122 posts categorized "Sacrificial Love"

Love Conqers All

IMG_4126My friends, I am overwhelmed by the force of God's love. It is powerful, relentless, consuming and vast. It is tender, gentle, perfect and complete. It is who He is, what we long for, what the world needs, and the answer to every thing.

Love. God's love. The greatest force on earth and the conduit to faith. The longer I walk this path of the mismatched the more I am seeing—now—that love is the key. Lynn and I have said this all along and you know it, but right now in this time and place, I sense a greater call to love than I have ever discerned before.

God's love enables us to love Him and love others. All we have to do is let go and let Him do this in and through us. That's faith expressing itself through love.

What is important is faith expressing itself in love. — Galatians 5:6b

On Tuesday I put my youngest daughter on a plane to go back home. I wept to see her go, yet my heart was so full of thankfulness for all the love God has put in my life. It's not been easy at times and moving 3,000 miles away from my girls is not the direction I thought my life would go. But God has filled every aspect with His love and presence.

He showed me as a child that love is what "makes the world go round." And I am understanding more and more I that it is His love that holds all things together (Col 1:17). 

All things. Everything.

SUMites, as we enter this time of Thanksgiving, let's take stock of the love God has placed in our lives. The people He has given us to love. The ways He is has shown and is showing us to love. And the incomprehensible, relentless and unending love He has for us.

Our greatest impact on this world is our love. Let it shine, SUMites. Look upon everyone you know and meet with love. Let them see God's love shining in you and watch what happens. I’ve noticed that as I do this, as I meet people eye to eye, they hesitate at first and then smile. I’m just starting to notice this, and I know it’s the love of Jesus shining through. 

This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples––when they see the love you have for each other. — John 13:35 (MSG)

We change the world by loving the people in it, my friends. We are the SUMites, and we know how to do that better than most I think! You are amazing! Love you!
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How Do We Love?

3KeysMy friends, I’d planned to talk briefly about love and then move into thankfulness, but the Holy Spirit impressed our Father’s heart on this subject upon me and I want to give that ample space. So today we will talk about love, the second key in this Abundant Life series. 

I want to tell you that this series simmered in my heart for a few weeks and at first I thought love should come first since it is so foundational to all we feel, think and do. But I realized that unforgiveness needed to be covered first because when we hold that unforgiveness we are actually trying to control a person or situation, and we have talked in the past about how love and control can’t coexist, especially in a marriage.

And your comments were so good, so honest! Never discount how much sharing your heart here ministers to others. That is one of the aspects of our community that I love so much, SUM family. You’re amazing in the love that you show!

As I prayerfully prepared for this post, the Holy Spirit told me to read Galatians. I suspected He had a nugget for me there and wow, did He. This one piece of truth from Paul in his letter to the Galatians says it all:

For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. — Galatians 5:6 (NLT)

Paul wanted the Galatians to return to the truth of their salvation in Jesus and not listen to the group of Jewish Christians who had come and was teaching they still need the Law in order to be saved. Paul’s statement was a powerful truth for the Galatians then and for us today.

Without love, we can’t represent Jesus accurately, because He is love. 

All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. — 1 John 4:15-16

This piece of truth reveals that it is because of God’s love and His love for us that we are able to love others. And not only love others, but love Him. And that is what I feel the Holy Spirit wanting us to truly embrace today about God’s love. 

You see, God designed us with a need to be loved. This need is even stronger than our need for food. I remember as a child somehow understanding that love was the answer to everything and the key to solving all problems. My understanding was limited though because I only understood love as the world defined it.

But now, as I walk closer and closer to God, I realize I was almost right. God’s love is the answer to everything—to all our needs, wants, conflicts and dreams; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

God created us to need love, to need Him. And He created us to love Him and others. Thus our primary commandments to love God and love others isn’t just a command to please God. It is basic instruction to do what we have been created to do.

God living in us means Love is in us—His love. When we let Him increase and overflow in us, we are transformed. And that ripples out to everything around us. We’re not the only ones changed. Those around us are affected, influenced and changed. Lives, communities and nations.

God’s love is the most powerful force in heaven and on earth, because it’s Him. God is love. No matter how many times I say and think it, I’m astounded by the magnitude of this truth. He is vast. No wonder we need the Holy Spirit’s help just to understand it!

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith —that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. — Ephesian 3:17-19

My friends, we will spend our entire lives here on earth and eternity learning about God’s love. And you know what? That’s what our Abba Father wants most. To love us, for us to love Him, and then to release that love into others. And it happens in that order. Faith expressing itself through love. The abundant life...

Earlier this year I prayed and asked the Lord for a key to breakthrough. He said, “Love.” And He led me to this verse, the first one that follows 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter.

Let love be your highest goal! — 1 Cor. 14:1.

Love as our highest goal…that’s so powerful, my friends. And that is the story of my marriage. I made loving my husband my highest goal. Not to change him or convince him God was real. Just to love him because I believe in God and I believe He, His love, transforms everything. And it has transformed my marriage and filled it with so much love, I’m blown away by it almost every day. That’s God, present and living and loving.

Share your thoughts in the comments, my friends. Share how God’s love has touched and changed your life. Share how loving someone changed a life, a heart—possibly yours. Because love always ricochets as a blessing.

And I love you, SUM family! With all the love God pours into my heart for you! He is love and He is GOOD!
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Even Bullies Need Love

NotAloneStudyImageHello, SUMites! Welcome to week three of the Equipping Our Kids in a Contrary Culture series. This week I’m zeroing in on chapter six in our book, Not Alone, about Generous Kids

I share some stories in this chapter about my daughters, stories that are near and dear to my heart and one that nearly tore my heart out at the time. I bet just about every one you out there has a parenting story like that. I’d rather suffer myself than see my children suffer. Anybody else out there feel the same? 

Years ago, I asked Jesus to help me love others as He loves them. I still pray this prayer and ask Him to help me see others as He sees them, including my kiddos and my hubby. And without judgement. That can be a tough area to walk in today’s world, especially when we are being mistreated. Or our child is being mistreated.

How do we love the kid that’s bullying our child and making him or her miserable? How do we love the friends our children bring home who have an attitude of entitlement? How do we love our own teenager when we find out they’re not as “well behaved” as we thought? 

Moms and Dads, as I get older and hopefully just a little bit wiser, I’m finding it has everything to do with love—God’s kind of love that is full of mercy, forgiveness and grace. We can’t love people like that on our own and neither can our children. And as we learn and model this, they will learn it from us. 

As much as I wanted to hate the pint-sized bully who terrorized my youngest daughter, I knew I couldn’t. I knew for my own sake and hers, we had to pray for him. I prayed not only for the situation but also for understanding of what caused this young boy to behave so horribly. I had a hard time believing a child capable of such actions. And helping my daughter understand was no easy task. 

But as I prayed, God revealed the situation to me and to my daughter. We discovered this was a boy who had a father who traveled all the time and a mother who was a severe alcoholic. Just a few months after I began praying for this boy and his family, they moved away. My daughter and I both learn a valuable lesson about God’s faithfulness.

Today, my daughter sees this experience as part of the experiences that have shaped who she is today and even now, her first reaction to an offense is to try and understand the why behind the what. 

My friends, I think most people expect one kind of reaction to the offenses of this world, but when we, as believers, don’t react but reach out with a heart to love and understand, we shock the world. We bring the truth of Christ into full scope—and the evidence of His salvation.

And I believe we walk in God’s favor to do such things. When we seek God’s heart first, we can work with our child’s teacher to peaceably find a solution to stop the bullying with a heart to not only help our own child but the one doing the bullying. You could very well be the answer to the prayer of a hurting or abused child.  

When we seek God’s heart first, we can see the more challenging friends our child brings home and welcome them with the love and grace of Jesus. We can be firm in our rules, but loving and encouraging too. You may plant a seed of truth in a child that will sprout and bloom at just the right moment when they are faced with a decision that could take them down the wrong path.

When we seek God’s heart first, we can help our own children navigate the challenging and painful places in their lives, and teach them that no situation or person is beyond God’s reach. And we can teach them to love others without judgement, no matter where they come from or who their parents are.

My friends, this is the hope we carry and are called to pass on to our children. This hope burns bright like an torch, and we are called to carry it everywhere we go. The light we carry brings solutions by changing atmospheres. That is what truth does—when revealed, lies and darkness can no longer operate. The atmosphere shifts and brings change. And hope.

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants. — 2 Tim. 2:24-26 

Question: Do you have an area in your life in which God is calling you to love others specifically? How can you teach this to your children?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see and love people through Your eyes and heart. And help me teach my children do the same. In Your name Jesus, amen!

SUMites, our ministry verse is 1 Peter 3:1-2 and tells us our godly lives will speak for themselves. We are mismatched with this world too, my friends. Our godly lives and love, and the growing godly lives and love of our children will show Jesus, the hope of the world.

All in His love,
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Part 1: The Journey to Complete Abandonment

SUMites, Lynn here. I will be traveling this week. While I'm away, one of our long-time readers and Sister, SUMite Gillian Russell will be sharing a portion of her story. You may remember her and her astonishing story of traveling to meet me and Dineen in Texas. You can find her story about that adventure, here

Thank you Gill for taking time to share your faith with us. Hugs, Lynn

Although I came to my faith for the first time as a twenty year old, somehow God grabbed hold of me very early on in my journey: within a month I was completely sold out on God and I never looked back. While I struggle with many things, trusting God has rarely been an issue for me. (By this I mean for big stuff, trusting God in the little interruptions and frustrations in my day is a completely different story). Maybe it's also that I've always been impulsive, but when God says jump, I jump, (and think and ask questions later!) Honestly, it doesn't matter what it is, all I need is to hear from Him. 

So what does that mean for a mismatched marriage? It has certainly created some odd discussions but there are so many blessings that have flowed into all our lives from this obedience, because after all, God always works only for our best. 

A few years ago, while praying on my way home from a church event I heard these words CLEARLY in my spirit: 

Until your husband sees you, visibly different, (like my best friend saw the change) truly submitting to him, he’s not going to believe.’ That’s what it will take for him to come on board etc, radical humility. ‘Only when you are willing to lay down your will, will he be able to know Me.’ 

Gulp. 

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Since then God has been helping me, one little step at a time, to lay down my wants, my desires, my way. In Texas God had taught me that I didn't need to try to run the show because He was in control, and of course He knows what's best. I was reminded of what God had told me about letting go of my will, and it was clear God needed me to stop controlling my husband, trying to get him to live his life how I wanted. 

