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14 entries from December 2017

FASTING FOR BREAKTHROUGH

Fasting 2018SUMite Nation

Next week, January 8-12, 2018… We will fast together in a Corporate expression of sacrifice and prayer. Seeking a greater intimacy with the Lord and seeking revelation for the year ahead.

Begin to think about what and how you are going to fast. Prepare your family and let them know you will be fasting. Pre-prepare meals for them and let them know that you need their support to fast.

My challenge is for you to fast an entire five days from solid foods. And for some of you who truly need a miracle, a water only fast for five days. If you can’t fast all five days, consider a sunrise to sunset fast, with dinner in the evening.

I also challenge you to fast from television and devote that time to reading the Bible or another book that will strengthen your faith.

Let me ask you this. Do you want 2018 to be better, different, to walk closer to the Lord? Then plan to fast. I’ve discovered through my personal fasting that I did in the fall of 2017, how and what happens in the spiritual realm when we fast.

It’s worth it.

I’ll share more in the days ahead.

Begin praying now for the Lord to call you into a fasting period. Ask Him to supernaturally help you to refrain from eating and to develop a hunger for more of Him.

If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you will receive what you always receive.

WE WANT CHANGE! Let’s fast and bring the power of the Spirit of God into a place of prominence in our lives. Hallelujah!!!

Love you my brothers and sisters. It's gong to be a GREAT year! Lynn

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This Really Happened Under My Roof

IMG_3821Meet Finn.

His mama was found wandering about Los Angeles and birthed a litter right around Christmas day. We adopted this little buddy from a Chiwawa pet rescue. We also adopted his sister, Gracie, nearly two years ago.

Finn, I’ve come to decide, is a special needs doggie. Something happened to him before our ownership that has left him with permanent pain in his back-hind quarters. He often yips and yelps and scurries along the floor like someone is chasing him because of the moments of pain he experiences. We have taken this poor mutt to the Vet several times, x-rays and exams to figure out what is causing this pain.

Nothing.

We can’t figure it out and he continues to be in pain. This causes the little pooch to be very fearful. He’s also obsessively devoted to my husband Mike. Follows him everywhere.

It breaks my heart to look upon the pup and his suffering. So much so, that I often will sit next to him and gently pet his back and pray over him saying, “I love you Finney. I bless you with peace, in Jesus name. I bless you to be healed, in Jesus name. I bless you to be free from fear, in Jesus name. I bless you with peace in Jesus name.”

I seriously have seen progress and his pain appears to be less than last year. But alas, there are good days for this little doggie and not so good days.

I suppose you are wondering why I’m sharing this story. Well, recently I was in the kitchen and I heard the dog yelp as he jumped up on the couch next to my husband. The yelping bothers Mike as well. To my astonishment, Mike pet the dog and said to him, “I bless you with peace in Jesus name.”

I stared.

Mike smiled back.

My instinct checked in and I said, “You need to bless him again because it’s persistence that is the key to heaven.”

SERIOUSLY. This was happening under our roof.

Mike, “I bless you with peace in Jesus name,” as he looked at Finn.

Gang,….. In Jesus name.

This man spoke it. The name to which every knee will bow….. He spoke it. (Romans 14:11)

I grinned at him. And Mike grinned back.

We went on with our day and I believe that all of my 25 years of praying, living out my faith, loving and forgiving is producing the results of every promise in the Word for me as a child of God.

The LORD recently has caused me to realize that it’s been my pain, discouragement, disappointment and unmet expectations that have been the springboard into the most amazing faith adventure.

ALL OF IT has led me into the brilliant experiences of this verse:

Christ in me, the hope of glory. —Colossians 1:27

This promise is for all of us.

Everything worthy in God’s realm is won by hard work, persistence and pounding on the doors of heaven. Every single thing. This faith walk is not for the faint of heart, nor those who will give up easily. But when you put in the years, the hard work of healing, prayer and faithfully living of God’s Word, you will see the glory.

How do I know? Never in a million years would I have thought my husband would bless anyone or anything and never ever, ever in the name of Jesus Christ.

It’s the season of miracles. Press toward the goal my friends. (Philippians 3:14) It’s worth the price.

I love you my SUMite family. I bless you today with the peace of heaven. In Jesus name. AMEN

Stay tuned as the first week of January will be our prep-week for our annual community fast. We will fast together, with new insights that I have learned about fasting, the week of January 8-12, 2018.

I’m listening to the LORD for our promises for the year. It’s going to be the best year ever.

Hugs, Lynn

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Fellow Laborers

“It’s hard being a girl guide!”

