41 posts categorized "Perseverance in Trials"

A Step of Faith

IStock_000008478972XSmallMy precious friends, God has put a fire in my heart to speak to you about taking a step of faith. There is something God is calling many of us to do—something unique to our place and time and season—and He’s given you a promise that goes with this. And maybe you’ve prayed and waited for a long time for this promise but nothing is happening.

What did God call you to do first? What was His call to action? Because as we move forward in this faith journey (and we must always be maturing), our faith in action becomes more crucial to our journey forward. In other words, we will have to take a believing step of faith forward to activate the promise we’ve been given.

Let me explain this with the story of Israel crossing the Jordan in Joshua 3. First let’s set the stage with the Israelites and the Red Sea. At this point the Israelites are very “young” in their faith walk with God. They’re just getting the lay of the land, so to speak and yes, pun intended. They witness an entire ocean part before their eyes by the hand of God. This is their point of reference as they approach the Jordan, which is at its fullest at this time of the year, in this season of harvest. The Jordan is overflowing. It’s a time to claim new territory.

Amidst this picture, Joshua relays God’s instructions to the Israelites:

Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap. — Joshua 3:11-13

The Jordan is the next step (literally and figuratively) in the Israelites faith journey. This time God is not going to move the waters first. He’s calling the priests and all the Israelites to take a step of faith first—to step into the water before God moves it. God has already proven He is capable of such a feat with the feet (oh, I just couldn’t resist that one!). Now, He wants to see the Israelites grow in their faith and belief in Him—to believe God—and trust Him to do what He said He would do.

So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan. — Joshua 3:14-17

The priests were instructed to step first, not to wait for the waters to part. They had to take a step of faith. Any by doing so, the waters moved, just as God said they would. But God did even more with their step of faith:

  1. They crossed on dry ground. God could have left the ground wet, which most likely would have meant the priests feet would have sunk into the mud, especially under the weight of the ark of the covenant. God made a way for the priests that was complete to God’s vision of their purpose and journey. God does this for us as well. When He calls us to a direction, He prepares the way. That doesn’t mean it will be easy but with God, we will not fail.
  2. They stood in the middle, not the edge. The priests not only stood in the middle, they stood firm and in place with the ark of the covenant on their shoulders. This is the promise of God’s presence in their lives and a future with Him. The way had been prepared for them, now they prepared the way for rest of the Israelites. Think of your home as that parted river and God is asking you to stand firm with His presence in and upon you. You bear the promise for your future and the future of all who will pass with you.
  3. Israel crossed on the same dry ground. The entire nation of Israel passed through under the protection of the priests’ presence. This is part of our sanctification of our family through our faith (remember 1 Cor 7:14). We bring our spouse, our children—all those we claim under the umbrella of our home and faith—over the dry ground to the other side. This is how our unbelieving spouses and loved ones are blessed through us and by our prayers for them. As we stand firm in whatever God has called us to do, we bring those we are praying for with us.
  4. They crossed opposite Jericho with Adam a great distance away. I can’t help but wonder if Adam is mentioned as a reminder of where they came from. Where we come from. Not as a threat but to see our past sins as far away and show us how far we have come. God had them cross in the exact place and position for their next challenge and step in the promise. Each step of faith builds upon the last and prepares for the next. Jericho would be there next victory. They didn’t know this but God did.

My friends, I pray I’ve adequately conveyed this amazing truth. Whatever it is that God has told you, given you do to, or shown you, move forward and believe God! Do not hesitate or debate, because until you take a step of faith, the promise remains a mere thought.

If God is calling you to believe Him and trust Him more, do it. Anytime doubt enters your mind, boot it out and affirm the word that God has given you. Claim it as your truth and that it is done! If God is calling you to an action, do it! Even if it scary and uncomfortable, move forward with this action (just like the Priests taking that first step into the raging waters) and the promise given will be activated.

And if God is calling you to simply stand, then stand and know that your promise is on the way. God completes everything He sets in motion but He wants us to be a part of it. He will wait on us to make the first move. This is how we claim and hold new territory in our lives.

So move! Be bold! Be courageous! God never expects us to do these things on our own. He is standing right there with us through the entire journey preparing the way, strengthening us for the weight we are called to carry, entrusting us with the promise of those we bring along the way, and guarding over our path until the completion.

My friends, this message is as much for me as it is for you. In the past my fear of the unknown has kept me planted in comfortable places but at a price. We miss out on the wild adventure of living life with God in the unexpected when we do that. I'm learning to step out in faith more and more, and each time I do, God is right there showing me or doing something new in my life.

God wants this for you too! So take that step of faith, precious one. If you're not sure what this step is, ask Him. God is waiting and ready to show you!

Love you fiercely in Jesus!
Dineen


I Wanted to Stop Praying

I wonder if you are feeling weary? 

I know this month we are writing about love and I do have so much more rolling around in my brain to share about love. God’s love, our self-love and loving others. But, now for almost a week, I’m just not in the “mood” to write about that. 

What I’m wrangling with this season is weariness. 

It crystalized for me last week when I actually heard myself whisper out loud to the Lord, these words, “Lord, I’m just so weary of constantly fighting the battle. I’m tired of always being on the front lines. I’m exhausted hoping and waiting for the salvation of my husband. I’m fatigued as I pray almost incessantly for my children.” 

As soon as this little prayer left my lips, the words then hit my brain and then my heart. In the moment I wanted to stop praying so badly. I want to stop with my worry and cease the battling with the devil over the people I love. 

When I add to this my demanding writing schedule, travel last week, the entire “getting ready for Christmas” demands and then pile on top the shooting at Sandy Hook, well, it’s just A LOT!

My spirit feels beat up and weak. 

What do we do when it’s A LOT and there is not an end in sight? I mean there is still so much to do to be ready for Christmas. I’m traveling again on Christmas day to see my son for his 30th birthday. (Shhhhhh, It’s a surprise.) And …. and…. and… I know you KNOW what I’m talking about. 

Right now, this hour, I’m not sure I know what to “do.” And I don’t have a wonderful story to share with you that God has arrived to make my life easier. 

However, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper this verse over and over into my ears for days now. 

Galatians 6:9-10 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. (MSG) 

Okay, it’s kinda a pep talk and it does help me refoces a little bit. But then I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Lynn, if you stop praying for your husband, your son and your daughter, who will be covering them with prayer.” 

