Hi friends. For today's post here’s a little video that I just did live on our Facebook page. Enjoy!
Hi friends. For today's post here’s a little video that I just did live on our Facebook page. Enjoy!
Lynn Donovan here. Gang, it’s time to catch up with you. I’m going to share a few random thoughts. So grab your coffee, strap in, get ready. LET’S GO!
First, I believe that as followers of Jesus, we are amid one of the most challenging seasons of our faith life. This feels especially true when compared to a number of generations that preceded us. For me personally, since January, I’ve faced difficulty and pain that almost toppled me. Even in my marriage. Even though Mike is a believer.
So, if you have walked through or are currently in the Valley of the shadow of death, TAKE HEART.
Then you will:
I’m convinced that we are headed for some interesting times and seasons ahead. The assignment against the Church is intense. Right now, Satan and his minions are working out plans to totally destroy or at least scramble the church. So, when it happens you will know that the effort was intentional. But God will reveal many truths in this season as well. And the Church of Jesus Christ will never be destroyed.
I hear the verse: What can be shaken will be shaken.
Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. – HEBREWS 12:27
We, The Remnant, and I mean all of us who are/were unequally yoked. We have been prepared. It wasn’t a wasted life to live with an unbeliever. We perceive things the majority of the church can’t begin to understand. We appreciate what it’s like to balance and live in the in-between.
And WE KNOW THE TRUTH. We were forced to figure out our beliefs because we lived with persecution within our own homes. So, we will be the first to sniff out deception. To uncover the lies and to unite, even if underground, to bring hope and truth to others who are desperate for a word from God.
One thing I know for certain. Choose every day to arise and…
Finally, for all of you who feel broken. I know exactly how you feel. I can promise you this. When everything is broken and the only thing you have is Jesus. When He is all we have left. He is more than enough. And He is all the matters.
I love you dearly. Keep Marching because your faith is so very important in this season. Hugs, Lynn
Well, unbelievably, there’s more! No sooner had I uploaded Monday's post about a second salvation than I got a message from another SUM friend (a local friend): Unbelievably, her husband had just responded to an altar call this past Sunday at church.
Three in one week.
Are you pulling the same stunned face as me, I wonder?
All I could do then is play the song ‘God is on the Move’ on repeat in my living room and do some serious (uncool, Mum-looking) dancing in celebration. My teenage son, Miles, sauntered down the stairs midway through. He looked at me, smirked, shook his head, and walked on into the kitchen to get himself some toast.
Anyway, somewhere in amongst this extreme excitement, God gave me a scripture. He said, “Go and look at the passage where Elijah prays seven times before he sees a small cloud.”
So I did; and I wondered what I would see. I suppose it’s one of those stories I’d read a few times so perhaps felt ‘old’. The thing is, scripture is so full of treasure it’s never old. I should have known better and, sure enough, I saw something brand new this time.
The story of Elijah’s cloud is in 1 Kings 18:41-46, and it goes like this: There has been a desperate drought in Israel, but then Elijah proclaims to the King that rain is coming. He says to the king, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the abundance of rain." In other words, "You don’t need to worry about stashing up food any more, I promise you the rain is coming!"
Truly, I feel this way about the spouses in our community. Impossible as it seems, we can know something is coming in the spirit before we see it in the natural. It's just ... There's perseverance first.
Elijah went to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” (1 Kings 18:42-43, NKJV)
Seven times, nothing.
Isn't that just like the prayer for our spouses? We pray. Nothing. Nothing. Oh, and nothing. Nothing? Nope, nothing. Nothing. Can’t see any sign of my spouse turning…. Years pass …. Nothing.
Shall I say that again for effect? Here we go, six 'nothings': Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Ok, I now hereby sign and seal this thing as officially impossible. That's not to say it won't happen; it's just it's an impossible thing that needs God. We all look at each other, nod our heads, agreeing and understanding that it will take a miracle the size of the red sea parting.
Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” (v. 44)
I wonder if even Elijah, let alone his companion, couldn't quite believe what he was seeing, even though he had sensed it in the spirit. After all, 'We're in a drought!'
So, with all that in mind, here's what just happened for us this past week:
One man’s hand goes up in surrender, ‘I say yes to Jesus’.
Another man’s hand goes up in surrender, ‘I say yes to Jesus’.
And a third man’s hand goes up in response to an altar call.
Oh, it's a cloud 'the size of a man’s hand' rising from the sea! A sign. A sign of more to come. We don't know how or when, but yes. More will come.
I am smiling here, and with that I’ll sign off for the weekend. Lynn will be here on Monday. In the meantime, for your pleasure here's 'God is on the Move'!
Teehee ... I bet the title made you eagerly open this one. And, you won't be disappointed with what you read next. God glorifies His name through this community. Sometimes we have to wait a little while between testimonies, but they always come.
I remember just before COVID spread through the world I wrote a post called 'Salvations in our Community -- What's Next?' We'd had a noticeable and unusual spate of spouses' conversions in a short space of time, which had pricked up my antennae. Feeling like something was ‘in the water’, I wrote the post.
Well, something was in the water, but it wasn't what we expected. I wrote that post on 1 March 2020. By 14 March, COVID was running rampage in Italy. A week later, people everywhere were saying 'What a week this year has been'; and, by the end of the month, many of us were locked down.
We've continued to watch all this unfold, but the biggest message I've heard from God this whole year is this: Prepare to win and care for souls. I continue to believe we are going to see new Christians -- born again ones -- come into the Kingdom of Heaven when this pandemic is over.
Well, blow me down, today we got a little inkling of that again, with a testimony of a spouse's conversion that was just so encouraging. It felt, to me, like the sun was coming out again.
It was yesterday morning that I heard. I stepped out of bed and thought to myself, “We had that spate of conversions before COVID. I’d love to see some more now!” Only an hour later I checked email and there it was -- This message, from one of our dear SUMites:
“After 24 years of marriage, my husband was baptized yesterday, July 4, 2021. I am over the moon! It was a gradual process that seemed to steamroll over the last two years, during a whirlwind move to another state, and aided by circumstances beyond our control … We look to God for comfort and direction and are closer than ever in our relationship to each other as well as to our Father. Praise God, and thank you, Jesus.”
I wrote back instantly, and she then told me something extra that was sweet: At the very moment her husband was dunked in the pastor’s swimming pool, fireworks went off in the background. Celebration, power, and God's goodness.
We all know what it takes to get there, and we can all relate to this one praying, perseverant wife saying she is 'over the moon!' On behalf of all of us, I say to her just how much we celebrate with her, and I thank her for sharing it with us.
On that happy note, have a lovely weekend, everyone!
Today I want to chat about one of our topics that is an old favorite: Attending church alone. I type this with a smile, but it's a wry smile. Whether or not we've got into a routine, I think most of us would say that Church-plus-SUM is super tricky!
I shared recently that my little church closed in March. It had about 60 people, and we loved each other. But, just before Christmas two things happened: The numbers plummeted and the pastor and wife lost their vision for it. Not for pastoring, just for that place. It was as if they couldn’t help but let go.
It seemed God was closing a season for us all, so the pastor bravely announced “We are closing. We are so sorry … But now let's transition well.” And he cried his way through the message. What happened in the weeks since, however, is that each family went somewhere different and new things blossomed.
My Dad who is a Christian gave me a word at the time: “Whatever your reasons for joining that church initially, those reasons have now been satisfied. Allow God to do something new.”
And so I am. Happily. But I'm also reflecting on what God took me through in those six years. Because they were pretty impactful.
