11 posts categorized "A Great Company Of Women"

The Way We Fight Giants

My friends, Ann here.

I have a problem. Here I am writing a series on how to fight giants using the example of some fear I've been battling … But this week the fear has gone completely! So, that's inconvenient because I'm trying to write about it. Maybe the giant wasn't enjoying the fight and ran away. ((Haha!)) Giant fighting

Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7, NIV)

It's true. As my fingers have typed words about how small giants are I’ve become increasingly fearless. To the point that I feel I've been injected with happy drugs!!

And, in that state, we've reached the part in our series where David picked up five stones to kill Goliath. 

“Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:40, NIV)

This passage could be seen as an analogy for spiritual warfare in a Christian’s life. It’s easy to think ‘spiritual warfare’ has to be big and dramatic, but it’s mainly fought in the secret place, the place of intimacy with God. 

It can even be a restful battle, if we can get there. The stones are smooth, after all, and manageable.

I keep a pouch of five stones in my prayer room (TV room) as a symbol, I suppose. And I have an idea of what my top five regular stones (i.e., spiritual warfare tools) are. One is fasting, another is rest. Another, taking communion in my home. Five smooth stones

But there are probably 25 'stones' (i.e., tools) available to us, not just five. And in our community others will have a different 'top five' to me because, as an army, we have different skill-sets, gifts, and experiences.

I therefore posted a question on Facebook, asking our community what their top five are. Here’s what they said, including their quotes. I personally found these wonderful to read, and I hope you do too.

The five smooth stones of the SUM community

Worship. Private time spent in worship invites in the Lord’s presence and power; but even playing worship music in the background changes the atmosphere (2 Chronicles 20:21-22).

Praise and gratitude. Speaking out or journaling such words (Psalm 100:4)

Asking for prayer and support from trusted prayer partners/friends. Sometimes we're too embattled to pray for ourselves except to eek out 'help'. A solid two or three, or a group (e.g., church home-group) who really care about your situation is like a strong, three-fold cord (Ecclesiastes 4:12). As is their emotional support.

Prayer. This is a huge topic, but it can include specific routines like praying on the armor of Ephesians 6:10-17 routinely, binding the enemy's activity and releasing glory and blessing verbally into a situation (Matthew 18:18); blessing the house, the bed, and more.

Healing prayer from a trusted source. Our battle may have at its source underlying spiritual issues (e.g., generational stuff, freemasonry in the family) that can be revealed and healed through prayer with a trained person. We're blessed to have access to that here with Lynn's healing prayer ministry.

Reading the Bible, and quoting scripture out loud, confessing God's truths and promises. Here's a great quote: "Throw a scripture stone to combat whatever battle you are currently facing. If it is healing, throw all the scriptures verses as a stone." 

Surrender to the Lord, exchanging our will for His. A couple of SUMites said here, "The fruits are like no other". 

Journaling. I loved this quote: "I put it all down on paper or computer the situation, including my feelings, and the Lord walks me through it. Then I can throw away everything except the lesson learned."

Time and intimacy with God. "Long walks outside with the Lord / Getting up early to be with him." "Walk n pray along with sitting on the beach and asking Jesus to be with me." This overlaps with other things.

And more, but I'm out of space:

Laughter

Rest

Delight in Him

Revisiting prophetic words we have received

Distraction from triggers

Fasting

Praying in tongues

SUMites, we are equipped and we're up to the task. For the stones are manageable.

Next time I write I'll continue with this series. For now: Do any of the above tools intrigue you and make you want to know more? If so, which ones?

Have a great weekend, everyone!


The Truth about Menacing Giants

Hi friends, Ann here! Giant fighting

We're continuing today with our conversation about 'fighting giants'. Yes, those menacing things that present a huge challenge for us, whether it's sickness, financial trouble, fear of our spouse's unbelief, or any other 'very difficult battle'.

Being human, a giant will naturally look much bigger than us and make us quake in our boots:

And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him. (1 Samuel 17:4-7, NKJV)

From my internet research, six cubits and a span is apparently 9 foot 9 inches. Goliath was a whopping beast! And it's all very specific: Every part of him is menacing, from his spear, to his leg armor, to his coat. The overall impression? 'AGGH!'

