292 posts categorized "Conflict and Challenges"

When Your Spouse Walks Away From God

Ps34-22My friends, as you can see from the title, we tackling a very difficult and painful topic today. It’s one I think we should address as it’s something many of you are living out. And one of you even asked for this subject to be addressed on our recent survey.

Please. Please talk about spouses leaving the faith. — Kelly

So, let me first say to Kelly and all those SUMites out there in this same position that I am so sorry. The closest I can come to relate to this kind of situation is how I felt when my husband made the choice of atheism. He’d recently bought a Bible, and I was convinced he would soon join me in this faith journey. Needless to say I was devastated. 

But God helped me let go of my expectations and to trust Him to bring my marriage through to a place of peace. I had a lot to learn and as the believing spouse, God started with healing my heart first.

My friends, I’ve prayerfully sought the Holy Spirit’s council on what to write and how to help those of you in this position. Though I don’t have first hand experience with this, I can imagine the pain, rejection and betrayal that rushes in to fill the gap once occupied by a united faith. And that is the place that we should start to address this kind of situation, because until all of the pain, heartache and betrayal is brought to God and addressed, the marriage is hindered and healing can’t easily begin.

Forgiveness Is a Daily Choice

As I shared from my own story, I had to let go of my expectations of what I thought my marriage would be like. That also meant I had to release my husband from those expectations. For many of you, this will mean forgiving your spouse for their choice to walk away from God and from a life of shared faith. Release them from the debt you may hold against them as well—for not meeting your expectation.

When you’ve made these decisions, make the choice not to go back into unforgiveness. That will most likely be your greatest challenge as you continue to walk in a mismatched marriage. Remind yourself that you made the choice to forgive and that you are trusting God to mend your broken heart as He promises to do (Ps. 147:3) and remind the enemy too. 

Also, realize that their choice is not against you, though it may very well feel that way. That is not your burden to carry. Give that to God as well. And you didn’t cause this. You are not responsible for your spouse’s decision. God gave us each a free will to choose—or not to choose—Him. 

Then move forward. Your relationship with God is your own. Continue to pursue your faith with all the fire and passion He has placed in you. 

Understanding the Situation and Applying Truth

First, remember that even though your spouse stopped believing (or think they do) in God, God never stops believing in them. They may walk away for a time but God does not leave them.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. — 2Tim 2:13 (ESV)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.— Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)

Not even your spouse’s choice to walk away from God will separate God’s love from him or her. God’s love is not based upon us—how we act, believe, succeed, etc. It is completely based upon Who He is. He loved us first—not in response to our love. He is love and that is His character.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love. — 1 John 4:16a (ESV)

We love because he first loved us. — 1John 4:18 (ESV)

Second, don’t make assumptions. The biggest pitfall I can foresee here is false assumptions as to the “why” behind your spouse’s decision. Most of the time, when I delve a little deeper, seeking better understanding from the person or God (or both), I discover details I never would have known otherwise. And those specifics can make a huge difference in how you relate to your spouse.

I know this will be difficult, but ask your spouse to help you understand where they are coming from. This is where I suggest you pray first, asking God to prepare your heart and your spouse’s for this conversation. What you find out may very well surprise you. Be prepared to bring what he or she shares to God also. You are now being called to intercede for your spouse at a whole new level.  

Their reasons may include things like:

  • Anger at the church. Sometimes we misplace our faith in people instead of God. So when they let us down, we reject God instead of realizing that we’ve put God-like expectations on an imperfect human being. No church is perfect. And it’s very possible a spirit of religion is at work here. It’s very possible your spouse has operated more under the law instead of grace.
  • Anger at God for not meeting their expectations. This is where disappointment moves in, and I believe many of us have walked this road. I know I have. What I discovered is that my expectations were based upon my own thoughts and determinations of how I thought the situation should be. Thus when it didn’t pan out that way, I was grew disappointed. This is where is it so vital that we know God’s character and that He is always working for our good (Rom. 8:28), no matter what things look like. (This one applies to us as well—we can be angry at God for what’s happened in our marriage. Be honest with Him. He can handle your anger and help you walk out of it in greater trust and faith.)
  • Feeling they can never measure up so why bother. This ultimately has a lot to do with identity—who do you believe you are and who do you believe God is for you. If you don’t know God’s character and don’t understand His love for you, you fall into a place of trying to earn His love and to “get right” with God. In our own power and ability, we can’t achieve that. God knew that and thus why He sent His Son Jesus to take care of it once and for all. Grace is a gift, and salvation is all about His love and willingness to die rather than to lose us. If we don’t understand that it has nothing to do with our own efforts and merits, we struggle to fully receive God’s love and can’t walk fully into the confidence that we are truly loved.
  • Deception. We know the truth of John 10:10, that the enemy prowls looking for a way to steel our Christ-given power, to kill our hopes and to destroy our faith so we are not walking in the truth of who we really are. But Jesus is greater. The rest of this verse is where you want to camp, my friends.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. — John 10:10b-11

SUMites, these reasons may very well be what keeps your spouse from even considering Christianity, church and all they believe comes with it. God has been so misrepresented by the ones who are supposed to represent Him best. But don’t lose hope. God always has a plan.

When Restoration Comes

And it will. Believe God for that. Stand for it. But most of all, don’t carry your expectations from the past into this new place. God is all about the new (Isa. 43:19), and He has a new plan of action for the both of you that way exceeds those old expectations. Don’t limit Him. Don’t limit what He can do in and through you—both of you—no matter where you are in this process. God completes everything He starts. Everything.

And He doesn’t move backwards. Even though you may feel you’ve lost ground or have been knocked off your feet, His plans for restoration always include more. He’s not going to make you start all over. Everything He set into place for you is still there and He will help you step back into it. No matter how long it takes. He’s on your side. Always.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. — Psalm 34:18-19 (ESV)

The Lord redeems the life of his servants. — Psalm 34:22a (ESV)

Yes, God not only redeems us, He redeems our lives and everything in them. He’s so good! 

My friends, I’m sure there is much more to this topic than what I’ve covered here. If you are in such a place and walking this challenging road, please share what you’ve learned that has helped you move forward in faith in your marriage. I’ve no doubt your words of encouragement will reach a heart in need. 

SUMites, you are amazing people of God! I love you!
Dineen

*****

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Broadening our Horizons

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Image courtesy of namakuki at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being a SUMITE is full of interesting conundrums that can at times lead to much discouragement. One of these conundrums is our commitment to various Christian communities. I use the plural here to reflect both the church we attend plus other relationships (one-on-one and group) that we may partake in.

As we’ve discussed before, sometimes our commitments can have a significant impact on our partners. Frustration, discouragement, isolation and sheer anger are some of the feelings our partners experience. These emotions naturally flow into our marriages and can cause our partners and us much stress. 

Lack of Interest

A common refrain we often hear from our partners is a lack of interest in our faith journey. So our church attendance, content shared at meetings, etc just aren’t of interest. There’s a chunk of our lives that is pivotal to us that our partners are not really interested in.

A natural flow on to this is that our partners may not enthusiastically support us in developing friendships with Christian couples, even though we may be keen to do so.

Is this something you’ve found? 

It’s another trick of the enemy. For whatever reason it’s part of the continuing blindfold that he places over our pre-believing partners eyes.

This results in the ongoing conundrum of doing life in our Christian communities in isolation to some extent. Certainly we can walk side-by-side with individuals but so much of life is done in a coupled environment, especially as we get older. 

Christian bubble

We can get caught in up in a lifestyle where all the people we associate with and conversations and so on are all Christian related. My wife raised this with me the other day. It concerns her because a big chunk of my life doesn’t involve and/or interest her. 

And I get it. So much of my time, people, books I read, the study and (at present) vocation, are to do with my faith.

So how do we ensure we don’t unknowingly ostracize our partner?

Fix our eyes on Jesus

Huh? 

But aren’t I saying I’m doing too much of that?

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God…” (Hebrews 12: 1b-2 MSG)

Jesus spent a lot of time with His disciples but we also see how much time He spent in the world. He didn’t hang around in a Christian bubble, He went out amongst the people and associated with people that many in church frowned upon: the lepers, the prostitutes, etc.

Further, Jesus will provide us with the wisdom and discernment in our discussions with our partners and in the steps we take to manage this challenge.

It goes without saying that we also need to prioritise our time with our partners. Recently my church held its annual conference and I felt it best to not physically attend so I could be present with my wife. Yes, there were times I popped onto the live internet feed but I had discussed this with her ahead of time.

I’m not sure what changes I’ll make but I’m appreciative that my wife shared her concern and it has stimulated an ongoing dialogue about it and how we can manage a balance that both glorifies the Lord and help honor our marriage in the process.

How do you and your partner manage this balance?

Please leave your thoughts as I hope we can stimulate a really positive discussion on a tricky and at times contentious subject.

Grace and peace dear friends,

*****

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Grace in the Waiting

Eagle

The Israelites were a people who waited. They waited for the promise of restoration to their homeland for over 70 years. My friends, we are like the Israelites. We are also a people group united in our time of waiting as we yearn and hope for the promise of salvation. And God has given grace-filled promises for every part of it.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable. — Isaiah 40:28

Nothing is unknown to Him. Every possibility is the doorway to another, yet the ultimate goal is always the same. He is the one unchanging constant in this life, my friends. He exists beyond time as we understand, as He just is. He is our Creator, our Redeemer, our Savior—His heart is to be all things to us and His power, like His love, is more than we can comprehend. He never tires, falters, or doubts. He trusts us more than we trust ourselves. He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. And how could He not? He knows what He has given us as a deposit, as His ultimate promise—His Spirit.

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted; — Isaiah 40:29-30

The Hebrew word for "power" is ḵôaḥ and holds meanings such as to be firm; vigor, ability, able, chameleon, force, fruits, might, power(-ful), strength, substance and wealth. It is a "power-packed" word (yes, pun intended) that attempts encompass and define His indefinable power, presence and provision. It is who He is.

