51 posts categorized "Testimony"

A Work of God in My Home

By Ann Hutchison Central church Ann 1

Hi SUM family!

Today I'm continuing on from Monday's post, with a curious story about something God did in my home this year. It shows just how good he is, and I really do hope you enjoy this story.

As I've shared before, last year none of my family was going anywhere near church. Sigh! But one day God gave me a most unusual word. He told me I was going to be on a year-long wait for something, starting on 21 June 2020, and that something would happen at the end of that year.

Goodness, how exciting!

Over those months, then, I waited. I waited … I waited … I waited.

I kept telling myself I should not have too high an expectation about what would transpire at the end of the wait (i.e., June 2021). I figured God works mysteriously and if I were to try to guess his moves, I would almost certainly be incorrect. 

That said, I simply couldn't resist trying to guess as the wait continued and, to add to my excitement, God gave me another two things: The phrase Let’s Go, and the name of a New Zealand town Whanganui.

By now this was all feeling highly suspenseful. "Is my family going to move to Whanganui, Lord?" I wondered. I was fit to burst with anticipation.

Well, my friends, I could never have guessed what would transpire next; and it's almost a little difficult to describe. But I'll give it a go. It turns out that these mysterious words related - at least in part -- to my family's church situation.

In February (2021), my pastor told me he was going to close the church I'd been attending for the past six years. I've shared this part with you all already.

Indeed, it was a shock. But then came an immediate move of God, a swipe of his power: As I've also shared, my son Miles’s school friend suddenly began attending a new church himself and invited Miles along. A miracle, in my eyes. I began attending there too, and now here’s a photo of the three of us at church together: Me, Miles (next to me), and his best friend next to him. As I write, these two boys are now fully engaged in this church. Ann Miles at church

Well, that was amazing. Suddenly I had gone from despairing at my family's lack of church attendance to enjoying it with my son. But there’s more.

I'd not been attending my new church long when they announced this:

“We’re moving into a new venue, St Paul’s College on 20th June.”

St Paul's college? 20th June? I nearly fell off my seat. You see, St Paul's college was the venue my old church had just vacated! I would be going back there? And on 20th June? That was the date my year of waiting was to end!

"Lord? What is this about?" I whispered, sitting in my seat, there in my new church.

It could still have been a coincidence … Until I saw the Facebook announcement about the new venue, and saw what phrase they had included:

'Let’s Go' !! Central church new venue

And it got even better. That weekend I just-so-happened to look at a map and saw something I’d never noticed before: The new church venue that I was moving back to (St Paul's) sits below a road called Whanganui Street!!

At this, I sat back, gob-smacked.

All I could conclude was that this church and my family were meant to be together, and it was as if the Father had given me signposts to confirm it.

The new church's move feels like a big new season for them; but also very significant for me and my family.

How does all this relate to my SUM? Well, this move has done something curious to my family. I can’t say why, but Bryce is fully relaxed about my involvement in this new church where it wasn't like that before. It could be because it's run by young people, and he can see how they treat Miles -- They're lovely. Or, it could be the fact he is seeing Miles thrive socially there. Nevertheless, it is a clear move of God in my family, it has been a major development in my SUM, and I thank Him. 

The motto from all this: Who knows how God will move in a SUM home, but he will surely move for us. We just... Have to wait. 

(Finally, to give you a final smile after Monday's post, I have even begun attending a weekly ‘small group’. But that is another story.)

My friends, I so hope this encouraged you. 

With love, 

Ann


How to Convey Our Personal Testimony

Hi SUM family, Ann here! Paul 2

How often do you tell your conversion testimony to unbelievers? 

If you do it often, how do people react? 

Me: I try. But writing today's post has got me thinking a whole lot more about this. Specifically, it's been making me think about how to tell a testimony effectively.

In the Book of Acts, there is a critical moment where Paul role-models how to tell a testimony. It's the end of his ministry, he's an older man, and he just goes for it. It's a wild, hair-raising story of how he became a Christian. 

"Paul, you are beside yourself, much learning is driving you mad!" Someone shouts on hearing it (Acts 27:24).

"I am not mad..." answers Paul, respectfully.

We see him tell his testimony twice in quick succession: The same story, the same details, same manner of telling it. You might like to read both versions in Acts 22:1-21 and 26:4-23, they're pretty short passages. 

This is all so far so good. What a wonderful testimony Paul has been given! But do they all fall over in amazement and think it's wondrous? Nope! 

When Paul stands up in front of a mob of Jews in Jerusalem, he starts by saying, "I am a Jew ... I used to persecute Christians too ..." before launching into his story about how Jesus completely changed him.

"And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!" (Acts 22:22-23, NKJV)

Not fit to live? Yikes.

After that, he quietly has the opportunity to tell his testimony to Felix, a Roman Governor of Caesarea. We don't see Paul tell the testimony here; the Book of Acts just says they talked. Felix is initially open, but then:

Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you." (Acts 24:25, NKJV)

The cross makes people feel convicted, uncomfortable. They want it to go away for a while until they have a 'convenient time.' Go away. Go away.

Undeterred, Paul has a cast-iron spirit, and he will not curl up into a defeated ball. No, he is fighting fit and ready to speak all over again. The final re-telling of the testimony is to Caesarea's new governor, Festus, and the visiting King Agrippa. Paul tells the testimony and it is Festus who shouts out:

"Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!"

But he (Paul) said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason." (Acts 26:24-25, NKJV)

BUT, here comes the kind of response that makes it worth the while:

Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." (Acts 26:28, NKJV)

'Almost persuade me' is not a bad response. What if King Agrippa were to then hear ten more testimonies like this, from ten different Christians? Would he then cross the line into belief? Perhaps so. And that is what makes our testimony-telling important.

I titled this post, How to convey our personal testimony, because we can look at how Paul did it. Here are some key points:

  • He told his audience how he was similar to them.
  • He described what he used to be like.
  • He referred to witnesses who could attest to who he used to be.
  • He described the supernatural encounter that changed his mind
  • He described in a sentence the Christian faith. "Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord"

And, finally, he did not give up. 

My friends, all of this is making me think about prepping and practicing my own conversion testimony a little more deliberately, using the above points, and thinking a bit more carefully about what kinds of places I am to speak it out. Even at a party, or when having a casual chat with an unbelieving friend.

What do you think about this topic of personal testimony? Let's chat in the comments!


God Says: 'Watch My Promises -- 123!'

Dear friends, Ann here. Cloths number 2

After we had  1 ... 2... 3... spouse-salvation 'events' last week, I've been praying about what to write about now. "What on earth do I write, Lord?" I guess I'm keeping an open mind, and my typing hands are at the ready. 

After asking that question I did receive two things from the Holy Spirit. They're unexpectedly playful things ... Two little stories of sweetness for us. I'm going to post one today, and the other on Friday. So, settle in and enjoy.

Both words come in the form of a story, and they both happen to have occurred back in January 2019 during our annual community fast, which is interesting.

So, let's step back to that week, in January 2019. We were fasting together as we do each year, Lynn was leading it powerfully, and I remember we had good conversations in the comments. My family and I also happened to be holiday in Japan during this particular fast .. So that added an element of color and memorability to the week.

Anyway, day three rolled around (aggh, hungry!) and as I woke that morning God gave me a set of three visions in a row. I grabbed my phone which was beside my bed, and blearily wrote them down. Here were the three (123!):

First, I saw a set of cloths, little folded cloths. Lots and lots .. and lots .. of little cloths. A set of little folded cloths, loads and loads, piles.

