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Spiritual tips

Renee Ellison's spiritual thoughts for the day.

Re-write your past points of personal pain

Wednesday, 10. February 2016 by Renee Ellison

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All of us have things that happen to us that were not pleasant memories, perhaps from grade school or Jr. High, or maybe even from our parents (oops, now we are parents—careful—ouch—we all get our day on stage—what is our children’s point of view re: our parenting?) or from clueless peers or thoughtless neighbors or pre-occupied relatives or stubborn cashiers, or overbearing, egocentric bosses, etc.  No one is immune from emotional pain; no one is privy to perfect relationships 24/7 for 90 + years!!!

So what do we do with those persnickety episodes that we reeled from, and perhaps still reel from?  Well, here is a private personal chess move that practically guarantees release from those vexing re-runs: re-write those episodes with some positive gain to yourself.

Realize that each of us has the potential to grow from negatives, as well as positives.  Negatives might even help us grow faster in acquiring discernment and wisdom.  That way, when you re-visit the pain it serves you rather than slays you.  You have total permission to re-write any episode in the cathedral of your own mind.  Ain’t nobody able to stop ya!  It is, in fact, soul-enriching to do such a thing.  Trust that God did and will use it (no matter what your “its” were/are) for your good.

Joseph in Egypt said to his brothers: “You meant it for evil, but God used it for good” (Genesis 50:20).  We can take it a step further, even regarding a clumsy person who didn’t mean us any harm or was oblivious to the hurt they were inflicting.  That, too, can be torqued for good.  Doing this exercise releases the other person to just be a person—not a perfect person—and fuels you to get past your past!  You can move ON, get over it, and say quietly to yourself, “Not My Problem” (or abbreviate that and say “NMP” as you wish).  You don’t have to just drive past the crash.  Driving through the crash at this point puts positive metal to your own pedal.

As for yourself and your own relational initiations?  Determine to look for ways to “inflict encouragement” upon your friends and enemies at every turn. Be head-spinningly positive.  Be a lifetime good lover with whomever, and see to it that you do so, wherever.  Be fleet-footed and free emotionally and you’ll spill blessings all over scores of “next guys” that you just happen to stumble upon—or stumble over!

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Dealing with escape artists and manipulators

Monday, 25. January 2016 by Renee Ellison

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Most of life is filled with two-choice dilemmas.  For the most part, which of the two choices we pick will actualize who we are, as we go.  Our choices—all of them—begin to define us as people.  A creative person may cobble together a combination of parts of those two choices or sometimes compromise parts of those two choices, to achieve a later higher goal, but he (or she) will still reckon with the two choices, i.e. deal with the parameters of reality as is.  In other words, a mentally healthy individual won’t try to defy gravity, moonlight, or sunlight.  He/she lives in the light of such immovables.

Conversely, your tell-tale sign of dealing with a person who routinely escapes reality will be to note that that person will not reckon with boundaries, at all.  He/she will attempt to finagle his/her way around them, live as if they didn’t exist, or delay his/her confrontation with them on purpose, indefinitely.  Often this sort prefers to run—either psychologically, physically, or both.  Leaving town might be his/her answer to everything—or leaving relationships might do it for him/her, too.  If he/she is out of control financially he/she may hurry to take bankruptcy as the path of least personal pain.

He/she is a master at washing his/her hands of any implications or any nod toward even his/her own future.  In other words, he/she will not submit to life as it is.  His/her bolder methods of escape may include any number of options: drinking, self-sabotage, delay, drugs.  (His/her ultimate way of escape, of course, is suicide.  For many, though, the self-love is so strong that that avenue of problem-solving is not seriously entertained in his/her arsenal of defenses, except to feign it to exert a manipulation, if needed.  For others it is a real option.)

