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16 entries from January 2016

Am I The Spiritual Leader

In 2012 I wrote a post for the Internet Café. It remains still today one of the most visited posts on their site. I can’t write it better today. It remains truth and remains powerful. So in response to our confusion and the issues we face about spiritual leadership in our home, I share the post again today.

May 2012


image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comMy Husband is not the Spiritual Leader of Our Home

When I’m speaking or interviewed for radio, spiritual leadership of our home, often comes up as a topic for conversation. It’s really interesting to me that this question comes to me from other believing men (radio interviews) as well as women who are living unequally yoked.

My friends, we the spiritually mismatched, certainly live in the “in-between.” And spiritual leadership/direction is of monumental importance to us and we wrestle with how to do this well.

I struggled for years in this area of my marriage. Thoughts crossed my mind such as:

Do I wait for my husband to become a believer to set the tone in our home for prayer and Bible reading?

If I take any initiative to teach my kids about faith, will my actions be perceived as disrespecting my husband?

Can I be the Spiritual leader of our home and yet respect and follow my husband’s lead in all other areas?

Will my kids listen to me because I’m not the head of the household?

Does leading spiritually, make me the head of the household?

Am I up to the task all on my own?

Sheesh!

Tell me I’m not alone in this. If you are in the midst of this confusing mess, today I want to set your feet on a path to freedom. I will share with you what I share on the radio.

First, hear this and let this truth resonate within you:

If your husband is unwilling or has abdicated his position as the spiritual leader of your home, then God expects you, the believing wife, to step into this role.

Repeat that sentence out loud.

I heard these words a long time ago. I’m not certain exactly where or when but what I recall precisely, that was the moment when cloud of confusion lifted and freedom flooded my heart. I needed permission to take leadership and to teach my kids and it came in those words. So, if you need permission to step up and to begin to model, teach, and love like Christ, my sisters, then you have it. Clearly God’s desire is for men to lead but when they won’t, God is delighted that his daughter’s will help the next generation.

How do you do it?

Motive, motive, motive. I think the success of our marriage greatly increases when we consistently check our motives. Does my desire for my husband to lead our home come from a place that is “me” centered or “Christ” centered. Let me be specific. Here are some of my own thoughts from a few years past.

If only he would believe, he would help me get the kids ready for church.

My life would be so much easier if only he would believe.

I wouldn't have to sit with each of the children tonight and pray with them. I wish he would help.

Going to church alone is so embarrassing.

Okay, these are tough but sometimes we need to move past our “self” and truly focus on what Jesus wants. When you have the right motivation, which is born out of love and humility, you will be motivated to get the kids up on your own and get them to church. Out of a loving heart you can say to your husband, “Sweetie, watch the television without me, I’m going to go tuck the kids into bed and say bedtime prayers.”

There are many ways to build respect for your man and still quietly lead your family closer to Christ. More than anything, I will always go back to the truth of 1 Peter 3, Win them over without words. Win your kids, your husband, your friends, the neighbor, a world that is lost and broken….

Win them over with your boundless, crazy, passionate, fervent, zealous and adoring love for Jesus. When you love Jesus with all of you, heart, mind, soul, strength, it’s irresistible over time. And that’s a promise.

Jesus modeled humble leadership. That is the key to spiritual leadership, even in the midst of a spiritually mismatched marriage.

A happy marriage (believing and unbelieving) begins with love and respect. With Jesus as our center, add to that large doses of laughter and a sense of humor, it’s a winning combination.

Be blessed, Lynn

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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GOING TO CHURCH ALONE

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comToday, I want to chat about another big issue that was mentioned back in December when we began this journey.

GOING TO CHURCH ALONE.

Gang, can I just say – Grrrrrrrrr

This is so hard. I know that for me this was an area that was of intense and great struggle. Even today, I truly desire my husband to join me for church on Sunday. I’ve had to wrangle through all of the different aspects of church non-attendance with my husband. I’m certain many of you have as well.

First, dealing with the whole couple thing. Grrrrrr, again! Our Western society is significantly “couple” focused. Learning to do anything alone takes a ton of courage and prayer. At least it did for me and I’m usually a courageous person. But after remaining a floundering believer at home, there comes a day when your need for community outweighs fear and you timidly cross the threshold of a church.

Once conquering that fear, you then must overcome disappointment as you see other couples together in church. True that. Anyone???

My friends, I want to assure you that if you are currently in this season of walking unequally yoked and attending church alone, it does become easier. 

Think about this. As you consider your life, most of us find that God has been amazingly faithful. Even in our periods of doubt or in my case, spiritual rebellion. God never left me nor did He forsake me. EVER. Even when I ran away from Him. As I slowly returned to my heavenly Father, I realized His faithfulness and it became the strength and my backbone. I made the decision to be faithful and return to church. And I’m so glad I did.

It was within my church community, women’s Bible study, that my healing began. I know I wrote about this our book, Winning Him Without Words. But it’s good to remember that God made us for community. At the core of all we are, we are designed for community, membership, authentic living, to be known and to know others in truth.

Knowing this, church became vital. It was my weekly re-charge. And when children became part of the family, they needed church too. That foundation of training in their early lives will live on in the next generation.

I’ve attended church alone for nearly 25 years. It’s been hard and it’s been glorious. Churches are challenging. You must remember they are filled with broken and needy people who are just like you. Attending church requires us to wear forgiveness like a cloak and to cry out for God to fill us with love, every, single day that we may love people like Him.

