122 posts categorized "Sacrificial Love"

Sinner vs. New Creation

8406391_sMy friends, welcome to part two of this series on salvation. I just love how Abba shows me these truths and walks me through them. They are truths I desperately need and feel honored to share. As one is blessed with wisdom and knowledge to know Him better, I believe many are blessed too, as He calls us to share what we are given in all manners. I am learning more and more about God’s generosity and am continually blown away by what He shows me. I pray that by the end of this post, you are as blown away by what He revealed to my hungry heart.

To review, last week I talked about how we are wired for salvation and how it’s not us who brings a person to salvation but our Father who draws or calls them first to His Son, Jesus. Read that first part, Wired for Salvation, if you haven’t had a chance to yet. This week, we will talk about our identity.

Before we make that most crucial decision to ask Jesus to be our Savior, our identity is “sinner.” Once we take this step and Jesus lives in us (John 17:20), we are new creations who still sin at times. Our identity has changed as we are now children of God and belong to His family. We have sonship (Romans 8:15, 23).

To continue to define ourselves as sinners is kind of like having a split personality and the Bible even says light and darkness can’t coexist. So we can’t be both identities, sinner and new creation. How can Jesus be in us, how can the Holy Spirit dwell in us with the “old man” so to speak?

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun. And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. — 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. — Colossians 2:9-12
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. — Ephesians 2:10

After accepting Christ, our identity is in Jesus.Yes, we still sin (an action) at times, but as we bear the righteousness of Christ, our identity (who we are) now resides in Him. We are seen in the same righteousness as Christ (Romans 5:17).

Now apply this to your pre-believer. If he or she doesn’t know Jesus as their Savior, how can we expect them to behave as new creations? Yet that is what we do at times, isn’t it? And the enemy wants nothing more than to either keep them from knowing Jesus, or keep us fruitless with his lies.

Last week I talked with dear friend Kevin Adams (author of The Extravagant Fool) about this very subject and loved what he said. I told him I had to share it with you.

“The enemy can’t uncreate us, but he will try to make us unproductive. We don’t practice sin, we stumble.” — Kevin Adams

The final piece Abba brought me is in the story of the Prodigal, again a direction I never anticipated, and it’s a truth God wants us to know and believe. This story not only shows a lost son coming back to his father (the Father), but it also represents the generous heart of our Father in Heaven. The son acknowledged his sin to his father, but never once does the father call him a sinner.

“for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.” — Luke 15:24

He calls him son. This son of mine.

God does not call us sinners. He calls us His children. He calls us and claims us as His own.

He calls us His.

That is our greatest truth to walk in and it is powerful. In this year of intimacy Abba called me to walk in, this above all else has been the focus of our time together as He reveals the lies and shows me His promises. And this next part had me bawling like a baby. Seriously, because it is so contrary to what I have believed for too long—that I must work to get what I want.

“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

The father’s son had believed he had to work for what he had all along. We don’t have to work for God’s favor. We don’t have to work for His blessings. We don’t have to work for His love. He’s already given us everything.

He calls us by our true identity. His child. His son. His daughter. His!

My friends, what lie keeps you from fully embracing the truth that God loves you unconditionally (Romans 8:38-39) and calls you His? I want to hear your heart so that I can pray for you, because my victory is yours too.

Love you dearly! 

Dineen

Copyright: dirkercken / 123RF Stock Photo


And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

SUMite Nation: 

Matthew 24Let’s finish this journey of Walking The Walls of Jericho. 

Remember, we are in the seven times around. I’m not sure exactly where I am, five, six, seven times around but I’ve come so very far and will never relent. There are promises behind those walls. There are captives to be liberated and plunder to be regained. Everything that was stolen. And there is a devil to be defeated and cast into the lake of fire. We, the saints, are the chosen to defeat the enemy with our worship. 

This is who we are. And you know what awaits us?.... The sound of the Shofar... 

The Shofar: 

When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. —Joshua 6:20 

The walls crumbled. Now get this, the walls fell and the People of God didn’t lift a finger to topple this shut-tight fortress. God spoke. The Walls Fell. Period. The end. 

But my friends, there remains another blast of the Shofar. It’s the trumpet sound of the Redeemed. God speaks and His Word goes forth with power, reducing the enemy to an impotent and silent foe. 

And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven. —Matthew 24:31 

The great day of the trumpet blast is ahead. It is a promise we can believe and trust and pursue this promise. In the meantime. We walk. We love. We help others. We love others. We trust. We see the miracles and we train up the generation behind us. 

As we conclude this series, I’m moved to ask you again. What is the most important verse or component of this story? Do you remember?

His Voice. 

The voice of God. It matters not what lies behind those walls. It pales in comparison the plunder, the victory, the riches, the abundance. At the end of our long journey (our years of wondering in the wilderness) only one thing matters. His Presence. 

Everything, all that we do, is in pursuit of His Presence. So consider a few thoughts with me as we continue to walk out this journey: 

  • My goal in life is not to figure out who I am, my goal in life is to figure out who He is.
  • God is always good. Always. Always. Always.
  • God has good gifts for His kids.
  • My victory is at hand because it was finished at the Cross.
  • It’s easy to pray general prayers to avoid disappointment. The Lord is looking for those who know they are servants and pray dangerously.
  • God makes me BRAVE!
  • Fear is faith in Satan.
  • The enemy loves to get us to look at ourselves either in self-criticism or self-discovery in order to keep us from looking to God.
  • Keep asking for The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation that we may know Him better.
  • Our brokenness is also our pathway to His heart.
  • People matter.
  • Perfect love casts out all fear.
  • Healing is for everyone.
  • God lavishly gives Spiritual gifts that we can give them to others.
  • Grace, grace and more grace.
  • Walking together we overcome all hindrances.
  • Peace, I give thee. I receive His peace and I thrive.
  • The Promised Land? His Presence. 

I love you so much my friends. Share your thoughts, scriptures, prayers in the comments. Our worship silences the enemy. Your sister in the Kingdom, Lynn

 

Reader Question: I'm the Daughter of an Unequally Yoked Marriage

Thank you for your ministry. I am the daughter of an unequally yoked marriage. My mom has recently (within the past 10 years) tried to seek godly Christian women to find support/encouragement but so far she has found none. As a result I have been the one to hear my mom vent about the struggles and pain.

My parents have been married for about 40 years and only about three years ago did my dad claim to profess faith in Christ. Today's (April 26) reader question along with listening to your interview on Focus on the Family aired on March 26 has motivated me to write this email. How can you love someone for who they are when he has told you several times over the course of the marriage and continues to say to you (even with his profession of faith) that you are the cause of his unhappiness and blames you for why he gets upset and angry? How can you love someone who unleashes his wrath and anger against you with verbal assaults and in his fits of rage will throw things towards your direction? 

There are other baggage/sin that each of my parents bring into their marriage that complicates things (of course). Regardless, you remind me of the foundational place of where we all should begin. You are right when you said on the Focus on the Family interview aired on March 27, 2012, "we need to love God more than we love ourselves. Our commitment to marriage is our commitment to Christ." 

It is hard to see past the fog. Thank you for your Biblical counsel to spouses who are in spiritually unequal marriages. Would appreciate some encouragement to pass along to my mom. I plan on sending my mom the link to your website as well as giving my mom a copy of your book, Winning Him Without Words

My friend, I am so touched by your heart for your mom. I know it hasn't been easy for you to be her sounding board. I truly believe she will find the support and encouragement she needs in our community at SpirituallyUnequalMarriage.com. Lynn and I are there blogging almost everyday and interacting with the community of believers who are walking this very same path. Yes, please direct her to our site there and here is a link our interviews page that has many of our broadcasts. I'm praying that your mom will listen and be encouraged as she listens. She is not a lone. There are many of us out there and we are stronger together.

You ask how can we love someone who does these things? We can't, not without Jesus, and the love the He has for us and our spouse flowing through us. I know I can't love my husband as I do without God's help and he's a pretty lovable guy and easy to get alone with! So with such a challenge as your mom faces, she needs Jesus even more to do this through her. The Word tells us God IS love so when we ask Him to love for us, to flow that through us, especially to those who are difficult to love, we are also transformed. I find it astonishing how God does it as I've watched Him do this in my own life.

But let me also say, my friend, that it sounds like the issues your mother is dealing with are not due to a spiritual mismatch. These are issues that can be present in even believing couples. I strongly encourage you to encourage you mom to seek Christian counseling. God doesn't desire us to live in that kind of treatment (and please forgive me if this sounds harsh but your dad's behavior toward your mom could border on being emotionally abusive) and if we don't know how to set boundaries that tell even those we love that their behavior isn't appropriate, we can become enablers for it to continue.

Your sweet mom is not in charge of making your dad happy nor is he in charge of making her happy. This is something the world tells us and it's truly built on lies. Our joy, peace and contentment come from knowing Jesus, and happiness comes in those places as well. Yet to blame another person for our unhappiness, anger and discontent is not taking responsibility for ourselves. It's not easy to look in these places and realize this. Trust me, I know. Early in my marriage before I knew Christ I blamed my husband for my unhappiness, because I didn't understand that a human being couldn't meet the needs God placed in me for only Him to meet.