In the same way, if we have a giant we're battling we can spend a lot of time looking at every part of that giant and deciding it is truly threatening. SUM team

Right then. But would you like to hear a 'giant' story? Because God gave us one at our last SUM conference - It's a story I've only just remembered today:

Two years ago you may remember we held a conference in California. Here's a photo of part of our team at the time. I can certainly share that each of these valiant women have giants they fight, none of us are alone. And they do it so well! 

After the event I was sat on Lynn's couch and she prayed for me, with Tiffany's arm round me. It was a sweet moment. 

Now, compared to others I'm short -- The opposite of a giant -- Which is an important part this story. I used to think I was 5 foot 3 but I remeasured recently and seem to have shrunk. Anyway, at that time '5-foot-3' is what I thought I was.

While praying, Lynn gave me a word. It was this: "I hear God say you're a 15-foot giant in the spirit realm." She paused, smiling ... "Does that mean anything to you?" It didn't but, hey, I liked it. Later that night I wrote it in my journal and on the plane home I asked God: "Why 15 feet?" It occurred to me then to calculate the difference between 5-foot-3 and 15 feet. And so I wrote down: 9 foot 9 inches.

Well, blow me down, that's the height of Goliath. And so it turns out I'm bigger than Goliath -- Because of Jesus. So are you, SUMites, bigger than the giant you're fighting. In David's words:

"Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? (1 Samuel 17:26, NKJV)

There's one more giant story I want to share, and I hope this one encourages you. I keep a record of my days with God by journalling. Anyway, a few days before I got smashed by this sickness God gave me a vision of the spiritual giant that I was about to battle. I didn't understand it at the time, but found it in my journal later and went "Ohh, that's interesting!" It was as if God was saying: "This is what you're about to fight and this is how you need to see it."

Now, I can tell you this giant did not look anything like Goliath. He -- Actually, it was an 'it' -- did look tall, yes, but that was the only similarity. It was skinny, grey, wispy, miserable, pathetic, and weak. Not in any way scary or intimidating.

In other words, God was saying: "This thing is not as scary as you think."

In the last post I said that I was going to share two questions we can ask God about any given giant we're fighting. Well, my writing took a different turn. So there's just one question instead and it's this:

Lord, show me how I should see this giant?

Whew, I feel stronger already just writing this. I hope you do too. Feel free to share thoughts in the comments, and let's keep chatting about this topic of giants!

Ann


A Wave is Coming

Hello friends, Ann here!Record

I hope these recent words from the archives have been refreshing your souls. Don’t we need it right now! After a year of sitting through this pandemic, we certainly can do with a little spark of fresh stuff.

So, let's roll up our sleeves and carry on a little longer with these promises from God.

If you haven’t already, you might like to read the comments that three of our long-time SUMites wrote underneath my last post. I so loved hearing their gems of insight on the Harvest that we’ve been talking about.

Now, here's the next word:

We've been looking at how in mid 2013 the Lord spoke to us about ‘The Coming Harvest’ in several ways. This included the vision described in the last post. But after all those words about the harvest, there is now one more word that the Lord gave Dineen, and it's a mighty word for our community. You can read more about it here. The core word is this:

A great wave is coming.

Many souls to be claimed and collected.

Watch and see.

My heart is always for the many.

A great wave. A wave of the Holy Spirit, power and authority, perhaps. A wave of shaking as well. A wave. A wave crashing into our world.

Wave

That word about the wave was written by Dineen in 2013. So, are we seeing that wave now, with COVID? We can get on our knees and ask God about that. My understanding is that COVID is the first step. I've heard God say that COVID is a 'micro-wave' that is paving the way for the walls of Jericho to fall. The most important part is the wave of salvation power to follow, where things will change for unbelievers. And that is the part we must engage the most with.

Yep! The main -- most important -- part is the good stuff God is bringing next. Salvation to souls.

