307 posts categorized "Conflict and Challenges"

From A Black Friend to My White Friends

SUMites,

UnityWe need to chat. I realize that we don’t often take on social issues here at SUM as we are trying to focus on our marriages. However, I know that so much of my marriage discord would rise to the surface because of the social climate, politics, and religion.

So, today, I am compelled to talk about what’s happening in America this week. After a long discussion with Caitie, my daughter who is 25, I’ve had to reflect on the tragedy that was the death of George Floyd. I’m grieved over all of it. I’m grieved over his death, the racism, the riots and the looting.

I’ve had to take a look at my heart again in the midst of this mess and ask some difficult questions. My friend, Kathi Lipp, directed me to a great read. I want to share it with you today. Although I don’t have all the answers, this article addresses questions that white people often ask:

  • Why did he/she do to cause the cops/another person to shoot or kill them?
  • Why do black people insist on “Black Lives Matter”? Don’t all lives matter?
  • Why do “they” try to make white people like me feel guilty? I haven’t done anything.
  • I have black friends so why are black people calling people like me racist?

The Article: From a Black Friend to My White Friends.

Barb Roose, a Christian, offers some great responses and a good video that will help move all of us forward. Take a minute to visit her blog and read through the article and watch the video. Ask yourself, what does Jesus want me to pray, to do, to feel and to respond to this week’s events and the at the center racism that continues to create division in our country.

Also, ask Jesus how to have conversations with your spouse and your children about this week’s events and the news. Let’s be the change our world needs. Isn’t that what Jesus calls us to do?

I realize that this topic is highly charged on every side. Please share your thoughts in the comments but please be respectfully, use words of love and consideration and always look to Jesus for the truth.

Blessings, Lynn


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?


What is Your Life's Impact?

By Ann Hutchison Soil  SUM

“Come to my prayer group!” a lady sidled up to me one day at church, eyeing me closely. It was early in my faith and I had questions. I’d been attending for weeks but still couldn’t help wondering if Christians were nuts to believe. Hers was an invite I decided to accept: She was a lawyer, had a gentle manner, and I figured if anyone was likely to NOT be nuts, it would be her.

So, I duly turned up one evening at a suburban house and rang the doorbell. She and a friend welcomed me in. The friend was a doctor. “Fantastic, another sensible one!” I thought.

I know now that it matters not whether we’re butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, but at that point it helped that these ‘sensible’ women were Christian.

Sensible? Well … um … I got the shock of my life that evening. Unbeknownst to me, these women’s careers were only a disguise: Their real identities were Daughters of God and they knew it. They were a pair of gems. They were also something else: SUMites. Both were pioneering faith in their marriages.

That night, I got to see two warriors up close. They didn’t do anything toooo crazy, but there was a range of high-action stories that involved the Kingdom of Heaven being ‘at hand’. I was barely ready to hear it, it challenged me. But, they surrounded me and prayed their hearts out for me.

Later, I had a spinning mind as I lay in bed thinking about these two. I was contemplating how radical they seemed when I felt God whisper a word:

“Their lives warm the soil.”

“Warm the soil?” I wondered. "Yes", He seemed to say. “They warm the soil of the hearts around them”.

What a thought. It led me straight to the parable of the sower:

“A farmer went out to sow seeds for a harvest. As he scattered his seed, some of it fell on the hard pathway and was quickly trampled down and unable to grow and became nothing but bird seed. Some fell on the gravel, and though it sprouted it couldn’t take root; it withered for lack of moisture. Other seed fell where there was nothing but weeds. It too was unable to grow to full maturity, for it was choked out by the weeds. Yet some of the seed fell into good, fertile soil, and it grew and flourished until it produced more than a hundredfold harvest, a bumper crop.” Luke 8:4-8 (TPT)

That parable tells us that hearts (the soil) often don’t receive the gospel (the seed), or they might abort it after some time. Other hearts receive the gospel and grow good things. But what’s the significance of warmth? Well, I looked it up: When soil is warm, plants grow quicker and receive more water and nutrients. Yes, a human heart has to be ready, but if it’s warm it’s going to be even better -- accelerated. 

Like these two ladies, could it be that our own lives warm our spouse’s heart for its best possible bumper crop? I’m picturing it: I’ve made choices to love but also to persevere with faith; I’ve fought to attend church but I’ve listened to his feelings. When viewed in its entirety, will it warm his heart? ‘Warm’ might not mean my husband feels happy and comfy; rather, it might mean that his heart is being made as ready to carry the gospel as it can possibly be.

Last weekend I gave my testimony at an event. My husband wasn’t thrilled about me leaving him that Saturday, and I felt wobbly. At the same time, I did it because sometimes you have to share. It was yet another tough choice. Uggh.

At the end, a lady came to me. Emotional, she spoke of a couple she knew. It took years for the husband to accept Christ but when he did he told his wife "It was because of the way you lived your life."

There are many testimonies of people whose lives have warmed the soil of their spouse, just like the two sensible-yet-radical women I met years ago, as well as the one I heard of last Saturday. Today, then, I speak this promise here, because I do believe it: SUM family, OUR lives warm the soil.

Can you see it in your own life, or can you see that it will happen in due course? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


Endurance Training

Hi everyone, Ann again!

In Monday’s post I described how my children had sat at a table with me, my husband and friends and heard my testimony. Rear view mirror

Well, this week something crazy but parallel happened: My children sat at a table with me, my husband and friends and this time saw persecution. Yikes!

We were at a Mexican restaurant, laughing, when suddenly my friend’s mouth opened and out came a painful comment about Christians.

It was a comment that could have been considered funny but there was no opportunity for laughter as within an instant I went rage! I shot to my feet, hands on hips, stood over my friend, blurted out tempestuous words, and left the table. When I came back I was physically shaking.

Nobody enjoyed their burritos after that, especially not my husband.

Was my reaction good or bad? We turn the other cheek often, but this time felt different. My speed of reaction felt like I was a magnet being repelled. I know Jesus got mad sometimes. He sat at tables but he also messed up (overturned) tables in rage. I’m reflecting on that.

It’s now Friday as I write, and I’m unpacking the concept of persecution. What is it about? It seems so intensely spiritual:

“As he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now." (Galatians 4:29)

The Greek word for persecution, dioko, tells us more: Persecution is an active attempt to stop something. It is anything that resists.

As I’ve looked at scripture I’ve absorbed this: It’s the deal. Jesus sweated blood and we drink the same cup. To be a Christian is to be persecuted. In others’ eyes we are, by design, the scum of the earth, a spectacle, refuse and fools (1 Cor 4:9-13). Wow, that sucks -- I guess I forgot.

Scripture also shows us the reason: It is to stop the power of the cross and to destroy the church (Gal 1:13, 5:11, 6:12). Given this, should I ever be surprised by it? Perhaps, instead, I should go with a great phrase a friend gave me: “Oh, here comes old hairy legs again!”

All week I’ve been talking to God about it and I think I have some ways forward. It starts with this:

“If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.” 1 Peter 4:14 (NKJV)

I’ve been saying to God, then, “Thank you that I was persecuted because I see what it means. The Spirit of glory and of You rests on me.”

Second, scripture gives us a core word: Endure it (1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Timothy 3:10). This tells me that I may be too weary to do anything except just sit it out. Last night, then, to endure I went to bed early, made myself a cocoa and sat and re-read some of my journal from a more encouraging time.

My final insight from this week was this: I should approach the Throne of Grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16). I’ve got a prayer room in my house, it's our TV room. This week I retreated to it to approach that throne. I lit a candle, got into comfy clothes (fleece onesie, slipper socks) and said to Jesus: “Please minister to me. Take me to this Throne of Grace. Please comfort me. Please smother me in your peace. Help!” I sat with Him in the quiet.

A few hours later an email hit my inbox. It was an older Christian from overseas who had felt led to sit and write to me. He wrote, “I know I need to write you but I don’t know what.” He waited, then wrote a collection of statements. It turned into a couple of pages. Those pages were made just for me. It was one of those God moments.

As for my kids? Well, they’re front-row spectators of the action. It’s more than what they’d get in Sunday school, but hey. 

We all have these moments and I'm smiling again now. If you happen to be struggling with this issue too, feel free to reach out in the comments and I'd love to pray for you.

Nice chatting!

Ann


Slay The Marriage Killers - The In-Laws

Slay The Marriage KillersMarriage Killers. How do we slay them?

Today, I want to talk about …

The in-laws.

Every marriage brings with it an extended family. My experience with in-laws was a good one. They weren’t intrusive. At the time I married Mike, he had lived on his own for years. He had a health relationship with his parents, and they lived in another state. Their involvement in our lives centered about holiday visits and trips to visit their place in the summer. And on occasion, a trip to the Santa Cruz where his parents and their friends and family would vacation every year.

