Monthly Archives: February 2010

Sunday morning…

The brilliancy of a Sunday morning’s sun.

It beamed through the slits in the mini-blinds reminding me of a new day’s embrace. I needed its witness this morning… needed to know I’ve been given another day to live it right, especially since yesterday seemed to live so completely wrong. From beginning to end, my Saturday was filled with confusion, chaos in my externals which contributed to an internal chaos that remained throughout the day. When I put my body to bed last night, I did so with a simple prayer in my heart:

Lord, visit me in my rest and sort this mess out. Make tomorrow my brand new beginning.

It’s a prayer we can pray in faith, because our Father makes it his business to sort out our messes and to bring new beginnings to his children. We can never out-do his willingness to make sense of our confusion or out-sin his grace therein. God makes himself available to our pleas for the “new” and will always be faithful to follow-through with a “new” that is tailor made to individual needs.

I don’t know what transpired in my night’s pause, but the brilliant arrival of sunshine seemed to punctuate the fact that my Father took my prayer to holy heart and granted me the grace of a new beginning this morning. I couldn’t help but notice him. Morning light has a way of announcing his presence—of saying “I’m here…” and “won’t you join me on the road today?”

Life lives new and fresh and better than yesterday when we join our Jesus on the journey of grace. Certainly, some days flesh themselves out as healthier than others. Some days we operate out of God’s fullness rather than personal depletion. Some days our wills line up with our Father’s and, no matter the schemes of the enemy aimed in our direction, we don’t take his bait; instead, we keep faithful to the truth and to the right and good witness of the Holy Spirit living within us. Some days we live life like God intends for us to live it. Some days we live like Easter people.

And some days we don’t live much at all. Some days we step over boundary lines that we were never meant to cross. Some days we say things, do things, pretend things that aren’t in keeping with kingdom living. Some days we live for self rather than for God. Some days we don’t live up to our potential because we’re too busy living beneath our level. Yesterday was a “don’t” day for me, but thankfully, today is walking better.

Today is living like Easter. Like resurrection. Like light. Like freedom, and I have the brilliancy of a Sunday morning’s sun—a Son—to thank for that.

A resurrected life with a resurrected Jesus… how I want to live each day. How thankful I am for a Father’s grace that covers me when I don’t live with resurrected truth and for his willingness to intervene in my night’s pause to re-work my chaos so that my morning shines new and fresh and with the promise of a better day ahead.

May each day of this new week we’ve been given live with the brilliancy of a Sunday morning’s Son as our witness. He intends for us to live in the truth of Easter and with the grace of the cross as our inheritance. Be kind to yourself when you don’t get it right, and be deliberate about asking for a new beginning accordingly. He loves you far more than you realize; you are his bride, and for better or worse, in sickness and in health, he’s keeping you forever. As always…

peace for the journey,


PS: I don’t know how much I’ll be around this week. I have some pondering and praying to do apart from blogging, but I’ll be visiting you and loving you from my own little spot on the globe. If you have anything more specific you’d like me to pray about this week, please feel free to e-mail me. Shalom.

Breakfast on the Beach with Jesus (part four): bringing what we have

“When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’” (John 21:9-10).

One of the greatest joys we will ever know as believers in Jesus Christ is the moment when his provision finds its way into our nets, and we are able to hold it as our own—to know that our obedience played a role in the “capture” of fish—the catching of men and women. As we are faithful to cast our nets in a right and good direction, God is faithful to work that obedience into his kingdom plan for abundance. Sometimes we’re eye witnesses to that abundance; sometimes we see through a glass dimly. But if we continue to yield our nets to the call of the Master, eventually we’ll understand the joy of what it means to be holy fishermen and fisherwomen for Jesus.

Scripture is clear that when the disciples made it to shore that morning, there was already a breakfast cooking to completion over the fire. But rather than Jesus offering the disciples his food in isolation, Jesus instructed his followers to bring a portion of their night’s catch and to add it to the flames. It’s an important mention, and one that I’m glad John included with the story as he was carried along by the Holy Spirit while writing it.

