11 posts categorized "Suffering"

Endurance Training

Hi everyone, Ann again!

In Monday’s post I described how my children had sat at a table with me, my husband and friends and heard my testimony. Rear view mirror

Well, this week something crazy but parallel happened: My children sat at a table with me, my husband and friends and this time saw persecution. Yikes!

We were at a Mexican restaurant, laughing, when suddenly my friend’s mouth opened and out came a painful comment about Christians.

It was a comment that could have been considered funny but there was no opportunity for laughter as within an instant I went rage! I shot to my feet, hands on hips, stood over my friend, blurted out tempestuous words, and left the table. When I came back I was physically shaking.

Nobody enjoyed their burritos after that, especially not my husband.

Was my reaction good or bad? We turn the other cheek often, but this time felt different. My speed of reaction felt like I was a magnet being repelled. I know Jesus got mad sometimes. He sat at tables but he also messed up (overturned) tables in rage. I’m reflecting on that.

It’s now Friday as I write, and I’m unpacking the concept of persecution. What is it about? It seems so intensely spiritual:

“As he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now." (Galatians 4:29)

The Greek word for persecution, dioko, tells us more: Persecution is an active attempt to stop something. It is anything that resists.

As I’ve looked at scripture I’ve absorbed this: It’s the deal. Jesus sweated blood and we drink the same cup. To be a Christian is to be persecuted. In others’ eyes we are, by design, the scum of the earth, a spectacle, refuse and fools (1 Cor 4:9-13). Wow, that sucks -- I guess I forgot.

Scripture also shows us the reason: It is to stop the power of the cross and to destroy the church (Gal 1:13, 5:11, 6:12). Given this, should I ever be surprised by it? Perhaps, instead, I should go with a great phrase a friend gave me: “Oh, here comes old hairy legs again!”

All week I’ve been talking to God about it and I think I have some ways forward. It starts with this:

“If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.” 1 Peter 4:14 (NKJV)

I’ve been saying to God, then, “Thank you that I was persecuted because I see what it means. The Spirit of glory and of You rests on me.”

Second, scripture gives us a core word: Endure it (1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Timothy 3:10). This tells me that I may be too weary to do anything except just sit it out. Last night, then, to endure I went to bed early, made myself a cocoa and sat and re-read some of my journal from a more encouraging time.

My final insight from this week was this: I should approach the Throne of Grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in my time of need (Hebrews 4:16). I’ve got a prayer room in my house, it's our TV room. This week I retreated to it to approach that throne. I lit a candle, got into comfy clothes (fleece onesie, slipper socks) and said to Jesus: “Please minister to me. Take me to this Throne of Grace. Please comfort me. Please smother me in your peace. Help!” I sat with Him in the quiet.

A few hours later an email hit my inbox. It was an older Christian from overseas who had felt led to sit and write to me. He wrote, “I know I need to write you but I don’t know what.” He waited, then wrote a collection of statements. It turned into a couple of pages. Those pages were made just for me. It was one of those God moments.

As for my kids? Well, they’re front-row spectators of the action. It’s more than what they’d get in Sunday school, but hey. 

We all have these moments and I'm smiling again now. If you happen to be struggling with this issue too, feel free to reach out in the comments and I'd love to pray for you.

Nice chatting!

Ann


Advent - A Season of Waiting ...

 

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Photo courtesy of 9comeback/FreeDigitalPhotos.nety/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I received a call that I wasn’t expecting. From my sister. It was Saturday night, two weeks ago. She was relaying some information she’d received about our brother, John.

He had been admitted into hospital that afternoon, had an MRI that found he had a ‘mass’ in his head. Oh dear. Not at all what we wanted to hear.

And so the waiting began.

Over the next week John had a bunch of tests and scans. Lots of waiting for things to happen – John dubbed it “hospital time”. All confirmed there was only the one mass. Everything else was normal except that movement in both his right arm and right leg were slightly impaired. The mass was pressing on his brain impacting a signal to those limbs.

Finally, a biopsy was to be taken. But this was no simple biopsy as they had to get into his head. And therefore, there were risks involved. Because the mass was in an area of ‘high value real estate’ we were told.

The procedure went well and there were no complications. Praise God.

And then we waited. For the results.

Three days later a simple text message arrived. From John. “Diagnosed with B Cell lymphoma. Chemo starts Monday. Sorry for the curt message.”

