55 posts categorized "forgiveness"

When The Church Hurts You

Hello SUMite Nation, 

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

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

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

Yikes! 

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

Love God…
Love people…. 

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

Do you agree? 

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

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

Am I right? 

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

THIS IS WORTH A LISTEN MY FRIENDS.

 

 

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

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

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com


Day 2: Altar Offerings

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My friends, my heart is so full of love and awe—of you! Reading your comments the last two days…I’m so touched and blown away by your prayers for Lynn and I and for each other! Wow! I can just see Abba nodding His head with pride and pointing out this online community to the heavenly host and saying, “See? This is what the body of Christ really looks like." 

Wow, wow, wow…

And it’s with that full heart that I share today what God spoke to me about our community. On Sunday as I was worshiping at church I was also praying for the words to share this week, for whatever was on Abba's heart for us.

The word "annihilation" came clearly to me. Now that's a pretty strong word and not one I use often. I asked Abba to clarify, to help me understand His heart. And this is what He revealed for our SUMite community:

Annihilation of all fear, doubt and unbelief. I am declaring a "holy war" on all fear, doubt and unbelief. 2015 will be a "Year of Freedom."

I am lifting this community up to a whole new level of strength and belief. In Me. In My Word. In My promises. No more of the old. The New is in place and now I will reveal it. My strength is yours and all you need I have already provided. Your strength is found in Me and Me alone. I am your destiny. I am your hope. I am your future. It is done. 

Believe ME. 

As I wrote this down, my friends, I began to sense that today God is asking us to put an offering on the altar, to release those things we've been holding onto:

  • Fears
  • Doubts
  • Unbelief
  • Willfulness 
  • Pride
  • Unforgiveness
  • Anger
  • Bitterness
  • Offenses
  • Pain and hurts
  • Our pre-believers
  • Our very selves

This is our holy offering, our incense to the Lord. There is significance to the offering and "the burning" (releasing) of that which we place there. This is an act of faith, a choice to let go more than we ever have and to trust God even more, a deeper trust than ever before.

It is an act of love.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. — Ephesians 5:1-2

Take time today or in the morning to sit quietly and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what God is asking you to give to Him, to trust Him with. Then make that offering. Write it in your journal, because I believe that later this year Abba will take you back to this moment and show you what He has done with your offering.

My friends, share what you are offering up to the Lord in the comments so that we may pray for each other. As I said, this is an act love, and it's also an act of faith and trust. Not an easy thing to do, but when we make the choice and offering, I believe the Holy Spirit comes to help us walk in trust and faith. We are not required to provide the sacrifice, just to have a willingness to let go and trust, just as Abraham did with his son Isaac. 

And of course, share any breakthroughs you are having and let’s be encouraged together!  

King Jesus, we offer these “things” we've held on to, our selves and our pre-believers to you today as a holy offering, sweet with the aroma of our love and adoration for You. We pray that it pleases You and brings you great glory. We praise You now for what You will do with these offerings—what only YOU can do because You are Holy and Mighty and Faithful! 

Abba Father, we believe YOU. Make us strong and raise us up as You have declared. In the Powerful name of Jesus, amen!

Love you dearly, my friends, and praying for you!
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The Combination To The Power Of Heaven

Hi My Friends,  (Combination is at the bottom. Read all the way through.) 

Isaiah 53 5
Today I want to share a few thoughts with regard to healing. Several weeks ago I shared with you a few stories about healing.  

I finally want to chat with you about a mystery, the healing power of Jesus. Firstly, always, always, Jesus is our healer. He was bruised (Isaiah 53:5) for our iniquity and upon him the stripes of His beatings were for our healing. Man, if you just allow that thought in your head…… Recently I was listening to some teaching about healing. Did you know that Jesus’ face was beaten to a point that He was unrecognizable? When I consider the suffering He bore for my healing, I refuse to let one little bit of it go unclaimed. I will not waste the torture He endured that was meant for my healing. How about you? 

Anyhoo, by this point you know that I absolutely believe in healing. Healing of the soul, spirit and of our physical body. I’ve seen it. Experienced it and believe what the Word of God says about healing. 

But today I think we need to talk about why some aren’t healed. Why people receive healing prayer and nothing happens or a partial healing occurs. I will say right up front. We don’t know. It is a complete mystery as to why some aren’t healed and some are. 

But I can also share some firm thoughts as to what can keep us from experiencing healing. Let’s start with three things.

  1. Unbelief
  2. Unforgiveness
  3. Bitterness 

Unbelief. I want to share a story from the Healing Rooms. When the three of us, myself, my daughter Caitie and Gina entered the room, we were already halfway healed. Why? Because first, we TRULY believed we would be, could be. We did NOT doubt but truly walked in child-like faith. I’m in a season right now where God is teaching me the power of child-like faith. I have witnessed more supernatural encounters since returning from Bethel than I have ever before. I am convinced it’s because I have combined three things.

  • Child-like faith (I will explain more)
  • Compassion
  • No judgment 

Man, when you put these all together in a soul, Jesus shows up with all kinds of power and love. 

Child-like faith is the opposite of unbelief. Now get this: I choose to believe. Flat out decide that God’s Word is true, and it is. This kind of faith is gained and learned through maturity. What a contradiction of thoughts. Spiritual maturity births child-like faith. Oh how like the Lord to purpose faith this way. 

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.—1 Corinthians 1:27 

Unforgiveness which gives birth to bitterness keeps so many of us from everything of the Kingdom. I am at a place in my faith walk where I literally choose to not be offended even when I have every right to be offended. I take the offense to Jesus and ask Him to help me rid it from my heart. I choose love. I choose love. I choose love. Couple love with compassion and it’s powerful my friends. 

Which leads to judgment. Ah, now this is the place that gets in the way of most believers. We judge people so harshly. In the depths of our heart we size a person up, declare their faults and failures in our minds and then sentence them to shame, unworthiness or wickedness. And we do all that in seconds. 

What Jesus is teaching me now is some powerful lessons in choosing compassion over judgment.   

Recently I was praying and the Lord brought homeless people to my mind. And I grieved for them. I said out loud in my prayers, “Lord, I will give to them. I don’t care how they came to be homeless or that they may be drunks, druggies, lazy. I will just love them.” 

You know what God said back to me? “Lynn, if you will love these people for me without judging them, why do you judge your daughter-in-law who has left your son. She needs help right now. Will you help her too?” 

GULP! 

Ouch. I mailed her a card, a photo of Elise and money that day. Yeppers. I did. 

What I saw in the healing rooms were those who were child-like and those who were judging everything that happened. They saw God interacting with people and God can be unexpected. Things can get animated as people encounter the God of the Universe. They were skeptical and thought they knew how people should behave. These were the people who did not experience healing. They were too busy judging…. And get this- really, they were judging our God! It scares me to even think about casting judgment on God for the way He interacts with people. SCARES ME!!! 

On the way to the conference when all of us were together sitting at a restaurant for lunch, I put down one ground rule for our conference experience. I looked straight into the eyes of the teens and said, “No matter what you might see or experience this week, you cannot judge others by what they look like or what they may do. If you don't judge, you will encounter everything you are hoping for.” 

Guess what? 

They did! 

And so can you.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com
 

Monday I want to share what has been happening in these weeks since Jesus has been teaching me. I feel like He has given me the combination lock to unlock the power of heaven and voice of God. Child-like faith, compassion and absolutely NO judgment. 

I’m in awe of what He is doing. 

And I’m STILL wanting to get onto this series about how to deal with the spirit of confusion, the critical spirit and few other unwelcome and evil entities we contend with. Are you up for all of this my friends? 

Why do you think I spend so much time teaching about the truths of God and focusing on our spiritual growth instead of speaking to unequally yoked marriages? It’s because, once we have our faith walk in the thriving zone, everything falls into that zone as well. 

I love you my family on the web. Stay tuned because the breakthroughs are gaining momentum and if you are a regular here, you have one or more coming. In Jesus name. Amen.


The Ugly Word for 2014

Hi SUMers!  So, ahem, yep..... Authentic post and a challenge for the New Year. Yes, you read that right...The New Year. 

I PRAY you are set on a new path in the next few weeks…. Join me on Mondays and Fridays until Yom Kippur for we are on the edge of our seat, waiting for the King to set things in motion… 

Let’s get started, 

Habakkuk 1 5Many of you participated in our annual week of fasting as we kicked off 2014. If you are new to our community, you are in for a profound experience in January as we fast together and listen to the Lord’s voice. You will be amazed. 

Anyhoo, I know at the beginning of the year many of you, ask God for a word, a single word, for the year during this time of prayer and fasting (Dineen always receives a word for her year).

Well, I will be upfront about this asking for a “word” business. I usually don’t ask. 

My thinking; why limit what God has to say for my life to one word?? However, this past January I kinda asked God during my prayer time for a word. I just wanted to see if I would get one… Is that wrong to share? Sounds funny…. But…. 

I prayed, “God if you have a word for my year ahead, what is it?” 

Well guess what? Yep, indeedy, He answered, “Refinement.” 

Can I just say as I sit here in September….. “Man, what a bummer word!” 

And I will tell you this. Indeed it has been a year full of refinement. And this refinement of my character, thoughts, pre-conceived ideas, judgments, friendships, expectations, and pride…. Actually began last fall…. And it’s been a grueling, LONG, year. 

I experienced life-changing grief, nearly lost one of my closest friends, my son divorced while living in my home, and there were a number of other enormous mountains I faced. I haven’t cried this much in a single year since I can't remember. Sheesh! And what is interesting is that I've discovered that I'm not alone in this year of suffering. Many believers, including most of our SUM community have experienced one of the most difficult years in their faith walk as well. Makes me ponder, What is going on in the spiritual realm? 

I assure you that I will not be asking for a word again at the beginning of the year. I would rather not know. 

