34 posts categorized "Grace"

Lenten Reflections: Week 4 - Everyday Grace

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As I’ve grown older I’ve come far more accepting of my mess. Not the physical one (I’m actually quite a tidy person) but the one in my heart and mind. We’ve all got some of it. One of the joys of Lent is intentionally spending time doing a spring-clean, self-examination in the presence of the Lord to identify areas of our life where sin and/or negative habits have taken up residence.

Sin clings

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. "(Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)

Do you struggle with recurring sins that invade you regularly? What about the idols in your life that consume too much of your waking hours and desires? I sure have both and I take a degree of comfort from the above verses as it validates that our sins cling to us. Our sinful nature isn’t likely to walk away without a fight, hence, the reason we keep grappling with a particular issue.

My typical response

Too often I’ve found my initial response is to tackle the issue myself so I’ll research it, get some reading material and/or participate in courses to help me combat it. Now in itself I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with getting assistance so as to help change a habit or whatever.

But in many respects if we’re only seeking human intervention, we’re bound to fail. Because what we end up doing is focus too much on the sin and ourselves.

On accepting Jesus as our Lord we might think the sin issue is now sorted. We’ve acknowledged our need for Jesus and responded affirmatively to the gospel. “Yes, the power of sin has been broken, but the presence of sin still remains inside us and is being progressively eradicated by God’s delivering grace.”1

But those pesky sins keep clinging to us. It’s sin’s nature to do that as the verse above implies. One voice keeps telling us what a failure we are because we can’t get this thing under control and so we keep working in our own strength to resolve it. We ask people to keep us accountable, to check in on us and help us. And a day doesn’t go by when we ask for forgiveness and even cry out to God: “Help me, please.”

An Awakening

Once again, age (dare I say maturity?) has taught me that engaging Jesus in the spring-cleaning process is essential. As uncomfortable as sitting in one’s mess can be, having our loving Maker sitting alongside us makes it a lot more bearable.

“No mere human has ever been able to conquer its (sin) power on its own.”2

It’s taken me a long time to learn this truism. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have moments of feeling “fainthearted.”

Allow Jesus to gently guide you to sort through your stuff. We can be tempted to run or hide. We don’t want Him to see our muck but I always find He’s so caring in these moments. He wants the best for us and often our muck has created a veil, it could be ever so slight, between us. “As painful as it is to be exposed at this level, awakening is evidence of God’s grace.”3

In “looking to Jesus” (see the Hebrews verse) He is clearing the veil and bringing us into closer union with Him.

"If repentance isn't a daily part of your life, how is grace a daily part of your life?" (Ann Voskamp)

In acknowledging that Jesus needs to be whom I turn to when I drop the ball is wonderfully re-assuring. In recognising my need for Jesus throughout every day has helped me appreciate how much I need His grace everyday.

May I encourage you to spend some time this week sitting with Jesus and reviewing aspects of your life: family, friendships, work, church, etc and ask Him to reveal anything that might be hindering your connection. And then repent.

Let’s celebrate the grace that Jesus makes available all day every day.

Notes: 1. “New Morning Mercies,” Paul David Tripp, Crossway Books 2014, March 18 Devotional 2. “Comforts from the Cross,” Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, Crossway Books, 2009, p48. 3. “Lent ‘ A Season of Returning,” Ruth Haley Barton, Transforming Resources, Week 3.

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Defending Our Mind

21139604_sSUMites, we’ve just come out of our week of prayer & fasting. I must say I am blown away at how powerful this year’s fast seemed to be in our community. Abba is really taking us to new levels and places this year, my friends. 

Don’t be surprised if things continue to be revealed, shift and unfold over the next several weeks. We’ve set the stage for 2017 in a powerful way and God does not disappoint.

Over the week, God revealed some truths in Scripture and connected some dots for me. One I’d like to share with you today, because it’s a new prayer strategy for me. And in light of some of the things God showed me this week and Lynn’s upcoming series on emotional healing, I believe it is timely.

We’ve studied this verse before. In fact, Lynn has a video about it over there in the sidebar. 

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. — 2 Cor. 10:5

Standing on the truth of 1 Cor. 7:14 (chapter eight in our prayer book) and combining it with Jer. 24:7, this is how the Holy Spirit led me to pray it for my husband (and children):

Lord Jesus, I stand before you in my authority as the believing wife who sanctifies her husband through her faith and repent for Mike for his unbelief, doubt and choice of atheism. And in my authority I demolish these arguments of unbelief, doubt and atheism that have set themselves up against the knowledge of God and I take captive every thought bombarding or residing in him that perpetuates or agrees with these lies and make them obedient to the truth of Jesus Christ. And I declare he is a holy man of God, has received a heart that knows God, is now therefore a son of God and will return to God wholeheartedly. In the saving name of Jesus, amen!

For me:

In the name of Jesus Christ, I destroy every argument and every pretension raised against the knowledge of God that resides in my heart, my mind and/or in my life in any way and declare them gone and done. Demolished! And I take captive every thought, doubt, or insecurity and make it obedient to the truth of Jesus. I am a child of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, welcomed before the throne of grace and anointed by God to proclaim and speak truth. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Anytime we remove an untruth (lie), it is important to replace it with truth. And based upon what I experienced last week and am sensing the Holy Spirit saying now, God has set something into motion and that which He has placed in us during our time of prayer and fasting will become powerful tools over the weeks and months ahead. Thus we must defend and protect those truths and not allow the enemy to take them away (make us forget) or muddle the truths with his lies (confusion, doubting if you truly heard God, etc.). 

On Friday I will share a bit more of what God revealed to me over the week as He connects more of the dots for me. And boy, do I need a lot more dots connected. LOL!

Love you, SUMites! Share in the comments whatever the Holy Spirit lays on your heart.
Dineen

 

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Politics And My Spouse

Daniel 2 21So, ahem ya!

Not a topic that any sane person should delve into, however, I’m wondering how many of you are dealing with conflict at home because of differing views over the Presidential election in America?

Anyone?

I suspect I’m not alone. For those of you who are in harmony with your spouse over political choices, give the rest of us grace as we try to wade through this issue. And for the SUMite family who live outside of the USA, PLEASE pray for us. We need it!

I want to start this conversation by stating clearly a few things. One, I’m not supporting a specific candidate nor trying to sway anyone toward or away from a candidate. Two, we will have this conversation in this house covered by grace and without condemnation or anger. Three, I absolutely believe that God’s people should vote.

What I really want to talk about is how do we handle the election seasons with an unbelieving spouse? I want to talk about this because this issue is very personal. So bear with me if you can’t relate so much. Try to apply what I share to other areas where you have extreme conflict with your spouse, and let’s apply some wisdom to all of our lives (and politics).

Okay? We good?

Moving on…..

I’m going to share what happens in the Donovan Clan house during an election cycle and also share some personal insights. Your experience may be similar or somewhat different.

First, I’ve come to understand that every four years our home falls under a distinct tension. Mike and I have been married for nearly 25 years and I know that every summer heading to a November election, strain arises in our marriage, especially if we watch the evening national news broadcasts together which is typical for us. I can almost feel it in the air: division, anger, disgust, unbelief etc. etc. etc. and these are just my emotions. *grin*

The political process is geared to divide. Divide the country and it divides our unity in marriage. This fact makes me fume, personally.

You may ask, “Lynn, why do you let it get to you?”

Well, in the last few years, political decisions have greatly affected the moral compass and positions of our citizenry. The Supreme Court irrevocably impacted the sanctity of marriage through a ruling last June. The judges on the Federal Bench in California have ruled time and again against principals and positions that are Biblical in their truth and standing. Right now the California Legislature is poised to remove all codes of conduct from the 20 plus Christian Universities in our State. You can bet the laws they are passing right now to change the morality at the Christian universities will be drawn up against our churches in the state in a matter of months. The ramifications are disastrous for marriages and families and for people of faith.

Our voice and our votes matter.

So, you can see how I might be a little concerned about the political system.

Now here is the rub. My husband is usually a very mild-mannered, phlegmatic man, however, when it comes to politics he is as far left as you can get. He is very passionate about politics. In fact, I’ve come to realize that the DNC is his god. He gets truly fired up about his beliefs and wholeheartedly supports the direction the DNC takes regarding all issues. He is not like this about anything else. (No offense intended democratic SUMites. I’m only stating how extreme my husband is.)

So this brings me to the nightly news and what I have learned over the years. I share my hard-fought lessons with you in the hopes you won’t spend as much time and grief in the arena with your husband over politics.

One: God is on the throne no matter who is in the house (White house). Can I get an amen!

Just reading that doesn’t it bring your heart peace? My friends, I can just imagine God sitting on the throne, looking down at earth at the ceaseless whirring of the political machine. He sits back and then gives a hardy, belly-laugh about all the nonsense that is spinning on earth.

SUMites, we can take a second, catch our breath and KNOW that God isn’t up there fretting that the world seems to have gone mad. He isn’t surprised by the climate and insanity in our world. He’s actually seen it all before. It’s frustrating to say this -but history repeats itself. Mankind continues to fall away from God.

He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. —Daniel 2:21 (NLT)

This passage gives me comfort in its truth.

What I think makes God shake His head is this. His Kids, that would be us, -we don’t pray. We are a vital piece of the solution to create unity and bring Godly people and decisions to our world. Our prayers have enormous impact upon the demonic realm that is the source of all conflict, especially in politics. So, let’s pray.

I challenge you to meet with friends and pray specifically for our election and our country between now and November. Did you know that the last Great Awakening began because people in New York City began to meet in homes and businesses and they prayed. Prayer works and right now our world NEEDS another Great Awakening.

I pray with a couple of gals in my home every other Friday and Wow Wee. We set the heavenly realms ablaze with our prayers for our country. So, I ask you right now, be intentional and gather one or two around you to pray once a week or biweekly.

