292 posts categorized "Trust"

Our Place of Authority and Power

IStock_000007310932XSmallDear friends, two weeks ago I wrote a post about seeing the gold in our spouses and calling it out. Since then the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about the power of our words, which seems to dovetail perfectly with what Lynn has been teaching us, specifically about praying with confidence. And that is what I feel like the Holy Spirit has been teaching me recently.

But not in the way one would expect. (There's that word again that things won't look the way we expect them to.) As I've shared before, God seems to want to take my perceptions of the truth and turn them on end to see them in a different way. An empowering way.

I'm going to share with you what the Holy Spirit told me as I was out for a walk to worship and pray. 

"You have nothing to lose, and the enemy has lost everything."

I asked for my clarity and understanding and this is what the Holy Spirit impressed upon me, my friends. We, as God's children, have gained everything through Jesus. Thus we can't lose. No matter what the enemy wants us to think or the lies he tries to throw at us, we win. We are called the victors in this life and whatever comes our way. We are even declared to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). 

And the enemy has everything to lose. In fact, according to Scripture, he's already lost everything.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. — Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV)

So let me say this as the complete thought the Holy Spirit impressed upon me. 

We have everything and nothing to lose. The enemy has nothing and everything to lose.

Plays with your mind a bit, doesn't it? But think about it, truly wrap your brain around this. Then think about the place of confidence and power this positions you in with your prayer life. Think about the impact your words can have when spoken out loud in prayers and in alignment with God's heart. That's empowered confidence in who we are as children of God and what He given us. As Christ said we would do the things He did and more.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. — John 14:12-14 (NIV)

SUMites, ponder this powerful truth and begin to apply it to the places in your life that you are waging war. This is what I've been doing this last week and I believe breakthroughs are coming as a result. 

But there's more to this journey I'm on that I'm looking forward to sharing with you and it has to do with our words. The power of our words and prayers. But not the way you think...not the way you expect...yes, God's turning this one upside down a bit for me too. Helping me see things in a whole new way. His way.

And in case your confused as to why I'm on the blog today instead of Lynn, we're changing things up a bit to give us more time to write and create new resources. We'll be sharing more about that in the days and weeks ahead so stay tuned. 

So tell me, SUMites, what do you think about your place of authority now? You have everything and nothing to lose.

I love you, my friends, so very much. Know that my prayers are with you for our pre-believers as we stand for God's salvation for them—Jeremiah 24:7! Amen!

Hugs!
Dineen


My Husband Entered My World, part 2

Mike&NeenHello, SUMites! I have to say I’m so excited to share the rest of this story for you. God did some pretty awesome things during the week of the ACFW conference. I was so blessed to hug old friends I hadn’t seen since last year and to make some new friends as well. Since I serve there as head of registration, I come in contact with so many of the attendees, and let me tell you, the Holy Spirit always has a plan for each year. And He never tells me until He puts me in action! 

This year, He randomly told me to pray for people, usually as they shared a simple concern or health issue. The Holy Spirit would nudge me to pray with them, so I would ask if I could pray for them, right there. Do you know, that not one person declined? And every time, we both wound up so blessed and encouraged. God is so amazing!

Now back to my story…

As I shared on Tuesday, my sweet hubby seemed to connect with my friend, Jim. Seeing Mike so warmly congratulate Jim just about burst my heart with pure joy. I still get teary eye to think of my husband that night. He was warm, caring and full of humor. I watched him intentionally engage with those at our table, and he even made one of my shy friends sitting next to him feel more comfortable. I’m so proud of this guy.

The next day, Mike left early to drive home. I would fly out later in the day once we had the conference office packed and shipped out for next year. Later that morning, I saw Jim in the lobby and headed his direction, curious to hear what he thought of Mike’s intentionality to congratulate Jim on his awards.

What Jim shared confirmed all the prayers I’ve been praying over the years according to God’s leading and also confirmed what God has spoken to my heart about Mike and what’s coming.

Jim said something like this, “Your husband wasn’t at all what I expected. When I looked at him, I saw Jesus. He is right there, shining out of your husband already. And what’s so amazing is, he doesn’t even realize it yet.”

My friends, we’ve prayed for years for our spouses. We’ve stood in the gap for them with our prayers and love. We’ve called out the gold iGod has placed in them. And your comments from Tuesday are part of the confirmation God so lovingly has given me through all this that He is moving in our spouses more than we realize. And sometimes it takes someone outside of the day-in and day-out to help us see it.

SUMites, ask God to show you what He wants you to know about your spouse right now and then pray it in truth, out loud whenever you can. At night when they are sleeping. In the house while they are at work. From your car as you drive to work or in the carpool. I’ve even prayed the Scriptures God has given me and declared them over my husband as I looked at him through a window in the house while he was outside on the porch.

And here’s another one I’ve started to do. Scripture is full of examples of angels delivering God’s Word. When my husband is away, I command the angels assigned to him to speak those same truths that I have over him. So God’s Word and truth are constantly being spoken to my sweet hubby. And I am watching his spirit awakening (Eph 5:14).

And when you see that gold in them, point it out and confirm it to your spouse. Then watch them grow and become more and more like the amazing man or woman of God they’ve been created to be. This is what our prayers do, my friends. God’s truth spoken by the righteous is powerful (James 5:16).

Lord Jesus, give every SUMite a Word and promise for their spouse and give them boldness, faith and opportunities to pray and speak it out loud. And we command the angels assigned to our pre-believers to speak these very same truths over them, to call their spirits to arise and wake up for Christ is giving them light! In the powerful name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, SUMites! We are going to be amazed by what God doing.
Dineen


Guest Post: The Mismatched Family by Dee Rusnak

Dear friends, I'm traveling this week and will be in Nashville for the ACFW conference. I'm thrilled to share this most encouraging post by SUMite, Dee Rusnak. How amazing to think our Lord and Savior Jesus understands our mismatched places because He lived it too. 

Thank you, Dee, for once again sharing your beautiful heart and encouraging words with us! Love you!
See you next week, SUMites!
Dineen

The Mismatched Family 
By Dee Rusnak

JesusTestedHow often have we learned that God is never in a hurry, or at least within our time frame? Or better, never in the way we expect? We read in Joshua how ripe Jericho was for the taking, but God said not so fast with the Israelites who were hungry to take the land. And, when they did, it was in such an unorthodox way (Joshua 6 - marching around the city). Why do we want to rush things and do it in our own way? For me it's so I can rest knowing my ducks are all in a row. If my entire family were saved, then peace would be upon me, or so I think. But God is drawing them in His time and according to His ways. I struggle with that.

In reading through God's Word we find that the family of Jesus didn't believe while He was among them, even to the point of sarcasm. "But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to Him, 'You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that Your disciples may see the miracles You do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since You are doing these things, show Yourself to the world' For even His own brothers did not believe in Him." (John 7:3-5)

Mark (3:21) recounts that His family thought "He is out of His mind!" How did Jesus handle the fact that His own family didn't believe? Matthew 13 lists them as James, Joseph, Simon and Jude, and some unnamed sisters. Jesus certainly had the power to change their hearts. After all, time was ticking and He wasn't going to be on earth much longer. Time to get Your ducks in a row here, Lord! Did Mary teach them and groom them as they were growing up, especially nearing adulthood, about their older brother as Savior? Did His true identity come as a total shock to His younger siblings? Where were they during His crucifixion? Didn't they love Him or try to defend Him? Interestingly, none of this is mentioned in God's Word.

However, we know that some were saved. In 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 Paul writes "He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of His followers at the same time...Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." Mary and His brothers waited in the upper room for the Holy Spirit following His ascension, "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." (Acts 1:14) But, which brothers, if not all? Two brothers that we know of, James and Jude, were converted and wrote books in the New Testament. James later became a leader in the Jerusalem church. What about His sisters? Did He pray for His Father to draw them? Were there still family members who did not believe? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins?

If Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are, was He as concerned for the souls of His family, just as we are for those in our lives? "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Jesus was quite familiar with God's ways and His timing. Never do we see Him fretting throughout His life. As Psalm 37 says "Do not fret - fretting only brings harm." Yet He entrusted God with all things, including Himself, and the salvation of His earthly family…and us!

Jesus prayed…

“I do not pray for these alone (disciples), but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23)

SUMs, Jesus had a mismatched family! We are literally walking in His shoes (sandals)! When we read that He has experienced everything we go through, did you ever consider this situation? We’ve never been alone, SUMs, nor will we ever be! He’s been where we are! He gets it! In His great compassion and love for us, He has given us an example to follow of what we’re to do while we wait: Pray. Trust. Obey. Look what happened with James and Jude! Not only did they believe, but were used by God as Bible authors! Forget the ducks. Instead, together let’s listen intently to God’s very heartbeat: "who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), and let us watch Him do what's impossible for us but is so very possible for Him!

Dee and JerryDee Rusnak and her husband of 44 years, Jerry, both retired, live in Westerville, Ohio. They have three grown sons and three adorable grandchildren, with one more on the way due Christmas Day!


Seeing the “Gold” in Our Spouse

NowenQuoteI went through my old files today and found a post I’d written about my husband’s positive qualities. The list made me think about a verse in Ecclesiastes that I absolutely love. Why? Because it’s a picture of God’s heart and how He sees us.

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

There are three little words in this verse—made, put and heart. But the Hebrew translation of these words holds a list of meanings that would fill a page. I’m just listing a few of them to give you a taste:

Made—to do or make in the broadest sense, become, bear, bestow, fashion

Put — give with greatest latitude, restore

Heart — feelings, will, even intellect, inner man, soul

And to think He did this with everything—everything—kind of blows my mind. He’s fashioned us with beauty and bestowed beauty upon us to grow in beauty as we resemble Jesus more and more. He’s given us eternity with the greatest latitude and restored us to Him, to His kingdom through Jesus. And He put all of this promise in our hearts, wills and souls—the very essence of who we are. 

Now take a look at this truth:

As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. — Romans 4:17

How amazing to think that the same way God called into being this “gold” He placed in us, He’d doing the very same thing with our spouses, our family members, our friends—every single person He places on our heart to pray for. In fact, that nudge should tell us He’s already in action and He’s asking us to partner with Him with our prayers.

So as we look at our spouses, think about the eternity that God has already placed into them. Ask God to show you what it looks like, to see your spouse through the eyes of God. 

Deep friendship is a calling forth of each other’s chosenness and a natural affirmation of being precious in God’s eyes. — Henri Nowen

Then as we see and treat them according to that chosenness (and pray), they begin to walk in that truth. I’m witnessing this right now with my husband.

