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11 entries from November 2022
Do you have a mountain that MUST MOVE? (see below)
And did you find a word of hope or encouragement here in the past year? Did you discover some aspect of faith and connection with God that was new and helpful. Did you stop in and read a truth, find your heart touched by love, did you have a prayer time that changed things? Do you feel less alone in this journey?
Only once a year we bring finances before our community. It takes about $7,000 annually to pay the expenses.
That's A LOT!
So, Today on Giving Tuesday would you consider a one-time gift to further the ministry into 2023? More, would you consider a recurring gift.
Here is the giving breakdown and how I'm giving back to you.
Any gift of any amount and you are invited to the Zoom teaching: Five Truths Vital to every spiritually mismatched marriage. Over 30 years these are the five things we MUST know to thrive in these marriages. Donate and you are invited to the live teaching or the video.
If you give more than $100 or sign up for a recurring monthly gift, you receive a monthly email with a Ministry/Donor Update. You catch a glimpse of the behind the scenes in the ministry. I typically share the planned future training, upcoming events, some of the ministry efforts that happen that we don't write about.
AND ....If you give a one-time gift of $100 or more or create a monthly recurring gift, you will be invited to the training in January. This will cover Mark Chapter 11. Moving our mountain. I've truly learned what this passage is all about and how it's true for us now, today!
Who could do with a prayer powerful enough to move a mountain? Below is the link to give. From there you can make a one-time donation or a recurring, monthly gift.
This link takes you to our not-for-profit processor, Square.
From there you can make a one time or recurring gift. Thank you.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1
On Tuesday join us for some more thanksgiving!
Hi SUM Nation,
Lynn here. Take time this week to sit alone with the Lord. Write down all the good that came into your life because of His love and kindness. Thank Him for His faithfulness.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, Ephesians 1:3
Father, thank you for your goodness, faithfulness, and love. Thank you for Jesus who by His stripes heals me and my family. Thank you for every time you intervened to save me from disaster and deception. Thank you for the love of family. Thank you that you are present and care deeply about my life. I love you Love. I am humble. I am thankful. In Jesus name. AMEN
Hello SUMite Warriors,
Lynn Donovan here. Today I have a great honor.
I'm standing in a profound moment. Because the Lord has promoted one of our own. I'm utterly thrilled to announce that our SUM writer, Tiffany Carter has some tremendous news. I'll share what she texted the team a few weeks ago:
Look at God!!! I need a lot of prayer. I've been appointed by the Governor to serve on the Nebraska Library Commission?! Like what? Is this real?!
It's real and I'm so proud of the work Tiffany has done to protect children from the evils that are encroaching on our children's education.
Listen in as Tiffany shares:
Today, we congratulate her and release her from ministry here. She will be too busy in the future. We also bless and launch her forward into this new season, which is part of her divine destiny.
Would you please join me and bless and congratulate Tiffany in the comments today.
My blessing: Jesus, in Your powerful name we stand behind Tiffany in her efforts to bring your truths to our children. Walk with her and her family as she will surly encounter opposition. Build her passion and faith to never waver in her message. We bless her with all resources, courage, energy and family support. Let her work have lasting impact on the many generations that follow. Keep her heart on fire for you and filled with love and your holiness. I pray and bless Tiffany and her family. In Jesus, Your name. Amen.
How many of you have been touched by Ann this past year? I know I have. She pours so much time into this ministry. She truly loves this community and all of you who meet up here. She is moved by your life and is genuine to encourage you forward in faith.
She is special. So, can you leave a quick birthday message for her here today in the comments?
I know she will be touched. Thank you.
Ann and I will be back at the end of the month after the Thanksgiving festivities here in the US. See you then. Hugs, Lynn Donovan
Well, we’ve reached the end of our How I read my Bible series. I hope you enjoyed it. I always say 'God made us each as unique as a snowflake'!
Some of us have a special place where we curl up to read each day …
Some of us have a favorite book of the Bible …
Some of us have a creative method we use …
And as we read, we encounter God.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)
Well, with that wrapped up I'd now like to share some ministry updates:
The team is going to take a couple of weeks off while our American SUMites enjoy their Thanksgiving season. We’ll pause the ‘Let’s Talk Live’ videos too, restarting early December.