Now let me tell you what I think is really happening. The next Great Awakening is already underway. I know you are overwhelmed by the unrelenting evil in the world right now. But there is enormous good. The good people and good deeds and the miraculous doesn’t make the evening news but it’s happening all over the place. And you, SUMites, you are part of this Awakening. You are leaders in preparing our world for the end times. (Okay, I’m getting off topic, but God has recently shared so much with me about how He has been grooming the unequally yoked specifically for future events. I have SO MUCH to share about this. But alas, it must happen after this series.)

So, are you up for the challenge? Can you pray at home in your quiet time? Will you stick with me as we meander down this road? And did any of this help someone?

I have more. On Monday let’s look at item number two… It’s awesome. LOVE you my family, you are an amazing bunch of God’s Kids and I adore you. Hugs, Lynn

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A 76-Year Love Dance With Jesus

Isaiah 46 4
My friends, can I just tell you how GLAD I am to be back at my desk and typing. I’m thrilled. After traveling in January, I came down with some serious illnesses and one in particular could have been devastating. I will share more about that as we move through the story I’m about to tell.

Already in this Jubilee Year, I’ve been utterly privileged to watch Jesus restore, heal and save. And today I’m compelled to ascribe Great Glory to our Jesus because of His endless and fathomless love, mercy and kindness. I have a testimony to share that is partly mine but mostly it’s a magnificent story belonging to my mother.

This story is a telling of a love dance between an old woman of 76 years of age and our timeless Lord Jesus. I pray I bring him honor through these words.

I’ve watched as a close up participant, and also from a distance. I have perceived and viewed from many angles, a life-long love dance between my mom and Jesus. But it’s only been in the last few months that I’ve born witness to the truly profound and supernatural moves of God in my mother’s life.

Let’s set the stage.

My mother, Sharron Sue Parks, was born in a small-town, a farming community in southern Colorado. Her childhood was wonderful and she was adored by my grandparents. My mother told me years ago that the Lord called out to her to draw her unto his love and a life of faith. On Sunday mornings as a child of eight or nine she would set out to walk to Sunday school alone. Sometimes her Aunt would take her to church because her parents didn’t attend (another story for another time). But she was drawn to Jesus and many a Sunday morning walked, by herself, to church. She grew up in the First Christian church in her small town and married by father there in 1959.

The newlywed couple moved to Denver and I was born a year later. Married life was challenging from the beginning but she pressed into living for her family and marriage. Three kids later and a few moves of the family found us in Las Vegas. I was a teenager and my siblings and I were shuffled into new schools, a new culture and a new life, once again.

May things occurred over the years. My father left my mom after 25 years. Following a long and protracted divorce proceeding, she found herself alone. The night the divorce was finalize, she cried herself to sleep. When she woke the next morning, she vowed to herself that crying didn’t solve anything and that she would never cry again.

She never did. Years and years passed. Not a single tear.

My mother’s tender heart was crushed further when my brother passed away at a young age of 41, following a long illness where he battled with cancer. Her pain and emotional beating was barely survivable. But she never stopped praying. Even on the day of my brother’s passing when three demons appeared before her and said hissingly, “We’ve got him now. He belongs to us.” My mother in her darkest moment said the only truth she knew and held in her heart, “I believe in Jesus.” And the demons immediately left. (BTW, demons lie. My brother was a believer.)

Her pain increased in other life circumstances but somehow through all the pain, she still remained loved and in love with her Jesus. The same kind Savior who once walked with her to Sunday school when she was a small girl. He adored her then and never left her even in the darkest of years that passed. Even when her questions and doubts overwhelmed her faith.

Sue eventually retired from her management and nursing position in a large Oncology center. She moved back to her home state of Colorado. It was during this time she faced a life-threatening surgical complication. She virtually faced death’s door. I remember praying and praying for her life. And I clearly heard the Lord give me this passage of scripture for her:

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was near death. Isaiah the man of God, the son of Amoz, came to him and said, “The Lord says, ‘Make those of your house ready, for you will die and not live.’” 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, 3 and said, “O Lord, I ask you from my heart to remember now how I have walked with You in truth and with a whole heart. I have done what is good in Your eyes.” And Hezekiah cried with a bitter cry. 4 Then the Word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, 5 “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘The Lord, the God of your father David, says, “I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. See, I will add fifteen years to your life. — Isaiah: 38 1-6 NLV 

I knew the Lord intended to extend her life. God had heard the years of prayers uttered by my mother to one day be reunited with her granddaughter, her son’s only living child. She had not seen her for years following my brother’s death because there was great pain on both sides of this family when he died. Yet, in my prayer time, I KNEW, THAT I KNEW, THAT I KNEW, IN MY KNOWER, God would reunite them and all would be forgiven.

My mother didn’t have the faith for this but I did and I stood in the gap with faith for her reunion and knew God had granted her extended years to answer this old woman’s heart’s desire.

And indeed, a second and successful surgery saved her life. AMEN!

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Okay, this is the end of part one of the story.. But it's also the beginning of even more amazing testimony. Stop back on Monday as I share what happened next. I love you my SUMite family. This testimony bears witness to the love of Jesus and becomes a powerful in our own lives. My mom is 76 years of age but Jesus is moving with great power in her life right now.

Jesus never stops redeeming, healing and restoring our lives no matter how many years it takes.
Never, ever. AMEN!

See you Monday. Hugs, Lynn

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The Light of Truth

19268965_sMy friends, I want to share a recent revelation with you. It was one of those moments that the truth of something I already knew finally hit all the way home. Have you had one of those moments—a suddenly moment—where something you thought you understood suddenly becomes clearer and more powerful? 

For me is it was as if the seed that had been planted was watered and then sprouted roots downward and grew upward to take permanent hold in my heart. And as we are in the season of Lent it is the perfect time to speak of the work of the cross. 

Though the event of the cross is in our past, I believe the work of the cross is continuous. Paul even spoke of this ongoing process:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. — Philippians 2:12-13 ESV

During some very painful and difficult moments in my recovery the enemy tried to move in and take advantage of my weakened state, just as we know he did with Jesus in His wilderness time. 

And I let him. The enemy tries to convince us first that either he doesn't exist or that he is more powerful than God. I believed the latter at a very young age and had no one to tell me otherwise, therefore I learned fear and this has been an ongoing battle for me.

But God has been dealing with this fear and lie for the last few years, and I believe a major and much-needed shift occurred just recently. I've been reading a workbook about the healing ministry and this author's description of the enemy's place in our lives clicked in my mind and heart like never before.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. — Hebrews 2:14-15 NASB

In my own words, this is the understanding I have been meditating on that has brought this truth home fully for me. Christ's purpose in coming and dying on the cross was to save us by rendering the enemy powerless. Not mostly powerless, but completely powerless. Christ even shamed the enemy.

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

My friends, I am not talking about spiritual warfare here, but the simple truth that the enemy is powerless (Our very own SUMite, Jo, has shared this with us too). He has absolutely no power of his own. At Christ's death, that power and authority was transferred from the enemy to us. 

Now this is probably repetitive, but I have a feeling some of you need this revelation as much as I needed it. It comes down to this: the presence and power the enemy holds in our own lives is because we have allowed it. For me this was the truth that finally hit home because if I have allowed it, I can disallow it. I am NOT at the mercy of the enemy. He is at my mercy, so to speak. I have to power and authority to boot him out.

Somehow this truth hit home at much deeper level, therefore disarming the enemy's power in my life, because it isn't his power! It's mine! And I am taking it back.

The challenge, my friends, is identifying the lies I have believed and replacing it with the truth. THAT is what completely boots the enemy out and keeps him from being able to come back. He can't, for God is light, and in Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5). Truth is light.

And like the story of the house delivered of a demon, yet seven more returned, we just fill the empty place left with truth, with God's presence (Matt. 12:45). Even the evil influences brought in from our pre-believers can't hold authority over us if we don't let them, which I'm finding is as simple—and challenging—as believing they don't. Yes, they will make our lives more difficult as we live with the repercussions this influence has on our spouses, but ultimately, the enemy can't hold any power over us.

The workbook I was studying gave a perfect analogy of this using garbage and flies. Think of the garbage as the lies we believe and the flies as the demons. We can swat at those flies but they will keep coming back to the garbage (the lies). When we get rid of the lies (the garbage) the flies have nothing drawing them back. 

"If we deal with the reason the demons are there in the first place, they can be permanently removed without a battle." —Edward M. Smith

I believe the final revelation for me came with the understanding that what I choose (or not choose) to believe limits and removes the enemy's influence in my life. The transformation of our minds (Romans 12:2) is an ongoing and life-long process and one we must be diligent about to maintain, but this truth finally brings home for me that the power lies in my hands through Jesus Christ who strengthens and empowers me, therefore I can do ALL things through Him (Phil 4:13).

My friends, I pray this revelation is making sense and is doing for you what it did for me. And please understand that this is in no way judging or condemning. I still have places in my life where I seem to keep going around the same mountain over and over again. I’m now changing my prayer strategy to ask Holy Spirit to reveal the lies I am believing so that I can root and boot it out. My heart today is to help you see that the choice is in our hands. We are not powerless victims of the enemy. We have the power and we can choose to take action.

Suddenly (I'm starting to truly get these "suddenly" moments now) the fear of the enemy's power in my life is gone. I see the lie for what it is and I know the truth. I do not have to be afraid or dread his attempts to harm me (Ps. 27:1). I hold the power through Jesus Christ's finished work in me (salvation), not the enemy, and I refuse to let him hold fear over me anymore. I am not at his mercy. I am the recipient of God’s mercy and grace.

"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” — John 8:32

I am understanding this verse on a much deeper level now, and I am determined to keep this revelation rooted deeply in my soul and spirit. SUMites, I pray for each one of us that the ever-shining light of Jesus burning in each of us will expose the lies we have taken upon ourselves to believe so that we will know the truth and be set free. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Share your thoughts in the comments. I would love to “talk” more about this with you! Love you so much, my friends!
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Lent Reflections - The Cross

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We’re more than half way now. In a little over three weeks it will be Good Friday. The day Jesus went to the Cross, voluntarily, to die.

