42 posts categorized "Friendship With God"

Is this all there is?

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I was in the office early. First to arrive, every morning. I was the one who turned the lights on (and often the one who turned them off each night). Large triple shot coffee in my hand as I scanned overnight emails and my always too large work-in-progress folder.

Another restructure was in the wings and I knew with a new MD having recently arrived putting the heat on the sales team, of which, I was one of its leaders, we were to come under close scrutiny. Changes were inevitable and I knew my role, the jack-of-all-trades role that it was, would be closely scrutinised.

I wasn’t too concerned. In fact, I was ready for a change. 

But to what?

I’d never aspired to be a CEO, unlike my twin brother, but from early in my corporate career I had expected I would end up in one of the senior roles reporting to the CEO. Yes, I managed it once, in the Virgin business I co-founded but the desire for such an executive role had diminished. However, given the right company and right boss I’m sure I’d happily jump into one. There just wasn’t that burning desire to do it. 

And for the umpteenth time in recent months I find myself staring into an abyss.

My heart yearned for something more. But no longer was it for the big corporate gig.

But for what?

So I started talking to God about it on our daily commutes. My dissatisfaction with my career was troubling me but I soon began to realise it was more than that. I was frustrated with my relationship with God. Surely there was more?

It didn’t take long before I got my answer. It was blunt and too the point.

“But, you don’t know me, Ian.”

No, I didn’t hear it verbally but in my heart.

So I asked Him how I could know Him.

Once again the response was short and very clear.

“Read my Word.”

Those words jumped into my heart. Sure there was a sense of guilt but mostly relief. That was the answer. I was excited to get started.

Of course He was right. How can you love somebody if you don’t really know them? 

“You can believe in God and still miss life with Him. You can know about God and still live as an Orphan.” Allen Arnold

So I dived into the Word. New Year’s Day 2009 I committed to read the Bible everyday. I’m pleased to say that in the years since I started there have only a handful of days when I haven’t read the Word. That’s probably the one and only New Year’s resolution I’ve made and stuck to.

Meeting Jesus in His Word

I relished reading the Word, discovering so many new aspects of God’s character and finally truly getting acquainted with my Savior. I grew up attending a traditional Church of England church and loved how we used the Green Prayer Book each Sunday and sang old hymns. But I really only met God, the Father.

And my first impressions of Him were greatly impacted by my relationship with my dad. This is common. So I was often fearful (not in a reverent way) and felt He was more the disciplinarian.

Yes, I knew of Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the trinity was just too much of a mystery for me to spend any time reflecting upon.

It’s only been in these last ten or so years where I’ve come to ‘meet’ and get to know the other two members of the trinity: the Son and the Spirit. My first impressions of Jesus were He was a super hero of sorts. He was more God than human. So He had an advantage over the rest of us because He could always play the God-card.

How wrong was I?

Yes, I’d read the gospels (and most of the rest of the New Testament) many times over the years, had it preached and talked about but still I lived in this deception.

“We need to hear the Gospel everyday because we forget it everyday.” Martin Luther

I love the fact that no matter how many times I’ve read a passage I discover something new each time. That’s why the Word is a supernatural book.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:1-2, 14a NIV)

Jesus is the Word. The Word is living and breathing. It was only in studying Him, His Word, did I begin to discover who Jesus really was. And that He wasn’t a super hero of sorts.

Falling in Love with Jesus

“... but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]” (Philippians 2:7 AMP)

Jesus became completely human. He was fully man. And fully God. But each nature, ie, His humanity and His divinity, remain distinct. All part of the mystery of Jesus.

It’s been in discovering the humanity of Jesus that I’ve discovered His divinity. A contradiction? Maybe. But in realising He completely understands me and even with all my shortcomings loves me like mad. Accordingly, I’ve become more accepting of myself, developed greater confidence in who I am and my anxiety has gradually diminished. As Thomas Merton says: “If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.”

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3 NIV)

I’ve always loved this verse but I never really appreciated it’s meaning. Until I spent time meditating on and repeating it day after day after day did it dawn me that we can only experience what we were made to be until we fall madly in love with Him.

As Dallas Willard states we are called to a love affair with our Creator. 

I want the love affair. The whole kit and caboodle. With Jesus.

Grace and peace, dear friends.

*****

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Lenten Reflections: Holy Week - Hope in His Divinity and Humanness

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Aren’t you loving Lynn’s Holy Week reflections? I feel a little like an interloper with my post this week but as I sought the Lord on what to post I kept coming back to: HOPE.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” (John 11:25)

Death is not the end. The story is not over on Good Friday. Jesus defeats death and is resurrected on Easter Sunday and in so doing gives us the opportunity to have relationship with the Father. Not just now but forever.

We have an eternal hope.

Desire for Connection

I’d never really considered the significant number of intimate moments that occur during this week that is often called “Passion Week”. I was drawn to them by a couple of posts I read. Let’s look at some of them:

1. Jesus washed the disciples feet (John 13:5) – what a moment this must have been. “Surely the room was filled with a holy silence as pure and sweet as Mary’s perfume.”1

Yes, the One who created these twelve men now performs an act usually performed by a slave. Of course there are strong spiritual messages here about being cleansed to be made righteous and the importance of service but for a moment reflect on the intimacy of the scene.

2. Sharing the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-30) – I love participating in communion. There’s something intimate in the ceremony. Picture yourself in the group of twelve as Jesus breaks the bread and passes you a piece and then the cup having wiped it clean before he pours some of the [real] wine in your mouth. He looks into your eyes as He says ever so tenderly: “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for the remission of sins.”

More silence. And contemplation.

3. The Garden (Matthew 26:36-38) – three accompanied Him: Peter, James and John. All three have only moments declared they would not leave Jesus (as did the other eight), no matter what happens. Jesus is troubled. No wonder. It’s almost time. He asks them to be with Him in His troubled state.

“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” (v38)

He desired and needed companionship. To know His best mates were close. I expect it gave Him strength and some degree of comfort.

4. Addressing Mary at the Tomb (John 20:11-16) – Mary returns to the tomb for a second time. She is beside herself as Jesus is gone!

After an initial interaction with a man whom she presumed to be the gardener, she’s increasingly angry thinking this man had taken Him. He sees her anguish:

“’Mary!’” (v16)

What a moment. It’s like a soothing salve that calms her heart and dries her tears all with the one word: her name.

“She turned toward Him, ‘Rabboni!’”

The scales fell from her eyes, clarity came to her mind. It was Him. Her Jesus.

Hope

As we journey these last few days of Lent reflect on the hope we have in having an eternal relationship with Jesus and the opportunity for a tender, intimate walk with Him right now.

I hope you can take a little time out to simply sit in His Presence. Close the door on your world for a few minutes if that’s all you can get and linger with Him. Sit down in the tall grass beside the still waters with the lover of your soul.

Enjoy His tenderness, His soothing voice and the peace that passes all understanding.

