19 posts categorized "Presence"

Going in His Presence

ID-100527661
Image courtesy of Phil_Bird at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mid-year is a big time for our church as we have a celebration dinner where all our campuses around the city come together and break bread together. It’s a night where we reflect on the good things the body has contributed across various activities both locally and overseas. Plus we look forward to the next year and share a vision for how and where the church can contribute. It’s called our Vision Builders dinner.

During the course of the week leading up to the event, I had been reading Exodus 33 where Moses on being commanded to leave Sinai demanded of God that he wouldn’t go anywhere without His presence. Let’s have a look at the passage:

“Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”

And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” (Exodus 33: 12-15 NKJV)

Who do we rely upon?

Many commentators believe the favour of God on Moses increased the very moment he said yes and only if God would go with Him. God wants us to be people who do not depend on our own ability, but upon Him.

So often we can set a vision and seek to realise it through our own efforts. Similarly, we can do likewise with the vision we have for our marriages and dealing with the struggles we mismatched ones experience. Many of us love to fix issues quickly, to resolve the struggle, to end the stress of disagreement. It’s natural: who enjoys walking around a house thinking we’re stepping on eggshells or hopping into bed grumpy/angry with our loved one. It’s a lousy feeling, isn’t it?

Even though we sometimes struggle to appreciate it usually there is a lot of stuff going on inside our partner (and ourselves) that we don’t necessarily appreciate. There’s a lifetime of “stuff” that has had an impact, positively and not-so-positively. Yes, girls your husbands who are the quiet, less communicative types still have lots going on inside. (they may not even be aware of it)

And this adds to the complexity and challenge of marriage. And as we all know we then add our “spiritually unmatched” bit and the degree of challenge just goes up.

But the Lord knows what’s going on in each of us. He knows why we are who we are. He understands how being spiritually mismatched adds another challenge to marriage.

That’s why like Moses we need to the Lord’s presence to go with us at all times in our homes and wherever else life takes us. It’s too hard otherwise.

Like Christ

“To be a Christian is to be like Christ.” (Brennan Manning)

The more I study the Gospels the more I appreciate how Jesus didn’t do stuff in his own strength.

“Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19 NKJV)

But the longer I walk this journey with the Lord the more I realise it’s all about doing it with Him. When we spend time with Him both in the secret place (Matthew 6:6) and throughout our days we can both enjoy His presence and be guided by Him.

Does this mean our marriage struggles will suddenly dissolve? No. But in revealing more of His heart for our partners and us we can step out with more confidence (shaky at first) in loving them.

“It is the relationship and intimacy that grows out of remaining in Him that allows you to know His heart …” (Heidi Baker)

If you’re going through a particularly tough time at present may I encourage you to be as bold as Moses and ask the Lord to go with you. To invade your home and heart. And when He says yes, enjoy spending time getting to know His heart for you, your partner and family.

As we know there’s power in our sharing we each other. I encourage you to share in the comments (or if you prefer the FB group) how we can pray specifically for you and your marriage.

Grace and peace, dear SUMites.

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Footer w drop shadow


Stay in the tent

ID-100435382
Photo courtesy of khunaspix/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last year my Word for the year was “DELIGHT”. I so enjoyed delighting and figured there was so much more for me to experience that I was expecting I would stick with the same word for 2017.

As I prayed and meditated on it last week I stumbled across a line in a prayer I read:

“If I’m going to be in a hurry about one thing this year, may it be to linger longer in Your Presence. Everything else will fall into place.”1

I stopped. Re-read this line a few more times as I prayed and then I had a new Word for 2017. Can you guess what it is?

Linger!

It’s a great word. How much do we enjoy lingering on a great cup of coffee or fabulous dessert or a piece of music? But how much time do we spend simply lingering in the Lord’s Presence to savor Him? Not what He can give us but Him, His face, His person.

Those who lingered

As I reflected more on that line above, people in the Bible who spent time lingering in His Presence came to mind.

Joshua

“And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” (Exodus 33:9-11 NKJV)

Joshua lingered in the tabernacle (nee: tent). Even when Moses, his mentor, left it. It changed him. So much so it was Joshua, and not Moses, who received the honour of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land.

Anna

“Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years,[a] who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38 NKJV)

These are the only three verses in the Bible about Anna. She was a woman who lingered in the temple. And served God with fasting and praying. The Lord honoured her by allowing her to see Jesus, the infant.

Mary of Bethany

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” (Luke 10: 38-39 NKJV)

Mary lingered at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.

How can we linger in His Presence?

As we come to next week’s annual New Year prayer and fast what can we do to linger a little longer in His Presence next week and beyond? No doubt you have some ideas but here are a couple:

  • When the hunger pangs strike, pray. Even if it’s as simple as saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Allow His name to change the atmosphere around you so you “forget” your hunger.
  • Turn up every morning (or lunchtime or evening) – come often as your mind enjoys the habit of consistency.
  • Be silent – I know this can be extremely hard for those of you with kiddies and busy households. But I hope you’re able to find a spot where you can escape for a few moments and simply be quiet. Might be in the car after the school drop-off. Take one or two deep breaths and then quietly say “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” or similar and allow yourself to linger with your Creator. The one who loves you more than anyone.
  • Start small. If this is new to you a few minutes of lingering is good. Don’t feel you need to speak. Simply ask Jesus what’s on His heart. And listen.

Stay in the tent. And enjoy Him.

Let me pray for us all.

Dear Jesus, we love you, we adore you. We consecrate this new year of 2017 to you. We consecrate ourselves, our partners, our marriages and families to you. We consecrate this week of fasting and prayer to You. Let Your kingdom come in our marriages and in our homes – let Your will be done, Lord Jesus. Help us to linger longer in Your Presence and to enjoy the fruits of Your tenderness. We pray this year will be the year our partners come to know you. We love you and love being your sons and daughters. In Your Mighty Name we pray. Amen.

Grace and peace, dear friends. I so look forward to sharing next week with you all and savouring our Lord together. I love reading of other people's Word's of the year and/or verses if you adopt such a practice. Share them in the comments so we can encourage you in your endeavours for 2017.

Notes: 1. “Everyday Prayers”, Scotty Smith, Baker Books, 2011. Pg377.

*****

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-

Footer w drop shadow


The Power of God’s Words

SwordCloud
"Jesus is your sword."

One of the things I love about living in Florida is the cloud formations. They are tall and fluffy, filling the sky with a terrain of fluffy like cotton. Then other times they are imposing and dark, flashing with lighting and pouring down rain. Rarely is the sky completely devoid of these puffy wonders.

One bright and humid Florida morning, I went for a walk to worship and pray. My conversation with God that day was about prayer and words. I wanted to understand more about what He seemed to be impressing upon my heart to understand.

I looked up in the sky and noticed a could that looked just like a sword, which I thought was so interesting. But what made it relevant was what the Holy Spirit spoke to me as I looked at this simple formation.

“Jesus is your sword.”

