Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

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.

 

 

Why I’m Trying to Embrace the Cattle Prod June 22, 2012

Filed under: Ecclesiastes — Stephanie Rische @ 12:14 pm
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My friend Cheryl has three hobbies she’s passionate about: playing with her cat, Frisky; listening to music by Bebo Norman; and going to the doctor.

Cheryl was born with an extra 21st chromosome, commonly known as Down syndrome. She is also one of the most social, personable individuals I know. To know her is to be her friend. The moment you walk in the room, her whole face lights up in a huge grin. Not content to just sit next to you, she’ll likely take your hand and, with that wide smile of hers, say, “I like you.”

So I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she enjoys visits to the doctor. After all, everyone in the office knows her name, gives her attention, and ultimately has her best interests at heart. Although some parts of the visit may be painful, she knows that all this is necessary so she’ll feel better in the long run.

I was thinking about Cheryl when I came across these words in the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon’s final collection of writings:

The words of the wise are like cattle prods—painful but helpful. Their collected sayings are like a nail-studded stick with which a shepherd drives the sheep.

—Ecclesiastes 12:11

Words of wisdom, as the wise Solomon knew, can be as painful as a cattle prod. Having someone speak truth into our lives can be as piercing, as uncomfortable, as being corralled by a shepherd, given a shot by a doctor.

Unlike Cheryl, I don’t like doctor visits. More often than not, I’d prefer to remain in blissful ignorance. If there’s no diagnosis, then there won’t be any uncomfortable prodding. And perhaps most of all, there’s no need for change.

I’m afraid I’m often the same way when it comes to words of truth and accountability too. I prefer to stay in my place of comfortable oblivion rather than subject myself to the cattle prod of wisdom.

Not long ago Cheryl had surgery to alleviate some chronic back pain she’d been dealing with. While she was recovering, a relative told her, “Now, Cheryl, you need to make sure you take care of yourself so you don’t have to have another surgery.”

A look of sheer disappointment fell over Cheryl’s face. She went into the corner by herself for a few minutes, arms folded as she pondered. Finally she returned to the living room, where her family was gathered.

“I thought about it,” she said, “and I decided I can get another surgery if I want to.”

Oh, Cheryl, if only I were more like you—more open to the cattle prod. I have a feeling I’d be healthier…and a whole lot wiser too.

 

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.

 

Dad’s Treasure Box June 15, 2012

Filed under: Family — Stephanie Rische @ 8:17 am
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My siblings and I joke that there’s only one thing we want to make sure Dad leaves to us in his will: his treasure box. Now treasure is a bit of a relative term here, as there’s nothing of monetary value in it. From the rare, coveted glimpses I’ve gotten inside the ratty cardboard box, I’ve gathered that it contains things like special rocks Dad collected as a boy, pennies flattened on railroad tracks, a few of his favorite comic books, and typewritten pages of short stories he wrote for his college class.

 

As I read the book of Proverbs, I keep thinking of all Solomon had to pass down to his children. It was quite a legacy, really: unprecedented wealth, a world-renown reputation, and an entire kingdom to leave behind as an inheritance (2 Chronicles 9). Yet throughout Proverbs, it’s obvious he was concerned about leaving only one legacy behind for future generations: a legacy of wisdom.

 

My child, listen when your father corrects you.
Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
What you learn from them will crown you with grace
and be a chain of honor around your neck.
—Proverbs 1:9-10

 

Fortunately for me, both my dad and my mom have the wisdom of Solomon. They, too, have left me a legacy of wise instructions—proverbs of their own that still echo in my head after all these years:

 

Follow through.
Be smart.
Put yourself in their shoes.
Practice, practice, practice.
Write your thank-you notes.
People are more important than things.
Don’t get a big head.
Sleep on it.
Pray about it.
Check your tires.

 

Thank you, Dad and Mom, for those pearls of wisdom. They are indeed a “crown of grace” for my brother and sister and me—better than any legacy of wealth, fame, or inheritance you could leave behind for us.

 

But Dad, can I have your treasure box anyway?

 

Question: What is one pearl of wisdom your parents passed on to you?

 

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.