In fact, God took it a step further by showing me clearly that as long as I was doing this, God would never be able to reach him. Like the prodigal son, my husband had to be able to live free, even free to make mistakes, and that would require my cooperation. This actually made perfect sense, so I trustingly said yes to God. 

A few days later I began to see just what that yes meant.

You see, my husband was invited to a party I did not want him to go to. Besides the fact that it was overnight and shouldn't a husband and father be home with his family, I knew that part of the festivities included strippers (Bachelor party). I knew this situation was not going to be healthy for him or for our marriage...and I wanted to put my wifely foot down, that he was NOT GOING.

Instead I had to lay that urge down, and let him make the decision himself, and look to God to get me through it. So I trusted my heart to God, only to have it broken when he chose to go anyway. I clung to God through the fears and hurt that followed, and offered up the pain I felt to God, together with the cross of Christ to win graces for my husband. Even though I couldn't see any real changes, I had to trust that God was using this to humble my husband, as he saw how his decision affected me.

I had never been so broken, but The Lord stood with me. Truly, I'd never felt so close to my Lord as I did those few days. I had given Him everything I had. 

The night before, after my husband had left for the party, I felt like Jesus alone in the garden of Gethsemane wrestling with the Father's will as my heart wrestled with surrendering this completely to God, for better or worse. Now God had taken my heart, and I had nothing left to give Him. In that place I found myself completely abandoned to His will, whatever it might be, from that moment forward.  There, kneeling by the water in full view of the cars going by, I raised my hands to the heavens in humble surrender. 

Three days later I watched God do a work of redemption in our marriage that only He could do. Afterwards I even shared with my husband a little of how God was responsible for it, because it was only because I was following God's directions that this new breakthrough happened. 

Only God could turn that place of darkness into a new dawn. Truly, the Almighty works ALL things for our good. 

Gill Intl Life
--- Stay Tuned, Part II is next--- Gill


July 4th: Renewing Our Hope and Trust in God

4thJulyDear SUM family, Lynn and I hope and pray the series on the Books of Peter has encouraged and strengthened you. We enjoyed sharing this journey with you, and Lynn and I both feel so honored to be a part of this community and to be praying for you. Your requests Monday have moved our hearts so deeply, and we know they have moved our King Jesus' heart too. He died for us, He lives for us, He cries with us, He heals us. We believe this in the Name of Mighty Jesus, and as His Word stands,

But I will reveal my name to my people, and they will come to know its power. Then at last they will recognize that I am the one who speaks to them. — Isaiah 52:6 NLT

My friends, this is the truth we stand on and right now as many of are grappling with the recent supreme court ruling. Lynn and I want you to know that we are too. We have felt our own grief along with a heavy grief that we can only describe as coming from the spiritual realm. We are processing this with hearts and minds turned to Abba for wisdom and guidance, and we are determined to stand on the truth and in the great love and hope of Jesus above all.

He is faithful, my friends. As I walked and prayed on Monday, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart that the Lord is releasing hope for His children right now. And as I looked up into the sky, I heard His still soft voice say,

"I reign supreme."

Things are shifting and changing, yes, but Our God is the same as always. 

So as we celebrate Independence Day in America, my friends, let's renew our hope and trust in God. He reigns supreme and nothing changes that. I know it's challenging right now, as many of us are walking in places of disappointment and defeat. Next week, Lynn and I have some very encouraging words to share with you, things the Holy Spirit has impressed upon us to share to encourage, uplift and strengthen you so we can persevere and run this race well together as God's family.

Lynn and I are taking the rest of the week off, but we'll still be hanging out in the comments. As of next week, I will be switching my posting days to Tuesday and Thursday and Lynn will continue to post on Monday and Friday. We feel this will better serve our community. We hope you think so too.

And just a heads up. We have something very special planned for August. Our Lord is so good. He is working to put things into place to equip you, my friends. Lynn and I are excited to share this study that we believe will help you to equip your children in navigating the waters of this changing world and stand for God's truth. Right in their schools. We will be using our book Not Alone as reference to do this.

Lots happening, SUMites. Lynn and I truly believe our SUM family is here for such a time as this. Have an amazing holiday, hug your hubby and kiddos tight and tell them how thankful you for them. Perhaps the face of freedom is shifting in this country, but our freedom in Christ is the same as ever, my friends.

We love you, SUMites! See you on Monday!
Dineen and Lynn


Books of Peter: Secure in the Face of Opposition (part 2)

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiDear friends, on Wednesday we talked about how it was Peter’s intent to encourage his readers to be of one mind as believers, to place loving each other as brothers and sisters in Christ above disagreements and insults. 

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.” 

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. — 1 Peter 3:8-13

I also proposed that this is our model to follow with all those we encounter, whether they believe as we do or not, and that what we have learned in our mismatched places is exactly what the world needs right now. Launching from the truths I listed on Wednesday of what we have learned and are learning in our mismatched marriages, we can:

  • seek unity with those we encounter everyday, not to adjust our beliefs but show freedom of choice as God has given us and therefore show others they too have the freedom to choose Jesus, and not feel forced.
  • love others unconditionally with tenderness and humility so they catch a glimpse of Jesus’ heart for and acceptance of them just as they are. They don’t have to clean up their act first to earn salvation.
  • use our words to bring encouragement and love to those who need it and as we do this and earn their trust, we can speak the truth of Jesus into their lives in that same love.
  • practice hospitality so that others may see what a home filled with the peace of Christ looks and feels like.
  • stand before our God and lift up the ones we know need Him and ask the Lord to bring His presence and help.
  • be alert to opportunities to help others with whatever resources we have. God always seems to provide exactly what is needed for the present situation. Remember the fish and loaves. Look at what you do have and how you can use it help. God will multiply it.
  • be a blessing everywhere you go. At the grocery store, on the phone with the insurance company representative (that’s a challenging one for me!), at your child’s school, at church, shopping at the mall, at the restaurants you frequent. Even at the park or playground. Smiles and kind greetings open doors of opportunity for us to show Jesus. Most likely it won’t happen the very first time, but the more we do it, the more those divine appointments will present themselves and we’ll be ready. 

My friends, I am so moved to seek Abba for this place of security. I want to live what I picture in my mind. That when I am faced with opposition to my belief in Jesus and His Word, I can share the truth in love without feeling threatened or defensive, so that the other person will feel unthreatened and even shocked by what they see. As they see Jesus in me.

There is one final part to this, my friends, that I feel compelled to share. This place of security must be grounded in humility. As Peter says, “a humble mind.” The Greek translation uses only one word for this phrase, philophrōn, and it means to act kindly from a mind-set of personal affection.

For if pride enters in any way, then we become that clanging cymbal, because pride crowds out love. 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. — 1 Cor. 13:1

It is a fine line that we walk, my friends, but we have a great big God who equips and guides His kids well. The beauty of this has become my simplest prayer of simply living authentic faith. As we reach the end of our study of Peter, let’s pray it together.

Lord, help us be the people You created to be so that by just being who we are and secure in Whose we are, we show our pre-believers, our children and the world Your Son Jesus. In His saving name we pray, amen.

We live it. He does it. This is the kingdom of God on Earth.

Standing with you, my friends!
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The Books of Peter: Secure in the Face of Opposition (part 1)

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Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. — 1 Peter 3:8-13 NLT

My friends, these passages have come together with something I felt the Holy Spirit impressing upon me during my walk and pray the other day. We live in a time of opposition and daily see what that looks like all over the world. Yet it is more likely in places like our churches, on Facebook and social media, and the internet that we come in direct contact with opposition. And let’s not forget that we SUMites live with it every day as well. Whether it is spoken or not, we stand in places where our beliefs are not accepted in our very homes.

As I walked this particular day, the thought or pondering came to a question. 

What would happen if we were so secure in who we are in Jesus and what we believed that no matter what the opposition we faced, we did not feel threatened or the need to prove ourselves or God.

It starts with our identity and along with that knowledge, understanding that we are truly secure in Christ. The Bible says throughout the Old and New Testaments that God is our refuge and our safety. 

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.— Psalm 27:1 & 3

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. — Psalm 91:2

David faced great opposition, yet stood his ground in his faith and trust in the God he knew would not fail him. That didn’t make his path any easier but the truth sustained him to keep going, to keep believing and in the end, it was God who proved him.

I remember as a new believer feeling overwhelmed by my husbands questions about my growing faith and also feeling so ill-equipped to defend it. And I am thankful for that because it thrust me into the Bible to study its truths and truly understand what I believed. That is the foundation I have now that enables me to answer my husband’s questions without feeling threatened or the need to prove myself, because I trust God to prove His presence and truth in me. Even if I must risk my husband’s opinion of me, I know I must stand on God’s truth.

Peter’s intent in these Scriptures was to encourage his readers to be of one mind as believers. He encouraged them to place loving each other as brothers and sisters in Christ above the disagreements and insults that seem inevitable as human beings who interpret everything we perceive, read and see in our own unique ways. 

Peter calls us, challenges us, to rise above and agree to disagree when needed so that we can maintain the true focus of doing good out of love for one another. Let me propose that this is our model to follow with all those we encounter, whether they believe as we do or not. We know this better than most, SUMites, and what we have learned in our mismatched places is exactly what the world needs right now.

In line with 1 Peter 3:8-13 we have learned and are learning to: 

  • seek unity in our marriages with our pre-believer.
  • love our pre-believer unconditionally with tenderness and humility in our acceptance of them just as they are, just as Jesus does.
  • hold our words with more care and speak with love and truth.
  • bring peace of Christ to our homes and maintain it through prayer.
  • stand before our God in the righteousness of Christ Jesus as we pray and seek the Lord’s face not only for ourselves but for our pre-believer and our children.
  • be zealous to do good even when we have felt limited.
  • be a blessing to our pre-believer and to bless them even in the face of opposition.

No matter what I am faced with, my friends, I want to be so secure in my knowledge of and faith in God that I can listen to another person share their beliefs and not feel threatened within my own. Because I believe when we are secure in such a place, that we can listen and not try to change their mind, they are more willing to hear what we have to say. 

It is not our job to change their mind or their heart. It is God’s. When we leave that to Him and simply share in an exchange of beliefs with another person, we allow the love of Christ to be present and begin that change of heart and perspective in a lost soul.

I will stop here for now. In the second part of this post I will share what these things we have learned look like when we apply them to the world at large and live our faith from this place of security in who are and Whose we are. My friends, it’s a place I firmly believe will have greatest impact on the world and those God is bringing into our realms to love and share Jesus. And there is an element to doing this that Peter mentions right in his words that I feel is crucial to the mix. Can’t wait to share that with you!