My friends, this truth clicked into place in my heart and then my mind and the Scriptures I’d ready many times seemed to take on even deeper meaning. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1:1-5

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14

This truth already blew my mind, SUMites, but then to think of it in terms of our spiritual armor, brings a whole new level of awe. 

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, — Ephesians 6:17

Jesus is the Word and the sword of the Spirit is God’s Word, so Jesus truly is our sword! So what does that mean?

The Ezekiel Model

In the book of Ezekiel, God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over dry bones to hear the word of the Lord. First of all, prophesy simply means to speak by inspiration. We are all call to do this and since we have the Holy Spirit living in us, it makes sense that we can do this. (That’s a whole other series best saved for another time.)

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! — Ezekiel 37:4

So Ezekiel is told by the Spirit of God to speak God’s words of life over these bones. The word ‘hear’ in Hebrew is šâma’ and holds such meanings as to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc.), declare, discern, give ear, (cause to, let, make to) hear(-ken, tell), listen, make (a) noise, (be) obedient, obey, perceive, (make a) proclaim(-ation), publish, regard, report, shew (forth), (make a) sound, tell, understand, whosoever (heareth), witness. And that’s the edited down version. 

In similar intensity, ‘word’ means ḏâḇâr in Hebrew and translates to such meanings as a word; by implication, a matter (as spoken of) or thing; adverbially, a cause: act, advice, affair, answer, commandment, commune(-ication), concern(-ing), confer, counsel, decree, deed, duty, effect, eloquent, errand, glory, manner, matter, message, portion, power, promise, provision, purpose, question, rate, reason, report, request. Again, the edited down version.

These are two hefty words that hold a lot of meaning and impact. Which then led me to Jeremiah 1:12 where God asks Aaron what he sees. 

Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” — Jeremiah 1:12

Did you know that word ‘watching’ means to be alert i.e. sleepless? Now look at Isaiah 55:11

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. — Isaiah 55:10-11

My friends, this is like a double promise. God decrees (shall) His Word will not only be life giving but also powerful and effective to accomplish His purposes. So, think about this in context of praying Scriptures, which are God’s Word and are thus in alignment with His heart and purposes, and what could happen as a result of doing so. And I mean literally praying Scriptures out loud, word for word. 

For example, our salvation word this year is Jeremiah 24:7. Almost every day I am praying this:

Lord, thank you for giving every one of our SUMite spouses a heart that knows You are God. Thank You that You have declared they will be your sons and daughters and You will be their God. Thank You that they are returning to You wholeheartedly and will follow You all the days of their lives.

We can do this with any Scripture in the Bible, SUMites. Speak God’s Word out as truth. 

Lord, Your Word says that by the stripes of Jesus Christ I am healed, therefore I declare that I am healed of (name specific illnesses, diseases and conditions). (Isaiah 53:5). And I declare the blood of Jesus over my entire body and declare I walk in divine health. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Lord, you are not willing that any should be lost so I rejoice and thank You that You are pursuing my spouse, my children, my family members with your relentless love and I stand in agreement with You that me and and my entire household will be saved. In the name of Jesus, amen! (Matthew 18:14, Acts 16.31).

My friends, whenever you read your Bible and find yourself stopped or stuck on a piece of God’s Word, ask the Holy Spirit what it means, what you need to know about it, and how you are to pray into it, believe it and then decree it. 

One last story…

In my post last Friday I talked about Isaiah six and how the praises of the seraphim shook the place. Did you know this happened in the New Testament too, with the disciples? The disciples were faced with great opposition, so they joined together and prayed.

And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. — Acts 4:29-31

What did they pray for, my friends? Boldness to share His Word. They asked for healing power, miracles and wonders (what Jesus had taught and sent them out to do), all done in the name of Jesus. And what did God do? He shook the place with His presence! They prayed according to His Word (Jesus) and God answered.

So, my friends, I’m not saying that every time we pray, our houses are supposed to shake, but what if they did? What if we asked God for that kind of boldness and courage to pray and share Him with others and walked in miracles and wonders as the evidence of it? What if we already are?

I believe our prayers “shake” the heavens more than we realize. And the more boldness and courage we have, the more we shake the rafters!

O Lord, give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching Your word. Stretch out You hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of Your holy servant Jesus. Amen!

Love you, SUMites!
Dineen

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Footer w drop shadow


How Do You "Hear" God...For Your Spouse?

IStock_000005733150MediumMy dear friends, I hope the journaling exercise to "pay attention" to how you hear God has been a blessing and encouragement to you. Your comments have encouraged me greatly! I love how God speaks to us in many ways and specifically to our need and relationship with Him. Let’s review that verse again:

“So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” — Luke 8:18 NLT

Today I will share that story I promised you, one that will show another form of how God can speak to us. I've had the joy of training and working in two different healing rooms (Silicon Valley and now Manatee County). In fact, just this past weekend I attended more training and had the joy of facilitating as well. 

And God has used the last several years to teach me so much about healing prayers through teachers and mentors in these places and especially through the Holy Spirit, our greatest Teacher and Mentor of all. Over time, I've learned to recognize better when He's showing me something. I believe He communicates this way with me, because I am an artist and a very visual person.

If you study the book of Acts, you will see many descriptions of the disciples receiving images and even visions of God's leading. Just before his death, Stephen is given a glimpse of Jesus and heaven (Acts 7:55). Ananias heard the Lord instructing him in a vision to go to Saul because God had given Saul a vision of Ananias as part of Saul's conversion from a Pharisee to a believer who would be known as Paul (Acts 9:10-19). And God showed Peter through two visions that he was not to discriminate against Gentiles (Acts 10:3-33).

I love serving people in the healing rooms. We are there to pray with people for their needs, to encourage and edify them as Scripture directs, and we work in teams of three because we are stronger as a three-fold cord.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. — 1 Thess. 5:11 ESV

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. — Ecc. 4:12 NIV

On this particular day, a woman came in for prayer about the purchase of a house. She and her husband had felt clear leading to buy a specific house and had made an offer, but the inspection now showed issues that they would not be able to afford. Confusion had set in.

As our team sought God for leading in how to pray for her, I saw an image of a house in my mind. At first I simply thought it was the natural reaction of the mind to connect an image to thoughts, but as I said, I have learned through experience and practice to pay attention when I get an image, especially in this type of setting. Yet I am always careful to defer to Holy Spirit's leading to share a word of knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8). 

Our sister in Christ then joined us in the prayer room and we began to speak truth into her heart to help her refocus on God and His leading for her. I felt Holy Spirit direct me to share the image so I did. 

I described the image of the house in the detail the Holy Spirit had given me. I'm always a bit nervous to do things like this, but again I'm learning to trust Him more than myself. It's not easy. It’s a risk and an act of faith to trust in what God is doing and not what I understand or perceive is happening.

