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Spiritual tips

Renee Ellison's spiritual thoughts for the day.

A settled faith

Tuesday, 11. December 2018 by Renee Ellison


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.”

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The Mysterious Fires of God’s Glory

Saturday, 17. November 2018 by Renee Ellison


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.

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There’s a place for us

Sunday, 19. August 2018 by Renee Ellison


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.

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Family relationship perplexities

Sunday, 12. August 2018 by Renee Ellison


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.

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Disgruntled with each other?

Thursday, 09. August 2018 by Renee Ellison


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!

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Words at the marriage altar: Are they sentimental promises or lifelong vows?

Wednesday, 01. August 2018 by Renee Ellison


A typical married couple who attends a wedding these days may gulp a little bit when they hear the modern made-up sentiments and promises gush across the lips of young couples…most of whom have already shacked up together for a year or two beforehand, just in case. (One might ask, “In case of what?”) And how is the Hollywood-style sentimental love that they express so dramatically going to be different, after the wedding?

Sentiments and promises can be added to the long standing well worded traditional vow of “to have and to hold, from this day forth, forsaking all others, in sickness and in health, in poverty and wealth, til death do us part,” but to replace the time honored well-honed wording of that vow could have some real problems. Even when couples nowadays do say this time-honored matchless traditional vow, what they actually mean, subconsciously, is, “forsaking not ALL others, I’m with you in health, and in wealth, and until it doesn’t feel so good anymore.”

Let’s think more deeply about what it is that we are actually doing here, at the marriage altar. Might the words below prove to be a better foundation to the time honored vow—at least to embrace these loyal thoughts in our hearts?

Underpinnings of a godly vow:

“I hereby commit before God and before these witnesses to plunge into this commitment to the vast unknown. I commit to circumstances and deep relational dynamics in all sorts of directions, whatever they become, of which I cannot now know or possibly imagine. Furthermore, I commit to this heretofore unknown life, for the rest of my life, with a person I barely know, and who is largely unknowable even over a lifetime, to himself/herself, let alone to me. Therein I commit myself to a specific small destiny, a specific “lot” in life, that I will not jettison, preferring another.

I will wholeheartedly accept this “lot” as God’s perfect design for my sanctification in both this life and the next. I am committing to one person, forsaking all others out of several billion possible choices, trusting God that this person was divinely brought specifically across my path at this juncture in 6,000 years of history, in this particular geographic setting, by God’s own hand, or else I would have been born in some other age and would have intersected with a different lifetime mate.

I acknowledge that to love God’s “lot” for me is to love His will for me, His version of my best self, and to submissively trust His destiny, perfected on my behalf for all time, IN the marriage, THROUGH the marriage, and BY the marriage. Only because I know YOU, God, do I have the courage to so utterly abandon myself to this commitment—for in it I commit myself afresh to You.”

Perhaps such a heartfelt commitment would send the divorce rate sprawling.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

New book: Impossible Evolution

Friday, 20. July 2018 by Renee Ellison


Renee’s artful skill for “making-complex-issues-simple” emerges yet again in her newest book, Impossible Evolution. Because it is loaded with visual graphics, the reader is able to catch each asserted impossibility immediately. Thus, it can be taught quickly to a child. Other sections of the book grip the attention of the adult, too, as the issues are looked at deeper as the book progresses.

This simple book clarifies both sides of the Intelligent Design / Evolution debate solidly and for good. In Part One each issue is pictured, with short, clarifying easy text. Part Two has three short meaty essays developed on these topics:

One: the Impossibility of Theistic Evolution (a compromise between the two main theories, that doesn’t work—it breaks down under the force of logic),

Two: a detailed look at some scriptures and their astounding implications related to the issue, and

Three: a commentary upon the inevitability of Intelligent Design’s infinitely superior position in the debate.

The closing section of the book is loaded with questions to artfully ask others who, in their thinking about this topic, still live in the darkness of evolution. Like all Socratic questioning techniques, it leads the pondering person, himself, to the inevitability of the right answer.

Grab this exciting summary of the most insistent lie of our day and share it with everyone you know. The fog will lift and you’ll walk under clear blue sky in your thinking about this, from here on in.

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Let us ever take the high ground

Tuesday, 13. February 2018 by Renee Ellison


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


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?

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Thanksgiving or despair?

Thursday, 23. November 2017 by Renee Ellison


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