368 posts categorized "Love"

Good Friday

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 Crosses 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!

 

Family Activity:

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


God takes our little to produce an abundance

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Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was reading the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 the other day and was challenged to reflect on it from the eyes of the boy who had the five loaves and two fish. If you wish to read along I used the version in John 6.

I don’t think I’ve really even considered it from his perspective and with the SUMite Gathering this weekend I thought there were some wonderful insights to encourage all of you who will be attending. And especially for those of you who might be nervous or a little apprehensive as is very normal before such an event.

Jesus asked the boy for his loaves and fish. Conceivably the boy could have refused the request. But he didn’t as I suspect Jesus, like he was with every child he met, was kind and considerate in making his request.

The boy as an act of love for both Jesus and all the other people hands over his goodies. He shares what is his to participate in Jesus’ mission: to feed the masses of people.

This boy’s ‘little’ gift produced over-abundance as Jesus got a hold of it and we all know what happens – twelve baskets of leftovers. Amazing.

Parable for our Lives

I was struck by how the boy’s action is a practical demonstration of what Jesus calls us to do. The strongest command in all of the gospels is simply to love.

Let’s go now to the night of the Last Supper in John 13. Jesus is sharing his last meal with the disciples in the Upper Room on the night of Maundy Thursday. A few hours later he would be arrested. Jesus starts the night by washing his friends’ feet and encourages them to do likewise in demonstrating one’s love for others by performing such menial tasks. Soon after, Judas leaves having been ‘found out’ by Jesus as to what he was about to do. Immediately thereafter Jesus states once again that he is leaving and shares with his much loved and very confused friends these words:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 34-35 NRSV)

Now back to our boy. Like Jesus, his act of handing over the loaves and fish was an act of love. For Jesus and the community. And Jesus used them to fulfil his mission to feed the community.

God’s in the Multiplication Business

Love is an action. Jesus commands us to love. Very little else, in fact. To love Him and others. If we continue to abide with Him we will come to understand His mission. I suspect the boy knew what Jesus wanted to do with the loaves and fish. It would have been very normal for Jesus to tell the boy when he asked for them: “Would you help me feed all these people by giving me your loaves and fish?”

This weekend some of the SUMite community will come together in one place. Yayyy! What a blessing and an answer to so many of us who’ve prayed about it for a long time. There won’t be 5,000 but a group of people where Jesus will be amongst you fulfilling his mission. Be like the boy and simply respond to Jesus with love for Him, the Sumites who are present, those of us who can’t be there (I’m one of them) and our spouses. 

And believe that your gift (you!) will reap an abundance that will be felt around the globe in all of our homes. Expect the unexpected and step into 'our' community full of faith and boldness.

Blessings for a wonderful couple of days together, may the Lord’s presence be thick and may His Kingdom come over Southern Cali this weekend.

Grace and peace.


When God Asks Questions. Ugh!

Friends,

Today, I'm sharing the Let's TALK LIVE video from Wednesday. It’s vulnerable. It’s real. It’s God’s thoughts about our assignment in a spiritually mismatched marriage.

I love you. March on Warriors!!  Lynn


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exodus 19:8 - Israel agreed to it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My friends, I dare you to read this story differently today.

Jesus write in sand SUMI messed up!

I slipped up…. AGAIN….

I continue to be disappointed in myself because I have this sin, this ugly thing, that I battle on and off.

I wonder, Is God mad at me?

Is God disappointed with me?

I want God to be pleased with me, perhaps He will bless me more if I can just get this right. If I can just do more good and stop this ugly thing.

Can anyone relate?

Sometimes we are so hard on ourselves. We are quick to condemn our failures and faults and to come to a point where we want to give up because we are convinced that God is tired of our continual mess ups.

My friends, I dare you to read this story differently today.

John 8:1 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Think about this……

This woman was caught in her sin. It was the law of the Old Testament that she be stoned to death. And how quick EVERYONE gathered around to cast accusation upon her. As Jesus stood there, He didn’t deny the law, did He?

In His great wisdom, He turned the accusations back upon the accusers.

But what we miss in this story is that there was someone in the crowd who WAS WITHOUT SIN.

Do you know who it was?

Jesus!

He is the only person legitimately entitled to cast a stone of justice and punishment upon this guilty woman. What blows my mind is that Christ wasn’t the accuser. No, he was her recue.

And as this woman who looked at her liberator with a tear-stained face, trembling under the rush of adrenalin, entered into an encounter with love and forgiveness.

She encountered God!

As the accusers slipped silently away, the love from her Savior’s eyes flooded her soul. A lifetime of pain, soul wounds, rejection, and failures, also slipped away. She met grace in a moment of time and this single encounter released her from a lifetime of condemnation and shame.

She wasn’t without sin. But He loved her.

She knew the law and was in rebellion against God. But He loved her.

Her failures, her pain, her sins fell away, silent. Because He loved her.

It’s out of this revelation of His love that she departed knowing that his last words, “Go now and leave your life of sin,” wasn’t a command but a decree for her freedom.

His love and acceptance became her revelation and empowerment that she would not sin again.

Whoa!

I don’t know about you but for me, I focus too many times on the areas where I miss the mark, sin, and failure. But I’m beginning to see that our God is not just tolerating me. He is enjoying me.

The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the new Testament, reflected in Jesus. He is not reluctant to love us. Nor does He need convincing through our good works. He loves us just as we are, sin and all.

It’s out of His tremendous love that we are truly set free from our pain, addictions, tribulations and rebellion. It’s His love that leads us to repentance and not performance.

Oh Jesus,

I’m asking for the Spirit of Revelation and Wisdom to overwhelm my soul today. I ask you to encounter me with this kind of life-changing love. I ask you to reveal to me Your love in increasing measure. Let me see you as the overcomer in the dark as well as in the light. Let me release my guilt and to walk in childlike faith as a son/daughter who is loved by a good Father. AMEN

My Child,

I love you

Happy Valentines Day

Love, Your Good Father

Valentine1


Slay The Marriage Killers - The In-Laws

Slay The Marriage KillersMarriage Killers. How do we slay them?

Today, I want to talk about …

The in-laws.

Every marriage brings with it an extended family. My experience with in-laws was a good one. They weren’t intrusive. At the time I married Mike, he had lived on his own for years. He had a health relationship with his parents, and they lived in another state. Their involvement in our lives centered about holiday visits and trips to visit their place in the summer. And on occasion, a trip to the Santa Cruz where his parents and their friends and family would vacation every year.