Marriages struggle when either spouse fails to become fully liberated from their parents. This is often an issue with your spouse’s maturity and also a proximity issue.

I can tell you from many emails to this ministry that dealing with in-laws is a REAL thing that challenges marriages. I will also tell you that as a mother of an adult son, there is a very special and unbreakable bond between the two that is a life-long reality. (We have a healthy relationship and I live in five hours from him.)

So, what to do if your spouse is still linked to home and Mom-in-law or dad-in-law interferes with decisions and the direction of your family?

If you are dealing with an overbearing, and ridiculously interfering family member, of course, conversation with your spouse is where you start. Pray and ask Jesus to create a perfect opportunity to talk about extended family. Gang, BATHE this conversation, before it takes place, in prayer. Ask the Lord for the right words. Leave accusation and ridicule of the family member out of the discussion. Take about the issues and how the meddling creates strife and leads to conflict and unhealthy boundaries and decisions. Offense will arise quickly in a spouse when talking about a mom or a dad. Tread carefully but with sound examples and SOLUTIONS that would have made for a better outcome.

Listen. Listen. Listen.

Forgive, forgive, forgive.

Love, love, love.

Determine to set healthy boundaries. In an overbearing situation, space is the only way to gain autonomy. And finally moving a distance away may become your only viable option.

Okay, I need help here. What are the in-law’s dynamics in your home? How have you handled interference? OR better yet, how have you and your spouse set healthy boundaries with the in-laws.

How to you restrain your own mother or father from interfering with your family? I’ll see you in the comments.

LOVE loudly this week. Love and bless your in-laws in your prayer time. Let’s see what happens by Friday? Perhaps a few tiny miracles in the extended family. Hugs, Lynn


The Wicked Marriage Killer

Slay The Marriage KillersWhat is the Wicked Marriage Killer?

Many years ago, my mother-in-law looked at my father-in-law and quoted me to him, “Just deal with it, Caitie.”

I bet my mouth hung open. It became obvious that Carole, was teasing and poking back at her dear husband with words I’d said to my then, hmmmm I guess ten-year-old daughter.

Gulp!

We decide we are going to handle everything!

Deal with it!

I’ll just handle it!

I’ll just do it myself and then I know it will get done and done right!

I will tell you, those words stung even thought MIL didn’t mean them to be harsh. And right now, I apologize to my daughter, Caitie, for telling her to “Just deal.” Ouch!

Although there is wisdom in teaching our children there are issues that can’t be changed. We need to equip them with coping and overcoming skills.

Thinking about marriage killers brought that old MIL memory back to me. Oh, how I like to “handle things.” I’ll handle the job. I’ll just handle the kid’s teachers!!  I’ll handle my marriage. I’ve got a handle on my church commitments and I’ll handle the money. I’ll handle my life and just make everything happen according to the gospel of Lynn. Yikes!

Attitudes like this may make you feel in control most of the time but what happens when you can’t handle anymore? When you hit the wall and then nothing is handled?

Am I speaking to anyone out there?

Oh, my dear friends, indeed, we need to take responsibility for many things but what I find it that in our society, the expectation of many is to take on far more than is possible to effectively manage. And that is the wicked marriage killer.

Over commitment.

We cram so much into our lives that we leave zero margin for the unexpected. No space to “date” our spouse. We slam meals together, pack the car, throw the lunches in backpacks and then off for the day. Rushing home, homework, church work, dishes, and laundry.

We don’t get enough sleep because we stay up watching mindless tv and then up again early the next day for another round. Time with our spouse as a couple is rare and rushed and it’s no wonder in five years you look at each other and think, “Wait, what happened to the fun spouse I married?”

Just callin’ it real here!

This thinking is wrong. People change as they grow older and have children together. There must be maturity and understanding that your spouse will not be the same person in five years. AND as a couple you must insist on margin in your marriage and in your life. Don’t over commit to an education, raising small children, restoring a home or building a new business all at the same time. It’s a recipe for disaster! Something has to give.

Talk to one another. Define a date night and declare it holy. Nothing can take its place. Choose to insert margin in your daily schedule. I know my friend Joanne and her family were so tired of the endless running and schedule demands of sports practice, school, ballet, and everything, so much so, that they took a sabbatical year. They kids didn’t participate in anything. It was the best year of their lives.

Talk to Jesus. Ask Him what must be a priority and what can be tossed out. In my early years, about every six months, Jesus would tell me to prune things out. I had a tendency to over commit. When I did, it created joy and peace. And who doesn’t want more of that in their lives.

Thoughts? Hugs, Lynn


Slay..... The Marriage Killers.... FINANCES

Slay The Marriage KillersHello SUMite Nation,

Well it’s astonishing that half of January has passed already. We have fasted and the Summit registration went live. Already registrations are rolling in from Florida, New Zealand, Michigan, Washington DC, Minnesota, Nevada, Australia, and a few more places.

Oh, I’m so hopeful you can be here. This is going to be the Family Reunion/Family Summit of a lifetime! Here is the link to register, Hear The Roar. Here is the link to the Facebook Travel Group.

I’ve pondered over what to write about in the last few weeks. And sometimes I think I’ve said all I have to say about marriage to a pre-believer. However, I know that there are new readers arriving who haven’t walked this unique marriage path for the number of years as I have and because of that, I want write about the basics again.

For those of you who have been married to your spouse for more than 20 years, I’m asking you to add your experience, wisdom and encouragement to the discussions. Please take time to read the posts and share your thoughts. Your love and voice is needed to encourage some young wife sitting at her kitchen table, ready to throw in the towel. (That was me once.)

So, let’s talk about Marriage Killers.

In the next several post I’m going to share the top marriage killers. I’m asking the community to share your thoughts in the comments. Perhaps these posts will turn into a book one day that will help the next generation. So please share.

CONFLICT OVER MONEY

Fights about spending, credit card debt, and financial over commitment are the fuel to crash and burn a marriage.

Mike and I are fortunate because this is ONE area where we agree. It’s likely due to my many years as a banker, (I worked for 25 years in corporate America as a banker. I retired a Vice President/Lending Manager after starting as a bank teller as a teenager.) I gained an appreciation for financial restraint and a strong sense of responsibility over my checkbook. (I could be fired from my job if I bounced a check. I needed my job!)

Mike gained his financial accountability from his years as a starving college student. But what if you weren’t taught to budget? What if you grew up and mom and dad who virtually gave you whatever you wanted? Or what if spending and saving were not taught, talked about, nor modeled?

Destructive conflict with regard to finances in a marriage is where there are two spenders and a tit-for-tat attitude by both.

He says, “If she spends that much, then I will too.”

She thinks: If he is spending his paycheck like that, then I’m going to do the same.

Similar conflict exists where one spouse is responsible but the other lacks financial responsibility and disrespects the values of the saver.

Examples exist on both sides of the sexes. A husband drives home a new truck to an astonished and heartbroken wife who is saddled with a car payment they can’t afford and was not included in a large financial decision. OR a wife continues to spend on the credit card even when her husband points out they aren’t making a dent in paying it down.

In the Donovan home, throughout our entire marriage I have handled the checkbook, bank accounts, filed the tax returns and managed most of our money decisions. The stress of meeting obligations has weighed heavily upon me. This is true of every person who handles the money for the marriage. There were years where we lived paycheck-to-paycheck and I worried how and when to purchase groceries, pay the insurance or balance the bills.

And before my marriage, there were weeks I would pay the bills as a single mother and have $25 left for gas to get me to work for two weeks. Scary. But by the grace of God.

However, I always found a way to get the bills paid and I forced myself into restraint. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t splurge in certain circumstances. I did. But not outside of what I could afford.

So, SUMites it’s tax season. It’s time to talk finances with your spouse. If you are walking on eggshells over your money, it’s time to visit Dave Ramsey and get yourself out of debt. It’s time to take control of your finances and bring peace into your lives. It will be difficult at first but becoming financially free from debt and the constant stress of financial pressure will release an enormous freedom over your marriage.

Start with prayer. God cares a great deal about our money. There are over 500 verses in the Bible about money and 40% of Jesus’ parables deal with money. Ask the Lord to help you. Ask the Lord for supernatural provision. I could share several stories about when I needed money or provision and the EXACT amount came into my hands within the week.

But, God also expects his people to have self-control (gift of the Spirit). So ask for, and exercise, self-control and make a commitment together with your spouse about how and when to spend money. Talk about the boundaries that need to be set if one or the other oversteps this commitment.

Ask God for the money to get to the conference. I can’t wait to hear your story when it shows up.

Alrighty, what is your story about marriage and money? I’ll see you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn


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


An Honor Lesson Dealt In Cards.

Hello SUM family, Tiffany Here!

