299 posts categorized "Love"

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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


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!

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


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!)

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


Righting Wrongs or do we?

ID-100152324
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.

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


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!

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


Foundations Series: SALVATION

SalvationHello my dear friends. I just love the Scriptures you’re sending in response to my post on Tuesday. Thank you for sharing your treasures with me. I’m so blown away by your stories of how God is moving! I will be writing these precious Scriptures on the beams of our house and holding them close in my heart and prayers as I stand with you. God is so good and so amazing! 

This next foundational truth—salvation—seems pretty obvious, my friends, but I feel like Abba wants us to understand there is more to it than what we think. So much more that we can comprehend actually. And it’s all about Him.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. — Isaiah 55:8-9

Yes, God’s thought are not ours. They are pure, perfect and all encompassing. All-encompassing—that right there blows me away when I contemplate (or attempt to) the depth of God’s heart and thoughts toward us, let alone His relentless and enduring love. How His plans are always for good and how He works things out for our good no matter how complicated they are or how many people are involved. He’s magnificent!

So, here’s what has my heart burning about the foundational truth of salvation, SUMites. We know what this word has meant to our own lives and we hold it like a hidden treasure, pursued by our prayers for our loved ones to know its precious worth as well.

First let’s take a look at another Scriptural truth (I’m a big fan of 2 Peter 3:9) that addresses God’s desire that ALL people would be saved.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. — 1 Timothy 2:1-6

The word saved here in Greek is sōzō and means to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): — heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole. 

1. to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction: A. one (from injury or peril) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health. B. to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue to save in the technical biblical sense negatively to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment, to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance.

That’s a lot of meaning. Normally I try to bring out just the key parts but this one is so full of meaning that I find to be “all-encompassing” so I’ve included the full definition according to Strong’s.

Now here is what I sensed Abba speaking to my spirit. We wait for the moment of salvation, we pray into it, anticipate it, and at times even despair of it ever happening. Yet God waits for the heart of the one He pursues and as He waits, He builds, prepares, woos, establishes, equips, prepares, celebrates and rejoices. We may not see Him, but that doesn't mean He's not there.

In other words, my friends, salvation is so much more than a moment. And its process begins long before we are ever aware of it. As Scriptures says, it is the Father who draws us to the Son (John 6:44 & 65). This is a mystery we don’t fully understand but know to be true. Abba Father sets into motion His great plan according to His wise timing.

And looking at the full meaning of sōzō, we see something that is much more than a moment. It’s about building. It’s about preparing the ground for the framework, laying down the rebar and materials to make the foundation solid and able to support the rest of the structure—all this before the concrete is even poured. 

Yes, my friends, in our time of waiting and praying, God is working to build the foundation so that when the rest of the structure is built, it will stand with integrity and truth. It’s a process that is done with such care and intentionality.

After the foundation of our house was completed, they discovered an error in the blueprints. If not corrected the foundation under the stairs would not be sound. The process was stalled for a time to figure out how best to correct the foundation to make it right. Two areas of the cement had to be cut out, reinforced and re-poured.

At times we feel this kind of delay in our loved one’s journey to salvation. We question what’s happened so far and doubt. Wonder if we misunderstood. But what if that’s simply a time that God is reinforcing the foundation so that the structure to come will stand strong? What if we shifted our prayers along those lines, asking Abba, “What needs to be covered with prayer as the process continues?” Or to simply ask Jesus, “What are you doing now? What can I be doing to partner with You?”

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. — Philippians 2:12-13

For even after the “moment” we come to the truth of Jesus, the process must continue so that we become more and more like Him. What joy is it to walk in salvation and not reflect the image of the Gift Bearer? What sense is there in the seed of the tree that remains a seed and never reaches its full potential to grow deep roots and tall branches to bring life and shade to the world it inhabits?

My dear friends, salvation is so much more than the solution to the question of heaven or hell. It is life, the very breath of God, intended to fill us, save us, heal us, restore us and love us beyond reason. It is all-encompassing for our every need that is designed to bring wholeness to our past, present and future.

I don’t confess to full comprehend the full ramification of the word “salvation” that is simply nine letters, yet encompasses the entire heart of our Creator. He doesn’t expect us to either, my friends. He simply asks us to believe. Trust. Love.

And this is where I will leave us today, my friends, with the prayer that the all-encompassing truth will firmly solidify in the foundation of our faith and the ones we are contending for. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Don’t miss my prayer video tomorrow. Next week, more foundational truths and a reader question I know will speak to your heart for your marriage. 

Love you so very, very much, SUMites!
Dineen 

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


The Power of Love in a Confusing World

ID-100209394
Photo courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Another week has passed with more terrorism in Turkey and Iraq, more confusion in Britain over Brexit and here down under we didn’t get a winner in the Federal election that was held over the weekend (it’s still too close to call!)

As Lynn so positively pointed out in her last post a week or so ago, we don’t need to be afraid. Nor do we need to let this confusion, turmoil and uncertainty rattle us.

When I read Lynn’s post on my Monday it brought me back to the message my pastor shared with us over that weekend titled: “Face your Fears.” His message had some powerful content that I thought would provide additional encouragement for us all.

Fear and the Fall

Interesting he started by outlining fear started the very moment sin entered the world. Remember what Adam and Eve first did when God came looking for them? They tried to hide and were ashamed of their nakedness.

“The root of every fear is the deep awareness in your soul that through sin you are separate from God.
”

But as a result of Jesus life and death He has provided an escape from fear by removing that separation from God. Hallelujah!