Love you, my friends. So thankful to be living this life with you!
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2 Peter 3: God Waits Too

6a00d83451ee9f69e201b8d11ef502970c-320wiSo happy to be with you today, my friends. I love our community. We are family and live daily the truths of Jesus Christ together. Lynn and I love our S.U.M. family so much. You all amaze and bless us everyday in how you love and pray for each other. And for us! Just wow…my heart is so full of pride in you, if I may say that. And I sense what I’m feeling is coming from our Papa God’s heart. He is proud of us, SUMites. We are known by our love. 

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. — John 13:34-35

As we continue our Summer Bible Study in the books of Peter, I found myself this week at the end of these two books, and felt the Holy Spirit pointing to two verses that are precious for us, SUMites.

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. — 2 Peter 3:9

I think we all struggle with waiting. We wonder. We pray. We wait some more… But this verse shows our Abba Father’s heart. He wants everyone to repent and will go to great lengths to give our pre-believers every chance to change their mind and turn to God. And that is what this word repentance means in the Greek: metanoia—reversal of decision.

This past year the Holy Spirit has led me to pray for divine connections for my hubby. Not with people but in his work and surroundings, whether he’s wrangling code (he’s a computer programmer/analyst) or playing disc golf. That he would begin to see God’s presence and perfection as the real explanation for what he appreciates intellectually. I never would have thought of that, my friends.

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This was my dad's Bible. I'm holding onto it for the day when I can give it to my hubby.

And then the Holy Spirit has led me to pray for holes, literal holes, to be punched in my hubby’s unbelief so that these connections can be revealed. Again, not something I would have thought of. 

What’s my point in telling you this? I will tell you what I told someone else recently as an explanation of my confidence that God will move and do this in my husband. 

Why would God lead me to pray in such specific ways and not doing anything? I know my God and know His heart. And His heart is to be patient and wait. Just as we wait…

And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— — 2 Peter 3:15

Our Lord waits for good reason, doesn’t He? So if His waiting is good, I can’t help but think that ours is good too. In moments of discouragement, this gives me great peace and comfort, my friends. I see no change in my husband (yet) and I’m approaching 20 years of being mismatched.

But in our waiting God accomplishes so much. So much! I look at my marriage and see what it could have easily become and am overwhelmed by what it is—truly blessed by God. And I look at you, this community and the love and encouragement we share and I SEE evidence of the good God is working out for us as we wait.

The Holy Spirit has stirred my heart to speak out loud every morning the truth of Psalm 118:24: 

“This is a day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” 

And every day, I see Him. Our God is so good, my friends. SO good.

Love you so much, my SUM family. You are all so precious.
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20 Years of Parenting In Faith

SUMites,

Train up a ChildIt’s late in the day on Sunday, Mother’s Day. And it’s quiet now as my son and his family have left for home and my hubby of 23 years is having a Sunday afternoon snooze. I’ve waited years and cried many tears hoping for a day such as today. Mother’s Day was simple yet profound. My family attended church with me this morning and then lunch was at our house. Yep, Mike sat beside me in church again.

Yet as I’m alone in my hallway office, typing, my heart is stirring with some emotions and thoughts about you.

I know Mother’s Day can turn out to be a giant disappointment to many in our community. I want you to know right now, I’m praying for your disappointed heart, even broken heart. Often our family members don’t remember to send a card or phone. Often our husband doesn’t remember and we feel forgotten, taken advantage and hurt. We tend to have high expectations of this day that even a super human would be unable to meet. Yet, we want to be validated for the blood, sweat and tears of mothering. So, let me share some words I scribbled down about two weeks ago as I was thinking about mothering from God’s place of vision.

Two weeks ago my daughter, who will turn 20 years old next month was home from college. She was preparing an assignment for one of her classes in which she was to interview her father about his thoughts, his formative years, his beliefs and opinions. I wanted so badly to listen in but I refrained. I did hear one question from the other room however that struck a deep cord in my soul. She asked her dad, “Do you believe in God?”

I couldn’t hear his reply in the distant room. But as I sat there on the couch, 20 years of God’s faithfulness rush past my eyes. Here is my little girl, whom I prayed for like crazy, dragged to church, preached to, loved on, protected and begged Jesus to keep her heart in His hands, here is my little girl, all grown up… Now as a young woman, full of faith, brave enough to have a conversation with her Dad about faith.

It’s 20 years in the making but I’ve been blessed to see the validation of my years of mothering.

So, today, I will be the voice of hope for you today. I will tell you that the years of poop wiping, dragging kids to church, praying with them, crying with your kids, the years of soccer practice, play rehearsal, cramming for a Monday morning test, the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and on and on and on… All those efforts and thankless tasks, well mom. THEY ARE WORTH IT.

To watch this moment where my daughter, a believer in Jesus, interviews her dad about faith, this is what I poured 20 years of my life out to watch happen before my very eyes.

Faithfulness.

My friends, it’s not just God’s faithfulness but my faithfulness as a mother. We, the believing parent, absolutely impact our children’s faith decision. What we speak over them is powerful. What we model is the life they will live. What we pray matters.

So this Mother’s Day I want to share what I did as an ordinary mama beginning years ago. I prayed. I prayed for that child since before she was born. I pray for her now, by name, every day. I pray for her friends, her heart, her studies, her teachers, her mind, her faith, her concerns, triumphs and heartbreaks. I pray for her future spouse and I pray for her in-laws.

My dear SUMites, if we as parents aren’t praying for our children, who is?

We have the most profound opportunity to prepare our children for success in this world but even greater than that, we have the privilege to prepare them to live forever in the Kingdom of God.

Our prayers matter.

Our prayers are powerful.

God’s heart is moved by the prayers of a righteous mama.

Release your unmet expectations today and just know down deep, you are doing the right thing even if not one noticed today. God approves and is so very well pleased in you, Mom.

I love you. Lynn

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com


A Tribute to Mothers and Grandmothers

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Mom and I with Lynn at the conference we did in May 2013 in southern CA. Loved having Mom (Donna) there with us!

In honor of Mother's Day, I would like to tell you the story of my mother, Donna. I love my mom. She's one of my best friends. She's the one who put me on the church bus each Sunday when I was four years old and has always encouraged me to stay true to my beliefs. Even when they may have seemed a bit different at times.

What I love about our relationship is our ability to be open with each other and share. She has allowed me to share my faith with her over years, listening to my stories of this crazy faith journey, and she reads the books I write—even the bad ones!

Years back she read the very first faith based novel I wrote—one that will never see the light of day, thank goodness. Yet I'll never forget what she told me about how it changed her perspective of God's love.

Here’s the story of a pivotal day in her faith journey. Do you remember when the Passion of the Christ first came out? One Sunday I went to see it with two friends, and when I returned home, my husband told me I needed to call my mom, and he seemed concerned.

I called and found out she'd seen it that day too! Amazing to think that even though we lived in different states, she and I sat in theaters at the same time, watching this life-changing movie.

I'll never forget that phone conversation. The movie profoundly affected her. At the end she couldn't stop crying and couldn't leave the theater. As she says, “She couldn’t leave Jesus.” 

People touched her shoulder as they left the theater. She managed to finally leave and sat on a bench outside. A woman she didn't even know walked up to her, gave her a beautiful smile, and then left. I've no doubt that was an angel rejoicing in my mother's encounter with Jesus that day.

I still remember the question I asked her over the phone. "Mom, what do you think of Jesus now?"

She said with great emotion, "I looooove Jesus." 

I still get emotional when I tell that story. All I did was pray, live and share my faith. God took care of the rest. He took care of her…

When I moved to Florida, I started attending her church and now it's my church home too. I love going to church on Sundays for the worship and the message, and especially because I'm there with my mother. Something I prayed and hoped for for a long time.

For her birthday last month I sent her a daily Bible, leather bound and geared for women. She has a Bible app on her iPad, but I wanted to mark this time in her faith journey with a special gift. 

My friends, my mother is one of my greatest inspirations in this life. She has overcome so much in her life to guarantee her daughter was able to walk a much better path than she did. I would not be the woman I am today without her constant unconditional and sacrificial love in my life. And to know I have been able to share my faith with her and be any part of her journey to know Jesus is stunning and beautiful.

She is learning more and more about Jesus' love and healing, which she has experienced first hand. God miraculously healed a bone spur on her knee that kept her from walking more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time without great pain. We’d prayed for her healing for several months. 

In March, she was like a little kid again, walking the beach with us for an hour and half, pain free. Her joy fills me with joy too! And now, she is one of the people speaking into my daughter Leslie's life about healing. She is impacting her granddaughter's faith now.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you. I am so thankful for you!

My friends, I am stunned at how Jesus moves to bring things full circle, for good and for His glory. So today, let's praise Him, let's share stories of mothers, motherhood, and how Jesus is working in the midst of it all, no matter how messy or tidy it may be. For more encouragement, read this letter, Beloved Mother, from our Not Alone book and be blessed!

And to all those moms and grandmothers reading this, Happy Mother's Day! You are pouring greatness into your children and grandchildren. Don't stop. Keep believing. Trust God. He is faithful. And the prayers of a righteous mama (and grandmama!) are powerful and affective (James 5:16). Amen!

Love and hugs!
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The All Encompassing Promise of the Shepherd

18567885_sDear friends, we are in the tomb waiting for the promise to be revealed. Yet we know the promise already. We know Jesus and He knows us. I told you on Wednesday that I had another nugget to share with you and this one is so tender and intimate as it shows our Savior’s heart for us long before He even came. 

Let’s take a trip back in time to the book of Isaiah. The book of Isaiah is full of prophetic words and pictures of the Messiah, but this one touched my heart deeply. Our English words don’t fully bring the meaning behind it. Take a look specifically at the words I’ve italicized. 

He will tend His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs in His arms;
He will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young. — Isaiah 40:11 (ESV)

Again, I went to the original Greek translation out of curiosity and the gently nudging of the Holy Spirit and this is what I found.

Tend in the Greek translation is râ’râ and it has a list of meanings that fills a page. Among the obvious meanings in this imagery, it also means to keep company with, make friendship with, be a companion, or special friend

I love this so much because Jesus really and truly is our best Friend. He’s your BFF for life and nothing you do will change that.

Carry in the Greek is nâśâ’ and also has a list of meanings, even longer than tend. This list is the one that blew me away because you can find almost every reason why Jesus came and died for us. Take a look:

to lift, in a great variety of applications, literal and figurative: accept, advance, arise, (able to, (armor), suffer to) bear (- er, up), bring (forth), burn, carry (away), cast, contain, desire, ease, exact, exalt (self), extol, fetch, forgive, furnish, further, give, go on, help, high, hold up, honorable (+man), lade, lay, lift (self) up, lofty, marry, magnify, needs, obtain, pardon, raise (up), receive, regard, respect, set (up), spare, stir up, swear, take (away, up), utterly, wear, yield. 