Turned out the image was the house she and her husband wanted to purchase, and sharing with her what God had shown me, along with what the other team members felt Holy Spirit telling them, confirmed and affirmed this dear woman on the God-lead path she was obediently trying to follow. She just needed reassurance that even though complications had cropped up, God was still in the lead and would provide. She left encouraged and felt even closer to God as a result. As we all do when we see, hear, feel and sense God's presence with us—we are drawn closer to Him and hunger for even more.

And I was too, as was the prayer team. These encounters never cease to astound me and draw me closer to God. I pray they never do. The end of this story is wonderful. The couple moved forward in faith and made another offer. They purchased the house for a price that gave them room to make the repairs. God did exactly what He said He would.

Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. — Deut. 7:9 NLT

My friends, the amazing thing is I am learning to apply this way of praying to my family. One night Holy Spirit showed me that I didn't believe He would show me what to pray for my family like I do in the healing rooms. I'm learning to first seek and listen before I start praying what I think my husband or daughters need. 

Sometimes our best intentions and love can keep us from hearing what God wants us to know, because we are more focused on the issue at hand instead of the answer God is waiting to give us.

Now as I pray for my husband, I wait for a leading or image to show me where God's working in him. That way I know how to pray and work with God in this transformation process. God wants me to see my husband as already saved and pray and praise accordingly. Just as God instructed Peter in his vision to not make a judgement of a person's place in God's kingdom, I feel God telling us the same thing, my friends. This verse spoke that truth to my heart this week:

Peter told them, "You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. — Acts 10:28

Right now we need to be seeking God for His heart and how He sees our spouses, our loved ones, and pray and declare in agreement. We only have a partial picture with our own perspective. God has the full picture and He knows our spouses (1 Cor. 13:12).

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6

That day of Jesus Christ is now, my friends. The Greek translation for the word "day" means the space between dark and dawn. I believe this is the time between Jesus' coming and return and we are in that time right now! So don't be discouraged! He is faithful to complete what He has told us He will do. SALVATION!

Dear friends, we live in an incredible time of witnessing God move in our spouses' lives and hearts! Be assured He is working. Seek Him, ask Him to show you and trust Him to complete the good work He has started as you join Him accordingly in prayer and trust for your spouse's salvation. Amen? Amen!

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Footer w drop shadow


How do you "hear God? (part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

•His still small voice

•Scripture

•The counsel of a trusted friend

•Several devotionals 

•Ian's post about Lent

•Your comments on our blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love you, my friends. So much. Praying for you!
SignatureGraphic2

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Footer w drop shadow


First LOVE

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWe have been chatting about suffering. It can truly blow up your mind to consider the reasons of God for suffering.

Not too long ago the Lord spoke to me about my unequally yoked marriage. It was likely in a challenging season when I was complaining to God about His delay in saving my pre-believer. (To even write that causes me a degree of shame. Sheesh.)

This was the Lord’s unexpected but powerful reply. Hosea 2:14

But then I will win her back once again.

    I will lead her into the desert

    and speak tenderly to her there.

15 I will return her vineyards to her

    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.

She will give herself to me there,

    as she did long ago when she was young,

    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. —NLT

The Lord then spoke to me, Lynn, do you see? Can you comprehend this story?

My friends, I understood in that moment how beautiful was the love relationship between God and His people. When the people of God were freed from Egypt they were utterly dependent upon the Lord’s Presence. He walked among them. He fed them. With the exception of the “golden cow” incident He adored and protected them. After the mad cow mess, they quickly came to their senses and loved Him with their full hearts for decades in the desert. It was priceless. It was a beautiful, fulfilling relationship for Him and for the people. I’m not surprised, as I think about it, that God delayed their entry into the Promised Land. He knew what would happen.

The easy life would cause them to pursue independence. Comparison to other peoples of the land would woo them away from God as their King thus enticing them to desire an earthly King. They would grow fat and distant from God because their lives would become easier. All this became true. Thus, the Lord’s broken heart cries out through Hosea. He longs for the years of their desert suffering because in the struggle, she (fully) gave herself to Him.

I wonder if the Lord tarried or delayed the Israelites crossing into the land because He knew they would leave Him? The sweet love and utter dependence upon Him in the wilderness was everything to Him…. AND He knew that people are their highest, best and blessed when they are in utter dependence…..

Things that make you go….hmmmmmm.

Is our Promised Land, our spouse’s salvation, the same? Does the Lord tarry because He is in love with you and me? Does he believe that our desert experience will diminish because we aren’t so persistent in our prayers for our spouse? Does He know that we may become lax in training up the children to faith?

Is the Promised Land really of any value if we leave the lover of our soul in the desert years?

The passage in Hosea calls to us. It’s the Lord’s broken heart. He speaks to us who walk in the desert years. Don’t forget the suffering that birthed our love. More often than not, it’s the suffering that draws us to the heart of God.

*****

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-

Footer w drop shadow


Childlike in Anticipation - some reflections on Advent

Source: WikipediaI've always loved December. Living in Australia, it’s summer, the end of the school year so we always had our long summer break over December/January. It’s also my birthday month and … it’s Christmas.

I still recall those days approaching Christmas when the presents used to begin to pile up under the tree. Most of them were for dad, he’s a doctor and all his patients bought him presents. Every year. But my sister and two brothers were more excited by what Santa would put in the pillow slips that sat at the end of our beds.

We’d struggle to sleep we were that excited. But mom always warned us that Santa wouldn’t arrive until we were fast asleep.

And then when we woke, far too early for mom and dad, we’d have to wait until they arose before we could open all the goodies in those magical pillowslips.

We had to wait.

The anticipation. The excitement … was electric.

Advent

The season of Advent has commenced. Advent simply means: “coming” or “arrival” – of Jesus.

But as most of us know Jesus didn’t arrive without a long, long wait. Four hundred years in fact. That’s how long the Israelites had to wait.

The four-week season of Advent reflects a time of waiting. We don’t like to wait, do we? Especially if it’s for something important or critical, a test result, an answer to prayer, our pre-believing spouse to meet Jesus, and so on.

“While God rarely comes at our appointed time, he comes at the right time.” (Louis Giglio)

Waiting in the Busy

December is often a frantic month. Besides finishing end of year projects there is the added weight of present buying, parties to attend, gatherings with family and friends. All around us there are reminders of what is coming: the lights, the decorations, the music, the extra crowded malls and our own stress levels.

But what is the gift we are expecting? Or more precisely, who is the gift? Who is arriving?

Jesus.

Remember those days of childlike anticipation, the sense of wonder, on that day? Christmas Day.

A little challenge

In amongst the busyness of December find some time to sit in the Lord’s presence. Allow yourself to recall such days of anticipation, when you couldn’t help but smile. For hours at a time.

He’s coming. Jesus. For you. He’s especially chosen you. You who are holy and dearly loved.

To assist you, read the story of when Mary received a very special and unusual visitor, Gabriel, in Luke 1:26-38. Let go of everything else that’s going on around you. Really desire to hear from God and ask the Spirit to speak to you. Picture yourself in Mary’s place. Imagine the awesomeness of the situation, listen to Gabriel’s words and what they mean.

Write down what you heard, how you felt.

