If you want more, the next four modules and accompanying Field Guides are $35 for each module of five or more videos. Your purchase goes directly to support the ministry. I'm very excited about the second series:
Module Two Partnering with the Holy Spirit
The Power of Forgiveness
Spiritual Authority in Christ Jesus
Spiritual Power and Partnering with the Holy Spirit (This video contains a wild surprise in the middle. The Holy Spirit shows up.)
The Power of Our Voice
Speaking in Tongues
Module Three will blow your mind. So much of my life changed when I truly learned who my enemy is and how he works to control and destroy our lives. Armed with this understanding, EVERYTHING CHANGED going forward.
Understanding the Demonic
Who Is Our Enemy?
Generational Curses/Word Curses/Land Curses
Angels, The Good Guys
And if you want more, I offer personal Spiritual Development, one-to-one teaching, faith mentorship. $39 for two hours. Spiritual development is about $100.00 an hour. But I want to work with you and share what the Lord has show me. Take a look at the program and pray about doing some personal mentorship work to grow in your faith.
If there's one passage in the Bible that brings a SUM moment to life, it's the one where David dances to the Lord, his wife Michal sees him through a window, and she 'despises him in her heart'. Gulp -- Let's take a look:
“Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. Now as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart."
(2 Samuel 6:14-16, NKJV)
David then returns 'to bless his household', and Michal is not feeling it:
“How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” (v.20)
We don’t know what marriages were like in those days, but David must have felt sorely misunderstood. Nevertheless, his response shows determination:
“It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore, I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor.” (v. 21-22).
To leap and dance for God like David is akin to the intimacy with God that we're currently talking about in our community. I think we all have a leap to take when it comes to intimacy, and for my own part I can say I found it ever so risky to leap towards God and trust he would catch me. Specifically, I struggled to trust that I would not lose Bryce's favor. That was a biggie.
I was helped in this area by a friend whose Dad was a pastor. I wrote to this friend one day when it was all feeling too hard. My words went something along the lines of, "I think Bryce will go off me if I keep going." My friend duly consulted the Dad, who was old and wise, then flicked me an email:
“Ann, with God, the only way to go is forward. Now that you know that God is real, what else are you going to do? Sit in a dark room with a blindfold on? The fence is too sharp to sit on. But here’s what my Dad says: The closer you get to God, the more Bryce will see the spiritual bloom on your cheek. So keep going!”
This was great advice in theory, but I struggled to believe that Bryce would see this elusive 'spiritual bloom on my cheek'. My friend was saying, “Take the leap, Ann. God will catch you!” but the lie I was believing was “If I move any closer to God I'll lose out.”
To cut a long story short, eventually I let go of the lie. Having leapt into God's arms I truly believe now that the more you love Jesus … Well, everything blooms. As David said to Michal, God has shown himself faithful.
David's response is a good one for us. Essentially he says to Michal, “Look, there is good reason I dance for him the way I do. I am going to carry on, and I will be playing my Christian music.”
Friends, did you catch that? Michal doesn't like his Christian music! I'm laughing as I type and I can't help but wonder if God slipped that part in for humor for us. Even in David’s day, Christian music was hard to play in front of the less believing spouse. Well, nothing there has changed. Eventually, like David, perhaps we stop caring and just play it. In fact, that's been a shift for me only in the last few weeks: I slip the Christian music on, Bryce laughs but doesn't really mind, I keep it on, and as I listen to it I leap -- In my heart.
Well on that happy note, I think the story got a bit more cheerful than at first it seemed. So keep on with that Christian music, friends. And perhaps we can chat in the comments: Has intimacy with God involved a leap for you?
We're spending time talking over on Facebook about intimacy with God, so I thought I would follow suit in today's post. Many years ago, I observed another Christian's intimacy with God, and it was so eye-catching that it kick-started my own relationship with Him. Here’s what happened:
I was at my parents’ table in Reading, England. I live in New Zealand, so only visit once a year. On this visit I noticed that in their home ‘everything felt nice’. Even the coffee had that little ‘something special’.
Are you suspecting something? Yep, my parents were both growing in their connection with Jesus. As a non-Jesus-lover, I didn’t recognize the atmosphere for what it was, but I did notice my Dad seemed to spend a lot of time in his study. The door was closed for one or two hours, then he’d emerge for a late breakfast, cheerful.
One morning at the table, I said to him: “What do you spend your time on?”
He cast me a secret smile: “Well, Ann, the only thing that matters to me these days is my relationship with God.”
Huh?!! I pulled a face but eyed him up quietly. Never heard such a thing.
Well, um, as you can tell, these days I’m a closed-door kinda girl myself with that same secret smile; it's the kind of smile that says ‘God is exciting!’ It’s funny how these things are catching.
Yes, a while after asking my Dad that question, my heart got stirred and I began to do business with God on the couch in my living room. I am a couch potato, so can do time on the couch very easily, and this is where my relationship with God has happened. That couch is so meaningful to me now it’s like a family treasure. It's in the TV room, which I now term 'the prayer room' (much to the laughter of my family) and I retreat to it throughout the day -- Especially when life as a Mum gets intense.