That your mom is seeking encouragement is wonderful! Tell her that for us and tell her we would love the chance to get to know her better and share our hearts with her. Our SUM community is built upon two things: the love of God and that we are not alone. 

Again, let me commend you for your heart for your mom. Know that all of this is God leading her to what she needs so that ultimately she will know Him better, trust Him more and walk in the truth that He alone will supply all her needs from His amazing love (Phil 4:19).

I'm praying for you and your family, my friend. God is definitely working here even if it may not seem so. He's working through you and all your years of praying to help bring your mom to a stronger place of faith and breakthrough so that both your parents can walk in the freedom Jesus died to give us. I truly believe that and I pray it encourages you too.

Much love and lots of hugs to you!
Dineen

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Gang, still waiting to hear back from Walmart if we are approved and what date. I will give the update on Monday, Hugs, Lynn


The Seven Seasons of The Walls

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com
Hello SUMite Nation: 

Today I want to share some thoughts as we continue our journey toward the Promised Land. Remember we have been talking about seasons. If we can condense the long years and seasons and see them from heaven’s view. this is what our journey truly looks like. And it’s beautiful. 

Day two is finished and were back at the camp. But you know what is happening here? With each step it’s a revelation of how to do this journey better, more effective, with confidence. We learn to find the joy as we cross the same territory. We sing to our kids along the way and share stories of hope. We tell them of the glory of God. 

On day three, we fall down. We are exhausted, confused and just plain tired. It’s our brother's and sister's turn to come along side of us, pick us up and carry the load. It’s our family, our friends, our neighbors in the tent next door. A stranger. Angels. We don’t have to do this on our own strength. We are carried and loved. Remember the story of friends bringing a man on the mat to Jesus because of their love?

Half way through we are healed because we choose to believe in the voice that spoke. There angels that guide. The strength and truth of Joshua (Jesus) His faithfulness was proven over and again as we traveled years in the wilderness. We become more and more like Jesus. 

Day – season- four.. It’s more of the same. The crowd on the walls have grown insolent. Any release or change or surrender from the kingdom behind the walls is unexpected. More of the same. More or the same. It’s along…. Long journey…. Twenty two years and counting for me. 

But step by step, we get through the season a little faster. It’s not as devastating. We know who to go to for help, encouragement and love.  Just as Joshua leads the Israelites, Jesus leads us. The Father’s love sustains us. We have a promise. We have many, many promises. And we have experienced the faithfulness of our Lord. We know His goodness. 

Day five.. We still don’t know the end of the story. We battle up! We fast, we pray. We gather the intercessors… We fight in the spirit. Spiritual Warfare intensifies. Perhaps the enemy camp sent out sentinels in the night and sabotaged our camp… Infected our children??? We pray and pray…. 

Still nothing. The walls remain…. (But something is happening we just can’t see it yet.) 

Day six… more marching. More learning. Leading others. Singing in the camp. Healing in the camp. Worship in the camp. The Presence in the camp. I wonder, have we been in the Promised Land all along????? 

Day seven… the hardest of all. Not only walking six times around (six seasons) but on this day, this season we must walk seven times around without stopping. We ask God why didn’t this get easier? The mocking from the inhabitants behind the wall increases. The determination in our will increases because we have experience the Presence. Through the six preceding days we have learned to do this walk well. We have calloused in the right places. We are fortified. Sturdied, made strong because of the walking, the pressure, the training. The we have established faith because we know God is preparing all things according to His perfect plan and purposes.

We are in the seven times around. I’m not sure where I am in this but I’ve come this far and will never relent. There are promises behind those walls. There are captives to be liberated and plunder to be regained. Everything that was stolen. And there is a devil to be defeated and cast into the lake of fire. We, the saints, are the chosen to defeat the enemy with our worship.

This is who we are. And you know what waits us now.... The sound of the Shofar... Stay tuned. That glorious moment is a head in our story. I love you my friends. Have a great week. Hugs, Lynn

 

I have so much to tell you about what is developing for our Walmart Prayer Day. It’s going to be so much more than I first glimpsed when God whispered this idea to me. I will have an update for you on Friday. But I need a prayer right now. 

I have called the store twice, paid a personal visit on Saturday trying to get a date booked on their community calendar. Would you pray that on Monday I am able to speak with Isabel and get this date finalized? Thank you for praying. …. And devil… You are not going to stop this so in the name of Jesus, Lord, please open up heaven above this store and let this date booking happen without further delay. In Jesus name. Amen.

 


Battlefield of the Mind: Pleading the Blood of Jesus

ThemindThe last three weeks we have talked about the battlefield of the mind and the transformation that the Bible speaks of in Romans 12:2, first with Feasting on God’s Word, then part two, Claiming and Praying God’s Promises and last week, Giving the Holy Spirit Authority. This week I want to talk about pleading the blood of Jesus. Through this time of breaking and rebuilding that Abba has had me in, He’s given me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the ramifications and power of the blood of Christ and what makes it so powerful.

As we travel through the Word of God, we see His ultimate plan of one perfect and final sacrifice. The Old Testament is the promise of the Messiah and the preparation of His coming. The New Testament is the revelation of the Messiah and His salvation plan for us. Sacrificial blood runs through the entire Bible.

Recently, God has bombarded me with Scriptures about the living water. First with the story of Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 where Jesus speaks to her of a water that will quench her thirst for eternity. In John 7:38 Jesus speaks again about those who are thirsty coming to Him and He refers to the Old Testament Scriptures that have declared, “Rivers of living water will flow from His heart.”

Scriptures like Isaiah 12:3, Psalm 36:9 and Revelations 21:6 led me on a trail of understanding like a blood hound sniffing out his prize (yes, perhaps pun intended). I knew God wanted me to understand the connection of the water of life to the blood of Christ as He led me to more truths in His Word.

Scripture tells us the depth of the testing of our Savior, that He experienced all of the same testings we do, so that He would understand our weaknesses (Heb 4:17-18). Only in John’s account do we see Jesus say, “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)

It is the same Greek word that is used in the other accounts where Jesus speaks of thirst. As God began putting the pieces together for me, I heard Abba say, “even unto death” and I literally shook as the revelation came. Jesus Christ didn’t just die a physical death. He died a spiritual death as well.

He spoke of thirst after He cried out to the Father, asking why He had forsaken (abandoned) Him (Matt. 27:46). Jesus’ sacrifice had to be more than just physical otherwise the animal sacrifices would have been enough. (And I dare to say also that perhaps the sour wine offered for His physical thirst was a symbol of the communion shared with His disciples just hours before and was now broken.)

His death had to reach from the physical to the spiritual and only by the shedding of the holy and powerful blood of Jesus—who first was fully God and became fully man as well—could the circle be completed. Jesus said it was finished and the man/God returned to the Father (John 13:3). I believe Paul’s statement in Ephesians 4:9 that Jesus also descended to the lower, earthly regions is part of this understanding as well.

Now think of your pre-believer’s separation from God in the light that Jesus experienced it too. He understands and knows, yet He still loves this person. As can we with His love and living water flowing through us!

(Let me interject one other piece of symbolism from Exodus 15 where Moses and the Israelites come to Marah, the place of the bitter water. What is Moses told to throw into the water to make them sweet—life giving? A piece of wood. I believe the wood symbolized the cross of Christ to come, who would by His death on those beams would release the living waters to all who thirst.)

The healing blood of Jesus is forever and eternal, and it affects us in all realms—the physical and the spiritual. Just like I prayed for the Holy Spirit to have authority in all those places in my life, I plead the blood of Jesus over those areas as well to bring healing and transformation. As the song says, there is power in the blood of Jesus. I pray something like this—not legalistically but when I feel I need it:

I plead the blood of Jesus over my mind, my heart, my body, my spirit, my soul, my will, my thoughts, my emotions and my feelings.

Or as I prayed yesterday, because this is where I felt my greatest need:

Lord Jesus, I plead your saving, holy and protecting blood over my will and my motivations. Align them with the Father’s.

Dear friends, just like a garden, our minds and emotions need daily care and feeding in order to grow, bloom and prosper. This is part of claiming our abundant life in Jesus (John 10:10), one we can look forward to daily with joy as we rest in Him (Be still and know that I am God. — Psalm 46:10). Let Him do that work He has promised to complete (Phil. 1:6).

As He is in us, we are in Him (1 John 4:13). He is the one doing the work and He will not fail (1 Thess. 5:24). All we need is a willing and seeking heart (Jer. 29:13).

The cross is His greatest testimony that He finishes everything He starts and His blood was, is and forever will be the proof of that promise.

My friends, take time to look of the Scriptures and study them for yourself. Pray for wisdom and revelation to know Him better (Eph 1:17) and that you would know the depths of His great love for you (Eph 3:18). This year of intimacy with Him is not at all what I expected. It hasn’t been easy but it has been so much more than I imagined (Eph. 3:20).