Second, I saw an absolute downpour of rain hitting the very place where I was fasting. And the words "1 2 3".

And third, I saw a man who was definitely and deliberately not a Christian falling to his knees very quickly and dramatically.

Cloths

It made no sense to me whatsoever, until later that day when were in a department store and there -- Lo and behold -- were the cloths I saw!

Well, blow me down. I literally jumped up and down, pointing at the cloths, thinking "Those are the cloths I saw!" Of course I had no-one to tell. So, I joyfully had my little God moment there in the flannel/towel department of this Japanese department store.

And of course, what made it particularly striking was the fact that not only was it piles of cloths. The top pile had the numbers 1 ... 2 ... 3 on it.

We need another photo of said cloths, so here's another. Cloths 3

So now here's what God said to me about these three visions, confirmed by the cloths:

The cloths that you photographed here, with '1 2 3' on top, represent the 1, 2, 3 men you've just seen turn. Those who were not aligned with Christ, but they have surrendered. Suddenly.

After that there'll be more ... 8, 9, 10, 11 (see the photo) ... and then more. A full array. A set.

Colourful, customized. Each cloth representing a spouse, and what I am going to do for them.

There is the sound of the abundance of rain; you do see a cloud the size of a man's hand, and a downpour is coming. 

Watch my promises! 

My friends, that is God's heart for our community as best as I can convey it, using a sweet story of cloths in a Japanese department store (so quirky, but how delicious). I don't know the timeframe, but I do believe that -- in principle -- we can walk in hope, and we can be excited about what's to come.

I know that sometimes these things have layers, so if there is anything else of meaning that you see in the cloths and the visions I shared, please do share -- That's how hearing from God works. We weigh and test, we might receive a word but it's often just part of the picture ... And we can enjoy the process while we do it. 

Much love,

Ann


And ... Another Spouse's Salvation!

My friends, Ann here. Do it again!

It seems that it's 'miracle week' here at SUM. How amazing God is, and I can't wait to share with you this next thing that happened this past Friday after I last posted on here. All I can say is that God is lavish, full of marvels, and sometimes he does things with a little fanfare -- Just so that we know it is him.

Last Friday I shared that one of our SUMite readers' husbands had got baptized. If you missed that you can read it here.  The photo I used for that post was this one here -- I got this photo from the internet, as I usually do, but I loved the happy smile on this man's face as he's in the water, and I thought 'That's what it looks like for a spouse to be baptized'. 

Anyway, as you'll see I have included that same photo again today, this time with the words 'Do it Again' -- For that is what today's post celebrates.

When I uploaded that post last Friday, I scheduled it to go live for a few hours later. Well, in the few hours between it being uploaded and going live, another SUMite messaged me (not knowing what I'd uploaded). In her message she too told me that her husband had given his life to Jesus! It had happened a month earlier, she said, and she was now getting used to having a believing husband.

I know this particular SUMite. She lives in America, has followed this ministry for a number of years, and from the few conversations we've had in the past I know for sure what a miracle this is. If she feels ready to share it publicly, we'll look forward to that; but often people don't share immediately. What I can say is this one 'felt impossible' - like they all do - and yet it happened.

Two spouse-conversion testimonies in the space of 24 hours. I don't know about you, but I'm pinching myself ((Big smiles)). So much of what we do, what we fight for, is about this. Yes, it's about holding on to our own faith -- But it is also about theirs: The spouses.

So, friends, we'll keep on watching with interest and believing that nothing is impossible. I'll keep this one short and sweet, but I'm praying about what's next.

Much love,

Ann 


Another Spouse Gets Baptized!

Ann here!Baptism

Teehee ... I bet the title made you eagerly open this one. And, you won't be disappointed with what you read next. God glorifies His name through this community. Sometimes we have to wait a little while between testimonies, but they always come.

I remember just before COVID spread through the world I wrote a post called 'Salvations in our Community -- What's Next?' We'd had a noticeable and unusual spate of spouses' conversions in a short space of time, which had pricked up my antennae. Feeling like something was ‘in the water’, I wrote the post.

Well, something was in the water, but it wasn't what we expected. I wrote that post on 1 March 2020. By 14 March, COVID was running rampage in Italy. A week later, people everywhere were saying 'What a week this year has been'; and, by the end of the month, many of us were locked down.

We've continued to watch all this unfold, but the biggest message I've heard from God this whole year is this: Prepare to win and care for souls. I continue to believe we are going to see new Christians -- born again ones -- come into the Kingdom of Heaven when this pandemic is over.

Well, blow me down, today we got a little inkling of that again, with a testimony of a spouse's conversion that was just so encouraging. It felt, to me, like the sun was coming out again.

It was yesterday morning that I heard. I stepped out of bed and thought to myself, “We had that spate of conversions before COVID. I’d love to see some more now!” Only an hour later I checked email and there it was -- This message, from one of our dear SUMites:

“After 24 years of marriage, my husband was baptized yesterday, July 4, 2021. I am over the moon! It was a gradual process that seemed to steamroll over the last two years, during a whirlwind move to another state, and aided by circumstances beyond our control … We look to God for comfort and direction and are closer than ever in our relationship to each other as well as to our Father. Praise God, and thank you, Jesus.” 

I wrote back instantly, and she then told me something extra that was sweet: At the very moment her husband was dunked in the pastor’s swimming pool, fireworks went off in the background. Celebration, power, and God's goodness.

We all know what it takes to get there, and we can all relate to this one praying, perseverant wife saying she is 'over the moon!' On behalf of all of us, I say to her just how much we celebrate with her, and I thank her for sharing it with us.

On that happy note, have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Ann


Fighting Giants: A Personal Look at our Weapons of Warfare

Hi SUM family, Ann here!

This month we've had an ongoing series about 'fighting giants' and I've been writing about that here and there, in between our other topics. I hope you've enjoyed the series so far, and if you want to catch up you can find the introduction here.

This week we're going to finish with three videos. In each one I'm going to share what 'fighting a giant' has looked like for me personally in recent months. So without further ado, here's the first one -- From my couch to yours, enjoy!

 


God's Move in My Family

Dear friends, Ann Miles 2

Before I continue to share my story from Passover, I need to tell you about one of those less wondrous 'SUM moments' -- Because it forms the backdrop to what I share next.

It was one of those moments in church. All that happened was I turned around to see some kids having fun as friends. But these kids were the same age as mine. And mine were at home with their Dad. In that moment I descended into a bad space. I felt jealous of every family in that room who looked 'Christian picture-perfect' (Sorry -- I realize that's not good. Transparent post today). Oh dear!

While I've been learning to love, my children have continued to be 'unchurched' and disinterested in faith. Completely disinterested. And that's been hard.

BUT, oh what's just happened these past weeks has taken me by surprise. 

“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain.” (Zechariah 4:6, NKJV).

So ... Here we go, and I hope it makes you smile:

Just before Passover, my church closed. Rather unconventionally, the pastor felt God wanted us to disband. He made a brave decision to close us, sensing that we were all to be released into somewhere new. I loved my church, but to me it felt a God thing. Certainly interesting!

At the very same time, my son Miles’s best friend Toby's family started going to a new church down the road from our house. My ears pricked up at this news, and I casually said to Miles “If I go to that church, would you go?”

“Yes.” He said.

That was the only thing we said.

Well, blow me down, I'd said nothing more, but shortly before Passover Miles spontaneously announced: “Mum, I’m going to youth group tonight, can you drive me over?”

I nearly choked on my biscuit.

(At this point my face took on a stunned expression).