The day I walked through those church doors -- Well, a converted underground carpark -- I was hugged, welcomed, and felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Oh, it was wonderful, and of course I couldn’t wait to go each Sunday. But, as you know, with a less enthusiastic spouse it's not so simple:
“Don’t tell me you can’t give it up if I ask you to!” Bryce said to me months later, fearing my absence. I guess he could see my attachment to it, and in his mind I was on my way to becoming a cult-following weirdo. Because of that comment, I became fearful myself. Fearful of what it would do to us. My attendance became sporadic and I miserably stayed home on a Sunday. Often.
“Are you alright?” My pastor asked me one day when I reappeared after about eight weeks. I whimpered back: “I just miss my husband so much …” Tears. And more tears.
He didn't say much. He just looked at me with sympathy. Bryce was the gaping, invisible hole next to me. Crap (can I say that?), this thing was hard. It was hard enough that it's making me cry to type this. That tells me how hard it was.
Time passed and I began to grow a desire to serve. “I’ve offered to go early and help on the door today ..” I said in a deliberately light-hearted voice to Bryce one Sunday. “Seriously?” He raised his eyebrows. “Why do Christians have to do that? Hellooo.” (He mimicked the sing-song voice of a Christian door-greeter, possibly teasing, but possibly not!) Maybe you can smile to read that because you know how this thing goes. But I tell you, my sense of humor had checked out. I was so sensitive to being mocked for my faith by that point, I was over it.
That was five years ago. But somehow, somewhere along the way, I began to laugh a little again. And somewhere along the way Bryce became ok with it all. Quite honestly, nothing could keep me from church anyway.
I served in different areas, but sometimes I stepped back. Sometimes I'd say, “I’m sorry – I just can’t … I have to balance it with my family.” Other times I'd say: "This I can do, yes." I followed the Holy Spirit on this one. "Yes? Or no, Lord?"
Six years in all. And by the time this little church closed I can say that, Sunday by Sunday, the whole experience grew me. God grew me, with the help of his team, his church. So, here's where I'm at now:
God is real. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life.
Church is important. And so is my marriage.
Bryce knows the above.
And somehow, these days, we make it work.
Huge, huge growth over a distinct period. Huge.
So, if you are reading this and struggling with this whole area (gah!), I think I just want to say it’ll be ok. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, seeking wisdom with each step.
How is church involvement going for you these days? Looking forward to chatting in the comments.
Today I had an interesting faith conversation with a man with whom I cross paths occasionally. I know him in a professional rather than social capacity, but whenever I see him we have a good chat. So, I'll call him a 'friend-acquaintance'.
Anyway, today I saw him for the first time in a year and we found ourselves talking about one of my favorite topics (and a topic I don't talk much about): A faith difference in marriage.
Well, who would've thought it, it turns out he’s kind of there too. He is finding himself in that place at home. And so we had a light-hearted (but on-point) chat about it.
Our conversation came about because he asked me if I was still working at the university. I said “No, these days I volunteer in Christian ministry!” “Oh!” He said, “Tell me more!” And so, I told him about this little ministry of ours on the web. I said, “Bryce and I have been through a lot there – There’s a lot to it. You have to learn how to stay happily married, and not annoy each other!”
My friend then shared that he had re-entered church and reconnected with his faith in recent years. His beloved had not. He said, it’s something he’s been wrestling with, especially recently. With that, I told him we had 1,000 + readers on our blog, and I said, “It’s a big need. It’s not uncommon. And, yes, it’s hard.”
Indeed. It. Is. Hard. The church often doesn’t know how to help us. We don’t fit the mold so we stay on the periphery. But the truth is, we’re a big segment of the church -- the Body of Christ -- and we need support. Some of us have figured out how to fit church with home life, and how to follow Jesus in our home. Others of us are still working that out.
My friend/acquaintance asked me a good question today, and one that I think is valuable for anyone new to our blog. He asked: “Ok, so what would be your top three tips for someone in this situation?”
It was on the spot, but here’s what came out of my mouth:
Mm... Those were my thruppence, on the spot. A few hours later I look at this and obviously would put point three at the top. Pursue God -- Jesus -- above all else and everything else will follow. But apart from that, yes those remain my top three.
How about you, what would you have said when asked that question? How would you have worded it? Interested to hear your thoughts, as always.
Great chatting, and have a good weekend!
I've been thinking lately about the topic of belief vs. unbelief, and all the different spiritual ingredients that go into that. Like many of you, I have a mixture of believers and unbelievers in my life, and often look at those who don't believe and wonder what is going on there.
There are quite a few things that lead to unbelief, as we know. The influence of the enemy is one thing. The perfect timing of God is another. But one all-important ingredient is, of course, that powerful force that God designed us to have: Free will!
Free will - Gah!
Being in a SUM, most of us will find free will a frustrating thing. Because it means our spouse has complete choice to accept or reject Jesus. But, in Genesis 1:26-31, God made humankind in his own image, then said it was ‘very good’. 'Very good' must include free will, I guess. These were not robots who would automatically submit mindlessly. Rather, they were beloved children with whom God wanted a relationship.
I think quite often about how powerful free will is. Especially as it relates to my husband. It is not only powerful, but beautiful. Probably like many of you, I have questions. After all, the work of God is often unfathomable. And that topic of free will – Oh, it intrigues me!
Here in the SUM community we have many readers, and I have a sneaky feeling that each of us would say it doesn't work when we impose our own will too strongly on our spouse when it comes to faith. We can be forceful about other things, but when it comes to welcoming Jesus in, our spouse's will is their own. There is something deeply spiritual about that.
So, we learn to not force it more than God would. Then God might eventually give us a good word to speak, in season.
On speaking a word in season, I got to do that recently - And I'll share the story now. It only happened after I had learned to shut my mouth. Yep, I tried unsuccessfully to ‘convert’ my husband for a number of years, only for it to fall flat. After all this, one day we were quietly together and I got a little God-nudge (I think): “Tell Bryce that faith is a matter of choice. He is going to have to make a choice -- Yes or no.”
“Oh crikey, Lord?” I said. “Do you really want me to step out and say this?” I was so used to things falling flat. Anyway, I took a deep breath, and here’s what I said:
“Babe, when you die, it’s actually really important that you have said ‘yes’ to God. Some people reject God, and when they get to eternity it’s not a good thing that they did. Please don’t be one of those people. It actually really matters to me to know that you’ve said yes, as far as you can.”
“Really?” he said.
“Yep. I don’t fully understand it. But it is where I’m sitting these days.”
“So, what does it look like to say ‘yes’ to God?” He said.
(At that I didn't even know where to begin. What should I say?!)
“Um ... Well .... Perhaps start with saying ‘yes’, and God will do the rest!”
“Mm..” He said (both of us thinking). Then we lay in silence. Finally, he said: “I’m not rejecting anything, you know.”
And that was it. Um, my evangelism skills still need some refining (I'm laughing). But perhaps this was the SUM version of evangelism. Gently does it. Certainly, my husband didn’t seem to mind that I’d raised it. And that reaction tells me it probably was a Holy Spirit nudge.
What a powerful force free will is! I suppose that’s love: You can’t force somebody to fall in love with you; and so God does not. He woos, he draws, and he asks his disciples to help with this process, but in ways that might be customized. A word rightly seasoned, here and there.
So, that is one ingredient: Free will. Next time I’ll talk about another ingredient that goes into belief. I'm looking forward to it!
For now, any thoughts about today's topic? How far do you go when speaking about serious matters of faith with your spouse? We'll chat in the comments.
It's been a number of years since I've shared this post. But it speaks to me today. I pray it speaks to you as well. Merry Christmas, Lynn
There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.
One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused.
"That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.
A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.
When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn't go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.
The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It's warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.
The geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn't seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn, but they still didn't catch on.
Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.
"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human.
"If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.
Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn - and one by one the other geese followed it to safety!
He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind:
"If only I were a goose, then I could save them!"
Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"
Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese - blind, lost, and perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized!
As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come.
Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer:
I’m thrilled to be here today! I’ve missed you dearly and it’s been so wonderful to continue to watch this community grow under Ann’s wonderful leadership. When Lynn asked me to share my newest book release, I was overjoyed, because it’s the conclusion to Lexie and Hugh’s story.
When I wrote The Soul Saver, my heart was to write a story to compliment Winning Him Without Words, much like the movie Fireproof and the book The Love Dare were meant to compliment each other. And over the years many have asked me if I would be writing a sequel to The Soul Saver to finish Lexie and Hugh’s story.
Well, I’m happy to share with you that The Soul Redeemer has officially released. It’s a shorter book, a novella actually, that tells the rest of Lexie and Hugh’s story.
And their story is still ours, my friends. We live it every day.
Her artwork is guided by faith. He’s a non-believer. Will their relationship survive a demon knocking at their door?
In The Soul Saver my goal was to show the spiritual warfare we deal with in our mismatched marriages. In The Soul Redeemer my goal was to show how we win! Lexie leans to step into her authority and Hugh begins to question his atheism.
I pray this story encourages you, my friends. I’m still very much in the battle with you. As I wrote this story, my husband and I hit some really rough patches of disagreement through this pandemic and the election. Once again, the enemy came to steal, kill and destroy, but he lost again as my husband and I determined to stay in a place of love. Not easy but we made the daily decision to do it.
God’s love always wins because His love is the very essence of Who He is, the Great I Am. And He never fails.
I hope you’ll check out the rest of the story, dear friends.
I have two copies of the The Soul Redeemer I’d love to give way.
Just leave a comment and Lynn will pick the winners.
Tobias is back and determined to win.
Lexie has no idea why Nate is flying back from China, only that his text said it’s urgent. His face is the one God led her to sculpt. That can only mean he’s her next assignment.
Upon his arrival, Nate is stunned to see Lexie is pregnant. He knows what she and Hugh went through when they lost their little girl several years ago, and can only imagine what lays behind the hint of fear he sees in her eyes. But a warning has brought him back to the States—one he hates to deliver but knows he must.
Tobias is back.
Though still teetering on the edge of faith, Hugh is focused on his future as Department Chair of Physics at Stanford University and the impending arrival of their daughter. Yet he finds an astonishing ability to welcome Nate back into their lives—something he didn’t think possible after what happened in the past.
Tobias is back and determined to claim Hugh’s soul. And his plan of destruction includes putting Lexie and her unborn child in jeopardy. As Lexie and her baby girl fight live, an unexpected visitation brings hope to Lexie that her baby girl will survive. But will Lexie survive to tell Hugh about it?
I’d like to thank those SUMites whose stories have helped inform the last two posts on this topic. It is an intensely difficult path.
The grief of a lost shared faith in marriage is an extreme thing to live with, but several of the SUMites I talked to said they can look back and see how much they have learned through it all. So I thought it might be nice to finish with a few ‘tips’, or insights, from these SUMite soldiers.
If I can summarize, what most said – in one way or another -- is this:
Once you realize the battle is spiritual, a shift takes place.
Once you realize that it's a blinding of your spouse's heart, the fight changes its flavor.
Once you realize that your spouse is not the enemy but the prize worth fighting for, then you begin to battle as an overcomer.
I guess those comments point to this well-known verse:
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NKJV)
With that in mind, here are some final insights -- pieces of wisdom -- from those SUMites:
(1) Winning without words is the way to go.
Yes, 'Winning him without words' is one of our favorite mottos, from 1 Peter 3:1. In this scenario, it most likely means not bashing the faithless spouse over the head with arguments. In fact, those ones who have lost their faith probably know every argument there is and will not appreciate a head-walloping. A couple of our SUMites said they tried hurling apologetics at their spouse for a good few months; then gave up. It didn't do any good. A gentle and quiet spirit was the better formula.
(2) Upgrade your spiritual warfare
Several SUMites said how much their journey changed once they enhanced their understanding of spiritual warfare. There are quite a few resources out there, and several mentioned the book Marching around Jericho had been a big help. Many of our blog posts on here in the archives also cover the topic of warfare.
(3) Fight for that marriage
Said one SUMite: "I learned how to fight for my marriage. I learned that the entire situation was because the enemy wanted to destroy my marriage and destroy our family. I stopped contending for my husband's soul with angst because, frankly, it was exhausting, and it wasn't MY JOB to save him!”
(4) Your faith will never be the same again – And it's a good thing!
Several SUMites said this situation has changed their relationship with God for the better. This statement was pretty powerful:
“If God gave me the choice for my husband and I to each go back to the faith we had before all this, I wouldn't choose that. My husband's faith was obviously lacking and built on shifting sand, and my relationship with God was also lacking. So, if I don't want to go back, then the only way to go is forward, and God's already there.”
(5) Finally, God is not surprised by any of this!
It's true -- He knows. He knows all about it. And he will use it. In the words of one SUMite:
“And then it dropped that He is good and this is not a surprise or an 'oh crap, I didn't see that coming' moment for Him. And that was a turning point for me.”
So, my friends, that brings our series on this topic to an end for now. I can't help but feel there's so much more we could say. For example, what is it like for the spouse who loses their faith? How can we walk it with compassion? I'm sure we will be back to revisit this. But for now, we'll leave it there.
To conclude, are there any other key tips that you would share with someone walking behind you on this path?
Till next time,
Today we're going to continue with the above topic, and I thought I would start with a little story:
Last year, I attended a ministry conference. We were a small group, perhaps 100 in the room, and Auckland is a small place so we often see family faces. There we were in an interactive session, when the conference leader asked a question. A man on the far left of the room shot up his hand as if to say ‘Over here! I have something to say!’ The mic was carried to him, and for the third time that day he spoke something super insightful into it. All the while, his wife sat beside him, nodding.
I looked over at this couple from over on my side and quietly did a happy dance (inside!) In fact, I just kept on looking over, grinning. See, I knew their story. He was one of those husbands who’d fallen away. For eight years, in fact, he’d stayed home every Sunday while his wife carried on -- Dismayed, determined, confused. But now he was back -- And honestly, everything he said into that mic was so good.
The Come-Back Kid!
My friends, this isn’t the only story I know of a spouse coming back to faith. It might be natural to think that this situation looks particularly impossible. If we're going to really not sugar-coat this thing, you might even fear what your spouse has done. For sure, we know free will is a big part of this, and this thing is no game.
But there's also this: The fruits of the Holy Spirit are joy and peace. This alone tells me that God -- who grows these fruits within us -- will be encouraging us to NOT walk through this situation peace-less. Only God knows the destination of a given soul, but if our spouse has fallen away He actively encourages us to grow joy and peace. Somehow we have to let God bring peace to this terribly difficult situation, but of course fruit grows slowly and usually within the opposite circumstances.
The Lord led me to this amazing verse this morning, which speaks of how He sometimes works two or three times in a person’s life to bring them back from the pit.
“Yes, his soul draws near the Pit, and his life to the executioners.
If there is a messenger for him, a mediator, one among a thousand, to show man His uprightness, then He is gracious to him, and says, ‘deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ‘ransom’;
His flesh shall be young like a child’s, he shall return to the days of his youth. He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, he shall see His face with joy, for He restores to man His righteousness. Then he looks at men and says, ‘I have sinned, and perverted what was right, and it did not profit me.’
He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit, and his life shall see the light.
Behold, God works all these things, twice, in fact, three times with a man, to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.” Job 33:23-30 (NKJV):
What a wonderful verse for those who are hoping for a ‘fallen-away’ spouse to be restored! I guess it tells me that this thing is far from impossible, and these spouses are certainly not the 'least likely' or a hopeless case. In fact, I will say that I also feel my husband is the least likely to convert, and he's never yet been a Christian. So perhaps we all feel it: 'Mine is the least likely!'