I respond, “O Lord, no one. NO ONE.” 

“Exactly.” 

Me again, “O Lord that’s what the devil wants, itsn't it? My family needs my covering more than anything right now. Our community of SUM, the nation, Sandy Hook, needs my prayer covering.” 

“Lynn, I know your weary and I will give you rest soon. But, you CANNOT stop your battles in the prayer realm. You must persevere. You must know that your words are impacting the people for whom you pray. I have revealed some of the astonishing results already.You must be assured that if you were to quit, setbacks might happen.” 

And THEN….. God reminded me of a few things to set my soul back in order:

He is the First and Last,
The Beginning and the End! 

He is the keeper of Creation and the Creator of all!
He is the Architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.
He always was, He always is, and He always will be ...
unmoved, unchanged, undefeated, and never undone!

He was bruised and brought healing!
He was pierced and eased pain!
He was persecuted and brought freedom!
He was dead and brought life!
He is risen and brings power!
He reigns and brings Peace!
The world can't understand him,
The armies can't defeat Him,
The schools can't explain Him, and The leaders can't ignore Him.
Herod couldn't kill Him, The Pharisees couldn't confuse Him,  and The people couldn't hold Him!
Nero couldn't crush Him, Hitler couldn't silence Him,
The New Age can't replace Him, and the media can't explain Him away!

He is light, love, longevity, and Lord.
He is goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God.
He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure. 

His ways are right,
His word is eternal,
His will is unchanging, and His mind is on me.
He is my Savior,
He is my guide, and He is my peace!
He is my Joy,
He is my comfort,
He is my Lord, and He rules my life! 

I serve Him because His bond is love, His burden is light, and His goal for me is abundant life. 

I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the ancient of days, the ruler of rulers, the leader of leaders, the overseer of the overcomers, and is to come. And if that seems impressive to you, try this for size.

His goal is relationship!
He will never leave me,
never forsake me,
never mislead me,
never forget me,
never overlook me and
never cancel my appointment in His appointment book! 

When I fall, He lifts me up!
When I fail, He forgives!
When I am weak, He is strong!
When I am lost, He is the way!
When I am afraid, He is my courage!
When I stumble, He steadies me!
When I am hurt, He heals me!
When I am broken, He mends me!
When I am blind, He leads me!
When I am hungry, He feeds me!
When I face trials, He is with me!
When I face persecution, He shields me!
When I face problems, He comforts me!
When I face loss, He provides for me!
When I face Death, He carries me Home! 

He is everything for everybody everywhere, every time, and every way.
He is God, He is faithful. I am His, and He is mine!

Wow, it's amazing how our Great King always knows what we need.
Merry Christmas, Lynn

Wisemen


A Step of Faith

IStock_000020754228XSmallIn the last week I’ve come across two kinds of believers. The first is an older widow who has walked some challenging roads of life and loss and has become a very special influence and inspiration to me. We were discussing our loved ones who are still resisting God—my husband, her grandson. Our prebelievers.

Her answer is simply it’s a matter of time because we know we are praying God’s will. It’s as simple as that for her. No doubt, no questioning. At some point our prebelievers will step into belief because it’s God’s will.

The other is a gentleman whose wife and he have suffered more loss than I can imagine. He walks the road of faith but I see his discouragement, his despair. His wife turned away long ago. He expressed a kind of “what’s the point” perspective to me in regards to Bible study because it just seemed to make things more difficult.

I could only answer him that as we walk in this world we can know two things. One, this is not our home, and two, the closer we draw to God, the harder the enemy works to pull us away. Even Jesus said we will have trouble in this world, but I confess, at times, like this man, I have wondered how much I will have to endure.

I believe it’s normal for us to have doubts. God does not expect us to have perfect faith. Hebrews 12:2 tells us Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. And the key to running this race is the keep our eyes fixed on Him in order to persevere.

Even the man who exclaimed to Jesus that he believed asks Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief in the very same line (Mark 9:24). My translation: “I believe but I want to believe more.” I think this is the path many of us are on, or dare I say all of us?

A while back someone on Twitter replied to my tweet about Big Faith with, “I don’t need to have big faith, I have a big God.”

He’s right, but in a way, he was also wrong. I can’t fully put into words yet what this all means. And I’m not saying our degree of faith determines whether God will answer us or not. That’s completely untrue and if it were, we’d have no stories of how God has met his staunchest resisters with love and acceptance. Or saved the lost ones whom others assumed unsavable.

As I said, God does not expect us to have perfect faith but He does want us to believe Him. Not just in Him but to believe Him when His Word tells us things like not to worry, that He’s with us always and not to be afraid.

Perhaps the difference in these two kinds of believers I mentioned is where their focus is. The first is set on Jesus, the second is fixed on trials. The first is a constant reminder of promise and the second of despair.

In the end, we make the choice of what to believe and what (or Who) to focus on. Think of it like going to see a movie. We can sit in the theater watching the people around us talking or texting during the show, noticing the gum stuck to the seat in front of us, or the garbage strewn on the floor from the last showing. Or, we can focus on the movie playing on the big screen, waiting in anticipation for what’s going to happen next.

Despair or expectation.

When we focus on God we will see miracles, the impossible become possible and faith the size of mustard seeds sprout into the strongest of trees. I know it’s not easy. There are days that I seem to see more of the gum stuck to the floor than the story playing out in front of me. I am so very thankful God is patient with my times of unbelief and waits patiently for me to lift my eyes back up.

The enemy wants us to walk in despair, discouragement and discontent. Then we become the victims of our own bitterness. God desires us to walk in hopeful expectation, truth, and knowledge of Who He is. Then we are no longer defined by our trials but by the confidence of knowing we are totally loved by God and that He is in complete control.

Closing the gap between doubt and belief takes a step of faith, and when we take that step, we release the power of God’s Holy Spirit. And that, my friends, is when we begin to walk in victory and joy!

Praying & believing,
Dineen


Taking a Walk with Nehemiah, Part 2

IStock_000001537091XSmallOn Tuesday we started our journey with Nehemiah and his calling to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. In the comments, Shelly pointed something amazing out in Nehemiah 2:

After this post I was intrigued to read Nehemiah myself with the perspective of marriage at hand. Only made it to chapter 2 but what stood out was 2:21... "The God of heaven will help us succeed. We, his servants, will start rebuilding this wall (marriage). But you (those who were against him, my interpretation...satan) But you have no share, legal right, or historic claim in Jerusalem (my home)." Satan has no share, legal right or historic claim to our marriages! A powerful statement to remember when the battlefield of the mind seems to be getting the best of you.