My heart sunk.1

A Season to Wait

Advent commenced last Sunday (2 December). Advent is a time of waiting. The name Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Beginning each year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, Advent commemorates the birth of Jesus and also anticipates His return. As Ann Voskamp says we are “perpetual Advent people” waiting on Christ’s return. I’d add that we are also waiting on Jesus to do work in our heart regarding life’s circumstances.

We SUMites are used to waiting, aren’t we?

He doesn’t always immediately respond to our heart cry – “God help us!” So we wait. “He teaches us to stay in the waiting.” (Ruth Haley Barton) We sit with our longings: for good biopsy results, for our pre-believing spouses, and so on.

It’s important for us to not run away from our longings, to spend time with the Lord expressing our worries and fears. We see throughout the Scriptures, particularly in the OT and the Psalms how many times people cry out to God, whether it’s Rachel in her desire for children (Genesis 30) or David in his lament (for example, Psalm 6).

Light and Darkness

When we wait we often linger in darkness. The future is uncertain and dark. We don’t know what is going to happen. We don’t know what the diagnosis will be or if our spouses will choose Jesus. We typically associate negative connotations with the darkness, don’t we? But a lot of good things happen in the dark. Remember we were created in the darkness of the womb.

Lingering in uncertainty with our longings can also be a positive experience. Because we linger with God. Even if He feels distant we can claim the promises that He has given us in the Bible. “By His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)

Lighting candles is one of the symbols of Advent. It reflects Christ being the light of the world and coming through the darkness – “The true light that gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9)

During Advent we don’t just wait, we also anticipate. We anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. And we anticipate that He will come again to make all things new.

“Jesus Christ has come, and He is coming again. This is the heart of Advent.” (He Reads Truth)

The Branch Gives us Hope

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;


    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1-2)

Advent is all about hope. In the who is coming.

We can believe in that hope. Because He did come 2,000 years ago on that Christmas morn, born in a food trough, son to a teenage mom and her husband.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has come to us. He is in us and we are in Him.

We can believe in that hope. Because He has told us He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). Even when our beloved doesn’t know Him. Even when the diagnosis isn’t good.

Often when we’re in a season of wilderness or a battle or even the 24 days of Advent our hope is in the end, the arrival, the victory. Time and time again we see in the Bible, most often the true ‘victory’ occurs during the wilderness, or struggle or suffering. This is where we discover that God wants more of us; He wants our hearts to know Him deeply and intimately. This can only come through time with Him. I've always loved the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah, John the Baptist's parents, who lived in silence for 5 months of his gestation. During this period, Zechariah discovered the wonder of an intimate Father, and on John being born, as a result of his obedience in naming his son, Zechariah's tongue is freed and he opens by praising God (Luke 1:64)

Advent is counter cultural because it calls us to slow down from our busy schedules of Christmas parties and events to spend time waiting on Jesus, and leaning into Him as we discover and share the longings of our heart.  

I hope you are able to spend some time in the next few weeks reflecting on the hope of Advent. On Jesus. Allow His Words to “dwell in you richly.”

Wishing all of my SUMite friends a blessed Advent season full of childlike hope and anticipation.

Grace and peace,

1. Note: as a write this post, John is undergoing his first chemo treatment. We don't know what is going to happen this week, in the next weeks and months, but I have real comfort because John is in a great place with the Lord as he starts this challenging season. He wants to fall more in love with Him and discover all there is to life with Jesus. If you remember, we'd cherish any prayers you may utter for John. Thank you, my dear friends.


A Table Set For Victory

Hey SUM family, Tiffany Here.

I pray that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This is absolutely my favorite time of year. I love gathering with family, eating fantastic food and reflecting  on all of the favor, mercy, and goodness of Daddy that has happened for the year.

As I was thinking last week about what Holy Spirit wanted me to share, I fingerprinted a man with a business logo on his sweatshirt that said "Stillwater." This prompted me to look up "still water" in the Bible. The main passage that came to mind was in Psalm 23:

 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

TABLE BEFORE ENEMIES*Photo credit: Loving Grace Ministries

Reading this familiar passage again I was shocked to see verse 5, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..." I had completely forgotten that this verse was in this Psalm.

That is when Holy Spirit brought to my mind the song Surrounded (Fight My Battles) by Elyssa Smith from UPPERROOM. Forgive me if I've shared this song before. I love it so much. My favorite verses in this song say, "my weapons are praise and thanksgiving, this is how I fight my battles"

I have been seeing Psalm 23 all over the place since I first saw this man's sweatshirt. I know that of the Psalms, this one is so common and well known even in the secular world; however, this particular passage has not been on my radar for quite some time. Each and every time I am seeing a reference to Psalm 23 there is a different verse that is being highlighted. I think I need to dwell here for a while! I was inspired so much so that I committed this passage to memory. This is a first for me to memorize an entire passage. Woot!