Least likely does not mean impossible!
Ultimately, God has given us a tremendous shared testimony here in this community. This blog has over one thousand readers, and many were once prodigals. Even Lynn, our founder, describes herself as the ultimate prodigal child, and now she is one on-fire Christian. We know from the parable of the prodigal son what kind of excitement lands on the one who comes back. And so many of the SUMites themselves are living, breathing, walking examples of God's miraculous restoration.
It's hard huh? We will carry on with this topic on Monday. But in the meantime, if you would like to share any thoughts in the comments, please do!
Today I want to talk about a path that is walked by so many here, and it's a really difficult one: ‘When a Spouse Leaves the Faith’.
In our community we have many a story to tell about how we found ourselves in a SUM. In my case, for example, I was far from God when I married, then turned and changed. That's a common scenario. But there’s another story within our ranks that seems especially weighty: The situation where one spouse falls away.
It looks something like this: A husband and wife intimately share their relationship with Jesus. They pray together, dream together, and serve together. Faith is the bedrock of their shared life and they are wedded to church. Then, out of left field one loses their faith and the other has to stand by and watch. The sense of loss is profound.
In these next couple of posts I'm going to write about that. It’s not my path, so I asked several other SUMites for help with this. The following words come from their shared stories. And, as I have written it up I realize all over again what brave soldiers they are.
Why is it so hard when a spouse leaves the faith?
Most challenges in a spiritually unequal marriage are commonly experienced. For example, almost all of us battle loneliness, find it difficult to be open about faith at home, and church is complicated. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But when a spouse loses their faith there’s something extra: Grief.
These are seriously lost dreams. The spouse who leaves their faith might have been a vibrant disciple of Jesus at one time. That is perfectly possible, it happens. So, the remaining one knows what it is to be spiritually matched. And they cry tears of grief -- Tears that may well be mixed with a bitter sense of betrayal.
Then it happens: Their spouse’s character begins to change before their eyes, and this can happen quite quickly once they've decided they no longer believe. Their priorities shift and it can extend into some quite contrasting areas of behavior and opinion. They might even start to despise their prior faith.
“This isn’t the person I married”, sobs the believing spouse into their pillow at night.
The unbelieving spouse may or may not question the marriage itself. In most cases they will still love and want their spouse. And if that's so they'll just want to be loved back. “Just love me please, the way I now am.” Alternatively, they might actively despise their old life including everything the believing spouse now stands for. In that case it's more precarious. Or there’ll be some mixture of hostility and love. Either way, it’s tumultuous change.
In terms of their mindset, the unbelieving spouse might hold a strong belief that they have excellent ‘insider knowledge’ of Christianity. If that's the case, Christian apologetics arguments, or even testimony, will be especially unlikely to help. Intellectual debate is futile, and testimonies are rejected. Possibly these spouses have had testimonies of their own and now somehow those testimonies have become a distant memory. "What will it take to change their mind?" one wonders.
Well, is it their mind, or is it their heart? So much of this is about the heart.
Meanwhile, Christian friends will treat the unbelieving spouse (their friend) as a ‘fix-it’ project that they most likely can’t fix as easily as they hope. And it’s hard to stay connected to these friends because the dynamic has changed and they probably don't really understand the full story. The couple might slowly lose their friends, bit by bit. By bit.
Of course, it looks different in different couples. Some have spouses who now are active atheists after having been elders. For others, it's simply a case of the spouse having gone quietly lukewarm. That one is a more placid situation and perhaps slightly easier to handle than a full-on missionary-turned-atheist who has 'all the answers' (I know one of those myself, he lives down the road and remains married to a very strong Christian lady!)
So what would God say to us about this particular path? And what practical tips are helpful here? There is more to share so we will continue in the next post. And, again, I thank the SUMites who have helped with this post -- so much.
In the meantime, if you are walking this particular path, what is the hardest part for you?
It's been a couple of weeks since I last wrote, but in my last post I shared a story from our archives where the Holy Spirit had given us a caution about using the ‘unequally yoked’ label too much. To catch up, you can read that post here. Today I'm interested in chatting a bit more about that -- the 'unequally-yoked' badge.
I certainly can relate to the issue of using the 'spiritually mismatched' label a little much. As a woman, I share my feelings easily with others, and when I’m with other Christians I talk about my faith challenges. Well, the spiritual mismatch is the major challenge, right?
Except … it’s easy to mention this thing to any Tom, Dick or Harry at church and suddenly we’re allowing them into our marriage, which is a private space. That thought makes me sad. I think my husband would hope that doesn't happen.
I guess over the years I’ve become more wary about sharing this precious and difficult thing that Bryce and I walk. But guarding the tongue takes practice, especially if you are naturally a bit talkative!
As for the label itself, which we do use in the SUM community, what are we to make of the words that the Holy Spirit gave us (mentioned in my last post)? Let's take another look at those beautiful -- and perspective-changing -- words:
Your marriages are not mismatched or unequally yoked.
Your marriages are Mine.
Your husbands are Mine.
They are Mine.
Words like these are designed by the Lord to give us the mind of Christ. He always sees things differently to the way we naturally do and he will often ask us to lift our eyes above the circumstances. He wants us to walk in hope, peace and joy!
Of course, we can't deny the battle. If we were too euphemistic in our words, people wouldn't be able to find this blog and know we're here to help them deal with spiritual mismatch in marriage. The Bible uses the term ‘unbelieving wife’ and ‘unbelieving husband’ (1 Corinthians 7:14) with honesty. So, we do the same in this ministry to articulate the challenge for others who need help. Even then, I have to say I use the label cautiously (Proverbs 18:21).
Perhaps the issue is not so much about using the label as much as it's about our hearts. If the label is used to minister to other SUMites it's a different thing to us using the label widely and without respect for our spouse. So, while I'm open with SUMites I've become much more guarded when talking with other Christians. If I do talk about it I'll say something like this:
"My husband and I do have a difference in what we believe, but we're still happily married."
“My husband doesn’t go to church with me, so I tend to do that side of things by myself.”
In fact, I had this role-modelled to me a few years ago when I sidled up to an older woman at church. I wanted to ask her about her non-attending husband. All she said was this, smiling:
“You're right, he doesn't come to church. But you know what, he is the most amazing man. It's not ideal, but he's a fantastic husband.”
I liked that.
Ultimately, what I know is that God sees the end from the beginning. This present moment is not the final answer and when God looks at our marriage he sees its final day and every day leading up to that. As he sees the bigger picture, his word on the matter is this:
Your marriage is not mismatched. It is Mine.
If we can believe these words, our job is then to 'call things that are not as though they were' (Romans 4:17). That is, we can go so far as to say verbally to others: "My husband -- He belongs to the Lord", or "My marriage -- It belongs to God", or perhaps we can even smile to ourselves and think about that declaration of the Holy Spirit: Not mismatched.
My friends, I hope you've found that interesting -- It's been food for thought for me. For now, here's a question: How do you approach this issue when talking with other Christians about your situation and your life? We'll chat in the comments.
So, ya….. This post may sting. This is an area that I have confronted over and over again throughout my life.
How do we walk through life and handle the disappointments, the let downs, the betrayals without slipping down the slippery slope into the dark abyss of bitterness?
My friends, I’m telling you, this sly root of the dark realm can destroy a life, a home, a marriage, a child, a church,……. A city, how about a nation???
Recently I’ve been reading a book by Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, and I was taken back by this short sentence:
Bitterness is unfulfilled revenge!