Happy Easter, dear friends and thank you for walking through Lent with me.

Grace and peace,

Notes: 1. “The Women of Easter,” Liz Curtis Higgs, Waterbrook Publishing, 2017, p100

*****

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LIVE Web Classes were a BLAST!

Lynn&Dineen

SUMites, Lynn and I had a blast with you during our LIVE Web Classes! A BLAST! Wow, does an hour go fast or what? We so enjoyed being able to pray over you, bless you and teach about hearing God's voice for yourself. And telling you stories...and the Q&A session—getting to hear you—hear your hearts—was huge. Thank you, SUMites, for spending that hour with us—two ordinary women who love to go on adventures with God. And you're part of the adventure too!

If you weren't able to attend, we plan to do more! More opportunities to participate are coming. In the comments (whether you were able to attend or not) please leave suggestions of topics you’d like to see covered so we can plan and schedule future sessions.

If you attended one of the classes today, please share in the comments which session you attended, what you learned and what you took away that helped you most. We are excited to hear your input and comments. And what you share could very well be what will minister to someone reading and in need. We see that happen all the time in this beautiful community.

We love you so much, SUMites! Thank you again for making us a part of your lives.
~Dineen & Lynn

 

*****

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What's the Lord talking to you about?

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Lent is over. Easter has come and gone. I had mixed emotions last week after Easter Sunday. Part of me sighed as I enjoyed the cessation from fasting and commitment to serious devotional reading and meditation. But there was also a big part of me that didn’t want it to end because something happened during those six weeks.

A yearning.

I loved my days of courting. Oops, what an old-fashioned word. Yes, I’m showing my age. Remember those days when you’re first getting to know someone of the opposite sex and everything is exciting? And I’m not talking about the physical stuff. Your heart beating a little (or a lot) faster when you caught a glimpse of the one who’s captured all your thinking time these past few days/weeks. Remember those days?

These past six weeks reminded me a little of courting. Only the person who’d captured my imagination was Jesus. Well, not just Him but also the Father and the Holy Spirit.

And just like our old courting days I don’t want this to stop. I want more of Him. Of each of them.

What changed?

Strangely, it was discipline. A greater intentionality to spend quality time with the Lord. In quiet. Listening to God. (remember Dineen’s excellent posts on hearing from God?) Praying more focused and specific prayers and speaking Scripture over myself. I really can’t stress how much praying and speaking God’s Word has enhanced my dialogue with the Lord.

When I felt a nudge from the Spirit I acted. It may have been to pray for someone or to do something. Little steps of obedience matter.

The conversation has resumed

It’s funny how we build up these seasons of celebration: Easter and Advent. When everything we acknowledge, celebrate and worship in those seasons we probably should do everyday.

We all know we needed that first Easter to take place all those years ago so we could have fellowship with God. The conversation that He longed to have with us had ceased until Jesus appeared, lived, died and was resurrected. Now we can continue that conversation.

As I was preparing some material for a men’s group I meet with, I was struck by the question, “What is He talking to me about?”

Ummm …?

Soon after a friend, also in the group, suggested I lead the group to reflect on Philippians 3:10. Bill specifically sent through the Amplified version (the extended mix version). Read it through slowly.

“And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did];”

And then I had the answer to that question.

God wants me to want to know Him more than anything else. Anything. My health, my vocation, the salvation of my wife. Anything.

Then check out what Jesus prays the night before His death. He’s praying this for us.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23 NIV)

We may be one with Jesus … and the Father … and the Holy Spirit.

And because Jesus died and rose from the dead we can experience this oneness.

“Oneness with God is the goal of our existence.” – John Eldredge.

That’s what I want!

What’s the Lord been speaking to you about recently? What’s stirring in your heart at the moment that you think the Lord might have initiated? We’d love to read some of your thoughts in the comments.

*****

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How do you "hear God? (part 2)

IStock_000014889792XSmallWhen I opened my email early this morning, one of the first headlines I read was an article on Spirit Led Woman, entitled "Why You May Not Recognize God Speaking to You." I had to smile—one, because here we are talking about the very same,-much needed subject, and two, because I recognized God speaking to me indirectly at that very moment in what I like to call "a confirmation."

How so? Here's the path to this recognition:

  1. I always pray and ask Holy Spirit to tell me what I need to write about for our blog based upon what YOU, our readers need. His leading reminded me of this exercise He'd led me to just weeks earlier, which started with a Scriptural instruction from the Bible.
  2. Yesterday Lynn and I discussed the need for more teaching on this subject and decided that in May we would make this one of the topics we will cover in four one hour online teaching seminars we've already had in the works. (More information and sign-up details to come so stay tuned! We are so excited about launching this!)
  3. Then I see this article on Spirit Led Woman. Thank You, Lord, for Your leading!

By experience, I've learned to recognize this kind of confirmation as following God's lead for the universal church. Last year, His leading was focused on knowing His love. This year seems to be starting off with a clear message about knowing His voice. The Holy Spirit, Who connects us all is communicating the Father's heart in a broad spectrum for His children to hear.

And this is just one way of communication. Over the last few weeks God has used the following ways to communicate with me:

•His still small voice

•Scripture

•The counsel of a trusted friend

•Several devotionals 

•Ian's post about Lent

•Your comments on our blog

•A song on K-LOVE (a single line carried the same message I felt God impress upon my heart that morning.

•Waking up with a particular song repeating in my mind (this usually tells me what God wants me to focus on that day)

•A dream in answer to a prayer for specific wisdom and insight

•A prophetic word confirmed by the "coming soon" sign in the front yard of my CA house.

And there are even more that I could draw upon from past events and experiences. In the Bible you will see God communicating through dreams, visions, animals, rainbows, people, and more. Very often these come in combinations. For example, I will sense God's heart in my morning quiet time, telling me something specific. Then I will get a devotional or an email from a friend on that very same topic. Then on Sunday, my pastor will speak on the very same subject.

Sometimes it can be very clear to us, like a friend reaching out saying God put us on their heart and they just want us to know they're praying for us. What they don't know is that very morning we cried out to God for help because something in our life has just fallen apart. Can you relate?

Or you sense God leading you in a direction to do something that is way out of your comfort zone. Then suddenly the training, the invitation, or the steps to move forward are presented to you in an undeniable way that you know deep in your spirit that is the next step.

Lynn has shared how Mylar balloons have shown up for her and even her husband with a word so specific you just can't miss it! Tiffany shared on my Tuesday post about fortune cookie messages, which I've experienced too. (God has confirmed every one of our major moves with a cookie message. I just giggle and enjoy God’s ways.)

God has even used feathers for many of us. Sometimes these can push the boundaries of what we are comfortable with, but nothing is off limits for God to use. However, it is up to us to test what we hear and discern against the truth of God’s Word, to prayerfully consider and ask God for confirmation if we’re unsure, and to discern the source (spirit) of the word as Scripture tells us (1 John 4:1). 