Those years ago, on that very couch, I began to ask God some direct questions. The first one was ‘Um God, Do You Exist?’ Blow me down, He answered over a period of weeks with some extraordinary occurrences. Oh. Next question: ‘What is True?’ At this point, I bought a special notebook and started to record these questions, documenting my blossoming relationship with Him. One notebook led to another, and these days I have a pile of them. The questions seemed to open up closeness.
After asking ‘What is true?’ God started to show me it was Jesus who was the Way, and there was no other. It was so compelling that all I could say was ‘Ok, this is true – I’m in.’
Then came a time I prayed a dangerous prayer, without realizing it was dangerous. By dangerous, I mean it was the kind of prayer that brings the Kingdom of Heaven near because it is completely in line with His will and you end up never the same again. Dangerous, but exciting. The prayer I prayed was this:
Align my desires with yours Lord.
I've heard of others praying something like this (e.g., Let me really know you, Lord), and I've heard them say 'Sometimes I wish I hadn't prayed that prayer because it’s not been easy.’ That's a little of how I feel about that prayer though I would never, ever want it to be different. See, after praying that prayer, I could never get God out of my head again, and then I noticed how far from Him our culture is. That was the difficult part. My head and my heart became filled to the point that I felt constantly aware of Him. It felt like He had become as real to me as the person in front of me. Real.
Align my desires with yours, God.
Align my desires with yours.
This request, simple as it was, helped me draw closer to Him.
I've been helped vastly in years past by others on this blog -- Not only the writers but also those in the comments who've shared how they get close to God; so I hope you enjoyed this one little piece of my own story. But now I'd love to hear your stories: How much do you ask God questions, and what other things do you do to draw close to Him?
Lynn here. I'm leading a study of Marching Around Jericho beginning today! Join the PRIVATE Facebbook Group and accelerate your study.
To pray with power and authority you MUST stand upon the two pillars of Intimacy and Identity. This week we are talking about intimacy. What would it be like to all day long ask Jesus questions and He answers you back? How would it change your life if you knew that you knew that you knew in your knower that your good Father in heaven had your back?
Image courtesy of Chaiwat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I arrived at a Prayer Meeting that I was leading and one of the members was already present. This was unusual for him as he typically arrived after the first 30 minutes. But I could sense something in his spirit was bursting. It didn’t take long for my friend to share the experience he’d just come from – an impromptu morning worship time where he had ‘laid all his burdens down’ before the Lord as he lay prostrate on the floor.
I envied his freedom and the heightened experience of lingering with the Lord.
We had time before the others arrived for me to share that I too had experienced something similar at the Writers Conference I attended a month or so back. Both our experiences were stimulated by Spirit-enabled worship. There’s something very special when you’re completely given over to worship, whether in public or at home in your own secret place. It really feels like a touch of heaven, caught up in the arms of your lover. No words need to be uttered; no supernatural miracle of healing or prophecy or word of knowledge or other has to occur (even though they might), just the two of you wrapped in a cocoon of extravagant love.
The deepest level of communication is not communication but communion. It is wordless. It is beyond words, and beyond speech, and it is beyond concept. (Thomas Merton)
God wants us to linger. Lingering may seem a waste of time because there is so much to do, isn’t there? But it’s interesting when one looks at those others who have a deeper connection with the Lord, they’ve usually spent lots of time lingering in His presence. It doesn’t have to be with music. As Mother Teresa once said: “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.”
We all know Jesus lingered with the Father. It was a regular habit of his to disappear early in the morning before sunset to simply spend time in the presence of the Father. It served to replenish Jesus, to refill him for the day ahead.
And Joshua. The one who led the Israelites into the Promised Land knew God intimately. That’s why he was given the responsibility. How did Joshua know God so well? Let’s see what Exodus tells us:
“And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood atthe door of the tabernacle, and the Lordtalked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing atthe tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man inhis tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” (Exodus 33:9-11 NKJV)
Joshua stayed behind in the tabernacle. With God.
I’ve probably referred to this verse many times over the years, as it is one of my favorites:
“Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.
In his shelter in the day of trouble, that’s where you’ll find me, for he hides me there in his holiness. He has smuggled me into his secret place, where I’m kept safe and secure— out of reach from all my enemies. Triumphant now, I’ll bring him my offerings of praise, singing and shouting with ecstatic joy! (Psalm 27:4-6 TPT)
Oh my … The Passion Translation just takes it that one step further doesn’t it? David wrote these words; he who learnt to linger with the Lord during the long hours of solitude when the only sounds were the occasional bleats from the many sheep he shepherded for hours on end. It was how he developed a ‘heart after God.’
The enemy knows if he can keep us busy and/or surrounded by noise and distraction, he keeps us from lingering with God. So our connection with God tends to be rushed and compromised. We will often ‘hear what we want to hear’ rather than hear what God is telling us. We only have to reflect on a similar situation with our spouses – when we only connect in busy, noisy and distracted seasons, our relationship struggles, we often simply resort to going through the motions and everything is done quickly and without passion. Until one of us breaks.