You are probably wondering why I’m talking about the New Year in September, right? 

Well next Friday at sundown, September 25, 2014 is Rosh Hashanah. It’s the New Year according to God’s calendar (Jewish New Year). And I’ve been particularly interested to learn that many Jewish people and some evangelicals consider this a time when every person appears before God. 

From Wikipedia: In Jewish liturgy, Rosh Hashanah leads to Yom Kippur, which is described as "the day of judgment" (Yom ha-Din) and "the day of remembrance" (Yom ha-Zikkaron). Some midrashic descriptions depict God as sitting upon a throne, while books containing the deeds of all humanity are opened for review, and each person passes in front of Him for evaluation of his or her deeds

Okay, now I don’t know about all of this because it isn’t in His Word. But I am intrigued to think that God looks upon His children at the beginning of the year and perhaps He decrees new adventures, more depth in our relationship with Him and others, growth, discovering our destiny and ministries. So, I’m praying with passion at this time in my life that Rosh Hashanah 2014 is the close of a year of refinement. I’m praying that every hardship, trial, struggle and the many tears will be redeemed in the year ahead. 

I’ve learned so much from this year of wrestling. I’ve learned to let go of offense. I know, that I know, that I know —God will be my Holy Justice. In valleys of loneliness, He is all that I need. I’ve let go of judgment and comparison. When I’m accused falsely, He will be my fortress. And that no matter how messed up relationships can get; God is in the business of restoration. 

I’ve watched God undo me and humble me, turn me around and then restore relationships that have been badly broken for years and years. He has healed hurts I have born my entire adult life and restored me to many. He has grieved my heart over broken relationships, then commanded me to see restoration and reconciliation and furthermore to pray for people who hurt me or whom I’ve hurt. Gulp! It’s been tough. But, I’m truly thankful for walking this valley. 

I will likely share some of these stories in the few posts ahead as we come closer to the “New Year.” You will be astounded. I am! 

So as the year 5,774 draws to a close, I’m trusting God that His year of refinement is accomplished and that my heart was refined through the fire.

So as we approach Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, I want to share what I believe He is whispering to His children about our future. Stay tuned...

We, the Body of Christ, are living in the best time in the history of the world.  

It's great to be alive!

My friends, are you ready for this year to be over? Do you want a peek at what I hear God telling me is ahead for those who love Him? Stay tuned and remove your shoes for we are about to tread on Holy Ground.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com


Line by Line: God's Thoughts on Guilt and Shame

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Good Friday Morning My Friends, 

I want to add to our summer study something that is not specific to our line by line study but something I feel as though the Lord is desperate to tell His children. 

I was talking with Dineen on Tuesday and sharing with her a discussion I had with a very close friend of mine who was tormented by shame and guilt because of past decisions in her life. I hung up the phone with Dineen after sharing the story and all of sudden The Voice of God was speaking so loudly to me in that bathroom where I was getting ready that I know I’m to share His thoughts about this subject today. 

From the conversation with Dineen we were made acutely aware of how unworthy so many of God’s children feel. How beat up, emotionally and spiritually, because of the many mistakes we have made in our lives. How we live with such deep shame over words we have spoken. We carry enormous gilt over the tremendous errors in our judgment that have brought pain into our children’s lives and into our own. 

We feel like this all the time. And on dark days the enemy snakes in and tells us all day long that we are a failure. We are stupid for making that decision. He tells us to say to ourselves, Oh, how I wish I wouldn’t Isiah 4 9have said that. I would give my life to make a different decision. I have suffered so greatly because I chose to do this instead of doing that. 

If we could see this shame and guilt upon us in the spiritual realm, it would look like enormous chains upon us, dragging behind us, sapping our energy and our love. Can anyone relate? 

So right now I want you to hear what I heard from the Father. Receive this as your truth and step into His words of freedom right now. 

 

My Sweet and Holy Child, 

Do you not understand that I know how very difficult it is to live on earth? Are you not aware that I am fully and completely sensitive of how hard it is to live there? I know the pain you face. I didn’t send you to earth as your Father, blindly-unaware of every tiny detail that you would face. 

I know it’s hard to live there. I knew that before I sent you. And I knew that you would make mistakes. You would make big mistakes. You would make choices that would affect your life adversely for the rest of your earthly life. I knew that would happen. I knew your choices would cause you pain. And choices that your parents made would cause you hurt and struggle. I knew the decisions you made would hurt your children too. 

I am fully aware my child that your words have hurt others deeply. So deeply that they have forever separated you from a loved one. And I know that words spoken to you in carelessness have been giant swords that pierced your heart and left you broken. 

I know this life is hard. It is hard from the beginning and there will be struggles until you die. But I know all about every one of your struggles, your guilt, your shame and your difficulties. And it’s all okay. 

I knew when you arrived of the planet you would struggle. And I knew you would make poor choices at times. And it’s the same for every person on earth. 

You all make bad choices at times. It’s not like you are the only person who hurt someone with a choice you made. Everyone does it. Everyone makes tremendous blunders and messes up their life and the life of others. 

It’s all okay. 

You are not worse than anyone else because they ALL MAKE mistakes. Big mistakes. 

What I want from you is simple. Admit you made them. Ask for forgiveness. I WILL FORGIVE YOU IMMEDIATELY. Make right what you can. Then FORGIVE YOURSELF. 

I expected you to make these giant mistakes because life is hard on planet earth. So live in this truth. The lie you have believed is that no one else screws up this badly. It’s a lie. Everyone messes up their life and the life of others. 

But I am your Papa of Grace. It will all work out in the end. For I use all things for the good of those who love Me. You’ll see. Give yourself grace. Grace is forgiveness and kindness and love. But grace is also empowerment to do better the next time. And you will do better the next time. 

So let go of this shame and guilt. I will not condemn you because my Son stood before me with your name on His lips. He died for you and He speaks to Me often on your behalf. I love you. My Son loves you and the Holy Spirit is with you to help you do better next time. 

The best thing you can do is to follow hard after the teaching in my Holy Word, talk with me all the time, bring your life before me and let Me direct your path. I will never leave you nor forsake you my child. You can learn to walk through this very difficult life with grace, love, joy and peace. That is what I want for you for the rest of your life. 

I adore you. Please adore yourself. 

Signed, Your Papa
Abba, Father 

PS. Jesus says, “Hi.”

 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com


Line by Line: Remarriage

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

Part III 

Line by line. Precept upon Precept. 

On Monday we looked line by line at 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. We managed to get through three lines. Sheesh. This takes longer that I thought. But I hope the discussion blew your mind and caused you to pray and seek God’s explanation of these verses. 

I will add to our study that there was discussion about the context of these verses and who they specifically addressed. Are they written for believer to believer marriages only? Some commentaries say yes, some no. I will tell you that I don’t know. And I think my comments on this passage on Monday were directed to the many of us who are in a place in our marriages where we are thinking we would be so much better off to divorce our spouse because of our spiritual differences. Then remarry because after all, the grass is greener with a believing spouse (sarcasm intended *grin*). 

We will address this specifically as we work our way through the chapter. And it’s really, really good stuff. So hang in there. And I also want to encourage you to share your thoughts, interpretation in the comments. Our conversations, observations and thoughts in the comments on Monday were outstanding. 

Well done community!

 

Today I want to share a true story of a young woman who literally faced these verses in the face. 

Line by Line: A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. 

This young woman came for counseling at our church many years ago and the counselor came to me seeking my thoughts as she would meet with this young woman in the next week. 

Here is the scenario. This young wife, right around 25 years of age with two young children was a newly born again Christian. She came to Christ at the time her husband was sentenced to more than 25 consecutive years in the state penitentiary. He wasn’t eligible to parole for at least 25 years. The reality hit this young woman that she would be married to a man who was in prison for most of her life and the entire childhood of both of her children. (I don’t remember if He was a believer or not.) 

She came to the counseling staff and wanted a divorce. And in all truthfulness the counselor she was seeing didn’t have it in her to tell this young woman that God is calling her to remain married to her husband or divorce and remain single. The counselor, herself, was struggling to process this passage in 1 Corinthians 7. However, God’s Word is His Word. 

I remember standing in a hallway with the counselor as she described this young woman and what she knew she must say to her but in her heart she wasn’t convinced this is what God would want. The counselor didn’t know how the young mother would be able to remain single and raise her children. “How can I tell her she can’t remarry when she is so young and raising these children. She wants a home and father in her home. I don’t know if I can do it.” 

I looked into this sweet woman’s face, the counselor, and I felt exactly what she was feeling. She just needed something, anything, to help her understand how this young woman could remain single and not remarry for her entire life. 

I took this counselor by the arms and looked into her eyes and spoke directly from my own experience. And I said…… “You know that I have surrendered many of my hopes and dreams for a spouse who was on the same page as me. A spouse who attended church with me and helped me raise my children in faith. Now I know that my struggle pales in comparison but my pain and challenges were deep.” 

“What I learned is that all of my hopes and dreams of what I thought I wanted from my life on planet earth pale in comparison to the vast love of God. When I stand in His Presence and receive my inheritance, love and provision from Him, those unfulfilled hopes and dreams look like a tiny dot in the face of The Great King of the Universe. My unbelieving spouse, her incarcerated husband, are mere men. My hope, my everything, all my expectations, joy, and every fantastic adventure is centered in living fully in the grace and love of God through His Son Jesus Christ.” 

“God IS big enough, strong enough, more than enough to be my husband and fill in the missing places that I expected my earthly spouse to fill. If God will do that for me, He will do it for her. I absolutely believe that and KNOW it to be true for all of His children.” 

As I spoke to this counselor, I watched the love of God flood her soul. The vastness of the Lord and His awe and love changed her heart. I don’t know what advice she finally gave to that young mother but I expect both of them were changed in some measure by the greatness of our Lord.

