42 posts categorized "Unconditional Love"

Guest Post by Trish Fuhlendorf: Happy vs. Holy

IStock_000016466788XSmallAfter I became a Christian, it seemed like my marriage got a little worse every day. Stu couldn’t stand the fact that I was a Christian. He hated seeing me read the Bible and if he saw me reading a paperback, he would always ask what I was reading; knowing that it would be another Christian book. Then the criticism would begin, “Is that the only thing you can read?”

In addition to the light vs. dark dynamic that was getting worse all the time, his drinking and subsequent anger were on the rise. I got to a point where I couldn’t find any commonality between us and I dreaded him walking through the door each evening.

I remember seeking counsel from a woman at my church. She suggested that I make a list of Stu’s positive attributes. This would accomplish two things, it would help me focus on the good qualities of my husband and also give me ideas of things on which I could compliment him. However, asking me to swim the English Channel would have seemed an easier task. I stared at a blank piece of paper for what seemed an eternity. Finally, I came up with 2 or 3 attributes. It was a painful and ultimately pathetic assignment.

Where was the relief? I searched the Bible for an “out clause” of my marriage, but found nothing that applied to my situation. I cried out, “I am so unhappy. Isn’t there something in the Bible that tells me that God is concerned about my happiness?” I found verses talking about the “joy of the Lord,” but nothing about me being happy. But how can God expect me to go through life unhappy?

Then He impressed upon me my role as a godly woman. I am called to live in relationship with God and that should affect all of my earthly relationships. My children will most likely be married someday. Do I want them to start their relationships with the legacy of divorce nipping at their heels? Would I ever advise them that if they’re unhappy in their marriage, they should just bail? What kind of godly example would I be if I ran to divorce just like so many in the world?

I didn’t fully comprehend what God was trying to tell me. Is God more concerned with my holiness than my happiness? Yes.

It was time for me to accept the husband that the Lord gave me, but it was also time for a change in me. This would only happen through Him.

Now, I wish there was a guarantee, that our obedience to Christ would one day be rewarded with happiness here on earth, but there is not. So, in choosing to actively love our spouses every day, even though you might think they don’t “deserve” it; remember that we do not deserve God’s grace and forgiveness, yet He gives it to us freely.

I started thinking about how much God loves my husband. I eventually thought to ask God to allow me to see my husband through His eyes. Almost instantly, I developed a profound compassion for him.

I also learned the difference between love, the feeling of affection, and love, the verb. And that love, the verb, is crucial to a successful marriage. I started enacting small, loving gestures each day toward my husband; resting my hand on his leg as he spoke to me, a kind text message in the middle of the day, a little unexpected gift, etc. These gestures were not easy at first. I had to force myself to do them, but over time they became easier and those feelings of affection returned to me.

Ultimately, God’s request for me to love my husband was not only possible, but with His help, my marriage improved tenfold. Happiness is not a goal that can be pursued or a state of being that can be lost. It is simply an emotion that we experience on and off throughout our entire lives as a reaction to our circumstances. Nine times out of ten, we have no control over the circumstances that dictate when our feelings of happiness come and go. So, the notion that a person will be happier if they trade in their current spouse for a different one is a bit ridiculous when you consider the lack of a logical foundation.

But, one thing God does tell us to pursue is joy. Joy and happiness are not the same thing. Happiness is a fickle and fleeting emotion, while joy is contentment in the presence of God. I contend that if we grow in Christ and engage his expectation for our holiness, that joy will be present regardless of whether or not happiness chooses to show up.

 

Trish headshotTrish Fuhlendorf is first and foremost a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. She is a wife, married 27 years. God saved her in her mid thirties, then her husband about 10 years later. She is a tireless advocate for the covenant of marriage and has a love and compassion for those in the bondage of addiction. She is a Regional Manager for K-LOVE and Air1, a mother of 2 adult children, loves her home state of Colorado, her 2 big dogs, cooking and exercise (to off-set the cooking).

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Empowered Living: Romans 8:31-39

Psalm119-1622My friends, we’re at the end or our Romans study. I’m amazed at how much the Holy Spirit has been showing and teaching us. I never imagined this series would wind up being nine parts. I absolutely love studying and teaching God’s Word. Thank you so much for taking this journey with me. I’ve loved reading your comments and hearing your hearts so much. God is movin’ and “groovin’” in the SUMite community!

On Wednesday I shared my favorite verse (Romans 8:28) with you and how the enemy tried to make me doubt what I knew to be true—that God is GOOD, always. This last part of Romans 8 holds a truth that meant more to me last year than I ever imagined. Let’s take a look at Romans 8:31-39:  

ESV: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

VOICE: 31 So what should we say about all of this? If God is on our side, then tell me: whom should we fear? 32 If He did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over on our account, then don’t you think that He will graciously give us all things with Him? 33 Can anyone be so bold as to level a charge against God’s chosen? Especially since God’s “not guilty” verdict is already declared. 34 Who has the authority to condemn? Jesus the Anointed who died, but more importantly, conquered death when He was raised to sit at the right hand of God where He pleads on our behalf. 35 So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God’s Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely nothing. 36 As the psalm says,

On Your behalf, our lives are endangered constantly; we are like sheep awaiting slaughter.

37 But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. 38 For I have every confidence that nothing—not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, 39 height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.

Right off the bat, Paul takes the truth, turns it around and asks us a question: If God is for us, then what can measure up to that or threaten that? I mean really, think about it. If you have the Creator of the Universe on your side, what can possibly come against you? David said the same thing in Psalm 27:

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? — Psalm 27:1 ESV

And that is one truth I spoke over myself over and over again last year when fear tried to grow and take over. Speak it out loud, my friends. The Lord is my light and salvation, I have nothing to fear! 

In verse 32, Paul again takes the truth and turns it into a question: If the God of the Universe is willing to give up His Son for you, then how could He withhold any of His goodness and love from you?

Let’s revisit another verse that says the same thing:

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. — Psalm 84:11

In verse 33 Paul goes back to where he started, that there is no condemnation in Christ. He repeats this point in light of all the exhortation that he has given thus far, especially after the questions he asked in verses 31 and 32. In essence he is asking, “In light of these truths, how can anything come against us?”

But even then, Paul isn’t finished making his point, because he’s building to one of the most profound truths in the Bible. He asks who has the authority to condemn and then answers the question with Jesus. Jesus has the authority to condemn but He chose another way—the way of sacrificial love. For He knew to condemn would drive us away and His heart was to be the solution to draw us near—into relationship and not religion and fear. He did what had to be done to defeat all that had formerly come against us, separating us from Him. The separation would now be forever removed.

Most likely Paul understood better than most what it felt like to wonder if God could truly forgive all he had done. As Saul, he had persecuted the church, watched Stephen stoned to death as he held the coats of those throwing the rocks. He cheered it, welcomed it, believed it was his mission to stop this new group identifying themselves as “The Way.”

Recently I asked Abba again if He was sure He had the right girl for a calling He has made clear for my life. I seem an unlikely choice in light of all I know this will mean and entail. He told me that was precisely why He has called me to it, because I am the least likely.

As was Paul, yet his voice and testimony had more power and truth precisely because of his past origins. Paul could understand, speak and encourage because he knew what Jesus had done for him. And if Jesus could use a man like Saul for his Kingdom, then Paul knew Jesus could forgive and bless anyone willing to answer that call.

Profound. The truth. Jesus.

