130 posts categorized "Bible Study"

Guest Post: Blessed are the Peacemakers

Dear friends, we have some more exciting news for you today. Our very own SUMite, Ian Acheson, has come on board with us and will be posting the first Wednesday of each month. As you know, Ian is the author of Angel Guard and has written guest posts with us periodically. We are so thankful to have him on board to give a male perspective to our mismated journeys and to our SUM family. God is so good! He knows exactly what we need! If you want to know more about Ian, check out his website too!

Thank you, Ian! We are excited to see what God has planned for you here and we are blessed to receive your wisdom and authenticity. Lord Jesus, bless Ian and equip him with more knowledge and wisdom in You. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Blessed are the Peacemakers

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Photo courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lynn wrote a wonderful post two weeks ago encouraging us to always put on the shoes of peace. I've been meditating on the Beatitudes for the past few months and providentially my church has just completed a sermon series on them.

Anxiety has filled my heart for too much of my life. I’m blessed to be a twin and since I can remember mom always described me as the “anxious one” while Peter, my brother, was the relaxed one. I put it down to the fact he sat on me for nine months. Yes, I was first out and Pete took another twenty minutes before he realized he was missing his older brother.

Peace is inside us

Neither the enemy nor the world can bring us peace. But God is peace and the words of Romans 5:1 remind us that in believing in Jesus we have peace. As Lynn reminded us we have to actively choose to believe that peace is within us by putting on our shoes.

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (James 4:1)

Anxiety and strife begin in our heart. If we’re anxious we step into any situation, anxious. Only this weekend Fiona and I were discussing Christmas and how we’d manage having separate lunches for each of our families. Even though Fiona will do most of the cooking, she was the one who brought peace to our discussion. I brought the anxiety.

We can only be a peacemaker when we're at peace. 

Distraction steals peace

We live in a world of distraction. We only need to look at the story of Martha and Mary when Jesus comes to visit. Look at what Jesus says to Martha, “Martha, Martha (ouch …not a good sign) you are worried and troubled about many things …” (Luke 10:41)

Martha wants everything to be just right. Heck, it’s Jesus. She’s cooked him a three-course meal while making their house spotless. And she’s exhausted.

Mary, on the other hand, is single-minded. On Jesus.

We can learn two valuable lessons here on dealing with distraction:

  1. Make decisions about what your priorities will be. For example, read your Bible every day, go to church every Sunday. Don’t wait to decide on the day. Lock it in.
  2. Actively eliminate things from your life, whether that’s one or two regular commitments, some of the email newsletters you subscribe to, or stuff that is causing clutter in your house.

Source of peace

Remember that post I wrote a few weeks ago about the power of memorizing Bible verses? One verse that I’ve locked away since then is the following:

“You will keep in perfect peace
 those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)

That’s what Mary did. She kept her mind fixed on Jesus.

As I mentioned last time, for too much of my time as a Christian I’ve been too casual in my commitment to Jesus. I haven’t wed myself to His Word rather simply grabbing snippets. Guess what? My anxiety continued unchecked.

“Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” (Psalm 119:165)

My pastor mentioned this verse a few weeks ago. What a great verse. Fall in love with the Word. Read it, devour it, mark it up, memorize it, live it.

I know in making a stronger commitment to spending time in the Word and in prayer this year my level of anxiety has reduced and I realize God’s peace is truly accessible.

This morning as I scanned my Instagram feed there was a photo of an underlined passage of the Bible from someone I follow. She mentioned her sister has been struggling with much opposition but “reading God’s words are the only time my mind and world quit spinning.”

It reminded of something my pastor would say: “If your Word level is out of whack with your circumstances, you will be susceptible to those circumstances.”

As a group let’s encourage each other to stay in the Word and in so doing we will experience peace. Then we can be the peacemakers in our marriages, our families, our friendships and all situations.

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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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What Does Thankfulness Do?

3KeysSUM family, we talked last week about the first two keys, forgiveness and love. On the subject of love I just want to make one more point that the Holy Spirit reminded about me over the weekend. 

We reference 2 Timothy 1:7 frequently when we talk about fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

We’ve been given love in our spirit. I just want to point that out in case you’re feeling like you can’t love your pre-believer or someone else in your life well enough. The truth is, on you’re own steam, you can’t, but as a child of God, you can. God’s Word says you have a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. And I love how these three are bundled up.

Love without God’s power runs out. Power without God’s love turns manipulative and self-seeking. And self-discipline without love and power is ineffective. All three are necessary and work best together. I could write even more on this subject alone, but let’s move on to our third key, thankfulness.

The Holy Spirit has been showing me how important thankfulness is to our walk of faith and the abundant life. Let me start with a story first. Several months ago, I was struggling a bit in my faith walk and couldn’t figure out why. I sat one morning in prayer and asked the Holy Spirit for help.

He said, “You’re not being thankful.”

At His words I realized I’d done more grumbling than thanking lately. Not grumbling in the sense of complaining, though I’m sure I did some of that too, but more in the sense of continuing to ask over and over again without faith.

The Bible has a lot to say about thankfulness. Psalm 50:15 calls it a “sacrifice of thanksgiving,” which it is when we’re called to be thankful in difficult situations and times.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. — 1 Thess 5:18

And let me point out that this verse doesn’t say to be thankful for the circumstances but to be thankful in them. I do not believe we are called to be thankful for an illness, a catastrophe, poverty—things that are clearly not from the hand of a loving God. But we can be thankful in them that God’s presence is working to help us in whatever situation we are in to bring redemption and goodness from it. 

When in doubt, reread Romans 8:28. Let your world and perspective revolve around this verse and watch how dramatically your life and how you live your life will change!

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

So back to my story. Yes, my friends, I repented of my unthankfulness and began intentionally being thankful. And I began to take notice of the effect thankfulness has on me—spiritually, mentally and even physically. These are my observations:

Being thankful:

  • Brings peace in every situation (Col 3:15)
  • Encourages and releases healing—spiritually, physically and mentally (Col 1:11-13)
  • Gives a sense of well-being (Col 2:6)
  • Brings our heart into alignment with God’s (Eph 5:20)
  • Releases the Holy Spirit to work (1 Thess 5:19)
  • Builds our faith and trust in God because as we are asking in prayer, we are then thanking him for the answer (Phil 4:6-7)

My friends, I want you to try your own experiment with thankfulness. Try one of two things: 

  • Start a thankful journal. Writing down five things every day that you are thankful for. Try not to repeat.
  • Sit in a quiet place and think about one thing that you are struggling with. Now, shift your mind to God and start thanking Him for one positive aspect of that situation. 

Perhaps your marriage—thank God for one aspect of your husband that you truly love. God designed your pre-believer just like He did you. Find the gold and appreciate it. Talk to God about this. Do this everyday and then at the end of the week, ask yourself how you’re feeling and thinking about your marriage now.

A situation at work—focus on the rest of your job that you are thankful for. Do this every day before you leave. Then email me and tell me about the day one of your co-workers commented on how you’ve changed and how positive you seem to be.   

Something inside yourself—acknowledge whatever it is you don’t like about yourself, but give yourself grace here, my friends. Sometimes the very thing we see as our weakest area is the very thing God is turning into your greatest strength. Thank Him for giving you the power and desire to do what pleases Him, because He is! His Word says so. 

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. — Phil 2:13

Even Jesus prayed with thanksgiving (Luke 10:21). Paul thanked God and drew courage from it (Acts 28:16). Now look at a these Scriptures from Colossians:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. — Col 3:13-15

All three keys are right there! They build upon and are integral to each other. And when we are intentional to use all three in our faith walk, we are strengthened in our faith, my friends, because we living our lives rooted in the truths of Jesus Christ.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. — Col 2:6-7

There are so many verses in the Bible about thankfulness. Do you have a favorite one to share? Do you have story of how being thankful has made a difference in your faith and life? Let’s meet in the comments and keep talking! 

SUM family, I am so thankful for you, every day. I am thankful God has put me in this place for such a time as this to be a part of your lives. And thank you for being a part of mine. I love you!
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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-

Covers Three Books


How Do We Love?

3KeysMy friends, I’d planned to talk briefly about love and then move into thankfulness, but the Holy Spirit impressed our Father’s heart on this subject upon me and I want to give that ample space. So today we will talk about love, the second key in this Abundant Life series. 

I want to tell you that this series simmered in my heart for a few weeks and at first I thought love should come first since it is so foundational to all we feel, think and do. But I realized that unforgiveness needed to be covered first because when we hold that unforgiveness we are actually trying to control a person or situation, and we have talked in the past about how love and control can’t coexist, especially in a marriage.

And your comments were so good, so honest! Never discount how much sharing your heart here ministers to others. That is one of the aspects of our community that I love so much, SUM family. You’re amazing in the love that you show!

As I prayerfully prepared for this post, the Holy Spirit told me to read Galatians. I suspected He had a nugget for me there and wow, did He. This one piece of truth from Paul in his letter to the Galatians says it all:

For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. — Galatians 5:6 (NLT)

Paul wanted the Galatians to return to the truth of their salvation in Jesus and not listen to the group of Jewish Christians who had come and was teaching they still need the Law in order to be saved. Paul’s statement was a powerful truth for the Galatians then and for us today.

Without love, we can’t represent Jesus accurately, because He is love. 

All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. — 1 John 4:15-16

This piece of truth reveals that it is because of God’s love and His love for us that we are able to love others. And not only love others, but love Him. And that is what I feel the Holy Spirit wanting us to truly embrace today about God’s love. 

You see, God designed us with a need to be loved. This need is even stronger than our need for food. I remember as a child somehow understanding that love was the answer to everything and the key to solving all problems. My understanding was limited though because I only understood love as the world defined it.

But now, as I walk closer and closer to God, I realize I was almost right. God’s love is the answer to everything—to all our needs, wants, conflicts and dreams; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

God created us to need love, to need Him. And He created us to love Him and others. Thus our primary commandments to love God and love others isn’t just a command to please God. It is basic instruction to do what we have been created to do.

God living in us means Love is in us—His love. When we let Him increase and overflow in us, we are transformed. And that ripples out to everything around us. We’re not the only ones changed. Those around us are affected, influenced and changed. Lives, communities and nations.

God’s love is the most powerful force in heaven and on earth, because it’s Him. God is love. No matter how many times I say and think it, I’m astounded by the magnitude of this truth. He is vast. No wonder we need the Holy Spirit’s help just to understand it!

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith —that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. — Ephesian 3:17-19

My friends, we will spend our entire lives here on earth and eternity learning about God’s love. And you know what? That’s what our Abba Father wants most. To love us, for us to love Him, and then to release that love into others. And it happens in that order. Faith expressing itself through love. The abundant life...

