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On Monday registration opens for the LIVE Zoom study of the Book of James. This is a five-week study of the entire book. This book is all about practical faith. Ann and I will be teaching this study for five consecutive weeks. Martha is writing a few questions for our homework assignment. This will help to flesh out the lessons in our daily life!
Bring your Bible, your hunger, your pen and paper. Have coffee ready to go because I talk fast!!! grin
Check in here on Monday, August 15th and sign up. It will only take a minute. After you register, the Zoom link will be provided. Plan to copy and store it somewhere to be ready when it's time to meet up.
We will have a great time of community and learning!
Jesus is King! Hugs, Lynn
Hello, Ian here. Fiona and I planted a lemon tree two or three years ago. And this year, we discovered we had some fruit, tiny green lemons. The yellow comes later. Gradually they grew a bit more each day, week and month. And then the colour began to change from green to yellow. That took months too.
Recently we picked them. Almost fully yellow lemons. We juiced the first one and it was nice and tart as a good lemon should be.
Productivity and Fruitfulness
We live in a world where achievement is highly recognised and rewarded. From an early age we are encouraged to be better, do better and achieve much in whatever field we choose to follow. It’s very hard for us to get away from wanting to keep up with the joneses. Even in things like our marriages and our children, it is very easy for us to compare ourselves and want to achieve great success in our marriage, the be the best wife or husband and for our kids to be the star student, athlete, and cheerleader. As parents, we can be exhausted simply meeting the demands of all the extra-curricular activities we take our kids to after school and on weekends.
The world and often the church tells us this is the best life. When we’re being highly productive and achieving much whether in secular activities or within the church.
Remember, Jesus invites us to take His ‘easy yoke’, to settle into His ‘unforced rhythms of grace’ (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG). Also, the image of Mary resting at the feet of Jesus as her sister Martha keeps busy preparing the sumptuous meal for the gathering. Jesus invites us to abide, to intentionally choose to hang out with Him, in such a way that we discover how to be conscious of His presence throughout a day.
Jesus is less interested in our productivity as it is all about what we’re doing. On the other hand, He hopes in us choosing to abide with Him and discovering how to do life with that ‘easy yoke’, we will become fruitful. Fruitfulness is all about who we are becoming.
We Become what We Do!
We are creatures of habit and daily rhythms, even if they’re highly structured/planned or completely disorganised. We become what we do. Our soul is being fed all the time by what we behold and what we do. That’s why there are so many books on understanding how habits and the disciplines that consume our day.
Jesus doesn’t ask us to bear fruit. The fruit will come because of sticking with Jesus. This is the crux of the vine/branch analogy of John 15:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5 NIV UK)
We bear fruit because we abide.
It Takes Time
Lemons take a lot of time before being ready to pick and juice. Bearing fruit takes time too. We’ve got to be prepared to hang out with Jesus. He will feed us with everything we need to bear fruit. Just like the lemons needed to hang on the branch for a couple of years. If they dropped off too quickly, they wouldn’t have grown or become juicy or tart.
Be patient. We will become the ripe lemon only if we continue to stay with Jesus.
Extend grace to yourself. Don’t rush it. It’s not like we can take a pill and suddenly be a great lemon full of juice. Jesus’s way is gentle. That’s the easy yoke. Like the growth of a lemon, it comes from the inside and is reflected in the peace, love, joy, kindness, goodness, patience and self-control we begin to experience. Similarly, our loved ones and others will see the fruit in us too.
I thought I’d leave us with this very apt quote from C.S. Lewis:
“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol [and now diesel and electricity], and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself.”
Grace and peace, dear friends.
Once in a while my children will say or do something that blesses my spirit beyond words. When those moments happen it feels as if God is saying, “See? They ARE learning! And you are doing a good job!”. One of those moments came a few weeks ago with my seven year old daughter.
