188 posts categorized "Salvation"

A Word: God is Calling our Spouses.

Hello friends, Ann here.Record

Today I’m continuing from my post last week about this blog being like a wonderful museum of God stories. If you missed it you can catch up here. In that post, I described how God has given our community the occasional prophetic word over the years: words of wisdom or promises specifically for us, the SUM Nation.

It’s such encouraging stuff. We have the Bible, but we also have access to hearing his voice. When we do receive a word from the Holy Spirit, it’s helpful to go back and re-examine it. For example, there might be an instruction for us in there that we'd forgotten and by reviewing his words we can make sure we're doing all we can to partner with him. 

I guess it’s all part of what it means to be in relationship with him. What an adventure!

Today, I’m smiling so much as I share with you the first prophetic word I could find on this blog. It’s from 2012, and it’s just a few words that the Lord spoke to Dineen; in fact, it was shortly before the turning point that I mentioned last week. Here are the words:

Tell the SUMites that I am calling their spouses.

You can read Dineen’s explanation more fully here. But, very simply, this is his promise to us: He is calling them. He is calling them.

Now we might be bouncing up and down, thinking, "Yes, but I’d like to know whether my spouse is going to become a Christian any time soon?" [laughing] It’s as if God asks us instead to pause, take a breath, and just listen to what he wants us to know. He wants us to know that he is calling them. [Deep breath]. So what does that mean?

As I read Dineen's write-up of the word, I understand from it that we are to trust and rest. We know that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them, and this thing is in motion. Our response can be: “Thank you, Father. You are calling them. And I know that in time your voice will become louder, your knock will become louder.”

The Lord will often leave space for mystery when he speaks. But sometimes he will give us a bit (as he did here) and then more later. Indeed, a few years later he gave us some clearer promises about our spouses' salvation and I will pull those out soon.

Back to 2012, a most curious thing happened next: Just three weeks after writing up that word, Dineen was driving in the center lane of an 8-lane road at 8am when out of the corner of her eye she saw a man cross the road from the opposite side. He stopped in the middle of the road, fell to his knees and lifted his arms in a gesture of worship. Here's the story. It was totally startling and strange. Could it be that it was a little extra confirmation as we look back? It was primarily a personal blessing for Dineen at the time, but for us SUMites I wonder if we could also use it as a visual of a spouse crossing over, from unbelief to belief.

All I know is that God is calling. 

Now, there was a second part to this word about God calling, an instruction for us:

Lift up your faces!

“Lift up your eyes, and look to the heavens” (Isaiah 40:26, NIV)

My friends, this is to be our way of walking, to lift up our faces and look at Heavenly things. That is something for us to ask God's help with, and perhaps we can linger there by re-reading Dineen's posts above. For now, here are some fitting words from those posts:

“What if that lift of our eyes is a constant state of awareness – constantly looking for God in our everyday lives? What if we looked for God’s hand and provision each day for the prayers we sent up just that morning. What if we waited expectantly for God to just show up in some way each and every day?”

I will leave it there. I guess I take from this that we are to marinate in the idea that God is calling our spouses, and we are to lift our faces. And perhaps we are to take a little time to chew over these two ideas. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Nice chatting!

Ann


Welcome Listeners of Chris Brooks on Moody Radio

Marching Around Jericho Cover 3DIt’s an honor and privilege to share with the listeners on the Equipped show with Chris Books, Moody Radio, the amazing journey I took marching around Jericho and my unsaved spouse's faith journey. Chris is an amazing host and our conversation covered many aspects of living and praying for our unsaved spouses.

VISIT THE BROADCAST PAGE: Praying For Your Unsaved Spouse.
Chris Brooks & Lynn Donovan

The broadcast interview will be Tuesday, July 7 from 1 to 2 pm CENTRAL; 11-12 noon PACIFIC time. Visit the station and listen in: Moody Radio

Welcome to all who have come to this church without walls, to find love, encouragement and hope for your marriage.

If you are new, grab your copy of Marching Around Jericho, and start your march this week. Also, visit our new here page and find our community. Leave a prayer request in the comments and we will pray for you. You can connect in a number of ways through the blog comments, on Facebook, Instagram.

If you want more information and free resources to help you on your march visit, MarchingAroundJericho.com. Click on the Equipping center.

Chris brooks Equipped

I’m deeply thankful to Chris Brooks and Moody Radio for allowing me to share the hope I have. And to share that we can learn to love, live and thrive in faith and our marriages while we pray for our spouse’s salvation

Love and hugs, Lynn Donovan

Start your march today, MarchingAroundJericho.com

You can find more of my Kingdom teaching at lynndonovan.com


SUMite Easter Service

SUM Easter Service 2020Hello SUM Nation,

Lynn Donovan here. I wanted to let you know that our Facebook Team and I will be steaming a LIVE service on Easter Sunday. Amanda Pace, Gladys Arias, Libby Finan, Ann Hutchison and Lynn Donovan

April 12, 2020

3 PM Eastern - Noon PM Pacific USA

On the SUM main FB Page ----> SUM FB

And also on the SUM Sisters Group ----> SUM SISTERS (Request Membership)

We will worship together and then the five of us will share short messages and then I will wrap up the service. I want to share what our Good Father is doing in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak. And also tell you what God is revealing to me about what is to unfold in the months that follow our Stay-at-home weeks.

It's bigger than you think!!! Also, we will take communion so have your elements ready. A piece of bread and a grape will work. Any bread and juice. I'm going to explain something about communion that most people don't know. 

Also, have you listened to all the videos and worked through the Field Guides I created on MarchingAroundJericho.com?   Please hop over there and listen in. And if you have, consider supporting the ministry and purchase the next series of videos and Field guides. It all goes to support the ministry. 

Here is what you will learn about in the next series. And I'll tell you the Holy Spirit video is a demonstration of God's power. AND PS. God told me to demonstrate and God showed up. I'm still freaked out and it all happened to me.

  • The Power of Forgiveness
  • Spiritual Authority In Christ Jesus
  • Spiritual Power and Partnering With the Holy Spirit
  • The Power of Our Voice
  • Speaking in Tongues

All the video titles can be viewed here: Marching Around Jericho/ Equipping Warriors


Supernatural Happenings

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Photo supplied courtesy of imagery majestic and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hi! Ian here. Lent began last Wednesday with Ash Wednesday. I’m observing this season once again as I enjoy being intentional about seeking more of God and Lent and Advent seem to help me do that. Yes, I ‘give up’ something (sugar and Instagram this year) as it helps me focus on the wilderness element of the season; Lent, of course, mirroring the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness.

But this isn’t a post about Lent rather a sense I’ve had in the past week about stirrings within me that I thought I’d share. Recently, I’ve read a couple of short passages on the supernatural happenings of God. Abraham and Sarah only birthed Isaac through supernatural intervention. Mary and Joseph birthed Jesus only through supernatural intervention. Paul and Barnabas’ ministry work that took the Gospel to the Gentiles is attributed to supernatural means (Acts 14: 27)

And here in SUMite land we read in Ann’s previous post of some of our tribe’s spouses experiencing a revelation of God in being saved. Hallelujah! Yes, salvation requires a supernatural happening as it is not something that will occur in the natural.

How Does This Happen?

If we look at the lives of Abraham and Sarah, Mary and Joseph, Paul and Barnabas, what can we glean?

Deep intimacy with God

They all had their wilderness experiences. God uses these times to clear everything else away so we can be with Him. He wants us to let go of control so He's in charge. Interestingly, in Mary’s experience it was after she was impregnated supernaturally as we really didn’t know about her prior to her angelic encounter.  Similarly, Paul’s wilderness time was after his miraculous Damascus experience. God had to deal with his years of being a Christian terrorist before unleashing him on the Gentile world.

As frustrating and painful being in the wilderness can be, step into it. It’s a clear tactic of God’s to draw people closer to Him, so He can equip them for something more. Such seasons can involve unemployment, illness, relocation, sabbaticals and more.

Remember God wants deep intimacy with each one of us. It’s why He made us. For Himself.

This is why I love Lent because I get excited about being with God. Like one of our kids gets excited when Dad or Mom arrives home from work. Remember those days?

What do I do?

1. Soak in His Word – look at Psalm 1:

“Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.” (v2-3 MSG)

I love that idea of the Word thrilling me? I want it to thrill me everyday. The Word is alive with supernatural wonder desiring to reveal Himself to us. Reflect on Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness and how He batted back the temptations Satan put before Him: He used the Word. Don’t just rely on wonderful devotionals where it’s someone else’s interpretation that fills most of the page; read God’s word in the Bible. If you’re not sure where to start, start with the Gospel of John and/or the Psalms. I’ve been reading the Psalms repeatedly for the last three or four years; I just can’t get enough of them.

2. Spend time Adoring God

Talking about the Word thrilling you, there's a lady who helps us bring the Word alive. I’ve mentioned Sara Hagerty’s before. She's been on this “Adoration” journey for over five years now. She provides a monthly one-verse a day adoration prompt. It’s how I’ve started my day for the last five years.

Sara says: “Adoration is finding a pulse behind that Word and then saying that Word back to Him, in our own dialect … it all starts with a simple conversation, a friendship that ends in our destiny: falling in love with God.”

Try it for a few days, a month. Sit and speak the daily verse back to God. Thank Him, praise Him, adore Him using the words in the verse. 

3. Spend time Listening to God

My hunch is that the modern church lacks listening skills. In some ways it goes hand-in-hand with a lack of Bible awareness, we ‘listen’ to the Word when we read it. I discovered recently that the word, obedience, comes from a Latin word which means: “to listen attentively”. My logical brain tells me that if we lack listening skills, we’re lacking in obedience. And what does Jesus tell us is the way we demonstrate our love for Him?

“If you love Me, keep My commands” (John 14:15)

Jesus tells us that the sheep know His voice. But it takes time to learn to discern His voice and that’s why knowing and meditating on the Word is so important.

May I encourage you to use some of the time you wait, perhaps it’s in the school pickup line, at the grocery store, in the medical clinic, etc just to be quiet and invite God into this moment and say hi! And ask him a question or two. He may not answer immediately, especially in the beginning, but over time you’ll be surprised to find how many times He does give you an answer.

Let me stop there.

Believe the supernatural will happen. Think how often Lynn finds balloons on her prayer walks.:) Keep being intentional connecting with God. He wants it more than anything. Believe that deep in your heart. He made each one of us so we would fall in love with Him. I'm praying that we all will develop greater intimacy with the Lord and that He is indeed birthing something in each of us and our spouses that only He can bring to life!

Anyone else observing Lent this year? If yes, what are you doing to be intentional in drawing closer to the Lord? Please share in the comments.


Salvations in Our Community: What's Next?

