312 posts categorized "Love"

The Heart of God

GodsLove
Good morning, SUMites! I loved reading your prayers yesterday on Lynn’s post. I prayed in agreement with each one of you and prayed over our community for complete healing. Many of the things you prayed mirrored my own prayers too, my dear friends. I’m so glad we are taking this journey of healing together.

And that’s part of what I feel the Holy Spirit planted in my heart to share today, that some of you out there have been on a very lonely journey in your pain. You have felt alone, as if you’re the only one, in this struggle and even abandoned at times. 

Today the Lord wants you to know that is not true. You are not alone, you have never been alone. And as you walk this path of healing, you will see others walking along side you who have suffered in the same way, you will walk in a new hope and strength like never before, and you will finally reach your breakthrough.

My first breakthrough (yes, I am believing for many more!) happened last week with the help of dear friends who prayed with me, loved me and contended with me. And that is what I feel the Lord is doing in our SUM family as well—uniting us even in this time of healing to uphold one another and rejoice for each other as our breakthroughs come. This is not a journey we are intended to walk alone.

My friends, today I asked the Lord to reveal His heart for our SUM family. He showed me Jesus. He said Jesus is the full representation of His heart for us. Even unto death…

Wow, that just continues to blow my mind and bring home even more the magnitude of God’s love for us. Jesus is not only our Savior, He is our Healer. In the Bible, the Greek words for salvation (sōtēria) and saved (sozo) encompasses more than just our eternal residence but our health and wholeness as well. 

Here’s another nugget God showed me recently in Romans 8.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

Did you notice that Paul only says present and future? No mention of the past? That’s because Jesus dealt with the past on the cross. He even said, “It is done.”

And we know what happens with today? It becomes the past, so whatever heartache or challenge we face today, tomorrow it will be the past and Jesus declares it done! And as tomorrow becomes today, we can say the same about it as it passes into yesterday. It is done! 

Jesus is the heart of God. So whatever healing we are in need of, my friends, know that the Heart of God, Jesus, says it is done. He has already set our healing in place. It’s one of His promises to us. And He’s inviting us to walk in this truth.

I’m believing this is my year to be healed of emotional eating. Whatever is at the root of this issue will be revealed and healed. This is my need and the mountain I refuse to keep circling. I believe Jesus will move it and say, “It is done!” In the name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, my friends! Contending with you.
Dineen

 

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"Watch What I Do!"

IStock_000005733150MediumWhat has God promised you, my friends? That is the place I want to start today, because I’ve discovered there is a very definitive process that occurs between the promise given and the reality (or manifestation) of that promise. And it’s in the in between time that we can get confused or even lose sight of our promise.

No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said. — Psalm 89:34 (NLT)

I believe as a community we are on this journey right now together. As I shared last week during our prayer and fasting, this is a Year of Promises. As I walk in this place of waiting and the challenges I’ve faced, I’m finding that God’s promises are designed to bring us from one point and place in time to another and it’s very much to do with our growth as believers.

We’ve talked in the past about preparation and that is part of this promise package. God always sees us according to His plan for us—who He created us to be. He sees us from our future and therefore partners with us to direct our path accordingly. Our promises are part of that future becoming our present reality. So, in everything, God is working for our good to according to that picture. 

Yes, we do have an enemy that will do whatever he can to hinder and delay that path, but ultimately, as we continue to seek God and say yes to Him, we are assured of victory, as God’s Word says. He already sees us as victorious, therefore we are. That’s an important place to walk in faith and perseverance (Romans 8). 

As God cheers us on He also works in us so that we can walk in the fullness of our callings (destiny) and many times that means we need healing. We live in the reality of good verses evil and the imperfections of this world, so it is inevitable. 

This past week God worked this in my life in a stunning way. As I mentioned God revealed some things to me, of which one part was a deep need for emotional healing. I find it so very interesting that as Lynn is about to begin this series on emotional healing, God walks me through that very thing.

So, my dear SUMites, I want to encourage you to walk this journey with us, because it is part of the revelation of your promises this year. To fully receive what these promises are we often must grow in some way to be able to walk in them. This is part of God’s upgrade or promotion process. He wants us to benefit fully from His promises. 

Think of it in a way as professional training or learning a skill. In order to function as a lawyer in a court or as a teacher in a classroom, we have to learn things in order to fully function in those places. Our “training” or teaching can be very specialized too.

I believe that God is doing much of this in us for many reasons. For me, this means I am more emotionally healthy for two reasons. One, to walk in the broader places He is taking me in ministry and to be ready for where He is taking my husband to one day be in ministry together. Yes, He has to get me ready (prepared) for what that means. Oh boy…

And sometimes it can seem messy and painful, but as we’ve used the analogy before, a wound must be cleaned for it to heal well and without infection. Think of the lies, hurts, rejections and grudges we carry as infections, that once dealt with, our emotional wounds can be healed.

The wonderful thing about this process is that it ripples out. So often we want to fix what we see on the outside, but God works from the inside out and that is what those around us begin to see as we are healed. Those places we often struggle with externally could very well be the reflection of something inside in need of healing. This applies to our spouses too, my friends. We have the benefit of the Great Physician at work in us to help us heal, yet those who don’t know Jesus yet can only rely on their own resources or that which the world offers.

My friends, whatever God did in me this week broke and released things I have carried for years. I feel lighter, stronger, and more peaceful. And I am excited to walk in this new freedom and am expectant of the ways it will show up more in my life. I’m excited to see what God does next, and I am looking forward to what He does in all of us through Lynn’s series. 

It’s going to be good. How do I know that? God told me. Since last weekend, His still soft voice has whispered over and over to me these words.

“Watch what I do.”

And He has expanded those words for our community. This is what I feel I hear Him saying for us:

Watch what I do.

In your homes and in your marriages,

Watch what I do.

In your lives and in your government,

Watch what I do.

In your nation and in your communities,

Watch what I do.

In your minds and in your hearts,

Watch what I do.

SUMites, the choice is always ours. God loves us no matter what. He is always for us and always, always, always, working for our good. So if you feel this is something you want, then I encourage you to pray something like this in your own words:

Lord, I want everything You have written on the pages of my book in heaven to become a reality in my life. I want to let go of the pain and hurts and be healed of the emotional traumas in my heart and soul. Whatever that takes and whatever that looks like, Lord, I say yes. I am ready. I trust You. I love you and I am so grateful that You love me with such a relentless and perfect love. Lord, I am watching to see what You do! In the name of Jesus, amen!

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. — 2 Cor. 1:20 (NLT)

I love you, my SUM family. I’m so blessed to walk this journey with you and stand with you in prayer.
Dineen

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Getting Ready for Our 2017 Prayer & Fasting

Prayer&fasting
Hello, SUMites! My dear friends, I've missed you. I hope your Christmas was filled with joy and wonder, and that your new year is off to a great start, full of hope and expectation.

My time with my family over Christmas and New Years was very sweet and precious. I am so grateful for it as we only get to spend Christmas together every other year now. So thank you, my SUM family, for your prayers and blessings over my time with my daughters and son-in-love. As you can imagine, I miss them greatly. Our Papa God has comforted my melancholy heart every time I’ve run to Him. He’s so good. 

But I am ready to walk into 2017 with new expectations and new clarity for direction. And I'm "expecting" next week's prayer and fasting will be key to that. I believe many of you are too. I've loved reading your comments and praying with you about your hopes and expectations. You guys write some awesome stuff! 

Many of you shared a word God has given you for the new year. I too have been seeking God for what He has for me and my family, and what He wants to be for us in 2017. He's not only given me a word for 2017, He's challenged me. 

This word pushes me way out of my comfort zone, my friends. Why? Because it challenges me to step out further in faith and trust Him more. It's risky. I will be honest and share that I've grappled with some disappointments this last year that I'm coming to realize are more to do with my impatience than anything else. God's timing is, well, God's timing.

But this pushes me to think and dream even further out than I ever have before. This year my word is "Envision." And with it have come some pretty big possibilities—ones I can't even begin to figure out how God will accomplish them. But He is the God of possibilities, and I've learned that His ways are absolutely astonishing and so very unexpected. 

So, yes, I am challenged this year to leave the comfortable places of my thinking and allow Him to take me places I can't even imagine. I am excited and a bit anxious all at once!

SUMites, God has given me some words for us here too that I look forward to sharing during our prayer and fasting next week. They are full of hope and promise, my friends. God has so much in store for us. Yes, we will be challenged in new ways, but let's remember that God has prepared us for this time and season. We are fully equipped and complete in Him. Amen!

Here are some links to help you with types of fasts and how to fast. If fasting from food isn't an option, please don't discount yourself from participating. There are other avenues you can take and other ways to fast. Such as fasting from sweets, or one particular food item you tend to gravitate toward. Or fasting from television or social media.