And…

to lift, bear up, carry, take: to lift, lift up to bear, carry, support, sustain, endure.

Through this one image, Isaiah captures the heart, purpose and loving intentions of the Messiah to come roughly 700 years before Jesus was born. It captures every aspect of His heart and love for us, all His intentions. His love is so vast and all encompassing! Did you see the word “marry” is in there too? Wow…

He came to be everything to us, my friends. Even for our pre-believers who aren’t seeking Him yet (hope you caught the nugget from Wednesday about that).

Happy Easter, SUMites! He is risen. He is risen indeed. He has emerged from the tomb to be our Friend, our Light, our Savior. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The abundant life that is so much more than we could ever hope or imagine.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being our precious Shepherd. Thank You, that Your love far exceeds anything we can hope for or imagine. Thank You, Abba Father, for sending Your Son to save us. Thank You, King Jesus, for leaving your throne and becoming One like us and sacrificing Your life to save us. We declare by the power of Your blood that we are Yours and we love You! And thank You, Holy Spirit, for being our constant Companion and Comforter. Fill and empower us for the kingdom of God. We, the SUMite Nation, are the sons and daughters of God! We have overcome by the power and the blood of the Lamb! We stand united in and by His love, a force to be reckoned with. In the name of Jesus, amen!

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The Throne of Grace, Part Two

My friends, at the end of my post on Wednesday I said I had another stunning piece of this treasure hunt we are on. Below is a page from my Sanctuary Bible (yes, the very one Abba led me to) and it holds an excerpt from a book titled, Never Alone by David and Teresa Ferguson. Read it and then meet me below this new way to look at our marriages and pray into them.

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First, I want to speak to those of you who are separated and whose spouse has walked away from God. As I've shared in the past, my heart is heavy for you and remains so. My heart and prayers are with you. And today, I want to speak a message to you that I feel Jesus wants you to know more than anything.

Jesus understands your betrayal and rejection better than anyone. Read the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and you will see that Jesus was betrayed and abandoned by those closest to Him. And even in the moment that He bore our sins to death, He felt abandoned by Abba Father. So, my friend, when I say He knows your pain, understand that He KNOWS it intimately as He has lived it. His compassion for you is great. Receive His comfort and peace today, in the mighty and overcoming name of Jesus.

As I read the devotion above for the first time, my spirit stirred dramatically at the thought of loving my spouse as an act of love and worship of Jesus. It makes sense. We've talked about how loving our spouses unconditionally honors God.

But the Fergusons' words took it deeper for me. And it is part of that grace flowing through us to our pre-believers that we've been talking about. I am seeking Jesus for more wisdom and understanding of how I can minister and love my husband and, in turn, minister to our sweet Jesus. Wow, just stunning to think about...

Will you pray this with me?

King Jesus, You are so worthy to receive glory, power, and blessings. Lord, we bless You! As part of Your creation, we declare that we want to bring You the pleasure You deserve. We want to minister to You with loving comfort, attention, acceptance, appreciation, support, encouragement, affection, respect, security, and approval through loving our spouse in this manner. Lord, we are in awe that You are such an intimate part of our mismatched marriage! And we worship You today as the only One worthy to receive glory, honor and praise. In the mighty and compassionate name of Jesus, amen!

Have a wondrous weekend, my friends!
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The Greatest Romance of All Time

22641640_sOn Sunday I sat in church and watched a short video clip done by an energetic young man. I can’t remember much of what he said because partway through he said something that planted a thought in my mind that bloomed into something I’m finding quite amazing. Then today (yesterday as you read this), the Holy Spirit brought me to a Scripture that opened the fuller meaning and picture of this thought. 

I am a bit undone by it. Let’s see what you think, my friends.

As women, we long to be wooed. I remember as a young girl playing with Barbies, I would stage Barbie’s wedding to Ken. It was quite something actually, at least in my mind. As a teenager, romance books replaced Barbie and Ken to feed my imagination of what romance meant. And no, not in a good way.

So, as a young adult, my hubby’s formal proposal (or lack there of) kind of left a gap in my longing for a great romance, to be swept off my feet and carried away. After all, Ken always swept Barbie off her feet. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about is a different kind of marriage proposal. The greatest marriage proposal of all. 

The cross.

This the thought that came on Sunday and has mulled and simmered in my heart and mind since. The cross of Jesus Christ is a marriage proposal. And when you think of the Biblical references to us being the bride of Christ, it fits.

Christ came down (went on bended knee?) and humbled Himself, sacrificed His dignity to woo us. To call to us out of His great love. To ask, “Will you bind your life with Mine forever?”

At our yes, He presents us with a gift to hold and seal the promise of the promise to be fulfilled. The ring—the Holy Spirit.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. — 2 Cor. 1:21-22 (ESV)

We could call our time here on earth our engagement period. We are promised to the One and we seek to know and love Him better as the romance continues in preparation for our coming life together (eternity). Or we could call our baptism (by water and/or the Holy Spirit) the wedding (a public ceremony) and our continued faith walk our “marriage” to the Lover of our soul.

It is a beautiful analogy, my friends. One I am still pondering as it explains to me the longings of a woman’s heart (and I am only speaking to women here as I am woman. I dearly hope we will have at least one male commenter to share his perspective of this great wooing). We long to be wooed, romanced, desired and yes, claimed in the sense of knowing to Whom we belong. And in the pure hands of Jesus, it is a beautiful and right thing. In the hands of the world and the enemy of our soul, it becomes twisted and selfish.

I had no intention of bringing up the movie 50 Shades of Grey, but as this imagery of the cross as a marriage proposal bloomed in my mind, I realized we are not much different really from the women (unbelievers and believers alike) who are flocking to this movie, for I also believe they are indeed seeking to fill this yearning. We are all God’s creatures, designed to have this longing for the eternal bond (marriage) with our Savior Jesus Christ.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. — Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

As the bride of Christ we have found the truest longing of our hearts—a place that can never be filled by a person or romance books or a movie. For these things translated into some sort of reality for an individual will lose their glimmer and promise in the enduring light of day. The truth is always exposed. The initial satisfaction of these false imitators of the love and passion of Christ will fade because our souls are wired with that eternity Abba Father has placed in us. It recognizes the imposter and rejects him. 

And we are left broken and longing yet again. The great awakening we truly long for is in Him, who longs for us out of the purest motivations for our good—our salvation and identity in Him. This is the place of satisfaction and excitement and wonder. A place where we are loved and cherished and valued, called worthy and beautiful and identified.

The romance never dies with Jesus. He is constant in His loving pursuit of us. He does not stop once He has captured our hearts. He continues to delight and love us more and more, as much a we will allow and follow Him. And there is always more. 

That is the seal and the promise we are given. It is stunning to think that God gave us a part of His very Self to give us a guarantee of His promise. I stand in wonder at this new realization of the depth of such sacrificial love.

For me. For you. For every woman out there. And for every man. We are the center of this great wooing by the heart of Jesus, that draws us to Him without overriding our will or demanding control. It is the purest form of love that seeks nothing but to give, to save, to free.

And in the freedom we are free to love and give ourselves to our Bridegroom who has waited for us since the very beginning of time itself. I can’t think of anything in this world that can match this level of romance, my friends. 

I will close with one final thought that continues to simmer and form in my spirit: This wooing is happening to our pre-believers, whether we see it or not. 

SUMite Ann H. left a comment on Lynn’s post about waking from a dream with the words “pray for the resting of grace” and the image of my face. And yesterday I read this sentence in the book, The Elijah Task by John and Paula Sandford:

Only the Holy Spirit gives the grace of belief—otherwise nothing, neither persuasion nor miracles, will bring about true belief.

So as Jesus woos my hubby, I will be praying for the “resting of grace” upon him so that the Holy Spirit will release this grace of belief into him.  

I believe, my friends. I truly believe this will happen. Jesus said that if we have faith and don’t doubt, we can move mountains. 

I am praying and shouting “GRACE” at his mountain of unbelief, and I am ready to see it move. I am asking Jesus to show me how I can be part of this great romance for my husband’s soul.

How about you, SUMites? I’m looking forward to reading your comments and hearing your thoughts. 

Love you dearly!
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Guest Post by Trish Fuhlendorf: Happy vs. Holy

IStock_000016466788XSmallAfter I became a Christian, it seemed like my marriage got a little worse every day. Stu couldn’t stand the fact that I was a Christian. He hated seeing me read the Bible and if he saw me reading a paperback, he would always ask what I was reading; knowing that it would be another Christian book. Then the criticism would begin, “Is that the only thing you can read?”

In addition to the light vs. dark dynamic that was getting worse all the time, his drinking and subsequent anger were on the rise. I got to a point where I couldn’t find any commonality between us and I dreaded him walking through the door each evening.

I remember seeking counsel from a woman at my church. She suggested that I make a list of Stu’s positive attributes. This would accomplish two things, it would help me focus on the good qualities of my husband and also give me ideas of things on which I could compliment him. However, asking me to swim the English Channel would have seemed an easier task. I stared at a blank piece of paper for what seemed an eternity. Finally, I came up with 2 or 3 attributes. It was a painful and ultimately pathetic assignment.

Where was the relief? I searched the Bible for an “out clause” of my marriage, but found nothing that applied to my situation. I cried out, “I am so unhappy. Isn’t there something in the Bible that tells me that God is concerned about my happiness?” I found verses talking about the “joy of the Lord,” but nothing about me being happy. But how can God expect me to go through life unhappy?

Then He impressed upon me my role as a godly woman. I am called to live in relationship with God and that should affect all of my earthly relationships. My children will most likely be married someday. Do I want them to start their relationships with the legacy of divorce nipping at their heels? Would I ever advise them that if they’re unhappy in their marriage, they should just bail? What kind of godly example would I be if I ran to divorce just like so many in the world?

I didn’t fully comprehend what God was trying to tell me. Is God more concerned with my holiness than my happiness? Yes.

It was time for me to accept the husband that the Lord gave me, but it was also time for a change in me. This would only happen through Him.

Now, I wish there was a guarantee, that our obedience to Christ would one day be rewarded with happiness here on earth, but there is not. So, in choosing to actively love our spouses every day, even though you might think they don’t “deserve” it; remember that we do not deserve God’s grace and forgiveness, yet He gives it to us freely.

I started thinking about how much God loves my husband. I eventually thought to ask God to allow me to see my husband through His eyes. Almost instantly, I developed a profound compassion for him.

