When I was 19, I was at University in Texas. My parents, who were in England, sent me money from home: "Go and buy a Bible, our gift," they said.
So I did. I chose a beautiful leather-bound New King James Bible in a box.
Well, that box sat mostly unopened for the next nineteen years. But now I'm now going to fast-forward to myself as a 38-year old agnostic, living in New Zealand:
I had met Bryce in Texas shortly after buying that Bible, and moved to New Zealand, his homeland. The Bible moved with me. And one day while my two children were at school, in my house in Auckland I knelt down beside a cupboard to retrieve that precious box.
A golden moment!
Setting the box on my bed, I peeled back its lid and withdrew the treasure within. I ran my hand over the red-brown leather, fingering the gold leafed pages. Would I find the Bible to be supernatural, or the hand of man?
And so I carried it over to an armchair, settled in and started to read. The house was peaceful. Genesis 1:1 'In the beginning...'
Well, once I opened that book, I can tell you, something happened to me. All the way through the laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy I read with fascination. The minor prophets felt like gripping page-turners. I realized there was a man called Paul who wrote much of the New Testament -- who knew? And by the time I reached Revelation 22, I sat back and closed its pages. "WOW", was my reaction.
That first time through I googled as I read. For example, I looked up the historicity of every king in Kings and Chronicles. The empires in the book of Daniel, I googled. I asked God questions throughout, sticking those questions on post-it notes into the Bible. My mind and heart were hungry. It was a highly personal experience.
And needless to say, by the fact I'm writing this, it's clear that I decided the Bible was supernatural. After that, it became my daily food.
Now I'm going to fast-forward to 2022:
I rise with bleary eyes, throw on a robe and brew a cup of tea. I grab Bible, ruler and pen, and carry all that 'equipment' to my bed. I prop the pillow up, throw myself back into bed and read, luxuriously. I underline things and write prayers, thoughts and questions in the margin.
Bryce potters in the kitchen or gets dressed while I'm reading.
After that, the Bible and I move into the main area of the house, where I carry on reading, this time with the boys pottering around me, getting ready for school.
And then after they've gone and the house is peaceful, I read a little more.
How do I do it now? I read all sixty-six books of the Bible in no particular order, and tick off every book once I've read it so that I give all the books attention. I say to God, 'which book shall I read next?' and then I dive in, letting it speak to me. I've just finished Judges, and then jumped into Philippians today.
Why do I read all of it rather than just the New Testament? I feel that the whole thing is God's love letter to humanity. What's more, the Old Testament tells me just as many valuable things as the New Testament does about how God works with people, and about Jesus.
I write lots of questions for God as I read, but I don't mind mystery either.
And what I love is that the Bible I bought all those years ago was so fit for purpose -- God knew exactly what I'd need and like. It has wide margins for all my questions, and references to show where the same word or idea is found in other verses. I use those references daily, looking up linkages across the Bible and seeing how the different parts link to each other.
Wow... I could write so much more, but my word count's up. Funnily, I wrote this before I read Ian's post on Wednesday, and it delighted me to read his version. Amanda is next -- I can't wait to see her take on it.
In the meantime, have our two posts so far brought anything to mind for you? Share away in the comments!
Hello, Ian here. Fiona and I planted a lemon tree two or three years ago. And this year, we discovered we had some fruit, tiny green lemons. The yellow comes later. Gradually they grew a bit more each day, week and month. And then the colour began to change from green to yellow. That took months too.
Recently we picked them. Almost fully yellow lemons. We juiced the first one and it was nice and tart as a good lemon should be.
Productivity and Fruitfulness
We live in a world where achievement is highly recognised and rewarded. From an early age we are encouraged to be better, do better and achieve much in whatever field we choose to follow. It’s very hard for us to get away from wanting to keep up with the joneses. Even in things like our marriages and our children, it is very easy for us to compare ourselves and want to achieve great success in our marriage, the be the best wife or husband and for our kids to be the star student, athlete, and cheerleader. As parents, we can be exhausted simply meeting the demands of all the extra-curricular activities we take our kids to after school and on weekends.
The world and often the church tells us this is the best life. When we’re being highly productive and achieving much whether in secular activities or within the church.
Remember, Jesus invites us to take His ‘easy yoke’, to settle into His ‘unforced rhythms of grace’ (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG). Also, the image of Mary resting at the feet of Jesus as her sister Martha keeps busy preparing the sumptuous meal for the gathering. Jesus invites us to abide, to intentionally choose to hang out with Him, in such a way that we discover how to be conscious of His presence throughout a day.
Jesus is less interested in our productivity as it is all about what we’re doing. On the other hand, He hopes in us choosing to abide with Him and discovering how to do life with that ‘easy yoke’, we will become fruitful. Fruitfulness is all about who we are becoming.
We Become what We Do!
We are creatures of habit and daily rhythms, even if they’re highly structured/planned or completely disorganised. We become what we do. Our soul is being fed all the time by what we behold and what we do. That’s why there are so many books on understanding how habits and the disciplines that consume our day.
Jesus doesn’t ask us to bear fruit. The fruit will come because of sticking with Jesus. This is the crux of the vine/branch analogy of John 15:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5 NIV UK)
We bear fruit because we abide.
It Takes Time
Lemons take a lot of time before being ready to pick and juice. Bearing fruit takes time too. We’ve got to be prepared to hang out with Jesus. He will feed us with everything we need to bear fruit. Just like the lemons needed to hang on the branch for a couple of years. If they dropped off too quickly, they wouldn’t have grown or become juicy or tart.
Be patient. We will become the ripe lemon only if we continue to stay with Jesus.
Extend grace to yourself. Don’t rush it. It’s not like we can take a pill and suddenly be a great lemon full of juice. Jesus’s way is gentle. That’s the easy yoke. Like the growth of a lemon, it comes from the inside and is reflected in the peace, love, joy, kindness, goodness, patience and self-control we begin to experience. Similarly, our loved ones and others will see the fruit in us too.
I thought I’d leave us with this very apt quote from C.S. Lewis:
“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol [and now diesel and electricity], and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself.”
It’s been fun this past week thinking about the different factors that go into belief vs unbelief. Thanks for reading along, and for your comments -- Reading what you had to say was like iron-sharpening-iron!
I know theologians write about deep matters like predestination and free will. But for us SUMites, we live out those questions every day and our view will be home-spun. We tend to do a very personal analysis right in our home, asking: “What is going on here, Lord?” After all, we desperately want to understand our spouse’s story.
From writing about it this past week I am left with one main thought, which is a little humbling:
O the deepness of the riches, both of the wisdom, and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33, GNV)
Yep, much of it is unfathomable. In some ways that helps me sit back and rest a little. If, for example, the spiritual mismatch in my own marriage has an element of God's timing attached to it, then who am I to complain. Alternatively, if the reason for my family's unbelief is that the demonic realm is trying to thwart our faith lives, then my attitude can be: "Ok, Lord, teach me to see it and to fight."
Overall, knowing that our loved ones have free will but the demonic has a role, and (importantly) the Father has some kind of clock or plan, here is a final prayer for us today as we finish this mini-series:
Lord God. We know You are sovereign and we know You are good.
We know You have a book written about our lives. From this day forward help us to align our own feet with the book you have written for us.