Our limited power and strength never diminish or change His plans. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Our weakness is the very condition that allows His power to be revealed and perfected (2 Cor. 12:9). And He never grows weary in His own strength and He never grows weary of helping us, providing for us, sustaining us and loving us. When we see impossible, He says possible. When we see a wall, He makes a doorway. When we see the end, He says it's just the beginning of a new time, a new season, a new opportunity...

Appointed Times and Seasons

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31

There are two Hebrew words here that hold vital meanings to our complete understanding. The first is "wait." Other translations use "hope." That's because the Hebrew word here, qâwâ, means both to wait and to hope. It also holds meanings such as to bind together, to expect, gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).

To hope in the Lord means to wait expectantly upon Him to fulfill His promises to us. He knows the times and season of our lives down to the smallest detail. He is always working to fulfill what He has promises us in the best timing and seasons possible. He wants us to have the fullest benefit. 

The second noteworthy word in these verses is "walk." The Hebrew word here, yâlaḵ, and means to walk (literally or figuratively); causatively, to carry (in various senses), bear, bring, carry (away), come (away), depart, flow, follow, grow, lead (forth), let down, march, prosper, pursue, cause to run, spread, take away. Take not of the meaning "prosper" in this definition. As His children, no matter what time or season we are in, we are intended to prosper and thrive. Even in the toughest of times, God is working to help us reap our reward as we grow more like His Son Jesus.

And perhaps I'm not far off in say that is our greatest "opportunity," dear friends, to be more and more Christ-like. Our lives are a continual journey toward Jesus, to be like Him and one with Him. I used to wonder if we had to discard all that we are in order to be like Jesus, but the reality is, in doing so we become who we truly are intended and designed to be. Our identity in Jesus is a lifetime spent in revelation of our unity and inheritance in Him. And we are provided for in every way and for every aspect of that journey.

There is so much grace for us in the waiting, my friends. Both the Hebrew and Greek words for "grace" mean kindness and favor. So know that as you wait, God's grace is there providing His power, strength, hope and provision as we dwell in His great kindness and favor.

SUMites, you are greater in and through Him than you will ever know. You are destined to soar on wings like eagles!

Love you!
Dineen

*****

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Waiting on the Promises with Hope

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My advent wreath—the first candle lit represents hope.

Hello, SUM Family! Life at the new Miller Home has been crazy busy and hectic to say the least.  We’re mostly settled in with just a few boxes here and there.My daughters and son-in-love will soon arrive to spend Christmas with us—our first Christmas in our new home. Needless to say hubby and I have been busy little bees getting things put in place and finishing some projects ourselves like towel bars and and a few light fixtures.

Then, of course, decorating the house for Christmas, gift shopping, social events…my list is growing, my friends. How about yours? I think we all share this common challenge of managing the business of the season while trying not to lose the heart and hope of what it truly means.

Christmas is all about promise. Our Messiah Jesus was/is the greatest promise given to us. The Old Testament is all about that promise. God moves and weaves Himself into the lives of His people with great care, often giving us just a glimpse into a picture too large for us to fully comprehend. But every story points to His faithfulness to His promises. 

Here’s are two translations of a verse that captured my heart this week:

This is why I wait upon you, expecting your breakthrough, for your word brings me hope. — Psalm 130:5 (TPT)

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; — Psalm 130:5 (ESV)

The first version from the Passion Translation brings to light the position of waiting, to wait expectantly for God to bring breakthrough. Sometimes we can get tired in this place of waiting and give up right before that breakthrough comes. The key here, my friends, is to be tenacious and one of the best ways to do this is to have a support system. This is one reason why having a church home, small group or prayer partner is vital. 

Last Sunday I went to church weary from a lot of spiritual warfare. The enemy targeted my daughters and family to try to undermine my choice to stand in a place of peace. I went up for prayer at the end of the service. A friend spoke wise words to my heart, “to speak what I know, not what I see.” 

In other words, I could speak the trouble and chaos I was witnessing in my children’s lives, or I would speak the truth of God’s Word and promises into the situations and into their lives. 

Both of these translations also contain “word,” which means promise. The Bible is God’s promise to us, and Jesus is the manifestation of those promises as He is the Word become flesh (John 1). That kind of blows me away, SUMites. That’s a huge promise and God fulfilled it. Nothing is impossible with Him.

My friends, like you there are promises that I have prayed into all year long (like my daughter’s health and restoration so she can work again) that I’m still waiting to see manifest. Those are the ones that put our faith to the test. Will we continue to contend for what God has promised us no matter how long it takes? These are the waiting places that require us to guard our hearts from doubt and encourage ourselves in the Lord. His love conquers everything! 

As Ian shared in his beautiful post Wednesday, we are a people who wait. We know this position well, my friends. SUMites, we are all standing and praying for the promise of salvation for our spouses—a promise God spoke to my heart specifically for this community at the beginning of the year. I know He continues to work in our spouses in ways we can’t even see yet. Seeds are being planted and divine appointments put in place. I believe God is “setting-up” our spouses to walk into belief in ways we can’t even imagine right now. I am contending for this for my own spouse and yours. And I have been asking God for testimonies.

Well, I have a story to share with you that I think will strengthen your faith and reenergize your prayers. Last week we received a testimony from Jamie about her marriage and her husband. This is a stunning story of God working in the most unexpected ways. All evidence pointed to this marriage ending in divorce, my friends, BUT GOD… It’s powerful, awe-inspiring and beautiful. All things are possible with God.

Read ‘God Saved Our Marriage…and My Husband’ here. I pray it encourages you and ignites a new hope in your spirit. That is the promise we hold within, the hope of Jesus, and it’s the focus of this first week of Advent.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. — Romans 5:1-5

SUMites, I bless you with a fresh anointing of hope that will ignite your faith to a whole new level as we close this year well. 

I love you all so much,
Dineen

 

*****

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Reaction Mode

Dear friends, the following is a post I did a few years back. The Holy Spirit has continually reminded me of this post the last week or so, but I wasn't sure if it was a needed subject at the moment. Then on Thursday as I was working on the registration details for the Hope Ignited conference our healing rooms and my church were hosting, I heard the Holy Spirit say over and over again throughout the day, "Don't take offense."

I assumed it was for me, specifically something the Holy Spirit knew I would encounter at some point over the weekend at the conference. Then our worship leader gave a word on this very subject Friday evening. I knew then it was a corporate word. And then Lynn's post yesterday confirmed that! Wow! Don't you just love how the Holy Spirit speaks to us?

God is on the move, my friends, to restore this nation to peace and righteousness. I truly believe we will be astonished in how He does this through His amazing love.

So, I present to you, "Reaction Mode," originally posted in September of 2011. I pray it speaks to your heart and encourages you. I've updated it just a bit for our community needs right now.

 

Reactions Mode

6a00d83451ee9f69e2014e8b804fe8970d-320wiAre you in reaction mode in your marriage?

I remember to this day when I made this revelation about my marriage. I stood in our home office, about to react to something my husband said. I believe at that moment the Holy Spirit stopped me and then gave me a complete picture of the situation. And it wasn’t pretty. If this pattern didn’t stop soon, my marriage would soon crash and burn.

And even more sobering (i.e. convicting)? I was the heart of the problem, because my heart was in a bad shape. Years of resentment toward my husband and unmet expectations had created a barrier between us.

What I call “reaction mode” is this highly destructive and very draining place where you and your spouse are walking in your marriage more like adversaries than partners. Every comment is scrutinized under suspicion and communication has completely broken down.

Though not always true, I find this often starts with women. We stop communicating out of unforgiveness and resentment. Or, like me, we never learned to communicate in a healthy manner.

The saddest part of reaction mode is that it leads to contempt toward one another. And where there is contempt, respect and love no longer exist. They simply can’t coexist. For example, a husband reacts back to his wife harshly, because he’s not receiving his deepest desire, which is to be respected. The wife then retreats or closes herself off, feeling unloved when her deepest desire is to be loved.

Do you see the vicious cycle? That’s the first and most crucial step to breaking reaction mode—seeing this pattern in your marriage. Whether you are male or female, this pattern will not stop until you make the first move. What does this change look like?

  1. Be Careful What You Speak.

You know, there were times that I realized my reactions to my husband bordered on the behavior of a sarcastic teenager. Not a pretty sight but very convicting when recognized. Our words have the power to build or break down. If you’re inclined to speak without thinking first, stop right now and ask God to help control your mouth. This is a biblical principle and He will help you. Trust me on that.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. — Proverbs 15:1

We can also seek the Holy Spirit for the right words to speak as well. If we choose words that are honest and without an agenda to prove we’re right or place blame, we can be instrumental to restoring peace to our marriage.

  1. Dwell on the Positive.

It’s easy to fall into this place where we think our spouse has an ulterior motive to his or her words. Even simple requests can turn into a battleground, because we’ve somehow fallen into the lie that our spouse intends to harm us. This suspicion perpetuates the reaction mode and is its fuel. Suspicion can also be fueled by lies, so the best way to combat this is to counteract with the truth. What does your spouse do well?

Make a list. My husband is great about making sure the garbage goes out every week. I appreciate this even more when he’s out of town and I have to do it. Yuck! He’s also great about going grocery shopping with me, and he’s quick to show his love and affection. Start with small things and your list will grow. Then study it whenever you fall into thinking those negative thoughts about your spouse.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. — Philippians 4:8

A negative thought feeds the enemy and breeds more negativity. This can even evolve into scenarios playing out in your mind of how your spouse could potentially hurt you. Then you wind up hurt and defensive over something that never even happened.

A positive thought feeds the spirit and releases the Holy Spirit to work in your mind for transformation (Romans 12:2). He also works in your heart to help you forgive and allow God’s love to flow more freely to and through you.

Which one do you want to grow “fatter” in your life?

  1. Respect Him Even When You Don’t Want To, Love Her Even When She’s Unlovable.

Our hubbies need to know we will still stand by them when they mess up. And they will mess up, just as we do. We need to extend that hand of grace and acceptance, just as we want it extended to us. I’ve never seen anything quite as destructive to a marriage as contempt. And it is subtle in its presence. This goes right back to number one in how we use our words.

