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12 entries from April 2018

Leadership In An Unequally Yoked Marriage

Old Well SUM logoHello Sumite Nation:

As I was on my walk-n-pray this morning, the Lord began to speak to me about a topic that Dineen and I have covered throughout the years, here at SUM. Leadership of the Family. Writing about this topic is at the core of our ministry as our first book is titled, Winning Him Without Words. The title is based upon the 1 Peter 3 principal. I have always read this passage from the NIV translation. However, today I looked at it through lenses of a woman with 26 years living in an unequally yoked marriage, the lenses of the King James version and the lenses of the reality of God’s history and the Word as a whole.

Let’s take a look together.

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives — 1 Peter 3:1 KJV

Where the “Church” gets all messed up is deciphering how to apply this passage to our marriages today. What I believe after decades of studying the Word, living in my unequally yoked marriage and intimacy with Papa God and Jesus is that many women believe that we are to silently bow to any and all decrees, demands, even suggestions put forth by our spouse. Unfortunately, many unaware pastors also place this burden on women without any understanding of the full challenges a woman faces within her spiritually mismatched marriage.

But let’s take a look at the original English translation, King James. …they also may without the Word be won by the conversations of the wives.

I don’t know why this appears to be revelatory to me of sudden, but it is. In this original English rendering of the Bible, wives are to be the Word (because our spouse won’t read the Bible) and we are to have conversations with our spouse. Take it one step further, it’s our conversations that will win them to Jesus.

Does this seem new to you?

As I was walking this morning, Jesus continually brought the story of the Woman at the Well to my remembrance. He spoke to my heart, “Lynn, I do you remember this woman at the well?”

“Yes, Jesus.”

“I love her, Lynn”

“I know Jesus.”

“Will you take notice that I came to set a new dispensation for women in the world while I lived on earth?”

“What do you mean, Lord?”

“I came to bring freedom, liberty and justice to the Daughters of God. My interactions with this woman displayed acceptance, not condemnation. When I spoke to her, it broke every demonic lie that women are less-than men. When I asked her for water and offered her Living Water, it decimated the deception that woman have no voice, no choice. When I spoke to her about her past five relationships and her current unhealthy living arrangement, I wasn’t speaking condemnation over her sin but speaking life and hope to her broken heart of rejection. Five men rejected her, and her pain was so deep and her self-perceived value of so little, she agreed to cling to a life situation that was destroying her heart.”

Tears, my friends, tears. 

I believe we are to have a voice. A voice of quiet strength and unwavering conviction before our unbelieving husband. We MUST become fully convinced that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that there is no other possibility nor option.

THAT, is the WORD that our husband’s will read. That, is the power that is displayed in our conversations. Love and respect is at the core of this passage. And love and respect flows both ways in a Godly marriage, regardless if there are two believers or only one in the union.

I’m convinced Jesus was the greatest moment in all of history for the elevation of the Daughter’s of God back into our rightful place as a “helpmeet.” A helper, nurturer, and taken from the side of Adam and not from his foot nor his head. The entire Word of God shares stories of women who quietly stood for the Kingdom of God and did so with courage, a voice and with love.

Prophetess Deborah, Sarah, Ester, Priscilla, Mary, Martha and Mary the mother of God. And what about modern day women who despite discrimination and going against teachings that silenced women in the church also brought thousands into the Kingdom of God. Kathryn Kuhlman, Anne Graham Lotz, Beth Moore, Evangeline Cory Booth, Mother Teresa, Maria Woodworth-Etter, Aimee Semple McPherson.

We are the Daughters of God and stand in the company of great women who were heroic in their accomplishments for the Kingdom. If you are a woman and a believer in Christ, your conversations are anointed with the power and love of the Holy Spirit. Your words bring life, to your spouse, your children, your home and every place that your gentle, yet powerful conversations take place.

Women of Faith Arise! Your voice is powerful. Your voice is needed in this end-time church. We MUST have the conversations of love and hope with a world that NEEDS our Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus, for demonstrating love to women. For restoring our voice and releasing us from the deception and lies of our enemy. Jesus, today bestow into me a growing and powerful conviction of your truths. Let me lead conversations with quiet love and respect but with power and authority. Jesus, I ask for wisdom as I AM the living Word to my pre-believing spouse. Don’t let me assume to much responsibility in his faith journey but place upon me the wisdom for each day to love him as You love Him. To see my husband as You see him. To lead my home spiritually until the day my husband joyfully steps into that role. I love you Jesus. Thank you. Amen


I Can't Believe That JUST Happened!