The most important key to hearing God's voice, my friends, is your relationship with Him. Our intimacy with God is what opens our eyes, ears, heart and spirit to discerning, hearing and recognizing when He is speaking to us. Thus the more we seek to know Him and spend time with Him, the more you will hear Him and recognize when He is speaking because of the past experiences you are building upon.

Our daily time with Him isn't about fulfilling a duty. It's about building a relationship with our Father God, our best friend Jesus, our comforter Holy Spirit so that we KNOW Him, recognize His presence and voice, and can follow and receive from Him. 

We won't get this perfect every time. It's a trial and error learning process for sure. And thus why I so diligently (and vocally) express the importance of journaling. But it is worth the effort, my dear friends. At one dark point in this shoulder recovery the Holy Spirit told me to reread my journal. I did and was reminded of all the things God had spoken to me recently and was greatly encouraged.

I hope you’ll share in the comments how God has been speaking to you these last two days AND continue to keep a log for a couple of weeks—I have a feeling Abba is going to give you some very special words and confirmations that will increase your faith to hear more. 

Next week I will share a couple stories of how God used imagery to show me very specific details for a person I was praying for. Trust me, this blew my mind completely, yet the facts were undeniable…

And now, SUMites, let’s pray. Father God, we are Your SUMites and we stand humbly before You with a burning hunger and desire to hear and see You more. Lord, You created us to be in an intimate relationship with You, to walk in friendship with You as Abraham did. You created our senses to perceive not just the natural but the supernatural as well. Give us eyes and ears to see and hear You. Increase our faith, Lord, to hear and recognize Your holy voice, presence and intervention more and more. We love You, Lord Jesus! Thank You for sitting at the right hand of the Father and interceding for us every moment. We are so grateful. Lift our hearts, minds, and spirit to the heavenly realms so we are focused on You. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, my friends. So much. Praying for you!
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*****

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Conference At Merriman in Garden City, MI

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

 

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

 

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

SUMite Pillars
Gillian, Teresa, Melissa, Heidi, Joanne

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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From Jen:

Lynn,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forever indebted and much love, Jen

*****

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God Shows Up

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image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was glory!

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

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

His love is gently sweet that way.

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

SO ARE YOU!

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

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

My Beloved,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

SUM Books 4


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Remember my chains.”

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

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

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

In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

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

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

Community Questions (answer in the comments):

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

I love you, SUMites! I’m praying for you and celebrating with you, for all that God has for you. Next week, I want to share with you three keys to walking in the fullness of faith and victory. The Holy Spirit has started a new dialogue about these. I’m listening to hear more and look forward to sharing them with you. Have an amazing weekend!
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SUM Books 4


What Gods Love Looks Like

SUMite Family, 

Taste and see psalm 34 8I have to share that the word “family” has taken on an entirely larger implication in my life this past week. So, to say that you are my family, please know that I’m overwhelmed with authentic love and hope for you. Let me explain. 

I’m working on a new writing project and praise Jesus, the downloads are now flowing. It’s been astonishing. I’ve waited nearly a year for this past week and the few weeks that are ahead to hear the voice of God and His heart for the assignment He’s given to me. And this week in particular, I’m writing about the love of God. 

The love of a Father. 

Well, I don’t know how in the world you can encapsulate the love of God into a single chapter. However, I’ve asked the Holy Spirit to write this out because God will figure it out for me and then, I can’t wait to read it myself!!!! *grin* Really! 

So as I’m trying to figure out what specific attributes to share and asking myself, How do I explain the love of God, the Lord decided that I need to experience His love through profound experiences all week. I am so full of the love of our Father today that when I arrived at church, I hugged everyone I could get my hands on. The Father’s love poured off of me onto people. I just couldn’t help it. And wouldn’t you know it; almost all of the worship were songs about the love of God. I just can hardly stand up under the relentless expressions of my Daddy’s love this day. 

Today I feel I am to share what I’m experiencing and learning. I pray you are wrecked by our Daddy’s love this week too. 

Last week as I prepared to write on this topic my prayer and conversation with God turned into cries to experience His love. I cried out, “Father, I want a baptism of love. I want to be overwhelmed by your love. I want to experience a love so grand, so profound that I see (things, people) as you see them.” 

Let me share some insights of my week. They are not in any particular order:

  • I’m no longer an orphan. I’m a daughter of the King.
  • I don’t need to strive for His love. I need only to rest and receive His love.
  • I am His happy thought.
  • I am His smile.
  • I’m the one He waits for in the morning when I wake because He’s missed me while I was sleeping.
  • His love is abundant living.
  • He has good gifts for His children. That means me…. and you!
  • He is fun.
  • He is hilarious.
  • He is protective.
  • Because of the love of God my finances look different. My health is different. My relationships are different. My perspective, hope, and future are different.
  • I’m released into my creative calling. I thrive living in what I was created to do since before time began.
  • I have a destiny.
  • My value, my identity, dignity and dreams are restored.
  • I am His treasure.
  • I hear His voice.
  • I know God will bless what I’m doing instead of asking God to bless what I’m doing.
  • I’m His favorite. (So are you.)
  • I have a family. 

Do you know what it means to others and unbelievers when I truly understand that I am loved by our Father?

  • People are safe with a daughter of God.
  • I view other sons and daughters as someone with whom I used to compete and now I see them as someone I can complete.
  • I look for the gold in people and their holy destiny thus I stop treating them based on their history.
  • I celebrate sons and daughters instead of tolerate them.
  • We are lovers, warriors and ambassadors.
  • We are moving from a church (organization) to a family. 

God is love. —1 John 4:16

God is good. —Psalm 136:1 

My friends, when we truly believe these scriptures guess what happens. We see God differently. When we see God differently we then see ourselves differently. When we see ourselves differently we then see others differently. 

My family, my dear adored family, I know that our Papa’s love can touch every deep fear in our heart and leave us forever change, healed and restored. We need only to cry out and ask to see ourselves as our Father sees us. 

Taste and see that the Lord is good. —Psalm 34:8  I’ve come to believe this is one of the most powerful scripture verses in the entire Bible. Oh what a different life we can live when we step out of unbelief and truly know that we know in our knower that God is love, God is good and God has good things for His kids. 

Thoughts? 

I pray that when you read this phrase today: I love you, that you somehow hear the Father whispering the words directly to your heart. 

And finally, imagine what our pre-believers might experience if we begin to see ourselves as God sees us. A Holy mind-blow!!!!!!!!!! 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

 

Thanks Lief Hetland. You inspired the many affirmations of this post.

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

SUM Books 4


Divine Appointments, Part 1

11134039_sMy friends, as you read this, Lynn and I are making our way to the Open Heavens Conference at Bethel Church in Redding, CA. This will be our third year going and I’m already praying for diving appointments. (Please pray with us on this and for our protection and safety as we travel. Thank you!)