Why Should You Fast

How to Fast Safely

How Long and What Type of Fast is Right for You

Eph1-18The best course here is to ask the Holy Spirit to impress upon your heart what kind of fast is best for this time and will honor and please God. Just as faith as small as a mustard seed delights our Papa God, He views even our smallest efforts with pleasure when the intent in our heart is great. He is always more interested in our hearts than results.

And now, SUM family, I want to share the words He gave me in November. They are so encouraging and uplifting. I for one am longing to go deeper with the Lord this year than ever before. I'm still learning to hear and listen to Him in this new way He's teaching me. I'm still learning to focus on Him and the journey instead of the end result. I have so much to learn!

I am establishing My kingdom as never before in the believer's heart. And it is a kingdom about My love. A Kingdom of Love.

The enemy's scare tactics are desperate—like a toddler pitching a fit over not getting his way—a last ditch attempt to wreak havoc. But he won't succeed as long as you don't acknowledge him. He is harmless.

My intentions are clear. My heart is known and true. Listen for My pulse. Listen to My heart. I am true and I am truth. With Me you will not fail. In Me you are a true victor. A true champion, for My cause.

And My cause is you, every one of My children! I am raising you up higher than ever before, My dread champions, and I am calling you forth. You carry the weapons of love, joy and peace. Wield them freely. Walk in love, walk in peace, be strengthened in My abundant joy. I am with You all the way!

Thank You, Father God! Thank You, Lord Jesus! Thank You, Holy Spirit! We are so grateful for Your great love and good intentions for us. Lord, I pray for every one of us in this SUM family, that the eyes of our hearts will be enlightened next week in order that we may know more fully the hope to which You have called us, the riches of Your glorious inheritance in the saints, and Your incomparably great power for us who believe (Eph. 1:18-19). 

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I bless this church without walls with the oil of joy. I bless every SUMite with greater peace than she or he has ever known. And I bless every one of us with a greater capacity to love than we have ever imagined. Lord, let us walk in the love You pour out upon us and share it with everyone we encounter. Make each of us a reflection and representation of Your Kingdom of Love. Amen!

I love you, SUMites! See you next week!

Dineen

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

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Third Week of Advent: Love

Advent3Hello, SUMites! We’re less than two weeks away from Christmas. Can you believe that? I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping…I think. How about you? And what’s on the menu for Christmas Day? What do I need to make? Who’s coming over? Need more lights up outside. I hope my mother loves her gift…

I bet your mind is filled with thoughts like these, one after another tumbling after each other like dominoes. It’s totally normal, right? We do this every year and we go into it all with the best intentions. Doesn’t always work out perfectly, but we hope for the best.

So what’s at the heart of all that? 

Love.

We love our families and friends. We want the very best for them. And we want to enjoy them during the celebrations too. Doesn’t take much in my book. So far my favorite gift for a friend cost $3.95. Can’t wait to see the surprised delight on her face when she opens it. For me it’s an act of love that says, “I get you. I love you. I think you’re special.”

As you can see I’ve lit our third candle on the Advent Wreath—just one more to go and then I’ll be lighting the Christ candle in the middle on Christmas. I love Christmas traditions. They remind me of my childhood and my children’s childhood. And I love remembering the love that infuses those memories too. Dancing around the kitchen as we baked cookies, making a snowman together, hugs and hot cocoa—more precious acts of love.

Love is the theme for this third week of Advent. As I sat and contemplated and prayed, another stream of Scriptures come to mind. I’ve shared in the past that I’ve known since I was a small child that “love makes the world go round.” I knew love was the biggest game changer in this world, just didn’t know the source.

Now I do and I still believe in love. And as the Bible says, God is love, so I believe in God. And I believe God. The first statement defines my faith, the second defines my relationship with Him.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. — 1 John 4:16-17 NLT

And God’s motivation has always been love, hasn’t it?

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 NIV

Not to condemn us, but to love us. Jesus walked this earth as the embodiment of God’s love and displayed it brilliantly. With just a look, a word, a thought—people’s lives were changed, healed, restored. He’s our greatest example of how to love.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” — Mark 10:21 NIV

My friends, He is faithful, true and loyal to the end, our Jesus. He is my inspiration. And my greatest prayer is for Him to help me love well every person He puts before me, whether at the healing rooms, at home, in a store or right her online. This my goal!

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

I love you, SUMites. You are fierce in your love, faith and faithfulness. You walk a path many will never understand. But God does. He gets you. He loves you. He’s thinks your super special. 

Merry Christmas, my friends. May the love of God be more real to you right now than ever before. May He fill the stockings of your heart with His overflowing gift of love. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Hugs!
Dineen

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Second Week of Advent: JOY!

IMG_5524Hello, SUM Family! We’re moving closer and closer to Christmas, and like you, I want to be intentional in enjoying the details of Christmas. Yesterday morning I went into my prayer room to pray for my own family and our SUM family here. I continue to pray and declare Jeremiah 24:7 over our spouses and am praying the Scriptures written on the beams of this house over you. They are such good words!

JOY is also a very good word, my friends. And it’s the theme of the second week of Advent. As I searched for the word JOY in the Bible, I was struck by several verses that spoke of JOY. Then the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see a beautiful flow and connection in these Scriptures. 

And connection is so instrumental to our relationship with God. As you can see in my picture I’ve lit the second candle. I love taking a picture each week and sharing it with my daughters, which helps create a more intimate connection between us for Christmas as the days draw closer to their arrival. I love that we can share these traditions despite the 3,000 miles that separate us. It closes the gap.

And that is what Jesus did when He entered this world—closed the gap between God and His people and connected us together as His body, the church. What’s more, Jesus arrived with the declaration of great JOY!

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. — Luke 2:10 

Jesus entered the world as joy and to bring us joy. Joy is the status quo in Heaven. Isn’t that an amazing thought? 

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. — Luke 15:7

Our intended state of being is meant to be joyful. Like He taught us to pray, “on earth as it is in Heaven,” Jesus came to give us His joy, the JOY of the Lord to strengthen and uphold us.

While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. — Luke 24:51-53

And here’s the connection from the cradle to the cross, my friends. It is rich with God’s love and our Savior’s heart for us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3 

As Jesus is our joy, we are His joy—the joy set before Him as He endured the cross. In other words, as our Savior suffered and died, He had us on His mind and heart. The very same very reason He entered this world as a helpless child to save us.

I pray this resonates deeper into your spirit than my words can convey. It is a full circle story of love and salvation that is almost incomprehensible in its brilliant perfection. We could spend a lifetime and beyond learning to understand it—and that’s exactly what we get to do!

My friends, as I shared, I went into prayer, seeking the Father’s heart for us now. I waited to hear Him yet only sensed to share this beautiful picture of JOY. But as I sat down to write, the Holy Spirit’s voice broke through and this is what I heard:

He who is faithful has said a good word.

Another Scripture search ensued as I knew I’d heard this before but couldn’t remember exactly where. The Scriptures I found are the very same verses that God has been showing me over the last year or so. I was surprised and delighted to see what He’d spoken to me at separate times come together in one profound word. So like the JOY of Christ’s birth and death…

SUMites, soak these in and apply them to our SALVATION word and promise and to any other promise God has given you.

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. — 1 Thes. 5:25

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. — Heb 10:23

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. — Psalm 33:4

The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” — Jer 1:12

My friends, He is faithful to His Word. He watches diligently to perform it.

And what struck me most powerfully in this word to us, is that it is past tense. Our Lord has “said a good word.” In my spirit I sense that to mean “it is done.” Just like His journey from the cradle led to the cross and His words…

It is finished. 

It is done.

We can rejoice!

We have JOY!

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that we are the JOY set before you. That Your JOY is intended to be ours and our natural state of heart, mind, soul and spirit. We rejoice in You. We rejoice in the promises You have given us and have already fulfilled. Even the ones we are waiting to see fully manifest here on earth as You have said a good word in Heaven. In the name of Jesus, amen!

I love you, SUM family, so much. I am overcome by the Lord’s heart and love for us. I pray you are too.
Dineen

*****

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

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Reaction Mode

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

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

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

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

 

Reactions Mode

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Be Careful What You Speak.

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

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

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

  1. Dwell on the Positive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Keep a “We” Mentality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Moving Day!

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My daughter Leslie wrote this in the entry.

SUMites, today’s the big day. As you read this, hubby and I are moving into our new home. I can’t begin to tell you how excited we are. I can’t wait to pray over the Scriptures you sent as I sit in my “war room,” knowing those same words that are written on the interior beams of the house. Yes, I will have a small room that I can call my “war room,” my friends, where I can meet with God and pin my prayer concerns to a big bulletin board I can’t wait to design. Have any ideas on that? Send them to me or leave them in the comments.

