I said in my last post that the Holy Spirit had given us two playful pictures to hold at the moment. The first one I described in the last post. The second one I'm sharing today.
We are children to Jesus, and sometimes he will use playful analogies with us. What he seems to be saying to us today is this:
The way I am moving in the SUM community is like an ice-cream van.
My friends, does it mean anything to you yet? Perhaps you can see it instantly, but I couldn't. I needed a bit of help from him.
This is the fun of the Holy Spirit. He tells us something. We realize we have no idea what it means. He then gives us the interpretation when we ask for it - POW! And that's how we know it was him.
Yep, this is how it went. Having pondered the symbol of ice cream van unsuccessfully for a day or so, I just could not figure it out. So I asked the Holy Spirit for help.
Instantly it came:
What I am doing in the SUM community is like an ice cream van. The three testimonies you have seen are the sound of the music starting. You can hear the whisper of it, it's faint but it is a definite and clear sound in the air. You wonder if it will come to your street. You dearly hope that you will not miss out. But I am good! It's coming to you. You will not miss out. Get ready for the goodies!
With a word like this, God will often give us confirmation. In this case, so that I could be brave enough to write this he told me this: I've told you about an ice cream van before, go and look it up.
Yes, he had. I remember I had heard him say 'Ice cream van' before (That was all, just 'ice cream van', hilarious!! I could have thought I was hallucinating, but I did write it down .. Perhaps because I've been learning that hearing God speak can sometimes be a bit of a weird experience!) Thankfully because I had written it down I could pull out my phone and search in the diary app I use for such records. 'Ice cream van', I typed ... And there it was. It was the week of the January 2019 fast. Just like the vision of the cloths that I described in the previous post. Two stories from God when we were fasting back in January 2019. Two stories from God about what we have just experienced. Salvation testimonies. And more to come.
I even love the fact we fasted together, he gave the words then ... But they have come to life now. I suppose that's the way God works ... It's also perhaps a little nod to the fact that he honors our fasting.
Finally ... The analogy of a SUM ice cream van is such a sweet one. I guess, after all, we are his kids.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14, NIV)
Be encouraged, everyone, and have a great weekend!
My friends, today is an auspicious day: A certain someone turns fifteen. Nope, it's not one of our children, it's this ministry. Fifteen years ago today this blog had its humble beginnings with its very first post!
Books emerged. A YouTube channel. Friendships. Testimonies. We've seen salvations of spouses, restorations of marriages, and personal growth. Amazing miracles have happened here in this 'church without walls'. God has been good to us.
I thank him. And I thank Lynn for beginning it and all she has given.
So, for the next two weeks we’re going to reminisce. Our writing team (current and past!) are going to hop on to share, and we'd love to hear some of your own stories too.
I’ve not fully shared my own behind-the-scenes story when it comes to this ministry. It makes me smile so maybe it will do the same to you.
When I found this ministry (2014), I was extremely challenged by the spiritual mismatch, as most of us are for a season. Constantly in tears, I was a seriously unlikely candidate for writing anything encouraging to anyone. But I gained strength from the blog posts and comments here, and gradually things changed.
I was also a covert reader here in that I didn’t want to be public on this site, not even in the comments. I didn't want my husband and friends to see me reading a blog on marriage help when we had a happy marriage. So those videos you see of me on YouTube or Facebook?! How on earth we got there only God knows!
The thing is, God works with the unlikely situations, so here's what happened next:
God began to lay this ministry thickly on my heart. I would have dreams about the ministry, visions even, and I really felt a love for this community of beautiful people. Then loads of ideas began landing in my head for things I could write on the blog. In fact, I began to want to write. But how could I? I was Miss Covert.
Well, when God decides we’re going to do something, it happens. Just as I was having these thoughts about writing, I got a message from Lynn: “Hey girl, would you like to write for the blog?”
My response was this: “It would take a miracle for me to even tell Bryce about the ministry, let alone have him say yes to that.”
Our SUM was a topic of huge sensitivity. We were happily married, and to show Bryce a website called ‘Spiritually Unequal Marriage’ would have offended him (I thought). What’s more, to write about our personal lives on the internet was way over the line.
The thing is, this tricky area needs to be written about so that others know they are not alone. And it seemed that I was being asked to take one for the team ... Lol. That night, I heard God speak: “Ann, you are going to run with it. With My approval and with Bryce’s.”
Totally aggh. But it had to be done. So while in bed the next morning, I reached for my iPad and tapped hubby on the shoulder.
“Ummm … Babe … I’ve been reading this website for people like us. I’d like to write for it. Can I just show it to you, and would you mind if I wrote?”
He took the iPad from me and squinted to read.
“Spiritually Unequal Marriage!” He read out.
“Mm hm” I squeaked.
He read it some more, perused the photos of Lynn and Mike, and the other writers with their spouses. Then handed me back the iPad. “Why would I mind?” He said. "Sure."
The rest is history. Along the way, God injected some strength into me as I journeyed in my own SUM, and in 2018, he told me I would be “Leading worship” here. That gave me an inkling of what was to come before I stepped forward last year.
Leading worship: How I love those words, for that is really what this ministry is about. We, the SUMites, worship Jesus through daily choices. And this blog helps us all do that.
Fifteen years -- What an adventure. Thank you, Lord, and thank you also, my family of SUMites, for all the times you have shared your hearts.
Lynn will be sharing on Monday. I imagine she is looking back at those fifteen years with wonder! But for now, your turn: When did you find this ministry, and how has it changed things for you?
As a mum of two teen boys, I have to say that parenting is the biggest thing I bring to the Lord. Dare I confess that it really can send me over the edge when I think too long and hard about my precious boys and how precarious it feels to let them detach from my apron strings and fly free. Anyone else out there feel this way? These days my prayers have ramped up for that very reason and, in particular, it's their faith life that occupies me.
Yet, just like with my husband, I find I can't just make this thing happen on my own strength. And it takes a good deal of thought.
