That was over 30 years ago – and I’m still fascinated with the subject and discovering new things.

Maybe your situation is similar. Perhaps you’ve heard some things, read some things, and believed some things. Maybe you’ve listened to so called “experts” that seem to have all of the answers and the end of the world all figured out (you might want to avoid those people). Since the topic is overwhelming – I tried to narrow it down to five major events that will take place as we transition from our human existence on planet Earth to our eternal existence in Heaven. At face value – they almost appear to be a science fiction story. My encouragement is to please read the Bible verses listed – and the verses before and after for context. Seek out information on your own. There are dozens of resources with books, podcasts, and YouTube videos. I’ll list some of my favorites at the end. Two disclaimer verses before we begin:

“As high as the heavens are above the earth – so high are my ways and thoughts above yours.” (Isaiah 55:9) No one has it all figured out and all of the answers. Otherwise we would be like God and not need Him.

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” (Matthew 24: 36) God would rather have us prepare for His Son’s return, serve Him, and further His Kingdom – than spend time trying to figure out the exact date of Jesus’s return.

Here we go – five huge events that are key to the complete saga of The End Times:

  1. The Rapture (or being caught up in the air) of all believers in Jesus – The apostle Paul describes this event that could happen at any time (even today!) in 1st Thessalonians 4: 15 – 18: We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.
  2. The rise of the Antichrist – The apostle John states in his book 1st John 2: 18: Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come. Jesus, John, Paul, and the prophet Daniel have written/spoke extensively about this mysterious figure. Please research further on your own! In summary – he will rise from obscurity empowered by Satan during a time of calamity on the earth and be the ruler of the earth. He will establish a one world government, one world digital economic system, and a one world religion. He will promise peace and safety – but will break a peace treaty with Israel after 3 and 1/2 years. He and his followers will oppose all who follow God. At some point, he will require everyone to take some time of mark on their forehead or hand that establishes loyalty, allows buying and selling, and worship to him – or face death. However, his ultimate end is to be thrown into the hellish “Lake of Fire” (Revelation 19:20).
  3. The Great Tribulation – Daniel first mentions this dreadful time of seven years in his book. Jesus referred to it as he was talking with his disciples about things to come in Matthew 24: 15 – 22: “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about . . . For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.” There are basically three scholarly views on if Christians will experience the Tribulation, or will the Rapture occur before it? Some think Christians will be raptured before the Tribulation, some think in the middle, and some think at the end. My personal opinion and studies have lead me to the conclusion that we will be raptured before the Tribulation. But again, please research all of this on your own!
  4. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ – During his first coming – Jesus was the baby in the manger, he died on the cross for our sins, and rose from the dead to defeat Satan and give us eternal life if we believe in him. His second return to earth will look quite different as John shares his vision found in Revelation chapter 19: 11-14: Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True (Jesus), for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself . . . The armies of heaven (us), dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations.
  5. The New Heavens and The New Earth – The happy ending to the story. Many scholars conclude that John’s vision of the future was so spectacular – that his current vocabulary was not available to describe it. Here is what he viewed recorded in Revelation chapter 21: 1 – 5: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared . . . And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. . . I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”

Conclusion: Wow! I know, that was a lot to take in. There is so much more – I only hit the surface level here. Some of this may seem scary, confusing, or cause anxiety. I refer back to what Paul said earlier:

Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words (1 Thessalonians 4: 17,18).

Here are some additional resources you may want to take a closer look at:

  1. Books: Tipping Point by Jimmy Evans; Charting the End Times by Tim Lahaye & Thomas Ice; Decoding the Antichrist and The End Times by Mark Biltz; The Prophecy Pros’ Illustrated Guide to Tough Questions About The End Times by Jeff Kinley & Todd Hampson, and Heaven by Randy Alcorn.
  2. Podcasts: Understanding the Times with Jan Markell; Tipping Point by Jimmy Evans; and Prophecy Pros Podcast.

Please let me know in the comments your thoughts, insights, agree or disagree, resources that have helped you, questions, etc. Next post will be “Reasons Why We May Not Be In The End Times” – stay tuned!

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

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Is This The End Of The World As We Know It??? (Part 1)

A lot of chatter is “out there” expressing that we are in “The End Times”. Soaring inflation, wars and rumors of wars, global pandemics and plagues, global food shortages, severe weather patterns, earthquakes, and the overall theme of chaos. What does all of this mean???

Along with any talk about The End of the World comes certain buzz words like: Armageddon, Plagues, The Anti-Christ, 666- The Mark of the Beast, The New World Order, The Rapture, The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse, A Shadow Government, A One World Government and Religion – to name a few. What does all of this mean???

