54 posts categorized "Friendship With God"

Weekend Worship — Ascribe Unto the Lord

My friends, let's give Teresa special thanks and prayers for her work this past week. She not only wrote those amazing posts for us, but she was also writing in the comments and encouraging so many of us. Thank you, Teresa! You have served the SUMites with such grace and generosity! We are so blessed by you!

Some of us experienced great revelations and more than we expected to hear. Some of us are feeling a little disappointed that we didn't hear more and may even be feeling like we failed. But this is what I firmly believe to be true. What happened during this fast for each and every one of us is EXACTLY what Abba wanted to transpire. He knows what we need best and when we need it. Trust Him to continue to bring more revelations and understandings as the year progresses. This is why journals are so important. So we can go back and be reminded of what Abba said, which will help us stay focused and recognize when our prayers are being answered!

And I want to encourage you all to continue to seek Abba just for His presence. I'm learning first and foremost that He wants us to put our relationship with Him above all else. Not our gifts, not what we do for Him, or even how we seek to serve Him. Not even the dreams and passions He places in us. He wants to give us His heart with no strings attached. So give Him yours without any strings too. Make knowing Him your priority over serving Him.

For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” — Matthew 6:25-34

Seek Him above all else, and the "else" will come! Trust Him for this, my friends. He will not fail you!

Here are two songs that seem the perfect close to our week. The first is for our praise and worship of our King Jesus. He is our everything! Let's give Him all the glory of this week. Fill the comments with praise ans worship to Him! And the second is our statement of faith for 2014. We will not be shaken, amen? Amen!

Love you, my SUMite family so much. Be shiney for Jesus!
Dineensig


A Miracle Perhaps???

So my friends, I issued a kissing challenge on Monday. And I arrived home from traveling on Sunday and found myself with a giant cold. Achew! 

So there wasn’t any kissing happening around here. Bummer. I hope I start to feel better next week. And I have another challenge on Monday that will bring a smile to your face as it’s a challenge in our faith walk as well as our marriages. 

But today, I want to share with you a couple of fun stories from my travels this past weekend. Sometimes I’m simply overwhelmed by God’s favor. He delights showing up in the little things. I shared this particular adventure on my Facebook Page last Thursday. 

Here is what happened. 

I was traveling to Topeka, Kansas as my mother was being honored by Washburn University as an Alumni Fellow for 2013. It was a big deal and I’m glad I attended. 

I made my flight reservations and seat assignments several months ago. My mom, sister, and niece who were flying together also made reservations and seat assignments separately. The only plan was to meet in Denver and fly on the same plane to Kansas City. 

The day of the flight arrives and due to weather my flight from San Diego to Denver was late. I was barely able to make the connection and boarded the flight from Denver to Kansas City. I boarded the flight before my mom, sister and niece not knowing their seat assignment. 

Well low and behold. I’m seated waiting for the plane to fill up and looking for my mom and wondering where she will be seated when I spot her coming directly toward me. And guess what? Her seat assignment was right next to me. The very seat next to mine. My nice sat next to her and my sister was one row forward. 

Say WHAT??? 

God loves to delight me…. Every….. Single….. Day… 

And He wants to delight you too. It’s learning to give all of your life to Him and then watch as He displays His glory. 

Oh and a P.S. On my return flight, I stopped in the bathroom in the Denver airport. I stepped into the last stall in the bathroom and this is what I found on the floor. 


IMG_1161[1]

All I can say….. Amen… Jesus Amen. 

Have an amazing day living in His Presence. I’m off to the couch with my cold meds. Achew! Love you… Achew! 

 


He Holds Our Tears

My friends, Dineen here. Lynn let me hyjack the blog today because we agreed the messages I received from the Holy Spirit are so needed right now and time sensitive. Get ready to read and grab a tissue. God rocked my world and now He's about to rock yours.

But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus *said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). — John 20:11-16

Mary stood by the tomb weeping and Jesus showed up. Not when Peter and John where there but after they left. He came in the midst of Mary's tears to bring her reassurance and comfort.

Dear friends, I sense many of us are standing by a tomb of disappointment right now weeping. We are only seeing the emptiness and not the promise. The tomb had to be emptied first in order for the full promise to manifest in Jesus' ascension and our reception of the Holy Spirit.

But do you see how Jesus appeared just for Mary? He saw her pain and need. Mary and Jesus have a history. They have a friendship and in her grief, Jesus stood right next to her, yet again. Just as he had when Lazarus died.

Loved ones, you too have a history and friendship with Jesus. He is standing right next to you and He wants you to know He's there. And He wants you to stop looking into that empty tomb and keep your eyes on Him.

This is a time of intense waiting that comes before the time of breakthrough. But it's crucial that we understand waiting doesn't mean that we do nothing. This is our time to pray and trust and believe and worship.

Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

I put two translations of this wonderful verse to remind you that wait and hope are interchangeable words in Hebrew. Waiting is hoping and hoping is waiting.

Whatever Jesus is asking you to do right now, do it. Don't scurry into action and do what you think you should be doing. Stop, be still and tell Jesus you are ready to hear whatever it is He wants to tell you and ask Him what He wants you to do right now.

Then listen. You may "hear" a short phrase or see just a word in your mind's eye. Whatever you sense, hold onto it. Trust that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you.

My dear SUMites, we have Jesus by our side all the way. That is our greatest promise and gift. As I came to the end of this post, this is the message that poured out from the Holy Spirit. This is Jesus' message to all of us:

Look for me, seek me. You look at me yet do not see that I am right there beside you. I hold your tears, everyone of them, in my hands and in my heart. I behold you with great affection and favor. Trust Me now as you have never trusted Me before. This is not an action but a choice. Make the choice and then trust Me to do this work in you. I am the perfecter of your faith and I stand in the gap between what you perceive to be reality and what I have ordained to be true. Let Me bring you to the side of truth.

Do not lose hope. The enemy wants to make you think you have but you haven't for I am your hope and you will never lose Me. Just look! See? I am there. I am right there.