Set Free from Fear

The answer to fear is a greater fear; the fear of God.

I think I’m only really beginning to understand that statement. In being in awe of God and all he has done for us, all of a sudden He becomes very BIG and our fears don’t seem as big.

Fear is a spirit. But as we know from 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, of love and of a sound mind.”

I love that verse. We have the Spirit inside us and He’s all powerful.

And He loves us like crazy.

My pastor outlined three steps to being set free from fear.

1. Face the Fear – don’t walk away from it. Call it out and hand it to Jesus. Counter it with the Word of God. Use that sword of the spirit Dineen prayed over us on Friday. I have one or two key verses that I use to do this, eg, Isaiah 41:10.

2. Pray desperately – often we can pray for the “fear” to go, eg, the circumstance we’re facing to disappear but in praying desperately the situation may not change but we become acutely aware of His presence. As Ann Voskamp says:

“We simply want our situation solved – when God simply wants to be the answer.”

And that takes the sting out of fear.

3. Make a move – one of the sound bites that particularly grabbed me from Mark’s message was:

“Your fear is living in the territory God wants for you.”

But the enemy is trying to stop us from claiming our territory. So our fear paralyses us. Our health, or our marriage, or our job, or friendships don’t improve.

Taking a step in faith to claim that territory reject the fear. And God meets us there. A miracle can only occur when we make a move.

Love Conquers Fear

I heard this lovely story a few days ago. My friend’s son is in London, England at the moment and he is living in share accommodation. On the night the Brexit vote was declared he and his friends were confused and a little perturbed by the outcome.

There was a knock on the door. Standing at the door were their neighbors who they didn’t really know. They were holding dinner in their hands and suggested they all sit down and have a meal together. So Chris welcomed them inside and they all shared a meal together which helped Chris and his friends feel better about what was going on. The neighbors were Muslims and as it was still Ramadan they shared their evening meal with Chris and his friends.

What a lovely story, don’t you think?

Grace and peace, dear friends.

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


Foundations Series: An Introduction

FeetSUMites, how is your summer going? Have you seen God moving and working around you? I call those shifts because sometimes I can feel them in my spirit, like something is shifting to a new level. 

And how about those upgrades? What has God revealed to you there? What promises have you discovered? I am so excited about what God is doing in my life and yours, my friends. I wish we could all sit down together and share these amazing stories. 

Oh wait! We’ll get to do that in heaven, won’t we? And I have a feeling we’ll be too excited to sit. LOL!

We’re going to do some exploring in the month of July about foundational truths. I also have some guest posts I’m excited to share with you, a reader question about intimacy that I will share my reply and some other surprises I’m still working on. Summer fun!

The Holy Spirit has me in “expectant learning” mode, which means He wants to teach and show me specific things. The first thing He said was, “Let’s talk about hope.” I said okay, let’s talk! I’m still waiting for Him to get started on that one.

Then in the last week or so, I’ve been hearing and seeing the word “foundations” in my spirit. Holy Spirit spoke to me about it in the middle of the night, helping me understand that Abba wants us to be firmly established (grounded) in some foundational truths—His words in answer to my request for better understanding. And then the next morning He confirmed this with one of the first emails I read that had the word “FOUNDATION” in bold caps. The reference was to a font product but was clearly God’s way of leading me forward. Love it when He does that.

Later that same morning as I sat in my favorite chair by the big window in my office, coffee in hand, I asked Abba for more clarity. What did He want me to know? 

He said, “I am building foundations in every heart.” 

So today, let’s talk about what this word, foundation, means in the Bible. I researched this word in both the Old and New Testaments but felt God wanted us to focus on two more common uses in the New Testament. 

First, let’s look at one of these uses in Matthew:

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” — Matthew 25:34

In this verse, the Greek word for foundation is katabolé and holds meanings such as laying down a foundation, figuratively to conception and conceiving as with seeds (plants and animals). “Foundation” here refers to the creating of the world but also references our inheritance. We’ll come back to that as we move along in this series.

Now, let’s take a look at a familiar parable in Luke:

“Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” — Luke 6:48-49

The Greek word used here for foundation is themelios and means laid down as a foundation of a building, wall, or city. And metaphorically means beginnings, first principals as of an institution or system of truth. This is where I believe God wants to take us in “building foundations in our hearts,” my friends.

And as He’s revealed more to me, I’ve come to see He is using the house my husband and I are building here in Sarasota to help me understand His heart behind all this. He created me after all, so He knows I am a very visual person.

That cute feet picture up there is my husband and I standing on the freshly poured foundation of our house. I didn’t know then that God would tell me to pull this picture out for this series, yet as I’ve stated before, He is absolutely brilliant and awe-inspiring.

And we marked this foundations with our initials, to lay our claim, to establish our ownership (inheritance) in this place. How cool is that?

Initials
Our initials in the cement...

Well, my friends, there is something in this foundation story that includes you. It’s a surprise I’ve held for months waiting for God to tell me when to reveal it. And that is where I will continue next week with the next installment of this Foundation Series. I anxiously await for Holy Spirit to continue showing me what we are to learn in this. We will be exploring faith, hope, love, salvation and inheritance. Pray for me to listen intently and not miss anything, my friends. He’s already showed me the foundational truth about salvation. And it is amazing!

