This Day’s Thought from The Ranch- Special Note


This Day's Thought from The Ranch

Dear Subscribers to This Day’s Thought from The Ranch,

We enter this month of November where we are excited to share our ministry vision and offer an opportunity to help support our ministry efforts.

As in years past, we have chosen this month of thanksgiving to address our needs in operating these ministries, The Ranch and This Day’s Thought, now working in unison to more effectively reach and ministry to our many members from all corners of the world.

Our joint ministry now offers even more in the way of prayer group interaction, printed and audio resources, archived Christian content and materials, variety of receiving methods for each day’s messages and other improvements & enhancements, all of which are dedicated to helping in people’s individual and community walks with the Lord.

In order to maintain these various aspects our ministry work, we require the financial resources to administer and operate as we do. Thus, we would like to share this day and a few additional times this month, the opportunity to assist the ministry with your financial support. If you feel so led, you may visit the link below in order to make a donation.

We always prayerfully strive to remain proper stewards of all resources we are blessed with. Eric and Greg endeavor to work as effectively and wisely as possible in the management of our time and monetary resources, so we march forward in our mission to touch as many people as we can, with our Christian “seeds for the day,” our weekly Sermons, and all our other available materials, but to do so in a way that pleases the Lord and is honoring to you, our supporting membership, in our thriftiness and proper allocation of such donations.

Your giving here allows us to spend more needed time and energy to all this work and also to meet our needs for equipment and such other requirements needed to operate on a daily, monthly and annual basis. One such example is Greg’s need for a new computer to replace the aging one he is currently using. All donations are helpful and so appreciated, particularly those monthly commitments and pledges as they help so much in our overall planning and ministry execution.

Thank you for your time and consideration, including all your past support over these many years together, and we look forward to entering this next new year together, as we celebrate our commitment and worship and joy, in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Most Sincerely, Greg and Eric for This Day’s Thought and The Ranch

To Make a Donation, please visit:
https://theranch.org/make-a-donation/

(And, as a thank-you for your donation of any amount, we’d be glad to send you a gift of your choice from our bookstore, which features dozens of inspirational books, CD’s and DVD’s produced and created right here at The Ranch.)

The Ranch Bookstore



Night of Worship at The Ranch!

Hi, this is Eric Elder with a special invitation for you to join us for a Night of Worship here at my home in Illinois this coming weekend.  Since I launched The Ranch website for the first time 15 years ago, I’ve wanted to host an annual retreat for anyone who wanted to come join us live, in person, for a time of worship, prayer and inspiration.

As a step in that direction, Greg Potzer and I are going to host a “Night of Worship at The Ranch” here this Saturday night, October 12th.  Greg runs This Day’s Thought and selects our daily thoughts, Bible verses and occasional smiles that keep us all going every day, and he’ll be driving here from his home in Colorado.  My good friend and worship leader, Kent Sanders (www.artistssuitcase.com), will be coming up from Saint Louis to lead us in a time of worship, and Greg and I will be sharing some thoughts from our hearts with you during the night as well.

We’d love to have you join us!  This will be an intimate night of worship and right now it looks like the weather will be perfect for a bonfire outside.  Bring your own lawn chairs with you and, optionally, a snack to share if you’d like (not necessary at all… just come!)

It’s beautiful here in Illinois in the fall, with wide open spaces, and a view of the sky in every direction for miles and miles.  All of the pictures on our new Ranch website were taken right here at our home.

We’ll be gathering here for snacks and light refreshments anytime after 5 pm, with our time of worship starting at 7.  Again, that’s this Saturday, October 12th (Columbus Day Weekend here in the U.S., giving you perhaps a little extra travel time to get here and home again!)

Our address is 25615 E 3000 North Rd, Chenoa, IL 61726, and there’s a Super 8 hotel just 3 miles away in our little town of Chenoa (or there are many other hotels, and things to do for the weekend, about 25 miles away in the much larger twin cities of Bloomington/Normal).

If you’re flying, you can fly into the Bloomington (Illinois) airport (BMI) which is closest to us, or into Chicago O’Hare or Midway airports (ORD or MDW), which are about two hours north of us.

Although I’m sorry that Lana won’t be here in person to meet you, too, her spirit is still alive and well in our home. I know she would be happy for us to meet and share and worship together the God and Savior whom she’s still worshipping every day, in a brand new way.  Join us if you can!

