Monthly Archives: August 2008

The Gift of Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27).

Can I ask you a question or two? Would you be willing to entreat the thoughts that have been walking around my heart recently? I hope so, but if you are in a rush and life is screaming around your heart with the speed of light, I’ll understand your taking a pass. But in doing so, I think you will neglect a pondering that is, perhaps, most intended for you, for we are a weary and busy people. And God would like to offer you something of lasting worth that will not only help you in your weary, but will walk with you for always.

His peace.

How long has it been since you have tasted the full and deep measure of God’s peace? And more importantly, do you even begin to comprehend the difference between this world’s packaging of peace and the Father’s gifting of peace? What does it mean to you that the God of all creation gives in accordance to his “Godness” and not according to a temporal standard that, at best, is momentary and shallow?

The contrast is staggering. If would could ever get our minds around the disparity between the two, we would quickly trade in our purchasing of the world’s peace for the receiving of God’s eternal peace. His cannot be bought. It can only be received as a gift. This is a difficult concept for most of us, for we have spent a lifetime negotiating the purchase price for peace.

We take vacations in search of peace, only to return with frazzled nerves and a mounting credit card. We turn on the television as a way of escaping the pressures of the current, only to be bombarded with the harsh assaults by an industry that thrives on chaos and conflict. We labor our cause for peace through political points of view, only to walk away with a growing dislike for our contemporaries who don’t view the world through similar lenses.

We take to our self-soothing through…

drugs…prescribed and otherwise
internet and email
sexual addictions…and the entertaining of thoughts therein

…all manner of creature comforts that, perhaps, breathe an initial breath of peace but in the end leave us void of any deep and lasting portion.

We want peace for our journeys, but somewhere along the road, we have bought into the lie that peace can be purchased. It is a good lie because it’s working on most of us. But peace that comes with a price tag is simply a masking for the enemy’s offering of bondage. Satan’s objective is to keep us searching…to keep us in a perpetual stage of running toward a goal that he knows can never be achieved through our good intentions or a bulging bank account. Satan’s offer of peace serves on the same platter as it did for the disciples over 2000 years ago.

The world’s promise of peace may have walked differently back then, but it still measured the same.

Worldly and lacking.

But then Jesus interrupted the scene with an alternative—an offering of his own portion of peace. It was a peace that extended far beyond the customary greeting and conversational benediction of their vernacular. It was a “penetrating through the doors” kind of peace that poured deep with an extended reach toward their forever.

When Jesus told his followers about his soon and coming departure, undoubtedly their hearts were a flurry with confusion and grief. It is the same for us. Anytime we perceive our Jesus to be absent from our “routine and normal” we, too, are prone to our flurry and our worry until we can no longer find the thread of peace that links us back to our faith. It may only be momentary, but unless our peace is anchored within the truth of Jesus’ offering of peace, our lingering chaos lasts long and hard and keeps us from experiencing the immediate intention of a Father’s gift.

The disciples were at a distinct disadvantage, although we often think of them as more blessed for having walked and talked with Jesus and for being the front row witnesses of his miraculous. No, in that moment of hearing Jesus’ forecast concerning his future, their troubled hearts didn’t have the benefit of the one thing that we now possess.

Hindsight. A backward glance into sacred history as we now know it. We see Jesus’ cycle of life and understand the reasons for his cross. We are the benefactors of such a gift. But when Christ spoke to the disciples concerning his death and his resurrection, their momentary pain kept them shackled to the cross…to their chaos and confusion…instead of pushing them ahead to vision the promise of their forever.

It was a moment worthy of the spoken word and the spoken Presence of that word.
Peace. Not as the world gives, but as the Father gives.

And even though we have the documented benefit of history, even though we’ve seen the working out of Calvary’s pouring grace and an Easter’s crowning resurrection and a Pentecost’s promised revival, even though we know it all to be true in the deepest marrow of our being, we still live as a people in search of God’s peace.

I’ve got some good news for you today. The search is over. God’s peace is here. His name is Jesus, and he lives in each one of us through the witness and power of his Holy Spirit. Love’s redeeming work was done over 2000 years ago, and the overflow from that sacred grace is a lasting peace. Never to be purchased. Never to be contrived or managed or fit into a busy schedule as needed, but rather to simply be received and to be lived. To be understood and to be treasured.