Jesus didn’t ask them for more fish because he necessarily needed more fish. Jesus asked them for more fish because in doing so, he was able to share in the joy of their prior obedience. It is the same with us. When we obey God and out of that obedience our nets begin to fill with abundance, we have the sacred responsibility and holy privilege of bringing that abundance to the heart of the Father so that he might receive the glory due him. Our catch doesn’t arrive at our initiative. It arrives at our Father’s, and when we forget to remember his hand in the matter—when we take the credit for the catch because, quite honestly, fishermen and women are all about bragging rights—we miss out on one of the sweetest aspects of divine fellowship with our God—

The beauty of sacred cooperation between his heart and ours. God invites us to come alongside him and to work with him to bring about a kingdom agenda that doesn’t have to include us, but because of his great love for us and grace over us, allows us a portion of deeded influence. He trusts us with the net; the best we can do is to trust him with the catch—to give back to him what belongs to him and to remember that we are as dust without him.

If I’ve said it before, I’ve said it at least 43 times (that’s one a year for those counting birthdays): If there’s anything good in me, it’s not because of me, it’s because of Jesus. I didn’t always think this; I used to think that I was pretty good all on my own. But then grace humbled me. I walked a prodigal road, and I thought some prodigal thoughts. I lived some prodigal sin, until my prodigal days caught up with me, and I realized my growing depravation and corresponding hunger. It was then that grace finally took hold of my heart, and I realized that I was not as good as I had previously thought. God was better, and if my life was ever going to amount for anything good, I would have to wear his grace openly and without reserve—owning my wretchedness while acknowledging his holiness.

Since that time, God has blessed me with abundance. My net has been full on more than one occasion; I wish that I could say I’m always faithful to quickly acknowledge his hand in the matter. Thankfully, with each obedience comes further understanding. I’m beginning to see the correlation between my submission to his directives and the bounty of my net. And when I do, when I realize that the provision I am holding really doesn’t belong in my hands but belongs in his, I’m quick to surrender it to the fire so that he might receive all the glory and share in the bounty of my night’s catch.

I don’t think many things please the heart of our Father more than when we “bring what we have” and place it before him for the partaking. His hunger for relationship exceeds ours, and when we offer him a “taste” from our nets, we open up our hearts for lavish, intimate fellowship with our God.

The beauty of sacred cooperation—of him bringing what he has and us bringing what we have to the table of grace with the purpose of growing the kingdom.

It’s a mystery, friends. I cannot get my mind around God’s allowing me any measure of influence regarding his agenda. He’s entrusted this mystery to each of us—to the holding of it and the dispensing of it therein. Some days we serve that purpose better than others. Some days we come close to understanding how it all works and other days all we can do is throw our hearts up in faith, surrendering the details and particulars to his perfect understanding.

I’ve stood in both places this week—understanding and faithful confusion. But as long as I’m standing with Jesus, it matters not the level of my perception. What matters is He who is with me in my deliberations over breakfast—him sharing his fish with me, me sharing mine with him.

Sacred cooperation. Mutual joy. Intimate relationship.

Where I want to be this day. I want the same for you. Enjoy your time on the beach with Jesus this weekend. I’ll see you on the other side of breakfast. As always…

peace for the journey,
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Copyright © February 2010 – Elaine Olsen


“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6)


I heard my husband snorting from the living room last evening. Yes, snorting. The kind of “snort, snort” that goes along with laughter. His laughing always draws my attention; I hate to miss out on a good snort. Our hilarity is well-matched. What he finds funny, I do as well. Last night, the source of his laughter was rooted in an advertisement for a new miracle drug, whose front-side claims for success were dampened by the long list of disclaimers that follow on the backside of the commercial.

Disclaimers. Those pesky little addendums attached to products to protect said manufacture from assuming any liability should something go wrong. If you’ve watched any television lately or listened to the radio, I’m sure you could recite many of them from memory.

Do not take this medication if you are pregnant or nursing or if you plan on being pregnant, or if you have four kids and any of them are pregnant, or if you know someone who is pregnant;

Stop taking this medication if you should experience any of the following side effects: dizziness, vomiting, dry mouth, sleeplessness, hallucinations, have thoughts of harming others or letting your kids play in traffic, your big toe turns green, or you find your right eye hanging on by a thread.

Hmm, yes… give me some of that one, please. Is it any wonder that any of us are well after having to navigate the possible, negative side-effects of a drug in order to find some healing? Which leads me to this thought—not an original one but one I’ve thought about from time-to-time in recent days.