Lynn has asked the SUM leadership team to read the book Culture of Honor by Danny Silk for this summer series on honor. I want to share a brief  exerpt and give a real life example from my time in God's classroom. I can't say that it has been easy but I praise God that He hasn't given up on me!

"A spirit of gentleness" is an important phrase. It specifically describes the heart attitude of the one doing the confrontation. Gentleness is the perfect term to describe the attitude we must have with those who have made mistakes or failed somehow. Gentleness does not mean nice, and it doesn't mean polite. The heart of gentleness is the belief that "I do not need to control you."

Mastery of gentleness begins in our belief system. Do we believe that we can control others? Let's review the simple way to test it out. What happens to you when other people do not let you control them? Do you become angry? Do you interpret it as dishonor? Do you find a way to justify punishing them? A yes to any of these questions exposes that you still believe the lie that you can and should control people. Kingdom confrontation requires that you repent of this and begin to allow others to control themselves (p 166).

I love playing games. My grandparents taught Jason and I a card game that has been in their family for decades, several months ago. Jason and I love strategy and so this game is fun for both of us. The other night I pulled out the decks of cards, in trying to keep us disconnected with technology and spend quality time with one another after the kids had gone to bed. The difference between Jason and I is that when he loses, it is not really that big of a deal. When I lose, I get really emotionally involved. In saying this I am sure you can guess the outcome. This wasn't just a losing game for me but an absolute creaming! I was buried with no hope for resurfacing.

Dilley YahtzeeThe goal of this game is to get rid of the cards in your hand. You do this by laying down in front of you a variation of cards depending on the level. I sensed he was about to "go out" and win the current round (and thus further burying me in points against me) so in desperation I said, "Please don't go out!" He did anyway. I couldn't control him - - anger. We decided to go to bed and finish the game another time but my stinky attitude followed me into the next day.

I had failed my husband in showing him God's view of love that does not dishonor others, is not easily angered and always protects (1 Corinthians 13). One of the great things about repentance is that  it "creates an opportunity for true restoration. In fact, it is absolutely necessary in order to heal a relationship that has been hurt by sinful behavior (p. 99)."

The curriculum is far from over in this classroom I am in but I am proud to say that I am gaining victory one step at a time.

Do you struggle with the lies that you can and should control others? If yes, I assure you that I am right there with you. How can I be praying for you in your fight to create a culture of honor in your home?

See you in the comments.

 


Romans 14 - Mic Drop!

Gang, the grandkids are visiting Nana’s today and we are either at the beach or the Wild Animal Park today. Hallelujah!!

So, today I’ll leave you with wise words from  SUMite, Martha Bush:

I remember providing a woman a scripture several months ago that I try to abide by when it seems as though I might face conflict over scriptures or doctrines. I could see she was going one way, and me the other on whatever it was.  So, I just said, okay, this is the scripture I use when I see I am going in opposite directions from someone--------Romans 14. (READ THIS PASSAGE. IT’S BELOW.) 

Paul was talking about division in the church over eating meat.  "Just be fully persuaded in your own mind what you believe, and leave it there, so as not to cause division among your brethren.  I had rather, as I told her, be unified with you on what we do believe, not divided on what we don't."  She agreed with me on that.

 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comRomans 14 New International Version (NIV)

The Weak and the Strong

14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,

‘every knee will bow before me;

    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.


Jesus Is Brilliant - Matthew 18

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comIf another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. —Matthew 18:15

Imagine, what would happen if someone came to you personally and privately (Matthew 18) to chat about something they held against you. And you actually listened. Responded, “I’m so sorry you felt that way. It was never my intention and I would never knowingly be mean, vindictive, or harsh. I didn’t realize I hurt you. Please forgive me and let’s make this right.”

The culture of honor, where God lives and people thrive, exists through preserving respect and honor. This verse is specific to the need to privately point out the offense. On Friday,  The situation completely blew up due to the lack of a private and honest conversation between the leader and the women who were “concerned.”

By the way, I hate the word "concerned" coming out of a believer. When someone brings something to you and says, “I’m concerned.” Run for the hills. It’s never going to be a good thing. It’s a cloaked word that really means I don’t trust you. You need to prove yourself to me and if you are very, very convincing I might change my mind about the condemnation and judgement I’ve already set against you.   (Just my perspective.)

However, taking a conflict to a person and talking it out in private leaves the door open to relationship. To love. To honor and unity. Taking this action leads to the last half of Matthew 18:15. You win that person back… Back to love. Back to relationship. Back to community. Back to Kingdom!  Hallelujah.

This is the goal of Jesus words here. Unity, love, and family. This is a culture of honor.

Therefore, let us carefully consider these words spoken by Christ, and put them into practice. Sin and conflict in the church are inevitable. But, if we handle sin Christ’s way: peace, sanctification, forgiveness, the result will be the preservation of reputations and the deepening of trustful relationships. If we handle conflict and sin our way, we can expect chaos, warfare and divisions in the church.

Once again, awareness is 75% of the battle. Catching yourself in the midst of going into conflict and examining your motives then determining to bring honor to your life and the life with whom you are in disagreement, is the way to resolve these difficulties.

Okay, here is the hard part of today’s teaching. Whom are you in conflict with in your heart? Is there a possibility that you need to pray and approach that person one-on-one to seek resolution?

I know this is simplifying situations. There are relationships which are very unhealthy and so many of us have taken every step possible to seek reconciliation, but to no avail. And there are relationships that any attempt to reconcile only opens up more conflict and pain. But, today, I’m asking our Church Without Walls, is there someone in your life, online, at your local church, or in the neighborhood that you are holding an offense?

Ask the Lord if this is the season of reconciliation. Seek His wisdom before you proceed. Not all forgiveness means a restoration of a relationship. So much of forgiveness is tearing down the prison walls which we have constructed about us. Pray about it a lot. Fast and pray. Many in our SUM community are fasting today. I’m fasting for at least 24 hours. Join in.

If you are in the process, leave me a quick note (No details) just a note that you are going to seek resolution. I will pray to cover you with the wisdom of heaven and the peace and a spirit of reconciliation. In Jesus name. AMEN

See you Friday where we address what to do if one-on-one reconciliation isn’t possible.

LOVE YOU MY SUMites!!  Have a great weekP

PS: I'm chatting with Ian Atcheson this Wednesday  at 3 pm. Pacific on Facebook Live. Tune in and meet one of our long-time writers.


The Destroyer Has Arrived. Do You Know Its Name?

Love over fearLove vs. Fear

Choose wisely.

SUMites, I’ve been in a new classroom with Jesus. Wow has it been interesting. ….. and timely.

And since the beginning of this blog in 2006 the Lord instructed me to share what I’m learning. So, in the next few weeks we are going to look as several aspects of our society and church relationships. We will examine conflict resolution, restoration and honor. We will look at the spiritual realm in light of the teaching and perhaps touch on a few more issues as the Lord leads.

Additionally, all of the teaching and skills we acquire through this series will have a wide affect on our homes, our church life, our social constructs, marriages but mostly in our personal relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Today, I’m just gonna jump into the deep end of the pool and hope I don’t drown or loose you. Because when you wrap you mind and heart around what is at the heart of conflict in this current season, the perspective changes your thoughts, challenges powerless faith, and realigns your prayers to become truly powerful and effective (James 5:1).

In my last post I shared how I sensed that the “Church” began to move into a new season, the Kingdom Era, here on earth. This dispensation of the Kingdom will include the fulfilment of passages such as Hebrews 2:4, Acts 4:30, Acts 14:13, & Mark 16:17-18 just to mention a few. However, the demonic realm also unleashed its weaponry to defeat the church and hold it captive. And this is what I believe has also occurred in the last couple of years.

Witchcraft through blood sacrifice and unholy covenants spoken by covens and sorcerers all over America and all western nations has stirred up an assignment of division. This is a Principality that has been released with a specific mission to divide and destroy. Its purpose is to fulfill one of the three main ministry arms of the devil; to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). It is intent to destroy any possible unification of the church, it is relentless to destroy any and all Godly identity, and to further destroy the centrality of the Kingdom which is family and marriage.

Duh! Like you didn’t already know this. But what you may not perceive is the devices the devil is using to make this happen.

Offense.

And the playground of this principality: ALL social media platforms.

The attacks are proficiently active on social media. I think that you can catch it in operation almost hour-by-hour when opening up a social media app or flicking on the news. Although I’ve seen it in churches within leadership, I see it in companies and in schools. How about our governments? Ugh!

Let me be clear here. This is a direct assault via witchcraft upon the land. And right now I see little response from the Kingdom of God. In fact, the people of God are the main targets of this black, slippery eel that nips at your nose and will lead you along until, wham, you gulped down the bait and you are tagged and bagged.

