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14 entries from July 2018

Seasons in Life

Images-5Hello, Ian from Sydney here.

“Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.” (Luke 5: 3-6 ESV)

The disciples were experienced fishermen. They knew the lake of Gennesaret intimately having fished it for years. We’re told they fished all night and caught nothing. And this relative newcomer whom they knew to NOT be a fisherman tells them to cast their nets out again. What would he know?  

A Love Affair

Jesus did and said things differently. He came with a message of love. A message that focused on the heart, the core of our humanness. When challenged by a Pharisee to identify what was most important, Jesus responded with two commands: “Love the Lord you God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-39 ESV abr).

He’s called us into a love affair.

I find it easy to forget this. Especially with the busyness of life there are so many distractions to these two commands. As we all know being in relationships a love affair takes work. Lots of it. From both parties. We very easily get comfortable and settle into a way of life where perhaps the sizzle has diminished and we’re mostly satisfied with how our relationship is motoring along.

I find the same applies to our relationship with Jesus.

And then a bump in the road occurs which adds further distraction. Children come along and demand our attention. Lots of it. Sickness in the family, elderly parents needing caring, job transfers interstate or overseas, etc, etc. And all impact our love affair with our partner. And with our Lord.

Spiritual discernment

Usually when the bumps in the road occur our routines change. Spending that quality time together with your partner suddenly becomes harder. Time passes, perhaps lots of it, and you realise you haven’t had a date night for ages. Similarly, with the Lord. You know He’s always there but you’ve been so busy lately (doing good things) you just haven’t had any time to spend with him. You get to church and in the drive home commit to yourself to spend more time with the Lord in the next week. But, the next week comes and still nothing happens.

A couple of times in the last few weeks I’ve noticed something different in the story of the “burning bush.” Moses had been in the wilderness for forty years. He was going through the motions in life being a good faithful shepherd of his father-in-law’s flock. One day, he was leading the flock and “came to Horeb, the mountain of God.And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn asideto see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”” (Exodus 3: 2-4 ESV)

Moses could have ignored the unusual sight. No doubt it was a little frightening and many of us may have simply fled. But we’re told Moses chose to “turn aside.” God provided the burning bush so Moses could choose to enquire.

Only yesterday, I had an opportunity to spend time with two members of my prayer team. I rarely get to see them face to face as we mostly interact via email. There was a burning bush moment. But I chose to leave as I was tired and wanted to get home. All I had to do was simply enquire. It would have taken fifteen minutes of my time. Here was an opportunity for me to encourage and be encouraged. I knew immediately as I drove away I missed an opportunity.

Often we get caught up in the processes of living the Christian life: prayer times, Bible reading, meeting together, etc, rather than reflecting on how these are purely simply opportunities to allow the Lord to do His work. If we quickly read the required Bible reading for the day before rushing out and don’t spend any time reflecting on it, then we haven’t “turned aside”. We’ve simply gone through the motions. Read less verses and simply allow the Lord to open our eyes to what He might be saying to us.

Burning Bushes in every season

Irrespective of what season we’re in, God is there. He knows that we’re in a season of child-rearing, for example, and how time and energy consuming it is. But choose to believe there are moments when you can “turn aside” to look and He’ll be there. Because He loves us. He isn’t a lover that fails us. He is good all the time.

Sometimes the bush will be far more significant like Moses and the disciples experienced. They chose to “turn aside” and what they received was incredible. Moses heard his name called; the disciples caught a record haul of fish. This was the beginning of a whole new life for them. May we all respond similarly when the Lord opens a door for us.

Have any of you experienced a moment recently when you simply responded to a nudge from the Holy Spirit by turning aside to it and experienced something special?


Who IS Jesus?

Jesus SUM Series 2018Hello My SUMites Friends,

I’m so excited to chat about Jesus over the next several weeks. Sometimes I read the passages in the four gospels and marvel at what is truly offered to us in our human condition through the new covenant. The ideas Jesus taught, and his examples are truly brilliant and life-changing. He was radical and defiant with those of religion. He was kind to the poor and offered compassion and healing to the ailing, lost and broken.

I thought it would be awesome to start off the discussion with a question.

Who is Jesus to you?

What I mean is, how do you relate to Jesus? How do you interact with Jesus?

Sometimes sitting down and writing (in comments) our thoughts creates a beautiful awareness of the fullness Christ brings into our lives. Also, reading how others are interacting in their faith life with Christ is inspiring. Isn’t that why we listen to testimonies? They are accounts of the Lord interacting in the lives of people.

So I’ll start.

My entire faith life, even as a small girl, I somehow sensed that Jesus was always with me. Even in my years of doubt and fears, He was always there. Perhaps that is because I was raised in church. My mom made certain I attended Sunday school and VBS and the bits of teaching landed on my heart and have always been there. I was baptized at age nine. Grew up in church, learning about God and Jesus but honestly, I didn’t understand that I could “know” the Godhead personally.

I look back now all these year later, even upon my ugly prodigal years and Jesus never left me. In fact, I can think of two distinct times I should have died but was saved because of divine intervention. One day, remind me to tell you what happened in the public swimming pool. I was six. It still boggles my mind.

I became quite serious about my faith-life when in my third year of marriage, I was desperate. Ya, desperately unhappy, confused, scared and finally had no place to turn but to my faith from my childhood. I know most of you have heard this story a million times. But, it’s still so sweet to me. The prodigal gal ran home to the Father’s arms, held open wide, and I was home.