Those words, inaudible but clear, woke me one morning, just as the birds were beginning to sing. It felt like a word from the Holy Spirit, but I struggled to understand. Only months later did a sudden ‘a-ha’ come: SUM Girl guide

I am the ‘girl who guides’ my husband, the one who spiritually leads. It’s not the way God intended. That’s why it's so hard.

God had just explained my hurting heart to me. It doesn’t sound much, but it was really helpful. 

I thought that was it, but last week, quite unexpectedly, this ‘girl guide’ word unfolded into something more: A promise for our community! I feel led to post it here, and I hope it encourages you, as it has me.

Here’s what happened:

Last week, one of our SUMites, Jan, had a dream featuring boy scouts. She described it on our Facebook group and asked, ‘Does this mean anything to anyone?’ My ears pricked up (girl guides ... boy scouts), and the minute I read it a meaning came. In fact, the dream was one of two she had:  

In the first dream, we (the SUMites) were diligently working away at desks. Lynn came in to meet with us, but first had an interview with CNN to complete. 

In the second dream, we were at an outdoor venue and were showing a movie about Jesus. One person, a spouse, was attempting to compare Jesus and a Greek god as dying on the same day. Lynn had to leave to go to another event, but we ended up having a large group of boy scouts from Maryland show up, and we began the movie again. 

The first thing I thought of was that two dreams can mean "the matter has firmly been decided by God, and God will do it soon" (Gen 41:32). Well, here we had two dreams - What fun! In both, we were working as a team, with Lynn leading us while also ministering elsewhere. These dreams, to me, seemed to address something intentional about our work.

I can't help but think we’re watching Lynn’s reach extending and expanding -- it's exciting. And perhaps these dreams suggest that the rest of us also have new work ahead! Like the outdoor movie, we evangelise outside the church walls -- and we show more than tell. We have begun that work, but our effectiveness will really bloom once our spouses join us.

Currently, our spouses issue a voice of challenge. But we do know that will change. Where the spouse in the dream was initially arguing that Jesus was no different to a myth, that sentiment can change so that our spouses declare 'the day Jesus died so did everything else false!' Just like Haman’s plans were turned (Esther 6:10-11), the voice of resistance can turn to the voice of persistence!

And the large number of boy scouts?  I believe they represent our spouses, our other halves: boy scouts joining their girl guides. They will come from a place of deep intimacy, a place where people sit at Jesus’ feet (Maryland!) And once they join us, the show will really start.

Pulling it together, then, could it be that our evangelism in the home is only the start of a bigger job -- a wider evangelism -- ahead of us? A job in which we will co-labor with our spouses?

Indeed, 2017 was to be a year of promises revealed (see 9 January) and here it feels like we've gone from being told 'it's hard being a girl guide' to being told the boy scouts are on their way!

It reminds me of this verse:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.

He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard.

He will tell you about the future (John 16:13, NLT).

As 2017 closes, have you any further thoughts on this and/or any of the other promises we've been given as a community? It'd be great to hear your thoughts! 

Ann

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There Once Was A Man Who Didn't Believe

6a00d83451ee9f69e20105365c5148970b-piThere was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused.

"That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.

When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.

image from unequalmarriage.typepad.comThe geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn, but they still didn't catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human.

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.

Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn - and one by one the other geese followed it to safety!

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind:

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them!" 

Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese - blind, lost, and perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized!

As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come.

Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: 

"Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!" 

~Author Unknown

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The Voice of Hope This Christmas

Luke 2 11 Manger at NightAnd there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” —Luke 2:8-12

Years of antiquity, long since passed, in a singular moment of time, a Prince was born. Conceived in holiness, brought forth and swaddled in lowliness. His name declared in the heavens with shouts of wonder, from the angels On High. The pride of His Father.

His name, Emmanuel – God with us.

This humble child, a gift to the multitudes whom toil in bitterness and strife. The years of His youth, His stature increased as love and wisdom grew gaining favor with God and mankind. His voice, a ministry of kindness, mercy, repentance and forgiveness, releasing the people to hope once again, to believe and witness the power of a good Father.

Raised as an example to follow. His message was clear:

Peace silences confusion and fear.

Truth frees minds from anxiety, depression, addiction, and trauma.

Joy restores dreams and creativity.

Righteous conquers illness.

Forgiveness heals the heart, mind, and soul.

Love defeats hate.

This babe born and placed in a trough of animals, grown, then hung on a tree. Cursed of our sins, now forgiven, are you and me. The power of heaven lights the sky. Flashes of victory and out of death He rises. The world now redeemed. Time split in two. Miracles and healing declared for the earth.

