News From The Ranch – May 2005

The Newsletter of Eric Elder Ministries

Using the Voice of Truth to overcome fear, anxiety and doubt; a new online Bible study of the book of Exodus; a possible ranch retreat, and a missions trip to Africa.

Join us for our new online Bible study, Exodus: Lessons In Freedom, which focuses on how to get free, stay free and set others free.

Join us for our new online Bible study, Exodus: Lessons In Freedom, which focuses on how to get free, stay free and set others free.

Dear Friends,

I got an email last week from a woman struggling with fear, anxiety and doubt. She is normally a strong Christian, someone who regularly encourages others to put their faith in Christ for all things. But a few weeks ago, a situation came up that triggered a huge storm in her heart and mind that has taken more than a week to even begin to calm.

She couldn’t understand why such a little thing, or so it seemed to her, would bother her so much. The sudden rush of fear, anxiety and doubt that came upon her was so strong that she couldn’t shake it off. She was bothered almost as much by the fact that she couldn’t figure out how to shake it off as she was by the triggering event itself. She felt it was silly to be so worked up about it; she knew what she would tell others to do, but she couldn’t seem to hear it when she told herself. For several days she couldn’t sleep or eat. The restlessness was tearing her apart from the inside out.

When she told me and a few others close to her about the intensity of her struggle, she finally started to see some peace return to her. She wrote:

One thing I want to mention while I’m thinking of it is WHEN I get through this (like that positive affirmation?), something that I have come more to know through this is that I AM NOT ALONE, even though Satan tries to make you think you are and your life is unraveling. But it’s something people don’t talk about and are very guarded about. But God put several people directly in my path and with different circumstances but so much similarity to the fear, anxiety, stress, feeling of lots of stuff, and especially the feeling like you can’t possibly share or tell anyone what is happening. Thankfully, I am plugged in to the ministry God designed for you, that even though I felt reluctant at first, probably because of my pride or something, yet I was comfortable enough reaching out to you. That’s why your ministry is so important and vital to a hurting world. I could go on, but you might get the gist of what I’m saying. I’M SUPPOSED TO TELL YOU THAT YOUR MINISTRY IS VITAL VITAL VITAL!

I appreciate her kind words about our ministry, but the bigger point I wanted to draw out of this is that pride often keeps us from getting the help we desperately need. We think we’re all alone in our struggles; we’re afraid to tell anyone, especially anyone who might possibly think less of us because of the struggle. We’re trying to hold it all together, but when we can’t, we’re afraid to tell anyone and risk feeling like even more of a failure. But the quickest way to get back on our feet is often to first get down on our knees. James 4:1 says:

“Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift you up.”

Chuck Swindoll writes about this in his book, “Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication”:

“Do you know who it is who keeps erecting all those unrealistic standards in your life? Do you know who keeps raising the bar beyond all hope of clearing it? It’s you. You do. And so do I. Our Heavenly Father doesn’t. The psalmist tells us, He knows our frame. He remembers that we are dust. We think we’re finished because of our failures, but God says, ‘No you’re just getting started. Press on!’ Our problem isn’t that we’ve failed. Our problem is that we haven’t failed enough. We haven’t been brought low enough to learn what God wants us to learn. We’re still trying to redeem Egypt single-handledly.”

The truth is that we still need God, even when we think we’re a strong Christian. We still can’t do anything without Him. And thankfully, He’s still there to help us. We may have to swallow our pride, but it’s OK, because the truth is, God is very much for us; not because He knows how good we are, but because He knows how much we need Him.

We need to stop listening to the lies of Satan and keep filling ourselves up with the “Voice of Truth.” Do you know that song sung by Casting Crowns? My friend Russell Pond, who ministers regularly to people struggling with fear, anxiety and doubt at his website season.org, told me about the background of that song. He said that this was the first song ever written by Mark Hall. It’s original name was “Fear.” Mark is dyslexic and didn’t see how or why God would use him to write or sing music. After Casting Crowns started to become known to the world, Steven Curtis Chapman helped Mark Hall finish the song and changed the name to what it is now, “Voice of Truth.”

I think it’s awesome that a song that started out with the title “Fear” was transformed into the the chart-topper called “Voice of Truth,” once again disproving Satan’s lies, in this case, that Mark would never be able to sing or write music, and once again giving faith to all of us who hear so that we can trust God to do the same in us, too.

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He’s holding out His hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. “Boy, you’ll never win!”
“You’ll never win!”

CHORUS:
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

(from “The Voice of Truth,” by Mark Hall and Steven Curtis Chapman)

Don’t give in to the lies of Satan, keep filling yourself with the Voice of Truth!

If you’d like some encouragement on a regular basis to keep listening to God’s “Voice of Truth,” I hope you’ll check out our new online Bible study at The Ranch, which I describe below, along with some other cool new things we’re planning down the road.


New Online Bible Study

Exodus StudyI’d like to invite you to join me for a free, video-based Bible study here on The Ranch website. It’s called Exodus: Lessons In Freedom and the purpose is to help you to get free, stay free and set others free.