Hi friends, Ann here! Kid gloves

There’s a curious thing happening in our ministry right now: We're seeing significantly more spouse salvations than we have before. For years we’ve known it would happen, and now it's visible. We’re seeing it mentioned in emails or on closed Facebook groups; that's how we know.

It started about a year ago. Before then, we’d had the occasional salvation posted on here, and often it was a story with a wow factor. Those stories helped us keep going, which we badly needed. But what we're now seeing is a quieter kind of conversion.

What’s happening with the current shift is that the stories are not being posted because the process is intense and private. One SUMite described it as feeling like she’d finally made fire, and now she needed to cup her hands around it and protect it at all costs. 

The shift comes at an interesting time. It’s a time where many are hearing God say He is bringing global revival and doing a new thing in the church. It occurs to me that revival might not be instantly visible because it happens first within hearts. For a community like ours we might be some of the first to see it because we have this online ministry and recognize change easily. What we’re seeing right now is spouses begin to turn their hearts, and a few have already been baptized. Others have publicly accepted Jesus.

From this steady trickle of salvations, I’m learning some lessons. The first is that I may have dearly wanted salvation, but it might not be as I expect. I should prepare for hiccups, stops and starts. Here's an analogy I keep thinking of:

If salvation is like a baby being born (John 3:3-5), the last bit where the baby passes through is especially tough for all involved; and then there’s the afterbirth. If we’re the midwives catching the baby, we’ll have to get to work: check the baby is breathing, give it its injections, make sure it can feed, clean up the mess. It’s serious.

On that point (thinking of midwives and their equipment), I hear God say this for us:

I’m giving you new kid gloves.

Yes, kid gloves are what we’ve used while 'winning without words' but now perhaps it’s a time for a new set that look more like pragmatic midwife gloves. Our new season will require delicacy, but instead of delicate evangelism it’s now to be delicate discipleship. Because many of our spouses are natural skeptics, it might be harder than discipling an eager churchgoer. There may also be the mess of spiritual battle. Well, friends, we are duly equipped with new kid gloves! Gloves for His new kids.

I'll share this: My own adult conversion was hard, so I feel for anyone who changes late in life. I myself faced intense doubt to the point of torment. I struggled with church culture. I had to handle issues like, "That Christian over there behaves really badly!" And then, the topic of Satan did it for me: In my mind it was just too far-fetched. However, then I realized Satan was real, and that was even worse. The day I realized demons existed was a bad day in the office. At that point I wanted to jump on the nearest boat, like Jonah, and sail away (Jonah 1:3). Except I couldn’t, which made it all the worse.

My conversion involved things like going to church, seeing people abandon their dignity just like King David did in heartfelt worship (2 Samuel 6:14) and thinking to myself, "If I go any further with God, I’ll be that.” All of these mental complexities happened while I had a prayer life with God, but it was just such a leap to go further with Him.

So as I write I'm sitting here thinking this thing won’t be a walk in the park. After all, when a person turns to God they have to respond to a call to bow their knee and to do that they have to decide if they believe it enough and want it enough. This means that they might stop for a while before carrying on. Salvation is a deep matter of the heart, and the path may be winding.

Nevertheless, it's a very exciting time for us. Now I'd love to hear from you, SUM friends -- Are you seeing it too? What do you think we can expect?

Nice chatting!

Ann


Welcome to our Summer Study on Esther

Hi everyone, Ann here. Esther

What an amazing 24 hours of worship we had on Tuesday/Wednesday. I’m writing this just after finishing my hour. The house is quiet, and I’m at peace. How impactful it was to spend an hour thinking about God. There was nothing else but Him. Not even an inkling of my 'stuff. Just Him.

I’m writing today with a change in gears. It’s time for our summer study on the Book of Esther, and I have the pleasure of kicking it off. Lynn will post next, and we’ll take turns. Many will remember we studied this book two years ago (April 2017) but we seem to hear ‘Esther’ again. I’m helping with the writing as I have a little more time than usual this month. So, are you sitting comfortably? I am!

I’ve been praying for this first post, that the Holy Spirit will show us what He wants us to see; and, in praying, this is what came to mind:

Esther’s story is like a chess game. God is the smartest player. Satan is weak. But Satan still plays the game. When a pair is this mismatched in battle, we know whose victory will come: CHECK MATE!

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37.Chess players

Esther’s story occurs in the time of the Medes and Persians, most likely 483BC. Intriguingly, the timing has been a little elusive to historians. They have debated the identity of Esther’s husband, King Ahaseurus. That alone gives the book an air of mystery. The names of the key players are not the same as known historical Persian figures. That’s not to say it’s not true, just elusive. Alongside this, God is not mentioned; yet He is symbolised throughout. He is a hand behind the scenes, somewhat concealed.

So, the book has playful secrets. Its famous verse is “For such a time as this”, and yet historians can’t confirm the timing!  It’s as if God invites us to chase Him for it, to play hide and seek, asking, “What time is it, Lord?”

I wonder if you’re like me, and ask: “Lord, what time are we in now? What time of church history and Kingdom expansion are we in?”

The book of Revelation feels the same. There are clues, but we have to strain hard and get on our knees to find out more. What we do know is that Esther’s story is set in Persia, modern-day Iran. The empire is enormous, extending into Africa, Europe and Asia, absorbing Jerusalem. This is as Daniel prophesied: The rule of a powerful foreign empire is upon them (Daniel 2:39). It’s quite possible that Daniel was there, in the city of Shushan, watching and praying for Esther -- An elderly man who in younger days conquered lions. That thought completely intrigues me.

In this powerful territory, then, live the Jewish people, God’s chicks. They’re scattered; some are in Jerusalem but there is a substantial number in Persia. They all live under foreign rule, but God’s eyes never leave them. He broods over them like a mother hen, remembering His beloved Abram: 

“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

Those in the know should say, “don’t bother coming against Abram’s children; it won’t go well for you,” but who in Persia remembers that? God does allow slavery, but annihilation is something different. His "NO!" booms in the heavenlies. Satan, the enemy of our souls, can’t help himself, though. The thought of the Jews birthing the Messiah makes him scream in rage. His mission? Jewish extinction.

Satan’s plan is enacted through a prideful and powerful character, Haman. But God’s plans are enacted through a humble girl, Esther. Satan moves. God moves. Satan moves. God moves. And as this happens, mysteries get unravelled, bit by bit.

Phew, what a ride. Friends, I will pause it there. I’m excited about Lynn’s post on Monday, to hear what she sees. We’re unrolling the scroll of Esther, prayer by prayer, post by post. It seems apt, as this book is known by the Jews by a beautiful Hebrew name: Megillah. It means ‘The scroll’.

Now here’s a curious question to keep us going:

How easy is it to believe that there is an unfolding ‘check-mate’ in your own life situation? 

We'll chat in the comments!

Ann


A Shiny New Legacy

Hi friends, Ann here! God what's on your heart

It’s my turn to write this week and I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you a crazy story. I hope it makes you smile.  

Back in April, after our ‘Hear the Roar’ conference, I landed home with a spinning head. So much had happened, and I had a sense that it was truly a new season in this ministry. I was also unwell during that time, so once home I spent hours in bed. Those sick days turned into quality time with God, and I lay with three great things: prayer, pen, and notepad.

On one such day I lay pondering and scribbling when suddenly God interrupted me with the most random phrase. Call me nuts, but this is what I heard:

He was called Snake but his legacy is different.

I’m smiling (Crazy or God?!) It was so random I thought I’d better write the phrase down. In fact, I wrote the phrase slap-bang in the middle of the page, surrounded by other thoughts about the new season and how we are hope carriers. 

Looking at that page now I can see I was, indeed, extremely excited. I don’t normally sit there writing random words onto a blank sheet of paper in such an enthused manner. BUT, I’d just had a free trip to California and ended up hearing Lynn’s testimony. It was a full-on time. The page had words of hope scribbled all over it and, right in the middle, that strange sentence about a changed legacy.

Back to my story. Shortly after writing that phrase down, I turned the page and promptly forgot about it. Forgot, that was, until two days later when a delightful ‘coincidence’ occurred.

I was on Facebook, accepting a friend request from a fellow believer. I closed Facebook straight after that, but then opened it later. When I opened it, there was an article she had shared, staring me in the face. I did a double take. The words in front of me said this:

“They used to call him Snake – Not any more!”

My mouth dropped open, eyebrows shot up. I shook my head, blinked, and then thought I’d better read. I carried on to see this:

“Snake Colson: Proof God can do anything. How God transformed a mean, no-good drunk into a mighty man of God.”

At this point I was beaming. This was becoming a super-cool God moment. In fact, I’m posting the link to it the article itself, so you can read it. It's a goodie: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=1905811983070894&story_fbid=2278722972446458

“Snake Colson” was, in fact, Donnie Colson, a pastor from Community Chapel Church, Illinois. “Snake” was his nickname from his years of adulthood as a troubled drunk. He was bad news, and known for it. But then he encountered Jesus, and became good news. Now he is widely loved as a mighty man of prayer.

What a great reminder that no situation is beyond change. But, dusting off my piece of paper, I wonder if there is more to learn from this? The phrase I heard from God specifically pointed me to the issue of legacy. In writing today’s post, then, it occurred to me to go back to the Facebook article and see what people had to say about Donnie Colson. Their comments reveal a man’s beautiful legacy, and one that’s celebrated. Here are a few comments, copied:

“I absolutely love him!!! He baptised me.”

“He used to drink with my dad many, many years ago and led my dad to the Lord. I just love him.”

“He is simply and quietly there for so many. His prayers are often answered.”

“He’s a fine person. He does a lot. Hospital. Daily or Weekly. He’s always there. God made him special.”

“What a man of God!”

“I’ve known this man all my life. I’m proud to be able to call him my Brother in Christ, and proud to say he is my cousin!”

“Love this pastor so much. Once had a pastor tell me no matter what time I get to the hospital to pray for the sick Donnie has already been there.”

All I can say is, Praise God! And, there are even more legacy comments on that Facebook link. When God comes into someone's life it's a new day and their whole legacy is made new. Reading his story thoroughly inspired me -- Inspired me to run this race ever better.  

How about you? How does this story speak to you?

Nice chatting!

Ann


What is Your Life's Impact?

By Ann Hutchison Soil  SUM

“Come to my prayer group!” a lady sidled up to me one day at church, eyeing me closely. It was early in my faith and I had questions. I’d been attending for weeks but still couldn’t help wondering if Christians were nuts to believe. Hers was an invite I decided to accept: She was a lawyer, had a gentle manner, and I figured if anyone was likely to NOT be nuts, it would be her.

So, I duly turned up one evening at a suburban house and rang the doorbell. She and a friend welcomed me in. The friend was a doctor. “Fantastic, another sensible one!” I thought.