But, I was radically disobedient and in the need of heavenly wisdom. God received home a gal who needed A LOT of work.

Thus, the years of hard work, morning prayer and Bible reading, church attendance, Bible studies, and small groups. This faith life isn’t for those who have little motivation. It’s for those who are so desperate for change and hope, they will do whatever it takes to find and follow hard after Jesus.

I was that girl.

I am that girl.

The pursuit of Christ is mostly a cost-up-front proposal. You pay the cost first (time, obedience, prayer, learning the Word, practice), then the miracles, hope, healing and prosperity arrive. How do I know. I’ve lived it. But as a woman who is seeing the inheritance of all my years come into fullness now, I assure you, IT’S WORTH IT!

Jesus to me for my entire life has been the greatest teacher. He instructed me years ago where there were virtually only two resources to thrive in a mismatched marriage. Did you know Jesus taught me, Himself? And Jesus is the one who told me to share what I’ve learned back in 2006 and this blog was born. He continues to teach me and what I’m learning right now, if I told you, would blow your heads up. I’m hoping to be able to share more about this season with you in the near future.

Jesus, for me is my savior. He has saved me not once but a million times over and over. He saves me from poor choices, the pit of hell, saves me from my selfishness and so much more.

Jesus is the BEST listener, ever! So is our Father.

Jesus is the absolute power in the room when in a deliverance prayer. You should have seen Him at work this past week during a prayer session. He is all about setting the captives free. His blood alone is more powerful than most Christians understand. Jesus has taught me so much just about His blood and the power of His name. Hallelujah.

Jesus is my friend, confidant, advisor, provider, savior, teacher, Bridegroom Prince.

And Jesus isn’t kidding about our mandates and commands in the Word. He truly expects us to meet them, but He also empowers us to do so in every way. How cool is that?

I’m just scratching the surface. But today, more than anything, I want to know who Jesus is to you. I’ll see you in the comments. And take a minute to encourage another SUMite when they share in the comments who Jesus is to them in their current season.

I can’t wait.

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:37-39 (KJV)


Conflict Is Finished. Now Jesus

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSUMite Nation,

Well I’m feeling we are at the close of our month-long classroom regarding conflict. And you may not feel as though it was worthy of your time but in the future, the truths of how to approach conflict with other believers will return to your mind and you will walk through it Biblically, work through forgiveness and seek restoration when possible.

What is really weird is that this month, personally, I’ve worked through conflict with believers, unbelievers, family and more. Guess Jesus wanted me to be ready for the conflict that is surely ahead in my life.

I want to leave you with a portion of an email I sent out the other day. I believe it holds Biblical wisdom for us all.

I want to point out that in the Bible, Peter and Paul experienced great conflict over circumcision and food laws, so much so, that this conflict was preserved in the Holy Word. The message for us today is that Peter was raised up to speak to the Jews and Paul the Gentiles. They would not see some matters of faith the same and that was okay. It was okay to disagree. If this can happen with the Apostles of Christ, we also will have disagreements that are similar in our day and age. AND IT IS OKAY!

Today I read in my Daily Bible:

Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor;

    only fools insist on quarreling. —Proverbs 20:3

and all of God children said……….   AMEN!

Okay, beginning next week let’s talk about Jesus. I’m so excited to share with you what Jesus is doing in our world. Who Jesus is to me and hear who He is to you in your current season. Also I can’t wait to discuss the details of all that He made available  to us as followers as well as our mandates Christ has asked/commanded of us. Even typing the word, Jesus, my spirit stirs and I feel a swirl of joy in my center. I think we will poke about in the Gospels for a while.

Did you know Jesus said this? 

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. —Mark 16:17-18

I’ve experienced each of these four components of this passage recently and I can’t wait to share the story with you.

What do you think?  I bet Jesus has much to say about how we love one another, and especially how we love our spouse. I'm convinced that the best way to move ourselves away from conflict is through LOVE. And Jesus is love. 

Let's do this thing!!!!!

Hey do any of you creative SUMites have a cool graphic of Jesus that I could use during this series? If so, email it to me with your permission to use it. NEAT!!!!

I love you my family on the web. We ARE THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD. And we will impact our world for the cause of Christ Jesus. Hallelujah! SUMites Nation…. Pray on! Hugs, Lynn


An Honor Lesson Dealt In Cards.

Hello SUM family, Tiffany Here!

Lynn has asked the SUM leadership team to read the book Culture of Honor by Danny Silk for this summer series on honor. I want to share a brief  exerpt and give a real life example from my time in God's classroom. I can't say that it has been easy but I praise God that He hasn't given up on me!

"A spirit of gentleness" is an important phrase. It specifically describes the heart attitude of the one doing the confrontation. Gentleness is the perfect term to describe the attitude we must have with those who have made mistakes or failed somehow. Gentleness does not mean nice, and it doesn't mean polite. The heart of gentleness is the belief that "I do not need to control you."

Mastery of gentleness begins in our belief system. Do we believe that we can control others? Let's review the simple way to test it out. What happens to you when other people do not let you control them? Do you become angry? Do you interpret it as dishonor? Do you find a way to justify punishing them? A yes to any of these questions exposes that you still believe the lie that you can and should control people. Kingdom confrontation requires that you repent of this and begin to allow others to control themselves (p 166).

