13 posts categorized "Stewardship"

The Enemy Cannot Handle This!

Hey SUM family, Tiffany Here!

Sunday, September 29th is the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. We've talked about this Jewish holiday over the years. In fact, the first time I'd ever been made aware of it's significance was because of a blog post from either Lynn or Dineen. For those who are not familiar or are new to this holiday, a simple "Rosh Hashanah" search on this site will provide you with a wealth of information. Feel free to check out the archives!

My prayer for us today is that we will each take away something fresh and new. Holy Spirit, reveal to us the heartbeat of God. Amen!

Rosh Hashanah isn't actually a biblical holiday but a traditional Jewish holiday. The term "Rosh Hashanah" means "head of the year" and is celebrated as the Jewish New Year. This is a two-day celebration that proceeds Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).

In the beginning of this month, the Lord really pressed upon me to watch Patty Tower's talk that was given at the SUMite Summit this last April. I decided to go back and watch it again. (I will provide a link below so you can revisit that as well. It is absolutely worth a re-watch!)

As I sat down to think about Rosh Hashanah and what I would include in this post, I went back to my notes from Patty's message. There is so much good in this message but I want to point out one theme:

  • Joshua 6 - God gives specific instructions about the destruction and taking of the city of Jericho. In verse 20 we see the result of following God's plan and not their own: "So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city."
  • Patty called us to march around our house 7 times and shout, declare, pray and praise things into existence. It was in the great shout that the walls fell flat down.

Rosh Hashanah isn't in the Bible; however, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, is. Let's take a look.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.  You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ ” - Leviticus 23:23-25

The Hebrew word, Teruah, in Leviticus for blowing trumpets is the same word used in Joshua 6 where they shouted with a great shout. The first day of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Teruah, is a day of blowing trumpets or shouting.

Notice what else it says in Leviticus about this day - you shall have a sabbath-rest. Yom Teruah happens to fall on a Sunday. The day we, as children of God, call our sabbath!

So, why is this important for us? If we are not Jewish, what is the point of celebrating this time of year?

We've already seen in our community some amazing things worth celebrating. Many professions of faith and baptisms with our spouses, children or others we love. Libby gave us a beautiful word about the SUMite community with her picture of the mountain. The SUMite Summit where some gathered in California being at the top and from that trickle, the waters of our faith continued to pool together to create a river at the bottom.

I truly believe something was activated in the heavenlies and we have set off a chain reaction. The enemy has been stirred to anger and we have seen much push back from illness, discord with our spouses and children, financial struggles, backsliding, strongholds etc.

However, I truly believe that God is calling His children deeper. I believe that He is stirring in us a hunger and thirst that can no longer be quenched by fear, pain or opposition tactics from the enemy.  I believe that NOW is the time for us to press in all the more into the God of Miracles. NOW is the time to storm the gates of Heaven for our spouses, children, our complete freedom and healing. I believe that NOW is the time for us to suit up and prepare for battle.

There is a shifting going on right now. As we are in this transition period, it is up to US if we are going to take God at His word - for our destinies, purposes, signs, miracles and wonders. We cannot afford to give up or give in. The future of generations to come hangs in the balance. It sounds intense but don't worry! Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Patty's talk at the SUMite Summit: https://www.facebook.com/SpirituallyUnequalMarriage/videos/387269661859875/

There is so much more I could say but I've gone on a little long.

As we approach this Jewish New Year, what are the things you are coming to the Throne of Grace for? What do you hope to see in this new season? Shout

Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! -- Psalm 47:1 (Shout here is the root word of teruah ::grin::)

We are going to shake the heavens and the earth with our shouts! In the comments, give a mighty shout to the Lord. Thank Him for the victory you've been praying and waiting for! Decree and declare that these prayers are answered in Jesus' mighty name! Now it is up to you to take Him at His word. Trust. Believe. Wait and see. God is so good. And He is worthy of the wait. Hugs!

 

 


Hold on Because Your LIFE Depends On It

Hello SUM Family, Tiffany here!

I shared with you at the conference that God has been speaking to me about cedars. Legacy pendantI saw a vision of a tree that was my family

legacy. The deep roots were the word of God so deeply hidden beneath the soil. I wanted to share with you something that I have been working on. These are words that He has been saying about me. (To keep it from getting too long I will only expound on a few)  Let's call today, "Motivation Monday." May these words be a motivation for you to believe what God says about you.