With that in mind, you might like to consider this next story:

Last week here in New Zealand we had a tsunami warning. I know several of you saw it on the news and you reached out and asked if we were all ok -- That was so nice, and thank you, I'm pleased to say we're all fine here. What may not have been evident to those overseas was the rarity of this tsunami warning: It was an unprecedented event in our nation.

What happened was we had three earthquakes in the ocean at about 2am, 6am, and 8am. The first and third were linked but the second was not, so scientists were scratching their heads, puzzled. I always think when scientists are puzzled there's something interesting going on. The newspaper headlines described it as a ‘Rare and noteable event’.

Much of the country went onto a tsunami alert, whole towns were evacuated and the whole coastline of New Zealand’s north island was under threat. Some parts severely, some less so, but every part was under some kind of 'alert'. All TV programmes were cancelled to make way for the ongoing civil defence updates. There were lines of traffic, crowds of people waiting on hills, and an alarm that went out on our phones from civil defence that sounded like something out of wartime. It was actually highly dramatic! So, all in all, a loud and clear ‘Tsunami Warning’.

Now, God speaks through signs and symbols throughout the Bible. And so, my very first reaction to this tsunami warning was: 'God is saying something through this.' And I believe that 'something' is that a wave of revival is coming. 

What do we do with this? The word above tells us: Watch. And See.

Pray. Be alert. See what happens next. And, in the meantime, reflect on the part what God says: My Heart is for the many.

My friends, as always I would love to hear your thoughts if anything particular springs to mind. For now, I just want to say 'Be encouraged!'

With love,

Ann


Jesus, I can't see past my SUM!

Happy Friday, friends -- Ann here!Record

Today, I’d like to share a vision that the Lord gave our community a few years ago. It was Dineen who received it, and she shared it on the blog -- The original article is here.

I hope when you read the vision below it will encourage you! Here’s the description of what the Lord showed Dineen (in her words):

“I was half awake, half asleep (it's possible it was a vision...I honestly don't know). I stood before a tall crop—corn I believe. Jesus stood next to me.

He gestured to the crop and said, "This is the Great Harvest."

I said, "Lord, I can't see past this, can you show me more?"

Suddenly I was up higher and could see tall mountains in the far distance. The crop spanned all the way to the mountains!” 

It’s a short vision, but sometimes God speaks volumes through few words. If we take the view that Dineen represents us – the SUMites – standing and looking at this, the following are some thoughts on this encouraging picture from the Lord: Corn

We know from scripture that Jesus spoke symbolically in his parables. So here we can look at the different symbols and think about what they mean:

The tall corn in our immediate view.

The fact Jesus is next to us.

The words that Jesus says: "This is the great harvest".

The fact we say: "I can’t see past this!" And then the fact that he takes us to a higher perspective and shows us what's actually beyond.

Phew!! It's a rich picture.

What do the tall mountains in the distance represent, I wonder? I’m still mulling that over, as mountains can represent a number of things in scripture. That one I will be praying about, for I know that every symbol in a vision is relevant but sometimes we don't understand instantly. Perhaps you have an instant sense of what those mountains represent? If so, do share!

What I really believe Jesus is showing us in this vision is that this harvest -- What we’re stepping into next -- is huge!

And, there's usually some kind of call to respond that's included in a word (vision) like this. In this case, I believe what Jesus might be asking us to do is listen to these words of his: 'This is the great harvest', start to allow him to take our perspective higher, and be willing to look beyond the immediate issues of our family's salvation.

It is difficult to do that -- To see past the immediate crop of our spouse and family. But there is more beyond our SUM. And our time of labor is only the beginning.

This very week, in fact, God said this to me: "You are stepping out of this season." By that, I understood that I am going to be stepping out of this time where there's been a faith difference with my husband. This is something I have known for quite some time: That the SUM season is one stage in my faith life that opens up into something quite different. I don't know the timing (I know God is leisurely about such things!) but I receive it. Given Dineen's vision, I can't help but believe this is a wider word for our community.

I'll leave it there. What do you think of this? Do any initial thoughts come to mind from reading this vision? I hope it blessed you.

Have a lovely weekend, and we'll be back on Monday.

Ann


The Harvest - The Many!