As you can see – this is way too much for any one person to have all the answers. I have felt a burden to take the next several posts and try to provide all of us some basic clarity about The End Times. Unfortunately, it is a topic rarely addressed by pastors.

Here is the upcoming blog post breakdown “rough draft”:

  1. How do I know for sure that I am going to Heaven when I die? (Today’s post)
  2. What are the major events of The End Times?
  3. Reasons why we may not be in The End Times.
  4. Reasons why we may be in The End Times.
  5. How to be filled with hope and joy instead of fear and anxiety if we are in The End Times.

Phew . . . That is a lot about a heavy topic. Disclaimer: I am not an End Times expert or prophet (I wish I was 🙂 However, this is a subject that has fascinated me for the last three decades and I’ve tried to study up on it. Even listening to podcasts and reading quality books about the subject – I am still learning daily! Another disclaimer: My motivation when I first started studying was to know more about it than other people. I know, that’s called pride (a sin) – and a terrible, non-sustaining motivator. My goal now is to take what I’ve learned and condense it so you understand it and then you in turn can help others understand it.

The best book out there to read regarding The End Times = The Bible. Especially a Bible that has a commentary explaining verses. Bible prophecy is a sneak preview of things to come (not just The End Times), similar to a movie trailer. It can be found in the Old and New Testaments. God warned a guy named Noah that a devastating flood was coming. At another time in a dream – God warned Jesus’s earthly father, Joseph, that their lives were in danger and that they needed to go hide and wait it out in Egypt.

Many books of the Bible contain End Times prophecies. However, the majority of Bible prophecy regarding The End Times can be found in the last book of the Bible – The Book of Revelation. This book is often avoided, sounds scary to some, rarely preached about, or is misunderstood and misinterpreted. However, the book of Revelation has several special qualities. Check out the first 3 verses of the book:

This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near (Revelation 1: 1 – 3).

  1. The message of this book is from Jesus. The first 3 chapters are direct words from him to 7 ancient churches (and also a few verses in chapter 22).
  2. Revelation was written by one of Jesus’s disciples and closest friends – John.
  3. Revelation is the only book of the Bible that offers you a blessing if you read it!

So back to today’s topic: How do I know if I’m going to Heaven? The book of Revelation (and many other books of the Bible) talk about an eternal life and an eternal home called Heaven. Not to be blunt – but Revelation (and other books of the Bible) also talk about an eternity in a destination called Hell. To assure your citizenship in Heaven – here is what the Bible says we can do right now:

  1. Admit that we are sinners (that we have done wrong, evil, rejected God’s way for our lives). For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
  2. Accept that Jesus died and rose from the dead for our sins. And yet while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
  3. Ask for Jesus to come into our lives by His Spirit. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes (trusts in, clings to, relies upon) in him will have eternal life (John 3:16). If we confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead we will be saved (Romans 10:9).
  4. Allow Jesus through His Holy Spirit to lead you day by day. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Four steps: Admit – Accept – Ask – Allow. If you haven’t already taken care of this step in your life – say a basic prayer based on the 4 points above and get things right between you and God through his son Jesus Christ. That way, if we are in The End Times – you have absolutely nothing to be fearful of!

We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed (Titus 2:13).

Next blog – A timeline of the main events during The End Times.

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

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Who Is In Your Stadium? (reboot)

Do you ever wonder: Am I really making a difference? Am I just going through the motions of life?

Or perhaps you can strongly relate to what George Bailey’s character went through in It’s a Wonderful Life – you’re beyond frustrated that you just can’t catch a break and will never “get ahead”?

I came across this quote on Instagram from author/speaker Jon Gordon several weeks ago that continues to resonate in my mind:

Just heard that on average one person will influence 80,000 people in the course of their life. Enough to fill a stadium. But remember even if you influence just one person you are a Leader! Choose to be a Positive Leader and make a positive impact.

80,000 people! Thinking about the stadium example – I categorized the people in the seats into three groups:

  1. The Dissatisfied – These are the people who don’t like the game, have bad seats, feel that they paid too much, sit next to the guy with the foam finger or has the shrieking whistle that numbs their hearing. Overall, the game was a rotten experience and they probably won’t come back.  Translation: Think of times I’ve been rude, too busy, hypercritical, hurtful, selfish, and negative. Sometimes we can go back and ask for forgiveness. Unfortunately for others – it was just a one time encounter, or the hurt runs too deep. Hopefully, this group doesn’t take up a lot of seats.
  2. The Satisfied – This group of people enjoys the game, had an excellent view of the action, were present in the moment and felt they got their money’s worth. Translation: People we’ve shown love, selflessness, and kindness to – Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and strangers. Being nice to the waiter even though they were nervous and brand new. Showing patience as one of our children works through the challenges of life. Giving someone an unexpected gift for no reason other than love. Sometimes it is the smallest gestures that can make a major difference that we don’t even realize. Hopefully, these folks fill up the majority of seats.
  3. The Fully Immersed Fan – They showed up early to tailgate, bought a truckload of souvenirs, and stay until the end whether their team is winning or losing. Some were so influenced by what they experienced – they want to financially invest in the team beyond just being a fan. Translation: People we’ve impacted not only because we showed them love and kindness – but also that we help set their life on a new and positive trajectory. A teenager with a low self-esteem you encouraged to pursue their dreams. An unknown person freed from human trafficking because you gave financially to an organization. A child who was given hope towards the future because you sent a small shoebox with Christmas gifts. Maybe it was a friend you just sat with and said nothing as they went through the process of losing a loved one. Hopefully, our stadiums are packed with these people.

Over two decades ago, I was on maximum overload. We had a new baby and a teenager, I was teaching full-time, taking graduate courses, and valet parking on evenings and weekends. It was New Year’s Eve – and the last thing I wanted to do was valet park for all the people out having a good time and celebrating. Around midnight in a cranky and exhausted mood, I pulled up a gentleman’s car. Getting out – I hoped he would give me a few bucks as a tip. He said, “Thank you for working tonight.” He then proceeded to hand me two twenty-dollar bills (which was a fortune for a tip over two decades ago). My energy, attitude, and perspective changed because of his generosity and empathy.

I’ll never know who that man was. But I’m sitting and cheering in his stadium.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith (Hebrews 12: 1-2).

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

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Spring Break and Disney World = Oil and water??? (reboot)

A few years ago, I painstakingly planned the “perfect” vacation to Disney World and Universal Studios for Spring Break. This ended up being one of my most popular blog posts that many people commented they could completely relate to. Here’s a recap of my story:

Are you a “Planner”, or do you like to “Fly by the seat of your pants”? I’m a total Planner. Thus, the inspiration for this blog. I had extensively planned for about 8 months an Orlando Spring Break vacation for my daughter’s senior trip. We had never been there as a family – so I read endless books, conducted extensive interviews and interrogations with those that had been past visitors, and combed the Internet for anything related to this magical place. This was going to be the greatest family trip we (or anyone else in history) had ever taken. This time, I was going to do everything right. No room for error. Pure joy. Every activity would be on a precise schedule – just like Robert Deniro’s character in Meet the Parents.

The trip got off to a rough start when I noticed a sharp discomfort in my lower back around 5:30 am at DFW Airport. Thought it was a cramp, nerves, or some other nuance that would go away. We boarded the flight, and those uncomfortable airplane seats were even more uncomfortable. Three hours later, I was writhing in pain – I literally started crawling on the floor of the terminal at the Orlando airport. Was this “The Big One” like Fred Sanford used to say? Was one of my major organs giving out? Appendix bursting? We found a saint of a cab driver that sped us to a close and quality ER. About 5 hours later, I had passed my first kidney stone! Okay, this wasn’t in the plans. However, the medical staff patched me up and blessed me with meds – in a few hours I was screaming in exhilaration as we rode The Everest Expedition Roller Coaster that evening. Slight “blip” in the plans, but we would hit the next few days with a vengeance. Universal Studios and Harry Potter World were tomorrow.

In spite of getting up at the crack of dawn, it seemed as though tens of thousands of other people had that same idea. As the lines allowed, we rode every ride we could between the two Universal Parks (some marketing genius out there conceived the idea of splitting up the Harry Potter World into two worlds – I would love to say it was for the benefit of the consumers, but it was so they can double their moolah intake). We were exhausted, but tomorrow was The Magic Kingdom – and I was determined to see my plans to fruition.

Our hotel was about 20 minutes away from The Magic Kingdom. They offered a “free shuttle” that left at 7 am and dropped everyone off at Epcot (which I was informed is the central hub for all Disney Park transportation). Thought we’d save a few bucks and not use a taxi or Uber. Sounded perfect – The Kingdom opens at 8, leave at 7, arrive between 7:30-7:45, scan our tickets, and we would be in! Everyone had advised us to get there right as the park opens, and you can experience at least 3 major rides before the crowd hits. That advice combined with 3 Fastpasses – I envisioned myself joyfully singing, “Yo-ho, Yo-ho, a Pirate’s Life for Me!” We had the potential of enjoying 6 major rides before the clock struck noon – boom!

