31 posts categorized "Church"

In My Circumstances Did I Learn to Love?

By Ann Hutchison Did I learn to love

I grinned at my friend, Amy*, as we sat cradling cups of steaming coffee, delighted to be together again after weeks of social distancing. How good it had felt to give her a hug hello an hour earlier. Now, happily reunited, here we sat in a bustling café.

Amy was one of my all-time favorites. Her faith is deep, she makes me crack up laughing, and our coffees often extend into hours. This time was no different. Chat chat chat, we went.

Then it happened. The conversation turned to her church, and she began to share how much she and her husband were enjoying their ‘small group’. Cheerfully, she began to describe the group: A group of couples. Each of the couples was so supportive, deeply connected to God, and yet there were no pretences there, they were very real about their struggles. She went on to describe how much they did together and the meals they had on Saturday nights.

This beautiful friend of mine was sharing with me her blessing. I knew the back story: She and her husband had previously struggled to build a couples social life. Given that, I should have been thrilled for her. But you know what? At the risk of sounding like a terrible person, I'm going to tell you: Something appeared in my heart that wasn’t of God. It was a prickle. A thorn. It bubbled up and I felt myself go Grr.

Envy. From my struggles of attending church alone I’m sorry to say that some unhealed prickles in my heart came to the surface. Uggh.

Envy hit me; and I could have batted it away. But instead I fed it a little. I sat there at that café table and began to feel it: Frustrated with the church social scene -- Well, frustrated with my inability to take part in it.

Oh dear! 

I suspect a few who are reading this can imagine the prickles. As SUMites we struggle to fit. We don’t blend easily with the couples crowd at church, and social events can be no-go zones. But that being what it is, once I got home I realized something from this café-table moment: I realized that I need to learn to be gracious within my own circumstances. I had a friend in front of me and she deserved my cameraderie. 

Importantly, God tells me to LOVE. 

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NKJV).

In fact, God is love. And then, here's the deal: 1 Corinthians 13:4 says "Love does not envy." Love does not envy. I suppose when we envy we are not appreciating our own blessings, and we are failing to rejoice with others.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice." (Romans 12:15, NIV)

Putting this together, then, I have a way forward: The next time my dear friend shares with me her blessing of this small group (which is a blessing), I'm going to do something different: Celebrate it!

This is just one story of my own, but I thought it was a good way of introducing our next series for September. Starting next Friday, the series is going to be called Did I Learn to Love?  and we'll be taking some of the words from 1 Corinthians 13 to chat about what they look like practically in our circumstances: SUM circumstances. 

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NKJV)

In these posts there might be the odd war story or two. After all, SUM living has a lot of material to work with, and it's pretty edgy. Our love challenge is not just about our spouses; it's also about learning to love the church, and others. So, let’s fasten our seatbelts ready for next Friday. Before then, though, Lynn and Ian will be back on Monday and Wednesday.

Which of those words in the passage above (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) is most challenging for you, and why? I'd love to hear a little of your own experiences.

Until next week!

Ann

* Not her real name


JESUS AND THE CHURCH ARE THE ULTIMATE MISMATCH

Wedding Supper of the LambLynn here. THIS IS FROM THE LORD!

The entirety of our years on earth are rushing, headlong toward ONE SPECIFIC DAY! A Day that’s been destined in our future for eternity. A day the has been promised before time began. The greatest day of all eternity!!!

The wedding supper of the Lamb!

And SUMITE NATION, we have been given a beautiful gift that most the rest of the world completely cannot grasp.

We have been walking this spiritual mismatch with a human spouse for years. AND, OH, WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW!

  • We understand what it feels like to be a spouse who loves in the face of pain, rejection, and disappointment. —Just like Jesus loves His Bride.
  • We feel deeply the struggle to build a moral family life, raise children and grow in our faith without the support of the one we chose to be our life partner. —Just like Jesus!
  • We pray without ceasing for our spouse of this world to be awakened and embrace the Living and True God. —Just like Jesus!
  • We sacrifice dreams of life together in harmony, church attendance, strong family and ministry with our spouse. —Just like Jesus!

WE THE UNEQUALLY YOKED. We understand Jesus. He lives in this scenario with 7.5 billion human souls that He died to save, heal, and set free. We see it so clearly. We understand Jesus. We know how He feels. He grieves over the lost and broken of this world, the spiritually mismatched Bride.

But through the long years of faithful perseverance we comprehend the heart of Christ for us, our family, our spouse, and humanity.

  • And just like Jesus, we will never surrender hope and will fight hell itself for the souls of those we love.
  • And just like Jesus, we will always believe a heart and a home can and will be redeemed and changed.
  • And just like Jesus, we know without-a-doubt that all things are working for our good to the glory of the Father.
  • And just like Jesus, we believe that it’s the goodness of God that leads to repentance.

Today, and every day, we continue to stand in the gap for a lost generation of spouses that are cloaked in darkness. And we stand alongside Jesus.

My SUMite brothers and sister, we know this better that any other person on the plant. Because we live this out every…..single…..day.

Jesus always believed for us. And in response we have followed His example in very challenging and extraordinarily difficult marriages. And in seasons when our heart breaks and disappointment vows to swallow us up, just like Jesus, WE WILL NOT RELENT! Jesus will never stop hoping, interceding, protecting and believing for us.

We can, AND WILL, do the same for a lost and broken man or woman.

AND YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE WE ARE THE CHURCH!!!!!!!!

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah!

For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” —Revelation 19:6-9

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. —Hebrews 12:22-23

So what say you, Church??? Will you be at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Will you be standing by your spouse, your children, grandchildren and their children’s children?

This is this your legacy! YOU are the one person who took one small brave step into faith and you changed an entire family line for a thousand generations. Let revelation bring this profound truth of your life’s impact for the Kingdom of God into your reality today. Then sing, praise, and walk in complete faith.

We have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony!! THAT is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  Hallelujah!!!

I love you SUMite Nation! March ON!!!  The world is the Lords and we shall see every knee bow to the name of our beloved, Jesus Christ. Hallelujah. AMEN Hugs, Lynn


A Royal Wedding and Our Earthly Marriages

Hi friends, Ann here.

I remember, as a 5-year-old girl, being mesmerized by the wedding of Lady Diana and Prince Charles of England in 1981. Little girls are funny like that. They can be the ultimate dreamers. Knowing this, my mum bought me a little hard-backed book about the wedding and I would pore over it.  Ladybird book

Now, sometimes God romances us. I’d forgotten about that little book, but last night he brought it back to me by popping images of Lady Di's dress into my head. He seemed to be saying, “Remember this? Remember how much you liked it?” It was a sweet Father-God moment. "You're still that little girl to me."

Every detail of Lady Di's preparation was exquisite. It surely brings to life what it means when the Bible says Jesus is preparing for himself a glorious 'bride' (Ephesians 5:25-27).

It also brings to life a lesser known passage in scripture that has recently caught my attention. Ezekiel 16:9-13 describes the care that God takes when he is preparing a people who are his. It's worth reading a few times over: 

“ ‘I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine’ says the Lord God. 'Then I washed you in water; yes I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty' ” (Ezekiel 16:9-13, NKJV)

Sadly, this passage is followed by a description of how God’s people turned their back and it is yet another caution to us. As I said on Monday, 'Help us, Jesus!' But for today's post I think this scripture is a great one for illustrating the amount of effort and care Jesus puts into our beauty.

Often we won't see what Jesus is doing. During this COVID time, for example, we're having tough tests. But in it I am sure he is adorning us in different ways. He might be strengthening our faith, sharpening our eyes, refining our tongues, softening us in our mercy towards others, or making us more obedient. All of this happens through a shaking. Whatever needs doing in our faith lives, he will be doing it. If we yield to it, we will come out more beautiful than before.

As for our marriages, is there a lesson there? Well, it tells me that if Jesus makes that much effort to make me beautiful, shouldn't I also put the same effort into my husband?

What effort can I make? Here are a few thoughts that spring to my mind from scripture:

1. Pray for him every single day (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

2. Respect him with the words I speak to and about him (1 Peter 3:1-2)

3. Bless him with the words I speak about him (James 3:1-10)

4. Bring him truth with wisdom and kindness (Proverbs 31:14 & 26)

For sure, none of these points are easy because marriage is a place of growth. But with Jesus Christ adorning us and propping us up, we can give this thing a good go. 

How else can we put effort into our spouse’s spiritual life?  I would love to hear your ideas in the comments.


Jesus and the Church: The Ultimate Marriage Story

Hi friends, Ann here!Bride of Christ

I hope you've enjoyed our race through different Bible marriages this summer. We had much to look at and there were some marriages we didn’t even cover, such as Hosea's. Alas, summer is nearly over.

In the middle of this summer study I received a message from one of our friends, Libby Finan. Libby often has great words for this community, and what she said was this (paraphrased by me):

“I think I hear the Holy Spirit say that Jesus and the church are the ultimate unequal relationship. You could write about that next?”

“Sounds great!” I responded, ready to rise to the challenge. But where could I start? The one question I have is, "Lord, what are you wanting us to know?"

