3 Quotes

Hello! Here are 3 encouraging quotes I’ve found during this challenging time:


The Bad News: “A lot can change in 30 days.”
The Good News: “A lot can change in 30 days.”

Rachel Hollis

“People make more mistakes when they’re afraid.”

Jon Acuff

 

“As you go about your week, remember that fear and faith both believe in a future that hasn’t happened yet. Fear believes in a negative future. Faith believes in a positive future. Be smart. Be prepared. Take action and choose to believe in a positive future!”

Jon Gordon

 

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

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Back In High School I Was Able To . . .

A while back I was competing in a charity softball tournament for my organization. The coach was asking who wanted to play what position? I boldly proclaimed, “I’ll play shortstop!” Why not? On my high school baseball teams, I played a variety of positions including third base (which is a challenging throw across the baseball diamond mind you). After high school, I played for a couple of years in some local and college competitive/intramural softball leagues in whatever position they needed me.

Back to the tournament. Our team played defense first, so we started throwing the ball around the infield to warm up. My turn. I snatched up the grounder from the first baseman like my glove had glue in it. Time for the perfect throw to first base. Oops, must have slipped or not had a strong grip on the ball. My throw took two bounces to reach first base and was incredibly off target. The second chance came around. Again, perfect backhand scoop with my glove – let’s fire a bullet to first base this time! Oh no! This time it took three hops and the first baseman had to go leave the bag to go retrieve the ball. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks – I’m not the same player I was in high school and college! I didn’t have the throwing strength to go from shortstop to first base! What an embarrassment 😦

Hopefully, I’m not alone in this thinking – why do we go back to high school or college as default or baseline of where we should be now with our abilities, looks, and energy levels?

C’mon, hasn’t the thought crossed your mind with one of these comments?

In high school/ college . . . .

I was able to eat _______ and not gain a pound, actually, I lost weight!

I was able to work two jobs and had the energy to hang out afterward.

I was able to bench press _______ pounds and run a marathon with minimal prep.

I was able to wear a size _________.

I was able to throw a softball from shortstop to first base!!!

We know the truth – We were younger, fitter, had a faster metabolism, had more recreational time, and had much more disposable income. It’s silly, but I guess those are the only memories my brain can go back to sometimes.

It makes me think about a t-shirt I saw a guy wearing that said: “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.” Whether it be social media or water cooler chats, my challenge persists not to compare or be envious of what someone else has or is doing. A whole new layer is added when we start comparing ourselves with our former selves. Good night – that was over 30 years ago for me!!! So my mind needs to shift to the “today me”:

Five push-ups are better than no push-ups.

Thank God I have a job that I enjoy and can go to. Big deal if I don’t have energy afterward.

A twenty-minute walk with my dog isn’t a marathon, but it’s something.

I can still eat the foods I ate in high school, but need to exhibit some self-control (three slices of pizza instead of a large by myself).

Three pounds lost are better than three pounds gained.

Now when I get together with people we talk about our latest aches and pains instead of athletic and social accomplishments. 🙂

Final anecdote. Last week we had three straight days of heavy rain. During one of those days – a torrential downpour hit right as I was getting ready to leave for the evening. The forecast app said the storm wouldn’t be letting up for about an hour. My vehicle was parked about 100 yards away. I couldn’t wait for an hour. I sprinted toward my car like Tom Cruise in a scene from Mission Impossible! Made it! Drenched to the core – I also noticed I was breathing like I had just completed The Boston Marathon in record time. No lie, my first thought was: Why am I breathing so hard? Back in high school, I used to be able to . . . STOP!!! 🙂

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

Do you also struggle with this? If not too embarrassing, please share your thoughts in the comments!

 

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Are You a No-Name??? . . . Perfect!!! (Part 2)

Note: Part 1 (October 2019) is about a man named Bezalel who was commissioned by God to design The Tabernacle and six pieces of furniture including The Ark of the Covenant (later discovered by Indiana Jones 🙂

After watching a movie, it is amazing to observe the credits roll showing how many people it took to create that film. Those folks that worked behind the scenes countless hours to bring this vision into a reality. A few days ago I read that a 20 minute new Apple Product presentation/launch/demonstration takes over 250 hours of prep time! And yet, it is usually only a handful of people that we see on the stage.

Recently I discovered a woman in the Bible named Tabitha that I never knew existed. Were she alive today, I would hedge my bets that she would be feverishly working behind the scenes in some activity that touched the lives of people one by one and furthered the work of The Kingdom of God. Her life models multiple life lessons. Check out this passage in Acts 9: 36 – 41:

There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha. She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room. But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!”

So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Tabitha had made for them. But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up! He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive.