I know that many of you feel the same, and it's a big part of our SUM journey trying to figure out how to raise our children effectively in faith.
Well, today I want to share a prayer that one of our SUMites, Vidya Rodney, has written for us. She too is a mum and I always love the thoughtful prayers she contributes. This one is a great one for us this Friday.
Blessings Over Our Children
My child is the head and not the tail. My child is above and not beneath.
I bless my child with favor, good understanding and high esteem in the sight of God and others, in Jesus' name.
I bless my child with wisdom and understanding in all study and endeavors, in Jesus' name.
I bless my child to be filled with the knowledge of the Father's will, bearing fruits in every good work, in Jesus' name.
I bless my child to prosper at everything he/she touches, in Jesus' name.
I bless my child with divine protection, to be rooted and grounded in love, in Jesus' name.
I place the whole armor of God on my child, in Jesus' name.
I charge the Angels with flaming swords and flaming wings to stand guard at my child's sides to defend, protect and preserve them, in Jesus' name.
I bless my child to be a man/woman/boy/girl of integrity in everything they do, in Jesus' name, Amen
I bless my child to be established in perfect love which casts out all fears, in Jesus' name.
Amen and Amen
I am Vidya Rodney. Married to my pre-believing husband Andrew for 10 years. We have a beautiful 5 year old little girl Anya. I live in St Charles, Missouri, and first accepted Jesus in 2011 after losing our only brother to suicide. I have been a lukewarm Christian for years, but now I am stepping out to find out more of what Jesus has for me.
Last week I had a ‘moment’ in my SUM life, as we do, that turned into a good wisdom lesson for me, so I'm going to share it today. It was about God's protection.
I was reclining in my favorite armchair before bed one night, cocoa in hand, when something occurred to me and my face fell.
It was this: Recently I’ve developed a routine where, once dinner is in the oven at about 5 or 6pm, I go to my bedroom and pray for my family. That includes Bryce, and I’ve been praying various things for him with gusto. I like that new routine, it's a happy one; but on this day a thought struck:
“I would love it if it was the other way round. I'd love it if he prayed for me.”
Aggh, and that thought snowballed. I got thinking about the fact that a praying spouse would be a strong source of protection and I'm perhaps missing some kind of 'protective coat'. Or am I?
To be fair, my family has plenty of people praying for us. And actually, it's possible my husband prays more than I realize. His levels of belief have inched up lately, and I do believe there is a quiet blooming that I shouldn't be quick to disregard. But that evening I got tangled. I eventually went to bed, and the next morning the Lord seemed to want to correct my thinking. He said this to me:
Ann, go to the Bible and look at what coatings of protection you currently have.
I love it when God gives me something to explore, so the minute the boys left for school I made myself an enormous pot of coffee and rolled up my sleeves, ready to take a look at what it was he wanted me to see.
My pen scribbled furiously that morning. I came up with quite a few forms of protection that I have, but here - listed below - are four of the key ones. And these apply to all of us SUMites. In fact, once I had finished working through that task I quickly realized that I had no need to fret whatsover. And I should leave my husband to go at his own pace when it comes to his own prayer life. Here, then, are some of the ways in which we are protected:
Layer of protection #1:
The shadow of Almighty God is so powerful we may as well be sitting under a nuclear bomb. If we make every effort to stay in that secret place, there's this:
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day.” (Psalm 91:1, 3, NKJV)
Layer of protection #2:
The blood of Jesus Christ is our source of victory. I imagine it sprinkled on our homes like the Israelites smeared lamb's blood on their doorposts.
"They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" (Revelation 12:11, NKJV)
Layer of protection #3:
Head to toe, we wear special spiritual armour at all times. This includes a helmet, a breastplate, a shield, a tool belt, and strong shoes (Ephesians 6). This keeps us safe and sound, and then we easily fight for our families.
Layer of protection #4:
The many prayers of other saints, past and present, is a force-field. This includes those who sowed seeds in times past, some in our ancestry, some who are now in the cloud of witnesses, and some who are currently shepherds to us -- And those shepherds who are in our lives know their authority and pray powerful prayers. All these prayers protect us and our homes from the enemy and plant faith seeds that will surely grow.
With these coatings of protection, then, we never need to worry about being victorious in our own lives. In turn, as fighters we are equipped to care for our families. And, of course, a big protective mechanism is this community, and its many prayers for each other.
Friends, in that spirit, if you'd like prayer today, put a post in the comments, and we'll gather round you. In the meantime, here's to fewer and fewer of those wobbly 'moments'!
Today I want to share something that God showed me about the homes within this community: the Spiritually Unequal Marriage community. These homes are deeply special to Him, and although they are unconventional in Christian terms, what He showed me is that they 'sit under an open heaven'.
That's a great promise; I'll take it! But what does that mean?
To give you some background, most of you will know that my boys are teens and I have struggled to bring faith to them. Not all of us struggle with that, but some do. For those of us who do, it can feel overwhelming. Overwhelming, that is, until we have one of those moments where we stop and say "Nope, God's got this!"
A couple of days ago, against this backdrop of yet again wondering about my boys' faith, God showed me a picture that illustrated my home. It was pretty cool, and it cheered me along so much that I share it now with a smile.
What I saw was a nest, and inside sat two baby birds. “Those are your two boys,” I felt God say. These two babies had their mouths wide open, waiting to be filled.
The nest didn’t look a plain brown nest. Instead it had heavenly sparkles around it, within it, and above it. I sensed these sparkles were diamonds.
Then, in contrast, I saw a different house. That house was an actual house. It had a roof, thick walls, but its walls were also made of diamonds. I sensed my house was the nest; the other house was another kind of believer’s house. This other kind was one where there was a roof, where both parents were actively bringing their children up in faith, providing safe cover together (illustrated by the roof and walls). I actually sensed God was saying that my home will look like that eventually but, for now, it's the nest version.