But at the end of the day, church is a hint of our future. One day THE CHURCH, will gather in the great assembly, with pure love in our hearts and will join as one people, one voice in worship. I promise we can’t imagine the depth of love we will feel and experience. I can’t wait.

So focus on Jesus and love even the broken and messy at church. And allow others who truly care about your life, to love on you. Be authentic and allow them to serve you.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned through sitting alone in church. One, I’m not the only one. My spiritual mismatched allowed me to see many others who don’t fit in. My heart is drawn to those who are alone, even those who feel alone but ARE sitting with a spouse. And my friends, churches are filled with these kinds of people who pretend their marriage is perfect. It’s simply not true. Every marriage, including your pastor's will struggle, even greatly struggle at some point. It’s just different from yours.

Allow yourself to set aside your loneliness and pain and truly look around you. It’s likely your training here at SUM and through the Word will allow you to speak love and truth into some other misfit who is sitting in the sanctuary. And that my friends, is exactly what delights the heart of God.

BTW: Ultimately we will discover we are all misfits and that is exactly what God intends!!!

Next up: Spiritual leadership

Hugs, Lynn

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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Conference At Merriman in Garden City, MI

Perhaps for a moment in time, just perhaps, we stood upon holy ground.

 

Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

 

I bet many of you know these ladies. They like to hang around SUM! 

SUMite Pillars
Gillian, Teresa, Melissa, Heidi, Joanne

 

Ohio Sumites
Some of the Ohio SUMites: Left to right: Judy, Mindy, Laura, Dawn, Chris

 

Fran Green
This is Beloved, Franie. This conference started in her heart last summer.

 

Lynn Donovan
The Holy Spirit moved. We laughed, cried and we were loved on by our Lord!


Skit
The skit was hilarious. I was cackling. Well done Merriman!
Conference Team
This is the amazing team of leadership that made this day possible. Thank you is inadequate but THANK YOU!

More photos are posted on our SUM Facebook page, click here.

 

The best part of the day is: WE PRAYED. I wish I had a photo to show you what happened at the end of our day. Can anyone who attended share what happened in your heart as you stepped out?

I'm overwhelmed at how the Lord moved on Saturday. Dineen was unable to make it due to her shoulder. So on Thursday I knew that I would speak the entire day. My friends, I can't perform. But I prayed and prayed that our Papa God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit would walk among us and I believe we honored our Lord and He showed up with love and power! I believe lives were touched and I'm teary reading the email messages such as the one at the bottom of this post.

If you were unable to attend, don't feel left out. You are loved and we talked about our amazing community on the web. And now let's pray that Jesus arranges another conference in your area. It would be my humble privilege to meet you, to pray with you and to love on you with our Daddy's love.

Breakfast in the gym
Love these ladies. They were on the front row!!

DSC00088

From Jen:

Lynn,

I do not even know where to begin to thank you. 

I attended your workshop this past Saturday and I am moved beyond words.

When my pastor’s wife invited a small group of us to attend this together I admit I was a little apprehensive.  Not knowing whom she invited I assumed it was only sent to me (or a couple of people) and the other couple of people were nowhere close to my unequal marriage, (so I thought).  I immediately went online and bought your book and WOW!  By the end of just the intros of the both of you, I was in tears, so moved and so motivated. I thought I was the only one in this position, I was alone, I thought nobody understood my marriage, my life, I even questioned my position in my faith and how I possibly could continue to follow Jesus with an unbelieving husband, a daughter 20 years old whom has walked away from Christ and a 13-year-old daughter loving Christ, how could I keep going?

I read the first half of the book in one day and then started over so I could take notes, pages and pages of notes. Ready to register for this workshop, (alone because I figured nobody else in my bible study, church or small group of friends would ever be in the same position I am), the pastor’s wife emailed me again asking if I wanted to go and let me know there were a few others interested. I attended our bible study the next week to tell these women everything I had read and learned up to that point (which was 66% as I am an e book user 😊) and was floored to discover five out of ten women there that night were somewhat in the same position.  Then in our plans for carpooling across the border I find out there was eleven of us going from our church...eleven!!!! Seriously???? I am not alone!!!! So as soon as I got home from the workshop I went directly to your website and signed up, pinned my location and when I looked at all the other pin locations around the world, my heart swelled to see and feel the common love from all over the world.

You were not even five minutes into speaking and I was in tears.  I have come out of this past week with a new light, a renewed hope and joy that is just spilling out of my heart. I went to church this morning and together we found five women sitting alone and we all filled half a row, held hands, hugged, sang to the high heavens and supported and loved on one another like never before. One woman even had an argument with her husband before church today because he did not want to attend anymore and guess who had some loving words of advice for her?  ME!! Little old me! I walk into church today and out of church today with a new song in my heart, a skip in my step and a feeling like I belonged, and better yet, God wanted me there, He loves me! He loves me! He loves me!

So from the bottom of my heart thank you! Thank you for leading me closer to God, thank you for opening my eyes to the women near to me in the same unique position, thank you for introducing me to the thousands of women near and far that feel my pain, my joy, my love and have my back!

Forever indebted and much love, Jen

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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Specifics of the Spiritually Mismatched

Well I realize that that past few posts have challenged us as we consider suffering. We also looked at what Jesus clearly told us. Jesus said:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’—Matthew 10:34-35

Sometimes I find that Christians only want to read the passages that affirm. But becoming a mature believer, means that we must wrangle with these difficult and challenging passages. When I read this scripture, it offered me two things. One, I realize my life with an unbeliever is actually not surprising to God. And two, it relieves me of guilt or condemnation that somehow I’ve failed because my husband hasn’t come to faith.

