102 posts categorized "Guest Post"

How to Pray Psalm 91 For Your Children's School

Vidya RodneyPraying Psalm 91 by Vidya Rodney

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Psalms 91:1-16 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/psa.91.1-16.NLT

My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, since school has reopened and we have been navigating these uncertain times with Covid 19, I decided to write my own prayer using specific verses of psalm 91.

We are faced with challenging times, but our Abba daddy is so great and merciful. Along with Yeshua (Jesus) and Holy Spirit He has also given us the power of words to declare and decree our protection for our schools, households, families, our children etc.

Some of us were in a limbo of whether we should do virtual learning or in person. So, my husband decided that he wanted our daughter to attend in person. I was very tense and nervous at the same time, but I remembered that God meets us in whatever situations we must face.

Since I live in a spiritually unequally yoked marriage, I decided I would petition my household's safety and protection with psalm 91. So, first thing in the morning, I read psalm 91 aloud and then I say my prayer I wrote. With all my prayers I stand on 1 Corinthians 7:14 - For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.

1 Corinthians 7:14 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/1co.7.14.NLT

So here's my prayer I wrote:

Dear Heavenly Father, I stand on the verse 1 Corinthians 7:14 on behalf of my household and I declare that You, Lord, are our refuge and our place of safety. You are our God and we trust in you (Psalm 91:2)

I thank you Lord that you will protect my child and my household from every trap and protect us from every deadly diseases that includes Covid-19 (Psalm 91: 3)

Lord I thank you that your feathers cover me, and my household and you hide us under the shelter of your wings. I thank you, Lord God, that your faithful promises are our armor and protection (Psalm 91:4)

Lord your word says " We must not be afraid of the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day. (Psalm 91:5)

In the name of Jesus, me and my household will not dread the disease (Covid 19) that stalks in the darkness nor the disaster that strikes at midday (Psalm 91:6)

Though a thousand may fall at our sides and 10,000 are dying around us, because of your faithfulness Lord God, this evil as will not touch me or my household [ I name each person that lives in my household and you can also add other family and friends names here) - (Psalm 91:7)

Your word also says that if I make you my refuge and shelter, no evil will conquer me and my household and no plague (no coronavirus) will come near our home (Psalm 91: 9-10).

Lord God I thank you that you order your angels with special orders to protect us wherever we go. I thank you Lord God, that right now your angels are holding me and my household up in their right hands, so we will not even dash our foot against a stone (Psalm 91: 11-12)

According to Luke 10:19 and Psalm 91:13- You have given us the authority to trample upon fierce lions, cobras and serpents under our feet in Jesus name.  Therefore, we will crush coronavirus under our feet in Jesus name. Hallelujah!!!(Psalm 91:13)

Lord I pray for supernatural wisdom and strength for each and every teacher, every school official, janitors, bus drivers, bus monitors and the school staffs. I pray for a supernatural hedge of protection over the parents and the children through the blood of Jesus. I pray for a peace that surpasses all understanding over everyone of them in Jesus name.

I pray for a holy ring of fire of protection over and around the school property and around all the other schools. I plead the blood of Jesus over the school staff and all the parents and children in Jesus name.

Lord God, I especially stand in the gap and ask for supernatural protection through the blood of Jesus over both the little children and the older kids. Give them wisdom to use their hand sanitizers and practice safety at all times in Jesus name.

Lord we thank you for all answered prayers. We give the honor, the glory and the highest praise in the mighty name of Jesus.

Amen and Hallelujah!!!

*****
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.


Learning to Love

Hello, dear Sumites. Ian from Down Under here. In this challenging year, it’s very easy to hop on the blame bandwagon and start griping about everything and anything. Life as we know it has been turned upside down and really the ‘new normal’ is still so uncertain. What will life be like in 2021, which is less than 6 months away now?

But the world has been here before. Sure, not in of our lifetimes, but in 1917-18 the Spanish flu pandemic was similarly crazy and in some places in the world, churches were shut for over a year. But they didn’t have such a thing as online church that allows us to worship at the top of our voices in our homes.

Who we are

God is love. That is His very essence. Love.

Everything God creates is out of love. And His great mission is one of love. To restore everyone to a love relationship with Him.

We’re made in His image. So that means, love is who we are. Love isn’t something we do. It’s who we are.

Accordingly, our purpose in life is simply to learn to love. Remember the two great love commands: love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. And then love others as we love our self. (Matthew 22: 37-39) That’s it.

What Do we Do

Love. It’s a verb (as well as a noun). It’s an action. In these challenging times, we have the opportunity to love. To think love, speak love and do love.

It’s hard, isn’t it. Every morning we wake up and start thinking about our day. And it’s exacerbated in this season when the world’s gone crazy, our house is full of people ALL the time because of restrictions. And whenever we turn on the TV, radio, or internet, there’s some more bad news and/or someone is blaming someone for something. The extent of intolerance of people of different color, race, religion, gender, nationality is unprecedented. And in a season of COVID where mistakes have been made, people have got sick and people have died.

Before we speak, tweet, post, message, act and think, remember who we are. Love.

Agape Love

We’re all familiar with the four different ‘loves’ in the Bible. ‘Agape’ is the one perhaps most commonly used because it was what Jesus was continually demonstrating. Fundamental to its essence is its unconditional, sacrificial, putting someone else ahead of ourselves. Loving expecting nothing in return.

Jesus is ‘agape’ love. We too can learn it because we’re made in His image.

During the month of July we studied a number of SUMite women in the Bible. I’ve been reading the book of Ruth using a wonderful study by an author friend Tessa Afshar. In chapter 1 see this incredible decision by Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law. Ruth has just lost her husband. Naomi’s second son has also recently died but his widow chooses to follow Naomi’s advice and returns to her home.

Let’s see what Ruth says:

“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17 NIV)

Now remember Ruth is a Moabite, a Gentile. But she has chosen to follow Naomi, join her people and know God. She has surrendered her roots, her beliefs, her tribe, to be with her mother-in-law. Sacrificial. Unconditional.

What about Us

I’m challenged in this season to learn to love. It’s in love, we discover who we are. If the two great love commands are our life’s purpose, then learning to love is the great journey of life.

Yes, let’s get practical.

What’s it look like? Martha and I are list people so here we go. I’ll start it and perhaps we can all share in the comments how we can be learning to love.

1. Start the day praying this prayer in Ephesians 3. Pray it over yourself and pray it for your loved ones and anyone else the Spirit puts on your heart:

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (vv17-19 NIV)

2. Spend time looking at Jesus. I have a small cross by my computer which I continually look at during my day. I’m continually reminded of Jesus’s sacrifice. Let His unconditional love fill us continually during the day. As most of you know I love worship music. The song below is an oldie by one of my favourite worship singers, Christy Nockels, but it’s a beauty for getting focused on Jesus.

3. When your spouse says something hurtful, critical, offensive, don’t bite back. Stop, listen and think how best to respond. You might need to walk away. Try to be polite and come back when you’re ready and seek to engage in positive conversation trying to understand their perspective but also expressing your feelings. Ask questions and use “I feel” sentences.

4. Treat someone with kindness. Smile (might be hard with a mask) or wave to someone. Buy someone a treat. Say something nice. And don’t look to receive anything in return. That’s not the intention. The intention is to be kind.

5. Last month I mentioned the ‘everyone needs a Barnabas’ principle I live by. Every day I make sure I encourage someone with a text, a tweet, a message, a call. I don’t have to even think about it now. After doing it for so many years, it’s become normal for me.

6. Thank your spouse for something they did today. Once again, don’t do it expecting a response. This is what love is. Our hearts grow when we love. It’s one of those supernatural principles of being a spiritual being.

7. Write a letter to a friend.

8. Walk away from any blame bandwagon’s that are so prevalent at the moment. It's very human to think that everything is always someone else’s fault. What’s clear with COVID, we all have to take responsibility in making sure we don’t spread the infection. Wear a mask. If in doubt, wear a mask. Ask before you meet with someone if wearing a mask is appropriate.

I’ll stop there. Be great for us to add to the list in the comments.

May the Lord bless you, may His face shine upon you, be gracious to you and fill you with peace.

 

 


Graves into Gardens

ID-100495874
Photo courtesy of Rob D and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear SUMite friends, Ian from wintry Sydney here. It's just turned July 1 here and it's incredible that half the year has already passed. Who could have anticipated what would go down this year? As I've mentioned previously, the Lord put on my heart the word, 'Awakening', in January but I had absolutely no sense of what that meant. Much has occurred for me personally, but it pales compared to all the global events.

Awakening

There is an awakening happening across the globe and it's important for us to hold on to the belief that God is in charge. And good has come out of these difficult times and will continue to I expect for years to come. 

Life for all of us is going to look different for a while, isn't it. Everything we're used to (outside of our homes) is having to be adjusted, whether it's the simple things like hugging friends, attending church, schooling for our kids, working out at gyms or eating at our favourite eateries. The list goes on.

Stay Connected

Even when it's challenging to be physically close, choose each day to stay connected with friends. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Schedule at least one contact per day - ring someone, Zoom/Facetime someone and be very present with them. Switch off other devices, email, clutter all around you so you can be fully focused on your friend. And be slow to share rather ask questions seeking to listen and care for your friend. Your turn will come to share, maybe not this time but the next.
  2. Embrace solitude with God - enables us to simply pause and take some time out from the world, family. Breath deeply a couple of times and try to clear your mind. There are a lot of apps that help us do this but I'll refer you once again to John Eldredge's One Minute Pause app which I and a number of my friends have found particularly beneficial in these crazy times.
  3. Encourage someone today - I have a saying that 'everyone needs a Barnabas in their life' and I try to be one every day. It can be as simple as a smile to a passer by, a quick check in to your neighbour, a text message with a heart emoji ("I'm thinking about you") or a note to say well done. Don't seek a thank you. God knows, that's all that matters. 

Worship

Who loves singing worship songs? At home? In the car? It's good isn't it! It awakens (that word again) our hearts and pours faith and belief into us.

I expect many of us will have seen the various collaborative versions of Kari Jobe/Cody Carnes "The Blessing"; the churches down under even did a version which I love. But it's this one from Elevation Church that is particularly relevant for these times.

Sing along and believe these lyrics because our Lord does indeed "turn graves into gardens, bones into armies, seas into highways and mourning to dancing" We are living in a moment in history that God has deemed for us to live in and oh, the wonder we are going to see. 