For us.

In the last few weeks I’ve been struck by a few songs that have emphasized the Cross and what Jesus did for us. Last week my church had a visit from Dr. David Yonggi Cho.
Dr Cho has a remarkable ministry and story to tell. He started out as a minister to five people and now his church in South Korea has over 800,000 members. By all accounts it’s the biggest church in the world.

He attributes a lot of what he’s done to prayer. He spends three hours a day in prayer rising every early in the morning. He said when he was younger (he’s just celebrated his 80th birthday) he used to pray for five hours a day.

He mentioned that when he first starts praying he simply starts by meditating for a while on the Cross and what Christ did for us. This fills him with gratitude and praise but also assurance that Jesus has broken the hold sin has over us and “by His wounds He has healed us.”

Letting Go

It’s very easy for us to be self-absorbed. It doesn’t mean we’re selfish or narcissistic, it just means we spend too much time thinking about ourselves. I know I do. Particularly when things aren’t working out the way we want them to, we’re not feeling well or we’ve had a disagreement with our spouse. It’s like our automatic response is to think about ‘me’.

As I journey longer with the Lord I’m increasingly realizing that He went to the Cross so we would be more enamored with another story than our own. His.

His story is breathtaking. And He asks us to partner with Him in it. Blows my mind everytime.

This week spend a little time picturing Jesus on the Cross. Put yourself with His mother, John and the others as they watch in horror and absolute awe, as He chooses to die rather than save Himself. So we could live.

Perhaps reflect on these lyrics by Chris Tomlin and his song “At the Cross.” 

There's a place where mercy reigns and never dies

There's a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide

Where all the love I've ever found

Comes like a flood

Comes flowing down

[Chorus:]

At the cross

At the cross

I surrender my life

I'm in awe of You

I'm in awe of You

Where Your love ran red

and my sin washed white

I owe all to You

I owe all to You Jesus

There's a place where sin and shame are powerless

Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness

Where all the love I've ever found

Comes like a flood

Comes flowing down

[Chorus]

Here my hope is found

Here on holy ground

Here I bow down

Here I bow down

Here arms open wide

Here You save my life

Here I bow down

Here I bow down

[Chorus]

Lord Jesus, we love you. We worship you. We’re in awe of you. Words can’t express our gratitude for what you did at the Cross. For us. For our spouses. For our families. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you that you ransomed your life for ours. We praise you. We receive all the work and triumph of the cross, the blood, the sacrifice. Thank you for washing us clean. Jesus, we want more of you. Please fill us with more and help us let go of our selves so we can be of the business of running with you on your Kingdom mission. In your precious name we pray. Amen

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The Helmet of Salvation Defeats The Religious Spirit

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWhat is salvation? I can bet you know the answer but the answer is so much bigger than you know.

Can I ask you a few questions? 

Do you serve in church? Attend Bible study? Watch the babies during first service? Organize the potluck? Work tirelessly to organize the Christmas event? Do you feel like you have worked yourself to exhaustion and your kids miss their mother? And let’s not mention our spouse and how he feels. Yikes!

I ask these questions, NOT to cast condemnation. I’ve done all of the things above. But what I see often in these scenarios is the Religious Spirit.

—Religion tries to tell you that if you do more, God will give you more grace. So you do more and become a tired Christian trying to earn God’s love and grace. Religion will kill you because you are trying to earn what has already been given to you. — Tony Evans, Victory In Spiritual Warfare

My friends, salvation is SO MUCH MORE than our ticket to heaven. It’s a promise and a protection and our salvation is the access to the power already provided. How cool is that?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. —Ephesians 2:8-10

Grace, through faith unto good works!

Our Helmet of salvation is our supernatural protection of our mind. It’s out of our mind that come every thought that turns into actions. The devil will go to great lengths to place lying thoughts into our mind. But when we are covered by our Helmet of Salvation, we can take those thoughts captive to Christ.

I want to share a quick video of how to take thoughts captive to Christ. I practiced this for months. As a thought entered my mind, I would do this: 

My friends, our salvation is access NOW to the Mercy Seat of Grace and to all that God has for our life on earth. We can’t earn what is already ours. God can’t love you more. He killed Jesus for you!

Wear the Helmet with new truth. You are protected and empowered to defeat the consequences of sin and change your circumstances to align with the Kingdom of God.

Now…… THAT’S SALVATION!!!!! Let’s dawn that Helmet and take every thought captive!

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Jubilee - The Restoration Puzzle

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Community Fast together: September 14th: Rosh Hashanah

Part I - the Promise of Jubilee

Don’t you find it interesting that God established a Jubilee year?

I mean really. He knew we would mess up. Make mistakes. Go into debt. Trade our Freedom for bondage. Under the Old Covenant He also established a Family Redeemer who would rescue family members from disaster. Fascinating. I could write an entire series on that alone and how Jesus became the ultimate Family Redeemer for the human race. But, alas that will be another day. *grin*

Onward…. As we leave the year of the Shmita (2014) and head into a year of Jubilee, I think we should understand what Jubilee was intended under the law and then we will ponder what Jubilee is to those of us under grace.

As I mentioned on Monday, Jubilee was a year of restoration. “Where Jewish people were restored their “rights” to their original inheritance. Man, as I write this sentence, my spirit jumps in expectancy. Think about all that you have surrendered in recent years. What was stolen by the enemy? Good grief, I see this year in application to our faith life, in many dimensions. And think about our Kingdom inheritance. Did you know so much of our inheritance we can claim right now on earth?

Restoration & repayment.

Today I want to talk about restoration. Next week we will talk about repayment.

I’m convinced that we will, indeed be a people, who will experience restoration. Restoration can be in relationships, finances, broken dreams, faith, property and so forth.

I am experiencing some of this in my personal life and have sensed this restoration was coming for about a month now. But, I also want to tell you that restoration in the eyes of our Sovereign Lord may not look like what you are imagining right now. Let me explain.

For many of you who have been readers here for a season, you know that my son and family relocated to southern California to live near Mike and I. It’s been almost two years since they moved here. And so much happened in our family in this past two years. A lot of turmoil, warfare, in the spiritual realm. In the physical realm, my son and wife split up, then reunited nine months later.

During that season, I became a full-time caregiver for their little girl who was 18 months old. She and I were ill, physically ill, for six months last year. Colds, flu, virus, fevers, on and on… They lived with us for a year and then move to a house a mile away. Good grief. It’s been a busy few years. Sheesh. And although it's had rough patches, the laughter, joys and family love has been a blessed gift from our Lord to my heart.

Well a month ago due to some changes in their employment situation, they decided to move back to Nevada. Say What? Why God? After years and years of praying, why would you let this happen? Well this is what God told me.

“It is best for them. And I want you back, Lynn.”

Say what again? You see, I’ve been pulled in many directions that have stolen me away from the very intimate and precious relationship I have had with my Savior. *Gulp* It’s true. The illnesses, baby sitting, the turmoil. It truly did change the time and devotion I had with the Lord.

This doesn't look like restoration.

Or is it a restoration? Could the Lord have arranged this change?

Of course, I’m sad they are moving. It’s not what I dreamed. I wanted my grandchildren near. I wanted Sunday dinners at my house with little ones running around. I wanted my son and daughter-in-law to be near. But it is not to be.

This Jubilee year the Lord has decreed for me, peace. He is reestablishing peace in my life. And I am truly at peace with how this change has unfolded. My son and family will truly live better there. And I am at complete peace over all of it. So the Lord is fully behind this restoration. He is returning to me my time. And right now I perceive He is leading me into something new for the year ahead. 

In fact, I believe what He is revealing to me now is His desire for all of His people this Jubilee year. I will share more with you on Monday… If you are tired of the average Christian life and your spirit is wanting more out of your faith,  if you want to know God better and experience miracles and the supernatural, this “something” can change everything in your life. But I'm learning it is a narrow road that we must walk to obtain that Pearl of Great Price.

As we consider our restoration that is immanent, I ask you to ponder what God is restoring in your life. But also, contemplate what God may be removing from your life. Is it a toxic relationship? A bad circumstance, situation? Is He moving you physically or emotionally out of something into the new?

I would like to pray over your restorations and changes. If you are led by the Spirit, share with me what you are sensing the Lord is preparing for your Jubilee year.

And on Monday…. We are going to fully embrace what this Jubilee is for the people of God. He is preparing us for the end times my friends and we must be ready. Have a great weekend. Kiss your children and your spouse. Tell them they are amazing and that you are wild about them. Hugs, Lynn

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Even Bullies Need Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All in His love,
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No More Chains

20056895_sMy friends, my post today is a kind of merging of two stories. You see, I thought they were separate, yet as I prayed for Abba's clear leading on what to write, He impressed upon my heart that they are indeed connected.

The first story is one we are very familiar with. The prodigal son. I find myself caught by the father's love for this wayward boy of his...

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. — Luke 15:20 ESV

For several days I kept reading and examining this one line, because I was so touched by the father's heart before he even embraced his son with forgiveness. It's that small little word that we can often overlook.

The son's father saw him. I looked up the Greek for this word (horaō), and it means to see with the eyes, to see with the mind, to perceive, know. It is also compared with another word that implies to be seen with wide-open eyes, as at something remarkable and signifies an earnest but more continued inspection.

In other words, this father waited and watched expectantly with love and hope for his son's return.

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. — Luke 15:24 ESV

This verse moves my heart to the realization that even though the son believed he was lost to the father, the father was never lost to the son. His father watched and waited, expected and yearned. And though the son could not "see" his father, his Father "saw" him.

Can you feel the Father's heart here? This is His heart for our pre-believers and for us, because there are times that we may feel lost, forgotten, unseen.