If you know of someone who seems eel-like to deal with, or who flairs (i.e. goes ballistic, or punishes you someway) when coming under real parameters or having to face real boundaries, you no doubt have some of this going on.  The best solution is to pit his/her outcomes against himself/herself.  Alcoholics may find their last hope in an outside intervention.  For other types of humans’ problems, the routes back to health aren’t so clean and obvious.  Nonetheless, one thing is for sure: he/she will not deal with himself to please you.  It has to sting and sting badly in his/her own psyche to be of any value for a turn-around.  Therefore, hunt for nailing those issues and having those discussions.  Remove yourself from the middle of their equation; you’ll have more peace of mind and the other person will be forced to face his/her own dilemma sooner.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Marriage advice to newlyweds

Thursday, 21. January 2016 by Renee Ellison

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We go into marriage with all sorts of subliminal expectations—expectations we don’t even know we have.  We would, at the outset, classify them as “hopes”—but in the next breath we privately say to ourselves, insistently, that “they’d better be hopes that COME TRUE!”  Marriage is full of surprises, however, and the biggest surprise of all is that you didn’t ride off into the sunset with more of “yourself.”  You rode off into the sunset with a truly significant “other.”  Married, you are literally in bed with that “otherness.”  Not only is that other “significantly” hard-wired differently from you, he/she comes with 120,000+ hours of different software, too!  His/her background is different than yours, the imprinting was different, the social exchanges within his/her birth family were different—you name it—it’s DIFFERENT!

For you two to “get along” you’d think this different-ness would be a recipe for disaster, but, when you are in the Lord, and you are sure that this marriage is of Him (that He sanctions it because you are both spiritually alive in Him), we find out that it comes with great design.  God is starting a new dynasty with each new couple that now somehow influences future generations.  He is the one who designed that the new marriage would have a distinct character/difference from the pasts that each spouse brought to the marriage.  He actually WANTS this new metamorphosis! 

To make this mutual conversion work is, for every couple, a lifetime tussle with our own cocoon.  We’d sometimes rather stay in our cocoon (our past comfort levels) than wrestle with the work it takes to emerge as a butterfly.  It will take self-denial to make it work—to learn to bevel, to grow together.  On the day of my marriage my father told me (with a twinkle in his eye), “marriage is an adventure in adjustment!”  And how true that is. 

Instead of fighting the adjustment, look forward with eagerness to the adjustment and it will make a far more refined, mature and loving YOU.  Marriage is one of God’s finest schoolrooms to teach you how to get past yourself and move into the wide ocean of His huge kingdom.  You can’t possibly know now what God is making of you.  You can’t dictate how it should be, out there in the future, because you can’t possibly know God’s purposes for it, nor how to get there.  Given all the dimensions of the unknown, humility sets in in a hurry.  And this is part of the story—a big part: losing yourself in a world that is bigger than yourself.

Therefore, learn to cooperate with the story, readily, at every turn.  You will experience surprising delights in marriage, IF you don’t look for them.  There will come unexpected wondrous moments that settle in your heart, like the butterflies—elusive to catch, but they come when you don’t anxiously seek them.  Instead, keep your focus on going to God for ever new life-giving, coping strategies, and graces for personal relinquishments, if needed, and He will show you how to NOTICE the butterflies when they come gently and unannounced.

Learn to ENJOY your spouse AS HE/SHE IS. Instead of remaking him/her into your image, imagine yourself sitting back in a big easy chair, smoking a cigar, with your slippers on, content to OBSERVE and watch for the evening!  Marvel at how different he/she is, and seek to stretch yourself to comprehend what it is like to live inside his/her head.  This is a GOOD exercise.  It broadens you immensely, helping you to understand life even outside your marriage where another six billion significant others live.

This is the secret to a good marriage: seek to “love” rather than to “BE loved” and you’ll progressively and mysteriously grow to be like the Great Lover above.  In the end you’ll find that you traded your smaller self for a far larger better self—to say nothing of the joys and contentments you will have brought to your spouse.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Wish that the big parameters of your life were different?  Think again.

Saturday, 02. January 2016 by Renee Ellison

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If given our druthers, who would design our life best? God, or us?