Each house had its own strengths; neither was better than the other. They were both beautiful. In fact, both were adorned with Heavenly jewels (the diamonds). However, they looked totally different to each other, so to compare them would be like comparing apples and oranges.
Back to the nest -- The SUM home. This kind of home can seem roof-less, lacking protection. It might appear far too exposed to the elements. For example, media might come into our home that we hope wouldn’t, or other influences. The diamond-walled house in the other scenario with its thick roof and walls appears safer to the eye. But the truth is, our own homes have safety too: It takes the form of an open heaven above us; and a God who takes care of His wee birds (Matthew 6:26).
An open heaven was what the prophet Isaiah cried out for in desperation:
“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!” Isaiah 64:1 (NIV)
Friends, I love that image of God rending the heavens open above us and bringing His presence. Like Isaiah, we can say to God, "Oh please, rend the heavens, come down into my home, and let all the mountains I’m facing tremble before you!"
In our open nest, while we gaze at the stars, our beautiful babies (children, teenagers, adult children) sit under that open heaven with a protective parent -- God -- hovering above them. The fact we’ve built our house with such care on the rock of Jesus Christ looks something like the carefully crafted nest they now sit in. It means they have a great foundation as well as an exciting Heavenly life directly above. The Spirit of God hovers and broods, like a protective bird of prey.
Finally, in this nest picture it's worth noticing that the baby birds’ mouths were wide open. This tells me that our children – The children of this SUM Nation – will surely open their mouths and receive God’s food. Perhaps it will be God who feeds them directly, more than us parents.
So with this beautiful picture, I rest. And I hope this post helps you along in that sense of rest too. As I said earlier, God's got this.
How are those of you who are parents finding it, bringing your children up in faith? If you'd like prayer for this, post a comment and our community will pray for you.
Image Courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography and Free Digital Photos.net
Hi, Ian here from sunny Sydney. Wow, who could have imagined when I wrote about supernatural happenings and wilderness experiences in my last post that a few weeks later almost the entire would be thrust into wilderness.
It’s scary with how fast things have moved. Our lives have been turned upside down haven’t they, normal routines (as Ann reflected yesterday) for entire households have been dramatically changed, there’s no short term certainty about many of the physical things of life: jobs, incomes, schooling, church attendance, exercise regimes and of course the health of our families, particularly those of us who are in the ‘more vulnerable bracket.’
God is Unchanging
But God. He is the one certainty we have, and I also believe it is certain that this wilderness experience will end, however, none of us can be very sure either, when it will end, and what the next season will look like for each of us.
God is good. All the time. All the time, God is good.
What we Focus on is Important
Lynn in her weekend post shared of the bombardment of bad news. My morning routine usually involves me reading the paper before heading off to the gym. But I found I was carrying this understated anxiety and tension as a result of allowing myself to receive the bad news. The Holy Spirit nudged me one day as I trudged off to the gym and told me to stop reading the news. Now it’s been a habit since I was about eight years old (I used to sit with Dad reading the paper together eating breakfast), however, the next morning, I went straight to a meditation app as I sat down over my morning coffee. I’ve enjoyed the freedom of receiving good news first thing in the morning while setting my eyes on the Lord as soon as possible in the morning.
We’re probably all familiar with the following verses in Hebrews:
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)
How do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus when everyone is home ALL THE TIME and trying to get some alone time is near impossible. I know there are many couples (put aside the kids for the moment) are just not used to spending so much time together and these couples have to work our new habits for both their relationship and each other.
May I encourage you to talk often about each other’s needs and how the other can help out. For example, for most of our 25 years together I’ve known it’s important for my wife that we spend time together in the evening. It’s not so much about doing the same thing but simply being present and enjoying each other’s company and presence. And so that’s we’ve done.
I suspect for many husbands this is a very unsettling time as we’re used to heading off to work, having a clear plan for the day and being away from the home. Similarly, for the girls, it’s strange having hubby around 24x7. And then there are the kids. Can’t take them anywhere, can’t have friends over and so on. There are only so many jigsaws you can do, right?
It's hard and unsettling.
But God knows this. He loves us so deeply and understands all that’s going on inside and outside us. He knows our needs and so staying close to Him is really good for us in this season.
Ann wrote about abiding and I want to share a little about how one can do this.
1. Start in the morning. If you are able.
I’m a morning person and it’s easier for me to do this because of the season I’m in. Getting the house up and running is a very normal daily activity for moms. A particularly important one. But may I encourage you though to consider tuning your soul in the morning. Why do you think Jesus went off to meet with the Father every morning?
Our souls get out of whack overnight. I’m continually amazed how I can be on fire for the Lord when I put my head on the pillow, only to wake in the morning like He’s a complete stranger. And that’s why our soul’s need tuning. Think of it like a piano or guitar; before we play them we tune them. It doesn’t have to take long. It can just be a few minutes of prayer, inviting God into our day and checking in on our heart, asking ourself how we’re feeling and giving those feelings, good or not so good over to God. Even ask Him, why am I feeling like this Lord? And listen for an answer. It may not be immediate but sometime during the day you’ll probably discover why.
2. Repeat this process during the day.
As often as you are able. You might even give yourself a reminder using your phone.
What’s important is connecting how your feeling in your heart with God. He knows, He cares, He wants to help us. If you’re reading say Psalm 23: v1 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” And you’re feeling tremendous lack of something: peace, hope, money, etc tell God that (He won’t be offended) and repeat the verse in your own words, “You tell me you’re my shepherd, Lord, I really need a shepherd now, help me see you as my shepherd today, taking care of my needs.” Gradually, God’s Word comes alive in our hearts as we discover that He is indeed a good good shepherd.
3. Ever so slowly it will become a habit.
A habit you’ll look forward to even when you’re at your crappiest because you’ve discovered how much God loves to be the one who tunes our hearts and souls.
