4 posts categorized "Acceptance"

Belief vs Unbelief: The Power of Free Will

Hi friends, Ann here!Ingredients of belief

I've been thinking lately about the topic of belief vs. unbelief, and all the different spiritual ingredients that go into that. Like many of you, I have a mixture of believers and unbelievers in my life, and often look at those who don't believe and wonder what is going on there. 

There are quite a few things that lead to unbelief, as we know. The influence of the enemy is one thing. The perfect timing of God is another. But one all-important ingredient is, of course, that powerful force that God designed us to have: Free will!

Free will - Gah!

Being in a SUM, most of us will find free will a frustrating thing. Because it means our spouse has complete choice to accept or reject Jesus. But, in Genesis 1:26-31, God made humankind in his own image, then said it was ‘very good’. 'Very good' must include free will, I guess. These were not robots who would automatically submit mindlessly. Rather, they were beloved children with whom God wanted a relationship.

I think quite often about how powerful free will is. Especially as it relates to my husband. It is not only powerful, but beautiful. Probably like many of you, I have questions. After all, the work of God is often unfathomable. And that topic of free will – Oh, it intrigues me!

Here in the SUM community we have many readers, and I have a sneaky feeling that each of us would say it doesn't work when we impose our own will too strongly on our spouse when it comes to faith. We can be forceful about other things, but when it comes to welcoming Jesus in, our spouse's will is their own. There is something deeply spiritual about that.

So, we learn to not force it more than God would. Then God might eventually give us a good word to speak, in season.

On speaking a word in season, I got to do that recently - And I'll share the story now. It only happened after I had learned to shut my mouth. Yep, I tried unsuccessfully to ‘convert’ my husband for a number of years, only for it to fall flat. After all this, one day we were quietly together and I got a little God-nudge (I think): “Tell Bryce that faith is a matter of choice. He is going to have to make a choice -- Yes or no.”

“Oh crikey, Lord?” I said. “Do you really want me to step out and say this?” I was so used to things falling flat. Anyway, I took a deep breath, and here’s what I said:

“Babe, when you die, it’s actually really important that you have said ‘yes’ to God. Some people reject God, and when they get to eternity it’s not a good thing that they did. Please don’t be one of those people. It actually really matters to me to know that you’ve said yes, as far as you can.”

“Really?” he said.

“Yep. I don’t fully understand it. But it is where I’m sitting these days.”

“So, what does it look like to say ‘yes’ to God?” He said.

(At that I didn't even know where to begin. What should I say?!)

 “Um ... Well .... Perhaps start with saying ‘yes’, and God will do the rest!”

“Mm..” He said (both of us thinking). Then we lay in silence. Finally, he said: “I’m not rejecting anything, you know.”

And that was it. Um, my evangelism skills still need some refining (I'm laughing). But perhaps this was the SUM version of evangelism. Gently does it. Certainly, my husband didn’t seem to mind that I’d raised it. And that reaction tells me it probably was a Holy Spirit nudge.

What a powerful force free will is! I suppose that’s love: You can’t force somebody to fall in love with you; and so God does not. He woos, he draws, and he asks his disciples to help with this process, but in ways that might be customized. A word rightly seasoned, here and there.

So, that is one ingredient: Free will. Next time I’ll talk about another ingredient that goes into belief. I'm looking forward to it!

For now, any thoughts about today's topic? How far do you go when speaking about serious matters of faith with your spouse? We'll chat in the comments.


Our Coatings of Protection

Hi SUM family, Ann here. Coat

Last week I had a ‘moment’ in my SUM life, as we do, that turned into a good wisdom lesson for me, so I'm going to share it today. It was about God's protection.

I was reclining in my favorite armchair before bed one night, cocoa in hand, when something occurred to me and my face fell.

It was this: Recently I’ve developed a routine where, once dinner is in the oven at about 5 or 6pm, I go to my bedroom and pray for my family. That includes Bryce, and I’ve been praying various things for him with gusto. I like that new routine, it's a happy one; but on this day a thought struck:

“I would love it if it was the other way round. I'd love it if he prayed for me.”

Aggh, and that thought snowballed. I got thinking about the fact that a praying spouse would be a strong source of protection and I'm perhaps missing some kind of 'protective coat'. Or am I?

To be fair, my family has plenty of people praying for us. And actually, it's possible my husband prays more than I realize. His levels of belief have inched up lately, and I do believe there is a quiet blooming that I shouldn't be quick to disregard. But that evening I got tangled. I eventually went to bed, and the next morning the Lord seemed to want to correct my thinking. He said this to me:

Ann, go to the Bible and look at what coatings of protection you currently have.