I also learned the difference between love, the feeling of affection, and love, the verb. And that love, the verb, is crucial to a successful marriage. I started enacting small, loving gestures each day toward my husband; resting my hand on his leg as he spoke to me, a kind text message in the middle of the day, a little unexpected gift, etc. These gestures were not easy at first. I had to force myself to do them, but over time they became easier and those feelings of affection returned to me.

Ultimately, God’s request for me to love my husband was not only possible, but with His help, my marriage improved tenfold. Happiness is not a goal that can be pursued or a state of being that can be lost. It is simply an emotion that we experience on and off throughout our entire lives as a reaction to our circumstances. Nine times out of ten, we have no control over the circumstances that dictate when our feelings of happiness come and go. So, the notion that a person will be happier if they trade in their current spouse for a different one is a bit ridiculous when you consider the lack of a logical foundation.

But, one thing God does tell us to pursue is joy. Joy and happiness are not the same thing. Happiness is a fickle and fleeting emotion, while joy is contentment in the presence of God. I contend that if we grow in Christ and engage his expectation for our holiness, that joy will be present regardless of whether or not happiness chooses to show up.

 

Trish headshotTrish Fuhlendorf is first and foremost a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. She is a wife, married 27 years. God saved her in her mid thirties, then her husband about 10 years later. She is a tireless advocate for the covenant of marriage and has a love and compassion for those in the bondage of addiction. She is a Regional Manager for K-LOVE and Air1, a mother of 2 adult children, loves her home state of Colorado, her 2 big dogs, cooking and exercise (to off-set the cooking).


Empowered Living: Romans 8:31-39

Psalm119-1622My friends, we’re at the end or our Romans study. I’m amazed at how much the Holy Spirit has been showing and teaching us. I never imagined this series would wind up being nine parts. I absolutely love studying and teaching God’s Word. Thank you so much for taking this journey with me. I’ve loved reading your comments and hearing your hearts so much. God is movin’ and “groovin’” in the SUMite community!

On Wednesday I shared my favorite verse (Romans 8:28) with you and how the enemy tried to make me doubt what I knew to be true—that God is GOOD, always. This last part of Romans 8 holds a truth that meant more to me last year than I ever imagined. Let’s take a look at Romans 8:31-39:  

ESV: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

VOICE: 31 So what should we say about all of this? If God is on our side, then tell me: whom should we fear? 32 If He did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over on our account, then don’t you think that He will graciously give us all things with Him? 33 Can anyone be so bold as to level a charge against God’s chosen? Especially since God’s “not guilty” verdict is already declared. 34 Who has the authority to condemn? Jesus the Anointed who died, but more importantly, conquered death when He was raised to sit at the right hand of God where He pleads on our behalf. 35 So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God’s Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely nothing. 36 As the psalm says,

On Your behalf, our lives are endangered constantly; we are like sheep awaiting slaughter.

37 But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. 38 For I have every confidence that nothing—not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, 39 height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.

Right off the bat, Paul takes the truth, turns it around and asks us a question: If God is for us, then what can measure up to that or threaten that? I mean really, think about it. If you have the Creator of the Universe on your side, what can possibly come against you? David said the same thing in Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? — Psalm 27:1 ESV

And that is one truth I spoke over myself over and over again last year when fear tried to grow and take over. Speak it out loud, my friends. The Lord is my light and salvation, I have nothing to fear! 

In verse 32, Paul again takes the truth and turns it into a question: If the God of the Universe is willing to give up His Son for you, then how could He withhold any of His goodness and love from you?

Let’s revisit another verse that says the same thing:

For the Lord God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. — Psalm 84:11

In verse 33 Paul goes back to where he started, that there is no condemnation in Christ. He repeats this point in light of all the exhortation that he has given thus far, especially after the questions he asked in verses 31 and 32. In essence he is asking, “In light of these truths, how can anything come against us?”

But even then, Paul isn’t finished making his point, because he’s building to one of the most profound truths in the Bible. He asks who has the authority to condemn and then answers the question with Jesus. Jesus has the authority to condemn but He chose another way—the way of sacrificial love. For He knew to condemn would drive us away and His heart was to be the solution to draw us near—into relationship and not religion and fear. He did what had to be done to defeat all that had formerly come against us, separating us from Him. The separation would now be forever removed.

Most likely Paul understood better than most what it felt like to wonder if God could truly forgive all he had done. As Saul, he had persecuted the church, watched Stephen stoned to death as he held the coats of those throwing the rocks. He cheered it, welcomed it, believed it was his mission to stop this new group identifying themselves as “The Way.”

Recently I asked Abba again if He was sure He had the right girl for a calling He has made clear for my life. I seem an unlikely choice in light of all I know this will mean and entail. He told me that was precisely why He has called me to it, because I am the least likely.

As was Paul, yet his voice and testimony had more power and truth precisely because of his past origins. Paul could understand, speak and encourage because he knew what Jesus had done for him. And if Jesus could use a man like Saul for his Kingdom, then Paul knew Jesus could forgive and bless anyone willing to answer that call.

Profound. The truth. Jesus.

Thus begins Paul’s point to one of the greatest truths in the Bible. Nothing can separate us from God’s love for us. Nothing can separate us from a love so great, so sacrificial that He was willing to die for us. Nothing can separate us from a love that is so beyond our ability to understand it that we must pray for understanding of it.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith —that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:14-19

Paul finally brings his conclusion to this: Our place of victory is already assured because of God’s great love and even makes a list of everything that we might think could come between us and God and says, “No, not even that.”

My friends, one dark morning last year as I sat with my Bible, reading Romans 8 again, as the Holy Spirit told me to, I reached the end of this chapter and the still small voice of God whispered in my ear.

“Not even you.”

Nothing I had done, thought, or felt could separate me from God’s love. The truth finally broke in and burned away the shame and guilt I had accepted from the enemy and had been carrying far too long. I finally understood the magnitude of this truth.

Nothing I did or could do (or not do) could stop God from loving me. And when this truth settles deep into our heart, it doesn’t give us free license to do whatever we want. No, it brings us to our knees in gratitude and with a longing to love God more.

For how could we ever match such love—a love that is powerful enough to cast out fear? We cannot, and grace says we don’t have to. We don’t have to measure up. We only need say yes, and let the fruit of the Spirit grow in us so that we can love Abba Father, King Jesus, and Holy Spirit more and more each day.

This is the way, the truth, and the life, my friends. To walk in the truths of God’s Word and understand that every single promise and truth in its pages is our inheritance in Jesus. He is ours and we are His.

Thank you again for walking through Romans 8 with me. On Friday, our dear friend Trish Fuhlendorf has a wonderful message for us, “Happy vs. Holy.” You don’t want to miss this one.

Love you, SUMites!
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Links to previous parts to this series:

 

A Introduction to Empowered Living
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part one)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:1-4 (part two)
Empowered Living: Romans 8:5-8
Empowered Living: Romans 8:9-11
Empowered Living: Romans 8:12-17
Empowered Living: Romans 8:18-25
Empowered Living: Romans 26-30

 


Fasting For The Miracles

Hi Everyone, 

I want to share a special story today. Remember that on Monday I shared God is speaking the word expectant over me. And my spirit has been filled with an extra measure of hope. Great hope. Fantastic, miraculous hope. 

This Christmas season the Lord has revealed some unexpected nearly impossible realities. My son and his wife and their hope for reconciliation and then on New Year’s Eve, another miracle. Let me explain. 

A couple of days ago my daughter who is 19 years old, she and I were talking about the unusually cold weather we are having here in Southern California. She said to me, “Mom, I’ve seen snow and played in snow but I’ve never been in a snow storm. I’ve never experienced snowflakes falling around me.” 

I didn’t realize that for all of her life she hasn’t experienced the wonder, beauty and fun of falling snow. My heart clinched in a bit of mommy guilt. Anyhoo, we then went on to talk about other stuff. Yet in that moment a hope, an expectant hope was spoken into the spiritual realm and the voice of a young daughter of the King of Kings was heard in heaven. 

The next morning, I woke and whispered to the Lord as I pulled the covers back, “Lord, it would be really neat if it was snowing this morning.” I passed the bathroom window and looked to my right and low and behold, gentle, large, pristine white flakes were floating down and settling on the fence. Looking at the fence, there rested more than four inches of fresh powder. 

I almost freaked out right there in my PJ’s. I grabbed my robe, slippers and ran to Caitie’s room. “Get up. The Lord answered your heart’s desire. IT’S SNOWING RIGHT NOW.” 

She sprang from bed. Flung on a coat and boots and we charged into the front yard where neighbors were also standing in wonder taking in the beauty. 

A New Year’s Eve delight just for my girl. 

Snow in our area like this does not happen. The last time this much snow amassed was 1964. 

BUT… Today the Lord heard the heart of His girl and sent the impossible. Now many of you may think that God doesn’t work this way. He doesn’t send a giant snow storm for one 19 year-old-girl. But, I BELIEVE. And I know our Papa and He is extreme, extravagant, specific and in every detail. He delights to delight our hearts. 

I’m expectant my friends. 

I’m convinced the fast next week will bring even more breakthroughs, reconciliations, financial independence, intimacy with God, walking in miracles. I’M EXPECTANT. Are you? 

Let’s fast and believe God will send you your heart’s desire. Here is how the fast will work. Beginning Monday at daybreak we will fast through the entire day from all food (medically able). Liquids only. After sundown, you can break your fast with a Daniel meal with your family. Or you can continue to fast all food through the entire five days through sundown on Friday, January 9, 2015. 

Another option is to fast all week and then move into a Daniel Fast for the next 40 days. That is what I will be doing and I will explain more about that in a later post. 

I’m convinced that a food fast is what brings us to a complete place of dependence and humility. Jesus fasted from meals, often praying all night long. Jesus modeled for us food fasting. He understood the power it brings in the spiritual realm. Remember the story of Jesus’ disciples trying, unsuccessfully, to cast out a demon from a boy. Read Mark 9: 26-29 

Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. 

Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” 

And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. 

Pray now and ask the Lord for grace to participate in a five-day, daytime fast. And even more grace for some of you to fast the entire five days, completely abstaining from solid food. Then we will move into a 40 day Daniel fast. This fast was given to me in September by the Lord who woke me in the middle of the night and told me to do this. Again, more about this later.

 

If you want to read more about fasting, here are some great links: 

 Fasting Does It Work. There are links at the bottom of this post.

 

SUM Family, let’s be expectant, outrageously, wild, courageous in what we are asking of the Lord. Let’s ask the impossible. Let our hearts be filled with expectant love. Love for our King and for people. Then let’s share as the miracles unfold. 

