What To Do While We’re Waiting . . .

Possibly, what could be the greatest event in history – we have no idea when it will happen. . . I’m referring to The Rapture – when Jesus Christ meets all believers in the air to spend eternity with Him. Check out 1st Thessalonians 4: 16-18 for a condensed description. Jesus said there would be obvious signs (see Matthew 24), but he also mentioned that ,“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24: 42)

So the question becomes: What do we do while we’re waiting for this event? Buy a cabin in the foothills of Montana (plus a shotgun and reliable hound)? Stock up our food pantries with toilet paper and granola bars? Set up our homes with traps against bad guys like Kevin did in Home Alone??? Okay, I’ve tried all of these and they don’t work πŸ™‚

One thing every single person can do is to continue growing. Seriously, that’s it? Yes! If we look at the last book of the Bible, Revelation – we see that Jesus’s words fill the first 3 chapters. And then if we go to the last chapter, He ends with: “Yes, I am coming soon!” (Revelation 22: 20) Anyway, back to the first 3 chapters. He has 7 distinct messages for 7 unique churches. Messages that still can be applied to us today.

In Revelation 2, verse 19 Jesus says, “I know all the things you do. . . And I can see your constant improvement in all of these things.” Constant improvement equals growth. Well, what are the “things” he is talking about? I left them out on purpose. Jesus mentions 4 key areas to keep growing in: “I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance.” Here’s the deal: There is an easy way and a hard way to grow in each of the 4 areas.

  1. LoveThe easy way = Loving family, friends, cool people and nice people. The hard way = Loving annoying people, rude people, needy people, and creepy people (as author Bob Goff says, “Love the creepiest person you come in contact with every day.”)
  2. FaithThe easy way = Listening to a motivating sermon, praying for myself and family, reading the Bible. The hard way = Having no idea how a situation is going to turn out and completely trusting God. Letting go of control of people and things. Giving financially when the money just isn’t there.
  3. ServiceThe easy way = Telling someone I’ll pray for them (and then forgetting). Helping someone out if it fits into my schedule. The hard way = Helping someone when it is inconvenient or uncomfortable. Committing to volunteer at a charity or church – especially in the spots that are largely avoided.
  4. Patient EnduranceThe easy way = standing in line at Kroger (or any other store) patiently because they are understaffed. The hard way = Praying to God desperately and you see the situation getting worse – or it seems the prayer is going unheard or unanswered. And most of all – waiting and wondering when His Son will be returning . . .

Conclusion: There it is. That should keep us busy until He returns for us. One final word from Jesus found in that chapter. “I will ask nothing more of you except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come.” (Revelation 2: 24) Hold tight. Keep fighting, hoping, praying, watching and waiting. And of course – keep growing in love, faith, service, and patient endurance. Oh yes, I almost forgot – don’t be a creepy person that someone has to love! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Blessings,

Dave πŸ™‚

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

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What To Do When Your Anxiety Is Off The Charts . . .

Doesn’t is seem like there is always something to be worried about? If not in our personal lives – then one quick look at the news highlights can fuel our angst rapidly? I read a study by Harvard Business Review showing that “Anxiety is the #1 Mental Illness and affects over 40 million Americans.” One of the tragedies of the study is that it was published back in May of 2020. What would the number be today???

That is why I love the title of the book, Worried About Everything Because I Pray About Nothing. One day I was randomly listening to a podcast and the guest was the author, Chad Veach. Never heard of him. His interview was so intriguing – I had to rush out and get the book (okay, my library had it available for free).

Chad’s foundational principle is that we should pray, turn things over to God, and pray some more until we reach some level of inner peace. In his own words, “Pray yourself to peace.” Worry, anxiety, and “fixing it” are usually our default modes. I had a fairly intense encounter with an angry “client” last week. It all turned out okay. After reflecting – I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t pray before, during, or after that encounter. Was I anxious? Yes. Was I worried? Yes. Did I pray? No.

Here are some of the key scripture verses from the book:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. (Philippians 4: 6-7)

You (God) will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26: 3)

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. (2 Thessalonians 3: 16)

“I (Jesus) am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give . . . “ (John 14: 27)

So if The Bible is true (it is!) – then perfect peace, God’s peace we can’t understand, and peace at all times and in every situation are attainable? Sign me up for this program! That’s the tricky part. It takes some effort, intentionality, and time on our parts. “Pray about everything” is the revealed secret. And it goes to a whole new level when my prayers stop being so “me” focused and they shift to others needs (and praying about world events instead of worrying or being angry about them). Here are are a few quotes that stood out to me from the book. Actually, they stood out because they were 1/2 inspiring and 1/2 “Ouch!”:

“Don’t ask God to guide your steps if you’re not ready to get off the couch.”

“It is easier to pray about things than to actually put in the work to fix them.”

“Crazy thought: Our prayers can move the hand of God.”

“Prayer is relational and not transactional.”