Shortly after I wrote this I began praying for God to send an army of angels to surround the SUMites and stop the plans the enemy has set against us. Before I could even finish praying, God stopped me with an image. He showed me that we are already surrounded and not just surrounded but we, the SUMites, are part of this great army. We stand in a great circle, each of us, with an angel on each side of us and we are linked arm and arm with them! It is glorious! I was so overcome by the beauty of it I burst into tears. My friends, we stood as tall and proud as these giant angels! Our chins were held high and we glowed! Within the circle was all our loved ones. Our unbelievers/prebelievers stood in the middle and our children ran around them within the circle, full of joy and peaking through our legs but they were not afraid of the enemy's presence.

I was so overcome by this image. It was so incredibly beautiful. I told God this and He said, "This is sanctification." I also sensed that the joy in our children is a crucial part to our places right now. They are part of our strength.

Stand in His mighty presence, my friends! We are upheld and reinforced as never before!
Love you so much!
Dineen


God is in the Details

17279092_sHello my dear friends! This week I'm working through my portion of the edits on our book, Not Alone (Lynn gets to do hers next week). I was so focused on this yesterday that I totally forgot to write a post for today! So sorry about that. I can't sit at my desk for really long periods right now either. Seems that nasty cold I caught before my daughter's wedding left me with a case of costochondritis. Sounds like an addiction to Costco, doesn't it? I wish. It's an inflammation of the cartilage of rib cage. No fun!

So this post will be short and sweet, but you know, some of the best truths we have from God are short and sweet, like my favorite, Romans 8:28.

I'm going to share a little story I've been saving. While Lynn and I were at the conference we spoke at in May, I was so impressed with all the work the ministry team put into every part of this conference. Even the decorations in the ladies room!

I said as much to one dear sister in Christ and she said this, "Well, you know what they say, God is in the details."

I don't know how to explain what happened next, but it was like the Holy Spirit jumped up and took over. You know how that happens when you say something you know didn't come from you?

What came out of my mouth was this, "And you know what the best part is? We're His details!"

Wow. I just love that! My friends, we are God's details. Abba spoke everything on this earth into existence, but us, He formed with His hands (like the potter!). Think about the love and care He took to do so, think about His heart for us, think about how all that translates into His desire to have a personal and intimate relationship with us, because, speaking as an artist, when I fashion something well, I take great pleasure gazing upon and appreciating my work.

God’s love is overwhelming! And this makes so much sense when you think of it in terms of Christ in us. God fashioned us from the very beginning to be vessels for His Holy Spirit.

Christ in us—God is in the details.

For the rest of this week, anytime a negative thought about you crosses your mind or someone speaks unkindly to you, I want you to stop and praise God out loud, "Abba, thank you that I am one of your details. Thank you for planning and forming me with such love and care" (Psalm 139).

Countering lies with His truth is our sword and God's love is the edge on that blade. So wield it!

Love you all so very, very much, my fellow details!
Dineen

Image credit: grthirteen / 123RF Stock Photo

Weekend Worship — Walking in Freedom

My friends, this last week has been amazing! If you haven't read the posts and comments, please take the time to read and pray and soak in what God is doing right here in this amazing community of believers! The words and prayers are so precious and encouraging. 

God has big plans for us, dear ones. I just sense that deep in my heart and in my spirit. He sees our willing hearts and hunger for Him and He's honoring us in ways we have yet to even see. I'm so excited over this and what He's doing and putting together. Prepare to be blown away!

And as we've talked about this week, our enemy wants to undo us, especially as we seek God more passionately and walk with Him more closely. But as Chris Thomlin sings in this song below, whom shall we fear? Nothing planned against us will stand because Jesus is our friend and his angel armies surround us, fight for us and protect us. Woohooo!

No fear, no fear, no fear! 

Love you with the passion of Jesus, my friends!
Dineen 

Thank you for sharing this song with us, Missie! Hugs!


Weekend Devo — Feeding on God's Best

IStock_000013074149XSmallLike newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. — 1Peter 2:2-3

Have you ever noticed how you wind up drifting away from your spouse when you don’t spend time together and make time to talk and interact—on purpose, not just out of necessity? Have you noticed how you drift away from God when you forget to pray or wind up so busy you don’t keep that appointed time to meet with Him?

Do you see the connection? Our marriages are an earthly representation of our relationship to Christ, as his bride. When we see our marriages as a training ground of being intentional in a relationship, we are learning what it means to be intentional in our relationship with God.

Just as we have to be intentional in our marriages in order to grow closer to our spouse and mature the relationship, we need to do the same thing in our relationship with God to mature spiritually.

We can’t keep living on milk. Sometimes we have to take a hefty bite of the solid stuff and chew on it for a while to learn and grow in our marriages and our faith. Even when it seems scary, too hard, or just too much work.

Remaining in infancy keeps us from fully experiencing who God is, who our spouses are, and what our marriages and faith lives can become. We miss out on the tasty, meaty stuff.

I know this faith walk isn’t easy. Sometimes God calls us to trust Him in whole new ways and calls us to difficult tasks and directions. Not to starve or punish us, but to feed us with His best.

Praying & believing,
Dineen


Weekend Devo — Do Whatever Brings You Back to Your Heart and the Heart of God

(In honor of Father's Day, we'd like to share this excerpt from Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul by John Eldredge.)

865 Against the flesh, the traitor within, a warrior uses discipline. We have a two-dimensional version of this now, which we call a "quiet time." But most men have a hard time sustaining any sort of devotional life because it has no vital connection to recovering and protecting their strength; it feels about as important as flossing. But if you saw your life as a great battle and you knew you needed time with God for your very survival, you would do it. Maybe not perfectly-nobody ever does and that's not the point anyway-but you would have a reason to seek him. We give a halfhearted attempt at the spiritual disciplines when the only reason we have is that we "ought" to. But we'll find a way to make it work when we are convinced we're history if we don't.