Earlier this year I prayed and asked the Lord for a key to breakthrough. He said, “Love.” And He led me to this verse, the first one that follows 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter.

Let love be your highest goal! — 1 Cor. 14:1.

Love as our highest goal…that’s so powerful, my friends. And that is the story of my marriage. I made loving my husband my highest goal. Not to change him or convince him God was real. Just to love him because I believe in God and I believe He, His love, transforms everything. And it has transformed my marriage and filled it with so much love, I’m blown away by it almost every day. That’s God, present and living and loving.

Share your thoughts in the comments, my friends. Share how God’s love has touched and changed your life. Share how loving someone changed a life, a heart—possibly yours. Because love always ricochets as a blessing.

And I love you, SUM family! With all the love God pours into my heart for you! He is love and He is GOOD!
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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-

Covers Three Books


Your Mismatched Marriage Isn’t a “But” (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d16111a0970c-320wiMy friends, on Tuesday we started talking about seeing our marriages instead of a but, to see them as a "But God..." My heart is to encourage you to walk in God's truths and to be all that His heart and love have declared and planned for you to be. The more I work in our healing rooms here, the more I understand that God has asked me to partner with Him to help people do this, to realize their divine destiny and walk in it. And this calling He's placed on my heart is not limited to healing rooms. He puts me into action all over the place. What an adventure!

And I love, love, love that I can bring that to our SUM nation. Dear friends, Lynn and I love you so much! We are passionate for you to walk in freedom, in the truths that Jesus came and died for us to believe and live in, and experience all the fullness of a life with God. Our abundant life isn't waiting in heaven. It's starts here on earth the moment we say yes to Jesus.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. — John 10:10

Jesus does not put any qualifiers on this, my friends. No ifs or buts! We started with the truth that God is unchanged, unaffected and unmoved by our pre-believers lack of faith and neither are His plans and purposes for us. 

Now I want to look at what Jesus did for us, because I love these truths. They have given me freedom from the enemy’s lies that his influence is greater than God’s.

In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. — Col 2:15 (NLT)

The NIV translation says “he made a public spectacle of them.” God not only defeated satan, He shamed him and made a public spectacle of him. My friends, the enemy wants to transfer that shame on us because he hates it. But remember, there is no condemnation (shame) in Jesus (Romans 8:1). That’s our truth! Wow!

Therefore…

You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. — Col 2:20

We have been set free of the enemy’s power. The only way he can influence us is if we let him, if we give him our authority. Lynn will be teaching more on that.

I want to finish with a few more powerful truths from Colossians:

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. — Col 3:3

In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free (or spiritually mismatched). Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. — Col 3:11 (with my parenthetical addition)

My friends, Christ is all that matters. He’s the “but” in our  marriages because all things are possible with Him. Lynn and I are living proof that we can walk in the fullness of our spiritual identity and callings regardless of our mismatched marriages. And I will tell you that I used to think my marriage—my husband’s unbelief—would limit what God had for me, would basically preclude me from being and doing all that God has for me, but that was another lie of the enemy that has been publicly shamed (by this ministry) and proven untrue.

At the end of Colossians, Paul says something that has had me pondering:

“Remember my chains.”

I wondered at first if this was his way of asking for prayer and perhaps it was, but I think it goes beyond that. I’ve studied Paul’s letters though the years not just for the truths he shares but to understand the man he was. I believe Paul was encouraging believers to see that despite his chains, God was still working in and through Paul to accomplish all that God had predestined (planed in advance) for this man to do (Eph 2:10).

SUMites, I’m not saying our pre-believers are our “chains,” though some days, I dare to say, many of you may feel this way. And I say that with humor! What I am encouraging you to embrace is that if we are to stand in the truth of God’s Word, which tells us that ALL things are possible with God, then let’s believe and live it right in our marriages. 

We are not defeated, and we are by no means limited as long as we believe God, believe what He has told and promised us. Let’s do as Paul tells us, to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.

In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Quiet Time Study: (Take these questions to the Lord in your quiet time. Then listen.)

Continue to seek God for His plans and purposes for you. Write down whatever He tells you and then start seeking Him for each step of this journey. He may start you big or He more than likely will start you with small steps, my friends. God’s great “divine plan” for us is to know Him. To just be His kid. If that’s what He’s calling you to do right now, that means He wants to take you deeper first to know Him, love Him, trust Him, so that He can move you into bigger places. 

Community Questions (answer in the comments):

No questions today, my friends. Simply share whatever is on your heart. If you want to share what God is showing you, please do! Let’s encourage and celebrate each other in whatever God is doing in each of our lives. And I want to pray over and bless each of you for whatever Papa God is revealing to you. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, feel free to email me. 

I love you, SUMites! I’m praying for you and celebrating with you, for all that God has for you. Next week, I want to share with you three keys to walking in the fullness of faith and victory. The Holy Spirit has started a new dialogue about these. I’m listening to hear more and look forward to sharing them with you. Have an amazing weekend!
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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-

Covers Three Books


Your Mismatched Marriage Isn’t a “But” (part 1)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d16111a0970c-320wiMy friends, I want to touch on an area that I feel the Holy Spirit has placed on my heart. I sense there are some of you out there who are reading this spiritual warfare series and seeing your marriages (regardless of how you got there) as blocks to all that God has for you. As a “but.”

Instead, I want to encourage you to think of your marriage not as a “But God…”

We’ve talked about sanctification before so I encourage you to go read this post on that subject and study and seek God for more truth and understanding of 1 Cor 7:14. That is a powerful foundational truth to understanding the influence your faith has on your marriage, your pre-believer and your children.

But today I want to talk about our places in these marriages, the truths that protect us and how this relates to spiritual warfare. First, we need to understand that our pre-believers choices and criticisms against our faith do not change these truths:

  • God is good, is good to you, and is working for your good—always (Rom 8:28). (You could say your pre-believer is the beneficiary!) 
  • God’s love for us is unchanged and unaffected by your pre-believers choices or criticisms (Rom 8:38-39).
  • God’s plans for you stand regardless of the choices and decisions of your pre-believer (Jer 33:11).
  • Just as God loves and desires to bless and delight in you, He also holds this same love and desire for your pre-believer (2 Peter 3:9 & 15).

This may seem simplistic in some ways, but I find this truth as powerful as the truth of God’s love for us. God is unchanged, unaffected and unmoved by our pre-believers lack of faith. Period. God will always pursue our pre-believers in His relentless love for all to repent and know Jesus, but this does not stop His plans, purposes and blessings for us. 

Salvation is an individual choice. In other words, our salvation and standing as a child of God with all the benefits, inheritance and blessings is in no way dependent upon any other person except for Jesus. And He already did the work. It’s done.

So, let’s talk spiritual warfare in our marriages. Yes, we may face more warfare because we are on the front lines contending for our pre-believer’s salvation, but we also are way more aware of this warfare than a lot of believing couples, SUMites. We know the enemy’s plan is to destroy marriages. We are on guard and praying against his tactics. We have skills!

Let’s start with an awesome Scripture Lynn quoted last week from Colossians and look at some others from this powerful book about our standing with God and the enemy.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. — Col. 1:11-14 (ESV)

Our reality is that we have been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of Jesus. Paul continues to expound upon this truth in verse 22 with a word of caution:

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it. — Col. 1:22-23 (NLT)

Paul is admonishing us to believe and stand in the truth of our salvation, which again is true regardless of what the world says about our faith, what our pre-believers think of our faith, or even what we may mistakenly believe about ourselves. Jesus has made us holy and blameless before Him without a single fault.

My friends, I'm going to stop here for now, but come back Thursday, because I have more to share with you on the spiritual warfare side of this. 

Quiet Time Study: (Take these questions to the Lord in your quiet time. Then listen.)

  • Sit down with God and ask Him how or where you have limited Him working in you or your marriage because you believed the enemy's lie that mismatched marriage disqualified you. SUMites, we serve a gentle God who adores us. He will not condemn you. He will lovingly reveal truth to you, so don't be afraid of this.

Community Questions (answer in the comments):

  • If you are comfortable sharing, what lie has the enemy led you believe regarding God's plans and purposes for you?
  • How has the Holy Spirit helped you overcome this lie or any other lie that once held you back from walking in your callings and purposes in God (divine destiny)?

I love you, my friends. I'm excite to share the rest of these truths with you and I pray they revolutionize your thinking in some way that frees you to walk in the fullness of your faith. In the name of Jesus, amen!
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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-

Covers Three Books


Wearing Our Armor—God’s Word

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d15b17ab970c-320wiMy friends, I want to share with you today how I “pray on” my armor. And I do this out loud whenever possible. I know that can be awkward at times in our spiritually mismatched places, but I find bathrooms, closets and cars to be good places when needed!

Lord, today I am putting on my armor. 

My belt of truth, which is You, Lord Jesus. You are my way, my truth and my life. In You I live, move and have my being. (John 14:6, Acts 17:28).

My breastplate of righteousness, because I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21).

My shield of faith for the righteous live by faith and You, Jesus, are the author and perfector of my faith. My shield is strengthened and empowered by the truth of Jesus to deflect the barbs of the enemy. (Rom. 1:17, Heb. 12:2)

My sword of the Spirit, the very word of God that is alive and powerful. Lord, Your promises are my armor and protection (Heb. 4:12, Ps. 91:4).

My helmut of salvation for I am saved and made holy by the blood of Jesus through His salvation (Heb. 9:12-14, Heb. 10:10).

My feet shot in the gospel of peace, because I stand on the Truth of Jesus and He is my foundation (Matt. 7:24-25).

And the glory of the Lord is my rear guard (Isa. 58:11).

In the name of Jesus, amen!

The reason I say to pray this out loud is so that you hear these truths over and over again. Not only are you putting your armor on, you are declaring who you are in Jesus, your identity. And that makes the enemy lose all power over you, my friends. You are literally changing your thinking—transforming your mind with God’s truth (Rom. 12:2)—and building your faith.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. — Romans 10:17

These are just the Scriptures I use. Study your Bible and as you find certain Scriptures capture your heart and connect to your identity (and you will, I’m certain of of it), personalize your armor. This isn’t a one size fits all suit, yet then again it is. That is the mystery and fun here, SUMites. We get to take it and personalize it.

I have just one more crazy wild truth to share with you regarding God’s Word. Take a trip with me to Mark 4. Jesus has told the parable of the farmer scattering seed, and it’s the very first parable that Jesus shares, at least according to Mark’s account. 