I think with all of the apparent darkness and chaos going on in our community (illness, death, financial struggle, marriage breakdown, depression, chronic pain, etc) and in the world today I want us to meditate on this phrase, "I am beginning to see the darkness around me is just the shadow of Your wings." *Note: this is not my phrase, this gets me every time I listen to this song...SO SO GOOD.*

God has gone up with a shout,
The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding. (Psalm 47)

Please know that our Daddy is surrounding you with His love, presence, favor, mercy, and grace. I know we all know this but may we truly rejoice and sing praises with understanding! Understand your are highly favored. Understand you are loved. Understand you are cherished. Understand in your weakness He is strong. Understand that even in the toughest time of your life He is in control. Understand you are seated with Christ Jesus. Understand you have authority. Understand you are the victor. Understand it. Is. Finished!

Let us lift our voices in one accord today:

I don't know about you the Lord uses songs to get me through the darkest days. Share in the comments some songs that see you through tough times. Your suggestions could be healing salve and oil of joy to another. I love you SUM family.


Deliverance After YEARS Of Torment! Hallelujah!

Hello SUM Family, Tiffany Here!

The last couple of months I have been sharing a bit about what I have learned from reading a book called From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris. I was assigned to read this book in class and I am so glad that I read it! This book has been truly amazing. To read the previous two posts I've written in this "mini-series" click on the links below.

This Is Just The Pits!

Do You Want Evidence Or The Truth?

In September I began to take steps to transition into a new church. As you read this, I have now been at this new church for 3 weeks. Each and every week has been so powerful and effective. Today I want to share with you a recent experience unlike anything I've ever had. It happened a little over a week ago on October 14, 2018. The following is what I posted the next day on Facebook (sharing here as well since a lot of you may not have Facebook or seen it because we aren't "friends"):

 Worship at Hub is amazing. God is there. Holy Spirit presence is thick and tangible. We were singing a song I had never heard before. The lyrics were powerful and the words that floored me at the time were talking about laying my whole life down before Jesus our Savior. I was already worshipping on my knees but I couldn't help but crouch face down before God. I felt so heavy and overloaded. I was just crying and crying before God. My words spoken in tears and sobs. All of a sudden it was like God said, "get up." Not in an angry way but an empowering way...if that makes sense. I sat up and it was like I saw myself in the place of the woman caught in adultry that was brought before Jesus. The crowd, stones in hand set to stone her. Jesus calmly and matter of factly said, "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." Slowly, one by one the people left. Once everyone was gone, I pictured Jesus Freedom foreverlift up my chin so I would look him in the eyes. Crouched on the ground seeing His eyes intent on mine. Looking into my soul. Just like He did with the woman that day, He said, "who condemns you?" Looking around I reply, "No one Sir." In that instant...I felt all the weight of condemnation lifted. It was like I had an hour long deep tissue massage. Every fiber of my  being, relaxed and stress free. I realized later after worship and after the service...reflecting on what happened in that moment. Those people standing and surrounding me so quick to condemn and judge...were different versions of ME. How often I have shot myself down, I have stoned myself for a mis-spoken word, a harsh tone, a forgotten task, a wrong thought...I have been stoning myself for years and as God clearly told me to get up - it was giving me my life back. It was His GRACE UPON GRACE. His mercy. His true love. He doesn't keep record of wrongs...and neither should I. NO LONGER DO I. This morning, as life went on as usual...I reacted in ways I am tyring to change (short with my daughter when she cries about everything she wears - meltown after meltdown this morning and my shortness with her, attitude from tired children, etc) but the major difference was this. No one condemns me...not even myself. I made a mistake, asked for forgivenenss and moved on. The first instance my flesh tried to condemn me I heard the words "no one Sir." Loud and clear and it reminded me of the freedom that I was given. Once and for all. I will never go back. Once that transaction was finished Jesus said, "Go and sin no more." Can you image the freedom, the joy, the apreciation she felt with that moment? I can...because I do.

 You may have to click on the picture to better see but I found the moment in worship where this exchange happened. Today I stand free from years of mental torment. As I think about this moment it still brings tears to my eyes because every moment since then has been a blessing. Please know that it doesn't mean that I am perfect or care free. I still have some struggles that God is working on in me. Holy Spirit is still pruning and I've got a lot of work to do. However, I am no longer hopeless.