I don’t fully understand what God is doing in this symbolic representation our home and our SUM family. I can only tell you that He has some crazy big kingdom purposes for this house. Already I can see people in our home for Bible study and ministry, and many coming to Christ in those times. I can see people being baptized in our swimming pool(a standard feature here in Florida) and people in our neighborhood being drawn to this home that holds the presence of the Holy Spirit, because deep in their soul they know something’s missing and they want—need—that hope. 

But you know what absolutely brings me to tears of joy? I believe this is what God is doing in all of us and all our homes. I can’t tell you how I know that, I just do. I firmly believe God’s word to me about this latter house being greater than the former is symbolic of what God is doing in the “House of S.U.M. too.”

“The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace,” declares the Lord of hosts. — Haggai 2:9

And that is a word I want to release over each of you today. 

Abba Father, thank You for the promise of Your Word. We pray in agreement that the latter glory of the House of S.U.M. and every SUMite’s home will be greater than the former. We dedicate this ministry and our homes to You for Your kingdom purposes and for Your glory alone. Lord, we ask that the heavens would open even wider over this church without walls and each of our homes to pour out more of Your presence, provision and blessings so that the world will take notice—our spouses, our children, our families and friends, and even our neighbors. And fill our homes with peace, Lord! Great peace! In the name of Jesus, amen!

SUMites, I have more hope to share with you next week. So much more! I’m praying already that it will knock your socks off. I believe it’s the next part of “moving day” and some pretty amazing things God is going to be doing.

Love you!
Dineen

Here are a few of the Scriptures written on the beams. :-)

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A Holy Spirit Moment

CrossMy friends, I have a fascinating story to tell you today. I shared in the past that God is changing things up a bit in how He speaks to me. Let me tell you this is both a bit frustrating and very exciting, but I absolutely love this adventure with Him. And I love His unexpected ways.

Well, He did something very unexpected just recently and right in my own kitchen. A few weeks ago I was standing at the counter, spreading refried beans on corn chips to make nachos. Yuuum!

Hubby was still in his office working. I sang along with worship music as I worked. Let me just say I am so glad I held a butter knife instead of a sharp blade. 

The Holy Spirit showed up big time. I was so overcome by His presence that I had to drop the corn chip and knife on the counter. I couldn’t do anything else except stand there and soak Him in! 

My friends, I’ve had encounters with God’s presence in my quiet time and at church. But this was so unexpected, sudden and overwhelming. It was like the Holy Spirit wanted me to understand that His showing up wasn’t dependent upon my efforts to make it happen. That is something Abba continues to work out in me and let go of as it’s a form of striving. 

So there I stood, hands out and tears running down my cheeks as I worshiped. God’s presence usually brings me to tears, because His love is so overwhelming. I knew hubby was in the house somewhere, which normally would have caused concern about what he might see and interpret, but as the thought crossed my mind I simply pushed it away. I didn’t care. I could do nothing but stand there and worship.

And then it happened. My husband walked in. Yet I remained in my worshipful state and noticed he just walked on by. Didn’t say a word.

Once the moment passed and I opened my eyes, Mike came back into the kitchen. He looked at me with concern, and asked, “Are you okay?”

As I wiped away my tears, I said, “Yes, I’m great actually. Just having a God moment.”

“Okay…He’s not being mean to you, is He?”

“No, sweetie. He’s just loving on me.”

Then he nodded and walked away. My friends, this is actually the second time my husband has expressed that concern, and it’s given me insight to understand that the God he was taught about at the private Christian school he attended as a teenager was not the loving and true God we know and love. And that breaks my heart.

Yet I rejoice in this encounter and what I learned! God is so good. I’m so excited to share this with you, because I believe it will give you insight and possibly even breakthrough in your prayers for your spouse.

  1. I experienced the presence of God without “working” for it.
  2. God’s presence and love truly do cast out fear! My concern about my husband walking in on my worshipful moment drifted away without a care and didn’t return. Thank You, Lord!
  3. My husband was able to again witness God’s love and presence working in and around me, even if he doesn’t fully understand it yet.
  4. Most importantly, I now have more insight in how to pray for my sweet hubby, and that is huge! My hubby has such a tender heart. Now I understand what his choice of atheism was truly about. It’s not so much about unbelief but a way for him to cope with the disconnect. 

SUMites, I wonder how many of our spouses are truly operating from that place of disconnect. As God showed me this, my heart swelled with even more love and understanding for my husband. And heartache too, because I can almost see with my spiritual eyes that moment he chose this path.  

So, my friends, I am praying against this tarnished mindset of Who God is that’s causing him to reject the image of a cruel god instead of knowing the One True and Loving God Almighty. I am praying for his spiritual eyes to be opened to the truth of Who God really is and to encounter the love of God all around him. That includes me too, that God’s love would pour through me even more. 

I believe God is working in amazing ways in our loved ones that we can’t even perceive yet. He’s revealing the pieces to us as well. I know that can be confusing and frustrating, but I’m learning to look at these pieces and simply ask God to show me how to connect them. And He does! 

And He will do this for you too. So my friends, I pray for greater wisdom to flood our entire SUM community. I pray that our own spiritual ears and eyes would be opened more and that we would have greater discernment to hear and see what the Holy Spirit is telling us right now. Because it’s really, really good stuff.

And Lord Jesus, we praise and worship with all our love. We give You and our hearts and lives freely as we walk this path of faith. Help us live each day in greater awareness and expectation of You. We love You so much! In the name of Jesus, amen!

I love you, SUMites! You are amazing!
Dineen

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I Need Love: He Needs Respect

And we both go about it all the wrong way.

My friends, sometimes I struggle with respect. It is a challenge to respect my husband when I face the reality of his world view. I love him with a full heart. Yet, respect is a challenge. Likewise, he struggles to show me the love that my heart desires as a woman.

There is a weird cycle that starts and keeps marriages in pain and conflict. Well, right on time after a conflict with my husband, an email shows up. It's a link to an awesome teaching about love and respect. I learned so much about how a couple can become caught up in this cycle and how to learn to love better and respect our mate. 

In fact, I asked Mike to listen to these broadcasts and he did. Great conversation and empathy developed in both of us. And we really talked about out differences and how to do better with love and respect.

I feel compelled to share them with you. These are about 20 minutes each, wise and humorous recordings of Dr. Eggerichs the author of Love & Respect. Please listen to them because there are real suggestions and great wisdom to make your marriage life better.

Hugs, Lynn

Respect: A Marriage Essential Part I

Respect: A Marriage Essential Part II

 

 

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A Glimpse of Heaven

October 12, 2012, was THEE day.

My entire universe altered as I stood in worship at Open Heavens and experienced the Presence of God. Dineen too was forever changed that day. Our ministry was forever changed and I pray that many of you have received encouragement and have experienced a change in your life because of that day.

This year was my fifth-anniversary visit. It always amazes me that Bill remembers me and our ministry. He truly cares for all of us who walk this difficult road, the spiritually mismatched.

I want to share some glimpses of the week. And share one moment that God gifted to me.

Meet Edna, Sandy, Evelyn, Grace and Maria. These five ladies came all the way from North Carolina.

Edna Sandy Evelyn Grace Maria

They came because of Evelyn, who is on the far right, a SUMite and she had read about my adventures on the blog in years past. 

Amazing things happened with these ladies. Like when Evelyn asked for prayer for her hearing loss. As I stood next to her, waiting for the pastor to instruct us to pray, Evelyn looks up at me and says, “I feel heat on my right ear. Heat.”

I am teary with joyous excitement as I reply to her, “Your healing is happening and we haven’t even started to pray yet.” After prayer, she said she experienced a popping sound and her hearing was improved.

I remain utterly mystified how God heals but I'm undone to be allowed to pray and to be a conduit to miracles is….. well….. I have no language to explain. God just ROCKS!!! 

I share some photos below along with one personal story. It's not often that I consider the efforts of my life on earth. I serve the Lord out of love and passion, to empower and strengthen the Saints. So, I was undone on Wednesday. Let me explain. October of 2012 was my first year. In 2013, I invited a woman named Sue. Her life was forever changed. In 2014, 2015 and this year she invited more and more people. I invite people. And they joined us on the adventure this year.

During worship on Wednesday, Sue stepped back to where I was standing and whispered, “Lynn, look down these two rows of people.”

I looked down the rows at a collection of people and children. There were 31 people in our group and others around the auditorium that were in attendance because I took a chance. God heard my call, felt my hunger, for MORE of Him. And through the wildest of circumstances and convincing Dineen to go on this wild adventure with me, we came to Open Heavens in 2012 and set in motion life-change for many others.

