This post is for the weary. This post is for those who have been in the trenches and can’t feel their toes, their nose, and struggle at times to think clearly. This post is for those who feel hope draining from their future, and dreams appear dashed.
This post is for all the warriors of the Kingdom of light!
Sit down, sip your java or tea, buckle in because our Jesus is about to love on you.
My dear child, You are NOT alone. I haven’t abandoned you and left you to live a life without hope. I am in the very room with you protecting and comforting when there is conflict, discord and demonic interference. I perceive as words of condemnation fly about your mind. And yet you continue to press into the life-giving words of truth that I speak from the Holy Word of God.
Believe MY WORDS. They are life!
You have wrestled with doubt and despair but arise each morning into the newest of mercies that I purchased for you. You are on my heart. I delight in your children. I even love that ornery spouse who behaves without honor or sensibilities toward you at times.
I know you feel you fail many times. Hear me now, you don’t. You wade through the unknown and the frightening with such courage and conviction, determined to bring the best to your home, your family and your heart.
Lay down your self-criticisms and the word curses and false accusations spoken toward you by others. Hear My truth:I approve of you. You are living your best effort and as you arise every morning to face more hardship, I am holding your hand. I literally stand with you throughout the day and whisper truth, hope and love into your heart and I change your life.
You are braver than you will ever know this side of heaven. Your prayers over power all the blackest of assignments from the hellish demons. You arise and bring with you hope for your family, your church and community.
This brings me the greatest joy!!!!!
I offer you a glimpse into your future. Hear me say unto you this day: WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANTS. Enter into the Father’s rest.
I am your Savior, your Shepherd, your Rabbi, your Bridegroom Prince. All is well my beloved. All is well!
My friends, this flew off my fingers. I’m humbled to have written it. I believe every word for myself and for you. Hallelujah.
It was awesome to spend time speaking with Maria Rodrigues in London, England. Maria is the host for Woman to Woman show on Premier Christian Radio. It was a fantastic interview. Thank you, Maria. You are a woman who God loves. Hope you can listen in as Maria and I discuss the real issues related to unequally yoked marriages. Hugs, Lynn
Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What a year 2020 has been so far! Ian from wintry Sydney here. Be assured that those of us who don’t live in America are weeping for the people of that great nation and we continue to cry out to God believing for a wave of peace to sweep across that great land.
As Ann shared on Monday, it was Pentecost Sunday this past weekend. For a few months now many millions from all around the globe have been believing for a shaking, a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and increased boldness amongst believers to share the good news of Jesus. What we do know is that more people have been praying, more people have been attending online church services and more people have been declaring Jesus as their Savior. Hallelujah.
Hope in the Waiting
“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”
Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV)
We are waiters, we Sumites, aren’t we? Most of us have been waiting for our spouses to come to know Jesus for many years. And we’ve seen some wonderful stories amongst the group in recent times of our hope bearing fruit.
For many of us, our families and our friends these past few months and perhaps even in the past few days, dreams have been dashed. I know of friends who’s special (first holiday in a decade) anniversary trips have had to be postponed, another friend told me the other day their hubby lost their job, while the scenes around the world have increased the burden on so many younger people who have real concerns about what the future looks like for them.
We can draw comfort knowing that Jesus waits with us. He stands alongside us. Yes, we wonder why He doesn’t just fix it, even a little thing, but God has made a world that is self-operating and often it breaks down.
The Bible is full of nature analogies. And they’re important for us to understand. Jesus loved to consider vines, trees, roots, seeds and fruit. God made us to go deep like trees, with our roots continuously reaching through the soil for nutrients that the Spirit gives us and in persisting in faith, hope and love the fruit will naturally come.
“For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant.” (Job 14:7-9 NKJV)
If we continue in faith, hope and love as 1 Corinthians 13 exhorts us to, a touch of the Holy Spirit (nee ‘scent of water’) will produce the fruit and bring refreshment in this difficult season. The examples in the Bible are too numerous to mention and we ourselves can see evidence of fruit and refreshment when we look back at our own lives through other difficult seasons.
But the greatest of these Is Love.
Jesus isn’t simply one who loves, He is love. As Thomas Goodwin says, “Christ is love covered over in flesh.” Incredibly, in having the Holy Spirit within us we too are love covered in flesh. (Say that to yourself: ‘I am love covered in flesh’ Say it again and again and again until you believe it).
It is in these difficult seasons we can choose to grumble or be grateful, be fearful or hopeful, be angry or peaceful, and hate or love. Choose love, even if it’s through gritted teeth. Remember God is mostly interested in what’s in our heart so actions that are not initiated by love kinda don’t really count for a great deal in God’s economy.
The more we choose love, the more it becomes a habit. And the more it will become the way we act, speak and think. Jesus could only act the way He did because of what was in His heart. A heart of love. Just love. So He acted always out of love.
Besides the arrival of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2 shares with us the beginnings of the modern church. Our church. It was a church that was multi-cultural, made up of people from different socio-economic levels, men and women, who were united in declaring Jesus as Lord. In love, they wanted to share the news and so they reached out to other groups, not just those they were familiar with, and with faith and hope in their hearts they boldly declared Jesus is alive.
Dear friends, please share in the comments if there are particular needs and/or dreams that you’ve had dashed in these recent times so we as a SUMITE family can gather around you in faith, hope and love interceding for you to the Lord. We are a family spread around the globe united in our waiting and hope for each other’s spouses to come to personally know Jesus.
Today, as we enter our umpteenth week of staying home I thought I would share a personal story. I think I got an inkling last year about this whole Coronavirus thing, but didn't understand it. I know a couple of others who had the same thing happen. See what you think of this:
It all began when my kitchen got ripped out last October. This old kitchen was in a shocking state. Bryce and I had allowed it to go too far. However, we finally got ourselves moving, made our plans, and the day came. Builders arrived and within hours the kitchen was gone. Left in its place was a cold, dusty hole. That same day, Bryce had to leave on a week-long work trip.
“I’ll be fine without the kitchen!” I thought. After all, how hard could it be?
Day one progressed with no sink, dishwasher, or oven. Within hours this was no fun. By day two, I’m sorry to say I was unhinged. The continual rounds of washing-up water I was lugging from the bathtub did it. I'm sure many of you have been there. It is surprisingly difficult to live without a kitchen.
“I’m sorry boys,” I would say to my two kids as I tucked them in, day after day, a less-than-perfect mother. “It’s the kitchen, it's making me feel so unhinged!!”
I kept trying to remember that compared to women in centuries past I was fortunate to have running water. This should have helped, but it didn't. I really was not prepared, then, to hear the following whisper from God:
“Ann, in the near future your home is going to be spiritually renovated and you're going to feel like this for a while. Be prepared.”
Gah! Really? My reaction was "Whatever You say Lord, I'll accept it!" But my mind began to wonder and I began to ask Him more. What did it mean? A couple of days later, this came to me:
“This coming change is about people being fed.
There are many, many people to be fed.
Like a new kitchen, this new thing will give you fresh ability to feed others.”
We don’t always understand what God is saying until we look back. I carried this sense of impending change for months, but I look back today and think perhaps it was about this lock-down season. Whatever it meant, this mysterious kitchen analogy gave me a sense that a new thing was occurring. And that I would feel the same as I did during that renovation -- Under some pressure.
So here we are, friends. Under pressure. We've all had things ripped away from us, much like the kitchen. For me it’s my freedom. How about you? I’m quickly learning to let go, and I'm understanding that I need to let God work in me during this pivotal time. All the while, my eyes are on Him. I can't take them off Him.
I say that last bit because the above words weren’t the only ones I heard. I don’t think God gives us a heads-up about tough stuff without also giving a promise. So here’s what I heard next:
You’ll cope, Ann; you have people on your side, and you have all you need: Sweet words and soothing medicine.
Sweet words. Soothing medicine. God. His words are sweet like honey is sweet and they are life. As for the new thing ahead, I think of it like my new kitchen which is now in place. Earlier today, Bryce and I were pottering there and he smiled at me, "It’s worked out, this kitchen, hasn’t it?" My reply: "I love it!"
