278 posts categorized "Trust"

The Promise of His Covenant

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SUMites, I pray this week of fasting has brought you encouragement and strength this week. I wish I could have fasted more, but my pain medication only allowed me to fast a couple mornings. I am encouraged however that even in the midst of this recovery, which has made focusing on God very challenging, I was still able to hear His heart for our community. That right there knocked another lie out of my spiritual life. For that I am grateful. He has shown me that even in such places of challenge when I don't feel close to Him, He is still speaking and He will make sure I hear Him. 

Our own Cindy C. shared this profound truth perfectly: "Trust God's hold on you MORE than your hold on God." (Thank you, Cindy!)

Now, the rest of Abba's message for us is in Jeremiah 33, where I started on Tuesday. I am sharing here only the key verses so read the entire chapter if you can and seek God to bring this promise into your heart and home.

Then this city (our homes) will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them. — Jeremiah 33:9

The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing, ‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, for the Lord is good. His faithful love endures forever!’ For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord. — Jeremiah 33:11

And this will be its name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ (Yahweh Tsidqenu) —Jeremiah 33:16 (Prophetic reference to 2 Cor. 5:21: We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus)

“This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me." — Jeremiah 33:20-21 (The covenant with David was the prophetic word and promise of Jesus coming.)

My friends, as I read this part, Holy Spirit whispered John 3:16 to my heart. We know this verse well...

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. — John 3:16-17

And this is God's reassurance that He will do what He has said. My friends, I hear God speaking this to us right now, that He is faithful and nothing will stop or hinder the promise He has given us. 

But this is what the Lord says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.” — Jeremiah 33:25-26 

SUMites, this is a powerful promise. Jesus is the final covenant. For two weeks now 2 Peter 3:9 has shown up over and over again. Our God has not been slow to answer our prayers for our pre-believers. He's just been setting things up for the right time so the revelation of His covenant (Jesus) to our pre-believers would be so full that they would turn to Him with their entire hearts (wholehearted!), just as He said in Jeremiah 24:7.

I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly. — Jeremiah 24:7

I believe with my whole heart that time is now, SUMites. It's our harvest time! Hallelujah and Praise Jesus! Amen!
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Praying for Figs

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My friends, I’ve been praying for our community and seeking God’s heart for us these last two weeks. Reading your comments and hearing your heart has so encouraged me. I love seeing God work in your lives!

SUM family, I believe God has given me a powerful word for our community. When I first heard Holy Spirit speak this to me, I was quite stunned and then realized this was not only a word for me but a corporate word as well for our SUM community. I've been praying into this for understanding and leading for us. 

That word is SALVATION.

As I prayed for understanding and wisdom as to what this word means for us, Holy Spirit kept taking me to Jeremiah, a very challenging book to read in the Bible. But thankfully His intentions became clear as I came to chapter 24:

After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord.

One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten.

And the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”

Then the word of the Lord came to me:

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans.

I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up.

I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. — Jeremiah 24:1-7

The Holy Spirit impressed upon me that our pre-believers are like those good figs and then He showed me how we are to pray for them in connection to our word, salvation. My friends, I am so excited to see what God does in 2016 in our community. I also believe that this year's most important mission for us each is to "plump" our pre-believers up with our love, the love of Jesus.

My friends, pray with me today as we fast and let's commit to praying the following prayers throughout this next year. Let's determine to walk in faith that God's will and purpose for our pre-believers will be done.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, set Your eyes on our pre-believers for good. Bring them to the land of faith. Build them up and plant them with deep roots. Give them a heart to know You are the Lord. Fill us with Your love in great abundance so that we can pour that love into our pre-believers so they will be plump figs for Your harvest.

Declaration: Lord, we declare that __________ will be Your people and You will be his God, for they shall return and turn to You with their whole heart. In the Mighty name of Jesus, amen!

And there is more. On Thursday I will share more of what God's heart is for us in 2016 and how He used my pastor to confirm it. Absolutely astonishing! 

I love you, SUMites. I know we walk a difficult path but our God has not abandoned us. Far from it. He has placed us where we are for specific purposes. I will share more on Thursday. 
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Seek and Listen

Jer33-3SUMites, as we prepare for our fast next week, I would like you to begin asking God for specific words and/or impressions from Him for yourself and for your family. I do this each year and God either gives me specific words or impression for me and each of my family members just about every year. I've already begun doing this and will be sharing what God is speaking to my heart about you and His heart for our SUM community for 2016. I am so excited to tell you more next week.

If this is a struggle for you, don’t stress over it. Just sit in a quiet place, pray Jeremiah 33:3 and if you “hear” a word, see a word in your mind, get an impression or feeling, write it down. I find at times what I first receive may seem unclear or confusing but as I continue to press in and pray, Holy Spirit unfolds its meaning. 

I love you, my SUM family. It is my honor and privilege to be in prayer for you too as you seek God's heart.
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My Unexpected Christmas

933344_i_love_youHappy (almost) New Year, my dear friends! I feel like I've been on a long trip and haven't seen my family in a long time. And now I've come back home. I've missed you! My shoulder surgery went well, and I've started physical therapy. This whole process has been much more difficult and painful than I anticipated, which has made working at my desk and typing next to impossible. But day by day I'm healing and am able to do more. Please be patient with me as I ease back into writing here and please know how much your prayers and words have helped encourage and sustain me.

What I want to share with you today is about what God did in all this process. The day before my surgery I sat in my quiet time, sad and a bit fearful. Not about my surgery but about Christmas. I was struggling with being apart from my daughters for the first time at Christmas and trying to figure out how to handle it all without diminishing my husband's Christmas by making him think I couldn't enjoy the holiday with just him. I hope that makes sense. 

As I sat there praying, God whispered to my heart, "Give Me Christmas, Dineen."

I realized in that moment that I was still trying to "salvage" Christmas, to cling to what I knew and make it work in spite of the distance between us and our girls, my surgery and recovery, and my daughter's heart issues. I didn't know what God had in mind or what Christmas would look like in His hands, but I said yes. "Take it, Lord. It's all Yours."

After the surgery I was surprised by how little I could do and thankful we'd managed to get our shopping done before hand. I could do little more than sit on the couch with my right shoulder strapped to my Iceman (a icing system). I was so grateful to have my husband's selfless attention to take care of me as well as my mother and mother-in-law who helped as well. Not exactly easy to do for this girl who's so used to taking care of everyone else and herself.

And God worked in and through it all. Smoothed my mama-worries over my girls having a good Christmas—they worked our their own plans to be together and did the same traditions we always did together. We were able to FaceTime (love technology!) on Christmas Eve and open our gifts together.

I was able to be present at the infamous cake baking day the women in my husband's family do each year, even though they didn't let me do much (probably a good thing!). And Christmas with my husband's family was warm and fun. 

It was not at all the Christmas I expected—one I attempted to hold together myself and lived in fear of it falling apart. Instead it was full of love, care and a deeper closeness to my husband that never expected would happen in such circumstances.

My friends, I am the first to admit I like the safe route. I like to know the outcome ahead of time, because it gives me a sense of security. I have a feeling many of you can relate to that as well. 

But God doesn't work that way, does He? He wants to be our security and place of safety so that we rely and trust in Him instead of ourselves, our own abilities and our circumstances. I do find it challenging to live in that place with Him, but I am learning—though quite painfully at times (hee hee)—to let go and trust God.

Here's a verse that I've been pondering this Christmas season and holding close to my heart and limited abilities at the moment.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. — 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)

SUMites, that last part of the verse brings me great reassurance that even when we think we fall short or we haven't quite got things right, our attempts are not in vain. Every single prayer, act of service, word of encouragement, etc. is significant. We may not see the results but they are there none-the-less. God knows. God sees. That's what counts. He knows our hearts no matter what the outcome—or lack of one—may appear to be. He has the full picture and puts the pieces together as only He can.

God called me to let go of what I knew so He could so something new in me. My greatest lesson this Christmas was that it didn't have to be perfect or according to my expectations to be a great Christmas. How about you? What did God show you during this most precious time of the year? I love you, my SUM family. I'm so glad to be back here and look forward to your comments.
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The Promise of Christmas

IMG_4705One of my favorite traditions of Christmas is the advent wreath. I first observed this at our international church while living in Switzerland and fell in love with the candles and their meaning. Every year I’ve used or remade our wreath, searching for just the right candles each year.

But this year wound up a little different than I expected (there’s that word again). I’d actually prayed a few times over the years for a really nice wreath and candle holder. This year I wanted to find something different. These were simple desires I thought about and left unspoken.

And this is the year that Abba surprised me with a new one. The most interesting part of this story is that I wasn’t the one to find it. My husband did. How’s that for some Christmas humor and delight?

We saw this candle holder in a store and both loved it. I saw it only in the light of a decorative piece for our home. To my surprise, my husband pointed out how well it would work for an advent wreath too! Even the store clerk seemed surprised that my husband mad the suggestion.

My friends, I cherish this new piece in our home not just for it’s beauty and design, but for it’s meaning. The more I study it, the more meanings the Holy Spirit shows me. Now I will look at this candle holder—year round—and see the reminder of God’s love for me in a small detail and how He used my husband to bring it to my attention.

Sometimes our desires and hopes are met in the most surprising ways. I’d expected, looked in one direction. God showed me another one—one I never would have expected or thought of.

I find this faith walk lately to be a delicate balance of holding hope tightly and holding expectations very loosely. I don’t think it’s wrong to have expectations—the Bible even tells us to  wait expectantly on the Lord. The challenge is to have ones wrapped in hope and to not hold them so tightly that we miss other possibilities. God is the God of possibilities—He makes the impossible possible.

As I reread the Gospels telling of Jesus’ birth, the Holy Spirit has stopped me at the feet of Luke 1:45.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 

This verse reminded me of Jesus’ words to Thomas.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” — John 20:29 (NIV)

As believers we are asked to believe what we haven’t yet seen. To take the step of faith without proof, yet believe it will come. To persevere even when everything around us tells a different story.

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. — Hebrews 10:36 (NLT)

This verse has taken a place in my recent journal entries and I find myself returning to it frequently. And today I noticed it precedes one of the most powerful parts of Scripture in the Bible.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. — Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

Before the baby Jesus and our Messiah was ever birthed in the natural realm, He was prophesied and birthed in the spiritual. The Old Testament is the promise, the New Testament is the fulfillment.