Sue went on to say, “These rows of people who are here, experiencing healing and a renewal of their faith, Lynn, they are the fruit. The fruit of your life.”

I burst into uncontrolled sobs.

Even now a lump is in my throat. I don’t often consider the fruit of my life, but on this particular day, the Lord in His great love allowed me a glimpse. I am unraveled.

My friends, once in a while, a glimpse of our efforts is worth months and months of contending in our struggles. I pray this week that God gives you a glimpse of all that your life is pouring into others. And let me assure you of this. If you are spiritually mismatched, your life IS pouring into others.

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This is Sue. She prays for hours for people while we wait in line.

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SUMite: Evelyn recognized me coming out of a port-o-potty... A blessing indeed.

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I was praying for people in line and this wonderful woman from Australia asked me to pray for her.

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Some of our group. They came from as far as the UK. That Is SUMite, Jim Edwards, in the back.

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This is Gracie Wright.  She is an author of children's books. We were in line at O'Dark 30. Someone brought donuts.

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Lynn, Bill, Stone

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Jenn Johnson and Stone. They have a new album soon and it's awesome.

They shared several new songs from their new album that will be out in a few months. The song, He's In The Waiting, is utterly transformative. Stay tuned.  

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My travel companion this year.

 IMG_4377These girls stood up in the conference. They attended with their parents who live in Colorado. Both girls eyesight was miraculously healed last year. Girls Eyesight Healed by God.

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SUMites: Lynn and Jim Edwards

  

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FRUIT: I'm undone!

My friends, God is on the move. Hang on because we are bearing witness to the church arising, awakening and impacting our world.  

We are the church of the Most High God. And I believe we are going to quickly be the church of the book of Acts. Hang on because IT'S THE BEST RIDE EVER!!

I pray you are overwhelmed with wave after wave of His love today. Hugging you, Lynn 

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The Tale of Two Houses

NewHouseMy friends, I pray you are still discovering sweet revelations and blessings from last week's fasting and praying for Rosh Hashanah. Dawn did an amazing job leading us. Thank you, my friend! We love you so much! 

And my friends, your comments were moving and inspiring. If you didn't read Ann's comment about her revelation dream for us that she posted on Thursday, please go read it in the comments. It's very encouraging and confirmed many things for me. In fact, God used her comment and Dawn's story about her house to show me what I was to share with you next. 

Can I just say, I love our Father's heart for us and our spouses? He is so passionate about us, my friends! I'm overwhelmed by His love and heart for us.

Now about our house...we are just 16 days away from closing. We have watched our house transform from a cement slab and framed walls to a nearly completed home full of details—cabinets, counters, painted walls and landscaping. My husband and I are so excited that we go by our house about twice a day just to see what new things have been done that day.

Now something happened early on in this process that came full circle just a week ago and God has show me it's a word for us. But first, I need to tell you a story of how this all began.

Back in 2004...

My husband and I decided it was time to buy a house. We'd moved back to the U.S. (to California) from Switzerland two years prior and had rented a house so we could get acquainted with the area and figure out where we wanted to settle. However, as you may or may not know, the housing prices in California were/are quite high. And the houses that were in our budget sold fast, usually through bidding wars.

One Sunday I went to church full of despair. We'd not found a house and had decided we would continue renting. I asked my Sunday school group to pray for us. We planned to check one more area that afternoon, but if that didn't pan out, we'd call our landlord and negotiate another lease.

That afternoon we drove to the area a friend had suggested but didn't find it. We had a fairly small area to work in because of our oldest daughter's high school district. When we reached that outer street, we resigned ourselves to just go home.

Just a few blocks down, we saw an open house sign on a house that was just renovated and hadn't even been officially listed yet. We debated stopping and finally did. 

My friends, I kid you not, as I walked into that house and barely saw more than just the front living area, I said to my husband, "This is our house."

We contacted our realtor, who was (is) a believer and told her to make an offer. And then we went to war. Several offers came in for that house. We'd offered the full asking price but knew the chances were slim to get it. Mike and discussed offering more and decided we'd take the risk. Our budget would be stretched, and we weren't sure how we'd do it, but my ever-optimist husband said we'd figure out a way. 

I called our realtor and asked if we should offer more. She asked for a little time to pray about it. A half hour later she called and agreed it was a good plan. Then we waited. 

The next day my husband came home with a story of his own. He'd received an unexpected raise that day, and it was exactly what we would need to afford the higher price mortgage. 

We got the house. SUMites, every time I looked at our house after that, all I saw in my mind was this big red bow around it, because it was a gift from God. We walked through a lot in that house (including the miracles of my daughter’s cancer recovery) and God us blessed us richly, even in the sale of the home to a sweet family with a little boy.

Now, fast forward to our house we are building now. As I shared in my post in July, God showed me this new house is a also a gift from His hand and that I was to rejoice in it. 

On September 8th, God led me to the book of Haggai. 

"'The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’” — Haggai 2:9 ESV

As I read this, I began to tremble, my friends. That may sound crazy, but I knew that God had spoken something very deep to my spirit. And He reminded me of two other times this Word was spoken over me in the last year and half. Now He was affirming that the house He was giving us  ow and all that He has planned and purposed for it (which He's given me just a glimpse of His kingdom plans there and let me just say, "WOW!") will be greater than our former house.

SUMites, as I have shared in this past, this new house has become a monument of God's presence, provision and plans for this community. Our SUM family.

This word, that our latter "home" will be greater than our former one is for all of us. Ann's comment last week confirmed this for me. And showed me now was the time to share it as we near the completion of this home.

But God has given me another specific word, my friends. One that starts with an event that would require me to forgive someone connected to the completion of this home for lying and breaking our trust. It's a crazy story of God's unexpected justice and protection of His provision and plans. You will be utterly amazed.

Please be sure to come back for the rest of this story on Friday and to hear God's heart for us right now. This is a message you don’t want to miss, straight from the Father’s heart.

We are on the precipice, my friends. I know it's challenging to be on the mountain top with an assuredness and determination to pray into what God reveals to us, then to wait and pray, wait and pray, wait and pray and not see any visible change. But let me be the voice of truth to you and reassure you that our God is working diligently to bring forth His promise in reply to our prayers. 

Today I'm asking you to make a new declaration in the comments that you trust the Lord for all that He has promised you because He is your God.

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” — Psalms 31:14

Declare what you are trusting Him for too, my friends. Let's speak out into the natural what God is setting into place in the heavens! (Heb. 11:3)

I love you, SUM family. Please know that I am faithfully praying Jer. 24:7 and the Scriptures you sent me over you and your spouse. God is faithful to His Word!
~ Dineen

 

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A Stunning Revelation of My Authority

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My friends, today I want to share a something God is showing me in my own life. And as God is so perfect in His ways, this ties into the series I’ve been writing about regarding words, the power of God’s Word, and the authority we walk in as His children. And I’ve no doubt this is something many in our community here (and this country) need to know as it’s something that affects the majority of women today in all ranges of ages.

First, let me set the stage. Last week I was listening to a podcast by a pastor and teacher I very much respect and he said something that I knew was true but didn’t fully understand in the moment how very deeply this truth can run.

His words were, “We can’t take authority over what we don’t love.”

When I heard it, my heart, soul, mind and spirit nodded in agreement. I believe God has planted the truth of 1 Corinthians 14:1 deep inside me since I was a child.

Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. — 1 Corinthians 14:1

Love must always be our motivator, sustainer and final goal. I firmly believe that. And hearing these words from this pastor brought this truth to a whole new level for me. It’s also made me examine the places where I have have taken authority in my prayers, yet haven’t seen a shift or change. 

As Lynn shared Friday, there can be things that block our prayers, and perhaps this could be one of them. It makes sense, doesn’t it? If our heart isn’t filled with love for what we’re praying for, how can our prayers be? And I do believe this kind of love has to come from our Lord Jesus and our intimacy with Him. He pours His love into and through us.

So, what did I discover? I can best explain by sharing how this translated into a revelation for me the very next day.

I have had a love hate relationship with food, my weight and my appearance for as long as I can remember. God has brought me a long way over the years, but I still long for complete freedom. I know there are many of you reading this right now, SUMites, that get this. You’ve most likely struggled with it in some way, shape or form too.

And I am determined. I know my prayers are powerful, so I have blessed my body with divine health, perfect function as God designed my body to work and blessed areas that I know I need healing physically. But I’m not seeing the results I so desire. 

As I said, the application of this pastor’s words that the Holy Spirit wanted me to grasp came the next day. He showed me that yes, I have attempted to take authority over my body, but how can I stand in that authority when I don’t love my body and the way God created me?

I have whined and complained about my appearance, my health issues and weight for a long time. I have spoken and thought negatively about myself in more ways than I probably know. And please forgive me if I’m being a little too real and honest here, but I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to share this, because I do believe it is the answer I have sought for a long time to understand what the core issue is.

