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15 entries from February 2015

The Throne of Grace, Part Two

My friends, at the end of my post on Wednesday I said I had another stunning piece of this treasure hunt we are on. Below is a page from my Sanctuary Bible (yes, the very one Abba led me to) and it holds an excerpt from a book titled, Never Alone by David and Teresa Ferguson. Read it and then meet me below this new way to look at our marriages and pray into them.

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First, I want to speak to those of you who are separated and whose spouse has walked away from God. As I've shared in the past, my heart is heavy for you and remains so. My heart and prayers are with you. And today, I want to speak a message to you that I feel Jesus wants you to know more than anything.

Jesus understands your betrayal and rejection better than anyone. Read the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and you will see that Jesus was betrayed and abandoned by those closest to Him. And even in the moment that He bore our sins to death, He felt abandoned by Abba Father. So, my friend, when I say He knows your pain, understand that He KNOWS it intimately as He has lived it. His compassion for you is great. Receive His comfort and peace today, in the mighty and overcoming name of Jesus.

As I read the devotion above for the first time, my spirit stirred dramatically at the thought of loving my spouse as an act of love and worship of Jesus. It makes sense. We've talked about how loving our spouses unconditionally honors God.

But the Fergusons' words took it deeper for me. And it is part of that grace flowing through us to our pre-believers that we've been talking about. I am seeking Jesus for more wisdom and understanding of how I can minister and love my husband and, in turn, minister to our sweet Jesus. Wow, just stunning to think about...

Will you pray this with me?

King Jesus, You are so worthy to receive glory, power, and blessings. Lord, we bless You! As part of Your creation, we declare that we want to bring You the pleasure You deserve. We want to minister to You with loving comfort, attention, acceptance, appreciation, support, encouragement, affection, respect, security, and approval through loving our spouse in this manner. Lord, we are in awe that You are such an intimate part of our mismatched marriage! And we worship You today as the only One worthy to receive glory, honor and praise. In the mighty and compassionate name of Jesus, amen!

Have a wondrous weekend, my friends!
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This IS Grace In Real Life

The following was taken from a post on the 1 Peter 3 Living Group. It's testimony from Pam Anderson. My friends, you will see Grace differently in this. Thanks Pam, Lynn & Dineen and your SUM family.

Hello Everyone, 

God has been doing an amazing work in my home, my husband and my marriage.  Let me begin by saying that the word God gave me for both 2014 & 2015 is GRACE!  I expected a new word for 2015, but that didn’t happen.  Little did I realize what AMAZING things he had planned!  Yes, AMAZING GRACE. 

To make a very long story as short as possible, since October of 2014, Grace has become a staple word in our home.  Even for my husband!  I can’t begin to tell you what a Divine move this.  My husband, Bob, is a very hard, military man (served 32 years).  He was trained to be this way; however, he has a soft heart that he rarely exposes.  That would mean he’d have to be vulnerable, and, well, we know how that is. 

We started having conversations about Grace, what it means, how it transforms.  He’s an author of action-adventure men-type books, and he even has a chapter talking about Grace.  Oh, this only made possible by HIS AMAZING GRACE… 

Then I got Max Lucado’s book, “GRACE” for Christmas.  With the help of this book, God took me to a whole new level. Grace started happening to me in a way I cannot explain (I have chills just thinking about it).  I couldn’t have ever imagined this with my limited human mind and thinking.  It completely changed how I saw my husband. I began giving Grace is a new, fresh and generous way. 

Then in January, a death occurred with one of my husband’s long, lost friends. His friend’s wife.  My husband and he had not spoken for over 20 years.  All this time, my husband harbored anger, guilt and resentment about this, because they had been very close friends.  Jim, his friend, was a very hard man as well.  So when we got the news of Jim’s wife passing away, an amazing feeling came over me.  I knew that God was going to use this to open a door to mend this relationship somehow, and bring forgiveness and Grace where there was guilt, anger, resentment.  I didn’t know how.  My husband decided he wanted to go to the funeral. This was a very hard step for him, as he didn’t know what he was getting into.  And what happened was AMAZING GRACE! 

Jim, the friend, was a totally transformed man. Yes, he had been saved, and Grace overtook him!  The way this impacted my husband, well, there are no words to describe.  He couldn’t believe it.  My husband, prior, had always thought of Christians as weak, but what he saw was Grace.  Something powerful and life changing.  He saw a man who he NEVER, EVER, would have believed would become a Christian, and had.  SUMites, this is the ONLY person in my husband’s life that could affect him this way.  It is so amazing how God works!  

When my husband returned, he was dumfounded and started calling a few of his male friends to tell them about it.  Each one talked about Grace in one way or another; maybe not the exact words, but they described GRACE!  Then I handed the GRACE book (Max Lucado’s book) to my husband and said, “If you want to know what happened to Jim, read this.”  And he has been!  

I can’t believe the change happening in my husband before my very eyes.  GRACE IS HAPPENING!  And Lynn, in regard to your post about praying for your husband differently, that’s what I began doing. I started claiming, believing and thanking God for what I’ve asked Him to do for my husband- as though all my prayers have been answered.  “Thank you Lord that your Grace is transforming my husband before my eyes. Thank you that Your GRACE is turning him upside down and evading his space, and he can’t stop it!  Thank you that GRACE is penetrating his very being—his communications, his actions, his thoughts, his emotions…  Thank you that Your Grace, through the Holy Spirit, is shaking him at his core and softening his heart to You, Lord. Thank you that Your will is being done, here in my home, my marriage, my life and my husband’s life, just as it is in Heaven!  Thank you Father that You are working all things for our good and Your glory!”  And this is what began happening. 

I became so overtaken and impacted by this fresh, new experience of Grace on my life, and seeing how me giving Grace and living Grace, before my husband was making such a difference in our home. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss an opportunity to experience it. So I had a friend of mine who makes bracelets make me a GRACE bracelet (see attached).  It reminds me constantly throughout the day to give GRACE, often, generously and at every opportunity.  Just like Jesus did and DOES for me, daily!  I’m realizing that the degree to which I GIVE GRACE is the degree to which I RECEIVE GRACE.  I can’t explain how powerful and life changing this concept has become in my life. 

Then, on Valentine’s Day, the most amazing thing happened.  My husband and I were going to have a special, relaxed dinner at home.  We were on no timeframe.  And then GRACE appeared!  We had the most amazing conversation about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the transforming power of GRACE.  I gave my testimony, cried.  He heard it, a few tears came to his eyes.  I shared just the appropriate amount, just what God laid on my heart to say. Then, I just let GRACE happen.  I let God chase my husband down with GRACE! 

In conclusion, I need to share this.  Three years ago I took a major leap of faith.  I quit a prestigious job making a six-figure income.  I knew this was what God was telling me to do, to support my husband in his writing and his efforts.  And he gave me an assurance that what I would go through, he would use as a ministry, somehow.   If I had known what I’d face over the next three years, I would never have quit my job. I’m thankful God only shows us in small increments what he wants us to do, because in my limited human thinking, I would never have been able to do it.  Our financial situation got so dire, to a place I never envisioned I’d be.  But that’s where Grace met me, in my humbleness, in my desperation for God.  That is where I had to get.  Previously I thought I trusted God but I didn’t, I trusted my job—me. 

There’s more, but this is all I’m supposed to share for now (thank you for Grace in regard to this long email). I’m not sure where this is taking me, but God is giving me a little more clarity of His plans for me.  It’s very humbling. My friends, it’s  nothing short of AMAZING GRACE! 

In His Grace,
Pam

Pam HeadshotI recommitted my life to Christ in 2006 while my husband was serving in Iraq; 11 years into our marriage.  In April, my husband and I will be married 20 years.  This would not be possible without God’s life-changing Grace.  Grace that had to show up in me.  God has laid it on my heart that my most important mission on this earth, is to show Jesus to my husband; and I’m never more like Jesus than when I show my husband Grace and Mercy.  It’s been a very humbling and transforming process.  I celebrate the promise that my husband is sanctified through me.  I thank God it’s done!  I’m just waiting for God’s perfect timing to bring it to completion for all to see!  Glory and honor be to God!