Time with God each day is not about academic study or getting through a certain amount of Scripture or any of that. It's about connecting with God. We've got to keep those lines of communication open, so use whatever helps. Sometimes I'll listen to music; other times I'll read Scripture or a passage from a book; often I will journal; maybe I'll go for a run; then there are days when all I need is silence and solitude and the rising sun. The point is simply to do whatever brings me back to my heart and the heart of God.

The discipline, by the way, is never the point. The whole point of a "devotional life" is connecting with God. This is our primary antidote to the counterfeits the world holds out to us.

(pp 171-172)


The Heart of the Matter

933344_i_love_you Over the last two weeks I’ve shared the importance of having a quiet time. My fear is that we haven’t covered the heart of this discipline and see it more as a duty, so I want to make that clear today.

Not having a quiet time each day isn’t a sin. You haven’t broken a law or anything like that. Above all else, do not let this become something legalistic in your life. And I say that as someone who could fall into legalism and must guard against it.

At the very least, see having a quiet time with God as an opportunity to grow closer to Him and understand His love for you. And to the extreme, see it as a life preserver to your spirit in a drowning world ruled by an enemy who loves nothing more than to keep us from experiencing an effective life in Christ. Our time with God and reading His Word every day is the only way to arm ourselves against our common enemy.

So do it. Find what works for you and do it. Make this the most important part of your day. After all, Jesus thinks you’re that important—important enough to die for.

Even during times when you feel distant from God, keep this appointment and work through whatever it is He might be trying to teach you. Sit quietly before God and seek Him. My mentor told me that too.

And I’m so glad she did because there was a time that I felt that no matter how hard I sought God, I could not find Him—couldn’t sense Him near me. I persisted. I pursued God. I cried out to Him to answer me. Finally, He did. He rewarded me with His presence and showed me that He wanted me to understand the emptiness without Him.

I’ve never stopped seeking Him since. I hope I never wind up in a desert that dry again. God knows what we need now and what we will need in the future. I dare to say that had God not taught me that early on, I may not be walking as closely with Him now.

From a Biblical example, look at David. He sought God his entire life through the good and the bad. And God saw him as a man after His own heart. David wasn’t perfect. He messed up pretty bad at times and still suffered the consequences of his poor choices. But he never stopped pursuing God and God rewarded him for that.

Hear David’s passion in Psalm 27:8:

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.

David knew the source of his strength and hope was God. That no matter what, no matter how inconsistent the world and people around him were, God was constant. Always there. Always helping. Always loving.

And hear what God tells us He will do when we seek Him:

But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. — Deuteronomy 4:29

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. — Jeremiah 29:13

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. — Matthew 7:7

God’s Word is clear. When we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him—our great Lord, our King, our Savior Jesus. We will find God.

So seek and pursue God in those quiet moments so you can hear Him through His Word, through your prayers, and through those God strategically places around you.

And through that small voice that speaks to a willing heart.

Praying and believing,
Dineen


A Divine Appointment

IStock_000014889792XSmall I’ve been on a quest.

What kind of quest, do you ask? A quest to understand how to listen to God better. To hear Him more clearly. I don’t want to miss a thing He has to tell me.

Hearing God is not something that comes easily. (And please understand I'm using the word "hear" figuratively. God communicates through His Word and gives us impressions through the Holy Spirit.) We have to work at it just like we do in our earthly relationships. In order to hear what another person has to say, we have to spend time with them—be in their presence. I can’t expect to know what my husband is about and who he is if I don't spend time with him. Nor will I be able to hear him if I’m not in the same room with him.

Same thing goes for God. We can’t know who He is and what His will is for our lives if we don’t spend time with Him. I know we’ve touched on that here in the past but I think it’s something we need to talk about again.

Are you spending time with God everyday? Just 10 or 15 minutes even? A time that you can simply sit, be still and KNOW that He is the God of your life?

This isn’t just something that’s good to do. It’s necessary in order for us to truly know our Creator, because you know what? He is pretty cool and has a lot to tell us. His Word is full of stuff that He intentionally put there because He wanted us to know it. That’s right. The Bible isn’t just a mish mash of stuff some guys threw together. Every word in that book is there because God wants us to know it. And not reading it is as if your spouse wrote this amazing love letter to you—a long one full of the most important things he will ever say to you—and you left it unopened and sealed in the envelope.

There’s another important aspect I want to bring out here as well. We have often said here at S.U.M. that the changes we often desire in our lives and marriages have to start with us. If we’re not spending that time with God, how are those changes going to happen?

If you want to see God work in your marriage and in your life in ways you can’t even imagine, make a commitment now to spend time with Him every morning. If you have to get up 15 minutes earlier, do it. If you have to give up a TV show, do it. What God has for you is more entertaining and valuable anyway.

And please don’t think I don’t understand how difficult this can be at first. I truly do. I had to learn to do this when my girls were little. The only way I could get a quiet time was to get up before my family. Often before the sun had even begun to peak open its own eyes. But I will tell you that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had not made that commitment and kept that appointment with God almost everyday for the last 15 years. Even on Sundays before church!

Nor have I regretted a minute of it. My time spent with God keeps me centered and helps me manage the rest of my day. Things still get done. In fact, they get done better.

So, are you struggling in your life? Are you finding things just aren’t working? Are you tired and want to get off the merry-go-round? Start tomorrow. Set that alarm a little earlier. Ask God to help you find a time that will work if you have to. I know He will because He’s done that for me too. Then keep that appointment everyday. Protect that time as if it is the most important appointment you will ever have in your life.

Because you know what? The Creator of the universe is waiting to meet with you. He loves you desperately and wants you to know that. Don’t stand Him up.

Praying and believing,
Dineen


Are You Desperate?

There came a day.

That day when I finally said, “I can’t do this anymore.”

I am a determined and self-sufficient woman and for “that” day to finally arrive, I was truly at the end of my rope. I was desperate.

I couldn’t have one more argument over my faith with him.

I was done trying to help him find Jesus.

I couldn’t take one more hurtful word about my Lord.

I was desperate.

Why is it that we must finally travel this desolate road of desperate into the wilderness? Why do we think we can handle our life on our own strength, by our own wits, with our own intellect?