A few days later the next thing happened: “Mum, can I go to Easter Camp?”

Easter camp is a nationwide Christian camp for teens. I couldn’t quite believe what was happening before my eyes … How does a teenage boy, age 15, become interested in church like this?

So we signed him up. I say ‘we’, because Bryce was part of it. And here you may be wondering what his reaction was? The answer: Happy. 

(Stunned expression, again).

The Passover lamb meal came and went, and then the day of camp came around. That morning, I went out and bought Miles a Bible, which I showed Bryce on my return. It was the last thing we got ready, and in the front cover I wrote: To Miles … I stopped. From Mum? My pen hovered. Then, I continued: From Mum and Dad.

Three days he was at camp. I drummed my fingers. The disciples’ three days of waiting were perhaps not too much more suspenseful. Well, ok, their suspense was bigger. But, would Miles be deterred or captivated at this camp? There’s free will. It could go either way.

I drove to pick him up; and there he was, cheerfully playing frisbee with Toby. Chatting with the other teens. We bundled him into the car with all his bags, and began to drive home. But within 200 metres this came:

“Mum, my favorite session was the Holy Spirit session.” And he looked over at me with seriousness in his eyes.

He continued:

“We all felt it. I mean, I got chills …”

I turned to him, taking my eyes off the road. I put my hand to my heart, and declared: “Oh Miles. I love the Holy Spirit.”

There we sat at the traffic lights, grinning at each other.

Later, he sat at the table -- Bryce on one side, me on the other -- telling Bryce about a healing he'd seen. Bryce nodded, "Some people have the gift of healing .. Don't they Ann?" "They do," I said, "But I think God invites every believer to pursue that gift."

Oh my heart.

Today's story ends here: This past Sunday, a certain teenager got himself -- quite remarkably -- out of bed early. That day I didn’t go to church on my own. No, I walked through those doors with my handsome son by my side.

And as I write those last few words ... I’m crying.

Love you all,

Ann


Focus on Jesus, And ... Things Bloom!

Dear SUMites, Ann here. Jesus

I hope you enjoyed our little experience of walking together through Easter. I have to say it was a great discipline for me to focus solely on Jesus that week. 

On the topic of 'focusing solely on Jesus', when I first started writing for this blog a few years ago I asked Lynn "What would you say the mission of this ministry is?" Her answer: "Point the SUM community to Jesus."

Obviously, on this blog we write about all sorts of topics around that. We try to revisit practical things like financial giving or church involvement – Things that are surprisingly common challenges for us all. And then the spiritual aspect of a SUM is also a big topic for us – Things like prayer, spiritual warfare, God’s promises and so on. But primarily the key to thriving in any hard circumstance, including a spiritually mismatched marriage, is this: Focus on Jesus.

Early on, when I was really finding it difficult having this gaping faith difference in my marriage, a friend gave me some advice:

“Ann, if you focus on Jesus, Bryce will eventually see the spiritual bloom on your cheek.”

Quite honestly, at the time I felt overwhelmed by that. Only because I was all-round 'overwhelmed' anyway. I guess it was all proving too difficult to follow Jesus when there was so much resistance. I thought if I did move forward towards Jesus any more than I already was doing, my husband might even leave me. It was incorrect thinking, but it was my fear. The whole thing seemed a massive risk, and I wondered if this advice was a little … Too simple, perhaps?

But now I look at that advice and think ‘Yep!’ Spot on. Thank you to that friend. It is simple, and it is the key. Focus on Jesus.

It’s not easy to push forward towards Jesus, but the fruits do come. The joy, the peace, the love, and eventually the power. For what happens is that the more we fill ourselves up with the Spirit of Christ, what we carry becomes far stronger than what is in the world. And that is when testimonies happen!

So now, on the topic of testimonies, I have something curious to share next time I write -- Something that has happened in my home. More on that another day (I'm smiling).

For now, how easy do you find it to 'focus on Jesus' amidst your SUM circumstances? Let’s chat!


One Big Shift In My Home

Hello friends, Ann here. Ann and Bryce

Last week, I mentioned that things had shifted in my home -- Quite a lot, in fact. Well, I want to tell you more about that.

This photo here is of Bryce and me, on a recent holiday. You wouldn't think we'd had such drama, looking at that peaceful photo! We love each other heaps. But, despite that we've had some truly difficult moments on this SUM journey. It's a journey that neither of us asked for.

Somewhere along the way, however, it settled. A peace came into that chasm between us.

I only realized this a few weeks ago. Just before Christmas I went to a hotel for a night alone and had a lot of hours to reflect on the year. It was there that I suddenly realized something:

"Oh! Bryce and I have not had a painful conversation about my faith for a very long time!"

In fact, I struggled to remember the last time we'd had one of those stomach-wrenching conflicts about faith. No wonder I’d managed to be cheery on this SUM site. Somewhere along the way, it had got better. But when and how? It fascinated me. My train of thought continued ... And I realized the moment it changed was just after the worst period of battles I'd had.

It was mid 2019, and I really was embattled -- Spiritually embattled. Sometimes these things are recognizable. Bryce and I had some major conflicts about my church involvement, then two other battles hit in quick succession – Terrible, terrible battles. Amidst them, God actually did say to me: "These are efforts of the enemy, the persecution towards you is coming in a cluster of three, and the enemy is trying to discourage you. You are in my will and you need to keep moving forward."

How helpful it is when God shows us something like that in a battle. It’s not always clear, but this time it was. So I kept stepping forward.

With these battles fresh, I found myself standing over my coffee machine one Sunday morning. I was due to be at church, but as I made my coffee my mind went to my troubles and I began to cry.

Now, a good old cry is a cathartic thing. And that soft little weep began to crank up as the coffee machine whirred away. Before long, you got it, a full-blown wail was coming from my end of the house that made my beloved stop what he was doing and come running … ‘What is it?’ ‘What’s wrong?’ 'Tell me!' ….  Wail. Wail. Wail. Then I let it out:  ‘I can’t – be – a --- Christian any morrrre! It's too hard.’ Tears splashed into the coffee, and now over his shirt.

He stood and hugged me, possibly feeling a bit bad about some of the things we’d gone through the past couple of weeks, and then spoke three, wonderful words:

"Yes you can."

Just three words. Yes you can. You can be a Christian, Ann.

Sometimes, we don’t realize the significance of what’s just happened. Sometimes a significant moment in our faith life can seem small. But in that hotel room just before Christmas I saw it: When my husband said those three words a whole year and a half ago, he said 'yes' to my faith.

And he’s continued to say yes.

I now fast forward a year and half. Over the past year, he and I have talked about God as real and personal. We've talked about prayer. We've talked about the demonic realm and how it influences people. We've talked about church life. We've even talked about his dreams at night, half-expecting that somewhere in them God speaks. In these conversations we're in agreement - Pretty much.

What does this mean for his own decisions about faith? I honestly have no idea. I'm not sure it matters for me to know that. All I know is it's gentler, better, and our marriage is not suffering.

What tickles me a little is that this is certainly not happening anywhere near a church. Which is perfectly fine. I think a few husbands out there are that way inclined, and God gets around these things. 'Church', anyway, is the one sleeping beside him every night who tries to be a good wife.

Do you have tough conversations with your spouse? Has it become gentler over time? It'd be interesting to hear how things are with you. We can be honest, we all understand.

Nice chatting!

Ann


Lynn's Testimony

Hi SUMite NATION:

Profile for TypepadLynn here. Last week I was honored to be interviewed on the the Debbie Chavez show. The show is now available on a podcast. It's the testimony and recap of the seven years I marched around my Jericho. 