----- 

So, today I leave you with this story. I also want to tell you that no matter what this young woman chose to do for the rest of her life, God’s grace is sufficient to cover all of her choices.

 

Most of you know that I divorced in my prodigal years. I share that in our second book. That divorce was completely selfish and I ignored God’s Word thinking that I knew what was best for me. But God has forgiven my selfish choices and has blessed me and my current marriage is blessed. We are 22 years and counting. 

I want to make sure that we understand there is no condemnation in Christ. But this study and the command is in God’s Word for very good reason. As I write this, my son from my first marriage is living here. He is an adult but is still dealing with some of the ramifications of my divorce. 

It is my prayer and hope that we all learn from this study- the motives of God and why He calls us to reconciliation of marriage when possible. 

I would sure like to hear from someone who has reconciled and what that brought to your life. And again, I also believe there are some very wicked people whom separation is not only necessary but God is screaming at you to get out and find healing. 

Okay, again family. Be gentle with me in the comments even if you don’t agree. I absolutely learned a lot from the comments on Monday’s study. I love you. 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com


Reader Question: Struggling with Shame and Regret

Hi Lynn and Dineen,

I am writing this email because I feel an incredibly heavy burden. Right now I am struggling with a great deal of shame and an amount of regret over my decision to marry an unbeliever last year. It is tough for me to really believe that through this mistake, God will redeem any part of my situation. I love my husband, he is a good man and we have a wonderful little baby boy, but how am I really able to love him like I should when he is an ever present reminder of my disobedience? I know I am in for a long and lonely road and it seems as though every facet of my life will be affected by this.

You see, I struggled with this decision and decided to go through with it. I was incredibly confused and in hindsight I know the holy spirit was convicting me about it. But I had so many people telling me that he was the one that I should marry, and I loved him. We had a baby on the way, it was a long distance relationship of three years, and I thought that perhaps I could be a good witness to him (how many women get stuck in this trap?!?), even though my faith was and is relatively infantile despite having grown up in the church.

I see happy Christian couples everywhere and am burdened by the guilt that I am not like them. I often see warnings about dating and marrying an unequally yoked partner, and get overcome with shame and worry and fear. I do not know how to move forward.

I suppose I have issues with accepting God's love and knowing that He hasn't turned my back on me, although I know that is untrue. Any words of wisdom or advice?

My sweet friend, I so wish I could include a great big hug with this email. Lynn and I actually just talked about this the other day, how our hearts ached for those who carry shame, guilt and regret over their marriage when that is the last thing our Jesus wants for us. That's why He came and died for us, experiencing both physical and spiritual death so that when we read His Word that tells us He understands and loves us even when we fail, we can truly believe it!
 
I know that's hard to believe right now. Trust me, I've been in a similar journey of late, understanding the magnitude of God's love for us. The thing is, God has loved you passionately always—before you were even conceived. And nothing can change that or separate you from that love (Romans 8:38-39). Does Jesus continually remind you of what you did wrong? No, Scripture says there is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1). Truly, go read Romans 8 in as many translations as you can. That one chapter alone has some of the best promises and truths from our Father God, including my favorite Romans 8:28, that He is always working things together for our good. Even the bad stuff, even our mistakes and bad choices.
 
My friend, you did not surprise God by marrying your husband, and I'm sure you have told Him already that you are sorry for disobeying Him, that you have repented of disobedience. So receive that forgiveness. If I can be that voice for you, YOU ARE FORGIVEN! And now know that God is still crazy about you! He still has a plan and purpose for you! And part of that plan is to bless you, your marriage and your husband and son. It won't be easy at times, as we still have to deal with the consequences of our bad choices. But God will even work in those to help you. You will find yourself drawing even closer to God if you let Him draw you close to Him.
 
These burdens you are feeling are from the enemy. He wants to keep you powerless especially now in your marriage so he can keep your husband in darkness. Take that power back, my friend (Luke 9:1-2). Tell the enemy to get lost and start claiming the promises in the Bible that are there for all of us. You can move forward in your marriage in the hope and great love that we have in Jesus. He will bring good out of all of this. He not only redeems us, He redeems our lives, every bit of them.
 
Don't compare yourself to others. Trust me, it's deadly and destructive. And what you see on the outside isn't always the truth of what's inside their hearts or inside their homes. There are challenges in every marriage, even marriages with two believers. And in some ways you will be more effective in your marriage because you will be more intentional to bring Jesus into your home with your love and actions, because you are there now for such a time as this (go read the book of Esther and ask God to show you the truth there for you).
 
My friend, basically in these kinds of places we have two choices: We can stay focused on what we did in the past and stay mired in the lies that we can't be forgiven, that we can't serve God, that God won't love us as much or value us as much, that the church won't want us anymore, that we are less than, that we've blown it, etc. All lies. Or we can choose to move forward in the truth of God's love and that He is the God of the impossible. That what we see as impossible, unfixable and unusable is ALWAYS an opportunity for His great love and power to shine and prevail. 
 
Go read Joshua 9 and 10. Joshua stepped into an agreement he wasn't supposed to. He made a covenant with a people God told him not to. But when Joshua was called to keep that agreement, God helped him do it and won the battle for them. Right now, God is more interested in your faithfulness to Him and to the covenant you have made with your husband. He will honor that and bless you for it as well. 
 
You see, for our great God, He is always more concerned in who we are (His children and our relationship with Him) than what we do for Him. That is why our greatest command is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Because He loves us so much, He loved us first. Then we are to love others. It's always all about His love and our relationship with Him. And your mismatched marriage does not change that.
 
My friend, I want to encourage you to walk forward in the truth of God's love and promises. There are so many just waiting for you to claim and pray. Know that God adores you, delights in you and sings over you (Zeph 3:17). He always has and He always, always, always will.
 
Praying for you to walk in hope, love and promise!
Dineen
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Your Breakthrough Is Here - Passover

Hi SUMite Family, 

This week I’m departing from our Joshua and The Walls series. Today I want to share my thoughts and prayer about Passover. And on Friday, I’m sharing a glimpse I had of The Wedding of the Son of God and His Bride. (It’s way cool and perfect for Good Friday. Be sure to stop in then.) 

What is Passover? Passover is a festival of freedom. It commemorates the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, and their transition from slavery to freedom. The main ritual of Passover is the Seder, which occurs on the first night. 

As believers we know we are not under the Old Testament law. We are living in the age of grace because of the blood sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus. And as a person who loves God and ponders His ways and thoughts, I’m thinking that many of the ancient feasts and celebrations that He originated still hold meaning and expectation. 

This year’s Passover holds significance to me personally. You see, since December I have been praying for many of you in this SUMite family. Many of you by name. And I mean ALL of you, even if you have never made any personal contact with me nor left your name in a comment. I have prayed for you. 

And this is why. 

Breakthrough is coming for many of you with THIS Passover. 

At the end of last year many of my brothers and sisters in Christ were in the midst of enduring and trying to just survive tremendous spiritual warfare. Many of you have battled a life that seems to have run over you. Circumstances have left you defeated and bereft of hope. And you have been in this dark pit for months now. Many of you are specifically facing crippling financial stresses. There are many who are wrangling with overwhelming anxiety, dark depression, abusive spouses and heartbreak because of wondering children and a litany of other demonic tortures. 

Well my friends, I’ve been praying for you. I’ve been contending for you. For months. I’ve sacrificed in the quiet of the early morning as I beseeched the God of the universe to silence the enemy and bring freedom to the many of you who are held captive and as prisoners of this life’s evils.

My prayers began in December and as I marched through January I began to hear the Lord tell me they will lift. There is a change, a shift, which is ordained of heaven that will happen at Passover. 

THAT’S TOMORROW! 

I’ve been praying for a breakthrough. A breakthrough for many. I’ve been contending for this shift over the home of _________________________ (insert your name because I’ve prayed it.) My breakthrough, although contended for in private and sacrificed in prayer, over the past months will also bring breakthrough to many others. MANY OTHERS. 

THAT’S how our God’s Kingdom rolls!!!!!! 

The honest prayers of one can bring breakthrough for hundreds. I earnestly believe this with all of my heart. So today my friends, if you need this breakthrough to move into a new season with the Lord, declare it now and out loud. 

Father God, I receive this breakthrough on this day. This is the day that You Passover this earth and free me from the grips of the enemy. Lord, and free others from the terror of the evil one. Today, Lord, I receive my deliverance just as you delivered our ancestors long ago. You freed them from the tyranny of slavery and gave them a land flowing with milk and honey. Today, Lord, I too declare in front of the Kingdom of God my freedom day. 

I will promise to seek you with all of my heart from this day forward. I make a new and lasting covenant to pursue you with a relentless hunger. I will also step out of my bondage and make it my life’s purpose to free others who are on the road behind me. 

Today, I rebuke and break off any stronghold or bondage of the enemy that has kept me from stepping into my rightful inheritance as a child of the Most High God. And I slam the door shut on any lies I have believed that the devil has used to tell me anything that is not truth about myself and my circumstances. 

Lord, My Holy God, I receive my freedom by the holy blood of the Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, Your Son. And I will live all of my days from this day forward, pursuing peace, joy and love. I will choose to love you with my whole heart and spend the rest of my life loving people. 

I declare and decree my deliverance, my future that is abundant, and ask today that you show me now where you have made my path straight that I may get on with bringing Your Kingdom to earth. 

In the most powerful name in all creation and the heavenly realms, Jesus, The Christ. The Passover Lamb of God. AMEN.

 

I have contended for you. I absolutely believe many of you will begin to see hints of the freedom that has just been released upon your life today. My friends, now give thanks to our Papa, Jesus and the Dove for you are been released to receive your full inheritance. In Jesus name. 