I've gone a little long this time so let me wrap up with this:

I have been blessed to be a blessing. So today, I bless you with joy unspeakable; freedom from weight (even YEARS worth) of torment - mental, emotional, spiritual, physical; victory beyond belief; confidence in your Daddy; hope to weather the storm; faith, life, salvation for your spouse and loved ones; light in the darkness; advancement in the Kingdom where you feel backslidden; fire shut up in your bones; fight and fierceness; and love beyond compare.

Below is the song that brought me to the feet of Jesus and ushered me into freedom.

See you in the comments. I would love to pray over you for your own deliverance.


Do You Want The Evidence Or The Truth?

Hey SUM Family,

Tiffany here:

ev·i·dence -  

a : an outward sign : indication

b : something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter
(Merriam-Webster online dictionary)

Last post (This Is Just The Pits!) we began to take a look at the life of Joseph. We discovered that there are ten tests we must face in order to fulfill our God-given purpose (I highly suggest you read From Dream to Destiny by Robert Morris for more on this topic). I want us to really dive into the deep end of the pool as we learn more about the pit test.

First, let's continue on in the story of Joseph. At this point he was ambushed by his brothers and thrown into the pit. Changing scenes, we see what happens with his family next:

So [Joseph's brothers] took Joseph's tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in blood. Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, "We  have found this. Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" And he recognized it and said, "It is my son's tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces" (Genesis 37:31-33).

F.E.A.RJoseph's brothers did not flat out lie and say that Joseph was killed. Jacob came to that conclusion because of their leading question, "Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" This is what we would call fabricated (false) evidence.   Remember evidence is an indication or something that furnishes proof. This evidence in Jacob's mind was proof that his favorite son was dead - to him it was the truth.

For over 20 years, imagine Jacob as he says in v. 35, "For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning." Imagine a father so heartbroken that he was not able to be consoled. I don't know for certain but I can imagine countless nights of crying himself to sleep, restlessness, no appetite, deep depression...unable to move on. Not only that but his other sons could have easily freed him from all of it...over 20 years of seeing and living with their father. What callous and prideful hearts!

What about you? What fabricated evidence has been stacked up against you? Your marriage? Your parenting? Your identity in Christ? What lies of the pit have kept you trapped for far too long? 

We live in a sin-hardened world, and we will be tempted by fabricated evidence just as Jacob was. And like Jacob, we will suffer unnecessary grief if we allow the lies of the pit to determine what we believe.

This is very important. If you want to get out of the pit, you must learn to discern the lies of the enemy. Because when you are in the pit, you are especially vulnerable. When you are in the pit, circumstances usually don't look very favorable - and that is exactly when Satan will manipulate those circumstances in order  to deceive you. He will hold up those circumstances before you as evidence that you should believe him rather than have faith in God. But fabricated evidence is not the truth. Joseph's brothers held up a bloody coat as evidence, and that evidence looked pretty convincing. But it was fabricated evidence. It was not the truth. If you want to overcome the lies of the pit, you must learn to focus on what God has said. When you are in the pit, you must remember that nothing is too hard for God, no matter what evidence the enemy might produce...

Yet even worse than his fabricated evidence is Satan's biggest lie: "You've messed up too badly. It's too late for you. You've messed up too badly to ever fulfill God's destiny for your life." Do you realize that the Bible is a book entirely about restoration? The Bible is filled with stories of people who messed up so badly that it seemed even God couldn't do anything about it - and yet He restored every one of them. He wants you to know that nothing is impossible for Him. As long as you have breath, it is never too late to call out to God. It doesn't matter what pit you are in. If you call out to God, He can fix it. And that is the real purpose of the pit. (pp. 38-39, From Dream to Destiny, Robert Morris)

Next time I want to finish up with the hope we have - the light at the end of the tunnel - in times of experiencing the pit test. But for now, let's meet in the comments. Let me speak truth into you and pray with you as we debunk the lies of the pit. Lean into this reality that fabricated evidence, no matter how convincing or real it appears, is NOT the truth. I promise you that this assurance will transform your life and catapult you out of the pit.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

-- Colossians 2:13-15 (NLT)


The Orphan Spirit and Identity Crisis

Hey there SUM family, Tiffany here! 