The disciples ask Jesus what it means. Here’s the beginning of his answer:

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word.” — Mark 4:13-14

This is astounding to me, my friends. This parable about God’s Word is foundational to understanding all the other parables that Jesus shares. He wants the disciples, and us, to understand the importance of not only growing in God’s Word but the importance of sharing it. As believers in Jesus Christ, everything we are and do starts in God’s Word, because He IS the Word.

We are His farmers! And we are to sow the Word of God into others. Not beat people over the head with it, but pray it over them like we do our pre-believers, live it out in our lives in front of others, and share it when we are led to or see the moment of need. 

And we are to speak the truth in love. 

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. — Eph. 4:15

Quiet Time Study:

Take the armor prayer I shared and make it uniquely yours, one you can remember no matter where you are or what you may be doing. 

Community Question:

What kind of farmer is God calling you to be and where is He asking you to “sow” His word?

I love you, SUMites, so so much. My heart is for us all to walk in these truths and our families too. As I finished writing this post, my oldest daughter called, upset over a situation she had no control over. I was able to pray with her, speak words of truth for her heart and spirit to hear, and encourage her to study her Bible so that next time she will already know these truths and can speak them out in prayer over herself. My testimony to her was based upon my firm belief that God’s Word is what delivered me from fear, anxiety and depression, because I knew what to pray—God’s truth!

Walking with you in faith, my friends! I can’t wait to hear YOUR testimony.
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Under the Umbrella of Our Amor and Identity

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d15b17ab970c-320wiMy friends, forgive me if my last post confused you but I promise that as I wrap this up it will all make sense. As the Holy Spirit has revealed more and more of the importance and power God’s Word plays in our lives, I am undone by it. And my prayer is that by the end of this series, you will be too. 

The Full Armor of God is representative of our identity of Christ. We’ve covered the belt (truth), the breastplate (righteousness) and the shield (faith). Let’s move on to the rest.

Our feet are to be “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:16). This too is built upon all the other pieces of our armor and identity. We are grounded to stand (Paul repeats this word many times in Eph. 6:10-17) in truth, righteousness and faith.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” — Matt. 7:24-25

The Greek word for fall, piptō, has enough meanings to make an entire post of its own here. It covers the literal meaning of to physically fall down but also encompasses our salvation (judgement), to be overcome by terror or under attack by evil, to worship and more. This word covers literally and figuratively all ways we could “fall.”

Yet these verses tell us we won’t fall if our foundation is built upon Jesus’ words. He is Truth. He IS the Word—we’ll come back to this shortly, so hang with with me a little longer. And His peace guards our heart and our minds (Phil. 4:7). 

Our helmut of salvation is the covering of our mind. Salvation came through the sacrificial blood of Jesus, so therefore our helmut is that blood covering, cleansing and identification as a Christian. It is through His salvation that we receive His righteousness and become the righteousness of God. See how these truths continue to come full circle? 

But wait…it gets even better. The sword of the Spirit is the only only piece of armor that Paul clearly defines (Eph. 6:17). And he tells us to pray in the Spirit, which many believe has to do with praying in tongues, but I also believe it means we are to pray the Word—speak it out loud in our prayers, back to God. It is His living and breathing Word of God. And hearing it builds our faith.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. — Romans 10:17

John 1:1-14 also defines Jesus as the Word and that the Word became flesh.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14

by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; — 2 Cor. 6:7

If the sword of Spirit is the Word of God and Jesus is that Word, then as we stand on the Word, speak and pray the Word, believe the Word and share the Word, we are living, breathing and being as Jesus. He is in us and we are in Him (1 John 4:13). He is not only our Truth, our Righteousness, our Faith and our Salvation, He has also given us His Spirit. We are inseparable. 

The full armor of God defends and protects us, because it is who we are and reflects Whose we are. This truth comes full circle and keeps going: The Armor of God is our identity which is our armor.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. — Psalm 91:4

My friends, I am convinced the first and most important battle we will ever fight against the enemy will be to make time to read God’s Word, because he knows that when we do, we learn who we really are and are set free from his lies. The truth, THE Truth, sets us free (Gal. 5:1). It is our greatest weapon against him. And when we learn the truth, we stay free.

SUMites, the Word of God is the answer to everything we need. It’s not just words on a page. It’s truth. It’s Jesus. It’s the key to being everything we have been created to be and to do. The Word of God will save you, heal you, release you, anoint you, empower you and love you. It will reveal who you are and who you are meant to be—your purpose and calling, divine destiny. 

How is all that possible? Because it’s alive and powerful.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. — Hebrews 4:12

The Bible is not just a book. It is a dialogue with the God who created you. This is part of the mystery of God, of how His Holy Spirit in us creates the bond and connection to the Father’s heart to know Him, to love Him, to hear Him. All through Jesus, the Word become flesh, the Truth.

Quiet Time Study:

My friends, my prayer right now is that this truth I’ve shared with you today will spark a hunger for God’s Word like never before. If you don’t have a time each day to sit and read your Bible, ask God right now to help you make that time. Tell Him you want to go deeper with Him in His Word. I promise you, He will rush in and answer this prayer if you are willing to do what He asks or shows you. 

Community Question:

Share a moment the Holy Spirit spoke to you directly through God’s Word.

As I said, I believe this is our greatest battle, to make daily time with God reading His Word, but once you “win” this one, SUMites, you will be empowered to win the rest. And as your identity becomes clearer, your armor is stronger. Pretty amazing, huh? On Thursday I will share how I pray my armor on with these truths. There’s a benefit to doing this that I don’t think we don’t realize…

Lord, my prayer today is for every SUMite who reads this to have a greater hunger for Your Word. That You would move time into alignment and opposition out of the way for each one of them to spend time reading their Bible every day. Lord Jesus, You are the Word and You are our Truth and our reality. Meet them on the pages of their Bible and show each one of them a specific truth this week that is from Your heart to theirs. In the name of Jesus, I pray, amen! 

Love you, SUMites!
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P.S. Check out this awesome worship song about who we are!

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We are Righteous, Shielded and Unlimited!

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d15b17ab970c-320wiMy friends, I heard a speaker once explain that the belt was a crucial part of a Roman soldier’s armor, because it held the rest in place. I find that so symbolic in that it is the first piece of armor that Paul speaks of and because all that we are and do as believers is about who Jesus is and who He says we are. 

Let’s jump in today with our breastplate of righteousness and our shield of faith. These two pieces of our armor are so connected that I’ve had to truly sit and study these Scriptures to take it all in. Again, my goal is to show you how our identity in Christ is our armor. Take your time to study these Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to bring this truth home deeply to your heart and mind.

First, let’s look at righteousness. In the Greek translation, the word used is dikaiosynē, which means equity (of character or act); specially (Christian) justification:— righteousness. Further definition: in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God.

In other words, who we are supposed to be as His children. Take a look at these Scriptures. The first one is a “biggie.”

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. — 2 Cor. 5:21 

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. — 1 Cor. 1:30

If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. — 1 John 2:29

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. — 1 John 3:10

We are the righteousness of God in Christ, my friends. Say this out loud and truly hear it. Christ’s death made you righteous, and our righteousness from Jesus proves who we are. You don’t have to prove it, because He did it!

Now here’s where it gets really interesting. Our righteousness is necessary to our faith and our faith is necessary to our righteousness. They are inseparable.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” — Romans 1:17

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. — Romans 3:21-22

Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” — Gal. 3:6

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — Phil. 3:9

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ — 2 Pet. 1:1

Plus, our righteousness produces fruit, which includes our children and generations to come!

filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. — Phil. 1:11

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. — 2 Cor. 9:10

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.— James 3:18

Now go with me just a little further in this imagery of our armor. Jesus is our truth (our belt), and His truth says were are the righteousness of God (our breastplate) and it is by faith in Christ that we are the righteousness of God (our shield).

Do you see how this all builds upon each other? Do you see how the belt of truth (Jesus) is the starting place? And soon we’ll see He’s our ending place. He is the beginning (Alpha) and the end (Omega) (Rev. 22:13) and our middle (the belt!) that hold us together (Col. 1:17).

It’s a mystery that is overwhelming in beauty, my friends, and boggles the mind. I’m still wrapping my brain around it all. 

Quiet Time Study:

If you’ve identified a fear and the lie behind it, find at least two Scriptures that speak truth. Renounce the lie, in the name of Jesus, and declare these truths out loud. Do this every day until you see your thoughts and your behavior now act according to the truth instead of the lie.

Community Question:

My friends, let’s dream a little here. Sometimes we feel like we could be so much more or do so much more if we were just a little freer. That’s actually another lie from the enemy to keep us ineffective. So, what is that one thing you’ve wanted so much to do that this lie (or any other lie) has kept you from going after it? We’re going to start living by our true identity and not by the lies the enemy has used to limit us. Amen? Amen!

Next week I'll finish up our armor/identity, and then I hope to share with you how I pray on my armor, which is also declaring who I am in Jesus, my identity. 

Lord, I declare today is freedom day for our SUMite community! We are ready to live by truth, righteousness and faith according to who You say we are. No longer will the lies of the world and the enemy dictate our choices, our thoughts, our faith, or our prayers! We are Your children, the righteous of God through Jesus Christ, filled with faith and truth! In the Mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, SUMites! Have an amazing weekend filled with Jesus' peace and love.
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Lies, Fear and Armor. Oh my!

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d15b17ab970c-320wiOver my next couple posts (possibly more) I want to talk to you about our identity and our armor. I’ve felt the need the last few weeks to pray on my armor every day and as I’ve done so the Holy Spirit has shown me a stunning truth. Our identity in Christ and the Armor of God are the same.

Our identity in Christ is our armor.

My friends, I’m so enthralled by this revelation. Once I understood this truth, suddenly the Scriptures that support it came to life and that is what I’m excited to share with you. Some of it you may find challenging as it will require you to look inward to identify some lies that you may still be operating under, what we’re calling “umbrella crushers” for this series, but I promise you that once you identify a lie, sweet freedom rushes in are you will be changed and charged up!

So, let’s get started with our Belt of Truth (Eph 6:14). First let’s establish that Jesus is our belt. 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” — John 14:6

He is truth, therefore He is the one who holds us, defines us and protects us.

For “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’” — Acts 17:28

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. — Col. 1:17

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. — Ephesians 2:10

The thing is, if we are operating under some lies, we will step out of God’s protective umbrella more easily. For instance, if you don’t trust God to answer your prayer over a matter in which you need leading and grow impatient for the answer, you will be tempted (there’s the opening for the enemy to come in) to take matters into your own hand and wind up making a decision based upon that deception. The story of Abraham and Sarah is a good example of this (Gen. 16). 

And lies create fear. We will feel insecure and unprotected when we put what we fear in a higher place than our belief in God and His Word to help us overcome it. Then our human need for security will propel us to do things to create a sense of security (like taking control) in order to feel safe.

