Hey SUM Family, Tiffany here! I want to get really vulnerable with you today. Sunday was one of my proudest accomplishments. However, it was also one of my hardest days as well. The night before graduation my Jason asked me not to bring my flags to ...

The Key To Lasting Breakthrough and more...

The Key To Lasting Breakthrough

Hey SUM Family, Tiffany here!

I want to get really vulnerable with you today. Sunday was one of my proudest accomplishments. However, it was also one of my hardest days as well.

The night before graduation my Jason asked me not to bring my flags to church the next day. I was crushed! I felt a sting of
rejection rise up in me. Doesn't he love me the way that I am? Doesn't he know how much I love it? Is he embarrassed of me? Thought after thought came swirling in - all trying to pull me down into the pit of despair.

I turned on some worship music in the kitchen as I washed dishes. I wanted to listen to God's voice but I also wanted to Psalm 2756drown out the sounds of crying. I texted a dear friend from church and asked for her advice. She encouraged me that Daddy God is pleased with my enthusiasm but if it were her she would honor his request. I took some time in the kitchen, letting it soak in. I sought the Lord and heard His love for me. He allowed me to see things from my husband's perspective.

My church can be classified as charismatic. We jump, shout, dance, flag, clap, cheer and sing during worship time. It is one of my favorite things about this place. My husband, not so much. He grew up in a more traditional church with organs, choir robes, standing still and quiet singing. I know he doesn't like my church. It makes him really uncomfortable. I (other than his parents who also attended) am the only thing of comfort to him in this unfamiliar place (the kids go to children's program in another room).

Sunday came around and things were a bit awkward for him. I had to be a door greeter so that meant I would be occupied with welcoming people fifteen minutes before and after service started. He went in with his parents into the sanctuary and I could hear the music begin to play. After the first verse or two I could hear shouts of joy, "Yes! Thank you Jesus! Come on!" I began to get nervous. I wasn't there with my family to see how they were handling all of this "noise."

I was completely alone in that little hallway as tears began to roll down my cheek. I was filled with mixed emotions. I was excited to graduate. I was nervous for my husband. I was grateful to God for this amazing accomplishment. I could handle those things. But all of a sudden, I was filled with deep sorrow at my spiritually unequal circumstances.

Oh, how the enemy filled my head with thoughts of regret. I thought about how different life would be "if." Holy Spirit, I love my husband and I love my life. Why am I struggling so badly today?

It was in that hallway that I heard through the chaos of my mind, "PERSPECTIVE."

Family, I have broken through to a new season in my life. I have experienced the endurance of the Lord as I fought to finish papers and assignments. I have seen the strength of God in me as I had to force myself out of comfort zones. My eyes have been opened to purpose and destiny in my life. I have learned what it means to meet Holy Spirit in the secret place. He ushers me in to sweet time with Jesus. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

All the forces of hell are bent toward your failure. When you breakthrough and press on past the boundaries that the devil tries to set for you - it sets him into turmoil! Every effort will be made to prevent your breakthrough from lasting. If he can trick us into believing that it didn't really happen, than maybe we will begin to settle once again.

Let's take a look at these beautiful treasures found in Scripture:

Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound as the glory of the Lord rose from the place where I was standing. -- Ezekiel 3:12

He rescues me from my enemies; He lifts me up high and keeps me out of reach, far from the grasp of my violent foes. -- Psalm 18:48

"Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit." Says the Lord Almighty -- Zechariah 4:6 (paraphrased)

I challenge you today to ask Holy Spirit to reveal to you the breakthrough in your life. Ask Him to show you the triumphs you've seen. I promise you that even in the low seasons, you have truly grown. Don't believe otherwise; not even for a second. You are transforming into the likeness of Christ. You are pressing past the boundaries set by your enemy. You are sending the devil into turmoil. You are strong. You are bold. You are favored. You are blessed.

Let's talk in the comments. What is something you've learned in times of breakthrough? What is some advice you can give to those who are one decision or step away from victory? How can we spur you on and encourage you today?

        

Milestone Made Possible Because Of You

Hey SUM Family, Tiffany Here!

I have some wonderful news to share!

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

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

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

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

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

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

        

Endurance Training

Hi everyone, Ann again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice chatting!

Ann

        

A Road Well Worth It

Hi friends, Ann here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later, tucking the boys in, some childlike wisdom came, sweet and helpful: “Mum, don’t worry about other people. If you like something, you just do it.” Then: “I like Minecraft but it’s not cool any more. I don’t care though, I go with what I like.” Good words fitly spoken. 

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

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

        

Jesus With "Skin on People"

ScaredBy Martha Bush

The young mother tucked her little boy in bed, turned off the lights, and walked out of his room.  It was then she heard him cry out:  “Mom, turn the lights back on; I’m scared of the dark.”  The mother walked back into his room to reassure him.  “Now, son, don’t be afraid, Jesus is here with you.”  To which he replied:  “I know Jesus is in here with me, but I want somebody with some skin on!”

Can we admit that we all have felt that way?  “Yes, I know you are near Jesus, but, I really want someone to pray and study your word with me, someone to sit beside me in church, and most of all, Jesus, I want to talk to someone about how much I love YOU.   That someone is my husband.  Won’t you please tell him to come into the room with me?  I am scared of being in this dark room alone.”

Years have passed since the day I accepted Jesus as my Savior, and my husband still hasn’t shown up in that dark room with me. But, my goodness; how God has blessed me by sending so many Jesus with “Skin On People!"  They brought light into my dark and lonely room!

Allow me to introduce a few of them to you.

1. Jackie:  Always saved a seat for me in church so I wouldn’t have to sit alone.

2.Gerry, Beth, Gloria:  Spent hours cleaning their homes and preparing food for the weekly bible study.  

3. Sylvia, Irene, Susan:  Prophets that God used to give me a prophetic word at times when I thought I couldn’t take another step.

4. Pastor David:  Preached sermons that I know he prepared just for me!

5. Melba, my pastor’s wife:  Gave me opportunities in ministry.  Quite frankly, I had always thought that I couldn’t go into ministry with an unsaved husband. What do I have to offer if the head of my household is not serving the Lord?

And then one day in March, 2011, God showed up with a whole army of people.  It happened like this:

I stumbled upon the book, Winning Him Without Words, by Lynn and Dineen.  In all my many years of being unequally yoke, I had never read a book about the unequally yoked, nor had I been associated with anyone “like me.”  But, God in his perfect timing, introduced me to these two ladies, along with their community of women on their website, Spiritually Unequal Marriage, and later a few more dropped in with the opening up of SUMite Sisters.  And, oh yes, the “man of the hour" on this site - -Ian. What a delight it has been sharing the Lord with him!

I’m not alone in the dark room anymore. – -I’m hanging out with – – Jesus with “Skin On People” from all over the U.S. and world who are “just like me!” I just know that all these people will receive a special reward in heaven one day for being obedient to God, and being there for me all these years.

As for my husband? I don’t know; that is between the Holy Spirit and him. I just know that “God will make everything beautiful in its time.” [Ecc. 3:11]

My dear SUMite friends, I believe that sometimes we grow weary on this journey we are on as a Spiritual Mismatch, and might forget to pay tribute to those who have been there for us to help carry the load.

So, today, I thought it would be nice to take a day off from a lesson from a deep theological standpoint (of which I couldn’t give you anyway) and celebrate and recognize those people. I have already done so within the blog, so what about you?

Who are your Jesus with “Skin On People?”  Take time today, not only to thank God for them, but call or send them a note expressing your appreciation for being with you on your journey.  

For starters, list them in the comment section, and let’s all celebrate together!   

 

        

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