In scripture, as you know, there are a few passages about our Lord, Jesus, and his church, but we'll start with this one:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to Himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:25-33 (ESV)

Marriage, the joining of a man and woman surely is a mystery. It's delicious and difficult all in one go. But Jesus and the church being unequal? That is an interesting truth: Positionally, we are sanctified through our union with him. But in practice we might not always walk in line. Help us, Jesus! 

In our summer study we've considered different kinds of spiritual mismatch. We’ve noticed a mismatch can be nuanced or extreme. Sometimes it is simply that one partner is quicker to recognize the Holy Spirit than the other. Other times it’s more extreme. Perhaps it is like that for Jesus in his relationship with different Christians.

Jesus loves us. And he is not going anywhere. That we know. But just because he loves us it doesn’t mean he isn't grieved by some of his church's choices. This is hard to say, but in the New Testament it is a clear message. Revelation chapters 2 and 3, for example, set out various problems in the church, from being 'lukewarm' to 'loveless' to 'lawless' to 'dead'. It is a hard truth. In the midst of all this, Jesus wants a spotless bride. 

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8, KJV)

If I reflect on this, I think about our heavenly bridegroom being delighted by parts of the church's progress, but also feeling her faithlessness in other parts. At times he will sit back, watch the church face the consequences of its choices, and grieve. 

And so, my friends, could it be that our experience of tenderly caring for a ‘more worldly spouse’ is exactly what Jesus does with his church? Does Jesus watch his church and think “I love them so much. I'm fully committed. But I wish their focus would be adjusted?” 

That’s convicting. In fact, when I started writing this post I didn't quite expect it would turn out this way. But hey. I will listen for more of his voice. Truly, listening is the best thing we can do, especially at this time when the world is going through something of a wake-up call and we need to represent him.

My prayer today, then, is this:

Lord Jesus, help me take care how I hear. Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit in me. And Lord, make me the bride you want me to be. Always yours. Amen.

I'll be back on Friday, to talk about a different facet of Jesus and his church. Meanwhile, feel free to share in the comments any thoughts that come to mind. 

Ann


The Day My Church Friends Came to Dinner

By Ann Hutchison

“How would you and your husband like to come for dinner?” A dear church friend threw her arm around my shoulder one Sunday, extending her hospitality. You prepare a table for me

My heart began to pound. Not this again. Inwardly, one word hit my brain. “Nooooooo!”

I smiled as best I could and said, “That’s really nice. Um. Can I just think about it?” She looked puzzled. “Sure.”

Here’s my deal: My husband loves people, and we don’t find it difficult to talk to strangers. But, when it comes to church I personally have a mountain of complexities in my head. Truth be told, the idea of us going to a church friend’s house made me feel sick with nerves. Why on earth, I wonder? This needed to be analysed, and so here’s what I realized:

‘Church’ represented something that came between me and Bryce to such a degree that it jeopardized our marriage. Since then I’ve feared bringing church people into our lives in case it jeopardizes ‘us’ again.

That’s what’s been in my head; and consequently I’ve kept that part of my life neatly separate. Non-Christians have long been my preferred dinner guests because that felt more comfortable. I always thought it was for him, but perhaps it was really about my comfort levels.

That was until a few weeks ago when a chain of events led to us welcoming into our home the pastor and his wife for dinner. This was certainly the crossing of a new frontier, and as they say in space terms, ‘a giant leap for Ann-kind’. Or SUM-kind.

The leap was sparked one night after we’d come home from dinner out with our usual friends. As always, I felt slightly sad from the evening, purely because of the unbelief. You know how it is. It’s normal these days so I didn’t say anything to Bryce, but he could tell. This particular evening, he watched me from across the kitchen and seemed to resonate more than usual. Eventually, he came out with a suggestion:

“I think we should hang out with a wider variety of people. Different kinds of people.”

Wary of seeming like I didn’t love our friends I began to protest, but he pressed me again, suggesting I invite someone new over, and then these words came:

“Why don’t you ask someone from church? Just make sure it’s no one weird, ok?”

Even though I myself am reasonably weird, weirdness seems to be his main concern. So, ok, it seemed we had a deal. And I laughed.

My task was thus set and I thought I’d better do it quickly before I freak and back out. But who at church should I ask? Well, one couple seemed obvious. They had boys the same ages as ours, and the male of the family likes sport, as does my hubby. Importantly, there wasn’t a shred of weirdness there. “Right then,” I decided, drew my phone to me, and did it quickly. I texted an invite and clicked SEND.

Here’s the fun bit: That couple also happen to be the pastors of my little church. So, after they’d texted back “Yes!” I realized this could go one of two ways: Very well, or quite awkwardly.

As I write, the dinner has come and gone, and I’m pleased to report I have a smile on my face. Here’s my spiritual observation of the day: When God gave pastors to the church, they were a gift from Christ. I hadn’t really thought of this before, but on the night it was clear that these two were the perfect ones to be sitting at our table. Pastors have strong, sensitive hearts for people. They were to my right at the table. To my left, there sat Bryce, relaxed and, in true extravert form, enjoying the fact there were some new and interesting people at his table.  

Indeed, on the night of the dinner, with so many boisterous boys in the room, our guests, and my cheery husband, the air was filled with chatter. I was left feeling that ‘the church’ had done us some good. In closing, I will say I couldn’t imagine this happening any earlier. However, in God’s perfect timing things happen seamlessly. What a relief!

Now your turn: Have you socialized yet with church friends?


One Flesh: Stop Tugging Me!

By Ann Hutchison One flesh  SUM

I have an analogy that I often use when I begin to feel challenged by spiritual difference in marriage. It’s this: My husband and I are like conjoined twins. We're one flesh.

Does that resonate with you? I pull in one direction, spiritually; he might say ‘No!’ and before we know it we’re yanking and straining, stretched beyond possibility. Sometimes it gets too much; then one of us will yell: “Stop it! Ouch!” Being one flesh, we are knit together intensively.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 (NKJV)

Thinking about this whole 'one flesh' thing, I decided to watch a documentary on conjoined twins. It might sound bonkers, but that is genuinely how I feel in spiritual terms. He is my other half. Anyway, others’ paths are good to watch, and wow what a path. In this documentary I was struck by one particular pair who were middle-aged and clearly different to each other. In the documentary, it interested me that they have taken decades to work together. I think a SUM can follow this progression too: with time we get a little gentler.

For example, I look back and cringe thinking about the time I said to my husband, “I’m so lonely being a Christian!” Good one, Ann, how did that make him feel? He threw a shocker back: “You’re a supernatural junkie!” At that, I bawled. These were not our finest days.

There are many curious ways ‘one-flesh’ plays out in a spiritually different marriage. There's the fact our resources are joint. If I spend my time on anything related to God, something at home gets waylaid. Often, the washing up or laundry. We all know that it’s busy running a home, so my use of time matters. Essentially, my stewardship of what God has given me affects my husband.

This one flesh thing is shown here, also:

The wife hath not power of her own body but the husband: and likewise also, the husband hath not power of his own body but the wife. 1 Corinthians 7:4 (KJV)

Although that verse is about sexual intimacy, it does reveal our conjoined condition.

So far, ok. But now here’s the added curve-ball that has – at points – sent me over the edge: We’re also one with the church (Ephesians 4:16). And how on earth does that work, when our partner doesn’t want in? I genuinely feel a connection with other believers, but it is Catch 22. Are we conjoined triplets: husband, wife, church? One thing's for sure, it's not comfy. Is three a crowd, or a three-fold cord?

Here's one little way I tense up: I can talk about God with other believers until the cows come home. But, when that happens there’s sometimes a check into my spirit. I become mindful of not being too tight with Christian friends at the expense of my husband. I suppose I make sure those friendships fit into my life with him, and this is a balancing act that I think carefully about.

On the topic of Christian friendships, though, I did have an a-ha moment that helped me. It came from Genesis 1:24: God designed a man to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. From this verse I was able to see that my Christian friends are brothers and sisters, but like father and mother they are secondary family compared to my husband. My relationship with him is tops. After God, of course.

Another thing that helped me was this: God made the wife-husband relationship to be physically intimate, which is something no other relationship has. That intimacy tells me something about the degree to which my relationship with my hubby is beyond any other. It’s in my power to protect that secret place that mirrors the intimacy we have with God (Psalm 91:1). And, if I protect that secret place in marriage, I’m honoring God’s design.

So, those are my musings today. I will be the first to say I have made many silly mistakes in my marriage. Bryce and I have been married twenty years now, which is ample time to accumulate successes and some less fine moments. But one flesh we are, and we try to walk it well.

Now over to you, my SUM friends: What challenges does the 'one flesh' condition raise for you, and how do you tackle them?


MORE From The Summit...

Hey SUM family, Tiffany Here! 

During the leader's meeting on the Friday morning before the conference I said I would share a spoken word piece during the offering time. I didn't have anything prepared at the time of volunteering. In fact I just heard the words come out of my mouth. You know those moments when you realize after the fact that you were pushed into things by the Holy Spirit? Maybe it's just me. It happens quite often. *grin*

The rest of the day seemed to fast forward pretty quickly. Filled with fellowship, food and fun. I was exhausted after the meet and greet at Lynn's house - in a good way - and went to bed shortly after everyone left. Saturday morning I wake up and realize that I didn't take time to prepare a spoken word! Out of desperation I laid flat on my back with my arms outstretched (my body in the shape of a cross) and said, "Holy Spirit, I need You to give me a spoken word for today. I want those who hear it to feel your deep love. I want them to know that they can have a close relationship with You. Give me something."