Have an amazing 4th of July, SUM family! I know our nation is in a odd place, as are many countries right now. There’s that shifting thing again. God is working in answer to our prayers to make sense of what we are seeing that doesn’t make sense right now. Remember, God said things won’t look the way we expect. I believe that applies here too. Pray faithfully in whatever place God has put you, SUMites. Your prayers are a powerful part of this change and shift!

Love you dearly!
Dineen

 

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


Part Four: The Promised Provision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you, SUMites!
~Dineen

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


Consuming Fears About our Children

2 timothy 1 7On Friday I shared some truths about stepping out of this curse of the fear of man. Growing in our faith was the first truth I shared and leads to victorious living. Our faith growth, learning and living out of God’s Truths is what I stand upon every day. I’ve become a ROCK, a house built upon stone and not sand (Matt 7:24). Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, I spend quality time with God. There is no agenda, like completing a Bible study assignment. It’s just me, my Bible, a journal and my Lord. Ahhhhhhh, bliss!

I will never stop preaching about the absolute need to spend time alone with the Lord. It is out of my intimacy with the Trinity that I can walk in victory, laughter, adventure, joy and hope…. Every… single…. Day. Hallelujah!

With that said, I promised last week to share a little about fear we hold as parents. When I speak or pray for moms who are parenting small children, I hear this over and over again., “I’m so scared something is going to happen to them. I’m afraid they will get hurt or that I’m not doing a good job raising them. I’m terrified they will die.”

Oh how my heart breaks to see their faces distorted by this kind of fear.

This is what I say to them.

Do you believe that God loves your children more than you do?

Of course they do, however if we are being honest, they also doubt.

I can promise you that God has amazing plans for your children. Each of them. He delights when they wake up every morning and it’s God who stands with them when they are playing on the playground or in their room or at preschool. I want you to pray with me this prayer:

Jesus, today I truly place each of my kids in your hands. I ask you to surround them with warrior angels that will travel with them all of their lives to protect them and also to guide them. Jesus, today I release this fear I’ve held in my heart that something terrible will happen to them. I say I will trust you and I ask you to give me wisdom and discernment when I do need to step in to protect but that I would also know through Your Holy Spirit when I can let loose and allow them to explore, create, take risks and discover this amazing world and life You have given them.

They are your children and I will pray protection over them every day, by name. And then I will trust you to walk with them and give them the abundant life. In Your powerful name, Jesus. AMEN

You may ask me, “Lynn, what if something does happen to them?”

My friends, we can always find a million reasons to fear. But why pick up anxiety, nurse it and nurture it when we don’t need to. If a day comes and my children suffer, you can bet this praying mama will ring the ears off my Papa God in intercession for them. Listen to what Jesus says about this:

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. —Matthew 6:34

My friends, some of the worst things we will ever have to deal with are the fears about things that actually never happen. Don’t waste your time in fear. Today, pray and commit your children into the care of Christ. Then laugh with them, take them for ice cream, go outside and make mud pies or play in the sand or just be silly. Take them on adventures that they will never forget.

That’s the kind of life I live every day with my Father. Every day is a wild adventure with the King!

Have a blast. Love you, Lynn

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


My Arrogance—A lesson Learned by Pam Anderson

CoupleholdinghandsMy Arrogance—A lesson Learned

Arrogance is defined by one online dictionary as: an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people.

Recently, Lynn wrote a powerful and thought provoking post called “I Created Bitterness-A Weird Confession."  Well, I have a similar confession. A while back, God revealed to me that I had become a hindrance to my husband. I was causing him bitterness toward God.  Why?  Because of my arrogance.

You see, my husband has always been a very spiritual man, not religious, but spiritual. A seeking man. He has a very strong belief in God, but his relationship with God is different than mine.  I realize now when I recommitted my life to Christ 10 years ago, I went on a journey that didn't consider him, and the message I conveyed to my husband was that I was better than him. To him, it was devastating, and caused him great bitterness—he felt as though I left him. He felt that the rug that represented our dreams, hopes and future, had been pulled out from under him. And looking back now, I see how my actions and words caused him to feel that way.

I am thankful God has opened my eyes to my arrogance.  God has shown me that He is working not only in, but THROUGH, my husband and I need to get out of His way—Now!

So I embarked on a new journey with my husband. I’ve started asking him his thoughts on certain spiritual concepts and scripture.  I’ll say, “Do you have a minute, I’d like pass something by you and get your thoughts on it.” At first, he was surprised and skeptical; I’m sure thinking this was another way to make him wrong and try to wrangle him into seeing things “my way.” 

But God has impressed on me to listen, very closely, to what my husband is saying, assuring me that He is working THROUGH my husband! I'll tell my husband, "That's really interesting, I've never thought of it that way before," and the discussion will go into areas I never dreamed, thought, or imagined (based on Ephesians 3:20). It leads to more and more discussions.  I don't correct him; I just respect him and listen.

So recently, God reiterated this lesson He is teaching me—more like He hit me upside my head!  I had just stopped reading a book, because it said Jesus was a prophet. I thought this would be a good discussion opportunity for us, so I asked him what he thought. Are you ready for this?  My husband says, “I can’t believe you’re even asking me this.  The Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God, not a prophet—that’s who He is!” 

I just stared at my husband, in awe! But here’s the crazy part—this is what my husband has always believed. But I didn’t give it the credit it was due.  Why?   I was blinded by my arrogance! Because he was not acting the way, or saying the things, or doing the things “I” thought he should (ugggh…).