I worked in the healthcare industry for 25 years and quit an executive position to support my husband in his writing career.  A step of faith that has taken me, and my marriage, in directions I could never have imagined or dreamed of.  This year I will be writing my first book.  A book which my husband fully supports and encourages, about how a woman’s heart is completely transformed when God’s Grace rules. How every relationship is impacted, forever changed, when Grace is applied to that relationship.  I ask for your prayers as I begin this project, that this book will be completely, and only, about bringing glory and honor to my Lord Jesus Christ.  

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The Throne of Grace

IStock_000014923738XSmallMy friends, I’m wrestling to understand another revelation that I feel God is slowly unwrapping for me. Again, like the one about the cross being Jesus’ marriage proposal to us, this new one budded as I sat in church on Sunday. I jotted it on the note sheet with a question mark by it. 

Heart = Throne Room?

It it subtle yet stunning. Obvious yet obscured by “safe thinking” and rules that tend to separate us from “claiming” the holiness of God. Yet if we are to believe we bare the righteousness of Christ and are co-heirs, then we are holy and righteous in our redemption in Christ. Perhaps this separation is embraced more out of protection for we know pride is a great stumbling block, yet to deny what we have been given is to deny the cross itself.

I hope I am making sense. Please follow me as best you can as I get these thoughts down. I will share with you the chain of thoughts and events that are leading me to this revelation.  

Last year, my year of intimacy with God started at the throne of Grace one early morning as the Jesus woke me to come sit with him and learn more about this verse:

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. — Hebrews 4:16

This “invitation” and Proverbs 3:5-6 became crucial keys to my healing journey:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. — Proverbs 3:5-6 

What I didn’t realize until later is God told me He was doing this back in 2013. One day as I looked at a walking cane that was twisted and gnarled at the handle, yet straight to the bottom. He said, “I am making all paths straight.” 

So with that understanding, my attention was understandably grabbed again when this verse (Prov. 3:5-6) showed up again last week. One morning my Bible literally fell open to this verse. Well, you might say that is understandable especially if it is a well visited verse from the past. BUT, this is a new Bible, my friends. 

Yes, Holy Spirit, I am listening…

Back to Sunday. The thought came as our pastor spoke about being wholehearted in our faith. His second point contained a key verse. Yes, THAT one, yet again.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

I placed a star by it, unsure yet what God wanted me to understand. I realize now He was preparing me for a push in my boundaries of safety in my belief. He was asking me—reminding me—not to lean on my own understanding. He had a revelation that would push the separation of safety that I still tend to cling to.

I’d also started listening to the last in a series of messages about fear by Pastor Steve Thompson on Sunday but was unable to finish it. Monday morning on my walk and pray I resumed listening to his message. As it neared the end of this message about truly understanding that Jesus lives in us, that we carry the presence of God, Thompson asked his listeners about the throne of grace. He asked, “Where is it?” 

My notation on Sunday’s bulletin flashed in my mind: Heart = Throne Room?

Could it be that “my thought” was the Holy Spirit revealing another aspect of what I’d tried to keep separate? I believe the analogy of us having a throne to our life is valid and that to give our lives to Jesus means to relinquish this place of control to Him. That we step off the throne and give this rightful place to Him, our Savior and King. Our Lord…

And if we as believers are to pray with faith that His will be done on Earth (and in us) as it is in Heaven (right now) (Matt. 6:10), and we sit in heavenly realms with Jesus (Eph. 2:6), and as we are in Him, He is in us and is in the Father (John 17:20-23), then can this thought, this wonder, that the throne of grace is closer than I realized is valid? That as this throne of grace most certainly exists in the heavenly realms, does it also exist in us? In our hearts? 

For surely I know that throne of my heart was once dark, selfish, judgmental, jealous and fearful. Yet Jesus has come in and turned this throne into a reflection of His—a throne of grace, love, mercy, sacrificial love, beauty, acceptance, validation, identity, peace and joy.

And let me be clear that if this place exists in me it only and truly by the Grace of God, and not by anything I have done.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. — 2 Cor. 4:7 NLT

What do we know to be true? That God has given us the open invitation to come to His throne of grace—anytime. But I can’t help but think that when we see the distance is much less than we think, and realize it is Jesus who comes in search of us (and our pre-belivers), just as God came to the Garden of Eden to “search” for Adam and Eve after they had sinned (He came to them…), we come closer to fully embracing the depths of God’s love. His grace. And His grace is big and powerful.

I need His grace daily. I need His love desperately. I need God. And we know our pre-believers need Him too. So here is my final question and where I suspect God is leading us. What is our part in bringing this grace from the throne of our inner lives to our homes so that all will be saved? 

Another verse that seems to be popping up a lot this week:

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. — Acts 16:31

I believe this piece of Scripture is a promise for us today as well, and I am believing and praying it for my pre-believer. My friends, I believe we have a theme building here with Ann’s dream about “the resting of grace” along with the revelation the Holy Spirit showed me last week about the cross bring a marriage proposal, and now this one, that as believers and lovers of God, we hold the throne of grace within us. And I am asking King Jesus to let this grace flow from the throne through me to my husband. I’ve prayed this about Abba’s great love, but now I sense that this prayer about grace, this resting of grace, is an integral part of God’s next move in our SUMite community. Will you join me in this prayer?

On Saturday I will share another stunning piece of this puzzle—something God planted in front of me this morning and gave me the leading and confidence to share this post and concept with you. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, my friends.

Love you dearly!
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When The Church Hurts You

Hello SUMite Nation, 

I have to chuckle. Over the past few months reading through comments, Facebook posts and emails I have received, all of the “SUMite” puns. Hilarious!  SUMthings about happen. To SUM things up. Is SUMone praying? Can I just say that SUM of you are very witty and hilarious. 

It’s the little nuances such as this that make our home on the web, a family. We are a family and SUM is a place where we are loved and where we love. Thank you SUMites for how you love Jesus and how well you love one another. 

And I guess I feel this post is leading to an entirely different topic than I expected. You see over the past seven days my daughter and I have experienced some weird situations. Conflict over beliefs with other believers. 

Yikes! 

Now don’t panic. I’m not going to cause a debate in our Home on the web here. In fact, I think it’s remarkable the kind of unity that we experience in our SUM House considering all the different steams of faith represented here. And Dineen and I are very careful and intentional to focus on what unites and not on what divides. We focus on only two things.  

Love God…
Love people…. 

But what do we do when we don’t see eye to eye? My daughter and I have been living this out as of late. It’s hard enough to stand in our faith when facing harsh words from our unbelieving spouse. But it’s even more difficult to face conflict with people who are “supposed to be on our side.” 

Do you agree? 

Well, in both cases we must let love be our compass and focus on what we have in common. This works both with our pre-believers and those who have differing ideological views. And right behind love, we must walk the road of forgiveness. 

However, the most difficult to forgive are those who are in the church that wound us. 

Am I right? 

Recently I listened to Ann Graham Lotz share how she overcame pain when she was wounded by her church. She shares how she was part of a church for 15 years, raised her children in this particular church and yet on one Sunday morning the church dismissed her husband from leadership. 

THIS IS WORTH A LISTEN MY FRIENDS.

 

 

Thank you for loving Dineen and I even when we might offend, hurt or fail you. Please know we would never do so with intention. I know many times I would like to respond to the many email, comments and messages that arrive and I simply can’t do it. I might write words such as “I’m Pissed Off” and you choose not to take offense but see how I remain committed to authenticity. I pray more than anything that you see our imperfect hearts are filled with love for you. It’s the love of a perfect Father, His Son, Jesus and the love of the Spirit. That remains our highest purpose when you visit our home on the web. 

The calling in this season of the Kingdom upon the House of SUM, is to love God. Love People. Amen and AMEN!

