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Thoughts on committed love vs. sentimentality on Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, 14. February 2018 by Renee Ellison

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I think it is most interesting on this Valentine’s Day to observe our culture’s mania over engaging in sentimentality and materialism, all too often with a series of transient lovers (beginning in Jr. High, continued at the office, and ending in Senior retirement communities of multiple divorcees and re-marriages playing crib together) in preference to gripping the real foundations of a lifetime singular love.

Such a solitary love is built upon an increasing fidelity, loyalty, having each other’s back through thick and thin, focus, selflessness, self-sacrifice, adjustment to another human being in all of its delicacies, promoting the other human being in others’ eyes, believing in them, working side by side in various life projects, etc. One Chinese man built for his wife a stairway up their mountain of 500 stairs, made of rock, presented them to her with pride, and walked up and down them with her over the remainder of their crippled old lives together. She was his entire horizon.

As a culture, on the other hand, we would far rather throw money and tinsel at the situation with a temporary love than do the work of love’s longevity and depth of “knowing.” The old hymn expresses real love so well in its words: “He shall hold me fast.” That is the lead pipe of human love as well:“I shall hold thee fast.”

Filed Under: Home management tips

Let us ever take the high ground

Tuesday, 13. February 2018 by Renee Ellison

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Some evangelicals teach that the commands of God are so high that it is impossible to keep them; therefore we must settle only for a sentimental feeling of love toward our Master and live each day as we feel (for many, that winds up meaning….helplessly succumb to the relentless pressures of increased subtle and overt worldliness).

Upon a close examination of actual scripture we find accounts of the exact opposite. Amazingly, several individuals are, in fact, pointed out as righteous—while living amidst very pagan worlds. In each case they were marked by belief in God AND they walked in a progressive obedience. These individuals didn’t have periodic bum chapters (couldn’t help it… waywardness), in their walk with God.

“He who loves me keeps my commands” (John 14:15, 21). “He it is who loves me” (i.e. obedience, apparently, is the identifying feature of the strong believer).

Noah: “I have found you righteous in this generation” (Genesis 7:1). It was apparently evident that Noah had obeyed God in the past and, now, as soon as it was commanded, he would get right to work on the ark.

Job: “Job was blameless and upright” (Job 1:1). He feared God, and he shunned evil. He wasn’t foolin’ around with a little bit of waywardness on the Internet.

Enoch walked with God, and was not! (Genesis 5:24). He apparently had totally overcome the fear of men.

Elizabeth and Zachariah: “Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s command and decrees blamelessly” (Luke 1:6). (Elizabeth’s tank tops weren’t cut lower and lower.)

Mary: “You who are highly favored… You have found favor with God” (Luke 1:28, 30). (Mary hadn’t shacked up with three or four guys already, insisting upon “instantness” before succumbing to the “bondage” of commitment.) “May your word to me be fulfilled !”

Daniel: “Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel” (Daniel 1:9). (Daniel hadn’t dabbled in Buddhism, just a little bit, during his college years. It is as if the Lord was saying to him, “You HAVE walked in obedience and I feel quite sure that you WILL walk in obedience.)

God implores us to “Be ye holy as I am holy” as if it were possible! It IS possible not to steal today.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Anything but God

Sunday, 04. February 2018 by Renee Ellison

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The atheist’s dilemma:

The atheist, having dispensed with God, now has to take on the burden of re-writing all origins, not only the social agendas he so chooses (as in “I prefer multiple women and I much prefer raising my children only part-time”).

But why stop there? Doesn’t he have to re-write the laws of physics and chemistry, to say nothing of explaining his own existence, too? He now must somehow explain his lack of power to engineer the details of which womb his body will proceed from, and in which century.

Another problem with choosing to be your own god [note the little “g”] is that it puts you in the company of everyone else who has chosen likewise. Thus, you are into battle with not just other people, but other people who, just like you, have chosen to be god—but on different terms than yours. So, if you want to be god, have at it.