Cedars of Lebanon, Tiffany Carter, 5/31/19

Champion - (1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Romans 8:37; Deuteronomy 20:4; Isaiah 6:8)

Elevator - one that lifts or raises someone/something up; exhorter - one who incites by argument, or advice; strongly urges; exultor - one who is extremely joyful; leaps for joy; rejoices); exalter - to elevate by praise; raise high; to enhance the activity of; intensify. (Deuteronomy 18:18; Proverbs 14:34; Psalm 68:3; Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 3:13)

Deeply rooted - existing for a long time and very difficult to change; firmly established; deeply implanted. (Psalm 1:3; Colossians 2:6-7; John 15:5; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Daniel 2:22; Isaiah 45:3)

Ancient - (Jeremiah 6:16; Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 1:4-5)

Righteousness - (Psalm 92:12-13; Proverbs 21:21; Psalm 112:6-8; Matthew 6:33; Hosea 10:12)

Stalwart Matriarch - woman that rules or dominates her family, group or state who is marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit. (Psalm 68:11; Proverbs 22:6; James 5:16; Psalm 102:18; Psalm 103:17; Proverbs 14:1)

Overarching Protector - (Matthew 6:10; Ezekiel 22:30; Proverbs 11:11; Jeremiah 29:7)

Freedom - (Psalm 18:48; Ezekiel 3:12; Psalm 119:45; Romans 6:14)

Legacy - something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past; carried over from an earlier time. (Psalm 145:4; Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua 24:14-15; Proverbs 13:22; Psalm 78:2-4; Exodus 20:5-6; Deuteronomy 6:5-7; 2 Timothy 2:2)

Emanate Love - (1 Peter 4:8; 1 Corinthians 16:14; Colossians 3:14; Ephesians 5:2; Matthew 22:37-39; Hebrews 10:24-25; Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 20:6-7; 1 John 4:11; 1 John 3:16-18)

Bethel - house of God. (1 Corinthians 9:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 4:1-2; Psalm 119:37; Romans 8:5-7)

Anointed - to smear or rub with oil or an oily substance; to apply oil to as part of a religious ceremony; to choose by or as if by divine election. (Isaiah 22:22; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20-21; 1 John 2:27; John 15:16; Psalm 45:7; Isaiah 44:3)

Non-conforming - (2 Corinthians 3:12; Romans 12:1-2; John 17:14-16; Revelation 12:11; Luke 6:27-36)

Ornamental - one who lends grace or beauty; adorned - to enliven. (1 Peter 3:3-4; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Proverbs 31:30; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Genesis 1:27; 1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Samuel 16:7)

New - (Hebrews 12:24; Galatians 3:26-27; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Isaiah 43:18-19; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17; 1 Peter 1:3; Mark 2:22).

Storms, temptations and trials will come and try to divert your eyes. The deceiver will come and try to cause you to doubt if not forget these life fulfilling promises.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lordyour God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

--Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Do whatever is necessary to remember and cling to these promises. I love making jewelry (see photo above) so this is a good tangible way for me to see His word on a regular basis.

How great of a Daddy we have that He would speak something so special and unique to you individually. Let's talk in the comments: What are some ways that you remember His promises in your own life? What helps you to keep your eyes on the prize set before you?

 


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.


You Are Making New Wine

Hey there SUM family, Tiffany here!

We are on the verge of a major breakthrough. I believe that this is both  individual and corporate for our SUM community and our families. Already we have seen a few wondrous accounts of spouses getting baptized into the faith! Hallelujah! Strongholds are breaking in our lives as well as our spouses. We are seeing addictions begin to cease. Affections returning in marriages. What a great time to be alive!

I wanted to share something that God is stirring in my heart. During the fast and even recently, I am hearing the phrase "new wine." I am barely scratching the surface of where Holy Spirit is trying to take me but I wanted to share my heart because I feel it is important. When breakthrough is upon us, there is always a push back from the forces of darkness. Freedom, identity, purpose, birthright. These are all things that scare the enemy. Satan and his minions know that when we step into the calling and purpose that God has ordained for us and we walk in our authority they are in big trouble! Is it any wonder that there are flair ups and illness, death and financial strain?

Back to new wine. Let's take a look at what Jesus had to say:

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of
the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:14-17)

Side note: it is interesting that Holy Spirit brought me to this scripture during the community fast. John's disciples originally asked Jesus a question about fasting.

When thinking about the process of making wine in ancient Israel it always begins with a pressing and crushing of the grapes. Grapes did not last very long when harvested in the heat New wine flagand climate of the season. The farmers would instantly turn the grapes into wine and store them in the wineskins to preserve them for longer periods of time. It was actually the process of crushing the grapes that started the fermentation process. During fermentation, carbon dioxide is released so new wineskins were needed for their elasticity to allow for expansion as the gas was released.

In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came and filled the apostles in the Upper Room during Pentacost. A crowd gathered as they heard a noise and realized that they could understand men speaking in their own native tongues. The people in the crowd were amazed and perplexed. There were also some who accused the apostles of being drunk on "new wine (NKJV)." Paul urges in Ephesians 5:18 to not be drunk on wine but be filled with the Holy Spirit.

What does this have to do with what Jesus said in Matthew 9? For us as believers today, being filled with the Holy Spirit we need to realize that He is the one who leads us into all truth - He speaks what He hears from the Father through Jesus (John 16:13). He is the new wine inside of us. We are the wineskin (vessel). Just like the fermentation process as carbon dioxide is released in the wine making process, Holy Spirit releases things in us. He is always releasing, always leading. His job is to stir in us a call to become more like Jesus. He gives us guidance and direction. As the expansion happens to a wineskin, so does the pressure in our lives.