Marriages struggle when either spouse fails to become fully liberated from their parents. This is often an issue with your spouse’s maturity and also a proximity issue.

I can tell you from many emails to this ministry that dealing with in-laws is a REAL thing that challenges marriages. I will also tell you that as a mother of an adult son, there is a very special and unbreakable bond between the two that is a life-long reality. (We have a healthy relationship and I live in five hours from him.)

So, what to do if your spouse is still linked to home and Mom-in-law or dad-in-law interferes with decisions and the direction of your family?

If you are dealing with an overbearing, and ridiculously interfering family member, of course, conversation with your spouse is where you start. Pray and ask Jesus to create a perfect opportunity to talk about extended family. Gang, BATHE this conversation, before it takes place, in prayer. Ask the Lord for the right words. Leave accusation and ridicule of the family member out of the discussion. Take about the issues and how the meddling creates strife and leads to conflict and unhealthy boundaries and decisions. Offense will arise quickly in a spouse when talking about a mom or a dad. Tread carefully but with sound examples and SOLUTIONS that would have made for a better outcome.

Listen. Listen. Listen.

Forgive, forgive, forgive.

Love, love, love.

Determine to set healthy boundaries. In an overbearing situation, space is the only way to gain autonomy. And finally moving a distance away may become your only viable option.

Okay, I need help here. What are the in-law’s dynamics in your home? How have you handled interference? OR better yet, how have you and your spouse set healthy boundaries with the in-laws.

How to you restrain your own mother or father from interfering with your family? I’ll see you in the comments.

LOVE loudly this week. Love and bless your in-laws in your prayer time. Let’s see what happens by Friday? Perhaps a few tiny miracles in the extended family. Hugs, Lynn


The Power of Receiving God's Love

Hi SUMites, Ann here!

I've been praying about what to write this week after our wonderful communal fast. I'm sure you're still reflecting on it as I am. Anyway, a phrase has kept coming to me for today's post, and it's this: I receive His love

One of the most important things you can do, in your place of commissioning, is receive God's love.

This phrase is one that I've been carrying around for a while now. It was spoken to me by a visiting pastor who I met briefly at a university student gathering organized by some campus missionaries. At this gathering, he went person by person round the room and spoke a blessing over each of us. There were at least thirty of us, so it was a labor of love to give such personalized prayers despite not knowing any of us. It took a couple of hours and we all listened intently to each prayer. When it was my turn he paused in silence and then said:

"I seem to feel that you are surrounded by those who have very comfortable lives. In this 'comfortable' place you're going to help a lot of people - but you're going to have to be out of your comfort zone to get into their zone. It's humanitarian work."

"Too right," I thought to myself, thinking of how deeply uncomfortable I am living in a place where atheism surrounds me. But to see it as humanitarian work? That put a different lens on it. Then, the pastor finished with this:

"The main thing you must do, to make sure you don't get weary, is receive God's love. Just focus on receiving His love, and you're not going to get weary."

Ever since that day I've been chewing on what it looks like to deliberately receive His love. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this too.

One thing I started doing, after receiving that pastor's wisdom, was to look back on the year each December, re-read my journals, and jot down moments where I experienced God's love. I would reflect on what those moments told me about how God perceives me, and I would write it up into a testimony with the heading 'How God has loved me this year'. These beautiful write-ups are things I pull out and read often.

That's one way I receive God's love; but another idea might be to meditate on 1 Corinthians 13 and think about what those features mean for my relationship with Him. He is, for example, patient and kind with me, is not easily angered by me, hopes and bears all things when it comes to me, rejoices in truth around my life, and more.

It's perhaps easier to focus on what we are to do - love others, and love God (Matthew 22:37-39; James 1:27) - than it is to sit back and receive; but like any kind of love relationship the giving and receiving go hand in hand. Hebrews 4:11, for example, tells us just how important it is to enter the rest of receiving Jesus Christ, and when we make deliberate efforts to do so it will protect us from falling.

Not only that, but making room for God's love brings power to our faith walk -- Something that is desperately needed during an intense season of humanitarian work. You could say that's the season we're all in right now!

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

Ephesians 3:16-19, NIV

SUMites, I'd be keen to hear more from you on how we can practice receiving His love. Feel free to share ideas in the comments, along with any other thoughts you might have.

Till next time,

Ann 


Because of the Manger... Birth of the King!

From my prayer time this Christmas: December 2018

From the Father:

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com 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.


Because of the Manger... Shrug Off The Ugly Sweater

SUMites,

I’m so excited for Christmas this year. I went extra crazy decorating the house. Take a look.

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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.

Christmas Door 2018

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.

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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

Emmanuel God With US spirituallunequalmarriage.com

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This is my ugly sweater, my cute dog Finn.and my Broncos Cap! See you in the comments! BIG HUGS!


A Table Set For Victory

Hey SUM family, Tiffany Here.

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:

 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

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.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

TABLE BEFORE ENEMIES*Photo credit: Loving Grace Ministries

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.*

God has gone up with a shout,
The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
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.


Deliverance After YEARS Of Torment! Hallelujah!

Hello SUM Family, Tiffany Here!

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

This Is Just The Pits!

Do You Want Evidence Or The Truth?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Learning to Receive Love

Photo-1478562672393-2412e5b9d634
Photo credit: Austin Neill

Hi everyone, Ian from Sydney here. 

For most of my SUM married life I thought I was okay doing the Christian life on my own. I’m an introvert by nature and enjoy my own company and for a number of years struggled with being in crowded situations. I still do and will usually choose to sit on the end of rows in any theatre or auditorium. This is purely a relief mechanism so that I know I can ‘get out’ quickly if I need to.

As we’ve talked about many times over the years, it’s often easier for us Christians to maintain peace in our households by not engaging too much in church activities and such like. I’ve actually been very blessed by my wife who has always actively encouraged me to attend church: she knows it’s good for me. However, I resisted for years getting involved in other activities. I typically engaged in things that could be done at home (eg, virtual prayer team) and things I could do on my own, ie, reading/studying/quiet time.

Don’t get me wrong; I particularly enjoy one-on-one conversation and rarely struggle chatting with people. I work on the principle that ‘everyone likes to talk about himself or herself’ and so very easily slip into asking people questions about their life. I can easily spend a decent amount of time with someone and know a reasonable amount about them and they’ll be none the wiser about me. I mostly go away feeling pretty content.