So now I am changing this. I am seeking God daily to help me love myself in all ways. I’m not talking about anything bordering on vanity or pride here. Just simple appreciation and acceptance of who God created me to be and look like. (Psalm 139:13-18, Luke 12:7, Ephesians 2:10—share more verses in the comments!)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. — 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Because I firmly believe that this issue begins in the heart and mind. And I believe as I partner with the Holy Spirit to transform my mind in this area and break old thought patterns too, I will begin too see the results of a healthy mind and body manifest more and more. 

As a person thinks, they are and do, right? (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV)

My friends, can you relate to this? Is this a truth you’ve wanted or needed and didn’t even realize it, like me? What area can you see applying to your life right now? Please share if you’re able. I truly sense this will be a revelation day for many of us and the beginning of new healing and freedom in places we have prayed and longed for.

I love you, SUMites. So very much. I want all God has for you, every single thing He has written down in the pages of His book about you—I pray He pours out every word, blessings, gift and provision He has written down for you today and that His presence is the greatest gift He reveals to you. I pray for more revelation of who you are to Him and who He created you to be, so that you walk in complete confidence in your identity and relationship with your Papa God. In the blessed name of Jesus, amen!

He loves us, my friends. Oh how He loves us…
Dineen

(P.S. Later the same day I noticed the toenail on my left foot—I have unsuccessfully treated it for three years so I began blessing it weeks ago—is now clearing up and growing normal again. Thank You, Lord, for Your sweet confirmations! You are so holy and wonderful!)

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My Husband Entered My World, part 2

Mike&NeenHello, SUMites! I have to say I’m so excited to share the rest of this story for you. God did some pretty awesome things during the week of the ACFW conference. I was so blessed to hug old friends I hadn’t seen since last year and to make some new friends as well. Since I serve there as head of registration, I come in contact with so many of the attendees, and let me tell you, the Holy Spirit always has a plan for each year. And He never tells me until He puts me in action! 

This year, He randomly told me to pray for people, usually as they shared a simple concern or health issue. The Holy Spirit would nudge me to pray with them, so I would ask if I could pray for them, right there. Do you know, that not one person declined? And every time, we both wound up so blessed and encouraged. God is so amazing!

Now back to my story…

As I shared on Tuesday, my sweet hubby seemed to connect with my friend, Jim. Seeing Mike so warmly congratulate Jim just about burst my heart with pure joy. I still get teary eye to think of my husband that night. He was warm, caring and full of humor. I watched him intentionally engage with those at our table, and he even made one of my shy friends sitting next to him feel more comfortable. I’m so proud of this guy.

The next day, Mike left early to drive home. I would fly out later in the day once we had the conference office packed and shipped out for next year. Later that morning, I saw Jim in the lobby and headed his direction, curious to hear what he thought of Mike’s intentionality to congratulate Jim on his awards.

What Jim shared confirmed all the prayers I’ve been praying over the years according to God’s leading and also confirmed what God has spoken to my heart about Mike and what’s coming.

Jim said something like this, “Your husband wasn’t at all what I expected. When I looked at him, I saw Jesus. He is right there, shining out of your husband already. And what’s so amazing is, he doesn’t even realize it yet.”

My friends, we’ve prayed for years for our spouses. We’ve stood in the gap for them with our prayers and love. We’ve called out the gold iGod has placed in them. And your comments from Tuesday are part of the confirmation God so lovingly has given me through all this that He is moving in our spouses more than we realize. And sometimes it takes someone outside of the day-in and day-out to help us see it.

SUMites, ask God to show you what He wants you to know about your spouse right now and then pray it in truth, out loud whenever you can. At night when they are sleeping. In the house while they are at work. From your car as you drive to work or in the carpool. I’ve even prayed the Scriptures God has given me and declared them over my husband as I looked at him through a window in the house while he was outside on the porch.

And here’s another one I’ve started to do. Scripture is full of examples of angels delivering God’s Word. When my husband is away, I command the angels assigned to him to speak those same truths that I have over him. So God’s Word and truth are constantly being spoken to my sweet hubby. And I am watching his spirit awakening (Eph 5:14).

And when you see that gold in them, point it out and confirm it to your spouse. Then watch them grow and become more and more like the amazing man or woman of God they’ve been created to be. This is what our prayers do, my friends. God’s truth spoken by the righteous is powerful (James 5:16).

Lord Jesus, give every SUMite a Word and promise for their spouse and give them boldness, faith and opportunities to pray and speak it out loud. And we command the angels assigned to our pre-believers to speak these very same truths over them, to call their spirits to arise and wake up for Christ is giving them light! In the powerful name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, SUMites! We are going to be amazed by what God doing.
Dineen

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My Husband Entered My World

Mike&NeenI shared the week before last that I would be in Nashville for the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. What I didn't tell you is that my sweet hubby agreed to come for part of the week. Yes, my friends, he entered my world of fiction and met some amazing people on fire for Jesus, who, like Him, share hope and redemption through story (parables).

One of those people he met was our very own Ian Acheson. And forgive me for not having photos. I’ve been kicking myself since the airport yesterday for not taking any pictures of us. I even had the pleasure and blessing of meeting Ian’s lovely wife, Fiona. She is beautiful, gentle in heart and I sense a strength in her that is enduring and precious. God is laying a precious foundation in her. 

And Ian is everything you glean from his writing and more—humble, honest and authentic. We both received some amazing confirmations from God about our writing, and I am so excited about the path God is revealing to Ian. I will let him share that as he feels led to. Amazing!

Another friend my husband met was Jim Rubart. I share his name in case you want to check out his amazing books and see his heart for Jesus. Jim is an easy going guy, much like my husband. I’d shared with Jim earlier in the week some of the things God has been doing in and around Mike. Jim has been a great friend for years and has prayed for my hubby over those  years too.

Now I hadn’t planned a meeting between them, but God obviously did.

We’d just returned to the hotel Friday evening after having dinner with some friends who live near Nashville. As we walked in I spotted Jim and told Mike I wanted to introduce him. 

We approached Jim, who was talking to a group of ACFWers, and I tapped his shoulder. “Jim, I’d like you to meet my husband, Mike.”

Jim spun around with a big smile and welcomed my husband, saying he’d heard so much about him. Then Jim stepped back, said something like he wasn’t sure how Mike would feel about this, then proceeded to wrap my husband in a bear hug.

It gets even better. My husband hugged him back with equal enthusiasm and laughter. A few minutes later we said our goodbyes. Mike laughed and said, “I don’t know why he thought I’d be uncomfortable with that.”

I just smiled. Glowed inside. My friends, this was a precious exchange of God’s love. Little did I know there was more to come.

The next evening we attended the Gala—a dinner and awards ceremony—my book The Soul Saver won the Carol Award at this event in 2013. It’s kind of like the Oscars for Christian writers and authors (unpublished and published).

We sat down at our table with the rest of the ACFW staff—dear friends of mine who I’ve known for years, who have prayed with me and who I knew would just be themselves with my dear hubby. I noticed Mike looking around and asked him what he was searching for. 

“Just looking for Jim,” he answered. I could only smile. Joy!

Our meal was filled with good food and conversation. I have to say I am so proud of the man  my husband has become. His compassion and humor easily and readily came across. Then dinner ended and the awards began. Later in the ceremony, Jim’s book (The Five Times I Met Myself) won his category. At the end of the evening, Mike said he wanted to go over and congratulate Jim. Inside I was doing a jig! Wow!

We managed to find Jim in the bustle of congratulations and pictures being taken of the winners. Mike shook Jim’s hand and expressed his happiness for Jim. I made eye contact with Jim and mouthed, “his idea” as I pointed to my hubby. Again, I was so touched and proud of this man and how he showed his heart. 

A heart I have prayed over for years, to be the man of God he was created to be, for the the eternity in his heart to be released (Ecc 3:11) and for him to love me as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25)—all this I was seeing this very night.

There’s more to the story, my friends. I will share that on Thursday. Please do come back because it’s the culmination of a beautiful confirmation from God that He is very much at work in my husband’s heart. He is so faithfully answering all those prayers in ways I never imagined (Eph 3:20).