Jesus is our greatest example of holding hope, persevering for its revelation (pregnancy), and waiting for its arrival (birth). Christmas is a yearly reminder of His revelations and the revelations to come. And we hold this hope not only for ourselves but for our pre-believers and our families, dear friends.

SUMites, we are blessed because believe the Lord will fulfill His promises to us. We persevere, and though at times we may falter, we continue hold hope in our hearts. 

And Jesus is that eternal hope. Merry Christmas!
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Moments of Delight and Moments of Despair

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The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

My friends, it’s great to be back with you! I had an amazing week in New York City with my mother and dear friend Sally, who is also my son-in-love’s mother. Definitely a family trip filled with special surprises and blessings that I know came from God’s heart to delight us. And I am moved and impressed by the heart of this city and and what it has endured. There is a sense of strength and unity there.

I was profoundly moved by the 9/11 Memorial and took significant notice that majority of those around us on that particular day were from other parts of the world. They traveled to our country, to New York City, to specially see this memorial and museum. The most emotional part for us was to listen to our tour guide describe this day from her first hand experience. At the time she worked in one of the buildings behind ground zero. 

Then we were dazzled by the lights of the city and the Christmas windows at Macy’s, Tiffany’s, Saks and many others. The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center took my breath away as it stood tall and sparkled. I felt like a kid at again at the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show featuring the Rockettes and Santa Claus.
What surprised us there was the how the show concluded with the true Christmas story, the birth of Jesus, with as much beauty and detail as the rest of the show. And the audience response was outstanding.

I’m so grateful for this experience, dear friends. And yet I am about to write the most difficult part of this post. After coming home from all this excitement, I’m now facing the reality of spending this Christmas without my daughters. I truly am struggling with this, to be completely honest. I’m realizing how much I’ve loved sharing the true meaning of this holiday with my daughters and how much that filled that lonely place in my heart that we’ve been talking about here.

Several of you talked about expectations and letting them go. I believe that is part of the journey I’m on right now is to readjust my expectations of doing Christmas without my daughters with us. Just about every ornament on our tree has a story and a sentiment behind it to our family. So you can imagine how decorating the Christmas three last night without them was a teary-eyed event.

My morning walk was more like a walk and cry. LOL! I miss my girls so much. I shared that with God, pouring out my heart to Him. I know He brought us to Sarasota and has plans for us here, some of which I am watching unfold, but I was honest with Him. What I didn’t expect was how He would share His heart with me.

“Lord, this is hard. I miss my girls so much.”

As I let the words flow honestly, this is what I felt He said to me.

“Trust Me, I know that pain, that ache. For every one of my children who don’t know Me yet and aren’t walking with Me, I ache. I hurt. I long for them to come to me. Dineen, I feel your pain and even more so.”

Wow! Talk about putting things into perspective! In that moment I felt His comfort as well as a renewed fire to share His love with everyone I can in this hurting world. It didn’t diminish the ache in my heart for my girls to be with me for Christmas, dear friends, but it did comfort me to know my Papa God understands my heart and shared His with me. 

So, including the negative ones that have a way of becoming self-fulfilling, I’m letting go of all expectations for this Christmas. Except for one.

I am making room in my aching heart with the expectation for God to fill it with His presence, His comfort, His peace, and even something special. I don’t know what—I want to just let that unfold  in an unexpected delight, much the way several moments did in New York.

My friends, please know that I am praying for you and this community and I would like to thank you for your prayers for me and my family too. My youngest daughter Leslie was just diagnosed with pericarditis (inflammation around her heart) and the doctors are trying to figure it out why. I will have surgery next week on my shoulder and hope (and maybe a little expecting too) to be back to fully capacity quickly. 

I love you, my friends. I’m so thankful for you, for this community. Lynn and I marvel at our love and unity here and praise God for it. We are so thankful and grateful to be a part of your lives, especially at Christmas!

I leave you with a few more images... Hugs! ~Dineen

 

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Last piece removed from ground zero.


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One of Macy's Charlie Brown Christmas windows.


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The Rockets!


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Me standing on the Bow Bridge. Finally saw this beautiful and romantic bridge in person!


And finally...

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The Miller Christmas tree in Florida! (No palm trees were harmed in the decoration process.)

 

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How Many Ways Does God Speak?

6a012875bda851970c01bb08880261970d-250wiMy friends, I loved reading your comments on Tuesday. What a wealth of wisdom, honesty and encouragement. We are part of such an amazing community. I have no doubts that our church without walls makes our Papa God very proud.

Much of what I’m sharing with you is simply from the journey God has had me on to walking in my healing and prophetic calling. It is challenging because hearing God is crucial! I want to be like Jesus and do only what the Father does.

Sometimes we need to wait for the Holy Spirit to lead, but other times we need to just step forward in faith because of what we already know to be true about God.

For example, I know from God’s Word that Jesus healed and called use to do even greater works than He did. God has called me to work in the healing rooms, so I pray with a team for people who come in seeking God for healing either physically, spiritually, and/or emotionally. 

This experience and seeing how God works has grown my faith and belief. Now God even moves me to pray for people randomly as I’m out and about. First, it is my reassurance of what I do not see, Jesus’ healing, that motivates me to pray for others, but it’s a great step of faith for me to do this outside of the healing rooms, because I’m the one initiating the conversation. 

How do I know who and when? I listen and take note of significant elements—something I’ve learned to do by trial and yes, error at times. LOL! For example, on Monday I went to pick up my poochies from the groomer. In the parking lot I saw a man walking to his truck, and I could see walking was painful for him. I prayed silently for his healing. 

Then I “heard” a very faint voice say, “Pray for him.” To be honest, I wasn’t sure if that was God or my own desire to see this man healed. But you know what, even if I didn’t know for sure, I would still have the reassurance of Scripture that Jesus heals and He has called us to pray for healing for others. See what I’m saying? Some things we’ve already been told to do.

As this was processing in my mind, this man started his car and Christian music blasted out. I knew then this was a divine appointment. I turned around and started a conversation with this gentleman, starting with the music—we both enjoy this radio station, we are fellow believers. So then I simply asked about his leg. He explained the details (knee cartilage was gone—I say was because I am believing in his complete healing) and that he had gone to healing rooms for prayer. I simply asked if I could pray over his knee, which he was very happy for me to do.

I’m believing for Ray’s healing (please join me in that prayer, my friends), but what I want to share is what this divine appointment reveals.

  1. The Holy Spirit took my inclination to pray for this man’s healing to myself and turned it into a nudge to action. (Thoughts)
  2. God affirmed this with the music, an outside stimulus. (Hearing)
  3. The outcome of this encounter is positive no matter the result, which is in God’s hands. But both this gentleman and I were both encouraged—he for his healing and me in my faith. And amazingly, my friends, I needed a boost that day. So, again, I am in awe of the multi-purposed plans of God. And don’t you find it interesting that this happened on Monday, the day I needed to write my posts for the week and had prayed for Holy Spirit’s help to write about the ways we hear God?

There are many ways we can hear God. My example showed how the Holy Spirit spoke in my thoughts and through music. The Holy Spirit often will give me vivid picture of an event or just words that make no sense to me but turn out to be significant to the person I’m praying for. I am always astonished and encouraged when He does this and I pray that wonder never stops!

I’d like to finish this post with a short video by Pastor Kris Vallotton. This 11 minute clip completely opened up my understanding of how to hear God. It showed me that I’d put emphasis on only one way to hear God. Not only did it help me identify other ways I was hearing but also to understand they were as important as that still small voice. I pray it inspires, encourages and blows the doors wide open to greater faith in hearing God. It did for me so now I pray for that breakthrough and blessing for you too, my friends. 

Love you!
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Was That God I Really Heard?

6a012875bda851970c01bb08880261970d-250wiWelcome to November, SUMites! Can you believe we are already approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas? I’m already seeing ads and decorations everywhere. These are clear “signs” of what’s coming soon.

You know, these are physical signs of the approaching holiday season. We see the evidence with our eyes. With my nose I smell the evidence every time I go to the grocery story and inhale the fragrant cinnamon brooms and pinecones for sale. And soon I’ll hear it with my ears as Christmas tunes flood the stores and radio stations.

The thing is, we would know these holidays are coming even without these evidences, because we know what time of year it is. We know these are established seasons that we witness every year. We recognize and know what to expect. We didn’t know this from birth but from experience. So in a way, you could say that our expectation in January that Thanksgiving and Christmas will come again is kind of an act of faith. We believe it, because of our experience.

Hearing God can operate in the same way at times but most of the time, it’s an act of faith first—first to believe that God speaks to us and to believe He answers.

Dawn B. shared a comment on my last post, Can We Hear God?

“My problem isn't hearing Him, it's questioning if I heard correctly.”

As our faith grows (remember, Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith so we are continually growing), we learn to trust that we are hearing the Holy Spirit and hearing Him correctly. That’s when repetition and experience confirm we are hearing correctly, and we grow more confident in what we are hearing from God and become quicker and bolder in obedience. 

For example, God used Dawn’s comment to make it clear to me this would be the next topic in this series (which I hadn’t planned to be series but God clearly did). I knew right away in my spirit that’s what God wanted. Hearing God is an act of faith, and trusting what we have heard is an act of faith as well.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. — Hebrews 11:1

Jim Edwards left a wonderful reply to Dawn’s comment that I want to share with you as well.

“I love what Bill Johnson teaches, that will help you. It's a good father's responsibility to make sure he speaks in a way that their child hears. Now Bill should know 'cause his son Eric has severe hearing loss, so whether that means speaking louder, or facing them so they can lip-read, or whatever, then this is what he does. Now our Heavenly Papa has to be a so-much-better Dad. If you're listening—He’ll make sure you hear correctly.”

Again it is an act of faith, of belief, that our Father God will makes sure we hear Him correctly. We probably won’t get it perfectly down in the beginning, if ever, my friends. We are human and things like unforgiveness, resentment, pride and fear can get in the way. But the more we take the risk, as Lynn mentioned, and step out in faith, the better we get at it. But first we must choose to believe that God will lead us.