I love it when God gives me something to explore, so the minute the boys left for school I made myself an enormous pot of coffee and rolled up my sleeves, ready to take a look at what it was he wanted me to see. 

My pen scribbled furiously that morning. I came up with quite a few forms of protection that I have, but here - listed below - are four of the key ones. And these apply to all of us SUMites. In fact, once I had finished working through that task I quickly realized that I had no need to fret whatsover. And I should leave my husband to go at his own pace when it comes to his own prayer life. Here, then, are some of the ways in which we are protected:

Layer of protection #1:

The shadow of Almighty God is so powerful we may as well be sitting under a nuclear bomb. If we make every effort to stay in that secret place, there's this:

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

“He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
 You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day.” (Psalm 91:1, 3, NKJV)

Layer of protection #2:

The blood of Jesus Christ is our source of victory. I imagine it sprinkled on our homes like the Israelites smeared lamb's blood on their doorposts.

"They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" (Revelation 12:11, NKJV)

Layer of protection #3:

Head to toe, we wear special spiritual armour at all times. This includes a helmet, a breastplate, a shield, a tool belt, and strong shoes (Ephesians 6). This keeps us safe and sound, and then we easily fight for our families.

Layer of protection #4:

The many prayers of other saints, past and present, is a force-field. This includes those who sowed seeds in times past, some in our ancestry, some who are now in the cloud of witnesses, and some who are currently shepherds to us -- And those shepherds who are in our lives know their authority and pray powerful prayers. All these prayers protect us and our homes from the enemy and plant faith seeds that will surely grow.

**

With these coatings of protection, then, we never need to worry about being victorious in our own lives. In turn, as fighters we are equipped to care for our families. And, of course, a big protective mechanism is this community, and its many prayers for each other. 

Friends, in that spirit, if you'd like prayer today, put a post in the comments, and we'll gather round you. In the meantime, here's to fewer and fewer of those wobbly 'moments'! 


Could This Be The Answer You've Been Waiting For?

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here!

I have worked for my employer for a little over three years now. I do the same thing all day everyday. Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. I see the same computer screen as I fingerprint the numerous people who come into my office. The other day Holy Spirit alerted me to listen and pay attention to people's reactions to seeing their fingerprints on the computer screen, many of them for the first time:

Wow, that is so cool!

I have never seen this before!

Sorry, I am just amazed by this!

Look at that!

Can you believe that we all have different finger prints? No two prints are the same!?

Was I looking at the same machine? It is cool to see the detail, I guess.....

There are some of us who have forgotten how to be in love with and romanced by our King. Groom help bride up sillouetteWe have been on this journey for a long time.  Our eyes have adjusted to the normalcy of life. We've braced for life's storms for too long that we've gone into self-preservation mode. We have forgotten what is like to have childlike faith. This isn't a rebuke but a call to see things from God's perspective. Be refreshed! Be renewed! Be invigorated again!

I felt a strong impression from our Daddy God to lavish you with love today. If anything today resonates with you, my challenge is for you to take it and meditate on it. Don't allow the familiar to blur your vision of God's great love relationship with you. Don't doubt that you aren't good enough to receive it. Don't think, "He must be talking to someone else..."  This word is for you...yes YOU!

I have loved you, [insert your name here], with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. (Jeremiah 31:3)

I will make you, [insert your name here], my wife forever,
showing you righteousness and justice,
unfailing love and compassion.
I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20)

My thoughts of you are countless for you are very precious to Me. (Psalm 139:17)

You can give me all of your worries and cares. They are not meant to be carried by you. I love you so much! (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22)

I am for you. You are my beloved and I am yours. (Song of Solomon 6:3)

I will give you everything that you need. You mean that much to me. (Romans 8:31)

There is nothing that can separate you from My love. (Romans 8:38-39)

I will rescue you. I will protect you. You can trust me. When you call on Me I am there. (Psalm 91)

One of my favorite things to do is watch over you as you sleep. (Psalm 3:5)

I will show you my goodness in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

I will never forsake you. I will never cast you off. (Psalm 94:14)

You are my masterpiece. My workmanship. I am so proud of you! (Ephesians 2:10)

You are my special treasure. You are so valuable to me! (Exodus 19:5, 1 Peter 2:9)

There is so much more that I could share. Every word in the Bible is dripping with His sweet love for you.

Beloved, stop striving. Stop trying to meet unattainable expectations of yourself...they're not from Him. Daddy God is so pleased with you. He delights in you so much that He breaks out in song over you. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I want to wrap up with this song. This is one to sit and soak in the love of your Daddy.

Let's share in the comments - sometimes life gives us a hard beating! What are some things that you do in order to remember the love God has for you? What are some things we can share with one another to fan the flames of our heart and fill us with hope? What keeps you standing firm and grounded in your relationship with Daddy God, Jesus and Holy Spirit?


