76 posts categorized "Glimpses of God"

When a Spouse Leaves the Faith -- Part 2

Ann here again! Tears

When a spouse leaves the faith, Part 1

Today we're going to continue with the above topic, and I thought I would start with a little story:

Last year, I attended a ministry conference. We were a small group, perhaps 100 in the room, and Auckland is a small place so we often see family faces. There we were in an interactive session, when the conference leader asked a question. A man on the far left of the room shot up his hand as if to say ‘Over here! I have something to say!’ The mic was carried to him, and for the third time that day he spoke something super insightful into it. All the while, his wife sat beside him, nodding. 

I looked over at this couple from over on my side and quietly did a happy dance (inside!) In fact, I just kept on looking over, grinning. See, I knew their story. He was one of those husbands who’d fallen away. For eight years, in fact, he’d stayed home every Sunday while his wife carried on -- Dismayed, determined, confused. But now he was back -- And honestly, everything he said into that mic was so good.

The Come-Back Kid!

My friends, this isn’t the only story I know of a spouse coming back to faith. It might be natural to think that this situation looks particularly impossible. If we're going to really not sugar-coat this thing, you might even fear what your spouse has done. For sure, we know free will is a big part of this, and this thing is no game.

But there's also this: The fruits of the Holy Spirit are joy and peace. This alone tells me that God -- who grows these fruits within us -- will be encouraging us to NOT walk through this situation peace-less. Only God knows the destination of a given soul, but if our spouse has fallen away He actively encourages us to grow joy and peace. Somehow we have to let God bring peace to this terribly difficult situation, but of course fruit grows slowly and usually within the opposite circumstances.

The Lord led me to this amazing verse this morning, which speaks of how He sometimes works two or three times in a person’s life to bring them back from the pit.

“Yes, his soul draws near the Pit, and his life to the executioners.

If there is a messenger for him, a mediator, one among a thousand, to show man His uprightness, then He is gracious to him, and says, ‘deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ‘ransom’;

His flesh shall be young like a child’s, he shall return to the days of his youth. He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, he shall see His face with joy, for He restores to man His righteousness. Then he looks at men and says, ‘I have sinned, and perverted what was right, and it did not profit me.’

He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit, and his life shall see the light.

Behold, God works all these things, twice, in fact, three times with a man, to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.” Job 33:23-30 (NKJV):

What a wonderful verse for those who are hoping for a ‘fallen-away’ spouse to be restored! I guess it tells me that this thing is far from impossible, and these spouses are certainly not the 'least likely' or a hopeless case. In fact, I will say that I also feel my husband is the least likely to convert, and he's never yet been a Christian. So perhaps we all feel it: 'Mine is the least likely!'

Least likely does not mean impossible!

Ultimately, God has given us a tremendous shared testimony here in this community. This blog has over one thousand readers, and many were once prodigals. Even Lynn, our founder, describes herself as the ultimate prodigal child, and now she is one on-fire Christian. We know from the parable of the prodigal son what kind of excitement lands on the one who comes back. And so many of the SUMites themselves are living, breathing, walking examples of God's miraculous restoration.

It's hard huh? We will carry on with this topic on Monday. But in the meantime, if you would like to share any thoughts in the comments, please do!


Am I Hearing God or Is It My Imagination?

Ann here! Purple rose 3

Today I thought I would chat a little about hearing God's voice as a whisper. Often the way God speaks is through the softest of moments, much like the everyday companionship of a good friend. 

Even the prophet Elijah heard God in the still small voice rather than a dramatic fanfare (1 Kings 19:12), and that's usually how it is. The hard thing is, we have to believe it's Him, and that takes a leap.

With this in mind, I thought I'd share a testimony. So settle in, grab a drink, and enjoy. Even writing it today has warmed my spirit, so I hope it does the same for you. Here goes ...

One Easter I was walking up the hill near my house. Suddenly it seemed that every purple flower I saw was grabbing my attention. Was it my imagination? I shook my head quickly, “Don’t be stupid, Ann.” 

That was that. But later I was lying in bed and found myself thinking about my faith difference: “I’m scared Bryce’ll go off me if I go further with God --” Suddenly, a purple rose flashed across my mind. It could have been my imagination. But was it God saying, "Do not fear"?

Weeks later, it happened again. I was swimming in a pool this time and a thought came: "People think I'm nuts believing in Jesus --” Swoosh, a purple clover came across my mind. Was it God? Was He once again saying “Do not fear”?

It happened more. Different purple flowers would land in my head, interrupting my thoughts (usually when I was thinking an anxious thought): Thistles, forget-me-nots, bushes of small dark purple things. I began to believe it was God.

One day, I was sprawled on my floor having cleared out a cupboard. A mysterious wooden box sat in front of me. I hadn’t seen this box for years, and as I lifted its lid I smiled to see piles of letters from childhood pen-pals. But there was something else tucked in there. I reached for it and pulled it out. It was a faded piece of paper from my last day of primary school in 1987, with names and addresses of friends; It was lovely to remember them but then I stopped in my tracks. Something was written in thick black crayon in the corner of that page. It was this: Purple flowers sprouting

"And little purple flowers were sprouting."

Oh God!! I sat back, stunned. It's You. What was He saying to me through this? Perhaps that He was always there.

Fast-forward a few years and we come to my kitchen renovation which I mentioned in my last post. There, God had the sweetest purple flower waiting. But first, let me backtrack:

It sounds strange, but as a child I would daydream about having a secret room. I loved the idea of having a space within a house that was hidden. Well, now I’m grown up but I’m still that same person.

After buying our house, Bryce and I realized that our house had a hidden pocket of space behind a wall. We knew because there was a stained-glass window on the outside that wasn't on the inside. Just before the renovation, then, we said to one another "Let’s get the wall knocked down and see what’s in there!" This was last July, just as I was leaving my job, something I’d felt God wanted me to do. The day we knocked the wall down was the day I waved goodbye to colleagues and closed a 10-year chapter in my life.

Honestly, friends, my heart pounds at this one. When we knocked down the wall, guess what we found: A little secret room! And what’s more, the stained-glass window was revealed: A purple flower. Here's a photo of it. That day it was as if God said, “I love you, Ann, and I’m here as you leave your job.” All day I couldn't concentrate; I just had to keep staring at that room and window, captivated. Purple flower window

That stained glass window was put there decades ago, as was the piece of paper in that wooden box. But God knew I’d be coming across it now. The moral of the story? God speaks in mysterious ways, and life with Him is ... well ... fun!

I would so love to hear anything you would like to share about hearing God, so please, go for it in the comments. And I say let's pray for more!

Ann


Could This Be The Answer You've Been Waiting For?

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here!

I have worked for my employer for a little over three years now. I do the same thing all day everyday. Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. I see the same computer screen as I fingerprint the numerous people who come into my office. The other day Holy Spirit alerted me to listen and pay attention to people's reactions to seeing their fingerprints on the computer screen, many of them for the first time:

Wow, that is so cool!

I have never seen this before!

Sorry, I am just amazed by this!

Look at that!

Can you believe that we all have different finger prints? No two prints are the same!?

Was I looking at the same machine? It is cool to see the detail, I guess.....

There are some of us who have forgotten how to be in love with and romanced by our King. Groom help bride up sillouetteWe have been on this journey for a long time.  Our eyes have adjusted to the normalcy of life. We've braced for life's storms for too long that we've gone into self-preservation mode. We have forgotten what is like to have childlike faith. This isn't a rebuke but a call to see things from God's perspective. Be refreshed! Be renewed! Be invigorated again!

I felt a strong impression from our Daddy God to lavish you with love today. If anything today resonates with you, my challenge is for you to take it and meditate on it. Don't allow the familiar to blur your vision of God's great love relationship with you. Don't doubt that you aren't good enough to receive it. Don't think, "He must be talking to someone else..."  This word is for you...yes YOU!

I have loved you, [insert your name here], with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. (Jeremiah 31:3)

I will make you, [insert your name here], my wife forever,
showing you righteousness and justice,
unfailing love and compassion.
I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20)

My thoughts of you are countless for you are very precious to Me. (Psalm 139:17)

You can give me all of your worries and cares. They are not meant to be carried by you. I love you so much! (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22)

I am for you. You are my beloved and I am yours. (Song of Solomon 6:3)

I will give you everything that you need. You mean that much to me. (Romans 8:31)

There is nothing that can separate you from My love. (Romans 8:38-39)

I will rescue you. I will protect you. You can trust me. When you call on Me I am there. (Psalm 91)

One of my favorite things to do is watch over you as you sleep. (Psalm 3:5)

I will show you my goodness in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

I will never forsake you. I will never cast you off. (Psalm 94:14)

You are my masterpiece. My workmanship. I am so proud of you! (Ephesians 2:10)

You are my special treasure. You are so valuable to me! (Exodus 19:5, 1 Peter 2:9)

There is so much more that I could share. Every word in the Bible is dripping with His sweet love for you.

Beloved, stop striving. Stop trying to meet unattainable expectations of yourself...they're not from Him. Daddy God is so pleased with you. He delights in you so much that He breaks out in song over you. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I want to wrap up with this song. This is one to sit and soak in the love of your Daddy.

Let's share in the comments - sometimes life gives us a hard beating! What are some things that you do in order to remember the love God has for you? What are some things we can share with one another to fan the flames of our heart and fill us with hope? What keeps you standing firm and grounded in your relationship with Daddy God, Jesus and Holy Spirit?


Our Father IS the Father in Luke 15

Lessons From Prodigal SonJesus tells the story to His followers of the Prodigal son in the book of Luke 15. And there is so much more going on in this story than we comprehend. I hope you have enjoyed the posts about this passage over the past few weeks.

But today, we are going to look at the Father in Luke 15. I’m so excited.

There are so many things I love about this story. I often share on radio and television my personal story about my prodigal years and how I met and married my unbelieving spouse during that season. So, when I recount my return to the Father and how I see this story in Luke as my own, I become positively  emotional.