The enemy is doing everything within it’s power to cause believers to become offended. Satan broadcasts lies, scenes of hate, inflated accusations and more to cause a reaction. The enemy works relentlessly in Facebook posts, groups and messages. Twitter is a blaze with the political spirit and fueled by offense. Television, magazines, the pulpit???? Every platform where Christians gather, there is likely an assignment of the enemy and in many cases ,a real live person who is a witch, fueling the conversation and looking for a reaction. And a reaction fueled by offense quickly spirals into anger and then into hatred. It can happen so fast you don’t even know what hit you. (BTW, I’ve seen witches in church services, it’s a for real thing. I will get a pounding headache when witchcraft is active.)

However, again, I will state clearly that 75% of our victory in spiritual warfare is awareness. You are now aware. Now here is the remaining 25% to help you catch yourself and keep yourself from offense.

Several years ago, when I was learning and reading books about offense, I became very intentional in my life to start to catch myself when I felt the sting or anger of an offense rising up in me. Any area of offense is ungodly. ANY AREA. So, I would immediately realize the feeling of offense. With great determination, I would take my feelings in prayer to the Lord and then surrender, ask for forgiveness, and seek the Lord to help me navigate the situation/interaction/words with this person or persons. I would seek the Lord for HIS truthful explanations in the situation, even asking Him to show me where I failed in the scenario and where others failed. (I wrote a great deal about recovering from emotional wounding and escaping offense a few years ago. Here is a link to the first post: OFFENDED

I realize that people do things that hurt us, that are ugly, black, and from the pit-of-hell, evil. But I also know that these offenses by others are often occupied by demons of unforgiveness and bitterness. And these two actors open the door for oppression. I don’t want to be ruled by demonic lies. So, I willingly take my hurts, offenses, sins against me to my Father. I surrender them. I FORGIVE THE PERSON. I receive the healing forgiveness of Jesus and ask the Lord to help me make things as right as they can be. Restoration is broad and looks different for each situation. This is not an easy process but necessary. For more recovery tips, read the post mentioned above.

It’s time church.

We have the mind of Christ. We can choose to refuse to be offended. We can choose to stop going to places and people who stir you up. AND you can pray. Our prayers can absolutely defeat the witchcraft, the demonic realm and destroy every assignment of the devil. I know emphatically this is true.

We MUST stop playing the game. Immediately when you feel offense rising, shut it off, take it to the cross, seek forgiveness and ask the Lord for full restoration. When we stop being offended by one another this GREAT, BIG GIANT CHANCE for unity might really happen. It must start with the church.

We can be an activist. We can stand for what we believe. We can express our views in many different aspects and forums. I believe the Lord desires this of His people, but we must live above annoyance, offense, and the hatred of the world.

Because:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. —John 13:35

And this kind of love will change a spouse, a house, a region, light revival, unify the church and usher in the greatest era of the Kingdom of God….. Heaven on Earth!!!

HALLELUJAH!

On Friday, I want to share some specifics about conflict resolution based on Matthew 18. On down the road we will look at how we develop a culture of honor. How we honor one another when we don’t agree. We will look at restitution vs. punishment and more.

Monday's Question: Who is brave enough to share how offense happened in your life and how the Lord helped you to escape?

LOVE YOU, Lynn


The New Kingdom Era

SUMites,

Lord's PrayerIt’s July 1st. Half of 2018 remains, and we are merely beginning to step into the miracles and the Presence of God that Kingdom era offers. Today, I want to share with you my thoughts about what is happening in the Kingdom of God in this season. Below is an excerpt from an email I sent to our SUM leadership team last week.

Before I share, I also want to let you know that I’m being led by Jesus to teach about Kingdom honor and dignity. I witness a great deal of wounding in the church because of accusation against another brother or sister in Christ. I’m convinced that there is great error on occasions when a believer sins. And the restoration process is what I believe, harsh, unforgiving ….. it feels like punishment. As children of the Kingdom, we must learn to handle disagreement with our church family in a new way. In a way that is truly restorative, healthy, and with honor and LOVE.

Following the July 4th weekend, I will be writing about what Godly conflict should look and feel like, based on the Matthew 18 model. I also want to teach about the differing areas of leadership and how we understand our strengths, callings, and anointings and how we are designed to fit in in our church, our region and the SUM family.  

If UNITY is the call of our Father in this season, we need to re-learn Godly conflict resolution. We must learn to see others through lenses of love and not fear or suspicion. It’s mandatory that we release judgement and condemnation and search out the areas where we agree, coalesce and center upon loving one another.

So, what say ye???  Ready for a powerful Word? The Lord is speaking and again, I believe He is calling the SUM Nation to this paradigm change first. We are on the leading edge of bringing the fullness of the Kingdom to earth. Hallelujah.

Okay, here is my perspective regarding our current season of the Body of Christ:

May I share what I’ve been sensing from the Kingdom. We are bearing witness to what I believe is the closing of the era of the church of man. Where mankind led people to the Lord through a relationship with church and people of a congregation. It has been a beautiful era of people loving and helping others find Jesus and grow up in faith. As with anything where people are flawed, the church is flawed and much of our denominational separation which grew out of that era was never the intent of our good Father.

So, I perceive that about two years ago the Lord began to move the people of God into what I believe is the era of the Kingdom.  We are bearing witness to the miraculous. I know that I have. Within the last few years an entire new experience has opened up to the hungry people of God. We, as a Body, are moving away from the religious rules into the prompting/guidance of the Holy Spirit. Many within our SUM Community are experiencing a shift in the gifts of the Spirit, speaking in tongues, and visions, etc. Can I just say WOW and PRAISE JESUS!!

This doesn’t mean that the church is dead or insignificant. No, we are going to see a unity in the steams of faith. We will see divisions grow softer. We will witness church done in ways we haven’t seen before. Just take a look at our SUM church, we are a church without walls. We can expect the church to be different, but also it will be powerful. No longer powerless in our faith but filled with the miraculous and more. I till you I can’t wait for this move of God. I count it the greatest work and privilege that I will participate in my entire life, to walk in this season of the Kingdom.

Thoughts SUMites??  Want in on this??? Join me. I’ll share more beginning July 9th. See you on Facebook and Instagram. Hugs, Lynn


We Rob Ourselves By The End Game

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

SUM Nation,

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

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

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

How about you?

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

I just wonder. Why?

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

I wonder if we may be missing it?

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

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

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

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

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

My friends, listen to this:

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

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

Jesus, what is stealing my soul?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Holidays and Mothers-In-Law

Mother and grandsonAs we are nearing the season where we spend time with the in-laws, I thought it appropriate to share this post from the archives.

…nearly 60 percent of all marriages suffer from tension with mothers-in-law, normally between the daughter-in-law and her husband's mother.

From the archives: In-Laws

I wonder how many of you felt your blood pressure rise at the mere mention of this topic? Well, considering the statistic above, I can bet a number of you bristle in this area of your marriage. And, to our guy readers, I can only address this topic from my perspective but would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

See if you relate to any of these statements:

"She's always telling me what to do"

"She keeps meddling"

"She wants constant companionship"

"She competes with me for my husband"

These tend to be the most common complaints of wives. But for me, I think what I struggled with was the distance. Not just the miles, more than 400 separate us, the emotional distance. 

I wanted connection and friendship. My mom-in-law wasn't so good at that. Looking back now and knowing my husband's mother is in the later stages of Alzheimer's, how I wish I could have sat at the kitchen table with her. Chatted like friends, asked questions such as, "What was he like when he was ten? What was his favorite toy and why. Did you have to get after him much?"

My mom-in-law was way to uncomfortable with intimate talk. 

Now all these years later knowing this also helps me to see why my husband struggled in our marriage to be demonstrative in his affection. I was raised in a family where we said I love you often. We hugged, kissed, held hands, wrestled on the flood, made popcorn balls on Sunday nights. We loved. We loved out loud. We were also all kinds of other dysfunction but one thing we did right was to tell and show our love.

What I would have given for some of that insight in the early years of our marriage. With this knowledge, however, comes understanding, then forgiveness, and love. And I am determined to show, demonstrate, even teach my husband how to love his daughter out loud. He's come a long way. 

As I type these words I feel a tiny bit of anxiousness as I think of my in-laws. My Father-in-law remains a staunch unbeliever. Even after reading our book, Winning Him Without Words, he called me and said, "I really enjoyed your book. You made me laugh and I found it a good book but like my son, faith isn't for me."

Ugh. 

I believe I have shared my faith with both of them. But, there are nights I lay awake and I pray for their salvation. I may have been the only one who was sent to them from God to share the truth. I pray that Jesus knows I tried. I will never stop praying for them as long as I have breath and they have life.

What are your struggles with your In-Laws? How do you work through them? Let's help each other out today and share your wisdom in the comments. Your words may be exactly what a struggling wife needs to hear today.