I prayed for this before the writers conference (American Christian Fiction Writers) I attended a couple weeks ago. And I told God it didn’t matter if they had anything to do with me or writing, I just wanted to see Him in action.

Well, my week was packed with these appointments and it was the most fun I’ve had at one of these conferences to date. And I’ve been going for ten years now! My head is still spinning to think of them all but a few stand out, and today I’m going to share just a few of them.

As head of registration I get to serve a great body of writers and authors, along side a great team of volunteers. I’m the “go-to-girl” for all the complicated questions, etc. The first day I was blessed to pray for a dear woman in distress. Loved watching how God calmed and comforted her as we prayed.

Then a little while later, an older woman humbly asked if she could still have an author ribbon (we have these label ribbons that attach to our name badges). She forgot about her book coming out in December.

“Of course!” I said and went to fetch her one. The sheer delight on her face to receive it warmed my heart beyond measure, as did her hug. Really, truly, I love doing the little things for people.

The next morning, very early and bleary eyed, God reminded me of these two women. He highlighted the woman I’d fetched the ribbon for and said, “She has a story. Listen to her story.” He whispered (probably because I hadn’t had my coffee yet) to me, “Listen to their stories.” I knew He didn’t mean what they were writing but the stories of their heart, their lives.

I told God He’d have to orchestrate that meeting if I was to hear more of her story as there was a good 500 people attending this conference in a large hotel. Later that day I turned around and there she was! Just her. I hugged her and said, “God told me you have a story. What’s your story?”

Her eyes grew wide and moist, and she smiled. She told me that just touched her heart so deeply that God had told me that about her. She then explained that she is a two time cancer survivor and battling heart disease.

Me? I’m standing there stunned, because even though I KNOW God does this stuff, I’m still floored by it.

Time ran out and she had to go. We hugged, each knowing that God had linked us together for a reason, then off she went to her next workshop. But I knew there was more. God whispered to my heart again that there was more for me to hear.

The next day during a break, I ran up to my hotel room to get something. I started to head back out but realized I needed one more thing. Then I headed out the door. Standing at the door across the hall stood this dear woman. I kid you not. We laughed, hugged and marveled at how God kept putting us together. She shared a little more and I shared a little about my daughter’s cancer miracles, but then I had to get back to my post. Even as I walked down the hall, I knew there was more and that God would put us together yet again. He’d already linked out hearts together.

But, He wasn’t done…

Dear Friends, that’s enough for today, but please come back Friday for the rest of this story. There’s more to tell, more to hear, I’m not done… ;-)

And I’m looking forward to what God has planned for Lynn and I at Bethel. I know He won’t disappoint. He’s the best divine appointment of all!

Love you!
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Copyright: petarpaunchev / 123RF Stock Photo

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SUM Books 4


Line by Line: God's Thoughts on Guilt and Shame

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

Good Friday Morning My Friends, 

I want to add to our summer study something that is not specific to our line by line study but something I feel as though the Lord is desperate to tell His children. 

I was talking with Dineen on Tuesday and sharing with her a discussion I had with a very close friend of mine who was tormented by shame and guilt because of past decisions in her life. I hung up the phone with Dineen after sharing the story and all of sudden The Voice of God was speaking so loudly to me in that bathroom where I was getting ready that I know I’m to share His thoughts about this subject today. 

From the conversation with Dineen we were made acutely aware of how unworthy so many of God’s children feel. How beat up, emotionally and spiritually, because of the many mistakes we have made in our lives. How we live with such deep shame over words we have spoken. We carry enormous gilt over the tremendous errors in our judgment that have brought pain into our children’s lives and into our own. 

We feel like this all the time. And on dark days the enemy snakes in and tells us all day long that we are a failure. We are stupid for making that decision. He tells us to say to ourselves, Oh, how I wish I wouldn’t Isiah 4 9have said that. I would give my life to make a different decision. I have suffered so greatly because I chose to do this instead of doing that. 

If we could see this shame and guilt upon us in the spiritual realm, it would look like enormous chains upon us, dragging behind us, sapping our energy and our love. Can anyone relate? 

So right now I want you to hear what I heard from the Father. Receive this as your truth and step into His words of freedom right now. 

 

My Sweet and Holy Child, 

Do you not understand that I know how very difficult it is to live on earth? Are you not aware that I am fully and completely sensitive of how hard it is to live there? I know the pain you face. I didn’t send you to earth as your Father, blindly-unaware of every tiny detail that you would face. 

I know it’s hard to live there. I knew that before I sent you. And I knew that you would make mistakes. You would make big mistakes. You would make choices that would affect your life adversely for the rest of your earthly life. I knew that would happen. I knew your choices would cause you pain. And choices that your parents made would cause you hurt and struggle. I knew the decisions you made would hurt your children too. 

I am fully aware my child that your words have hurt others deeply. So deeply that they have forever separated you from a loved one. And I know that words spoken to you in carelessness have been giant swords that pierced your heart and left you broken. 

I know this life is hard. It is hard from the beginning and there will be struggles until you die. But I know all about every one of your struggles, your guilt, your shame and your difficulties. And it’s all okay. 

I knew when you arrived of the planet you would struggle. And I knew you would make poor choices at times. And it’s the same for every person on earth. 

You all make bad choices at times. It’s not like you are the only person who hurt someone with a choice you made. Everyone does it. Everyone makes tremendous blunders and messes up their life and the life of others. 

It’s all okay. 

You are not worse than anyone else because they ALL MAKE mistakes. Big mistakes. 

What I want from you is simple. Admit you made them. Ask for forgiveness. I WILL FORGIVE YOU IMMEDIATELY. Make right what you can. Then FORGIVE YOURSELF. 

I expected you to make these giant mistakes because life is hard on planet earth. So live in this truth. The lie you have believed is that no one else screws up this badly. It’s a lie. Everyone messes up their life and the life of others. 

But I am your Papa of Grace. It will all work out in the end. For I use all things for the good of those who love Me. You’ll see. Give yourself grace. Grace is forgiveness and kindness and love. But grace is also empowerment to do better the next time. And you will do better the next time. 

So let go of this shame and guilt. I will not condemn you because my Son stood before me with your name on His lips. He died for you and He speaks to Me often on your behalf. I love you. My Son loves you and the Holy Spirit is with you to help you do better next time. 

The best thing you can do is to follow hard after the teaching in my Holy Word, talk with me all the time, bring your life before me and let Me direct your path. I will never leave you nor forsake you my child. You can learn to walk through this very difficult life with grace, love, joy and peace. That is what I want for you for the rest of your life. 

I adore you. Please adore yourself. 

Signed, Your Papa
Abba, Father 

PS. Jesus says, “Hi.”