Being the wineskin, we are the ones who decide whether or not we will allow for this movement of Holy Spirit. Will we choose to listen? Will we be flexible as He calls us into the uncomfortable? We will refuse to allow the fermentation (preservation) process?

I am being drawn into a new level of worship. One that is completely uncomfortable and will really challenge me to worship the Lord with my WHOLE body. Take a look at the video below. I would love to explain my hearts desire further, maybe for another time. This is my inspiration into the new and exciting journey of flagging.

Let's talk in the comments. I would love to hear: What are some things that Holy Spirit is challenging you to do? What areas are you being drawn into the uncomfortable - for your preservation and God's glory? 


Marriage Killers - Finances- Part II

Slay The Marriage KillersSumites,

The comments on Friday’s post were fantastic. Go read some of the advice, if you need financial ideas. And the private emails I received (Wes) were also encouraging. Financial education and equipping of the Saints are definitely needs as well as a marriage saver!

Before I move on to the next Marriage Killer in this series, I want to post once more time about finances and offer you a few more helpful resources. At my home church this past Sunday, it was ironic that the pastor’s message was also on the topic of finances. (They say great minds think alike *grin*). My local church put together some resources to assist people with managing their spending plan, Financial Stewardship Ministry <- click here. I’m including the link as it offers some helpful information.

Every dollar appI also wanted to mention that our pastor and his wife use a financial application, Every Dollar. This is an app for your iPhone or Android that keeps a monthly record on your spending. It allows to budget for date night, groceries, bills, etc. When money is spent it is accounted for and BOTH, husband and wife, can view and record expenditures and are on the same page as they reach the family’s financial goals in real time. *

Wow…. I wish I had something like that in the early years. We used envelopes. So, two things this week.

  1. Practice a new response to all who ask you, “How are you?” You respond, “I’m blessed and highly favored.”
  2. Today in the comments, let’s give the LORD honor. Share a story when you were at the end of your financial rope, your prayed and a miracle provision arrived. I will share some of your stories on our FB page (no names). I can’t wait to rejoice in your Testimony as you honor Jesus.

Okay, next post…. I’ll be covering the wickedest Marriage Killer that faces a bride and groom. Stay tuned! We are living strong and thriving in our marriages! Hugs, Lynn

*Thanks John Hansen


Go to the Nations!

By Ann Hutchison

It was a Saturday night. The wine was flowing, and my husband and I were laughing with our friends. Then it happened: The host rolled his eyes, and said “Yeah, believing in God is like believing in Santa Claus.”  SUM nations

Oh dear. That was it for me. After five years of spiritual loneliness, I’d had all I could take. “Excuse me,” I said, and left the table. When I returned, I did not exactly bring a cheerful mood with me. 

It was not my finest moment, and by the time I got home I was regretting it. “Why couldn’t I just have been gracious?” I thought. The truth was, my heart had just got too sore.

I talked to my husband about it later and he didn’t think it disastrous, but he did say one thing that stuck: “Ann, I know this is hard but please don’t ask me to change my social life because of your faith.” I hugged him and promised I wouldn’t.

I know many SUMites are in the same boat: We’re as far from a Christian bubble as a couple can be. Tricky as it is, though, I’ve come to see it’s right where I’m meant to be. This beautiful statement has helped:

The glorious Gospel of the blessed God has been committed to my trust.

(from 1 Timothy 1:11)

This makes me take a long pause. And commit to keep going.

As I began thinking about the entrusted Gospel, and the phrase “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19), it occurred to me that to be effective in a nation, it's helpful to intimately know the mindsets. And with my own ‘nation’ (atheist friends and neighbors), I can say this is how we’re rolling. I’m right there, intimately involved in their stories. I love the same things they love, I love them, and I understand the reasons for their disbelief. 

As a mission field, though, I will say it feels impossible -- Partly because of the culture, but mostly because it seems that hearts aren’t up for God. Where there is no will, there is no Way.

Finding this impossibility tough, I decided to look at some great missionaries. “How do they do it?”, I wondered. I’d say the answer is that the Holy Spirit’s power pours down onto years and years of people's prayers. But there’s also a process and, to help me see that, God led me to one particular book: Millie Dawson’s ‘All the Day Long’. It was so good I want to tell you about it.

In 1953, Millie and her husband Joe moved from their comfortable, all-American life to the depths of the Amazon rainforest. They moved in with the Yanomami people, had their children there, and never left. It was primitive, dangerous and, best of all, impossible.

The book reveals how, over fifty years (fifty!!) the impossible became possible. Today there is a thriving Yanomami church right there in the Amazon, and for the Dawsons, it’s home. In amongst those fifty years, however, were many, many years where nothing was happening and no one wanted to know about Jesus. Hearts weren't ready.

What they did want was friendship, and the Dawson kids mixed and mingled in places where witch doctors were cooking up their stuff. Scary? Nope. The influence went one way only: The occasional witch doctor turned Christian. As I read the book, it seemed to me the kids were all part of winning the nation.