Each time I share my prodigal story, I envision my story playing out in my mind. I literally see my five-foot-two, blonde self, running as fast as possible toward my Father, God. His arms are OPEN WIDE and the smile on His face…… Well it breaks me into tears every time. His face is filled with such joy and love that I am instantly delivered from all doubt, fear and oppression. And I know, that I know, that I know, in my knower, I will see my heavenly Father one day when I cross over into the heavenly Kingdom and His arms await. Just like I envision! Halleujah!

Let’s take a look at the lessons from Luke 15 about the true nature of our Father:

  • God is generous. In verse 11 God not only gives the share of His estate to the younger son who demanded it but at the same time He gave the older son his portion as well. Wow, I don’t know how to process this fully. I know the lesson here is that there is a vast amount of inheritance and it’s made available to God’s kids, and available now.
  • God embraces the wayward son and kisses him. Our Father God is not angry with us when we fail, run, are mad at Him, or even defy Him. He is always hopeful, full of love, and accepting and forgiving of our past, no matter how horrible we think our past was or horrible we think we are.
  • God doesn’t hold a grudge. I will mention here that it only took the younger son to leave his deception and turn back to God and ask His forgiveness. One sentence prayer. DONE!
  • Our Father God, looks past the smell, the dirt and grime. I you remember the son was galivanting in the pig pins. God sees us in our worst moment and loves us and wants us so badly.
  • God wants us back so badly that he will send circumstances into our lives to lead us home. Take a look at verse 14. A great famine swept over the land and the son began to starve. Just ponder the numerous times God reached out to your through circumstances which trust to you to rock bottom? We often miss the outreached hand of God. Yes, indeed, how many times does God sends us a life raft, but we are waiting for a helicopter???
  • Sonship is restored. The GREATEST gift is a restored, reclaimed identity. With a hug and a kiss, the son is home. He is robed as a royal son. A ring that bears restored authority, power and privilege is once again upon his finger.
  • Finally, let’s par-tay! A giant party awaits for each of us the day we cross over. But what is even more beautiful, the day or our baptism, all of heaven sang. The day or our pre-believer’s baptism, all of heaven will celebrate!

My friends, our God is good. All the time in every way. And He has so much to give us.

Confusion about his goodness rest in the deceptions of lucifer. The Great Deceiver is responsible for the pain, trauma, hurts and confusion in life. Hear me now… learn about our enemy because we blame God for so much that is perpetrated by satan.

Jesus is the perfect reflection of the Father. He demonstrates God’s love and goodness through this story in Luke 15. It’s our truth! Period. The end.

Okay, share the goodness of God in the comments today. What other lessons are in this story and how has God turned your ashes into beauty?

See you in the comments. Lynn


The Perfect Son Who Stayed on the Farm

Lessons From Prodigal SonThe Perfect Son Who Stayed on the Farm

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” —Luke 15: 25-32

I wonder if you feel offense for the older brother?

After all, this man dutifully stayed at home, working hard, toiling in the land and never disobeyed his father. Honestly, if you’ve been a prodigal, you wished you had never run away, and you feel guilty that you come home and are welcomed back. You compare yourself to your brothers and sisters and feel shame. You also feel admiration that they were faithful.

What is interesting is that what the older brother doesn’t realize is that God did a few things for him that he is unable to see clearly.

  • The older son received his inheritance the day the younger son received his. Go back and read the passage. It’s true. Wow, I never knew this until recently. How generous, how profound is our Father? We get our inheritance now, while we are living in the world. To contemplate what that entails is so far reaching, I scarcely can take it in. I like to ask God about portions of my inheritance that are at my fingertips, but I haven’t recognized it yet. I encourage you to ask as well.
  • The older son was told by his Father that ---- now get this----- Everything the Father has, is his. Already his. He owns it. It’s given.
  • What the older son doesn’t know, thank God, is that he will not have to go through all the years of breaking off destructive mindsets, terrible addictions, fear, shame, and the demonic oppression that the younger son picked up while in satan’s stronghold. Hallelujah! This alone is worthy of any and all sacrifice the older son feels he made.

So gang, what are other lessons the older son missed? And what are other blessings he has coming? See you in the comments.

Next post, my favorite. Lessons about the Father….. I can’t wait. I adore you, Lynn


Our Pre-Believers Are Prodigal Sons

Lessons From Prodigal SonSo, gang, let’s look at this Prodigal son and consider our spouses. They have been hoodwinked into a kingdom of darkness. And what is flabbergasting to me is this. They are convinced, passionately, that they are neutral to faith/religion. Or they are committed also with a passion in opposition to our God, in which they believe they know all about, but actually don’t know at all, and are deceived into blindness.

Sounds bleak, doesn’t it?

When I looked closely at this story, the lessons I learned in the Prodigal land were more severe than I realized. Let’s take a look. See if you relate to any of these and consider what your spouse believes is true but is actually a falsehood.

Lesson from the Prodigal Nation:

From Luke 15: About this time his money ran out. The son went to feed the pigs. The son was so hungry the pig food looked good. No one gave the son anything.

  • The son took on a poverty spirit. For the first time in his life he was living in abject poverty. Poverty of pocketbook, poverty of spirit, poverty of relationships and more. Think about the depression that comes with poverty.
  • He left the covering of his Father. Rebellion pushes God away. We walk in our own strength which is never going to protect you from lucifer and his minions.
  • The son then learned, shame, confusion, deception, desperation, uncleanness, etc., etc.
  • The son settled for less than…… Oh how many of us settle for less than what we are offered through the hand of our Father.
  • LOST IDENTITY

My dear SUMites, I can attest that this is the ultimate goal of the devil. If we don’t know who we are or whose we are, we can’t fight back. We are captured and live in bondage, oppression, sickness and are targets for greater destruction.

Now contemplate what is happening with our unbelieving spouses?

This story is in the Word for our enlightenment but also so that we can perceive the poverty spirit in our spouse. Let our understanding of where they are, push us to our knees to pray for their deliverance and restoration to our loving Father.

Okay, gang, what other lessons do people learn when they dwell in the Prodigal Nation?

March on Warriors! We can help ourselves through Jesus and help our prodigal spouses and kids!  Hallelujah!


Prodigal Spouse, Prodigal Believers

Lessons From Prodigal SonSUMites,

I am having an amazing time reading the Word and meditating on two different stories. One in the Old Testament, in the book of Joshua and one in the New Testament, in Luke 15, the Prodigal son.

Gang, WOW!  The sub-plots and lesser-known lessons that most believers miss, are blowing my mind. But today, I want to chat with you about the unseen lessons in the Prodigal son story.

I’m compelled to write about this story because through my prayer ministry, and often with people who don’t know Yahweh, our Father very well. I’ve come to discover that far too many people don’t really know that God is truly always good. They are blocked by numerous lies about His love, goodness, and kindness. So-much-so, they feel far away from God or that God is distant, mean, and punishing.

Also, in this passage in Luke, we can learn so much from each of the sons. So, what say you??? Want to take a look at this story with me?

So glad you said yes! *Grin* So, let’s begin with two questions?

How do you perceive the Father?

How do you perceive Jesus?

You can share in the comments. And hear me now. Judgement and/or condemnation does NOT exist in the House of SUM. If you don’t “get” God as Father, it’s okay to say so. In doing so, you bring God closer so that He can reveal Himself. I believe your honesty opens the door to your heart, and He will meet you where you are.

Let’s look at Luke 15:11-24

Luke 15:11-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

Parable of the Lost Son

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

This story begins with two sons. And the ornery, younger, son demands his inheritance from his dad, then splits towards the Prodigal Nation. Now, many of you know that I relate to this story in such depth that I nearly cry every time I read it.

I AM or I WAS- this prodigal child. I went AWOL from my Father in the badest part of the Prodigal Nation, Las Vegas, NV. Yes, Sin City. And it’s not a mere coincidence this town wears this label. Even today when I drive into town, I can feel the demonic oppression that sits over it. I pray a lot before I go there to visit my family.

For all of you who arrived in your spiritual mismatched marriage because you were a backslidden Christian, I understand you. If you relate to this rebellious son, I want to say something to you now:

If you came before God, even just once, and asked our Father for forgiveness. IT IS FINISHED! You are completely forgiven for your disobedience. You are completely reinstated, just as the son in this story is welcomed home in the book of Luke.

God has forgiven you. He is not mad at you over your marriage to an unbeliever. He will NOT punish you for your rebellion. He will help you walk through the consequences that are a result of your choices when you left His side. And He will give you a tremendous inheritance in the middle of your mess as you work to clean it up. And finally, you don’t have to do the cleanup by yourself. Jesus is there. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You are surrounded by the angelic, the Holy Spirit and you have been given a community to march with you.

Hallelujah!

So, if you have walked the road of the prodigal, what is your story? I would like to hear it in the comments. I will meet you there and bless you.

More on Friday about our spouses, who by the way, are also prodigal – right now- and what lessons they are learning and how we can counter the tide of evil influence. And finally, what about the dutiful son that stayed home. Well, he has issues as well.

Stay tuned. This story is bigger than you think. I love you, Lynn


I've Never Understood God In This Way Before...Have You?

*Photo credit: Arkdiscovery.com, this is the forever blackened top of Mount Sinai, where God's presence came in fire.

God is angry and full of wrath...and I want no part of that! Mt Sinai

I've heard throughout my lifetime that the God of the Bible (specifically the Old Testament) is mean and unmerciful and a murderer. I'm sure you have heard things similar...maybe even last week. There are a lot of people who hold this viewpoint. I never knew how to really answer these types of comments. Sure I could mention that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for our sins to take the wrath of God upon Himself. But I was always left confused when my heart and mind could not make the connection with all of the death and destruction in the Old Testament with a loving God. I mean after all God never changes right? (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 33:8)

I would like to place a quick interjection here. Thanks to you, my loving SUM family I have been taking ministry classes with my church. I cannot thank you enough for your generous support, love, and encouragement. 6-7 months into this 2 year program and I am absolutely blown away by all the things being revealed to me. It is amazing. I say this because it is in a recent class that Holy Spirit spoke to my heart.

There are 5 major covenants that God made with His people throughout history. I won't go into detail here because there is a lot to explain (and quite frankly I am still trying to soak it all in) but suffice it to say, each and every one of these covenants was for the benefit of His people. (A covenant is simply an agreement between two parties. I say this with all sincerity. If you would like a copy of my class notes to better understand the covenants, I would love to share. This stuff is truly fascinating and has really opened up my eyes in how to read the Bible!)