Fell in Love

A few years ago something changed. I feel in love. With Jesus. I’m not exactly sure of the date and time but it occurred around the time I was invited to join one of our prayer teams that involved meeting fortnightly. In addition, we were asked to attend another weekly prayer session that met for one hour each Wednesday night with an expanded group of between 15-20 people.

It was an honour to be asked to join this group. Its leader was the Prayer Pastor for my church and she has a wonderful relationship with the Lord. The group had been together for a number of years and there was this unity and connection that I soon came to desire. Not just with each other but with the Lord.

Unlearning

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m an avid learner. Everyday I seek to learn. But interestingly as I mature I realise the importance of “unlearning.” There are so many habits we develop that can only be changed by incorporating new ones and unlearning the existing ones. As I was thrust into these two groups I was learning habits of prayer and worship but at the same time having to let go or unlearn others that I had held onto for so many years.

The Power of Community

Part of this process of unlearning I’ve found requires a willingness to receive. A willingness to open up and allow others to love me, to teach me, be willing to sit at their feet and learn. This can involve moments of tremendous vulnerability. And learning to trust.

I’ve discovered that in my habits of relationship of learning lots about the other I have inadvertently ‘closed’ myself off from others. I wasn’t allowing them to love me. Yes, I expect this behaviour started in my teens and has simply continued. Habits are like that. Am I afraid of revealing myself? Sure. I must be. But it’s also brought me much frustration regarding my friendships. It takes two to tango doesn’t it? 

We were made for community. God is communal in His very nature- three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And we are formed in His image. Therefore, for us to achieve all we are to as humans we require some form of community.

So we can only mature in our relationship with the Lord in a communal context. Yes, it’s critical we develop sound disciples of solitude, silence and prayer in the secret place but we also need community. For many of us we've discovered the wonders of being members of this community and some special friendships have developed as a result.

“Grace is a community you enter.” (Bill Thrall and Bruce McNichol)

Grace is a concept that I’m only now really beginning to understand. I’ve probably limited it to the notion that it is “unmerited favour” but now I’m coming to realise it is all around us. It is what God is. Grace is always available. We’ve just got to enter into it.

Loving community is a place where grace resides. Jesus is in the centre of it.

Humility and Grace

This is another concept I’ve probably misunderstood. “Humility is trusting God and others with me. Humility is not only how you enter this community, it is how you live in it everyday.” (Thrall and McNichol)

When we trust, we open the door for grace to walk in. This activates the Lord’s power to work in our life. To change our habits, to rid us of sin, to love more generously and compassionately, and so on. I’ve witnessed this in my own life these past few weeks as I shared one of my struggles with my wife and a good friend. Almost immediately as a result of both of their non-judgmental acceptance and love, the struggle has lost much of its power.

I’d love it if others were able to share instances of when you’ve seen “grace walk in” and change elements of your life.


This Is Just The Pits!

Josephs-Coat-of-Many-Colours Josephs-Coat-of-Many-ColoursHello Sum family!

Tiffany here:

It is very easy to see the heaviness and struggle going on in the world. Just in our own community there is a weight of illness, backsliding (in ourselves or our spouses), addictions, anger, depression, anxiety, spiritual attacks to our identity, self-worth, motivation, and will to keep going in the faith. There is bitterness and envy, there is confusion and doubt - toward others and even God Himself. It's like we have lost sight of who we REALLY are (we'll talk more about this later).

Before I continue, I want to preface that I don't believe that our SUM community is in this bad of shape. I don't believe that we are all struggling at all times. I do however, see a trend of these things happening in the ranks...and it seems to be increasing. I myself have been struggling a lot lately. I feel as though I have opened the door to anger and fits of rage again and it is running rampant and tearing apart my family as I unleash it's fury over my husband and children. I know I am not a monster and YET...that is what the evidence has been showing me lately (tune in next time to learn more about evidence - it's life changing!).

This is where the grace of God comes in. Where the Spirit of the Lord is - there is what? FREEDOM!

In these next couple of posts, I want to share some things that I have been learning recently in God's classroom and I pray that as we work through these things together, we will gain ground in our faith and also in victory over struggles.

I have been reading From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris (you can find the book here). In this book he walks us through the life of Joseph and explains that there are ten different tests that we must go through in order to fulfill the purposes that God has on your life. Reading this book has been so insightful. I have been able to look at the life of Joseph in such a different way. The test I want to touch on is the Pit Test (chapter 2). Let's check in on Joseph:

So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan. Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. Then they said to one another, "Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ' Some wild beast has devoured him.' We shall see what will become of his dreams!" But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, "Let us not kill him." And Reuben said to them, "Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him" - that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father. So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it (Gen. 37:17-24).

 As we just saw, his brothers conspired to kill him. In verses 4 and 8 of Genesis 37 we find out that his brothers all hate Joseph because he was Jacob's favorite. It made matters worse when Joseph so shamelessly shared the dreams that he had of being bowed down to by his brothers and his parents. Morris goes into more detail throughout the previous chapter (chapter 1) of his book but essentially Joseph's pride is what mainly caused this rift in his family. Out of his pride he helped fuel the events that led him to this pit moment.

So what about us? What is the pit test? How do we end up in the pit?

Like it or not, all of us will go through some times when we feel as if things are just the pits. We may not be sure just how we got into that pit - and even less sure as to how to get ourselves out. But one thing is certain - we won't move ahead into our destiny unless we get out of that pit...Jesus knew we would have trouble because He know we would be living in a world contaminated by the effects of sin. As a consequence of sin, this world is full of  trouble - and pits are just one form of it. Pits are simply a by-product of a fallen world. (From Dream to Destiny, p.29, 31)

Next time I want to talk about the mind blowing truth I gleaned from this book about our time in the pit and how Satan schemes to keep us there. Until then, I can't wait to see you in the comments. What kind of pit are you in right now? How can we pray for you as a family to raise you up out of it?

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Corinth. 15:57

 


Seasons in Life

Images-5Hello, Ian from Sydney here.

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

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

A Love Affair

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

He’s called us into a love affair.

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

I find the same applies to our relationship with Jesus.

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

Spiritual discernment

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

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

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

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

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

Burning Bushes in every season

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

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

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


Jesus Is Brilliant - Matthew 18

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comIf another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. —Matthew 18:15

Imagine, what would happen if someone came to you personally and privately (Matthew 18) to chat about something they held against you. And you actually listened. Responded, “I’m so sorry you felt that way. It was never my intention and I would never knowingly be mean, vindictive, or harsh. I didn’t realize I hurt you. Please forgive me and let’s make this right.”

