Ellie Lofaro: You’re not in control of your life, are you? No, we are overcomers and we know, from Proverbs 31, that she laughed at the days to come. Why does she laugh? Has she had a lobotomy?
Ellie: She laughs because the good guys win in the end. She laughs because the King is coming. She laughs because she lives forever. She lives forever.
End of Preview
John Fuller: Last time on Focus on the Family, we heard some really great encouragement from Ellie Lofaro and we’ve got more to share today. Your host is Focus president Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: Well, Ellie Lofaro is a favorite on this broadcast, so you’ll want to hear this complete message, uh, get the CD or audio download from us. It’s, it’s really going to brighten your day.
John: It will, and we’ve got all the details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or call us, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Ellie is a very insightful Bible teacher and she’s using the Old Testament account of how the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, um, to illustrate some ideas on how we, as Christians, can overcome life’s hardships. And, you know, Jesus told us, “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I’ve overcome the world,” And that’s in John 16:33. And we need to especially remember the first part of that verse, where Jesus said we will have trouble. Being a Christian doesn’t give us a free pass to avoid pain. Instead, we have the comfort of the Lord walking with us through any painful time in our lives.
John: And that is a promise that we can have great assurance in. As we said last time, Ellie Lofaro is the author of several books, uh, she’s a very sought-after speaker for conferences and retreats, and she’s originally from New York City. She and her husband Frank live in Reston, Virginia, and have three grown children. We’re going to roll back a bit for those who missed the program last time and pick up where Ellie pointed out just how important it is to be established in your faith before the hard times come. Here now, Ellie Lofaro speaking at a women’s conference on Focus on the Family.
Ellie: My sister’s neighbor committed suicide. He hung himself by the remote of the garage and my sister is not a Capital C Christian, which is what I call Christians who report for duty every day, and she’s a good woman and I believe that she’s close to asking Jesus into her life. The next time I visited her, the teenage boy, who found his father and let him down from the ceiling, was out in the street just mechanically bouncing the ball, bouncing the ball, shooting, bouncing, bouncing, shooting, and I said, “Michelle, have you been over there?” She goes, “Well, no, I, I took a casserole when it first happened, but I haven’t been back. I don’t even … I wouldn’t know what to say.”
If you’re a Christian, you need to sit on the end of that hospital bed with more than, “Good luck. Hang in there.” If you’re a Christian, you need to have something to say at the cemetery when the casket is lowered. We are overcomers. We are women of faith. We are women of substance. It is not, “Hang in there. Do your best. Good luck. Come what may.” He is God. We will live forever. We will meet again. That is a promise. I’m not going six feet under. It’s not going to bite the dust. I’m going to live and rule and reign. What does that mean? I have no idea. I can’t wait. I’m going to rule and reign in heaven-
Ellie: … praising him for all eternity. We have answers. Why are people breaking down? Why are half the marriages not making it? Why do people end up hating the children that they gave birth to and vice versa? Why do families stop talking for so many years? ‘Cause we’re breaking down. You don’t take a Mercedes to a Ford dealer. You don’t take a human to Tony Robbins.
Ellie: Where do we get our truth from? Where do you get your opinions from? Are you embarrassed to say what you think? Do you find yourself being quiet because you don’t know what it says? Religion is personal. You know why? ‘Cause you don’t know much, so it’s so personal. No way. When I was in love with Frank, I told everybody. When I had kids, I showed everybody. If Jesus lives with me, you’re going to know it. How strange it would be if I was a Christian and nobody knew it. I don’t want to go to heaven some day and wait on the judgment line and have somebody say to me, “You’re a Christian?”
Ellie: You were in the next cubicle eight years, you didn’t say anything. We stood on that soccer field 46 times, you didn’t say anything. How could you not say anything? How could you not? If I had a cure to a disease and didn’t share it, what am I? If I have the firetruck and the house is on fire and I don’t show up, what am I? If you know how to live forever, how to have joy and peace and patience and abundant life and you don’t tell anybody … when did we get so polite? Hey, in the old neighborhood, the aunts used to call when there was a sale on tomatoes.