We’d love to hear some of your responses in the comments.

Perhaps do it a few times over the next four weeks. Allow “the words of Christ to dwell in you richly.”

Wishing all of my SUMite friends a joyful Advent season full of childlike wonder and anticipation.

*****

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-

Footer w drop shadow


This Challenging Culture

NotAloneStudyImageHello, SUMite family! Lynn and I decided we should wrap our study up this week, because we have other things we want to move onto next week. Thus we will conclude our Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture on Friday with Lynn’s post about Legacy Kids. I’m sure it will be amazing too! 

My last chapter, “Challenging Kids,” that I wrote for Not Alone is one of my favorites. I share more of the story of my daughter’s recovery from cancer and two other stories from SUM moms who dealt with challenging questions and situations. I’ve been praying over what to bring out of this chapter and relate it to equipping our children and the Holy Spirit light bulb went on.

Moms and Dads, here’s where your children’s questions may become part of the challenges in your mismatched home. Your sons and daughters most likely will come home with questions about the new things they’re learning that will open up some controversy for you right in your own home if you and your spouse don’t agree on these issues. 

How do we navigate this? How do we keep biblical values in place when the school is teaching the opposite and your spouse agrees with it? How do we continue to stand in faith in our challenging culture.

My friends, we keep doing what we have been doing—trusting God. Yes, the challenges and “playing fields” may seem a little bigger, a little broader, a little more intimidating at times, but none of this is beyond God’s ability or reach. In fact, I believe He is standing ready to move with us, but He wants us to move in agreement and alignment with what He sees even when we can’t see it. 

The perfect example of this came as I’ve been reading the book of Joshua this week for very specific reasons, and one of them I believe was intended for this post, for this exact moment in our time and place as a unique community of faith in today’s culture. 

Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.”

So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.” — Joshua 6:1-7

Scripture paints a clear picture for us here that Jericho was a fortified city—the first walled city the Israelites had encountered. And we’re talking about some heavy duty walls here too. This is what Joshua saw, but I believe that when God told Joshua to see, He was opening the man’s eyes to perceive God’s perspective, that the city was already conquered by His hand. It was done and finished.

My friends, let’s not look at the world today and see what the world sees. Let’s look at our schools, our workplaces, the places we shop, and every person we encounter with the eyes of God. Because just as the Israelites carried the ark of the covenant with them, which was the presence of God, we carry His presence with us every where we go. 

Let’s carry Him into this world and bring His presence with us every where. Let’s march our prayers around these places and bring God into the picture. Sometimes God will even call us to literally do this and sometimes it won’t make much sense. He told me years ago to march in prayer around my husband, more recently to march in prayer around a nearby park in San Jose for nearly two years, and now He has me doing this at another park where I live now. I can’t tell you why, but I know He’s laying down the groundwork and foundation for whatever is next. He wants to bring down the walls of hopelessness, unbelief, despair, pain, sickness, depression, oppression and even opposition.

SUMites, Scripture tells us over and over to pray for wisdom and knowledge. We can ask God to prepare this way for us and give us eyes to see, ears to hear and words to speak. Trust Him to be there with you when your child comes home with questions that call you to stand in faith and give the reason why you believe what you believe. And if that could potentially create conflict with your pre-believer, ask the Holy Spirit to intervene now, to soften hearts, to give you wisdom and peace about how to navigate it. You both have equal place in your child’s life to teach and influence them. Trust God to make His truth stand out more than what our contrary culture is saying.

Nothing this world reveals surprises God and none of it is beyond His power to change. We are His hands and feet to bring His truth and healing to a hurting and damaged world. And we are empowered and equipped with His presence, His power, His grace and His mercy. Nothing is impossible WITH Him. Let’s live it like we believe it, SUMites. With Him, we CAN!

Question: SUMites, what is your greatest concern for your children right now? 

Prayer: Lord, fill every SUMite with more wisdom and knowledge of You. Inspire them with words, creativity and strategies of how to pray and navigate these upcoming challenges WITHOUT ANY fear or anxiety. I pray that they would rise up every morning, convinced and strengthened by the truth of Jesus Christ, that He is with us and will not fail us. I pray that You would fill their minds and hearts with a vision of what You are doing around them and are calling them to partner with You to accomplish. Lord, I pray that Your peace would fill every SUMite home and an impenetrable wall of Your angle armies would surround and protect them. Lord, all things are possible with You! Give us eyes to see, ears to hear and words to speak wherever we go. In the name of Jesus, amen!

I believe in you, SUMites!
SignatureGraphic2
Not-Alone_728x90 copy


*****

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-

Footer w drop shadow


Our Authority to "Pass It On"

Heb10-25Dear friends, I feel like I'm on a treasure hunt through the Bible and the Holy Spirit keeps revealing these nuggets of wisdom and knowledge. In fact, I shared this verse on Facebook last week because it keeps showing up:

In him [Christ] lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. — Colossians 2:3 NLT

I have prayed into this for myself and for you, SUMites. Jesus wants to give us these treasures! We just have to ask for them.

So, this latest treasure is one that the Holy Spirit showed me builds on a truth we have talked about in the past, but builds upon it in regard to our authority in Jesus, the authority spoken of in Luke 9:1-2 and Luke 10:17. Our authority given us through our salvation in Jesus. 

But this nugget is revealing that we have specific authority, which I find fascinating. First let's start with 2 Corinthians 1:4:

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. — 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

I've always loved this verse, because it reflects God's heart for us individually and corporately. He is our comforter and we are to pass the comfort on to others. He intends it to work that way. That is why we encounter others who are going through the same trials and difficulties we have gone through. Sometimes even as we are going through them. Abba wants to comfort us so we can comfort others, and encourage each other. This is the body of Christ working in love and unity.

But did you know that the very places that you have overcome give you special authority? Take a look at 2 Corinthians 4:17:

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV 

That word "weight" in the original Greek is baros and it means weight, burden, authority.

What does that mean? It means that the sicknesses and trials that you have overcome are now places of authority in which you can pray for others. You are essentially passing a blessing you have received to another person. It doesn't take it away from you at all or lessen its affect or presence. You are sharing it with another, which honors God because you are being obedient to His Word. And God always increases His blessings in these times.

Guess what else? It's a form of worship. An "eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison"! 

 That which we overcome gives us authority to pray for the same breakthrough for others and in combination with the glory of Jesus, it becomes an act of worship and praise.

My friends, I believe we are called to boldly pray and believe for others the very same things we have received. Remember the story of healing I shared a while back about praying for a friend's thyroid to be healed because my thyroid had been healed. And she in turn was healed! I simply passed on the blessing I'd received and was doubly blessed to see God do this in another person. See the increase?

And don't be surprised if Jesus sets you up with divine appointments to encounter people who need your prayers. It is a beautiful set-up, my friends. One that will bless you even more profoundly than the first. It's absolute nonsense to the world, but it's exactly what God will use to make Himself known (1 Cor. 1:27-30). 