Thus begins Paul’s point to one of the greatest truths in the Bible. Nothing can separate us from God’s love for us. Nothing can separate us from a love so great, so sacrificial that He was willing to die for us. Nothing can separate us from a love that is so beyond our ability to understand it that we must pray for understanding of it.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith —that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:14-19

Paul finally brings his conclusion to this: Our place of victory is already assured because of God’s great love and even makes a list of everything that we might think could come between us and God and says, “No, not even that.”

My friends, one dark morning last year as I sat with my Bible, reading Romans 8 again, as the Holy Spirit told me to, I reached the end of this chapter and the still small voice of God whispered in my ear.

“Not even you.”

Nothing I had done, thought, or felt could separate me from God’s love. The truth finally broke in and burned away the shame and guilt I had accepted from the enemy and had been carrying far too long. I finally understood the magnitude of this truth.

Nothing I did or could do (or not do) could stop God from loving me. And when this truth settles deep into our heart, it doesn’t give us free license to do whatever we want. No, it brings us to our knees in gratitude and with a longing to love God more.

For how could we ever match such love—a love that is powerful enough to cast out fear? We cannot, and grace says we don’t have to. We don’t have to measure up. We only need say yes, and let the fruit of the Spirit grow in us so that we can love Abba Father, King Jesus, and Holy Spirit more and more each day.

This is the way, the truth, and the life, my friends. To walk in the truths of God’s Word and understand that every single promise and truth in its pages is our inheritance in Jesus. He is ours and we are His.

Thank you again for walking through Romans 8 with me. On Friday, our dear friend Trish Fuhlendorf has a wonderful message for us, “Happy vs. Holy.” You don’t want to miss this one.

Love you, SUMites!
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Links to previous parts to this series:

 

A Introduction to Empowered Living
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part one)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part two)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:5-8
Empowered Living: Romans 8:9-11
Empowered Living: Romans 8:12-17
Empowered Living: Romans 8:18-25
Empowered Living: Romans 26-30

 

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Empowered Living: Romans 8:12-17

Psalm119-1622Happy Saturday, my friends! How are you doing? Feeling more empowered yet? Still soaking in the truths from Romans 8:9-11? I loved your comments on Wednesday, and I love that we’re on this journey together. Please keep sharing your thoughts in the comments. We inspired and encourage one another when we do that. 

Today we’ll dig into Romans 8:12-17. I’m only using the NIV and Voice translations to keep things a little less cumbersome, so pull out your favorite translation and be sure to read it there as well.  

NIV: 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

The Voice: 12 So, my brothers and sisters, you owe the flesh nothing! You do not need to live according to its ways, so abandon its oppressive regime. 13 For if your life is just about satisfying the impulses of your sinful nature, then prepare to die. But if you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, you will experience life. 14 If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children. 15 You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God’s own family. That’s why we call out to Him, “Abba! Father!” as we would address a loving daddy. 16 Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. 17 If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory.

In this section of Romans 8, Paul brings us to a conclusion about our relationship to sin—basically that we don’t have one. We have a relationship with the Father, as we are His children. And living as such is truly living. The part I’m still wrapping my brain around completely is in verse thirteen. 

The NIV translation says, “but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

But if we look at the Voice translation, this nugget is more fully revealed: “But if you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, you will experience life.”

The NIV translation makes it clear that we can’t put a stop to sin in our lives by our own ability, strength, or power. If we could, then the law would still stand and Jesus wouldn’t have needed to come and die for us. We need the help and power of the Holy Spirit. 

The Voice translation brings out an additional nugget of wisdom to this process though. We must invite the Holy Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, sin and strongholds. Sometimes we know exactly where the battle lies. Other times we don’t and we need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these areas to us.

And more than likely He will show us one of two things:

  1. We are living in sin. Remember, He will not condemn us, just lovingly convict us and empower us to walk away from this sin and/or ask for help.
  2. It’s a lie that has permeated our thinking and understanding of who we think we are in relationship to who God says we are. This revelation will bring relief and, again, empowerment to overcome.
  3. The issue is actually a demonic influence. Again, this will bring relief and understanding, as well as tools (our authority in Jesus for starters) to rebuke it in the name of Jesus, and to recognize this influence if it tries to come back.

Often times the lie has allowed the enemy a foothold in our lives, or we’ve become entrenched in a lie that the enemy shot at us to begin with. Figuring out which happened first is kind of like the old chicken and egg question—which came first. But you know what, it doesn’t matter. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you identify it and show you how to root and boot it out. 

However, as it is written: 
“What no eye has seen, 
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived” —
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. — 1 Cor. 2:9-12

That help will come from Scripture and prayer, from the still small voice of our Abba (which is Greek for “Daddy”) telling us the truth, from the Holy Spirit in a clear thought or leading that we know didn’t come from ourselves, and may even come externally in a timely phone call, email, or a book or Bible study that seems to be exactly what we need at that moment.

Just tune in and you’ll see those answers to prayers to be freed from ongoing issues in your lives. Some answers come and the “fix” is immediate. Other times it will take time and we must persevere and remember that verse from 2 Corinthians 12:9 where God tells Paul that His power is made perfect in weakness. We can take comfort and place our hope in this powerful truth, that in our weakness, God’s power is exhibited to it’s full capacity and will bring us to freedom and healing, in His way and His timing.

And finally, there are more promises here, my friends. Take a look:

Vs. 14: The Holy Spirit declares us children of God. We don’t have to prove ourselves to be His children. The Holy Spirit SAYS we are. (i.e. You don’t have to earn God’s acceptance and approval.)

Vs. 15: The Holy Spirit frees us from fear and deepens our relationship with God the Father, “as we would address a loving daddy.” 

Vs. 16: The Holy Spirit confirms to our own spirit that we are God’s children. 

(Do you see in vss. 15 and 16 how the Holy Spirit tirelessly works to bring the Father to us and us to the Father?)

Vs. 17: We are God’s heirs, just like His Son Jesus, with full benefits. We will share some of His sufferings, yes, but we will ultimately share in His glory too. 

Look what He said in John 16:

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. — John 16:20-21

The analogy of the pain of childbirth becoming joy is a perfect analogy, my friends. Many of us are feeling a bit “pregnant” with promise (I actually noticed I was waddling the other day, the way I did when I carried my girls!) and some of us are struggling to give birth to those promises, but that’s a topic for another day.

My friends, I’ll stop here. Just know that this is all building to what I consider to be two of God’s greatest promises to us near the end of this amazing, truth-packed chapter. 

Let’s chat some more in the comments! 
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Day 4: Asking Day

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In a SOZO healing session, when we give something over to God, we are directed to ask Jesus what He has in return to us. I confess, the first time I encountered this, my reaction was to wonder if this was offensive to my Lord and Savior. Did I have that right to ask? When I asked, He quickly replied with something He wanted to give me to replace what I had relinquished. Sometimes it was just an affirmation of His love. Other times, He had specific things to give me. There have even been times as I’ve prayed for myself or others that I received the word, “Ask.” Jesus was telling me or the person I was praying for that He was waiting for us to ask Him for something. His Word even tells us this:

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. — Matthew 7:7

Sometimes we forget to ask, often times, like I did and still do at times, we wonder if we have the right, but if as the children of the Most High God, we are given this right to approach the throne of grace as part of our inheritance in Christ.

So today is “asking day.” Determine one thing that you would like to ask Jesus for. I know this is challenging because you most likely have a list, but this is just for today. We have our whole lives here and beyond to continue asking and seeking.