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

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Reader Question

Hey ladies, 

You mentioned in your book together about how you handle media choices. Could you share some advice? Music, tv, entertainers (comedians), too much screen time overall? Also praying that pornography is not an current or future issue. 

Thanks! 
Jen

Jen’s question is such a good one, my friends, and she graciously gave me permission to answer it here on our blog.

What Choices?
My friends, as we walk in closer intimacy with Jesus, we become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Don’t be surprised if you are finding yourself unable to read, watch and listen to things you used to. 

For example, I used to love to read thrillers and watch shows like Criminal Minds. I can’t anymore—haven’t been able to for a while. In fact, just the other night, my hubby and I were watching one of our shows together (we have a handful we both can agree upon) on Hulu, which still has commercials, and an ad came on for the show “The Following” (yes, the one starring Kevin Bacon). 

I didn’t even think about my reaction, my friends. My hands flew up and covered my face and I blurted out something like, “Oh, I can’t watch that. Nope, can’t watch that.” I think I kept saying it too so I couldn’t hear the dialogue either. I’ve no idea what my hubby thought as I couldn’t see his reaction, but he did let me know when it was over. Whew! (And what a bummer that I can’t watch Kevin Bacon!)

Now if something disturbs you, it’s going to disturb your children. And saying it’s just me or it’s not a big deal is hedging away from the truth that it does make a HUGE difference as to what we allow ourselves to watch, take in and assimilate. We have more wisdom and experience than our children so it’s crucial we stand in the gap for them too. Our minds and hearts are precious to God and need to be protected as this is also where our battles begin.

This is one area that I will even go as far as to say, stand your ground no matter what. Stand for yourself and stand for your children. I know these are the times that can really create havoc in our marriages, but ultimately we are influencing our pre-believer as well. Trust God to work that out and don’t be surprised if, over time, you find your spouse’s choices influenced by yours as well. As we protect our children’s viewing choices, we can influence our spouse’s as well with love and grace. (My friends, please share what you have experienced in this area as I think it would help us all.)

Let’s look at a great Bible verse that speaks to this topic of what we put into our minds:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. — Phil. 4:8 NLT

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious––the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. — Phil. 4:8 The Message

Once the imagery goes into our minds it’s hard to get it out. I’ve had ask the Holy Spirit to actually remove images in my mind that came from books I read and movies I watched as a teenager and young adult. He’s very good at that and you can even ask Him for positive imagery to replace it.  

Now how and where do we draw the line? I believe some of this is obvious but some isn’t as what may be okay for one person isn’t for another. For example, I’m very sensitive to things to do with the mind (evil) and sexuality. My husband is very sensitive to violence. We work together to makes choices that we both can enjoy while being sensitive to the other person.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” — 1 Cor. 10:23-24 ESV

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “ All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” — 1 Cor. 6:12 ESV 

NotAlone3DThis goes for music and books as well. In chapter five (Peaceful Kids) of our book Not Alone, I share how my family and I handled the Harry Potter books when they entered the scene. My husband wanted to read the first one to my oldest daughter who was around 12 at the time, but I was very concerned and expressed those feelings. We agreed we’d all read the book at the same time. This gave me an opportunity to discuss different aspects of it with her and reinforce the truth of good and evil. This option wound up working very well for our family.

And what I love especially in what Paul says is that he will not be dominated by anything. This is profound wisdom, my friends. For that is one thing we must be on guard for, that nothing would dominate in our minds and hearts to becoming an idol in place of Jesus. That which we fixate on we give control to.

How Much?
Again, I think the same principles apply as above. What works and is appropriate for you and your family? I do tend to think less is better as we can more than likely “think upon” better things. But content needs to be considered as well. There are many documentaries available today that when chosen wisely, can offer a wise use of time. Another example, my husband and I took our time watching a series about the Roosevelts and found it very enjoyable. We learned more about our country’s history and enjoyed doing this together.

I’m also a big believer in redirection. Let me explain. I find much more success in suggesting an alternative option than arguing against the current one. Too much TV watching? Suggest that you and hubby go for a walk, or suggest a game to play with the kids, indoor or out. These are great ways to stay together as a family instead of defaulting to everyone going their own way. We can be creative in how we handle these situations with the leading of the Holy Spirit, my friends. Don’t limit yourself or the Holy Spirit to give you and your loved ones another way to go. 

About the “P” Word
Jen is wise to pray against the presence and influence of pornography. Very wise indeed. My friends, follow those nudges from the Holy Spirit. He may be showing you something to pray for or against that could happen tomorrow or two years down the road. Remember, the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective (James 5:16), so follow those leadings and pray. Don't be afraid or fearful, just pray and trust Him. The more you do these things the more you will recognize your Shepherd’s voice and grow more and more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. It just takes practice. 

Thank you, Jen, for sending in your question. My friends, I would love to hear your thoughts on this as well. I’m sure many of you have some great ideas and words of inspiration for this important topic. I’m so thankful for this loving and supportive community! You all are amazing!

Love you!
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I'm Pissed Off!!!

Can I say that on a Christian blog?

Well, at least it's a righteous anger.....

Read with me and then share with me your thoughts. Hugs, Lynn

Believing Wife – Agnostic Husband (names have been omitted for privacy) 

IMG_2524[1]Earlier in the week, Dineen and I received an email from a reader who was seeking some perspective about her husband. When Dineen and I read it, almost simultaneously on different sides of America, the same thing happened. We both were filled with emotion. Heartbreak for our sweet SUMite and also a righteous anger. Here is a portion of her email and then a portion of my reply: 

My husband, a life-long believer, has become agnostic/atheist  after reading about evolution and every book & lectures from a (well-known agnostic author), and has also become very politically liberal in his worldview.  He has been sharing with our pre-teen (still believes) and teen (says she doesn't anymore and that God isn’t real) his reasons. 

My husband says he has vastly researched, is very sure he has the truth, and will never go back to Christianity and that it is important that our kids know his view point and "the truth" because he doesn't want them to have false hope, guilt, etc, and because while the bible does have some good things to say, it is not true and Christianity (along with other religions) can be dangerous.  This is a huge change in our almost 2 decade old relationship. 

I am trying to "not fear anything frightening" but this has been very difficult on me and our marriage.  I am extremely concerned for my children as they hear these things, and for myself, and of course for my husband….. Sister Sumite 

First of all my heart breaks for you (name omitted). I am so sorry you're in this place. But I'm so glad that you reached out to me and Dineen. And I will also tell you that Dineen received this email at the same time I did. I spoke with Dineen this morning and the same thing happened to her, she rose up in a righteous anger about your situation. 

So I want to share my thoughts about your husband leaving Christianity and choosing to be agnostic. As clear as I could hear it from the Lord himself, I heard this: This man, this atheist author, may write his little atheist books but they will not be around past 50 years from now. And he may be deceiving people through his writing; however, these silly little books propagated by the demonic realm will come to nothing. And most of them will never be read after 20 years from now. 

But My Holy Word has been around for not only several centuries but two millennia. Great armies have come against My Word but they cannot stop it from reaching into people's lives and bringing my love, hope, and freedom. 

(My friend), when you put this into perspective I hope the truth of God's word rises up before you and becomes very powerful. Your husband has not treated you fairly either as a wife and mother. For him to lay down rules that everyone in the family must follow, according to his belief system, I find that absolutely reprehensible. Marriage is a partnership not a dictatorship. You and your children deserve, and should be enabled and empowered to practice and speak about your faith in your own home. I have very strong convictions about this so please read my words and pray about them. I'm praying for you to have courage to go to your husband and bring some balance back into your relationship with regard to faith matters. 