“What do you give a God that has everything??? . . . . . We give him more of ourselves!”

Conclusion: How about we give this a try? The next time something happens that leads our thoughts to worry, anxiety, and stress – what would happen if they first thing we did was stop and pray? It can be silent, swift, and imperfect. What would it be like if we started the habit of “praying yourself to peace”? And finally, what if our lives reflected flipping the title of this book? Worried About Nothing Because I Pray About Everything . . .

Blessings,

Dave πŸ™‚

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

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A New Year’s Resolution in One Day!

January 1, 2023 has come and gone. Hopefully you’re still holding on tightly to your resolutions, goals, new habits, “one word”, and gym memberships. Those are all great things. The challenge as we all know is sustaining them for the long haul. My weak resolution of “eating healthier” is already starting to fizzle as I find myself chomping down a Double Double with fries from In and Out Burger debating internally whether to top off this dopamine hit with a quick trip to Andy’s Frozen Custard. . .

I’d like to share something I discovered that I believe is better than a New Year’s Resolution. How would you like to substantially grow mentally, physically, and spiritually – in one day???

Recently I listened to a podcast interviewing a guy named Colin O’ Brady. Never heard of him – but I was immediately drawn in and intrigued as his life highlights were shared. Colin is an extreme adventurer and explorer. He has climbed Mount Everest (plus every other major mountain in the world). He pulled a 375 pound sled across Antarctica by himself, and he has scaled all of the highest points in each of the 50 states in a 3 week time span!

So . . . I wanted to share with you about his “Antarctica Challenge for The Common Folk”. Totally joking! Colin has written a book called The 12 Hour Walk. The title speaks for itself. He asks that you set aside one day to walk for 12 hours. Why? From his website he states:

“A new mindset. A life-changing experience. An opportunity to grow.”

“The 12-Hour Walk was developed as a one day prescription to eliminate your limiting beliefs and prove to you that you have the power to shift to a Possible Mindsetβ„’ to achieve anything.”

It is simple to get started:

  1. Go to http://www.12hourwalk.com/commit to read the basic info, FAQs, and to sign up!
  2. It’s free, you don’t need to train, and you can walk as little or as much distance as you’d like.
  3. You can download the free app to track your progress. You also are allowed to take rest breaks and eat prepacked meals or snacks.
  4. Phones can be set on airplane mode to not disturb you during your walk. It’s a good practice to let 1-2 people know your route beforehand.
  5. On the day of your walk (I used a backpack) – don’t forget sunscreen, water, proper clothing, sunglasses, a little cash, ID, and a hat (plus, I brought along my stun gun flashlight jusssssst in case . . . ). Plus, pen and paper to record thoughts.

Reasons why you’ll try to convince yourself not to do it:

  1. I don’t have time for this.
  2. Others questioning: Why are you doing this?
  3. I’m not in good enough shape. Plus, I’m tired all the time.
  4. I don’t need this. I’m fine.

Those are all valid reasons. My encouragement is to step out of your comfort zone and give it a try. Simply detoxing from your phone for 12 hours is worth it alone. Do you want 2023 to be different than 2022? The 12 Hour Walk is a tremendous way to usher in the new year with potential for new breakthroughs. Last night, I heard a pastor say the familiar quote, “To get to where you’ve always wanted to be – you have to do things that you’ve never done before!”

My experience highlights:

  1. I left at 5:30 am – so it was incredibly peaceful and quiet with very little noise from cars.
  2. I was able to watch the sunrise from a “coaches tower” on one of the soccer fields. The entire walk helped me slow down and see the beauty and details I would normally rush past.
  3. In Bear Creek Park – I discovered memorials to a 16 year old who died of cancer and an 18 year old who also died too young. Plus I came upon a “Rock Art Path” that I never knew existed.
  4. Near our town hall – I took time at a war memorial to reflect and give thanks over those that historically made the ultimate sacrifice of laying down their lives so we can be free.
  5. I saw the most colorful, beautiful cardinal I’d ever seen during my entire life (I believe was a “wink” from God – he knows that’s my favorite bird).
  6. Forgotten memories flooded my mind as I walked past 2 schools I have worked at in the past and multiple parks we used to take the kids to when they were young. Because of the large block of time – I was able to think, pray, plan, reflect, and clear my mind.
  7. I stopped at a QT to use the restroom. I was sitting outside on the curb in the shade. Still had 5 hours left – was in crummy clothing, sweating profusely, starting to tire, had my backpack by my side, and overall looked quite ragged. A gentleman got out of his parked car and approached me saying, “Sir . . . do you need any help?” He thought I was homeless. I replied, “Believe or not – this was planned!” πŸ™‚
  8. I did not miss my phone or my constant gazing at it for sports, texts, news, emails, politics, alerts, social media, “likes”, entertainment, end times events, blah, blah, blah.
  9. And finally, I was challenged physically and mentally wanting to quit – but I pushed myself to the end. My initial goal was to walk 8 – 10 miles. I ended up with 18 miles!!! The longest I have ever walked πŸ™‚