Write down what you are asking for in your journal, and be sure to date it. Pray over it and believe two things:

One, that God hears you:

I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. — Psalm 17:6

And two, believe Him for this. It may not come as you expect, but believe that Jesus will answer this prayer in some way, shape, or form.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. — 2 Corinthians 1:20

Yesterday, in the comments, so many of you shared God’s promises and as I read them I was so moved by what God is doing in all of us. We are all hearing the same things, my friends. Think about the sheer impossibility of that by human standards. But we’re talking about our great and mighty God who transcends all that. We have corporate and universal communication going on here! Hallelujah! 

Rose shared this verse and I knew it had to be in today’s post:

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. — John 15:16

My friends, it’s asking day! Ask your Father God for the deepest desire of your heart and watch what He will do. He is telling us today to ASK!!!

Abba Father, we lift our voices up to You with great awe and love. Our hearts are so humbled that You care so much, love us so much, that You even remind us to ask You for what we need, what we long for. Lord, nothing is beyond You. Nothing! So we raise our voices to You and ask for these things and especially, Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, we ask for MORE OF YOU! Today, Lord, I am asking for JOY! For me and this beautiful SUM community. In the name of mighty King Jesus, amen!

With great love,
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The Three Deadly Ds: Disparaging Disbelief

27165685_sDear friends, before Thanksgiving I started a series on the Three Deadly Ds: Dubious Doubt, Debilitating Disbelief and Disparaging Disappointment. In Part One of Dubious Doubt we talked about how the enemy comes in and plants seeds of doubt, as he did with Adam and Eve, and in Part Two I shared some examples of breakthroughs that came as a result of pushing doubt aside and re-establishing God's truth firmly in its rightful place.  

Today, let's talk about Debilitating Disbelief. And that is exactly what the enemy's intention is, to debilitate (weaken, enfeeble, enervate, devitalize, sap, drain, exhaust, weary, fatigue, prostrate; undermine, impair, indispose, incapacitate, cripple, disable, paralyze, immobilize; informal knock out, do in) our faith. Once doubt has come in like a ravaging worm, disbelief moves in to fill those empty places like a fungus or mold. 

  • Your mind is riddled with questions and you may even feel tormented at times.
  • You try to read God's Word but find yourself questioning its truth or thinking it's true for other believers but not for you. 
  • Praise and worship become difficult.
  • Your attitude of gratitude has fled the scene and his unwanted cousin, grumbling negativity, has moved in.
  • Fear subtly increases and can even move into physical manifestations such as anxiety and health issues.
  • Guilt and shame move show up like uninvited guests and make you think you've messed up and that God will never be pleased with you again.
  • You cry out to God but feel like He's abandoned you.

This is why it's so crucial to to seek God in prayer and in His Word, especially in these dark times, and in a mismatched marriage as we don't have a believing spouse to uphold us in prayer and encouragement. And, despite how we feel. The enemy will use your feelings against you to keep you from running to Abba, to our Lord Jesus, for the truth.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. — James 1:22-24

Community becomes even more important because the enemy's final tactic is to isolate you so you'll forget who you are and Whose you are. God's Word and those who carry it are our greatest source of healing, hope and restoration.

My friends, a burden Abba seems to be asking me to carry right now is for those of you whose spouse used to walk in faith with you but has recently walked away. I've received several emails from many of you in this place and have had divine appointments with several dear women who find themselves in this painful position of betrayal. 

Let me say that I get why some walk away. Much of what I've shared today is from my own experience. The enemy tried to destroy me earlier this year and now I understand why someone would walk away, or be tempted to walk away, especially if their faith foundation is shaky or built on sand (Matt. 7:26-27).

Part of my journey to freedom came one night when the demon assigned to torment me finally revealed himself. Amazingly (to me, not God) Abba had prepared me the day before, even though I didn't realize it until after the encounter. He'd shown me more about my authority in Jesus. That night this enemy revealed himself in the darkness, with oppression and hissing. He tried to make me fearful and afraid in my semi asleep/awake state. As soon as I realized what was happening, I rebuked him and went back to sleep! To God be the glory!

What I have learned is that disbelief opens doors to the enemy, who tries to steal our divine destiny and destroy our peace and joy in the Lord. These are the tools that brought me through this dark night of the soul and taught me so much. 

  • Read the Bible every day and write down key Scriptures that speak to your spirit and soul. Go back and reread them later in the day and to start your quiet time the next morning. You’ll be surprised at how much more you receive out of God’s Word by doing this. Our bodies sleep at night but our spirit doesn’t. Give the Holy Spirit a chance to work God’s truth into your heart, soul and mind. Believe His Word—it’s true for you too!
  • Worship and worship more. There are many ways one can worship. With music, by reading Scriptures out loud (the Psalms are great for this), by speaking out praises to God about His character and who He is. Take a walk and praise Him for His creation. Pet your dog and praise Him for putting the fur baby in your life.
  • Invite that attitude of gratitude back home and boot his ungrateful cousin out!
  • Rebuke the spirits of anxiety, fear, oppression, depression and confusion (and any others the Holy Spirit brings to mind). In the name of Jesus, they must go! 
  • Plead the blood of Jesus over your mind, your thoughts and your feelings and speak God’s Word against guilt and shame (no condemnation in Jesus—Romans 8:1).
  • Know, believe, profess and remind yourself that no matter how things seem, God loves you, He always has loved you and He always will love you. His word says He will not abandon you, so believe it. He is with and for you!

I still have much to learn and continue to press forward into more of God (Phil. 3:12). My faith is stronger and I am better equipped to recognize the enemy’s darts. And this translated into helping others to be released from this spirit of torment when I’ve prayed with them in the healing rooms. The places we find freedom and victory will be the places God calls us to pray for and help others find that same freedom and victory (2 Cor. 1:3-7).

My friends, the next and last part of this series will be about disparaging disappointment. I’m waiting on Abba to give me the words and message He wants conveyed for us, His children. Please pray that I hear Him clearly amidst all the hustle and bustle of this move and Christmas. 

Remember, Jesus came to heal, to set the captives free and release prisoners. He is always on our side and always fighting for us. Amen!

And MERRY CHRISTMAS, SUMites! Love you!
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Our Transforming Influence

Proverbs 124My friends, I’ve been reading and studying Proverbs the last couple weeks, specifically using the Passion translation. I’m enjoying this new translation very much and find the flow to be more poetic and inspiring. And going between translations to compare has given me more insights and appreciation of Solomon’s words of wisdom.

What I’m specifically searching and praying for is wisdom. Next to praying for Jesus’ protection that I not be deceived in any way (2 Thess. 2:3), I pray for wisdom in all areas of my life. And as you read Proverbs, you begin to discover that wisdom is inseparable from God’s love and His Son, Jesus.

Last week a verse in this translation brought me back to a conversation I had recently with my pastor about my pre-believer. It’s about a precious place we as the believing spouse hold in our loved one’s lives—a place of honor and influence that we must take before God daily to seek wisdom and unconditional love.

I’ve included three translations of Proverbs 12:4:

The integrity and strength of a virtuous wife
Transforms her husband into an honored king.
But the wife who disgraces her husband
Weakens the strength of his identity. — Passion translation

A worthy wife is a crown for her husband, but a disgraceful woman is like cancer in his bones. — NLT

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. — NIV

What I love about the Passion translation is the passion and weight behind its meaning. I find it difficult to put into words (just as I did that day as I talked with my pastor) what it means to stand in this place of influence. So, I will do my best to describe what it means to me.

