Get Back to Basics -- Guest Post by Lisa MacFarland

Hello, my name is Lisa MacFarland and I’ve been in a SUM relationship for 35 years. I have been
following the Spiritually Unequally Marriage ministry for over 10 years and I am so privileged and
honored to be a guest writer. I pray that you are encouraged by this post as much as I was when writing it. Thank you for the opportunity to share. Lisa Macfarland

Over a year ago, I wrote the phrase, “get back to the basics” and posted it on my desk corkboard at work. Lately, this phrase has been weighing heavier on my heart; sensing a strong need to get back to the basics. In many churches of today, I feel we confuse experiencing God’s love in a raw, basic way. Churches create chaos with so many programs, beautiful features, incentives, themes and hoopla to get people into the doors of church or to keep them engaged. People leave church with lessons on
forgiveness or who God is but they are still empty.

Individually, we cram our own lives with constant activities, to dos, and overall chaos so we don’t have to stop and face what might be really going on in our lives. Sadly, this keeps us from truly experiencing God’s love. We miss finding our identity in Christ, true joy, and our authority given to us as heirs to the throne. This lifeless chaos will cause many to lose their passionate heart connection with Christ, missing out on the blessings He wants to give us.

Between the world, our churches, and ourselves, we can find ourselves remaining in a cycle of brokenness that keeps us from a deeper, more authentic connection with the Lord. Our hearts and mind need to be cultivated into fertile soil to that the roots of our salvation grow deep and strong. When spiritual battles; storms of life come, and they do and will, WE WILL NOT BE SHAKEN!

Revelations 2:5: So remember where you were before you fell. Change your hearts and do what you did at first. If you don’t change, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Colossians 2:6-7: You accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, so continue to live following him. You must depend on Christ only, drawing life and strength from him. Just as you were taught the truth, continue to grow stronger in your understanding of it. And never stop giving thanks to God.

John 15:9-11: I have loved you as the Father has loved me. Now continue in my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commands, and he continues to love me. In the same way, if you obey my commands, I will continue to love you. I have told you these things so that you can have the true happiness that I have. I
want you to be completely happy.

I know my heart longs to get back to the foundation upon which our salvation is rooted. I don’t want to just go through the motions, or get stuck in a cycle of busyness but I want to get back to the fundamental basics and cultivate my heart soil through daily prayer, reading God’s word, serving, and
sharing my story. Even when we don’t feel like it, keep showing up and eventually you will experience
breakthrough of peace, authentic joy, and deep connection with God. It’s then that God can truly bless us with the fullness He created us for.

About Lisa: I’ve been married for 35 years and together with my husband, Cameron, for 36 years. Funny story…met my husband in a bank robbery! I was a bank teller that was held up and he was my knight in shining armor, aka, police officer that responded. 😊 We have 4 adult children, 1 grand baby and 2 more on the way! And I can’t forget about my empty nest 10-year-old puppy, Marley, a Chihuahua in a Rottweiler’s body, haha. I mostly was a stay-at-home mom but then started working for my church over 20 years ago as the Lead Pastor Assistant and, a few years ago, I took over as Finance Director too. I was born and raised in church, started out in a Pentecostal Assemblies of God and now the church I’m part of is Southern Baptist. I love to read, crochet, walk, swim, fish, kayak  and just plain relax. After raising 4 children, I’m finally getting to enjoy all of it. 😊


A Snapshot of Our Community

Dear SUMites Our church

We often describe ourselves as a church without walls -- Isn't it amazing how we manage to gather like this online? I love it!  Anyway, today I wanted to tell you a little bit about who is in our church.

As you know, we did a SUM community survey recently. Reading through those responses it was so good to see your names and a little more about your lives. 

So I thought you, too, might like to hear a little more about who your friends at SUM are. Below, I'll share a few of the questions we asked in the survey, and what the answers were.

Where does our community live?

All over! Most (70%) live in the USA, followed by a decent proportion in Europe. We have a smaller number in Australia and New Zealand, and some in Africa.  I can't express how much I love that spread -- it's so beautiful. 

And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations (Matt 24:14, NKJV)

How did our SUM community members become spiritually mismatched?

Here's what our community said:

My spouse lost their faith: 6%

I became a Christian after marrying: 27%

I thought my spouse was a Christian before marrying, but perhaps they weren't: 20%

My spouse and I have experienced different rates of spiritual growth to each other: 6%

I married a non-believer: 36%

Other: 5%

There is such a range of stories there and each of the above has its own distinct challenges, but I hope it makes you feel less alone seeing that there are at least some out there with the same story as you.

Do our spouses attend church?

About 20% of spouses do attend regularly, and a further 22% occasionally. But the rest don't, so if your spouse never attends with you, you're in good company.

How many of our spouses say they're Christian?

I was surprised by this one: 30% of spouses actually do say they're a Christian, which means that the couple is mismatched even though both are nominally Christians. The rest of the spouses, of course, don't yet say they're Christian, and we do know that quite a few spouses currently say they are atheist. I say 'currently' on purpose. These things change.

Are the spouses supportive?