Praying all this for you!
Dineen


Don't Know What to Pray?

PrayerOver the years I've learned that our mismatched situations come in all shapes and sizes. When I'm asked what mismatched means I explain that it can be as clear as one spouse believes in God and the other doesn't, as gray as differing faiths or degrees of faith (i.e. a believer married to a Muslim or one spouse growing in faith but the other isn’t) or as painful as one spouse walking completely away from God. Even this description is a broad attempt to capture its meaning. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. Let’s leave that stuff to God and trust Him to make sense of it (Prov. 3:5).

Today I want to share from what I know to be true in my marriage. From my perspective, my hubby is like Fort Knox in letting anything about believing in God penetrate his fortress of atheism. I've been asked if something happened in the past to turn him away and many other questions that I can only shake my head to. I simply don't know what cranks my guy's head and heart in this direction.

But God does.

Yes, praying for him has been a challenge, because what do I pray against or for, besides the obvious, "Lord, show him You're real. Soften his heart. Don't let him miss seeing you today in his day."

Those are all great prayers (I don't think there's really a bad prayer when our heart is for our loved one to simply know Jesus, right?), but after a while, I kind felt like I wasn't having any impact at all. Now I know that just because I don't feel it or see it, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

But on this particular day I needed some new directions, you know? So I ask Abba, how do I pray for this guy? I'm baffled.

Guess what? God has some really cool ideas. Imagine that! As I prayed that morning, Abba inspired me to pray for divine connections. Not with people but in his work. You see, my guy is very techy—he's a computer programmer and analyst—and he's very creative. He wrangles various computer languages to do some pretty technical and amazing stuff, much like an artist manipulates paint to create the overall illusion of parts that create a bigger image.

An artist can look at creation, and in her attempt to paint its essence, can begin to see the smallest parts and how they perfectly connect to create the whole and how that whole points to God. In that same sense, I'm praying for my hubby to see how the code and technology he is using to create a full picture reflect the perfection and synchronicity of God in our lives. My husband is surrounded by technology every day—this is the world he moves and works in so I'm basically asking God to come in and be present in a way my guy can relate to.

Sometimes it can be really challenging to keep praying for our prebelievers and even for our children, especially the challenging ones. God created each of us uniquely so it just seems to make sense that our prayers can be similar yet unique to the person. And ultimately, Abba knows what we need and what our prebelievers need before we even ask, right? (Matt. 6:8)

We don't have to have the perfect words or method to pray for those we love, because really and truly, it’s all about love—God’s for us and our prebeliever, ours for God and our prebeliever and the mysterious way God’s love transforms ours into this beautiful thing we know we could have never done on our own. But when we can understand the direction Abba is moving in that person's life and join Him there with our prayers, then we can become a part of an amazing and beautiful journey as we watch the pieces fit together and create a brand new picture.

And even in those times that we don’t know what to pray for, we never pray alone. (Romans 8:26) and “the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” (Romans 8:27)

Jesus is pleading for us, dear friends!
Love you dearly!
Dineen


Weekend Worship — The Throne of Grace

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16

On morning as I woke up, I heard Jesus say to my heart, “Come learn about My grace.”

I’d been reading in Hebrews and the verse above had caught my attention, namely the confidence part, not a place I’ve excelled in. LOL!

As I sat with Abba that morning and sought His heart, I believe He wanted me to understand that approaching the throne of grace was about belief—believing that I have this “right” as a co-heir in Christ and that Abba sincerely wants me to because He loves me.

Abba wants us to know and believe that His “door is always open,” because His love for us is unchanging and unending, no matter what’s going on in our lives.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Rom 8:38-39

Amazingly, and so very much God, Abba led me to verse after verse that week that spoke more about the confidence He wants us to have to approach Him for whatever we need.

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. — Ephesians 3:12

Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. — Titus 3:7 NLT

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:19

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. — 1 John 5:14-15

I’m still grasping what all this means, my friends. Yesterday as I prayed and asked Abby for more understanding, He told me, “My grace and love are inseparable.”

Wow, what confidence we can have in that! Amen?

Have any thoughts to share on what the throne of grace means to you? Please share in the comments! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

Have an amazing weekend drenched in Abba’s supernatural abundant grace and love!
Dineen


Hope For You, Mom!

Today I want to share a story with you that deeply touched me and Dineen. Below is a note I received from a young woman who is married and yet to have children. Her name is Stone. Dineen and I have come to know her and her story over the last several months as Stone lives near me here in California. Her story is horrific and also covered with redemption and love. She has faced great pain and fear and yet is finding hope. She is growing to be a Hope-Restorer. 

Let me set the stage. The note below was written to me shortly after Stone watched the 700 Club Interactive Broadcast where I talked about our new book, Not Alone. I shared the hope we have as believing mothers even in the midst of unfavorable circumstances (unbelieving father). Our hope is that we CAN raise our children well and raise them to faith in this challenging society and unconventional homes. 

She writes:

Wow Lynn!

You hit it out of the park!

That was amazing and so encouraging!

In my teens I decided that I would not have children because I did not believe that with the things I had experienced growing up that I could be a good parent and I feared bringing a child into such a fallen world. I often felt overwhelmed at the thought of having children someday because they would also have free will and would be able to choose for themselves what to believe. At that point I did not trust God enough with even the idea of having children someday. 

Now that I am married and at a place where I know Him better and we are discussing having children someday, those fears want to come in and take over again. But your chat today was so encouraging. 

I now know Him in a powerful way and I am encouraged by your words that when the time comes I can trust in Him and look for those teachable moments where I will be able to pour into their hearts and spirits, trusting in Him to work in their hearts. 

Thank you for sharing your heart and your story with us today. ~Stone 

I’m sharing Stone’s words because I believe there are so many young women who also fear raising children. There are mothers, right now, READING THIS POST, who are afraid they can’t do it. They can’t bring up kids with character and faith. 

That is a lie from the enemy my friends. 

Dineen and I have been talking a lot the last few weeks about our hope for mothers. And we feel like our book release in October was a bit swallowed up by the crazy of the holidays. So, we think we need to encourage every mother near and far with the truth: Ordinary moms who love Christ can and do raise good kids of faith. 

We are convinced that our book is filled with Holy Spirit inspired words, practical tips, parenting treasures and HOPE. We believe that the work, tears we shed, and life-experience we poured into the pages is anointed by our Lord and we want every mom to step into her high and holy calling. 

With that said, can you please help us to get the word out to moms? I’m not even sure what I’m asking other than God created this book to encourage. Just read this letter, titled Beloved Mother, which is an excerpt from the book. 

So, may Dineen and I humbly ask you to consider three things? One, if you’re a mom, please buy the book for yourself. Then pass it along to someone. Or start a small group and help other moms. 

Two, buy a copy for a mom who needs a word of encouragement. 

Three, share on social media. Help us get the word out. There are moms who need words that say, "You are enough and with God, you can raise Godly kids."

I promise we are not trying to just sell books. Dineen and I truly don’t make money on these and anything we do get is poured back into this ministry plus 10 fold. 

We are asking you, our family, who may need this word for yourself and know others who need promises that they can parent with God’s help to get your hands on a copy and share hope…. 

Why? Because we are the Hope-Restorers. And Dineen and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

 

Note Alone Cover ArtNot Alone: This is a parenting book, but it’s much more. It’s a love letter to all mothers—a message that changes our homes, our kids, and our lives. It’s about the Father’s love that impacts those around us and changes ordinary moms into women of extraordinary grace, beauty, and wisdom. 

We are ordinary moms who give Jesus to the generations.

 

Today, will you share with us how you have encouraged a mom or how you have been encouraged by someone who poured wisdom or love into you as a mother? Hugs, Lynn


I Would Sign Up Again - Unequally Yoked

Hello SUMites, 

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Today I have a question for you. How many times have you set down in church and looked around the sanctuary at the couples seated together, husband and wife, and felt defeated, disappointed, and pain? 

I know this place of pain existed in my life for many years. And I really didn’t understand why God was ignoring my prayers and my pleas for the salvation of my husband. And why He didn’t see my pain and longing for a “normal” Christian home. 

That was until about two years ago and I heard a woman share her personal story and as I listened it changed everything. Today, I’m sharing this story with you so that you might understand a little more, about the heart of our Father, and His love for us, the unequally yoked. 

Two years ago I was part of the leadership team for our church’s annual women’s retreat. Prior to the retreat, the leadership team would meet once a week for eight weeks on a Wednesday evening and have Bible study together. Every other week, the team welcomed a guest speaker, an ordinary woman from our congregation. 

Well on this particular night, we welcomed Carol Mahaney. And Carol proceeded to tell her story. And it’s likely the rest of the women in the room were moved a bit by her story, but I was leveled to the ground, in my spirit. 