That old post I found? Here’s part of what I wrote about him in 2007:

He’s the kindest, most loving man I have ever met. I’ve always felt cherished in our marriage. He’s a great dad, provider, and all around great guy. He’s affectionate, loves his girls to pieces, enjoys hanging out with his family, and actually saved a binky (a pacifier) from each of our girls as a memento.

He’s generous, quick to give of his resources, and wants only the best for not only us but for his extended family as well. Part of the reason I fell in love with this guy was because of his big and wonderful family. 

He’s patient, even-keeled, passionate about his interests, loves his work, and is constantly stretching his mind.

Shortly after I read this, he brought me a yellowed piece of paper with big child-like letters, written by our oldest daughter when she was about five years old. He’s still a big softy...and more. I love watching what God is doing all around my husband and how he responds without even realizing it. I see the calling on his life now and the love of God already flows through him in ways that surprise me.

My friends, I want to challenge you today to make a list about your spouse. Write down all the positive qualities you see in him or her. Then hold this before God and praise Him for creating your spouse to be that person. And ask God to show you more of what He’s placed in him or her to add to your list. Don’t be surprised if this becomes new inspiration in how to pray for him or her. 

And feel free to share in the comments. We can have a little “brag-fest” and inspire one another with our hopes and prayers for our loved ones.

SUMites, we hold great hope for ourselves in our growing intimacy with God. We can hold that same hope for our spouses as well and trust God to bring them into that hope of Jesus in His perfect timing.

Lord Jesus, thank You for creating us and holding us together with Your amazing and complete love. Thank You that You do this for our spouses too. I pray for fresh eyes for every SUMite to see his or her spouse through Your lens of love and grace. Reveal the “gold” you’ve placed in them so that we can be part of calling it forth. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Love you, my friends! My prayers are joining with yours.
Dineen

(P.S. I will be in Nashville next week for the annual American Christian Fiction Writes conference. Woohoo! I get to spend the week hanging out with fun people who have characters talking in their heads (just kidding...well mostly...). See you on the 30th!)


Foundations Series: FAITH, HOPE, LOVE

GodsLoveMy friends, how are you doing? There’s a lot going on in the world right now that is discouraging and heartbreaking. The more I watch how God is working in our community here; at the healing rooms as we pray Jesus’ truth into hearts, lives and bodies; through the connections and bridges I see Him building and creating between all of us—the more I understand His heart for us to know these foundational truths. Our foundations need to be firmly built in His truth.

And, SUMites, perhaps it sounds a bit trite and cliché because it’s been said so many times, but we are not of this world. We live in it, we have a mission and a purpose here, but God’s plans, purposes and HIS PROMISES go way beyond the now and span all of eternity. In other words, He’s got us covered. We can rest in the reassurances He’s given us and walk in the truth of Who He is and who we are in Him. That’s our identity—another part of this foundation series I sense is coming.

Today’s foundational truth is found in a verse we know well, and Paul is the scribe who wrote these words of God’s truth.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. — 1 Corinthians 13:13

As I sought Holy Spirit’s help to understand what He wants us all to understand about this truth is that these three are like the Trinity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit. They cannot stand alone as they are part of the whole. 

Love is, as Paul says, there greatest of these three and represents the God-head.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. — 1 John 4:8

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  — 1 John 4:16

Hope represents Jesus, who is the hope of the world. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. — 1 Peter 1:3

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, — 1 Timothy 1:1

When I did a search for the word “hope” throughout the Bible, Psalms had the most references, but can you guess which book came next? The book of Job. Did you know that in the Old Testament the words hope and wait are used interchangeable because the Hebrew word is the same? And in the New Testament the definitions for the various forms of the Greek word for “hope” used always included the definition “joyful and confident expectation”?

Which then sheds a whole new light on this verse:

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross… — Hebrews 12:2

Faith is representative of the Holy Spirit, whose highest purpose is to teach us about Jesus and grow the seed of faith we are given when we received salvation. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. — Ephesians 2:8-10

Like the three fold cord spoken of in Ecc 4:12, faith, hope and love are intertwined and purposed to function as a whole. The real clue, amazingly, came when I looked up that fascinating word, abide

menō — to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), to wait for.

Without love, hope and faith lack the soil for their roots to grow deep and strong. Without hope, love wanes and faith dies. Without faith, love shrivels and hope fades. My friends, as a wordsmith of sorts I find it very difficult to fully explain this mystery for a mystery it truly is.

What I do know is that God’s love is the substance, the birthing place, of miracles. That hope is a divine expectation of God’s love to overcome and save. That faith holds love and hope in the birthing room of those miracles with great tenacity and perseverance. 

The entire Bible is about these three words, because the Bible is about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And these three words embody the heart of God.  

Perhaps the mystery isn’t so mysterious at all and is simply and ultimately a decision to believe the Truth (Jesus) and trust and look for God in every part of our lives. We are not meant to live our faith only during our quiet time with God and church attendance, but as part of every aspect of our lives. To do otherwise keeps God in a box and leaves us disappointed. But to live the abundant life, full of God’s love, hope and faith brings joy, peace and prosperity.

Faith, hope and love. Love is the greatest, the most powerful force on this earth. And all we have to do is ask for it, my friends. Ask God to overwhelm and flood us with His love so that it pours out all around us. Ask Him to love others through us. Ask Him to show us how He loves others and do likewise. There is no set formula, no pattern, no correct way to do this. Just simply follow His lead. He’s an expert!

I love you, SUMites, with the love of God, with the hope of Jesus and with the devotion of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord drench you with His amazing love and renew your spirit. In the name of Jesus, amen!
Dineen


Foundations Series: SALVATION

SalvationHello my dear friends. I just love the Scriptures you’re sending in response to my post on Tuesday. Thank you for sharing your treasures with me. I’m so blown away by your stories of how God is moving! I will be writing these precious Scriptures on the beams of our house and holding them close in my heart and prayers as I stand with you. God is so good and so amazing! 

This next foundational truth—salvation—seems pretty obvious, my friends, but I feel like Abba wants us to understand there is more to it than what we think. So much more that we can comprehend actually. And it’s all about Him.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. — Isaiah 55:8-9

Yes, God’s thought are not ours. They are pure, perfect and all encompassing. All-encompassing—that right there blows me away when I contemplate (or attempt to) the depth of God’s heart and thoughts toward us, let alone His relentless and enduring love. How His plans are always for good and how He works things out for our good no matter how complicated they are or how many people are involved. He’s magnificent!

So, here’s what has my heart burning about the foundational truth of salvation, SUMites. We know what this word has meant to our own lives and we hold it like a hidden treasure, pursued by our prayers for our loved ones to know its precious worth as well.

First let’s take a look at another Scriptural truth (I’m a big fan of 2 Peter 3:9) that addresses God’s desire that ALL people would be saved.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. — 1 Timothy 2:1-6

The word saved here in Greek is sōzō and means to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): — heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole. 

1. to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction: A. one (from injury or peril) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health. B. to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue to save in the technical biblical sense negatively to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment, to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance.

That’s a lot of meaning. Normally I try to bring out just the key parts but this one is so full of meaning that I find to be “all-encompassing” so I’ve included the full definition according to Strong’s.

Now here is what I sensed Abba speaking to my spirit. We wait for the moment of salvation, we pray into it, anticipate it, and at times even despair of it ever happening. Yet God waits for the heart of the one He pursues and as He waits, He builds, prepares, woos, establishes, equips, prepares, celebrates and rejoices. We may not see Him, but that doesn't mean He's not there.

In other words, my friends, salvation is so much more than a moment. And its process begins long before we are ever aware of it. As Scriptures says, it is the Father who draws us to the Son (John 6:44 & 65). This is a mystery we don’t fully understand but know to be true. Abba Father sets into motion His great plan according to His wise timing.

And looking at the full meaning of sōzō, we see something that is much more than a moment. It’s about building. It’s about preparing the ground for the framework, laying down the rebar and materials to make the foundation solid and able to support the rest of the structure—all this before the concrete is even poured. 

Yes, my friends, in our time of waiting and praying, God is working to build the foundation so that when the rest of the structure is built, it will stand with integrity and truth. It’s a process that is done with such care and intentionality.

After the foundation of our house was completed, they discovered an error in the blueprints. If not corrected the foundation under the stairs would not be sound. The process was stalled for a time to figure out how best to correct the foundation to make it right. Two areas of the cement had to be cut out, reinforced and re-poured.

At times we feel this kind of delay in our loved one’s journey to salvation. We question what’s happened so far and doubt. Wonder if we misunderstood. But what if that’s simply a time that God is reinforcing the foundation so that the structure to come will stand strong? What if we shifted our prayers along those lines, asking Abba, “What needs to be covered with prayer as the process continues?” Or to simply ask Jesus, “What are you doing now? What can I be doing to partner with You?”

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. — Philippians 2:12-13

For even after the “moment” we come to the truth of Jesus, the process must continue so that we become more and more like Him. What joy is it to walk in salvation and not reflect the image of the Gift Bearer? What sense is there in the seed of the tree that remains a seed and never reaches its full potential to grow deep roots and tall branches to bring life and shade to the world it inhabits?

My dear friends, salvation is so much more than the solution to the question of heaven or hell. It is life, the very breath of God, intended to fill us, save us, heal us, restore us and love us beyond reason. It is all-encompassing for our every need that is designed to bring wholeness to our past, present and future.

I don’t confess to full comprehend the full ramification of the word “salvation” that is simply nine letters, yet encompasses the entire heart of our Creator. He doesn’t expect us to either, my friends. He simply asks us to believe. Trust. Love.

And this is where I will leave us today, my friends, with the prayer that the all-encompassing truth will firmly solidify in the foundation of our faith and the ones we are contending for. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen!

Don’t miss my prayer video tomorrow. Next week, more foundational truths and a reader question I know will speak to your heart for your marriage. 

Love you so very, very much, SUMites!
Dineen 


Part Four: The Promised Provision

IMG_0009My friends, are you ready for more of God’s amazing truth and love? Are you ready to have your thinking transformed a bit today? Let’s go back to the book of Jeremiah and take another look at King Zedekiah’s story.

Let’s look at the first five verses of Jeremiah 34, because this is where things get really interesting.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with all the armies from the kingdoms he ruled, and he fought against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah. At that time this message came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go to King Zedekiah of Judah, and tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape his grasp but will be captured and taken to meet the king of Babylon face to face. Then you will be exiled to Babylon.

 “‘But listen to this promise from the LORD, O Zedekiah, king of Judah. This is what the LORD says: You will not be killed in war but will die peacefully. People will burn incense in your memory, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who preceded you. They will mourn for you, crying, “Alas, our master is dead!” This I have decreed, says the LORD.” — Jeremiah 34:1-5

I just recently listened to a faith message that presented a concept I hadn’t considered about God’s character and plans of us. Then God showed me the truth of it here in this passage in Jeremiah 34.

