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Monthly Archives


Thoughts on praise of humans

Monday, 18. March 2019 by Renee Ellison

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Some thoughts about the praise rendered to musicians, or actors, or to a preacher for a fine sermon, or to an athlete:

The human soul finds that it simply can’t handle adulation of ourselves. It is not a good restaurant to go to—not a good feast to sit before. All public performers have had moments where they realized even to think upon it dives bombs the heart into sixes and sevens, making their performances go all to ribbons. Praise or publicity given BEFORE an immediate event TO a performer can be especially difficult to figure out how to quickly deposit somewhere offshore. The emotions immediately tail-spin into thoughts of “Oh no, I’m my own hard act to follow.”

In short, praise can be an anguish. It can lead to a kind of runaway berserkness in the heart—and maybe even an addiction. I must have more…MORE. The only way to survive it comfortably is to do the act FOR God and give the praise TO God afterwards. Deny it residence in one’s own heart.

This brings our thoughts to the praise of God. Is it vain for God to want praise from His people? It turns out that it is in some strange way an actual gift to His people. If there is a “being” in the universe who is so designed to withstand praise, even to be enhanced by praise, then that Divine Being becomes a repository for all praise on the earth, to the relief of mankind. One man who turned atheist soon discovered that his biggest problem was that when he had moments of gladness, he now had nobody to whom he could be grateful. The praise of God settles our disquiet forever.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

The Homeschool Curriculum Summit 2.0

Monday, 11. March 2019 by Renee Ellison

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Is it possible to homeschool with confidence?

The biblical answer is, yes!

There is a promise found throughout Scripture for those who build on the foundation of God’s truth; in Psalm 1, we read that “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord…. In all that he does, he prospers.” And when families begin their home education journey by centering it on Christ and His Word, they can have the assurance that their investment will last into eternity.

The Homeschool Curriculum Summit 2.0, coming up soon on March 25-30, 2019, brings that truth right down to the basics of how to decide which curriculum to use. You’ll learn to evaluate curriculum options from a Christian worldview, identify the right fit for every subject, for every child, and therefore – homeschool with confidence built on the foundation of God’s truth.

All of the video sessions with top Christian homeschool speakers bring a Christ-centered focus to these topics: Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science, and Finding the Right Tools for You. Renee’s session, “Tips for Teaching Reading,and Choosing the Right Program for Your Child,” is scheduled for Day 4, Thursday, March 28th at 3:30 PM Central Standard Time, and will share her thoughts on how the educational agenda of America is stifling literacy, practical ideas for raising confident readers, and how reading affects every aspect of education…and life!

The whole event (including all the video sessions, morning devotionals, and a resource hall with exclusive freebies & discounts) is totally free if you sign up by March 25th. In addition to the video sessions, you’ll also get access to an online resource hall (with exclusive discounts and freebies), daily devotions to help you set your heart on the Lord, and a private Facebook group to connect with speakers and other attendees.

You’ll walk away from the Homeschool Curriculum Summit 2.0 equipped to choose your educational tools with wisdom and a biblical perspective so that you can have confidence in the Lord as you raise up the next generation of Christians.

You have nothing to lose. Learn more and register for free (for a limited time only)!

A settled faith

Tuesday, 11. December 2018 by Renee Ellison

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A man’s dog on a disorienting voyage at sea looks trustingly at his master as if to say, “This is a crazy world and I have stopped trying to understand it. But as long as you are here with me, it can’t be too bad. The time will come when this sea and waves business will be over and then I’ll smell some pleasing normal smells and see some trees, too.

Just don’t let me lose sight of you on deck. If you do, I shall go mad yelping with a growing anxiety and doubtless soon jump overboard and sink. The sight of you is my everything.”

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

The Mysterious Fires of God’s Glory

Saturday, 17. November 2018 by Renee Ellison

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Wildfires are just that—wild. They are born of rebellion and rage in rebellion. The fires of God’s glory are just the opposite. They are contained fire. They defy chemistry. They don’t rage, they sit! The fire of the burning bush had no interest in leaping anywhere. It was a fire of specificity—of definition.