The culture of honor, where God lives and people thrive, exists through preserving respect and honor. This verse is specific to the need to privately point out the offense. On Friday,  The situation completely blew up due to the lack of a private and honest conversation between the leader and the women who were “concerned.”

By the way, I hate the word "concerned" coming out of a believer. When someone brings something to you and says, “I’m concerned.” Run for the hills. It’s never going to be a good thing. It’s a cloaked word that really means I don’t trust you. You need to prove yourself to me and if you are very, very convincing I might change my mind about the condemnation and judgement I’ve already set against you.   (Just my perspective.)

However, taking a conflict to a person and talking it out in private leaves the door open to relationship. To love. To honor and unity. Taking this action leads to the last half of Matthew 18:15. You win that person back… Back to love. Back to relationship. Back to community. Back to Kingdom!  Hallelujah.

This is the goal of Jesus words here. Unity, love, and family. This is a culture of honor.

Therefore, let us carefully consider these words spoken by Christ, and put them into practice. Sin and conflict in the church are inevitable. But, if we handle sin Christ’s way: peace, sanctification, forgiveness, the result will be the preservation of reputations and the deepening of trustful relationships. If we handle conflict and sin our way, we can expect chaos, warfare and divisions in the church.

Once again, awareness is 75% of the battle. Catching yourself in the midst of going into conflict and examining your motives then determining to bring honor to your life and the life with whom you are in disagreement, is the way to resolve these difficulties.

Okay, here is the hard part of today’s teaching. Whom are you in conflict with in your heart? Is there a possibility that you need to pray and approach that person one-on-one to seek resolution?

I know this is simplifying situations. There are relationships which are very unhealthy and so many of us have taken every step possible to seek reconciliation, but to no avail. And there are relationships that any attempt to reconcile only opens up more conflict and pain. But, today, I’m asking our Church Without Walls, is there someone in your life, online, at your local church, or in the neighborhood that you are holding an offense?

Ask the Lord if this is the season of reconciliation. Seek His wisdom before you proceed. Not all forgiveness means a restoration of a relationship. So much of forgiveness is tearing down the prison walls which we have constructed about us. Pray about it a lot. Fast and pray. Many in our SUM community are fasting today. I’m fasting for at least 24 hours. Join in.

If you are in the process, leave me a quick note (No details) just a note that you are going to seek resolution. I will pray to cover you with the wisdom of heaven and the peace and a spirit of reconciliation. In Jesus name. AMEN

See you Friday where we address what to do if one-on-one reconciliation isn’t possible.

LOVE YOU MY SUMites!!  Have a great weekP

PS: I'm chatting with Ian Atcheson this Wednesday  at 3 pm. Pacific on Facebook Live. Tune in and meet one of our long-time writers.


The Destroyer Has Arrived. Do You Know Its Name?

Love over fearLove vs. Fear

Choose wisely.

SUMites, I’ve been in a new classroom with Jesus. Wow has it been interesting. ….. and timely.

And since the beginning of this blog in 2006 the Lord instructed me to share what I’m learning. So, in the next few weeks we are going to look as several aspects of our society and church relationships. We will examine conflict resolution, restoration and honor. We will look at the spiritual realm in light of the teaching and perhaps touch on a few more issues as the Lord leads.

Additionally, all of the teaching and skills we acquire through this series will have a wide affect on our homes, our church life, our social constructs, marriages but mostly in our personal relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Today, I’m just gonna jump into the deep end of the pool and hope I don’t drown or loose you. Because when you wrap you mind and heart around what is at the heart of conflict in this current season, the perspective changes your thoughts, challenges powerless faith, and realigns your prayers to become truly powerful and effective (James 5:1).

In my last post I shared how I sensed that the “Church” began to move into a new season, the Kingdom Era, here on earth. This dispensation of the Kingdom will include the fulfilment of passages such as Hebrews 2:4, Acts 4:30, Acts 14:13, & Mark 16:17-18 just to mention a few. However, the demonic realm also unleashed its weaponry to defeat the church and hold it captive. And this is what I believe has also occurred in the last couple of years.

Witchcraft through blood sacrifice and unholy covenants spoken by covens and sorcerers all over America and all western nations has stirred up an assignment of division. This is a Principality that has been released with a specific mission to divide and destroy. Its purpose is to fulfill one of the three main ministry arms of the devil; to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). It is intent to destroy any possible unification of the church, it is relentless to destroy any and all Godly identity, and to further destroy the centrality of the Kingdom which is family and marriage.

Duh! Like you didn’t already know this. But what you may not perceive is the devices the devil is using to make this happen.

Offense.

And the playground of this principality: ALL social media platforms.

The attacks are proficiently active on social media. I think that you can catch it in operation almost hour-by-hour when opening up a social media app or flicking on the news. Although I’ve seen it in churches within leadership, I see it in companies and in schools. How about our governments? Ugh!

Let me be clear here. This is a direct assault via witchcraft upon the land. And right now I see little response from the Kingdom of God. In fact, the people of God are the main targets of this black, slippery eel that nips at your nose and will lead you along until, wham, you gulped down the bait and you are tagged and bagged.

The enemy is doing everything within it’s power to cause believers to become offended. Satan broadcasts lies, scenes of hate, inflated accusations and more to cause a reaction. The enemy works relentlessly in Facebook posts, groups and messages. Twitter is a blaze with the political spirit and fueled by offense. Television, magazines, the pulpit???? Every platform where Christians gather, there is likely an assignment of the enemy and in many cases ,a real live person who is a witch, fueling the conversation and looking for a reaction. And a reaction fueled by offense quickly spirals into anger and then into hatred. It can happen so fast you don’t even know what hit you. (BTW, I’ve seen witches in church services, it’s a for real thing. I will get a pounding headache when witchcraft is active.)

However, again, I will state clearly that 75% of our victory in spiritual warfare is awareness. You are now aware. Now here is the remaining 25% to help you catch yourself and keep yourself from offense.

Several years ago, when I was learning and reading books about offense, I became very intentional in my life to start to catch myself when I felt the sting or anger of an offense rising up in me. Any area of offense is ungodly. ANY AREA. So, I would immediately realize the feeling of offense. With great determination, I would take my feelings in prayer to the Lord and then surrender, ask for forgiveness, and seek the Lord to help me navigate the situation/interaction/words with this person or persons. I would seek the Lord for HIS truthful explanations in the situation, even asking Him to show me where I failed in the scenario and where others failed. (I wrote a great deal about recovering from emotional wounding and escaping offense a few years ago. Here is a link to the first post: OFFENDED

I realize that people do things that hurt us, that are ugly, black, and from the pit-of-hell, evil. But I also know that these offenses by others are often occupied by demons of unforgiveness and bitterness. And these two actors open the door for oppression. I don’t want to be ruled by demonic lies. So, I willingly take my hurts, offenses, sins against me to my Father. I surrender them. I FORGIVE THE PERSON. I receive the healing forgiveness of Jesus and ask the Lord to help me make things as right as they can be. Restoration is broad and looks different for each situation. This is not an easy process but necessary. For more recovery tips, read the post mentioned above.