My challenge highlights:

  1. Initial impatience. Confession: The first time I checked the timer – only 10 minutes had passed! “Are we there yet?” πŸ™‚
  2. Negative voices in my head when I began: “You could be at home in bed right now.” “You don’t have time for this.” “You’re missing all the NFL action today.” “This is stupid.” “What if you get injured or abducted?”
  3. Multiple times I wanted to quit and call one of family members to come pick me up.
  4. It was an exceptionally warm day with no cloud coverage. I guess that is better than it being frigid and windy?
  5. I did get lost in a fancy neighborhood at one point (you’re not allowed to use GPS technology). The homes were so high I couldn’t see for any decent length of distance. And I kept running into cul-de-sacs when I thought I had finally found the exit point. But hey, wandering aimlessly for about an hour increased my mileage total!
  6. I’ve battled MS for over 15 years. One of my symptoms is continual pain in my right thigh and heel because of past nerve damage. I was in increased pain and limping for about 3 days after the walk. But the limping went away!

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride (Ecclesiastes 7:8).

Conclusion: So what say you? My challenge to you is to give the 12 hour walk a shot. Or, what is something else you can do that you’ve never done that will stretch you out of your comfort zone? Running or walking in a marathon, volunteering at church, starting a non-profit, self-publishing a book, speaking up where you are normally silent, reading replacing some screen time, creating art, starting a side-hustle business, going back to college, attempting a new sport, giving radically to a cause you believe in . . .

Please let me know in the comments here or through email: david.rische@gmail.com if you take on the 12 hour walk. Or, please share something else new that you’ve done or doing to grow physically, mentally, or spiritually.

Blessings,

Dave πŸ™‚

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

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What Will The Next Christmas Look Like?

P.S. – A rough “draft” copy may have been sent earlier by mistake if you are a subscriber. Oops!

As you probably have noticed – this is the most wonderful time of the year when we turn our attention and reflect on Jesus coming to the earth as a baby over 2000 years ago. Gifts are exchanged, happy music is playing, and sugar laced treats are in abundance.

What about the next time Jesus visits the earth? What will that look like? The definition of the word Christmas involves the birth of Jesus and the celebration of him coming to the earth. I’m using artistic liberty to refer to his return to be with us again as “The Next Christmas”. In the book of Acts he and his angels gave some parting words to his followers to encourage them that he would be returning someday:

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses telling people about me everywhere . . . “ (Acts 1: 6-8).

After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” (Acts 1: 9-10).

Someday he will return from heaven . . . The Next Christmas! So the next coming of Jesus will be much different than the first featuring Mary and Joseph, the manger, the shepherds, angels singing, and the wise men. As the angels declared – this reuniting with him will occur in the sky or heavenly realms. The apostle Paul provides us with this preview 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. We will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

Meet the Lord in the air . . . We will be with the Lord forever . . . The Next Christmas!

The burning questions of the ages remains: When will this Next Christmas happen? When will be the “someday” that the angels told his followers? Are there any signs to look out for? Please read the entire chapter of Matthew 24 to get the full context of Jesus’s explanation. However, some clear signs that he mentioned are fresh out of today’s headlines:

Wars and rumors of war, pestilence and famines, earthquakes in various places, and people divided against one another with intense hatred. The frustrating part is we can’t control these major events in the news. However, Jesus did give us advice on 3 areas that we can personally control and guard our hearts until he returns:

Beware of deception.

Being prepared at all times.

Not clinging to or being stuck in the past.

