304 posts categorized "Love"

I Need Love: He Needs Respect

And we both go about it all the wrong way.

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

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

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

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

Hugs, Lynn

Respect: A Marriage Essential Part I

Respect: A Marriage Essential Part II

 

 

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Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

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A Glimpse of Heaven

October 12, 2012, was THEE day.

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

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

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

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

Edna Sandy Evelyn Grace Maria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I burst into uncontrolled sobs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lynn, Bill, Stone

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

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

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My travel companion this year.

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

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SUMites: Lynn and Jim Edwards

  

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FRUIT: I'm undone!

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

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

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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

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The Tale of Two Houses

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

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

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

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

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

Back in 2004...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

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A Stunning Revelation of My Authority

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

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My Husband Entered My World, part 2

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

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

Now back to my story…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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 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!

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Seeing the “Gold” in Our Spouse

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

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

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

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

Put — give with greatest latitude, restore

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

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

Now take a look at this truth:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Growing Up a Marriage

GrowingUpMarriageWhat if nurturing a marriage is like nurturing a child?

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

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

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

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

The reality is, a marriage has to grow up. 

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

What if marriage is the same way? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you!
Dineen

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Lord of the Harvest

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

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

May 2013 (date of dream)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you, SUMites!
Dineen

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Righting Wrongs or do we?

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Photo courtesy of Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

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

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

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

It was all over in fifteen minutes.

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

I’d just been fired.

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

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

And what a salve it was to my aching heart.

Payback

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

It hurts. Really hurts.

David and King Saul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What graciousness.

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

Infection

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

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

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

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

Fairness

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

But that’s why grace is so amazing.

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

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

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

The Cross.

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

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

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

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

Grace and peace, dear Sumites.

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Friday Prayer: No More Striving!

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

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

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Guest Post: Follow Me by Dee Rusnak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EVERYTHING!

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Foundations Series: INHERITANCE & IDENTITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you!
Dineen

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Foundations Series: GOD'S LOVE

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

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Foundations Series: FAITH, HOPE, LOVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which then sheds a whole new light on this verse:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 

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The Power of Love in a Confusing World

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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.

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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

 

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Part Four: The Promised Provision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you, SUMites!
~Dineen

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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

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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.

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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

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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.
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Copyright: kwest19 / 123RF Stock Photo

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Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

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