The covenant made with Moses is where God introduces the law. Here is the kicker though. God did not want to give a set of rules for His people to be bound by. Did you know that the covenant relationship we have right now with God - through Jesus - is what He wanted for His people all along?

And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19)

This is the covenant that God wanted. He wanted all of Israel to priests. A holy nation, set apart from the rest of the world to be a light and represent God to the rest of the world. What? I had no idea! So what happened?

Exodus 19:8 - Israel agreed to it

Exodus 19:9-13 - God is giving them a consecration period (this is always the case where there is covenant or relationship with God)

Exodus 19:18-19 - God shows up in with lightning, fire, a loud trumpet, etc (see Deuteronomy 5:23-27 fore more details of this) which scared the Israelites.

Exodus 19:20-25 - Moses and the priests (which in that time were simply the oldest males from each family line, meaning every family was represented on the mountain) go up on the mountain and decide, now we don't want any of this. We don't want to have a face to face relationship with God. Let's send Moses as a mediator and whatever he says, we will do.

What does this mean for us today? The work of Jesus on the cross opened us up to the exact covenant that God talked about in Exodus 19:3-6. Check this out:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2)

Family, I don't know about you but understanding God's heart in Exodus 19 is absolutely wrecking me. I hope I explained it well here. I don't feel like I can do it justice. We serve a truly loving and merciful God! He has always had a heart for His people. He has always desired a face to face relationship. He has always desired to draw and woo and take good care of us. This doesn't sound like a mean, wrathful, and unmerciful God to me!

Thank you Jesus that you gave us the greatest gift we could ever have. Relationship with our Daddy God. I pray this has blessed you. I've run a little long but let's chat in the comments. How does this insight into God's Heart in the Old Testament affect your view of His heart for you today? 


Deliverance After YEARS Of Torment! Hallelujah!

Hello SUM Family, Tiffany Here!

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

This Is Just The Pits!

Do You Want Evidence Or The Truth?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Do You Want The Evidence Or The Truth?

Hey SUM Family,

Tiffany here:

ev·i·dence -  

a : an outward sign : indication

b : something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter
(Merriam-Webster online dictionary)

Last post (This Is Just The Pits!) we began to take a look at the life of Joseph. We discovered that there are ten tests we must face in order to fulfill our God-given purpose (I highly suggest you read From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris for more on this topic). I want us to really dive into the deep end of the pool as we learn more about the pit test.

First, let's continue on in the story of Joseph. At this point he was ambushed by his brothers and thrown into the pit. Changing scenes, we see what happens with his family next:

So [Joseph's brothers] took Joseph's tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in blood. Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, "We  have found this. Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" And he recognized it and said, "It is my son's tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces" (Genesis 37:31-33).

F.E.A.RJoseph's brothers did not flat out lie and say that Joseph was killed. Jacob came to that conclusion because of their leading question, "Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" This is what we would call fabricated (false) evidence.   Remember evidence is an indication or something that furnishes proof. This evidence in Jacob's mind was proof that his favorite son was dead - to him it was the truth.

For over 20 years, imagine Jacob as he says in v. 35, "For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning." Imagine a father so heartbroken that he was not able to be consoled. I don't know for certain but I can imagine countless nights of crying himself to sleep, restlessness, no appetite, deep depression...unable to move on. Not only that but his other sons could have easily freed him from all of it...over 20 years of seeing and living with their father. What callous and prideful hearts!

What about you? What fabricated evidence has been stacked up against you? Your marriage? Your parenting? Your identity in Christ? What lies of the pit have kept you trapped for far too long? 

We live in a sin-hardened world, and we will be tempted by fabricated evidence just as Jacob was. And like Jacob, we will suffer unnecessary grief if we allow the lies of the pit to determine what we believe.

This is very important. If you want to get out of the pit, you must learn to discern the lies of the enemy. Because when you are in the pit, you are especially vulnerable. When you are in the pit, circumstances usually don't look very favorable - and that is exactly when Satan will manipulate those circumstances in order  to deceive you. He will hold up those circumstances before you as evidence that you should believe him rather than have faith in God. But fabricated evidence is not the truth. Joseph's brothers held up a bloody coat as evidence, and that evidence looked pretty convincing. But it was fabricated evidence. It was not the truth. If you want to overcome the lies of the pit, you must learn to focus on what God has said. When you are in the pit, you must remember that nothing is too hard for God, no matter what evidence the enemy might produce...

Yet even worse than his fabricated evidence is Satan's biggest lie: "You've messed up too badly. It's too late for you. You've messed up too badly to ever fulfill God's destiny for your life." Do you realize that the Bible is a book entirely about restoration? The Bible is filled with stories of people who messed up so badly that it seemed even God couldn't do anything about it - and yet He restored every one of them. He wants you to know that nothing is impossible for Him. As long as you have breath, it is never too late to call out to God. It doesn't matter what pit you are in. If you call out to God, He can fix it. And that is the real purpose of the pit. (pp. 38-39, From Dream to Destiny, Robert Morris)

Next time I want to finish up with the hope we have - the light at the end of the tunnel - in times of experiencing the pit test. But for now, let's meet in the comments. Let me speak truth into you and pray with you as we debunk the lies of the pit. Lean into this reality that fabricated evidence, no matter how convincing or real it appears, is NOT the truth. I promise you that this assurance will transform your life and catapult you out of the pit.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

-- Colossians 2:13-15 (NLT)


Wisdom, Wonder, A Few Balloons, and Mustangs

Hello SUMite Nation!

Caitie Lynn Corn Lake May 14 2018
Me and Caitie, Corn Lake, May 14, 2018

Colorado was awesome. I cherished the time with my mom and daughter on Mother’s Day and my birthday. Below are a few photos. I also want to share a beautiful word that came from my daughter while we sat on the lake edge with fishing polls in hand.

Because God is so good, I would love Him and serve Him even if I didn’t receive anything in return. —Caitie Donovan

SUMites, have hope for your children! Everything you do to pour faith and Jesus into their lives may come up before you while you sit on a lake shore and a child your bore shares from her heart and faith, something profound and moving. I nearly wept when Caitie said this because I haven’t entertained a posture such as this prior to now.

*****

Patty Tower & Baby May 2018Also, I want to say Congratulation to Patty Tower on the birth of Keenan Gabriel who arrived on May 14 which is my birthday. I feel like an Aunt already. Thank you, Patty, for the amazing ministry you provide on our SUM Facebook Page. I pray you are recuperating and healing quickly. 

*****

I don’t share often at Spiritually Unequal Marriage, the amazing ways that God speaks to me through Mylar balloons. But today, I want to share some of those photos and stories. I’m overwhelmed at the lengths the Lord will go to say, I LOVE YOU, to His Daughters and Sons. I pray you are encouraged to understand and search out the exhibits of the Lord discern how He is speaking love into your life.

On May 8th I was scheduled to leave California to travel to Grand Junction, Colorado. So, the day prior, I was expectant that the Lord might just send me a birthday wish through a Mylar balloon. For those of you who don’t know, I often receive Mylar balloons while on my walk-n-prays in the vineyards of Temecula. Balloons will arrive in many different aspects but mostly while I’m on my walks.

Happy Birthday May 7 2018While on the phone to my son and granddaughters, I was walking my usual trail and I spotted something shimmering ahead. I said to my son, “Brad, I think I see a Mylar balloon ahead.”

“Ya, Mom, what’s with all these balloons?”

“God speaks to my heart and sends His love and affection to me this way.”

As I walk nearer to retrieve the balloon I say, “I bet it says, ‘Happy Birthday’ on it because I’m leaving in the morning and He (God) wants to wish me a Happy Birthday.”

I pick it up. Yep, what does it say? Well look for yourself. (see photo)

Can I just insert a word here: AMAZING!

However, a few days later, the near impossible took place. My mom, Caitie and I decided to spend the day searching for Wild Mustangs. In the mountains about three hours drive from my mom’s home, wild horses roam free. If you are nuts enough to travail the dirt roads you might catch a glimpse of these allusive but regal beauties. (Caitie and I love horses. We were determined.)

We head out with bottles of water, some vague directions, and a ton of hope that we might catch a glimpse of the ponies.

After traversing miles of dirt roads, in a wilderness of BLM land with not a single home or any man-made structure except for the road, we finally stopped in defeat in a ravine to take a little break. Ahem, “that” kind of break. While stopped in the middle of the dried-up ravine, I spot something shinny and red up on the hill in front of the car.

I bounded up the slope and as I approached, I just knew it would be a heart-shaped Mylar balloon waiting for me OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NO WHERE!!

Take a look.

Found May 12 2018 Little Book Wild Mustangs
See the cougar print just below it?

Hilside May 12 2018 Wild Mustang May 12 2018 Red Heart Shaped Balloon Wild Mustangs
All in all, over the past four weeks I received four of these heavenly communiques. The birthday balloon has balloons upon the balloon.

SAY WHAT???

God is so good that I would love Him even if I never received anything in return.

Have a great weekend my friends. Go on a treasure hunt with the Lord and uncover the love notes that surround you. 

Wild mustangs 1
The Paint horse on left is protecting her foal as we approached.
image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-17/f61d9e7c-b02f-43c6-97a0-924055b459e1.png
Beautiful and free
Mustangs 3
Regal animals, loved by God... and us!


Thank you for sharing life with me. I love you so much. Lynn


The Book of Esther: Enemies Destroyed and a New Holiday

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Esther, mosaic, Jerusalem-The Church of Hagia Maria Zion-The Dormition Church

For such a time as this…

SUMites, when we last left Esther and Mordecai, the king had given them Mordecai his signet ring (authority). Esther seems to hold such great favor with the king that just her explanation of her relationship to Mordecai results in this transfer of authority.  

Esther again speaks to the king, falling at his feet in tears as she pleads for the lives of her people. The king gives both her and Mordecai permission to do what they feel best to save the Jews. The king’s scribes are summoned and a new proclamation is written to “react” to the one Haman had made. Since a Persian’s king’s decree could not be revoked, this counter attack was the best way to stop the annihilation of the Jewish population. Once again, the God of the Jews is protecting them.