Is that not amazing? I love how Shelly took this piece of God's Word and brought out the truth we could apply to our marriages. Make a prayer out of this, my friends, and let's put the enemy of our marriages on the run!

Now onward...

I left you with some questions to consider about doubts. After the doubts, the voice of fear chimed in next. They were threatened with death. Do you find at times that you fear the "death" of your marriage? That the current situation or constant conflict will result in this kind of loss? I know I have at times.

In verse 14 Nehemiah says something we hear repeatedly (repeated even more than God's messages of love) thought the Bible.

Do not be afraid.

Nehemiah tells them not to be afraid and to fight for their families and houses. Do these men go to battle and fight the men opposing them? No, they stand their ground and continue in the calling God has place on their hearts. That same commitment and calling spoken of in verse six when they built the wall to half its height with all their hearts.

Nehemiah then divides the men into workers and defenders. The defenders are equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. Even the workers held a weapon as they built. They didn't even take off their clothes to sleep or put down their weapons to get water. They continued to do what God asked and stood firm in the calling. Sound familiar? Isn't this the same "standing" spoken of in Ephesians 6:10?

Now think of those weapons as prayers. These men were constantly armed with weapons just as we are to be constantly armed with prayer and God's Word (there's our armor).

Now look at verse 20 where Nehemiah says, "Our God will fight for us." Who's that doing the fighting again?

God.

God did the fighting. The men did the believing. They held onto the vision of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, of seeing their home repaired and made strong for God's glory.

We are being called to a similar place, my friends. God is calling us to stand firm for our marriages, to hold our prayers and God's Word firmly in hand and use them. As God fights for our unbelievers and our family, we are standing firm in our place to pray and believe in God's plan for our lives, our marriages and our children.

The wall of Jerusalem was completed. Can you imagine the cheers of these men when the past beam was put in place? They held fast to the vision of a completed wall and stayed faithful.

Catch the vision God has for your marriage. Ask Him to show you what needs rebuilding, repairing and reinforcement. I’m doing this myself right now. God has alerted me to places that are weak and could give the enemy entrance.

I'm standing my ground for my marriage, for my husband’s impending salvation, for the future of my family. I have my armor on and God’s Scripture in hand as I work, as I pray. The enemy tried to make me think I faced an impossible situation but God reminded me He is the one working and the very situation I feared is what He is using to bring His plan to completion. I will not be afraid.

How about you, my friend? Are you willing to stand for your marriage and let God fight for you? Let’s stand together. God is fighting for us!

Praying and believing,
Dineen


The Stories Behind the Story

SoulSaverHello again, dear friends. First, I want to give a big hug and shout out to Lynn for letting me monopolize the blog this week to share this story with you. She rocks!

Second, I want to thank you again for sharing this with me. It’s the culmination of a dream that started in 2009 and the SUM community is a very important part of it. I’m so excited to share some additional tid bits about the birth and progression of this story with you.

How The Soul Saver turned out to be almost prophetic in my life.
When I started writing the story in 2009, it was just a glimmer in my heart and mind. I knew the basics. I knew Lexie was a believer. I knew her husband, Hugh, was an atheist and a physics professor at Stanford University. And I knew they’d lost a child to a brain tumor.

With a short synopsis and the first few chapters in hand,I went to a writers conference that September to pitch the story to some editors and see what kind of reaction I would get. I left this conference without any doubts that I was to write it. Not because of anything said by an editor, but because God made it clear that was His plan.

Here’s where it gets a little “strange.” About two weeks after I got home, we found out my youngest daughter had a malignant brain tumor. We were sent to Lucille Packard (love the folks there!) for her surgeries. Her radiation treatments were to be done at Stanford Hospital, which is attached to Lucille Packard AND Stanford University.

Because of where the tumor was, Leslie’s radiation treatments had to be designed so as to treat the area and not bombard the rest of her brain and eyes. This treatment was carefully designed by a physics professor at Stanford University.

God-bumps anyone?

And all the weeks we were driving back and forth to the hospitals became my research for the book. Can you believe it?

What made me nearly give up on Lexie’s story.
Being a writer isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work, and you get a lot of rejections. In the fall of 2010, I was so hopeful that we (my agent and I) had found a home for Lexie’s story. I believed that The Soul Saver and Winning Him Without Words were a perfect match, like Fireproof and the Love Dare. (I wished our publisher of Winning Him handled fiction, but alas they don’t. Regal and our precious editor there, Kim Bangs, have been our greatest champions in getting our message out.)

Needless to say, I was pretty upset when the rejection came. But the final blow was the suggestion this publishing house made to make the story more of a fit for them—take the spiritually mismatched element out.

I was crushed. That was the heart of my story. It needed to be told and I knew God wanted me to tell it!

God bless my wonderful agent who stood by me and encouraged me not to change the story, to just hang on a little longer.

I went to God in prayer and laid The Soul Saver and even writing fiction at His feet, asking Him to take the desire to write it away if I wasn’t supposed to. It was too painful.

Then I let it be.

A couple months later, God released me from doing any more design work—something I’d been praying about letting go so I could write full time. Up until this time, I kept hearing, “Not yet.”

So why now? It didn’t make sense. Nothing had changed. I could only assume that He had something in mind, and I would need more time for the SUM ministry and our Winning Him book coming out in a few months.

This “release” happened on a Saturday. My agent called Tuesday to give me the unbelievable news that a publisher had made an offer on The Soul Saver.

How God opened the door for The Soul Saver in a place I least expected.
Publishing houses have certain “tastes” in the kind of books they publish. The Soul Saver seems to cross genres a little with a story that fit women’s fiction, a thread of danger that fit suspense stories and a supernatural element as well. One house even said they liked the story but didn’t know how they would market it. Publishing Christian based fiction and nonfiction is a ministry AND a business.

So when the offer came from a house I had already assumed wouldn’t be interested, I was floored.

But isn’t that so like God? Like Gideon defeating 120,000 Midianites with just 300 men, God wants us to know that it’s Him who brakes down barriers and opens the door to the impossible.