In that moment of asking Him, I could feel the atmosphere change in the room. It was like He was waiting for the invitation to share what was in the deep recesses of His heart. The following is the spoken word. I have posted it on Facebook so it may be a repeat for some. In my humble opinion, Holy Spirit really delivered!

More, Tiffany Carter, 4/6/19

 

Remember when I first revealed myself to you?

The relief you felt?

Just wait there’s more.

 

Remember when you heard me speak life into your bones?

The comfort you felt?

Just wait there’s more.

 

Remember when you received my loving embrace?

The warmth you felt?

Just wait there’s more.

 

Remember when you needed Me and cried out for help?

The deliverance you felt?

Just wait there’s more.

 

Remember when you sought me for clarity?

The answers you felt?

Just wait there’s more.

 

More. Love that is unendable. River w SUM logo

More. Passion that is unshakable.

More. Desire that is unquenchable.

More. Joy that is uncontainable.

More. Intimacy that is unthinkable.

More. Wisdom that is unmatchable.

More. Peace that is uncontrollable.

More. Power that is undeniable.

More. Faith that is unbeatable.

MORE.

 

Remember when you stepped into your destiny and calling?

The freedom you felt?

My beloved child…

Just wait.

There’s MORE.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (TPT) - Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.  Now we offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ—and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen!

Do you want more? I know that I sure do!

Let's talk in the comments. In these weeks since the conference, what are some things that God has been showing you? How has He shown up in your life personally? In reference to Libby's visions, how have you been feeling the residual affects of the river flowing from the conference? I love you all.


A Full Coffee Measure

Hi everyone, Ann here! Coffee measure

Some SUM moments are so tough they’re funny when you look back, and I couldn’t resist sharing one with you. It was the time a well-meant speaker at church said these words from the pulpit:

“Every year my wife and I sit down and decide how much to give to church.” 

I'm afraid that did it for me. I crumpled into a self-pitying heap in the back of church. See, I’d been attending for months, and gave nothing. Not a dollar. I hadn’t felt able to ask it of my husband.

It was painful, I guess, because my heart badly wanted to give. I knew the pastor needed to at least eat. I knew God wants us to financially support the one who sacrifices their life for that work, so that they can survive (Gal 6:6).

Eventually, I asked, saying to my husband, “Look, I at least need to cover the cost of the teabags I’m consuming.” Point taken. “How much are you thinking?” he said. I put forward an amount the size of the widow’s coin (Mark 12:42). “That’s substantial,” he said. Any money going to a church was a sacrifice on his part.

Both of us made a sacrifice that day out of love. We agreed on that small amount.

This was step one in my giving. But months passed and a new conviction came. I wanted to support some of the other ministries that have helped me: They too need money to function. But how could I?

I went for months feeling convicted and frustrated until, one day, I seemed to hear God whisper: “How about you give me $5, Ann?” I had a sense this had something to do with coffee.

It took a while to get it, but eventually an a-ha moment came. It seemed God was saying this:

“Why don’t you go without a latte and give that amount to a ministry?”

What a great idea! My daily latte was a highlight. I could still get a coffee in the kitchen at work; but the bought latte was the ‘fat’, like Abel’s best sheep in Genesis 4:4. "Ok, God," I said. “It’s a deal!” 

Once again I approached my husband. “Um, you know I like lattes. I’d like to do without those and donate the $5 to some ministries that have helped me.” Graciously, he agreed. So it began. He would see the occasional bank item for “xyz ministries,” sometimes he’d ask me, and I’d say “coffee money.”

It was always nerve-wracking, but one night I couldn’t believe it when he thanked me. Thanked me!?  He said, “I really appreciate how you’ve thought about my feelings. Thank you.” My heart soared. I felt like God had given me a strategy to give my best: not just to Him, but also to my husband. As we often say here, honoring our spouse is honoring God.

That was a while ago now, and I’ve moved past the coffee method to other ways of giving. But lately I’ve felt God show me something about that situation that brought new perspective. It came in the form of a vision. In this vision, all I saw was a little coffee scoop and that scoop was filled with oil, pouring over.

I wonder if you’ll see the meaning of this picture quicker than I did, but I didn’t get it (that’s always a sign to me that I couldn’t have made it up!) It took me a few days, and then I went “Ohhhh, Wow!” It’s a visual of this:

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 (NKJV).


I struggle to convey everything this means to me, but oil, in scripture, symbolizes the Holy Spirit, His anointing, His light, His glory, His crowning. SUMites, for some of us our giving feels as small as the widow’s penny in Mark 12:42. Yet, God knows exactly what it cost us. His eyes fall on us in return. Pressed down. Overflowing. A latte looks small but, to me, it wasn't; And I now know what follows.

I’d love to hear your adventures with giving. What kinds of things have you learned, or how are you finding it?

Lovely chatting

Ann


Deliverance After YEARS Of Torment! Hallelujah!

Hello SUM Family, Tiffany Here!

The last couple of months I have been sharing a bit about what I have learned from reading a book called From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris. I was assigned to read this book in class and I am so glad that I read it! This book has been truly amazing. To read the previous two posts I've written in this "mini-series" click on the links below.

This Is Just The Pits!

Do You Want Evidence Or The Truth?

In September I began to take steps to transition into a new church. As you read this, I have now been at this new church for 3 weeks. Each and every week has been so powerful and effective. Today I want to share with you a recent experience unlike anything I've ever had. It happened a little over a week ago on October 14, 2018. The following is what I posted the next day on Facebook (sharing here as well since a lot of you may not have Facebook or seen it because we aren't "friends"):

 Worship at Hub is amazing. God is there. Holy Spirit presence is thick and tangible. We were singing a song I had never heard before. The lyrics were powerful and the words that floored me at the time were talking about laying my whole life down before Jesus our Savior. I was already worshipping on my knees but I couldn't help but crouch face down before God. I felt so heavy and overloaded. I was just crying and crying before God. My words spoken in tears and sobs. All of a sudden it was like God said, "get up." Not in an angry way but an empowering way...if that makes sense. I sat up and it was like I saw myself in the place of the woman caught in adultry that was brought before Jesus. The crowd, stones in hand set to stone her. Jesus calmly and matter of factly said, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." Slowly, one by one the people left. Once everyone was gone, I pictured Jesus Freedom foreverlift up my chin so I would look him in the eyes. Crouched on the ground seeing His eyes intent on mine. Looking into my soul. Just like He did with the woman that day, He said, "who condemns you?" Looking around I reply, "No one Sir." In that instant...I felt all the weight of condemnation lifted. It was like I had an hour long deep tissue massage. Every fiber of my  being, relaxed and stress free. I realized later after worship and after the service...reflecting on what happened in that moment. Those people standing and surrounding me so quick to condemn and judge...were different versions of ME. How often I have shot myself down, I have stoned myself for a mis-spoken word, a harsh tone, a forgotten task, a wrong thought...I have been stoning myself for years and as God clearly told me to get up - it was giving me my life back. It was His GRACE UPON GRACE. His mercy. His true love. He doesn't keep record of wrongs...and neither should I. NO LONGER DO I. This morning, as life went on as usual...I reacted in ways I am tyring to change (short with my daughter when she cries about everything she wears - meltown after meltdown this morning and my shortness with her, attitude from tired children, etc) but the major difference was this. No one condemns me...not even myself. I made a mistake, asked for forgivenenss and moved on. The first instance my flesh tried to condemn me I heard the words "no one Sir." Loud and clear and it reminded me of the freedom that I was given. Once and for all. I will never go back. Once that transaction was finished Jesus said, "Go and sin no more." Can you image the freedom, the joy, the apreciation she felt with that moment? I can...because I do.

 You may have to click on the picture to better see but I found the moment in worship where this exchange happened. Today I stand free from years of mental torment. As I think about this moment it still brings tears to my eyes because every moment since then has been a blessing. Please know that it doesn't mean that I am perfect or care free. I still have some struggles that God is working on in me. Holy Spirit is still pruning and I've got a lot of work to do. However, I am no longer hopeless.

I've gone a little long this time so let me wrap up with this:

I have been blessed to be a blessing. So today, I bless you with joy unspeakable; freedom from weight (even YEARS worth) of torment - mental, emotional, spiritual, physical; victory beyond belief; confidence in your Daddy; hope to weather the storm; faith, life, salvation for your spouse and loved ones; light in the darkness; advancement in the Kingdom where you feel backslidden; fire shut up in your bones; fight and fierceness; and love beyond compare.

Below is the song that brought me to the feet of Jesus and ushered me into freedom.

See you in the comments. I would love to pray over you for your own deliverance.


Learning to Receive Love

Photo-1478562672393-2412e5b9d634
Photo credit: Austin Neill

Hi everyone, Ian from Sydney here. 