And by the way, most of us who have been unequally yoked have felt that guilt. Many of you have told me that your pastor or some other “well-meaning” person from church has asked you the stupid questions such as:

  • Didn’t you know he was an unbeliever when you married him?
  • Perhaps you haven’t prayed enough for his salvation.
  • Maybe if you just witness a little harder he will find Jesus.
  • Perhaps you aren’t living enough like Jesus in front of him.

Can I just tell you these irk me? Now hear me, THESE ARE LIES FORM THE PIT OF HELL.

You can’t save your spouse. Only Jesus can save him. Your responsibility is to love. Love God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Spirit first and obey His Word, then love your spouse the best that you can and finally believe that God will do all that is possible to reach your spouse.

So today I want to speak to your heart. I stand in faith and through the truths of the Word and by the power and blood of Jesus Christ, I speak over you truth. You are not responsible for your spouse’s salvation. Only Jesus saves.

I release you from guilt and fear over this issue. I say to you that your heart is made whole in Jesus and words of pain from others now lose their power. I speak to your heart and life and say that the condemnation you have carried over your marriage to an unbeliever is broken. I also refute and renounce the lie that God is mad at you or is punishing you because you find yourself in an unequally yoked marriage.

The truth is that God desires families to thrive and His plan to demonstrate love begins in marriage and family.

I understand that our unique marriages are very difficult and there are some marriage situations where oppression and abuse are present. Hear me clearly now as well. God doesn’t want us to cling to some ideal version of marriage where abuse and oppression exist. Get help and separate yourself from the abuse and find your healing.

Today, I once again want you to realize the great authority to pray and protect your family through the Word of God.

For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. — 1 Corinthians 7:14 NLT

This verse has become a powerhouse in my life. I hope to tell you one day all that has resulted in my family and marriage because God in His great love and mercy placed this passage in His Word. Stay tuned *grin*

Okay, how many of you have receive words of condemnation from other "well-meaning" believers? How did you process through their words? What passages of scripture have been life-changing in your marriage?

I will see you in the comments my family. Today, live in utter confidence because 1 Corinthians 7:14 is for us. Just as God is for us! Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!!!!!  Hugs, Lynn

Romans 8 1

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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First LOVE

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWe have been chatting about suffering. It can truly blow up your mind to consider the reasons of God for suffering.

Not too long ago the Lord spoke to me about my unequally yoked marriage. It was likely in a challenging season when I was complaining to God about His delay in saving my pre-believer. (To even write that causes me a degree of shame. Sheesh.)

This was the Lord’s unexpected but powerful reply. Hosea 2:14

But then I will win her back once again.

    I will lead her into the desert

    and speak tenderly to her there.

15 I will return her vineyards to her

    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.

She will give herself to me there,

    as she did long ago when she was young,

    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. —NLT

The Lord then spoke to me, Lynn, do you see? Can you comprehend this story?

My friends, I understood in that moment how beautiful was the love relationship between God and His people. When the people of God were freed from Egypt they were utterly dependent upon the Lord’s Presence. He walked among them. He fed them. With the exception of the “golden cow” incident He adored and protected them. After the mad cow mess, they quickly came to their senses and loved Him with their full hearts for decades in the desert. It was priceless. It was a beautiful, fulfilling relationship for Him and for the people. I’m not surprised, as I think about it, that God delayed their entry into the Promised Land. He knew what would happen.

The easy life would cause them to pursue independence. Comparison to other peoples of the land would woo them away from God as their King thus enticing them to desire an earthly King. They would grow fat and distant from God because their lives would become easier. All this became true. Thus, the Lord’s broken heart cries out through Hosea. He longs for the years of their desert suffering because in the struggle, she (fully) gave herself to Him.

I wonder if the Lord tarried or delayed the Israelites crossing into the land because He knew they would leave Him? The sweet love and utter dependence upon Him in the wilderness was everything to Him…. AND He knew that people are their highest, best and blessed when they are in utter dependence…..

Things that make you go….hmmmmmm.

Is our Promised Land, our spouse’s salvation, the same? Does the Lord tarry because He is in love with you and me? Does he believe that our desert experience will diminish because we aren’t so persistent in our prayers for our spouse? Does He know that we may become lax in training up the children to faith?

Is the Promised Land really of any value if we leave the lover of our soul in the desert years?

The passage in Hosea calls to us. It’s the Lord’s broken heart. He speaks to us who walk in the desert years. Don’t forget the suffering that birthed our love. More often than not, it’s the suffering that draws us to the heart of God.

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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Want Some Gold?

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWe have been contemplating loneliness and marriage. And wow, some great comments following the last post. Go read them!!!!

I’m in a place of contemplating – Suffering. Gulp!

I think I struggle to even speak this word aloud. I wrangle with the implications and shrink back.

I consider the life of a Christian in the Western world as compared to a believer who lives where Isis roams the land and kills even children who profess Christ. Do we truly suffer in the Western World for our faith? Do we suffer in our marriages to unbelievers? Geeze, these thoughts mess with your head. 

The answer? Yes and no.

It’s never an easy answer, is it?

Yes, we suffer for our faith. No, we don’t suffer the threat of death for our faith today. But tomorrow, who knows? Yet the anguish in our lives and marriages over our faith in Jesus is very real.