Not only had God opened the door in the unlikeliest of places, He brought us to a publisher that allowed me to keep our Winning Him Without Words book in the story as part of Lexie’s journey. And not only that, they let me have a page in the back of the book so I could tell readers the Winning Him book was real and that an entire ministry existed for the spiritually mismatched. (Thank you, Becky Germany and Barbour Publishing!)

How you can help get Lexie's story out there.
This is the part I almost left out, but after seeing some of the unexpeted responses to Lexie's story already—a request for information about starting a small group like Lexie's, a comment that reading books where the husband was a believer was too hard, and newcomers finding our site!—I decided it would be okay ask for your help.

Buying or downloading the book is always good (and I am so grateful and humbled when I hear from you that you did), but also requesting it at your local bookstores and libraries goes a long way to getting it out there. The more places people see it, the more people will one, know that there are a lot of us Lexies out there, and two, reach those Lexie's who are still walking this journey alone. That just breaks my heart to think about it. (You can alos mention the Winning Him book too since they work together.)

So, my friends, that concludes this incredible week of sharing one of the greatest adventures of my life with you. I cannot thank you enough for joining me, because sharing this with you all is part of what I have looked forward to the most.

Remember to leave a comment. On Sunday, I will announce the winners!

In my book (wink), you all already are.

Praying and believing,
Dineen


An Open Letter To The Spiritually Mismatched

The Lord impressed upon me to share a post I wrote for Focus on the Family -The Live Forum two weeks ago. I pray you are encouraged and hear God’s voice as He speaks to all of us, the Unequally Yoked.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

Sometimes people misunderstand our ministry by thinking we are in opposition to God’s Word as it commands in

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (NKJ)

As a woman who has been unequally yoked now for 20 years, I understand the truth behind God’s desire in this passage. The life of the spiritual mismatched is difficult. There were days I didn’t know if I would survive the spiritual warfare.

To read the article join me at the Internet Cafe.

AND be sure to stop back in here on Friday as I discuss a topic that is long overdue:

The Unequally Yoked and the Atheist Blogs

Have a great week. Be blessed, Lynn


False Security

On February 12th, something happened that seriously rocked my world. I’m not an overly brave person, I confess, but I stepped out of my comfort zone (way out) and agreed to drive cross-country from Florida to California because my daughter wanted to come back home.

It’s a trip we’ve done many times, but always with my husband. He’s a great driver, loves road trips and has always done the bulk of the driving. So, on a clear and sunny Friday, my daughter and I headed out with the intent to make our country trip in five days—a trip my husband and I have normally done in four days. I wanted to be safe and reasonable.

I wanted to be brave for my daughter and husband and do this thing. I wanted to prove to myself too that I could handle such a trip without the comfort and security of my husband.

We were doing fine for the most part, my daughter and I, swapping turns driving. Day one brought us out of Florida to Alabama without incident except for an engine light. Okay, not part of the plan but we could handle it. We lost a couple hours the next day but left the service garage with the security of knowing all was well with the engine.

Security. I like security. I like knowing what’s ahead of me, what to expect, how to prepare and be ready.

But what happened on our third day wasn’t expected. Wasn’t at all something I could have prepared for. Inclement weather we thought would clear up left a patch of ice on an overpass and in a matter of seconds, the most terrifying thing I could imagine happened.

Why? I’d prayed, asked God for protection, to bring us home safely. But it still happened. The car that had so faithfully brought us halfway across the country now sat in a center median, mangled and in despair of ever cruising a road again.

Thankfully (and praise God) my daughter and I were okay. But for this person who’d done her best to brave a new adventure, my deepest fear had materilized. We were banged up, had no car, and were out in the middle of nowhere in Texas, far from the comfort of home. Details had to be dealt with and worked out when all I really wanted to do was curl up in a ball and hide.

Where was God? I needed help. I could accept that He had a plan in all this, but I needed tangible evidence He was there helping me deal with the situation. I muddled through, we worked out arrangements, then my husband decided to come get us. I was relieved...so relieved. I didn’t have the strength to be brave anymore.

God helped me face a truth: I have a fearful spirit.

God has shown me this in the days since our accident. I’d built my security in my world based upon controllable circumstances. The minute those circumstances changed and moved completely (and I mean totally and completely) out of my control, my false security crumbled. I couldn’t do anything but look to God and wait for Him to show me the way out of this mess of mangled emotions and broken perceptions.

The more I cried out, the more I realized I was now on another journey. One that meant rebuilding and repairing certain areas of my faith. I’m on that journey now, still waiting for God to reveal more of what this is all about. What more does He want me to allow the tow truck to haul away and allow Him access to replace and rebuild?

I only know I don’t want to live in this place of fear, nor does God. It’s not going to be a pleasant process to let go of my false securities. Sometimes the thing we fear most is the very thing we need most. Doesn’t make sense but I’m starting to understand its truth.

The best cure for a fearful spirit is trusting God. That is true security because it requires relinquishing our expectations, weaknesses and fears into God’s control. Completely.

For now I’m clinging to Psalm 34:4:

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

God brought me to this verse and it’s my prayer and comfort right now. I’m learning that even in the worst-case scenarios—the ones we never expected and wonder how we’ll walk out of with any semblance of wholeness and strength—God is really there. We may not feel like He is at times, but we can KNOW and BELIEVE it.

Lord, we seek you with our fearful spirits, ready to trust You in new ways. Hear us and deliver us from all our fears. Though the future looks so insecure at times, dry our tears with the comfort and security of your constant presence and that You are in complete and total control, working for our good—always. We cling to your Son who is our hope and proof of these truths—and our greatest security of all. Amen.

Praying and believing,
Dineen


Spouse-Based or God-Based?

IStock_000010120543XSmallWhat is the difference between a spouse-based marriage and a God-based marriage?

This is the question my Sunday school leader asked our group this past weekend. We’re currently doing Gary Thomas’ video series, Sacred Marriage, which goes with his book by the same title. It’s a great course, and I have loved hearing different perspectives on marriage and how God works in our marriages and uses them to refine us.

The answer to this question also fits into our “Out-Love Your Spouse” challenge. So here it is:

A spouse-based marriage is performance based. In other words, I’ll do something nice for him if he does something for me. Or, why should I do that for her? She never does anything for me? And how about this one: He was grumpy last night. No way am I going to be nice to him today.