Hey SUM Family, Tiffany here!

I have a confession. These last couple months have been really hard! I have struggled with things that I haven't for a while – at least a year. Things I IMG_2558thought were long gone have resurfaced. Things that I just gained victory from – snatching up my money, time, effort, thoughts. I have to admit that it is mainly my fault. I let my guard down. I got prideful...remember what it says about this in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “If you think you are standing firm, be
 careful that you don't fall!” This is what happens when we take our eyes off of Jesus. Just like Peter stepping out onto the water and looking at the waves crashing around him – I was sinking. I lost my first love.

Funny how things can develop so quickly! Just last August I began my journey on the fast track to wisdom, spiritual blessing and gifts, a platform to
use my writing and speaking abilities to reach fellow believers. I found favor in the eyes of the Lord. I know I still do...I know that He is looking at me saying, “Get up, dust yourself off, you are still victorious. You are still redeemed. You are still loved.” However, I can't help but wonder – deep down – what happened? How could I forfeit such a beautiful love relationship because I got winded, lazy, entitled? How could I allow myself to so easily get caught up in the wind and the waves and take my eyes off of Jesus?

Maybe you didn't let your guard down. Maybe you are closer to the Lord than ever. Maybe you've been more faithful and strong. Regardless of our personal lives there has been much opposition in the spirit realm. I am seeing your struggles through conversation and prayer requests. I am seeing the things that you once struggled with have come back with a vengeance. I am seeing the things that spouses once struggled with have come back too. Oh how many times I want to plead on your behalf when I hear words like, “He has gotten bad again...”

What is going on right now that the battle is raging? I can't say for sure (please those gifted in the prophetic – dreams, visions, etc – weigh in here) but I believe that we have begun to hunger for MORE.

I believe that we have begun to stand up for our beliefs and our value and dignity.

I believe that we are beginning to truly seek out what God means when He talks about our identity IN Him.

I believe that things that once were struggles are no more.

I believe that we are seeing breakthrough, healing, community, fellowship...LOVE.

Friends, Lynn has said it before and I totally agree. We are living in some pretty amazing times! We are being prepared for whatever God has on the precipice and Satan and the forces of darkness DON'T LIKE IT!

Forgive me for my small child movie reference (we have so many at our house!) but have you seen the movie Cars 3? At the end of the movie, a girl race car (Cruz Ramirez) steps in for Lightning McQueen to finish the big race. She is really good and quickly pulls up on the ranks. She gets to 3rd place and the defending champion, Jackson Storm, pulls back to her position and begins talking down to her, “You don't belong here. You will never be a racer.” She begins to slow down. She begins to lose ground.

Lightning McQueen tells her something that is really profound, “Listen to me! You got into HIS head. Don't you understand? He would have never have done that if you didn't scare him. You are a racer. Use that.”

I want to echo his words. Don't you understand? You would not be under fire if YOU didn't scare the enemy! If you were not making your Heavenly Daddy PROUD...there wouldn't be any stress, anxiety, return of past temptation and sin. There wouldn't be opposition from spouses. There wouldn't be any struggle. When Cruz Ramirez heard this, her demeanor completely changed. I pray you hear this – straight down to the core of your being – and allow it to change yours. You have power and authority given by Jesus Christ HIMSELF. When you pray (even when you can't see results in the physical) you make a difference. When you seek the Lord, you are pleasing the Father in Heaven. When things get tough, continue to cling to the Only One who can make a difference and bring deliverance, healing, provision.

Today I started reading this book called “The Presence: Experiencing More of God” by Alec Rowlands. Let me tell you that I haven't even finished the first chapter and I am blown away. I wanted to share a little bit with you. I pray it encourages and fires you up like it has done to me.

“There's nothing safe about pursuing and being near to God, if by safe you mean being left as you are, to follow your own agenda and depend solely on your own wisdom and resources for living...The Christian life is not a game or a quiet pastime. But if you are willing to be used by him for the extension of his Kingdom here on earth, then drawing near to him is the only way to live life fully. The only things at risk are things not worth living for. And living in the daily pursuit of God's presence is the best way I know to get to the quality of life and unmatched sense of adventure with God that we desire. It is the Christian life lived the way God intended...The reason Jesus came was to open the door to this kind of intimacy with God for all humanity. It is part of the inheritance of our salvation. After Jesus ascended to the Father, he sent us the Holy Spirit expressly to facilitate our intimacy with God – in revelation, in worship, in prayer. God invites us to seek his presence. He welcomes our pursuit of him. He rewards it. And his presence will be revealed in limitless ways as he makes himself known. But there is risk. Proximity to God involves not just having a good feeling. We have to be willing to be wholly consumed by his love and to have our lives rearranged by his grace.” (pp.3-4)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” -Matthew 6:33

The question for us all – myself included – is this:

Am I willing to be FULLY CONSUMED by his love? Even to the point that He WILL rearrange our lives by His grace?