I remember a long time ago I met an older woman once a week at a tiny little diner in our town. We met for breakfast and she poured her love and wisdom into me over hotcakes and steaming coffee. I remember carrying on and on about my sad and difficult marriage. Oh how I complained about every little offense committed by my unbelieving husband and I moaned about some insignificant injustice in our relationship (sarcasm intended.)

That was until one morning when it dawned on me that Jenny buried her teenage daughter. Her daughter died before she graduated from High School of Cystic Fibrosis. I stopped short in our conversation, ashamed, and said, “Oh Jenny, here I am complaining about this stupid stuff and you buried your daughter.” Tearily I said, “Please forgive me. If anyone here has a reason to be complaining, it’s you.”

Jenny smiled so gently at me as she always did. Her eyes twinkled when she smiled and she speaks one of the wisest and helpful sentences I’ve ever heard. “Lynn, your pain and what you experience is just as difficult. It’s not worse or better. It’s just different.” In those words, she gave me permission to have pain. I didn’t need to pretend it wasn’t there just because it wasn’t the same as someone else.

So my suffering may be different than yours but to the Lord, it’s suffering and He feels it along with us.

Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that Jesus was a man. He experienced suffering. And when we think about Jesus’ suffering, our mind usually goes to the cross. And the Cross WAS TERRIBLE. But have you thought about what it felt like to Jesus when He was betrayed? Betrayal is at its core -pain. It is rejection, dismissal, a knife in the back all rolled into one. He was betrayed because of His faith. He suffered and was persecuted because of His faith. 

We as the mismatched also walk this path of suffering. We are ridiculed because of our faith by the very person or persons who we should expect to always defend us. We feel betrayed and rejected by the one person on the plant who was supposed to love and honor us always. Ouch. Praise the Lord Jesus because forgiveness overcomes all betrayal.

My friends, we walk our fair share, or maybe more than our fair share, of suffering in this world.

But…..

In the suffering is where we find the gold. And it’s the gold that is spoken of in Revelation. We are earning our gold that will make us rich. Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself. Revelation 3:18-19

So, could it be our suffering is by design? Could it be that we were placed into our unequally yoked marriages with purpose? What do you think? See you in the comments. This is gonna be good. Also, what did you think of that passage in Revelation? Read to the bottom of the chapter. It ROCKS! Hugs, Lynn

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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Loneliness and What Jesus Says

LonelyCan I just say: Amazing!

Our annual fast never fails to disappoint. So many great testimonies were shared of how the Lord moved in our lives. Many of you received a “word” for their year and I know many of us were loved on by our Lord through this community experience. I’m convinced our fast is powerful and one day as we are in heaven, we will fully comprehend the impact our prayers and fasting had upon people and this earth. Neat!!! (Thank you Rosheeda Lee for starting this annual tradition.)

In the next several weeks I want to turn our focus to loneliness in marriage. And you know, as I contemplated this issue, a bunch of different emotions rolled over me. Also, the Holy Spirit sprang up with some perspective that I want to share that I believe is truth for all of us.

I will tell you that as I considered returning to this particular topic and thought about writing about it again, my heart filled up with dread, anxiousness and aversion. I HATE thinking about my feelings and experiences when I’m walking in the seasons of loneliness in my spiritual mismatch. It’s not that I’m in denial that I have challenging periods of marriage but I just believe that by dwelling on the pain and injustice of it all, only brings me more sorrow, woe is me attitudes, and I lose the ground I gained from the enemy.

Moving through this topic, however, it’s okay to share your frustrations and the difficulties you are enduring. As I stated in December: A little bit of commiseration is needed and understandable. Sharing our thoughts about our struggles allows for honest and authentic conversation, which is needed especially is you are new to the unequally yoked walk. But there is a fine line between the commiseration and focus on our troubles.

I’m choosing this New Year to refrain from focusing on our troubles to focusing on what Jesus says about our situations. Some of the topics which I want to write about, I’ve not covered here at SUM prior to now. But I believe looking straight into the Word for our truths, even the tough truths, is what ultimately will prove to be our victory and our joy.

In all my years of living unequally yoked have proven to me that God’s Word is absolutely true, even the hard stuff. When I fully embrace the teachings, I live better, love wholly, and discover more and more of God’s Kingdom here on earth.

What say you?

Up for this adventure?

Let’s look at some hard truths and make them real and powerful in our lives. Let’s start with this one:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’—Matthew 10:34-35

Yikes!!!!

How do we wrangle with this in an unequally yoked marriage? BTW, I don’t know the answer. And let’s have grace with one another as we share our thoughts in the discussion. I’m seeking truth for us. And God’s truth does what?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. — 2 Timothy 3:1-17

I believe God is sending us on this journey because a shift in our heart is required. What do you think? See you in the comments. Love you my friends. I’m so deeply blessed and humbled that you walk this difficult road with me. THANK YOU. Hugs, Lynn

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

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From My Heart to Yours

933344_i_love_youHello SUM family. I'm still in recovery mode for my shoulder and have met another challenge in this process. It seems my body is working against me and has formed scar tissue in my shoulder, which is hindering the rehabilitation process and making it more painful. I confess I was very discouraged to hear this from my doctor today. I will need to step up my therapy and exercises.

So I want to let you know I won't be writing consistently over the next few weeks. That doesn't mean I won't be reading or around. I will be reading posts and your comments as I lay on the table at physical therapy with ice on my shoulder after my torture—I mean therapy sessions (hee hee). And as I do my exercises through out the day I will be praying for you too. 