A few insights we can glean from this story about Tabitha is:

  1. She faithfully was completing the job and using the gifts God had given her. She didn’t get caught up in the comparison or tallying results trap – she just did it. No questioning or complaining. She wasn’t above meeting the needs of the poor. Tabitha didn’t need a stage or her name in lights. You and I: Are we content where God has put us, or are we fast forward-thinking wondering what the next big thing is? Do we sometimes wrestle with the appearance that God is underusing us? Who are “the poor and widows” we could be reaching out to right now?
  2. Tabitha was 100% in the middle of God’s will when something “bad” happened to her.  Notice the scripture emphasizes the phrase “she was always doing kind things . . . ”  It also mentions that in the room where her dead body laid “was filled with widows . . .” On the surface, it appears she was still needed and her special life mission wasn’t complete. Maybe it would make more sense if she became “The Prodigal Daughter” and left her ministry to pursue a selfish and hedonistic lifestyle? Why take Tabitha, why not take some crooked or evil person instead? You and I: This is the age-old question I struggle with all the time: Why do bad things happen to good people? However, can we keep moving forward in life when it doesn’t make sense or we don’t have all the answers? Can we stop playing in our heads the “what’s fair and isn’t fair” game? When our time does finally come – what will be caught doing?
  3. Tabitha gave the “Three T’s” (Time, Treasure, and Talent). One of the many things that stood out to me was the sentence: The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Tabitha had made for them. She had gone above and beyond meeting the needs of this group. They had physical objects Tabitha had given them to that they were proudly showing off while they mourned her death. Her legacy wasn’t only in love, kindness, and memories – but also in clothing that she invested her own time and money in expecting nothing in return. You and I: Several years ago we lost a family member and received great comfort from the family and friends that came to offer condolences. However, several days after the funeral, a friend showed up on our doorstep with restaurant gift cards that he and his kids had picked out for our family. The last thing we wanted to do during that time was to cook a meal and clean dishes. I will never forget that “Tabitha” act of kindness and have tried to imitate it when the opportunity arises. You see, it is way too easy for me to say – “I’ll be praying for you” when someone is going through tough times, and then not do anything about it (usually even forgetting to pray I must confess). Actually, a mentor once showed me how to overcome this. Whenever someone asks for prayer – do it right then and there (or over the phone) so you don’t forget. Doesn’t matter if you’re in a public place – act like you’re talking if it is that uncomfortable 🙂

Conclusion – Even if Tabitha hadn’t been miraculously raised from the dead – she did what author Max Lucado refers to as “Outliving Your Life.” She invested in people, thrived where God had put her, and used whatever resources she had to make the world a better place.

This is the only section in the Bible where Tabitha is mentioned. Even though she died, God wasn’t finished with her. He also wanted to display His mighty power as the Church was starting to build and grow.  Plus, Tabitha was able to join a select group of individuals that had been raised from the dead – including the Son of God. I look forward to meeting her in Heaven someday.

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

 

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What Doesn’t Make Sense About The Christmas Story . . .

I love Christmas time – but in all honesty, I have some serious questions about the whole narrative. Seeing the manger scene brings me hope, joy, happy memories, and peace. However, when I ponder deeply on the people and events surrounding the manger scene – I have some serious whys??? Please allow me to ramble for a few paragraphs – maybe you have struggled with some of these?

1) Why were Mary and the baby Jesus treated so poorly?

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. . . Joseph traveled to Bethlehem from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancee, who was now obviously pregnant.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.  (Luke 2: 1 – 7)

Here we go, unplugged – Why didn’t God move Augustus to give the census later so they could stay in their home for the baby’s birth? Why did Mary have to uncomfortably ride an animal towards the end of her pregnancy over 70 miles in distance? C’mon, not one room for The Son of God? A manger (a feeding trough)? The baby was born in the unsanitary conditions of a stable or cave-like structure with the stench of animals, straw, and dung? I just don’t understand.

2) Why were the shepherds the only ones allowed to see the host of angels?

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them . . . They were terrified, but the angel reassured them . . . I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today . . . Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven – praising God . . . (Luke 2: 8-20 for the full story)

Why didn’t the angelic army appear to Mary and Joseph to give them encouragement? Better yet, why not appear before King Herod and his henchmen to keep them away from the baby Jesus? Why the shepherds – why not another group that was slightly higher on the social ladder that could have more influence in spreading the word about the newborn Savior? Why did they have to go look in the dark to find the baby? I still don’t understand.

3) Later on in the story, why didn’t God intervene when King Herod was trying to kill Jesus?

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother, the angel said, “Stay there until I tell you to return because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him. (Matthew 2:13)

Again, the angels appear to shepherds – but won’t use their power to protect Mary, Joseph, and Jesus? Why not at least let them get a good night’s sleep? Why Egypt? A place with no family ties, hot, sandy, pagan culture, no job. The distance was about 491 miles – are you kidding me, why not somewhere closer? Why didn’t God use his power to simply give Herod a heart attack? I really don’t understand.

Moving past the Christmas story, the “whys” keep coming through the journey of life:

Why can’t I have children?

Why is my child rebelling?

Why can’t I get out of debt and why do things keep breaking down?

Why can’t I find the right person?

Why did I get cancer (or insert other diseases) in the prime of my life?

Why can’t I get an entry-level job or a promotion?

Why did the person I trusted cheat on me?

