9 posts categorized "Book of James"

A Culture of Honor

Happy Friday, SUM friends! Compass 2

In my last post I mulled over the difference between judging and discerning. Well, today I want to add one final layer:

Love.

I heard a minister of the Gospel once say the biggest thing God will ask you when you finally meet him face-to-face is this: "Did you learn to love?"

It could be so. There is so much about love in the New Testament.

There's a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world, and sometimes in the church too. This means that we surely do need eyes of discernment so that we can keep going in the right direction. We need to keep following our true north (God), as if we're holding a compass and trying to constantly gauge his direction.

But, equally, when we discern we have to discern lovingly. And what does love look like when we're trying to discern things? Here are a few thoughts:

  • In the church, uphold a culture of honor in our interactions with others.
  • When thinking or speaking, we can ask: Am I being honoring in my tone and attitude?
  • Look first for the good in others' hearts. 
  • Remember that people are growing 
  • And finally, don't speak bad things about another Christian to their fellow brothers and sisters. It puts a wedge between relationships in the church.

If we do the above, we'll do a better job at navigating some of those tricky things that happen in churches. Churches are messy, not perfect, so we are given plenty of opportunity to practice the above.

All the while, we're meant to not condone sin as Christians, and that's a biggie. Sometimes we'll see ministers step in, for example, and stop certain behaviors in the church for the sake of the wider flock. But overall we can all still uphold a love for God in a way that is gentle and kind in manner, as far as possible.

So that was a final thought. I'd love to hear any further thoughts in the comments; and let's pray:

Lord God, help us to get a good balance in our lives between standing for truth and loving people lavishly. Give us more wisdom on this one in our personal lives, and Lord help us relate to people in the way you would have related to them when you were on earth. We love you, Jesus, thank you for being here and being ours. In Your name, we pray. Amen.

Love,

Ann


Judging vs Discerning: What's the Difference?

Ann here! Compass

Today I want to chew over a question we discussed in last week's Zoom session on the Book of James: What is the difference between 'Judging' and 'Discerning' when it comes to other people?

Have you wrestled with that one at all? 

Perhaps we can all think of times we've been faced with a Christian who's behaving in a way we wouldn't, or saying things that are harmful. Perhaps you feel they are saying things that are untrue, for example. And then you think, "Why are they saying that?" Before you know it, you're kinda judging them ...

Well, I've been there, anyway.

There are circumstances that call for discernment. For example, I've had a couple of Christians in my extended family whose words have not been right, and those words affected me. To keep my own faith on track, I had to try to discern what was going on -- With them, with me.

This is hard stuff.

If we walk round trying to be 'discerning' it can be faulty if we're not walking closely with God. Some people are downright suspicious of everything, thinking they're discerning, but suspicion and discernment are not the same thing. Any of us can also be wrong when discerning, and it's possible to be judging someone under the guise of 'discerning'. Gulp!

However, discernment is critical and valid in the Body of Christ. So, how do we figure it out? Perhaps the first step is that love must be our motive.

James says:

Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver who is able to save and destroy. Who are you to judge another? (James 4:11-12, NKJV).

And Jesus says:

Judge not that you be not judged, for with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured back to you (Matthew 7:1-2, NKJV).

Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye (v. 5).

We start from a place of humility. Laid on the floor we say "Lord, help me see this right."

The Bible does speak of discernment as important, and we certainly see the Apostle Paul and Jesus calling people out for things that are wrong. Here are a couple of things about discernment:

(1) Sometimes God gives you the ability to discern the spirit behind something (1 Corinthians 12:10).  Namely, he will show you whether the Holy Spirit is guiding this person's words/actions, or if there is some other demonic spirit or simply their broken flesh.

The purpose of showing you that is so that you yourself can stay your course, and possibly also pray for the person. You have to know his voice to walk in this, and usually it's not to be spoken out to others. Use it instead for your prayer time, between you and God.

(2) We learn to discern good and evil, naturally, as we mature as Christians and go through various situations.

Hebrews 5:13-14 talks about mature Christians who "by reason of use have had their senses exercised to discern both good and evil". From walking with God and going through various difficult situations we get used to analyzing good vs evil, truth vs lies, and then we can look at a given situation that comes up and be discerning.

One of our SUMites, Roselind, said something helpful on last week's Zoom call. She said (I'm paraphrasing), "Judging is where you align with the accuser and start accusing the other person, whereas discernment is often used to pray for the person."

That was a great comment. Judging does not have love at its core, but discernment should, keeping the Body of Christ in truth and safety.

It is still hard to work out, but perhaps some of the above ideas can help us navigate this tricky one. And above all, we must watch those thoughts and words of ours so that everything we speak builds up the Body of Christ.

I'll continue in my next post with one more thing that we need to remember. But for now, here's a question:

Have you been in a situation where you've been tempted to judge, and/or have found yourself discerning?

Looking forward to chatting more.

Ann


That Difficult-to-Tame Tongue

By Ann Hutchison  Tongue

"I have a husband at home, and he's not a Christian." I was standing opposite a man at church whom I'd never met. "It's all a bit new to us this whole church thing," I said, munching away on a biscuit. My companion nodded sympathetically.