My friends, I thought this post was done when I wrote the above paragraph but this morning I had an experience that so profound shows how this works. In my last post, Waiting in the Delivery Room, Holly shared an amazing encounter she had with God. I asked her to pray for me to have an encounter like that too. And she did! 

I DECLARE that you will have an encounter with the God of all creation that will be even greater and more profound than that which I testify to!! Holy Spirit please fall on Dineen with power and fill her to overflowing with Your liquid love and supernatural peace! Get her good Lord so that she is forever changed by the love of her Father!!! You are a good good Father and worthy of our praise!!! In Jesus name....AMEN!!!!!!

That prayer was answered today in a most unexpected way. I was walking around the nearby park, listening to worship music, praying and praising God. I needed this terribly too, my friends, because I’d let in some “stinkin’ thinkin’” recently. God revealed to me that my heart wasn’t thankful. 

So, I chose to walk in my authority over my heart and feelings and turn that frown upside down, to use a cliche. Halfway into my second lap, I felt something…different. I looked up at the magnificent sky and it was like the presence of God fell on me!

And guess what happened next? You won’t believe it… I burst out in laughter. Big laughter. Belly laughter. Holy laughter… And I couldn’t stop. Right in the middle of the park. My friends, I kid you not. 

Holy laughter is something I’ve been asking Abba for for a while. And today was my day. I continued to laugh the rest of my walk around the park—in sudden bursts that doubled me over! I haven’t a clue what other people there thought, and, honestly, I don’t care. 

Today, my Papa God made me laugh! And I believe that was in part a result of Holly passing on her blessing to me (thank you so much, Holly!), which came in an unexpected (and foolish to the world perhaps?) way, and I believe this was also Abba’s way of honoring my decision to be obedient to rejoice in Him, to choose joy, and to walk in that attitude. No more stinkin’ thinkin’! 

And now, my dear friends, I pray for you to experience holy laughter. 

Lord Jesus, You came to set us free and to know Your peace and joy. I ask for holy laughter for our SUMite family. You know best when and how to bring it, Holy Spirit. Do what You do best! In the JOYFUL name of Jesus, amen!

Laughing with you, my friends, and rejoicing in Him!
SignatureGraphic2

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Footer w drop shadow


Unity Through Worship

12920277_sMy friends, I have so loved reading your comments on this worship series. You have shared your hearts and prayers. I have found myself inspired many times by what you share, have even prayed your words! And I know other have too.

We started this series with discussing Worship is More Than a Song, then moved into talking about Intimacy Through Worship and Living a Lifestyle of Worship. Today we will talk about unity through worship.

First, I want to share my first taste of corporate worship…

Anticipation buzzed in the air and the low rumble of voices. The stadium was packed. Thousands of believers stood ready and waiting to hear Third Day. Though I’d attended concerts before, this was my first Christian concert. Third Day came out, the music started, and soon, to my utter amazement, I stood, arms up like many there, not just singing to songs but worshiping God. Ten thousand strong. We didn't know each other, but we knew God.

I'll never forget that moment years ago. I felt like I had a glimpse of what Heaven would be like and I think I have sought after and hungered for more of it ever since. There is something powerful in corporate worship, about standing with our brothers and sisters in Christ and lifting our voices in song and praise. Just like Scripture says when two or more gather together, our prayers are heard, I believe when voices are raised together in true worship, we invite the presence of God to come as a community unified in love for God and each other and the desire to bring Him glory.

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” — Matthew 18:19-20 NLT

When we worship, He is there among us! Do you believe it?

Are you willing to trust Him with your heart so He can show you His?

This is the place I sense God calling us, His children, to grow the most right now as He is moving, shifting and about to turn things around (click to read about this in my Word of Encouragement post). It's about His children coming together in unified purpose—His purpose—to release the power of God over ourselves, the nations and the world. It is about experiencing a foretaste of Heaven and witnessing the body of Christ in presence and action.

Whether spoken prayers or sung words, this is His promise and our joy to experience His presence, to call out to our God and proclaim our Savior, to honor Him and bring Him great glory. The Creator of the Universe is blessed and pleased when His creation—His children—acknowledge Him.

The exchange is intimate, yet corporate. We stand in the shadow of Heaven to come, yet in the full inheritance of our identity as His children. It is stunning. It is powerful. It is a gift.

Saturday’s post and list talked about humility. Worship is that time to humble ourselves before God to worship in truth and spirit so that we may know Him better and join Him in His purposes.

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. — 1 Peter 5:6

I remember as a new believer standing in church or Bible study waiting for the music to be done so we could move on to the better stuff. Now I go to church excited, anticipating this opportunity to worship God with my church family and it is never long enough (as I shared we're in the baby stages of becoming a worshipping church).

My friends, my relationship with God and my kingdom perspective greatly expanded when I began worshiping, truly worshiping, God. I told you in the series I wrote about transforming the mind that God told me once that I would find Him in worship.

It is the truth. We find Him in astounding ways individually and, in a corporate setting, we find the power of His Presence and it is a game changer!

Again, I think I could go on and on here. Share in the comments what you have experienced in corporate worship. I know this kind of worship can be a challenge to find at times—I experience this myself, thus why I love the chance to go to faith conferences or Christian concerts. Or visit another church on occasion.

And be sure to come back Saturday for the conclusion of this series. This is one you won’t want to miss: Spiritual Warfare Through Worship. I will share a story of how I fought the enemy off with worship.

In the meantime, my SUM family, I am praying for our Great God to meet you in worship and show you His glory!
SignatureGraphic2

 

 

 

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Footer w drop shadow


Worship is More Than a Song

12920277_sMy friends, few weeks ago I asked Abba for a better understanding of what worship means to Him. If we look at worship from a worldly perspective, we can easily attribute human needs and behaviors, like ego and self centeredness to God, which is completely opposite of His selfless and merciful character. So I asked Abba to help me understand, and now I sense Him moving me to share what I'm learning with you.

And as I began writing what I thought would be a single post, a series emerged. I should have know that was coming considering the way He’s showing me things lately. LOL! Let me say that I believe we are being called to a higher expectation of worship as God’s children than we have in the past. There are multiple reasons for this and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you and hearing your thoughts and input. I know I’m not the only one God has led and is leading down this path.

My journey started in church one day about two years ago as I sat in the pews still unsure if I was in the right church anymore (I’ve attended my church since 2002). I clearly heard God say, “This is your church.”

Shortly after that He began moving me to pray for our church to be a worshiping church. Not long after I found out several people in our church body had been praying the same thing. Now we are in the process of seeking to put a part time worship leader on staff. Wow! God has heard our prayers!

Now this is what I felt God has impressed upon me these last few weeks. Worship is not something He needs. We need it and our relationship with Him needs it.

Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness. You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong. — Psalms 89:15-17 NLT

And worship is one of our greatest ways to seek and find God.

If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” — Jeremiah 29:13-14 NLT
"But from there you will search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him." — Deuteronomy 4:29 NLT

And just as there are many ways to hear God, I'm discovering there are many ways to worship God and all are part of an intimate relationship with our Creator.