Why wouldn’t our experience be similar with our Lord? What we do know is He never leaves us and His love is always constant. He won’t break. Only we will. And He is there ready to pick us up, having forgotten about the distance we’ve kept in recent times.
I hope you are able to make some time to linger this week with the lover of you soul. “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.” (Psalm 149: 4 NIV)
He really does. He delights in you. Believe it. Enjoy Him.
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!
I have worked for my employer for a little over three years now. I do the same thing all day everyday. Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. I see the same computer screen as I fingerprint the numerous people who come into my office. The other day Holy Spirit alerted me to listen and pay attention to people's reactions to seeing their fingerprints on the computer screen, many of them for the first time:
Wow, that is so cool!
I have never seen this before!
Sorry, I am just amazed by this!
Look at that!
Can you believe that we all have different finger prints? No two prints are the same!?
Was I looking at the same machine? It is cool to see the detail, I guess.....
There are some of us who have forgotten how to be in love with and romanced by our King. We have been on this journey for a long time. Our eyes have adjusted to the normalcy of life. We've braced for life's storms for too long that we've gone into self-preservation mode. We have forgotten what is like to have childlike faith. This isn't a rebuke but a call to see things from God's perspective. Be refreshed! Be renewed! Be invigorated again!
I felt a strong impression from our Daddy God to lavish you with love today. If anything today resonates with you, my challenge is for you to take it and meditate on it. Don't allow the familiar to blur your vision of God's great love relationship with you. Don't doubt that you aren't good enough to receive it. Don't think, "He must be talking to someone else..." This word is for you...yes YOU!
I have loved you, [insert your name here], with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. (Jeremiah 31:3)
I will make you, [insert your name here], my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20)
My thoughts of you are countless for you are very precious to Me. (Psalm 139:17)
You can give me all of your worries and cares. They are not meant to be carried by you. I love you so much! (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22)
I am for you. You are my beloved and I am yours. (Song of Solomon 6:3)
I will give you everything that you need. You mean that much to me. (Romans 8:31)
There is nothing that can separate you from My love. (Romans 8:38-39)
I will rescue you. I will protect you. You can trust me. When you call on Me I am there. (Psalm 91)
One of my favorite things to do is watch over you as you sleep. (Psalm 3:5)
I will show you my goodness in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)
I will never forsake you. I will never cast you off. (Psalm 94:14)
You are my masterpiece. My workmanship. I am so proud of you! (Ephesians 2:10)
You are my special treasure. You are so valuable to me! (Exodus 19:5, 1 Peter 2:9)
There is so much more that I could share. Every word in the Bible is dripping with His sweet love for you.
Beloved, stop striving. Stop trying to meet unattainable expectations of yourself...they're not from Him. Daddy God is so pleased with you. He delights in you so much that He breaks out in song over you. (Zephaniah 3:17)
I want to wrap up with this song. This is one to sit and soak in the love of your Daddy.
Let's share in the comments - sometimes life gives us a hard beating! What are some things that you do in order to remember the love God has for you? What are some things we can share with one another to fan the flames of our heart and fill us with hope? What keeps you standing firm and grounded in your relationship with Daddy God, Jesus and Holy Spirit?
Image courtesy of thepathtraveler at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We’re a praying SUMite army, aren’t we, dear friends? Ian from freezing cold Sydney here. I trust those of you in the northern hemisphere are enjoying the warmer temperatures and having fun on summer vacations.
Prayer. It’s one of those little words that we’re all familiar with, it’s a practice we all do, some of us I expect more than others and for most, if not all of us, it can be hard work.
And it’s powerful. Really powerful. It changes hearts, saves people, heals people, restores people and most significantly it connects our hearts with God. The triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“Through relationship, we carry and release the Kingdom onto the earth. This is what joy-filled prayer looks like.” – Beni Johnson
Prayer is Relational
It’s completely relational and usually reflects the state of our connection with God. If you’re finding your prayer life has become transactional (‘Help me, God!’ Thanks, God! etc) it probably reflects one’s relationship isn’t very tight, that there’s some distance between you. But if you find you’re always dialoguing with God throughout your day it more than likely reflects a strong relationship that is growing deeper.
Prayer is simply that … communicating with God. Most often it’s just us and God, other times, it’s with two or three of us and God, and other times it’s in bigger groups, like a Church Prayer meeting.
It’s often hard because of its relational nature with someone invisible. But it becomes easier when our heart desires to be connected to God's heart. He wants to share His heart with us.
There are lots of great stories in the Bible that provide us with examples of how to posture ourselves in our communications with God. Here are three thoughts that I’ve gleaned through my readings.
Seek to know God’s Will
“Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10.