And now Sweet Sister, I want to share my thoughts about your teenage daughter. And I ask that you would read through this and take these thoughts to the Lord in prayer and ask him about what I'm going to share. When I read the sentence that your daughter, your 15-year-old daughter, has now lost her faith because of her father, I was deeply grieved in my spirit. Because teenage girls, especially a girl your daughter’s age, face some of the most difficult challenges to their identity during the teenage years. They are under a barrage from every direction that challenges their hope, their identity, and their self-worth and many other things that have lasting, lifelong, effects on their lives. And what I see your husband has done to your daughter through his doubt in God, he has stolen her hope. And right now more than ever a 15-year-old girl needs to have hope. She needs to know there is a higher power that has got her back, that will never leave her nor forsake her, that loves her for who she is and not what she looks like. I'm deeply grieved that the hope of the living God has been stolen from your daughter by her own father. Please forgive me if this seems harsh, but this is really how I felt deep in my heart. And I know this is exactly how Jesus feels right now about your daughter. And he feels the same way about you. 

My friend, let Dineen and I be the voice from Jesus that you need to hear today. God is absolutely real. I have experienced him personally and so has Dineen. He loves us. He will take care of us. And he is our hope. Every. Single. Day. My friend I ask that you might go speak to a pastor to have someone help to shore up your faith and learn to walk in this situation with courage and to stand your ground on what you know is true. Also, if your husband pushes these books by this author at you again, you can simply say I've made up my mind. I don't need to read these it doesn't make me less of a person, if I don't have an open mind to every book that you shove at me. Personally, for me, I told my husband that I don't need to explore any other faiths, religions, or books. I know in my heart that the living word of God is the absolute truth. And millions upon millions of people throughout centuries and centuries have discovered the same thing. The Bible is the blueprint for living a happy and joy filled life. 

I promise you, in 50 years, no one will be reading this atheist’s books. But in 50 years from now, millions will be reading the Bible. Love you much, Lynn and Dineen 

I wrote more to her about praying for her and I hope and pray my words encouraged her. I hope and pray now that these words reach deeply into anyone else that is walking in a journey similar.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

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The Greatest Romance of All Time

22641640_sOn Sunday I sat in church and watched a short video clip done by an energetic young man. I can’t remember much of what he said because partway through he said something that planted a thought in my mind that bloomed into something I’m finding quite amazing. Then today (yesterday as you read this), the Holy Spirit brought me to a Scripture that opened the fuller meaning and picture of this thought. 

I am a bit undone by it. Let’s see what you think, my friends.

As women, we long to be wooed. I remember as a young girl playing with Barbies, I would stage Barbie’s wedding to Ken. It was quite something actually, at least in my mind. As a teenager, romance books replaced Barbie and Ken to feed my imagination of what romance meant. And no, not in a good way.

So, as a young adult, my hubby’s formal proposal (or lack there of) kind of left a gap in my longing for a great romance, to be swept off my feet and carried away. After all, Ken always swept Barbie off her feet. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about is a different kind of marriage proposal. The greatest marriage proposal of all. 

The cross.

This the thought that came on Sunday and has mulled and simmered in my heart and mind since. The cross of Jesus Christ is a marriage proposal. And when you think of the Biblical references to us being the bride of Christ, it fits.

Christ came down (went on bended knee?) and humbled Himself, sacrificed His dignity to woo us. To call to us out of His great love. To ask, “Will you bind your life with Mine forever?”

At our yes, He presents us with a gift to hold and seal the promise of the promise to be fulfilled. The ring—the Holy Spirit.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. — 2 Cor. 1:21-22 (ESV)

We could call our time here on earth our engagement period. We are promised to the One and we seek to know and love Him better as the romance continues in preparation for our coming life together (eternity). Or we could call our baptism (by water and/or the Holy Spirit) the wedding (a public ceremony) and our continued faith walk our “marriage” to the Lover of our soul.

It is a beautiful analogy, my friends. One I am still pondering as it explains to me the longings of a woman’s heart (and I am only speaking to women here as I am woman. I dearly hope we will have at least one male commenter to share his perspective of this great wooing). We long to be wooed, romanced, desired and yes, claimed in the sense of knowing to Whom we belong. And in the pure hands of Jesus, it is a beautiful and right thing. In the hands of the world and the enemy of our soul, it becomes twisted and selfish.

I had no intention of bringing up the movie 50 Shades of Grey, but as this imagery of the cross as a marriage proposal bloomed in my mind, I realized we are not much different really from the women (unbelievers and believers alike) who are flocking to this movie, for I also believe they are indeed seeking to fill this yearning. We are all God’s creatures, designed to have this longing for the eternal bond (marriage) with our Savior Jesus Christ.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. — Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

As the bride of Christ we have found the truest longing of our hearts—a place that can never be filled by a person or romance books or a movie. For these things translated into some sort of reality for an individual will lose their glimmer and promise in the enduring light of day. The truth is always exposed. The initial satisfaction of these false imitators of the love and passion of Christ will fade because our souls are wired with that eternity Abba Father has placed in us. It recognizes the imposter and rejects him. 

And we are left broken and longing yet again. The great awakening we truly long for is in Him, who longs for us out of the purest motivations for our good—our salvation and identity in Him. This is the place of satisfaction and excitement and wonder. A place where we are loved and cherished and valued, called worthy and beautiful and identified.

The romance never dies with Jesus. He is constant in His loving pursuit of us. He does not stop once He has captured our hearts. He continues to delight and love us more and more, as much a we will allow and follow Him. And there is always more. 

That is the seal and the promise we are given. It is stunning to think that God gave us a part of His very Self to give us a guarantee of His promise. I stand in wonder at this new realization of the depth of such sacrificial love.

For me. For you. For every woman out there. And for every man. We are the center of this great wooing by the heart of Jesus, that draws us to Him without overriding our will or demanding control. It is the purest form of love that seeks nothing but to give, to save, to free.

And in the freedom we are free to love and give ourselves to our Bridegroom who has waited for us since the very beginning of time itself. I can’t think of anything in this world that can match this level of romance, my friends. 

I will close with one final thought that continues to simmer and form in my spirit: This wooing is happening to our pre-believers, whether we see it or not. 

SUMite Ann H. left a comment on Lynn’s post about waking from a dream with the words “pray for the resting of grace” and the image of my face. And yesterday I read this sentence in the book, The Elijah Task by John and Paula Sandford:

Only the Holy Spirit gives the grace of belief—otherwise nothing, neither persuasion nor miracles, will bring about true belief.

So as Jesus woos my hubby, I will be praying for the “resting of grace” upon him so that the Holy Spirit will release this grace of belief into him.  

I believe, my friends. I truly believe this will happen. Jesus said that if we have faith and don’t doubt, we can move mountains. 

I am praying and shouting “GRACE” at his mountain of unbelief, and I am ready to see it move. I am asking Jesus to show me how I can be part of this great romance for my husband’s soul.

How about you, SUMites? I’m looking forward to reading your comments and hearing your thoughts. 

Love you dearly!
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This Time, I Prayed Differently For My Husband -Chronicles Of The Donovan Clan

I started to pray differently. 

My friends, in the past two weeks I’ve experienced a shaking. A shaking in my prayer life, my husband has been shaken, our marriage too. God is shaking things that have been entwined in our marriage for nearly two decades. 

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Two weeks ago I prayed for my husband and since then things have been different. I want to tell you about what happened but I want to first say, thank you for praying for me. 

Prayer matters.
Prayer is powerful.
Prayer connects us to the heart of the Father.
Prayer activates the angelic.
Prayer defeats the demonic.
Prayer changes circumstances that were unchangeable.
Prayer is our weaponry in battles big and small.
Prayer is our worship in thanksgiving.
Prayer is….. our lifeline of hope, blessing, deliverance, healing and victorious living. 

Okay, is that enough reasons to sit down in the morning with our Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit? 

I want to tell you that my personal breakthrough came because months leading up to this shift in our marriage, I was writing out scriptures specific to answered prayer. Man, there are such promises from God. I take a small sheet of paper, write the date on top, then the scripture and claim it as God’s faithful promise to me and then write down my prayer. I have slips of paper stuck in my morning Bible all over the place with these promises and these scriptures and my requests. 

I challenge you to do the same for the next 30 days. 

I’m convinced that my claiming of scriptures helped to bring a change to the way I’ve been praying for my husband’s salvation. For years I’ve prayed, “Father, save my husband. Bring him to salvation and faith in Jesus.” 