  1. Beware of deception Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many (Matthew 24: 4, 5). This warning goes much deeper than the surface level of an egomaniac person in power or crazed dictator claiming they can save the people and the world without God. The tricky thing about deception is that . . . it can be so deceitful. Anyone or anything can become a “Messiah” or a “Savior” that we look to for relief and prioritize besides God – people, money, jobs, politicians, hobbies, vacations, habits that lead to addictions, pursuing comfort and pleasure above all else – the list is endless. Maybe that is what Jesus meant when he used the phrase “many will come”?
  2. Be prepared at all times“However, no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows . . . You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected (Matthew 24: 36, 44). He could return as you’re reading this – or he could return 100 years from now. We have an enemy, the devil, that wants us to keep thinking that we don’t need to be concerned right now about where we are in our walk with God. He sneakily whispers, “Jesus isn’t coming back any time soon, if at all. Why don’t you pursue the ‘good life’ now? You deserve it. Isn’t God holding out on you with all these rules and restrictions?” Again, deceit creeps in. It is a slow falling away that the Bible describes in many of its books. On a personal level – it is so much easier for me to watch church online instead of going in person. Then, it gets easy for me to skip online services because, “I’ll get caught up next week due to this week’s busy schedule.” And I missed my Bible time and prayer because I’ve got to get my fantasy football lineup ready for the playoffs and check in on how many “likes” that funny video I posted got . . . Down the rabbit hole of distraction I go. Maybe you can relate? Author John Eldredge skillfully puts this phenomenon into words in his book Resilient, “Satan is much cleverer than all that. I believe what we will see – what is happening now – is simply people giving up on God in large numbers.” (pg. 47). Which starts with us making those small choices that lead to unpreparedness.
  3. Not clinging to or being stuck in the past – The book of Luke, chapter 17 starting at verse 20 is another recorded discussion regarding Jesus’ next return. He gives this warning, “Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed . . . Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.” (Luke 17: 30, 32, 33). What happened to Lot’s wife? Way back in Genesis chapter 19 – she and her family were fleeing their evil city that was being destroyed by God. Lot and his family had been warned by God’s angel to leave as quickly as possible and not look back. Well . . Lot’s wife decided to ignore the warning and looked back. She instantly was turned into a pillar of salt. It’s easy to see ourselves in what Lot’s wife did – no way can I point a finger of judgement at her. Maybe her thoughts were . . . “I want to go back to the way things were . . . Can’t things be normal and good again? . . . Just a quick glance to see what I’m missing out on . . . Sure, God says ________, but that applies to everyone but me . . . “

Conclusion – So after that ‘gloom and doom’ message – what do we do? πŸ™‚ Remember, Paul said to “Encourage each other with these words”. It really is a happy and hopeful message when we take a closer look. The Next Christmas we will be able to experience what all those at the manger scene experienced, plus so much more. Being in the physical presence of the Savior of the Universe. Forever. A new heaven and a new earth. The restoration of Eden and evil banished for good. Perfected, spiritual, and always healthy bodies and minds.

And finally, a reminder that God gave the greatest gift of all to provide us a way out of the current deception and upcoming destruction:

For God so love the world (me, you, and all humanity) that he gave (the ultimate Christmas gift) his only Son – that whoever believes in him (trusts and puts faith in, relies upon, follows) would not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Don’t quit now . . . the finish line is just over the next hill . . . Christmas is coming . . .

Blessings AND Merry Christmas!

Dave πŸ™‚

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

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It’s Thanksgiving time . . . but what about ________?

Last Monday was rough. Out of nowhere – a small colony of ants decided to invade our food pantry. Our washing machine wouldn’t stop flowing water – so it needed several hundred dollars to repair (then it broke down again with a new problem so it will be replaced). In the Kroger parking lot while I was in the store – someone scraped my vehicle with theirs leaving chipped paint on the bumper and ugly white marks. Student behavior at work is unlike anything we’ve seen in the last 5 years. I could go on and on – but then there’s perspective. You probably have your list of things too. And I’ll bet they are equal to or worse than mine.

Perspective. The Bible says to “Give thanks in all circumstances . . .” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) How do we give thanks when things keep breaking down without any relief? We ponder – could we please catch an extended break from the problems, hassles, and trials that life continues to throw at us?

Recently I heard an interview with Josh Peck, who was a childhood actor of the hit show Drake and Josh several years ago. Unfortunately, he went the familiar route of struggles being connected with fame and riches as a young star. Josh discusses his battles with self confidence, addiction, and depression. Fortunately, he was able to come out of it. I’m paraphrasing, but during the interview he said something to the effect of:

The majority of our problems are the results of our luxuries.” Hmm . . . Perspective.

Ants in the pantry . . . I have a pantry with food stored in it. Unlike millions in this world.

Washing machine broke . . . I can wash my clothes in a machine instead of a pond or river.

Damage on my bumper . . . I have a vehicle to drive instead of walking or riding a bike everywhere.

Student behavior at work . . . I have a job and a steady paycheck in this unpredictable economy.

Try this with your struggles. Yes, there are things that we can’t figure out how to be thankful for: death of a loved one, exploited children, poverty, violent crime, global wars, etc. But there are some things that we can shift our viewpoint on. Author Jon Gordon states, “You cannot be thankful and stressed at the same time.” His advice is to flood our minds and vocabulary with positive, hopeful, and thankful statements to help offset the negative.

One more example. I was hesitant to share this – it’s pretty intense. However, it has helped me every time I start drifting towards being ungrateful, asking “Why me?” – or feeling frustrated when things keep breaking down. This story comes from professional photographer Lisa Kristine. For more than 25 years she has traveled the most hidden parts of the world to capture the beauty and expose the hardships of indigenous peoples. This is her horrific description of visiting one of the illegal brick kilns in India:

“This strange and awesome sight was like walking into ancient Egypt or Dante’s Inferno. Enveloped in temperatures of 130 degrees, men, women, children, entire families in fact, were cloaked in a heavy blanket of dust, while mechanically stacking bricks on their head, up to 18 at a time, and carrying them from the scorching kilns to trucks hundreds of yards away. Deadened by monotony and exhaustion, they work silently, doing this task over and over for 16 or 17 hours a day. There were no breaks for food, no water breaks, and the severe dehydration made urinating pretty much inconsequential. So pervasive was the heat and dust that my camera became too hot to even touch and ceased working. Every 20 minutes, I’d have to run back to our cruiser to clean out my gear and run it under an air conditioner to revive it, and as I sat there, I thought, my camera is getting far better treatment than these people . . .