Here's what our community said: 

A lot: 30%

Moderately: 40%

A little: 20%

Not at all: 10%

Again, I hadn't realized so many were that supportive. But clearly there is a need for our ministry even if an unbelieving spouse is supportive. The loneliness of the walk likely makes it so. For those whose spouses are not yet supportive I am praying for you specifically right now.

What kinds of churches do we attend?

Our community attends all kinds of denominations. The most prevalent is non-denominational or Baptist. After that, about 10% attend protestant denominations (Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, Church of Ireland), 10% Pentecostal, and about 10% don't currently attend church.

How long have our people been with us?

About 15% of our readers found us less than a year ago. If that's you, welcome! This tells us it's important that we keep writing about some of those common issues such as attending church alone and raising kids in faith. However, almost half of our readers have been with us for more than five years, and many for more than ten years. Amazing! We are a community that has been together a long time.

And finally.... What does our community look like, faith-wise?

This last section really opened my eyes. We asked two questions here: Do you have regular time alone with God, and how often do you read the Bible? The vast majority of our readers said they spend daily time alone with God, and daily time reading the Bible.

That tells us something about our specific church. We are not lukewarm, we're the opposite. We are all passionate followers of Jesus Christ, and that's exactly why we need this ministry and why we gather here.

**

My friends, there's more to the survey and I'll share more eventually, but I hope that gave you more of a picture of who's here. 

What else would you like to know about us and this community? Pop any questions in the comments and I'll answer them.

We all love you!

Ann (and team)


I Have Gifts for You!!!

Giving_Tuesday 2022Friends, Lynn Donovan and Ann Hutchison here:

Do you have a mountain that MUST MOVE? (see below)

And did you find a word of hope or encouragement here in the past year? Did you discover some aspect of faith and connection with God that was new and helpful. Did you stop in and read a truth, find your heart touched by love, did you have a prayer time that changed things? Do you feel less alone in this journey?

Only once a year we bring finances before our community. It takes about $7,000 annually to pay the expenses. 

That's A LOT! 

So, Today on Giving Tuesday would you consider a one-time gift to further the ministry into 2023? More, would you consider a recurring gift.

Here is the giving breakdown and how I'm giving back to you.

Any gift of any amount and you are invited to the Zoom teaching: Five Truths Vital to every spiritually mismatched marriage. Over 30 years these are the five things we MUST know to thrive in these marriages. Donate and you are invited to the live teaching or the video.

If you give more than $100 or sign up for a recurring monthly gift, you receive a monthly email with a Ministry/Donor Update. You catch a glimpse of the behind the scenes in the ministry. I typically share the planned future training, upcoming events, some of the ministry efforts that happen that we don't write about.

AND ....If you give a one-time gift of $100 or more or create a monthly recurring gift, you will be invited to the training in January. This will cover Mark Chapter 11. Moving our mountain. I've truly learned what this passage is all about and how it's true for us now, today!

Who could do with a prayer powerful enough to move a mountain? Below is the link to give. From there you can make a one-time donation or a recurring, monthly gift. 

Donate Button

This link takes you to our not-for-profit processor, Square. 
From there you can make a one time or recurring gift. Thank you.


Give Thanks

Hi SUM Nation,

Lynn here. Take time this week to sit alone with the Lord. Write down all the good that came into your life because of His love and kindness. Thank Him for His faithfulness.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, Ephesians 1:3

Father, thank you for your goodness, faithfulness, and love. Thank you for Jesus who by His stripes heals me and my family. Thank you for every time you intervened to save me from disaster and deception. Thank you for the love of family. Thank you that you are present and care deeply about my life. I love you Love. I am humble. I am thankful. In Jesus name. AMEN

Thanksgiving 2022


Congratulations Tiffany

Hello SUMite Warriors,

Lynn Donovan here. Today I have a great honor.

Tiffany Carter 2022I'm standing in a profound moment. Because the Lord has promoted one of our own. I'm utterly thrilled to announce that our SUM writer, Tiffany Carter has some tremendous news. I'll share what she texted the team a few weeks ago:

Look at God!!! I need a lot of prayer. I've been appointed by the Governor to serve on the Nebraska Library Commission?! Like what? Is this real?!

It's real and I'm so proud of the work Tiffany has done to protect children from the evils that are encroaching on our children's education. 

Listen in as Tiffany shares:

 

Today, we congratulate her and release her from ministry here. She will be too busy in the future. We also bless and launch her forward into this new season, which is part of her divine destiny.

Would you please join me and bless and congratulate Tiffany in the comments today. 

My blessing: Jesus, in Your powerful name we stand behind Tiffany in her efforts to bring your truths to our children. Walk with her and her family as she will surly encounter opposition. Build her passion and faith to never waver in her message. We bless her with all resources, courage, energy and family support. Let her work have lasting impact on the many generations that follow. Keep her heart on fire for you and filled with love and your holiness. I pray and bless Tiffany and her family. In Jesus, Your name. Amen.


It's Ann's Birthday

Ann BirthdayLynn Donovan here.