New agers’ dilemmas:

Eastern gods are gods only of philosophical thought or of mystical conjecture. The devotees of such have to pit THEIR god of metaphysics against the credentials of THE God of historical fact.

THEIR god never:

· rose from the dead (witnessed by 500 over 40 days)

· performed miracles (witnessed by thousands; not a private apparition)

· ascended into heaven (witnessed by a group of disciples; again, not a private apparition)

· was foretold by scores of scriptures that predated his birth

· showed consummate immediate recuperative power over a man’s soul, to transpose him from skid row into a drug-free church go-er in an hour.


As they sit in the lotus position, they also must answer the questions of…

· how meditation helps one cope with a burglar in one’s home, or how to stop an ex-con from raping your daughter

· how much meditation would they need to do to secure Nirvana

· have to wrestle with the impossibility of assertions like “if you can believe it, you can become it.” Really? A foot-dwarf can become a pole-vaulter?

· via reincarnation, just what would an ant have to do to be worthy enough to come back as a cow?

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

The two ingredients of loving well

Saturday, 20. January 2018 by Renee Ellison

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Loving other adults and peers really well requires two sensitive awarenesses. One is everyone’s gaping need for unconditional affirmation. Therefore, let us give that affirmation as our pre-set immovable posture toward all of God’s humans. The other is everyone’s need for adult autonomy: let us give space to others to define themselves.

Each person is an entire continent, too vast to know fully, even by themselves of themselves, let alone by someone else. In light of this, we must begin relating to everyone with a kind of awe. If we don’t accept others, each as a unique continent, they just go underground; they sink, like Atlantis, out of our view. Each person will be who they will be; the sooner we can square ourselves with that, the more relationally successful we will become.

Give a person space and they will seek to be near us. Attempt to carve on them for our own ends, or control them or rearrange their head, and they will quietly slip out of view. What we seek to possess, relationally, we will lose. What we relationally keep in an open hand, we will gain.

We need to revere and respect each composite person, as is. Believe the best about them. Realize that they became whatever they are today via all of their specific and long background before they ever met you. Most of us are quite helpless to change, even if we want to. Let us then walk softly around others. As the old adage says, until we have walked a mile in another person’s moccasins we do well to refrain from criticizing. We may speak best with a zipped lip and a large loving heart.

Two tips for successfully managing groups of children

Thursday, 11. January 2018 by Renee Ellison

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At social gatherings and even at church after the service is over we often forget that children need adult supervision at all times. Without close management, unsupervised children, running in herds, tend to descend toward deviant behavior, property gets damaged, and/or someone gets hurt.

There are two wise avenues of establishing a wholesome triumphant group life for children at a moment’s notice. They are found in the teaching concepts of “gathering” and “pre-positioning.” Let’s look at each.

Gathering all the children involved in an event to sit quietly at an adult’s feet will coalesce a group in good directions. The instructions given at the time of gathering provides children with clarity and security. Children need to know, at all times, that some adult is at the helm and that an authority figure can be found swiftly should he or she be needed.

Pre-positioning further provides specific guidance for boundaries. Standards are set in this way that help define the event and set the tone of the atmosphere.

The gathering and pre-positioning are where you set (and communicate to the children) the boundaries. When in groups, children need three kinds of boundaries—spatial, activity, and behavioral—for them to function at their best. Following are examples of boundaries of all three types.

One (spatial): “You may play in this area, but do not go out beyond X, Y or Z.”

Two (activity): “You may use this equipment, these objects, these games. You must put them back where they belong before going on to the next activity.”

Three (behavioral): “You must conduct yourself with kindness, looking for ways to serve or help others. Think of others more than yourself whenever you are in a group.”

These two simple management strategies of gathering and pre-positioning children are both wonderfully proactive, and are based on the fact that “an ounce of
pre-planning and prevention is better than a pound of chaotic cure.”