Special Message from Eric of This Day’s Thought from The Ranch


This Day's Thought from The Ranch Logo

3 Special Announcements!
by Eric Elder

Dear Friends,

Hi, this is Eric Elder, and I have 3 Special Announcements I’d like to share with you today!

#1) I’m back!

It’s been 10 months now since my dear wife Lana passed away on November 15, 2012.  Of course, after 28 years of knowing her and 23 years of marriage, I still miss her and think about her every hour of every day.

But I can honestly say that over the past several weeks, I’ve been able to think about her without the searing pain that accompanied my grief for so many of the past 10 months.

What was heart-wrenching for so long has gradually become heart-warming instead, and I’ve been able to truly savor the memories of our life together, without feeling like my heart is being torn apart, over and over again.  God is truly healing and restoring me in ways I never would have thought possible just a few months ago.

In the weeks ahead I’d like to continue the series I began at the beginning of the year called, “How to Keep Trusting God Even in the Face of Significant Loss.”  We all face losses of all kinds, all the time–whether it’s the loss of a job, the loss of health, the loss of finances, or, as in my case, the loss of a loved one–and there are some practical steps we can take to help ourselves get through those losses without losing our faith.

If you missed the first three parts, you can read them herehere and here.  I’m looking forward to sharing a few more parts with you in the weeks ahead, as they sum up some of the most significant lessons God has taught me over my lifetime of trusting Him.

#2) We have a new website! (And with it, a new way of sending out our daily messages.) 

This is not just a cosmetic change, as we’ve given The Ranch more than just a facelift.  We’ve rebuilt it from the ground up, merging the websites for both This Day’s Thought and The Ranch together, so we can reach out and minister to even more people every day.

You may not know this, but in addition to creating much of the content on The Ranch, I’m also the “webmaster” of the website, having built one of the first corporate websites for a Fortune 10 corporation prior to going into full-time ministry 17 years ago.  So over the years, I’ve always designed and built my own websites for ministry as well.

As Lana was going through her final weeks of cancer, the computers that run our websites began to fail, too, and there was nothing I could do to fix them.  On the day of her funeral, our computers crashed entirely.  For the next week, we were completely offline.

Our silence that week was more than just for mourning, but we were simply unable to get any messages out at all.  In the weeks that followed, I was able to repair the computers enough so Greg Potzer–who selects the daily quotes, Bible verses and smiles that you read each day–could keep sending out the daily messages, and then selecting sermons on the weekends when I was unable to share.

(I’d like to commend Greg on so many fronts!  He has been a tremendous partner in ministry and a terrific support through all of this, keeping the public side of our ministry running every day, 6 days a week, for the past 10 months–which is no small feat as we now reach over 40,000 subscribers from over 160 countries!)

We’ll be sharing more with you about some of the unique features of our new website in the days ahead, but you can take a sneak peak at it now at theranch.org.  You can listen to music, read a message, watch a video, ask for prayer, and all kinds of neat ways to give you a boost in your faith.

We’ll also be asking you to do something we’ve never had to ask you to do before, and that’s to resubscribe to our mailing list so that you can continue receiving these messages.  You don’t have to do it today, as we’ll be still using our old mailing system for a few more weeks.

But I wanted to let you know today, because you can go ahead and sign up today if you want when you visit the new website.  Just click the link on the new website (or click the link right here) that says “Click here to subscribe to This Day’s Thought from The Ranch by e-mail,” then follow the prompts to complete your new subscription.

I’m very excited about the new site, and hope you love it as much as I do!  Let us know what you think!  (And if you notice anything that’s not working, let us know that, too, as we’d like to fix it right away.)

#3) For our third announcement, I’d like to invite you to come join us for a “Night of Worship at The Ranch!”

Since I launched The Ranch website for the first time 15 years ago, I’ve always wanted to host an annual retreat for anyone who wanted to come join us live, in person, for a time of worship, prayer and inspiration.

As a step in that direction, Greg and I are going to host a Night of Worship here in Illinois on the night of Saturday, October 12th (Columbus Day Weekend).  Greg will be driving here from his home in Colorado, and we’d love to have you join us, too.  My good friend and worship leader, Kent Sanders, will be coming up from Saint Louis to lead us in worship, and Greg and I will be sharing some thoughts with you during the night as well.