Even if we were allowed the possibility of re-designing our “lot” in life (a real temptation for many who would like to start over, pick a different spouse, not have children, or at least not have that child, or, conversely, wish that they had had children, but couldn’t, or painfully wish that they could jettison protracted unwanted singleness, or skip the mind-boggling and long dissolutions and loneliness of old age, or miss all bouts with illness, injury and unavoidable surgeries, even live in a different country or a different time in history, and certainly have different neighbors, relatives and/or bosses), would we even want the job?

As believers, serious contemplation might lead us, eventually, to eagerly say, “no!”  The reason? —because we couldn’t possibly know, with our finite minds, what is best for the shaping of our spiritually-infinite character for eternal ends.  Realizing that we are people who now last forever (and ever and ever, world without end, amen!), we can’t fully (or even feebly) fathom where all of this is headed and what is necessary for the future journey.

However, look at the conscientiousness with which God designed it for us:
If He had not loved me, “...surely He would not have made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part; surely He would not bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire” (2 Samuel 23:5).

The following verses, too, indicate a loving sovereignty even over our path withIN our parameters:
• “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).
• “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

What a confidence is ours, as believers, that we wake up and go to sleep (even our final sleep, at the end of life) held securely in divine hands and in divine plans When we finally “see” the results of carrying each and every perplexing burden, all in hindsight, we might even actually rejoice at our chosen lot, for we will have found that our hard boundaries were, in fact, lined with tender mercies, and our confusions, stumbling and chafings were all understood and marked well by matchless vigilance.  “He does not take His eyes off the righteous” (Job 36:7a).  For, “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10b).  What resolute love it all demonstrates.  Surely we could never have dreamed of finding human gold in such places.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Traversing emotional pain

Wednesday, 30. December 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Have you been traversing some emotional pain? We can’t pretend to begin to understand the following verse, but there it sits, in all of its spiritual intrigue: “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s affliction, for the sake of His body, which is His church” (Colossians 1:24).

Surely He allowed His soul the full score of complete and total suffering, not only physically and spiritually, but emotionally.  Rejection, disdain and mockery apparently were necessary parts of His affliction.  His heart, held under the darkness of affliction at the bottom of the barrel—experiencing emotional pain at the lowest of the low, below the belt, gut-wrenching rejection—weathered the worst of human storms.

Our Savior’s suffering in this regard was complete, yet at the same time it was NOT complete.  He was willing to suffer again, and even ongoingly, for 2,000 additional years, through identification with the vicarious emotional pain of His “own” (His dear sheep) in order that they might know the fellowship of His sufferings.  So it must be that by being in the valley of emotional pain we apparently obtain a depth of fellowship that can be found in no other way. What immutable designs He crafts for spiritual intimacy with Him via the open wound of His own continued suffering through us.  Is there no end to the extension of His love and the depth of its concourse?!

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

The love of God for Israel

Tuesday, 24. November 2015 by Renee Ellison

No one parents better than God himself.  See here, His love for His first born, Israel, and the love that is expressed back to Him.  May WE learn to parent with such love. 

From the calling of Abraham out of the din of paganism to the hair-raising, iffy passage through the Red Sea, to the skin and bones of the holocaust, to the creaky old cast-off ships bringing the outcasts home to the land, to the making of the desserts to bloom where there is no water, to the current David and Goliath existence of escaping bullets and bombs and international bullyings every hour of every day, the Lord’s love story will prevail.  In the end, He will YET EMERGE out of earth’s swamp, triumphant with blood dripping from His hands, the apple of His eye firmly gripped in His upraised palm…yes, there will sit the apple.  And we will sit there, too, incomprehensibly, and head-spinningly grafted in.  Surely, it’s the greatest love story ever told.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

Gaining a broad perspective on marriage

Friday, 13. November 2015 by Renee Ellison

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When couples first enter the super-charged waters of struggling with strong differences, they can feel bewildered and overwhelmed at learning how to deeply relate to one individual on earth.  They can feel that the task of getting along is insurmountable. A key tool the enemy uses is to keep the couple isolated, thinking that their situation is worse than that of 3 billion other marriages.