I love you. I will always contend for your lives, marriage and children. I will never stop standing in the gap when you are weak and unable. I am your friend and your prayer warrior. Your sister in Christ, Lynn

Psalm 23
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Special Guest Today! Please Welcome Suzie Eller!

My precious friends, today I want to introduce you to Susanne (Suzie) Eller. She's been a great support to the SUM ministry and now we get to share her with you! Suzie's message of forgiveness in her book, The Unburdened Heart is desperately needed today and by so many. I hope you find answers and comfort in her words below. 

Feel free to leave comments and pray for each other. This is a tough topic. And we'll do a random drawing from the comments for a book winner, who will receive a copy of her book.

Love you all dearly and know you are in my heart and prayers!
Hugs!
Dineen

SE13-1060-682x1024Suzanne (Suzie) Eller is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and author. She’s written six books, hundreds of articles, and writes devos with Encouragement for Today that reaches over 500,000 women. Suzie is a radio co-host with Luann Prater at Encouragement Cafe Joy FM. She encourages women through two Facebook communities reaching over 20,000 five days a week. She’s been featured on TV and radio such as Focus on the Family, Aspiring Women, 100 Huntley Street, KLOVE, MidDay Connection, The Harvest Show, and many others. Most importantly, she is a wife, mom, and “Gaga” to four beautiful grandbabies. Connect with Suzie at www.tsuzanneeller.com

 

Suzie, you’ve been listening to many stories from women who struggle to forgive. How many women struggle with forgiveness in their marriages?
 
Nearly 50% of the women who share their stories on my blog, or in person, say that their biggest struggle to forgive is in their marriage.
 
For many, it’s when a spouse is continually unkind, or says words that diminish her.
 
In this instance, many women bear their soul and are told either to get out, to seek counsel, or to submit.
 
The first leaves a woman who desires to stay and work things out because she loves her husband and wants her marriage to succeed, with a heavier burden. 
 
In the second, seeking counsel is wise advice, as long as it’s counsel that is skilled in helping a couple, with God’s help, find new ground in their marriage. Many times “counsel” can be someone who do not have those skills.
 
The third, to submit, is often shared without proper context. The word “submit” is thrown out without the beautiful framework of instructing husbands to love their wives as “Christ loved the church”. This is why wise counsel is key. Submission is respect, it’s great love, it’s working through the harder spots.
 
So, how do you begin to forgive in this instance?
 
It’s a blend of truth, grace, and confidence.
 
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that abuse is allowed to continue. However, he’s not yours to fix, and that’s where we often spend our energies.
 
What can you do then? You can speak the truth. Truth is shared, perhaps in the setting of a counselor’s office, or perhaps in a moment where it’s not heated, after prayer and with love, and with the intent of working toward a healthier relationship. Truth is coated with grace, knowing that we all fall short. It’s shared with wisdom and without accusation. And in some instances, it’s shared with healthy boundaries, not to punish, but to work toward the healthiest relationship possible. (A great book on boundaries that is both healthy and filled with wisdom is Boundaries in Marriage by Cloud and Townsend.)
 
What about unfaithfulness?
 
A percentage of that 50% wrote in that they struggled to forgive because of unfaithfulness. I shared Carlie’s story, a woman whose husband left her after 29 years of marriage. In this case, the word forgive meant that God moved into the broken and raw places of His daughter. He knew her. He knew her heart. She intentionally walked into a relationship with God during that painful time so that He could fill up her “temple”, residing in Her, healing her, moving in her in those moments when she wanted nothing more than to take revenge, or lash out. In Carlie’s case, her husband went on with his new life, but she also had new life that filled her up in the harder months ahead. She was redefined in so many ways – single mom, single woman. But her role as God’s daughter was made that much more clear and concrete.
 
Unburdened-Heart_GrassSky_smallFor those whose spouse asked for forgiveness and who desired to change, forgiving is key as you rebuild trust. But give yourself permission to be honest with your heavenly father, with the understanding that there is nothing in scripture that condones unfaithfulness. It’s not in God’s plan or His character. If He grieves over the fallen sparrow (Matt. 10:29), then He grieves over your marriage. He is big enough to handle your honesty while leading you to a new level of spiritual intimacy with Him and even tender vulnerability in your relationship with Him as you work through this harder aspect of forgiving. At this moment, it may seem impossible to forgive on your own, but are you willing? That’s the only question that you need to answer. God is a Healer, and my prayer is that your marriage goes to a new place, but also that you sense God’s hand over you as you work through this difficult place, and that one day you look back and see His tender touch over you and your marriage.
 

Read chapter one of Suzie's book.

Listen to Suzie share her journey to forgiveness.

 


Weekend Devo — Birth of a Stronghold

639294_weed_detail“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” — Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

Sweat beaded on my brow as I worked my way down the flowerbed. The bucket next to me sat nearly full with weeds and dead leaves. To my left, a weed-free bed spanned in elegance. Each bush seemed to sigh, free of the invaders once choking their roots.

To my right, the distance dwindled steadily to the end. Pluck, pluck. Two more imposters joined the bucket with their cohorts. I smiled. My garden would soon be beautiful again.

I reached the end. One final weed. My gloved hands grasped its protruding growth. I froze, took another look, and released my grip.

The tiny plant twinkled in the morning dew, beckoning me with its delicate leaves. I glanced in my bucket for a comparison. Nothing I’d yanked from the soil resembled this beauty. Had a lone seed found its way into my garden? I studied its form again and saw not a sight of offense but one of promised splendor.

What harm could there be in letting it grow?

I left my new visitor alone to flourish among my sweet Japanese Boxwoods and Spirea. Almost every day I inspected the tiny plant, anticipating what unknown bloom would soon burst forth from its exquisite leaves. Surely something so bewitching would promise a flower unlike any I’d seen before.

One day I checked my promised treasure again. My mouth dropped to see the transformation a mere two days had produced. Spiny projections marred the once elegant lines of the green leaves. A thick, gangly stem had replaced the tiny bud I’d thought held a dainty flower. I’d been fooled. I recognized the deceiver for what it was.

A weed.

Like a soldier on a mission, I stood over my garden intruder and made a plan of attack. I wrapped my hands around the base, ignoring the prickle I felt through my gloves, and pulled. Some of the leaves broke off with a jerk, yet the bulk of the weed remained.

More determined than ever, I plunged a spade into the dirt to loosen the soil. Surely that would set this intruder on a path to my bucket. I yanked again. The root held firm despite the few prickly leaves I held. I had to dig deeper.

Again and again I spiked the shovel around the root, giving a tug every so often. The weed loosened but refused to budge. I dug deeper. A gouging hole now marred my garden as well.

Then the nudge of the Holy Spirit brought my hands to a stop. God’s soft voice spoke to my heart.

“This is sin in your life.”

I dropped my shovel. Tears welled in my eyes. The deception fell in God’s light, revealing its darkness. How had its beauty blinded me? Had I recognized this “weed” for what it was, I could have yanked it out sooner. Yet I’d let it grow, lured by its tempting beauty, fooled by the promise of something greater to come.

I’d been an Eve in my own garden.

Head down I prayed for forgiveness. Begged for freedom from this stronghold of sin. God gave me reassurance again of my place in His heart and comforted my spirit.

I glared at the weed, my guilt gone as I gripped the exposed root, praying for God’s help. The sound of the first tear of roots breaking free from the earth spurred me on. I pulled harder.

The imposter released its hold from the soil. A long root dangled from my hand, exposed to sunlight. I tossed the green monster into my bucket, then smoothed dirt and mulch to fill the gaping hole left behind. Peace and satisfaction now replaced the tension of my struggle.

I slipped off my gloves, then wiped my brow. Now my garden was truly free.

Praying and believing, Dineen


A Mother's Heart. A Savior's Heart

Several weeks ago my friend, Tanya, wrote me and shared a story about her young daughter. And today I want to share it with you. I pray you are blessed through her words and her eyes. 

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Tanya
Tanya Morgan

Tanya: I learned the most valuable lesson from Ella, my six-year-old daughter, today. It was the perfect picture of Christ’s love for us and His forgiveness and what that really looks like. 

 

Ella and I met a friend and her daughter at the book store this afternoon. The girls were in the kid’s section while my friend and I chatted and looked through the rows of various books and Bibles. When the girls came up to us, each wearing a cute sticker on their arm hey stated that they found them on the floor. We both instantly knew they were lying.  

They swore they weren’t and wanted to know if they could keep them. They then ran back to the shelves that held all of the cute stickers and girly stuff. My friend and I asked each of them once more if they were telling the truth; again they said they were, for sure. It was so obvious they were not being honest. 

As we both walked back to where the girls were you can imagine the scene. We’ve all been there. “Oh no, I’m caught!” was written all over their faces. I was at once disappointed and sad but had to suppress a little giggle at the same time, mostly because they were so obvious in their deception and they didn’t think we already knew, but also because I love her so. 

We separated them, each of the mommies talking to their own daughter. The scene was very serious; one of the girls got walked out to the car while the other one was questioned quietly in the store. After we talked to our girls individually we decided they would let the store clerk know what they had done and apologize to her. Again, you can imagine the scene. 

Lips quivering and hands wringing, Ella blurts out first “Your stickers are really pretty…” They finally confessed and apologized. The clerk was very sweet and gracious and said “I forgive you”. I was feeling sort of proud of them after that but of course I didn’t yet let her see the smile on my face and I talked with Ella about never stealing again, etc., etc. 

A few minutes later the tears spilled out and the big cry started and I could see how much shame she was feeling. We again sat down in their chair and I told her that I forgave her and that I was not mad at her any more. I asked her if she wanted to ask Jesus to forgive her for stealing also. She said she did but didn’t want anyone to hear because she was embarrassed about stealing. I led her in a simple prayer to ask Him to forgive her. When she was done she was still crying just as hard. I snapped my fingers and said “Ella, you are forgiven! It is done just that quickly because you asked Jesus”. 