The other thing I realized was that culture is not the obstacle -- Hearts are. While I have fretted over the cultural strongholds in my neighbors' lives, I realize that culture is no match for Jesus. The real issue is whether people’s hearts are willing to accept Him and change their life trajectory.

The Yanomami nation was seemingly ‘impossible’ but for God, of course, nothing is impossible. Having seen and read about many impossibilities now, I do believe the same will happen for my nation. In the meantime, my husband and I are right in the action.

Do you have a nation that’s on your heart, whether it’s a group, aspect of society, geographical area, or family?  Feel free to share in the comments and I'll pray for you. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy this beautiful Kiwi worship song and blessing over the cities and nations -- from my nation to yours.

Nice chatting!

Ann

 

 


What About Tithing?

I stated earlier in the week that on Saturdays we will post relevant articles from our archives that will address common spiritually mismatched issues in marriage. This is a re-post from April 28, 2009. It remains true, relevant and powerful for the unequally yoked who yearn to tithe. Hugs, Lynn

******

For the next several Tuesdays we will be answering the questions left on last week's Open Forum. And we love your questions! So please feel free to ask more.

This week's question is from Amanda:

788824_dollar_bill"I would love to hear how you handle giving (financially) in a SUM. I don't think it would be accurate to say that my husband is an unbeliever exactly, but he is less inclined than I am to dedicate this life to living for God. The biggest struggle we have is regarding tithing and offerings- he generally feels that the 10% is an arbitrary number that has no bearing on modern life. Any thoughts on how to handle this is greatly appreciated!"

 

Lynn's Answer: Tithing: This is a controversial issue in any marriage but this is one area where unequally yoked couples tend to be at odds frequently. What does the Bible say about tithing? Let’s take a look.

Actually the Bible has much to say about money. Jesus taught us to use our money to influence friends.

Luke 16:9 (NIV) I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?

He also said, Luke 12:48b (NIV) From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

There are many scriptures in the Old Testament which address tithing. Look in the first book of the Bible, Genesis: And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him (Melchizedek, king of Salem) a tenth of everything. Chapter 14:20.

But I want you to remember, we live in the new Age. The age of grace given to us by Christ Jesus. We are no longer subject to the law.

With that said, the following scripture is what speaks to me about tithing:

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV) Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

So how does this play out in real-life with our spouse. From my own marriage I can tell you that my husband can get worked up about tithing. Because of the years of televangelists pleading for money then misappropriating it, my husband has a jaded view of “giving to the church.” Can I get an AMEN?

And honestly, I can understand why he might feel that way. I have been careful not to push tithing as an issue in our marriage. I give a small portion of our income. Very small. So small that it does not create discord in our relationship. Do I feel bad about this or desire to give more? YES! However, I trust God to see my heart. He knows what I would like to do. More importantly He does not want tithing to become one more issue to drive my husband away from Jesus.

So, I give of my time. I volunteer in ministry. A lot! But not so much that I neglect our home, or him or our daughter. God honors this in our life.

What God really wants is not our money. He wants our heart. First and foremost. Period. The End.

Look at the scriptures below and discover what God really wants. Hint, it is not your checkbook. Be Blessed, Lynn

Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

Psalm 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

 

Dineen's Answer: Tithing is a very difficult issue to settle clearly, and I think Lynn's advice above is sound and the Scripture references are perfect. What I'm about to share is what worked for me.

About 12 years ago, the tithing issue came up big time in my marriage. I'd just recommitted my life to Christ and had joined a church I adored. And my precious hubby had made the decision for atheism. Talk about a couple going in opposite directions!

The tithing issue weighed heavily on my heart though. I wanted to do our part and worried what it would mean if we didn't. At the time I was reading a book called The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life by Charles Stanley. He tells you do this exercise where you write whatever decision you're grappling with on a note card or piece of paper. Then find a quiet place to pray uninterrupted. Ask God to make you absolutely neutral in this decision. Once you've prayed, tear it up, acknowledging your willingness to become neutral and continue praying until you are convinced you're neutral about it.

I wrote on a card that I would ask my husband what he felt we could tithe each month and that I would accept whatever he said. Once I'd prayed and felt I'd reached this place of neutrality, I went to my husband and asked what we could do. He told me a figure. Amazingly, I was fine with it. And though it was not the 10% I thought we were supposed to give, it was more than I'd hoped for. Every year since, I've asked my husband what he feels we can handle, and that's been the commitment ever since.

No, it's not 10%, but I know I'm honoring God and my husband by doing it this way, and that I can give in other ways as well, like using my graphic design skills and programs to do the church newsletter.

And as time has progressed, I've found that I'm the one tested in this. For example, roughly three years ago I started doing freelance graphic design work again. From the start I made the decision to tithe 10% of the extra money I earned. And my hubby was fine with it.

My income has slowly but steadily increased. When we've needed the money, the work has come in. When God had something more important for me to do, like take care of  my daughter when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the work literally stopped until the very last week of her treatment. I was faithful, therefor so was God. And you'll notice this had to do with me, not my husband.

