In Our Homes We Are Fresh as a Daisy!

Hi dear friends, Scripture Aug 6

On Monday I talked about a particular feature of our Christian life in our homes: That on the one hand we're engaged in fierce battle against the powers of darkness; but on the other, much of our faith life is about enjoying the abundant life of Jesus by receiving his love and giving out his love. 

It's as if these two things often mix and swirl in our hearts: The battle, but also the delight. They do work together: If we delight in him and rest in him, we become better warriors.

Having thought about all this, I recently made the picture here for our Facebook and Instagram pages. Take a look and see what you think -- I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. It is a scripture about battle but, nudged by the Holy Spirit, I set it amongst a picture of daisies.

Fresh, lovely daisies.

The scripture itself is from 2 Corinthians 10:4:

"The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."

If you look at this picture what does it speak of to you? The idea that our weapons are not weapons of the world can certainly get us thinking afresh. 

Having marinated on this picture myself, here are a few words I've scribbled for us all with the help of the Holy Spirit. I hope these bless you in your battle and delight you as a sweet and precious child of God:

Our weapons are love, intimacy with Jesus, rest, prayer, fasting, delighting in the Lord, and other weapons that don’t look anything like worldly weapons. These are restful Kingdom weapons, just like the yoke of Jesus is easy and his burden is light.

Like daisies we might seem 'common-garden' or ordinary to others, but we are fresh and white, clean and bright in God’s eyes. Oh, how he loves us! Clothed in white like the saints in the Book of Revelation, we know whose we are. Indeed, we are positioned in his inner courts, beside his throne of grace.

Like a daisy, our faith is beautiful and fragrant to him. It is delicate and ever so precious. What’s more, it came from him all along: He clothed us in those robes of white.

And who knew … This delicate and fragrant faith holds more power than we can easily recognize. It is the light of Jesus, and that Light destroys strongholds.

So, like a sweet daisy, keep on stoking your prayer life, dear SUMite. Keep on holding on tight to the hand of Jesus. Keep on resting in him and trusting in him. Keep on reading scripture. Keep going. For, the outworking of all of this is that the Light of Jesus is so powerful that strongholds cannot help but be SMASHED!

Love you loads, Sumites!

Ann


Representing Jesus to Our Families

By Ann Hutchison Unlock with love

Hi SUMites!

I just had a realization that gave me a giggle. I went onto our Instagram page, scrolled down, and realized that I have put so many pictures of weaponry on there. We have at least two sets of boxing gloves … a sword … a spear … a few videos of me talking about hurling stones at Goliath giants .. And then I have a picture of war-planes scheduled for an upcoming post. The reason I laughed, I suppose, is that I'm not particularly like that in other areas of my life. 

I looked at all that battle imagery and thought to myself, ‘Ann?! What's going on?’ 

Well … It could be the times we’re in and what God has been asking us to focus on. Society's godlessness is ramping up. That calls for us to strengthen ourselves in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6). From a personal viewpoint, I've also had to fight so tenaciously for my faith in my marriage that I do feel a bit like a toughened old boot these days. But I also know that to represent God well to others we must hold two things in equal tension: (1) Compassion/mercy on the one hand, and (2) Righteousness/truth on the other. As we learn about these, we sometimes focus on one and sometimes on the other, until we can walk out both things in tandem and represent Jesus well.

Our marriages are a great training ground for that: How to represent the mercy of Jesus, but also stand up for truth. Do you find that as difficult as I do, I wonder?