The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. — Psalm 37:23

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

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. — 2 Cor. 2:14

The Bible is full of verses that speak of God’s heart to lead and guide us, so I find what Jim shared to be very comforting and affirming. Our God loves us and wants us to hear Him, so it makes sense that He would make sure we hear Him correctly. And He will catch us if we stumble. 

Before Jesus came, the priests would use the Urim and Thummim to seek God and they trusted the result because they believed God controlled the outcome of this “toss of the dice” method (scholars are not entirely sure what these elements looked like). But we carry the very Spirit of God in us! Think about that. Doesn’t it makes sense that He will work in us to be sure we hear correctly? I head Pastor Eric Johnson once say, “God trusts us more than we trust ourselves.”

SUMites, you helped me write this post today. Is that cool or what? On Thursday, we’ll talk about the ways we hear God, another great point brought out in the comments on my last post, so let’s keep this ball rolling. How do you usually hear God and what affirms for you that you’ve heard Him correctly?

Can’t wait to read your comments! And be sure to check back tomorrow for another surprise we have for you… Love you!
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Can We Hear God?

IStock_000014889792XSmallMy friends, I love our Lord so much. I sat in my quiet time yesterday morning and asked the Holy Spirit what our SUM family needed right now. What did He want me to write about next? I followed His leading and listened and He showed me that after the Abundant Life series, He wants you to know that you can and do hear God. 

Last weekend a dear friend of mine said she didn’t know what to do about her future and wasn’t hearing God. Said she couldn’t hear Him. And I so understood the cry of her heart, because I have been there. I believed that God was either silent, or I couldn’t hear Him.

SUM family, I think we all have struggled in this place at some point and some of us still do. Well today I have some biblical truths for you that will blow those lies of the enemy out of your heart and mind. You will start to hear God more and be amazed when you do.

I know this because I’m sharing my story—my testimony with you. These are the truths the Holy Spirit showed me, which increased my ability to hear Him. 

First, we need to believe He hears us. The Bible is full of verses that state this truth.

But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. — Psalm 18:6

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. — Psalm 34:4

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish. He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me! — Jonah 2:1-2

These are Old Testament references, before Jesus died for us and gave us His Holy Spirit. So, doesn’t it stand to reason that if the Spirit of God dwells in us, we will hear Him?

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one. — John 10:27

SUMites, this is the foundation of what the Holy Spirit showed me. The enemy wants us to think we can’t hear God, or that God won’t answer us. But God’s Word, which is irrefutable truth, tells us He hears us and we will hear Him. Just believing this one truth alone and praying with the expectation to hear Him has increased my ability to hear Him in powerful ways.

Belief is so crucial, my friends. Believe God’s Word, truly believe it. Don’t just speak it but truly seek to believe it. The Holy Spirit will transform our minds (Romans 12:2) with the Word of God and the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6).

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. — 1John 5:14-15

SUMites, as I continue working in the healing rooms here, the Holy Spirit shows me over and over again that lies are at the sources of so much of our pain and struggles. They drive our mind and motivations in the wrong direction and keep us from all that God has for us.

So if you have believed the lie that God doesn’t heart you, that you can’t hear Him, that He doesn’t answer you, pray this prayer with me today:

Lord Jesus, I believe that you came and died for me, therefore Your Holy Spirit dwells in me. Therefore, You are my Good Shepherd, I am your sheep and I hear Your voice. I believe that You hear every prayer and I believe that You have answers for me. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Now I want to pray this for you, SUMites:

Lord Jesus, in Your name I bind the lies that have told us we can’t hear you, and I anoint the ears of every person reading this to hear You clearly, in every way You desire to speak to them. I bless them with the ability to recognize your voice above all others. In the True and powerful name of Jesus, amen!

I love you, SUMites! Let me know if you've prayed with me today so I can stand in agreement with you. Walk in confidence that Your God hears you and He WILL answer you.
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What Does Thankfulness Do?

3KeysSUM family, we talked last week about the first two keys, forgiveness and love. On the subject of love I just want to make one more point that the Holy Spirit reminded about me over the weekend. 

We reference 2 Timothy 1:7 frequently when we talk about fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

We’ve been given love in our spirit. I just want to point that out in case you’re feeling like you can’t love your pre-believer or someone else in your life well enough. The truth is, on you’re own steam, you can’t, but as a child of God, you can. God’s Word says you have a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. And I love how these three are bundled up.

Love without God’s power runs out. Power without God’s love turns manipulative and self-seeking. And self-discipline without love and power is ineffective. All three are necessary and work best together. I could write even more on this subject alone, but let’s move on to our third key, thankfulness.

The Holy Spirit has been showing me how important thankfulness is to our walk of faith and the abundant life. Let me start with a story first. Several months ago, I was struggling a bit in my faith walk and couldn’t figure out why. I sat one morning in prayer and asked the Holy Spirit for help.

He said, “You’re not being thankful.”

At His words I realized I’d done more grumbling than thanking lately. Not grumbling in the sense of complaining, though I’m sure I did some of that too, but more in the sense of continuing to ask over and over again without faith.

The Bible has a lot to say about thankfulness. Psalm 50:15 calls it a “sacrifice of thanksgiving,” which it is when we’re called to be thankful in difficult situations and times.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. — 1 Thess 5:18

And let me point out that this verse doesn’t say to be thankful for the circumstances but to be thankful in them. I do not believe we are called to be thankful for an illness, a catastrophe, poverty—things that are clearly not from the hand of a loving God. But we can be thankful in them that God’s presence is working to help us in whatever situation we are in to bring redemption and goodness from it. 

When in doubt, reread Romans 8:28. Let your world and perspective revolve around this verse and watch how dramatically your life and how you live your life will change!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. — Rom 8:28

So back to my story. Yes, my friends, I repented of my unthankfulness and began intentionally being thankful. And I began to take notice of the effect thankfulness has on me—spiritually, mentally and even physically. These are my observations:

Being thankful:

  • Brings peace in every situation (Col 3:15)
  • Encourages and releases healing—spiritually, physically and mentally (Col 1:11-13)
  • Gives a sense of well-being (Col 2:6)
  • Brings our heart into alignment with God’s (Eph 5:20)
  • Releases the Holy Spirit to work (1 Thess 5:19)
  • Builds our faith and trust in God because as we are asking in prayer, we are then thanking him for the answer (Phil 4:6-7)

My friends, I want you to try your own experiment with thankfulness. Try one of two things: 

  • Start a thankful journal. Writing down five things every day that you are thankful for. Try not to repeat.
  • Sit in a quiet place and think about one thing that you are struggling with. Now, shift your mind to God and start thanking Him for one positive aspect of that situation. 

Perhaps your marriage—thank God for one aspect of your husband that you truly love. God designed your pre-believer just like He did you. Find the gold and appreciate it. Talk to God about this. Do this everyday and then at the end of the week, ask yourself how you’re feeling and thinking about your marriage now.

A situation at work—focus on the rest of your job that you are thankful for. Do this every day before you leave. Then email me and tell me about the day one of your co-workers commented on how you’ve changed and how positive you seem to be.   

Something inside yourself—acknowledge whatever it is you don’t like about yourself, but give yourself grace here, my friends. Sometimes the very thing we see as our weakest area is the very thing God is turning into your greatest strength. Thank Him for giving you the power and desire to do what pleases Him, because He is! His Word says so. 

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. — Phil 2:13

Even Jesus prayed with thanksgiving (Luke 10:21). Paul thanked God and drew courage from it (Acts 28:16). Now look at a these Scriptures from Colossians:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. — Col 3:13-15

All three keys are right there! They build upon and are integral to each other. And when we are intentional to use all three in our faith walk, we are strengthened in our faith, my friends, because we living our lives rooted in the truths of Jesus Christ.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. — Col 2:6-7

There are so many verses in the Bible about thankfulness. Do you have a favorite one to share? Do you have story of how being thankful has made a difference in your faith and life? Let’s meet in the comments and keep talking! 

SUM family, I am so thankful for you, every day. I am thankful God has put me in this place for such a time as this to be a part of your lives. And thank you for being a part of mine. I love you!
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The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHello SUMites,

My friends, fall is in the air and in some places it’s already winter! Wacky weather! But I LOVE this time of year and I am especially fond of my pumpkin flavored coffee. Yum and eee!

Weather is a perfect metaphor of our lives. Our circumstances will and often change drastically, unexpectedly and even violently.

Loss of a job.
Divorce.
Wayward children.
Financial crisis.
Health.
Weather disasters too.

How do we walk through these life events that are often unchangeable? How do we keep ourselves from crippling fear? How do we handle life’s great challenges as believers?

SUMite Nation, we put on the SHOES!

Kingdom Shoes. We shod our feet with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace! (Ephesians 6:15)

What does this mean? How do we do this and how does this part of our armor serve in spiritual warfare?

The shoes are our steadiness for standing against the schemes of the devil. The ability to stand in what most people would consider fearful circumstances comes down to our maturity. And our maturity comes from time with God, knowing His Word and TRUSTING in Him!

And out of trust in the Lord, our peace is born. Shalom – which is completeness, wholeness and inner resting of the soul that does not fluctuate because of outside circumstances.

Let me tell you how I experienced this first hand.

Some of you may remember that my husband lost his job in January of 2009. Along with millions of others, he began to hit the employment boards, complete applications and look for work. Of course, this was a shock to us at first but I can tell you that I walked in a supernatural peace.

I prayed with conviction and earnestness, asking the Lord to give my husband a job. I considered returning to Corporate America to support our family. During this early prayer season, the Lord arranged a phone call. I received a call from a former business collogue and was offered a job over the phone. Now you would think that I would have jumped at this opportunity – out of fear. But through my prayer time, the Lord said to me, “Lynn, I can get you a job anytime. Thus the offer. I just wanted to show you that I could. Do not return to work. Let me walk this out with Mike.”

SO I TRUSTED! Even when it didn’t make sense. AND I had peace. I knew, that I knew, that I knew, in my knower that God truly had our financial situation in His hands.

I prayed.

Mike thought it would be easy to get another job as he is highly qualified, yet after six months – nothing.

I prayed.
I trusted.