In the first post on this new writing journey for the SUM community I talked about the feeling of being a throw-away kid. This operated in my life in many ways. I was plagued by thoughts such as -

I will never be able to do enough.  Pete Scazzero

I am not good enough.

I am just trying to get your attention.

I cannot measure up to your standards.

What more do you want/expect from me?

I can't handle these demands.

I don't deserve it / you.

I honestly haven't realized – until last week during a healing prayer session with Lynn - that these thoughts that have plagued me for years are not only from the enemy but HAVE A NAME. The Orphan Spirit operates in such feelings as abandonment, loneliness, alienation, and rejection. Ouch! Looking back on my life, this has been the major theme! I am so used to a life like this that it almost seems unnatural to operate in freedom from this. (Isn't that truly the enemy's tactic..to turn things upside down and make it seem like “normal?”) The more I look into this topic, the freer I feel. It is almost as if the scales are falling from my eyes! I am not an expert by any means but I intend on digging deeper...I see this as a chapter in Vicarious to Victorious as the Lord leads me to write this book.

Or · phan: a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents; one deprived of some protection or advantage.

I have to say that this journey of freedom has been hard. I have realized that I have to truly fight for victory and the more I gain momentum, the more I have to be on guard. I don't say this to scare anyone. The journey is long but the triumph is so much stronger than anything I have to endure. I read Romans 8 this morning in my quiet time. This is a familiar passage to me and probably for many of you. What really jumped out to me was verse 18,

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Wow, just wow. Today this familiar verse hit me like a ton of bricks. The sufferings that I am presently dealing with – the baggage and destructive mess left by the Orphan Spirit – has taken a toll on my life. My parenting. My marriage. My friendships. Everything!

I have been living with an identity crisis YEARS after trauma from father figures. The Orphan Spirit has left me deprived of protection and advantage. My identity for the longest time has been in productivity, performance, approval. These things have always been fleeting. Even if it seemed as though I was getting what I thought I wanted, said approval, I still couldn't accept it. If I could describe the labels that I allowed the Orphan Spirit to place on my life they would include such things as: worthless, unwanted, unworthy, unloved, ineffective, desperate, needy, clingy, an object not a person.

BUT God!

He has given me a new identity!

Let's look at Galatians 4:4-7:

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God's child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

This does not sound like the labels I had placed upon myself at all! Thank you God, You give us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57)!

In digging deeper into God's word, and allowing the Holy Spirit to renew my mind and transform me (Romans 12:1-2) I am seeing more and more that I have the ability to see my TRUE identity. My identity isn't really in crisis at all. In fact God is using the trauma of my past to help me look forward with more confidence than before. I am not who I once was. Instead of those old labels I can rest assured that my identity looks more like: victory, confidence, powerful, effective, fierce, redeemed, helpful, compassionate, empathetic, gracious, artistic and creative, unique, valuable.

Joseph Mattera wrote for Charisma News, “The only way to break this orphan spirit is for people to be filled with a sense of the Father's love for them in Christ, which then enables them to become mature sons who serve God out of knowledge of His undeserved grace instead of trying to earn the Father's love through performance.” (You can read through the entire article by clicking HERE)

I want to close this with a chance to meditate on the newer song from Passion feat. Kristian Stanfill and Melodie Malone – God You're So Good.

As you listen focus on these words:

I am blessed

I am called

I am healed

I am whole

I am saved in Jesus’ name

 

Highly favored

anointed

Filled with Your power

For the glory of Jesus’ name

 

And should this life

Bring suffering

Lord, I will remember

What Calvary

has bought for me

Both now and forever

 

To be continued...

I'll see you in the comments dear ones!

 

In His Marvelous Grace,

Tiffany


When Survival Is The ONLY Option...

Psalm 61.2-3First, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share my heart with you all. I am so blessed and even more grateful for the door that God has opened for me!

The Holy Spirit has  given me many spiritual gifts but there is one that I cherish the most. He has given me the gift of vulnerability. For some of you, vulnerability does not come easy. It may seem scary, impossible and maybe even unnecessary. I used to think it was a curse growing up because in those most delicate places of our heart people can so easily wound.

However, it is also in those most delicate places that Jesus can (and desperately desires to) transform, heal and redeem. Let me assure you that Jesus is so worthy of those intimate places! In these next few posts, I am going to tell you all about myself. I am going to be very vulnerable with you. I am going to talk about some deep wounds that have pierced my heart and soul. Some of you will closely relate to my story, some of you may know someone with a story like mine.