In every difficulty we face, there is a God-given promise. 

If you think about it, if you think about God’s nature and promises like Romans 8:28 that God works for our good in ALL things, then it makes perfect sense. That alone is the promise in a nutshell. Especially believers in Jesus who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. God will not and cannot deny Himself.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. — 2 Timothy 2:13

God gave Jeremiah a message for King Zedekiah of what was going to happen, that Nebuchadneezzar would take the city of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah and there would be no escape. Yet God has made a provision for Zedekiah—a promise. Jeremiah even says, “Listen to this promise form the Lord…”

In Jeremiah 38:17-20, King Zedekiah questions Jeremiah again, and again Jeremiah repeats God’s promise. Which if you look back to what Jeremiah said in chapter 34, showed God’s intention to honor Zedekiah’s obedience with a legacy of honor and praise. Sadly, Zedekiah admits his afraid to surrender and fears King Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath more than he trusts God to keep His promise. In chapter 39 we read of his failed attempt to escape with resulted in him watching his sons be slaughtered before his enemy gouged out his eyes. 

Not pleasant, I know, but my dear SUMites, here’s the other part of this amazing thing God is showing me. That promise in our challenge is the key to our breakthrough and our victory, and we walk as conquerors. And the more we do it, the more afraid of us the enemy is! 

This is what it means to fight from victory, not for victory. A promise for every thing we face is already in place for us to find and claim. We are already victorious, already declared conquerors. Now it’s up to us to live like it.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. — Romans 8:37

Not just partial victory, my friends. Overwhelming victory. God won the battle for us when He put our promise in place. Ask Abba what promise He has put into place for the circumstances you are struggling with. Has He already given you a Scripture or two, like He has given me for my daughter Leslie? Has He spoken a word of reassurance to you in the dark of night that you’re afraid to hope for?

My friends, this beautiful SUM family is a huge testimony of God’s faithfulness. He will not fail you. And trust me, I know how hard it can be to look for God in a situation so difficult that all we can see is the mountain of our pain, yet not a glimpse of what God is doing in the midst of it. But I know—have learned—from those very situations that He’s most definitely there. Just not how we expect Him to be. It may not make sense…yet, but it will. 

And I’m discovering that those are the most astonishing moments of God’s undeniable presence manifesting all around us. He’s always been there. I just needed to quit looking for what I expected and see Him.

I love you, my friends. Know that God is giving you the power and the desire to do whatever it is He’s asking you (Phil. 2:13) and He absolutely adores you.

Father God, bless Your SUM Nation with every spiritual blessing You have already set aside for each of us. Fill us, Holy Spirit, with wisdom and revelation to know the direction to go no matter what the circumstances around us look like or are telling us to do. We want only Your voice, Lord Jesus, our Great Shepherd, who gave everything for us to live the abundant life You’ve set before us. Fill us with great courage to take the next step, and the next and the next. Your will be done, Lord, on earth, right now as You have already declared it in Heaven. And to You, Lord, be all the glory. We love You! In the name of Jesus, we pray, amen!

Love you, SUMites!
~Dineen


Part Three: When Things Don’t Make Sense

IMG_0008Recently, I sat in a big room with about 50 people worshiping God in their own way, creating one big mass of noise. But when I closed my eyes, Holy Spirit tuned my ears to hear each individual sound—instruments, voices singing and praying. Each one was distinct and clear. Then I opened my eyes and heard God in my spirit say, “Things won’t look the way you expect.”

The next day, God brought me to Jeremiah 33-39 and sat me there for at least a week. I’m still trying to digest the full range of God’s heart in this, my friends, so I suspect more will unfold as I share with you what God is teaching me right now in this season.

So let’s start with the story of King Zedikiah of Judah and Jeremiah the prophet. There are so many details to this story so I encourage you to read these chapters yourself and study them. But let’s set the stage for the story about obedience and promises.

The attack against Jerusalem and the towns of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is in actuality a tool God is using to discipline the Israelites who have continually disobeyed God. Yet God has made a provision for His people to still live. He’s warned His people repeatedly through Jeremiah, yet the leadership continues to refuse to do what Jeremiah is telling them. 

First he warned King Zedekiah’s predecessor and brother, King Jehoiakim, who burned the scroll recording God’s instructions and provisions to Jeremiah. Jeremiah dictates another scroll to his secretary with even more detail. Then Zedekiah is appointed king over Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, but is warned by God through Jeremiah not to believe the forces of Babylon will stay away. 

And there is a Pharaoh and an Egyptian army involved in all this but I won’t go into that. To say the least, Jeremiah is a complicated book with many pieces, people and armies coming into play. Meanwhile, God is instructing them to stop fighting against the Babylon invasion—to surrender to their enemy— so that they may live. Despite Jeremiah’s continual warnings, the kings and officials continue to resist.

Why? Because it doesn’t make sense. None of it did. I can just imagine them sitting there, remembering the promises from Jeremiah 29 about a hope and a future, and more words of provision in Jeremiah 33, and scratching their heads at the disconnect. In their mind, surrendering to their enemy seemed an impossible path to peace, prosperity and restoration—the very things God promised them if they obeyed His direction to surrender.

Like that moment in a room full of people worshiping, as I observed with my eyes, I could only discern the whole as a noisy mass. Yet when I closed my eyes and trusted the leading of the Holy Spirit, He revealed to me the details of each part and the beauty each held separately. He wanted me to understand that what I observed with my logic, assumptions, and perhaps even presumptions didn’t encompass God’s perspective, nor His plans for me that evening.

He wanted to use circumstances that made no sense to teach me something and to prepare me for what He has provided for me in the coming weeks and months. I knew then He was about to change things up big time. And He did. Basically, my friends, He’s turned my world upside down (in a good way) and changed up how I hear Him and brought new clarity to who I am in Him, how I am to function in my giftings, and what I’m called to do in this great big adventure of His. 

But I had to walk through a lot of things that didn’t makes sense and do the things He showed me that also didn’t always make sense. In some areas, He’s still leading me doing things I don’t quite understand, but I am learning to obey and trust Him to show me what I need to know when I need to know it.

This is all part of the upgrades I spoke of last week and is also His provision for what’s coming. So, my friends, I want to encourage you to dig a little deeper in the circumstances of your life that aren’t making sense. Ask God to show you want you need to know and/or do. Perhaps it’s a time for you to close your eyes and let Him separate the pieces to help you understand what He’s doing in each part to bring clarity and purpose. Read Proverbs 3:5-6, study it, make it your way of living life with God. There is such great peace in this.

In the next part of this series, we'll return to the story of King Zedekiah and Jeremiah where I will share a stunning truth about the difficulties we face—a provision for each and every one. This one’s rockin’ my world a bit—in a great way! I can’t wait to share that one with you.

Love you, SUMites! Remember God’s truth that He is ALWAYS for you and NOTHING can separate you from His love (Romans 8:31-39).
~Dineen

 


Part Two: Upgrades

UpgradesSUMites, I promised to share more of what God is showing me for our community right now. I believe this next part will be so encouraging to you and will strengthen your spirit greatly. Let’s go back to Isaiah 60. There are several parts to this chapter that God has in the works for us right now.

I will exchange your bronze for gold, your iron for silver, your wood for bronze, and your stones for iron. I will make peace your leader and righteousness your ruler. — Isaiah 60:17

This verse is about upgrades. As we grow in our faith and intimacy with God, He upgrades us to new levels of understanding (revelation) of what our calling and purposes are. He also takes our spiritual gifts to higher levels of operation to work toward and accomplish those works, which He prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). He establishes (a very important word right now) these purposes, gifts and us in Him to come from Him and—most importantly—to work with Him, because God intends all of it to operate within the boundaries of our intimacy and relationship with Him. And He equips and prepares us to step into each level. 

I know that’s a lot to chew on right now so let me put it into context. Think about the challenges and trials that have taught you to trust God more and to operate more in your gifting. For example, let’s say your gift is exhortation—you are an encourager. Yet recently you have been greatly discouraged by either external circumstances or internal conflict, which could very well be an attack from the enemy. 

Maybe you “wallow” for a day or two but then the Holy Spirit reminds you who you are and that you have skills—big skills created and gifted to you because you are God’s kid. You begin to seek Jesus for comfort and direction by praying, reading your Bible and worshiping, therefore deepening your intimacy in Him, which then results in you being encouraged. 

You’ve now learned how to encourage yourself in the Lord, which then becomes experiential for you. Let me also say there are many ways to encourage yourself in the Lord—think of David who wrote Psalms and Paul and Silas who sang hymns in the darkness of a prison cell.

Then a barely a week later a friend tells you she is struggling in the exact same thing you did and you know exactly how to encourage her through this difficult time, and because you have experienced it first hand, you realize you have authority to pray and wisdom to share in this type of situation. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing this many times to help others. All that is part of what God uses to bring us to each new level of how we are called to function in the body of Christ. 

Right now, God is very much on the move (yes, can’t get away from that song and I believe it’s very relevant and prophetic for right now) and things are happening, my friends. We are being upgraded to new levels according to what we have overcome and in preparation for what is coming next. It’s exciting, but I know that in some ways it’s grown more difficult. 

Some of you have shared that you feel like you’ve come under greater attack. Since the release of our corporate word in January, I came under one of the worst enemy attacks I’ve ever experienced. Many of you praying over the prayer list have shared you are experiencing more warfare than ever in your marriages. I’ve noticed this too in my own marriage over the weekend, but recognized it for what it was—the enemy’s attempt to distract and discourage—and prayed blessings and protection over all my relationships.

I want to let you in on a little secret the enemy likes to keep us blind to. The very place he attacks you repeatedly is the very place of your gifting. If you are gifted to be an intercessor, he will try to make you think your prayers aren’t making a difference, that they don’t matter, until finally you find yourself hardly praying at all. And a prayer-less believer is a powerless believer.

When you see a place in your life that the enemy is hitting you harder than normal, take stock and ask these questions:

  • Is this a place where God has called me to do something specific?
  • Is this attack in the area of my spiritual gift(s)? If it is a direct contradiction to your gift, then the enemy’s trying to keep you from doing what God has set you up to do best.
  • Is this actually an area you often feel weak and want to grow stronger? Then ask God to turn the enemy’s plans around for good. Ask Holy Spirit to show you what you need to do in that area and teach you to think differently about it (Romans 12:2). That’s when God perfects His strength in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9)

Most importantly, SUMites, don’t back down as that’s exactly what the enemy wants you to do. He only gets louder when he knows he’s losing ground. And that is what we’re doing, we are taking ground that the enemy has no legal right to in our own life and the life of our spouse and our family who are sanctified by our faith (1 Cor. 7:14). 