My journey to the Land of Desperate was necessary. I needed to realize I was….

Desperate for Jesus.

Jesus had to take me to the end of myself to see that everything I was working to accomplish was nothing. He needed me to see that I just needed Him.

When I finally came to this place in my marriage that is when I truly discovered Jesus. He is all I need. Jesus is my Hero. Jesus is my provider. Jesus is my strength. Jesus is my joy, and hope and love and future and… and… and….

I finally decided that reading the Bible might make a difference. (What a thought) I began getting up early and would read from my daily Bible then pray. Every morning. Without fail.

    Theholybible

That was 14 years ago and I still meet with the King today, every morning, early with coffee in hand and my daily Bible.

Are you desperate? Meet with the King every morning. It will change your life. And that’s a promise.

Be embraced this day my friends and meet with the King. He has so much to give you and it will blow your mind. Hugs, Lynn


The Hummingbird Atheist

I snapped this photo last night from my family room window. We are looking into the backyard. It’s twilight in this scene. It’s the mad rush of the Hummingbirds.

If you know an unbeliever this is a good story. If you are a believer, this is a GREAT story. Let this tiny bird reveal some very BIG things about our God! Read the entire post at Laced With Grace, The Hummingbird Atheist.

Here are a few more photos I snapped last night.

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Are You Going to Dream Big in 2011?

Fasting banner 2011 
 

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Do you really believe God? Do you read this passage and think this promise is for somebody else?That God really doesn’t care about what you desire deep in your heart?

I’m here to tell you that we can believe this simple passage with full confidence.

Now read further:

Psalm 37:5-9 Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

What do you want in 2011?

Do you have big dreams or are you looking to move out of survival mode?

Would you like to know what God wants for you in the year ahead? I know that's what I want.

What is the key to this passage? Look at the first sentence. Delight.

Delight in the Lord!

Definition: *To take great pleasure or joy. *To give great pleasure or joy.

So HOW do we delight in the Lord?

Well it really is quite simple. It's through our worship, prayers and fasting.

On January 2nd, we will join together as a community of believers here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. We will fast together, pray together, worship together. Our only purpose is to seek to delight in the Lord. But I’m certain if you dare to walk this week with Jesus you will not only find delight, but you will also find:

  • Your spirit becomes uncluttered by the things of this world and amazingly sensitive to the things of God when you fast.
  • Fasting brings one into a deeper, more intimate and powerful relationship with the Lord.
  • Addictions will be broken.
  • Marriages will be redeemed.
  • Salvation and redemption of lives of our husbands, children will be set in motion.
  • Ministries will be raised.

You will hear from the Lord in such a way it will astound you.

So start today to ask the Lord about your first week in January. Ask Him about your 2011. Ask Him what kind of fast and how long to fast. Ask Him. He is beyond ecstatic that you would seek Him through prayer and FASTING. He has been waiting a long time to give you so much that only comes through the humbling intimacy of a fast.

Now, don’t panic if you think you can’t fast. There are different ways to fast and you can see a list here on our site tomorrow. Do any of you know the different Biblical fasts? Add them in the comments.

If you just read this post and you feel anxious, excited, scared and your heart is beating faster, I think God is tapping you on the shoulder. If I can do this…. So can you.

Wednesday we are going to also talk about how to seek God’s will for your 2011? Do you want to do His perfect will in your life. Are you tired of making the mistakes? Let’s do this together. The Top Ten Exercise is a small mentoring effort that Dineen and I are working up right now to help you through to see God’s will fulfilled in your life in 2011. We can’t wait to share it with you on Wednesday.

Monday – Pray ask God about fasting.

Tuesday – Ask God what kind of fast and how long to fast.

Wednesday – Top Ten Mentoring Exercise for 2011

Thursday – Fasting preparation.

Friday – How to fast. The physical part of fasting. The spiritual part of fasting.

Saturday – The fasting guide will be ready for you to use daily.

Sunday – Leaning into God and the start of our seven day fast.

If you are excited, if you want more of the Lord in 2011. Sign up now. Leave a comment, “I’m in.” God sees your commitment and He will prepare for the blessings and discovery ahead.

BIG hugs with tons of enthusiasm, Lynn


What if I HAD to Choose?

Excerpt from Winning Him Without Words, Regal Publishers:

WinningHim The true strength of our faith lies in God, not our circumstances. So let’s consider a difficult question: Can we love our spouse without any guarantee that he will come to know Christ? If this question raises despair, then we’ve most likely placed our faith in our spouse’s conversion and not in God. This is a key element to thriving in our mismatched marriage. Realigning our faith to reside completely in God can be difficult, but it is absolutely necessary to finding peace and to loving our spouse unconditionally. Leave the saving to Jesus. You do the loving! (Dineen Miller)

Today I sat in my office reading the manuscript of our book. The paragraph above was written by Dineen way back in March. I know I read it back then but today when I re-read this portion, the truth of her words struck me profound. I think everyone of us in an unequally yoked marriage has lived in this place: Our spouse’s salvation was the key to our happiness…. Not God.

Dineen can be a profoundly insightful woman and I am richly blessed to receive her teaching. I know you feel that way as well.

For the past two weeks, Dineen and I have worked on the edits for our book. The finished work is due in our publisher’s office today. So, Dineen and I intend to pray over this manuscript as we send it off. We will get on the phone and pray together asking God to place book into the hands of those who need encouragement, those who need healing in their marriage and those who need to hear that Jesus is the power and hope to thriving in marriage.

Dineen and I also ask all of you to pray along with us as the publish date nears. Pray that lives are touched and they see Jesus. That is truly our earnest hope.

Thank you everyone for loving us through this year and a half long process. So many of you helped by contributing your words, some of you read our work, you prayed over the words and over us. We love all you.

As of now our publish date is expected to be February 21, 2011. Thank you.

So, let’s talk about Dineen’s question today. Was there a point in your marriage or are you still there today that you put more hope in your spouse’s conversion for happiness than in God? I’m not sure I am completely free of basing some of my happiness on my spouse’s conversion.