How many of you have been touched by Ann this past year? I know I have. She pours so much time into this ministry. She truly loves this community and all of you who meet up here. She is moved by your life and is genuine to encourage you forward in faith.

She is special. So, can you leave a quick birthday message for her here today in the comments?

I know she will be touched. Thank you. 

Ann and I will be back at the end of the month after the Thanksgiving festivities here in the US. See you then. Hugs, Lynn Donovan


And Onwards We Go!

Dear friends Bible and clock

Well, we’ve reached the end of our How I read my Bible series. I hope you enjoyed it. I always say 'God made us each as unique as a snowflake'!

Some of us have a special place where we curl up to read each day …

Some of us have a favorite book of the Bible …

Some of us have a creative method we use …

And as we read, we encounter God.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)

Ahh..

Well, with that wrapped up I'd now like to share some ministry updates:

The team is going to take a couple of weeks off while our American SUMites enjoy their Thanksgiving season. We’ll pause the ‘Let’s Talk Live’ videos too, restarting early December.

While off, I'm going to be doing some planning and praying using the feedback from the SUM community survey. I want to say a huge thank you for completing that survey and sharing your hearts with us. It painted a picture of who we are writing for, and I have to say I shed a few tears reading the responses and getting to know you a little. Sometime next month I’ll share a little more about the demographics of our community, and a summary of what our survey showed us. I think you'll find it interesting like I did.

Well, that’s all. To our USA SUMites, have a wonderful thanksgiving. To the rest of you, stay standing! And we’ll see you - fresh and raring to go -- when we're back.

Ann and the team


How I Read my Bible - Tiffany's Favorite

How I read my Bible 2Hey SUM Family, Tiffany here!

I love seeing how other people read their Bible. I have seen some things that I would really like to try! Isn't it great how together we sharpen one another! ::grin::

I have talked before about the power of praise. I love to listen to worship songs and praise God with my voice and dance. So, it is no surprise to me that Holy Spirit gave me the idea "Connecting Verses" several years ago.

The idea is to take worship music and use it as a "blueprint" if you will to search the Bible.  Connecting Verses is a place where music and scripture collide.

I've noticed that the more I would dig into scripture, especially the Psalms, the more that I would be reminded of songs as the words would "leap off the pages."

Last week, I was able to carve out some worship time with my kids. My husband was out for the evening. I put on worship songs and encouraged the kids to read their Bibles or worship with flags. My daughter, she went to singing and dancing. My son, sat on the couch with his Bible.

I felt directed to lead Easton to the Psalms. After a while, as I laid down on the floor with my Bible opened, my son came and laid on the floor next to me with his Bible. As I was flipping through the Psalms, Easton looked at my Bible and said, "This one is my favorite Psalm." I said, "Oh? Psalm 40?" I looked at the verses on the page:

1I waited patiently for the Lord; Connecting Verses Collage
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.

In the margin of my Bible, I had written: Hillsong Worship - Jesus Lover of my Soul. I said, "You know Easton, there is a song that I loved growing up about these verses in Psalm 40. At the time I couldn't remember the tune so I looked it up on YouTube. As soon as the music began, I instantly remembered. I sang it over my kids as they laid their heads on my lap. It was one of the most beautiful moments I've had with my children. I have had moments like this when they were smaller. But now, there is something so sweet when children are at that age when they know how to read, they know how to process the moment, and will remember these times.

What I think will be really fun, is if we work through a song together. Meditate on the song, "I Am Not Alone" by Kari Jobe (Click the song title for a lyric video).

When I walk through deep watersI know that You will be with meWhen I'm standing in the fireI will not be overcomeThrough the valley of the shadowI will not fear
 
I am not aloneI am not aloneYou will go before meYou will never leave me
 
I am not aloneI am not aloneYou will go before meYou will never leave me
 
In the midst of deep sorrowI see Your light is breaking throughThe dark of night will not overtake meI am pressing into You
 
Lord, You fight my every battleOh, and I will not fear
 
I am not aloneI am not aloneYou will go before meYou will never leave me
 
I am not aloneI am not aloneYou will go before meYou will never leave me
 
You amaze meRedeem meYou call me as Your ownYou amaze meRedeem meYou call me as Your own
 
You're my strengthYou're my defenderYou're my refuge in the stormThrough these trialsYou've always been faithfulYou bring healing to my soul
 
I am not aloneI am not aloneYou will go before meYou will never leave me
 
I am not alone (no)I am not aloneYou will go before meYou will never leave me
 
I am not aloneI am not aloneYou will go before meYou will never leave me
Listen to the song, meditate on the words. Ask the Holy Spirit to recall to your mind verses that match the lyrics. If you are not able to recall from memory, do an online search. I like to type in part of the lyric and add "Bible" to the search. For example: "Bible You will never leave me". Scroll through the search results and write down the scripture verses next to the song verses.
 
Let's discuss this song in the comments. How amazing to study the Bible and interact together using this song as a study guide. I can't wait to see what you come up with. Let's worship the Lord together today in spirit and in truth. I'll post one in the comments for an example.
 
Be blessed!