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11 entries from September 2020

The Day God Surprised Me

Hi friends, Ann here! Man photo

We can walk through this SUM path feeling weary, right? But there are moments where God brings us a surprise gift to cheer us up. Today I want to encourage you with a little story: It's about the day I discovered Bryce’s favorite friend had unexpectedly become Christian. If you need a boost I hope you enjoy this one!

Now, this guy was unusual in that I never would have imagined it. Not because he was off the rails. I just wouldn't have picked it. I’ll call him David.

Bryce and I were friends with Dave in our early twenties. He was one who lived life hedonistically and he became unusually successful in the business world. He is very funny, with a dry wit that my Bryce particularly enjoys. Over the years the two of them would laugh their way across the golf course, squash court and pub.

Eventually, he moved away. Then, a spiritual earthquake hit our home: I turned to follow Jesus, Bryce wasn't thrilled, and our spiritually-mismatched situation began. Aggh! In those years, I desperately craved Christian friends but had few. It was in this miserable condition that God landed me with a surprise: Dave had converted.

I found out on the day of Dave’s mum’s funeral. His mother was a lovely Christian, and we set out that sunny morning to farewell her. Dave lived in another country by then but had come home to nurse his Mum; and now on this day he gave her an honoring eulogy. He took to the podium and in true form had us even laughing at points with his humor, but then I nearly fell off my seat at what came next:

“I know I will see Mum again because she is in the arms of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour. And that is all that matters.”

What?

My wide eyes followed Dave as he left the podium and sat back down, head heavy. I watched the back of his head, curiously, wondering about what I’d just heard.

Later, Bryce and I stood opposite Dave and his wife, cups of coffee in hand. The conversation was light and warm, but suddenly Dave cut across us with a strange focus in his eyes: “Ann, are you still reading the Bible?” My eyebrows raised, and I was just about to answer when Bryce spoke for me: “Yes she IS! She certainly is!” He followed this by saying: “And she can’t put it down.” Perfectly cheerful, he was, biting into a sandwich. Given our tension about faith I was pleasantly surprised, even by that. Dave’s eyes stayed on mine and he said quietly: “I’m so happy about that, Ann.”

There was no opportunity to say more. But did I possibly have a friend there in Dave?

After that, I so wanted to text him. I badly wanted to know more. What's more, I wanted to text him to say ‘Can you convert my husband please?’ (I’m laughing). But no. I didn’t. I left him be.

It was months before we saw Dave again. There at a dinner table one evening he shared his conversion, his wife by his side chiming in just like Bryce did at the funeral. Bryce and I sat listening. We talked about church. Dave’s wife piped up at that point: ‘I hate going to church!’ I cast her a sideways glance and thought ‘Ok, I know all about that.’ Clearly they had the exact same dynamic as us. And hard as it was for Dave it made me feel a bit better. I guess I saw it was a normal outworking of this difficult situation.

Since then, Dave and I have snatched the odd faith conversation. He moves in a friendship group that is entirely non-Christian; and in his professional life he is a rare believer. It is not easy being an adult convert: You end up being lonely in your social world. But I look at his conversion story and know he will make a difference to his wife, colleagues and friends. It's easier to see that bigger picture in someone else's life than it is in your own.

As for Bryce, well, it's all part of God's planning. I imagine the two of them walking across the golf course or at the pub sharing their faith as friends someday. Wouldn't that be interesting? For now, I just enjoy it as the gift that I know will keep on giving.


Wrapping Up Our Series on LOVE

Dear friends, Ann here. Did I learn to love

Today we wrap up our series on love. 

Here in our SUM community there are many different marriages. Some have spouses who are easy to love; others have extremely challenging situations. But in every relationship – easy or hard – love is not easy. Nor is it simple. And even with the easiest marriage a faith difference brings a huge challenge.

Our love challenge is not just about loving our spouse. It can be equally hard to love those who are an extended part of our SUM situation. For example, I’ve been frustrated at times with Christian family members and the church because they don't understand. It's all been one massive exercise in love.

Love is, to me, like the diamond engagement ring on my finger. I hold it up in front of my eyes and examine it from different angles, for there are different facets to it. ‘Love’ looks kind and gentle on the one hand, but if I hold it up again I can see it also involves obedience, which might mean speaking truth or walking forward into a specific call from God (as Tiffany shared). 