Friends, I believe there is new stuff ahead and it's something sparkly. Will it make our hearts leap with joy? Is it Revival? Will it be our family and friends turning to God? How amazing would that be! We may well be saying, "I love it, I love it!"
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).
Bless you, SUM family! How are you doing, and what are you learning to ‘let go’ of at this time?
We will worship together and then the five of us will share short messages and then I will wrap up the service. I want to share what our Good Father is doing in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak. And also tell you what God is revealing to me about what is to unfold in the months that follow our Stay-at-home weeks.
It's bigger than you think!!! Also, we will take communion so have your elements ready. A piece of bread and a grape will work. Any bread and juice. I'm going to explain something about communion that most people don't know.
Also,have you listened to all the videos and worked through the Field Guides I created on MarchingAroundJericho.com? Please hop over there and listen in. And if you have, consider supporting the ministry and purchase the next series of videos and Field guides. It all goes to support the ministry.
Here is what you will learn about in the next series. And I'll tell you the Holy Spirit video is a demonstration of God's power. AND PS. God told me to demonstrate and God showed up. I'm still freaked out and it all happened to me.
The Power of Forgiveness
Spiritual Authority In Christ Jesus
Spiritual Power and Partnering With the Holy Spirit
Lynn here. I wanted to check in on everyone. Our house is feeling the strain of the shut-in as we go into week three. Two weeks and we are feeling a bit stir crazy. You?
I want to share a story with you. About a week ago I found myself sitting with my phone in the morning reading a news site that captures headlines from major news sources around the world. Here are a few from today:
Heart Attack? No, It Was Coronoavirus
Bill Gates warns lock-down could last 10 WEEKS
AMAZON DELIVERY GUY DELIBERATELY SPITS ON PACKAGE
One dies every 17 minutes
Rhode Island Police Hunt Down New Yorkers Seeking Refuge
These are somewhat tame from last week.
So here is what happened. I was reading these apocalyptic headlines and found myself growing uncomfortable, even a tiny bit fearful. Will I catch this virus? I'm not typically fearful of much, but a strange uncomfortableness began to reside within.
This week the Lord spoke to me, "Lynn, why are you reading these lies?" You know much of this is over sensationalized news to attract readers. You are reading all of this and it's affecting your soul and this weakens your immune system. Also, Lynn, AM I not your healer and YOUR TRUTH?"
What is a bummer is that I now wished I HAD STOPPED reading them last week because I broke out with a virus, Shingles, for the first time ever. SAY WHAT????? Good grief. I've nearly prayed them into submission but I believe God was providing me with real time lessons about faith. I was allowing so many lies and destructive "what-ifs" into my mind, and soul that it manifested in my body. (Lord, have mercy.)
My friend, what are you reading?
What are you listening to?
Don't get me wrong, we need to be informed and vigilant. But do we need to add more to our soul that we can't control or healthily process? Is the INTERNET BREAKING? No, it's slower, much slower than usual. Is our world out of control? No, it's in an unprecedented time but there are smart people on task working hard. Our world is filled with dedicated doctors, nurses, grocery store personnel, brave delivery people, and everyday ordinary people who are sewing masks and checking on neighbors.
God isn't surprises by this AT ALL!
STOP allowing the doom and gloom in and protect your heart. Protect your body and strengthen your immune system. ---> This is my message to myself. Ahem! Sheesh!
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
Put down the phone. Read the WORD. Smile, love and stand in faith. Rebuke the virus from entering into your home and touching your family.
We will get through this. And when it ends and it will - Every game will sell out, every restaurant will have a two hour wait, every kid will be glad to be in school, everyone will love their job, the stock market will soar, every other house will get TP'd, and we'll all embrace and shake hands.
That's gonna be a pretty good day. Rise up SUMITE Nation. Let's lean into truth and BELIEVE for the miracles that surround us today. With Love, Lynn
The Christmas season comes around every year and for many of us it’s kind of the same-old-same-old. Yes, the specialness of the season are the traditions of it and doing the same things every year. We put up the same tree and decorations, listen to the same Christmas music, have the same family mealtimes, attend the various end of year gatherings and church services and so on.
The busyness of it and the stress of battling through all the shopping crowds, the cooking of all the food and keeping the house clean can serve to distract us. We consciously decide to stay positive and not allow the stress to affect us or the awkward family moments we often experience.
And before we know it, it’s over for another year. We collapse on our lounges having eaten too much and exhausted from the intensity of our family gatherings. For an introvert like myself I’m hankering to get back into my cave to recharge.
Advent can simply be another tradition. We light the candles at the appropriate times, pick up an Advent-dedicated devotional and even perhaps follow the alternate lectionaries of Bible readings. Like any ‘practice’ we can simply go through the motions. I know I’m regularly guilty of doing exactly that.
I especially love Advent. However, I need to be very intentional to ensure it’s simply not another tradition that I ‘do’ because it makes me feel good. I don’t want to simply go through the motions.
Advent is a season of waiting. Waiting for an “arrival” (which is what the word, Advent means) of the Messiah. Waiting generally is uncomfortable, isn’t it? It’s uncomfortable because it means we’re not in control. I was only sitting on a plane today thinking we were about to take off when we’re advised that three passengers hadn’t checked in. Arggh. I just want to get home. So we wait. Fifteen minutes pass (which feels like an hour) and two of the three sheepishly head down the aisle sensing the boring eyes of every passenger they pass. We wait some more. Until finally a decision is made to go without the remaining one. I wonder how many of us spared a thought for the passenger left behind or in our hearts were simply glad to be on our way?
The Israelites were used to waiting. What 400 years before the arrival of Jesus? We SUMites are used to waiting too, aren’t’ we? Waiting for the many prayed prayers for the salvation of our dearly loved spouses to be answered. We should be experts at it, shouldn’t we?
We can choose to walk through Advent with hopeful expectation. Maybe Christmas will be difficult for whatever reason which makes us apprehensive. But we can keep our minds and hearts on the good news of Jesus. He is the liberator, the lover of our souls and we can choose to use these days to intentionally go deeper with Him.
“In him was life,and that life was the lightof all mankind.The light shines in the darkness,and the darkness has not overcome[it.” (John 1:4-5 NIV)
Jesus is the light. And as these verses tell us He shines in the darkness. May I encourage you to take a few moments today or tomorrow or the next day to identify the places in your life where you might be struggling to find God. Where are the places of darkness? These can be scary places because we worry that Jesus won’t show up. So here’s what we’ll do:
Once you’ve identified a dark place, invite Jesus into it. Picture Him walking into the room, holding your hand. Every time you sense darkness, invite Jesus to come into. Our friend, Martha, actually spends each morning siting in the dark communing with God awaiting the light of the morning sunrise. It’s a wonderful practice to mirror this exercise.
Be assured that He is with you. Be assured that He hears all of our prayers, all those prayers we’ve prayed for the salvation of our spouses and loved ones. Encourage yourself with the words of Psalm 56:8 –
“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.”
Spending moments of stillness where it’s just you and God are particularly special in this season. I’ve recently started using an App that Ransomed Heart have released. It’s simply called “One Minute Pause”. Go check it out – it’s free. Here’s the link to the Apple version but there is also an Android one, just search for it in the Android app store: - https://apps.apple.com/app/id1471913620
Come, let us adore Him, Jesus that is, this season. Let’s be intentional with hope in our hearts. Blessing, dear friends. I’ll be checking in midway during the month with a second post on Advent.
Perhaps in the meantime let’s share with each other what we’re hoping for this Christmas. I’m hoping for complete healing for my brother, John, who is walking through a stem cell transplant to keep lymphoma at bay. Unfortunately, he will be spending Christmas in a hospital isolation ward.
Sunday, September 29th is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. We've talked about this Jewish holiday over the years. In fact, the first time I'd ever been made aware of it's significance was because of a blog post from either Lynn or Dineen. For those who are not familiar or are new to this holiday, a simple "Rosh Hashanah" search on this site will provide you with a wealth of information. Feel free to check out the archives!
My prayer for us today is that we will each take away something fresh and new. Holy Spirit, reveal to us the heartbeat of God. Amen!