Mike worried. He was completely rocked because he remained unemployed going into month nine.

I will admit in late October I was a little nervous but I remained prayerful.

Finally, almost a year later, my husband was offered a new job.

Through this experience I found I was living out this scripture: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7

What I can’t explain is that our year of unemployment didn’t impact our financial condition. Somehow we paid off the credit card we were using within the year. Never had to touch our 401K. And I didn’t return to work.

Honestly, I cannot explain how this happened. I have vague recollections of checks arriving and there always seemed to be provision for what we needed. I learned to budget extremely well and shop frugally, which I still do today. My daughter learned to buy her own school clothes. We became an aware family of our waste, the needs of others, and thankfulness became profoundly significant in my life.

This was the year I learned to walk in trust and peace through thankfulness. And SUMites, when you wear the shoes of the readiness of the Gospel (peace & trust in Jesus), you are no longer on the defensive but on the offensive in the spirit realm.

Ephesians 6 15The shoes of peace are our stability that even Satan can’t undo!

Peace can’t be separate from trust in God. I believed God for my circumstance and I trusted Him, every day and at times every hour. I chose to believe God rather than my changing circumstances.

Meditate of the Word. KNOW God’s heart for you. Really come to believe that our Papa, God is good. All the time, good and has good gifts for us, His children. And remember it’s the devil that comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came to give us the abundant life (John 10:10).

Don’t step out from under His umbrella. Trust and peace are His gifts in the midst of any scary season of life.

Quiet Time Study: (Take these questions to the Lord in your quiet time. Then listen.)

  • What are the situations that are sealing your peace?
  • Ask the Lord for His supernatural peace.
  • Pray: I say to these troubled waters of _________________. Peace be still. 

Jesus still can part the sea, calm the wind and waves and set us on a firm foundation. Let’s wear the shoes of heaven my friends because it’s the Lord’s will that we live in peace that surpasses all understanding. 

  • Community Questions (answer in the comments):
  • Can you share a moment where you experienced the supernatural peace of Christ in crazy circumstances? I know your story will encourage someone else who is struggling right now.

I love you SUMites. We are nearing the end of our wardrobe restyle. A few more items remain and then we will be released to be Holy Spirit-filled-terrorists that decimate the darkness. Hallelujah! Amen!

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Your Mismatched Marriage Isn’t a “But” (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d16111a0970c-320wiMy friends, on Tuesday we started talking about seeing our marriages instead of a but, to see them as a "But God..." My heart is to encourage you to walk in God's truths and to be all that His heart and love have declared and planned for you to be. The more I work in our healing rooms here, the more I understand that God has asked me to partner with Him to help people do this, to realize their divine destiny and walk in it. And this calling He's placed on my heart is not limited to healing rooms. He puts me into action all over the place. What an adventure!

And I love, love, love that I can bring that to our SUM nation. Dear friends, Lynn and I love you so much! We are passionate for you to walk in freedom, in the truths that Jesus came and died for us to believe and live in, and experience all the fullness of a life with God. Our abundant life isn't waiting in heaven. It's starts here on earth the moment we say yes to Jesus.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. — John 10:10

Jesus does not put any qualifiers on this, my friends. No ifs or buts! We started with the truth that God is unchanged, unaffected and unmoved by our pre-believers lack of faith and neither are His plans and purposes for us. 

Now I want to look at what Jesus did for us, because I love these truths. They have given me freedom from the enemy’s lies that his influence is greater than God’s.

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

The NIV translation says “he made a public spectacle of them.” God not only defeated satan, He shamed him and made a public spectacle of him. My friends, the enemy wants to transfer that shame on us because he hates it. But remember, there is no condemnation (shame) in Jesus (Romans 8:1). That’s our truth! Wow!

Therefore…

You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. — Col 2:20

We have been set free of the enemy’s power. The only way he can influence us is if we let him, if we give him our authority. Lynn will be teaching more on that.

I want to finish with a few more powerful truths from Colossians:

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. — Col 3:3

In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free (or spiritually mismatched). Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us. — Col 3:11 (with my parenthetical addition)

My friends, Christ is all that matters. He’s the “but” in our  marriages because all things are possible with Him. Lynn and I are living proof that we can walk in the fullness of our spiritual identity and callings regardless of our mismatched marriages. And I will tell you that I used to think my marriage—my husband’s unbelief—would limit what God had for me, would basically preclude me from being and doing all that God has for me, but that was another lie of the enemy that has been publicly shamed (by this ministry) and proven untrue.

At the end of Colossians, Paul says something that has had me pondering:

“Remember my chains.”

I wondered at first if this was his way of asking for prayer and perhaps it was, but I think it goes beyond that. I’ve studied Paul’s letters though the years not just for the truths he shares but to understand the man he was. I believe Paul was encouraging believers to see that despite his chains, God was still working in and through Paul to accomplish all that God had predestined (planed in advance) for this man to do (Eph 2:10).

SUMites, I’m not saying our pre-believers are our “chains,” though some days, I dare to say, many of you may feel this way. And I say that with humor! What I am encouraging you to embrace is that if we are to stand in the truth of God’s Word, which tells us that ALL things are possible with God, then let’s believe and live it right in our marriages. 

We are not defeated, and we are by no means limited as long as we believe God, believe what He has told and promised us. Let’s do as Paul tells us, to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.

In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Quiet Time Study: (Take these questions to the Lord in your quiet time. Then listen.)

Continue to seek God for His plans and purposes for you. Write down whatever He tells you and then start seeking Him for each step of this journey. He may start you big or He more than likely will start you with small steps, my friends. God’s great “divine plan” for us is to know Him. To just be His kid. If that’s what He’s calling you to do right now, that means He wants to take you deeper first to know Him, love Him, trust Him, so that He can move you into bigger places. 

Community Questions (answer in the comments):

No questions today, my friends. Simply share whatever is on your heart. If you want to share what God is showing you, please do! Let’s encourage and celebrate each other in whatever God is doing in each of our lives. And I want to pray over and bless each of you for whatever Papa God is revealing to you. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, feel free to email me. 

I love you, SUMites! I’m praying for you and celebrating with you, for all that God has for you. Next week, I want to share with you three keys to walking in the fullness of faith and victory. The Holy Spirit has started a new dialogue about these. I’m listening to hear more and look forward to sharing them with you. Have an amazing weekend!
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Lies, Fear and Armor. Oh my!

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d15b17ab970c-320wiOver my next couple posts (possibly more) I want to talk to you about our identity and our armor. I’ve felt the need the last few weeks to pray on my armor every day and as I’ve done so the Holy Spirit has shown me a stunning truth. Our identity in Christ and the Armor of God are the same.

Our identity in Christ is our armor.

My friends, I’m so enthralled by this revelation. Once I understood this truth, suddenly the Scriptures that support it came to life and that is what I’m excited to share with you. Some of it you may find challenging as it will require you to look inward to identify some lies that you may still be operating under, what we’re calling “umbrella crushers” for this series, but I promise you that once you identify a lie, sweet freedom rushes in are you will be changed and charged up!

So, let’s get started with our Belt of Truth (Eph 6:14). First let’s establish that Jesus is our belt. 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” — John 14:6

He is truth, therefore He is the one who holds us, defines us and protects us.

For “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’” — Acts 17:28

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. — Col. 1:17

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. — Ephesians 2:10

The thing is, if we are operating under some lies, we will step out of God’s protective umbrella more easily. For instance, if you don’t trust God to answer your prayer over a matter in which you need leading and grow impatient for the answer, you will be tempted (there’s the opening for the enemy to come in) to take matters into your own hand and wind up making a decision based upon that deception. The story of Abraham and Sarah is a good example of this (Gen. 16). 

And lies create fear. We will feel insecure and unprotected when we put what we fear in a higher place than our belief in God and His Word to help us overcome it. Then our human need for security will propel us to do things to create a sense of security (like taking control) in order to feel safe.

So how do we reveal a lie? First I will used myself as an example. I shared recently that the Holy Spirit showed me that I had believed the enemy’s ability to deceive me was greater than Jesus’ power to lead me (He is our Good Shepherd).

My first clue was that I realized I didn’t feel safe. Though I thought I had overcome my misconception from my youth that the enemy was more powerful than God, I still didn’t feel safe. My second clue was that I constantly prayed for the Holy Spirit to not let me be deceived. That’s when the Holy Spirit helped me identify the lie that I believed the enemy’s ability to deceive me was greater than Jesus’ power to lead me. This lie made me doubt whether I heard God’s voice correctly all the time and kept me from stepping into all that God has for me in many ways.

Truth (and confidence in Him) has since replaced the lie, and I’ve operated under the umbrella of God’s protection and free of fear in this area ever since. Plus I hear God even better!

Now I’m going to use a character from a story I’m working on right now to show you how we can walk through this process and identify a lie. (Yes, writers draw from real life to build our characters. What better way to make them believable, right?) 

I have a character who is operating under a lie. Selah gets her name from her parents who were a major force in the Christian music industry, and she is gifted by God to write anointed music that heals people. Yet she has no desire to work in that industry. 

Why not?

Because she doesn’t want to be like her parents and feels she has to prove herself in a different market. This need has driven her decisions through college and her career.

Why doesn’t she want to be like her parents?

She saw how much they gave to their ministry and God, and that it was while serving in this way that they were tragically killed. Thus serving God with her gift scares her.

Why does it scare her?

Because she blames God for taking her parents away from her and believes this is how God operates. She must overcome this lie with the truth that God is good, that God didn’t take her parents away from her, and that the dream she is pursuing is actually from God and He wants to make it come true, even better than she could imagine. Because where she sees the secular and Christian market as separate, God wants to use her to create a bridge to join them.

Now it’s your turn, my friends. I would not ask this of you had I not discerned that this is God’s heart for you right now. He wants you free of whatever lie you may be operating under so that you can walk in confidence with the Truth, with Jesus, girded around your waist holding you and keeping you safe.

Quiet Time Study:

Sit before God and ask yourself these questions. If you get stuck, then share in the comments (if your comfortable to do so) and let’s help each other find the freedom Jesus has for all of us. Or email me privately.

  • What scares you? Think about what have you been praying against.
  • Why does it scare you?
  • Where do you see God in this situation?
  • What is the truth? 