Add to that how you sound. What is your tone? Are you speaking in a way that solicits cooperation or are you condemning and accusing? This was the biggest area that I needed to change, and I know I could not have done it without God’s help. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that our tone and words hurt those we love. Pull out that list you made and go over it again. When it’s hard to show respect to your husband, find the things you can respect and show it to him. Then watch him bloom under your praise.

… and the wife must respect her husband. — Ephesians 5:33b

And loving someone when they are unlovable is one of the most powerful and sacrificial things a person can do. I have watched a woman be astonished by the fact that my church was assisting her out of our own desire to help and we weren’t getting paid by the government to do it. I have been deeply humbled by my husband's love when I was in pain and cranky. Love speaks louder than anything. Anything! Love changes hearts, marriages, families, cities and nations.

God is love so when we love, even when a person hasn’t “earned it,” we display His heart and presence in the most powerful way possible by revealing His very nature. Love (1 John 4).

  1. Keep a “We” Mentality.

Isn’t this really the truth we forget? We enter in to marriage as two “I’s” and suddenly have to figure out what it means to be a “we.” This requires putting our spouse first, this means loving and respecting even when we don’t feel it, this means seeing our marriage truly as a team effort and pulling our weight even when we feel our spouse isn’t. God sees our heart and our efforts. Your actions to honor Him in your marriage are never wasted!

Don’t quit the team. Be the one who stands strong and keeps Christ in the middle—your faith and prayers do that (1 Cor. 7:14). Whatever issues you’re dealing with, remember that you and your spouse are a team. Blame solves nothing. Teamwork always gets the job done.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. —Genesis 2:24

Finally, remember that we can’t make these changes on our own. We need God’s help. Start with prayer and trust that God really can work in you, in your spouse and in your marriage to bring change and healing. It takes time, but when we desire God’s will for our marriage—a partnership built on love and respect—He will give us the desire of our heart (Psalm 37:4).

SUMites, I want to leave you with one final thought here (and this is a new part I'm adding). No matter where we are in our faith journey, God sees us the same way through His love and according to who He created us to be. We are His righteousness through Christ Jesus. And He never changes for He is the God of today, yesterday and tomorrow. He doesn't function within time as we do. He is present in all places—past present and future.

Now this is where it gets really interesting and may blow your mind a bit. Just as He sees us in this way, as who He created us to be, He sees our spouse the same way. He does not define them by their lack of faith but according to the measure of faith He has set aside for them. He sees them as they are intended to be, His children. I believe that is the heart of Eccl. 3:11 too. 

Father God, give us Your eyes, Your perspective of our spouse. Help us see them in the potential and in the light of eternity that You've placed within them so that we can love them according to that image and be part of releasing the truth of Your love in them. Thank You, Lord! Thank You! In the amazing name of Jesus, amen!

Love you so much, SUMites! And God loves you even better. ;-)
Dineen

 

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

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The Times They are a Changin'

My friends, I pray this video encourages you. As I suggested, read Ezra and this amazing story of how God used King Cyrus, the leaders of the Trans Eurphrates, King Artaxerxes and King Darius to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The very people and plans to stop this wound up revealing the original edict by Cyrus to rebuild the Temple. God loves to turn things on end and surprise us, SUMites. Remember, things won't look the way you expect. This is not a time of either or. It's a time of yes and both and AMEN!

So let's be in prayer together for our loved ones.

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. — 2 Kings 6:15-17

Lord Jesus, open the eyes of our spouses and loved ones that they me see YOU! In the name  of Jesus, amen!

I love you so much, SUMites! You are amazing!
Dineen

*****

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SUM Books 4


Expecting Perfection

QuestionMy friends, I’m finally settled (mostly) in our new home and writing my first post for the blog from my new office. I am so excited about one part in particular. Why?

I have doors. 

Yep, doesn’t take a whole lot to make this gal happy. I can now close the doors of my office and play worship music whenever I want and speak privately on the phone on the occasions when I’m blessed to minister to someone. 

And I’m learning some new lessons in this season about expectations. Specifically my expectations of God. Early on God made it clear this home was a blessing from His hand and I was to receive it as such. 

But what I didn’t expect were the complications that came. Foundation issues, mistakes (the tub vs. the shower) and a backed up sewer line on our fourth day, just to name the big ones. I expected the little ones, like an unfinished wall behind a toilet that went unnoticed until the toilet backed up. Yet, I assumed that since God was clearly behind it all, we’d not have so many big hitches that turned an expected four to six month build into a year.

So not true.

Those are the moments that make you stop, pause and wonder. Don’t you think? If God is clearly the force behind the event, then why do we still hit complications that threaten to take us off track?

This is what I’m discovering and please add your own thoughts and wisdom in the comments, my friends.

  1. The obvious first answer is the enemy. We do have an enemy intent upon destroying God’s kingdom and all that it entails. John 10:10 tells us that. I have to say, I scratch my head at that one and wonder why he bothers when he knows he’s already lost, but he’s just a bully and a trouble maker. So, it makes sense that he’d try to come against this home in light of the kingdom plans God has for it. Most of it, my friends, it just inconveniences that could easily keep me frustrated if I didn’t continually turn them over to God. He’s the burden (yoke) carrier. I get to be His kid and stand in confidence that He’s got it covered. Yet the more serious side of this is to remember that the enemy will hinder us to order to keep us from reaching the lost. He may have lost the war, but he’s still battling for souls. And we are part of God’s army to defeat him. Amen? Our godly and kingdom inspirations will meet opposition.

  2. Which brings me to a little “ditty” I created and have written on a piece of paper that I keep on my desk right above my keyboard.

    “For every trial and conflict we face, God has already put a promise and provision in place.”

    Our challenge as God’s children is to remember to look for it, ask for it, and/or pray for it. God not only has a solution, He is the solution.

  3. Sometimes we perceive a complication or delay as the enemy when, in actuality, it is God’s hand of protection. The biggest example I’ve witnessed Him do this is one I’ve shared in the past. When my daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, the procedure to put a port in her chest for her chemo treatments fell through three times. It was ridiculous. What I didn’t understand at the time was that God had a plan to literally change the chemistry of that tumor. After her surgery they reassessed the tumor to be a grade 3 instead of a grade 4. They even sent it to another hospital in another state to be sure. If they’d put the port in her chest, they would have had to take it right back out. She didn’t need it, because she didn’t need chemo after all. Praise Jesus!
    SUMites, I imagine you can think back to at least one of those stories yourself. They are powerful testimonies of God’s protection and presence!

  4. There is no such thing as perfection in this world. Though we seek it, want it, even long for it, we won’t find it here. And that longing is just a sign of our deep and true longing for our real home in heaven. So in the waiting, I believe God calls us to look for the beauty in those imperfections, because then we can witness His presence and power at work. He does the perfecting (2 Cor. 12:9). And there is always a good to be found in everything, because God is working in everything to reveal it. That’s one of our greatest promises in the Bible and one of my favorites, Romans 8:28. He turns every negative into a positive. Amazing!

My friends, sometimes we will see the reason or the good in the trial or complication quickly. Other times we will scratch our heads in confusion every time we think about it. Those are the times we must rely on faith and trust in our God that His ways, thoughts and plans are much higher and grander than we can imagine. And just because we can’t see Him working doesn’t mean He isn’t there. I think we, as SUMites, have an advantage of experience in this area. We live in this level of faith every day as we wait for our spouses to come to faith. God is faithful and relentless in His pursuit of everyone to know Him (2 Peter 3:9).

So, my friends, these are some of the things God is teaching me at the moment. How about you? What are you seeing and witnessing God doing in you, around you, in your family, etc.? 

And one final thought. Our best stance is abiding and resting in Him (a.k.a. trusting Him). Because that’s when Abba does His best work. Why? Because we get out of the way. LOL! Amen? Amen!

Love you!
Dineen

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SUM Books 4


Guest Post: The Mismatched Family by Dee Rusnak

Dear friends, I'm traveling this week and will be in Nashville for the ACFW conference. I'm thrilled to share this most encouraging post by SUMite, Dee Rusnak. How amazing to think our Lord and Savior Jesus understands our mismatched places because He lived it too. 

Thank you, Dee, for once again sharing your beautiful heart and encouraging words with us! Love you!
See you next week, SUMites!
Dineen

The Mismatched Family 
By Dee Rusnak

JesusTestedHow often have we learned that God is never in a hurry, or at least within our time frame? Or better, never in the way we expect? We read in Joshua how ripe Jericho was for the taking, but God said not so fast with the Israelites who were hungry to take the land. And, when they did, it was in such an unorthodox way (Joshua 6 - marching around the city). Why do we want to rush things and do it in our own way? For me it's so I can rest knowing my ducks are all in a row. If my entire family were saved, then peace would be upon me, or so I think. But God is drawing them in His time and according to His ways. I struggle with that.

In reading through God's Word we find that the family of Jesus didn't believe while He was among them, even to the point of sarcasm. "But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to Him, 'You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that Your disciples may see the miracles You do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world' For even His own brothers did not believe in Him." (John 7:3-5)

Mark (3:21) recounts that His family thought "He is out of His mind!" How did Jesus handle the fact that His own family didn't believe? Matthew 13 lists them as James, Joseph, Simon and Jude, and some unnamed sisters. Jesus certainly had the power to change their hearts. After all, time was ticking and He wasn't going to be on earth much longer. Time to get Your ducks in a row here, Lord! Did Mary teach them and groom them as they were growing up, especially nearing adulthood, about their older brother as Savior? Did His true identity come as a total shock to His younger siblings? Where were they during His crucifixion? Didn't they love Him or try to defend Him? Interestingly, none of this is mentioned in God's Word.

However, we know that some were saved. In 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 Paul writes "He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of His followers at the same time...Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." Mary and His brothers waited in the upper room for the Holy Spirit following His ascension, "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." (Acts 1:14) But, which brothers, if not all? Two brothers that we know of, James and Jude, were converted and wrote books in the New Testament. James later became a leader in the Jerusalem church. What about His sisters? Did He pray for His Father to draw them? Were there still family members who did not believe? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins?

If Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are, was He as concerned for the souls of His family, just as we are for those in our lives? "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus was quite familiar with God's ways and His timing. Never do we see Him fretting throughout His life. As Psalm 37 says "Do not fret - fretting only brings harm." Yet He entrusted God with all things, including Himself, and the salvation of His earthly family…and us!

Jesus prayed…

“I do not pray for these alone (disciples), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)

SUMs, Jesus had a mismatched family! We are literally walking in His shoes (sandals)! When we read that He has experienced everything we go through, did you ever consider this situation? We’ve never been alone, SUMs, nor will we ever be! He’s been where we are! He gets it! In His great compassion and love for us, He has given us an example to follow of what we’re to do while we wait: Pray. Trust. Obey. Look what happened with James and Jude! Not only did they believe, but were used by God as Bible authors! Forget the ducks. Instead, together let’s listen intently to God’s very heartbeat: "who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), and let us watch Him do what's impossible for us but is so very possible for Him!

Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband of 44 years, Jerry, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and three adorable grandchildren, with one more on the way due Christmas Day!

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Part Four: The Promised Provision

IMG_0009My friends, are you ready for more of God’s amazing truth and love? Are you ready to have your thinking transformed a bit today? Let’s go back to the book of Jeremiah and take another look at King Zedekiah’s story.

Let’s look at the first five verses of Jeremiah 34, because this is where things get really interesting.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all the armies from the kingdoms he ruled, and he fought against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. At that time this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape his grasp but will be captured and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. Then you will be exiled to Babylon.

 “‘But listen to this promise from the LORD, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the LORD says: You will not be killed in war but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the LORD.” — Jeremiah 34:1-5

I just recently listened to a faith message that presented a concept I hadn’t considered about God’s character and plans of us. Then God showed me the truth of it here in this passage in Jeremiah 34.

In every difficulty we face, there is a God-given promise. 

If you think about it, if you think about God’s nature and promises like Romans 8:28 that God works for our good in ALL things, then it makes perfect sense. That alone is the promise in a nutshell. Especially believers in Jesus who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. God will not and cannot deny Himself.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. — 2 Timothy 2:13

God gave Jeremiah a message for King Zedekiah of what was going to happen, that Nebuchadneezzar would take the city of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and there would be no escape. Yet God has made a provision for Zedekiah—a promise. Jeremiah even says, “Listen to this promise form the Lord…”

In Jeremiah 38:17-20, King Zedekiah questions Jeremiah again, and again Jeremiah repeats God’s promise. Which if you look back to what Jeremiah said in chapter 34, showed God’s intention to honor Zedekiah’s obedience with a legacy of honor and praise. Sadly, Zedekiah admits his afraid to surrender and fears King Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath more than he trusts God to keep His promise. In chapter 39 we read of his failed attempt to escape with resulted in him watching his sons be slaughtered before his enemy gouged out his eyes. 

Not pleasant, I know, but my dear SUMites, here’s the other part of this amazing thing God is showing me. That promise in our challenge is the key to our breakthrough and our victory, and we walk as conquerors. And the more we do it, the more afraid of us the enemy is! 

This is what it means to fight from victory, not for victory. A promise for every thing we face is already in place for us to find and claim. We are already victorious, already declared conquerors. Now it’s up to us to live like it.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. — Romans 8:37

Not just partial victory, my friends. Overwhelming victory. God won the battle for us when He put our promise in place. Ask Abba what promise He has put into place for the circumstances you are struggling with. Has He already given you a Scripture or two, like He has given me for my daughter Leslie? Has He spoken a word of reassurance to you in the dark of night that you’re afraid to hope for?

My friends, this beautiful SUM family is a huge testimony of God’s faithfulness. He will not fail you. And trust me, I know how hard it can be to look for God in a situation so difficult that all we can see is the mountain of our pain, yet not a glimpse of what God is doing in the midst of it. But I know—have learned—from those very situations that He’s most definitely there. Just not how we expect Him to be. It may not make sense…yet, but it will. 

And I’m discovering that those are the most astonishing moments of God’s undeniable presence manifesting all around us. He’s always been there. I just needed to quit looking for what I expected and see Him.

I love you, my friends. Know that God is giving you the power and the desire to do whatever it is He’s asking you (Phil. 2:13) and He absolutely adores you.

Father God, bless Your SUM Nation with every spiritual blessing You have already set aside for each of us. Fill us, Holy Spirit, with wisdom and revelation to know the direction to go no matter what the circumstances around us look like or are telling us to do. We want only Your voice, Lord Jesus, our Great Shepherd, who gave everything for us to live the abundant life You’ve set before us. Fill us with great courage to take the next step, and the next and the next. Your will be done, Lord, on earth, right now as You have already declared it in Heaven. And to You, Lord, be all the glory. We love You! In the name of Jesus, we pray, amen!

Love you, SUMites!
~Dineen

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SUM Books 4


The Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living

19197771_sOn Tuesday I wrote about God’s promises and asked you to choose one promise you are standing for right now, write it on an idea card and as a prophetic act, stand on it and speak this promise over yourself, your family, or whatever the situation this promise is for.

I want to back up just a bit and be sure that our community understands just how powerful it is the speak God’s Word back to Him, to speak what came from the supernatural into the natural realm (Heb. 11:3). If if you read the Psalms, you’ll notice King David was a master at this.

Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. — Psalm 27:13

In the early years of my Christian faith, I didn’t understand this. I always read my Bible, studied Scriptures and memorized verses here and there, but it wasn’t until much later that I was taught the power of speaking God’s Word out loud, speaking it back to Him. Scripture even tells us this.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” —Isaiah 55:10-13 NLT

As I’ve learned to do this more and more, I’ve seen God’s Word produce the fruit He promised. I believe we give Abba great pleasure when we trust His Word and speak it back to Him. And there are many ways you can do this, my friends.

  1. Simply read His Word out loud. As powerful as playing Christian music in your home can be to change the atmosphere, reading God’s Word out loud in your home is even more so. I know this isn’t always possible with our mismatched situations, but take advantage of the times you can. I did this quite frequently over my children’s rooms as they were growing up and I speak God’s Word over my marriage bed and room. Bless and protect!
  2. Make it a prayer. Take the Words and speak them as prayer to God with your name or a loved one’s name in it. One piece of Scripture that I used quite a bit in recent years is from Psalm 91. Here’s an example:

    “Because Dineen loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges My name. She will call on me, and I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her. With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation.” — Psalm 91:14-16 NLT

    I even did this with the entire Psalm and still personalize it as prayer of protection. This spoke to my heart and gave me comfort. And the more I heard it, the more I believed it.
    So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. — Romans 10:17 NKJV
  3. Speak it back to the Source. When we read a verse and speak it back to God as a statement of truth, again our faith is strengthened and so is our trust. And as I shared on Tuesday about God’s faithfulness, He returns that trust with His faithfulness to His Word and to us.

During a difficult time I spoke back 1 Peter 5:6-7 and 10 to God almost every day.

Vs. 6-7: Lord, I humble myself under Your mighty power, and I know that at the right time, You will me up in honor. So I give you all my worries and cares, because I know You care about me.

Vs. 10: Lord, in Your kindness You called me to share in Your eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. So after I have suffered a little while, You will restore, support and strengthen me, and You will place me on a firm foundation.

Why did I do this? Look at verses eight and nine:

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. — 1 Peter 5:8-9

The enemy was hitting me hard at the time and this was one of many verses God led me too. Then one day while in church during worship, I heard God clearly say, “I am lifting you up today.”

God spoke back His Word to me as I had been speaking it to Him. And He did exactly what He said, my friends. I find myself wanting to do this very type of scriptural prayer more and more, because I love to hear our Great God speak it back. He’s so faithful!

SUM family, I know many of us are feeling down trodden. I am battling new discouragement over my health—I was finally feeling almost back to normal from my shoulder ordeal and now my body is having some kind of allergic reaction that is making life very unpleasant. In the last four months I wasn’t as diligent due to the pain I was in and the enemy took full advantage. Just as 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, but that doesn’t change God’s faithfulness. I am committed to praying these Scriptures and more over myself and my family. And over you, my friends. I often pray over your comments with Scriptures.

Why? Because…

“I trust You, Oh Lord, for You are my God (Psalm 31:14)! And I KNOW Your are working all this out for our good (Romans 8:28)!

Amen? Amen!

Love you!
Dineen

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SUM Books 4


God Keeps His Promises

1Cor1-9My friends, I want to take our theme of standing for Jesus and move to standing on His promises. What does that mean? How do we identify a promise in the Bible? How do we pray and stand upon them, especially when what we see happening in our lives or those we love or in the world around us doesn't agree?

I love God’s promises. I firmly believe and declare regular that they are my shield and protection as it says in Psalm 91. When daughter Leslie was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, I stood on every promise He gave me through that and He was faithful to His Word. God has proven His faithfulness to me mainly through my daughters and my marriage.

But I will also be honest and authentic in saying I feel like this area of my faith has been tested more in the last two years than I ever imagined they could be. Right now I can also honestly say I’m beginning to understand Job and even identify with the poor dude. My family and I are getting slammed in ways I didn’t see coming—my daughter’s and my health, a marriage in our extended family is threatened, and some other unforeseen challenges have emerged. Yet in other ways, God’s blessings have poured out in abundance and remain sure.

I remember walking and praying one day as my mind contemplated God’s miracles, specifically how we see and perceive them as opposed to our spouses. I tend to try to look at things from my husband’s perspective as well in order to understand him better—I’m still trying to figure the guy out!

And in this reflective moment I could honestly see how someone could “reason” away the evidence of God. But quicker than I could finish the thought, God stopped me in my tracks and said, “No, Dineen, everything is birthed in the supernatural first. Never forget that.”

Then He led me to Hebrews 11… 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. — Hebrews 11:1-3

I was quite familiar with verse one, but it was verse three that He wanted me to see that day to bring His point all the way home to my heart. 

Everything starts with the word of God. 