So how do we reveal a lie? First I will used myself as an example. I shared recently that the Holy Spirit showed me that I had believed the enemy’s ability to deceive me was greater than Jesus’ power to lead me (He is our Good Shepherd).

My first clue was that I realized I didn’t feel safe. Though I thought I had overcome my misconception from my youth that the enemy was more powerful than God, I still didn’t feel safe. My second clue was that I constantly prayed for the Holy Spirit to not let me be deceived. That’s when the Holy Spirit helped me identify the lie that I believed the enemy’s ability to deceive me was greater than Jesus’ power to lead me. This lie made me doubt whether I heard God’s voice correctly all the time and kept me from stepping into all that God has for me in many ways.

Truth (and confidence in Him) has since replaced the lie, and I’ve operated under the umbrella of God’s protection and free of fear in this area ever since. Plus I hear God even better!

Now I’m going to use a character from a story I’m working on right now to show you how we can walk through this process and identify a lie. (Yes, writers draw from real life to build our characters. What better way to make them believable, right?) 

I have a character who is operating under a lie. Selah gets her name from her parents who were a major force in the Christian music industry, and she is gifted by God to write anointed music that heals people. Yet she has no desire to work in that industry. 

Why not?

Because she doesn’t want to be like her parents and feels she has to prove herself in a different market. This need has driven her decisions through college and her career.

Why doesn’t she want to be like her parents?

She saw how much they gave to their ministry and God, and that it was while serving in this way that they were tragically killed. Thus serving God with her gift scares her.

Why does it scare her?

Because she blames God for taking her parents away from her and believes this is how God operates. She must overcome this lie with the truth that God is good, that God didn’t take her parents away from her, and that the dream she is pursuing is actually from God and He wants to make it come true, even better than she could imagine. Because where she sees the secular and Christian market as separate, God wants to use her to create a bridge to join them.

Now it’s your turn, my friends. I would not ask this of you had I not discerned that this is God’s heart for you right now. He wants you free of whatever lie you may be operating under so that you can walk in confidence with the Truth, with Jesus, girded around your waist holding you and keeping you safe.

Quiet Time Study:

Sit before God and ask yourself these questions. If you get stuck, then share in the comments (if your comfortable to do so) and let’s help each other find the freedom Jesus has for all of us. Or email me privately.

  • What scares you? Think about what have you been praying against.
  • Why does it scare you?
  • Where do you see God in this situation?
  • What is the truth? 

When you get down to the truth, find Scriptures that support your revelation, write them out and pray them out loud until you truly believe them as your truth. Any time your fear creeps back up, pray them again. My truths are now Psalm 32:7-8, Isa. 41:13, John 10:27-30 and several others about God’s protection.

Community Questions:

  • What lie has misdirected your faith and choices in the past (share as you feel comfortable)?
  • How do you walk in truth in this area now?

On Thursday I will talk about our Breastplate of Righteousness and the Shield of Faith. This is where it gets really interesting my friends. I’m stunned just by what I discovered about these two areas of our identity/armor. 

Holy Spirit, I pray for every SUMite reading this post today that You would come gently to them and reveal any lie they are operating under that hinders their intimacy with You and causes them to be fearful, depressed or anxious. In the name of Jesus, I ask that these lies be broken off them, removed and never allowed to return. Holy Spirit, lead them to the truth in God’s Word so that they can begin healing and living their faith in security and confidence in the truth of who they are in Jesus. Remind us to put on our belt of truth every day! In the truth-filled name of Jesus, amen!

Love and praying for you, my friends!
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My Daughter Taught Me to be Generous

NotAloneStudyImageMy friends, I’ve heard it said a few times in the last few years that the Holy Spirit doesn’t come child-sized. That’s an amazing thought when you think about it, that just as God’s Spirit dwells in us in “size” and strength, He dwells in our children too when they have made that all important decision to make Jesus their Lord and Savior. 

I’ve seen children do amazing things under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I’ve witnessed this over and over again in my youngest daughter who gave her heart to Jesus at age 5. As her mama, I was proud, but I had to learn to get out of the way when the Holy Spirit moved!

And the way He moved in her was generosity. He still does. When she got her first job, the first things she bought were gifts for her mom, dad and sister. I’ve watched her give away her favorite toy to another child in distress and as she’s become an adult, I see that same generosity displayed in her heart for people (except when they’re  driving like maniacs!) and for animals. For a while there I thought for sure she’d wind up being a missionary!

My friends, I was not born with that generous gifting, but I have learned so much by watching how she operates in this area and seeing how the Holy Spirit moves her heart. Whatever our children’s gift(s) may be, it’s important that we help them understand that they are to be shared. God does not equip us for our own benefit. His economy is the opposite of the world's. The world’s economy is to invest only if there is a return. God’s economy is to invest (give) without the expectation of a return, yet we wind up receiving more than we ever could have imagined. 

I have found that when I quit worrying about my needs and just give into the needs God is showing me, He takes care of mine. He is our provider, our Jehovah-Jireh. When we know we are taken care of and provided for, we are freed to give even more. 

A great place to start with our kids is their allowance. In our book, Not Alone, I suggest giving your child two piggy banks, one for their part and one for their tithe for Jesus. Then let them decide where to “sow” this investment into. They can put it in the offering plate and have a sense of knowing they are acknowledging God’s provision and pleasing Him with the aroma of their sacrifice. A friend just shared a story of her son doing this with his money from mowing yards. He’d seen mom and dad do it and decided he should too. They hadn't taught it yet, but he "caught" it.

My church in San Jose has a children’s ministry that builds up funds to purchase animals for families in third world countries. Each Sunday the children race up to put their money in the bank, usually in the shape of the animal they are working toward purchasing. They are learning to not only give but to be part of a cause to benefit someone else in need. 

We hear stories all the time of a child moved to give in some way or help someone. That’s God moving in our children, my friends, and the Holy Spirit can move in them just as He moves in us.

For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.” — Acts 17:28

They may want to help a friend at school, who they’ve found out is having a rough time. Buy extra groceries and put a bag together for the homeless person they saw on the way to the store. Support a cause they feel passionate about. My youngest daughter has done all these things, even to the point of asking us to take a friend in need into our home. It was a decision we had to make as a family, which meant getting my pre-believer hubby involved. He was moved not only by the need of this teenager but even more so by his daughter’s heart to help. We never see the full scope of the ripple effects of these situations, my friends. Hearts are softened when we least expect it sometimes.

Lastly, I want to share a quote from this chapter:

Finally, lead them to pray for their enemies. Help them see beyond the nice and the nasty and to see people’s hearts. These are life skills they will need the rest of their lives in order to walk into adulthood with the knowledge that first, we live in a world of broken people, and second, we stand among those ranks. But we have a Savior who came in power and love to rescue all of us.

Question: What ways do you teach your children to be generous? Share your stories, SUMites! They’re sure to inspire me and others reading today. And I want to celebrate you! 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, guide me each day to help my children live in an awareness of God’s kingdom. Help me to walk in this awareness too. Help us to see those who need our love and prayers, even if it’s simply someone alongside the road who has been in an accident. Show me the times when I can live and love as Jesus does right in front of my family. In Your merciful name, Jesus, amen!

Our prayers are our greatest form of generosity, my friends. Now there’s a thought to ponder…

All in His love,
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Even Bullies Need Love

NotAloneStudyImageHello, SUMites! Welcome to week three of the Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture series. This week I’m zeroing in on chapter six in our book, Not Alone, about Generous Kids

I share some stories in this chapter about my daughters, stories that are near and dear to my heart and one that nearly tore my heart out at the time. I bet just about every one you out there has a parenting story like that. I’d rather suffer myself than see my children suffer. Anybody else out there feel the same? 

Years ago, I asked Jesus to help me love others as He loves them. I still pray this prayer and ask Him to help me see others as He sees them, including my kiddos and my hubby. And without judgement. That can be a tough area to walk in today’s world, especially when we are being mistreated. Or our child is being mistreated.

How do we love the kid that’s bullying our child and making him or her miserable? How do we love the friends our children bring home who have an attitude of entitlement? How do we love our own teenager when we find out they’re not as “well behaved” as we thought? 

Moms and Dads, as I get older and hopefully just a little bit wiser, I’m finding it has everything to do with love—God’s kind of love that is full of mercy, forgiveness and grace. We can’t love people like that on our own and neither can our children. And as we learn and model this, they will learn it from us. 

As much as I wanted to hate the pint-sized bully who terrorized my youngest daughter, I knew I couldn’t. I knew for my own sake and hers, we had to pray for him. I prayed not only for the situation but also for understanding of what caused this young boy to behave so horribly. I had a hard time believing a child capable of such actions. And helping my daughter understand was no easy task. 

But as I prayed, God revealed the situation to me and to my daughter. We discovered this was a boy who had a father who traveled all the time and a mother who was a severe alcoholic. Just a few months after I began praying for this boy and his family, they moved away. My daughter and I both learn a valuable lesson about God’s faithfulness.

Today, my daughter sees this experience as part of the experiences that have shaped who she is today and even now, her first reaction to an offense is to try and understand the why behind the what. 

My friends, I think most people expect one kind of reaction to the offenses of this world, but when we, as believers, don’t react but reach out with a heart to love and understand, we shock the world. We bring the truth of Christ into full scope—and the evidence of His salvation.

And I believe we walk in God’s favor to do such things. When we seek God’s heart first, we can work with our child’s teacher to peaceably find a solution to stop the bullying with a heart to not only help our own child but the one doing the bullying. You could very well be the answer to the prayer of a hurting or abused child.  

When we seek God’s heart first, we can see the more challenging friends our child brings home and welcome them with the love and grace of Jesus. We can be firm in our rules, but loving and encouraging too. You may plant a seed of truth in a child that will sprout and bloom at just the right moment when they are faced with a decision that could take them down the wrong path.

When we seek God’s heart first, we can help our own children navigate the challenging and painful places in their lives, and teach them that no situation or person is beyond God’s reach. And we can teach them to love others without judgement, no matter where they come from or who their parents are.

My friends, this is the hope we carry and are called to pass on to our children. This hope burns bright like an torch, and we are called to carry it everywhere we go. The light we carry brings solutions by changing atmospheres. That is what truth does—when revealed, lies and darkness can no longer operate. The atmosphere shifts and brings change. And hope.

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. — 2 Tim. 2:24-26 

Question: Do you have an area in your life in which God is calling you to love others specifically? How can you teach this to your children?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see and love people through Your eyes and heart. And help me teach my children do the same. In Your name Jesus, amen!