The trend of most of my plans not going as I had hoped once again began to rear its ugly head. I first became suspicious when our “shuttle” was a giant charter bus. “Wow, that’s nice of them to provide such a big bus for one hotel,” I thought in my ever increasingly fatigued, naive, and delusional mind. Even though we are not Orlando residents, after about 10 minutes we noticed, “Hey, this isn’t the route to the park.” The bus, oh excuse me – the “shuttle” literally made 7 stops at other hotels before Epcot. The driver dropped us off around 8:15 am in an empty parking lot the size of the poppy field in The Wizard of Oz. It took about a 10-minute walk to get to the Monorail. Phew, finally made it. Oh, but wait – you must get off this Monorail and transfer to another one. Stood in line for about 15 minutes. Rumors circulated throughout the tense crowd that there was a delay.  We waited about 15 more minutes to get on a ferry headed for Disney World. 20 more minutes on the boat ride – and we finally arrived at the entrance around 9:15 am. We soon discovered that half of humanity had already beaten us to the ride (and food) lines – realizing it’s not really such a Small World After All. As the day unfolded, I soon began to fully immerse myself in the spirit of the dwarf Grumpy – along with some of his lesser-known brothers: Pushy, Pouty, and Rudey.

A few days after we returned home – I had some quality time to reflect. I then realized that one of the most important events of our trip was that crummy shuttle ride. That experience served as a great reminder of what it is like to walk with God. So many unplanned stops along the way that test my patience. Not having control over situations and just having to go with the flow. Disappointment. People getting on my nerves. Me getting on people’s nerves. Unexpected barriers and delays that get in the way of me reaching my envisioned destination.  Which leads to the question we can ask in every situation: Is my envisioned destination His envisioned destination?

Plus, I had so much to be thankful for. We were able to save up for the trip instead of charging everything. I could have been stuck in that ER for days, or possibly have had to have surgery, or it could have been “The Big One”. The family had several spontaneous moments of belly busting laughter. A ticket snafu that “entitled” us to 3 any time any ride Fastpasses at Disney Hollywood Studios. And finally, embracing every second of having lunch in Epcot Italy knowing that my daughter is only a few months away from going to college.

This trip was a continual reminder that I want comfort, control, and predictability. God offers wild, uncomfortable uncertainty – covered with many promises that He will be with us every step of the way. May your journey find you somewhere between the happy medium of planning and pants flying.

Dave 🙂

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

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Are You a “No-Name”? Perfect!!! (reboot)

This is a huge world we live in. The population statistics are mind-boggling. It is easy to wander down the thought path of: “Does anyone really see me?” “Has God forgotten about my life?” “Did I miss Plan A – so, for now, I’ll be quiet and content with Plan D?”

Author and pastor Max Lucado summarize this thought pattern up brilliantly in the cover sleeve of his book Out Live Your Life:

We are common folk. We sit in the bleachers, eat at diners, change diapers, and wear our favorite team’s ball cap. Fans don’t wave when we pass. Servants don’t scurry when we come home. Chauffeurs don’t drive our cars; butlers don’t open our doors or draw our baths. Doormen don’t greet us, and security doesn’t protect us. We are regular folk.

And we wonder: Does God use people like us? He did (and does – my two- word addition).

Several weeks ago, I was reading through the book of Exodus and came across a person named Bezalel. Never heard of him. He definitely hasn’t been mentioned in any sermon, lesson, or podcast I’ve listened to. And yet, he had one of the most crucial roles in the Old Testament. When God was commissioning Moses to create some special objects of worship for The Tabernacle (kind of a small, portable church in the wilderness where the presence of God would appear) – he had a unique person in mind to create the six pieces of furniture that would be in it (including the Ark of the Covenant of Indiana Jones fame).

Take a look at what God had to say about this individual:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft! (Exodus 31: 1-5)

We can gain three points of insight from this small passage:

  1. God sees us when other people don’t. Look at how many descriptors God uses to describe Bezalel: “chosen, filled with the Spirit of God, wisdom, ability, expertise, master craftsman, and skilled.” God is able to look past our mistakes, faults, bad decisions, and low perspectives of ourselves. He is able to see beyond the muck and broadcast our unique gifts, strengths, talents, and specialized purposes that only we can fulfill! No matter how insignificant the task at hand seems to us – it is all a part of His divinely woven together plan. We haven’t missed it.
  2. Bezalel worked on his gifts and skills during his “downtime.” Traveling by foot through rugged terrain, camping at sites for days, and being disciplined by God for 40 years in the desert provided a lot of extra time for the Israelites. I’m making an assumption here based on the Exodus passage, but I think Bezalel used this time to develop into a master craftsman. When else did he work with gold, silver, bronze, engraving, gemstones, and wood? What a great example for us. What is that “something” deep in our hearts we want to try, but we “don’t have the time for it?” Taking a class, pursuing a relationship, learning a new language, writing a book, training for a marathon, volunteering for a cause, starting a side business, coaching a team, cultivating a garden, etc. We need to stop waiting for the perfect time or more time or tomorrow – it isn’t going to happen!!! Procrastination and perfectionism will win the battle every time. Today is all we are guaranteed. The past says, “I should have _______.” The future says, “I might ________.” Stop it! What can we do TODAY??? Sign up for that class. Write for 10 minutes a day. Fill out that application. Go on that trip. Make the necessary phone call. Send the email. Take a 15-minute walk. Read a book or research 20 minutes before we go to sleep. Reward ourselves with television, don’t let it replace what you have in your heart to accomplish. There are multiple moments of downtime – we just need to seize them.
  3. Bezalel was ready when God had a big opportunity for him. Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk found himself on the bench as a back up his freshman year of college at San Diego State. However, he trained, studied, and pushed himself as though he were the starter – believing wholeheartedly that someday it would occur. Sure enough, during the first quarter of a game against the Pacific Tigers – San Diego State’s starting running back suffered an injury. Marshall was put into the game. He went on to rush for 386 yards and score 7 touchdowns!!! He later went on to have an incredible career in the NFL – including helping to lead the Rams to a Super Bowl victory. What if he had sulked, smack talked, and been lazy instead? I wonder how many moments we miss that God wants us to walk into? Maybe it seems too small, not important enough, our few dollars contributed won’t make a difference, this would take me out of my comfort zone, we’re too busy, or we’re caught up in distractable, time-wasting, unproductive activities?

Conclusion – We are seen, we are known, and we have a path that God reveals one step at a time. The question becomes, what is my responsibility? What is the area of my life where I could become a “master craftsman”? What is a seemingly small task now – that could have an unimaginable ripple effect?

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

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We interrupt this blog to bring you an important announcement . . .

What’s the announcement? I’m taking some time off/a sabbatical from writing this monthly blog. Not to rest – but to work on a book! Truth be told, I have had a concept in my head for several years – now I finally have the framework to put it into book format. Writing a book is a love/ hate relationship. It is exciting to create something new from nothing. You also reach the point of: “If I have to stare at or correct or edit this manuscript one more time – I am going to punch a hole in my computer screen!”

What is the book going to be about? I want to keep it kind of a secret to build anticipation – but here are a few clues: I’m going to create in a devotional format a book that takes an insider look at The Navy Seals, King David and his Mighty Men, and often overlooked and unknown women during that time period like Tamar, Abigail, and even Bathsheba – and tying it all together with helping people grow spiritually no matter what level you are at in your walk of faith. Phew . . . I gave away too much! 🙂

When will this book be finished? Great question! I’m aiming for September of 2022.

What about the monthly blog “Still Waters”? What I’ll do is repost popular articles from the past each month. Maybe every now and then submit something new. Google has a complex algorithm that “likes” consistent, new, input. So I want to keep feeding the artificial intelligent blog monitoring robots. 🙂

However, like the rest of you – time is one of our most precious commodities. I know myself and that I can easily get distracted, waste time, procrastinate, and spread myself too thin. My goal is to channel small blocks of time, my creativity and imagination, and primary focus dedicated to writing the book instead of a monthly column.

What does the future hold? Again, it starts with on a daily basis winning the “war” against wasting time, priorities, motivation, complacency, and discipline – but also balancing out quality rest and down time. I have some more book concepts in my head. I want to keep polishing and presenting my speaking topics. I’m developing close up and stage magic shows (I get to practice them in front of PreK kiddos!). Maybe create a podcast, maybe something on YouTube, an encouraging weekly newsletter, and new blog entries. And keep growing spiritually, personally, and professionally. That’s my short term 20 year plan 🙂

Why do you want to do all that stuff? We all have been uniquely designed by God and given gifts for His glory, furthering His Kingdom, and blessing others. You and I have unique messages and experiences to share. You and I have different audiences that need to hear that message (it might be an audience of one). You and I have an enemy called The Devil that wants to put our messages on “mute” and “silent”. You and I have been given and unknown and limited amount of time on this earth to make an impact. Phew . . . don’t get me going! I just attended a 5 night online speaker bootcamp with Dr. Dharius Daniels and I’m fired up! Watch him speak on YouTube and you’ll see why 🙂

How about an encouraging word for today? Stay close to God, stay close to God, and stay close to God! We’ve had two of the most “unique” years in human history and most of us are drained. We can’t keep waiting for “normal” to get back. All we know is the unknown.