With His Words.

With His promises.

And He’s reminded me of this for the last several days as I contemplate the chaos that seems to be swirling around my immediate and extended family. 

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled. — Romans 15:4

And that’s the key, to read the Bible and ask Holy Spirit to reveal the promises we need for that moment, that day, that situation, or whatever need and challenge we are facing. Or even just the reassurance of His presence, love and protection. Because He knows we need hope and encouragement constantly to walk in faith and STAND on His promises. 

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises… — 2 Peter 1:3-5

Yes, God has given us everything we need, because He gave Himself to us through Jesus. And His Word is full of those great and precious promises. But there is a role we play in this divine exchange, my friends. It’s in that very last line of the Scriptures above, a line that captured my attention just yesterday as I sat with my Bible on my lap, searching for a much needed Word of promise, hope and encouragement.

He reminded me through Peter’s words to make very effort to respond to those promises I searched for so hungrily. There in lies our side of this divine exchange, to receive His Word as truth and stand in belief and agreement with it.

When God says He will never leave or forsake us, He will never leave or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). So when we feel like God is distant, we can claim His promise that He will never abandon us and declare this truth to make the enemy and his lies flee.

When God says He is for us, not against us (Rom. 8:31), then we can trust we have the Creator of the Universe backing us up (Isa. 58:8). All those “things” that seem to be coming against us will actually be turned around and used for our good (Rom. 8:28). 

When we wonder how we can love like Jesus and be His light in the world, we can trust that He had already told us we are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14) and also trust that He is giving us the power and the desire to be that light and do the things that please Him (Phil. 2:13).

And when we run into doubt, we can stand on His very Word that says He is faithful to do what He says, because we have entered into partnership with His Son, Jesus (I Cor. 1:9).

My precious SUM family, I want you to take one promise from the Bible—one you already know and want to stand for, or ask the Holy Spirit to show you one you need right now—and write it on an index card or piece of paper. Then as a prophetic statement, I want you to stand on it and speak that promise out loud over yourself, your family, and/or whoever or whatever it is for. Do this every day for a week, a month, or however long it takes to become your truth. 

Then when your promise is birthed from the supernatural into this earthly realm, come and give your testimony. For we are the SUMites and we stand in faith as uniquely as any church or faith based community as I have ever encountered. And I am so grateful for you, my SUM family. I am standing with you just as I know you are standing with me.

I love you so very much,
Dineen


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Powerful Prayer To Defeat Anger

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com
This photo CRACKS ME UP!

Continued from Friday's post....


BUT…. This is what I learned from that experience.

I believe I was wrestling with a spirit of anger. I believe it was demonic in nature and it erupted in very rare moments as to keep me from recognizing it. And just like a volcano, when eruptions happen…. Devastation.

Later that evening when the eruption cooled and I knew things were in a bad place, I fell on my face and I begged God to forgive me. I asked Him to remove this spirit of anger from me and I promised Him I would never again let this anger be part of my life.

God did just that.

I haven’t felt that weird surge of ferocious anger since. And out of His great love, he healed everything in our family. Everything.

Our Father is so good that He delivers us, heals us even when we screw up everything in our own lives. He loves us through it and is protective.

Now I know not everything turns out like this. I look other areas of past resentment and anger with my spouse, yet my husband remains an unbeliever. God hasn’t move in him…… yet….

But what God did was reveal this area of oppression and He has completely freed me from that beast!

Hallelujah and Amen.

I’m sharing this story with you because I believe that are SUMites who are dealing with an angry spirit. Either it strikes you and/or your spouse. And if there is anger in you or your spouse, your children are vulnerable to become angry as well. Just sayin.

HOWEVER, You can pray to defeat anger.

Pray with me out loud:

In the name of Jesus, today I break any and all agreements I have with anger. I say that anger no longer has a place in my heart, soul, body, mind, will and emotions. I will live in the peace of the Kingdom of God. I declare that anger is hereby banished from my thoughts. No longer does anger have access to my mind. It must leave immediately and go into the pit and cannot return. My home is now a safe zone from the enemy and especially from the spirit of anger.

Also, in the name of Jesus, I declare the spirit of anger in my spouse must leave right now. I stand in authority over it by 1 Corinthians 7:14. My spouse in now protected and anger has no hold on my husband/wife or my children. The spirit of anger must go directly into the pit and never return. In the powerful name of Jesus. And I declare the blood of Christ over me, my spouse, my children and home. AMEN

Pray a version of this prayer every day, out loud for as long as it takes, (days, months, perhaps even a year). Personalize it with names. Pray the scripture verse out loud as well, claiming it’s truth and power over your faith and life.

-----

 

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:30-32

Okay, the next post is about dealing with ongoing annoyance, anger and our perceived unfair treatment. Then we will tackle disappointment and finally the granddaddy of them all... Fear of Man. Can't wait to get to that one.

I love you. Is this prayer helpful? Is this series helpful, let me know your thoughts about dealing with anger in your life in the comments. 

I bless you with Shalom today. In Jesus name. AMEN I love you, Lynn

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Good Grief, Their's More... The Spirit of Anger (2 part-er, must read for anyone dealing with anger)

-Chronicles of the Donovan Clan

AngryOkay, ya… There’s more. 

I’m not sure what classroom I’m currently enrolled within the Kingdom. But I think the sub-title is humility, mixed with a large study of personal revelation, confession and healing. This is a good and can also be extraordinarily challenging learning season for a believer. However, when the instructor is the Holy Spirit and the personal coach is my Jesus and the school is owned by my Papa, I’m going to graduate, Summa cum laude. 

My friends, I am willing to bet there are several of you who are also in this classroom with me, or about to be enrolled or perhaps a few graduates. But, this is what the Lord is teaching me which coincidentally, dovetails with my post about bitterness on Monday.

Recently I was listening to a podcast as the pastor described the three main things he considers to be the greatest hindrances in a Christian’s faith life. These three things are “blocks” to spiritual boldness, to growth, and to walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. These hindrances are significant and binding. They restrict us from the breakthroughs we are seeking and prohibit our journey to step into further areas of faith and experiences with the Lord. They are wicked and highly EFFECTIVE weapons deployed by the demonic realm.

Resentment, disappointment, and fear of man.

Oh Boy. Yep, we are stepping into some stuff here!

So for the next few posts I want to look at these and share what God is teaching me.

I clearly remember the first time I listened to this particular podcast as the pastor mentioned these three enemies of our faith. I was seated on the couch in the family room. It set in motion an inquiry to discern if I am held back because by the "deadly three." I turned off the podcast in mid-stream to Google the exact meaning of resentment. At the time I thought I knew what resentment meant, yet when my Phone reflected this:

Resentment definition

I was hit with each word: bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly.

Why is it the Lord is leading me to the word bitter?

Let me interject here. I honestly have prayed through a very long season, to be free from bitterness. I’ve asked forgiveness and have been intentional to give the Lord any bitterness over various life events, situations, people and circumstances. Ya, this process can take a long time. Anyone???

I looked at this definition and thought to myself, yep. Check. I’ve done this. I’m over bitterness. Then I don’t know how I decided to look up the definition of indignation. But this is what the IPhone said:

Indignatin definition

When this definition popped up on the phone I knew I was -toast. The word anger hit me. But at the time, I thought to myself. Yep, I’ve done that too. I’ve repented of anger. However, the Holy Spirit prompted me a bit more. I sensed the Spirit saying to me, Lynn, is their still anger harbored in your heart over what you have perceived as unfair?

Gulp!

Toast!

I tell you T-O-A-S-T!!  Double exclamation point.

I realized I’m still struggling with some amount of anger. So there are two parts to the anger issue. I want to talk about my anger in the past and how I deal with today. Let’s start with the past.

And if you don’t struggle in this area of your life or marriage over anger, would you please pray for me and all of us who do. Thank you.

I want to be vulnerable again here because I believe many who read this will absolutely be delivered from anger. I need to describe the anger I was battling and the process that freed me.

I am NOT an angry person by nature. In fact, I’m one of the happiest, positive, hopeful people I know (not bragging. I just really am because of Jesus) I deal well with challenges and I handle anger about the world and unfairness through the love of God and through the truth of the Word. However, once in a great while a burst of anger would roar out of me that would fry anyone in its path. It was rare when these outbursts would happen but on occasion this strange, angry person emerged and devastation was left in her wake.

I came to the full realization that although I have repented of anger and am mostly a happy person all the time, I had an anger problem once in a while. This revelation crystallized in a singular and utterly disastrous moment.

Some of you remember my son and wife lived with us for a while in 2014. Well to make a long story short, a disagreement went down between us and I was wronged. I cried about this. I went in my room and paced. I prayed. I mourned. I was devastated, hurt and felt betrayed. And I spent most of the day in my room. And I will tell you that it wasn’t Jesus who was in the room with me. It was the enemy of my soul. And after hours of licking my unfair wounds and letting the demonic have a foot hold in my thoughts and emotions, I emerged and proceeded to give a sound tongue lashing to both of them.

This singular outburst of anger nearly cost my son his marriage. Okay, not entirely but my anger didn’t help their marriage.

Okay, there I said it. Again. Sheesh.

I reacted so filled with anger that not only were my feelings hurt but so were theirs. It took months, they separated and finally by the grace of God, they reunited. My anger wasn’t all that contributed to this mess but it sure was the catalyst to a summer of turmoil. By the grace of God and through hours and hours of prayer, they reunited and today they are really doing great. I have a new grand baby and we are all at peace with one another. Amazing. Thank you Jesus!

BUT…. This is what I learned from that experience.....

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Okay, this post is already long. So on Monday, I'm going to share a POWERFUL PRAYER TO DEFEAT ANGER IN YOU AND/OR YOUR SPOUSE. I love you so much. These posts are part of our healing and deliverance -For such a time as this. 