Ellie: You don’t want to tell people about this? The phone is used for a lot of garbage. You don’t want to use the phone for this? Preparation, you must be prepared and you must know the word. God did not leave us to dangle in the dark. He’s not a sadist in the sky waiting to hit you with a rubber band or a disease. He did leave directions. He did leave instructions. Taxes, sex, mother-in-laws, it’s all in here.
Ellie: I love my mother-in-law. She gave me Frank. Some days, I’d like to return the gift.
Ellie: Sorry, sorry. All right. In Joshua 3, it says, in verse four, “You’re going to move out behind the ark and follow it and you will know which way to go. You haven’t been this way before.” Many times in your life, you say, “God, I haven’t been this way before. I haven’t had a child. I haven’t had a sickness. I haven’t had a mother with Alzheimer’s before. I haven’t had my husband have an affair before. I haven’t had this situation. I haven’t had my best friend stab me in the back. I haven’t been this way before,” and God says, “Follow me. Follow me because then you will know which way to go. You’ll know how to act. You’ll know what to say. You’ll know how to behave because you haven’t been this way before.”
Verse five, “Consecrate yourselves.” There has to be some sense of consecration. If you are not changed from when you were a nonbeliever, you’re not a believer. You’re not a Christian ’cause you grew up in any church. I’m not a car ’cause I’m in a garage, I’m not a bagel ’cause I’m in a bakery, and you’re not a Christian ’cause you’re in a pew. When I got engaged to Frank, Grandma said, “Ah, is he a Christian boy?” She didn’t mean does he love Jesus, she meant is he not Jewish?
Ellie: And when you read about the wars and the Christians killing this one in Northern Ireland, those are not Capital C Christians, those are delineations that man has put on for socioeconomic reasons. We would love so easily to make the Christians in one group and the Muslims in the other and the Jews in the other. A Capital C Christian knows that she knows that she knows that she’s saved because she’s so wonderful. No.
Ellie: She knows that she’s saved because she’s so ri- rich and wealthy and she’s really helped out a church. No. She knows that she’s saved because she’s jumped through all the right hoops and, when she was married, she was a virgin. No.
Ellie: She is saved because God put skin on and came to Earth and hung on a cross and let the blood drip down and she’s washed white, clean. Anything she’s ever done is not only forgiven, it’s forgotten. How does He do that? I have no idea, but I’m so happy.
Ellie: Forgotten. We must prepare ourselves. Next one, separation. Now, listen, I cannot stand separatist Christianity. It bothers me. If you only have Christians in your life, something’s wrong. We moved to Virginia, my husband worked for a Christian ministry, we put our kids in a Christian school, I was a Christian speaker, we were at a Christian church, we had Christian friends, and I said, “Not good,” because your world becomes this little bubble and it’s important to be with people who don’t look like you, who don’t smell like you, who don’t talk like you. I’m not saying for you to hang with old friends with bad habits, but I’m saying take those friends along with you where you’re going. Make sure that you don’t end all those relationships. If we’re holier than thou, we’re not going to affect anybody. Jesus didn’t win converts by being divisive and derisive and derogatory. He won converts by saying, “Hey, let’s have lunch. Come on down from that tree. Hey, hang out with me. Reputation, who cares?” It was mercy and goodness and kindness. Mother Teresa said that, if you’re judging people, you cannot love them. There’s no time. Separation is important as far as some sense of that you must make sure that you are not acting like the world anymore. You’re not watching that garbage anymore. You’re not reading that smut anymore. Your mouth has cleaned up. Perfectly? No. None of us are. But are we getting there? Yes. Am I better Christian than a year ago, five years ago? Yes. Do I hope to show improvement six months from now? Yes.
John: You’re listening to Ellie Lofaro on today’s episode of Focus on the Family and this reminder that we have a CD of this entire presentation, uh, both last time and today, and we’re making that available to you when you make a generous donation of any amount. You can do that when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s go ahead and hear more now from Ellie Lofaro.