I see in my husband such amazing potential—that potential for eternity that God places in ALL of us (Eccl. 3:11). And I feel honored that God has called me to this place by his side to help release it. As I grow in faith and am transformed (and this is at times very messy!), my husband is affected. Even in some of the struggles I’ve walked in this year, I have seen attributes of love and faithfulness revealed in my husband that I didn’t know were there. Even though I couldn’t see it, God has been working in Mike in unexpected ways.

My friends, I know this isn’t easy, and at times we will mess up miserably. At times we just won’t feel like “doing it” anymore. But as God’s Word says, we must persevere for the prize that waits ahead. At the very least, I want to know God’s favor and pleasure in me for my faithfulness to my husband, but my expectation is based in the faith and hope I have in Jesus who can do more than I can even imagine and that expectation is that one day, my husband will choose Jesus.

Until then, I choose to walk in this place of influence to come along side and help my husband see the potential I see God has placed in him. I seek ways to affirm him in who he is (identity) and how he works and cares for his family. I am intentional to express my appreciation of him, which just recently and unexpectedly came full circle back to me in a precious card telling me he appreciated me. I look for opportunities to hear his heart and tune in to what he may not be saying. I keep asking Abba to bring him to Jesus (John 6). And everyday I thank Jesus for all the ways He presents Himself to my husband in answer to those prayers (mine and others) and affirm my belief that one day his answer will be “yes.” I love walking in this place in partnership with God and under His leadership to be that influence in my hubby’s life and heart. And I’ve watched my husband aspire step by step to be a leader of honor (the honored king) to his family, even as I wait for his full salvation transformation (i.e. preparation…just love how God works).

Let me also be clear that I am in no way perfect. In fact, I am very flawed and have learned to heed the Holy Spirit’s nudge to seek forgiveness from both God and my husband when I mess up. Amazingly, God uses it all to bring transformation not only in me but in my husband as well. That is our assurance of God’s goodness and presence always at work for our good.

Dear friends, I believe God gives us the choice to walk in this very unique place of opportunity (again, as we’ve said in the past, we do not believe God asks or expects us to stay in abusive situations) as believers empowered by the Son of God, as a calling that is part of the Great Commission right in our own homes. We can walk in it with integrity and honor that will boost our pre-believer closer to the potential God has placed in him or her. Or we can struggle in bitterness and resentment that will bring not only ourselves into despair but will waste away or hinder that potential identity in Christ just waiting to be released in our pre-believer.

We carry the very presence of God and His Kingdom through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. All the time, we bring this power and influence to our pre-believer’s life. We may not see any change or effect, but by faith (what we believe to be true and not what is seen—Hebrews 11:1) I believe something happens. And not by our efforts but by God’s love working in and through us.

So be encouraged as you continue to walk and persevere in this very special place you hold in your pre-believer’s life and Abba’s heart. You are impacting the Kingdom of God and your pre-believer every single day.

Love you dearly!
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When Is It My Turn?

SUMites, 

Let’s have a chat. 

Matthew 13 44I’m pretty sure that last week’s posts about Janet and Trish’s spouses coming to faith brought about a range of feelings in our SUM Nation. 

But today I want to speak to those of us who may feel forgotten. For those of you who read these stories and whispered, “God, when? When is it my turn? When will this happen in my life.” 

So many emotions, feelings and thoughts were made know to me in this past week. True happiness for these women. Feelings of jealously, then followed by guilt because their story seems so far from a reality in our life. Perhaps you are confused and maybe a few of us are really just MAD. Mad at God. Mad at our spouse. Mad at ourselves for being in this predicament. Anybody????? 

Can I ask you to hear me out for a minute? 

Firstly, gang, I’m right there with you. I have prayed for my husband for so long and with such passion that I’m puzzled. I ask the same question, “When God?” 

So I guess this message today is for all of you who are behind me on this rocky road of the unequally yoked path. I want to point out some things I bet that you haven’t realized while traveling this journey. There are often times that we are so intently focused on two things that we miss so much the Lord is bringing to us in our daily lives. They are: Our spouse’s salvation, our pain. 

For years I prayed with selfishness for my husband’s salvation. Those prayers were completely selfish and unproductive. My motives for his salvation, at the core, were to make my life easier. And my other prayers were the lamenting of the pain of disappointment in my marriage. Now, hear me, I’m not minimizing either. 

However, I have arrived at a place in my faith and marriage that I can share a smidgen of wisdom with you in the hopes you acquire the blessings intended for us in these unique marriages much sooner than I found them. Okay? 

Let’s be real. The unequally yoked life is hard. Compounding different world views with a spouse who struggles with an addiction or destructive behaviors is almost unbearable at times. But it’s in this real pain that we are forced to surrender our self and to lean fully into the arms of our healer, Jesus. 

I know without a doubt that I would not have the faith life I have today without the years of struggle. And you know what? God knew that too. An easily life for me would have robbed me so many miraculous encounters with the King. Because I chose to believe the Word and surrender many of my preconceived ideas over to God, I now live in great favor, tremendous joy and profound supernatural peace. I literally hear the voice of God now and I am on fire with the Holy Spirit. Knowing what I know today, I would go through it all again to receive the rare and priceless gifts I am now walking in. Today I truly understand what it is like to hold a pearl of great price in the palm of your hands. 

My friends, reflect of the lives of Janet and Trish. Janet fasted. Have you sincerely fasted for a number of days? Have you prayed night and day asking for God’s wisdom and for the salvation of your spouse? Have you surrendered your heart to God and given Him everything. That is no small task and it takes years. 

Be patient with yourself. The greatest thing you can do is to choose to see all that is right before your eyes while you think you are waiting for life to begin when your spouse comes to faith. 

God is speaking to you. Have you learned to hear Him?
Jesus is your betrothed. Have you acknowledged that He wants your heart every day?
The Holy Spirit has so much power to bring to bear in your life. Have you grieved Him? 

So this week let’s say to God, “Papa, I know I have wondered when it would be my turn. And Lord, I greatly desire to see my spouse come to faith. But teach me now, today, to be so in tune with your spirit that I don’t miss anything more that you have for me. Be gentle with me while I learn to let go of fear, pride, selfish ambition, arrogance and judgment. And fill me today with your good gifts. Let me life represent you well, Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.”

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

Stay tuned as I want to finish up the series about healing on Friday. Why are some healed and others are not? 

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Intimacy Through Worship

9063688_sMy friends, your comments on Wednesday's post, Worship is More Than a Song, were amazing! You all had such great things to share about what worship means to you. Some of you even shared links to articles you had written on this very subject. I absolutely love seeing things like this, because it shows our Great God's hand moving in synchronicity through His children to bring His loving plans and purposes into place for us individually and the body of Christ. And what blows me away is that God doesn’t need our help, but by His great love and delight in us, He chooses to work His plans out through His children.

I love this line from Amanda’s post on her blog: "True worship is a kaleidoscope of every color in the spectrum that combine to make one shining, brilliant white!”

And this one from our very own Heather Passuello’s article:
 "The worship team is here to lead you into a worship experience, not prepare you or make it happen for you. You cannot be lead where you are not willing to go.”

And precious SUMite, Stacey S. shared this beautiful comment about communion:
 “He gave us Himself, to consume in the Spirit through the sacrifice of His Body and Blood in John 6:52-69. To me, every Sunday, receiving and consuming this gift of life is the most fulfilling and awe inspiring worship I can give him.”