I pray you are blessed with joy today and anger is defeated. I pray you are blessed with peace and confusion is silenced. I pray you are filled with righteousness and the devil is defeated in every way today in your life. In Jesus name. AMEN

 

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:30-32

I'm a work in progress. You? Love you, Lynn

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We Stand for Jesus

1415366_heart_cross_2A week ago I shared in my post the things I am standing for. I sensed then Holy Spirit might be leading me to share a story that began in 2013 that had to do with the word and command in the Bible, to “stand.” Jesus presented it to me as a question, but its full meaning wouldn’t become clearer until almost a year later. 

Will you stand for Me?

The question came as I worshiped with over a thousand others at a faith based conference.

Will you stand for Me?

So unexpected and suddenly there. Often I would hear something and wonder, “Is that me or is that you, Lord?” This time I knew it was Jesus. 

I went to my knees. Yes, Lord, I will stand for you.

That was at the end of 2013 and before I understood that this question was the beginning of what was to come—a very challenging time that would transform my mind and restore my soul.

Months later I would come to understand that this question was part of His preparation, and a year later, He would show me a connection in His Word that brought all the pieces together.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. — Matthew 16:24 ESV

This verse showed up in my email inbox—twice in one day. I’ve learned to pay heed to such things, so I mined this verse for the nuggets it held. I’ve always wondered about and wanted to understand exactly what Jesus meant by “taking up our cross.” So I looked up the Greek translation of this word, “cross” — stauros

I found the expected definitions: a stake or post, a pole or cross, figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial, etc. But I noticed it had a root word as well, so I followed the trail to yet another word, one I recognized from another verse. Histēmi, which means “to stand.”

My heart quickened and my fingers dashed over my iPad to Ephesians 6—the armor of God:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. — Ephesians 6:11-15 ESV

And there it was. The same word, histēmi. To bear our cross for Jesus meant to stand for Him. That was the cross He’d asked me to carry, to stand for Him through a difficult time He knew had to come but I didn’t. And as I stood (though wobbly and grateful for the prayer warriors holding up my arms), He fought for me. He never left. He never forsook me, never rejected me, never judged me. Just loved me with a relentless passion that would calm, claim and heal my fractured heart.

My friends, Jesus does this for you too. He stands with us as we stand for our spouses, our marriages, our children, our family and for each other. He is our Savior, our Friend, our Advocate, our Healer. He is the source of our strength and joy.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:12 NIV

Lord Jesus, I stand with my SUMite sisters and brothers and ask that You restore the joy of Your salvation to each one and give each of them a willing spirit to sustain them in all areas of their lives. Let their hearts be comforted and filled with Your peace. Thank You, Lord Jesus, our Prince of Peace, amen!

Love you, my friends!
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Reflections on the Apostle Paul and Life

19197771_sHello, my SUM family. I'm writing to you while on the road. An asphalt ribbon stretches before us as my hubby drives us across the United States. The U-haul attached to our trusty VW wagon holds the remainder of our possessions—at least all that we could fit. And in the backseat our 18 year old Mitty kitty rides trustfully with us to his new home. He's a good little beastie.

ImageWe have officially made Florida our home. Our daughters are now on their own adventures, living in different parts of California. As they helped us pack up the rest of our home of 11 years, my heart walked a dance of memories, both good and challenging. Yes, that house saw a lot of challenges and more importantly, a lot of love.

I will say leaving it was harder than I thought, yet in the same breath I was ready to let go. God provided that house for us miraculously (perhaps a story I'll share when we meet in eternity), and our current move and house building is by His hand of provision as well. You see, He is a faithful God who keeps His Word and promises to us.

Which brings me back to Acts and a man named Paul. Last week I wrote about his transformation. That if the man Saul, a Pharisee of high regard who made his life work to stop the believers of Jesus Christ, could be transformed to Paul, a man sold out for Jesus and determined to bring the Good News everywhere, then no one is beyond the life-changing presence of God. His desire is that all would know Him (2 Peter 3:9), and He is relentless in His pursuit of our spouses.

Paul inspires me. I want to stand for Jesus with that same determination and commitment. I'm sure you do too. Paul's continued defense would take him to Rome to present his case before Caesar, but he would endure great peril to get there. In Acts 27 we read of his journey by ship and the impending shipwreck. Once again he stands confident in God to do what He has said He will do. This time the promise is that none would perish on that ship.

So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.” — Acts 27:25-26

Once again, my mind wanders to imagine Paul standing before a frightened crew, making a bold statement he couldn't prove except for his confidence in Jesus Christ. He must have been very convincing because the crew followed his instructions and not a single man died.

As a newbie Christian reading the Bible, I used to think Paul was just arrogant but then with maturity has come the understanding that Paul was confident in God. And as I read Pau's words in Acts 27, I too believe it will be exactly as God said.

Every promise God gives us will be as He says. He is faithful and keeps His word. We may have to endure a shipwreck to reach the full realization of His promise but, my friends, we will endure and live to see the promise of His heart to us. I believe so passionately in this, that we will see our spouses come to faith this year and beyond. 2016 is just the beginning of the harvest promised to us.

I have stood in faith and confidence that my daughter would be healed of a brain tumor and she was. I am standing once again for her health, for the promise from God that she will be as a well watered garden. And thank you for standing with me with your prayers!

I have stood in faith for twenty years now that my husband will be a man of God and will be a mighty force for the Kingdom. And I continue to stand in faith and belief for this promise to me and to each of you. (Read that promise here.)

I have stood in faith and trust that God would direct my path to achieve the purposes He put me here to accomplish. The last two years alone have challenged me greatly in this area, but I will not relent and back down from what God has called me to do. No plan of the enemy can stand against this, me, or my family. Because God said so (Isaiah 54:17).

I believe, my friends, I believe. How about you? What are you standing for? Let's share in the comments and stand in faith in our God and with each other.

As I finish writing this, we've passed through much of the United States and are nearing home. My friends, please know that I love you, I adore you and I am standing with you. Always. SignatureGraphic2

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My Unexpected Christmas

933344_i_love_youHappy (almost) New Year, my dear friends! I feel like I've been on a long trip and haven't seen my family in a long time. And now I've come back home. I've missed you! My shoulder surgery went well, and I've started physical therapy. This whole process has been much more difficult and painful than I anticipated, which has made working at my desk and typing next to impossible. But day by day I'm healing and am able to do more. Please be patient with me as I ease back into writing here and please know how much your prayers and words have helped encourage and sustain me.

What I want to share with you today is about what God did in all this process. The day before my surgery I sat in my quiet time, sad and a bit fearful. Not about my surgery but about Christmas. I was struggling with being apart from my daughters for the first time at Christmas and trying to figure out how to handle it all without diminishing my husband's Christmas by making him think I couldn't enjoy the holiday with just him. I hope that makes sense. 

As I sat there praying, God whispered to my heart, "Give Me Christmas, Dineen."

I realized in that moment that I was still trying to "salvage" Christmas, to cling to what I knew and make it work in spite of the distance between us and our girls, my surgery and recovery, and my daughter's heart issues. I didn't know what God had in mind or what Christmas would look like in His hands, but I said yes. "Take it, Lord. It's all Yours."

After the surgery I was surprised by how little I could do and thankful we'd managed to get our shopping done before hand. I could do little more than sit on the couch with my right shoulder strapped to my Iceman (a icing system). I was so grateful to have my husband's selfless attention to take care of me as well as my mother and mother-in-law who helped as well. Not exactly easy to do for this girl who's so used to taking care of everyone else and herself.

And God worked in and through it all. Smoothed my mama-worries over my girls having a good Christmas—they worked our their own plans to be together and did the same traditions we always did together. We were able to FaceTime (love technology!) on Christmas Eve and open our gifts together.

I was able to be present at the infamous cake baking day the women in my husband's family do each year, even though they didn't let me do much (probably a good thing!). And Christmas with my husband's family was warm and fun. 

It was not at all the Christmas I expected—one I attempted to hold together myself and lived in fear of it falling apart. Instead it was full of love, care and a deeper closeness to my husband that never expected would happen in such circumstances.

My friends, I am the first to admit I like the safe route. I like to know the outcome ahead of time, because it gives me a sense of security. I have a feeling many of you can relate to that as well. 

But God doesn't work that way, does He? He wants to be our security and place of safety so that we rely and trust in Him instead of ourselves, our own abilities and our circumstances. I do find it challenging to live in that place with Him, but I am learning—though quite painfully at times (hee hee)—to let go and trust God.

Here's a verse that I've been pondering this Christmas season and holding close to my heart and limited abilities at the moment.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. — 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)

SUMites, that last part of the verse brings me great reassurance that even when we think we fall short or we haven't quite got things right, our attempts are not in vain. Every single prayer, act of service, word of encouragement, etc. is significant. We may not see the results but they are there none-the-less. God knows. God sees. That's what counts. He knows our hearts no matter what the outcome—or lack of one—may appear to be. He has the full picture and puts the pieces together as only He can.

God called me to let go of what I knew so He could so something new in me. My greatest lesson this Christmas was that it didn't have to be perfect or according to my expectations to be a great Christmas. How about you? What did God show you during this most precious time of the year? I love you, my SUM family. I'm so glad to be back here and look forward to your comments.
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The Power and Blessing of Giving Comfort

ComfortGiversMy friends, today I want to talk to you about an interesting phenomenon I've observed in my own life and in others. It's a very curious thing and is quite the opposite of our "normal" tendency. And I believe it is one of the weapons of spiritual warfare that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians:

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, — 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV)

We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. — 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NLT)

These verses have continued to "show up" repeatedly for me so I've been praying for Abba to show me what these spiritual weapons are. The obvious ones are God's Word, prayer, truth, love, faith and praise. SUMites, I'm sure you can add to this list as well, and please do. And I find that most of these weapons are opposite in value and in instruction to what the world teaches.

Today I have another to add to that list that I believe is probably on the extreme opposite end of what this world values and understands, though I do believe in this season of joy and celebration we catch a glimpse of it more.

This weapon is service. Specifically when we serve others when every "argument" of this world would tell us not to, that we should take care of, fix, minister to our own lives and issues first. Granted, we do need to do these things as well so that we can continue to give and serve as God calls us too, but I'm speaking of the spiritual warfare aspect of this today.