Get ready!


Want Your Spouse to Be Different? Pray Different! Pay this!

SUMites, Lynn again. Some of you know that I offer Healing Prayer and Spiritual Mentoring. I was so blessed to spend some time praying with a SUMite, Vidya Rodney. I was talking with her about the power of blessings, which I write about in Marching Around Jericho. 

She put together a prayer of blessings to pray over her husband. It's FANTASTIC. If you even speak only a few of these each day in your prayer time, you will make a significant change in the spiritual over your home, marriage and husband. Try them out. 

Vidya RodneyPrayers of blessings for my husband. By Vidya Rodney

Proverbs 18:21a- The tongue has the power of life and death.

Luke 10:19- I have given you the authority to trample on all snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

Isaiah 55:11- So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and it shall succeed in the thing in which I sent it.

Job 22:28-You shall also decide and decree a thing, and it shall be established for you; and the light (of God's favor) shall shine upon your ways.

Mark 11:23- Truly I Say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “be taken up and thrown into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

Romans 4:17- As it is written," I have made you a father of many nations."-in the presence of God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Ezekiel 37:4- Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say "Dry Bones hear the word of the Lord!

A couple of weeks ago , Lynn and I had a healing meeting and I was given specific prayer strategies from heaven to declare prayers of blessings over my husband and here are my prayer declarations of blessings over my husband, me (his wife) and our marriage covenant.

My dear Sumites, I believe with all my heart that we have the power to change our circumstance with our words and declarations, so almost every day I pray these prayers of blessings and I pray it would bless you. You can edit to suit your situation.

I bless my husband with a new spirit and tender, responsive heart in Jesus name.

I bless my husband with the mind, thoughts, will of the father, feelings, and purposes of Jesus Christ in Jesus name.

I bless my husband to be a man of integrity in everything he does and his hand touches in Jesus name.

I bless my husband to love me like Christ loves the church in Jesus name.

I bless my husband with the perfect love of Jesus Christ that expels all fear in Jesus name.

I Bless my husband to be the man that honors our marriage covenant in Jesus name.

I bless my husband with the fruits of the spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in Jesus name.

I bless my husband with humility and tenderhearted mercy towards me and others in Jesus name.

I bless my husband to submit his will to God the Father in Jesus name. I bless my husband to have a teachable spirit that will allow the Holy Spirit to minister to him in Jesus name.

I bless my husband to think of thoughts that are true, lovely, pure, right, honorable, admirable, and praiseworthy in Jesus name.

I bless my husband, so that his heart will be ready to receive the perfect laborer across his path in Jesus name.

I bless my husband with Godly mentors at his workplace, in his extra-curricular activities and hobbies in Jesus name.

I bless my husband to open his spiritual eyes to see how god sees and his spiritual ears to hear when Jesus speaks to him in Jesus name. I bless my husband to see Jesus at his workplace, on his YouTube videos, to encounter miraculous signs and wonders in Jesus name.

I bless his boss and his bosses’ s boss in Jesus name. I bless my husband's hands to prosper at everything he does in Jesus name. I bless him with supernatural favor at his workplace in Jesus name.

I bless my husband with the abundance of financial favor to be a cheerful giver in Jesus name.

I bless my husband with supernatural protection from any form of temptation and for his spiritual ears and eyes to be heightened to walk the righteous path in Jesus name. I bless him with the spirit of discernment in Jesus name.

I bless my husband to receive revelation knowledge of Jesus as his Lord and Savior in Jesus name.

I bless my husband to receive the kingdom of god and to participate in the works and purposes recorded in his book before time began in Jesus name.

I bless to be a man of integrity in everything he does in Jesus name.

I bless my husband with the angel armies with flaming swords to guard, protect and preserve his life in Jesus name.

I bless him with the holy ring of fire of protection surrounding him and keeping him from all forms of temptation in Jesus name.

I bless him to have a supernatural encounter with Jesus Christ that will change his life forever in Jesus name.

I bless my husband with the wisdom of Jesus to be the husband and father God has called him to be in Jesus name.

I bless my husband to let his guard down and discover the freedom in Jesus Christ that he desperately needs in Jesus name.

I bless our marriage covenant with healthy communication, mutual respect, transparency, commitment, agape love, understanding and trust and I seal it in the heavenly realms in Jesus name.

I bless our marriage covenant with the Shalom of Heaven and seal it in the heavenly realms in Jesus name.

I bless our marriage covenant with humility, selflessness, kindness, tenderhearted mercy, quick forgiveness and with cords that cannot be broken in Jesus name.

I bless our marriage bed to be kept pure with love and intimacy.

I bless my husband to desire me and find me irresistibly attractive in Jesus name.

I bless my husband to understand how high, how deep and how wide is the Love of God for him in, Jesus name.

I bless our marriage covenant between my husband and I and I seal it in the heavenly realms in Jesus name. I bless our home with the Shalom of Heaven in Jesus name.

I bless my husband with the tools, wisdom, and strength to overcome burdens and to tread on the right path in Jesus name.

I bless my husband to be a wise steward of our finances in Jesus name.

I bless my husband with the courage of Jesus to stay away from uncompromising choices. I bless him with supernatural wisdom to make right decisions in Jesus name.

I bless my husband to be a wise, good, and kind father to our child in Jesus name.

I bless myself his wife to be his help meet in Jesus name.

I bless myself his wife to honor and respect him with my words, thoughts, and actions in Jesus name.

I bless myself his wife, to do him good , and not harm, all the days of his life in Jesus name.

Be blessed and be blessing happy!

*****
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.


Forgiveness IS Powerful by Pam Osborn

SUMites, Lynn here. I've asked one of our long time community members to share with all of you about a forgiveness model she uses that is powerful and effective. I urge you to also try this. Having a physical anchor to ta spiritual concept is keenly helpful and significant to step into spiritual reality. This is a good one. So, take it away Pam. Hugs, Lynn

*****

PamOsborneI was asked to share a little about what I have learned on the topic of Forgiveness.  It seems that there is a lot more to it than just saying you’re sorry. It is actually one step in a peace-making process.

It was helpful for me to get clarity on what Biblical forgiveness is and what it isn’t.  I feel like many of us get hung up here.

One misunderstanding I had was that forgiveness was a feeling.  That I had to feel like the person deserved forgiveness before I would grant it.  Or, that I had to have a warm fuzzy feeling, a forgive and forget attitude, to make the forgiveness authentic.  However, Biblical forgiveness is not a feeling, but an act of obedience in response to the forgiveness we received for our debts.  We are called to be peacemakers and are commanded to forgive.  Forgiveness doesn’t equal trust.  Forgiveness is a gift to the other person, but Trust must be earned.

Along these same lines, I thought forgiveness was between you and the other person.  That you would extend an apology to them, and your relationship would be reconciled.  You don’t have to reconcile a relationship with someone to forgive them.  Biblical forgiveness is between you and God alone, it’s a one-way transaction. The other person does not have to be present or even still living.

If you are in my camp, you have probably resisted forgiving someone because that would mean you are forgetting the harm or offense they did to you and you are letting them off the hook.  We want to extract justice ourselves and don’t trust anyone else to carry it out.  The Bible teaches that God hates sin.  He never EXCUSED my sin; it was nailed to the Cross with Christ.

Whenever we are harmed or wounded, the offender creates a debt that is owed to us.  I was given a simple exercise that helped me work through these offenses.  We made photocopies of a cross and were instructed to write down the name of every person who hurt, wounded, or shamed us and to also list any event.  This exercise represents the act of forgiveness in that you are releasing YOUR claim for justice to God.  They no longer owe you a debt, they owe Him. It has given me a freedom to release the person and not have to carry that weight. I kept my cross and have referred back to it any time I need a reminder that justice is His.    

***********************************************

Pam Osborne is employed at a law firm in her hometown of Greenville, S.C.  She is active in her community and Church, where she is a Coach in a 12-step program in the Care & Recovery Ministry.  Pam has been a part of the SUMite community for a number of years. Pam enjoys painting and DIY projects.  She is currently a semi empty-nester with her two adult children.


Unequally Yoked AND Infertility

SUM NATION:

Julie Nelson
Julie Nelson

Lynn here. I received the most astonishing email that past week. Julie Nelson wrote to me to share here testimony. I prayed for her in the comments.

Also, I prayed with her in a Healing Prayer Session. And God released her voice. Recently she shared her story about infertility and walking through that struggle with an unbelieving husband. Take a listen and give Jesus glory. The SUMite nation is making a way for so many to experience the love of Jesus. Hallelujah!

Thank you Julie for your faithfulness. Hugs, Lynn

The Journey I Chose and the Journey I Didn't (Julie Nelson)

 


Marriage Devotion - Patty Tower

My spouse is worthy of praise & honor

PATTY tOWER 2018I read an article about a woman in church talking to a couple members about her husband, and everything she spoke out of her mouth regarding her husband was negative. The members began to think negatively about her husband and the character of the man she married. When in reality, she married a good man, but she chose to only focus on the negative.

I reflected on my own actions and thought, “What if my husband spoke to others about me the way I spoke of him? What kind of Christian would I be?” I made a commitment to speak of my husband in a positive light in front of others. And if I ever had an issue with him, I decided I needed to talk to him respectfully about my issues or to seek counsel and wisdom.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8 

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” – Matthew 15:18

Reflection: Think of the last negative thing you said about your spouse and write them here. Ask God for forgiveness and ask him to help you speak about your spouse in a positive light. Pray you will see what God sees. Ask God to remind you that your partner was made in His image and likeness and that he crafted him with godly qualities.


Love DEFEATS Knowledge

PATTY tOWER 2018By Patty tower  

We are over a month post conference and boy…not only is God doing a work in me, but doing a work in my husband! Hallelujah and amen.

I’m excited that God is opening doors of spiritual discussions between my husband I, and I’m thrilled to see where these discussions will lead. God will pave a way for my husband’s salvation, yes, but like many other women in this community realize…it comes at a price. The price of truly getting to know myself through the Savior first.

Sometimes, I have to be careful about what I ask. When I prayed, “God give me your heart and show me your ways.” You had better believe He will show you…and sometimes, it stings.

Recently, it occurred to me during in a conversation with my close sisters in Christ, that I may be too “self-righteous,” too “passionate,” and I may come on “too strong” when I talk about Jesus. The Bible encourages us to walk in holiness and righteousness, but was I really being self-righteousness? Was my righteousness the way to go?