And now, I want to share a few of the photos from our miracle on Wednesday. I love you my friend. I truly, with all of my heart, love you, Lynn

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 And one more miraculous thing, the large snow fall primarily fell in only in the mountains and for some crazy reason, mainly in this valley where we live. Ahhhhhh, the miraculous love of our Father. Thank you Lord!

 


Our Transforming Influence

Proverbs 124My friends, I’ve been reading and studying Proverbs the last couple weeks, specifically using the Passion translation. I’m enjoying this new translation very much and find the flow to be more poetic and inspiring. And going between translations to compare has given me more insights and appreciation of Solomon’s words of wisdom.

What I’m specifically searching and praying for is wisdom. Next to praying for Jesus’ protection that I not be deceived in any way (2 Thess. 2:3), I pray for wisdom in all areas of my life. And as you read Proverbs, you begin to discover that wisdom is inseparable from God’s love and His Son, Jesus.

Last week a verse in this translation brought me back to a conversation I had recently with my pastor about my pre-believer. It’s about a precious place we as the believing spouse hold in our loved one’s lives—a place of honor and influence that we must take before God daily to seek wisdom and unconditional love.

I’ve included three translations of Proverbs 12:4:

The integrity and strength of a virtuous wife
Transforms her husband into an honored king.
But the wife who disgraces her husband
Weakens the strength of his identity. — Passion translation

A worthy wife is a crown for her husband, but a disgraceful woman is like cancer in his bones. — NLT

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones. — NIV

What I love about the Passion translation is the passion and weight behind its meaning. I find it difficult to put into words (just as I did that day as I talked with my pastor) what it means to stand in this place of influence. So, I will do my best to describe what it means to me.

I see in my husband such amazing potential—that potential for eternity that God places in ALL of us (Eccl. 3:11). And I feel honored that God has called me to this place by his side to help release it. As I grow in faith and am transformed (and this is at times very messy!), my husband is affected. Even in some of the struggles I’ve walked in this year, I have seen attributes of love and faithfulness revealed in my husband that I didn’t know were there. Even though I couldn’t see it, God has been working in Mike in unexpected ways.

My friends, I know this isn’t easy, and at times we will mess up miserably. At times we just won’t feel like “doing it” anymore. But as God’s Word says, we must persevere for the prize that waits ahead. At the very least, I want to know God’s favor and pleasure in me for my faithfulness to my husband, but my expectation is based in the faith and hope I have in Jesus who can do more than I can even imagine and that expectation is that one day, my husband will choose Jesus.

Until then, I choose to walk in this place of influence to come along side and help my husband see the potential I see God has placed in him. I seek ways to affirm him in who he is (identity) and how he works and cares for his family. I am intentional to express my appreciation of him, which just recently and unexpectedly came full circle back to me in a precious card telling me he appreciated me. I look for opportunities to hear his heart and tune in to what he may not be saying. I keep asking Abba to bring him to Jesus (John 6). And everyday I thank Jesus for all the ways He presents Himself to my husband in answer to those prayers (mine and others) and affirm my belief that one day his answer will be “yes.” I love walking in this place in partnership with God and under His leadership to be that influence in my hubby’s life and heart. And I’ve watched my husband aspire step by step to be a leader of honor (the honored king) to his family, even as I wait for his full salvation transformation (i.e. preparation…just love how God works).

Let me also be clear that I am in no way perfect. In fact, I am very flawed and have learned to heed the Holy Spirit’s nudge to seek forgiveness from both God and my husband when I mess up. Amazingly, God uses it all to bring transformation not only in me but in my husband as well. That is our assurance of God’s goodness and presence always at work for our good.

Dear friends, I believe God gives us the choice to walk in this very unique place of opportunity (again, as we’ve said in the past, we do not believe God asks or expects us to stay in abusive situations) as believers empowered by the Son of God, as a calling that is part of the Great Commission right in our own homes. We can walk in it with integrity and honor that will boost our pre-believer closer to the potential God has placed in him or her. Or we can struggle in bitterness and resentment that will bring not only ourselves into despair but will waste away or hinder that potential identity in Christ just waiting to be released in our pre-believer.

We carry the very presence of God and His Kingdom through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. All the time, we bring this power and influence to our pre-believer’s life. We may not see any change or effect, but by faith (what we believe to be true and not what is seen—Hebrews 11:1) I believe something happens. And not by our efforts but by God’s love working in and through us.

So be encouraged as you continue to walk and persevere in this very special place you hold in your pre-believer’s life and Abba’s heart. You are impacting the Kingdom of God and your pre-believer every single day.

Love you dearly!
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When Is It My Turn?

SUMites, 

Let’s have a chat. 

Matthew 13 44I’m pretty sure that last week’s posts about Janet and Trish’s spouses coming to faith brought about a range of feelings in our SUM Nation. 

But today I want to speak to those of us who may feel forgotten. For those of you who read these stories and whispered, “God, when? When is it my turn? When will this happen in my life.” 

So many emotions, feelings and thoughts were made know to me in this past week. True happiness for these women. Feelings of jealously, then followed by guilt because their story seems so far from a reality in our life. Perhaps you are confused and maybe a few of us are really just MAD. Mad at God. Mad at our spouse. Mad at ourselves for being in this predicament. Anybody????? 

Can I ask you to hear me out for a minute? 

Firstly, gang, I’m right there with you. I have prayed for my husband for so long and with such passion that I’m puzzled. I ask the same question, “When God?” 

So I guess this message today is for all of you who are behind me on this rocky road of the unequally yoked path. I want to point out some things I bet that you haven’t realized while traveling this journey. There are often times that we are so intently focused on two things that we miss so much the Lord is bringing to us in our daily lives. They are: Our spouse’s salvation, our pain. 

For years I prayed with selfishness for my husband’s salvation. Those prayers were completely selfish and unproductive. My motives for his salvation, at the core, were to make my life easier. And my other prayers were the lamenting of the pain of disappointment in my marriage. Now, hear me, I’m not minimizing either. 

However, I have arrived at a place in my faith and marriage that I can share a smidgen of wisdom with you in the hopes you acquire the blessings intended for us in these unique marriages much sooner than I found them. Okay? 

Let’s be real. The unequally yoked life is hard. Compounding different world views with a spouse who struggles with an addiction or destructive behaviors is almost unbearable at times. But it’s in this real pain that we are forced to surrender our self and to lean fully into the arms of our healer, Jesus. 

I know without a doubt that I would not have the faith life I have today without the years of struggle. And you know what? God knew that too. An easily life for me would have robbed me so many miraculous encounters with the King. Because I chose to believe the Word and surrender many of my preconceived ideas over to God, I now live in great favor, tremendous joy and profound supernatural peace. I literally hear the voice of God now and I am on fire with the Holy Spirit. Knowing what I know today, I would go through it all again to receive the rare and priceless gifts I am now walking in. Today I truly understand what it is like to hold a pearl of great price in the palm of your hands. 

My friends, reflect of the lives of Janet and Trish. Janet fasted. Have you sincerely fasted for a number of days? Have you prayed night and day asking for God’s wisdom and for the salvation of your spouse? Have you surrendered your heart to God and given Him everything. That is no small task and it takes years. 

Be patient with yourself. The greatest thing you can do is to choose to see all that is right before your eyes while you think you are waiting for life to begin when your spouse comes to faith. 

God is speaking to you. Have you learned to hear Him?
Jesus is your betrothed. Have you acknowledged that He wants your heart every day?
The Holy Spirit has so much power to bring to bear in your life. Have you grieved Him? 

So this week let’s say to God, “Papa, I know I have wondered when it would be my turn. And Lord, I greatly desire to see my spouse come to faith. But teach me now, today, to be so in tune with your spirit that I don’t miss anything more that you have for me. Be gentle with me while I learn to let go of fear, pride, selfish ambition, arrogance and judgment. And fill me today with your good gifts. Let me life represent you well, Lord. In Jesus name. Amen.”

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com

Stay tuned as I want to finish up the series about healing on Friday. Why are some healed and others are not? 


The Legacy of Divine Appointments

My friends, this is an astounding testimony to how far a divine appointment can reach. Our dear friend, Rosheeda, is still impacting lives through her legacy of intentional love and service to God. It is because of Rosheeda's love for us that we carry the name of "SUMites." Sometimes, perhaps more often than we realize, we discount how the smallest of opportunities to love on someone can ripple out beyond our own lives. Thank you, Kindra, for sharing this with our community! As you were blessed by this, we are too. Thank you! ~ Dineen & Lynn

Hello Ladies!

I just returned from the Designed For Life Women's Conference in Springfield, MO. There were over 7,000 women gathered to worship and praise God! The Holy Spirit was working full force and many lives were transformed. PTL! I am writing to you because I have a story from the conference that I know you will want to hear. Priscilla Shirer spoke at the conference. Priscilla is a dynamic speaker who is eager to share God's Word with her audience.

She shared a story with us about a young woman that she met at her church. The woman felt she had been called by God to quit her job in the "corporate world". Without knowing God's plan for her, the woman stepped out in obedience and did just that. While waiting for God's leading, the woman began babysitting for families at her church in order to make some money. After a year of waiting and still not knowing what God wanted her to do with her life, the woman began to get very frustrated. She shared with Priscilla that she did not understand why God would call for her to quit her job and seemingly not have a "grander" plan for her. She was still babysitting, but was desiring more from God. Then one particular evening, she went to a families home to babysit the children for the evening while the parents went out for a much needed night away. As the worn out, frazzled, hard-working mother answered the door that night and expressed her appreciation for being able to get away for the evening, the woman knew that she had been blind to God's plan for her. She realized that His plan for this season in her life was for her to be a blessing to children and their families. Her eyes were opened to God's purpose. The Holy Spirit's leading told her that she in fact had been "chosen" not "cheated" in her assignment!

Through this story Priscilla shared, we were blessed with the understanding that God has divine appointment's for all of us. In God's kingdom, no job is more important than another. God leads us where he needs us and we must be open to wherever that may be!

Now the part that gave me goosebumps....As Priscilla wrapped up her story about this faithful woman she told us that sadly she died in a car wreck last year. She also shared that her name was Rosheeda. I knew immediately that this was the sweet Rosheeda from the SUMite community. Rosheeda was a blessing to me when she was a guest writer on your site. Today, she once again blessed me and thousands of other women through the story shared by Priscilla!

Rosheeda's legacy lives on. Isn't God amazing!?

Blessings! ~Kindra


God Spoke. The Angels Sing Over The SUMites!