It’s time church.

We have the mind of Christ. We can choose to refuse to be offended. We can choose to stop going to places and people who stir you up. AND you can pray. Our prayers can absolutely defeat the witchcraft, the demonic realm and destroy every assignment of the devil. I know emphatically this is true.

We MUST stop playing the game. Immediately when you feel offense rising, shut it off, take it to the cross, seek forgiveness and ask the Lord for full restoration. When we stop being offended by one another this GREAT, BIG GIANT CHANCE for unity might really happen. It must start with the church.

We can be an activist. We can stand for what we believe. We can express our views in many different aspects and forums. I believe the Lord desires this of His people, but we must live above annoyance, offense, and the hatred of the world.

Because:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. —John 13:35

And this kind of love will change a spouse, a house, a region, light revival, unify the church and usher in the greatest era of the Kingdom of God….. Heaven on Earth!!!

HALLELUJAH!

On Friday, I want to share some specifics about conflict resolution based on Matthew 18. On down the road we will look at how we develop a culture of honor. How we honor one another when we don’t agree. We will look at restitution vs. punishment and more.

Monday's Question: Who is brave enough to share how offense happened in your life and how the Lord helped you to escape?

LOVE YOU, Lynn


The Father's Heart

Dad-child-holding-hands-620x264
Photo courtesy of Fairfax County website

Ian here. As I walked one of our dogs this morning I asked the Lord what was on His heart for this community. He responded almost immediately with: “My heart.” I enquired further and He wanted us to know how much He loves us and how much His heart is for us. My sense is that there are some of us (perhaps only one) who is struggling a little at the moment to know, not just in their head, but in their heart, how much our Father loves them.

False Narratives

I’ve shared a number of times how for much of the early years of my marriage I believed that it wouldn’t be blessed nor could I have a ministry because I was unequally yoked. In meeting Dineen in 2012 I came to realize this to be a false narrative.

For much of my Christian life I feared God. Not in the reverent way that the Bible talks about fearing God but in a frightened sense. This was all due to my impression of a father. I grew up fearful of my dad and as he was my role model of a father I presumed similarly of God, our Father. As a consequence, I didn’t really want to draw close to God.

“The single most important thing about us is our idea of God and its associated images.” – Dallas Willard

Both of my beliefs had significant impacts on my life.

And they were both false.

God is Christlike

It has only been through coming to know Jesus that I discovered the “fear” factor wasn’t true. God stepped into the world as a man but as Colossians 1:15 assures us, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” and Jesus himself confirms it when he tells Philip: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) 

It’s in the wonderful discovery of getting to know Jesus that I’ve come to know the Father and His characteristics. And the Father certainly doesn’t want us to be scared of Him so we don’t want to draw close to Him. 

A Loving Father

If you still require any convincing have a look at this magnificent verse in the parable of the Prodigal Son:

“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20 MSG)

Take a moment or two to mediate on this verse. Put yourself in the son’s shoes. See your Father in the distance, then come charging at you with open arms. On reaching you He embraces you and swings you in the air like your dad or mom may have done when you were a kid. And then he kisses you! 

How do you feel? 

This is how God, the Father, loves us. This is His heart for us. His heart pounds for us. For you and I.

Cherish this moment. With Him. And enjoy Him. And being loved, embraced, kissed, fought for … by Him. 24 by 7.

Grace and peace, dear friends.


The Glorious Company

Easter 2012On this Monday morning following Easter, I feel as though I want to share a passage that is continually running in my soul right now. It’s the passage that Easter is leading me to comprehend. It is the message from the Holy Spirit to the church in this season.

THIS is our inheritance and expectation as a daughter or son…. Or Bride of the King of Kings.

It’s a complete, full circle, from where we started this journey with the Father asking the Israelite slaves, Will you marry me.

BEHOLD! Our destiny, BRIDE OF THE MOST HIGH GOD.

The Glorious Company

18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”)

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. —Hebrews 12:18-24

Hallelujah! AMEN!

SUMites, tell me about your Easter this year. Did your spouse attend church. Did you feel the love of Jesus. Did you pray and give Him thanks. Do you say, YES! I adore you, Lynn


FOR THIS He Died

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSaturday:

Dead.

In the Grave.

THIS is what He died for:

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. — John 15:16

He died to give us freedom, just like the Israelites and the people of earth in every generation since then. He died for His bride.

Will you marry me?

 

 

What scripture passage did Jesus die for in your life? Tell me in the comments? I want to give glory to God!


The Orphan Spirit and Identity Crisis

Hey there SUM family, Tiffany here! 

In the first post on this new writing journey for the SUM community I talked about the feeling of being a throw-away kid. This operated in my life in many ways. I was plagued by thoughts such as -

I will never be able to do enough.  Pete Scazzero

I am not good enough.

I am just trying to get your attention.

I cannot measure up to your standards.

What more do you want/expect from me?

I can't handle these demands.

I don't deserve it / you.

I honestly haven't realized – until last week during a healing prayer session with Lynn - that these thoughts that have plagued me for years are not only from the enemy but HAVE A NAME. The Orphan Spirit operates in such feelings as abandonment, loneliness, alienation, and rejection. Ouch! Looking back on my life, this has been the major theme! I am so used to a life like this that it almost seems unnatural to operate in freedom from this. (Isn't that truly the enemy's tactic..to turn things upside down and make it seem like “normal?”) The more I look into this topic, the freer I feel. It is almost as if the scales are falling from my eyes! I am not an expert by any means but I intend on digging deeper...I see this as a chapter in Vicarious to Victorious as the Lord leads me to write this book.

Or · phan: a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents; one deprived of some protection or advantage.

I have to say that this journey of freedom has been hard. I have realized that I have to truly fight for victory and the more I gain momentum, the more I have to be on guard. I don't say this to scare anyone. The journey is long but the triumph is so much stronger than anything I have to endure. I read Romans 8 this morning in my quiet time. This is a familiar passage to me and probably for many of you. What really jumped out to me was verse 18,

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Wow, just wow. Today this familiar verse hit me like a ton of bricks. The sufferings that I am presently dealing with – the baggage and destructive mess left by the Orphan Spirit – has taken a toll on my life. My parenting. My marriage. My friendships. Everything!