Some thesaurus synonyms of self-righteous includes: holier-than-thou, self-satisfied, smug, priggish, pious, moralizing, preachy, superior, and hypocritical. It’s basically the opposite of humility. It’s the opposite of Jesus and what He came to earth to fight against. Those characteristics screamed of everything the religious “Pharisees” stood for in my head.

I didn’t know this about myself until now. I was having a hard time balancing my passion and spreading the gospel in a loving way.  God wasn’t telling me to stop spreading the gospel, but in my pursuit to tell others of my Bible knowledge, I was pushing them away from Jesus ,rather than drawing them in.

Bible knowledge is great, but what good is knowledge if you’re not representing the true love of Christ?

I felt like I failed Him. I failed God and others by not reflecting the love of Christ.

I dug deep and asked my Father, Why am I like this? Where is it coming from?

God answered. The root of it was simple. I had this inner desire to be heard. Growing up in my household, I was rarely heard. The type of relationship I had with my parents was more like a dictatorship. “Do as you’re told…or else.”

I remember memories of me begging them to “hear me out.” I was constantly trying to “convince,” them why they ought to trust me with friendships at school or joining school sports. My opinions or what I had to say were not valued. It was “my way or the highway,” or “because I said so.” I intellectually fought them because I felt like it was the only way that would lead me to freedom outside of my home.

My family prided themselves on being right. And I honestly, I don’t care if you’re right or wrong…I just want to feel loved. To feel protected, honored, valuable...to be heard. Isn’t that why we all love Jesus? Because he provides all those things other people may not be able to?

I was intellectually convincing people why the Bible was the source of truth. When God’s only commandment to me is 1) Love God first. 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. I had to put myself in my neighbor’s shoes and ask, “Would I want to know more about Jesus hearing what I heard from myself?” The answer was no, probably not.

God forgives and He honors our mistakes. But really, I felt like one of those people standing with a sign at a public venue that says, “Believe in Jesus or you will go to hell!” You know what I mean.

In all thankfulness, I have people in my life who can hold me accountable. In God’s perfect timing, He also starts to open more spiritual discussions with my husband. If it weren’t for sisters in Christ, I probably would have vomited Bible knowledge to people who didn’t even care! They just need Jesus!

Jeremiah 9:23 says “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom…”

My most important question to Jesus was, “Other than prayer, how do I go about spreading your gospel now?” I’ve been confirmed in this season it is time my husband hears about the Lord. I’ve been “winning” him through my actions and now it’s through my voice.

The answer was simple. Testify.

Testify what God has done in your life.

Testify the goodness of God.

Testify how he healed you.

Testify the miracles you have witnessed because of Him.

Testify. Luke 8:39 says:

“’Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming through the whole city how much Jesus has done for him.”

I love you all and I’m thankful for a community like you who understands the growing pains of being more Christ-like. Thank you all for your words of wisdom and prayer.

I will see you in the comments!


Loving Your Separated Spouse by Linda Rooks

Fighting-for-Your-Marriage-While-Separated-Thumbnail (2)Loving Your Separated Spouse

I know in this community of unequally yoked believers, there is someone whose spouse has walked out the door and left. Your heart is breaking right now, and you don’t know what to do. Perhaps your spouse has never accepted Christ or perhaps, like my husband did many years ago, he or she walked away from their faith commitment.

Thankfully, my story has a happy ending. After three years of separation, the Lord drew my husband back into relationship with Him again. We reconciled, and have now had twenty blessed and fruitful years of marriage since that dreadful time.

If this is where you are, finding your way through this complicated and confusing period of separation poses many challenges and heartrending moments of feeling hopeless. But with God as your anchor, you can do it. He will lead you through this season one day at a time if you keep your eyes on Him.

Your faithful but patient love to your spouse while he or she is in a place of wandering will show them Jesus, but you need to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (Matt: 10:16) as you navigate this difficult season of your marriage. Trust God in His timing. He knows what has to happen in your spouse’s life and yours before a successful reconciliation can take place. This may mean months . . . or even a longer period of separation. But as waiting spouses, it’s important not to get in the way of the healing God wants to do in both your partner’s life and yours. Give God time to do what He wants to do.

It begins by giving space to the one who has left so they can diffuse whatever conflict is whirling around in their head and clear their mind of confusion. A spouse who leaves the home usually doesn’t know what he wants, and chasing after them with questions about “why” and “when” can drive them further away. Meanwhile, pray for them as well as yourself. While you put them on the back burner of your mind, focus your attention on God instead. Let Him strengthen you and show you what He wants to say to you. This can be a time of growing ever closer to Jesus as you allow Him to speak truth into your heart and mind.

When you do have contact with your spouse, resist the temptation to make accusations and negative comments. Instead, offer positive encouragement, which shows that you care enough to accept him where he is at the moment. Affirm her as a person even though you don’t like what she’s doing right now. Positive words throughout this season of separation can offer a healing balm for unseen wounds that have brought division between you. Using positive words to create a safe place where the two of you can interact will help to open up lines of communication at some point down the road. Pray each step of your journey before and during each contact with your spouse. Let God guide you in your words and actions.

I know what I’m suggesting runs counter to what may come natural to do in this situation. Chances are your mind is racing with negative feelings and thoughts and you want to press in to tell your mate why he or she is wrong to leave. The flesh in us wants to do what comes naturally. When Satan attacks our marriages, however, he relies on us to do what comes naturally because he knows that in our flesh we are not strong or wise enough to overcome his strategies. So this is a time when you need God’s supernatural strength and wisdom to do what is truly unnatural. Take your pain and your negative feelings to God. Let Him carry you through this time. The message of 2 Corinthians 12:10 tells us when we are weak, then God can be strong within us.

Loving your spouse during a time like this is not something the world sees as natural, but Jesus didn’t ask us to do what comes naturally. When He told us to love our enemies, that was not natural. When He said to do good to those who hate us, that was not natural. (Matt: 5:43-44) But even though Jesus may ask us to do something unnatural, He never asks us to do something impossible because His power is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) What is impossible for us, is possible with God. (Luke 18:27) He wants us to lean on Him; He wants us to trust Him. When we look to God and rely on His Spirit to guide us during this difficult period of a marital separation, we can find the future and blessing He has planned for us. That is what I call winning. And when we win, the glory will go to God.

-----

Head shot Linda Rooks - blue scarfLinda W. Rooks is the author of Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated and Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation. She not only writes about separation, she lived through it for three years. For the last twelve years, she and her husband have been ministering to others in broken marriages through classes in Central Florida and seen many marriages healed. You can find out more about Linda and her ministry at http://brokenheartonhold.com  or http://fightingforyourmarriage.net 

(Lynn, you can use either web address you want. They both go to the same place.)


We Raise a Hallelujah!

There has been much to celebrate in SUMite land in recent weeks. The SUMite Gathering at the beginning of April and our dear Lynn’s Mike coming to know Jesus as his Lord and Saviour being two BIG highlights.

My family received some wonderful news this morning. John, my brother, some of you may recall, has been going through treatment for lymphoma since November. Today, he received news that he is in FULL REMISSION! Hallelujah. Praise the Lord! We’re naturally excited but I’m especially pleased for my mom and dad who found the whole experience very stressful.

Like Lynn’s Mike who has stepped into a completely different ‘life’, John has also. Prior to his diagnosis he had lived a ‘quiet’ life as a Christian, so quiet that his wife and children weren’t really aware of his faith. However, in this ‘dark valley’ he discovered not just the ‘rod and staff’ of his shepherd but the Lord who led him beside still waters and to lie down in long grass. John happily told everyone who came in contact with him, whether it be the nurse administering his chemo, to the stranger who wished him well, that he simply trusted in the goodness of God.

John’s transformation has really been quite remarkable. And then my dad who I’ve never known to pray before was nightly praying with mom for healing for his eldest son.

I don’t have any real message today other than to express my heartfelt praise to our God. Who is always good, even when the news might not be. And to encourage you all to keep praying not so much for answers but to know Him better. Because when we know Him better we come to experience the Lord as our shepherd of whom we ‘shall not want’.

And to all of you who prayed for John and my family. A heartfelt thanks from us all. I wish I could hug you all. 

I’ve discovered this song recently that I keep playing and it has such a strong message about our God, who loves us so much that He simply can’t be stopped!

I hope it may uplift your spirit. Jesus tells us we are His friends and so He takes us behind the scenes of what is going on (John 15:15-17) - this is what prayer is about - praying the Father's business be done! 

Be blessed dear SUMite friends.

 

 

 


“After the Party”: A Poem Inspired by the Parable of the Prodigal Son – By Charumathi R Rao. (SUMite) 

Charu, sent this post following the Prodigal son series. Want to share it with the SUM Nation. Hugs, Lynn

Charu BIO: I live in the metro DC area. Originally from India - relocated here for my job. Have lived in the US for about 12 yrs now. Been married for 15 years this August, No kids. I have a full time job that keeps me busy. But heart is in writing, reading and teaching the Bible, and speaking about Jesus to anyone and everyone He brings my way :) I LOVE Jesus. And my life's goal and daily prayer is to point people to Jesus as long as I live - as He would so grant and enable. My husband is now saved too and got baptized over a year ago. -Charu

After the Party

He threw a party for me, to welcome me back!

After I’d gone and lost all his wealth,

I’d broken his heart, shamed his fame,

Yet here he is, calling my name.

I am worn and weary, dirty and weak,

Was hoping to quietly fall at his feet;

Pleading my faults in submission meek,

Yet I saw him, come running to greet.

My brother is angry and so are his friends,

The servants - they wonder if Dad’s lost his head!

A party?  – they said, for this one? who strayed?

A party He said – for I’d prayed and prayed.

After the party, I’ve shed many tears,

Counting the losses and the wasted years,

I battle the guilt, the fear and the shame,

Yet, once again, I hear him calling my name.

After the party, when others didn’t believe,

And when I was too afraid, to step out and live;

I see his eyes, and remember how it felt

To be back in his arms, safe and alive…!

As the years, have gone by, I no longer mope,

I’ve slowly, but surely, come to know well

That my father has a plan – a future and a hope!

As I securely, in his care and presence dwell.

I know above all, that I am my father’s child,

And that ‘He’, my lot and my portion provides.