I have to admit that this first post has been hard for me to write. I have so much to say and yet there has been this fog over my mind. Where do I start? How much of me do I share up front? I have allowed fear and pride to keep me from using the gift that I cherish so much.

Even in these moments when you feel like you just cannot find the words to say or how to go about sharing your heart – PRESS IN. I challenge you to be vulnerable with me. I implore you all to allow the Holy Spirit to speak tenderly to your heart. Allow Him to access the deepest recesses of your heart and mind. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17). Let’s take this freedom journey together!

I attended a women’s conference this past Saturday. One of the speakers, Jennifer, began to share her story and I found myself really relating to what she was saying. In her life, she had given herself a label “the throw-away kid.” She lived in survival mode because of dysfunction and chaos in her household as a child and this led to a self-destructive mode. This label began to taint her view of herself and the world around her.

As I sat listening to her testimony I thought, “Did she somehow see a movie playing of my life?” I grew up an only child. It was just my mother and I for the longest time. My father was out of the picture before he knew my mom was pregnant. I was probably around 10 or 11 when my mom met Joseph. My mom was currently in a relationship with a man who was physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive to my mom. I won’t go into details, as it would be too lengthy, but at the time Joseph was like the “knight in shining armor.” We moved in with him and things were good for a while. It wasn’t until my mom got pregnant with my sister that things started to go downhill. I am going to talk more about myself in the next post.

I want to touch back on the idea of survival mode. Merriam-Webster defines survive as, “to remain alive or in existence.” I have been there. I can assure you that looking back on my life, I was there for most of it. Survival mode is protection of self – doing ANYTHING possible in order to continue to exist. I want to speak to all of you right now who are in survival mode. The depressed. The anxious. The fearful. The downtrodden. The throw-away kids.

Please hear me. God SEES YOU. He has walked with you your entire life. Through all the suffering and pain. He wants to meet you there. He wants to see you through it. The abundant life that Jesus came to give is INDEED FOR YOU. Hang in there with me. I have so much to share with you! In these next posts I am going to walk you through my life of suffering and healing. It is through the suffering, depression, and loneliness that I found freedom and redemption.

Sweet Jesus, thank You for this SUM community. I praise You God that you brought me here…in this community there is comfort, encouragement, wisdom, and love. May we all feel your presence and joy as we work through our own sorrow, disappointments, and discouragement. Lead us through this darkness into Your wonderful light. Amen.

I look forward to getting to know you my beautiful SUMite family. I will be writing every 4th Wednesday of the month so I'll continue to share my journey in February. I'll see you there!

Can you relate to being the throw-away kid? Maybe you feel like the throw-away kid that became the throw-away Christian. Leave your name in the comments and I want to pray for and with you.

In His Marvelous Grace,

Tiffany


Specifics of the Spiritually Mismatched

Well I realize that that past few posts have challenged us as we consider suffering. We also looked at what Jesus clearly told us. Jesus said:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’—Matthew 10:34-35

Sometimes I find that Christians only want to read the passages that affirm. But becoming a mature believer, means that we must wrangle with these difficult and challenging passages. When I read this scripture, it offered me two things. One, I realize my life with an unbeliever is actually not surprising to God. And two, it relieves me of guilt or condemnation that somehow I’ve failed because my husband hasn’t come to faith.

And by the way, most of us who have been unequally yoked have felt that guilt. Many of you have told me that your pastor or some other “well-meaning” person from church has asked you the stupid questions such as:

  • Didn’t you know he was an unbeliever when you married him?
  • Perhaps you haven’t prayed enough for his salvation.
  • Maybe if you just witness a little harder he will find Jesus.
  • Perhaps you aren’t living enough like Jesus in front of him.

Can I just tell you these irk me? Now hear me, THESE ARE LIES FORM THE PIT OF HELL.

You can’t save your spouse. Only Jesus can save him. Your responsibility is to love. Love God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Spirit first and obey His Word, then love your spouse the best that you can and finally believe that God will do all that is possible to reach your spouse.

So today I want to speak to your heart. I stand in faith and through the truths of the Word and by the power and blood of Jesus Christ, I speak over you truth. You are not responsible for your spouse’s salvation. Only Jesus saves.

I release you from guilt and fear over this issue. I say to you that your heart is made whole in Jesus and words of pain from others now lose their power. I speak to your heart and life and say that the condemnation you have carried over your marriage to an unbeliever is broken. I also refute and renounce the lie that God is mad at you or is punishing you because you find yourself in an unequally yoked marriage.