Besides hearing from God in your Bible – do whatever it takes to integrate what speaks to your spirit in small increments everyday. Walks, worship music, nature, reading faith based books, creating, gardening, praying, uplifting messages and podcasts, exercising – you know you. I leave you with these words that King David was giving his son Solomon as he was passing his kingdom on to him. However, it is like David is giving each of us his personal formula for success:

And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.

(1 Chronicles 28: 9-10)

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

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Changing The World One Amazon Package at a Time . . .

What if there was a simple, year-round way to help feed the hungry, assist in providing clean water to people in other countries, and support organizations that fight human trafficking? Or, have your money go towards finding homes for animals, help build schools around the world, or be a part of the healing process for military veterans? What if it didn’t cost you anything extra to participate in something like this?

The good news is that there is a way! Maybe you’ve heard of the “Amazon Smile” program. If so – great! If not – here we go. . . 

Amazon has created a program that will donate 5% of your purchase price to the pre-designated charity of your choice. It is fast and easy to sign up.

  1. In your web browser, go to smile.amazon.com 
  2. Select the charity of your choice – there are 9 major categories to choose from (education, veterans, animals, faith and spirituality, international, arts, environment, health, and human services). Within the 9 categories are dozens of choices where you should be able to find your favorite charity or something close to it. 
  3. Then complete your Amazon purchase as normal. That’s it!

The only challenge I’ve faced is that I forget to go to the smile.amazon page instead of my regular home page. It will not contribute to your charity unless you start on the smile page. The other item to watch is that your purchase has to be an “eligible item.” It will tell you if it is or not. If memory serves – it seems the majority of purchase are eligible. 

Think about how much you and I use Amazon in a year (Christmas, birthdays, Mother and Father’s Day, and the unread books accumulating on my nightstand that I buy on a monthly basis). What an impact all of those small contributions put together can have! It can bring just a small sliver of joy knowing that even a tiny bit of change is going to something beyond ourselves. I even found a charity called Rancho Obi-Wan whose purpose is “To serve the world through Star Wars memorabilia” . . . So if that’s your mission and you believe “This is the Way” – then go for it! 🙂

They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. (Psalm 112: 9)

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

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The Unreachable Lighthouse

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lighthouse-main.webp

Doesn’t it seem like simmering anger is the major emotion many of us are feeling? Even watching the daily news for a few minutes – someone or a group who is upset or angry is featured – and then I get angry watching it. I won’t even mention driving somewhere. Lord knows I need to work on my potty mouth when I’m cut off, tailed aggressively, or almost get hit by someone looking at their phone.

Enough about anger – I can sense you’re getting fired up 🙂 Let’s flip it and go on the opposite side – the emotion of happiness. This is another interesting set of feelings to take a look at. Speaking broadly and generally, it seems most people are struggling with happiness. An obvious reason is the amount of loss of health, lives, businesses, and way of living brought on by the global pandemic.

Let’s flip the script one more time. Why does it seem so many people that have been blessed with so much seem unhappy? Stretching our minds – we can think of people in politics, business, sports, entertainment, or people that we know personally – they just seem to be missing something. Besides having faith in something or someone greater than themselves – what else are they missing?

Recently, I believe I heard a great explanation on a podcast interview with a man named Dean Graziosi (The Ed Mylett Podcast October 12, 2021) that gave amazing insight into this reality. I had never heard of Dean – but the title intrigued me: “Succeed with Happiness and Confidence.” Skeptical at first. Thinking this just another multi-millionaire trying to sway us common folk into buying his product and then we’ll all be rich! I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Dean grew up in poverty. At one point, he worked 20 hour workdays to build a business while his buddies were busy partying and having fun. Now he has the goal of “impacting over 100 million people” with his trainings, charities, and philanthropy. Here is a paraphrase of his answer when Ed asked him, “Why are so many people unhappy right now? Especially those that have achieved some level of “success” in their particular field?” Dean’s answer:

Success with money, power, and possessions – but without fulfillment and happiness, equals shallow living. Some people think that they have everything they want – but they are still unhappy. Here’s what I believe the reason is. I think unhappy people have stopped stretching themselves. They’ve arrived at their goals and stopped. Or, they were not able to accomplish their goals and gave up. Either way, they’ve stopped personally growing.

Imagine a lighthouse representing any goal you are seeking to accomplish. Well, let’s say you met the goal and now you are in your mind standing next to the lighthouse. Most people stay there. They arrive at whatever destination they had in their minds and stop. They stop striving, problem solving, struggling, and fighting. Yes, that leads to a more “peaceful” life – but does it really?