Let us value our children and their social events by remaining attentive to their needs. Let us determine to provide protection and security for them at all times.
There is no time when children are unimportant. Each social arena is a place to continue to tend, to train, and to treasure our offspring. Parenthood is all about vigilance. Do it carefully and prayerfully for just a few short years, a sprint across time, and you’ll reap the rewards again and again in years to come.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Thanksgiving or despair?

Thursday, 23. November 2017 by Renee Ellison

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Because of personal tragedies, large or small, some of us might find ourselves “Thanksgiving” during this holiday with a kind of emptiness. Loneliness, broken hearts, dashed expectations, failed marriages, ill health, grinding poverty, career upsets, accidents and deaths of loved ones, obstacles and disappointments over our own goals, investment reversals—all and any of these constitute possible sources of deep personal anguish, pushing thoughts of any sort of “thanksgiving” far away (at least in our hearts, even if we attend a dinner dedicated to that purpose).

In sadness, on a day like today we might find ourselves casting around furtively for something to be thankful for, but feel like we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. We might conclude that we could muster thankfulness for two good legs and blue sky. But what if even those things, too, were taken away from us? We break a leg or we are robbed of blue sky by prolonged inclement weather. We see readily that if we are to be thankful it will have to be rooted in something other than our circumstances.

The challenge of whether to be thankful or not is really a question put to us not for a day but for a lifetime. The issue of thankfulness doesn’t stop in 24 hours. We will face it ongoingly in old age when we find ourselves living on a shrinking island of diminishing personal faculties and capabilities. Will we choose to be grateful then?

Ultimately we must realize that thanksgiving or bitterness are relational terms. We do not sit as repositories of these conditions. These are thoughts with a destination. They are aimed somewhere, initially perhaps at people, but finally at God Himself.

Whether we know it or not, at the core of this issue sits another issue. To solve how we will position our soul, not just for today but for a lifetime, whether in gratefulness or despair, we must address the issue of personal suffering.

Real thanksgiving, the kind that gives unfathomable repose to the soul, day in and day out, is only possible if we believe in a God who created us and that He created us for a purpose. But how do we get-to/arrive confidently at that thought?

Let’s stop and fathom our anatomy for a minute. The very creation of our anatomy belies a purpose not just for our internal organs but for our entire existence. There sits the organ, and then there is what the organ does. So there we, too, sit—but over time it slowly dawns on us that we were designed for a great purpose, far outside of ourselves. And it is not just a purpose of function, but of being. We were designed for a relational purpose. We discover through the Bible that we were created for the praise of His glory…“to love God and enjoy him forever,” says the old Westminster Catechism.

Why? Because He first loved us.

The problem is that we don’t now see the whole story. It is hidden from us for a season, and for some exalted reason. Can we not imagine that if God took such great pains to design us in such detail, He has also calculated how suffering in the tender matters of the heart would ultimately benefit us?

Imagine ourselves shipwrecked—that we’ve come from somewhere and are going somewhere, but for now we finger lost treasures in the sand. Perhaps we have “fallen” from something?

The very existence of some good in the world—a kind gesture from a stranger, a beautiful sunset—gives rumor to the full-orbed story that we shall yet see in another realm, at another time. Now, then, is the season of trust. We must believe that God suffers with us, loves us deeply, and is in some mysterious way inculcating our sufferings into eternal benefit for us.

His purposes for us are greater than we can now imagine. This, then, is what we can be thankful for, through all conditions. The habitation of Thanksgiving can be our home; we can confidently park at that address, not only for today but for a lifetime.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Divorced against your will?  Having trouble with the last vestiges of forgiveness?

Saturday, 21. October 2017 by Renee Ellison

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After such trauma, it is good to eventually get to the point of acknowledging that “what is, IS.” Mustering the will to move on, both spiritually and practically, however fumblingly, is the road back to composure, and a gift to your children who are bearing their own grief without bearing yours as well.

So, how do we cross that final Rubicon of trying to forgive when we don’t feel it is justified? First, we acknowledge that what someone did to us and/or to someone we love, was destructive. The damage is irreversible (right up there with the fall of man); that’s a given. Fortunately, God has said that He will carry this burden for us. The Day of the Lord is coming AND with it, also the day of His vengeance (Jeremiah 46:10). The two will come together.