While off, I'm going to be doing some planning and praying using the feedback from the SUM community survey. I want to say a huge thank you for completing that survey and sharing your hearts with us. It painted a picture of who we are writing for, and I have to say I shed a few tears reading the responses and getting to know you a little. Sometime next month I’ll share a little more about the demographics of our community, and a summary of what our survey showed us. I think you'll find it interesting like I did.
Well, that’s all. To our USA SUMites, have a wonderful thanksgiving. To the rest of you, stay standing! And we’ll see you - fresh and raring to go -- when we're back.
Ann and the team
I love seeing how other people read their Bible. I have seen some things that I would really like to try! Isn't it great how together we sharpen one another! ::grin::
I have talked before about the power of praise. I love to listen to worship songs and praise God with my voice and dance. So, it is no surprise to me that Holy Spirit gave me the idea "Connecting Verses" several years ago.
The idea is to take worship music and use it as a "blueprint" if you will to search the Bible. Connecting Verses is a place where music and scripture collide.
I've noticed that the more I would dig into scripture, especially the Psalms, the more that I would be reminded of songs as the words would "leap off the pages."
Last week, I was able to carve out some worship time with my kids. My husband was out for the evening. I put on worship songs and encouraged the kids to read their Bibles or worship with flags. My daughter, she went to singing and dancing. My son, sat on the couch with his Bible.
I felt directed to lead Easton to the Psalms. After a while, as I laid down on the floor with my Bible opened, my son came and laid on the floor next to me with his Bible. As I was flipping through the Psalms, Easton looked at my Bible and said, "This one is my favorite Psalm." I said, "Oh? Psalm 40?" I looked at the verses on the page:
1I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
3 He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.
In the margin of my Bible, I had written: Hillsong Worship - Jesus Lover of my Soul. I said, "You know Easton, there is a song that I loved growing up about these verses in Psalm 40. At the time I couldn't remember the tune so I looked it up on YouTube. As soon as the music began, I instantly remembered. I sang it over my kids as they laid their heads on my lap. It was one of the most beautiful moments I've had with my children. I have had moments like this when they were smaller. But now, there is something so sweet when children are at that age when they know how to read, they know how to process the moment, and will remember these times.
What I think will be really fun, is if we work through a song together. Meditate on the song, "I Am Not Alone" by Kari Jobe (Click the song title for a lyric video).
When I walk through deep watersI know that You will be with me When I'm standing in the fire I will not be overcome Through the valley of the shadow I will not fearI am not aloneI am not alone You will go before me You will never leave meI am not aloneI am not alone You will go before me You will never leave meIn the midst of deep sorrowI see Your light is breaking through The dark of night will not overtake me I am pressing into YouLord, You fight my every battleOh, and I will not fearI am not aloneI am not alone You will go before me You will never leave meI am not aloneI am not alone You will go before me You will never leave meYou amaze meRedeem me You call me as Your own You amaze me Redeem me You call me as Your ownYou're my strengthYou're my defender You're my refuge in the storm Through these trials You've always been faithful You bring healing to my soulI am not aloneI am not alone You will go before me You will never leave meI am not alone (no)I am not alone You will go before me You will never leave meI am not aloneI am not alone You will go before me You will never leave me
Listen to the song, meditate on the words. Ask the Holy Spirit to recall to your mind verses that match the lyrics. If you are not able to recall from memory, do an online search. I like to type in part of the lyric and add "Bible" to the search. For example: "Bible You will never leave me". Scroll through the search results and write down the scripture verses next to the song verses.
Let's discuss this song in the comments. How amazing to study the Bible and interact together using this song as a study guide. I can't wait to see what you come up with. Let's worship the Lord together today in spirit and in truth. I'll post one in the comments for an example.
I have loved bibles since I was a teenager. I wanted the one with the trendy cover or cool maps inside. I ended up with several bibles in a variety of styles over the years. Sadly, I was more interested in the look of them than actually reading them.