Isolation from any other thought—living in the prison of one idea, trapped in our own internal mental mulling—is counter-productive.  Rolling around only our own spin about the situation in our heads, over and over (like sucking on hard candy), is the enemy’s finest artillery.  He strives to keep the couple disconnected from finding out that others struggle, too.

The enemy of our souls keeps the couple from thinking that marriage books would be helpful, and he makes it conveniently inconvenient to go to the effort of attending marriage seminars and workshops.  And when they do go to view helpful marriage YouTubes, he works hard at distracting them, convincing them to watch other YouTube clips instead, on more seemingly urgent subjects.  And by all means, he suggests that they don’t get marital counseling—that is for really troubled marriages—getting them each to think it is better to smolder about one’s own troubles by oneself.

Conversely, the great comfort of the Holy Spirit, the helper of our soul, is to show us how universal marital troubles are.  The dominant emotion of marriage seminars is laughter.  Why? Because each couple looks around the room and realizes that all of the men are feeling this way and all the women are identifying with another entirely different concept,  Thus the couple begins to relax withIN their dilemmas, and breaks out of their trips around the barn.

Conversation in all directions helps restore perspective, grants insights, and diffuses pressure. By all means, seek wisdom from older good strong marriages, and read the experts.  There are enormous repositories of help out there in the big, wide, wide world…a veritable store house of relational GPS’s.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

We shall be like Him…

Saturday, 05. September 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Yeshua’s high priestly prayer in John chapters 14-17 is surely the Holy of Holies of all of Scripture (John Stott).

No greater words have ever been spoken.  The earnestness with which the Savior pleads to the Father (and WHAT He asks for) is incomprehensible: “That they may be one as We are one.”  AS WE ARE: in like manner—to share in OUR glory—the glory which We had, in which We existed for all time beforehand.  The implications are staggering.

While we find ourselves fighting in vain against endlessly sinking into living for activities and accruements, our Lord and Master is steadily, constantly, masterfully relational.  In and through all things, His eye is ever on the relational dynamics of all things.  His conversations with the wicked unbelieving pierce to the dividing of soul and spirit, more like surgeries than conversations; and oddly enough, the righteous experience the same from Him, but theirs is unto LIFE.

When one meditates on the restraint the Messiah exhibited while on earth, away from His almightiness, one is spell-bound.  His ability to do dashing miracles of untold numbers was controlled entirely by His relational aims.  He performed only what would deepen the relational.  He had no desire for show.  When we peek into this high priestly prayer and see Him on His knees, we get a glimpse of the ultimate in unfettered love.  Our humble High Priest quietly succeeded in asking and obtaining the inscrutable for us.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

The limitations of war in the hands of men

Sunday, 05. July 2015 by Renee Ellison

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(Thoughts on the 4th of July of 2015)

How strange it is that since the dawn of man we have thought we could advance ideologies through technical means.  Superior aim, brute force, bulls-eyes, bayonets, chariots, dynamite, and atomic fusion have been our means to change thought—or so we imagined.  Our focus has been upon military brass.  We’ve ignored the fact that the earth has a soul.

If war is in the hands of good men, benevolent men, we see that war can be a means for stopping further war, at least for the moment.  But have we ultimately gained anything, in the long run, if we haven’t changed the heart?  Don’t the contrary ideologies live on in the ashes—smoldering away, gathering combustion for the next outbreak of force?