I’ve prayed every variation of this prayer for years and years. How about you???? 

About a month ago the Holy Spirit said stop praying that old way. You haven’t seen any results after more than 20 years of marriage anyway. Ouch! And instantly I knew I was to pray differently for my husband. (Thank you Holy Spirit) 

I began petitioning heaven with passion and with belief and scripture promises this prayer. “Lord, let me lay hands on my husband and pray over him. Let me BLAST him with the Holy Spirit.” 

Yep, indeedy…. That’s a different way to pray!!! But I prayed on. “Papa, just open an opportunity to pray aloud with my husband and let me lay hands on him and blast him with the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

Two weeks ago the Lord opened up that very opportunity. It was so unexpected and it came with a massive spiritual battle beforehand. And a few days prior to that, a shaking started in our marriage. And with that shaking an understanding and revelation about our relationship came to my spirit. My wine drinking was directly tied to our marriage. As soon as I prayed and broke that tie in the spiritual realm, I haven’t had a glass of wine at night since. I also was able for the first time to see (discern) some darkness lurking in his heart, fear, deception and a few others. I could see them for the first time looking into his eyes one day while he was speaking to me in the kitchen. 

And after the battle was over and I still stood in the power of Jesus. Then Mike and I talked things out for a long while. Finally I asked him if I could pray. He agreed my friends and he didn’t agree to placate me. He wanted me to pray. 

And because our God is so strong, amazing and can do all things, I gently laid both hands upon my husband and prayed with power and blasted him with the Holy Spirit. 

It’s been two weeks. And I recognize a clear shift in our marriage. He’s more attentive, kind, he’s taken me out for a date twice in two weeks. I’m not sure what is going on in him with regard to faith. And honestly, I’m not sure I’m ready to ask. But I’m a relentless pray-er and my Dad is all powerful and His promises are assured to me as His kid. 

I will never stop praying. My prayers may change through the different seasons but I remain steadfast and declaring that my man WILL come to faith one day and say to the SUMite Nation that he loves Jesus. 

I will ALWAYS have hope. I have the entire Kingdom of God at hand to walk with me. I have abundance, mercy, grace, goodness and a love from my Father that overwhelms me every day. 

I have a supernatural weapon of great power. It’s prayer.
I have an intimate relationship with the living God of the Universe. It’s through prayer.
I have watched people receive healing. Through my prayers. 

So, I have a question for you today. Could the Lord be asking you to pray differently? 

I love you so much my SUM family. It’s been a wild two weeks. In addition to many breakthroughs yesterday for the first time in months and months the Lord is now downloading words for my new book. Oh and my friends, it’s even better than I thought. I can’t wait to read it myself because when the Lord writes, things happen. Have an amazing day in His Presence. And if you want to pray in the comments, I will pray along with you. 

Quote your scripture and then pray away. Every Sumite that reads it, prays in agreement with you and it gains power in the Supernatural realm. Woo Hoo!!! 

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Guest Post by Trish Fuhlendorf: Happy vs. Holy

IStock_000016466788XSmallAfter I became a Christian, it seemed like my marriage got a little worse every day. Stu couldn’t stand the fact that I was a Christian. He hated seeing me read the Bible and if he saw me reading a paperback, he would always ask what I was reading; knowing that it would be another Christian book. Then the criticism would begin, “Is that the only thing you can read?”

In addition to the light vs. dark dynamic that was getting worse all the time, his drinking and subsequent anger were on the rise. I got to a point where I couldn’t find any commonality between us and I dreaded him walking through the door each evening.

I remember seeking counsel from a woman at my church. She suggested that I make a list of Stu’s positive attributes. This would accomplish two things, it would help me focus on the good qualities of my husband and also give me ideas of things on which I could compliment him. However, asking me to swim the English Channel would have seemed an easier task. I stared at a blank piece of paper for what seemed an eternity. Finally, I came up with 2 or 3 attributes. It was a painful and ultimately pathetic assignment.

Where was the relief? I searched the Bible for an “out clause” of my marriage, but found nothing that applied to my situation. I cried out, “I am so unhappy. Isn’t there something in the Bible that tells me that God is concerned about my happiness?” I found verses talking about the “joy of the Lord,” but nothing about me being happy. But how can God expect me to go through life unhappy?

Then He impressed upon me my role as a godly woman. I am called to live in relationship with God and that should affect all of my earthly relationships. My children will most likely be married someday. Do I want them to start their relationships with the legacy of divorce nipping at their heels? Would I ever advise them that if they’re unhappy in their marriage, they should just bail? What kind of godly example would I be if I ran to divorce just like so many in the world?

I didn’t fully comprehend what God was trying to tell me. Is God more concerned with my holiness than my happiness? Yes.

It was time for me to accept the husband that the Lord gave me, but it was also time for a change in me. This would only happen through Him.

Now, I wish there was a guarantee, that our obedience to Christ would one day be rewarded with happiness here on earth, but there is not. So, in choosing to actively love our spouses every day, even though you might think they don’t “deserve” it; remember that we do not deserve God’s grace and forgiveness, yet He gives it to us freely.

I started thinking about how much God loves my husband. I eventually thought to ask God to allow me to see my husband through His eyes. Almost instantly, I developed a profound compassion for him.

I also learned the difference between love, the feeling of affection, and love, the verb. And that love, the verb, is crucial to a successful marriage. I started enacting small, loving gestures each day toward my husband; resting my hand on his leg as he spoke to me, a kind text message in the middle of the day, a little unexpected gift, etc. These gestures were not easy at first. I had to force myself to do them, but over time they became easier and those feelings of affection returned to me.

Ultimately, God’s request for me to love my husband was not only possible, but with His help, my marriage improved tenfold. Happiness is not a goal that can be pursued or a state of being that can be lost. It is simply an emotion that we experience on and off throughout our entire lives as a reaction to our circumstances. Nine times out of ten, we have no control over the circumstances that dictate when our feelings of happiness come and go. So, the notion that a person will be happier if they trade in their current spouse for a different one is a bit ridiculous when you consider the lack of a logical foundation.

But, one thing God does tell us to pursue is joy. Joy and happiness are not the same thing. Happiness is a fickle and fleeting emotion, while joy is contentment in the presence of God. I contend that if we grow in Christ and engage his expectation for our holiness, that joy will be present regardless of whether or not happiness chooses to show up.

 

Trish headshotTrish Fuhlendorf is first and foremost a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. She is a wife, married 27 years. God saved her in her mid thirties, then her husband about 10 years later. She is a tireless advocate for the covenant of marriage and has a love and compassion for those in the bondage of addiction. She is a Regional Manager for K-LOVE and Air1, a mother of 2 adult children, loves her home state of Colorado, her 2 big dogs, cooking and exercise (to off-set the cooking).

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Empowered Living: Romans 8:31-39

Psalm119-1622My friends, we’re at the end or our Romans study. I’m amazed at how much the Holy Spirit has been showing and teaching us. I never imagined this series would wind up being nine parts. I absolutely love studying and teaching God’s Word. Thank you so much for taking this journey with me. I’ve loved reading your comments and hearing your hearts so much. God is movin’ and “groovin’” in the SUMite community!

On Wednesday I shared my favorite verse (Romans 8:28) with you and how the enemy tried to make me doubt what I knew to be true—that God is GOOD, always. This last part of Romans 8 holds a truth that meant more to me last year than I ever imagined. Let’s take a look at Romans 8:31-39:  

ESV: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

VOICE: 31 So what should we say about all of this? If God is on our side, then tell me: whom should we fear? 32 If He did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over on our account, then don’t you think that He will graciously give us all things with Him? 33 Can anyone be so bold as to level a charge against God’s chosen? Especially since God’s “not guilty” verdict is already declared. 34 Who has the authority to condemn? Jesus the Anointed who died, but more importantly, conquered death when He was raised to sit at the right hand of God where He pleads on our behalf. 35 So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God’s Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely nothing. 36 As the psalm says,

On Your behalf, our lives are endangered constantly; we are like sheep awaiting slaughter.