Teach us how to fight the enemy for the freedom of our spouse.
Teach us how to fight the enemy for our own freedom.
Show us how to walk in a way that respects our spouse’s free will but brings them the truth You want them to know.
And please keep speaking to us, the SUM community!
In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray this. Amen.
My friends, that's all for now, and I'm praying about what to write next. I hope you are managing to keep marching and are keeping well out there.
We’ve been talking about the ingredients that go into belief vs. unbelief. In part one we talked about the power of free will. Then, in part two we talked about the influence of the demonic.
Well, today I want to talk about the Father's Grand Clock. That is, the fact that God might have specific times for specific things to happen.
When I think about my husband, for example, even though I know free will is huge I often wonder this:
Is there a set time when his eyes are destined to be opened?
Perhaps the reason I ask that is that I feel my own conversion had an element of timing to it. I also know that it is Jesus's role to open people's eyes. The Gospels show that over and over again -- That is one of Jesus's main things he did: Open people's eyes. Physically, yes, but it seems to be a spiritual parable.
It's possible my husband’s heart is ready, but God is keeping his eyes closed for some reason. One of those reasons could be the hefty amount of improvement God needs to do on me. Amen to that, if so!
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:2-8, NKJV)
IIn that passage there’s one phrase that seems absent in the above list: A time for a person to declare that Jesus is Lord! So I ask God, 'Where is that in this passage?' Is there a specific time for someone to believe? A time to be born again, perhaps?
Mm.. It's a teeny bit mysterious, but here's a thought:
Throughout the Bible, people have ‘moments’ in their lives where God moves them, changes them. Mostly, these are 'upgrade' moments like Paul’s flash of light on the Road to Damascus; but, there are some dark moments, such as Pharoah having a hard heart, which scripture says was part of God’s purpose (in the scripture below). Sometimes God will allow somebody to be hardened for a season for the more glorious story. Gulp.
Here's what the apostle Paul said about this:
For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." So then, it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to this Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." Therefore, He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.“ (Romans 9:15-18, NKJV)
There are days fashioned for us, as Psalm 139:16 says. A book written in Heaven about our life. And yet, and yet, and yet: The free will – the heart -- of a person interacts with that book, those days, those plans. As does the enemy.
All of this perhaps reiterates what a mystery conversion is. Yes, our spouses do not believe as strongly as we do. But this is a marathon, not a sprint. Praise God for the Holy Spirit's role in any changes we see. Our journey towards belief as couples involves us all breaking out of demonic strongholds as adults -- And somehow it must intertwine with some kind of purpose on God's part.
What a ride!
Lord, we praise you for your perfect timing, plans and purposes!
Do you see plans, timing and purpose in your own life? Any thoughts on this topic? We'll chat in the comments.
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.
We can walk through this SUM path feeling weary, right? But there are moments where God brings us a surprise gift to cheer us up. Today I want to encourage you with a little story: It's about the day I discovered Bryce’s favorite friend had unexpectedly become Christian. If you need a boost I hope you enjoy this one!
Now, this guy was unusual in that I never would have imagined it. Not because he was off the rails. I just wouldn't have picked it. I’ll call him David.
Bryce and I were friends with Dave in our early twenties. He was one who lived life hedonistically and he became unusually successful in the business world. He is very funny, with a dry wit that my Bryce particularly enjoys. Over the years the two of them would laugh their way across the golf course, squash court and pub.
Eventually, he moved away. Then, a spiritual earthquake hit our home: I turned to follow Jesus, Bryce wasn't thrilled, and our spiritually-mismatched situation began. Aggh! In those years, I desperately craved Christian friends but had few. It was in this miserable condition that God landed me with a surprise: Dave had converted.
I found out on the day of Dave’s mum’s funeral. His mother was a lovely Christian, and we set out that sunny morning to farewell her. Dave lived in another country by then but had come home to nurse his Mum; and now on this day he gave her an honoring eulogy. He took to the podium and in true form had us even laughing at points with his humor, but then I nearly fell off my seat at what came next:
“I know I will see Mum again because she is in the arms of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour. And that is all that matters.”
My wide eyes followed Dave as he left the podium and sat back down, head heavy. I watched the back of his head, curiously, wondering about what I’d just heard.
Later, Bryce and I stood opposite Dave and his wife, cups of coffee in hand. The conversation was light and warm, but suddenly Dave cut across us with a strange focus in his eyes: “Ann, are you still reading the Bible?” My eyebrows raised, and I was just about to answer when Bryce spoke for me: “Yes she IS! She certainly is!” He followed this by saying: “And she can’t put it down.” Perfectly cheerful, he was, biting into a sandwich. Given our tension about faith I was pleasantly surprised, even by that. Dave’s eyes stayed on mine and he said quietly: “I’m so happy about that, Ann.”
There was no opportunity to say more. But did I possibly have a friend there in Dave?
After that, I so wanted to text him. I badly wanted to know more. What's more, I wanted to text him to say ‘Can you convert my husband please?’ (I’m laughing). But no. I didn’t. I left him be.
It was months before we saw Dave again. There at a dinner table one evening he shared his conversion, his wife by his side chiming in just like Bryce did at the funeral. Bryce and I sat listening. We talked about church. Dave’s wife piped up at that point: ‘I hate going to church!’ I cast her a sideways glance and thought ‘Ok, I know all about that.’ Clearly they had the exact same dynamic as us. And hard as it was for Dave it made me feel a bit better. I guess I saw it was a normal outworking of this difficult situation.
Since then, Dave and I have snatched the odd faith conversation. He moves in a friendship group that is entirely non-Christian; and in his professional life he is a rare believer. It is not easy being an adult convert: You end up being lonely in your social world. But I look at his conversion story and know he will make a difference to his wife, colleagues and friends. It's easier to see that bigger picture in someone else's life than it is in your own.
As for Bryce, well, it's all part of God's planning. I imagine the two of them walking across the golf course or at the pub sharing their faith as friends someday. Wouldn't that be interesting? For now, I just enjoy it as the gift that I know will keep on giving.
SUMers, I could write for days about 1 Samuel, chapter 25. Whoa. There is so much in here. So, get a cup, sit down, strap in, and hold on as we jump in and learn from God’s Word. Hallelujah!
PLEASE go read the chapter, click here for the NIV version. I’m going to be teaching from the NIV as well as the One New Man Bible which is a direct rendering from the Hebrew. Ahhhhh, we are granted a rich and deeper understanding when we look at the original language.
The setting: The books of Samuel are a history of the Priesthood in Israel and the Kings of Israel. It’s the telling of how the people of God left Him as their King and turned to an earthly King. Samuel means heard of God. This was because his mother prayed for a baby and God heard her. Read that story, it’s awesome as well.
Let’s start with the couple we will be reading about today:
Nabal: The Greek meaning from the NIV, fool. Ah, yep we knew it *grin*. Hebrew: Naval, means mean, base, vile, unbeliever. (Whoa, didn’t know that. So interesting.)
Abigail: NIV describes her as an intelligent and beautiful woman. But I LOVE the Hebrew rendering of her name, Avigayil means, My Father rejoices exuberantly. And she is described as a woman of good understanding and beautiful countenance. There is a striking difference here, in that the Hebrew describes her spirit and the Greek describes her physically. Interesting. Personally, I believe her countenance is what provided her with tremendous influence and also favor with God. Her favor with God brought her great understanding and wisdom.