Hope you have time to listen in. Also, I hope you will visit Debbie. She has a powerful ministry for women in faith. Have a blessed day and let's get summer rolling. Hallelujah.

Click here → Praying For Your Unsaved Husband - Debbie Chavez Show

DebbieChavez.com

Squadronofsisters.com

Also, if you want to catch up on my teaching about the Kingdom, visit  →Lynndonovan.com. Hugs, Lynn


Milestone Made Possible Because Of You

Hey SUM Family, Tiffany Here!

I have some wonderful news to share!

Today I graduated year one of ministry school. This was the first half of a two year program that will lead to ordination.

I was very surprised to receive "The Heart of David Award" along with my certificate of completion. What an honor and joy!

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The words "thank you" are not enough to express the gratitude I have for you,  my beloved family without walls. Your love, encouragement, and support  has tremendously helped carry me to this beautiful moment. Thank you to everyone who has given time, prayer, finances, Scripture and hugs. My accomplishment is your accomplishment.

So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. -- 2 Thessalonians 1:11

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. -- Ecclesiastes 4:12

You all have helped me accomplish my dreams. In the comments, share something that God has laid upon your heart to accomplish. I want to pray over you and bless you today.


A Road Well Worth It

Hi friends, Ann here!

Have you ever looked in the rear-view mirror, glimpsed the road behind you, and realized that something’s changed? That happened to me recently in relation to a friend who didn't want to know about faith. I thought I'd share the story today.Rear view mirror SUM

When I first turned to God, I began to tell my friends my testimony. Little did I know how unenthusiastic they would be. In their eyes it was a ‘fairy tale’. I realize now that this is normal, but at the time I was perplexed: “How can you not believe me?" 

I had a particular friend who epitomized this. At the mention of my faith she literally had a physical reaction. She raced to the other side of the shop we were in, and starting looking at shelves with her back to me. The months that followed brought honesty about her feelings towards Christians. Then came her husband, with similar reactions. They warned me off the ‘danger of religion’, shaking their heads as if I was a weakling who’d been sucked in. It was pretty painful to be viewed this way. Nevertheless, I stayed friends: I liked them.

Eventually they moved away but recently, after a couple of years' absence, I got a surprise email: “We’re in town, can we meet?” It was a big “YES” from me, we set up a time and day, and time found us gathered round a homely kitchen table with cake and tea.

Now, my heart at this point had become quite bruised. For some time I’d been feeling like I was lying in the corner of a battlefield, enduring atheist swipes. Anti-Christ sentiments among those near and dear had become bruising thumps against my shield of faith. Bang. Bang. Bang. I was tired – I’m sure you know the feeling. Yet:

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NIV).

Indeed, that day as we sat at the same table with cake and tea, the swipes seemed to disappear and something altogether different happened. As I took a sip of tea my dear friend came out with a question that had clearly been brewing:

“Ann, tell me, are you still a Christian? If so, how has that affected your marriage?  And Bryce, how are you coping with it?”

Woah. What? Of all our friends, none have ever asked me about my faith; they don’t want to know. None have asked that honest question about our life and marriage, and Bryce and I had never, up to that point, had the opportunity to talk about this situation to someone else, side by side. In essence we were being asked to tell our shared story.

And so we talked. I gave my testimony. Bryce joined in. I put my hand on his leg. We talked about the fact that you experience it or you don’t. We talked about a sense of calling. We talked about church and denominations, churches being clubbish, relationship versus religion, about how you can’t give up your faith, about how we still love each other, and about respecting each other within a marriage.

Our boys sat munching cake. Everyone at the table had open ears, including me.

Later, tucking the boys in, some childlike wisdom came, sweet and helpful: “Mum, don’t worry about other people. If you like something, you just do it.” Good words fitly spoken. 

That day represented a shift. Someone who had been so opposed to my faith actually listened. What’s more, my husband and I sat together, talking authentically about it to others. These friends of ours would never go near a church but what they were willing to hear is our story and reality, because it is a raw and real account. In that way, we did it together, he and I. Thank God for my husband's place in all this; and yes, we feel the blows, but we also keep going because who knows where it goes!

How about you? What rear-vision experiences have you had, looking back and seeing that something shifted? 


We Raise a Hallelujah!

There has been much to celebrate in SUMite land in recent weeks. The SUMite Gathering at the beginning of April and our dear Lynn’s Mike coming to know Jesus as his Lord and Saviour being two BIG highlights.

My family received some wonderful news this morning. John, my brother, some of you may recall, has been going through treatment for lymphoma since November. Today, he received news that he is in FULL REMISSION! Hallelujah. Praise the Lord! We’re naturally excited but I’m especially pleased for my mom and dad who found the whole experience very stressful.

Like Lynn’s Mike who has stepped into a completely different ‘life’, John has also. Prior to his diagnosis he had lived a ‘quiet’ life as a Christian, so quiet that his wife and children weren’t really aware of his faith. However, in this ‘dark valley’ he discovered not just the ‘rod and staff’ of his shepherd but the Lord who led him beside still waters and to lie down in long grass. John happily told everyone who came in contact with him, whether it be the nurse administering his chemo, to the stranger who wished him well, that he simply trusted in the goodness of God.

John’s transformation has really been quite remarkable. And then my dad who I’ve never known to pray before was nightly praying with mom for healing for his eldest son.

I don’t have any real message today other than to express my heartfelt praise to our God. Who is always good, even when the news might not be. And to encourage you all to keep praying not so much for answers but to know Him better. Because when we know Him better we come to experience the Lord as our shepherd of whom we ‘shall not want’.

And to all of you who prayed for John and my family. A heartfelt thanks from us all. I wish I could hug you all. 

I’ve discovered this song recently that I keep playing and it has such a strong message about our God, who loves us so much that He simply can’t be stopped!

I hope it may uplift your spirit. Jesus tells us we are His friends and so He takes us behind the scenes of what is going on (John 15:15-17) - this is what prayer is about - praying the Father's business be done! 

Be blessed dear SUMite friends.

 

 

 


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.


What Will It Take To Increase YOUR Faith?

Hey SUMites, Tiffany here!

I asked Lynn if I could do an additional post this month because I wanted to share a really cool story with you. I pray it activates and strengthens your faith to use your God given authority like it has me.

12 In my spare time, I love to upcycle things. Especially using license plates and 100+ year old barn wood from my grandpa's family farm. This year I really  ramped up my exposure going from doing the typical 2 -3 shows a year to 9-10 this year. On Friday afternoon, June 8th, the back power hatch when out in our suburban. It refused to open! I had to open the half window and reach through to try and get my groceries. We have a pickup truck but I can't use it for shows because we don't have a topper and I take a LOT of stuff whenever I go. I was a little worried because I was going to load the stuff up that night so that way I could just leave in the morning. My grandparents always come from Kansas City and help me with the shows. This time it was only my grandma and I.

During dinner, I told him that the hatch is broken and I was worried about it. I wanted to load the car that night so we could just leave in the morning. He said that he would take a look. Turns out the part for the hatch is a self-sustaining piece. There was no backup switch, lever, etc. to use in case of malfunction. He was frustrated as he had to figure something out and he was losing daylight. If I could brag on my husband for a second, Jason is kind of like MacGyver. He can see things and put things together in such a way that I am always mind blown. I know a lot of it is the Holy Spirit guiding and directing him because he truly is gifted in this way...oh the day he realizes this!

