5 posts categorized "Religion"

A Road Well Worth It

Hi friends, Ann here!

Have you ever looked in the rear-view mirror, glimpsed the road behind you, and realized that something’s changed? That happened to me recently in relation to a friend who didn't want to know about faith. I thought I'd share the story today.Rear view mirror SUM

When I first turned to God, I began to tell my friends my testimony. Little did I know how unenthusiastic they would be. In their eyes it was a ‘fairy tale’. I realize now that this is normal, but at the time I was perplexed: “How can you not believe me?" 

I had a particular friend who epitomized this. At the mention of my faith she literally had a physical reaction. She raced to the other side of the shop we were in, and starting looking at shelves with her back to me. The months that followed brought honesty about her feelings towards Christians. Then came her husband, with similar reactions. They warned me off the ‘danger of religion’, shaking their heads as if I was a weakling who’d been sucked in. It was pretty painful to be viewed this way. Nevertheless, I stayed friends: I liked them.

Eventually they moved away but recently, after a couple of years' absence, I got a surprise email: “We’re in town, can we meet?” It was a big “YES” from me, we set up a time and day, and time found us gathered round a homely kitchen table with cake and tea.

Now, my heart at this point had become quite bruised. For some time I’d been feeling like I was lying in the corner of a battlefield, enduring atheist swipes. Anti-Christ sentiments among those near and dear had become bruising thumps against my shield of faith. Bang. Bang. Bang. I was tired – I’m sure you know the feeling. Yet:

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NIV).

Indeed, that day as we sat at the same table with cake and tea, the swipes seemed to disappear and something altogether different happened. As I took a sip of tea my dear friend came out with a question that had clearly been brewing:

“Ann, tell me, are you still a Christian? If so, how has that affected your marriage?  And Bryce, how are you coping with it?”

Woah. What? Of all our friends, none have ever asked me about my faith; they don’t want to know. None have asked that honest question about our life and marriage, and Bryce and I had never, up to that point, had the opportunity to talk about this situation to someone else, side by side. In essence we were being asked to tell our shared story.

And so we talked. I gave my testimony. Bryce joined in. I put my hand on his leg. We talked about the fact that you experience it or you don’t. We talked about a sense of calling. We talked about church and denominations, churches being clubbish, relationship versus religion, about how you can’t give up your faith, about how we still love each other, and about respecting each other within a marriage.

Our boys sat munching cake. Everyone at the table had open ears, including me.

Later, tucking the boys in, some childlike wisdom came, sweet and helpful: “Mum, don’t worry about other people. If you like something, you just do it.” Then: “I like Minecraft but it’s not cool any more. I don’t care though, I go with what I like.” Good words fitly spoken. 

That day represented a shift. Someone who had been so opposed to my faith actually listened. What’s more, my husband and I sat together, talking authentically about it to others. These friends of ours would never go near a church but what they were willing to hear is our story and reality, because it is a raw and real account. In that way, we did it together, he and I. Thank God for my husband's place in all this; and yes, we feel the blows, but we also keep going because who knows where it goes!

How about you? What rear-vision experiences have you had, looking back and seeing that something shifted? 


Elections and Peace

I voted 2018SUMite Nation:

Tomorrow in America many will go to the polls to vote. Please pray for our nation because the potential for rage, distrust, destruction, and lawlessness looms high. (These are all demonic principalities, by the way.)

Our local friends who know Mike and I, always joke around election time that we cancel out each other’s votes. I might be a bit more conservative and Mike is far and away, liberal.

Ya, just another area in our lives where we are mismatched.

I know I’m not alone in this kind of a mismatch. So, for those of us who are trying to avoid arguments over candidates, issues, and government in general, I bless you today with peace.

Be the peace maker.

I know that many marriages on Tuesday will feel additional strain because the political climate is volatile and highly charged.

I know for me, I MUST press into the power of the Holy Spirit in some matters of faith and politics and bite my tongue. I believe because I’ve been spiritually mismatched for a number of years, I’ve learned to do this with discernment, wisdom, and with revelation. I simply choose not to discuss matters that will blow up.