Because of the Manger. This One is BIG

Joseph & Jesus

I’ve been reading the Christmas story in the Gospels the past two weeks. My time in the Word has been utterly revelatory. Father, God has been speaking to me in His kind voice and uncovering treasures of the Christmas story that I didn’t even know were there. Such was the post from Friday about Zechariah.

After having my mind blow up over Zechariah, God led me to read through the first chapter of Matthew. That’s when my eyes were drawn over and over to this heading:

Joseph accepts Jesus

 

Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

On the surface, nothing is noteworthy to most. However, for me. I was drawn over and over to the implications of this heading and then the passage that followed. And that’s because, in my Healing Prayer sessions, over and over again, I pray with believers to restore their voice.

So much of human misery is cloaked in lost identity, the result of rejection. This passage in Matthew 1:18-25 is about this very issue. This is the telling of Joseph’s tremendous struggle, which until today, I've never considered the enormity of what is happening here. As I read, I pondered. Why would God include the story in the Bible about Joseph’s struggle to accept an illegitimate child?

Joseph’s story is the story of humanity. We are all illegitimate. Born into a world that is harsh, unkind, brutal. And we find ourselves far away from our Father in heaven. As I mentioned, in nearly every prayer session, I help believers discover when and how their voice and identity was taken and then gently lead them through healing from a deep soul wound of voicelessness and rejection. It grieves me that many people live decades under words of pain, most often inflicted by a parent. And my friends, this is at the core of tremendous wounding in men! Most men are desperate to be accepted by their Father. 

I guess that explains why I was drawn to the words: Joseph ACCEPTS Jesus as his son. I can’t tell you how many people long for the same. We LONG for acceptance by others of our authentic self. 

I’m convinced that our good Father purposed this passage as a blueprint for family.

This man, Joseph legally and religiously was entitled, as well as expected, to walk away from Mary and the baby. Remember, Joe had already determined to divorce her. In ancient Hebrew culture, an engagement is the beginning of a marriage contract. They were considered married, yet unconsummated. As I think about Joseph, I see this play out day after day in our modern society.

Joseph was unwilling to face the shaming, the rejection of his own family (usually a controlling mother or harsh father) nor the disgrace of a marriage to a perceived “stained woman” some would say – a whore. How often are marriages doomed because of parental shaming, ignorance, misguided expectations.... the list is endless. 

Yet in a dream. A DREAM, no less! (Side note: I wonder how many times God has told us to do the right thing or answered our prayers and we didn’t recognize it was Him because He communicated in a way we refused to validate????)

Back to the dream: A nighttime visitation. The Lord said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

Upon reading this verse, revelation then began to emerge in my mind. My dear friends, this passage is in the Word for all of us. It’s the LORD speaking. This is also our “Dream from the Lord” written in antiquity for all generations of believers.

ACCEPTANCE!

Joseph accepted wholeheartedly the enormous, life-long task of raising a child that was not his own. He willingly and with gravity, accepted the mandate upon his life to love and protect someone that society said he should reject. Isn’t this similar to our lifelong mandate in our SUM marriages? Hmmmmmm

May I ask you a question as we ponder this underlying wisdom within the Christmas story? Who is God asking you to accept? Is it a step-child? If so, decide today to no longer call that child (step) but embrace that child as son, daughter. Decide to never say the word, step, again to them or in their presence. 

Is the Lord asking you to accept and “see” the broken, the angry, those crying inside, the vulgar, the sinner, yourself?

Have you accepted who you really are? Is the LORD calling out to you, “You are Worthy of love. You are worthy to be protected. You are worthy to be cherished and nurtured.”

Forgive those who rejected the “real” you. Ask for help if needed. Fully forgive and let go of the bitterness that holds you in chains of regret and anger.

This profound story in the telling of the birth of Christ, resonates throughout the centuries and remains vitally powerful today.

Listen as our Father speaks with tenderness and truth in His voice, “I love you. I accept you just as you are. You are already perfect to Me. My favorite things about you is your quirkiness, your weaknesses, your tender heart and all the things about you that others criticized. I love YOU!”

Let’s ask the Lord a question on this day in December. Ready?

Jesus, who do I need to accept?

What did you hear?

Now let’s ask this: Jesus, how do you want me to proceed to show love and acceptance to this person(s)? Jesus, how do you want me to show love to myself?

The road to Bethlehem is filled with lessons of love and God’s wisdom. Walk we me a bit further. By December 25th it’s possible that we will have walked into a new season of powerful awareness, freedom, and healing.

And isn’t that what the birth of Jesus is all about?

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com

Share in the comments if you are able, the name you need to forgive/accept. I will pray with you.