It would be great for us to encourage each other with what we do to fix our eyes on Jesus in these strange and unsettling times.
Be blessed and keep fixing our eyes on the Lord. He’s a good, good Father.
Several weeks ago, I found what I’ll call a “Dream List” tucked inside my Bible. It was written on September 14, 2015. I wrote out this list in the early dawn of Rosh Hashana that year. I apparently decided to scribble down my future hopes, prayers, and aspirations that I longed to accomplish with the Lord.
I’m sharing this experience with you for two reasons.
God hears our prayers. However, we forget that He responds because our current concerns block the memory of all He has done and provided for us. This is a good day to remember His provision and goodness.
We are all blessed. God doesn’t only dream with me, but also with you.
This is my dream list: (And the answers)
I began to read down the list…. To my utter shock, many, I MEAN MANY of the dreams I’d scrawled out in long hand, had already come to pass. In four short years.
To love you with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength – ANSWERED
To walk in increasing power and authority over the demonic and sickness – ANSWERED
Provision for college for Caitie -ANSWERED (Full scholarship and they paid her to teach. Say what?
More Prayer opportunities – ANSWERED. I pray with many of you from all around the world. and recently I was promoted to Director of Freedom prayer at my local church.
A House of Prayer in the Valley – ANSWERED. I’ve watched the prayer ministry grow into exactly this! WOW! Before my very eyes!
Mike’s salvation -ANSWERED. I’m still wrapping my mind around this reality. I’m wordless to express how stunned I remain even today, at all that God did to bring this into reality. Wait until you read the book, I share the detail in there.
Loose 30 pounds. Ahem, well…. I’m still working on this one *GRIN*
I humbly ask and submit these words of my heart to You, Papa. May you show kindness and favor upon them. Your daughter, Lynn
My list is way too long to share more. I like to dream……There are dreams on that list that remain to be fulfilled but so many more have already come to pass. I’m nearly in tears as I write with such deep gratitude and humility to know our Father loves me with such depth and care that he fulfills the dreams of an ordinary blonde lady.
So, as we approach Yom Kippur, a very hold day unto the Lord, sit with the Father and dream. Write out your dream list and put it away to find it again in a number of years. You will be overwhelmed by the love and faithfulness of our good God.
He loves you that much also. Start to believe it!
Share three items on your dream list with me in the comments. Let me pray over them with you. I adore you.
Dream bigger than you dare because our God is so much bigger than we allow.
Hello, dear SUMite friends. Ian from sunny Sydney here. I returned this morning from a whirlwind trip to San Antonio to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) annual conference. This is now my fourth conference and the reason I keep returning is that each time I go I experience a significant God-moment, writing and non-writing.
My first experience of this was at the 2012 event where I met our dear friend Dineen Miller who introduced me to SUM. I’ve written about our meeting a few times but in a nutshell prior to this conference I doubted I could ever have a ministry role outside my small little world as a result of being a SUM. Dineen both at the conference and, later through her contribution to SUM, clearly demonstrated otherwise and it dawned on me that I’d allowed myself to be deceived by the enemy.
I had felt the Lord’s nudge to attend this year’s event. It surprised me because it’s a fiction event and my energies this year have been focused around a non-fiction project. Surely, there was a disconnect. But the nudges kept on coming.
But there were some clear obstacles, the biggest being a financial one. We simply didn’t have the money for flights, conference and hotel accommodation. I kept saying to God, well, if you want me to go then you’ll need to clear this obstacle.
Six weeks before the event, mid-August, I received a completely unexpected financial gift from my parents. They were unaware of my desire to attend the conference. I was amazed. The Lord said to me, ‘well, that’s no longer an obstacle’.
I left chatting to Fiona about it for a week or so until she asked me what I’d like to do with the gift. And so I told her. She was kind enough to let me attend and when booking flights I was able to use frequent flyer points to get me across the Pacific meaning I didn't have to spend as much as first thought.
I’m continually amazed at God’s goodness.
I boarded my flight last Wednesday still unsure of why I was attending. I had set up some meetings but there was no guarantee they would provide anything of any great value. However, my heart was expectant both because of my three previous experiences but also because of how God had made it possible for me to attend.
It didn’t take long for things to start bubbling. The first worship session included the mention of a verse from Revelation that had been important to me during the first half of the year. Aha … is this it, Lord?
Even though I was able to share the significance of this verse to the two people who mentioned it and had a lovely moment with both, it soon became apparent it was simply a minor precursor to what the Lord had in store.
The second day proceeded uneventfully until an afternoon appointment I had set up week’s prior. It was with a man whose counsel I admire and on discussing my non-fiction project with him, it wasn’t long before I realised this was the ‘gotcha moment’ and the reason for my attendance. The feedback wasn’t exactly what I would have liked to receive but it was exactly what I needed to hear. Two subsequent meetings with agents confirmed the same.
I felt pretty flat and a little discouraged by the time night came about. I thought my project was headed in the right direction but it was clear it wasn’t.
Worship clears the cobwebs of discouragement
The conference always has a late night worship session where writers can sit and write as they listen to worship. I didn’t want to write. I wanted to worship. I needed to because it’s something that always lifts my spirits. And the worship band at ACFW is one of the best I’ve sat under.
The enemy hates worship. I reckon it’s like a persistent jackhammer banging away at their heads. They have to flee – remember Paul and Silas in the jail set to be executed the next day? What did they do? They “were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25) What happened next? An earthquake happened, cell doors opened, chains fell off, freeing the two heroes.
Ephesians 5:18-19 is even more clear: “Be filled with the Holy Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to the Lord with all your heart.” The Holy Spirit is the one who changes the atmosphere and being filled with the Spirit through singing and praying weakens the enemy’s power.
The discouragement I had soon lifted even though I was unsure of the next steps in my project. I woke the next morning feeling refreshed and energized. The morning’s worship was tremendous even more so as the Lord’s presence was thick as He touched a number of people in a very gentle healing way.