David: In this portion of the story David is an outlaw. Truly, he is being hunted by the King, Saul, who has been abandoned by God. What I find fascinating about David is that he led a band of marauders who ransacked entire towns, killing the people and taking all the spoils. Say WHAT??????
Does that bother anyone else?
Well, let’s add to the understanding. Most of the people of Israel know David. Remember the army watched this 12 year-old-boy defeat the Philistines as David slew Goliath. They knew Samuel anointed him to be King. They knew of his exploits in battle to defeat the enemies of the Crown. And this is all in line with God’s purpose and plans. God still intended Israel to cleanse the Promised Land of the filth of the nations who practiced divination, idol worship, and who sacrificed their own children in the fire to Molech. And if you know anything about this practice, it’s absolutely revolting. Trust me on this.
So, David’s ransacking may not have been an evil in the eyes of God. ---- Doesn’t the Bible really mess with your head?---- That’s a good thing.
Another note I find fascinating is that Nabal is described as a mean, vile, and an unbeliever with whom no one can reason. Wow, I wonder how many of us know people like that??? And in this scenario in 1 Samuel 25 he is living up to his reputation. I wonder, however, how many of us would reject helping someone because a person was an outcast of society, a law breaker, an intentional defiler of all that we adhere to? Dang, I like to ask the challenging questions. *grin*
An overall summary of this passage is David protected Nabal’s men while they shepherded the flocks during the summer. Come fall and harvest, David needed provisions and naturally assumed he would be rewarded for his service. Nabal said, “No way. I’m not giving anything to a gang of fugitives.” Even though he knew David was anointed the next King and was likely aware that he protected his men and possessions.
At the core here is absolute arrogance and greed. And likely a lifetime of little repentance, consequence, nor love for others. People of great wealth rarely face consequence. It's a travesty that leads many of wealth into a poverty of soul.
God is so patient. Even waiting for a man like Nabal to experience a change of heart. Even giving to him a wise and beautiful wife and a life of comfort. The truth surrounded Nabal each and every day. He chose to ignore the truth: David will be King and this future King had protected his possessions and servants. Nabal was selfish and felt untouchable. What is fascinating about this scenario, Nabal was going to die either way.
Now it’s easy to go down this road that my spouse looks like Nabal. Don’t do it. Most of us are married to good men and women who are honorable and love us. Even if we might think they could do a better job of it.
What the real story in the chapter is all about is Abigail. And I can’t wait to talk with you about this woman.
Okay, did I mess with your head looking into the introduction of this story? I hope so, *grin*. What do you think about the Nabal? Why is the Lord sharing so much of this man’s character, his name, his behavior? I really want to hear your opinions. There is wisdom in here. Let Jesus show you. And I’ll see you in the comments. And I can’t wait to chat about Abigail next time.
I sense a profound stirring in the atmosphere – the angelic whispers in expectation, preparation. The compelling knowing of God is turning the page in this moment of history. His voice, deep with pride and powerful determination:
It is time for the men to arise!
My sons of My Kingdom, your destiny awaits. I will delay no longer, that which I now establish and return to you, your honor. I will recognize your wisdom, quiet strength, integrity, and righteousness.
Far too long, the men of earth have been assaulted, stifled with heavy burdens. They carry tremendous responsibility as they shoulder profound responsibility; family, workplace demands, the fulfillment of their commitments, small and large. My Sons face shamming in the public square and are minimized because of the wicked. They pray in the midnight hour, a solemn tear escapes. They beseech and bring Me their worries, placed before the Mercy Seat; their marriage, their beloved children and pleading for wisdom and relief from the debts and financial perils they face.
Silently and yet with stubborn constitution, My Sons determine themselves to stand up straight and carry the lives of those they love upon his chest, within his heart.
To My Sons, I behold your fortitude, your courage. The battle deepens with greater intensity and the provocative surrounding, is palpable. But I AM moving, and I AM on the move. I AM restoring eroded positions and long forgotten destines. I AM returning the stolen peace to your heart and supplying warriors from the heavens to shore up your finances, strengthen your marriage, and fortify your homeland.
Determination is My scepter. It is raised to extinguish the word curses spinning across the airwaves that have shackled My Beloved in anxiety and inaction. Today I release this great company of the masculine to dream again. I bestow their freedom to laugh with delight, play in enthusiasm, love with passion and reflect My glory.
Arise Kingdom Sons! The time grows short. Gather the families, walk in My truths. Bring in the lost and forsaken. Forgive freely and love with all your might.
Sunday, September 29th is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. We've talked about this Jewish holiday over the years. In fact, the first time I'd ever been made aware of it's significance was because of a blog post from either Lynn or Dineen. For those who are not familiar or are new to this holiday, a simple "Rosh Hashanah" search on this site will provide you with a wealth of information. Feel free to check out the archives!
My prayer for us today is that we will each take away something fresh and new. Holy Spirit, reveal to us the heartbeat of God. Amen!
Rosh Hashanah isn't actually a biblical holiday but a traditional Jewish holiday. The term "Rosh Hashanah" means "head of the year" and is celebrated as the Jewish New Year. This is a two-day celebration that proceeds Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
In the beginning of this month, the Lord really pressed upon me to watch Patty Tower's talk that was given at the SUMite Summit this last April. I decided to go back and watch it again. (I will provide a link below so you can revisit that as well. It is absolutely worth a re-watch!)
As I sat down to think about Rosh Hashanah and what I would include in this post, I went back to my notes from Patty's message. There is so much good in this message but I want to point out one theme:
Joshua 6 - God gives specific instructions about the destruction and taking of the city of Jericho. In verse 20 we see the result of following God's plan and not their own: "So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city."
Patty called us to march around our house 7 times and shout, declare, pray and praise things into existence. It was in the great shout that the walls fell flat down.
Rosh Hashanah isn't in the Bible; however, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, is. Let's take a look.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ ” - Leviticus 23:23-25
The Hebrew word, Teruah, in Leviticus for blowing trumpets is the same word used in Joshua 6 where they shouted with a great shout. The first day of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, is a day of blowing trumpets or shouting.
Notice what else it says in Leviticus about this day - you shall have a sabbath-rest. Yom Teruah happens to fall on a Sunday. The day we, as children of God, call our sabbath!
So, why is this important for us? If we are not Jewish, what is the point of celebrating this time of year?
We've already seen in our community some amazing things worth celebrating. Many professions of faith and baptisms with our spouses, children or others we love. Libby gave us a beautiful word about the SUMite community with her picture of the mountain. The SUMite Summit where some gathered in California being at the top and from that trickle, the waters of our faith continued to pool together to create a river at the bottom.
I truly believe something was activated in the heavenlies and we have set off a chain reaction. The enemy has been stirred to anger and we have seen much push back from illness, discord with our spouses and children, financial struggles, backsliding, strongholds etc.
However, I truly believe that God is calling His children deeper. I believe that He is stirring in us a hunger and thirst that can no longer be quenched by fear, pain or opposition tactics from the enemy. I believe that NOW is the time for us to press in all the more into the God of Miracles. NOW is the time to storm the gates of Heaven for our spouses, children, our complete freedom and healing. I believe that NOW is the time for us to suit up and prepare for battle.