I love playing games. My grandparents taught Jason and I a card game that has been in their family for decades, several months ago. Jason and I love strategy and so this game is fun for both of us. The other night I pulled out the decks of cards, in trying to keep us disconnected with technology and spend quality time with one another after the kids had gone to bed. The difference between Jason and I is that when he loses, it is not really that big of a deal. When I lose, I get really emotionally involved. In saying this I am sure you can guess the outcome. This wasn't just a losing game for me but an absolute creaming! I was buried with no hope for resurfacing.

Dilley YahtzeeThe goal of this game is to get rid of the cards in your hand. You do this by laying down in front of you a variation of cards depending on the level. I sensed he was about to "go out" and win the current round (and thus further burying me in points against me) so in desperation I said, "Please don't go out!" He did anyway. I couldn't control him - - anger. We decided to go to bed and finish the game another time but my stinky attitude followed me into the next day.

I had failed my husband in showing him God's view of love that does not dishonor others, is not easily angered and always protects (1 Corinthians 13). One of the great things about repentance is that  it "creates an opportunity for true restoration. In fact, it is absolutely necessary in order to heal a relationship that has been hurt by sinful behavior (p. 99)."

The curriculum is far from over in this classroom I am in but I am proud to say that I am gaining victory one step at a time.

Do you struggle with the lies that you can and should control others? If yes, I assure you that I am right there with you. How can I be praying for you in your fight to create a culture of honor in your home?

See you in the comments.

 


Chronicles of the Donovan Clan Summer 2018

Elise July 2018
Elise (Love her shirt)

SUMites,

As I type this post, it’s Tuesday morning and I’m sitting in my backyard garden with little, Avery, age two. She is chattering up a storm as the rest of the family sleeps. We have been all over southern California with my son and granddaughters.

Yesterday as Elise, age five, crawled into bed with Nana after a very busy beach day, her dad came in to tuck her in. “Daddy, we have blessings. In Jesus name.”

He grins, looks over at me, “I can tell we have been at Nana’s house.”

My dear SUMite family, THIS is what a legacy looks like.

Are we perfect Christians.

Nope.

But this Nana, Mom, and wife prays. I bring these babies, their daddy and my husband before the Lord with petitions of love and protection, salvation and the good gifts of God.

And I’m fully convinced that my humble voice has lasting impact.

So does yours.

The battle is blazing hot and every vile thing is poised to take our hearts and souls and those whom we love.

BUT GOD!

Our faithfulness matters.

But God’s faithfulness is everything.

Don’t give up or give in. Because I am bearing witness to a lifetime of spending my life for the unbelievers in my family. Last night in the nighttime hours I could hear the whisper of my Lord as He granted me a snapshot of the future and I saw three generations of believers that came out of my granddaughter, Elise.

The Lord showed me this to affirm that my prayers of intercessions for the generations that follow are absolutely creating a legacy of faith and a family that loves the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tarry in prayer even if you do it alone all of your life. For I am fully convinced more is happening in your family line than you are aware.

I love you so much. Have a blessed week. Hugs, Lynn

Brad and girls July 2018
Family at Safari Animal Park
Mike and Lynn July 2018
Mike and Lynn, 26 Years and Counting!

Romans 14 - Mic Drop!

Gang, the grandkids are visiting Nana’s today and we are either at the beach or the Wild Animal Park today. Hallelujah!!

So, today I’ll leave you with wise words from  SUMite, Martha Bush:

I remember providing a woman a scripture several months ago that I try to abide by when it seems as though I might face conflict over scriptures or doctrines. I could see she was going one way, and me the other on whatever it was.  So, I just said, okay, this is the scripture I use when I see I am going in opposite directions from someone--------Romans 14. (READ THIS PASSAGE. IT’S BELOW.) 

Paul was talking about division in the church over eating meat.  "Just be fully persuaded in your own mind what you believe, and leave it there, so as not to cause division among your brethren.  I had rather, as I told her, be unified with you on what we do believe, not divided on what we don't."  She agreed with me on that.

 

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comRomans 14 New International Version (NIV)

The Weak and the Strong

14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,

‘every knee will bow before me;

    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.


Church - My Hardest Act

Hi everyone, Ann here!

My husband and I have been 'spiritually different' for almost five years now, and it’s become easier for us both. However, there is one thing that continues to floor me and I thought I’d share it with you today. 

It’s this:  Backpack pic

The act of giving my husband a kiss goodbye on a Sunday morning, getting in the car, and turning on the ignition to go to… church. 

Hubby and I are like peas and carrots, we’re a packaged pair, and this whole walking out the door on a Sunday feels somehow wrong. Or is it?

Each Sunday morning I drive through the quiet city, and the minute I turn on worship music it sends an oomph to my heart. At that moment the disconnect between that music and the breakfast clatter I've just left feels stark.

I reach the church car-park and walk towards the hall. The sound of singing wafts out. It occurs to me every single week how weird he would find that.

And then I walk in.

“Do I need to be doing this?” I ask myself quite often. “Will I look back and regret having left him for so many Sundays?” 

Last week I asked those questions again, just as I was getting out the car at the supermarket. A phrase came to mind: Lean not on your own understanding (From Proverbs 3:5-6). I paused, took a breath, and changed tack:

“God, I need to acknowledge you in this. Help me?”

Seconds later, I walked into the supermarket and right there in the entrance was someone from church. He said, “Great to see you, Ann, see you on Sunday!” Um.. Ok.