In centuries long past, He was born the lowliest of Kings. Now raised to life, He reigns unmatched, to restore our dreams, heal hearts, establish health and defeat darkness. He is:

The King of Kings
Lion of Judah
Bright and Morning Star

Prince of Peace
Emmanuel

He is Jesus.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28

 

Jesus, you are my hope and my future. Thank you for your humble beginnings and your victory at the cross. I ask you to come into my heart and rule in my life. I ask you to forgive my failures and offenses and I choose to forgive others. Today, I receive the gift of eternal life. I am a new creation and receive salvation through the Holy Spirit. In Your name, Jesus. AMEN

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Advent - Jesus Came to Bring us Life!

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Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So here we all are. The week before Christmas with still lots to do. Work to finish off, shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, travelling and hosting just to name a few things. It’s exhausting just reading that list.

Besides all of this we may have the added stress of having family staying with us (we do) and/or going to stay with family. A quick tip, delegate things. Don’t try to do it all. Engage everyone in the doing. Yes, this can be a struggle and frankly I’m preaching this as much to myself as anyone. Because sometimes people don’t follow instructions well or try to take over.

Breathe, Ian, breathe.

Abundant Life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV)

We all know this verse. At Christmas both parts of the verse are very relevant. The enemy will do everything to wreck Christmas. But. But. Jesus came to give us life and an abundance of it. Oh, how easy it is for us to forget especially when the stress levels are rising.

For many of us Christmas can bring back many sad memories of loss and grief. And because it’s Christmas we tend to feel those emotions even stronger. May I encourage you not to try and block them out. Let those feelings come. And when they do picture Jesus standing with you. Holding you. Grieving and crying with you. Feeling those same emotions.

Hold onto the truth that our Lord was born on Christmas Day so we could have life! An abundant life! With Him.

He arrived in a world that was in chaos. A world that was desperate for the promised Messiah. After 400 years many would have given up.

He arrived in a war zone. The supernatural war was intense.

He arrived in a time when the Romans held an iron grip on society.

He arrived ... so you and I could have … life. In abundance.

Cherish Jesus this Christmas. Cherish your family and friends.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’ (Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV)

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS

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Sumite Prayer Partners

Prayer Partnerships - SUMHello Sumite sisters and brothers, Christy Edney here. This time of year seems pregnant with hope, bursting at the seams with joy and emotion. However, not everyone views this season in that same way. It can be especially hard for those of us in unequal marriages. We may feel our souls cry out against the tide of unending materialism or we may bear witness to the enemy’s increased attacks in our home. Over the last week I’ve read more and more stories of our husbands falling prey to the attack that manifests itself through verbal assaults or irrational behavior. Please know that you have the support of this community, we love you and pray for you daily. I would like to call our attention to one sentence buried in the middle of the well-read Christmas story found in Luke 2:17-19

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 

Let’s notice that Mary, through the excitement of his birth and the stream of visitors, she chose to focus on the promise of who her baby would become. We can choose to focus our hearts and minds on the gift of salvation freely given in the form of this helpless baby, Jesus Christ. Please pray with me,

Mighty God, we strive to focus our hearts on the truth of the Christmas gift, the promise of hope in Jesus Christ. Teach us to be like Mary, to store up what we know about you and your promises. We offer gratitude for the gift that you’ve freely given us and we seek to live our lives in obedience to your call. Father, we lift up our unbelieving spouses. We thank you for what you have done, are doing and will do until the day of completion. We declare their salvation in the name of Jesus Christ. We pray and praise in the matchless name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

More information on our Sumite Prayer Partnerships can be found by clicking this link: Sumite Prayer Partners

f you are ready to receive a prayer partner then please send me an email using this link: Email Christy Edney In your email, please provide your name and your geographic location. 

If you and your partner are experiencing difficulty or you would like prayer then please email me using this link: Email Christy Edney

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Christmas Blessing For Your Dinner Table

Merry Christmas SUMite Family,

My heart is deeply moved for all of you. I realize that this time of year and Christmas day, especially can create in us dreams and expectations about how we want the holiday to unfold. I know that I often felt disappointment, anger, frustration when it didn’t follow the idea I held in my heart.

Please hold the day loosely and before the Father in surrendered prayer. Realize that things will not go exactly as you hoped. And you may attend Christmas Eve service alone or a family member changes how you wanted the day to play out.

I want to give you some tools to use to walk through this day with peace and love.