Rosh Hashanah isn't actually a biblical holiday but a traditional Jewish holiday. The term "Rosh Hashanah" means "head of the year" and is celebrated as the Jewish New Year. This is a two-day celebration that proceeds Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
In the beginning of this month, the Lord really pressed upon me to watch Patty Tower's talk that was given at the SUMite Summit this last April. I decided to go back and watch it again. (I will provide a link below so you can revisit that as well. It is absolutely worth a re-watch!)
As I sat down to think about Rosh Hashanah and what I would include in this post, I went back to my notes from Patty's message. There is so much good in this message but I want to point out one theme:
Joshua 6 - God gives specific instructions about the destruction and taking of the city of Jericho. In verse 20 we see the result of following God's plan and not their own: "So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city."
Patty called us to march around our house 7 times and shout, declare, pray and praise things into existence. It was in the great shout that the walls fell flat down.
Rosh Hashanah isn't in the Bible; however, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, is. Let's take a look.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ ” - Leviticus 23:23-25
The Hebrew word, Teruah, in Leviticus for blowing trumpets is the same word used in Joshua 6 where they shouted with a great shout. The first day of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, is a day of blowing trumpets or shouting.
Notice what else it says in Leviticus about this day - you shall have a sabbath-rest. Yom Teruah happens to fall on a Sunday. The day we, as children of God, call our sabbath!
So, why is this important for us? If we are not Jewish, what is the point of celebrating this time of year?
We've already seen in our community some amazing things worth celebrating. Many professions of faith and baptisms with our spouses, children or others we love. Libby gave us a beautiful word about the SUMite community with her picture of the mountain. The SUMite Summit where some gathered in California being at the top and from that trickle, the waters of our faith continued to pool together to create a river at the bottom.
I truly believe something was activated in the heavenlies and we have set off a chain reaction. The enemy has been stirred to anger and we have seen much push back from illness, discord with our spouses and children, financial struggles, backsliding, strongholds etc.
However, I truly believe that God is calling His children deeper. I believe that He is stirring in us a hunger and thirst that can no longer be quenched by fear, pain or opposition tactics from the enemy. I believe that NOW is the time for us to press in all the more into the God of Miracles. NOW is the time to storm the gates of Heaven for our spouses, children, our complete freedom and healing. I believe that NOW is the time for us to suit up and prepare for battle.
There is a shifting going on right now. As we are in this transition period, it is up to US if we are going to take God at His word - for our destinies, purposes, signs, miracles and wonders. We cannot afford to give up or give in. The future of generations to come hangs in the balance. It sounds intense but don't worry! Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
There is so much more I could say but I've gone on a little long.
As we approach this Jewish New Year, what are the things you are coming to the Throne of Grace for? What do you hope to see in this new season?
Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! -- Psalm 47:1 (Shout here is the root word of teruah ::grin::)
We are going to shake the heavens and the earth with our shouts! In the comments, give a mighty shout to the Lord. Thank Him for the victory you've been praying and waiting for! Decree and declare that these prayers are answered in Jesus' mighty name! Now it is up to you to take Him at His word. Trust. Believe. Wait and see. God is so good. And He is worthy of the wait. Hugs!
As many of you know, I have been on a journey into worship flagging.
On February 9, 2019, I received my flags in the mail. I may have been a little excited. ::grin::
Psalm 47:7 (NKJV) says, "For God is the King of all the earth. Sing praises with understanding." On February 20, 2019, I decided to write scripture verses on my flags as a reminder of why I dance. Using this same principle, it is my goal to always dance with understanding.
A couple of months ago, I went to a worship and prayer night at my church. I grabbed my flags to begin to worship the Lord and I noticed something odd about how they were laying in the bag. Once they were out of the bag and I began to unwrap them, I noticed that the rods were snapped in half. I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest. I was devastated. In that moment, I asked God, "Why?!" (Isn't it interesting how quick we are to blame God for our misfortunes?)
It was in the stillness of the room, as Holy Spirit settled upon us in worship, that I heard very clearly, "Broken is still beautiful. Broken is still usable."
I tried using the flags but it just wasn't working so I figured it was word meant for someone else in the room and mentioned it to the group.
Fast forward weeks later, I had been trying to use flags that were available for worship at church. Things just weren't flowing the way they did with my own flags. I couldn't seem to adjust to how these small and inflexible flags moved. I eventually decided this was a season of no flagging. I couldn't afford to fix them or buy new ones. All the while I had people mentioning how they missed seeing me flag. The "you were made to worship" quotes were another sting in my already broken heart.
A couple of days ago while lying in bed, Holy Spirit spoke to me again, "Broken is still beautiful. Broken is still usable." I missed flagging. It helps me to focus in on the heartbeat of God. I thought, "Yes Lord, I know. You've told me." It was then that I had received messaged from two different people about flagging. One was looking to sell her flags. Another had sent me a worship flag video. I could feel Holy Spirit wooing me. "Let's dance."
I got out of bed. The rest of the house was silent and sleeping. I couldn't resist Him any longer. It was in the darkness of my living room that I took out my flags and I began to worship. With broken flags and a broken spirit I moved, I spun, I jumped, I bent and I twirled. Oh what a joy to see the shadows of my flags moving in a beautiful rhythm. Holy Spirit and I dancing and interceding together once again.
You see, the problem was not with my flags. The problem was not in the word I received from God. The problem was with my expectation. With every adjustment in life there is a period where you have to do just that - adjust. In every new season we step into, we have to realize that we cannot do things the same way we did in the previous season. The old has gone, the new has come.
God never told me to stop flagging. This was a distraction from the enemy. During those months when I did not flag, I felt heartbroken. The first issue was that I had made my flags my identity. The broken flags helped me to realize this. The second issue is that I had put a commentary on the word that God had spoken over my flagging. I assumed they were broken and therefore, I had to either replace them or quit all together. But God! Broken is still beautiful. Broken is STILL USABLE.
One thing I should mention, God told me I am not to fix my flags. This is to serve as a reminder that I am broken. I am beautiful. I am valuable. I am usable.
Let's talk in the comments. I wonder, have any of you ever heard a word from the Lord but put your own spin on it? I pray I am not alone. How did you navigate back to the word God gave you? Do any of you feel too broken to be usable? Let's pray together. I want to pour into you today.
This is a familiar road to me, perhaps to you as well. We arrive in this desolate place by many different vehicles and at various speeds.
I have ambled down this road in a slow, painful progression, via a loss of a friendship. I have slammed into the road sign, leaving it flat on the pavement, after screeching to a halt. I look around bewildered at my arrival once again. Pride usually facilities this crash. I have followed Christ, with absolute certainty of His leading, only to take up residence once again next to the familiar roadblock because I didn’t trust Him completely.
Arrival on Dead-End Street brings the inevitable questions: Why? What purpose does this serve, God?
The question to ask is not why. The question to ask is, God what are you up to?
James 1:5-6 (New International Version) 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Ask Him about it. In many instances, God has future Kingdom work so intense and fantastic we would fear it and run. It is in the waiting that we are prepared to climb to the next plateau. Living on Dead-End Street forges a soul of Christlike character. Life is not about us. It is about Him. God utilizes our dead-end to magnify Himself.
Romans 11:36 (New International Version) 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
The holding pattern teaches us to set aside our ambitions and help others. God works through people. If we are flying down life’s highway screaming past the befuddled bystanders, we can’t possibly show them Jesus. God is revealed when we enrich another’s life, a child, our spouse, a stranger, and especially others stranded on Dead-End Street. If we refuse to slow down willingly, God will unquestionably find a way to do it for us.
1 Timothy 2:4 (New International Version) 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
It is at the dead-end where God will pursue us, change us, and grow us. Are you stuck on Dead-End Street right now?
If so, YOU ARE ON HOLY GROUND!
Jeremiah 29:11(New International Version) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Lord, we are standing on holy ground in your presence waiting. Reveal your desire for our lives and character while we abide in this desolate place. Keep our memory strong. Never allow us to forget the lessons learned here. Let us find peace in the promise that you want to give us a hope and a future. In Jesus name, Amen.
It’s my turn to write this week and I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you a crazy story. I hope it makes you smile.