Furthermore, if war is in the hands of evil men, what then?  If they gain the technical advantage, wild with desire to advance barbaric ideologies, having the upper hand, do they really advance even their own ideologies?  Or do they, so equipped with artillery, tactics and intrigue, descend into irrationality—becoming so engorged with greed, that power itself becomes their ultimate ideology?  After their wars, they are apt to see their victories descend into rejected persuasions that implode as the masses break out against their insistences.  Just give it time.  Resting on their laurels, the evil warriors (some masquerading as refined elites) will be delivered from personal angst for a few hours, perhaps, but will afterwards become vaguely aware of increasing restlessness in the hearts of the conquered.  This is experienced, in spades, by any monarch, who the day he ascends his throne begins to note whispers from relatives who would love to usurp him.

Ultimately, all that war does is muzzle opposition and silence dissent for an hour or two. War, in the hands of mere men, does absolutely nothing to change the heart—or enlighten humanity.  The results generally won’t last; just wait a half hour.  (A few hundred years is but an hour or so, in the overall framework of history.)  The American War of Independence was followed by the War of 1812 and then the Civil War, where Americans killed themselves, more comprehensively than all the American men lost in wars with our outside enemies.  Our war to fix political problems (including states’ rights and slavery) meant we maimed and killed far more in the process: a staggering 620,000 (recent studies move it to 850,000).  The racial issue festers still, and the battle for states’ rights vs. federal rights emerged again, just days ago!  World War I (“the war to end all wars”) was followed by World War II.  Even when a war must be waged to stop immediate wild aggressions, amassing ammunition is no avenue to achieving lasting conflict resolution if we don’t afterwards tend to the hearts of men.  Our world today is peppered with wars in every direction—and massive conflagrations are flaring in the wings.

One has to ask, what did the Visigoths and the Huns, who overran Rome, grow in Rome’s ruins?  How was this an advance—even for themselves?  Is living among carnage and weeping stone better?  When ISIS has killed the last Jew, what then will they live for?

Napoleon had it right when he meekly observed that “Jesus Christ was the greatest military leader of all time, because He conquered men by love, not force.”

In scripture we find the head-turning verse for a yet future time: “Neither shall they learn war anymore.”  Why? Because war, in the hands of mere men, ultimately advances nothing.  Thus, in the kingdom, God will see to it that we will cease to learn it, or to teach it to our sons.

On the other hand, war in the hands of God will in the end advance everything.  We were born into a red hot war, begun long before laying the foundation of the earth, and we shall see its end.  The unequaled power of “almightiness” is the last trump card, when men won’t be persuaded by their own military exploits.  When man descends into a slug-fest, God takes on his irrationality and kills it by almighty means.  By eternal muscle.  By lightning and trumpets and plagues, and hail, and hurling meteorites and planets in the cosmos—slamming them even into the earth.  If man won’t be persuaded in the tender recesses of his heart, by the most divine of humble sacrifices, spilling righteous blood, every such man, bent on evil, will at last be conquered by a parade of Armageddons of another sort.

The hour is late.  Let us advance the cause of Christ by prayer, by persuasion, by increased ardor, by unabashed boldness.  Let us “kiss the Son” while He may yet be found, believing that war for the hearts of the sons of men is the greater and final battleground.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips

The world is past fixing

Monday, 11. May 2015 by Renee Ellison

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Just like when the Egyptians pleaded with Pharaoh, “Do you not yet see that the land is ruined”—when he remained transfixed in his own illusions of continued world power (despite what he was experiencing), so, too, we, as a world have reached the point of no return.  This IS the last chapter.  Vain is the hope that the world systems are going anywhere but down, despite the best of human efforts from this day forward.

Even if we were to start today in earnest, able to clean up the world morally by having massive revivals, the best we could hope for would be scores of individual salvations.  For the systems/ economies/ ecologies/ anarchies of the world, however, this is D-day.  As in the days of Noah, this current world is beyond fixing; we are in a free-fall over the cliff.  We hurl headlong to the bottom for a number of individual reasons, each of which, in isolation, will be taking us down and is taking us down.  In combination, the synergistic effect of all those individual causes will bring us down, overwhelmingly and irrevocably.