SUMites, our ministry verse is 1 Peter 3:1-2 and tells us our godly lives will speak for themselves. We are mismatched with this world too, my friends. Our godly lives and love, and the growing godly lives and love of our children will show Jesus, the hope of the world.

All in His love,
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Praying for Our Kids to be Extraordinary (part 2)

NotAloneStudyImageHello, my friends! I pray this study is already helping you get ready for “back to school” and increasing your faith and hope in God to make this school year one of the best yet for you and your children. Let me add too that if you are a homeschooling mom, you are part of this too. Your kiddos need the same equipping for when they are out in the world, whether now at a friends, on a playground, and when they are adults on their own. We want to pour God’s truths into them with all His love so that they will continue what we have started in our own generation.

As I shared on Monday, the enemy wants us to think we are powerless against the “system,” but our God says otherwise. No “system” will keep Him away. Not if we are standing for Him and praying in the Spirit for our children, our homes, our schools—our prayers bathe these places with the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Perhaps one of our biggest challenges can come from our own expectations. I know I used to think that an easy time sailing through school with everything falling into place was how it was supposed to be for my girls. Especially since they were growing up with two parents and much more stability than I had. But that was no guarantee. They have faced challenges, but now I understand that this is part of this life and a life without challenges often winds up to be a selfish one. The key is that we can trust our God to take every challenge and trial and bring great good out of it. 

We know our testimonies are powerful and inspiring. We see it everyday here on this blog. Guess what? Our children’s testimonies are powerful too. 

In our book, Not Alone, I talk about two of my favorite stories in the Bible—Gideon and Joshua. These men overcame the impossible and won their battles, by the power and grace of God. God whittled Gideon’s army to a mere 300 men to battle and overcome an army of Midianites that numbered 120,000. The walls of Jericho fell at Joshua’s order to shout on their seventh day of marching.

Sometimes our situations and circumstances don’t make sense and the direction God leads us may not either. But we can always know that He is good, that He is working for our good, and that He is good at what He does. Take that truth and promise to the bank of your heart, my friends, and to the classroom, the schoolyard, and everywhere else your prayers are following your children. 

Pray and when you hear the enemy’s voice try to tell you that your prayers won’t help and protect your child, or try to tell you that God doesn’t care about you and your children, kick him to the curb with the truth! 

Can I do this? 
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). 

How can I do this? 
“I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13, NLT).

Am I alone in this? 
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

Who will help me? 
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1).

What if I fail? 
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

What about the rough times? 
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

My friends, I have walked through depression and cancer with my youngest daughter. I have raised my girls to faith in a mismatched home. Though my girls are now grown, I continue to walk with them in their lives as a mentor, offering encouragement and prayers as I continue to speak God’s truth into them. 

Even though they are adults they still struggle at times with anxiety, because they are still learning how to battle the enemy. But they are getting it, because they listen to my words and watch me live out my faith. My prayers have released the power of God into their lives and He is faithful to do and complete what He starts. He will never abandon them or stop loving them. 

God has done this for me, and He has done and is doing it for you. Some days you may not be able to see it, but He’s there working. You don’t see the air you breath, but you know your breathing it. 

Take a deep breath, moms, dads and grandparents, and trust your God. He may not do it the way you expect Him to but He will do it. He will co-parent your children with you because HE loves them even more than you do and He knows your children by heart. He has a plan and future for your kiddos (Jer. 33:11), and He will bring it to pass no matter what challenges you and your children may face. 

Now breath out that life upon your children with your love, your words, your wisdom and your faith. Not by your strength or power, but by His Spirit! Amen!

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing faithfulness. I know that You are able to do all that I have asked and more. I praise and thank You now for the ways in which You are and will be working in my children to make them effective and strong in their faith. In Your powerful and capable name, Jesus, I pray this. Amen!

Challenge: Start a list of areas in your children’s lives that you want to pray about regularly. Find specific verses to pray for your children in each area. You can even make this a prayer journal that you can record answers to prayer specific to your child and give it to them one day to show them how God has worked in their lives. Make it fun! 

For example, when my youngest daughter was dealing with anxiety, I would pray 2 Timothy 1:7 over her: 

Leslie Miller, God has not give you a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and self-control. In the name of Jesus, amen! 

Speak truth into their lives, my friends, and they will take it with them and walk in it everywhere they go!

All in His love!
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Chapter One: Extraordinary Kids (part one)

NotAloneStudyImageMy friends, have we bought a lie? Have we bought into the lie that we’re powerless and alone in helping our children navigate the confusing and changing culture of today? That we are not enough?

I find it so interesting that just a few days ago I stood on my front porch, chatting with one of my neighbors. A simple compliment I made to her about their young daughter helping Dad mow the yard opened up a dialogue about her daughter’s anxiety and issues with school.

That was no accident, my friends. As she shared it was like I was hearing my youngest daughter’s story of school avoidance and anxiety. For the next hour we talked—I shared my heart with this mom, shared how God had always been faithful to my prayers for answers and provided solutions and people to help us. At this point I didn’t know if she is a believer or not and I still don’t.  

As she opened up more I was able to encourage her with ideas that had helped my daughter and I also helped her see areas in her own creativity that she could tap into and use to encourage and engage her daughter. I watched this worried mom become excited and even clap her hands in glee at one point. And all I did was share my heart with her though the love of Jesus.

This was on my front porch, but it could have been on a school yard, a playground, or even in a classroom on parent night.

My friends, the lie the enemy has fed us is that we’re not enough. I know I did for a long time. But I learned and am still learning in some lingering areas, that God is ALWAYS enough? Isn’t He bigger and stronger than anything we face? Doesn’t His Word say He’s faithful and that when His children cry out to Him, He answers? Let’s start crying out, my friends. Not just for God to change the situation but for Him to show us how to be part of His answer.

You are not alone, my friend. Our God not only loves us, He loves our kids. He wants them to know and love Him too. So no matter how contrary this culture is, and no matter how much our schools push Him out, He’s going to show up.

On a front porch. On a playground. And in a classroom. 

Why? Because of you. 

Because we are the righteous of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21) and our prayers are POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE (James 5:16)! Moms, Dads and Grandparents, YOU are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and YOUR prayers are POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE!

I want you to repeat this every morning as you get up (man, is the enemy going to be quaking in his pit):

“I am the righteous of God in Christ Jesus and my prayers are powerful and effective!”

So let’s start praying, declaring and BELIEVING that by the very presence and power of God, we are EXTRAORDINARY and EMPOWERED to help our kids to be EXTRAORDINARY right in the middle of this contrary culture, right in the middle of their schools. We can do this, my friends! By God’s Spirit (Zech. 4:6) and through His love.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. — John 13:35

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for partnering with me to raise my children to know You. Thank You for loving them even more than I do and for having a great plan and future for them. Help me teach them Your ways so that at home, in their school and everywhere they go they will do what is right, love mercy and walk humbly with You (Micah 6:8). In Your strong and mighty name Jesus, amen!

Study question: What is one thing you can do on a daily  basis to model your faith to your children? How can you be a loving mentor to your kids and the kids God brings into your life as well? 

Share your answers in the comments, my friends. Let’s encourage and inspire one another with our love for Jesus.

All in His love,
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Back to School: Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture

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Hello, SUM family! I'm so happy to be back! As Lynn shared yesterday, we are getting ready to kick off a new series on Friday.

Let's face the facts: We live in a contrary culture that ignores sound biblical truths. But that doesn't mean God's truth is outdated or irrelevant. Now more than ever, our children need this kind of teaching to navigate new curriculums and teachings that are becoming part of the school systems. We need to equip our kids. 

Moms and Dads (and grandparents!), we want to help you. Join us on Friday, July 31st for the launch of Back to School: Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture. For five weeks we will take the principles from our book, Not Alone: Trusting God to Raise Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home, and apply them to equipping our children to navigate their schools and culture without compromising their beliefs.

We can do this, my friends! And not only do this, but do it well. We are about to impact our homes, schools and neighborhoods in ways we can't even imagine yet and can only be done through God's Spirit, and not our strength. So, let's get ready! Invite your friends—everyone you know who will benefit from this series and anyone the Holy Spirit places on your heart to share it with. God will do the rest.

And, be sure to check out our latest resource on myKLOVE about the "Sanctified Believer." Download the app to your smart phone if you haven't already and join the discussion!

I love you, my SUM family. I am so moved by the Holy Spirit to help all of us navigate what's ahead. I truly feel God's calling to be part of this equipping and I am honored to be a part of it. Lynn and I love you all so, so much. You are precious to us! We pray for you, we contend for you, and we walk with you. Always.

All in His love,
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Books of Peter: Secure in the Face of Opposition (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiDear friends, on Wednesday we talked about how it was Peter’s intent to encourage his readers to be of one mind as believers, to place loving each other as brothers and sisters in Christ above disagreements and insults. 

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.” 

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. — 1 Peter 3:8-13

I also proposed that this is our model to follow with all those we encounter, whether they believe as we do or not, and that what we have learned in our mismatched places is exactly what the world needs right now. Launching from the truths I listed on Wednesday of what we have learned and are learning in our mismatched marriages, we can:

  • seek unity with those we encounter everyday, not to adjust our beliefs but show freedom of choice as God has given us and therefore show others they too have the freedom to choose Jesus, and not feel forced.
  • love others unconditionally with tenderness and humility so they catch a glimpse of Jesus’ heart for and acceptance of them just as they are. They don’t have to clean up their act first to earn salvation.
  • use our words to bring encouragement and love to those who need it and as we do this and earn their trust, we can speak the truth of Jesus into their lives in that same love.
  • practice hospitality so that others may see what a home filled with the peace of Christ looks and feels like.
  • stand before our God and lift up the ones we know need Him and ask the Lord to bring His presence and help.
  • be alert to opportunities to help others with whatever resources we have. God always seems to provide exactly what is needed for the present situation. Remember the fish and loaves. Look at what you do have and how you can use it help. God will multiply it.
  • be a blessing everywhere you go. At the grocery store, on the phone with the insurance company representative (that’s a challenging one for me!), at your child’s school, at church, shopping at the mall, at the restaurants you frequent. Even at the park or playground. Smiles and kind greetings open doors of opportunity for us to show Jesus. Most likely it won’t happen the very first time, but the more we do it, the more those divine appointments will present themselves and we’ll be ready. 

My friends, I am so moved to seek Abba for this place of security. I want to live what I picture in my mind. That when I am faced with opposition to my belief in Jesus and His Word, I can share the truth in love without feeling threatened or defensive, so that the other person will feel unthreatened and even shocked by what they see. As they see Jesus in me.