Worldly solutions to physical ailments are not enough to fix our problems. They band-aid our aches with temporary solutions, but never will they solve our issues completely. They can treat our symptoms, but even then, our physical, emotional, and most importantly, our spiritual maladies remain. Nothing the doctor can prescribe, the talk shows can purport, the best-selling self-help books can outline, the “gods” can offer (hmm… Buddha comes to mind), will fix the condition of the human heart. They may lengthen our time on earth, but they cannot determine our future beyond the grave.

Only Jesus can.

There aren’t multiple routes to permanent healing—to that place where each of us can finally voice “it is well with my soul.” There is only one way to that kind of peace, and his name is Jesus Christ. He comes with no disclaimers. He doesn’t need to protect himself from liability in case something should go wrong. There aren’t any addendums of “possible, negative side-effects” with the Son of God. His healing isn’t exclusive, nor does it matter if you are…

Pregnant or nursing.
Single or married.
Divorced and divorced again.
An alcoholic.
A criminal.
A person with a past.
An abuser.
The abused.
A prostitute.
Someone suffering from all manner of addictions.
A prodigal child.
A prodigal adult.
A sinner.
A saint.
A porn star, rock star, silver-screen star, sport’s star.

Regardless of the current condition of your heart and life, Jesus is the answer. The only possible side-effect of your liberally, ingesting of him is peace—more peace than you had yesterday, more that will come to you as you are faithful to take him down off of the shelf and drink deeply from his healing tonic. Does that mean your issues will evaporate with a dose of Jesus? No. As long as you and I are tethered to the flesh, issues attach themselves to our lives. But a coating of God’s medicine down our throats and into our hearts keeps those issues manageable and more easily tolerated because, as we confront them, we do so with the companioned presence of Jesus Christ. We carry his elixir with us as we go, and anywhere Jesus goes is good ground for a lasting remedy.

How thankful I am for a Savior who comes to me without disclaimers. I can trust in him—his grace and his cross—without worrying and wondering if my trust is well-placed. God does not fail his children. His promises are true. His word is faithful. His heart is pure. His love is genuine. But don’t take my word for it; take his. Pull your Bible down off the shelf, open it up, and drink deeply from the living Word who has a special word for your woundedness today.

Kind of sounds like a commercial, does it not? Oh, friends, if I’m going to boast about anything, let me boast in Jesus and on the side of his kingdom cross. He makes my life worth doing, and I plan on serving as his “PR” gal for the rest of my days. Won’t you join me in spreading the word about the Word?

Love you; mean it; happy, glorious Tuesday to you, my beloved friends! As always…

peace for the journey,


Breakfast on the Beach with Jesus (part three): seeing whom we see

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.” {John 21:7}

I’m sitting here this early Saturday morning, wrestling with his question. I first took notice of it two mornings ago, even though it was initially asked 2000 years ago. It haunts me, intrigues me, saddens me, and quickens my heart for a response all in the same breath. A question spoken by Jesus to his well-meaning disciples, who after three years of intense discipleship beneath his sheltering wings, were still a bit confused regarding his identity.

“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will enough for us.’ Jesus answered, ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?… “ {John 14:8}

“Don’t you know me, Elaine, even after I have been among you such a long time?”

His is a question that cuts me to the core. If you’ve been a reader of my pen for any length of time, then you know that I firmly believe God intends for his ancient questions (whether spoken by prophet, an angel, his own voice, or Jesus) to jump off the pages of scripture to become a question we entreat within our own spirits. In fact, I’ve written an entire manuscript answering some of those questions, but that’s another bend in my road I’ll re-address in a future bend in the road.

I’ve walked with Jesus my entire life, and still there are days when Jesus’ question to Philip is an appropriate response from his heart regarding my faith. Not always does my faith practice with the corresponding revelation of God’s truth within my heart. Not always do I know him, understand him, recognize him, and see him, even though I’ve shared my life with him from the beginning. And this contradiction doesn’t sit well with me. It leads me to some Galilean waters—to a boat and to some disciples whose “right side of the boat” kind of fishing opened their eyes to the truth of the One who was waiting for them by a breakfast fire.

Take a moment to re-read today’s focal scripture from John 21 as printed at the top of this post. Go ahead; I’ll wait.

“As soon as…”

When was the last time you held one? An “as soon as” moment of sacred revelation that spurred you into the waters of reckless abandon? When was the last time your eyes beheld the living Lord? When did you last look up from the “busy and bounty” of your nets to behold the Lover of your soul tending to the fires of your soul’s feast? When was the last time you jumped ship for Jesus?