Woundedness from others, if left to fester in unforgiveness, will sink into dark bitterness. I’ve seen what this looks like in the spirit. It’s a grayish, festering, dead looking part of a person’s soul. Light goes in but doesn’t reflect back. It’s a pit of endless negative thought cycles. It’s leads a soul to where our love grows cold or non-existent.
The cure for bitterness is the love of Jesus. Honestly, we can’t forgive others from within our own strength. Some of us have been through such horrendous things that true forgiveness is impossible outside of the supernatural power and love of Jesus Christ.
I’ll tell you that through all the years of my spiritually mismatched marriage, I could have held a long list of disappointments against my husband. And they may have even been justified. But, unforgiveness is a prison of our own creation. And it’s through unforgiveness that the demonic realm seizes their greatest strongholds in our lives.
What’s fascinating to me is that many Christians think they have done the work of forgiveness but they aren’t truly free. If they were, the persistent ugly thought cycles would diminish and disappear. Now there is no condemnation here. THIS IS A MOMENT to take a pause and consider your thought cycles. Are they lining up with heaven are they:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. —Philippians 4:8
If we find ourselves standing on the event horizon of the black hole of bitterness, we MUST take action immediately. Repent, ask someone to pray with you. Confess your sins to one another ( James 5:16). Find an accountability partner to help you walk into spiritual health. Spend time with a CHRISTIAN counselor. Schedule a prayer session. Ask Jesus if there is any area where unforgiveness, cold-love or bitterness lingers. Lean on His Supernatural strength, love, and power to bring you into freedom.
Bitterness within a marriage is one of the last nails……
Now I’m not just preaching. Gang, I’ve had to live this out in my own life. With that said, it’s not easy but doable. I know it is because I was especially vulnerable to disappointment. But through the blood and love of Jesus Christ, I can forgive ALL offenses and I walk in powerful faith today.
If Jesus will do this for me, He will do it for you as well. And when you couple forgiveness with love, something wonderful lives in you! It’s the spirit of the Lord! Hallelujah!
So, my friends, pray in the comments a simple prayer to release yourself. Or pray in the comments that your spouse is released, a child, co-workers, boss, etc. These prayers of forgiveness are absolutely the first step toward wholeness in Christ. I will echo each one.
The opposite of bitterness is:
Claim one of these attributes and ask the Lord to immediately supply it into your life as an affirmation of your prayer of faith.
I adore you, Lynn!
We’re currently looking at past words that God has spoken to our community. To catch up, here are the recent posts:
Now, this next word I’m going to share is one where the Lord gave us an adjustment. In it he was encouraging us to adjust a particular aspect of our walk. It’s shared with warm humor by Lynn but when I read it I did nod and say all over again, 'Yes, Lord.'
It happened at the conference that Lynn and Dineen attended on 12 October 2012. Lynn tells the story, which I’ve copied below. It's a longer one, so perhaps make a drink and settle in ... Then we can chat in the comments.
"Sometimes are you overcome and overwhelmed with the sheer love and patience God bestows upon you?
Glad it’s not just me.
His relentless persistence to get through to my heart and more, my thick-head, is astounding. In the weeks since the conference, I feel like I’m reading scripture for the first time. I’m in love with the book of Luke right now and can’t get enough. I’m reading that book like it was personally written for me. Scripture verses have new meaning, depth and POWER in my life.
I’m not sure how long this post will be but I’m writing until the entire story is out. Because it is HIS-story and all for His glory.
I think I mentioned in the post about Maria that God was intentionally selective about the conferees that He placed around us during the three day event. Our God did not waste one minute of the conference. He sent Helen to us at lunch and Maria next to me in the audience and Laura prayed with us in the bathroom. That story still makes me chuckle (a tale for another day, I promise).
But God also used Heidi, Dineen and me as we spoke truth and love into each other’s lives. A bond of love formed between the three of us that is impenetrable, powerful, perfect and sealed in eternal love. I hope all of you experience this kind of Kingdom friendship and love.
Onward. It was the last day of the conference and all throughout the day, through people like Laura, Darlene, and Helen God was trying to talk to Dineen and I. He wanted to speak about something Dineen and I wear. You see we kinda promote this badge on our chest. I’m still struggling to figure out how it comes to rest on my chest and why. But the badge we wear says this:
I’m unequally yoked.
Truly we have moved past wearing this badge as martyrs. It’s just easy to say, “I’m unequally yoked” because in Christian circles people always reply to our declaration with a serious nod of understanding accompanied by eyes full of concern or pity and they utter one word, “Oh.” As if to say, I see, I get it, poor you.
Sheesh, just writing that makes my stomach turn. Onward.
Well after three days of proudly wearing our invisible but very discernible badges around the place and after God sending people to us to speak gently about our malady of unequalness, God was sick of us. So He sent in Heidi.
We were walking along the road to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Now I don’t recall the conversation specifics at the moment. I think we were talking about Laura and the words she prayed over us in the women’s restroom. And Heidi with trepidation in her voice says, “Did you hear what she was saying to you?”
“Ya, I thought I did.”
Heidi looked at me and Dineen with uncertainty in her eyes and then she ventured, “I really don’t know how to say this and I’m not saying this to be hurtful or anything but I don’t think you are hearing what God is saying to you.”
I froze in my tracks on the side of the road with cars passing by. I stared at Heidi and Dineen was standing right there frozen as well. “I just hear God telling me to tell you this. ‘Your marriages are not mismatched or unequally yoked. Your marriages are mine. Your husbands are mine.’”
Instantly I felt chastised by our most loving and Holy God.
Heidi rushed on, “Please don’t be mad but I hear God telling me to say to you, ‘They are mine.”
That instant my heart broke wide open. I felt ashamed that I had not believed God about this and even more shame that for so, so long I’ve worn this stupid “spiritually mismatched” badge about my person.
She said, “Your words have created a prison where you have held your husband in a cell.”
Pain. O, the pain.
However the pain and shame instantly left me as I said to Heidi, “Oh Heidi, you are right. God is so right.”
It was at the moment that I opened the doors of the prison. I tore off the badge and I surrendered it to God. I remember saying to Heidi and Dineen, “This changes everything. Even our ministry. Perhaps we are to even change our ministry name?” A million thoughts rushed into my head. And those thoughts Dineen and I are still wrangling with today.
Out of this entire exchange what has remained profound and clear to me are three words that the Father spoke to me and Dineen, “They are mine.”
My friends, deep calls to deep. Step into this deep with me and see if you can uncover the truth of those three words in your life. What are the implications? Why it is God would say this to Dineen and I, “They (our husbands) are mine.”
Now I have to also be clear in this. Heidi spoke these words as they were placed upon her through the Holy Spirit and they were intended for Dineen and I. However, I also believe they are intended for our community. But there is a progression or a spiritual shift that happens within us that allows God to speak these words to those of us who live with an unsaved spouse. And it’s this development, this shift that changes everything. And I’m desperate to share this with you so that you don’t have to be hit upside the head from a close friend on the side of the road."
Well, that’s the story! We'll build on it in a future post, but in the meantime I'd love to hear your thoughts. See you in the comments.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
Psalms 91:1-16 NLT
My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, since school has reopened and we have been navigating these uncertain times with Covid 19, I decided to write my own prayer using specific verses of psalm 91.
We are faced with challenging times, but our Abba daddy is so great and merciful. Along with Yeshua (Jesus) and Holy Spirit He has also given us the power of words to declare and decree our protection for our schools, households, families, our children etc.
Some of us were in a limbo of whether we should do virtual learning or in person. So, my husband decided that he wanted our daughter to attend in person. I was very tense and nervous at the same time, but I remembered that God meets us in whatever situations we must face.
Since I live in a spiritually unequally yoked marriage, I decided I would petition my household's safety and protection with psalm 91. So, first thing in the morning, I read psalm 91 aloud and then I say my prayer I wrote. With all my prayers I stand on 1 Corinthians 7:14 - For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.