Start by blessing yourself with peace. We are to model the life of Jesus, right? He blessed. Remember the sermon on the Mount? The Bible says to bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)

Just this morning I found myself struggling with a million things, a long to-do list, spiritual unrest (I’ll share that story later), emotional unrest. I was driving and frustrated with every motorist in front of me who was obviously moving waaaaay too slow, when the Holy Spirit said, “Bless yourself.” So immediately I said the following and I give this gift to you as well. It works. It really does:

(Say aloud) I bless myself with peace. I bless myself with peace. I bless myself with peace. (Immediately, my shoulders relaxed, and I felt the tension drain from my body and soul.) I bless myself with the attributes of heaven; peace, joy and goodness. I know that I am loved. Lynn, Jesus loves you. Lynn, Jesus loves you. Lynn, Jesus loves you. I bless the motorists around me with peace. I bless my home with peace. I bless my kids. I bless my husband. I love you Jesus. I love you Jesus. Holy Spirit fill my car. Fill my heart. Empower me to walk in your grace in this hour. Thank you, Jesus. I love you.

I want to offer you something else to ponder this season. Perhaps you can take this blessing to others. The power of blessing can change years of hurt. When I pray with people on the phone or in a Freedom Prayer session, we always come to a place where we bless those we are forgiving. We ask Jesus to bless them with what they need. And usually these people we have forgiven need a lot. So, bless them in your prayer time. Forgive and then bless.

To take this blessing a step further, at the dinner table, perhaps, you can say the blessing for the food. Or you can walk around the table and touch each shoulder and bless them with words of affirmation. Take advantage of this time when hearts are tender and share what you see as their potential.

For example, I would say something like this over Mike: I bless you today because you are a man of integrity. You are an amazing father. I bless you because you give of your heart to me and our children, and grandchildren. I bless you to be recognized at work for your long hours. Your ability to problem solve. I bless you to be respected and liked by your clients, and I bless you that bosses will love you. I bless you because you have loved me well. I bless you with the love of Jesus.

For my daughter: I bless you today because you have a heart of kindness. I bless you because you deeply care about orphans. I bless you today because you apply yourself to attain the goals set before you. I bless you with greater experiences of love with Jesus. I bless you because you are a loyal and true friend. I bless you because you carry a servant heart. I bless you to walk fully in all the Father has prepared for you. I bless you with the love of Jesus today.

These are short blessings and perhaps you can speak them out, perhaps you can only pray them in your prayer time. But, bless your family in this season. It may change the entire day, month and the years ahead.

My friend, Pam Farrel, wrote her blessing out one year and gave it to her father at Christmas, who was an alcoholic for her entire childhood. She grew up in a mismatched home. He wept. She wept. He began to ask her questions about Jesus in the months following. He gave his heart to Christ and that was the last Christmas he had on this earth.

OH, BLESS and do not curse. Love and let Jesus shine in you. Give Jesus your expectations and let Him overwhelm you with His surprises.

I love you SUMites. I truly LOVE you.

Taking the week off from here. See you after Christmas. Love, Lynn

Church Merry Christmas

*****

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Submission vs. Obedience Part II by Martha Bush

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSubmission vs. Obedience

Introduction

In Part 1 of Submission vs. Obedience, I told my story of obeying the Lord’s new direction for my life, and the opposition I faced from my husband in doing so.

Today, let’s get right down to business and try to decipher what is sometimes a controversial and confusing subject.

Submission vs. Obedience

I have read so many books on “this is what submission is, this is what submission is not.” And yet, I am still left with lots of questions, as many of you have also indicated.

I personally believe in order to understand it, we have to look closely at other scriptures to see the big picture of how I Peter 3 plays out in our lives, as we try to submit, reference, honor, esteem, and appreciate our husbands as the head of the household.

So today, I want to look at two questions that keep popping up in our Sumite Family. (More to come) I will give you scripture references to think about, and you ask the Lord to reveal to you how they fit in.

Questions

  1. My husband is demanding, controlling, and harsh as the head of the household. How do I respect and give honor to that kind of treatment?

1 Peter 4:1: “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”

Romans 5:3-4: We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, character, and hope.

I don’t know about you, but there were times that I had all the character building I wanted in facing opposition and harsh words.

But, I Peter 3 places no condition on whether we honor or not. So, I came to the place of honoring my husband, but not the behavior. I left him for God to deal with on that matter.

In addition, I began to study how to respond to harsh words from every resource I could find. It paved the way for me to stop sinning in my responses to him. In short, my brass, arrogant, attitude began to improve.

  1. My husband forbids me to go to church. What does God’s Word really say about church attendance?

Quoting from Lynn on Sumite Sisters in Christ:

Hebrews 10:25: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.