It’s been awhile since my robes were wet with Peter’s anticipation. I spend a lot of time “doing what I do” {part one} and “answering what I’m asked” {part two}—good things and good gains, but “seeing whom I see”? Perhaps, not so much.

It’s easy to get caught up in our nets, friends. Kingdom fishing is a big business these days. God has issued his call for fishermen and women, even directing our nets to fertile waters ripe for the “catch.” We’re obedient to go, obedient to cast our energies and God-given abilities on the right side of the boat, believing that our Father will honor our obedience. But sometimes in our eagerness to serve, we lose sight of the shore. Sometimes the net’s haul grabs too much of our attention, masking our need for some down time with the One responsible for that haul. Sometimes our wrestling with our nets leaves us restless in our spirits because, even though God inhabits those nets, his unseen presence is masked by the seen and tangible holding of his provision.

It’s a delicate balance—seeing provision and Presence all in the same moment. It’s a quick leap to think that our “right side of the boat” bounty is all about us. But it isn’t; not really, at least not as much as we think. It’s all about Jesus and his willingness to place those 153 fish in the pathway of our nets. Certainly, we must be faithful to direct our nets to right and good waters, but in the end, without fish we have little to show for our hard laboring other than our weariness.

But when we hold provision in our hands—when we hold the living reminders of God’s grace within our grips and are careful to examine their authenticity and ownership—then we, like Peter, risk the wetness of the waters that bridge the chasm between our hunger and the breakfast waiting for us on the shore. When we make the connection between the seen “rewards” of our hands and the unseen treasure trove of God’s heart that placed them there, then we can say as John said in that moment, “It is the Lord!”

His Presence leads to provision, and his provision helps us to recognize his Presence.

Seeing whom we see… knowing whom we know. Two realizations wrapped around one revelation… one Truth—

Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ.

See him this weekend, friends. Know him as well. Let your faith in that seeing launch you into the waters of expectancy so that you might come to the shore of God’s fire and feast on the provision of God’s heart. He’s been up all night in anticipation of your arrival, and don’t be surprised if he’s got a few questions for you. Receive them as his invitation to sacred conversation, and be thankful for the gift of consecrated relationship with the living Lord. As always…

peace for the journey,

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Copyright © February 2010 – Elaine Olsen

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the next 1283 words…

I have a confession to make… I’m having trouble writing a book along with writing meaty blog posts. Thus, today I’m handing over my next 1283 words in my current WIP. It ought to be enough to keep you busy for a few days so that I can walk ever closer to the finish line of my manuscript. Keep in mind, this is my look at the “ancients” of Hebrews 11, something I explain in greater detail in my recent video blog post. I hesitate putting this reflection here by itself because it doesn’t “read” in isolation. It’s part of the bigger picture, but God has prompted me to release it to you this day, believing that somebody needs its relevance now, not later.

I’ll be back soon, but not before I make some further headway with pen. Shalom!


faith shuts the mouth of the lion {Daniel}


“Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”
–Daniel 6:10

My spirit is restless today. There are a great many things weighing on my mind. I’ve been here before—a moment in time when the splintered fragments of a busy life merge together to seed dissonance within my spirit. My right response to the discord is not always immediate; sometimes it takes some time to come around to practicing the one habit that I know will bring me peace—prayer. Thankfully, today I came to a swifter conclusion in the matter of my chaos. Today, I spread out my prayer quilt on the floor and pled my heart before God’s. He met me there and was faithful to his promise to replace my anxious thoughts with his better thinking.

Prayer is always the right response to our heart cries. Things happen when we pray that otherwise go undone should we neglect such sacred privilege. God means for prayer to be our habit, our default mode, our tendency rather than our last resort. To get to the place where prayer is our common practice is to live in faith as the ancients of Hebrews 11 lived. When coming to our knees in prayerful pause is the natural inclination of our hearts, then we, like the ancients, anchor our hopes for resolution in the One who is more than capable of bringing about a good and solid conclusion. With prayer, we release our hold on chaos and place all matters back into the hands of God. He has made our mess his business and will untangle the chaotic wires so that we may rest in peace.