I know now that it matters not whether we’re butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, but at that point it helped that these ‘sensible’ women were Christian.

Sensible? Well … um … I got the shock of my life that evening. Unbeknownst to me, these women’s careers were only a disguise: Their real identities were Daughters of God and they knew it. They were a pair of gems. They were also something else: SUMites. Both were pioneering faith in their marriages.

That night, I got to see two warriors up close. They didn’t do anything toooo crazy, but there was a range of high-action stories that involved the Kingdom of Heaven being ‘at hand’. I was barely ready to hear it, it challenged me. But, they surrounded me and prayed their hearts out for me.

Later, I had a spinning mind as I lay in bed thinking about these two. I was contemplating how radical they seemed when I felt God whisper a word:

“Their lives warm the soil.”

“Warm the soil?” I wondered. "Yes", He seemed to say. “They warm the soil of the hearts around them”.

What a thought. It led me straight to the parable of the sower:

“A farmer went out to sow seeds for a harvest. As he scattered his seed, some of it fell on the hard pathway and was quickly trampled down and unable to grow and became nothing but bird seed. Some fell on the gravel, and though it sprouted it couldn’t take root; it withered for lack of moisture. Other seed fell where there was nothing but weeds. It too was unable to grow to full maturity, for it was choked out by the weeds. Yet some of the seed fell into good, fertile soil, and it grew and flourished until it produced more than a hundredfold harvest, a bumper crop.” Luke 8:4-8 (TPT)

That parable tells us that hearts (the soil) often don’t receive the gospel (the seed), or they might abort it after some time. Other hearts receive the gospel and grow good things. But what’s the significance of warmth? Well, I looked it up: When soil is warm, plants grow quicker and receive more water and nutrients. Yes, a human heart has to be ready, but if it’s warm it’s going to be even better -- accelerated. 

Like these two ladies, could it be that our own lives warm our spouse’s heart for its best possible bumper crop? I’m picturing it: I’ve made choices to love but also to persevere with faith; I’ve fought to attend church but I’ve listened to his feelings. When viewed in its entirety, will it warm his heart? ‘Warm’ might not mean my husband feels happy and comfy; rather, it might mean that his heart is being made as ready to carry the gospel as it can possibly be.

Last weekend I gave my testimony at an event. My husband wasn’t thrilled about me leaving him that Saturday, and I felt wobbly. At the same time, I did it because sometimes you have to share. It was yet another tough choice. Uggh.

At the end, a lady came to me. Emotional, she spoke of a couple she knew. It took years for the husband to accept Christ but when he did he told his wife "It was because of the way you lived your life."

There are many testimonies of people whose lives have warmed the soil of their spouse, just like the two sensible-yet-radical women I met years ago, as well as the one I heard of last Saturday. Today, then, I speak this promise here, because I do believe it: SUM family, OUR lives warm the soil.

Can you see it in your own life, or can you see that it will happen in due course? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.


Step Onto The Warrior March

Winning Him SmallSUMites,

I want to release another testimony of a husband baptized. Susan Loyless sent me an email a few weeks ago and her husband went into the water!

Susan wrote me:

It got bad before it got better. In January, the elders of our church prayed for my husband in unity. I felt like we were so close to a breakthrough.

Within a few days, my husband took the kids and left me. I was not welcome in my own home. During that time, the Lord impressed on my heart....is there any place my arm cannot reach?

A few months later, my husband confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and the baptismal waters were stirred.

I love you dearly....praying for grace, favor, blessing and rest.

Love, Susan

Hallelujah.

I also know that Tina U. shared that her husband also was baptized back in March.

Something in the water, Warriors.......

For all of you still marching along, my friend Shayla will be leading a study of, Winning Him Without Words, in May. To join that study on Facebook, at Shayla Ortiz. And if you need a book, click here and order. A small portion is sent to the ministry to further our outreach to spouses who are unequally yoked. 


MORE THAN I COULD HAVE ASKED OR IMAGINED!

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-10-21/c226824b-9256-423e-bfb7-e2ae2cfe4502.png
Shelley Cruze with Husband and Son

By  SUMite, Shelley Cruz

I was raised in a wonderful Christian home but walked away from God as a teenager because I thought that I was missing out on all the fun in life. I married, started my career, bought a home with my husband and had two babies. After 12 years of living for myself, I finally realized that the “fun” and all the other things I used to fill the void were leaving me feeling empty. I knew what I was missing was a relationship with Jesus and in 1996, I rededicated my life to Him. I wanted my children to know Jesus and began to teach them and brought them to church with me. I longed for my husband to know Christ, so I began praying for him.  

Soon after, he began coming to church with me, but it became quickly became apparent that he was only coming to make me happy and to present a unified front to our kids. It was clear that his heart was closed, and it was difficult to have hope. Thankfully, my family and the women in my small group prayed for his salvation too and encouraged me not to give up! So, I continued to pray.

Over the years, I saw seeds being planted in his life with different situations he was in and people that were put into his life; I knew God was at work. However, after many, many years of praying with no change, I would get so discouraged and I’d wonder if this prayer would ever be answered.

And yet, things got even tougher. By the time our son hit the 9th grade, he became very rebellious. At age 17, the problems had come to a climax.  He was out of control and involved all kinds of risky behavior. Our lives were in total chaos due to the constant issues that would consume us, and I felt desperate for God’s wisdom on what to do.  

Unfortunately, it is often hardship that motivates us to want to pray continually. I also was feeling frustrated and disappointed in myself in my spiritual journey. Although I was going to church regularly, involved in Bible study and ministry, I often was inwardly consumed with worry and fear about my son, and sadness and discouragement about my husband. So, I used exercise, entertainment and busyness as distractions.

God began to show me that although I was doing many of the right things as a Christian, I wasn’t doing what was most important, which was spending time every single day in prayer and reading my Bible. My spiritual “roots” were not that deep. I had allowed other things to become first place in my life.

So, I began to make prayer and Bible reading a habit, the first thing I did each morning. I journaled, even the small answers to prayer I was seeing in my life. This began to encourage me as I saw God WAS answering my prayers by giving me peace, wisdom and direction. As I began to make time for God and talk to Him regularly, I found something: my attitude about Bible reading and prayer changed. My desire for that time with the Lord became something I wanted to do instead of something I should do.

Unfortunately, things continued to spiral out of control with our son.  After trying everything we could think of, God helped lead my husband and I to the decision to send our son to a camp for struggling teens. Our hearts were completely broken. This was the most difficult decision we’ve ever had to make, and the next four months were very painful. During the time he was gone, I could see things were starting to change for my husband. His heart was softening to spiritual things. He now wanted to come to church with me regularly, he wanted to read the Purpose Driven Life book that had been sitting on our bookshelf for 10 years, and he was touched by the outpouring of prayer, love and support by the Christians that were in our life.  

Four months later, our son came back from camp and although it was stressful and there were many adjustments, it was clear that he was on a better track. I was so thankful that God had given us direction to make this huge decision. This had truly been an answer to prayer. However, now that life was manageable, it seemed like nothing was happening anymore in my husband and I again felt discouraged. 

Two months later, we were driving home from San Diego and my husband suddenly turned to me and said, “I’ve made a decision to believe”.  I was in total shock…. I asked him if he meant that he had accepted Christ into his heart, and he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said “Yes, I have.” Needless to say, I could barely speak for the next 10 minutes as tears poured down my face…. WHAT A MIRACLE, AFTER 18 YEARS OF PRAYING FOR HIM. It made me realize that God had been working all along, even though most of the time, I couldn’t see anything. 

Our lives have not been the same since! God has truly transformed our marriage.  The spiritual and emotional intimacy that I had longed for all those years is finally here and God is the center of our marriage.  

I am so thankful that our prayers have been answered with our son and he has changed the direction of his life. God has healed our relationship with him, he has a job and just graduated from university in May!

Over the last five years since he made the decision to believe, I have watched God change my husband from the inside out. Although he was a good man before, I’ve seen God transform his heart, his desires, his actions and his purpose for his life. We serve in ministry together teaching spiritual growth classes at our church. We lead a small group in our home, he is part of a men’s group, serves in several other ministries at church, and we plan to go on our first mission trip together next Spring. God has answered my prayers so far above and beyond what I could have imagined! God has also given me a new ministry supporting and encouraging other women who are also in spiritually mismatched marriages.  He truly uses our pain for a purpose!

Maybe you have been praying for your husband for a very long time. Maybe you are getting discouraged and wondering if God is listening, or if anything is happening. If you are praying, please don’t give up! God is at work when we pray even if we don’t see it, miracles do happen!  

Shelley Cruze Family
Cruz Family!

Going To Hell?

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHello SUM Nation,

On Monday I posted a question. See below. Today, I’ll share my perspective. Hugs, Lynn

Anne M. wrote: Answering questions about the eternal fate of unsaved family members to your children, knowing that your words may be repeated to those family members. It's walking a line of truth, comfort and diplomacy.

Anne, it IS walking a line of truth, comfort and diplomacy. So true.

Let me share how I view my pre-believer spouse.

HOPE.

I will never surrender hope that God will reach my husband. I’m so utterly convinced that God will answer my 26 years of prayers, that there is no other option for me. In fact, I’m nearly convinced that the prayer Mike prayed with Joe on the driveway in front of our house, sealed the deal. (I share this story in Winning Him Without Words)

I won’t know for sure until glory, but the Lord has given me peace in this area. I continue to pray things like, encounter my husband. Protect him from the devil. Prosper him. Let Mike see you today…. These are awesome prayers that move the heart of God.

I’m not in denial that Mike has free will and that there are eternal choices at hand. However, when talking to anyone about salvation, heaven and hell, this is my perspective:

I believe that God is far greater, filled with a love to powerful and all encompassing that our mind is incapable to comprehend it fully, and His person is mercy. I believe He spends an entire lifetime reaching out to an individual to share His love and bring that person into truth. I also believe that we, the Church, tend to put God in a neat little box so that we don’t have to think about a broader possibility that God can save even the ugly, the rebellious, and those who doubt. 

My friends, I once was all of those.

He saved me.

(We want justice. But often God's justice is the opposite of ours.)

When speaking to unbelievers, I share that God is bigger than we know. He will have mercy on those He chooses. So, as long as you are breathing, there is hope. I will hope, until I’ve hoped, hoped, hoped and then hoped some more.

God likes hopeful people.

I always choose to view people as children of God. Because every person on this plant is His kid. Some are so very lost, corrupted, and on a path of destruction. But, God redeems even the worst sinners. I believe that is what Jesus said was His purpose.

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. — Luke 5:32 (NIV)

When family members ask if you think someone is going to hell, I would reply, “God is good. He is love and I just don’t know. God continually surprises me, so I remain hopeful.”

Your thoughts?