For months I suppose I've been something like a battle-maiden when it comes to Jesus. I’ve been listening to God about putting away cowardice. I’ve also been engaging more than I used to with the issue of demons. Finally - sadly -- I’ve gone near the realization that some people are truly in rebellion against God, as opposed to, say, being apathetic or on the fence. All of those issues are not ‘meek and mild’ ideas. Rather, they speak to the fact that Jesus often stood up against things and came to destroy the works of the devil, as captured in this scripture:

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 (ESV)

So yes, we've been focusing on battle in this blog lately; but, hey, perhaps we can switch modes now. The fact is, Jesus is so wonderful I want to spend the whole day with him, always! As Lynn said recently, "When you have an encounter of love with God it changes you forever," and it is that experience of Jesus that I want to bring to another person when I represent Christianity -- The kind of delightful experience of Jesus that would unlock their hearts and make them want to fall to their knees. Quote Sep 2

How, how? How do we bring Jesus to others who don't know him? Well, to know our gifts is one great way, so that we can use the strengths God has given us to fulfil his purposes. For example, some of us are great encouragers, others have an interest in praying for healing, others love praying for people. Then we must pursue those things. 

But what about bringing the abundant life to our spouses? That one feels tough because their hearts often seem unready to receive anything we want to say in spiritual terms. What a great topic for us to turn our attention to next, perhaps. I feel a series coming on!

In the meantime, let's chat in the comments -- I would love to hear what you think of any of the above.

Much love,

Ann


Marriage Challenges in the Time of Lockdown

Ann here!
SIlly avocado

I remember a while ago I did a video on how married love is not easy. We promise to take another person to have, to hold, to love, and then to compromise with for the rest of our lives! 

Well, over the last few weeks here in New Zealand we've been in a strict lockdown, and at several points I have thought to myself, "Yikes, this lockdown is not good for our marriage!" 

Bryce and I have a particular 'challenging difference' that has recurred regularly since the day we married. It's this: He is extremely practical on matters of how to do things around the house (e.g., load the dishwasher) and I am extremely not. He cannot help but find the way I do things infuriating; but I cannot change the fact I am naturally slapdash. He gives me ongoing pointers, then I get irritated. We've been at this 22 years now, and it sometimes affects our ability to live together enjoyably. 

This is normally manageable -- I mean, it comes up once every six weeks and we have a moment. But usually we try to adapt. That was until lockdown put us into a confined space together, day in, day out. 

A few days ago, I was scooping out some avocado. It was weeks into the lockdown and I was feeling slightly 'frayed'. Bryce was sitting behind me cheerfully, and out came a pleasant comment: "You know you should be using a spoon to do that instead of a knife? It's far more efficient." Well, that was it. I put the avocado and knife down and ... walked out of the room. All I could think was ... "I need to escape this lockdown and go to Spain. Or be in a darkened room by myself for twelve hours."

I don't know why I thought of Spain, it does sound nice! But the fact is we're stuck in this situation. Further, like that avocado, marriage is a whole, not two halves. And he is my other half. So, lockdown or not, I need to do my best here. 

I read a sweet book on marriage last week by Christian worship artists Jeremy and Adrienne Camp who have all this same stuff. Disagreements, differences. I like reading about marriages with two Christians because I realize those marriages are still full of challenges. Two fleshly, broken humans come together, then have to work it out. Anyway, these two, Jeremy and Adrienne, have a sweet story as she is his second wife after he was widowed. They are heartfelt lovers of God and had put together a book on marriage. Not because they're experts. Rather, because they had a platform and the topic is important. In that book was a little set of questions for our spouse we could ask ... See what you think: In unison

Questions for our spouse

  • What might contribute to your 'getting up on the wrong side of the bed'?
  • What's one thing you wish I'd do more often?
  • What's one thing you wish I'd stop doing?
  • What does a relaxing day spent with me look like to you?
  • When and where do you feel the most peaceful?
  • Do you need more or less 'alone time'?
  • Is there anything you've missed doing since we got married?
  • Is there anything new you wish we would do together?

I liked these. And so I think next time we/I have a silly-avocado moment, I might pull one or two of these questions out, go hang out with my husband, and see if we can find ways of getting through this challenging time in good shape.

Marriage is a funny thing ... Has the pandemic brought challenges to your relationship with your spouse? Looking forward to chatting in the comments!