So, this brings me to the second part of this story. I received a letter in February, a long letter filled with the pain of a heart that feels lost. I read it for the first time just two days ago, because it  wound up in a pile of mail waiting for my return to California. I share that because I am hoping this dear woman, a fellow SUMite sister, will be reading and know she is heard. 

She didn't sign her name except for a first initial, nor did she put her name on the envelope, but her heart is all over the page in her words. She carries the heavy burdens of shame, anger, guilt and self-hatred. Her words...

I thought of writing her back privately, but I want this dear woman to know that she is seen and heard.

My friend,

I hear your heart in every painful word you shared. I want you to know that your heavenly Father sees you, even if you feel He is far away and intermittently present, He watches you with a longing heart to comfort and heal you. Please do not stay in the darkness of your suffering any longer. The chains of shame, anger, guilt and self-hatred that you feel are the lies of the enemy designed to bind you and keep you from being the influence and aroma of Jesus to your husband that you desperately want to be.

My sister in Jesus, I stand with you in the power and authority we have in Him and rebuke the spirits of shame, anger, guilt and self-hatred, in the powerful and capable name of Jesus Christ. These spirits can no longer plague you. They are bound as of this moment and cannot return. For what the Lord binds is bound and what He looses is loosed. And we stand in that same authority and stand on the same truth, that what we bind is bound and what we loose is loosed.

And in this "vacancy" left by these defeated spirits, I release the love of Jesus in all fullness and power into your heart. I release the full assurance that you, my friend, are dearly loved, chosen, accepted, adopted, blessed, forgiven and redeemed by Him. 

My dear sister in Christ, stand in the truth now and walk forward knowing that as you are loved so is your husband. That love from Jesus will be what flows from Him into you and will be revealed to your husband. No longer will the lies of the enemy dictate your place in your marriage or in your Abba Father's heart. For He sees you. He knows the pain of your heart and He has wept with you. 

But now is your time for freedom, to rise above and see your place seated in the heavenly realms. Ask Jesus to show you how He sees you, how He loves you, how He delights in you. You are a daughter of the Most High God. He is waiting for you, arms open and ready to love you, strengthen you and do more for and in you (and your marriage) than you can ask or imagine.

In the powerful name of Jesus, amen! My friend, you are loved in this community as well. I pray you will allow us to love and support you here.

SUMites, join me in these prayers for our sister in Christ. And if you are standing in a similar place right now as she is, step out of this darkness of shame, anger, guilt and self-hatred and allow us to pray for you. I have lived in this place of shame and self-hatred and Jesus delivered me of these spirits. My heart is to pass the blessing I received on to you. Let today be your freedom day, too.

I love you, my SUM family, so very much. I am contending for you! No more chains!
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The Throne of Grace, Part Two

My friends, at the end of my post on Wednesday I said I had another stunning piece of this treasure hunt we are on. Below is a page from my Sanctuary Bible (yes, the very one Abba led me to) and it holds an excerpt from a book titled, Never Alone by David and Teresa Ferguson. Read it and then meet me below this new way to look at our marriages and pray into them.

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First, I want to speak to those of you who are separated and whose spouse has walked away from God. As I've shared in the past, my heart is heavy for you and remains so. My heart and prayers are with you. And today, I want to speak a message to you that I feel Jesus wants you to know more than anything.

Jesus understands your betrayal and rejection better than anyone. Read the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and you will see that Jesus was betrayed and abandoned by those closest to Him. And even in the moment that He bore our sins to death, He felt abandoned by Abba Father. So, my friend, when I say He knows your pain, understand that He KNOWS it intimately as He has lived it. His compassion for you is great. Receive His comfort and peace today, in the mighty and overcoming name of Jesus.

As I read the devotion above for the first time, my spirit stirred dramatically at the thought of loving my spouse as an act of love and worship of Jesus. It makes sense. We've talked about how loving our spouses unconditionally honors God.

But the Fergusons' words took it deeper for me. And it is part of that grace flowing through us to our pre-believers that we've been talking about. I am seeking Jesus for more wisdom and understanding of how I can minister and love my husband and, in turn, minister to our sweet Jesus. Wow, just stunning to think about...

Will you pray this with me?

King Jesus, You are so worthy to receive glory, power, and blessings. Lord, we bless You! As part of Your creation, we declare that we want to bring You the pleasure You deserve. We want to minister to You with loving comfort, attention, acceptance, appreciation, support, encouragement, affection, respect, security, and approval through loving our spouse in this manner. Lord, we are in awe that You are such an intimate part of our mismatched marriage! And we worship You today as the only One worthy to receive glory, honor and praise. In the mighty and compassionate name of Jesus, amen!

Have a wondrous weekend, my friends!
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This IS Grace In Real Life

The following was taken from a post on the 1 Peter 3 Living Group. It's testimony from Pam Anderson. My friends, you will see Grace differently in this. Thanks Pam, Lynn & Dineen and your SUM family.

Hello Everyone, 

God has been doing an amazing work in my home, my husband and my marriage.  Let me begin by saying that the word God gave me for both 2014 & 2015 is GRACE!  I expected a new word for 2015, but that didn’t happen.  Little did I realize what AMAZING things he had planned!  Yes, AMAZING GRACE. 

To make a very long story as short as possible, since October of 2014, Grace has become a staple word in our home.  Even for my husband!  I can’t begin to tell you what a Divine move this.  My husband, Bob, is a very hard, military man (served 32 years).  He was trained to be this way; however, he has a soft heart that he rarely exposes.  That would mean he’d have to be vulnerable, and, well, we know how that is. 

We started having conversations about Grace, what it means, how it transforms.  He’s an author of action-adventure men-type books, and he even has a chapter talking about Grace.  Oh, this only made possible by HIS AMAZING GRACE… 

Then I got Max Lucado’s book, “GRACE” for Christmas.  With the help of this book, God took me to a whole new level. Grace started happening to me in a way I cannot explain (I have chills just thinking about it).  I couldn’t have ever imagined this with my limited human mind and thinking.  It completely changed how I saw my husband. I began giving Grace is a new, fresh and generous way. 

Then in January, a death occurred with one of my husband’s long, lost friends. His friend’s wife.  My husband and he had not spoken for over 20 years.  All this time, my husband harbored anger, guilt and resentment about this, because they had been very close friends.  Jim, his friend, was a very hard man as well.  So when we got the news of Jim’s wife passing away, an amazing feeling came over me.  I knew that God was going to use this to open a door to mend this relationship somehow, and bring forgiveness and Grace where there was guilt, anger, resentment.  I didn’t know how.  My husband decided he wanted to go to the funeral. This was a very hard step for him, as he didn’t know what he was getting into.  And what happened was AMAZING GRACE! 

Jim, the friend, was a totally transformed man. Yes, he had been saved, and Grace overtook him!  The way this impacted my husband, well, there are no words to describe.  He couldn’t believe it.  My husband, prior, had always thought of Christians as weak, but what he saw was Grace.  Something powerful and life changing.  He saw a man who he NEVER, EVER, would have believed would become a Christian, and had.  SUMites, this is the ONLY person in my husband’s life that could affect him this way.  It is so amazing how God works!  

When my husband returned, he was dumfounded and started calling a few of his male friends to tell them about it.  Each one talked about Grace in one way or another; maybe not the exact words, but they described GRACE!  Then I handed the GRACE book (Max Lucado’s book) to my husband and said, “If you want to know what happened to Jim, read this.”  And he has been!  

I can’t believe the change happening in my husband before my very eyes.  GRACE IS HAPPENING!  And Lynn, in regard to your post about praying for your husband differently, that’s what I began doing. I started claiming, believing and thanking God for what I’ve asked Him to do for my husband- as though all my prayers have been answered.  “Thank you Lord that your Grace is transforming my husband before my eyes. Thank you that Your GRACE is turning him upside down and evading his space, and he can’t stop it!  Thank you that GRACE is penetrating his very being—his communications, his actions, his thoughts, his emotions…  Thank you that Your Grace, through the Holy Spirit, is shaking him at his core and softening his heart to You, Lord. Thank you that Your will is being done, here in my home, my marriage, my life and my husband’s life, just as it is in Heaven!  Thank you Father that You are working all things for our good and Your glory!”  And this is what began happening. 

I became so overtaken and impacted by this fresh, new experience of Grace on my life, and seeing how me giving Grace and living Grace, before my husband was making such a difference in our home. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss an opportunity to experience it. So I had a friend of mine who makes bracelets make me a GRACE bracelet (see attached).  It reminds me constantly throughout the day to give GRACE, often, generously and at every opportunity.  Just like Jesus did and DOES for me, daily!  I’m realizing that the degree to which I GIVE GRACE is the degree to which I RECEIVE GRACE.  I can’t explain how powerful and life changing this concept has become in my life. 

Then, on Valentine’s Day, the most amazing thing happened.  My husband and I were going to have a special, relaxed dinner at home.  We were on no timeframe.  And then GRACE appeared!  We had the most amazing conversation about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the transforming power of GRACE.  I gave my testimony, cried.  He heard it, a few tears came to his eyes.  I shared just the appropriate amount, just what God laid on my heart to say. Then, I just let GRACE happen.  I let God chase my husband down with GRACE! 

In conclusion, I need to share this.  Three years ago I took a major leap of faith.  I quit a prestigious job making a six-figure income.  I knew this was what God was telling me to do, to support my husband in his writing and his efforts.  And he gave me an assurance that what I would go through, he would use as a ministry, somehow.   If I had known what I’d face over the next three years, I would never have quit my job. I’m thankful God only shows us in small increments what he wants us to do, because in my limited human thinking, I would never have been able to do it.  Our financial situation got so dire, to a place I never envisioned I’d be.  But that’s where Grace met me, in my humbleness, in my desperation for God.  That is where I had to get.  Previously I thought I trusted God but I didn’t, I trusted my job—me. 