When you get down to the truth, find Scriptures that support your revelation, write them out and pray them out loud until you truly believe them as your truth. Any time your fear creeps back up, pray them again. My truths are now Psalm 32:7-8, Isa. 41:13, John 10:27-30 and several others about God’s protection.

Community Questions:

  • What lie has misdirected your faith and choices in the past (share as you feel comfortable)?
  • How do you walk in truth in this area now?

On Thursday I will talk about our Breastplate of Righteousness and the Shield of Faith. This is where it gets really interesting my friends. I’m stunned just by what I discovered about these two areas of our identity/armor. 

Holy Spirit, I pray for every SUMite reading this post today that You would come gently to them and reveal any lie they are operating under that hinders their intimacy with You and causes them to be fearful, depressed or anxious. In the name of Jesus, I ask that these lies be broken off them, removed and never allowed to return. Holy Spirit, lead them to the truth in God’s Word so that they can begin healing and living their faith in security and confidence in the truth of who they are in Jesus. Remind us to put on our belt of truth every day! In the truth-filled name of Jesus, amen!

Love and praying for you, my friends!
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For Such a Time as Now

Heb11For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
— Isaiah 43:19

 The Lord replied,  “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it. — Habakkuk 1:5

SUMites, these verses from Isaiah and Habakkuk have consistently shown up around September for the last seven years. I can’t help but think all that has been His way of showing us and preparing us for what is happening right now.

The more I’ve studied the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) and Joshua, the more I see a relatable pattern to how God moves us into our Promise Lands—I believe we have more than one, and that they are physical as well as spiritual places. 

As we study the Israelites, we see how God moves them to first “see.” To see this place they haven’t claimed yet as already theirs. I shared that in an earlier post, in how God told Joshua to see Jericho as already conquered despite the physical walls still standing.

This if our first call to faith, to believe what we can’t yet see (Heb. 11:1). With faith we are to move forward and claim our new Promise Land, even before we have moved into this place. 

Then we are called to occupy our Promise Land. This place now becomes a place of authority where we are to grow and navigate. Sometimes the Israelites had to clear the land and manage the animals to make it livable. Other times they literally took over the towns, houses and vineyards of the people they conquered.

Think of areas that you have had breakthrough in. You’ve “cleared the land” and made it good. These places now give you a special authority to pray for others to receive similar breakthroughs. By your example they can learn and understand how to seek God for this. 

God also gives us special giftings and anointings to operate in. We are filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit and are able to do and know things we couldn’t other wise, like having the sudden unction and courage to tell someone that God has ask you to tell them He loves them like crazy! People are desperate for God’s love! 

My friends, from here God desires us to prosper in our Promise Land. We share what we are given and blessed with. And we’ve talked about that in the past as well. That which we are blessed with is not intended just for us. We are to pass the blessing on and share it. This is how we steward our blessings and giftings, my friends. Abba watches what we do with what we are given and gives us more according to what we do with what we are given (Matt. 25:23).

And that is why I say “lands” instead of just “land.” There are many places that we are called to claim, occupy and prosper in. Our relationship with God is the first place. How will you claim, occupy and prosper in this place? This is the key to all that is to follow, SUMites. Success and increase in our marriages, families, jobs and ministries follows, and I’m sure you can see the relationship that builds as we progress from one place to another. 

And we are not leaving one place to go to another either, my friends. We are increasing our territory. 

“Enlarge your house; build an addition.
Spread out your home, and spare no expense!
For you will soon be bursting at the seams.
Your descendants will occupy other nations
and resettle the ruined cities.
“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.
Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.
You will no longer remember the shame of your youth
and the sorrows of widowhood.
For your Creator will be your husband;
the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name!
He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
the God of all the earth.
For the LORD has called you back from your grief—
as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,”
says your God. — Isaiah 52:2-6

My friends, I am so, so excited for our community. So many things that Lynn and I have been praying for you are now moving into place. We have longed for, agonized over and rejoiced with you over so many things and places. I simply cannot express my joy to see you, SUMites, overcoming, breaking through, and claiming your Promise Lands. 

This is our time, our season, to walk in the fullness of where God has placed us for such a time as this. I truly believe that time has come and is starting right now! 

Our God is so, so good. Love you!
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He's Getting Us Ready for Our Promise Land

IStock_000008478972XSmallMy friends, through the end of 2013 up to early August of this year I've heard Abba speak of preparation over and over again. I believe we have been in this time of preparation up until now. The Holy Spirit has impressed upon me that we, the SUMites specifically, are now being shifted into a new season of equipping. And I believe He's equipping us to move into and claim our promise lands. 

What I want to share with you is the importance of stewardship, because it is a crucial part to how we move forward. And I'm not talking about money although that will be an important part for many of us as God opens the storehouses of His provision (Deut. 28:12).

What the Holy Spirit has put on my heart to share with you first is that the very first thing God asks us to steward well is His Word. Are we reading it, studying it and speaking it out loud? Are we allowing it to transform our minds and trusting and believing God through His Word more? I believe we are and will continue to grow in this area as long as we are reading our Bibles and seeking God. This is what we have been doing in our time of preparation. 

The second thing He's showing me is stewarding what we are given. This goes beyond our material provision to our spiritual provision and giftings. I didn't fully understand until recently that when we are given a word or revelation, we must steward it by praying into it (1 John 4:1), receiving it and believing it. And then take action. Sometimes the action is believing, like believing the truth of God's love for us above anything the world or even our own families may say of us. Other times, with the affirmation and direction of the Holy Spirit, we must take action and trust God to lead our steps. 

One of the most freeing revelations I have recently received is the exposure of another lie. I'd believed the enemy's ability to deceive me was greater than Jesus' power and presence to lead me. Scripture again is the key here for God's Word says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27) (Read John 10:6-17 and you will see that this is Jesus' build up to His explanation in John 14:6 that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.) 

At the revelation of this lie, I began affirming the truth, speaking it out and believing it. The result was stunning! My ability to hear God opened to a new level, which then brought my area of spiritual gifting up to a whole new level. This is how we steward and grow in our spiritual gifts. And this is what "equipping" is about right now.  

The third thing we are called to steward is the places He puts us. Our marriages, our homes, our churches, our places of ministry, etc. These are our Promise Lands. And just as the Israelites, we are using our spiritual weapons (our armor of God) to lay claim to the places God is establishing us in right now and moving us into. I have a sense we will be talking about this a lot in the upcoming weeks, and I look forward to sharing more of what the Holy Spirit is teaching me in this area.

So what does all this look like? Right now, look around and take notice of how much in sync the children of God are. Many of us are hearing the same things from the Holy Spirit and are even being led to read the same parts of the Bible. The Holy Spirit planted me in Joshua a couple weeks ago and last week, Ian shared this same nudge to read this book. My friends, follow these leadings. This is your Shepherd showing you the way and giving you revelation.

Lynn spoke of acceleration. Abba has spoken to me about this as well. We are being moved forward more quickly than in the past. As the Holy Spirit told me, I will tell you. Don't be afraid. And don't be afraid of how fast things may start to shift, change and move. Just trust, trust, trust God. My friends, this is not a time to suffer for religion but to delight in God! We are on a great adventure!

I'm stunned at how this is playing out in my own life, my friends. I'm hearing God in ways that I have longed to hear Him for so long. He's explaining things of the past that I see now were key to what is happening now, and He is revealing small bits of what's to come in relation to these areas.

I now understand that my move to Florida was very strategic and part of where He has placed me for this upcoming Jubilee year, even to reminding me that this move placed us back "with our clan" (see Lev. 25:10) and that I turn 50 in just a couple of months. 

He has faithfully lead me every step of the way to what I need (mentors, a church filled with the Holy Spirit, and connections to other believers who are part of this great set-up) and plugged me into the healing rooms here in such a powerful way that I'm stunned beyond words.  

Affirmations and confirmations have come with each step as well. God knew exactly what I would need. 

My friends, this is what He is doing in all of us. Now is a key time to be aware, to take note, to not discount anything but to take everything before God in humility, openness and willingness of heart to learn and do whatever He may ask. And don't be surprised by how He may test you in this.  

Next week I will share some stories with you of how God has been equipping and testing me in these new areas. God is moving in ways I never imagined possible, but just yesterday I was reminded again that nothing is impossible with God as I found out from a friend that He did something she was convinced couldn’t be done. 

Dare to believe, my friends. Ask Jesus to help you believe. He will. Then wait and watch! My friends, share in the comments what you believe God is doing or about to do in your lives. What are you sensing the Holy Spirit telling you? I would love the opportunity to pray with and for you. 

And I am believing great things are in store for each and every one of you. And yes, you as well, my dear one, even you who is thinking this isn’t for you or that God has forgotten you or left you out for some reason to do with your past or present. Let me be the voice to tell you, that’s not true. Ask Him what He has for you right now, my friend. He’s waiting…

Love you so much, my SUM family! 
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Superheroes of the Past and Present

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My friends, I have a new nugget to share with you that is so encouraging to me. I’m excited to share it with you.

First, let me set it up. I’ve tended to look at the first disciples and believers in a different way than I see us—modern day believers. I’ve made the assumption that they were more empowered and focused, because many of them actually walked with Jesus during His life, learned from Him directly and had these amazing encounters with Him even after His death and resurrection.

I guess I kind of looked at them as superheroes. (Feel free to laugh.) But as I was reading through first and second Corinthians recently, I came upon this:

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. — 2 Cor 1:8-11

Paul is open here about what they have suffered, and indeed they faced the very threat of death in persecution. But what I want to focus on is what he says about how they persevered. 

But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.

My friends, as I read this line, I saw the very same challenge in our own faith journeys today. Though their trial was great, Paul says they learned to stop relying upon themselves and to rely only on God. Don’t we often have to learn this same lesson? More than once most likely. And I think it is a lesson we learn in different areas of our lives as well. We so often have to reach the end of ourselves to grab hold of God.

But Paul goes on to say more about this process.

And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.

The result of God’s rescue brought an increase in Paul’s faith and those with them. They now can see their future confidently in God’s protection and trust Him to do it again. Such confidence and trust!