Are you hungry for abundantly more (Ephesians 3:20-21)? I know I am.

Despite all of the hardship, trouble, backsliding, temptation, sin that has come upon you...you ARE still redeemed. You ARE still loved. You ARE still victorious. You ARE still filled with authority straight from Jesus Christ.

Bring your burdens and we will bring them before the Lord together. Respond in the comments, YES and I would love to pray over you. 

In His Marvelous Grace,

Tiffany


He Can Handle Your Dissapointment

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

SUMites, each of us have walked the lonely road of disappointment. It is a commonality when you are unequally yoked. Our dreams about a family, a spouse who attends church together and leads the family devotions are only but shadows of a hope lost in reality.

What do we do with disappointment? How do we work through disappointment with the Lord?

I know that I’ve wrangled through disappointment with my spouse. Many a time. Many times, I take my man to the Throne of Grace and receive mercy and grace in my moment of surrender of expectation. In the divine and holy moment of speaking forgiveness over a man who has no idea the strength it takes to place a piece of my heart on the throne of love and surrender. I give him grace that I didn’t receive. And the only way that I can move through this process with complete honesty is through the power and love of Jesus Christ.

And Jesus shows up every time and it is well with my soul.

I can forgive and love my husband fully and with honesty.

But, disappointment with God…… Yikes. I feel shame to admit that I have walked in seasons of quiet confusion and disappointment in God. This is usually a result of something I believe I heard from the Lord given to me to have faith for it to become a reality and then it doesn’t come to pass.

Husband’s conversion
Prodigal child
Loss of a book contract

Are we afraid to ask God about what we truly want because if it doesn’t happen, we believe we won’t recover from the disappointment? It’s a vulnerable moment to come before our God and tell Him, “I don’t understand. I’m confused. I’m brokenhearted. You let me down.” Just being real here.

SUMites, we need to come before the Throne and just let Him have it all. Tears, pain, loss, and you know what happens? He lifts our head and whispers into our stained face, “I can handle your disappointment. I am bigger than every loss, broken dream and dashed hopes. I will handle your heart. I will heal it. I won’t leave you abandoned and lost. I will lead you into the new Promised Land. I will not fail you.”

Oh, gang, will we dare to believe He is bigger than all of our brokenness?

How do I know He can handle it? His faithfulness in our history over and over plus perhaps we borrow the history of others. Isn’t that what we do when we read the Bible. We lean on the history of believers from the past and their triumphs through faith in God.

Have you experienced moments of divine healing? Does your heart contain memories of His love that healed past wounds. These are our testimonies of His faithfulness that will certainly pull us through our current disappointment.

Today, what is hidden deeply within your heart. If you need to give it to Him, leave it in the comments. I will pray with you to release it and then receive a new gift from Him in the place of your pain. Gather your courage. This is a divine moment of real healing for your life. He longs to heal. He longs to set you free. He longs to love you fully and in for you to rest in quiet trust.

I am crying out with you, Lord, I invite you, I plead with you, heal the wound in my soul, this very hour. I have faith for this healing and in Jesus name, I ask. AMEN


Your Yes, A Powerful Tool In The Kingdom

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSo SUM Nation,

What do you think about developing quiet trust in God. Do you perceive how it’s an ongoing, interactive, and beautiful process of surrender and belief? I believe God. God believes me.

I wonder if there are some of us who struggle with fully trusting God. I wonder if we might think that trust is a mechanical and unquestioning stance. I wonder if we think that we can’t ask God about our life circumstances. I ponder to realize that many believers think they must bear down, endure and pound out their faith with little response from the Lord?

My friends, today, let me speak freedom into your heart. It’s okay to ask the Lord about your life. It’s a beautiful thing to bring your confusion and your pain before the Throne of Grace and receive mercy in your time of need.

God does not require perfection. He requires children that will come to Him.

Oh, that we would just come to Him.

I’m convinced that we are in a distinct and extraordinary season on planet earth. God is releasing gifts, anointing, callings and fulfilments of destinies in His people who have said, “YES!”