There’s more, but this is all I’m supposed to share for now (thank you for Grace in regard to this long email). I’m not sure where this is taking me, but God is giving me a little more clarity of His plans for me.  It’s very humbling. My friends, it’s  nothing short of AMAZING GRACE! 

In His Grace,
Pam

Pam HeadshotI recommitted my life to Christ in 2006 while my husband was serving in Iraq; 11 years into our marriage.  In April, my husband and I will be married 20 years.  This would not be possible without God’s life-changing Grace.  Grace that had to show up in me.  God has laid it on my heart that my most important mission on this earth, is to show Jesus to my husband; and I’m never more like Jesus than when I show my husband Grace and Mercy.  It’s been a very humbling and transforming process.  I celebrate the promise that my husband is sanctified through me.  I thank God it’s done!  I’m just waiting for God’s perfect timing to bring it to completion for all to see!  Glory and honor be to God!

I worked in the healthcare industry for 25 years and quit an executive position to support my husband in his writing career.  A step of faith that has taken me, and my marriage, in directions I could never have imagined or dreamed of.  This year I will be writing my first book.  A book which my husband fully supports and encourages, about how a woman’s heart is completely transformed when God’s Grace rules. How every relationship is impacted, forever changed, when Grace is applied to that relationship.  I ask for your prayers as I begin this project, that this book will be completely, and only, about bringing glory and honor to my Lord Jesus Christ.  

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The Throne of Grace

IStock_000014923738XSmallMy friends, I’m wrestling to understand another revelation that I feel God is slowly unwrapping for me. Again, like the one about the cross being Jesus’ marriage proposal to us, this new one budded as I sat in church on Sunday. I jotted it on the note sheet with a question mark by it. 

Heart = Throne Room?

It it subtle yet stunning. Obvious yet obscured by “safe thinking” and rules that tend to separate us from “claiming” the holiness of God. Yet if we are to believe we bare the righteousness of Christ and are co-heirs, then we are holy and righteous in our redemption in Christ. Perhaps this separation is embraced more out of protection for we know pride is a great stumbling block, yet to deny what we have been given is to deny the cross itself.

I hope I am making sense. Please follow me as best you can as I get these thoughts down. I will share with you the chain of thoughts and events that are leading me to this revelation.  

Last year, my year of intimacy with God started at the throne of Grace one early morning as the Jesus woke me to come sit with him and learn more about this verse:

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. — Hebrews 4:16

This “invitation” and Proverbs 3:5-6 became crucial keys to my healing journey:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. — Proverbs 3:5-6 

What I didn’t realize until later is God told me He was doing this back in 2013. One day as I looked at a walking cane that was twisted and gnarled at the handle, yet straight to the bottom. He said, “I am making all paths straight.” 

So with that understanding, my attention was understandably grabbed again when this verse (Prov. 3:5-6) showed up again last week. One morning my Bible literally fell open to this verse. Well, you might say that is understandable especially if it is a well visited verse from the past. BUT, this is a new Bible, my friends. 

Yes, Holy Spirit, I am listening…

Back to Sunday. The thought came as our pastor spoke about being wholehearted in our faith. His second point contained a key verse. Yes, THAT one, yet again.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

I placed a star by it, unsure yet what God wanted me to understand. I realize now He was preparing me for a push in my boundaries of safety in my belief. He was asking me—reminding me—not to lean on my own understanding. He had a revelation that would push the separation of safety that I still tend to cling to.

I’d also started listening to the last in a series of messages about fear by Pastor Steve Thompson on Sunday but was unable to finish it. Monday morning on my walk and pray I resumed listening to his message. As it neared the end of this message about truly understanding that Jesus lives in us, that we carry the presence of God, Thompson asked his listeners about the throne of grace. He asked, “Where is it?” 

My notation on Sunday’s bulletin flashed in my mind: Heart = Throne Room?

Could it be that “my thought” was the Holy Spirit revealing another aspect of what I’d tried to keep separate? I believe the analogy of us having a throne to our life is valid and that to give our lives to Jesus means to relinquish this place of control to Him. That we step off the throne and give this rightful place to Him, our Savior and King. Our Lord…

And if we as believers are to pray with faith that His will be done on Earth (and in us) as it is in Heaven (right now) (Matt. 6:10), and we sit in heavenly realms with Jesus (Eph. 2:6), and as we are in Him, He is in us and is in the Father (John 17:20-23), then can this thought, this wonder, that the throne of grace is closer than I realized is valid? That as this throne of grace most certainly exists in the heavenly realms, does it also exist in us? In our hearts? 

For surely I know that throne of my heart was once dark, selfish, judgmental, jealous and fearful. Yet Jesus has come in and turned this throne into a reflection of His—a throne of grace, love, mercy, sacrificial love, beauty, acceptance, validation, identity, peace and joy.

And let me be clear that if this place exists in me it only and truly by the Grace of God, and not by anything I have done.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. — 2 Cor. 4:7 NLT

What do we know to be true? That God has given us the open invitation to come to His throne of grace—anytime. But I can’t help but think that when we see the distance is much less than we think, and realize it is Jesus who comes in search of us (and our pre-belivers), just as God came to the Garden of Eden to “search” for Adam and Eve after they had sinned (He came to them…), we come closer to fully embracing the depths of God’s love. His grace. And His grace is big and powerful.

I need His grace daily. I need His love desperately. I need God. And we know our pre-believers need Him too. So here is my final question and where I suspect God is leading us. What is our part in bringing this grace from the throne of our inner lives to our homes so that all will be saved? 

Another verse that seems to be popping up a lot this week:

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. — Acts 16:31

I believe this piece of Scripture is a promise for us today as well, and I am believing and praying it for my pre-believer. My friends, I believe we have a theme building here with Ann’s dream about “the resting of grace” along with the revelation the Holy Spirit showed me last week about the cross bring a marriage proposal, and now this one, that as believers and lovers of God, we hold the throne of grace within us. And I am asking King Jesus to let this grace flow from the throne through me to my husband. I’ve prayed this about Abba’s great love, but now I sense that this prayer about grace, this resting of grace, is an integral part of God’s next move in our SUMite community. Will you join me in this prayer?

On Saturday I will share another stunning piece of this puzzle—something God planted in front of me this morning and gave me the leading and confidence to share this post and concept with you. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, my friends.

Love you dearly!
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Reader Question

Hey ladies, 

You mentioned in your book together about how you handle media choices. Could you share some advice? Music, tv, entertainers (comedians), too much screen time overall? Also praying that pornography is not an current or future issue. 

Thanks! 
Jen

Jen’s question is such a good one, my friends, and she graciously gave me permission to answer it here on our blog.

What Choices?
My friends, as we walk in closer intimacy with Jesus, we become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Don’t be surprised if you are finding yourself unable to read, watch and listen to things you used to. 

For example, I used to love to read thrillers and watch shows like Criminal Minds. I can’t anymore—haven’t been able to for a while. In fact, just the other night, my hubby and I were watching one of our shows together (we have a handful we both can agree upon) on Hulu, which still has commercials, and an ad came on for the show “The Following” (yes, the one starring Kevin Bacon). 

I didn’t even think about my reaction, my friends. My hands flew up and covered my face and I blurted out something like, “Oh, I can’t watch that. Nope, can’t watch that.” I think I kept saying it too so I couldn’t hear the dialogue either. I’ve no idea what my hubby thought as I couldn’t see his reaction, but he did let me know when it was over. Whew! (And what a bummer that I can’t watch Kevin Bacon!)

Now if something disturbs you, it’s going to disturb your children. And saying it’s just me or it’s not a big deal is hedging away from the truth that it does make a HUGE difference as to what we allow ourselves to watch, take in and assimilate. We have more wisdom and experience than our children so it’s crucial we stand in the gap for them too. Our minds and hearts are precious to God and need to be protected as this is also where our battles begin.

This is one area that I will even go as far as to say, stand your ground no matter what. Stand for yourself and stand for your children. I know these are the times that can really create havoc in our marriages, but ultimately we are influencing our pre-believer as well. Trust God to work that out and don’t be surprised if, over time, you find your spouse’s choices influenced by yours as well. As we protect our children’s viewing choices, we can influence our spouse’s as well with love and grace. (My friends, please share what you have experienced in this area as I think it would help us all.)

Let’s look at a great Bible verse that speaks to this topic of what we put into our minds:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. — Phil. 4:8 NLT

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious––the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. — Phil. 4:8 The Message

Once the imagery goes into our minds it’s hard to get it out. I’ve had ask the Holy Spirit to actually remove images in my mind that came from books I read and movies I watched as a teenager and young adult. He’s very good at that and you can even ask Him for positive imagery to replace it.  

Now how and where do we draw the line? I believe some of this is obvious but some isn’t as what may be okay for one person isn’t for another. For example, I’m very sensitive to things to do with the mind (evil) and sexuality. My husband is very sensitive to violence. We work together to makes choices that we both can enjoy while being sensitive to the other person.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” — 1 Cor. 10:23-24 ESV

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “ All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” — 1 Cor. 6:12 ESV 

NotAlone3DThis goes for music and books as well. In chapter five (Peaceful Kids) of our book Not Alone, I share how my family and I handled the Harry Potter books when they entered the scene. My husband wanted to read the first one to my oldest daughter who was around 12 at the time, but I was very concerned and expressed those feelings. We agreed we’d all read the book at the same time. This gave me an opportunity to discuss different aspects of it with her and reinforce the truth of good and evil. This option wound up working very well for our family.

And what I love especially in what Paul says is that he will not be dominated by anything. This is profound wisdom, my friends. For that is one thing we must be on guard for, that nothing would dominate in our minds and hearts to becoming an idol in place of Jesus. That which we fixate on we give control to.