Dear friends, Ann here! Record

One of the things I’m currently thinking about is the word 'Harvest' and how it relates to all we have been through in this community.

I guess I feel we've been prepared through some pretty gruelling training (i.e., the challenges of a spiritual mismatch), and that training has equipped us to carry the Gospel outwards more -- Soon.

Here in our little home on the web, we've been learning to love. Specifically, we have learnt how to love our spouse well, and to love the church. Our SUM has been a deeply refining experience – We can all attest to that! But now it may be that we take that love and carry it outwards more.

I could write an essay on what a faith difference in marriage has done for my own character. Where would I begin? For me, perhaps the biggest thing has been to overcome cowardice when carrying the Gospel. People can be scary but I've become brave: Brave about stepping out for God (even if I am inwardly quaking!) For you it may be something else.

I can also say that I have come to understand why others don't believe or submit, and how to fight for another person’s soul. I’ve learnt to Win Without Words and to March Around Jericho. Phew, what a ride!

But now, several books and fifteen years of blog posts later, here we sit waiting for the dust to settle from a year-long pandemic; and perhaps we can say that we are now equipped to march forth. We are ready to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ forward, and to be used by God in whatever way he plans.

To that I say, ‘Here I am, Lord, send me!’ and I know the hearts of many here say the same.

With all that in mind, today I would like to share a quote from our archives. This is something that Dineen wrote a few years ago. She said:

“We have a unique calling that goes beyond us, beyond our marriages. As I’ve shared before God is a redeemer. He wastes nothing. We’ve been thinking and believing that our calling is right in our homes, in our marriages. And God is saying, that is just preparation for a greater movement that He is getting us ready for. God is calling us to believe Him like we never have before.”

I’d particularly like to grab these words and run with them:

We’ve been thinking and believing that our calling is right in our homes and our marriages. And God is saying, that is just preparation for a greater movement that he is getting us ready for.

Dineen then went on to say this:

“Early last year, we received an email from a reader that her husband had come to Jesus. A tearful and joyful moment to be sure. As I praised God, I heard Him speak to my spirit, “This is the first of many.” Harvest

That was Dineen. I always loved reading her words from the Lord as she had a beautiful relationship with Him. And now today I seize these words and say once again: "Yes, we believe there will be many!"

We’re waiting for many, many spouses here to receive Jesus; we’re also waiting for many children within our homes; and we’re waiting for friends and others in our lives. But I believe that God has promised us the many.

The harvest! It's exciting.

I'm smiling here, and cheer you on from my little corner. I know how deep you have dug and how tough the soil has been. So, for now, here's a question:

Do you look back on your SUM and recognize ways that it has made you more useable to God?

Sending you love today!

Ann


The Harvest Ahead

Dear friends, Ann here.Record

I mentioned on Monday that I would share some words from our archives that God gave our community.

These words are promises that we're dusting off now because they feel relevant for today. For the past months I've been hearing God that after this pandemic many of us are going to see more outward victory from the seeds we've sown. That's exciting to me. Does it mean salvations? Oh I hope so!

How are you feeling right now about this, I wonder? We reach a point where we settle in and become used to it 'not happening'. But we can now sit up and get a little more ready: We're watching something very unusual happen in our world, and things are moving. 

While we wait, one thing we must do is refresh our vision. And we can do this by reviewing some of the important things that God has said to us. In that spirit, then, I'm going to share a word below that God gave Lynn in April 2013.

Before I go on, that week was a significant week; but in a sad and startling way. One of our beloved writers and ministry partners died in a car crash on the way to a conference we were holding. Her name was Rosheeda Lee and I know some here will remember that. The SUM community celebrated Rosheeda being in Heaven with Jesus, but it also felt tragic. Especially for her parents.

I discovered something strange about that, however, last week. It was only days after Rosheeda went home that I (a future writer) heard God's voice in my living room for the first time. Shortly after, I was born again. Her seed fell to the ground that week but God wants us to know he is with our ministry.

Now we have Rosheeda in the cloud of witnesses helping us run this race (Hebrews 12:1). It is noteworthy that it was she who coined our name: SUMites, and so now she stands for us in Heaven. Beloved Rosheeda.