We’d love to have you join us and, if we haven’t met you yet, to have the chance to meet you in person.  This will be an intimate night of worship here in my own home, and if the weather’s nice, we’ll have a bonfire outside.

It’s beautiful here in Illinois in the fall, with wide open spaces, and a view of the sky in every direction for miles and miles, right in the heart of the great midwest.  All of the pictures on our new Ranch website were taken right here at our home.

We’ll be gathering here on October 12th for snacks and light refreshments anytime after 5 pm, with worship starting at 7.

Our address is 25615 E 3000 North Rd, Chenoa, IL 61726, and there’s a Super 8 hotel just 3 miles away in our little town of Chenoa (or there are many other hotels and things to do about 25 miles away in the much larger twin cities of Bloomington/Normal.)

If you’re flying, you can fly into the Bloomington (Illinois) airport (BMI), or into Chicago O’Hare or Midway airports (ORD or MDW), which are about two hours north of us.

Although I’m sorry that Lana won’t be here in person to meet you, too, her spirit is still alive and well in our home.  I know she would be happy for us to meet and share and worship together the God and Savior whom she’s still worshipping every day, in a brand new way.

Before I close, I’d like to draw your attention to one more thing.

Another good friend and filmmaker, Russell Pond, filmed the memorial service held in Lana’s honor on November 20, 2012.

While I wouldn’t normally think of encouraging someone to watch a funeral service to find inspiration and hope for their lives, I’ve had so many people tell me that’s just what happened for them when they watched it, that I wanted to make it available to anyone who wants to see it.

You can watch it online here, but I know some people can’t watch it online because of the cost or bandwidth constraints of their Internet connection, and I know others who would simply like to have a copy for their own memories of Lana.

So with Russ’s kind permission, I’ve put the entire 90-minute service onto a DVD called, “To Lana, With Love.”  I’d be glad to send it to you for a donation of any size to our ministry (both to help us in our work and to help offset the costs of printing and shipping it to you).  This video also features the short film, “Eric’s Hope,” made by our new friends at Neuvelle Vie (New Life), a project to give hope to others facing loss.  (Click here to request a copy.)

I’ve even heard from one couple who said they were so inspired by watching the service online that they made it required viewing for another couple they were counseling who were having trouble in their marriage, to give them hope for what God can do in our lives and relationships if we let Him.

It’s amazing to me that God can use even our greatest tragedies to bring hope and healing to others.  Thank You, Jesus!

And thank YOU again for your prayers, your notes of encouragement, and your support in so many practical ways.  You have sustained me when I needed it, and I hope to be able to return the favor in the days ahead.

So check out our new website–and come visit us if you can on October 12th!

With Love,
Eric Elder
www.theranch.org


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As a thank-you for your donation of any size to our ministry, we’d be glad to send you our DVD, “To Lana, With Love,” featuring the Celebration of the Life of Lana Elder, who passed away on November 15th, 2012.  Lana was the wife of Eric Elder and co-founder of The Ranch. “To Lana, With Love” also includes the short inspirational video, “Eric’s Hope,” to give hope and encouragement to others facing loss.
Click here to learn more or to make a donation.

To Lana, With Love

Welcome to The Ranch!

Welcome to The Ranch, a spiritual retreat center, right here on the Internet.

If you’re tired, worn out, or need a boost in your faith, then you’ve come to the right place. This is a place where you can unwind, relax, and spend some time with God.

You can listen to music to clear your mind, read a message to stir your soul, or ask for prayer to touch your life.

And for a daily dose of encouragement, we hope you’ll sign up for “This Day’s Thought.”  Every weekday we’ll send you an inspirational Christian quote, Bible verse, and occasional smile.  Then every weekend, we’ll send you an inspirational message to give you a boost in your faith.

Through it all, we hope to encourage you that God is still here, He’s still alive and He hasn’t forgotten you.

We’re glad you came to The Ranch.  We think you will be, too.

Most sincerely,
Eric Elder, Greg Potzer, and the volunteers here at The Ranch

Having Faith in the Resurrection, by Eric Elder…

Part 3 of “How To Keep Trusting God, Even In The Face Of Significant Loss”

Happy Easter from our house to yours!  We could all use a dose of faith, and Easter Sunday is a great day to get one.  If you’re struggling with trusting God, even in the face of significant loss, this message is for you.  (If you missed the first two parts, you can read them here and here.)