Love is also a learning curve with inevitable failures or humbling experiences. As Lynn said, at 3am in the morning it might not go so well. 

And then we know that God is love. So we can take 1 Corinthians 13, hold it up like that diamond and ask ourselves 'What is God like?' Except there are tensions. Love is not easily provoked, and yet we see Jesus was provoked to anger. To delve deep into love, then, involves examining these tensions carefully.

When it comes to my marriage, I often think about the end game. I imagine coming face-to-face with Jesus, and being asked: ‘Did you love your husband well?’ When I think about that question, it’s less relevant to me what my husband is doing than what I am doing. 1 Corinthians 13 is the blueprint. And, I guess I hope the Lord will say this when we review my marriage and family:

‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ (Matthew 25:23, NLT)

There is lots to think about. Personally, I’ve loved hearing from Ian, Tiffany and Lynn with their love insights this month, and have enjoyed writing my bits too. Now, it's time to move on to some new topics on this blog, so I will be back on Wednesday with something different.

My friends, it's been great journeying on you through 1 Corinthians 13. What has spoken to you most in this love series?


Rediscovering Love In The Midst Of The Battle

Hello SUM Family, Tiffany here! Love SUM blog

I want to jump right in with the rest of the story.

God was really stirring my heart to look into my local school board. There were a few amazing God confirmation moments along the way. I decided to step out in obedience to this new found calling. The hardest part was yet to come. Talking to my husband. I found it quite surprising that he didn't seem pleased with the idea. In various discussions he gave me the "go ahead" but it didn't feel like he was supportive.

Over the process of this time, I was beginning to network and go to some political meetings with my local party. Outside of my home there was excitement and encouragement. Inside of my home there was tension. The more I began to pursue this campaign, the more it seemed like the wedge was growing.

Our verse for today is 1 Corinthians 13:7:

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. NLT

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ESV

Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. AMP

Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. TPT

This verse really stuck in my mind during this trying time. The enemy will do anything to break down the family unit. There were so many tempting times where I just wanted to call it quits. It has lessened but the pressure is still there.

I would love to say that my husband has done a 180 degree turn around. He still isn't thrilled with this new desire of mine. But, I know that he is trying to protect me. The "political game" can be pretty vicious!

The truth is, in my pursuit of 1 Corinthians 13:6 (does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth), I forgot about the other equally important parts of love - patient, kind, not easily angered, does not keep record of wrongs...

I allowed bitterness and unforgiveness to take root. I left that door wide open and the enemy has had a field day with it. Whatever happens with campaigning and the election in November will never be as important as my marriage. How can I advocate for families outside the home if I am not advocating for my own?

The Lord has patiently opened my eyes to see how my bitterness caused me to stop respecting my husband. My demeanor and actions toward my husband were not reflecting love but self-preservation. This in turn caused him to not show me love in return.

I love the Amplified version above. Let's read it again.

Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

The greek word for "bears" is stego.  This can mean to cover, conceal, ward off, bear with, and endure patiently.

In order for love to bear all things, I've learned that it has to be done with a forgiving and humble heart. It is easier said than done. However, when we focus on Love, himself - things don't seem to be as complicated as we make them out to be.

I don't know about you but this 2020 season has been pretty difficult - mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. When God shakes things, it is for our good and His glory. I am looking in anticipation for a victorious 2021. In the mean time, I am going to allow the Great Physician to do some major heart work on me.

See you in the comments.

Many blessings to you!


Life's Hard Lessons of Love

Hey SUM family, Tiffany here! Love

Love does not rejoice in evil but rejoices with the truth. - 1 Corinthians 13:6 NIV

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. - 1 Corinthians 13:6 NLT

does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. - 1 Corinthians 13:6 NASB

Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. - 1 Corinthians 13:6 TPT

It is easy to look at "hot button" topics when thinking about injustice and evil. We can look at the world around us and see the stark contrast between what God views as evil versus the world. On social media, we can get into it with many people on both sides of the aisle.

I have to admit that sitting down to write this post was very difficult. Ever since COVID turned the Carter Crew world upside down, there has been tension in our household. You would think that something of this nature would bring our family together. However, as I come to learn more things, I can see a wedge has been placed between my husband and I. I won't go into details here, but I tell you that there are some things that we don't see eye to eye on.