Though trials may come, and temptations wild,

I’ll rest in peace, as his love, forever abides…!

Notes:

This is a poem inspired by one of Jesus’s well-known parables. Known as the parable of “The Prodigal Son”, this story is recorded in the Bible in the gospel of Luke chapter 15 from verses 11-32. This story revolves around a father who has two sons. The younger son demands a share of his inheritance from the father and goes away to a distant land while the older son continues to stay and work with his father. The younger son – the prodigal, wastes all his inheritance away in the distant land and gets to a point where he has nothing left and no one to help him. At his lowest point, he ends up tending pigs in the distant land and not having to eat even what the pigs have. Upon reflection, he realizes that even the servants in his father’s house were treated better than he was now, and coming to his senses, decides to go back and plead for his father to take him in – at least as a servant. He had no expectations about reclaiming his position as a son and only hoped for a servant’s place. While he was on his way back, his father sees him from a far distance and comes out running to greet him and restores him as his son. The father throws a party to celebrate this son’s return and would not look at him as anything less than his son – his dearly loved son. The story goes on to show the father dealing with the anger the older brother expresses at the father’s generous treatment of his ‘prodigal sibling’ and with the father encouraging the older son to love his prodigal brother (I recommend reading the Bible verses to have a better understanding of the parable and therefore this poem).

While the parable ends with the big party the father threw to celebrate his son’s return and his exchange with the older brother, I have often pondered what impact all this had on the prodigal son since his return and how it shaped his life going forward. This poem is partly an imagination of the son’s struggles with himself and his life ‘after the party’ and partly inspired by my own journey back to Christ after some years of living a prodigal life and the struggles I’ve faced since in my thought life and what I have learned about Our Father’s heart. You see – it doesn’t mean we have arrived, when we first come to Christ or come back to Him after going away. In fact, our journey just begins when we come to Christ i.e. when we truly, sincerely accept Him as the Lord of our life. We still must deal with the consequences of our choices during our prodigal years. This can be a hard load to bear – alone. Even after we are back in our Father’s care, even after we have been restored with blessings in our physical or material life, we may continue to struggle with our thought life – at times not being able to fully process the forgiveness and restoration He offers. Yet with Him, all things are possible. And, it is in that process of restoration, that true healing occurs, as He slowly chips away all that is ugly and unnecessary in us. He works in us and on us, until all that is left is what ‘He’ originally intended us to be – beautiful, cherished and dearly loved – His children bearing His image. Yes, He works in us and on us until we can let Him work through us to love His other children in this world.

Within the safety of our Father’s arms, we can continue to face all our struggles courageously and rest in peace knowing that we are loved by our Father. In His arms, there is peace, safety, provision, comfort, love and joy.

This poem is dedicated to each of you who face similar struggles – in your own journey with Him. This is dedicated to ‘you’, dear reader, no matter where you are on this journey, even if you haven’t taken the first step yet.

You have a Father who loves you more than you may ever understand. He longs to hold you in His arms.

Be assured that you will be “truly safe” when in His arms. Blessings…!


Abiding and Abounding

ID-10014120
Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello SUMite friends, Ian from Down Under here.

I keep bumping into a recurring theme of how to do this Christian life well. I’ve probably made reference to it in previous posts. It has two elements to it, and different people use different terms to describe these elements. A nun I listened to a few years back described a typical day as consisting of time for ‘contemplation’ and then time for ‘action’ ending the day with more of the former. 

Interestingly, if you studied a typical day Jesus lived we would probably find that’s how His day would be broken into. What’s critical is that a good life includes both elements.

Recently I came across an alternative description: ‘abiding’ and ‘abounding’ which are taken from two key New Testament verses: 

John 15:4 (NRSV) – Jesus says, Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV) – Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

I think we all broadly understand the notion of abiding, of staying close to Jesus. The notion of abounding similarly is relatively straight forward, of doing the work of the Lord. One might suggest it’s hard to do the latter without the former but I think we all know from experience it’s often easier to do the ‘doing’ without spending any time ‘being’.

Tension Between the Two 

John Ortberg who was the one that brought this new moniker to my attention reflected on the tension between the two. It was a fact of life and we even see evidence of it in Jesus’ life when He was torn between doing more or spending time in quiet contemplation with the Father. 

We’re often implored to have ‘balance’ in life, aren’t we? Sometimes we’re even made to feel bad because life is nowhere near being balanced. Right? But I’ve been thinking that life is more about ‘seasons’. There will be ‘seasons’ when we do more of something and other ‘seasons’ when we do more of something else. Think of those weeks and months after having a baby, for example. Or those times when we had major projects to complete or exams to study for. Trying to achieve any semblance of ‘balance’ is simply not possible and why overlay ourselves with additional burden of feeling guilty about being imbalanced.

Yes, the Sabbath is very important to God and so it should be to us to. By that I mean doing it not just believing in it. So we should seek to incorporate regular times of rest in our schedules.

“Anyone seeking to have a long obedience in the same direction needs a regular rhythm of stopping.” (Rich Villodas)

Realistically there are likely to be seasons when we abide more and other seasons when we abound more. But remember there is always going to be a tension between the two and that’s okay. That’s normal. 

Systems

What I particularly appreciated in Ortberg’s outline was the importance of implementing systems in our lives to both ‘abide’ and ‘abound’.  Many of us will be more naturally inclined to do one or the other but a ‘system’ will help create healthy habits to implement the one we’re less inclined to do. 

I’m actually more inclined to spend time ‘abiding’ but am learning how to be more ‘active’ in doing the work of the Lord. BTW, I don’t think this necessarily means we need to be adding more things to our already busy schedules rather taking advantage of opportunities around us to “love in action”. Always remember the families we love are our closest “neighbors” when reflecting upon “loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.” It’s easy to forget that. Our homes are where we can actively demonstrate "love in action". 

A critical aspect to abiding is to get away from the noise within our individual worlds. That enables us to hear God. A healthy habit or discipline that enables us to disrupt all the stuff running through our minds is a positive thing.

“Uncluttered time and space to distance ourselves from the frenzy of our own activities so we can see what God has been and is doing.” (Eugene Peterson)

I walk Beanie, one of our dogs every morning and night. It’s a wonderful time for me to ‘withdraw’ and free my mind. Interestingly, in the afternoon or night it can be the most productive time for me to get new inspiration for story ideas or for work. And that’s because I’ve switched my mind off from all the other stuff and simply focused on the one thing. 

In the morning though I try to start by looking up at the sky and praising the Lord for the day. Most days it’s sunny where I am so the morning sunshine is an easy thing to praise God for. Then I will pray Psalm 23 and meditate on each line. It’s a really soothing Psalm and so powerful in drawing us close to the Lord, our Shepherd. More often than not this will lead me to start praying for people or things in my life that I sense the Lord has put on my heart. It’s quote normal for me to start conversing with the Lord where we chat. About all sorts of things. I love these times.

But what we’re trying to do is give ourselves the opportunity to hear from God.

Similarly, with abiding we need to implement a system or discipline that help us to “abound in the work of the Lord”. I’ve already gone on too long so I might leave discussion of what this looks like for next time.

Where do you find the most tension between abiding and abounding (or contemplation vs action)? How do you go about creating some space to abide with the Lord during your day?

Blessings, my friends.


MORE THAN I COULD HAVE ASKED OR IMAGINED!

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-10-21/c226824b-9256-423e-bfb7-e2ae2cfe4502.png
Shelley Cruze with Husband and Son

By  SUMite, Shelley Cruz

I was raised in a wonderful Christian home but walked away from God as a teenager because I thought that I was missing out on all the fun in life. I married, started my career, bought a home with my husband and had two babies. After 12 years of living for myself, I finally realized that the “fun” and all the other things I used to fill the void were leaving me feeling empty. I knew what I was missing was a relationship with Jesus and in 1996, I rededicated my life to Him. I wanted my children to know Jesus and began to teach them and brought them to church with me. I longed for my husband to know Christ, so I began praying for him.  

Soon after, he began coming to church with me, but it became quickly became apparent that he was only coming to make me happy and to present a unified front to our kids. It was clear that his heart was closed, and it was difficult to have hope. Thankfully, my family and the women in my small group prayed for his salvation too and encouraged me not to give up! So, I continued to pray.

Over the years, I saw seeds being planted in his life with different situations he was in and people that were put into his life; I knew God was at work. However, after many, many years of praying with no change, I would get so discouraged and I’d wonder if this prayer would ever be answered.

And yet, things got even tougher. By the time our son hit the 9th grade, he became very rebellious. At age 17, the problems had come to a climax.  He was out of control and involved all kinds of risky behavior. Our lives were in total chaos due to the constant issues that would consume us, and I felt desperate for God’s wisdom on what to do.  

Unfortunately, it is often hardship that motivates us to want to pray continually. I also was feeling frustrated and disappointed in myself in my spiritual journey. Although I was going to church regularly, involved in Bible study and ministry, I often was inwardly consumed with worry and fear about my son, and sadness and discouragement about my husband. So, I used exercise, entertainment and busyness as distractions.

God began to show me that although I was doing many of the right things as a Christian, I wasn’t doing what was most important, which was spending time every single day in prayer and reading my Bible. My spiritual “roots” were not that deep. I had allowed other things to become first place in my life.

So, I began to make prayer and Bible reading a habit, the first thing I did each morning. I journaled, even the small answers to prayer I was seeing in my life. This began to encourage me as I saw God WAS answering my prayers by giving me peace, wisdom and direction. As I began to make time for God and talk to Him regularly, I found something: my attitude about Bible reading and prayer changed. My desire for that time with the Lord became something I wanted to do instead of something I should do.

Unfortunately, things continued to spiral out of control with our son.  After trying everything we could think of, God helped lead my husband and I to the decision to send our son to a camp for struggling teens. Our hearts were completely broken. This was the most difficult decision we’ve ever had to make, and the next four months were very painful. During the time he was gone, I could see things were starting to change for my husband. His heart was softening to spiritual things. He now wanted to come to church with me regularly, he wanted to read the Purpose Driven Life book that had been sitting on our bookshelf for 10 years, and he was touched by the outpouring of prayer, love and support by the Christians that were in our life.  

Four months later, our son came back from camp and although it was stressful and there were many adjustments, it was clear that he was on a better track. I was so thankful that God had given us direction to make this huge decision. This had truly been an answer to prayer. However, now that life was manageable, it seemed like nothing was happening anymore in my husband and I again felt discouraged. 