There is truth behind the saying it is darkest before the dawn. We are on the verge of so much breakthrough as we surround our lives, families and this community with our prayers. Here’s the exciting part of our unfolding promise of salvation from Jesus:

Salvation will surround you like city walls, and praise will be on the lips of all who enter there. — Isaiah 60:18b

Look at that, SUMites! Turns out this church without walls is getting walls after all! An upgrade to walls of SALVATION! And here’s the next part of the promise I feel God wants us to know is coming.

Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. — Isaiah 61:7

This promise is about restoration. God restores what the enemy attempts to destroy. Trust Him to do this and to do it in His way and timing. I believe this is in answer to our prayers for peace and prosperity in our marriages—part of what God asked us to do in January as part of His salvation word to us. 

This is what we are heading toward, SUMites. Stay close to God, go deeper with Him. Our hearts to listen and obey His leading are an important part of what’s happening right now. And I will tell you what God spoke to me last week,

Things won’t look the way you expect.

Now that’s the next part of this series, so stay tuned. I’m looking forward to sharing that one with you. Love you so much, SUM family! I’m praying daily for each of you to be strengthened, equipped and encouraged! In the name of Jesus, amen!
~Dineen


The His-story of SUM

SUM10AnniversaryMy SUM family, I have felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to share how God has worked in very subtle ways to progress this ministry and the SUM family. This part of this story is probably one of my favorite parts because one, it shows how clearly God is in the smallest details and two, how subtly He can work to bring change.

When this blog first started, it was just that, a blog. Lynn and I wrote for the growing readership God was drawing here, and we referred to our spouses as unbelievers

As time progressed and readership grew, God began to change our perspective and thus our words. I remember clearly one day writing a post for the blog and sensing the Holy Spirit’s nudge to begin referring to this blog as a community. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, I found it so interesting and faithfully obeyed.

Then God lifted up our dear friend Rosheeda to lead our yearly fast in January, and it was during one of those times she dubbed us the SUMites. From this also evolved the term SUM Nation.

And yet, God wasn’t finished. Holy Spirit nudged again and I found myself using the term “pre-believers.” It was a statement of faith and trust in God to do the very things His Word says.

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. — 2 Peter 3:9

And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him… — 2 Peter 3:15

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” — Acts 16:31

And yet again, God wasn’t finished. He’s evolved this community to become a family—the SUM family. We have become a “church without walls,” my SUM family.

And now I find myself hesitating to use the word “pre-believer” since God declared our corporate word for 2016 to be SALVATION (read that post here). Dare I say that God has another shift coming to our nomenclature? I believe He does, and I am standing in prayer and faith for this shift because I’ve no doubt it will be a big one. How does believer sound to you? I’m right there with you…

My friends, this ministry started with the desire to share with others what God had taught us. God is the one who brought this beautiful progression of faith and unity to what it is today. 

And you, SUMites, have gone from being readers and spectators to full participants and members who pray and encourage each other, including Lynn and I, right in the comments! Many of you have even forged friendships outside of this ministry. Again, how amazing is all that?!?!

I find it astoundingly beautiful. Unexplainable except for the only possible explanation. 

God—Abba Father, Son Jesus and Holy Spirit—is love. 

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. — 1 John 4:12

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. — 1 John 4:16-17

26495595_sSUM family, that is what makes us so unique. Our desire is to trust in God’s love so that our love grows more perfect—love for our spouse, love for our children, love for each other, love for the world. We know it’s not easy, yet we make this choice every day.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.. — Galatians 5:6 ESV

So, my dear friends, never forget that when we aspire to love our spouses through and with the love of Jesus (agape) we are walking in faith. And may I say, SUMite Nation, we do it well.

I love you, SUM family, and pray the joy and peace of Jesus fills your hearts today and every day, to sustain and empower you for whatever our Abba Father is calling your heart to do. In the name of Jesus, amen!
~Dineen


The Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living

19197771_sOn Tuesday I wrote about God’s promises and asked you to choose one promise you are standing for right now, write it on an idea card and as a prophetic act, stand on it and speak this promise over yourself, your family, or whatever the situation this promise is for.

I want to back up just a bit and be sure that our community understands just how powerful it is the speak God’s Word back to Him, to speak what came from the supernatural into the natural realm (Heb. 11:3). If if you read the Psalms, you’ll notice King David was a master at this.

Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. — Psalm 27:13

In the early years of my Christian faith, I didn’t understand this. I always read my Bible, studied Scriptures and memorized verses here and there, but it wasn’t until much later that I was taught the power of speaking God’s Word out loud, speaking it back to Him. Scripture even tells us this.

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” —Isaiah 55:10-13 NLT

As I’ve learned to do this more and more, I’ve seen God’s Word produce the fruit He promised. I believe we give Abba great pleasure when we trust His Word and speak it back to Him. And there are many ways you can do this, my friends.

  1. Simply read His Word out loud. As powerful as playing Christian music in your home can be to change the atmosphere, reading God’s Word out loud in your home is even more so. I know this isn’t always possible with our mismatched situations, but take advantage of the times you can. I did this quite frequently over my children’s rooms as they were growing up and I speak God’s Word over my marriage bed and room. Bless and protect!
  2. Make it a prayer. Take the Words and speak them as prayer to God with your name or a loved one’s name in it. One piece of Scripture that I used quite a bit in recent years is from Psalm 91. Here’s an example:

    “Because Dineen loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges My name. She will call on me, and I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her. With long life I will satisfy her and show her my salvation.” — Psalm 91:14-16 NLT

    I even did this with the entire Psalm and still personalize it as prayer of protection. This spoke to my heart and gave me comfort. And the more I heard it, the more I believed it.
    So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. — Romans 10:17 NKJV
  3. Speak it back to the Source. When we read a verse and speak it back to God as a statement of truth, again our faith is strengthened and so is our trust. And as I shared on Tuesday about God’s faithfulness, He returns that trust with His faithfulness to His Word and to us.

During a difficult time I spoke back 1 Peter 5:6-7 and 10 to God almost every day.

Vs. 6-7: Lord, I humble myself under Your mighty power, and I know that at the right time, You will me up in honor. So I give you all my worries and cares, because I know You care about me.

Vs. 10: Lord, in Your kindness You called me to share in Your eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. So after I have suffered a little while, You will restore, support and strengthen me, and You will place me on a firm foundation.

Why did I do this? Look at verses eight and nine:

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. — 1 Peter 5:8-9

The enemy was hitting me hard at the time and this was one of many verses God led me too. Then one day while in church during worship, I heard God clearly say, “I am lifting you up today.”

God spoke back His Word to me as I had been speaking it to Him. And He did exactly what He said, my friends. I find myself wanting to do this very type of scriptural prayer more and more, because I love to hear our Great God speak it back. He’s so faithful!

SUM family, I know many of us are feeling down trodden. I am battling new discouragement over my health—I was finally feeling almost back to normal from my shoulder ordeal and now my body is having some kind of allergic reaction that is making life very unpleasant. In the last four months I wasn’t as diligent due to the pain I was in and the enemy took full advantage. Just as 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, but that doesn’t change God’s faithfulness. I am committed to praying these Scriptures and more over myself and my family. And over you, my friends. I often pray over your comments with Scriptures.

Why? Because…

“I trust You, Oh Lord, for You are my God (Psalm 31:14)! And I KNOW Your are working all this out for our good (Romans 8:28)!

Amen? Amen!

Love you!
Dineen


The Call to Rest

22300078_sMy friends, my search for deeper understanding of God's call to rest has brought me to some interesting places. I'm excited to share what I have discovered with you. 

As I pondered and prayed over this, Holy Spirit brought to mind first "trust" and "strength." Specifically these pieces of Scripture.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. — Proverbs 3:5-6

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." — Zechariah 4:6

I then began a search for the word "rest" in the New Testament and discovered there are at least five different Greek words used for this one word. The more obvious one would be koimēsis—to rest, recline, lay down, sleep as used in John 11:13.

Acts 7:49 and Hebrews 3:11 both use katapausis, which refers to a place of rest, the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells. Hebrews 4:8-10 uses the word, sabbatismos, which you can probably guess has to to with the Sabbath. This word holds the promise of “entering now into this rest means ceasing from the spiritual strivings that reflect uncertainty about one's final destiny; it means enjoyment of being established in the presence of God, to share in the everlasting joy that God entered when he rested on the seventh day (v. 10).” — ESV Study Bible Notes

But in Matthew 11:28-29, which is about taking Jesus’ yoke, this little word gets very interesting and takes on implications such as refreshment, freedom and salvation. This word, anapausis, comes from the word, anapauō, which means to rest, refresh, take rest, to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation and is also used in Luke 11:24 about unclean spirits seeking rest but finding none. They live in constant unrest.

Now, if I haven’t lost you (and if I have, just keep reading because this next part if the good stuff). Take a look at this nugget of Scripture.

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” — Mark 6:31

This verse comes at the point when the disciples have returned from traveling and ministering to tell Jesus about all they had done. He calls them to a time of rest to refresh and to possibly reflect (anapauō). What I find very interesting in His direction is that He calls them to a desolate place (Mark 6:30-44).

Now the meaning of this word also means isolated and solitary but even still in these definitions it holds the intent of loneliness and uninhabited. It was a desert, a place uninhabited by people. Yet as they go to this place, the multitude rushes ahead and fills this "desolate" location.

I encourage you to prayerful read this part of Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to fully bring its symbolism to your heart. I find it quite deep and exciting to reflect upon. This is what I felt Holy Spirit wanted me to see.

Even with a group of people in this place, the disciples still called it desolate. There was hunger there (not just physical), deep needs, unfulfilled desires and wants. Remember, these people lived under ether heavy religious yoke of the Pharisees. 

I can remember once years ago being with a group of people I knew yet feeling lonely in that moment and place. I believe the use of this word "desolate" was not just to describe a physical place but the spiritual state of the people thronging Jesus and the disciples. They are desperate for relief, restoration and healing in their lives.

But then something amazing happens. Jesus now tells them to do something about it. The disciples seem confused by Jesus' command, as they can only see what is there—the desolation and lack of provision.

Yet Jesus shows them that even a desolate place can be transformed to one of plenty and provision. Jesus called them to rest from their efforts and to rest in Him. They most likely expected a time to sit and physically rest. Not a lesson about true rest in Jesus, which can be so much more. That even in a time of rest, provision, growth and flourishing occurs. Healing, transformation and even miracles, such as five thousand being fed with two fish and five loaves. Just the symbolism in the bread alone, served by the “Bread of Life” is breathtaking.

