91 posts categorized "Christmas"

Merry Christmas

SUMites,

Enjoy your Christmas with your family. I pray you are overwhelmed by the love of our Savior. Tune into Him this season and watch how He changes your life.

We will be on break until after Christmas... Then get ready for 2020. It's going to be a BIG year ahead and I have so much to share with you. I'll post more after Christmas.

Walk in love, Warriors! I love all of you from the depth of my heart. 

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Barn 2019


Your Everyday- A Sign and Wonder

Mary Joseph Jesus nativity 2019Today let’s consider our young Mary again. As we join the story, we find her in Bethlehem.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. —Luke 2:7-11

This ordinary girl finds herself in with the sheep as she struggles through her labor. She isn’t assisted by the angels through delivery, nor while she rode nine-months-pregnant on the back of a donkey. She merely went about life when she left Elizabeth as any other woman of her day. She washed clothes, made the bread, sewed new garments, and prepared meals.

She merely did the next right thing. The ordinary life.

But in this amazing passage her ordinary became a sign and a wonder to millions. And it first began with the shepherds. You see, Mary gave birth to Jesus. And when He arrived, naturally she sought to cover her naked baby to warm the child. Just an ordinary, normal, mothering moment.

The next right step.

She tore strips of cloth either from her garment or something nearby and wrapped the baby boy in swaddling clothes.

The next right step.

And this ordinary thing, this next right step, it became a sign and a wonder that continues to echo throughout millennia.

The angels announced to the shepherds in the fields (and to all of us who read the Word):

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. — Luke 2:11

Her ordinary became a sign and a wonder.

My dear, dear SUMites, what ordinary thing that you have done, that you’ve touched, or ordinary prayer might become a sign and a wonder? A wonder to a lost spouse? What might be a miraculous sign to a friend, a neighbor, another believer? What ordinary thing, what next right step might be the very thing that changes a city, or a nation, or generations of lives in the future?

You, my dear friend ARE A SIGN AND A WONDER. Never let anyone tell you differently. Making dinner, sweeping the floor, praying for the sick, sharing a word that transforms one other person might possibly redirect the trajectory of a person, then a family, then generations or perhaps our entire world.

It boggles the mind.

Read the story of the birth of Jesus this year. Read it to your kids. And ask the Lord to reveal how your ordinary is extraordinary.

I love you.

Merry Christmas!

Walk in love, Warriors! Hugs, Lynn


Advent - A Season for Delighting

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Image courtesy of jeswin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear SUMite friends, it’s Ian from sunny Sydney here. I love that Lynn’s previous post involved Mary as I too seek to dig a little deeper on one aspect of her story.

Let’s quickly look at the scene once again. I’d encourage you to read it in its entirety, Luke 1:26-38. And as you read it, picture yourself in the scene. Stand alongside Mary, our teenage girl. Innocent and naïve. But one who is a committed believer in God. She has read all the stories of Abraham, Moses, the other Joseph and the like. These heroes of the faith are very dear to her. She knows God uses ordinary people to do great things.

All of a sudden and out of nowhere, Gabriel arrives. Picture this mighty esteemed angel. I do wonder what he looks like. Is he a giant with wings like the magnificent artwork of yesteryear or does he come in the appearance of a man? Interestingly, the first impression we have of Mary in response to his appearance is that “she is perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” No mention of her being terrified by his sudden appearing nor of any imposing presence but his words that she is the “favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Bearer of Good News

Gabriel informs Mary that she too will join the heroes of the Old Testament and be used by God for a great purpose. Luke in sharing this story contrasts Mary’s response to Gabriel’s words with those of Zechariah of a few verses earlier. Mary’s response is simply one of wonder and seeking to understand. Zechariah sought immediate proof to believe. He didn’t, so he was struck dumb.

“How can this be, since I am a virgin?” she asks innocently. Gabriel explains the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit and that she will carry for nine months the Son of God. Further, he validated his statement by providing the testimony of her cousin, Elizabeth, also being pregnant, as Lynn shared with us on Monday.

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

This statement has been significant for me this year simply in acknowledging that all God sees is possibility. Let that sink in. We kinda put things into two buckets, don’t we? The possible bucket and the impossible one. Not God. There is only one bucket – possibility. I love that. Remember that when you get disheartened about your spouse ever coming to know Jesus.

Interestingly, one commentary I read recently mentioned how Gabriel, effectively waits for a response from Mary. Will she respond positively to God’s favor or not? In effect, this commentator indicates that Mary had a choice. Like we all do when God enters. We can choose to say yes, or reject Him.

Let’s face it, Mary as a teenage girl carrying a baby that is not her fiancé’s was set for a very difficult pregnancy. She would likely be rejected by Joseph and her family. But, as we know she responds affirmatively: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

What courage, what obedience. She chose to abandon her own will and to follow that of the Lord. I wish I had this young girl’s faith.

The Magnificat

Lynn shared with us how Mary went off to see her cousin, Elizabeth. Oh, and how we could spend lots of time reviewing that scene. But I want to conclude this post by reflecting on a favourite verse of many of us

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 AMP)

Too often we hope that in believing God He will give us our desires. But this verse clearly shows there is a condition. And a significant one. God wants us to delight in Him.

This is what Mary did as expressed in the “Song of Mary” or “The Magnificat” as it has become known in the Biblical lectionary. Read it aloud for yourself: Luke 1:46-55. It is Mary’s hymn of praise. I suspect she sang this song many times during her pregnancy and through the years she mothered her son, Jesus.

This Christmas, let’s be intentional in simply praising our God. Sing those Christmas hymns with a little more gusto and passion. Because He is good, faithful and loves each one of us (including our unsaved spouses) like crazy. This is why we celebrate Christmas – God in loving us so much gave His son to be born to a young teenage girl, so that we could fall in love with Him and live a life to His glory.

Wishing all my SUMite family a most blessed Christmas. Be safe, be merry and delight in our most awesome God.


She's A Lot Like Me

Luke 2 11 Christmas 2019The Birth of Jesus.

SUMites, you know, I’ve read the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke 1&2 so many times, I nearly have it memorized in King James. But what I find is that when a story in the Word becomes overly familiar, we breeze past it and we lose some of the miraculous that it contains.

And if you aren’t aware, one of the coolest things about scripture is there are layers of meaning. Revelation comes from deeper places within the words and the LORD loves to reveal more and more as we mature. That’s the wonder of the Word of God. We can read it for 85 years and continue to be captivated by increasing understanding.

Say what??? It’s amazing.

So, will you go with me into this beautiful story about a teenaged girl named Mary. I want to share two things about Mary that I learned just this year. Perhaps you already received these gifts, but for me, what I uncovered is new and it changes me.

I want to start with the story of Mary when the angel appeared to her.

Luke 1:27 “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Ya, wouldn’t you be surprised?

I’ll tell you this, I often ask the Lord to reveal an angel in the physical so that I’m able to behold its presence with my natural eyes. I believe THIS WILL HAPPEN before I die. So, when it does, you can bet, you’ll be the first people I tell.

This particular Christmas I’m actually fascinated with the fact that the angel tells Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, is six months pregnant despite her infertility and old age. Why did the angel include this information with his pronouncement???

Any idea?

Mary was an ordinary woman. She could have been you… Or me. She was a young girl who was given a responsibility that boggles the mind. But, think about this. Although or should I say, EVEN THOUGH an angel appeared to her and told her what was about to happen, she still wrangled with it all. In the moment with the angel present, it was easy to believe. But after the angel left, she struggled with questions and perhaps doubt.

How do I know this? Well first it’s human nature. God can appear and yet we doubt. Just take a read through the Old Testament.

As believers in the era of Grace, we experience the same thing. We pray. We ask God to give us an answer. And miraculously, we receive a whisper to our heart or a prophetic word, or a straight up answer in the Bible, yet we doubt.

God did you really tell me……..

God can you give me a sign……

It’s okay. No condemnation. God knows our human nature so very well.

Indeed, God knew that even our beloved Mary would need a confirmation. Did you know that?

Well, that is why the angel tells Mary that Elizabeth is pregnant.