After a few hours of work he concocted a mechanism that would allow me to open the hatch if it refused to open when I 14 needed it to the next day. He gave a clear warning that NOTHING is to touch or lean against this lever. If it gets accidentally bumped, it could open the hatch, even if we are driving on the road. It was too late to load up the car that night so it would have to wait until morning. That morning, I made a point to hit the floor with my knees and pray. I refused to begin my day without His presence and making myself right before Him - mending our relationship. Praise God I did!


Turning out of my neighborhood onto the first main street (see below for a screenshot of Google Maps), I accelerated a little to quickly to get out the way of the oncoming traffic. This caused the stuff in the back to shift, a bump of the lever, and an opening of the hatch...as I am driving down the street! I quickly pulled to the side of the road, and my grandma and I got out of the car and scrambled to pick up the debris spread across the 4 lanes of the road. A white truck immediately pulled to the side of the road behind us and a man sent by God helped us move things to the side of the road. Another car stopped in the far left lane right behind some grid and a heavy tote and both men brought it to the side of the road. Trying to hold it together I thought, I don't even want to go anymore! Let's go home. I was overwhelmed...BUT God! He quickly swept the fear away and I was able to see with spiritual eyes the hand of God and the dispatch of angels. Grandma and I loaded the car back up as a cop car pulled up behind us down the street...making sure we were safe as we finished up. Getting in the car, I replayed that scary incident back in my mind. How is it that absolutely NOTHING got broken? How is it that there was NO traffic behind me as my car spewed out projectiles across all 4 lanes of traffic? How is it that I saw a car run over my plastic table but there was absolutely no damage to it? How is it that this cop who pulled up shortly after didn't cite me a ticket for my rigged hatch? How except for God? How except for angels on assignment?

120 + L

Beginning to cry, I held grandma's hand, gently shaking from adrenaline. Yes God did something so miraculous in that moment but now it was time to work. I prayed praised God for all that He had done. I then specifically called upon my angels and dispatched them to protect our vehicle. I said, "don't let that door open. Close the door like what was done for Daniel with the lions mouths. Keep that door closed until it is time. Don't let anything move or shift in the vehicle. Put a hedge of protection around our vehicle and get us there safely. You know what? They did! The rest of the 13.7 miles to our destination everything was smooth sailing. On our way home, same thing. With each second as I carefully drove, my faith increased as I saw with spiritual eyes the power of prayer.

  13Taken just after we arrived at the craft show at Chandler Acres Church.

Share in the comments a moment that angels were dispatched on assignment for you. This is not to praise the angels but to praise the One who created them - having you in mind when He sent them for your benefit and care.


Life Is Too Short to Live Any Way but Happy! By Lori Lyn Skipper

Welcome back to the adventures of Lori Lyn Skipper. My son, Brad, and I made it just fine after his dad left us because we had God on our side. Yes, there were definite struggles, but I had such a peace about me, Philippians 4:7 NLT: Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

The Lord called me to the ministry in 1998. I preached my first sermon in March 1999.  I eventually moved to Benton, IL by the leading of the Lord where I continued serving in the ministry. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, lupus, arthritis, and chronic degenerative disc disease.  In 2005, I almost died from these and other afflictions, such as Barrett’s esophagus and bleeding internally, but God! 

I know that by Jesus’ stripes I am healed because the Word of God tells me so in Isaiah 53:5. I have since been healed of many afflictions and diseases. There are some that I am still working on catching my healing, but it is well with my soul. I believe these are in direct relationship to the life I lived before Christ. Yes, I believe He will completely restore me, but I also believe I am suffering the consequences of my actions and need to walk some things out. I actually appreciate the miracles I’ve experienced more because of what I have to walk out.

 

Brian Lori Adult
Brian & Lori Reacquaint 2009

Not only did the Lord restore my soul but He restored my relationship with Brian in March 2009. I had sent letters numerous times to Brian via his grandmother’s address and never heard from him. In mid-2008, I located him via Myspace, prayed and sent him a message. About three weeks later, I received a response from him, he said he reread all of the letters I had sent him, but he was not ready for a relationship with me. 

Finally, in Feb of 2009 he said he was ready to meet for the first time since 1993. My family had a surprise birthday party for my mom on March 8, 2009. Brian came to become reacquainted with me and the rest of my family. Since that time, Brian and I have worked on developing a relationship. He now lives in Portland, OR but we stay in touch. The best part of all of this, he came to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior living in Missouri. He is currently not on fire for the Lord, but I believe he will be again one day, as well as my youngest son Brad will be also. In Jesus name!

                                  

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-06-17/c7a2b45b-2c1b-48b0-9f40-4a58cb1a6a5c.png
Brad & Lori - During Brad's service in the Marines

Fast forward to December 2015, I was not looking for a husband, but I met mine. John was not looking for a wife, but he found one. From the day we met, the Lord spoke to me that my husband was going to be an integral part in me fulfilling the dreams and calling the Lord has put on my life. My husband is a pre-believer, but I thank God every day for him. He is very supportive of me. He also encourages me in the new adventures I am on with the Lord. We have our struggles due to his life style, but I have learned when to speak up and when to let it go. I have learned to lay down boundaries and will not accept any disrespect towards me. When it has happened, I have been quick to nip it in the bud. I daily thank my husband for his support, encouragement, for his hard work to provide for our family, for his love for me and my sons, for doing dishes, taking out the garbage, whatever it may be. I thank him and let him know how much I appreciate him. It’s vital to our marriages to show love, honor, and respect.

Life is too short to live any way but happy. I have come to the place where I know who I am in Christ Jesus and I won’t accept anything less than His best for my life. I know in Whom I serve, and I don’t forget for one day Who He is or what He has done for me. 

I close with Lamentations 3:58 NKJV: “O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life.” Amen!

 

Lynn Donovan: Thank you Lori for your heart of love for our community and for your courage to share your story. Your life brings great honor to our Father. Well done good and faithful servant.  SUMites, give a shout out to Lori in the comments for sharing her heart with us. Hugs. Lynn


The Dichotomy of A Life, by Lori Lyn Skipper - Part II

Brad son Lori Lyn Skipper June 2018Welcome back! As a quick reminder, I moved to Springfield, IL in 1990. It was there that I met my son Brad’s dad.

The birth of Brad was so very different than when I gave birth to Brian. I was instantly protective of him. On June 26, 1996 my life took a major turn. Without going into every detail, I was hit by a train that day while driving my S10 pickup truck. I broke my neck in 2 places as well as my tailbone. I had multiple bruises, bit my tongue almost off and had a concussion. God in His great mercy spared my life.

A week after the wreck, while at home, I had a flashback and had a stroke; (the doctor said it was my body trying to protect itself because my brain perceived danger). I was paralyzed on the right side of my body and could hardly talk for several days. My sons’ dad refused to take care of me or our son.  The tables had turned, it was I that was raising our son alone, my youngest son was being neglected and I was the one being abused. I was living out Galatians 6:7-8: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

For all of those years, I had sown to the flesh and I was reaping corruption.

I eventually found my way back to church in November of 1996 where I met Jesus. He became the lover of my soul in January 1997. I would love to stop here and tell you, the day I became a born-again believer my life got 100% better and it became a bed of roses, but I would be lying to you. Life became more of a struggle for a season because here I was, a new Christian, my son gave his life to Christ in June 1997 and his dad was still an unbeliever.

The day I surrendered to Christ, my personal life changed 100%, no more drinking, no more drugs, no more pornography. I was no longer the person Brad’s dad knew me to be and that brought about its own problems. He did not want to hear about my new-found faith, nor did he want to attend church with us. He was happy with his life and wanted no part of mine. I became lonely and depressed. I felt torn between being with the man I loved and going back to my ‘former’ self or pressing on with the Lord I loved.