And in the collection of the leftovers (vs. 43) we see that abundance. Jesus could have multiplied the fish and loaves to be just enough for the crowd, but He did more. The lesson of "rest" continued in those baskets to reveal the plenty of His provision, generosity, abundance and love. 

As the disciples served those people, I dare say they found an unexpected rest. The kind that comes from placing ourselves in the hands of our Creator and saying, "Yes, Lord, whatever you will.” That's the trust of Proverbs 3:5-6 and the strength of Zechariah 4:6 to do what we may think is beyond us—the impossible. 

So my friends, my understanding of resting in Jesus is confirmed in my heart by what I suspected and knew it to be, to trust in and rely upon Him. But now I see it as so much more. It's not just a set time apart with Him each day to grow and know Him more. It is an intentional choice to seek this constant state of mind and spirit. To trust in and rely upon Him to renew, restore, replenish, provide, guide and love us, even in our desolate places—spiritual, mental or physical—all of them.

For without Him, they are truly desolate. Jesus is the one who brings the baskets of life and love. We can bring nothing except a willing heart and spirit to receive what He has for us. Our striving can cease as we "rest" in the truth of what He has already done for us. 

And there, my friends, we find our true peace, resting in Him regardless of what conditions or situation surround us. To the naked eye the place where the five thousand ate remained a place of desolation, but the desolation in the hearts of many that day were transformed into places full of lush greenery (growth), cool waters (hope) and restoration (revival).

The Way had come into their midst to show them a better way to rest. He beckoned them then just as He beckons us today. And ours is to simply heed His call.

Love you, my friends. May we all respond to His call to go deeper with trust and a loud, “Yes, Lord!” That is my desire and longing and my heart for you.
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Copyright: kwest19 / 123RF Stock Photo


How Do You "Hear" God...For Your Spouse?

IStock_000005733150MediumMy dear friends, I hope the journaling exercise to "pay attention" to how you hear God has been a blessing and encouragement to you. Your comments have encouraged me greatly! I love how God speaks to us in many ways and specifically to our need and relationship with Him. Let’s review that verse again:

“So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” — Luke 8:18 NLT

Today I will share that story I promised you, one that will show another form of how God can speak to us. I've had the joy of training and working in two different healing rooms (Silicon Valley and now Manatee County). In fact, just this past weekend I attended more training and had the joy of facilitating as well. 

And God has used the last several years to teach me so much about healing prayers through teachers and mentors in these places and especially through the Holy Spirit, our greatest Teacher and Mentor of all. Over time, I've learned to recognize better when He's showing me something. I believe He communicates this way with me, because I am an artist and a very visual person.

If you study the book of Acts, you will see many descriptions of the disciples receiving images and even visions of God's leading. Just before his death, Stephen is given a glimpse of Jesus and heaven (Acts 7:55). Ananias heard the Lord instructing him in a vision to go to Saul because God had given Saul a vision of Ananias as part of Saul's conversion from a Pharisee to a believer who would be known as Paul (Acts 9:10-19). And God showed Peter through two visions that he was not to discriminate against Gentiles (Acts 10:3-33).

I love serving people in the healing rooms. We are there to pray with people for their needs, to encourage and edify them as Scripture directs, and we work in teams of three because we are stronger as a three-fold cord.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. — 1 Thess. 5:11 ESV

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

On this particular day, a woman came in for prayer about the purchase of a house. She and her husband had felt clear leading to buy a specific house and had made an offer, but the inspection now showed issues that they would not be able to afford. Confusion had set in.

As our team sought God for leading in how to pray for her, I saw an image of a house in my mind. At first I simply thought it was the natural reaction of the mind to connect an image to thoughts, but as I said, I have learned through experience and practice to pay attention when I get an image, especially in this type of setting. Yet I am always careful to defer to Holy Spirit's leading to share a word of knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8). 

Our sister in Christ then joined us in the prayer room and we began to speak truth into her heart to help her refocus on God and His leading for her. I felt Holy Spirit direct me to share the image so I did. 

I described the image of the house in the detail the Holy Spirit had given me. I'm always a bit nervous to do things like this, but again I'm learning to trust Him more than myself. It's not easy. It’s a risk and an act of faith to trust in what God is doing and not what I understand or perceive is happening.

Turned out the image was the house she and her husband wanted to purchase, and sharing with her what God had shown me, along with what the other team members felt Holy Spirit telling them, confirmed and affirmed this dear woman on the God-lead path she was obediently trying to follow. She just needed reassurance that even though complications had cropped up, God was still in the lead and would provide. She left encouraged and felt even closer to God as a result. As we all do when we see, hear, feel and sense God's presence with us—we are drawn closer to Him and hunger for even more.

And I was too, as was the prayer team. These encounters never cease to astound me and draw me closer to God. I pray they never do. The end of this story is wonderful. The couple moved forward in faith and made another offer. They purchased the house for a price that gave them room to make the repairs. God did exactly what He said He would.

Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. — Deut. 7:9 NLT

My friends, the amazing thing is I am learning to apply this way of praying to my family. One night Holy Spirit showed me that I didn't believe He would show me what to pray for my family like I do in the healing rooms. I'm learning to first seek and listen before I start praying what I think my husband or daughters need. 

Sometimes our best intentions and love can keep us from hearing what God wants us to know, because we are more focused on the issue at hand instead of the answer God is waiting to give us.

Now as I pray for my husband, I wait for a leading or image to show me where God's working in him. That way I know how to pray and work with God in this transformation process. God wants me to see my husband as already saved and pray and praise accordingly. Just as God instructed Peter in his vision to not make a judgement of a person's place in God's kingdom, I feel God telling us the same thing, my friends. This verse spoke that truth to my heart this week:

Peter told them, "You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. — Acts 10:28

Right now we need to be seeking God for His heart and how He sees our spouses, our loved ones, and pray and declare in agreement. We only have a partial picture with our own perspective. God has the full picture and He knows our spouses (1 Cor. 13:12).

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6

That day of Jesus Christ is now, my friends. The Greek translation for the word "day" means the space between dark and dawn. I believe this is the time between Jesus' coming and return and we are in that time right now! So don't be discouraged! He is faithful to complete what He has told us He will do. SALVATION!

Dear friends, we live in an incredible time of witnessing God move in our spouses' lives and hearts! Be assured He is working. Seek Him, ask Him to show you and trust Him to complete the good work He has started as you join Him accordingly in prayer and trust for your spouse's salvation. Amen? Amen!


GOING TO CHURCH ALONE

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comToday, I want to chat about another big issue that was mentioned back in December when we began this journey.

GOING TO CHURCH ALONE.

Gang, can I just say – Grrrrrrrrr

This is so hard. I know that for me this was an area that was of intense and great struggle. Even today, I truly desire my husband to join me for church on Sunday. I’ve had to wrangle through all of the different aspects of church non-attendance with my husband. I’m certain many of you have as well.

First, dealing with the whole couple thing. Grrrrrr, again! Our Western society is significantly “couple” focused. Learning to do anything alone takes a ton of courage and prayer. At least it did for me and I’m usually a courageous person. But after remaining a floundering believer at home, there comes a day when your need for community outweighs fear and you timidly cross the threshold of a church.

Once conquering that fear, you then must overcome disappointment as you see other couples together in church. True that. Anyone???

My friends, I want to assure you that if you are currently in this season of walking unequally yoked and attending church alone, it does become easier. 

Think about this. As you consider your life, most of us find that God has been amazingly faithful. Even in our periods of doubt or in my case, spiritual rebellion. God never left me nor did He forsake me. EVER. Even when I ran away from Him. As I slowly returned to my heavenly Father, I realized His faithfulness and it became the strength and my backbone. I made the decision to be faithful and return to church. And I’m so glad I did.

It was within my church community, women’s Bible study, that my healing began. I know I wrote about this our book, Winning Him Without Words. But it’s good to remember that God made us for community. At the core of all we are, we are designed for community, membership, authentic living, to be known and to know others in truth.

Knowing this, church became vital. It was my weekly re-charge. And when children became part of the family, they needed church too. That foundation of training in their early lives will live on in the next generation.

I’ve attended church alone for nearly 25 years. It’s been hard and it’s been glorious. Churches are challenging. You must remember they are filled with broken and needy people who are just like you. Attending church requires us to wear forgiveness like a cloak and to cry out for God to fill us with love, every, single day that we may love people like Him.

But at the end of the day, church is a hint of our future. One day THE CHURCH, will gather in the great assembly, with pure love in our hearts and will join as one people, one voice in worship. I promise we can’t imagine the depth of love we will feel and experience. I can’t wait.

So focus on Jesus and love even the broken and messy at church. And allow others who truly care about your life, to love on you. Be authentic and allow them to serve you.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned through sitting alone in church. One, I’m not the only one. My spiritual mismatched allowed me to see many others who don’t fit in. My heart is drawn to those who are alone, even those who feel alone but ARE sitting with a spouse. And my friends, churches are filled with these kinds of people who pretend their marriage is perfect. It’s simply not true. Every marriage, including your pastor's will struggle, even greatly struggle at some point. It’s just different from yours.

Allow yourself to set aside your loneliness and pain and truly look around you. It’s likely your training here at SUM and through the Word will allow you to speak love and truth into some other misfit who is sitting in the sanctuary. And that my friends, is exactly what delights the heart of God.

BTW: Ultimately we will discover we are all misfits and that is exactly what God intends!!!

Next up: Spiritual leadership

Hugs, Lynn


The Promise of His Covenant

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SUMites, I pray this week of fasting has brought you encouragement and strength this week. I wish I could have fasted more, but my pain medication only allowed me to fast a couple mornings. I am encouraged however that even in the midst of this recovery, which has made focusing on God very challenging, I was still able to hear His heart for our community. That right there knocked another lie out of my spiritual life. For that I am grateful. He has shown me that even in such places of challenge when I don't feel close to Him, He is still speaking and He will make sure I hear Him. 

Our own Cindy C. shared this profound truth perfectly: "Trust God's hold on you MORE than your hold on God." (Thank you, Cindy!)

Now, the rest of Abba's message for us is in Jeremiah 33, where I started on Tuesday. I am sharing here only the key verses so read the entire chapter if you can and seek God to bring this promise into your heart and home.

Then this city (our homes) will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth! The people of the world will see all the good I do for my people, and they will tremble with awe at the peace and prosperity I provide for them. — Jeremiah 33:9

The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord. They will sing, ‘Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, for the Lord is good. His faithful love endures forever!’ For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the Lord. — Jeremiah 33:11

And this will be its name: ‘The Lord Is Our Righteousness.’ (Yahweh Tsidqenu) —Jeremiah 33:16 (Prophetic reference to 2 Cor. 5:21: We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus)

“This is what the Lord says: If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, only then will my covenant with my servant David be broken. Only then will he no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. The same is true for my covenant with the Levitical priests who minister before me." — Jeremiah 33:20-21 (The covenant with David was the prophetic word and promise of Jesus coming.)