There is a shifting going on right now. As we are in this transition period, it is up to US if we are going to take God at His word - for our destinies, purposes, signs, miracles and wonders. We cannot afford to give up or give in. The future of generations to come hangs in the balance. It sounds intense but don't worry! Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
There is so much more I could say but I've gone on a little long.
As we approach this Jewish New Year, what are the things you are coming to the Throne of Grace for? What do you hope to see in this new season?
Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! -- Psalm 47:1 (Shout here is the root word of teruah ::grin::)
We are going to shake the heavens and the earth with our shouts! In the comments, give a mighty shout to the Lord. Thank Him for the victory you've been praying and waiting for! Decree and declare that these prayers are answered in Jesus' mighty name! Now it is up to you to take Him at His word. Trust. Believe. Wait and see. God is so good. And He is worthy of the wait. Hugs!
“Come to my prayer group!” a lady sidled up to me one day at church, eyeing me closely. It was early in my faith and I had questions. I’d been attending for weeks but still couldn’t help wondering if Christians were nuts to believe. Hers was an invite I decided to accept: She was a lawyer, had a gentle manner, and I figured if anyone was likely to NOT be nuts, it would be her.
So, I duly turned up one evening at a suburban house and rang the doorbell. She and a friend welcomed me in. The friend was a doctor. “Fantastic, another sensible one!” I thought.
I know now that it matters not whether we’re butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, but at that point it helped that these ‘sensible’ women were Christian.
Sensible? Well … um … I got the shock of my life that evening. Unbeknownst to me, these women’s careers were only a disguise: Their real identities were Daughters of God and they knew it. They were a pair of gems. They were also something else: SUMites. Both were pioneering faith in their marriages.
That night, I got to see two warriors up close. They didn’t do anything toooo crazy, but there was a range of high-action stories that involved the Kingdom of Heaven being ‘at hand’. I was barely ready to hear it, it challenged me. But, they surrounded me and prayed their hearts out for me.
Later, I had a spinning mind as I lay in bed thinking about these two. I was contemplating how radical they seemed when I felt God whisper a word:
“Their lives warm the soil.”
“Warm the soil?” I wondered. "Yes", He seemed to say. “They warm the soil of the hearts around them”.
What a thought. It led me straight to the parable of the sower:
“A farmer went out to sow seeds for a harvest. As he scattered his seed, some of it fell on the hard pathway and was quickly trampled down and unable to grow and became nothing but bird seed. Some fell on the gravel, and though it sprouted it couldn’t take root; it withered for lack of moisture. Other seed fell where there was nothing but weeds. It too was unable to grow to full maturity, for it was choked out by the weeds. Yet some of the seed fell into good, fertile soil, and it grew and flourished until it produced more than a hundredfold harvest, a bumper crop.” Luke 8:4-8 (TPT)
That parable tells us that hearts (the soil) often don’t receive the gospel (the seed), or they might abort it after some time. Other hearts receive the gospel and grow good things. But what’s the significance of warmth? Well, I looked it up: When soil is warm, plants grow quicker and receive more water and nutrients. Yes, a human heart has to be ready, but if it’s warm it’s going to be even better -- accelerated.
Like these two ladies, could it be that our own lives warm our spouse’s heart for its best possible bumper crop? I’m picturing it: I’ve made choices to love but also to persevere with faith; I’ve fought to attend church but I’ve listened to his feelings. When viewed in its entirety, will it warm his heart? ‘Warm’ might not mean my husband feels happy and comfy; rather, it might mean that his heart is being made as ready to carry the gospel as it can possibly be.
Last weekend I gave my testimony at an event. My husband wasn’t thrilled about me leaving him that Saturday, and I felt wobbly. At the same time, I did it because sometimes you have to share. It was yet another tough choice. Uggh.
At the end, a lady came to me. Emotional, she spoke of a couple she knew. It took years for the husband to accept Christ but when he did he told his wife "It was because of the way you lived your life."
There are many testimonies of people whose lives have warmed the soil of their spouse, just like the two sensible-yet-radical women I met years ago, as well as the one I heard of last Saturday. Today, then, I speak this promise here, because I do believe it: SUM family, OUR lives warm the soil.
Can you see it in your own life, or can you see that it will happen in due course? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
I want to release another testimony of a husband baptized. Susan Loyless sent me an email a few weeks ago and her husband went into the water!
Susan wrote me:
It got bad before it got better. In January, the elders of our church prayed for my husband in unity. I felt like we were so close to a breakthrough.
Within a few days, my husband took the kids and left me. I was not welcome in my own home. During that time, the Lord impressed on my heart....is there any place my arm cannot reach?
A few months later, my husband confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and the baptismal waters were stirred.
I love you dearly....praying for grace, favor, blessing and rest.
I also know that Tina U. shared that her husband also was baptized back in March.
Something in the water, Warriors.......
For all of you still marching along, my friend Shayla will be leading a study of, Winning Him Without Words, in May. To join that study on Facebook, at Shayla Ortiz. And if you need a book, click here and order. A small portion is sent to the ministry to further our outreach to spouses who are unequally yoked.
To write the title of this post, brings tears. I've waited since I began this blog in 2006 to write this very post.
So with intentional honor to our Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit, today let me share my news, officially. Please hear me first, THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME. This moment was a lifetime of love of God for my husband. And I’m trying to remain low-key about it all. I’m allowing my husband to walk into this new season and let him take his time and find his own way forward in faith. And I’m still really processing.
But for me, my I give all honor and glory to our Lord. He has been faithful.
On March 14, 2019, on our 27th wedding anniversary, my husband, Mike, was baptized and made his confession of faith in Jesus Christ.
In the last seven years I have learned how to battle effectively for this moment. And I am working on how and when to share it all with you. There is much to learn, however, you can walk this path also. But for today, allow me to fully focus on giving high praise to our Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.
I love you Father. Jesus you are my everything. Holy Spirit I’m lost in your love. AMEN
I’m at another conference so I won’t be posting again until Good Friday. Thank you for walking this journey with me. I couldn't have done it with out all of you!
I pray that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love gathering with family, eating fantastic food and reflecting on all of the favor, mercy, and goodness of Daddy that has happened for the year.
As I was thinking last week about what Holy Spirit wanted me to share, I fingerprinted a man with a business logo on his sweatshirt that said "Stillwater." This prompted me to look up "still water" in the Bible. The main passage that came to mind was in Psalm 23:
1 The Lordis my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside thestill waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Reading this familiar passage again I was shocked to see verse 5, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..." I had completely forgotten that this verse was in this Psalm.
That is when Holy Spirit brought to my mind the song Surrounded (Fight My Battles) by Elyssa Smith from UPPERROOM. Forgive me if I've shared this song before. I love it so much. My favorite verses in this song say, "my weapons are praise and thanksgiving, this is how I fight my battles"
I have been seeing Psalm 23 all over the place since I first saw this man's sweatshirt. I know that of the Psalms, this one is so common and well known even in the secular world; however, this particular passage has not been on my radar for quite some time. Each and every time I am seeing a reference to Psalm 23 there is a different verse that is being highlighted. I think I need to dwell here for a while! I was inspired so much so that I committed this passage to memory. This is a first for me to memorize an entire passage. Woot!