Prior to this spiritual awakening God is currently doing in ME, I was NOT being a sweet aroma to my husband. Instead of seeing me as a loving, respectful wife and friend, he saw me as judgmental and arrogant, things he wanted nothing to do with. I was on my high horse, snubbing my nose at my husband, instead of fostering his spiritual nature. Not intentionally, but I was, none the less. 

The fact that I thought my husband’s relationship with God had to look and feel like my relationship with God was arrogant.  In essence, I was setting out to make my husband in “my own image”! (Ouch, that hurt!)

We are at different places on our spiritual journeys; however, for the first time, I see us going the same direction! Why?  Because the poison of arrogance is no longer present in me. Our marriage is now peaceful and fun. I’m just letting God do his thing, His way, in our lives and marriage.  My husband calls it Spiritually Different versus Spiritually Unequal, and I love that.

This path is truly a humbling one, but it's filled with much hope, wonder and abundance.

Blessings in Christ,
Pam 

Pam HeadshotI worked in the healthcare industry for 25 years and walked away from an executive position to support my husband in his writing career and pursue our dreams together.  A step of faith that has taken me, and my marriage, in directions I could never have thought, asked, dreamed or imagined (Eph. 3:20).  I am humbled and in awe of God’s faithfulness.

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


The His-story of SUM

SUM10AnniversaryMy SUM family, I have felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to share how God has worked in very subtle ways to progress this ministry and the SUM family. This part of this story is probably one of my favorite parts because one, it shows how clearly God is in the smallest details and two, how subtly He can work to bring change.

When this blog first started, it was just that, a blog. Lynn and I wrote for the growing readership God was drawing here, and we referred to our spouses as unbelievers

As time progressed and readership grew, God began to change our perspective and thus our words. I remember clearly one day writing a post for the blog and sensing the Holy Spirit’s nudge to begin referring to this blog as a community. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I found it so interesting and faithfully obeyed.

Then God lifted up our dear friend Rosheeda to lead our yearly fast in January, and it was during one of those times she dubbed us the SUMites. From this also evolved the term SUM Nation.

And yet, God wasn’t finished. Holy Spirit nudged again and I found myself using the term “pre-believers.” It was a statement of faith and trust in God to do the very things His Word says.

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

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

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” — Acts 16:31

And yet again, God wasn’t finished. He’s evolved this community to become a family—the SUM family. We have become a “church without walls,” my SUM family.

And now I find myself hesitating to use the word “pre-believer” since God declared our corporate word for 2016 to be SALVATION (read that post here). Dare I say that God has another shift coming to our nomenclature? I believe He does, and I am standing in prayer and faith for this shift because I’ve no doubt it will be a big one. How does believer sound to you? I’m right there with you…

My friends, this ministry started with the desire to share with others what God had taught us. God is the one who brought this beautiful progression of faith and unity to what it is today. 

And you, SUMites, have gone from being readers and spectators to full participants and members who pray and encourage each other, including Lynn and I, right in the comments! Many of you have even forged friendships outside of this ministry. Again, how amazing is all that?!?!

I find it astoundingly beautiful. Unexplainable except for the only possible explanation. 

God—Abba Father, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit—is love. 

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. — 1 John 4:12

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

26495595_sSUM family, that is what makes us so unique. Our desire is to trust in God’s love so that our love grows more perfect—love for our spouse, love for our children, love for each other, love for the world. We know it’s not easy, yet we make this choice every day.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.. — Galatians 5:6 ESV

So, my dear friends, never forget that when we aspire to love our spouses through and with the love of Jesus (agape) we are walking in faith. And may I say, SUMite Nation, we do it well.

I love you, SUM family, and pray the joy and peace of Jesus fills your hearts today and every day, to sustain and empower you for whatever our Abba Father is calling your heart to do. In the name of Jesus, amen!
~Dineen

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


The Call to Rest

22300078_sMy friends, my search for deeper understanding of God's call to rest has brought me to some interesting places. I'm excited to share what I have discovered with you. 

As I pondered and prayed over this, Holy Spirit brought to mind first "trust" and "strength." Specifically these pieces of Scripture.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. — Proverbs 3:5-6

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." — Zechariah 4:6

I then began a search for the word "rest" in the New Testament and discovered there are at least five different Greek words used for this one word. The more obvious one would be koimēsis—to rest, recline, lay down, sleep as used in John 11:13.

Acts 7:49 and Hebrews 3:11 both use katapausis, which refers to a place of rest, the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells. Hebrews 4:8-10 uses the word, sabbatismos, which you can probably guess has to to with the Sabbath. This word holds the promise of “entering now into this rest means ceasing from the spiritual strivings that reflect uncertainty about one's final destiny; it means enjoyment of being established in the presence of God, to share in the everlasting joy that God entered when he rested on the seventh day (v. 10).” — ESV Study Bible Notes

But in Matthew 11:28-29, which is about taking Jesus’ yoke, this little word gets very interesting and takes on implications such as refreshment, freedom and salvation. This word, anapausis, comes from the word, anapauō, which means to rest, refresh, take rest, to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation and is also used in Luke 11:24 about unclean spirits seeking rest but finding none. They live in constant unrest.

Now, if I haven’t lost you (and if I have, just keep reading because this next part if the good stuff). Take a look at this nugget of Scripture.

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” — Mark 6:31

This verse comes at the point when the disciples have returned from traveling and ministering to tell Jesus about all they had done. He calls them to a time of rest to refresh and to possibly reflect (anapauō). What I find very interesting in His direction is that He calls them to a desolate place (Mark 6:30-44).