You may be wondering what this has to do with today's verse. We've talked about this before but in our SUM there are clashing worldviews under one roof. One worldview feeds on the word of God. One worldview feeds on the word of the world - media, social media, etc. When our sources come from different places, it can be difficult to come to agreement.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. - 2 Corinthians 2:14

Please allow me to share a story. The summer of 2018 I was driving with the kids in the backseat. I was merging onto the interstate and crying out the the Lord. I was begging Him to work things out for me to stay at home with my children. I have had this heaviness since before the kids were school aged. However, this was heightened as I was about to send my children into Kindergarten. As I was merging onto the interstate I heard the Lord give me a direct answer. No. What?? But this is my heart's desire! Surely I didn't hear the Lord tell me no. I cried out again. He gave me more of an explanation.

Tiffany, I need your children in the public school system. I need you to be involved. You need to be alert. You need to pray. You need to intercede. You will not be active and interested in the public school system if you are not invested in the system. I have them in my hands. Just trust me.

Less than a year later, COVID hit and schools were closing down for remote learning in the spring. Throughout the summer there was much talk about how schools would handle the fall. I began to get involved. I went to school board meetings of a few districts, met some amazing women who were on the same journey as I was, and got more involved in what was going on in our city. I was upset with how people in power were handling things. I was seeing the corrupt nature of politics, the greed of men, etc.

Frustrated, I began to think, what would it take to change our school board? What is needed to run? My curiosity is what the Holy Spirit used to dig into the calling for my life. I recalled what the Lord told me months before. Could it be that God created me for such a time as this? Could I actually run for a position in the school board?

I have gotten on a little long and I hate to leave you at a "cliff hanger" but on Friday I will finish my story and wrap up my experiences on love.

In the mean time I want to pose a few questions to our community today. What do we do when God reveals His heart for the world to us? How do we go about the calling He has on our lives, if our spouses don't agree? How do we walk in submission to our spouse and also in obedience to the Lord?

See you in the comments. Love and blessings to you all.


When Love Makes You Unpopular

Hi friends, Ann here!
Did I learn to love

As we sit in 1 Corinthians 13, it occurs to me how many facets this little word ‘LOVE’ has. It’s easy to think of love as being kind and patient; it’s easy to think of it as being something like a hug. It is truly that. But there’s another side, and it’s this:

If we love someone, we will put their spiritual health above our own popularity. That is, we'll speak truth when needed.

Now that is hard.

I love to embrace people’s life stories and if someone’s battling dysfunction in their lives I find it easy to be nice to them. That's important, but sometimes we have to speak truth to stop them going around the same mountain any longer.

So, on that happy note, my friends, let me tell you about one of my hardest faith moments, a time when God asked me to do something very unpopular indeed. 

Before I go further, this story involves a particular toy in my house, which you may also have. If that’s the case, ask the Holy Spirit about it for yourself. For now, I'm sharing it as a testimony of love.

It was when my boys were about age 11 and 12. They're gentle little souls and don’t often need a firm hand, so I'm not usually 'strict Mum'. But sometimes we have to change our approach, and I was about to find that out.

The boys had become obsessed by pokemon cards. They had invested their money, hearts and souls into this game. Their social world revolved around it with their friends. They would spend hours with the cards spread out on the floor, enacting battles, and they talked about little else. I thought nothing of it, but one day I began to have a strange conviction: Those cards need to be removed from my house.

I wasn’t sure if this was really God, or my imagination. I went upstairs several times to sit and pore over the cards to figure out what it was. “Is this you, Lord?” I asked.

Honestly, sometimes God doesn’t tell us why, he just asks us to obey. So 'why' was perhaps not the most important question. Anyway, looking at the cards they seemed to be encouraging my children to play-act elements of witchcraft. And the conviction only became stronger and stronger.

One day, I heard a clear phrase in my spirit: “Playing with pokemon is like your children handling poo.”  Yikes. Really, Lord? A few hours later I went upstairs to find a hand-drawn picture of poo on one of the cards. “Why did you draw that?” I asked the boys. They didn’t know.

Another word came: “Ann, it’s like them being upstairs with prostitution. That’s how important it is that you remove it.” In my mind, this thing was becoming crystal clear and it was uncomfortable. I knew how much the boys would hate having these cards taken from them. “Ok, Lord,” I said. “I’ll do it. But they’ll dislike me for it.” To be disliked by my children was -- still is -- the worst thing possible. But who was I going to idolize - My children or God?