It was a couple of years into my spiritual mismatch in marriage, and I was in full SUM-pain-mode, talking far too much about it to anyone who would listen. Yak yak yak, I continued, telling this man all about the situation, and how hard it was.

A short time after that God whispered to me, "Ann do you realize what you did there?" And he showed me something:

He gave me a vision of a view that you would see if you held a piece of paper up between your two eyes and then looked at the view using both eyes. Perhaps you could try it now to see what I mean? What you see with a piece of paper between your eyes is two different things at the same time, and a blur -- - Your eyes do not work together.

God explained the vision to me:

"Ann, what you've done in speaking those words about your husband to another person is construct a spiritual barrier in your marriage. By putting that barrier in place with your tongue, you have prevented Bryce from seeing spiritual truth jointly with you. Watch every word you speak about him from now on. Only speak life, not death. Then, if you do that, you will eventually see as one." Declaration Sep 1

I put my head in my hands and groaned. And I believe that as I repented that barrier dissolved. Thank God for Jesus, and the power of his restoration. Still, I learnt a serious lesson.

That vision was so instructive for me, in fact, that from then on I watched every single word I spoke about Bryce, and militantly so.

Every. single. word. My prayer is this: Lord, let my tongue promote health!

I wanted to share that story because last week in our study of the Book of James we reached the famous passage on the untamable tongue:

We put bits in horses' mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so, the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:3-8, NKJV).

In that study Lynn shared a true story: There was a man whose way of hearing God was that he would sometimes see things in the spirit realm with his natural eyes. He was having an argument with his wife one day, spoke some thoughtless words to her that labelled her in some way, and as he did he saw a cut appear on her face as a result of his words. That's how stark this thing is. Ann and Bryce

In our marriages, this means that we have the power to speak life or death over our spouse. We want to bring life to them -- We're desperate for that -- so we need to put our tongues into the right kind of action. 

Instead of a cut on the face, I wonder what kind of visual it would be if we used words of blessing over someone. God showed me once that when I bless people with my words, it's like rainbows come out of my mouth and hit those people. I like that image!

So these days, instead of referring to someone -- anyone -- as 'atheist', 'not a Christian', 'narcissistic', 'addicted to xyz', or any other kind of label, I'll stop and think quite carefully about what I say. For that little tongue of mine is a powerful little thing.

How easy or difficult do you find it to watch the words you speak about your spouse?   

Love you all,

Ann


Trials -- Count it all Joy?!

Dear friends, Ann here. His word 2

Sigh, my heart is full! Yesterday morning I got up, made a pot of coffee, opened Zoom and there was Lynn along with a screen full of other SUM faces. Most were from America, one from England, and another from New Zealand.

When I see the SUM community in person like that I want to reach through the screen, pull you into my living room, and say a big hello. There's a lot of love here for you.

Most enjoyably, we sat with the Word of God for 40 minutes, then broke off into discussion groups.

My friends, if you want to join in next week or any of the following weeks, for as much or little as you can, please do. Email me at annhutch42@gmail.com. I might even be able to send you a recording of this last session (we're still working that out). I can certainly send you the Zoom link for upcoming sessions. 3pm Pacific, Wednesdays.

The Word of God. Isn't it wonderful! Since we're in the Book of James, can I encourage you to read it, even if you're not able to join on Zoom? I also will write the odd post about James on the blog as we focus on that book. Today, I want to do that, so here's a little introductory thought:

This week, a long-time friend of our community, Jim Edwards, sent me some writing that he had done about the Book of James. He wrote a book called Living and Breathing Hebrews to Jude (2008), and it's a paraphrase of the New Testament's epistles. I read the James segment and absolutely loved it. (Man, how I love the creative things God births through people in our community!) From that, here's something Jim wrote --

"James is full of one-liners: some seriously tough sound-bites. As sound-bites they can easily be misunderstood, and easily produce condemnation—beware! Each chapter has at least one. I’ve highlighted them in the notes, but you are likely to hardly notice them in my translation.

Most, however, are wonderful, direct, hard-hitting promises, where direct simple language helps the memory and adds power to the simple statement."

I'd never thought of the Book of James like that, but it's true. As you read it, you do get pummeled by the occasional 'oomph' verse that makes you gulp.

So I wanted to share the first one of those today, right from chapter 1:2. Are you ready? Here we go:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials (James 1:2, NKJV).

Really?

The verse continues:

.. knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing

My friends, what are the trials you've been through as part of your faith walk? How hard have they been? For me, certain trials have been almost unbearable; others not quite so stark, but still trials. Today I wrote in the margin five key trials I've been through since being a Christian. One of those is the SUM. At points in my SUM I have thought "Nothing could be as hard as this." There's something about the SUM walk that is so very difficult because it involves deeply spiritual issues.

Another trial I faced was a nine-month period of illness last year - Illness that was mysterious to the doctors, and for which there was no apparent solution. That was no light thing to walk through either. Almost every day during those nine months I had a little cry to myself. It was a different kind of battle to the SUM.