Back in April, after our ‘Hear the Roar’ conference, I landed home with a spinning head. So much had happened, and I had a sense that it was truly a new season in this ministry. I was also unwell during that time, so once home I spent hours in bed. Those sick days turned into quality time with God, and I lay with three great things: prayer, pen, and notepad.
On one such day I lay pondering and scribbling when suddenly God interrupted me with the most random phrase. Call me nuts, but this is what I heard:
He was called Snake but his legacy is different.
I’m smiling (Crazy or God?!) It was so random I thought I’d better write the phrase down. In fact, I wrote the phrase slap-bang in the middle of the page, surrounded by other thoughts about the new season and how we are hope carriers.
Looking at that page now I can see I was, indeed, extremely excited. I don’t normally sit there writing random words onto a blank sheet of paper in such an enthused manner. BUT, I’d just had a free trip to California and ended up hearing Lynn’s testimony. It was a full-on time. The page had words of hope scribbled all over it and, right in the middle, that strange sentence about a changed legacy.
Back to my story. Shortly after writing that phrase down, I turned the page and promptly forgot about it. Forgot, that was, until two days later when a delightful ‘coincidence’ occurred.
I was on Facebook, accepting a friend request from a fellow believer. I closed Facebook straight after that, but then opened it later. When I opened it, there was an article she had shared, staring me in the face. I did a double take. The words in front of me said this:
“They used to call him Snake – Not any more!”
My mouth dropped open, eyebrows shot up. I shook my head, blinked, and then thought I’d better read. I carried on to see this:
“Snake Colson: Proof God can do anything. How God transformed a mean, no-good drunk into a mighty man of God.”
“Snake Colson” was, in fact, Donnie Colson, a pastor from Community Chapel Church, Illinois. “Snake” was his nickname from his years of adulthood as a troubled drunk. He was bad news, and known for it. But then he encountered Jesus, and became good news. Now he is widely loved as a mighty man of prayer.
What a great reminder that no situation is beyond change. But, dusting off my piece of paper, I wonder if there is more to learn from this? The phrase I heard from God specifically pointed me to the issue of legacy. In writing today’s post, then, it occurred to me to go back to the Facebook article and see what people had to say about Donnie Colson. Their comments reveal a man’s beautiful legacy, and one that’s celebrated. Here are a few comments, copied:
“I absolutely love him!!! He baptised me.”
“He used to drink with my dad many, many years ago and led my dad to the Lord. I just love him.”
“He is simply and quietly there for so many. His prayers are often answered.”
“He’s a fine person. He does a lot. Hospital. Daily or Weekly. He’s always there. God made him special.”
“What a man of God!”
“I’ve known this man all my life. I’m proud to be able to call him my Brother in Christ, and proud to say he is my cousin!”
“Love this pastor so much. Once had a pastor tell me no matter what time I get to the hospital to pray for the sick Donnie has already been there.”
All I can say is, Praise God! And, there are even more legacy comments on that Facebook link. When God comes into someone's life it's a new day and their whole legacy is made new. Reading his story thoroughly inspired me -- Inspired me to run this race ever better.
I shared with you at the conference that God has been speaking to me about cedars. I saw a vision of a tree that was my family
legacy. The deep roots were the word of God so deeply hidden beneath the soil. I wanted to share with you something that I have been working on. These are words that He has been saying about me. (To keep it from getting too long I will only expound on a few) Let's call today, "Motivation Monday." May these words be a motivation for you to believe what God says about you.
Elevator - one that lifts or raises someone/something up; exhorter - one who incites by argument, or advice; strongly urges; exultor - one who is extremely joyful; leaps for joy; rejoices); exalter - to elevate by praise; raise high; to enhance the activity of; intensify. (Deuteronomy 18:18; Proverbs 14:34; Psalm 68:3; Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 3:13)
Deeply rooted - existing for a long time and very difficult to change; firmly established; deeply implanted. (Psalm 1:3; Colossians 2:6-7; John 15:5; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Daniel 2:22; Isaiah 45:3)
Ancient - (Jeremiah 6:16; Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 1:4-5)
Stalwart Matriarch - woman that rules or dominates her family, group or state who is marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit. (Psalm 68:11; Proverbs 22:6; James 5:16; Psalm 102:18; Psalm 103:17; Proverbs 14:1)
Legacy - something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past; carried over from an earlier time. (Psalm 145:4; Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua 24:14-15; Proverbs 13:22; Psalm 78:2-4; Exodus 20:5-6; Deuteronomy 6:5-7; 2 Timothy 2:2)
Emanate Love - (1 Peter 4:8; 1 Corinthians 16:14; Colossians 3:14; Ephesians 5:2; Matthew 22:37-39; Hebrews 10:24-25; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 20:6-7; 1 John 4:11; 1 John 3:16-18)
Bethel - house of God. (1 Corinthians 9:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 4:1-2; Psalm 119:37; Romans 8:5-7)
Anointed - to smear or rub with oil or an oily substance; to apply oil to as part of a religious ceremony; to choose by or as if by divine election. (Isaiah 22:22; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20-21; 1 John 2:27; John 15:16; Psalm 45:7; Isaiah 44:3)
Non-conforming - (2 Corinthians 3:12; Romans 12:1-2; John 17:14-16; Revelation 12:11; Luke 6:27-36)
Ornamental - one who lends grace or beauty; adorned - to enliven. (1 Peter 3:3-4; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Proverbs 31:30; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Genesis 1:27; 1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Samuel 16:7)
New - (Hebrews 12:24; Galatians 3:26-27; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Isaiah 43:18-19; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17; 1 Peter 1:3; Mark 2:22).
Storms, temptations and trials will come and try to divert your eyes. The deceiver will come and try to cause you to doubt if not forget these life fulfilling promises.
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 Love the Lordyour God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Do whatever is necessary to remember and cling to these promises. I love making jewelry (see photo above) so this is a good tangible way for me to see His word on a regular basis.
How great of a Daddy we have that He would speak something so special and unique to you individually. Let's talk in the comments: What are some ways that you remember His promises in your own life? What helps you to keep your eyes on the prize set before you?
Have you ever looked in the rear-view mirror, glimpsed the road behind you, and realized that something’s changed? That happened to me recently in relation to a friend who didn't want to know about faith. I thought I'd share the story today.
When I first turned to God, I began to tell my friends my testimony. Little did I know how unenthusiastic they would be. In their eyes it was a ‘fairy tale’. I realize now that this is normal, but at the time I was perplexed: “How can you not believe me?"
I had a particular friend who epitomized this. At the mention of my faith she literally had a physical reaction. She raced to the other side of the shop we were in, and starting looking at shelves with her back to me. The months that followed brought honesty about her feelings towards Christians. Then came her husband, with similar reactions. They warned me off the ‘danger of religion’, shaking their heads as if I was a weakling who’d been sucked in. It was pretty painful to be viewed this way. Nevertheless, I stayed friends: I liked them.
Eventually they moved away but recently, after a couple of years' absence, I got a surprise email: “We’re in town, can we meet?” It was a big “YES” from me, we set up a time and day, and time found us gathered round a homely kitchen table with cake and tea.
Now, my heart at this point had become quite bruised. For some time I’d been feeling like I was lying in the corner of a battlefield, enduring atheist swipes. Anti-Christ sentiments among those near and dear had become bruising thumps against my shield of faith. Bang. Bang. Bang. I was tired – I’m sure you know the feeling. Yet:
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NIV).
Indeed, that day as we sat at the same table with cake and tea, the swipes seemed to disappear and something altogether different happened. As I took a sip of tea my dear friend came out with a question that had clearly been brewing:
“Ann, tell me, are you still a Christian? If so, how has that affected your marriage? And Bryce, how are you coping with it?”
Woah. What? Of all our friends, none have ever asked me about my faith; they don’t want to know. None have asked that honest question about our life and marriage, and Bryce and I had never, up to that point, had the opportunity to talk about this situation to someone else, side by side. In essence we were being asked to tell our shared story.
And so we talked. I gave my testimony. Bryce joined in. I put my hand on his leg. We talked about the fact that you experience it or you don’t. We talked about a sense of calling. We talked about church and denominations, churches being clubbish, relationship versus religion, about how you can’t give up your faith, about how we still love each other, and about respecting each other within a marriage.