37 But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. 38 For I have every confidence that nothing—not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, 39 height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.

Right off the bat, Paul takes the truth, turns it around and asks us a question: If God is for us, then what can measure up to that or threaten that? I mean really, think about it. If you have the Creator of the Universe on your side, what can possibly come against you? David said the same thing in Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? — Psalm 27:1 ESV

And that is one truth I spoke over myself over and over again last year when fear tried to grow and take over. Speak it out loud, my friends. The Lord is my light and salvation, I have nothing to fear! 

In verse 32, Paul again takes the truth and turns it into a question: If the God of the Universe is willing to give up His Son for you, then how could He withhold any of His goodness and love from you?

Let’s revisit another verse that says the same thing:

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. — Psalm 84:11

In verse 33 Paul goes back to where he started, that there is no condemnation in Christ. He repeats this point in light of all the exhortation that he has given thus far, especially after the questions he asked in verses 31 and 32. In essence he is asking, “In light of these truths, how can anything come against us?”

But even then, Paul isn’t finished making his point, because he’s building to one of the most profound truths in the Bible. He asks who has the authority to condemn and then answers the question with Jesus. Jesus has the authority to condemn but He chose another way—the way of sacrificial love. For He knew to condemn would drive us away and His heart was to be the solution to draw us near—into relationship and not religion and fear. He did what had to be done to defeat all that had formerly come against us, separating us from Him. The separation would now be forever removed.

Most likely Paul understood better than most what it felt like to wonder if God could truly forgive all he had done. As Saul, he had persecuted the church, watched Stephen stoned to death as he held the coats of those throwing the rocks. He cheered it, welcomed it, believed it was his mission to stop this new group identifying themselves as “The Way.”

Recently I asked Abba again if He was sure He had the right girl for a calling He has made clear for my life. I seem an unlikely choice in light of all I know this will mean and entail. He told me that was precisely why He has called me to it, because I am the least likely.

As was Paul, yet his voice and testimony had more power and truth precisely because of his past origins. Paul could understand, speak and encourage because he knew what Jesus had done for him. And if Jesus could use a man like Saul for his Kingdom, then Paul knew Jesus could forgive and bless anyone willing to answer that call.

Profound. The truth. Jesus.

Thus begins Paul’s point to one of the greatest truths in the Bible. Nothing can separate us from God’s love for us. Nothing can separate us from a love so great, so sacrificial that He was willing to die for us. Nothing can separate us from a love that is so beyond our ability to understand it that we must pray for understanding of it.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith —that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:14-19

Paul finally brings his conclusion to this: Our place of victory is already assured because of God’s great love and even makes a list of everything that we might think could come between us and God and says, “No, not even that.”

My friends, one dark morning last year as I sat with my Bible, reading Romans 8 again, as the Holy Spirit told me to, I reached the end of this chapter and the still small voice of God whispered in my ear.

“Not even you.”

Nothing I had done, thought, or felt could separate me from God’s love. The truth finally broke in and burned away the shame and guilt I had accepted from the enemy and had been carrying far too long. I finally understood the magnitude of this truth.

Nothing I did or could do (or not do) could stop God from loving me. And when this truth settles deep into our heart, it doesn’t give us free license to do whatever we want. No, it brings us to our knees in gratitude and with a longing to love God more.

For how could we ever match such love—a love that is powerful enough to cast out fear? We cannot, and grace says we don’t have to. We don’t have to measure up. We only need say yes, and let the fruit of the Spirit grow in us so that we can love Abba Father, King Jesus, and Holy Spirit more and more each day.

This is the way, the truth, and the life, my friends. To walk in the truths of God’s Word and understand that every single promise and truth in its pages is our inheritance in Jesus. He is ours and we are His.

Thank you again for walking through Romans 8 with me. On Friday, our dear friend Trish Fuhlendorf has a wonderful message for us, “Happy vs. Holy.” You don’t want to miss this one.

Love you, SUMites!
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Links to previous parts to this series:

 

A Introduction to Empowered Living
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part one)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part two)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:5-8
Empowered Living: Romans 8:9-11
Empowered Living: Romans 8:12-17
Empowered Living: Romans 8:18-25
Empowered Living: Romans 26-30

 

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An Open Letter To My Daughter - The Shades of Mr. Grey

My Precious Daughter, Caitie.  An Open Letter Caitie

You are becoming an amazing young woman right before my eyes. As you work through your second year of college, I see your heart grow for people and God. You’ve had your first boyfriend, discovered living on your own, set your own schedule and have achieved exceptional grades from your Professors. I am proud and humbled. 

As I watch you mature, I recognize that you are stepping into this crazy world with the hope and anticipation that every college-aged woman holds. I look at you and can see some of myself, some of my past, I catch a glimpse of my young self, now however through the eyes of an aged and maturing woman. And this week, in particular, with the release of the movie, Fifty Shades of Grey, I’m moved with love and hope to write to you from that perspective, a wiser and more mature wife and woman. 

The themes of this particular movie have stirred up a lot of my emotions and memories. What has been hidden in my soul has been brought to the surface and has fueled my prayers and hopes for your future marriage. This letter may be difficult to read as I will share things that sometimes moms don’t talk about with their daughters. What I have to say may be uncomfortable, you may be slightly embarrassed. However, I know you well. I know you are strong and mature and that you trust me to share what will help you and that I always pass insight to you with love and gentleness. 

Caitie, as my only daughter I want many things for your life. And in particular I want you to have a happy and fulfilled marriage. So today I want to share with you some thoughts that I pray you will consider and take deeply into your heart. 

Caitie, you know I have a past. I lived for years in the Prodigal Nation and was very far from God. It was during those dark years when I was only a handful of years older than you are now that I found myself in situations where I compromised myself, my body, my heart and soul through sex that I knew was wrong for me. Although I didn’t participate in anything even close to what the movie, Fifty Shades of Grey depict, I did just enough. And here is what I want you to hear; Today even after 23 years of marriage, I’m still affected by my experiences. 

What I want you to know and what I wish I had known all those years ago is how pornography, along with compromises in your personal limits in the bedroom will affect you at the core of your being as well as have a negative impact on your own marriage. It may not seem like a big deal right now but it’s ten years from now when you have been married for several years that you will experience deep regret and insecurity because you let images and sexual practices such that are in this movie into your soul. 

You know that I love your Dad very deeply and you know we have a strong marriage, yet even today the Lord is still revealing lies I believe that have power in my own intimacy in our marriage. I didn’t fully realize the insecurity that lingered in my heart just because I went a little past my comfort zone in my crazy and young years. 

So, today I want to tell you a few truths that I pray you will cling to in the years directly ahead of you. 1) You can’t un-see that. Explicit sexual images remain in your mind forever. They create a skewed and unholy viewpoint of intimacy in marriage. This movie creates a new acceptance of abusive sexual practices in a relationship. Caitie, it’s not normal. It’s not good. It’s harmful. And it’s ten years down the road in your own marriage, when you are pressing deeper into your faith, that these images and practices will torment you. 

2) Mr. Grey is a myth. Men like this aren’t interested in your heart and your long-term well-being. They won’t marry you and it’s likely they want more and more explicit and deviant sex. 

3) Talk in depth with your future potential husband and come to a mutual place where you can feel absolutely safe with him to be honest, naked and free from condemnation with regard to the bedroom. 

4) Don’t believe our corrupt society that this behavior in the bedroom is normal. Don’t believe the lie that all young couples are practicing these things behind Mr. Grey’s locked door. AND absolutely don’t think that if you do compromise that it won’t have a lasting impact on your self-esteem, self-respect, on your respect for your spouse and the overall health of your marriage. 

You hold a precious gift in your hand right now. Your self-respect and honor. Don’t trade it for the lies of satan. Entering into the marriage bed without all those ugly images and suggestions of bizarre sex will give you an amazing gift. A life-time of fantastic sex and intimacy with one man. That gift is more precious than all the gold in the world. 