SUMites, I want you to know that every day I am praying our word of SALVATION over every one of you. I am standing in belief in God's powerful word to us. My friends, I truly believe this is His promise for us this year, and we will see many of our pre-believers being drawn to Abba by His Son Jesus. And I believe it will reach far beyond this year as the effects ripple out. Can you just imagine it?!?!

Please know that I love you all so much. I hate not being here regularly, but do know that if Abba places something on my heart to share, I will! And I am so thankful for all your love and prayers. They are so encouraging and part of my healing. Thank you!

All my love to you!
Dineen

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

THRIVE in your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and raise your children to faith. Our books are filled with practical experience and Biblical advice. -click or tap the photo-

SUM Books 4


Recovering the WOW!

ID-10032933
Photo courtesy of Chaiwat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As December progressed I began to meditate upon a word for 2016. Last year, my word was ADORATION. I’ve loved taking a few moments at the beginning of a day reflecting on a characteristic of God.1

Over the past couple of years I’ve felt the Lord calling me to want more of Him. So much of my life had become ‘me-focused’; even my devotional time would be spent on building me up. Fears and anxiety had dominated too much of my thinking in recent years: fears of illness, unemployability and so on have filled many a session with my counselor plus anxiety over a bevy of stuff. This was what my wife and sons were seeing: the fearful and anxious husband and father. How was I demonstrating the love and power of having Jesus as my Lord?

As my pastor said only yesterday in his message: “the number one scheme of the devil is to throw fear at you. He wants to hinder your purpose.” But God's love has no fear. 

But through soaking in Scripture I’ve begun, slowly, to believe the many promises in it. We really are His chosen people. Yes, God, the creator of everything, chose me. And you! And guess what we’re holy and dearly beloved.2 By Him! It still kinda blows my mind.

Awe

So staying on a word that helps me keep focused on Him kept percolating in my heart. One of the books sitting next to my table is titled “Awe” by Paul David Tripp. So for a week or two I bounced that one around in my mind. It clicked in my mind but something in my heart was holding back from adopting 'Awe' as my word for the year. BTW, I’ve read the first few chapters of “Awe” and it’s tremendous. BTW No 2., I love everything Paul Tripp writes. His thoughts on grace and sin are brilliant.

The New Year

January 1 came around and I’ve started working through Tim Keller’s new book on the Psalms. It’s a year long devotional where each psalm is covered. So January 1 starts with Psalm 1.

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)

Blessed are those who delight in the Word, so much so they meditate on it day and night. They don’t just obey it, but love it. It’s in the loving it, that we obey it.

My mind immediately went to another one of my favourite verses on “delight”, yes, you’ve guessed it:

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

For years I reflected on the second half of that verse until it dawned on me that to realise the second half you gotta do the first half.

Hmmm … delighting.

Revelation

Have you ever wondered why Jesus was able to resist temptation? He was fully human and we’re told He faced all the same temptations we do?

I have. Often. And have often asked Him.

On Sunday the third of January I was out walking and I reflected on this once again and asked Him. Then it hit me.

The reason Jesus was able to resist temptation was that communing with the Father was that much better! He spent so much time with the Father, they delighted in each other. There was a ‘knowing’ that was so much better than anything … yes, anything, that the world could offer.

That kinda blew my mind.

Still does.

And that’s what I want!

Delight

“When we live with an intense love for Him, we find our delight in fulfilling His desires.” (John Bevere)

Sorry for dragging this post out but I wanted to share the process and reflections I’d had to discover my word for 2016 – DELIGHT.

Do you have a word for the year? Don’t worry if you don’t. It’s a relatively new thing for me as up until about three years ago I’d never heard of the idea. But I like it especially as I try to start everyday doing something in relation to it. It provides a focus for my day. It can really set the day up.

I know some shared their words last week, but it would be great if we shared them. Also, please feel comfortable to share any further reflections on last week and how it might have helped shape your year. Even just a little.

Do you mind if I pray for us all:

Heavenly Father, your love is better than life so we praise you with our lips. We love you, we worship you, and we give our lives to you again this week. We desire the same communion that Jesus had with you here on earth. The knowing, the intimacy, the companionship. We declare that we are one with you, just as Jesus is one with you. Holy Spirit, lead us as we pray each day and fill our hearts afresh with the love of the Father. May your love flow abundantly through us in our homes. Help us to love our spouses as you love us. Open their hearts to your great love for them. We give you all the glory and all the honour. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Notes: 1. I found Sara Hagerty’s monthly adoration verses especially useful last year. One verse that focuses on a characteristic of God’s nature. 2. Colossians 3:12

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Proverbs 3 & Spiritually Mismatched Conference

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SUMites. In less than two weeks Dineen and I along with a number of you from our community will be meeting in Detroit, Michigan for a Spiritually Mismatched Conference. It’s not too late to decide to join us.

Start your new year off with a full day focused on living victoriously in a spiritually mismatched marriage. How often is there a conference specific to our unique faith lives?

The day is designed to release victory into our lives and strengthen our faith through a beautiful freedom process. The whole day builds until we reach the most beautiful encounter. The ending of the event is absolutely powerful and is anointed with the healing Presence of Jesus. Hope fulfilled!

It’s not about me or Dineen. It’s all about our kind Father, Jesus our Savior and the Holy Spirit!

If you are able to get there, get there!…. Please make your travel arrangements today. Register for the conference through Eventbright.

Okay, I truly hope a few more of you can join us. Lynn & Dineen

For today, I want to share a passage I read this past week. It has stirred my spirit. What does this passage mean to you?