We all know this verse from The Lord’s Prayer. God invites us into His Kingdom, there’s stuff going on that He wants us to participate in, so the more we seek after knowing His will the greater the intimacy we’ll develop with Him. Often we’re guilty of asking for our plans and our desires to be approved by God rather than coming to God and dialoguing with Him about what’s on His heart about a certain matter. Jesus provides the great example of this: at the Garden of Gethsemane the night He is betrayed He pleads with His Father to be freed of His responsibility (“if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me?”). But moments later Jesus determined that His Father’s way was best for him (“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”)
Praying God's Word is a great way of praying His Will. I start many mornings praying Psalm 23 over myself and over others the Lord puts upon my heart.
Praise God Always
“pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of Godin Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 (NKJV)
Did you catch those words I underlined: “for this is the will of God”. What is? To pray without ceasing and give thanks in everything. Start thanking God immediately, praising Him for the outcome of the prayer you’ve just prayed even though it hasn’t happened yet. Praise God before you receive the answer.
Remember when Paul and Silas were chained up in prison (Acts 16)? What did they do? They sang praises to God. What happened? An earthquake that shook the foundations, doors and chains keeping everyone captive, happened. Paul and Silas were freed.
Continue to Stay Close to God and Follow His Ways
Like any relationship, our connection with God can experience peaks and valleys. Hey, we get distracted. Sometimes very easily. I know I do.
Daniel trusted God even when he had to spend a night in a den full of lions. God rescued Daniel and he continued to follow God’s ways rather than the King’s and we’re told he “prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” (Daniel 6: 28)
The more time we spend with God, in reading His Word, and fellowshipping with other believers, we gain greater understanding of His heart, His mission and His ways. His desire is for us to join Him. But the world has it’s own ways and it’s natural for us to follow those ways. But we’re told in Isaiah 35 that there is a highway called the “Way of Holiness” (v8) and is available for all of us who follow God’s ways. There is neither lion nor ravenous beast to be found on this Way. And those who follow it will “enter Zion with singing and everlasting joy will crown our heads, gladness and joy will overtake us and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (v 10)
Follow His Way and we will pray prayers that reflect both God’s desires and ours.
May we encourage each other in our prayer walks by sharing a little in the comments about what works for us in staying connected with God throughout our busy day.
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.
If you were to open Google earth right now, you’d see a picture of earth from on high. Zoom in, and you’d see New Zealand, Auckland, then a suburb. Zoom in. You’d see a house. Oh, and there inside that house, there’s a girl, me, where God placed her.
Zoom out. Zoom in again. India. Another believer. Another location. Another heart.
Sometimes I wonder why on earth I’ve been placed in New Zealand and how to live with the fact that my life here is so seemingly comfortable while other locations are less so. As I’ve lived with that question, though, I’ve come to see that everything in the Kingdom is topsy-turvy, and in Kingdom currency, the most comfortable people don’t have it easy.
The important question is “What is my heart’s response to my circumstances, to this place God has me?”
SUMites, in this post today I feel I’d like to share something that has spoken to me strongly since April last year. The way it came was unusual, which always makes me sit up and take notice. Here’s what happened:
It was 20 April last year, I came on here to check a post I’d written. As I opened the post and saw the opening sentence, I became puzzled. “I didn’t write that sentence,” I thought. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. It was still there. “Huh…. I didn’t write that! … That’s strange”. I grabbed paper and pen and wrote the words I saw. I then looked again and – blow me down - the sentence had gone and the post had gone back to normal!
Was I seeing things? Nothing like that has happened before, but sometimes when things are a one-off they stick out. These are the words I ‘saw’:
He has placed us around the world to love Jesus.
Ever since that day I’ve been thinking about this sentence, us, and our placements. The whole time I’d thought it was about the fact we’ve been placed where we are to love other people. Yes, Lord? But this week, I saw it differently. It’s a long story, but over the weekend He spun me in a different direction, and here’s what I was led to instead:
Wherever we’ve been placed, whatever the ease or discomfort, the primary thing in life is to love HIM. Jesus. For Himself.
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV).
“The first of all commandments is: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29-30, NKJV)
And the second commandment, like it, is to love people; but the second flows from the first. If we are placed for the sole purpose of loving Jesus, then, here’s what’s on the tip of my typing fingertips:
To love Jesus means to find Him enough. To find Him everything we could ever want. To hunger and thirst after Him. To want to worship Him only, in the privacy of our homes. To spend thoughts on Him. To sit in His company and ask Him who He is. And more.
And if we don’t feel we’re good at it, it is even just about taking a baby step forward, saying “I unlock the door that lets You in, Jesus”, much like the graphic imagery of opening for a lover:
“I arose to open for my beloved and my hands dripped with myrrh.” (Song 5:4, NKVJ).
Perhaps this word is, in fact, an encouragement about the sweet spot SUMites have. Because of our unique circumstances, we know, clearly, what gaps we need Jesus to fill.
We need Him as co-parent, protector, friend, and encourager as we walk solo in our faith. We need His hand gripping us. How we need it: That we know! When our faith is challenged, we hurtle towards the secret place (Psalm 91:1); and that’s what it's all about: After all, the secret place is a space that is not shared.
If that’s our placement and a strength of ours, perhaps we can share some thoughts on this. What does it look like to love Jesus? How do we do even more to let Him in?