That week was important. And here is what the Lord now says as we continue to run this extreme and challenging SUM race:

SUMites, you are in training to be harvesters!

For here is what Lynn wrote that significant week (April 2013), and it is certainly worth us mulling over these words:

“In the last week I’ve talked to God a lot about our community and I keep hearing this passage that Jesus spoke in Luke. Harvest

He (Jesus) told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Luke 10:2 NIV

I’m convinced that this family at SUM is in training to be Harvesters. My friends, think about it. I’m convinced by the Spirit that this time period and this generation sits on the precipice of one of the greatest revivals the world has ever experienced. We have been chosen to take what we have gained through our community here to the communities, the individuals, the broken and bleeding souls around us, we are to take the Good News!!!

You may read this right now and begin nodding your head because you know this is true. You may read this and think, “Lynn, you’re crazy.” But I want you to know that if you are part of this community, you are being called to be a harvester. Especially if you feel ill-equipped when you read this. I always feel ill-equipped. It’s us ordinary people that bring great glory to God when we move in His love and power to accomplish His purposes. So, as we move forward in this series, I want you to pray about how God is already using you as a harvester and ask Him about what more He has for you in the days ahead.”

***

So, that was Lynn, and what a wonderful word. Can I suggest a little exercise for us? That we sit with God over this coming weekend and ask Him those two questions:

Lord, how are you already using me as a harvester?

What do you have for me in the days ahead?

Sometimes God takes a while to answer, but if you do sense an answer about this would you share in the comments below? I would love to hear it.

I'll pause there and continue next time. But what an adventure we are on, and a joy to be in this together! 

Ann


On Shedding the 'Unequally Yoked' Badge

Hello friends, Ann here!Badge

It's been a couple of weeks since I last wrote, but in my last post I shared a story from our archives where the Holy Spirit had given us a caution about using the ‘unequally yoked’ label too much. To catch up, you can read that post here. Today I'm interested in chatting a bit more about that -- the 'unequally-yoked' badge.

I certainly can relate to the issue of using the 'spiritually mismatched' label a little much. As a woman, I share my feelings easily with others, and when I’m with other Christians I talk about my faith challenges. Well, the spiritual mismatch is the major challenge, right?

Except … it’s easy to mention this thing to any Tom, Dick or Harry at church and suddenly we’re allowing them into our marriage, which is a private space. That thought makes me sad. I think my husband would hope that doesn't happen.

I guess over the years I’ve become more wary about sharing this precious and difficult thing that Bryce and I walk. But guarding the tongue takes practice, especially if you are naturally a bit talkative!

As for the label itself, which we do use in the SUM community, what are we to make of the words that the Holy Spirit gave us (mentioned in my last post)? Let's take another look at those beautiful -- and perspective-changing -- words:

Beloved SUMites:

Your marriages are not mismatched or unequally yoked.

Your marriages are Mine.

Your husbands are Mine.

They are Mine.

Words like these are designed by the Lord to give us the mind of Christ. He always sees things differently to the way we naturally do and he will often ask us to lift our eyes above the circumstances. He wants us to walk in hope, peace and joy!

Of course, we can't deny the battle. If we were too euphemistic in our words, people wouldn't be able to find this blog and know we're here to help them deal with spiritual mismatch in marriage. The Bible uses the term ‘unbelieving wife’ and ‘unbelieving husband’ (1 Corinthians 7:14) with honesty. So, we do the same in this ministry to articulate the challenge for others who need help. Even then, I have to say I use the label cautiously (Proverbs 18:21).

Perhaps the issue is not so much about using the label as much as it's about our hearts. If the label is used to minister to other SUMites it's a different thing to us using the label widely and without respect for our spouse. So, while I'm open with SUMites I've become much more guarded when talking with other Christians. If I do talk about it I'll say something like this:

"My husband and I do have a difference in what we believe, but we're still happily married."

“My husband doesn’t go to church with me, so I tend to do that side of things by myself.”