For most of my SUM married life I thought I was okay doing the Christian life on my own. I’m an introvert by nature and enjoy my own company and for a number of years struggled with being in crowded situations. I still do and will usually choose to sit on the end of rows in any theatre or auditorium. This is purely a relief mechanism so that I know I can ‘get out’ quickly if I need to.

As we’ve talked about many times over the years, it’s often easier for us Christians to maintain peace in our households by not engaging too much in church activities and such like. I’ve actually been very blessed by my wife who has always actively encouraged me to attend church: she knows it’s good for me. However, I resisted for years getting involved in other activities. I typically engaged in things that could be done at home (eg, virtual prayer team) and things I could do on my own, ie, reading/studying/quiet time.

Don’t get me wrong; I particularly enjoy one-on-one conversation and rarely struggle chatting with people. I work on the principle that ‘everyone likes to talk about himself or herself’ and so very easily slip into asking people questions about their life. I can easily spend a decent amount of time with someone and know a reasonable amount about them and they’ll be none the wiser about me. I mostly go away feeling pretty content.

Fell in Love

A few years ago something changed. I feel in love. With Jesus. I’m not exactly sure of the date and time but it occurred around the time I was invited to join one of our prayer teams that involved meeting fortnightly. In addition, we were asked to attend another weekly prayer session that met for one hour each Wednesday night with an expanded group of between 15-20 people.

It was an honour to be asked to join this group. Its leader was the Prayer Pastor for my church and she has a wonderful relationship with the Lord. The group had been together for a number of years and there was this unity and connection that I soon came to desire. Not just with each other but with the Lord.

Unlearning

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m an avid learner. Everyday I seek to learn. But interestingly as I mature I realise the importance of “unlearning.” There are so many habits we develop that can only be changed by incorporating new ones and unlearning the existing ones. As I was thrust into these two groups I was learning habits of prayer and worship but at the same time having to let go or unlearn others that I had held onto for so many years.

The Power of Community

Part of this process of unlearning I’ve found requires a willingness to receive. A willingness to open up and allow others to love me, to teach me, be willing to sit at their feet and learn. This can involve moments of tremendous vulnerability. And learning to trust.

I’ve discovered that in my habits of relationship of learning lots about the other I have inadvertently ‘closed’ myself off from others. I wasn’t allowing them to love me. Yes, I expect this behaviour started in my teens and has simply continued. Habits are like that. Am I afraid of revealing myself? Sure. I must be. But it’s also brought me much frustration regarding my friendships. It takes two to tango doesn’t it? 

We were made for community. God is communal in His very nature- three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And we are formed in His image. Therefore, for us to achieve all we are to as humans we require some form of community.

So we can only mature in our relationship with the Lord in a communal context. Yes, it’s critical we develop sound disciples of solitude, silence and prayer in the secret place but we also need community. For many of us we've discovered the wonders of being members of this community and some special friendships have developed as a result.

“Grace is a community you enter.” (Bill Thrall and Bruce McNichol)

Grace is a concept that I’m only now really beginning to understand. I’ve probably limited it to the notion that it is “unmerited favour” but now I’m coming to realise it is all around us. It is what God is. Grace is always available. We’ve just got to enter into it.

Loving community is a place where grace resides. Jesus is in the centre of it.

Humility and Grace

This is another concept I’ve probably misunderstood. “Humility is trusting God and others with me. Humility is not only how you enter this community, it is how you live in it everyday.” (Thrall and McNichol)

When we trust, we open the door for grace to walk in. This activates the Lord’s power to work in our life. To change our habits, to rid us of sin, to love more generously and compassionately, and so on. I’ve witnessed this in my own life these past few weeks as I shared one of my struggles with my wife and a good friend. Almost immediately as a result of both of their non-judgmental acceptance and love, the struggle has lost much of its power.

I’d love it if others were able to share instances of when you’ve seen “grace walk in” and change elements of your life.


The Finest Food and Drink

Hi everyone, on the last day of our fast - we are so close to the finish line!Somewhere over the rainbow  SUM

It’s been wonderful adventuring with you and, as always, we’ve made memories. I often think of this site as a memorial of where we’ve been. I can just imagine sitting in a rocking chair as an old lady, looking back.

Today we’re going to take communion together; it is the finest food and drink. In giving us this bread and wine, it is as if God has set us the most wonderful table; one we really cannot imagine.

In today’s post I’d like to tell you about a treasured item that frames my home. I’ll tell you about it, and then we’ll have communion.

Several years ago, when my husband and I bought our house, we decided to put in a new front door. We wanted one with a stained-glass window, and so we drew a picture and had the window made. That was before ours became a Christian home. With the window and door in place, we then moved in. It was only four months later that my heart began to turn to God. It was as if the new house came with a turning point in our family’s faith life.

WindowI’ve included a photo of the window. Maybe you’ll be like me and won’t see it straight away – In fact, I have lived with this window for six years, but only recently seen it: It’s the cross, with the blood at the bottom, and new life (green) in the middle. My husband and I, as unbelievers, agreed that picture and had it made. It was a foreshadowing: God always knew what our home - all SUMite homes -- would stand for. Now, I often sit on the couch, see colors shine through the window, and smile. 

"For as for me and my house we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

Would I declare that verse so determinedly if I wasn’t a SUMite? Possibly not. For me, it has taken a great deal of resistance-training to make a declaration like that so firmly.

Now for our communion time.

His Blood

“Then He took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant., which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:27 (NKJV)

His blood, liberally poured, flows abundantly to the foot of the cross. Full of Life itself, its levels rise, overcoming all that it is meant to cover. The joy set before Him at the foot of the cross is brought to fruition.

His Body

“Jesus took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Matthew 26:26 (NKJV)

His body, resurrected, brings verdant Life to all who digest it. Like the green at the cross’s heart, it represents all things new: New creations, new growth, that ‘something new’. Like the diamond, it is the most precious of substances, and it sparkles as His covenant to His precious Church.

SUMites, have a beautiful rest of the fast, and I'd love to hear in the comments how this week has been for you. What has your experience been this time round?

In love,

Ann


Conflict Is Finished. Now Jesus

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSUMite Nation,

Well I’m feeling we are at the close of our month-long classroom regarding conflict. And you may not feel as though it was worthy of your time but in the future, the truths of how to approach conflict with other believers will return to your mind and you will walk through it Biblically, work through forgiveness and seek restoration when possible.

What is really weird is that this month, personally, I’ve worked through conflict with believers, unbelievers, family and more. Guess Jesus wanted me to be ready for the conflict that is surely ahead in my life.

I want to leave you with a portion of an email I sent out the other day. I believe it holds Biblical wisdom for us all.

I want to point out that in the Bible, Peter and Paul experienced great conflict over circumcision and food laws, so much so, that this conflict was preserved in the Holy Word. The message for us today is that Peter was raised up to speak to the Jews and Paul the Gentiles. They would not see some matters of faith the same and that was okay. It was okay to disagree. If this can happen with the Apostles of Christ, we also will have disagreements that are similar in our day and age. AND IT IS OKAY!

Today I read in my Daily Bible:

Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor;

    only fools insist on quarreling. —Proverbs 20:3

and all of God children said……….   AMEN!

Okay, beginning next week let’s talk about Jesus. I’m so excited to share with you what Jesus is doing in our world. Who Jesus is to me and hear who He is to you in your current season. Also I can’t wait to discuss the details of all that He made available  to us as followers as well as our mandates Christ has asked/commanded of us. Even typing the word, Jesus, my spirit stirs and I feel a swirl of joy in my center. I think we will poke about in the Gospels for a while.

Did you know Jesus said this? 

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. —Mark 16:17-18

I’ve experienced each of these four components of this passage recently and I can’t wait to share the story with you.

What do you think?  I bet Jesus has much to say about how we love one another, and especially how we love our spouse. I'm convinced that the best way to move ourselves away from conflict is through LOVE. And Jesus is love. 

Let's do this thing!!!!!

Hey do any of you creative SUMites have a cool graphic of Jesus that I could use during this series? If so, email it to me with your permission to use it. NEAT!!!!

I love you my family on the web. We ARE THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD. And we will impact our world for the cause of Christ Jesus. Hallelujah! SUMites Nation…. Pray on! Hugs, Lynn


Church - My Hardest Act

Hi everyone, Ann here!

My husband and I have been 'spiritually different' for almost five years now, and it’s become easier for us both. However, there is one thing that continues to floor me and I thought I’d share it with you today. 

It’s this:  Backpack pic

The act of giving my husband a kiss goodbye on a Sunday morning, getting in the car, and turning on the ignition to go to… church. 

Hubby and I are like peas and carrots, we’re a packaged pair, and this whole walking out the door on a Sunday feels somehow wrong. Or is it?

Each Sunday morning I drive through the quiet city, and the minute I turn on worship music it sends an oomph to my heart. At that moment the disconnect between that music and the breakfast clatter I've just left feels stark.

I reach the church car-park and walk towards the hall. The sound of singing wafts out. It occurs to me every single week how weird he would find that.

And then I walk in.

“Do I need to be doing this?” I ask myself quite often. “Will I look back and regret having left him for so many Sundays?” 