I adore you. And I know your personal moral center would not, and has not, entertained any of this kind of cultural darkness and I pray that you always remain in that center. Thanks for reading my letter. In some ways this letter is not only for you but for a young woman of many years ago who wishes someone would have share the truth with her. 

You have my heart. And know this, I have been praying for you future spouse since you were born. I can’t wait to meet him one day. Love, Mom 

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To read my other post about Fifty Shades of Grey, click here: Shades of Grey and a Hound from Hell 

And here is one more article that I found true and timely: I Thought Watching Porn With My Partner Would Save Our Relationship 

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Empowered Living: Romans 8:26-30

Psalm119-1622My friends, we are at one of my all time favorite promises of the Bible. God laid the groundwork for this truth in me before I could even read as a child. I grew up knowing it, and I remember being surprised when I read it in the Bible the first time. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. (Cliffhanger!) We are about to get there though. First I want to start with our Scriptures and tell you a story. Go ahead and read Romans 8:26-30 below and in your preferred translation if it isn’t included. I’ll meet you on the other side…

ESV: 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

VOICE: 26 A similar thing happens when we pray. We are weak and do not know how to pray, so the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words. 27 Don’t you know that He who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit’s mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God? 28 We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. 29-30 From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future. You see, He knew those who would be His one day, and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters. As for those He chose beforehand, He called them to a different destiny so that they would experience what it means to be made right with God and share in His glory.

Verse 26 is profound when we think about the Holy Spirit actually speaking and praying for us. I will never forget this sound. I’ve heard it only once, and it was the night my pre-believer finally told me he’d decided he was an atheist. I was grieved deeper and ached more than I can even describe. 

As I laid down, trying to sleep after hearing this devastating news, I heard this groaning in the silence of the night. It was deep within me but didn’t come from my throat or mouth. I could hear it only in my spirit. I later came to understand that groaning was the Holy Spirit stepping in when I couldn’t, and I believe Abba Father allowed me to hear it so that I could be comforted. I don’t know what He was “groaning,” but I look forward to one day finding out how He prayed for me that dark night.

Verse 27 further expounds on this amazing gift of being “known.” My friends, I know this path we walk with our pre-believers can be lonely because we don’t feel like our spouse “gets us.” We are limited and even unable to share the depths of our relationship with our Abba Father, Savior and Friend Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. But know right now, this very day, that YOU ARE KNOWN BY HIM!  

Paul states this truth too:

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. — 1 Corinthians 13:12

I believe this word is specifically for several of you reading this right now. So I will say it again and if you feel a piercing in your spirit, then know that this word is for you today, my friend.

You don’t “feel” understood and “known” right now, but God knows you inside and out. He knows everything you are walking through right now and He. Is. There. He sees you. He loves you. He KNOWS you.

Wow, now I felt that one roll over me big time as the Holy Spirit guided my words. That’s from His heart to yours, my precious friend. And think about this: He’s given me this word for you and I’m writing it down hours before you even read or knew about it. See how He turns His thoughts to you (Psalm 139:17-18)?

The rest of this powerful verse describes how the Holy Spirit pleads for us, His saints (Eph 1:18), to align us with God’s will and heart. And that brings another powerful verse to mind because in this process of the Holy Spirit praying for us, to align us with the Father, we begin to delight in Him. Now look at the verse from a new perspective:

Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it. — Psalm 37:4 NASB

So we have the Holy Spirit, who knows us best, interceding for us when we don’t know what to pray, working on our behalf and aligning us with God’s plans and purposes. And now we move into that truth I told you about, that God ingrained in me as a child.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. — Romans 8:28 

And all means ALL, my friends. This is an astonishing truth that you won’t find in the world. It is the heart of the redemption message. God redeems everything. He brings good out of everything, which means we do not suffer, endure, and persevere without purpose. He is not wasteful. He will not allow us to walk through or into anything (bad or good) that He doesn’t have a plan and purpose for our good.

He knows us, He is for us, and He is good.

This is one of the most profound truths in the Bible, and when we can truly embrace it and fully believe that God is always good, then we walk in astounding freedom from sins like unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, envy and more. How about freedom from fear?

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. — 1 John 4:18

This is also the place the place the enemy likes to hit us hard, to make us stumble and doubt. This is where I got hit last year. I’ve stood on the truth of Romans 8:28 for years and proclaimed it as my life verse. I shared it, taught it, lived it. But I’d allowed the enemy in and listened to his darts of doubt. Suddenly the very truth I’d built my life upon wasn’t standing strong. My foundation began to crumble, and the hardest part was that God allowed it.  

I questioned. I railed. Until I saw that I’d allowed these lies to be part of my faith foundation and the only way to get rid of them was to tear it apart until only the truth remained. The truth of Romans 8:28: God is always good and He is always working for our good. That’s His character and the only way He works. 

When doubt creeps in, dear friends, ask yourself this: “What do I know to be true?” Ask the Holy Spirit to show you. I promise you, He will. I love what Kris Vallotton says about the truth of Romans 8:28. “If it isn't good yet, then God’s not done.” 

And finally, verses 29 and 30. I know there is discussion and confusion about predestination, but for me, these verses spell it out clearly. What is our destiny? To be like Jesus. That’s it. It’s that simple. 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. — Ecc. 3:11

Abba Father created us to be like His Son, Jesus, even to the point of sacrificing Him for our benefit (can I get a God is REALLY GOOD here?). That is His heart for us. And in the moment we accept that calling, we are justified and then glorified. For Him. We are His and He is ours.

Now I will close with this jewel from verse 29 in the Voice translation: 

From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future. 

Think about this and let it soak deep into your bones. His loves reaches us from the past of the cross, carries us through the present and ushers us into eternity. It’s constant and relentless—for us and for our pre-believers.

Just one more part to this series and I just love this one too. It’s a promise that brought His bright light into some dark moments last year. I can’t wait to share that one with you too!

Love you, my friends!
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Links to previous parts to this series:

A Introduction to Empowered Living
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part one)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part two)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:5-8
Empowered Living: Romans 8:9-11
Empowered Living: Romans 8:12-17
Empowered Living: Romans 8:18-25

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Quick Update

Hi SUMite Family, 

I will tell you that Monday morning when I woke up, I was uncertain and uneasy about what I would read in the comments. I hesitantly open up my email and cautiously took a peek and then burst into tears when the love of your words washed over me. 

Thank you. 

Please know that today and tomorrow I will be praying through all of the comments that were left and seeking breakthrough for you. And I will tell you that I’m CERTAIN I’ve finally found breakthrough in this area of my life. 

Thank you Jesus. 

This week has been an adventure. Most of you know my son moved in with us last January. Well on Wednesday he finally moved into his own place. It turned out to be a home instead of an apartment. The rent is less than apartments around here. It’s perfectly, perfect. Thank you for praying for all of us during this past year. It’s been a whirlwind. Lots of joys and great sorrows too. But I see now how God has used it all to achieve things we couldn't have expected. 

With that said, I’m going to spend my time today, praying through the comments. I plan to post on Monday an “Open Letter” that the Lord has placed on my heart. Don’t miss it. And I will resume my series on prayer because, boy howdy, have I been experiencing some answers to some distant prayers. Finally, I haven’t forgotten about the series still rolling about in my head regarding demonic spirits. Oh and man, do I have a lot to say about those ugly things. Many of you will find great freedom in that series too. 

So, stay tuned because the Lord is on the move and my friends, we have been invited to jump on the glory train. It’s going to be the ride of a lifetime. 

I love you so very much.

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John 14 13

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Empowered Living: Romans 8:18-25

Psalm119-1622Hello, my dear friends. I’m fascinated with the way God is working through this study of Romans 8 to reveal more truths to us and how to live empowered by the Holy Spirit! I even will dare to say that some answers will come for things we have been asking for breakthroughs for a long time. 

Lynn talked about secret sins on Monday and many of us shared things we are struggling with. I shared my own battle with overeating (gluttony) and how that has affected my perception of my appearance and weight. I have battled with this since I was a young teen. I can look back and see how the enemy moved in during a very difficult time in my life and deceived me to believe food was my comfort and then condemned me over and over again as it affected my weight and appearance, even to the point of depression at times. 