The Dance of Dependence
God never lays out the blueprint of the future, does He? It’s always one step at a time so we continue to trust in Him to lead us. We have to depend on Him. I was reminded of how a dad dances with a young daughter. She places her feet on his and as He steps, her feet automatically follow. It’s a wonderful picture for how we can follow His lead don’t you think?
When was a recent time you followed one of the Lord’s nudges out of obedience even though you were unsure of what was to occur? Be great for us to encourage each other in the comments below.
This is a short but powerful video teaching about the cycles of faith. How we join God in what He is doing and to stop fighting against Him. It's also about our current season.
In fact, Rosh Hashanah begins today at sundown. I recommend to push into the Lord in prayer and ask Him to reveal what He is doing in your life in this season and the assignments that being given after Yom Kippur. Hugs, Lynn
Sunday, September 29th is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. We've talked about this Jewish holiday over the years. In fact, the first time I'd ever been made aware of it's significance was because of a blog post from either Lynn or Dineen. For those who are not familiar or are new to this holiday, a simple "Rosh Hashanah" search on this site will provide you with a wealth of information. Feel free to check out the archives!
My prayer for us today is that we will each take away something fresh and new. Holy Spirit, reveal to us the heartbeat of God. Amen!
Rosh Hashanah isn't actually a biblical holiday but a traditional Jewish holiday. The term "Rosh Hashanah" means "head of the year" and is celebrated as the Jewish New Year. This is a two-day celebration that proceeds Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
In the beginning of this month, the Lord really pressed upon me to watch Patty Tower's talk that was given at the SUMite Summit this last April. I decided to go back and watch it again. (I will provide a link below so you can revisit that as well. It is absolutely worth a re-watch!)
As I sat down to think about Rosh Hashanah and what I would include in this post, I went back to my notes from Patty's message. There is so much good in this message but I want to point out one theme:
Joshua 6 - God gives specific instructions about the destruction and taking of the city of Jericho. In verse 20 we see the result of following God's plan and not their own: "So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city."
Patty called us to march around our house 7 times and shout, declare, pray and praise things into existence. It was in the great shout that the walls fell flat down.
Rosh Hashanah isn't in the Bible; however, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, is. Let's take a look.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ ” - Leviticus 23:23-25
The Hebrew word, Teruah, in Leviticus for blowing trumpets is the same word used in Joshua 6 where they shouted with a great shout. The first day of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, is a day of blowing trumpets or shouting.
Notice what else it says in Leviticus about this day - you shall have a sabbath-rest. Yom Teruah happens to fall on a Sunday. The day we, as children of God, call our sabbath!
So, why is this important for us? If we are not Jewish, what is the point of celebrating this time of year?
We've already seen in our community some amazing things worth celebrating. Many professions of faith and baptisms with our spouses, children or others we love. Libby gave us a beautiful word about the SUMite community with her picture of the mountain. The SUMite Summit where some gathered in California being at the top and from that trickle, the waters of our faith continued to pool together to create a river at the bottom.
I truly believe something was activated in the heavenlies and we have set off a chain reaction. The enemy has been stirred to anger and we have seen much push back from illness, discord with our spouses and children, financial struggles, backsliding, strongholds etc.
However, I truly believe that God is calling His children deeper. I believe that He is stirring in us a hunger and thirst that can no longer be quenched by fear, pain or opposition tactics from the enemy. I believe that NOW is the time for us to press in all the more into the God of Miracles. NOW is the time to storm the gates of Heaven for our spouses, children, our complete freedom and healing. I believe that NOW is the time for us to suit up and prepare for battle.
There is a shifting going on right now. As we are in this transition period, it is up to US if we are going to take God at His word - for our destinies, purposes, signs, miracles and wonders. We cannot afford to give up or give in. The future of generations to come hangs in the balance. It sounds intense but don't worry! Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
There is so much more I could say but I've gone on a little long.
As we approach this Jewish New Year, what are the things you are coming to the Throne of Grace for? What do you hope to see in this new season?
Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! -- Psalm 47:1 (Shout here is the root word of teruah ::grin::)
We are going to shake the heavens and the earth with our shouts! In the comments, give a mighty shout to the Lord. Thank Him for the victory you've been praying and waiting for! Decree and declare that these prayers are answered in Jesus' mighty name! Now it is up to you to take Him at His word. Trust. Believe. Wait and see. God is so good. And He is worthy of the wait. Hugs!
Lynn here. I’m coming to you from my prayer room on a beautiful and somewhat unusually cool July morning here in southern California. It’s peaceful and a breeze is drifting in the front window. Oh, how I wish you were sitting here with me. I long to sit with each of you and listen to your story. I will one day. And it will be GLORY!
I just clicked off the phone after talking to my mother who called to check in on the job search, the book progress but mainly to tell me, I love you.
But as we talked about the book she said, “Lynn, I’ve shared that story with nearly everyone I meet. I tell it over and over.” She’s talking about Mike’s baptism story. “I tell them to NEVER give up praying.”
Never give up praying.
Don’t stop hoping.
Always lean into the impossible.
Twenty-seven years. I won’t look back at the years with longing for what might have been. I look back at the decades and see Jesus in every turn along the journey. I view the Father’s hand of favor and love and I feel the peace of the Holy Spirit as the Trinity lived within.
It was worth the price of waiting.
To all the weary SUMites, who linger in prayer and continue loving Jesus and your unsaved spouse, words from my beloved mother who has lived with the Lord for nearly eighty years, “Don’t give up hope. Don’t stop praying.”
I adore you my friends. Stay tuned because God is brewing up more fantastical stories in the Donovan Clan. I feel the excitement in the air and can’t wait to share all He brings about in our immediate future.
I don't know about you but I have really been yearning for breakthrough! It gets me fired up thinking about the breakthrough needed in my life as well as others. I am really struggling to completely detach from my old self. I am not saying that I am not growing, maturing or bearing fruit. Please hear my heart. I am talking about the hard reality that the more I press into God, the more I realize I am in rough shape and need Jesus. Can anybody relate?