I think with all of the apparent darkness and chaos going on in our community (illness, death, financial struggle, marriage breakdown, depression, chronic pain, etc) and in the world today I want us to meditate on this phrase, "I am beginning to see the darkness around me is just the shadow of Your wings." *Note: this is not my phrase, this gets me every time I listen to this song...SO SO GOOD.*
5 God has gone up with a shout, The Lord with the sound of a trumpet. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 7 For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding. (Psalm 47)
Please know that our Daddy is surrounding you with His love, presence, favor, mercy, and grace. I know we all know this but may we truly rejoice and sing praises with understanding! Understand your are highly favored. Understand you are loved. Understand you are cherished. Understand in your weakness He is strong. Understand that even in the toughest time of your life He is in control. Understand you are seated with Christ Jesus. Understand you have authority. Understand you are the victor. Understand it. Is. Finished!
Let us lift our voices in one accord today:
I don't know about you the Lord uses songs to get me through the darkest days. Share in the comments some songs that see you through tough times. Your suggestions could be healing salve and oil of joy to another. I love you SUM family.
From our archives, articles which remain relevant for the spiritually mismatched marriage.
This post is part III in this series. Click on Part I and Part II to read the precursors to this article. This was originally posted on April 20, 2012.
Unequally Yoked and the Atheist Blogs
A few months ago I was emailing back and forth to a friend of mine whose husband is a reader of atheist blogs. She was in such pain and in a quandary as to how to cope. Now I don’t pretend to have all the answers for each individual situation. I can only share what has worked in my life and marriage.
Let me say that I love this young mom and wife. She is in the midst of fiery battles daily and is yet living for Jesus under tremendous persecution from her own spouse. And to add to the dynamics of her situation is how she is hard-wired, she hates confrontation. Many of us would go to great lengths to avoid confronting anyone let alone our spouse who holds a great deal of power to hurt us.
I shared with my friend that there comes a time when we must say to our spouse that we are partners in marriage. That what our spouse believes does not diminish what we hold true. It’s appropriate to call them out and ask for our due respect as a spouse and a partner in the relationship. We must stand up and tell them that the words they speak against our faith are disrespectful and truly not what builds a marriage relationship. I know I advised her to tell her husband that she expected him to refrain from speaking about her faith and promise him that she would do the same about his atheist beliefs.
Okay, that’s one take. For me, my moment of truth came unexpectedly. It was many years ago and I remember it clearly still today.
My husband was angry. He was so riled up about my growing faith that he was constantly throwing arguments up for me to discount or contradict. He told me that I was foolish and that my faith embarrassed him. He was absolutely mystified that I, an intelligent woman, would ever even consider believing in a god.
He was adamant and determined to “prove” to me God did not exist.
At this point in our marriage, we had been down all these roads. You know, the paths of trying to defend my faith from a science point of view. Defending the truth of the Bible. Discussing intelligent design. Debates about the fossil record. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Etc. etc. etc.
My friends, I’ve had every conceivable conversation so if you feel like you are all alone in this, I know exactly how you feel.
Okay, after years and years of debate, conflicts and arguments with each of us trying to convince the other of the error in their thinking, I finally gave up.
Whew! What a relief.
What follows is the simple conversation that seemed to finally help my husband accept my faith. Here we go.
Me: Honey, why does it matter so much to you that I believe in God? My faith doesn’t make me stupid.
Him: I does too matter. (He states in great anger and frustration I might add.)
Me: But why? Why does it matter?
Him: Because you are living a lie.
Me: But how do you KNOW that I am wrong? You don’t know for sure. And let’s say that at the end of it all, we die and nothing happens. No heaven. No hell. We just cease to exist like you presume.
What I know is that I lived a life that was morally strong. I lived a life filled with joy. I have many friends who I love and who love me. I have given of myself to this world to make it a better place.
Honey, my faith makes me happy.
Now there is likely more to this conversation but I just don’t remember what happened after that. However, the dynamics in our marriage relationship changed upon that conversation.
Honey, my faith makes me happy…….
The key to this kind of conversation is waiting until they are truly ready to hear it. He was ready that day.
Pray that the Lord will give you several things to equip you to walk this journey.
First, that He and YOU seal your mind, heart and soul in the truth of your identity. Know who you are in Christ.
Second, pray for courage, Joshua courage to step up to the task of confronting immature behavior and words toward your faith.
Three, pray for discernment and wisdom and for an opening to have a conversation with your spouse. God loves to honor those prayers.
Identity Courage and an open door.
And this very day, I also give you dominion over your delete key. Decide today that you will not allow your husband to be used by the enemy to create doubt. Reject the fiery darts of the enemy. Live in joy. As Beth Moore says, “JOY, is our birthright in Christ.”
Live victoriously and let the enemy quake with fear and the atheist blogs go wild, because we are children of the Most High God and NO ONE CAN TOUCH THAT.
The last couple of months I have been sharing a bit about what I have learned from reading a book called From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris. I was assigned to read this book in class and I am so glad that I read it! This book has been truly amazing. To read the previous two posts I've written in this "mini-series" click on the links below.
In September I began to take steps to transition into a new church. As you read this, I have now been at this new church for 3 weeks. Each and every week has been so powerful and effective. Today I want to share with you a recent experience unlike anything I've ever had. It happened a little over a week ago on October 14, 2018. The following is what I posted the next day on Facebook (sharing here as well since a lot of you may not have Facebook or seen it because we aren't "friends"):
Worship at Hub is amazing. God is there. Holy Spirit presence is thick and tangible. We were singing a song I had never heard before. The lyrics were powerful and the words that floored me at the time were talking about laying my whole life down before Jesus our Savior. I was already worshipping on my knees but I couldn't help but crouch face down before God. I felt so heavy and overloaded. I was just crying and crying before God. My words spoken in tears and sobs. All of a sudden it was like God said, "get up." Not in an angry way but an empowering way...if that makes sense. I sat up and it was like I saw myself in the place of the woman caught in adultry that was brought before Jesus. The crowd, stones in hand set to stone her. Jesus calmly and matter of factly said, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." Slowly, one by one the people left. Once everyone was gone, I pictured Jesus lift up my chin so I would look him in the eyes. Crouched on the ground seeing His eyes intent on mine. Looking into my soul. Just like He did with the woman that day, He said, "who condemns you?" Looking around I reply, "No one Sir." In that instant...I felt all the weight of condemnation lifted. It was like I had an hour long deep tissue massage. Every fiber of my being, relaxed and stress free. I realized later after worship and after the service...reflecting on what happened in that moment. Those people standing and surrounding me so quick to condemn and judge...were different versions of ME. How often I have shot myself down, I have stoned myself for a mis-spoken word, a harsh tone, a forgotten task, a wrong thought...I have been stoning myself for years and as God clearly told me to get up - it was giving me my life back. It was His GRACE UPON GRACE. His mercy. His true love. He doesn't keep record of wrongs...and neither should I. NO LONGER DO I. This morning, as life went on as usual...I reacted in ways I am tyring to change (short with my daughter when she cries about everything she wears - meltown after meltdown this morning and my shortness with her, attitude from tired children, etc) but the major difference was this. No one condemns me...not even myself. I made a mistake, asked for forgivenenss and moved on. The first instance my flesh tried to condemn me I heard the words "no one Sir." Loud and clear and it reminded me of the freedom that I was given. Once and for all. I will never go back. Once that transaction was finished Jesus said, "Go and sin no more." Can you image the freedom, the joy, the apreciation she felt with that moment? I can...because I do.