This journey of whether to go to church is one that has evolved over five years. Initially, 'church’ was a couple of Christian acquaintances on Facebook who helped me with my questions and thoughts. Bryce called them my ‘Christian cronies’, he didn’t mind. More importantly, I spent hours with God on my couch, scripture on my lap, with endless cups of tea. It was a time of learning.

However, the Holy Spirit began to urge me to go and be physically present with the Church where it gathered. It was a gentle but growing conviction.

“Mm?” I responded. “Yes, I suppose I am a wanderer, with a backpack on my back. Perhaps I do need to settle.” One thing led to another and I found myself visiting a church that met in a converted carpark building. It was a bit unpolished round the edges, and I liked it. Sitting at the back, I thought I’d be unnoticed. Yeah right. Not when God is in charge. Suddenly, the pastor says into the mic:

“I feel there’s someone here who has a backpack on their back and God is saying to them, now you can unpack. Make yourself at home!”

Hilarious! So I did. I tried to join small groups and such things. And it was at this point that Bryce expressed how profoundly he disagreed.

He never stopped me from going, nor did he question my faith; it was purely about how he felt about churches. I became extremely uncomfortable pursuing something he fundamentally disagreed with. Over the months, then, I repeatedly stopped going.

Ultimately, I could stop no longer, though. Why? Because God made it clear that He wanted me at that little church on a Sunday morning. The pull was unavoidable.

So church it is, and we've had to learn to cope. I’ve begun to get inklings about why God wants me there. There are specific people for whom I'm there. One of them is a fellow SUMite. We wave at each other across the room. If it's just for that wave, it’s worth it.

As I've grown attached to these people, I've started to invest in them, whether it’s speaking hope to someone at coffee time, passing a scripture to them, or being someone's prayer warrior. I never conceptualized that this was what church was about.

Finally, perhaps this one weekly act of walking out to worship God conveys something of importance to my family. Even though it feels oh, so risky.

So that’s me. Do you relate to this story at all?  If so, where have you got to with it? Or, if you've been through this season, what wisdom can you share?

Thanks for listening.

Ann


Jesus Is Brilliant - Matthew 18

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comIf another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. —Matthew 18:15

Imagine, what would happen if someone came to you personally and privately (Matthew 18) to chat about something they held against you. And you actually listened. Responded, “I’m so sorry you felt that way. It was never my intention and I would never knowingly be mean, vindictive, or harsh. I didn’t realize I hurt you. Please forgive me and let’s make this right.”

The culture of honor, where God lives and people thrive, exists through preserving respect and honor. This verse is specific to the need to privately point out the offense. On Friday,  The situation completely blew up due to the lack of a private and honest conversation between the leader and the women who were “concerned.”

By the way, I hate the word "concerned" coming out of a believer. When someone brings something to you and says, “I’m concerned.” Run for the hills. It’s never going to be a good thing. It’s a cloaked word that really means I don’t trust you. You need to prove yourself to me and if you are very, very convincing I might change my mind about the condemnation and judgement I’ve already set against you.   (Just my perspective.)

However, taking a conflict to a person and talking it out in private leaves the door open to relationship. To love. To honor and unity. Taking this action leads to the last half of Matthew 18:15. You win that person back… Back to love. Back to relationship. Back to community. Back to Kingdom!  Hallelujah.

This is the goal of Jesus words here. Unity, love, and family. This is a culture of honor.

Therefore, let us carefully consider these words spoken by Christ, and put them into practice. Sin and conflict in the church are inevitable. But, if we handle sin Christ’s way: peace, sanctification, forgiveness, the result will be the preservation of reputations and the deepening of trustful relationships. If we handle conflict and sin our way, we can expect chaos, warfare and divisions in the church.

Once again, awareness is 75% of the battle. Catching yourself in the midst of going into conflict and examining your motives then determining to bring honor to your life and the life with whom you are in disagreement, is the way to resolve these difficulties.

Okay, here is the hard part of today’s teaching. Whom are you in conflict with in your heart? Is there a possibility that you need to pray and approach that person one-on-one to seek resolution?

I know this is simplifying situations. There are relationships which are very unhealthy and so many of us have taken every step possible to seek reconciliation, but to no avail. And there are relationships that any attempt to reconcile only opens up more conflict and pain. But, today, I’m asking our Church Without Walls, is there someone in your life, online, at your local church, or in the neighborhood that you are holding an offense?

Ask the Lord if this is the season of reconciliation. Seek His wisdom before you proceed. Not all forgiveness means a restoration of a relationship. So much of forgiveness is tearing down the prison walls which we have constructed about us. Pray about it a lot. Fast and pray. Many in our SUM community are fasting today. I’m fasting for at least 24 hours. Join in.

If you are in the process, leave me a quick note (No details) just a note that you are going to seek resolution. I will pray to cover you with the wisdom of heaven and the peace and a spirit of reconciliation. In Jesus name. AMEN

See you Friday where we address what to do if one-on-one reconciliation isn’t possible.

LOVE YOU MY SUMites!!  Have a great weekP

PS: I'm chatting with Ian Atcheson this Wednesday  at 3 pm. Pacific on Facebook Live. Tune in and meet one of our long-time writers.


In Every Situation Ask Yourself, Is This A Violation of Love?