Because the iPhone wasn’t around, Mary immediately leaves Galilee and travels three to five days walking to Jerusalem to “CONFIRM” what the angel said. Because if indeed, Elizabeth was pregnant, that means that Mary is pregnant and will deliver the Deliverer.

WHOA!

Mary needed some reassurance. It boggles my mind that she needed the angel’s words confirmed to her. Oh, humanity of little faith!!

Oh, but let this truth sink in. How many promises are you waiting upon? How many prophetic words have you received? How many whispers from the Lord are yet to be fulfilled? Perhaps it’s normal to process through doubt. Perhaps it’s okay to once-in-a-while ask the Lord for a confirmation.

When we are entering into new levels of faith and greater works for the Kingdom, I believe God loves to confirm His words. I also believe that once He does, He’s expecting to see our maturity and wait it out in faith.

But for today, in this special Christmas season, I feel as though the Lord is inviting us to ask. He is giving us grace to ask about long-held promises and ask for a confirmation. He is allowing us this special “Mary” gift nestled within the birth of Jesus story to seek Him and allow us to receive His truth, His promises and even confirmations.

I truly believe this is a divine moment for us. A special door has been opened just for us that we might ask for confirmation. But when we ask, choose to believe and hold on to His confirmation like a bulldog. Don’t let His Word be tossed to-and-fro. Stand upon His promise. Quote it back to Him. And write down how He confirms His word because if He says He will do something.

He will!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. —Luke 2:11

On Friday, I have another ordinary moment that is rich! Stay tuned. Stay warm. Walk in love, Warrior! Hugs, Lynn


God's Voice: The Faintest Whisper

Hi friends, Ann here! Still small voice

Two Christmases ago, I was sitting alone in a spacious old church in Edinburgh enjoying a family service. I'd been visiting that city on a solo trip and it was a treat to go to a new church. I chose one to visit and as I took my seat it warmed my heart to be surrounded by a hall full of believers, though I knew none of them.

As the singing began, I got the faintest thought that there might be someone there whose spouse did not yet believe – Someone there whom, maybe, I could help. I brushed it off but as the singing continued the thought came back. I brushed it aside again and carried on singing.

Another song passed, and the tiny thought came back, now niggling me. Eventually I turned to the lady next to me and asked: “Is there someone here whose spouse doesn’t believe?” I mean there are usually plenty in churches, so there would be. I just wondered if it was someone she could point out.

Her eyes scanned the hall, going left, going right. Nope, couldn’t see anyone. She looked behind, but still couldn’t see anyone. Her brow was furrowed by this point, “I’m sure there are, I just can’t think …” And then she looked in front of her: “OH, yes –”, and pointed to the lady right in front of me, on the floor alongside her husband, watching the kids in the nativity play. “Yes, there she is with her husband. He’s very good, he comes to church with her but doesn't believe.”    

“Is it hard for her?” I asked.

“It is.” She said.

I watched this beautiful couple during that service, thinking “I feel I would know how to encourage you, if we ever chatted.”

Then another thought came: “I should tell her she’s not a second-class Christian.” It really was a fleeting thought, one that could have been my own, certainly no thunderbolt. But equally, perhaps it was the Holy Spirit. So I did it. I walked over to her straight after the service, crouched down by her seat, and told her that I just wanted to encourage her. I didn’t mention the spiritually mismatched part. I just told her that what she was doing for her family by carrying her faith strongly was making such an impact, that it was a difficult faith road she walked, and that God is pleased with her. 

Hearing God in our day-to-day is hardly ever a thunderbolt, and it is the still small voice. Nevertheless, as I walked out of the church that day I felt I wanted to know: “Was that really you speaking to me, Lord, or am I on a wild walk of the imagination here?!”

What happened next was more educative for me than I might have thought. 

Two days later I was sitting on a bus travelling through a completely different part of Edinburgh from that church. The bus stopped at a red light, and I absentmindedly watched the crowds pass on the pavement.  In my daydreaming state, however, I was suddenly startled to see none other than that lady’s husband standing on the pavement! I did the most enormous double take. What was interesting about the scene was that everyone around him was in grey or beige, but this guy, he looked so colorful – I think he was wearing a crisp yellow and the brightest blue. He stood out from the crowd.

It seemed God was saying to me there, "Yes, you did hear my voice that day."

The reason it was educative was it confirmed to me that I should probably take note of these gentle whispers more than I do. It also showed me that if I ask God for help in figuring out whether I'm hearing Him He will come through for me.

So that's my story. What are your experiences or thoughts about hearing the still small voice even when it seems faint? I look forward to chatting in the comments.


When God gives us a Promise

Hi friends, Ann here.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is that of Elizabeth (Luke chapter 1). Blessed is she who has believedM Her story gets told each Christmas, but this year I'm noticing a curious detail: Her promise had a plot twist. Her baby had a surprise name. And it was this surprise that made her friends and neighbours marvel.

“When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” (Luke 1:57-63, NIV).

Elizabeth’s promise was different to what she, or anyone, guessed: The conventional name would have been Zechariah. Instead, the name was John, and he was a wild man who wandered the desert eating locusts and honey.

So far so good.

Now for us, and our promises. I wonder how many of you are believing a promise from God? If so, I imagine it relates to your spouse or, perhaps, children getting to know Jesus? That is certainly the case for me. It might be a promise we've taken from scripture, or it may even be a promise that we've heard the Holy Spirit speak to us.

If you do have a promise you're believing, I wonder if, like me, you have preconceived ideas about what it will look like? For example, my own imagination takes me on adventures. I've imagined my husband suddenly deciding he’s super interested in God. Or, perhaps he will wake to see an angel at the bottom of his bed (I say that laughing). Or, it'll be some dramatic encounter with the Holy Spirit.

Well, I'm realizing I need to think again. God is the storyteller of our lives, and He is fabulously creative. Whatever I’ve imagined won’t be what it looks like. There’s a precedent to this: The greatly anticipated messiah came, but he did so as a baby, then a carpenter in Nazareth, then an itinerant wanderer. Was that expected?

With that in mind, now I have a story to tell: Recently, I heard God say: “Ann, be prepared for your promise to not look how you expect.” 

It was curious to me that something strange happened in my home the very same week: My oldest son, Travis, woke in the middle of the night to feel an earthquake. In the morning, he got up and looked online to see what magnitude it had been. To his surprise he discovered there was no earthquake that night. 

This might have been considered chance, but we had a similar experience when I converted. Several years ago just before my own conversion, Bryce woke in the night with the same thing. He was asleep in a hotel when an ‘earthquake’ shook him awake. He turned on the TV expecting to see a news report and there was no earthquake. Shortly after that my conversion happened and it certainly caused a shaking in our home. It knocked me to my knees, shook everything that could be shaken and left only the important things in my own heart: Faith, hope, and love. 

So, friends, watch this space -- Something could be upon my home again. Elizabeth’s name means ‘God has promised’ and like her I believe that Life is coming. I'm just quietly prepared for the unexpected.

How about you -- What promise(s) are you carrying right now? I enjoy hearing 'promise' stories, so share away in the comments.

Nice chatting,

Ann


Advent - An Invitation to Go Deeper

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Photo courtesy of LiturgyTools.net

The Christmas season comes around every year and for many of us it’s kind of the same-old-same-old. Yes, the specialness of the season are the traditions of it and doing the same things every year.  We put up the same tree and decorations, listen to the same Christmas music, have the same family mealtimes, attend the various end of year gatherings and church services and so on.

The busyness of it and the stress of battling through all the shopping crowds, the cooking of all the food and keeping the house clean can serve to distract us. We consciously decide to stay positive and not allow the stress to affect us or the awkward family moments we often experience.

And before we know it, it’s over for another year. We collapse on our lounges having eaten too much and exhausted from the intensity of our family gatherings. For an introvert like myself I’m hankering to get back into my cave to recharge.

Waiting

Advent can simply be another tradition. We light the candles at the appropriate times, pick up an Advent-dedicated devotional and even perhaps follow the alternate lectionaries of Bible readings. Like any ‘practice’ we can simply go through the motions. I know I’m regularly guilty of doing exactly that.