In fact, I had this role-modelled to me a few years ago when I sidled up to an older woman at church. I wanted to ask her about her non-attending husband. All she said was this, smiling:

“You're right, he doesn't come to church. But you know what, he is the most amazing man. It's not ideal, but he's a fantastic husband.” 

I liked that.

Ultimately, what I know is that God sees the end from the beginning. This present moment is not the final answer and when God looks at our marriage he sees its final day and every day leading up to that. As he sees the bigger picture, his word on the matter is this:

Your marriage is not mismatched. It is Mine.

If we can believe these words, our job is then to 'call things that are not as though they were' (Romans 4:17). That is, we can go so far as to say verbally to others: "My husband -- He belongs to the Lord", or "My marriage -- It belongs to God", or perhaps we can even smile to ourselves and think about that declaration of the Holy Spirit: Not mismatched.

My friends, I hope you've found that interesting -- It's been food for thought for me. For now, here's a question: How do you approach this issue when talking with other Christians about your situation and your life? We'll chat in the comments.

Ann


Taking Off the Badge

Hi friends, Ann here!Record

We’re currently looking at past words that God has spoken to our community. To catch up, here are the recent posts:

Part one - 'Museum of SUM'

Part two - 'God is Calling our Spouses'

Now, this next word I’m going to share is one where the Lord gave us an adjustment. In it he was encouraging us to adjust a particular aspect of our walk. It’s shared with warm humor by Lynn but when I read it I did nod and say all over again, 'Yes, Lord.' 

It happened at the conference that Lynn and Dineen attended on 12 October 2012. Lynn tells the story, which I’ve copied below. It's a longer one, so perhaps make a drink and settle in ... Then we can chat in the comments.

**

Lynn's Story, 2 November 2012

"Sometimes are you overcome and overwhelmed with the sheer love and patience God bestows upon you? 

Ya? 

Glad it’s not just me. 

His relentless persistence to get through to my heart and more, my thick-head, is astounding. In the weeks since the conference, I feel like I’m reading scripture for the first time. I’m in love with the book of Luke right now and can’t get enough. I’m reading that book like it was personally written for me. Scripture verses have new meaning, depth and POWER in my life. 

I’m not sure how long this post will be but I’m writing until the entire story is out. Because it is HIS-story and all for His glory. 

I think I mentioned in the post about Maria that God was intentionally selective about the conferees that He placed around us during the three day event. Our God did not waste one minute of the conference. He sent Helen to us at lunch and Maria next to me in the audience and Laura prayed with us in the bathroom. That story still makes me chuckle (a tale for another day, I promise). 

But God also used Heidi, Dineen and me as we spoke truth and love into each other’s lives. A bond of love formed between the three of us that is impenetrable, powerful, perfect and sealed in eternal love. I hope all of you experience this kind of Kingdom friendship and love. 

Onward. It was the last day of the conference and all throughout the day, through people like Laura, Darlene, and Helen God was trying to talk to Dineen and I. He wanted to speak about something Dineen and I wear. You see we kinda promote this badge on our chest. I’m still struggling to figure out how it comes to rest on my chest and why. But the badge we wear says this: 

I’m unequally yoked. 

Truly we have moved past wearing this badge as martyrs. It’s just easy to say, “I’m unequally yoked” because in Christian circles people always reply to our declaration with a serious nod of understanding accompanied by eyes full of concern or pity and they utter one word, “Oh.” As if to say, I see, I get it, poor you. 

Sheesh, just writing that makes my stomach turn. Onward. 

Well after three days of proudly wearing our invisible but very discernible badges around the place and after God sending people to us to speak gently about our malady of unequalness, God was sick of us. So He sent in Heidi. 

We were walking along the road to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Now I don’t recall the conversation specifics at the moment. I think we were talking about Laura and the words she prayed over us in the women’s restroom. And Heidi with trepidation in her voice says, “Did you hear what she was saying to you?” 

“Ya, I thought I did.” 

Heidi looked at me and Dineen with uncertainty in her eyes and then she ventured, “I really don’t know how to say this and I’m not saying this to be hurtful or anything but I don’t think you are hearing what God is saying to you.” 