I reference this scripture and am convinced it is a directive straight from God. We become vulnerable to the enemy without community, prayer, teaching and communion.

I have great difficulty with a spouse that would forbid a wife to attend church – that is control and not love. We can respect and submit through love to our husband’s wisdom, but control is not wisdom. It’s manipulation cloaked in fear.

We NEED church. We need to meet together and learn. Church and women’s bible study saved my marriage. I’m so thankful.

After 25 years I still go by myself. It is the best part of my life. Something spiritual happens to me in corporate worship – filling, peace, joy and love.

Now there is no condemnation in Christ, because there are situations that may prohibit church attendance. I understand, but for me. I would crawl there if I had to. And the LORD has rewarded me greatly because of my lifetime of commitment to His Kingdom and to the Bride.

***** 

Food for thought: John Bevere, author of Honor’s Rewards 

Proverbs 3:9 commands us to Honor the Lord.

We are to esteem, respect, and reverence Him above anyone or anything. We dishonor Him if we value anyone or anything above Him. He is the Great King; He is worthy to receive all our respect, not just a portion.

When we compromise the will of God, as revealed in His Word, in order to honor someone, even if it’s within our own family, we in essence sin against God.

Conclude

I want to conclude with a prophecy given to me during my journey.

You’ve come through a hard testing, and your faith was what was being tried. Just like Abraham, we read about Abraham taking Isaac upon the mountain thinking he was going to have to use him as a sacrifice, and we think Abraham went up there with ease, but agony was in Abraham’s heart as he went through that testing. But, he pressed on, and he came through the testing.

I saw the agony in your heart, and I chose not to make it easy, but I chose for you to press on in because I knew that it would be of much value for you.

And because of this, there shall be much reward, for I have brought you into another realm of faith. Even this new realm shall surely be tested, but you will have that backbone within you to come through it.

***

You put me through this, Lord? Gee thanks. How much backbone do I need?

Blessings to you,

Martha

Bio: Martha lives in Orange, Texas where she leads and SUM Group.  She and her husband, Glen, are the parents of two daughters and 4 grandchildren. 

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Advent - God of Surprises

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Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I sat chatting with my publisher. We’d only just met face to face for the first time and here we sat, an Englishman and an Aussie, having a cup of tea (as in hot) in a café in a Nashville hotel. We were attending a Christian Writers Conference, he prospecting for new content and I hoping he’d give me an update on my manuscript that I’d sent through to his employer three months previous.

Unfortunately, Tony knew nothing about my manuscript. He was now a contractor to the business and so wasn’t involved in the day-to-day. I thought we’d end up having a nice chat about nothing in particular until he quickly changed the subject with the question: “Have you thought of writing non-fiction?” (for those of you who don’t know I write fiction).

My heart jumped a little. I’d come to the conference having played around with an idea for a non-fiction project to discuss with some of my writing friends and one in particular, our very own Dineen Miller. But I didn’t plan on pitching it, as this was a fiction conference so I naively thought who’s going to be interested in non-fiction? Well, Tony was.

Not being prepared, I babbled out an idea and it was clear to both Tony and I that all I had was a general concept. He kindly agreed to my suggestion of sending him a proposal in the next month.

As soon as I finished with Tony I sought out Dineen and with much excitement shared what happened.

I’ve attended two of these conferences now and both times the Lord has surprised me.

Mary

We’re all familiar with the story in Luke 1. Last week we looked at Gabriel surprising Zechariah with the news of a baby. In verses 26-38, Gabriel appears a second time to a poor Galilean peasant girl. Most commentators believe Mary was 13 or 14 years old. It was relatively common in those times for girls of this age to be married and pregnant and I’ve always loved the innocence of Mary’s question to Gabriel: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (v34 ESV)

This was only the first of a lifetime of surprises for Mary. God turned this girl’s life upside down in an instant.

Mary and Elizabeth

The surprises continue. And we’re still in Chapter 1. Mary’s now pregnant and she visits her cousin, Elizabeth who is now almost six months pregnant.

“and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit ”” (v40-42 ESV)

The babe inside Elizabeth, ie, John, leaped when Mary greeted Elizabeth. The spiritual electricity is hot. The baby senses the presence of the Messiah. And then Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit! Wow.

After this initial Holy Spirit-charged greeting, Mary, we’re told remained with Elizabeth for about three months. (v56) Here we have a 60-year-old woman, six months pregnant, with her fourteen-year-old cousin who was in her first trimester. Both women no doubt supported each other in very practical ways through their respective pregnancies. Just imagine some of their conversations! 