You may have to click on the picture to better see but I found the moment in worship where this exchange happened. Today I stand free from years of mental torment. As I think about this moment it still brings tears to my eyes because every moment since then has been a blessing. Please know that it doesn't mean that I am perfect or care free. I still have some struggles that God is working on in me. Holy Spirit is still pruning and I've got a lot of work to do. However, I am no longer hopeless.
I've gone a little long this time so let me wrap up with this:
I have been blessed to be a blessing. So today, I bless you with joy unspeakable; freedom from weight (even YEARS worth) of torment - mental, emotional, spiritual, physical; victory beyond belief; confidence in your Daddy; hope to weather the storm; faith, life, salvation for your spouse and loved ones; light in the darkness; advancement in the Kingdom where you feel backslidden; fire shut up in your bones; fight and fierceness; and love beyond compare.
Below is the song that brought me to the feet of Jesus and ushered me into freedom.
See you in the comments. I would love to pray over you for your own deliverance.
Dear friends, just wanted to share the live Facebook video I did on Wednesday regarding my post about the Mordecai Time we are now in and how the Holy Spirit "dropped" this revelation upon me. In addition, I share a word about God's Spirit being given "without measure," right from the book of John. It's amazing, these times were are living in, SUMites! God is moving in stunning ways. Walk with Him, trust Him to do it, and watch what He does. By His Spirit! Amen!
SUMites, we’ve just come out of our week of prayer & fasting. I must say I am blown away at how powerful this year’s fast seemed to be in our community. Abba is really taking us to new levels and places this year, my friends.
Don’t be surprised if things continue to be revealed, shift and unfold over the next several weeks. We’ve set the stage for 2017 in a powerful way and God does not disappoint.
Over the week, God revealed some truths in Scripture and connected some dots for me. One I’d like to share with you today, because it’s a new prayer strategy for me. And in light of some of the things God showed me this week and Lynn’s upcoming series on emotional healing, I believe it is timely.
We’ve studied this verse before. In fact, Lynn has a video about it over there in the sidebar.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. — 2 Cor. 10:5
Standing on the truth of 1 Cor. 7:14 (chapter eight in our prayer book) and combining it with Jer. 24:7, this is how the Holy Spirit led me to pray it for my husband (and children):
Lord Jesus, I stand before you in my authority as the believing wife who sanctifies her husband through her faith and repent for Mike for his unbelief, doubt and choice of atheism. And in my authority I demolish these arguments of unbelief, doubt and atheism that have set themselves up against the knowledge of God and I take captive every thought bombarding or residing in him that perpetuates or agrees with these lies and make them obedient to the truth of Jesus Christ. And I declare he is a holy man of God, has received a heart that knows God, is now therefore a son of God and will return to God wholeheartedly. In the saving name of Jesus, amen!
In the name of Jesus Christ, I destroy every argument and every pretension raised against the knowledge of God that resides in my heart, my mind and/or in my life in any way and declare them gone and done. Demolished! And I take captive every thought, doubt, or insecurity and make it obedient to the truth of Jesus. I am a child of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, welcomed before the throne of grace and anointed by God to proclaim and speak truth. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!
Anytime we remove an untruth (lie), it is important to replace it with truth. And based upon what I experienced last week and am sensing the Holy Spirit saying now, God has set something into motion and that which He has placed in us during our time of prayer and fasting will become powerful tools over the weeks and months ahead. Thus we must defend and protect those truths and not allow the enemy to take them away (make us forget) or muddle the truths with his lies (confusion, doubting if you truly heard God, etc.).
On Friday I will share a bit more of what God revealed to me over the week as He connects more of the dots for me. And boy, do I need a lot more dots connected. LOL!
Love you, SUMites! Share in the comments whatever the Holy Spirit lays on your heart. Dineen
He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
My friends, I don’t know if you remember me sharing in June of 2013 a dream God gave me, which I believe was a precursor to our salvation word this year and what’s to come. There are several pieces to this that the Holy Spirit is showing me, and I am excited to share with you. So let’s start with a refresher of that dream and then pray in this harvest!
May 2013 (date of dream)
I was half awake, half asleep, but the dream was very vivid. I stood before a tall cornfield—taller than me. Jesus stood next to me.
He gestured to the crop and said, "This is the Great Harvest.”
I said, "Lord, I can't see past this, can you show me more?”
Suddenly I was up higher and could see tall mountains in the far distance. The crop spanned all the way to the mountains!
At the time I found it very curious that I saw corn in this dream as opposed to wheat. With some investigation and research, I discovered that the Bible references to grain can mean either corn or wheat and are often connected with oil and wine.
“From the dew of heaven and the richness of the earth, may God always give you abundant harvests of grain and bountiful new wine. — Genesis 27:28
Isaac said to Esau, “I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine—what is left for me to give you, my son?” — Genesis 27:37
“If you carefully obey all the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil. He will give you lush pastureland for your livestock, and you yourselves will have all you want to eat. — Deut. 11:13-15
Look at this Scripture from Joel, which is part of God’s promise of restoration:
The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. — Joel 2:24
Grain and wine were such integral parts of the Israelites lives and culture that it makes complete sense that Jesus would use bread and wine to bring such powerful symbolism, connection and power to what we practice today as communion.
And harvest time is always about prosperity, provisions and promise—of abundant life. The Old Testament displayed this in the physical sense first through manna and then provision from the promised land. Jesus took this provision of physical sustenance and connected it to our spiritual need as well.
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. — John 6:35
Now recently several SUMites have shared stories of how their spouses have walked away from their faith either on this blog or on our 1Peter3Living Yahoo group. My friends, I can’t tell you how deeply this grieved me. These are the stories that break my heart and bring me to tears before God.
And that is what I did one day last week. It made no sense to me in light of the promises God has been sharing with me—with all of us. I went to Him in tears and asked, “Lord, what is going on? You’ve promised us salvation and even shown me this is coming. Have I missed something, not prayed enough? Is the enemy winning this battle?”
I saw only two possibilities, but our God of the impossible replied with His, “I’m revealing the greater glory.”
Dear friends, my tears turned to laughter as the Holy Spirit whispered this to my heart, “The prodigals are being called back and the unbelievers are being drawn in.”
Our Papa God is so good! He’s bringing our loved ones to His Son just as Jesus said He would.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” — John 6:44
SUMites, I believe this with all my heart, soul, mind and spirit! Will you pray with me?
We praise You, Mighty Lord Jesus, for You are the bread and wine to our lives, our souls and our spirits. Thank You for giving this provision to our spouses too! Lord, send the workers needed for this Great Harvest. Send people into our midst to reveal Your presence and love to our pre-believers. Reveal and show that love to them through us, for we are Your workers too, Lord!
Lord Jesus, there is Resurrection Life in all You do. We ask for this resurrection life to be released over our pre-believers, our lives, our marriages, our children and every place in our lives where dry bones need to be called back to life. Breathe Your breath of life over all of us. We call these dry places to life, in the Saving and Life-Resurrecting Name of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, we ask for vengeance against the enemy and the demonic for all they have stolen from us, the SUMites, from our pre-believers, from our children and even from our ancestors. We ask for full recompense and restoration of what has been lost and stolen (Isa. 35).