You see, I struggled badly with condemnation in my teens. I felt I could only study when I was “being good”, once I stumbled and did something that wasn’t good, I would feel too guilty to keep studying. This was a cycle that repeated itself into my early twenties. The Bible, especially the New Testament, was a book of rules in my eyes. It was a list of all the things I would never be and could never do. The enemy had twisted my mind into being afraid to open the word! I was completely missing out on Gods grace and denying myself His forgiveness and mercy! That all started to change when I was introduced to two things: a fantastic couple of local pastors, and page on YouTube called The Bible Project.
I have so much to share so I will keep this part brief. I started regularly attending church alone when I was 25. I met the sweetest couple who were joint pastors of this precious little church. This husband and wife opened my eyes to Gods grace. I specifically remember the wife preaching on grace one Sunday and at just the mention of it she was close to tears. I remember her voice trembling, and how passionately she spoke to the congregation. Her message that day was a big step towards me believing that I was worthy of it too! And so, opening my bible got a little easier.
A few years later, my younger sister introduced me to these guys on YouTube who called their page The Bible Project. I had never seen videos like these before, and soon I was hooked! Not only were their videos beautifully done, but they were FILLED with the goodness and truth of Gods word. They helped me begin to understand the importance of context; the when, where, and why a book was written. And the creators of the page were so passionate and excited about the Word that I began to feel excited too! I ate it up like candy! It replaced my condemnation and fear with joy and hunger! I began to read my bible even more ;).
Fast forward to now, in my early thirties, the condemnation still tries to see where it can creep in, but I know how to kick it so it doesn’t stick around long. The way I prefer to read currently is one book at a time. I like to start by watching a Bible Project video on the book and learning as much context as I can beforehand. My favorite mornings start with me grabbing my bible and journal as soon as I wake up. I write down 5 things I am thankful for, a declaration for that day (something like “I will speak lovingly all day” or “Today I will walk in health and peace”), I pray, and I read. I typically read one or two chapters at a time. After that it is time to get up with my littles and start our day. My kiddos are still pretty young (7 and 10), so not all mornings are this peaceful! But I can definitely tell the difference between when I start my days this way and when I don’t.
I also really enjoy reading with my kids! I usually stick with one chapter, or even half a chapter, and make sure it is something I know well enough so I can answer questions (ALWAYS pray for wisdom before you start answering questions!). My daughter is very inquisitive and asks all the hard questions, which I love! It was this very thing that lead to her asking to get baptized a few weeks ago! Praise God! Even if you never get quiet time, read the Word to your kids in the noise. It plants a seed, even if you can’t see it!
That’s all for me folks! I would love to hear about your favorite ways to study in the comments!
When I was 19, I was at University in Texas. My parents, who were in England, sent me money from home: "Go and buy a Bible, our gift," they said.
So I did. I chose a beautiful leather-bound New King James Bible in a box.
Well, that box sat mostly unopened for the next nineteen years. But now I'm now going to fast-forward to myself as a 38-year old agnostic, living in New Zealand:
I had met Bryce in Texas shortly after buying that Bible, and moved to New Zealand, his homeland. The Bible moved with me. And one day while my two children were at school, in my house in Auckland I knelt down beside a cupboard to retrieve that precious box.
A golden moment!
Setting the box on my bed, I peeled back its lid and withdrew the treasure within. I ran my hand over the red-brown leather, fingering the gold leafed pages. Would I find the Bible to be supernatural, or the hand of man?
And so I carried it over to an armchair, settled in and started to read. The house was peaceful. Genesis 1:1 'In the beginning...'
Well, once I opened that book, I can tell you, something happened to me. All the way through the laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy I read with fascination. The minor prophets felt like gripping page-turners. I realized there was a man called Paul who wrote much of the New Testament -- who knew? And by the time I reached Revelation 22, I sat back and closed its pages. "WOW", was my reaction.
That first time through I googled as I read. For example, I looked up the historicity of every king in Kings and Chronicles. The empires in the book of Daniel, I googled. I asked God questions throughout, sticking those questions on post-it notes into the Bible. My mind and heart were hungry. It was a highly personal experience.
And needless to say, by the fact I'm writing this, it's clear that I decided the Bible was supernatural. After that, it became my daily food.
I rise with bleary eyes, throw on a robe and brew a cup of tea. I grab Bible, ruler and pen, and carry all that 'equipment' to my bed. I prop the pillow up, throw myself back into bed and read, luxuriously. I underline things and write prayers, thoughts and questions in the margin.