I fasted for three days, saying to God, “Show me if this not you. And if it is, help me do it.”

The fast cemented my conviction. And so the day came: I gathered Bryce (whom I had forewarned) and the boys, and we sat on the floor with the Bible. I explained it as far as I could, and said, “I’m really sorry, boys.” Bryce supported me, though he did wonder if I was nuts. On this count he decided to let me take the lead as he didn't know what to think. 

It went down like a sack of cold potatoes. The boys were very unhappy. They still talk about it sometimes: “Mum made us chuck out those cards.” Grr. Eye roll. Mum. Grr.

What else could I do? Sometimes love means being unpopular. I love my children fiercely. What else could I do?

So that is what it means to me to 'not be self-seeking' as per 1 Corinthians 13:5.  In my mind, 'Love doesn't mind being unpopular'.  The comforting thing is, the Holy Spirit guides us as to when it is right for us to step out and speak truth; and if we do that we know that it's a good thing.

Friends, have you ever taken an unpopular step for love? I'd love to hear about it.


How to Pray Psalm 91 For Your Children's School

Vidya RodneyPraying Psalm 91 by Vidya Rodney

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Psalms 91:1-16 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/psa.91.1-16.NLT

My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, since school has reopened and we have been navigating these uncertain times with Covid 19, I decided to write my own prayer using specific verses of psalm 91.

We are faced with challenging times, but our Abba daddy is so great and merciful. Along with Yeshua (Jesus) and Holy Spirit He has also given us the power of words to declare and decree our protection for our schools, households, families, our children etc.

Some of us were in a limbo of whether we should do virtual learning or in person. So, my husband decided that he wanted our daughter to attend in person. I was very tense and nervous at the same time, but I remembered that God meets us in whatever situations we must face.

Since I live in a spiritually unequally yoked marriage, I decided I would petition my household's safety and protection with psalm 91. So, first thing in the morning, I read psalm 91 aloud and then I say my prayer I wrote. With all my prayers I stand on 1 Corinthians 7:14 - For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.

1 Corinthians 7:14 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/1co.7.14.NLT

So here's my prayer I wrote:

Dear Heavenly Father, I stand on the verse 1 Corinthians 7:14 on behalf of my household and I declare that You, Lord, are our refuge and our place of safety. You are our God and we trust in you (Psalm 91:2)

I thank you Lord that you will protect my child and my household from every trap and protect us from every deadly diseases that includes Covid-19 (Psalm 91: 3)

Lord I thank you that your feathers cover me, and my household and you hide us under the shelter of your wings. I thank you, Lord God, that your faithful promises are our armor and protection (Psalm 91:4)

Lord your word says " We must not be afraid of the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day. (Psalm 91:5)

In the name of Jesus, me and my household will not dread the disease (Covid 19) that stalks in the darkness nor the disaster that strikes at midday (Psalm 91:6)

Though a thousand may fall at our sides and 10,000 are dying around us, because of your faithfulness Lord God, this evil as will not touch me or my household [ I name each person that lives in my household and you can also add other family and friends names here) - (Psalm 91:7)

Your word also says that if I make you my refuge and shelter, no evil will conquer me and my household and no plague (no coronavirus) will come near our home (Psalm 91: 9-10).

Lord God I thank you that you order your angels with special orders to protect us wherever we go. I thank you Lord God, that right now your angels are holding me and my household up in their right hands, so we will not even dash our foot against a stone (Psalm 91: 11-12)

According to Luke 10:19 and Psalm 91:13- You have given us the authority to trample upon fierce lions, cobras and serpents under our feet in Jesus name.  Therefore, we will crush coronavirus under our feet in Jesus name. Hallelujah!!!(Psalm 91:13)

Lord I pray for supernatural wisdom and strength for each and every teacher, every school official, janitors, bus drivers, bus monitors and the school staffs. I pray for a supernatural hedge of protection over the parents and the children through the blood of Jesus. I pray for a peace that surpasses all understanding over everyone of them in Jesus name.

I pray for a holy ring of fire of protection over and around the school property and around all the other schools. I plead the blood of Jesus over the school staff and all the parents and children in Jesus name.