Lord, call in the harvest of our pre-believers and prodigals. Bring them to You, Lord, every single one of them. Lord Jesus, when You walked this earth, every person who came to You was healed. We present our prodigals and pre-believers to You like the man lowered through the roof and ask that every single one be saved and healed. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, amen!
My SUM family, I have felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to share how God has worked in very subtle ways to progress this ministry and the SUM family. This part of this story is probably one of my favorite parts because one, it shows how clearly God is in the smallest details and two, how subtly He can work to bring change.
When this blog first started, it was just that, a blog. Lynn and I wrote for the growing readership God was drawing here, and we referred to our spouses as unbelievers.
As time progressed and readership grew, God began to change our perspective and thus our words. I remember clearly one day writing a post for the blog and sensing the Holy Spirit’s nudge to begin referring to this blog as a community. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I found it so interesting and faithfully obeyed.
Then God lifted up our dear friend Rosheeda to lead our yearly fast in January, and it was during one of those times she dubbed us the SUMites. From this also evolved the term SUM Nation.
And yet, God wasn’t finished. Holy Spirit nudged again and I found myself using the term “pre-believers.” It was a statement of faith and trust in God to do the very things His Word says.
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. — 2 Peter 3:9
And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him… — 2 Peter 3:15
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” — Acts 16:31
And yet again, God wasn’t finished. He’s evolved this community to become a family—the SUM family. We have become a “church without walls,” my SUM family.
And now I find myself hesitating to use the word “pre-believer” since God declared our corporate word for 2016 to be SALVATION (read that post here). Dare I say that God has another shift coming to our nomenclature? I believe He does, and I am standing in prayer and faith for this shift because I’ve no doubt it will be a big one. How does believer sound to you? I’m right there with you…
My friends, this ministry started with the desire to share with others what God had taught us. God is the one who brought this beautiful progression of faith and unity to what it is today.
And you, SUMites, have gone from being readers and spectators to full participants and members who pray and encourage each other, including Lynn and I, right in the comments! Many of you have even forged friendships outside of this ministry. Again, how amazing is all that?!?!
I find it astoundingly beautiful. Unexplainable except for the only possible explanation.
God—Abba Father, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit—is love.
No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. — 1 John 4:12
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. — 1 John 4:16-17
SUM family, that is what makes us so unique. Our desire is to trust in God’s love so that our love grows more perfect—love for our spouse, love for our children, love for each other, love for the world. We know it’s not easy, yet we make this choice every day.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.. — Galatians 5:6 ESV
So, my dear friends, never forget that when we aspire to love our spouses through and with the love of Jesus (agape) we are walking in faith. And may I say, SUMite Nation, we do it well.
I love you, SUM family, and pray the joy and peace of Jesus fills your hearts today and every day, to sustain and empower you for whatever our Abba Father is calling your heart to do. In the name of Jesus, amen! ~Dineen
SUMites, ANOTHER profound email. What is happening in our community? Ten years of praying, believing, trusting. The fruit is ripe and I celebrate every victory in our SUMite Nation. And I continue to pray and trust for those yet to come.
Today, please meet Kim Valentine. Her story is TRULY miraculous!!!! Thank you Jesus. (Read to the end because this story is astonishing!)
One day after 18 years of marriage my husband informed me he was moving out. As soon as the words left his lips, I knew this time it wasn’t an idle threat. God immediately began revealing to me every sin I committed that degraded, emasculated and disrespected my husband. Every time I blamed, criticized, condemned or withheld intimacy was before my very eyes. The blinders were ripped off and the ugliness of my sin was repulsive to me! Here I was a Christian for 16 years, playing the part, talking the talk and holding the church positions. I felt so valued by my Christian “family” as one of Christ’s ambassadors to the world, but the witness to my own husband was like filthy rags before God.
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” James 1:26
I felt stripped bare to the core that day, but in that process God miraculously transformed my heart for my husband. I experienced an infilling of unconditional love for him that was beyond human comprehension. The persistent nagging inside my being that had to speak up and criticize my him was miraculously gone. So many things that irritated me in the past were washed away. I began to see him through God’s eyes as a precious human being created and loved by Him.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
We had become strangers in the same house living separate lives. We were more like roommates than a married couple and our lives rarely intersected. We hadn't shared a bed for over eight years but I was comfortable with that arrangement, so I didn't care to change.
Had I not realized over the years I was not treating my husband well? I could say “no” and blame other men who had hurt me, other people or society. I have to confess that deep on a spiritual level I knew my actions were damaging to my husband and our whole family. All factors may be reasons for my behavior but no excuse to treat him with disrespect he didn't deserve.
This new love for my husband welled up inside me and overflowed. I had never felt this way and I wanted him to receive this love from me, but was it too late? I had taken control and removed him as head of our family where God intended him to be all along. Would he think that my actions were nothing more than a ploy to make him stay? Regardless, I started to treat him with respect and submission the way I should have all along.
But I was not completely obedient and trusting God. I fought for control of the situation by plotting and intervening like an amateur detective. I intercepted emails and monitored his bank account justifying it because I was trying to save our marriage. God began to convict me of my intrusion and I realized it was actually an invasion of my husband’s privacy. The harsh reality was, he was leaving and there was nothing I could do to control or manipulate that outcome.
After he moved out I withdrew and began to focus on my own pain. I started to dwell on my husband’s contribution to the marriage breakdown in my own private pity party. I remember lying on my kitchen floor weeping and begging Jesus to take me Home. I felt like my heart was broken and I was in a thousand pieces. I now believe it was my own sin and lack of “control” eating me alive. One morning I woke up in tears telling the Lord that I couldn't go on any longer, I was too weak.
I turned to my devotional and the scripture verse was from 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10:
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
God wanted to heal my heart and life before He could ever heal our marriage. This journey of reconciliation wasn’t only about our marriage but also about my disconnection with the Lord. I took my eyes off Him and lived life my own way.
God used prayer and study to open my eyes and discover I was the contentious or quarrelsome woman of Proverbs. In the message Proverbs 27: 15-16 reads: A nagging spouse is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet; you can’t turn it off, and you can’t get away from it.
“It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.” Proverbs 21:19
God now had my complete attention and I wept in brokenness. Even though my heart had been transformed, I continued to hold on to control. I had to be obedient to the Holy Spirit, renew my mind, be accountable to the Lord for my own actions and not blame anyone else. My obsession with control destroyed our marriage.
A week after this epiphany, my husband contacted me out of the blue and asked me to go out for coffee. I hadn’t heard from him in months. The first meeting started as a casual meeting between “friends “but was actually the beginning of our restoration journey.
My husband had a new softness to him I had never before seen, so I knew his heart was changed. He is back home now and we don't just have a marriage restored but a one that's transformed. I tell people I have the husband I’ve always wanted but never allowed him to be. We are blessed to fall into a deeper love with each other. I am witness as he grows in confidence as the head of our household. There are days I still struggle with wanting control, but being aware helps me learn to surrender it to the Lord.