The truth is, my husband is set in his beliefs. And, I’m firmly set in mine as well. I view everything that I do, think, and believe, through the lens of the Bible and that carries over to my voting stance as well. What is interesting, however, it that I am at peace. I don’t feel the need to try to convince my husband in faith matters and that goes for voting as well.

Jesus is the one who changes hearts, souls, votes, and nations!!  Hallelujah!! 

We, the SUMites, have learned to walk this journey in peace and acceptance. We love people. We can live peaceably with our pre-believer, with those we differ in faith and politics. We MUST be the model to show this world that the divisiveness doesn’t win hearts or souls.

It’s our love!

Please vote.

On Friday, I will have an announcement. Stay tuned. I LOVE YOU, Lynn


Weekend Devo — Pascal's Wager: Worth the Gamble?

220px-Blaise_Pascal_VersaillesHave you heard of Pascal's Wager? I looked it up recently and ask my husband about it. I was curious what he thought of such a theory coming from Blaise Pascal, a scientist whose been influential in his own scientific persuits and beliefs. 

From Wikipedia: It posits that there's more to be gained from wagering on the existence of God than from atheism, and that a rational person should live as though God exists, even though the truth of the matter cannot actually be known.

Here's what my hubby basically had to say in response: Christianity believes our salvation is contingent on your acceptance of God's Son Jesus so Pascal's wager still fails because just believing God exists doesn't save you unless you buy into the fallacy that good works save you.

I must say I was surprised at his clarity of the differentiation and I could see his point. My guy never stops surprising me. He understands more of my "doctrine" than I give him credit for sometimes. I'm relieved too that it's one less hurdle between him and God. I want my guy to have all the facts straight so that when the day does come that he considers Jesus, he'll know the full story and consider the cost (Luke 14:28-33).

 No wagers or gambles. Just all in for eternity.

Praying & believing,
Dineen 

 


An Open Letter to Celia

My Friend Celia,  

Aletterto
Dearest Celia, Romans 10:10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

God is a mystery and we will never fully understand or know everything about him. Even in heaven, we will continually discover new facets of His love, grace, and character. And I am truly thankful that we don’t have God all figured out.  

If we did, how bland and ordinary life would be. How utterly boring. 

Living life with God is anything but boring. We, the CHOSEN, live an everyday adventure. It’s often scary, many times uncertain; we face seemingly insurmountable odds in our struggles, and fight against demons and every sort of evil. 

But we live. 

We live; fully-alive, 3D, full-color, spectacular, even supernatural lives. 

I am an ordinary woman Celia, who has an ugly past, have hurt many, have felt pain just like you. But just like you I decided one day to seek God with an earnest heart. And I found Him. 

Celia, you will never have answers to all of your questions, this side of heaven. And God is intentional to remain somewhat of a mystery to us mere mortals. That is what Faith is all about. Belief. Not science or religion. 

Faith is more precious than gold and it is the only thing we possess as humans that we can offer to God. It is our love and relationship that we freely give and receive from God. 

When we take that singular step of faith and earnestly believe, God will join us.

  • And slowly, over time, you will discover you can face your past and live in triumph. 
  • You can forgive what you once through impossible to get over. 
  • You will find an authentic joy in your everyday living. 
  • You will see the miraculous. 
  • You will be astounded by His protection. 
  • You will see prayer answered in such an extravagant and unexpected way you will fall to your knees and weep. 
  • You will experience the supernatural. 
  • You will hear God speak to you, words of love, wisdom, direction and affirmation. 
  • Your fears will subside. 
  • Your insecurity fade. 
  • Your confidence rise. 
  • Your countenance change. 

You will be transformed. 

You will encounter the love of God and His presence that surrounds you in such a powerful way that you feel like you just touched heaven. 

O Celia, say goodbye to your doubts, look at the people who love God and be assured. We are His trophies, living proof, that God is real, powerful, full of love and righteousness. 