You see, Carol married her high school sweetheart. He was a believer. She was a believer. They attended church together every Sunday. They tithed, they studied the Bible, they prayed together, they were everything I dreamed and hoped and wanted for my own life. They raised two girls to adulthood as Christians. Carol said she had a wonderful life and she leaned on her husband for everything and she utterly adored him. She said she loved her church family she felt absolutely blessed by God. 

But in 2008, Carol’s husband unexpectedly died. She was devastated. Additionally this was the year that the economy crashed and as Carol had never managed her finances before, she was overwhelmed as her finances were in chaos. Devastated by grief and lost in a maze of paperwork, banking decisions and taxes, she hit bottom and there was no longer a husband to save her. 

Carol looked up and said, “That’s when I met Jesus.” 

I looked at Carol astonished. And I sat in my chair as my head reeled. Carol was 63 years old and she admits in front of all of us that she lived the Christian life with a believing husband for 63 years but at age 63 for the first time she met Jesus. 

What is so compelling about Carol story for me is that she had the life I thought I always wanted. She attended church with her husband, raising her kids in church, tithing, all things Christianeese but she really didn’t meet the King of Kings until she turned 63 years of age. She merely “played” church and her husband’s faith was enough for her…….. 

For 63 years….. 

Instantly, God moved my spirit. He made me realize that I could have lived a Christian life with a very shallow faith thinking I was doing all the right things but never truly “knowing” Christ. 

I know walking this unequally yoked journey is very difficult. I still have very difficult days. I struggle with my husband’s media choices, I still miss him by my side at church, etc. BUT I would choose this journey again over the life Carol had until age 63 because I truly know Jesus. 

I grieved for Carol because for 63 years she “lived” the Christian life or so it seemed. But it wasn’t until the death of her spouse on a personal crisis that brought her into of living vibrant relationship with Jesus. 

My friends, our difficulties are what God has given us to push us, pull us, help us to surrender and to seek Him out for rescue, and then to live in His Presence. As I think about Carol’s life and marriage, it isn’t worth it to have a marriage that is easy if it means that I live most of my life without truly knowing Jesus. 

I would sign up again for this unequally yoked thing, over 63 years of playing “church.” 

Now that is the love of our Father. And I’m convinced we will truly see that our challenging marriage is singularly, a divine assignment with generational ramifications, for not only us but our entire family and more people than we know. 

1 John 3:1  See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

I love you so much my friends. Today, don't doubt God loves you and that He has your life in His hands. Ask Him where you need to surrender and ask Him how to love Him more.

God is good and His ways are always best for His children. Hugs, Lynn


Weekend Worship — Living in the Presence

IStock_000006935189XSmallMy friends, I hope you've had a week full of God's presence and revelations. I am feeling pulled of late to spend more time in God's Word and in His presence. A friend mentioned the same feeling this week too, which I find so very interesting.

Yet I also find "life" so full of distractions and interruptions that seem strategically targeted to keep me from doing this. Ack! Must read my Bible and read what I'm supposed to for that day. Must spend x amount in prayer and make sure I have everyone covered in prayer, but there are so many needs to pray for so how can I cover all of them when I could easily spend the entire day praying and there are things to be done! And...and...and...

Can you relate?

I can get so caught up in the shoulds of my faith walk that I forget what Jesus' wants most is our presence. When I think of His time here on earth with the disciples I can see more clearly that He was more interested in who these men were than what they did for Jesus.

A book I'm reading right now has inspired me with this verse:

Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You." — John 21:20

The author emphasizes the intimacy of John's friendship with Jesus, that he could lean on Jesus, perhaps even resting his head on the chest of his dear friend.

This is the closeness that Jesus inspired then, and I believe the closeness He desires with us even now. It is tender and sweet, because we are His friends. We are His.

I don't know about you, but sometimes, maybe even more times, I struggle to believe I can hold that place in my Saviors heart. Yet I want nothing in this life more than that, to be the one who leans on my Savior, on my Jesus, and can feel His very presence in my spirit and soul.

And what I love most about Him is that regardless of my struggle to believe, His love is constant and unaffected by my moments of doubt and feelings of unworthiness. He reminds me that even though I don't feel as if I walk in His favor, I do. He reminds me that His love is relentless and unceasing with the image of the Cross. He reminds me that He is my best friend.

What about you, my friends? Do you struggle in this place at times like I do? Then let me be the voice of truth for you today. Let me reassure you that Jesus hasn't stopped loving you, nor could He. Let me be the one to remind you that all He has promised and spoken for you is still there. Step forward in belief, obedience, or whatever it is He is asking you and trust Him. Then get ready to be blown away as His blessings pour out. 

Love you are so very much, and I am praying for His strength to fill you with such courage and belief that you are transformed at this very moment!
Dineen 


God's Not Done with Us

19380103_sOn my trip home from Indianapolis, I sat next to an older couple on the plane. I could tell they'd been together for years in the way they worked together to figure out her pills. I offered my set of eyes, glad to help them choose the right one.

As we settle into our flight, I noticed his hand reach for hers. She rubbed his, then they continued to hold hands and settled into a nap.

My friends, as I sat next to them I was struck at the simplicity and sweet familiarity of their relationship. And I felt the strong affirmation of what we are working and striving toward here at S.U.M.

The long view. The big picture. And are we willing to walk the journey to get there?

I find so often our willingness hinges on whether or not we truly believe the truth of Romans 8:28 and if we are willing to trust God to be THAT GOOD in all areas of our lives.

I know we've talked about sacrifice here many times and I am walking this path right now in my own marriage. But I am discovering that as I let go of and "sacrifice" control of my needs, this releases an abundance of God's blessings like I have not experienced before. I’m learning to stop worrying about my provision and choose to trust God. I have chosen to walk this path as far as God wants me too. And I am astounded by the little things God has set in my path to provide for my needs.

And the people He has set in my path to bring them.

I shared last week that while I was in Indianapolis I had the amazing blessing of spending an hour with a fellow SUMite. I'd asked God before this conference for lots of divine appointments and He didn't disappoint. But this one blessed me so much—to sit with a sister in Jesus and share our hearts. And to discover again how similar our mismatched paths are and though we both are walking through some intense trials, we could rejoice and sit in awe of what God is doing through it all.

This is the sacrifice God calls to. To give our hearts—to Him. To relinquish control of our lives—to Him. To release the salvation of our spouse—to Him. To entrust our children—to Him.

We strain at the perceived enormity of our undertaking. We cry out at times at the seeming unfairness of what Abba asks. We yearn for deeper understanding. And there stands Jesus with His flesh and His blood poured out on our behalf, asking if we will truly taste and see that He. Is. Good.

My friends, we walk in the profound presence of God's kingdom in and around us. What we see with our human eyes and hearts is not the full picture. Will you trust Him with yours? Will you take a step of faith to the edge and ask Abba for all He has for you? Will you choose to stand even in that perceived chaos with the expectation that God will move mountains, oceans, hearts and feet on your behalf no matter how long it may take?

We stand at a pivotal time. God is moving people into places to carry and speak His truth in stunning unity. I have never seen anything like it in my lifetime. Every person we meet and every place we go is an opportunity to either receive or share God's kingdom.

Time is short but God is long in His love. Join Him, my precious friends. Ask the Holy Spirit to put a hunger in you for more of Him. Ask for His presence daily and bask in it.

I am overwhelmed and stand in awe of His goodness. He has shown me that He hasn't forgotten me, nor is He through with me. Far from it actually. And I am so thankful because even though His work in me may pinch at times, I KNOW the outcome will be good and I will be more like Jesus on the other side. And I will be closer to Him—the lover of my soul and best friend of all time.

And this is true for you, dear ones. Abba hasn't forgotten you and He is far from through with you. Taste Him deeply and see just how good He truly is.

Love you so very much!
Dineen

Image credit: obencem / 123RF Stock Photo


Returning To Our Roots

Hello my Friends, 

Greetings this Friday! Dineen and I are both on the road, traveling to different events. But before we jumped on the plane, earlier this week we had a great talk about where we want to go with our writing here and at Mismatched & Thriving in the coming months. 

After a lot of thinking, praying and discussion, we were reminiscing about how all of this ministry was started. Years ago, two ordinary wives who, only by the power and love of Jesus Christ, came through the lonely, difficult and challenging years of marriage to our pre-believing spouses. Our triumph became our passion. 

We didn’t want one other person to waste another minute stuck in the lonely and struggling years of marriage when we knew our faith could pull us out of that place. 

It became our hearts purpose to help others on this journey with us. 

With everything in us, we want others to discover hope, help and healing for their spiritual mismatch. 

We are not professional counselors. We are only women who are living in the trenches that have gained much knowledge and hope through our experiences. Every week it’s our desire to help people thrive in their marriage. Our ministry is for every marriage where faith and spiritual beliefs are absent in a spouse or not faith growing at a similar pace in both the husband and wife. Our writing is to serve those who are committed to making their marriage better and for the believing spouse to grow in his or her faith walk. Our writing is directed toward the positive actions we can take in our marriages within the context of a healthy relationship that is outside of physical, emotional abuse, addictions and behavior such as uncontrolled anger, etc. 