Here’s the equation I see in this:

Relying on and trusting God + God’s rescue = Increased faith and confidence in God to do it again

The disciples and early believers did this and we do too. Paul continues to show the full effect of this outward ripple not only on him and his team, but also how it affected those praying for them.

And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.

Paul is pointing out how all this worked together, that he, those with him and those praying for them were acting together as the body of Christ. It’s a beautiful example of how even our trials when shared can strengthen and unite a body of believers. 

My friends, again, I will say we are an amazing community here. I see our SUM community operating in the same way as Paul and his fellow believers did. And I find that greatly encouraging and inspiring.

And we are continuing the legacy of these early believers even today, my friends. I find that astounding and very powerful. We are more like those early believers than I realized. In a way, they are superheroes in that they inspire us to imitate them as they imitated Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). 

SUMites, you are superheroes in the faith!

Love you, my friends!
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The Thinning Veil

IStock_000011544315XSmallMy friends, in my journey through the book of John, the Holy Spirit is revealing more connections to the truths in God’s Word. I find this journey so fascinating. I hope you are too, because I have some to share with you today.

First, go with me to the book of John, specifically chapters nine and ten. I would first like to give a preface based in chapter nine. 

In chapter nine, we read about a man blind from birth who is healed by Jesus. This so stirs up the Pharisees that they question not only the man but his parents too. Still unsatisfied with the answers they receive, they go back to the man and question him further. I’m struck by the final answer the healed man gives:

“Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”

“You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue. — John 9:30-34

In reading this man’s answer, the Holy Spirit pointed out three things this man somehow knew:

  • God doesn’t listen to sinners, but is ready to hear those who worship Him and do His will. (This is based in OT Scriptures, the old covenant that required the law to be upheld perfectly to be right with God).
  • Since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind.
  • Only a man from God could have healed this man.

It’s quite possible his wisdom came from years in the synagogue, but I believe that in opening the man’s physical eyes, Jesus opened his spiritual eyes as well. This chapter is very symbolic in showing the contrast of spiritual and physical blindness. 

Yet even in blindness, this man more than likely “saw” more than the Pharisees and his wisdom seemed to increase with the healing of his eyes, judging by his answers, which frustrated the Pharisees to the point that they threw him out of the synagogue. Even Jesus calls them blind in the conclusion of this chapter as they still don’t recognize Him as the Messiah despite the evidence of miracles right in front of their face. Even seeing they are blind.

My friends, the veil of the Pharisees was thickened with great pride. We see this in the world today and very often in our pre-believers.

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. — 2 Cor. 4:3-4

The enemy blinds our loved ones from the truth, but even the man born blind was healed and given sight—something that had never been done before Jesus. 

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

Just as the blind man received sight, our pre-believers can be healed too. We can pray for the veil to be taken away and sight to be given and/or restored. And lets remember that we too once were veiled from the truth, yet Jesus came and gave us sight to see. To see the truth and to see Him. This is wisdom for us to understand that our true enemy is not our pre-believer or their choice not to believe, but the enemy who keeps them blind.

Thus why our prayers matter. As ones who where once blind but now see, we stand in the authority of Jesus through our salvation. Our prayers matter for our pre-believers (James 5:16). They make a difference. We may not see it, but again, as I’ve said in the past, God’s heart is that none would perish (2 Peter 3:9-15) and He will take the exact amount of time necessary to bring our pre-believers to faith.

My friends, I want the veil removed from my husband’s eyes too. I am praying for God to give him eyes to see and ears to hear, and I am praying this for Lynn’s husband aw well as all our pre-believers.

Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the LORD. — Proverbs 20:12

God is showing me that we must first contend in the spiritual realm for these things in order to see them in the physical. And especially now as, I believe, this veil is thinning, prayer by prayer. Now is the time for us to press in even more in faith, belief and trust, because so much is about to be released into our lives. I firmly believe that many of things we have been contending for here in the SUM community are about to manifest. I’m already seeing things I’ve been praying and contending for starting to come into place and alignment with God’s kingdom.

The Jubilee year is about to start and our Abba Father is already moving things into place. I’ll talk more about that as the Holy Spirit leads me. He’s doing some crazy stuff in my life right now that I hope I will get to share with you soon.

Love you so much, my SUM family!
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Praying for Our Kids to be Extraordinary (part 2)

NotAloneStudyImageHello, my friends! I pray this study is already helping you get ready for “back to school” and increasing your faith and hope in God to make this school year one of the best yet for you and your children. Let me add too that if you are a homeschooling mom, you are part of this too. Your kiddos need the same equipping for when they are out in the world, whether now at a friends, on a playground, and when they are adults on their own. We want to pour God’s truths into them with all His love so that they will continue what we have started in our own generation.

As I shared on Monday, the enemy wants us to think we are powerless against the “system,” but our God says otherwise. No “system” will keep Him away. Not if we are standing for Him and praying in the Spirit for our children, our homes, our schools—our prayers bathe these places with the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Perhaps one of our biggest challenges can come from our own expectations. I know I used to think that an easy time sailing through school with everything falling into place was how it was supposed to be for my girls. Especially since they were growing up with two parents and much more stability than I had. But that was no guarantee. They have faced challenges, but now I understand that this is part of this life and a life without challenges often winds up to be a selfish one. The key is that we can trust our God to take every challenge and trial and bring great good out of it. 

We know our testimonies are powerful and inspiring. We see it everyday here on this blog. Guess what? Our children’s testimonies are powerful too. 

In our book, Not Alone, I talk about two of my favorite stories in the Bible—Gideon and Joshua. These men overcame the impossible and won their battles, by the power and grace of God. God whittled Gideon’s army to a mere 300 men to battle and overcome an army of Midianites that numbered 120,000. The walls of Jericho fell at Joshua’s order to shout on their seventh day of marching.

Sometimes our situations and circumstances don’t make sense and the direction God leads us may not either. But we can always know that He is good, that He is working for our good, and that He is good at what He does. Take that truth and promise to the bank of your heart, my friends, and to the classroom, the schoolyard, and everywhere else your prayers are following your children. 

Pray and when you hear the enemy’s voice try to tell you that your prayers won’t help and protect your child, or try to tell you that God doesn’t care about you and your children, kick him to the curb with the truth! 

Can I do this? 
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). 

How can I do this? 
“I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13, NLT).

Am I alone in this? 
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).

Who will help me? 
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1).

What if I fail? 
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

What about the rough times? 
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

My friends, I have walked through depression and cancer with my youngest daughter. I have raised my girls to faith in a mismatched home. Though my girls are now grown, I continue to walk with them in their lives as a mentor, offering encouragement and prayers as I continue to speak God’s truth into them. 

Even though they are adults they still struggle at times with anxiety, because they are still learning how to battle the enemy. But they are getting it, because they listen to my words and watch me live out my faith. My prayers have released the power of God into their lives and He is faithful to do and complete what He starts. He will never abandon them or stop loving them. 

God has done this for me, and He has done and is doing it for you. Some days you may not be able to see it, but He’s there working. You don’t see the air you breath, but you know your breathing it. 

Take a deep breath, moms, dads and grandparents, and trust your God. He may not do it the way you expect Him to but He will do it. He will co-parent your children with you because HE loves them even more than you do and He knows your children by heart. He has a plan and future for your kiddos (Jer. 33:11), and He will bring it to pass no matter what challenges you and your children may face. 

Now breath out that life upon your children with your love, your words, your wisdom and your faith. Not by your strength or power, but by His Spirit! Amen!

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing faithfulness. I know that You are able to do all that I have asked and more. I praise and thank You now for the ways in which You are and will be working in my children to make them effective and strong in their faith. In Your powerful and capable name, Jesus, I pray this. Amen!

Challenge: Start a list of areas in your children’s lives that you want to pray about regularly. Find specific verses to pray for your children in each area. You can even make this a prayer journal that you can record answers to prayer specific to your child and give it to them one day to show them how God has worked in their lives. Make it fun! 

For example, when my youngest daughter was dealing with anxiety, I would pray 2 Timothy 1:7 over her: 

Leslie Miller, God has not give you a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and self-control. In the name of Jesus, amen! 

Speak truth into their lives, my friends, and they will take it with them and walk in it everywhere they go!

All in His love!
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Chapter One: Extraordinary Kids (part one)

NotAloneStudyImageMy friends, have we bought a lie? Have we bought into the lie that we’re powerless and alone in helping our children navigate the confusing and changing culture of today? That we are not enough?

I find it so interesting that just a few days ago I stood on my front porch, chatting with one of my neighbors. A simple compliment I made to her about their young daughter helping Dad mow the yard opened up a dialogue about her daughter’s anxiety and issues with school.

That was no accident, my friends. As she shared it was like I was hearing my youngest daughter’s story of school avoidance and anxiety. For the next hour we talked—I shared my heart with this mom, shared how God had always been faithful to my prayers for answers and provided solutions and people to help us. At this point I didn’t know if she is a believer or not and I still don’t.  

As she opened up more I was able to encourage her with ideas that had helped my daughter and I also helped her see areas in her own creativity that she could tap into and use to encourage and engage her daughter. I watched this worried mom become excited and even clap her hands in glee at one point. And all I did was share my heart with her though the love of Jesus.

This was on my front porch, but it could have been on a school yard, a playground, or even in a classroom on parent night.

My friends, the lie the enemy has fed us is that we’re not enough. I know I did for a long time. But I learned and am still learning in some lingering areas, that God is ALWAYS enough? Isn’t He bigger and stronger than anything we face? Doesn’t His Word say He’s faithful and that when His children cry out to Him, He answers? Let’s start crying out, my friends. Not just for God to change the situation but for Him to show us how to be part of His answer.

You are not alone, my friend. Our God not only loves us, He loves our kids. He wants them to know and love Him too. So no matter how contrary this culture is, and no matter how much our schools push Him out, He’s going to show up.

On a front porch. On a playground. And in a classroom. 

Why? Because of you. 

Because we are the righteous of God in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21) and our prayers are POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE (James 5:16)! Moms, Dads and Grandparents, YOU are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and YOUR prayers are POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE!

I want you to repeat this every morning as you get up (man, is the enemy going to be quaking in his pit):

“I am the righteous of God in Christ Jesus and my prayers are powerful and effective!”