Take a closer look at this stunning description of what happened next:

Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them. — Esther 8:15-17

Did you catch that last line? Not only were the Jews saved, but people were converted to Judaism as well. God’s presence among the Jews was unmistakable. We’ve seen that in the subtle hints by the author using the number seven. What’s so interesting, my friends, is in the midst of this study, I’ve been rather fascinated by the mention of the seven Spirits of God.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. — Isa. 11:1-2

From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, — Rev. 4:5

Now interestingly enough, in reading through Esther the Holy Spirit began pointing out the characteristics of God present in this story. Seven of them. I began to wonder if these characteristics could be linked to the seven Spirits of God. Take a look:

God of Sovereignty (Spirit of the Lord—mandates us for position): God chose specific people to put in key places—Esther, Mordecai and Xerxes. He first placed Esther in a position to be queen and then Mordecai to be in an even greater position of power.

God of Justice (Spirit of Wisdom—equips us for position): The gallows built by Haman become his own death sentence. Esther and Mordecai create decrees that uniquely counter Haman’s plot by bringing justice to the Jews.

God of Provision (Spirit of Understanding—authorizes us for position): Esther’s favor is secure throughout the story. Mordecai’s favor continues to increase. And God is generous in His astonishing provision for Esther, Mordecai and the Jews.

God of Partnership (Spirit of Council—prepares us for position): God chooses to partner with His people to accomplish His plans and purposes. Even though we are not told He is there, we see His presence at work throughout the story, especially in the council Esther receives through Mordecai and Hegai.

God of Faithfulness (Spirit of Might—reveals us for position): God continues to save Israel even in her captivity, and uses two of their people to do it through.

God of the Impossible (Spirit of Knowledge—empowers us for position): Esther was a jew living in exile, yet she is made the Queen of Persia. And she uses her position and what she has learned to save her people.

God of Perfection (Spirit of Fear of the Lord—seals us for position): God’s time is perfect in the orchestration of the events. Especially in how Haman’s plots are revealed and used against him. The timing is quite uncanny. And Esther and Mordecai never question whether God is present or not. They know He is there and that He will answer their pleas. For the most part, they are secure in who they are and where God has placed them.

Now, what’s even more interesting is the new holiday that emerges from these events. As you probably guessed, the name Purim comes from the pur (lots) that Haman tossed to determine the date of the Jewish annihilation. 

In chapter nine we see one of the first things Mordecai does is make a decree to all the provinces that the Jews are to keep the 14th and the 15th days of the month of Adar as a celebration of their deliverance from their enemies. They were to be days of feasting, gladness, gifts of food and gifts to the poor. 

Today that holiday is still observed with the reading of the book of Esther (Megillah) once on the even of Purim and then on the following day, the giving of money gifts to at least two poor people, sending gifts of two kinds of food to at least one person, and a Purim feast, which often includes either wine or other intoxicating beverages.

Purim is actually one of the more livelier holidays on the Jewish calendar. On the day before, it is customary to fast in commemoration of Esther’s prayer and fasting. During Purim, children and adults wear costumes and indulge in sweets like hamantaschen, a three cornered, sweet-filled pastry. (For more information on Purim, click here.

What I found most significant in my research of this holiday is what God has done just recently for the Jewish people. In the early 1950’s, Joseph Stalin had brutal plans to deal with the “Jewish problem” in the U.S.S.R. At the crisis point in 1953, he died…on Purim.

In 1991, Saddam Hussein of Iraq invaded Kuwait and began firing SCUD missiles into Israel. U.S.-led forces attacked Iraq and ended hostilities…on Purim.

Fascinating, isn’t it? God continues to move “behind the scenes” even today on behalf of the Jewish Nation. So encouraging!

My friends, I have one post left in this series and it is the one I’ve been dying to share since I started this series. But the Holy Spirit has continually kept me on track to bring out key points first so that you may fully embrace what He is speaking to us right now. It is astonishing and awe-inspiring!

Love you, SUMites! Great things are happening!
Dineen

Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo


The Book of Esther: The Queen Risks Everything

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Esther, mosaic, Jerusalem-The Church of Hagia Maria Zion-The Dormition Church

For such a time as this…

My friends, we’re moving deeper into the story of Esther where things are moving much faster and starting to heat up in a big way. We left the story with Queen Esther’s life hanging in the balance.

As chapter five opens, Queen Esther has put on her royal robes (put on her best dress) and enters the king’s throne room. We hold our breath and wait. What will her fate be? Yet we know who, I mean WHO, has her back, right? With God behind her, she is destined for victory.

Just as we are, my friends. Often, it’s all in how we look at it. Like Mordecai, we can turn every situation upside down and ask God, “What do you want to do here? What are the possibilities?”

King Xerxes extends his scepter, and she is welcomed in. And not only that. The king offers her whatever she wants, even up to half of his kingdom. My friends, here is where we see God’s heart working in a big way. He has placed Esther in even more favor in her situation, and, amazingly, displays this through the king, her husband.

Do we miss that sometimes? Do we miss how God can work through our spouses and show His extravagant love through them? I know I have. God has had to almost knock me upside the head at times, but when I see it, I am so overwhelmed. It’s unmistakable in its generosity and goodness.

Now, if you’re like me, the first time you read Esther, you probably expected her to reveal everything to the king at that moment, but instead, Esther invites the king and Haman to a banquet she prepares. And if you’re still like me, you probably asked, why is she prolonging this?

Based upon what we see in the beginning of this story with Queen Vashti, I wonder if Esther wanted to reveal who she was to the king without the presence of the king’s nobles, who clearly seemed to have a lot of power and influence over the king. In fact, King Xerxes seems like a puppet at times, allowing the opinions and ideas of those around him to rule his kingdom.

But then, why would she want Haman to attend as well, if that were the case? 

The plot continues to thicken yet again, my friends. Esther continues to withhold her request by asking the king and Haman to join her for another banquet the next day, with the promise to answer the king’s question. 

We can only speculate, but my thoughts here are that she was securing her place once again in the king’s heart and hoping Haman would lower his guard enough to be exposed. After all, she surely knew the place Haman held in the king’s court as his most honored noble. Queen Esther probably wanted to ensure that her favor with the king overruled Haman’s (vss. 5:7, 7:3). 

In the meantime, Haman is doing some plotting of his own. He is so certain of his place with the king and now the queen, he orders gallows to be built for Mordecai to be hung on at the suggestion of his wife and friends. (Note: the NIV translation describes a pole and that Mordecai was to be impaled upon it.)

But as we see in the Joseph’s story, what the enemy means to harm us, God uses for our good. That very night, a sleepless King Xerxes orders the book of memorable deeds to be opened and read to him. And what do you know, the story of Mordecai exposing the plot to kill the king is read!

And the king is reminded that Mordecai was never rewarded for his act. We are now in chapter six with Haman’s plan to have Mordecai killed waiting to be initiated, yet the king has decided to honor that very same man. Talk about a clash of the Persians!

My friends, I find this part of the story somewhat hilarious as Haman walks right into his own trap. Only God could orchestrate this "just" moment. “Just” as Haman is entering the king’s court with full intentions to petition the king for Mordecai's death, the king is calling Haman to consult him about honoring Mordecai.

And Haman’s assumption and expectation to be honored by the king with his own suggestions is turned completely upside down. He winds up the one ordered to lead the very man he hates, Mordecai, around the city wearing the king’s robe and riding the king’s horse, shouting, “This is what is done to the man the king delights to honor.” 

Haman is completely humiliated. I can’t help but wonder how Mordecai felt in all this. I can’t see him sitting on that horse too comfortably and gloating. I suspect he may have been a tad uncomfortable but was wise enough to comply since it was the king’s order to honor him. 

At the end of chapter six, even Haman’s wife and wise men tell him he didn’t stand a chance. They already see his imminent fall when pitted against the Jewish people, which tells us the remnant of Israel already has a reputation of having a God who comes through for them.

And so do we, SUMites. Our God is so faithful. He comes through for us. And in the most unexpected ways! If a people group who didn’t even follow Yaweh have such an expectation, how much more can our expectation be of our God, Who gives us everything. 

And not just half the kingdom, but the entire Kingdom through His Son Jesus…

We’re entering chapter seven and the demise of Haman. At this second banquet, Queen Esther answers the king’s question, “What is your wish?” She asks for her life and reveals she is one of the very people the king has decreed to be killed. At the revelation that Haman, the king’s most valued noble, is the one behind the decree, King Xerxes becomes enraged. 

Could part of the king’s anger be a realization that he so easily gave Haman his ring and authority to make such a decree? Could we question here whether King Xerxes held much authority at this point as he seemed to allow others to make decisions for him? He certainly seems to regain some of this when he orders Hamas to be hanged on the same gallows he built for Mordecai.

Yet by chapter eight, the king has already given his signet ring to Mordecai after Queen Esther explains who he is. This happens before she pleads with him to avert the pending threat against her people. My friends, in my introduction to Esther, one of my bullet points was “the shifting of positions of those in authority and those in leadership.”

I intentionally worded it that way and you may have wondered what the difference was. This is part of what the Holy Spirit “talked” to me about one Sunday afternoon after church. Authority and leadership are not the same. You can have a leader without authority, but someone with authority will lead. He also explained that leadership without authority falls short of God’s plan.

Now here is where this discussion became very interesting. Using Scriptures, the Holy Spirit showed me there are different levels of authority. It is fascinating, my friends. Something I had wondered about in the past but now understand more clearly. This I will share with you soon and the stunning revelation that goes with it. 

In the meantime, share your hearts in the comments. We are nearing the end of Esther’s story and the beginning of another one. What parts of Esther speak to you, my friends? What revelations in this story are taking root and perhaps helping you see your situation in a different light?