I have been living with an identity crisis YEARS after trauma from father figures. The Orphan Spirit has left me deprived of protection and advantage. My identity for the longest time has been in productivity, performance, approval. These things have always been fleeting. Even if it seemed as though I was getting what I thought I wanted, said approval, I still couldn't accept it. If I could describe the labels that I allowed the Orphan Spirit to place on my life they would include such things as: worthless, unwanted, unworthy, unloved, ineffective, desperate, needy, clingy, an object not a person.

BUT God!

He has given me a new identity!

Let's look at Galatians 4:4-7:

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

This does not sound like the labels I had placed upon myself at all! Thank you God, You give us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57)!

In digging deeper into God's word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to renew my mind and transform me (Romans 12:1-2) I am seeing more and more that I have the ability to see my TRUE identity. My identity isn't really in crisis at all. In fact God is using the trauma of my past to help me look forward with more confidence than before. I am not who I once was. Instead of those old labels I can rest assured that my identity looks more like: victory, confidence, powerful, effective, fierce, redeemed, helpful, compassionate, empathetic, gracious, artistic and creative, unique, valuable.

Joseph Mattera wrote for Charisma News, “The only way to break this orphan spirit is for people to be filled with a sense of the Father's love for them in Christ, which then enables them to become mature sons who serve God out of knowledge of His undeserved grace instead of trying to earn the Father's love through performance.” (You can read through the entire article by clicking HERE)

I want to close this with a chance to meditate on the newer song from Passion feat. Kristian Stanfill and Melodie Malone – God You're So Good.

As you listen focus on these words:

I am blessed

I am called

I am healed

I am whole

I am saved in Jesus’ name

 

Highly favored

anointed

Filled with Your power

For the glory of Jesus’ name

 

And should this life

Bring suffering

Lord, I will remember

What Calvary

has bought for me

Both now and forever

 

To be continued...

I'll see you in the comments dear ones!

 

In His Marvelous Grace,

Tiffany


Marriage Redemption In Real Life This Easter

I received this from Sumite, Becky Walker. It is testimony for all of us. Blessing this week. Love, Lynn

-----

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comFor anyone who does not know me or what God has been doing, I want to remind everyone of God's promise to me. I wrote the following in a post around Thanksgiving: 

Years ago, before my husband left (3 years ago), the Lord promised me that my husband would return, not a slave to sin, but a brother in Christ (Philemon 1:15-16). He also promised me that He would give my husband an undivided heart and place His Holy Spirit in him, remove his stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26). I have clung to these promises and claimed these promises, even in the face of opposition, because of the faith He gives me.

On January 19th, exactly a week after the end of our corporate fast, my husband, who had been separated from me for over three years, Charlie, contacted me to ask if we could have dinner as a family. It was totally unexpected since just hours earlier, he had picked up the kids like normal for the weekend. When I read the text, I was amazed and excited. I knew that God had been working but this was just the beginning, and only later would I find out just how much God has been doing behind-the-scenes.

We all had a very nice dinner at a restaurant that used to be one of our favorites and that night he contacted me some more to talk about wanting to go to counseling. What started off as one simple text and request evolved into us going out to dinner as a family about once a week and in a few short weeks, he had moved home. I sought the Lord intensely about this rapid change and the Lord kept reminding me of His promise and that it was unfolding before my very eyes.

Charlie spoke with the married adult pastor at my church, Pastor Berry. When I asked the pastor the following weekend to pray for me to have wisdom regarding my decision about such swift reconciliation, he told me "I've met with Charlie and I could tell that he has a repentant heart."

I actually had asked him to pray that I would not have the fruit of the Spirit if I'm not doing God's will because I know I can't do anything without Him. I didn't want to be deceived by the amount of joy, peace, and love I had that was overflowing onto Charlie and the kids. The pastor told me more than I even expected to hear. I was reminded that the enemy does not give peace, joy, and love; it could only be from the Lord. The Lord has also given me so much love for his son that was conceived through the other relationship. He is 19 months old and his name is Mattis.

I have been witnessing the fruit of the Spirit from Charlie as well and upon meeting our new marriage mentors. I discovered that he said he has accepted Christ as his Savior.

He has since joined a discipleship group, we are going to participate in a 10-week marriage mentoring program, and we are both looking for a bible study group to join together. I know that the Lord is still working, and he's not done yet. When the Lord blessed Job with double the amount he had before, it took time for those children to be born and for the livestock to be amassed but the Lord did it in all in His timing and that is what I am trusting him to do, not only for Charlie and his personal relationship with Jesus but with my family as well.

I am clinging to that promise as well.

We are currently waiting for the divorce to be final so that we can remarry and file for joint custody of his son. The enemy is constantly trying to make me doubt what God has done and is doing, but the Lord has taught me the spiritual disciplines I need to combat the enemy's lies and the spiritual armor I need to stay protected. I am overwhelmed by everything God has done and continues to do. Charlie and I both agree that everything that has happened is worth it because our marriage will be stronger than ever with our foundation in Jesus, and we now have a family of 5. 

I am eternally grateful for everything and I pray that our testimony encourages someone. Do not ever give up on God's promises in your life.

If you have earnestly sought the Lord about His will for your life and He continues to promise you something, no matter how seemingly impossible it is, cling to those promises. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign, in control, and His ways are beyond comprehension. Who are we to doubt His power and His will? My prayer is that all believers would be filled with peace and joy as we trust in Him and that joy would overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit. The enemy will always try to control us but if you are a child of God, you are free from that slavery and you never have to return to your old master again. Jesus gives us peace that surpasses all understanding and joy abundantly;

He is always the One we should turn to. 

With love, Becky

Read Becky's previous post: God's Promise For Marriage

Biography:

My name is Becky Walker. I live in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am a stay-at-home mother of three children; my 8-year-old, Charlie Walker, V and my 6-year-old, Lily, and my soon-to-be stepson, Mattis, who is 19 months old. I teach English to children in China through VIPKID and I’ve never enjoyed a job more. I live in a house that’s owned by our church, another blessing from God. I love spending time with my family and singing praises to God.


The GREAT Power of Our Warfare

Jesus Names of SUMOkay, the last weapon we will cover is the name of Jesus.