Learning to be a wife as God intended is counter cultural as the world dictates women be independent. We are supposed to take control in marriage and family instead of depending on the Lord but this is so counterproductive. I have new joy embracing the role God has graced me with as wife and help mate for my husband. I know that after God, my husband is my priority. This is how I honor the Lord.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2.
I have had the privilege of watching the Lord draw my husband to Him. It has been more than two years since our reconciliation and my husband has recently become a follower of Jesus Christ. I stand in awe at how the Lord is developing him into the spiritual leader in our home. It’s all about Him!
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
For many years I sought to find my identity and affirmation in education, positions and career but these pursuits became my gods. I had built my foundation on sinking sand destined to wash away. It gave me a feeling of superiority over my husband. I lost focus that my true identity is found in only in Jesus Christ and the role he has for me as His child, a wife to my husband and a mother to our children.
I am a 50-something daughter of the King, wife to one awesome husband, mother to two amazing children and one special "son in love", future grandmother and nurse. I strive to be a woman after God's own heart and walk in His steps.
"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" 1 Peter 2:21
SUMite Nation, it appears there is a lot happening in our community. I am so thrilled to share the emails that are arriving and pray they encourage us in our faith. Today, I bring a powerful message from Janet Sommer. Janet has written for us before in the years of her unequally yoked marriage. But today she has a fantastic message that is..... well, unexpected but filled with hope and faith.
And Janet, I LOVE that you call us her at SUM, precious siblings!
Some people have such grace and joy that reflects in their words, actions and face. The ones who hear God’s power or see it, quickly they begin smiling and praising God. Not me. I first have to pick up my lower jaw off the floor, have a few rounds of recovery time and then can join the rest who are applauding God’s amazing power, mercy and grace. Even a year after my husband encountered God and accepted Jesus as his savior I still regularly am in shock and disbelief. I am confident the heavens sit back and prepare to enjoy the show my face displays.
Concert Selfie - Tobymac
After an exhausting year of relearning marriage and transitioning into an equally yoked marriage, I found myself at a concert with my family. Not only were we attendees, but my husband and I were volunteers too. (Cue a face show for the heavenlies!) It was surreal to stand there this time with my husband. At a Christian concert. For a genre that isn’t exactly his first choice. Trust me, by now the heavens are ordering extra rounds of popcorn.
And to make it even better, I unexpectedly experienced at that concert, my daughter with hands raised, and dancing the whole night away. She earned the moniker “Spirit Dancer” as she repeatedly told us she could feel something in her making her body dance.
Both my husband and I continue to keep the SUMite community in prayer. (Did you know he even joins the corporate fast? Cue an encore face show for the heavelines!!) As Tobymac performed “Move (Keep Walking)” God spoke greatly to my heart and gave me words for you, the SUMites, whom He sees, hears and knows.
I am fairly confident this is your battle cry. Your war anthem He is singing over you.
Another heartbreak day
Feels like you’re miles away
Don’t even need no shade
When your sun don’t shine, shine
Too many passin’ dreams
Roll by like limousines
It’s hard to keep believin’
When they pass you by and by
I know your heart been broke again
I know your prayers ain’t been answered yet
I know you’re feeling like you got nothing left
Well, lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet so
Another Thanksgiving. Another Christmas. Another new year. Another week of corporate fasting. And now Easter is on the horizon bringing a holy holiday facing the struggle of finding balance keeping God honored and at the center. The longing and heartbreak is truly immeasurable as the same prayers are, yet again, expressed with such faith and hope.
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet
Day in and day out it is so tiring to keep enduring this walk of an unequal marriage. The Lord does not want you to stop walking. It’s a trick—a whisper from the enemy manipulating the truth. The real truth is that God is indeed your promised strength, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Even the running community even knows if you stop for a rest, you will not finish the race.
Precious siblings, keep walking. Keep growing in the Word. Keep drawing in close to the Lord. Keep making room for quiet time. Keep teetering the balance beam of honoring God and your spouse. I promise He will catch you.
This year has not been the hallmark movie I thought it would be. Far from it. My rock solid faith has been tested and shaken. I stood on days I wanted to crumble. I had ongoing quiet time when I didn’t want to. I continued with bible study when I had no desire to learn let alone open the bible. And many considered me strong in the Lord.
We have and are still facing many challenges—physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. The hardships and persecutions have come with rapid fire. Spiritually battles came as quite a shock to me. Gifts and manifestations that awed me and left me desiring them, were immediately deposited and displayed in my husband.
While some may rejoice over this obvious confirmation of transformation, I stood watching him have what I wanted. As if that didn’t rattle me a bit, daily I heard the enemy whisper to me “Look at that. You’re not really saved, but he is.”
I knew God’s character. I believed and knew Him by many names—translated and Hebrew names. I knew He was for me. In my wait I saw many miracles and answered prayers. Yet just as the enemy did to Eve, he crept in and tried every manipulation of doubt targeting my belief of salvation and God’s goodness to me.
You must move and keep walking because the enemy will come back to steal what has been gained, and even attempt to take above and beyond. And SUMites, I want nothing more than to see you wear out the enemy with your knowledge, readiness, willingness and His strength. This time, right now, is your training ground. This now is where the foundations of faith and truth are built, solidified and tested. Precious siblings, move…. Keep walking.
These lyrics could not be more fitting. We must choose to lift our head, and keep it lifted, at all times. There are days it will be a choice and not a feeling. Anytime we take our focus off Jesus we will sink just like Peter. It is not over yet. Do not let your hope get poisoned. (Proverbs 13:12) I promise it is not over yet. God promises it is not over yet.
Hold on, hold on
Lord ain’t finished yet
Hold on, hold on
He’ll get you through this
Hold on, hold on
These are the promises
I never will forget
I never will forget
He will get you through this. Just as the Israelites were fed and cared for in miraculous ways, He has miracles placed along this journey for you too. He has many promises for you. Never forgot the promises and what He has done for you in the past. (Deuteronomy 8:2, Psalm 77:11, Psalm 105:5, Psalm 143:5) Remembering the past will be essential to your ability to keep walking, to shield your ears from the deception and lies of the enemy and to keep believing His promises made over 2000 years ago are still very much alive and active for you personally today.
God spoke that some hearts have tremendous hurt. He knows. He sees your heart is broken. He knows your prayers aren’t answered yet. The Lord gave me a vision of this community locked arm in arm standing in a triangular formation. And He said, “stay in formation. Do not be distracted by who is ahead, behind or next to you.”
There are these “suddenlies” in scripture and our lives. Suddenly an earthquake shakes the prison doors loose for Paul and Silas (Acts 16:25-26). Suddenly an angel appears and gives Mary a message. Suddenly Joseph is given a message. Suddenly a cloud covered and the glory of the LORD appeared. (Numbers 16:42) Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. (Matthew 28:9) And suddenly your spouse is a believer. Suddenly. Suddenly you’re catapulted to the front lines. Those of us ahead of you, as well as Lynn and Dineen, will gladly hold your arms up to win this war. (Exodus 17:11-12)
Fight bravely and solider on, warrior.
As we continue to pray for you in great anticipation of your suddenly, please pray for us too. ~ Janet
Janet resides on the East Coast with her high school sweetheart turned husband and their three daughters. She begins and ends her day with God and strives to still be in constant dialogue with Him between.