Take a Look

Hi everyone!  Somewhere over the rainbow  SUM

It's day two of the fast, and I hope you’re doing well. If one day you don’t manage what you set out to, don’t worry -- we just pick ourselves up and carry on.

One thing that I believe God adores about the SUMites is our HOPE. Like Abraham, who had a son at age 100, we have been given something unbelievable to hope for: The turning of hearts among those who would be the least likely. Holding on to this hope is pretty difficult, but if we choose it we are partnering in God’s move:

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations.” Romans 4:18 (NIV)

What is hope?

One possibility is that it's the actual picture of the victory, which we then choose to believe. It is, perhaps, the ‘different spirit’ held by Joshua and Caleb, who were sent to spy out the promised land. Instead of focusing on the scary giants, they saw the milk and the honey in the new land (Numbers 14:7-12). In their mind’s eye, the milk and honey were “flowing” – meaning, it was vivid, lively, and active to them. It was the vibrant future they would step towards.

It takes a different spirit to choose hope.

"But My servant, Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it." Numbers 14:24 (NKJV)

Like Caleb and Joshua, we can see the milk and honey when looking at our situation, never mind the giants. However, like anything, we need God’s help to do this. Today I feel He wants to gift us that help. I hear Him say today, “Tell your hearts to dream again!”

Here’s a word I’ve been holding for the SUM community, I pray that it will reignite hope for us all.

A few weeks ago (17th of August), I woke to hear the Holy Spirit say “Look!” And then this:

“LOOK among the nations and watch –

Be utterly astounded!

For I will work a work in your days

Which you would not believe if it were told you.” 

Habakkuk 1:5 (NKJV)

This is hope. LOOK. Some things look powerless, difficult, but no -- LOOK.

On that morning, this word -- ‘LOOK’ -- was followed by a vision (like a video clip playing in my head): It was of a bunch of miners in white hard hats, cheering. This was very random, but it was as if God was saying, "Go on, look at this picture".

I had no idea what to make of the vision, but later that day it occurred to me to google ‘miners’. This took me straight to a YouTube clip of a group of miners in white hard hats cheering! My mouth dropped open, and I laughed as I saw it – God is fun. But then, in all seriousness, I realized this clip was of the 33 Chilean miners who had been trapped and then rescued in 2011 – which, of course was no laughing matter at the time.

Why on earth did God point me to this?  The answer, I believe, is that He wants us to LOOK and visualize what Rescue will look like; because what is coming to us is a rescue of eye-catching and communal proportions.

"For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe if it were told you." Habakkuk 1:5 (NKJV)

I’m going to let the clip speak for itself to you – well, there were two. Here they are below. See what imagery they bring to you as you think about the rescue that God carries out and promises:

 

This, to me, is milk and honey. It's a lively picture, it's our vibrant future. It's what I’m going to choose to focus on.

Perhaps we can share in the comments what these clips say to us, what we notice in them, and what we will do with this hope.

Be encouraged, friends – I am! – and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Ann


I See Two of You

Ann here!  Last month I wrote about how God had been having some fun with me using figs. If you missed that post you can read it here. Well, today I wanted to share part two of that story. It includes a further promise for us SUMites. I hope you enjoy it:

One day last year it occurred to me to ask God a curious question: “Lord, what do you see when you look at my situation?” Twinbabies SUM

I'm sure God prompts such questions and, sure enough, the answer came the next morning:

I see two of you.

I'd been expecting an answer that would refer to me, but two of us? That gave me something to ponder.

A month later, on the topic of ‘two of you’, an unusual picture landed in my head. The picture was of me and my husband as babies strapped in a baby-carrier, one in front of the other. I was the one at the back, my husband was in front. Along with the picture, God seemed to say this:

Ann, you and Bryce are My two babies and I’m carrying you. Right now, you’re the one next to My chest hearing My heartbeat but he’s the one people will notice. You’re both held firmly in place but one day you might wake up and find you’ve been swapped.

For real? This is not the first time I've felt the Holy Spirit speak of the SUMites' spouses as His babies (Luke 13:34), but what this picture meant most to me was that God adores my husband, and there is some deliberate placement on the Father's part with our two separate-but-joined stories (John 6:44).

This ‘journey of two’ brings me back to our salvation promise from 2016, where God promised us that our spouses are like the 'very good' figs in Jeremiah 24:1-7. Recently, I've been thinking about that promise and especially the words ‘very good’.

Had you noticed those words are the same words used to describe the male-female partnership that God created in Genesis 1? As God created the oceans, stars, animals, and so on, He saw that each thing was good (Gen 1:1-25), but once He had created people, male and female, it was very good (Gen 1:31). With the ingredients of an Adam, an Eve, light, darkness, and free will, creation would fall. Still, it was very good.

The same words, very good, are relevant to our situations which, right now, might not look at all good. Not only does God describe our spouses as very good (Jer 24:3). He also says, “I have sent them out of this place for their own good” (v. 5) and “I will set My eyes on them for good” (v. 6). I can't help but be cheered along by what seems to be a clear promise of full restoration, back to the way He always intended things to be.

This sense of things being 'very good' for both parties in a SUM leads me to one final piece about the figs that I’ve been looking forward to sharing. It’s a phrase from the Holy Spirit that I heard:

A strong basket denotes fig season.

Hearing this phrase reminded me that the figs in Jeremiah 24 are, in fact, held by a basket, and I believe God is saying that the basket symbolizes us: A community of interwoven believers made up of many strands and carrying our spouses very deliberately.

This phrase also tells me that fig season will surely come! We've been waiting a while now, but ripening takes time as does the strengthening of the basket. When salvation finally comes our strength will denote the season, meaning that it will be a mark, sign, and characteristic of that time.

And so we are being strengthened and our spouses are being ripened, and when the perfect time has come there will two outcomes: A strong SUM community, and spouses with whole hearts for God (Jer 24:7). Those are two very good sides to one story. And that's what I believe God sees in this: Many, many stories of two.

So now I’m curious to hear: What does your story of two look like, and in what areas are you becoming strong? I'd love to ask about your spouses too, but it's hard to know what their story will be!  All in good time.


Very Good Figs

FigsHi everyone, Ann here.

My husband would freely admit that the chances of him turning ‘exuberant Christian’ of his own doing are a great big zero. I’m laughing. It’s a funny thought to him and to me. 

It’s impossible. And yet I believe with all my heart it'll happen. I’m not the sort who goes around being sure about things, but ... I just have my reasons. Today I can't resist sharing just one: 

Some time ago, I had a dream. In it I held a fig. I wanted to plant it, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know how. That was it, the whole dream. ‘Exciting dream,’ I hear you say!

Not exactly exciting, but it did strike me as unusual and so I wrote it down in my journal along with the date. I even looked up figs in the Bible, but nothing gelled. 

Imagine my excitement when a few short weeks later (in our January fast, 2016), Dineen posted that the Holy Spirit had told her our spouses were like the figs from Jeremiah 24:7! Her word laid out for us an enormous promise of our spouses’ salvation. I'll paraphrase it here, but you can click here to read the whole word:

He will return our spouses to Him, He will give them a heart to know Him.  He will plant them and not pluck them up.  He will build them and not tear them down. And this is a promise: Salvation is coming.  

Even the word ‘plant’ was in there, just like my dream. It was striking. But that was just the beginning.

Months later, 4 July 2016, Dineen wrote another inspired post for us. We were being lavished with promise as a community. This time, she felt God was saying that He is constructing the SUM community into a spiritual house and that latter house will be better than the former. Some of you will remember that Dineen was building an actual house and so there was an exciting series of posts where her house-building reflected what she was hearing spiritually. In fact, the very day I read Dineen's first house post I’d woken with a picture of a house in my head. Yet another ‘coincidence’, but that’s not even the part I’m coming to.

The part I’m coming to happened on a bad day, I’m afraid. One day, while on holiday the aloneness of my faith overwhelmed me, and I ended up hitting my pillow in a desperate mess. “Please,” I called to God, “I am really struggling here. Please help me.”

He helped me. The next morning I woke with a single word in my head: Bethphage. 

I grabbed my iPad and typed ‘Bethphage’. I discovered it was the place Jesus took the Palm Sunday donkey from. But mm, that wasn’t quite it. “Let me just look up the name meaning,” I thought. And here’s what Bethphage means ……{drum roll}:

House of figs!

True story!  

A few weeks later, I was skipping along, much happier. ‘Bethphage’ had helped. “What shall I pray for?” I asked God. This was an improvement on the paralyzed ‘help’ prayer that I had only prayed weeks earlier. Now I was strong enough to do something productive. As I asked that question, my eye caught something on the ground.  What’s that?  I peered over it. And then I realized: It was a fig! A lone fig. My eyes lifted upwards, there was no fig tree in sight. Only later would I realize that it wasn’t even fig season: it was the middle of winter. I picked that fig up, popped it in my pocket, and held it all day. It felt like I’d just been given a bunch of flowers.

What should I pray for? His answer: Pray for the figs.

So here’s a prayer for us today:

Lord God, I dare to believe that you will do the impossible for with You nothing is impossible. 

I know that for all the times we've been carried away You deem us and our spouses 'very good', we are sanctified. 

I believe that You will give us all a heart to know you, we will be Yours, You will be ours.  

Help me to know how to pray for my life partner, and help me to never stop praying - 24/7.

In Jesus' name, I receive these promises gladly. Amen.


Remembering Billy Graham

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Photo credit: Herald Sun

By Ian Acheson

The passing of Billy Graham two weeks ago brought back a flood of memories for many people. No doubt you’ve seen the many tributes for Mr Graham over these past couple of weeks. And I wanted to take a moment to express my own small tribute to him.

The Year 1979

The photo at left was taken in 1979 at one of Mr. Graham’s crusade meetings held at Sydney’s largest racecourse. 1979! Oh what a year. I think back on it with great fondness. I was in Year 10 at school and I particularly loved that school year. I even did well at Science that was a first for me. It gave me a boost especially as I wanted to follow in my Dad’s footsteps and study medicine. When it came to selecting my subjects for the final two years of school, I ignored the vocational guidance tests that indicated I was more suited to arts-style courses, and chose to study physics and chemistry so as to give myself a chance of qualifying for medicine. I soon discovered in the early weeks of Year 11 that I really wasn’t cut out for either of them. Darn!

But more significantly in 1979 I met Jesus. Because of Mr. Graham.

I had been attending youth fellowship and church for about nine months when Mr. Graham’s crusade came to town. So many of us from church attended that we had buses ferry us to the other side of Sydney to Randwick Racecourse to attend each night. We had a lot of fun on those bus trips.