In reading all your comments, I was so struck by the many ways we have discovered to worship God (Tanya worships as she jogs. Merlene spoke of studying God’s Word and encouraging someone) and connect with Him and hear His voice. Please keep sharing in the comments. Our sharing makes this community rich and blesses us all.

Today I want to explore more of this intimacy in worship, because I believe that this place of intimacy one-on-one with God is foundational to every other area of our lives. Let me say that again:

This place of intimacy one-on-one with God is foundational to every other area of our lives.

This is the area I'm coming to draw into more deeply as I get to know God better. This is about giving God our time and ourselves. It's about coming before Him in quiet stillness and expecting Him to be there as we wait. Not doing. Just being.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. — Psalms 62:5 NLT

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” — Psalms 46:10 NLT

This is about going into the inner sanctuary of our spirit and meeting Jesus there.

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. — Hebrews 6:19-20 NLT

It is personal, intimate and intentional. It embraces the quiet soul seeking, the longing heart singing, and the child needing to know and be known in the presence of the Father (1 Cor. 13:12). Here is where we ARE truly anchored in Him.

This is about setting time aside to invite God's presence to be with us one-on-one. Here we find direction, growth and healing through His love and the power of the Holy Spirit and His presence. His Word, worship music, time, silence, prayer walking and journaling are the precious commodities I find the most beneficial here. How about you?

God is love and I’m realizing that His love is creative, healing, inspiring and transforming. The more we desire to be in, delight in and long to be in His presence, the more we understand and experience His great love for us and we get to know Who He is.

I love Amy’s comment about God’s love: “I felt God speak to that, that when we lay down our selfishness and pride at His feet and become more self-sacrificing in the ways that Jesus was, that is true worship and how all other means of worship can freely pour out of us. And let me tell you, that is an extremely hard thing to do if I cannot or do not fully accept the powerful love that God offers and that He wants to permeate every fiber of my being and aspect of my life. It all starts there.”

I find His presence rushes in to meet me when my worship is about Who He is, not what He does for me. Thankfulness is part of worship, but first and foremost, to worship God simply for who He is opens our hearts to Him selflessly and deeply.

He is so perfect, so holy, so good, majestic, mighty, and more than enough (Eph. 3:20). He is incomprehensible in His fullness, yet astoundingly present in the smallest of details.

My friends, I think I could go on and on here and still wouldn’t capture the fullness nor the capacity that worship brings to our intimacy with God. I can only pray that the Holy Spirit will fill in the places that I have missed.

Please understand there is no pressure or expectation to perform in worship. This will hinder intimacy faster than anything else I believe. God knows us, He created us. We have nothing to prove to Him. He only desires we be with Him. That is our greatest form of worship, to be with Him as He is with us. And it can be as simple as just sitting quietly and expectantly and speaking back to Him what He says to us.

I love You.

Resting in Him,
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Our Greatest Promise (Part 1)

8406391_sMy friends, this is part three of the salvation series Abba has been leading me to share. The first week we talked about how we are Wired for Salvation and last week, we discussed the differences in our identity before and after accepting Christ in Sinner vs. New Creation. This week we will explore our greatest promise and guarantee of eternity because of our salvation—the Holy Spirit.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. — 2 Corinthians 1: 21-22 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. — Ephesians 4:30

The Holy Spirit is our seal of ownership that we belong to God and our guarantee that we are and will be saved on the day of redemption. If you know you the Holy Spirit dwells in you, then you know you are saved and have an unshakeable eternal destination and home.

But I want to talk about “the more” of this promise, specifically the difference between being dwelling and filling. We can’t change or affect that the Holy Spirit lives in us thanks to the saving grace of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, but we can affect how much we are filled by the Holy Spirit’s power.

First, God’s Word tell us to be filled.

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, — Ephesians 5:18

Paul cleverly uses the comparison of wine because he wants us to understand that we are meant to be “saturated” (the Greek intention of the word drunk) with the Holy Spirit. That we are to be affected so much that His presence is seen by others—Christ in us.

Yet the one thing that impedes the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives is sin, whether it’s intentional or not. And though there can be debate on what sin is, I am learning that it is pretty much anything that shows a lack of trust in God.

Worry, fear, anxiety are three I have battled with more in the last six months than I ever imagined I would. And if you asked me last year if these are “sins” I would have told you I wasn’t sure.

Yet now I see them in a different light, that the first entrance of these and things like anger and unforgiveness are like temptations. They enter in as possibilities and become sin in our lives when we entertain and give them place in our lives. (If you’ve described yourself as a worry wart in joking, it’s time to shake that label and tell worry to take a hike.)

Thus why this piece of truth is so vital to our mental, physical and spiritual health—to our soul, mind and spirit.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:9

Again this is not to be legalistic, but it is something we need to consider and practice on a daily basis. What unrighteousness are we carrying that impedes the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives? 

What lie are staying in agreement with? What fear are we allowing to keep us from full accepting all that God wants to give us? Sometimes we know when it’s a sin (like lashing out at a loved one) or sometimes it’s a past hurt or wound that we are holding onto and Abba says it’s time to hand it over.

Think of it this way. Our veins are filled with blood and when the blood flows freely through our bodies, we are healthy and strong. But then there’s this thing called plaque (unhealthy build up of white blood cells or ‘sin”) that builds up in our veins and if we don’t do anything about it (change our diet and exercise, etc, in other words ‘repent’ and ‘confess’) the blood flow is impeded and our health declines.

Amazingly, the Holy Spirit helps us do this. On Friday I will explain how that happens. (Lynn has graciously given me her blogging day.) Until then, I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

Love you, dear friends!
Dineen

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Humble Confidence

Dear friends, our very own Teresa T. has a great message for us today:

HumbleConfidentThis group loves God’s word and often discusses how to best apply the scriptures. Winning Him Without Words encourages us to serve as a living testimony, rather than to badger our pre-believers with arguments and ploys. So, it is important for us to be clear in our own minds about what scriptures ask us to do.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, …. 1Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Some translations use the word “meekness” instead of “gentleness.”

Let’s explore some commandments on humility and confidence that can appear, at first glance, to be difficult to put together. How can we be both? Join me in a short series of posts to explore how we can marry these commandments together in our lives. I hope that through discussion, we will find that they fit together nicely.

Let’s start by looking at humility and meekness. Here are a few passages:

Passage

Comment

Micah 6:8 (NIV)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
      And what does the Lord require of you?
  To act justly and to love mercy
      and  to walk humbly with your God.

I love this passage. It is good  to be humble. The Lord requires us to be humble. That’s clear.

Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly   loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

This passage is also a command. Here, humility is in good company with  other sweet characteristics that speak to the condition of our hearts. Humility is not just a rank or station in life. It is a state of being.

Matthew 20:26 – 27 (NIV)

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become   great among you must be your servant, and  whoever wants to be first must be your slave—

What? Become the least to become the greatest? 

God’s economy just is not the same as the world’s economy. In this passage, Christ gives a terrific definition of humility.  And He tells us that He values it.

Proverbs 3:34 (HCSB)

He mocks those who mock,
  but gives grace to the humble.

Proverbs 3:34 (ESV)

Toward the scorners he is scornful,But to the humble, he gives favor.

He values humility so much. The humble get grace and favor. Sign me up.