My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.

Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.

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: 1-6 NLT

I love you Sum family. I speak a blessing of joy, peace and goodness upon you this week. In Jesus name. AMEN 

Also, if you want a Kindness & Loyalty, Key necklace, you can order one by clicking on the Kingdom Necklace link.

Kindness Loyalty Key Necklace

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The Promise of His Covenant

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SUMites, I pray this week of fasting has brought you encouragement and strength this week. I wish I could have fasted more, but my pain medication only allowed me to fast a couple mornings. I am encouraged however that even in the midst of this recovery, which has made focusing on God very challenging, I was still able to hear His heart for our community. That right there knocked another lie out of my spiritual life. For that I am grateful. He has shown me that even in such places of challenge when I don't feel close to Him, He is still speaking and He will make sure I hear Him. 

Our own Cindy C. shared this profound truth perfectly: "Trust God's hold on you MORE than your hold on God." (Thank you, Cindy!)

Now, the rest of Abba's message for us is in Jeremiah 33, where I started on Tuesday. I am sharing here only the key verses so read the entire chapter if you can and seek God to bring this promise into your heart and home.

Then this city (our homes) will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them. — Jeremiah 33:9

The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing, ‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, for the Lord is good. His faithful love endures forever!’ For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord. — Jeremiah 33:11

And this will be its name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ (Yahweh Tsidqenu) —Jeremiah 33:16 (Prophetic reference to 2 Cor. 5:21: We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus)

“This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me." — Jeremiah 33:20-21 (The covenant with David was the prophetic word and promise of Jesus coming.)

My friends, as I read this part, Holy Spirit whispered John 3:16 to my heart. We know this verse well...

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. — John 3:16-17

And this is God's reassurance that He will do what He has said. My friends, I hear God speaking this to us right now, that He is faithful and nothing will stop or hinder the promise He has given us. 

But this is what the Lord says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.” — Jeremiah 33:25-26 

SUMites, this is a powerful promise. Jesus is the final covenant. For two weeks now 2 Peter 3:9 has shown up over and over again. Our God has not been slow to answer our prayers for our pre-believers. He's just been setting things up for the right time so the revelation of His covenant (Jesus) to our pre-believers would be so full that they would turn to Him with their entire hearts (wholehearted!), just as He said in Jeremiah 24:7.

I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly. — Jeremiah 24:7

I believe with my whole heart that time is now, SUMites. It's our harvest time! Hallelujah and Praise Jesus! Amen!
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God Shows Up

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It’s the final day of our community fast. SUM family, what an experience.

For me personally, at the beginning of the week, I was feeling far away from God. I had lost my will to pray and even reading His Word felt as a chore. I was stinging from family pain over the holidays and because of that, holding some unforgiveness in my heart. Yikes!

I knew I needed surrender and renewal. The Holy Spirit did not disappoint. Yesterday was my breakthrough.

Yesterday Southern California, where I live, received a much needed dousing of rain. Rain has fallen steady for over 24 hours. Thank you Jesus for answered prayer.

On Thursday morning, I rose before dawn, as usual. However, pain in my knee caused me to turn around and head back to bed. When I woke a few hours later, pain-free- the sun was brilliant in the sky and the Lord beckoned me to join Him around the fire pit in the backyard. So I wrapped up in a coat, a blanket, took my coffee and my Bible.

Golden finchesThere the Holy Spirit met me. With the fire lit, I began to hear droplets gently fall around me from the branches which glistened with rainwater. The sunshine was warm upon my face. I smiled upward and then suddenly birds arrived and were everywhere in the trees. Tiny golden (yellow) finches. Their tweeting and twittering sounded as worship as they searched for breakfast.

It was glory!

I was loved on for an hour as I read my Bible, listened to the birds and the fire crackle while the sun kissed me. An hour with the Lord passed swiftly as we sat by the fire. And as I rose to head inside and start my day, the sky immediately clouded over and large rain drops began falling once again. Rain is expected all day today.

But, for an hour this morning, the Lord parted the clouds and met me there. Restoration, love, tenderness, gentleness.

His love is gently sweet that way.

I fall more in love with our Lord as the years march on. Regardless of my struggles, the challenges I face or the warfare, I AM LOVED by the Lord of the Universe. And that truth changes everything!

SO ARE YOU!

Today on this last day of the fast, let our Papa God, Jesus our Bride Groom Prince and the Holy Spirit love on you. I feel as though the Lord wants to speak personally to you. And He gave me an unexpected passage, Hosea 2: 14-21. I went to look it up and nearly wept.

So, here it is for you. (I have personalized it in the parentheses.)

My Beloved,

But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert (quiet places) and speak tenderly to her there.

I will return her vineyards (destiny) to her and transform the Valley of Trouble (struggles) into a gateway of hope (provision, joy, peace and goodness, Rom 14:17).

She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt (captivity of satan).

When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’ (I long to hear this from your lips, says the Lord.)

O Israel (Beloved), I will wipe the many names of Baal (false gods, fear loneliness, lack, anxiety, depression, separation, disappointment and pain) from your lips, and you will never mention them again.

On that day I will make a covenant (promise) with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky (loved this today) and the animals that scurry along the ground so they will not harm you. (perfect peace)

I will remove all weapons of war from the land (homes, marriages, children), all swords and bows, so you can live unafraid in peace and safety. (fearless and free)

I will make you my wife (for men: Prince in the Kingdom) forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.