Last week I asked those questions again, just as I was getting out the car at the supermarket. A phrase came to mind: Lean not on your own understanding (From Proverbs 3:5-6). I paused, took a breath, and changed tack:

“God, I need to acknowledge you in this. Help me?”

Seconds later, I walked into the supermarket and right there in the entrance was someone from church. He said, “Great to see you, Ann, see you on Sunday!” Um.. Ok.

This journey of whether to go to church is one that has evolved over five years. Initially, 'church’ was a couple of Christian acquaintances on Facebook who helped me with my questions and thoughts. Bryce called them my ‘Christian cronies’, he didn’t mind. More importantly, I spent hours with God on my couch, scripture on my lap, with endless cups of tea. It was a time of learning.

However, the Holy Spirit began to urge me to go and be physically present with the Church where it gathered. It was a gentle but growing conviction.

“Mm?” I responded. “Yes, I suppose I am a wanderer, with a backpack on my back. Perhaps I do need to settle.” One thing led to another and I found myself visiting a church that met in a converted carpark building. It was a bit unpolished round the edges, and I liked it. Sitting at the back, I thought I’d be unnoticed. Yeah right. Not when God is in charge. Suddenly, the pastor says into the mic:

“I feel there’s someone here who has a backpack on their back and God is saying to them, now you can unpack. Make yourself at home!”

Hilarious! So I did. I tried to join small groups and such things. And it was at this point that Bryce expressed how profoundly he disagreed.

He never stopped me from going, nor did he question my faith; it was purely about how he felt about churches. I became extremely uncomfortable pursuing something he fundamentally disagreed with. Over the months, then, I repeatedly stopped going.

Ultimately, I could stop no longer, though. Why? Because God made it clear that He wanted me at that little church on a Sunday morning. The pull was unavoidable.

So church it is, and we've had to learn to cope. I’ve begun to get inklings about why God wants me there. There are specific people for whom I'm there. One of them is a fellow SUMite. We wave at each other across the room. If it's just for that wave, it’s worth it.

As I've grown attached to these people, I've started to invest in them, whether it’s speaking hope to someone at coffee time, passing a scripture to them, or being someone's prayer warrior. I never conceptualized that this was what church was about.

Finally, perhaps this one weekly act of walking out to worship God conveys something of importance to my family. Even though it feels oh, so risky.

So that’s me. Do you relate to this story at all?  If so, where have you got to with it? Or, if you've been through this season, what wisdom can you share?

Thanks for listening.

Ann


Submission vs. Obedience Part II by Martha Bush

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSubmission vs. Obedience

Introduction

In Part 1 of Submission vs. Obedience, I told my story of obeying the Lord’s new direction for my life, and the opposition I faced from my husband in doing so.

Today, let’s get right down to business and try to decipher what is sometimes a controversial and confusing subject.

Submission vs. Obedience

I have read so many books on “this is what submission is, this is what submission is not.” And yet, I am still left with lots of questions, as many of you have also indicated.

I personally believe in order to understand it, we have to look closely at other scriptures to see the big picture of how I Peter 3 plays out in our lives, as we try to submit, reference, honor, esteem, and appreciate our husbands as the head of the household.

So today, I want to look at two questions that keep popping up in our Sumite Family. (More to come) I will give you scripture references to think about, and you ask the Lord to reveal to you how they fit in.

Questions

  1. My husband is demanding, controlling, and harsh as the head of the household. How do I respect and give honor to that kind of treatment?

1 Peter 4:1: “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”

Romans 5:3-4: We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, character, and hope.

I don’t know about you, but there were times that I had all the character building I wanted in facing opposition and harsh words.

But, I Peter 3 places no condition on whether we honor or not. So, I came to the place of honoring my husband, but not the behavior. I left him for God to deal with on that matter.

In addition, I began to study how to respond to harsh words from every resource I could find. It paved the way for me to stop sinning in my responses to him. In short, my brass, arrogant, attitude began to improve.

  1. My husband forbids me to go to church. What does God’s Word really say about church attendance?

Quoting from Lynn on Sumite Sisters in Christ:

Hebrews 10:25: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.

I reference this scripture and am convinced it is a directive straight from God. We become vulnerable to the enemy without community, prayer, teaching and communion.

I have great difficulty with a spouse that would forbid a wife to attend church – that is control and not love. We can respect and submit through love to our husband’s wisdom, but control is not wisdom. It’s manipulation cloaked in fear.

We NEED church. We need to meet together and learn. Church and women’s bible study saved my marriage. I’m so thankful.

After 25 years I still go by myself. It is the best part of my life. Something spiritual happens to me in corporate worship – filling, peace, joy and love.

Now there is no condemnation in Christ, because there are situations that may prohibit church attendance. I understand, but for me. I would crawl there if I had to. And the LORD has rewarded me greatly because of my lifetime of commitment to His Kingdom and to the Bride.

***** 

Food for thought: John Bevere, author of Honor’s Rewards 

Proverbs 3:9 commands us to Honor the Lord.

We are to esteem, respect, and reverence Him above anyone or anything. We dishonor Him if we value anyone or anything above Him. He is the Great King; He is worthy to receive all our respect, not just a portion.

When we compromise the will of God, as revealed in His Word, in order to honor someone, even if it’s within our own family, we in essence sin against God.

Conclude

I want to conclude with a prophecy given to me during my journey.

You’ve come through a hard testing, and your faith was what was being tried. Just like Abraham, we read about Abraham taking Isaac upon the mountain thinking he was going to have to use him as a sacrifice, and we think Abraham went up there with ease, but agony was in Abraham’s heart as he went through that testing. But, he pressed on, and he came through the testing.

I saw the agony in your heart, and I chose not to make it easy, but I chose for you to press on in because I knew that it would be of much value for you.

And because of this, there shall be much reward, for I have brought you into another realm of faith. Even this new realm shall surely be tested, but you will have that backbone within you to come through it.

***

You put me through this, Lord? Gee thanks. How much backbone do I need?

Blessings to you,

Martha

Bio: Martha lives in Orange, Texas where she leads and SUM Group.  She and her husband, Glen, are the parents of two daughters and 4 grandchildren. 


Could This Be What It's Like?

Nativity 2017Hi SUMites,

On Friday I put away the Thanksgiving decorations for the season, put up the tree and the nativity on the table where my Tablecloth of Thanks sat for most of November. Mike didn’t write on it this year. Caitie wasn’t home. We went to the neighbors for dinner, so this year was different than prior years. Because of our new holiday situation, I figured he was “over it.”

Well to my delight and surprise, Mike retrieved the Thanksgiving box from the closet, pulled out the tablecloth and wrote his thanks for 2017. I was truly surprised to walk into the kitchen and there he was scribbling his thanks. Wow… My friends, take note, every effort we make to bring faith and love into our home is having an impact.

I love this time of year. It fills me with so much hope and anticipation.

Over the past few weeks, the LORD, frequently sends me to scriptures in the books of Peter. Wild. What is even stranger is that when I hear the Holy Spirit whisper a scripture verse to me, I hear it rendered in the New King James Version. Or most often a close rendering of NKJV with a mix of NIV.

This is so weird because all of my life, since the 80’s, I have only read NIV and NLT. Never King James. But scriptures will pop in my head. I hear the entire verse in New King James and on top of that, guess what. Instantly memorized. I can recall them with accuracy and on demand ….. In NKJV rendering. (Pause for astonishing gasp.) I don’t even know how to explain this. Other than I have asked to be able to memorize scripture and it’s never been easy. NEVER, EVER, I tell you.

Until now! Huzzah! Scripture rolling off my tongue in prayer. Scripture rolling about in my brain at night. I wake up with scripture verses that have meaning and are answers to my current prayers. Scripture during worship. All in NKJV and powerful.

FRIENDS…. Is this what it means to be a believer in the end times? Is this what it’s like to be a believer in The Acts 2 Church? Is this what was happening in the first century believers? Remember in Acts 2 Churchh and all that is given to us as believers. It’s a holy mind-blow.

Honestly, I hesitate to even share this because it’s so outlandish. But, if I don’t share what the Father is doing, then the very rocks will cry out and God will find someone else to pass along the message and the gift. So, start asking for your eyes and ears of your understanding to be enlightened (That’s a verse also somewhere that recently popped up.) I started praying this verse and look what happened. PS. There is more coming too because I’m wanting MORE and God wants to give MORE.

So, this leads me into the reason for the next series of posts. In the middle of the night, like I said earlier, I hear scriptures that are frequently from the books of Peter. I want to take a new look at a few passages from Peter and share the insight that I believe the LORD is sharing with me. And to punctuate that God is speaking to me about the books of Peter, our SUM FB group was discussion 1 Peter 3:1 and finally this past Tuesday, 1 Peter 3 was in my daily reading.

But before we jump into that, I want to share something else. Also at night while I’m sleeping, the LORD brings to my mind and heart many of you, the SUMite nation AND your spouses. I literally hear names of SUMites and then my foggy brain scrambles to remember spouses’ names. So while resting at night God moves my heart to bless.

I bless you by name. I bless your home. I bless your spouse by name. I speak over your marriage in my prayers. I pray protection, provision. And sometimes I pray for your children. I pray as the Holy Spirit leads me, specific for what you need. But what I realized is I don’t have a current list of SUMites and spouses.