Basically, as long as our spouse is performing to our standards, and meeting our needs, we will love them, help them, and be a good spouse in return. As soon as they stop meeting that standard, we withdraw our affection, love and help.

In a God-based marriage we love our spouse because that is what Jesus has asked us to do—love one another. We love our spouse whether they are grumpy or happy. We help our spouse without the expectation of getting something in return. We serve our spouse as an act of serving God.

See the difference? I know this challenge to “out-love” our spouse isn’t an easy one, especially if you’re in a difficult marriage. Especially if you’re in a situation where there is hostility and rebuff. But I want to encourage you to persevere, because I am confident of two things:

1. When we love our spouse from the motivation that we are serving God—being obedient to God—God sees our efforts. Our spouse may not, but God sees. And He is faithful!

2. In some way, our spouse will be affected on some level. They may not respond right away. They may not respond in a way that you’d expect. But when we are loving our spouse from the motivation to serve God—in essence, if we are loving our spouse from a place of loving Jesus—we become a conduit for the love of Christ to reach our spouse. That’s powerful!

Look at Hebrews 10:23-24:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

My friends, we heard what Shelley shared with Lynn in the video about what her pastor told her. Our calling to love and serve begins right in our own homes. God wants us to start there before He can bring us out into the mission fields of our workplace, our neighborhood, or even our friends and extended family.

Don’t give up. God calls us to love even the most unlovable. Even if that defines our spouse at the moment. And if we’re totally honest here, we aren’t always very lovable either, are we?

Last week, I did small things for my hubby, like sitting on the couch with him instead of the chair I usually sit on. I looked for little things that would make his life a little easier and his home a haven to return to. God put this on my heart as away to comfort my stressed out guy. One night, this poor guy thanked me for making dinner—twice in one meal. I didn’t ask for that appreciation. I only sought to do what God was showing me to do.

And finally, let me say that just because our spouse isn’t a believer (yet) doesn't mean we can’t have a God-centered marriage. You are the conduit to bring God into your marriage. Keep the faith and remember that through that very same faith, your spouse partakes in your sanctification (read “Sanctified Unbeliever” here) and God’s covering.

Praying and believing,
Dineen


Chronicles of the Donovan Clan

It’s been a long while since I’ve updated the Chronicles. So today, join me for a peek into the Donovan house.

Most of you who have been readers here know that I am a bit wacky and I love an adventure. I see adventure in so many things. I am convinced that is because God lives in my heart and I can expect Him to show up, show off and show me new revelations of His amazing love and grace.

He doesn’t disappoint.

One of my favorite adventures is a trip across the street to our mailbox. Yep, lame, I know. However, I have some fantastic encounters with neighbors out there. I find stray dogs that follow me home (read that story here) and mostly I delight in some unexpected treasures that arrive in that small tin box.

Yesterday was one of those days.

I trotted to the box, slipped in the key and pulled out a wad of papers. Walking back toward the house I flipped through the junk mail and bills and my eyes landed on a bright yellow envelope neatly addressed to Lynn Donovan in the recognizable and neat hand printing of my husband.

Astonished, I froze on the spot in the middle of the street.

I immediately flipped the envelope over and pressed my index finger under the lip of the yellow paper and tore that envelope almost in half.

What in the world?

A delightful greeting card with a photo of a little boy and girl slid out. I almost fell over right there, smack in the middle of the street. The world faded away. A convoy of cars could have been honking for me to move out of the street and I wouldn’t have heard it.

I opened the card, which incidentally I noticed it was postmarked from Minnesota where my husband currently travels for business. Inside was… ahem, the sweetest words of two people living life together.

Imported Photos 00017 An overwhelming loved filled my heart and I smiled. I closed the card, returned to earth and realized I better get out of the street because inside our house awaits a man who is deeply loved by a wacky 5’4’ blonde and he is about to receive a big ole kiss.

Standing in my husband’s home office doorway with card in hand, I smile and say, “Excuse me, who are you and what have you done with my husband?”

He looks up, puzzlement resting on his eyes until he spots the card in my hand.

He smiles. I walk to him and grab his face and …. ahem, well you get the picture. And for those of you with a suspicious nature, no, he's not trying to get out of the dog house. "We are in the best place in our marriage that we have ever been." ~ his words....

As I share this turn in our life, this event may look like a small and silly gesture. It may also be terribly difficult for some of you to read about this encounter of a couple who are in love and how they share that love in this unexpected way. But, what I need to tell you is that I have waited many, many years for this very moment.

Not since our very early years of dating did a card “for no reason” show up in my mailbox.

You know what I find so intriguing about all of this is that I am living in a place in my life and marriage that it’s doesn’t matter to me now that I receive an unexpected card or flowers. And if you knew me years ago, you would know how crazy this sounds.

How can this be?

I dared to live the hard years.

I didn’t give up on my dream. I didn’t surrender my marriage. I wouldn’t stop praying for this man I married. I never quit pouring the love of Christ into him. I relentlessly pushed forward through the exhaustion, the loneliness, and disillusionment.

How?

Two things. I learned to love Jesus with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength and I had to let go of “me.”

Jesus changed everything in my life. He flipped me upside down, turned me around and inside out. Do you feel like this is happening in your life? Then you are in the right place for God’s Son to do the fantastic in your life.

This life is not about me. It’s about Jesus. All of it. All the time. In every way, about Jesus. When I finally got over myself and my wants that is when the rewards, the adventures, the love and joy filled my life.

Ask yourself this question. Am I “really” ready to take Jesus at His Word and trust that it’s okay that life isn’t all about me?

Aren’t you at all curious what He could do for you if you just let Him?

Be embraced by our King this day. I love and care for all of you with a deep and eternal love. Hugs, Lynn


Milk or Solid Food?

IStock_000013074149XSmall On Friday, Lynn will host the next edition of The Intentional Marriage over at CWATV.com. (I hope you’ll tune in and participate in the meme.) As you know by the title of our program, we talk a lot about being intentional in our marriages. And last week, I wrote about thinking of our marriages as training for deeper intimacy with God.

The idea behind an “intentional marriage” is to be an active participant, not passive—being intentional about spending time together, doing things together, and praying for your spouse regularly. It’s about putting your marriage in the forefront of your thoughts and life, not in the background as an afterthought. I hope that makes sense.