Nice chatting, SUMites. I, for one, am sitting with this thought.
Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
From the beginnings of my faith journey as a teenager Romans 12:1-2 has been a favorite. It was the one I first memorized and regularly prayed seeking the Lord to help me not to conform to the world by transforming me through the renewal of my mind. Even at that immature stage of my faith I perceived that we were supposed to be different. We weren’t supposed to conform to the world. What does not conforming look like?
It’s not necessarily about vocation nor how we spend our time but it starts within our heart. Heart? But didn’t I just mention ‘renewal of my mind’? I can do something with that? Read some books, listen to some podcasts, watch some of those great preachers on YouTube. I think that’s what I thought for so many years and so I hungered for knowledge. Don’t get me wrong knowledge is critical but what I’ve discovered is transformation only occurs when that ‘head-knowledge’ drops into our heart.
Let’s look at a couple of key verses that reveal this. Another of my go to verses is Proverbs 4:23 - “And above all, guard your heart, for everythingyou do flows from it” and then there’s what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 - “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Just from these two verses we can see the heart is fundamental to everything we do, say, and think.
If you’re not convinced let’s look at a couple more. The Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus and at one point asked him what was the greatest commandment. Jesus’ response was simply, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, body and soul.” (Matthew 22:37 NKJV). Yes, the mind is there to, but it falls behind the ‘heart’ in order of priority. The verse that was pivotal to the writing of my first novel, Angelguard, was another from Jesus in Matthew 12:35 – “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” Once again, we see that all good and evil effectively comes out of our heart.
A Man after My Own Heart
But let me add one final verse, which is perhaps the most compelling. This one is in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel. God has just rejected Saul as king which Samuel, the prophet finds devastating. God sends Samuel to find the one He has anointed to eventually succeed Saul. Samuel goes to Bethlehem to find the one. To Jesse who has many sons. On seeing how impressive the eldest one is, Samuel thinks he’s found the one. But God tells him it’s not that one, nor the next one, and nor the next 5 sons. Samuel on being guided by the Lord asks Jesse, who I expect is by this time thoroughly confused and probably a lot irritated, if there is another son. Indeed there is one of ‘ruddy appearance with beautiful eyes and handsome’ who tends the sheep. The youngest, David. What does God see in this young man that even his father doesn’t see? His heart.
“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (v7 ESV) and later in Acts 13:22 the Lord describes David as such, “a man after mine own heart.” The criterion for reigning in life as far as God is concerned has nothing to with appearance, our status (for example, being the first born) or our achievements. It has everything to do with … the heart.
I hope that this is sufficient evidence to suggest the heart is essential to us being different to the world. But this can be hard for us, especially we men, to get. Men, particularly, like order and logic with a tendency to be analytical and want to be the problem solver. Heart matters can be messy, complicated and hard to solve quickly. So we tend to place less importance on the heart and rather emphasize what we know, what comes more easily to us, and also what doesn’t require us to be vulnerable and reveal what’s going on inside us.
How do we open our heart?
But it’s clear the Lord has given us the ability to “love Him [the Lord] with all your heart and with all of your soul, and all of your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) or why would He say to do it. And actually make it our number one priority.
So how do we do it? I know I don’t have all the answers but there are a couple of things that are essential to being able to do it.
Talk to God. Ask Him about it. Ask Him to help you discover how to love the way He asks us to. He’s not mean, He’s not going to ask us to do something and not show us a way to do it.
Get stuck into the Word. I’ve spent the last three years reading the Psalms. What I so love about the Psalms is we get to see the full gamut of emotions being played out, repeatedly. Plus you get to spend time with King David. This guy’s probably my all time favorite person in the Bible because he “has a heart after the Lord’s” so why wouldn’t you study the guy. He’s got what we all want.
A lot of men love David because he was the Goliath slayer. It was a heroic act of incredible audacity, slaying this nine-foot giant of a monster when David was still a skinny runt of a teenager. I think we often forget this aspect. I can see this pimply skinny kid who is full of bravado hurling this slingshot at the giant. But what many of us forget is that he was full of bravado because he knew God was in this. He knew he could trust God to deliver. He was purely the instrument by which the Lord would do it. It’s one of the great examples of faith.
But David is also a man who wrote poetry and sang love songs to God as he cared for his flock of sheep. Further, his heart’s desire we’re told in Psalm 27 is “to live with him [God] in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.”(v4 MSG)
Here is a role model. Certainly not the only one but may I encourage you to spend some time reading and re-reading the Psalms and meet this David. Discover the passion he has for the Lord. It will blow your mind.
Note: this is a snippet of a project I’m working on that examines the ‘heart’ and what intimacy with God looks like, especially for men. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it here and trust you’ve found it of interest/useful. :)
Hello, dear friends. Ian from sunny Sydney here. It seems ages since I’ve written. I trust the New Year has started well for you and you’re excited for what 2019 holds for you and your family.
Recently, I was reading something written by Will Graham, the grandson of the late Billy Graham, where he sought some counsel from his famous granddad on navigating the challenges of a ministry that required a lot of travel around the globe.