Brads dad reached the decision to move back to Springfield, IL without Brad & I. Brad was seven-years-old at the time and is now 27 years old. He and his dad still have a strained relationship due to his dads neglect while he was a young child.

Our children do suffer when one or both of their parents’ neglect, ignore or abuse them or the other parent. Again, it is up to us to protect our children. It may look different for each person, but we MUST protect our children.  I know this is resonating with several of you out there. Please know that you are not alone. Hear me “YOU ARE NOT ALONE!” God understands, He knows your pain, your struggle. He is walking through it with you.

As I write this, Father gave me this Scripture for one (or more) of you reading this right now;

Ezekiel 16:4-14. Verses 4-8 “As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. “And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God.

Hear the Word of the Lord, He has entered into a covenant with you and now is the time of love!

Stay tuned to hear about the miracles God has performed in my life! Until next time, love & blessings, Lori.

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHi, Lori Lyn Skipper here! I’m happy to say I am 51 years young, married to my husband John. We have three grown children between the two of us. I have two boys and he has a daughter as well as a granddaughter. My husband and I married in June 2016. I moved to sunny Florida in 2012. I often say I’m an Illinois girl living in a Florida world. I came to meet Jesus in mid-1996 but did not accept Him as my Lord and Savior until January 1997. Let me tell you, He’s had His work cut out since I said yes to His call. I often envision God shaking His head at my antics. You know, how we do with our own children? I kind of resemble Paul, “the chief of sinners”. Well, I used to be, now I’m no longer a sinner, I’m a saint saved by grace that sometimes still sins. A couple of my passions are to see people healed, delivered, and set free by the power of Holy Spirit and the body walking in their gifts and calling of the Lord. Getting to be a part of that is so fun and such a blessing.

Lori Skipper Hosting


#fingerprintrevelations

Hey SUMnation! Tiffany here.

Some of you have heard me talk about this unique journey that the Lord has me on right now with my job. I shared this on the SUM sisters in Christ group on Facebook but wanted to reach out and share here as some of you (especially the men) may have questions about what I do as a job and how God is gifting me for ministry. I wanted to give you a quick snap shot into where I spend 40 hours a week and when my heart is prepped right and my mind focusing on the Lord I am given insight that can only come from the Holy Spirit.

 

FPWelcome to my fingerprinting station (picture left). There are two other girls that I work with in my office and we each have our own computer/desk and our own fingerprint station. For the most part my day is split between this view and the view of my desk and computer. This machine has become my "buddy" over the last year. We spend a lot of time together. Maybe I should name it. ::grin:: I have to say I have done a lot of contemplating and talking with the Lord here. In thinking of Moses and the burning bush...if I had the ability to take my shoes off here...I would. This is holy ground. Before I begin to sound sacrilegious I will continue the tour and you will see why I feel this way.

FP2Step on up to the machine! I tried to capture this as best as possible but just imagine this view from your own eyes (picture right).When I fingerprint people we are up close and personal so to speak. The customer stands in front of the fingerprinting machine called Livescan and I stand to the left of the machine. I use gloves during the time of fingerprinting someone but I essentially am holding hands with each person I print. I wish I could tell you how or when this started but my first conscious recollection was feeling a tingling sensation in my hands when fingerprinting someone when I first started doing this job over 2 years ago. I didn't understand at the time. There wasn't any actual guiding from the Holy Spirit at that point just a realization that this feeling in my hands was different than I'd ever experienced before. Eventually I had caught on that it wasn't with everyone I printed and so in the secret of my mind I would pray for those people.

FP1
Placing hand on the Livescan brings a digital print onto the screen

I began to be amazed at how much a stranger would open up to someone like me - a fingerprinter who spends maybe 10 or 15 minutes with you. The crazy thing is they had no idea that I was willing to pray for them and yet the Holy Spirit would open up this close space and meet us there. Where 2 or more are gathered together in Jesus' name - He is there. In doing this job (please let me know if this is not biblically sound) I am beginning to feel as though the where 2 or more are gathered together in His name doesn't have to mean consciously. I mean look at our community. Some of our spouses are willing to allow us to gather together in Jesus name - when our spouses let us pray over them and with them. But, for those of you who have to be more secretive about your prayer life because of hostile spouses - when you intercede on their behalf and they are in the room...my friends...Jesus still shows up whether they know it or not! As I have grown and matured (though only a small amount) in my job I have begun to view this as a ministry. When people open up it could be as simple as they need fingerprinted because they just got a new job that requires a background check. It can also be as complicated and broken as a man getting fingerprinted for a step-parent adoption. He married the love of his life who happened to be a sex abuse victim in her teens from her step-father (close to home or what??). Cancer and chemo. Military veteran who was having a second surgery on his shoulder. Widows. Gender-identity confused individuals. A man with a tattoo behind his ear with the number 666 and cartoonish devil horns and tail. Sex offenders who have been convicted of some really atrocious things. I could go on and on...and that is just from either conversation that was opened up or earthly (physical) observation/knowledge.

I have seen some really amazing things during this fascinating season of work but I have to be completely honest with you. I am sure you can relate when ministering to others that it can be really exhausting. You know that God has called you to help and has brought people into your life that you are supposed to pour into and be a light and example to...to train up and disciple...to intercede for - even for just a moment in time. It is so hard to be vulnerable because it opens up your heart to rejoice and mourn with those around you (Romans 12:15). In the past having issues with depression and anxiety I often times get overwhelmed and it is almost like a defense mechanism goes off inside of me and it says - back away, you aren't equipped to handle this. I get in slumps where I think if I avoid God than He won't ask me to do it anymore. I know this is ugly and wrong. I am the only one (that I know of...it's not like I talk to fingerprinters other than my co-workers) equipped to THIS calling. I have to press in and keep fighting. I have to keep leaning in to the Father who has gifted me for such a time as this and such a WAY as this. I have to stand in the gap for those who come my way because I may be the ONLY one who will.

I've gone a little longer than anticipated and so I want to stop here but next time I will continue on with this #fingerprintrevelations story. So much more to share as God allows. I want to talk about the amazing post and work from Libby recently.

In the comments, can you share some tips that help you overcome the heavy burden of ministering to others? Any Bible verse(s) that keep you going? Also, how has God positioned you in your own specific, unique, and powerful way to minister to those around you everyday?

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

--Isaiah 43:19


Inside God's Cedar Chest

Cedar-chest-600

By Martha Bush

It was 4:30 A.M., April 22, 2017. My mother’s nurse tapped me on my leg while I was grabbing a short nap on the sofa down the hall from my mother’s room where she lay at the point of death.

I sat up quickly at the feel of the nurse’s soft gentle touch and immediately said, “She is gone, isn’t she?” “Yes,” the nurse nodded.

As the dawn of day lurched forward with a beautiful array of sunshine despite death all around me, funeral arrangements had to be made and relatives and friends had to be called.

A few days after the funeral, we left Georgia headed back to our home in Texas to clear my mind before I took on the task of returning to Georgia in a month to empty out my mother’s home, so I could sell it.

However, two weeks later, we received a phone call – my husband’s sister had passed away in the same small town where I had laid my mother to rest. And so it was, we rushed back for the same process to take place all over again.

It was then I felt like screaming, “Stop this train! I want off! Two deaths within two weeks; this is too much to handle!”

But, there was no time for grieving the loss of our loved ones. We now had two houses to empty and sell plus decisions had to be made on what items we would haul back to Texas to keep for our home.