Love you!
Dineen

Copyright: zatletic / 123RF Stock Photo


The Book of Esther: Haman's Plot and Mordecai's Plea

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Esther, mosaic, Jerusalem-The Church of Hagia Maria Zion-The Dormition Church

For such a time as this…

SUMites, are you as riveted by this story as I am? The intrigue thickens as we walk into chapter three. Mordecai continues to refuse to bow to Haman or explain why to the other gate officials when asked. These men bring this to Haman's attention to see if it will be tolerated. 

Sound familiar? Everyone watched to see if former Queen Vashti's refusal of the king would be tolerated as well. All eyes are on the king waiting to see precedent set. We see the same mentality today in our own political arenas, my friends. It's like a pack mentality. 

Haman is now alert to Mordecai's ongoing refusal and is enraged. He has learned who Mordecai's people are and decides he the idea of just killing Mordecai isn't enough. He wasn't to eliminate all the Jews. 

There is history in the works here as well, my friends. Haman is described as the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, in the beginning of chapter three. It's likely this refers to King Agag, king of Amalek. The Amalekites were the ones who attacked the Israelites after they fled Egypt. Exodus 17:16 says, "The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation." 

This history no doubt influence Haman's and Mordecai's view of each, I believe. Bad blood, so to speak, raised it's ugly head and determined destruction was the only answer. In the twelfth year of King Xerxes reign (and Esther's seventh as queen), they (which is unclear who) cast the pur, which means "the lot."

Pur, or lots, were either sticks with markings or stones with symbols that were thrown into a small area and then the result was interpreted. It’s also where the name of the Jewish celebration Purim comes from, which we will discuss more later in this story. 

This is how Haman determined the exact date of the demise of the Jews. Once he did this, he manipulated the king to agree by describing the Jews scattered all over the his provinces as a threat to his reign. Haman even offers the king a large sum of money out of his own wealth to fund the cause. King Xerxes hands over his signet ring, which was used to mark official documents with the official seal and authority of the king, tells him to keep his money and "do with the people as you please." (Esther 3:11)

Then the king's scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king's satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language. It was written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king's signet ring. Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province by proclamation to all the peoples to be ready for that day. The couriers went out hurriedly by order of the king, and the decree was issued in Susa the citadel. And the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was thrown into confusion. — Esther 3:12-15 (ESV)

Did you catch that last line? The entire city was thrown into confusion. Clearly this decree baffled the people with its instructions to destroy an entire people group. Can you imagine what those from other nationalities thought? Would they be next? Israel wasn’t the only nation conquered by King Xerxes. 

At the start of chapter four the news sends Mordecai into a traditional expression of grief in the Near East. He dons sackcloth and ashes and walks through the city crying and weeping loudly. And he was not the only one. Jews everywhere were doing the same thing. 

The news deeply distressed Esther, but what could she do? The king still didn’t know she was Jewish—no one did except Mordecai. She sends the eunuch Hathach (how many of these guys does one palace need?) to bring Mordecai proper clothing but he refuses them. My guess is she wanted to protect her cousin from scrutiny and further harm.

Through Hathach, Mordecai gives Esther the full picture, even to the amount of money Haman had offered the king. Speculation says the king’s initial refusal was just customary and that he did accept the money based upon Esther 4:7. But I’m thinking at this point, surely Hathach must know more about Esther’s true heritage as the go between here. In her seven-year-reign, she’s surely surrounded herself with trusted advisors and confidants. 

Now here’s where we find out two interesting details. No one, not even the queen, can go to the king without being summoned. To do so is to risk of death. If the king doesn’t want to talk to you and doesn’t extend his scepter, you are condemned to death (vs. 4:11).

We also find out Esther hasn’t seen the king in a month. They’ve been married now for seven years, remember? Could it be the king was growing tired of her? (Maybe the seven-year-itch existed even then!) How could Queen Esther not wonder if that were the case? It’s no wonder she felt her life could be at risk. 

But Mordecai, as he seems to always do, gives her the full perspective. Even though she is the queen, she is still a Jew and will not escape what is about to happen to her people. In other words, her life was already forfeited as it stood. Yet Mordecai does something genius here, my friends. He turns the perspective on end. 

Instead of declaring death over their lives, he brings a different possibility to the forefront. What if all that had happened to Esther was to bring her to a place to ultimately help her people?

For such a time as this…

And take notice here that neither Esther or Mordecai question the presence of God in this situation. They don’t even doubt His presence. It is assumed God is there, and they will do their part by fasting and praying.

At the end of chapter four we watch Esther rise to the call and tell Mordecai to gather the Jews in Susa to fast and pray for three days. Now she is the one giving the orders to Mordecai, and he is the one obeying. Esther has chosen not only to position herself in the full authority of her place as queen, but to use it to benefit her people. No matter the risk.

SUMites, we’ve talked in the past about how similar our roles are to Esther. She was most definitely mismatched in that she was married to someone who didn’t share her faith. Yet she ultimately held a great place of influence as she put her faith in God to uphold and save her. And ultimately justify her as well. At times we too stand in a precarious place, unsure whether to speak at the risk of losing the favor of our spouse, or to remain silent. But look closely, my friends, and see if there is a Mordecai there, pointing in the right direction. He can be the leading of the Holy Spirit, a timely placed person who speaks truth like a mentor, a circumstance or even a moment that clearly calls us to rise to the place God is calling us to. He speaks to our hearts and says, “Come up here!”

My friends, we see God meet Esther with strength, courage and provision so that she can rise and walk the path she is called to. God has placed her for that such a time as this moment, my friends, just as we are in the lives of our spouses and even more. So much more, SUMites. That’s part of that big revelation that I told you about. We’re almost there. You are going to love it!

Big hugs!
Dineen


Waiting on the Promises with Hope

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My advent wreath—the first candle lit represents hope.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you all so much,
Dineen

 


Moving Day!

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My daughter Leslie wrote this in the entry.

SUMites, today’s the big day. As you read this, hubby and I are moving into our new home. I can’t begin to tell you how excited we are. I can’t wait to pray over the Scriptures you sent as I sit in my “war room,” knowing those same words that are written on the interior beams of the house. Yes, I will have a small room that I can call my “war room,” my friends, where I can meet with God and pin my prayer concerns to a big bulletin board I can’t wait to design. Have any ideas on that? Send them to me or leave them in the comments.

I don’t fully understand what God is doing in this symbolic representation our home and our SUM family. I can only tell you that He has some crazy big kingdom purposes for this house. Already I can see people in our home for Bible study and ministry, and many coming to Christ in those times. I can see people being baptized in our swimming pool(a standard feature here in Florida) and people in our neighborhood being drawn to this home that holds the presence of the Holy Spirit, because deep in their soul they know something’s missing and they want—need—that hope. 

But you know what absolutely brings me to tears of joy? I believe this is what God is doing in all of us and all our homes. I can’t tell you how I know that, I just do. I firmly believe God’s word to me about this latter house being greater than the former is symbolic of what God is doing in the “House of S.U.M. too.”

“The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace,” declares the Lord of hosts. — Haggai 2:9

And that is a word I want to release over each of you today. 

Abba Father, thank You for the promise of Your Word. We pray in agreement that the latter glory of the House of S.U.M. and every SUMite’s home will be greater than the former. We dedicate this ministry and our homes to You for Your kingdom purposes and for Your glory alone. Lord, we ask that the heavens would open even wider over this church without walls and each of our homes to pour out more of Your presence, provision and blessings so that the world will take notice—our spouses, our children, our families and friends, and even our neighbors. And fill our homes with peace, Lord! Great peace! In the name of Jesus, amen!

SUMites, I have more hope to share with you next week. So much more! I’m praying already that it will knock your socks off. I believe it’s the next part of “moving day” and some pretty amazing things God is going to be doing.

Love you!
Dineen

Here are a few of the Scriptures written on the beams. :-)

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A Glimpse of Heaven

October 12, 2012, was THEE day.

My entire universe altered as I stood in worship at Open Heavens and experienced the Presence of God. Dineen too was forever changed that day. Our ministry was forever changed and I pray that many of you have received encouragement and have experienced a change in your life because of that day.

This year was my fifth-anniversary visit. It always amazes me that Bill remembers me and our ministry. He truly cares for all of us who walk this difficult road, the spiritually mismatched.

I want to share some glimpses of the week. And share one moment that God gifted to me.

Meet Edna, Sandy, Evelyn, Grace and Maria. These five ladies came all the way from North Carolina.

Edna Sandy Evelyn Grace Maria

They came because of Evelyn, who is on the far right, a SUMite and she had read about my adventures on the blog in years past. 

Amazing things happened with these ladies. Like when Evelyn asked for prayer for her hearing loss. As I stood next to her, waiting for the pastor to instruct us to pray, Evelyn looks up at me and says, “I feel heat on my right ear. Heat.”

I am teary with joyous excitement as I reply to her, “Your healing is happening and we haven’t even started to pray yet.” After prayer, she said she experienced a popping sound and her hearing was improved.

I remain utterly mystified how God heals but I'm undone to be allowed to pray and to be a conduit to miracles is….. well….. I have no language to explain. God just ROCKS!!! 

I share some photos below along with one personal story. It's not often that I consider the efforts of my life on earth. I serve the Lord out of love and passion, to empower and strengthen the Saints. So, I was undone on Wednesday. Let me explain. October of 2012 was my first year. In 2013, I invited a woman named Sue. Her life was forever changed. In 2014, 2015 and this year she invited more and more people. I invite people. And they joined us on the adventure this year.

During worship on Wednesday, Sue stepped back to where I was standing and whispered, “Lynn, look down these two rows of people.”

I looked down the rows at a collection of people and children. There were 31 people in our group and others around the auditorium that were in attendance because I took a chance. God heard my call, felt my hunger, for MORE of Him. And through the wildest of circumstances and convincing Dineen to go on this wild adventure with me, we came to Open Heavens in 2012 and set in motion life-change for many others.

Sue went on to say, “These rows of people who are here, experiencing healing and a renewal of their faith, Lynn, they are the fruit. The fruit of your life.”

I burst into uncontrolled sobs.

Even now a lump is in my throat. I don’t often consider the fruit of my life, but on this particular day, the Lord in His great love allowed me a glimpse. I am unraveled.