First, let me give you a little back story. My husband has been an atheist for almost 11 years. Of course as children get older they notice that daddy does not pray or come to church and they start asking questions. That is around the time my husband will have a talk with them about what he believes. This was something I REALLY struggled with at first. I had to pray many times about how I was supposed to handle it! I felt that God told me it was important for Hubby to feel heard and respected. So I simply cover my children in prayer and put on their armor, I pray for their ears and hearts to be protected during the conversation, and I give it all to God.
The time came for this talk with our daughter a few weeks ago when she randomly asked Hubby why he does not believe in God. He asked me to leave them alone so they could talk about it so I stepped out (you all can just imagine how hard that was!!). I felt as though I was holding my breath the entire time. I whispered prayers over their conversation and tried to keep myself busy until it was over. They came out of the room calm and in good spirits. I did not press for any details and our evening went on as usual.
When it came time for bed my daughter said something to me that really was wise beyond her years. She said, “I think daddy doesn’t believe because he forgot his miracles. Hasn’t he seen miracles? YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THE MIRACLES!”. She continued on about miracles we have seen and how important they are to remember. My heart was so full of joy that night!
The practice of remembering miracles is something I have been trying to teach my kids for a few years now. Whenever we pray for someone, or for something to happen, I tell them to watch for it and remember to thank God when it comes to pass. It does not matter if it’s big or small, we try our best to remember and give thanks. I think this is something we all need to put into practice, and teach our children! It gets them excited and involved in prayer, as well as strengthen their faith.
During those times when our faith may be wearing thin, or when we are in the thick of battle, we MUST remember our miracles! Holding on to what God has done for us in the past can help sustain us when we feel like we cannot go on! Remembering our miracles can feel like sunlight bursting out of darkness, or water when we are in the driest desert. Remember becoming a parent? Remember the time you (or a loved one) were sick and then healed? Remember getting married? Being freed from depression or anxiety? Finally finding the right doctor or the right medication? Making a new friend? Just getting up in the morning?! These are our miracles! Hold on to them! Thank God for them! If we focused on our miracles daily we would find ourselves living with an attitude of gratitude every day! We would be filled with peace and joy, and our faith would be strengthened. So, lets do it!
What are some miracles you would like to share? Leave them in the comments, I would love to read them!
Hi SUM family, it's Ann here.
I'm on holiday at the moment in England, where I've been visiting my parents in my home town (Reading), and attending my brother's wedding. I have one more week here before flying back to New Zealand. It's been special to be with my family.
I am finishing off this post with my Mum pottering in the next room. That's nice huh!
Now for today's post:
Today I had a catch-phrase I wanted to share -- It's something that we can speak out when feeling battered by others' unbelief. The catch-phrase is this:
I'm not going to let anyone steal my crown!
Perhaps we can even take a moment to speak that out right now, in fact, before continuing to read? Here we go: I'm not going to let anyone steal my crown!
The back story to that phrase is this:
I know there are some here who became unequally yoked because their spouse used to be a Christian, but then lost their faith. In many of those cases your spouse's faith was real, even vibrant, but now that same spouse lives in unbelief. You now hear from their mouth all the many reasons they choose not to believe.
I know a little of what's that like as I used to work with a man who lost his faith, having previously been on fire for Jesus. This man was a clever man, and he would share with me on many occasions the various reasons why he had chosen to walk away from Christianity. After spending time with this man I would often feel embattled.
God would show me all over again that Christianity is true. Nevertheless that man's voice was in my ear on a regular basis. So, which voice was going to be louder: God's or this man's?
A friend who was very strong in his faith knew I had this challenge and decided to send me some words of wisdom. They were such on-point words that I wrote them down at the time. I was greatly helped by them, and discovered them again this week so thought I would share them here.
Perhaps these words are especially for you today if you're one of those whose spouse lost his/her faith. Here goes:
"Don't let anyone steal your crown.
You sit in the heavenly realms with the Lord (Ephesians 2:6); you've been lifted. So it is that you remember the incredible position of authority and respect you have right now, and in the next life as well, even if some people have forgotten their position or have chosen to lower themselves after having once been elevated."