Hugs, Lynn

On Monday, I will give you and update about this topic. See you then.


When Your Spouse Walks Away From God

Ps34-22My friends, as you can see from the title, we tackling a very difficult and painful topic today. It’s one I think we should address as it’s something many of you are living out. And one of you even asked for this subject to be addressed on our recent survey.

Please. Please talk about spouses leaving the faith. — Kelly

So, let me first say to Kelly and all those SUMites out there in this same position that I am so sorry. The closest I can come to relate to this kind of situation is how I felt when my husband made the choice of atheism. He’d recently bought a Bible, and I was convinced he would soon join me in this faith journey. Needless to say I was devastated. 

But God helped me let go of my expectations and to trust Him to bring my marriage through to a place of peace. I had a lot to learn and as the believing spouse, God started with healing my heart first.

My friends, I’ve prayerfully sought the Holy Spirit’s council on what to write and how to help those of you in this position. Though I don’t have first hand experience with this, I can imagine the pain, rejection and betrayal that rushes in to fill the gap once occupied by a united faith. And that is the place that we should start to address this kind of situation, because until all of the pain, heartache and betrayal is brought to God and addressed, the marriage is hindered and healing can’t easily begin.

Forgiveness Is a Daily Choice

As I shared from my own story, I had to let go of my expectations of what I thought my marriage would be like. That also meant I had to release my husband from those expectations. For many of you, this will mean forgiving your spouse for their choice to walk away from God and from a life of shared faith. Release them from the debt you may hold against them as well—for not meeting your expectation.

When you’ve made these decisions, make the choice not to go back into unforgiveness. That will most likely be your greatest challenge as you continue to walk in a mismatched marriage. Remind yourself that you made the choice to forgive and that you are trusting God to mend your broken heart as He promises to do (Ps. 147:3) and remind the enemy too. 

Also, realize that their choice is not against you, though it may very well feel that way. That is not your burden to carry. Give that to God as well. And you didn’t cause this. You are not responsible for your spouse’s decision. God gave us each a free will to choose—or not to choose—Him. 

Then move forward. Your relationship with God is your own. Continue to pursue your faith with all the fire and passion He has placed in you. 

Understanding the Situation and Applying Truth

First, remember that even though your spouse stopped believing (or think they do) in God, God never stops believing in them. They may walk away for a time but God does not leave them.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. — 2Tim 2:13 (ESV)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.— Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)

Not even your spouse’s choice to walk away from God will separate God’s love from him or her. God’s love is not based upon us—how we act, believe, succeed, etc. It is completely based upon Who He is. He loved us first—not in response to our love. He is love and that is His character.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love. — 1 John 4:16a (ESV)

We love because he first loved us. — 1John 4:18 (ESV)

Second, don’t make assumptions. The biggest pitfall I can foresee here is false assumptions as to the “why” behind your spouse’s decision. Most of the time, when I delve a little deeper, seeking better understanding from the person or God (or both), I discover details I never would have known otherwise. And those specifics can make a huge difference in how you relate to your spouse.

I know this will be difficult, but ask your spouse to help you understand where they are coming from. This is where I suggest you pray first, asking God to prepare your heart and your spouse’s for this conversation. What you find out may very well surprise you. Be prepared to bring what he or she shares to God also. You are now being called to intercede for your spouse at a whole new level.  

Their reasons may include things like:

  • Anger at the church. Sometimes we misplace our faith in people instead of God. So when they let us down, we reject God instead of realizing that we’ve put God-like expectations on an imperfect human being. No church is perfect. And it’s very possible a spirit of religion is at work here. It’s very possible your spouse has operated more under the law instead of grace.
  • Anger at God for not meeting their expectations. This is where disappointment moves in, and I believe many of us have walked this road. I know I have. What I discovered is that my expectations were based upon my own thoughts and determinations of how I thought the situation should be. Thus when it didn’t pan out that way, I was grew disappointed. This is where is it so vital that we know God’s character and that He is always working for our good (Rom. 8:28), no matter what things look like. (This one applies to us as well—we can be angry at God for what’s happened in our marriage. Be honest with Him. He can handle your anger and help you walk out of it in greater trust and faith.)
  • Feeling they can never measure up so why bother. This ultimately has a lot to do with identity—who do you believe you are and who do you believe God is for you. If you don’t know God’s character and don’t understand His love for you, you fall into a place of trying to earn His love and to “get right” with God. In our own power and ability, we can’t achieve that. God knew that and thus why He sent His Son Jesus to take care of it once and for all. Grace is a gift, and salvation is all about His love and willingness to die rather than to lose us. If we don’t understand that it has nothing to do with our own efforts and merits, we struggle to fully receive God’s love and can’t walk fully into the confidence that we are truly loved.
  • Deception. We know the truth of John 10:10, that the enemy prowls looking for a way to steel our Christ-given power, to kill our hopes and to destroy our faith so we are not walking in the truth of who we really are. But Jesus is greater. The rest of this verse is where you want to camp, my friends.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. — John 10:10b-11

SUMites, these reasons may very well be what keeps your spouse from even considering Christianity, church and all they believe comes with it. God has been so misrepresented by the ones who are supposed to represent Him best. But don’t lose hope. God always has a plan.

When Restoration Comes

And it will. Believe God for that. Stand for it. But most of all, don’t carry your expectations from the past into this new place. God is all about the new (Isa. 43:19), and He has a new plan of action for the both of you that way exceeds those old expectations. Don’t limit Him. Don’t limit what He can do in and through you—both of you—no matter where you are in this process. God completes everything He starts. Everything.

And He doesn’t move backwards. Even though you may feel you’ve lost ground or have been knocked off your feet, His plans for restoration always include more. He’s not going to make you start all over. Everything He set into place for you is still there and He will help you step back into it. No matter how long it takes. He’s on your side. Always.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. — Psalm 34:18-19 (ESV)

The Lord redeems the life of his servants. — Psalm 34:22a (ESV)

Yes, God not only redeems us, He redeems our lives and everything in them. He’s so good! 

My friends, I’m sure there is much more to this topic than what I’ve covered here. If you are in such a place and walking this challenging road, please share what you’ve learned that has helped you move forward in faith in your marriage. I’ve no doubt your words of encouragement will reach a heart in need. 

SUMites, you are amazing people of God! I love you!
Dineen


Broadening our Horizons

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Image courtesy of namakuki at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being a SUMITE is full of interesting conundrums that can at times lead to much discouragement. One of these conundrums is our commitment to various Christian communities. I use the plural here to reflect both the church we attend plus other relationships (one-on-one and group) that we may partake in.

As we’ve discussed before, sometimes our commitments can have a significant impact on our partners. Frustration, discouragement, isolation and sheer anger are some of the feelings our partners experience. These emotions naturally flow into our marriages and can cause our partners and us much stress. 

Lack of Interest

A common refrain we often hear from our partners is a lack of interest in our faith journey. So our church attendance, content shared at meetings, etc just aren’t of interest. There’s a chunk of our lives that is pivotal to us that our partners are not really interested in.

A natural flow on to this is that our partners may not enthusiastically support us in developing friendships with Christian couples, even though we may be keen to do so.

Is this something you’ve found? 

It’s another trick of the enemy. For whatever reason it’s part of the continuing blindfold that he places over our pre-believing partners eyes.

This results in the ongoing conundrum of doing life in our Christian communities in isolation to some extent. Certainly we can walk side-by-side with individuals but so much of life is done in a coupled environment, especially as we get older. 

Christian bubble

We can get caught in up in a lifestyle where all the people we associate with and conversations and so on are all Christian related. My wife raised this with me the other day. It concerns her because a big chunk of my life doesn’t involve and/or interest her. 

And I get it. So much of my time, people, books I read, the study and (at present) vocation, are to do with my faith.

So how do we ensure we don’t unknowingly ostracize our partner?

Fix our eyes on Jesus

Huh? 

But aren’t I saying I’m doing too much of that?

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God…” (Hebrews 12: 1b-2 MSG)

Jesus spent a lot of time with His disciples but we also see how much time He spent in the world. He didn’t hang around in a Christian bubble, He went out amongst the people and associated with people that many in church frowned upon: the lepers, the prostitutes, etc.

Further, Jesus will provide us with the wisdom and discernment in our discussions with our partners and in the steps we take to manage this challenge.

It goes without saying that we also need to prioritise our time with our partners. Recently my church held its annual conference and I felt it best to not physically attend so I could be present with my wife. Yes, there were times I popped onto the live internet feed but I had discussed this with her ahead of time.

I’m not sure what changes I’ll make but I’m appreciative that my wife shared her concern and it has stimulated an ongoing dialogue about it and how we can manage a balance that both glorifies the Lord and help honor our marriage in the process.

How do you and your partner manage this balance?