I recently came across this scripture that has been really stirring in my heart:
So David went to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “The Lord did it!” David exclaimed. “He burst through my enemies like a raging flood!” So he named that place Baal-perazim (which means “the Lord who bursts through”). -- 2 Samuel 5:20
Some context: David is now king. He captures Jerusalem from the Jebusites and makes it his home. The Philistines find out this news and come to capture him. David goes into a stronghold and the Philistines spread out across the valley of Rephaim. It is really interesting to note that the valley of Rephaim means "the house of the giants."
David could have been afraid. Sure, he had a run in with them before (remember Goliath, their once great warrior?); however, this time they were after him!
I love the conversation that happens just one verse before:
So David asked the Lord, “Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord replied to David, “Yes, go ahead. I will certainly hand them over to you.” (5:19)
Isn't there something so "magical" about the promises of God being fulfilled in front of your eyes? The New Living Translation sums up the child-like faith that I believe that David had - the Lord did it!
There are some things that I have been praying into for some time now - outside of salvation and surrender for Jason - full and forever breakthrough from the spirits of poverty and self-preservation in my life. There are many layers that have been broken but I still have a ways to go. It's been tough, especially with me as the toughest critic. These giants have taken camp in the valley of my heart and mind.
The Lord keeps impressing on my mind the idea of breakthrough and I praise Him for this recent revelation in this passage of scripture! Tiffany, I am your Daddy but I am also Jehovah Perazim. I am Your God who breaks through. Do you trust me? Do you believe it? Will you stand in faith - even when you can't see what is on the horizon?
I want to close with the song I heard for the first time today. It is so raw and honest. I can relate so well and I'm sure you can too.
If I’m honest, I don’t know what to do With this battle that I’m going through And how to trust you.
Every part of me, wants to figure out my own plan Wants to take things in my own two hands God help me to understand
You are enough, You are enough for me, for me Take my doubts, drown them in the sea Cause you’re more than enough for me
Every part of me, wants to figure out my own plan Wants to take things in my own two hands God help me to understand
Even if I lost everything, you would still be enough for me. Even if I lost everything, oh Even if I lost everything, you would still be enough for me. Even if I lost everything, oh
Can you feel the breakthrough coming or has your hope been lost? Admittedly sometimes I am teetering on the fence between the two. Sometimes life is tough. But GOD! He is so so good.
Jehovah Perazim, You are our God who breaks through. You come forth against our enemies like a raging flood. There is nothing that can thwart the plans You have for us. When we are weary may we always remember that You go before us. You give us victory. When we are weary like Moses, bring others to surround us and hold us up. We can't do this alone. Thank You for this amazing community. We can all relate to the true struggle not against flesh and blood but against the forces of darkness. Thank You for always saying to us, like David, "I will certainly hand them over to you." We love you and praise you for the great big shout - You did it! We trust you. You are enough. In Jesus' name, amen.
See you in the comments! How can I intercede for you today?
To write the title of this post, brings tears. I've waited since I began this blog in 2006 to write this very post.
So with intentional honor to our Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit, today let me share my news, officially. Please hear me first, THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME. This moment was a lifetime of love of God for my husband. And I’m trying to remain low-key about it all. I’m allowing my husband to walk into this new season and let him take his time and find his own way forward in faith. And I’m still really processing.
But for me, my I give all honor and glory to our Lord. He has been faithful.
On March 14, 2019, on our 27th wedding anniversary, my husband, Mike, was baptized and made his confession of faith in Jesus Christ.
In the last seven years I have learned how to battle effectively for this moment. And I am working on how and when to share it all with you. There is much to learn, however, you can walk this path also. But for today, allow me to fully focus on giving high praise to our Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.
I love you Father. Jesus you are my everything. Holy Spirit I’m lost in your love. AMEN
I’m at another conference so I won’t be posting again until Good Friday. Thank you for walking this journey with me. I couldn't have done it with out all of you!
Jesus 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?
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
So, 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.
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!
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.
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
This past week the Lord surprised me. He began to show me how many promises, hopes, and dreams have been delayed. He began to speak to me about delay.
I asked the Lord about delay and He said to me that many in the SUM community are in this place along with me. During my prayer time, our Father's spoke to me about this current season. I know someone is out there who needs this word. Blessings and love, Lynn
Delay Must Depart
Beloved child, you have tarried in the waiting. Quietly trusting, believing for the promises and answers to your petitions and prayers. When met by delay, you’ve remained steadfast, never wavering from the truths I have proclaimed.
I’ve turned My ear toward you when you arrived before the Mercy Seat, beseeching the answers to your confusion and fears, longing for understanding of the deferrals. In your pain, as you walked the steady path of obedience without reward, grand preparations were underway, tutoring your soul for the greatest treasure. Unbeknownst, you gained profound wisdom of heaven and a deepening knowledge of My Presence.
Verily I say unto you, age after age, a number of My children purpose to seek out this rare gift, Wisdom of the Divine. But in their haste, they seek their own ends and thusly have forfeited this Pearl of Great Price. Forerunners surrendered their promises under the daunting pressures of delay, even as the answer is poised ready, upon the threshold of their heart.
Oh, but alas, my child, you have lingered. Your convictions and faith never wavered. You did not doubt nor relent in your patient petitions. You sought My Presence above all else. Learning My language. Pursing My holy fire. Dancing in worship. Singing praise. Surrendering all. Your obedience has unlocked the door. Wisdom and the knowledge of God, rushes in.
The long season of delay is closing. The blockage is yours to remove. Ask Wisdom the questions to open the gates for you surely, you possess the keys to glory. Invite the knowledge of the Divine to guide your steps. Speak to delay – “DEPART! The will of My Father is my will.”