Lord God, I especially stand in the gap and ask for supernatural protection through the blood of Jesus over both the little children and the older kids. Give them wisdom to use their hand sanitizers and practice safety at all times in Jesus name.

Lord we thank you for all answered prayers. We give the honor, the glory and the highest praise in the mighty name of Jesus.

Amen and Hallelujah!!!

*****
I am Vidya Rodney. Married to my pre-believing husband Andrew for 10 years. We have a beautiful  5 year old little girl Anya. I live in St Charles ,Missouri and first accepted Jesus in 2011 after losing our only brother to suicide. I have been a lukewarm Christian for years, but now I am stepping out to find out more of what Jesus has for me.


Dealing with a Difficult Person

Hi friends, Ann here!

With our coffees at the ready, how about we take a look at this challenging gem today in 1 Corinthians 13:

Did I learn to love

"Love keeps no record of wrongs"

(1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV)

It is a noble thing to not keep record of wrongs. But do any of you have an ‘extremely difficult person’ in your life? How easy is it, really, to not think about the many annoyances or offences? I’m smiling because I suspect we all have one or two such people. Honestly, with a difficult person it's near impossible not to ruminate a little. Or, a lot!

Today I thought I would share a story about a challenging relationship that I've had in my extended family. This is a relationship my husband watches quietly, and he sees me learning to love. Sometimes he even tells me I've done good. Now, at those moments I break into a big smile. Those are the moments he sees my faith and quite likes it.

This particular person in my family has historically rubbed me up the wrong way. And if I'm honest, often I've felt like thumping them. Grrr!!

In the midst of it, the Lord has told me:

“This is an intense battle for you. And it's a love battle. Your job is hit back with the opposite spirit: Love. You can do it!”

This family member and I, we're not together often. But when we are I have to get through it. The conversation is wounding, there’s a clear demonic influence, it comes out in his words and those words have, in past times, left me bruised black and blue.

The Lord extends his comfort to me but he also sees the opportunity for reward if I can get my response right. He says:

“RISE UP daughter, swing your sword, and apply love! For love is your most powerful force, your vehement flame, and your weapon.”

When we have a difficult relationship, sometimes the Lord will show us what's really going on spiritually. In this case he showed me that this relationship is a place where the enemy is using that person's tongue to try to derail me faith-wise. I must fight accordingly (not with the person themselves; 2 Corinthians 10:4); and much of that fight involves God's powerful force: Agape love.

There are many ways to swing the sword of love. After all, 1 Corinthians 13 has many verbs. For a start, blessing is powerful, so when I think of this person I bless them quickly before my mind can rehearse the negative experiences I've had with them (i.e., go over the record of wrongs):

“In Jesus’ name, I bless [name]’s mind; I bless his heart; I bless his finances; I bless his body with physical health; I bless his hands, and his work; I bless his friendships; I bless his marriage. And most of all I bless his relationship with you, Lord.”

However, that's not quite enough to heal the bruises in my heart. Even if I move in swift forgiveness, which I really do try to, it seems that some bruises are so raw that only Jesus can take them away. When a bruise comes to mind, then, I get on my knees and say, “Jesus, this bruise is here. Please heal it.” 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget and then let the person do more of the same. There is certainly a place for protecting ourselves from too much negative conversation; and God doesn’t want us to be a doormat. Still, with family we can’t help but sit at their table and we may have to endure darts. In those cases our job is to say quickly in our minds: “I do forgive you. And I’m not going to keep a record of wrongs.”

I love the recent words of a minister I heard speak. She said: "When it comes to others, I keep short accounts, short accounts." In other words, "I'll forgive instantly, bless quickly, and do my best to move on."

That said, we are a total work-in-progress, right? None of this is easy. At all. We know our weapons, but we need the strength of Jesus Christ. And so, equally, we give ourselves grace for all the ups and downs. Perhaps in time it can even become something of an adventure. Let's hope so.

Friends, do you have a difficult person or two in your life? How do you practice love?


Are We Living In the End Times?

The End SUMAre We Living In the End Times?

My friends, I’m stepping away from the study of 1 Corinthians 13 as I want to address the issue of the end-times messages that are overwhelming the Christian church.