She said “OK." 

As we were driving home she was still crying, full of regret and disappointment. This spoke to me so clearly about my own sin and forgiveness. 

God loves me so and already knows the stuff I try to hide from Him or pretend doesn’t exist. Even though He is sad in my sin or disobedience, He probably suppresses a smile as I come to Him and ask for forgiveness. Immediately, He grants my desire to be clean and whole again; then He lets His smile show freely in an outpouring of love. But I hang on to the sorrow and regret and disappointment and shame. I continue to cry over the same things I have been forgiven. 

As I continued to drive home, overflowing with love for my daughter and smiling widely in the front seat, I was so blessed by my Savior’s love for me and this truth that He shared with me today!

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Thank you Tanya.

Happy Mother's Day, Lynn


An Open Letter to Celia

My Friend Celia,  

Aletterto
Dearest Celia, Romans 10:10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

God is a mystery and we will never fully understand or know everything about him. Even in heaven, we will continually discover new facets of His love, grace, and character. And I am truly thankful that we don’t have God all figured out.  

If we did, how bland and ordinary life would be. How utterly boring. 

Living life with God is anything but boring. We, the CHOSEN, live an everyday adventure. It’s often scary, many times uncertain; we face seemingly insurmountable odds in our struggles, and fight against demons and every sort of evil. 

But we live. 

We live; fully-alive, 3D, full-color, spectacular, even supernatural lives. 

I am an ordinary woman Celia, who has an ugly past, have hurt many, have felt pain just like you. But just like you I decided one day to seek God with an earnest heart. And I found Him. 

Celia, you will never have answers to all of your questions, this side of heaven. And God is intentional to remain somewhat of a mystery to us mere mortals. That is what Faith is all about. Belief. Not science or religion. 

Faith is more precious than gold and it is the only thing we possess as humans that we can offer to God. It is our love and relationship that we freely give and receive from God. 

When we take that singular step of faith and earnestly believe, God will join us.

  • And slowly, over time, you will discover you can face your past and live in triumph. 
  • You can forgive what you once through impossible to get over. 
  • You will find an authentic joy in your everyday living. 
  • You will see the miraculous. 
  • You will be astounded by His protection. 
  • You will see prayer answered in such an extravagant and unexpected way you will fall to your knees and weep. 
  • You will experience the supernatural. 
  • You will hear God speak to you, words of love, wisdom, direction and affirmation. 
  • Your fears will subside. 
  • Your insecurity fade. 
  • Your confidence rise. 
  • Your countenance change. 

You will be transformed. 

You will encounter the love of God and His presence that surrounds you in such a powerful way that you feel like you just touched heaven. 

O Celia, say goodbye to your doubts, look at the people who love God and be assured. We are His trophies, living proof, that God is real, powerful, full of love and righteousness. 

Today is the day Celia. Today is YOUR day. Decide now and forever, to step into the astonishing, amazing and eternal Kingdom of the Most High God. And live for 

El Shaddai, God Almighty, and his reigning son, Jesus.

Be blessed my sister, Lynn 

Celia, I also want to answer your question, Why do bad things happen to good people, in a future post. I’ve asked a pastor to help me with that one. I hope to share that with you in the near future. Thank you for sharing your heart, your honest thoughts and your life. It’s now up to you my friend. 

Celia, the path toward faith is this. Belief, reading God’s Word, prayer and community. Remain faithful to reading your Daily Bible and praying in your prayer journal. Become a weekly attender in a Bible teaching, Holy Spirit filled church. That is the path I followed and it leads to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit of the Spirit. 

It’s not complicated but it does require commitment and effort but living the abundant, believer’s life is OH SO WORTH IT. 

Okay everyone, what have you experienced with Christ that has affirmed your faith? Now is the time to proclaim what God has done, is doing, in the lives of His children? Leave your praise, your story, your testimony in the comments and let our God receive great praise.

To read all of Celia's questions and our replies, start here: Doubts About God.


A Letter from One Unequally Yoked to Another

I want to welcome Adriana today. She recently shared a powerful letter on our 1Peter3Living loop. I hope you are inspired and encouraged as I was ~Lynn

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AlettertoAs we step closer to God, the spiritual battle steps up too because the enemy absolutely hates to see us mature as Christians. When you feel deflated and that God is not listening, that's just junk from the enemy. God is listening and welcoming you closer. Rejoice that your moving closer to God has the enemy bothered! 

I've been in my spiritually unequally yoked marriage for 22 years and at times my husband was very difficult and I had close friends asking why I was sticking with it (even got this from his own family members). But I knew that the Lord was doing a work in me and through me was doing a work in my husband as well. 

I love how God always works both sides of an equation. In our unequally yoked marriages, He is maturing us, doing deep steadfast things in us as we walk through the difficulties. In my marriage I have learned and am still learning to depend on God, to look to Him to fulfill (for now) the things I long to be receive from my husband. I have learned to pray more deeply, to trust and believe more deeply. My quiet faithfulness to God benefits my husband even if he is unaware of it. My husband has God's presence in his life just because God is in me and I am with him. He may not yet be surrendering to God but God is at work as I am a light and reflection of God's steadfastness, love, mercy, forgiveness, and even at times correction in his life. I am God's instrument to be used in His way to woo my husband to Himself. And I have seen Him do some amazing things and move in behalf of prayer. 

I know the loneliness you speak of, always doing things solo. I live that too. The thing is to be faithful to God in what he would have YOU do for Him and to trust Him with the working in your husband. Seek to do everything as unto the Lord. When He shows you to love your husband, love your husband for Him. When he shows you to forgive your husband, forgive your husband for Him. When we do things for others for Him and we don't get appreciated for what we have done, we can endure it because our praise and reward is from the Lord, not the person. We can rejoice in that we have pleased our first love. What freedom there is in that! It's difficult at times to live with this attitude (especially with a difficult person) but oh the rewards when we do. 

Love and prayers,

Adriana


You Thought You Weren't One

Luke 15
The most unexpected thing happened to me yesterday.

Seated next to my daughter and her best friend, I opened my Bible to the passage and listened as the pastor began to read Luke 15. While he was reading this familiar passage, powerful emotion rose up from some place deep within me. He arrived at verse 24 and it was as if the world around me went into slow motion. Every part of me was engaged and experiencing this sentence. He spoke slowly and with purpose, each word emphasized and as I listened, tears welled. I felt the full impact of my salvation all over again.

With eyes spilling, I struggled to control the tide washing over me. I teetered on the verge of becoming a blubbering idiot right there in the extremely quiet worship center. But I determined to spare my 16-year-old daughter the uncomfortable reality of her mother becoming a complete spectacle in front of 500 people.

The 15th chapter of Luke is one of the many stories told by Jesus. And if you read our book, Winning Him Without Words, my introduction begins with this very passage. You also know that I am the epitome of this wayward son. I am the prodigal daughter. It’s no wonder as I sat there in church and the words….

…. was dead and now is alive again. Was lost and now is found…..

My heart lurched, my spirit soared, my mind humbled, my throat constricted. For Lynn Donovan was once very lost in her selfish life, lonely, scared, and deceived.

But…..

God loves redemption stories. His Son, Jesus, refused to let me go. He waited for me on the road, looking, calling out to me, just like the father in this story in Luke. He never gave up on me. Never. Ever.

Hear me now.    Don’t make the mistake and believe this story is not about YOU.

We all squander our inheritance.

We have let fear replace faith.

We have traded exceptional living for mediocrity.

We have replaced God’s truth with lies.

We have exchanged freedom for captivity.

We have handed over our miracles for apathetic safety.

Today, I say, “No more. That is enough.”

I want to be reacquainted with the God of love, the God of mercy, the God of grace. I want to know Him this season in an intimate and personal relationship that I haven’t yet experienced. I want to encounter this Father who waits on the road, scanning the horizon, calling to me, to you, “Come home my child, come home.”

What is your pain? What is God asking you to surrender? Our great God has so much for all of us Prodigals. Every…. Single…. One.

God loves redemption stories. We are His redemption story.

Be blessed, Lynn

Share your praises this season with us here at SUM- Join us next Monday for a unique way to honor God and give thanks. (PS. Get a Twitter account….hint…hint)

Inspired by Keith Potter. Thanks Keith

The Picture-Story of the Foolish Son Who Spent All His Money

Luke 15: 11 And Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, let me have the part of the family riches that will be coming to me.’ Then the father divided all that he owned between his two sons. 13 Soon after that the younger son took all that had been given to him and went to another country far away. There he spent all he had on wild and foolish living. 14 When all his money was spent, he was hungry. There was no food in the land. 15 He went to work for a man in this far away country. His work was to feed pigs. 16 He was so hungry he was ready to eat the outside part of the ears of the corn the pigs ate because no one gave him anything.

   17 “He began to think about what he had done. He said to himself, ‘My father pays many men who work for him. They have all the food they want and more than enough. I am about dead because I am so hungry. 18 I will get up and go to my father. I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am not good enough to be called your son. But may I be as one of the workmen you pay to work?”’

   20 “The son got up and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father saw him. The father was full of loving-pity for him. He ran and threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not good enough to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to the workmen he owned, ‘Hurry! Get the best coat and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. 23 Bring the calf that is fat and kill it. Let us eat and be glad. 24 For my son was dead and now he is alive again. He was lost and now he is found. Let us eat and have a good time.’


Out-Love your Spouse - Sowing and Reaping

Well how was the first week? 

I have to tell you that I have been on this journey for a few months already and I find it extraordinarily difficult. So don’t become discouraged. There are lessons to be learned and God surely had to teach me a few things this week. Sometimes He must show us how our words really affect our spouse. 

This is exactly what happened to me. Ugh! 