Our boys sat munching cake. Everyone at the table had open ears, including me.
Later, tucking the boys in, some childlike wisdom came, sweet and helpful: “Mum, don’t worry about other people. If you like something, you just do it.” Good words fitly spoken.
That day represented a shift. Someone who had been so opposed to my faith actually listened. What’s more, my husband and I sat together, talking authentically about it to others. These friends of ours would never go near a church but what they were willing to hear is our story and reality, because it is a raw and real account. In that way, we did it together, he and I. Thank God for my husband's place in all this; and yes, we feel the blows, but we also keep going because who knows where it goes!
How about you? What rear-vision experiences have you had, looking back and seeing that something shifted?
(I wrote this prior to Martha's Post. The Lord understands and loves us so well. Hugs, Lynn)
My heart has been with the many who are reading here and are STILL waiting for your miracle. It may have been difficult to read about spouses coming to faith while you languish in the loneliness and deep conflicts of a mismatched marriage. I know for me, reading about happy couples was sometimes a dagger in my chest.
Several years ago, the Lord spoke to this issue.
One of the biggest tests of love is when someone else receives their miracle while you wait for yours. And the biggest sign of your maturity in Christ is your ability to genuinely celebrate with your brother or sister. Listen to me. It’s not easy to rejoice over someone else’s joy when you are asking God for the same and you’re met with silence.
In these moments the demonic will rise up and swirl the lies and confusion around you. They whisper, “See, God doesn’t listen to you. See, you are not making any progress. Yes, divorce is the answer. See, your life isn’t worth notice.”
Tell me these swirling thoughts don’t rise up? I know because these are the very wicked demons who once would whisper to me.
So, friends, TAKE CAPTIVE THOSE LIES AND SEND THEM TO THE PIT!
The truth is this:
You are powerful.
God listens to you because He is madly in love with you.
You are His favorite!
Your presence with Christ within you, changes your home for the better. If you weren’t there, O Lord have mercy, what a mess it would be.
Your love WINS!
The battle is the Lord’s. You pray. Command the demons to leave. Let the angelic do their work!
You can celebrate with your sisters because you ARE experiencing victory every day. Did you wake up breathing? Hallelujah.
Did your kids smile at you? GOD IS SOOOOO GOOD.
Did you lay down in a bed? Great is our King!
Your brothers and sisters who are walking ahead of you are PLOWING the road for you, so you don’t have to wait so long. You don’t have to endure the pain as much. Lean into what your brothers and sisters bring to the table because their victory IS YOUR VICTORY.
I love you. Don’t give up.
I bless you with courage to move forward today. I bless you with grit…. To fight for your family. I bless you with heaven’s powerful determination to pray your family into the Kingdom. I bless you to walk in integrity, maturity and in the love of Jesus. I bless you to never violate love and to let love be your highest goal, in Christ Jesus. AMEN
During the leader's meeting on the Friday morning before the conference I said I would share a spoken word piece during the offering time. I didn't have anything prepared at the time of volunteering. In fact I just heard the words come out of my mouth. You know those moments when you realize after the fact that you were pushed into things by the Holy Spirit? Maybe it's just me. It happens quite often. *grin*
The rest of the day seemed to fast forward pretty quickly. Filled with fellowship, food and fun. I was exhausted after the meet and greet at Lynn's house - in a good way - and went to bed shortly after everyone left. Saturday morning I wake up and realize that I didn't take time to prepare a spoken word! Out of desperation I laid flat on my back with my arms outstretched (my body in the shape of a cross) and said, "Holy Spirit, I need You to give me a spoken word for today. I want those who hear it to feel your deep love. I want them to know that they can have a close relationship with You. Give me something."
In that moment of asking Him, I could feel the atmosphere change in the room. It was like He was waiting for the invitation to share what was in the deep recesses of His heart. The following is the spoken word. I have posted it on Facebook so it may be a repeat for some. In my humble opinion, Holy Spirit really delivered!
More, Tiffany Carter, 4/6/19
Remember when I first revealed myself to you?
The relief you felt?
Just wait there’s more.
Remember when you heard me speak life into your bones?
The comfort you felt?
Just wait there’s more.
Remember when you received my loving embrace?
The warmth you felt?
Just wait there’s more.
Remember when you needed Me and cried out for help?
The deliverance you felt?
Just wait there’s more.
Remember when you sought me for clarity?
The answers you felt?
Just wait there’s more.
More. Love that is unendable.
More. Passion that is unshakable.
More. Desire that is unquenchable.
More. Joy that is uncontainable.
More. Intimacy that is unthinkable.
More. Wisdom that is unmatchable.
More. Peace that is uncontrollable.
More. Power that is undeniable.
More. Faith that is unbeatable.
Remember when you stepped into your destiny and calling?
The freedom you felt?
My beloved child…
Ephesians 3:20-21 (TPT) - Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you. Now we offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ—and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen!
Do you want more? I know that I sure do!
Let's talk in the comments. In these weeks since the conference, what are some things that God has been showing you? How has He shown up in your life personally? In reference to Libby's visions, how have you been feeling the residual affects of the river flowing from the conference? I love you all.
John 12: 24-25 Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal. ~The Message
In this passage Jesus is speaking to his disciples and He is speaking to us. He uses a wheat seed as an example to foretell His death by crucifixion which we remember today, Good Friday. Jesus explains how a solitary seed, which is useless and lifeless, will spring forth in new life once buried in the ground. It, in turn, will produce a great number of seeds.
Christ’s teaching reaches deeper as He calls us to consider what we are holding onto in this life. He asks us to consider what we treasure. Is it something which destroys the soul? Finally, He calls us to love recklessly. He calls us to let go of the world and hold on to life - real life - lived for Jesus.
Jesus died and rose again that we may live, forever, real and eternal. On this day when we reflect on Good Friday and the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus hanging on a cross, let us also remember…
SUNDAY IS COMING!
You will need:
1 small flowerpot for each participant
1 package of radish seeds
Potting soil Prepare each pot by filling ¾ full of potting soil.
Pass out three seeds for each pot. Follow the planting and watering directions on the package of seeds. Seeds are abundant in most stores this time of year. Radish seeds germinate quickly.
Select a family member to read: John 12:24-25
Follow with: Just as this radish seed is dead. Jesus was once dead. He was buried in the earth just like this dead seed. But, after three days he came back to life. It’s kind of like these dead seeds. They will burst from the soil in a short time with new life.
Read the resurrection story: Matthew 28:1-6
God bless you and I pray this Easter will fill you with a profound sense of Christ's vast love! Be Blessed, Lynn
*Photo credit: Arkdiscovery.com, this is the forever blackened top of Mount Sinai, where God's presence came in fire.
God is angry and full of wrath...and I want no part of that!
I've heard throughout my lifetime that the God of the Bible (specifically the Old Testament) is mean and unmerciful and a murderer. I'm sure you have heard things similar...maybe even last week. There are a lot of people who hold this viewpoint. I never knew how to really answer these types of comments. Sure I could mention that Jesus died on the cross and rose again for our sins to take the wrath of God upon Himself. But I was always left confused when my heart and mind could not make the connection with all of the death and destruction in the Old Testament with a loving God. I mean after all God never changes right? (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 33:8)
I would like to place a quick interjection here. Thanks to you, my loving SUM family I have been taking ministry classes with my church. I cannot thank you enough for your generous support, love, and encouragement. 6-7 months into this 2 year program and I am absolutely blown away by all the things being revealed to me. It is amazing. I say this because it is in a recent class that Holy Spirit spoke to my heart.
There are 5 major covenants that God made with His people throughout history. I won't go into detail here because there is a lot to explain (and quite frankly I am still trying to soak it all in) but suffice it to say, each and every one of these covenants was for the benefit of His people. (A covenant is simply an agreement between two parties. I say this with all sincerity. If you would like a copy of my class notes to better understand the covenants, I would love to share. This stuff is truly fascinating and has really opened up my eyes in how to read the Bible!)
The covenant made with Moses is where God introduces the law. Here is the kicker though. God did not want to give a set of rules for His people to be bound by. Did you know that the covenant relationship we have right now with God - through Jesus - is what He wanted for His people all along?