Ellie: At the end of the first millennium, there were monks called pillar people and they decided that, not to sin, they would live up on top of pillars, plateaus in the mountainsides, and rocks. They’d bring enough, uh, provisions for six months or so and their friends would come up and bring a few more. So they couldn’t sin, they couldn’t talk, they couldn’t get in trouble. Henry Jowett said this, “It is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows by the cultivation of an insignificant life. Indeed, if a person’s ambition is to avoid trouble, the recipe is simple, shed your ambitions, cut the wings of every purpose, and seek a little life with a few purposes, a few relations, and a few contacts. If you want to get through the world with the smallest trouble, reduce yourself to the smallest compass.” Tiny souls can dodge through life. Bigger souls are blocked on every side. As soon as a person enlarges his or her life, resistances are multiplied. If you are petty and selfish and just caring about yourself, you’ll have no trouble. If you are interested in the agenda of Christ, your suffering will be increased on every side. My next book is going to be called God Is Good, People Rot.
Ellie: Not really, but I think it’s a good title.
Ellie: People are disappointing. People break your heart. They let you down. Where did you think you were going to find the perfect person? His name is Jesus. Certainly not in, in a spouse, for those of you that are married. Husbands make lousy saviors.
Ellie: Frank is not the center of my world. He’s so relieved.
Ellie: All those love songs, you know, that you’re the center of my life and, with you, I’m born again and, baby, you’re everything, that lasts a week.
Ellie: There must be some separatism. There must be some separation so that you know, you know what, I can love them, I can pray for them, but I’m not them anymore. It is so powerful to see the women in my neighborhood Bible study who are saying … I didn’t have to say to them, “Stop this, stop that, stop this, stop that.” They say to me slowly, you know, “Ellie, I’m not so comfortable anymore with that group or with that humor. I’m not so comfortable anymore with that TV on in my house.” It is so hard, isn’t it, ladies? Listen, you’re the keeper of the gate. Frank works hard and long. He flies out of the country sometimes. I am watching what goes on in the house. That’s my job. I run the house. I’m a domestic engineer-
Ellie: … and I’m trying to do a good job of it, but it’s not easy, and my kids are sharp and they’re cultured and they want to do things and they want to see things. I love the story of the three teenage children that went to their Christian father and said, “Daddy, please, we know you have a strict rule about R-rated movies, but, please, just, Daddy, this once. Sit down, Dad, can we talk to you?” They were so intense. He said, “Sure, I’ll sit down.” “Dad, listen, this new movie, it’s just really great and there’s pros and cons, but, Dad, there’s just a couple of cons. There’s a couple of curses, Dad, but we asked some people at church who said not too many curses, not too bad.”
Ellie: “And, Dad, there’s a sex scene, but it’s not right on the screen, it’s kind of like suggested off-screen. That’s about it. But, Dad, the pros, it’s the best actors and actresses in Hollywood. It’s a great cast. There’s a great storyline. There’s a great plot, Dad. There’s like, uh, a redemption scene at the end. Oh, and, Dad, there’s a lot of special effects. It’s just unbelievable. And, Dad, we don’t want to feel like nerds. Please, Dad, reconsider, just this one movie.” He says, “You guys really thought a lot about this. Give me a day.” They left the room, those three teenagers, high fiving each other.
Ellie: “We got him now.” Next night, they came back in and they said, “Well, Dad, what do you think?” He said, “You know, I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’m going to let you see that movie, but, first, you have to have one of my brownies.” They turned over and on the coffee table was a plate of freshly baked brownies. And the father said, “You know what? Those brownies, they’re, they’re special, but they’ve got a couple of pros and cons.”
Ellie: “Let me tell you the pros. These brownies have been made with the most choice ingredients, the freshest, freshest chocolate, the most premium walnuts. These brownies have frosting on them. These brownies were made by your father’s own loving hands. These brownies are moist beyond moist. There’s only one con. I mixed in some dog poop.”
Ellie: “I baked it at 350. I think I killed the bacteria.”
Ellie: Teenagers left the room.
Ellie: It is hard work being the keeper of the gate, but you cannot, you cannot consider yourself separated if you’re doing the same old, same old. Now listen to me, those of you who have husbands that deal with issues of pornography and other such things, I’m not suggesting that you have control over everything in your house, but you have control over many things. The people that you gave birth to should not be ordering you around. You are in charge of your home and if …
Ellie:… if you need to find a counselor, if you need to find a pastor, if you need to dial 1-800-A-FAMILY, you do it and you take back those reins. Submissive does not mean subservient. We’re not doormats unless we lay down, ladies.
Audience: That’s right.