So, Amanda, if we were sitting down with a nice cup of coffee and some girl-talk, I would tell you not to worry about the amount but the heart and motivation behind it. God wants us to tithe our resources happily as a way of giving thanks, and a reminder that we what have—money, skills, resources—are from his hand anyway. Ask your husband what he's comfortable with and honor it. That way he's not grumbling and neither are you. Then let God do the rest.

Praying and believing,
Dineen

 


What Happened in 2013?

17430183_sMy friends, as we draw closer to our fast next week, I think it’s important that we look back and see what happened over the year. I love to look back at what I wrote in January before during our 2013 fast and see what promises and words Abba gave me came to fruition. And this year, I truly needed it.

Much has happened in my own personal faith walk. Abba gave me the word “worship” last year not just for me for our community too. Thus was born our Weekend Worship segments and worship has become a vital part of my faith walk this year.

But I felt like nothing had really changed in my family. Until I went back and read what Abba spoke to me last January. Two things stood out. The first one was about the word Abba gave me for husband—something He hadn’t done before.

That word was "prosperity" and came with a verse (Proverbs 11:25) that popped up many times over the year and even shifted in its relevance for us.

Let me tell you there were many times over the last year where I wondered if I’d heard right. We went through our roughest financial trial to date, and we are still recovering and will be for months. But to look back showed me that Abba did move and provide in stunning ways (even to sending the $80 I needed for medications) and opened a door for my husband professionally what will continue to open more and more over the next three years. It’s a slow process, which is exactly how it should be as we learn more and more about stewardship. Abba told me my husband would be blessed through me and that is exactly what has happened as I contended for my family this past year.

The second one my daughter Leslie helped me see. Abba told me in January that her verse for 2013 was Joshua 1:9 and that He would give her courage and strength. From my perspective, I hadn’t seen much of a change in her and have even despaired over it. Yet last week she did something stunning. She ran to Target the day after Christmas to exchange something—by herself. That may seem like a little thing but for my girl who struggles with anxiety, that was huge!

When I told her how proud I was of her, she told me she hadn’t had an anxiety attack all year long. Wow. Abba did give her the strength and courage SHE needed, not what mom thought she needed. And on New Years Day, she wanted to run to Walgreens and asked if anyone wanted to go with her. Tired lot that we were, all declined. She still went on her own and enjoyed her outing. Wow!

My friends, what about you? How has Abba moved in your life this year? And if you haven’t already, begin seeking Abba for what He wants for you in 2014. Write it down so you can go back next year and see it. Write down! I love doing this and even begin praying for my word in December so I am ready to hear it during our fast. This year before I could even finish my prayer, Abba rushed in and spoke it clearly to me.

Chosen.

Chosen, as it says in Ephesians 1, that we are chosen. When I heard this, my mind accepted it as I always have, that I am chosen by Jesus, just as you are. But Jesus wanted me to understand that there is more to this word than I thought.

I’ve always seen it as a broad word that applies to all of us across the board. But He said no, “this is not a one size fits all, Dineen. I chose you just as I created you—specifically.”

And then He impressed upon my heart that this is true for each and every one of us. True for all yet individually specific to each of us in the how, why and purpose.

So seek Jesus, my friends, for what He chose for you. Not just what you are to do to serve, but for your life and who you are. He also told me this would be a “Year of Intimacy.” I can’t wait!

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Tomorrow our very own Teresa T. will introduce us to our fast and has an amazing word for us each day next week. I’ve had the privilege to take a sneak peak and I promise you will be amazed at what Teresa has written for us. On day one she has a special gift for us that will bring you to tears so have a tissue handy. I bawled like a baby!

Get ready to be encouraged, inspired and loved by Jesus. Because He chose you. He CHOSE you.

My precious and dear friends, I can’t wait to meet you in the comments next week as we fast. I am already praying for you in many ways specific to what you have requested already and to what Abba has laid upon my heart. His love and passion for us is so deep and true and wide (Eph. 3:18).

Love you all so much!
Dineensig

 

 

Image credit: lenm / 123RF Stock Photo


A Tale of Prosperity

GodisFaithfulMy friends, I have some news to share and I’m so happy I can share it with you, especially since so many of you prayed for me and my family over our financial situation.

But let me start at the beginning of this God-filled story.

At the end of each year I begin praying for words and Scriptures for each of my family members. Then during our week of fasting here at SUM, I set time aside to pray specifically for each one and listen to what He tells me.

So, last January as I prayed for my husband, I heard the word “prosperity.” This is a word that can mean many things but in light of our financial struggles, which was part of my prayers, I felt this related to that. I kept an open mind though, because above all, I am seeking my husband’s spiritual prosperity, and I believe all of this is interrelated.

But even then, I questioned how this would be possible in light of my husband’s continued unbelief. Abba told me, “I bless him through you.”