Isaiah 66 2 Day of AtonementWow Oh Wow… The heavens opened this morning. 

On my walk n pray this morning God just started talking. And talking. And talking…. I was so overwhelmed by all He was sharing that I had to call Dineen while I was on the trail. 

What was He saying? I’m so glad you asked because it was all about you, Sumites. 

I’m going to write out what I heard. 

First I kept hearing over and over, humble and contrite. Humble and contrite. Humble and contrite

Then He explained. 

Lynn, I know you have talked to me a lot about these letters and lists. You have brought the people who wrote them before me. But I want to tell you how I feel about these men and women. 

My heart is moved with joy and great pleasure for these, my children. 

“Why Lord?” 

Because they have given me a sacrifice of great significance. 

“How did we do this, Lord?” 

In your culture today the devil has created a frenzied pace in life. The demands on people’s time and energy are beyond what I ever intended. Culture dictates, a do, do, do mentality and shouts that you are not valuable if not busy and productive every minute of your life. I hate it. 

It is a lie, Lynn. 

But these. These precious children of mine, they have taken time to sit down with me. They talked with me and then handcrafted a letter, a list of their dreams. They made an effort. An effort to stop and think about Me and what we, together might do in this world. Do you know how that thrills my heart? 

As they sat writing out their dreams in their precious and unique handwriting style, they were with me. I was with them. I watched their faces as they wrote the words and formed the sentences. I felt the stirring in their hearts as they dared to bring me into their lives to help them accomplish and see their dreams come to life. 

Lynn, I see this very act of writing these dream lists as I saw the very first sacrifice that was given to me. You know who gave me that precious sacrifice? It was Able. His gift was a gift of love, his first fruits, a willing gift of love. 

These dream lists are so much more to me than words penned on paper; they are a gift of great love. They are a gift from children who love me. They are a message that I have priority. That I am their Lord. That I am loved by them. They are birthed of a humble and contrite heart of which I find great, great pleasure. 

Lynn, today the angels sing! They sing because I have watched this SUMite Nation and I approve. I thrill over all of you. I adore you. I am Your God and Your King. I am your Father who loves you. And Lynn, you know when a Daddy loves His children, do you know what He does? 

“Tell me Papa.” 

He moves heaven and earth to give them the Kingdom.

  

Good grief SUMites. I have a lump in my throat. 

SUMites, God went on to tell me some other amazing things. He told me that He has something for Dineen at the conference. —Can’t wait to see what that is. 

Then God showed me something. I saw a picture of a Bible open and there was a person reading it. I could only see the hands as the right hand reached up to turn the page. Now this next part astonished me. When the page was turned I saw gold shimmering dust, glory dust, float from the page and onto the person who was reading. 

Again God said to me, “See Lynn, when you spend time with me reading from the Bible, My glory comes upon you.” 

Say what? I was immediately impressed how God takes great pleasure when we simply sit down with a “paper” Bible. Literally gold dust fell on the hands and arms of the reader. 

HOW COOL IS THAT? 

Approaching The Most Holy Day in God’s calendar tomorrow, I hear a calling to understand what God sees as humble and contrite. So as we fast tomorrow, look up these scriptures in a paper Bible and let His glory dust upon you. Let His great pleasure flow and give the angels even more reasons to sing over the SUmite Nation. 

I love you all so much. I love our God, His Son, Jesus and the Spirit that empowers us and makes us one. 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com
 

Isaiah 66:2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. 

 

My friends, God told me that it’s not too late. You can still sit down and handwrite your dream list. You can still mail it to me if you want to but it’s not about getting it to me. This is a sacrifice of love that is between you and our Papa. Make time to dream with Him. You won’t regret it.


Intimacy Through Worship

9063688_sMy friends, your comments on Wednesday's post, Worship is More Than a Song, were amazing! You all had such great things to share about what worship means to you. Some of you even shared links to articles you had written on this very subject. I absolutely love seeing things like this, because it shows our Great God's hand moving in synchronicity through His children to bring His loving plans and purposes into place for us individually and the body of Christ. And what blows me away is that God doesn’t need our help, but by His great love and delight in us, He chooses to work His plans out through His children.

I love this line from Amanda’s post on her blog: "True worship is a kaleidoscope of every color in the spectrum that combine to make one shining, brilliant white!”

And this one from our very own Heather Passuello’s article:
 "The worship team is here to lead you into a worship experience, not prepare you or make it happen for you. You cannot be lead where you are not willing to go.”

And precious SUMite, Stacey S. shared this beautiful comment about communion:
 “He gave us Himself, to consume in the Spirit through the sacrifice of His Body and Blood in John 6:52-69. To me, every Sunday, receiving and consuming this gift of life is the most fulfilling and awe inspiring worship I can give him.”

In reading all your comments, I was so struck by the many ways we have discovered to worship God (Tanya worships as she jogs. Merlene spoke of studying God’s Word and encouraging someone) and connect with Him and hear His voice. Please keep sharing in the comments. Our sharing makes this community rich and blesses us all.

Today I want to explore more of this intimacy in worship, because I believe that this place of intimacy one-on-one with God is foundational to every other area of our lives. Let me say that again:

This place of intimacy one-on-one with God is foundational to every other area of our lives.

This is the area I'm coming to draw into more deeply as I get to know God better. This is about giving God our time and ourselves. It's about coming before Him in quiet stillness and expecting Him to be there as we wait. Not doing. Just being.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. — Psalms 62:5 NLT

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” — Psalms 46:10 NLT

This is about going into the inner sanctuary of our spirit and meeting Jesus there.

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. — Hebrews 6:19-20 NLT

It is personal, intimate and intentional. It embraces the quiet soul seeking, the longing heart singing, and the child needing to know and be known in the presence of the Father (1 Cor. 13:12). Here is where we ARE truly anchored in Him.

This is about setting time aside to invite God's presence to be with us one-on-one. Here we find direction, growth and healing through His love and the power of the Holy Spirit and His presence. His Word, worship music, time, silence, prayer walking and journaling are the precious commodities I find the most beneficial here. How about you?

God is love and I’m realizing that His love is creative, healing, inspiring and transforming. The more we desire to be in, delight in and long to be in His presence, the more we understand and experience His great love for us and we get to know Who He is.

I love Amy’s comment about God’s love: “I felt God speak to that, that when we lay down our selfishness and pride at His feet and become more self-sacrificing in the ways that Jesus was, that is true worship and how all other means of worship can freely pour out of us. And let me tell you, that is an extremely hard thing to do if I cannot or do not fully accept the powerful love that God offers and that He wants to permeate every fiber of my being and aspect of my life. It all starts there.”

I find His presence rushes in to meet me when my worship is about Who He is, not what He does for me. Thankfulness is part of worship, but first and foremost, to worship God simply for who He is opens our hearts to Him selflessly and deeply.

He is so perfect, so holy, so good, majestic, mighty, and more than enough (Eph. 3:20). He is incomprehensible in His fullness, yet astoundingly present in the smallest of details.

My friends, I think I could go on and on here and still wouldn’t capture the fullness nor the capacity that worship brings to our intimacy with God. I can only pray that the Holy Spirit will fill in the places that I have missed.

Please understand there is no pressure or expectation to perform in worship. This will hinder intimacy faster than anything else I believe. God knows us, He created us. We have nothing to prove to Him. He only desires we be with Him. That is our greatest form of worship, to be with Him as He is with us. And it can be as simple as just sitting quietly and expectantly and speaking back to Him what He says to us.

I love You.

Resting in Him,
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Copyright: dundanim / 123RF Stock Photo


God's Preparation: Recognizing God's Preparation

GodisgoodWelcome back to the God’s Preparation series, my friends. I hope you are finding this encouraging and enlightening. God’s ways are so beautifully intricate and simple at the same time. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but that’s how I’ve begun to see Him. Lynn and I speak often of this and how we, His children, tend to complicate things. I sense part of this year of intimacy with Him is also about simplicity.

To review, the first week we talked about how God works in and uses our Trials and Challenges. Last week we talked about how Time + Honor = Fruit. As I said last week, the fruit from one trial becomes the strength and preparation for the next. This week, let’s talk about recognizing God’s preparation. We have some amazing examples in the Bible.

God is all about preparation. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can see many examples of this in His Word. I’m just going to pick out a few of my favorites. Feel free to share yours in the comments! I can’t wait to hear yours.

One of my favorite stories is of Joseph. We are introduced to Joseph in Genesis 37 and watch him walk a path full of trials and challenges that span his entire life, right through to Genesis 50 when he is reunited with his family and they bury his father, Jacob.

All that Joseph suffered—from a pit, to a prison, to a palace—he summarizes like this:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. — Genesis 50:20

And Paul sums it up like this:

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

Joseph's preparation was specific to God's purpose and calling to his life and according to God’s plans and purposes to save the lives of many people. Joseph’s trials and challenges show us each step of his preparation to ultimately be ready and able to handle a place of such authority so that he could fulfill God’s plan to save the Israelites. (Read Genesis 37-50 to get the full picture.)

Another story is in Genesis 22 when God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. I believe this was part of God’s preparation for the coming Messiah. As I’ve said in the past, God seems to always have more than one purposed for everything. Just as this event tested Abraham’s faith (and can even be symbolic of not making idols out of those we love), I believe it also served as a foundational depiction of what was to come—specifically the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.

Yes, Abraham had Ishmael, but that was not technically part of God’s plan for Abraham’s offspring to be as numerous as the stars. Isaac was always the intended “only son.” And I believe this sacrificial model is exemplified when Abraham answers Isaac’s question about the sheep:

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son.” — Genesis 22:8

The generations proceeding Abraham and Isaac would have this story as a prophetic picture of what was to come—Jesus’ sacrificial death to save us all.

Another story is in the New Testament, the story of Lazarus (John 11). As I read this story one day, God strongly impressed upon me the understanding that the resurrection of Lazarus was to be a reference point for the disciples for when Jesus died and was then resurrected.

Again, Jesus was preparing the disciples to understand what was to come:

So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” — John 11:14-15

God is all about preparation, and it seems it is never just for our own benefit. Our preparation often serves not only us as individuals but those around us as we share our testimony and blessing with individuals, communities and even nations. Our end results can be preparation for others!

I’m learning to be aware of the Holy Spirit’s “call to attention” when I see, read, or hear something that will be significant to something that I will soon experience or walk through. How often have you looked back and can identify things that played a key role in the bigger event? The more in tune we are with the Holy Spirit, the more we will sense these things before and recognize them as preparation.