Since March there have been a number of doom proclaimers in Christendom. These are well respected and educated pastors, teachers and prophets. So many of them are carrying a message of destruction and that the end of life as we know it is imminent, verily knocking at the door. I’ll admit the few trusted teachers I listen to, have also spoken conflicting messages. So, it’s confusing and frightening to say the least.

However, I’ve asked Ann to pray and ask the Lord about this current season and I’ve been seeking His voice, and His voice alone, to guide me and provide wisdom about the current world circumstances within which we live.

The Word says: 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. —James 5:1

I’ve asked Jesus, over and again. And I continue to come back to the same message. Here is what I wrote to Ann last week: This is all really good. I’m still pressing into to hear clearly about it all. Especially because I’m hearing conflicting messages from the few trusted teachers I listen to.  Mostly, I MUST hear clearly from Jesus. But I’m hearing what most others aren’t. Here is what continually comes to me:

This isn’t the end. NOT EVEN CLOSE. We haven’t even begun to see what wickedness will be like at the end times. And I don’t sense that the vaccine is the mark of the beast. However, if they require some kind of biomarker on our hand…. Then that gives me trouble. I would need to seriously pray about that. I don’t think this vaccine is dangerous or loaded with nano bots.

Why am I sharing this? Because there is so much fear and confusion. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. There is a giant harvest that the Lord has been preparing the church to receive. God isn’t going to pull all of us out of the earth before that occurs. I just don’t see that happening.

What I do see is satans feeble attempts to causes division among the races, sexes, ages, and socio and economic lines. And he’s done a good job of creating hatred where there isn’t any. He is also busy working to overthrow the Christian heritage of America. Because he knows if the Christian nation of America fails, so goes the world.

We MUST stop buying into the fear and hype. Ask Jesus what is going on. He will tell you. He will tell you that Covid IS NOT from heaven. It wasn’t God’s punishment. The pandemic is a practice round for the enemy to see how far we will bend. Truly.

My friends, OUR PRAYERS defeat the enemy. But if we are bound up in fear, faith cannot function. Step out of fear. Determine that our beautiful earth will go on for another 1,000 years. We will see the generations to come and we will see the rescue of humanity again and again BECAUSE THAT’S OUR FATHER.

I’ll share more updates with you as I continue to pray. I know I have one coming about October 31st and also a post about the election. I have revelation about both.

Listen to me. We are not weak cowards. We aren’t victims. We have Christ, the Living God, within us. Let satan see that in our eyes and shiver!!!  Hallelujah. AMEN

PRAY ON WARRIORS! Love, Lynn

"For the LORD is good; His loving kindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations." —Psalm 100:5

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? —Numbers 23:19


3 am Is Very Telling? Do You Get Me? by Lynn Donovan

image from www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.comSUM Nation, I have a “real” question.

When you read this passage does you bristle a little?

Do you find it difficult to even begin to understand these words and what they are supposed to look like in real life?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Ann asked me to write about just the second half of verse four. Yikes. Love does not envy. Love does not boast. It is not proud.

You may think to yourself, HA, I’ve got these down. BUT I’ll tell you this. YOUR real core of yourself will show up when you are exhausted, hungry, stressed and lacking in your intimacy with God. THIS is a true measure of what’s deep inside. I still have moments when God shows me how much I have overcome and then there are moments when He reveals where I need a little work.

Ahem, last night at 3 am. I’m not well. Upset tummy and can’t sleep. 3 am my little dog, Grace, starts yipping from her crate in the other room. Grrrrrr, I know that yip. It means Mom, get up and take me out……. For whatever reason…..

I try to ignore it. I can’t. Once a mom, you never sleep soundly again. Double grrrrrr.

I nudge Mike three times, “It’s your turn. Grace is barking.” His response. Him mimics a dead log in the forest. Solid, not moving, sound asleep.

Finally, I throw the covers, slam a few doors, flip on lights, yell at the pups, take them out. Whisper yell some more because Grace wants to chase something by the fence and won’t come in……… It’s so embarrassing… I go back to bed and my husband stirs, ah,,,,,, what,,,, what is happening? As I aggressively flip the lights off.

I wasn’t feeling love. Oh gang, the practice of love is just that, PRACTICE. It’s a life-long journey of surrender, understanding our pressure points and creating an atmosphere where we thrive in love and minimize the strategies of the world to destroy love.