As the sorting got under way, we quickly decided that among the pieces of furniture that we definitely would be keeping were two beautiful antique cedar chests that each of them had. As we peaked inside each one, a story began to unfold right before our eyes as we observed each piece of its contents.

  • their personal Bibles that had been marked and underlined on almost every page
  • Grandma and Grandpa’s Bibles
  • diaries of family history from previous generations
  • artwork from their grandchildren and great grandchildren
  • letters from family
  • picture albums upon picture albums (no pictures on computers for these ladies, 91 and 93 years young)
  • hand-crafted afghans, quilts, and beautiful works of embroidery
  • special pieces of jewelry designated for family members

I could go on and on listing things, but by now you are probably getting the picture that they had secured their most treasured possessions inside their cedar chest for safe keeping to be handed down to the next generation.

It got me to thinking, “if God had a cedar chest, what would be inside?”

And then, it suddenly dawned on me what was inside. Take a look!

For you are a holy people, who belong to the LORD your God. Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure. (Deuteronomy 7:6 NLT)

Doesn’t that just blow your mind that the creator of the universe hand-picked us to be in His special treasure? Of all the things He has created and could have chosen, He picked us, mankind, to place inside His own cedar chest, if you please.

And yet, we sometimes don’t see ourselves as a special treasure to God.

  • Often times, we have faced so much rejection, as well as verbal, emotional, and physical abuse that it has ripped away our self-esteem, and we no longer know who we are, or believe we are special
  • Still again, the wages of our own sin hangs on us like filthy rags because we have not accepted His forgiveness. Oh yes, self-condemnation is a big one that keeps us from recognizing ourselves as a special treasure.
  • We are also prone to allow the business of the day and the storms of life that come at us from all different directions to beat us down, leaving us torn apart by the storm’s raging winds.

I believe it grieves the heart of God when we don’t see ourselves as He sees us. After all, He bought the whole world to obtain His special treasure, and He wants us to see ourselves as He sees us.

I am convinced that “How we live our lives as God’s special treasure is what we hand down to the next generation. It becomes a powerful testimony of how we used our gifts and strengths God gave us to further the Kingdom of God.”

******  

Okay, Sumite Friends: It is DECLARATION DAY!

Using my family’s cedar chest as a symbol of God’s cedar chest, what would we find inside of it that makes you special to God. Tell us about your gifts and strengths God has given you.

This is not bragging on yourself; it is declaring who you know you are in Christ, and how He has uniquely designed you that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  (1 Peter 2:9)

In the comments, share God’s special treasure (YOU) that will be passed on to your next generation as a part of your legacy.

I can’t wait to learn more about the special treasure you are.

Martha

 Cedar-chest-600


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


Marriage Redemption In Real Life This Easter

I received this from Sumite, Becky Walker. It is testimony for all of us. Blessing this week. Love, Lynn

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image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comFor anyone who does not know me or what God has been doing, I want to remind everyone of God's promise to me. I wrote the following in a post around Thanksgiving: 

Years ago, before my husband left (3 years ago), the Lord promised me that my husband would return, not a slave to sin, but a brother in Christ (Philemon 1:15-16). He also promised me that He would give my husband an undivided heart and place His Holy Spirit in him, remove his stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26). I have clung to these promises and claimed these promises, even in the face of opposition, because of the faith He gives me.

On January 19th, exactly a week after the end of our corporate fast, my husband, who had been separated from me for over three years, Charlie, contacted me to ask if we could have dinner as a family. It was totally unexpected since just hours earlier, he had picked up the kids like normal for the weekend. When I read the text, I was amazed and excited. I knew that God had been working but this was just the beginning, and only later would I find out just how much God has been doing behind-the-scenes.

We all had a very nice dinner at a restaurant that used to be one of our favorites and that night he contacted me some more to talk about wanting to go to counseling. What started off as one simple text and request evolved into us going out to dinner as a family about once a week and in a few short weeks, he had moved home. I sought the Lord intensely about this rapid change and the Lord kept reminding me of His promise and that it was unfolding before my very eyes.

Charlie spoke with the married adult pastor at my church, Pastor Berry. When I asked the pastor the following weekend to pray for me to have wisdom regarding my decision about such swift reconciliation, he told me "I've met with Charlie and I could tell that he has a repentant heart."

I actually had asked him to pray that I would not have the fruit of the Spirit if I'm not doing God's will because I know I can't do anything without Him. I didn't want to be deceived by the amount of joy, peace, and love I had that was overflowing onto Charlie and the kids. The pastor told me more than I even expected to hear. I was reminded that the enemy does not give peace, joy, and love; it could only be from the Lord. The Lord has also given me so much love for his son that was conceived through the other relationship. He is 19 months old and his name is Mattis.

I have been witnessing the fruit of the Spirit from Charlie as well and upon meeting our new marriage mentors. I discovered that he said he has accepted Christ as his Savior.

He has since joined a discipleship group, we are going to participate in a 10-week marriage mentoring program, and we are both looking for a bible study group to join together. I know that the Lord is still working, and he's not done yet. When the Lord blessed Job with double the amount he had before, it took time for those children to be born and for the livestock to be amassed but the Lord did it in all in His timing and that is what I am trusting him to do, not only for Charlie and his personal relationship with Jesus but with my family as well.

I am clinging to that promise as well.

We are currently waiting for the divorce to be final so that we can remarry and file for joint custody of his son. The enemy is constantly trying to make me doubt what God has done and is doing, but the Lord has taught me the spiritual disciplines I need to combat the enemy's lies and the spiritual armor I need to stay protected. I am overwhelmed by everything God has done and continues to do. Charlie and I both agree that everything that has happened is worth it because our marriage will be stronger than ever with our foundation in Jesus, and we now have a family of 5. 

I am eternally grateful for everything and I pray that our testimony encourages someone. Do not ever give up on God's promises in your life.

If you have earnestly sought the Lord about His will for your life and He continues to promise you something, no matter how seemingly impossible it is, cling to those promises. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, sovereign, in control, and His ways are beyond comprehension. Who are we to doubt His power and His will? My prayer is that all believers would be filled with peace and joy as we trust in Him and that joy would overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit. The enemy will always try to control us but if you are a child of God, you are free from that slavery and you never have to return to your old master again. Jesus gives us peace that surpasses all understanding and joy abundantly;

He is always the One we should turn to. 

With love, Becky

Read Becky's previous post: God's Promise For Marriage

Biography:

My name is Becky Walker. I live in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am a stay-at-home mother of three children; my 8-year-old, Charlie Walker, V and my 6-year-old, Lily, and my soon-to-be stepson, Mattis, who is 19 months old. I teach English to children in China through VIPKID and I’ve never enjoyed a job more. I live in a house that’s owned by our church, another blessing from God. I love spending time with my family and singing praises to God.


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


This Really Happened Under My Roof

IMG_3821Meet Finn.

His mama was found wandering about Los Angeles and birthed a litter right around Christmas day. We adopted this little buddy from a Chiwawa pet rescue. We also adopted his sister, Gracie, nearly two years ago.

Finn, I’ve come to decide, is a special needs doggie. Something happened to him before our ownership that has left him with permanent pain in his back-hind quarters. He often yips and yelps and scurries along the floor like someone is chasing him because of the moments of pain he experiences. We have taken this poor mutt to the Vet several times, x-rays and exams to figure out what is causing this pain.

Nothing.

We can’t figure it out and he continues to be in pain. This causes the little pooch to be very fearful. He’s also obsessively devoted to my husband Mike. Follows him everywhere.