“I sat down in the booth for lunch, anxious and excited to finally spend some “chat” time with the Women’s Ministry Director from my church, where I have taught Bible study for years. To my devastation, this meet up was made under false pretense because she began by sharing an accusation made against me by three women in my Bible study group. I sat stunned, my heart breaking into a thousand pieces. I was condemned and was being disciplined for something I never was asked about and was completely hit with these accusations in utter surprise. And to top it off, they were inaccurate. I was condemned, deceived and reprimanded without anyone seeking to hear my perspective.”

Matthew 18 principleI (Lynn) nearly wept as I listened to this woman share her story. She changed church association after more than 20 years because of this great error and unbiblical rendering of a verdict and punishment.

What grieves me and then makes me angry is, well, many things. The meeting's purpose, which was initiated by the PASTOR of women, was a lie. The accusations brought were made in secret by unknown accusers at the time, deemed accurate, and moved upon to punish without first speaking to the Bible study leader. What really grieves me is that even after this “so called meeting,” there was no going back even after a reasonable explanation was given. This poor woman was told that her "perceived" error had reached the highest level of church leadership.

Are you kidding me?

In honesty, if this is true? Where was the pastor to meet with this woman and find the truth? Where were the elders to sort out this mess? Because this not only impacted this poor woman, but her husband, and family, everyone who was part of her Bible study group, the church she left. It’s impacted me and now thousands more are reading about this encounter.

Do you think the devil won this round?

The reality of this mess was there were three young woman who disagreed with this seasoned bible study leader about some area of doctrine. Instead of meeting with her to ask her to further explain her position, offer scripture, even talk it out and agree to disagree, all of this went down in secret conversations and back office meetings and phone calls. And the issue of doctrine in the end wasn’t really an issue. The Bible study leader wasn’t asked to leave the church. She was told that she could continue to lead but they would “supply” her content from this day forward. Was this a violation of love? 

Okay, I’m sharing this very real scenario because it happens all the time in churches all over the nation. Really, I’ve seen it happen. It’s happened in our SUM Community. Just recently a woman fired off a couple of harsh emails to tell me that I'm unequally yoked because I posted something about Mother Teresa.

We don’t need to worry about attacks from the atheists when we have this going on within our own family. And don’t think for a moment that we aren’t being raised to be a family. We are. We retain our personalities and traits in heaven, thus, on earth we MUST learn forgiveness, restoration, trust and proper conflict resolution.

Thus, Jesus taught us about conflict resolution t in Matthew 18.

Let’s take a look at the verse 15 where Jesus speaks to this very issue. (Note: this verse is specific to sin, but can be applied to this situation and many others within church.)

Correcting Another Believer (NLT)
If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. —Matthew 18:15

Did this woman’s discipline experience meet this criteria? Where is the first mistake?

Now the BIG questions. Have you suggested sin or error against someone behind their back? Or through a slanted comment on social media? Perhaps a prayer request to others that mentions another believer with whom you have a conflict?

I will assume we all have acted outside of this passage of scripture. So, on Monday let’s talk about what a healthy conflict resolution looks like and what happens if you try but can’t resolve your issues, that is in the next verse.

So, in the comments, what do you think went wrong. What do you perceive was the first right step to manage this conflict by the words Jesus taught? See you there. Hope its lively conversation because we need to figure this out. And if you have walked this passage out in success in your life, share the story. We all need positive examples of how this passage is applied to real life. Thank you.

Love you my friends. We are going to learn this process and then teach it to many, many others and transform our churches, homes, our marriages. In Jesus name. Amen.


Who is to Say?

Wedding-Hands-300 By Martha Bush

"Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thou God my God." (Ruth 1:16 KJV)

With that final scripture spoken over us, my groom and I kissed and ran down the aisle to start our new life together.

  • From a peanut farm in Georgia to Tripoli, Libya, and on to Maine, Louisiana, and Texas-I lodged with him.
  • His family became my people, and along the way, we had two kids of our own.
  • And then it happened. Seven years into the marriage, I fell in love with someone else. His name was Jesus, and at that point, the god of this world we had served together, was no longer my God.

Fast forward to another season of this high school sweetheart romance and marriage-I wanted out!

I had grown tired of waiting on God's promises to be fulfilled in my marriage. Waiting is always hard, but to live in the same house with someone who is in opposition to your faith is even harder. (Can you relate?)

And so it was, I began praying for God to give me permission to vacate the premises-not divorce, just separate. After a couple of weeks of praying, I began hearing the words, "who is to say that you have not been brought into the kingdom for such a time as this?"

"Where had I heard those words before? Oh yes, the book of Esther. No Lord; I don't want to be an Esther; just let me out of here!"

But, then He began to show me others in The Bible He had pre-positioned in a position for a special purpose. What was that purpose? TO BRING FORTH A GREAT DELIVERANCE!

Not only was the deliverance for their families, but for others as well. In the midst of their designated position, they had to experience discomfort, risk, ridicule, condemnation, and rejection.

I raced to my computer and composed a poem, recalling people and, yes, even animals who were pre-positioned for an important role in the history of all mankind.

_____ 

Who is to Say?

