Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

10 Minutes with God: The Way of Salvation February 11, 2014

Filed under: Scripture Reflections — Stephanie Rische @ 8:08 am
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This week I wrap up my writing of the online devotions for my church. After being immersed in Psalm 119 for the past six weeks, I have a new appreciation for this longest chapter of the Bible and a deeper love for God’s Word.

 

Here’s a peek at today’s devotion:

 

airplane

 

Imagine you’re a pilot, taking your small plane out for a quick flight. When you took off earlier in the day, the sun was shining and conditions seemed ideal for flying. But now the wind is starting to pick up, and before you know it, a dense fog has rolled in. Visibility is low, and it’s becoming more difficult to see landmarks—particularly the horizon.

 

Then it happens: suddenly your body is saying you’re going one direction, while the instruments are telling another story.

 

You’re heard warnings about this before—spatial disorientation, they call it. Which voice will you believe? Your inner ear, which is convinced that you’re flying straight, or the plane’s instrument panel, which clearly says you’re banking left? What will you use as your standard to determine which way is up? Your choice could very likely mean the difference between life and death. . . .

 

To keep reading, click here. And to hear the audio version, read by me and recorded by the talented Daniel Rische, click here. May you, too, fall in love with God’s Word! 

 

10 Minutes with God, Part 2 January 28, 2014

Filed under: Scripture Reflections — Stephanie Rische @ 7:59 am
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I had the privilege of writing the devotions for my church’s series on Psalm 119 again last week. The theme for the week was “The Way of Understanding.”

 

Here’s a peek at the beginning of one of the devotions:

 

compass

 

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

—Psalm 119:130

 

As we look back over the course of human history, it’s striking how universal the quest is to find direction for our lives.

 

Horoscopes and the zodiac calendar have been around since the sixth century BC as methods of divination.

According to some estimates, Americans spend about $300 million a year on psychic hotlines.

Around one million Magic 8 balls are sold each year.

 

These attempts at seeking guidance range from pure nonsense to practices God has specifically commanded his people not to dabble in. But their very existence indicates two truths about human nature: (1) we want someone wiser than we are to show us the way and (2) we want the quick answer, the shortcut….

 

To read more, you can click here. You can listen to the audio version here.

 

 

10 Minutes with God January 10, 2014

Filed under: Psalms,Scripture Reflections — Stephanie Rische @ 8:00 am
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Over the past week, I’ve had the privilege of writing daily reflections about Psalm 119 for my church’s 10 Minutes with God initiative. You can read the devotions (or listen to an audio recording of me reading them) here.

 

psalm 119-1

 

Here are some things I’ve been learning along the way:

  • Did you know that Psalm 119 is the longest chapter of the Bible?
  • Did you know that Psalm 119 mentions God’s Word in some form in all but one of the 176 verses?
  • Um, really? That’s what my voice sounds like?
  • There are apparently a lot of words I know how to read in my head but don’t know how to pronounce out loud. My apologies to Noah Webster and my first grade phonics teacher for any butchering of the English language.

 

Here’s a sneak peek from one of this week’s devotions:

 

The Way of Truth

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
—Psalm 119:103

 

If you looked down the aisles at a grocery store, you’d likely find a smattering of products with the word delight in them: Kellogg’s Chocolatey Delight Crisps, International Delight Iced Coffee, Quaker True Delights Bars, Yoplait Parfait Delights, Hershey’s Air Delight Kisses, and the list goes on.

 

Likewise, if you leafed through the pages of a cookbook, you’d find countless recipes featuring the word as well (allrecipes.com turned up 917 results with the word delight in the title—everything from Chocolate Delight to Raspberry Delight to Turkish Delight).

 

It seems that in our culture, delight is something we tend to associate with food, with our taste buds, with sweetness.

 

And in a way, that’s precisely what the psalmist says about taking delight in God’s Word. In part of his long prayer to God in Psalm 119, he exclaims, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

 

Stay tuned—I’ll be writing the devotions to go along with this whole sermon series (for the next five weeks).

 

psalm 119-3

 

The Ultimate Book Burning August 28, 2012

Filed under: Jeremiah — Stephanie Rische @ 1:37 pm
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The images looked like scenes from an apocalyptic movie: the smoke looming dark and angry on the horizon, marching onward like an unstoppable army. Hungry flames devouring everything in their path, from the most modest of homes to the most palatial, form pricey furnishings to irreplaceable keepsakes.

As tragic as those images from the Colorado fires were earlier this summer, I found the recent Oklahoma fire even more devastating in a certain respect. It’s one thing for natural disaster to strike thorough the fault of no one in particular. But to see such a savage wake of destruction because someone intentionally threw a burning newspaper out of a car seems not only heartbreaking but utterly senseless.

When I read the story of King Jehoiakim of Judah in the book of Jeremiah, I had a similar reaction. The king received a special message from the Lord, intended just for him. The prophet Jeremiah had compiled all of God’s messages since the days of King Josiah and sent them directly to Jehoiakim, warning him to repent before God’s judgment came upon him and his country.

But instead of receiving this as a wakeup call and humbling himself before God, King Jehoiakim did something rather shocking. He had one of his officers read the scroll to him piece by piece, and each time he finished a section, the king took out his knife and burned up the very words of God.

Each time Jehudi finished reading three or four columns, the king took a knife and cut off that section of the scroll. He then threw it into the fire, section by section, until the whole scroll was burned up. Neither the king nor his attendants showed any signs of fear or repentance at what they heard.

—Jeremiah 36:23-24

He heard the truth, and he threw it in the fireplace.

When I talk to people who don’t know God and his Word, I ache for them, knowing what they’re missing out on. But it’s also understandable. After all, they don’t know anything different. But perhaps the more purposeless tragedy is when someone like me, who has direct access to God’s Word, cuts it apart, piece by piece, and sets it aflame.

Oh, I’d never burn the pages of my Bible, of course. But each time I decide that one little lie won’t hurt, I take a knife to what God says about truth. Whenever I deem his laws about gossip irrelevant for my particular situation, I might as well be tossing that part of Scripture into the fire. Every time I rationalize my worry, turn a blind eye to the poor, or act out of selfishness, I’m destroying God’s Word in my life, piece by piece.

Sometimes it seems inexplicable that any of us would choose God’s judgment instead of embracing grace. But as King Jehoiakim realized, grace, by its very nature, means that we have to change. We can’t stay where we are; we can’t stay who we are.

No matter how you look at it, Scripture must involve a knife and a fire. The question is, will I cut away and burn the parts I don’t like? Or will I allow the Word to cut away and burn the ugly parts of me?

 

I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.