This past weekend I made another connection along those lines that I want to share with you. My women’s ministry group at church is just finishing the DeeperStill Bible study Faithful, Abundant, True by Kay Author, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore. The last day of this study (led by Beth Moore) spoke about walking in the Spirit on purpose. With intention. Then this morning, one of my devotionals covered Hebrews 5. Take a look at verses 11-14:

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Paul is admonishing the believers for becoming passive in their faith training. They’ve neglected building upon the first foundations of their faith to become mature believers and have even regressed to a state of infancy of their beliefs. They are no longer intentional about their faith or God. They’ve become passive.

Have you ever noticed how you wind up drifting away from your spouse when you don’t spend time together and make time to talk and interact—on purpose, not just out of necessity? Have you noticed how you drift away from God when you forget to pray or wind up so busy you don’t keep that appointed time to meet with Him?

Do you see the connection? Our marriages are an earthly representation of our relationship to Christ, as his bride. When we see our marriages as a training ground of being intentional in a relationship, we are learning what it means to be intentional in our relationship with God.

Just as we have to be intentional in our marriages in order to grow closer to our spouse and mature the relationship, we need to do the same thing in our relationship with God to mature spiritually.

We can’t keep living on milk. Sometimes we have to take a hefty bite of the solid stuff and chew on it for a while to learn and grow in our marriages and our faith. Even when it seems scary, too hard, or just too much work.

Remaining in infancy keeps us from fully experiencing who God is, who our spouses are, and what our marriages and faith lives can become. We miss out on the tasty stuff.

I know this faith walk isn’t easy. Sometimes God calls us to trust Him in whole new ways and calls us to difficult tasks and directions. Not to starve or punish us, but to feed us with His best.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. — 1Peter 2:2-3

Praying and believing,
Dineen


Marriage Monday - Get Real!

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis

Hi, It's Marriage Monday.

This month the readers and contributors to Marriage Monday at Chrysalis have an open topic for our community. So I am going to put myself out there and be very real. I invite you into this conversation and look forward to more questions.

Let me set the stage. On Saturday I was interviewed by Jim Norman of Wise People. My interview was an opportunity to share the reality of living in an unequally yoked marriage and the hope I have. Many of you took 25 minutes and listened in. I received several emails that day from regular readers here at SUM. You can listen in here if you have time, no pressure, I know we are all very busy but you might come up with a few questions yourself. Please email me your questions.

100403 Wise People, Lynn Donovan

For those of you joining us for Marriage Monday, I will bring you up to speed. I am living and thriving in my spiritually mismatched marriage. With that said, one of the emails arrived, from a long time friend who is also unequally yoked. In a very nice way, yet with earnest need to know, she doesn't know how to reconcile what I say on the radio and the reality of living unequally yoked. 

I love this woman and I am so glad she is honest to ask how I can possibly say I am happy when my husband hasn't embraced Christ yet. I will venture to guess there are others who also puzzle this question. My answer isn't what you might think.

One of the first questions my sweet sister asked is this: In the radio station interview you said: You are happily married to your best friend - how is that?

How can a believer and an unbeliever be happy under the same roof let alone be best friends? Wow, excellent... I can tell you more than ten years ago, I would have told you it's impossible. Truly, but I can tell you today with complete sincerity that my husband is my best friend on earth. This man knows me better than anyone, next to Jesus. I trust him with my authentic self and do not fear judgments or condemnation from him. I love to laugh with him, tease him, and please him as a wife and a friend. 

It's not always this way. We must look at our marriage as part of the long journey with God. The seasons change, come and go. In our early season, I was lonely and felt judgement and struggled in my faith because of the onslaught of criticisms of Jesus. If it were not for Christ, we would not have moved past this season. 

Part of the journey to becoming best friends was maturity. I had to let go of two things. Entitlements and selfishness. If you knew me many years ago, I was full of myself and believed I was entitled to a man who would fulfill my every desire. There is not a man on the planet that can do that for a woman. We are created to need Christ to fill us up. I had to let go of some of my dreams. Flowers once a week were never gong to happen. Weekend trips to a coastal destination.... gone.... But, what I received in return is a man who I trust. A man who will never leave me. A man who absolutely loves me over all else.

I should insert here, I'm not an easy person to live with. I am driven and at times demanding. I can be critical because I have high expectation of myself and those who live with me. God bless that man for putting up with me.

But, my friend asks, even if you try to let go of things you can't change how you feel. It hurts and it's lonely. I agree. You can't fake it. But, I know how to get over it. So join me next Monday and I will tell you how God led me to get over myself and how he replaced my loneliness with fulfillment.

I am an ordinary woman, an ordinary wife, but I serve an Extraordinary God. AMEN! Happy Monday. Love and hugs, Lynn


Donna's Story -- Get Ready to Applaud Jesus!

I am constantly inspired and amazed by all of you who stop by here to read. The men and women who visit us here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage have some of the most fantastic testimonies. You live out your faith under circumstances that, for me, seem utterly impossible. But, like me, you greatly desire to honor Jesus within your marriage and through your lives.

Last week I asked all of you to share your conversion stories. I wasn't sure how this might sit and I wondered if anyone would share. God placed it on the hearts of several to honor Him through the sharing of your lives. I was blown away. (To read all the stories, scroll down.) But before you do, I want to share Donna's story with you today. I am humbled and so thankful Donna took time to encourage all of us through the sharing of her life. I love you Donna. Thank you. And, thank you everyone who shared your story. I had tears in my eyes as I read each one. Hugs, Lynn

-----

Donna: I was raised in home filled with anger. Although I was forced to attend Sunday school in Methodist Church...I never once heard the "Gospel" or the words "born again" uttered! My father forced us to attend w/our mother but he never went..Talk about confused!


My mother's sister & her husband were Pentecostal Pastors that lived 4hrs north My sister & I would visit for 2wks in the summer. We both went forward during a Sunday night service and accepted Jesus as our Savior. She was 10y, I was 9yrs. I knew something new had happened to me..but when we returned home, we were never taught and we were "stifled". My sister & I both walked onward into a life far from GOD..but HE never left us! FAST FORWARD 30yrs!