The fires of Elijah’s horse and chariot framed the horse and chariot with luster brighter than gold—bent on arriving and departing with it—flying on its edges.

As described in the Book of Revelation, God himself is back-lit with fire. He uses the most brilliant physical agent he can muster to express himself. He grabs from the spectrum of light what he so chooses and then furls that light around himself in a contained but alive fire.

The tongues of fire that took up momentary positions on the apostles’ heads at Pentecost scorched nothing.

The mission of Hanukkah’s menorah fire was to just keep burning, without enlargement. Contained. Satisfied.

And then we have bolts of fire that God uses to zap his altars. For centuries men built altars to God, hoping that God would ignite them with the fire of his approval. Man built and then waited. Not only Elijah, but also Cain and Abel, Job, Noah, Manoah (Gideon’s father) and Abraham looked for the fire of God. They prepared wood for the fire, yes, but God was its spark. Fire, its benediction.

Then we have the glorious pillar of fire that marches as a well-heeled soldier through the camp for 40 years, never once causing any fear. The ever near lamp post of God. “He is a light unto my feet and a lamp unto my way.”

Contained fire. Most of his saints have never seen it but through the eyes of Scripture. The Almighty God, on the other hand, thinks nothing of habitually living in it, even on ordinary days. Throughout history he baptizes his greatest acts with an obedient fire. What unbridled joy he must have at those moments, when he wields a blaze of “glory-fire” for technological effect for the surprise of man. Once more we see that God speaks using everything, stops at nothing, to love and delight his mankind.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Achievement

Tuesday, 23. October 2018 by Renee Ellison

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You can never get much of anything done unless you go ahead and do it before you get ready to do it.

Our ship would come in much sooner if we’d just swim out to meet it.

Think what others ought to be like, then start being like that yourself.

Business is like a wheelbarrow—it stands still unless somebody pushes it.

The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention.

No farmer ever plowed a field by turning it over in his mind.

We make our future by the best use of the present.

You can’t make a hit with the bat on your shoulder.

Works, not words, are the proof of love.

There are still a few people who believe in gittin’ up and gittin, while a great many prefer sittin’ down and sittin.

After saying our prayers we ought to do something ourselves to make them come true.

The world has finally achieved perpetual commotion.

There are 4 steps to accomplishment: plan, prepare, proceed (action), persevere.

It is simply remarkable how the apostle Paul covered so much territory and accomplished so much without a car!

You cannot control the length of your life, but you can control its breadth, depth, and height.

You can’t get anywhere unless you start.

Do it now! Today will be yesterday tomorrow.

It doesn’t do any good to sit up and take notice if you keep sittting!

Doing beats stewing.

No thoroughly occupied man has ever been known to be miserable.

Knowing without doing is like plowing without sowing.

No one ever climbed a hill just by looking at it.

Happiness is a by-product of achievement.

Choice not chance determines one’s outcomes.

If you want a place in the sun, you will have to expect some blisters.

We are known by what we finish not merely by what we attempt.

Some fellows dream of worthy accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them.

You can’t make a place for yourself under the sun if you keep sittin’ in the shade of the family tree.

Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievements.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Too many cooks? Tips for sharing the kitchen

Sunday, 07. October 2018 by Renee Ellison

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For most homeschoolers, training our children in domestic duties is one of the skills we want to pass along to the next generation. Sparks may fly, however, when Mom and someone else are working the kitchen at the same time. Often, the clash is simply due to a difference in personalities and the fact that there is more than one way to do things. If that is your situation, you may want to try these strategies for solving the problem:

Separate your times in the kitchen. Plan it so the two of you are in the kitchen at opposite times during a day. Totally assign to one or the other the complete holiday preparation for a special holiday. This lets one of you be the Queen of your domain for a day or for a special meal, without having to go through the other one’s psyche’s to do each step. Either you totally take control and do things yourself, or your mature daughter (or son) takes over and tackles it all; you alternate back and forth. You are available in the background, in some other place, to give advice or assistance if requested. Then, rave about the other person’s accomplishments and render great respect and gratefulness for the work she or he did. You can thoroughly enjoy the meals someone else cooked—and let each other know that via lavish praise. Sometimes, especially when one person’s mind is totally occupied with other things, she may ask you to cook and she does the dishes—splitting the workload in half, but the two of you are still not in the kitchen at the same time. This can lighten your load and brighten the atmosphere of your home if the kitchen is a scene of daily conflict. For some families and multiple daughters kitchen work is not a source of contention.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Marriage is a skill

Thursday, 20. September 2018 by Renee Ellison

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Marriage is a skill that we learn by doing. A good marriage is an achievement, not an entitlement. Getting married is not like falling into a kind of Disneyland or waltzing into a permanently glittering ballroom, like our culture relentlessly and erringly touts. We must learn to square ourselves with the fact that all too often our culture is obsessed with shallow trappings rather than real essences, and its pathways invariably end in disillusionment and depression.

It often takes ten years for a marriage to wake up from this delusion and settle into what a marriage really is: staying lovingly and profoundly connected with one person for an adult lifetime. God designed this relationship to be long and to require something big of us, in order for us to even begin to understand what godly love really is all about.

Faithfully staying in the game, doing the “daily round” of family duties and responsibilities, shapes and molds us far more than we can imagine. Duty is both our challenge and our learned victory. It builds within us the maturity of self-denial. And it progressively teaches us the skill of being able to marshal our wandering disparate selves into towers of intention and accomplishment.

Devotedly loving ONE, teaches us about love for ALL. And oddly, the path to such knowledge requires a continual and determined focus of forsaking all others—trading toying and flirting with what is not ours for engendering new love for the same person day after day. Fidelity becomes our hallowed path and joy. Why? because our Lord did it first towards us, showing us how to love unswervingly even unto death…til death do us part. He perhaps designed marriage so that we, too, as mere mortals, should “have a go at it”—to see what such love “takes.”

Make no mistake, God wants every marriage that He authors to “make it”—and thus He adds a good amount of appropriate and helpful glue via sexual enjoyment, shared mutual achievements and aspirations, and joint offspring from the combined DNA.

God’s glue quietly and unconsciously grows the marriage into a nice sure familiarity, too—a familiarity that breeds comfort and security. C. S. Lewis said this phenomenon can even exist with something as ordinary as getting used to the neighbor’s cat always on your property; finally the cat works his way into your emotions, against your better judgment, and you find yourself anticipating the rub against your legs as you sip tea and read on the front porch…and eventually you might even get up and feed that cat!

Applying supernatural glue is God’s part—but our part is just as vital. You build a marriage. You don’t just inherit one. And much of what the marriage becomes depends upon you. What kind of marriage would you like? Build it.

Yes, making a good marriage is a skill, just like learning to play a musical instrument. It comes with a steep learning curve. At first, everything about it is new, sometimes hard to navigate, perplexing, awkward, even unthinkable, perhaps. Playing an instrument requires lots of practice initially and a determination to stick with it, until it eventually yields a lovely sound more easily. You can either casually fiddle with your marriage (furtively wishing you could change instruments—continually rolling the idea around like hard candy in your mind) or choose to master THIS one.

Here is another helpful picture. A good marriage can be viewed as a grand junction of two roaring rivers. The two very different lives at first make a huge clashing spray (first of infatuation and excitement, but not long afterwards, perhaps in irritation and incompatibility) at the junction where the two join, but downstream become calm and steady, gentle and beautiful. So surviving the clash becomes IMPORTANT!