And God is working in your spouse’s heart too, SUMites, in answer to all your prayers. Our prayers. So much more than we realize and can see…but sometimes others can…

Can’t wait to share the rest with you. Love you!
Dineen

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Guest Post: The Mismatched Family by Dee Rusnak

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

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

The Mismatched Family 
By Dee Rusnak

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus prayed…

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

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

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

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Seeing the “Gold” in Our Spouse

NowenQuoteI went through my old files today and found a post I’d written about my husband’s positive qualities. The list made me think about a verse in Ecclesiastes that I absolutely love. Why? Because it’s a picture of God’s heart and how He sees us.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. — Ecc. 3:11

There are three little words in this verse—made, put and heart. But the Hebrew translation of these words holds a list of meanings that would fill a page. I’m just listing a few of them to give you a taste:

Made—to do or make in the broadest sense, become, bear, bestow, fashion

Put — give with greatest latitude, restore

Heart — feelings, will, even intellect, inner man, soul

And to think He did this with everything—everything—kind of blows my mind. He’s fashioned us with beauty and bestowed beauty upon us to grow in beauty as we resemble Jesus more and more. He’s given us eternity with the greatest latitude and restored us to Him, to His kingdom through Jesus. And He put all of this promise in our hearts, wills and souls—the very essence of who we are. 

Now take a look at this truth:

As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. — Romans 4:17

How amazing to think that the same way God called into being this “gold” He placed in us, He’d doing the very same thing with our spouses, our family members, our friends—every single person He places on our heart to pray for. In fact, that nudge should tell us He’s already in action and He’s asking us to partner with Him with our prayers.

So as we look at our spouses, think about the eternity that God has already placed into them. Ask God to show you what it looks like, to see your spouse through the eyes of God. 

Deep friendship is a calling forth of each other’s chosenness and a natural affirmation of being precious in God’s eyes. — Henri Nowen

Then as we see and treat them according to that chosenness (and pray), they begin to walk in that truth. I’m witnessing this right now with my husband.

That old post I found? Here’s part of what I wrote about him in 2007:

He’s the kindest, most loving man I have ever met. I’ve always felt cherished in our marriage. He’s a great dad, provider, and all around great guy. He’s affectionate, loves his girls to pieces, enjoys hanging out with his family, and actually saved a binky (a pacifier) from each of our girls as a memento.

He’s generous, quick to give of his resources, and wants only the best for not only us but for his extended family as well. Part of the reason I fell in love with this guy was because of his big and wonderful family. 

He’s patient, even-keeled, passionate about his interests, loves his work, and is constantly stretching his mind.

Shortly after I read this, he brought me a yellowed piece of paper with big child-like letters, written by our oldest daughter when she was about five years old. He’s still a big softy...and more. I love watching what God is doing all around my husband and how he responds without even realizing it. I see the calling on his life now and the love of God already flows through him in ways that surprise me.

My friends, I want to challenge you today to make a list about your spouse. Write down all the positive qualities you see in him or her. Then hold this before God and praise Him for creating your spouse to be that person. And ask God to show you more of what He’s placed in him or her to add to your list. Don’t be surprised if this becomes new inspiration in how to pray for him or her. 

And feel free to share in the comments. We can have a little “brag-fest” and inspire one another with our hopes and prayers for our loved ones.

SUMites, we hold great hope for ourselves in our growing intimacy with God. We can hold that same hope for our spouses as well and trust God to bring them into that hope of Jesus in His perfect timing.

Lord Jesus, thank You for creating us and holding us together with Your amazing and complete love. Thank You that You do this for our spouses too. I pray for fresh eyes for every SUMite to see his or her spouse through Your lens of love and grace. Reveal the “gold” you’ve placed in them so that we can be part of calling it forth. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, my friends! My prayers are joining with yours.
Dineen

(P.S. I will be in Nashville next week for the annual American Christian Fiction Writes conference. Woohoo! I get to spend the week hanging out with fun people who have characters talking in their heads (just kidding...well mostly...). See you on the 30th!)

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Growing Up a Marriage

GrowingUpMarriageWhat if nurturing a marriage is like nurturing a child?

The question entered my thoughts as I sat next to my hubby in the car, comfortable and confident that he would take us to our next destination well. I began to contemplate the journey of a marriage. Like the birth of a child, a marriage has similar beginnings. The first inkling of love starts (conception) and a relationship begins to form (the embryo).

With time the nature of the relationship is made clear as to whether it will grow into a marriage (It’s a girl! It’s a boy!). Then the big day comes—the WEDDING! (The birth!), and thus come the adjustments to living life as two (or three—one a wee…).

My friends, my contemplations came as a bit of a revelation as I pondered. We would never raise a child with the expectation of instant perfection from the moment of birth. Yet why do we step into marriage with a similar expectation that from the moment we say, “I do,” everything should be perfect? And if it’s not, we question the marriage.

I know I did this in the early part of my marriage, because I bought the world’s depiction of what love and marriage were supposed to be. And when conflicts cropped up, which are inevitable in any relationship that include people, I wondered if I’d made a mistake. Or did we make sense…

The reality is, a marriage has to grow up. 

When a child is born, we don’t expect her or him to be a fully functioning adult. There is no “add water, stir and voile!” instant adult! Ready to go and tackle the world! There are stages to raising a child from birth and nurturing him or her to adulthood.

What if marriage is the same way? 

Those early years when we’re trying to figure out how everything works and how to live together—what if those are like the infancy and “terrible twos” of toddlerhood? 

The challenges of agreeing on how to manage and delegate daily life—finances, home, children. Makes me think of chicken pox and kindergarten. Grade school and braces. Homework, and “who kisses the skinned knee this time, honey?”

Bigger issues come that push the boundaries of the two becoming one and staying one. Now that sounds like a teenager in the works, if there ever was one. Do you agree?

With age and few gray hairs come the journey of growing older (not old) and appreciating the rhythm of life. Children have become teens have become adults. New journeys about to be conceived and birthed…

And with them the understanding that the marriage is still growing, taking shape (hopefully not too many pounds bigger) and evolving to the next stage of living live as two. A process ever changing and shifting with each stage of life.

And as we watch our children grow, bloom and become the people God created them to be, we can do the same with our marriages, appreciating each stage, even the pimply ones full of drama and tears to the ones encapsulated with the simple holding of hands in the car as we drive along to the next destination.

Just some of my contemplations in an ordinary day, my friends, as I appreciate all that my husband and I have overcome and walked together, and look forward to what’s to come. 

May God bless you with some deep and joy-filled contemplations today as well, SUMites! 

Love you!
Dineen

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Lord of the Harvest

15753952_sHe said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

My friends, I don’t know if you remember me sharing in June of 2013 a dream God gave me, which I believe was a precursor to our salvation word this year and what’s to come. There are several pieces to this that the Holy Spirit is showing me, and I am excited to share with you. So let’s start with a refresher of that dream and then pray in this harvest!

May 2013 (date of dream)

I was half awake, half asleep, but the dream was very vivid. I stood before a tall cornfield—taller than me. Jesus stood next to me.

He gestured to the crop and said, "This is the Great Harvest.”

I said, "Lord, I can't see past this, can you show me more?”

Suddenly I was up higher and could see tall mountains in the far distance. The crop spanned all the way to the mountains!

At the time I found it very curious that I saw corn in this dream as opposed to wheat. With some investigation and research, I discovered that the Bible references to grain can mean either corn or wheat and are often connected with oil and wine.

“From the dew of heaven and the richness of the earth, may God always give you abundant harvests of grain and bountiful new wine. — Genesis 27:28

Isaac said to Esau, “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?” — Genesis 27:37

“If you carefully obey all the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil. He will give you lush pastureland for your livestock, and you yourselves will have all you want to eat. — Deut. 11:13-15

Look at this Scripture from Joel, which is part of God’s promise of restoration:

The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. — Joel 2:24

Grain and wine were such integral parts of the Israelites lives and culture that it makes complete sense that Jesus would use bread and wine to bring such powerful symbolism, connection and power to what we practice today as communion.

And harvest time is always about prosperity, provisions and promise—of abundant life. The Old Testament displayed this in the physical sense first through manna and then provision from the promised land. Jesus took this provision of physical sustenance and connected it to our spiritual need as well. 

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. — John 6:35

Now recently several SUMites have shared stories of how their spouses have walked away from their faith either on this blog or on our 1Peter3Living Yahoo group. My friends, I can’t tell you how deeply this grieved me. These are the stories that break my heart and bring me to tears before God. 

And that is what I did one day last week. It made no sense to me in light of the promises God has been sharing with me—with all of us. I went to Him in tears and asked, “Lord, what is going on? You’ve promised us salvation and even shown me this is coming. Have I missed something, not prayed enough? Is the enemy winning this battle?”

I saw only two possibilities, but our God of the impossible replied with His, “I’m revealing the greater glory.”

Dear friends, my tears turned to laughter as the Holy Spirit whispered this to my heart, “The prodigals are being called back and the unbelievers are being drawn in.”

Our Papa God is so good! He’s bringing our loved ones to His Son just as Jesus said He would. 

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” — John 6:44

SUMites, I believe this with all my heart, soul, mind and spirit! Will you pray with me?