The LORD moved my family 1500miles south and then one night 9mos after our move to FL..the LORD spoke to me on my outside Lanai! I was actually angry, confused about life..and i was smoking a cigarette and holding a glass of wine.. and I held them both up toward the night sky...and hollered at God! I said ..."Are you even REAL God?...Are you even there?!!!"

Well, to my utter astonishment and amazement, He answered me! lol He spoke very tenderly, yet firmly ..2 Words!

"I AM" !!!!

Ladies!... I couldn't believe GOD actually was speaking to me! It was not audible...but it was so loud in my mind, heart and inner spirit.. i almost fell down!

I continued to "meet with GOD" on my Lanai very late at night..when the family was sleeping..and HE continued to speak to me.. He actually spoke to me gently, yet firmly and very "scripturally"...thought I didn't know it because I had never read a bible.

The LORD GOD ALMIGHTY spoke to me and told me I had to give up living my way of living & seek HIM and that I would not be able to do it without JESUS! He also added one thing at the end.. He told me I was going to be "persecuted"... but I did not know or understand what HE actually meant by that last comment.. I was so excited that HE was actually talking to me and I was so intent on knowing that I was going to listen...the last part about "persecution" just didn't mean much.

I was 40yrs old when the LORD brought me out the wilderness! What a glorious year!

When I initially told my husband that GOD was talking to me on the Lanai at night.. he only had one response... "you need to lay off the Beringers (wine) lol

It wasn't until I mentioned to Dave the Name of "JESUS" that he became enraged...you see my husband is Jewish.(not practicing) I never knew how little I actually "knew" my husband until I uttered my Savior's name.. I was astonished & somewhat frightened.

From that time on a "wall" became erected in my husband's heart toward me...and things have never been the same. There has been division ever since..that was 7yrs ago.

I have not seen his family in 7yrs..Only one sister has ever contacted him while visiting in FL and I have seen her..she & her husband inquired about my belief so I was able to witness & give my testimony.

All of my daughters have accepted Christ Jesus as their Savior, as well as my niece.
My mother has re-dedicated her life to Christ as well....The LORD is on the move in my family!

This has been one of the hardest places i've ever been in my life, being yoked w/a husband who struggles with my faith, but at the same time.. the most amazing testimony of God's grace, love and mercy.... ALL of which HE is teaching me to extend to my confused, strongwilled husband.

I am believing GOD that my husband actually does know that Jesus is the Messiah..he is struggling with the rejection he has seen come upon me and he fears his family's persecution.

By the way...GOD delivered me from my smoking addiction of 25yrs..as well as from desiring any consumption of alcohol in any form.. All in one week back when HE first spoke to me!!!!! That alone threw my husband into fury..He was glad about the deliverance from smoking...but not from abstaining from drinking wine!

Anyway.. I pray this bring glory to my LORD & Savior and King of Kings!

Blessings to you all!
In His grace & service,
Donna


Partner With God and See the Wonders

Psalm 40:5 Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. 

The past couple of weeks I shared with you how I fell off the Hope Train. I have struggled just as you struggle. There are days when it appears God is absent and He remains silent, unaware of our anguish or heartbreak. 

But….. 

Say this with me now, “WE SERVE THE MOST HIGH GOD.” 

I was immediately reminded of God’s faithfulness. You, my friends, jumped on the Hope Train and pulled me back on board, reminding me instantly of how selfish I am. (I mean this in a good way.) You reminded me of who I serve. You reminded me to stop looking at my circumstance and look at my God. 

Thank you! 

How dare I forget all He has done in me and around me? 

I looked at my husband a few weeks ago, convinced he was no different that when we began our unemployment journey a year earlier. Yet, I KNOW the many things the Lord did during this past year. God provided for us financially. In miraculous ways, remember the Woman and the Cow Story. That was God’s miraculous business in an ordinary woman’s life. How about my husband praying in earnest for the first time? Miracles of miracles. How about giving my husband a job and He gave me a job through our book contract AND has allowed Dineen and I to share our hope with others who don’t find us on the internet. 

The list goes on…. truly, and on and on…. The Lord, God held my hand every step of the way. The Lord, God confronted my man then set him on a journey toward heaven. How dare I let a single argument with my husband defeat or minimize the power of God in my life. 

So today, it’s my turn to reveal something to encourage you. God is the God of wonders! 

Why do I always want to make it about me? This thing with my husband, his salvation, it isn’t about me. My roll and responsibilities when I partner with God is to do my part. Period. The end. When I do my part, then God will do the wonders. 

Read the scripture verse at the beginning of this post again then stand with me amazed. We need only to do our part and then step back and be WOWED. 

Settingsuncross  This past Sunday, I learned a couple of things we as unequally yoked spouses need to know. (thanks Pastor Josh)

  1. Discover and embrace your role in His-story. 
  2. Learn obedience by choosing faith over fear. 

My role is to live for Christ. Nothing more. Nothing less, then let Jesus to the rest. And when fear arises such as when I don’t understand why my husband still hesitates or I can’t get all my questions answered or what the end of this journey will result for him, I MUST choose faith. I know the truth and I cling to it with every part of my mind, soul, heart, and strength. 

When I do this, God shows His wonders. I am living in the Promised Land. 

A sinner set free! That would be me. 

As I sat in church Sunday, my husband joined me for the first time in many months. I glanced his way during the morning service and behold; his eyes were closed and his head bowed, and at that moment, I watched him pray in earnest. 

I see the wonders Lord. I see Your wonders. 

I love you Jesus, Lynn


Trust AND Action!

I don’t subscribe to the old adage; God helps those who help themselves. I am acutely aware the Lord helps many of us when we are so low we can’t even get off the couch. But, I am also certain God wants our active participation in His plans.

With that said what does it mean to “trust” God? Trust

Suppose you were unemployed, would you pray and trust God saying, “Oh, I am trusting God to give me a job,” then never apply for work?

Would you fail to intervene in your teenager’s life if you found marijuana in their room? Would you just pray about it and say, “Oh I am just trusting God to change my daughter’s mind about drugs.”

HECK NO!

Well, I think sometimes we fail to join the Lord in His plans with regard to our unbelieving spouses. There are times when we must stand for the principals we know to be true. I am convinced ther are times when the Lord wants us to be a fighter for His kingdom.

Discernment is the critical component when you are married to an unbeliever. There are indeed, times when you need to let go of your rights and/or desires and then there are times when conflict is necessary. I can tell you through the years of my marriage there were many heated moments of conversation (read: fights) over our different worldviews. Some specifics were church attendance. I would attend. Period. The end. So would my kids when they were little.