I especially love Advent. However, I need to be very intentional to ensure it’s simply not another tradition that I ‘do’ because it makes me feel good. I don’t want to simply go through the motions.

Advent is a season of waiting. Waiting for an “arrival” (which is what the word, Advent means) of the Messiah. Waiting generally is uncomfortable, isn’t it? It’s uncomfortable because it means we’re not in control. I was only sitting on a plane today thinking we were about to take off when we’re advised that three passengers hadn’t checked in. Arggh. I just want to get home. So we wait. Fifteen minutes pass (which feels like an hour) and two of the three sheepishly head down the aisle sensing the boring eyes of every passenger they pass. We wait some more. Until finally a decision is made to go without the remaining one. I wonder how many of us spared a thought for the passenger left behind or in our hearts were simply glad to be on our way?

The Israelites were used to waiting. What 400 years before the arrival of Jesus? We SUMites are used to waiting too, aren’t’ we? Waiting for the many prayed prayers for the salvation of our dearly loved spouses to be answered. We should be experts at it, shouldn’t we?

Hopeful Expectation

We can choose to walk through Advent with hopeful expectation. Maybe Christmas will be difficult for whatever reason which makes us apprehensive. But we can keep our minds and hearts on the good news of Jesus. He is the liberator, the lover of our souls and we can choose to use these days to intentionally go deeper with Him.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[it.” (John 1:4-5 NIV)

Jesus is the light. And as these verses tell us He shines in the darkness. May I encourage you to take a few moments today or tomorrow or the next day to identify the places in your life where you might be struggling to find God. Where are the places of darkness? These can be scary places because we worry that Jesus won’t show up. So here’s what we’ll do:

  1. Once you’ve identified a dark place, invite Jesus into it. Picture Him walking into the room, holding your hand. Every time you sense darkness, invite Jesus to come into. Our friend, Martha, actually spends each morning siting in the dark communing with God awaiting the light of the morning sunrise. It’s a wonderful practice to mirror this exercise.
  2. Be assured that He is with you. Be assured that He hears all of our prayers, all those prayers we’ve prayed for the salvation of our spouses and loved ones. Encourage yourself with the words of Psalm 56:8 –

“You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

You have recorded each one in your book.”

Spending moments of stillness where it’s just you and God are particularly special in this season. I’ve recently started using an App that Ransomed Heart have released. It’s simply called “One Minute Pause”. Go check it out – it’s free. Here’s the link to the Apple version but there is also an Android one, just search for it in the Android app store: - https://apps.apple.com/app/id1471913620

Come, let us adore Him, Jesus that is, this season. Let’s be intentional with hope in our hearts. Blessing, dear friends. I’ll be checking in midway during the month with a second post on Advent.

Perhaps in the meantime let’s share with each other what we’re hoping for this Christmas. I’m hoping for complete healing for my brother, John, who is walking through a stem cell transplant to keep lymphoma at bay. Unfortunately, he will be spending Christmas in a hospital isolation ward.


The Christmas Project Planner

Gang,

Most of you know that I've been friends with author, Kathi Lipp, for years. She writes amazing books that truly improve our lives. Well, a few days ago she sent me a copy of her recent book.

Christmas Project Planner Kathi Lipp

The Christmas Project Planner is amazing. It's beautiful gift to receive and work out of to retain your sanity during the busiest time of year.

Please order your copy at Amazon. And I'm offering a copy as a giveaway. Please enter your name and a comment why you need this book in the comments. I'll choose a winner next Tuesday so that the winner receives the book for November planning. 

Wahoo. God bless you Kathi! 


Because of the Manger... Birth of the King!

From my prayer time this Christmas: December 2018

From the Father:

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com In the quiet before the early light of Christmas traditions, My child, rise and sit alone with Me. Press into My heart and travel with Me through the ages, back to a tiny town in the Judean desert.

This village, Bethlehem, shelters a teenaged, soon-to-be mother, struggling in labor throughout the night. Allow your heart to perceive the paddock of bleating sheep and goats, shivering in the cold as they huddle about the tiny family. Feel the course, dry straw where Mary, the mother of God, rests as she pushes through her pain, hour-by-hour.

Breathe in the earthy smells of the animals, the feed, the dung, as the couple labor together. The shadows flicker across the beams of the manger, lit by a single candle.

Finally, the last cry and she pushes forth the child. The King of Kings, the Messiah arrives into the hands of a young Jewish man, Joseph of Nazareth. He quickly comforts the cries of the child, wiping him clean. Resting the child in the trough made for the animals, he turns to Mary, wipes her face then settles her with a sip of water. She fades off to sleep.

Wrapping the child in torn strips from Mary’s dress, the child rests. Joseph ponders the destiny of this tiny baby within his hands. He prays. He offers thanks to the Heavenly Father as he gazes into the perfect face of a babe that is the Chose One, The Christ, who has come for all people.

All of heaven responds in a culmination of majestic worship and praise echoing throughout the eons. The angles sing, hallelujah! The heavens rejoice. Time splits in two. Hope returns. Joy and Freedom is proclaimed over the people. Devils flee.

The love of God is alive upon the earth.

Immanuel —God with us!

Luke 2: 6-14 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


The Difference Between Zechariah and Mary

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com We are nearing the time and the town of Bethlehem. Last week in the comments Cindy, brought forward an interesting observation. And today as I’m reading the story of Christmas from the first chapter of Luke, my eyes are drawn again and again to the angel Gabriel and his proclamation of the birth of the Messiah given to Mary, a young woman living in Galilee.

Cindy pointed out the difference between Zechariah’s questioning of Gabriel in contrast to Mary’s question put to the angel. Zach’s question was a cloak of disbelief and Mary’s???? Well as Cindy shared last week, Mary, was asking out of curiosity about how the conception and birth would come about.

This is what I believe we can receive from these two contrasts that are very similar and both prominent in the telling of the birth of the Messiah.

It’s all about the heart!

My friends, it’s our inner core, who we truly are and what we believe, that God comprehends in perfect clarity.

People are sophisticated and very clever about cloaking their full truth from others, but God understands our entire “real” self, every moment of every day. What fascinates me is that Mary proclaimed her acceptance of Gabriel’s word from the LORD in her song for Elizabeth. And within this song exists another profound truth about the human and spiritual condition of people.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. — Luke 1:51

Our thought life is everything!

What we think matters because our thoughts birth things into our lives, good or wicked. And Mary is stating this fact upon receiving the news of the birth of her Savior. Wow!

We must purpose to capture all, ALL, negative, ugly, ungodly thoughts and images, taking them captive to Christ.

I'm convinced through my personal faith life of more than 30 years and through the many prayer sessions I lead, that it is possible for the demonic realm to tune into our thoughts. I’m not really sure when and how the Christian church came to the conclusion that the demons can't hear our thoughts, because nowhere in the Word that written. But I’ve had experiences in the past when in my mind thought things and I never spoke a word, yet I partnered with a lie through dark thoughts and the and I gave power to the ugly thought and it became real in my life.

Because our thought-life is critically important, it's not a coincidence that there are numerous scripture verses about our thoughts and mind.

Our thought-life creates atmospheres. They can be dark, gloom, doom, sad, and mad. Or they can create life, hope, love, peace and joy. The Holy Spirit dwells in a person’s heart who thinks upon these things. Let me give you an example. The atmosphere of worship is where the angels play in vibrant colors of green, bright purples, reds, and golds. But a dark atmosphere is shadowy, fearful, nasty, accusatory, angry and the demonic lurks.

Within the telling of the birth of Christ, smack in the middle of Mary’s declaration, I discovered the preeminent importance of our thoughts. It was true over 2,000 years ago and it’s true today. Capturing thoughts to Christ and having the mind of Christ is our daily pursuit.

Dwell upon God. Think about Him. Talk to Him. Talk to Jesus. Dance with the angelic. Live with the Holy Spirit. Ponder and let your thoughts drift toward heaven. Offer Him praise. Blast the worship music. Give Him thanks and think words that echo His character. You can change your atmosphere and those about you. One of my favorite things to do, is to walk into Walmart and change the atmosphere of the store!!