Those who have pulled out of their soul in response to the Father, a GIANT YES. Yes, to time spent with Him. Yes, time and time again where television time and other distractions were set aside to read His Word. The tool of yes, carving out time by rising early before the dawn to meet in the secret place where He abides. Yes, to intimacy. Yes, to obedience.

SUMites, He is biding us to spend time with Him and TO KNOW THAT HE IS GOD!

It’s in the unseen moments of dedication, surrender, and affection that we are building the impenetrable fortress of faith that no devil can dismantle. The onslaught of hell is nothing compared to the trust we carry, the gifts in which we live.

So, right now. Imagine yourself with a tool in your hand. It’s the “yes” tool. What is God asking you to carve out of your life in order to say yes to His perfect love and peace?

We are standing upon the moments of some of the greatest breakthrough the world has ever seen. The Lord is poised and ready to pour out His love and favor upon words He has spoken to you. The promises He has given are available and READY for us to believe and receive but the demonic continues to distract, delay and deceive.

SAY “NO” RIGHT NOW to the devices of the devil.

Step into this divine moment of time and use your tools to bring His will to earth as it is in heaven.

Please don’t receive condemnation from my words. Perhaps I wrote them only for me. But I believe the faith and the miraculous which I currently operate in today are the result of day after day, year upon year, with a great big yes from my heart to His.

SUMite sisters and brothers. One question to answer today in the comments:

Do you want to receive ALL that God is pouring out right now? Answer with a YES and let it be a statement of faith that all of heaven takes note and the favor of God can fall fresh upon. Hallelujah!!

On Monday: Disappointment


I See Two of You

Ann here!  Last month I wrote about how God had been having some fun with me using figs. If you missed that post you can read it here. Well, today I wanted to share part two of that story. It includes a further promise for us SUMites. I hope you enjoy it:

One day last year it occurred to me to ask God a curious question: “Lord, what do you see when you look at my situation?” Twinbabies SUM

I'm sure God prompts such questions and, sure enough, the answer came the next morning:

I see two of you.

I'd been expecting an answer that would refer to me, but two of us? That gave me something to ponder.

A month later, on the topic of ‘two of you’, an unusual picture landed in my head. The picture was of me and my husband as babies strapped in a baby-carrier, one in front of the other. I was the one at the back, my husband was in front. Along with the picture, God seemed to say this:

Ann, you and Bryce are My two babies and I’m carrying you. Right now, you’re the one next to My chest hearing My heartbeat but he’s the one people will notice. You’re both held firmly in place but one day you might wake up and find you’ve been swapped.

For real? This is not the first time I've felt the Holy Spirit speak of the SUMites' spouses as His babies (Luke 13:34), but what this picture meant most to me was that God adores my husband, and there is some deliberate placement on the Father's part with our two separate-but-joined stories (John 6:44).

This ‘journey of two’ brings me back to our salvation promise from 2016, where God promised us that our spouses are like the 'very good' figs in Jeremiah 24:1-7. Recently, I've been thinking about that promise and especially the words ‘very good’.

Had you noticed those words are the same words used to describe the male-female partnership that God created in Genesis 1? As God created the oceans, stars, animals, and so on, He saw that each thing was good (Gen 1:1-25), but once He had created people, male and female, it was very good (Gen 1:31). With the ingredients of an Adam, an Eve, light, darkness, and free will, creation would fall. Still, it was very good.

The same words, very good, are relevant to our situations which, right now, might not look at all good. Not only does God describe our spouses as very good (Jer 24:3). He also says, “I have sent them out of this place for their own good” (v. 5) and “I will set My eyes on them for good” (v. 6). I can't help but be cheered along by what seems to be a clear promise of full restoration, back to the way He always intended things to be.

This sense of things being 'very good' for both parties in a SUM leads me to one final piece about the figs that I’ve been looking forward to sharing. It’s a phrase from the Holy Spirit that I heard:

A strong basket denotes fig season.

Hearing this phrase reminded me that the figs in Jeremiah 24 are, in fact, held by a basket, and I believe God is saying that the basket symbolizes us: A community of interwoven believers made up of many strands and carrying our spouses very deliberately.

This phrase also tells me that fig season will surely come! We've been waiting a while now, but ripening takes time as does the strengthening of the basket. When salvation finally comes our strength will denote the season, meaning that it will be a mark, sign, and characteristic of that time.