And He didn’t stop there. He spoke to me about integrity through these Scriptures:

I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart. — Psalm 101:2b

As for you, if you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, — 1Kings 9:4

I knew Abba wanted me to walk in this place of accountability and integrity as well, even though I hadn’t a clue what that would look like. But on that day on January 4, 2013, I prayed this:

Lord, I will walk in my home, in my life with integrity of heart and uprighteness. Let my heart be as Yours, Jesus, and my strength to be upright from You as well, Holy Spirit. In Your Holy Name, Jesus, amen.

Then just three days later, Abba led me to this verse:

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. — Proverbs 11:25

Little did I know how much worse our financial situation would become when we faced the loss of my husband’s job (A blessing since it wasn’t a place of integrity, and Abba opened a new door for him at a small start-up.), a wedding to pay for, and an unexpected ER visit that would bring us nearly to the breaking point. Perfect ground for Abba to come in and do miracles, right?

Well, yes, but not what I expected. I wanted Abba to come in with a big swoop and set everything right. He wanted to do things His own way so that His will would be accomplished as He planned and saw best. I can honestly tell you that though I’ve no doubt things were accomplished, as of today I only have a partial picture, because this story is still playing out.

And there were many days I wondered if I had misunderstood, days where I wondered how I would be able to pay for needed medications, pay bills, or keep food on the table. I’m still in awe as to how He did that, just enough to provide but not undo what our perseverance was accomplishing.

The waiting and the wondering have been the most challenging, as I’m sure you know. Many of us are in this place somewhere in our lives where we are waiting for God’s promise to materialize and save the day. And when conditions get worse, we find it harder to persevere and stand in place, because we wonder if we heard wrong or had we done something to mess things up. I’ve bought into that last lie a lot in the past.

And that’s what it is, a lie. Abba is not fickle with His favor, and from experience, I can truthfully say that sometimes the worst of a situation must be exposed before restoration can begin. Like an infected wound, the puss must be cleansed in order for healing to begin.

Now back to the good news. The start-up my hubby works for has been acquired by a large company and that is good for all concerned. This will enable us to recover slowly and even reach for a particular dream we have in our minds and hearts in about a year or so.

I love that Abba is doing this slowly so that we can continue to grow and be good stewards through all this as He continues to work in my hubby’s heart. I sense this is still a crucial time for growth and preparation for what’s coming down the road.

So, my friends, I hope this encourages you to continue to persevere and keep trusting God. If you feel your promise is delayed, ask Abba why. Above all remember that He does not withhold His good from us and if there’s something we’re asking for and not getting, He’s most likely protecting us or wanting to give us something better.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” — Matthew 7:9-11

Abba, I pray that You would stir our hearts and our spirits with wisdom to pray for your good gifts and give us the patience, endurance and perseverance we need in the time between our request, our thanks and our receipt of Your good and perfect gifts. Give us supernatural eyes and ears to see and hear Your presence every day. We love and praise You, King Jesus, and give You all the glory. Amen!

Love you all so much, my friends. If you have a prayer that you have been are carrying alone, share it and let’s pray for each other. Where two or three gather in His name...

Dineensig


What about Tithing?

For the next several Tuesdays we will be answering the questions left on last week's Open Forum. And we love your questions! So please feel free to ask more.

This week's question is from Amanda:

788824_dollar_bill"I would love to hear how you handle giving (financially) in a SUM. I don't think it would be accurate to say that my husband is an unbeliever exactly, but he is less inclined than I am to dedicate this life to living for God. The biggest struggle we have is regarding tithing and offerings- he generally feels that the 10% is an arbitrary number that has no bearing on modern life. Any thoughts on how to handle this is greatly appreciated!"


Lynn's Answer: Tithing: This is a controversial issue in any marriage but this is one area where unequally yoked couples tend to be at odds frequently. What does the Bible say about tithing? Let’s take a look.

Actually the Bible has much to say about money. Jesus taught us to use our money to influence friends.

Luke 16:9 (NIV) I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?

He also said, Luke 12:48b (NIV) From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

There are many scriptures in the Old Testament which address tithing. Look in the first book of the Bible, Genesis: And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him (Melchizedek, king of Salem) a tenth of everything. Chapter 14:20.

But I want you to remember, we live in the new Age. The age of grace given to us by Christ Jesus. We are no longer subject to the law.

With that said, the following scripture is what speaks to me about tithing:

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV) Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

So how does this play out in real-life with our spouse. From my own marriage I can tell you that my husband can get worked up about tithing. Because of the years of televangelists pleading for money then misappropriating it, my husband has a jaded view of “giving to the church.” Can I get an AMEN?

And honestly, I can understand why he might feel that way. I have been careful not to push tithing as an issue in our marriage. I give a small portion of our income. Very small. So small that it does not create discord in our relationship. Do I feel bad about this or desire to give more? YES! However, I trust God to see my heart. He knows what I would like to do. More importantly He does not want tithing to become one more issue to drive my husband away from Jesus.

So, I give of my time. I volunteer in ministry. A lot! But not so much that I neglect our home, or him or our daughter. God honors this in our life.

What God really wants is not our money. He wants our heart. First and foremost. Period. The End.