Say what??

It’s so cool!

Once again, the powerful truths that are hidden in the Christmas story are bringing hope, tools and truth to equip the Saints to slay the darkness and release the captives…

…and isn’t that why Jesus was born?

I leave you with the end of the conversation between the angel, Gabriel and Mary.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  

For no word from God will ever fail. —Luke 1:34-37


And His Name Shall......

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com I’ve read the Christmas story in the Gospels for years. In fact every January, I begin my Daily Bible with the telling of the birth of Jesus in the book of Matthew. But this year, this beautiful December, I’m reading it with a new hunger and in utter awe. What the Lord is reveling to me is creating a love for this story like I’ve never experience prior to now.

It’s peace. It’s wonder. It’s revelation. It’s JESUS!!! 

Reading the passage in Matthew chapter one, I stopped, transfixed on verse 21.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. — Matthew 1:21 NIV

COME ON!!!  My soul stirs just reading the words. Yet, in my NIV Bible, the paper kind, which if you don’t have a paper Bible. Get one. Read from it every day. Highlight, write in the margins. It’s an entirely different experience with God on paper verses digital. Ya, I promise!

Jesus Greek Joshua Christmas 2018

In my Bible there is a tiny little footnote. I glanced down at some point in a previous year, I had underlined it: Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the LORD saves. The significance was immediate. This is because I’m camped on understanding the name of God in this season of my faith life. I shared some of my recent discovery last week in my Facebook live video.

SUMites, names are extraordinarily important in the Kingdom of God. Now think about this. Why?

Why, does an angel arrive to Zechariah and tell him what name to bestow upon his son? And again, Gabriel arrives with the name of the Savior of the World, Yeshua, to christen Mary and Joseph’s child?

In the Kingdom, names carry mandates, missions, purpose, identity. And these names are gifted of God and are often accompanied by angelic support, power and authority in the Kingdom realm, abilities and spiritual and physical gifts. The name Samson is identified with strength and power. Fearlessness and courage are the spiritual covering of Caleb and Joshua. I’ve also discovered that names are also associated with the demonic, Jezebel, Leviathan, etc.

I will be real here. My husband’s name is Michael. It means: Who is like God. With this kind of mandate upon my husband’s name alone, it’s not a mystery to me that the devil has applied a concerted effort to keep him from fulfilling his Godly purpose on the earth.

Wikipedia: The name Jesus is a modern-day descendant of the Hebrew name Yeshua, which is based on the Semitic root y-š-ʕ (Hebrew: ישע‎), meaning "to deliver; to rescue.

Hallelujah… Our deliverer. Our rescue. And this name is NOT a one and done. This is a day-by-day, minute-by-minute redemption that covers a lifetime on earth. Can I get an AMEN?

I speak the name of Jesus literally hundreds of times a day. I’m not kidding. I speak it in my sleep. I speak the name over situations during the day. I praise His name as I move throughout my day. The name, Jesus, pours from my lips over and over. Just ask Mike. I can’t stop it and I don’t want to.

Because…… at the name of Jesus…… every knee will bow. On the earth and under the earth. ALL THINGS must come under the dominion of Jesus Christ.

This Christmas, ask the Holy Spirit to pour upon you revelation about the name of Jesus. The name of Yahweh, the names of the disciples, the names of your family. There are mandates and missions in waiting, to be discovered, to be released to our world… Let the name Jesus pour from your lips. His name changes marriages, realigns our health, released our children into their legacy, frees us from depression, fear, regret, bitterness, failure and false identity.

Yeshua!!!  JESUS SAVES!

And his name will be the hope of all the world. —Matthew 12:21


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.


Because of The Manger... Our Voice Is Restored!

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com While reading the Christmas story in the book of Luke on Monday, I pondered Zechariah’s story. The Holy Spirit began to speak to me about Zechariah’s angelic encounter, his response, and the significance and similarity in many believers lives today.

Let’s read it together and then I will share the revelation that could very well change the course of your life this very day. 

Let us recall that Zechariah was the High Priest serving in the Temple, in the Holies of holy. He and his wife Elizabeth were devoted to the Lord, however, they lived in shame as they were childless. Childlessness was considered a curse in ancient Biblical times.

In Luke, chapter one, Zechariah received great honor when chosen to burn incense in the Temple. While ministering to God behind the curtain the angel, Gabriel, appeared before him and said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth will bear you a son and you are to call him John….”

Gabriel continues to declare the destiny of John who becomes The Baptist. Let’s pick up in verse 18 and listen to Zachariah’s response:

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people. — Luke 1:18-25

Now this is where the Lord began to speak to me, “Lynn, I know that you are aware through your many prayer session, that many of my children have experienced this very thing.”

“Huh?” I pondered until the Lord went on to explain. “You see, many of my children’s voices have been stolen from them. They suffered much at the hands of those in authority over them who silenced their cries for kindness, consideration, and cries for help. CRIES TO BE HEARD!”

“What happened to Zachariah continues to play out in millions of lives today."

"And Lynn, it wasn’t by My Hand that Zachariah lost his voice. No. His voice was stolen by the demonic the instant Zach decided to doubt and believe a lie. He believed this miracle birth was impossible. He chose by his free will to partner with doubt and deceit, two principalities of darkness. Thus, giving the enemy an entry point to come in, snatch his voice, which was ordained to be a powerful witness of the Kingdom. He believed a lie even though my powerful angel stood before him speaking truth.”

“Stealing a believer’s voice is the goal of every demon. Your voice carries so much power to change everything in the world. But the devil tricks, swirls doubt, pain, and trauma to snuff out the realities that I offer. My children partner with deception even though they have My Word, the Holy Spirit and the testimonies of millions of believers who declare the reality of My power and love."

"Lynn, I’m so glad that you pray with My children and restore their voice.”

“I’m so glad too, Papa.”

“Lynn, but did you see what happened when Zachariah acted in faith and partnered with Me, with My son, Jesus, and with truth? The demonic stronghold was immediately broken, and Zechariah’s voice was restored. Read on!”

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”

61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him. — Luke 1:61-66

“Meditate on this truth. Partner with Me no matter how impossible the circumstances. If I have decreed a thing. IT MUST HAPPEN!”

-----

Whoa, Gang!

Who knew the Christmas story could be this powerful.

This is the season of miracles and receiving gifts. Has the devil stolen your voice? Ask the Lord about your voice. Has it been silenced? Do you use your voice to bless and not curse?

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. — Colossians 4:6

For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. —Luke 6:45

Share your thoughts with me in the comments. Let me pray for you in the comments today. I love you Merry Christmas. AND, I can’t wait to discover more on our journey toward Bethlehem!


Advent - A Season of Waiting ...

 

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FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I received a call that I wasn’t expecting. From my sister. It was Saturday night, two weeks ago. She was relaying some information she’d received about our brother, John.

He had been admitted into hospital that afternoon, had an MRI that found he had a ‘mass’ in his head. Oh dear. Not at all what we wanted to hear.

And so the waiting began.

Over the next week John had a bunch of tests and scans. Lots of waiting for things to happen – John dubbed it “hospital time”. All confirmed there was only the one mass. Everything else was normal except that movement in both his right arm and right leg were slightly impaired. The mass was pressing on his brain impacting a signal to those limbs.

Finally, a biopsy was to be taken. But this was no simple biopsy as they had to get into his head. And therefore, there were risks involved. Because the mass was in an area of ‘high value real estate’ we were told.

The procedure went well and there were no complications. Praise God.

And then we waited. For the results.

Three days later a simple text message arrived. From John. “Diagnosed with B Cell lymphoma. Chemo starts Monday. Sorry for the curt message.”

My heart sunk.1

A Season to Wait

Advent commenced last Sunday (2 December). Advent is a time of waiting. The name Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Beginning each year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, Advent commemorates the birth of Jesus and also anticipates His return. As Ann Voskamp says we are “perpetual Advent people” waiting on Christ’s return. I’d add that we are also waiting on Jesus to do work in our heart regarding life’s circumstances.

We SUMites are used to waiting, aren’t we?