I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord. (forever)

“In that day, I will answer,” says the Lord. “I will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds. And the sky will answer the earth with rain. (AMEN)

Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees. And they in turn will answer, ‘Jezreel’—‘God plants!’ (God favors, protects, increases, give s in abundance)

At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites (believers) and raise them for myself. I will show love to those I called ‘Not loved.’ And to those I called ‘Not my people,’ (unsaved)

I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’ (Image bearers of Christ Jesus!)

And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’” (Yes, Lord, AMEN)

Community, what is the Lord speaking to you today? What has this fast meant to you? How did God meet you? I also encourage you to press through for prayers that remain unanswered. For our God loves us and it is His will to answer. Allow Him the time to set “all-things” in motion.

See you in the comments. I’m praying for you today. Love, Lynn

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Praying for Peace and Prosperity

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My friends, as I shared on Tuesday, I have an amazing story to tell you today. I just want to say personally how grateful I am for those moments that reveal His presence at work in our lives. I am renewed and strengthened every time by those moments. My faith grows and hope is restored. How about you?

This was one of those moments. During the week, Holy Spirit had revealed more of Abba's heart for us through Scriptures in Jeremiah. More specific than I anticipated so I asked Him to please confirm that I was hearing Him correctly.

Sunday morning I went to church and the pastor of my church was speaking on the EXACT same Scriptures and message that Holy Spirit had shown me for our community. My friends, I can only imagine what I looked like as I sat there with my eyes bugging out and my mouth hanging open. 

Simply put, God's message for us is Jeremiah 29:11, a verse we know very well. But He showed me what He asking us to do as we wait for the salvation of our pre-believers.

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” — Jeremiah 29:5-7

The Lord was instructing the Israelites through Jeremiah to thrive and prosper in the place they were in. Let me clear that Holy Spirit isn't saying that we have been exiled in our marriages. And also let me clarify too that if you read Jeremiah in it's entirety you will see that God instructed them to do this in order that they may live and not die. His plan most likely made little sense to them from a human perspective—to go into exile as captives to another country, yet God's plan was for them to grow, thrive and prosper. 

Our circumstances do not often reveal the plans and purposes of God, but they will reveal His presence at work if we seek Him and seek to obey what He is asking us to do in that moment or place in our timeline.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." — Jeremiah 29:11-13

My dear SUM family, God spoke this to my heart last week: "Steward well what I have given you." I confess I've had to do some internal examination to get my heart back on track in some places. My surgery and recovery have really tested some places in my faith.

But I know without a doubt that our God is at to work in our marriages and that 2016 will be a year of salvation and the beginning of a great harvest in our community. I have walked this path of the mismatched for 20 years and have prayed as faithfully as I could each prayer that Abba has given me to pray over my hubby. And now I am beginning to see the harvest of the seeds I have planted. Just this weekend, my mother even commented on the change she has seen in him. I am not the only one witnessing it now.

SUMites, lets not give up when we are on the verge of such a stunning breakthrough. Pray as Holy Spirit has told you to pray. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance on how to pray for your pre-believer in 2016, write it down and continue to faithfully pray and believe as you wait. Abba is asking us to seek the peace and prosperity of our marriages in a whole new way. I've no doubt as you seek Him, He will reveal to you, lead you too, or move you in this new direction. Just remain spiritually receptive to what He wants to say to or show you. This week of fasting is a great time to do this, to know how He is calling you to do this so you move closer to the promise of Jeremiah 11 each day.

And I will tell you now that the key ingredient to what He shows you will be love. To love with the heart and passion of Jesus Christ flowing through us. That is what I have witnessed most powerfully in my marriage, and I am now convinced it is foundational to thriving and planting seeds in our marriages. To transformation and salvation!

Lord, we come before you in great humility, recommitting our marriages to You. We stand as Your faithful SUMites ready to steward well our marriages and our families as You are calling us to do. We trust you, Lord, to provide all that we need to do this and to inspire us with great knowledge and wisdom to love our pre-believers with the love of Jesus. Today we declare as a community that our marriages will be places of peace and prosperity for the glory of Jesus Christ. In His amazing name and love we pray, amen!

My dear friends, share in the comments what you believe Holy Spirit is showing you for your marriage and 2016. I want to pray in agreement with you. I love you so much, SUMites. I am looking forward to walking, waiting and thriving in 2016 with you!
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Praying Matthew 18:18 Day Three Community Fast

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Welcome to Day Three of our Community Fast.

I also want to welcome any listeners from the Bob Dutko Show (1:00 ET) who are joining us today. Your prayers have been heard by God. You have found an amazing home one the web. Take a minute to read about Our Community and plan to join us in the fantastic life of living for Jesus.

Three skeleton keysSUMites, I have been fascinated by keys. Specifically the keys that are mentioned in the Bible. And I believe God is revealing and giving keys to His people. Do a word study on Keys… I’m blown away by the Key of David. I could chat with you for hours about the significance and the passages about keys.

But for today, I want to share with you a glimpse of the classroom the Lord has me in. Binding and loosing from Mathew 18:18. On Monday I spoke a blessing over you. This was loosing the purposes of heaven, and specifically for this year is Psalm 65:11. Personally, I have been wrapped up in the attributes of the Kingdom of Heaven from Romans 14:17.

So today, we are going to practice some binding. Pray with me:

Our Holy Father,

In the name of Jesus and through the Holy Spirit power and covered by love, I declare that 2016 to be a year of victorious living. I pray and will walk in the Kingdom of peace, joy and righteousness. I come before the Mercy Seat of Heaven and I ask you to prosper my marriage and grant salvation to my spouse. I ask that you sanctify my children and include them in powerful faith and adventures with You, Lord.