He was expecting some advice on how to run meetings better or how better to emphasize a point but instead received this simple message, “Pray, pray, pray” and “study, study, study.” It made good sense as this was what Will had seen his granddad doing most times he visited, praying and studying.
Abiding and Bearing Fruit
“I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless.” John 15:5 (TPT)
We desire to make an impact, don’t we? Even in the smallest way. Often we apply ourselves to various efforts and activities in order to make an impact. But what’s clear from the impact Billy Graham had was that he knew what was required to produce it – ‘live in union’ with God.
What I find fascinating about this verse is that Jesus tells us the answer to doing life well. And the answer is very straightforward: ‘live in union’ with God.
Living in Union
You’d think we’d all be doing this, right? It sounds pretty straightforward. Okay I’ll have my time with the Lord in the morning and everything will be sweet. Right? Well, that lasted 30 minutes (add you own number here), now what do we do for the next 23.5 hours of the day? BTW, how long do we need to spend with God to be ‘living in union’ with Him?
I’m no expert at any of this and I’m also very conscious of becoming overly religious about it all but what I sense matters is it all starts with the state of our hearts. As I think I’ve mentioned before, we gotta want Him. In order to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, body and soul we gotta want to do it.
Listen to David’s heartbeat:
“Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.” Psalm 27:4 (TPT)
When I read this verse last week I was challenged by David’s ‘one thing.’ What’s my ‘one thing’? This is a man after God’s own heart as David is described. It’s very clear what’s his ‘one thing’. But he stuffed up. He got fearful and anxious many times but he kept coming back to the North Star of his heart: his desire for God.
Now back to Granddad Graham. I expect the North Star of his heart was similar to David’s and he kept fuelling his desire by always praying and studying the Word. The reason we need to do both is that the Word is a key way in which the Lord speaks to us (not the only way). We can be continually reminded of God’s greatness and goodness, His immense love for us through studying the Word. In so doing it helps build up our faith and so prayer becomes easier.
(One thing a lot of us forget is the best way to enhance one’s prayer life is by building up one’s faith. The greater our passion for the Lord, the stronger the desire we have to spend time with Him.)
I struggle with being intentional about studying the Word. It’s very easy to quickly read a passage or a few verses and then move on. But I find the more time I set aside meditating and reflecting on some verses the greater my desire for prayer and reading even more of the Word becomes. As I mentioned before, one of the things I’ve done these past few years is to continuously read the Psalms (because I want what David has!) I love how they’re full of emotion: joy, anger, anxiety, fear, love and passion.
May I encourage you this year to set the North Star of your heart to more of God, not more from God, but more of Him. Dive into the Word. Try different methods, mix up which books of the Bible you read, do it with friends, journal some notes each day on what you discovered, use a commentary, listen to it in your car, etc etc.
Share in the comments something about how you study the Word as it's likely to give all of us some different ideas.
Would you mind if I finished with this blessing from the book of Numbers: (pray it over yourself :))
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’ (Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV)
2019 is marching forward. And we, the Body of Christ, have tremendous assignments and moves of God in which we will participate.
In December I received a great deal of revelation from the Lord about 2019 and 2020. I will likely share what Jesus told me after our fast. But today, I want to encourage you to plan to fast.
The Community fast begins at sunrise, January 7th and end at sundown, January 11th. If at all possible, plan to fast from solid food for five days. Fasting from food is our Biblical model and Jesus modeled fasting. This next passage is our calling:
25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.
28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
29 So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:25-29
I wonder how many of us are contending with the devil in areas of our life and not experiencing breakthrough?
IT’S TIME TO FAST!
IT’S TIME TO PRAY!
I am contending for so much in 2019 as the Lord has told me that this year is a year of preparation and a year of divine reversal. And I believe this is a word for our “Church without Walls.” We are being prepared for what I believe will be the Greatest move of God. And many things that the devil has been directing toward destruction will make an immediate reversal, a 180 degree, turn about. Who wants to claim these words for your life in 2019????
So here are a few hints to make your fast a success.
Plan ahead. Tell your family and your husband. I always let Mike know I will be fasting. I set him up with easy-to-make meals that he can take from the freezer and sizzle up in a pan. This keeps me from being in the kitchen and temptation. Get things ready for your family and let them know that you won’t be eating during meals next week.
Light a candle. Place it in the kitchen. When you see the flame, let it move you to pray. Also, when hunger pangs begin, use them also as a trigger that leads you to pray or praise.
If you can’t fast from food, ask Jesus what to fast from. I bet He gives you a hint.
Be certain to drink a lot of water. I also supplement my fast with some juice, broth, tea, and at times a small protein drink. So, stock up now. If you begin a fast without preparation, on day three when it becomes really challenging, you will succumb to the hunger.
Try not to be overly physical.
Spend time in the morning in prayer. Again, in the evening if possible.
LEAVE COMMENTS. Share what is happening in your fast. Someone out there needs your words, breakthrough, struggles to help push them forward. Please share!!!