Perspective.

Blessings,

Dave πŸ™‚

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

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You Are Enough! (reboot)

When was the last time you heard the phrase in the subject line? Perhaps a few times during your life, maybe never?

You are enough, right now, exactly who you are, exactly what you are doing.

You see, we are continually bombarded with the message that we’re not enough!
We’re not fit enough. We’re not good looking enough. We’re not wealthy enough. We’re not enough in our careers – we should be so much further along. We’re not as good of parents as the people on Facebook are. We’re not enough as a partner or spouse as the people on Instagram are. We’re not as educated as the people on Twitter are. We’re not as creative and cool as those making Tik Tok videos. We don’t volunteer or give enough. We’re not enough staying at home, we should be out there working and contributing. We don’t travel or do fun things enough. And on and on it goes.

It has been often said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Another powerful quote on comparison to reflect on: “Don’t compare your chapter 2 with someone else’s chapter 8 . . .”

What would happen if we started to truly believe from the depths of our soul that we are enough, today, right where we are? What if we stopped looking at social media and celebrities for the standard of how we should look and live? Yes – we can be a better version tomorrow and be committed to growth and personal development. But let’s just focus on today – because it is our only guarantee.

You are enough physically:  “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made . . .” (Psalm 139:14)

You are enough in your career – or if you stay at home or are in school or are retired: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope . . .” (Jeremiah 29:11)

You are enough financially: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

You are enough as a parent, spouse, partner, or friend: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

You are enough in your relationship with God: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
Here’s the big one for me: “If God is for us – who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

So start telling yourself, “I am enough” when you feel you aren’t. Like all habits, this will take time to sink into your mind. When comparison, inadequacies, and envy rear their ugly heads, simply reply with, “I am enough!” “I will improve – but for today I am enough!”

Blessings,

Dave πŸ™‚

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

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Combating Anxiety Victoriously . . .

Multiple studies I recently researched all confirm that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the United States. In fact, anxiety disorders were also number one before the global pandemic hit in 2020. So what do we do? Suffer in silence? Just get over it? Feel like a “burden” or a “downer” when we open up to others? Another challenge is finding a quality therapist without a month’s long waiting list – or someone who will accept our insurance.

Here are some practices that we can start today:

  1. Saturating our minds with God’s Word. Wait a minute. We’ve heard this one before. That sounds like cliched advice. Sometimes this can be difficult when we read certain verses and wonder – How am I supposed to do that???

Be anxious for nothing . . . (Philippians 4:6)

Don’t worry about tomorrow . . . (Matthew 6:34)

Cast all your cares on God . . . (Psalm 55:22)

“God, I want to do all of those things – but I just can’t right now! I’m exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically.” That’s the secret – we cannot do it. That’s what makes our faith special – we have to have supernatural intervention, power, and peace beyond our own strength. We cannot “pull up our bootstraps”, “suck it up”, “get our act together” – especially during these times of chaos on the human soul. As author Lysa Terkeurst states, “No human should have to carry the weight of being their own god, but so many do.”

Maybe it is a yearly Bible plan. Maybe a chapter a day. Maybe even a sentence a day. Writing a verse on a sticky note and looking at it multiple times. Figure out what works for you and stay with it. If you miss a day or two or more – it’s all right. God will still be there waiting anxiously to meet with you. And that is the good kind of anxious.

2. Making small choices that bring you life, joy, and health. In June of 2022 – I was able to take a brief, but restorative trip to Seattle. Many of my co-workers and friends traveled all over the U.S. – some even to other countries. I love to travel – it is one of my favorite hobbies. The challenge is those trips are only temporary escapes. We come back to loaded schedules, kids needs, bills, busy households, empty households, vehicle and household repairs, illnesses, and on and on and on. Seattle wasn’t enough. Trips to Disneyworld and Europe don’t help us get through Monday mornings or days we feel exhausted for no particular reason. Carnival Cruise memories won’t help my grocery, medical, and gas bills.

Again, to quote Lysa Terkeurst as she worked through marriage infidelity and a cancer diagnosis at the same time: “I went to bed that night seriously contemplating running away to Montana to hide from my life. I could be a waitress in a breakfast diner. I had been a waitress when I was in my early twenties and loved it. Life was simpler then. Serving up plates of bacon and eggs and toast sounded so appealing. But cancer would follow me. The hurt would follow me. And even wrestling with whether or not I could trust God would certainly follow me whether I moved to Montana or just crawled in a hole somewhere.”