The scriptures tell us that “the way of the transgressor is hard”—and that is true both HERE and eventually. It is hard here because the transgressor will now suffer increased relational complications. And the offender will now have to cope with guilt—with God walking the secret staircase of their soul, penetrating their spirit, a spirit that may well haunt them during sleepless portions of their nights for the rest of their life, unless they turn and truly repent.

The Puritan saint Matthew Henry said, after he had been robbed, “I can be grateful that it was I who was robbed rather than I who robbed!” Now, THAT’s perspective!

In overcoming forgiveness obstacles, squaring oneself with the immaturity of the offending/ irresponsible spouse is immeasurably helpful. If the renegade spouse were handicapped in a wheelchair you’d see him/her crimped PHYSICAL condition. So now, picture him/her in that same condition mentally. He (or she) has been and IS equally handicapped in his/her spiritual state. He/she HAD to be, to have made such poor choices. Someday his/her remorse will be inconsolable (outside of Yeshua), when HE exposes him/her to himself/herself.

It is important to realize that there are different levels of spirituality in different people, and this has been true (a constant) through the centuries. There are such spiritual giants as the Apostle Paul, and the brothers John and Charles Wesley, and Matthew Henry, and Andrew Murray and George Mueller, and then on the other end of the continuum there are ordinary multitudes who live life for self-advantage and expediency and haven’t a thought cast in godly directions. What is, IS. People fall all along that spiritual maturity continuum.

So, squaring oneself with those who are spiritually lesser developed helps release our own angst. We can forgive them “for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We can observe them, call a spade a spade in our own mind, and then realize that they did what they did because that is where they were in the line-up. It was no surprise to God. He Himself constantly lives in “what is, IS”, and adjusts His personal counselings and actions accordingly.

Much of life is a “respond-a-thon”—bringing His nature into the situation, whatever that requires. In the end, personally, the story is about US—what depths of further spirituality can we achieve, given what we’re given. God Himself has done such gymnastics within Himself. He is our forerunner and our enabler through all such vicissitudes and cross-patches. Go forward with your forgiveness and you’ll find yourself freed up.

~~For more on this topic, including working through the process of forgiveness, see “How to Relate with Love to a Controlling Person.”

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Parenting agonies may be more important than we know

Friday, 21. July 2017 by Renee Ellison

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When pondering Christ’s statement on the cross—”Father, why have You abandoned me?”—apparently God had not told Christ ahead of time that such a moment would be INCLUDED in His Son’s cosmic comprehensive work of redemption. Perhaps, at least from our limited human perspective, it may have frightened Christ to experience it, having never been separated from His Father from eternity past—not for one moment.

Note that Christ didn’t say, “I HURT; I am in physical agony.” Apparently this moment of emotional abandonment was so searing it trumped His physical pain, which was considerable. Yet his next sentence was: “Into THY hands I commend My spirit.” This was like Job, who declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” The Lord didn’t go in search of a different god, a different answer. Thus He further proved, in His final moment there, His own unwavering faith—a final perfection of the expression of His infinitely holy character. ‘Tis an amazing juxtaposition of two sentences. ‘Tis an amazing appendage to an already huge work.

We can deduce from this that our personal emotional agonies are of great importance to God. Parental churnings are no exception. When we suffer the outer edges of parental agony in prayer over attempting to establish the kingdom of God in our children, we do, in microcosm, what God Himself does. “God, do you even hear my prayers?” may be THE very treasure that He is garnering from our adult lives. Note that we ask such a question at the foot of HIS throne, not somewhere else.

Parent, your agonies are heavenly luggage—heavy for now, but, do not be surprised if they are resplendent upon your arrival.

Free book of Teaching Tips!

Wednesday, 21. June 2017 by Renee Ellison

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If you, as an adult, were being taught something brand new to you (think Latin or calculus), would you want a skilled tutor or a clueless upstart to be teaching you? No doubt the clueless upstart would routinely waste your time, complicating and confusing something that could be made simple by a far more able teacher.