The truth is that God desires families to thrive and His plan to demonstrate love begins in marriage and family.

I understand that our unique marriages are very difficult and there are some marriage situations where oppression and abuse are present. Hear me clearly now as well. God doesn’t want us to cling to some ideal version of marriage where abuse and oppression exist. Get help and separate yourself from the abuse and find your healing.

Today, I once again want you to realize the great authority to pray and protect your family through the Word of God.

For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. — 1 Corinthians 7:14 NLT

This verse has become a powerhouse in my life. I hope to tell you one day all that has resulted in my family and marriage because God in His great love and mercy placed this passage in His Word. Stay tuned *grin*

Okay, how many of you have receive words of condemnation from other "well-meaning" believers? How did you process through their words? What passages of scripture have been life-changing in your marriage?

I will see you in the comments my family. Today, live in utter confidence because 1 Corinthians 7:14 is for us. Just as God is for us! Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!!!!!  Hugs, Lynn

Romans 8 1


First LOVE

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWe have been chatting about suffering. It can truly blow up your mind to consider the reasons of God for suffering.

Not too long ago the Lord spoke to me about my unequally yoked marriage. It was likely in a challenging season when I was complaining to God about His delay in saving my pre-believer. (To even write that causes me a degree of shame. Sheesh.)

This was the Lord’s unexpected but powerful reply. Hosea 2:14

But then I will win her back once again.

    I will lead her into the desert

    and speak tenderly to her there.

15 I will return her vineyards to her

    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.

She will give herself to me there,

    as she did long ago when she was young,

    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. —NLT

The Lord then spoke to me, Lynn, do you see? Can you comprehend this story?

My friends, I understood in that moment how beautiful was the love relationship between God and His people. When the people of God were freed from Egypt they were utterly dependent upon the Lord’s Presence. He walked among them. He fed them. With the exception of the “golden cow” incident He adored and protected them. After the mad cow mess, they quickly came to their senses and loved Him with their full hearts for decades in the desert. It was priceless. It was a beautiful, fulfilling relationship for Him and for the people. I’m not surprised, as I think about it, that God delayed their entry into the Promised Land. He knew what would happen.

The easy life would cause them to pursue independence. Comparison to other peoples of the land would woo them away from God as their King thus enticing them to desire an earthly King. They would grow fat and distant from God because their lives would become easier. All this became true. Thus, the Lord’s broken heart cries out through Hosea. He longs for the years of their desert suffering because in the struggle, she (fully) gave herself to Him.

I wonder if the Lord tarried or delayed the Israelites crossing into the land because He knew they would leave Him? The sweet love and utter dependence upon Him in the wilderness was everything to Him…. AND He knew that people are their highest, best and blessed when they are in utter dependence…..

Things that make you go….hmmmmmm.

Is our Promised Land, our spouse’s salvation, the same? Does the Lord tarry because He is in love with you and me? Does he believe that our desert experience will diminish because we aren’t so persistent in our prayers for our spouse? Does He know that we may become lax in training up the children to faith?

Is the Promised Land really of any value if we leave the lover of our soul in the desert years?

The passage in Hosea calls to us. It’s the Lord’s broken heart. He speaks to us who walk in the desert years. Don’t forget the suffering that birthed our love. More often than not, it’s the suffering that draws us to the heart of God.


Want Some Gold?

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comWe have been contemplating loneliness and marriage. And wow, some great comments following the last post. Go read them!!!!

I’m in a place of contemplating – Suffering. Gulp!

I think I struggle to even speak this word aloud. I wrangle with the implications and shrink back.

I consider the life of a Christian in the Western world as compared to a believer who lives where Isis roams the land and kills even children who profess Christ. Do we truly suffer in the Western World for our faith? Do we suffer in our marriages to unbelievers? Geeze, these thoughts mess with your head. 

The answer? Yes and no.

It’s never an easy answer, is it?

Yes, we suffer for our faith. No, we don’t suffer the threat of death for our faith today. But tomorrow, who knows? Yet the anguish in our lives and marriages over our faith in Jesus is very real.

I remember a long time ago I met an older woman once a week at a tiny little diner in our town. We met for breakfast and she poured her love and wisdom into me over hotcakes and steaming coffee. I remember carrying on and on about my sad and difficult marriage. Oh how I complained about every little offense committed by my unbelieving husband and I moaned about some insignificant injustice in our relationship (sarcasm intended.)