I think we can all relate. “If I just lived in Italy and my job was simply to take care of a vineyard. What if I worked on a cruise ship and ran a small sovenier shop? Or what if my wife and I had a small hut off the coast of Belize selling coconut milk to the locals – then I wouldn’t have any problems? Or, this could help me escape my current ones???”

Somehow we need to make daily choices doing the things that bring us restoration. A few weeks ago I was in a “funk”. I took a nap. Watched a rerun of Seinfeld. Played with my dog. Cleaned a stack of dishes I was avoiding while cranking The Who. I read a little. Watched a rerun of 24. All of that got me out of my funk. This prescription probably wouldn’t work for you. Find those things that bring you joy and life – and make sure you tap into it preferably multiple times every day. Some enjoy intense exercise. Some enjoy chilling on the couch. Maybe it is cooking, gardening, reading, prayer, silence, loudness. However you’re uniquely wired – fill that tank every day. Even if your filling is only 5 minutes. We’ve all been running on fumes for too long.

The trick is to take stress and anxiety and flip the script on them. Using them to build resilience, perseverance, grit, and feeling proud with each challenge we overcome. Then those two vices lose their grip on our hearts. As podcaster Ed Mylett says, “We need some stress and some fear in our lives to keep us on the edge. Otherwise we would be bored and unguarded and soft and foolish.”

I don’t want to be soft and foolish – I want to be jacked and exceptionally wise!!!

However, I was able to find a verse in the Bible that actually spoke positively about anxiety. It is tucked away in 1 Peter 4:2:

You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be ANXIOUS to do the will of God.

So we ARE allowed to be anxious regarding the will of God. What does that look like in real time? More on that next month . . .

Blessings,

Dave πŸ™‚

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

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Is This The End of The World as We Know It??? (Part 5)

Why Should I Look Forward To Heaven?

Phew – we did it! This is the conclusion of a series that began back in May of 2022. This month, I wanted to tackle a question that many of us are afraid to ask: Why should we look forward to Heaven? In fact, many questions arise if we dig deep enough: What if things are going fairly decent here on planet earth – why leave a good thing? What if someone still has the desire to get married and have children? What if I’m just starting a career – or I finally have found a job that I really enjoy? What about finally being able to retire – is that going to be taken away from me? How can I put my faith in a place that I’ve never seen?

Those are all fair questions. Plus, most of us have had imagery implanted in our minds that make Heaven seem quite boring. Does any of this sound familiar? We will sit on clouds with the angels wearing white robes playing harps. We will float aimlessly from place to place as disembodied spirits resembling Halloween ghosts. We will worship before The Lord forever and ever – kind of like a never ending church service. It would be impossible to answer all the questions and provide explanations for all of the misconceptions we have about the afterlife. Instead, why don’t we take a look at some of the major benefits of being a citizen in Heaven?

  1. We get new, supernatural bodies that endure forever. Imagine not getting sick anymore. Dream about loved ones not dying unexpectedly or of old age. Allergies, the flu, and COVID being gone forever. We won’t need a cure for cancer – because cancer will be gone. We can finally say goodbye to heart disease, diabetes, paralysis, asthma, arthritis, dementia, mental illness, HIV, MS (yes – no more infusions!), or anything else that consumes the body and mind. The Apostle Paul gives us a preview: Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. What I’m saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15: 49 – 54). And how about this promise from Paul: Jesus Christ will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control (Philippians 3: 21). So . . . we will be like Jesus when he rose from the dead? Let your imagination run wild for a few seconds moments. Remember that God is light years beyond a creative genius. Will we be able to fly like a bird? Swim like the whales? Run like a cheetah? We won’t know until we get there. But I promise we won’t be playing harps and floating around like ghosts πŸ™‚
  2. We get a new home, far beyond our wildest dreams. Think about your favorite place you have visited or lived. For me – it was vacationing to Italy. Fascinating historical monuments that seemed to be around every city corner, breathtaking views of rolling hills and vineyards resembling a movie set, and fresh, exquisite food served by families in quaint restaurants. What we need to do is take your place and my place and then multiply the excitement, pleasure, beauty, and joy found there by at least 1000X. That is a glimpse of Heaven. Here is the vision that the Apostle John saw: 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 . . . It shone with the glory of God and sparkled like a precious stone – like jasper as clear as crystal . . . its length AND width AND height were EACH 1,400 MILES (approximately the distance from Canada to Texas) . . . and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass (Revelation 21: 1 – 18). One last detail to ponder. God also says in Revelation 21:5 – “Look, I am making ALL things new!” The wording is crafted carefully. Notice he didn’t say, “Look, I am making all NEW things!” The destructive forces that have harmed our bodies and planet are gone. God will cleanse and restore this planet. In a way that is mind boggling to comprehend – we get it all back! We won’t have time to sit on the clouds strumming harps πŸ™‚
  3. Evil will finally be defeated, and we will live in peace with God and each other for eternity. What would a world be like with no violence, wars, human trafficking, or crime? Imagine a place where political parties stop fighting with each other and are unified. No more unexpected and devastating natural disasters. No more poverty, drought, incurable diseases. No more dictators, murderers, or corruption. No more emotional pain of betrayal, heart break, stress, anxiety, addiction, jealousy, selfishness, and fear. That is Heaven! Jesus gave his disciples a sneak preview of our new home as recorded by his Apostle John. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14: 1-3). John was around 90 years old when he wrote this hopeful passage in the book of Revelation: I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people”. . . God 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 all the nations will bring their glory and honor into The New Jerusalem. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty – but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s (Jesus’) Book of Life (Revelation 21: 3, 4 & Revelation 22: 26, 27). This sounds a lot better than a never ending church service πŸ™‚