So, today, may I ask that if you are a reader here, please drop your name and that of your spouse in the comments. I’m going to take the list with me to my room at night. I will read through it. I can’t wait to hear the prompting of Jesus as each night He highlights several for whom He wants blessing and prayers. AND I will pray for you, your spouse and will pray how Jesus leads me.

What is so cool in this process is that the LORD knows exactly what you truly need, your spouse and how to pray to release heavenly provision, angelic intervention and to bring your names before the Throne of God. (Please pop into the comments today.)

Beginning tomorrow, Ian, will be leading our community through Advent. It’s always a beautiful and special way to remain focused on the real meaning of Christmas.

On Friday, we are jumping into 1 Peter 3. It’s gonna be awesome.

I pray the peace of heaven upon you. The grace of God upon your mind and heart. I pray you see the Father smiling upon your life. And mostly that you receive a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit to fill you with joy and HOPE for all the things you are praying into and that this Christmas is the BEST EVER. In Jesus name. AMEN

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. —Hebrews 11:1 (Yep another one.)

I adore you my family. I have great affection for you, your life, your heart and the growing of your faith. Hugs, Lynn


Q&A From The SUM Survey (What Our Kid's Think)

Survey with WMToday I want to answer another question that came from the SUM survey. Laurie F. asked:

Q: I would love to know how adult children who grew up in mis-matched homes feel about all of the things we deal with. (Going to church and activities only with mom, not being able to pray/sing/share at home when Dad's around, worrying that Dad is not going to Heaven, etc.) I would also like to know how to answer my daughter's constant questions about those same topics.

So, I decided to call my daughter, Caitie, age 22 who now lives in Indiana. I asked her these questions and here is her response. She gave me permission to share.

I asked Caitie: So how do you feel now that you are an adult and can look back upon your childhood, about going to church?

A: Mom, many of my perceptions and answers are specific to our individuality and family dynamic. (She’s a Com major, grin.) Because I have a great relationship with my father, I’ve never felt stifled about faith. I didn’t feel shame and, so I didn’t need to make intentional decisions to hide my faith. I do know and understand that is something that other kids have to walk through. And it must be very challenging.

I did feel a weird pressure to attend church. Dad would only go to church when I went to church. When I didn’t go (once in a while in high school when she was in a play, etc.) I would feel personally responsible to attend. I felt pressure to create some magical family ideal, all of us sitting together as a family, in church. I felt responsible to you, Mom to make you happy.

ME: I said to Caitie, you know that we have discussed this before and I have asked forgiveness for issues or events that made you feel responsible when you weren’t. And I also appreciate your love and heart for doing that for me, even if it was not a perfect situation.

Caitie: When I went away to college, that was when I began to attend church for myself. And I knew it was for me. I loved my church. And I’m still searching for a good one now in my new location.

ME: Caitie, finding church, as an adult, it is also true of families with two believing spouses. Many kids raised in church go because it’s their parents church. They move away and then they attend church for themselves. (Inset note from ME, Lynn. This is one reason we fight, insist, and work diligently to take our children to church. It’s important and it sticks when they are older.)

Caitie: Yes, that’s true.

ME: Caitie, don’t give up on church. The enemy does this to so many people. It’s difficult to find the right church and you must try out several, sometimes many, before you find the right one. And it’s exhausting to keep visiting churches. The devil knows this and will influence you to go to every “wrong” church so that you simply give up and stop attending. DON’T GIVE UP.

Caitie: I won’t.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6

Next week I’ll share more of my daughter’s responses. I hope this encourages all of you who are raising your children in faith.

Next question: Do you worry about your Dad’s salvation?


Going To Church Alone


Book-coverToday, I want to chat about another big issue. This is a re-post for our newest family members. (Jan, 2016)

GOING TO CHURCH ALONE.

Gang, can I just say – Grrrrrrrrr

This is so hard. I know that for me this was an area that was of intense and great struggle. Even today, I truly desire my husband to join me for church on Sunday. I’ve had to wrangle through all of the different aspects of church non-attendance with my husband. I’m certain many of you have as well.

First, dealing with the whole couple thing. Grrrrrr, again! Our Western society is significantly “couple” focused. Learning to do anything alone takes a ton of courage and prayer. At least it did for me and I’m usually a courageous person. But after remaining a floundering believer at home, there comes a day when your need for community outweighs fear and you timidly cross the threshold of a church.

Once conquering that fear, you then must overcome disappointment as you see other couples together in church. True that. Anyone???

My friends, I want to assure you that if you are currently in this season of walking unequally yoked and attending church alone, it does become easier. 

Think about this. As you consider your life, most of us find that God has been amazingly faithful. Even in our periods of doubt or in my case, spiritual rebellion. God never left me nor did He forsake me. EVER. Even when I ran away from Him. As I slowly returned to my heavenly Father, I realized His faithfulness and it became the strength and my backbone. I made the decision to be faithful and return to church. And I’m so glad I did.

It was within my church community, women’s Bible study, that my healing began. I know I wrote about this our book, Winning Him Without Words. But it’s good to remember that God made us for community. At the core of all we are, we are designed for community, membership, authentic living, to be known and to know others in truth.

Knowing this, church became vital. It was my weekly re-charge. And when children became part of the family, they needed church too. That foundation of training in their early lives will live on in the next generation.

I’ve attended church alone for nearly 25 years. It’s been hard and it’s been glorious. Churches are challenging. You must remember they are filled with broken and needy people who are just like you. Attending church requires us to wear forgiveness like a cloak and to cry out for God to fill us with love, every, single day that we may love people like Him.

But at the end of the day, church is a hint of our future. One day THE CHURCH, will gather in the great assembly, with pure love in our hearts and will join as one people, one voice in worship. I promise we can’t imagine the depth of love we will feel and experience. I can’t wait.

So focus on Jesus and love even the broken and messy at church. And allow others who truly care about your life, to love on you. Be authentic and allow them to serve you.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned through sitting alone in church. One, I’m not the only one. My spiritual mismatched allowed me to see many others who don’t fit in. My heart is drawn to those who are alone, even those who feel alone but ARE sitting with a spouse. And my friends, churches are filled with these kinds of people who pretend their marriage is perfect. It’s simply not true. Every marriage, including your pastor's will struggle, even greatly struggle at some point. It’s just different from yours.

Allow yourself to set aside your loneliness and pain and truly look around you. It’s likely your training here at SUM and through the Word will allow you to speak love and truth into some other misfit who is sitting in the sanctuary. And that my friends, is exactly what delights the heart of God.

BTW: Ultimately we will discover we are all misfits and that is exactly what God intends!!!

Hugs, Lynn


My Unsaved Spouse and Church This Easter

HandsI am wondering if any of you will be asking your spouse to attend Easter services with you?

Are you feeling anxious about asking? About Him attending?

Let’s talk about that today in the comments. I’m looking for suggestions and ideas to share with our community to encourage our spouses to attend church and yet preserve the peace in our home and at church, if our spouse decides to join the family.

See you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn

 


GOING TO CHURCH ALONE

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comToday, I want to chat about another big issue that was mentioned back in December when we began this journey.

GOING TO CHURCH ALONE.

Gang, can I just say – Grrrrrrrrr

This is so hard. I know that for me this was an area that was of intense and great struggle. Even today, I truly desire my husband to join me for church on Sunday. I’ve had to wrangle through all of the different aspects of church non-attendance with my husband. I’m certain many of you have as well.

First, dealing with the whole couple thing. Grrrrrr, again! Our Western society is significantly “couple” focused. Learning to do anything alone takes a ton of courage and prayer. At least it did for me and I’m usually a courageous person. But after remaining a floundering believer at home, there comes a day when your need for community outweighs fear and you timidly cross the threshold of a church.

Once conquering that fear, you then must overcome disappointment as you see other couples together in church. True that. Anyone???

My friends, I want to assure you that if you are currently in this season of walking unequally yoked and attending church alone, it does become easier. 

Think about this. As you consider your life, most of us find that God has been amazingly faithful. Even in our periods of doubt or in my case, spiritual rebellion. God never left me nor did He forsake me. EVER. Even when I ran away from Him. As I slowly returned to my heavenly Father, I realized His faithfulness and it became the strength and my backbone. I made the decision to be faithful and return to church. And I’m so glad I did.

It was within my church community, women’s Bible study, that my healing began. I know I wrote about this our book, Winning Him Without Words. But it’s good to remember that God made us for community. At the core of all we are, we are designed for community, membership, authentic living, to be known and to know others in truth.

Knowing this, church became vital. It was my weekly re-charge. And when children became part of the family, they needed church too. That foundation of training in their early lives will live on in the next generation.

I’ve attended church alone for nearly 25 years. It’s been hard and it’s been glorious. Churches are challenging. You must remember they are filled with broken and needy people who are just like you. Attending church requires us to wear forgiveness like a cloak and to cry out for God to fill us with love, every, single day that we may love people like Him.

But at the end of the day, church is a hint of our future. One day THE CHURCH, will gather in the great assembly, with pure love in our hearts and will join as one people, one voice in worship. I promise we can’t imagine the depth of love we will feel and experience. I can’t wait.