 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

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SUM Books 4


Transforming the Mind: Finding God in Worship

ThemindMy friends, we have walked this journey of transforming our minds now for six weeks. We began with Feasting on God’s Word, then continued with Claiming and Praying God’s Promises, Giving the Holy Spirit Authority, Pleading the Blood of Jesus, Thanking and Praising, and last week, Choosing Joy. This week, we will talk about finding God in worship. This is by far the most challenging to write, for two reasons. One, the enemy is very much apposed to this topic, because it is what he tried to get from Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4:9) and what he has wanted all along in order to be like God. And two, because it’s still growing and forming in my own life. So I will share what I have discovered thus far.

From the very beginning the plan was to worship God. Even wise men traveled from afar knowing that the only proper welcome to bring a new King was worship.

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose,* and we have come to worship him.” — Matthew 2:2

God even wrote eternity on our hearts (Ecc. 3:11) to be awakened by His call and to bring the Son glory. The pages of the Bible reveal men and women after God's own heart who stood apart from the idol worshipers to bring true worship to the One True God. Theirs are the stories we still read today and find inspiration and wisdom.

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. — Psalm 9:1-2 (a Psalm of David) Even the devil understood the intrinsic value of worship in finding the heart of God and the connection it created between creation and Creator, and sought to steal it for himself.

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’” — Matthew 4:8-10

A few years ago, I remember talking to our dear friend Ro on the phone, asking her about her relationship with God. I longed for the intimacy she seemed to have so naturally with God, Whom she referred to affectionately as her Friend. James too spoke of Abraham as a friend of God. I wanted that—yearned for it.

Not long after this conversation, I sat in prayer, seeking God for this very thing, He told me, "You will find Me in worship."

I confess, it probably took me close to a year to begin to pursue God in this manner, to seek more understanding. The pursuit to worship God more and deeper as ensued ever since. And as I have learned more about the incredible depths of God's love, I've learned that the heart of worship resides in Jesus' two greatest commands to us:

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” — Mark 12:29-31

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love others. The first encompasses a life of worship. Our intimacy with Him each day as we intentionally seek His presence. To view every part of our lives from the perspective of God's Word and promises and to live these out in our lives every day. Singing songs of praise to Him in corporate worship or even in our own homes as we listen to Christian music while making dinner for our family. To seek Him just for Himself, because we are are grateful and stunned that the Creator of the universe desires first and foremost to love us, to delight in us, to be in an intimate relationship with us.

The second springs from the first, for when we love and worship God, His love flows through us, intertwines with our hearts until the separation is no longer distinguishable and flows to a broken and hurting world.

It's that simple, yet that challenging as it requires commitment, intentionality, submission and obedience. Extravagant worship (what God truly deserves) must cost us something. Are we willing to lose our lives to gain them back?

My experience has been that which we gain back is usually more than we give. That's the generosity of our God. He rushes in with His love and faithfulness and gives more than we ask or can even imagine (Eph 3:20). Moses stood on a mountain and asked to see God's glory. What did God do? He hid Moses in a crevice and brought not a mighty show of His power but His goodness.

The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. — Exodus 33:19

And this is part of what Jesus came to bring us, that we would be able to experience God's goodness and worship Him anywhere, even in the realms of our minds and hearts regardless of whether we are in a church or alone.

Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” — John 4:21-24

It is the connection of spirt to the Spirit and truth to the Truth. Worshiping God becomes the expression of our lives that reveals the hope within.

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. — 1Peter 3:15

I propose that our thinking of worship has been limited to the walls of our churches and Sunday mornings, or to faith conferences that vibrate with the presence of the Holy Spirit. These are indeed vital to our growth and understanding of the power and necessity of corporate worship. I myself hunger for more of this in my life. (And I dare to say the difference between a church and a social center is the condition in which the members worship—or don’t.)

Yet with everything God gives and models for us, there is more—much more—than this one glowing facet of the jewel and prize known as worshiping the Lord your God with all your heart (spirit), soul and strength (body, perseverance, health). Just as He is three "persons" in one, we are called the worship with our three parts—spirit, soul and body. And I believe we are called to steward each part with care, that our spirits remain connect to the Spirit, that our souls are fed and cared for, that our bodies and minds are renewed and strengthened.

Worship is living our lives daily, walking in and with the Holy Spirit. Spending time in the Bible each day, seeking truth, knowledge and wisdom to know Him better. Believing His promises and claiming them for our lives. Giving Him praise and thanks everyday just for Him, for His constant love, presence, sacrifice and holiness, and for all He gives us. Choosing His joy even when circumstances make it difficult. Praying and believing He hears us and is working for our good.

He encompasses all. He is all. And He is more than worthy of all we have to offer Him. We don’t have to get our act together first. We don’t have to the perfect marriage and family. We don't have to wait until Sunday or for a conference. No prerequisites or qualifiers. He’s with us all the time. He longs for us to know Him and for us to be known by Him (1 Cor. 13:12).

When we love Him, we are worshiping Him. When we love others, we are worshiping Him. When we use our gifts, blessings and provisions to serve Him and others, we are worshiping Him.

Perhaps our greater challenge is bringing Sunday worship into everyday living. First and foremost, He desires that we be still and know Him. This is our highest form of worship and the place where He shows us His goodness.

And His glory.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. — Psalm 23:6

Praying He reveals His goodness to you today!
Dineen

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SUM Books 4


This Is Who We Are - AND WE ARE POWERFUL

Walking around the walls. 

It’s all about seasons. God impressed upon me that this story in the Bible is vital for us today as we begin to see the seasons. The Israelites walked around the walls for seven days. And then on the seventh day, they marched around seven times. 

It’s seasons for us. It can be a day, a year or several years (seven). I see each of the times we get up and march together as a season. My first march around the walls that contain Mike Donovan was a season of just figuring out what the heck was going on in my marriage. I had to take each step to understand why my husband was walled up and hostile to my faith. Each step forward was a tiny step of faith and progress to see how God was working in the situation and to understand the enemy’s tactics. 

That first season for me was likely to be more than seven years. That’s because I was unyielding and didn’t want to listen to God’s voice. Oh how I was like those stubborn Israelites. I walked slowly around the walls. Practically being dragged by others who were ahead of me, many who were yelling words of encouragement, “Don’t give up. You can do this. Stop being so selfish. See your husband through God’s eyes. Love your husband and listen to God’s voice.” 

So I’m thinking that I have walked now six times around, six seasons, each season teaching me how to love this man. Each season leading me to hear the voice of God with clarity. Each season teaching me how to lead my children to follow. Each season, I pick up others along the route who have fallen and can’t get back on track. Each season was a critical time as God personally groomed me to become the person I am today. 

I’ve walked a LONG TIME. 

So have many of you. Some of you are just getting started. It’s hard work and often grueling, painful, lonely. But let’s remember, when the day is over, we return to the camp and we sit together. We share our stories around the fire (or internet). We encourage one another. We pray with passion for those walls to come tumbling down. We find hope. We encourage one another. And then you know what we do….. 

We get up the next day and determine to walk another season. 