3 And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19)
This is the covenant that God wanted. He wanted all of Israel to priests. A holy nation, set apart from the rest of the world to be a light and represent God to the rest of the world. What? I had no idea! So what happened?
Exodus 19:8 - Israel agreed to it
Exodus 19:9-13 - God is giving them a consecration period (this is always the case where there is covenant or relationship with God)
Exodus 19:18-19 - God shows up in with lightning, fire, a loud trumpet, etc (see Deuteronomy 5:23-27 fore more details of this) which scared the Israelites.
Exodus 19:20-25 - Moses and the priests (which in that time were simply the oldest males from each family line, meaning every family was represented on the mountain) go up on the mountain and decide, now we don't want any of this. We don't want to have a face to face relationship with God. Let's send Moses as a mediator and whatever he says, we will do.
What does this mean for us today? The work of Jesus on the cross opened us up to the exact covenant that God talked about in Exodus 19:3-6. Check this out:
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2)
Family, I don't know about you but understanding God's heart in Exodus 19 is absolutely wrecking me. I hope I explained it well here. I don't feel like I can do it justice. We serve a truly loving and merciful God! He has always had a heart for His people. He has always desired a face to face relationship. He has always desired to draw and woo and take good care of us. This doesn't sound like a mean, wrathful, and unmerciful God to me!
Thank you Jesus that you gave us the greatest gift we could ever have. Relationship with our Daddy God. I pray this has blessed you. I've run a little long but let's chat in the comments. How does this insight into God's Heart in the Old Testament affect your view of His heart for you today?
A few weeks ago, this question arrived on our Instagram:
"What to do with that guilt I feel sometimes for marrying someone who is not a believer?”
A while back I had a conversation with a very close friend of mine who was tormented by shame and guilt because of past decisions in her life. Through that conversation I was made acutely aware of the unworthiness that plagues many of God’s children. Regularly the devil will beat believers up, both emotionally and spiritually, using our guilt over past mistakes we regret. We carry enormous gilt over the tremendous errors in our judgment that have brought pain into our lives, our kids and spouse.
On dark days the enemy snakes in and whispers, failure! Shame! Worthless. You are stupid for making that decision.
He tells us to say to ourselves, Oh, how I wish I wouldn’t have said that. I would give my life to make a different decision. I have suffered so greatly because I chose to do this instead of doing that. Marry an unbeliever.
If we could see this shame and guilt upon us in the spiritual realm, it would look like enormous hole in our heart that is festering and bleeding.
So right now I want you to hear what I heard from the Father. Receive this as your truth and step into His words of freedom right now.
My Sweet and Holy Child,
Do you not understand that I know how very difficult it is to live on earth? Are you not aware that I am fully and completely sensitive of how hard it is to live there? I know the pain you face. I didn’t send you to earth as your Father, blindly-unaware of every tiny detail that you would face.
I know it’s hard to live there. I knew that before I sent you. And I knew that you would make mistakes. You would make big mistakes. You would make choices that would affect your life adversely for the rest of your earthly life. I knew that would happen. I knew your choices would cause you pain. And choices that your parents made would cause you hurt and struggle. I knew the decisions you made would hurt your children too.
I am fully aware my child that your words have hurt others deeply. So deeply that they have forever separated you from a loved one. And I know that words spoken to you in carelessness have been giant swords that pierced your heart and left you broken.
I know this life is hard. It is hard from the beginning and there will be struggles until you die. But I know all about every one of your struggles, your guilt, your shame and your difficulties. And it’s all okay.
I knew when you arrived of the planet you would struggle. And I knew you would make poor choices at times. And it’s the same for every person on earth.
You all make bad choices at times. It’s not like you are the only person who hurt someone with a choice you made. Everyone does it. Everyone makes tremendous blunders and messes up their life and the life of others.
It’s all okay.
You are not worse than anyone else because they ALL MAKE mistakes. Big mistakes.
What I want from you is simple. Admit you made them. Ask for forgiveness. I WILL FORGIVE YOU IMMEDIATELY. Make right what you can. Then FORGIVE YOURSELF.
I expected you to make these giant mistakes because life is hard on planet earth. So live in this truth. The lie you have believed is that no one else screws up this badly. It’s a lie. Everyone messes up their life and the life of others.
But I am your Papa of Grace. It will all work out in the end. For I use all things for the good of those who love Me. You’ll see. Give yourself grace. Grace is forgiveness and kindness and love. But grace is also empowerment to do better the next time. And you will do better the next time.
So let go of this shame and guilt. I will not condemn you because my Son stood before me with your name on His lips. He died for you and He speaks to Me often on your behalf. I love you. My Son loves you and the Holy Spirit is with you to help you do better next time.
The best thing you can do is to follow hard after the teaching in my Holy Word, talk with me all the time, bring your life before me and let Me direct your path. I will never leave you nor forsake you my child. You can learn to walk through this very difficult life with grace, love, joy and peace. That is what I want for you for the rest of your life.
In the quiet before the early light of Christmas traditions, My child, rise and sit alone with Me. Press into My heart and travel with Me through the ages, back to a tiny town in the Judean desert.
This village, Bethlehem, shelters a teenaged, soon-to-be mother, struggling in labor throughout the night. Allow your heart to perceive the paddock of bleating sheep and goats, shivering in the cold as they huddle about the tiny family. Feel the course, dry straw where Mary, the mother of God, rests as she pushes through her pain, hour-by-hour.
Breathe in the earthy smells of the animals, the feed, the dung, as the couple labor together. The shadows flicker across the beams of the manger, lit by a single candle.
Finally, the last cry and she pushes forth the child. The King of Kings, the Messiah arrives into the hands of a young Jewish man, Joseph of Nazareth. He quickly comforts the cries of the child, wiping him clean. Resting the child in the trough made for the animals, he turns to Mary, wipes her face then settles her with a sip of water. She fades off to sleep.
Wrapping the child in torn strips from Mary’s dress, the child rests. Joseph ponders the destiny of this tiny baby within his hands. He prays. He offers thanks to the Heavenly Father as he gazes into the perfect face of a babe that is the Chose One, The Christ, who has come for all people.
All of heaven responds in a culmination of majestic worship and praise echoing throughout the eons. The angles sing, hallelujah! The heavens rejoice. Time splits in two. Hope returns. Joy and Freedom is proclaimed over the people. Devils flee.
The love of God is alive upon the earth.
Immanuel —God with us!
Luke 2: 6-14 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
I received a call that I wasn’t expecting. From my sister. It was Saturday night, two weeks ago. She was relaying some information she’d received about our brother, John.
He had been admitted into hospital that afternoon, had an MRI that found he had a ‘mass’ in his head. Oh dear. Not at all what we wanted to hear.
And so the waiting began.
Over the next week John had a bunch of tests and scans. Lots of waiting for things to happen – John dubbed it “hospital time”. All confirmed there was only the one mass. Everything else was normal except that movement in both his right arm and right leg were slightly impaired. The mass was pressing on his brain impacting a signal to those limbs.
Finally, a biopsy was to be taken. But this was no simple biopsy as they had to get into his head. And therefore, there were risks involved. Because the mass was in an area of ‘high value real estate’ we were told.
The procedure went well and there were no complications. Praise God.
And then we waited. For the results.
Three days later a simple text message arrived. From John. “Diagnosed with B Cell lymphoma. Chemo starts Monday. Sorry for the curt message.”
My heart sunk.1
A Season to Wait
Advent commenced last Sunday (2 December). Advent is a time of waiting. The name Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Beginning each year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, Advent commemorates the birth of Jesus and also anticipates His return. As Ann Voskamp says we are “perpetual Advent people” waiting on Christ’s return. I’d add that we are also waiting on Jesus to do work in our heart regarding life’s circumstances.
We SUMites are used to waiting, aren’t we?
He doesn’t always immediately respond to our heart cry – “God help us!” So we wait. “He teaches us to stay in the waiting.” (Ruth Haley Barton) We sit with our longings: for good biopsy results, for our pre-believing spouses, and so on.
It’s important for us to not run away from our longings, to spend time with the Lord expressing our worries and fears. We see throughout the Scriptures, particularly in the OT and the Psalms how many times people cry out to God, whether it’s Rachel in her desire for children (Genesis 30) or David in his lament (for example, Psalm 6).