It’s been almost five months since we took this picture of me and my six kids, not knowing that just two weeks later my wife Lana would pass on to be with the Lord (she was inside resting when this picture was taken, as we were in the middle of a 10-hour filming session for a project to give hope to families facing loss).  Since that day, we’ve had to celebrate seven major holidays without our beloved Lana:  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, two birthdays, and now Easter.

Each of these “firsts” without her this year could have easily overwhelmed me with grief if it weren’t for my faith in Jesus Christ and the prayers of people like you.

But when Christmas rolled around, God reminded me why we celebrate the holiday at all:  Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the baby who would one day defeat death forever!  While celebrating Christmas was still hard without Lana, God’s reminder of the reason we were celebrating helped me keep a balanced perspective on her life and death…and her new life with Him.

The same holds true for Easter.  While there’s no doubt it’s been hard to go through our Easter traditions this year without Lana, God keeps reminding me of the purpose of this holiday, too.  Easter is the day we remember that Jesus rose from the dead, and because He rose from the dead, we can be assured that all of us who have put our faith in Him will be raised from the dead, too, including my dear wife Lana.  Without Lana here with me this week, it’s already been a different kind of holiday.  I found myself videotaping the kids during an Easter egg hunt so that I could come home and show her the tape, only to remember that she wouldn’t be home when I got there.  But then God reminded me that it’s quite likely that Lana’s not missing a thing.  The Bible says that “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,” witnesses who have kept their faith to the end, and remind us to do the same.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

As sad as it is that I’m having to celebrate Easter without Lana here with me in the flesh, the truth is that without Jesus, there would be no holiday to celebrate at all, and there would be no hope of Lana being raised from the dead either.  So in the midst of my heartache, God keeps reminding me of the whole truth:  not just the truth that she’s gone, but the truth that she’s gone to be with Jesus, and has been raised to a new life in spectacular glory.  And having that whole truth in mind brings His peace to my heart.  As the Bible says:

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

We do have hope.  True hope.  Not a desperate clinging to the mere idea that maybe there’s some kind of life after this life, but a firm faith in the reality that there really is a heaven, and that Jesus is really there, with my beloved Lana right alongside Him.

I don’t want to try to prove to you today that Jesus rose from the dead, but I would like to remind you of the fact that He did rise from the dead and that His resurrection was witnessed by many here on earth.  Not only that, but there were others in the Bible who were once dead who were resurrected to new life, as well, and even they have appeared to people here on earth, too!

As for Jesus’ resurrection, and His appearance to people on earth, listen to some of these verses from the Bible:

“When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven demons” (Mark 16:9).

“Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country” (Mark 16:12).

“Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” (Mark 16:14).

“Afterward, Jesus appeared again to His disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias” (John 21:1).

“This was now the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples after He was raised from the dead” (John 21:14).

“After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me [Paul]…” (1 Corinthians 15:6-8a).

What’s even more amazing to me, since Lana passed on to be with Jesus, is that I keep reading verses that I’ve read before, but that strike me now in a new light:  that Jesus wasn’t the only one who died and rose again and appeared to people here on earth.  Listen to this!

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit.  At that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people” (Matthew 27:50-53).

Not only had Jesus been raised from the dead, but many others had also been raised as well who appeared to many people in Jerusalem.  Even Peter, James and John saw people raised from the dead while Jesus was still living, when they saw Moses and Elijah standing on the mountaintop, talking with Jesus:

“After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus” (Matthew 17:1-3).

Moses and Elijah were so real to Peter that Peter asked Jesus if he should build a shelter for each one of them, even though they had been dead for thousands of years!  It was a reminder to them, and to me, that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, as Jesus once told the Saducees, the religious leaders who didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead.  Jesus said:

“Now about the dead rising–have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.  You are badly mistaken!” (Mark 12:26-28).

I share all this as a preface to what I’m about to share next.  As with some of the other stories I’ve shared with you recently, I do so with hesitancy as I don’t want you to think I’ve lost my mind.  I’m also not sure what to think of them myself, for I realize I’m still in the midst of grief, and perhaps the grief is clouding how I think and see spiritual things right now.  Then again, perhaps it’s during our most difficult times, when we’re apt to be the closest to God, that we’re best able to see what’s really true!