I look back over the years and KNOW, without a doubt, my consistent defense of the Word of God in the face of my husband’s skepticism played a powerful roll in his discovery process. The Lord would allow my words to land on my man’s heart from time-to-time where they would sink in. Coupled with living my faith with authenticity and enthusiasm, my husband softened to the Lord.

Trust is to be confident and secure. Trusting God is an unafraid trust. We know the Lord has our best interests at heart. But the Lord is also expecting effort. He gave us a brain and wants us to use it. He also calls us to action. He expects us to move in our world for His benefit and glory. There are numerous stories of God calling His people to action throughout the Bible. There are just as many where God calls His people to trust Him.

So why am I sharing this today? I know many of you are walking a difficult road right now. I know the Lord is calling you to trust Him but He may also be calling you to action in a specific area.

Ask Him.

The New Year is quickly approaching and what you and the Lord set into action today may be life changing for those you love tomorrow.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Be blessed, Lynn


Day 6: God is Good

859675_book___ You send an email to a friend updating her on everything going on at the moment. Your letter seems more like a list of crises than anything else. Then you go to sign it with “God is good” but you hesitate.

Can you honestly say that and mean it in the midst of your discouragement? You know in your head it’s true, but in your heart…in your heart, you’ve noticed a disconnect. You’re tired and struggling to believe that the trials in your life are in God’s control.

Are you there right now?

I know in recent weeks I have been. But I have the answer for you. If we spend anytime at all in the Bible, we are shown over and over again a God who cares and sacrifices for his children, his ultimate sacrifice being his Son. Jesus Christ is the greatest representation of God’s incomprehensible love.

Along with that, we see the evidence that God is good in his constant provision for his people. Like I said, we can know that in our heads, but sometimes when life gets hard, and I mean to the point where we think we just can’t take anymore, God is still right there in the midst of it all.

Since I was a child I have known that good comes out of everything. I can’t take credit for it. God instilled that in me for some reason I’ve yet to completely fathom, but I can tell you that I knew Romans 8:28 before I ever read it.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose. — Romans 8:28
The longer I walk with God the more I grasp the truth of these words. We may not always understand the reason why we go through certain trials. We have to trust that God is working on our behalf to accomplish a greater purpose through our trials. A purpose that not only affects us but those around us a well.

Yet this is a truth that is hard to fathom at times. We skirt around it, fearful that it would mean accepting that God allows difficult things in our lives. So why would He do that if He loves us so much?

Let me tell you this, and please hear me. He does this BECAUSE he loves us so much. He wants us to grow and move closer to being more Christ-like, to realize our purpose in Him and to know Him. God is a redeemer. Not only of people but of circumstances. He may allow these times of trial in our lives (and I’m speaking of trials, not consequences), but I promise you GOD WASTES NOTHING AND REDEEMS EVERYTHING!

Can you believe that? Can you trust that He’s working in your circumstances even though you may not see Him there? Romans 8:28 says He works for the good of those who love him. That means He’s there working right now in whatever trial you are facing.

Are you ready to believe this TRUTH? Are you ready to turn control over this situation, OR EVEN YOUR LIFE, to him and trust he’s going to work it out (no matter what it is and every part of it) for YOUR GOOD?

Trust is the key and it’s a muscle we have to develop. Make this choice today and when doubts come in, say these words:

“I know God is working in my circumstances to bring good and resolution. I’m CHOOSING today to trust Him and leave the outcome completely in his hands. I BELIEVE God is working for my good.”

Say it as often as you need to. This is part of the process Romans 12:2 speaks of in transforming our minds to the likeness of Christ. We must actively give those thoughts that work against us to Christ and replace them with biblical truths.

Keep praying. Keep believing. And keep watching! God is about to do something amazing!

Praying and believing with you!
Dineen


Journal.thumbnailIn your journals, explore these Scriptures and questions:

1. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1)  What does this verse mean to you? Are you certain that God’s unseen hand is still working in your life? (For extra study, read the book of Esther. Though God isn’t directly mentioned once, do you see his hand working in the circumstances surrounding Esther and the Jews?)

2. Think of a time that you felt alone, yet to look back, you can now see how God worked in the circumstances to bring resolution for your good. Write it down and date it. From now on, when you see God work like this, record it in your journal. When you have times of doubt, go back and read about these times.

3. “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) This verse clearly explains the benefit of trusting God and keeping our minds focused on Him. We will have peace. Look this verse up in other translations if you can, and write down the one you like best in your journal. Repeat it several times until you memorize it. Then when doubts assail you, fight back by repeating those words. And congratulations! You’ve already transformed your mind one more step closer to Christ.

The Prizes of Victory

661158_cursi_words “I’ve prayed, but nothing’s happening.”

I felt my daughter’s pain. Not just over the health issue she was struggling with but also her confusion that God hadn’t taken the condition away.

How often had I prayed over several issues in my own life—some for years—to see nothing change? Through those years I’d come to learn about God’s faithfulness and his desire for me to learn from trials, not just get through them. I’d come to trust him and his plan, and to realize that though circumstances may appear nothing’s happening, something definitely is. Yet to encapsulate years of learning about God and my growing faith to a handful of words is a tall challenge. Plus, I still shared her frustration at times.

I recently read a devotional in Streams in the Desert, which spoke of this perseverance in the face of trials. The author made a connection to Romans 8:37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us,” stating that in walking through the trial and seeing adversity as tools of learning, we become more than conquerors.

Here in lies the victory, that we see the things working against us as key elements to further our journey and growth. I read this verse many a time and had even asked God to make me “more than a conqueror.” But it wasn’t until reading this devotional that I realized God was already answering my prayer in these difficult times. I was learning to lean on God and depend upon him, despite the situation and in spite of the ongoing issues. In the midst of difficulty, I was already victorious.

Again, I was amazed at the synchronicity between everything in our lives and God’s plan. And here’s the final piece to this puzzle—one that blew me away. When we obtain this is attitude of seeing trial as important to becoming the people God created us to be, we’re not only conquerors, we discover the prizes of our victory.

The peace that surpasses understanding (Phil. 4:7) and the joy in the midst of trial (James 1:2-3).

Praying and believing,
Dineen