I attended five nights. To hear Mr. Graham speak. To hear more about this person, Jesus Christ. I responded to his alter call invitation on the first night. I remember that stirring in the gut, will I/won’t I, and then having to make a long trek from my seat in one of the stands to the front of the stage. I was met by a man, one of hundreds of volunteers, who said a few things and gave me a small book. I never heard from him again. But that didn’t matter. I’d accepted Jesus into my life. I was born again.

Just the beginning

Soon after the crusades finished I enrolled in confirmation classes at my church. Yes, we had eight to ten weeks of classes in the home of one of the great families in the church to learn more about what being a Christian meant. In addition, we were given an overview of various disciplines like prayer and reading the Bible.

I also needed to be baptized as my parents didn’t baptize any of us when we were young. This created a bit of angst with my Dad. He challenged me to consider ALL the alternatives to Christianity and even asked me to read a book written by Carl Sagan who was a recognized God-skeptic. I read it but it didn’t discourage me in my decision. Dad appreciated the fact I read the book and even though he still questioned my decision he allowed me to proceed.

The journey

It has only taken me another almost 40 years to begin to better understand who Jesus is and how much He loves me but gosh I’ve loved the journey. Certainly, there have been many valleys where I’ve struggled in my walk but I’ve come to realise the importance of communicating with the Lord, reading His Word all the time, and being in community with other believers is so important to moving forward. Most of my valleys have been times of when I’ve tried to do life on my own terms. It’s been in learning that God made us to be dependent on Him that I’ve discovered the victory we have in daily walking with Him.

Grateful

Thank you, Mr. Graham, for introducing me to Jesus. There have been so many wonderful and much deserved tributes dedicated to the great man but it’s kinda special for me to know that I’m one of the many millions who carry the legacy of the incredible life he lived. I’ll always treasure his memory.

Now your turn SUMites. I'd love it if we all could share a little in the comments of someone who has played a key role in your faith walk.


The Voice of Hope This Christmas

Luke 2 11 Manger at NightAnd there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” —Luke 2:8-12

Years of antiquity, long since passed, in a singular moment of time, a Prince was born. Conceived in holiness, brought forth and swaddled in lowliness. His name declared in the heavens with shouts of wonder, from the angels On High. The pride of His Father.

His name, Emmanuel – God with us.

This humble child, a gift to the multitudes whom toil in bitterness and strife. The years of His youth, His stature increased as love and wisdom grew gaining favor with God and mankind. His voice, a ministry of kindness, mercy, repentance and forgiveness, releasing the people to hope once again, to believe and witness the power of a good Father.

Raised as an example to follow. His message was clear:

Peace silences confusion and fear.

Truth frees minds from anxiety, depression, addiction, and trauma.

Joy restores dreams and creativity.

Righteous conquers illness.

Forgiveness heals the heart, mind, and soul.

Love defeats hate.

This babe born and placed in a trough of animals, grown, then hung on a tree. Cursed of our sins, now forgiven, are you and me. The power of heaven lights the sky. Flashes of victory and out of death He rises. The world now redeemed. Time split in two. Miracles and healing declared for the earth.

In centuries long past, He was born the lowliest of Kings. Now raised to life, He reigns unmatched, to restore our dreams, heal hearts, establish health and defeat darkness. He is:

The King of Kings
Lion of Judah
Bright and Morning Star

Prince of Peace
Emmanuel

He is Jesus.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28

 

Jesus, you are my hope and my future. Thank you for your humble beginnings and your victory at the cross. I ask you to come into my heart and rule in my life. I ask you to forgive my failures and offenses and I choose to forgive others. Today, I receive the gift of eternal life. I am a new creation and receive salvation through the Holy Spirit. In Your name, Jesus. AMEN


God's Promise For A Marriage - Thankfulness This Thanksgiving

Becky Walker Family Nov 2017
Becky and Her Two Children

Promises by: SUMite Becky Walker

I wanted to write about the Lord’s promises and explain what the Lord recently revealed to me. I encountered opposition about claiming the Lord’s promises for my husband.

My husband and I have been separated for almost three years and he actually divorced me in May 2016, but I didn’t even know about it until a year later. He has since married someone else and they have separated. I have also consulted with my lawyer who says that the divorce was not carried out legally and we could contest it. That door still has not slammed shut.

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

The Lord continues to me of His promise to keep me strong and give me the faith to make the decisions He wants me to make. I have watched my husband, (yes, I still call him that), Charlie, go from not wanting to set foot in a church to regularly attending a Bible believing church in our community. In fact, the last time he had our children, he took them to church on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Years ago, before we separated, he did not want me to pray for meals but lately he has asked my children to pray for the meal when they go out to eat. My daughter also told me that when she got into his jeep last night, he was listening to a "man talking about God." And recently he told them that he listens to pastors on the radio now. Charlie is a truck driver who travels across several states during the night, so he may be listening to hours of God’s Word. 

I have watched God do amazing things and He still amazes me every day. I do not waver in unbelief regarding the promise of God, but my faith is strengthened, and I give glory to God, being fully persuaded that He has the power to do what He has promised. (Romans 4:20-21). His promises have reminded me how to react and speak to my husband in every situation; speaking with grace so that I do not ruin my witness. His promises guided me to wait on the Lord when everyone else was telling me to divorce Charlie and move on. His promises give me the faith to make decisions that would seem foolish to the world based on my circumstances, like quitting my job as a public-school teacher to home school my children as a "single" mom. God not only provided almost all of my home school resources for free, but He has also provided an amazing job in which I'm teaching English to children in China online in the early morning hours.

The Lord’s promises are such an amazing act of grace and mercy. He could just leave us in the dark about everything that is going to happen. We could just be left to try to figure everything out on our own. People who do not follow Jesus are doing just that each day; living in the dark and trying to figure everything out on their own.

His promises are the reason we can walk by faith and not fear.

His promises are the reason we have peace and joy in the midst of storms.

We need to cling to and claim His promises, personal ones He reveals and the amazing promise of eternal life. There are over 100 promises in the Bible that we have the privilege to claim as believers. 

I was recently thinking about Joseph and the Lord’s promises to him through his dreams. I used to think that Joseph was enslaved only because he shared the dreams he had with his brothers, but the Lord recently revealed a new perspective. Since the Lord knows everything before it happens, and He knows our hearts, perhaps the dreams the Lord gave Joseph were given to Joseph because of what the Lord knew would happen. He knew Joseph’s brothers’ hearts and the way they felt about Joseph because of Jacob’s love and favor towards him. The Lord knew what the brothers were going to do to Joseph before it happened. I believe that the Lord used those dreams He gave Joseph to keep him strong during the trials the Lord knew Joseph would face; the enslavement, imprisonment, and needing to forgive His brothers. 

The Lord knows what each and every one of us needs and He does not keep us in the dark. He knows what every soul is longing for and what every person will have to endure in their lifetime because He has already seen it all play out. It is by His grace and mercy that we have the promise of eternal life and we need that to carry us through the hard times, the confusing times, the struggles.

He knew we would need His promises. We need to remember His promise of eternal life and personal promises that He reveals because He has given them to us for a reason; not just as something to hope for and patiently wait for but as a guide. We should always base our decisions, our attitudes, and our behavior on His promises and seek to follow Jesus, trusting Him that He will bring us to that promise. I know that God will fulfill His personal promise to me and my family because He has already seen it happen. But most importantly of all, I know I will have the promise of eternal life with Jesus, my Savior in His perfect timing. I will be living with Jesus in eternal light, brilliant colors that don’t even exist on Earth, a glorified body, no tears, no worries, no fears, no sickness, and no pain. I can't wait! 

It is also up to us to share that promise with everyone. Righteousness is the opposite of sin and Heaven is the opposite of Hell. We need to remember that there is also a promise of eternal damnation for those who do not follow Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If Heaven is the opposite of Hell then the eternal damnation they face is one of eternal darkness (such that we’ve never experienced before), and an eternity of tears, pain, fear, sickness and horrors we can’t even imagine. We shouldn't want anyone, not even our worst enemy, to experience that. We need to intercede in prayer and share the Gospel with words and actions.    

Thank you, Lord, for your amazing promises that are so full of grace and mercy. Do not let us forget your promises. Open   our eyes to the opportunities to share Your promise with everyone around us.  Help us to live every day of our lives in the victory of that fulfilled promise and may You receive all of the glory for everything You do and all that You are. We trust that you will do whatever it takes to draw our loved ones to Jesus Christ.

Biography:

My name is Becky Walker. I live in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am a stay-at-home mother of two children; my 8-year-old, Charlie Walker, V and my 6-year-old, Lily. I used to teach middle school Spanish but in June, the Lord called me to home school my children. I resigned as a teacher, a lateral entry position that God had amazingly provided since I don’t even have a teaching license, and later in the summer, I applied to VIPKID. I now teach English to children in China and I’ve never enjoyed a job more. I live in a house that’s owned by our church, and I recently became involved in the ESL ministry there; another door God opened. I love spending time with my children and singing in our church choir.


The Rooms in God's House

Hello, dear friends! So good to be back with you this week! I couldn't wait to share this beautiful revelation from John 14. God's Word is so very present and for us now. I pray this insight brings that home to your hearts in an astounding way. 

The words I am referencing:

Rooms: monē — a staying, abode, mansion, abiding, dwelling, metaphor of the God the Holy Spirit indwelling believers
(comes from menō — to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): — abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), thine own, live, not to depart.

House: oikia — a house, an inhabited edifice, a dwelling

Way: hodos — way, journey, metaphorically a way (i.e. manner) of thinking, feeling, deciding.

And I hope this prayer blessed you and your marriage as you wait in expectancy for God to fill the "room" of our spouse's heart with the love of Jesus. Amen!

Love you!
Dineen


Oh, Captain…Our Captain! by Dee Rusnak

“For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” — Hebrews 2:10

When you think of a wilderness, what is the first picture that pops into your mind? Perhaps a tree-thick forest, or a breathtaking landscape of a mountain terrain, or even the soft extending sands of desert dunes? What about a wasteland? Desolation? Emptiness? Solitude? This is the biblical description for wilderness, or eremos, the place where Jesus was driven immediately following His Baptism. The Spirit of God descended upon Him and promptly began His work…launching His Son into the arid wilderness to be tested and tempted in every way for 40 days.

IMG_0083The first temptation of man took place in a plush garden with gorgeous scenery, fresh crisp air, warm comforting breezes, surrounded by the musical sounds of life. The first temptation of Jesus occurred in the dry desolate wilderness that resembled death, with the air thick, heavy and dry as the scorching heat of the sun beat down amid the deafening sounds of stillness.

Adam’s human hunger was always completely satisfied. Jesus went without food day after day for well over a month. Adam was not alone. Jesus was in solitude. Both were sinless, yet the temptations brought drastically different results. Adam had everything, even the God of all creation walking along side of him, but succumbed to wanting more. Jesus gave up everything, intentionally experiencing the sufferings of sinful man, overcoming every temptation, and defeating evil at the height of its strength. The first catapulted us into darkness, while the second transports us into His great light. The first a defeat. The second a victory.