How Much?
Again, I think the same principles apply as above. What works and is appropriate for you and your family? I do tend to think less is better as we can more than likely “think upon” better things. But content needs to be considered as well. There are many documentaries available today that when chosen wisely, can offer a wise use of time. Another example, my husband and I took our time watching a series about the Roosevelts and found it very enjoyable. We learned more about our country’s history and enjoyed doing this together.

I’m also a big believer in redirection. Let me explain. I find much more success in suggesting an alternative option than arguing against the current one. Too much TV watching? Suggest that you and hubby go for a walk, or suggest a game to play with the kids, indoor or out. These are great ways to stay together as a family instead of defaulting to everyone going their own way. We can be creative in how we handle these situations with the leading of the Holy Spirit, my friends. Don’t limit yourself or the Holy Spirit to give you and your loved ones another way to go. 

About the “P” Word
Jen is wise to pray against the presence and influence of pornography. Very wise indeed. My friends, follow those nudges from the Holy Spirit. He may be showing you something to pray for or against that could happen tomorrow or two years down the road. Remember, the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective (James 5:16), so follow those leadings and pray. Don't be afraid or fearful, just pray and trust Him. The more you do these things the more you will recognize your Shepherd’s voice and grow more and more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. It just takes practice. 

Thank you, Jen, for sending in your question. My friends, I would love to hear your thoughts on this as well. I’m sure many of you have some great ideas and words of inspiration for this important topic. I’m so thankful for this loving and supportive community! You all are amazing!

Love you!
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The Greatest Romance of All Time

22641640_sOn Sunday I sat in church and watched a short video clip done by an energetic young man. I can’t remember much of what he said because partway through he said something that planted a thought in my mind that bloomed into something I’m finding quite amazing. Then today (yesterday as you read this), the Holy Spirit brought me to a Scripture that opened the fuller meaning and picture of this thought. 

I am a bit undone by it. Let’s see what you think, my friends.

As women, we long to be wooed. I remember as a young girl playing with Barbies, I would stage Barbie’s wedding to Ken. It was quite something actually, at least in my mind. As a teenager, romance books replaced Barbie and Ken to feed my imagination of what romance meant. And no, not in a good way.

So, as a young adult, my hubby’s formal proposal (or lack there of) kind of left a gap in my longing for a great romance, to be swept off my feet and carried away. After all, Ken always swept Barbie off her feet. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about is a different kind of marriage proposal. The greatest marriage proposal of all. 

The cross.

This the thought that came on Sunday and has mulled and simmered in my heart and mind since. The cross of Jesus Christ is a marriage proposal. And when you think of the Biblical references to us being the bride of Christ, it fits.

Christ came down (went on bended knee?) and humbled Himself, sacrificed His dignity to woo us. To call to us out of His great love. To ask, “Will you bind your life with Mine forever?”

At our yes, He presents us with a gift to hold and seal the promise of the promise to be fulfilled. The ring—the Holy Spirit.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. — 2 Cor. 1:21-22 (ESV)

We could call our time here on earth our engagement period. We are promised to the One and we seek to know and love Him better as the romance continues in preparation for our coming life together (eternity). Or we could call our baptism (by water and/or the Holy Spirit) the wedding (a public ceremony) and our continued faith walk our “marriage” to the Lover of our soul.

It is a beautiful analogy, my friends. One I am still pondering as it explains to me the longings of a woman’s heart (and I am only speaking to women here as I am woman. I dearly hope we will have at least one male commenter to share his perspective of this great wooing). We long to be wooed, romanced, desired and yes, claimed in the sense of knowing to Whom we belong. And in the pure hands of Jesus, it is a beautiful and right thing. In the hands of the world and the enemy of our soul, it becomes twisted and selfish.

I had no intention of bringing up the movie 50 Shades of Grey, but as this imagery of the cross as a marriage proposal bloomed in my mind, I realized we are not much different really from the women (unbelievers and believers alike) who are flocking to this movie, for I also believe they are indeed seeking to fill this yearning. We are all God’s creatures, designed to have this longing for the eternal bond (marriage) with our Savior Jesus Christ.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. — Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

As the bride of Christ we have found the truest longing of our hearts—a place that can never be filled by a person or romance books or a movie. For these things translated into some sort of reality for an individual will lose their glimmer and promise in the enduring light of day. The truth is always exposed. The initial satisfaction of these false imitators of the love and passion of Christ will fade because our souls are wired with that eternity Abba Father has placed in us. It recognizes the imposter and rejects him. 

And we are left broken and longing yet again. The great awakening we truly long for is in Him, who longs for us out of the purest motivations for our good—our salvation and identity in Him. This is the place of satisfaction and excitement and wonder. A place where we are loved and cherished and valued, called worthy and beautiful and identified.

The romance never dies with Jesus. He is constant in His loving pursuit of us. He does not stop once He has captured our hearts. He continues to delight and love us more and more, as much a we will allow and follow Him. And there is always more. 

That is the seal and the promise we are given. It is stunning to think that God gave us a part of His very Self to give us a guarantee of His promise. I stand in wonder at this new realization of the depth of such sacrificial love.

For me. For you. For every woman out there. And for every man. We are the center of this great wooing by the heart of Jesus, that draws us to Him without overriding our will or demanding control. It is the purest form of love that seeks nothing but to give, to save, to free.

And in the freedom we are free to love and give ourselves to our Bridegroom who has waited for us since the very beginning of time itself. I can’t think of anything in this world that can match this level of romance, my friends. 

I will close with one final thought that continues to simmer and form in my spirit: This wooing is happening to our pre-believers, whether we see it or not. 

SUMite Ann H. left a comment on Lynn’s post about waking from a dream with the words “pray for the resting of grace” and the image of my face. And yesterday I read this sentence in the book, The Elijah Task by John and Paula Sandford:

Only the Holy Spirit gives the grace of belief—otherwise nothing, neither persuasion nor miracles, will bring about true belief.

So as Jesus woos my hubby, I will be praying for the “resting of grace” upon him so that the Holy Spirit will release this grace of belief into him.  

I believe, my friends. I truly believe this will happen. Jesus said that if we have faith and don’t doubt, we can move mountains. 

I am praying and shouting “GRACE” at his mountain of unbelief, and I am ready to see it move. I am asking Jesus to show me how I can be part of this great romance for my husband’s soul.

How about you, SUMites? I’m looking forward to reading your comments and hearing your thoughts. 

Love you dearly!
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Our Breakthrough Happened! He's a Believer!

My friends, you know we have been praying for a breakthrough in our community for a long time. Recenlty Lynn and I have felt that a shift was coming, and we are over the moon to share with you that IT HAS HAPPENED!

Janet Sommer is a long time member of this community. Lynn and I have had the pleasure of getting to know her better over the years, and I myself am blessed to have the treasure of her friendship, encouragement and prayer. She has remained faithful to God even in challenging times and continued to pray for her husband and sow the seeds of faith. And the plow came.

A few weeks back when I shared in a video blog post that God told me things look like they're going backward, but He was about to turn them around. You could say that about Janet's situation, and God did exactly what He said He would—turned things around.

BIG TIME!

God moved and brought down walls and lies to expose a soul to the light of His saving love. Now this man has accepted faith, chosen to believe in Jesus and his transformation is tangible and visible. Read Janet's breathtaking letter as Lynn and I did, amazingly at the very same time in different parts of California. And have tissues ready because we both bawled and wound up on the phone rejoicing and praising Jesus.

My friends, this is just the beginning. We firmly believe this is the first domino that will lead to more disbelief toppling into submission to righteous faith in Jesus Christ. This is the power of testimonies, as the Bible says. Power is released and faith is increased! Amen! Thank You, Jesus!

Here's Janet's astonishing and beautiful letter...

HeadshotThe SUMites are so precious and dear to me, especially you two sisters. It was here I was convicted not to leave my pre-believer for an "easier marriage" to a *believer*. It was here I was first encouraged to try a fast thanks to Rosheeda along with the shared precious knowledge and encouragement here. It was here I learned and was challenged to pursue God despite my husband's lack of interest or pursuit. Slowly, and courageously, as I stepped out to the call of bible study, serving in various ministries and even singing in the church band I found my husband to be supportive and there, right beside me. Although divided, we were still intact.

It was here I felt an unspoken bond of the life as a spouse to a pre-believer, and the genuine love and community for those I didn't know. The list of how I grew, how I stood in my faith, how I went from discouraged to encouraged and courageous is endless. But most importantly, it was here, as you both poured out your hearts, that I learned how to hand mine to Jesus first, instead of my husband.

I am writing to you, from the sanctity of my bed, after a couple days of reflection. And I feel so conflicted. I recently sat on the bed one afternoon and was confused to watch a very sheer veil lift off my eyes, rising from the bottom to the top. My vision was crisper, sunlight was brighter and more pure. I had been texting my husband and simply commented that I felt a fog lift. He quickly texted back that he felt the exact same way.

Later it was revealed to me that was the moment he accepted what happened to him at our marriage counselor's office and yielded to faith. You see, at our marriage counselor's office, he suddenly grabbed my hand, said some hurtful things and walked out unwilling to listen to anything I said. He later shared that during that time he felt tremendous heat, felt forced & compelled to say those things to me, and then experienced wind. He says he let something behind. Then he described that something as "evil". He physically looks different; he emotionally is different. He talks about God and praying and how grateful he is that God removed evil and blinders from him. He's so kind, gentle and intentional now. He says he can't believe he had no idea of the true wife I was, but that a God has revealed that, among many other things, to him. Neither of us can believe the difference!

And as I lay here, experiencing what we all long for, I can't help but notice how it didn't happen as I thought it would. In my mind the Holy Spirit would wreck him at a church service or at a time he was standing by me supporting my involvement-- not at marriage counseling. I never even imagined we would one day sit on that cliche couch as a counselor walked us through talking about our struggles-- after a mere 22 years together. Nothing is what I imagined.... not the timing, not it actually happening, not the genuine, radical results... nothing. And I can't help but to be conflicted.... joyous for me, yet longing for you and everyone in this online family.