So, I hear God asking me, “Lynn, can you love your husband and Me with a full heart for your entire life, if there isn’t a guarantee of his salvation.

Whoa! Thoughts?

Hugs, Lynn


God Took Me on a Walk

IStock_000006737670XSmall God took me on a most interesting walk yesterday. First, let me preface this with something you might find interesting.

I walk our dog three times a week in the morning to get some exercise, and for a long time, I’ve gone the same two routes. See, up until recently, going new places, whether walking, driving, or flying has cause me some anxiety. Not much but just enough that it keeps me in a comfortable pattern.

Well, you know how God is about those comfortable places. And as I’ve shared since my father’s death, God has had me on a journey of No Fear. So, in the last couple months as I walk our dog, I seem to be drawn toward new detours and directions.

Without fear and anxiety. Amazing!

Yesterday, God seemed to have a plan in mind. As I traversed up a new street, I sensed God’s nudge.

“Go that way.”

Pooch and I changed direction and followed His leading. Now, normally when I walk, I don’t see many people. Yet as we took this new path, I ran into person after person.

First, an older man walking with a cane. Without even thinking about it, I greeted him and smiled. Not normal for this somewhat shy person.

Pooch and I continued on. We passed two to three more people working in their yards. As we passed each one, God nudged me to pray for them. I did as He asked, praying mostly that they knew Jesus.

We took another turn down a street I’d never traveled on and saw a man sweeping his drive. Again, God nudged me to pray. For pain, for hurt, for healing, for renewed strength and faith. Though I knew none of the details, I could sense there was great pain in this man’s life. The Holy Spirit gave me a glimpse of God’s heart for this person.

We went on, and passed yet another man sweeping the sidewalk. I began to pray again, but God said, “He already knows me.”

Another turn took us to a street I recognized, and I knew it was time to head home. I scanned the houses I’d passed so many times before and realized a new perspective—God’s perspective. Each home held people God loved, ached for.

Died for.

I have a feeling my walks won’t ever be the same again. I pray fervently that they aren’t. I like the walks where God’s in the lead. I like his perspective. And I love His heart for us.

Praying and believing,
Dineen


How I Found Healing

Many of you, who have been readers here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage for a long time, likely know that I began this blog more than four years ago because the Lord, Jesus, healed me and my marriage. It was a journey with Christ that returned my hope and instilled peace in my life and gifted me with authentic joy. 

After finding a real relationship with Jesus, He then urged me to share the path of healing with others who are traveling behind me. For all of our many new readers who have not had the opportunity to go into the archives, I want to share the single most important and powerful thing that changed my life. 

My Daily Bible

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This is a picture of my Bible. I began reading it on June 13, 1998 and have read through God's word every year since. This is one of my precious heirlooms. I record events in the margin and scribble notes to my Savior among the pages. I have underlined passages and their are stains of coffee as well as tears. My daughter has asked that this Bible be listed as her inheritance in our will. (she cracks me up)

Through the most unusual culmination of circumstances my mother gave me this Daily Bible which she purchased from a Becky Tirabassi seminar. This Bible is a 15-minute daily reading. It includes a portion from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. You read through the entire Bible in a year.

Like Becky Tirabassi, I was able to keep my dentist appointment, my hair appointment but made little effort to keep my appointment with the God of the universe. But, I wanted lasting change in my marriage so I knew I needed to invite God into it. I needed to know what He had to say about life.

I needed to read His Word.

So, here is the hard part. I had to get up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to meet with the Lord. But I made this appointment and I kept it. At that time in my life I was working in Corporate America. I had an extraordinarily busy schedule. However, I set my alarm and shuffled to the coffee pot. Sat with my Bible, my journal and there I met Jesus.

Every morning.

I invited God into my life through His transforming words. I was forever changed and healed.

So, I ask this question of you. Are you struggling in your marriage? Are you struggling with a child or with your employment? Are you unhappy, disillusioned?

Then this is your invitation to healing. 

God is asking you to sacrifice your sleep to find peace, contentment, healing and a relationship that will ROCK your world and leave you forever changed.... for the better.

Order your own Daily Bible. 

Change your marriage.

Change your perspective.

Change your life.

Be blessed, Lynn


Friendship with a Jealous God

For thou shalt worship no other god: 

 for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. 

Exodus 34:14 

Names mean something, especially in the Kingdom of God. As you read through God’s Word, notice how often we are told the meaning behind the different names people give to their children. God even tells the parents in some instances what they are to name their children. And in some cases He changes a person’s name to represent something significant in their lives. Abram meant “high father” in Hebrew, but when God made a covenant with Abram and promised him to be the father of many nations, He changed his name to Abraham which means “father of many.” Jacob meant “supplanter” however later in his life when he wrestled all night with the angel of the Lord in order to receive a blessing, the Lord changed his name to Israel which means “God contended” or “he struggles with God”. 

I have a bookmark that I use frequently which lists the different names of God and what they mean. The names of God are important because they reveal to us His Character. Anything in this world that is good, is good because it is consistent with His Nature and Character. Anything that is evil or wrong is so because it contradicts the very nature of God. 

Ancient-Hebrew-Text  One name of God that I’ve discovered recently though is not listed on my bookmark – El Qanna. That is the word used in Exodus 34:14. God is telling us not only is He a jealous God, but His very name means Jealous. This posed a problem for me the first time I put much thought into it. We’ve been taught that jealousy is wrong. In fact, further down in the Ten Commandments, which this verse is a part of, it specifically talks about coveting what is not yours – being jealous! So then how can one of God’s names (El Qanna) mean Jealous? How can He be named Jealous when jealousy is wrong and we know that anything that is wrong is so because it contradicts the very nature of God? 