It breaks my heart to look upon the pup and his suffering. So much so, that I often will sit next to him and gently pet his back and pray over him saying, “I love you Finney. I bless you with peace, in Jesus name. I bless you to be healed, in Jesus name. I bless you to be free from fear, in Jesus name. I bless you with peace in Jesus name.”

I seriously have seen progress and his pain appears to be less than last year. But alas, there are good days for this little doggie and not so good days.

I suppose you are wondering why I’m sharing this story. Well, recently I was in the kitchen and I heard the dog yelp as he jumped up on the couch next to my husband. The yelping bothers Mike as well. To my astonishment, Mike pet the dog and said to him, “I bless you with peace in Jesus name.”

I stared.

Mike smiled back.

My instinct checked in and I said, “You need to bless him again because it’s persistence that is the key to heaven.”

SERIOUSLY. This was happening under our roof.

Mike, “I bless you with peace in Jesus name,” as he looked at Finn.

Gang,….. In Jesus name.

This man spoke it. The name to which every knee will bow….. He spoke it. (Romans 14:11)

I grinned at him. And Mike grinned back.

We went on with our day and I believe that all of my 25 years of praying, living out my faith, loving and forgiving is producing the results of every promise in the Word for me as a child of God.

The LORD recently has caused me to realize that it’s been my pain, discouragement, disappointment and unmet expectations that have been the springboard into the most amazing faith adventure.

ALL OF IT has led me into the brilliant experiences of this verse:

Christ in me, the hope of glory. —Colossians 1:27

This promise is for all of us.

Everything worthy in God’s realm is won by hard work, persistence and pounding on the doors of heaven. Every single thing. This faith walk is not for the faint of heart, nor those who will give up easily. But when you put in the years, the hard work of healing, prayer and faithfully living of God’s Word, you will see the glory.

How do I know? Never in a million years would I have thought my husband would bless anyone or anything and never ever, ever in the name of Jesus Christ.

It’s the season of miracles. Press toward the goal my friends. (Philippians 3:14) It’s worth the price.

I love you my SUMite family. I bless you today with the peace of heaven. In Jesus name. AMEN

Stay tuned as the first week of January will be our prep-week for our annual community fast. We will fast together, with new insights that I have learned about fasting, the week of January 8-12, 2018.

I’m listening to the LORD for our promises for the year. It’s going to be the best year ever.

Hugs, Lynn


Need A Miracle? Testimony IS A Miracle

SUM Nation, OF THE MOST AMAZING BELIEVERS ON EARTH, you are the richest of believers!

Books of Peter Nov 2017I want you to know that I was overwhelmed by the reply to Monday’s post. Names came in through the comments, email, and Facebook. I wrote every name down by hand. And as I wrote your names, I blessed you. And in a moment as I leaned over the spiral binder to write another, the LORD urged me to understand something of profound love. As I wrote your name, those of your spouse and children, it was as though I could see the hand of God, quill on parchment, as He wrote your names down as well. They are inscribed in a sacred book of remembrance. He sees your faith. He sees your heart and your hope. Your prayers of intercession are reaching His ears. HE WROTE YOUR NAME!

(Sometimes I wish I could make a movie out of what I see when the Lord is talking to me in my prayer time. It’s way cool.)

Anyhoo, I was deeply moved in my heart and emotions for the love of God to take time to write down my little name, your names and those whom we love, He loves. It was beautiful.

Let’s move on to our study in the books of Peter.

A few weeks back the discussion in the SUM FB group regarding this passage centered upon submission, respect, boundaries etc. Regrettably, this is a passage that creates confusion, is often misquoted, quoted out of context and is used broadly and as an overreach from what, I believe, God intended. Understanding this passage requires Holy Spirit revelation so ask for the spirit of wisdom and revelation to help with interpretation and application (Eph 1:17).

Obviously, I believe the truth of 1 Peter 3:1, as our book, Winning Him Without Words, is based upon this passage. But where I think the overreach occurs is in determining the conditions of submission. Not the part about winning them without words.

I prayed and asked the LORD, what is your intent and purpose for this passage in 1 Peter 3:1? I immediately heard, “Lynn, read the entire book, the entire chapter.”

I did. In fact, I read the enter two books of Peter again, twice. Probably will read them through a few more times in the next few weeks.

1 Peter, chapter one, is a beautiful greeting to the “believers” in Asia. Peter wrote this letter to them, “The Elect.” (I love that identity.) But he also wrote it to all of us, the believers (This is our identity also).

We need to state the obvious. Believers are mandated with a different set of beliefs and instructions as pertaining to life and Godliness than those who are yet to believe. Peter is writing to a “church,” a group of believers who, until recently were Pegan, without God, without instruction, without the Holy Spirit. Peter is writing to these believers who received the truth, the Holy Spirit and salvation through the Blood of Jesus, the death and resurrection.

What I love about the first chapter of Peter it is a letter of encouragement as well as a reminder.

We need reminding.

I cannot explain why this is true, but we forget so quickly the goodness, the blessing, the victory we have experienced with God. I often think the devil interferes with our recollection to throw us into doubt and unbelief. That is why I love my Daily Bible. I see the goodness, the faithfulness of God in those pages. Years and years of God’s hand, love and provision in my life. I need those reminders to walk in my conscious when I’m waiting for the salvation of my husband. How about you?

Currently I’m contending for something so BIG that only a miracle will predicate the fulfilment of my hope and dream. It’s so LARGE of a prayer request that it even shakes my belief at times. I’ve been contending and praying, fasting and praying and seeking God in an effort that is different than all the prior seasons of prayer.

And as the time passes, I tend to want to surrender hope. Give up and give in. The devil likes to do this to my dreams God gave me in October. He shuts me down in November and I have likely surrendered too much to the devil’s schemes. NOT THIS TIME! I will be honest, I’ve battled fear. I even found myself praying out of fear and doubt. I confessed my fear and asked God’s forgiveness and have asked the Lord to help me be in peace and rest as I continue to believe for this dream.

A week ago, the fear subsided. In this process, I’ve needed miracle after miracle. AND I’ve received several. Outlandish and unexpected miracles. But I’m contending for more, as they are required to move forward.

Why am I sharing this in the study of Peter? Because we need reminding. I need reminding of God’s faithfulness.

Right now, I’ll bet that you are contending for some huge breakthroughs as well. Currently in my prayer sessions so many are battling depression, anxiety and fear. Many have giant needs, a new job. A home to live in. You are praying for a breakthrough for your kids who are in trouble, serious, life-altering stuff. You are praying for a breakthrough in your faith, your heart and physical body. Trust me, I know. I’m right there with you.

So, we need reminding that there are miracles in our past. There will be miracles in our future. And I feel the urging of the LORD that today, we are to share our remembrances with one another. In the comments, leave a few sentences or a complete story about a miracle in your life.

At Christmas time, I can’t think of a better way to offer worship to our LORD, through the sharing of our testimony of His faithfulness. Your story may be the very story that helps another SUMite to claim their miracle. Testimony is power in the Kingdom. Testimony can transfer to other believers and bring about healing, miracles and more.

Honor God in this. Pop into the comments. Write from your heart. What has God done that was a miracle in your life. Nothing is too small. If it was a miracle to you… It was GOD!

Love you. See you there. More to come on Peter. Woo Hoo!!!! Lynn


God's Promise For A Marriage - Thankfulness This Thanksgiving

Becky Walker Family Nov 2017
Becky and Her Two Children

Promises by: SUMite Becky Walker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biography:

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