His name can launch a war, seal the fate of nations, change the destiny of a thousand generations. His name can cast out legions of devils and free captives from the darkest depression. His name heals the blind and destroys cancer. His name can bring freedom, deliverance, new destinies and fortunes.

For an entire season of my life, I would mumble around whispering the name of Jesus. Over and over, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. His name spoken aloud changes my heart and my home. Can I share something with you that is a peek into my life? Well, ahem, even today when I wake in the night and make a trip to the bathroom, without being aware, the name of Jesus still slips from my lips. “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, you are my King. Jesus, I adore you. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

Oh, that we would all have the name of Jesus continually tumbling from our lips.

Everything changed for me when I came to wrap my mind, heart and spirit around three passages of scripture and how Jesus is at the core.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. —Ephesians 2: 6-7

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. — Colossians 1:27

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. —Colossians 3:3

SUMite Nation, come to the truth and grips with these passages. Let them dwell in you and you in them. We are seated with Christ in heaven. Christ is IN US, the hope of glory. We are hidden in Christ in God.

Who could ever touch us if these are true?

 

Jesus, Prince of Peace
Jesus, Prince of Peace

So I have a simple question for you, are these your truths? If you don’t know for sure, that’s okay. But I ask you to start speaking them frequently and regularly over your life and faith. Ask Jesus to reveal to you what these passages imply and how to draw from them to defeat your challenges, circumstances, struggles and your fears.

 

The weapons of our warfare: The Word of God, Worship, Blood of Jesus, The name of Jesus. And our offensive weapon is our Sword. And to write about the Sword, well that my friends, would take about ten years.

I hope this series encouraged you, equipped you, challenged you and took your further on your journey with Christ. I love you. Lynn

 

Post Script: I wrote this series a month ago and I find it so wonderful that it concludes just a few weeks prior to Easter. The next few weeks I'll be writing thoughts about Easter, Passover and our Beloved, Jesus. :) I would love to read your thoughts about our beloved Jesus. Talk to me in the comments by dearest brothers and sisters. I adore you.


Submission vs. Obedience - - Part 3 By: Martha Bush

Submission vs. Obedience - - Part 1
Submission vs. Obedience - - Part 2

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comIntroduction by Martha Bush

I want to thank Lynn for giving me the opportunity to tell my story of the most difficult season  I faced in my marriage when submission vs. obedience came into play, as I obeyed the Lord’s direction for my life, and the opposition I faced from my husband in doing so.  (Part 1, Part 2)

These posts weren’t meant to degrade my husband. Looking back, this season was more about breaking strongholds and burning out impurities in my life that had kept me from putting God first.

I want to conclude with two questions that I struggled with the most.

Question #1: Am I Hearing Your Voice, Lord?

Trusting my heart to know if it was the Lord’s voice was entirely new to me. Perhaps it was because, since childhood, I had never allowed myself to think and feel for myself, nor had I ever made my own decisions.

Scriptures assured me God’s voice was within me.

  • Jeremiah 31:31-33: I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.
  • Deuteronomy 30:11-14: The word is very near unto you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.

What I was hearing on my heart was being confirmed by scriptures, sermons, prophetic words, and even in dreams.

My thoughts were still on my husband. Many days, I cried out in agony: “What about my husband, Lord?”

In Luke 14:25-34, Jesus is encouraging his followers to think about what it means to follow Him. To do this, they would have to forsake everything – including family – in order to make this type of commitment to Jesus.

Question #2: How Can I Balance 1 Peter 3 to Honor and Reverence My Husband With Harsh Words?

Take a look at the synonyms for harsh:

  • Brusque, hard, unfeeling, unkind, brutal, stern, acrimonious, bad-tempered, rough, discordant, dissonant, unharmonious

My answer to my question came after I made a “public fool” of myself.

When my husband retired, our two daughters and I gave him a surprise party in the small town in Georgia where we grew up. I prepared a beautiful speech in his honor.

As I stood before the crowd to give my speech, suddenly harsh words started ringing in my ears that began the day I approached him to discuss my new direction from the Lord.

An attitude rose up inside me, and I couldn’t give the honor speech I had written. Instead, I laughed my way through a rambling, meaningless speech.

Fast forward one year – my two daughters approached me.

“You had an opportunity to honor our daddy on the most important event of his life; instead you chose to disrespect him.”

“But, you don’t understand what goes on behind closed doors,” I protested.

Their cutting words were: “Mama, you are the Christian in this marriage; you should know better.”

I almost took them out of the world I had brought them into; instead, I stomped off and pouted with them for three months.

Google to the rescue---Marriage Mission International listed a book called Winning Him Without Words, which I ordered.

Two women from California who had never laid eyes on me started meddling in my business on page 67:  Know the Essentials of Love: Hope, Joy, Peace and Trust (Oh, Yeah, and Respect)

At last, I humbled myself before the Lord and asked His forgiveness.

He then began to teach me principles that changed my life.

  • Honor: Obey the Lord; honor those in authority over us, which includes our husbands.
  • Boundaries: Submission is never meant to allow someone to overstep another’s boundaries. Marriage needs two ingredients to grow and thrive – freedom and responsibility.
  • Harsh Words: I cannot control how another person speaks or acts, but I can control how I respond to it.

Note: There is an immense difference between being persecuted for the Lord than being physically or emotionally abused by a tyrant, or subjected to other traumatizing situations.  Godly wisdom is need in these situations.

The Finality of My Story

A prophecy I received about my husband:

  • Your husband is going to hate the things he has said and done, but he is going to love the gospel and want the truth. When I finish My quick work in him, I’m going to establish him for the very last work.

My church was flooded during hurricane Harvey, resulting in small groups needing to meet elsewhere. Would you believe my SUM group meets in our home? Though he thinks it’s a regular women’s Bible study, nonetheless, he opens our home for the Lord’s work. He retreats to the bedroom to watch the car races during the meeting, and afterwards joins us ladies for a meal.

As for Smith Wigglesworth whom I mentioned in Part 1 – After his conversion, many were saved, healed, and even raised from the dead through his ministry.

I’d like to think that when our husbands and wives get to the Pearly Gates, Smith will be there to greet them.

“Welcome! I have been waiting for you. I am in heaven today because Polly made Christ her Master, and prayed for me just like your spouse did!”

And all my SUMite sisters and brothers said:

“Praise the Lord. Bring it on!”

References

  1. Honors Reward: John Bevere
  2. Boundaries in Marriage: Henry Cloud, John Townsend
  3. The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: LeslieVernick
  4. Verbally Abusive Relationship – How to Recognize it and How to Respond: Patricia Evans.
  5. Beloved Unbeliever: Jo Berry

When Survival Is The ONLY Option...