Why did those innocent people die?

And on and on the “whys?” go . . .

Guess what? It is okay for us to ask God “why?” Those are valid questions. Every one of us takes on difficult events, circumstances, and challenges. All throughout the Bible, God was questioned – by Moses, Gideon, Job, David, Mary, Joseph, and yes . . . even Jesus:

“My God, my God – why have you abandoned me???” (Matthew 27:46)

The dilemma is what do we do after the questioning? If we try to use logic, analysis, and reasoning to figure things out – we might get a little bit of insight. I have read several pieces of research that explain a lot of my Christmas story questions. That helps my brain, but logic doesn’t’ reach my heart. There is still an emptiness inside when we experience loss, unexpected trauma, or hurt.

Conclusion

The key is going back to God after our questions. Trusting in Him even though we don’t see answers. Relying on who He is instead of what we’re experiencing. Drawing a line in the sand with our prayers until we see Him move in His way. And he doesn’t need my approval or understanding in His master plan for the universe. Coming to the realization that God’s ways are unpredictable, uncontrollable, mind-boggling, loving, supernatural, wild, mysterious, unexplainable, redemptive, confusing, slow-moving, and disruptive. All which describe the Christmas story 🙂

Blessings,

Dave 🙂

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

 

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Brownie and Me (Part 2)

If you go to the archives on the right-side column, you can read Brownie and Me (Part 1) which was published on January 20, 2014.

I despise going to the vet. Let me rephrase that – my dogs and I despise it. What new ailment are they going to discover? How much will this visit cost? Why do they always want to schedule a follow-up appointment?

Okay, attitude check. Let me rephrase my rant. I GET to go to the vet. I am fortunate that they have meds to help heal my dogs. I am blessed that they provide quality care. We are lucky to have loving animals.

But that doesn’t make any of it easier when you’re going there to put your dog to sleep. Brownie has had the signs for months if not years: trouble breathing, trouble walking, trouble sleeping, and trouble holding her waste. Having this dog for 14 years, we clung to who she was in the past instead of who she had become.

As a family, we’ve already had to sit in “the room” twice before with Buster and Sadie. Being transparent – I had been praying for years not to have to do this. I had prayed that God would one day peacefully take her in her sleep. To please let us avoid having to schedule this dreadful appointment. I voiced my frustration to my daughter, and I believe she had a timely response. “Dad, Brownie loved us so much she fought to hold on to her life for us.” Very true. Brownie had been a fighter her entire life – rescued from a puppy mill with fleas and mange. A lifetime of emergency room visits, multiple back surgeries, and once was literally hours away from permanent paralysis. She always fought back. Why stop now near the end of her life?

Afterward, we cried, shared memories, swapped pictures, and clung tightly to our golden retriever Macy.

I don’t know about you, but I live with the hope we’ll be reunited with our pets in Heaven. Here are the two reasons why:

  1. The Bible talks about that there will be animals in Heaven.
  2. The Bible talks about everything will be made new in Heaven.

1) Animals in Heaven – The book of Revelation describes Jesus and the armies of Heaven returning to Earth on white stallions (Revelation 19:11-16). The prophet Isaiah gave a future vision of animals dwelling peacefully with each other and people (Isaiah 11: 6-8). The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra (v. 8). Just these few verses feature wolves, lambs, leopards, goats, calves, yearling, lions, cows, and snakes. I hate snakes – but these verses make it sound like they are going to be actually decent creatures. My personal belief is that this is not an exhaustive list of the animal kingdom in Heaven. So why not whales, kangaroos, hamsters, cats, and dogs???

2) Things Made New in Heaven – People will be radically changed and restored in Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:50-53). The Apostle Peter talked about a future time called “the restoration of all things.” Back to the book of Revelation, Jesus proclaimed, “Behold, I am making all things new (Revelation 21:5). The wording here is key, notice he didn’t say, “Behold, I am making all new things.” Since God is love (1 John 4:8), I have a hard time comprehending Him saying something like, “You enjoyed this on earth, but it will be taken away in Heaven – now get back to choir practice!!!”

Conclusion – You know what, I could be way off with my beliefs and opinions. That’s okay. There’s probably a scholarly theologian somewhere out there that can prove me wrong. That doesn’t bother me – I’ll keep clinging to the hope someday once again it will be Brownie and Me 🙂

 

Blessings,

Dave

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

 

 

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Are You a No-Name??? Perfect!!!

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).

In the next few posts, I want to go with this theme. 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?

Next post, I want to share an account of an amazing woman from the Bible that you’ve probably never heard of . . .

Blessings,

Dave

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

 

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FEAR – What It Really Stands For

I originally published this about a year ago. With unstable current events, clouds of uncertainty all over the globe, and tightening stressors in our personal lives – I’m hoping this can bring some encouragement:

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

P.S. I have a free devotional eBook called “Overcoming Fears” to help guide you on your journey. Just email me at:

david.rische@gmail.com

And put “fear ebook” in the subject line and I will send it to you 🙂

 

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