The beauty of this study is that you can be involved in this study as much or as little as you’d like. Every Friday morning, I’ll be posting a new, half-hour video on The Ranch website that you can watch anytime on your own, or just read the transcript if you don’t have the time or capability to watch the video. Then, if you’d like to go deeper and interact with me or others around the world who are also doing the study, you can join us on the Discussion Board at The Ranch, or join us for one of our live chats during the week. I’m leading a live discussion group for men on Sunday nights from 7-8:30 pm Central Time, Greg Potzer (creator of “This Day’s Thought” at thisdaysthought.org) will be leading a co-ed discussion group on Wednesday mornings from 7-8:30 am Central Time, and Dwan Avent (a ministry volunteer for The Ranch) will be leading a women’s discussion group on Saturday mornings from 9-10:30 am Central Time.

The study itself grew out of my own personal quiet time with the Lord during the 40-day fast I undertook to pray about the next steps for my own ministry. During this extended time of prayer and fasting, I was reading the book of Exodus, trying to learn from God’s interaction with Moses how He was able to free hundreds of thousands of people. Every day, God put a lesson on my heart that I could apply to my own situation. As I’ve put those lessons into practice over the past year, I’ve found that they worked for me just like they worked for Moses almost 3,000 years ago! God seems to have all the best ideas!

I’d love to share with you what I’ve learned, as I believe these truths apply to anyone who wants to learn how to get free, stay free and set others free. Each half-hour video contains a practical lesson from God’s Word, a time of worship, and a time of intimate discussions with others. I think you’ll find it a fun time of study, fellowship and worship.

Like everything else on The Ranch website, there is no charge to you to watch the lessons or take part in the discussions. Each lesson stands on its own, so you don’t have to watch every lesson to get something out of it (although I’d love for you to join us for the entire series).

You can watch the first lesson this week, which tells how we get into bondage in the first place, then hopefully you’ll join us for the rest! The live discussion groups start the week of May 15th, but feel free to drop in anytime. You can take a look at the first lesson here.

Hope you’ll join us for this cool new study!


A Ranch Retreat?

TrailsWould you be interested in coming to a Ranch Retreat this fall? We’re checking on the details of this possibility now, and it would be great to have your input before we get too far along. Mainly, we’d like to know if you, or maybe your family would like to come for a weekend getaway here in Illinois this coming September/October 2005. The fall leaves should be beautiful that time of year, and the weather should be great for hiking during the day and bonfires at night.

We’re thinking of reserving several rooms or cabins at a retreat setting for a Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday morning event. There would be time to hear encouraging messages from myself and other speakers, time for worshipping together with some inspiring worship leaders, and plenty of free time to take a walk, hear from God or interact with others.

I’d love to make this happen, but first I need to know if anyone would actually come! If you’re interested, would you mind sending me an email to let me know? Thanks!


Missions Trip to Africa

Map of AfricaLastly, I’d like to ask you if you could help us out.I’ve been praying for several years that God would raise up a missions opportunity for my family and our ministry to practically help others around the world, and Lana has had a lifelong dream of doing something to help with orphans in Africa.

I believe our opportunity has come. Lana and I, along with our two oldest children, Karis and Lucas, are planning to take a short-term missions trip to Africa sometime within the next year. We’re planning to go with a new organization called Dream For Africa, headed by Bruce Wilkinson (author of “The Prayer of Jabez,” among other things). Our trip would involve going with a team of people to help plant individual gardens for families and orphans throughout South Africa. They are trying to recruit 10,000 volunteers to help plant hundreds of thousands of these “Never Ending Gardens” in various African countries.

We would like to be at least 4 of those 10,000 volunteers. I’ll be talking more about this in the future (maybe it’s a trip you’d even consider taking with us?), but for now, we’d like to begin raising our funds to go. Would you consider making a special donation towards this trip for us? Initially, we need to make a $100 deposit for each of us in order to get the ball rolling. Would you like to help us make that first deposit for one, two, three or all four of us? Eventually we’ll need to raise $3,000 each for this trip. In some ways, that is a huge amount of money, but in other ways, I feel it is just the beginning of what God wants to do, and is doing, to mobilize people to help with this epidemic. The sooner we raise the money, the sooner we’ll be able to go, but our current target is to raise the funds in time for a trip scheduled for March of 2006.

If you’d like to help us with our initial deposit of $100 each, or give towards our total goal, you can see how to make a donation on our website.

Please specify that your donation is for us to go on our Africa trip. For more information about Dream for Africa (now Heart for Africa) and their trips, visit:

http://heartforafrica.org


Closing Prayer

I’d love if you could take a minute to pray with us right now.

Father,

  • Thank You for being for us, and for speaking into our lives with Your Voice of Truth,
  • Thank You for those who have helped us to create the new Exodus study to encourage people in their faith on a weekly basis,
  • And thank You for opportunities to serve You and make a difference in the world.

Father,

  • We ask that You would draw many to take part in our new online study of the book of Exodus, to help them join the study so they can get free, stay free and set others free.
  • That You would guide us as we plan for a possible fall retreat and a missions trip to Africa,
  • And that You would help even more people to find their way to The Ranch so they can find their way to You.

We pray this all in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thanks for your prayers!

Sincerely,
Eric Elder

The Ranch Fellowship is a non-profit 501(c)(3) religious organization whose purpose is to share the message of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Click here to read more about our ministry.

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