Esther, a Jewish slave, became the wife of a pagan king in the land,
Discovered that Haman wanted all the Jews destroyed by the king's command.
But, Esther had favor with the king and Haman's plot went amiss,
Who is to say that a slave girl wasn't brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)

Think of Rahab, who was called a harlot by name,
Heard about God drying up the Red Sea and bringing the Egyptians to shame.
So, she hid the Israelite spies and every wall of Jericho fell without a miss,
Who is to say that a harlot wasn't brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this? (Joshua 2)

And then there is the donkey that stopped Balaam in his tracks,
From going the wrong way less the Israelites be cursed and attacked.
Now, we might scoff at the thought of God using a donkey and say, "That idea I will dismiss,"
Who is to say that a donkey wasn't brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this? (Number 22:21-35)

What can we say about Jehaziel whose name was mentioned only once in the good book,
Heard a word from God saying, "Stand still," before the battle Jehoshaphat undertook.
The enemy killed themselves as the Israelites sang praises to God with joyful bliss,"
Who is to say that a prophet wasn't brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this? (11 Chronicles 20:17)

Let's never forget Mary, a young virgin in her day,
Received a visit from an angel who had powerful words to say.
"You shall bring forth a son to save the world by shedding blood of His,"
Indeed, a virgin was brought into the Kingdom for such a time as this! (Luke 1:31)

But, wait, there were others involved in the nativity scene,
Shepherds, wise men, angels, all around the stable they leaned.
Quite unnoticed was Anna who proclaimed the redemption message in their midst,
Who is to say that an unknown woman wasn't brought into the kingdom for such a time as this? (Luke 2:36-37)

Now, each of these people probably questioned their position from the start,
Why, even Mary pondered these things in her heart.
No doubt they even found discomfort in doing what they had been pre-positioned to do,
For example the donkey: "I'm sure he didn't like being kicked by Balaam, would you?"

But, the Bible shows how God uses slaves, harlots, prophets, virgins, and even donkeys, too,
In order to fulfill the purpose they were created to do.
And so if I should be pre-positioned by God in a position that I would rather dismiss,
Who is to say that I, an ordinary housewife, wasn't brought into the kingdom for such a time as this?

_____

Yes, I stayed and as Lynn says in Winning Him Without Words, I have a front row seat watching God pursue my husband to be his God. So, go ahead, Lynn, and pencil Glen and I into your schedule for Facebook Live.

Note: To my Sumite Friends: I wrote this blog from my own experience. Every marriage is different, and guidance from the Lord is needed when deciding to leave the marriage or not. 


The Destroyer Has Arrived. Do You Know Its Name?

Love over fearLove vs. Fear

Choose wisely.

SUMites, I’ve been in a new classroom with Jesus. Wow has it been interesting. ….. and timely.

And since the beginning of this blog in 2006 the Lord instructed me to share what I’m learning. So, in the next few weeks we are going to look as several aspects of our society and church relationships. We will examine conflict resolution, restoration and honor. We will look at the spiritual realm in light of the teaching and perhaps touch on a few more issues as the Lord leads.

Additionally, all of the teaching and skills we acquire through this series will have a wide affect on our homes, our church life, our social constructs, marriages but mostly in our personal relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Today, I’m just gonna jump into the deep end of the pool and hope I don’t drown or loose you. Because when you wrap you mind and heart around what is at the heart of conflict in this current season, the perspective changes your thoughts, challenges powerless faith, and realigns your prayers to become truly powerful and effective (James 5:1).

In my last post I shared how I sensed that the “Church” began to move into a new season, the Kingdom Era, here on earth. This dispensation of the Kingdom will include the fulfilment of passages such as Hebrews 2:4, Acts 4:30, Acts 14:13, & Mark 16:17-18 just to mention a few. However, the demonic realm also unleashed its weaponry to defeat the church and hold it captive. And this is what I believe has also occurred in the last couple of years.

Witchcraft through blood sacrifice and unholy covenants spoken by covens and sorcerers all over America and all western nations has stirred up an assignment of division. This is a Principality that has been released with a specific mission to divide and destroy. Its purpose is to fulfill one of the three main ministry arms of the devil; to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). It is intent to destroy any possible unification of the church, it is relentless to destroy any and all Godly identity, and to further destroy the centrality of the Kingdom which is family and marriage.

Duh! Like you didn’t already know this. But what you may not perceive is the devices the devil is using to make this happen.

Offense.

And the playground of this principality: ALL social media platforms.

The attacks are proficiently active on social media. I think that you can catch it in operation almost hour-by-hour when opening up a social media app or flicking on the news. Although I’ve seen it in churches within leadership, I see it in companies and in schools. How about our governments? Ugh!

Let me be clear here. This is a direct assault via witchcraft upon the land. And right now I see little response from the Kingdom of God. In fact, the people of God are the main targets of this black, slippery eel that nips at your nose and will lead you along until, wham, you gulped down the bait and you are tagged and bagged.

The enemy is doing everything within it’s power to cause believers to become offended. Satan broadcasts lies, scenes of hate, inflated accusations and more to cause a reaction. The enemy works relentlessly in Facebook posts, groups and messages. Twitter is a blaze with the political spirit and fueled by offense. Television, magazines, the pulpit???? Every platform where Christians gather, there is likely an assignment of the enemy and in many cases ,a real live person who is a witch, fueling the conversation and looking for a reaction. And a reaction fueled by offense quickly spirals into anger and then into hatred. It can happen so fast you don’t even know what hit you. (BTW, I’ve seen witches in church services, it’s a for real thing. I will get a pounding headache when witchcraft is active.)

However, again, I will state clearly that 75% of our victory in spiritual warfare is awareness. You are now aware. Now here is the remaining 25% to help you catch yourself and keep yourself from offense.