He doesn’t always immediately respond to our heart cry – “God help us!” So we wait. “He teaches us to stay in the waiting.” (Ruth Haley Barton) We sit with our longings: for good biopsy results, for our pre-believing spouses, and so on.

It’s important for us to not run away from our longings, to spend time with the Lord expressing our worries and fears. We see throughout the Scriptures, particularly in the OT and the Psalms how many times people cry out to God, whether it’s Rachel in her desire for children (Genesis 30) or David in his lament (for example, Psalm 6).

Light and Darkness

When we wait we often linger in darkness. The future is uncertain and dark. We don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know what the diagnosis will be or if our spouses will choose Jesus. We typically associate negative connotations with the darkness, don’t we? But a lot of good things happen in the dark. Remember we were created in the darkness of the womb.

Lingering in uncertainty with our longings can also be a positive experience. Because we linger with God. Even if He feels distant we can claim the promises that He has given us in the Bible. “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)

Lighting candles is one of the symbols of Advent. It reflects Christ being the light of the world and coming through the darkness – “The true light that gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9)

During Advent we don’t just wait, we also anticipate. We anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. And we anticipate that He will come again to make all things new.

“Jesus Christ has come, and He is coming again. This is the heart of Advent.” (He Reads Truth)

The Branch Gives us Hope

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;


    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)

Advent is all about hope. In the who is coming.

We can believe in that hope. Because He did come 2,000 years ago on that Christmas morn, born in a food trough, son to a teenage mom and her husband.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has come to us. He is in us and we are in Him.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has told us He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Even when our beloved doesn’t know Him. Even when the diagnosis isn’t good.

Often when we’re in a season of wilderness or a battle or even the 24 days of Advent our hope is in the end, the arrival, the victory. Time and time again we see in the Bible, most often the true ‘victory’ occurs during the wilderness, or struggle or suffering. This is where we discover that God wants more of us; He wants our hearts to know Him deeply and intimately. This can only come through time with Him. I've always loved the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah, John the Baptist's parents, who lived in silence for 5 months of his gestation. During this period, Zechariah discovered the wonder of an intimate Father, and on John being born, as a result of his obedience in naming his son, Zechariah's tongue is freed and he opens by praising God (Luke 1:64)

Advent is counter cultural because it calls us to slow down from our busy schedules of Christmas parties and events to spend time waiting on Jesus, and leaning into Him as we discover and share the longings of our heart.  

I hope you are able to spend some time in the next few weeks reflecting on the hope of Advent. On Jesus. Allow His Words to “dwell in you richly.”

Wishing all of my SUMite friends a blessed Advent season full of childlike hope and anticipation.

Grace and peace,

1. Note: as a write this post, John is undergoing his first chemo treatment. We don't know what is going to happen this week, in the next weeks and months, but I have real comfort because John is in a great place with the Lord as he starts this challenging season. He wants to fall more in love with Him and discover all there is to life with Jesus. If you remember, we'd cherish any prayers you may utter for John. Thank you, my dear friends.


Because of the Manger... Shrug Off The Ugly Sweater

SUMites,

I’m so excited for Christmas this year. I went extra crazy decorating the house. Take a look.

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Within me remains a wide-eye small girl who still marvels at the wonder and whimsy of this season. I miss the snow so much this time of year. So much so, that I created a snowscape outside of my front door. My daughter, Caitie, who is freezing in Indiana is longing for the warm afternoons of southern California.

Christmas Door 2018

I love the decorations on the tree, each tell a story of a season of our life. I love the packages and the lights. I love to wear Christmas apparel and have laughed out loud at the crazy, and weird, ugly Christmas sweaters.

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There are tiny miracles all about us if we take time to notice.

In fact, just this past week Mike asked me what church service we would be attending on Christmas Eve. Say what??? A number of years ago, that would have never happened.

But what I love so much is the retelling of the story of the birth of Jesus. So, would you travel with me in this month of December to Bethlehem, visit with Mary and Joseph, imagine the Wisemen and their need to find the new born King? Let’s behold the gift that we have because of the manger…..

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. — Luke 1:35 (KJV)

The joining of the DNA of God with humanity within a covering of the Holy Spirit. The conception of a perfect child.

Because of Christ, we have been invited to remove the ugly and become a brand-new person. We can shrug off that ugly Christmas sweater and literally put on Christ. Whoa! Read this:

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. — Romans 13:14 (NIV)

This singular conception in a tiny town of Bethlehem is also our conception as a new creation, a child of God. A man or woman endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49). The manger is our rescue from anger, fear, false beliefs, confusion, strife, and every tool of the devil.

We are offered a precious gift, to dawn and wear the love of Jesus this season and become peace bearers in our home. Love givers in our marriages. Leaders of joy in our communities. Ambassadors of purpose and destiny for our children.

SUMites, who do you want to be this Christmas. Will you choose to wear Jesus in the morning for your kids, your spouse. Will you put on the peace of Christ and bring Him with you into the workplace, into the schools and into our nations? We appear to be just an ordinary people, but that perception is a darkened deception. We are more than ordinary. Because of the manger, we the SUMites, truly impact our homes, our churches, our community, and our world.

We are love. We choose this day to wear Jesus on the outside and inside and reflect the perfection of a babe born in a manger who changed and changes everything.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. — Isaiah 9:6

Leading up to Christmas, let’s walk the road to Bethlehem. Let’s be purposeful to dwell on the greatest story ever told.

Emmanuel – God with us!

In the comments, tell me how putting on Jesus has helped you to take off the ugly in your life. And/or share your ugly sweater pic.

I adore you…. Merry Christmas!!! Lynn

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com

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This is my ugly sweater, my cute dog Finn.and my Broncos Cap! See you in the comments! BIG HUGS!


The Great Gifts of the Unequally Yoked

Hello SUM Nation: 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comI just wonder…… 

Can you perhaps come to understand the unique and special blessings of the unequally yoked? 

I bet someone just read this and rolled their eyes? Anybody??? 

As a woman who has walked this journey now for more than two decades, I truly understand how very difficult it can be. I have lived through the pain, rejection, fear and confusion. I know that some days it can take everything we have to hold on to hope. Yet as a veteran, I have come to realize the unique and beautiful blessings of this journey of faith. 

We, the SUMites, have learned to pray. We have gained great faith as well. And our hope in Jesus soars above so many others who are of faith. During this season of miracles, take a minute to reflect on what gifts and goodness have been born out of your difficult marriage. 

I know that I would not have the kind of faith nor the amazing experiences I have with God if I had married a believing spouse. I just know. In fact, it is likely that most of my life I could have leaned on my believing spouse for faith and missed the hard work, perseverance and prayer that are required to move in the gifts of the Spirit that God has honored me with today. 

As I have reflected on this community and the love we have, a story that deeply touched my heart came forward and flooded my soul. So, I want to share it with you again today.

This is worth the time to read. 

November, 2013: (Lynn) Today I have a question for you. How many times have you set down in church and looked around the sanctuary at the couples seated together, husband and wife, and felt defeated, disappointed, and pain? 

I know this place of pain existed in my life for many years. And I really didn’t understand why God was ignoring my prayers and my pleas for the salvation of my husband. And why He didn’t see my pain and longing for a “normal” Christian home. 

That was until about two years ago and I heard a woman share her personal story and as I listened it changed everything. Today, I’m sharing this story with you so that you might understand a little more, about the heart of our Father, and His love for us, the unequally yoked. 

Two years ago I was part of the leadership team for our church’s annual women’s retreat. Prior to the retreat, the leadership team would meet once a week for eight weeks on a Wednesday evening and have Bible study together. Every other week, the team welcomed a guest speaker, an ordinary woman from our congregation. 

Well on this particular night, we welcomed Carol Mahaney. And Carol proceeded to tell her story. And it’s likely the rest of the women in the room were moved a bit by her story, but I was leveled to the ground, in my spirit. 

You see, Carol married her high school sweetheart. He was a believer. She was a believer. They attended church together every Sunday. They tithed, they studied the Bible, they prayed together, they were everything I dreamed and hoped and wanted for my own life. They raised two girls to adulthood as Christians. Carol said she had a wonderful life and she leaned on her husband for everything and she utterly adored him. She said she loved her church family she felt absolutely blessed by God. 