Can we presume Mary was present at the birth of John? Did she assist in the birth? Did she hear Zechariah speak his first words after being mute for nine months?

And then Mary went home. With a baby bump. Surprising her betrothed, their families and communities. I expect Mary would have been dreading that day of departure. 

How has God surprised you recently?

It didn’t take long for more surprises. Chapter 2 starts by telling us that the Romans are planning a census and everyone needed to go to their own towns to register. Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem “the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David” (v4) only for Mary to soon go into labour then giving birth to Jesus in a barn because the inn was full due to the influx of people registering.

The Messiah! Born in a barn? Another surprise.

As we journey closer to Christmas, now only 14 days away, may we all be surprised by our Lord. May we all have expectant hearts as we keep our eyes on Him.

When was the last time the Lord surprised you? It would be lovely for us all to share in each other’s surprises by adding them in the comments. I trust this will fill us with even more hope as we wait upon the Lord in this season of Advent.

Grace and peace,

*****

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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1 Peter 3 - Same But Different

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comThank you, Martha, for your powerful post about submission vs obedience on Friday. I believe she is working on a follow up and I will post it when she sends it along.

Today, I want to continue with what the Lord was showing me a few weeks ago about 1 Peter 3. If you recall, God has me camped in the books of Peter and He suggested I read all of the chapters. Reading chapter three, I sensed the Holy Spirit focus on something we, the unequally yoked, usually miss because we are hung up on the first verse and we miss the rest. And the rest of the passage is amazing.

So, let’s look at this passage.

1 Peter 3New International Version (NIV)

3 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,

2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.

4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands,

6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

As I read through this the Lord said, “Read it differently. What if the verses were in a different order?”

Then I heard the passage like this:

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, you are (Sarah’s) daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Okay, I realize this is only my conversation with the Lord, so please understand, I am not changing scripture but as I read the scripture in this order, I felt the Lord help me to change focus.

I could feel conviction of the Lord to submit to my husband to win him to faith but ALSO to do what is right and not give way to fear. The Holy Spirit flooded my heart with understanding. Submission is a behavior of obedience to God and that kind of behavior is what will win the hearts of our husbands. Also, I realized that fear does not communicate faith to unbelievers. In fact, worldly people perceive fear as a weakness.

What I believe the Lord was trying to show me is that back in the day, when the church was new, people were converting to faith in droves for the very first time. They didn’t know how to proceed when they came to faith and found themselves in a marriage with an unbeliever. Peter, sharing under the Holy Spirit unction, is urging them/us to remain married and preserve the family. Yet, live out authentic faith without fear. When we do so, our obedient behavior to the Lord is the testimony to our unbelieving spouse. This kind of faith without fear is straight from the heart of God. And when empowered by the gifts of the Spirit, results in a beautiful submission out of love, compassion, great wisdom and the power of God to our spouse, our marriage, our family and ultimately to God for His glory.

Bold faith brings thousands to Christ. That’s a fact. Faith is NOT a weakness nor for the weak minded. It’s a powerful life of miracles, provision, protections and more. When we demonstrate that we live and believe in THAT kind of Kingdom, people are moved, changed, and want to be part of it.

After this revelation I sensed how the devil turns our hearts to believe the way to receive our husband’s approval is: Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. (vs 3)

However, lasting beauty/relationships are developed through behaviors of authenticity and vulnerability, exactly like this: Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (vs 4) when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (vs 2)

By the way, this is what makes a marriage successful.

Wow and WOW! Okay, thank you for allowing me to share my prayer time with you. I think that 90 percent of all the decisions we make, are motivated out of fear or love. And this passage speaks exactly to the core of our beliefs. It’s a daily battle to choose love and to operate out of the gifts of the Spirit and overcome our fears.

Share your thoughts. Does this resonate with you and how can we encourage one another to operate out of love and not fear? 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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Submission vs. Obedience by Martha Bush

SUM Nation, 

Several weeks ago I read such a great response in the Facebook Group by Martha Bush, specific to Submission and obedience. I asked her to share her perspective with all of us today since we are camped in the books of Peter. This post is authentic and powerful. Thank you Martha. Hugs, Lynn

*****

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSubmission vs. Obedience

Polly’s Story

Travel back to the 1900’s with me to the home of Smith Wigglesworth and his wife, Polly.

Prior to his salvation and fame as a minister, Smith harshly persecuted Polly for her faith, and demanded that she not go to church.  She didn’t obey his command, instead would make his dinner and head for church every Sunday.

One night, Polly came home from church later than usual. Smith scolded, “I am the master of this house, and I’m not going to have you coming home at such a late hour!” 

Polly quietly replied, “I know you are my husband, but Christ is my Master.”