1 Corinthians 7:14 NLT
So here's my prayer I wrote:
Dear Heavenly Father, I stand on the verse 1 Corinthians 7:14 on behalf of my household and I declare that You, Lord, are our refuge and our place of safety. You are our God and we trust in you (Psalm 91:2)
I thank you Lord that you will protect my child and my household from every trap and protect us from every deadly diseases that includes Covid-19 (Psalm 91: 3)
Lord I thank you that your feathers cover me, and my household and you hide us under the shelter of your wings. I thank you, Lord God, that your faithful promises are our armor and protection (Psalm 91:4)
Lord your word says " We must not be afraid of the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day. (Psalm 91:5)
In the name of Jesus, me and my household will not dread the disease (Covid 19) that stalks in the darkness nor the disaster that strikes at midday (Psalm 91:6)
Though a thousand may fall at our sides and 10,000 are dying around us, because of your faithfulness Lord God, this evil as will not touch me or my household [ I name each person that lives in my household and you can also add other family and friends names here) - (Psalm 91:7)
Your word also says that if I make you my refuge and shelter, no evil will conquer me and my household and no plague (no coronavirus) will come near our home (Psalm 91: 9-10).
Lord God I thank you that you order your angels with special orders to protect us wherever we go. I thank you Lord God, that right now your angels are holding me and my household up in their right hands, so we will not even dash our foot against a stone (Psalm 91: 11-12)
According to Luke 10:19 and Psalm 91:13- You have given us the authority to trample upon fierce lions, cobras and serpents under our feet in Jesus name. Therefore, we will crush coronavirus under our feet in Jesus name. Hallelujah!!!(Psalm 91:13)
Lord I pray for supernatural wisdom and strength for each and every teacher, every school official, janitors, bus drivers, bus monitors and the school staffs. I pray for a supernatural hedge of protection over the parents and the children through the blood of Jesus. I pray for a peace that surpasses all understanding over everyone of them in Jesus name.
I pray for a holy ring of fire of protection over and around the school property and around all the other schools. I plead the blood of Jesus over the school staff and all the parents and children in Jesus name.
Lord God, I especially stand in the gap and ask for supernatural protection through the blood of Jesus over both the little children and the older kids. Give them wisdom to use their hand sanitizers and practice safety at all times in Jesus name.
Lord we thank you for all answered prayers. We give the honor, the glory and the highest praise in the mighty name of Jesus.
Amen and Hallelujah!!!
I am Vidya Rodney. Married to my pre-believing husband Andrew for 10 years. We have a beautiful 5 year old little girl Anya. I live in St Charles ,Missouri and first accepted Jesus in 2011 after losing our only brother to suicide. I have been a lukewarm Christian for years, but now I am stepping out to find out more of what Jesus has for me.
Today I wanted to write a final word on our Summer Study to properly wrap it up. We’ve spent the last few posts looking at Jesus and the Church as the ultimate spiritual mismatch. And prior to that we raced through so many Bible characters. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Truly, I won’t ever read those stories the same again.
Which story did you enjoy the most? Perhaps it was David who danced nearly naked while his wife, Michal tut-tutted? Or Abigail who had to dig deep living with one who was militantly against her cause? For me, it was Mary, who carried a ‘crazy story’, hoping to share it eventually. Sometimes that one feels like my life.
We talked about the fact that a spiritual mismatch can be mild or extreme. This reminded me that in church circles I don’t own the corner on spiritual mismatch. It’s tempting to walk round thinking I do, but in fact, Christian couples face aspects of it all the time.
You know, I have at least three Christian friends who have an intense call to ministry. Their Christian spouse doesn’t share the same call and would be perfectly content if it was all given up tomorrow. Where does that leave these friends of mine? It leaves them desperate to move forward. In love, of course.
In fact, when I do spend time with Christian couples, the more I realize that a relationship with God is a deeply private thing that many don’t fully share with their spouse. My parents are a case in point. Both are deep believers, but they do business with God separately. They read different resources and focus on different things. Sometimes it seems to me they’re in completely different spaces to each other, each on their own personalized path.
Marriage is a quirky thing. And the work of the Spirit is unusual.
How do we walk out faith when it feels so deeply individual? Our summer study has shown me one wonderful ingredient that I am seizing: A can-do attitude.
See, here's what I notice from the characters in our summer study:
My motto today, then, is “I’m in!” Ask of me what you like, Lord. And I have to say I see so much 'can-do' in this community here that it inspires me. In fact, here's to many more moments of us going for it, and saying to God: "Yes, I can do that!"
So friends, how did you enjoy the study? What spoke to you the most, or what was new for you? We'd love to hear your final comments now that we've wrapped it all up.
Apart from that, have a great weekend, everyone. Lynn will be back on Monday with our next post.
I hope you've enjoyed our race through different Bible marriages this summer. We had much to look at and there were some marriages we didn’t even cover, such as Hosea's. Alas, summer is nearly over.
In the middle of this summer study I received a message from one of our friends, Libby Finan. Libby often has great words for this community, and what she said was this (paraphrased by me):
“I think I hear the Holy Spirit say that Jesus and the church are the ultimate unequal relationship. You could write about that next?”
“Sounds great!” I responded, ready to rise to the challenge. But where could I start? The one question I have is, "Lord, what are you wanting us to know?"
In scripture, as you know, there are a few passages about our Lord, Jesus, and his church, but we'll start with this one:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to Himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:25-33 (ESV)
Marriage, the joining of a man and woman surely is a mystery. It's delicious and difficult all in one go. But Jesus and the church being unequal? That is an interesting truth: Positionally, we are sanctified through our union with him. But in practice we might not always walk in line. Help us, Jesus!
In our summer study we've considered different kinds of spiritual mismatch. We’ve noticed a mismatch can be nuanced or extreme. Sometimes it is simply that one partner is quicker to recognize the Holy Spirit than the other. Other times it’s more extreme. Perhaps it is like that for Jesus in his relationship with different Christians.
Jesus loves us. And he is not going anywhere. That we know. But just because he loves us it doesn’t mean he isn't grieved by some of his church's choices. This is hard to say, but in the New Testament it is a clear message. Revelation chapters 2 and 3, for example, set out various problems in the church, from being 'lukewarm' to 'loveless' to 'lawless' to 'dead'. It is a hard truth. In the midst of all this, Jesus wants a spotless bride.
“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8, KJV)
If I reflect on this, I think about our heavenly bridegroom being delighted by parts of the church's progress, but also feeling her faithlessness in other parts. At times he will sit back, watch the church face the consequences of its choices, and grieve.
And so, my friends, could it be that our experience of tenderly caring for a ‘more worldly spouse’ is exactly what Jesus does with his church? Does Jesus watch his church and think “I love them so much. I'm fully committed. But I wish their focus would be adjusted?”
That’s convicting. In fact, when I started writing this post I didn't quite expect it would turn out this way. But hey. I will listen for more of his voice. Truly, listening is the best thing we can do, especially at this time when the world is going through something of a wake-up call and we need to represent him.
My prayer today, then, is this:
Lord Jesus, help me take care how I hear. Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit in me. And Lord, make me the bride you want me to be. Always yours. Amen.
I'll be back on Friday, to talk about a different facet of Jesus and his church. Meanwhile, feel free to share in the comments any thoughts that come to mind.
We left our story in 1 Samuel 25 with Abigail meeting David with provisions and a great big “SORRY.” Whew, that sorry and the honor she bestowed upon David saved probably more than 100 people from bloodshed. (verse 33 & 34)
She went home and arrived to ANOTHER drunken banquet. – Ugh!