Let me give you a scenario that I think will help clarify. You're mired in confusion and anxiousness over something you really can't change at the moment. It consumes your thoughts at times and leaves you feeling depressed and even in despair at moments of deep contemplation. You know the truth of 1 Peter 5:6 that says to cast your cares on Jesus, but it's just not helping. 

Then you get a call, an email, or a Facebook message from a friend about something that's happened or that she's struggling with. You can relate to her anguish but your first thought is of your own struggle and you feel you have nothing to offer. Or you feel you have to fix yourself and/or your situation before you can help anyone else. 

So, we pull back, withdraw, and continue to focus on our own situation. I know that's our "normal" tendency, and that's the exact reaction and course of action the enemy wants us to take because he knows two things.

1.) We will miss the opportunity to encourage someone.

2.) We will miss the opportunity to be encouraged.

More often than not, God will make you aware of another person's need as an answer to your own prayer for relief, help, strength, etc. 

Think about the times you have felt the most alive and encouraged in your faith? Has it been while you were helping someone else? And while you were doing that, were you focused on your own issues?

My friends, don't let the enemy steal a blessing from you by using the false arguments against you that your needs, problems, or challenges keep you from helping others. Those very challenges and weaknesses in your life will suddenly become your strength as you give comfort and compassion to someone because you understand that need. 

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. — 2 Cor. 1:4

Astonishing things happen when we do this. As we comfort, we are comforted. As we help to give clarity, we receive clarity. As we help another make their mountains fall into the sea, our own mountains begin to tumble and fall too.

It is so contrary to what the world says, isn't it? The world says to take of yourself. God says, "Seek my kingdom first and you will receive all you need." (My translation.) My observations of others and my own behavior has show me that self-seeking leads to depression, yet selfless living with a heart for others brings such joy and excitement!

What do you think, SUM family? Share your thoughts in the comments. And even better, share your stories that come to mind as you think about this. I know you have some good ones. Our family here is full of the most giving and loving people I have ever had to privilege to meet and know. You show Jesus by your love for each other each and every day!

This week I'm in New York with my mother and a dear friend to see the city at Christmas. My mother was born and raised in Manhattan and has always wanted to show her daughter (me!) what the city looks like at Christmas. God has blessed us with the provision so that we can finally do this. So I will be back next week, dear friends, hopefully with some amazing Christmas stories from New York!

Love you!
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This Challenging Culture

NotAloneStudyImageHello, SUMite family! Lynn and I decided we should wrap our study up this week, because we have other things we want to move onto next week. Thus we will conclude our Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture on Friday with Lynn’s post about Legacy Kids. I’m sure it will be amazing too! 

My last chapter, “Challenging Kids,” that I wrote for Not Alone is one of my favorites. I share more of the story of my daughter’s recovery from cancer and two other stories from SUM moms who dealt with challenging questions and situations. I’ve been praying over what to bring out of this chapter and relate it to equipping our children and the Holy Spirit light bulb went on.

Moms and Dads, here’s where your children’s questions may become part of the challenges in your mismatched home. Your sons and daughters most likely will come home with questions about the new things they’re learning that will open up some controversy for you right in your own home if you and your spouse don’t agree on these issues. 

How do we navigate this? How do we keep biblical values in place when the school is teaching the opposite and your spouse agrees with it? How do we continue to stand in faith in our challenging culture.

My friends, we keep doing what we have been doing—trusting God. Yes, the challenges and “playing fields” may seem a little bigger, a little broader, a little more intimidating at times, but none of this is beyond God’s ability or reach. In fact, I believe He is standing ready to move with us, but He wants us to move in agreement and alignment with what He sees even when we can’t see it. 

The perfect example of this came as I’ve been reading the book of Joshua this week for very specific reasons, and one of them I believe was intended for this post, for this exact moment in our time and place as a unique community of faith in today’s culture. 

Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.” — Joshua 6:1-7

Scripture paints a clear picture for us here that Jericho was a fortified city—the first walled city the Israelites had encountered. And we’re talking about some heavy duty walls here too. This is what Joshua saw, but I believe that when God told Joshua to see, He was opening the man’s eyes to perceive God’s perspective, that the city was already conquered by His hand. It was done and finished.

My friends, let’s not look at the world today and see what the world sees. Let’s look at our schools, our workplaces, the places we shop, and every person we encounter with the eyes of God. Because just as the Israelites carried the ark of the covenant with them, which was the presence of God, we carry His presence with us every where we go. 

Let’s carry Him into this world and bring His presence with us every where. Let’s march our prayers around these places and bring God into the picture. Sometimes God will even call us to literally do this and sometimes it won’t make much sense. He told me years ago to march in prayer around my husband, more recently to march in prayer around a nearby park in San Jose for nearly two years, and now He has me doing this at another park where I live now. I can’t tell you why, but I know He’s laying down the groundwork and foundation for whatever is next. He wants to bring down the walls of hopelessness, unbelief, despair, pain, sickness, depression, oppression and even opposition.

SUMites, Scripture tells us over and over to pray for wisdom and knowledge. We can ask God to prepare this way for us and give us eyes to see, ears to hear and words to speak. Trust Him to be there with you when your child comes home with questions that call you to stand in faith and give the reason why you believe what you believe. And if that could potentially create conflict with your pre-believer, ask the Holy Spirit to intervene now, to soften hearts, to give you wisdom and peace about how to navigate it. You both have equal place in your child’s life to teach and influence them. Trust God to make His truth stand out more than what our contrary culture is saying.

Nothing this world reveals surprises God and none of it is beyond His power to change. We are His hands and feet to bring His truth and healing to a hurting and damaged world. And we are empowered and equipped with His presence, His power, His grace and His mercy. Nothing is impossible WITH Him. Let’s live it like we believe it, SUMites. With Him, we CAN!

Question: SUMites, what is your greatest concern for your children right now? 

Prayer: Lord, fill every SUMite with more wisdom and knowledge of You. Inspire them with words, creativity and strategies of how to pray and navigate these upcoming challenges WITHOUT ANY fear or anxiety. I pray that they would rise up every morning, convinced and strengthened by the truth of Jesus Christ, that He is with us and will not fail us. I pray that You would fill their minds and hearts with a vision of what You are doing around them and are calling them to partner with You to accomplish. Lord, I pray that Your peace would fill every SUMite home and an impenetrable wall of Your angle armies would surround and protect them. Lord, all things are possible with You! Give us eyes to see, ears to hear and words to speak wherever we go. In the name of Jesus, amen!

I believe in you, SUMites!
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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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Persecution - The Books Of Peter - Will The Church Go Underground?

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSo…… Ahem, ya. (long sigh)

I planned on writing about suffering. So this week I experienced persecution, first-hand. Sheesh! Why does that always happen?

Peter shares a few common themes through his two books. Today we are going to look at suffering. Specifically let’s read:

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. —1 Peter 4:14

Most of the passages within Peter’s books focus on suffering for our faith. Persecution.

Stay tuned as we will discuss suffering and physical healing next. But today, I believe we should focus on the suffering we endure because of our faith.

It’s obvious when reading through the books of Peter that he was a persecuted man. His feelings and his charge to the churches for endurance are evident. I personally believe that persecution is the only suffering that God truly expects us to experience.

For our SUMite Nation, persecution is very real. We endure a rare and difficult persecution because we face ridicule, shaming, hatred and discord within our home. We also endure persecution in the public realm.

For me, I am equipped to handle the words that come at me from the public realm, well at least, most of the time. When an ugly email arrives or people criticize me for my faith, call me "over the top", a zealot, crazy. I’m really okay. Some of these words have been uttered by close friends and even close relatives. Sometimes it hurts. I take those hurts and their lack of understanding to the feet of Jesus. He always centers me in truth and love. Therefore, I can walk forward, certain of my identity and my purpose and forgive their ridicule.

But it’s different when your faith is mocked and you are insulted or shamed by a loved one with whom you live. That happened to me with week. Ugh!!! It’s pain and it’s hard. I cried. You cry. I get it.

But even through the pain I know I’m blessed. I remain alert and of sober mind. As the enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour me. But I RESIST HIM. I STAND FIRM IN FAITH (truth). And I also know that the God of all grace who called me to his eternal glory in Christ, after I have suffered a little while, will restore me, personally and make me strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:8-10 my paraphrase)

My friends, I believe that persecution is only going to ramp up. Today, believers are unable to be honest about their beliefs in the public realm about many issues which are clear in scripture, gay marriage comes to mind, without being called out as haters. I’m not a hater. I have gay friends and I grieve that they haven’t found their identity in Jesus yet. I grieve that this particular subject brings great grief and discord into our marriages, between our children, and between close family members.

This is where persecution “gets real.” We aren’t afforded the peace and protection that other Jesus followers have within an “all-believer” home. We remain on the front lines of the battle every day, every news broadcast, every image of Bruce Jenner, every article where a bakery is shuttered because the owners hold fast to their convictions. These moments are real flash points in our homes.

Truly, we live in confusing times. The challenges to our faith are growing. It’s difficult to walk this path of righteousness. But, we walk with the King! This current tide of public opinion didn’t take Him by surprise. He isn’t up in heaven nervously tapping His fingers, pondering, O, what should we do? He is brilliant, kind, loving, filled with mercy, and unending love. He will walk us through all of this and He stands as our defender and He will bring us through the fire with a supernatural love that overcomes words of hate, misunderstanding, fear and demonic deception.

This one thing I know, 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials…..

So, my friend, I will cry with you when the words spoken by a loved one cuts through your heart. I will sigh as I watch the path toward the gates of hell grow ever wider. I will pray with never-failing energy, conviction and passion for you, your spouse, your children, our world. I pray and I pray. I trust and I believe. I stand firm and know that I know, in my knower, God is good. He is faithful to rescue, restore, and heal. Our God is able! Peace and love define Him!

And remember, if you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. How amazing is that? 

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Disparaging Disappointment, Part 2

14511569_sSo glad you're back, my friends. The end of this series is so near and dear to my heart, because it's written with a deep love and desire for you to live in the fullness of Jesus and all He has for us. I believe we will see great tremendous breakthroughs individually and as a community in 2015 and I don't want you to miss any of it. I don't want to miss any of it either!