This made Smith so mad that he locked her out of the house.

My Story

Now, I invite you into my home where I faced the “likes” of Smith Wigglesworth.

My husband had always supported my faith until God gave me a new direction - - resign my job as a school teacher.  

After several months of praying, studying God’s Word and counseling with my pastor, I went to my husband to discuss the new direction with him. 

He immediately responded with a firm, “NO!”  

Usually not one to rock the boat, I rocked it this time, and began my journey.  

For the next several years, I faced intense opposition from my husband.

Submission vs. Obedience

1 Peter 3:1:  Wives, be submissive to your husbands.

The question is, “How does submission play into stories like Polly’s, mine, and yours when faced with persecution of our faith, or verbal and emotional abuse within the home?”

I’d like to share a few points I learned on my journey trying to figure this out.

  1. Stronghold: People Pleaser

 

I had been a people pleaser since childhood, and I brought this stronghold into my marriage.  A “go with the flow” personality, I had no identity of my own.

 

My husband is the opposite - a good moral man, but very opinionated who likes to be in control, which explains why he responded with a firm “NO” when I discussed my new direction with him.

 

Normally, I would have done anything to keep peace, but this time was different. I knew I had heard from the Lord and must obey.

Galatians 1:10: Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (NIV)

Acts: 5:29: We must obey God rather than men. (HCSB)

  1. People Pleaser to Special Possession

Once the people pleaser stronghold was broken, my self-esteem had to have a makeover. It was time to shed the puppet on a string/doormat mentality.  

Also, got myself a new name tag - - You are a chosen people, His royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.  (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)

  1. A man’s enemies will be members of his own household. (Matthew 10:36 NIV)

My home became a battleground establishing who comes first – God or family. My husband said, “Things were great as long as you just went to church, but you had to get fanatical; I want my wife back.”

  1. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood.  (Ephesians 6:12-13)

Though my husband’s opposition was hurtful, I finally realized it wasn’t him coming against me; it was the devil himself trying to wear me down with harsh words through my husband.  

  1. Arrogant, Sarcastic, Brass Attitude

I came out of the people pleasing pit swinging. I had no problem pointing my finger in my husband’s face and saying: “Let me tell you something, Buddy. You no longer intimidate me; my feelings and opinions count in this marriage.  Stuff it!”

Oh yeah, it felt goooood to be FREE!

But---my mind flashed back to my daddy. It was as though I could hear his gentle, but firm southern voice talking to me.

“Girl, I didn’t raise you to act like this. I’m fixin’ to give you an attitude adjustment. Get your Bible and turn to Galatians 5:13 and read it.”

Dear brothers and sisters,

you have been given freedom:

not freedom to do wrong, but

freedom to love and serve each other.

(TLB)

Conclude

On the next post, I will tell how God adjusted my attitude as it relates to submission vs. obedience. 

A longgggg journey, but time well spent in examining my marriage, seeing where I had missed it from the start. It wasn’t easy, but necessary.

Have you examined your marriage? 

  • Are there strongholds that cause friction?
  • Have you lost your identity?
  • Is your husband exercising a demanding authoritative role as the head of the household?
  • Does he value your feelings and opinions?
  • Does he ask you to sin?
  • Is his sin affecting you and the kids?

Please share what you have discovered in the comments.

Blessings to you.

 

*****

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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Advent - Sharing the Longing

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Image courtesy of 9comeback at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One Bible story that I keep coming back to each Advent season is the one that features Zechariah and Elizabeth. I hadn’t spent a lot of time reflecting upon it until a few years ago when I began to observe Advent.

Most of you will know their story is briefly told in Luke 1 before Mary’s story. I’d encourage you to read it again (v5-25) and as we’ve done in the past read it meditatively. Perhaps listen to it and put yourself into the story. Imagine you are Zechariah or Elizabeth or one of the crowd and see what the Spirit reveals to you.

Longing

This couple was probably in their late 50’s or early 60’s. He was a respected Jewish priest and would have been highly thought of within society. However, even though holding an elevated position in society they were probably looked down upon.

Why? Scripture tells us the reason: 

“But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.” (v7)

Because child bearing and, particularly a son, were so significant in those times, Elizabeth was most likely not recognised and she would have carried great shame.

Besides the shame there would have been a deep deep longing. For a child. The preceding verse describes both as being blameless before the Lord. But still no child. Imagine their heartache, the number of answered prayers that had come from both of their mouths over perhaps forty-plus years.

We too experience a similar longing. For our spouses who don’t know the Lord yet. And the different life we might lead as a Christian couple. No more shying away, no more hiding in the background, no more missed opportunities, and no more sitting alone in church.