As I pondered this question, prayed and studied Scriptures about God’s jealousy (and there are a lot of them!) I began to notice something - two little words that pointed to something huge – the words OF and FOR. When we think of jealousy, the jealousy that is “bad” we are referring to our being jealous OF something or someone. We are coveting what they have or what we perceive them as having. This type of jealousy leads only to hatred and bitterness. Even when it seems to be for something good, for example, when I see a couple praying together and I begin to feel jealous of what they have. Whether I mean to or not, bitterness begins to creep into my heart because I’ve perceived them as having something which I desire. This is not to say I can’t desire to pray with my husband one day as I see them doing, but if I am not careful the enemy will plant a seed of jealousy in my heart that will flower into bitterness and anger – towards them, towards my husband and even possibly towards God Himself. 

However, when God is described as being a jealous God, He is jealous FOR us. You may ask, what is the difference? Beloved, the difference is huge and it is critical. God is jealous for us and the relationship He has with us. When Scripture refers to God as a jealous God, it is talking about His Jealousy to remove anything that hinders the relationship for which He created us. God’s jealousy is a righteous jealousy that arises when sin threatens the covenant relationship we experience with our Creator. 

In all cases where Scripture describes God as being jealous if you look closely you will see this jealousy has arisen because sin of some shape or form has attempted to break the covenant relationship the Lord has with His people. 

One song which has a very strong meaning for me is Nicole C. Mullin’s “Call on Jesus”. The end of the chorus says: 

When I call on Jesus 

Mountains are gonna fall 

Cause He’ll move heaven and earth 

To come rescue me when I call 

This overwhelms me with emotion when I think of a love so great that Jesus would actually move heaven and earth to come rescue me. Think of the bond between a mother and a child and how women have been known to have superhuman strength to rescue their children when needed. God loves us even more than a mother’s love for her children. 

Now add to that a righteous jealousy that burns within His heart anytime something attempts to come between us. I for one am stunned by this. He would do absolutely anything necessary, even dying on the cross to defeat the sin that attempts to destroy the relationship we have with Him. Can you even begin to imagine the love that is behind this righteous jealousy? 

There is a battle going on all around us Beloved – a battle raging because of jealousy. The enemy was jealous OF man whom God loved and created in His own image. This jealousy consumed him until he was filled with anger and bitterness and in rebellion against God he became determined to destroy the very thing that God loved. God is jealous FOR us and will arise against anything the enemy in his anger and bitterness tries to use to tear apart that covenant relationship. The enemy’s jealousy is rooted in bitterness and anger. God’s jealousy is rooted in His righteous love for us, His creation. I am so very thankful to be friends with and loved by a righteous God who is jealous for me. 

As we begin to develop our friendship with God by beholding Him through his Word, worship, prayer, and confession we should also strive to be jealous – jealous for our friendship with God. We should develop a righteous jealousy which arises within us whenever sin threatens to harm that friendship. Beloved, let’s become a people who are jealous FOR our friendship with God.

Angela Smith

(Angela, Dineen and I adore you and thank you for adding your wisdom and love for Christ in this series. You always inspire us to see Jesus and His love in ever amazing ways. BIG hugs, Lynn)


Show Me Your Glory, Lord

Catch_the_light As we’ve explored our theme Friendship with God this month, I keep hearing God’s quiet voice saying, “Seek me above all else.”

Then that great Third Day song, asking God to “show me your glory” has gone through my head nonstop.

Show me your glory, Lord.

Moses asked God to show him His glory is Exodus 33. So great was God’s glory that Moses was only able to see God’s back as He passed over the cleft Moses hid in with God’s hand over him for protection. To see more would have meant death.

Yet Moses asked. He wanted more than just a pleasant relationship with God. He wanted to KNOW God.

When we ask God to show us His glory, we’re asking Him to invite us into His presence in the most intimate of ways. Worship and confession are key parts to what enables us to be in His presence, but asking to see God’s glory comes from our deepest need and recognition that we can’t live without God. He is our center and driving force. He is our life and breath.

Show me your glory, Lord.

To want to know God is to desire nothing more. The more we learn, the more we hunger to know. We realize how very little we understand about this omniscient God who despite his vastness can be so personal and real.

The story of Moses’ request, and the examples of Abraham and David give a clear view of the relationship God desires to have with us despite our imperfections. His only requirement is that we seek Him with all our hearts. Not just to please Him but also out of His great desire that we know His true being, “I am.” Our desire to be known comes straight from God.

Show me your glory, Lord.

Seeking God and His glory isn’t about us. And yet it is. It starts as the smallest seed that bursts forth with the first taste of nourishment and hungers for more. We break through the soil of our sin and bask in the light our Creator, reaching upward in praise and desire to know the Source. Without His light, we wither and die. Within it, we flourish and become the most precious of flowers, designed to reflect His love and attention to detail.

In the presence of His glory we are flooded with pure joy and completeness that we are exactly where we’re meant to be. Then we are truly His. Then we are truly God’s friend.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

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


Weekend Devo — Worship: Offerering Yourself to God

I'm finding some awesome devotionals that fit perfectly with our Friendship with God theme this month. Here's a great one from Rick Warren. Have a wonderful weekend and keep seeking Him!
Praying and believing,
Dineen

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Worship: Offering Yourself to God
by Rick Warren


So then, my friends, because of God's great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.  — Romans 12:1-2 (TEV)


Offering yourself to God is what worship is all about.

This act of personal surrender is called many things: consecration, making Jesus Lord, taking up your cross, dying to self, yielding to the Spirit.

What matters is that you do it, not what you call it. God wants your life, all of it - 95 percent is not enough.

Our total surrender to God is blocked by several things, including:

  • Our ignorance of God - not knowing what he's really like;
  • Our sinful nature - the desire to be God ourselves; and
  • Our misunderstanding of surrender and the trust that it requires.

Can We Trust God? Trust is an essential ingredient to surrender. We won't surrender to God unless we trust him, but we can't trust him until we know him better. Fear keeps us from surrendering, but love casts out all fear. The more you realize how much God loves you, the easier surrender becomes.

How do I know God loves me? He gives us many evidences:

  • God says he loves you (Psalm 145:9);
  • You're never out of his sight (Psalm 139:3);
  • He cares about every detail of your life (Matthew 10:30);
  • He gave you the capacity to enjoy all kinds of pleasure (1 Timothy 6:17b);
  • He has good plans for your life (Jeremiah 29:11);
  • He forgives you (Psalm 86:5);
  • He's patient with you (Psalm 145:8);
  • He sacrificed his Son for you (Romans 5:8).
  • God loves you infinitely more than you can imagine.