Conclusion: Besides The Bible – the greatest book I have read about our future home is called Heaven by Randy Alcorn. Please get a copy if you want to further study this topic on your own. He takes on the tough questions and provides detailed insight into the afterlife that will be anything but boring.

Based on the scripture I quoted from Revelation 22, you might be wondering – how do I make sure my name is in The Lamb’s Book of Life? That is the most important question any of us will ask during this lifetime. This is what I shared back in May of 2022:

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). If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (1 John 1:9).
  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, β€œI 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!

Please don’t delay this decision. To “not decide” is to decide. There is not neutral – we are either in or out. We all hope to live long, happy, productive, and healthy lives. Which may be the case for you. However, life is so uncertain and unpredictable – what if today is your final day on Earth? Before you end reading this and go on to something else – please take action now to finalize your eternal destination . . .

Blessings,

Dave πŸ™‚

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

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Is This The End Of The World As We Know It??? (Part 4)

Why We May Be In The End Times

Welcome back! Or, if you’re just joining – we’ve been taking a look at the question: Are we in The End Times? Please scroll around and click on my blogs for May, early June, and late June to get caught up if you’ve missed one. We have two more sessions to go! Today we’ll take a close look at the reasons why these possibly ARE The End Times that we are experiencing now. It could be today that Jesus comes back for his people. Or it could be 100 years from now. The Bible clearly states “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) However, The Bible clearly shares with us in advance what some of signs will be right before Jesus’s return. Similar to when the weather in Texas stops being in the triple digits and finally starts to get cooler in November and December – we know that the winter season is about to occur (thankfully). And practically speaking – The End Times have to happen sometime in history. Why couldn’t we be the generation experiences it? Here are three reasons why we might be in that “season” of The End Times:

  1. Jesus warned about some obvious clues we would observe and they would increase in intensity. If you have the time please read the entire chapter of Matthew 24. The scene starts with Jesus sitting privately on the Mount of Olives. His close followers boldly approach him and bluntly ask: “Tell us, when will all this happen (the destruction of the Temple buildings they just were admiring)? What will signal your return and the end of the world?(Matthew 24: 3)

Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone deceive you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of birth pains, with more to come (Matthew 24: 4 – 8).

A quick glance at the news in July of 2022 reveals all of these: Deception regarding truth, war with Russia and threats of other nations, local and worldwide segmentation between people groups, global food shortages, droughts, and earthquakes all over the world. With birth pains – they increase in intensity until there is the point of no return and the baby is here. The question then arises: How soon until the baby comes???

2. The apostle Paul warned how the behavior of people is going to grow exceedingly worse. When writing to his apprentice Timothy – Paul gave an eerily detailed snapshot about how mankind’s behavior and character would look: You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed with pride, and love pleasure rather than God (2 Timothy 3: 1 – 4).

Once again – a quick glance at any news source and Paul’s writing sounds like what is going on all over the world. The argument can be made: Yes, but people have always acted that way. True, but how much worse is can it get and how much higher of an intensity level can there be with the violence, shootings, anger, rebellion against authorities, selfishness, greed, political division, and an anti-God worldview that we are witnessing on a global scale?

3. Israel is reestablished as a nation of influence and power. Back in AD 70, Jerusalem was destroyed by The Romans and the Jewish people were scattered all throughout the world. After approximately 1800 years – there were almost no Jewish people living in Israel. However, looking at The Bible – every Old Testament prophet except Jonah predicted that Israel would become a nation again and that the Jewish people from around the world would return to their ancient homeland. These key prophetic texts all necessarily require Israel to exist as a nation: Ezekiel 38, Daniel 9, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, and several chapters in Revelation. The reestablishment of the nation of Israel occurred on May 14, 1948, and was an undeniable fulfillment of prophecy. Currently, Israel has a strong military, financial prosperity, and natural resources for energy use and distribution. If Israel isn’t reestablished – then The Bible has errors and can’t be trusted as the authoritative word of God.