Now My child, go forth! The season before you will accelerate. Prepare to move quickly. Pray without ceasing. Now behold as the promises come forth, day upon day, freedom upon freedom, healing, health, deliverance, peace, love, joy and salvations. You are a child of the Divine. Your time in the waiting has granted unto you, dominion.
I am in you. You are in Me.
Decree this day the delays are broken, engage the angelic. Then stand and behold as the darkness cracks, light breaks upon the horizon. The change you seek will come rushing in as a flood.
Delay is swallowed up in victory and shall be no more. Hallelujah!
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. — Habakkuk 2:3
*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!
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?
3 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: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 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. 6 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:
9 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?
Some SUM moments are so tough they’re funny when you look back, and I couldn’t resist sharing one with you. It was the time a well-meant speaker at church said these words from the pulpit:
“Every year my wife and I sit down and decide how much to give to church.”
I'm afraid that did it for me. I crumpled into a self-pitying heap in the back of church. See, I’d been attending for months, and gave nothing. Not a dollar. I hadn’t felt able to ask it of my husband.
It was painful, I guess, because my heart badly wanted to give. I knew the pastor needed to at least eat. I knew God wants us to financially support the one who sacrifices their life for that work, so that they can survive (Gal 6:6).
Eventually, I asked, saying to my husband, “Look, I at least need to cover the cost of the teabags I’m consuming.” Point taken. “How much are you thinking?” he said. I put forward an amount the size of the widow’s coin (Mark 12:42). “That’s substantial,” he said. Any money going to a church was a sacrifice on his part.
Both of us made a sacrifice that day out of love. We agreed on that small amount.
This was step one in my giving. But months passed and a new conviction came. I wanted to support some of the other ministries that have helped me: They too need money to function. But how could I?
I went for months feeling convicted and frustrated until, one day, I seemed to hear God whisper: “How about you give me $5, Ann?” I had a sense this had something to do with coffee.
It took a while to get it, but eventually an a-ha moment came. It seemed God was saying this:
“Why don’t you go without a latte and give that amount to a ministry?”
What a great idea! My daily latte was a highlight. I could still get a coffee in the kitchen at work; but the bought latte was the ‘fat’, like Abel’s best sheep in Genesis 4:4. "Ok, God," I said. “It’s a deal!”
Once again I approached my husband. “Um, you know I like lattes. I’d like to do without those and donate the $5 to some ministries that have helped me.” Graciously, he agreed. So it began. He would see the occasional bank item for “xyz ministries,” sometimes he’d ask me, and I’d say “coffee money.”
It was always nerve-wracking, but one night I couldn’t believe it when he thanked me. Thanked me!? He said, “I really appreciate how you’ve thought about my feelings. Thank you.” My heart soared. I felt like God had given me a strategy to give my best: not just to Him, but also to my husband. As we often say here, honoring our spouse is honoring God.
That was a while ago now, and I’ve moved past the coffee method to other ways of giving. But lately I’ve felt God show me something about that situation that brought new perspective. It came in the form of a vision. In this vision, all I saw was a little coffee scoop and that scoop was filled with oil, pouring over.
I wonder if you’ll see the meaning of this picture quicker than I did, but I didn’t get it (that’s always a sign to me that I couldn’t have made it up!) It took me a few days, and then I went “Ohhhh, Wow!” It’s a visual of this:
“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 (NKJV).
I struggle to convey everything this means to me, but oil, in scripture, symbolizes the Holy Spirit, His anointing, His light, His glory, His crowning. SUMites, for some of us our giving feels as small as the widow’s penny in Mark 12:42. Yet, God knows exactly what it cost us. His eyes fall on us in return. Pressed down. Overflowing. A latte looks small but, to me, it wasn't; And I now know what follows.
I’d love to hear your adventures with giving. What kinds of things have you learned, or how are you finding it?
I hesitated in writing this post. If you live unequally yoked, I think you will understand my perspective. If you aren’t, consider what I have to say.
Several days ago, I received a phone call from a woman who lives in Wisconsin ( I live in California). She had heard about our book and took time to call me. She shared that she has lived with her unbelieving spouse now for 33 years. Wow, thirty-three years. She loves him and in the past, fought many spiritual battles and persevered with Christ. She went on to tell me that her strength to walk this road came from a scripture verse she heard as a young woman.
Proverbs 16:7 When a man’s (woman’s) ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him (her).
She told me that she believed this and this verse has proven true throughout her life. “Think about it Lynn. My husband doesn’t believe in God. He is an enemy of God.”
I reply, “Wow, I hadn’t really thought of it that way.”
She responds, “He is an enemy of God out of ignorance. But I have lived my life the best that I can to be a woman, pleasing to God. And just as His word proves, God has brought peace even within my marriage where my spouse remains an unbeliever. It has been God’s promise to me all these years and I believe Him.”
I thanked her for imparting this scripture verse to me and the promise it holds for all of us living unequally yoked.
Now I don’t believe my spouse is my enemy because I KNOW who the enemy really is. But, I also see how, as we wait for our unsaved spouse to discover the truths of Christ, we can trust God to bring peace into our lives, homes, and marriages. We need only take delight in the Lord and live for Him.
Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
I received a call that I wasn’t expecting. From my sister. It was Saturday night, two weeks ago. She was relaying some information she’d received about our brother, John.
He had been admitted into hospital that afternoon, had an MRI that found he had a ‘mass’ in his head. Oh dear. Not at all what we wanted to hear.
And so the waiting began.
Over the next week John had a bunch of tests and scans. Lots of waiting for things to happen – John dubbed it “hospital time”. All confirmed there was only the one mass. Everything else was normal except that movement in both his right arm and right leg were slightly impaired. The mass was pressing on his brain impacting a signal to those limbs.
Finally, a biopsy was to be taken. But this was no simple biopsy as they had to get into his head. And therefore, there were risks involved. Because the mass was in an area of ‘high value real estate’ we were told.
The procedure went well and there were no complications. Praise God.