You need not go to the market in search for the seemingly unattainable. If you know Jesus to be your Savior, then you contain within you the absolute attainable. Not because you are deserving, but simply because you are the penchant of your Father’s heart, and his lasting and enduring peace is the sacred root that will grow you toward your forever.

Our Father does not give to us as the world gives. He gives better. More than the eye can see. More than the ear can hear. More than the mind can conceive. And sometimes, more than our faith can believe. God’s immeasurably more will always trump the seen and the measurable. The gifts from our Father’s hands are the seeding of our tomorrow. He gives with the future in mind. He gives gifts that have eternal reach because eternity is his to give, and Peace is ours to live.

Not just when life breathes good, but when life breathes heavy and threatens our very existence. Peace is our very good portion. Our constant and our abiding gift from heaven until we reach the shores of our forever and see our Peace, face to face.

Who can fathom the glorious riches of our then…of our now?! I can, and thus I pray,

Jesus, you are my Peace. Keep me to the road of Peace. Harbor my thoughts in the depth of your constant and abiding Peace who lives within. When I am tempted to search elsewhere…to pull out the wallet and to purchase peace at the going rate…drop me to my knees in thankfulness for the price that has already been paid on my behalf for your gift of lasting peace. Walk through the door of my heart, Lord, each and every day and speak your words of Peace over my life. Give according to your “Godness” and not according to my want, for my want will always fall short of your immeasurably more. And you my Father, have made me for more; thus, I bow to receive my portion from your hand his day. Amen.


For a more in-depth look at God’s concept of peace, please take time to read John 14. May God bless the reading and the pondering of his word as only he can. Shalom!

Copyright © August 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

Love’s Full Bloom

Love’s Full Bloom

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

That which is the greatest remains my difficult hard.

Love, and the giving and receiving therein.

It should come easily. It should be the overflow of my heart because my heart has known so much of it. But it doesn’t. Not always. I’m working on it, and the more I see it displayed in my own life, the closer I walk toward its embrace. I witnessed it again today, and I couldn’t help but be swept away by the invitation to come and to celebrate the occasion that brought love’s bloom to my dear friend’s heart.

We met again, as we are prone to doing on Tuesdays. Me and my ancients. Today we traded in our usual fare of pizza for chicken salad and fresh fruit. It’s not easy for us to trade in our usual. We love routine, but today we made the sacrifice. Why?

Because one of the ancients is getting married. Yes, that’s what I wrote. An ancient. Getting married. To a manly ancient. In just a few short weeks. Wedding, reception, honeymoon…the full spectrum of wedding bliss. Both of them have their stories—their pasts which they bring with them to the altar. Both have walked the course of some seventy years of living without one another, but by God’s grace will be allowed to walk their next years alongside one another, holding hands and cherishing the gift of love’s full bloom.

It’s a privilege to share in their joy. To be part of this grand reminder that love is a sacred gift. It arrives for each one of us in all sorts of packages, on every kind of occasion, and in all manner of shapes and sizes, preferences and ages. When love comes, the unwrapping and receiving of its package mirrors the hope of heaven, for God has always intended for love to be our portion. His love pours over us through the hearts of many—friends, family, the body of Christ, and sometimes even through the heart of a stranger.

Love came as a baby in a manger some 2000 years ago. Love grew as a carpenter’s son in the hidden hills of Nazareth. Love walked the road to Calvary where Love’s heart bled in surrender for ours. Love poured out its full portion of forgiveness so that many will soon know the joy of Love’s full bloom—a wedding day fast approaching, when the Groom will come to gather his bride for all eternity.

Love is the sacred intention of a Father’s plan and a Savior’s cross. And that, my friends is always worthy of some celebration. Whether loves comes in the form of marriage, friendship, family kinship, or any other kind of relationship, Love is the seeding of God’s creation. And Love will be the anchor who brings us all to our full and sacred bloom.

Yes, some Tuesdays cry out for more than pizza. Some Tuesdays cry out for a party and for some cake and for the laughter that is a sure reminder of what awaits us all at the banqueting table of our Groom.

And I’m pretty sure that Miss Christine’s Swiss Mocha Cake will make the eternal cut. At least that’s what I asked of the Lord this day as I devoured one bite after another, after another, until its sweet came to full bloom in my stomach.

Isn’t God good?! Yes, he is…just in case you’ve forgotten.

No matter your current–whether in crisis, in chaos, or in contentment–our Father is good, and his portion for each one of us is an extravagant Love that boasts the reach of heaven. High and wide and long and deep. That’s how far our God will travel to bring you home as his radiant and spotless bride.