Well, you know what I say now? I am dead to that sin and I am no longer a slave to it (Romans 6:6-7). I declare the truths in Romans 8 that there is no condemnation for this anymore, that I am set free from the law of sin and death and am alive through Jesus and the law of the Spirit (Romans 8:1-2). I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome this issue and I will make this declaration every day, over and over again until I walk in complete freedom from it. because the more I do this, the more the truth lives in my thoughts, feelings and emotions and the less power the lie of the enemy has until it is completely defeated.

Why? Because the more I do this, the more the truth lives in my thoughts, feelings and emotions and the less power the lie of the enemy has until it is completely defeated.

Because I am now a witness to how the Word of God transforms our minds (Romans 12:2) and can testify to its power to do so. Because the Word of God transformed my mind to believe the truths and promises He has for me. Through the difficulties of last year, I stood on the truth of God’s Word, writing down Scriptures to pray and declare out loud. I did this almost every day. One in particular I am seeing happen in my life right now. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. — 1 Peter 5:6-11 

Nearly a year later, God has lifted me up, is restoring me, and is making me steadfast and strong. He is doing this, not me. What did I do? I believed His Word. I prayed it over myself and claimed its truth and promises. I rested in God and believed He would do this for me. Now He is and I am stunned at the things He is doing.

My friends, if there is only one truth I ever manage to share with you clearly, then let it be this one: God’s Word will transform you. Read it, believe it, and trust Him to do it.

So let’s delve into more of God’s powerful Word and take a look at the truths of Romans 8, specifically verses 18-25. I confess I find these a bit more challenging to understand but here goes:

ESV: 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

VOICE: 18 Now I’m sure of this: the sufferings we endure now are not even worth comparing to the glory that is coming and will be revealed in us. 19 For all of creation is waiting, yearning for the time when the children of God will be revealed. 20 You see, all of creation has collapsed into emptiness, not by its own choosing, but by God’s. Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope 21 that creation would one day be liberated from its slavery to corruption and experience the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 For we know that all creation groans in unison with birthing pains up until now. 23 And there is more; it’s not just creation—all of us are groaning together too. Though we have already tasted the firstfruits of the Spirit, we are longing for the total redemption of our bodies that comes when our adoption as children of God is complete— 24 for we have been saved in this hope and for this future. But hope does not involve what we already have or see. For who goes around hoping for what he already has? 25 But if we wait expectantly for things we have never seen, then we hope with true perseverance and eager anticipation.

Paul gives us encouragement right off the bat with verse 18. He’s reminding us to keep our eyes upward, that our present situations and sufferings can’t compare with the glory God will be revealing to us. And I love what he’s explaining in verse 19 because we catch another glimpse of our Abba Father’s heart for us. Even creation waits for us to be freed, because it will be set free too! Is that not astonishing? 

If we go back to Genesis, we see God’s original plan for us to live in harmony with creation—trees, plants, animals, etc. And I personally believe when we see amazing stories of an animal rescuing a person (like a dog or a dolphin), or we see those cute home videos of a bird and a cat being buddies, or witness the comforting affects that pets have on people even to the point of healing (and I’ve witnessed this in my daughter’s life), that we are seeing a part of creation being revealed in truth. We catch a glimpse of what God intended this world to be. 

Just as we long to be liberated, so does all of creation. I love how the Voice translates verse 20: “Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope.” To think that just as we wait and hope for what is to come, so does all of creation. My friends, I find myself outside more and more when I spend time with God and pray. It’s a connection I have found growing stronger and stronger. I believe this shared hope is why. Can anyone else relate?

Verses 22 and 23 further the connection and yearning that we share with creation—our spirits recognize what is not right and what is to come. So we wait in hope and expectation for Christ’s return, when God’s plans and purposes will be complete and His will on earth will be as it is in heaven. No more sin or the enemy to create separation. No more warfare. No more sickness and disease. This the revelational promise of salvation—ETERNITY!

So, my friends, what challenges you as we walk in this place of living in the now, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and knowing there is so much more to come? What words of truth are you clinging to, praying and claiming in and over your life? How about your pre-believer? Let’s share and encourage each other! Your words of wisdom may be the very thing someone else needs to put the pieces together.

And I am so excited about the last two parts of this series. They hold two of my favorite truths and promises from our Great God. We’re almost there… 
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Secret Sin - A Barrier To Breakthrough

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comOkay, so weird. In the past two weeks I’ve heard more messages about prayer than I could have dreamed. Even today at church, the message was: Why Pray? 

My friends, let’s talk about this unique thing, we the religious, call prayer. In fact, right off the bat, I want to debunk all the “religiousness” off this word. Let’s call it what it really is. Prayer is only a word to describe talking to God. And when we cast of all the religiosity off the word, do you know what happens? 

We discover a few amazing aspects of talking to God. 

I likely will cover a few posts with this topic so hold on. It’s gonna be good because I’m convinced we, as the SUMite, Church Without Walls, are being called into a new place of prayer. Not just ordinary prayer but prayer that manifests immediate action, miracles, lives impacted, nations changed. 

Before I write about all that exciting stuff, let’s talk about what happens when we pray and we don’t receive our breakthrough. I think God has been leading me in this very place in the last six months. I’ve come to understand breakthroughs and also understand why other prayers remain unanswered, for at least the time being. 

I’m going to be very vulnerable here. I finally believe I fully understand why I can pray and literally see God move immediately. I can receive prayer and believe for my supernatural healing and receive it. Yet, I’m defeated in other areas of health. Specifically, all of the colds and flu this past six months. There can be several reasons why answers to prayer are delayed or remain powerless. Today I’m going to describe mine. 

Sin. 

I’ve allowed an area of sin to remain in my life. For a long while God has called me to give up having a glass of wine at night with dinner. Which could become more than a glass of wine. Now drinking wine is not a sin. I’m not an abuser nor an alcoholic, however, for me, God no longer wants this evening “past-time” to be present in my life. For lots of reason, too many to list here. One primarily, is that it’s not good for me and the Lord has been trying to restore my health. 

Each time I’ve fallen to a cold virus or bacteria is because I have been outside of the protection of God because of my deliberate sin. I know this clearly now. Now this is only for me, however, when I disobey God it’s an open door for access of the enemy. And right now the devil wants to keep me incapacitated so that I won’t write this next book. What has been fascinating is the messages God has been sending me about this secret sin. Through the television, through my prayer time. Practically every time I read the Word, I land on a scripture specific to this issue. Sheesh. Finally, two days ago, I receive a private message from a dear friend and she called it out. 

Gulp! 

God is desperate to heal me. And now that the secret it no longer secret, I’m going to step into healing. 

Now, you may want to judge me for struggling in this area, and I understand that. But I also know that everyone of us struggles with some secret sin in their lives. 

Disobedience has kept me from healing and from receiving the blessing of the very prayers I’m praying. 

No one likes to talk about obedience. It’s not popular and it doesn’t edify nor lift our souls. But if we aren’t real about what is keeping us from victory, how will any of God’s children find breakthrough. 

So, as of today. I’m done with that nonsense. I’m choosing to change old habits and walk in complete and perfect health the rest of my life. 

I pray my honesty brings freedom to someone else out there. I pray my honesty allows you to see that I’m not always together. I’m not a super Christian. I’m a child of God who is only determined to live fully for my Lord. Thank you for loving me in my brokenness. 

And on Friday, let’s talk about what power and answers can and will come from those of us who are broken, yet redeemed. All of us who are Poor in Spirit. 

Do you need prayer for a secret sin in your life? If you are consumed by a weakness, shame guilt, fear, today is your freedom day. Tell me about it. I will pray for you. 

I don’t fully understand but even now, when I pray through the comments, things can and do happen. SUMites, Church Without Walls, we need to become completely free, receive our breakthroughs so that we can then take freedom to our world. 

I LOVE YOU.

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