Ellie: I, my heart is brokenhearted for the women who just feel like they’re prisoners in their own home. When did that happen? That’s not God’s way. We must be separated, but it has to be an issue of a holiness. There has to be some sense where you are different, you are different. Paris is 15. She’s in honors freshman English. I taught English for 10 years. I don’t care about my kids’ homework. I don’t get involved with it. I say to my, to them, when they ask for help, “I did fifth grade. I was … I did very well.”
Ellie: “I, now you’re in fifth grade. Good luck,” you know.
Ellie: What is it these days? We’re doing our kids’ homework. Have you been to these science project fairs? The kids didn’t do the projects.
Ellie: What a joke. I want to take the projects to the parking lot afterwards and swap for next year. I don’t think that’s Christian, huh?
Ellie: But I really don’t get into it because, I think, I was a teacher, I’m just kind of laissez-faire about it. My husband, on the other hand, is like a lieutenant colonel. He wants the first grader to do rough drafts.
Ellie: Frank, go easy on them. When my son got a C, he said, “You’ll be in the street. You’ll be homeless.” You know, he’s making some connection between the C and not making it in life. It’s like, “Frank, take it easy. Don’t be so hard on him, honey.”
John: This is Focus on the Family and, today, we’re hearing from Ellie Lofaro and we have a CD of this entire presentation available. Call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Ellie: There has to be a sense, there has to be a sense that we are separated. My daughter has a wildly liberal English teacher with wild ideas, with wild philosophies, and she keeps picking books that are not the classics and it’s really killing me ’cause I want to tell her what books to teach and, okay, be quiet, you’re the mother, don’t get involved. So I don’t say anything, but she comes back with this mumbo-jumbo, globbly gooky book on the all the philosophies, and one chapter is about how the words of Jesus really can’t be substantiated, so she had to refute that, and I decided to get involved.
Ellie: We spent two and a half hours. We talked about the Synoptic Gospels. We talked about Josephus, the Hebrew historian. We talked about all kinds of things. She came back two days later, we got a D.
Ellie: We got a D. And Paris learned about what it is to be separate, what it is to be separate, to stand apart. My daughter thinks I’m so popular because of this Bible study and I say, “You know what, Paris? For every woman sitting in the Bible study, there are two or three of her friends who do not like me.” You will not be patted on the back when you become a Christian. You will not be high-fived every time you do the right thing. You’re a Christian? You follow Jesus? They killed him. What did you think would happen to you? Life is not easy. God promises trouble. There will be a cross. There will be burdens. Whether you have faith or you don’t have faith, life has trouble. I want to go through life with faith. Every problem makes me bitter or better, bitter or better.
There’s preparation and there’s separation and there’s anticipation. Three and 12, “Now then, take for yourselves 12 men from the top tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe, I shall come when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark, when they’re in the water.” There’s anticipation there. Verse 14, “So it came that when they set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priest, they followed me.” There’s anticipation. There’s excitement. Have you been anticipating something? There’s so mu- … for this day. Dorothy and I spoke just a little bit six months ago, a year ago, and then, when the months came closer, we, we talked more. I got her to promise me cannolis.
Ellie: There’s anticipation and I get excited. I get excited to come to these events. And what a privilege to be able to just come and address you and be an encourager, and I hope that you were excited about today and I hope that you weren’t just spending a little money to get away on a Saturday. There’s excitement because we’re going to meet God here. We’re going to be with other women. We’re going to come together. We’re going to have unity and solidarity. We’re going to hear from the word. We’re going to be encouraged in our hearts. We’re going to have some laughter. There’s anticipation. The Jews were told to anticipate, “Get ready, something great’s going to happen. You’re going to get in the river,” and, when they get in the river, the water’ll be stopped. I love that. I like the story of the senior woman who was passing slowly with a sickness and she called on her pastor. She was single. She never had children. She wanted to review her funeral plans, and she told him everything she wanted, the dress, and, and her Bible and she wanted to hold that and she wanted to be, uh, in a certain way in the coffin and she wanted certain music played. And, before he left, she said, “One more thing, pastor.” “Yes. What is it?” “I want to have, uh, a fork in my right hand.” He said, “A fork?” And she said, “Yes, I, I grew up in the, in the South and, on Sundays, it was a long way to church. We stayed there all day. We had church and then we had picnic and we had potluck and then we had church at night. And, after lunch, when the, when the men said, ‘Keep the fork, keep your fork,’ it meant something really good was coming, not Jello or pudding, but German chocolate cake-”
Ellie: “… apple pie. I want people to see the fork there and I want them to say, ‘What’s with the fork?’ And I want you to tell them, pastor, that something better is coming, something good is coming,” anticipation, anticipation. The senior citizens’ home that I visit, the Christian women in their eighties and nineties visit non-Christians in their sixties and seventies, and you would not believe that there’s that age difference. They look the same age because one’s bitter and one’s better. One is waiting to die. One is angry at the world. One feels like nobody’s thanked her. One feels like she’s never gotten her day in the sun, her ship’s never come in. And one feels, ha, she has every promise given to her and that she has eternity to enjoy them. One knows that she’ll see her mother again, her baby again, her best friend again. One is excited.