But in 2008, Carol’s husband unexpectedly died. She was devastated. Additionally this was the year that the economy crashed and as Carol had never managed her finances before, she was overwhelmed as her finances were in chaos. Devastated by grief and lost in a maze of paperwork, banking decisions and taxes, she hit bottom and there was no longer a husband to save her. 

Carol looked up and said, “That’s when I met Jesus.” 

I looked at Carol astonished. And I sat in my chair as my head reeled. Carol was 63 years old and she admits in front of all of us that she lived the Christian life with a believing husband for 63 years but at age 63 for the first time she met Jesus. 

What is so compelling about Carol story for me is that she had the life I thought I always wanted. She attended church with her husband, raising her kids in church, tithing, all things Christianeese but she really didn’t meet the King of Kings until she turned 63 years of age. She merely “played” church and her husband’s faith was enough for her…….. 

For 63 years….. 

Instantly, God moved my spirit. He made me realize that I could have lived a Christian life with a very shallow faith thinking I was doing all the right things but never truly “knowing” Christ. 

I know walking this unequally yoked journey is very difficult. I still have very difficult days. I struggle with my husband’s media choices, I still miss him by my side at church, etc. BUT I would choose this journey again over the life Carol had until age 63 because I truly know Jesus. 

I grieved for Carol because for 63 years she “lived” the Christian life or so it seemed. But it wasn’t until the death of her spouse and a personal crisis that brought her into of living vibrant relationship with Jesus. 

My friends, our difficulties are what God has given us to push us, pull us, help us to surrender and to seek Him out for rescue, and then to live in His Presence. As I think about Carol’s life and marriage, it isn’t worth it to have a marriage that is easy if it means that I live most of my life without truly knowing Jesus. 

I would sign up again for this unequally yoked thing, over 63 years of playing “church.” 

I’m convinced we will truly see that our challenging marriage is singularly, a divine assignment with generational ramifications, for us and our entire family and more people than we realize. 

1 John 3:1  See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 

I love you so much my friends. Today, don't doubt God loves you and that He has your life in His hands. Ask Him where you need to surrender and ask Him how to love Him more. 

God is good and His ways are always best for His children. Hugs, Lynn


There Once Was A Man Who Didn't Believe

6a00d83451ee9f69e20105365c5148970b-piThere was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.

One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused.

"That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.

A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.

When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.

image from unequalmarriage.typepad.comThe geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn, but they still didn't catch on.

Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.

"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human.

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.

Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn - and one by one the other geese followed it to safety!

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind:

"If only I were a goose, then I could save them!" 

Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese - blind, lost, and perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized!

As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come.

Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: 

"Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!" 

~Author Unknown


The Voice of Hope This Christmas

Luke 2 11 Manger at NightAnd there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” —Luke 2:8-12

Years of antiquity, long since passed, in a singular moment of time, a Prince was born. Conceived in holiness, brought forth and swaddled in lowliness. His name declared in the heavens with shouts of wonder, from the angels On High. The pride of His Father.

His name, Emmanuel – God with us.

This humble child, a gift to the multitudes whom toil in bitterness and strife. The years of His youth, His stature increased as love and wisdom grew gaining favor with God and mankind. His voice, a ministry of kindness, mercy, repentance and forgiveness, releasing the people to hope once again, to believe and witness the power of a good Father.

Raised as an example to follow. His message was clear:

Peace silences confusion and fear.

Truth frees minds from anxiety, depression, addiction, and trauma.

Joy restores dreams and creativity.

Righteous conquers illness.

Forgiveness heals the heart, mind, and soul.

Love defeats hate.

This babe born and placed in a trough of animals, grown, then hung on a tree. Cursed of our sins, now forgiven, are you and me. The power of heaven lights the sky. Flashes of victory and out of death He rises. The world now redeemed. Time split in two. Miracles and healing declared for the earth.

In centuries long past, He was born the lowliest of Kings. Now raised to life, He reigns unmatched, to restore our dreams, heal hearts, establish health and defeat darkness. He is:

The King of Kings
Lion of Judah
Bright and Morning Star

Prince of Peace
Emmanuel

He is Jesus.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28

 

Jesus, you are my hope and my future. Thank you for your humble beginnings and your victory at the cross. I ask you to come into my heart and rule in my life. I ask you to forgive my failures and offenses and I choose to forgive others. Today, I receive the gift of eternal life. I am a new creation and receive salvation through the Holy Spirit. In Your name, Jesus. AMEN


Advent - Jesus Came to Bring us Life!

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Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So here we all are. The week before Christmas with still lots to do. Work to finish off, shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, travelling and hosting just to name a few things. It’s exhausting just reading that list.

Besides all of this we may have the added stress of having family staying with us (we do) and/or going to stay with family. A quick tip, delegate things. Don’t try to do it all. Engage everyone in the doing. Yes, this can be a struggle and frankly I’m preaching this as much to myself as anyone. Because sometimes people don’t follow instructions well or try to take over.

Breathe, Ian, breathe.

Abundant Life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV)

We all know this verse. At Christmas both parts of the verse are very relevant. The enemy will do everything to wreck Christmas. But. But. Jesus came to give us life and an abundance of it. Oh, how easy it is for us to forget especially when the stress levels are rising.

For many of us Christmas can bring back many sad memories of loss and grief. And because it’s Christmas we tend to feel those emotions even stronger. May I encourage you not to try and block them out. Let those feelings come. And when they do picture Jesus standing with you. Holding you. Grieving and crying with you. Feeling those same emotions.

Hold onto the truth that our Lord was born on Christmas Day so we could have life! An abundant life! With Him.

He arrived in a world that was in chaos. A world that was desperate for the promised Messiah. After 400 years many would have given up.

He arrived in a war zone. The supernatural war was intense.

He arrived in a time when the Romans held an iron grip on society.

He arrived ... so you and I could have … life. In abundance.

Cherish Jesus this Christmas. Cherish your family and friends.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’ (Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV)

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS


Christmas Blessing For Your Dinner Table

Merry Christmas SUMite Family,

My heart is deeply moved for all of you. I realize that this time of year and Christmas day, especially can create in us dreams and expectations about how we want the holiday to unfold. I know that I often felt disappointment, anger, frustration when it didn’t follow the idea I held in my heart.

Please hold the day loosely and before the Father in surrendered prayer. Realize that things will not go exactly as you hoped. And you may attend Christmas Eve service alone or a family member changes how you wanted the day to play out.

I want to give you some tools to use to walk through this day with peace and love.

Start by blessing yourself with peace. We are to model the life of Jesus, right? He blessed. Remember the sermon on the Mount? The Bible says to bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)

Just this morning I found myself struggling with a million things, a long to-do list, spiritual unrest (I’ll share that story later), emotional unrest. I was driving and frustrated with every motorist in front of me who was obviously moving waaaaay too slow, when the Holy Spirit said, “Bless yourself.” So immediately I said the following and I give this gift to you as well. It works. It really does:

(Say aloud) I bless myself with peace. I bless myself with peace. I bless myself with peace. (Immediately, my shoulders relaxed, and I felt the tension drain from my body and soul.) I bless myself with the attributes of heaven; peace, joy and goodness. I know that I am loved. Lynn, Jesus loves you. Lynn, Jesus loves you. Lynn, Jesus loves you. I bless the motorists around me with peace. I bless my home with peace. I bless my kids. I bless my husband. I love you Jesus. I love you Jesus. Holy Spirit fill my car. Fill my heart. Empower me to walk in your grace in this hour. Thank you, Jesus. I love you.

I want to offer you something else to ponder this season. Perhaps you can take this blessing to others. The power of blessing can change years of hurt. When I pray with people on the phone or in a Freedom Prayer session, we always come to a place where we bless those we are forgiving. We ask Jesus to bless them with what they need. And usually these people we have forgiven need a lot. So, bless them in your prayer time. Forgive and then bless.