Now the meaning of this word also means isolated and solitary but even still in these definitions it holds the intent of loneliness and uninhabited. It was a desert, a place uninhabited by people. Yet as they go to this place, the multitude rushes ahead and fills this "desolate" location.

I encourage you to prayerful read this part of Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to fully bring its symbolism to your heart. I find it quite deep and exciting to reflect upon. This is what I felt Holy Spirit wanted me to see.

Even with a group of people in this place, the disciples still called it desolate. There was hunger there (not just physical), deep needs, unfulfilled desires and wants. Remember, these people lived under ether heavy religious yoke of the Pharisees. 

I can remember once years ago being with a group of people I knew yet feeling lonely in that moment and place. I believe the use of this word "desolate" was not just to describe a physical place but the spiritual state of the people thronging Jesus and the disciples. They are desperate for relief, restoration and healing in their lives.

But then something amazing happens. Jesus now tells them to do something about it. The disciples seem confused by Jesus' command, as they can only see what is there—the desolation and lack of provision.

Yet Jesus shows them that even a desolate place can be transformed to one of plenty and provision. Jesus called them to rest from their efforts and to rest in Him. They most likely expected a time to sit and physically rest. Not a lesson about true rest in Jesus, which can be so much more. That even in a time of rest, provision, growth and flourishing occurs. Healing, transformation and even miracles, such as five thousand being fed with two fish and five loaves. Just the symbolism in the bread alone, served by the “Bread of Life” is breathtaking.

And in the collection of the leftovers (vs. 43) we see that abundance. Jesus could have multiplied the fish and loaves to be just enough for the crowd, but He did more. The lesson of "rest" continued in those baskets to reveal the plenty of His provision, generosity, abundance and love. 

As the disciples served those people, I dare say they found an unexpected rest. The kind that comes from placing ourselves in the hands of our Creator and saying, "Yes, Lord, whatever you will.” That's the trust of Proverbs 3:5-6 and the strength of Zechariah 4:6 to do what we may think is beyond us—the impossible. 

So my friends, my understanding of resting in Jesus is confirmed in my heart by what I suspected and knew it to be, to trust in and rely upon Him. But now I see it as so much more. It's not just a set time apart with Him each day to grow and know Him more. It is an intentional choice to seek this constant state of mind and spirit. To trust in and rely upon Him to renew, restore, replenish, provide, guide and love us, even in our desolate places—spiritual, mental or physical—all of them.

For without Him, they are truly desolate. Jesus is the one who brings the baskets of life and love. We can bring nothing except a willing heart and spirit to receive what He has for us. Our striving can cease as we "rest" in the truth of what He has already done for us. 

And there, my friends, we find our true peace, resting in Him regardless of what conditions or situation surround us. To the naked eye the place where the five thousand ate remained a place of desolation, but the desolation in the hearts of many that day were transformed into places full of lush greenery (growth), cool waters (hope) and restoration (revival).

The Way had come into their midst to show them a better way to rest. He beckoned them then just as He beckons us today. And ours is to simply heed His call.

Love you, my friends. May we all respond to His call to go deeper with trust and a loud, “Yes, Lord!” That is my desire and longing and my heart for you.
SignatureGraphic2

 

Copyright: kwest19 / 123RF Stock Photo

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


I Created Bitterness - A Weird Confession - Chronicles of the Donovan Clan. Ouch!

So, I kinda feel like today is my confession.

This post is likely to be raw and vulnerable but someone needs this word. Or perhaps it’s only me?

Many times when I’m speaking people will ask me if I discern what God is doing in my husband’s faith life. I reply that unfortunately or perchance fortunately, God rarely gives me insight into my husband’s heart journey.

However, I pray for him every day, covering many aspects of his life, career, health, salvation, protection, etc. etc. I believe the Lord has instructed me through His Word to pray unceasingly for Him and to cover him with the promise of 1 Corinthians 7:14, which holds great power and authority as a believer married to an unsaved spouse.

However, on Easter Sunday morning, God opened up a big ole pile of revelation to me.

So weird.

Why on Sunday morning and especially why on Easter.

A rare event to be sure both the revelation and the fact that my husband attended church with myself and our daughter, Caitie. This is our selfie before church began.

Family photo Easter 2016

There are so many things I love about this photo. But the light shining directly on our heads is crazy and filled with brilliance. It’s actually dark in our rather large church auditorium.

Once again…. Weird. But wildly cool. Could this photo be reflecting the glory of God’s children? I don’t know but these are things I love to think about.

Anyhoo, moving along.

It was nearly the end of the service, the worship team took the stage and in an unusual event our pastor invited anyone to come forward who wanted to be touched by God. And many went forward. I stood, as the awesomeness of the music compelled me to worship. A minute later, my daughter stood.

My husband did not.

He remained seated…….

AND THAT’S WHEN IT HAPPENED.

I began to sense the Holy Spirit speaking to me about Mike. And Yikes, it was revelatory and profound and difficult.

It took me a few weeks to process what God revealed in that moment. I have wrestled with the information and I have grieved. And I have apologized.

A week or so ago, I was on the loveseat and my husband on the couch. I looked over at him and started our conversation, “I need to tell you something.” Most men panic when they hear this.

“Don’t panic. I just need to say something and can you just hear me out?”

Hesitantly, “O, -kay.”

“I recently realized that I have caused you to become bitter toward God. I didn’t mean to do it and I’m grieved that this has happened.” I watch his face; he’s listening but guarded.