What to expect:
In my experience the first couple of days are an adjustment period and the spirit realm waits to see if you are really committed.
In the last half of the fast, Wednesday evening, Thursday and Friday morning, you can hear the Lord with greater clarity. I wish I could explain the “how and whys” of how this works but I just know from experience that our empty stomachs leads to a giant spiritual experience with the Lord. Most of our fasting is NOT about what we want but is truly about connecting with Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.
Pray with DESIRE. Our heart’s desires are the currency in the Kingdom. And when you choose to align your desires with God’s desires, miracles begin to happen.
You will be hungry but after the first half, God moves, and the sacrifice is rewarded through revelation, awareness, deeper intimacy and more.
KNOW that you are fasting with thousands of SUMites all around the world. Pray for each other. Pray for me that I would have wisdom and strength to lead.
I love all of you so much. I hold each of you in my heart. If you have a prayer need, leave it in the comments and I will contend along side of you.
Also, if you plan to fast, would you leave your name and your general location in the comments. I feel led to pray for you and your town or city.
On Monday, I will have a prayer prompt for us to kick-start our prayer time.
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.
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.
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?
Hello, 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.
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’, 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.”
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.”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.” 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.” 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.
1One of 34 ‘strengths’ identified in the Clifton StrengthsFinder® produced by The Gallup Organization, Washington, D.C. 2 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
Today, I’m offering to pray with you regarding intimacy with the Triune, Godhead. You can find me through our ZOOM Virtual classroom. The information is below to access the room. I will start promptly:
Time: Aug 6, 2018 12:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Please plan to login early so you can work out any connection kinks. I plan to chat about each person-hood of the Trinity and explain how the enemy works to keep us from intimacy. We will also pray to break any blockage or deception. We will also learn how to press into deeper intimacy and pray to receive intimacy with each of the Godhead.
I realize that not everyone will be able to join the call and I apologize to those of you who can’t make this work for your schedule. I hope to record it for the future. However, I understand how things take place in the spiritual realm and a live prayer time is utterly powerful. So, join in if you can because you can springboard off my words into greater experiences and intimacy with the Lord, Jesus and the Spirit.
I can’t wait to share and lead you in prayer. Again, find a quiet place where you can pray out loud. I expect the entire session will be approximately 30 minutes. I will take questions in the comments at the end.
Love you SUMites. We are being trained to bring our wisdom of God, our intimacy and our knowledge of His Kingdom to the lost and broken. And specifically, to our spouse and family. Hallelujah.
See you at noon pacific. Hugs, Lynn
Lynn Donovan is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: SUMite Prayer Meeting Time: Aug 6, 2018 12:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Or iPhone one-tap : US: +16699006833,,232212425# or +16465588656,,232212425# Or Telephone: Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 232 212 425 International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/c6Icis5Ge
Your words about Jesus on Monday’s post were amazing. I also realized that for many believers we have a disconnect to one or more of the Godhead. I know that for years I struggled to relate to Father, God, and was absolutely puzzled as to why I felt distant from Him. I also remember the precise moment when God said to me, “Call me Daddy.”
My issues of intimacy were related to my earthly daddy issues. And for all of you who struggle to feel the Father’s love, it’s likely the same for you. For all of you who struggle to feel close to Jesus, the struggle tends to be issues you’ve experienced in the past with siblings or friendship. Trouble relating to the Holy Spirit is related to intimacy and issues with your mother as the Holy Spirit is a nurturer. (This is typical but not always applicable.) We learn about the heavenly Kingdom family from our human family. But so often our human family is broken and the family dynamic we learn is dysfunction. Yet, God redeems.
Since reading the comments on Monday the Lord has said to me, “Lynn, you understand why the disconnect happens between the Trinity and My people. So, please lead the SUMites in prayer to help free them to move into deeper intimacy.”
So, ya. Let’s do that. For anyone who wants to pray with me about this, live, plan to join me in the ZOOM virtual room and I will lead you through prayer. You need to be in a place of quiet and a place where you can pray OUT LOUD. The invitation is at the end of this post.
When pondering with the Lord what to write about Jesus the following sentence came to mind:
I am… Because of who He is.
So, I really want to focus on our identity because of the life of Christ. Let's explore what Jesus modeled for us to emulate and grasp hold of the promises that belong to us because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
But for today, may I share what I believe is the pinnacle purpose of the life of Jesus. Are you ready?
To point to the Father.
The life of Christ points over and over to the Father. Jesus shows us how to become sons and daughters and He turns our face to behold the Father.
Can you share with me how Jesus has pointed to the Father in your faith life? I can’t wait to read about your experiences. And I’ll see you again on Monday with teaching from the Gospels, then for those who want to pray online, meet me Monday live at noon Pacific. Blessings and hugs, Lynn
Here is the Virtual Prayer Room access:
Lynn Donovan is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: SUMite Prayer Meeting Time: Aug 6, 2018 12:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Or iPhone one-tap : US: +16699006833,,232212425# or +16465588656,,232212425# Or Telephone: Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 232 212 425 International numbers available: https://zoom.us/u/c6Icis5Ge
SUMites, each of us have walked the lonely road of disappointment. It is a commonality when you are unequally yoked. Our dreams about a family, a spouse who attends church together and leads the family devotions are only but shadows of a hope lost in reality.