Need Something New? ASK for it NOW! Lynn Donovan

Mike and lynn Sale SignHello SUMite Nation:

Lynn Donovan here. I want to pass along to you a reminder that today, September 15, 2021, at sundown, Yom Kippur begins. It’s a holy day from ancient times and considered the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament. Through decades of my faith life, I’ve uncovered a profound and consistent pattern occurs around this time of year.

Many things such as relationships, jobs, places of residence and more come to a close in the month of September. This is because God decides what our new assignments are, and they begin to open up in October. So, on this day, pause, even fast. Ask the Lord for the greatest desire, the greatest dream of your heart to become available.

Also ask Him what your new assignment is for the next year.

In early August I heard the Lord say to me that something really, really big is coming this October. Little did I know that it meant Mike and I would be relocating to Washington state. We will live across the river from Portland, OR. God is calling me to great ministry there in the PNW region.

SAY WHAT???

I recorded a video about what I believe the Lord is doing. You can watch it here --> https://vimeo.com/593026468

ALL OF US, have new assignments. And new purposes to fulfill that were written in our book before time began (Psalm 139:16).

Ask the Lord to show you how to bind and loose. How to forgive freely. How to live in a space of rest and peace. Ask Him this question: Father, show me Your heart.

That question alone will change how you do life. How you do marriage.

Okay, I love all of you so much. I’ll be praying for you and your new year. With great love, I carry you in my heart to Portland on October 15th!!!

WAHOO!!  Let the adventures begin.

Q: Do you think the Father will send my Mylar balloons in Vancouver, WA or will it be something new??


Close The Open Doors by Lynn Donovan

FreedomContinuing from the last post. Let’s explore the second reason people lose their healing and freedom following an encounter with Jesus.

  1. OPEN DOORS: Around six-to-eight weeks following a prayer session a person will experience a moment. They stop and think to themselves, why am I feeling like this again. Why am I having these destructive and negative thoughts once more. Why am I back in the middle of this mess. And then finally they will think: Well that prayer session didn’t work. Humph!

What I know for sure is this. Jesus showed up. And He always brings love, healing, truth and freedom. But, we fail to do our part. And our part is two fold. As I mentioned last time, we must put in the hard work of developing our faith life and practices.

But secondly, WE MUST CLOSE THE OPEN DOORS. You see, if we have open doors in our soul, our home, our life and relationships, the enemy has access to come right back in. And if you remember from scripture. When the demonic returns, they bring friends with them.

JESUS SAID: “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” – MATTHEW 12: 43-45

In my experience, seldom do people close the doors. So, below is a video where Ann Maire Mora and I discuss her experience with closing open doors. This effort produces a powerful difference. Please watch it. Below are some common open doors. And if you have generational sin and curses, please sign up for a prayer session with me so we can close those doors.

Basic open doors that need shutting are:

  • Generational sins and curses
  • Any Occult participation: Horoscopes, tarot cards, Ouijas boards, palm reading, black & white majik, etc.
  • Television violence and sex.
  • Gaming violence and sex. Games like Dungeons and Dragons, magic 8 ball (get a prayer session)
  • Free Masonry
  • Trinkets from any overseas temple.
  • Dedications
  • Smart phone applications. Check your children’s phone.
  • Social media can be an open door. What groups of discussions are you entwined?
  • Habitual sin
  • Previous home owners
  • Anything that you brought into your home that may be cursed.

Okay, there is a lot of issues that allow entry into our lives. Jesus can and will quickly identify them. Watch the video and follow Annie's example.

I love all of you so much. Freedom is ours. Blood bought by the expensive and precious blood of Christ. Let us not waste a drop. Hugs, Lynn

For more information about this topic read: My Child Sees Monsters


Why Can't I Keep My Freedom In Christ? By Lynn Donovan

Hi SUMite Family,

I want to share some gained wisdom with you today. As many of you are aware, I have a prayer ministry where I pray with people to help them gain freedom from the enemy strongholds in their lives.

I pray with others to help them uncover the specific areas where the enemy has “legal rights” to their lives, their homes, relationships and faith. We work with Jesus to remove these legal rights and to release them into greater freedom.