So as we talked about our roots earlier in the week and thought it would be great to revisit some of the ideas and suggestions from the early years of our ministry. Things like Captivating Your Spouse. Going the extra mile to make his or her day easier. Spoiling them when they least expect it.  How to love your spouse with the love of Christ. 

I realize that for some, these topics feel uncomfortable as your marriage is dealing with some of these tough issues such as addictions and such. Please hear our heart. We will pray for you and love on you. But we also want to remain steadfast to the purposes of this ministry. 

We CAN THRIVE in a spiritually mismatched home. So beginning next week, we are going to do some fun stuff, some practical stuff and move into this wonderful fall season with some real tips to try at home to spice up the romance. Tips to affirm our spouse. Tips to show the love of Christ to our pre-believers and so much more. 

And over at Mismatched & Thriving we have decided to post once a week on Tuesdays, as we don’t post here on that day and once a week we will post Parenting tips there in preparation for the release of our new Parenting book, Not Alone. One of my favorite tips is up there now, Teaching our Kids Respect in a Social Environment. 

So, what say you? Are you up for some unconditional and sacrificial loving? Do you want to see your spouse respond to that kind of love? We become irresistible over time when we love our pre-believer with the love of Christ. 

And, thank you everyone for giving us ideas for future posts on Monday. We will work through those in the coming months as well. 

Thank you for being part of this family. Remain focused on the love of Jesus. Because love changes everything. Hugging you tight. See you next week. Lynn


Because I Didn't Divorce

Hi My SUM Family,

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If you are reading this on Friday, I'm on my way to participate in the end of the week Torrey Honors Tea and the weekend activities at my daughter's college. 

I checked Caitie into her dorm on Monday. 

Weird.

It was weird to drive away as she stood at the door of her dorm building. Now I'm not a typically weepy person but I will tell you I was melancholy all of Tuesday. But, God quickly showed up and Wednesday I bounced back. So today I'm looking forward to catching up on all my daughter's adventures and to listen as she shares all that God has done in the past four days.

 

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Caitie and her Roomie (have permission to share photo)
As I think about this time in my life, I have to pause and reflect on those moments when I didn't want to stay in this marriage. Divorce was a real possibility in the dark years of my spiritual mismatch. 

 

But today I look at all the rocky years and struggles and realize that I'm so glad I stayed in this marriage. I look at this child, now young woman, and I KNOW clearly that SHE will bear the blessing of my sacrifice.

I have more to say about all this in a future post but for today, please praise God with me because we all sacrifice and He greatly honors a costly sacrifice for His name.

I love you so much my friends. Thank you for allowing me to share some of my life with you. BIG hugs from BIOLA, Lynn & Caitie.

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Weekend Worship — It Starts With a Willing Heart

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “ Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep." — John 21:15-17

933344_i_love_youI know I talked about this passage a while back, maybe even a couple years ago, but the depth of this interchange has deepened even more for me recently. Just to review, the first two times that Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, Jesus uses the Greek form agapao, which is a sacrificial love. And each time Peter replies with the Greek form, phileo, which is a brotherly love. The third and final time that Jesus asks this question, He switches to phileo, and again Peter replies with the same form.

I believe Jesus was asking Peter if he was ready to be sold out for Him, to love Jesus before anything else and to step fully into a life of faith and belief, to tend lambs and shepherd sheep. Jesus was speaking of people, of course. He was asking Peter to live his life sharing Jesus and helping others to know who the Great Shepherd really was.

Yet we see Peter hold back. I can only imagine how fear held him. How he may have judged himself a failure and untrustworthy based upon how he denied knowing Jesus three times, as Jesus had predicted.

What I also love about this passage is Jesus' patience and love for Peter. I believe Jesus switched to Peter's use of phileo to meet Peter right where he was. As if to say, "Okay, if that's what you feel you are capable of, let's start right there."

Such grace, such acceptance, such love.

I love Peter's story because it's my own. For a long time my own fear and feelings of insignificance kept me from saying a full yes to living my life for Jesus. I would get close but ultimately I clung to the last tendrils of self perceived control of my life. I was afraid of what Jesus would ask me to do. And afraid of how I would be perceived by those around me.

We know that we are God's children and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). The thing is, it's not just about being related to Jesus but having a relationship with Him. And He is so very trustworthy. He is patient and brings us along on this journey exactly like the master potter that coaxes and gently forms clay on a wheel to take form and purpose. And if you've ever done this, you know how the slightest pressure brings form, yet too much causes the piece to go out of balance and the potter must either attempt to correct the piece quickly or start over.

My friends, don't lose patience with yourself in this process. Jesus will bring you along exactly as He knows is best for you. Take another look at Peter. By the time we delve into the later chapters of Acts, he is moving and walking in the Spirit and by the time he wrote his letters he is completely sold out for Jesus.

Sometimes you may feel like you're doing everything you should yet inside, everything feels wrong. I've found those are the times that Jesus is cleaning the house—our heart. I discovered the hard way it's easier to work with Him by recognizing the issues He's dredging up, acknowledging them, then asking for forgiveness, healing, release, or for Him to change this area of your heart and life.

Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2), so it’s a part of our faith journey to grow and yield, to form and change to be more like our Creator. And when we step fully into this process with trust, we are transformed.

Since my encounter with God at Bethel Church last October, my own faith journey has exploded and I know there is no way possible I could have done any of it on my own. I never even imagined the possibilities of where God would take me when I asked for more. I was tired of feeling like an ineffective Christian and tired of myself. I knew there had to be more to this faith journey, and I wanted more!

And it is an amazing journey full of fun and delight! Yes, there are times that I quake in my boots when God calls me to stop and talk to a complete stranger, which winds up being either a time to encourage, share Jesus, or pray with them. But I always walk away awestruck and so full of God's love, because I am walking in the Spirit.

There is no better place to be, my friends! This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said He came to not only give us life but give it abundantly. This is what He wants for you too. And the absolutely and only requirement is to have a willing heart. Doesn’t matter where you are coming from, because Jesus is more interested in where He wants to take you.

When the Holy Spirit gives you that nudge, just say yes, then do what He asks. That's it. The results and outcome are not up to you. He already has that covered, just like He did for Peter.

Trust Jesus and take a step of faith. As you do this more, you will find that your fear will turn into anticipation as you begin to look for your next divine appointment. You won’t want to miss a single one—that’s my prayer now, “Lord, don’t let me miss a divine appointment.”

My precious SUMites, I want you to fully experience this kind of life and I am asking Jesus to meet each of you right where you are. Share in the comments how Jesus is meeting you and what He’s asking you to do. Now is the time to stand strong in prayer over each other because God is calling us up as a community to be part of His Great Harvest. I don’t want any of you to miss out on a single bit of it!

Love you with the passion of Jesus in my heart! 

Dineen

And now for some worship!


Chronicles Of A Humbled Donovan

Okay….. So, ahem…

You know what ALWAYS happens when I share teaching with you. I live it out… Well, this series on taking a step into the Jordan is no exception.

So today I’m going to share with you an experience that has opened up a giant hole in my heart that only our merciful and loving God can fill. And I wonder if some of you will find this hole exists in your heart as well? Travel this path with me today because I bet it reveals something within you that you didn’t know existed.

Let me set the stage. Many of you know my friend, Maria. I’ve introduced her here before. She has a healing and deliverance ministry through a large church in San Diego where they help women who are emerging from the adult films industry. Pornography is, of course, an open door to demonic oppression. Maria prays and delivers many of these women and they find healing and wholeness in Jesus. AMEN.

I had lunch with Maria this week. This woman is quite insightful and we began a discussion about rejection. She and I have talked a lot about this aspect of pain because we are convinced so much of our hurts, and the lies we believe, our spiritual struggles exist because we have been rejected by someone whom we wanted to love us.

Much of our teaching at retreats and conferences center around this very aspect. And we lead women to discover the truth and identity in Christ and obtain healing.

What I didn’t expect at this lunch with Maria, which by the way included a two and half hour discussion, with prayers, healing and tears (on my part) was that I needed to hear a truth.

Gulp.

This truth hit me so hard when Maria spoke it I literally felt pain in my soul (heart) and I cried right there at the table in Macaroni Grill. Sheesh! I'm sure our poor waiter was thoroughly freaked out. Oh well.

Okay, So let me loosely recap our conversation:

“Maria, I want you to pray for me about an area in my life where I struggle.” I asked. (Yes, I struggle with stuff in my life, just like all of you.)

So, I explained to Maria my struggle, It’s too long to write it out here.

Wouldn’t you know it; Maria turns this whole rejection thing around on me. Ouch!

“Lynn, is this struggle rooted in rejection?”

I think for a minute and then it hits me. “Ah, yes.” I stammer staring at her across the table. You see the light of the Holy Spirit just went on in my heart.

“Maria, I guess I still hold pain in my heart because my husband was not capable of loving me how I needed to be loved.” i.e…. Rejection of my faith…. And likely other areas too. (Just being authentic here.)