What do we do with disappointment? How do we work through disappointment with the Lord?
I know that I’ve wrangled through disappointment with my spouse. Many a time. Many times, I take my man to the Throne of Grace and receive mercy and grace in my moment of surrender of expectation. In the divine and holy moment of speaking forgiveness over a man who has no idea the strength it takes to place a piece of my heart on the throne of love and surrender. I give him grace that I didn’t receive. And the only way that I can move through this process with complete honesty is through the power and love of Jesus Christ.
And Jesus shows up every time and it is well with my soul.
I can forgive and love my husband fully and with honesty.
But, disappointment with God…… Yikes. I feel shame to admit that I have walked in seasons of quiet confusion and disappointment in God. This is usually a result of something I believe I heard from the Lord given to me to have faith for it to become a reality and then it doesn’t come to pass.
Husband’s conversion Prodigal child Loss of a book contract
Are we afraid to ask God about what we truly want because if it doesn’t happen, we believe we won’t recover from the disappointment? It’s a vulnerable moment to come before our God and tell Him, “I don’t understand. I’m confused. I’m brokenhearted. You let me down.” Just being real here.
SUMites, we need to come before the Throne and just let Him have it all. Tears, pain, loss, and you know what happens? He lifts our head and whispers into our stained face, “I can handle your disappointment. I am bigger than every loss, broken dream and dashed hopes. I will handle your heart. I will heal it. I won’t leave you abandoned and lost. I will lead you into the new Promised Land. I will not fail you.”
Oh, gang, will we dare to believe He is bigger than all of our brokenness?
How do I know He can handle it? His faithfulness in our history over and over plus perhaps we borrow the history of others. Isn’t that what we do when we read the Bible. We lean on the history of believers from the past and their triumphs through faith in God.
Have you experienced moments of divine healing? Does your heart contain memories of His love that healed past wounds. These are our testimonies of His faithfulness that will certainly pull us through our current disappointment.
Today, what is hidden deeply within your heart. If you need to give it to Him, leave it in the comments. I will pray with you to release it and then receive a new gift from Him in the place of your pain. Gather your courage. This is a divine moment of real healing for your life. He longs to heal. He longs to set you free. He longs to love you fully and in for you to rest in quiet trust.
I am crying out with you, Lord, I invite you, I plead with you, heal the wound in my soul, this very hour. I have faith for this healing and in Jesus name, I ask. AMEN
What do you think about developing quiet trust in God. Do you perceive how it’s an ongoing, interactive, and beautiful process of surrender and belief? I believe God. God believes me.
I wonder if there are some of us who struggle with fully trusting God. I wonder if we might think that trust is a mechanical and unquestioning stance. I wonder if we think that we can’t ask God about our life circumstances. I ponder to realize that many believers think they must bear down, endure and pound out their faith with little response from the Lord?
My friends, today, let me speak freedom into your heart. It’s okay to ask the Lord about your life. It’s a beautiful thing to bring your confusion and your pain before the Throne of Grace and receive mercy in your time of need.
God does not require perfection. He requires children that will come to Him.
Oh, that we would just come to Him.
I’m convinced that we are in a distinct and extraordinary season on planet earth. God is releasing gifts, anointing, callings and fulfilments of destinies in His people who have said, “YES!”
Those who have pulled out of their soul in response to the Father, a GIANT YES. Yes, to time spent with Him. Yes, time and time again where television time and other distractions were set aside to read His Word. The tool of yes, carving out time by rising early before the dawn to meet in the secret place where He abides. Yes, to intimacy. Yes, to obedience.
SUMites, He is biding us to spend time with Him and TO KNOW THAT HE IS GOD!
It’s in the unseen moments of dedication, surrender, and affection that we are building the impenetrable fortress of faith that no devil can dismantle. The onslaught of hell is nothing compared to the trust we carry, the gifts in which we live.
So, right now. Imagine yourself with a tool in your hand. It’s the “yes” tool. What is God asking you to carve out of your life in order to say yes to His perfect love and peace?
We are standing upon the moments of some of the greatest breakthrough the world has ever seen. The Lord is poised and ready to pour out His love and favor upon words He has spoken to you. The promises He has given are available and READY for us to believe and receive but the demonic continues to distract, delay and deceive.
SAY “NO” RIGHT NOW to the devices of the devil.
Step into this divine moment of time and use your tools to bring His will to earth as it is in heaven.
Please don’t receive condemnation from my words. Perhaps I wrote them only for me. But I believe the faith and the miraculous which I currently operate in today are the result of day after day, year upon year, with a great big yes from my heart to His.
SUMite sisters and brothers. One question to answer today in the comments:
Do you want to receive ALL that God is pouring out right now? Answer with a YES and let it be a statement of faith that all of heaven takes note and the favor of God can fall fresh upon. Hallelujah!!