There is one final part to this, my friends, that I feel compelled to share. This place of security must be grounded in humility. As Peter says, “a humble mind.” The Greek translation uses only one word for this phrase, philophrōn, and it means to act kindly from a mind-set of personal affection.

For if pride enters in any way, then we become that clanging cymbal, because pride crowds out love. 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. — 1 Cor. 13:1

It is a fine line that we walk, my friends, but we have a great big God who equips and guides His kids well. The beauty of this has become my simplest prayer of simply living authentic faith. As we reach the end of our study of Peter, let’s pray it together.

Lord, help us be the people You created to be so that by just being who we are and secure in Whose we are, we show our pre-believers, our children and the world Your Son Jesus. In His saving name we pray, amen.

We live it. He does it. This is the kingdom of God on Earth.

Standing with you, my friends!
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Submission - The Books of Peter

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWives, 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, 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. 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. 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, 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. —1 Peter 3:1-6

When I was a young wife, this passage raised my hackles. But as I have now lived more than two decades with my unbelieving spouse, I testify to the power and truth behind this wisdom.

I know that there remains great confusion in the “church” over what Peter intends here. I’ve known women who were told to submit to men who were abusive and evil. Although I think in general, church leadership has steered away from this kind of demand in the past decade. I know that within homes, especially marriages of the unequally yoked, husbands have quoted this verse to their believing wives in order to manipulate and control them. Let me be clear, if a man quotes this to his wife he is speaking out of fear and arrogance. His intent is not love but to control.

A husband of integrity would never need to speak this verse to his wife. And a wife should never acquiesce to a man who holds scripture over her to control her. And wives you don’t get off easy either. Mutual respect and love should reign supreme in your relationship and thus a husband would never think of manipulating his wife in such a way. Love and respect must be the core of every marriage. Of course, people aren’t perfect and most of us are somewhere on the path learning to love and respect our spouse well.

Reading back through 1 Peter 3, I can only offer what I have learned in the two plus decades that I have tried to apply this passage to my life. Trying to win my husband with my words of confrontation, condemnation, conviction, manipulation, fear, and begging, well….. it just doesn’t work. Period. The end.

You know what works? The behavior of purity and reverence of my life. What does that look like? Well, my husband CANNOT deny that I believe. He sees the hours I spend with my Lord. He has witnessed my years of praying for him and our family. He sees that I am clothed with hope. He sees that I possess a relentless well spring of joy and that I am a person of profound faith.

I am adorned with a grace that allows me to forgive the unforgivable and I have modeled that to him and our children. I have been honored with an unfading beauty which is the Spirit of the Living God. My husband may not understand it, but our home is a peaceful place. It is a sanctuary that allows him, our children and myself to live authentically. I have friends who call and want to visit just because our house is and I quote, “so peaceful.” My faith changes the atmosphere of my home and often improves the atmosphere wherever I go. (More stories for another day)

I have willingly laid down many dreams and hopes in support of this one man because God said he is worth it. I’ve cried at times and then I’ve prayed with power. I’ve lived the best that I can within the love and power of Jesus. I have adorned myself with humility, most of the time *grin*, and have done the right thing by loving him with a full heart. The dreams I had as a young wife may have been lost but in return God has given me abundantly more than I could have hoped, conceived or dreamed. And God is not finished yet.

At the end of this particular passage Peter urges wives to do what is right and when we do, we will walk in the legacy of Godly women who have gone before us. How beautiful is that? I want to pass this legacy on to my daughter.

And finally Peter says, “Do not give way to fear.”

Submission is not fear. Submission is love and respect. And by the way, it goes both ways between a husband and a wife. Now, this is where the rubber meets the road: Submission is meeting the needs of our spouse. As a believer it means meeting his/her needs even when yours remain unmet. But do not fear because over time, just like me, you will discover that your husband  will begin to meet your needs and he will treat you with respect because you modeled it first. And my dear wives, if there are needs in your heart that are never met by your earthly husband, Jesus will more than meet them all.

I leave you now with a story of ultimate submission. I pray this story wrecks you in every good way because this man's submission was for us:

Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.

Yet it was because of this that God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Wives, do not fear, let Christ raise you up. Because when He does, your husband will fall to his knees and acknowledge that you were right all along and he will proclaim that Jesus is Lord! Never stop praying. Never stop hoping and never stop re-presenting Christ in your marriage, home, family and to the world!

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The Books of Peter: Secure in the Face of Opposition (part 1)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wi

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. — 1 Peter 3:8-13 NLT

My friends, these passages have come together with something I felt the Holy Spirit impressing upon me during my walk and pray the other day. We live in a time of opposition and daily see what that looks like all over the world. Yet it is more likely in places like our churches, on Facebook and social media, and the internet that we come in direct contact with opposition. And let’s not forget that we SUMites live with it every day as well. Whether it is spoken or not, we stand in places where our beliefs are not accepted in our very homes.

As I walked this particular day, the thought or pondering came to a question. 

What would happen if we were so secure in who we are in Jesus and what we believed that no matter what the opposition we faced, we did not feel threatened or the need to prove ourselves or God.

It starts with our identity and along with that knowledge, understanding that we are truly secure in Christ. The Bible says throughout the Old and New Testaments that God is our refuge and our safety. 

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.— Psalm 27:1 & 3

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. — Psalm 91:2

David faced great opposition, yet stood his ground in his faith and trust in the God he knew would not fail him. That didn’t make his path any easier but the truth sustained him to keep going, to keep believing and in the end, it was God who proved him.

I remember as a new believer feeling overwhelmed by my husbands questions about my growing faith and also feeling so ill-equipped to defend it. And I am thankful for that because it thrust me into the Bible to study its truths and truly understand what I believed. That is the foundation I have now that enables me to answer my husband’s questions without feeling threatened or the need to prove myself, because I trust God to prove His presence and truth in me. Even if I must risk my husband’s opinion of me, I know I must stand on God’s truth.

Peter’s intent in these Scriptures was to encourage his readers to be of one mind as believers. He encouraged them to place loving each other as brothers and sisters in Christ above the disagreements and insults that seem inevitable as human beings who interpret everything we perceive, read and see in our own unique ways. 

Peter calls us, challenges us, to rise above and agree to disagree when needed so that we can maintain the true focus of doing good out of love for one another. Let me propose that this is our model to follow with all those we encounter, whether they believe as we do or not. We know this better than most, SUMites, and what we have learned in our mismatched places is exactly what the world needs right now.

In line with 1 Peter 3:8-13 we have learned and are learning to: 

  • seek unity in our marriages with our pre-believer.
  • love our pre-believer unconditionally with tenderness and humility in our acceptance of them just as they are, just as Jesus does.
  • hold our words with more care and speak with love and truth.
  • bring peace of Christ to our homes and maintain it through prayer.
  • stand before our God in the righteousness of Christ Jesus as we pray and seek the Lord’s face not only for ourselves but for our pre-believer and our children.
  • be zealous to do good even when we have felt limited.
  • be a blessing to our pre-believer and to bless them even in the face of opposition.

No matter what I am faced with, my friends, I want to be so secure in my knowledge of and faith in God that I can listen to another person share their beliefs and not feel threatened within my own. Because I believe when we are secure in such a place, that we can listen and not try to change their mind, they are more willing to hear what we have to say. 

It is not our job to change their mind or their heart. It is God’s. When we leave that to Him and simply share in an exchange of beliefs with another person, we allow the love of Christ to be present and begin that change of heart and perspective in a lost soul.

I will stop here for now. In the second part of this post I will share what these things we have learned look like when we apply them to the world at large and live our faith from this place of security in who are and Whose we are. My friends, it’s a place I firmly believe will have greatest impact on the world and those God is bringing into our realms to love and share Jesus. And there is an element to doing this that Peter mentions right in his words that I feel is crucial to the mix. Can’t wait to share that with you!

Love you, my friends. So thankful to be living this life with you!
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2 Peter 3: God Waits Too

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiSo happy to be with you today, my friends. I love our community. We are family and live daily the truths of Jesus Christ together. Lynn and I love our S.U.M. family so much. You all amaze and bless us everyday in how you love and pray for each other. And for us! Just wow…my heart is so full of pride in you, if I may say that. And I sense what I’m feeling is coming from our Papa God’s heart. He is proud of us, SUMites. We are known by our love. 

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. — John 13:34-35

As we continue our Summer Bible Study in the books of Peter, I found myself this week at the end of these two books, and felt the Holy Spirit pointing to two verses that are precious for us, SUMites.

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. — 2 Peter 3:9

I think we all struggle with waiting. We wonder. We pray. We wait some more… But this verse shows our Abba Father’s heart. He wants everyone to repent and will go to great lengths to give our pre-believers every chance to change their mind and turn to God. And that is what this word repentance means in the Greek: metanoia—reversal of decision.

This past year the Holy Spirit has led me to pray for divine connections for my hubby. Not with people but in his work and surroundings, whether he’s wrangling code (he’s a computer programmer/analyst) or playing disc golf. That he would begin to see God’s presence and perfection as the real explanation for what he appreciates intellectually. I never would have thought of that, my friends.

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This was my dad's Bible. I'm holding onto it for the day when I can give it to my hubby.

And then the Holy Spirit has led me to pray for holes, literal holes, to be punched in my hubby’s unbelief so that these connections can be revealed. Again, not something I would have thought of. 

What’s my point in telling you this? I will tell you what I told someone else recently as an explanation of my confidence that God will move and do this in my husband. 

Why would God lead me to pray in such specific ways and not doing anything? I know my God and know His heart. And His heart is to be patient and wait. Just as we wait…

And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— — 2 Peter 3:15

Our Lord waits for good reason, doesn’t He? So if His waiting is good, I can’t help but think that ours is good too. In moments of discouragement, this gives me great peace and comfort, my friends. I see no change in my husband (yet) and I’m approaching 20 years of being mismatched.

But in our waiting God accomplishes so much. So much! I look at my marriage and see what it could have easily become and am overwhelmed by what it is—truly blessed by God. And I look at you, this community and the love and encouragement we share and I SEE evidence of the good God is working out for us as we wait.

The Holy Spirit has stirred my heart to speak out loud every morning the truth of Psalm 118:24: 

“This is a day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” 

And every day, I see Him. Our God is so good, my friends. SO good.

Love you so much, my SUM family. You are all so precious.
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God Restores Us Too (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiDear friends, on Saturday I started telling you a little bit about the dark night of the soul I walked through in 2014 and what 1 Peter 5:6-10 came to mean to me. Let’s look at those verses again and I’ll finish my story.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. — 1 Peter 5:6-10 ESV

As I said, Peters says to give God all our anxieties. And that’s where I was, in the depths of anxiety that made no sense. I would wake up shaking and spend most of the morning just trying to get a grip on my life for that one day. My quiet time with Abba was my refuge and sanctuary (my word for 2015), and worship became a weapon against the evil plan the enemy had sent against me to pull me into depression—a plague that has sickened several generations in my family. Psalm 91 became my daily declaration!