I am here solidly... rooted in grace, equipped with knowledge & authority... with a believing husband, because of your bravery, your boldness and your obedience to this ministry and community. It's awkward but peaceful, scary but hope-filled, cautious navigating yet easy to move forward. The life I knew and was comfortable with, after soooo many years in a UY marriage, is changing. It's beautiful... and scary. Words will never explain the treasure SUMites are to me, nor the gems you two most certainly are in my crown. A crown I'm not worthy of but have been ransomed for and deemed worthy to wear. And I can't wait for the day when my believing husband learns exactly how much it was a lot of Jesus, a lot of God, plenty of the Holy Spirit and just as much this SUMite nation that kept me waiting, with sanity, in hope for him and this new marriage we have.

On a hysterical note, he recently asked how I knew Dineen. I said through a blog. He asked which, and I reluctantly stated. He then asked if he was a case study!!! lol

I promise you every moment, every discouragement and hurt, every argument trying to obey God and find balance in respecting our spouse, every tear shed and prayer said to God is so worth seeing and living this moment. Our spouses and marriages are worth fighting for! And they say it's about "the journey", right? As I transition into this new life as a chord of three I can't help but to storm heavens gates even more for each of you, so truly it was my honor to donate to this ministry.

Much indebted and eternally grateful for this ministry.... Janet

Janet, we love you so much. We are rejoicing with you and continuing to pray for this time of transition, adjustment and wonder. The angels are cheering you on and so is this community. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your story with your SUMite family. Love you so much! —Dineen & Lynn

Abba, thank You for bringing this man to Your Son, Jesus. Thank You, King Jesus, for lifting the darkness and filling him with Your saving love and light. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for filling our new brother in Christ with Your Holy Presence. Lord, protect and guide this believing couple into new realms of faith and discovery of Who You are and who they are in You. We praise You, Lord, with loud voices and joy-filled hearts for this miracle. And we humbly ask...DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN until every one of our pre-believers walks in faith! Let this community bring You great glory, King Jesus. We adore You! Amen!

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The Unexpected Divine Appointments

11134039_sDear friends, as I walked and prayed Tuesday morning, I asked Abba for the words to share with you what I experienced at Bethel. I really wasn’t sure if I had anything definitive as God kept this visit very personal, which makes sense for this year of intimacy He’s called me to.

But as I walked the memories and words began to flow (thank You, Abba, You are so good), like a kaleidoscope of images and colors that stood unique but together created the complete story of God’s intentions.

Where to start? At the beginning of the journey. I was a bit anxious about making this trip on my own (I love road trips when hubby is in charge) and my car had been acting up a little. (I should share with you that I call my little VW Bug by the name of Gracie as she is a gift from God and never lets me down. Why did I doubt?)

I had five hours of road ahead of me each way (thankfully Lynn road with me from Sacramento to Redding on the way up) and knew I would wind up stopping frequently for breaks out of necessity. I kid you not, both up to Redding and on my way home on Saturday every place I stopped had Christian music playing. In California?!?!?

As I walked into each place, I noticed it right away! And smiled…God uses music frequently to minister to my heart. I was never alone. My Gracie carried both me and Him on this trip.

At Bethel the first evening I noticed a woman near us. Not sure why but she just stood out to me so I took notice. The next day we were introduced by a mutual friend. That seemed significant too, so I ask Abba if there was a reason, did I need to know something. I heard the name “Amanda” over and over again. Wasn’t sure why, maybe that name meant something to her. I asked Abba who this Amanda was. He said “her sister.”

Well…I wasn’t sure what to do with that, but I have seen God do this enough times to trust Him to put it into motion. I wouldn’t track this dear woman down. If I was supposed to share what I heard, I’d leave it to Him to bring her to me at the right time (just like my new friend at the ACFW conference).

The next day I was sitting on a bench and there she stood. I waved her over and asked her if the name Amanda meant anything to her. She said no, but then shared how someone else had told her she looked like someone they met in Montreal, almost identical. What stunned me is what she shared next. She’s been searching for her twin sister. They were separated and given up for adoption when they were very young.

I gave her my business card and asked her to email me when this all falls into place as I had no doubts God was hearing her heart and leading her to her sister. When that story unfolds, I will sharing it with you, my friends. God is so amazing, so good!

On the last day, Friday, I found this verse waiting for me in my inbox:

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. — Psalm 37:7

Later that afternoon, I wound up in the prayer room. It’s a small octagon shaped building that stands part from the rest of the campus and has the most stunning view of the surrounding hills and mountains, including Mount Shasta.

Immediately I felt the peace of Jesus in that room. About a dozen or so people were there either sitting by the fountain or in chairs or on the floor by the windows. I wanted to stay in this place forever. Remembering the Scripture I received that morning, I rested by the fountain for a while.

And then it happened. Words, words, and more words. It was like my creativity had suddenly been unleashed. I couldn’t stop writing in my journal. Page after page. I wasn’t sure what it all meant though.

Not until I finished. I realized I had written the ending of the book I’m going to be working on. It was not at all what I expected, but it was very much the heart of God—tender, powerful, full of love and purpose.

God had told me He had something at Bethel this time. He told Lynn too. What He gave me was His heart. So unexpected, so gentle, so quiet.

So, my friends, God was my divine appointment this trip. What’s so amazing is that He longs for us to meet with Him each day. He has so much for us. For you.

Which brings me to the end of this story. My final “divine appointment” was with you, dear SUMites. This is the prayer God lead me to pray for our community as I sat outside and looked over the hillside.

BethelBased on Psalm 67:

Lord, be gracious to Your SUMites and bless us and make Your face shine upon us so that Your ways may be known in our homes, that your salvation will rest upon our pre-believers.

Let all those in our home praise You, God; that our pre-belivers would praise You. Let us, your SUMites, be glad and sing for joy! For You shall judge righteously and govern our hearts and homes.

Let us, Your SUMites, praise You, O God, let every single one of us praise You and bring You glory. Then our homes shall yield increase. God shall bless us and our loved ones. God shall bless us, and all those in our home shall fear Him.

In Your mighty name, Jesus, amen!

Rest in His promises, SUMites!

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Day of Atonement

Isaiah 66 2 Day of AtonementSUMites this is a day of fasting. Sunrise to sunset.

Humble and contrite. Humble and contrite. Humble and Contrite.

What does this mean to you today?

Psalm 51:17  My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

Isaiah 66:2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

There are a multitue of scripture verses on humility, Visit here.

May the Lord blesS you and keep you my friends. Great is our God and great are His mercies, grace and promises. 

Lord, let us be your people who respresent you well. In the name of your Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen

 

 There is someone who needs to hear this song today. May it change your life. 

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

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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.”

 

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Our Greatest Promise (Part 2)

8406391_sHappy Friday, my friends! Let’s finish what we started on Wednesday. I left off with an analogy of the Holy Spirit flowing in our lives like blood in our veins and how it’s important to keep the “flow” free of unrighteous impediments. As I said at the end of Wednesday’s post, the Holy Spirit helps us do this.

He is very good at His job of showing us places in our lives and hearts that we need to deal with, of nudging us to do the right thing, and even of reminding us of God’s love and will for our lives. Also known as godly conviction, it is done with the love and heart of God for our good. Not to be confused with condemnation either (Romans 8:1), it is relieving, freeing and healing.

Just about every day, I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything I need to confess or see in myself. I talk to Jesus about it and ask for forgiveness if I need it or for help dealing with or overcoming an issue. Then if there is nothing else, I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me and overflow in me, and that my day would bring glory and honor to Jesus.

When the Holy Spirit can move freely in us, our lives are changed and empowered. Abba wants for us to walk in this place of righteousness and empowerment that He sent His Son Jesus to bring us. And it is the Holy Spirit that does this work in us.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. — Philippians 2:13
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. — Philippians 4:13

So often we try to fix ourselves when the best thing we can do is sit quietly before God and let Him do these great works in us. We do our part (repentance and obedience) and He does His part (saving and transforming).

And my friends, I’m discovering through this year of intimacy that the key is knowing God better and better:

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. — Colossians 1:9-14

And the motivation behind all this is always, always, always God’s pure and unconditional love. He tells us to confess our sins and be filled with His Holy Spirit not out of harshness or so that we “get it right.” His desire has been, is and always will be to connect our heart to His so that His love can flow into our hearts freely, as blood flows freely in a healthy body, as the Blood of Christ flowed freely to save us.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. — Romans 5:3-5

And when the Holy Spirit flows freely in us, we are doing what Paul called “walking in the Spirit” and we are empowered to do those things that please God, whether they are serving others, or overcoming a sin or idol in our lives, or loving the difficult ones in our lives who Abba has specifically called us to love.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. — Galations 5:16 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. — Ephesians 2:10

Our greatest challenge as believers is also our gateway to freedom and unfailing faith: is to trust and believe. As Peter says, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine” (1 Peter 1:7).

Our greatest and most important calling is to know and love Him (Deut. 6:5, Mark 12:30), to be still and know, trust and believe that He is who He says he is (Psalm 46:10), and let Him do the great work in us that He began and is faithful to finish (Phil. 1:6).

And I am finding that it is in the quiet moments when I manage to still my heart, my soul and my spirit before Him, that His loves pours freely, His wisdom comes in priceless gems, and His presence overwhelms me.

My friends, may the Lord bless you and protect you, may the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you, may the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace (Numbers 6:24-26).

Have an amazing weekend. Love you so much!
Dineen

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Our Greatest Promise (Part 1)

8406391_sMy friends, this is part three of the salvation series Abba has been leading me to share. The first week we talked about how we are Wired for Salvation and last week, we discussed the differences in our identity before and after accepting Christ in Sinner vs. New Creation. This week we will explore our greatest promise and guarantee of eternity because of our salvation—the Holy Spirit.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. — 2 Corinthians 1: 21-22 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. — Ephesians 4:30

The Holy Spirit is our seal of ownership that we belong to God and our guarantee that we are and will be saved on the day of redemption. If you know you the Holy Spirit dwells in you, then you know you are saved and have an unshakeable eternal destination and home.