The hallmark of an outstanding tutor is his or her ability to deliver academic clarity in all cases.

Learning is often needlessly difficult, not because of a student’s supposed limited capacity but because of the teacher’s/tutor’s incompetency. Gaining a few well-targeted teaching/ tutoring principles, strategic organizations and eye-opening tips can bring blue sky to an otherwise muddled pedagogy.

Skillful tutoring can now be yours! It is delivered to you in large pictures and the simplest of print. Get your copy of Razor Sharp Teaching Tips and you’ll soon be teaching with skill you never dreamed you could have.

By reading this “get-it-right-the first-time” road map to home school excellence, you’ll have those razor-sharp effective tools at your fingertips in no time. You’ll know what you are doing—and why you are doing it—from the get-go.

This book collects Renee Ellison’s exceptional educational strategies, which she has taught for decades at homeschool conventions, into an easily understood parental primer. These are mature, seasoned principles, procedures and practices, honed in the trenches of actually being there in schools, with hundreds of children, as well as gathered from her work with scores of families throughout the homeschooling process.

This “big-picture-overview” quick training will eliminate parental brain fog for you, netting you remarkable results. Grab this easy book and you’ll find it the friend you’ve been looking for: a take-home TEACHER of your very own, to TEACH you how to TEACH.

On Sale Now:
retails for $9.95—but now 1/2 off for a limited launch-time only. Only $4.95.

OR, spend at least $20 at homeschoolhowtos.com and receive this book free. While supplies last. (Don’t worry: the charge will show when you include the Razor Tips book in your cart and place your order, but we remove the charge when fulfilling your order.)

Children’s Bible book list

Monday, 12. June 2017 by Renee Ellison

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Enticing your children to love the Bible is done by giving them irresistible first impressions. The following is a list of splendid renderings of the scriptural narrative to do just that. Each of the books listed was selected for its beautiful artwork as well as for its narrative.

When picking Bibles for children it is important to avoid artwork that is too scary or artwork that gives the impression that the Bible is fantasy. You would be safe with any of the following choices. You are likely to be able to find these at used prices online (Abebooks.com or Amazon.com or others).

  • The Children’s Discovery Bible: Discovering God’s Word for the First Time, by Charlene Heibert and Drew Rose (Chariot Victor Publishing, 1996). This book is two-thirds pictures, one-third text. Use this if you have very limited time to get the Bible into someone ELSE’s child—a child in the neighborhood or a relative’s child who is visiting your for a week or two in the summer, etc. The shorter time you have with a child, the shorter the Bible must be.

  • The Bible-Time Nursery Rhyme Book, by Emily Hunter (1998). To replace pagan nursery rhymes that teach nothing of value.

  • My Bible Friends, by Etta Degering, 5 volumes (1977). Gorgeous pictures.

  • The Bible Story, by Arthur S. Maxwell, 10 volumes (Pacific Press, 1953).

  • Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories, by Arthur S. Maxwell, 5 volumes (1929-1976). True stories by a master story teller, teaching noble character.

  • The New Panorama Bible Study Course, by Alfred Thompson Eade, 4 volumes (OakKnollPublishing.com—phone 1-541-846-6534). A pictorial overview.

  • The Child’s Story Bible, by Catherine F. Vos. Used in schools from 1935 on.

  • My Very First Golden Bible, by Dana Forrest Kennedy (1991). Large print. Simple, first good independent reader of the Bible.

  • The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible, by Janice Emmerson (Harvest House Publishers, 2014, ISBN 10: 0736962131 ISBN 13: 9780736962131). Two-page full spread pictures with a story narrative of the Bible, all contained in one volume.

  • The Picture Bible by Iva Hoth (Chariot Books, 1978-1998). Great for 6th graders on up; it uses cartoons of realistic-looking people.

  • The Catechism for Young Children with Cartoons, by Vic Lockman, Books I and II (1994).
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