When my anxiety and depression would threaten to overwhelm me, I would stop and pray 1 Peter 5:6-7 and imagine all that dark stuff sitting my hands, then I’d lift them up and say, “Lord, it’s all Yours. I give it all to You. I am casting all this upon You.”

And you know what? He always had something to give back to me—His peace and comfort. And we need those, my friends. The peace of Christ guards our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:7), which is crucial if we are to “be sober minded.” That word in the Greek means to be calm and collected in spirit. As Peter says, the enemy prowls, seeking to devour. And he will use our emotions against us every way he can. And that is what he tried to do with me. The lie I’d bought into as a teenager was that I was at the mercy of my thoughts and feelings, but God’s Word says otherwise. 

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. — Romans 8:6 NLT

I stood on this truth and the others I’ve shared everyday, dear friends. Our greatest challenge, especially as women, is to look at our emotions first before we act upon them. If we don’t, we are just reacting. Then our emotions control us instead of us controlling and using them to our benefit. Emotions can be good in telling us when we are hurting and need something. They can also alert us to a lie we are believing when they seem out of context or alignment with God’s truth. This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through this process.

And finally in verse 10, Peter returns to the promise he started describing in verses six and seven. After we have suffered a little while…that’s the hardest part, to endure, to persevere, to trust God has a plan for it all and that He is good and that He is working for our good (Romans 8:28). Because He is. That’s Who He is. Always.

Then that good comes, the good God has been working to bring out of our trials, our suffering, our challenges. He does not leave us in these places of pain. No, His heart is to Himself, by His hand of love, to restore us. To confirm, strengthen and establish us. The Greek word for restore also means to perfect and prepare. Sound familiar? And by establishing us, He is laying our true foundation in the truth of who we are in Him, in the truth of Christ. 

So from our sufferings, trials and challenges, we emerge more like the new creation He has made us to be. And that is what I have witnessed, my dear friends. I prayed and claimed these promises for over a year, tentative at first and then with growing confidence, until they became part of the established foundation of my faith. And as I have broken this “plague” off my life, I am contending and breaking it off of my daughters. Because as the enemy has lost hold of me, he has tried to insert his hold on my girls. That is NOT going to happen, because I now have the authority to speak these truths into their lives.

How do I know that? As I stood in my new church in January, worshiping God with a heart full of gratitude for how He has restored and is restoring my life, how He has and is making me steadfast, strong and firm in my faith that is now built on His truth and promises, His still small voice spoke to my heart and told me He was lifting me up that very day. And that it was time to soar. Just this past weekend, three different times He showed me a bird soaring in the sky, at the same speed and direction as the car I was in or driving.  

When I look back at all He has done, I am astounded. It could have gone very differently if I hadn’t humbled myself under His hand and trusted Him. I stepped out in what felt like a feeble and failing faith, and He met me with His faithfulness, His healing presence and sent key people to come along side and pray with me. Especially Lynn, who prayed with me, cried with me, and encouraged me greatly. 

SUMites, these promises are for all of us. Just as Jesus restored Peter, He restores us. Whatever you are struggling, battling, agonizing over, cast it upon Him. Our Great God has massive shoulders that can carry it all. And what’s so beautiful is that He WANTS us to do this. Longs for us to do this. Our God is completely for us (Romans 8:31-32)!

My friends, I have been praying these prayers for you too as I know many of you are in very difficult places right now. Share in the comments how you are casting your cares upon the Lord. I would like to pray with you and pass on the blessings and freedom Abba has given to me.

Love you!
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God Restores Us Too

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiDear friends, today I want to talk about a part of 1 Peter that has been very powerful in my life. It is a truth that God proved to me over the course of a year and a half, and is in fact, still showing me. What I’m about to share with you has been powerful and life-changing. It proved to me that I truly could stand on God’s Word and trust Him to do what He says. Even if I didn’t completely feel I could believe the promise, I stepped out in faith with a heart desire to fully believe it. Astonishingly, God honored my action with astounding faithfulness.

I’ve shared in the past how difficult 2014 was for me. Health issues combined with a very real battle for my mind took me into a dark night of the soul, a spiritual battle, that God allowed in order to get rid of the lies the enemy had subtly inflicted upon me from a young age. God replaced them with His truth and has healed so many of those heartaches. I share more of this journey in the book I’m working on and what God did to bring healing and transformation. But one part I want to share today as part of our study of the books of Peter.

During the most difficult part of what I walked through, Abba brought me to this verse among many to write in my journal, to read over and over again and to pray and claim the truth over my life. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. — 1 Peter 5:6-10 NIV

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. — 1 Peter 5:6-10 ESV

These verses became a lifeline of hope for me. And I want to share them with you. The first part, Peter says to humble yourself. I knew God was my only way to get through what I was dealing with. I wanted this time of trial to end so much, but had to trust Abba had a plan and would show me the way (Prov. 3:5-6). This was a daily effort, my friends, and I held tight to the promise that in time, God would lift me up. I prayed, spoke it out loud, and even reminded God of His promise.

I learned to give Him everything. The word “cast” in the Greek translation literally and figuratively means to throw upon. This is not a polite gesture, my friends. We are not supposed to wrap it in a bow and try to “pretty it up.” God knows what we struggle with and He cares for us, deeply. 

And Peter says all. Every heartache, every thought, every worry, every anxiety, because His Word says He cares for us. Next week I will tell you what happened when I did this. I am already praying that what I have to share will encourage you and help build your faith as Jesus intends our testimonies to do. Not easy sharing this stuff but the one thing I ask Abba at the start of this was, "If I have to go through this, then let me have a testimony to share and help others."

And that He did. He does that for all of us, dear friends! All of us!

Love you so much,
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1 Peter 1 & 2: Foundations and Identity (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiMy friends, I know summer is upon you and many of you are in the throws of school ending, schedules changing, and summer plans. Please know that we love that you make this place a part of your busy lives—Lynn and I are honored to be a part of your lives.

On Saturday, I left you with two questions. What was a cornerstone and Who was/is that cornerstone?

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. — 1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV

Peter is quoting that last part from Isaiah 28:16, which is a prophetic word about the Messiah. Jesus is the cornerstone, which references the foundation of the temples when built. Usually larger, a cornerstone was placed in the corner of the foundation to ensure the building was square and stable. The cornerstone “set the foundation,” so to speak.

Peter is very carefully connecting our identity to who Jesus is in his reference to calling us living stones with Jesus as our cornerstone. And not only that. This is about the church. Not only were people now reborn. So was the church. Living stones to build a spiritual house…

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. — 1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV

Peter has laid the ground work to bring understanding of how this all happened so that the early believers would be clear in who they were now. Their identity.

Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people…

And their purpose in this new church as well. No longer would it be up to priests to teach and share the message of God. All were and are now called to share the message of the Good News. Interestingly, the NLT includes a little more. Take a look at verse nine again. 

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. — 1Peter 1:9 NLT (emphasis mine)

Which then leads to what Peter says in verse 12. 

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. — 1 Peter 1:12

My friends, we live with unbelieving “neighbors” every day, right in our own homes, and because of who we belong to and who God says we are, we are like that cornerstone in our own homes because Jesus lives in us. This reminds me yet again of the verse that speaks of how we sanctify our homes.

For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. — 1 Cor. 7:14

So, in this all encompassing plan of God that literally makes my head hurt and my heart swell when I try to comprehend it all, we were “set up” to be the children of God, precious and chosen to be the church of Christ, built upon an amazing legacy.

Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. — Eph. 2:20

Now you know that Lynn and I know this is challenging. We live it too. But when we stand firm in knowing who we are and whose we are, we rest in the power and provision of our Most High God. 

Peter even tells how to follow Jesus.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.

He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered.

He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.

By his wounds you are healed.

Once you were like sheep who wandered away.

But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. — 1 Peter 2:21-25

This list is so power packed with God’s truth and provision. Let’s break it down to how it applies to us today, especially in our mismatched homes.

  • Jesus never sinned, nor deceived. He is our model to not only emulate to live godly lives, but He also empowers us to do so with the help of His Holy Spirit who indwells us, because Christ died to put this into place. He is our truth. Don’t compromise to accommodate. 
  • Jesus did not retaliate. I don’t know about you, but when I’m “attacked,” I naturally want to defend myself. But I’ve learned and am still learning that I don’t have to defend myself. I have nothing to prove (i.e. I don’t have to prove myself to others in order to be secure in who I am), nor do I have to prove God. He’s much better at it than I am anyway. God has taught me to trust Him to be my defender, which brings us to the next point.
  • Jesus left His case in the hands of God. Jesus knew who He was. He didn’t need to prove it, because He knew God would. Events would play out and reveal the Truth—Jesus. My friends, I have seen God do this over and over again. It isn’t easy, trust me, I know. But if I try to defend myself, I look foolish. If I trust God to do it, He will often make my accuser look foolish. That doesn’t give me permission to gloat, and often in this process, God works in my heart to have compassion for my accuser. Whoever it may be. Follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting for what to say or NOT to say and trust God to be your defender. 
  • Jesus personally carried our sins so we can live for what is right. And He did this for our pre-believers just as He did this for us. We are freed to live for what is right. Our pre-believers have not embraced this truth yet, so we can’t expect them to live according to that standard. They can live moral lives within their own ability, but they will fall short, just as we did and still do at times. The point here is what Peter said, “do good, what is right, even if it’s hard.” There are times when we can compromise without sinning, but we must not sin to compromise. I hope that makes sense. Sometime standing for the truth makes us a target, but will we stand? For Jesus, yes, I will stand.  
  • The wounds Jesus suffered healed us. And I believe they continue to heal us. As Paul says, continue to work out your salvation. It’s an on-going, transforming process. We are saved from the pit of hell the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord, but our salvation is an ongoing process. Jesus died once but He loves forever. His love transforms us. Declare this truth over your life.
  • He guards our souls. He is the lover of our souls. He did all this to ensure our place with Him. The greatest deception the enemy has accomplished among believers today is to believe God doesn’t love us. But when we really think it through, we can see the lie for what it really is. Why would Jesus suffer and die for us if He didn’t love us? He didn’t just do this to be done with us. He did it to have a deep and intimate relationship with Him. He has drawn us to Him out of love, not duty. 

Wow, this post has gone long. Sorry about that, my friends. So much good stuff in this part of Peter. I especially love the third point about leaving our case in the hand of God. How about you? Which point spoke to your heart most?