Please leave your thoughts as I hope we can stimulate a really positive discussion on a tricky and at times contentious subject.

Grace and peace dear friends,


Grace in the Waiting

Eagle

The Israelites were a people who waited. They waited for the promise of restoration to their homeland for over 70 years. My friends, we are like the Israelites. We are also a people group united in our time of waiting as we yearn and hope for the promise of salvation. And God has given grace-filled promises for every part of it.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable. — Isaiah 40:28

Nothing is unknown to Him. Every possibility is the doorway to another, yet the ultimate goal is always the same. He is the one unchanging constant in this life, my friends. He exists beyond time as we understand, as He just is. He is our Creator, our Redeemer, our Savior—His heart is to be all things to us and His power, like His love, is more than we can comprehend. He never tires, falters, or doubts. He trusts us more than we trust ourselves. He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. And how could He not? He knows what He has given us as a deposit, as His ultimate promise—His Spirit.

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted; — Isaiah 40:29-30

The Hebrew word for "power" is ḵôaḥ and holds meanings such as to be firm; vigor, ability, able, chameleon, force, fruits, might, power(-ful), strength, substance and wealth. It is a "power-packed" word (yes, pun intended) that attempts encompass and define His indefinable power, presence and provision. It is who He is.

Our limited power and strength never diminish or change His plans. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Our weakness is the very condition that allows His power to be revealed and perfected (2 Cor. 12:9). And He never grows weary in His own strength and He never grows weary of helping us, providing for us, sustaining us and loving us. When we see impossible, He says possible. When we see a wall, He makes a doorway. When we see the end, He says it's just the beginning of a new time, a new season, a new opportunity...

Appointed Times and Seasons

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31

There are two Hebrew words here that hold vital meanings to our complete understanding. The first is "wait." Other translations use "hope." That's because the Hebrew word here, qâwâ, means both to wait and to hope. It also holds meanings such as to bind together, to expect, gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon).

To hope in the Lord means to wait expectantly upon Him to fulfill His promises to us. He knows the times and season of our lives down to the smallest detail. He is always working to fulfill what He has promises us in the best timing and seasons possible. He wants us to have the fullest benefit. 

The second noteworthy word in these verses is "walk." The Hebrew word here, yâlaḵ, and means to walk (literally or figuratively); causatively, to carry (in various senses), bear, bring, carry (away), come (away), depart, flow, follow, grow, lead (forth), let down, march, prosper, pursue, cause to run, spread, take away. Take not of the meaning "prosper" in this definition. As His children, no matter what time or season we are in, we are intended to prosper and thrive. Even in the toughest of times, God is working to help us reap our reward as we grow more like His Son Jesus.

And perhaps I'm not far off in say that is our greatest "opportunity," dear friends, to be more and more Christ-like. Our lives are a continual journey toward Jesus, to be like Him and one with Him. I used to wonder if we had to discard all that we are in order to be like Jesus, but the reality is, in doing so we become who we truly are intended and designed to be. Our identity in Jesus is a lifetime spent in revelation of our unity and inheritance in Him. And we are provided for in every way and for every aspect of that journey.

There is so much grace for us in the waiting, my friends. Both the Hebrew and Greek words for "grace" mean kindness and favor. So know that as you wait, God's grace is there providing His power, strength, hope and provision as we dwell in His great kindness and favor.

SUMites, you are greater in and through Him than you will ever know. You are destined to soar on wings like eagles!

Love you!
Dineen


Waiting on the Promises with Hope

IMG_5515
My advent wreath—the first candle lit represents hope.

Hello, SUM Family! Life at the new Miller Home has been crazy busy and hectic to say the least.  We’re mostly settled in with just a few boxes here and there.My daughters and son-in-love will soon arrive to spend Christmas with us—our first Christmas in our new home. Needless to say hubby and I have been busy little bees getting things put in place and finishing some projects ourselves like towel bars and and a few light fixtures.

Then, of course, decorating the house for Christmas, gift shopping, social events…my list is growing, my friends. How about yours? I think we all share this common challenge of managing the business of the season while trying not to lose the heart and hope of what it truly means.

Christmas is all about promise. Our Messiah Jesus was/is the greatest promise given to us. The Old Testament is all about that promise. God moves and weaves Himself into the lives of His people with great care, often giving us just a glimpse into a picture too large for us to fully comprehend. But every story points to His faithfulness to His promises. 

Here’s are two translations of a verse that captured my heart this week:

This is why I wait upon you, expecting your breakthrough, for your word brings me hope. — Psalm 130:5 (TPT)

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; — Psalm 130:5 (ESV)

The first version from the Passion Translation brings to light the position of waiting, to wait expectantly for God to bring breakthrough. Sometimes we can get tired in this place of waiting and give up right before that breakthrough comes. The key here, my friends, is to be tenacious and one of the best ways to do this is to have a support system. This is one reason why having a church home, small group or prayer partner is vital. 

Last Sunday I went to church weary from a lot of spiritual warfare. The enemy targeted my daughters and family to try to undermine my choice to stand in a place of peace. I went up for prayer at the end of the service. A friend spoke wise words to my heart, “to speak what I know, not what I see.” 

In other words, I could speak the trouble and chaos I was witnessing in my children’s lives, or I would speak the truth of God’s Word and promises into the situations and into their lives. 

Both of these translations also contain “word,” which means promise. The Bible is God’s promise to us, and Jesus is the manifestation of those promises as He is the Word become flesh (John 1). That kind of blows me away, SUMites. That’s a huge promise and God fulfilled it. Nothing is impossible with Him.

My friends, like you there are promises that I have prayed into all year long (like my daughter’s health and restoration so she can work again) that I’m still waiting to see manifest. Those are the ones that put our faith to the test. Will we continue to contend for what God has promised us no matter how long it takes? These are the waiting places that require us to guard our hearts from doubt and encourage ourselves in the Lord. His love conquers everything! 

As Ian shared in his beautiful post Wednesday, we are a people who wait. We know this position well, my friends. SUMites, we are all standing and praying for the promise of salvation for our spouses—a promise God spoke to my heart specifically for this community at the beginning of the year. I know He continues to work in our spouses in ways we can’t even see yet. Seeds are being planted and divine appointments put in place. I believe God is “setting-up” our spouses to walk into belief in ways we can’t even imagine right now. I am contending for this for my own spouse and yours. And I have been asking God for testimonies.

Well, I have a story to share with you that I think will strengthen your faith and reenergize your prayers. Last week we received a testimony from Jamie about her marriage and her husband. This is a stunning story of God working in the most unexpected ways. All evidence pointed to this marriage ending in divorce, my friends, BUT GOD… It’s powerful, awe-inspiring and beautiful. All things are possible with God.

Read ‘God Saved Our Marriage…and My Husband’ here. I pray it encourages you and ignites a new hope in your spirit. That is the promise we hold within, the hope of Jesus, and it’s the focus of this first week of Advent.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. — Romans 5:1-5

SUMites, I bless you with a fresh anointing of hope that will ignite your faith to a whole new level as we close this year well. 

I love you all so much,
Dineen

 


Reaction Mode

Dear friends, the following is a post I did a few years back. The Holy Spirit has continually reminded me of this post the last week or so, but I wasn't sure if it was a needed subject at the moment. Then on Thursday as I was working on the registration details for the Hope Ignited conference our healing rooms and my church were hosting, I heard the Holy Spirit say over and over again throughout the day, "Don't take offense."

I assumed it was for me, specifically something the Holy Spirit knew I would encounter at some point over the weekend at the conference. Then our worship leader gave a word on this very subject Friday evening. I knew then it was a corporate word. And then Lynn's post yesterday confirmed that! Wow! Don't you just love how the Holy Spirit speaks to us?

God is on the move, my friends, to restore this nation to peace and righteousness. I truly believe we will be astonished in how He does this through His amazing love.

So, I present to you, "Reaction Mode," originally posted in September of 2011. I pray it speaks to your heart and encourages you. I've updated it just a bit for our community needs right now.

 

Reactions Mode

6a00d83451ee9f69e2014e8b804fe8970d-320wiAre you in reaction mode in your marriage?

I remember to this day when I made this revelation about my marriage. I stood in our home office, about to react to something my husband said. I believe at that moment the Holy Spirit stopped me and then gave me a complete picture of the situation. And it wasn’t pretty. If this pattern didn’t stop soon, my marriage would soon crash and burn.

And even more sobering (i.e. convicting)? I was the heart of the problem, because my heart was in a bad shape. Years of resentment toward my husband and unmet expectations had created a barrier between us.

What I call “reaction mode” is this highly destructive and very draining place where you and your spouse are walking in your marriage more like adversaries than partners. Every comment is scrutinized under suspicion and communication has completely broken down.