Most of you know that I generally walk in love. I truly love my man, I adore my puppy, Gracie. BUT love isn’t always easy. And I’ll be straight up here. I can’t love without the love of God first. I’m completely incapable of this thing….. love. Love without envy, pride or boasting.

I do believe I’ve arrived at a place where my insecurities are met by an overwhelming love of Christ that I’m able to genuinely celebrate when others are honored and accelerated. Well, most of the time. I’m a work in process.

Pride, envy, boasting and jealousy are really cloaking our deep insecurities. And through Jesus ALL of my pain and insecurities are nearly healed. However, like I said, I’m a work in progress.

And that’s all that matters to God. I’m progressing. I’m reflecting His character in my interactions with those at church, on social media and even in my marriage, except at 3 am when Gracie is barking. *grin*. Honestly, I’ve become really GOOD at apologies. My husband is so gracious when I don’t quite model 1 Corinthians 13. And I offer him the same.

And isn’t that what marriage is all about? It’s living with someone to echo your life. To be a witness, to honor and love you when it’s tough and when it’s really good. I love my husband more today not because of the good days but how he loved me when I was ugly, mean, and less than loving.

I still apply myself to all the measures of 1 Corinthians 13 and through Christ I can do all things and see myself stepping closer all the time. I pray you see yourself ABSOLUTELY THE SAME. Because you are on this path with me. Hallelujah.

Love well. That is our highest and best in this life. It’s the one thing we take with us when we head to our heavenly home.

I love you…. I really love you, Lynn


Clashing Cymbal or Lapping Ocean?

Hi friends, Ann here. Did I learn to love

Today we begin our series on LOVE, and in a moment I have a light-hearted story to share.

But first, speaking of love, I wanted to take a minute to thank you for your loving support after Lynn's announcement this week. This community is pure joy to me and I look forward to us having more good times together. I hope you know you can reach out to any of us on the team, any time. 

I'm also delighted for Lynn that she can work on some new projects after all she has poured into us. I say thank you to her. She's not leaving us, but is simply branching out a little wider. So, we cheer her on and onwards we march!

Now for today's thought: 

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal." 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NKJV)

Now, many of us have had practice at 'winning without words' in our home. So we're not usually clanging cymbals. But there was one time where maybe I was, just a bit.

One Saturday morning, shortly after I'd had my 'turning-to-Jesus-life-changing-moment', my husband and I were tucking into a lovely cooked breakfast. In those days I just couldn't help but bring up faith. And so I brought it up, and heartily began to tell him about the changes wrought in me by God. I began to list traits like ‘less anxious’, ‘more at peace’, and so on, which was fine. But somewhere among that, perhaps I mentioned that I was a little bit more humble these days. A little more kind, perhaps. I’m laughing.

“Mm.” he nodded, smiling and rolling his eyes. Here we go again. Then he let out a cough and quietly said into his hand, “Congratulating yourself.”

He was chuckling; but I stopped instantly. Of course I didn't laugh; it was all super sensitive for me. But afterwards, in a quiet moment to myself I did manage a smile. "Point taken," I thought, "Maybe I was congratulating myself a little."

What is it like for others to be on the receiving end of my faith? That is a question I ask often. Because honestly, I’ve sometimes been on the receiving end of another person's beliefs and there's been something cold or unloving about it. It's a lesson.

A clashing cymbal is a hard sound that can’t be listened to for long. I'm not saying I was being the full clashing cymbal that day; I think we learn not to be this way in our marriage. But it is a reminder that if a Christian is self-righteous that’s the sound that hurts our ears and makes us not want to partake of their table. On the other hand, other Christians are like a lapping ocean, a gentler experience. On reflection, I think the ones like that are those who have meditated on the character of Jesus and who focus on Jesus's righteousness more than their own.

I imagine the sound of love to be something like a bird singing, an orchestra playing, a mysterious wind, or a beautiful cello. It is a sound, for sure; it's not quiet. But even if it is a voice speaking unpopular truth, it won't have the self-righteous edge of a metallic, hard cymbal.

On Wednesday, Ian gave a wonderful analogy of Billy Graham, who said that he wanted people to see nothing but the cross of Jesus when they looked at him. That was exactly what was in my head as I thought about this post and my husband's little chuckle at my being 'self-congratulatory'. I suppose in our conversations with others, it can be a great thing when our verbal testimonies do this:

  • Point to the healing power of Jesus
  • Point to the cross of Jesus, and our need for it
  • Point to Jesus as a source of life and abundance
  • Point to Jesus as a real presence

Hmm, I may well practice this a little more. Next time I'm at breakfast with my husband, perhaps?