In order to serve His suffering people, Jesus had to experience for Himself the human condition where suffering became a reality. From it He can deeply sympathize with His followers in every way. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…stricken by God…pierced for our transgressions …crushed for our iniquities…and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6) As we suffer through our hardships and trials, we begin to see our true selves and our helpless state, turning to our Captain who’s been there and can bring us through it! Accordingly, we can be there for others as well.

We cannot plead for our own cause. But, for all who believe and rely on His sacrifice, and based upon the accomplishments of His death, we have a Captain, a High Priest, who has purchased for us the Spirit and grace of God, removing the crushing weight of our own depravity upon the soul. His power bestows that same endless spiritual life, keeping us secure, while His intercession continuously presents before the Father the very reason why we should be saved. Herein lies our hope for the souls of our spouses. “But because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. Such a High Priest truly meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” — Hebrews 7:24-26

The 19th century poet Walt Whitman composed the poem “O Captain! My Captain!” following Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Within its stanzas, Whitman expresses the great relief following the treacheries of the Civil War, battling the storms to abolish slavery, receiving the prize of peace in the nation, and celebrating all the Captain (Lincoln) had accomplished. A Captain whose sorrow was compounded with every hardship experienced by his nation. Whitman’s Captain unexpectedly passed away to death. Our Captain purposely passed from death into life! Our Captain leads us through the battles of this life, experiencing every sorrow we endure. When the temptations come, whether in a lush garden or the darkest wasteland, His power is made available to overcome sin’s strongest hold, setting the captives free. We celebrate all that our Captain has accomplished on His cross, and what He continues to accomplish daily in us. He never leaves us to ourselves or we would surely fall. We are kept by His power and His prayer, fortified by His grace, which is sufficient as He lovingly walks us through this life and into the next. Oh, Captain…Our Captain! “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9

DarDee Rusnak and her husband live in Westerville, Ohio, were they spend their retirement years taking great delight in their 5 grandchildren.


How God Spoke to My Heart About My Husband

Dear friends, I am on "vacation" this week. It's actually my oldest daughter, Rachel, who is on vacation and spending the week with Mike and I. We won't get to see her at Christmas this year so I am making the most of this week with my girl. I'll be back next next week.

In the meantime, this testimony from Alissa is so beautiful and powerful, of how God met her, reassured her, and even gave her revelation and insight to understand what was really at the heart of her husband's choice to be an agnostic. When I asked her if I could share her testimony here, this is what she said:

Absolutely you can use this. One thing I learned on my missions trip was the power of testimony. We learned that the word testimony, literally means 'God do it again'. So if my testimony can give someone else hope and encouragement that is really the ultimate goal, God do it again!

Thank you, Alissa! 

Be encouraged, SUMites. God has you and your spouse, right in the palm of His hand. He never lets go. Hugs! ~Dineen

 

How God Spoke to My Heart About My Husband
by Alissa Berglund

Alissa BA little back story first...  A couple of weeks ago I went on a missions trip to Romania while my husband stayed back and took care of the kids. While I was on my trip he got together with some of our friends (all unbelievers) and they got into a discussion about faith and God. Fast forward to this week. I went on a walk with my best friend who isn't a believer but is open to God and she was telling me that this discussion and taken place but didn't offer up any details, and I didn't push for the whole story, just listened to what she offered up.
 
After the walk on Wednesday night my hubby Andy and I got talking and I asked him about the conversation that had taken place. He told me that him and some of the other had arrived at the conclusion that they didn't know where they stood in terms of faith, but that he felt like he is searching for answers and "proof" of God's existence. Then he blurts out that he identifies as an agnostic.
 
I don't know what that was so hard to hear... but having him label or identify himself with a certain set of beliefs just pierced me. I started reading about agnostics and the more I read the more defeated and beat down I felt. It's like a huge mountain is before me that I have no clue how to conquer. Yesterday I was mowing the lawn and just pouring out my heart to God, just pleading with him to move in Andy's life and bring be peace about this. God was oddly silent, but just kept telling him I trusted him and it's not my job to save Andy but his. I almost got on the Summite website to ask you all for prayer because I was so discouraged.
 
This morning I was running late and I got into my car and Faith Radio was on. Usually in the mornings they talk politics so I was about to change it, when all of a sudden the host starts talking to his guest about agnostics.... WHAT??  I perked up. This guys starts explaining how some agnostics become the way they are.  He said a lot of times deep pain is the beginning of unbelief. Wouldn't you know it... Andy lost his mom to cancer at age 9 and he has always wondered why God didn't answer his prayers and heal her. Then he starts giving practical steps to impacting an agnostic for Christ, loving them, being in relationship with them, listening more talking less, not pushing the gospel on them, getting into the Word and other resources about apologetics... but most of all trusting that the Holy Spirit will move and there will come a tipping point when they experience the realness of God.
 
It was as if God was speaking directly to my heart, saying... see I heard you last night...  I haven't forgotten your struggle or where Andy is. I just was so encouraged and lifted that this isn't my battle but God's. I feel like God is preparing a prayer strategy for me that is very specific to my husband. I've been trying to pray for him consistently every day on my drive in to work since I started a new job. I just want to up my game and do my part to cover him in prayer.
 
So that's it!! Just wanted to share that with someone :)  Just remember it's not our battle alone, but God's.
 
-Alissa
 
About Alissa: 
Married to my high school sweetheart and a mom to two energetic boys. Lakeville MN is where I call home, most summer days you can find me outside taking pictures of sunsets or collecting rocks.

When Your Spouse Walks Away From God

Ps34-22My friends, as you can see from the title, we tackling a very difficult and painful topic today. It’s one I think we should address as it’s something many of you are living out. And one of you even asked for this subject to be addressed on our recent survey.

Please. Please talk about spouses leaving the faith. — Kelly

So, let me first say to Kelly and all those SUMites out there in this same position that I am so sorry. The closest I can come to relate to this kind of situation is how I felt when my husband made the choice of atheism. He’d recently bought a Bible, and I was convinced he would soon join me in this faith journey. Needless to say I was devastated. 

But God helped me let go of my expectations and to trust Him to bring my marriage through to a place of peace. I had a lot to learn and as the believing spouse, God started with healing my heart first.

My friends, I’ve prayerfully sought the Holy Spirit’s council on what to write and how to help those of you in this position. Though I don’t have first hand experience with this, I can imagine the pain, rejection and betrayal that rushes in to fill the gap once occupied by a united faith. And that is the place that we should start to address this kind of situation, because until all of the pain, heartache and betrayal is brought to God and addressed, the marriage is hindered and healing can’t easily begin.

Forgiveness Is a Daily Choice

As I shared from my own story, I had to let go of my expectations of what I thought my marriage would be like. That also meant I had to release my husband from those expectations. For many of you, this will mean forgiving your spouse for their choice to walk away from God and from a life of shared faith. Release them from the debt you may hold against them as well—for not meeting your expectation.

When you’ve made these decisions, make the choice not to go back into unforgiveness. That will most likely be your greatest challenge as you continue to walk in a mismatched marriage. Remind yourself that you made the choice to forgive and that you are trusting God to mend your broken heart as He promises to do (Ps. 147:3) and remind the enemy too. 

Also, realize that their choice is not against you, though it may very well feel that way. That is not your burden to carry. Give that to God as well. And you didn’t cause this. You are not responsible for your spouse’s decision. God gave us each a free will to choose—or not to choose—Him. 

Then move forward. Your relationship with God is your own. Continue to pursue your faith with all the fire and passion He has placed in you. 

Understanding the Situation and Applying Truth

First, remember that even though your spouse stopped believing (or think they do) in God, God never stops believing in them. They may walk away for a time but God does not leave them.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. — 2Tim 2:13 (ESV)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.— Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)

Not even your spouse’s choice to walk away from God will separate God’s love from him or her. God’s love is not based upon us—how we act, believe, succeed, etc. It is completely based upon Who He is. He loved us first—not in response to our love. He is love and that is His character.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love. — 1 John 4:16a (ESV)

We love because he first loved us. — 1John 4:18 (ESV)

Second, don’t make assumptions. The biggest pitfall I can foresee here is false assumptions as to the “why” behind your spouse’s decision. Most of the time, when I delve a little deeper, seeking better understanding from the person or God (or both), I discover details I never would have known otherwise. And those specifics can make a huge difference in how you relate to your spouse.

I know this will be difficult, but ask your spouse to help you understand where they are coming from. This is where I suggest you pray first, asking God to prepare your heart and your spouse’s for this conversation. What you find out may very well surprise you. Be prepared to bring what he or she shares to God also. You are now being called to intercede for your spouse at a whole new level.  

Their reasons may include things like:

  • Anger at the church. Sometimes we misplace our faith in people instead of God. So when they let us down, we reject God instead of realizing that we’ve put God-like expectations on an imperfect human being. No church is perfect. And it’s very possible a spirit of religion is at work here. It’s very possible your spouse has operated more under the law instead of grace.
  • Anger at God for not meeting their expectations. This is where disappointment moves in, and I believe many of us have walked this road. I know I have. What I discovered is that my expectations were based upon my own thoughts and determinations of how I thought the situation should be. Thus when it didn’t pan out that way, I was grew disappointed. This is where is it so vital that we know God’s character and that He is always working for our good (Rom. 8:28), no matter what things look like. (This one applies to us as well—we can be angry at God for what’s happened in our marriage. Be honest with Him. He can handle your anger and help you walk out of it in greater trust and faith.)
  • Feeling they can never measure up so why bother. This ultimately has a lot to do with identity—who do you believe you are and who do you believe God is for you. If you don’t know God’s character and don’t understand His love for you, you fall into a place of trying to earn His love and to “get right” with God. In our own power and ability, we can’t achieve that. God knew that and thus why He sent His Son Jesus to take care of it once and for all. Grace is a gift, and salvation is all about His love and willingness to die rather than to lose us. If we don’t understand that it has nothing to do with our own efforts and merits, we struggle to fully receive God’s love and can’t walk fully into the confidence that we are truly loved.
  • Deception. We know the truth of John 10:10, that the enemy prowls looking for a way to steel our Christ-given power, to kill our hopes and to destroy our faith so we are not walking in the truth of who we really are. But Jesus is greater. The rest of this verse is where you want to camp, my friends.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. — John 10:10b-11

SUMites, these reasons may very well be what keeps your spouse from even considering Christianity, church and all they believe comes with it. God has been so misrepresented by the ones who are supposed to represent Him best. But don’t lose hope. God always has a plan.