I’ve worked with so many different people and one thing always happens in every. single. session. Jesus shows up. Every time. We partner with Him and many find freedom and help.

However, retaining that freedom isn’t easy. Today, I want to share two issues that contribute to a return of oppression.

  1. HARD WORK: To retain the freedom you gained via the Word, through teaching at church, a Bible study, prayer time or a prayer session with me, you must do the hard work.

FreedomI find most people aren’t willing to push forward to read the Word and ACTUALLY put the Word into practice. It takes hard work, determination and time. All of these things are counter to our culture of immediate rewards.

The Kingdom of God requires ALL of these. Hard work, determination and a LOT of time.

Many people truly experience freedom but if they don’t carve out time to pursue Jesus for themselves, the enemy quickly comes by to steel their freedom.

Then he (Jesus) told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” -MATTHEW 13:3-9

The enemy of our souls will devour the seeds if they aren’t nurtured, protected, watered and feed.

Next post: Reason number two.

I love you. See you next time. Hugs, Lynn


Alissa Berglund Salvation Testimony

This week one of our dear SUMites, Alissa Berglund, sent us the following story. This was one of the salvation testimonies we heard of a few weeks ago behind the scenes, and since then Alissa has been writing it up, knowing just how much it will encourage us all. We're so happy for her, and thank you, Alissa, for sharing it!

***

Alissa and AndyMy story is typical, I was raised in a Christian home, accepted Christ early on, started out in my prodigal years in my late teens, married my pre-believing husband in my 20's (hoping he was, but knowing deep down he wasn't saved), had kids, and shortly after God called me back to him. In the fall of 2014, I returned to my faith, and this is where I start my story of being spiritually mis-matched.

After returning to Christ, I tried in my own strength to save my husband. But my efforts were futile, created strife and life got hard fast. Andy didn't want to hear about my faith and in-fact he told me he was agnostic. I had never felt lonelier and more abandoned in what had previously a strong and close marriage. Despite Andy's resistance, he still came to church with me and the kids, his reasoning... "If my family is going, then that's where I want to be". I began to pray and believe Romans 10:17 "So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ". I believed that one day this verse would come true for him.

In 2016 I discovered the SUM community, and it was balm to my soul!! Finally, a group of people who knew what I was going through. I had church friends that tried to sympathize, but unless you are walking through it you just don't know, am I right??

There were moments were Andy engaged more with God and I thought, this it! He's going to put his hand up during an alter call... and then he wouldn't. But despite that, I kept praying, and putting my hope in Jesus that at the perfect time he would awaken Andy and he would believe.

In 2019 I attended the SUM conference hosted by Lynn. I had the most encouraging time, met so many women who filled my cup. God did amazing things, and I came home inspired again to reach Andy, and then we entered the election season, the pandemic, and the civil unrest in our community. Life turned up-side-down.

Going into 2020 and now 2021, between discussions on politics, racial tensions, the pandemic, trying to distance learn our kids, and just hold it all together Andy's heart was gripped by fear and despair, not knowing what truth was or how to find it. It made my husband even harder to reach for Jesus. We talked at-length about how it was that I was able to stay centered and confident in what I knew truth to be, but it always came back to Jesus, and he didn't like that answer.

In late spring of 2021 Andy really started to dig for truth on has favorite platform Tik-Tok. I started to pray over his media asking God to have him "stumble" upon Christian influencers that might cause him to question who Jesus is. Lo and behold it started to happen. Our conversations began to be different we started taking more about who Jesus was, but he still was operating in fear.

At no point did I have any inkling that God was doing something in his heart, but on June 12, 2021, while driving to our family fishing trip Andy gave his heart to Jesus in the car. I of course was driving separately and had no idea what was transpiring until we pulled over for a pit-stop and he pulled me into a hug and told me he had given his heart to the Lord. After nearly 18 years of marriage, and the last 7 being some of the hardest and loneliest God in his perfect timing revealed himself to Andy and he was saved.

It wasn’t an alter call or a big ado… In Andy’s words God “woke him up” and once he saw the truth, he couldn’t deny it.