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
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Summer Study - An Ordinary People Who Have Been With Jesus

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comGang, 

As we work out way through the books of Peter, I would be remiss if I didn’t stop to share some thoughts about my last post on Friday. So, let me expand a bit on what I shared. One thing has nagged me about the post. 

I shared an example of a fictitious husband who is lost in a world of self-hatred which expresses in his life through alcohol addiction and rage. It grieves me to say that many SUMites walk in this place with an angry, drunken spouse. Because I know this, I want you to hear me now. I understand that it’s not easy or simple to forgive and love someone that behaves in destructive and hurtful patterns. 

Let me state the following: If you are living in an abusive marriage, seek help. Today, this hour. For yourself and your children. 

Pray to break off the spirit of alcohol, rage, self-hatred, etc. etc. Cast those ugly minions into the pit, never to return. In Jesus name. I will pray with you!

Learning to love people and “see” them through the eyes of Christ, however, empowers us to see past the superficial. We can ignore the annoying, the stubborn, the impossible, the arrogant and the godless people whom we live with, work with and come into contact with. The love of Christ, seats us in heavenly realms (Ephesians 2) and we can love an impossible mother-in-law, a boss who is a jerk, the neighbor who has loud parties, even the coach of the T-ball team who is ignoring our kid. 

This week I want to challenge you to do something amazing. I want you to ask God to help you “see” those who are unlovely through the lens of love. Now this is really important, pray and ask God for wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17) that you can perceive what is really going on in a person’s life who annoys you and then begin to pray for them. 

Let me share a Kingdom secret with you: When you pray in earnest for someone it becomes impossible to hate them. Try me on this! No try Jesus on this! 

Also, this week I want you to take a risk for the Kingdom. I want you to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. When you feel the urging of the Spirit to say something to a friend, a stranger about your faith or Jesus or pray to for them, I want you to follow through. God, has told me that He has encounters for us and this week especially, people will be open to receive a word of love from Christ, through you. Are you up for this risk? God won’t let you down if you follow through. And as one who has obeyed when God told me to speak to someone, I can tell you this. When you finish with the encounter it will be one of the most amazing things you will ever do. (Here is one of my encounter stories.)

SUMite Nation, Peter was an ordinary man and unschooled fisherman. Peter became a risk taker. He jumped out of the boat and walk on water. He was the first to speak to the new church on Pentecost. He was the one who went into the tomb to look for Jesus. Peter risked his life to preach the living Word, Jesus, to a lost and hopeless people. 

Let’s be like him this week. Let’s bring Jesus to someone who needs to be unchained from satan. 

The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. —Acts 4:13 

My friends, we are ordinary people with no special training but WE HAVE BEEN WITH JESUS. This week, let's let our lives reflect this astonishing truth. 

I wanna hear your stories. I may head off to Walmart to pray again this week.

O Jesus, give all of us boldness. In Your powerful name, Jesus. AMEN

On Friday, we are going to examine suffering. You are gong to be surprised by what I have to say. But it's in the book. Get ready for some freedom!!!!

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1 Peter 1 & 2: Building Foundations (part 1)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiMy friends, we’ve been set up. But in a good way. A great way. Let me explain. Or better yet, I’ll let Peter explain…

This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. 

They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. — 1 Peter 1:10-12 NLT

We walk in this truth today, the very truth of salvation that the prophets and even the angels eagerly awaited. What must it have been like for those prophets to catch a glimpse of God’s plan, yet not be given the opportunity to experience it? I can easily picture Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah along with the other prophets, standing among the angels as they watched God’s plan unfold in the birth of a baby and explode on a cross. Did they point and exclaim, “God told me He was going to do that!” 

Stunning to think about this grand set up and we are the “set-up-ees.” Peter further expounds on God’s plan by reminding us of the cost.

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days. — 1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT

I believe Peter wanted his readers to clearly understand that God’s plan of salvation was not the invention of men, but the long term solution from God. Man had already turned the early commandments given to Moses into a religion (Judaism) with twice as many rules and more coming. Peter wanted to be very clear that this was the FINAL answer and not just another rule or method.

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;
their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

 And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. — 1 Peter 1:23-25 NLT

Peter’s last line there gives key insight. The New Testament uses two Greek words that describe Scripture, which are translated as “word.” John referred to Jesus as the Word, using the Greek word, logos, which has a list of meanings that would take a blog post of its own. In essence, it refers to a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea, the sayings of God, decree or mandate. The Divine Expression—Christ.

But when Peter uses it in verse 25, he uses the Greek word, rhēma, defined as that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word. Essentially, Peter is saying that the words preached to them held the truth of the Good News—the new message of Christ and His salvation, which would become the New Testament as we know it today and is the revelation of all that was foretold in the Old Testament. Some call these Holy Spirit inspired words, rhēma words, which agree with Scripture and are life-giving to the recipient. 

Jesus was the Word that already existed, through whom all was created and through whom all would be saved (John 1:1-5). Jesus was the living and final WORD, the word become flesh. That is what Peter wanted his readers to know. That although the Good News as preached to them was not written (yet) in scrolls as the Old Testament, they still held the truth of God.

All this Peter did to build up to his case of who we are in this Good News preached by the disciples. The very definition of who people were in God’s great plan was about to shift to a place of equality and uniqueness that people hadn’t heard as of yet, but would in actuality be the revelation of what God intended all along. 

No longer would people define their relationship with God with the help of the Law and a priest (Pharisee). For the first time since the Garden of Eden, men and women would know the One True God personally and intimately, because He made His home in temples of flesh instead of stone, and they were essentially their own priest, so to speak. The Holy Spirit had come to dwell in each person, connecting all to God the Father through Christ and to each other as the body of Christ. 

In essence, our identity changed from being outwardly defined to inwardly created. We are new creations, and royal priests, as Peter says. He also calls us living stones, chosen and precious in the sight of God,like Jesus was chosen and precious.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. — 1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV

My friends, I will stop here and save the rest for next week. What Peter told the early believers was life changing then, and it still is today. In the meantime, think about the reference to a cornerstone. 

What was a cornerstone and Who is the cornerstone? I bet you already know the answer to the second part, but have some fun finding out the first part. I’ll share that in part two.

Love you, my friends! Having a blast with you as we study Peter!
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Summer Bible Study: Peter’s Restoration

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiPeter’s story of restoration is one of my favorites in the Bible. And I think knowing where he came from gives us even deeper appreciated of his letters which reflect the man of faith he became. So let’s just jump to John 21 and look at the foundation Jesus built in the man we know as Peter. 

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “ Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “ Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “ Follow me. —John 21:15-19

This transaction is very symbolic. First Jesus told Peter he would deny Jesus three times, which Peter did. And it is Jesus who also restores Peter, three times. I believe Jesus knew exactly what Peter needed to be able to move forward as the rock upon which Christ’s church would be built.

Just as Peter denied Christ three time, Jesus gives Peter the chance to “choose” him three times thereby reaffirming Peter’s place in relationship to God’s kingdom and also to Christ himself. 

But let’s dig a little deeper into the Greek meaning behind the two version of the word “love” used in this passage.

The first time Christ asks Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” he uses agape, which portrays love as volitional (a choice) and self-sacrificing. Peter answers him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” But he uses phileō, which means a brotherly type of love with common interests. 

The second time Christ asks Peter this question, He again uses the agape form (“Do you truly love me?”). And again, Peter answers the same, using the phileō form of love.

 Finally, a third time, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Only this time he too uses the phileō form of love and in a sense he’s asking Peter, “Are you really my friend?” Peter didn’t quite seem to catch on to what was going on, and though hurt, he affirms his love for Christ in the same form he had the previous two times, phileō.

I wonder if Peter was afraid to confess such devotion out of fear. He’d let his Messiah down once. Was he afraid he would again, that he didn’t have what it took for the long haul? As I read this part of Peter’s history and imagine how he would have felt, I believe his self worth was at an all time low, which gave Jesus the opportunity to not only restore him but to define him.

Peter was about to learn who he was and whose he was—his identity in Jesus. And as we enter into his letters, we will see Peter as the man Jesus created him to be. A man sold out for Jesus because of his agape love for his Messiah.

I love Peter’s story because it reminds me that even in our worst moments, our bad choices, our failures, our losses...Jesus restores us and we can move forward in grace and truth.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. — 1 Peter 5:10

Peter shares this bold truth with us because he understood it more intimately than most. On a beach as he sat soaked to the bone with the smell of fish cooking on a fire, Jesus himself restored, confirmed, strengthened and established Peter, the rock on which He would build His church.

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Summer Study - Peter - The Man

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comI’m fascinated by the man, the disciple, Peter.

Reading and contemplating the exchange between Peter and Jesus during the Last Supper is intriguing, telling, and powerful. I would venture to guess that a great number of Jesus followers today can relate to this man. His passions, doubts, walk-on-water faith, brilliant moments and woeful experiences are true in our lives, just as they were in the life of Peter.

Jesus washes the feet of the disciples in the upper room. John 13 brings the discussion to life where Peter objects to his feet washing. (Just like us… I’m not worthy Lord). Then Peter decides he is worthy and wants Christ to make sure not to miss a spot, asking for a whole-body wash. (Just like us…. I better ask for everything and anything….. I don’t want to be left out.)

Yep.

We are more like Peter than we know.

At the end of this exchange Jesus says to Peter —to all of the disciples:

I have given you an example to follow: Do as I have done to you.

Jesus concludes: “You know these things — now do them!

—That is the path of blessing!”

My friends, this summer for a month, maybe a bit longer, let’s walk these pathways of blessing together. The Books of 1&2 Peter are filled with concepts, truths and freedoms that when under our feet take us along the pathways of the blessed and faithful. Let’s do this together.

We will look at different passages in these books as they apply to our lives today. I will likely skip around, as the best studies are always when I step aside and allow the Holy Spirit to lead my reading and listen to His voice.

With this said, I’m expecting some powerful moments to arise. I know the Lord has surprises, delights and divine moments when we will walk upon the path of holy ground. In fact, I know a few of us will be on our face as Jesus stands before us offering His love and healing.

Neat!

Before we jump straight into scripture, I think it is wise to bring our community into a common place of understanding about the man, Peter. Who was he? What happened to him and who he became and why his two books hold great wisdom. So, help a girl out.

Who can give me a two or three paragraph synopsis of the life of Peter? (Don’t go overboard) Leave your thoughts it in the comments. I will use that as a launch to the next post. Post any tidbits that are special to you about Peter in the comments as well.

Okay, Jesus followers…… This is a challenge to you to get out the Word, the powerful Word of God, and read it to discover the man, Peter. The disciple of whom Jesus said:

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” —Matthew 16:18

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

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Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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