Last week my husband and I went for an early afternoon walk. We walk the dog several times a week when he is not traveling. We had little Peanut leashed and were just setting off down the street when God decided it was time. 

Lynn Donovan was about to discover you reap what you sow

You see, two weeks earlier, I’m ashamed to admit, I had a meltdown and zinged my husband with some unkind mean words. They were intended to hurt and to slam my point home over whatever we were arguing about. They did……. And similar to most men, he just quietly took the words in and didn’t rise to the bait. 

The next day I felt horrible about the things I said. I apologized. He said, “It’s okay.” But, you know what???? I said them. They hurt him and once they left my mouth, there was no taking them back. 

Well fast forward again to the dog walk. We rounded the corner and my husband was talking with me about something that happened during the day. I let out a tiny little comment (dig???) about the situation. 

He stopped dead in his tracks, right there on the street corner, pointed a finger at me, “I hate it when you do that. Don’t you ever say that to me again. You are out of line.” (I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember the exact words.)

What I distinctly remember is becoming immobilized on the spot, completely stunned into silence. I felt like a hot knife had been plunged through my heart. Well needless to say, the rest of the walk was strained and very, very quiet. We didn’t speak a word. 

I walked and I began to process his unexpected and very emotional response. That is when God said in His still small voice, “Lynn, the pain you are feeling right now is exactly what Mike felt two weeks ago.” In fact, my little dig was about the very issue I zinged him with a few weeks earlier. 

I grieved as we approached our home. 

I looked up at my kind husband and just whispered, “I am so sorry. I have so much more work to do on this journey. Please forgive me. Please be patient with me. I promise to do better.” 

My friends, I have never been so convicted in my life that the area of my speech to my husband is a rotting, stinking pit that I MUST begin to pray and surrender every…. single….. day…. Sometimes hour-by-hour. 

But now more than every I am determined to do what is right. What is noble. What is pure. What is excellent (Phil 4:8).

Candle Marriage is all about a heart surrender. It’s about forgiveness. It’s about loving Jesus more than I love myself. 

O Lord, I want to love you more than I love myself. I’m asking you to remove my old heart, of unforgiveness, unkindness, selfishness, and pride. Please, Jesus, please put into me a heart of flesh and fill it up with your supernatural love, grace, goodness, kindness, peace, joy, self-control, and more. I humbly ask in the name of my Redeemer, The Redeemer of a girl with a speech impediment and a broken heart. Jesus, Amen. 

On Monday, I have a special gift for you to give to your family, marriage and your husband. Over the weekend, find/purchase a candle. It must be big enough to burn for eight hours. Don’t forget, you won’t want to miss this. 

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 

Amen, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Love, Lynn


Revealing the Lie

IStock_000009930085XSmall One of the things we talk about in our book is walking out of the guilt and shame of our pasts. Whether you knowingly married an unbeliever or came to faith after you married, God has a plan for your marriage.

But if you’re still carrying around guilt over how you wound up in your marriage even though you’ve already confessed and sought forgiveness from God, you can’t walk into that plan.

Why?

Well, here’s the thing about condemnation. It paralyzes you. It blinds you. And it keeps you ineffective in the lives of those around you. That’s why the Bible warns us about the enemy condemning us—this is one of his most effective tools to negate your influence in your mismatched marriage.

One of our most well known, if not THE most known, pieces of Scripture is John 3:16, but have you ever really looked at verse 17?

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

So here’s the truth to dispel the lie. If Christ didn’t come to condemn you and make you feel shame even after you have confessed your sin, then that feeling of shame isn’t from God. It’s actually quite the opposite of His truth in Psalm 103:12 that tells us He’s removed our sin from us as far as the East is from the West. And how about Galatians 5:1 that tells us that Christ came to set us free?

If you’re still doubting, take the Scriptures and insert your name into them.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn me, (name), but to save me through him.”

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed my (name) transgressions from me.”

“It is for freedom that Christ has set me (name) free.”

Don’t let this lie that the enemy has inserted so stealthily and cleverly into your life keep you from stepping into the plan God has for you and your marriage. We hold a very special place in our marriages. We are on the front lines and part of God’s team to battle for our unbelieving spouse’s salvation. And for the salvation of our children. The enemy would like nothing better than to make you think you aren’t up to the task.

The beauty of it is, we don’t have to be. God has that all taken care of. All we have to do is say yes to His plan. He is our strength. He is our redeemer. He is our FORGIVER!

Every day is a new opportunity to walk in forgiveness and serve our King. Don’t miss out on a single moment!

Praying and believing,
Dineen


One Little Step and Then......

I listen as she wept softly.

Phoncrywom I spoke to this young wife on the phone recently. She found herself in a place she never imagined could happen to her. Like so many of us, her husband lost his business because of the economy and they are in a financial meltdown. They moved to a new state to find work and now she finds herself facing some of the most difficult choices she’s ever going to make.

Her pain stems from the fact that her future is not what she wants and the difficult choices in front of her are a direct result of the consequences from her husband’s past financial decisions.

Ouch.

Compound this financial crisis with the fact that this woman and her husband are spiritually disconnected, it is a formula for disaster.

But all this aside, what was truly roiling around in this young wife’s heart was anger. She’s just plain mad.

What do we do with our anger?

I will tell you that for years and years, I carried around red-hot anger that rested just below the surface ready to spring on anyone who might push me a little. I was mad about everything in my marriage and my anger was justified. Unmet needs, disappointment with many of my husband’s decisions, fury over his intentional harsh and cruel words birthed resentment in my heart and anger became my constant companion.

But do you know what happens slowly and subtlety when anger takes up residence in your heart? It will surely be joined by its insidious cousin, bitterness. And that evil and vile creature is a dangerous threat to our very soul.

For me there came a day where Jesus said, “Enough. What have I commanded you?”

Matthew 18: 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

"O, Lord, I want to obey ut how do I make myself get over my anger? It’s not as if I can just flip a switch and turn it off."

But God is faithful and He slowly revealed what I had to do. I began to pray this sentence, “Lord, help me to WANT to forgive.”

Spiritually Unequal Marriage is all about equipping you with the truths from God’s word to thrive in your mismatched marriage. Stepping out onto the very difficult path of forgiveness is one path that’s “required traveling” to find your way to the Promised Land. I’m sharing my personal experience with you on how I stepped on to that path, because I know so many others need to find healing.

Forgiveness brings healing… to you…..  to your spouse….

As I listened to the weeping on the other end of the line, I wanted to cradle this young woman in my embrace and rock her as if she were my daughter. Her pain and confusion poured from her. I hurt for her with my whole heart.

I’m not certain she heard what she wanted to hear from me but she did hear what would really help her. Fast and pray, ask the Lord to show you His will for your immediate future. He truly loves to answer those kinds of honest and humble prayers.

I also told her it is unlikely God will answer her in the way she expects. I explained that in the many, many years walking with the Lord, He often is intentional about doing the unexpected, just to prove to us that when it works out, it was Him standing right next to us all along.

Walking with Jesus can be a difficult call to duty. But walking with Jesus is a sure road to freedom, hope, joy, love, peace and ultimately a life that is transformed before the eyes of a broken and lost world. Oh, let Jesus move, let him show you authentic living through forgiveness and humility. Pray and seek His will. It will always be good for your life, your marriage and your family.

That first step on to the path of forgiveness is the beginning of the most fantastic journey you will EVER have. I promise you this: you won’t be disappointed.

Be blessed, Lynn

I share so much more about the amazing journey through the Land of Forgiveness in chapter eight of our book. I pray that the words that God gave me to share here and in that chapter are used to bring healing to many, many marriages. Hugs, Lynn

If you haven't visited our new website and registered for the marriage basket, hop over there today. Winninghimwithoutwords.com

 


A Very Different Post

Today’s post is different.

What is living on earth really all about? Can you say that you honestly understand why you are here and what your role in life is? Do you know that there is only ONE thing that is of concern to the human race?

Only one singular thing must be our focus?

I’m about to share an excerpt from the book, A Divine Revelation of Hell. This is a controversial book in that it’s one woman’s telling of her visit to hell. I agree that there is no way to “prove” that her experience was authentic, however, I believe hell is all she describes and even more terrible. I understand that this post will disturb many yet I’m compelled to provide a glimpse of what waits for those who are unsaved.

Page 31 &32 Jesus is walking with Mary Baxter (author)

    I could feel fear all around. Sorrow, cries of pain and an atmoshere of death were everywhere. Jesus and I walked in grief and pity to the next pit. (the pits of fire stretched out for miles, as far as the eye could see.)

    In the next pit was a woman on her knees, as if looking for something. Her skeletal form also was full of holes. Her bones were showing through, and her torn dress was on fire. Her head was bald, and there were only holes where her eyes and nose were suppose to be. A small fire was burning around her feet where she was kneeling, and she clawed the sides of the brimstone pit. The fire clung to her hands and dead flesh kept falling off as she dug.

    Tremendous sobs shook here. "O Lord, she cried, "I want out." As we watched, she finally got to the top of the pit with her feet. I thought she was going to get out when a large demon with great wings that seemed to be broken at the top and hung down his sides ran to her. His color was brownish-black, and he had hair all over his large form. His eyes were set far back into his head, and he was about the size of a large grizzly bear. The demon rushed up to the woman and pushed her very hard backward into the pit and fire. I watched in horror as she fell. I felt so sorry for her.

    Jesus knew my thoughts and said, "My child, judgment has been set. God has spoken. Even when she was a child, I called and called her to repent and to serve Me. When she was sixteen years old, I came to her and said, "I love you. Give your life to Me, and come follow Me, for I have called you for a special purpose." I called all her life, but she would not listen. She said, "Someday I will serve You. I have no time for you now. No time, no tme, I have my life of fun. No time, no time to serve You, Jesus. Tomorrow I will." Tomorrow never came, for she waited too long."