Matthew 5:5 (NIV)

Blessed are the meek,
      for  they will inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5 (HCSB)

The gentle are blessed,
  for they will inherit the earth.

Do you recognize the Beatitudes?

Looking at different translations can help to clarity scriptures.   Here, one translation uses the word “meek” and another “gentle.”

Humility means to be modest and to consider your own importance less than you consider the importance of others. It means to respect God and others. It means to accept God's authority. Other words that mean humble include meek, modest and unpretentious. Arrogance is the opposite of humility.

When we realize that all our strengths come from Him and He loves us in spite of our earthly faults, we can be more gentle and loving toward others.

Humility does not imply self-loathing. Humility does not require us to think we are worthless. We are not. We are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). We have heard that so often, but stop to think how powerful that is. We are created in the image of God. Wowzers. There is something good in each of us that it meant to reveal an aspect of God. And God sent His Son to die for us so that we can live an abundant life (John 3:16). He values us. Modest does not mean frumpy. Respecting others does not mean we disrespect ourselves.

I think that it takes a certain amount of self-confidence to be humble. We can put others first when we are not constantly looking for self-affirmation.

Review the verses listed in the table above once again. We are rewarded for being humble. Doesn’t that give you courage? Are you starting to see that humility and courage really do go together? The next time I post, we’ll look more closely at courage.

Prayer

Lord, soften our hearts. Let us become humble and put value on others. Help us to not seek compliments or the center of attention. Help us to lavish attention on our loved ones and invest time in them, even when we are tired. Show us how we can bless a stranger. Let us be patient, kind and caring. Amen.

Conversation

What does humility mean to you? How do you see its relationship with courage?  How does humility help you to show love? There are plenty of other verses on humility and meekness. Is there one that speaks to you? Can you think of a "role model" who exhibits this trait? Share in the comments below.

Thanks

Thanks, Lynette, for inspiring this post! I enjoy our discussions. ~ Teresa

Such a great message about humility. Thank you, Teresa! Hugs! ~Dineen & Lynn

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Don't Know What to Pray?

PrayerOver the years I've learned that our mismatched situations come in all shapes and sizes. When I'm asked what mismatched means I explain that it can be as clear as one spouse believes in God and the other doesn't, as gray as differing faiths or degrees of faith (i.e. a believer married to a Muslim or one spouse growing in faith but the other isn’t) or as painful as one spouse walking completely away from God. Even this description is a broad attempt to capture its meaning. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Let’s leave that stuff to God and trust Him to make sense of it (Prov. 3:5).

Today I want to share from what I know to be true in my marriage. From my perspective, my hubby is like Fort Knox in letting anything about believing in God penetrate his fortress of atheism. I've been asked if something happened in the past to turn him away and many other questions that I can only shake my head to. I simply don't know what cranks my guy's head and heart in this direction.

But God does.

Yes, praying for him has been a challenge, because what do I pray against or for, besides the obvious, "Lord, show him You're real. Soften his heart. Don't let him miss seeing you today in his day."

Those are all great prayers (I don't think there's really a bad prayer when our heart is for our loved one to simply know Jesus, right?), but after a while, I kind felt like I wasn't having any impact at all. Now I know that just because I don't feel it or see it, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

But on this particular day I needed some new directions, you know? So I ask Abba, how do I pray for this guy? I'm baffled.

Guess what? God has some really cool ideas. Imagine that! As I prayed that morning, Abba inspired me to pray for divine connections. Not with people but in his work. You see, my guy is very techy—he's a computer programmer and analyst—and he's very creative. He wrangles various computer languages to do some pretty technical and amazing stuff, much like an artist manipulates paint to create the overall illusion of parts that create a bigger image.

An artist can look at creation, and in her attempt to paint its essence, can begin to see the smallest parts and how they perfectly connect to create the whole and how that whole points to God. In that same sense, I'm praying for my hubby to see how the code and technology he is using to create a full picture reflect the perfection and synchronicity of God in our lives. My husband is surrounded by technology every day—this is the world he moves and works in so I'm basically asking God to come in and be present in a way my guy can relate to.

Sometimes it can be really challenging to keep praying for our prebelievers and even for our children, especially the challenging ones. God created each of us uniquely so it just seems to make sense that our prayers can be similar yet unique to the person. And ultimately, Abba knows what we need and what our prebelievers need before we even ask, right? (Matt. 6:8)

We don't have to have the perfect words or method to pray for those we love, because really and truly, it’s all about love—God’s for us and our prebeliever, ours for God and our prebeliever and the mysterious way God’s love transforms ours into this beautiful thing we know we could have never done on our own. But when we can understand the direction Abba is moving in that person's life and join Him there with our prayers, then we can become a part of an amazing and beautiful journey as we watch the pieces fit together and create a brand new picture.

And even in those times that we don’t know what to pray for, we never pray alone. (Romans 8:26) and “the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” (Romans 8:27)

Jesus is pleading for us, dear friends!
Love you dearly!
Dineen

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Weekend Worship — The Throne of Grace

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16

On morning as I woke up, I heard Jesus say to my heart, “Come learn about My grace.”

I’d been reading in Hebrews and the verse above had caught my attention, namely the confidence part, not a place I’ve excelled in. LOL!

As I sat with Abba that morning and sought His heart, I believe He wanted me to understand that approaching the throne of grace was about belief—believing that I have this “right” as a co-heir in Christ and that Abba sincerely wants me to because He loves me.

Abba wants us to know and believe that His “door is always open,” because His love for us is unchanging and unending, no matter what’s going on in our lives.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Rom 8:38-39

Amazingly, and so very much God, Abba led me to verse after verse that week that spoke more about the confidence He wants us to have to approach Him for whatever we need.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. — Ephesians 3:12

Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. — Titus 3:7 NLT

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:19

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

I’m still grasping what all this means, my friends. Yesterday as I prayed and asked Abby for more understanding, He told me, “My grace and love are inseparable.”

Wow, what confidence we can have in that! Amen?

Have any thoughts to share on what the throne of grace means to you? Please share in the comments! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

Have an amazing weekend drenched in Abba’s supernatural abundant grace and love!
Dineen

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Do We Believe It?

IStock_000019658016XSmallMy friends, I’d planned to write a very different post today about two very important things we need to know—who does God say He is and who does He say we are. But I think we’ve actually talked a fair amount about how important it is for us to understand who we are in Christ (click here for a list of Scriptures that say who you are in Jesus). And the Bible is packed with full of the truth of who God is.

And if you didn’t read my post, Spread the Love, I’d like to encourage you to read it and do the exercises at the bottom. Let Abba fill your heart and mind with the truth of who He says you are.

In light of all this, I’m beginning to see the bigger challenge is to truly believe what God says about Himself and us. How many times do we hear these truths, yet somewhere in our mind or heart (or both) lurks this doubt that questions how applicable is it to us? Or, that was Jesus’ heart was for His disciples, not for me.

Let’s take a walk through John 17:20-26:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.

From over 2,000 years ago, Jesus prayed for you and me. He prayed for us to believe in Him, His message of love from the Father in sending His Son to die for us, and to truly believe that He lives in us. His is ours and we are His.

May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Here again, Jesus’ heart, message and mission was for the whole world—past, present and future. We are that future, and we are also the recipients of this amazing love! That’s huge! Abba loves us as much as He loves His Son Jesus. Say that to yourself, “God the Father loves me just like He loves Jesus.”

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.

Jesus wants us with Him, so that we can see Who He is and how God’s love defines Him. And He continues to do this, to make the love of the Father known—His great love for us.