When Restoration Comes

And it will. Believe God for that. Stand for it. But most of all, don’t carry your expectations from the past into this new place. God is all about the new (Isa. 43:19), and He has a new plan of action for the both of you that way exceeds those old expectations. Don’t limit Him. Don’t limit what He can do in and through you—both of you—no matter where you are in this process. God completes everything He starts. Everything.

And He doesn’t move backwards. Even though you may feel you’ve lost ground or have been knocked off your feet, His plans for restoration always include more. He’s not going to make you start all over. Everything He set into place for you is still there and He will help you step back into it. No matter how long it takes. He’s on your side. Always.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. — Psalm 34:18-19 (ESV)

The Lord redeems the life of his servants. — Psalm 34:22a (ESV)

Yes, God not only redeems us, He redeems our lives and everything in them. He’s so good! 

My friends, I’m sure there is much more to this topic than what I’ve covered here. If you are in such a place and walking this challenging road, please share what you’ve learned that has helped you move forward in faith in your marriage. I’ve no doubt your words of encouragement will reach a heart in need. 

SUMites, you are amazing people of God! I love you!
Dineen


Standing in Truth

John11-25Welcome to June, SUMites! I know this is a very busy time for many of you as school ends and summer vacations start. I pray this summer is full of God’s peace, His rest, and that each day you feel more loved and strengthen in your faith. Our Papa God is so good and He is generous, faithful and full of surprises.

Just as a review of our “Seeing Our Spouse Like God Does” series, we’ve talked about “sitting”—where we are seated with Christ in the heavens (Eph 2:6), which is about our identity. This is the place we want to be seated at all times, remember? And we’ve discussed “walking”—the way we live our faith from our seat and walk in the truth of who we are, which reveals God’s kingdom here on earth as we walk in love as Jesus loves us (Eph 5:1). Here are the links to those posts if you’d like to review them.

Seeing Our Spouse Like God Does (intro)

How Sturdy Is Your Seat?

Walking in Love

Now this last part is about “standing” and comes from the part of Ephesians 6 about our armor. I have some really cool nuggets to share with you on this one, so let’s dig in and camp in God’s truth.

In Ephesians 6, Paul was most likely inspired by the armor of the Roman soldiers assigned to guard him. At this point he was under what we would call “house arrest.”  And I’ve no doubt the Holy Spirit showed him through the visual of the armor how we are protected in Christ Jesus. The astounding part of this revelation though is found back in Ephesians 1.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. — Eph 1:15-22

My friends, take a moment and read the above Scriptures slowly and prayerfully. This is one long sentence filled with some of the greatest truths we will ever come to understand as believers. In this “run-on” sentence, Paul is showing us how to pray for “the more” of God. To have the eyes of our hearts enlightened, to know the hope of Jesus, to understand the riches of our glorious inheritance in Jesus, and finally, the biggest bombshell in this passage—that the power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him in the heavenly places is the very same power we have been given in the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

Don’t let that word “toward” fool you into thinking anything less. In the Greek also means into, unto, for, and among. It’s a very “large” word and encompasses a great deal. The point is, the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead and that same Spirit and all He entails lives in us as well. That’s pretty amazing to think about, SUMites. As I say, you are way more powerful than you realize.

So from this power in us we sit, walk and stand. Let’s take a look at the stand part now. I’ve always found it so fascinating that in the midst of all this defensive armor, our only offensive piece is the sword, which is the Word of God. Yet Paul tells us to “stand” repeatedly. 

Why? Because when we stand, we stand in Truth. And Truth is a person, Jesus.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. — John 14:6

But let’s take a look at those verses in Ephesians 6

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore,…— Eph 6:10-14

The word “stand” in the Greek is histēmi and means abide, appoint, bring, continue, covenant, establish, hold up, lay, present. The form of this word is a “prolonged form” of its root word. In other words, it is a position of opposition. That is clarified in the word “withstand,” which in the Greek is anthistēmi and means to stand against, oppose, resist, withstand. The fascinating part of this word is that if you look at it closely, you see histēmi. The first part of the word, ant, is actually anti

I’m guessing you recognize that word and already know it’s meaning to be opposite to. So basically, this word it telling us to stand in opposition to evil. That we are to stand in the full power of the Holy Spirit against the enemy. 

And the only weapon we are to use is God’s Word. To know it, believe it and speak it. God recently spoke to me these words:

“Faith is transformative, but trusting and believing Me is imperative.”

Now, take a look again at Eph 5:14 again:

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Last week I pointed out the relevance of “awake.” Now I want to you to focus on that word “arise.” That word in the Greek is anistēmi and means to stand up, lift up, raise up. And its root word is histēmi, to stand.

If you’re confused, I was too. I wanted to understand the connection between the words, our place to “stand” firm as Paul says and what he’s saying in Eph 5:14, “arise from the dead.”

I asked the Holy Spirit to show me the connection, which He did the very next day in a very unexpected place. He took back to the book of John where I’ve been reading about Jesus and how He healed people—a subject you know is near and dear to my heart.

Take a look at John 11 and Martha’s confrontation with Jesus about why her brother, Lazarus, died:

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” — John 11:23-26

The word to focus on here is “resurrection.” In the Greek (anastasis) it means a standing up again, i.e. (literally) a resurrection from death, or (figuratively) a (moral) recovery (of spiritual truth): — raised to life again, resurrection, rise from the dead, that should rise, rising again.

Here’s where it gets really fun, my friends. The root of anastasis is anistēmi, which comes from histēmi. 

Resurrection, raise up, stand up.

These words are so interconnected and point us right back to Ephesian 1:19:

and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might

SUMites, we stand for a cause (our spouse) in opposition to the “anti-cause,” and we stand in the resurrection power and life of Jesus Christ, because of the Holy Spirit—God’s Spirit—lives in us. Think about that. I mean, really think about that.

Paul even tells us in Ephesians 6:10 to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Not ours. His. 

By God’s Spirit. Believe Him.

“Faith is transformative, but trusting and believing Me is imperative.”

SUMites, you stand in a great power and great protection in your marriages. The key is to know it (sit), live it (walk), and be firm (stand). God will not fail you. Let me say that again, because someone really needs to hear this.

God will not fail you. He can’t. He’s obligated to keep His promises because He said so (Jer 1:12). And the entire Bible is His promise to you. 

Jesus is His promise to you. Jesus.

I want to close with what I shared on my Facebook page this week, a truth the Holy Spirit dropped into my spirit:

“The enemy (satan, lucifer, the devil) was cast out of heaven. So when we pray as Jesus taught us, "His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven," he can't stay here either. Walk in the truth of what that means. If you are seated in the heavens with Jesus (Eph 2:6), YOU bring the heavens to earth and the enemy cannot stay! Do that and watch the enemy shrink before you to nothing without even having to say a word. Just say JESUS!”

Just say Jesus, SUMites! Jesus!!!!

Love you!
Dineen


Walking in Love

WalkingLightHello, SUMites! Last week I talked about where we sit in our faith and our marriages, that we are strongest when we are firmly seated in the truth of who we are in Christ Jesus and also see our spouses from that perspective too. And wow, what an eye opener it is to think of this in terms of our marriage, that we are “one flesh” with our spouse and seated in the heavenly realms—at the same time. I’m still wrapping my brain around possibilities of that one! 

Our next position of influence and partnering with God to release what He has placed within our spouse is our “walk.” A couple of you actually shared this desire in the survey just recently:

“Loving our spouses and children. Being a light for Jesus in our mismatched marriage. How much can we truly talk to our spouses about Jesus according to I Peter 3?”  — Amanda 

“I am always seeking how to live my Christian faith before my family, husband, and grown children who have families of their own. I am looking for specific answers based on what God’s word teaches.” — Naomi 

These are excellent questions. And I believe the second part of this series will go far in answering them. Let’s first take a look at some verses from Ephesians.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.— Eph 2:9

What I love most about this verse is how clearly it shows God’s heart for us. We are not only His, we are His workmanship. So is your spouse. And you both were created in, through and by Christ Jesus (John 1:3) for good works, which He prepared (ordain, make ready) ahead of time. That you should what? Make them happen? Figure out how to do it all? Wait around for God to make it all happen?

Paul tells us we’re to “walk in them.” The Greek word for walk (peripateō) has broader meanings than just to put one foot in front of the other. It also means to walk at large, especially as proof of ability. It means to follow, as a companion. It means to make one’s way, progress and to make use of opportunities. In the Hebrew, it’s a word that means to live, to regulate life and conduct yourself. 

In other words, how you live your life. You see, our faith and how we live it (our works) were never intended to be a separate area of our lives that we pull out when we think the time is right. Paul is telling us to “walk” it out every day and every moment, all the time.

And it’s not something we have to make happen either. That leads to performance, my friends. It simply means be who God created you to be. Be a daughter or son of the Most High King and live your life according your identity and inheritance. Walk through life firmly planted in your seat. 

Yes, sitting and walking in the physical sense are impossible, but in the supernatural they are simultaneous. We walk through life on this earth from the perspective of where we’re seated and see everything from this heavenly place. God’s already done the rest. He’s given us the skills (giftings) and the good works. We get to see it, follow His lead and simply do what He’s told (or telling) us to do.

In Ephesians 4:2-3 Paul says to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

So we are to “walk”:

  • In a worthy manner
  • With humility
  • With gentleness
  • With patience with others
  • In love
  • In unity
  • In peace

In verses 14 and 15 of the same chapter, Paul says we’re no longer children tossed around in our beliefs. But rather, we’re to grow up (increase and give increase) in every way in Christ by speaking the truth in love. And that in doing so we are built up, in that very love. 

In chapter five, Paul says we are to “walk in love,” (vs. 2) walk as children of the light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.)” (vss. 8-9). 

In other words, trust what God has already placed in you. Walk in the truth of who you are and live accordingly. That is our most powerful witness and influence to those around us. And when you do have the opportunity to speak, do so in love, edification and encouragement. Let love always, always, always be your highest goal (1 Cor. 14:1). 

SUMites, we’re called to love people, not change them. But God’s love can. 

Which brings me to the latest treasure I unearthed in God’s word that knocked my shoes and socks off. A couple years ago, God put it on my heart to pray Ephesians 5:14 over my hubby: 

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

I looked up the word “awake” and discovered that it is the very same word Jesus uses in John 5:8 when He tells the invalid to “get up.” Remember, the word “get” in Greek (egeiro) means to waken, rouse (from sleep), sitting, lying, disease, death, obscurity, nonexistence, rise up or stand. Jesus is actually telling the man to wake up and rise up out of his disease and sin.

And here is that exact word again, to be called to awaken from a state of darkness, and we can pray this, SUMites! Pray over your spouse when they’re away, “Awake, O sleeper (or spouse’s name), and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!”