Finally, for the third time in this blog – take a look at the news. See how often Israel is in the headlines. Google sometime how many countries have weapons specifically pointed and targeted towards this tiny nation. Why does there seem to always be unrest in Israel with those that surround it? First, God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham way back in Genesis 15 that these would be His special people, He would provide a land for them, and He would never completely abandon them. Second, The Devil knows of this plan – so he wants to do everything in his power to destroy Israel and their people before his time is up.

Phew! I know that was pretty heavy stuff. We can feel uncertain and scared. Fear of the unknown is a powerful force. It’s easy to experience angst about the future. Kind of a gloom and doom message.

This leads back to something I wrote about in the first of this series. We don’t have to live in fear now or wonder about where we will spend eternity. Don’t put off this decision. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Here is a review from the first session:

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, β€œI 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!

Conclusion: One final thought. When writing about The End Times, the apostle Paul shared this message with a group of believers that were young in their faith:

. . . we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words (1 Thessalonians 4: 17, 18).

One of Paul’s friend’s named Titus wrote this concerning The End Times:

. . . looking forward to that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

Wait a minute – if it is a gloom and doom message, why would Paul say to “encourage each other”? If it is going to be cataclysmic chaos and apocalyptic destruction, why would Titus say to “look forward to that blessed hope?” I’m glad you asked! That will be our final message in this series next blog – How to be filled with hope and joy instead of fear and anxiety if we are in The End Times.

See you then!

Blessings,

Dave πŸ™‚

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

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Is This The End Of The World As We Know It??? (Part 3)

Why We May Not Be Living In The End Times

If you’re just joining – we’ve been taking a look at the question: Are we in The End Times? Please scroll around and click on my blogs for May and early June to get caught up if you’ve missed one. I wanted to take a close look at the reasons why these possibly aren’t The End Times that we are experiencing now.

  1. Only God knows the specific time in history when The End Times will occur. One day Jesus was sitting, thinking, and probably reflecting while he was on the Mount of Olives overlooking the city of Jerusalem. His followers came up to him and boldly asked, “What will signal your return and the end of the world?” (Matthew 24: 3) Please read his entire response in Matthew chapter 24 to get the full picture. Towards the end of his discourse – he slips in this famous line: “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)
  2. All throughout recorded history – people have thought they were in The End Times. Around A.D. 54 the Apostle Paul wrote: Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now then when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here (Romans 13:12). One of Jesus’s closest friends was The Apostle John – he wrote five books of The New Testament. Near the time of A.D. 90 he wrote: 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 (1 John 2: 18). Many evil rulers or historical figures were viewed as the Antichrist such as Herod, Nero, Antiochus Epiphanes (look him up – bad dude), Hitler, Genghis Khan Mussolini, Mao, and Stalin. More recently Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, and even Putin. Catastrophic events also led many to believe they were in The End Times like the Black Plague, The Great Depression, World Wars I and II, The Cuban Missile Crisis, and most currently, the global COVID pandemic. However, in spite of these devastating challenges – the human race keeps pushing forward with God’s protection and intervention.
  3. The Bible shows that God postpones judgement and punishment. The prophet Jonah was told to go to the city of Nineveh and warn them of coming judgment. He didn’t do it (please read the full story – especially the whale part). Fast forward – after some life altering events, Jonah gets a second chance. He obeys God and proclaims that Nineveh will be destroyed in 40 days. His message worked: When God saw what they (the people of Nineveh) had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened (Jonah 3:10). Another example comes from the life of King David. After David committed a sin of great pride (1 Chronicles 21), here is what happened to his kingdom: So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and 70,000 people died as a result. And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But just as the angel was preparing to destroy it, the Lord relented and said to the death angel, “Stop! That is enough!” (1 Chronicles 21:14,15)
  4. The heart of God is that all would repent and come to Him. The apostle Peter was part of Jesus’s inner circle. He has two New Testament books that he is credited for writing. Around A.D. 65 he gives us this insight: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (2 Peter 3: 8,9). A few verses later he reemphasizes his point: And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved (2 Peter 3:15). John also explored this topic with two of the most known verses of The Bible: For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but save the world through him (John 3: 16-17). This is my favorite reason of all why we may have more time until The End Times occur.

Conclusion: Pastor Jimmy Evans has written a book called Tipping Point: The End is Here. He also has a prophecy podcast and has studied the subject for over 40 years. He tells the story of a young man approaching him after a message asking for advice if he should invest in his 401(k) since Jesus might be returning soon. Jimmy’s response I feel is for all of us: Plan as though Jesus is not returning for 100 years and live as though Jesus is returning today. Plan your life. Go to school. Get married. Have children. Give generously. Spend wisely. Save responsibly. Plan for your retirement. God wants you to live your life for His honor and glory but also with a constant awareness that Jesus may return at any moment. (pg. 193)

Next post we’ll take the opposite perspective: Why We May Be Living In The End Times

Blessings,

Dave πŸ™‚

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

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