Light and Darkness
When we wait we often linger in darkness. The future is uncertain and dark. We don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know what the diagnosis will be or if our spouses will choose Jesus. We typically associate negative connotations with the darkness, don’t we? But a lot of good things happen in the dark. Remember we were created in the darkness of the womb.
Lingering in uncertainty with our longings can also be a positive experience. Because we linger with God. Even if He feels distant we can claim the promises that He has given us in the Bible. “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)
Lighting candles is one of the symbols of Advent. It reflects Christ being the light of the world and coming through the darkness – “The true light that gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9)
During Advent we don’t just wait, we also anticipate. We anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. And we anticipate that He will come again to make all things new.
“Jesus Christ has come, and He is coming again. This is the heart of Advent.” (He Reads Truth)
The Branch Gives us Hope
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)
Advent is all about hope. In the who is coming.
We can believe in that hope. Because He did come 2,000 years ago on that Christmas morn, born in a food trough, son to a teenage mom and her husband.
We can believe in that hope. Because He has come to us. He is in us and we are in Him.
We can believe in that hope. Because He has told us He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Even when our beloved doesn’t know Him. Even when the diagnosis isn’t good.
Often when we’re in a season of wilderness or a battle or even the 24 days of Advent our hope is in the end, the arrival, the victory. Time and time again we see in the Bible, most often the true ‘victory’ occurs during the wilderness, or struggle or suffering. This is where we discover that God wants more of us; He wants our hearts to know Him deeply and intimately. This can only come through time with Him. I've always loved the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah, John the Baptist's parents, who lived in silence for 5 months of his gestation. During this period, Zechariah discovered the wonder of an intimate Father, and on John being born, as a result of his obedience in naming his son, Zechariah's tongue is freed and he opens by praising God (Luke 1:64)
Advent is counter cultural because it calls us to slow down from our busy schedules of Christmas parties and events to spend time waiting on Jesus, and leaning into Him as we discover and share the longings of our heart.
I hope you are able to spend some time in the next few weeks reflecting on the hope of Advent. On Jesus. Allow His Words to “dwell in you richly.”
Wishing all of my SUMite friends a blessed Advent season full of childlike hope and anticipation.
Grace and peace,
1. Note: as a write this post, John is undergoing his first chemo treatment. We don't know what is going to happen this week, in the next weeks and months, but I have real comfort because John is in a great place with the Lord as he starts this challenging season. He wants to fall more in love with Him and discover all there is to life with Jesus. If you remember, we'd cherish any prayers you may utter for John. Thank you, my dear friends.
I’m so excited for Christmas this year. I went extra crazy decorating the house. Take a look.
Within me remains a wide-eye small girl who still marvels at the wonder and whimsy of this season. I miss the snow so much this time of year. So much so, that I created a snowscape outside of my front door. My daughter, Caitie, who is freezing in Indiana is longing for the warm afternoons of southern California.
I love the decorations on the tree, each tell a story of a season of our life. I love the packages and the lights. I love to wear Christmas apparel and have laughed out loud at the crazy, and weird, ugly Christmas sweaters.
There are tiny miracles all about us if we take time to notice.
In fact, just this past week Mike asked me what church service we would be attending on Christmas Eve. Say what??? A number of years ago, that would have never happened.
But what I love so much is the retelling of the story of the birth of Jesus. So, would you travel with me in this month of December to Bethlehem, visit with Mary and Joseph, imagine the Wisemen and their need to find the new born King? Let’s behold the gift that we have because of the manger…..
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. — Luke 1:35 (KJV)
The joining of the DNA of God with humanity within a covering of the Holy Spirit. The conception of a perfect child.
Because of Christ, we have been invited to remove the ugly and become a brand-new person. We can shrug off that ugly Christmas sweater and literally put on Christ. Whoa! Read this:
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. — Romans 13:14 (NIV)
This singular conception in a tiny town of Bethlehem is also our conception as a new creation, a child of God. A man or woman endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49). The manger is our rescue from anger, fear, false beliefs, confusion, strife, and every tool of the devil.
We are offered a precious gift, to dawn and wear the love of Jesus this season and become peace bearers in our home. Love givers in our marriages. Leaders of joy in our communities. Ambassadors of purpose and destiny for our children.
SUMites, who do you want to be this Christmas. Will you choose to wear Jesus in the morning for your kids, your spouse. Will you put on the peace of Christ and bring Him with you into the workplace, into the schools and into our nations? We appear to be just an ordinary people, but that perception is a darkened deception. We are more than ordinary. Because of the manger, we the SUMites, truly impact our homes, our churches, our community, and our world.
We are love. We choose this day to wear Jesus on the outside and inside and reflect the perfection of a babe born in a manger who changed and changes everything.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. — Isaiah 9:6
Leading up to Christmas, let’s walk the road to Bethlehem. Let’s be purposeful to dwell on the greatest story ever told.
Emmanuel – God with us!
In the comments, tell me how putting on Jesus has helped you to take off the ugly in your life. And/or share your ugly sweater pic.
I adore you…. Merry Christmas!!! Lynn
This is my ugly sweater, my cute dog Finn.and my Broncos Cap! See you in the comments! BIG HUGS!
Can you perhaps come to understand the unique and special blessings of the unequally yoked?
I bet someone just read this and rolled their eyes? Anybody???
As a woman who has walked this journey now for more than two decades, I truly understand how very difficult it can be. I have lived through the pain, rejection, fear and confusion. I know that some days it can take everything we have to hold on to hope. Yet as a veteran, I have come to realize the unique and beautiful blessings of this journey of faith.
We, the SUMites, have learned to pray. We have gained great faith as well. And our hope in Jesus soars above so many others who are of faith. During this season of miracles, take a minute to reflect on what gifts and goodness have been born out of your difficult marriage.
I know that I would not have the kind of faith nor the amazing experiences I have with God if I had married a believing spouse. I just know. In fact, it is likely that most of my life I could have leaned on my believing spouse for faith and missed the hard work, perseverance and prayer that are required to move in the gifts of the Spirit that God has honored me with today.
As I have reflected on this community and the love we have, a story that deeply touched my heart came forward and flooded my soul. So, I want to share it with you again today.
This is worth the time to read.
November, 2013: (Lynn) Today I have a question for you. How many times have you set down in church and looked around the sanctuary at the couples seated together, husband and wife, and felt defeated, disappointed, and pain?
I know this place of pain existed in my life for many years. And I really didn’t understand why God was ignoring my prayers and my pleas for the salvation of my husband. And why He didn’t see my pain and longing for a “normal” Christian home.
That was until about two years ago and I heard a woman share her personal story and as I listened it changed everything. Today, I’m sharing this story with you so that you might understand a little more, about the heart of our Father, and His love for us, the unequally yoked.
Two years ago I was part of the leadership team for our church’s annual women’s retreat. Prior to the retreat, the leadership team would meet once a week for eight weeks on a Wednesday evening and have Bible study together. Every other week, the team welcomed a guest speaker, an ordinary woman from our congregation.
Well on this particular night, we welcomed Carol Mahaney. And Carol proceeded to tell her story. And it’s likely the rest of the women in the room were moved a bit by her story, but I was leveled to the ground, in my spirit.
You see, Carol married her high school sweetheart. He was a believer. She was a believer. They attended church together every Sunday. They tithed, they studied the Bible, they prayed together, they were everything I dreamed and hoped and wanted for my own life. They raised two girls to adulthood as Christians. Carol said she had a wonderful life and she leaned on her husband for everything and she utterly adored him. She said she loved her church family she felt absolutely blessed by God.
But in 2008, Carol’s husband unexpectedly died. She was devastated. Additionally this was the year that the economy crashed and as Carol had never managed her finances before, she was overwhelmed as her finances were in chaos. Devastated by grief and lost in a maze of paperwork, banking decisions and taxes, she hit bottom and there was no longer a husband to save her.
Carol looked up and said, “That’s when I met Jesus.”
I looked at Carol astonished. And I sat in my chair as my head reeled. Carol was 63 years old and she admits in front of all of us that she lived the Christian life with a believing husband for 63 years but at age 63 for the first time she met Jesus.