Over the next couple weeks we will explore worship through daily living, intimacy with God, corporate worship and even spiritual warfare. I know I will learn even more as I write about this and share more.

In the meantime, think about what worship means to you and share in the comments. I may pluck a few and share them in later posts so be prepared! This is how we can grow together as a community and learn more about our amazing God and His heart for us.

I’m so excited to be on this journey with you and to see what God reveals!
SignatureGraphic2

 

 

 

 

Copyright: whitestone / 123RF Stock Photo

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Footer w drop shadow


Transforming the Mind: Thanking and Praising

ThemindMy friends, I’m amazed this series is continuing (I changed the main title to Transforming the Mind, because that is truly what it’s about, Romans 12:2!) So far we’ve covered Feasting on God’s Word, Claiming and Praying God’s Promises, Giving the Holy Spirit Authority, and last week, Pleading the Blood of Jesus.

When I started this series I suspected thankfulness and praise would be part of it, but up until a couple days ago I wasn't sure if this series had more. I kept asking Abba for what was next. Part of the answer arrived on Saturday, during of all places, a yard sale my family and I were doing to clean out some extra stuff in the form of a humble, older man.

Let me tell you a story about a man named Frank.

He stood by my the boxes of Christian fiction and nonfiction that I'd decided it was time to part with and the conversation began about his own writing and his wife's love of Christian fiction. Soon I would learn more about Frank that would stir my faith and hunger for more of God.

He shared a story of hearing God's voice tell him to go to a neighbor's house—a neighbor he barely knew. In obedience he went and found out a year of unemployment would leave the couple destitute if they didn't get work. Moved by Frank's belief in God's Word, they prayed with him and in less than a month, both were employed.

Frank then told us of how God placed him in such a time and place to pray for another unbeliever for terminal cancer, who is now cancer free. And yet another story of a woman desperate for work and ready to settle for part time, who after praying with Frank wound up with a full time job.

My daughter Leslie, who has been searching for a job for over a year, stood nearby with a big smile on her face. I could tell she was as touched as I was.

Then the words just blurted out, "Leslie, I think Frank should pray with you for a job. What do you think?"

It was a bold move for me to make. Though I know my daughter believes in God, knows Jesus as her Savior and has witnessed miracles in her own life, she is reticent to do things like this, to allow others to pray with her.

But I had nothing to lose and neither did she. I expected the usual look of discomfort and shake of the head, but what I witnesses surprised me.

She did a little hop forward and said, "Yes, please!"

There we stood, the three of us (which Frank was quick to point out the strength of two or more praying), hands joined and heads bowed. All while my husband mowed the yard with a rotary mower (no engine, no noise) just a few feet away! (He did later make a comment about introducing Frank to a book about coincidences, but I still believe the spiritual realm touched him.)

Astounding, truly. But I will tell you what stuck with me most. After we prayed, Frank looked at Leslie and told her not to ask for a job again. It was done. He referred to the Word again, saying that it was finished on the cross. He instructed her to give God thanks every day for her job.

My friends, I believe that job is already in place and that God will reveal it very soon. I can't wait to see what it is! And I'm inspired to make this a new pattern of thought and action by this event and God's Word:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. — Phil. 4:6-7

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. — Phil. 4:19

And my story continues. What happened Saturday kept me thinking all evening and Sunday morning. I went to church and little did I know that my pastor would drop another piece of this truth into place through the story of Job.

In our most trying and challenging times, our natural inclination is to ask for relief, deliverance, for the pain the go away. I know I do, and did, especially in the beginning of this journey God has had me on as He has done spiritual surgery on my heart, mind, soul and spirit. But the surgeon must make an incision and blood must flow in order for healing and restoration to come.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. — 1 Thess. 5:16-18

I know what you're thinking. How do we do this? When the darkness is thick enough to touch and our strength is gone, thankfulness is the last thing we want to practice. Let me point out that this piece of Scripture tells us to be thankful in all circumstances, not for the circumstances. Yes, there are times when we can be but others...perhaps God isn't asking for that. Perhaps He is asking that we be thankful for His presence, purposes and plans in the midst of it, even when the evidence isn't there yet or we just can't see it.

And this is the truth from Job that somehow hit me in a whole new way in this season that I am in. In those times when we think God isn't hearing or answering us, He is.

And His answer is Himself.

This goes beyond the truth that Jesus is the answer. This is literal and rooted deeply in the Father's love for us. Greater than the solution we have asked, begged and pleaded for, Abba literally gives us Himself. His presence, His comfort, His reassurance.

Perhaps the clouds of doubt, worry, fear and anxiety are hiding Him. This is where knowing God is good, knowing Who He is and believing Him, and trusting Him and His promises becomes so crucial to our faith journey. For this is the Light in us that parts those clouds to reveal the Son, Jesus who is in us and Who has been all along.

He is always there, closer than we realize, especially when He feels the furthest away. My friends, this is our truth and reality. Anything else is a lie that needs to go and be replaced with this truth. And it's one of the most transformative truths that changes not only our minds, but our hearts, feelings, emotions and reactions that I know of.

It's a daily choice, filled with the strength and love of Jesus, and it's ours to make. My love and prayers are always with you, my friends! Dineen

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Footer w drop shadow


Weekend Worship — Ascribe Unto the Lord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

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-

Footer w drop shadow


Fast Forward

6a00d83451ee9f69e2019b03b60213970c-320wi

Untitled2Are you experiencing a special closeness to the Lord at this point in the fast? Are you gaining insight through contemplation? Have you picked one word to focus on this year (See the post from Monday.) Take notes of any insights so you can reflect on them later this year. Savor this experience.

As Christians, we are told to deny ourselves (Luke 9:23). Praying and fasting is a very tangible way to do that. After our SUMite community fast ends tomorrow, some of you may want to plan to fast independently in the future.

Recently, I have done partial fasts a couple of times a week. This schedule works for me. Many people fast on Sunday mornings so that their first meal is Communion. I think that is a lovely practice. Some may fast on rare occasions when the Spirit calls them to it.

If you are finding a particular benefit through fasting, you may be tempted to take this practice to an extreme. God does not want us to deny ourselves good nutrition. And we can’t “earn” our way into Spirituality by fasting “harder.” Jesus spoke often against legalism. Here are a couple of relevant scriptures.

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility  and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. — Colossians 2:20-23

They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. — 1 Timothy 4:3

We are under grace, not under the law. (Romans 6:14) therefore, we don’t have to live under a set of rules. We follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. God loves to hear from us in prayer. And He loves us whether or not we are fasting.

If fasting becomes for you a show of personal will power, then stop and refocus on the Lord. If you are at the church building every time the doors are open, but your family feels neglected, then reconsider. You don’t have to prove anything to yourself or others. God wants our hearts. God loves you – period.

Keep these passages in mind as you contemplate whether to fast again in the near future. 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. — Ephesians 2:8-9

Conversation

Do you plan to fast again later this year?