“I’ve come to realize that it could be due to the ministry in which I’m leading or perhaps because of my need for healing and turning fully to Jesus in our early years of marriage, I made God the problem in between the two of us. In our early years, like most marriages, we had struggles. Unfortunately, we didn’t seek marriage counseling and in my frustration and pain, I turned to God.”

“Jesus healed me from so much and I in error believed that if only you would come to Christ, everything in our marriage would magically be made better. Sheesh! What an idiot.” I rushed on as I didn’t want to lose my courage to own and act on this revelation.

“Our problems were rarely about faith. And somehow, I may have made God the only answer. I was naive or immature, likely both. But on Easter Sunday the Lord revealed all of this to me and I’m greatly grieved over it. I ask your forgiveness. But more importantly, I ask that you would see my part in this, came out of immaturity and please, please don’t be bitter at God.”

“God loves you so much, Mike. And in spite of having a block-headed wife, please, please don’t look at God with eyes of bitterness.”

Gulp!

Okay, there it is.

I’m still processing and praying through this revelation, our conversation and the implications. Geeze. I even had to call my daughter and share and apologize. She said, “Mom, this isn’t news to me. I’ve actually talked about this very thing with a few friends.”

Good Lord, Almighty!

Why am I sharing this with you today? I want other SUMites who are on this long journey to receive a word of caution through my story. I don’t want you to become a bitter root in your spouse’s faith journey.

So, the great thing about this apology was the ensuing conversation between Mike and myself. It’s was honest, clarifying and it was hopeful. We talked about his thoughts about God and he was very honest with me. He remains undecided about it all. And my confession broke the bitterness that may have held power in our marriage and in his faith journey.

Okay, I hope all this isn’t too much. Sometimes I feel as though I must be brutally honest about my struggles as well as my victories. And in the telling of this story, healing happened and perhaps healing will happen in another marriage.

Jesus, I pray with all that I have within me, in faith, this is true. In Your name, Jesus. AMEN

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


The Tearing of the Veil

IMG_4884My friends, I’m heading Holy Spirit’s nudge to write about the veil, which hung in the Jewish Tabernacle built by the Israelites and Moses per God's detailed specifications. I've always been fascinated with the veil and how it tore at the moment Jesus died. But let's go back to the first place the veil was established.

It stood as a physical and spiritual separation between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, an inner room that held the Ark of the Covenant, the very presence of God. Made of finely woven linen and embroidered with blue, scarlet and purple cherubim, the veil hung from gold hooks attached to four posts of acacia wood, which were also overlaid with gold (Exodus 26:31-33). And strict rules determined when and how the priests could enter this Most Holy of Places, which if not adhered to resulted in death.

The Hebrew word for veil holds one unusual definition—separatrix. In mathematics, separatrix is defined as the boundary separating two modes of behavior. Dictionary.com defines it as "something that divides or separates, as the line between light and dark areas on a partially illuminated surface."

This veil would remain in place for hundreds of years, a constant reminder of the separation that existed between man and God due to sin. Darkness on one side, light on the other...

Exodus 28:36-38 speaks of the gold medallion adorning Aaron's turban. He was required to wear this on his turban to bear any guilt of the Israelites when they consecrated their sacred offerings in order to make the people acceptable. As the animal sacrifices were a prophetic representation of the final and complete Sacrificial Lamb, this medallion held the prophetic representation of the the Cross, the finished work of Jesus.

Fast forward to Good Friday, the darkest day of history that would usher in the greatest Light of all. Jesus spoke his last and released His spirit into the Father's hands. 

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” — Matthew 27:51-54

Not a simple tear, but a violent act from Heaven. I believe this was the first entrance of God's Kingdom come to earth. Our Heavenly Father gave His Son to remove the barrier and He wanted us to know it. Ripped from top to bottom, the symbolic act clearly tells of the fierce love of God removing the barrier. Nothing would separate God from people for the Son had become the bridge and His Holy Spirit the constant connection.

I am awestruck by this act, so violent yet full of love. A human being would have most likely torn the curtain from the bottom, clearly an act of man. Father God made it clear this tear was by His hand, from top to bottom, from Heaven to Earth. The final declaration of forgiveness and acceptance. 

It shook the earth, split rocks, opened tombs and raised the dead to life. Light had invaded the darkness and brought new life, new beginnings, a new way. The Way, the Truth and the Life.

Jesus.

The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! — 2 Corinthians 3:7-11

My friends, I have this image of the veil in my mind, it's weighty fabric musty and old from all the years it hung between God and man. As the ground began to shake, I imagine dust shaking loose from the aged fibers and the weighty fabric undulating gently at first from its golden hooks, then rippling more violently as the earthquake shook the ground and framework of the Tabernacle. 

Then the heavens opened and perhaps a surge of light shot down from the sky, renting the cloth in two with a tearing sound as loud as thunder and startling as the earth shaking beneath it. Almost as if the fabric once thought to be holy now hung as an offense to the One who hung on the cross.

Do you see it, my friends? The tattered edges of the veil, split and rendered useless? Nothing would separate God from His creation any longer. Do you see how the passion of the Christ rendered the veil impotent and powerless?

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. — 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

The enemy will attempt to replicate the veil in our loves ones, but even he knows the truth, that he wears the shame of defeat and the veil of lies he attempts to project cannot stand up under the light of Jesus. 

And we reflect His light. We reflect His love. We reflect the heart of the Father's love that made a way for ALL to come to Him. And that is the promise of Easter! He is RISEN! He is RISEN INDEED! AMEN!