We praise You, Mighty Lord Jesus, for You are the bread and wine to our lives, our souls and our spirits. Thank You for giving this provision to our spouses too! Lord, send the workers needed for this Great Harvest. Send people into our midst to reveal Your presence and love to our pre-believers. Reveal and show that love to them through us, for we are Your workers too, Lord! 

Lord Jesus, there is Resurrection Life in all You do. We ask for this resurrection life to be released over our pre-believers, our lives, our marriages, our children and every place in our lives where dry bones need to be called back to life. Breathe Your breath of life over all of us. We call these dry places to life, in the Saving and Life-Resurrecting Name of Jesus. 

Lord Jesus, we ask for vengeance against the enemy and the demonic for all they have stolen from us, the SUMites, from our pre-believers, from our children and even from our ancestors. We ask for full recompense and restoration of what has been lost and stolen (Isa. 35).

Lord, call in the harvest of our pre-believers and prodigals. Bring them to You, Lord, every single one of them. Lord Jesus, when You walked this earth, every person who came to You was healed. We present our prodigals and pre-believers to You like the man lowered through the roof and ask that every single one be saved and healed. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, SUMites!
Dineen

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Righting Wrongs or do we?

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Photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I rushed out of the company’s lobby and hopped into a vacant taxi, a bevy of emotions bursting within me: shock, anger, hurt, disappointment and confusion. But surprisingly, genuine peace. I called Fiona and shared the news. Her response was also mixed. Could see the positives but the immediate financial impact wasn’t ideal.

That morning, I had left to meet my client expecting to receive a letter of employment whilst driving north to Newcastle (a two hour trip) to meet a prospective supplier.

My client, the CEO and Sales Director, were running late, having flown in from Melbourne. They rushed past me towards the main lobby reception with only a curt hello saying we needed to have a meeting before we left for our Newcastle appointment. Little eye contact and both visibly tense.

There was clearly something going on and I had to play catch-up. Once in the meeting room, it was obvious that something unpleasant was about to take place. And who was to be the recipient.

It was all over in fifteen minutes.

I stood up, emotion gripping my throat, handed them the details of the Newcastle appointment and sincerely wished both of them the best of luck.

I’d just been fired.

Shocked more by what was said and how than by losing my job. I was stunned by some of the accusations the CEO made; it was beyond “its just business”, it was very personal.

On returning home I moped around, made a few calls to people, and then sensed I should pray. Surprisingly, I prayed for the CEO, for blessing for him, for his family and business.

And what a salve it was to my aching heart.

Payback

We’ve all had those moments. Tremendously hurtful actions and/or words that often create a deep, deep wound in our heart. To minimize it’s crippling effect we may desire payback. Words, actions, abuse, rejection, you know the drill. Our pain leads us to inflict pain back. It can feel good, can’t it? Like cool water applied to sunburn. But it soothes only momentarily. The pain of that wound can go deep and linger for a long time.

It hurts. Really hurts.

David and King Saul

We’re all familiar with David’s story. Anointed as a teenager as the future king of Israel by the prophet Samuel David had to serve the current king, Saul. For thirteen years.

Saul soon became threatened by David’s popularity and went on a mission to have him killed. David fled as most normal people would when a maniacal king wanted your head on a platter.

David and his men spent much time hiding in caves for safety and on one occasion his tormentor and pursuer, Saul, entered the same cave to relieve himself. The king was completely oblivious to the fact he had an audience in the shadows.

David’s men encouraged him to take the opportunity to slay the king. He’d never have a better chance. And then he could assume his God-ordained role as king.

But David refused. He did, however, sneak up behind the king and cut a piece of his robe off. Even this troubled David. He was such an honorable man, even to the one who was trying to kill him.

When Saul was some distance from the cave, David called out to him and showed him the piece of robe:

“Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it. Let the Lord judge between you and me, and let the Lord avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you. After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? Therefore let the Lord be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case, and deliver me out of your hand.” (1 Samuel 24:11-15; NKJV)

What graciousness.

Saul wept on hearing David’s words. He was torn between doing the right thing and saving his title.

Infection

Often when we’ve been mistreated we allow the wound to linger. We may have struck back but that doesn’t actually bring healing, simply a momentary release.

I’ve always been susceptible to bullies, mainly of the verbal kind. I’m someone who in a threatening situation can be slow to framing the right response and before I know it the pain has been inflicted. By the time I’m ready to say something that’s intelligent and not hurtful back, the moment’s gone.

The hurt lingers. And grows like infection spreads in your body if untreated.

“It [love] does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” (1 Corinthians 13:5; NLT)

Fairness

Yes, being treated poorly, being bullied, being mistreated, is unfair. Very unfair. In all our humanness we believe we have the right to justice, getting even.

But that’s why grace is so amazing.

Grace is totally and completely undeserved. That’s the point of it.

I’m not suggesting we simply roll over and allow ourselves to be continually mistreated.

Sharing our pain with the Lord is so important. Give it to Him. Everytime. He understands. Jesus death on the cross was terribly unfair. He didn’t deserve to be punished, ridiculed and killed.

The Cross.

There’s grace at the cross. Always. Everytime.

Are you struggling with anger or deep hurt from being mistreated, bullied or simply misunderstood? I know a blog post like this doesn’t go anywhere near solving it but I know going to the cross does.

God knows our pain. And He knows how to heal it. Share it with Him and ask Him to heal it. Sit in the silence with Him. He is the silence. Allow Him to minister to you. (Ps 46:10)

If you feel able do share it with us below so we can pray over you.

Grace and peace, dear Sumites.

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Friday Prayer: No More Striving!

Lord Jesus, I pray in Your powerful name that the spirit of striving would be broken off every one of us in this SUM family. We declare we are free of all striving, set free by the blood of Jesus, and made and kept free by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Holy Spirit, we give You permission to overwhelm us with Your presence and remind us anytime we begin to strive that we have nothing to prove or gain as we already have everything in our identity and inheritance in Jesus Christ. Thank You, Abba Father, that we belong to You. That we are in Christ and He is in You. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Love you so much, SUMites! You're amazing!
Dineen

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Guest Post: Follow Me by Dee Rusnak

Steps“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26

I totally get where the Israelites were coming from in yearning to be like those around them, even to the point of desiring a king (1 Samuel 8:5). They were a very small nation, the "runt" of sorts among everyone else in the entire world. To them the outside world was the norm.

Yet, God set them apart to belong to Him in His very own way, making them unique, one of a kind, chosen to follow Him like no other. Runts were the smallest or weakest ones compared to the others in the litter. They didn't live long, expensive to care for, and pretty much worthless. That's why most farmers euthanized the runts - more out of an act of kindness to the struggling animal.

In the book Charlotte's Web, the farmer's daughter begs her father not to kill the runt of the litter of piglets, Wilber. Not only was Wilber on the chopping block, but was snubbed by other barnyard animals because of his size. He is befriended by a spider named Charlotte, who weaves words of praise for Wilber so others can see him differently and not be slaughtered. He became renown because of her words and his life was spared.

In Judges 6 we read about Gideon, who thought of himself as the "runt" of the tribe of Manasseh. The Angel of the Lord called him a mighty warrior and sent him to save Israel out of the enemy's hand. "But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." The Lord encouraged him, "I will be with you." Gideon had to believe what God said about him instead of thinking of his own limitations, and he followed.

I struggled with the path God had chosen for me with this mismatched marriage thing. None of my Christian friends have spouses who are unbelievers. Just me, and I often felt small, the runt among those in my church. My mindset was that if only my husband were saved, then I can be like everyone else. What I failed to see is what God has purposed for me in spite of the condition of my husband's soul.

Jesus called us at the time of salvation with His powerful words “Follow Me!” and we got up and followed. As with the small nation of Israel, as with Gideon, as with Matthew the hated tax collector, as with the ordinary fishermen, as with the adulterous woman, as with the leper, and everyone else who definitely did not appear to be the logical choice to follow, Jesus wants us to continue following Him in this very unique ministry saying “I will be with you.”

Winning our spouses without words in our own homes does not sound logical. Almost lame. Bordering on lazy. It’s not common, and few understand it. You can almost see the proverbial question marks hovering over the heads of those confused by it. When thinking of missions, imaginations carry the mind to a far away place from their own front door, while ours takes us directly behind it.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

As my retirement approached, I had it all figured out. I would dive into every bible study and outreach available, not only to learn, but to get me out of the house and away from my husband. The Lord had other plans and said to me, “Come with Me by yourself to a desolate place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31) He showed me this barren place filled with those whose hearts were very dry and thirsty. Those with unsaved spouses who felt all alone, almost ashamed, runts of sorts, because they weren’t like everyone else in the church. That was me. I immediately dropped my agenda and followed Him to the SUM nation where everything changed.