Abigale was likely exhausted, angry at her mean husband, overwhelmed by the thought of what could have happened to everyone she loved on the ranch. And she came home, perhaps, somehow hoping her husband might ask her where she’d been and where she had disappeared to.
He was very drunk. The next morning when he sobered up and was in his right mind, she told him all about it. And the craziest thing happened.
Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. 1 Samuel 25:37
It’s believed he suffered a stroke. Whoa! I wondered how Abigail processed this? The servants?
Then in verse 38; About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.
The Word tells us he was struck by God. Yikes. Now, this sounds all like crazy goodness in that Abigail was rescued from a vile and evil man. It is good however, we can’t look at this story as the happily ever after we all desperately want.
We do know that David honors her request and remembers Abigail and offers her marriage, as the estate would surely not pass to her, as a woman. And she would likely be married off to Nabal’s brother. So David took her in through marriage. But her life wouldn’t have been a picnic. She left wealth to live in a camp with a bunch of hooligans. She wasn’t his only wife and David took on more wives, Bathsheba who we know he really loved. And Michal was with Paltiel.
So what is it about Abigail that God has included her story in the Word?
She was a believer in Yahweh. She trusted Him to save her. She was humble. She was wise. She walked in a beauty in her countenance. She was quick to react and she followed the Lord’s instructions. She was aware of her reality and what was going on around her (David and his past, present and future and what God was doing in him). She loved people and acted quickly to save them, even a wicked man.
Verse 41 & 42: She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.
That’s the last we hear about our beloved, Abigail. But we know one day she will be a queen and live in a palace.
My dear friends, isn’t that what is ahead for all of us?
Where is God calling you to bow down? Where is He calling you into divine wisdom and humility? Where is the Lord asking you to wash the feet of others for a season? Is He calling you to the palace right now?
A queen in the Kingdom of God is a servant. Just as Jesus came to serve, our 80 years here are just that we are called to serve like Jesus. All we need is already provided in our King Jesus and the wedding supper of the Lamb will be our invitation just as Abigail was invited into a wedding by David.
Hallelujah! I love you, SUMites. Next time Ann will be writing about the GREATEST SPIRITUALLY MISMATCHED MARRIAGE in the Bible.
Okay, was this study of 1 Samuel 25 helpful? See you in the comments. Hugs, Lynn
Todays passage, 1 Samuel 25.
Abigail was married to a wicked, unbeliever, Nabal (Hebrew name means mean, base, vile, unbeliever) who denied support to the future King of Israel. And if you read through 1 Samuel 25 again today, you will notice how much this woman was a woman of deep faith. And just as it is today when we face enormous challenges and situations, that we often cannot change, it’s our faith that develops and lives strong within. Hallelujah.
Now we know David sent men to ask for supplies after protecting the House of Nabal all summer. Nabal denied all provision and insulted the men who then turned back and told David all about it. David, being a passionate man, arose, dawned a sword along with 400 of his gang and set out to kill and ransack the House of Nabal.
Fortunately, the servants, by the way the servants always know what’s really going on. That’s why it’s great to be a servant of God. Well, they servants alerted the one person who was wisest of all on the ranch, Abigail, the Godly wife of this wicked man.
Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs (=60 pounds) of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. – 1 Samuel 25:18-19
Wow, so much in these two verses. Abigail acted quickly. She “KNEW” what to do because she lives in intimacy with God and follows His voice. And interestingly she didn’t tell her husband. Could it be that there are times we just need to take action and we don’t need to pass everything we want to do for God by our unbelievers? I’m just asking?????
I’ll share my experience here. YES, there are times that I’ve made decisions to send someone money or to tithe into the Kingdom or to give something I own to someone else because it’s the right thing to do. And I didn’t run it by Mike. Now, I didn’t give away the car or our dog. But I’ve over the years I’ve chosen to give and Mike was gleefully oblivious. It’s okay. Just don’t give away the house without consulting your spouse. *humorous grin*
I love Abigail. She immediately sets out with a tremendous amount of provisions toward David. She finally meets up with him and listen to her words:
Vs. 28-31 - “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”
Wow, look at how her faith in God. It's at the center of her life. She knows what God is doing and is affirming her belief to David.
David responds: Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands 1 Samuel 25:32-33
There are a number of lessons we can take from the life of Abigail:
My dear SUMites, is Abigail’s story in the Word just for us? Is her example our example. Is her faith our faith? Do we choose to do the right thing in our difficult marriages?
Oh the Word of God, it makes us look deep within and challenges us at the core. I love Abigail and I can’t wait to meet her in heaven one day. She isn’t merely a character in a book. She is/was a real woman who we will one day meet face-to-face. I can’t wait to sit at her feet and ask her questions. What a blast that will be.
Okay, what do you think about our Abigail? What details did I miss about her character and response. Do you agree with what she did. How do we take her example and apply it to our modern marriages and life?
Next post: What about Nabal? What happens to Abigail and where does this leave David?
SUMers, I could write for days about 1 Samuel, chapter 25. Whoa. There is so much in here. So, get a cup, sit down, strap in, and hold on as we jump in and learn from God’s Word. Hallelujah!
PLEASE go read the chapter, click here for the NIV version. I’m going to be teaching from the NIV as well as the One New Man Bible which is a direct rendering from the Hebrew. Ahhhhh, we are granted a rich and deeper understanding when we look at the original language.
The setting: The books of Samuel are a history of the Priesthood in Israel and the Kings of Israel. It’s the telling of how the people of God left Him as their King and turned to an earthly King. Samuel means heard of God. This was because his mother prayed for a baby and God heard her. Read that story, it’s awesome as well.
Let’s start with the couple we will be reading about today:
Nabal: The Greek meaning from the NIV, fool. Ah, yep we knew it *grin*. Hebrew: Naval, means mean, base, vile, unbeliever. (Whoa, didn’t know that. So interesting.)
Abigail: NIV describes her as an intelligent and beautiful woman. But I LOVE the Hebrew rendering of her name, Avigayil means, My Father rejoices exuberantly. And she is described as a woman of good understanding and beautiful countenance. There is a striking difference here, in that the Hebrew describes her spirit and the Greek describes her physically. Interesting. Personally, I believe her countenance is what provided her with tremendous influence and also favor with God. Her favor with God brought her great understanding and wisdom.
David: In this portion of the story David is an outlaw. Truly, he is being hunted by the King, Saul, who has been abandoned by God. What I find fascinating about David is that he led a band of marauders who ransacked entire towns, killing the people and taking all the spoils. Say WHAT??????
Does that bother anyone else?
Well, let’s add to the understanding. Most of the people of Israel know David. Remember the army watched this 12 year-old-boy defeat the Philistines as David slew Goliath. They knew Samuel anointed him to be King. They knew of his exploits in battle to defeat the enemies of the Crown. And this is all in line with God’s purpose and plans. God still intended Israel to cleanse the Promised Land of the filth of the nations who practiced divination, idol worship, and who sacrificed their own children in the fire to Molech. And if you know anything about this practice, it’s absolutely revolting. Trust me on this.
So, David’s ransacking may not have been an evil in the eyes of God. ---- Doesn’t the Bible really mess with your head?---- That’s a good thing.
Another note I find fascinating is that Nabal is described as a mean, vile, and an unbeliever with whom no one can reason. Wow, I wonder how many of us know people like that??? And in this scenario in 1 Samuel 25 he is living up to his reputation. I wonder, however, how many of us would reject helping someone because a person was an outcast of society, a law breaker, an intentional defiler of all that we adhere to? Dang, I like to ask the challenging questions. *grin*
An overall summary of this passage is David protected Nabal’s men while they shepherded the flocks during the summer. Come fall and harvest, David needed provisions and naturally assumed he would be rewarded for his service. Nabal said, “No way. I’m not giving anything to a gang of fugitives.” Even though he knew David was anointed the next King and was likely aware that he protected his men and possessions.