Happy Easter, my friends. Love you!
SignatureGraphic2

 

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


How Do You "Speak" God?

MouthMy friends, as I listened to a very gifted teacher at my recent healing rooms training I attended teach about our words, I knew right away this applied to our "how do we hear God" series, thus my title "How Do We "Speak" God?" It seems the natural progression, as Scripture says what we hold in our heart is what comes out of our mouths.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. — Luke 6:45 NLT

God's Word also says we are created in His image, therefore we are creative beings, like our Creator. We just have different ways of expressing that creativity. God's Word shows the power of His words to create, bless and curse. And as image bearers of Christ, we are warned about the power of our very own words to give life or death:

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. — Proverbs 18:21 NIV

The more I walk this path of faith and understand the importance of studying God's Word to put truth into my heart so that it will flow from my mouth, the more aware I have become of the words I think and speak throughout my day. Our thought life is a very powerful entity, one that when full of lies and not controlled, leads to bad decisions and hurtful words. This is the heart of where our words pour out, so we must guard our hearts and minds well.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. — Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Think about that verse for few minutes. I intentionally chose the New Living Translation because of the last part of its wording—determines the course of your life. That also means it can determine the course of our marriages, of our relationships with our children, our friends, our co-workers, etc.

Let me say that again. What we choose to think and speak can determine the course of our marriages, my friends. And let me tell you, that is powerful. I will never forget the day I stood in my husband's home office and realized the words I just spoke had created a negative atmosphere between us. The thought hit me—most likely the Holy Spirit—that if I didn't change my heart and my words, my marriage would fail.

That's when God began opening doors for me to the resources I needed—books like Beloved Unbeliever and a small group for the spiritually mismatched. It started with my recognition of need and God's answer to that prayer. You are a part of the SUM family for the very same reasons. God knows your need, wants you and your marriage to thrive and has answered your prayer with support, resources and encouragement from this amazing "church without walls."

My friends, as God changed my heart, my words began to change. What I spoke to my husband became more about edification and unity. The Holy Spirit worked very hard, I'm sure, to help rein in my tongue that had learned the wrong kind of fruit to bear. And guarding my heart is something I must do constantly for I know who is prowling around with the intent to destroy my family (John 10:10). You know that too.

I once heard a woman speaking to her husband at a grocery store that brought home this truth in such a powerful way. That not only do our words "speak" but also our tone. I am sure the Holy Spirit placed me there that day to see this picture, because I've never forgotten it. With each contempt filled word, this man's head sunk lower and lower.

SUMites, we have the choice each day to use our words to build up or tear down. I have come to the place now where I am constantly looking for ways to build up my husband and our marriage. The amazing thing is this has increased my gratitude for my husband and our marriage dramatically, which has drawn him closer to me and brought more opportunities to share my faith with him. And I am eating the fruit of this in ways I never even thought possible. As a child of multiple divorces, this has changed me profoundly—in a wonderful, God-intended way. Thank You, Jesus!

And this has rippled into every area of my life. My relationships with family, friends and even strangers. This is how we become these open doors for the Kingdom of God to burst through, carrying the love of Jesus. That just blows my mind to a whole new realm. How about you?

My friends, share how you have used your words to bring change to your life, your marriage, your family, etc. Let's encourage and inspire one another right here with our words. SUMites, I've seen you in action and you are GOOD at it!  

I have a special post for Thursday in honor of Easter. I am also flying back to California on Thursday to help my daughter move and help my hubby get our house there ready to be sold (Sniffle. That house was a true gift and blessing from God, as is our new one we are building—more on that soon!)

I intend to continue this speaking series next week to expound upon the power of our words as we speak Scripture and God's promises over our lives and marriages. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help me do justice to that post! That could be an entire book right there. 

I love you, my friends. I believe in you and your hearts for your marriages. I stand with you in prayer for your marriages to be healed, to be restored and to be places of prosperity and thriving. And I am standing with each and every one of you for the SALVATION of your spouse and loved ones. That is my heart for you and the Father's too (2 Peter 3:9)!
SignatureGraphic2

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


Breakthrough after years of.......

Part III today... Part I (click here) Part II (click here)

-----

Mom & Kaylee crop
Granddaughter reunion in January

But, my friends, wait as I grab tissue to dab at the tears, there is STILL MORE.

Yesterday, when my mother called to check up on my health progress, at the end of our phone call, I said, “Mom, thank you for always praying for me and my healing. But Mom, how can I pray for you?”

And this is almost the best part of the story.

She said, “You know I wasn’t going to mention it to you but since you asked, I think I’m having some kind of a spiritual breakthrough.”

“What? Oh Do tell me more. I want to hear everything.”

“Well, for some reason I am teary. I don’t know really what is happening but I’m so teary and weepy.”

OH HOLY GOD BE PRAISED!!!

“Oh Mom, I’m so glad you told me about this. I’ve been praying for you to have a breakthrough in this area for years. Mom, it’s okay to cry. It’s healthy to cry. It’s healing to cry over your pain. Mom, you know that Jesus cries. It’ right and good to cry.”

“Well, yes I know that Jesus cries.”

“Mom, do you know that on that day many years ago when you said to yourself that you would never cry again, did you know that when you said those words you made a word vow, a curse against yourself? Mom, when that happened a demon attached to it and even in later years when you wanted to cry, even needed to cry, you were unable.”

“But Mom, praise be to our Jesus because He has set you free and yes, mom, you are having a spiritual breakthrough! Mom, if you need to have a long-bawling-cry your heart out- cry, then do it. Don’t stop it up because Jesus is right there to hold you through the tears.”