That was until one morning when it dawned on me that Jenny buried her teenage daughter. Her daughter died before she graduated from High School of Cystic Fibrosis. I stopped short in our conversation, ashamed, and said, “Oh Jenny, here I am complaining about this stupid stuff and you buried your daughter.” Tearily I said, “Please forgive me. If anyone here has a reason to be complaining, it’s you.”

Jenny smiled so gently at me as she always did. Her eyes twinkled when she smiled and she speaks one of the wisest and helpful sentences I’ve ever heard. “Lynn, your pain and what you experience is just as difficult. It’s not worse or better. It’s just different.” In those words, she gave me permission to have pain. I didn’t need to pretend it wasn’t there just because it wasn’t the same as someone else.

So my suffering may be different than yours but to the Lord, it’s suffering and He feels it along with us.

Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that Jesus was a man. He experienced suffering. And when we think about Jesus’ suffering, our mind usually goes to the cross. And the Cross WAS TERRIBLE. But have you thought about what it felt like to Jesus when He was betrayed? Betrayal is at its core -pain. It is rejection, dismissal, a knife in the back all rolled into one. He was betrayed because of His faith. He suffered and was persecuted because of His faith. 

We as the mismatched also walk this path of suffering. We are ridiculed because of our faith by the very person or persons who we should expect to always defend us. We feel betrayed and rejected by the one person on the plant who was supposed to love and honor us always. Ouch. Praise the Lord Jesus because forgiveness overcomes all betrayal.

My friends, we walk our fair share, or maybe more than our fair share, of suffering in this world.

But…..

In the suffering is where we find the gold. And it’s the gold that is spoken of in Revelation. We are earning our gold that will make us rich. Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself. Revelation 3:18-19

So, could it be our suffering is by design? Could it be that we were placed into our unequally yoked marriages with purpose? What do you think? See you in the comments. This is gonna be good. Also, what did you think of that passage in Revelation? Read to the bottom of the chapter. It ROCKS! Hugs, Lynn


Loneliness and What Jesus Says

LonelyCan I just say: Amazing!

Our annual fast never fails to disappoint. So many great testimonies were shared of how the Lord moved in our lives. Many of you received a “word” for their year and I know many of us were loved on by our Lord through this community experience. I’m convinced our fast is powerful and one day as we are in heaven, we will fully comprehend the impact our prayers and fasting had upon people and this earth. Neat!!! (Thank you Rosheeda Lee for starting this annual tradition.)

In the next several weeks I want to turn our focus to loneliness in marriage. And you know, as I contemplated this issue, a bunch of different emotions rolled over me. Also, the Holy Spirit sprang up with some perspective that I want to share that I believe is truth for all of us.

I will tell you that as I considered returning to this particular topic and thought about writing about it again, my heart filled up with dread, anxiousness and aversion. I HATE thinking about my feelings and experiences when I’m walking in the seasons of loneliness in my spiritual mismatch. It’s not that I’m in denial that I have challenging periods of marriage but I just believe that by dwelling on the pain and injustice of it all, only brings me more sorrow, woe is me attitudes, and I lose the ground I gained from the enemy.

Moving through this topic, however, it’s okay to share your frustrations and the difficulties you are enduring. As I stated in December: A little bit of commiseration is needed and understandable. Sharing our thoughts about our struggles allows for honest and authentic conversation, which is needed especially is you are new to the unequally yoked walk. But there is a fine line between the commiseration and focus on our troubles.

I’m choosing this New Year to refrain from focusing on our troubles to focusing on what Jesus says about our situations. Some of the topics which I want to write about, I’ve not covered here at SUM prior to now. But I believe looking straight into the Word for our truths, even the tough truths, is what ultimately will prove to be our victory and our joy.

In all my years of living unequally yoked have proven to me that God’s Word is absolutely true, even the hard stuff. When I fully embrace the teachings, I live better, love wholly, and discover more and more of God’s Kingdom here on earth.

What say you?

Up for this adventure?

Let’s look at some hard truths and make them real and powerful in our lives. Let’s start with this one:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’—Matthew 10:34-35

Yikes!!!!

How do we wrangle with this in an unequally yoked marriage? BTW, I don’t know the answer. And let’s have grace with one another as we share our thoughts in the discussion. I’m seeking truth for us. And God’s truth does what?

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. — 2 Timothy 3:1-17

I believe God is sending us on this journey because a shift in our heart is required. What do you think? See you in the comments. Love you my friends. I’m so deeply blessed and humbled that you walk this difficult road with me. THANK YOU. Hugs, Lynn