Look at the scriptures below and discover what God really wants. Hint, it is not your checkbook. Be Blessed, Lynn

Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

Psalm 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'


Dineen's Answer: Tithing is a very difficult issue to settle clearly, and I think Lynn's advice above is sound and the Scripture references are perfect. What I'm about to share is what worked for me.

About 12 years ago, the tithing issue came up big time in my marriage. I'd just recommitted my life to Christ and had joined a church I adored. And my precious hubby had made the decision for atheism. Talk about a couple going in opposite directions!

The tithing issue weighed heavily on my heart though. I wanted to do our part and worried what it would mean if we didn't. At the time I was reading a book called The Wonderful Spirit Filled Life by Charles Stanley. He tells you do this exercise where you write whatever decision you're grappling with on a note card or piece of paper. Then find a quiet place to pray uninterrupted. Ask God to make you absolutely neutral in this decision. Once you've prayed, tear it up, acknowledging your willingness to become neutral and continue praying until you are convinced you're neutral about it.

I wrote on a card that I would ask my husband what he felt we could tithe each month and that I would accept whatever he said. Once I'd prayed and felt I'd reached this place of neutrality, I went to my husband and asked what we could do. He told me a figure. Amazingly, I was fine with it. And though it was not the 10% I thought we were supposed to give, it was more than I'd hoped for. Every year since, I've asked my husband what he feels we can handle, and that's been the commitment ever since.

No, it's not 10%, but I know I'm honoring God and my husband by doing it this way, and that I can give in other ways as well, like using my graphic design skills and programs to do the church newsletter.

And as time has progressed, I've found that I'm the one tested in this. For example, roughly three years ago I started doing freelance graphic design work again. From the start I made the decision to tithe 10% of the extra money I earned. And my hubby was fine with it.

My income has slowly but steadily increased. When we've needed the money, the work has come in. When God had something more important for me to do, like take care of  my daughter when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the work literally stopped until the very last week of her treatment. I was faithful, therefor so was God. And you'll notice this had to do with me, not my husband.

So, Amanda, if we were sitting down with a nice cup of coffee and some girl-talk, I would tell you not to worry about the amount but the heart and motivation behind it. God wants us to tithe our resources happily as a way of giving thanks, and a reminder that we what have—money, skills, resources—are from his hand anyway. Ask your husband what he's comfortable with and honor it. That way he's not grumbling and neither are you. Then let God do the rest.

Praying and believing,
Dineen



Trouble ~ Transition ~ Tension

Today is our conclusion to the Love Our Neighbor series. Walking through this scripture has left me permanently changed. My heart for people softened. This series brought with it the Kingdom Assignment. God gave us a chance to practice kindness, and goodness. He gave us a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He watched, as we loved our neighbor.

This series unfolded Matthew 22:36-39 and Matthew 25: 14-30.

I understand this command in a way I never did before:

Matthew 22: 36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Our world reverberates with hate, bitterness, and broken dreams. When we give our love away a doorway opens. Kindness and compassion overcomes barriers, hatred, and anger.

It opens a door to share Jesus.

Today, right now in our country and in our world, doors are opening.

People come to know God usually through three circumstances; trouble, transition, and tension. The pressures of the terrible T's propel people to search for God. Our world is smack in the middle of all three. People are scared, they are in financial trouble, and tension mounts each day as we watch the nightly news.

Our opportunity is NOW.

From this day forward I will never be the same. I am going to live every day of my life, giving love away, opening the door for God. I will be obedient. I will be kind. I will live compassion. I will live for Jesus.

If we truly live in this kind of obedience, our unbelieving spouses, our children, our neighbors, the world will know there is a God and He lives and works in our lives.

Lord, this is my prayer for every reader who stopped here in the last few months. Let your Holy Spirit fill us so full, that kindness is in our every breath, love in our eyes, and compassion in our hearts. Let us live it. Let us be the door to share with this broken world the life-changing truth: OUR GOD SAVES! I ask this in the powerful, awesome, glorious name of Jesus, our Redeemer, and our Lord. Amen.

Please share with me what happened with your Kingdom Assignment. Whatever you did with your dollar is exactly what the Lord wanted. Don't judge it unworthy of mention. Allow the Lord Jesus to receive honor because you used God's money in some way to serve His kingdom. Write to me today a quick note. Please email me. You can read other's stories by going to the Kingdom Page through the link in the sidebar.

I am excited to see where the Lord will take us next. You should know I am always just as surprised by the Lord as you are when we walk through these journeys. Thank you for walking beside me. Your friendship, wisdom, and love are gifts I can never repay. But, I sure do tell my "Father" about all of you often. Have a blessed week, Lynn


I was a Kingdom Assignment

788824_dollar_bill Little did Lynn know that a kingdom assignment was already brewing back in May. A dear friend of mine found a lost treasure in a parking lot—a wad of money. She let the store know she'd found something valuable and left her phone number to call if anyone came forward. One phone call would gladly bring her and the treasure back to its rightful owner. She went to the police, but they basically told her there was nothing they could do. So she prayed for the owner to come forward and continued to pray for their loss all summer long.