Declare the truth in love, “I say to (spouse’s name)’s spirit, wake up and arise from the dead, for the light of Christ is shining on you!”

Guess what, SUMites? That light is you. Paul said we are children of the light, so you are the light shining on your spouse. You are the light shining on your children. You are the light shining on your family, in your community, at your work—even in the grocery store.

Here’s a final word of encouragement for you, dear friends. In verse 15, Paul tells us to pay attention to how we walk, “not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time.” He’s telling us to make the most of every opportunity, and we can do that by making our faith a 24/7 way of life. By living every moment in the truth of who we are. By walking in love and speaking the truth in love.

And here’s how we do it. Look at verse 18. Paul instructs us to “be filled with the Spirit.” Yes, you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, but do you ask Him daily to fill you up? There’s a difference, my friends. It’s like having the key to your car. You know you have an engine in it, but it won’t start unless you put the key in and turn it (or push a button if your car is fancy).

Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you up every day. If He needs more room to fill you up, He may show you some stuff to deal with (unforgiveness, sin, bitterness, strife, etc.), but you know what? He’ll always, always, always, speak the truth in love to your heart.

Holy Spirit, I pray that every SUMite to be filled to overflowing with Your powerful and loving presence. I pray they see opportunities every day to love those around them with affirming words and actions. I pray they will speak the truth in love and that You, Holy Spirit, give them those words. And I pray for the hearts of those they are loving on, to be receptive and ready to receive you. We say as the SUMite community to our spouses, wake up, O sleepers and arise from the dead, for Christ is giving you light! In the name of Jesus, amen!

Shine on, SUMites!
Dineen

Copyright: mikekiev / 123RF Stock Photo


How Sturdy Is Your Seat?

ChairMy friends, I loved your comments from my post on Monday. Several of you shared you would really like to know more about the Greek meanings of the words I’m researching, so please know that I’m thinking and praying about how to do that best. Right now I think a video would be easiest to explain and bring these treasures to life, so stay posted.

Today, let’s start talking about where we “sit” with God. Let’s take a look at Ephesians. The first chapter of Ephesians is all about our identity, who were are as new creations in Christ Jesus and what we’ve been given as our inheritance in Him. 

Many of you shared in the survey that you wanted to understand more about our identity in Christ as well. Knowing and understanding these truths is very important to the sturdiness of our “seat,” especially where and how we “sit” in our mismatched marriages. In taking these truths into our spirit by studying, praying and believing them, we will operate from a greater place of influence in our homes and marriages simply by living our lives according to these truths. 

Take a look at this list of who YOU are right from Ephesians 1.

  • Blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
  • Chosen before the foundation of the world
  • Holy and blameless before Him
  • Predestined for adoption
  • Blessed in the Beloved
  • Redeemed through His blood
  • Forgiven of all trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (not limited by yours)
  • His will and purposes made known to you with all wisdom and understanding
  • United with Him, things in heaven and things on earth

SUMites, this is what Jesus died to give us, our complete identity in Him. And not only that. He gave us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, as a seal and guarantee of our inheritance.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. — Eph 1:13-14

Christ Jesus has done all this for us so that we can be with Him and He can be with us. The veil separating man from God was both literally and figuratively torn upon His death to make this possible. Yet we still tend to think a type of physical separation remains, but God’s Word says otherwise.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. — Eph 2:19-22

Read these verses carefully. God didn’t just want to save us, He also wants us with Him. And not just in eternity, but in an abiding relationship with Him always. When we understand that we are secure in our value, worth and God’s great love for us, we become more and more Christ-like in our faith, courage, integrity and strength. We begin to reflect the very characteristics of Jesus, and if you read the gospels, He was irresistible! People were drawn to Him. They saw the hope and promise He carried and they wanted it.

My friends, this is exactly why God always starts with us, the believing spouse, in a mismatched marriage. We are a conduit of His love and grace, we are a representation of His character, and we are the source of His delight. And we don’t do any of this. He does. 

So this is where we start in releasing our spouses identity in Jesus, by living in belief and faith that we are God’s children, given the full inheritance in Christ Jesus.

Not just when we go to heaven. Now.

Every spiritual blessing, remember? My friends, as you think and pray about these truths about you, think and pray about them regarding your spouse. 

  • You are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, so now bless your spouse with the same.
  • You were chosen before the foundation of the world, and so was your spouse. Declare this truth over his or her life.
  • You stand holy and blameless before Him, so thank Jesus now that He is doing the same thing for your spouse.
  • You were predestined for adoption and so is your spouse. See him or her from this perspective, as someone God is willing to die for so that he or she can LIVE!
  • You are blessed in the Beloved and God’s heart and intention is for your spouse to be too. Again, declare this truth over him or her. If your spouse is open to hear it, tell him or her they are blessed!
  • You are redeemed through His blood and have the power and authority through this to declare the blood of Christ over your spouse—heart, soul, mind and spirit.
  • You are forgiven of all trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. That same forgiveness is for your spouse too. Live forgiven and forgive so that your spouse can see what that looks like.
  • God’s will and purposes made known to you with all wisdom and understanding. Ask God for this same revelation of your spouse. What is God’s heart for your spouse? What gifts did He place in him or her? You can even ask God to show you how your spouse may already be operating in his or her gifting without even realizing it. I see this in my husband as he becomes more and more aware of the people around him and intentionally talks and spends time with them. I see his gift of engagement and evangelism already operating. And I chuckle as I watch him not only do this but how people are drawn to him!
  • You are united with God, things in heaven and things on earth. Therefore, through your faith (sanctification, 1Cor 7:14 and marriage, Mark 10:8) so is your spouse. Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in. Then take your spouse with you to those heavenly realms in love and prayer. Think of them as there with you already. Wow!

Okay, that one just kind of blew my mind. How about you, SUMites? I hope you’re beginning to see how important you are in God’s eyes and in your marriage. Nothing is impossible for Him. And you, my friends, as a co-heir of Jesus and a co-laborer with God, are part of His possibilities.

Love you dearly!
Dineen

Copyright: alphaspirit / 123RF Stock Photo


Seeing Our Spouse Like God Does

Ecc11We live in a world that defines us by what we do, but as believers we are called to walk to the beat of a different drum. That beat is the pulse of the Father's heart and who He says we are.

SUMites, our Heavenly Father’s heart beats for our spouse too, because he has placed an eternal identity in them as well, just waiting to be unlocked, and I firmly believe we are called to partner with God to help identify, reveal and release that identity in them.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. — Ecc 3:11

I also believe this is a key part of our authority in Christ and in our marriage as the spiritual leader in the home. We are the aroma of Christ in our homes and our faith sanctifies our spouse. 

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. — 2 Cor 2:15

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. — 1 Cor 7:14

As I’ve shared before the Greek word for ‘sanctify’ means to ‘lay a claim upon.” My friends, we not only sit in the heavenly realms with Jesus (Eph 2:6), we also sit in very real places of influence in the lives of those we love and pray for. We can speak death (negativity, blame, accusation, condemnation and even curses) or we can speak life (positive words, encouragement, affirmation, edification and blessings).

What I want to focus on is this place of influence we hold and how God wants us to sit, walk, and stand in this place of influence. I am using these words metaphorically, but there are actual biblical references to these positions of faith, which we can learn from. 

These aren’t new concepts, my friends, but I want to approach these truths from Ephesians with the goal of applying them to our mismatched marriages and how we can sit, walk and stand in faith in life and mismatchdom. And I will be addressing some of the topics you shared in the survey, in which you expressed a need, a challenge, or a desire for your marriage.

Finally, my friends, I want to share a hope that is growing in my heart and spirit. As I learn more and more about God’s heart to heal and restore His people (all people, because He sees them all from His perspective of who He created them to be), I’ve come to realize I’ve separated healing and salvation into to two categories, when they are in fact the same thing.

If you look at the Greek word for salvation (sōtēria) and save (sōzō), both include health and healing in their definitions. So, in a sense, we are praying for our pre-believers to be healed in their spirit. Salvation is so complete and so perfect in its provision from Jesus Christ. We tend to see it merely as the rescue from hell and a guarantee of heaven, but it is so much more. 

Amazingly, Jesus displays this in John 5 with the story of the invalid man waiting to be healed in the pool of Bethesda. Where the English translations use only one word for ‘healing,’ the Greek, in fact, uses four. And there is a progression in this passage that reflects not only the man’s physical healing but his spiritual healing—salvation and the revelation of his identity in Jesus—as well.

In doing word studies of the Greek text, I’ve found some precious nuggets. And I would love—and I do mean love—to share those, but I fear you would get bored. Plus I’m reaching the sweet spot of how long a good post should be in the blogosphere and don’t want to wear out my welcome. 

Suffice it to say, this progression reveals the limitations that we as humans beings place on what Jesus can do and what Jesus really can do. So I will share the best part of this exchange between Jesus and the invalid. 

In verse five where Jesus asks the man if He wants to be healed, He’s not just talking about the man’s body. Jesus means healed, saved and the understanding of who the man is to God. Notice the man doesn’t reply with a yes, only with reasons why he isn’t healed yet. He’s not comprehending what Jesus really means at this point, but it’s clear he does want to be healed.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. When Jesus says ‘get up’ in verse eight, He’s actually saying wake up and rise up out of his disease and sin. Jesus is calling him out, in a good way. What’s so interesting is that Jesus finds the man (whether by happenstance or intentionally isn’t clear, but I suspect it was very intentional), He finishes what he started in the man’s physical healing by giving the man a revelation of his new state—a transformation of the man’s thinking (Rom 12:2).

“See, you are well!” 

The Greek word for ‘see’ (ide) means behold, look. In other words, Jesus was saying, “See yourself as I do.”

And it gets even better. The Greek for ‘well’ is ginomai and means to become, come into existence, finished as with a miracle, be made.

Jesus was telling the man to see himself as the new creation (reborn) he now was, as the man God created him to be. Jesus was calling out the truth placed in the man—eternity, which is the intention of God to heal, save and deliver (sozo) and be the child of God he was always intended to be. A man of God, complete and equipped with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph 1:3).

My friends, this is what we can “call out” of our spouses with how we sit, walk, and stand in our faith. And that is what I’m so looking forward to exploring with you. What do you think? Is this something you’re interested in pursuing? If so, start asking the Holy Spirit to help you see your spouse through His eyes and give you a revelation of who he or she is to God. 

He may show you a small detail or give you a bigger image of who your spouse is in Jesus. Because the promise is already there, SUMites. As we are told in Psalm 139, Father God knew us before we were ever born. That is true for our spouses too. They may not know God yet, but God definitely knows them.

And that, my friends, is what I want us to partner with God to release in our spouses. Oh, this is going to be so good! Amen!

Love you so much!
Dineen