I froze in my tracks on the side of the road with cars passing by. I stared at Heidi and Dineen was standing right there frozen as well. “I just hear God telling me to tell you this. ‘Your marriages are not mismatched or unequally yoked. Your marriages are mine. Your husbands are mine.’” 

Gulp! 

Instantly I felt chastised by our most loving and Holy God. 

Heidi rushed on, “Please don’t be mad but I hear God telling me to say to you, ‘They are mine.” 

That instant my heart broke wide open. I felt ashamed that I had not believed God about this and even more shame that for so, so long I’ve worn this stupid “spiritually mismatched” badge about my person. 

She said, “Your words have created a prison where you have held your husband in a cell.”

Pain. O, the pain. 

However the pain and shame instantly left me as I said to Heidi, “Oh Heidi, you are right. God is so right.” 

It was at the moment that I opened the doors of the prison. I tore off the badge and I surrendered it to God. I remember saying to Heidi and Dineen, “This changes everything. Even our ministry. Perhaps we are to even change our ministry name?” A million thoughts rushed into my head. And those thoughts Dineen and I are still wrangling with today. 

Out of this entire exchange what has remained profound and clear to me are three words that the Father spoke to me and Dineen, “They are mine.” 

My friends, deep calls to deep. Step into this deep with me and see if you can uncover the truth of those three words in your life. What are the implications? Why it is God would say this to Dineen and I, “They (our husbands) are mine.” 

Now I have to also be clear in this. Heidi spoke these words as they were placed upon her through the Holy Spirit and they were intended for Dineen and I. However, I also believe they are intended for our community. But there is a progression or a spiritual shift that happens within us that allows God to speak these words to those of us who live with an unsaved spouse. And it’s this development, this shift that changes everything. And I’m desperate to share this with you so that you don’t have to be hit upside the head from a close friend on the side of the road."

**

Well, that’s the story! We'll build on it in a future post, but in the meantime I'd love to hear your thoughts. See you in the comments.

Ann


Waging War With God's Words

Hi SUMites, Ann here!  Rings

As you know, we’re currently looking at past words that the Holy Spirit has spoken to this community. In our archives there are places where the Lord has said something specific to equip us, and I’m in the process of pulling these words out, in date order, to see how the Lord has progressively spoken to us as a body.

What does God want us to know? Where does he want us to focus our minds? What wisdom does he have for us?

On Monday I shared the first of these words. It was the simplest of words that the Lord gave Dineen for this community but sometimes he gives us simple truths to digest, especially as a first step. Dineen described the word as this:

He is calling our pre-believers with His salvation.

We need only lift our face to Him and trust that He is doing it.

When we receive such a word, our role is then to engage with it. Believe it. Turn it over in our minds. For example, we could go about our week asking 'What does it mean or look like for the Lord to be ‘calling’ my spouse?'

One way of engaging with a word from the Holy Spirit is to write it up and pop it somewhere accessible, at least for a little while. So today I have a post-it stuck on the wall by my washing-up sink. It says:

“He is calling my husband. Keep lifting my eyes heavenward!”

This is what Paul advised his younger believer, Timothy, to do in 1 Timothy 1:18: Wage war with a prophetic word. Speak it out in faith. God has said he is 'calling', and so we can align our thoughts with it and consider it carefully.

There is a scripture in the Psalms that vividly depicts how a body of people, like us SUMites, can 'wage war' with God's words. That scripture is super interesting, and I might unpack it a little. It says this:

"The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those who proclaimed it:

‘Kings of armies flee, they flee, and she who remains at home divides the spoil. Though you lie down among the sheepfolds, you will be like the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.'

When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Zalmon."

(Psalm 68:11-14, NKJV)

What’s interesting here is that the first sentence uses the Hebrew word o'mer for ‘word’, which can mean promise. In other words, the Lord gave a promise and then a company of people proclaimed that very promise themselves. They were a great company too: Like the SUMites!

The middle lines are the promise itself: That kings of armies would flee, and it has a wonderful air of mystery with visions of gold and silver feathers. When God speaks, there may well be some mystery included. Anyway, it is this promise that the company of people declared. And then the final line (verse 14) documents that the Almighty did scatter the kings, just as he had promised. Exactly as the company of people had proclaimed.