What are some legalistic practices that are common today so that we can be aware of them?

Prayer

Dear Lord. Thank you for the time we spend in Your presence. How we love you. Let us accept your grace. Let us rest in You and not pressure ourselves to prove ourselves as Spiritual. You are our Sabbath rest. Amen.

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

Footer w drop shadow


A Letter From Heaven

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

My Beloved Child,

I have longed for this week ahead for many years. I’ve known that this consecrated and intensive time you have planned to spend with Me will bring about the answers to prayers you have uttered for many years. You have come to a place where you have released your desires and your control over your life and circumstances to truly allow me to be the LORD of your life. 

This is a surrendered life.
This is a life I will honor.
This is a life I will bless. 

A life-journey with Me is not for the faint of heart. It is not a life that is predictable. Often living in my Presence will stretch you and challenge you in ways and with people you thought not possible. But this journey is the BEST THING that will ever happen to you. I can be scary but I am always good. My calling and direction can bring about uncertainty. But hear Me today, My child. I am your sure foundation. I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. If you step away from Me and then remember to turn back to My face, please know that I stand assuredly beside you and will catch you if you fall. That is my promise. 

I delight in you. I sing over you in the morning. I dance above your head when you choose love over fear. ~Life over death. ~My Son over the lies of the enemy. I sit at your feet as you sleep and I whisper words of love and care into your dreams at night. I have sent blessings of provision when you didn’t know it was Me. I have opened your heart to love. I have allowed you glimpses of the supernatural and I have much, much more to give to you. I am the God who releases showers of riches, blessing, delights and mercies. 

Pray with faith and see if My Word proves true. 

I know you have toiled in long, laborious prayer for those who are lost and don’t know My love. I have listened to your words and have extended My Scepter of grace to you. You have walked in difficult relationships and yet you have not relented. Your words are a balm of oil that loosens the chains of the deceiver and opens the doors to broken and lost hearts. 

Don’t ever stop praying for them. I am at work in hundreds of ways you can’t conceive today. But, one day you will see everything I am doing to save your loved ones. It will bring tears of joy to your eyes. 

This next year is filled with promise. Make time for Me every day and allow Me to astonish you and leave you breathless. I have giant store rooms in heaven with gifts just for you. You hold the key to unlock the rooms. You have full access when you walk with Me and my Son. This year learn how to open the storehouses and discover the wealth, the healing, the laughter, the joy and the life that is the abundant life, a life lived in My Presence. 

I adore you. I sit on the edge of my seat cheering you on. I send angels to watch over you and to care for you and your family. My Son, the Glorified Prince, is your reward for a life well lived. 

So live the “real” life. It is an adventure unparalleled. You have My heart. I am eager to spend time with you this next week and reveal My work in your life. Seek the breakthroughs, relentlessly ask for more of Me and you will find….. all that you need. 

I love you with an eternal love,
Your LORD, The Almighty, The Great I Am. ~Your Papa

 

Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.…

Isaiah 33:6: Isaiah 50:4;Psalm 37:4 John 10:10; Deuteronomy 31:8

****In preperation for our fast, stop in on Sunday for our preperation post. Hugs, Lynn

 

In the comments below, write out your response to our LORD.

 

 

*****

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-

Footer w drop shadow


Weekend Worship — Stand Strong in Jesus

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. — Ephesians 6:10-12

My friends, today I  want to encourage to continue to stand strong in your faith, marriage and family; to be patient with how God is leading and moving you forward in your spiritual gifts and trust Him in that process; and to desire above all else His presence and to rest in Him.

Right now I'm reading Daniel and Revelations side by side and see more and more how our battles really are in the spiritual realm more than we realize. Thus why we must stand firm in Jesus. He is our strength, our rest and our unending source of hope. And hope is crucial to perseverance. Amen? Amen!

Cynthia-Ruchti_green_couch-150x150Over at our Mismatched & Thriving site, author Cynthia Ruchti shares an encouraging word about hope for those surviving the fallout of people's choices. She has graciously offered two copies of her book, Ragged Hope, to our SUM community. Leave a comment over at her post, HOPE RUSH, to enter the drawing for a copy (leaving one here doesn't count. LOL!) 

Mismatched-marriageAlso, Lynn and I are blogging once a month with ChooseNOW Ministries. Click HERE to read our first post there.

And finally, dear friends, I pray your weekend is full of love and hope, I pray that the extreme GOODNESS of our Lord manifests constantly in your lives, and I pray that the Holy Spirit fills you to overflowing and floods your home with His constant presence. I love this community so much and am praying for each of you.

Be shiney for Jesus!
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-

Footer w drop shadow


Weekend Worship — A Holy Encounter?

My friends, on Wednesday I left you with my story about a young man Tyler who prayed over me. I want to talk more about the purpose of prophesy in the church down the road, but for now please check out 1 Corinthians 14:3 which says that prophesy is for edification and exhortation and consolation. I describe it as having a word of insight and/or encouragement for another person that is from Jesus given to us by the Holy Spirit.

Ever give an encouraging word to a friend that you just knew in your heart was God’s truth for them? And when you told them, they lit up like a kid on Christmas morning? That’s giving a prophetic word to someone that’s intended to encourage and restore hope. (And don’t confuse prophets with the prophetic gift. You can walk in this gift and not be a prophet. They don’t go hand in hand.)

Now on to more of my Bethel story.

I woke up with great anticipation of what our last day at Bethel would bring. When I did a quick check of my email, this verse was waiting for me:

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act. — Psalm 37:7
I knew in my spirit that God was telling me to expect His move, because just a few weeks ago in a simple moment of daily activity, He had spoken to me that my anointing was coming. I had no idea what that meant, but had wondered if it might happen at Bethel.

Now as I read that verse again, I sensed that today would be the day. But I wondered, doubted at times too. Had I heard Abba’s still soft voice? And what did Abba have in store for me?

We found our seats for the day’s events and wound up sitting behind two gentlemen, Matt and Marcus. As the day progressed we were blessed to learn more about these two men, who said that God sent them to various churches to pray over and encourage people. Matt shared a story that was absolutely stunning.

The year before he’d gone to the healing rooms at Bethel to be prayed over. He said the woman praying over him had her hands on his chest and when she took them away, her hands were covered in oil! Then she put her hands on his head and began to shake. She startled back and asked him, “Who are you?!”

After hearing this amazing story we asked them to pray over us and Matt jumped to it so quickly I could barely keep up. This guy prayed with fire and conviction! I can’t remember everything Matt prayed because it was so POWERFUL! He prayed anointings over Lynn and I and over this community and this ministry.

Through the day I kept thinking of that verse and wondering what Abba had in mind. Then it happened. During the worship session I felt God’s power come down on me. My lungs felt like they’d taken residence in my throat as I tried to catch my breath.

And I heard, “Your anointing is here.”