So focus on Jesus and love even the broken and messy at church. And allow others who truly care about your life, to love on you. Be authentic and allow them to serve you.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned through sitting alone in church. One, I’m not the only one. My spiritual mismatched allowed me to see many others who don’t fit in. My heart is drawn to those who are alone, even those who feel alone but ARE sitting with a spouse. And my friends, churches are filled with these kinds of people who pretend their marriage is perfect. It’s simply not true. Every marriage, including your pastor's will struggle, even greatly struggle at some point. It’s just different from yours.

Allow yourself to set aside your loneliness and pain and truly look around you. It’s likely your training here at SUM and through the Word will allow you to speak love and truth into some other misfit who is sitting in the sanctuary. And that my friends, is exactly what delights the heart of God.

BTW: Ultimately we will discover we are all misfits and that is exactly what God intends!!!

Next up: Spiritual leadership

Hugs, Lynn


Today At Church I Looked Down The Row And Was......


Raising Godly KidsHi Gang,

Well today it’s my turn to write about chapter four of Not Alone re-titled Raising Godly Kids in a Spiritually Mismatched Home.

Churched Kids

My heart and head is full of thoughts and emotions when I consider raising our kids in church. I share a number of my thoughts and experiences in chapter four about kids and church, youth group (to go or not to go), the conflict within our homes with Dad and so on….

But in this moment as I write about our kids and church, the faithfulness of God overflows in my spirit and stirs my heart.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m pondering an ordinary, yet profound moment. You see, everything I’ve done to raise my daughter, all the words I’ve written about parenting culminated in this morning. I was humbled to watch the faithfulness of God unfold in front of my eyes in a beautiful moment.

I will tell you that my daughter, who was raised in a spiritually mismatched home all of her life, has been walking through a season of crisis and doubt about her faith. Several circumstances have contributed to this season. I have prayed with faith for her. I’ve talked with her. I’ve argued and there may have been moments of loud conflict between us *sheepish grin*. However THIS MORNING God showed me how very powerful “my faith and my prayers” have been in the life of this child. AND interestingly, in the lives of her friends.

Following one of our long discussions several weeks ago, I decided not to push her to attend church with me while she is home on her college summer break. So, on Saturday night I set my alarm and was heading to bed. My cell phone buzzed. It’s my daughter calling me from someplace in town where she met up with her friends for ice cream.

“Mom, I just wanted to catch you before you go to sleep.”

“Okay, I’m still awake.” She knows that I go to bed really early.

“Well, Mom, I want to go to church with you in the morning. Oh and I want to bring my friend who I plan to pick up and bring him to our house in the morning. Then can we swing by and pick up Gina because she wants to go with us too.”

“Sure thing Sweetie. I love you. See you in the morning.”

“Nite, nite Mom.

As I write this I’m an ordinary and thankful mother because God is so faithful. I sat in a row of chairs at church with my daughter who worshiped with her full heart. Her BFF, and two other young men who are her good friends were sitting with us. A row of young people who wanted to attend church. Young men and women who want to know Jesus and to walk in real faith.

I looked down the row and was overwhelmed by God’s love as I watched them all worship together.

-----

Mom and Dad, our kids watch us. They are looking to see if WE believe. They are looking to us to show them the way in a world that is confusing and brutal.  

We have two powerful weapons to war for our children.
We have profound influence in their lives.
AND we have the ear of the King!

Mom and Dad, your kids will choose one day to attend church on their own because you were faithful to love Jesus out loud before them. Day after day, moment after moment. Faithfully reading God’s Word. Daily praying for them by name.

THAT is what legacy is all about. That is what loving Jesus with our full heart will yield. That is what chapter four is all about…. Churched Kids, who will one day walk into a life-long faith in Jesus.

And if you are not seeing that right now, never stop praying! I believe the prodigals will be running home!

I would love to hear your thoughts about chapter four. It would bless me greatly if you would PLEASE share your stories of how you are impacting your children for the Kingdom. Please, please share because there is another mama or dad out there that needs your wisdom and your story to help them in parenting their children to faith.

I love you so much. Mom and Dad you are more powerful than you know. You are walking in a path of eternal impact. So WARRIOR ON and let’s lead our children by our love for Jesus.

Have an amazing week. Now go hug your kids and tell them that Jesus loves them!!! (An unexpected text works too) Hugs, Lynn


1 Peter 1 & 2: Building Foundations (part 1)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiMy friends, we’ve been set up. But in a good way. A great way. Let me explain. Or better yet, I’ll let Peter explain…

This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. 

They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. — 1 Peter 1:10-12 NLT

We walk in this truth today, the very truth of salvation that the prophets and even the angels eagerly awaited. What must it have been like for those prophets to catch a glimpse of God’s plan, yet not be given the opportunity to experience it? I can easily picture Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah along with the other prophets, standing among the angels as they watched God’s plan unfold in the birth of a baby and explode on a cross. Did they point and exclaim, “God told me He was going to do that!” 

Stunning to think about this grand set up and we are the “set-up-ees.” Peter further expounds on God’s plan by reminding us of the cost.

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days. — 1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT

I believe Peter wanted his readers to clearly understand that God’s plan of salvation was not the invention of men, but the long term solution from God. Man had already turned the early commandments given to Moses into a religion (Judaism) with twice as many rules and more coming. Peter wanted to be very clear that this was the FINAL answer and not just another rule or method.

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;
their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

 And that word is the Good News that was preached to you. — 1 Peter 1:23-25 NLT

Peter’s last line there gives key insight. The New Testament uses two Greek words that describe Scripture, which are translated as “word.” John referred to Jesus as the Word, using the Greek word, logos, which has a list of meanings that would take a blog post of its own. In essence, it refers to a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea, the sayings of God, decree or mandate. The Divine Expression—Christ.

But when Peter uses it in verse 25, he uses the Greek word, rhēma, defined as that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word. Essentially, Peter is saying that the words preached to them held the truth of the Good News—the new message of Christ and His salvation, which would become the New Testament as we know it today and is the revelation of all that was foretold in the Old Testament. Some call these Holy Spirit inspired words, rhēma words, which agree with Scripture and are life-giving to the recipient. 

Jesus was the Word that already existed, through whom all was created and through whom all would be saved (John 1:1-5). Jesus was the living and final WORD, the word become flesh. That is what Peter wanted his readers to know. That although the Good News as preached to them was not written (yet) in scrolls as the Old Testament, they still held the truth of God.

All this Peter did to build up to his case of who we are in this Good News preached by the disciples. The very definition of who people were in God’s great plan was about to shift to a place of equality and uniqueness that people hadn’t heard as of yet, but would in actuality be the revelation of what God intended all along. 

No longer would people define their relationship with God with the help of the Law and a priest (Pharisee). For the first time since the Garden of Eden, men and women would know the One True God personally and intimately, because He made His home in temples of flesh instead of stone, and they were essentially their own priest, so to speak. The Holy Spirit had come to dwell in each person, connecting all to God the Father through Christ and to each other as the body of Christ. 

In essence, our identity changed from being outwardly defined to inwardly created. We are new creations, and royal priests, as Peter says. He also calls us living stones, chosen and precious in the sight of God,like Jesus was chosen and precious.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. — 1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV

My friends, I will stop here and save the rest for next week. What Peter told the early believers was life changing then, and it still is today. In the meantime, think about the reference to a cornerstone. 

What was a cornerstone and Who is the cornerstone? I bet you already know the answer to the second part, but have some fun finding out the first part. I’ll share that in part two.

Love you, my friends! Having a blast with you as we study Peter!
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When The Church Hurts You

Hello SUMite Nation, 

I have to chuckle. Over the past few months reading through comments, Facebook posts and emails I have received, all of the “SUMite” puns. Hilarious!  SUMthings about happen. To SUM things up. Is SUMone praying? Can I just say that SUM of you are very witty and hilarious. 

It’s the little nuances such as this that make our home on the web, a family. We are a family and SUM is a place where we are loved and where we love. Thank you SUMites for how you love Jesus and how well you love one another. 

And I guess I feel this post is leading to an entirely different topic than I expected. You see over the past seven days my daughter and I have experienced some weird situations. Conflict over beliefs with other believers. 

Yikes! 

Now don’t panic. I’m not going to cause a debate in our Home on the web here. In fact, I think it’s remarkable the kind of unity that we experience in our SUM House considering all the different steams of faith represented here. And Dineen and I are very careful and intentional to focus on what unites and not on what divides. We focus on only two things.  

Love God…
Love people…. 

But what do we do when we don’t see eye to eye? My daughter and I have been living this out as of late. It’s hard enough to stand in our faith when facing harsh words from our unbelieving spouse. But it’s even more difficult to face conflict with people who are “supposed to be on our side.” 

Do you agree? 

Well, in both cases we must let love be our compass and focus on what we have in common. This works both with our pre-believers and those who have differing ideological views. And right behind love, we must walk the road of forgiveness. 

However, the most difficult to forgive are those who are in the church that wound us. 

Am I right? 

Recently I listened to Ann Graham Lotz share how she overcame pain when she was wounded by her church. She shares how she was part of a church for 15 years, raised her children in this particular church and yet on one Sunday morning the church dismissed her husband from leadership. 