Two months later, we were driving home from San Diego and my husband suddenly turned to me and said, “I’ve made a decision to believe”.  I was in total shock…. I asked him if he meant that he had accepted Christ into his heart, and he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said “Yes, I have.” Needless to say, I could barely speak for the next 10 minutes as tears poured down my face…. WHAT A MIRACLE, AFTER 18 YEARS OF PRAYING FOR HIM. It made me realize that God had been working all along, even though most of the time, I couldn’t see anything. 

Our lives have not been the same since! God has truly transformed our marriage.  The spiritual and emotional intimacy that I had longed for all those years is finally here and God is the center of our marriage.  

I am so thankful that our prayers have been answered with our son and he has changed the direction of his life. God has healed our relationship with him, he has a job and just graduated from university in May!

Over the last five years since he made the decision to believe, I have watched God change my husband from the inside out. Although he was a good man before, I’ve seen God transform his heart, his desires, his actions and his purpose for his life. We serve in ministry together teaching spiritual growth classes at our church. We lead a small group in our home, he is part of a men’s group, serves in several other ministries at church, and we plan to go on our first mission trip together next Spring. God has answered my prayers so far above and beyond what I could have imagined! God has also given me a new ministry supporting and encouraging other women who are also in spiritually mismatched marriages.  He truly uses our pain for a purpose!

Maybe you have been praying for your husband for a very long time. Maybe you are getting discouraged and wondering if God is listening, or if anything is happening. If you are praying, please don’t give up! God is at work when we pray even if we don’t see it, miracles do happen!  

Shelley Cruze Family
Cruz Family!

God Can Change A Man's Heart!

Nicki Hathorn 10 2018

by Niki Hathorn

Hello SUMite friends!

I have some wonderful news today.

When I met my husband in our early twenties, we were both believers but not even close to walking with Jesus. Fast forward to my early thirties, we were married, and I was pregnant with our first child. It was at that time when Jesus finally got hold of me.

I found a church to attend, started reading my Bible, I became involved in community with some wonderful ladies, and really began to grow. My husband would participate once in a while - when convenient for him, but I wasn't seeing much change in his life. In fact, debauchery and anger seemed to take over any joy that he had. It's been a long and difficult road.

In August, I went to bed on a Sunday night and fell asleep telling Jesus that I didn't think I could stay much longer. The constant tension and lack of peace in my home had become too much and I felt that my prayers weren't being answered. The next morning, I found out I was pregnant (total surprise) with our third child. I thought my husband would be upset about this wrench in our plans, but he was excited - which even surprised himself.

A few days went by and I started to see a lot of his anger and anxiety melt away. A few weeks later, our friends (who have a band) were releasing their first album and putting on a concert at a performing arts center. He suggested that we get tickets and make a date night of it! But on that day, he also attended a friend's birthday party at a brewery, so he showed up to the concert pretty drunk. I was a little concerned that somehow his anger would rear its ugly head that night but guess what! He praised, he worshiped, he sang, he wept, he had joyful fellowship with the wonderful Christian's in our lives. The dark and the light collided, and the light won that night.

As I drove him home that night, he fell asleep and that's when the strange behavior began. His limbs started randomly flying around. One time, he sat up and punched the windshield. After getting home and going to bed, his arms were still thrashing around - one time accidentally hitting me in the face. He would randomly start yelling profanities as if he were angry at someone. Then he started getting out of bed and stomping around our home, yelling and cursing. I have NEVER seen anything like this from him and he drinks OFTEN.

He woke up the next morning with unexplained burns on his arm. It did not occur to me until the next morning (as I was pretty freaked out when this was happening) that what I was seeing was demonic. I think the enemy showed up at the concert that night thinking he was winning, but instead he realized how much he is losing his hold on my husband. My husband has zero recollection of any of this.

Now here's the best part. Fast forward two weeks and our church's missionaries from Nigeria came to speak at our church. They told us that they have already planted 16 churches in their people's kingdom, but until they can be educated, they will never rise up out of oppression. The first step to educating their children, is to build a school in this specific town where they can get certified by the government so that the children can then move on to college (which is free) in order to become teachers and doctors and come back to their villages to educate more and the cycle continues so that they can rise above the oppression and poverty.

They need $10k for the land to build the school and $20k for the building We left church that day and in the car on the way home, my husband said he was going to give them the money they need for the land.

SAAAAYYYY WHATTTTT??????

Here is this man who I have seen in bondage for so very long and prayed for with so many tears... He's breaking free, he's feeling the Spirit, he's giving to the Kingdom without restraint. I just can't even.

This God of ours is BIG and so much better than I could ever comprehend. My faith has turned a new corner and I cannot wait to see what the Lord Jesus does with my family. Thank you for reading if you are still here! And I sure hope that this is an encouragement to you! Please rejoice with me today :) Lynn and Dineen, I have and have read your books and they have been SUCH an encouragement to me. Thank you for this ministry!

Niki, SUMite Nation

My husband and I grew up about 20 minutes from each other in Alabama, but didn't meet until we both moved to Tampa, Florida after college. We have been married for almost 8 years and have a girl, a boy, and a surprise baby on the way! We are currently living in Apollo Beach, Florida where he built us a house.


Where Is Your Focus

The following post is by Lori Lyn Skipper.

_____

Where is your focus?
Pic credit: Laura Mowrey

With salty tears running down my cheeks, swallowing over the lump in my throat and my heart aching, I begin this blog. 

I learned yesterday a long-time friend and co-sharer of the Gospel passed on to Glory in the morning. Upon reading the news yesterday my mind began wandering to years past. And conviction fell. And today as I was looking at her pictures, again, conviction fell.

She was one of the most beautiful, God-fearing women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Not only was she beautiful on the outside, she genuinely had a beautiful heart and spirit.  My heart aches for her husband, her children, her brother and best friend/sister-in-law and her parents. It also aches for all those who knew her and for those that never had the great pleasure of making her acquaintance.

If you knew my friend, you would know love. Oh, she loved/loves her Lord! She loved her husband and her children, and she loved them well!! She loved her family, friends, the Body of Christ and those who have not yet made a commitment to our Savior. She exuded and amplified the Father’s love to everyone she encountered.

She was a very anointed worship leader, her and her husband. It did not matter where you would run into her, she had a genuine smile on her face. Their middle child was disabled, he was very limited in what he was able to do for himself. That in itself would have brought physical, mental and financial hardships, yet, she smiled, held onto her faith and worshipped her King through it all! (She is now reunited with him).  Even through the past months, during the battle she fought with her health, my other beautiful God-fearing friend said she still held onto faith and worshipped her King. How? Why was she able to do that? It was her focus!

It wasn’t like mine, I focused on the seasoned salt my husband left behind on the stovetop and this left me agitated. Or on the crusty food left on the counter where my husband cooked. Or the fact that my house had not been vacuumed for three weeks. Let us not forget that I had become overwhelmed with my business, home life, health and taking care of my mom. Those things became a burden for me. When in all truthfulness, they should have become a reason for me to be thankful! Why? It’s all about focus.

Shortly after I heard the news of my beloved friend, one of my clients emailed me not to worry about the $800 I still owed him. His reasoning, “What does $800 matter in the scheme of eternity?” OUCH!!

What does $800 matter in the scheme of eternity? That’ll make you put the brakes on really quick! $800 is not chump change, it could come in handy right now but when the focus is on ‘the scheme of eternity’, it means nothing!! (Matthew 6:24)

The things that matter in this life, on this side of eternity should be our focus. My focus should have been, “God, thank you that I have a husband, not just any husband, but MY husband. The one who loves to cook.” “God, thank you that I have a home to clean, when there are so many that are homeless.” “God, thank you for a business that allows me time to do what I want or the things You call me to do.” “Thank you for the food that I have to eat that I or my husband can leave a mess behind.” “Father, thank you for allowing my mom to move to Florida, that we can be reconciled together.”

There are souls to be saved for the Kingdom of God! There are millions who have not yet heard the wonderful Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are thousands upon thousands that are lost and looking to be found. How many there are that are sick, diseased and dying without any hope. We have the answer! It’s LOVE. Just as my friend exuded Love to everyone she met, I challenge all of us to become Love. (1 John 4:7-19).

I leave you with the question, “Where is your focus?”

Please leave a comment below so we can all pray for one another. May you know the Fathers love today greater than you’ve ever experienced it!

-----

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHi, Lori Lyn Skipper here! I’m happy to say I am 51 years young, married to my husband John. We have three grown children between the two of us. I have two boys and he has a daughter as well as a granddaughter. My husband and I married in June 2016. I moved to sunny Florida in 2012. I often say I’m an Illinois girl living in a Florida world. I came to meet Jesus in mid-1996 but did not accept Him as my Lord & Savior until January 1997. Let me tell you, He’s had His work cut out since I say yes to His call. I often envision God shaking His head at my antics, you know, how we do with our own children.

I kind of resemble Paul, “the chief of sinners.” Well, I used to be, now I’m no longer a sinner, I’m a saint saved by grace that sometimes still sins. A couple of my passions are to see people healed, delivered and set free by the power of Holy Spirit and the body walking in their gifts and calling of the Lord. Getting to be a part of that is so fun and such a blessing.


Abiding leads to Transformation

6a00d83451ee9f69e2022ad3a65532200b-200piHello, Ian here once again.  As you probably have noticed in many of my posts in the last few years I’ve sought to desire more of God, to experience that oneness with the Father that Jesus prays for us about in John 17.  Hey, and isn’t it fabulous that Jesus, Himself, actively helps us in the process? Everyday. As He continually intercedes in prayer for us. This desire for more brought me, firstly, to writing a new non-fiction book, and then when I discovered I didn’t have sufficient material, secondly, to take up study again in participating in a Spiritual Formation course.  To date I marvel at what I’m both learning and experiencing.