So let’s start praying, declaring and BELIEVING that by the very presence and power of God, we are EXTRAORDINARY and EMPOWERED to help our kids to be EXTRAORDINARY right in the middle of this contrary culture, right in the middle of their schools. We can do this, my friends! By God’s Spirit (Zech. 4:6) and through His love.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. — John 13:35

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for partnering with me to raise my children to know You. Thank You for loving them even more than I do and for having a great plan and future for them. Help me teach them Your ways so that at home, in their school and everywhere they go they will do what is right, love mercy and walk humbly with You (Micah 6:8). In Your strong and mighty name Jesus, amen!

Study question: What is one thing you can do on a daily  basis to model your faith to your children? How can you be a loving mentor to your kids and the kids God brings into your life as well? 

Share your answers in the comments, my friends. Let’s encourage and inspire one another with our love for Jesus.

All in His love,
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July 4th: Renewing Our Hope and Trust in God

4thJulyDear SUM family, Lynn and I hope and pray the series on the Books of Peter has encouraged and strengthened you. We enjoyed sharing this journey with you, and Lynn and I both feel so honored to be a part of this community and to be praying for you. Your requests Monday have moved our hearts so deeply, and we know they have moved our King Jesus' heart too. He died for us, He lives for us, He cries with us, He heals us. We believe this in the Name of Mighty Jesus, and as His Word stands,

But I will reveal my name to my people, and they will come to know its power. Then at last they will recognize that I am the one who speaks to them. — Isaiah 52:6 NLT

My friends, this is the truth we stand on and right now as many of are grappling with the recent supreme court ruling. Lynn and I want you to know that we are too. We have felt our own grief along with a heavy grief that we can only describe as coming from the spiritual realm. We are processing this with hearts and minds turned to Abba for wisdom and guidance, and we are determined to stand on the truth and in the great love and hope of Jesus above all.

He is faithful, my friends. As I walked and prayed on Monday, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart that the Lord is releasing hope for His children right now. And as I looked up into the sky, I heard His still soft voice say,

"I reign supreme."

Things are shifting and changing, yes, but Our God is the same as always. 

So as we celebrate Independence Day in America, my friends, let's renew our hope and trust in God. He reigns supreme and nothing changes that. I know it's challenging right now, as many of us are walking in places of disappointment and defeat. Next week, Lynn and I have some very encouraging words to share with you, things the Holy Spirit has impressed upon us to share to encourage, uplift and strengthen you so we can persevere and run this race well together as God's family.

Lynn and I are taking the rest of the week off, but we'll still be hanging out in the comments. As of next week, I will be switching my posting days to Tuesday and Thursday and Lynn will continue to post on Monday and Friday. We feel this will better serve our community. We hope you think so too.

And just a heads up. We have something very special planned for August. Our Lord is so good. He is working to put things into place to equip you, my friends. Lynn and I are excited to share this study that we believe will help you to equip your children in navigating the waters of this changing world and stand for God's truth. Right in their schools. We will be using our book Not Alone as reference to do this.

Lots happening, SUMites. Lynn and I truly believe our SUM family is here for such a time as this. Have an amazing holiday, hug your hubby and kiddos tight and tell them how thankful you for them. Perhaps the face of freedom is shifting in this country, but our freedom in Christ is the same as ever, my friends.

We love you, SUMites! See you on Monday!
Dineen and Lynn

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The Books of Peter: Secure in the Face of Opposition (part 1)

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Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. — 1 Peter 3:8-13 NLT

My friends, these passages have come together with something I felt the Holy Spirit impressing upon me during my walk and pray the other day. We live in a time of opposition and daily see what that looks like all over the world. Yet it is more likely in places like our churches, on Facebook and social media, and the internet that we come in direct contact with opposition. And let’s not forget that we SUMites live with it every day as well. Whether it is spoken or not, we stand in places where our beliefs are not accepted in our very homes.

As I walked this particular day, the thought or pondering came to a question. 

What would happen if we were so secure in who we are in Jesus and what we believed that no matter what the opposition we faced, we did not feel threatened or the need to prove ourselves or God.

It starts with our identity and along with that knowledge, understanding that we are truly secure in Christ. The Bible says throughout the Old and New Testaments that God is our refuge and our safety. 

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.— Psalm 27:1 & 3

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. — Psalm 91:2

David faced great opposition, yet stood his ground in his faith and trust in the God he knew would not fail him. That didn’t make his path any easier but the truth sustained him to keep going, to keep believing and in the end, it was God who proved him.

I remember as a new believer feeling overwhelmed by my husbands questions about my growing faith and also feeling so ill-equipped to defend it. And I am thankful for that because it thrust me into the Bible to study its truths and truly understand what I believed. That is the foundation I have now that enables me to answer my husband’s questions without feeling threatened or the need to prove myself, because I trust God to prove His presence and truth in me. Even if I must risk my husband’s opinion of me, I know I must stand on God’s truth.

Peter’s intent in these Scriptures was to encourage his readers to be of one mind as believers. He encouraged them to place loving each other as brothers and sisters in Christ above the disagreements and insults that seem inevitable as human beings who interpret everything we perceive, read and see in our own unique ways. 

Peter calls us, challenges us, to rise above and agree to disagree when needed so that we can maintain the true focus of doing good out of love for one another. Let me propose that this is our model to follow with all those we encounter, whether they believe as we do or not. We know this better than most, SUMites, and what we have learned in our mismatched places is exactly what the world needs right now.

In line with 1 Peter 3:8-13 we have learned and are learning to: 

  • seek unity in our marriages with our pre-believer.
  • love our pre-believer unconditionally with tenderness and humility in our acceptance of them just as they are, just as Jesus does.
  • hold our words with more care and speak with love and truth.
  • bring peace of Christ to our homes and maintain it through prayer.
  • stand before our God in the righteousness of Christ Jesus as we pray and seek the Lord’s face not only for ourselves but for our pre-believer and our children.
  • be zealous to do good even when we have felt limited.
  • be a blessing to our pre-believer and to bless them even in the face of opposition.

No matter what I am faced with, my friends, I want to be so secure in my knowledge of and faith in God that I can listen to another person share their beliefs and not feel threatened within my own. Because I believe when we are secure in such a place, that we can listen and not try to change their mind, they are more willing to hear what we have to say. 

It is not our job to change their mind or their heart. It is God’s. When we leave that to Him and simply share in an exchange of beliefs with another person, we allow the love of Christ to be present and begin that change of heart and perspective in a lost soul.

I will stop here for now. In the second part of this post I will share what these things we have learned look like when we apply them to the world at large and live our faith from this place of security in who are and Whose we are. My friends, it’s a place I firmly believe will have greatest impact on the world and those God is bringing into our realms to love and share Jesus. And there is an element to doing this that Peter mentions right in his words that I feel is crucial to the mix. Can’t wait to share that with you!

Love you, my friends. So thankful to be living this life with you!
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2 Peter 3: God Waits Too

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiSo happy to be with you today, my friends. I love our community. We are family and live daily the truths of Jesus Christ together. Lynn and I love our S.U.M. family so much. You all amaze and bless us everyday in how you love and pray for each other. And for us! Just wow…my heart is so full of pride in you, if I may say that. And I sense what I’m feeling is coming from our Papa God’s heart. He is proud of us, SUMites. We are known by our love. 

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. — John 13:34-35

As we continue our Summer Bible Study in the books of Peter, I found myself this week at the end of these two books, and felt the Holy Spirit pointing to two verses that are precious for us, SUMites.

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

I think we all struggle with waiting. We wonder. We pray. We wait some more… But this verse shows our Abba Father’s heart. He wants everyone to repent and will go to great lengths to give our pre-believers every chance to change their mind and turn to God. And that is what this word repentance means in the Greek: metanoia—reversal of decision.

This past year the Holy Spirit has led me to pray for divine connections for my hubby. Not with people but in his work and surroundings, whether he’s wrangling code (he’s a computer programmer/analyst) or playing disc golf. That he would begin to see God’s presence and perfection as the real explanation for what he appreciates intellectually. I never would have thought of that, my friends.

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This was my dad's Bible. I'm holding onto it for the day when I can give it to my hubby.

And then the Holy Spirit has led me to pray for holes, literal holes, to be punched in my hubby’s unbelief so that these connections can be revealed. Again, not something I would have thought of. 

What’s my point in telling you this? I will tell you what I told someone else recently as an explanation of my confidence that God will move and do this in my husband. 

Why would God lead me to pray in such specific ways and not doing anything? I know my God and know His heart. And His heart is to be patient and wait. Just as we wait…

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

Our Lord waits for good reason, doesn’t He? So if His waiting is good, I can’t help but think that ours is good too. In moments of discouragement, this gives me great peace and comfort, my friends. I see no change in my husband (yet) and I’m approaching 20 years of being mismatched.

But in our waiting God accomplishes so much. So much! I look at my marriage and see what it could have easily become and am overwhelmed by what it is—truly blessed by God. And I look at you, this community and the love and encouragement we share and I SEE evidence of the good God is working out for us as we wait.

The Holy Spirit has stirred my heart to speak out loud every morning the truth of Psalm 118:24: 

“This is a day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” 

And every day, I see Him. Our God is so good, my friends. SO good.

Love you so much, my SUM family. You are all so precious.
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God Restores Us Too (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiDear friends, on Saturday I started telling you a little bit about the dark night of the soul I walked through in 2014 and what 1 Peter 5:6-10 came to mean to me. Let’s look at those verses again and I’ll finish my story.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. — 1 Peter 5:6-10 ESV

As I said, Peters says to give God all our anxieties. And that’s where I was, in the depths of anxiety that made no sense. I would wake up shaking and spend most of the morning just trying to get a grip on my life for that one day. My quiet time with Abba was my refuge and sanctuary (my word for 2015), and worship became a weapon against the evil plan the enemy had sent against me to pull me into depression—a plague that has sickened several generations in my family. Psalm 91 became my daily declaration!

When my anxiety and depression would threaten to overwhelm me, I would stop and pray 1 Peter 5:6-7 and imagine all that dark stuff sitting my hands, then I’d lift them up and say, “Lord, it’s all Yours. I give it all to You. I am casting all this upon You.”