On New Year’s Eve, I was praying on my knees during a time of worship at a large Christian conference, celebrating the New Year with over 20,000 other believers.  As I knelt there on the floor, I felt as if Lana were leaning down next to me.  She whispered in my ear, as she had done many times before in life:  “I love you, Eric Elder.”   Her voice was as clear and soft and sweet as any time I’d ever heard her say that to me before.  I could almost feel her breath on the side of my face.

The next night I felt her presence again, this time as I lay in bed.  I wrote in my journal the following morning:

“Father, thank You for Lana’s love for me and mine for her.  I miss her Lord.  But how can I be anything but grateful to You for giving her to me to be my wife for so many years.  This morning I woke up and literally felt her arms around me and heard her voice talking to me.  I couldn’t move for several minutes, it was so real, her touch and her words.  I even thought I saw her when I turned my head.  Thank You, Lord, for her continued presence, even if it is in my dreams, or in that state between dreams and wakefulness.  Thank You, Lord, and thank you, Lana.”

I’ve reached up to heaven many times in the last few months and have taken hold of Lana’s arm, only to find the arm of Jesus taking hold of both of us, as He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us.  He promised us that death would not separate us, for we had put our faith in Him.  He promised us that we would live forever, not just at the end of time, but right now, in abundant life.

As Jesus told Martha in the Bible, after her brother Lazarus died

“Your brother will be raised up.”

To which Martha replied:

“I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”

To which Jesus replied:

“You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in Me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in Me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?” (John 11:23-26, MSG).

Martha said she believed it.  Lana said she believed it.  And I can say I believe it, too.

As I shared at the celebration of Lana’s life back in November, a good friend of mine sent me this text that helped me to see the reality of Lana’s new life in heaven:

“It is so hard to be in this place, but it is good to know Lana is seeing our Father and Jesus face to face.  She is touching them and hearing their voices, and talking to them about anything and everything she wants to.  Somehow you, because you are one, are part of that.  It takes my breath away.

When I think about it, really think about it, it takes my breath away, too.

This is the great hope that we have in the resurrection, not only that Jesus was raised from the dead, but that all of us who have put our faith in Him will be raised from the dead as well.

As Jonathan Edwards, the great evangelist, said at the funeral of David Brainerd, the great missionary:

“True saints, when absent from the body, are present with the Lord” (quoting the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:8).

As Jesus Himself said to the thief on the cross who was dying next to Him and who had just put his faith in Jesus:

“I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Jesus really did rise from the dead.  And those who put their faith in Him really will rise from the dead, too.

If you’ve never put your faith in Christ, let me encourage you, as Lana would encourage you, as Jesus Himself encouraged you:  put your faith in Jesus Christ today.  Believe that He died for your sins.  Believe that He’s forgiven you of your sins.  And believe that He will raise you to begin a new life with Him, starting right now and forever.  As the Bible says:

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

As we close, let me share one more picture with you.  This is one that we took later on the same day as the picture above, when Lana came out to join us again for the filming session.  Although her body was weak, her spirit was as strong as ever.

At Christmastime I had a hard time deciding which picture to send out with our Christmas letters.  I couldn’t imagine sending out a Christmas picture from now on without Lana in it.  But when I looked at the picture of just me and the kids, I couldn’t help but be thankful for all the blessings I have in my life because Lana’s been a part of it.  So I eventually decided to send out both.

I share these two pictures today because they remind me that I have a choice to make every day.  I can either look at what I’ve lost and be sad, or I can look at what I’ve been given because Lana’s been a part of my life, and be glad.  It’s the same choice we all have to make, every day.

It’s not a matter of looking at the glass as half-full or half-empty, but trusting God that He will provide us with just what we need when we need it.  Zig Ziglar says He teaches advanced math when he says:

You + God = Enough

As the Bible says:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, KJV).

The last few weeks of Lana’s life she was still helping me edit a book that we had been working on together on the life of Saint Nicholas.  After Lana died, I looked at the edits she had made in the margins of the book.  I used a quote in the book that others have used before that says:

“Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it was beautiful.”

In the margin of the book, Lana had written:  “Amen!”

It was another reminder to me that we really are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses,” including Lana, who are cheering us on.

Yes, I still cry.  But I can smile, too.  That’s the great hope we have because of the resurrection.

I pray the Lord will bless you richly this Easter and in the days ahead.  He really has risen!  He has risen indeed!