The story goes on the explain this woman's desire for beauty and money became a tool of satan and how even to the end she knew God was pursuing her. But, she always thought she would turn to Jesus some day. She was killed in an automoblile accident.

-----

Cross-of-christ

For far too many years, life was all about me. My need for love, for significance, for validation constantly drove my behavior. My unquenchable need to feel beautiful in the eyes of others and to be important, esteemed in the minds of my work colleagues and my neighbors fueled my thoughts. These deep wants drove my decisions and manipulated my love and kindness for others.

Jesus said: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

When you boil it down, ALL of our needs are met in Jesus. He is our provider, our strength, our love, our pride and our hope in every circumstance. He is our significance in this life.

The only thing that matters in life is Jesus.

Jesus wasn’t offering a suggestion in Luke 9:23. He is calling, pleading with us us to take up our cross. That means get our “self” out of the way. Be totally sold out for Him so that we can help others, our spouse, our children our neighbors, to be saved from an eternity in hell.

Today I convinced He is calling us to surrender self.

Self-exaltation
Self-will
Self-serving
Self-absorption
Self-sufficiency
Self-protection
Self-loathing
Self-promotion
Self-delusion
Self-righteousness
Self-worship
Self-pity

He is calling me. He is calling you so that our lives are a witness to others. We have the answers and we know the truth. And the truth is Jesus and He will set us free from hell and the truth will set our unsaved spouse free, an entire world free.

From an eternity in hell.

What are your thoughts about this post? Did you feel a stir in your soul? God is moving with power. Who in your life needs Jesus? Give their first name in the comments and a prayer for their salvation.

Be blessed, Lynn


What Do You Think?

Poison_bottle "Bitterness is the poison you drink

while waiting for someone else to die."

 

What happened in you when you when you read this quote?

I wonder if you heard a still small voice of the Savior and what did you hear? 

Have you experienced the truth of this quote and what did God do in you?

Looking forward to your stories. Share from your heart as your words will likely help encourage someone else.

Hugging you this Monday.

Lynn


A Roly-Poly and a Great Big God!

Have you ever prayed this scripture? 

Psalm 139:23-24 (Amplified Bible) Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 

A couple of weeks ago, my alarm sounded at 5:15 a.m. Ugh! 

I shut it off. Shrugged into my robe. You should see this robe. It is thick and fuzzy and fat and I look like a warm roly-poly all tied up in it. But, no one is awake in the house at that hour except Jesus and he doesn’t care what I look like. 

Imported Photos 00015  I shuffled to the coffee pot where a fresh brew was waiting. (One of God’s greatest blessings to humanity is the auto brew feature). I pulled my Daily Bible from the drawer along with my prayer binder then moved to sit on the end of the couch under the lamp on the table. I tucked my cold feet under me and I begin to read and sip from the steaming cup. 

It’s funny what will happen when you just sit with Jesus. You find out just how much you really don’t know. 

It’s been years since I overcame my disappointments in my marriage. I discovered peace and am happily married to the best guy on the planet. But on this particular morning, God was going to have a WORD with me. Yikes! 

As I sat and scribbled a few requests in my prayer book, I immediately stopped in mid-sentence as a thought came to me. 

"Lynn, you have unforgiveness in your heart.” What, Lord? Are you talking to me?” 

I sat and listened. 

And then, I was overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. It was true. Way, way back in the cobwebs of my heart something was lurking. I honestly didn’t know it was there. 

It was anger. 

Anger with my husband. I was still mad at him and to top it off, I wasn’t even really sure what I was mad about. Just mad. Angry. 

“O Lord, Lord, LORD, you are so right. It is there.” 

To my utter surprise, I was still allowing anger to linger in my soul. I was SHOCKED! But I knew in that instant it was there. What’s crazy about this is the fact that God has known it was there all along and decided it was time to clue me in. God freaks me out sometimes! He is amazing in His love and care for us. 

Now here is the wild part. 

I prayed, “O, Lord. There IS anger in my heart. I didn’t know I was saving it back there. I confess it to you. Forgive me.” 

Immediately I felt a physical release. The best way I can think to describe it is as if a rope was tied around me. It had been there so long I didn’t even know it. It had become part of me. But, in that instant I felt like a knife sliced clean through it and released the tension. I’m not kidding, I felt a physical little pop. I jumped. 

Then I sat there stunned. What in the world just happened? 

I’ll tell you what, God knows me so well, certainly better than I know myself. He yearns for every part of my soul. In that moment, I understood for the first time just how sin binds us up over time. It slowly intertwines itself in our skin, deliberately tightening, shutting down our circulation – life in Christ. Real freedom comes from confession and forgiveness. 

Unforgivness, the need to be right, having the last word, selfishness, bitterness, hatred, held against anyone is a bitter root, a rope of bondage, that will impede our full relationship with Jesus. 

I realize forgiveness is difficult. Many of us carry deep woundings, placed there by people who should have protected and cared for us. 

My journey to forgiveness started with a simple and honest prayer. 

Lord, help me to want to forgive. 

I’m sure you have heard this before but unforivness and bitterness rarely affects the person to whom you are harboring these feelings. Forgiveness comes through the supernatural power of Jesus Christ. I have found the path to freedom from my bitterness through Jesus. 

So I have a scary challenge for you today. Pray this scripture. 

Psalm 139:23-24 (Amplified Bible) Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

But expect Him to reveal some things to you that He want’s changed and then …… 

Do it! 

There is freedom in Jesus. There is happiness in mismatched marriage. Let His name be praised. Be blessed, Lynn


I Am THAT Woman

Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. – unknown 

I am in an unequally yoked marriage because of sin.  

Most of you know my story. I married my atheist husband during a time of great rebellion against God. I knew better. Raised in a Christian home, I knew what the Bible said in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 

I walked away from the light. I thought I knew better than God what was best for my life. I lived in a dangerous and shadowy world of Las Vegas. In the darkness of clubbing and all matter of indulgence. 

I am THAT woman.

John 8:1-6 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

I stood bare before Him. He was well aware of the decision which brought me before Him. My self-justified choices. Decisions that hurt others. Bad decisions. Jesus listened as the accusations flew from those around me. Voices of my past. Hurtful words, I believed were true. 

The accuser arrived shouting:  

     Believing in God is for the weak.

     You are a coward.

     You are a fake Christian. 

     You can't do anything right.

     When will you grow up? 

     You'll never get it right. 

     Why can't you be more like........ 

     You are a cheater and a liar.

     You'll never be a great wife. 

As the shouts came so did my shame. The accusers paraded my sin before Christ in a mad effort to somehow make them feel better about themselves. I looked at Jesus as the accusers finished, "Now what do you say?" 

I hung my head and admitted my sin waiting for the death penalty, which surely would follow. "In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women." 

Christ writing in dirt Time stood still and the universe shifted as Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 

I can't be sure but I think he was scribbling the names of my accusers. Fear, insecurity, loneliness, failed friendships, greed, idolatry, selfishness, wickedness, satan. 

In that moment, brilliant light flooded my heart. Jesus refused to hear the words of my accusers. Instead, He drew all the wrath and attention away from me and placed it upon Himself. 

As the accusers shouted louder, demanding my soul. Christ confronted them saying, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 

He scribbled the sins of the accusers in the dirt. Their lies exposed, they drifted away. 

Jesus straightened up and asked, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 

"No one, sir," 

"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin. 

I looked into the face of Jesus and saw unconditional love. 

In an instant, Jesus redeemed my past. Not a tear wasted. I stepped into a future filled with adventure and laughter. He birthed new dreams that far surpassed my feeble imaginings. He gave me a new heart. 

This is what Friendship With God is all about. 

I AM THAT WOMAN. That very blessed and thankful woman....

My friendship with Jesus is everything. 

Are the accusers shouting at you, heaping the lies upon your soul? Look into the face of our Jesus this very day and hear the words of truth. 

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; 

        I have drawn you with loving-kindness 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 

      "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

 Be blessed, Lynn

*This post, Inspired by Josh Clark. Sunridge Community Church 5/23/2010


Friendship with God Through Confession

Prayer:Confession We've covered some amazing ground so far in our Friendship with God series. If you didn't get a chance to read Angela's post on Friday, be sure to scroll down and read it. It will change your outlook. Today I want to encroach on a subject that seems to be overlooked too often, yet is a vital part in seeking God.

Confession.

Now don't run off quite yet. I promise this post isn't a hand slapper, but confession is something we need to talk about here at S.U.M.

Years ago I had a wonderful mentor who helped me move into the discipline of daily time with God. Another discipline she taught me was confession. Not to be confused with condemnation, because we know that there is no condemnation in Christ.

Confession is an opportunity for us to "clear the air." If you're a parent, compare it to a time when your child came to you and confessed something he or she did wrong. Though you're pained by what they've done, your love doesn't waver, and your sole desire is to move your child from this place of guilt to forgiveness (with consequences as needed, of course).

Now take a look at your child. Once the situation was dealt with and you extended that love with mercy, along with the consequences, your child probably seemed relieved. They released themselves from carrying this burden and opened themselves to you the parent for examination.

From my own personal experiences with my children, I find my daughters draw closer to me afterward and our relationship is even strengthened. And that's in an imperfect world with an imperfect parent.

Our God is a perfect parent. He wants nothing to stand in the way of closeness with him, but sin does. Sin is a barrier that clogs communication, and without communication, there is no relationship.

This mentor I had taught me the importance in making confession a part of my daily time with God. I'm not perfect, and I know I fall short everyday. I may not even know it. This part of the time I spend with God gives him a chance to show me where I didn't hit the mark and gives me the opportunity to learn from it. I can confess my selfishness, self-centeredness, self-entitlement, self-reliance—all those "self" issues to God, because in doing so, that allows him to take more residence in my heart. Less of me and more of Him.