Not only does Jesus still pray for us, but He LIVES to intercede for us!

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. — Hebrews 7:23-25

Jesus is constantly praying for us! I think I’m still wrapping my brain around that one. Now apply all this to our prebelievers too! Wow!

As fellow SUMite Ian Acheson post over at our Mismatched&Thriving site, our minds are a battlefield. This is why it is so crucial to capture every thought and bring it before Jesus, and then ask, “Is this true of You, Lord? Is this true of me?”

My friends, share in the comments one truth that is speaking to your heart right now and why. I believe we need to encourage each other with God’s truth and build each other up with His word. This is our sword and the most tool we have to walk in faith and truth. Let’s read it and believe it!

Saturday I have something to share with you that rocked my word. And guess what? It’s going to rock yours too because this is a message from Abba’s heart to us, SUMites. You are going to love it!

Live in the truth, my friends!
Dineensig

*****

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It's Bigger Than the Big Picture

IStock_000000907516XSmallMy dear friends, I have so much on my heart to share with you right now. As I sit and type this I am literally praying for words and ORDER to begin sharing what we experienced at Bethel and what I have come away with. More clearly now than ever I am grasping two things.

One, I must be intentional to share it all, share everything I have received in order for God’s work in and through me to produce fruit not only in others but in myself as well. As a person who tends to hold things in, and deeply I might add, God is moving me to an understanding of how this is not His desire. I am so thankful that Abba completes EVERY good work He starts. Amen?

And two, I can best explain from a quote from a book. In Lifestyle of a Prophet, author James W. Goll says, “It is time you come to understand not to sacrifice long-term goals to achieve short-term success.”

I’ve shared a little bit in the past about the prophetic calling that God has placed in me—a gift that is available to all of us. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:5, “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.”

And Paul’s last words there are key. It is for edification of the church. I will explain more about this soon, so take this as precursor of what will come. For now, let’s go back to my second point—sacrificing long-term goals to achieve short-term success.

We do this from a place of impatience. Sometimes we are so anxious for something to happen now that we are willing to accept a lesser result in order to satisfy our impatient nature.

When we started this ministry it was and still is about thriving in a spiritually mismatched marriage. My question for you, dear friends and I’ve asked it before, are you willing to run the race to achieve the goal set before you? (This does not include abusive marriages—we do not believe that Abba would ask you to stay in a physically or emotionally abusive marriage.) We cannot put requirements based upon our own impatience upon the plans of God. If we do, He may just let you have the lesser result so you will understand that His higher result is the better plan.

I’ve said many times I’d rather wait longer for my husband to come to know Jesus so that he is completely sold out to a faith that will not wane or fail instead of seeing him come to faith prematurely and fall away. I’m not saying I do this easily either. Some days I have to remind myself of this.

And one other truth I want you to hear today in light of what I am sharing. Never mistake your spouse and their impending salvation as a project. This is one truth I heard at Bethel last week that rang so loud in my ears I thought I would go deaf!

And this applies to every prebeliever we know, including our children. We cannot make the salvation of others our projects. We can honor God best in these places of service by seeing those who do not know Jesus yet through the Creators perspective and His love. And this is what Abba’s heart is right now. He spoke these words to me very clearly Monday morning as I walked, worshiped and prayed:

I am grieving over empty temples.

I wept when I heard His words and felt as much of His heart as He knew I could handle. My friends, Scripture is clear that we are His temples and we hold the Spirit of the Living God, Jesus, within us. And our Heavenly Father who desires all to know Him is grieving over the empty ones who do not know Him yet.

And this kind of grief only comes from intense and relentless love. Dear friends, I pray you receive this from my place of love for you and Abba’s heart for you and those you are praying for.

He is asking us to widen our perspective beyond ourselves. He wants us to see the grander pictures of not just our places but the places our children and grandchildren will hold. He desires us to partner with Him to be part of the greatest revelation of His power He has yet to release as He begins to move people into place for this Great Harvest.

Our homes and families play a crucial part to the bigger picture. God is asking us to seek His heart specifically for understanding and wisdom of what this looks like for each of us. And then to wait expectantly for Him to reveal and unfurl this within our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

As I said, God is moving me to an understanding that I must share what I am receiving. Jesus never intended His Salvation to be limited to one person, one home, one church, one city or even one nation. He died to save all. And in the Bible, the Greek word for all means ALL. We don’t just walk in mismatched marriages. We walk in a mismatched world.

SUMites, we are part of what God is doing and on the bigger scale, what He's about to do. Let Him show you how to let His heart for you overflow into your home, your neighborhood, your city and even this country. The big picture is so much bigger than we ever imagined.

Soon I will share how God has moved in my life to affect my church and city. It is a story that blows even me away, because it something I never imagined Abba would call me to do. I am not that girl, but He says I am, so I am running with Him!

Love you all so much, SUMites!
Dineen

*****

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Marriage Challenge No. 1

So, I’ve been inspired by a friend of mine Courtney Joseph who has a new book coming out, Women Living Well. I will share more about that later. It’s a really great book. I was privileged to read it before its release and she has a couple of chapters that are Marriage Challenges. 

One of the challenges is a kissing challenge. Okay, for many of us who have been married a number of years there are statistics out there that indicate that 40% of married couples will go an entire week without a kiss. I’m not sure about this but I do think that as we settle into marriage, are raising children, working and become increasingly busy and distracted, we miss the opportunity to connect with our spouse through an intimate kiss. Yikes, I know this is true in my case. 

CoupkSo, this week, I’m throwing down the gauntlet. It is your challenge to kiss your spouse on the lips for five seconds or longer, every…. single ….. day this week. 

I can bet some spouses are going to freak out. Some may be put out but I am hopeful that this small gesture releases a gentle, kind and loving spark in your relationship with your spouse. 

Okay, take the challenge and pop back in here and let me know how it went for you today? 

SUMNation: Practical help and encouragement to THRIVE in your Spiritual Mismatched Marriage. 

Dineen and I love you. Have a fun and playful week. Break out the lip gloss and pucker up. *grin*

*****

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Weekend Worship — It Starts With a Willing Heart

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “ Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep." — John 21:15-17

933344_i_love_youI know I talked about this passage a while back, maybe even a couple years ago, but the depth of this interchange has deepened even more for me recently. Just to review, the first two times that Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, Jesus uses the Greek form agapao, which is a sacrificial love. And each time Peter replies with the Greek form, phileo, which is a brotherly love. The third and final time that Jesus asks this question, He switches to phileo, and again Peter replies with the same form.

I believe Jesus was asking Peter if he was ready to be sold out for Him, to love Jesus before anything else and to step fully into a life of faith and belief, to tend lambs and shepherd sheep. Jesus was speaking of people, of course. He was asking Peter to live his life sharing Jesus and helping others to know who the Great Shepherd really was.

Yet we see Peter hold back. I can only imagine how fear held him. How he may have judged himself a failure and untrustworthy based upon how he denied knowing Jesus three times, as Jesus had predicted.

What I also love about this passage is Jesus' patience and love for Peter. I believe Jesus switched to Peter's use of phileo to meet Peter right where he was. As if to say, "Okay, if that's what you feel you are capable of, let's start right there."

Such grace, such acceptance, such love.

I love Peter's story because it's my own. For a long time my own fear and feelings of insignificance kept me from saying a full yes to living my life for Jesus. I would get close but ultimately I clung to the last tendrils of self perceived control of my life. I was afraid of what Jesus would ask me to do. And afraid of how I would be perceived by those around me.