SUMites, we are like that great company of people in Psalm 68 who received promises straight from the Lord, declared them, and eventually would see victory. Let’s keep on waging war with the things he has shown us.

On Friday I will share another word from the archives. Lovely chatting, and see you then! 

Ann


Esther Summer Study: A Seed of Strength

Ann here!  Esther

Oh, I enjoyed the story of the crazy King and Vashti on Monday. Now, let’s hurtle towards chapter 2, where we meet Esther, this “lovely and beautiful” daughter of God. She carries an intense cocktail of pain and growing strength.

What is it we ourselves carry? Something similar I’d say, even though different. I see Esther as a fragile baby bird: Orphaned and snatched. But I also see her as strong as an ox. The 'ox' part comes later.

Putting ourselves in her shoes, can you imagine being taken hostage for the sole purpose of a King's pleasure? It makes me inwardly choke. I wonder how she would have felt; I really don’t know. There was an honor to it, but a powerlessness. After her night with the King, in my mind it gets worse: She was shifted to a different house (v.14). No longer a virgin, she was now an on-demand concubine. Uggh. It seems her husband celebrates her, but after his big Feast of Esther (v.18), the very next verse tells us he gathers a new wave of virgins, a faithless husband.

He might be a King but he’s a distorted one. It goes on today, distortions of relationships. Our world and its ways are so far from God’s heart, we cannot conceptualize the chasm between what we are now and what we should have been. To adapt the words of a Beatles song:

Yesterday.

How I wish it were yesterday.

In the Garden of Eden.

I’m not half the man I was meant to be.

As a refreshing breath, I like looking at Jesus, the human God meant us to be. He was radical. He was homeless, for a start -- Voluntarily. That alone captures His difference. I also like to look at his deep love for women, opposite to King Xerxes. 

To sit with Jesus, for a minute, I see He had special moments with His male disciples: John leaned on His chest, Peter breakfasted with Him; but there was also VIP treatment for women. The women’s moments are poignant: It was the girls who were the first to preach the Gospel of His Resurrection Life at dawn, and the first to care for his bruised body. Symbolically, this tells me of His honor for women.

Beautiful Esther is not just a champion for women. She represents anyone on the back foot, the weaker vessel; and she shows that such a person can walk with the strength of an ox. Her point of difference is Mordecai. He quietly speaks, speaks into her ear. With that gift – Like the Holy Spirit -- she is as strong as an ox, able to plough the toughest heart soil. The Apostle Paul received that very same whisper:

“And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' ” 2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV.

I look at her early life and think “Esther, you have no idea yet how much strength you carry.” Indeed, we know the full story. We can see her strength with the King in later chapters, but for now – as a newlywed – that strength is only a seed. Her story mirrors Joseph’s: There is a pit before the favor comes in prison.

Like Joseph, Esther’s favor explodes: She ends up second in the Kingdom, signet rings are distributed, and God’s people (the Jews) are kept safe as a result. In verses 9-10 she pleases the eunuch Hegai so much she is given every provision she could possibly hope for. Why this favor? Could it be that her ancestral promise from Jacob kicks in? She is a Benjamite, and long ago he blessed her:

“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; In the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.” Genesis 49:27, NKJV.

This blessing means she carries a seed of power. Hers is a conquering kind of strength. And, what else does she carry? A scriptural gem within her very name, Hadassah (v.7), which means ‘myrtle’.

“And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree.” Isaiah 55:13.

That verse -- the myrtle verse -- sits within the wider, well known Isaiah 55. It’s a chapter worth revisiting with Esther, and perhaps ourselves, in mind. It makes me want to shout from the rooftops that we can dream big, because that is what both Isaiah 55 and the book of Esther tell us!

SUMites, I can’t wait to chat more in the comments.


The Summit

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After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.

10 And they were shouting with a GREAT ROAR:

“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
    and from the Lamb!”

 

The Next SUMMIT. Perhaps in Florida, New Zealand, England, Canada? Jesus, we will go where you send. Thank you Lord for this amazing experience together under your love and grace. AMEN