And then we waited. For the results.
Three days later a simple text message arrived. From John. “Diagnosed with B Cell lymphoma. Chemo starts Monday. Sorry for the curt message.”
My heart sunk.1
A Season to Wait
Advent commenced last Sunday (2 December). Advent is a time of waiting. The name Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Beginning each year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, Advent commemorates the birth of Jesus and also anticipates His return. As Ann Voskamp says we are “perpetual Advent people” waiting on Christ’s return. I’d add that we are also waiting on Jesus to do work in our heart regarding life’s circumstances.
We SUMites are used to waiting, aren’t we?
He doesn’t always immediately respond to our heart cry – “God help us!” So we wait. “He teaches us to stay in the waiting.” (Ruth Haley Barton) We sit with our longings: for good biopsy results, for our pre-believing spouses, and so on.
It’s important for us to not run away from our longings, to spend time with the Lord expressing our worries and fears. We see throughout the Scriptures, particularly in the OT and the Psalms how many times people cry out to God, whether it’s Rachel in her desire for children (Genesis 30) or David in his lament (for example, Psalm 6).
Light and Darkness
When we wait we often linger in darkness. The future is uncertain and dark. We don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know what the diagnosis will be or if our spouses will choose Jesus. We typically associate negative connotations with the darkness, don’t we? But a lot of good things happen in the dark. Remember we were created in the darkness of the womb.
Lingering in uncertainty with our longings can also be a positive experience. Because we linger with God. Even if He feels distant we can claim the promises that He has given us in the Bible. “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)
Lighting candles is one of the symbols of Advent. It reflects Christ being the light of the world and coming through the darkness – “The true light that gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9)
During Advent we don’t just wait, we also anticipate. We anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. And we anticipate that He will come again to make all things new.
“Jesus Christ has come, and He is coming again. This is the heart of Advent.” (He Reads Truth)
The Branch Gives us Hope
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)
Advent is all about hope. In the who is coming.
We can believe in that hope. Because He did come 2,000 years ago on that Christmas morn, born in a food trough, son to a teenage mom and her husband.
We can believe in that hope. Because He has come to us. He is in us and we are in Him.
We can believe in that hope. Because He has told us He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Even when our beloved doesn’t know Him. Even when the diagnosis isn’t good.
Often when we’re in a season of wilderness or a battle or even the 24 days of Advent our hope is in the end, the arrival, the victory. Time and time again we see in the Bible, most often the true ‘victory’ occurs during the wilderness, or struggle or suffering. This is where we discover that God wants more of us; He wants our hearts to know Him deeply and intimately. This can only come through time with Him. I've always loved the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah, John the Baptist's parents, who lived in silence for 5 months of his gestation. During this period, Zechariah discovered the wonder of an intimate Father, and on John being born, as a result of his obedience in naming his son, Zechariah's tongue is freed and he opens by praising God (Luke 1:64)
Advent is counter cultural because it calls us to slow down from our busy schedules of Christmas parties and events to spend time waiting on Jesus, and leaning into Him as we discover and share the longings of our heart.
I hope you are able to spend some time in the next few weeks reflecting on the hope of Advent. On Jesus. Allow His Words to “dwell in you richly.”
Wishing all of my SUMite friends a blessed Advent season full of childlike hope and anticipation.
Grace and peace,
1. Note: as a write this post, John is undergoing his first chemo treatment. We don't know what is going to happen this week, in the next weeks and months, but I have real comfort because John is in a great place with the Lord as he starts this challenging season. He wants to fall more in love with Him and discover all there is to life with Jesus. If you remember, we'd cherish any prayers you may utter for John. Thank you, my dear friends.
I pray that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love gathering with family, eating fantastic food and reflecting on all of the favor, mercy, and goodness of Daddy that has happened for the year.
As I was thinking last week about what Holy Spirit wanted me to share, I fingerprinted a man with a business logo on his sweatshirt that said "Stillwater." This prompted me to look up "still water" in the Bible. The main passage that came to mind was in Psalm 23:
1 The Lordis my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside thestill waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Reading this familiar passage again I was shocked to see verse 5, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..." I had completely forgotten that this verse was in this Psalm.
That is when Holy Spirit brought to my mind the song Surrounded (Fight My Battles) by Elyssa Smith from UPPERROOM. Forgive me if I've shared this song before. I love it so much. My favorite verses in this song say, "my weapons are praise and thanksgiving, this is how I fight my battles"
I have been seeing Psalm 23 all over the place since I first saw this man's sweatshirt. I know that of the Psalms, this one is so common and well known even in the secular world; however, this particular passage has not been on my radar for quite some time. Each and every time I am seeing a reference to Psalm 23 there is a different verse that is being highlighted. I think I need to dwell here for a while! I was inspired so much so that I committed this passage to memory. This is a first for me to memorize an entire passage. Woot!
I think with all of the apparent darkness and chaos going on in our community (illness, death, financial struggle, marriage breakdown, depression, chronic pain, etc) and in the world today I want us to meditate on this phrase, "I am beginning to see the darkness around me is just the shadow of Your wings." *Note: this is not my phrase, this gets me every time I listen to this song...SO SO GOOD.*
5 God has gone up with a shout, The Lord with the sound of a trumpet. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 7 For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding. (Psalm 47)
Please know that our Daddy is surrounding you with His love, presence, favor, mercy, and grace. I know we all know this but may we truly rejoice and sing praises with understanding! Understand your are highly favored. Understand you are loved. Understand you are cherished. Understand in your weakness He is strong. Understand that even in the toughest time of your life He is in control. Understand you are seated with Christ Jesus. Understand you have authority. Understand you are the victor. Understand it. Is. Finished!
Let us lift our voices in one accord today:
I don't know about you the Lord uses songs to get me through the darkest days. Share in the comments some songs that see you through tough times. Your suggestions could be healing salve and oil of joy to another. I love you SUM family.