We know that we are God's children and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). The thing is, it's not just about being related to Jesus but having a relationship with Him. And He is so very trustworthy. He is patient and brings us along on this journey exactly like the master potter that coaxes and gently forms clay on a wheel to take form and purpose. And if you've ever done this, you know how the slightest pressure brings form, yet too much causes the piece to go out of balance and the potter must either attempt to correct the piece quickly or start over.

My friends, don't lose patience with yourself in this process. Jesus will bring you along exactly as He knows is best for you. Take another look at Peter. By the time we delve into the later chapters of Acts, he is moving and walking in the Spirit and by the time he wrote his letters he is completely sold out for Jesus.

Sometimes you may feel like you're doing everything you should yet inside, everything feels wrong. I've found those are the times that Jesus is cleaning the house—our heart. I discovered the hard way it's easier to work with Him by recognizing the issues He's dredging up, acknowledging them, then asking for forgiveness, healing, release, or for Him to change this area of your heart and life.

Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2), so it’s a part of our faith journey to grow and yield, to form and change to be more like our Creator. And when we step fully into this process with trust, we are transformed.

Since my encounter with God at Bethel Church last October, my own faith journey has exploded and I know there is no way possible I could have done any of it on my own. I never even imagined the possibilities of where God would take me when I asked for more. I was tired of feeling like an ineffective Christian and tired of myself. I knew there had to be more to this faith journey, and I wanted more!

And it is an amazing journey full of fun and delight! Yes, there are times that I quake in my boots when God calls me to stop and talk to a complete stranger, which winds up being either a time to encourage, share Jesus, or pray with them. But I always walk away awestruck and so full of God's love, because I am walking in the Spirit.

There is no better place to be, my friends! This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said He came to not only give us life but give it abundantly. This is what He wants for you too. And the absolutely and only requirement is to have a willing heart. Doesn’t matter where you are coming from, because Jesus is more interested in where He wants to take you.

When the Holy Spirit gives you that nudge, just say yes, then do what He asks. That's it. The results and outcome are not up to you. He already has that covered, just like He did for Peter.

Trust Jesus and take a step of faith. As you do this more, you will find that your fear will turn into anticipation as you begin to look for your next divine appointment. You won’t want to miss a single one—that’s my prayer now, “Lord, don’t let me miss a divine appointment.”

My precious SUMites, I want you to fully experience this kind of life and I am asking Jesus to meet each of you right where you are. Share in the comments how Jesus is meeting you and what He’s asking you to do. Now is the time to stand strong in prayer over each other because God is calling us up as a community to be part of His Great Harvest. I don’t want any of you to miss out on a single bit of it!

Love you with the passion of Jesus in my heart! 

Dineen

And now for some worship!

*****

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Chronicles Of A Humbled Donovan

Okay….. So, ahem…

You know what ALWAYS happens when I share teaching with you. I live it out… Well, this series on taking a step into the Jordan is no exception.

So today I’m going to share with you an experience that has opened up a giant hole in my heart that only our merciful and loving God can fill. And I wonder if some of you will find this hole exists in your heart as well? Travel this path with me today because I bet it reveals something within you that you didn’t know existed.

Let me set the stage. Many of you know my friend, Maria. I’ve introduced her here before. She has a healing and deliverance ministry through a large church in San Diego where they help women who are emerging from the adult films industry. Pornography is, of course, an open door to demonic oppression. Maria prays and delivers many of these women and they find healing and wholeness in Jesus. AMEN.

I had lunch with Maria this week. This woman is quite insightful and we began a discussion about rejection. She and I have talked a lot about this aspect of pain because we are convinced so much of our hurts, and the lies we believe, our spiritual struggles exist because we have been rejected by someone whom we wanted to love us.

Much of our teaching at retreats and conferences center around this very aspect. And we lead women to discover the truth and identity in Christ and obtain healing.

What I didn’t expect at this lunch with Maria, which by the way included a two and half hour discussion, with prayers, healing and tears (on my part) was that I needed to hear a truth.

Gulp.

This truth hit me so hard when Maria spoke it I literally felt pain in my soul (heart) and I cried right there at the table in Macaroni Grill. Sheesh! I'm sure our poor waiter was thoroughly freaked out. Oh well.

Okay, So let me loosely recap our conversation:

“Maria, I want you to pray for me about an area in my life where I struggle.” I asked. (Yes, I struggle with stuff in my life, just like all of you.)

So, I explained to Maria my struggle, It’s too long to write it out here.

Wouldn’t you know it; Maria turns this whole rejection thing around on me. Ouch!

“Lynn, is this struggle rooted in rejection?”

I think for a minute and then it hits me. “Ah, yes.” I stammer staring at her across the table. You see the light of the Holy Spirit just went on in my heart.

“Maria, I guess I still hold pain in my heart because my husband was not capable of loving me how I needed to be loved.” i.e…. Rejection of my faith…. And likely other areas too. (Just being authentic here.)

Now this is where my world split open.

“Lynn, he likely was never loved in the way you want to be loved. Lynn, it’s most likely that he was rejected way back in his life somewhere, perhaps parents? I don’t know. But Lynn,

He’s hurting.”

How come I’ve never considered the pain and rejection he may be carrying and that he conceals from me? Sometimes God shows me just how utterly selfish I can be.

 

I could bawl my eyes out just typing this.

In an instant God opened up a door into my heart and revealed something that brings me pain and shame. I knew in that instant that I’ve withheld a small part of my love, genuine love, kindness and compassion from my husband. I withheld it out of rejection. Out of some twisted belief that because he didn’t love me how I needed to be loved, that I was justified to withhold part of my love that I could have given him.

“Oh Maria, he IS hurting.” It’s all I could say.

Maria, doesn’t judge me. She loves me. She prays over me. I release my bitterness, the past rejection. Then a new love floods my heart for my hurting husband who has likely never been fully loved and accepted himself.

EVER!

So, that happened on Wednesday. As I write this it’s Thursday morning. My husband is away on a business trip and will arrived home this evening after a grueling work week. He is going to come home to his safe haven, our home. But when he walks in the door tonight, his wife is different.

It is my life’s goal from this day forward to love that man with unconditional and a full and accepting love. My friends, I don’t even know what that looks like right now.

But, I do know what that feels like. My Papa, Daddy, loves me like that. And living in His Presence, His love, is a place where EVERYTHING is okay, good, grace covered and happy. My husband needs to experience this kind of love. It is the very least and the very best that I can give to him.

So as I prayed about all of this today God opened up his Word to me and this is what I read:

FewaJohn 13: 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” 

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 

I sat stunned in my chair. God immediately said to me, “Wash his feet.” And God means this literally as well as to serve my husband with a new love and affection.

So, tonight after my husband’s long business trip as he sits down to watch television, I’m going to quietly kneel before him, remove his shoes, wash his feet, cover them with lotion and place slippers on his feet. I will rise and then kiss him on the lips and tell him how much I love him. I’m going to thank him for working so hard. I will tell him I could love him better and to forgive me for not doing so before now. And I will assure him that I’m going to be better at it in the future. And promise him I will try to do it better and better every day for the rest of our lives.

I’m not sure what will happen but I KNOW that my Daddy is proud. And after all, God does this for me…. every…… single….. day…

Signed, a humble and ever learning servant, Lynn

*****

Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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

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