Bryce potters in the kitchen or gets dressed while I'm reading.
After that, the Bible and I move into the main area of the house, where I carry on reading, this time with the boys pottering around me, getting ready for school.
And then after they've gone and the house is peaceful, I read a little more.
How do I do it now? I read all sixty-six books of the Bible in no particular order, and tick off every book once I've read it so that I give all the books attention. I say to God, 'which book shall I read next?' and then I dive in, letting it speak to me. I've just finished Judges, and then jumped into Philippians today.
Why do I read all of it rather than just the New Testament? I feel that the whole thing is God's love letter to humanity. What's more, the Old Testament tells me just as many valuable things as the New Testament does about how God works with people, and about Jesus.
I write lots of questions for God as I read, but I don't mind mystery either.
And what I love is that the Bible I bought all those years ago was so fit for purpose -- God knew exactly what I'd need and like. It has wide margins for all my questions, and references to show where the same word or idea is found in other verses. I use those references daily, looking up linkages across the Bible and seeing how the different parts link to each other.
Wow... I could write so much more, but my word count's up. Funnily, I wrote this before I read Ian's post on Wednesday, and it delighted me to read his version. Amanda is next -- I can't wait to see her take on it.
In the meantime, have our two posts so far brought anything to mind for you? Share away in the comments!
I would suggest my Bible reading is a little eclectic. I read passages from the Bible every day in some form or other. These days, I rarely read a book of the Bible from start to finish (with one exception) tending to focus on specific topics or passages that my other reading has led me to.
The one exception is the Book of Psalms which I tend to continuously read from start to finish using some form of ‘guide’ to prompt my reading. At present, I’m working through a book called “Openings” which each day introduces the reader to a saint or sage and works through the 150 Psalms over the course of a year. Previously, I listened to the Psalms read by Dane Ortlund in his podcast series based on his book “In the Lord I Take Refuge”
Why the continual focus on the Psalms? I just love them as they are so expressive of the human situation. All our emotions are on show, and I feel I get to encounter God when I read them.
Information or Encounter
I’m a learner. In all those personality strength tests ‘learning’ comes out top or near top for me. It’s a family trait, all my siblings possess it; we’re constant learners. When I had my wakeup call over 10 years ago about not knowing God well enough (He prompted me), I dived into reading the Bible and acquiring knowledge. I’d study the Bible, research things, read commentaries, and so on which was all wonderful for the learner in me. My mind was filled with all good things.
Knowing God is very important. But interestingly, when the Bible refers to knowing God it often refers to an experiential knowledge of God. God doesn’t want us to just have an intellectual knowledge of Him but to experience Him, paralleling this nuance of ‘know’ (‘oida’ in Greek) with sexual intimacy. In John 14:7, Jesus says, “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” Jesus and the Father had a very intimate relationship, one that we too can learn to develop.
Bible reading is a way of developing that intimate knowledge of Jesus. Remember, Jesus is the Word (as described in John 1). God has given us the Word, both the written and Jesus, to encounter, to experience. Not just to gain head knowledge.
Around five years ago I began reading the Psalms. And I haven’t stopped. I found in reading the Psalms that I began to develop an experience of God through my emotions. I praised, I cried, I lamented, I got mad, sad and happy all through reading the Psalms. Typically, I did this through putting myself into the Psalm. Psalm 23 is a beauty as I visualised myself with the Shepherd as I prayed each of the six verses. Try it.
I was challenged a few months ago by God to go deeper in the gospels. As a friend of mine wrote, “… if I want to interact with Jesus as His disciple, I must keep company with him in the gospels.” Trevor goes on to say,” The Gospels offer us far more than information and inspiration. When read with expectant trust and faith, they make interaction with the living Jesus a living reality.”1
It prompted me to read ‘John’ slowly and mindfully. And now I want to continue with reading the other three gospels. Jesus is there in the gospels. We can encounter him, God, each time we read the Word.
Well, that’s me. Love to read any insights, thoughts you might have about your own Bible reading habits in the comments below.
Grace and peace,
Note: 1. Trevor Hudson, "Seeking God" (NavPress, Illinois, 2022)