Amen to that. For the Bible does speak of us inheriting a crown, or crowns, and phew it will be quite the inheritance. We must hold onto it like crazy, not letting the unbelief of another person steal it from us.
In that spirit, then, let's look at the scriptures about the crown that is laid up for us:
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away (1 Peter 5:4, NIV).
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8, NIV).
Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown (Revelation 2:10, ESV).
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12, NIV).
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:25, NIV)
If you would like prayer for perseverance today -- That is, if you are feeling battered by the unbelief of those around you and need prayer to keep going, leave a note in the comments and we'll pray for you.
You will be in awe and wonder when you hear what happened. 3 pm pacific time, on Facebook, and YouTube.
See you soon. Lynn
On Wednesday, August 3rd at 3 pm, on Let's Talk LIVE, I'm going to share a salvation story that happened in my own living room. This story has a component of the supernatural and Holy Spirit. And what appeared to be a person totally against faith.
You will want to tune in and hear this story. Because my testimony opens the door for the salvation of those you think are impossible.
I can't wait.
You can find the broadcast at Spiritually Unequal Marriage Facebook Page, Group, and on the YouTube page.
We are going to laugh, cry, live in awe and praise our Lord Jesus. See you then. Hugs, Lynn
We were sent this amazing story of how one husband turned to Jesus after many years of his wife waiting. We are so grateful to Yvonne Swarbrick for sharing it -- it is her story. Read, meet Yvonne, and be encouraged:
"I became a Christian in 1985 , the Lord had been calling me a long time because I could trace back through my life when I had tried to find Him. I wasn’t aware I was searching for Him till I found him and a lot of people realize this after they become Christians.
I watched a program on TV called This is The Day one Sunday morning. Me and my two daughters were getting ready for a birthday party on a canal boat, it was a Sunday. In the program there was a short sketch of the crucifixion. The tv was on in the background and I only glanced at it but it got my attention like it always does when I watch the crucifixion.
We got ready to go out and I couldn’t stop thinking all day about what I’d seen on that program. I remember as we walked down the street I felt as if something was happening to me.
That night when I got home I searched the house for a Bible. I found one but couldn’t make any sense of it. The next day I went to the library and found a book in the beliefs section called 'New Life, New Lifestyle'. I stayed up that night very late and read the whole book. There was a prayer in the middle of the book about giving your life to God and asking him to come in. I prayed the prayer and went to bed thinking nothing had happened, but as the days went by I realized I was changing.
My outlook on life changed, I had this thirst to read the Bible, I had this love in me I’d never had before. I was bursting with joy and I drove everyone around me mad.
Three months after we found out my hubby Ray had Multiple Sclerosis (MS). We'd had no idea up till then there was anything wrong. They told us not to worry and take things a day at a time. Boy was I brought back down to earth! We were in shock, I knew how bad MS could get. I knew a lady that was seriously disabled with it and I immediately thought of her. I was angry with God at first but eventually I realized He had come to my rescue. Ray would have been diagnosed and I would have felt worse if the Lord hadn’t come in to my life.
I tried to tell my hubby about the Lord but he didn’t get it. He didn’t say he was an atheist he was more of an agnostic like I had been. My friends at church encouraged me to start praying for him so I did.
Our daughters were 3 and 5, it was a busy time and we just tried to carry on as positively as possible.
Seven years later when our eldest daughter was 12 she was diagnosed with type-one diabetes and we nearly lost her as she was rushed into hospital in an emergency.
They stabilized her and she had to learn to inject herself. It felt traumatic again. More stress. I ended up with depression and anxiety. Trying to cope with my hubby deteriorating in front of me and now my daughter. Then on top of that I had Christians saying you shouldn’t get depressed as a Christian. I have since learnt a lot about anxiety and depression.
In 1996 we had to have some alterations done and moved out of the house. Ray went into a disabled unit at the hospital while it was done and we stayed with friends.