Several years ago, when I was learning and reading books about offense, I became very intentional in my life to start to catch myself when I felt the sting or anger of an offense rising up in me. Any area of offense is ungodly. ANY AREA. So, I would immediately realize the feeling of offense. With great determination, I would take my feelings in prayer to the Lord and then surrender, ask for forgiveness, and seek the Lord to help me navigate the situation/interaction/words with this person or persons. I would seek the Lord for HIS truthful explanations in the situation, even asking Him to show me where I failed in the scenario and where others failed. (I wrote a great deal about recovering from emotional wounding and escaping offense a few years ago. Here is a link to the first post: OFFENDED

I realize that people do things that hurt us, that are ugly, black, and from the pit-of-hell, evil. But I also know that these offenses by others are often occupied by demons of unforgiveness and bitterness. And these two actors open the door for oppression. I don’t want to be ruled by demonic lies. So, I willingly take my hurts, offenses, sins against me to my Father. I surrender them. I FORGIVE THE PERSON. I receive the healing forgiveness of Jesus and ask the Lord to help me make things as right as they can be. Restoration is broad and looks different for each situation. This is not an easy process but necessary. For more recovery tips, read the post mentioned above.

It’s time church.

We have the mind of Christ. We can choose to refuse to be offended. We can choose to stop going to places and people who stir you up. AND you can pray. Our prayers can absolutely defeat the witchcraft, the demonic realm and destroy every assignment of the devil. I know emphatically this is true.

We MUST stop playing the game. Immediately when you feel offense rising, shut it off, take it to the cross, seek forgiveness and ask the Lord for full restoration. When we stop being offended by one another this GREAT, BIG GIANT CHANCE for unity might really happen. It must start with the church.

We can be an activist. We can stand for what we believe. We can express our views in many different aspects and forums. I believe the Lord desires this of His people, but we must live above annoyance, offense, and the hatred of the world.

Because:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. —John 13:35

And this kind of love will change a spouse, a house, a region, light revival, unify the church and usher in the greatest era of the Kingdom of God….. Heaven on Earth!!!

HALLELUJAH!

On Friday, I want to share some specifics about conflict resolution based on Matthew 18. On down the road we will look at how we develop a culture of honor. How we honor one another when we don’t agree. We will look at restitution vs. punishment and more.

Monday's Question: Who is brave enough to share how offense happened in your life and how the Lord helped you to escape?

LOVE YOU, Lynn


There is always more with God

Free-waterfall-wallpaper
Photo courtesy of wallpaperlistings.com

Happy 4thof July to all my American friends. Ian from Down Under here.

For many years I’ve struggled with anxiety. It’s played an even more prominent role in my life the last 15 years that happened to coincide with my stepping away from the Corporate world into working for myself. What I’ve discovered those of us who struggle with anxiety is we all have our individual pressure points which can exacerbate or set-off moments of extreme stress. Interestingly, my big two have been associated with either public transport (planes, trains, buses) or people living in my house.

Disconnect with Faith

The latter pressure point always bothered me because we’re called to be hospitable.  And I want to be welcoming of people sharing our home. But my desire for control and ‘home being my safe place’ has often overridden the want to be hospitable. No, I don’t become a green ogre if you happen to be wondering but I tend to get easily agitated about the smallest things (eg, putting things back where you found them).

But I’m a Christian. I’m supposed to be hospitable. And I’m not supposed to struggle with anxiety. And then I used to go through downward spirals of thought questioning whether I really was a Christian and why couldn’t I trust God.

Yes, we Christians do suffer from anxiety and other mental health disorders. For most of my life I simply believed anxiety would be with me forever. From my earliest memories, mom dubbed me the ‘anxious one’ while my twin brother was the easy going one. Whenever the topic came up I simply responded by saying “well you’d be the anxious one if you had someone sitting on you for nine months in a cramped dark place.” Yes, I was the firstborn, it took Pete twenty minutes to figure out life was more fun with his brother than hanging around in the dark by himself. 

There’s an increasing presence in the media these days about people who struggle with anxiety. This is a positive step as it brings it and other mental health matters into the light. But often there’s an acceptance that anxiety will always be a constant in individuals lives and even that it can serve as a form of ‘superpower.’ I don’t doubt the latter; in fact, know from personal experience it has helped me in certain situations because anxious people’s ‘fight or flight’ response is usually easily stimulated. Further, anxious ones often have a more natural empathy for others and may more easily discern when others are in need.

Easy Yoke

What I do believe is that God’s heart for us is to not be anxious. He hasn’t made us to be anxious.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I amgentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

In the past couple of years I’ve been discovering how to walk in the ‘easy yoke.’ I’d reached a point where my anxiety was just impacting my life too much and frankly I’d had enough. So had my family.

So I stopped fighting it, befriended it in a way, and sought both medical and Godly help.

The Beloved

I understood in my mind I was the Lord’s Beloved, but I needed for that knowledge to get into my heart. Loving God has to be more than just an intellectual love just like loving our spouse and children has to be.  And I found diving into the Word was so pivotal to getting ‘this’ belovedness into my heart. For more than three years now I’ve been reading the Psalms. They are such a rich fountain of God’s love and are incredibly emotional expressing the full gamut of human emotions.

I’ve never been much for memorizing Scripture. But as I walk the dog each day I quote verses. For about a year I spoke Colossians 3:1-17 after taking a month to learn it (using James Bryan Smith’s excellent book) and now I’m walking praying Psalm 23 to myself and Beanie, our kelpie.

This memorization thing works. Scripture soaks into you, not simply into your mind but your heart.