My friends, once in a while, a glimpse of our efforts is worth months and months of contending in our struggles. I pray this week that God gives you a glimpse of all that your life is pouring into others. And let me assure you of this. If you are spiritually mismatched, your life IS pouring into others.

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This is Sue. She prays for hours for people while we wait in line.

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SUMite: Evelyn recognized me coming out of a port-o-potty... A blessing indeed.

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I was praying for people in line and this wonderful woman from Australia asked me to pray for her.

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Some of our group. They came from as far as the UK. That Is SUMite, Jim Edwards, in the back.

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This is Gracie Wright.  She is an author of children's books. We were in line at O'Dark 30. Someone brought donuts.

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Lynn, Bill, Stone

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Jenn Johnson and Stone. They have a new album soon and it's awesome.

They shared several new songs from their new album that will be out in a few months. The song, He's In The Waiting, is utterly transformative. Stay tuned.  

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My travel companion this year.

 IMG_4377These girls stood up in the conference. They attended with their parents who live in Colorado. Both girls eyesight was miraculously healed last year. Girls Eyesight Healed by God.

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SUMites: Lynn and Jim Edwards

  

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FRUIT: I'm undone!

My friends, God is on the move. Hang on because we are bearing witness to the church arising, awakening and impacting our world.  

We are the church of the Most High God. And I believe we are going to quickly be the church of the book of Acts. Hang on because IT'S THE BEST RIDE EVER!!

I pray you are overwhelmed with wave after wave of His love today. Hugging you, Lynn 


The Tale of Two Houses

NewHouseMy friends, I pray you are still discovering sweet revelations and blessings from last week's fasting and praying for Rosh Hashanah. Dawn did an amazing job leading us. Thank you, my friend! We love you so much! 

And my friends, your comments were moving and inspiring. If you didn't read Ann's comment about her revelation dream for us that she posted on Thursday, please go read it in the comments. It's very encouraging and confirmed many things for me. In fact, God used her comment and Dawn's story about her house to show me what I was to share with you next. 

Can I just say, I love our Father's heart for us and our spouses? He is so passionate about us, my friends! I'm overwhelmed by His love and heart for us.

Now about our house...we are just 16 days away from closing. We have watched our house transform from a cement slab and framed walls to a nearly completed home full of details—cabinets, counters, painted walls and landscaping. My husband and I are so excited that we go by our house about twice a day just to see what new things have been done that day.

Now something happened early on in this process that came full circle just a week ago and God has show me it's a word for us. But first, I need to tell you a story of how this all began.

Back in 2004...

My husband and I decided it was time to buy a house. We'd moved back to the U.S. (to California) from Switzerland two years prior and had rented a house so we could get acquainted with the area and figure out where we wanted to settle. However, as you may or may not know, the housing prices in California were/are quite high. And the houses that were in our budget sold fast, usually through bidding wars.

One Sunday I went to church full of despair. We'd not found a house and had decided we would continue renting. I asked my Sunday school group to pray for us. We planned to check one more area that afternoon, but if that didn't pan out, we'd call our landlord and negotiate another lease.

That afternoon we drove to the area a friend had suggested but didn't find it. We had a fairly small area to work in because of our oldest daughter's high school district. When we reached that outer street, we resigned ourselves to just go home.

Just a few blocks down, we saw an open house sign on a house that was just renovated and hadn't even been officially listed yet. We debated stopping and finally did. 

My friends, I kid you not, as I walked into that house and barely saw more than just the front living area, I said to my husband, "This is our house."

We contacted our realtor, who was (is) a believer and told her to make an offer. And then we went to war. Several offers came in for that house. We'd offered the full asking price but knew the chances were slim to get it. Mike and discussed offering more and decided we'd take the risk. Our budget would be stretched, and we weren't sure how we'd do it, but my ever-optimist husband said we'd figure out a way. 

I called our realtor and asked if we should offer more. She asked for a little time to pray about it. A half hour later she called and agreed it was a good plan. Then we waited. 

The next day my husband came home with a story of his own. He'd received an unexpected raise that day, and it was exactly what we would need to afford the higher price mortgage. 

We got the house. SUMites, every time I looked at our house after that, all I saw in my mind was this big red bow around it, because it was a gift from God. We walked through a lot in that house (including the miracles of my daughter’s cancer recovery) and God us blessed us richly, even in the sale of the home to a sweet family with a little boy.

Now, fast forward to our house we are building now. As I shared in my post in July, God showed me this new house is a also a gift from His hand and that I was to rejoice in it. 

On September 8th, God led me to the book of Haggai. 

"'The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’” — Haggai 2:9 ESV

As I read this, I began to tremble, my friends. That may sound crazy, but I knew that God had spoken something very deep to my spirit. And He reminded me of two other times this Word was spoken over me in the last year and half. Now He was affirming that the house He was giving us  ow and all that He has planned and purposed for it (which He's given me just a glimpse of His kingdom plans there and let me just say, "WOW!") will be greater than our former house.

SUMites, as I have shared in this past, this new house has become a monument of God's presence, provision and plans for this community. Our SUM family.

This word, that our latter "home" will be greater than our former one is for all of us. Ann's comment last week confirmed this for me. And showed me now was the time to share it as we near the completion of this home.

But God has given me another specific word, my friends. One that starts with an event that would require me to forgive someone connected to the completion of this home for lying and breaking our trust. It's a crazy story of God's unexpected justice and protection of His provision and plans. You will be utterly amazed.

Please be sure to come back for the rest of this story on Friday and to hear God's heart for us right now. This is a message you don’t want to miss, straight from the Father’s heart.

We are on the precipice, my friends. I know it's challenging to be on the mountain top with an assuredness and determination to pray into what God reveals to us, then to wait and pray, wait and pray, wait and pray and not see any visible change. But let me be the voice of truth to you and reassure you that our God is working diligently to bring forth His promise in reply to our prayers. 

Today I'm asking you to make a new declaration in the comments that you trust the Lord for all that He has promised you because He is your God.

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” — Psalms 31:14

Declare what you are trusting Him for too, my friends. Let's speak out into the natural what God is setting into place in the heavens! (Heb. 11:3)

I love you, SUM family. Please know that I am faithfully praying Jer. 24:7 and the Scriptures you sent me over you and your spouse. God is faithful to His Word!
~ Dineen

 


Foundations Series: A Monument for the SUMites

HouseHello SUM family! I hope your 4th of July celebration was full of fireworks, yummy food and family fun. My house was packed with close to thirty people (including my daughter Leslie who’s here for a visit!), which equated to me making a lot of hamburgers! The aroma of grilled burgers and hotdogs still lingers in the air here. How about you? 

Last week I laid the foundation (yes, pun intended) for this Foundations Series. And left you with a bit of a cliff hanger, didn’t I? Blame the fiction writer in me. It’s in my genes. Giggling just a bit here.

So, as I shared last week, my husband and I are building a house here. There is a God story behind this that is truly amazing and is part of this foundation theme. You see, roughly 26 years ago we moved away from Sarasota and family to find a better place for our growing family. At the early buddings of our careers, we couldn’t afford to buy a house. Though we loved being near our families, we didn’t see much of a future here. We moved away and lived in many places, including Switzerland for a short time.

Fast forward to the end of 2010. We (me, hubby and our girls) drove to Florida from California to spend Christmas with family. One day as I sat with my mother and my youngest daughter, we prayed a prayer that God answered so fast it made my head spin, yet would take four years to fully manifest.

I wanted to move back to Florida. My husband adamantly did not. Yet that day my mother, daughter and I prayed for God to soften my husband’s heart about moving back. Three days later hubby and I left the kids with the grandparents to run an errand and have a few minutes alone. Mike’s unusual silence told me something was on his mind. 

Suddenly he asked, “How would you feel about moving back to Florida?” 

I was so stunned I couldn’t speak a coherent word for about three minutes! Little did I know that the next four years would be filled with some tough times for us financially and would just about make me lose hope in that dream becoming a reality. Then everything “suddenly” fell into place.

So we’ve come full circle. From unable to buy a house here near our families to now building a home big enough to host family get togethers and holiday celebrations. This is part of my Jubilee year promise God gave me. (Lev 25:8-13)

In the Year of Jubilee each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors. — Lev 25:13

And also why I wanted that picture of our feet on the foundation of our house. Kind of silly, kind of fun, yet packed with meaning in light of the 26 years it took to return “home.” And there is so much more coming, my friends.

As we started this house process, God was showing me eagles in the Bible. I was praying that verse in Psalm 103 about renewing our youth like the eagles. Best aging remedy I know! One day we drove to our future neighborhood to see our empty lot, and there in the middle stood a bald eagle. I kid you not. 

God spoke to my heart that day a sweet confirmation that this was from His hand, His blessing and that I was to delight in it. He is so very good. So very generous.

And we are blessed to bless others, right? That was my inspiration behind a decision to share His generosity with this beautiful SUM family. 

We’re talking about foundational truths right now and salvation is one of them. More coming on that one, as I shared. But I wanted to create a monument to this, my friends. To God’s goodness and His salvation promise to us.

I just read about Jacob and and his Uncle Laban. Their story culminates in Genesis 31 with a pile of stones called Galeed, which means “witness pile” in Hebrew. I love monuments like these in the Bible, because they mark a moment of significance. Which is what I wanted to do with our new home, this community and our SALVATION word this year.

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Millers, Donovans and ENTIRE SUM NATION!

 

I printed out a copy of our 2016 SUM Word (see the sidebar if you haven’t read it) and wrote Lynn’s and my names on it along with our hubbies names too. And I wrote “The entire SUM Nation” with it. Then I tucked this along with a glass “stone” with Romans 8:28 engraved on the surface into a baggy.

This prophetic package is now part of the foundation of our house—our home. It is right at the corner of the entry to the house. 

IMG_4823The "promise package" is now a permanent part of the foundation, right at the entry to the house, under a "cornerstone."

 

Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. — Ephesians 2:20

Wow! That’s giving me Holy Spirit chill bumps! And you know what’s even more amazing about this story? My husband is the one who put it into the foundation for me. Is God astonishing or what?

Now there is one more part of this story that’s incomplete. As I was praying and worshiping last night, God showed me He wants to fill the walls of this house with Scriptures. 

From you. 