And let me also say, God is not random. He fits and works everything perfectly together, whether good or evil. This is one of the most amazing ways He thwarts the enemy’s plans in our lives. He will take something the enemy intended to used to destroy and use it to create life and redemption (like Joseph’s life). This is where the power of our testimonies lays, to release hope and the power of the Holy Spirit into the lives of others.

The SUM ministry is a testimony to this. God used mine and Lynn’s mismatched marriages to lead us closer to Him and to teach us how to thrive in this type of marriage—all in preparation to create a ministry to help others in mismatched marriages. Our lessons, blessings and victories are meant to be shared.

Okay, now it’s your turn. How do you see God’s preparation working in you life? What do you think He’s preparing you for? Can’t wait to hear your stories!

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God's Preparation: Trials and Challenges

PrayerBlock2Dear Friends, one of the most extraordinary things that God is showing me of late is how interconnected things are and how often we miss it. So here is the first part of an unexpected series—I say unexpected because I'd made notes for what I thought were four different posts and then realized they are very much interconnected and make a whole. I love how God does that!

I remember years ago thinking that as I got older, "things" (i.e. life in general) would get easier, because I would be wiser, more experienced (is that redundant?) and overall have a better grip on life. In some ways that has proved true, but I'm finding that the deeper I seek to walk with God, the challenges have grown. Yes, we have a relentless enemy determined to to keep us from walking in our full destiny (remember, he can't take away our salvation, but he can make us ineffective, if we let him), but we serve and love a God who is even more relentless in His love and purposes and Who WILL NOT FAIL US. He is the one we will focus upon in this series.

Challenges and trials are part of life. I've learned to accept that and realize there is no such thing as a life free of these situations. Not on this side of heaven, anyway. Take hope in this my friends, for one day our Lord Jesus will dry our tears and we will be complete (realized, fully free, perfected to completion) in His presence in the heavenly realms.

In the meantime, the foundational truth that is crucial once again for us to embrace and understand is that God is good and that He brings purpose and redemption in each of us. Not just of who we are but also from our lives—our trials, struggles, pain and even those situations and conditions that seem so impossible to us from our limited understanding and perspective. This is the heart and truth of Romans 8:28 and a truth I believe we MUST revisit and reiterate over and over again because this is where the enemy will hit us hardest and attempt to make us doubt God's goodness.

Let's look at the story of Jesus walking on water:

When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night He *came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and *said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened. — Mark 6:45-52 (NASB)

First, I want to point out a telling word in the second line, verse 48. The word “straining” in Greek is basanizō, and means to torture, battered, felt...tormented, pain, straining, torment, tormented.

These men were beyond the point of being afraid. It was somewhere between three and six in the dark morning hours, they most likely couldn’t see a thing because the storm covered the moon, and they were terrified and saw no way out. I find the use of this word, basanizō, very interesting, because it’s not one I would have expected to find in this story. Perhaps God wanted us to understand that no matter how deep our fear and suffering run, He will prevail.

But that’s not the point I want to bring out today. (Hang with me just a little longer. I actually have three points to share with you.) Jesus revealed Himself in such a way as to surpass the the terror of the storm—they thought he was a ghost and were terrified. Right away, their perspectives shifted from the storm to His awe-inspiring and fear rendering presence.

Point #1: God will present Himself stronger, larger and more awe-inspiring than the trial, conflict, or enemy you face.

As Jesus approached the boat, He says to “take courage; It is I, do not be afraid.” He’s telling His disciples (His friends and His children) to put faith in WHO HE IS. Not in what He can do, but to trust Who Jesus is above the storm whirling around them. Otherwise, when the storm rages longer than our first cry for help, we will think that either God hasn’t heard us, that He’s tormenting us, or that He failed. The enemy will do whatever he can to make the waves of these lies fill your boat if you let him.

Point #2: God wants your faith and trust to rest in WHO He is and not in what He can or could do in your circumstances.

And this is the part I find the most interesting and telling, my dear friends. As Jesus approached, the first thing He did was present Himself, His awe-inspiring presence. Then He got into the boat with them. And if you’ll notice, Scripture doesn’t say that Jesus made the storm go away. Only that He made the winds stop.

Did the storm clouds still remain? My gut says at this point, it really didn’t matter. More importantly, Jesus gave the disciples the reassurance of His presence with them. And my friends, we ALWAYS have that reassurance in us in the presence of His Holy Spirit.

Point #3: God will give us His presence, comfort and reassurance first, then will quiet the storm around us so that we can follow His leading to calmer shores.

Just as Jesus came to the disciples to rescue them with His presence, He came for us all in our tormented and storm-ridden states to save and rescue us.

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. — 1 Peter 5:6

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. — 1 Peter 5:10

I believe that in everything we walk, suffer, strive and struggle through, God has a plan and a purpose. And if you’ll notice in the Scriptures above, it’s in His timing. Wants to restore, support and strength us so that He can place us on that firm foundation—the foundation of Jesus, which is unshakable, isn’t threatened by storms and can walk on water.

Standing for Jesus!

Dineensig

 

 


Our Greatest Promise (Part 2)

8406391_sHappy Friday, my friends! Let’s finish what we started on Wednesday. I left off with an analogy of the Holy Spirit flowing in our lives like blood in our veins and how it’s important to keep the “flow” free of unrighteous impediments. As I said at the end of Wednesday’s post, the Holy Spirit helps us do this.

He is very good at His job of showing us places in our lives and hearts that we need to deal with, of nudging us to do the right thing, and even of reminding us of God’s love and will for our lives. Also known as godly conviction, it is done with the love and heart of God for our good. Not to be confused with condemnation either (Romans 8:1), it is relieving, freeing and healing.

Just about every day, I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything I need to confess or see in myself. I talk to Jesus about it and ask for forgiveness if I need it or for help dealing with or overcoming an issue. Then if there is nothing else, I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me and overflow in me, and that my day would bring glory and honor to Jesus.

When the Holy Spirit can move freely in us, our lives are changed and empowered. Abba wants for us to walk in this place of righteousness and empowerment that He sent His Son Jesus to bring us. And it is the Holy Spirit that does this work in us.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. — Philippians 2:13
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. — Philippians 4:13

So often we try to fix ourselves when the best thing we can do is sit quietly before God and let Him do these great works in us. We do our part (repentance and obedience) and He does His part (saving and transforming).

And my friends, I’m discovering through this year of intimacy that the key is knowing God better and better:

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. — Colossians 1:9-14

And the motivation behind all this is always, always, always God’s pure and unconditional love. He tells us to confess our sins and be filled with His Holy Spirit not out of harshness or so that we “get it right.” His desire has been, is and always will be to connect our heart to His so that His love can flow into our hearts freely, as blood flows freely in a healthy body, as the Blood of Christ flowed freely to save us.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. — Romans 5:3-5

And when the Holy Spirit flows freely in us, we are doing what Paul called “walking in the Spirit” and we are empowered to do those things that please God, whether they are serving others, or overcoming a sin or idol in our lives, or loving the difficult ones in our lives who Abba has specifically called us to love.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. — Galations 5:16 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. — Ephesians 2:10

Our greatest challenge as believers is also our gateway to freedom and unfailing faith: is to trust and believe. As Peter says, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine” (1 Peter 1:7).

Our greatest and most important calling is to know and love Him (Deut. 6:5, Mark 12:30), to be still and know, trust and believe that He is who He says he is (Psalm 46:10), and let Him do the great work in us that He began and is faithful to finish (Phil. 1:6).

And I am finding that it is in the quiet moments when I manage to still my heart, my soul and my spirit before Him, that His loves pours freely, His wisdom comes in priceless gems, and His presence overwhelms me.

My friends, may the Lord bless you and protect you, may the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you, may the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace (Numbers 6:24-26).

Have an amazing weekend. Love you so much!
Dineen

Copyright: dirkercken / 123RF Stock Photo


Our Greatest Promise (Part 1)

8406391_sMy friends, this is part three of the salvation series Abba has been leading me to share. The first week we talked about how we are Wired for Salvation and last week, we discussed the differences in our identity before and after accepting Christ in Sinner vs. New Creation. This week we will explore our greatest promise and guarantee of eternity because of our salvation—the Holy Spirit.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. — 2 Corinthians 1: 21-22 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. — Ephesians 4:30

The Holy Spirit is our seal of ownership that we belong to God and our guarantee that we are and will be saved on the day of redemption. If you know you the Holy Spirit dwells in you, then you know you are saved and have an unshakeable eternal destination and home.

But I want to talk about “the more” of this promise, specifically the difference between being dwelling and filling. We can’t change or affect that the Holy Spirit lives in us thanks to the saving grace of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, but we can affect how much we are filled by the Holy Spirit’s power.

First, God’s Word tell us to be filled.

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, — Ephesians 5:18

Paul cleverly uses the comparison of wine because he wants us to understand that we are meant to be “saturated” (the Greek intention of the word drunk) with the Holy Spirit. That we are to be affected so much that His presence is seen by others—Christ in us.

Yet the one thing that impedes the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives is sin, whether it’s intentional or not. And though there can be debate on what sin is, I am learning that it is pretty much anything that shows a lack of trust in God.

Worry, fear, anxiety are three I have battled with more in the last six months than I ever imagined I would. And if you asked me last year if these are “sins” I would have told you I wasn’t sure.

Yet now I see them in a different light, that the first entrance of these and things like anger and unforgiveness are like temptations. They enter in as possibilities and become sin in our lives when we entertain and give them place in our lives. (If you’ve described yourself as a worry wart in joking, it’s time to shake that label and tell worry to take a hike.)

Thus why this piece of truth is so vital to our mental, physical and spiritual health—to our soul, mind and spirit.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:9

Again this is not to be legalistic, but it is something we need to consider and practice on a daily basis. What unrighteousness are we carrying that impedes the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives? 

What lie are staying in agreement with? What fear are we allowing to keep us from full accepting all that God wants to give us? Sometimes we know when it’s a sin (like lashing out at a loved one) or sometimes it’s a past hurt or wound that we are holding onto and Abba says it’s time to hand it over.

Think of it this way. Our veins are filled with blood and when the blood flows freely through our bodies, we are healthy and strong. But then there’s this thing called plaque (unhealthy build up of white blood cells or ‘sin”) that builds up in our veins and if we don’t do anything about it (change our diet and exercise, etc, in other words ‘repent’ and ‘confess’) the blood flow is impeded and our health declines.

Amazingly, the Holy Spirit helps us do this. On Friday I will explain how that happens. (Lynn has graciously given me her blogging day.) Until then, I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

Love you, dear friends!
Dineen

Copyright: dirkercken / 123RF Stock Photo