And that is a key ingredient to this amazing opportunity to be friends with God. We allow God to shine his light in those dark places in our hearts so that there's more room for Him to live in and through us.

God's Word gives us the promise of the righteousness of Christ.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."1 John 1:9

Through confession we can walk in the righteousness of Christ as God’s friend.
Praying and believing,
Dineen

This Was Hard, But it Changed My Entire Perspective Forever

Good Monday Everyone: 

If you remember last Monday, I began a series where I answered some of your questions. Specifically, many of you listen in to my radio interview, which generated some thoughts. You can listen to my interview and Dineen’s by scrolling down and click on the audio link. 

One of the first questions arrived in an email from a friend who is also unequally yoked. She asked: In the radio interview you said: You are happily married to your best friend - how is that? How can a believer and an unbeliever be happy under the same roof let alone be best friends? 

Scroll down to read last week’s post because today, I will tell you how God led me to get over myself and how he replaced my loneliness with fulfillment. 

Many of you know how I began this blog. I wanted to share the healing I received and the hope I have for my spiritually mismatched marriage. Jesus was my rescue and although our marriage was still far from perfect, He was desperate for me to help other discover hope for their lives. So I started writing and sharing the hope I have here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. 

Next month SUM will be four years old. But, it was in the very early, early days of blogging where my sadness and frustration over my marriage and my unmet expectations were forever changed. It began with a private email from a woman who stumbled upon the blog within the first few months of its launch. 

I can’t remember exactly what she wrote and I have not had contact with her in years but her email changed my perspective forever. Today, I want to share with you what she shared with me. I want to share how in an instant, her words changed my view of my marriage forever. 

As I recall, she was an older woman married, I believe, for more than 25 years. What she went on to tell me is difficult and I think I need to share it today to help some of you see your husband with new appreciation. 

She said she loved her husband very much but her life has been a struggle. She is committed to her marriage because she is committed to the Lord and His teachings. But, her husband struggled over the years with a tendency toward Transvestism (also called transvestitism) is the practice of cross-dressing, which is wearing the clothing of the opposite sex. Not only this but also, Infantilism is characterized by the desire to wear diapers, due to reasons other than medical necessity, and/or be treated as an infant or toddler. 

I didn’t even know what these conditions were. I had to look them up. 

I read her email and bawled. I cried for her pain and for the brokenness of our world. 

I still grieve it today. 

I absolutely do not judge this woman as to why she chooses to stay and live in her marriage, facing these unimaginable struggles. I am certain many don’t understand why I cling to my marriage when there appears no hope of resolution in the immediate future. 

She loves her husband. She is honoring the Lord. God sees her heart. 

But……. On that day, my life was forever changed. I knew I see my husband with a new vision of love and appreciation. 

My husband is a good man. He is in every way what I want with the exception of knowing Christ. How can I ever be disappointed in the light of what this other woman lives in day-after-day? 

So, if you are feeling unhappy about your spouse, pause and ask God to help you see Him as He does. Then take action. 

Serve. 

When I decided to serve God and His Kingdom, my expectations about my spouse changed almost immediately. I discovered there are always others who live in situations  far worse than we can comprehend. It makes your life look pretty, darn, good.  

You don’t need to start a blog. But you could start a small study group for unequally yoked like my friend, Cindi. Cindi started a small group study for unequally yoked women in her church in January. I have much to share with you about her and her ministry. She also wrote me with some fascinating questions, which I will answer next week. 

Look for somewhere to serve. It doesn’t need to be the homeless or in Haiti. It could be once a month at a woman’s shelter. I bet that would change your heart immediately about your place in life. You can sing in the choir, help in children’s groups. But serve where your heart calls you and mostly serve in how God has gifted you. 

God will reward you a bazillions times over. REALLY! 

We MUST take our eyes off ourselves and place Jesus firmly on the throne of our life. Only then will be free to find the fantastic joy He has waiting. Jesus wants to raise us up to be more than we are. When He does so, it brings Him glory. 

And He WILL NOT LET YOU DOWN. That’s a promise. 

Can any of you tell me how you started to serve people and how it changed your life? I so, want to celebrate what God is doing. Also, if you have other ideas and areas where women can serve and not create more stress in their marriage, I would love to hear about them. 

I am an ordinary woman and an ordinary wife but I serve an extraordinary God. 

Be blessed this Monday. I love you. Please write me as I stand ready to pray as a prayer warrior over you, your husband, and your family this week. Hugs, Lynn


Church or no-Church; The Conclusion

It’s a typical hot July day here in sunny Southern California. It’s Sunday afternoon. I am in my office and I can hear my hubby clearing the kitchen of the lunch dishes. I am remembering the morning. I woke today wondering about church or no church. Would he go? Would he stay home?

What do you think happened this morning?

Before I tell you how the morning played out let’s rewind, I think it was Wednesday – no Thursday. My husband and I were in the family room watching television. I can’t recall how this conversation began but, the television was quieted as we discussed the upcoming weekend get-togethers on the calendar.

During this conversation I inserted, “No matter what, you will find this girl in church come Sunday morning.” I smiled. “I have missed it and can’t wait to be there this week.” You see, I haven’t attended now for two weeks. It feels like two years. I made certain that my tone of voice was kind and even keeled as I spoke. I didn’t want him to feel guilt or judgment. I only wanted to assert that church this weekend, was one event I would not miss. The unspoken message hung above us. You are free to go with me; you are free to stay home.

He changed his posture sitting up and leaning forward he said, “You do know that for the past couple of Sunday’s I was willing to attend church. I set the alarm and would have gone with you.”

I should clarify right now that it was me who chose to stay home over the past two Sundays. Not because I was pouting or angry or trying to make a point. I just felt like I needed to be home and let things settle out.

I looked at my man, “You know, I am completely sincere about this Honey, don’t go to church just to please me. Don’t go because you think it will make me happy or that it’s good for our marriage. I promise you, it is okay to stay home and I won’t be mad.”

“I wasn’t planning to go just for you. I want to go for me too.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

Fast forward. It’s Sunday morning. My guy was up late the night before, so I pretty much knew he wouldn’t roll out of bed in time. Then…….

Behold!

At 9:10 a.m. he shuffled down the hall in search of coffee. A miracle in itself, as he is a definite night owl and up later than usual to boot. I smiled at his tired face. He mumbled something about a nap and sat down with his steaming mug.

I headed off to get dressed and he followed shortly. He was moving slow and I thought to myself, we are going to be late again. But, I kept those words to myself for once and gave him grace.

We arrived at church, the three of us, including teen-daughter. We sat down in the sanctuary with one minute to spare. We were at church together. No anger, no rolling of the eyes, no pressure, no guilt, only love.

Now that’s a great end to this story.

Sometimes I just sit down and ask Jesus, “Why are you so patient with me? I seem to make things harder for You, Lord. Forgive me.”

I have learned many lessons over the past several weeks. It is hard to share with you how my selfishness can get in the way of God’s efforts, how human I can be, and how I can struggle to truly practice what I preach. Gulp, but I pray that someone will read this story and realize that God will go to great lengths to change a selfish little girl like me and to reach out to an unbeliever like my husband. He NEVER stops working on our character, our relationships nor our marriages. He never stops pursing the lost.

And He will never give up on you either. NEVER!

He loves us that much. How awesome is that?

Be Blessed, Lynn

Church or no-Church, Part I

Church or no-Church, Part II

Church or no-Church, Part III


Most Unusual Birthday Gift

I remember a chat I had with Rebecca Saville, Psychologist and contributor here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage, several moths ago. We were talking about men and women and about how we view change in our marriage relationship in very different ways. She said this:

A woman marries a man thinking she can change him.

A man marries a woman thinking she will never change.

-They’re both wrong.

Most of us learn the reality of this truth the hard way. I know I did.

I write frequently about change and releasing unrealistic expectations. Most of you know my personal story and how my marriage changed when I allowed Jesus to change me first.

However changing doesn't always have to be about us. It is not wrong to want our spouse to change in some areas, especially to have a heart-change and become a believer. There are opportunities where we can gently “coach” our mate.

I want to share a story with you about one of my good friends who created real change in her marriage.

 _____

He worked long and crazy hours, traveling in a large metropolitan area to different job sites. His day-planner included numerous appointments and some socializing which often took him over an hour’s travel away from home on busy California freeways. His job required him to work frequently after the dinner hour.

In his haste to meet with clients and get everything done in the day, he didn’t come through the door until after she was almost frantic with worry. As the hours between 5 p.m. and when he arrived home ticked away, she worried about an accident on the job site or possibly on the freeway. She rarely knew when to expect him home for dinner. He never thought to call her to release her from worry and give her a time when he might arrive home. She could rarely reach him by phone to still her fretting.

They argued about the situation frequently. Promises were made but were later broken and the cycle went on like this for a while.

They both loved each other deeply but this one area of contention between them began to grow bitterness. She was angry he never called to say when he would be home. He was angry she didn’t trust him and felt he didn’t need to check in like a child.

One day on her birthday as they sat over a wonderful candle light dinner, she gently yet firmly explained her hurt. Then she said to him, “I want a phone call for my birthday. The only thing, the best gift you could ever give me, is a phone call by five o’clock.”

He gave her this gift. The best and easiest gift he had ever given her.

Since that day he telephones every day at five and to her delight and further still, he also calls her during lunch just to check in and say, “Hi, I love you.”

______

Would you be willing to give up a new sweater or earrings? Could you ask for a similar gift like this for your birthday, Mother’s Day or Christmas?

As you consider what gift you might ask of your spouse, be very careful that your request is simple and doable. Make sure your gift request is not manipulative or motivated out of spite or sheer selfishness. Consider carefully, prayerfully how your spouse would consider your request and is it something that truly is worth this rare opportunity.

Be Blessed, Lynn