My friends, as I read this part, Holy Spirit whispered John 3:16 to my heart. We know this verse well...

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. — John 3:16-17

And this is God's reassurance that He will do what He has said. My friends, I hear God speaking this to us right now, that He is faithful and nothing will stop or hinder the promise He has given us. 

But this is what the Lord says: I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws that govern night and day, earth and sky. I will never abandon the descendants of Jacob or David, my servant, or change the plan that David’s descendants will rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, I will restore them to their land and have mercy on them.” — Jeremiah 33:25-26 

SUMites, this is a powerful promise. Jesus is the final covenant. For two weeks now 2 Peter 3:9 has shown up over and over again. Our God has not been slow to answer our prayers for our pre-believers. He's just been setting things up for the right time so the revelation of His covenant (Jesus) to our pre-believers would be so full that they would turn to Him with their entire hearts (wholehearted!), just as He said in Jeremiah 24:7.

I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly. — Jeremiah 24:7

I believe with my whole heart that time is now, SUMites. It's our harvest time! Hallelujah and Praise Jesus! Amen!
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Praying for Figs

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My friends, I’ve been praying for our community and seeking God’s heart for us these last two weeks. Reading your comments and hearing your heart has so encouraged me. I love seeing God work in your lives!

SUM family, I believe God has given me a powerful word for our community. When I first heard Holy Spirit speak this to me, I was quite stunned and then realized this was not only a word for me but a corporate word as well for our SUM community. I've been praying into this for understanding and leading for us. 

That word is SALVATION.

As I prayed for understanding and wisdom as to what this word means for us, Holy Spirit kept taking me to Jeremiah, a very challenging book to read in the Bible. But thankfully His intentions became clear as I came to chapter 24:

After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord.

One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten.

And the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”

Then the word of the Lord came to me:

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans.

I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up.

I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. — Jeremiah 24:1-7

The Holy Spirit impressed upon me that our pre-believers are like those good figs and then He showed me how we are to pray for them in connection to our word, salvation. My friends, I am so excited to see what God does in 2016 in our community. I also believe that this year's most important mission for us each is to "plump" our pre-believers up with our love, the love of Jesus.

My friends, pray with me today as we fast and let's commit to praying the following prayers throughout this next year. Let's determine to walk in faith that God's will and purpose for our pre-believers will be done.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, set Your eyes on our pre-believers for good. Bring them to the land of faith. Build them up and plant them with deep roots. Give them a heart to know You are the Lord. Fill us with Your love in great abundance so that we can pour that love into our pre-believers so they will be plump figs for Your harvest.

Declaration: Lord, we declare that __________ will be Your people and You will be his God, for they shall return and turn to You with their whole heart. In the Mighty name of Jesus, amen!

And there is more. On Thursday I will share more of what God's heart is for us in 2016 and how He used my pastor to confirm it. Absolutely astonishing! 

I love you, SUMites. I know we walk a difficult path but our God has not abandoned us. Far from it. He has placed us where we are for specific purposes. I will share more on Thursday. 
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Seek and Listen

Jer33-3SUMites, as we prepare for our fast next week, I would like you to begin asking God for specific words and/or impressions from Him for yourself and for your family. I do this each year and God either gives me specific words or impression for me and each of my family members just about every year. I've already begun doing this and will be sharing what God is speaking to my heart about you and His heart for our SUM community for 2016. I am so excited to tell you more next week.

If this is a struggle for you, don’t stress over it. Just sit in a quiet place, pray Jeremiah 33:3 and if you “hear” a word, see a word in your mind, get an impression or feeling, write it down. I find at times what I first receive may seem unclear or confusing but as I continue to press in and pray, Holy Spirit unfolds its meaning. 

I love you, my SUM family. It is my honor and privilege to be in prayer for you too as you seek God's heart.
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My Unexpected Christmas

933344_i_love_youHappy (almost) New Year, my dear friends! I feel like I've been on a long trip and haven't seen my family in a long time. And now I've come back home. I've missed you! My shoulder surgery went well, and I've started physical therapy. This whole process has been much more difficult and painful than I anticipated, which has made working at my desk and typing next to impossible. But day by day I'm healing and am able to do more. Please be patient with me as I ease back into writing here and please know how much your prayers and words have helped encourage and sustain me.

What I want to share with you today is about what God did in all this process. The day before my surgery I sat in my quiet time, sad and a bit fearful. Not about my surgery but about Christmas. I was struggling with being apart from my daughters for the first time at Christmas and trying to figure out how to handle it all without diminishing my husband's Christmas by making him think I couldn't enjoy the holiday with just him. I hope that makes sense. 

As I sat there praying, God whispered to my heart, "Give Me Christmas, Dineen."

I realized in that moment that I was still trying to "salvage" Christmas, to cling to what I knew and make it work in spite of the distance between us and our girls, my surgery and recovery, and my daughter's heart issues. I didn't know what God had in mind or what Christmas would look like in His hands, but I said yes. "Take it, Lord. It's all Yours."

After the surgery I was surprised by how little I could do and thankful we'd managed to get our shopping done before hand. I could do little more than sit on the couch with my right shoulder strapped to my Iceman (a icing system). I was so grateful to have my husband's selfless attention to take care of me as well as my mother and mother-in-law who helped as well. Not exactly easy to do for this girl who's so used to taking care of everyone else and herself.

And God worked in and through it all. Smoothed my mama-worries over my girls having a good Christmas—they worked our their own plans to be together and did the same traditions we always did together. We were able to FaceTime (love technology!) on Christmas Eve and open our gifts together.

I was able to be present at the infamous cake baking day the women in my husband's family do each year, even though they didn't let me do much (probably a good thing!). And Christmas with my husband's family was warm and fun. 

It was not at all the Christmas I expected—one I attempted to hold together myself and lived in fear of it falling apart. Instead it was full of love, care and a deeper closeness to my husband that never expected would happen in such circumstances.

My friends, I am the first to admit I like the safe route. I like to know the outcome ahead of time, because it gives me a sense of security. I have a feeling many of you can relate to that as well. 

But God doesn't work that way, does He? He wants to be our security and place of safety so that we rely and trust in Him instead of ourselves, our own abilities and our circumstances. I do find it challenging to live in that place with Him, but I am learning—though quite painfully at times (hee hee)—to let go and trust God.

Here's a verse that I've been pondering this Christmas season and holding close to my heart and limited abilities at the moment.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. — 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)

SUMites, that last part of the verse brings me great reassurance that even when we think we fall short or we haven't quite got things right, our attempts are not in vain. Every single prayer, act of service, word of encouragement, etc. is significant. We may not see the results but they are there none-the-less. God knows. God sees. That's what counts. He knows our hearts no matter what the outcome—or lack of one—may appear to be. He has the full picture and puts the pieces together as only He can.

God called me to let go of what I knew so He could so something new in me. My greatest lesson this Christmas was that it didn't have to be perfect or according to my expectations to be a great Christmas. How about you? What did God show you during this most precious time of the year? I love you, my SUM family. I'm so glad to be back here and look forward to your comments.
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The Promise of Christmas

IMG_4705One of my favorite traditions of Christmas is the advent wreath. I first observed this at our international church while living in Switzerland and fell in love with the candles and their meaning. Every year I’ve used or remade our wreath, searching for just the right candles each year.

But this year wound up a little different than I expected (there’s that word again). I’d actually prayed a few times over the years for a really nice wreath and candle holder. This year I wanted to find something different. These were simple desires I thought about and left unspoken.

And this is the year that Abba surprised me with a new one. The most interesting part of this story is that I wasn’t the one to find it. My husband did. How’s that for some Christmas humor and delight?

We saw this candle holder in a store and both loved it. I saw it only in the light of a decorative piece for our home. To my surprise, my husband pointed out how well it would work for an advent wreath too! Even the store clerk seemed surprised that my husband mad the suggestion.

My friends, I cherish this new piece in our home not just for it’s beauty and design, but for it’s meaning. The more I study it, the more meanings the Holy Spirit shows me. Now I will look at this candle holder—year round—and see the reminder of God’s love for me in a small detail and how He used my husband to bring it to my attention.

Sometimes our desires and hopes are met in the most surprising ways. I’d expected, looked in one direction. God showed me another one—one I never would have expected or thought of.

I find this faith walk lately to be a delicate balance of holding hope tightly and holding expectations very loosely. I don’t think it’s wrong to have expectations—the Bible even tells us to  wait expectantly on the Lord. The challenge is to have ones wrapped in hope and to not hold them so tightly that we miss other possibilities. God is the God of possibilities—He makes the impossible possible.

As I reread the Gospels telling of Jesus’ birth, the Holy Spirit has stopped me at the feet of Luke 1:45.

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 

This verse reminded me of Jesus’ words to Thomas.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” — John 20:29 (NIV)

As believers we are asked to believe what we haven’t yet seen. To take the step of faith without proof, yet believe it will come. To persevere even when everything around us tells a different story.

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. — Hebrews 10:36 (NLT)

This verse has taken a place in my recent journal entries and I find myself returning to it frequently. And today I noticed it precedes one of the most powerful parts of Scripture in the Bible.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. — Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

Before the baby Jesus and our Messiah was ever birthed in the natural realm, He was prophesied and birthed in the spiritual. The Old Testament is the promise, the New Testament is the fulfillment.

Jesus is our greatest example of holding hope, persevering for its revelation (pregnancy), and waiting for its arrival (birth). Christmas is a yearly reminder of His revelations and the revelations to come. And we hold this hope not only for ourselves but for our pre-believers and our families, dear friends.

SUMites, we are blessed because believe the Lord will fulfill His promises to us. We persevere, and though at times we may falter, we continue hold hope in our hearts. 

And Jesus is that eternal hope. Merry Christmas!
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Moments of Delight and Moments of Despair

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The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

My friends, it’s great to be back with you! I had an amazing week in New York City with my mother and dear friend Sally, who is also my son-in-love’s mother. Definitely a family trip filled with special surprises and blessings that I know came from God’s heart to delight us. And I am moved and impressed by the heart of this city and and what it has endured. There is a sense of strength and unity there.

I was profoundly moved by the 9/11 Memorial and took significant notice that majority of those around us on that particular day were from other parts of the world. They traveled to our country, to New York City, to specially see this memorial and museum. The most emotional part for us was to listen to our tour guide describe this day from her first hand experience. At the time she worked in one of the buildings behind ground zero. 