Father God, I seek your blessing over my physical body and I rebuke sin in my thoughts, body, mind and imaginations. I ask that you destroy every work of the dark kingdom and release into me authority to stand for my family and marriage as you instruct in 1 Corinthians 7:14. I speak to every mountain of despair, fear, anxiety, depression, shame and unworthiness and I tell it to be cast into the sea, never to return to me or my family members.

Lord, remove from my life any habitual sin that is blocking me from hearing Your voice and I ask that I would hear You speak to me often as I obey your commands. I break the power and cast off all false gods, false coping strategies, any sexual sin, alcohol, drugs, obsessive or compulsive disorder, fantasy, gaming, gossip and slander and I forbid myself to walk in a lukewarm faith.

Lord let me walk as a fire breathing, sold-out, devil fighting, warrior of the Kingdom. I choose to walk in love, forgiveness, grace, tenderness, and gently love my family, my community and the nations into Your Kingdom. Light me on fire today and let me burn with Your bright light, set on a hill, that all can see that living in Your Presence is the best and only place to live.

Lord, I ask that I experience a growing and unfathomable love with you this year. I ask that the Holy Spirit rest upon me and that angels surround me. I pray that I will represent you well. Teach me this year. Place the keys of the Kingdom in my hands and let me walk, unbroken in supernatural faith.

I love you with all of my heart. You are my strength, my purpose and my divine destiny. I will rejoice in our victories together and I will worship you in a pure spirit and in truth.

You are my life. You are my first love. You are my all in all.

Your Beloved.

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Okay Sumites, the devil is terrified that you just prayed this. Now walk it out and believe. This prayer is filled with scripture  promises. 2016 is our year. And it will be amazing as we watch God move and people come to faith.

Leave your prayers in the comments. Share with me the scripture verses God has you camped on. Or say AMEN in the comments that you prayed this prayer, in faith and aloud.

Woo Hoo!!!! Let’s get our victory dance on!!! I love you. Today is breakthrough day in our fast…. Stay the course and listen for His voice. Love you much, Lynn

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For those of you who have asked about my key necklaces, you can now get your own. Three Keys Ministry Necklaces, Three Keys Ministry Necklaces. Hugs, Lynn

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Praying for Figs

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My friends, I’ve been praying for our community and seeking God’s heart for us these last two weeks. Reading your comments and hearing your heart has so encouraged me. I love seeing God work in your lives!

SUM family, I believe God has given me a powerful word for our community. When I first heard Holy Spirit speak this to me, I was quite stunned and then realized this was not only a word for me but a corporate word as well for our SUM community. I've been praying into this for understanding and leading for us. 

That word is SALVATION.

As I prayed for understanding and wisdom as to what this word means for us, Holy Spirit kept taking me to Jeremiah, a very challenging book to read in the Bible. But thankfully His intentions became clear as I came to chapter 24:

After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord.

One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten.

And the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”

Then the word of the Lord came to me:

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans.

I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up.

I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. — Jeremiah 24:1-7

The Holy Spirit impressed upon me that our pre-believers are like those good figs and then He showed me how we are to pray for them in connection to our word, salvation. My friends, I am so excited to see what God does in 2016 in our community. I also believe that this year's most important mission for us each is to "plump" our pre-believers up with our love, the love of Jesus.

My friends, pray with me today as we fast and let's commit to praying the following prayers throughout this next year. Let's determine to walk in faith that God's will and purpose for our pre-believers will be done.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, set Your eyes on our pre-believers for good. Bring them to the land of faith. Build them up and plant them with deep roots. Give them a heart to know You are the Lord. Fill us with Your love in great abundance so that we can pour that love into our pre-believers so they will be plump figs for Your harvest.

Declaration: Lord, we declare that __________ will be Your people and You will be his God, for they shall return and turn to You with their whole heart. In the Mighty name of Jesus, amen!

And there is more. On Thursday I will share more of what God's heart is for us in 2016 and how He used my pastor to confirm it. Absolutely astonishing! 

I love you, SUMites. I know we walk a difficult path but our God has not abandoned us. Far from it. He has placed us where we are for specific purposes. I will share more on Thursday. 
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A Personal Blessing For You

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I was deeply moved by the Holy Spirit to actually speak to you as we begin our fast. I have a blessing and a scripture for you this year. 

There is great power in our words and I know the words the Lord placed upon my heart bear great significance when you receive them with your ears. As the leader of our SUM community I have a blessing to impart to you for your heart, your home, and your family. I also have a powerful scripture verse that I want to speak into your life.

Take a few minutes and listen as I speak with love to you. Receive these words and let them fill you with joy today. 

 

After listening, I pray you are filled with a greater measure of the Holy Spirit and that you experience the power of blessing starting today.

 

Now, for a few reminders as you fast today. 

  • When the hunger pangs begin, use that moment as a cue to turn your heart toward Jesus and speak to Him as a friend. Talk to Him and then listen.
  • Remember to set the expectations of your family. Tell them you are fasting and set up expectations about when you will or won't be in the kitchen. grin
  • Be gentle with yourself. This isn't a strict, "no-eating" discipline. This is a prayer and fasting focus to step deeper into God's Presence, experience His love and hear His voice.

I will be praying with you through the comments. Please tell me how I may bring your heart and life before our Father. I love you. Lynn

Fast 2016 Day One

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