Though not always true, I find this often starts with women. We stop communicating out of unforgiveness and resentment. Or, like me, we never learned to communicate in a healthy manner.

The saddest part of reaction mode is that it leads to contempt toward one another. And where there is contempt, respect and love no longer exist. They simply can’t coexist. For example, a husband reacts back to his wife harshly, because he’s not receiving his deepest desire, which is to be respected. The wife then retreats or closes herself off, feeling unloved when her deepest desire is to be loved.

Do you see the vicious cycle? That’s the first and most crucial step to breaking reaction mode—seeing this pattern in your marriage. Whether you are male or female, this pattern will not stop until you make the first move. What does this change look like?

  1. Be Careful What You Speak.

You know, there were times that I realized my reactions to my husband bordered on the behavior of a sarcastic teenager. Not a pretty sight but very convicting when recognized. Our words have the power to build or break down. If you’re inclined to speak without thinking first, stop right now and ask God to help control your mouth. This is a biblical principle and He will help you. Trust me on that.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. — Proverbs 15:1

We can also seek the Holy Spirit for the right words to speak as well. If we choose words that are honest and without an agenda to prove we’re right or place blame, we can be instrumental to restoring peace to our marriage.

  1. Dwell on the Positive.

It’s easy to fall into this place where we think our spouse has an ulterior motive to his or her words. Even simple requests can turn into a battleground, because we’ve somehow fallen into the lie that our spouse intends to harm us. This suspicion perpetuates the reaction mode and is its fuel. Suspicion can also be fueled by lies, so the best way to combat this is to counteract with the truth. What does your spouse do well?

Make a list. My husband is great about making sure the garbage goes out every week. I appreciate this even more when he’s out of town and I have to do it. Yuck! He’s also great about going grocery shopping with me, and he’s quick to show his love and affection. Start with small things and your list will grow. Then study it whenever you fall into thinking those negative thoughts about your spouse.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. — Philippians 4:8

A negative thought feeds the enemy and breeds more negativity. This can even evolve into scenarios playing out in your mind of how your spouse could potentially hurt you. Then you wind up hurt and defensive over something that never even happened.

A positive thought feeds the spirit and releases the Holy Spirit to work in your mind for transformation (Romans 12:2). He also works in your heart to help you forgive and allow God’s love to flow more freely to and through you.

Which one do you want to grow “fatter” in your life?

  1. Respect Him Even When You Don’t Want To, Love Her Even When She’s Unlovable.

Our hubbies need to know we will still stand by them when they mess up. And they will mess up, just as we do. We need to extend that hand of grace and acceptance, just as we want it extended to us. I’ve never seen anything quite as destructive to a marriage as contempt. And it is subtle in its presence. This goes right back to number one in how we use our words.

Add to that how you sound. What is your tone? Are you speaking in a way that solicits cooperation or are you condemning and accusing? This was the biggest area that I needed to change, and I know I could not have done it without God’s help. Sometimes we aren’t even aware that our tone and words hurt those we love. Pull out that list you made and go over it again. When it’s hard to show respect to your husband, find the things you can respect and show it to him. Then watch him bloom under your praise.

… and the wife must respect her husband. — Ephesians 5:33b

And loving someone when they are unlovable is one of the most powerful and sacrificial things a person can do. I have watched a woman be astonished by the fact that my church was assisting her out of our own desire to help and we weren’t getting paid by the government to do it. I have been deeply humbled by my husband's love when I was in pain and cranky. Love speaks louder than anything. Anything! Love changes hearts, marriages, families, cities and nations.

God is love so when we love, even when a person hasn’t “earned it,” we display His heart and presence in the most powerful way possible by revealing His very nature. Love (1 John 4).

  1. Keep a “We” Mentality.

Isn’t this really the truth we forget? We enter in to marriage as two “I’s” and suddenly have to figure out what it means to be a “we.” This requires putting our spouse first, this means loving and respecting even when we don’t feel it, this means seeing our marriage truly as a team effort and pulling our weight even when we feel our spouse isn’t. God sees our heart and our efforts. Your actions to honor Him in your marriage are never wasted!

Don’t quit the team. Be the one who stands strong and keeps Christ in the middle—your faith and prayers do that (1 Cor. 7:14). Whatever issues you’re dealing with, remember that you and your spouse are a team. Blame solves nothing. Teamwork always gets the job done.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. —Genesis 2:24

Finally, remember that we can’t make these changes on our own. We need God’s help. Start with prayer and trust that God really can work in you, in your spouse and in your marriage to bring change and healing. It takes time, but when we desire God’s will for our marriage—a partnership built on love and respect—He will give us the desire of our heart (Psalm 37:4).

SUMites, I want to leave you with one final thought here (and this is a new part I'm adding). No matter where we are in our faith journey, God sees us the same way through His love and according to who He created us to be. We are His righteousness through Christ Jesus. And He never changes for He is the God of today, yesterday and tomorrow. He doesn't function within time as we do. He is present in all places—past present and future.

Now this is where it gets really interesting and may blow your mind a bit. Just as He sees us in this way, as who He created us to be, He sees our spouse the same way. He does not define them by their lack of faith but according to the measure of faith He has set aside for them. He sees them as they are intended to be, His children. I believe that is the heart of Eccl. 3:11 too. 

Father God, give us Your eyes, Your perspective of our spouse. Help us see them in the potential and in the light of eternity that You've placed within them so that we can love them according to that image and be part of releasing the truth of Your love in them. Thank You, Lord! Thank You! In the amazing name of Jesus, amen!

Love you so much, SUMites! And God loves you even better. ;-)
Dineen

 


The Times They are a Changin'

My friends, I pray this video encourages you. As I suggested, read Ezra and this amazing story of how God used King Cyrus, the leaders of the Trans Eurphrates, King Artaxerxes and King Darius to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The very people and plans to stop this wound up revealing the original edict by Cyrus to rebuild the Temple. God loves to turn things on end and surprise us, SUMites. Remember, things won't look the way you expect. This is not a time of either or. It's a time of yes and both and AMEN!

So let's be in prayer together for our loved ones.

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. — 2 Kings 6:15-17

Lord Jesus, open the eyes of our spouses and loved ones that they me see YOU! In the name  of Jesus, amen!

I love you so much, SUMites! You are amazing!
Dineen


Expecting Perfection

QuestionMy friends, I’m finally settled (mostly) in our new home and writing my first post for the blog from my new office. I am so excited about one part in particular. Why?

I have doors. 

Yep, doesn’t take a whole lot to make this gal happy. I can now close the doors of my office and play worship music whenever I want and speak privately on the phone on the occasions when I’m blessed to minister to someone. 

And I’m learning some new lessons in this season about expectations. Specifically my expectations of God. Early on God made it clear this home was a blessing from His hand and I was to receive it as such. 

But what I didn’t expect were the complications that came. Foundation issues, mistakes (the tub vs. the shower) and a backed up sewer line on our fourth day, just to name the big ones. I expected the little ones, like an unfinished wall behind a toilet that went unnoticed until the toilet backed up. Yet, I assumed that since God was clearly behind it all, we’d not have so many big hitches that turned an expected four to six month build into a year.

So not true.

Those are the moments that make you stop, pause and wonder. Don’t you think? If God is clearly the force behind the event, then why do we still hit complications that threaten to take us off track?

This is what I’m discovering and please add your own thoughts and wisdom in the comments, my friends.

  1. The obvious first answer is the enemy. We do have an enemy intent upon destroying God’s kingdom and all that it entails. John 10:10 tells us that. I have to say, I scratch my head at that one and wonder why he bothers when he knows he’s already lost, but he’s just a bully and a trouble maker. So, it makes sense that he’d try to come against this home in light of the kingdom plans God has for it. Most of it, my friends, it just inconveniences that could easily keep me frustrated if I didn’t continually turn them over to God. He’s the burden (yoke) carrier. I get to be His kid and stand in confidence that He’s got it covered. Yet the more serious side of this is to remember that the enemy will hinder us to order to keep us from reaching the lost. He may have lost the war, but he’s still battling for souls. And we are part of God’s army to defeat him. Amen? Our godly and kingdom inspirations will meet opposition.

  2. Which brings me to a little “ditty” I created and have written on a piece of paper that I keep on my desk right above my keyboard.

    “For every trial and conflict we face, God has already put a promise and provision in place.”

    Our challenge as God’s children is to remember to look for it, ask for it, and/or pray for it. God not only has a solution, He is the solution.

  3. Sometimes we perceive a complication or delay as the enemy when, in actuality, it is God’s hand of protection. The biggest example I’ve witnessed Him do this is one I’ve shared in the past. When my daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, the procedure to put a port in her chest for her chemo treatments fell through three times. It was ridiculous. What I didn’t understand at the time was that God had a plan to literally change the chemistry of that tumor. After her surgery they reassessed the tumor to be a grade 3 instead of a grade 4. They even sent it to another hospital in another state to be sure. If they’d put the port in her chest, they would have had to take it right back out. She didn’t need it, because she didn’t need chemo after all. Praise Jesus!
    SUMites, I imagine you can think back to at least one of those stories yourself. They are powerful testimonies of God’s protection and presence!