When I visited him one night he said "I think I will come to church on Sunday with you" and I was amazed! It came suddenly right out of the blue, I’d had a word from someone saying it would happen suddenly. I couldn’t believe it! I had been praying for twelve years and others alongside me.
Ray came to church that Sunday and gave his life to the Lord. It all seemed to happen so fast. I saw him change in front of me, he became alive like he’d never been before. His whole face changed, his smile changed. He started singing in the car with me and he’d never sang in all the years I’d known him!
We became intimate on a different level, we had eye contact we’d never had before and we’d been married 26 years! Then he said he wanted to renew our marriage vows as Christians, it was so beautiful. We had our ceremony and he told the congregation that he was happier than he had ever been in his life even though he was in a wheelchair with MS. We were on cloud nine, we fell in love all over again, it was a most wonderful time.
We had a few years of feeling blissful but the disease got worse and worse. We both got a bit beaten down with it. He retreated back into his cave and I think he was protecting me. It became harder to get him to church. I was really disappointed because I thought the Lord was going to heal him. And then we got another diagnosis of leukaemia, it was a leukaemia you could have treatment for so he started the treatment.
That was another devastating blow but we held onto God and hoped the treatment would work. He did very well, he lasted six years after the diagnosis. He died in 2016, not healed but healed spiritually and he’s with the Lord now.
I was disappointed and confused because I really believed God was going to heal him, because of the transformation of God entering his life and seeing the massive change.
But the most important thing is that he found the Lord, he had joy for a few years and I hope that made up for all the pain he went through.
I’m writing this to encourage anyone that’s praying for their hubby. Keep praying and don’t give up. I never thought it would happen. One thing I didn’t share was someone gave me a word a long time before he got saved. They said "love him into the kingdom so I tried my best." I didn’t always manage it though! God bless all you ladies and men out there.
Yvonne Swarbrick became a Christian in 1985, she has two daughters aged 42 and 40 and three grandsons aged between 10 and 14. Now retired, she spends her time singing in a gospel choir, which she loves, and doing art, especially painting with watercolors, as well as other crafts. She recently found our community and was keen to share this part of her testimony with us.
Lynn Donovan here. While Ann is traveling, I'm going to pop in and take the reins for a few weeks. So here is what I have planned.
First, on Wednesday, August 3rd at 3 pm pacific time, I'm LIVE on Facebook and YouTube to talk about some miraculous salvations. This talk is to explain what happened and how after 30-year friendship, Jesus shows up. AND the Holy Spirit went wild. It's a fantastic and unbelievable story that includes the supernatural.
The following Wednesday, August 10th, I have another salvation story that still blows my mind. I'm sharing these stories because they release hope into your life for the salvations you are waiting for. YOU WILL BE IN AWE! Because Jesus is on the move and He uses ordinary people, like us!
MARK YOUR CALENDAR! DON'T MISS IT!
Next Ann, Martha Bush, and I will be leading a LIVE video teaching of the Book of James. This book is all about Practical Faith. You MUST have this down to advance into greater faith practices. After this teaching, you should be able to teach this book at your church, home group, your kids, etc. More details ahead. Begins second week of September. And it will include homework. Ya, it takes work to enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
You will be blessed. I promise.
Additionally, I'm pondering about doing some live teaching through Lynndonovan.com regarding healing. Physical healing that comes from Christ. I'm still pondering about when, how and if I have the capacity to handle all of this while still settling into our new home.
I wanted to share with all of you one of the great blessings that Father has given to me in our new home.
I love nature. And here where I live the deer roam the streets, nearly unafraid of humans.
The other evening, I was walking from the kitchen toward our bedroom and happened to glance outside our dining room window toward the front yard.
This is what I saw:
A doe resting under the tree, eating her cud. She stared at me. I at her. I smiled.
I'm so thankful that Father has provided this haven for Mike and myself. A lifetime of faithfulness is seen in His goodness.
One of our SUMites, Gladys Rosario Arias, made this video for us all today, we loved it. Thank you, Gladys!