To take this blessing a step further, at the dinner table, perhaps, you can say the blessing for the food. Or you can walk around the table and touch each shoulder and bless them with words of affirmation. Take advantage of this time when hearts are tender and share what you see as their potential.

For example, I would say something like this over Mike: I bless you today because you are a man of integrity. You are an amazing father. I bless you because you give of your heart to me and our children, and grandchildren. I bless you to be recognized at work for your long hours. Your ability to problem solve. I bless you to be respected and liked by your clients, and I bless you that bosses will love you. I bless you because you have loved me well. I bless you with the love of Jesus.

For my daughter: I bless you today because you have a heart of kindness. I bless you because you deeply care about orphans. I bless you today because you apply yourself to attain the goals set before you. I bless you with greater experiences of love with Jesus. I bless you because you are a loyal and true friend. I bless you because you carry a servant heart. I bless you to walk fully in all the Father has prepared for you. I bless you with the love of Jesus today.

These are short blessings and perhaps you can speak them out, perhaps you can only pray them in your prayer time. But, bless your family in this season. It may change the entire day, month and the years ahead.

My friend, Pam Farrel, wrote her blessing out one year and gave it to her father at Christmas, who was an alcoholic for her entire childhood. She grew up in a mismatched home. He wept. She wept. He began to ask her questions about Jesus in the months following. He gave his heart to Christ and that was the last Christmas he had on this earth.

OH, BLESS and do not curse. Love and let Jesus shine in you. Give Jesus your expectations and let Him overwhelm you with His surprises.

I love you SUMites. I truly LOVE you.

Taking the week off from here. See you after Christmas. Love, Lynn

Church Merry Christmas


Advent - God of Surprises

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Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I sat chatting with my publisher. We’d only just met face to face for the first time and here we sat, an Englishman and an Aussie, having a cup of tea (as in hot) in a café in a Nashville hotel. We were attending a Christian Writers Conference, he prospecting for new content and I hoping he’d give me an update on my manuscript that I’d sent through to his employer three months previous.

Unfortunately, Tony knew nothing about my manuscript. He was now a contractor to the business and so wasn’t involved in the day-to-day. I thought we’d end up having a nice chat about nothing in particular until he quickly changed the subject with the question: “Have you thought of writing non-fiction?” (for those of you who don’t know I write fiction).

My heart jumped a little. I’d come to the conference having played around with an idea for a non-fiction project to discuss with some of my writing friends and one in particular, our very own Dineen Miller. But I didn’t plan on pitching it, as this was a fiction conference so I naively thought who’s going to be interested in non-fiction? Well, Tony was.

Not being prepared, I babbled out an idea and it was clear to both Tony and I that all I had was a general concept. He kindly agreed to my suggestion of sending him a proposal in the next month.

As soon as I finished with Tony I sought out Dineen and with much excitement shared what happened.

I’ve attended two of these conferences now and both times the Lord has surprised me.

Mary

We’re all familiar with the story in Luke 1. Last week we looked at Gabriel surprising Zechariah with the news of a baby. In verses 26-38, Gabriel appears a second time to a poor Galilean peasant girl. Most commentators believe Mary was 13 or 14 years old. It was relatively common in those times for girls of this age to be married and pregnant and I’ve always loved the innocence of Mary’s question to Gabriel: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (v34 ESV)

This was only the first of a lifetime of surprises for Mary. God turned this girl’s life upside down in an instant.

Mary and Elizabeth

The surprises continue. And we’re still in Chapter 1. Mary’s now pregnant and she visits her cousin, Elizabeth who is now almost six months pregnant.

“and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit ”” (v40-42 ESV)

The babe inside Elizabeth, ie, John, leaped when Mary greeted Elizabeth. The spiritual electricity is hot. The baby senses the presence of the Messiah. And then Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit! Wow.

After this initial Holy Spirit-charged greeting, Mary, we’re told remained with Elizabeth for about three months. (v56) Here we have a 60-year-old woman, six months pregnant, with her fourteen-year-old cousin who was in her first trimester. Both women no doubt supported each other in very practical ways through their respective pregnancies. Just imagine some of their conversations! 

Can we presume Mary was present at the birth of John? Did she assist in the birth? Did she hear Zechariah speak his first words after being mute for nine months?

And then Mary went home. With a baby bump. Surprising her betrothed, their families and communities. I expect Mary would have been dreading that day of departure. 

How has God surprised you recently?

It didn’t take long for more surprises. Chapter 2 starts by telling us that the Romans are planning a census and everyone needed to go to their own towns to register. Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem “the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David” (v4) only for Mary to soon go into labour then giving birth to Jesus in a barn because the inn was full due to the influx of people registering.

The Messiah! Born in a barn? Another surprise.

As we journey closer to Christmas, now only 14 days away, may we all be surprised by our Lord. May we all have expectant hearts as we keep our eyes on Him.

When was the last time the Lord surprised you? It would be lovely for us all to share in each other’s surprises by adding them in the comments. I trust this will fill us with even more hope as we wait upon the Lord in this season of Advent.

Grace and peace,


Advent - Sharing the Longing

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One Bible story that I keep coming back to each Advent season is the one that features Zechariah and Elizabeth. I hadn’t spent a lot of time reflecting upon it until a few years ago when I began to observe Advent.

Most of you will know their story is briefly told in Luke 1 before Mary’s story. I’d encourage you to read it again (v5-25) and as we’ve done in the past read it meditatively. Perhaps listen to it and put yourself into the story. Imagine you are Zechariah or Elizabeth or one of the crowd and see what the Spirit reveals to you.

Longing

This couple was probably in their late 50’s or early 60’s. He was a respected Jewish priest and would have been highly thought of within society. However, even though holding an elevated position in society they were probably looked down upon.

Why? Scripture tells us the reason: 

“But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.” (v7)

Because child bearing and, particularly a son, were so significant in those times, Elizabeth was most likely not recognised and she would have carried great shame.

Besides the shame there would have been a deep deep longing. For a child. The preceding verse describes both as being blameless before the Lord. But still no child. Imagine their heartache, the number of answered prayers that had come from both of their mouths over perhaps forty-plus years.

We too experience a similar longing. For our spouses who don’t know the Lord yet. And the different life we might lead as a Christian couple. No more shying away, no more hiding in the background, no more missed opportunities, and no more sitting alone in church.

Astonishment and Doubt

Zechariah has an experience of a lifetime. He is fortunate to be the name drawn to have the honour of burning incense in to the temple of the Lord. This would have been a great day for him. 

And then he meets an angel. Not any angel. Gabriel, “who stands in the presence of God.” That angel. Many would have fainted I suspect … his presence would have been terrifying, bewildering and just weird.

The news Zechariah receives is astonishing. After all these years of waiting and longing, answered prayer, his dearest Elizabeth would bear … a son. And not just any son; but one that “will be great in the sight of the Lord.”

Hallelujah.

Zechariah is so astonished that he questions Gabriel. I think we all would under similar circumstances. And interestingly, Mary a few verses later, asks almost the identical question when Gabriel shares with her. (“Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” v34)

Doubt is part of the human condition. It is nothing to be ashamed of nor does it turn God away from us. He understands. Expressing our doubts to Him is okay. He wants us to share our doubts with Him. We only have to read the Psalms to see how David doubted.

Intercession by others

“And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.” (v10)

It’s easy to miss this verse. While Zechariah is in the temple, a multitude is praying. For him. Probably for Elizabeth. For their situation.

No doubt our couple had shared with many their sadness, their longing and yearning for a child. God doesn’t call us to journey alone. In seasons of doubt being able to share our situations can be beneficial not just to ourselves but those we share it with. When was the last time we shared our sadness about our situation with another? For most of the last twenty years, I wouldn’t say much at all unless directly asked. Recently, I mentioned it to someone in one of my prayer groups. And his first response was “that must be tough.” To which I nodded and said, “yep, it is.”

“Naming the ache of our yearnings is indeed faithful. It opens wide the gift of receiving and embracing the prayers of others.” (Enuma Okoro)

We’re blessed having this community where we can share our yearning and be praying for each other. Lynn, our ever faithful leader, a few weeks ago encouraged us to leave our spouses name in the comments so she could pray for each of us as couples. And I understand there is some wonderful sharing in the Facebook group.