What is so compelling about Carol story for me is that she had the life I thought I always wanted. She attended church with her husband, raising her kids in church, tithing, all things Christianeese but she really didn’t meet the King of Kings until she turned 63 years of age. She merely “played” church and her husband’s faith was enough for her……..
For 63 years…..
Instantly, God moved my spirit. He made me realize that I could have lived a Christian life with a very shallow faith thinking I was doing all the right things but never truly “knowing” Christ.
I know walking this unequally yoked journey is very difficult. I still have very difficult days. I struggle with my husband’s media choices, I still miss him by my side at church, etc. BUT I would choose this journey again over the life Carol had until age 63 because I truly know Jesus.
I grieved for Carol because for 63 years she “lived” the Christian life or so it seemed. But it wasn’t until the death of her spouse and a personal crisis that brought her into of living vibrant relationship with Jesus.
My friends, our difficulties are what God has given us to push us, pull us, help us to surrender and to seek Him out for rescue, and then to live in His Presence. As I think about Carol’s life and marriage, it isn’t worth it to have a marriage that is easy if it means that I live most of my life without truly knowing Jesus.
I would sign up again for this unequally yoked thing, over 63 years of playing “church.”
I’m convinced we will truly see that our challenging marriage is singularly, a divine assignment with generational ramifications, for us and our entire family and more people than we realize.
1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
I love you so much my friends. Today, don't doubt God loves you and that He has your life in His hands. Ask Him where you need to surrender and ask Him how to love Him more.
God is good and His ways are always best for His children. Hugs, Lynn
I pray that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love gathering with family, eating fantastic food and reflecting on all of the favor, mercy, and goodness of Daddy that has happened for the year.
As I was thinking last week about what Holy Spirit wanted me to share, I fingerprinted a man with a business logo on his sweatshirt that said "Stillwater." This prompted me to look up "still water" in the Bible. The main passage that came to mind was in Psalm 23:
1 The Lordis my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside thestill waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Reading this familiar passage again I was shocked to see verse 5, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..." I had completely forgotten that this verse was in this Psalm.
That is when Holy Spirit brought to my mind the song Surrounded (Fight My Battles) by Elyssa Smith from UPPERROOM. Forgive me if I've shared this song before. I love it so much. My favorite verses in this song say, "my weapons are praise and thanksgiving, this is how I fight my battles"
I have been seeing Psalm 23 all over the place since I first saw this man's sweatshirt. I know that of the Psalms, this one is so common and well known even in the secular world; however, this particular passage has not been on my radar for quite some time. Each and every time I am seeing a reference to Psalm 23 there is a different verse that is being highlighted. I think I need to dwell here for a while! I was inspired so much so that I committed this passage to memory. This is a first for me to memorize an entire passage. Woot!
I think with all of the apparent darkness and chaos going on in our community (illness, death, financial struggle, marriage breakdown, depression, chronic pain, etc) and in the world today I want us to meditate on this phrase, "I am beginning to see the darkness around me is just the shadow of Your wings." *Note: this is not my phrase, this gets me every time I listen to this song...SO SO GOOD.*
5 God has gone up with a shout, The Lord with the sound of a trumpet. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 7 For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding. (Psalm 47)
Please know that our Daddy is surrounding you with His love, presence, favor, mercy, and grace. I know we all know this but may we truly rejoice and sing praises with understanding! Understand your are highly favored. Understand you are loved. Understand you are cherished. Understand in your weakness He is strong. Understand that even in the toughest time of your life He is in control. Understand you are seated with Christ Jesus. Understand you have authority. Understand you are the victor. Understand it. Is. Finished!
Let us lift our voices in one accord today:
I don't know about you the Lord uses songs to get me through the darkest days. Share in the comments some songs that see you through tough times. Your suggestions could be healing salve and oil of joy to another. I love you SUM family.
The last couple of months I have been sharing a bit about what I have learned from reading a book called From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris. I was assigned to read this book in class and I am so glad that I read it! This book has been truly amazing. To read the previous two posts I've written in this "mini-series" click on the links below.
In September I began to take steps to transition into a new church. As you read this, I have now been at this new church for 3 weeks. Each and every week has been so powerful and effective. Today I want to share with you a recent experience unlike anything I've ever had. It happened a little over a week ago on October 14, 2018. The following is what I posted the next day on Facebook (sharing here as well since a lot of you may not have Facebook or seen it because we aren't "friends"):
Worship at Hub is amazing. God is there. Holy Spirit presence is thick and tangible. We were singing a song I had never heard before. The lyrics were powerful and the words that floored me at the time were talking about laying my whole life down before Jesus our Savior. I was already worshipping on my knees but I couldn't help but crouch face down before God. I felt so heavy and overloaded. I was just crying and crying before God. My words spoken in tears and sobs. All of a sudden it was like God said, "get up." Not in an angry way but an empowering way...if that makes sense. I sat up and it was like I saw myself in the place of the woman caught in adultry that was brought before Jesus. The crowd, stones in hand set to stone her. Jesus calmly and matter of factly said, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." Slowly, one by one the people left. Once everyone was gone, I pictured Jesus lift up my chin so I would look him in the eyes. Crouched on the ground seeing His eyes intent on mine. Looking into my soul. Just like He did with the woman that day, He said, "who condemns you?" Looking around I reply, "No one Sir." In that instant...I felt all the weight of condemnation lifted. It was like I had an hour long deep tissue massage. Every fiber of my being, relaxed and stress free. I realized later after worship and after the service...reflecting on what happened in that moment. Those people standing and surrounding me so quick to condemn and judge...were different versions of ME. How often I have shot myself down, I have stoned myself for a mis-spoken word, a harsh tone, a forgotten task, a wrong thought...I have been stoning myself for years and as God clearly told me to get up - it was giving me my life back. It was His GRACE UPON GRACE. His mercy. His true love. He doesn't keep record of wrongs...and neither should I. NO LONGER DO I. This morning, as life went on as usual...I reacted in ways I am tyring to change (short with my daughter when she cries about everything she wears - meltown after meltdown this morning and my shortness with her, attitude from tired children, etc) but the major difference was this. No one condemns me...not even myself. I made a mistake, asked for forgivenenss and moved on. The first instance my flesh tried to condemn me I heard the words "no one Sir." Loud and clear and it reminded me of the freedom that I was given. Once and for all. I will never go back. Once that transaction was finished Jesus said, "Go and sin no more." Can you image the freedom, the joy, the apreciation she felt with that moment? I can...because I do.
You may have to click on the picture to better see but I found the moment in worship where this exchange happened. Today I stand free from years of mental torment. As I think about this moment it still brings tears to my eyes because every moment since then has been a blessing. Please know that it doesn't mean that I am perfect or care free. I still have some struggles that God is working on in me. Holy Spirit is still pruning and I've got a lot of work to do. However, I am no longer hopeless.
I've gone a little long this time so let me wrap up with this:
I have been blessed to be a blessing. So today, I bless you with joy unspeakable; freedom from weight (even YEARS worth) of torment - mental, emotional, spiritual, physical; victory beyond belief; confidence in your Daddy; hope to weather the storm; faith, life, salvation for your spouse and loved ones; light in the darkness; advancement in the Kingdom where you feel backslidden; fire shut up in your bones; fight and fierceness; and love beyond compare.
Below is the song that brought me to the feet of Jesus and ushered me into freedom.
See you in the comments. I would love to pray over you for your own deliverance.
Ya, so, I've struggled for a couple of hours tying to decide what to write about..... (BIG sigh)
My writer is broken today. So, below is the video from Ask Me Anything from Wednesday's Facebook Live. The Questions:
How do you handle husband's objection to church
What seeps from the Television
Put in your earphones and listen while cleaning or cooking dinner. :)
My friends, when I was a young wife and mother, Dr. Dobson's daily radio programs were life-blood to my sanity and hope. I love Dr. Dobson and pray for him continually. Below are some links to great articles on marriage. I love you all.
Stay tuned for details about our SUMMIT!! And if you have decided that you can't attend, don't listen to that voice from the pit of hell. Tell our Papa God about your need and let Him astonish you in His provision.