Astonishment and Doubt

Zechariah has an experience of a lifetime. He is fortunate to be the name drawn to have the honour of burning incense in to the temple of the Lord. This would have been a great day for him. 

And then he meets an angel. Not any angel. Gabriel, “who stands in the presence of God.” That angel. Many would have fainted I suspect … his presence would have been terrifying, bewildering and just weird.

The news Zechariah receives is astonishing. After all these years of waiting and longing, answered prayer, his dearest Elizabeth would bear … a son. And not just any son; but one that “will be great in the sight of the Lord.”

Hallelujah.

Zechariah is so astonished that he questions Gabriel. I think we all would under similar circumstances. And interestingly, Mary a few verses later, asks almost the identical question when Gabriel shares with her. (“Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” v34)

Doubt is part of the human condition. It is nothing to be ashamed of nor does it turn God away from us. He understands. Expressing our doubts to Him is okay. He wants us to share our doubts with Him. We only have to read the Psalms to see how David doubted.

Intercession by others

“And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.” (v10)

It’s easy to miss this verse. While Zechariah is in the temple, a multitude is praying. For him. Probably for Elizabeth. For their situation.

No doubt our couple had shared with many their sadness, their longing and yearning for a child. God doesn’t call us to journey alone. In seasons of doubt being able to share our situations can be beneficial not just to ourselves but those we share it with. When was the last time we shared our sadness about our situation with another? For most of the last twenty years, I wouldn’t say much at all unless directly asked. Recently, I mentioned it to someone in one of my prayer groups. And his first response was “that must be tough.” To which I nodded and said, “yep, it is.”

“Naming the ache of our yearnings is indeed faithful. It opens wide the gift of receiving and embracing the prayers of others.” (Enuma Okoro)

We’re blessed having this community where we can share our yearning and be praying for each other. Lynn, our ever faithful leader, a few weeks ago encouraged us to leave our spouses name in the comments so she could pray for each of us as couples. And I understand there is some wonderful sharing in the Facebook group.

If you are feeling particular sadness due to a longing in your heart or loneliness as Christmas approaches please share with us in the comments below so we can love over you with our prayers.

I had thought I’d write more on the next part of the story but I realise I’ve gone long enough so I'll leave it to next time.

Grace and peace, dear friends.

*****

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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I Can't Write Anything Like THIS Miracle

SUM Family: Today I was going to start writing about 1 Peter 3 but I’m overwhelmed by the miracle stories that were posted in the comments on Friday. I want to share one of them. I know many of you don’t have time to go back into the comments but this story is a living example of 1 Peter 3 and the love of Christ in the life of a SUMite. I can’t write anything that can compare to this.

Behold, the love and faithfulness of one woman and a good Father.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com 

Roxanne S.

Hi Sumite Family,

Remembering back to some beautiful miracles...

My step daughter was going through a dark time, and moved back in with her mom. Through her dark time for several years of her life, she stole from me, broke my things, told lies about me to my husband and in-laws. Broke my heart to say the least. This caused strife between my husband and his family to me. I was so down and feeling lost, I almost left my husband.

I had started to see God telling me, hearing God tell me everywhere and in everything in my life, from music, to Bible reading, to sermons, to friend’s wisdom, and so much more, telling me to go DEEPER with Him. Pray, fast, trust Him, AND to STAY, STAY, STAY, not leave my husband. So, I stayed.

Then I heard God tell me again in multiple ways, pray for your step-daughter. I did not want to pray for someone who caused me so much pain!! But, I did. I wanted God to bring about a miracle.

Within a year, late one night, my step- daughter's mom called us, and said my step- daughter ran away from home. So, I began to pray for my step-daughter and her safety, and to bring her home. My husband had been watching me do a lot of this, and I had no idea.

Then, that morning, she showed up at our house. All she wanted to do was talk to me, and cried about the choices she had made. God opened the door that night for her to need me, and for the next year she lived with us, and needed me. A lot of healing happened that year.

AND my husband gave his life to Christ during a Christian music festival, which by the way, he only went to, because he saw what I was doing in my prayer time, and what was happening to his daughter individually and as a mother/ daughter relationship. He apologized for not backing me up all those years too.

God is still doing major work in our family. There are so many miracles that I could tell you about. They all have been answered through being on my knees praying, fasting, speaking his word, reading his word, and a lot of "tough love" and trusting God in the end for whatever His plan would be.

I am still praying for my husband to have a personal relationship with God. God is good though, and he is always working on our behalf.

*****

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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