At the core here is absolute arrogance and greed. And likely a lifetime of little repentance, consequence, nor love for others. People of great wealth rarely face consequence. It's a travesty that leads many of wealth into a poverty of soul.
God is so patient. Even waiting for a man like Nabal to experience a change of heart. Even giving to him a wise and beautiful wife and a life of comfort. The truth surrounded Nabal each and every day. He chose to ignore the truth: David will be King and this future King had protected his possessions and servants. Nabal was selfish and felt untouchable. What is fascinating about this scenario, Nabal was going to die either way.
Now it’s easy to go down this road that my spouse looks like Nabal. Don’t do it. Most of us are married to good men and women who are honorable and love us. Even if we might think they could do a better job of it.
What the real story in the chapter is all about is Abigail. And I can’t wait to talk with you about this woman.
Okay, did I mess with your head looking into the introduction of this story? I hope so, *grin*. What do you think about the Nabal? Why is the Lord sharing so much of this man’s character, his name, his behavior? I really want to hear your opinions. There is wisdom in here. Let Jesus show you. And I’ll see you in the comments. And I can’t wait to chat about Abigail next time.
We need to chat. I realize that we don’t often take on social issues here at SUM as we are trying to focus on our marriages. However, I know that so much of my marriage discord would rise to the surface because of the social climate, politics, and religion.
So, today, I am compelled to talk about what’s happening in America this week. After a long discussion with Caitie, my daughter who is 25, I’ve had to reflect on the tragedy that was the death of George Floyd. I’m grieved over all of it. I’m grieved over his death, the racism, the riots and the looting.
I’ve had to take a look at my heart again in the midst of this mess and ask some difficult questions. My friend, Kathi Lipp, directed me to a great read. I want to share it with you today. Although I don’t have all the answers, this article addresses questions that white people often ask:
The Article: From a Black Friend to My White Friends.
Barb Roose, a Christian, offers some great responses and a good video that will help move all of us forward. Take a minute to visit her blog and read through the article and watch the video. Ask yourself, what does Jesus want me to pray, to do, to feel and to respond to this week’s events and the at the center racism that continues to create division in our country.
Also, ask Jesus how to have conversations with your spouse and your children about this week’s events and the news. Let’s be the change our world needs. Isn’t that what Jesus calls us to do?
I realize that this topic is highly charged on every side. Please share your thoughts in the comments but please be respectfully, use words of love and consideration and always look to Jesus for the truth.
Lynn here. I received the most astonishing email that past week. Julie Nelson wrote to me to share here testimony. I prayed for her in the comments.
Also, I prayed with her in a Healing Prayer Session. And God released her voice. Recently she shared her story about infertility and walking through that struggle with an unbelieving husband. Take a listen and give Jesus glory. The SUMite nation is making a way for so many to experience the love of Jesus. Hallelujah!
Thank you Julie for your faithfulness. Hugs, Lynn
The other day I noticed something new about marriage in scripture. It was like a big flashing light going off in my mind, so I thought I'd share. See what you think of this:
In the Bible there are a few key scriptures about marriage, as we know. But what I noticed this week is that in two of those scriptures (one from the Old Testament and one from the New), it says that your treatment of your spouse determines whether your prayers will be heard.
What a thought!
Here are the scriptures in question, and I've highlighted the parts about prayer:
1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV):
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Malachi 2:12-15 (NKJV):
“May the Lord cut off from the tents of Jacob the man who does this, being awake and aware, yet who brings an offering to the Lord of Hosts.
And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.”
All of this got me thinking: I often have to guard my heart to stay good to my husband in relation to our faith difference. The spiritually mismatched nature of our marriage raises particular challenges that other couples might not have. I have to make sure I don't hold negative attitudes about certain things. I also have to guard my mouth to make sure when I talk about him my words are good words. The bar is high and I'm a total work-in-progress.
The Old Testament passage in Malachi might have been addressing the letter of the law, perhaps physical infidelity; but we go beyond that in the spirit of the law, mirroring God's character and trying to be faithful in wider things, like our words.
This thought takes me meandering back to a moment in 1999, when Bryce and I were getting married. In our heady twenties it was all fun fun fun. But, when we booked in a minister to officiate at our wedding he told us it was his code to give us marriage counselling and we agreed. There was not much that was sensible about the two of us so it was all we could do to stop ourselves losing it in giggles at various points -- Especially when the session turned to the topic of sex. It was all so serious -- Did we really have to be talking about this?!
But, here's the golden question this minister asked us: “What does it mean to CHERISH someone? Your vows include the word cherish. What does that look like?” This man in his sixties knew what he was talking about.
Fast-forward twenty years and here we are living with a faith difference that - if we aren't careful to cherish - could fracture us. Yikes, it's not exactly small stuff. What does it look like now for us to cherish each other?
Here's what my favorite old dictionary says about Cherish: "To protect and treat with affection: to nurture, nurse; to entertain in the mind."
Honestly, I can think of many points where I have not been the shining star at cherishing Bryce. But what I’d like to do is treat him as my most treasured one. This is my heart, so I say 'Help me, God!' My marriage is entwined with the Kingdom. It’s part of that thing I want to seek first. And as I cherish him, then when I march in prayer around my 'Jericho' could it be that those walls of unbelief have a greater chance of falling? The above scriptures suggest perhaps so.
Do you have any thoughts on the concept of cherishing our spouse? We'll chat in the comments!
It’s time for a Donovan Clan update. And well, it’s difficult to share that my amazing husband is still diligently job searching. It’s interesting that when your older, finding gainful employment becomes more challenging.
Hmmmm. And believe me I’ve done so much praying about all of it. I’m convinced I’ve heard the Lord, but His answer appears so impossible, that I can only cling to faith and remain in peace as I wait for the Lord to bring things into reality. And with transparency I'll tell you that it hasn't always been easy.
However, in the waiting we have exhausted our financial reserves. It’s humbling and vulnerable to share that truth. But, this is our real situation.
For over 13 years Mike’s job supported all of the financial needs for the online ministry. But this year, I’m turning to all of you.
I need you.
So, all I can do is share the expenses and ask you to prayerfully consider adopting one and cover it or a portion of an expense for the ministry?
On Tuesday, #GIVINGTUESDAY would you be prepared to give a recurring gift of $5, $10, $15, $25 or $50 a month. This recurring gift will cover the monthly expense for example the monthly expenses of mailing the post emails, $27.00 or the annual renewal of the web hosting $150.00 On Giving Tuesday Facebook and PayPal are matching contributions.
OR consider a one-time donation to apply to the Domain renewal for spirituallyunequalmarriage.com. That expense is $85. I support about nine web domains for various ministries under the Three Keys Ministries umbrella.
So, here are some of the items that are a must for this ministry to continue. All told, annually all the expenses roughly total $6,000.
Web Hosting (largest expense)
Apps to support graphics
Third Party supports for web design and apps
Legal Fees Federal/State
This is not an exhaustive list
It is my heart to help others. I know that is your heart also. We want others to discover what we know, Jesus makes the difference in every way and every area of our lives and marriages.
Today ask Jesus, “What could I give? What could I cover this year? How much could I pour in to help someone on the road behind me?
I’ll share more as Giving Tuesday arrives. But you can give now through the PayPal app in the sidebar of the website. And for all of you who already give, Thank you. Your faithfulness has kept the internet a blaze with hope for the spiritually mismatched.
For those of you who can give… I love you.
For those of you who can’t….. I love you.
Thank you, Jesus as you provide through some of the most amazing believers on the planet. In Jesus name. AMEN
Give generously from your heart not because of guilt. Hugs, Lynn