  4. There is no such thing as perfection in this world. Though we seek it, want it, even long for it, we won’t find it here. And that longing is just a sign of our deep and true longing for our real home in heaven. So in the waiting, I believe God calls us to look for the beauty in those imperfections, because then we can witness His presence and power at work. He does the perfecting (2 Cor. 12:9). And there is always a good to be found in everything, because God is working in everything to reveal it. That’s one of our greatest promises in the Bible and one of my favorites, Romans 8:28. He turns every negative into a positive. Amazing!

My friends, sometimes we will see the reason or the good in the trial or complication quickly. Other times we will scratch our heads in confusion every time we think about it. Those are the times we must rely on faith and trust in our God that His ways, thoughts and plans are much higher and grander than we can imagine. And just because we can’t see Him working doesn’t mean He isn’t there. I think we, as SUMites, have an advantage of experience in this area. We live in this level of faith every day as we wait for our spouses to come to faith. God is faithful and relentless in His pursuit of everyone to know Him (2 Peter 3:9).

So, my friends, these are some of the things God is teaching me at the moment. How about you? What are you seeing and witnessing God doing in you, around you, in your family, etc.? 

And one final thought. Our best stance is abiding and resting in Him (a.k.a. trusting Him). Because that’s when Abba does His best work. Why? Because we get out of the way. LOL! Amen? Amen!

Love you!
Dineen


Guest Post: The Mismatched Family by Dee Rusnak

Dear friends, I'm traveling this week and will be in Nashville for the ACFW conference. I'm thrilled to share this most encouraging post by SUMite, Dee Rusnak. How amazing to think our Lord and Savior Jesus understands our mismatched places because He lived it too. 

Thank you, Dee, for once again sharing your beautiful heart and encouraging words with us! Love you!
See you next week, SUMites!
Dineen

The Mismatched Family 
By Dee Rusnak

JesusTestedHow often have we learned that God is never in a hurry, or at least within our time frame? Or better, never in the way we expect? We read in Joshua how ripe Jericho was for the taking, but God said not so fast with the Israelites who were hungry to take the land. And, when they did, it was in such an unorthodox way (Joshua 6 - marching around the city). Why do we want to rush things and do it in our own way? For me it's so I can rest knowing my ducks are all in a row. If my entire family were saved, then peace would be upon me, or so I think. But God is drawing them in His time and according to His ways. I struggle with that.

In reading through God's Word we find that the family of Jesus didn't believe while He was among them, even to the point of sarcasm. "But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to Him, 'You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that Your disciples may see the miracles You do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world' For even His own brothers did not believe in Him." (John 7:3-5)

Mark (3:21) recounts that His family thought "He is out of His mind!" How did Jesus handle the fact that His own family didn't believe? Matthew 13 lists them as James, Joseph, Simon and Jude, and some unnamed sisters. Jesus certainly had the power to change their hearts. After all, time was ticking and He wasn't going to be on earth much longer. Time to get Your ducks in a row here, Lord! Did Mary teach them and groom them as they were growing up, especially nearing adulthood, about their older brother as Savior? Did His true identity come as a total shock to His younger siblings? Where were they during His crucifixion? Didn't they love Him or try to defend Him? Interestingly, none of this is mentioned in God's Word.

However, we know that some were saved. In 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 Paul writes "He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of His followers at the same time...Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." Mary and His brothers waited in the upper room for the Holy Spirit following His ascension, "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." (Acts 1:14) But, which brothers, if not all? Two brothers that we know of, James and Jude, were converted and wrote books in the New Testament. James later became a leader in the Jerusalem church. What about His sisters? Did He pray for His Father to draw them? Were there still family members who did not believe? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins?

If Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are, was He as concerned for the souls of His family, just as we are for those in our lives? "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus was quite familiar with God's ways and His timing. Never do we see Him fretting throughout His life. As Psalm 37 says "Do not fret - fretting only brings harm." Yet He entrusted God with all things, including Himself, and the salvation of His earthly family…and us!

Jesus prayed…

“I do not pray for these alone (disciples), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)

SUMs, Jesus had a mismatched family! We are literally walking in His shoes (sandals)! When we read that He has experienced everything we go through, did you ever consider this situation? We’ve never been alone, SUMs, nor will we ever be! He’s been where we are! He gets it! In His great compassion and love for us, He has given us an example to follow of what we’re to do while we wait: Pray. Trust. Obey. Look what happened with James and Jude! Not only did they believe, but were used by God as Bible authors! Forget the ducks. Instead, together let’s listen intently to God’s very heartbeat: "who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), and let us watch Him do what's impossible for us but is so very possible for Him!

Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband of 44 years, Jerry, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and three adorable grandchildren, with one more on the way due Christmas Day!


Part Four: The Promised Provision

IMG_0009My friends, are you ready for more of God’s amazing truth and love? Are you ready to have your thinking transformed a bit today? Let’s go back to the book of Jeremiah and take another look at King Zedekiah’s story.

Let’s look at the first five verses of Jeremiah 34, because this is where things get really interesting.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all the armies from the kingdoms he ruled, and he fought against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. At that time this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape his grasp but will be captured and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. Then you will be exiled to Babylon.

 “‘But listen to this promise from the LORD, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the LORD says: You will not be killed in war but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the LORD.” — Jeremiah 34:1-5

I just recently listened to a faith message that presented a concept I hadn’t considered about God’s character and plans of us. Then God showed me the truth of it here in this passage in Jeremiah 34.

In every difficulty we face, there is a God-given promise. 

If you think about it, if you think about God’s nature and promises like Romans 8:28 that God works for our good in ALL things, then it makes perfect sense. That alone is the promise in a nutshell. Especially believers in Jesus who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. God will not and cannot deny Himself.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. — 2 Timothy 2:13

God gave Jeremiah a message for King Zedekiah of what was going to happen, that Nebuchadneezzar would take the city of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and there would be no escape. Yet God has made a provision for Zedekiah—a promise. Jeremiah even says, “Listen to this promise form the Lord…”

In Jeremiah 38:17-20, King Zedekiah questions Jeremiah again, and again Jeremiah repeats God’s promise. Which if you look back to what Jeremiah said in chapter 34, showed God’s intention to honor Zedekiah’s obedience with a legacy of honor and praise. Sadly, Zedekiah admits his afraid to surrender and fears King Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath more than he trusts God to keep His promise. In chapter 39 we read of his failed attempt to escape with resulted in him watching his sons be slaughtered before his enemy gouged out his eyes. 

Not pleasant, I know, but my dear SUMites, here’s the other part of this amazing thing God is showing me. That promise in our challenge is the key to our breakthrough and our victory, and we walk as conquerors. And the more we do it, the more afraid of us the enemy is! 

This is what it means to fight from victory, not for victory. A promise for every thing we face is already in place for us to find and claim. We are already victorious, already declared conquerors. Now it’s up to us to live like it.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. — Romans 8:37

Not just partial victory, my friends. Overwhelming victory. God won the battle for us when He put our promise in place. Ask Abba what promise He has put into place for the circumstances you are struggling with. Has He already given you a Scripture or two, like He has given me for my daughter Leslie? Has He spoken a word of reassurance to you in the dark of night that you’re afraid to hope for?

My friends, this beautiful SUM family is a huge testimony of God’s faithfulness. He will not fail you. And trust me, I know how hard it can be to look for God in a situation so difficult that all we can see is the mountain of our pain, yet not a glimpse of what God is doing in the midst of it. But I know—have learned—from those very situations that He’s most definitely there. Just not how we expect Him to be. It may not make sense…yet, but it will. 

And I’m discovering that those are the most astonishing moments of God’s undeniable presence manifesting all around us. He’s always been there. I just needed to quit looking for what I expected and see Him.

I love you, my friends. Know that God is giving you the power and the desire to do whatever it is He’s asking you (Phil. 2:13) and He absolutely adores you.

Father God, bless Your SUM Nation with every spiritual blessing You have already set aside for each of us. Fill us, Holy Spirit, with wisdom and revelation to know the direction to go no matter what the circumstances around us look like or are telling us to do. We want only Your voice, Lord Jesus, our Great Shepherd, who gave everything for us to live the abundant life You’ve set before us. Fill us with great courage to take the next step, and the next and the next. Your will be done, Lord, on earth, right now as You have already declared it in Heaven. And to You, Lord, be all the glory. We love You! In the name of Jesus, we pray, amen!

Love you, SUMites!
~Dineen