The Heart

It’s a journey of the heart as the prophet Jeremiah declared: “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. (Jeremiah 24:7) I think for many years I treated it more as an exercise of accumulating knowledge and, being a passionate ‘Learner’[1], it was very easy for me to simply learn, fill many journals and my mind with lots of knowledge but didn’t feel any closer to experiencing an intimacy with the Lord. Also, being a routine-oriented person I had explored a myriad of ‘successful-people’ daily habits to try on to see if there was a fit. Once again, I kept hitting roadblocks. They helped me produce output but not the fruit I desired as expressed by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV). It’s clear now that I was confusing measuring goals and tasks with the ways of the heart. I like how Jenn Giles Kemper describes adopting “a rule of life, on the other hand, helps you become.”[2]

The vine analogy is a powerful one about becoming. In John 15, we read Jesus’ words: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (v 4-5 ESV) Heidi Baker sums up this essence of abiding: “Time spent abiding is time spent being equipped … Abiding in the vine means we are ‘plugged in’ to the resources of heaven.”[3]Abiding requires spiritual disciplines of solitude, silence, prayer and meditation. These are the disciplines of contemplation. As we fix our eyes on God in contemplation we are equipped and guided for bearing fruit. The transformational inside-out work of these disciplines serves to enable us to be secure in obeying the Word of the Lord. Foster describes this inside-out process well: “When the branch is truly integrated into the vine – united with the vine and receiving its life from the vine – then good spiritual fruit is a natural consequence. Action follows essence.”[4] This is the life Jesus modeled for us, as did the first disciples and many of the Christian greats such as Martin Luther, who had so much business to attend to he could not get on “without spending three hours daily in prayer.”

Transforming vs Conforming

Since I can remember, perhaps my favourite verses has been the classic opening two verses of Romans 12:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformedby the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

As a teenager, I wanted not to conform to the patterns of the world. I didn’t want to chase what the world did. I figured I was a bit of a misfit anyway and these verses helped show me that Jesus had a different plan for us when we asked for Him to be Lord of our life. But it didn’t take me long to get sucked into conforming.

It was this essence I lacked. I had spent too many years being religious making sure I had my daily quiet time, read more books than I can remember on how to develop a closer relationship with God and felt guilty that I wasn’t committing to enough service in my church. Action follows essence. I appreciate that now. “The [Spiritual] Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.”[5] Transformation is a process, like any significant change activity. And it requires a degree of suffering just like adopting any new habit does. In fact, building bodily muscle requires the breaking of muscle fibres and interestingly, most of the restoring of the muscle is done when resting the muscle after a work out. It’s a good analogy for the spiritual transformation process as well: the disciplines of contemplation are when our spiritual muscles are restored and/or developed to enable us to step out into the action of performing good works.

I so love that image of Mary of Bethany simply sitting at Jesus feet in Luke 10. She simply sat at the Lord’s feet listening to Jesus. Jesus tells busy Martha that “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be take away from her.” (v42)

It is in abiding with Jesus we get to not just hear His voice, but His heartbeat. And the more we do it, the more His essence works its way into our hearts, transforming us from the inside out.

In all your busyness this week, please stop to spend some time sitting at Jesus’ feet. To be restored, to be replenished, to be cherished.

Be blessed my friends.

Notes:

1One of 34 ‘strengths’ identified in the Clifton StrengthsFinder® produced by The Gallup Organization, Washington, D.C. Jenn Giles Kemper, ‘Rule of Life’, Sacred Ordinary Days, undated, last accessed 18 August 2018, https://sacredordinarydays.com/pages/rule-of-life 3Rolland and Heidi Baker, Reckless Devotion: 365 Days of Inspiration, (Maidstone: River Publishing & Media Ltd, 2014) Day 134 4Richard Foster, Streams of Living Water, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2017), 86 5Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2008), 7

 


Seasons in Life

Images-5Hello, Ian from Sydney here.

“Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.” (Luke 5: 3-6 ESV)

The disciples were experienced fishermen. They knew the lake of Gennesaret intimately having fished it for years. We’re told they fished all night and caught nothing. And this relative newcomer whom they knew to NOT be a fisherman tells them to cast their nets out again. What would he know?  

A Love Affair

Jesus did and said things differently. He came with a message of love. A message that focused on the heart, the core of our humanness. When challenged by a Pharisee to identify what was most important, Jesus responded with two commands: “Love the Lord you God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39 ESV abr).

He’s called us into a love affair.

I find it easy to forget this. Especially with the busyness of life there are so many distractions to these two commands. As we all know being in relationships a love affair takes work. Lots of it. From both parties. We very easily get comfortable and settle into a way of life where perhaps the sizzle has diminished and we’re mostly satisfied with how our relationship is motoring along.

I find the same applies to our relationship with Jesus.

And then a bump in the road occurs which adds further distraction. Children come along and demand our attention. Lots of it. Sickness in the family, elderly parents needing caring, job transfers interstate or overseas, etc, etc. And all impact our love affair with our partner. And with our Lord.

Spiritual discernment

Usually when the bumps in the road occur our routines change. Spending that quality time together with your partner suddenly becomes harder. Time passes, perhaps lots of it, and you realise you haven’t had a date night for ages. Similarly, with the Lord. You know He’s always there but you’ve been so busy lately (doing good things) you just haven’t had any time to spend with him. You get to church and in the drive home commit to yourself to spend more time with the Lord in the next week. But, the next week comes and still nothing happens.

A couple of times in the last few weeks I’ve noticed something different in the story of the “burning bush.” Moses had been in the wilderness for forty years. He was going through the motions in life being a good faithful shepherd of his father-in-law’s flock. One day, he was leading the flock and “came to Horeb, the mountain of God.And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn asideto see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”” (Exodus 3: 2-4 ESV)

Moses could have ignored the unusual sight. No doubt it was a little frightening and many of us may have simply fled. But we’re told Moses chose to “turn aside.” God provided the burning bush so Moses could choose to enquire.

Only yesterday, I had an opportunity to spend time with two members of my prayer team. I rarely get to see them face to face as we mostly interact via email. There was a burning bush moment. But I chose to leave as I was tired and wanted to get home. All I had to do was simply enquire. It would have taken fifteen minutes of my time. Here was an opportunity for me to encourage and be encouraged. I knew immediately as I drove away I missed an opportunity.

Often we get caught up in the processes of living the Christian life: prayer times, Bible reading, meeting together, etc, rather than reflecting on how these are purely simply opportunities to allow the Lord to do His work. If we quickly read the required Bible reading for the day before rushing out and don’t spend any time reflecting on it, then we haven’t “turned aside”. We’ve simply gone through the motions. Read less verses and simply allow the Lord to open our eyes to what He might be saying to us.

Burning Bushes in every season

Irrespective of what season we’re in, God is there. He knows that we’re in a season of child-rearing, for example, and how time and energy consuming it is. But choose to believe there are moments when you can “turn aside” to look and He’ll be there. Because He loves us. He isn’t a lover that fails us. He is good all the time.

Sometimes the bush will be far more significant like Moses and the disciples experienced. They chose to “turn aside” and what they received was incredible. Moses heard his name called; the disciples caught a record haul of fish. This was the beginning of a whole new life for them. May we all respond similarly when the Lord opens a door for us.

Have any of you experienced a moment recently when you simply responded to a nudge from the Holy Spirit by turning aside to it and experienced something special?


There is always more with God

Free-waterfall-wallpaper
Photo courtesy of wallpaperlistings.com

Happy 4thof July to all my American friends. Ian from Down Under here.

For many years I’ve struggled with anxiety. It’s played an even more prominent role in my life the last 15 years that happened to coincide with my stepping away from the Corporate world into working for myself. What I’ve discovered those of us who struggle with anxiety is we all have our individual pressure points which can exacerbate or set-off moments of extreme stress. Interestingly, my big two have been associated with either public transport (planes, trains, buses) or people living in my house.

Disconnect with Faith

The latter pressure point always bothered me because we’re called to be hospitable.  And I want to be welcoming of people sharing our home. But my desire for control and ‘home being my safe place’ has often overridden the want to be hospitable. No, I don’t become a green ogre if you happen to be wondering but I tend to get easily agitated about the smallest things (eg, putting things back where you found them).

But I’m a Christian. I’m supposed to be hospitable. And I’m not supposed to struggle with anxiety. And then I used to go through downward spirals of thought questioning whether I really was a Christian and why couldn’t I trust God.

Yes, we Christians do suffer from anxiety and other mental health disorders. For most of my life I simply believed anxiety would be with me forever. From my earliest memories, mom dubbed me the ‘anxious one’ while my twin brother was the easy going one. Whenever the topic came up I simply responded by saying “well you’d be the anxious one if you had someone sitting on you for nine months in a cramped dark place.” Yes, I was the firstborn, it took Pete twenty minutes to figure out life was more fun with his brother than hanging around in the dark by himself. 

There’s an increasing presence in the media these days about people who struggle with anxiety. This is a positive step as it brings it and other mental health matters into the light. But often there’s an acceptance that anxiety will always be a constant in individuals lives and even that it can serve as a form of ‘superpower.’ I don’t doubt the latter; in fact, know from personal experience it has helped me in certain situations because anxious people’s ‘fight or flight’ response is usually easily stimulated. Further, anxious ones often have a more natural empathy for others and may more easily discern when others are in need.

Easy Yoke

What I do believe is that God’s heart for us is to not be anxious. He hasn’t made us to be anxious.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I amgentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

In the past couple of years I’ve been discovering how to walk in the ‘easy yoke.’ I’d reached a point where my anxiety was just impacting my life too much and frankly I’d had enough. So had my family.

So I stopped fighting it, befriended it in a way, and sought both medical and Godly help.

The Beloved

I understood in my mind I was the Lord’s Beloved, but I needed for that knowledge to get into my heart. Loving God has to be more than just an intellectual love just like loving our spouse and children has to be.  And I found diving into the Word was so pivotal to getting ‘this’ belovedness into my heart. For more than three years now I’ve been reading the Psalms. They are such a rich fountain of God’s love and are incredibly emotional expressing the full gamut of human emotions.

I’ve never been much for memorizing Scripture. But as I walk the dog each day I quote verses. For about a year I spoke Colossians 3:1-17 after taking a month to learn it (using James Bryan Smith’s excellent book) and now I’m walking praying Psalm 23 to myself and Beanie, our kelpie.

This memorization thing works. Scripture soaks into you, not simply into your mind but your heart.

And I got myself into a group of prayers, which I now lead. Community is so precious. I know you ladies know this. We blokes aren’t good at it and we need to be better.

Letting Go

In order to accept being the Lord’s Beloved, I needed to let go of some lies that many of us believe and has played a significant role in my desire for control which led to my anxiety.

1. We are NOT what we do.

This is a biggee for blokes. As we’ve talked about before we blokes hold on so tightly to our careers and gain so much of our sense of worth from it. I believe this was significant for me when I stepped out of the Corporate world as I no longer had a label that made me feel important.