But I want to talk about “the more” of this promise, specifically the difference between being dwelling and filling. We can’t change or affect that the Holy Spirit lives in us thanks to the saving grace of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, but we can affect how much we are filled by the Holy Spirit’s power.

First, God’s Word tell us to be filled.

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, — Ephesians 5:18

Paul cleverly uses the comparison of wine because he wants us to understand that we are meant to be “saturated” (the Greek intention of the word drunk) with the Holy Spirit. That we are to be affected so much that His presence is seen by others—Christ in us.

Yet the one thing that impedes the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives is sin, whether it’s intentional or not. And though there can be debate on what sin is, I am learning that it is pretty much anything that shows a lack of trust in God.

Worry, fear, anxiety are three I have battled with more in the last six months than I ever imagined I would. And if you asked me last year if these are “sins” I would have told you I wasn’t sure.

Yet now I see them in a different light, that the first entrance of these and things like anger and unforgiveness are like temptations. They enter in as possibilities and become sin in our lives when we entertain and give them place in our lives. (If you’ve described yourself as a worry wart in joking, it’s time to shake that label and tell worry to take a hike.)

Thus why this piece of truth is so vital to our mental, physical and spiritual health—to our soul, mind and spirit.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:9

Again this is not to be legalistic, but it is something we need to consider and practice on a daily basis. What unrighteousness are we carrying that impedes the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives? 

What lie are staying in agreement with? What fear are we allowing to keep us from full accepting all that God wants to give us? Sometimes we know when it’s a sin (like lashing out at a loved one) or sometimes it’s a past hurt or wound that we are holding onto and Abba says it’s time to hand it over.

Think of it this way. Our veins are filled with blood and when the blood flows freely through our bodies, we are healthy and strong. But then there’s this thing called plaque (unhealthy build up of white blood cells or ‘sin”) that builds up in our veins and if we don’t do anything about it (change our diet and exercise, etc, in other words ‘repent’ and ‘confess’) the blood flow is impeded and our health declines.

Amazingly, the Holy Spirit helps us do this. On Friday I will explain how that happens. (Lynn has graciously given me her blogging day.) Until then, I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

Love you, dear friends!
Dineen

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And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

SUMite Nation: 

Matthew 24Let’s finish this journey of Walking The Walls of Jericho. 

Remember, we are in the seven times around. I’m not sure exactly where I am, five, six, seven times around but I’ve come so very far and will never relent. There are promises behind those walls. There are captives to be liberated and plunder to be regained. Everything that was stolen. And there is a devil to be defeated and cast into the lake of fire. We, the saints, are the chosen to defeat the enemy with our worship. 

This is who we are. And you know what awaits us?.... The sound of the Shofar... 

The Shofar: 

When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. —Joshua 6:20 

The walls crumbled. Now get this, the walls fell and the People of God didn’t lift a finger to topple this shut-tight fortress. God spoke. The Walls Fell. Period. The end. 

But my friends, there remains another blast of the Shofar. It’s the trumpet sound of the Redeemed. God speaks and His Word goes forth with power, reducing the enemy to an impotent and silent foe. 

And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven. —Matthew 24:31 

The great day of the trumpet blast is ahead. It is a promise we can believe and trust and pursue this promise. In the meantime. We walk. We love. We help others. We love others. We trust. We see the miracles and we train up the generation behind us. 

As we conclude this series, I’m moved to ask you again. What is the most important verse or component of this story? Do you remember?

His Voice. 

The voice of God. It matters not what lies behind those walls. It pales in comparison the plunder, the victory, the riches, the abundance. At the end of our long journey (our years of wondering in the wilderness) only one thing matters. His Presence. 

Everything, all that we do, is in pursuit of His Presence. So consider a few thoughts with me as we continue to walk out this journey: 

  • My goal in life is not to figure out who I am, my goal in life is to figure out who He is.
  • God is always good. Always. Always. Always.
  • God has good gifts for His kids.
  • My victory is at hand because it was finished at the Cross.
  • It’s easy to pray general prayers to avoid disappointment. The Lord is looking for those who know they are servants and pray dangerously.
  • God makes me BRAVE!
  • Fear is faith in Satan.
  • The enemy loves to get us to look at ourselves either in self-criticism or self-discovery in order to keep us from looking to God.
  • Keep asking for The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation that we may know Him better.
  • Our brokenness is also our pathway to His heart.
  • People matter.
  • Perfect love casts out all fear.
  • Healing is for everyone.
  • God lavishly gives Spiritual gifts that we can give them to others.
  • Grace, grace and more grace.
  • Walking together we overcome all hindrances.
  • Peace, I give thee. I receive His peace and I thrive.
  • The Promised Land? His Presence. 

I love you so much my friends. Share your thoughts, scriptures, prayers in the comments. Our worship silences the enemy. Your sister in the Kingdom, Lynn

 

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Weekend Worship — The "Year of Intimacy" Continues

HeartinCloudsMy friends, I've truly missed you this week. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I want to share more of what I'm learning from Jesus in this "year of intimacy" that He is taking me through. Some of it has been painful as more of the lies that have infiltrated my heart and mind and kept me from fully believing and trusting Abba have been exposed. And I so want all of us to be free of these lies that keep us from fully living in the abundant life that Jesus died for us to have.

What truly surprised me is how I thought I had embraced and accepted that Jesus loved me (I still remember singing that song "Jesus loves me, this I know" as a child), yet the full weight and meaning of His love hadn't really reached my heart and soul. Let me share some of those lies and then the truth Jesus is showing me. I pray it blessed and releases something in your heart as it is doing in mine so that we, "being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to measure of all the fullness of God." Eph 3:17-19

Lie #1: I'm not lovable.
Truth: Abba doesn't create anything outside of His love because He IS love (1 John 5:16). Why would He create you and not love you? And He loves you all the way, without reserve, because that's Who He is. And nothing can separate or take that away from us. Not even our own doubts or unbelief. (Romans 8:38-39) Break your agreement with this lie right now, confess your doubts and unbelief to Him, and RECEIVE His forgiveness, love, grace and peace (1 John 1:9). Any time this thought lie comes back, capture it and give it to Jesus (2 Cor. 10:5).

Lie #2: I'm not entitled or allowed to receive Abba's gifts and blessings.
Truth: Again, we are truly and deeply loved (by Jesus' great love and not our merit, Eph 2:8-9) and all that He has for us comes to us from that place of love. Just as we receive salvation as a gift that we can't earn or justify by our own ability, the same is true of His gifts and blessings. Plus we are heirs with Christ and receive a full inheritance (Romans 8:17). Again, confess and renounce this lie and CLAIM your promises, gifts and blessings! And keep claiming them.

Okay, my friends, that's enough for today. Ask for "supernatural abundant grace" as you walk through these lies and renounce them. Jesus has more than enough! As I learn more I will share it with you. Please know that I as pray for these areas in my life, I am praying for you too, my SUMite family, because I want you to walk in the fullness of God just as I want to. We are the saints God's Word refers to and we are given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. I'm praying for all of us to understand, believe and receive these truths!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. — Ephesians 1:3-4

We are CHOSEN!
Love you all so much!
Dineen

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A Fast Finish

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Untitled3And now we come to the last day of our SUMite community fast for 2014. For whatever degree you were able to participate, congratulations. I hope that this has been a good experience for you.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: — 2 Timothy 4:7

But we have an even greater finish to celebrate. We believers are living in the glorious knowledge that Christ redeemed us.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. — John 19:30

It is finished!

Your sins are gone.

God’s indignation at our sins – past, present, and future – has been satisfied. We believers are reconciled with Him.

God tore the veil of the temple from top to bottom, exposing the Holy Place. Everyone may come into God’s presence freely. It’s an open house. All are invited.

You’re free! You’re free! The victory is won.

Woo! Hoo! Jesus paid it all. There is no more work for us to do.

Let’s celebrate. (Now, where is that chocolate that I got for Christmas?)

Conversation

In the comments below, summarize your experience with this fast or share a closing comment. Are you willing to share an insight? Is there a special meal that you are hungry for?

Prayer

Abba, Father, we praise You for sending Your Son. Help us completely trust that He did finish the job for us. Help us get our minds and hearts around that. Let us accept the gift. Let us live in the freedom You provided for us. We thank You for making Yourself accessible to us. We can come to You at any time and with any petition.  Thank You for the special time this week during our community fast and pray. We remain humbly in Your presence. Amen.

Communion

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. — Luke 22:19-20

{Dineen} Many of you were led to take communion during this fast. I know I was. Even before we started the fast, I woke one night and Abba said we were to close our week of fasting with communion. So to read your comments confirmed how Abba is working in all of us not just individually, but also as a community. A family. And His promises always seem to include family and the generations (children) to come. Did you notice that?

So to close our fast, at dusk set before you a small piece of bread and a little bit of grape juice. Let our prayers be united and be a fragrant and beautiful offering of love and gratitude for what our King Jesus has done this week in all of us—even if you aren't sure at this point, keep watching in the days to come for more revelations and realizations.

Lord Jesus, we break this bread together to remember that You gave your body for us so that we can constantly be in communion with You. You dwell in us now, because Your desire always was and always is to be with us. (Take the bread.)

And now, we take this cup that represents the new covenant, Your precious blood shed for us so that we are new creations, made new. Cover us with Your saving and healing blood, Lord Jesus, and keep our hearts pure and dedicated to You. (Take the juice.)

Lord Jesus, all praise and glory belong to You! We are holding onto You and Your great promises for us. We are stepping out in greater faith for 2014 and BELIEVING You for all things. In Your Mighty Name, Jesus, amen!

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