It is his joy to do so, and it is my joy to say “yes.” I hope your voice finds a similar echo today, and thus, I pray…

Thank you, Father, for occasions that remind me of your gracious love over me. You’ve walked the road from heaven to earth in order to claim me as your own so that I can walk its return path with you as my Groom. You are the Love of my life, the pulse that quickens my steps, and the anticipation that stirs my heart in expectation for the wedding day soon to come. Prepare me as your bride, dressed in your robes of righteousness and washed clean in your blood from Calvary’s full surrender. And God, bless the ancients, especially the two that will soon walk the aisle to receive your extravagant love through the gift of marriage. May theirs be a love that reflects the gracious grace of heaven. Amen.

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For those of you who need to know that your God sees you this day…

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” (Psalm 19:1-6).

Can you even imagine? Better still, do you?

Ever imagine?


Pitching his tent in the heavens and watching over your every move. Not because he is waiting for you to make a mess out of your life, but simply because he is waiting for you to take notice of his.

His constant presence. His everlasting love. His faithful glances in your direction.

He is there, but most days, our preoccupation with the flesh leaves little room for the imagining of him. Horizontal focus trumps the beauty of vertical visioning because horizontal focus usually voices the loudest. That which cannot be heard is almost always overlooked. Overshadowed and nearly forgotten. Almost.

Not today. Not for me. For today the heavens voiced a melody that trumped any earthly sound. They scripted their chorus in the sky above, and only those with the eyes to look up and the hearts to look deep had the privilege of singing along. God gave me a gift this morning through my imagination. Maybe you, too, will be able to hear the song.

Imagine a beautiful Sunday morning. A day set apart for the worship of the Creator of your heart. Imagine going to church, parking your car and grabbing hold of the hands of two young children. Imagine, then, looking up and seeing the sky painted with the brushstrokes from a Heavenly Father’s morning walk.

Imagine commenting on their beauty to your children and then finding your camera to take a few pictures to benchmark the moment.

Imagine going into the church, finding your pew, only to be distracted by the beauty of a sky’s sacred witness. Imagine retrieving your camera from your purse and perusing your earlier remembrances while the choir sings their anthem.

Imagine, then, being disturbed by a seemingly odd coloring on a few of the pictures.

Imagine, then, zooming the camera’s focus in to take a closer look.

Imagine then, the possibility of what you think you see.


Call me crazy. Call me emotional. Call me way over the top. Call me hysterical for Jesus. That’s OK. I know Who I imagined this morning, and I am perfectly fine with your labels. Better still, I am perfectly fine with believing in the One whose eyes are always on me and who is coming soon to take me home as his bride.

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’” (Revelation 21:1-3).

It won’t be long, friends, until we truly see him in all his glory. For now, we can only imagine him, watching over us and waiting for the divine “go” from his Father. In that moment, his voice will split the sky, and he will shatter earth’s darkness with the glorious illumination of our forever. Can you even imagine?

It’s a holy imagining worthy of our thoughts this day—a Sabbath day when our focus should level toward the vertical and our faith should level toward the seen possibility of a wild and sacred imagining. He’s been my portion this day. How I earnestly desire the same for you.

Look up, for your salvation is closer now than it has ever been! (Romans 13:11-12). As always,


I came across this song last night for the very first time. You’ve probably heard it before, but would you take the time this day to listen again and to imagine your Father’s watchful and loving gaze over you right now? This song brought me to my tears and to my knees. I pray it will do the same for you.

Raising Faith (part ten): Embracing Your Intercession

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

What do the department store Target, handcuffs, two sobbing women (one old, one young), and a “no shirt wearin’, boxer brief showin’” teenager have in common? Absolutely nothing, unless your name is Elaine and you happened to be cruising the Target parking lot around 5:00 PM this evening.

No. We weren’t robbed. We were simply witness to the arrest of a young man who had apparently done something worthy of handcuffs—a rubber-necking moment if there ever was one! Police cars and flashing lights were enough to garner our immediate attention. But as soon as we had passed the scene of the crime, my curious attention suddenly turned to tears. Lots of them. Before long, I had my daughter crying and my son and husband wondering as to the reason behind my emotional outburst. I can sum it up in one word.