Today is the day Celia. Today is YOUR day. Decide now and forever, to step into the astonishing, amazing and eternal Kingdom of the Most High God. And live for 

El Shaddai, God Almighty, and his reigning son, Jesus.

Be blessed my sister, Lynn 

Celia, I also want to answer your question, Why do bad things happen to good people, in a future post. I’ve asked a pastor to help me with that one. I hope to share that with you in the near future. Thank you for sharing your heart, your honest thoughts and your life. It’s now up to you my friend. 

Celia, the path toward faith is this. Belief, reading God’s Word, prayer and community. Remain faithful to reading your Daily Bible and praying in your prayer journal. Become a weekly attender in a Bible teaching, Holy Spirit filled church. That is the path I followed and it leads to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The fruit of the Spirit. 

It’s not complicated but it does require commitment and effort but living the abundant, believer’s life is OH SO WORTH IT. 

Okay everyone, what have you experienced with Christ that has affirmed your faith? Now is the time to proclaim what God has done, is doing, in the lives of His children? Leave your praise, your story, your testimony in the comments and let our God receive great praise.

To read all of Celia's questions and our replies, start here: Doubts About God.


Don't Get In a Twist

Nails
A visit to my local nail salon is always fascinating. Now, please don’t think poorly of me. This is the one pampering I allow myself. I visit the local Vietnamese nail salon for a pink and white fill. Don’t do the toes, nor the anything else much but this one thing. But I am so glad I have this one little luxury because a one hour visit in that place is simply fascinating, illuminating and shows me so much about what Jesus teaches.

First, when you walk in the door you can’t miss the gold-platted Buddha that sits of to the left. Yep, now don’t get your undies in a twist because I visit a salon with a Buddha. Think about this. Jesus went where the lost, broken, and unsaved went. He ate with the sinners. I find out more interesting things in this place and delve into a sub-culture of America, steeped in a faith of tradition but does little to bring healing and help to the individual.

I’m a regular there and most of the men and women know me. They know I wrote a book, a Christian book, and boy do we have some great conversations. Like today.

I sat with Ken, his American name and he's new to the salon. He spoke very good English. Most of the time I must listen very closely to understand some of the gals and I really try hard to understand because when I breakthrough that language barrier I find they are truly interested in my perspective and thoughts. Ane I am interested in them.

“Ken, what is your real name?” I asked knowing that they all have American names because most American’s can’t figure out how to say their Vietnamese name.

“Hein. Like the ketchup. But I don’t like people to call me ketchup.” He snickers. I giggle.

“What does it mean?”

“Peaceful One.”

“That really fits you.”

“Yes, it does.”

At some point in our discussion, I ask Ken about how he arrived in America. He went on to describe five different boat trips, one without food or water for over four days. One boat, which was intercepted by the Russians. The death a suffering of those trying to find a better life. Of a mother whose child died but she carried it around with her because she couldn’t give it up. (hard to read, I know)

Ken looked up at me and said, “That’s why I don’t get upset about some of the silly stuff people get upset over. I have seen the very worst of living. I have gone without food and water. Shivered at night and feared for my life on many occasions. The minor complaints around this place just don’t bother me.”

I just sat and listened. Very humbled. Thinking of all the stupid little things I complain about.

“As long as I have my daughter and wife, that’s all that matters.”

Sometimes I need a reminder about how good I have things. Often I need God to hit me upside the head and have a man from Vietnam remind me how very fortunate I really am. It’s funny that God often does this in the nail salon.

I wonder do they see God in me while they set the pink and white on my nails. I’m praying they do.

I praying that I will never allow my undies to get twisted up. I want to go where the people are who need the truth of Jesus.

My conversation with Ken will continue in the future. We briefly discussed his faith background. He is Catholic and Buddhist. I find that fascinating in itself. So, you can bet Jesus has me getting my nail done in the future. I can’t wait to see what we talk about next.

Be blessed, Lynn