What if the lighthouse kept moving every time you reached it? What if it continued to stay in the distance? That would keep us hungry and not satisfied – because there is still work to be done. And ultimately, the journey would hopefully lead us to being others centered instead of seeking non-stop self fulfillment, comfort, and pleasure.

An interesting mindshift twist that we can apply to any area of our lives. Here are some examples of keeping the lighthouse in the distance:

  1. Finances – Pretending that we don’t have any money in the bank, checking, or savings.
  2. Marriage – Seeing the relationship as we are just starting to date and I’m trying to win her over.
  3. Health – You’ve just been given a dreadful diagnosis by your doctor – and the remedy is to clean up your eating and start exercising consistently.
  4. Work – Imagine you’re on a one year contract, and the bosses have to decide whether to keep you or not.
  5. Faith – You’ve just discovered God for the first time – what would reading the Bible, serving, and worship look like?
  6. School – If you don’t get high grades and put in the effort – your alternative choice will be working 14 hour days in a coal mine.

The secret is: How can we become a better version of ourselves in EVERY area of our lives? How can we serve people at the highest level to impact the world? Even though we will never arrive at the final goal – we will continue to grow and not get stuck at complacency, mediocrity, and according to Dean’s theory – ongoing unhappiness.

Give it a try for a few days. Move those lighthouses out into the distant horizon. And if you make it to one – move it again!

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

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Fear Factors . . .

I originally published this about two years ago. However, the theme of fear keeps rearing its ugly head. I hope this can be an encouragement to where you are in your journey of personal and spiritual growth.

Fear, anxiety, and stress can be an unholy trinity. One or more of the three are probably present somewhere in our lives right now. Watching the news or browsing the internet usually adds fuel to the fire – rarely do we walk away feeling better, encouraged, or inspired. Out of the three – Fear is the king. When we’re afraid – that smoothly leads down the path to anxiety and stress.

Fear of the future. Fears from the past. Fears about running out of money. Fear of not being able to pay off an insurmountable pile of debt. Fear of losing our jobs. Fear of a health diagnosis. Fear of terrorists. Fear of war. Fear of death. Fear of letting our kids go outside alone. Fear if our kids are going to turn out okay. Fear that someone is upset with us. Fear that a relationship is not going to work out. Fear of public speaking.

The word “fear” is really an acronym. Two of the acronyms are negative, one is positive. It all depends on our perspective we choose to take. I’ve heard these acronyms in speeches, sermons, and they are all over the internet – so I have no idea who to give credit to for creating them.

  1. FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real. The stories we tell ourselves. A thought enters our minds and a downward spiral begins. I’ve read studies showing that 85% to as high as 95% of what we fear is going to happen never does. Or, our image of what could happen compared to what really happens is drastically different.
  2. FEAR = Forget Everything And Run. Of course, there are those obvious things to run from – a snake in your path (actually, slowly walk backward with snakes), a natural disaster coming your way, or a bad decision that you need to walk away from, or someone trying to take advantage of you. I’m talking more about: The uncomfortable conversation we need to have and avoid – or better yet, go gripe to someone else about it. The position we want to try out for – but are afraid we won’t get it and talk ourselves out of even attempting it. Frustration with our finances – but unwilling to do anything to change our lifestyles. Feelings of hopelessness when you consider pursuing a dream. If any of these resonate with you – I’m right there too.

However, there is another way to confront our fears:

3. FEAR = Face Everything And Rise. Reflect on the words of Franklin Roosevelt, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Really think deeply about that statement. Author John Eldredge puts it this way, “Walk right into those situations you normally run from. Speak right to the issues you normally remain silent over . . . this is where you will discover your strength, in the daily details of your life. Begin to taste your true strength and you’ll want more.” (Wild at Heart) Sara Bareilles sings, ” . . . I want to see you be brave!!!”

Don’t get me wrong. If our children end up in the hospital – the common, normal response is fear. It’s how we are wired and is our first reaction. However, after that – we can choose to control our second reaction. Possibly filling our minds with positive thoughts, pray, talk to somebody, read Scripture,  and keep clinging to hope.

Bonus acronym from the internet!

Face It
Explore It
Accept It
Rise Above

Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear.  (1 John 4:18 NLT)

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

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May We Please Go Back To Normal???

About six months ago I was optimistically hoping COVID-19 would be under control. Unfortunately, we’ve seen that it is still dominating the news, social media, and personal conversations. I try to seek out positive, encouraging messages or thought leaders to fill my almost depleted emotional and mental tanks. I wanted to share a few items I’ve come across that maybe can bring you hope.