John: What a beautiful reminder from Ellie Lofaro today on Focus on the Family about the eternal promises of God. And I so appreciated her picture there, her word picture. She wrapped up that message explaining the confidence that these senior saints have as they anticipate heaven.
Jim: Yeah. You know, John, a lot of those senior saints, uh, volunteer here at Focus on the Family and we really enjoy getting to know them. They’re a blessing to all of us. Uh, they have such wisdom and maturity. Uh, many have been around the world as missionaries and they have wonderful (laughs) stories to share as well.
Jim: Let me encourage you, befriend a senior saint today.
John: And we’ve certainly been able to do that in our own lives. Uh, you know, before the pandemic hit, my wife Dena was able to visit her mom in an assisted living facility every day and she got to know all the ladies around her mom by name. They knew her. They’d often share a story and it was really, really nice, kind of an unanticipated ministry field, um, and everybody was benefiting from that time of visiting. And then, uh, you know, Jim, I’m reflecting on Ellie’s message, thinking there might be somebody listening who is wondering, “Well, my circumstances are just too extreme. There’s just too much negative stuff going on. I, I can’t overcome it all. I need help.” What advice do you have for them?
Jim: Well, I’d say call us. Uh, we are here to meet those needs. We’re staffed, uh, with caring Christian counselors who are here every day to spend some time on the phone with you, pray with you, uh, help you find a like-minded counselor in your own area to follow up with. Just give us a call during business hours, uh, leave your name and number and a counselor will call you back as soon as they can. It, it just depends on how many calls we’re getting in a given day. But, please, let us provide that listening ear. It would be our privilege. Uh, in fact, here’s a great success story we recently received from Anna, “My son’s unruly behavior,” she said, “made my husband and I feel like failures as parents and, instead of working together as a team, we would often blame each other and, frankly, we were headed for divorce. All that changed when I had a conversation with one of your counselors. My husband and I put into practice the suggestions that the counselor made, even better, we asked the Lord for help with our marriage and our parenting efforts and became unified in our approach. Our son is doing so much better and there’s a greater sense of calm in our family, and our extended family noticed too. When they asked what happened, we simply said, ‘Thank God and Focus on the Family.’”
John: Oh, that’s a really great story and, when extended family members notice-
John: … there’s something special going on (laughs) and-
Jim: So true.
John: … it’s a terrific endorsement of the work our counseling team does every day.
Jim: Yeah, and we offer these counseling services for free as part of our ministry outreach to families and that’s thanks to all of you who donate regularly to Focus on the Family. Uh, simply put, we couldn’t do it without you. We need your partnership to help families thrive in Christ and, if you can give today with a donation of any amount, we’d be happy to send you a CD of this two-part message from Ellie Lofaro, uh, so that you can listen again or share it with a friend who might be struggling and need some encouragement.
John: So donate and request the CD when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459, or find us at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And, as Jim said, call us if you’d like to have a call back from one of our caring Christian counselors. That number again, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Be sure to join us next time as we have practical advice to instill a love of the Bible in your children one day at a time.
Danika Cooley: Well, I think that our kids are mirrors of us. If, if you notice, if a parent loves baseball, the kids usually grow up to love baseball, so I think we communicate to our kids how important and wonderful God’s word is, a lot of times, by the way that we respond to it. So when they’re little, we can read using a puppet or- … different voices. I mean, we can make it fun and exciting.
End of Teaser