I am here to encourage you, that God IS doing things in our spouse’s heart that you can’t even fathom. He is a way-maker, miracle worker…. Even when we can’t see it.  

As I’ve walked this road for so long as a SUM, God is now working to re-define my purpose and identity as a wife of a believer. Do not give up… If God called Noah to build a boat for over 100 years, he is calling you to pray and believe for your spouse for as long as it takes.

***

I'm Alissa Berglund from Lakeville Minnesota. My husband Andy and I have been married nearly 18 years and we have two boys, James and Micah who are 9 and 8 years old. 


In the Moment

ID-100231849
Image courtesy of tiverylucky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hello dear friends, Ian from sunny locked down Sydney.

If you’ve followed my recent posts at the beginning of each month there’s been this consistent theme of connecting with God in the ordinariness of our day. For years, I think I often sought God in the big moments, hoping to receive some huge revelation or witness some ecstatic event in a church service. I do believe such moments occur but increasingly, I’ve found that living in the moment, irrespective of what I’m doing, is where I sense God’s presence.

Pleasant Surprises

A couple of weeks ago, I took Dad to an appointment with a new specialist whose clinic we hadn’t visited before. Both of us were a little anxious because of not knowing what was in store. As we walked into the waiting room, I said quietly, ‘Lord, you are here.’ Immediately, I relaxed as a I pictured Jesus standing in the room, a big smile on his face, inviting us to come in and sit.

We were thirty minutes early (Dad’s insists on it) which the receptionist reminded us when we sat down. But we weren’t sitting for long as Dad was ushered into the scanning room for his ultrasound. That was soon over and immediately the surgeon appears and ushers us into his room for the consult. That didn’t last long either and we were out thirty-five minutes after arriving, so we were finished up five minutes after our appointment was due to start.

This doesn’t usually happen. It’s incredible how much of a relief it is for both Dad and I.

A week or so later, we had a similar experience with Dad’s Eye Surgeon. An appointment that usually takes between one and two hours was all over within forty minutes. Once again, Dad had to have scans, followed by a consult before having an injection in his eye for macular degeneration (Dad says it doesn’t hurt). We get moved around from room to room and each time we moved I just pictured Jesus walking with us.

Afterwards, Dad was so positive and contented which was a bonus. He happily shared with others on getting back to the nursing home how pleased he was with the appointment.

Vine and Branches

We’re all probably familiar with the vine and branch analogy Jesus speaks about in John 15 in his words on abiding with Him. I’ve lingered on it for a few weeks. God is the vine and we are the branches. We are always connected to the vine; God is right with us at every moment.

We can only produce fruit that’s important to God unless we remain in Him:

“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” (John 15:4 NIV)

Read that verse a few times.

For years I’ve wondered how one ‘remains in God (the vine)’. Do we have to do anything special? Increasingly, I feel it’s just acknowledging His presence with us. Saying something like, “Lord, you are here” or “God, I abide with you” at any moment is a wonderful way of simply being with Him.

Even when I sin (again and again) I now make a point of not shying away from God but acknowledging my sin, asking forgiveness and saying I now abide with you. Do it now, not wait for my night time prayer or next day prayer.

You know how you start chatting with your partner and you sense there’s something wrong or you might in trouble? I’m beginning to invite God into the exchange by stopping to acknowledge Him in my mind. I find when I do this, I have greater patience and am less likely to get flustered or angry or frustrated. This doesn’t happen all the time but I’m discovering how in connecting to God’s love, I’m filled with more of it for my partner.

If you haven’t already may I encourage you to keep inviting Jesus into your day repeatedly.

Grace and peace, dear SUMite friends


An Unusual Prayer

Happy Monday, SUM family!  Last week on our Facebook page I did a video about an evangelist's wife who once prayed this prayer: Help me love my husband more, but help me be less 'in love' with him!

Is that a good prayer to pray? Well, take a listen to this video about her story, see what you think, and perhaps we'll chat in the comments!