“If you’re experiencing increased sadness or anxiety along with an urge to dramatically change something about your life – some of the markers of Pandemic Flux Syndrome (I didn’t know it had a name) – be assured you’re not alone. Although human beings are more resilient than we generally appreciate, it will take time for many of us to stably recover, to reflect and calibrate.”  Dr. Amy Cuddy

“We are still in recovery mode from trauma. Our reserves are at minimum if not depleted. The summer was a rush for many of us to make up for lost time. The common theme in talking with those having 1 week, 3 weeks, or even several months off – is that summer wasn’t enough. We could all use another round to recover. In fact, the little time off seemed to be somewhat of a disappointment.” Dan Allender

And in most cases – it was not the type of summer we are use to. Hotel rooms were not cleaned every day, very few rental cars were available, restaurant service seemed lower quality due to the national labor shortage, and then there was the challenge of no parking or tickets in national parks. A true sign the end is near:  Disney parks started charging for the once free Fast Passes!

Dan Allender goes on to talk about 3 effects that can result from experiencing trauma (which is what the last 18 months can be described as):

  1. Fragmentation – This explains the brain fog, forgetfulness, completely drained from work or routine tasks like grocery shopping, confusion, “Why did I walk into this room?”, “Why can’t I remember basic objects, names, or places in conversations?” – I think we’re all experiencing this one. How do we fight this? Being kind to ourselves (our inner souls) and others and realize the majority of people are going through this right now. Use lists, sticky notes, or the note app to immediately capture a thought before moving on to something else. Pull back from multi-tasking. Don’t expect a big event to solve it (Disneyland, a Caribbean cruise, or any other trip, buying a luxury car or RV, a huge gathering, a new house or apartment – those things may help – but don’t set yourself up for disappointment. “Live in day-tight compartments” (Sir William Osler) instead of becoming overwhelmed at what lies ahead. 
  2. Numbing – The list of losses continues to pile up for everyone it seems. Sometimes the immediate or the accumulation of pain has become too much. We (fingers pointing at me also) seek life, escape, and fulfillment to make up for the hurt and losses by: eating too much, drinking too much, laying in bed not asleep, too many movies or tv, watching sports for hours, wasting hours on social media, loading up my Amazon cart, procrastination of basic chores – I think we can all relate. How do we fight this? Make small changes from overindulgence to rediscovering moderation. A great resource to read is The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins. Slowly replace bad habits with good ones. Find creative ways to trade healthier food instead of sugar and salty, trade walking, exercise, or gardening for binge tv, and trade social media time for reading books. The trade can be as small as 5 minutes or a handful of food – but it is all about starting something new that ultimately makes us feel better. And also, allow we need to allow ourselves to feel grief over the losses and not just emotionally bury them. Pray about them, write them out on paper, vent with a trusted friend. 
  3. Isolation – After our lives feel disconnected mentally and physically. After we seek happiness any way we can find it – the natural progression is the desire to be alone. Why leave the safety and comfort of my home when there are so many annoying people out there? Why drive my car when so many are aggressive, on my tail, and might cause me to cuss? Why try to follow God intimately when things just seem to be getting worse and He feels distant? Many people that once followed Jesus closely are abandoning their walk with him. Nothing drastic – just focusing time, energy, and money into finding life somewhere else. How do we fight this? As pastor Craig Groeschel states, “Begin by lowering your expectations of others. We’re not perfect, so why put perfectionist expectations on others?” Attempt slow re-entry into social situations. Meet people at a neutral location to take the pressure off of you for cooking and cleaning. Try visiting church in person instead of online. Read a verse or two in the Bible instead of a chapter or reading plan. Maybe text someone different every week to check in on them. With the holidays coming up – allow yourself the freedom to feel completely exhausted after gathering with family – and allow yourself time to rest and recover. Accept at this point you probably can’t volunteer, give, have company, or “pour yourself out” like you used to. And that is perfectly all right. 

Conclusion – Mr. Allender also stated bouncing back from this isn’t a quick fix. The social, economic, spiritual, and educational “hits” that we have taken could take years to recover from. Hopefully, some of the “fighting techniques” listed can give you a starting place for your recovery process. Possibly just naming some of the struggles can offer relief that you are not the only one experiencing these symptoms – especially brain fog for me (this would be a horrible time for me to be a Jeopardy contestant). 

Remember, it is okay to slow down. We need to rediscover rest. People struggled with this concept even several thousands of years ago. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah penned this observation regarding the people of his time:

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have nothing of it.” (Isaiah 30:15)

 

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

 

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