When I saw that young man standing beside the patrol car, half-dressed and with a look of warranted fear in his eyes, my heart beat with the love of a mother. Through choking sobs, I spoke the penchant of my heart’s pause to the carload of dazed companions. Words like…

*That is somebody’s child.
*This boy didn’t start out this way.
*He was made for more than handcuffs and crime.
*Somebody’s getting a phone call tonight that they don’t want to get, and it is likely to bring heartache.
*Who is going to tell him that life doesn’t have to be this way—that there is a Jesus who loves him and died for him so that he might truly live?
*How will he ever know the hope of heaven?
*Who is going to stand beside him when he comes before the judge?

Words like that, and before we’d left the parking lot, everyone else was caught up in the drama of my tearful wondering. We took a few moments to pray, asking God to shatter the darkness of this young man’s heart with the truth of Jesus Christ. To bring a person of influence alongside him who will lead him to the foot of the cross.

It may not sound like much. I suppose in the grand scheme of issues that now await this boy, it offers little in the way of an immediate salve. But it’s all I have to give him. And prayers, when offered on behalf of others, are sometimes the difference between heaven and hell. Between life and death. Between handcuffs and freedom.

I will probably never know the outcome of tonight’s prayers. At least not now. But I do know that my Father heard me and that he is faithful to act on behalf of all of his children, especially those so prone to their shackles and their cells. What happened tonight in my van wasn’t contrived or superficial or #10 on the list of “30 Full Proof Methods for Raising Godly Children.” No, what happened tonight was solely rooted in the witness of God’s Spirit living within, provoking me to compassion and moving me to action.

That action was prayer. It doesn’t always breathe this way. Sometimes, more is required. Sometimes, I am the one charged with the responsibility of coming alongside. But tonight, my requirement was different. It was about lifting the life of a young man before the throne of heaven in love and asking the Father to move in his favor. It was also about the drawing of young hearts and minds to do the same.

Sacred seeding on both counts. One seed for another mother’s child. Two seeds for my own. All seeds acknowledged before God because God is in the holy habit of receiving our prayers.

Intercession is a privilege and is the sacred ladling from our heart’s well. Unfortunately, we spend a great deal of time and energy underestimating its power. When prayers go seemingly unanswered, we are prone to keeping our silence. We closely guard our words for fear of having our faith challenged when God doesn’t breathe in compliance with our requests. Thus, we level the assumption that prayers matter little when all along, the very opposite is true.

Prayers matter much because prayers voice the witness of our relationship with the living, breathing Creator of the entire universe. Our words mean something to him. And when our words breathe on behalf of his children, he is tendered by our outward focus. We may not know them by name, but he does, and he is well-pleased when we take the time to acknowledge the value of a single human life.

I want my kids to grow in their understanding of prayer. I don’t want their lives to be so cloistered within the walls of a church that they forget the reason and purpose behind the church.

To go. To preach. To baptize and to make disciples of all people. To cry on behalf of a lost soul and then to petition the heart of the Almighty because they understand that heaven and hell hangs in the balance. That kingdom work can be accomplished through the pure intention of their young hearts. That sacred shaping doesn’t just happen on Sundays, but on every day. At every occasion, even when that occasion includes the Target parking lot.

If faith is to be raised in this generation, then prayer must find its witness through our voices. Yours and mine. We are who they are watching.

And tonight, while my daughter may not have fully grasped the weight of my tears or hers, she nevertheless gave way to something deep within. She gave way to her gut, and her gut told her that something of kingdom value was going on, and she wanted to feel it…just like her momma.

Oh for the heart of a child, so easily taught and so easily moved to her own well-intentioned prayers. May it be so for each one of us this day, and so I pray…

Move us quicker to our prayers, Father. Swifter to our knees in times of trouble, and truer in our petitions on behalf of your creation. Forgive us when our focus remains secluded toward self. Foster your outward focus within us as we live and move and have our being in you. Let our casual prayers be less and our intentional prayers find room to breathe in their absence. Thank you for always listening, and by the power of your Spirit and through the saving work of your Son, Jesus Christ, I ask for grace to come to a jail cell tonight for a young man who needs to know that a King and a kingdom await his arrival. Seed his heart for your forever. Amen.

Copyright © August 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.

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The Dark Side of Genesis

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” (Genesis 1:1-5).

“Momma, how old is God?”

“God doesn’t have an age. God simply is. He is timeless.”

“Is he at least a hundred?”

“At least.”

“A thousand?”

“At least.”

“Was he here before it was dark?”

“Of course he was. Well…hmmmmm. Let me get back to you on that one.”