Now this is where my world split open.

“Lynn, he likely was never loved in the way you want to be loved. Lynn, it’s most likely that he was rejected way back in his life somewhere, perhaps parents? I don’t know. But Lynn,

He’s hurting.”

How come I’ve never considered the pain and rejection he may be carrying and that he conceals from me? Sometimes God shows me just how utterly selfish I can be.

 

I could bawl my eyes out just typing this.

In an instant God opened up a door into my heart and revealed something that brings me pain and shame. I knew in that instant that I’ve withheld a small part of my love, genuine love, kindness and compassion from my husband. I withheld it out of rejection. Out of some twisted belief that because he didn’t love me how I needed to be loved, that I was justified to withhold part of my love that I could have given him.

“Oh Maria, he IS hurting.” It’s all I could say.

Maria, doesn’t judge me. She loves me. She prays over me. I release my bitterness, the past rejection. Then a new love floods my heart for my hurting husband who has likely never been fully loved and accepted himself.

EVER!

So, that happened on Wednesday. As I write this it’s Thursday morning. My husband is away on a business trip and will arrived home this evening after a grueling work week. He is going to come home to his safe haven, our home. But when he walks in the door tonight, his wife is different.

It is my life’s goal from this day forward to love that man with unconditional and a full and accepting love. My friends, I don’t even know what that looks like right now.

But, I do know what that feels like. My Papa, Daddy, loves me like that. And living in His Presence, His love, is a place where EVERYTHING is okay, good, grace covered and happy. My husband needs to experience this kind of love. It is the very least and the very best that I can give to him.

So as I prayed about all of this today God opened up his Word to me and this is what I read:

FewaJohn 13: 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” 

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 

I sat stunned in my chair. God immediately said to me, “Wash his feet.” And God means this literally as well as to serve my husband with a new love and affection.

So, tonight after my husband’s long business trip as he sits down to watch television, I’m going to quietly kneel before him, remove his shoes, wash his feet, cover them with lotion and place slippers on his feet. I will rise and then kiss him on the lips and tell him how much I love him. I’m going to thank him for working so hard. I will tell him I could love him better and to forgive me for not doing so before now. And I will assure him that I’m going to be better at it in the future. And promise him I will try to do it better and better every day for the rest of our lives.

I’m not sure what will happen but I KNOW that my Daddy is proud. And after all, God does this for me…. every…… single….. day…

Signed, a humble and ever learning servant, Lynn


He is Risen

Awesomeness

Rejoice in the Lord always! And again, I say rejoice!

He IS risen!

I don't know about you, but that reality makes me wanna party like a rock-star (a holy rock-star, of course!). :-D

He is due worship and praise and adulation beyond your wildest imaginations.

Give Him his due today, guys! :-) Celebrate the miraculous truth that Christ lives!  

 

Lord God,

I come before you with such excitement! Such grateful, thankful, overwhelming excitement! My savior lives! He lives! He rose up and left his grave clothes behind! He lives, so that we can too. With You. For all eternity. We worship You, Holy One. We praise Your mighty, matchless name! Thank you Lord that You gave us a sin-bearer and that he willingly took the cup You placed before him. Oh Father we adore you! May we take the spirit of Easter with us every day. May we daily live our lives in remembrance of the sacrifice and in the great freedom of the new covenant of grace. We thank you and we praise you Lord. In Christ's name. Amen.

 HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY, ALL!!!!  

Ro

Rise

It Is Finished

Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we ARE healed. 

AwesomenessThey beat him. They pierced his body. They brutalized him and hung him on a cross. Then they watched him die.

They shamed him. Then they watched him die.

All because of me. 

And he took it. 

All because of me.

I am so convicted when I think of the cost of his love. I am just so convicted... 

But ya'll! Look at the emphasis in the verse. Just look at it. All the abuse Christ took, all the pain he bore, is in the past. It. Is. Finished. Finished. All done. Never to be done again. There is no need, because when my Jesus hung his head on that cross and died, he finished it for all eternity. 

The moment he died, he saved me. He saved you! Because he bore our pain, our shame, our torment, we are continually redeemed. We ARE healed. Are, as in, "in the present state of". It will never be taken from us, the gift of constant pardon from our overwhelming humanity... 

I type this and I am so frustrated because my words fail me. I cannot possibly convey the enormity of what Christ gave us that day on Calvary. My heart just wants to shout - one of those old down home black Baptist church shouts *grins*! And really. If anything is worth a shout, the fact that someone who didn't have to, paid for my mess - and then loved me after it - sure should be. Oh ya'll... As SUMites, this should resonate deeply and convict us beyond explanation. 

Ya'll... 

Tetelestai. It is finished. 

Lord,

I don't know what to say. I don't even know how to come to You right now. How could you ever have loved me so? How could you ever have been so passionate for me? Thank you Lord that it is finished. In Jesus' Name. Amen. 

*insert church-lady shout here* :-) 

Love you.
Ro

 


Remember Me

Remember Me

This is the day before Good Friday. And as I sit and think of what this time must have been like, I have to believe that the Messiah would've wanted to spend his last hours in fellowship with the ones he loved most. I would imagine that they broke bread and fellowshipped as never before... I bet Jesus savored what had to be bittersweet - if not outright painful - moments with his disciples. 

It was about being together. Being together and understanding that what Christ was going to endure was all for them - for US all - so that we would never have to know separation from him. He told them that his body would be broken and his blood shed. He told them to remember - to remember and to testify. 1Corinthians 11: 23-26. 

AwesomenessGang, it's all about remembering him. Remembering that we are under grace now and no longer the law because he was wounded for us. He paid our price so that we could live without fear of the penalty that really is our due. And all that he asks of us is that we not forget - that we go out and tell somebody else about it until he comes again - because by telling his story, we have to always call him back to our minds and our hearts. 

Ladies - and gents- let's spend today in intimate, personal communion with our Lord. Remember him today. Be with him. Lavish him with your love as you recall the great love he carries for you personally. And then find an opportunity to share that beauty with another. Find the opportunity to proclaim him! 

Lord,
We thank you. Draw us into Holy Communion with you today. Remind us as you did your disciples, so that we can go out and remind others. We love you Lord. In your sweet name. Amen.

~Rosheeda Lee


Freedom

All that Christ did, He did so that we would be slaves no more to the law—and more than that, to our own sinful nature. Freedom guys.

1415366_heart_cross_2FREEDOM.

Christ redeemed us so that we could enjoy freedom in this life and the next.

Oh Lord, thank you for Your Son. Thank you that our redeemer chose to love us with a fierce, all consuming, never-be-the-same-again kind of love. Thank You, Messiah, for Your gift to us. We come to You today just to worship You. We come to lavish on You. To adore You. To bask in the beauty of Your presence. Thank You for the gift of freedom—freedom to experience this life on Your terms and ours alone. Freedom to believe in someone greater than ourselves, freedom from ourselves, freedom to discover Your great grace, Your mighty power, Your all consuming passion and fire. Freedom to live, to move, to be! Hallelujah Lord! Hallelujah! Hallelujah that we are free in Christ! Hallelujah! I praise You, Oh God. Hallelujah. OH JESUS! Glory to Your name, Your holy name! You are righteous, blameless, pure. Everything that I could never be, You ARE! And You gave up Your right-hand seat for me—for my mess, my foolishness, my garbage. Even as You knew that I would reject You with my actions, even as You knew that I would choose myself over You for many, many years, even as you knew that I didn't love You yet, even as You knew that I would never be able to fully comprehend or repay your sacrifice and my great debt to You—even in the face of all that, in the face of ALL THAT, You chose me. You. Chose. Me. Just so that I would be free. Oh God, I am unworthy. I praise You, Lord. Oh, how I praise You. How I worship You. How I adore You. Oh God, Abba Father, I cry out to You right now for more of You. More of You. More and more and more and more of You. Diminish me that You might increase. Live out Your passions in me. Give me new freedoms, new graces, new mercies every day. Be my passion, as I am Yours. Be my passion, Abba. Oh please, be my passion. Oh God there is a fire shut up in my bones and my very marrow cries out to be near You. Don't elude me. Don't hide from me. Fill me up. Fill me up again and again and again until I don't know where I end and You begin. Consume me. Use my freedom in You, for Your glory. Use my freedom in You for Your good pleasure. Take me God and make me free. In Christ's precious, holy, life-changing name, Amen.

—Rosheeda Lee


The Greatest Sacrifice

The word that came to mind for this post was "lent"... So, you guessed it. I started searching and reading and trying to flesh this thing out—and of all that I read and pondered, the one thing that stands out the most is that Lent is time of great sacrifice.

1415366_heart_cross_2Gang, let me tell you, no matter the sacrifices we make to show our gratitude, love, or humility, there is a sacrifice ever so much greater than any we've ever known or will ever be able to duplicate: the sacrifice of a man's life to pay the debt for me and you and everyone who lives. Jesus Christ. He gave His life up for me—for you!