2. We are NOT what we own or what we’ve achieved. 

The world has gone crazy with accumulating stuff and achievements. Keeping up with the Joneses is a full time job. Let it go. All of it.

3. We are NOT what others say about us 

We’ve all had some tough relationships. It might have been with our partner, or an ex-partner or our parents. And when we’ve heard something so many times its gets into our heart and we sub-consciously start believing it.

God loves each of us like crazy. He. Died. For. Us. That’s how much He loves us. 

There’s always More.

“… may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us …” (Ephesians 3:18-20 NKJV)

This verse has been buzzing around mind for the past few weeks. Throughout all my seasons of being anxiety-riddled I was constantly frustrated knowing that it was limiting my life. It stopped me doing things. Good things.

But what these verses tell us is there is always more with God. Most significantly, more of Him and His love. And it’s in that discovery that we are released for more.

Dive deep, dear friends. Deep into His river of love and faith.

I suspect there are others of us who have wonderful stories to share of self-discovery and the freedom it has brought. And also there will be some of us who are grappling with anxiety. Let us pray over you by writing a simple ‘ ‘Yes please’ in the comments.

For those of you enjoying a National Holiday, celebrate well and cuddle those you love.


Devotion by: Christine Smith

SUMite Christine Smith

Over the years I believe God has occasionally given me what I call an “image” that I then attempt to draw. I haven’t had one for years until this morning during my quiet pray time with Him. I decided to intentionally wait on Him instead of doing all the talking.

 I saw myself sitting in a rowboat, oars silently resting in the still waters, facing away toward an endless horizon of nothingness. This is me and my spiritually unequally yoked marriage. 

Then a second image came. 

I wasn’t alone after all! 

Jesus was right there with me all along!

That’s us ladies!  We’re not alone in this walk no matter how lonely it feels at times. He knows and He is with us. 

Blessings,

Christine

P.S. I’ve never been in a rowboat in my entire life!


Life Is Too Short to Live Any Way but Happy! By Lori Lyn Skipper

Welcome back to the adventures of Lori Lyn Skipper. My son, Brad, and I made it just fine after his dad left us because we had God on our side. Yes, there were definite struggles, but I had such a peace about me, Philippians 4:7 NLT: Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Lord called me to the ministry in 1998. I preached my first sermon in March 1999.  I eventually moved to Benton, IL by the leading of the Lord where I continued serving in the ministry. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, lupus, arthritis, and chronic degenerative disc disease.  In 2005, I almost died from these and other afflictions, such as Barrett’s esophagus and bleeding internally, but God! 

I know that by Jesus’ stripes I am healed because the Word of God tells me so in Isaiah 53:5. I have since been healed of many afflictions and diseases. There are some that I am still working on catching my healing, but it is well with my soul. I believe these are in direct relationship to the life I lived before Christ. Yes, I believe He will completely restore me, but I also believe I am suffering the consequences of my actions and need to walk some things out. I actually appreciate the miracles I’ve experienced more because of what I have to walk out.

 

Brian Lori Adult
Brian & Lori Reacquaint 2009

Not only did the Lord restore my soul but He restored my relationship with Brian in March 2009. I had sent letters numerous times to Brian via his grandmother’s address and never heard from him. In mid-2008, I located him via Myspace, prayed and sent him a message. About three weeks later, I received a response from him, he said he reread all of the letters I had sent him, but he was not ready for a relationship with me. 

Finally, in Feb of 2009 he said he was ready to meet for the first time since 1993. My family had a surprise birthday party for my mom on March 8, 2009. Brian came to become reacquainted with me and the rest of my family. Since that time, Brian and I have worked on developing a relationship. He now lives in Portland, OR but we stay in touch. The best part of all of this, he came to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior living in Missouri. He is currently not on fire for the Lord, but I believe he will be again one day, as well as my youngest son Brad will be also. In Jesus name!

                                  

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-06-17/c7a2b45b-2c1b-48b0-9f40-4a58cb1a6a5c.png
Brad & Lori - During Brad's service in the Marines

Fast forward to December 2015, I was not looking for a husband, but I met mine. John was not looking for a wife, but he found one. From the day we met, the Lord spoke to me that my husband was going to be an integral part in me fulfilling the dreams and calling the Lord has put on my life. My husband is a pre-believer, but I thank God every day for him. He is very supportive of me. He also encourages me in the new adventures I am on with the Lord. We have our struggles due to his life style, but I have learned when to speak up and when to let it go. I have learned to lay down boundaries and will not accept any disrespect towards me. When it has happened, I have been quick to nip it in the bud. I daily thank my husband for his support, encouragement, for his hard work to provide for our family, for his love for me and my sons, for doing dishes, taking out the garbage, whatever it may be. I thank him and let him know how much I appreciate him. It’s vital to our marriages to show love, honor, and respect.

Life is too short to live any way but happy. I have come to the place where I know who I am in Christ Jesus and I won’t accept anything less than His best for my life. I know in Whom I serve, and I don’t forget for one day Who He is or what He has done for me. 

I close with Lamentations 3:58 NKJV: “O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life.” Amen!

 

Lynn Donovan: Thank you Lori for your heart of love for our community and for your courage to share your story. Your life brings great honor to our Father. Well done good and faithful servant.  SUMites, give a shout out to Lori in the comments for sharing her heart with us. Hugs. Lynn


The Dichotomy of A Life, by Lori Lyn Skipper - Part II

Brad son Lori Lyn Skipper June 2018Welcome back! As a quick reminder, I moved to Springfield, IL in 1990. It was there that I met my son Brad’s dad.

The birth of Brad was so very different than when I gave birth to Brian. I was instantly protective of him. On June 26, 1996 my life took a major turn. Without going into every detail, I was hit by a train that day while driving my S10 pickup truck. I broke my neck in 2 places as well as my tailbone. I had multiple bruises, bit my tongue almost off and had a concussion. God in His great mercy spared my life.

A week after the wreck, while at home, I had a flashback and had a stroke; (the doctor said it was my body trying to protect itself because my brain perceived danger). I was paralyzed on the right side of my body and could hardly talk for several days. My sons’ dad refused to take care of me or our son.  The tables had turned, it was I that was raising our son alone, my youngest son was being neglected and I was the one being abused. I was living out Galatians 6:7-8: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

For all of those years, I had sown to the flesh and I was reaping corruption.

I eventually found my way back to church in November of 1996 where I met Jesus. He became the lover of my soul in January 1997. I would love to stop here and tell you, the day I became a born-again believer my life got 100% better and it became a bed of roses, but I would be lying to you. Life became more of a struggle for a season because here I was, a new Christian, my son gave his life to Christ in June 1997 and his dad was still an unbeliever.

The day I surrendered to Christ, my personal life changed 100%, no more drinking, no more drugs, no more pornography. I was no longer the person Brad’s dad knew me to be and that brought about its own problems. He did not want to hear about my new-found faith, nor did he want to attend church with us. He was happy with his life and wanted no part of mine. I became lonely and depressed. I felt torn between being with the man I loved and going back to my ‘former’ self or pressing on with the Lord I loved.

Brads dad reached the decision to move back to Springfield, IL without Brad & I. Brad was seven-years-old at the time and is now 27 years old. He and his dad still have a strained relationship due to his dads neglect while he was a young child.

Our children do suffer when one or both of their parents’ neglect, ignore or abuse them or the other parent. Again, it is up to us to protect our children. It may look different for each person, but we MUST protect our children.  I know this is resonating with several of you out there. Please know that you are not alone. Hear me “YOU ARE NOT ALONE!” God understands, He knows your pain, your struggle. He is walking through it with you.

As I write this, Father gave me this Scripture for one (or more) of you reading this right now;

Ezekiel 16:4-14. Verses 4-8 “As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. “And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God.

Hear the Word of the Lord, He has entered into a covenant with you and now is the time of love!

Stay tuned to hear about the miracles God has performed in my life! Until next time, love & blessings, Lori.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHi, Lori Lyn Skipper here! I’m happy to say I am 51 years young, married to my husband John. We have three grown children between the two of us. I have two boys and he has a daughter as well as a granddaughter. My husband and I married in June 2016. I moved to sunny Florida in 2012. I often say I’m an Illinois girl living in a Florida world. I came to meet Jesus in mid-1996 but did not accept Him as my Lord and Savior until January 1997. Let me tell you, He’s had His work cut out since I said yes to His call. I often envision God shaking His head at my antics. You know, how we do with our own children? I kind of resemble Paul, “the chief of sinners”. Well, I used to be, now I’m no longer a sinner, I’m a saint saved by grace that sometimes still sins. A couple of my passions are to see people healed, delivered, and set free by the power of Holy Spirit and the body walking in their gifts and calling of the Lord. Getting to be a part of that is so fun and such a blessing.

Lori Skipper Hosting


I Was A Drunk. What You Don't Know!

Hi All! Lori Skipper here.  

I’m not sharing the following for accolades for myself but to show the greatness of our God. When I say I am like Paul, “the chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), I am being very serious. I want to show you how God really does choose the foolish and weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27). I am a part of the SUM Sisters in Christ Facebook group and participate in conversations that I would like to delve a litter deeper. So, while Lynn is away, I’m stepping in for a few posts.

I’ve lived through a lot in my past, thusly, I’ve gained wisdom through the school of hard knocks. It took me many years of running away from faith before I finally surrendered to Christ. OK, put on your seat-belts, keep both hands and feet in the ride until it comes to a complete stop, things are about to get bumpy…

I began drinking at a very young age, age of four or five, every weekend. When I was nine years old, my mom kicked my brother and I out. We moved in with my dad and stepmom. I began using drugs in the 5th grade. It started out with speed and by the time I was 18, I was using marijuana and cocaine.  I was drinking pretty regularly by the age of 14, stealing it from my dad’s liquor cabinet and keger.  By the time I was 18 years old I was a full-fledged alcoholic and by the time I was 19 years old, I was a drug dealer.   

I was abused physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually as a young child and never experienced the love of a parent as a child.

Brian son or Lori Lynn SkipperI had a son, Brian, at the age of 20 and unfortunately even his young life wasn’t enough to change me.  I gave full custody of Brian to his dad because I knew Brian would be better off with him because of my life style.