My friends, Abba intends that we walk in His anointings of power and the spiritual gifts He has for us. Look at what 2 Corinthians 1:21 says:

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

Amazing, isn’t it? I don’t understand all of it yet, but I believe it’s part of the prophetic gift God has given me and the oil of joy, which I’m still researching and and grasping. (Check out Psalm 45:7 and Isaiah 61:3.)

The next day I recorded as much as I could remember. I got to the part about Matt and Markus and suddenly felt the Holy Spirit kind of move over me. Hard to explain but with it came the thought that Matt and Marcus were like Matthew and Mark, apostles called to share the Good News and encourage the early churches. Somehow I knew that meant something.

A few days after we got back, Lynn emailed Marcus and mentioned my “crazy” thought. He wrote back that his actual given name is Mark Andrew! God is such a blast. I do believe that these two men carry the anointing of the disciples of the past, Matthew and Mark. I don’t know how I know it, but I do. There was no doubt about the power of God resting on these two men, that’s for sure. My friends, we (that means you too!) were prayed over by Matthew and Mark! :-)

So what did this all lead to? Something astonishing that I never expected. I will finish that story next week. Hang with me. This one may just rock you as much as it rocked me. It’s a story that started with tears, which led to a prophetic declaration, another round of tears and then PEACE! Abba is so good!

Can’t wait to share all that with you, my friends. In the meantime, keep asking Jesus what He has for you. He may ask you to give Him something first, like your spouse, your full heart, or maybe a stronghold that He’s desperate to see you free from. He came to set us free (Galatians 5:1), so He will not let us stay in those places—He wants us free! And the more you let go of that stuff, the more room you make in your heart and spirit for His Holy Spirit to fill you up and overflow—and that’s what changes lives and the atmosphere right in our own homes.

Right now, the abundant life waits for all of us—a life full of Jesus’ power, love and presence. It’s yours to claim and pursue, SUMites. Are you willing?

Love you like crazy!
Dineensig 

*****

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-

Footer w drop shadow


Preparing For Breakthrough

IMG_1093[1]It’s Monday. The Labor Day holiday here in America so many of you are away from your home and computer. But when you check in on Tuesday, I don’t want you to be out of the loop. Beginning tomorrow, our community is going to have a week of prayer and a day of fasting (fast is on Thursday). Tuesday through Friday with our week culminating on Saturday in worship. 

But for the next four days we are going to pray specifically for ourselves. This is not a typical prayer focus as we are Prayer Warriors so often for others. Our spouse, children, our church, neighbors, the world. However, starting tomorrow we will spend time specifically focused on praying for our needs and our soul. We will spend time just soaking in God’s Presence. 

My sincere hope for this week is that we experience a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit’s power, authority and His lavish love. And secondly that we have a breakthrough in some personal area where we struggle. I know for me, I have a GIANT thorn in my life; I’m specifically seeking healing and deliverance. 

This community will be fasting on Thursday. A daytime fast. Sunrise to Sunset. To seek God and achieve that breakthrough. This Thursday is Rosh Hashanah and I will be talking about why that is significant in our evangelical faith. (Look up the sunrise and sunset times in your area)

Get ready. Fall is approaching. Kids are back in school. The holidays will be here before we know what hit us. This week is the beginning of a beautiful season and a time when we can grow personally in our love relationship with Jesus and with others. 

Lord, anoint this time. Give us a fresh Holy Spirit fire in our hearts. Help us to pray with passion for our personal breakthroughs and pray for our personal healing and to seek Your Heart with new passion. Lord, teach us to pray so that when we speak, the heavens rattle in reply and activity because we asked for action on this earth. Lord, let us be those who bring Your Kingdom to earth. Let our prayers this week change the atmosphere in our homes, workplaces and everywhere. Let people who are around us perceive we are different and give us courage to share with them, why we are different. 

Fill us to overflowing with love so we love You more and love people. In your Son’s name, our King Jesus. Amen. 

Also, every Monday, Dineen and I will have a new blog post up at Mismatched & Thriving. And if you haven’t checked out the forums, you are missing some great stuff. Join the conversations. 

I love you. I really love you and deeply care for your heart, your spirit, your marriage and family. Hugs, Lynn

PS. For those of you who are new to SUM, this is a taste of our week of prayer and fasting that we have every year in January. There are so many wonderful things about our community and this is one of my favorites. *smile*

*****

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-

Footer w drop shadow


Welcome... And Who Are You?

 

Blue shirt profile 4
Lynn Donovan
Who am I?  

I’m ordinary. I’m a mom, a wife, a weekend gardener and a follower of Jesus. I’m a believer who is sold out for my Papa, Daddy and I refuse to live lifeless Christianity any longer. I believe the Bible. Every Word. 

I love people and like flowers. I see God’s face in nature. Every…. single….. day…. I hear His voice and I live on the edge because God likes surprises and He still training me. I refuse to live a comfortable faith because that JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH anymore. I am in His army and I’ve been bloodied but I’ve also watch God move in the supernatural that leaves me undone. ON THE FLOOR…. undone. 

Children are God’s best gift in life. And I believe in marriage and as a follower of Jesus I can THRIVE in my marriage, parenting and live a life of joy and abundance--God’s abundance. 

I am a woman who prays with real belief and passion asking for more love to love my God and His people and to especially love the un-lovely in my sphere influence. 

I’m a bit zany, ask Dineen! And I have blonde moments. But, I KNOW my Lord and He knows me. I love fall leaves and Fantasy Football, and also my whacky dog, Peanut. I can’t wait to get up in the morning to see what adventures my Daddy has instore for me. 

Life is full. It’s sometimes pain. It’s often puzzling and yet absolutely astonishing because I spend it with Jesus. 

I’ve seen feathers falling from the sky where they shouldn’t, I find doves everywhere (My every day miracles), I’ve had gold dust appear on my hands and I’ve been overwhelmed to the point of shaking under the love and power of my God. I believe in the gifts of the Spirit and that His Holy Presence is walking with me and sits upon my right shoulder. I’ve prayed for healing for me and others and to my complete amazement, God answers my prayers. 

I’m an ordinary woman who will settle for nothing less than being a sold out Jesus follower for the rest of my life. 

Join me and let’s do this journey together. Dineen and I share our hearts, our homes and our love for our Papa here. It’s a safe place where you can find refuge from the world. A place where judgment dies and people are free. This place is where Jesus shows up on the web and changes us. He really changes us and He is good. We are a family here and our passion is to love God with all of our heart and to love people. 

It’s one of the best places in the world, the heart of God. And if you are new here, you are in for the ride of your life. Today may be the day you too will join us and become a follower of Jesus and leave life-less Christianity behind… Because we want the miracles. And God does not disappoint. 

We love you so very much. 

Lynn Donovan
& Dineen Miller 

Okay, in the comments, TELL ME, WHO ARE YOU?

Visit, Mismatched & Thriving for more information and resources for the Spiritually Mismatched. And a GREAT BIG WELCOME to all who found us through Dr. Jame's Dobson's Family Talk. 

*****

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-

Footer w drop shadow