I’m now walking in the seventh season of this marriage. The walls are still there. I’ve made some progress but do you know what is in the seventh season? I must walk longer than I have ever in the past. This is the final season and it’s seven times longer than any that I’ve conquered before now. It looms scary before me. 

And yet… 

I’m so excited I can barely sit still. I’m a seasoned wall walker now. LOOK OUT! There isn’t an arrow of the enemy (words from the walls) that can get me down now. I’ve listened for years to the voice of my Papa. I’ve surrendered stupid expectations and silly little girl dreams. I’m a warrior girl. I am here to give up my selfishness and strive for the lives of those who are trapped behind the lies of the enemy. Behind the enemy gates. There are eternities at stake. Lives at stake and hope is at stake. 

I’m a prayer warrior. I will not give up or give in. And as I think about it now, it’s time to restate the anthem of our people: 

The Fellowship Of The Unashamed 

"I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. 

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals. 

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. 

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. 

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go 'til He comes, give 'til I drop, preach 'til all know, and work 'til He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me-my banner of identification with Jesus will be clear." 

So…… my friends…. Are you a wall walker? Are you willing to be one of those who is in this rare and glorious fellowship of the unashamed? 

Love you, Lynn 

2 Corinthians 5 7

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Weekend Worship — Ascribe Unto the Lord

My friends, let's give Teresa special thanks and prayers for her work this past week. She not only wrote those amazing posts for us, but she was also writing in the comments and encouraging so many of us. Thank you, Teresa! You have served the SUMites with such grace and generosity! We are so blessed by you!

Some of us experienced great revelations and more than we expected to hear. Some of us are feeling a little disappointed that we didn't hear more and may even be feeling like we failed. But this is what I firmly believe to be true. What happened during this fast for each and every one of us is EXACTLY what Abba wanted to transpire. He knows what we need best and when we need it. Trust Him to continue to bring more revelations and understandings as the year progresses. This is why journals are so important. So we can go back and be reminded of what Abba said, which will help us stay focused and recognize when our prayers are being answered!

And I want to encourage you all to continue to seek Abba just for His presence. I'm learning first and foremost that He wants us to put our relationship with Him above all else. Not our gifts, not what we do for Him, or even how we seek to serve Him. Not even the dreams and passions He places in us. He wants to give us His heart with no strings attached. So give Him yours without any strings too. Make knowing Him your priority over serving Him.

For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” — Matthew 6:25-34

Seek Him above all else, and the "else" will come! Trust Him for this, my friends. He will not fail you!

Here are two songs that seem the perfect close to our week. The first is for our praise and worship of our King Jesus. He is our everything! Let's give Him all the glory of this week. Fill the comments with praise ans worship to Him! And the second is our statement of faith for 2014. We will not be shaken, amen? Amen!

Love you, my SUMite family so much. Be shiney for Jesus!
Dineensig

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A Miracle Perhaps???

So my friends, I issued a kissing challenge on Monday. And I arrived home from traveling on Sunday and found myself with a giant cold. Achew! 

So there wasn’t any kissing happening around here. Bummer. I hope I start to feel better next week. And I have another challenge on Monday that will bring a smile to your face as it’s a challenge in our faith walk as well as our marriages. 

But today, I want to share with you a couple of fun stories from my travels this past weekend. Sometimes I’m simply overwhelmed by God’s favor. He delights showing up in the little things. I shared this particular adventure on my Facebook Page last Thursday. 

Here is what happened. 

I was traveling to Topeka, Kansas as my mother was being honored by Washburn University as an Alumni Fellow for 2013. It was a big deal and I’m glad I attended. 

I made my flight reservations and seat assignments several months ago. My mom, sister, and niece who were flying together also made reservations and seat assignments separately. The only plan was to meet in Denver and fly on the same plane to Kansas City. 

The day of the flight arrives and due to weather my flight from San Diego to Denver was late. I was barely able to make the connection and boarded the flight from Denver to Kansas City. I boarded the flight before my mom, sister and niece not knowing their seat assignment. 

Well low and behold. I’m seated waiting for the plane to fill up and looking for my mom and wondering where she will be seated when I spot her coming directly toward me. And guess what? Her seat assignment was right next to me. The very seat next to mine. My nice sat next to her and my sister was one row forward. 

Say WHAT??? 

God loves to delight me…. Every….. Single….. Day… 

And He wants to delight you too. It’s learning to give all of your life to Him and then watch as He displays His glory. 

Oh and a P.S. On my return flight, I stopped in the bathroom in the Denver airport. I stepped into the last stall in the bathroom and this is what I found on the floor. 


IMG_1161[1]

All I can say….. Amen… Jesus Amen. 

Have an amazing day living in His Presence. I’m off to the couch with my cold meds. Achew! Love you… Achew! 

 

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He Holds Our Tears

My friends, Dineen here. Lynn let me hyjack the blog today because we agreed the messages I received from the Holy Spirit are so needed right now and time sensitive. Get ready to read and grab a tissue. God rocked my world and now He's about to rock yours.

But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). — John 20:11-16

Mary stood by the tomb weeping and Jesus showed up. Not when Peter and John where there but after they left. He came in the midst of Mary's tears to bring her reassurance and comfort.

Dear friends, I sense many of us are standing by a tomb of disappointment right now weeping. We are only seeing the emptiness and not the promise. The tomb had to be emptied first in order for the full promise to manifest in Jesus' ascension and our reception of the Holy Spirit.

But do you see how Jesus appeared just for Mary? He saw her pain and need. Mary and Jesus have a history. They have a friendship and in her grief, Jesus stood right next to her, yet again. Just as he had when Lazarus died.

Loved ones, you too have a history and friendship with Jesus. He is standing right next to you and He wants you to know He's there. And He wants you to stop looking into that empty tomb and keep your eyes on Him.

This is a time of intense waiting that comes before the time of breakthrough. But it's crucial that we understand waiting doesn't mean that we do nothing. This is our time to pray and trust and believe and worship.

Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

I put two translations of this wonderful verse to remind you that wait and hope are interchangeable words in Hebrew. Waiting is hoping and hoping is waiting.

Whatever Jesus is asking you to do right now, do it. Don't scurry into action and do what you think you should be doing. Stop, be still and tell Jesus you are ready to hear whatever it is He wants to tell you and ask Him what He wants you to do right now.

Then listen. You may "hear" a short phrase or see just a word in your mind's eye. Whatever you sense, hold onto it. Trust that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you.

My dear SUMites, we have Jesus by our side all the way. That is our greatest promise and gift. As I came to the end of this post, this is the message that poured out from the Holy Spirit. This is Jesus' message to all of us:

Look for me, seek me. You look at me yet do not see that I am right there beside you. I hold your tears, everyone of them, in my hands and in my heart. I behold you with great affection and favor. Trust Me now as you have never trusted Me before. This is not an action but a choice. Make the choice and then trust Me to do this work in you. I am the perfecter of your faith and I stand in the gap between what you perceive to be reality and what I have ordained to be true. Let Me bring you to the side of truth.