He is the propitiation for our sins. The payment in full of every debt we will ever owe.

That's good news!

That's REALLY good news.

He paid the price so we wouldn't have to...

Father I am so grateful. So grateful. That You love me so much that You would give Your Son for me. That He would willingly bear my shame so that I could live in eternal communion with You. There are no words that can ever adequately convey my thanks. I am humbled, Lord, to know that I could never pay my own way. I could never be good enough or worthy enough in my own right. I could never be holy enough to enter into Your courts on my own. That You gave Christ to be my sin-bearer. I humble myself right now before Your throne and I cry out praises to You, my King. Lord, You are great and greatly to be praised. You are great and greatly to be praised. Oh Father, YOU ARE GREAT, and greatly to be praised. Jesus... Thank you, Jesus. That You gave Your life for me so that I could live with You in eternity. That You became the greatest sacrifice man will ever know so that we would never have to live separate from Your love. Oh Jesus. Messiah. How I praise You. How I thank You. I adore You, Lord. You have loved me with a depth that my heart and mind cannot possibly fathom. I give my life to You. I give myself to You right now and I give You all authority, all power, all dominion. Be the head of my heart and the Lord of my life. May my life be a testimony of gratefulness to You for the greatest act of Love I will ever know. All this in Christ's sweet name. Amen.

— Rosheeda Lee


Special Guest Today! Please Welcome Suzie Eller!

My precious friends, today I want to introduce you to Susanne (Suzie) Eller. She's been a great support to the SUM ministry and now we get to share her with you! Suzie's message of forgiveness in her book, The Unburdened Heart is desperately needed today and by so many. I hope you find answers and comfort in her words below. 

Feel free to leave comments and pray for each other. This is a tough topic. And we'll do a random drawing from the comments for a book winner, who will receive a copy of her book.

Love you all dearly and know you are in my heart and prayers!
Hugs!
Dineen

SE13-1060-682x1024Suzanne (Suzie) Eller is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and author. She’s written six books, hundreds of articles, and writes devos with Encouragement for Today that reaches over 500,000 women. Suzie is a radio co-host with Luann Prater at Encouragement Cafe Joy FM. She encourages women through two Facebook communities reaching over 20,000 five days a week. She’s been featured on TV and radio such as Focus on the Family, Aspiring Women, 100 Huntley Street, KLOVE, MidDay Connection, The Harvest Show, and many others. Most importantly, she is a wife, mom, and “Gaga” to four beautiful grandbabies. Connect with Suzie at www.tsuzanneeller.com

 

Suzie, you’ve been listening to many stories from women who struggle to forgive. How many women struggle with forgiveness in their marriages?
 
Nearly 50% of the women who share their stories on my blog, or in person, say that their biggest struggle to forgive is in their marriage.
 
For many, it’s when a spouse is continually unkind, or says words that diminish her.
 
In this instance, many women bear their soul and are told either to get out, to seek counsel, or to submit.
 
The first leaves a woman who desires to stay and work things out because she loves her husband and wants her marriage to succeed, with a heavier burden. 
 
In the second, seeking counsel is wise advice, as long as it’s counsel that is skilled in helping a couple, with God’s help, find new ground in their marriage. Many times “counsel” can be someone who do not have those skills.
 
The third, to submit, is often shared without proper context. The word “submit” is thrown out without the beautiful framework of instructing husbands to love their wives as “Christ loved the church”. This is why wise counsel is key. Submission is respect, it’s great love, it’s working through the harder spots.
 
So, how do you begin to forgive in this instance?
 
It’s a blend of truth, grace, and confidence.
 
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that abuse is allowed to continue. However, he’s not yours to fix, and that’s where we often spend our energies.
 
What can you do then? You can speak the truth. Truth is shared, perhaps in the setting of a counselor’s office, or perhaps in a moment where it’s not heated, after prayer and with love, and with the intent of working toward a healthier relationship. Truth is coated with grace, knowing that we all fall short. It’s shared with wisdom and without accusation. And in some instances, it’s shared with healthy boundaries, not to punish, but to work toward the healthiest relationship possible. (A great book on boundaries that is both healthy and filled with wisdom is Boundaries in Marriage by Cloud and Townsend.)
 
What about unfaithfulness?
 
A percentage of that 50% wrote in that they struggled to forgive because of unfaithfulness. I shared Carlie’s story, a woman whose husband left her after 29 years of marriage. In this case, the word forgive meant that God moved into the broken and raw places of His daughter. He knew her. He knew her heart. She intentionally walked into a relationship with God during that painful time so that He could fill up her “temple”, residing in Her, healing her, moving in her in those moments when she wanted nothing more than to take revenge, or lash out. In Carlie’s case, her husband went on with his new life, but she also had new life that filled her up in the harder months ahead. She was redefined in so many ways – single mom, single woman. But her role as God’s daughter was made that much more clear and concrete.
 
Unburdened-Heart_GrassSky_smallFor those whose spouse asked for forgiveness and who desired to change, forgiving is key as you rebuild trust. But give yourself permission to be honest with your heavenly father, with the understanding that there is nothing in scripture that condones unfaithfulness. It’s not in God’s plan or His character. If He grieves over the fallen sparrow (Matt. 10:29), then He grieves over your marriage. He is big enough to handle your honesty while leading you to a new level of spiritual intimacy with Him and even tender vulnerability in your relationship with Him as you work through this harder aspect of forgiving. At this moment, it may seem impossible to forgive on your own, but are you willing? That’s the only question that you need to answer. God is a Healer, and my prayer is that your marriage goes to a new place, but also that you sense God’s hand over you as you work through this difficult place, and that one day you look back and see His tender touch over you and your marriage.
 

Read chapter one of Suzie's book.

Listen to Suzie share her journey to forgiveness.

 


Weekend Worship — A Testimony

IStock_000017809995XSmallMy precious friends, I can't believe Christmas is so close! As the day draws closer, I'm trying to keep my heart and mind wrapped around the miracle that God brought so long ago and keep my eyes open for the ones He's doing right now. 

I want to share one with you. My rep at a magazine publishing group that I 've worked with sent me a Merry Christmas message by email, and I almost didn't reply back out of "busyness." I'm so glad I obeyed the nudge to reply back, because it opend a dialogue for a brother in Christ to share his story and offer encouragement to our SUM community. 

My friends, read this and receive the wonderful encouragement that God, our Abba Daddy, wants to you. I know this will speak to at least one woman out there who needs to read this. My friend, God brought you here to read this today for a reason. Believe it and know that your Lord has not missed a moment of your pain or your faithfulness. Whatever He is calling you to do, trust Him for the results. Just take that first step of faith and let Him do the rest.

And thank you to Jeff for serving God so faithfully and being willing to share so openly:

I saw the Q&A you did on FamilyFiction.com and your website www.SprituallyUnequalMarriage.com. As someone that put my wife thru HECK for a number of years till I surrendered to God. My heck was not normal heck—sexual addiction, anger issues, spiritual dysfunction issues. Encourage women that no situation is too tough for God. I was so far gone, yet it was my wife’s love and prayers and tough love that got me to the place I wanted real change to happen. The result is I am in Bible school at night, and we adopted 2 kids from Ukraine in 2010. That is the fruit of a life yielded and a marriage transformed!

God is so good! Is that not amazing? 

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. — Ephesians 3:20-21

Our Lord is Able!
Merry Christmas, my dear friends. I love you so very much!
Dineen 

 

Love this music video from Third Day. This song is actually based upon a true story. The song the man heard on the radio was a Third Day song!


Who’s Your Daddy?

IStock_000018122105XSmallOkay, I’m totally ripping off Lynn and some tacky song thing, right? But it’s what popped into my head and those are usually my best lines. (wink)

With that said, I’m going to share a few tidbits of my past that, well, I really didn’t plan or want to but God’s giving me the nudge to be even more authentic with you. And I blame Lynn. LOL!

Just like Lynn shared about her “daddy” issues, I’ve had the same challenge as well. My mother and birth father divorced when I was two. I did see my birth father periodically, but it wasn’t an easy situation because he was mentally ill (later diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic).

I don’t remember a whole lot, but I know my mother had it rough keeping food on our table and remarried when I was around four or five, mostly for security. Didn’t work out for very long (it was clear to Mom and I both he wasn’t too keen on having a kid around).

The man I called “Dad” up until two and half years ago when he passed away from cancer was actually my step-dad. He and my mother married when I was eleven. I’m so grateful for this man. Though his own father walked out on him when he was a young boy, he did a good job filling the gap of father in my life, especially without having a good role model. It wasn’t easy for him though. He was always dad, and I was always his daughter, and my girls’ Papa. No "steps" about it.

Whew! Done with the backstory. And please don’t think I share this for attention or pity. I admit in my past I had times of sharing this for that reason but not anymore. I share it because it’s important to the rest of this story.