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. — Romans 12:1 (HCSB)

If you want to know how much you matter to God, look at Christ with his arms outstretched on the cross saying, "I love you this much! I'd rather die than live without you."

God is not a cruel slave driver or a bully who uses brute force to coerce us into submission. He doesn't try to break our will, but woos us to himself, so that we might offer it freely to him. God is a lover and a liberator, and surrendering brings freedom, not bondage.

When we completely surrender ourselves to Jesus, we discover that he is not a tyrant but a savior; not a boss, but a brother; not a dictator, but a friend.


Friendship with an All-Knowing God

In my first post for this series I mentioned that one of the keys to any friendship is not only knowing the other person, their character, desires and emotions, but also in revealing your own heart to them. Friendship with God is no different. In fact, in order to truly begin to understand Him and His emotions we must first open ourselves up to Him and allow Him to change us. This is done by pouring out our hearts to Him. However, you may wonder, if God is omniscient, why do we need to pour out our hearts to Him? He already knows our desires, emotions, and character. In fact, He probably knows our heart even better than we do, so why go through all the effort? Isn’t it redundant? 

To answer this I first want to go back to an example that Dineen gave on Tuesday. While talking about confession she used the example of our children. I would like to do the same. Young children are just beginning to discover the world around them, all the beauty and sometimes all the heartache. We already understand many of these things, but as they make new discoveries in this world they come to us with enthusiasm, wanting to tell us all about what they just learned. Not one of us would dream of saying to our children, “I already know that, I don’t want to hear about it.” Instead we listen with rapt attention, soaking in their joy and excitement while describing something to us that we already know. Their reaction actually renews a sense of wonder within us as we listen to them. 

If we love to hear our own children tell us about their discoveries and their dreams (no matter how outlandish), how much more joy do you think our Heavenly Father experiences when we come to Him with the same openness? 

In the same way, our heart goes out to our children when they come and share their fears and pain with us. We long to take them in our arms and comfort them. We are warmed that they trust us without thought to listen and take care of them when they are hurting. I loved Dineen’s post because I felt it truly went along with what the Lord was putting on my heart to write about today. She spoke of confession and how coming to the Lord to confess our sins actually frees us and allows God to show us things in our lives and hearts we may not have seen otherwise. 

Beloved, this is the same for all areas and emotions in your life. Not only the sins that burden your life, but all the hurt and pain, the anger and bitterness and even the joys you experience. Even when these emotions are directed at God, we should be sharing them with Him. 

I know of individuals who are very angry at God for things that have happened in their lives, but because they see Him as their Sovereign Lord they will not share these feelings with Him. They believe it would be a great sin to admit to the Lord that they are angry with Him. After all, He is God! 

What they miss is the fact that God knows their heart, He already knows they are angry with Him. It is true that their anger is misplaced because God can never do anything to truly justify our anger. Our anger always comes from misunderstanding what God is working to accomplish in our lives. We miss the big picture so often and it is usually because we’ve begun to focus on ourselves instead of Him. However, when that does happen, if we go to Him in our quiet time and pretend that those feelings are not there we are really just lying to Him and to ourselves. In doing so, we are shutting off our heart to Him. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with going on a rampage, screaming and yelling at God if our focus is just to scream and yell. That does not benefit us at all and is not respecting and fearing our Creator as we should. However, if we go to God with our true feelings and pour out to Him what is really in our heart, we open ourselves up to Him. At that point He can begin a work in us to reveal more of His Heart and He can then begin to heal ours. 

As we begin to honestly share ourselves with God – the good, the bad and the ugly – we actually begin to understand ourselves and Him in a deeper way. We begin to trust Him in new ways. We open the doors to healing and understanding. 

The answer Beloved, is that pouring out our hearts to God is absolutely crucial to being His friend and it is all for OUR benefit. With our earthly friends we share intimate things about ourselves so they can get to know us better. With God we share the deepest most intimate things of our heart in order for Him to reveal our true hearts to us and transform us. 

However, our God is a gentleman and He will not force His way into our hearts. He understands that true love and friendship is given willingly. He is waiting and desiring to be your best friend. He’s just waiting for you to trust Him enough with your heart to willingly reveal to Him what He already knows. 

Trust in Him at all times, O people; 

Pour out your hearts to Him, 

For God is our refuge. 

Psalm 62:8

 Angela


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

Friendship with God: David’s example of Beholding

Awhile back, a good friend of mine asked me a question that I came across again recently in a book I’m reading. I want to pose it to each of you today. Please be very honest with yourself. You don’t have to share your answer with me. My purpose is not to know your secret thoughts. But I will share some of mine with you, on the off chance that some of you share in these same thoughts. 

Imagine for just a moment that you were told by a reliable source that tonight you were going to meet Jesus face-to-face and He was going to judge you – He was going to reveal the deepest parts of your life and your heart – what is the first feeling that overcomes you? Is it fear or excitement? 

I’ve been on a David quest for almost a year now, or more accurately a quest for David’s heart. He is described in Scripture as being a man after God’s own heart. God Himself, describes David in this way. What made him so special? Sure he was a mighty king and ruler of Israel, but he was also a royal mess up at times. I want to know what it was about Him that caused God to look upon him and describe him in such a way, despite his failures. I want a heart like that. I want to hear my Creator one day introduce me to the hosts of heaven as “Angela, a woman after my own heart”. 

When I was asked that question by my friend awhile back, I was immediately overwhelmed with dread. Why? Because deep down I believed that the God I serve is mostly mad and/or sad when He looks at me. I know God loves me, I’ve always known that, but I also believed I was a huge disappointment to Him. A part of me thought I still had to do things to earn His approval. 

I spoke last week about one of the keys to being a friend of God is getting to know Him. This is critical to any friendship, but especially with God. The more we understand Him, the more comfortable we are going to Him with anything and everything in our lives. 