Then we were dazzled by the lights of the city and the Christmas windows at Macy’s, Tiffany’s, Saks and many others. The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center took my breath away as it stood tall and sparkled. I felt like a kid at again at the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show featuring the Rockettes and Santa Claus.
What surprised us there was the how the show concluded with the true Christmas story, the birth of Jesus, with as much beauty and detail as the rest of the show. And the audience response was outstanding.

I’m so grateful for this experience, dear friends. And yet I am about to write the most difficult part of this post. After coming home from all this excitement, I’m now facing the reality of spending this Christmas without my daughters. I truly am struggling with this, to be completely honest. I’m realizing how much I’ve loved sharing the true meaning of this holiday with my daughters and how much that filled that lonely place in my heart that we’ve been talking about here.

Several of you talked about expectations and letting them go. I believe that is part of the journey I’m on right now is to readjust my expectations of doing Christmas without my daughters with us. Just about every ornament on our tree has a story and a sentiment behind it to our family. So you can imagine how decorating the Christmas three last night without them was a teary-eyed event.

My morning walk was more like a walk and cry. LOL! I miss my girls so much. I shared that with God, pouring out my heart to Him. I know He brought us to Sarasota and has plans for us here, some of which I am watching unfold, but I was honest with Him. What I didn’t expect was how He would share His heart with me.

“Lord, this is hard. I miss my girls so much.”

As I let the words flow honestly, this is what I felt He said to me.

“Trust Me, I know that pain, that ache. For every one of my children who don’t know Me yet and aren’t walking with Me, I ache. I hurt. I long for them to come to me. Dineen, I feel your pain and even more so.”

Wow! Talk about putting things into perspective! In that moment I felt His comfort as well as a renewed fire to share His love with everyone I can in this hurting world. It didn’t diminish the ache in my heart for my girls to be with me for Christmas, dear friends, but it did comfort me to know my Papa God understands my heart and shared His with me. 

So, including the negative ones that have a way of becoming self-fulfilling, I’m letting go of all expectations for this Christmas. Except for one.

I am making room in my aching heart with the expectation for God to fill it with His presence, His comfort, His peace, and even something special. I don’t know what—I want to just let that unfold  in an unexpected delight, much the way several moments did in New York.

My friends, please know that I am praying for you and this community and I would like to thank you for your prayers for me and my family too. My youngest daughter Leslie was just diagnosed with pericarditis (inflammation around her heart) and the doctors are trying to figure it out why. I will have surgery next week on my shoulder and hope (and maybe a little expecting too) to be back to fully capacity quickly. 

I love you, my friends. I’m so thankful for you, for this community. Lynn and I marvel at our love and unity here and praise God for it. We are so thankful and grateful to be a part of your lives, especially at Christmas!

I leave you with a few more images... Hugs! ~Dineen

 

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Last piece removed from ground zero.


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One of Macy's Charlie Brown Christmas windows.


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The Rockets!


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Me standing on the Bow Bridge. Finally saw this beautiful and romantic bridge in person!


And finally...

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The Miller Christmas tree in Florida! (No palm trees were harmed in the decoration process.)

 


How Many Ways Does God Speak?

6a012875bda851970c01bb08880261970d-250wiMy friends, I loved reading your comments on Tuesday. What a wealth of wisdom, honesty and encouragement. We are part of such an amazing community. I have no doubts that our church without walls makes our Papa God very proud.

Much of what I’m sharing with you is simply from the journey God has had me on to walking in my healing and prophetic calling. It is challenging because hearing God is crucial! I want to be like Jesus and do only what the Father does.

Sometimes we need to wait for the Holy Spirit to lead, but other times we need to just step forward in faith because of what we already know to be true about God.

For example, I know from God’s Word that Jesus healed and called use to do even greater works than He did. God has called me to work in the healing rooms, so I pray with a team for people who come in seeking God for healing either physically, spiritually, and/or emotionally. 

This experience and seeing how God works has grown my faith and belief. Now God even moves me to pray for people randomly as I’m out and about. First, it is my reassurance of what I do not see, Jesus’ healing, that motivates me to pray for others, but it’s a great step of faith for me to do this outside of the healing rooms, because I’m the one initiating the conversation. 

How do I know who and when? I listen and take note of significant elements—something I’ve learned to do by trial and yes, error at times. LOL! For example, on Monday I went to pick up my poochies from the groomer. In the parking lot I saw a man walking to his truck, and I could see walking was painful for him. I prayed silently for his healing. 

Then I “heard” a very faint voice say, “Pray for him.” To be honest, I wasn’t sure if that was God or my own desire to see this man healed. But you know what, even if I didn’t know for sure, I would still have the reassurance of Scripture that Jesus heals and He has called us to pray for healing for others. See what I’m saying? Some things we’ve already been told to do.

As this was processing in my mind, this man started his car and Christian music blasted out. I knew then this was a divine appointment. I turned around and started a conversation with this gentleman, starting with the music—we both enjoy this radio station, we are fellow believers. So then I simply asked about his leg. He explained the details (knee cartilage was gone—I say was because I am believing in his complete healing) and that he had gone to healing rooms for prayer. I simply asked if I could pray over his knee, which he was very happy for me to do.

I’m believing for Ray’s healing (please join me in that prayer, my friends), but what I want to share is what this divine appointment reveals.

  1. The Holy Spirit took my inclination to pray for this man’s healing to myself and turned it into a nudge to action. (Thoughts)
  2. God affirmed this with the music, an outside stimulus. (Hearing)
  3. The outcome of this encounter is positive no matter the result, which is in God’s hands. But both this gentleman and I were both encouraged—he for his healing and me in my faith. And amazingly, my friends, I needed a boost that day. So, again, I am in awe of the multi-purposed plans of God. And don’t you find it interesting that this happened on Monday, the day I needed to write my posts for the week and had prayed for Holy Spirit’s help to write about the ways we hear God?

There are many ways we can hear God. My example showed how the Holy Spirit spoke in my thoughts and through music. The Holy Spirit often will give me vivid picture of an event or just words that make no sense to me but turn out to be significant to the person I’m praying for. I am always astonished and encouraged when He does this and I pray that wonder never stops!

I’d like to finish this post with a short video by Pastor Kris Vallotton. This 11 minute clip completely opened up my understanding of how to hear God. It showed me that I’d put emphasis on only one way to hear God. Not only did it help me identify other ways I was hearing but also to understand they were as important as that still small voice. I pray it inspires, encourages and blows the doors wide open to greater faith in hearing God. It did for me so now I pray for that breakthrough and blessing for you too, my friends. 

Love you!
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Was That God I Really Heard?

6a012875bda851970c01bb08880261970d-250wiWelcome to November, SUMites! Can you believe we are already approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas? I’m already seeing ads and decorations everywhere. These are clear “signs” of what’s coming soon.

You know, these are physical signs of the approaching holiday season. We see the evidence with our eyes. With my nose I smell the evidence every time I go to the grocery story and inhale the fragrant cinnamon brooms and pinecones for sale. And soon I’ll hear it with my ears as Christmas tunes flood the stores and radio stations.

The thing is, we would know these holidays are coming even without these evidences, because we know what time of year it is. We know these are established seasons that we witness every year. We recognize and know what to expect. We didn’t know this from birth but from experience. So in a way, you could say that our expectation in January that Thanksgiving and Christmas will come again is kind of an act of faith. We believe it, because of our experience.

Hearing God can operate in the same way at times but most of the time, it’s an act of faith first—first to believe that God speaks to us and to believe He answers.

Dawn B. shared a comment on my last post, Can We Hear God?

“My problem isn't hearing Him, it's questioning if I heard correctly.”

As our faith grows (remember, Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith so we are continually growing), we learn to trust that we are hearing the Holy Spirit and hearing Him correctly. That’s when repetition and experience confirm we are hearing correctly, and we grow more confident in what we are hearing from God and become quicker and bolder in obedience. 

For example, God used Dawn’s comment to make it clear to me this would be the next topic in this series (which I hadn’t planned to be series but God clearly did). I knew right away in my spirit that’s what God wanted. Hearing God is an act of faith, and trusting what we have heard is an act of faith as well.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. — Hebrews 11:1

Jim Edwards left a wonderful reply to Dawn’s comment that I want to share with you as well.

“I love what Bill Johnson teaches, that will help you. It's a good father's responsibility to make sure he speaks in a way that their child hears. Now Bill should know 'cause his son Eric has severe hearing loss, so whether that means speaking louder, or facing them so they can lip-read, or whatever, then this is what he does. Now our Heavenly Papa has to be a so-much-better Dad. If you're listening—He’ll make sure you hear correctly.”

Again it is an act of faith, of belief, that our Father God will makes sure we hear Him correctly. We probably won’t get it perfectly down in the beginning, if ever, my friends. We are human and things like unforgiveness, resentment, pride and fear can get in the way. But the more we take the risk, as Lynn mentioned, and step out in faith, the better we get at it. But first we must choose to believe that God will lead us.

The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. — Psalm 37:23

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. — Prov. 3:5-6

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. — 2 Cor. 2:14

The Bible is full of verses that speak of God’s heart to lead and guide us, so I find what Jim shared to be very comforting and affirming. Our God loves us and wants us to hear Him, so it makes sense that He would make sure we hear Him correctly. And He will catch us if we stumble. 

Before Jesus came, the priests would use the Urim and Thummim to seek God and they trusted the result because they believed God controlled the outcome of this “toss of the dice” method (scholars are not entirely sure what these elements looked like). But we carry the very Spirit of God in us! Think about that. Doesn’t it makes sense that He will work in us to be sure we hear correctly? I head Pastor Eric Johnson once say, “God trusts us more than we trust ourselves.”

SUMites, you helped me write this post today. Is that cool or what? On Thursday, we’ll talk about the ways we hear God, another great point brought out in the comments on my last post, so let’s keep this ball rolling. How do you usually hear God and what affirms for you that you’ve heard Him correctly?

Can’t wait to read your comments! And be sure to check back tomorrow for another surprise we have for you… Love you!
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Can We Hear God?

IStock_000014889792XSmallMy friends, I love our Lord so much. I sat in my quiet time yesterday morning and asked the Holy Spirit what our SUM family needed right now. What did He want me to write about next? I followed His leading and listened and He showed me that after the Abundant Life series, He wants you to know that you can and do hear God. 

Last weekend a dear friend of mine said she didn’t know what to do about her future and wasn’t hearing God. Said she couldn’t hear Him. And I so understood the cry of her heart, because I have been there. I believed that God was either silent, or I couldn’t hear Him.

SUM family, I think we all have struggled in this place at some point and some of us still do. Well today I have some biblical truths for you that will blow those lies of the enemy out of your heart and mind. You will start to hear God more and be amazed when you do.