Now for the final part of this series. Scroll down to part one if you need to catch up. The links for the previous parts are there as well.

As I shared in part one, this journey was so unexpected for me. I had to face some dark places in my heart and mind and allow the Holy Spirit to peel back layers of lies and pain so that He could bring the healing Jesus wanted me to have. And as I faced the additional challenge of being patient in the process, the Holy Spirit gave me this prayer:

Lord, help me to be patient so I can focus on what you're doing right now instead of what You haven't done yet.

And just this week I found this nugget in Romans:

But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.— Romans 8:25 NLT

God's process will entail whatever is necessary to stop the enemy's ultimate plan to destroy our faith by stealing the one thing that he can never attain—hope.

Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God! —Psalms 42:11 NLT

In a dark moment of despair, David recognized his disappointment and saw that his hope needed to be placed again in God. And with it came his decision to praise and thank God, no matter what the circumstances around him looked like. Sadly, by destroying our hope, the enemy keeps us from being the aroma of Christ to our prebelievers.

Dear friends, we have powerful tools to fight the three Deadly Ds of doubt, disbelief and disappointment and they are:

  • God's Word
  • A thankful heart
  • Praise and worship

These are also keys to kingdom living, to the abundant life, to sustaining our hope, joy and peace.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!” — Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT

No matter what, choose every day to read God's Word, to thank Him for everything (even the bad stuff—for the good He Will bring out of it) and praise Him for what He has done, is doing and will do in your life. Jesus will meet your needs in astounding ways as you do this, because you're diving deeper in intimacy with Him.

And when your mind begins to race again with all the doubts, disbelief and disappointment, return to this place of rest and wait patiently for Him to act (Psalm 37:7). You will find yourself entering this place more frequently and easily until one day you will realize that not only have you persevered, you are now stronger than you have every been. You have defeated the enemy. You have moved to a whole new level of faith. God's anointings and gifts for you are growing stronger. You find yourself in situations (divine appointments) to now bring all that you have learned to others.

Just as I am doing right here, my friends, sharing all this with you. For that I give Abba Father, Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit all the praise and glory! As this community prays and waits for our prebelievers to come to faith, my heart and prayer for you, SUMites, is the same as Paul's was for the Philippians:

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

— Philippians 1:3-11 NLT

With deepest love and admiration for you in Jesus,
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Disparaging Disappointment

14511569_sMy friends, we’re at the last Deadly D in this series, Disparaging Disappointment. God is so faithful—He answered your prayers for Words with reminders and a special email from one of you (Thanks, Jim!). I truly thought I'd lack words for the last two parts of this series, but quite the opposite has proved true! So many words came that I will breaking this one into two parts, so be sure to come back for part two on Saturday.

In Dubious Doubt, Part One, I talked about how the enemy tries to steal our faith with his fiery darts of doubt, and in Part Two I shared some personal breakthroughs in this area (and even more came after that! God is good!). Then on Wednesday I covered Debilitating Disbelief and shared how the enemy tried to destroy my faith with a spirit of torment and gave you some tools to fight back. Now let’s talk about Disparaging Disappointment.

First, let me say that this journey was so unexpected for me. I thought I was solid in my faith but Abba used this dark night of the soul and year of intimacy to dredge up lies and expose some sandy areas in my foundation. And He has gently and faithfully restored and rebuilt my faith that is now based completely upon Him, not me. In other words, I no longer rely upon my ability to believe Him but now trust God, His Word, His promises and His truth—all this is the foundation of my faith. Not my feelings, not my interpretation and not by my strength (Zech. 4:6).

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. — Hebrews 12:2-3

Back to disappointment. Once doubt and disbelief have squatted illegally in our soul, disappointment enters in and taints the atmosphere. We aren’t believing God’s promises and sadly, we’ve lost our trust in Him along the way too. This is the place where we are faced with a pivotal choice—press in and cling to Jesus for the very life and breath of our spirit, regardless of what our soul, mind and heart are telling us. Or walk away, believing that God doesn’t care enough to move in our lives and nothing will change. 

You can imagine where the enemy is in this process—he’s on the sidelines disparaging (belittle, denigrate, deprecate, trivialize, make light of, undervalue, underrate, play down; ridicule, deride, mock, scorn, scoff at, sneer at; run down, defame, discredit, speak badly of, cast aspersions on, impugn, vilify, traduce, criticize, slur) Father God, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

This is truly the place we must die to ourselves (let go of everything, even our pain) and take a true leap of faith into the arms of Jesus. And trust me, He will catch you. This is the place where God asked me one day, "Will you trust Me with your pain?" 

For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.

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. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. —Hebrews 4:10-13 NLT

A few months back I shared a series on transforming the mind that started out as the battlefield of the mind. And this is truly where the battle is, in our minds. And the enemy will use this against us. That is why it is so crucial, imperative and life saving to study and know God's Word. Without it, our lives are vulnerable to the enemy's tactics. 

Disappointment keeps us from believing and waiting expectantly for God to act (Psalm 37:7).

My friends, let me reassure you that if you are in this place, you are not alone, even if you feel like you are. The most astounding thing I learned through this journey was that I could do nothing to "fix it." God had a plan and purpose in it all along and the only thing He wanted me to do was to submit, rest in Him and trust Him to do what needed to be done.

On Saturday I will share the flip side to this place of disappointment and specific keys that restore our faith and hope. If you are in this place of disappoointment, I do hope you'll leave a comment and share your heart as much as you can. This is a place of encouragement and prayer. I have been astounded over and over again by the love and care shown here.

Until Saturday, dear friends, my heart and prayers are with you. 
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The Ugly Word for 2014

Hi SUMers!  So, ahem, yep..... Authentic post and a challenge for the New Year. Yes, you read that right...The New Year. 

I PRAY you are set on a new path in the next few weeks…. Join me on Mondays and Fridays until Yom Kippur for we are on the edge of our seat, waiting for the King to set things in motion… 

Let’s get started, 

Habakkuk 1 5Many of you participated in our annual week of fasting as we kicked off 2014. If you are new to our community, you are in for a profound experience in January as we fast together and listen to the Lord’s voice. You will be amazed. 

Anyhoo, I know at the beginning of the year many of you, ask God for a word, a single word, for the year during this time of prayer and fasting (Dineen always receives a word for her year).

Well, I will be upfront about this asking for a “word” business. I usually don’t ask. 

My thinking; why limit what God has to say for my life to one word?? However, this past January I kinda asked God during my prayer time for a word. I just wanted to see if I would get one… Is that wrong to share? Sounds funny…. But…. 

I prayed, “God if you have a word for my year ahead, what is it?” 

Well guess what? Yep, indeedy, He answered, “Refinement.” 

Can I just say as I sit here in September….. “Man, what a bummer word!” 

And I will tell you this. Indeed it has been a year full of refinement. And this refinement of my character, thoughts, pre-conceived ideas, judgments, friendships, expectations, and pride…. Actually began last fall…. And it’s been a grueling, LONG, year. 

I experienced life-changing grief, nearly lost one of my closest friends, my son divorced while living in my home, and there were a number of other enormous mountains I faced. I haven’t cried this much in a single year since I can't remember. Sheesh! And what is interesting is that I've discovered that I'm not alone in this year of suffering. Many believers, including most of our SUM community have experienced one of the most difficult years in their faith walk as well. Makes me ponder, What is going on in the spiritual realm? 

I assure you that I will not be asking for a word again at the beginning of the year. I would rather not know. 

You are probably wondering why I’m talking about the New Year in September, right? 

Well next Friday at sundown, September 25, 2014 is Rosh Hashanah. It’s the New Year according to God’s calendar (Jewish New Year). And I’ve been particularly interested to learn that many Jewish people and some evangelicals consider this a time when every person appears before God. 

From Wikipedia: In Jewish liturgy, Rosh Hashanah leads to Yom Kippur, which is described as "the day of judgment" (Yom ha-Din) and "the day of remembrance" (Yom ha-Zikkaron). Some midrashic descriptions depict God as sitting upon a throne, while books containing the deeds of all humanity are opened for review, and each person passes in front of Him for evaluation of his or her deeds

Okay, now I don’t know about all of this because it isn’t in His Word. But I am intrigued to think that God looks upon His children at the beginning of the year and perhaps He decrees new adventures, more depth in our relationship with Him and others, growth, discovering our destiny and ministries. So, I’m praying with passion at this time in my life that Rosh Hashanah 2014 is the close of a year of refinement. I’m praying that every hardship, trial, struggle and the many tears will be redeemed in the year ahead. 

I’ve learned so much from this year of wrestling. I’ve learned to let go of offense. I know, that I know, that I know —God will be my Holy Justice. In valleys of loneliness, He is all that I need. I’ve let go of judgment and comparison. When I’m accused falsely, He will be my fortress. And that no matter how messed up relationships can get; God is in the business of restoration. 

I’ve watched God undo me and humble me, turn me around and then restore relationships that have been badly broken for years and years. He has healed hurts I have born my entire adult life and restored me to many. He has grieved my heart over broken relationships, then commanded me to see restoration and reconciliation and furthermore to pray for people who hurt me or whom I’ve hurt. Gulp! It’s been tough. But, I’m truly thankful for walking this valley. 

I will likely share some of these stories in the few posts ahead as we come closer to the “New Year.” You will be astounded. I am! 

So as the year 5,774 draws to a close, I’m trusting God that His year of refinement is accomplished and that my heart was refined through the fire.

So as we approach Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, I want to share what I believe He is whispering to His children about our future. Stay tuned...

We, the Body of Christ, are living in the best time in the history of the world.  

It's great to be alive!

My friends, are you ready for this year to be over? Do you want a peek at what I hear God telling me is ahead for those who love Him? Stay tuned and remove your shoes for we are about to tread on Holy Ground.

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A Word of Encouragement

Hey there, SUM Family! I'm doing something a little different today. I pray this blesses and encourages you.

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