If you are feeling particular sadness due to a longing in your heart or loneliness as Christmas approaches please share with us in the comments below so we can love over you with our prayers.

I had thought I’d write more on the next part of the story but I realise I’ve gone long enough so I'll leave it to next time.

Grace and peace, dear friends.


Advent - a Season to Remember and to Anticipate

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Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We got the call that our son and his wife had left for the hospital. Our excitement increased thinking the next time we hear from them they will share the wonderful news of becoming parents for the first time. And we’d be grandparents. Yay! We went to bed believing we’d wake to receive the news.

Morning came. Still in labour.

Lunchtime. Still going.

Staying focused on anything else was pretty difficult. The anticipation was thrilling. Words of encouragement for our son as he worried for the love of his life as she so bravely persevered.

Evening came. All was quiet.

We hoped and prayed for news and that they wouldn’t enter into a second night of labour.

Just after dinner, the text arrived. How our hearts jumped into our throats.

A son. A healthy boy. And mom is doing well after such a long pre-labour and labour. Oh, and new dad is coping too. Almost nine months they had waited for this moment. A moment they’ll never forget and cherish for as long as they live.

Such a blessing. Moses Maxwell. I am the grandfather of Moses! Ha.

Remembrance and Anticipation

Most of us have been there. For many, it’s a fairly recent experience. For others like me, it’s now twenty-plus years since our last children were born. But they are still moments that we can recall vividly.

I reflected often about my two birth experiences during my son and daughter-in-law’s pregnancy. I remembered as I anticipated the birth of their child.

Advent commences this Sunday (3 December). Advent is a time of waiting. The name Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Beginning each year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, Advent commemorates the birth of Jesus and also anticipates His return. As Ann Voskamp says we are “perpetual Advent people” waiting on Christ’s return.

During Advent we both remember and anticipate. We remember when Jesus became man and chose to live as one of us. We don’t just celebrate that He came, but also why He came.

We also anticipate His promised return. At Christmas we celebrate Jesus, His birth, but also that He will come again to make all things new.

“Jesus Christ has come, and He is coming again. This is the heart of Advent.” (He Reads Truth)

The Branch Gives us Hope

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;


    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)

Advent is all about hope. In the who is coming.

We can believe in that hope. Because He did come 2,000 years ago on that Christmas morn, born in a food trough, son to a teenage mom and her husband.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has come to us. He is in us and we are in Him.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has told us He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Even when our beloved doesn’t know Him.

Christmas can be a tough season for we SUMites because we choose to celebrate Jesus and not Santa. We pop off to church on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day, alone.

But remember Jesus understands loneliness. He understands being alone. He experienced it, himself. He understands rejection because He lived it.

He understands us. Really, truly! Because He has chosen each one of us.

Choose to remember Him when the enemy throws the darts of loneliness at you, when he tries to take away your joy in the One we celebrate.

I hope you are able to spend some time in the next few weeks reflecting on the hope of Advent. On Jesus. Allow His Words to “dwell in your richly.” Join me over these next four weeks as I share some more on this wonderful season of … remembering and anticipating.

Wishing all of my SUMite friends a blessed Advent season full of childlike hope and anticipation.

Grace and peace,


Need A Gift For Your Small Group, Bible Study Ladies, Special Friend?

I was on a walk-n-pray and God came up with this idea. Really!

Every holiday season, as a Bible study leader, I would give a small gift to each of the ladies in my group at Christmas. I would give a gift to my friends at church and my neighbors, friends who I do life with. It was always a struggle to come up with a great gift and no go bankrupt.

May I offer you a suggestion. You Are Loved, Bible study and Coloring book

YAL Book Pencils Holiday II 2017

This is a short, 24, page, fully illustrated, and written Bible study by our own, Dineen Miller. And right now through the end of November, you can order it for only $9.99. Add a box of colored pencils that you can pick up cheap at a discount store for .99 cents, tie a bow and add an ornament. Awesomeness.

YAL Book Pencils Holiday 2017

I would love to receive this gift! Now think about who you know would like to receive this gift from you this year? 

I put together this bundle below and it totaled $13. Add in ribbon and the postage and they are about $15 . A truly unique and faith-based gift for Christmas. I may give some of these to the women pastors at my church and my friends at Christmas Dessert. I may even send one to Dineen for Christmas. -just kiddin'.

YAL Wrapped 2017

If you want to order the books, click on the link below. This will take you to PayPal. Order the number you need and I will get them in the mail. 

Gang, I'm not so great at wrapping and decorating, so that is your part. Don't forget to buy the pencils. 

I feel such a beauty and excitement in this season....
I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES. DO YOU? 

You are Loved Coloring Bible Study
For a limited time only $9.99 

<<<<----- click here. Hugs, Lynn

Spending Time in the Secret Place

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Image courtesy of alex_ugalek at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s fast approaching the Christmas season when life can get especially busy. In addition, for we in mismatched marriages can have extra challenges as a result of a desire to intentionally reflect on the reason for the season. Jesus. Whether it’s attending gatherings with the church girls (or blokes), the various services our Church’s hold or even decorating our houses with symbols of our faith, we can all get a little self-conscious of doing things that our partners may not enjoy. And not to mention that we may be away from the house more often which can cause stress.

Often due to our busyness our time spent with the Lord may wane. There are only so many hours in the day, right?

The Secret Place

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6 NKJV)

 The Lord loves spending time with us. Often we think due to life’s demands spending time with our partners and family is the best solution, if only to keep the peace. But I’ve come to realize in fact that the best option is to spend time in the secret place.

“All fruitfulness flows from intimacy.” (Heidi Baker)

Check out the second sentence in the verse above: “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” The Message says “… and you will begin to sense his grace.” 

Reward. Grace. Yes, please.

I know this might be hard to read especially if home is a bit of a battlefield at the moment but I’ve learnt (and I’m sure Lynn, Dineen and others would also vouch for it too) that it’s in experiencing that intimacy with Jesus that peace does indeed come in our houses. Sometimes quite miraculously.

But the reward and/or grace shouldn’t be our motivation for spending time with God. Rather intimacy with Him. To know Him better and His deep deep love for us.

Listening to the Word

I mentioned in my comment to Dineen’s post last week that I sensed the Lord was drawing me back to His Word. My Bible study has been a little bit all over the shop in the past few months and I sensed the Lord saying to me to spend quality time in it. In John, specifically.

But before I dived into John I started reading a book on Lectio Divina that is a practice of enhanced listening and receptivity to what the Lord wants you to hear when reading His Word. I don’t want to spend time discussing the practice but more encourage you to read this passage from Hosea. Slowly. And mindfully. And receptively. And meditatively. With open hears as well as eyes.

Firstly, get somewhere quiet. Allow yourself 15 minutes, longer if you can. I appreciate those of you with little kiddies even that small amount of time can be difficult to get but I hope you might be able to grab it somehow.

Settle your heart. Take a few deep breaths so you can slow your mind down.

Ask the Lord to come close.

And read these verses twice over. Ideally, out loud. And slowly. And listen. What words jump out at you? Don’t worry if nothing does. The Lord works differently with all of us.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

16 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’;
    you will no longer call me ‘my master.’

I will betroth you to me forever;
    I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
    in love and compassion.
20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
    and you will acknowledge the Lord. (Hosea 2:14-16,19-20 NIV)

 

Now read the passage again and allow those words, phrases that grab you to fuel your imagination. Picture yourself with the Lord. Let the words speak even more deeply to you.

Share your thoughts with the Lord and if relevant connect your meditations to what’s happening in your day. Try to take your reflections with you through the day.

I hope you found this useful and I encourage you to continue the exercise with whatever your current Bible reading plan is. Perhaps reduce the number of verses you read a day and spend longer on fewer verses.

Dear loving Father, take us all further into the secret place that we might know your heart so that our lives can bring your glory. In Jesus name. Amen.

Love to read how you found it and what you heard the Lord saying to you. Please share it in the comments below if you are willing.

Grace and peace,