I know this because I’m sharing my story—my testimony with you. These are the truths the Holy Spirit showed me, which increased my ability to hear Him. 

First, we need to believe He hears us. The Bible is full of verses that state this truth.

But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. — Psalm 18:6

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. — Psalm 34:4

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish. He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me! — Jonah 2:1-2

These are Old Testament references, before Jesus died for us and gave us His Holy Spirit. So, doesn’t it stand to reason that if the Spirit of God dwells in us, we will hear Him?

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one. — John 10:27

SUMites, this is the foundation of what the Holy Spirit showed me. The enemy wants us to think we can’t hear God, or that God won’t answer us. But God’s Word, which is irrefutable truth, tells us He hears us and we will hear Him. Just believing this one truth alone and praying with the expectation to hear Him has increased my ability to hear Him in powerful ways.

Belief is so crucial, my friends. Believe God’s Word, truly believe it. Don’t just speak it but truly seek to believe it. The Holy Spirit will transform our minds (Romans 12:2) with the Word of God and the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6).

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

SUMites, as I continue working in the healing rooms here, the Holy Spirit shows me over and over again that lies are at the sources of so much of our pain and struggles. They drive our mind and motivations in the wrong direction and keep us from all that God has for us.

So if you have believed the lie that God doesn’t heart you, that you can’t hear Him, that He doesn’t answer you, pray this prayer with me today:

Lord Jesus, I believe that you came and died for me, therefore Your Holy Spirit dwells in me. Therefore, You are my Good Shepherd, I am your sheep and I hear Your voice. I believe that You hear every prayer and I believe that You have answers for me. In the name of Jesus, amen!

Now I want to pray this for you, SUMites:

Lord Jesus, in Your name I bind the lies that have told us we can’t hear you, and I anoint the ears of every person reading this to hear You clearly, in every way You desire to speak to them. I bless them with the ability to recognize your voice above all others. In the True and powerful name of Jesus, amen!

I love you, SUMites! Let me know if you've prayed with me today so I can stand in agreement with you. Walk in confidence that Your God hears you and He WILL answer you.
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What Does Thankfulness Do?

3KeysSUM family, we talked last week about the first two keys, forgiveness and love. On the subject of love I just want to make one more point that the Holy Spirit reminded about me over the weekend. 

We reference 2 Timothy 1:7 frequently when we talk about fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

We’ve been given love in our spirit. I just want to point that out in case you’re feeling like you can’t love your pre-believer or someone else in your life well enough. The truth is, on you’re own steam, you can’t, but as a child of God, you can. God’s Word says you have a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. And I love how these three are bundled up.

Love without God’s power runs out. Power without God’s love turns manipulative and self-seeking. And self-discipline without love and power is ineffective. All three are necessary and work best together. I could write even more on this subject alone, but let’s move on to our third key, thankfulness.

The Holy Spirit has been showing me how important thankfulness is to our walk of faith and the abundant life. Let me start with a story first. Several months ago, I was struggling a bit in my faith walk and couldn’t figure out why. I sat one morning in prayer and asked the Holy Spirit for help.

He said, “You’re not being thankful.”

At His words I realized I’d done more grumbling than thanking lately. Not grumbling in the sense of complaining, though I’m sure I did some of that too, but more in the sense of continuing to ask over and over again without faith.

The Bible has a lot to say about thankfulness. Psalm 50:15 calls it a “sacrifice of thanksgiving,” which it is when we’re called to be thankful in difficult situations and times.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. — 1 Thess 5:18

And let me point out that this verse doesn’t say to be thankful for the circumstances but to be thankful in them. I do not believe we are called to be thankful for an illness, a catastrophe, poverty—things that are clearly not from the hand of a loving God. But we can be thankful in them that God’s presence is working to help us in whatever situation we are in to bring redemption and goodness from it. 

When in doubt, reread Romans 8:28. Let your world and perspective revolve around this verse and watch how dramatically your life and how you live your life will change!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. — Rom 8:28

So back to my story. Yes, my friends, I repented of my unthankfulness and began intentionally being thankful. And I began to take notice of the effect thankfulness has on me—spiritually, mentally and even physically. These are my observations:

Being thankful:

  • Brings peace in every situation (Col 3:15)
  • Encourages and releases healing—spiritually, physically and mentally (Col 1:11-13)
  • Gives a sense of well-being (Col 2:6)
  • Brings our heart into alignment with God’s (Eph 5:20)
  • Releases the Holy Spirit to work (1 Thess 5:19)
  • Builds our faith and trust in God because as we are asking in prayer, we are then thanking him for the answer (Phil 4:6-7)

My friends, I want you to try your own experiment with thankfulness. Try one of two things: 

  • Start a thankful journal. Writing down five things every day that you are thankful for. Try not to repeat.
  • Sit in a quiet place and think about one thing that you are struggling with. Now, shift your mind to God and start thanking Him for one positive aspect of that situation. 

Perhaps your marriage—thank God for one aspect of your husband that you truly love. God designed your pre-believer just like He did you. Find the gold and appreciate it. Talk to God about this. Do this everyday and then at the end of the week, ask yourself how you’re feeling and thinking about your marriage now.

A situation at work—focus on the rest of your job that you are thankful for. Do this every day before you leave. Then email me and tell me about the day one of your co-workers commented on how you’ve changed and how positive you seem to be.   

Something inside yourself—acknowledge whatever it is you don’t like about yourself, but give yourself grace here, my friends. Sometimes the very thing we see as our weakest area is the very thing God is turning into your greatest strength. Thank Him for giving you the power and desire to do what pleases Him, because He is! His Word says so. 

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. — Phil 2:13

Even Jesus prayed with thanksgiving (Luke 10:21). Paul thanked God and drew courage from it (Acts 28:16). Now look at a these Scriptures from Colossians:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. — Col 3:13-15

All three keys are right there! They build upon and are integral to each other. And when we are intentional to use all three in our faith walk, we are strengthened in our faith, my friends, because we living our lives rooted in the truths of Jesus Christ.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. — Col 2:6-7

There are so many verses in the Bible about thankfulness. Do you have a favorite one to share? Do you have story of how being thankful has made a difference in your faith and life? Let’s meet in the comments and keep talking! 

SUM family, I am so thankful for you, every day. I am thankful God has put me in this place for such a time as this to be a part of your lives. And thank you for being a part of mine. I love you!
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The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comHello SUMites,

My friends, fall is in the air and in some places it’s already winter! Wacky weather! But I LOVE this time of year and I am especially fond of my pumpkin flavored coffee. Yum and eee!

Weather is a perfect metaphor of our lives. Our circumstances will and often change drastically, unexpectedly and even violently.

Loss of a job.
Divorce.
Wayward children.
Financial crisis.
Health.
Weather disasters too.

How do we walk through these life events that are often unchangeable? How do we keep ourselves from crippling fear? How do we handle life’s great challenges as believers?

SUMite Nation, we put on the SHOES!

Kingdom Shoes. We shod our feet with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace! (Ephesians 6:15)

What does this mean? How do we do this and how does this part of our armor serve in spiritual warfare?

The shoes are our steadiness for standing against the schemes of the devil. The ability to stand in what most people would consider fearful circumstances comes down to our maturity. And our maturity comes from time with God, knowing His Word and TRUSTING in Him!

And out of trust in the Lord, our peace is born. Shalom – which is completeness, wholeness and inner resting of the soul that does not fluctuate because of outside circumstances.

Let me tell you how I experienced this first hand.

Some of you may remember that my husband lost his job in January of 2009. Along with millions of others, he began to hit the employment boards, complete applications and look for work. Of course, this was a shock to us at first but I can tell you that I walked in a supernatural peace.

I prayed with conviction and earnestness, asking the Lord to give my husband a job. I considered returning to Corporate America to support our family. During this early prayer season, the Lord arranged a phone call. I received a call from a former business collogue and was offered a job over the phone. Now you would think that I would have jumped at this opportunity – out of fear. But through my prayer time, the Lord said to me, “Lynn, I can get you a job anytime. Thus the offer. I just wanted to show you that I could. Do not return to work. Let me walk this out with Mike.”

SO I TRUSTED! Even when it didn’t make sense. AND I had peace. I knew, that I knew, that I knew, in my knower that God truly had our financial situation in His hands.

I prayed.

Mike thought it would be easy to get another job as he is highly qualified, yet after six months – nothing.

I prayed.
I trusted.

Mike worried. He was completely rocked because he remained unemployed going into month nine.

I will admit in late October I was a little nervous but I remained prayerful.

Finally, almost a year later, my husband was offered a new job.

Through this experience I found I was living out this scripture: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7

What I can’t explain is that our year of unemployment didn’t impact our financial condition. Somehow we paid off the credit card we were using within the year. Never had to touch our 401K. And I didn’t return to work.

Honestly, I cannot explain how this happened. I have vague recollections of checks arriving and there always seemed to be provision for what we needed. I learned to budget extremely well and shop frugally, which I still do today. My daughter learned to buy her own school clothes. We became an aware family of our waste, the needs of others, and thankfulness became profoundly significant in my life.

This was the year I learned to walk in trust and peace through thankfulness. And SUMites, when you wear the shoes of the readiness of the Gospel (peace & trust in Jesus), you are no longer on the defensive but on the offensive in the spirit realm.

Ephesians 6 15The shoes of peace are our stability that even Satan can’t undo!

Peace can’t be separate from trust in God. I believed God for my circumstance and I trusted Him, every day and at times every hour. I chose to believe God rather than my changing circumstances.

Meditate of the Word. KNOW God’s heart for you. Really come to believe that our Papa, God is good. All the time, good and has good gifts for us, His children. And remember it’s the devil that comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came to give us the abundant life (John 10:10).

Don’t step out from under His umbrella. Trust and peace are His gifts in the midst of any scary season of life.

Quiet Time Study: (Take these questions to the Lord in your quiet time. Then listen.)

  • What are the situations that are sealing your peace?
  • Ask the Lord for His supernatural peace.
  • Pray: I say to these troubled waters of _________________. Peace be still. 

Jesus still can part the sea, calm the wind and waves and set us on a firm foundation. Let’s wear the shoes of heaven my friends because it’s the Lord’s will that we live in peace that surpasses all understanding. 

  • Community Questions (answer in the comments):
  • Can you share a moment where you experienced the supernatural peace of Christ in crazy circumstances? I know your story will encourage someone else who is struggling right now.

I love you SUMites. We are nearing the end of our wardrobe restyle. A few more items remain and then we will be released to be Holy Spirit-filled-terrorists that decimate the darkness. Hallelujah! Amen!

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com