And so we are being strengthened and our spouses are being ripened, and when the perfect time has come there will two outcomes: A strong SUM community, and spouses with whole hearts for God (Jer 24:7). Those are two very good sides to one story. And that's what I believe God sees in this: Many, many stories of two.

So now I’m curious to hear: What does your story of two look like, and in what areas are you becoming strong? I'd love to ask about your spouses too, but it's hard to know what their story will be!  All in good time.


Confession: Do you Honestly Trust God?

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comTRUST

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

Trust is at the core of our relationship with God. And from my years of perspective, it is a long journey to fully trust in God.

Today, I want to talk about trust because so many of us in the SUM Nation are at the end of our rope and we want to trust but we aren’t fully convinced that God will catch us in this disaster that we face.

Brick: I think that building trust with God is part of our process. It’s a moment by moment, brick by brick, building of an entwined love. I choose to believe God at His Word and place my husband’s salvation in His hands.

Brick: God chooses to reveal to me His favor in area of faith and I develop an authority over the spirit of fear.

Brick: I trust God to provide during our yearlong unemployment.

Another Brick: God returns my husband to his former job a year later with all benefits and seniority restored.

Brick: I choose to trust God to heal me emotionally as well as physically.

Awesome Brick: God lays down another brick and heals me emotionally, physically and then I am commissioned and trusted to bring this kind of healing to others.

It’s a process.

A relationship building process that for a long time I thought was just one sided, me trusting God. But in reality, God is trusting me just as much. Indeed, I think the Lord sits upon His throne and ponders about Lynn on earth. Is she strong enough to write vulnerably about her marriage? Can she handle public backlash? Can she sustain the momentum? Will her marriage truly model what she writes?

My faithful demonstration of these questions, then opens up the Lord to trust my character to walk in them fully and bear His name that I would bring His name glory, not shame or ridicule.

Do you see how this trust thing works?

This kind of eternal building is summarized in the passage above. Read it again… Look what happens when we choose to trust, submit our free will unto His wisdom, He will make our paths straight.

I don’t know about you, but I have veered off the road way too many times, arriving in the pits. The pit of anger. The pit of disappointment. The pit of despair. The pit of loneliness, comparison, cheap living, fear and a host of other demonic dwelling places.

The more I trust, follow His voice, walk in obedience, I find this passage is absolutely true. God really honors His word.

So my Sumite, brothers and sisters, are you tired of being a pit dweller? As I have forged a path, going before you, follow behind me. Verily, verily, I tell you the truth. Building trust is a two-way relationship and it is the way to peace and life abundant.

Let’s ask these questions of God:

Father, are you good?

Father, can I trust you?

Father, can I trust you with ____________________

Father, what area are you teaching me to trust you?

Father, where am I dwelling in the pit?

Father, today I choose to climb out. Help me. (Current circumstance. Fear, marriage, illness, etc.)

Can I pray for you today in the comments? Also, do you struggle with knowing in your knower that God is really good? If so, please hop over to the SUM Facebook page and listen to how I came to understand fully that God is absolutely good. Click here <-----

I love you. See you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn

Next post: Disappointment


We Rob Ourselves By The End Game

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comConfessions of a Believer. The Process

SUM Nation,

I have a confession. I hate social media. I have another confession. I love social media.

There are great things about our connections online and some things that aren’t so great. Every day I find myself involved with several platforms of social media. Facebook, Twitter and recently I began to post on Instagram, as if I don’t already have a ton of stuff to do already, share, like and see. Good grief.

As people we are more connected than ever and yet, I am of the belief that we “feel” more disconnected than ever.

How about you?

And the speed of our lives often feels like a carnival performer with 10 plates all spinning on tall sticks and frantically working to keep them aloft. The tension of it all creates anxiety within merely by thinking about it.

I just wonder. Why?

Why are we rushing. Pushing. Striving and pushing ourselves at a breakneck speed to reach the Golden Calf; Accomplishment. Is social media -comparison- creating this ever increasing need to be perceived as a woman or man of achievement? Our society portrays success as accomplishment, achievement, superior performance and attaining the end goal.

I wonder if we may be missing it?

Are we missing the real value, the pearl of great price, in our push toward the finish?

Is our pace in life stealing the profound gifts of the process?

I want my husband saved.
My kids must be the smartest, cutest, cleaver, funny and enrolled at the perfect school.
My faith must be strong. I must study the Bible. I am serving, working and doing everything to finally be at peace in my life.