I know what I just shared is hard to swallow. I can hear the thoughts of judgement running through your brain right now, “How could she give up her son? What kind of woman would give up her child?” The kind of woman that was so lost in her sin that she couldn’t find her way out.

Well, I was the kind that was seeking and looking for love and acceptance in every fashion but the love of God.

You see, I did not grow up in a Christian environment. Sure, I was dropped off at Sunday School and went to Christian camps as a child. I even went to Mass every Saturday night from the time I was 13 until I was 18 with my best friends. But I did not know God or even remember hearing about His Son Jesus. I was a living example of 2 Corinthians 4:4 Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

I was blinded, I was lost. I still saw Brian on a regular basis for a couple of years until 1993. It was at that point when his dad no longer allowed me to see him anymore. The weird part of that was, when I made the move to Springfield, IL in 1990, I actually quit drinking and using drugs. But, it was too late for his dad, he no longer had any trust left regarding me or my stability. I couldn’t really blame him, up to that point, I was a drunk, a cheat and a lousy mother. Reaping what I had sown all those years.

I want to stop here and share with you ladies and men that are dealing with a spouse that is neglecting your children, or perhaps abusing your children, I have been there. I was the one who neglected my son. I was the one who abused my son, not physically, but emotionally. I was the one who abandoned my son. I, unfortunately, can relate with your spouse. I know the pain and emptiness they are carrying around inside of themselves. I know deep inside, they do NOT want to behave the way they are with your children or even you. They are lost, they are blinded. They are looking for love and acceptance everywhere but in God. They are seeking to fill the void inside of themselves with video games, pornography, alcohol, work, drugs, (put the bondage in this space), etc.

They need Jesus.

Just because I can relate or understand does not mean I am making excuses for them. It’s quite the opposite, I beg you to protect your children. Just as Brian’s dad protected him from me, protect your children. You DO NOT need to submit yourself or your children to abuse. You alone can protect your children. Yes, pray for Gods protection! But, you are their mother, you are their dad. God entrusted those dear ones in your care. They are His gift to you. Take care of them, protect them. You may not need to go to the extremes my son’s dad did and prevent your spouse from seeing them but seek Godly counsel and wisdom on what action steps you need to take.

Stay tuned; to be continued Monday.

Lori Lyn Skipper 

Lori
Lori Lyn Skipper

Hi, Lori Lyn Skipper here! I'm happy to say I am 51 years young, married to my husband John. We have three grown children between the two of us. I have two boys and he has a daughter as well as a granddaughter.  My husband and I have been married two years this upcoming June. I live in Sunny Florida. I moved here in 2012. I often say I'm an IL girl living in a Fl world. I came to meet Jesus in mid-2016 but did not accept Him as my Lord and Savior until January 1997. Let me tell you, He's had His work cut out since I said yes to His call. I often envision God shaking His head at my antics, you know, how we do with our own children. I kind of resemble Paul, "the chief of sinners". Well, I used to be, now I'm no longer a sinner, I'm a saint saved by grace that sometimes still sins. A couple of my passions are to see people healed, delivered and set free by the power of Holy Spirit and the body walking in their gifts and calling of the Lord. Getting to be a part of that is so fun and such a blessing.  


Kathi Lipp Guest on Let's TALK LIVE

SUMite Nation,

Tomorrow, June 13th, on our SUM Facebook page at 12:00 (noon) Pacific, my wonderful friend, Kathi Lipp will be our guest on Let's TALK LIVE. 

We are going to chat about one of her new projects, Get Yourself Organized. It will be a blast. Plan to tune in and participate in the comments. I will be giving away two copies of Kathi's books, The Husband Project & The Marriage Project. And a free copy of her Get Yourself Organized. So lucky SUMites who comment during the live broadcast will be winners. 

Plan to tune in LIVE and enjoy our conversation and get yourself organized this summer. Hugs, Lynn

 


Turning Up Each Day

Dove-dream
Image courtesy of Dreamstop.com

One of the key points I make to people who ask me for some advice on writing is the importance of turning up each day. Don’t wait for inspiration to come before you start writing, it only comes when you start. It’s surprisingly magical and wonderful what words, phrases, character traits, etc etc you never expected to write suddenly appear on the page in front of you.

The same applies to our spiritual walks.

Pentecost Sunday

This is a subject that’s been on my heart and mind for a couple of weeks. It started after Pentecost Sunday (50 days after Easter Sunday) and we had a special time in church, one I even experienced watching online. My Pastor decided to have a second Pentecost Sunday the following weekend and once again, the Spirit turned up in a special way.

If we look back at the first Pentecost Sunday in Acts 2 we find the disciples and an extended group of 120 or so who obediently adhered to one of Jesus’ last statements to them not to depart from Jerusalem and to wait for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).

They had positioned themselves to receive the Holy Spirit.

And sure enough just as Jesus said, the Holy Spirit landed. And how He landed:

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2: 2-4) 

Jesus’ Example

We’re all familiar with how Jesus lived a life of contemplation and action. He spent the early hours of his day meeting with the Father. This prepared him for the day. And then he headed out on his day with the intention of fulfilling the will of the Father.

It’s such a wonderful example of us in how to walk through our days. Yes, Jesus didn’t have a spouse nor children to care for but he was entirely focused on doing the will of the Father.

I believe this is how the Father wants us to live too.

But we gotta turn up each day and position ourselves to hear everything He has for us. And He will turn up as we’re told in James 4:8: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” He wants us to choose Him. Every day.

But it doesn’t have to be first thing because mornings are often hectic times for families. It might simply be waiting in the school pickup line at the end of school, it might be over the stove cooking dinner or over the washing machine as one does the laundry. He will draw near when (not if) we draw near to Him. Wherever, whenever.

I’m trying to be more intentional in positioning myself to receive. And little by little I see a little bit of magic happen. Just like when I turn up to the PC and write.

Why not try it.

Blessings, my dear friends.


SUMites Summit on the Summit by Libby

When I was paying for the SUM community, Holy Spirit started downloading words and pictures into my soul for us! So, in prayer, I grabbed my pen and sketch pad and let Holy Spirit flow through me. This is the first time I have ever done this, and let me tell you, it was awesome and I want more!!! I really hope that the photo at the end of this post expresses it properly (best viewed on laptop/pc). I pray that God will bless you through it and reveal to you in your heart what He wants you to know :) 

I believe He is calling together an army from across the nations to join forces together against evil. In the spiritual realm we are together and we are kicking up noise! An uproar against satan and his wicked plans. The angels can hear us and they rejoice! The demons can hear us and they flee! Other believers can hear us and they join us! 

Holy Spirit led me to this scripture for the SUMITE ARMY:

"Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles. I have commanded those I prepared for battle; I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath — those who rejoice in my triumph. Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The Lord Almighty is mustering an army for war. They come from faraway lands, from the ends of the heavens — the Lord and the weapons of his wrath — to destroy the whole country." Isaiah 13:2-5

Then, knowing I am a word nerd, He led me to contemplate "Sumite" and how similar it is to "Summit". I got super excited! Look at the dictionary definition of Summit and how it ties in with this scripture! 

1 - The highest point of a hill or mountain. (God is calling the Sumites to the Summit of the mountains/hills)

1.1 - The highest attainable level of achievement. (God is the highest of the highest. We are victors through him)

2 - A meeting between leaders (we are being called to converge at the Sumite Summit on the summit!!!) 

Holy Spirit then blew me away and as I prayed, it was as though He downloaded these prophetic words to me for all the Sumites:

The Sumite army is rising up! This army has been amassed from across the world, and now it is time to join together and wage war! Listen to the sound of the horn calling you! Move forward inch by inch to take back the land that the enemy has stolen! It is our land - it rightfully belongs to us through Christ - and it is time to march forward and reclaim it. We belong to God, He has called us by name, we are His chosen army. Rise up to take back land and free the captives of the enemy (our unsaved loved ones) who will then join the army and be mighty soldiers for God. Who better to make a powerful and effective fighter than one who has been held as a prisoner of war?! 

The battle is the Lord's. He goes before us and fights for us. He sends angelic armies to join forces with us. Trust Him. We fight from a position of victory! He has already overcome the enemy. Wave His banner high over you, blow the shofar, sing praises, dance and worship! The ground will shake and tremble. Mountains will crumble. Chains will be broken. Prison cells will be unlocked. We will spill the enemy's blood. Angelic armies are joining forces with us and fighting for us. Be fierce and forceful in battle, your strength comes from the Lord God Almighty and he has given us every provision we need to win. We are victors, we are overcomers, we are more than conquerors. 

Our battle plan and strategy are given through His word. Remember, put on the full armour - this is essential - and keep your shield of faith high and declare hedges of protection around your families and your households. Use your weapon - the sword of the Spirit, His anointed word, which is sharper than a double-edged sword, the most powerful weapon which no enemy can withstand. Follow Jesus' example when He was attacked and tempted by the devil - He declared the Holy Word and did not enter into negotiation. Know your enemy. Know his deceitful tricks and strategy - knowledge is power. What are your weakest points? Where is he likely to press? Is there anything that could compromise your hedge of protection?  Pray for discernment and wisdom and God will answer you and deliver you. 

We have the organization needed in our ranks: generals, officers, watchmen, gatekeepers and foot soldiers. If you are battle wounded and weary and can't be on the front line right now that is okay. But, pray for the army and you can regain your strength so that you can join the fight on the front lines. The way to stop becoming battle weary is to rest in His love and peace. Worship Him. Draw close to Him. Speak to each other in hymns and prayers. If anyone falls down, then the rest of the army should surround them and encourage them. When the generals and leaders are fatigued, foot soldiers should carry them. When a comrade is injured, tend to them. This battle is real - the Sumites are already experiencing the attacks of the enemy and some are wounded in battle. BUT, the enemy may be able to superficially wound us, but he cannot beat us or kill us and he knows it. We are each sealed by Holy Spirit and stamped through and through as God's child. Do not be afraid. Do not tremble before the enemy. God did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. He has blessed you with every spiritual blessing. He has given us everything we need. Use it and put the enemy back in his place! 

The enemy is trembling, he knows his time is nearly up and he will now amass all his forces in every last ditch attempt to defeat us. But, we shall not be defeated! Stand guard. Stand firm. Press on. Know we are victors through Christ. Prepare for victory and celebration. God's glory will be sung throughout the land and our victorious cries will resound in heaven!!!

Libby xxx

Libby Finan SUM Army May 2018