Count it joy? That I can do when I'm through the battle. It's harder to do when in the battle. But I can certainly engage with the concept and think about what it means.

Here's something intriguing Lynn said today on Zoom. She said (I'm paraphrasing): "Trials show you what lies you've been believing, and help you break those lies." Not that God brings us our trials, but he uses them mightily.

So, here's a discussion question: Think back on a trial you have faced. What lies did it bring to light?

Wow, that's a deep question. I might need some time to think on that myself. I'll leave you with it, and here's to us enjoying the Book of James these next few weeks. If you want to post your answer to the question in the comments, please do!

Love you all,

Ann


Let's Talk Live and Fall Bible Study

Hi SUMites,

Today we have a couple of things to update you on --

Let's Talk Live and Fall Bible Study

We're going to pause our Let's Talk Live videos for the next few weeks, until 19 October 2022. So, you won't see us streaming on YouTube or Facebook for a while. BUT, instead, we'll be running our study of the Book of James on Zoom for five weeks, starting today. We really can't wait to see you. It is free, and if you haven't already there's still time for you to sign up:

REGISTER NOW! Study of the Book of James (Spiritually Unequal Marriage)

Latest Video on Difficult Marriages

I also wanted to share the last live video that Lynn and I did, about difficult marriages. We know that some in our community are battling through a very challenging marriage, and you really have our hearts. In this video we had a conversation about how a believer can navigate that situation.

So, those are our two updates today. Looking forward to seeing as many of you on Zoom this week as can make it, and we will be back again on the blog on Friday.

Love,

Ann


Book of James: Have You Signed Up?

Team SUM, hi! Book of James

The time is fast approaching for our Fall Bible Study! Yes, we are going to study the Book of James, and it will start next week on Wednesday. I (Ann) really can't wait, and I know Lynn is super looking forward to it too.

One of the things we're most looking forward to is seeing your faces on Zoom.

So, with that in mind, if you haven't already signed up, here are the details again:

Event Timing: Wednesdays starting: September 14 through October 12, 2022

Event Address: Zoom Meeting Every Wednesday at 3:00 PM, Pacific (Check your local time zone.)
Registration is Free. You will receive a Zoom link upon the completion of your registration.

To register, click on this link below:

REGISTER NOW! Study of the Book of James (Spiritually Unequal Marriage)

There are quite a few of us signed up already, and the more the merrier we say. We truly are a church without walls.

See you next week!

Ann 


Book of James Study

Book of James GraphicOn Monday registration opens for the LIVE Zoom study of the Book of James. This is a five-week study of the entire book. This book is all about practical faith. Ann and I will be teaching this study for five consecutive weeks. Martha is writing a few questions for our homework assignment. This will help to flesh out the lessons in our daily life!

Bring your Bible, your hunger, your pen and paper. Have coffee ready to go because I talk fast!!!  grin

Check in here on Monday, August 15th and sign up. It will only take a minute. After you register, the Zoom link will be provided. Plan to copy and store it somewhere to be ready when it's time to meet up.

We will have a great time of community and learning!

Jesus is King!  Hugs, Lynn


Up Coming Events

Hey SUMites!  

Lynn Donovan here. While Ann is traveling, I'm going to pop in and take the reins for a few weeks. So here is what I have planned.

First, on Wednesday, August 3rd at 3 pm pacific time, I'm LIVE on Facebook and YouTube to talk about some miraculous salvations. This talk is to explain what happened and how after 30-year friendship, Jesus shows up. AND the Holy Spirit went wild. It's a fantastic and unbelievable story that includes the supernatural.

The following Wednesday, August 10th, I have another salvation story that still blows my mind. I'm sharing these stories because they release hope into your life for the salvations you are waiting for. YOU WILL BE IN AWE! Because Jesus is on the move and He uses ordinary people, like us!  

MARK YOUR CALENDAR! DON'T MISS IT!

Book of James GraphicNext Ann, Martha Bush, and I will be leading a LIVE video teaching of the Book of James. This book is all about Practical Faith. You MUST have this down to advance into greater faith practices. After this teaching, you should be able to teach this book at your church, home group, your kids, etc. More details ahead. Begins second week of September. And it will include homework. Ya, it takes work to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! 

You will be blessed. I promise.

 

Additionally, I'm pondering about doing some live teaching through Lynndonovan.com regarding healing. Physical healing that comes from Christ. I'm still pondering about when, how and if I have the capacity to handle all of this while still settling into our new home. 

I wanted to share with all of you one of the great blessings that Father has given to me in our new home. 

I love nature. And here where I live the deer roam the streets, nearly unafraid of humans. 

The other evening, I was walking from the kitchen toward our bedroom and happened to glance outside our dining room window toward the front yard. 

This is what I saw:

Doe at Window July 2022

A doe resting under the tree, eating her cud. She stared at me. I at her. I smiled. 

I'm so thankful that Father has provided this haven for Mike and myself. A lifetime of faithfulness is seen in His goodness.

Hugs, Lynn