In fact, this very mentality has taken from us the peace our souls crave. In our over committed lives, we often miss the glory of intimacy and the power of learning while in the process. We drive out of our lives impromptu encounters with love, with our kids, our spouse, and others because we are working toward our end-game.

Perhaps, we have been sold a bill of goods that is rotten, moldy, and covered in goo. I’m convinced that the lasting, memorable, moments in my life were unplanned accidents that occurred along the way in my processes, not at the end of it all.

My friends, listen to this:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. — Matthew 11:28

I realize that we can’t just drop everything. There are purposes and responsibilities but perhaps we need to ask ourselves, no let’s ask Jesus these questions:

Jesus, what is stealing my soul?

Jesus, are there commitments in my life that are keeping me too busy to spend time with you?

Jesus, are there people in my life that are negative, speaking evil or destruction that I need to surround with healthy boundaries? And Jesus, how to I set these boundaries?

Jesus, today I give you my busy. Reveal what must go, what you have given me the grace to steward what is the best and highest for my life and family.

I hear the Lord calling us to steward our time, our social media, relationships and mostly to make time to dance with Him. He beckons the Bride to step into His embrace. See His smile. Handle our problems and mostly: To KNOW THAT HE IS GOD!

Be still, and know that I am God —Psalms 46:10

Next post: Learning to be with God leads to trust.


Is God Good?

Lets Talk Live Intro SlideOn Friday I will be continuing our series and will tackle faith areas such as our faith process, trust, disappointment, intimacy and more. However, many of these topics are challenging and especially so if you struggle with believing that God is always good.

How can you trust God fully? Is God good? 

These are questions I would like to address today on Let's Talk Live. If you have doubts and want some practical teaching on God's goodness, plan to join the conversation. 1 pm Pacific. 

SUM Facebook Page.

O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. 1 Chronicles 16:34


Springtime With My Lord

Texas-bluebonnets

By Martha Bush

For a peek into one of the most, shall we say, romantic books of the Bible, follow along with me today to Song of Solomon, and let’s go on a love adventure with our Lord. I particularly like Chapter 2 because it resonated with me during a particular time in my life when I was ready for a new season to begin.

In the first few verses of Chapter 2, Christ is pictured coming to His bride to spend some time with her. The way in which He is approaching her clearly shows that He is full of joy and excitement as He looks forward to spending some intimate time with His bride. He comes leaping over the mountains and bounding upon the hills. He comes swiftly like a young deer (vs. 8-9)

When Christ arrives, he looks into the window of His bride’s heart, and says:

Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away and come with me. For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up and the time of the singing of birds has come.  Yes, spring is here. The leaves are coming out and the grape vines are in blossom.  How delicious they smell!  Arise, my love, my fair one, and come way.

Spring: A time of nature’s rebirth, and my favorite time of the year. I can tell you that there have been times over the years as I read those verses that I have literally visualized myself leaping into the arms of my Lord. I then visualize Him carrying me up to a grassy hillside, and we sit and view the flowers blooming, the green leaves on the trees, and listen to the birds sing. A more magnificent spring day could not be experienced than the times I have felt as though the two of us were so intimately engrossed with one another. 

But one day as I was reading, I was struck by the fact that before Christ described the springtime to his bride, the first words out of his mouth were about winter. I was curious. What did Christ mean about winter as he looked into the window of His bride’s heart? 

Quoting from Matthew Henry’s commentary, he states: As the earth is to winter, so can our hearts become cold, dark, and barren.

That was a definitely a defining moment for me; one that I had not expected. Having lived in the great state of Maine, I know what it means to live in the depth of winterMany mornings we woke up to snow above the doorframe. There were months of freezing, cold, dark, rainy, barren days. The flowers were dead and buried, there were no leaves on the trees, and no fruit was being produced. We certainly couldn’t hear birds singing; they had all flown south for the winter. The winters were so cold that spring seemed like something we had only read about.

Could my heart have actually become that cold? As I searched my heart, I suddenly realized that it had been a long time since I had had a vision of sitting on that hillside with my Lord having an intimate moment with Him. I had allowed so many things to creep into my heart that had, indeed, caused it to become as cold as those winters in Maine. 

And so, I bowed my head and asked His forgiveness for all those things that I had allowed to creep into my heart, and rose up and disentangled myself from them. It was then that I heard my bridegroom say ever so eloquently:  

“Come away with me. The winter has passed. Spring is here.”