Daniel understood this principle. He lived the habit of prayer. Three times a day and with windows opened toward Jerusalem, he bowed his knee and his will to the will of the Father. His practice of prayer earned him a trip to the lion’s den, a veiled mention in the Hebrews’ Hall of Faith (see Hebrews 11:33), and a miraculous conclusion that still speaks a faithful witness to those of us who stand at the crossroads looking for a similar finale.

“… just as he had done before.”

When was the last time the same could be said of you? When did you last face a threat from the enemy—one directly linked to your faith—only to enact that faith more vigorously via a window left open for public viewing? When has your trust in God extended past your doubt? Your faith superseded your fear?

We live in a culture unfamiliar with physical threats attached to faith’s affection. Most of us openly practice our belief in God without fear of retribution. The religious freedoms we enjoy today were hard fought by those who stood on the front side of liberty. Our spiritual ancestors lived their faith most rigorously; we live ours a bit differently. Gone are the days of lions’ dens, at least in eastern North Carolina; come are the days of quieter threats, veiled assaults, casually dressed and appropriately masked attempts by the enemy at having us relinquish our faith. And while our faith isn’t currently threatened with an ancient edict of vicious reprisal, from time to time our contemporary faith is given a rigorous work-out by an ancient enemy whose motives remain the same as they did in Daniel’s day—to steal, to kill, to destroy.

God allows us seasons of testing—times when our faith skims through the refining fires of his holy purification. Those allowances sometimes feel like a night’s wrestling with some hungry lions. If our faith is in tact—on fire and ready for the evening engagement—then we, like Daniel, emerge in the morning without fleshly wounding. If, however, we’re ill-prepared—if we approach the lions’ den with our fear and unresolved doubt regarding a Father’s best intentions for our lives—then the chances of our faith waking to morning’s light without personal injury are severely reduced.

Faith shuts the mouth of the lion because faith has been preparing for his savage hunger long before it is served on a platter as the main course. Faith doesn’t wait until it is thrown into the lion’s den to exercise its witness. Instead, faith spends a lifetime living its witness so that when a night with the lion approaches, faith isn’t surprised by its arrival. Rather, faith is duly prepared for the assault.

Alicia Chole speaks to this truth in her book Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years and Yours (Integrity Publishers, 2006, pg.15). In one of her mentoring moments she offers her readers some wisdom regarding times of trials and testing:

“… trials tell us less about our future than they do about our past. Why? Because the decisions we make in difficult places today are greatly the product of decisions we made in the unseen places of our yesterdays.”

Read that again slowly, and consider how Alicia’s wisdom applies to Daniel’s habit of prayer, to yours as well. More than likely, you and I will face the lion’s den a few times in our journey of faith. When we arrive there, our responses to the threat say more about our prior walk of faith than our current moment of crisis. If prayer has been our practice, if tending to our relationship with God has been our daily obedience, then we are better able to engage with the lion’s hungering roar.

Daniel’s “… just as he had done before” was his saving grace, his companioned peace, his settled confidence in a certain God who would ordain for him a night’s rest with the lions rather than a life’s slaughter. God is calling us to our own “… just as he had done before.” He means for prayer to be our habit and for us to practice our faith in a daily way so that when the enemy threatens us with his schemes, we can walk in freedom from his intended outcome.

We can face the lion today because faith has been the holy habit of our yesterdays. Faith is the way we live. It’s what we believe. It’s where we look. It’s the steps we walk. It’s how we’ll finish.

Forward. One step at a time, until our feet crossover the edge of Canaan, and we finally lay claim to the unseen country of our dreams. Our stories will find their conclusions with the grand punctuation from our Father’s pen, and we will be with him… no longer praying our prayers through an open window in the direction of Jerusalem, but, instead, living the fruition of those prayers, face-to-face with the Author and Perfecter of our faith. It’s just as certain and real and glorious as all that, and almost more than my heart can hold this day. Thus, I pray…

Keep me to the habit of my faith and my prayers, Father, to daily placing my thoughts and concerns into your hands believing that with their release comes your promised peace. Dissolve my fears with the truth of your presence, and replace my doubts with the certainty of your Word. You have made my mess your business; only you are worthy and capable of untangling my wires and weaving them into sacred significance. I yield them to you this day; keep me in a yielded posture so that when the lion offers his roar in my direction, I can offer yours back in response. Amen.


Copyright © February 2010 – Elaine Olsen

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