And you know what? He always had something to give back to me—His peace and comfort. And we need those, my friends. The peace of Christ guards our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:7), which is crucial if we are to “be sober minded.” That word in the Greek means to be calm and collected in spirit. As Peter says, the enemy prowls, seeking to devour. And he will use our emotions against us every way he can. And that is what he tried to do with me. The lie I’d bought into as a teenager was that I was at the mercy of my thoughts and feelings, but God’s Word says otherwise. 

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. — Romans 8:6 NLT

I stood on this truth and the others I’ve shared everyday, dear friends. Our greatest challenge, especially as women, is to look at our emotions first before we act upon them. If we don’t, we are just reacting. Then our emotions control us instead of us controlling and using them to our benefit. Emotions can be good in telling us when we are hurting and need something. They can also alert us to a lie we are believing when they seem out of context or alignment with God’s truth. This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through this process.

And finally in verse 10, Peter returns to the promise he started describing in verses six and seven. After we have suffered a little while…that’s the hardest part, to endure, to persevere, to trust God has a plan for it all and that He is good and that He is working for our good (Romans 8:28). Because He is. That’s Who He is. Always.

Then that good comes, the good God has been working to bring out of our trials, our suffering, our challenges. He does not leave us in these places of pain. No, His heart is to Himself, by His hand of love, to restore us. To confirm, strengthen and establish us. The Greek word for restore also means to perfect and prepare. Sound familiar? And by establishing us, He is laying our true foundation in the truth of who we are in Him, in the truth of Christ. 

So from our sufferings, trials and challenges, we emerge more like the new creation He has made us to be. And that is what I have witnessed, my dear friends. I prayed and claimed these promises for over a year, tentative at first and then with growing confidence, until they became part of the established foundation of my faith. And as I have broken this “plague” off my life, I am contending and breaking it off of my daughters. Because as the enemy has lost hold of me, he has tried to insert his hold on my girls. That is NOT going to happen, because I now have the authority to speak these truths into their lives.

How do I know that? As I stood in my new church in January, worshiping God with a heart full of gratitude for how He has restored and is restoring my life, how He has and is making me steadfast, strong and firm in my faith that is now built on His truth and promises, His still small voice spoke to my heart and told me He was lifting me up that very day. And that it was time to soar. Just this past weekend, three different times He showed me a bird soaring in the sky, at the same speed and direction as the car I was in or driving.  

When I look back at all He has done, I am astounded. It could have gone very differently if I hadn’t humbled myself under His hand and trusted Him. I stepped out in what felt like a feeble and failing faith, and He met me with His faithfulness, His healing presence and sent key people to come along side and pray with me. Especially Lynn, who prayed with me, cried with me, and encouraged me greatly. 

SUMites, these promises are for all of us. Just as Jesus restored Peter, He restores us. Whatever you are struggling, battling, agonizing over, cast it upon Him. Our Great God has massive shoulders that can carry it all. And what’s so beautiful is that He WANTS us to do this. Longs for us to do this. Our God is completely for us (Romans 8:31-32)!

My friends, I have been praying these prayers for you too as I know many of you are in very difficult places right now. Share in the comments how you are casting your cares upon the Lord. I would like to pray with you and pass on the blessings and freedom Abba has given to me.

Love you!
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God Restores Us Too

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiDear friends, today I want to talk about a part of 1 Peter that has been very powerful in my life. It is a truth that God proved to me over the course of a year and a half, and is in fact, still showing me. What I’m about to share with you has been powerful and life-changing. It proved to me that I truly could stand on God’s Word and trust Him to do what He says. Even if I didn’t completely feel I could believe the promise, I stepped out in faith with a heart desire to fully believe it. Astonishingly, God honored my action with astounding faithfulness.

I’ve shared in the past how difficult 2014 was for me. Health issues combined with a very real battle for my mind took me into a dark night of the soul, a spiritual battle, that God allowed in order to get rid of the lies the enemy had subtly inflicted upon me from a young age. God replaced them with His truth and has healed so many of those heartaches. I share more of this journey in the book I’m working on and what God did to bring healing and transformation. But one part I want to share today as part of our study of the books of Peter.

During the most difficult part of what I walked through, Abba brought me to this verse among many to write in my journal, to read over and over again and to pray and claim the truth over my life. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. — 1 Peter 5:6-10 NIV

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober- minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. — 1 Peter 5:6-10 ESV

These verses became a lifeline of hope for me. And I want to share them with you. The first part, Peter says to humble yourself. I knew God was my only way to get through what I was dealing with. I wanted this time of trial to end so much, but had to trust Abba had a plan and would show me the way (Prov. 3:5-6). This was a daily effort, my friends, and I held tight to the promise that in time, God would lift me up. I prayed, spoke it out loud, and even reminded God of His promise.

I learned to give Him everything. The word “cast” in the Greek translation literally and figuratively means to throw upon. This is not a polite gesture, my friends. We are not supposed to wrap it in a bow and try to “pretty it up.” God knows what we struggle with and He cares for us, deeply. 

And Peter says all. Every heartache, every thought, every worry, every anxiety, because His Word says He cares for us. Next week I will tell you what happened when I did this. I am already praying that what I have to share will encourage you and help build your faith as Jesus intends our testimonies to do. Not easy sharing this stuff but the one thing I ask Abba at the start of this was, "If I have to go through this, then let me have a testimony to share and help others."

And that He did. He does that for all of us, dear friends! All of us!

Love you so much,
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1 Peter 1 & 2: Foundations and Identity (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiMy friends, I know summer is upon you and many of you are in the throws of school ending, schedules changing, and summer plans. Please know that we love that you make this place a part of your busy lives—Lynn and I are honored to be a part of your lives.

On Saturday, I left you with two questions. What was a cornerstone and Who was/is that cornerstone?

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. — 1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV

Peter is quoting that last part from Isaiah 28:16, which is a prophetic word about the Messiah. Jesus is the cornerstone, which references the foundation of the temples when built. Usually larger, a cornerstone was placed in the corner of the foundation to ensure the building was square and stable. The cornerstone “set the foundation,” so to speak.

Peter is very carefully connecting our identity to who Jesus is in his reference to calling us living stones with Jesus as our cornerstone. And not only that. This is about the church. Not only were people now reborn. So was the church. Living stones to build a spiritual house…

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. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. — 1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV

Peter has laid the ground work to bring understanding of how this all happened so that the early believers would be clear in who they were now. Their identity.

Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people…

And their purpose in this new church as well. No longer would it be up to priests to teach and share the message of God. All were and are now called to share the message of the Good News. Interestingly, the NLT includes a little more. Take a look at verse nine again. 

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. — 1Peter 1:9 NLT (emphasis mine)

Which then leads to what Peter says in verse 12. 

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. — 1 Peter 1:12

My friends, we live with unbelieving “neighbors” every day, right in our own homes, and because of who we belong to and who God says we are, we are like that cornerstone in our own homes because Jesus lives in us. This reminds me yet again of the verse that speaks of how we sanctify our homes.

For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. — 1 Cor. 7:14

So, in this all encompassing plan of God that literally makes my head hurt and my heart swell when I try to comprehend it all, we were “set up” to be the children of God, precious and chosen to be the church of Christ, built upon an amazing legacy.

Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. — Eph. 2:20

Now you know that Lynn and I know this is challenging. We live it too. But when we stand firm in knowing who we are and whose we are, we rest in the power and provision of our Most High God. 

Peter even tells how to follow Jesus.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.

He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered.

He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.

By his wounds you are healed.

Once you were like sheep who wandered away.

But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. — 1 Peter 2:21-25

This list is so power packed with God’s truth and provision. Let’s break it down to how it applies to us today, especially in our mismatched homes.

  • Jesus never sinned, nor deceived. He is our model to not only emulate to live godly lives, but He also empowers us to do so with the help of His Holy Spirit who indwells us, because Christ died to put this into place. He is our truth. Don’t compromise to accommodate. 
  • Jesus did not retaliate. I don’t know about you, but when I’m “attacked,” I naturally want to defend myself. But I’ve learned and am still learning that I don’t have to defend myself. I have nothing to prove (i.e. I don’t have to prove myself to others in order to be secure in who I am), nor do I have to prove God. He’s much better at it than I am anyway. God has taught me to trust Him to be my defender, which brings us to the next point.
  • Jesus left His case in the hands of God. Jesus knew who He was. He didn’t need to prove it, because He knew God would. Events would play out and reveal the Truth—Jesus. My friends, I have seen God do this over and over again. It isn’t easy, trust me, I know. But if I try to defend myself, I look foolish. If I trust God to do it, He will often make my accuser look foolish. That doesn’t give me permission to gloat, and often in this process, God works in my heart to have compassion for my accuser. Whoever it may be. Follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting for what to say or NOT to say and trust God to be your defender. 
  • Jesus personally carried our sins so we can live for what is right. And He did this for our pre-believers just as He did this for us. We are freed to live for what is right. Our pre-believers have not embraced this truth yet, so we can’t expect them to live according to that standard. They can live moral lives within their own ability, but they will fall short, just as we did and still do at times. The point here is what Peter said, “do good, what is right, even if it’s hard.” There are times when we can compromise without sinning, but we must not sin to compromise. I hope that makes sense. Sometime standing for the truth makes us a target, but will we stand? For Jesus, yes, I will stand.  
  • The wounds Jesus suffered healed us. And I believe they continue to heal us. As Paul says, continue to work out your salvation. It’s an on-going, transforming process. We are saved from the pit of hell the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord, but our salvation is an ongoing process. Jesus died once but He loves forever. His love transforms us. Declare this truth over your life.
  • He guards our souls. He is the lover of our souls. He did all this to ensure our place with Him. The greatest deception the enemy has accomplished among believers today is to believe God doesn’t love us. But when we really think it through, we can see the lie for what it really is. Why would Jesus suffer and die for us if He didn’t love us? He didn’t just do this to be done with us. He did it to have a deep and intimate relationship with Him. He has drawn us to Him out of love, not duty. 

Wow, this post has gone long. Sorry about that, my friends. So much good stuff in this part of Peter. I especially love the third point about leaving our case in the hand of God. How about you? Which point spoke to your heart most?

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
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