Do not lose hope. The enemy wants to make you think you have but you haven't for I am your hope and you will never lose Me. Just look! See? I am there. I am right there.

Shortly after I wrote this I began praying for God to send an army of angels to surround the SUMites and stop the plans the enemy has set against us. Before I could even finish praying, God stopped me with an image. He showed me that we are already surrounded and not just surrounded but we, the SUMites, are part of this great army. We stand in a great circle, each of us, with an angel on each side of us and we are linked arm and arm with them! It is glorious! I was so overcome by the beauty of it I burst into tears. My friends, we stood as tall and proud as these giant angels! Our chins were held high and we glowed! Within the circle was all our loved ones. Our unbelievers/prebelievers stood in the middle and our children ran around them within the circle, full of joy and peaking through our legs but they were not afraid of the enemy's presence.

I was so overcome by this image. It was so incredibly beautiful. I told God this and He said, "This is sanctification." I also sensed that the joy in our children is a crucial part to our places right now. They are part of our strength.

Stand in His mighty presence, my friends! We are upheld and reinforced as never before!
Love you so much!
Dineen

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God is in the Details

17279092_sHello my dear friends! This week I'm working through my portion of the edits on our book, Not Alone (Lynn gets to do hers next week). I was so focused on this yesterday that I totally forgot to write a post for today! So sorry about that. I can't sit at my desk for really long periods right now either. Seems that nasty cold I caught before my daughter's wedding left me with a case of costochondritis. Sounds like an addiction to Costco, doesn't it? I wish. It's an inflammation of the cartilage of rib cage. No fun!

So this post will be short and sweet, but you know, some of the best truths we have from God are short and sweet, like my favorite, Romans 8:28.

I'm going to share a little story I've been saving. While Lynn and I were at the conference we spoke at in May, I was so impressed with all the work the ministry team put into every part of this conference. Even the decorations in the ladies room!

I said as much to one dear sister in Christ and she said this, "Well, you know what they say, God is in the details."

I don't know how to explain what happened next, but it was like the Holy Spirit jumped up and took over. You know how that happens when you say something you know didn't come from you?

What came out of my mouth was this, "And you know what the best part is? We're His details!"

Wow. I just love that! My friends, we are God's details. Abba spoke everything on this earth into existence, but us, He formed with His hands (like the potter!). Think about the love and care He took to do so, think about His heart for us, think about how all that translates into His desire to have a personal and intimate relationship with us, because, speaking as an artist, when I fashion something well, I take great pleasure gazing upon and appreciating my work.

God’s love is overwhelming! And this makes so much sense when you think of it in terms of Christ in us. God fashioned us from the very beginning to be vessels for His Holy Spirit.

Christ in us—God is in the details.

For the rest of this week, anytime a negative thought about you crosses your mind or someone speaks unkindly to you, I want you to stop and praise God out loud, "Abba, thank you that I am one of your details. Thank you for planning and forming me with such love and care" (Psalm 139).

Countering lies with His truth is our sword and God's love is the edge on that blade. So wield it!

Love you all so very, very much, my fellow details!
Dineen

Image credit: grthirteen / 123RF Stock Photo

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Weekend Worship — Walking in Freedom

My friends, this last week has been amazing! If you haven't read the posts and comments, please take the time to read and pray and soak in what God is doing right here in this amazing community of believers! The words and prayers are so precious and encouraging. 

God has big plans for us, dear ones. I just sense that deep in my heart and in my spirit. He sees our willing hearts and hunger for Him and He's honoring us in ways we have yet to even see. I'm so excited over this and what He's doing and putting together. Prepare to be blown away!

And as we've talked about this week, our enemy wants to undo us, especially as we seek God more passionately and walk with Him more closely. But as Chris Thomlin sings in this song below, whom shall we fear? Nothing planned against us will stand because Jesus is our friend and his angel armies surround us, fight for us and protect us. Woohooo!

No fear, no fear, no fear! 

Love you with the passion of Jesus, my friends!
Dineen 

Thank you for sharing this song with us, Missie! Hugs!

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Weekend Devo — The Sound of Your Voice

I just have to share this song with you, my friends. It's by Third Day, and brings me to my knees everytime I hear it. Listen to God's voice as you listen to the words. 

Praying & believing,
Dineen

 

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Weekend Devo — Feeding on God's Best

IStock_000013074149XSmallLike newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. — 1Peter 2:2-3

Have you ever noticed how you wind up drifting away from your spouse when you don’t spend time together and make time to talk and interact—on purpose, not just out of necessity? Have you noticed how you drift away from God when you forget to pray or wind up so busy you don’t keep that appointed time to meet with Him?

Do you see the connection? Our marriages are an earthly representation of our relationship to Christ, as his bride. When we see our marriages as a training ground of being intentional in a relationship, we are learning what it means to be intentional in our relationship with God.

Just as we have to be intentional in our marriages in order to grow closer to our spouse and mature the relationship, we need to do the same thing in our relationship with God to mature spiritually.

We can’t keep living on milk. Sometimes we have to take a hefty bite of the solid stuff and chew on it for a while to learn and grow in our marriages and our faith. Even when it seems scary, too hard, or just too much work.

Remaining in infancy keeps us from fully experiencing who God is, who our spouses are, and what our marriages and faith lives can become. We miss out on the tasty, meaty stuff.

I know this faith walk isn’t easy. Sometimes God calls us to trust Him in whole new ways and calls us to difficult tasks and directions. Not to starve or punish us, but to feed us with His best.

Praying & believing,
Dineen

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Weekend Devo — Do Whatever Brings You Back to Your Heart and the Heart of God

(In honor of Father's Day, we'd like to share this excerpt from Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul by John Eldredge.)

865 Against the flesh, the traitor within, a warrior uses discipline. We have a two-dimensional version of this now, which we call a "quiet time." But most men have a hard time sustaining any sort of devotional life because it has no vital connection to recovering and protecting their strength; it feels about as important as flossing. But if you saw your life as a great battle and you knew you needed time with God for your very survival, you would do it. Maybe not perfectly-nobody ever does and that's not the point anyway-but you would have a reason to seek him. We give a halfhearted attempt at the spiritual disciplines when the only reason we have is that we "ought" to. But we'll find a way to make it work when we are convinced we're history if we don't.

Time with God each day is not about academic study or getting through a certain amount of Scripture or any of that. It's about connecting with God. We've got to keep those lines of communication open, so use whatever helps. Sometimes I'll listen to music; other times I'll read Scripture or a passage from a book; often I will journal; maybe I'll go for a run; then there are days when all I need is silence and solitude and the rising sun. The point is simply to do whatever brings me back to my heart and the heart of God.

The discipline, by the way, is never the point. The whole point of a "devotional life" is connecting with God. This is our primary antidote to the counterfeits the world holds out to us.