Nice chatting, friends, and here's a prayer for us today:

Lord guard my tongue, make my voice a sweet sound to others, and let every word that comes out of my mouth honor You. Season my tongue with mercy, justice and humility. Let me always be an ambassador for Love. In your name, Jesus. Amen.

Have you experienced someone who was the opposite of a clashing cymbal? What did that look like?


Let's Talk about Love

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Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hiya! Ian from Springtime Sydney. Yes, we in the Southern Hemisphere are beginning to experience the blooming of flowers, the tweeting of baby birds (and unwanted attacks while walking by overzealous magpies) and longer days.

I was excited to know that Ann is to be leading us over the next month on a series on the great love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13. Hands up, how many of us had this read at our weddings? Mine is up. Interestingly, my wife, though not a believer and hence not a reader of the Bible, thought this chapter to be such a wonderful explanation of ultimate love and therefore, was very happy to have it read at our nuptials. To be honest, by that time I was a little over 1 Corinthians 13 having read it and heard it so many times over the years. My heart had become a little cynical towards it.

But no longer. I think it’s an extraordinary passage on both how we are loved by God but also how we can love our spouses and others. Being one for practical demonstrations of love (rather than just words) it’s significant in those 5 verses, four through eight, there are 16 verbs. Love is an action. Yes, words are important but the agape love as demonstrated by Jesus is one of unconditional love or sacrifice. Sacrifice typically requires an act, whether it’s simply choosing to text a friend asking them how they are or the ultimate of laying one’s life down as Jesus did.

Knowledge and Action

I’m a Learner. I’m always looking to learn. I’m curious about many things. Having grown up with a Dad as a Doctor surrounded by medical journals and body part molds, I’m forever enquiring about loved one’s symptoms, side effects, and so. Mum was just in the hospital last week having experienced fluid on the lungs which impacted her breathing. When the cardiologist visited, I asked him all sorts of questions of why this occurred, why does that happen, how does this restore her heart to normal rhythm and so on.

Being a learner can be addictive. So much so that we gain all this knowledge but don’t do anything with it. But very early on in 1 Corinthians 13 we’re warned of the danger of just acquiring knowledge. Look at verse 2:

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (NIV)

So I have to take deliberate and intentional steps, some of which I mentioned in my previous post to ensure I am acting in love each and every day.

We all share the same purpose

For years I struggled to understand my purpose. Why was I here? What did God have me to do? Particularly, after leaving the Corporate world a decade ago I grappled with the ‘well what now’ question. It was only after saturating myself in the Word of God and developing a closer relationship with Him that it all of a sudden became very clear.

And it’s summed up in one simple four letter word: L.O.V.E.

That’s it. For all of us.

The two great commands: Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind and love others as we do ourselves.

That’s what should get us out of bed each day. Simply to love. And it’s in loving we discover the things God would have us do. Maybe it’s to start a new ministry, like our dear friend Dineen did a few years ago. It might be to start a new church. Or it might be to care for our aging parents as I’m increasingly being called to do.

Everything we do is significant when it’s done in love. Whether it’s moving mountains or moving an aging mom from hospital to home. When it’s done in love.

I’m going to stop there. I have more to write but I might leave that for another time.

To finish I thought I’d share something I just read today about something Billy Graham’s Pastor (yes, he had a Pastor who met with him every week for more than 15 years) said when questioned about his prayer requests: “He would ask me to pray that God the Spirit would fill him to the extent that he would be totally hidden behind the cross and people would only see Jesus,” and “His entire life was in pursuit that he would decrease so that Christ would increase.”[1] That’s agape love there and what did the world see: a man possessed by the love of God and loving others so they would also come to know God.

On reading this I too prayed the same prayer and hope it becomes a standard part of my prayer life. It’s in the secret place with God where we discover His love and our prayers should build our faith so we can step out into the day seeking to love those people we encounter.

Grace and peace

 

[1] Nancy Kane, Stages of the Soul: God’s Invitation to Greater Love (Chicago, Moody Publishers, 2019), 107