Has God given you a Scripture and promise for your spouse? Email it to me so I can write them on the beams of this “monument” house built on the foundational promise of SALVATION God has given us, set in the corner to represent Jesus as the cornerstone. I’ve already enlisted a team to help me do this too!

In late August we are scheduled to close and move into our house. But even as the walls are going up and the rest of the house is being completed, I will be walking the rooms of this house, praying the prayers you have sent me for your spouse. I don’t fully understand the meaning behind all this, but I know He is bringing us together in a powerful way and has even shown me this in a dream. What God has planned for us is glorious, my friends! Together, we are His house!

Love you so much!
Dineen


Part One: We are the SUMites

IMG_5100SUMites, today I want to remind you who you are. Holy Spirit has impressed this upon me right now in conjunction with our SALVATION word for this year. And if I sound like a broken record about that word, understand that the Lord has told me I am to continually hold this before you and remind you of it from time to time. He’s even given me specific things to do that I am waiting for Him to tell me when to share them.

But today He wants you to remember WHO you are. Who He says you are. Who He has created you to be in this time as a SUMite. 

Last April Holy Spirit had me sitting in the book of Isaiah, specifically Isaiah 60. At the end of this chapter I underlined the words and wrote “SUM” next to them. I knew that’s what God was creating us to be as community.

Today He brought me back to this verse and pointed out more that I didn’t understand last year. That’s because He is so much more brilliant than I am and has much better timing. LOL!

The smallest family will become a thousand people,and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation. At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen. — Isaiah 60:22

SUMites, I want to break this down because this will be just the first part of a series I feel—yes, very much feel—Holy Spirit is building to equip, train and prepare us for the full revelation of our salvation word. We are an army in training, so let’s get ready.

First, this is who we are as a community and what God has done and is doing in and through us.

The smallest family will become a thousand people…

We started with just a handful of “readers,” which then grew to be a community, then a family, as I shared that progression during last month’s celebration. Today that family includes over 2,000 people. God exceeded His quota, my friends. I find that incredibly fantastic and beyond what we could have asked or even imagined (Eph. 3:20).

and the tiniest group will become a mighty nation…

We hold an additional name along with SUMites—SUM Nation. A name that just seemed to fit was actually God’s plan for us. Isn’t that astonishing?

At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen.

That He did! And He is still doing it. Making us a mighty nation of women and men who have persevered in our faith and are praying, believing and standing for the salvation of our spouses. 

I believe this promise is now coming from heaven to earth. I see the progression so clearly and am excited to share that with you. In January, God gave us a corporate word—SALVATION—and specific ways to pray over our spouses and family. 

Do you remember earlier in the year when I wrote about paying attention to how we hear God and asked you to keep a journal of how and what God is speaking to you? Many of you shared you began to hear God more. And Lynn and I did the online web training last month too. What I realize now, my friends, is that was also part of God’s training and preparation for what’s coming. Isn’t that cool?

Last month we had an overwhelming response to the post about the one minute prayer, which we now have many praying for each other’s spouse and a team of intercessors who have answered God’s call to pray over the entire list. He’s united us into a mighty army of prayer warriors, my friends, and we will soon have a prayer book to prove it! 

And He’s not done. There is so much more, SUMites. I wish I could pour it into one post but it’s just too much. His promises have been put into position, and we are an important part of the realization of those promises for it is God’s nature to partner with His creation to bring into place His glorious plans.

God is not only in the process of training us, He is upgrading us. Taking us up to the next level. That is the next part of what God is showing me in Isaiah 60 and what I will share on Thursday, along with more encouragement for you regarding the increase in spiritual warfare many of us are experiencing.

I’ve started praying for testimonies to start coming in, and some have, mainly of how God has begun to move in marriages and loved ones. My friends, these are so encouraging! Please share in the comments anything God is doing in your life right now. Ask God to show you what He’s up too. The very thing you share, no matter how small, may be the confirmation another SUMite needs right now.

Lord Jesus, You have gifted us with eyes to see and ears to hear. Bless us all with more insight and wisdom to see where You are working and hear Your leading so we may join with You in this  wonder and miracle of the Great Harvest. In the mighty and saving name of Jesus, amen!

God bless you, SUMites, with great joy and wonder in Him today!
Love you!
Dineen

 


Reach for the Stars

ReachfortheStarsMy friends, we’ve already started to receive prayers from many of you for our new book, Praying for Your Unsaved Spouse. I’m hoping there are many more of you out there praying, considering and even writing your prayer story.

But if you’ve decided that’s just not something you can do, I want to tell you a little story. About a year or so after I rededicated my life to Jesus, my church started a Stephen Ministry and put a call out for participants. It was a two year commitment—a year of training and a year of service within the church. 

When I read it, I thought how wonderful that will be for our church membership, but I didn’t even consider signing up. I had two young children and a husband who didn’t share my faith at all. Didn’t seem like a good fit for me. How could I do something like that?

That same week, my pastor called me into his office to chat. He asked me if I’d considered signing up for the Stephen Ministry training. I told him honestly, no. He looked me straight in the face and asked, “Please pray about it.”

My friends, I was surprised that my pastor, who knew my situation and knew me, would think I’d be a good candidate for this. But I was very willing to pray about it. And that’s what I did the very next morning. 

I love the saying that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those He calls. Jesus told the disciples not to worry about what to say but to trust that the Holy Spirit would give them the exact words they would need (Matt. 10:19, Mark 13:11, Luke 12:11).

That morning I sat in my favorite chair with my Bible in my lap, I began to pray about what my pastor had asked me. And before I could even finish my prayer, I heard God clearly say, “Well, what did you think I had in mind for you?”

You see, sometimes we disqualify ourselves for things because we haven’t done them before. Or we make assumptions that disqualify us that are completely contrary to God’s truth—and His plan—for us. 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. — Ephesians 2:10

My friends, if you think you are not qualified or capable of contributing to this project, please let me encourage you to seek God and ask Him. Let Him be the one to tell you what you are capable of. I have a feeling you will be very much surprised and delighted. And if you want some biblical inspiration of just how specific God can do this, read about Bezalel and Oholiab in Exodus 31. The only difference between them and you is that you already have the Holy Spirit living in you.

And I have a feeling there are prayers you haven’t thought about that have become near and dear to your heart. They don’t have to be about just salvation. How about prayers for your spouse to have favor at work or to be the best parent he or she can be with God’s help? We’ve seen God move in amazing ways through our spouses. What prayers have impacted your life as a SUMite? What prayers have impacted your marriage?

SUMites, I believe you have something to pray and say. Even if it’s something new that God inspires you with, share it! You’ll inspire more SUMites along this path than you will ever know. Like I say, God is not wasteful. He will take whatever you offer up to Him and multiply it beyond your wildest imagination (Eph 3:20)

I never imagined myself as a Stephen Minister, but God had planned it all along. And you know what’s even more amazing? All that training was part of God’s plan to bring me here too, to be a part of this beautiful SUM ministry. He’s the best equipper I know!

And I want to let you in on a little secret. As I was praying for this book and for our SUM family, Holy Spirit showed me there will be a sequel to this book—one filled with the salvation stories of our spouses! Can you imagine that, SUMites? Wow, God is on the move!

Holy Spirit, fill every SUMite praying this prayer with words and inspiration to be shared with those coming up behind us. I pray they be filled with wisdom, understanding and knowledge and with all kinds of words to express their heart and prayers. In the mighty and most able name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, SUM family!
Dineen


The Second Time We Met in Person

Imported Photos 00033Welcome back, SUMites, to our 10 Year Celebration and a walk down memory lane. In my last post I mentioned that it would be nearly three years before Lynn and I would meet in person, and the circumstances leading up to that started with you.

But let me go back a little farther in time before this second meeting. In the fall of 2008 my daughter Leslie was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Things happened fast those first few weeks with surgery dates, recovery and radiation treatments. 

During this time, Lynn was part of my support team and so was this blog and community. I found writing to be so helpful, and amazingly, it was during this time that I wrote The Soul Saver. God put that book on my heart and it was birthed out of my own life, marriage and the SUM ministry. I wanted to write that book for our community, and the front page bears a dedication to you, SUMites. I’m so thankful that was God’s plan all along too.

Not long after I finished that book, you started asking us for a Bible study about being spiritually mismatched. We listened, prayed and, boy-howdy, did God move. 

I remember being on the phone with Lynn, working out our chapters. By this time I’d written several fiction books and had an agent working on selling The Soul Saver. I’d never written a book with someone else and only dreamed of writing nonfiction at this point.

My friends, God again put all things into place. Lynn laid the foundation of the ten keys and we shared from our hearts what we felt most passionate about to write for the book. I’m still floored at how God basically placed half of that book on each of our hearts—different halves to make up the whole! 

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Our editor and dear friend, Kim Bangs

The chapter subjects came together seamlessly, and we put a book proposal together. Then came the waiting. And hoping. We knew God had given us that book, but the industry just didn’t seem quite ready. Until God connected Lynn with Kim Bangs, an editor at Regal Books.

Little did we know then that Kim would champion our book, we’d receive a contract, and by the grace of God, we wrote Winning Him Without Words in about four months.

Keep in mind that Lynn and I still lived hundreds of miles apart and had only met that one time. Yet we wrote a book together without any hitches! God was all over that, my friends. His Holy Spirit kept us unified and inspired us with the words.

Then in August 2010 the invitation came from our publisher to meet the team and join their marketing meeting at the offices in Ventura, CA. I flew into Ontario Airpot and guess who picked me up?

Yep, Lynn. I remember walking to her car with my suitcase, wondering how it would feel to finally spend time with her. We had a two hour car ride to the publisher’s offices, and then I would be staying with Lynn at her house overnight. Would it be weird? Awkward? I know a bunch of you out there are nodding your heads with the same questions, right?

Guess what? We didn’t stop talking the entire trip to the meeting and afterwards on the ride to her house. We didn’t stop talking at her house, or the next day when she took me back to the airport. God sure knew how to put two very different women together in a fit that’s just about as perfect as you can on this earth.