Morally
In our defiance against God, at first we looked for idols made of stone but then we eventually found ourselves to be the better idol still.  We tinker with combining the DNAs of animals with plants, of humans with animals, and as a result our bio-ethics problems will be huge.  We sit on Mt. Zion, re-writing origins.  Sexual orientation and marriage have been re-defined by human oligarchs, whose assertions result in utter confusion for the “children” of those origins, who now ache past repair. And the blood of our millions of abortions now moan and howl over the years like a restless wind that cannot be hushed in the conscience of a nation.

The debt load
At a debt load currently sitting at 20 trillion, just for the USA, even if we stopped our borrowing habit today, stopped the Fed printing presses and began paying back debt in earnest—just our own USA debt exceeds the entire global GDP.  That means that if we were able to buy/ acquire/ conquer every country of the world and harness their combined manufacturing output, it would not touch the debt of just the USA.  This figure does not include our outrageous unfunded future liabilities: continued entitlements to the non-worker but also, other necessary things like promised social security checks to an army of now retiring baby boomers, swelling by the second, that came at our economic troughs like a swarm of locusts.  Nor does this debt include the vast worldwide derivatives bubble/ cauldron that is corroding every dollar with nothing but rust and mildew.  And because the economies of the world are hopelessly intertwined, as the USA goes (or Europe, or Japan—take your pick), so goes the world.  It is all beyond human fixing.

What the powers that be will attempt to do to fix it, soon, is to crash the old system and revamp the future world economy into a one-world banking system with a new cashless currency.  In the conversion they’ll ipso-facto wipe out individual wealth and private property—but the fix will be short.  It, too, will topple.  Its termination will be swift; its final window withdrawal will be met with by the “teller” at the top of the Mt. of Olives.

The nuke situation
Any number of rogue nations with messianic illusions of their own importance could finger the kill switch, on a godlike day.  North Korea sits next to that switch 24/7 now—and who knows how many minions in other nations sit with her.  We are in bondage to nuclear fissions and fusions.  Our toys have turned on us like an unforeseeable emergence of Frankenstein.  Most of the world’s continued existence is very iffy.

The EMP switch
Electronically, we are at the mercy of the use of wireless waves—oceans of them—coming from every direction.  We’re hopelessly dependent upon this new hidden, noiseless fuel for our every transaction.  Cut off our electronic fuel via a quiet neighborly EMP attack and that is the end of going anywhere.  The day a bum cannot get his EMT card to work in his ATM machine, will be the day that he comes to your house for dinner, and assuredly, he will eat before you will.

The Fukushima situation
In the book of Revelation it says that 1/3rd of the world’s oceans will be ruined.  When the Tsunami hit Japan, it broke open this prophecy.  Fukushima’s nuclear spills have not been able to be contained since then, and at this very hour that situation (never before seen or experienced), remains out of control, continuously belching additional copious quantities of alarmingly high levels of radiation.  Anything we could do would be a mere Band-Aid on this universal oozing gash.  Currently, the volume of dead sea animals washing up on the Western shores of the US because of interfacing with this radiation is unprecedented.  These animals maroon on our shores with gaping open wounds, burns, sunken eyeballs, endless repositories of radiation damage beyond belief strewn upon our shorelines.  The sea life was our first line of defense.  Those animals took it on the chin.  Our own thyroids are next, and our babies after that.

Conclusion
Let us get beyond looking for better days.  No day will ever again be better, on the corporate, worldly level. Let us saddle in for worse days, and darker nights, for this season of our lives.  But individually, if we proceed with humbly bowed head and contrite heart, under the blood of the only Savior the world has ever known, we can look forward to an individual spiritual bonanza, in the midst of it all.  Read most any chapter of the book of Isaiah to see the judgments and end time cataclysms juxtaposed against the Almighty’s secure protection of His loved ones.  We can look forward to gathering the spiritual spoils of a world in a catastrophic death-throw.  Our booty will be as large as our prayers and our union with the Almighty.  Let us not forget that there are TWO stories going on here.  One is going down; the other is going up.

Filed Under: Spiritual tips