EVERYTHING!

I found myself in this refreshing oasis of constant living waters that soothed and quenched this parched heart. I found truth, hope and encouragement at every turn that salvation for my lost husband was not an IF but a WHEN! My mission became crystal clear as the Lord took my hand and pointed to the one who sleeps beside me every night whispering go there!

God sees no one as “normal” or as a“runt.” We are His precious children, His very own whom He cherishes and treasures, His workmanship set apart for His extraordinary plan (Ephesians 2:10). He established an online ministry and set two remarkable women at the helm. Dineen and Lynn have spent the last 10 years gathering all of us who are in this same EXCEPTIONAL situation – a spiritually unequal marriage – while nurturing us with the Word of God to dispel the lies, giving us hope in our desolate valley, camaraderie in our loneliness, determination in an unfamiliar ministry, understanding in our confusion, and great love in our thirsty hearts.

Here we can be ourselves, sharing, confessing, praying, blessing, and encouraging each other. I’m convinced that the Lord plans to bring more and more SUMites out of the woodwork and into the church pews where God is preparing us to minister for that very scenario. We were chosen for such a time as this. And, on that day when we step aside and watch all the lost souls come valiantly to Christ, we will all triumphantly praise God for initiating, establishing, and setting in motion this vital ministry of winning them without words!

“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.” Romans 15:5

 

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

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Foundations Series: INHERITANCE & IDENTITY

HeartDear friends, in this foundations series we’ve talked about the foundational truths of salvation, love, hope, faith and specifically God’s love. That one seems to be the one I keep coming face to face with. I’ve grappled with the full truth of God’s complete love for us and now God is connecting me to others that need the same truth. As desperate as I was for this truth to come to full bloom in my heart, spirit, soul and mind (something that is still happening even now), I am even more desperate for others to know it and find myself hating the enemy for stealing this truth from us. And I am not one to use the word “hate” lightly. 

SUMites, I honestly didn’t plan to write more on this subject, but it is a very near and dear subject to my heart. Most likely because this was a huge struggle for me, one that nearly made me want to give up on trying to be a Christian. And that is exactly what I’ve had to do—let go of trying to be a Christian and simply live in the truth of who I am in Christ and the truth that God really and truly loves me. It’s a very freeing place to be!

God loves us because that is who He is and He chose us. And all that God has for us comes from His love for us, including Jesus. When we struggle in that truth and continue to believe the lies the enemy throws at us that say, “God is angry with me, I can’t please God no matter what I do, or there is no way God can work through me,” we aren’t living in the truth of God’s love for us. And His love is a foundational truth of our inheritance and our identity, which are intertwined and inseparable—another mystery of God.

So, let’s talk about what these words mean, because I know my journey to understanding required a choice and a question.

  1. I chose to believe the truth of God’s Word that told me He loves me and that nothing can separate His love from me (Romans 8) and to go after the lies and the feelings that told me otherwise. As I did this, intentionally capturing every thought and bringing it before Jesus (2 Cor. 10:5), my thinking changed and the truth that was in my heart finally came to sit on the throne of my intellect. Along with Jesus!
  2. I asked what did this mean for me in terms of identity and inheritance. These are words we see used a lot, but I’m not sure we fully understand their meanings. So that is where I am now with the goal to bring deeper understanding and wisdom of what this truly means for us.

In the Old Testament, the Lord called Israel His inheritance and in Ezekiel 44 God declares that He is the inheritance and possession of the Levitical priests.

whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.” — Isaiah 19:25 (ESV)

“This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession.” — Ezekiel 44:28 (ESV) 

When God spoke to Jeremiah of His plan to restore Israel, He said of their enemies that they “have filled My inheritance with their abominations.” 

Now this I find so fascinating—when we look at inheritance in the New Testament, we see that the saints (that’s us—all believers) are Jesus’ inheritance. The Israelites were symbolic of what was to come—the fulfillment of God’s plan for a people set apart and made holy through the final blood sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus. And as the Levitical priests were set apart, so too are we set apart as the inheritance of Jesus through salvation.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. — 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. — Ephesians 1:18 (NLT)

Again, I’m fascinated with the symbolic and prophetic connections between the Old and New Testaments. God intended to build a strong example of legacy and inheritance, because what He had in store for us was the ultimate inheritance in Jesus—our identity as children of God. The Israelites learned about inheritance through the possession of the promised land. We learn about inheritance through our “possession" of the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God. Both are given as rights of ownership (co-heirs with Christ) through the love and bequeathal of God.

Okay, my friends, I will stop here for now and let you digest this a bit. On Thursday I will continue this search for understanding of inheritance and identity and how they are so very much inseparable. Until then, be sure to come back tomorrow for a beautiful guest post from a fellow SUMite. 

And please share your thoughts in the comments. What has Jesus shown you about His love and your inheritance and identity in Him? I can’t wait to read your comments. 

Love you!
Dineen

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Foundations Series: GOD'S LOVE

God's love is complete. Jesus made sure of that at the cross. So if God did that in order to love us that way, why would He be angry with us or withhold His goodness from us? Something to think about. The truth always turns the lie upside down.
Love you, my friends!
Dineen

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Foundations Series: FAITH, HOPE, LOVE

GodsLoveMy friends, how are you doing? There’s a lot going on in the world right now that is discouraging and heartbreaking. The more I watch how God is working in our community here; at the healing rooms as we pray Jesus’ truth into hearts, lives and bodies; through the connections and bridges I see Him building and creating between all of us—the more I understand His heart for us to know these foundational truths. Our foundations need to be firmly built in His truth.

And, SUMites, perhaps it sounds a bit trite and cliché because it’s been said so many times, but we are not of this world. We live in it, we have a mission and a purpose here, but God’s plans, purposes and HIS PROMISES go way beyond the now and span all of eternity. In other words, He’s got us covered. We can rest in the reassurances He’s given us and walk in the truth of Who He is and who we are in Him. That’s our identity—another part of this foundation series I sense is coming.

Today’s foundational truth is found in a verse we know well, and Paul is the scribe who wrote these words of God’s truth.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. — 1 Corinthians 13:13

As I sought Holy Spirit’s help to understand what He wants us all to understand about this truth is that these three are like the Trinity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit. They cannot stand alone as they are part of the whole. 

Love is, as Paul says, there greatest of these three and represents the God-head.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  — 1 John 4:16

Hope represents Jesus, who is the hope of the world. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. — 1 Peter 1:3

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, — 1 Timothy 1:1

When I did a search for the word “hope” throughout the Bible, Psalms had the most references, but can you guess which book came next? The book of Job. Did you know that in the Old Testament the words hope and wait are used interchangeable because the Hebrew word is the same? And in the New Testament the definitions for the various forms of the Greek word for “hope” used always included the definition “joyful and confident expectation”?

Which then sheds a whole new light on this verse:

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross… — Hebrews 12:2

Faith is representative of the Holy Spirit, whose highest purpose is to teach us about Jesus and grow the seed of faith we are given when we received salvation. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. — Ephesians 2:8-10

Like the three fold cord spoken of in Ecc 4:12, faith, hope and love are intertwined and purposed to function as a whole. The real clue, amazingly, came when I looked up that fascinating word, abide

menō — to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), to wait for.

Without love, hope and faith lack the soil for their roots to grow deep and strong. Without hope, love wanes and faith dies. Without faith, love shrivels and hope fades. My friends, as a wordsmith of sorts I find it very difficult to fully explain this mystery for a mystery it truly is.

What I do know is that God’s love is the substance, the birthing place, of miracles. That hope is a divine expectation of God’s love to overcome and save. That faith holds love and hope in the birthing room of those miracles with great tenacity and perseverance. 

The entire Bible is about these three words, because the Bible is about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And these three words embody the heart of God.  

Perhaps the mystery isn’t so mysterious at all and is simply and ultimately a decision to believe the Truth (Jesus) and trust and look for God in every part of our lives. We are not meant to live our faith only during our quiet time with God and church attendance, but as part of every aspect of our lives. To do otherwise keeps God in a box and leaves us disappointed. But to live the abundant life, full of God’s love, hope and faith brings joy, peace and prosperity.

Faith, hope and love. Love is the greatest, the most powerful force on this earth. And all we have to do is ask for it, my friends. Ask God to overwhelm and flood us with His love so that it pours out all around us. Ask Him to love others through us. Ask Him to show us how He loves others and do likewise. There is no set formula, no pattern, no correct way to do this. Just simply follow His lead. He’s an expert!

I love you, SUMites, with the love of God, with the hope of Jesus and with the devotion of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord drench you with His amazing love and renew your spirit. In the name of Jesus, amen!
Dineen

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Friday Prayer: God's Heart for Our Loved Ones and His Church

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