(pp 171-172)

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The Heart of the Matter

933344_i_love_you Over the last two weeks I’ve shared the importance of having a quiet time. My fear is that we haven’t covered the heart of this discipline and see it more as a duty, so I want to make that clear today.

Not having a quiet time each day isn’t a sin. You haven’t broken a law or anything like that. Above all else, do not let this become something legalistic in your life. And I say that as someone who could fall into legalism and must guard against it.

At the very least, see having a quiet time with God as an opportunity to grow closer to Him and understand His love for you. And to the extreme, see it as a life preserver to your spirit in a drowning world ruled by an enemy who loves nothing more than to keep us from experiencing an effective life in Christ. Our time with God and reading His Word every day is the only way to arm ourselves against our common enemy.

So do it. Find what works for you and do it. Make this the most important part of your day. After all, Jesus thinks you’re that important—important enough to die for.

Even during times when you feel distant from God, keep this appointment and work through whatever it is He might be trying to teach you. Sit quietly before God and seek Him. My mentor told me that too.

And I’m so glad she did because there was a time that I felt that no matter how hard I sought God, I could not find Him—couldn’t sense Him near me. I persisted. I pursued God. I cried out to Him to answer me. Finally, He did. He rewarded me with His presence and showed me that He wanted me to understand the emptiness without Him.

I’ve never stopped seeking Him since. I hope I never wind up in a desert that dry again. God knows what we need now and what we will need in the future. I dare to say that had God not taught me that early on, I may not be walking as closely with Him now.

From a Biblical example, look at David. He sought God his entire life through the good and the bad. And God saw him as a man after His own heart. David wasn’t perfect. He messed up pretty bad at times and still suffered the consequences of his poor choices. But he never stopped pursuing God and God rewarded him for that.

Hear David’s passion in Psalm 27:8:

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.

David knew the source of his strength and hope was God. That no matter what, no matter how inconsistent the world and people around him were, God was constant. Always there. Always helping. Always loving.

And hear what God tells us He will do when we seek Him:

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. — Deuteronomy 4:29

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. — Jeremiah 29:13

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. — Matthew 7:7

God’s Word is clear. When we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him—our great Lord, our King, our Savior Jesus. We will find God.

So seek and pursue God in those quiet moments so you can hear Him through His Word, through your prayers, and through those God strategically places around you.

And through that small voice that speaks to a willing heart.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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A Divine Appointment

IStock_000014889792XSmall I’ve been on a quest.

What kind of quest, do you ask? A quest to understand how to listen to God better. To hear Him more clearly. I don’t want to miss a thing He has to tell me.

Hearing God is not something that comes easily. (And please understand I'm using the word "hear" figuratively. God communicates through His Word and gives us impressions through the Holy Spirit.) We have to work at it just like we do in our earthly relationships. In order to hear what another person has to say, we have to spend time with them—be in their presence. I can’t expect to know what my husband is about and who he is if I don't spend time with him. Nor will I be able to hear him if I’m not in the same room with him.

Same thing goes for God. We can’t know who He is and what His will is for our lives if we don’t spend time with Him. I know we’ve touched on that here in the past but I think it’s something we need to talk about again.

Are you spending time with God everyday? Just 10 or 15 minutes even? A time that you can simply sit, be still and KNOW that He is the God of your life?

This isn’t just something that’s good to do. It’s necessary in order for us to truly know our Creator, because you know what? He is pretty cool and has a lot to tell us. His Word is full of stuff that He intentionally put there because He wanted us to know it. That’s right. The Bible isn’t just a mish mash of stuff some guys threw together. Every word in that book is there because God wants us to know it. And not reading it is as if your spouse wrote this amazing love letter to you—a long one full of the most important things he will ever say to you—and you left it unopened and sealed in the envelope.

There’s another important aspect I want to bring out here as well. We have often said here at S.U.M. that the changes we often desire in our lives and marriages have to start with us. If we’re not spending that time with God, how are those changes going to happen?

If you want to see God work in your marriage and in your life in ways you can’t even imagine, make a commitment now to spend time with Him every morning. If you have to get up 15 minutes earlier, do it. If you have to give up a TV show, do it. What God has for you is more entertaining and valuable anyway.

And please don’t think I don’t understand how difficult this can be at first. I truly do. I had to learn to do this when my girls were little. The only way I could get a quiet time was to get up before my family. Often before the sun had even begun to peak open its own eyes. But I will tell you that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had not made that commitment and kept that appointment with God almost everyday for the last 15 years. Even on Sundays before church!

Nor have I regretted a minute of it. My time spent with God keeps me centered and helps me manage the rest of my day. Things still get done. In fact, they get done better.

So, are you struggling in your life? Are you finding things just aren’t working? Are you tired and want to get off the merry-go-round? Start tomorrow. Set that alarm a little earlier. Ask God to help you find a time that will work if you have to. I know He will because He’s done that for me too. Then keep that appointment everyday. Protect that time as if it is the most important appointment you will ever have in your life.

Because you know what? The Creator of the universe is waiting to meet with you. He loves you desperately and wants you to know that. Don’t stand Him up.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Are You Desperate?

There came a day.

That day when I finally said, “I can’t do this anymore.”

I am a determined and self-sufficient woman and for “that” day to finally arrive, I was truly at the end of my rope. I was desperate.

I couldn’t have one more argument over my faith with him.

I was done trying to help him find Jesus.

I couldn’t take one more hurtful word about my Lord.

I was desperate.

Why is it that we must finally travel this desolate road of desperate into the wilderness? Why do we think we can handle our life on our own strength, by our own wits, with our own intellect?

My journey to the Land of Desperate was necessary. I needed to realize I was….

Desperate for Jesus.

Jesus had to take me to the end of myself to see that everything I was working to accomplish was nothing. He needed me to see that I just needed Him.

When I finally came to this place in my marriage that is when I truly discovered Jesus. He is all I need. Jesus is my Hero. Jesus is my provider. Jesus is my strength. Jesus is my joy, and hope and love and future and… and… and….

I finally decided that reading the Bible might make a difference. (What a thought) I began getting up early and would read from my daily Bible then pray. Every morning. Without fail.

    Theholybible

That was 14 years ago and I still meet with the King today, every morning, early with coffee in hand and my daily Bible.

Are you desperate? Meet with the King every morning. It will change your life. And that’s a promise.

Be embraced this day my friends and meet with the King. He has so much to give you and it will blow your mind. Hugs, Lynn

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The Hummingbird Atheist

I snapped this photo last night from my family room window. We are looking into the backyard. It’s twilight in this scene. It’s the mad rush of the Hummingbirds.

If you know an unbeliever this is a good story. If you are a believer, this is a GREAT story. Let this tiny bird reveal some very BIG things about our God! Read the entire post at Laced With Grace, The Hummingbird Atheist.

Here are a few more photos I snapped last night.

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