Instantly, I knew that I would once again:

  • Bloom like a beautiful array of flowers with the light of my Lord shining through me
  • I could sing like the birds of the mercies and grace of my Lord
  • I would now produce fruit as the grapevines with the gifts that He had placed within me.

And I leaped into His arms, and off we went to that grassy hilltop engrossed in an intimate relationship with one another.  How I love Springtime with my Lord!

*****

What about you?

  • Do you ever feel as though a coldness has settled in your heart?
  • Has the circumstances of life pulled you down?
  • Has being busy interfered with your time with the Lord?

I encourage you today to disentangle from the coldness and run to that grassy hilltop and have Springtime With Our Lord and Savior once again.

Blessings to you. 


Confessions Of A Wife

Confessions of aGang, I was considering starting into a Bible study at this time but I think I want to save that study for our annual Summer Bible Study. Today, and perhaps for the next few weeks, I’m feeling led to walk through some confession.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. —James 5:16

I quote this verse often. In fact, I sign my prayer book with this inscription. I refer to the last half of this verse because I absolutely, wholly, believe it is truth. However, I want to reveal something that most of us miss. It’s in the confession to one another that we find healing.

Ugh!

We don’t want to confess. This world shouts that we are weak and stupid to admit our shortcomings, failings and outright sins. But, as I grow up in the Kingdom, confession to the Lord is absolutely paramount but confessing to one another is also critical to our spiritual health and our physical health. I can’t fully explain why this is true but through years of prayer, it unquestionably is truth.

So, let’s have some brave communication and receive our healing.

Here are my wife-ey confessions:

  • I placed way too many expectations upon my husband to meet my emotional and spiritual needs.
  • I got it wrong often when presenting Jesus to him.
  • My insecurity about my personal faith in the early years, led to many arguments that just weren’t necessary.
  • I am faaaaaaaaaaar from perfect as a wife. I’ve messed up things often in my relationship with my husband and my kids.
  • I also confess that I have loved fully, with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength, both the Lord and my family.
  • I have loved with the full capacity of my heart and then some, only through the redemptive love of Christ.
  • I’ve laughed at myself and surrendered many dreams.
  • I’ve created a home. A place of lasting memories for me, my husband and my kids.
  • I confess that I’m a goof, but my family loves me anyway.
  • Pride has been a battle and insecurity as well.
  • I love my dogs. I’ve raised chickens from eggs, gardened with my daughter, attended every high school play in the area for several years in a row, cooked mountains of taco meat and have smiled into the eyes of teenagers who were in pain and afraid.
  • I’ve prayed.
  • I’ve wept.
  • I’ve busted out laughing so hard I tt’ed my pants.
  • I’ve walked in lonely seasons and seasons of profound victory and grace.
  • I’m blessed to have lived the human experience with Jesus, my family and my friends, my eternal brothers and sisters.

These are my confessions today. What are yours? With all my love, Lynn


Men Stuff ... Part 2

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mage courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Ian here again. Firstly, thank you for your engagement in the first of this occasional series of posts. I loved seeing the discussion and responding to the comments that were made.

I hadn’t planned on writing another such post so soon but the universe conspired (ie the power of 3 made me sit up and take notice) to bring some thoughts to bear that I thought might serve as a useful discussion. Firstly, I was chatting with a couple of wise men last week and we were particularly discussing how men communicate. Secondly, we’re all aware of the #metoo dialogue that has had significant airplay over the past few months. I recently read a fascinating article written by a bloke who explored how this predatory side of men had evolved and finally, one of my favourite authors, Tim Winton (an Aussie National Treasure) released his latest novel that explores the “toxic state of masculinity”.

I’m going to try to stick to the topic of communication but there are so many contributing factors that play a part in impacting how we communicate (both men and women) that I may touch on some of them.

Who Made Us

I’ve always found it fascinating that we often generalize between genders by saying women are more naturally better communicators. And in my experience I’d say that is a reasonable truism. But what is interesting is we all have been made in the image of a very relational Triune God. It’s inherent in His nature. And we’ve been made in His image: a God who passionately loves to communicate with His creation. So why do so many men, well perhaps, more significantly women, struggle with how we blokes communicate?

Brevity

When I was in my twenties and married, my common response to the question “How was your day, dear?” was typically single worded: “Okay,” “Fine” or “Good.”

I’d head off to change and after doing that would be back and was now home and it was time to talk about something else. Sound familiar?

It frustrated my wife no end.

I was reminded of this when one of those wise men expressed the view that often men appear a little “numb” when it comes to expressing how they feel. And this drives our ladies crazy, as you want to get inside and understand the how and what your man thinks and feels.