THIS IS WORTH A LISTEN MY FRIENDS.

 

 

Thank you for loving Dineen and I even when we might offend, hurt or fail you. Please know we would never do so with intention. I know many times I would like to respond to the many email, comments and messages that arrive and I simply can’t do it. I might write words such as “I’m Pissed Off” and you choose not to take offense but see how I remain committed to authenticity. I pray more than anything that you see our imperfect hearts are filled with love for you. It’s the love of a perfect Father, His Son, Jesus and the love of the Spirit. That remains our highest purpose when you visit our home on the web. 

The calling in this season of the Kingdom upon the House of SUM, is to love God. Love People. Amen and AMEN!

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com


Unity Through Worship

12920277_sMy friends, I have so loved reading your comments on this worship series. You have shared your hearts and prayers. I have found myself inspired many times by what you share, have even prayed your words! And I know other have too.

We started this series with discussing Worship is More Than a Song, then moved into talking about Intimacy Through Worship and Living a Lifestyle of Worship. Today we will talk about unity through worship.

First, I want to share my first taste of corporate worship…

Anticipation buzzed in the air and the low rumble of voices. The stadium was packed. Thousands of believers stood ready and waiting to hear Third Day. Though I’d attended concerts before, this was my first Christian concert. Third Day came out, the music started, and soon, to my utter amazement, I stood, arms up like many there, not just singing to songs but worshiping God. Ten thousand strong. We didn't know each other, but we knew God.

I'll never forget that moment years ago. I felt like I had a glimpse of what Heaven would be like and I think I have sought after and hungered for more of it ever since. There is something powerful in corporate worship, about standing with our brothers and sisters in Christ and lifting our voices in song and praise. Just like Scripture says when two or more gather together, our prayers are heard, I believe when voices are raised together in true worship, we invite the presence of God to come as a community unified in love for God and each other and the desire to bring Him glory.

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” — Matthew 18:19-20 NLT

When we worship, He is there among us! Do you believe it?

Are you willing to trust Him with your heart so He can show you His?

This is the place I sense God calling us, His children, to grow the most right now as He is moving, shifting and about to turn things around (click to read about this in my Word of Encouragement post). It's about His children coming together in unified purpose—His purpose—to release the power of God over ourselves, the nations and the world. It is about experiencing a foretaste of Heaven and witnessing the body of Christ in presence and action.

Whether spoken prayers or sung words, this is His promise and our joy to experience His presence, to call out to our God and proclaim our Savior, to honor Him and bring Him great glory. The Creator of the Universe is blessed and pleased when His creation—His children—acknowledge Him.

The exchange is intimate, yet corporate. We stand in the shadow of Heaven to come, yet in the full inheritance of our identity as His children. It is stunning. It is powerful. It is a gift.

Saturday’s post and list talked about humility. Worship is that time to humble ourselves before God to worship in truth and spirit so that we may know Him better and join Him in His purposes.

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. — 1 Peter 5:6

I remember as a new believer standing in church or Bible study waiting for the music to be done so we could move on to the better stuff. Now I go to church excited, anticipating this opportunity to worship God with my church family and it is never long enough (as I shared we're in the baby stages of becoming a worshipping church).

My friends, my relationship with God and my kingdom perspective greatly expanded when I began worshiping, truly worshiping, God. I told you in the series I wrote about transforming the mind that God told me once that I would find Him in worship.

It is the truth. We find Him in astounding ways individually and, in a corporate setting, we find the power of His Presence and it is a game changer!

Again, I think I could go on and on here. Share in the comments what you have experienced in corporate worship. I know this kind of worship can be a challenge to find at times—I experience this myself, thus why I love the chance to go to faith conferences or Christian concerts. Or visit another church on occasion.

And be sure to come back Saturday for the conclusion of this series. This is one you won’t want to miss: Spiritual Warfare Through Worship. I will share a story of how I fought the enemy off with worship.

In the meantime, my SUM family, I am praying for our Great God to meet you in worship and show you His glory!
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The Aftermath

IMG_2433My friends, today I will finish my Bethel story but I want you to know that this adventure is far from over. Our journey with God is an ongoing adventure that unfolds on a daily basis. I’m stunned at times to go back and read in my journal what I’ve written down and then forgotten! I’m so glad I can go back and be reminded of these things because sometimes those little moments wind up being key to understanding what a big one means.

As I will share today. I had a small moment before the conference where I found a dime and penny on the ground during one of my walks. God has me picking up pennies a lot this last year as part of my growing faith and trust in Him to provide for us during these financially trying times. I’ve shared much of that with you in the past. (I have an update on that to share with you soon too!)

That day when I picked up not just a penny but a dime too, Abba whispered to me, “I will increase in you tenfold.” When I got home I placed that dime and penny in front of my keyboard as a constant reminder of what God had spoken to me.

So, on this particular day now after the conference I was walking around the park yet again. Each time I circle the spot where I found the dime and penny, I am reminded again of what God spoke to me that day. I believe the things that happened at Bethel are all part of that.

That morning I had spoken to Lynn on the phone about my hubby. She’d been praying for him and felt that God showed her that when he does come to Jesus, it will be very emotional for him. She even said he’d cry for a week! My guy doesn’t like to show it, but I know he’s a deep feeler when it comes to his emotions. I think he tends to guard himself in this area too.

Back to my walk and pray that morning. I began to pray for my husband and about what Lynn has shared with me. Then, wham! A slew of emotions that I can only describe as not my own brought me to tears. Intense grief and a series of emotional flashes of all the things my husband had missed and would one day mourn that he had.

Key events like our daughters accepting Jesus, baptisms, reading the Bible to them and more cerebral, our ongoing faith walks and growth. Dealing with our youngest daughter’s cancer and how God worked so miraculously even in the small things. Then it stopped as quick as it hit. My friends, I kid you not. This was not my grief. I don’t even know if I could have believed such a thing possible had I not experienced it myself!

As I continue to walk (and sniffle), I prayed over my husband for all of this. First in my heart and mind and then out loud. Thankfully there weren’t many people around at the moment or I might have gone back to being silent for what happened next. And what I spoke—prophesied—had to be spoken out loud.

I believe the Holy Spirit had risen up in me and was fueling my passion and my prayer, and He was giving me the words, because they stopped me in my tracks. I had to literally stop and consider what had just been spoken aloud over my husband.

Why? Because it was what I had been praying for him for years. Not in these words, not in this declaration, not how I would have said it. No, this was the Holy Spirit speaking the truth through me for my husband, out loud and for all the heavenlies and the spiritual realm to take notice.

My arm shot into the air and this poured out: “The Lord God Almighty will call forth Mike Miller to be a son of God, and he will serve the Lord all the days of his life.”

Whoa! Amen! Yes, Lord, yes! I believe it! I’ve shared in the past that when my hubby comes to Jesus, I want him ALL in. And I know that is the desire of Abba’s heart too.

My friends, I want to tell you that God is opening doors that I’m stunned to stand in front of—doors for this ministry, doors for my family and doors for me. Like the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:15, who stood in the doorway, ready to receive what Elisha had to give her—a prophetic word about a son.

I’ve heard this Scripture referred to a lot lately, because God is using it to show so many that we need to be standing in that doorway, ready to receive what He wants to give us. I’m already seeing many of you walking in places you haven’t before and using your spiritual gifts. And it seems the more we share here the more that escalates.

Because these gifts are meant to be shared. They are not for us. We carry them to serve others. (Read James 4:2-3) And when we function in this way, as Abba intends us to, we are extending His kingdom and preparing others to do likewise. Abba is showing me how I need to take what I’m learning (and I still have so much to learn!) and not only share it here but also with my daughters too.

So, my dear friends, I want to encourage you to continue to seek God for what He has uniquely gifted you to do. Ask Him to place specific people and things in your path to help you grow in your gifts and your faith. I did that a while back and within a day I had an email from a church I was familiar with for a course about prophetic activation that launched me into a whole new realm of function and understanding.

If you can’t find what you need at your church, check out other reputable churches that offer courses like these for all to come, not just their own membership.

Look for and research books. There are some really great books out there by Bill Johnson, Randy Clark, Kris Vallotton, Dan McCollam and James W. Goll (I highly recommend The Lifestyle of a Prophet for everyone because it is truly about our relationship with God). Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you and protect your heart from any deception, and do your research. Above all, read your Bible. That must always come first because if you don’t know the truth, you won’t be able to recognize the lies out there.

As I prayed and asked Abba how to end this post, He said to tell you this, “Seek me above all else, even above these gifts.”

My friends, if we don’t make our relationship with Him first—always—we run the risk of making an idol out of the very things we are asking Him for. Cultivate your relationship with Abba first so as to build character and to learn to hear Him better and better. Because without Him, all of this meaningless.

If you have questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to ask. I am happy to share all that I know and am learning. And know that I am constantly praying over this community, for Abba to release all He has for us and equip us as He has planned from the beginning. I rejoice and shout praises to the heavens when I see one of you begin to walk in trust and new ways with our Precious Lord. It’s truly a beautiful thing to witness!

Love each of you so very much! 
Dineensig