One night at the hospital, she came to visit us. She handed me an envelope with this wonderful letter telling me how she'd found this literal "manna from heaven" on the ground. And how God led her and her family to give it to us. I was so amazed to hear the story and shocked when I opened the envelope!

God is so good. I couldn't imagine why he wanted us to have it, but I trusted him to know best. And since it was his money, truly, I wanted to tithe 10% back.

Then I got Lynn's letter and my dollar bill. I prayed about what I could possibly do right now with that dollar. I remembered that tithe I had ready to give to my church, and then thought I could take it and add to my kingdom dollar since I technically didn't earn it and felt free to use it elsewhere.

So off my little envelope went today to a friend in need, a check and that dollar. Yep, I "passed the buck," so to speak. (Now how could I resist using that one?) She can keep it or pass it on to another person as God leads her.

The joy of this is knowing that through a blessing I could bless another—the whole point of why we are here! God blesses us so that we may be a blessing to others. He never intended us to keep it all to ourselves. He even asks us to share our struggles so that others can share those blessings with us and share in that comfort—what I and my family have recently experienced in abundance.

We are all part of God's Kingdom. And His Kingdom is within us all.

"The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." — spoken by Jesus in Luke 17: 20-21

Praying and believing,
Dineen


GREEN

Today I want to share an email letter I received from one of my dear friends. Her heart for God and His creation is apparent. The timing of this letter is perfect as Tuesday was Earth Day. Be Blessed, Lynn

HAPPY EARTH DAY FRIENDS!! LET’S GO GREEN!!!


"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth... God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (Genesis 1:1, 31)

What better way than to begin my letter to you, my friends about an important Day and time in our Earth’s life. For several years I have made conscience efforts to change the way my family and I treat our Earth. After all it is the only longest living evidence of what our Lord our God has made for his children to inhabit. Knowing this day when we acknowledge and make ourselves aware of the value of our Earth, I have been thinking of what I would write to my children and to you about this year’s Earth Day. Therefore, this year I did something different.

I sat quietly and listened. I listened to the winds that have been blowing, to sounds of the leaves on the trees in my back yard, to water draining down the drains of my lawn, to the birds chirping to one another, to dogs barking at the wind and ultimately I believe in the wind I heard our Creator’s voice. His voice was showing me everything he had created and that yes indeed it was all good!

"If you follow my statutes and keep my commandments and observe them faithfully, I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit." (Leviticus 26:3-4)

So what can I do? Is what I am already doing enough? I hope we are asking ourselves these questions. I hope what I model to my children by the way I live and take care of our own little parcel of Earth they will learn to carry on these habits. Habits which I hope will help save the Earth for future generations.

Gradually over the last three years, I have switched all the lights in my house to CFLs – thank goodness CFLS come in all sizes and shapes now. So even my Dining Room chandelier has CFLs. I switched to Earth-friendly cleaning products by companies such as Shaklee, Seventh Generation and now even Clorox offers an Earth friendly product line. Using detergents that are high in concentration is a great way to save on the impact to our Earth. It helps cut down on the number of plastic containers that will end up in our landfills. These containers do not decompose.

Also, last year our newest addition to our routine at home has been two new trash containers in our home. Our family makes a conscience habit of separating our trash in the house by recycling. We have a can for paper, plastic, tin, foam and anything marked with a recycling symbol and number on it. Another can is for pop cans and bottles. The third can is for waste that we can’t recycle.

This year the newest thing I discovered is recycling my shopping bags. I know.... What a guilt I used to get about always throwing away these plastic bags. As a super busy mom I just didn’t have the time or forethought to put reusable shopping bags in my car to take to the store. Better still, I began to purchase reusable shopping bags. And, I remember to put them in my car to reuse and reuse.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)
"The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth; its inhabitants suffer for their guilt." (Isaiah 24:4-6)

It is up to us to teach our children how to save our Earth and give their grandchildren a safe and healthy Earth to live on. Our Lord our God has given us his commandments bazillions of years ago in the Bible reminding us to take care of the Earth and if we don’t, there would be consequences. Let’s just equate it to the Father telling us to Clean Up our Rooms or else! ;-) Isn’t that what we tell our kids?

There are so many ways we can make a difference to help make our Earth a better place to live and last for generations to come. I suggest starting slow. Do something that you know can be comfortable and easy for your family. Even if it is just shopping for products that have an earth-friendly sticker on them, organics for instance. Or maybe you just recycle your grocery bags? Heck screw in just a couple of CFLs. Chris and I have noticed in the three years we have been using them, we have saved almost $100 on our electric bill.

Well, I know this is a lengthy letter and I apologize. But I care about you and I want us to always be together on this beautiful planet. I hope you will consider what I have written and if you would like me to help you get started on ways to make a difference, let me know. I have many more ideas and ways that we use here at our home that I am sure we can find that one thing you can do to help save our Earth. :-)

I love you guys and God Bless our Happy Earth!

HAPPY EARTH DAY!!

Kerilyn