Fast forward to 2002. I’m at a Women of Faith conference, having a blast with my two best friends from church. We’re singing and worshiping and bam! It’s like my life zips right in front of my eyes. All the rejection I’d experienced as a child and teenager flashed across my mind's eye like a depressing movie from the ‘70s (Am I the only one who hates movies from that time period? So depressing. Blech!)

Anyway, it’s not the past I thought would have “scrolled” through the dank dungeon of my past—you know, all the school yard junk and issues with school and not fitting in, etc.) Nope, it was to do with the three men who’d played the roll of father in my life.

Needless to say it wasn’t pleasant. Thank goodness it happened fast! As it reached the end, Jesus (my first encounter with Him, though I was saved and had recommitted my life to Him almost 10 years prior) spoke to my heart these words:

“I will never reject you.”

Like the story I shared of what happened to me at Bethel, this ripped something out of me that God didn’t want festering there anymore. But more importantly, He knew I needed to hear this/know this/believe this because otherwise I would never be able to trust Him.

My friend, this was the beginning of God working things in my life so that I could one, learn to trust Him, and two, begin to grasp how deeply I am loved by Him. I’m still grasping it.

I know many of you out there reading this have similar stories. That’s the sad part, so many of us do. When we have a broken image of our father here on earth, it’s hard to grasp that our heavenly Father is nothing at all like an earthly father.

I will even go as far as to say this (and feel free to correct me if you think I’m too far “out there): We know the enemy of our soul targets marriage in huge ways, namely because it is something God designed to reflect our relationship with Him. What if the enemy is doing the same thing with our relationships with our fathers? With our children’s relationship with their father?

We see a growing trend in our culture today of absentee fathers. Of men struggling to stay in the church, to be in the church, to be the spiritual leaders of our families. I believe the enemy is attacking this area too because this father image is something else God uses in the Bible to reflect our relationship with Him.

Think about it? The biggest symbols used in the Bible—marriage and fatherhood—that show God’s love for us are the two areas most at risk. And the recovery from this takes time, as Lynn and I have shared. God has had to work in us to undo the lies and replace it with His love and His truth.

So this is what we want you to know, more than anything, right now, right here. God loves you. He made you. He can’t make things He doesn’t love and He doesn’t do shoddy work either. Nor does His love rest upon our performance because if it did then we wouldn’t need grace and Jesus suffered and died on a cross for no reason at all.

Know in your heart of hearts that you were fashioned by His hand out of a love that is all encompassing, unimaginably perfect and so incredibly powerful and passionate that we won’t fully understand it until we are with Him in Heaven. Nor can we be separated from it.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38-39
God wants you to grasp this now. Right now. Because until we do, we will use everything and anything to fill this gap to find fulfillment. Our husband, our children, our friendships, our work, the opinions of others—I know this because I’ve lived it.

Our Lord and Savior wants us to walk in freedom and victory (It is for freedom that He came to set us free. Gal. 5:1). Not when all our problems are solved. Not when our prebelievers finally accept Jesus into their heart. And certainly not when we think we’ve got it all together.

He wants this for us right now, right in the middle of all our imperfections and all our trials and challenges. And we can do that with Him through His love.

My prayers started with asking God to heal me and make me whole. I prayed to understand His grace better. I prayed for Him to help me love Him more, to free me from my fears, and to make me a bold and confident person, because I was so tired of my insecurities. I want more of God than anything else in my life. Not an easy prayer but I promise you it is one He will honor and love to hear come from your heart.

So my friends, I will leave this too long post right here with what I hope will encourage you to pursue God like never before. It starts with prayer and if you’re not sure what to pray for first, ask the Holy Spirit to show you. Pray and then believe He’s doing this in you. It won’t be something you can do on your own, make a plan to conquer, or figure out the missing key and, viola!, it’s fixed. (Trust me, I tried!)

No, the healing, deliverance, and change will come when you least expect it because it will be totally and completely God doing it. Rest in Him. Trust Him. Let Him do it.

And He will love you all the way to freedom and beyond. Because really and truly, He is our Father, our Abba, our Daddy.

Praying and believing for you!
Dineen


Weekend Worship — Let Your Love Loose!

HandHoldingCrossLike Lynn said in yesterday's post, love has the power to conquer all. As I read that a fuller impact of what it means really hit home. This is something I've known since a child. Not sure how other than God just wired me that way, but I never fully understood what kind of love can do that until I began walking with Jesus and studying the Bible.

The mind blowing part of this is the beauty in the way it works. It's part of the beautiful mystery of who God is and how He works. His love funnels down to us through His Son, Jesus, so when we invite Christ into our hearts, that love now dwells in us. 

I mean, think about it. First John 4:7-21 is one of the most powerful pieces of Scripture, my humble opinion. It says repeatedly that God is love. If Jesus is living in us, that means this powerful love, this agape love that's so strong and sacrificial that it drove Jesus to the cross to save us, lives in us as well. This is what I believe, again in my humble opinion, is meant by what Paul says in Ephesians 1:18-21 where he speaks of the very power that raised Jesus from the dead.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (emphasis mine)

That's the most powerful kind of love I can even being to comprehend! The kind of love that brings the dead back to life! A dead heart, a dead marriage...

This is the miraculous part of walking with Jesus and this is the power that lives in us—to love with a miraculous and supernatural love that defies the world, that defeats the enemy of our souls and shines like the brightest beacon in the darkest places.

So, my precious friends, let your love loose! Let that love that God has placed in you free. Ask Him to bring it on and let love flow through you to everyone in your home and everyone you meet. Do this and watch your world change and when  you change your world, you will impact those around you. 

Through God's love living in us, we have the power to change our lives, our marriages and the world. So let your love loose!

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. — 1 Cor. 16:13-14

Loving with you and loving YOU!

Dineen 

Now let's WORSHIP!


How Much Does Jesus Love You?

Heart&CrossFor the last several months I’ve heard a constant theme about love from Christians all over the world. God is speaking very loudly to His children right now and the message is about His love and His call to love people.

The message is everywhere and, in my opinion, is unmistakably a sign of His presence at work, shifting the family of God to a new awareness that I believe is about becoming more about what we are for than what we are against.

And what we need to be about, my friends, is God’s love. The agape kind of love that isn’t possible on our own steam. But we can pray for it. We can ask God to help us love others like Jesus loves them. If you want to know how to love people, study the Bible and “watch” how Jesus interacts and loves the ones He met.

One of my favorite stories is of the rich young ruler. As this man questions Jesus again about what he must do to gain eternal life, before Jesus even answers him, He loves the man.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." — Mark 10:21

In order to love like this I believe we need to first understand how deeply God loves us. This has been true for me because I don’t have a dramatic salvation story. I was a good and obedient little girl and teenager. I didn’t get into trouble. I was an overachiever. I did everything “right,” for the most part. (I feel like Paul here when he says he was the most zealous of Pharisees. And I could have easily been one.)

God reached me when I needed Him emotionally. But I had a long journey ahead to really understand how deeply God loved me. Sometimes we get so used to hearing the crucifixion story that we lose our appreciation of it. But when we begin to appreciate the full scope of what we’ve been given without having done anything on our part, we begin to grasp the depth of God’s love in the barest sense because I don’t think we are even capable of fully understanding it this side of heaven.

Let me share something that hit me this week. John 1 speaks of who Jesus is:

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. — John 1:3

Then we come to verses 10-11:

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

“His own” is a reference to the Jews, but this goes even deeper than the Jews and Gentiles. The first part of John 1 tells us that nothing was made without Jesus, that all things were made through Him. That includes you, me and every single person who has ever lived on this earth and ever will live on this earth. The people He walked among, the ones who rejected him, persecuted Him, the ones who plotted against Him—He made every one of them.

So here’s where my writer’s brain took a trip. As Jesus walked among the people, did He remember creating each one? Did He remember the thought and care as He crafted each person? What He intended each one to be and the potential He placed in each one? What was it like for Him to walk among the very beings He created only to have them reject Him?

Jesus knew why He was coming. Knew what He would face as He walked as a man, yet still fully God. And He still loved everyone He met.

He still does. He doesn’t ask us to change first or to become acceptable in His sight (as if we ever could). He doesn’t give us a list of requirements and expectations to meet first and then decide if He loves us.

He just loves us. Completely, totally, whether we know Him or not. That is “agape” love. That is the love that Jesus gives us. That is the love Jesus wants to do through us to love everyone we meet because He lives in us. To love our spouse, our children, our neighbor and even that stranger at the grocery story. God wants to give us His eyes of love so that when we look at others, when we truly stop and see them, we will love them. Even the difficult ones.

It’s the whole reason Jesus stepped down from His throne of power, entered the world as a helpless baby, subjected himself to rejection, torture and death from the hands of the ones He created, so that we would have no doubts of how deeply we are loved.

Why else would He endure all this unless He loves us that much? The more we embrace what Jesus sacrificed and endured to save and show us the depths of His love for His creation, the more we begin to love those in our lives and those we meet.

Just as they are and just a little more like Jesus does.

I love you, my friends, with the love of Jesus!
Dineen