A good marriage can also be pictured as a fine Swiss watch, well oiled, which ticks on and on with a steady dependability. Marriage is an adventure in adjustment, ever fine-tuning our lives in light of the other one. This unknowingly gets done so well (‘tis one of God’s ordinary miracles) that eventually, in our older marriages and in our older years, even a grain of sand in the works can be noticed (hey, it’s a SWISS watch)—something a clunky, less destined clock wouldn’t even alter its clang for.

By staying in the game, we begin to see how vast another human being actually is, and that love in the last analysis has no measure. It will have to grow deep and wide to encompass the complexity of any human being. Marriage dethrones the deep-seated love and satisfaction of self and powerfully and deftly enlarges one’s own soul.

Loving endurance (i.e. commitment) is vital to marriage. That is both its context and its oxygen. It is only through love’s LONGEVITY that we finally grow to know a wee bit what it is all about. We have eternity to learn the rest of the way love works. For now, though, let’s pass THIS test. Saddle in; buckle down. None of this “eyes darting in every corner looking for a way of escape.” God’s designs are extraordinary. Trust Him. Embrace them. Do what YOU can do today with what you have.

~~~~~

To read more by Renee Ellison on this topic, order Wise Womanly Ways to Grow Your Marriage. Available as a bound volume, as a downloadable ebook, and in Kindle format.

Filed Under: Home management tips

There’s a place for us

Sunday, 19. August 2018 by Renee Ellison

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Just as Pascal coined the phrase that “Every man has a God-shaped vacuum inside of him that is restless until it finds its rest in Him,” so, too, George MacDonald had a parallel thought that “God Himself has little human-shaped pockets in His heart designed for each and every true believer…that never gets filled with anything but us, individually.” Our heavenly Father designed us to be utterly unique and valuable to Him. No one can replace any one of us in His affections—residing in His bosom forever.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Family relationship perplexities

Sunday, 12. August 2018 by Renee Ellison

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We could get some kind of idea of how complex relationships are (by God’s design, by the way) if God were to ask us questions such as (per C. S. Lewis): “How many hours are in a mile?” and “Is yellow square or round?”

Relationships are incomprehensible, yet they exist all around us in all 360 degrees. Close family relationships, especially, are what they are!

God scores a great victory when we finally move beyond mere necessary entanglement and a wing-it responsiveness to actually scratching our heads in wonder about them: “What ARE they?”, in the first place, and “Why are they in our life?” in the second place, and “Why are each of these people so utterly different from ME?”

What God is doing in and through all relational dynamics is big business with Him. He uses them in our lives for something now and for something even that is yet to be. In reference to them, He has called us to walk softly, marvel more, stay alert, and pray compassionately.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Disgruntled with each other?

Thursday, 09. August 2018 by Renee Ellison

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Oh, we get so frustrated and irritated with each other. Our spouse just doesn’t “do right.” Our children don’t “do right.” Our relatives don’t “do right.” The Bible (Galatians 5:15) warns us, though, to “Take heed (`watch out!’), lest you eat and devour one another.” Our agitated thoughts can lead to a kind of “dinner” we hadn’t counted on. A wise old saint once said, “There is enough about each one of us to make us out to be either a demon or a god.”

The Bible also says (2 Corinthians 5:16), “Know no man after the flesh.” In other words, we are urged to cultivate the habit of not viewing each other’s earthly dross but each other’s heavenly dress.

At funerals, that optimal/optimizing focusing seems to happen quickly and spontaneously. We are able to see the priceless departed one in his or her redeemed state already. We find ourselves wanting to recall and pick out only the good things to speak about at that time, now celebrating the life that we know God designed and purposed for that loved one for all eternity, which was in embryo here while on earth, steadily developing.

If we were to stand on a street corner and suddenly, supernaturally, see one another as we shall be in eternity (a kind of street transfiguration!)—as if the veil had been instantly torn away from us—and see what God is making of each of us, even now, no doubt it could make us apt to worship one other! When that actual hour does come, we won’t; instead, we will worship Him for what He has made of us. If, however, we could see it in each other now, surely it would “take our breath.” Sons of God!

Filed Under: Spiritual tips