I’m reading a book right now called “After God’s Own Heart” which speaks of a concept the author calls beholding and becoming . I won’t get into too much detail about it here. But the bottom line is, as we behold our God – His emotions, His heart, His character – we will gain more understanding of how He truly feels about us. That in turn will lead to our loving Him because of the great love He has for us and that will lead to our hearts, minds and lives being transformed by God. Not by our strength, but by His. 

God has shown me this has been my problem all along. I did not want to take the time to behold Him, instead I wanted to become like Him by my own strength. The key here is that I have one part in this (beholding) and God has the other part (becoming). He is the one that transforms me. I need to focus on getting to know Him and as I do so HE will transform me. I need to stop trying to bypass my part and stop trying to do His part. 

So, the question then is how do we get to know God, how do we behold Him, His emotions, His character and His heart. The answer is to study His Word and spend time in His presence – prayer and worship. I’ve always done these things, but the problem is because I felt the need to prove myself to God, to “do” things to earn His approval, my focus was always on becoming. I would read His Word to gain more knowledge, to be a scholar who knew all the answers. When I prayed I worried about how my prayers sounded. Were they holy enough? Did I sound sincere and knowledgeable about God. When I worshiped it was about going through the motions, doing what I knew I was supposed to do to honor God. But something was always missing. The friendship part – because I was focused on becoming what God wanted me to be and doing so in my power – I only knew God on paper. It was a logical, scholarly thing, not a heart thing. Bottom line, my focus was on me, not Him. 

God is slowly showing me what it means to behold Him. To read His Scriptures, not for knowledge that will make me wiser by man’s standards, but to read His Scripture to see His heart, His character and His emotions. To pray and just rest in His presence, not expecting that something must be resolved each time I go to Him in prayer. That just sitting in silence with Him is enough. To worship and truly focus on Him and not what I need to do or what others may be thinking. I loved Dineen’s post this week about worship. This truly is the key to knowing God. As we open our hearts and minds to Him, He reveals Himself to us. God created us to be influenced by music, which is why the enemy uses it so much to influence society and feed us his lies. He sees the connection that is created between us and our Creator with music and he twists it to serve his purposes. 

When David sinned so greatly by laying with Bathsheba, getting her pregnant, having her husband killed and then taking her as his wife – the Lord revealed his sin through the prophet Nathan. What was David’s response? He repented of this sin and then he prayed and fasted, asking the Lord to spare his son’s life. In the end though, the Lord took his son, just as He said He would. What was David’s response here? He cleaned himself up and then went to worship the Lord. David understood that even when we’ve messed up royally, we can come into the presence of the Lord and worship Him. God sees the part of us that is willing and desiring to follow Him and He focuses on that part of our heart. He delights in that part of our heart. God loves us dearly and takes delight in us, even in, especially in our weakness. 

That was the difference between David and me. David knew that God saw that “yes” hidden deep within his heart even at his weakest point, whereas I thought God was too blinded by all the other stuff in my heart. Maybe in a way I was not even aware of that “yes” in my own heart. God saw what I could not and He has revealed to me the part of my heart that is most precious to Him. 

What better friend can you ask for than that? 

Dear Lord, We know you see the “yes” buried deep within our hearts. Please reveal to us that “yes” which You find so precious in each of us. Help us to learn to focus on beholding you instead of trying so hard to ‘become’ by our own strength. Your word says in Zephaniah (3:17) that You will take great delight in us, You will quiet us with Your love and You will rejoice over us with singing. Please make that real to each of us this week. Show us how to focus on You, show us how to search out Your heart, Your character and Your emotions during the time we spend in Your Word and during our prayer and worship times. In Jesus’ Precious Name, Amen

 Angela Smith


Friendship with God Through Worship

IStock_000004628405XSmallRight after we moved back to the States from Europe, I had the chance to go to my first Women of Faith conference. I went with two friends from the church I’d recently found and joined. Now the music was amazing, and if you’ve ever been to one, you know what I mean. Plus being with so many other women in a stadium that seated 10,000…wow.

I had a problem though. For me to let go and worship God was not easy. Something seemed to get in the way or block me from expressing this side of my faith. I figured I was just one of those overly self-conscious people who would have to be content to stand still and sing along politely.

But I wanted more. So much more.

On the second day, we stood to sing another song after a very moving session. After the music started, images began to go through my mind. You know that saying, “your life flashes before your eyes”? Well, that’s what it was like. Except it wasn’t the images I would expect to see, ones I was completely aware of from my painful school years. No, God showed me one by one all the times I had felt rejected by the father figures in my life.

I began to cry. Then like the quiet voice that came to Elijah after all the raucous of the wind, a fire, and an earthquake, God told me, “I will never reject you like that.”

My heart melted. I bawled even more. And from that day, I’ve been able to worship God freely. I can’t stand quietly during worship at church anymore. I move a little to the beat and have even lifted my hands at times when I’ve been so moved by a song. And every word speaks to my heart and becomes a prayer.

God did that for me. And he told me recently that if I wanted to draw closer to him, I would find him in worship.

Worship is a unique portal in which our hearts open and allow God access to a deeper level. The times I’ve heard God most clearly have been during worship and I believe this is part of the process of becoming friends with God.

But it requires a vulnerability we sometimes shy away from. Take a look at this passage from John:
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter). —John 1:41-42
This particular piece of Scripture captured my attention, specifically the part that I bolded. When I looked this up in Stong’s, the root of this word (beheld in KJV) has its roots in words that imply discernment and to look “through.” I had a feeling when I read this that this wasn’t just a glance, but Jesus’ serious assessment of the man he knew he would build his church on—Peter.

The beauty of this is…Jesus looks at us too and he sees it all. He knows our pain, our struggles, our hang-ups. He knows it all because he experienced it all during his testing and more importantly, it’s why he came and died for us.

So whatever you’re holding onto, whatever that deep wound is, Jesus already knows about it. He wants you to give it to him and let him heal you so he can walk closer to you.

Like your friend.
Praying and believing,
Dineen