My children’s questions about God are the rich treasures in this season of our “doing life” together. Their hearts are tender and ripe for the seeding of sacred truth. They couldn’t have asked such questions a few years ago; their articulations prevented them from doing so. But they’ve grown, both in the physical and in the spiritual, and their hearts cry out for further clarity on some issues. For truth. For the firm roots that will form their theology about who God is and about his role in their world. Theology formed in the right now, will likely stay with them for a long season.

Thus, I want to answer them correctly and with the truth that is firmly entrenched in my own heart. I want to, but unfortunately, there are times when my “want to” doesn’t match up with my knowledge. Today was one of those days.

My daughter wants to know if God was around before there was darkness.

Darkness to her may not mean the same thing as it does to you and to me. As Christians, we level countless spiritual metaphors with the concept of darkness.

Prodigal living.

But my daughter wasn’t asking for metaphors and for spiritual application. Darkness to Amelia means a few simple things.

Bath and pj’s.
Absence of sunlight.
Moon and stars.
Monsters and an entire host of scary happenings that seem to only surface when the lights go down.
Separation from mom and dad.

What Amelia wanted to know was where her God was when “dark nights” came into being. Was he alive? Was he aware? And I think, in part,

What in the world was he thinking?

If God was in the beginning, a God wrapped in unapproachable light and glory, why on earth did he create life with a dark side? Why, indeed?!

It’s a good question. And while darkness defines differently for my daughter and me, to ponder its beginning is a worthy dig for me tonight. Thus, I head back to the beginning—to the genesis of all beginnings. And here is what I know to be true as found in Genesis 1:1-5. In the beginning there was…

God (Elohim /plural).
An earth void of form.
Some dark.
Some deep.
Some waters.
Some holy hovering.

(Read it again, forming the picture in your mind…)

And then…

There was light. The first spoken word of creation. Light. Good light. A day’s light that allowed a day’s expression and appreciation for God’s creative genius. Darkness didn’t find its creation on that first day. It already was; it simply found its separation from that which received God’s audible and holy “good.”

Does this mean that darkness is bad? I’m not sure. But it was surely present in the beginning, and God thought it important enough for there to be a division between darkness and light. It makes sense that He who created the one is also the creator of the other. God speaks to this through the prophet Isaiah when he says,

“I form the light and create darkness, …” (Isaiah 45:7).

And to Job when he says,

“‘Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, …?’” (Job 38:8-9).

So it seems as if I have an answer to the first notion of my daughter’s question. Yes, precious Amelia, I think that God is older than the darkness. But as to the second unspoken part of your question that deals with the darkness’s purpose, the answer is more veiled. And while I cannot fully reason the importance of a night’s darkness, God permitted its breath.

Perhaps to allow evil to find its metaphor.
Perhaps to allow free will to find its roam.
Perhaps to pulse the antithesis of God’s lighted witness.
Perhaps, because, God knew that without it, we would never fully appreciate the embrace of a new and every morning’s kind of faithful light.

And perhaps, just maybe, because he knew that the faith of a child lives pretty simply and that the mystery and seeming danger of a night’s hold would create the needful longing for the light’s approach.

Twenty-four hours of light, 365 days a year, breathes complacent and walks easy. But when half of our life breathes heavy and walks hard with the darkness that is allowed its measure of influence, well…it creates in us the same needful longing that it creates in my daughter.

A hunger for Light.
A desire for living, not sleeping.
A yearning for awareness and for participation in a day’s doing.
A longing to see that which cannot be visioned under the cover of darkness.

And that, my friends, seeds some purpose into any night’s pause. If it leads me to my hunger for Jesus in deeper measure, then heartily and willingly I pray,

Let the evening come, Lord, and let it blanket me with the expectancy of your morning’s Light. Let not the separation fuel my fear, but rather let the separation stir my longing for walking in the illumination of a new day’s faithfulness. Thank you for the mystery of my beginnings. Keep me to the study of your Word so that I am ready with an answer for the hope that breathes within me. But most importantly, keep me to my awe for the mysterious unanswerables in your Word. Root me in knowledge, but anchor me in faith. Amen.

Copyright © August 2008 – Elaine Olsen. All rights reserved.


How grateful I am for the treasure of God’s Word and the study therein. I might not always do it perfectly, but I am confident of its effectual work in me. I hope that you feel the same. Thank you for the privilege of “digging” alongside you this day. May God’s Word breathe its strong witness over your heart and life even now! Shalom.

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