Think with our Heads

Because of the way we’ve generally been raised we weren’t taught to share how we felt. Put aside all the bloke-ish ‘man up’, ‘boys don’t cry’ talk, we typically talked about what we saw, what we did, what we learnt, etc. Yes, we would often be asked “what we enjoyed” but once again we described it in terms of what we accomplished and such. So we may not have got to really discuss why we might be feeling happy or sad and what was behind those feelings.

Often our fathers had been raised through the same style of communicating. There has been a lack of good role modeling and mentoring for boys and young men, probably for generations, which has perpetrated the shaming language of boys don’t cry, don’t show fear and so on. So notions of gentleness, compassion and kindness (yes, yes, the fruits of the Spirit) have been labeled as soft traits that a strong man shouldn’t show.

This Winton novel I’m reading “The Shepherd’s Hut” provides a severe example of what happens to a young boy who is treated badly by an abusive father. He struggles to express himself well and as an escape has moments where he explodes because he isn’t sure how he should respond, doesn’t know what the right words are for how he is feeling and life for him is reflected by violence and ignorance.

Men mostly learnt to think with our heads. And emotions were something we experienced but would often struggle to understand why we were feeling a particular emotion at any point in time. It wasn’t important to us when we related with mates or work colleagues.

But it did become important when we started to get serious about a girl. However, we still would often lack the know how of how to express our feelings.

We get married and life goes on.

Interesting, I believe this cycle is changing as we see more and more younger men grappling with emotions a lot more these days for a variety of reasons, eg, more attentive fathers, family breakups. 

Remember the mission

Our work or purpose dominates us and even though we might be starving for deeper connection we simply keep on keeping on. With life. With our purpose. And admitting that we might need that deeper connection can be terrifying too. But we still relegate relationships behind our mission.

As discussed last time often it’s when something goes awry with our purpose/job that all of a sudden we begin to sense those pesky emotions.

What’s the Answer?

Interestedly, a post a couple of months ago now by Lynn’s hubby, Mike, provided tremendous insights. This statement particularly grabbed me: “Also, be intentional to understand who he is and what is important to him.” Listening, more than talking. (you've probably all heard the old “we’ve been given 2 ears and 1 mouth and that should reflect how we communicate”)

Something I’ve found is invaluable to a good marriage (and I’ve learnt from hard experience) is for both husband and wife to be actively interested in each other’s vocation. If it is the enemy then there will always be tension. Get engaged in talking about the people your bloke works with, some of the decisions he has to make and how he arrived at it. Allowing each other to de-brief at the end of a day is both soothing and practically helpful. My wife is working overseas at present but we make sure we talk on FaceTime twice a day to allow each of us to de-brief each other’s days. 

And pray. Pray some more. For great Christian men to come into your man’s life. We all need a Paul and a Timothy, a great mentor and someone we can take under our wing.

What about My Sons?

Allow them to hurt, to cry, to enjoy hugs from both mom and dad. Don’t shame them for expressing emotions. I heard Tim Winton speak two weeks ago and he said this beautiful thing about boys: they’re all born gentle and tender but somewhere along the way they lose that. Why?

One of the strongest impressions I have of Jesus is His gentleness. With Mary of Bethany, the woman caught in adultery, washing His disciples feet, allowing John to lounge on Him at the Last Supper. Jesus, is our Saviour and Lord but also our role model. He asks us everyday to “Come, follow Me.”

Sorry. I’ve gone on for too long even though there's so much more that could be said.

I do hope this has been of some use. I’m always a bit nervous about writing such posts as I can only share from my experience. And as always please do share what’s on your heart in the comments. 

Grace and peace, dear friends.


The Glorious Company

Easter 2012On this Monday morning following Easter, I feel as though I want to share a passage that is continually running in my soul right now. It’s the passage that Easter is leading me to comprehend. It is the message from the Holy Spirit to the church in this season.

THIS is our inheritance and expectation as a daughter or son…. Or Bride of the King of Kings.

It’s a complete, full circle, from where we started this journey with the Father asking the Israelite slaves, Will you marry me.

BEHOLD! Our destiny, BRIDE OF THE MOST HIGH GOD.

The Glorious Company

18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. —Hebrews 12:18-24

Hallelujah! AMEN!

SUMites, tell me about your Easter this year. Did your spouse attend church. Did you feel the love of Jesus. Did you pray and give Him thanks. Do you say, YES! I adore you, Lynn