“I’m afraid that if I start, I won’t stop.”

“Don’t stop this mom. Let Jesus heal you all the way. And you will be healed when you let it all go.”

“I love you so much Mom. It has been my profound privilege to be a witness to how Jesus has loved you all of your life. Through such great tragedies and heart wrenching loss, He has danced with you and loved you every day of your life. He saw you as a small child, determined to get to Sunday school to be with Him, so determined you walked alone. He has watched you train up three children in the Lord. He has stood with you as you taught Sunday school to little children four and five years old for years and years. And mom, you are still teaching those little ones today, which just inspires me.”

“Mom, Jesus would not let you leave this earthly life, without giving you these profound, healing encounters because He loves you, He sees you. He knows you honored Him and believed without wavering even when everything appeared hopeless….. But you cried out, “I believe in Jesus.”

My mother then interrupted me to share one last story. And I share it with you now because the truth behind it is weighty for all of us...... 

-----

Part IV on Monday my friends.

I wonder if any of you have found yourself in a place where something you swore would or would never happen again in your life and become a barrier to you. If you have, please leave me a comment, that I may pray for you. Or email me, link for my private email is in the sidebar. 

I love you my friends. I am watching the Lord move with power and freedom in many of our lives. Email me your stories. I want to celebrate with you.

Have a blessed weekend. And remember to set your clocks forward on Saturday night in America. Hugs, Lynn

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books


O Valentine’s Day – A post for us Men

 

ID-100276483When Lynn asked if I’d give a perspective on Valentine’s Day I readily said yes. I also wanted to continue our conversation on Lent, it starts Wednesday, and have included a few brief thoughts at the end of this post.

Valentine’s Day. I still remember an old boss of mine who I wouldn’t have thought to be overly romantic when asked what he did for his wife on V-Day, he said he picked up a bunch of grapes on his way home from work and gave them to her. At the time, those of us who listened to the conversation thought it a bit lame but now years later I’ve changed my mind. John knew his wife loved grapes and he intentionally stopped off on his way home to pick them up. Perhaps it was a small gesture but one, it was a surprise, and two, he demonstrated his love for her.

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. Shouldn’t every day be a day we seek to cherish our lover? Yes, it should. But like Mother’s and Father’s Day it is a day to stop and especially focus on each other.

Is it now overly commercial? Yes, it is. But that shouldn’t be a reason not to acknowledge it. Just like John did something sweet to acknowledge his love for Bev, his wife of thirty-plus years.

My first Valentine’s Day with my wife when we were dating was a really special night, one we both still cherish. We had some dinner and went to see a live production of “Beauty and the Beast”, one of the great Disney love stories. It was my girl’s first live musical and she so loved it she took her mom off to see it a few weeks later.

Cherish

It’s an important word for me. It’s a bit old-fashioned; you don’t hear it used much these days. But I especially like what it means.

“To feel or show great love; to keep and cultivate with great care.”

Jesus cherishes the church (Eph 5:29 ESV) and we know how much he does for what He did.

But when I think of cherishing it means I need to be intentional to show my love for my wife. It often involves a surprise or serving her in some way. Those to two “S” words usually require intentional thought. So a week or so ago knowing the day was approaching I deliberately made a plan. My wife knows some of the plan. We usually do that these days and this year she is interstate for some of the weekend so we needed to work on it together. The key for us is being together, just the two of us. Yes, a date night with a bit of a twist, I guess.

Training

We men are often not good at this stuff. I’m not going to make excuses, just put it down to the Mars and Venus paradigms, and I’ve always believed that some training is often involved. Lynn used a different term for it on her Sunday post: “hint dropping.” But it comes down to sharing little by little how you like to be cherished.

Guys, it’s okay to receive tips or training. I’m always seeking cooking tips from my wife as I know she knows more than I do.

What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day memory?

Lent starts Wednesday

Thank you for sharing so openly last week. It was interesting how prominent fear and worry is for so many of us. Only this morning I had a moment of panic that had hit me by surprise. In that moment I struggled to grab a hold of God. Does anyone else find that? It’s like a barrier goes up, a door is shut or the lights are switched off.

That’s exactly what the enemy wants. But we need to turn the light on. Because it shines in the darkness. So this morning I found two really helpful things:

  • I relaxed my breathing which served to calm me.
  • I kept quoting Scripture

The lights went on. Yes, the dark was lingering but I was then able to stop, sit down and spend some time with God in silence. And I asked Him about the panic.

Silence.

A couple of things struck me this morning that I hope may be some help as we journey through Lent together. Renew (or start) a commitment to sit alone with God in silence during these forty days. Even for a few minutes. I know this can be hard with little kiddies but even if the only place is the bathroom then so be it.

Wait for Him. He’ll show up. It’s more about listening, not talking. He knows your heart. He knows your desire for Him. See what He says. Write down what happens. Perhaps nothing will happen on the first day, or even the tenth day, but keep at it. And know that God is always present.

Psalm 27 is fantastic – look at verse 5. “He will hide me in His shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of his tent; He will lift me high upon a rock.”

What’s so amazing is He is the shelter, the tent and the rock. God. He is our hiding place.

Hold close to God. Remember Lent is less about religious self-denial and more about surrendering our hearts. He wants us to have more of Him and these next forty days are a great way to start out on increasing our hunger for Him and being satisfied in Him.

Note: Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles?FreeDigitalPhotos

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Covers Three Books