Psalm 61.2-3First, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share my heart with you all. I am so blessed and even more grateful for the door that God has opened for me!

The Holy Spirit has  given me many spiritual gifts but there is one that I cherish the most. He has given me the gift of vulnerability. For some of you, vulnerability does not come easy. It may seem scary, impossible and maybe even unnecessary. I used to think it was a curse growing up because in those most delicate places of our heart people can so easily wound.

However, it is also in those most delicate places that Jesus can (and desperately desires to) transform, heal and redeem. Let me assure you that Jesus is so worthy of those intimate places! In these next few posts, I am going to tell you all about myself. I am going to be very vulnerable with you. I am going to talk about some deep wounds that have pierced my heart and soul. Some of you will closely relate to my story, some of you may know someone with a story like mine.

I have to admit that this first post has been hard for me to write. I have so much to say and yet there has been this fog over my mind. Where do I start? How much of me do I share up front? I have allowed fear and pride to keep me from using the gift that I cherish so much.

Even in these moments when you feel like you just cannot find the words to say or how to go about sharing your heart – PRESS IN. I challenge you to be vulnerable with me. I implore you all to allow the Holy Spirit to speak tenderly to your heart. Allow Him to access the deepest recesses of your heart and mind. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17). Let’s take this freedom journey together!

I attended a women’s conference this past Saturday. One of the speakers, Jennifer, began to share her story and I found myself really relating to what she was saying. In her life, she had given herself a label “the throw-away kid.” She lived in survival mode because of dysfunction and chaos in her household as a child and this led to a self-destructive mode. This label began to taint her view of herself and the world around her.

As I sat listening to her testimony I thought, “Did she somehow see a movie playing of my life?” I grew up an only child. It was just my mother and I for the longest time. My father was out of the picture before he knew my mom was pregnant. I was probably around 10 or 11 when my mom met Joseph. My mom was currently in a relationship with a man who was physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive to my mom. I won’t go into details, as it would be too lengthy, but at the time Joseph was like the “knight in shining armor.” We moved in with him and things were good for a while. It wasn’t until my mom got pregnant with my sister that things started to go downhill. I am going to talk more about myself in the next post.

I want to touch back on the idea of survival mode. Merriam-Webster defines survive as, “to remain alive or in existence.” I have been there. I can assure you that looking back on my life, I was there for most of it. Survival mode is protection of self – doing ANYTHING possible in order to continue to exist. I want to speak to all of you right now who are in survival mode. The depressed. The anxious. The fearful. The downtrodden. The throw-away kids.

Please hear me. God SEES YOU. He has walked with you your entire life. Through all the suffering and pain. He wants to meet you there. He wants to see you through it. The abundant life that Jesus came to give is INDEED FOR YOU. Hang in there with me. I have so much to share with you! In these next posts I am going to walk you through my life of suffering and healing. It is through the suffering, depression, and loneliness that I found freedom and redemption.

Sweet Jesus, thank You for this SUM community. I praise You God that you brought me here…in this community there is comfort, encouragement, wisdom, and love. May we all feel your presence and joy as we work through our own sorrow, disappointments, and discouragement. Lead us through this darkness into Your wonderful light. Amen.

I look forward to getting to know you my beautiful SUMite family. I will be writing every 4th Wednesday of the month so I'll continue to share my journey in February. I'll see you there!

Can you relate to being the throw-away kid? Maybe you feel like the throw-away kid that became the throw-away Christian. Leave your name in the comments and I want to pray for and with you.

In His Marvelous Grace,

Tiffany


1 Peter 3 - Same But Different

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comThank you, Martha, for your powerful post about submission vs obedience on Friday. I believe she is working on a follow up and I will post it when she sends it along.

Today, I want to continue with what the Lord was showing me a few weeks ago about 1 Peter 3. If you recall, God has me camped in the books of Peter and He suggested I read all of the chapters. Reading chapter three, I sensed the Holy Spirit focus on something we, the unequally yoked, usually miss because we are hung up on the first verse and we miss the rest. And the rest of the passage is amazing.

So, let’s look at this passage.

1 Peter 3New International Version (NIV)

3 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,

2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.

3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.

4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands,

6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

As I read through this the Lord said, “Read it differently. What if the verses were in a different order?”

Then I heard the passage like this:

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, you are (Sarah’s) daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Okay, I realize this is only my conversation with the Lord, so please understand, I am not changing scripture but as I read the scripture in this order, I felt the Lord help me to change focus.

I could feel conviction of the Lord to submit to my husband to win him to faith but ALSO to do what is right and not give way to fear. The Holy Spirit flooded my heart with understanding. Submission is a behavior of obedience to God and that kind of behavior is what will win the hearts of our husbands. Also, I realized that fear does not communicate faith to unbelievers. In fact, worldly people perceive fear as a weakness.

What I believe the Lord was trying to show me is that back in the day, when the church was new, people were converting to faith in droves for the very first time. They didn’t know how to proceed when they came to faith and found themselves in a marriage with an unbeliever. Peter, sharing under the Holy Spirit unction, is urging them/us to remain married and preserve the family. Yet, live out authentic faith without fear. When we do so, our obedient behavior to the Lord is the testimony to our unbelieving spouse. This kind of faith without fear is straight from the heart of God. And when empowered by the gifts of the Spirit, results in a beautiful submission out of love, compassion, great wisdom and the power of God to our spouse, our marriage, our family and ultimately to God for His glory.

Bold faith brings thousands to Christ. That’s a fact. Faith is NOT a weakness nor for the weak minded. It’s a powerful life of miracles, provision, protections and more. When we demonstrate that we live and believe in THAT kind of Kingdom, people are moved, changed, and want to be part of it.

After this revelation I sensed how the devil turns our hearts to believe the way to receive our husband’s approval is: Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. (vs 3)

However, lasting beauty/relationships are developed through behaviors of authenticity and vulnerability, exactly like this: Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (vs 4) when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (vs 2)

By the way, this is what makes a marriage successful.

Wow and WOW! Okay, thank you for allowing me to share my prayer time with you. I think that 90 percent of all the decisions we make, are motivated out of fear or love. And this passage speaks exactly to the core of our beliefs. It’s a daily battle to choose love and to operate out of the gifts of the Spirit and overcome our fears.

Share your thoughts. Does this resonate with you and how can we encourage one another to operate out of love and not fear? Hugs, Lynn