My friends, I declare today that I’ve no doubt Lynn’s and my friendship was ordained and I humbly believe it is anointed, too. For this ministry and for each other. The enemy has tried to come against us and break our unity, but we have stood together through it, and God has protected us. He’s also grown us in that friendship too, in ways that just make my heart burst. She and I say frequently that we would not want to walk this journey of the spiritually mismatched and ministry without each other. 

And that’s the heart of this community—to walk together in faith and to honor God with our lives and marriages. As Lynn shared in her video on Friday, the secret to an abundant life and a thriving marriage is about love:

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this:‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the L ord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. ’ The second is equally important:‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ’ No other commandment is greater than these. — Mark 12:29-31

And SUM Nation, I have to say we do this so very well here in our church without walls. God is in the SUM house! 

Love you!
Dineen


The First Time We Met in Person!

6a00d83451ee9f69e201bb08f36fa0970d-320wiSee that picture? My friends, that picture represents THE very first time Lynn and I met in person. We’d been writing together for nearly a year at this point, exchanged innumerable emails and had talked regularly at the phone, but we hadn’t actually met in person yet.

Until April of 2007. We found out we would both be attending the Deeper Still event in San Francisco and excitedly made plans to meet and at least chat for a minute. With the plan in place, we both headed up the San Francisco. Separately.

Now I tend to be a little on the shy side (although a surprise post coming this Saturday may make you think otherwise) so I will admit I was a tad bit nervous to meet Lynn. But my excitement far exceeded my shy nerves. 

We connected by cell phone at the event and set a place and time to meet during a break. We didn’t have our pictures on the blog at that point (thank goodness!) and video calling wasn’t really a thing yet (did I just age myself?). So we exchanged some appearance details so we could find each other. How funny is that?

And there she was, this bubbly, “little” blonde powerhouse! I knew right away that she was a brave woman because she wore all white. I’d have to buy stock in bleach if I did that. As soon as we saw each other, we laughed and hugged. I can’t even imagine what she thought when she saw this nearly six foot woman with curly hair coming her way.

Just minutes! That’s all we had to connect and see each other person.

After that we continued to work together, write together and watched God grow this ministry He’d brought us together to lead. When I think back to that and how He continued to work and grow us together, and how He continues to do that, my friends, I am utterly undone by His wisdom and goodness.

It would be nearly three years later—three years!—before Lynn and I would meet again, and the circumstances of that meeting started with you, SUMites.

That’s the next part of this story that I’ll share on Tuesday. In the meantime, be sure to tune in for more. We have some surprises coming!

Love you, my SUM family! 
Dineen


How Do You "Hear" God...For Your Spouse?

IStock_000005733150MediumMy dear friends, I hope the journaling exercise to "pay attention" to how you hear God has been a blessing and encouragement to you. Your comments have encouraged me greatly! I love how God speaks to us in many ways and specifically to our need and relationship with Him. Let’s review that verse again:

“So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” — Luke 8:18 NLT

Today I will share that story I promised you, one that will show another form of how God can speak to us. I've had the joy of training and working in two different healing rooms (Silicon Valley and now Manatee County). In fact, just this past weekend I attended more training and had the joy of facilitating as well. 

And God has used the last several years to teach me so much about healing prayers through teachers and mentors in these places and especially through the Holy Spirit, our greatest Teacher and Mentor of all. Over time, I've learned to recognize better when He's showing me something. I believe He communicates this way with me, because I am an artist and a very visual person.

If you study the book of Acts, you will see many descriptions of the disciples receiving images and even visions of God's leading. Just before his death, Stephen is given a glimpse of Jesus and heaven (Acts 7:55). Ananias heard the Lord instructing him in a vision to go to Saul because God had given Saul a vision of Ananias as part of Saul's conversion from a Pharisee to a believer who would be known as Paul (Acts 9:10-19). And God showed Peter through two visions that he was not to discriminate against Gentiles (Acts 10:3-33).

I love serving people in the healing rooms. We are there to pray with people for their needs, to encourage and edify them as Scripture directs, and we work in teams of three because we are stronger as a three-fold cord.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. — 1 Thess. 5:11 ESV

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. — Ecc. 4:12 NIV

On this particular day, a woman came in for prayer about the purchase of a house. She and her husband had felt clear leading to buy a specific house and had made an offer, but the inspection now showed issues that they would not be able to afford. Confusion had set in.

As our team sought God for leading in how to pray for her, I saw an image of a house in my mind. At first I simply thought it was the natural reaction of the mind to connect an image to thoughts, but as I said, I have learned through experience and practice to pay attention when I get an image, especially in this type of setting. Yet I am always careful to defer to Holy Spirit's leading to share a word of knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8). 

Our sister in Christ then joined us in the prayer room and we began to speak truth into her heart to help her refocus on God and His leading for her. I felt Holy Spirit direct me to share the image so I did. 

I described the image of the house in the detail the Holy Spirit had given me. I'm always a bit nervous to do things like this, but again I'm learning to trust Him more than myself. It's not easy. It’s a risk and an act of faith to trust in what God is doing and not what I understand or perceive is happening.

Turned out the image was the house she and her husband wanted to purchase, and sharing with her what God had shown me, along with what the other team members felt Holy Spirit telling them, confirmed and affirmed this dear woman on the God-lead path she was obediently trying to follow. She just needed reassurance that even though complications had cropped up, God was still in the lead and would provide. She left encouraged and felt even closer to God as a result. As we all do when we see, hear, feel and sense God's presence with us—we are drawn closer to Him and hunger for even more.

And I was too, as was the prayer team. These encounters never cease to astound me and draw me closer to God. I pray they never do. The end of this story is wonderful. The couple moved forward in faith and made another offer. They purchased the house for a price that gave them room to make the repairs. God did exactly what He said He would.

Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. — Deut. 7:9 NLT

My friends, the amazing thing is I am learning to apply this way of praying to my family. One night Holy Spirit showed me that I didn't believe He would show me what to pray for my family like I do in the healing rooms. I'm learning to first seek and listen before I start praying what I think my husband or daughters need. 

Sometimes our best intentions and love can keep us from hearing what God wants us to know, because we are more focused on the issue at hand instead of the answer God is waiting to give us.

Now as I pray for my husband, I wait for a leading or image to show me where God's working in him. That way I know how to pray and work with God in this transformation process. God wants me to see my husband as already saved and pray and praise accordingly. Just as God instructed Peter in his vision to not make a judgement of a person's place in God's kingdom, I feel God telling us the same thing, my friends. This verse spoke that truth to my heart this week:

Peter told them, "You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. — Acts 10:28

Right now we need to be seeking God for His heart and how He sees our spouses, our loved ones, and pray and declare in agreement. We only have a partial picture with our own perspective. God has the full picture and He knows our spouses (1 Cor. 13:12).

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6

That day of Jesus Christ is now, my friends. The Greek translation for the word "day" means the space between dark and dawn. I believe this is the time between Jesus' coming and return and we are in that time right now! So don't be discouraged! He is faithful to complete what He has told us He will do. SALVATION!

Dear friends, we live in an incredible time of witnessing God move in our spouses' lives and hearts! Be assured He is working. Seek Him, ask Him to show you and trust Him to complete the good work He has started as you join Him accordingly in prayer and trust for your spouse's salvation. Amen? Amen!


How do you "hear God? (part 3)

IStock_000001262149XSmallMy friends, in light of some of the questions generated by my post yesterday, Lynn and I swapped days so I can address some of those today, specifically the mention of fortune cookies. 

First, I want you to know that my heart is for every one of you to walk in deep intimacy with God and hear His voice clearly. I want His very best for you, because I love you so much and we are family. And having that kind of relationship with God makes all the difference in our lives and especially our marriages. When we put God first, He brings order and peace to our lives even in the midst of the storms in our lives and marriages. I know I would not have the marriage I have today had I not made the decision twenty plus years ago to put God first.

But I want to clarify something. My relationship with God and how I hear Him has come from years of studying His Word, sitting under the teaching of trusted leaders, Stephen Ministry and healing rooms training, and, most importantly, a daily commitment to spend time in His presence in prayer, reading the Bible and worship. At this point in my faith journey, this can be an hour or more daily. Usually as much as two hours or more at times. This is what God has called me to do.

I'm not sharing this to brag, but to help you understand the foundation I've built with God to discern and recognize His voice. Along with my continual heart cry to know Him better, I've asked Him to keep me from being deceived in any way. 

The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. — Psalms 32:8

So if I seemed casual about the fortune cookie discussion, please understand I am very careful about things like this. When I am in doubt, I am quick to seek God for wisdom or confirmation. If it doesn’t line up with God’s Word, then it’s not truth and needs to be discarded and ignored. Especially if you are just starting on this path, it’s even more important to be filling and transforming your mind with God’s Word. 

As I replied to Taylor, my goal was to generate some conversation so we could cover those "gray" areas. I think it's important that we carefully guard our minds and hearts. Anything that can create an open door for the enemy needs to be avoided. That is something each of us has to decide for ourselves, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, as we have similar and different areas of vulnerability.

The message Tiffany's shared clearly spoke the truth of Phil 4:19 to her heart, that God would provide for her every need. She received this in the light of the truth Jesus, and what she knew to be true biblically. The confirmations I received were for moves already in place that I knew God had set in place. It was like a love nod from God saying, "you're on the right track!" 

Some things are very clearly not of God, and we can make a clear decision. Other times it’s important that we take it right to Abba and ask for clarity, confirmation, or conviction. And His answer will always be filled with His love and direction, not condemnation (Romans 8:1). Even Jesus did this.

“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” — John 5:30

This is why it's so important that we are constantly reading our Bibles and spending time with God. Our spiritual foundation needs to be strong so that we know the difference between God's voice and the enemy’s.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. — Isaiah 30:21

My friends, Lynn will continue her story about her mother next Tuesday and as this post is long already, I will save my story for next Thursday. Please keep sharing how you are hearing God. The are wonderful and so encouraging! I find myself nodding as I read them and saying, “yes, yes!” SUMites, you are amazing. I know it’s challenging being the spiritual leaders in our homes, which requires us to be more diligent, but look at how much you are growing and living stronger in your faith. God is so faithful!

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. — 1 Cor 16:13-14
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