And I got myself into a group of prayers, which I now lead. Community is so precious. I know you ladies know this. We blokes aren’t good at it and we need to be better.

Letting Go

In order to accept being the Lord’s Beloved, I needed to let go of some lies that many of us believe and has played a significant role in my desire for control which led to my anxiety.

1. We are NOT what we do.

This is a biggee for blokes. As we’ve talked about before we blokes hold on so tightly to our careers and gain so much of our sense of worth from it. I believe this was significant for me when I stepped out of the Corporate world as I no longer had a label that made me feel important.

2. We are NOT what we own or what we’ve achieved. 

The world has gone crazy with accumulating stuff and achievements. Keeping up with the Joneses is a full time job. Let it go. All of it.

3. We are NOT what others say about us 

We’ve all had some tough relationships. It might have been with our partner, or an ex-partner or our parents. And when we’ve heard something so many times its gets into our heart and we sub-consciously start believing it.

God loves each of us like crazy. He. Died. For. Us. That’s how much He loves us. 

There’s always More.

“… may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us …” (Ephesians 3:18-20 NKJV)

This verse has been buzzing around mind for the past few weeks. Throughout all my seasons of being anxiety-riddled I was constantly frustrated knowing that it was limiting my life. It stopped me doing things. Good things.

But what these verses tell us is there is always more with God. Most significantly, more of Him and His love. And it’s in that discovery that we are released for more.

Dive deep, dear friends. Deep into His river of love and faith.

I suspect there are others of us who have wonderful stories to share of self-discovery and the freedom it has brought. And also there will be some of us who are grappling with anxiety. Let us pray over you by writing a simple ‘ ‘Yes please’ in the comments.

For those of you enjoying a National Holiday, celebrate well and cuddle those you love.


The New Kingdom Era

SUMites,

Lord's PrayerIt’s July 1st. Half of 2018 remains, and we are merely beginning to step into the miracles and the Presence of God that Kingdom era offers. Today, I want to share with you my thoughts about what is happening in the Kingdom of God in this season. Below is an excerpt from an email I sent to our SUM leadership team last week.

Before I share, I also want to let you know that I’m being led by Jesus to teach about Kingdom honor and dignity. I witness a great deal of wounding in the church because of accusation against another brother or sister in Christ. I’m convinced that there is great error on occasions when a believer sins. And the restoration process is what I believe, harsh, unforgiving ….. it feels like punishment. As children of the Kingdom, we must learn to handle disagreement with our church family in a new way. In a way that is truly restorative, healthy, and with honor and LOVE.

Following the July 4th weekend, I will be writing about what Godly conflict should look and feel like, based on the Matthew 18 model. I also want to teach about the differing areas of leadership and how we understand our strengths, callings, and anointings and how we are designed to fit in in our church, our region and the SUM family.  

If UNITY is the call of our Father in this season, we need to re-learn Godly conflict resolution. We must learn to see others through lenses of love and not fear or suspicion. It’s mandatory that we release judgement and condemnation and search out the areas where we agree, coalesce and center upon loving one another.

So, what say ye???  Ready for a powerful Word? The Lord is speaking and again, I believe He is calling the SUM Nation to this paradigm change first. We are on the leading edge of bringing the fullness of the Kingdom to earth. Hallelujah.

Okay, here is my perspective regarding our current season of the Body of Christ:

May I share what I’ve been sensing from the Kingdom. We are bearing witness to what I believe is the closing of the era of the church of man. Where mankind led people to the Lord through a relationship with church and people of a congregation. It has been a beautiful era of people loving and helping others find Jesus and grow up in faith. As with anything where people are flawed, the church is flawed and much of our denominational separation which grew out of that era was never the intent of our good Father.

So, I perceive that about two years ago the Lord began to move the people of God into what I believe is the era of the Kingdom.  We are bearing witness to the miraculous. I know that I have. Within the last few years an entire new experience has opened up to the hungry people of God. We, as a Body, are moving away from the religious rules into the prompting/guidance of the Holy Spirit. Many within our SUM Community are experiencing a shift in the gifts of the Spirit, speaking in tongues, and visions, etc. Can I just say WOW and PRAISE JESUS!!

This doesn’t mean that the church is dead or insignificant. No, we are going to see a unity in the steams of faith. We will see divisions grow softer. We will witness church done in ways we haven’t seen before. Just take a look at our SUM church, we are a church without walls. We can expect the church to be different, but also it will be powerful. No longer powerless in our faith but filled with the miraculous and more. I till you I can’t wait for this move of God. I count it the greatest work and privilege that I will participate in my entire life, to walk in this season of the Kingdom.

Thoughts SUMites??  Want in on this??? Join me. I’ll share more beginning July 9th. See you on Facebook and Instagram. Hugs, Lynn


Devotion by: Christine Smith

SUMite Christine Smith

Over the years I believe God has occasionally given me what I call an “image” that I then attempt to draw. I haven’t had one for years until this morning during my quiet pray time with Him. I decided to intentionally wait on Him instead of doing all the talking.

 I saw myself sitting in a rowboat, oars silently resting in the still waters, facing away toward an endless horizon of nothingness. This is me and my spiritually unequally yoked marriage. 

Then a second image came. 

I wasn’t alone after all! 

Jesus was right there with me all along!

That’s us ladies!  We’re not alone in this walk no matter how lonely it feels at times. He knows and He is with us. 

Blessings,

Christine

P.S. I’ve never been in a rowboat in my entire life!